Skip to main content

The top things to do in India and one of them is a tour of a haunted palace

This summer, you have a lot of things to do in India. If you are planning to travel to India then you  can visit the famous sex ashram of a sadhu in Pune or just enjoy a tour of a haunted palace in Delhi. If hills beckon you, then book a ticket to Coorg, pronto!

I have made this list for you and if you want some other place should be included in it, then please write back to me.

The top things to do in India

  1. Tour of the Haunted Place in Delhi 

If you are planning to spend your summer months in Delhi this year, then should do one thing. Book this tour immediately. The tour leader is Swayam Tiwari and he is a knowledgeable fellow. One of his favorite tours is the one about the Haunted Palace of Balban. This palace is in ruins and lies within the iconic Mehrauli Archaeological Park.

things to do in India
Shrouded in mystery, this palace is haunted!
Jamali Kamali
One of the most mysterious places in Mehrauli is the Jamali Kamali Mosque

Balban’s Palace is an attraction for the wildlife enthusiasts too. During my last visit to this enchanting place, I encountered a Neelgai (antelope) which was resting in a shade. Upon seeing me, the startled animal sprang away and melted in the bushes.

things to do in India and Delhi
These corridors will set you to imagine things

Watch this video here

https://youtu.be/kvUkrj5_FP0

The bird lovers will also find this place charming. Peacocks, sparrows, parrots, robins, kites and weaver birds live here in thousands. And if you are lucky, you may find yourself staring into the eyes of a jackal!

Things to do In Delhi
We are at the boat house in the Mehrauli Park here

          2. Visit the “SEX ASHRAM” of an Indian sadhu in Pune

To be honest, I am not sure if this ashram still permits its residents to enjoy free sex but several decades ago, this place was known for this kind of colorful activities.

Also called as Osho Ashram, this destination is very popular among several thousand visitors who come to Pune every day. Osho is another name of Acharya Rajneesh who lived in the United States several years ago. He was a brilliant and several Americans became his followers because of this quality. The main philosophy of Rajneesh was living in the moment and never to worry.

Image result for images of Osho ashram

You can read about Rajneesh by clicking this linkhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajneesh

Rajneesh lived a royal life and at the time of his death, possessed more than 90 Rolls Royces- all gifted to him by his rich and wealthy followers! Many people believe that Rajneesh was poisoned by the American authorities because they were uncomfortable with his huge fan following. No wonder, for many Americans, one of the many things to do in India is a visit to the Osho Ashram.

This ashram is shaped in the form of a pyramid and is a delightful place to visit.

      3. Go Drumming!

Actually, I find drumming pretty interesting. This is one of the more pleasurable things to do in India for people who are sick of visiting monuments,  eating street food,  watching movies and yoga sessions and I will tell you why.

One day, one of my friends , Debu Mishra, invited me to a drumming event hosted in one of the gardens of Delhi.  I was full of excitement when I visited this place but as the event progressed, I just could not help dancing to the awesome tunes. This event was a great stress buster for me and it would be great if you can find time to attend one such event.

things to do in India
Drumming takes you away from stress

Here is a link to the Facebook Events Page of this event. Entry is free and if you want to play drums, please bring your equipment to this event. Make friends, relax and generally have a good time- that is the mantra of this event.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Delhidrumcircle/

  4. Poetry on your mind?

If you want to share your poems with other people ( strangers who also like poetry), then this event by Nicky Chandon is just for you and I am sure that you will find it as an event to remember. The name of this event is Caferati sure, it is a good place for all those people who want a ready audience.

Though visiting Caferati is not one of the most important things to do in India, I would still recommend it as an event for the intellectually inclined travelers.

The brain behind this amazing monthly event is Nicky who is a young girl, maybe 27 or 28. If you want to recite your poem or enact something, please attend this event by visiting its Facebook Page. I have attached the link to this event below.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/caferati.habitat/

There are many aspiring stand-up comedians who have found this event as a good platform to showcase their talents.

Watch this video in which a poet is expressing his thoughts in Hindi

Caferati is organized on the last Wednesday or Friday of every month at the famous Antisocial restaurant in HKV.

5. Visit the Palace of the Dead

Have you heard or read about Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi? Chances are that you have. Visit this charming place with me and get mesmerized with its known and untold stories.

Image result for flickr Humayun's Tomb
                                                                              Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb is one of the most beautiful buildings in Delhi and if you have not visited this place so far, then it is time you made amends.

6. Walk in the woods -Lal Kot Walls

This one is my favorite. If you want to explore the wilderness and history of Delhi, then contact me for an adrenaline-filled tour of Lal Kot.

Lal Kot means Red Walls and stands for the remains of a 1000 year old Delhi fort. These walls are made of red coloured rocks and cannot be located easily as many dense bushes and trees now hide them.

Some people also believe that the foundation of these walls is made of gold and silver!

Image result for images of Lal Kot flickr

Would you like exploring them? If yes, then we will plan out a tour. You may write to me at swayamt@gmail.com

Booking Tickets

Right now I am unavailable for any trip to Pune, so please don’t write to me for that. However, I may help you in organizing a Pune trip with the help of my contacts. Otherwise, if you want to travel Pune on your own, please visit this website; https://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in/ . This is Maharashtra government website so you can go on and click it open.

If you are planning to come visit Delhi or Pune, then use this Indian Railways website to book tickets;  https://www.irctc.co.in/eticketing/loginHome.jsf

Else you may book tickets at MakeMyTrip and Cleartrip.

Have I helped you in planning your India itinerary? Please write to me.

Thanks for reading this.

Indian offbeat destinations

Indian offbeat destinations- Where the Vindhyas kneel down

Jhukehi is not one of those typical Indian offbeat destinations  where you arrive by a train, get into a nice hotel, backpack around , take pictures and leave a couple of days later. It is just a train halt but has an interesting folklore behind it. Why? Read on…

Indian offbeat destinations
The mighty Vindhyas bow down here

But, where is Jhukehi?

 

Indian offbeat destinations
Location of Jhukehi on the map

I am not sure whether this map can be easily read by a typical reader but the passionate traveller will easily interpret it. Jhukehi marks the spot where there is a gap in the Vindhyan range. This gap is of strategic importance as it helps in the movement of men and materials between the northern and southern parts of India.

Indian offbeat destinations
Not a typical Indian destination

But why are we talking about Jhukehi?

Good question. Why should this mountain pass deserve this attention here?

Well, many thousands of years ago, there lived a sage in India, Agastya. He was well regarded, was knowledgeable and lived in North India. Sage Agastya is considered to be the son of Sage Pulastya, one of the saptarshis or the 7 stars of the Great Constellation.

Sage Agastya is also the elder brother of Sage Vashishtha , the preceptor of Lord Rama, the hero in Valmiki Ramayana.

Agastya rishi is as  equally revered in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka as in North India.

But, we are digressing, aren’t we? We were discussing the significance of Jhukehi, one of the Indian offbeat destinations.

Breaking the ego!

One day, Sage Agastya resolved that he would travel to the region south of the Vindhyas. At that time, the Vindhyas , full of arrogance and ego, were becoming taller by the day. The mountains were being taunted by Narada everyday about their ‘low height’. Agastya was aware of the mountain’s ego and haughtiness and wanted to teach the Vindhyas a lesson.

When the sage reached the Vindhyas, the mountain, bowed its head in respect.

‘O sage, I bow my head to you, kindly cross over my head and resume your journey, ‘ the mountain said. The sage was amused. ‘Ok then, I shall cross over your head, but how long will you bow your head?’, he asked.

‘I shall bow my ahead as long as you return from your journey, Sir’, the mountain replied.

