Amazing Destinations of India- Hauntingly Beautiful Vrindavan

 

A garden where intruders turn into trees, eyes that mesmerize you;a magical tale of Vrindavan

 

Last Thursday, as I sat cross-legged on my bed, soaking in the winter Sun and enjoying my tea and biscuits, I got a call from my brother,”Dada, why don’t you visit us at Vrindavan?”

Without batting my eyelids, I said, ‘Yes, I will come today.”

Vrindavan is a small town in Northern India but has a great historical, spiritual and tourist value.Located at around 200 kilometres from Delhi, it has  a charm of its own as this was the town where Lord Krishna spent his formative years.The small town was so named as the only shrub that one could find here was the basil plant.Basil is also known as “vrinda” or “tulsi” in Sanskrit/Hindi.

My biggest motivation behind making a dash to Vrindavan was to capture a few images for my blog post and also get some content of offbeat destinations in India.And, Vrindavan is one such beautiful holiday destination in India.

The other motivation was to take my Toyota for a long drive and get its engine tuned.

Smooth as Butter

We had to cross Delhi to reach the Yamuna Expressway and it took 2 hours doing so.Thursday, despite being a holiday offered us little respite from the Delhi traffic.The Yamuna Expressway links Noida to Agra and is now the preferred motorway for travellers to Mathura and Agra.

Smooth as butter, the Yamuna Expressway lets you hit your gas pedal to more than 110 km/hour.But, it is advisable to get your tires inflated by Nitrogen to avoid them getting burst.The Expressway is made of concrete and the fast revolving wheels of cars may lead to heating up of the air inside the tires.

We whizzed across the Expressway and reached Vrindavan in no time 1 hour and 25 minutes, to be precise.

Having rested that night in the town, we decided to go and have darshan of the presiding deity of Vrindavan-Banke Bihari ji.

 

It is said that nearly 500 years ago, Sant Haridas, a devout disciple of Lord Krishna, while meditating one day, actually had a darshan of Lord Krishna and his consort, Radha!

Swami Haridas
Swami Haridas (image courtesy;internet

Overcome by emotion, the Sant prayed to the Lord that He always be present in front of the eyes of Haridasji.The Lord, accepted the request and turned himself into a statue.The statue of the Lord was contorted or twisted in 3 places and thus, it assumed the name of Banke Bihari ji. “Banke” means “twisted” and Bihariji is another name of Lord Krishna.

It is said that Sant Haridasji was an incarnate of Lalita, a gopi who lived during the life and times of Lord Krishna!

After making a tortuous drive through the winding lanes of the city, we managed to reach a  spot where after parking our Toyota, we were ready for the trip to the famous temple.

Dear travellers, it is advisable to take a rickshaw to the temple as the police does not allow cars and buses in areas around the temple.

While reaching the temple premises is easier, the difficult part comes when you have to negotiate the crowds of the devotees inside it.If you are not careful, you can be pushed behind by the mass of eager men and women wanting to capture one glimpse of the Lord.

Dear travellers, I could not take a snap of the Lord as photography is strictly prohibited in the premises.

I was accompanied by my small kids so, had to doubly careful.The alleys leading to the sanctum sanctorum are very narrow and lined with shops selling sweets .I made a silent promise to myself to have some of these goodies on my way back.

alt="Sweets of Vrindavan"
Yumminess infinity

So, after a lot of hard work and getting pushed and shoved, the four of us reached the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord.One look at the Lord and I was overcome with emotion.I considered myself blessed at getting the darshan of the Lord.But, what transfixed me were His eyes.

It is said that staring into the eyes of the Lord leads to the mesmerisation of the devotee!

I hadn’t known about this legend/myth/fact earlier but, came to know about it a few days back.

Holy Cow
Holy Cow

Now that our objective was met, we headed back but this time our trip was easier.And, of course, I treated my family to a well deserved reward of lassi and peda.

alt="Flavours of Vrindavan"
You cannot avoid the lassi of Vrindavan

More about the temple’s haunted history

The idol of Banke Bihariji was not always at its present location.It was earlier located in a garden called Nidhivan- a garden that is considered haunted by people of the area.

