Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds- Shortly at Regal Cinema in Delhi

Madame Tussauds
Credits- Youtube

Madame Tussauds, the eponymous wax museum in London that celebrates success by installing wax figurines of celebrities  comes to India in 2017, April. In India, it will be Delhi that will have the privilege to host the museum. It is interesting to note that one of the oldest buildings in New Delhi, the Regal Cinema will house the museum. India Travel Blog takes you through the history of Madame Tussauds  and Regal Cinema in this post.

History of Regal Cinema

The Regal Cinema building in Delhi is an apt place for Madame Tussaud’s for the simple reason that both the  two institutions are eminently British in origin and heritage.

Madam Tussauds
Regal Cinema, Delhi ,credits- India.com

The Regal cinema building came up in Delhi in 1931, a few years after the Connaught Place was set up by the English architects. The designer/ architect of Regal Cinema was Sir Sobha Singh. This Singh was once described as “adhi Dilli ka Malik” or owner of half of Delhi. Do you know that this cinema came up  right after the introduction of talking movies in the early 1930s?

Sobha Singh was quite a an influential person in his heydays. Besides being the creator of the Regal Cinema , he also made some parts of The Rashtrapati Bhawan, South Block, India Gate , Modern School, Dyal Singh College and the National Museum. Madame Tussauds has no less an impressive history. The originator of this world famous wax museum, Marie Tussaud  was born in 1761 in Strasbourg, France . The lady has the honour of making the wax figurines of people like Voltaire , Benjamin Franklin and Rousseau.

The history of Connaught Place, now Rajiv Chowk is no less interesting. The site of this famous Delhi landmark was earlier occupied by jungles and villages. It was only after several rounds of persuasion and force that the villagers left their homes and settled elsewhere. Today, the site is covered with colonial styled buildings and stores. Connaught Place is ranked as the fifth most expensive market in the world.

Not surprising that Madame Tussauds is coming to Delhi and occupying a piece of the bygone British era architecture.

 

 

 

India Travel

India Travel- The haunted village of Madhyamika Nagri

 

India Travel
                               Credits- ASI

India Travel Blog today takes you to the abandoned village of Madhyamika. Is this place haunted? I do not know but the settlement does emit an eerie feeling. The locals are unsure why this once flourishing town ceased to exist more than a thousand years ago.

Where is Madhyamika located?

This “haunted” village is located roughly 10 kilometers north-east of Chittorgarh, Rajasthan. Readers of India Travel Blog can locate some interesting stories about Chittorgarh elsewhere in this blog. This town , which is now a village comprising 50 odd settlements, sits on the banks of Berach.

So, what is so special about Madhyamika?

Also known as Nagri, Madhyamika was an important centre during the Mauryan period.Ok, let me make it even simpler- Madhyamika was living its life during the times of Alexander of Macedonia. Yes, he was the same guy who tried invading India after getting the better of Iran and the Middle East. Since this town sat on the trade route from Afghanistan to the ports of Gujarat, it became an important trading centre for many.

We are talking about more than 2700 years ago!!!

But, let us come back to the original question- what is so special about Madhyamika or Nagri? According to legends, this town was founded by Raja Harishchandra. This Raja is one of the members of the solar race that comprises eminent kings like Raja Rama (the hero of Ramayana). You cannot really prove this assumption but coins as old as 3000 years have been said to be found here.

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            Was it a lighthouse that guided the travellers?

So, that makes Madhyamika or Nagri one of the oldest living settlements in India. Can we say that it rubs shoulders with Varanasi?

The legend of the Shibis

Ancient India had several republics or janapadas. One such janapada was the Shibi republic. The Shibis were residents of modern Punjab. It is conjectured that the Shibis were active participants in the war against Alexander of Macedonia. After this war, they migrated roughly south-east wards and settled in the area later known as Madhyamika. However, nothing is proven yet.

The city that faced the first sack

You would be amused to know that Nagri was the first Indian town to have faced the first sack by a foreign invader. It would have come as a surprise to the Nagri citizens because Indian kings never sacked the towns of the kings that they were at war with. The Sanskrit grammarian, Patanjali, has recorded this sack in his memoirs. Probably, the sack happened more than 2000 years ago.

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More than 600 years of existence

Nagri was a city that was in existence for roughly 600 years. Its disappearance is inexplicable. Some people surmise that an earthquake flattened it, while others ascribe its fall to frequent sackings and invasions.

A treasure trove of artefacts and coins

Even though there are very few traces of the haunted and abandoned  town of Madhyamika today, an alert traveller can still find a few coins , idols, figurines and other artefacts. India Travel Blog strongly recommends that if you find anything interesting, please hand it over to the government authorities for safe keeping.

