The Art of Gifting-Redefined

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, here are a few other ways to make that someone feel so Special! Top Story on Gifting!

Today, I am talking of an amazing company, Giftxoxo.com, that has taken the art of gifting to an altogether new high!

Gifting is a very personal affair and requires a lot of panache.Yes, it does please the gift receiver but, the manner of gifting can elevate personal relationships on a more solid and long lasting footing.

But, before I tell you something about this amazing gifting company, a little bit of interesting trivia around gifting.

Aurangzeb, Mir Jumla and the Koh-i-noor

It was the middle of the 17th century and the Mughal India was immersed in a bitter internecine war.There was Aurangzeb and pitted against him were the sons of Shahjehan, the reigning Mughal emperor. Aurangzeb had a very able ally in the form of Mir Jumla, the emir of Golconda. Do you know how the ties between these two were cemented?It was Koh-i-noor, the world famous diamond that did the trick! The diamond was gifted by the emir to Aurangzeb and that the bond stuck for a very long time. Today, Koh-i-noor adorns the crown of the British crown.

So, what is so special about Giftxoxo.com?

The Company gifts experiences.A gift is but a set of experiences and these experiences can  last a very long time.

Also, on a more psychological level, spending money on life experiences like vacation, concerts, picnics etc provide us greater satisfaction than material comforts like jewellery, apparel etc.

When I first read this, I thought to myself, oh no, not another cliche driven sales pitch…! But, these guys who started this Company- Sumit, Manoj, Abhishek and Kushal– actually put their fingers on the pulse of people like you and me and came up with this great idea of customised  WOW experiences.

You , me and Giftxoxo

Don’t dream your life, live it!

So, let’s say, you want to become a DJ. Holla, log on to Giftxoxo.com.

Oh, you want to try horse riding?Giftxoxo.com hai na?

Cocktail mixing?No problem, log on to Giftxoxo.com

Isn’t it a disruptive idea of unravelling layers of happiness via the Giftxoxo.com way?

http://www.giftxoxo.com/about-us

Taking the pain out of gifting

So, basically, while you are thinking of what and how to gist something to your friend, parents, boss, client etc., these guys have figured it all out- click on a product shot , see the price and choose whether you want it to be e-delivered or physically.Since, Karva Chauth is round the corner, I would want to gift something WOW to my better half via this link;

http://www.giftxoxo.com/barbeque-love–23571

I think after a long day of fasting,a feast via Giftxoxo.com would be amazing for her, no?

Still confused about how E Vouchers work? Here is the link;

http://www.giftxoxo.com/e-vouchers

And hey, if your parents live elsewhere, say in Lucknow, and they may not be really very conversant with how E Vouchers work, you can have the gift delivered to them physically.The Company has a whole lot of small and big towns covered in its delivery list, so don’t worry.;)))

And guys, don.t think whether you will be compensated in case you are disappointed.The Company will pay you back the full price if something goes wrong.

On a brighter side, it has the largest collection of curated and exclusive experiences so the range is huge and also, it has a list of 10,000 satisfied customers!

Wait, wait, wait, fellows! Did you say you want to sell your product or service as an experience here? No problems, just head to the seller section of the website.So, if you have a resort that you may want to market as a destination experience, Giftxoxo.com is the place to head to! ))

Come to think of it, I am thinking of taking my kids to this place in Delhi for a picnic;

Picnic Spot at Saras, near Damdama lake, Gurgaon

But, you know what, my secret fantasy is the Jump and Dive packages that the Company offers.I guess, I will I have to do that secretly…my folks would freak out at the mere mention of this adventure! Alas, some things are to be done all alone.

I guess it makes a lot of eminent sense for upcoming properties to market themselves this way, isn’t it?So, spread the cheer around,if you know of any entrepreneurs that may want to market their resorts, products etc, give them a shout out.

http://www.giftxoxo.com/index.php?route=account/list_an_experience

So, what are you waiting for , friends?Don.t think too much, take the plunge in the pool of life.