It so happened that one day, some disciples of Sant Haridas were transfixed into trees when they saw their spiritual master in a communion with Lord Krishna.Pained by the state of his disciples, the Sant decided to bring the idol to its present location .

Even today, the faithful believe that on a particular night in the year (Sharad Poornima), the Lord takes a human form and engages in a celestial dance with his gopis in the garden.Any living person, man or woman, risks getting transfixed if he or she ventures inside the garden at that hour!

The adventure isn’t over yet!

While on our way, we were diverted by the passers bye to a a little used road. It was less of a road and more of a sandy track.The track wound its way along the Yamuna.

The kids were excited and decided to take a couple of videos of the countryside.

After driving for a few hundred metres, I overtook another passenger car, little knowing what the remaining stretch of the track had in store for me.

As I negotiated the shallow ditches and crests on the track, I hit a small mound of river sand and woosh- my front wheels sank into it like a stone into water!I accelerated but ,no result!I was just blowing sand around and the front wheels kept sinking down further.It was 12 noon.

You can imagine what happens to you when you get stranded with your kids and wife in a deserted spot in a strange city.

Luckily, the stretch wasn’t that stranded at that point of the hour.There was some traffic there, chiefly composed of motorcyclists, passengers in SUVs and a  tractor or two.All isn’t lost, I thought to myself.

We flagged down some people for help, but they just drove on, amused at our situation.We signalled a few more times to people for help.

Then, my wife thought to call the police. By that time, a few young people had assembled and were assessing the situation and figuring how to get my Toyota out of the sand.The Vrindavan police were at the spot in under 5 minutes within placing that call!

A few young men got down on their knees and physically lifted the front part of the car.90 % of the problem had been solved by then.Two policemen were also there by then and their presence was comforting.In the next 30 minutes, the Lord had helped us out of the situation.It seemed as if he had sent his gopas or childhood friends to help us out.

Vrindavan Travels
This is Mr. Shukla. who helped me

 

 

I saw the beautiful side of India that afternoon-helping, considerate and friendly.

alt ="UP Police"
The helpful souls of Vrindavan

And, I could not help but wonder whether Lord Krishna still keeps his watch over all of us, even though it has been more than 5000 years that he passed away!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Summer Vacation Ideas 2016;Board Games all the way!

Do you know some of the top board games have got an amazing history behind them? I was researching ideas for summer vacation when I stumbled upon this interesting fact.Read on…

Come winter vacation and the kids in our families pull out their board games and pit themselves up against their friends in games that last the entire afternoons.This is how, we as youngsters used to spend our holidays and our kids are no exception.Let me give you a few ideas for this summer  vacation as to some of the board games that your kids might be interested in.

Sometime back, I was reading an interesting post on Facebook about board games by my friend, Vidya Murali and a thought struck me- why not do a little bit of research on the games’ hisrory?
So here it is;
  1. Senet
It is the oldest board game known- images of this game can be seen in the burial chambers of the Egyptian pharaohs.You can say that this game is as old as 5500 years.There were no dice as in the modern games today-rather players used to play with sticks.
2.Vaikuntapaali
The ancestor to our Snakes and Ladders, this game rested on the principles of ethics and good versus bad in life.
It is thought that this game was developed in the 16th century in India  and later was adopted by the British and Americans .

In the original version of the game, you went up higher in life because of your good behaviour and strong morals; you descended to the pits because you went astray.
The “entertainment” value of the game was innovated by the Americans whereas the British interpreted the end result of life being “success”.
3.Chaturang or Chess
What more can be said of Chaturanga or Chess?
Thought to be at least 1400 years old, the game of chess is played as intensively in India as in China, Japan, Russia, US and the East European countries. The chess board has 64 black and white squares and as we all know the  chess strategy of each of the two players is tested on these squares.
The Indian addiction to this game borders on the extreme.So much so,that Satyajit Ray, master film maker , made a film on this game and wove the story with the events of the 1857 War of Independence.
4.Chaupad
Chaupad and Ludo are basically the same game.There are 4 players and all of them compete against each other to get their colored pieces first in the safe zone.
History suggests that the Mughal emperor, Akbar used to play Chaupad with slave girls as pieces rather than regular objects.
Chaupad in Hindi means square. In Jaipur, you have a Badi Chaupad and a Chhoti Chaupad- Big and Small Squares.
5.The Royal Game of Ur
This is the oldest known board game for which the  original rules survive.
The game is older than most known countries and religions and dates back to at least 2600 BC.
The oldest sets were discovered in 1924 and the game is played among competitors who throw dice to move their pawns quickly to the other side.


