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Top four places to visit during winter season

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Winters are considered as the best time for spending your holidays and refreshing you mood and energize yourself. If you love traveling then this article is for you. Here is the list of some places which you can consider for this winter season.

hampiHampi: It is locate in the northern part of Karnataka and basically it is a village which is a heritage site and also tops the list of world heritages sites in India. Many foreigners visit this ruined village each year and November is the best time to visit this place.

You can visit the Hanuman Temple, Vijaya Vittala Temple, Krishna Temple, Virupaksha Temple.

It is well connected with all modes of transportation so it is quite comfortable to reach this place from Hospet, Hubli and Belgaum.

gir-lionGir: It is famous for its wildlife sanctuary and again November is the time when you can enjoy this awesome place which spread over 1412 square kms. Gir forests are world famous for its royal looking lions and diverse flora and fauna.

Nearest station and airport is Diu and Junagadh

jaisalmerJaisalmer: You can see the golden desert in winter and it is the place where you can the desert which we have been seeing in the movies. The yellow sands, camel safari and camping will give you entirely a different experience.

You can checkout Patwon Ki Haveli, Sand dunes, Sonal Kella and Bada Bagh

The nearest airport and station is Jaisalmer station and Udaipur.

pondicherryPondicherry: Pondicherry is the French colony which is located in Tamil Nadu and a perfect location to explore during the winter season. Check out the old fashioned architecture, awesome coastline and taste the French bakeries foods.

You can visit French War memorial, Serenity Beach, Promenade and Auroville.

The nearest airport and station is Chennai and Villupuram.

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EDITOR'S PICK

The City of joy: Puri

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God has created the earth for all of us, but the almighty has kind enough to leave the traces of his benevolence presence on the religious and sanctimonious country, India in the form four dhams for the Hindus across the length and breadth of the nation. The Char Dham is a set of four pilgrimage sites in India. Vaishnavite Hindus believe that visiting these sites helps achieve “Moksha” (salvation). It comprises Badrinath, Dwaraka, Puri and Rameswaram.

The city of joy,Puri has a long and illustrious history to attract the pilgrimages pan across the India as well as the world. According to Cunningham, the ancient name of this town was Charitra, mentioned by the Chinese piligrim Hiuen Tsang as Che-li-ta-lo. But the restoration of the word Che-li-ta-lo as Charitra and its identification with the town of Puri are open to doubt. The importance of the town as a seat of Vaisnavism increased when Chodaganga Deva constructed the temple of Purusottama Jagannath and installed the images of the deities. Thereafter, it became famous as the abode of Purusottama and was popularly called Purusottama Kshetra. The name Purusottama Kshetra was also for sometime known as Purusottama Puri and as the word Purusottama Kshetra was contracted into Kshetra or Chhatra, so also Purusottama Puri was expressed in the contracted form, Puri.

It is one of the most sacred pilgrim centres for the Hindus in the country, and is also referred to as Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) owing to the famous Jagannath temple located here. Situated along the coast of Bay of Bengal in the state of Orissa. Apart from lord Jagannath temple . An ideal weekend getaway for those living in the city of Kolkata and the other neighbouring towns and cities, Puri happens to be one of the most popular beach destinations in the eastern part of the country. Thronged by pilgrims and beach-loving tourists in equal numbers, Puri is a place which has a unique blend of both religious significance and the bucolic beauty of the indented beach. Two of these things together make Puri one of the most popular beach destinations in the eastern part of the country.

The Jagannath  Temple

The Shree Jagannath Temple of Puri is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Maha Vishnu, located on the eastern coast of India, at Puri in the state of Odisha. The temple is an important pilgrimage destination. The present temple was rebuilt from the 10th century onwards, on the site of an earlier temple, and begun by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, first of the Eastern Ganga dynasty.

The Puri temple is famous for its annual Ratha Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three principal deities are pulled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. These gave their name to the English term Juggernaut. Unlike the stone and metal icons found in most Hindu temples, the image of Jagannath is made of wood and is ceremoniously replaced every twelve or nineteen years by an exact replica. Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are a trio of deities worshipped at the temple. The inner sanctum of the temple contains statues of these three Gods carved from sacred neem logs known as Daru sitting on the bejeweled platform or ratnabedi, along with statues of Sudarshana Chakra, Madanmohan, Sridevi and Vishwadhatri. The deities are adorned with different clothing and jewels according to the season. Worship of these deities pre-dates the building of the temple and may have originated in an ancient tribal shrine.