Ok, Agastya replied, wait for my return.

Indian offbeat destinations
The mountain bows its head to the Sage

The mountain has been waiting for the sage to return ever since. The small hill that you see in the image above is said to be the head of the mountain. Isn’t it a delightful story?

So as I said, Jhukehi is not a destination in the popular sense. It is just a train halt and  falls on the Jabalpur- Satna train route. in Hindi Jhukehi means ‘to bow’.

I hope Madhya Pradesh Tourism acknowledges this train halt as another interesting spot in the tour and travel circuit in the state. The state abounds in many such offbeat destinations and I guess, a lot of such stories like this one will have to come out to promote them.

Did you like this story? Thanks for reading up on this post.

 

 

 

India Travel Stories- Fortnight of the Dead

 

Shraadh.jpgToday marks the end of the Fortnight of the Dead in India. If you are travelling to India right now, you will probably see several Indians, Hindus particularly, paying obeisance to their long dead ancestors. This is an age old custom in India and has several interesting facets .

This fortnight plugs the gap between the monsoon or the rainy season and the festive season. So, after a fortnight of solemnities, we are back to our happy selves.

This period is also known as Shraadh Paksh in Hindi or Sanskrit. The word Shraddh means “devotion” or “respect”. The word Paksh means ” fortnight”. So, this period of fortnight is meant for paying respect to our ancestors who are no more with us.

We believe that our ancestors have made us what we are today. Their values have shaped us into being better human beings. We owe our existence and identity to them.

There is another angle to this period of paying obeisance to them. Us Hindus believe that after death, our souls are held up in suspended animation. The souls keep wandering from one body to another , after death, for countless number of years. There is always a constant yearning for salvation or mukti from the cycle of birth and death. Mukti is also known as Nirvana in Buddhist thought.

In the Indian philosophy, the aim of every individual should be to attain salvation.

So, in this fortnight, we pray to the almighty to liberate the souls of our ancestors and give them salvation.

It is thought by many Hindus that the souls of some of our ancestors live in the bodies of crows, dogs and other animals. By feeding these life forms, we are essentially respecting our long dead ancestors.

crow

 

 

Going to Gaya

My blog on Shraadh Paksh would be incomplete if I did not tell you about the town of Gaya.This is an ancient town in the Indian state of Bihar and is famously associated with the preachings of Gautam Buddha.

gaya

A  lot of Indians visit this town during this fortnight to pay their obeisance to  their ancestors. The local population benefits from such trips because it helps the local economy. Hotels have come up there and there is a good number of people in Gaya who specialise in taking you through the various rituals.

Buddhist Man Meditating

 

 

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

 

Great Destinations-Amazing Chhattisgarh

Places to see in IndiaTravelling to India?Put on your bucket list the amazing destination of Chhattisgarh,that promises you stories of love, music, history and unsurpassed beauty.

Put on your sneakers, roll up your backpacks dear travellers as I take you to the magical land of Turturiya.This curiously sounding place is located deep inside the Indian state of Chhattisgarh.Geologists tell us that this state is one of the oldest places in the entire world.The rock formations here are billions of years old, they have discovered.

But, before I take you through Turturiya, why don’t you enjoy some breathtaking shots of clouds that adorn the skies here?

Places to see in IndiaI took this photograph with my iPhone.

Places to see in IndiaSo, after I have managed to get hold of your attention, let me take you to Turturiya.

Legends say that Queen Sita, wife of Lord Rama spent her banishment here.Sita and Rama are one of the most important figures of Indian history. The epic of  Ramayana is centered around Lord Rama and Queen Sita. It is said that in order to be seen impartial to his subjects, Lord Rama, the king of Ayodhya, banished his wife, the virtuous Sita, to exile.She spent her difficult times in this place and later gave birth to Luv and Kush. Lord Rama and Sita lived their lives several thousands of years ago, so you can imagine the ancientness of this place.

The ashrama or the cottage where she lived is still around though the construction seems to be relatively modern.

The cottage is located near a stream called Sursuri Ganga. Numerous artefacts dating back to thousands of years can be found here and my fear is about their safety.

Places to see in India

Places to see in IndiaThis place is of great archaeological importance.Numerous sculptures belonging to Buddhist period can be found such as stupas etcetera.You can also find remains of bathing ghats and there is a figure of a man hunting a lion with sword in his hand! It is estimated that these artefacts must be more than 1000 years old.

But, what is bewitching is the stream that lends its its name to this place.Have a look at these pictures.

Places to see in IndiaPlaces to see in IndiaAs you can see , there is a lot of greenery in the background.

Places to see in DelhiCan you tell me who is this god?He or she has a child at the feet.The words in red in the background are from Ramcharitmanas , a later version of Ramayana.

The temple here at Turturiya has idols of Lord Hanuman and Lord Vishnu.The celestial carrier of Vishnu is Garuda. Here is him.

Places to see in IndiaAs you can make out, this image is pretty recent.The paint is quite fresh.

And, yes, you also have Lord Shiva and his carrier, Nandi here.

Places to see in IndiaWhile Lord Shiva’s image is pretty recent, Nandi is quite ancient.

And, if you are in a holy place, can you avoid the devotees?This group of men and women was quite enthusiastic when we joined them in raising slogans of Lord Hanuman.



IMG_2346

How to reach Turturiya?

It is just 108 kilometres from the state capital, Raipur.You will have to take a taxi to reach here.

Raipur is well connected to the Delhi and Mumbai airports .And, if you are a train lover, then, there are lots of them that will take you to Raipur from Delhi and Mumbai.

Accommodation; World class amenities at Raipur and Sirpur, which is just 24 kilometers from Turturiya.

That is it friends.I hope you liked my travel blog.Please write to me if you want to know more about travelling in India.

Thank you.

 

India’s hauntingly beautiful past and present;soldiers turned ironsmiths-What is the story?

The proud octagenarian, sporting a handlebar moustache, looked at me curiously as I made way to his cot, hoping to make some conversation with him about his community- the Gadia Lohars.and I wanted to know their history from him.

.India has a large number of wandering tribes but, unlike in most other countries, these tribes are still well connected with the society at large.

The Gadia Lohars inspire awe among people who know about their past.And very few people are aware about their mysterious past.

gadia

The Gadia Lohars are spread thinly in the north -western states of India like Rajasthan , Punjab and Haryana.They are basically ironsmiths , crafting iron implements like ploughs, chisels, spades  and other articles.A bullock driven carriage is an essential part of their community which also serves as their house.Modern dressing is alien to them and the Lohars still stick to their centuries old apparel.Essentially, the Lohars are still clinging to their past, they are frozen in time.

gadia1

The term Gadia means carriage and Lohar refers to ironsmith- ironsmiths that live in carriages.

Have the Lohars been ironsmiths for a long time? I don’t know.Popular legends say they they were soldiers in the army of Maharana Pratap and used to live around the fort of Chittorgarh.Having lost Chittorgarh to Akbar, the soldiers made a terrible promise to themselves- never would they sleep on beds and live in stone houses till the fort was won back by the Rajputs!In short, they vowed a life of a gypsy till Chittorgarh was won back.

The fort of Chittorgarh could never be taken back by successive Rajput kings and the vow has continued till today as technically, the fort is still not under the control of the Rajputs! Isn’t it an amazing story?

The Gadia Lohars are fiercely independent and unlike many other tribes like Bedias, have refused to neither beg nor get into vice.They keep to themselves and never go the wrong side of the law.

After India got independent, the first Prime Minister the country,Jawaharlal Nehru tried his utmost to rehabilitate the Gadia Lohars.After all, Chittorgarh was now part of independent India! However, they have continued with the vow that their ancestors made, centuries ago!

