Chaturbhuj Temple - Orchha

Gigantic architecture of Chaturbhuj temple is a stark deviation from regular temples in India and attracts thousands of visitors...

Istanbul - Where civilizations merge

Being one of the oldest cities on this earth, Istanbul is a delight to history lovers...


A place which has been lying forbidden and disconnected from the mainland. Malana still follows their culture and traditions...

Temples at Batesara

Around 350 temples are estimated to have existed here. Excavation work is ongoing to restore temples of a lost era.


The Ancient Temple which inspired the design of Indian Parliament House.


Synonymous with tranquil environment, spirituality, great food and Teachings of LORD BUDDHA. Find out true meaning of life at Dharamsala...

October 21, 2016

Pandharpur - Place of Lord Panduranga (Vitthal)

Vitthal temple, Pandharpur – Solapur District, around 200 km. from Pune city – via NH9, is the main centre of worship for the Hindu deity Vitthal, believed to be a local form of God Krishna or Vishnu. It is the most visited temple in Maharashtra. The Warkaris start marching from their homes to the temple of Pandharpur in groups called Dindi to reach on Aashadhi Ekadashi and Kartiki Ekadashi. A dip in the holy river Chandrabhaga on whose banks Pandharpur resides, is believed to have power to wash all sins. All the devotees are allowed to touch the feet of the idol of Vithoba. In May 2014, the temple became first in India to invite women and people from backward classes as priests.

Saga of Pundalik – Pundalik is a devoted son to his parents Janudev and Satyavati, who lived in a forest called Dandirvan. Later in life Pundalik began ill-treating his parents.
In the city of Kashi, Pundalik gets a strong realization that ill-treatment with the parents is the greatest sin.
Pundalik’s consciousness transforms and he becomes entirely devoted to his parents. By seeing his devotion Lord Vishnu comes and knocks at Pundalik’s door. He realizes that God is at his door but due to pure devotion towards his parents he asks God to stand outside on brick and wait until he finishes his duties.
Seeing this act, Visnu gets extremely impressed and the ever-loving God waits for his devotee. Pundalik asks God to stay back and bless all his devotees, God agrees and the Vitthal temple comes up there.

Queue Stand – Way to the temple goes through a 6 storey building. At the time of huge rush during festive season the crowd has to pass through every floor. It may take 3 to 4 hours, or more to get a glance/ the दर्शन of the deity. While passing by each floor you can purchase garlands from the vendors, sitting thereby, and snack, if you need a quick bite.

If you need more prasadam for distribution purpose – the shops are just outside the temple. You can buy prasadam, incense sticks, coconut, for offering, and other sacred items.

Beautiful Panduranga deities, whom you can establish in your home and offer prayers daily, are available with the vendors sitting outside the temple. Buy MANJEERA and perform transcendental kirtana at the holy place.

Janabai temple – A great devotee, Janabai, used to cook personally for the lord Panduranga.

VishnuPad Temple – Lord Vishnu stepped down at this place with his cow named Gopinath.

Narad Muni Temple – When the Dam gets open the temple will be visible completely, rest of the time it is submerged.

There is an ISKON temple – farm community in outskirts, approximately 5 Kms away from Vishnupad temple, where you can offer prayers to the beautiful deities of Goddess Radha and Lord Krishna.

Hare Krishna movement is a medium to make people Krishna conscious and to let them know their only goal, in this material world, is to serve Krishna, the supreme personality of godhead. Hare Krishna movement is dedicated towards awakening the lost consciousness and spirituality of the human society in this material world by preaching the transcendental philosophy of Bhagvad Geeta, Srimad Bhagwatam and Vedas.

                             HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE”
The Kali-santarana Upanishad states that if one chants this mahamantra daily, for at least 108 times, and follow the four basic principles i.e. no intoxication, no meat – eating, no illicit sex then he/she can be freed from the painful cycle of birth and death and go back to the supreme lord's planet Vaikuntha.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, incarnation of Krishna, also instructs to chant this transcendental mantra to get liberation. Remember we only visitors on this plant, enjoy and find the true meaning of life...

Keep travelling Guys...