The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. This 20 feet (6.1 m) high wall is known as Meghanada Pacheri. Another wall known as kurma bedha surrounds the main temple. It contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India. The temple has four distinct sectional structures, namely –

  1. Deula, Vimana or Garba griha (Sanctum sanctorum) where the triad deities are lodged on the ratnavedi (Throne of Pearls). In Rekha Deula style;
  2. Mukhashala (Frontal porch);
  3. Nata mandir/Natamandapa, which is also known as the Jagamohan (Audience Hall/Dancing Hall), and
  4. Bhoga Mandapa (Offerings Hall).

The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the ‘srichakra’ (an eight-spoked wheel) of Vishnu. Also known as the “Nilachakra”, it is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct. Among the existing temples in Orissa, the temple of Shri Jagannath is the highest. The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 214 feet (65 m) above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal roofs of the surrounding temples and adjoining halls, or mandapas, rise in steps toward the tower like a ridge of mountain peaks.

Nila Chakra

The Nila Chakra (Blue Discus) is the discus mounted on the top Shikhar of the Jagannath Temple. As per custom, every day a different flag is waved on the Nila Chakra. The flag hoisted on the Nila Cakra is called the Patita Pavana (Purifier of the Fallen) and is equivalent to the image of the deities placed in the sanctum sanctorum.

The Nila Chakra is a disc with eight Navagunjaras carved on the outer circumference, with all facing towards the flagpost above. It is made of an alloy of eight metals (Asta-dhatu) and is 3.5 Metres (11 feet and 8 inches) high with a circumference of about 11 meters (36 feet). During the year 2010, the Nila Chakra was repaired and restored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Nila Chakra is distinct from the Sudarshana chakra which has been placed with the deities in the inner Sanctorum.

Nila Chakra is the most revered iconic symbol in the Jagannath cult. The Nila Chakra is the only physical object whose markings are used as a sacrament and considered sacred in Jagannath worship. It symbolizes protection by Shri Jagannath.

The Singhadwara

The Singhadwara in 1870 showing the Lion sculptures with the Aruna Stambha Pillar in the foreground. The Singahdwara, which in Sanskrit means The Lion Gate, is one of the four gates to the temple and forms the Main entrance. The Singhadwara is so named because two huge statues of crouching lions exist on either side of the entrance. The gate faces east opening on to the Bada Danda or the Grand Road. The Baisi Pahacha or the flight of twenty-two steps leads into the temple complex. An idol of Jagannath known as Patitapavana, which in Sanskrit, means the “Saviour of the downtrodden and the fallen” is painted on the right side of the entrance. In ancient times when untouchables were not allowed inside the temple, they could pray to Patita Pavana. The statues of the two guards to the temple Jaya and Vijaya stand on either side of the doorway. Just before the commencement of the Rath Yatra the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out of the temple through this gate.

Other Entrances

The Ashwadwara Gate

Apart from the Singhadwara, which is the main entrance to the temple, there are three other entrances facing north, south, and west. They are named after the sculptures of animals guarding them. The other entrances are the Hathidwara or the Elephant Gate, the Vyaghradwara or the Tiger Gate and the Ashwadwara or the Horse Gate.

Minor Temples

A cluster of minor temples in the southern part of Jagannath temple complex, including the Vimala Temple.

There are numerous smaller temples and shrines within the Temple complex where active worship is regularly conducted. The Vimala Temple (Bimala Temple) is considered one of the most important of the Shaktipeeths marks the spot where the Goddess Sati’s navel fell. It is located near Rohini Kund in the temple complex. Until food offered to Jagannath is offered to Goddess Vimala it is not considered Mahaprasad.

The temple of Mahalakshmi has an important role in rituals of the main temple. It is said that preparation of naivedya as an offering for Jagannath is supervised by Mahalakshmi. The Kanchi Ganesh Temple is dedicated to Uchchhishta Ganapati. Tradition says the King of Kanchipuram (Kanchi) in ancient times gifted the idol when Gajapati Purushottama Deva married Padmavati, the kanchi princess. There are other shrines namely Muktimandap, Surya, Saraswati, Bhuvaneshwari, Narasimha, Rama, Hanuman, and Eshaneshwara.

The Mandapas

There are many Mandapas or Pillared halls on raised platforms within the temple complex meant for religious congregations. The most prominent is the Mukti Mandapa the congregation hall of the holy seat of selected learned Brahmins. Here important decisions regarding the conduct of daily worship and festivals are taken. The Dola Mandapa is noteworthy for a beautifully carved stone Torana or arch which is used for constructing a swing for the annual Dol Yatra festival. During the festival, the idol of Dologobinda is placed on the swing. The Snana Bedi is a rectangular stone platform where idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are placed for ceremonial bathing during the annual Snana Yatra.