6.Nine Men’s Morris
The simplicity of this game has made it popular across the globe spanning different time lines.
The grids of the game can be found on the rocks of Sri Lanka (1440BC)  as well as in the modern cinema housed of Britain and US.

Now, after reading all this, would you go and reach out for that casual game loaded on your mobile device?

Interesting Trivia; Do you know that in India,a king actually used to play chess with live human beings as chess pieces?

Delhi-7 lesser known getaways in December

Delhi has at least 7 unknown getaways that you will like to visit this December. The city of Delhi abounds with surprises and this post will share some of them with you.

A temple devoted to an avatar of Lord Shiva, a 5000 year old temple associated with the sister of Lord Krishna…read on…

I had been thinking of answering through this post a top of the mind question of travellers and backpackers headed to Delhi- what are the best lesser known secret getaways in Delhi this December?

1.Chor Minar or The Tower of Thieves 

Located in the tony neighbourhood of Hauz Khas in New Delhi, the claim to fame of this tower is the haunting story behind it.This is one getaway that has a fantastic dose of history, mystery and thrills.

You can also find chor minar in Uzbekistan and Bukhara.

About Chor Minar; Nearly 800 years ago, the then Delhi Sultan, Alauddin Khilji had this tower built to string up the heads of the invading hordes of the Mongols..These guys had been attacking the kingdom of Delhi for many years till, one fine day, the Sultan decided that enough is enough.

chor-minar

He chased away the attackers and the few that were captured by him were executed and later their heads were hung up in the little crevices of the tower. It sure scared the wits out of any potential attackers!

3.Hauz Shamsi

Located in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park of Delhi, this Hauz or a “pool of water” is said to be constructed by a Sultan of Delhi, Iltutmish. This guy was a slave in his earlier life but rose in life due to his hard work and fortitude.

Hauz Shamsi

One night, in his dreams appeared Prophet Mohammed who commanded him to build a reservoir of water with a small pavilion in its centre. The pavilion, Mohammed told the Sultan, would provide a cover to  the footprints of the Prophet’s horse!I am not sure about the veracity of this story, but, this Hauz is indeed a fantastic place worth visiting.

Hauz Shamsi is quite near to Qutub Minar and the closest Metro Station is the one at Mehrauli.

4.Yogmaya Mandir

And, while we are visiting some of the most interesting but lesser known places in Delhi, let me also take you to the Yogmaya Mandir.

This Mandir or temple is dedicated to the sister of Lord Krishna, one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu.

yogmaya-temple

Why is it so special? Well, it is said that the parents of  Lord Krishna were imprisoned by his uncle , the king of Mathura, before the birth of the Lord. Kamsa-the king- was terrified that Krishna would be the harbinger of his death and so, the parents would be better off by being put up in a jail.

Kamsa wanted to kill all the children of Devaki, the mother of Krishna, in the fond hope of removing the danger.He largely succeeded in his efforts. One day, his officers told him that Devaki had given birth to yet another child. Kamsa rushed to the prison , entered her cell , and snatched away the newborn from her arms.

Kamsa then flung the child towards the floor, but, surprise, surprise!The child, which was a baby girl, ascended to the sky and mockingly told the king of his impending death! Krishna had already taken birth , she told him, and was safe and sound , away from the Mathura prison.

This baby girl, named Yogmaya, has a temple dedicated to her in Mehrauli.

By the way, did you know that the Yogmaya temple is more than 5000 years old, according to legends? This is a must visit place for backpackers visiting the Qutb Minar.At lest for me, this is one Delhi destination that I would never want to miss.

I know guys, you would like to know a little more of the hauntingly beautiful history of Delhi, but, let me also share something wonderful with you.

5.Pul Mithai, or the Bridge of Sweets

Heard this name? I am sure, very few of you would have heard of it.