Thanks for stopping by and reading this post.

<a href=”http://www.blogadda.com” title=”Visit blogadda.com to discover Indian blogs” > <img src=”http://www.blogadda.com/images/blogadda.png” width=”80″ height=”15″ border=”0″ alt=”Visit blogadda.com to discover Indian blogs”/></a>

 

Amazing Destinations of India- Hauntingly BeautifulRoopkund, a lake of skeletons

Presenting to you a yet another hauntingly beautiful destination-Roopkund, a lake of skeletons

What is the mystery of Roopkund?

In the Indian State of Uttarakhand is an ancient lake that has been holding a mystery for the past 1300 years.The mystery I am referring to is one about skeletons in the lake, and there are more than 100 of them.

This lake is called Roopkund and is one of the offbeat destinations in India.

These skeletons were first discovered nearly 80 years ago by a Nanda Devi game reserve official and these lay immersed in a lake that was no more than 2 metres in depth.Subsequently, carbon dating tests revealed that the skeletons were more than 1300 years old.

Who do the skeletons belong to?

Hmm, interesting question but, lots of guesses and no definitive answers are available.One theory suggests that most the skeletons belong to people of Iranian descent and the remaining belonging to a shorter set of people.The second theory suggests that the group of skeletons belongs to Chitpavan brahmins of Goa.The locals however, believe that many years back, a king of an Indian kingdom with his wife was making a pilgrimage to some place in the Himalayas when he got lost.The bitter cold and blizzards probably killed the team of the king. Since, the king was accompanied by porters who were locals, so it is guessed that the shorter skeletons belong to them.

You may also read http://natgeotv.com/asia/riddles-of-the-dead/about. National Geographic Channel had investigated these skeletons in one of its programmes a few years back.

Also, you may be interested in this link as well http://www.thehindu.com/2004/06/29/stories/2004062905461200.htm where one of the leading newspapers of India, The Hindu reported a scientific investigation on the skeletons.

Whatever be the truth, Roopkund today has become an offbeat travel destination for Indian travellers.It is fast becoming a prominent centre of Uttarakhand tourism.There are some trekking groups that conduct treks to this destination and if you are interested in joining one of them, do contact me.I will be happy to help you out.

 

Thanks for dropping by and reading this post.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Amazing Story of India;Land of White Tiger

As the King rounded a curve of the road, his headlights captured a white tiger cub!The amazing story of the first wild tiger

Dear travellers to India, how about a hauntingly beautiful story of a part of India that has romance, adventure and a little bit of history rolled into one!

Welcome to Rewa, the land of the world’s first white tiger!

Tiger Yawning
A yawning tiger at Bandhavgarh

Nearly 75 years ago, when India was freshly independent of the British rule, we had kings who had the liberty to hunt around animals .There was no law that prohibited them from doing so.Today, yes, in India , we can not just hunt around and kill wild animals like the tiger and the deer but 75 years ago, we were still trying to find our feet.

There was a king, Raja Martand Singh of Rewa who had  already shot 131 tigers and was looking for more!I am talking of the year, 1951.He was on the look out for more game when he saw a white coloured tiger cub ! Overcome by curiosity, he asked his driver to pick it up and take it to his palace.The cub was later named as Mohan and the little animal has since brought fame and name to this small town of Central India.

The Legend of Tansen

But, Rewa is not just white tiger country. What I am going to share with you now is the story of a world class classical singer  being exchanged with a Mughal Emperor.. for peace !

Nearly 500 years ago, Rewa wasn’t the capital of its kings. That honour was reserved for Gohara, a town that even I have not been able  to discover so far.

One of the ancestors of Raja Martand Singh, was Raja Ramchandra. This Raja Ramchandra was the contemporary of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar.It so happened that the Mughal wanted to punish one of his enemies, Ghazi Khan.The Khan took shelter with the Raja. You see, us Indians are quick to shelter poor and unfortunate people.

When Akbar came to know of it, he sent his general , Asaf Khan to Ramchandra to demand that the Raja either give away Ghazi Khan or be prepared for war.The proud Raja replied he would much rather give away his life than turn out the Khan! Now, the situation became very serious as the Mughal Emperor’s forces surrounded the capital of the Raja.

To resolve this crisis, Asaf Khan came to the King and suggested that in order to avoid destruction of his kingdom, the Raja give over Tansen, a world renowned classical singer to Akbar. Tansen and the Raja were great friends and it was difficult for the Raja to accept this suggestion.Finally, Tansen had to leave his friend, the Raja, and go over to Akbar.And thus,the  siege of Akbar ended!

Who was Tansen?

Tansen is to Indian classical music as Shakespeare is to classical English.

He was a god gifted classical musician as well as instrumentalist and has had several legends woven around him.It is said that that when he used to sing Raag Deepak, the candles and lamps would light themselves up on their own!So intense was his singing!

His exact year of birth is not known, some say it is 1506 AD, while according to others, it is 1496. Similarly, his year of death is also uncertain-either it is 1585 or 1589 AD.

He lies buried in Gwalior, Central India.

Back to Rewa

It is only recently that the local authorities have started taking interest in developing Rewa as a major tourist destination.Much of the initiative has been taken by the royal family of Rewa. Maharaja Pushpendra Singh has converted the palace into an attractive tourist resort .You can see several ancient objects, weapons etc in the palace turned hotel.You can also see the stuffed white tiger, Mohan inside the resort!

And Bandhavgarh- a stone’s throw from Rewa

With the largest density of tigers , Bandhavgarh National Park is a must on the itinerary of the India traveller.The Park boasts of more than 32 kinds of mammals, 250 species of birds and a very big range of butterflies.

Cheetal Deer (1)
Caught on the camera- a cautious Cheetal

It also houses a 2000 year old fort and some really ancient rock art in the Brahmi script.You are more likely to spot a tiger here than anywhere else in the world!

Sirmaur, the backyard of Rewa

While at Rewa, don’t forget to head to the picturesque valley of Sirmaur, which is nearly 40 kilometres away.

Lush jungles and ancient caves housing thousands of years old rock art make the place romantic and leave your nerves tingling!

I was not aware of this place  till my friend, Sarvesh Soni started drawing the world’s attention to this beautiful place  through his Facebook page.I would say he is the white tiger of Sirmaur as he and his team have been painstakingly promoting this remote area non stop.

Rewa2
Nature at its best!

 

Hats off to him!Incredible India has lots of breathtaking destinations to offer and this one is one of them.

Rewa3
Ancient Rock Art in Sirmaur- pic credit;Sarvesh Soni

And for the nature buffs, Sirmaur offers the Aha! moments, free of cost!

All these pictures have been shared by my young friend, Sarvesh Soni.

Rewa1
Alha Ghat-Sirmaur

How to reach Rewa?

Rewa can only be reached through rail and road.

It is quite close to the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, so a road trip to Rewa is quite convenient. And it is also quite close to Khajuraho. So, Khajuraho, Rewa, Bandhavgarh and Varanasi make a great travel circuit!

Else, if you plan to take a train trip to the city, you can refer to this site;

This is a Government of India Railways website and is really helpful.
Places to stay in Rewa 
Now, that we have a string of holidays in the third week of January, Rewa is a good weekend getaway for us.
I would strongly suggest  http://www.maharajrewa.com/default.asp?id=rewa_rajvilas as your number 1 preference as this hotel is the official property of the Maharaja of Rewa.So, you would get to know much more about Rewa and its surrounding places, history , forests etc while staying here.
Else, you can also check www.tripadvisor.com for its recommendations.
 If you have trouble finding the right place to stay in, please contact me.I have strong family links in Rewa so I will be able to help you.
Thank you, my friends for dropping by and reading this post.
Do let me know, if I have been able to help you out with answers to your questions ?

