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Showing posts with label Temples. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Temples. Show all posts

Bisrakh Village - Birth place of demon king Ravana

An old temple stands in Greater Noida’s non-descript small Bisrakh village. Got to know one fine day, that Bisrakh village near to Noida is believed to be birth place of demon king Ravana and that ancient temple stands testimony to that. Ooh la la, I have been in Noida for the last 8 years but never had heard about this village and this associated history piece.

After speculating for a couple of weeks about the place and searching on internet about it, one fine Saturday I decided to just drive and find out more about this place. It took me around 30-35 minutes from my home to reach Bisrakh village, the birth place of Ravana. Finally I reached the spot where an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva stands. Here I am at the temple entrance praying to lord Shiva and seeking benevolence to explore this spot.
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In the City of 14 Gods, Agartala

In between the journey of life, one has to squeeze moments for life.
I was travelling to Tripura, which is a hilly state in northeast India and Agartala, the capital of Tripura and is the second largest city in North-east India after Guwahati. That’s all I knew about Agartala, when I landed one late evening in Agartala. At the back of mind was the feeling that Tripura is a beautiful state so was expecting some free time to go around the city as well.
As the lady luck got benevolent on this poor fellow, I got half a day for myself and an extra 30 minutes as lunch went for a vacation. Got guided by my new friends to visit Temple of 14 Gods, known as Chaturdasha Temple, around 8 km. from Agartala. 
I hired an Auto quickly and reached the sacred “Temple of 14 Gods”, the deity temple of royal family of Tripura and was built by King Krishna Manikya Debbarma around the year 1760. All 14 presiding deities of this temple have been continually worshipped by the royal family of Tripura since times immemorial. Tradition of worshipping all of the Gods together has been a practice and has been delegated to coming generations.

This temple captures the soul of influence of nature on lifestyle of people of Tripura and no surprise, Tripura is also known as the Country of Fourteen Gods and Goddesses. Only Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Goddess Durga are worshipped all throughout the year, while other 11 Gods are worshipped during weeklong Kharchi Puja festival, around July. No worries, you can pray to the beautifully statues:

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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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The Guy with a Map in Tokyo

Nations need armies to win, but explorers need only a Map to conquer the World.

 

Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, is one of the world's most modern cities in terms of its infrastructure and design. However, it is also considered as world's most expensive city, but for travelers like me thanks to its superb rail and subway networks, it is also one of the easiest to get around. That’s all which is required to explore this beautiful city.

With one full day to explore as much as I can, I started as early as I could have from my hotel. Just around the corner from my hotel there was a small temple, so took the blessings of the Gods to make most of this day. I started from Shinagawa Station and got down at Tokyo station to walk my way towards Imperial Palace. The palace is still in use by the Imperial family. During cherry blossom season the palace is one of the most sought out spots in the city for photography. The Palace has been also known as Edo Castle in the past, home to samurai warriors.

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Sensoji Temple, Asakuza (Tokyo)

I came across many temples while moving around in Tokyo. Well, Japan is home to lot of temples. Sensoji Temple in Tokyo’s Asakuza district is considered to be one of the oldest temples in Japan. Sensoji Temple is one of the most famous spots in Tokyo and is dedicated to Goddess Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Coming out of subway station, one has to cross a long, street market to reach out the entrance.
Entrance to the temple is highlighted by the Kaminari-mon Gate, its 3.3-meter-high red paper lantern with inscription "Thunder Gate". For convenience I assumed the entrance as the Thunder Gate. Entrance to the inner temple goes via another gate, HOZOMON Gate, in local language Treasure Gate. This 2 storey gate is made of fireproof material, was lastly built in 1964.

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Meiji Jingu, Shinto Shrine with a garden

The Meiji Jingu, or Meiji Shrine, is one of the most important tourist attractions in Tokyo. A long walk from the entrance gate amidst dense forest like plantations and lot of flowers provided a shot of fresh energy.

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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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Wonderlands around Shimla...

The mountains, when covered with dense forests may look similar, but something is surely in the air. When it comes to driving nothing beats the romance of snaking in the hills around Shimla. Is something actually in the air of Shimla and surrounding places or it is just the unparalleled beauty of this heavenly region...?


Outskirts of Shimla are the places which separates visitors from explorers. If you ask people if they have visited Chail, Kufri, Mashobra and Naldehra; there is good chance to hear that most of the people would have ended on Kufri only. These four locations can be covered in a day if you start from Shimla before the first ray of the sunlight. Though you may also enjoy a night stay of perfect solitude at Chail or at Naldehra.


