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Showing posts with label Events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Events. Show all posts

Of food, fun and the run in Jaipur

Jaipur by Nite ended with great food, live music and marathon.


When you are left with a follow-up act to something as soul-stirring as a musical night by Mame Khan and Indian Ocean, the task is indeed a tough one. The ultimate day, or night – Bite Fest, of Jaipur by Nite, however, didn’t fade out to penultimate evening of divine rhythms and musical bliss.
Just think of daal-baati-churma, the spicy panchmela daal and crispy baatis dipped in desi ghee with sweet coarse churma, and you would be lying if you didn’t salivate a bit. Add to that the authentic Rajasthani methi-mangodi ki sabzi served with makki and bajre ki roti, lehsun ki chutney and sangari ka achaar making for those perfect accompaniments, and I am sure you would have found your own heaven right there. I definitely did.
The super crisp golgappas tempted me into filling myself even before the ‘dinner’. The local band Swaraag’s Rajasthani, sufi and Bollywood numbers adding that perfect ambience made it a joyous weekend. Also, the wood-fired oven didn’t only add to the flavours of the pizzas on another restaurant’s stall, the smoke and warmth of it in that breezy night almost hinted at the arrival of chill in the air.
The rustic seating with wooden benches, cots, colourful cushions thrown in, cane garden chairs and low stools adorned with local craftwork added to it all. Luring the tastebuds and making many forget about the diets were stalls serving Kashmiri cuisine, range of burgers, pastas, desserts, south Indian food, and more.
For those who still braved the temptation despite such a spectacular spread around, a couple of restaurants working in the healthy food zone, came to the rescue. It’s rather a point of debate though if they gained on health or lost on taste!

And then they ran:
Health was not a lost case at all as over 1,500 enthusiasts from Jaipur, nearby cities and other part of the country got together for the last act of the three-day event – 10km and 5km marathons. Post 10, the Mubarak Mahal and the grounds had an altogether different buzz to them as groups of runners, in their colourful sportswear, started collecting around for the marathon. 
The longer run started from the City Palace gate, went to Gandhi Circle on JLN Marg and back. The route for the shorter run was from the Palace to SMS Hospital and back. Flagged off by the erstwhile royal Padmanabh Singh, the marathon made for quite a picture with traffic-less roads and lit-up historical buildings as the backdrop, showcasing the citys beauty in the night.
Just like night and moonlight adds to romance, Jaipur by Nite did to the citys charm with its presentation of music, food, fun and the run. Do mark the dates for the next year to experience this yourself.
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Music for soul in Pink City

Indian Ocean and Mame Khan spellbind all with their performances at Jaipur by Nite.