Astonishing facts about Jagannath Temple in Puri

Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are a trio of deities worshipped at the temple. The inner sanctum of the temple contains statues of these three Gods carved from sacred neem logs known as Daru sitting on the bejeweled platform or ratnabedi, along with statues of Sudarshana Chakra, Madanmohan, Sridevi and Vishwadhatri. The deities are adorned with different clothing and jewels according to the season. Worship of these deities pre-dates the building of the temple and may have originated in an ancient tribal shrine.

It took three generations worth of time and effort to brick up the humongous walls of the famous Puri’s Jagannath Temple located in Odisha. The temple is of utmost importance to the Hindu devotees as it is one of the Char-Dham Pilgrimages. It also serves as a mighty historical structure built about millennia ago, in the year 1078. Millions of people visit Odisha to gain Lord Jagannath blessings.
The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra which is witnessed by millions as the three colossal chariots carry the deities. The English word Juggernaut shares its origin from this annual parade. But that’s not the sole specialty of the place! Some enigmatic activities without any scientific explanations have caught the travelers eye worldwide. Here are some of these mind-boggling facts –
1. Defying Nature’s Code of Conduct

Even a child knows any piece of cloth is dominated by the wind to fly according to its course. The same principle has numerous applications; from the giant sails on your ship to a small flag in your hand all follow the same code. But it looks like the flag mounted on the top of the Jagannath Temple is a unique exception to the principle. This particular flag flows in the opposite direction to the wind’s course without any scientific background to back it up.

2. The Climb

Every day a priest scrambles the walls of the temple with a height equivalent to that of a 45 storey building, to change the flag atop the temple dome. This ritual dates far back to the day the temple was built. The practice is done with bare hands without any protective gear. It’s believed if the ritual is skipped one day from the calendar, the temple will be shut down for a long 18 years. This might make the professional climbers jealous.

3. Light with no darkness

A necessary detail while sketching anything is shading. Shading happens when sunlight glows one part of the subject leaving a shadow on the other, which ultimately triggers shade. But, what if something has no shadow?
The temple is reported to have no shadow at all, at any time of the day from any directions possible. Could it be an architectural marvel or the Lord Jagannath’s message to humanity?

  1. The Riddle of the Sudarshan Chakra

There are two mysteries present at the pinnacle of the temple in the form of the Sudarshan Chakra. The first oddity revolves around the theory of how the hard metal weighing about a tonne, just got up there without any machinery just with a human force of that century.
The second is one deal with the architectural technique related to the Chakra. From every direction you look, the Chakra looks back with the same appearance. It’s like it was designed to look just the same from every direction.

5. Nothing’s above God, so nothing flies above it either

The sky is the bird domain. We see birds sitting, resting and flying above our heads and rooftops all the time. But, this particular area is restricted, not even a single bird is encountered above the temple dome, even an airplane could not be seen hovering above the temple. Might be because Lord Jagannath doesn’t want the view of his holy mansion to be disturbed!

  1. The Food is never futile here

In Hindu mythology, wasting food is considered a bad sign; the Temple crew follows the same.  A total number of people visiting the temple varies between 2,000 to 2, 00,000 people every day. Miraculously, the Parsadam prepared every day is never wasted, not even a bite. Could this be effective management or the Lord’s will?

7. Mute water

Seconds, after you put the first step inside the temple from Singha Dwara entrance, the audibility to the ocean waves is entirely lost. This phenomenon is more prominent in the evening time. Again, no scientific explanation adds up to this fact. The sound returns when you leave the temple.
According to the local lore, it was the will of the Subhadra Mayi, the sister of the two lords who wished for serenity within the temple gates. Hence her will was duly fulfilled.

8. Reverse gear of the breeze

Take any place on Earth, on daytime the breeze from the sea comes to land and the opposite happens in the evening. But, in Puri, the breeze has a tendency to contradict and opt for the exact opposite direction. In the daytime, the breeze blows from land to sea and the opposite in the evening happens.

 9. Magical methods to cook

The traditional way to cook the Parsadam is preserved by the priests here. Exactly seven pots are used as vessels mounted over one another and are cooked using firewood. Enchantingly, the top most pot is cooked first, and the rest follows the same order!