To explore these out of the world spots where blanket of Pine and Deodar trees grace the landscapes, this eternal vagabond started his early morning drive to Chail (51 km. from Shimla) to get an authentic morning mystic feel of the valleys. Till Kufri (20 Km. from Shimla) you will find many visitors. Once you will move ahead from Kufri, its only nature and yourself, enjoy the symphony of birds chirping, whistling of tree leaves and your camera clicks.

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Mesmerized in Shimla

Some of the places are fortunate to be blessed with all-time pleasant weather and unmatched natural beauty. For such spots you need not plan, just pack your bags and go. Located at a distance of 350 km. from Delhi, Shimla is one such destination. No doubt Shimla is always a preferred attraction in Himachal Pradesh for  tourists from every part of the world. 

Snow-covered peaks and picturesque valleys make Shimla a popular choice for a weekend getaway from Delhi. Excellent road condition from Delhi will ensure a fun filled driving till Shimla. But there is a better option, take a night train from Delhi to Kalka and then enjoy the legendary toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla. If you can afford a little extra time, trust me to take the toy train. Lovely stations and amazing natural settings will bring out your camera much earlier than expected. Start with the lovely Toy train, running on the ancient narrow gauge rails...

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Exploring divine Almora...Day 3 & 4

After a wonderful exploration of Almora and Pithoragarh district, Day 3 was reserved for counting the numerous temples in Jageshwar Dham and visiting nearby temples and spots.

First in the list was the Jhanker Sam temple, located 6 km. from Jageshwar. Lord Jhanker Sam is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The legend associated with this place is that Lord Shiva was meditating when lot of demons gathered to spoil his prayers. Furious Lord Shiva then opened his third eye and Lord Jhanker Sam was born out of it. He created an army of his Ganas (followers) to kill those demons. It is believed that Lord Jhanker Sam will return again to Jageshwar Dham to save humanity.

Next spot was the Vridh Jageshwar temple (Old Shiva Temple), 3km. uphill trek in the hills or 16 km. by road from Jageshwar Dham. It is older than Jageshwar temples and is considered to be an abode of Lord Shiva prior to coming down to present Jageshwar. 

As told by the locales once King Chand saw a cow milking itself on a stone while he was going for a battle. On further checking the place a ‘Shivling (holy symbol of Lord Shiva)’ was revealed. After returning victorious from the war, King Chand constructed this temple. Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, also houses a status of Lord Ganesha.





Try taking road to Vridh Jageshwar to cherish the vibrant natural beauty of the place.

Being situated on the topmost point in the Jageshwar valleys, the spot offers fascinating views of the nearby hills. If there are no clouds the snow-capped Nanda Devi peaks are clearly visible from this point.

Heavenly peace and beautiful landscapes; pilgrimage as well as adventures…Amazing Almora. Trekking enthusiasts can take a trek back to Jageshwar, this is the 3 km. trek from the back of Vridh Jageshwar temple…

And the last nearby spot was the Dandeshwar temple complex, dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is the biggest shrine of all the 500 temples in Jageshwar. Contrary to custom the Shivling here is a natural uncut rock. Flowing water steam and adjacent hills provide a fantasy tale setting to this temple.

Read more about DandeshwarTemple…

By late afternoon we were back at Jageshwar, the evening was totally reserved for exploring the Jageshwar temples and take part in the evening worship, AARTI at the temple.

There are around 500 temples spread across the hills surrounding the Jageshwar Dham. Keep on exploring the beautiful surroundings, keep on counting the temples. This is the most beautiful complex of temples in Almora or temples in India, I have come across.

Uttarakhand is called as देवभूमि, Land of the Gods. At Jageshwar there is no doubt Gods must have stayed or still are staying at this place.  There is also a museum, 50 m. from the Jageshwar Dham, which carries an intricate treasure of beautiful statues. Do take some time to visit this, you will be astonished by the art... 
Photography is strictly prohibited inside the museum...

The Aarti finishes by 6:30 PM and thereafter the Jageshwar town goes to sleep. That finished our Day 3 as well in Jageshwar. Perfect harmony with nature at Jageshwar. Read more about Jageshwar...

Day 4: After early morning worship at the temple, we set out for return journey to Kathgodam. We had night train from Kathgodam, so we had sufficient time to cover the Katarmal Sun temple and Bhimtal.

Katarmal is 16 km. from Almora town and hidden inside cluster of hills. Visit here is all joys and curiosity how such a gigantic construction took place at this spot. Once in year, the first ray of sun falling on temple enlightens statue of Sun God in the temple and many devotees from the nearby places visit this temple. Katarmal is one of the perfect offbeat attractions in Uttarakhand.

