Places to Visit in Delhi-Hauz Khas Village

HKV or Hauz Khas Village has something for everyone who is interested in the history,culture,cuisine,art or craft of Delhi.An amazing destination or the Delhi traveller, this quaint place is a bohemian’s paradise.

Located just off the  Aurobindo Marg in Delhi,Hauz Khas Village is a secret waiting to be unveiled. 

Since, I am a history and heritage lover, I shall take you through some amazing spots of this place.

Firoz Shah is credited with the construction of this place. Many experts of history ever that Hauz Khas Village was the site of a medieval Islamic madarsa.A madarsa is a school of Islamic concepts and principles.However,there is nothing to prove this version till now.Foreign travellers are largely unaware of this 14 th century monument.

The main centre of attraction in this complex is the tomb of Firoz or Firuz Shah, a Sultan of Delhi.He was more than 40 years of age when he was persuaded to become the Sultan upon his cousin’s death.Firoz’s cousin, Mohammad was an enigmatic Sultan and had died hairless.

Firoz a credited with building several monuments in Delhi-some of them are covered in this blog.

Adjacent to the complex of Firoz is a mediavel water tank, Hauz Khas.This water body was was excavated by an earlier Sultan,Alauddin.

So,you can see that this place crawls with history.

But,on any day, you will find this place teeming with young romantics.There is not one corner that you will see unoccupied with them.

I like this place for the various shades of architecture and open spaces here.

You will like the green lawns here to unwind.

But,Hauz Khas Village is much more than just a mediavel complex.Look what I found here:a live music coffee shop that overlooks this complex.

As the clouds gathered in the skies,the monuments took in a haunted look!

Inside the cafe,the music added to the seductiveness of the ambience.

So,while Delhi experiences the joy of monsoons, head over to this beautiful place.

You will get lots of interesting places at Hauz Khas Village to indulge yourself.

I came across another interesting place to hang out.Except that there was nothing in there!

Places To Visit in Delhi- Azim Khan Tomb

Places to Visit in Delhi
Azim Khan Tomb, Mehrauli

One of the lesser known stopovers for the travellers in Delhi, the Azim Khan Tomb sits astride the Mehrauli Gurgaon Road. You can see it easily from the Mehrauli Gurgaon/Mehrauli Badarpur intersection.What is the story behind this place?

Ever since I landed up in Delhi more than 16 years ago, I had made a mental note to go and explore this forlorn and hauntingly beautiful structure but, time constraints were the main culprits.

This “tomb” is located behind the Jain Ahimsa Sthal and the traveller will have to find for directions to reach it. There are no markings or directions and so, you will have to ask the passers by or the roadside vendors for directions.

The path leading to this structure is narrow and in my case, I had to make way for some donkeys which were being led for grazing. I found them cute. Donkeys in Delhi!

DSC01943Please note that you will have to either walk or ride a bike in this alley. Don’t expect to drive a car here.

The man who lies  “buried” here seems to have been an influential man- he had such a big place for himself ! The Government of India has this to say about this man,

Places to Visit in Delhi
Azim Khan’s Tomb

However, there is nothing about this “Azim Khan” in the available history of Delhi. I tried researching about him on the internet but found nothing.Some people say that he was an important general in Akbar’s army. Tired of fighting numerous wars, one day he decided to quit his profession and lead the life of a simpleton.

This place gives the traveller a great vantage point. On a cloudy day, you can simply sit here with your friends and gaze at the spread of greenery below the hillock. You can have a great view of the Qutub Minar and the serene statue of Lord Mahavira, one of the greatest philosophers the world has known.

Places to Visit in Delhi
View of the Qutub Minar

A word of advice to the curious traveller- the terrain is rocky here so make sure you put on your sneakers or hiking boots. No slippers, flats or heels, please- else you risk getting a sprain.

As I said earlier, unlike the other monuments of Delhi, this place doesn’t have a story behind it. So, my post here is more of an image gallery rather than a detailed account.

DSC01950

Greenery all around! A month back, the same place was all brown and dusty-this is what monsoons do to Delhi.

