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Showing posts with label Religious. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religious. Show all posts

Triveni Dham, Shahpura

Whenever I used to drive to Jaipur from Delhi via NH48, I always used to thank government for the Smooth Ride. It was going on like this for ages, till one day I decided to explore what it is on right and left turns of this legendary highway. 

At one instant while driving from Delhi to Jaipur, one left turn had taken me to Bhangarh and ancient Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir. So, to explore what is there on the right side of NH48, I started Zooming-In the Google maps before Jaipur and I found one spot called “Triveni Dham”, approx. 12-13 km. from Shahpura.

It was the time to put to practice what I always tell - “Taking a couple of breaks to appreciate the beauty of the roads and surrounding spots will not delay your journey but will surely add the Magic to your spirits”. So, within half an hour from taking a right turn I was at Triveni Dham and in front of me was a grand temple premises at the bottom of a hill.

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Rameshwaram - Tracing the footsteps of Lord Ram

It all seemed like a fantasy at first. It was an auspicious full moon night. Goddess Parvati, dressed up in all the fineries, was taking the round of the Rameshwaram temple in a golden palanquin. The accompanying chants, smoke and drum beats added to the rare spectacle. The following round by Lord Shiva from his sanctum to the goddess’ almost seemed like a royal routine. And, why not, for, he is the Lord of the Lord here in Rameshwaram – literally meaning Ram’s god.

When Lord Ram returned to these shores after slaying Ravan in Lanka, despite being on the right side, he wanted to repent for the killings. He washed his hair at the spot now called Jada Teertham before worshipping Shiv. Where Laxman, Ram’s younger brother, took bath Laxman Teertham. It so happened that Hanuman was getting late in bringing a lingam from the Himalayas for the worship, so Sita built one from sand. The lingam in the sanctum of the Ramanathaswamy temple or the Rameshwaram temple is believed to be the same. And, the 22 tanks and wells in the temple’s periphery, called teerthams, are said to absolve the sins of human beings today.
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Brahma Sarovar, Kurukshetra

Where you will find the Gods, where is the heaven? 

Simple answer, please visit Hindu temples. And if you want to enjoy a walk with the Gods alongside, please come to Brahma Sarovar (Pond) at Kurukshetra.

Legend says the Sarovar was created by none other than Lord Brahma. After performing a huge Yagya (ritual) here, Lord Brahma went on to create the universe from the sacred land of Kurukshetra. Cradle of civilization, Brahma Sarovar is breathtakingly picturesque and the most visited site in Kurukshetra.  

 
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From Udupi - Coastal Drive to Gokarna

We kept on walking around on the secluded beaches, while exploring back waters of Udupi came across hanging bridges, prayed in awesome temples and over and above blended with nature at its best; this has been our journey which started from Mangalore. 


After spending 2 days in and around Udupi, we started early morning for Gokarna and with the objective to check every spot in the way and reach Gokarna by the night. Just at outskirts of Udupi we came across a beautiful church, worth stopping and spending some time. 


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Mohan Shakti Heritage Park, Solan

If you think that mountains are all about valleys, flowing water streams and precisely located temples, well your thoughts may be going for some serious reconsideration. 

Coming from Jatoli Shiv Temple in Solan and after travelling 8 kms towards Shimla, turn right on a narrow downhill road. You have to be a very confident driver for this 7 km. of road, if driving yourself, in order to find this Khul Ja Sim Sim like Treasure of our Heritage.

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LALITGIRI - The Pilgrimage from Ancient History!

Flourished under the patronage of legendary king Ashoka, the kingdoms of Magadh and Kalinga became important centers from where Buddhism spread to the outside world. Present day areas of Bihar-Jharkhand used to be the kingdom of Magadh and parts of Odisha-Andhra Pradesh composed Kalinga kingdom. At their peak these places were often referred as most prosperous regions on the earth and were full of amazing temples and universities imparting ancient Indian knowledge. However, with passage of time dust accumulated on these sites and these places gradually faded out from the eye of common people. In fact, many got buried with layers of earth and since then have been waiting to get resurfaced in future.