There’s a reason Indian Ocean songs would not be played at dance parties, weddings or at DJs – they have a meaning. Their songs take you to a level where you understand them and not just hear. Their compositions are the ones that give you goosebumps. Perhaps why they rightly complement the classy, royal and select setting of City Palace, Jaipur, and vice verse. 
The second day of "Jaipur by Nite" couldn’t have had a better finish than Indian Ocean belting out their soulful fusion of folk, classical, rock... The women’s car rally on September 9 kicked off the fifth edition of the event. The second day, September 15, was dedicated to quenching your soul and tastebuds.
If Indian Ocean, preceded by Mame Khan, took care of the soul, the food stalls from across the city didn’t let down the appetite. The colourfully-lit and looking all the more royal in the night, the City Palace, with a bunch of kalbeliya dancers and performers around Mubarak Mahal, had set up the stage for the musical fulfilment at Sarvatobhadra Chowk. With Jaipur Princess Diya Kumari and Maharaja Padmanabh Singh being the brand ambassadors of the event, there was enough glitterati in presence. As Rahul Ram, the founding member of Indian Ocean, and Nikhil Rao stirred up their strings, Tuheen Chakraborty and Amit Kilam slowly adding the beats, you waited impatiently for Himanshu Joshi to add words to the melody and the mood the others had started.  
Be it Mann kasturi jag dasturi baat hui na puri re or their tribute to the Narmada river Maa rewa tharo paani nirmal khal khal behto jaye re their tunes and lyrics just stay with you. And when they sang Kabirdas, you just wondered if life was actually so simple or we just forgot about the simplicity.
Theirs is not that meaningless cacophony that maybe makes you dance for a minute or two but doesn’t go beyond that. Even if it was Tandanu, a Kannada lullaby that Rahul Ram knew since childhood, a word of which you would not understand if you are from Hindi heartland, like me, the sheer energy of the song was enough to lift your spirits up. Their rendition of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Akhiyan udeek diyan made everyone sway.
The Pakistani legend seemed to be the flavour of the evening as earlier Mame Khan also paid tribute to the singer with Saanu ik pal chaen na aawe. The Manganiyar singer from Rajasthan, known globally for his folk and sufi renditions, had actually set the mood for the evening by starting the musical night with his version of Kesariya baalam aoo ni padhaaro mhare des. Mame Khan and his troupe with sindhi shehnai, kartaal, presented all the flavours of Rajasthan at Jaipur by Nite. 
His Aave re hitchki from Mirzya by Gulzar, the folk version of famous Nimbudaa nimbudaa that was adapted for Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam, and Dama dam mast qalandar just made the Friday night a perfect one for everyone there. 
So, make sure you keep September 15-16 reserved for this one-of-a-kind night tourism event in Jaipur next year. Check put the next post telling you all about the food and the third day of the event.
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Happy Move - Save our Heritage, An initiative by Hyundai Motor India...

"We owe this Earth to our future generations"
The most visible landmarks of this Earth are the heritage monuments. We might have inherited these monuments in a fragile state, but it is our duty to make it better for coming generations.
Country like India which is going full throttle on the development road; there is need to stop a while, look around and think about the values and culture we need to carry along with. In our quest to move into future, we should not forget our roots, our past and our glorious heritage. In absence of proper maintenance, most of jewels of our heritage are lying in dilapidated condition. Small awareness and small efforts by everyone can make a big difference in preserving these symbols of cultural expressions and evolution.
One of such initiative, “Happy Move – Save our Heritage” has been taken by Hyundai Motor India Ltd. (HMIL) to spread awareness about preserving the heritage.

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Simhastha Kumbh, Hangover that refuses to end...

Yes this is one hangover we will never try to get rid of, in fact will treasure in a corner of our beings, forever. We are talking about our adventure/pilgrimage/ educational tour to Ujjain during Simhasth Kumbh Mela, whatever one would like to call it. Yes the grand carnival or Mahaparv (Grand Festival), celebrated by largest human gathering on Earth in every 12 years, this time from 22nd April – 21st May 2016. Excitement and nostalgia of being the blessed one for getting a chance to take dip in the holy waters and experience the Day 1 Shahi Snan was overwhelming and uncontrollable.
Day 1: Shahi Snan at Ujjain Kumbh
We five ladies having introduced to the sanctity of the dip in the river during the Kumbh set out to have our own trip to Ujjain. The plans begun, tickets booked, all happened as though someone was over looking us and we landed in Indore on our way to Omkareshwar.

The drive to Omkareshwar from Indore was comfortable and we were welcomed by the hottest blow of air as we got down visiting the temple at Omkareshwar. After the darshan at Omkareshwar and a relaxed visit to the temple, we settled down to a comfortable stay at the MP tourism hotel. Next morning we set out for a dip in Narmada, and we were pleasantly surprised by the group of Bengali ladies who joined us. All were much older than us, but their pure joy as they took the dip unabashed was inspiring. Some hung on to our arms as they wished to swing for a while in the water, as we city bred cautious ladies, were looking at the rocks with moss on them cautiously.  Narmada with her quite, magnanimous way had lessons to teach us, in that little while. Mother after all, she is. We were wondering which other culture in the world has so much reverence to the life giving rivers: Calling them rivers, bowing to them, energizing oneself with a dip in them, praying and lighting the lovely lamps that shine as the stars which came down to earth for a walk.