October 1, 2016

Orchha - Land of Forts, Palaces, Cenotaphs, Relics and Ruins

Going beyond the ravines of Chambal, we were on the way to explore a small hidden town of Orchha, which literally means hidden. Orchha is a small town in the Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh and is 125 km. from Gwalior and 15 km. from Jhansi. Kingdom of Orchha was established in the 16th century AD, year 1531 AD by the Bundela Rajput chief, Rudra Pratap Singh on the banks of Betwa River. Orchha was developed as an impenetrable fortified citadel. Orchha fort complex consists of numerous temples, forts and cenotaphs (Chhatris), which all make Orchha an interesting spot to visit.

All good things shall start with a prayer to the Gods; first spot in Orchha shall be the Raja Ram Temple, an acclaimed temple which was earlier in fact a queen’s palace. This is the only temple in the world where Lord Rama is worshipped as King Rama.

Adjacent to Raja Ram temple is the gigantic Chaturbhuj Temple, built by the king Madhukar to idolize Lord Rama. However Lord Rama decided to rest in the Rama Raja Temple.
Read the interesting story about Raja Ram temple and Chaturbhuj Temple...

After praying, time to walk the heritage trail. Orchha fort consists of many palaces like Raja Mahal, Jahangir Mahal and Rai Parveen Mahal. Jahangir Mahal reflects the Bundela architecture. The views from the balconies in the palace are spectacular.

Raja Mahal is most ancient historic monuments in Orchha fort. Standing on the island created by Betwa River, Raj Mahal is surrounded by a battlement wall.

The fort consists of several buildings connected to each other in a perfect display of battle architecture, the most significant of which is the Raja Mahal. The most prominent palace in the Raja Mahal is in fact the Rani Mahal (Queen's Palace) Mahal. Rani Mahal from inside...

Decorated walls of House of Commons, Deewan-e-Aam in the Raja Mahal...

More mural paintings in one of the abandoned spot in this palace...

After Raja Mahal, the Jahangir Mahal with such a grand view of  from the Raja Mahal...

The Jahangir Mahal is built on a rectangular base and has a circular tower at each corner surmounted by a dome. The Jahangir Mahal is a beautiful example of Bundela architecture. 

It is believed that it was constructed for Jahangir reception. The mother for Jahangir was also a Rajput, Jodhabai. Looks like that with this fact in mind, the Rajput king of Orchha had built the Jahangir Mahal. To actually see the beauty of this palace one should climb up to the roof, which is crowned by eight large domes with smaller domes between them connected by beautiful railings.

From the roof get an amazing view of Raja Mahal with Chaturbhuj temple in the backdrop...

There is also the Unth Khana, the royal Shelter for the Camels, where the King's camels used to get relax, is right next to the fort and at back of Jahangir Mahal.
This was one of the structures to support the powerful military of bundles kingdom. Take a few steps and climb on the roof of the Unth Khana and enjoy a fantastic view of Orchha town. It houses the residences of various military officers and ministers of Orchha rulers. Although most of them are in ruins, a silent walk through the ruins is not for the fainthearted.

Also worth mentioning is the Rai Parveen Mahal, however related to any of the royal family member. Now it is in ruins, but must have been a beautiful palace with lush gardens surrounding it. Rai Parveen was a poetess and a dancer par excellence who had bedazzled the king by her charm so much that king Indramani built a palace for her. Check out the prime location of this palace...

Dauji ki kothi, the ruins of one of the prominent ministers in the Bundela kingdom...

And some ruins around the Raja Mahal. Battlement wall of the fort is clearly visible...

After illustrious fort and the palaces, let’s make our way to the Cenotaphs. The kings of Orchha built huge cenotaphs to celebrate their afterlife journey. There are 15 (Fifteen) cenotaphs (memorials of rulers) locally called as chhatris on the banks of the Betwa river at Kanchana Ghat.

Cenotaph of Vir Singh Ju Deo at the river front and some neglected structures...

The Cenotaph of king Indramani...

Chhatris or Cenotaphs were built to honour the dead ancestors of the Bundela kings. Meaning of word Bundela - "One who has offered drops"; first king of the dynasty, offered drops of his blood to the Goddess Kali and was called Bundela. His descendants carried this tradition till the royalty came to an end.