With the development coming to these areas, many of these extinct places are coming to life. One of the such places I came to know during one of my visits to this part with lots and lots of things to discover was Lalitgiri. Lalitgiri is situated at a distance of 10 km. beyond the River Virupa in Cuttack district, about 90 km. from Bhubaneswar which is the capital of Odisha state. Excavations in this region have indicated towards existence of very ancient Buddhist complex. With the discovery of Lalitgiri, and stitching together the chronology of event with iconographical similarities, the timeline of Lalitgiri goes back to the 2nd century BC. Based on this, Lalitgiri can be safely considered as one of the most ancient Buddhist establishments. So, I was about to walk into one of the lost chapters in our history, with due excitement.  

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Mystical Caves of Patal Bhuvaneshwar

After snaking around for most part of the day, travelling from Jageshwar in search of that coveted mysterious limestone cave temple, we were about to reach the place from where we would have got a chance to go under the earth.
14 km from Gangolihat in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand is the mysterious place known as Patal Bhuvaneshwar, (पाताल भुवनेश्वर). The meaning of “Patal” is place under the earth. Small walk of 5 minutes and we were at the entrance of this cave, which is 160 m long and 90 feet deep from the point of entrance. But we had to wait as entry to the cave is permitted only in batches along with a dedicated guide. Those suffering from high Blood Pressure and breathing problems (Asthma) are advised not to go down.


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Temple Hopping - Day out in Udupi

Situated in the state of Karnataka, Udupi is a city renowned for its fabulous temples and pristine beaches. Visiting Udupi is full of joy that is ever fresh and full of fragrance. Millions of people from all around the world come here to experience the divine serenity of these beautiful temples.


Sri Krishna Mutt is the most prominent temple in Udupi. This holy temple is the seat of Lord Krishna and is considered to be one of the holiest places in southern India.  

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Ahobilam - The Spiritual Safari

Ahobilam, a noted pilgrimage centre for Hindus, is situated at distance of around 130 km. from Kurnool Railway Station, 68 Kms from the Nandyal Railway Station and 24 km. from Allagadda.


Ahobilam, consists of lower Ahobilam and Upper Ahobilam, is the place where Lord Narasimha had manifested himself in a natural cavern of rock to rip apart the most ferocious demon Hiranyakashipu.

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Jageshwar Dham - Abode of Lord Shiva...

While the Sun had already started the return journey behind the hills, however our wandering souls with high spirits were craving to reach the divine land of Jageshwar. With every passing second, our mind was painting a different caricature for Jageshwar Dham. The fresh air was getting fresher and crispier with every turn.

 

After 40 minutes of drive from the Lakhudiyar Cave paintings shelter, the joyous moment arrived when we entered in to the Jageshwar valley around 5:30 PM in the evening. Staff at KMVN guest house advised us to first attend the evening prayer; check-in formalities can be carried our afterwards.

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Lake Rewalsar...

We started at 8:00 AM from Shimla and took the way to Kullu via Mandi. The objective was to visit Lake Rewalsar, 140 km. from Shimla. Lake Rewalsar (locally called as Tso Pema/ Lotus Lake) along with statue of Padmasambhava (popular as Guru Rinpoche in Tibet) is one of the most popular symbols in Himachal Pradesh tourism advertisements. Surrounded and hidden in rugged mountains this sacred lake is 23 km. from town of Mandi.

It was from this place Indian teacher Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche in Tibet) left for Tibet to spread Mahayana Buddhism in Tibet. Annoyed by fondness of his daughter for long haired Padmasambhava, legend says that the king of Mandi, Vihardhara tried to burn alive the sage Padmasambhava, to prevent his daughter Mandarava running off with him. It is believed that the charred corpse of Padmasambhava liquefied into water forming Lake Rewalsar. The spirit of Padmasambhava is said to still reside in the islands of floating reed since then. Statue of Lord Padmasambhava defines the skyline of Lake Rewalsar.

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Bodhgaya - Where Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment...

Long back a boy got so much disturbed on seeing the people suffering in the vicious cycle of life and death. One fine day he left his house in search of divine knowledge which can provide freedom from the cycle of life and death. The name of the boy was prince Siddhartha. He travelled relentlessly across places in search of that knowledge. Finally, he decided to sit in deep meditation to attain that wisdom under a tree. Legend says the demons of darkness, illusion and ignorance were unleashed onto him, but his wisdom conquered all the devilish forces. By now prince Siddharth had become “Lord Buddha”, meaning the Enlightened one. And the place where he attained the enlightenment was Bodhgaya.