Hauntingly Beautiful India- Maharaas. the celestial dance of Lord Krishna

How are you my friends? It has been an amazingly long time to have written to you and I feel bad about it.No excuses, it is a just a matter of laziness, that is all.

I have been pondering about what to write and share it with you as a new blog post and here I am , sharing with you something most of you will enjoy reading.

This is the hauntingly beautiful story of Maharaas, or the celestial dance of Lord Krishna.

Maharaas1

Lord Krishna is one of the prominent figures in the history, philosophy and literature of India and the world.He is also considered Yogishwara, or the Lord of all Yogis.One of the 10 avataras of Lord Vishnu, Krishna is a friend, philosopher, guide, loving son and military strategist to various people the world over.

Krishna is associated with Gopis or maidens with whom he engages in a Raaslila all the time.Though, it has been several thousand years since he expired, the devout still see him in their imagination as God perennially engaged in dance.

Pardon me for being a bit philosophical, but this dance is eternal, without beginning or end. We all are participants in this dance without ever realizing it.

According to popular history, Krishna spent much of his childhood in Mathura and the neighbouring villages. Mathura is a few hundred miles south of Delhi.He grew up as a popular boy, having leadership qualities and saving his people from tormentors and demons. He played games with gops and gopis, another name for cowherds.

Upon reaching adulthood, Krishna left for Dwarka but, that is another story.We will talk about his childhood in Mathura here.

Most of the poets who have written about Krishna have characterised him as a naughty young child dancing merrily with his gops and gopis .This dance is called Raas but, the one that happens only once an year is called Maharaas..

Maharaas has evoked awe and great curiosity among the lay public and there are popular legends centered around it.It is even said that whosoever witnesses this Maharaas is turned to stone or tree !

But, what is Maharaas?

I understood its significance only yesterday when I wandered into the world famous Birla Temple, Delhi where a dance troupe was performing it .When the Moon reaches its zenith  and attains its  full size during the autumn season, called Sharad, Lord Krishna splits himself into different personalities and dances individually with each of his devotees.The devotee thinks that Lord is with him/ her only but, the reality is that Lord is with each and every devotee that moment.

And that night was yesterday, the night of Maharaas!

The Lord is the Supreme Being- Parabramha- and us , the atmans or souls.Maharaas is actually the communion of the soul with the Supreme Being.The gops and gopis are the souls or atmans and represent us.Krishna is the Supreme Being.

By the way, this performance at Birla Temple is on today too! You need to reach there by 5.30 pm IST.

Isn’t it amazing?

Folks, sometimes, it so happens that a philosophical message is understood much better if it is presented in a simple but interesting manner. Isn.t it?

The story isn’t over yet! I have written a blog post on a garden in Mathura where it is rumored that Lord Krishna actually descends at this time of the year with his gops and gopis and performs a Maharaas. And if a common person witnesses it, he or she is turned into a tree!Fantastic, isn’t it?Well, I haven’t been to this garden but am planning to see it.And, hey, I am not interested in becoming a tree otherwise, how will I share stories with you?

Top Amazing Destinations in India- The Pink City of Jaipur

If, I were to transport you to a dream land where the the walls of the city were painted pink, where men and women were draped in some of the most brilliant colours that we have ever seen, would you like to come back from your sleep?

Ha ha, I would much rather that you woke up from such a dream and plan for a trip to Jaipur that so vividly matches the description of the dream sequence.

A lot has been written about Jaipur, so much that I have very little material to add on to what most people in the world know about the Pink City.In the early 1700s, Raja Jai Singh, the Second, decided to bring down his capital from Amer or Amber  , from the hills , to the valley below.And, thus, Jaipur was born.

But, Jaipur did not turn pink for the next 100 years or so, when Raja Ram Singh , one of the descendants, of Jai, decided to put his stamp on the city with pink color.

