Gods own country.

Red Fort


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Heritage lighthouses to be developed as tourist spots. (NEWS)

The Union ministry of Tourism has agreed to provide Central Financial Assistance (CFA) for the development of heritage lighthouses as tourist destinations. The decision was made after a meeting between Dr K Chiranjeevi, Minister of State with independent charge for tourism, G K Vasan, Minister for Shipping and Milind Deora, Minister of State for shipping, communication & IT. The two Ministries will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the subject.
Of 15 heritage lighthouses having historical importance, in the first phase, Kanhoji Angre lighthouse in Maharashtra will be taken up for development. Mot Plants to support construction of a boat jetty and passenger terminal at Kanhoji Angre lighthouse.
The Kanhoji Angre island is located at about 9 nautical miles off Gateway of India. Once the jetty is built, locals, and domestic and international tourists will have a new option for a day-trip.
The three ministers were of the opinion that the idea of development of heritage lighthouses will not only protect national heritage but also help develop new tourist destinations. The development of lighthouses will evince interest among the youth in maritime history and development. The effort of developing heritage lighthouses into tourist destinations will also give an impetus to development of cruise tourism in India.
Courtesy : PTI

Monday, July 1, 2013


As we stepped out of the small lmphal Airport. we were reminded of the diversity of India. Coming from Nagpur where the temperature was at that time (May 29) around  47 degree, the cool breeze in lmphal was a pleasant  change. Airport was bustling with activity. yet no one was rushing about helter skelter; there was a sense of calm. 
The white complexioned people looked very different and  they were a very friendly lot. We were reminded of  India's diversity which is actually her strength. We are different, yet we all are one nation. It is very  important that we respect the identity of each Indian. People at the airport guided us in broken Hindi and tried to make us comfortable. Prof Ibohal Singh of Manipur University and Dr Narasingh of IPTA welcomed us with a warmth that brought cheer to all the visitors who were otherwise tired after a long flight. It must be mentioned here that the best way to visit Manipur is to reach lmphal by air either from New Delhi or Kolkata The adventurous can reach lmphal by a 14 hour road journey via Guwahati. Kohima or Dimapur. 

We were stationed in the Manipur University Guest House located in Conchipur on the southern flank of lmphal  city. On our first day we drove on the India-Myanmar highway to reach a small village named Khongjam where the statue of Shaheed Pouna Brajbhashi stands tall reminding us of the sacrifice our brethren have made to liberate our country from the yoke of the British Empire. A peace park is located just near the memorial.

On the way we passed through Thoubal, the constituency of the Chief Minister. We were surprised to find a huge market almost 500 mt long constructed by the State Government. We were told that even lmphal doesn't have such a long market!

At about 6 pm we reached the small village near Thoubal  to witness a Lai haroba Dance festival. All along we were able to see the nine hills that surround almost all of Manipur. As the international highway wound its way we could see beautiful Manipur villages with houses made of bamboo and mud. Almost every village had its pond as we find in the state of West Bengal.

One thing that attracts the attention of any visitor in Manipur is the total cleanliness. It is difficult to find filth strewn here  and there. Except the garbage heaps kept at the designated places we don't find litter. In one of his letters Jawaharlal Nehru has mentioned that he could not find a single Manipuri citizen in dirty clothes. Although the Manipuri men have adopted the western clothings. women (not teenagers) wear beautiful traditional ‘Half Sarees'.

As we entered the village. we were delighted by what we saw. About three hundred women. girls and about hundred boys, all attired in traditional Manipuri dresses were dancing in a large circle. Two singers. a male and a female were standing at the centre. The dance was led by six middle aged women whose dexterous hand movements were almost poetic. As we were the guests of the day, we were presented different types of fruits and flowers after an offering was made to the deity, College girls in Manfpuri sarees were a delightful sight. 

lnspite of the insurgency, common man in Manipur feels proud of being an Indian and connects well with Indians coming from other states. ln the evening an enchanting ballet was produced by the ’Manipuri Jagoi Marup' on the story of Kabuliwaia. There are a  number of ballet groups in Manipur who present mrmerous shows in and  around lmphal round the year. Historically Manipuris were warriors who did not bow even to the British Empire easily. Today the Manipuri ballets depict their courage and strengths of war. on the stage.

One very important destination in Manipur is Moirong. it is called the cradle of Manipuri culture. Situated 43 km to the south of lmphal, Moirong borders with the famous Loktak Lake. It was in Moirong where Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's confidant Col. Shaukat Ali Malik hoisted the Indian Tricolour for the first time. A befitting INA memorial has been built by the Govemment of lndia at that site that was inaugurated by our late Prime Minister Mrs hidira Gandhi in the year 1969. The museum showcases the whole life and struggle of Netaji and the INA during their fight against the British Empire. It is a national pilgrimage  site which every true lndia must visit atleast once in his life time!

On our retum we visited the famous Loktak Lake, the biggest fresh water lake in the North East.ltis 10 miles long and 5 miles wide.It is called a miniature Sea. A tourist home has been made on a small island called Sendra from where one can see the vast lake. There are three islands in the lake. There is a floating Keibul Lamjo National Park in the Loktak Lake which is home to the rare brow antler Sangai of which only 250 are in existence today. This is the only floating park in the world. You must have atleast two days in hand to see the beauty of this  beautiful lake. Sendra Tourist Home at Moirong situated just near the Loktak  Lake takes care of the lodging facility. Do not forget to enjoy the typical fish dishes of  Manipur eaten with rice and their own version of salad. The staple food of Manipur is rice but roti is provided on demand. While in lmphal a visit to Ima market is a must. lma means ‘Mother in Manipuri. This market is entirely run by senior women. in tact every town in Manipur has an lma Market. Traditionally the job of selling in Manipur was done by women only.  Surprisingly the Ima market was very peaceful. There was no solicitation, the mantra of marketing today elsewhere. Even bargaining is in a very friendly manner.

