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Jatoli Shiv Temple, Solan

Solan is a small town in Himachal Pradesh, but has one of the oldest breweries in India, is popular as “Mushroom city of India” and is also known as “City of Red Gold”. First 2 are self explanatory, well the "Red Gold" is for the tomatoes production, almost highest in the country.
Solan once a cantonment settlement, is one of the secrets of Himachal to be explored with some beautiful temples and scenic landscapes. Not just temples, Solan is home to tallest Lord Shiva temple in Asia, Jatoli Shiv Temple.

On way to Shimla from Kasauli, via Solan take a right turn on Rajgarh Road and drive for 8 km. to reach the scenic hilltop grand temple. Jatoli Shiv Temple is one of the sacred destinations in Solan, which attracts devotees from all over the country. Jatoli Shiv temple is the tallest temple of Lord Shiva in Asia and is also one of the very ancient temples. It is believed that Lord Shiva had visited this place and stayed for some time and reason behind the 112 ft. height of this temple is the Jatas (Hairs) of Lord Shiva.

Kanch Mandir, Indore

He was known as then "Cotton King of India", had set up the first Jute Mill in India, he was from Indore and he had penchant for creating masterpieces. Millions of glass pieces have been out together in order to built this glittering temple of glass, known as Kanch Ka Mandir. Outer Hall of this temple has numerous artifacts, all made of innovative use of glass. All that glitters here is Glass, beautiful Glass:

The temple is located inside one of the most popular markets in Indore city. The construction began sometime around 1903, but location of this temple is located inside a busy market was baffling me. Probably market got developed over the time around this popular spot; however the ITWARIYA market is much older than the temple.


Canada: Best foods to try

I will continue driving for rest of my life on the above roads. With such locations; no doubt, Canada is one of the most desirable tourist destinations that you can find out there in the world. Since it is the second-largest country globally, you will be able to discover a fascinating geographical variety.


This is the main reason behind the thriving tourism industry that exists in the country. The main tourist attractions you can find in Canada are centered around Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Niagara Falls, Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, and the Canadian Rockies. The large cities in Canada are well-known for their diversity, historic sites, and national parks. 


Best places to visit in Oman

Oman, formally the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab nation on the Arabian Peninsula's southeastern shore.
Holding a deliberately significant situation at the Persian Gulf's mouth, the United Arab Emirates flanks the country toward the northwest, Saudi Arabia toward the west, and Yemen toward the southwest. Arabic is the official language of Oman.

And they happily Gifted Ever after

And finally there was a much cherished smile on her face. 

I was relieved for a moment, but the analytics were anxiously analyzing if the smile was indeed genuine appreciation or was just a receipt acknowledgement, like the normal practice over past few years. So next few days were spent in careful observation and finally getting a confirmation that I have pulled off a miracle, with an awesome Gift this time. Finally, I was Happy OYE.

Being an engineer I have been often, not often but regularly accused of being a calculator/ someone who can solve any problem on the earth but cannot select even a proper gift for occasions. Situation was not different this time, as my marriage anniversary was approaching and I was again searching for that Perfect Gift, as usual scared/ terrified and confused on what to GIFT. So to be on a safer side I was again placing my bets on yet another COFFE MUG for this year as well, albeit with a different picture. However, I have exhausted more or less all the pictures for the cause as well. 

The problem we face, is what to Gift and where to find such a gift that conveys exactly what you want to communicate. If my better half reads this post somehow, she should believe that I have had tried number of websites and shops for that special gift, but somehow was unable to find that just right Gift, my kind of Gift - remember Maddy from RHTDM movie. Perhaps like many gift shoppers, I was unsure about what to look for and always used to feel insecure about the selection.

Finally some Angel must have felt pity on me helpless state and I somehow landed on a website which offered numerous options for personalized gifting. I found the gifting options so unique that frankly it took some time for me to let the ideas settle in my mind and synchronize with my ideas to the available gifts. I spent about a couple of days exploring the site and this was the selected one (Combo of Mirror greeting, Personalized Coffee Mug and Lit for You bottle) which swiftly got delivered. I only had to make the settings for a romantic evening -

The expression of my better half conveyed that Gift has won the day for me. 

First one which comes to notice is the Coffee Mug. The actual name of this mug is Happy Mug and is hyper personalized with every possible liking of your beloved and in fact many things that describe your favorite person. Prior to this, I always used to think all these small things do not / may not matter. But I was wrong, as I was realized now the importance and meaning of such small points. The feedback on this was an OYE HAPPY moment. 

Mirror Greeting comes with a lovely playful message - Content inside the Card with a mirror reads ‘There was a very close call between baby pandas and you and the mirror has chosen you’. No worries whomsoever will open this will surely be going to fall for you.

Lit for You, a small jar –   

Your question is not the packing box and you can get the feedback with a click; this small jar is equipped with a battery operated light. Your partner has to just flick the button to say YES. Very handy, in case your partner believes communicating/ you understand without words. 

