About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Mughal Gardens, Delhi

Once we were done  visiting the Chandi Devi Temple, we were off to Delhi before catching our flight back to Chennai... But we did have a few hours in Delhi which we decided to put to good use. A friend had shared the update that the Mughal Gardens was open from 12th Feb to mid March [as it is every year] and that is where we headed. I had read about these gardens and knew it was going to be an interesting experience.. We had breakfast and made our way to the Garden side gate. There were tents where you go leave all your belongings, you are allowed to carry your phone and wallet inside. It is advisable to carry a Photo ID [incase they ask] and then go stand in a queue, pass through a security check before entering the grounds. 

From there it is a long walk to the gardens. First came the Herbal Gardens with Tulasi and other such plants [33 medicinal and aromatic plants], then came the Bonsai Garden[250 plants] , the  Cactus garden  [80 varieties of cacti] following which we walked along a path that had Musical Garden [12 musical fountains swaying to the notes]. The place is huge, a security guard I chatted with mentioned it was nearly 15-18 acres and there were over 70 varieties of flowers. The gardens were closed on Mondays for maintenance and open from 9am to 4pm on other days.  

As we walked up the steps around the corner we spotted Tulips in different colours [brought down from Holland], Roses, and flowers I had never seen before. there was also a plant with a lower called ‘Lady’s Purse’, [it is said to resemble a woman’s handbag]... 

The founder of the Mughal empireBabur, described his favourite type of garden as a charbagh. They use the term bāghbaug, bageecha or bagicha for garden. This word developed a new meaning in India, as Babur explains; India lacked the fast-flowing streams required for the Central Asian charbagh. The Agra garden, now known as the Ram Bagh, is thought to have been the first charbagh. India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have a number of Mughal gardens which differ from their Central Asian predecessors with respect to "the highly disciplined geometry".  [source: Wikipedia]

We spent nearly 2hours here, spending time reading the name tags, enjoying the beautifully manicured lawns and landscapes. But the one thing that irked me to no end was the local crowd behaving in an unruly manner. They would sprawl on the lawn or hold a flower and click pictures ignoring signs that said one was not to step on the grass or touch the flowers. The security guard mentioned it was quite a hassle dealing with the crowds. I intact suggested they put a note banning cell phones as well[ people would then stop doing these antics. Agreed crowd numbers might come down, but only the serious interested ones will come over to see the gardens] There were quite a few birds across the gardens, I also spotted butterflies amidst the plants. Scattered through the grounds were quite a few water fountains and sculptures as well.  

As we walked out of the place, we walked along a path that had water cans on one side, just what we needed after the long walk. Here too, we spotted quite a few drink water in the paper cup and throw them all over. Quite irritating! I don't mean to preach, but an extra second is all it takes to throw it in the bins provided... Oh well, people will hopefully learn soon. 

We let the gardens feeling overwhelmed at all that we saw.. The Rashtrapathi Bhavan in all its glory and the beautifully manicured gardens were quite a sight.. And with that our time in Delhi was coming to an end.. we had just about enough time to pack up and head to the airport. Ah, what a trip this has been... 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Another Ropeway to Chandi Devi Temple and off to Delhi - Part VIII

Hotel Sakoon, Dehradun at a glance... Part III 

Off to Rishikesh.. Part V

Ganga Aarti at Har ki Pauri, Haridwar- VI

Temples and Ropeways in Haridwar- Mansa Devi Temple- Part VII

We got off the ropeway and began walking back towards the shop we had entered to reach here. It was again quite a walk, but this time we were all tired and hungry/thirsty as well. Finally we reached the store, and decided to take a short break before getting back on the road again. We got the guy to make us a masala pepsi which was quite a soother.. When we enquired about the ropeway to Chandi Devi, we were told an auto had to be taken to go up the hill and it would cost us like 350bucks. After a bit of haggling and debates, we gave in and took the auto. It is another 5-8 kms from Har Ki Pauri..