Far from the eyes of the popular travel itineraries lies the town of Bodhgaya, the most revered destination for Buddhists worldwide. Mahabodhi temple complex is the spot where Buddha had attained enlightenment. It is one of the earliest built Buddhist temples, still standing.

References found shows that the temple was initially built by king Ashoka around 246 BC and was further revamped in 5th -6th century during reign of Gupta dynasty. The main temple is 50 m. high structure built entirely in brick is a classic example of ancient Indian architecture.


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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.


Mahamantra – “HARE KRISHAN HARE KARISHNA KARISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE


                             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 are only the visitors on this planet, enjoy and find the true meaning of life...

Keep travelling Guys...



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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 Bir Singh Palace. However no member of Datia royal family ever lived in this palace.


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Puri - The Soul of India!


Are you an adventurer or a religious buff, fond of arts or festivals or simply fun-loving? Never mind whatever you like, Odisha, (formerly Orrisa) has something for everyone! Located on the eastern coast along 500km long coastline, Odisha, the ‘Soul of India’, is a combination of scenic locations, natural and historical wonders!



Some of the major attractions of Odisha are famous Jagannath Temple in Puri, 700-year-old Sun Temple at Konark, India’s biggest salt-water lake Chilka, popular white sand beach of Gopalpur-on-sea, which is ideal for sailing, surfing, swimming and sun-bathing. Bhitarkanika and Nandankanan are among 18 of its national parks, which is home to thickest mangrove forest, red silk cotton trees and rare flora and fauna species. Tourists also visit Odisha to celebrate Durga Puja, Konark Dance Festival, Kalinga Mahotsava and the most famous Rath Yatra (car-festival).


The best time to visit Odisha is in winters, which stays between October and February, when the temperature goes as low as 12 degrees. Odisha's capital Bhubaneshwar enjoys direct flights, road and railway networks from all major Indian cities. The tourists can take taxis, buses to reach its destination from Bhubaneshwar airport. You can also book hotels online ahead of your visit but confirm your hotel facilities before booking. 

Sun Temple, Konark


Don’t miss out on 700-year-old magnificent Sun Temple located at Konark that is considered as one of the best dedications to the Sun God as it features sun’s movement around chariot. Ganga Dynasty’s King Narasimhadeva built this chariot-shaped temple, holding 24 giant wheels with seven horses, in the 13th Century. The spokes of the wheels created sundial that is said to have used in time calculation during the day. The first wheel at the temple’s entrance said to have caught the first ray of the rising Sun every morning.


The granite-made temple is also said to have contained a great mass of iron and magnets on which the entire structure stood. Of the two main magnets, one was at the top, while the other in the basement and the Sun God idol was in the air in between with the help of magnetic force. The diamond on the idol used to reflect rays of the sun, that’s how the temple got its name Kon-ark – which corner/angle of the Sun. The magnet was so powerful that it used to affect ships’ magnetic compass, forcing them to bang on to its shores. The Portuguese removed these magnets to protect ships’ destruction since Konark was major port at that time, causing the collapse of this most magnificent structure, which proves India’s architectural, astronomical and electromagnetism might. In 1984, the UNESCO also declared it a World Heritage site.


The art lovers should plan a visit to Konark in December at a time when it hosts a three-day cultural extravaganza that calls performers from across the country to show various classical India dance forms like Kathak, Bharatnatyam and Odisi etc. Spiritual tourists visit Konark during Magha Saptami Fair in full moon phases of January/February when devotees take holy bath, watch sunrise over the sea and worship nine planets as a custom.

Jagannath Temple, Puri
Odisha is home to many historical monuments and temples, among them, the most popular one is the Jagannath Temple of Puri, which is believed to have been established in the 12th century to pay homage to the Lord of the Universe. Besides its historic importance, the temple is one of the four significant pilgrimage center of Char Dham Yatra for people following Hinduism in the Indian subcontinent.

