Shiva

Is the magnificent Somnath Temple really 8 million years old ?

The magnificent Somnath Temple, which helped a god cure his TB, is back in news again.

Thanks to Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Vice-President, many Indians and foreigners now know about this ancient Shiva Temple of Gujarat.

 

magnificent Somnath Temple
The magnificent Somnath Temple at night

This post will recap whatever has been written about this famous Shiva temple and add something more interesting for my readers who are spread all over the world. I hope that after reading it, some of you may like to visit this hauntingly beautiful place in Gujarat.

Magnificent Somnath Temple- what is the history?

Many Hindus believe that this temple is 8 million years old! That is crazy, isn’t it?

It was built by Moon or Chandra to cure himself of the dreaded disease of Tuberculosis!

But let us deep dive into the history of this fascinating temple.

The word Somnath means Lord of Moon and it refers to Lord Shiva.

Husband of 27 wives

Many millions of years ago, Chandra or Moon married the 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. Daksha is considered to be the originator of the human race. Would you like to know the names of the wives of Daksha?

These are: (1) Kṛttikā (the Pleiades), (2) Rohinī, (3) Mrigashīrsha, (4) Ārdrā, (5) Punarvasu, (6) Purbabhadrapada, (7) Pushya, (8) Asleshā, (9) Maghā, (10) Svāti (Arcturus), (11) Chitrā (Spica), (12) Purbaphalguni, (13) Hasta, (14) Rādhas, (15) Vishākhā, (16) Anurādhā, (17) Jyeshthā, (18) Mūla, (19) Purbashādha, (20)Uttarashara, (21) Sravana, (22) Uttarphalguni, (23) Satabhisha, (24) Uttarbhadrapada, (25) Revati, (26) Ashwini, (27) Bharani.

Actually, these are the names of 27 constellations or Nakshatras that are located in the moon’s orbit. Daksha is one of the three sons of Bramha, the Lord of Creation and a member of the Holy Trinity.

You know what? Us Indians like to hear tales. Well, everybody does and if a particular philosophical thought is couched in a tale, then what is the problem?

You may also like to visit this hauntingly beautiful Indian destination- Maheshwar

So…

It so happened that Chandra or Moon used to love Rohini much more than his other 26 wives. It is natural among human beings that we like one person more than the others in our family. Isn’t it?

Rohini, of course, used to relish this attention, but the other 26 ladies felt jealous. One day, they complained to their father, Daksha.

Don’t do this, please

Daksha understood the situation perfectly and one day met his son-in-law.

Don’t do this, dear son-in-law, the Lord of Mankind pleaded. Please treat all your wives- who are my daughters- equally.

Chandra said okay but did not change his behavior. This unfair treatment of the 26 ladies happened continued.

They complained again, and another meeting happened gain between Daksha and Chandra.

magnificent Somnath Temple
Creds- Flickr

The latter promised to his father-in-law that he would change his behavior but went back on his promise.

The 26 ladies again approached Daksha to complain about their husband’s behavior

This time, Daksha felt insulted.

Angry at his son-in-law, he rushed to Chandra’s house and cursed him.

‘O Chandra, may you be afflicted with a terrible disease!’

Save me!

Sure enough, the effect of Daksha’s curse had the desired effect on Chandra. The latter began to wither and die.

Seeing all this, the gods became very worried. They decided to visit Daksha’s father, Lord Bramha and request him to intervene.

After listening to the gods about Chandra’s misery, Bramha expressed his helplessness. But he suggested a way out.

‘Go to Lord Shiva, he will help you, O Chandra!’

Please help me

Now Chandra approached Lord Shiva who also happened to be his brother-in-law. Do you know who Lord Shiva is?

He is the God of Death and another member of the Holy Trinity.

It is very difficult to please Him, so Chandra worked very hard to please Lord Shiva.

He prayed and prayed to get Shiva’s blessings.He recited the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra ( a hymn that protects one from death) more than 10 million times.

Chandra also decided to do something exceptional.

Magnificent Somnath Temple

To make Shiva happy, Chandra then decided to make a beautiful temple devoted to Lord Shiva. He also installed a Shivalinga ( an egg-shaped idol that represents the infinite nature of Shiva) there.