A  Town Planner’s Delight

Raja Jai Singh was a man ahead of his times and had a scientific temper and disciplined mind.He could foresee that with the passage of time, his newly formed city would draw multitudes of travellers,business men, jewellers and the lay public and the city would become a bustling one.So, he, with his architects and ministers designed a city that was a perfect square, intersected with streets crossing each other at right angles and allotted specific parts of the city to specifically skilled people.The drainage of the city was excellent so, there was little chance of water spilling on to the streets and the roads were wide enough for the traffic.You would be surprised to know that the width of the main roads in the Old Jaipur area is wide as much as 111 feet!

Another reason was to avoid the frequent attacks by Marathas who had gained strength after the death of Aurangzeb, the last prominent Mughal Emperor.As long as the Mughals were strong, nobody dared to make an expedition against Jaipur as the Mughals and the Rajas of this city were allies.But, once the decline of the Mughals started, Marathas started harbouring ambitions of controlling Jaipur and its wealth.

So, you had a specific part of the city reserved for jewellers, another one for the clothes merchants, one for traders of food and vegetables, another one for ironsmiths etc. Most of these sections still exist after all these 300 years and you will find descendants of all these craftsmen even today, plying with their trade.

For all  those who want to know, the name of the chief architect is Pandit Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. A garden by his name , Vidyadhar ka Bagh still exists on the eastern peripheries of the city.

The King who gazed at Stars

Remember Galileo? Well, we had our own Galileo in the form of Raja Jai Singh who apart from being a the creator of Jaipur, was also the man behind some of the greatest observatories that the world has known.For, he set up observatories to track the movements of Sun, stars and planets in Jaipur, Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura, Varanasi and Agra.He was surely an amazing man, much ahead of his times.

220px-1_Maharaja_Sawai_Jai_Singh_II_ca_1725_Jaipur._British_museum

Trust- the second name of Jaipur

Yup, that is what I mean 100 percent. Jaipur is known the world over for its countless jewellers who carve out some of the most intricate gold and silver jewellery. People pay them handsome money for getting these masterpieces and trust is one thing that is an unwritten part of the entire transaction. No jeweller will ever cheat his customer or over charge him or her.My mother , who is now nearing 80, depended entirely on the Jaipur jewellers for buying gold and silver and never in her entire life did she once complain of fraud or cheating.So, if you want to buy expensive jewellery in Jaipur, go ahead and buy it  without any doubts regarding quality.

Most of the jewellers are based in Johari Bazaar, or the bazaar of Jewellers.

Have a sweet tooth ?

Head over to Rawat Mishthann Bhandar near the MI Road in the city.The store has a mouth watering variety of snacks and sweets and it would be a great experience for you and your family to indulge in those lip smacking yummies!

You can also drop in at Lakshmi Mishthann Bhandar, LMB for short, to have a hearty dinner or lunch. Located in the old quarters of the City, LMB has always been a favourite haunt of travellers.

Why was Jaipur painted pink?

Jaipur was an ordinary city till 1878 when the then king, Ram Singh decided to make the city more exciting to look at. He was aware that the British Prince of Wales was visiting the India shortly and the Prince would want to visit Jaipur too. Keen to show his city in a a unique manner, the king ordered all the buildings in the city to be colored pink.And thus,since then, Jaipur has remained pink.

Pink City

Welcome to the Palace

The story of Jaipur would remain incomplete if I did not take you to the City Palace.Like the City Palace of Udaipur, the palace here in Jaipur has been converted into a museum that houses ancient  arms, royal dresses and silverware. The ex royal family of the kingdom of Jaipur lives in the City Palace.

Of particular interest to visitors to the City Palace is a huge silver cauldron that was used by a king to store the holy water of Ganga while on his way to London! In older days, Indians leaving their country for foreign travel invariably carried the holy water of River Ganga or Ganges for drinking purposes.

A Queen as a cover girl

Gayatri Devi

Yes, Jaipur has the unique distinction of having its Queen on the cover page of Vogue and numerous other international titles. She was ranked among the top 10 most beautiful women in the world by Vogue.Her name was Gayatri Devi.