Rath Yatra, Puri
Puri is also famous for Rath Yatra or annual "Festival of Chariots" that occurs between June-July every year. During this time of the year, the deities of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra are taken out of the temple on a chariot for holy view. First the three deities are brought out and taken to royal bath and then taken back to the temple for 15-day isolation for repainting and preparation for the Rath Yatra. The festival begins with the procession of deities on the chariots on the second day of the bright fortnight of June (Ashadha) from Puri temple to Gundicha Ghar and ends nine days later on its return. Foreigners and millions of devotees from all parts of the country come to Puri at this time in a belief that the participation in the festival will earn them a safe passage to heaven. The 'Rath Yatra' will begin on June 29 and 'Bahuda Jatra' (return car festival) will be on July 7 this year.

Puri Beach


Besides being a popular pilgrimage point for religious and spiritual tourists, Puri offers a unique opportunity to see sunrise and sunset from the same beach.



Indian and foreign tourists flock the Main Marine Drive Road parallel to Puri Beach during Annual Beach Festival in November. Fine sands of Puri Beach also attract internationally famed sand sculptor Sudarshan Patnaik during this time. 



The holiday-makers can spend time leisurely in swimming, sun-bathing and playing along the roars of the mighty sea. Camel rides in moon light along the coastal line is another fun-way to enjoy your holidays in Puri. Families can also have a great time at food stalls and shopping around this time.

Bedi Hanuman Temple, Puri
India is a country of rich historical heritage with many untold stories lying in its every corner. One such is of Bedi Hanuman – a temple lies on the Chakrateertha road of Puri, near Jagannath temple. The story goes like – "Once sea created huge havoc on the town of Puri, creating trouble for saints by washing away their houses. Saints had no place for meditation, so Saint Angirasa went to Lord Jagannath and requested him to find a way for them. The Lord ordered Hanuman to save the town. Hanuman, who was very fond of travelling, stood at 'Chakrateerth' and prevented waves from doing any damage to Puri. The mighty sea could not do anything in Hanuman’s presence but would create havoc when Hanuman goes out of town. Seeing this, the saint again went to Lord Jagannath for help and the lord gave a chain to Angirasa to tie Hanuman. Next morning, when Hanuman found himself tied on 'Chakrateerth', he became very angry and stood to break the chain, but when he saw Lord Ram’s name on it, he accepted the bondage and remained there forever.

Gahirmatha Beach



Whether or not you are a marine buff, you must not miss out on Gahirmatha beach during your visit to Odisha. It is not just another beach but a place famous for nesting of ‘endangered’ Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. It is Odisha’s only marine wildlife sanctuary where Olive Ridley Sea Turtles come every year in the month of November for mating and nesting across the coast. Since the coast becomes home to migrating turtles, it is considered important for turtle conservation.



To reach Puri: Cuttack railway station at 100km away is the nearest station from this place, while Bhubaneshwar airport is only 130km away. Taxis and buses can also be availed easily from any part of the state.

Contributed by Anuja Shrivastava...

If you are planning, keep time for Kolkata too. Kolkata, the cultural capital of India is only 500 km, 8-10 hours journey from Puri.
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Sarnath - Where Lord Buddha first preached...

The Holy city of Varanasi has been a symbol of spiritualism for thousands of years and has been a centre of enlightenment and awakening for many great thinkers and preachers. Almost all the renowned saints/ personalities like Gautam Buddha, Mahavira, Kabir, Tulsi Das, Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanuja, Patanjali,....have been associated with this city in one way or other.

Lord Buddha too started his journey from this placeAfter Lord Buddha has attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya he came to "Sarnath", located 10 kms. from Varanasi. This was the fortunate place where Lord Buddha gave the first teachings of what enlightened the world as "Buddhism".

On reaching Sarnath, the first monument to come our way is the CHAUKHANDI STUPA. Stupa is a huge mound of brick-work whose square edifice is surrounded by an octagonal tower. What a gigantic structure this is...? Construction of such a huge structure with only brick work might not get approval in present times:

The Chaukhandi Stupa is believed to have originally built as a terraced temple during the Gupta period between 4th - 6th Century to mark the site where Lord Buddha and his first disciples met traveling from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath. Later Govardhan, the son of a Raja, modified the stupa to its present shape by building the octagonal tower.

Buddhists worldwide look upon India as the land of the Buddha and a visit to this country means a pilgrimage to those places sacred to the memory of the Enlightened One. Sarnath along with Lumbini, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar is amongst the four cities declared sacred by Buddha to his followers. While we were appreciating the peaceful environment here, we found ourselves at the doors of celebrated "Sarnath Temple"


It was the time for praying and thanking the GODs for their benevolence on me and also seeking their blessings for continuing my travels.