This marvelous building was made of pure silver and was the first edition of the present day Somnath Temple.

Lord Shiva became happy with Chandra’s devotion and granted him a boon.

magnificent Somnath Temple
The Lord’s Secretary

Live another day, Chandra!

‘Ok, you will not die a horrible death, but I have to respect the curse of Daksha too,’ Shiva explained to Chandra.

For the first fifteen days in every month, there will be no moon in the nights, and in the next installment, you will start regaining your brilliance. Is that ok?’ Shiva asked his brother-in-law.

Yes, I am fine, Lord, Chandra replied in relief.

So that is the reason why every fortnight in a month you can see the moon but can’t see him in the balance part.

Gold, sandalwood, stones

The Somnath temple in the Saurashtra area of Gujarat has been rebuilt several times.

Some say that many thousands of years back, this place of worship was made of gold, and later of sandalwood.

The sandalwood temple was made by Lord Krishna to pay His respects to Lord Shiva.

In the more recent times, this glorious building was rebuilt by the Chalukya rulers of Gujarat which was later on demolished by successive Muslim kings who ruled Delhi and Ahmedabad. The first demolition of the magnificent Somnath temple was done By Mahmud Ghazni in 1024 A.D.

Ghazni carried away several gems and jewelry pieces from this temple on his way back to Afghanistan. He also captured several thousand Hindus from this temple town and wanted them to sell them as slaves.

magnificent Somnath Temple
Why do Muslims demolish temples? Creds- Flickr

The last demolition of this temple was carried out by Aurangzeb in 1702 A.D after which it lay in ruins for the next 200 years.

It was only in the 1950s when Sardar Patel, the first Home Minister of independent India helped in the reconstruction of this great temple. Today, it is made of stone and stands proudly on the Arabian Sea coast of the Gujarat.

It has a fantastic history, isn’t it?


Additional readings-

Somnath temple and Lata Mangeshkar

Do you know that this magnificent Somnath temple and the legendary Lata Mangeshkar are connected with each other?

The story goes like this. When Ghazni attacked this magnificent temple, most of the singers and dancers of Somnath left Gujarat and headed to the Goa region. These people were ardent devotees of Lord Shiva and sand and danced only for Him.

When the resettled in the Goa region, the locals started calling these resettlers as Mangeshkars- meaning devotees of Lord Shiva.

Now you see the connection between Lataji and Somnath temple?

How to reach Somnath temple?

Ok, now let us see the various options available to reach this fantastic place.

Option 1 – Take a flight to either Diu or Porbandar. Somnath is just 63 kilometers from Diu and 115 kms from Porbandar. Once you reach either of these two cities, take a cab.

Option 2. The Indian Railways portal can help you plan and book trains.

Option 3- Take a bus from Ahmedabad or Porbandar.

For hotel bookings, click on the website of MakeMyTrip.

Best time to visit this temple town- October to March.



I hope you liked this article on the magnificent Somnath Temple. If you did, then please click on the ads above to fund this website.

Thanks for reading it.

 

What’s new today? The Story behind Ram Navami, Lord Rama and Sita

Ram Navami
A devotee dressed as Lord Rama in a Ram Navami procession. Getty images

What is Ram Navami?

If you are a traveller to India, you will find lots of temples celebrating Ram Navami today. Ram Navami is the birthday of Lord Rama or Ram who was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was born more than 7, 000 years ago and is the role model of millions of Indians.

We celebrate Ram Navami by fasting and feeding young girls who have not attained adolescence.

What does ‘Navami’ mean?

In the context of Ram Navami, the word Navami means the ninth day of the month of Chaitra ( corresponding to late March/early April). Chaitra is one of the months in the Indian calendar. This month marks the onset of summer in the northern plains of India.

Why is Rama the role model of Indians?

Rama has impacted the lives of millions of Indians in many ways. He gave a lot of respect to women during his lifetime which was a great thing in those days.  Even though, Rama was born in a powerful royal family and was the next in line for kingship, he married only one woman all his life- Sita.