Chandni Chowk- A town square colored by blood

Delhi, the capital of India , has had a gory past but quite a lively present. But, today as the world mourns #ParisAttacks , I would like to share some grisly attacks on Delhi in the past.

When you visit India, the first place that you land up in India is Delhi but your India travel plans are incomplete without Chandni Chowk.

The bustling malls, the Metro shuttle service, the young that throng the public places of Delhi and the wide, open avenues that house the various foreign embassies don’t give a clue at all if the murder and mayhem that the city has witnessed.

The famous town square of the Old Delhi also called as Chandni Chowk is one of the most bustling places in the city. Cloth merchants jostle for space with shops selling sweets and old gramophones.

When the weather is more favorable, one can see European and American travellers exploring this place.

But do you know, this place is witness to some of the most horrific massacres of the world?

The Gurudwara Sisganj (picture below) was the site where one of the Gurus of Sikhs and Hindus was tortured to death by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb

Close by, there is a fountain, that supposedly was the site where three of his followers were also tortured to death for refusing to accept Islam.

And, sitting cheek by jowl, with the Gurudwara is a mosque, Sunehari Masjid. Way back in the 1700s, an Iranian invader Nadir Shah  had ransacked Delhi and sitting inside this mosque had given orders for a general massacre of its citizens.

Reportedly, more than 30,000 people had been murdered!

Sometimes I wonder, what makes people murder each other? I get no answers.

Meanwhile, life goes on.

Top Picture; Sunehri Masjid

Bottom Picture; Gurudwara Sisganj

swayamt.wordpress.com
Sunehri Masjid, Chandni Chowk

The Sunehri Masjid (Golden Mosque) was constructed by Roshan-ud-Dawla Zafar Khan in the year 1721.It is so named because of its golden coloured domes.History tells us that the invader, Nader Shah had camped himself in this mosque and given orders for the general massacre of the people of Delhi.The killings lasted the entire day.Not many visitors are aware of the grisly past of this mosque.

This mosque was constructed during the reign of the Mughal Emperor, Mohammad Shah “Rangila”. The epithet “Rangila” refers to the colourful life of the lecherous king.

In his book on Nader Shah, noted British author Michael Axworthy describes the murderous event as such;  “On the morning of 22 March, Nader mounted his horse and rode from the palace to the Roshan-od-Dowala mosque (the former name of Sunehri Masjid). As he arrived there with his men about him, some people threw stones from balconies and windows around the mosque, and a shot was fired, killing an officer beside him. He had already made up his mind, but this final insult may have added fury to Nader’s frustration. He went to the roof of the mosque and stood by the golden domes, looking out over the houses, shops and roof of the Chandni Chowk district. He ordered that no one should be left alive in any part where any of his soldiers had been killed, and then drew his sword as a signal that the massacre should begin.”

This mosque was repaired by the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar.By the way, celebrated British author cum historian William Dalrymple has written an interesting book on the Last Mughal.

swayamt.wordpress.com
Gurudwara Sisganj

Now we come to Gurudwara Sisganj.

Guru Tegh Bahadur, was one of the last Gurus of the Sikhs. He resisted the cruel acts of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb , who had him imprisoned and brought before the Emperor in Red Fort, Delhi.

The Emperor demanded that the Guru embrace Islam but, the Guru flatly refused.For this refusal, he along with his three disciples was sentenced to death.One of his followers, Bhai Mati Das was sawn alive, the second and the third ones were boiled in hot oil and set on fire, respectively.The Guru was beheaded on the orders of the Emperor.

Three centuries later, as you soak in the exuberance and the energy of Chandni Chowk, it would be impossible for you to accept the savage history of this place.

You may also like to read;  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhai_Mati_Das

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunehri_Masjid_(Red_Fort)

Narak Chaudas-India’s Guy Falkes Day

As the moon wanes further today on its way to Amavasya -or the moonless night- I am struck with the thought of sharing the hauntingly beautiful story of Narakasur, a gentle man who turned to evil and had later to be killed by Lord Krishna.This is also the story of the emancipation of women.This post is for people interested in travelling to India or knowing about India’s culture, history and beliefs.Your India travel will be incomplete if I did not share with you this hauntingly beautiful story about India.

Read on, fellow traveller to India and let me know how you find this post.

Varaah and Bhudevi

Thousands of years ago, rather millions of years ago, the Earth was submerged under a huge mass of water and its denizens were crying for deliverance.Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Varaah and rescued Bhudevi or Mother Earth from her distress. Varaah is another name of shookar or wild boar.

Lord Vishnu lifts up Bhudevi
Lord Vishnu lifts up Bhudevi

You see, Indians believe in the concept of avataar wherein Lord Vishnu comes down to Earth from his celestial resting place, in various forms, to deliver  humanity from the mess it gets into.It is entirely possible that several millions of years ago, men and women had caused severe environmental degradation that led to huge floods.

A gentle son turns into a demon!

The couple, Varaah and Bhudevi later had a son whom they loved and was known the world over as Naraka. He was a virtuous young man, ever eager to help the needy. He had been granted a boon by Lord Vishnu that till the time Naraka did not wield any weapon, he would not die.So, the worried parents always ensured that Naraka stayed away from weapons and missiles of any form.

But, that was not to be! There lived a demon called Banasura and he was determined that Naraka be turned into another one! So, he plotted! And succeeded too!

It so happened that Banasura asked two of his men to disguise themselves as a cow and a Brahmin. The “cow” was to be stolen by another thug and the “Brahmin” was to approach the young Naraka for help.The plan succeeded and the young man was convinced to take up arms, which he did! In ancient as well as modern India, stealing a cow is considered an unpardonable crime.

There was no going back for the young Naraka from there..he frequently started taking interest in quarrels and later ,wars.Since, he was borne of a mighty avataar of Vishnu, Naraka had immense strength and power.

As he grew in strength, he could not resist himself from carrying off the daughter and sisters of the kings.Soon , he had a harem of more than 18000 young women. Naraka quickly earned the appendage. “asura” or demon. Now, Naraka was Narakasura.

One day, Narakasura spotted Aditi, the mother of the Devas. She was wearing a pair of glorious ear rings which the demon longed for. She was assaulted by the demon and relieved of her precious jewels.

Indra, the Lord of Devas , was justly enraged but, he could do little as Narakasura was supremely strong! Indra, then decided to approach Lord Krishna who was living at that time in Dwarka.

The Lord was resting with Satyabhama when Indra visited them and upon hearing the complaint, decided to attack and slay Narakasura. Satyabhama, his wife, was irritated on hearing of her husband’s plans. So, Lord Krishna decided to placate her by taking her along in his campaign.

250px-Krishna_Narakasura
Courtesy Metropolitan Museum; the two armies meet!

They alighted Garuda, the celestial carrier of the Lord and proceeded to Pragjyotishpur, the present day State of Assam, North East India.

Now, the fort of Naraka was no ordinary fort- it was heavily guarded by another demon , Mura with his ten sons. Sons and their father used to live in a river that encircled the fort! But, he was no match for Lord Krishna who quickly slew them .

Now, it was a straight forward fight between the Lord and the wayward Naraka.

However, Naraka had been given a boon that only his mother could kill him and Satyabhama was the avatar of Bhudevi, his mother! Lord Krishna knew this so he nudged forward his wife, Satyabhama to fight Narakasura.