Word Orchha literally means “Hidden”. No doubt the place is still unknown in the tourism circles. But that is the advantage India, here every spot turns out to be more beautiful than the previous one. Travelling back in time is an integral part of a visit to Orchha. Orchha has been a witness to a bloody rebellion by price Salim (Jahangir) against his father emperor Akbar. Around Orchha there are a number of unusual temples and tombs. The more unguarded and neglected of these buildings have become hangouts for bees, wasps, and other such excitable creatures.

Please note - Entry ticket is required to visit all the monuments in Orchha, other than the temples. Entry tickets are available at the entrance of Orchha fort only. Cenotaphs shall be visited after Orchha Fort.

To reach Orchha:
By Train: Nearest Railway Station is Jhansi,  18 Km. on Delhi- Mumbai route. All express trains including Shatabdi Express stop at Jhansi. From Jhansi individual as well as shared taxis are available. One can also enjoy Auto-Rickshaw drive.
By Air: Gwalior is the nearest airport, 125 km.
By Road: Jhansi is well connected by roads to major cities. Road condition from Jhansi to Orchha is very good.
One day is all which is required to explore Orchha. Trip to Orchha can be easily coupled with a trip to Khajuraho (175 Km. from Orchha) or just extend the Chambal Safari by one day.

Keep travelling Guys…

September 29, 2016

Saga of Raja Ram Temple at Orchha

After exploring the Chambal ravines and an amazing pit stop at Sonagiri temples the road to Orchha was in front of us. We have driven for 15 km. from Sonagiri, when a fort along side a river came to our sight. It was the imposing 7 storied Datia Fort, also known as Rajgarh Fort.

If you like to drive and explore the magic of offbeat places, Madhya Pradesh is the place you should be. All good things shall begin with praying to the Gods. So after driving for 51 km. and crossing the entrance doors for Orchha, we arrived at Raja Ram Temple. 

Raja temple is an acclaimed temple in Orchha which was earlier a palace, in fact a queen’s palace. The palace was turned into a temple and this is the only temple in the world where Lord Ram is worshipped as King Ram.

The story of Ram Raja Temple as told by the local peoples...

The King of Orchha, Madhukar Shah Ju Dev was a devotee of Banke Bhihari (Lord Krishna) while his wife Queen Ganesh Kunwari used to worship Lord Ram. One day both King and Queen went to worship in Lord Krishna’s temple which was closed by that time. The queen requested the king to go back but the king wished to stay. So both of them decided to stay back at the temple premises. To give company to king and queen there were a number of devotees who were singing and dancing outside the temple. It is believed that Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha embodied in person and danced with all of them and heavens showered golden flowers at this extravaganza of the Gods.

After that heavenly incident the king was craving to go to Mathura, the land of Lord Krishna but the queen wanted to go to Ayodha. As a result, fight for worship of Gods started between them as king did not liked the idea that queen was worshipping Lord Ram. So one day king got furious and asked queen to stop worshipping Lord Ram as Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha had come to dance with them and Lord Ram never appeared or embodied in front of them. Finally King told the queen to go and return only when she get blessed by child form of Lord Ram, only then king will accept her devotion. Extremely hurt by this behavior of king, queen left for Ayodhya on foot and sweared to return only with the child form of Ram or else will drown herself in Saryu river at Ayodhya. Such was the belief of the queen that as soon as she queen started her journey she ordered her servant to build a temple (Chaturbhuj Temple) for Lord Ram when she will return with Lord Ram with her. Near to Saryu river and close to Laxman fort queen started praying to Lord Ram and undertook strict meditation to please Lord Ram. When Lord Ram did not appear after long time of meditation and prayers, she gave up food but Lord Ram didn’t appear even then. Finally her hope surrendered and in despair, she jumped into the Sarayu river. Just at that moment a miracle happened and a child appeared in the Queen’s lap, and the child was none other than Lord Ram.