Rama’s father, Dashrath had 3 wives and if Rama wanted, he too  could have married other women as well.

And?

Rama is an ideal son, father, brother, friend, king and husband for all of us Indians.

Rama  was an obedient son and renounced the kingdom of Ayodhya when his father ordered Rama to do so. Unlike others, he too could have revolted against his father and occupied the throne by force but he did nothing of this sort.

Rama was deeply attached to all his three brothers. He never bore any illwill to any of his brothers.

When he came back from exile after a turbulent 14 years, Rama ruled his kingdom as an ideal king should. Everybody in his kingdom was happy and contented and lived a fruitful life.

Exile?

Rama was banished by his father to spend 14 years in the forest. Dashrath wanted to honor his word that he had  given to one of his queens, Kaikeyee. She wanted her son, Bharat to be the next king and also desired that Rama leave the kingdom for the forests.

Image result for flickr images of Soorpanakha
Soorpanakha or the sharp nailed one attacks Sita (on the left). Flickr

Rama never wanted to see his father unhappy. As soon as he got his father’s orders, Rama  immediately left the kingdom for the forests. Isn’t this gesture great? How many people obey their parents unquestioningly?

Tell me about his family?

Rama, his wife Sita, and three brothers- Bharat, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. His father was Dashrath, the king of Ayodhya. Dashrath had three queens- Kaushalya, Kaikeyee and Sumitra.

Ram was the son of Kaushalya while Lakshman and Shatrughan were the children of Sumitra.

Image result for flickr images of Rama Navami
Rama and his family

You were saying something about Lord Vishnu

Yes. Vishnu is that part of the God almighty who protects and preserves all the righteous people. When there is a lot of evil around, then Vishnu comes down to Earth in one of the forms ( human, animal, tortoise etc.) and removes the evil. Vishnu is always given company by his consort, Lakshmi-the goddess of wealth.

Image result for flickr images of Vishnu
Vishnu and Lakshmi. Courtesy- Flickr

If you and I lead virtuous lives then we will be blessed with  lots of wealth.

What evil did Rama remove?

Rama killed Ravana who had kidnapped many women around the world and kept them in his harem as his slaves.

This man, Ravana had also kidnapped Sita and wanted her as his wife.

Image result for flickr images of Ravana
Ravana. Flickr

It was not an easy task to defeat this demon. He had terrified the world to such an extent that nobody wanted to confront Ravana.

I see, and who was Hanuman?

Hanuman is the trusted follower of Rama. He is immortal and cannot be found easily by us lay folks. Hanuman is the embodiment of wisdom, power and virtue. Rama is incomplete without Hanuman.

Image result for flickr images of Hanuman
Courtesy- Flickr

Millions of Indians pray to Lord Hanuman to deliver them from fear and desperation.


I am embedding one of the prayers to Lord Hanuman here. This prayer was written by Sant Tulsidas, one of the greatest poets that the world has seen.
https://youtu.be/QmvBZmBHNRg
Do you know that even as I write this post, Lord Hanuman is sitting close by and reading this article? He is such a great fan of Lord Rama. He is is never tired of reading the stories of Lord Rama.

Where is Ayodhya?

This city is roughly 700 miles north-east of Delhi. If you want to travel to Ayodya, you can take a train or drive down the road.

Image result for images of Ayodhya on flickr

Courtesy- Pinterest

For train reservations, click this Government of India website; http://www.irctc.co.in .

Image result for images of Ayodhya on flickr
Courtesy- Flickr

Did you like this post? Please write back to me if you want to know more about Ayodhya and other fascinating destinations in India.

What is the story of Udaipur?

 

Monuments of India
An artistic representation of the Banbir affair

His arm raised in blind hate, Banbir stood poised to strike at the sleeping child.Panna sat lifeless, unable to do anything except cry silently, without tears.A gripping tale of Udaipur for people travelling to India and Udaipur.Mother’s Day special from India Travel Blog !

That fateful night, the House of Mewar was deep in grief.Ratan Singh, the King of Mewar had passed away at a very young age.The nobles had to take a decision on the next King. And a decision they took. The next King of Mewar was to be Vikramaditya.