This Pul or Bridge of Sweets was the outcome of giving away of sweets to labourers engaged in the construction of Sikh temples. The labourers were employed by a Sikh general, Baghel Singh in the year 1783.The place where the general was stationed is today known by the name Pul Mithai.

6.Bhairon Mandir (Kilkarinath Temple) Purana Qila

Ever heard of a temple where devotees offer liquor to the deity?

Welcome to Bhairon Mandir whose origin is traced to at least 5000 years back.This Mandir or temple is devoted to Bhairon, one of the chief incarnations. of Lord Shiva.He is supposed to be fond of liquor so devotees offer it in limit less quantities to him!But, it is not necessary that one can only liquor, you can offer fruit or milk too.

bhaironath-temple

Legends say that Lord Bhairon was requested by the Pandavas to come and visit them in their penance and protect them from the demons who were hell bent on disrupting it,

Do you know, the Lord here is moved by shouts of joy and happiness by his colleagues? Hence, the word, kilkari in his name.

Isn’t it amusing?

7.Baba Batuknath Bhairon Mandir, Chanakyapuri

Ok, so this temple is also dedicated to Lord Bhairon and the histories of both these Bhairon temples are related.

When Lord Bhairon agreed to accompany Bhima Pandava to Indraprastha (now Delhi) from Kashi, he put one condition- that Bhima can place him on only one place and take rest.The idea was to carry Bhairon to the Purana Qila and install him.

batuk-bhairav-nath-temple

However, Bhima grew tired at a place, now called Chanakyapuri, and placed Lord Bhairon there. The Lord reminded Bhima about his condition and directed to make a temple at the same location.Bhima pleaded with the Lord to accompany him to Purana Qila but the Lord would have none of it. But, moved by Bhima’s insistence, the Lord gave him a tuft of his hair and asked Bhima to install it at the Purana Qila site.

Meaning of Batuk– Batuk means “young boy” so, the idol installed here of Lord Bhairon is in the form of a young, bachelor boy.

And, so, we have now two temples devoted to Lord Bhairon.

Thank you for reading this blogpost, my friends.

Bajirao Mastani- movie review, the lovers and the tragedy

The hauntingly beautiful story of Mastani, the queen of the most powerful King of India-Bajirao ;secrets untold !

I was always enamoured , since school days,of the powerful Bajirao, the Peshwa of the Maratha empire.But, I hadn’t heard much about his consort, Mastani.

As the Mughal empire fell on bad times in the early 18th century after the death of Aurangzeb, the political space was quickly filled up by the rampaging Marathas, who were knocking at the doorsteps of Delhi.

Who was Bajirao

220px-Peshwa_Baji_Rao_I_riding_horse
Images of Bajirao Mastani

In the middle of the 1700s, there came a mighty Maratha, Bajirao. He was the Prime Minister of the Maratha empire and was also called Peshwa.

The Peshwa was a brave and a ferocious leader of his army and led it to 41 successgul campaigns.And, he was a romantic too!He commanded an empire that was as large and big as non Russia Europe!

Sometime, in his youth,he married a young princess of another Indian kingdom.Her name was Mastani and she came from  the province of Panna near Khajuraho.Panna is also known for its diamonds.

Who was Mastani

So, why am I talking about Mastani?Who was Mastani? Well, she was one mysterious character in the Indian history.Hers is a tale of romance, chivalry, jealousy and unrequited love.Read on..

Mastani’s origins are shrouded in secrecy. Some says she was the daughter of the Bundela king, Chhatrasal, while, others say, she was the daughter of the Nizam of Hyderabad. The Nizam is and was the richest Nawab in India.

By the way, do you know, the famous diamond, Kohinoor was once owned by the Nizam!

One version says that when Chhatrasal approached Bajirao for help, he offered his daughter , Mastani to Bajirao for marriage.Her mother was an Iranian girl.The second version says that the Nizam of Hyderabad offered his daughter to Bajirao to win his solidarity.

220px-Mastani_28tt13

Whatever be the case, Bajirao married Mastani and she became his second wife, the first being Kashibai.And, of course, there was no love lost between the half Muslim Mastani and the pure Hindu Kashibai..The latter resented Mastani’s presence in the royal household no end.