 

The 'kangooras" of the tomb
The ‘kangooras” of the tomb
Places to visit in Delhi
Can you see the Qutub?
Places To Visit in Delhi
The imposing building

Surprisingly, the building does not have any grave! It is said that the British rulers had removed the grave to make way for a party hall here!

DSC01970

There are a couple of graves outside the structure and this is one of them. Can you understand what is written here in Farsi/Arabic lettering?

Places to Visit in Delhi
Juxtaposed

On my way back, I wandered into a dense forest that lay next to the path. And, this is what I discovered!

Places to visit in Delhi
A haunted building!
Places to visit in Delhi
A milestone?

 

 

DSC01969And you certainly cannot escape the declarations of love such as this one!

Safety and Security- It is advisable to visit this place in groups of two or three.Azim Khan’s tomb is normally not visited by many people so better to take an extra precaution.



The Most Haunted Places In India-Kiradu

Most haunted places
Kiradu Temple

Kiradu is one of the least known places to visit in India. Does it have ghosts?What is the story of this haunted place?Why is it forbidden to stay here after dark?

I have been writing stories around the haunted destinations of India for the last few years.The idea is not to frighten my traveller friends but to encourage them to visit these places so that the local economy picks up. There are so many offbeat destinations in India that many of us hardly know about.And, almost all of these places have some weird and unlikely stories around them and I do not know how many of them are true. But, they do interest all of us, isn’t it?Otherwise, you would not be reading this fascinating post.

History of Kiradu

Kiradu is a village located between the two towns of Barmer and Jaisalmer in the state of Rajasthan.  If you want to travel to Kiradu, you will have to take a taxi or a car to reach here.

http://www.distancesbetween.com/road-map/driving-map-barmer-kiradu-temple/2982937/vi5/

More than a thousand years ago, Kiradu had a Sanskrit name, Kiradkot The word “Kirad” denotes the clan of Rajputs that used to live in this place and “Kot”means town or city. So, Kiradu was the city of Kirad Rajputs. Nowadays, it is a devastated village and has acquired the reputation of a haunted place.

The Kirad Rajputs were the vassals of the Chalukya or Solanki Rajputs. The word “Rajput” refers to the fighting arm of the Indian society. This arm used to defend the society against the foreign invaders.The Chalukyas are the guys who have made the world famous Somnath temple in Gujarat.

But, the Kirad Rajputs built an equally superb set of temples in Rajasthan.And, these came up in Kiradu.

What is the story of “Haunted Kiradu”?

The temples here are devastated. There are three theories behind this.

The first theory says that several thousands of years ago, there lived a holy man in the village with his disciples. One day, he decided to take a tour in the surrounding country. He called the villagers to his hut and shared his plans. “I am leaving my disciples to you, my dear people, and please take good care of them,” he requested them. The villagers agreed and so, the holy man left on his tour.

Most Haunted Places

But, the villagers ignored the holy man’s request, His disciples were left to their fate by the villagers and unfortunately, some of them died. It was a terrible time for them and all of them would have died but for the help provided by a local woman.She took good care of them but, her effort was not enough to save all of them.

A few months later when the holy man returned, he was stunned at seeing the condition of his people. Angered over the conduct of the villagers, the holy man cursed them and cast a spell over the village. But, he also felt a sense of piety for the friendly, helpful woman and so , he advised her to leave the village. “Leave the village but make sure to not turn your head back while leaving”, he advised to the woman.

Kiradu 2

The lady , heeding the advice of the holy man, left the village but, was quickly tempted to have one last look at the village where she had grew up.

But, as she turned back to have one last look at the village, she turned to stone!

Her stone statue is still present in the village , though, it is forbidden to take its photograph.

I am sure after reading this short story, you will be tempted to visit this haunted village. But, dear friends, please do not stay back in the village after dusk. This advice is given to the travellers by the locals.If you stay back then you may turn to stone!

The second theory behind the devastation of the village says that an earthquake visited this village.