In the fight that ensued, Narakasura was killed and Pragjyotishpur was freed from the clutches of the tyrant As Naraka lay dying, he prayed to his mother to grant him a boon-his death should be celebrated  with colourful lights and crackers!The boon was granted.So, on this day, Indians celebrate with gusto this event by lighting up their houses and bursting crackers.

042

All the prisoners were freed and so were the unfortunate 18,000 women who had been put into the harem of the rapacious Narakasura.

The misery of the ladies

The ladies had a common problem- where will all they go now that even their dear and near ones had forsaken them?Kidnap and imprisonment by Narakasura had led to their abandonment by their separated husbands, brothers and parents! This problem exists even now in India- women who have been wronged my molesters and rapists are quickly disowned by their society.

Lord Krishna quickly understood this problem and had no answer to this except this; he decided to marry all the 18, 000 ladies and give respectability to the unfortunate ladies! This was a revolutionary step in those times as very few people have the courage to follow their heart. We all talk about the bad things in the society but do we have the courage to change the existing situation?That is why, Krishna is celebrated the world over as the saviour.

Ladies rescued from the prisons of the demon by Lord Krishna
Ladies rescued from the prisons of the demon by Lord Krishna

Today, the day of Naraka Chaudas celebrates that extreme event of delivering the world from the vices of evil. Effigies of the demon are put on fire in parts of India amid festivities. If you are in Goa  today, join in the celebrations. Goa is not just sun, surf or sand; it is much more. It is like the Guy Falkes day celebrated in some West European and North American countries like the United States, Canada, Britain  etc.

The ear rings being to Aditi
The ear rings being handed over  to Aditi

Tomorrow is Diwali but that is another story waiting to be told to my blogger friends!

Amazing Destination in India- Chhattisgarh

Ever wondered which is the most beautiful travel destination in the world?Welcome to Chhattisgarh!

More than a billion years ago, Earth shivered and stretched herself as if waking up from a deep slumber.

Displaying photo 1.JPG
                    Yoga at Chitrakote Falls…The River Indrawati in her glory..

Her bosom heaved up and down and from within her womb, a massive volume of lava erupted upwards.Her convulsions left deep scars upon her body, the lava gradually cooled off and thus, the area that we know as Chhattisgarh, was born.Geologists call her a part of Gondwanaland.But, what is in a name, you might wonder.And I agree with you .The ancient events unleashed upon the body of Mother Earth led to an unprecedented vista of beauty and wildlife.And, thus, was born the hauntingly beautiful Indian state of Chhattisgarh!

Displaying photo 3.JPG
A much calmer Indrawati, downstream

Which way you look at it, the defining colour of Chhattisgarh is GREEN and the myriad shades that go with this colour.It is an offbeat destination for most of us, nevertheless.

Jungles standing for more than a million years

So, while you lusted after the snow washed landscapes of Alaska and the Rockies, or pined for a vacation in the South of France or planned your itineraries of the velds of South Africa and Botswana, Chhattisgarh revelled in her own beauty but, readying herself with out of the world hospitality that India is known about.

Bewitching-Teerathrajgarh Falls, South Chhatttisgarh

Thanks for taking time off to read my two pence on the Playground of Gods-Chhattisgarh!

The Story of Rama and the Pandavas

One of the greatest humans that the world has seen is Lord Rama. Incarnate of Lord Vishnu-he the preserver in the Trinity- Lord Rama inherited the kingdom of Kosal from his father, Dashrath after vanquishing Ravan.Lord Rama upon his retirement divided his kingdom between his two brothers, Luv and Kush.The latter got South (Dakshin) Kosal as his inheritance and established his capital at Kushasthale , somewhere near Malhar in the Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh.So, you see, Chhattisgarh as a political unit has been there for more than 5000 years .Eventually, the Dakshin Kosal kingdom dissipated -as all kingdoms do- because of the rising power of Magadh in Bihar.

Aha, I just remembered the story of Jarasandha.This fellow was blessed by a goddess that his death would come only when another man would tear him apart.So, as fate would have it, he was torn asunder by Bhimsena, the Pandava who possessed the powers of 18,000 elephants.When Jarasandha died, 36 or Chhattis of his clanmen left the kingdom and settled in the dense forests of Chhattisgarh.Garh was the corrupt form of Griha or House, hence, Chhattisgarh.

Well, Lord Rama had a younger brother, Lakshman, who was the incarnation of Sheshnag, or the celestial snake who bears the burden of Earth.Roughly, 1500 years ago, Queen Vasata decided to construct a temple in memory of her husband, Harshagupta at Sirpur, near the Mahanadi river.The temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu earlier but, later , it came to be known as Lakshman temple by the local folks.

O Lord, spare us from your upheaval!

Could it be that, the locals thought pleasing Lord Sheshnag would be better to deliver them from frequent earthquakes in this region?Remember, Sheshnag and Lakshman are one and the same!

 Though, this temple is made of brick, one can not but admire the craftsmanship which is normally associated with stone.Have a look..
 Most of the ancient temples in India composed of brick are no more.They have either decayed or have been destroyed by the Muslim invading armies.So, this temple is special.

At Sirpur, Chhattisgarh
The windows seem to be made of wood

I love you, Devadasi Sutunuka, I love you!

He was a sculptor, she a court dancer. Intoxicated in love, they used to find solace in a secluded cave in the Ramgiri hills.

Smitten by love, he wrote on the walls; “Roopdaksh Devdin is enamoured by Devdasi Sutunuka.”

Who is a Devadasi?

Devadasi , meaning, maid of God, is a concept that now belongs to the past.Devadasis were young, unmarried girls who devoted their lives to the Lord and lived in the temple premises.They never married but, some of them wanted to break away from their lives. Sutanaka was probably onse such devadasi.

Haunting, is.nt it? The graffiti has survived and has inspired countless budding poets write prose in the adjoining caves. This happened more than 2000 years ago.The language used was Prakrit as it was the dialect among the common folk.

 Many centuries later, a weary poet arrives in one of those caves and his muse takes over.Inspired by the swirling clouds that hover above the hills nearby, he pens down Meghadootam, an epic that tells us about the pining that a lover feels for his beloved and begs the clouds to convey his message to her! The poet- Kalidasa, one of the greatest poets that the world has seen. Kalidasa was among the nine eminent men in the court of one of the greatest Indian Emperors, Chandragupta Vikramaditya.His tale is no less interesting!
It is said that Kalidasa was an illiterate man in his youth.His parents married him off to an unsuspecting wise and learned lady.One day, the lady discovered her husband’s deficiencies and scolded him.Insulted, Kalidasa vowed to himself to more than match up to his vastly educated wife.
He made himself into a world famous poet, ultimately!

This happened nearly 2000 years back !!!

 Ramgiri is in the Surguja district of Chhattisgarh.

Displaying photo 4.JPG
Could these clouds have inspired Kalidasa?
Folks, our journey to Chhattisgarh has just started and there is more stuff to come, so be patient.In times to come, I shall reveal more stories to you about this land and its people.

Reaching Chhattisgarh is easy, just log on to www.tourism.cg.gov.in or write an email to visitcg@gmail.com 

If you are a Twitter nerd, drop a tweet @misra_ias or @GoChhattisgarh or to me @swayamt

You may write directly to me at swayamt@gmail.com and I will be happy to connect you with the right people.

How to reach ;. Just book a flight from Delhi or Mumbai to Raipur and you are there.However, I would advise the compulsive traveller to take a train ride.The train takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes of the world, I assure you.

So, folks, how do you find the first instalment of my Chhattisgarh series? Do let me know, please.

Thank you.