The auto guy dropped us near the ropeway and said he would wait for us there. We made our way through the gates, a small children's play area towards the Ropeway. And off we went on another adventure ride up the hill. This time the ride was few minutes longer, 5mins to be specific and scenes were quite different as well. There was a beautiful forest beneath us and we noticed men standing near each of the towers. We wondered how they got there, what was their job and how boring/scary it must be just standing there all day!

Anyways, we got off the ropeway, had to go up a flight of steps, before reaching the main temple premises. Left our footwear and made our way towards the last flight of steps which were quite steep before reaching the main shrine. Wonder why God wants us to do all these treks to come visit them!! It is never as easy as getting off the road and walking into the place.. 

When I was asking around about the temple, I came to know it is among the famous Shaktipeethas in Norther India. People come to this temple if they have a wish.  According to the Hindu mythology, Lord Indra's kingdom was taken over by two demon kings named Shumbh and Nishumbh. When the demon kings crossed their limits, Chandi Devi was given birth from the cells of goddess Parvati.

[Clicked this at Manasa Devi Temple premises]

[Pic courtesy: Indianholiday]

Chandi Devi Temple, Haridwar (Hindi: चण्डी देवी मंदिर, हरिद्वार) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Chandi Devi in the holy city of Haridwar in the Uttarakhand state of India. The temple is situated atop the Neel Parvat on the Eastern summit of the Sivalik Hills, the southernmost mountain chain of the Himalayas. Chandi Devi Temple was built in 1929 by Suchat Singh in his reign as the King of Kashmir. However, the main murti of Chandi Devi at the temple is said to have been installed in the 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya, one of the greatest priests of Hindu religion.[1][2] The temple also known as Neel Parvat Teerth is one of the Panch Tirth(Five Pilgrimages) located within Haridwar. [Ref wikipedia]

While we were getting for our turn to say our prayers to the Goddess, a woman ahead of us burst out into screams and that she had been possessed by the Goddess. Her family took her aside and tried calming her down.. Oh well,the things you see in these places... I shrugged it off and made my way out of the temple, checked out the few stores along the way before heading back to the ropeway station.. I was kinda done for the trip, I was done with temples!! I am one of those who believes I don't really have to go to a place of worship to make a wish/prayer, and am happy doing it my way.. 

The ride down was fun, and we intact wanted to do just another trip up & down.. but the scaredy poo in our gang wouldn't hear of it... We instead went down to the cafe and risked our lives having what they called Masala dosa and rajma chawal..both were quite sad...  

The one thing you need to watch out for in these places are the monkeys.. They are quite a menace, infact we spotted a lady standing near the wall as two men chased after monkey that had stolen her handbag.. wonder if she got it!

Oh well our time in Haridwar was coming to an end, cos the next morning we were off to Delhi and then onwards to Chennai ... 

More follows.... 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Thursday Challenge- Empty..

The theme for today's Thursday Challenge is "EMPTY" (Vacant, Abandoned, Hollow, Empty Container/Chair/House,...)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Temples and Ropeways in Haridwar- Mansa Devi Temple- Part VII

Once we were done with the morning dip in the Ganga, my friend A had a list of temples that had been shared by another friend's sister. She rattled out the messages and my mind voice was screaming "Oh no, oh no, please let us not get dragged to all these temple.. one or two I can deal with.. not that many".. lol.. 

Friend went on to enquire about two temples at the hotel reception and the girl said they can be accessed by Ropeway["Udan Khatola" as the locals call it], which was down the road on Har Ki Pauri.. We said ok, and hailed an auto to get to the 1st temple- Mansa Devi Temple. The earlier trips had all been short and we paid the auto guy Rs10 each,this time we thought it would be slightly more.. We were in for a pleasant shock, to say the least. 

The auto guy dropped us off about 6kms down the road, and said we had to walk the rest of the way as roads were blocked. He then went on to demand Rs150 for the ride.. We were zapped.. Went and asked the cops how much it would cost and they agreed with the rate he quoted. Beaten, we paid him and began walking uphill. It was a narrow road with small houses and shops on either side. Since it was Vasant Panchami, there were kids all through the road flying kites. 