  1. Deities Disintegration

The deities are buried from every 14 to 18 years, one above another, replaced by new ones. These deities are made up of neem wood and are believe to be disintegrated on their own.

 

  1. The Rath Yatra

The Rath Yatra is an annual parade in which the deities are carried outside the temple on 2 set of chariots (3 each). The first chariot carries the deities till the river which separates the Jagannath Temple and the Mausi Maa temple. After that, the idols are boarded in 3 boats to cross the river. Now the second chariot comes in play. It carries the deities from the river to the Mausi Maa Temple where the ritual takes place.

The beautiful beach

The bucolic beautiful beach has lots to offer visitors to attract them. The fun and frolic and excitement and enthusiasm among the sightseers about the protracted and salubrious beach definitely going to leave an indelible scar on the memory down the line. It is said that by taking the bath at Mahodadhi literally means great ocean or sea to purge all the papas or sins and help in rejuvenating the pilgrims.

Other attractions of Puri

Apart from the Lord Jagannath temple and beach, other prominent places which create attractions are Gundicha temple, Loknath temple, Narendra Sarovar, Markendsavara temple, Shree Gaur Vihar Ashram and many others.

The city is well connected by rail and bus transportation and besides that, it is only 60 km away from the capital of Odisha, Bhubaneswar. The boarders can easily fetch luxurious and sophisticated hotels to spend their time and for relaxations.

To conclude and to be candid the splendor and grandeur of the Puri temple accompanied by the gigantic almighty Lord Jagannath give immense personal gratification for the present and rest of the life for the pilgrims. The pilgrim must visit once in the life to get the chance glimpse of all-mighty to find the route to satisfaction and salvation.

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EDITOR'S PICK

Mausam Mausam Lovely Mausam: Time for a long drive!!!

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When the dark clouds in the sky pour hearts out, the tiny drops of happiness to wash down the dust and grime reviving everything to life. Although the monsoon weather sometimes becomes a little unpleasant, it brings smiles on everyone’s face. As nature and greenery are at full swing, monsoon is the best time to cherish the local experience of the countryside and hill stations. So, here are some wonderful destinations near Delhi in this rain that’ll make you fall in love with monsoon –

1. Neemrana Fort – 117 KM

A perfect weekend getaway from Delhi, it is a 553 years old medieval Fort-Palace built on the two-billion-year-old Aravalli hills. Widely known for its magnificent construction, the Neemrana fort has been converted into a luxury heritage hotel. Here one can witness the most spectacular sunsets. Apart from dipping in the pool while it’s raining, relaxing spa services at the hotel, royal drive in vintage cars and zip lining are few world-class experiences that one should try out.

2. Bharatpur – 198 KM

For nature lovers, Bharatpur is one of the amazing places to visit during monsoon. The place is also known as Keoladeo National Park, home to nearly 230 species of birds. Bird watching, boating, and cycle or rickshaw ride inside the sanctuary are few amazing experiences among others.

3. Mandawa – 233 KM

Mandawa, located in the heart of Shekhawati of Rajasthan, is well known as ‘Open Air Art Gallery’ for its unique colorful paintings and adorned forts and havelis. Apart from exploring spectacular and masterpiece constructions, Mandawa offers its tourists with exciting camel rides near Saraf Haveli.

4. Lansdowne – 254 KM

Lansdowne, a small hill station located in Garhwal, Uttarakhand, is well known for its enchanting scenic and pristine landscapes. Lansdowne with its ancient churches and dense forests is the perfect choice for a peaceful and quiet vacation. Nature walks, trekking and camping are the best experiences one must try out.

5. Morni Hills – 272 KM

Morni, nearly 45 km from Chandigarh is the only hill station in Haryana. The hill station holds incredible Himalayan views, rich flora and the calm lakes which give extremely pristine experience especially when the sky pours down. One can have a pleasant boating experience at the quiet lakes and can spend leisure time at one of the exotic resorts.

6. Kangojodi – 276 KM

Kangojodi is a travel destination nestled in the Himachal hills. The place is a natural retreat which holds pine trees and surrounded by majestic hills and ravines. The place provides its visitors with a great camping site along with a myriad of offerings such as adventure sports, trekking, and other exciting activities

7. Parwanoo – 281 KM

Parwanoo, a beautiful hill station in Himachal Pradesh holds incredible natural beauty. It is an amazing weekend getaway from Capital during monsoon. The timber trail, a cable car track gives a heavenly scenic experience in this drizzling season. The hill station also offers its tourists a scenic view of its amazing fruit orchards located in foothill of Shivalik Range.