It will take around 1.5-2 hours to cover. Read more about Katarmal…

While cruising via Almora, do try the delicate sweets of this region. Bal Mithai (बाल मिठाई) is a brown chocolate-like fudge, made with roasted khoya (thickened/ dried milk by heating), coated with white sugar balls. Singori or Singauri is a sweet made with fresh Khoya and wrapped in maalu leaf.

In the way we came across a spot called “Frog Point”. Out of curiosity we stopped the car and went ahead on the suspension bridge to see this place. A huge rock resembling the shape of frog is lying at the river bed and most of the visiting vehicles stop at this point. Check out…

Finally, towards the end of our journey we arrived at Bhimtal. Prominent attraction here is the Bhimtal lake which is named after Bhim, the most powerful of the Pandavas. A huge lake with an island at the centre is a major attraction. One can enjoy boating in the lake, horse riding, mountain biking and hang gliding at Bhimtal.

Bhimtal is the place which connects Kathgodam to the Kumaun region and to Nepal and Tibet. It might have been the part of the famous ancient silk route. There is a big market nearby to lake and one can enjoy every cuisine in this market.
After Bhimtal, Kathgodam railway station was in sight and it was the time to cherish some amazing memories which we accumulated during 4 days of exploring undiscovered Almora and Pithoragarh districts of Kumaun region.

About Kumaun:
State of Uttarakhand consists of two regions Kumaun and Garhwal. Kumaun region is made up by districts of Almora, Bageshwar, Champawat, Nainital, Pithoragarh and Udham Singh Nagar. It is bounded on the north by Tibet, on the east by Nepal, on the south by the state of Uttar Pradesh, and on the west by the Garhwal region.
People of Kumaun are known for their bravery, valour and indomitable spirit. They carry the title of martial race and Kumaun regiment is one of the most decorated regiments in Indian army.

To reach Almora:
Nearest major centres and railway stations are Haldwani (88 km.) and Kathgodam (85 km.). Regular bus services are available from Haldwani to Almora. If you are coming by train get down at Haldwani station as most of the buses start from Haldwani.
By Train: Haldwani/ Kathgodam are connected to New Delhi with regular train services.
By Road: Almora is well connected by bus services from Delhi and other nearby cities.
By Air: Nearest airport is at Pantnagar, 149 km. However very few flights operate for Pantnagar.

Keep travelling Guys...

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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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Sonagiri, the Milky Hill...

By now we have explored almost every road in ChambalRavines, to further extend our safari beyond Gwalior we started our drive towards 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 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 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.
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Golden City of Jaisalmer

This is a place whose skyline is crafted in Gold, has been a travellers’ delight since long. Located in the heart of scorching and arid Thar Desert the Golden Yellow colour becomes a delight to eyes much before the majestic “Jaisalmer” begins.

 

Boarding an early morning train (Delhi-Jaisalmer Express) from Blue City of Jodhpur, we comfortably arrived in “Golden City” at 11:15 AM with second half still with us to explore. The mighty and impregnable fortification of “SONAR Qila” rising like a mirage from the ground, which is also the largest living fort on this earth is the landmark and defines the skyline of this city.

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From Udaipur, On the trail of Maharana Pratap...

Such is the richness of heritage in Rajasthan that almost every street, every village and every corner has been  an intricate block in the exquisite historical panorama of this country.
Majority of the attacks on India during ancient times originated from the West. It was the exemplary courage and selfless sacrifice of the brave Rajput rulers which had weathered most of these attacks time and again. Rajasthan has played a much significant role in preserving the fabric of Indian tradition and culture.

After the grand Chittorgarh, our excursion took us to "Udaipur", the city of Lakes. As I always say - The best plans should be kept early in your schedule. In line with my philosophy the first on schedule was the "Walk down the history lane which had witnessed the legendary battle of Haldighati, from Udaipur to Nathdwara via Haldighati".

All the good things start with praying to God, just on the outskirts of Udaipur there is a small temple of Lord Krishna. However you have to climb a 100 steps to reach to the temple. After praying we were all set to our first destination, Haldighati Museum.

This is the route which had once witnessed the battle of Haldighati. The excursion around Udaipur has been designed in such a way that one gets to walk the way which was be taken by Maharana Pratap for the battle of Haldighati. The hospitality of the local population is amazing and is worth mentioning. They are always willing to go an extra yard to assist the tourists in order to metamorphose their good experience into an excellent one.

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Udaipur: Isn't Venice - Udaipur of the West..