While writing this post and recalling this gifting exercise, I realized in the process that for a Happy relationship, there has to be something more than just Passion and Love; a genuine liking and this liking needs to be reinforced time and again to your beloved. Writing is easy, speaking is better but best expressed with a meaningful GIFT, for an OYE Happy - HAPPY OYE moment

Last but not the least, the packaging. Packaging may be the last activity for the sender, but it is the first one to be noticed by the receiver. Study cardboard box, well wrapped mug and nicely accommodated other 2 items.

To summarize – Now I will be no more scared about finding that Gift and now actually waiting for next occasion. Very sure such personally crafted gifts by OYE Happy, will keep the buyers bonded with the site, the way their Gifts will keep the loved ones together forever.


Krishnapura Chhatris, Indore

Rise of Marathas during 17th century lead to emergence of one of the most significant power in India which is mostly credited with ending misrule which was prevailing in those times. Brilliant commander like Tanhaji, supported by courageous chiefs like Holkars, Bhonsale, Scindia, Gorkwads, established a kingdom based on Indian traditions and culture.

Brilliance of Indian soul is that gallantry comes along with patronage of arts and culture. Be it Rajputs or Marathas, their swords crushed invaders time and again and their chisels crafted architectural wonders.

The way Rajasthan is full of exquisite masterpieces, a testimony to the artistic flavors of the Rajputs; similarly the Maratha Rulers also had exquisite taste for architecture which is immortalized in the form of the Krishnapura Chhatris, a spectacular combination of visually appealing stones, visible at the first glance.

Heart of Indore is the address and I was fortunate to be at Krishnapura Chhatris, the resting place of the Holkars. Development of Indore and nearby areas like Maheshwar is solely credited to the Holkar kings, who kept the soul intact till 1948. 


Karla Caves

Ray of light peeping out, all of a sudden from behind the dense leaves or drops of rainfall after a long hot spell. Perhaps one of the best experiences, which is delightful to everyone as a change from regular.

Now try to recall, when was the last time you felt elated on getting a surprise day off or just a half day off from your official duties? Most of us prefer to go home and relax or settle for an outing with family. But some out of mind boring people think of driving to some nearby locations. For a long time, I had been hearing about ancient rock cut caves near to Dolvi, which had became a weekly visit affair for me. Subconscious mind was always craving to make a trip, however business routine always used to shackle my spirits/ my legs whenever I dared thinking about to explore this spot.

One fine day, got a surprise when all the business formalities got finalized without much discussions and I realized that I have got a few hours for myself. Around 65 km. from Dolvi would have been slightly difficult on my feet or by public transport to return back by night, so requested a friend for his bike. He obliged and also informed me about the route. What a feeling it was gearing the bike🏍 after a long! My spirits, legs, hands and eyes; seemed everyone was also craving for a break. That was it; the lone ranger has started the drive to Karla Caves, the much cherished spot. 

65 km. separated me from the Karla Caves, a complex of ancient rock-cut caves located at Karli near Lonavala. It took me around 1.5 hours to reach the spot. Not just a spot, it is a grand example of Indian architecture expertise, for which even mighty mountains were just a canvas.

View from outside, for a moment turned me into Indiana Jones and so was ignited the curiosity to explore the interiors and unwind some ancient secrets – 

There is no definite information on the timelines of these caves, but believed to have carved around 2nd century BC and thereafter 5th century AD. A grand hall is the first one you come across on entering inside the caves. Large open space must have been a gathering place. This is probably the biggest temple hall I have come across in such constructions.


Udaygiri - Glory intact in stones

While following the road marks, I was snaking in the foothills of the Jajpur district in Eastern Ghats and completely desolated areas and vacant roads were the onoly company. Finally I reached at the spot, which was precisely located in a picturesque valley.


The Lepakshi Temple - Poetry on Stones

At times when airlines inform you well in advance about your flight getting late, but you might have already started moving towards airport, what will you do in such a situation?
You have 2 options; interesting one is to continue to airport, enjoy food and drinks at airport lounges, have a jolly good time and relax. And boring option will be to start searching for any on the way attraction and wear out yourself. It happened to me when, I was already on way to Bangalore from Vijaynagar. To decide, I opted for the boring option to explore Lepakshi, a small village in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh which was 15 km from the highway.

After accounting remaining travel time, I had precisely 2.5 hours to spend at Lepakshi. Lepakshi as pronounced locally is the place where king of bird “Jatayu (जटायु)” left this mortal world, in arms of lord Ram. There after Lord Ram requested heaven to accept Jatayu by saying "Le-Pakshi" (take the bird) and that is how, we now know the place as Lepakshi.
This small village is house to one of the most amazing architectural wonder in India, perhaps in the world, the Veerbhadra Temple with hanging pillar. I knew that I was about to step into a wonderland, the moment I took the first step inside the sacred premises. 