The throne of the King of Mewar at that time was in Chittor.

But, I will take my friends back a bit. In 1527, the King of Mewar , Sanga had passed away.He died of his wounds in the battle of Khanua, against Babar. Upon Sanga’s death, one of his sons, Ratan Singh ascended the throne but after a few years, he passed away young.Sanga had seen 3 of his sons die in his lifetime and now, after Ratan’s death, there were only two contenders to his throne- Vikramaditya and Udai.

Vikramaditya proved to be an arrogant and useless guy.One day, he had a heated argument with one of his knights and this reulted in him getting imprisoned!

Now, Vikramaditya had a half brother who harboured the dreams of becoming the King of Mewar.His name was Banbir and this guy was an utterly ruthless person.One dark night, Banbir murdered Vikramaditya and set in motion his plans to occupy the throne.But, there was another son of Sanga, Udaisingh , and he was alive. Udai was just 14 years old.

With a dagger drawn and blood still dripping from the weapon, Banbir walked purposefully toward’s Udai Singh’s room.The prince had to be despatched today, Banbir was determined.He could imagine himself sitting astride the throne of Mewar- that glorious throne that had a 1000 year old history behind it!His pace became faster and his breath became shallow and shallower every moment.

Panna had just put Udaisingh  to sleep and was beginning to put out the lamps.As she walked to the last lamp. she saw the faint silhouette of a man rushing towards her room.Who could it be, she wondered? She was a maid servant of Udai and could recognize many members of the  royal household.Oh, that seems to be Banbir, she realized, but, what is he doing here in this ungodly hour?

Monuments of India
Was this palace the scene of Banbir’s misdeeds?This palace is in Chittor,India

Panna was the royal maid and was assigned the duties of tending to Udai Singh.

And, then, the flash of realization hit her.Oh dear Lord, is this fellow coming to snuff out the life of Udaisingh?Yes, it seems so, she concluded.After all, the steel blade of the murderer’s dagger still wore a crimson hue.The hue of blood!

Quickly she made a decision.With a little bit of effort, she removed Udai from the royal bed.Hiding him under it, she quickly put her own son on the same royal bed- he was asleep in another room. Her heart wrenching in pain, she covered her own son with the quilt.Now, nobody can make out if the child on the bed was  her son, she thought to herself.

In a few minutes, Banbir was inside the room, his eyes searching for his foe.”Where is Udai Singh.?, ” he demanded.Panna did not answer.

Where is Udai Singh, O, idiot woman, Banbir persisted.

No answer.

Banbir stepped ahead and raised his arm to strike the poor ,terrified  maid servant.

With a great effort at controlling her emotions, Panna pointed out the sleeping figure to the murderer.Banbir stepped forward, his eyes aglow with ambition.

Panna’s heart shrank.Oh, my lovely young man, my son, when will I get another chance to caress you, fondle you, clothe you, sing songs to you!

Banbir reached the edge of the bed, his right arm raised, clutching the dagger.

With one fell swoop, the dagger had pierced the quilt and the heart of the sleeping child.Panna had just made the throne of Mewar her eternal debtor.The price of her son was simply now incalculable!

As Banbir, made his way out of the room, satisfied that he was now the King of Mewar, Panna, quickly forgot her grief. Udai Singh was quickly smuggled out of the room to a safer place- far far far away from the murderous Banbir .He , Udai, grew up into a strong and handsome young man and later staked his claim to the throne of Mewar.He attacked Banbir and the latter had to run for his life.The throne of Mewar was now finally with Udai Singh.

Stories of India
The King who built Udaipur-Udaisingh

This Udai Singh later on built the grand city of Udaipur , famous for its lakes, Lake Palace and the assorted grand gardens and buildings.



Places to see in India-Udaipur
Lake City-Udaipur

So, next time you travel to Udaipur, please spare a thought for the indomitable Panna who sacrificed her son so that the life of the rightful heir of the throne of Mewar could be saved.

Did you like this story?I am keen to know about your opinion.Please write back to me if you want to know more on this.

You may also like to read some more interesting and gripping stories like the one on white tigers in India 

 

Thanks you for dropping bye

 

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.