Another landmark in lmphal is the Kangla Fort. it was the Ancient Capital of Manipur till 1891 when the Manipur resistance was defeated by the British army after a bitterly fought battle. The British army was so troubled that it razed the entire Kangla fort to dust. Only some fragments of old fort remain. Today the entire area is developed restoring some of the old structures as a monument to the freedom fighters. A museum located in the fort takes us down the memory lane.

On our way back to the Airport Shri Sahu and myself agreed that in spite of being a tribal state Manipur society is a highly  cultured and a developed society, where women are respected and enjoy equal  status with men. No wonder one of the leading journals has recently reported that Manipur is the best place in India for a girl to take birth!

Maybe the nine hills that surround Manipur provide that heavenly grace and protection to the daughters there!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Inside Silent Valley

If you have been nurturing a dream for decades of seeing Silent Valley, when it actually unfolds before you in reality. it just might be a bit hard to believe! Its beauty could just leave you quiet...in the depths of silence. Silent Valley, spanning along the districts of Malapuram and Palakkad of Kerala, is considered one of the most ecologically diverse areas on the planet and the Silent Valley National Park (SVNP) is one of the few remaining tropical, evergreen, rainforests of the country supporting an amazing variety of life forms, of which many are endemic to the western ghats. About and 75- 80 % oi the land is covered with thick, woody vegetation and about 20 % by grasslands. It has thick undergrowth and huge trees vying with each other in their competition to catch the sun. It has heavy rains during the monsoons and is closed for tourism. The fauna comprises the endemic lion-tailed macaque, elephant, leopard,. tiger, Nilgiri tahr, Malabar giant squirrel, monitor lizards, deer, gaur etc. and a large population of birds like the hornbills, Malabar whistling thrush etc. The place is teeming with the more common birds like the drongos, tailorbirds, spotted dove, marble pigeon, koels etc. The lion-tailed macaque is a rare primate endemic to the south-westem ghats found only in the intact rainforests and Silent Valley is one of its last strongholds.

Your hired vehicle or bus from the Forest Office will usually have the driver double as your official guide, though, Lord help you. if he knows only the local language and therefore can't communicate with you...that can actually amount to murder of your trip...seriously! You start at 8 am for your trip to Sairandhri, 23 km from the Mukkali gate, on a stony. mugh path. On the way, shafts of sunlight seep through the trees in patches making vivid and weird, shadow patterns. There's the famous landmark which is a 250 year old Jackfruit tree on the way which the guide will show you with pride! You pass the tribal settlements in the valley and wonder how they live so far away in the back of beyond. Mind you, all the way you are actually travelling in the rain forests.

At Sairandhri there's a watch tower for tourists. If you can climb the 124 steps of this 30 mtr structure at an altitude of 1018 mtr, you will be greeted by heaven on earth! From here you get an awesome bird's eye view of the exquisite, verdant hills around and the Kunthi river and its hanging bridge down in the valley.

From Sairandhri you embark on your one km trek downhill on a rough pathway through the evergreen rainforest down to River Kunthi which you saw from the top of the tower. On the way you will see the richness as well as the fragility of the rainforests the latter because there are hardly any rainforests left in the world. You might just chance to see the lion-tailed macaquee(Macaca silenus) or atleast you'll get to see the trees of the fruit - locally called the mullan chakka fruit - its staple food which it loves. On the way, of course, you are very likely to pick up a leech or two on your exposed limbs without which an experience inside the rainforest is just not complete! A good way to ward them off is to tie salt into a large hanky and shake the creatures off your limbs. Kunthi river is one of the pristine, fresh water rivers in Kerala within the SV with an intact catchment forest. The river is the last point of the trek from where you get back.

Permission is required from the Kerala Forest Department for tourism inside SVNP. For the short one day trip usually taken by tourists, permission can be obtained on the spot at the Forest Department office at Mukkali. This trip includes a short trek of about 2 km to the hanging bridge at the Kunti River and back. Tourists are not allowed to stay in the valley and must return to Mukkali by evening. Unlike the central Indian parks where tourists take a morning and afternoon trip inside the forest, entry into the valley is allowed only from 8 am-2pm. You can stay at Mukkali at the Inspection Bungalow or other resorts or even at Mannarkad.

Silent valley is easily accessible from the major towns of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Coimbatore,  the nearest railway and airport in TN is 90 kms from Mukkali and Palakkad (Palghat), 60 km away, is the nearest railway station in Kerala. The route from Mannarkad to Mukkali is a one-hour memorable drive on an enchanting ghat section through dense forests. For a stay at Mukkali, reserve rooms in advance through the Forest dept. Or you can stay at Mannarkkad and hire a jeep to reach Mukkali by 8 am. The visit to the Valley and Kunthi river will take only a day, and you can return to Palakkad the same evening.

The ‘Silent’ in Silent Valley has several connotations. The area is locally known as Sairandhrivanam', literally meaning in Malayalam Sairandhri's Forest. When the Pandavas, deprived of their kingdom, were sent on a 14-year exile, they halted beside a river here. Sairandhri was the name Draupadi adopted while she remained in disguise as queen Sudeshna's assistant, when in exile. A story attributes the name to the anglicisation of Sairandhri.

The British named the area Silent Valley because of a perceived absence of noisy cicadas; however, the cicada, as in other forests, has become ubiquitous here too, brought in, they say, by biotic pressures and climate change. Yet another story refers to the Latin name of the presence here of many lion-tailed macaques - Macaca 'silenus'.

In 1914 the forest of the Silent Valley area was declared a Reserve Forest. In 1973, India's fiercest environmental debate was raised by environmentalists, when the Kerala State Electricity Board decided to implement the Silent Valley Hydro-Electric Project (SVHEP) centered on a dam across the Kunthipuzha River. The reservoir would flood 8.3 sq. km of virgin rainforest and threaten the endemic and endangered lion-tailed macaque. In 1983, Indira Gandhi, decided to abandon the Project and on November 15 the Silent Valley forests were declared as a National Park. On September 7, 1985 the Silent Valley National Park was formally inaugurated and a memorial at Sairandhri to Indira Gandhi was unveiled by Sri. Rajiv Gandhi. On September 1, 1986 Silent Valley National Park was designated as the core area of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Since then, a long-term conservation effort has been undertaken to preserve the Silent Valley ecosystem.