Very soon we left for Ujjain and a brief stopover for a hearty lunch in Indore. The ride was smooth and we reached the hotel after an eventful journey in the last leg resulting from security and logistics issues set out by the MP govt. Those of us who visited Ujjain during the last year could not help but notice how elaborate the arrangements were and the efforts that have gone in to make the visitors comfortable.
The presence of the police and local administration at every corner overlooking each detail is wonderful. Even the hot summers were thought of and sprinklers in the temple made our visit to the temple comfortable and memorable. Water in the river is cleaned regularly, boats with personnel on watch make your dip worry free. Did we ladies go there for a dip in the river Shipra, yes we did, for a darshan of Mahakaal yes we did, for an experience of the ancient holy city of Ujjain which has the liquor drowning Kaal Bhairav, Lord Krishna's school Sandeepani ashram with a beautifully sculptured well in its compound  which would put any swimming pool of the modern schools to shame and the ancient caves (giving us the glimpses of the conditions people set themselves out for to find the limits of human possibilities, etc.). But we were also asking for more as we wanted to visit the “Akhaadaas”.
What are these akhaadaas? Knowing not much more than that these are places where Aghoras, Naga Babas might be present, we were keen to have a glimpse of them after reading and sharing a few books on them not too long ago. We set out to visit the Akhaadaas finally, the ones where the Naga-Babas will be there. The walk through these lanes was nothing that can be remotely termed as serene, spiritual or calming. Each of these tents were as bright and loud as any exhibition a middle class Indian visited at any time in his life. Each of them were open and inviting. We chose to sit with one and found him smoking continuously, we were informed he has an ashram in Gujarat which is frequented by many and his complexion is so spotless and clear would give any fancy facial and makeover a run, that, in spite of smoking uninterruptedly.





To our wonderment, some yogis and sadhus were walking or simply sitting in Digambar Avastha.......a clothless state. The Nagas…! For some, smoking seemed their only interest. Even when they smoked it was not casual, careless. It looked like there was some purpose behind their smoking. Some looked fierce, some were compassionate. They had given up families, worldly life even the clothing...Actually, after a while when we saw many who were smoking and smoking various stuff, were thinking that these babas are actually poster boys for tobacco industry. They all looked fit, energetic and that in spite of chain smoking. What are these people doing that we are missing, our experience from the urban world is - you go to any specialist and if you ask him to cure you, he tells you to stop smoking, and we know how much that is possible.
Another experience worth mentioning is from a baba we named the “Joyful One”. In all my life of five decades and more, I have not met any who is so joyful for so long for no reason. Watching him is being a life lesson; he stands on one leg, and takes support on a swing that has been put up temporarily. Was he told he got 99.9% in SSC today, did his child get into IIT today or did he win a lottery today, none of these or any of the many things which most of us are slogging away all the time for this reason, but HE IS JUST PLAIN JOYFUL ALL THE TIME...!
We were amazed and anxious that how can someone consistently be so joyful for sooo long? We were with him for over 45minutes. He made us chant Om Namah Shivaaya and was open to questions, answering joyfully whatever one throws at him. When asked how he remains so joyful he said what is the reason not to be, all have the same soul, we come and go why not to be joyful. Even I know those answers but WHY AM I NOT SO JOYFUL? When he heard I am from Andhra he quickly dialled a number and wished I talk to the lady on the other end. Even as my group was leaving I could not say no and waited to talk expecting a bigwig from the other end looking at his enthusiasm. After a couple of minutes I heard a lady who was on her way to gulf for a petty job and encountered this Swami in Srisailam. Did someone say “Do not judge people by what they do but how they are?” 
After a couple of hours of this round we were feeling tired so decided to relax on the beautiful ghat, bank of river Shipra under the full moon. It was a beautiful sight and ambience par excellence.