The last theory says that the ruin of the village was caused by the Muslim armies that had invaded Rajasthan in the past.

This place has even allured the BBC to visit this place and record its history; http://www.bbc.com/news/live/magazine-32969581

Wikipedia has this to say about Kiradu;https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiradu_temples

Dear readers,I have written a post on the haunted place of Bhuli Bhatiyari in Delhi. You may read it here;http://www.ahauntedtravel.com/the-most-haunted-place-in-delhi/

Khajuraho of Rajasthan

The Kiradu temples have got a lot of erotic art on their walls. I am always wonderstruck at this phenomenon.Why is there so much of eroticism here when the temples have been devoted to Lord Vishnu and Shiva? Would you have any answers?

By the way, I had written a post on the world famous temples of Khajuraho, You can read this here.

Khajuraho;5 reasons why it has so much of sex on its walls

Kiradu 3

How to reach Kiradu

Kiradu can be reached from Jaisalmer as well as Barmer. Both are district headquarters of Rajasthan and can be reached by train from Delhi. Visit https://www.irctc.co.in for train and seat availablity. This is a Government of India website so you can get the best information here.

Once you reach Barmer or Jaisalmer, you will have to take a bus or taxi to reach the Kiradu temples.

For overnight stay in Barmer and Jaisalmer , please check this government website http://tourism.rajasthan.gov.in/

Rajasthan Tourism has some really good hotels to stay in .They are clean and comfortable.




Did you like this post my friends?Please write to me at swayamt@gmail.com

Yogyakarta- Exploring the soul of Java

 

BorobodurYogyakarta is the “soul” of Java province of Indonesia. The adjective is appropriate because the city is home to the art, culture, music and other aspects of the Javanese culture. Also pronounced as Jogjakarta or Jogja (JOG-jaah), the city is the capital of the Special Province of Yogyakarta.

The city has an interesting past because during the Indonesian struggle for Independence, the Sultan of Hamengkubuwono had offered the city of Yogyakarta as a refuge to the revolutionaries.After Indonesia became independent  from its colonial masters , the Indonesian government gave a special status to this city.

Interestingly, many people say that Yogyakarta is named after the ancient Indian town Ayodhya. The word “Yogya” means capable or apt and “karta” means city. So, etymologically, Yogyakarta means – A Capable City.

Getting Around Yogyakarta

Travellers can enjoy the sights and sounds of Yogyakarta by many ways;

A) Trishaw- This is a three wheeled traditional vehicle powered by humans. It is a nice conveyance to be used to savour the sights and sounds of the city. Be sure that you negotiate the fare before your journey.

B) Horse Cart- Also known as andong, you can find a horse cart outside train stations and other places like the Kraton and Mal Malloboro. Most horse carts will try to take you to the shopping districts that sell fake items so be sure where you are going.

C) Buses- Mostly. the local population uses buses for local travel so if you are planning to mingle with it, please use buses. However, also note that most bus stops are located 1-2 kilometres from one another so one may have to walk a long distance to catch a bus. Also, avoid keeping valuables while travelling in a bus.

Places to see in Yogyakarta

The Kraton– Also known as Sri Sultan;’s Palace, this place is the number one tourist attraction for travellers to Yogyakarta. Close to this building are other popular places like Bank Indonesia, Central Post Office and BN’ 46 building. All these buildings are heritage structures and if you love old colonial style structures, you will enjoy these places.

Kraton_Yogyakarta_6

The Kraton has the Sultan’s residence, the palace grounds and the residential quarters of his servants and officials. This place is open 8AM-3PM and is closed at 11 AM on Fridays.You can also have a look at the various carriages used by the Sultan during his hey days

Benteng Vredeburg; This is a Dutch era fort and is located in front of the President’s Palace. A few wartime objects are still preserved in this fort.