Born to the royal family of Cooch Behar, India, Gayatri was later married off to the young prince of Jaipur, Sawai Man Singh.The dashing prince had 2 wives already and didn’t mind the young and desirable Gayatri Devi becoming his third wife.

Man Singh was a dashing young man and served in Independent India’s army. He was an avid polo player and passed away in the 1970s in a polo accident.

The Queen lived a long life and passed away in 2009 after leading an eventful 90 years.She had a charm and enigma that very few people possess.In the mid 1970’s when Indira Gandhi, the then Indian Prime Minister declared a state of Emergency, Gayatri Devi was among the very few ex royalists who protested the move.She was imprisoned by the government for her opposition.

For much of her life, she used to live at Moti Doongri, an old castle near the Rajasthan University on the Jawahar Lal Nehru Road.This castle is private property and is closed to the general public.

Do you want to see her and hear her speak?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83H0lmbybjo

Laxmi Narayan Temple

Don’t miss visiting this temple while you are in Jaipur.

Made of marble, this temple is simply poetry cast in stone! May I also describe it of having made of cheese? It is that intricate.

Built by one of the richest families of the world, the Birlas, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is designed according to the principles of North India temple architecture.

800px-Birla_Temple_in_Jaipur (1)

The Prince of Wales Museum

The visit of Prince of Wales was immensely valuable to Jaipur for another reason- the setting up of the Prince of Wales/Albert Hall Museum.

Situated in the Ramniwas Bagh, the museum is a splendid building incorporating the Indian and Saracenic styles of architecture.The purpose behind the setting up of this building was to acquaint and interest the average Jaipur citizen of the art and craft and local customs of the people of India.Indians were also to be exposed to the ancient Babylonian and Egyptian civilizations by this museum.Do not miss this destination while in Jaipur.

Jaipur Museum

And if you have kids, drop in to the zoo that is just next door to the museum.

A fortess haunted…Jaigarh

Once you are done with the city of Jaipur, head over to Jaigarh, the ancient fort that overlooks the city, Jaigarh.

Built by another Raja Jai Singh, Jaigarh provided the defensive cover to the world famous palace of Amer or Amber.But, why am I talking of Jaigarh? It is rumoured that in the late 1970s, the fort of Jaigarh had yielded immense treasures to the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.It is also rumoured that all that money was quietly siphoned off by Ms. Gandhi to her bank accounts. Of course, this rumour remained a rumour.

Jaigarh houses an immense canon, Jaivana, which has never been used except once.The range of this canon is said to be 40 kilometres!

Jaigarh can be reached via the Jaipur Delhi highway and is nearly 10 kilometres from the city.

Jaigarh

And finally, Amber!

We finally reach Amber, the ancient capital of the Kachhwaha clan of the Rajputs.Both the Jai Singhs that we have talked about earlier belong to this clan.

Amber is actually a palace and was earlier ruled by another clan, Meenas more than 1000 years ago.An enterprising young Rajput lad, Kakildev sought refuge under the Meena king and later, when time was ripe , overthrew his master and usurped the kingdom and occupied the Amber palace.

Since then, Amber has been the seat of power of the Kachhwahas until 1727, when Jai Singh, the Second, decided to establish the new city of Jaipur.

Sheesh Mahal

Many of the buildings of the present day Amber have been the creation of the extremely energetic Man Singh, the First, who was the commander of Akbar’s army.The palace has some of the most beautiful buildings within its premises such as Sheesh Mahal or the palace of Glass.Amber should be on your “must visit” list when travelling to India.

How to reach Jaipur

It is well connected to major Indian cities like Mumbai , Delhi , Udaipur by road , train and air. It is well connected to Agra by train and road.

Rajasthan Government does a fantastic job of providing travel and stay services through its website; www.rtdc.in

Best time to visit the city is from October till March.

How do you like this post, my friends? please write to me at swayamt@gmail.com if you want my help in knowing more about the city.