We walked and we walked and kept walking... after a point came upon a store where the guy asked if we were headed to the Mansa Devi temple. We said yes and he then asked us to go down the narrowest flight of steps to the ropeway. We went through the store, down the narrowest staircase and discovered there was a mini town down there. More shops, homes and a railway track right alongside these was what we saw...  Walked down for a km or so and we finally spotted the ropeway ticket counter.. Phew!! Bought tickets for ropeway ride to both temples [ Mansa Devi & Chandi Devi] at Rs228 per person.

While there, a lady cop called my friend aside and asked her to fill out a survey form. For what you ask? Well, there was plans of opening a South Indian hotel there and they wanted to know what dishes would work.. I joined in and we filled out the form. Also chit chatted with the lady cop, and she commented "your hindi is good, how is it that you speak it so well?" :D 

Anyways, we walked into the Ropeway centre, and the excitement within me was building up... One empty box came by, we hopped in- my friends on one side and me on the other .. And we were off, this ride was about 3mins.. The total length of the rope-way is 540 metres (1,770 ft) and the height it covers is 178 metres (584 ft). [sample video]

You get off the ropeway and walk along a path, a series of steps before reading the temple complex  Leave your footwear and walk further down to reach the main temple. Mansa Devi Temple is dedicated to goddess Mansa Devi and is located atop the Bilwa Parvat on the Sivalik Hills, the southernmost mountain chain of the Himalayas. The temple therefore is also known as Bilwa Tirth [ is one of the Panch Tirth -Five Pilgrimage sites]. The Goddess is an avatar of  Shakti and is said to have emerged from the mind of the sage (Rishi) Kashyapa.  

The term Mansa means wish and it is believed that the goddess fulfils all the wishes of a sincere devotee. People who visit the temple, make a wish and tie a red thread around the tree within the premises.  It is said that once your wish is fulfilled  you should come back and untie a thread.I also noticed many putting sticker bindis or leaving a pad of bindi around the temple. Luckily it wasn't too crowded... Oh and one thing I found weird was there were all these smaller shrines around the main shrine, with a priest in each of them. If you are interested, you prostrate before God and offer prayers, and then the priest thwacks you on our bag with his hand, and in the Hanuman shrine he had a Gaddha of sorts made from cloth that he used to thwack the devotees with... Friend got thwacked in almost all the shrines and I passed it up, happy with my Hello.. :D

Oh, must tell you how amazing the view from the top was.. It was quite breathtaking, and the ride back down to the ropeway centre was beautiful.. There are lush green forests all the way around,  trees in different shades of green and brown. The Ganga river flows like a snake down below and you just feel so free and liberated... I loved the ride and it was quite an experience. 

As we got off the ropeway and walked back to the store from where we had reached here, I was already looking forward to the 2nd ropeway ride to Chandi Devi Temple.. Had forgotten that i was being dragged from one temple to the other and looked forward to the ride, the view and the excitement.   :-) 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Skywatch Friday... Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram

This was probably the last solo trip I did in recent years and what a trip it was. Just before Diwali, I got the itch and that was it. I packed my bags and headed to Koyambedu Bus stand, hopped on the first bus that caught my eye and to my luck it was headed to Tanjore... I got off at Kumbakonam and it was my base for the next three days.  I had a small list in my head, and started off with the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram, few kms from Kumbakonam.  

As I was sitting in the bus, a lady next to me enquired where I was from, what I was studying and what I was doing in these parts of the state. She was surprised to hear I was working and here to experience the architecture and history. I got off about a km or so from the temple and walked the remaining distance. The roads were wet, from the rains that had just taken a break. 

The first sight of the temple came into my view and it was breath taking.  I walked into the long pathway, down the few steps to enter the temple. Near the steps sat a little boy who asked me to leave my footwear there, said he will take care of them for me. Since there was no one else around, I went ahead and did just that. 

The entire temple floor was wet, with few puddles here and there. As I stepped into the main temple campus, not only was I struck by how majestic it was, but I also noticed the gazillion little tadpoles all over the floor.. Guess the rains had washed them in. It was quite an adventure walking around the temple premise, making sure not to step on any of em squishes. 