Unlike British and continental Europe of the middle ages, the ranis and begums of India of that time were always behind the purdah or the veil.No one, except their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons could see their faces .Except the royal physicians, of course.So, it is difficult to ascertain how Mastani looked like, but people say she was very beautiful. But, apart from being an attractive lady, Mastani was a ferocious fighter and fought alongside her husband in several battles, so the legends say.She also helped her husband run the court affairs.

Why was Mastani hated by Kashibai?

Mastani was half Muslim and her rival. Kashibai , a Hindu. This led to conflict between the two and Bajirao’s brother Chimaji and son, Balaji, placed her under house arrest. Mastani’s condition was improved when her husband shifted her to another palace in Pune.

Balaji-son of Bajirao
Balaji-son of Bajirao

Death of Mastani

It is rumoured that upon the death of Bajirao at a young age of 40, Mastani committed sati by jumping in his funeral pyre.However, nothing is confirmed in this regard.

Indian history is replete with so many love stories that had a tragic end.The list is endless.I felt inspired to wirite this blogpost about Mastani because to not have written about her would have meant injustice to her.

Did you like this post?

Do let me know.

Thanks for reading.

Note; Images in this post have been sourced from the internet.

Suggested reading; http://www.bapuculturaltours.org/dubela.htm#Biography

Captured on celluloid, igniting a controversy

This tragic tale of a couple has recently been captured in a movie titled Bajirao Mastani. Directed by an eminent Indian film director, the movie , surprisingly has provoked loud protests, primarily from Maharashtra, the state where Bajirao was born.

The controversy is largely due to a creative angle given to the history of the couple.For example, Mastani is showing dancing in front of the king. The king, Bajirao, is himself shown dancing in a most “inappropriate fashion”, according to his supporters. After all, a king never behaved like this in front of his subjects, they aver.But, the supporters forget that a creative twist is necessary to provide juice or masala to a tale.

The Bajirao Mastani movie review by many commenattors has so far been good and I hope to go watch it.

Thank you, my friends, for dropping by and reading this post.

Hope, you enjoyed it.

 

 

 

Amazing Destinations of India

 

One man’s dogged determination to help his community become one of the best homestays in India- read on..

As I advance in years, I find myself driven to new situations, people and experiences. This is surprising because in my formative years, I was one hell of an introvert.I do not know, how my DNA underwent such a such a drastic change- from being an introvert to a socially curious person.

But, I am not complaining!

alt="Travel Lecture"

Last month, I was invited to a lecture by a person I have never known or heard about. The venue was also new to me and so were the organisers.So, all in all, it was a completely new setting for me.

The lecture was to be delivered by one Anand Sankar on “Inspired Travel”. The venue was a traveller’s hostel , located in the upscale neighbourhood of Hauz Khas, New Delhi.

Anand , as it turned out , spoke very calmly and clearly about his journey as a social entrepreneur.He studied technology in an engineering college but , always had this urge to go travelling to Himalayas and make a living out of it.He is from Southern India and wanted to live among the snowy peaks of Himalayas. It is like a man living in the Sahara desert wanting to go live in Iceland.Contrast!

Kalap 1

He identified a remote village , Kalap, in the Himalayas and decided to make his home. Kalap has little road connectivity and one needs to walk long distances to reach the village.It is north of Dehradun , the state capital of Uttarakhand.

Over the next few months, Anand told us, he had to mould himself to the lifestyle of the local residents of the village.He had to build up his stamina to match it to that of his new neighbours. He had to learn their local language and social customs and behaviour to make himself more acceptable.In short, he had to strive to be accepted by them.

 

After arriving at his new place, Anand was surprised to see that the cleanliness or the lack of it in the village, was as good or bad as the rest of India.He had always imagined that people of the plains were much more careless to their immediate environment!

Not to worry, he told himself. He would pick up the trash littered on the streets and simply stash it up in his pocket or in some dustbin that he would carry along. He would never, never preach on the virtues of cleanliness! This continued for nearly 2-3 months .

He would also take photographs of the lovely mountainside , print them and show the images to the villagers.