‘Silence’ could have other shades of meaning as well. Silent Valley, exquisite in all its manifestations, could just leave you speechless! On the other hand, that this heaven on earth is sometimes threatened by the dams that spell imminent doom, could leave you speechless too. Go take a look while this rich storehouse of biodiversity still belongs to nature.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Butterfly park to spread wings

THE only butterfly park in east India will soon become more colourful with authorities planning to breed more species of the winged insect. The park situated inside the premises of the Tata Steel Zoological Society here presently breeds 12 species of butterflies. The director of Tata Steel Zoological Society (TSZS). Butterflies play an important role as a pollinator. a food source and indicator of the well-being of the ecosystem. Set up four-and-a-half years ago, the park hosts more than 25 species. 12 of them being bred in its premises. The 12 comprise regional and pan-India varieties. Common Mormon. Common Crow. Plain Tiger, Common caster and emigrant were among the 12 species being bred round the year in the park. No other park in the country breeds so many species and they are now aiming to develop the park into a conservatory for butterfly breeding, They pointed out that the availability of a variety of plants. facilitating breeding of butterfly species, was one of the reason why the authorities decided to develop the park as a conservatory for breeding. Noting that majority of the butterfly parks in the country are either closed or are on the verge of closure for various reasons including improper up-keep. Round-the-clock monitoring and proper maintenance was done at the facility. This has been acknowledged by officials of the Central Zoo Authority, who paid a visit to the park recently. the official said. "As butterflies feed on nectar, we have to take special care lo arrange for larvae feeding plants and artificial food suitable for them, S K Mahto. curator of the butterfly park," said. They said that  last year a whopping 4.5 lakh people visited the park and it is likely to touch five lakh this year. The park which is part of the Tata Steel Zoological Park will double up as the breeding centre and also play an important role in main-taining the ecosystem. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Maharashtra Govt. to start Luxury bus service to boost Konkan tourism.

With an aim to attract foreign tourists, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has decided to start a luxury bus service to Konkan from Mumbai and Pune. MTDC has purchased five such Volvo buses which have facilities like chemical toilets, fridge, oven, Wi-Fi at a cost of Rs. 5.48 crore. The tourists packages will be for three or five days. Private operations will be roped in for conducting the tours and an MoU will be signed between MTDC and the operator. Competitive bids have been invited and MTDC hopes that the bus service will start commercial operations in the first week of January, said sources in the tourism Departments.
The sightseeing packages will include all tourism sites on Mumbai-Sindhudurg and Pune-Sindhudurg routes. From Mumbai, the bus will halt at Raigad, Harihareshwar, Chiplun, Ganpati Pule, Pawas, Ratnagiri, Kunkeshwar, Tarkarli, Malwan, Sawantwadi and then return to Mumbai. Similarly, the Pune route will cover Kolhapur, Sawantwadi, Tarkarli, Malwan, Kunkeshwar, Ganpati Pule, Pawas and Ratnagiri. The bus will again come to Ganpati Pule, proceed to Pawan Khind, Panhala Fort, Jyotiba Mandir and return to Pune.
Ticket fares will be fixed after competitive bids are finalised, sources informed. The tourist package will cover temples, beaches in the Konkan region. Every year approximately 14 lackh foreign tourists arrive in Mumbai and then proceed to different parts of the country.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