 

 

 

International Yoga Day-who is the greatest Yogi ever

International Yoga Day is round the corner and this calls for a short story on the greatest yogi that this world has ever seen.

Yogis are normally associated with people who have long beards, wear long flowing robes and having a tension free life. and performing various yogasanas.True? Not necessarily.

A true yogi is one who has achieved balance in his or her life.

Today, on the occasion of the International Yoga Day, I am going to tell you the hauntingly beautiful story of the greatest yogi the world has ever seen, Lord Krishna.

The Story of Krishna

He was born this day more than 5000 years ago in the ancient town of Mathura, India. Krishna wasn’t born in a hospital, rather his ward was a prison which housed his father and his mother as well.Krishna’s birthday is also called Janmashtami and it falls on the eighth day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapad.

Mathura is approximately 160 miles from Delhi. More than 5,000 years ago, this city was ruled by a cruel king, Kansa.

One day, Kansa was escorting his sister and brother-in-law to their house in his chariot. While he was driving them home, he heard a prophecy from the sky that he would be killed by his nephew the son of his daughter.

Terrified, Kansa through his sister and her husband in a jail and hoped to kill their newborn.

Kansa failed in his endeavor and the baby Krishna was smuggled out of the prison to one of the small villages nearly 11 miles north of Mathura. The name of this village is Vrindavan.

Krishna grew up to be a wise, hardworking, loving and tactful man. He was a friend, philosopher, and guide to people who flocked to him.

Krishna’s childhood

Krishna grew up in Vrindavan, a place that was regularly troubled by heavy rains which made the lives of his village folk miserable. They did not know how to protect themselves from the floods that disturbed them regularly.

Krishna thought that a nearby hill, Govardhan, can work as a bulwark against the floods that came with unexpected rains. He encouraged his fellow villagers to use the hill as a refuge during floods. It is also possible that Krishna and his fellow villagers planted a lot of trees on the hill-slopes to prevent landslides.

An ancient sculpture shows him lifting up the hill to provide refuge to his village folk.

The masses of India largely consider Krishna as a lovable young toddler playing naughty games and having a cheerful disposition. Probably, every parent wants to have children like him.

Forever naughty, Krishna always carries a flute which emits divine music. This means that every human being should strive to speak kind and sweet words. Our mouths are flutes, actually.

Krishna is also fond of his cows and bulls and is mostly seen enjoying the company of these animals who are the basic backbone of India’s agriculture.

Krishna means so many things to so many people. He is also considered to be the greatest yogi.

Krishna -the greatest yogi, why?

Krishna believed in living life fully while being conscious of the fact that we can only control our responses to the situations and not the situations themselves. We cannot control outcomes. Secondly, the only thing eternal and indestructible is Aatma. We all are but physical manifestations of Aatma. Westerners refer to the Aatma as a soul.

Also Read- Travel Tips for India 

Secondly, the only thing eternal and indestructible is Aatma. We all are but physical manifestations of Aatma. Aatma is roughly the soul of the Western thought.Birth and death of creatures are akin to Aatma wearing new clothes and shedding old ones.

Krishna never mandated what he was saying about Aatma was the universal truth; he left it to us to realize the significance of this thought. This is the hallmark of a true yogi.

Bhagwad Gita

Krishna shared this perspective with Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. This thought or philosophy is captured in the Bhagwad Gita, a book that inspires millions of people when caught in self-doubt. The word, ‘Bhagwad’ means ‘belonging to God’ while ‘Gita’ means ‘song’.

Krishna was the charioteer of Arjun in the Great War, also called as Mahabharata

In the image above, Arjuna is seen listening to Krishna patiently on his chariot. Arjuna is full of doubts about Dharma or duty.Krishna explains to his friend, Arjuna, the meaning of Dharma and why it is important for everybody to perform his duty or Dharma. You maybe a Muslim or a Christian or a Jew but you must never fail to do your duty.

The world over, Krishna is loved for his unassuming, friendly and helpful nature. To the parents he is a lovable kid, to the philosophers, he is the ultimate yogi and to the friends, he is the greatest friend- ever ready to help me and you out of tricky situations.