So, cleanliness and photographing the mountains and valleys was waht he used to do for a long period of time, until, one fine day, a young girl approached him.

Sir, she said, you are doing a very good thing, picking up the trash and cleaning the village on your own.

Well, your village would be even more pretty if everyone tried his hand in cleaning it up, isn’t it. he asked.

In a few days, Anand was joined by a small group of villagers-which later expanded- that started taking interest in cleaning up their village, their forests, their little streams and their hills and mountains.Today, Kalap has become  even more.incredibly beautiful as a place to visit.

This, is the power of one.

Today, Anand runs a travel homestay  in Himalayas and does good business.All his cottages are made of timber only. These are no luxury huts, but simple cottages that have the same facilities as the villagers have it there.

He is doing well and now employs 2 people . These days he is trying to organize funds for setting up a healthcare facility in his adopted village.

If you would be interested in helping him out in this endeavor, please write to me at swayamt@gmail.com

Thanks for reading this.

alt="a haunted fort"

Tea, Djinns and Much More- An Evening at the Haunted Fort

“Ek cup chai dena , bhaiyya! ” I spoke to the tea stall owner at the gate of the perennially haunted fort of Feroze Shah in Central Delhi.I was speaking in Hindi to him and was requesting for a cup of tea.

The maker of tea here was a 20 something young man , clad in a heavy sweater and battling the chilling breeze that was sweeping Delhi yesterday.

In India, when you refer to a stranger, you call him by the word.”bhaiyya” or brother.And, if it is a woman, then, it is “behenji”or sister. We instantly form a bond by these words, you see.

As I settled in that 60 year old tea stall, I glanced at the owner – a ruddy middle aged gentleman with a white moustache.”How are you, Sir?”, I asked him. He said he is doing fine and wished I was doing well too. My name is Tiwari, Sir and what is yours?, I asked. I am Vijay Verma, he replied and diverted his attention to the local newspaper that he was holding in his hands.

You make excellent tea, Sir, I remarked and tried to initiate small talk with him. Vermaji thanked me and asked where I had come from and I replied I was from Delhi and came from the suburbs of Dwarka.I told him I am interested in all things related to history and share their tales with people over the internet.Oh, it is interesting, Mr.Tiwari- he remarked.

Now, I had to get the juicy tidbits about the djinns that supposedly live in the fort from Mr. Verma.I got him into talking after a little bit of effort (by then, I had had two cups of tea from his assistant!).

What is the truth about the djinns, Mr. Verma, I asked him.

He gave a me a deep look and said in a low voice- I don’t know!

But, Mr. Verma, a lot of people visit this forsaken place and pray in crevices and dilapidated rooms, light incense and offer money-I persisted!

Well, Mr. Tiwari, I do not believe in the djinns or ghosts but, if people do come to make the ghosts happy, then there is a certain ring of truth-he finally admitted.

alt="haunted castle"

Now, I was all ears as he got talking. He had indeed heard rumours about some spirits helping people in distress and there were some bad ones too that followed people to their homes when they returned.Like, there was this case of a young woman who was pretty and married but did not have any children after a few years of her marriage.One day, she came to the old fort of Feroze Shah with a group of her friends.She was dressed in some very fine clothes and had also applied some perfume to herself.Foolish as it may sound,a resident spirit grew attracted to her and followed the young lady to her house in Daryaganj! She fell sick after a few days and ultimately had to be hospitalized to rid her of the fever.She took a month to get well and back on her feet but lost a lot of her strength.

But,surely- I asked- that would not have been the handiwork of a resident spirit? Well, that is what the people say- he replied- so a lot of the young women who come to this haunted fort do not apply perfume to themselves.But,on the other hand, there are some good spirits too who help people who have fallen on bad times.Take the case of a young student who had been flunking his exams for quite a few times before he went and prayed to the spirit- he continued.

By then, a thin crowd had gathered in that wind swept tea stall, eagerly absorbing the experiences of Mr. Verma.

And do you know, a young man piped in, sometimes the spirits take on the forms of animals, too?