Built by Rajaraja Chola II back in the 12th century CE, this temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and maintained quite well by ASI. 

The temple is in the form of a chariot being pulled by an elephant and horse with a fleet of steps. When reading about the temple, I had stumbled upon information that said the temple had  73 sculptures [panels] depicting the life history of 63 Nayanmars. The temple starts with a Mahadwara- the main entrance on the eastern side, which has been restored by ASI. The Balipeeda and Nandi come next. There was also a narrow fleet of stone steps in the balipeeda are said to produce musical notes. 

This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is called Airavateshvara here. He earned the name because he was worshipped at this temple by Airavata, the white elephant of the king of the Gods, Indra. Legend has it that Airavata, while suffering from a change of colour curse put upon him by Sage Durvasa, had its colours restored by bathing in the sacred waters of this temple. This legend is commemorated by an image of Airavata with Indra seated in an inner shrine.... 

As I walked around the temple, I was struck by how talented the craftsmen had been, how they were able to capture emotions, come up with futuristic sculptures all with no references... When I left the temple, the little boy sat there on the steps and beamed at me as if to say "See I told you I will take care of your footwear". Another man standing nearby asked me if I wanted to see a weaver's home, and took me to a house down the road where a weaver was busy creating magic out of threads.

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ... 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ganga Aarti at Har ki Pauri, Haridwar- VI

Ah, we had finally reached Haridwar, checked into the room - Hotel Khanna Palace [it wasn't in Har ki pauri as Cleartrip listing had stated but was about 5kms,which was alright..]. Since there were no traffic restrictions or crazy crowds we were in a good space. 

After checking in, we had a cup of tea and decided to head out towards Har Ki Pauri to witness Ganga Aarti. Since the next day was a special day -Vasant Panchami, friend said it would be best we do all possible today itself as it might get beyond crowded tomorrow. Off we went, walking, we walked and walked and walked till we couldn't walk anymore..[lol..i exaggerate], but we must have walked a good 3-4kms and it was close to 6pm, we did not want to miss the Ganga Aarti and so decided to hail an auto . The auto stopped at a certain point and we had to walk uphill once more for about 2kms till we reached a flight of steps that led to a path beyond which lay the main Ganga temple where they did the evening Aarti... As we were walking towards the temple, we heard the loud speakers blaring songs in praise of Ganga Maiya and Shiva.  You will find hawkers sell wick lamps or diyas to float in the Ganges.We spotted a bridge, and cops nearby. When we enquired about the Aarti, cops told us it was over but a lady sitting nearby told us to hurry and that the Aarti was just about the begin. 

Ganga Aarti was basically a small puja done for the River and Aarti showed to the river by 5 different priests around the main temple in Har Ki Pauri. The steps are filled with people who have come ahead of time and grabbed a good spot. We stood on the other side of the river which offered a good view. The temples were all beautifully lit up and all we could see was a ocean of bobbing heads and cameras ready to click away when it began. 

Ganga Aarti in Hardwar city starts at around 6.30pm. 02 times Aarti is performed daily at the Har ki Pauri Ghat. Morning sunrise and evening sunset.

Aarti symbolize 5 thing mainly these are 1) ether (akash) 2) wind (vayu) 3) fire (agni) 4) water (jal) and 5) earth (pruthvi). In Sanskrit the meaning of "Aa" is "towards or to" and the meaning of "rati" is right or virtue". The atmosphere is quite electric during this time...

Once the Aarti was over, we spent some time wandering the narrow alleys, the shops and street food here before calling it a night. We were exhausted, and had practically no energy to walk back to the hotel, but there was no choice... The night was chill, and we had to walk and walk and walk some more... just after the barricades, we managed to hail an auto and head to the hotel.. The next day was a special day, one where people who had come to Haridwar will take a dip in the Ganga... We had decided to come over around 7ish and hopefully the water will not be freezing cold then was the only thing running through our minds.. 

What happened next follows next... :-)