It was all excitement and counting of days as soon as we planned a trip to Udaipur, one of the most romantic places in India and also popular as “city of lakes”. Every lane of the city is worth falling in love and network of Seven (7) lakes provide an ideal setting for romantic evenings. Established by Maharana Udai Singh in 1553, when he shifted the capital of Mewar from Chittorgarh. Udaipur City is one of best examples of Royality defined from India is one of most visited tourist destinations across the world. 

 

Along with Chittorgarh, Udaipur is a proud constituent of Mewar region. Mewar is the region which has weathered most of the attacks coming from the West to protect India. The folk tales of brave Rajputs and Maharana Pratap can be heard at every street and corner of this city. After history hunting at Chittorgarh, it was the time to discover the Grand Udaipur City.


As all good things shall start by prayers; one auto rickshaw driver advised us to first visit the Manshapurna Karni Mata Temple on the Machla Hills and enjoy the ropeway ride to reach the temple on top of hill. While enjoying the ropeway, one can click some breath-taking views of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Park adjacent to Doodh Talai Lake.



From the ropeway, the distant emerald Lake Pichola was visible and calling us to cherish the legendary boat rides on its blue waters. As soon as we returned from the temple, within no time we were at the boat ride station entry.

In the front of us were visible the noted monuments of Udaipur. The Boat ride will take you closer to Udaivilas and Lake Palace hotels which are situated in the middle of waters. Lake Palace used to serve as royal residence during summers.


All the lakes are interconnected. While enjoying our ride, a beautiful channel of connection of Lake Pichola with Fatehsagar lake.

No doubts all the boats gather at this point to click, this beautiful spot. Now I fully understood, why foreigners prefer to call Udaipur as “Venice of the East”. Venice must be feeling proud on this comparison with Udaipur. Check out Udaipur City from the water side...
Ride turned a full circle and the majestic City Palace, the royal residence of royal family of Udaipur was standing in front of us.

City Palace is complex of 11 palaces, courtyards and gardens and acclaimed globally for its intricate peacock mosaics, something heard only in mythological stories. A good part of City Palace is now turned into a museum. Camera is allowed inside after paying the prescribed entry fees. Take your camera to capture the grandeur from inside...
Also can have a royal meal inside the premises:

Around 200m. from City Palce is the major attraction and much visited Jagannath temple or Jagdish Temple.

It is believed that Lord Jagannath ordered the Maharana to build a temple in Udaipur where the God himself will come to bless this place. This 100 ft. high temple is also an architectural marvel and various mythological stories have been carved on the walls of this temple.

One has to take 32 marble steps to reach the temple. And to welcome the visitors, there stands two huge elephants with its trunk uplifted on either side of the stairs.
These elephants were built 11 stones’ blocks with such a craft that the joints are never visible. Lord Vishnu is called as Lord Jagdish here and is the worshipped deity here.







Located at the north of Lake Pichola is the Fatehsagar lake, which is an artificial lake and one of the most popular tourist hangout destinations in Udaipur.

Surrounded by Aravalli Ranges, the panoramic lake looks like an artists sketch. It is an ideal place to enjoy some quite moments with yourself or some romantic moments with your beloved.
Near to Fatehsagar Lake is the Maharana Pratap Memorial, the life of Maharana has been depicted by paintings. The most prominent being a caricature of Maharana Pratap slicing the Mughal officer along with his horse into 2 pieces with a single blow of his sword. During the battle of Haldighati Mughal officer had challenged Maharana Pratap for a duel fight.

A model of Chittorgarh Fort is also on display, as we were coming from Chittorgarh, we started identifying all the land mark features of the fort once more...



Next in the line was beautiful aura of lush green lawns, gardens, marble art and fountains, the place known as Saheliyon Ki Badi.







Built by Rana Sangram Singh, the place used to serve as the recreation spot for the royal maids. Notable feature here is the white marble umbrella/ chhatri type of fountain at the centre.

Water dripping down in the form of thin sprays from the terrace of the cenotaphs shaped like birds, create a wonderful sight like singing rains. The Saheliyon-ki-Bari opens from 8 AM to 5 PM.

We may have clicked numerous pictures and enjoyed some great food here, but what which can not be expressed fully in the words is the experience and remarkable hospitality of the people. Something is there in the Udaipur weather. For food lovers, Sukhadia Circle is the epitome of satiating the taste buds. Come early and secure a place, else enjoy the fountains while waiting for your turn at the food stalls.

 

Every moment in Udaipur is exploration of amazing history of our motherland and some memorable romantic moments with the soil of this region. Not only Udaipur city history is spread outside of Udaipur too, take some time to follow the trail of Maharana Pratap and the battle of Haldighati


Keep Travelling Guys…

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