Nagri has ceased to exist but its legend carries on. Not many travellers know about it. But, gradually, over a period of time, people interested in unknown destinations are getting to know about such places , which is a good sign.

How to reach Nagri?

If you are driving from Chittorgarh towards Jaipur, then the best way to reach here is via a car or a taxi. You will have to take a slight detour towards the right away from the highway. The nearest airport is at Udaipur.

Other places of interest near by are Gagron, Chittor and Kota-Bundi area.

Did you find this post by India Travel Blog interesting? Please let me know .

Thanks

 

India Travel Blog

India Travel- Khajuraho of Rajasthan,Ambika Mandir

Your India travel plans would be incomplete if you did not visit the temple of Ambika Mata at Jagat. This place is located roughly 50 kilometers south-east of Udaipur, Rajasthan. Also known as the Khajuraho of Rajasthan, this temple complex is largely unknown to travellers headed to India..

The objective of India Travel Blog is to acquaint international visitors with the unknown gems in the travel circuit. Many of these unknown destinations have an appeal that borders on the hauntingly beautiful. I hope this India travel post will urge you to go to places that are a little far off from the beaten path.

Jagat is quite close to the world famous artificial lake , Jaisamand. This is the largest fresh water lake in India and was earlier known as Dhebar lake.

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                         courtesy Wiki

The Jagat temple is of recent origin. It  was constructed just a thousand years back.Historians say that it was made in 961 AD, the time when the crusades where in full swing in the Middle East.

The temple is devoted to Goddess Ambika. She is another version of the fierce Durga , the Goddess of War. The word Ambika means Mother. Goddess Durga can be really violent when she goes out to slay the enemies of humanity in a war but, she is equally benevolent and full of love to her children. The temple at Jagat celebrates the motherly virtues of the Goddess.

India Travel Blog
                             Jagat Temple          courtesy; artandarchaeology.com

Can you see the red flags? They denote that the temple is used as a place of worship by the local residents.

While, Goddess Durga is widely associated with the Hindu thought, she is also considered a central figure by the Jains. It is said that she appeared in the dreams of Vimal, the builder of the world famous Delwara temples, and ordered her to make them.

But, why is this temple known as the Khajuraho of Rajasthan? Just have a look at this image and you will understand.

India Travel

India Travel
                     Celestial Dancers

I am simply marvelling at these sculptures. The lady below is apparently removing a thorn from her feet. These ladies are not goddesses but are  celestial dancers. The Jagat temple has lots of such images.

The Jagat temple also has images of celestial musicians. Have a look athe image below.

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                          Celestial Musicians

The lady above who is a dancer in the heavens above, is carrying a veena or a stringed musical instrument.

Now look at the image below.In the left panel is a beautiful lady who is adjusting her robes while the next panel has two warriors trying to tame a vyala or a mythical animal. This animal  probably represents the passion amongst us.

India Travel
                     Beauty and the Beast

Now you agree with me that the Jagat temple can rightly be called Khajuraho of Rajasthan?

All this and much more at this temple at Jagat.

India Travel
                                    Temple Front View

How to reach Jagat Temple?

It is quite easy. You can book a Uber from Udaipur. Else, you may write to me at swayamt@gmail.com for getting a Uber cab. I am a Uber business partner and would be more than happy to take you around.

 

 

 

Uber Diaries-The Case of the Unhappy Wife

What do you do when a passenger starts sharing with you details of her married life? Do you clam up or offer suggestions to her on how to sort out her mess? As a Uber partner, I had some tough choices to make. Today  India Travel Blog shares a new story.

I was returning from Saket to my place in Dwarka when Uber pinged me; there was a woman who wanted a ride to Dwarka.
I had just signed up as a Uber partner and was quite keen to pick random people up and hear their stories.
Signing up as a Uber partner is easy- download the Uber Business app on your phone, enter your details. The guys at Uber do some background checks and post that you are good to go.

What is difficult is to cope up with the various kinds of people who come to you as passengers. You do not know about them at all. The only thing that gives an inkling about their personalities is their ratings but, almost everybody gets a 5 star rating these days, so, ratings is not a big deal.You still are left guessing about the person when he/she gets into the back seat of your car.

Anyways, my passenger turned out to be a 30 plus woman, well dressed, articulate and yes, attractive.Naturally, like many other passengers before her, she was bit surprised about me. She had imagined that her Uber driver would be a regular taxi guy which I was not.

After a few polite questions, I started my car and offered her a snack that I was carrying.She wasn't hungry but as a matter of courtesy she took the snack.