Top Amazing Destinations in India- The Pink City of Jaipur

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

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

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

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

A  Town Planner’s Delight

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

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

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

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

The King who gazed at Stars

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

220px-1_Maharaja_Sawai_Jai_Singh_II_ca_1725_Jaipur._British_museum

Trust- the second name of Jaipur

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

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

Have a sweet tooth ?

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

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

Why was Jaipur painted pink?

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

Pink City

Welcome to the Palace

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

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

A Queen as a cover girl

Gayatri Devi

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

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

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

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

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

Do you want to see her and hear her speak?

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

Laxmi Narayan Temple

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

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

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

800px-Birla_Temple_in_Jaipur (1)

The Prince of Wales Museum

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

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

Jaipur Museum

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

A fortess haunted…Jaigarh

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

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

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

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

Jaigarh

And finally, Amber!

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

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

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

Sheesh Mahal

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

How to reach Jaipur

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

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

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

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

The Lovable God Who Rides a Mouse

Yesterday, millions of Indians bid a “bye” to their most loved and jovial god,Ganesha.Here is the hauntingly beautiful story of the Elephant God!

The Elephant God who rides a mouse!

Ganesha, the chief protagonist in many Indian young teen and kid TV  animated shows is a friend, confidante, and many things to many people.He is also the Commander in Chief of the army of Lord Shiva, the destroyer in the Indian concept of the Trinity.He  helps people in achieving their mundane goals by removing the hurdles, is shown to be riding a tiny mouse and is fond of laddus which are basically sweets shaped in a spherical form.

Why do you think, he rides a mouse?answersplease?

Ganesha has an elephant trunk, has just one tusk and wields an axe as his weapon. Flanked by his two consorts, Riddhi and Siddhi,He is given the pride of place in any household. he is the protector of the household.

He has an elder brother, Kartikeya and his mother’s name is Parvati.Even though, he is one of the junior most gods in the Indian pantheon , he is given primacy when invoking the blessings and good wishes of all the gods.His is the name to be invoked first while invoking and inviting all the gods .

Don’t you think he has a unique body structure? He has a trunk and is pot bellied.Why? He has huge ears also.Indians believe, the trunk represents His  strong sense of intuition which can be developed by long hours and days of practice.While, one can be superiorly endowed with intelligence, equally important is to have a nose for things not apparent.His big ears convey the message that one should be ever attentive to things happening around.And, his pot belly tells us to keep secrets of friends to ourselves and never reveal them to anybody.So, basically, Ganesha instructs us how to be a wise individual in the modern world.

Birth of Ganesha

Ganesha was never in the form he is seen today in. He was born as a normal looking kid to his parents. Fierecely obedient to his mother, Goddess Parvati, one day he was ordered by his mother to stand guard while she took her daily shower and not let any one enter the house. The ever obedient Ganesha took his position at a vantage point, reminding himself of his duty toward his mother.

Sometime later, his father , Lord Shiva came to the house and asked his son to open the door.Ganesha, replied to his father saying he had been forbidden by his mother to not let anyone enter the house.The father tried to reason with but, the obedient son refused to relent. This went on a for a few hours and all this enraged Lord Shiva.He drew out his weapon and cut off the head of his son!

Upon hearing the commotion, Goddess Parvati came out of the house and was horrified to see the dismembered body of her son.Of course, she was inconsolable and wanted her son back from death.Lord Shiva, realising the enormity of the situation then decided to bring relief to the mother of Ganesha- he transplanted the head of a child elephant to the torso of Ganesha and this how the child came back to life! Interesting story, isn’t it?

Ganesha Chaturthi

Every year, in the month of Bhadrapad, millions of Indians escort Lord Ganesha to their homes and seek his blessings.The day, he is installed in the house is termed Ganesh Chaturthi.For the next 10 days, the Lord is visited upon by people in good numbers and his blessings sought after. On the tenth day of his arrival, he is escorted by the faithful to a water body and his idol immersed in it. This event of immersion is called Ganpati Visarjan. Ganpati is another name of Lord Ganesh .

ganesh-chaturthi-festival-in-india-2015
Ganesh Chaturthi procession in Mumbai (image courtesy-Internet)

The Lord is again invited to Indian households on Diwali or Deepawali , the festival of lights.

The appeal of Lord Ganesha runs across the world. He is worshipped in countries like Indonesia, Japan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and many other countries of East Asia.

How, do you like this blog post, friends? I would like to get your feedback either on this post itself or you may write to me at swayamt@gmail.com

Haunted places- Asirgarh,home of a 5,000 year old warrior

Welcome to Asirgarh, one of the most haunted places in India. This article is about the haunted history of Ashwatthama, a warrior who is more than 5,000 years old.

You won’t want to bump into a man who has survived a 5000-year-old war and roams around with a wound dripping in blood, isn’t it?Neither me, of course!

Some beautiful pictures of Asirgarh fort are :

Asirgarh- one of the most haunted places in India

 

But, what I am going to tell you is a hauntingly beautiful tale that is so bizarre that the first thing that you are going to do is share this post with your best friend with an amusing comment!

India is a land of great contrasts.We have launched space missions, produced some of the brightest engineers, doctor, and managers the world has seen but, we also live with haunted stories that are downright unbelievable.

The Great War

 

This is the haunting story of Ashwatthama-one of the greatest warriors in the Great War, also known as Mahabharata.

Shrouded in the mists of time, the Great War was fought between two sets of warring cousins, the Kauravas, and Pandavas, on the fields of Kurukshetra, a place near Delhi.The Pandavas were five but the Kauravas were 100 in number and the size of the combined armies of the two parties was in millions. At stake was the kingdom of India.

The Pandavas were five in number and the Kauravas were 100.

The size of the combined armies of the two parties was in millions.

At stake was the kingdom of India.

Bhishma and Krishna

 

The Pandavas were guided by Shri Krishna, one of the greatest philosophers and leaders that the world and India have ever seen.the Kauravas were led by the venerable Bhishma Pitamah and Guru Dronacharya.

On the other hand, the Kauravas were led by the venerable Bhishma Pitamah and Guru Dronacharya.

Bhishma was the great-grandfather of both the warring cousins and having abdicated the throne because of a promise to his stepmother, was looked up by his family as the moral guiding force.

Dronacharya was the Guru to the cousins and possessed vast skills in military tactics and leadership.

As it turned out, both these two gentlemen joined the Kauravas while Pandavas were led by Shri Krishna.

Ashwatthama

 

Guru Dronacharya had a son whose name was Ashwatthama.Like his father, Ashwatthama too was a great warrior and had joined his father’s side in the war.

Interestingly, there was another Ashwatthama which participated in the Great War but, it was an elephant!

Well, the war started and the Kauravas were enjoying a strong edge in the war.It was difficult for the Pandavas to get an upper hand.

Aseergarh
The Fort of Aseergarh is one of the most haunted places in India. Credits- Wiki

As the war carried on, it became increasingly evident to Shri Krishna that the commander of the Kauravas, Drona had to be finished.But, Drona was a tough nut to crack.So, Krishna devised a plan.He got Bhimsen, one of the Pandavas to finish the elephant, Ashwatthama.

Lie or Truth?

 

Bhima had the power of ten thousand elephants!Once this was done, Krishna asked Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava to declare Ashwatthama as dead. As Yudhishthira proclaimed the death of Ashwaththama, the Pandavas raised the din of their trumpets to unimaginable levels.The elder Pandava also added a question to his proclamation-Man or Elephant?Drona could only hear the first part of the proclamation, the added question was lost in the din.