A Mandapam (hall) with 1000 pillars is the grand architechtural treasure of many south Indian temples. In some cases it can be as big as the one with literally miles of corridors like the grand 1000 pillar hall at Ramanathaswami temple at Rameshwaram (known as the longest corridor in the world) and some as concise and precise as the one of the Hanamkonda Temple of Lord Shiva at Warangal, where the pilgrim is surprised that it can contain 1000 pillars. (A portion containing 400 pillars was recently dismantled by the temple mandapams have elaborately and exquisitely carved pillars, like the one at Sri Ranganatha Temple at Srirangam, where the pillars are more than 20 feet high.
Then there are Jain temples in Karnataka with 1000 pillars as in the temple at Moodbidri. Strangely enough, as at present, the most famous temple in South India, namely that of Lord Balaji in Tirupati has no 1000 pillar hall, the Architectural Survey of India, having dismantled it few years ago due to unsafe conditions. It is a great surprise that the Balaji Temple, with the maximum number of pilgrims in India and with a revenue of Rs. 1,700 crore per annum, could not repair its grand 1000 pillar hall. It appears that some of the temple trustees, felt that instead of the 1000 pillar hall, the space could be used for a wide courtyard (Prakaram), which could be utilised for commercial purpose!
The  Thousand Pillar Temple in Hyderabad is a specimen with the Kakatiyan form of architecture in the 12th century. This temple with its ruins lies near the Hanamkonda-Warangal highway, abut 150 kms from Hyderabad. you can get a first hand view of the dynasty's taste for sculpture in Veyyi Stambhala Gudi or 1000 pillar Temple. It has a catchy and apt name. Are there thousand pillars? Yes there are - of many varieties and sizes; some of them are even part of others! Enter the temple, you will see four magnificent pillars supporting the natya mandapam (dance floor), each richly carved with exquisite designs. A pillar has multiple designs, 2 cms to about 30 cms, on the perimeter of circular pillar. They used designs of jewellery of the age. Chains, bangles, rings, crowns and Kakatiya Dynasty's symbol. Kalisam (ceremonial vessel). can be seen one after another on each pillar. The design also had flowers finely carved. So fine, the sculptures have carved gap between petals. A guide showed us such gaps by inserting a tiny stick into those holes. "This is how fine Kakatiya's sculptures are."
The Aiyaram Kaal Mandapam or 1000 pillar hall of Meenakshi temple at Madurai is of very high sculptural importance as it contains 985 (instead of 1000) magnificently carved pillars and maintained by the ASI. These pillars have been so arranged that from whatever angle one looks from within, the pillars look in rows. The 1000 pillar hall is supposed to have been built by Arya Natha Mudaliyar, the PM of the first Nayaka of Madurai (1559-1600 AD). An equestrian stature of the Mudaliyar flanks one side of the steps leading to the mandapam. each pillar is sculptured and is a monument of the Dravidian art. There is a temple art museum in this hall where you can see icons, photographs, drawings, etc, exhibiting the temple's history. Just outside this mandapam, towards the west, are the musical pillars. Each pillar when stuck, produces a different musical note. About an hour from the city of Mangalore, is Moodbidri, which has been an embodiment of some of the architectural wonders of jainism. Here is the world's unique and maginficent Jain Temple, the thousand pillar  basadi, which is located in the man city, and which lends particular enchantment to the city of Moodbidri. The temple was contructed in 3 stages. In its first stage in 1430 AD, the main building, which forms the first main part of the temple, houses the idol of Chandranatha Swamy (Thirtankara, who is the temple deity) was constructed. In the second stage which began in 1451 AD, the Bhairadevi Mandapa, which is the second main part of the temple, was constructed. The third stage of construction began in 1462 AD, when Nagala Devi, wife of King Bhairava, who was a Jain ruler, decided to constructManasthambha memorial pillar, which constitutes the third main part of the temple. Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani, Chaityalaya and Hosa Basadi are the other names of the 1000 pillar Basadi. Out of the huge temple only 1/3rd is allowed to be seen non-Jains. Non-Jains are not allowed to enter the first and second floors of the temple.
The famous Shri Shiva Nataraja temple at Chidambaram Tamil Nadu, is also called Shri Sabhanayaka Temple. In the fourth prakara (a large passage surrounding the sanctrum) there is raja sabha (royal hall), also called 1000 pillar Hall which symbolises the yogic chakra of thousand pillared lotus or Sahasraram at the crown of the head and is a seat where the sould unites with God. This chakra is represented as a 1000-petalled lotus. Meditating by concentrating at the sahasraram chakra is said to lead to a state of union with the divine force and is the pinnacle of yogic practice. The hall is open only on festive days.
At the Sri Ranganath Swamy Temple at Sri Rangam (the largest temple in India) the Hall of 1000 pillars (actually 953) is a fine example of planned theatre-like structure. The 1000-pillared hall made of granite was constructed in the Vijayanagara period (1336-1565) on the site of the old temple. The pillars consist of sculptures of horses with riders on their backs trampling with their hoofs upon the heads of tigers. In addition to these famous shrines, there are lesser known temples in South India with 1000 pillar halls. Built during various eras in Indian history, these temples are grand examples of stone art in India.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Big push to Tourism in Agra

With night landing facilities and Instrument Landing System (ILS) now operational at the Kheria airport here, the Taj city's tourism industry is hoping for an increased influx of foreign tourists. "Some international chartered flights have landed and we hope to see more on a regular basis. A few bottlenecks remain which. I'm sure, will be sorted out soon," said city's tourism industry expert Rajiv Tiwari. "Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh is taking a keeninterest and has written to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister to set in motion the process of land acquisition on a priority basis for the new civil terminal at Kheria." said Agra Development foundation chairman K.C. Jain.
Jain said the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had identified 55 acres of land near Kheria Airport. "If this land is handed over to the authority, contruction of the new terminal can begin any day. Ajit Singh is keen on this". Jain Said.
He said the civil aviation minister had written to cheif minister to expedite the land acquisition process. 
Industry sources said some 500 international chartered flights are likely to land at Kheria in the next couple of months. A senior executive of a travel company told : "The tourist season lasts till March end. By then we should be flooded with foreign tourists. Due to economic pressures, a large number of western tourists are finding India much cheaper, affordable and attractive compared to other destinations."
He added : "we have seen a decline of around 42 percent in foreign tourists, but with the ILS now operational, we should see tourists flocking to Agra. In Addition to the daily evening show Mohabbat at the Taj Mahal, we will soon have a hot air baloon to enable tourists to see the monument from the sky and a regular show of classical Indian dances in the afternoon."
The Delhi-Agra Yamnua Expressway has also opened up immense opportunies for the hospitality industry here.
"Since Aug. 9 when it opened, we have seen a massive influx of domestic tourists from Delhi. Everyone wants to see the expressway. So they all land up in Agra, see the Taj Mahal and return the same evening. If not hotels, at least hawkers, 'pethawalas' (sweetmeat makers) and handicrafts emporiums are gaining from sales." said hotelier Surendra Sharma.
As tourists pour in, the traffic system and hygiene have come under fire from the tourism industry. 
"It takes less than two hours from Noida to the Kuberpur intersection. From there, it takes an eternity for vehicles to reach the Taj Mahal. The Yamuna Kinara road needs beter policing and maintenance." said Rakesh Chauhan, President of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association.
Author : Brij Khandelwal

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mesmerizing Kailash-Mansarovar