The drive was a good 25 kilometers long and I thought some light banter was necessary to keep the monotony away.I think she was also eager to strike a conversation with me.

So, here she was, the wife of a successful businessman who had come to the Saket area to celebrate her anniversary. As things turned out, her hubby had to leave in a  jiffy because of his business commitments. 

I told her that I also blog on travel, run a website and yes, I have a day job too.

It was 9 pm and she hadn't exactly liked the idea of returning in an Uber.

"How can some one be so insensitive, you tell me?", she asked me."Two years in the marriage and he is acting so irresponsibly, he doesn't even understand my feelings!", she continued.

I kept silent. I did not know what to say.

"Are you married?", she asked me. "Err, yes!"

"Would you have left your wife like this?", she pressed on.

Now, I was confused. Should I reply truthfully or be evasive? I decided to keep quite.

"Hello, I am asking you", she pressed again. 

"Err, madam, I would not have done ike this, I am sure ", I replied. I knew I was lying but wanted to get away from this uncomfortable situation.

Over the next 20  minutes, the young lady became an emotional wreck. Apparently, her marriage was on the rocks and she simply did not know how to handle the situation. At the moment, she wanted a pair of listening ears and I fit into that role wonderfully.

Did she also want a comforting voice at that juncture? I do not know but there was an over whelming temptation on my part to act as a shrink.

She had run from her home in Bombay, she said. Her dad was a wealthy businessman there and wanted her to marry one of his clan. But, she had her own ideas. A childhood sweetheart was what she was aiming for.The two got married a couple of years back and she hoped life would be one big, never ending party.

As she continued with her story, I could not help but think of the mirage of happiness. We think that achieving our goals- be it marriage, business, finances etc - means getting a treasure trove of happiness.But, here, exactly the opposite was happening. I reflected on her wasted life.

As we drove on, I wondered about the ethereal nature of life.But, life is not unpleasant either. If it is offering lemons, then there are oranges too. Besides, this one example does not define life.It was her life that was so lonely.

I won't go into what happened when the ride ended. As most professionals do, I bid her good bye.On the contrary, she wanted to keep in touch with me.Thank you, I told her, you are most welcome to speak with me as and when you desire. I did not want to sound rude.

Do you think I should have offered advice/suggestions to her? Please let me know.

Thanks for reading all this.

Uber Diaries- The Girl With The Wedding Cards

Is Uber safe for women passengers in India?Hope, my travel blog answers this question.

As a  foreign  woman traveller coming to India, you would be wondering whether Uber in India is a safe and convenient mode of travel, isn’t it? Well, let me share some of my experiences with you as a Uber business partner.

I became a Uber Business Partner several months ago when a friend of mine suggested me to become one. And , since then, it has been one hell of an experience.

The Girl With The Wedding Cards

She was sure an attractive lady when I first saw her get into my car. Thank you lord, I murmured in anticipation of a good day ahead.
I was driving back to my home after work and had set my Uber app online.She had hailed me through the app and after a couple of minutes' drive, I had found her waiting at the exit of her office.

You do not seem to be a regular driver, she said to me . No, I am not.., I replied, I am a regular employee like you. The words came in English and sure, she was impressed.Trust, as they say, comes packaged in English.

Let us call the lady, Madam X. I will further shorten her nomenclature to X, for simplicity sake.

X was carrying a large plastic bag, apart from her laptop case. I offered to help her lift it up. No, thanks, she said, all the bag carries is wedding cards.

Wedding cards, I wondered aloud, are you a printer of cards? No, I am getting married next month, so I am going to my friends to personally invite them for my shadi.

Shadi is Hindi for wedding.

But, you could have sent them cards electronically or could have whatsapped them, I gently asked as we navigated through the super lousy Gurgaon traffic.

Yes, I could have, she replied patiently. But, you see wedding invitations require a bit of personal attention and I want all my friends to feel special about it !

So, how many cards are you carrying in your bag?

100.

So, you will be going all these 100 people. I asked incredulously.

Yes, why not, all these guys are people whom I value! 

In the meantime, she fished out a phone and started calling up her friends to check on them.

I balked. So, here she was, a modern young  woman working as an HR Manager in a global beverages company and still sticking to some time honoured Indian traditions.I could only marvel at the contradictions in our society.

We talked. I was full of questions and she answered each one of them patiently.

Do you find Uber safe in the evenings?

Yes, why not, she replied, I often take it when I have to go to multiple places.

The amorphous Gurgaon traffic melted away as we conversed. 



Uber had just helped me understand the world from another angle.