Yudhishthira was the epitome of truth and everyone in the family trusted his sense of ethics.So, when Drona heard the first part of Yudhi’s proclamation, he was filled with grief- his son, Ashwatthama was dead! He laid down his arms and was immediately put to death by the Pandavas.

Haunted Places

When Ashwatthama heard this tragic news, he was filled with rage and went on a murder spree, killing all the children of the Pandavas in the dead of the night.The children were all infants and quite obviously, the Pandavas were overcome with grief.

Krishna, thoroughly angered with this behavior of Ashwatthama cursed him to an unending life of pain and misery, a life where no one will give him relief and a life of living dead, a specter. Ashwatthama had a gem on his forehead that was stripped off by Krishna, leaving a perpetual wound with blood oozing out!

This war happened around 5000 years back!

Ashwaththama is back?

 

Asirgarh is a quaint little place nearly in Central India and is prominent for its 1000-year-old fort.It is deserted and is worn out, with weeds and jungles eating away the ancient doors and walls.

One thousand years back,  Asirgarh was of strategic importance as it connected the northern and southern parts of India through a narrow pass.

Also Read- Delhi Ghost Tour of Mehrauli

Nobody lives here and not a soul can be seen here .Except, for a gaunt man, with a flowing beard and tattered clothes.He has an open wound on his forehead and is sometimes accosting unsuspecting villagers around the fort for turmeric and mustard oil to dress up his wound.

In 1912, Swami Vasudevanad Saraswathi, in his autobiography, admitted meeting a person who introduced himself as Ashwaththama.

His gait was different from that of a normal person so the Swami asked him, who are you?

The stranger replied, “I am Ashwaththama and I belong to a different time zone from yours”.

Who could he be?The legendary fighter of the Great War?Or an impostor?

There are many such hauntingly beautiful stories and it is tantalizing to believe all of them because of the mystery involved.If you asked me, I would neither believe nor disbelieve them. In fact, there are several haunted places like Asirgarh throughout the country.

In fact, there are several haunted places like Asirgarh throughout the country. One such place is the fort of Bhangarh in Rajasthan.

Many such haunted places are associated with unnatural deaths and violent events that had happened many many years ago.

Thanks for reading this article.

References- 1.Legends

2.Also read- http://www.quora.com/Has-Ashwatthama-been-spotted-by-anyone

Picture credits-Internet

Want to meet a Maharaja?

One of the privileges of being a blogger is meeting interesting people!

And, I did meet a Maharaja!He is not a typical Maharaja that you normally see in the various coffee table books.This one is a good 25 year old, dressed as normally as you and me and enjoys good life.He speaks earnestly and in a friendly manner and you cannot help but reaching out and saying, what is you mobile number, mate! That!

I met him when, I was travelling to Chhattisgarh, one of the states of India.I have blogged a couple of times on Chhattisgarh and this is the third post that I am putting up on this state.Hope, you guys have been enjoying these posts!

So, here he was with his family and welcoming me along with my gang to his family mansion located in Kanker. Kanker is on way to Dantewada from Raipur and is located thick in the ancient jungles of Chhattisgarh. Reaching Kanker is easy as the roads in Chhattisgarh are well laid.

Hauntingly Beautiful India

He owns a lovely  palace that he now lets out for travellers wanting to travel to the south of Chhattisgarh and, he was gracious enough to show us around !

Ashwani’s family is quite ancient , it claims to be at least 900 years old.He even showed documents to prove this claim, which is not surprising because a lot of royal families in India are that old.

There was a surprise in store for us. We met Henry, the resident tiger.

Mr. Henry lived more than 70 years ago and had a jolly time having humans as its lunch and dinner before Ashwani’s father gunned him down.In short,Henry was a maneater tiger! 

India had more than 100,000 tigers in the nineteenth century but most of them were killed by the Britishers and the Maharajas of the time. Some tigers turned into maneaters before being shot dead by hunters. And some of the maneater tigers had interesting names , like Henry and Bachelor! 

Bachelor was the famous maneater of Kumaon and he was killed by the famous hunter, Jim Corbett. 

Do you want to have a look at how the palace of a Maharaja looks like?

 This is the sitting room of the palace.Heads of game prominently displayed on the walls!

 It is illegal to hunt wild animals  today but, nearly 60 years back, it was perfectly ok to hunt them down  Reckless hunting of animals, especially, of tigers has led to a severe decline of the tiger population. Today, in Chhattisgarh, you will find a healthy population of bisons, leopards, deer and bears.

The palace turned hotel has well appointed rooms, have a look!

And, believe you me , you would be treated like a Maharaja should you stay here ! 

 And, if you are wondering how the outside facade of the palace turned hotel is, here is the pic;

So, there you are; this place is a heady combination of wild life, royalty and old world hospitality.

Amazing isn’t it?Should you want to know more about the Kanker palace, do let me know, I am available at swayamt@gmail.com. 

Do you want to meet the Maharajah directly? Write to him at kankerpalaceheritage@gmail.com

Best way to reach Kanker is take a flight to Raipur from Delhi and Mumbai and take a road trip to Kanker. The trip is of 200 kilometres but you won’t feel tired. 

Best time of the year to travel is from October to February. 

Happy to help you ;)))

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.

An 800 year long story!Finished by Sher Singh

An 800 year long story;A jailbreak that led to the Kings’ return

Prithviraj Chauhan– the King of Delhi and Ajmer
                         Prithviraj Chauhan– the King of Delhi and Ajmer

Ok folks, let me admit one thing;I am not a historian!I am just a teller of tales, I glean what I have heard, read or seen and then regurgitate all that in a manner that is open to all kinds of interpretation.

Delhi is often called an unfaithful bride. It has never wed any one single dynasty, figuratively speaking.What I mean to say is the Capital of India , Delhi has had several suitors and the affair with each of them lasted not more than a 100 years. !

In the 12 th century, Delhi came under the control of the Chauhans, though it is a debatable point.

It is said that King Anangpal Tomar bequeathed his kingdom of Delhi to his grandson, Prithviraj, who was then ruling Ajmer, a town in present day Rajasthan. Ajmer is a mere 100 kilometres away from Jaipur, the capital of present day Rajasthan.

For travellers coming to India, Jaipur holds an important position as a city for tourism.Ajmer, which is west of Jaipur , is the gateway to the paths of two important cities, Udaipur and Jodhpur.

Anangpal had grown old and did not have any sons.The elder son used to be the natural heir in the ancient days of Indian nobility.So, Anangpal was naturally worried about the fate of Delhi!

One day, his minister suggested to the king , why does’nt he adopt his grandson, Prithviraj and give him the responsibilities of Delhi?It was an attractive idea and Prithviraj had all the qualities to manage another kingdom.He was young, brave and ambitious, he came from the Chauhan dynasty and was of royal blood.Anangpal was a Tomar, though.

Tomars are Rajputs and trace their lineage from Lord Rama, the Hero of Ramayana and considered by millions of Indians as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.The Chauhans, like Tomars too, trace their lineage from the same origin.

In due course, Prithviraj ascended the throne of Delhi and his grandfather retired to the forests and became a hermit.

By the close of the 12th century, India had become a favourite target for the Mongols and the Turks for invasions.The first Muslim invasion  had happened in the 8th century A.D.

Delhi was ripe for another invasion now and it happened in the year 1191 AD.The aggressor was Mohammed Ghori and he was from Afghanistan.

The two armies of Chauhan and Ghori met at Tarain , near Delhi and the aggressor was roundly defeated by the young Prithviraj and even captured. Ghori was later released by the large hearted Prithviraj.

Ghori never digested this defeat and the next year, he again attacked India.Tarain was witness to another battle but this time, Prithviraj was defeated , captured and transported to Ghur in Afghanistan as a war prisoner.