The walls of this temple are decorated by life paintings of Lord Buddha.

Lord Buddha is reforming a notorious savage:


This place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon was and still is a Deer Park. In the language of religions, Lord Buddha set in motion the wheel of Law (maha- Dharmachakra Pravartan).

Let’s share the session of Lord Buddha teachings underneath the same tree, which has been the witness of that great session.
Actual place where Lord Buddha gave his first teachings
Those 5 disciples also deserve a mention, names being - Mahanama, Kaundinya, Ashwajit, Bhadridaya and Vappaji.

One of the greatest emperors of ancient India, King Ashoka, who dedicated his life in spreading the Buddha’s message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, visited Sarnath around 234 BC and erected a stupa here. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD, and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail.

Originally said to be built by Emperor Ashoka. DHAMEK STUPA (Dharmarajika Stupa) is the most remarkable structure at Sarnath. The Stupa is a huge cylindrical structure, 28 m. in diameter at the base and 43.6 m. in height, built partly of stone and partly of brick. The stone facing the lower part is adorned with delicate floral carvings of Gupta origin.

Adjacent to the Dhamekh Stupa is a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Mahavira. The top of the main chamber where statue of Lord Mahavira rests is in scripted by a basic reality of life:

Meaning - "Whether he is a king, emperor and used to ride on elephant with great pomp and show, but everyone including him, has to die one day when his turn will come"

Most of the times we keep on living as if we are immortal and will stay on this earth for ever and on the day of our end we realise that we have never lived. However, the truth is that we are just a visitor for a small time in this world. Walls of the temples too are decorated with paintings of various Tirthankars of the Jainism.

Walkover to the back side of the temple and Dhamek Stupa to the Deer park and enjoy:

And deers too..

Sarnath is also sacred to the Jainism as Sarnath is looked as the site of asceticism and death of Sreyansantha the 11th Trithankara. Opposite to this temple is a park dedicated to Lord Mahavira:

Not to forget an exquisite museum dedicated to Lord Buddha, is the oldest site museum by Archaeological survey of India displays grand panorama of Buddhist cultural wealth and the antiques ranging from 3rd Century B.C. - 12th Century A.D. found at Sarnath.

Since photography is "strictly" prohibited inside the temple premises, so I had to content myself with only a picture of the museum building from outside. Some of the notable antiques/ statues are: Abacus, Giant Umbrella, Terracota figurines and Lord Shiva killing demon Andhak; all the antiques are dated around 1st century AD.
The Modern name Sarnath seems to be a contraction of Saraganatha (Lord of deer). Sarnath is an exceedingly tranquil place giving the universal message of peace and harmony to the entire World. With a peaceful mind and a contented soul it was the time to return to Varanasi, however while humming within ourselves:

Buddham saranam gacchami (बुद्धम  शरणम्  गच्छामि ) : I go to the Buddha for refuge
Dhammam saranam gacchami (धम्मम् शरणम्  गच्छामि): I go to the Dhamma for refuge
Sangham saranam gacchami (संघम शरणम्  गच्छामि)    : I go to the Sangha for refuge


Let’s pledge to keep this earth a beautiful place with peaceful co-existence of every soul and form of life, because a life lived for others is truly a life lived.



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Varanasi - Divine blessings in the land of temples

........................ is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.....By Mark Twain

This is a city renowned for its religious and artistic activities since times immemorial. This city has been a cultural centre of India since several thousands of years and as per the available historical details this city is older than most of the religions in the World.


Its none other than one of the most colourful, spiritual, and charismatic places in India, welcome to "VARANASI", also known as KASHI or BENARAS. Place where temples outdo the number of people, Varanasi is one of the most spectacular and visited cities on this earth. Considered to be auspicious by the presence of "Lord Shiva" this sacred place is believed to have the power of washing away all the sins; those who die and gets cremated here is liberated from the cycle of life and death and attains " मोक्ष (Moksha)".   


Varanasi is one place where you can venture out without any schedule or fixed program and take my words you will not be disappointed while coming back. There is a glorious history associated with every part of this city. No surprise you can also find people from many nationalities getting familiar with diverse Indian traditions in the city.   

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