Lord Ram was moved with her prayers and pledged to fulfill her wishes, the queen requested Lord Ram to come with her in the child form to Orchha. Lord Ram agreed to go with her in child form but pur forward three conditions:
  1. I will travel only in Pukh Nakshatra. When Pukh Nakshatra will end I will stop and resume only when Pukh Nakshatra sets in again. In this manner I will travel from Ayodhya to Orchha on foot along with a group of sages.
  2. On reaching Orchha, I will be the King of Orchha and not your husband. And…
  3. Since the child form of Ram would travel in the queen’s lap, the first place where I will be seated will become my final place of stay and the place will be famous by the name of Ramraj.

Looks like the test for the queen was still not over, but the brave queen happily agreed to all the conditions. With Lord Ram in her laps, the Queen started her journey to Orchha. It took her 8 months and 27 days to reach Orchha from Ayodhya on foot (1574 - 1575) as the journey happened only in Pukh Nakshtra.

Meanwhile King Madhukar Shah had a dream where Lord Krishna scolded him on his discrimination between the Gods, and told him that Krishna and Ram are one and the same. Realizing his mistake, king offered due apologies and went to receive the queen with all royalty. By this time the soul of queen had been dedicated to Lord Ram, so material comforts did not mattered to her anymore. So queen refused the comforts and apologies offered by the king. The Queen told to the king that she now possessed Lord Ram in child form and she has got everything one could ever ask for. After reaching Orchha, queen returned to her palace with baby Lord Ram in her room with intentions to take Lord Ram to the Chaturbhuj Temple the next day.
Raja Ram temple from Chaturbhuj temple
Now according to Lord Ram’s third condition the place where queen seated the baby Lord Ram became the resting place of Lord Ram. Lord Ram transformed into an idol and got fixed in the queen's palace. It is believed that till this day the Ram Raja Temple is the queen's palace.

Originally, Lord Ram was in the standing position as he transformed himself into an idol. The queen used to serve Lord Ram for 3–4 hours every day in standing position. Seeing that the queen gets tired, Lord Ram requested the queen to serve him while sitting only. But queen refused politely saying that when the Lord is himself standing then how can she sit. On hearing this from the queen, it is believed that the deity had sat down. As promised by the queen, Lord Ram is the King (Raja) of Orchha, hence the name Ram Raja Temple. Till this date Lord Ram as a king rules over Orchha and everyday a guard of honour is held. Till date marriage invitation in this region is first sent to Raja Ram.

Raja Ram is sitting in Padmasana with left leg being crossed over to right thigh. It is believed that locating the thumb of left foot fulfills all the wishes of the visitors. The Ram Raja Temple is built on a square base and has an almost entirely plain exterior, relieved by projecting windows and a line of delicate domes along the summit.

Adjacent to Raja Ram temple is the gigantic Chaturbhuj Temple, built by the king Madhukar to idolize Lord Rama.

However Lord Rama decided to make his house in the Rama Raja Temple. The present deity in Chaturbhuj temple is Lord Sri Laxmi Narayan, Lord Vishnu. An idol of Lord Vishnu with four arms which was kept in this temple gave the name Chaturbhuj temple (Four arms). This temple is directly opposite the palace, so that the queen could have watched the worship of the Gods in the temple from her room. Colossal size of Chaturbhuj temple is in stark deviation from the normal construction size of temples in India. The Grand architecture of Chaturbhuj Temple attracts thousands of visitors every year. Check out from the other side...

Please note in the summers temples in Orchha are closed between 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Make your plans accordingly.

Pray to Gods and continue heritage exploration at Orchha.
Keep travelling Guys...

August 25, 2016

Sonagiri, the Milky Hill...

By now we have explored the every road in Chambal Valleys, to further extend our safari beyond Gwalior we started our drive to explore Orchha on road from Gwalior. While exploring the roads and asking for the directions, some locales advised us to visit the milky mountain of Sonagiri. Milky Mountain…? The name Sonagiri actually means mountain of gold. We too were surprised by this, till the locales told us that 77 beautiful Jain temples, all in white colour is the reason behind milky Sonagiri Hill. Locales are the best guides.