Kota Gerde– This was the capital of the first Islamic kingdom of Mataram. What is of interest is the tomb of the first Sultan of Mataram- Panembahan  Senopati. Kota Gerde still displays elements of medieval architecture. What is of interest to the travellers here is the “silver village“, a place where you can buy silver artefacts.Since, this place is large to cover by foot, be sure to use a mode of conveyance like bus or trishaw.

yogyakarta-malioboro_7

Taman Sari is a ruined water castle. It was originally a pleasure house used by the first Sultan in 1755 and it housed his harem. There was a water pool here and the Sultan used to take his pick from his harem by climbing atop a tall tower. Taman Sari is open 9AM- 3PM every day.

There are several museums and art galleries that you can visit while travelling to Yogyakarta. Some of them are Museum Affendi, Museum Ullen Sentalu  and Museum Kekayon. The art galleries are at Bentar Budaya and Cemeti Art House.

Places to Stay at Yogyakarta

In my opinion, Whiz Hotel at Yogyakarta is an excellent place to stay at . I found it comfortable and host friendly during my last trip to Java .However , you can have your own choice of hotels and inns and get  best  Yogyakarta hotel deals or you can visit http://www.traveloka.com

More information on Yogyakarta

You can get more information about Yogyakarta from the following websites;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogyakarta

http://wikitravel.org/en/Yogyakarta

www.born2travel.it

www.indonesia-tourism.com

Hope, this information helps you. Happy travelling.

 

 

India Travel- The Story of The Son of The Pregnant King

Lion-Chaukhamba view

What happened when the thirsty king gulped down water stored in the pitcher? The story of the pregnant king. Amazing travel stories from India!

India is not just a travel destination, it is a store house of bizarre stories, legends and myths. Each city, village, town etc. here has a story of its own and my mission as a storyteller is to introduce you to these places through my stories. I hope, you have liked the tales that I have told in my earlier blog posts.

This story is about Mandhata who ruled India several thousands of years ago. Nothing great, you will think probably, so what is so special about him?

Dear readers, the speciality of Mandhata lay elsewhere.He was not born of his mother as all of us have. He was born of his father ! It was his dad that gave birth to him.! Read on to get to the full story.

A Childless King

Several thousands of years ago there lived a king by the name of Yuvanashwa. This king belonged to the Ikshwaku dynasty. This dynasty has produced some pf the greatest kings that India has seen. The greatest king of all times in India, Rama , belongs to this dynasty.So does, Gautam Buddha. So, you can say that this was the greatest alumni community that India and perhaps , the world has seen.

It is also said that the Ikshwakus sprung up from Sun.One of the earliest kings of this dynasty was Manu and it is said that the word ‘man’ has evolved from Manu.

Now, Yuvanashwa did not have any children and this was a source of worry to the mighty king. “Whom would I bestow my kingdom?”, he would often wonder.

The king tried several medicines, recipes , tricks but to no avail. Even though he had several wives, not one of them could conceive. The king was worried, very worried. Age was fast catching up with him.

One day, one of his ministers advised him to seek the advice of Sage Bhrigu. The word “Sage” means “Saint” and in ancient India the saints possessed knowledge and wisdom on every subject. So, Yuvanashwa decided to go up to the venerable Bhrigu and seek a solution to his problem.

“No problem, O King, you need to perform a penance and everything will be alright. Just ensure that you follow certain rules, O King!”, the Sage advised.

The Penance Starts

And so, the penance started. The king had to observe a set of rigid rules . His daily routine became tighter. His queens had to follow suite.

Days passed.They turned into into  months and months became years,




One fine day

The King was terrible thirsty that day.He had gone on a long expedition and the sun overhead blazed real hot. It was time for him to come back to his palace and take rest.

It was sundown as he arrived at his home and the first thing that he did was to search for a glass of water.

It was pitch dark and everyone was asleep after a day of hard penance. The queens were asleep and so was the Sage Bhrigu.Everyone was tired.

The king did not want to disturb anyone so he quickly went to the kitchen and dipped his glass into a pitcher. The water was cool and the the king was grateful and happy for that. At last, he thought to himself, finally my thirst has been quenched.

But, the Sage had woken up after hearing the slight sounds that the king was making in the kitchen. The Sage went up to the kitchen and found the king drinking away water happily.