Purple mountains, pristine blue waters, the perfect white snow, mesmerizing landscapes and serenity in the thin air welcomes you to this God's country. An undiscovered and untouched land Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar in Tibet is every traveler's paradise. As soon as one reaches Kathmandu and starts transceding towards Tibet, one gets a sense of how exciting this journey shall be. After crossing the Nepal Chinese borders we enter into Tibet where the local land cruisers play the traditional Chinese folk songs; well, communicating with locals is surely not easy.
As one starts ascending to the higher altitudes of Tibet, the air becomes thinner and breathing difficult yet the myriad landscapes are truly breathtaking; literally. We come across the beautiful small towns of Nyalam, Dongpa, Saga where one can hire decent and cheap accommodations and stay overnight. Altitude sickness and dizziness are a common phenomenon but once you look at the 'painting like world' you will let that pass.
A few days of ascending into Tibet and finally your body shall become friendly with the altitude. Located in the far reaches of western Tibet, just north of Nepal and India, is one of the most sacred mountains in the world; Mt. Kailash. For the last two thousand years, people from all parts of India, the Himalayan kingdoms of Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, Kashmir and Laddakh, Central Asia and from even further have devotedly as well as adventurously made the journey to Kailash.
Lying to the south of Mt. Kailash are two lakes. The western lake is known as Rakshas Tal. However, its neighbouring lake to the east, Manasarovar, is by far the more significant of the two in a spiritual sense. Lake Manasarovar is frequented by pilgrims almost as often as Mt. Kailash, and it is associated with many myths and religious.
The limpid blue to the emerald green colours of the lake in contrast to the arid landscape immediately around it and the silver mountains beyond make the lake a highly praised destination for pilgrims. Lake Manasarovar is at an altitude of 14,950 feet above sea level, and is noted as the highest body of fresh water in the world.
For many travelers the very sight of Mt. Kailash and the sacred lake Manasarovar has been an emotional journey for its sheer magnificence and aura. It is believed that the journey to this sacred abode is a spiritual journey of discovering one'sown being. There is no place more powerful for practice more blessed, or more marvelous than their abode of God.
The Parikrama around Mt. Kailash is a three day long and 52 km. trek that passes through some of the most secluded regions of Tibet. There are Yaks and Porters to help the Pilgrims through this tough terrain. The trek trail is usually pretty straight with occasional valleys and troughs. The testing factor is the continuous chilly winds, lack of oxygen and highly unpredictable weather. One only needs to pray that there are no rains as we need to cross river and walk on the snow patches for several km.
The Parikrama starts from Yamadwar and one crosses many beautiful places on the way. There is Shivastal - a place where pilgrims leave some of their belongings as offerings. Gouri Kund (5,608 mts.) is a group of five small kunds of different shapes containing emerald green water. It is also called 'the lake of compassion' where Parvati would go to bathe. Further, the various faces of Mt. Kailash are truly special in their own ways the west face, the north face and the south face.
One needs to be healthy state of mind and body for this may prove to be one of the most challenging experiences ever. However the satisfaction of having 'been there and done that' is beyond words. One needs to experience it and know what it is like 'to skip a heartbeat' at the most spectacular sight. One should also remember to spend a night or two at the most beautiful Manasarovar lake. The lakes beauty grows on to you with each passing moment and just feels like gaping at it for as long as forever.
Whatever be one's motivation-adventurous or religious, the Kailash-Manasarovar Sojourn is an experience of a life-time and surely brings one closer to understanding own self.
As is the belief that the truth of life is incomplete without self-discovery; 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram' - Truth is Eternal and Beautiful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Omkareshwar : A Spiritual Odyssey

Aquaint spiritual town offering you even quainter images of peddlers selling religious paintings and kitschy idols, malas and garlands, jewellery and toys and innumerable road side shops peddled on the steps to the holy Narmada River. This is Omkareshwar beatifically packed in hillock shaped like 'OM' and thus came the name Omkareshwar. Lying as a secluded island packed with natural beauty and holiness in the air to speak of, Omkareshwar presents a picturesque image one could only see in the most creative of landscapes drawn by most artistic of painters.
The magic of the image drawn from the MP tourism's Narmada resort with the temple on the other side of the river; its replection flickering with the waves of the river, the mammoth Omkareshwar Dam on one side and the dim lights of the distant and myriads of temples filling up the night sky is inescapable and unforgettable.
Omkareshwar is among the twelve jyotirlingas, a sacred shrine for Hindus but is also a lot of things unspoken of. This small sleepy town owes its existance in the travel books due to the jyotirlinga. As to who constructed the temple and when is all shrouded in mystery. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple is said to be originally a small temple and the major extensive part was later constructed. One very conspicuous thing about the temple is that the sanctum sanctorum and the main deity are neither in the front of the main door nor below the higher Shikhar. A priest there would be quick to tell you that the jyotirlinga is a swayambhu meaning that it appeared all by itself. The interesting thing about the temple is that pujas are done here three times a day - the first by temple trust, second by the Scindia Samaj and the third by the Holkar samaj.
While Jyotirlinga is most often the obvious reason for pilgrims to come to this place, the Mamleshwar Jyotirlinga on the other side of the river to Omkareshwar offers a striking  architectural stone work. One definitely need a photographer's eye to enjoy this. But the real vista comes as one crosses to the other side on a boat where the Omkareshwar Dam waits to portray the prettiest picture drawn on the watery canvas of River Narmada. As the steamer struggles to move, you feel closer to the prowess of the harmless looking water as it roars past you.
Numerous shops wait for you on the steps of the river. A right turn and you head towards the Omkarshwar and a left takes you on the parikrama route (circumabulatory path) - a 10 km stretch to be covered on foot. Seems a bit strenuous exercise as one moves from the river banks to the hill top at 300 mts. but equally enjoyable and thrilling. Myriads of temples significant and less significant gild your way. Half-way on the parikrama route comes the sangam the confluence of Narmada and Kabeni - the holy point for mingling of the holy waters. Even the daily ritual of hundreds of pilgrims bathing at this holy point seems nothing less than a happening. You can-not afford to miss the small temples on the way adjusting them in the spiritual aura of this place. Even if you are intersted in these ubiquitous temples, keep taking side turns for the kaleidoscopic natural portrait this place draws for you with the indecisive turns of Narmada and the hills painted in the colour of green staging a natural holi before you. It is a colour palette set before you. As you ascend the hills the picturesque image gets brighter and more enchanting.
Passing through the Omkar Math, Patali Hanuman Mandir and Barfani Gufa and a durshan of the Gauri Mahadev Mandir with a six feet tall Shiva Linga, the parikrama ends with the Sidhinath temple and there you see the Hindu style mixing with the Carnatic style. This is one of the most architecturally inspiring temples. It is one the plateau on the island hill supported by a huge plinth with all its four sides carved with singular correctness and excellence of attitudes.
The beauty of Omkareshwar doesn't die with temples, in its uncovered layers is hidden some history, some mythology. As one descends from the Siddhinath temple towards the jhoola which connects the island to the main land, one comes across numerous ruins said to be of the Mahabhart era; the worth mentioning of them being the Arjun-Bheema dwar. The strategic place at which it is located offers the closest and the most elegant look of the dam. You can just spend hours looking and pondering about the unimaginable power of the gushing water as the dam opens its gates declaring its unchallanged control over the island. The feeling is like being send to the territory of dragong where you can just admire the sheer power of the creature. As you go down the stairs towards the jhoola, you can lend your ears to the roars of water declaring that you are but in its territory.
Stranded markets left to be adjusted at the mercy of the water level, the delicate sound of the bells in the temple voicing above the thurnderous roar of the mighty, untamed Narmada, the natural surroundings guarding the packs of spirituality and history lost in shrouds of mystery, the rustic lifestyle which seems more defined when embellished with tilak, malas, bhajans and agarbattis and the temple becoming synonymous to the identity of the place - Omkareshwar is a place to visit. Not just the spiritual completeness, the place offers you the untouched natural settings and the rustiness for you to carry along with yours.
Source : The Hitwada