We found a baba with nothing on him but a sack wrapped around his waist. We had been warned before that these people do not like us dwindling into our purses so we ladies took out some money and kept some handy as our budget for the day. Having come to the tail end of both our energies and our budget for the day our last tens were all we were left with. We went down and gave that to him and he graciously accepted without a thought and started talking to us. In no time we knew he was educated and very well travelled. When he found where we each came from he listed out all the holy places around and encouraged each of us to show them to the others in our group. Srisailam to Dwaraka to Girnar nothing he missed. All throughout during the conversation he was with quick wit and understanding and surprised us totally. When we look back today we feel sorry for ourselves and the assumptions we had as we set out on our encounter with him. In our culture, we hear that we should be grateful to those who accept anything from us; this experience indeed taught us that to core.
Also there were Naga Babas around, with ash on their bodies and in all different ways possible, long hired ones, high hired ones, etc, etc. how can one human being with nothing on their body, terrorize everyone around. No one can stand in the way of Naga Babas. We could not but help thinking of them as “Emperors with No Clothes”.
Having more than possible assumptions and expectations cultivated from the urban world getting destroyed in one evening, we could not but wonder which university in the world could have taught us more in one evening. These are people who stretch the physical limits to teach us what is possible with ourselves physically. Having achieved the heights of so called success and material well being, when the junta is lost for happiness and look grim, they show us how to be absolutely joyful with nothing much round you. They are in our world hidden, quietly stretching the human possibilities. Where around us we calculate the value of gifts and return gifts they offer us an opportunity to offer them unconditionally.

Next time you visit Kumbh, just do not go for Snan (Dip in the waters) it has much more to offer.
My Guru said Mahakaal dissolves you – How True.
By Lata Francis, Feruzan Khambatta, Mona Patel, Pooja Mehta and Usha Boppana – Isha Meditators.
Thanks to the blessed ones who got this sacred opportunity to experience this sacred conclave of humanity and one of the greatest festival for the mankind…Waiting for my turn to be at Kumbh, may be this one or the next one... 

To reach Ujjain:
By Train: Ujjian is well connected by railway with most of the major cities in India
By Road: Well connected with major cities
Nearest Airport : Indore approx. 60 km., regular flights ply from all the major cities.
Accommodation: Dharamshalas near Mahakal temple, MP tourism guest house and there are number of hotels in Ujjain to suit every budget
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Teej Mahotsav - Jaipur

Teej festival marks the arrival of the Sawan (month of monsoon) and is celebrated for two days in Hindu month of Shravan (July-August). Teej is celebrated in many parts of the country; however, when it comes to celebrations Jaipur clearly steals the show. The scent of the soil wetted by monsoon rains on the desert region is simply amazing and absorbing.


An extravagant procession scheduled for 2 days in the lanes of the old city brings the whole city out on the roads to mark as welcome of rain gods. Teej Mahotsav (festival) creates an aura of a grand carnival covered in blanket of age-old traditions. The grand procession gets a traditional start from City Palace, Tripoliya Gate.


Traditional Rajasthani dances enlightens the procession

Teej festival is dedicated to Eternal or divine couple of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. One day before this festival is celebrated ladies put Mehandi on their hands and traditional sweet "Ghevar (घेवर )" is consumed. Ghevar is prepared only during this time of the year. Girls wear new clothes and mothers-in-law gift jewellery to newly married daughters-in-law on her first Teej after marriage.

Goddess Teej Mata in Palki                                                                         The procession

In Rajasthan Camels are part of life and they are beautifully decorated and are intricate part of Teej Festival. Also many artists showcase their skills:


Elephants enjoy a special place in Indian culture as an eternal omen of good luck. Decorated elephants are a real delight to the eyes.

Decorating the elephants is an activity in which you can also be a part. You can indulge in many such activities.


This festival is attended by tourists from all parts of the world. You have to be a part of the moment to experience the magic moments in the Pink city of Jaipur. Make your plans for upcoming Teej Festival, 2nd half of August.



I was totally unaware about this grand magnum opus, but surely this has the potential to be one of the grandest celebrations on this earth. With its unmatched heritage, no doubt Jaipur is one of the most visit spots on the earth. Popular attractions are well known, but Jaipur has a couple of rare offbeat attracations, worth visiting. 


And if you keep an extra day, you may visit Chand Bawdi, which is 90 Km. from Jaipur on Jaipur-Agra road, you will be surprised by this hidden spot. 
Keep travelling Guys...

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