Krishna is always accompanied by his consort, Radha.
He is immensely popular among women as he has time and again helped women come out of embarrassing and dreadful situations.

Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu and so is Buddha too!

So essentially Krishna and Buddha are one and the same, both dwelling on Karma and Yoga!

Today, the world over, there are millions of followers of Krishna under the umbrella of ISKCON or the Hare Rama Hare Krishna sect. Most of these followers live in the United States, Russia, Canada and other parts of continental Europe.

The importance of International Yoga Day

International Yoga Day
Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes part in the International Yoga Day celebrations in Delhi. Creds; Time

Every year, June 21 is celebrated as the International Yoga Day. The idea behind these celebrations is to introduce people to yoga through breathing and physical exercises.

The benefit of the yogic exercises is to achieve balance in mind, body, and soul by controlling our breathing.

Benefits of yoga

Have I benefitted from these exercises? Yes. I practice yoga for 30 minutes daily and this has led me to control my anger and fickleness. Yoga has also helped me to work harder without feeling tired.

By practicing yoga, I am aiming to develop my sixth sense too.

To become a yogi, me and you must first try to conquer our anger and that comes through yoga.

Thanks to the International Yoga Day, millions of Indians and people from other countries are now aware of yoga. I am sure, all this will lead to a more peaceful world.

You can visit this link to learn a  few yogasanas; http://food.ndtv.com/health/different-types-of-yoga-and-their-many-health-benefits-768722

Thanks

I would like to thank my friends @Hiddenheritage or Arjun Kumar and Shri Abdul Aziz Rajput for giving me their permission to use their images.

Lastly, if you want to visit Vrindavan and Mathura, please write to me and I shall help arrange your visit to these places.

Hauntingly Beautiful-Red Fort in Delhi- Part  1

Last Sunday, I fulfilled a promise that I had made to myself- bringing alive , through images, the chequered history of the Red Fort of Delhi, India. 

It is a hauntingly beautiful fort and unlike many such old castles spread throughout the world and India, is always bustling with tourists. Many travellers from United States, United Kingdom , continental Europe , Korea and Japan make this fort a part of their itinerary. 

Red Fort is a traveller’s paradise.  

Have a look at this bazaar, perhaps one of the oldest surviving bazaars of India. It is called Chhatta Bazaar, or a bazaar of beehives  

   Constructed in the middle of the 17th century by the Mughal Emperor, Shahjehan, this bazaar was also called Meena Bazaar, so called, because wives of his nobles used to sell their wares to the Emperor himself.  

If a particular lady caught  his fancy, well, she was endowed with good luck!

Have a look at the gold or brass coloured ancient door to the Fort.  

   Dear traveller, a word of advice: have a  kullad of lassi or sweet buttermilk before you start onward. It is quite a long distance to cover. 
  It is yummy and full of energy!
As we go further, an ancient inscription in Persian  welcomes us , hello, can someone decipher?  

 Tomorrow: Steeped in luxury: the apartments of the Emperor

Orchha and Kundar- the two haunted towns of Central India

Orchha is not just about palaces and the river close by. It is also about Kundar , the haunt of the valiant Chandelas and Bundelas.

Don’t forget to include Kundar if you are planning a weekend trek to the ancient town of Orchha!

places in Orchha
The courtyard of Kundar
Kundar is very near to Orchha

Garh, in Hindi, means “fort” so, Garh Kundar means the Fort of Kundar. It is located approximately 30 miles from Jhansi, an important railway station on the Delhi-Chennai route. Direction-wise, it is roughly east of Jhansi and is an administrative part of Tikamgarh district of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Travelers need to get down from the train at Jhansi and take a car or bus ride to Kundar.

If you are traveling to Orchha, then you will find Kundar on the way.

Madhya Pradesh has other great places for travelers heading to India such as Khajuraho, Orchha,  tiger sanctuaries in Kanha and Bandhavgarh and the world famous Temple of The Lord of Death at Ujjain.

What makes Kundar so fascinating for this post is that it is a haunted place and no living being, not even bats or pigeons live here!