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tourist Places in North East India - Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh is known as ‘Land of Rising Sun’ is among the one of the state of North East India. Arunachal Pradesh find mention in the literature of Kalika Purana and Mahabharata and supposed to be the Prabhu Mountains of the Puranans. It’s been told that Sage Parshurama washed away his sin, Vyasa mediatated, King Bhishmaka founded his kingdom and Lord Krishna married his consort Rukmini. Arunachal Pradesh is famous for its rich cultural heritage, invites you to relax in its picturesque hills and valleys, enjoy its salubrious climate and meet its simple and hospitable people, with their glorious heritage of arts and crafts and colorful festivals that reflect their ancient faith in the inexorable power of nature encircled on the three sides by Bhutan, China and Myanmar. Each of the attractions in Arunachal Pradesh is at par. The wavering rivers, the snow clad mountains, the stubborn plains, exclusive flora and fauna, the habtat of wind savages, the thick woodlands, the tribal terrains. Nature has provided the people with deep sense of beauty which finds delightful expression in their songs, dances and crafts. The climate varies from hot and humid to heavy rainfall in the Shivalik range. It becomes progressively cold as one moves northwards to higher altitudes. Arunachal Pradesh is also considered to be the “Nature’s Treasure Trove”.  Among the thousands of species of orchids as many as 600 species of orchid are found in Arunachal Pradesh of India. The foreign tourists of Arunachal Pradesh require a Restricted Area Permit and the Indian tourists need an Inner Line Permit.

Tawang : The land of the Monpa and Sherdukpen tribes with centuries-old monastery, Dragon gates, hundred pristine lakes and numerous waterfalls, situated high up in the misty-eyed Eastern Himalaya. 

Tawang Monastery : Tawang is famous for its 400 years old Buddhist Monastery locally called Gumpha.

Around Tawang  : Se La Pass, Lies on the way to Tawang .The World's Second highest Pass, the Sela Pass at 4,125 meter, which runs through a small ridge and along a placid lake called the Paradise Lake , in India.  

Bomdila : The headquarters of West Kameng district is situated at a height of 2,530 metres. Offers spectacular panoramic views of Himalayan landscapes and snow clad mountains. Bomdila, lies amidst apple orchards, wild orchids, forests and cascading waterfalls.

Around Bomdila  : Bhalukpong a beautiful picnic spot was the capital of Bhaluka, the grandson of King Bana. This beautiful place lies at 64km from Tezpur on the foot of Aka Hills (Arunachal Pradesh). The remains of the fortification of the kings are still visible. 

Itanagar : A modern settlement built in the vicinity of the ruins of a medieval capital. The capital of Arunachal Pradesh, it is a beautiful historic city, also known as 'the Land of the Dawnlit Mountains '. It is located to the east of Tawang and has been identified with Mayapur, a city of the 14th or 15th century A.D. Itafort is a historical fort situated at the heart of the capital complex in Papum Pare District. 
Around Itanagar : Naharlagun, situated at a distance of 10km from Itanagar, is a twin town of Itanagar. One can visit the Zoo, Craft Centre, and Polo Park. The place is ideal for trekking, hiking, boating and canoeing on the River Ganga and angling on the River Dikrong.

Ziro : A picturesque valley of the Apatani plateau to the north of Itanagar. The valley is surrounded pine covered mountains. The place is the home of Apatani tribes. High altitude fish farm, Pine Bamboo groves, villages, indigenous method of rice cultivation, craft centre are the major attraction of the place. The smell of the mist, the taste of the breeze and the sound of the forest make it worth travel. The place is an Anthropologist's delight.  

Around Ziro : Talley Valley, t ale in Apatani dialect is the name of a plant and to many other tribes the word means paradise. Talley valley is 30 kms from Hapoli (Ziro) the densely populated township in the Apatani Plateau and the headquarters of the Lower Subansiri District.

Daporijo : Daporijo is a large village town situated at the confluence of the Sippi and Subansiri rivers. It is the District Headquarters of Upper Subansiri district and is situated on the right bank of River Subansiri.  

Along:  On way to Along one can see the historical Malinithan temple. The Legendary Akashi Ganga, a point from which one gets an unusual over view of the Bhramhaputra and its tributaries. Mithun and Jersey cross breeding farm at Kamki, 25 kms from here is another interesting visit.

Pasighat :  Headquarters of East Siang district, situated on the right bank of river Siang. Siang is the name of river Bhramhaputra in Arunachal Pradesh. A visit to Dr. D. Ering Wildlife Sanctuary where wild buffalos, tigers, samber deer and wild ducks are found in plenty is a must. Other places of interest are the surrounding villages and the Emporium. Pasighat is Ideal for river rafting, boating, angling, trekking and hiking. The Bhramhaputra Darshan, festival has become a bi-annual fest.