Sonagiri is a place sacred to Digambar Jains. It is situated 60 km. from Gwalior and has a chain of Jain temples of 9th - 10th century on this hill since the time from Chandraprabhu. As we were approaching towards the hill, we could clearly see an umbrella of white temples covering the hill.

As we were about to enter the temple area we were asked to remove our shoes, we looked at the stairs which were scorching by this time but for such a beautiful place this was worth.
While climbing up stairs we came across many temples of saints. Beautifully laid white coloured temples on both sides of the way make the walk worthy of every step. Number of temple is also mentioned, so that one should not miss any temple...

Devotees and saints come to this place to practice self-discipline and to attain Nirvana, freedom from cycles of life and death. It is believed that till date Five & half Crores of ascetic saints have achieved salvation (Moksha or Nirvana) at this holy place. Nang, Anang, Chintagati, Poornachand, Ashoksen, Shridatta, Swarnbhadra and many other saints achieved salvation from here. Acharya Shubh Chandra & Bhartrihari lived and worked here for spiritual achievements.
There are 77 beautiful Jain temples. This temple being with the most exquisite domes...

Time to offer prayers, lets go inside this temple. Inside this temple we also got much needed respite from the hot floor. One of the most amazing interiors, check out the beautiful statues, carved in white marble stones...

In a big Hall, dedicated to GODs only..

This is a place where King Nanganag Kumar achieved liberation from life and death cycle along with the fifteen million followers. While enjoying such a beautiful hill, we have forgotten that we were barefooted on the hot floor. As we kept walking upstairs, we were able to enjoy the view from the top...

Temple No. 57 is the main temple. This temple has an attractive artistic spire. In this temple the principal deity is Lord Chandraprabhu. Sacred chants are carved all over the walls of the temple..

Eleven feet in height, beautiful idols of Lord Sheetal Nath & Parsvnath are also installed here.

There is a column of dignity 43 ft. in height and an attractive model of Samavsharan.

Enjoy every step of walk in this sacred place. One have to walk without shoe on hot marble when you are coming in summer season so be careful. Before returning back, one aerial view for the stark contrasting barren lands at the back side of Sonagiri hill...

Their is a small market outside the temple complex and 2-3 eateries. Try Banana SAMOSA's.

To reach Sonagiri temples:
Around 70 km. from Gwalior in Datia district on Gwalior - Jhansi Highway. Regular buses plying from Gwalior and Jhansi which pass via Sonagiri.

SONAGIR railway station lies on Agra-Jhansi line. Sonagiri Hill is 3 km. from the railway station. Only passenger trains stop at Sonagir railway station.

Keep travelling Guys...

July 29, 2016

Kullu, the valley of Gods...

A wandering soul searching for a nest can get numerous excuses to surely settle in Kullu, Valley of Gods.
Stunning landscapes coupled with hospitality of people, their distinct lifestyle and rich culture have made Kullu valleys popular as “Valley of Gods”. Kullu is renowned around the world for the woollen Shawls and the Dussehra festival. However to explore it also has some amazing spots, which despite the popularity of Kullu are surprisingly not so known.
Nearest to Kullu is Bijlee Mahadev temple, which is approx. 25 km. from Kullu town by road. Cherish the beautiful Beas river while crossing over the Kullu Bridge on the way to Bijlee Mahadev. You may park your car at a side and click the fabulous bridge and pleasing landscapes...

Once the motorable road ends at Chansari Village; rest of the way, a challenging trek of 2 km. has to be covered solely by your spirits. That’s all what separates you from the blessings of Lord Shiva at Bijlee Mahadev temple.

You have to be in good shape for this trek. The trek is too steep and will take around 60-75 minutes. The bigger the obstructions in my way the higher is the glory in overcoming it. Barely breathing at times, my limits of fitness were being tested at every step in this trek. You might find one or two visitors or trekkers, if you are lucky.
Though creeping at times and stopping quiet often; nonetheless the trek is a beautiful walk in the woods. Trek video...