Main entrance gate is rather small, but leads to an empire of grand architectural extravaganza. Paragon of excellence in architecture, the present temple was built in 1583 by brothers Viranna and Virupanna, who used to serve Vijaynagar Empire. Temple is dedicated to Lord Veerbhadra, the fearsome avatar of Lord Shiva, which was taken to kill Daksh Prajapati (दक्ष प्रजापति ).
Main temple is surrounded by long walkways and meditation halls with exquisitely carved endless pillars and long lamp in front of temple.

Main temple has other deities of lord Vishnu, Bhadrakali, Hanuman, Ramalinga, Naga Linga and Ganesha. After worshipping it was the time to let loose of ourselves in this beautifully carved temple.
Gods, musicians, dancers, figurines of various forms are carved on every structure; be it pillars, roof and outer walls of the temple. 

And -

Roofs are decorated with mural paintings.

In the main temple premises the major attraction is the hanging pillar. Yes, the pillar is attached from the top and is not touching the ground. If you are not aware about this hanging pillar, in all probability you will miss out noticing.

You will see people coming here with towels, sheets of cloth and passing it from the space between pillar and ground. Check out -

This pillar is a testimony to the engineering expertise of ancient India. During the British era, it is said a moronic British engineer tried to move this pillar in order to find the secret. But the whole structure started shaking and the scared engineer prayed and ran away for this life.
Temple priest was a wonderful person who narrated the history of this temple in one of the most fluently articulated English and an equally eloquent Hindi, when I told about my place.
Priest advised us to next go to Nagalinga. Nagalinga is the 3 coiled, 7 headed Sheshnag (शेषनाग ,the divine snake of Lord Vishnu) shielding Naga Linga (Shiv Linga/ manifestation of Lord Shiva).

This is the first time I came across such a structure, Sheshnag over Lord Shiva. Must be some significant chapter from our heritage, but here it is a treat to the eyes. This blogger forgot how many clicks were taken were, perhaps the most in the entire blogging career.
Just behind the Naga Linga is statue of Lord Ganesha, with snake tied to the belly. Only two statues exist of this type, other one at Sasivekalu Ganesh at Hampi. Click to read.

See the structure closely the supporting pillars are not symmetric/ are different. Perhaps left incomplete or some engineering principles not known to present science.
Rock, on the left of the Lord Ganesha depicts a warrior and an elephant praying to Lord Shiva. Who this warrior is? Do not know, but I will find out and update here.

After praying to Lord Ganesha, adjacent Kalyan Mantap/ Latha Mantap was the next spot, a fairy tale in the temple premises. At this moment recalled an old Hindi song- किस कवि की कल्पना किसने दिया आकार है, ये कौन चित्रकार है? The brothers must have been poets, to have created this masterpiece of poetry in stones. I was feeling like that any moment the statues will overcome the other casing and get live, such is the level of expertise in carving here. 

Locals told that most of the design here inspire design for local sarees and other clothing items. It was then I started checking the structures more closely. Every pillar/ structure is an institution in itself. 

Soon we realized that these pillars do not have a roof. 

Why? Actually roof would have been there, but due to lack of funding/ probably the king stopped funding the construction, abruptly. It was being built to hold wedding ceremony of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Had this structure got completed, what a GRAND STRUCTURE it would have been?
Alas, why this word exist.
After this the outer part of the temple was left for exploring. As soon as we came out of Kalyan Mantap, saw a huge foot step, believed to be of Goddess Seeta. While kidnapping to Lanka Goddess Seeta, demon Ravana rested here for a while. The water on this footmark never dries, you may dry off the water by using a cloth, but it will appear again.

Nearby of this holy footmark is the dancing Lord Hanuman. Too much was coming our way much more than I could have ever dreamt off.

Main Temple structure is surrounded by verandah, tall lamp, long walkway surrounded by pillars, perhaps was meant to accommodate the visitors in Lord Shiva wedding ceremony. Do not know, but definitely work as meditation chambers.

Walking around in the verandah/ walk ways is relaxing as well as divine, and isolating you from worries of routine life. I will be a stupid if I do not believe in the existence of heaven in our temples.

More than 2 hours have passed, when the driver called me up reminding of catching the flight. I checked with airlines hoping some more delay but for the first time got disappointed by the reply - no more delay. All of a sudden, I realized that the temple floor was quite hot, however I never realized it while going around the temple. Why? Because I have been in the company of Gods, heaven for last 2 hours?
So with heavy heart came out from this wonderland and started moving towards the vehicle, just few minutes for local market.
1.5 km ahead from Veerbhadra temple and on way to Bangalore is a huge monolith Nandi, site of Basavann temple, which we have skipped while going. The size is enough to speak about engineering acumen which must have gone to make this. This is another notable example of Vijaynagar style architecture. 

This is considered as biggest Nandi in the World. Finally I was on way to Bangalore and thinking about this memorable day. While thanking the Gods for this lovely break and feeling proud on our heritage. 
Keep exploring guys.
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