How to Reach :
By Rail : Well connected with rest of India. The closest railway station is Harmuty located at a distance of 33 km from Itanagar the capital of state.
By Air : The Nearest airport is Lilabari airport of Assam.
By Road : Well connected by buses provided by Arunachal State Transport and Private transport companies. A direct bus facility from Guwahati (381 km), Shillong (481 km), Tezpur (216 km), Dibrugarh (375 km), Tinisukia (415 km), Jorhat (245 km), Nagaon (275 km), Namsai (495 km) connects to Itanagar.
Best Time to Visit : October to April

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Famous tourist places in North-East India.

India is divided mainly into four zones. i.e. East zone, West zone, North zone and South zone. But East zone is further subdivided into North east zone which consist of states namely Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura. In recent years one more state is included in the North-East zone of India is Sikkim to promote tourism. Hence North East India is now consist of eight states (seven sisters and one brother)
North east India never been in focus it deserves in respect of the growth and promotion of tourism like other states. This is all due to the lack of promotions and publicity by the media and the state governments. But in recent years after analysing the potential of tourism in these states government of India and many other agencies have taken the necessary steps to promote.
North-East part of India is blessed with various natural resources which include forest woods, coal, oil, tea, scenic beauty which includes mountains, hills, rivers and streams and forests with rich flora and founa containing numbers of animals some of which are very rate and listed into the endangered species by UNO. Assam is the biggest tea producing state in the world and produced some of the finest quality of tea leaves in the world.

Derived from Sanskrit word 'ASOMA' the "Peerless" land, is an entryway to the North East India. This state is famous for vibrant landscape, woods, streams, flora and fauna and above all affectionate people.  Abode of one horned rhino, blue rivers and red mountains, aromatic tea gardens make Tourism in Assam a special experience. Assam bears a testimony of rich cultural heritage through its temples, monuments, and torrential Brahmaputra River. It is legendary state in terms of traditions and civilization and hence makes for an amzing experience - in short Assam tourism is must for an incredible travel experience!. 

Famous cities of Assam : Guwahati, Barpeta, Dibrugarh, Silchar, Majuli, Hajo, Sibsagar, Tawang, Tezpur,  

How to Reach Assam
Rail: Assam is well connected with rest of India. Rajdhani Express from Delhi will take you to Guwahati in about 24 to 36 hours. 
Air: Guwahati, Tezpur, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Lakimpur, Silchar are the Airports that provide Air Connectivity to Assam. 
Road: A web of bus network operates around the by private transporters and Assam State Transport Corporation.
Best time to visit: Assam tourism is best in the months of October to March. 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Travel to Manali of Himachal Pradesh, The Famous Hill Station

The busy Himachal Pradesh hill station Manali is one of the most popular North India travel destinations and a starting point for travel to the Himalayas. Located in the foots of the Himalayas, Manali is one of North India’s best known hill stations and attracts both foreign visitors and domestic holidaymakers. It has for long been a favourite with international backpackers and is also a popular destination for Indian tourists on honeymoons and family holidays.
Things to Do in and Around Manali : Manali attracts visitors with stunning mountain views and opportunities for trekking, rafting, paragliding, mountaineering and mountain biking. Manali is a good base for exploring the beautiful Kullu and Parvati Valleys and a starting point for travel to the more remote areas in Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti. The nearby Rohtang La, a 3978 m high mountain pass, is a popular daytrip destination especially amongst Indian visitors.
Finding Accommodation in Manali : The modern town centre, New Manali, is filled with new hotels, shops, markets and other businesses and services. Domestic tourists tend to stay in the hotels in New Manali, but most backpackers head to Old Manali or nearby Vashist. Both Old Manali and Vashist offer a choice of cheap guesthouses, restaurants that serve Western food, bakeries, Internet cafes, travel agents and other services designed for the international backpacker market, but in a less hectic environment than the busy town centre.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Gwalior - The Royal Tourist Place

Gwalior in Madhya Predesh state is a heritage location. The history of this city has been moulded by imperial reigns by Rajput clans of the Pratiharas, Kachchwahas and Tomars. You will be transported to the royal world of royals, kings and palanquins while exploring the palaces, forts and temples. Tourism in Madya Pradesh receives a cultural dimension with the tour to Gwalior. Gwalior also grabs prominence among the tourists for its art and handicraft products. This city imbibes its name and saint Gwalipa. The saint had cured Suraj Sen, the head of a clan of leprosy, who in turn established Gwalior.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Allahabad - Confluence of Holy Tourist Places

Allahabad is only place where the remains of the dead take rest and leave for the ethereal abode, and get rid of their eternal cycle of birth and rebirth. Allahabd is also the land where some of India's most charismatic people have either taken birth or made it their Permanent abode. Situated in Utar Pradesh, at a distance of 238 km from the state capital Lucknow, Allahabad is one of the holiest cities of India and prominent centre for culture, administration and education....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tourist Place - Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer, The famous Tourist Place, the birth place of Emperor Akbar is famour for its carved mansions and Jain temples. Even during the British days Jaisalmer was the last to sign the document of compromise with the British regime.
Jaisalmer Fort : With its golden sheen this fort is visible from miles away. Satyajit Ray has produced a film titled Sonar Kila (Golden Fort) which is based on this fort. This fort is roughly 100 meters above the ground level. Ganesh Pole is the main point of entrance to the fort. Ohter major entrance points include Suraj Pole, Bhuta Pole and Hawa Pole. There are number of Jain Temples in the inner circle. Manka Chowk and Havelis are the hub of market activities of local main market. Manak Chowk is the gateway to those alleys where famous carved mansions can be seen. The Haveli of Nathmaji, the Haveli of the Patvas and the Havelis of Saleemsingh are among the famous ones. Apart from this Amar Sagar, Bada Bagh, Mool Sagar, Loduva, Aakal Saim and Dnels, National Park are among other sites of outing....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tourist Place Sanchi - Masterpieces of Buddhist Art