The Sage was appalled! “O King,” the Sage cried,”what have you done?You have drunk the water meant for your wives. This water would have made them pregnant!”.

Now, it was the turn of the king to get dumbfounded. He was also crestfallen that all his labour and sacrifice had gone waste.

The Sage continued,” You will have a son, alright!But, that child will be borne of you; you shall be his mother, Yuvanashwa. You will get pregnant in due course of time.”

Bhrigu

Sage Bhrigu is one of the seven Saptarshis of the constellation of the Great Bear.Indians have named each of the stars of the constellation according to important sages . Bhrigu was respected widely for his intellect and wisdom. Even, Lord Vishnu ( featured above) respected and feared this Sage.

A child is born 

In due course, Yuvanashwa bore a baby. The baby was named, Mandhata.The whole kingdom was aghast at this development. For sometime, the king, Yuvanashwa was embarrassed about this incident but, he got support from his queens. They took good care of the child.

Over the years, Mandhata grew u to be a mighty prince and as was the custom in those times, he was appointed as the next king by his father.

The Legend of Ukhimath

Mandhata was blessed with divine powers. He had the strength and power to conquer all the dominions in the world. He had a divine bow from Indra, the Lord of the Gods.The bow helped him win numerous wars. Mandhata conducted several Ashwamedhs Yagyas. He also performed Rajsuya Yagyas.

Over a period of time, Mandhata accumulated countless riches.His teachers advised him to share his wealth with the poor and the needy.

There is a place in the Indian state of Uttarakhand- Ukhimath. It is said that Lord Shiva retires to this place in the winters. Shiva is the Lord of Death and is the presiding deity at Kedarnath, Uttarakhand.

Mandhata decided to give away his riches to the people at Ukhimath.He did penance here while standing on his feet for 12 years.He wanted to please Lord Shiva with his penance.Pleased with his dedication, Lord Shiva appeared before him in the form of primordial sound.This kind of sound is called Om.

The place where Mandhata performed his penance is now marked with a temple called Omkareshwar temple and has an idol of Mandhata inside it.

Temples of India
Omkareshwar Temple

It is said that he donated millions and millions of cows  and oxen to the farmers and other common people of his kingdom. Cows give milk and are considered sacred in India.The oxen help in the tilling of land.

Legends say that at this very village , Mandhata gifted away gold and silver , whose current value would be in quintillions, to the poor people. Some people say that all this bullion is still buried under the rocks and boulders of Ukhimath. I don’t know how far is all this true.

Death of Mandhata

As his wealth and riches increased manifold, Mandhata became arrogant. He started thinking that he was invincible. There was only one hurdle to his immortality and that was the conquest of the Realm of Indra- Realm of the Lord of Gods !

However, Indra was a clever man. He managed to convince Mandhata that on Earth, there was still one kingdom that was beyond the purview of Mandhata- the kingdom of Mathura.

Mathura is just 250 kilometres away from Delhi.

Now, the ruler of Mathura was Lavana and he possessed a terrible trident that was gifted to him by Lord Shiva.

Mandhata was supremely confident in his power and weapons and he decided to attack Mathura straight away.The two armies met and fought fiercely, but , Lavana ultimately managed to kill Mandhata. The trident that Shiva gave to Lavana proved to be the nemesis of Mandhata. And, this is how the son of the pregnant king met his end.

Isn’t this a hauntingly beautiful story?

You maybe interested in the Wikipedia link on Mandhata here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandhatri

How to reach and places to stay in Ukhimath

Ukhimath is not just a temple town of Uttarakhand. You get to see some of the tallest peaks of Himalayas from here like Mount Kedar.

Himalayan Destinations
Mount Kedar as seen from Ukhimath

Won’t you be interested in visiting Ukhimath? Just click here for information on how to reach Ukhimath.

If you want to know more on the places to stay in Ukhimath, click here 

Hope , you enjoyed the story around the destination of Ukhimath.Please write back to me if you want to know more.