History of Kundar

Kundar used to be under the control of the Chandel rulers, the makers of the world famous Khajuraho temples when Prithviraj Chauhan, the last ruler of Delhi and Ajmer vanquished Parmardidev, the Chandel king.Post the defeat of the Chandels, the Chauhan put his vassal, Khet Singh Khangar as the governor and after a century, the baton  passed on to Hurmat Singh Khangar.

Prithviraj was defeated by the Turks in 1192 and the throne of Delhi passed on to the Muslims.

Since, Kundar is in an inaccessible place and surrounded by valleys, hills, ravines and thick forests, this fort could not be captured by the Muslim kings of Delhi.The Khangar kings, sensing the state of confusion in Delhi, declared themselves independent and later on enjoyed a trouble free reign of around 100 years in this part of India. One night,i n 1288 AD, the Khangars were massacred by their vassals, the Bundelas.

places near Orchha
Isn’t this a beautiful place?

Who were Chauhans, Chandels, Bundelas and Khangars?

They are the warrior class of India.Also called as kshatriyas, the Chauhans etc formed the fighting arm of India and ruled vast tracts of the country.There was intense rivalry among these groups, with each one of one of them trying to prove itself militarily stronger than the rest.There are some really hauntingly beautiful tales about these clans in India.

The events that led to the fateful night of the massacre

Hurmat Singh , the last Khangar king of Kundar was a brave , obstinate  but a liberal man.He had grown old and looked forward to installing his son, Nagdev as his successor.

Politically, while the Chandels, the previous lords of Kundar were weak, their decline had led to the emergence of new warrior classes like the Bundelas in the region.The Bundelas were a doughty lot but they had to accept the overlordship of the Khangars whom they considered inferior in the social hierarchy.The resentment was simmering but was hidden from the king.

The king wished to overcome his “socially inferior” status by marrying his son Nagdev to the daughter of one of his subordinates, Sohanpal, a Bundela.Her name was Manvati and was secretly dating a fellow Bundela, Agnidutt.

Sohanpal had his own problems to solve.He had been given a raw deal by one of his own brothers and was planning to approach the king for a solution.He never had an inkling about the king’s intention to ask for the hand of his daughter.

Sohanpal finally had a chance to meet the king and explain his predicament.Hurmat Singh readliy agreed to bail him out but then set down his condition, the betrothal of Manvati to Nagdev.T he diplomat that Sohanpal was, he kept his counsel and promised to get back to the king with his reply.

Sohan consulted his colleagues and fellow Bundelas and all of them agreed to play ball.

But, they had a secret plan..

The Bundelas readily agreed to the conditions laid down by Hurmat Singh and proposed a grand party of drunken revelry before the marriage ceremony.The revelry would take place within the confines of the Kundar fort and there would be no limits to merriment.The unsuspecting Khangar could’nt be happier- his moment had arrived and at last his clan would be on the same level as the Bundelas whom he ruled!

After the orgy, the knives come out

It was a full moon night and  was awash with the monsoon laden winds.There was relaxation and enjoyment all around.The beautiful maidens of the royal household were singing folk tunes of romance and marriage, of longing and pining of the beloveds , and finally of the union of the two engaged souls.It was indeed a beautiful moment for the inhabitants there.

The men , reclining on their opulent settees, were half asleep after a marathon session of drinking some of the choicest wine and liquor that their country had.Food had already been devoured and now it was just the time for endless pegs of liquor.

The kids, excited at the prospect of a grand marriage and good fun, scurried around with their playmates.Nobody cared a damn about what was to happen in the next one hour.

The Bundelas were armed from head to toe but had hidden their arms under their cloaks.They were waiting for the right opportunity.

The reverie of Hurmat Singh was broken abruptly by a violent, impudent kick by Sohanpal. Get up O fake king, Sohan bellowed!

The king was befuddled by this change in events but tried to reason out with the transgressor.Sohanpal was’nt amused. He kicked his king once again and ordered him to get up.By now the Khangars had been surrounded by their would be relatives and could see that each Bundela held a glistening sword.