DSC00508

I was felt with incredulity.Do ghosts exist?or, do ghosts actually live in Feroze Shah Kotla? I had no clear answers, I was none the wiser.Perhaps, they do exist.And, who are we to dispute the beliefs of people? Though, you and I may not believe in the popular stories about Feroze Shah Kotla, but, don’t you think that it is better to let people believe their own stories?

I leave that to you, dear readers.

Thank you for reading this!

 

alt="folk artiste"

Unknown Secrets of Delhi- The Fun, Frolic and Festive Destinations of a Hauntingly Beautiful City

There is a Delhi that is largely unknown to the inbound and domestic visitors to the city- A Delhi of limitless fun and frolic!

Come winter and Delhi becomes a bride- and a blushing one at that!Ah, my hauntingly beautiful Delhi!

This November and December, I couldn’t  help but put on my hiking shoes , grab my Samsung Tab and with my iPhone secure in my pocket, I set out for the hottest festival spots in Delhi.Excuse me ,if my English is patchy at places. 

By the way, your travel operator will not let you in to these secret places, I assure you!;))

And this is what I captured with my cellphone and Samsung tab.Hope you  too enjoy these pictures!

Do you know that 2015 has been declared Visit India year by the Indian government?

The Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan has been a regular fixture in Delhi for now more than 30 years. Though, the ostensible reason behind holding this Fair is encouraging trade at the company to company level, much of it happens between the companies and individual customers.

alt="Door"
Gateway to Rajasthan Pavilion

But, it is much more than trade and business here. The hidden gems of India’s art and craft are displayed here and so is the cuisine. India as a nation is made up of more than 28 states and each one of them puts up its pavilion and puts its best foot forward. This year, too, most of the states displayed their best offerings.Please have a look.

alt="ArchingDoor"
Bengal Pavilion
alt="Kumbh Mela"
Visit Madhya Pradesh- Next year the state hosts the Kumbh Mela

These pavilions also give an idea about the action plans regarding development of the respective states .

Spoilt for choice!
Spoilt for choice!

If you happen to be in Delhi during November, do make it a point to spend a day here- you will return with a camera load of memories, as I did.

Reaching Pragati Maidan- The best way to reach this place is taking the Delhi Metro.It is fun, fast and convenient.

H happy salesman always sells more
H happy salesman always sells more

 But, the Pragati Maidan experience only whetted my appetite for more colour, more music and more culture.

Haryana is known for iwrestling
Haryana is known for wrestling
Bihar pavilion
Bihar pavilion
some seriously goof furniture on sale
some seriously good furniture on sale
Isn't she beautiful?
Isn’t she beautiful?

 

So, I headed to the Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts- IGNCA in short- located on Janpath. Though, it is close to Rajiv Chowk, I had to drive my car to this place. The closest Metro station is Vijay Chowk , so , again, for travellers to Delhi, it is easily accessible.

Folk Artistes from Rajasthan
Folk Artistes from Rajasthan

And, what a riot of colours I witnessed! The IGNCA grounds were host to the National Cultural Festival , with dance and music troupes from most of the states present there in full force.As an Indian, I felt proud of my heritage and the unity in diversity in my people.Backpackers,take note!

selfie time!
selfie time!

Festivals like these bring the far flung states like Arunachal Pradesh or Sikkim closer to the people of Delhi, who, otherwise would have little chance of visiting these places. 

He isn't a ghost!
He isn’t a ghost!

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From IGNCA to  the Comic Con grounds  was a short journey to revisit my childhood. Comic Con, as the discerning readers are aware is an event that brings together publishers of comics and the potential business partners.

It was the second time that Delhi was hosting Comic Con in two years and the kids and teens of Delhi were gaga over it.Young men and women dressed themselves up as cartoon characters and were having a whale of a time.

Isn't he cute?
Isn’t he cute?

I even met a lawyer who was dressed as a character straight out of the Flintstones!

He is a lawyer!
He is a lawyer!
Karna and Arjuna from Legends of Vyas- a comic series
Karna and Arjuna from Legends of Vyas– a comic series

This year, the venue of Comic Con was at National Small Industries Corporation grounds in Okhla.The entry tickets were priced at Rs. 350/- or a little more than $5, which a little expensive by Indian standards.But, for the people young at heart, the money mattered little!

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