8. Kasauli – 298 KM

A small hill town in the lap of Himachal Pradesh, Kasauli is well known for its serenity and tranquility. The major attraction of this hill station includes snow-covered peaks and dense forests, which offers an adventurous trekking experience during monsoon. Apart from exciting and adventurous activities, Kasauli offers the absolute delight of indulging in local wines, extracted from homegrown fruit orchards.

9. Landour – 302 KM

Situated near Mussourie’s cantonment area, Landour is adorned with waterfall and luxurious valley views. With sky pouring little droplets, the scenery turns emerald, and hazy clouds roll around gently. During monsoon, Landour offers amazing stay options such as Rokeby Manor.

10. Shoghi – 331 KM

Wrapped in pine and oak woods, Shoghi is 15 km away from Shimla. The serene surrounding and the mesmerizing picturesque makes it one the best getaways from Capital during monsoon. Apart from the pristine scenery, the travel spot offers its tourists fun activities such as a toy train ride, and to spend some leisure time around Chadwick Falls.

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Announce in local language in addition to Hindi and English: Government tells airports

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The government Wednesday directed all airports to make public announcements in local language first, followed by Hindi and English, officials said.

The latest move follows a directive from Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu.Officials said that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued a directive to all aerodromes under its control to start making public announcements in the local language in addition to Hindi and English.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has also sent out a communication to private airport operators regarding public announcements to be made in the local language.Prabhu has directed the AAI to take steps to make that all announcements on public address system at all the airports in the country should be in local language followed by Hindi and English, officials said.The directions would not be applicable for silent airports, where public announcements are not made, they added.

In 2016, the AAI had issued a circular asking airports under its control to make public announcements in the local language followed by Hindi and English.The minister’s decision came after representations from certain quarters that public announcements at airports should also made in the local language, they added.There are more than 100 operational airports.

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Rajasthan: Winged friends bring tourists along with them

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While the human activity has become restricted as a result of drop in temperature the state, the avian activity is on a surge now. With thousands of migratory birds making a beeline for the world renowned wetland of the state – Keoladeo Ghana National Park, tourist activity in the park has almost tripled in the past fortnight. As a result of this, the department officials are overjoyed while are also keeping a good eye out on the water availability in the dykes across the park.
During the three-month long monsoon this year, the rains did not provide with Bharatpur district with enough water to fill the dams providing water to Keoladeo, thus the park faced a major problem of water shortage. “There was little water available here and thus we had to take water from the Goverdhan drain. Although it wasn’t enough, we later had to lift water from Chambal as well to reach the optimum level required for the park,” officials said.
This proved to be a major boon as with enough water and feed, the resident birds stayed put and built nests to lay eggs. “While the heronries became abundant, the water started drawing migratory birds right after the monsoons ended. At first small groups arrived however off late, we have been receiving groups of hundreds of birds on a daily basis. Coots, showlers, geese and many other species of birds have been recorded so far in huge numbers. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of chicks in the heronries as well and thus the park is teeming with life right now,” said officials.
Ornithologists, who have been waiting for winter to visit the park, have thronged in huge numbers as well. “There are regular bird watchers, photographers, ornihtologists who have been visitng on regular basis for over a month now. There is also a surge in number of tourists – both domestic and foreign. During the weekend we have difficult time in handling the tourists as their number swells more than expected. Overall the situation in park is good,” officials said.
MIGRATORY BIRDS MAKING A BEELINE
With the drop in temperature across state, the avian activity is on a surge now. With thousands of migratory birds making a beeline for the world renowned wetland of the state – Keoladeo Ghana National Park, tourist activity in the park has almost tripled in the past fortnight. As a result of this, the department officials are overjoyed while are also keeping a good eye out on the water availability in the dykes across the park.

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Will review web check-in charges, says Civil Aviation Ministry after IndiGo furore

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The Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced that it would review the decision of some airlines to charge for web check-ins. A tweet from the ministry said it would review if such charges would fall within its unbundled pricing framework.

The Ministry’s announcement came after online furore of the decision of budget carrier IndiGo to start charging passengers for the selection of seats during web check-ins.

“MoCA has noted that airlines are now charging for web check-in for all seats.  We are reviewing these fees to see whether they fall within the unbundled pricing framework,” read the tweet from the Ministry’s handle.

IndiGo had announced a change in its policies, making all seats chargeable for web check-ins. This had come into effect on November 14. Previously, customers were charge only for selecting certain seats. They could choose not to pick a seat, allowing the airline to allot a seat of its choice to them without extra charge. IndiGo’s new policy left free allocation of seats for check-ins at the airport unchanged.