Tragedy…

With surgical precision, the attackers got down to work- each Khangar was put down to death without making any discrimination between men, women and children.The skies were rent with cries of terror and pain.And within minutes, the Khangars had all been finished, to the last child.

The Bundelas assumed control of the fort of Kundar but later abandoned it and formed a new capital. in Orchha.

places near Orchha
The Haunted Fort of Kundar, near Orchha

Even today, Kundar remains an uninhabited , haunted , dreadful place since then.

How to reach Kundar

You will have to take the Bhopal Shatabdi from New Delhi Railway Station.Get down at Jhansi and from there take a cab for Orchha and Kundar.

Alternately, book your hotel and cab through the Madhya Pradesh Tourism site www.mptourism.com

For train bookings, visit the website www.irctc.com

You can also visit Jhansi and Khajuraho alongside.

 

The Mughal-Persian stand off!

  The Mughal and the Persian- barbs back and forth!

  India, for much of the 13th-18th century period was under the Slaves, Turks,Afghans and later on,the celebrated Mughals.
  In 1526, Babur, a a descendant of Ghenghis Khan and Tamerlame or Timur, descended upon the Indian plains from his perch in Central Asia and fought a pitched battle with Ibrahim Lodi, the then king of Delhi at Panipat, India. Lodi was an Afghan king.
  Panipat is located a few hundred kilometres from Delhi and has seen at least 3 major battles for the Delhi throne.Close to Panipat is located Kurukshetra, the site of the Great War or Mahabharat.
   The Great War was fought amongst the two warring sets of cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
  For some reason, this area is haunted and armies have fought among themselves, murdering in thousands, for that throne of Delhi.
  So, after worsting Lodi and later killing him, Babur marched to Delhi and the unfaithful bride that Delhi is, wed him as her lord.
  Babur was the founder of the Mughal empire in India and his descendants were Humayun, Akbar,Jehangir and later Shahjehan.
  We will talk about Shahjehan, the king who is credited with building Taj Mahal in Agra though there are several controversies about this claim. He laso built the Delhi Red Fort and the old Delhi city.
  While the Moghuls were cementing their kingdom in India, the Persians or the Iranians were watching the Mughal’s moves were great interest.Afghanistan was their area of interest and quite a number of times the two dynasties conflicted over the control of the Afghans.The bitterness was all evident.
  The Persian ambassador to the Moghul court carried this bitterness and the attendant sense of superiority in his heart.After all, the Persians considered themselves to be of a more royal blood and carrying the strains of the ancient kings like Darius, Xerxes and Cyrus!
  The Mughals considered matrimonial relations with the Persians a matter of honor and racially uplifting.Many princes had Persian wives and it was considered de rigor off springs of these ladies would later become the king of India.
  The Mughal king, Shahjehan, on the other hand treated the ambassador with disdain and was determined to show the envoy his place in the court!
   One day, the Mughal plotted to inflict embarrassment on the envoy by having a canopy erected in such a manner that the latter had to bow his head while entering the court of the Mughal. No way, the envoy said to himself and proceeded to enter the room with his back turned toward the king!
   Shahjehan was incensed..O fool, he thundered, are you an ass that you are entering this august assembly in this manner?The ambassador answered coolly, O King, in our country, we enter the asses’ stables in this manner only!The entire assembly was stunned but the king could not do anything.Persia was  much much militarily stronger than the Mughal empire.
   The insults and barbs continued.
   After Shahjehan completed the construction of Shajehanabad-now known as Old Delhi- he invited the envoy for a tour of the city and asked for his opinion.
   After travelling together for a few miles in the Delhi streets and a boat ride together in the Yamuna, the king requested the envoy for his opinion.
   The ambassador, without batting an eyelid remarked-O King, while Delhi is like a moon on the fourteenth night, my capital is like a new moon night!The king was mightily pleased with this remark.
   But, a few discerning courtiers saw through this remark.The ambassador was really hinting that the Mughal empire was actually disintegrating while the Persian empire was still in its infancy and on path to glory!
  The Mughal-Persian relations were not that pleasant during this phase of the Mughal rule.
  There are other instances of the unpleasant exchange of barbs between the two personalities, but for brevity, I shall stop here.