The famous tourist place in India, Sanchi is known for its Stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. world renowned stupa of Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site for tis archaeological and historical monuments. The most famous of these monuments, the Sanchi Stupa 1, was originally built by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, the then governor of Ujjayini, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant from adjacent Vidisha. Their son Mahindra and daughter Sanghamitra were born in Ujjayini and sent to Sri Lanka, where they converted the King, the Queen and their people to Buddhism.
The Sanchi hill goes up in shelves with stupa 2 situated on lower shelf, Stupa 1, Stupa 3, the 5th century Gupta Temple No 17 and the 7th century temple No. 18 are on the intermediate shelves and a later monastery is on the crowning shelf. The balustrade surrounding Stupa 2, carved with aniconic representations of the Budha, was added in the late 2nd century BC unde rthe Satavahanas. The adjacent Gupta Temple No. 17 was hailed by Sir John Marshall as one of the most rationally organized structures in Indian architecture. Though small, it was a herald of all the principles which went into the engineering of an Indian temple in the early medievel period. The Buddhas in the perambulatory surrounding Stupa 1 are not contemporary with the Stupa but beling to the Gupta period in the mid 5th century AD. The monastery and the temple with the tall pillars adjacent to Stupa 1 and the temple near the monastery on the crowning shelf illustrate the evolution of the architectural form after the 5th century Gupta temple. Below the hill, the Archaeological Survey of India Museum houses some of th earliest known stone sculptures in Indian art from the 3rd to the 1st century BC.Great Stupa No. 1 The oldest stone stucture in India. 36.5 mt in diameter and 16.4 mt high, with massive hemispherical dome, the stupa stands in eternal majesty, the paved procession path around it worn smooth by centuries of pilgims.
The Eastern Gateway : Depicts the young prince, Gautama leaving his father's palace on his journey towards enlightenment and the dream his mother had before his birth.
The Western Gateway : Depicts the seven incarnations of the Buddha.
The Northern Gateway : Crowned by a wheel-of-law this depicts the miracles associated with the Buddha as told in the jatakas.
The Southern Gateway : The birth of Gautama is revealed in a series of dramatically rich carvings.
Stupa No. 2 : The stupa stands at the very edge of the hill and its most striking feature is the stone balustrade that rings it.
Stupa No. 3 : Situated close to the great stupa. The hemispherical dome is crowned, as a mark of its special religious significance, with an umbrella of polished stone. The relics of Sariputta and Mahamogallena, two of the Buddha's earliest discriples, were found in its inmost chamber.
The Ashoka Pillar : Lies close to the Southern gateway of the Great Stupa, and is one of the finest examples of the Ashokantions and exquisite structural balance.
The Buddhist Vihara : The sacred relics of the Satdhara STupa, a few km away from Sanchi, have been enshrined in a glass casket on a platform in the inner sanctum of his modern monastery.
The Great Bowl : Carved out of one block of stone, this mammoth bowl contained the food that was distributed among the monks of Sanchi.
The Gupta Temple: In ruins now, this 5th century AD temple is one of the earliest known examples of temple architecture in India.
The Museum : The Archaeological Survey of India maintains a site museum at Sanchi. Noteworthy antiquities on display include the lion capital of the Ashokan pillar and metal objects used by monks, discovered during excavations at Sanchi.
How to reach : Bhopal the capital city of Madhya Pradesh is the nearest airport to sanchi. Which is served by several airlines. Sanchi to Bhopal is 46 Km.. A well laid rail network link to Bhopal.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ajanta Elora

AJANTA ELORA, The tourist place near Aurangabad, the Historic city, in the state of Mahrashtra. The caves made are really beautiful. The great architecture were built thousands years ago. The stones are carved into many deities, like Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Buddha etc. The most amazing I like in the caves is Temple of Shiva. Wonderful, wonderful and wonderful. Nearly 200 meters high temple. And it is carved out of single stone. Believe it or not. There are several sculptures in the temple. The entire mahabharata and Ramayana is carved on the walls of temple.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Great Architecture Akshardham, New Delhi

Akshardham Temple in New Delhi, the famous tourist place, every one will glad to travel, is dedicated to 18th century saint 'Swaminarayan'. The followers of this holy saint is believe that Swaminarayan was an incarnation of god and hence worship him with great devotion. Designed in typical Indian style of architecture, it is an architectural marvel of Delhi. Made out of red sand stone, there are hundreds of pillars, domes, windows, built with the help of 3 million man power in five years. The great pleasure for tourist.
This grand edifice sprawls over an area of over 100 acres, which consists of 234 ornately carved pillars, 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrangle shikhars, a Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants) and 20,000 murtis and statues of India's great sadhus, devotees, acharyas and divine personalities. Constructed of pink sandstone from Rajasthan and white marble from Italy. The pink stone symbolizes Bhakti (Devotion) in eternal bloom while the white marble stands for absolute purity and eternal peace. The temple has been constructed without using a single iron rod. It's just the fine placement of these stones that provide strength to the building.As one enters the grand monument, its huge pink sandstone domes seem sprouting above the banks of Yamuna River. Each wall, pillar, surface and dome is adorned with statuary fairies, peacocks, elephants, cows and vines. They aspire so lively that none can keep his eyes off this marvelous structures of beauty. With sprawling gardens and majestic fountains, one would never wish to leave the place and would love to rest here, forever.Also pronounced as devotional Disneyland, there are a number of attractions within the temple like sound and light show, 3-d animated studio and exhibition halls. By spending a few rupees, you can have a vie of these paid attractions. One can follow the story of Bhagwat Geeta with walkie-talkie mannequins. Following the crowd, one would feel like experiencing a roller coater ride and would be electrified with devotion with which people visit this place and worship here. During the weekends, there is a mad rush to have a glimpse of Swaminarayan. There are images and idols of various Hindu Gods and Goddesses that have been kept inside the temple. Brilliant walkways lead to the large halls, where these idols have been placed interestingly.