The policy sparked heavy criticism online over the weekend, prompting the promise of a review from the Ministry.

The criticism had ranged from accusations of airlines starting to charge passengers for services that have so far been given without extra charge, to expressions of displeasure over what some claimed was a step towards increasing queues and congestion at airports.

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Lord Shiva’s Kedarnath fully engulfed in snow

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This is the current, stunning and marvellous picture of historical Kedarnath Shrine fully engulfed with knee deep snow sent by senior journalist friend Mohit Dimri, which remains closed during the winters and opens in April, May reviving its usual functioning with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims all over the country and the globe thronging in, for Lord Shiva’s Darshan, the creater and destroyer of this Universe.

The climate here is extremely chilling with the usual temperature sliding to minus 7 degrees during noon and crossing – 20 or more degrees during midnight. But what looks interesting and adventurous is the fact that the employees of Nehru Mountaineering Institute (NIM) looking after the affairs of the maintenance and development of Kedarnath and its immediate surroundings are round the clock busy amid the most deadly, treacherous and challenging situations, clearing the area and roads of heaps of snow measuring 2 to 3 feet over ground. Hats off to them.

It may be recalled that during 2013 June 15/ 16 when the entire Kedarpuri including Ram Bada and the Kedar valley was engulfed with the highly devastating deluge due to massive cloud bursts and subsequent bursting of the Chorabaari Lake also called the Gandhi Sarovar, they were the brave and hard working people of the NIM who in the aftermath of this devastating ecological disaster rebuild and renovated the entire Kedarnath vicinity under extreme challenging weather conditions beyond anybody’s expectation with the landing of high tech extremely heavy loaded bull dozers and other machines ferryed at such a towering height through helicopters.

It was a record in itself. Historical Kedarnath temple is situated at 11, 755 feet from the sea level where even during the summers, the weather comes to 2 to 5 degrees during the nights and the running high speed Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers get frozen . Over ten thousand pilgrims from Uttarakhand and several other parts of the country had died during this catastrophic tragedy. Uttarakhand has four historical religious shrines popular world over where millions of pilgrims come to pay their respects and prayers with extreme obeisance to lord Kedarnath, Badrinath, Goddess Gangotri and Yamnotri.

While Gangotri and Yamunotri emerges from the huge himalayan glaciers since time immemorial quenching the thirst and irrigational needs of the entire nation finally converging in Bay of Bengal, the Kedarnathand Badrinath shrines are of immense value for the devotees all around the globe.

A month ago prime minister Narendra Modi had visited Kedarnath Temple for the second time on the day of its closure during the winters and had announced several projects for the over all facelift of Kedarpuri that involved innovative development of inner roads and construction of modernised luving accomodation for the pujaries as well as the pilgrims who visit here from distant parts of the country and the globe including inner roads etc. The work on these projects got badly affected due to the excessive snow fall say the sources which will be resumed after the inclement weather situation improves in the near future. The Kedarnath site and temple fully clad in snow gives the imresson as if a pitch white( bright) silver sheet have been spread in Kedarpuri by Lord Shiva.

SUNIL NEGI

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PLEASE DO VISIT THE -HINDUSTAN KI AKHIRI CHAI KI DUKAAN at Garhwal

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I had been to the Badrinath Dham, a 1200 year old historic temple built by the initiative and tirless efforts of the Adi Shankaracharya then and eagerly went three kilometres ahead towards the historic Vyas Gufa, where, as the saying goes – thousands of years ago Ved Vyas meditated. Just near Vyas Gufa there is Bhim Pul (Bridge) a huge boulder of the size of roughly 8×8 feet, naturally lying over the river, giving it a shape of a bridge.

It is said that it was physically placed by Bhim to cross this high tide Mandakini river by the Pandavaas when they went for salvation during the final phase of their lives. It’s a conventional belief that the Pandavas went to heaven from this route. Anyways, what’ s important here is that after Bhagwan Badrinath’s Darshan one definitely feels like visiting the last village of India called MAANA and its here that you can have the privilege of the visiting the last TEA SHOP with the title: HINDUSTAN KI AAKHIRI CHAAI KI DUKAAN.

Though this shop is now surrounded by few other such stalls but this is the last one, selling eatables, soft drinks and other miscellaneous items in addition to tea. Every winter the villagers of Maana Gaon about approximately 180 families( am not exactly very sure about the number) shift to their counterpart village called Neeti, near Joshi Matth during the winters and then return back in April when the doors of Bhagwan Badrinath Temple are opened for Darshans again.