According to legend this is the place, Mathana where Lord Shiva killed the dreaded demon Jalandhar. As this is the highest point in the region; it had to bear the fury of lightening falling from the skies. As a result inhabited villages were being damaged frequently due the constant lightings from the skies.
In order to tame this wild nature, a temple was erected as per the mandate from Lord Shiva in order to protect the nearby regions from frequent lightings from the sky.
When the limits to human capability are exposed and if you have faith in the all mighty, heavens will definitely come to rescue. It is believed that after erection of this temple lightings have stopped. In fact Lord Shiva has been absorbing the lightings onto him, thereby saving the nearby inhabitations by form the wild fury of nature, that’s why the name “Bijlee Mahadev” (Bijlee is known as Electricity in english language).
Trek hard pray harder, it was the time to thank the all mighty for his benevolence that I was able to experience this marvellous spot. Rightly said things which are closer to nature are always good for health. Sprawling lawn and view from the top will make this trek worthwhile.

It is believed that Lord Shiva has been residing here since times immemorial in form of this holy Shivling. Also worth mentioning is the story telling paintings of Gods & Goddesses. Every year lightning falls on the holy Shivling and damages it. Shivling is repaired and joined buy the priests of the temple every time.
A while coming down, enjoy mystic view of the Kullu valleys.
Once you have come down from the Bijlee Mahadev take the road to Naggar Castle. Around 10 km. from Kullu bus stand, located in Kais village is Dhakpo Shedrupling Monastery.

It was inaugurated by his holiness Dalai Lama in 2005. The monastery serves as a centre for the study of Buddhist philosophy.

This monastery houses several Tibetan monks. Apart from incredible architecture, the monastery offers picturesque view of the surrounding valleys.
As good travellers never take rest, so the next spot in the itinerary to be discovered is Manikaran Sahib. The landscapes during the drive are so pleasant that you will always be in cheerful spirits during the journey.
In the way you will come across the way to Malana, 45 km. from Kullu town (left turn from Malana hydro power project). Trek to Malana is an expedition in itself where you have to touch down the depths of the mighty mountains to reach the Malana Village. At least 3 hours are required to enjoy the Malana trek. It is prohibited to touch the temples and structures. Main attraction in Malana is the distinct architecture of temples and houses.

After Malana continue towards Manikaran Sahib, in the way you will pass through Kasol. Kasol is a lively place where for enjoying water sports like rafting and bridge crossing. Lot of foreigners makes this place an exciting venue for various cuisines and shopping also.
From Kasol only 3.5 km. separates you from the picturesque Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara. Situated in a valley alongside the flowing river, the enchanting landscape makes this place a perfect blend of tourism and spirituality. Go inside the holy place, offer prayers and feel the quiet ambience.

24 hour free kitchen is run by the Gurudwara for the visitors. Adjoining to Gurudwara is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali. Temple premise include a natural hot water spring with abundant Sulphur, which is very beneficial for skin related diseases. People fill this holy water in plastic containers and take back to their homes. There is also a market on the other side of Gurudwara, you may buy some souvenirs or you can just stand at the cross over bridge and relish the beauty of this place.

Two days are required to relish these incredible spots in the Kullu Valleys; Day one for Bijlee Mahadev,  Dhakpo Shedrupling Monastery and local sightseeing in Kullu town. Malana, Kasol and Manikaran Sahib can be covered on second day of the itinerary.
Both of the treks to Bijlee Mahadev and Malana require one to be in good physical shape.
While In Kullu town, you can also see the shawl making process and buy some shawls, if you like.
About Kullu:
Situated along side Beas River, at a height of 1220 m. Kulu was once known as Kulanthapitha – end of the habitable world. Kullu got connected with motorable roads only after 1947. As a result of this long seclusion Kullu valleys still retain their traditional charm. You will get here an intricate web of valleys, each of which are a visual delight and look more beautiful than the other.
Kullu is at its colourful best during the acclaimed Dussehra festival. Around 4-5 lac people from all over the world come to Kullu to take part in this festival. Dussehra festival starts on Vijaya Dashmi and lass for a week.
To reach Kullu: By road, 530 km. from Delhi, and 240 km. from Shimla. HPTDC Luxury and Volvo coaches ply to Kullu daily from Delhi.

Keep travelling Guys to next destination, Manali and Rohtang Pass...