There is a single patwari for both the villages of Neeti and Manna, quite a distance away from each other who had to travel miles on foot to settle cases during the winters if any pertaining to disputes or crimes. The village Maana primarily comprises of Bhotia families the Garhwalies, whose forefathers, it’s usually believed have come from Tibet centuries ago when there was a free trade between the Garhwal citizens and the Tibetians called barter trade, now under China’s jurisdiction.

The first woman Mount Everest conquerer and the pride of India Bachendri Pal is also from the nearby village in Chamoli district and the same community. The inhabitants of Maana village get reservation in jobs and majority of the men folks are in comfortable positions in government jobs having good eductional background.

Maana was also famous for the clandestine production of indigenous liquor as the area being cold most of the time is usually consumed locally. The village Maana is significant from the security point of view as the villagers are considered to be our border protectors as well who are of great support and moral boosters for the ITBP jawans and officers camped there to guard our boarders under extreme challenging climatic circumstances.

About 1100 kilometres from Delhi journeying to Maana involves about 800 kilometres hill travel. If you really want to visit Badrinath Dham and the last CHAI KI DUKAN at village MAANA do visit Garhwal, Uttarakhand and enjoying touring adventure watching roaring Alaknanda and Mandakini on the way that finally become pious Ganges at Devprayag, the confluence point of both these rivers. Uttarakhand is full of surprises, adventures and historical spiritual destinations. Don’ t forget to miss them. The Uttarakhand government has accorded Maana village the special status of tourism village.

This is the latest picture of HINDUSTAN KI AKHIRI CHAI KI DUKAAN posted on fb by Garhwal’s eminent literateur, writer of several books and cultural activist, seen sitting with his friend at the precint of the shop, namely Narendra Kathait.

SUNIL NEGI

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Travel

Rides in AC not so cheap now

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If you are travelling beyond 5 km by the Delhi Metro from Tuesday, Oct. 10th be prepared to pay ₹10 extra with the recent fare hike coming into effect. The hike comes within five months of the last one. It will affect every passenger of the Delhi Metro who travels beyond 5 km. While journeys falling in the 2 to 5 km distance slab will only cost ₹5 more.

The Delhi Metro had started operations on December 25, 2002, the minimum fare at that time was ₹ 4 and maximum was ₹ 8.

The revised fare structure now on is: up to 2 km ₹10, 2 to 5 km ₹20, 5 to 12 km ₹30, 12 to 21 km ₹40, 21 to 32 km ₹50 and for journeys beyond 32 km ₹60. Smart card users, who happen to be 70 per cent of the metro’s total commuters, will continue to get 10 per cent discount on each ride. They will get an additional discount worth 10 per cent while travelling during off-peak hours. Off-peaks hours are from beginning of services till 8 am, between 12 pm to 5 pm and from 9 pm to end of the services.

The price hike came late on Monday night in the face of stiff opposition mounted by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal against the fare hike. The Delhi Assembly passed a resolution against the hike earlier in the day. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia termed the decision as a “conspiracy” which benefits private cab services. The DMRC had been batting for a hike for quite a time, citing “losses” in view of loans and rise in input costs of operation, such as power tariff among others.

The new fares would be applicable on five corridors — Blue, Yellow, Green, Red and Violet — of the metro routes that crisscross the Delhi region, with the total network length of 213 km. It is announced that there shall be no change in the fares of the Airport Express Line (Orange Line).

 

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The Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya

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Meghalaya, in the north-east of India is a beautiful state with myriad of lush green forests, magnificent mountains, marvelous waterfalls and other breathtaking natural sights. Fortunately, the ambience of Meghalaya has the touch of nature still alive. The overwhelming environment with original simplicity welcomes the tourists from all over the world.

Well! Herein, I will narrate the story of the Living Root Bridges found on the serene land of Meghalaya. It is noteworthy that Meghalaya is renowned all over the world for its double-decker and single-decker root bridges. The most astounding fact is that these bridges are the huge tangles of the colossal thick living roots of the Rubber Tree, Ficus elastica. These intermingled strands of roots are capable of holding numerous people on the bridge. Yes, you can easily cross the river via these bridges.

Meghalaya is the place receiving the highest amount of rainfall on this planet earth. Mawsynram, the village in Meghalaya is recorded to have received 11,873mm of rainfall thus, establishing the record of the ‘wettest place of the Earth’. Due to the heavy rainfall, it was very difficult for the people of Khasi and Jaintia to cross the rivers. The bamboo bridges built by these tribal people used to rot and break down due to the downpours of rains.

Around 180 years back, the ancestors of the Khasi people devised a one-stop solution to sort out the problem of the people who remained stranded during the rains and were not able to cross the rivers. The roots of the Rubber Trees were escorted in the hollow canes of the Areca Nut Palms from both the sides such that they met in the middle across the stream. The roots were looked after and nurtured for years. Well! This ardent task bore fruits. With passage of time, these bridges became strong enough to hold the weight of humans.

The most spectacular Living Roots Bridge is built over the Umshiang River outside Nongriat, just 10km south to Cherrapunji. This legendary Umshiang Double-Decker Bridge is about 180 years old; still standing upright thus, adding to the pride of Meghalaya. Apart from this, there are many stunning bridges made from the living roots of the rubber tree found in the interior regions of Meghalaya, Nagaland and other north-eastern states.

However, with the advent of modern technology, the art of building these bridges is dying out since past 20-25 years. Now, these bridges are replaced by modern bridges made up of steel and other metals. However, the single-decker and double-decker bridges made from the living roots of Ficus elastica are the major tourist attraction from all over the world.

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Travel in India

PALI, RAJASTHAN

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Pali, one of the oldest and the most historic city located in Rajasthan also known as the Industrial City. Pali is believed to one of the most important part of Rajasthan from ages and also known as a hub for merchant activities. It is a venture in the bank of river Bandi and is 70 kms south east of Jodhpur. Some of the official languages spoken in Pali are Hindi, Marwari and Godwari. The district of Pali shares a common border with eight major districts in Rajasthan including Nagaur and Jodhpur, Barmer, Rajmasand, Udaipur, Ajmer, Sirohi and Jalore. The nearest Airport to Pali is the Jodhpur Aiport that is nearly 78 kms from Pali. The National Highway 14 is directlt connected as the road link.Railway links are also prominent to the district of Pali. Some of the famous historical places located in Pali includes: 

‘Ranakpur Jain Temples’ – The Ranakpur Jain Temples are built in the 15th century after a divine vision by one of the Jain businessman. The Ranakpur Jain Temple is dedicated to Adinath, an important figure in Jain cosmology. The Ranakpur Jain Temple is named after the provincial monarch Rana Kumbha who supported and laid encouragement for the construction of these temples. It is a type of complex where there are multiple temple structures. The Ranakpur Jain Temple is located in a valley of the Aravalli mountains.

‘Jawai Dam’-  The Jawai Dam is built across a tributary of the Luni River. The Jawai Dam was contructed by Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur. It is the biggest dam situated in western Rajasthan. The Jawai dam is believed to be the primary source of water for Jodhpur City and its nearby villages. The Jawai dam is also famous as a winter paradise for some of the migratory birds,leopards and crocodiles.

‘Parshuram Mahadev Temple’- The Parashuram Mahadev Temple is  believed to be a cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva  which attracts some of the fascinating stories.It is believed that Parshuram who was a firm believer of Lord Shiva, constructed the cave with his axe and worshipped Lord Shiva there. The Parshuram Mahadev Temple is located 3990 feet above sea level. This temple has figures of Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha.

‘Nimbo ka Nath Temple’- The Nimbo ka Nath Temple is located on the Falna-Sanderav route and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that Kunti,who was the mother of Pandavas, worshipped Lord Shiva and spent most of her time worshipping Shiv Shambo during their exile. Also the Pandavas had built a Navdurga in this residing area. This beautiful temple attracts many local and foreign tourists all round the year. The temple also organizes fairs ‘Melas’ where a large number devotees attend such holy celebration.

‘The Jain Temple’- Pali is renowned for its magnificent decorations of Jain Temples. The Idol of Mahavira, from the spiritual aspect is believed to be graved with firm architectural surroundings. The 2600 year old worshiping idol is 120cm in height. This structure is unique and it has all the significant artifacts and fabulous structural creations.

‘Adiswar Temple’-  Adishwar Temple is located at Sanderao near Pali city.Adishwar Temple in Pali is also known by other name ‘Chaumukha Temple’. This 15th century temple shrine known for the unique architectural style of a Nalinigulm Vimana, a heavenly aircraft.Adishwar Temple took 65 years for the construction and is the largest Jain temples. The temple has three storeys, 80 domes, and 29 halls.

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