Popular legends say that at Ghur, Prithviraj was blinded by his foe and subjected to numerous insults.But, Prithviraj was endowed with a special skill that enabled him to shoot down a target on just hearing a sound from it.He need’nt see the target but the sound was enough.One fine day, the prisoner shot down an unsuspecting Ghori with his arrow , guided by the sound of Ghori’s speech.

To avoid a painful death, it is said that Prithviraj then stabbed himself to death.He is said to have been buried at the spot by the angry courtiers of Ghori .This event happened nearly 800 years back.

Cut to 2004

A jailbreak happens in Delhi and a convict, Sher Singh Rana escapes in disguise to Afghanistan.

Nothing extraordinary, except that Sher Singh was jailed on charges of killing a lawmaker or a Member of Parliament.The lawmaker was a lady and in her younger years was a bandit.

She had shot to fame because she had gunned down a few Rajputs-Sher Singh was a Rajput too- angered by their torture and humiliation of her.She had served her prison term and was now a lawmaker but Sher Singh was filled with revenge.

One fine day, he got his chance and the lady lawmaker fell to his bullets.Singh surrendered to the police and was imprisoned.

He got his chance to escape the prison one fine day and left for Afghanistan on a mission.This mission was hidden deep down his bosom and he would never ever reveal what his mission was-not to his family, not to his friends!

What followed was truly a story out of the countless fiction books! He went to Afghanistan, located the grave of Prithviraj Chauhan, exhumed the bones of the long dead king and came back to India with those remains!

He wanted to give a dignified a cremation to his childhood hero, the King of Delhi and Ajmer and there was nothing that he would not do to achieve his goal. Sher Singh wanted to finish the unfinished story of 800 years!

When he came back to India, he made his way to his ancestral village in the State of Uttar Pradesh and with great courtesy, gave the King a solemn cremation, as per Hindu rites.

The King had returned to India after 800 years!

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

Friday Feature- Just Pictures

So, here we go checking out the sights and sounds of Delhi.

 Start off with a kulladh of lassi. Yummy!
 Temptation looms large! And we are falling for it
 Don’t disturb us please
 The grain for pigeons

 Cheek and jowl

 The old yieldeth to the new

 Sadar Bazar: everything so inexpensive

 The humble Indian pyaoo

 Everything sells: in Khari Baoli

 Happy faces

 Beautiful!!!!

 Time for a cuppa

Hauntingly Beautiful India Red Fort in Delhi-Part 2:Murder, he ordered! 

Bathrooms are for bathing and not for ordering executions, is’nt it?

You are seeing a hamam , a mediavel era bathroom within the Red Fort in Delhi. Travelers to Delhi can’t miss the Red Fort but, what they do miss is the ghastly and at times, sensuous stories about hamams.


The Red Fort was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in the middle of the 17th century. He is also credited with the construction of Taj Mahal in Agra.

He was succeeded by his son Aurangzeb who came to power after killing and driving away his brothers. This gentleman imprisoned his father, Shahjehan away in Agra so he could rule in peace , from Delhi.

Coming back to this hamam- the Emperor did more than just take a bath here: he consulted his aides on matters of administration and military campaigns.

And he also gave orders for execution of his rivals from the hamam. It was a well guarded place and very few trusted people could come inside.

It was a rainy day in July, 1657,that the Emperor, semi clad in his bathing robes and pouring perfumed water over his body, took a decision- Finish Dara! Dara was his eldest brother and had lost out in the bitter battle of succession to the throne.

Such, were the uses of this hamam that you see above.

The Sensuous Affairs 

Let’s now move to the more sensuous happenings of another hamam.

Back in the 1200s , the then Delhi Sultan, who was a successor to Iltutmish, was a licentious guy.

He used to make his harem women compete with each other for his affections: who would share the royal bed with him for the next few days!

Beautiful women, dressed to the minimum and each holding a lighted candle, used to cavort in the heavily perfumed waters of his harem. Those whose candles remained lighted after the orgies were over, were declared the winners and the Royal Bed was theirs!


Amazing lives these hedonistic guys led, is’nt it?

No trace of this particular hamam is left today. It was most probably located in the southern part of Delhi, near Humayun,s Tomb.There used to be a village called Kilokri or Kilokhri near the river Yamuna that housed that hamam. Not much is known of the history Kilokri or Kilokhri .

What do you think of this post, friends? Was it enjoyable? Can it be further improved?

My Liebster Award

My Liebster Award!

They say that there is no compliment like a recommendation. So thank you Prerna for nominating me for this prestigious award, the Liebster Award.  Prerna’s blog, www.maofallblogs.com is a delightfully wonderful account of a young momma and her journey as a  mother, wife, but very importantly, as an individual.

After being nominated for the award I am sharing the rules of the award;

Thank the nominating blogger

Display the award in a blog entry

List the award guidelines so your nominees will know what to do

Answer questions from the nominating blogger

Nominate your blogger friends for the award

Give your nominees questions to answer

The award is intended to help new bloggers with fewer than 200 followers to get the attention they deserve.

My answers to Prerna’s questions:

1. What do you consider as your happy place? A mountainside with a rivulet and a not so dense jungle!Me, my family and my books for company.

2. 5 Words that describe you the best. Motivated, hardworking, fun-loving, loyal and quirky at times. I usually am all the mentioned qualities but then tend to oscillate once in a while to become quirky and lose my composure.

3. A dream that you would like to see tonight? A perfect getaway with my familyon a beautiful beach house.

4. Your fav song/book/movie and why? Parichay, the Hindi adaptation of the Sound of Music.

5. One secret of being a successful blogger… Be consistent and have good content and networking skills. Networking is very important, otherwise you are a lone fish in a big pond.

I nominate the following bloggers. Best of luck guys !

Shilpa Gandotra

Sowmya Tiwari

Nidhi Kapur Malhotra

Anil Badlani

Ajuli    Tulsyan

Sowmya Tiwari

Motu Ganguly

Vikram Kamboj

My questions for the nominees:
1. Who or What are your three favourite blogs or bloggers?

2. What inspired you to start blogging?

3. One thing about you which you absolutely love and one that you can change?

4. One tip that you would like to share with fellow bloggers that has helped you the most.

5. Who is your favourite person?

 

How Green Was My Dwarka

I live in Dwarka, a suburb of Delhi.

Years ago, anticipating a massive rise in Delhi’s population, Delhi’s planners had earmarked a large tract of land south-west of Delhi as a residential suburb.It was supposed to be just a residential area with pockets of commercial space. Dwarka is actually built on the site of farmlands of several villages.The farmers were given due compensation by the government after the acquisition of their farmlands.Flush with easy money, some youngsters turned to crime and robbery!

Apartments sprung up on each other , much like matchboxes piled up on one another and lo and behold ,by the year 2000, Dwarka had taken shape.The roads were still dirt tracks as concrete had still not been laid upon them.There was dust all around and electricity connections to the recently constructed condominiums were still scarce.An odd lamp told the traveller the direction to his destination.

Reaching Dwarka was from the main body of the city of Delhi was a nightmare and a lot of people wanting to visit their friends and relatives there wanted to avoid that situation.The connecting roads were extremely narrow and bustling with slow traffic spilling over from the adjoining villages like Palam! Readers would be extremely surprised to know that Delhi encloses a lot of villages, some of them dating back to 1000 years.

In short,  going to Dwarka meant going to Greenland!

Crime was commonplace and there were so many instances of chain snatching and robbing of people right at the entrance gates of the various condominiums.

But, there was a bright side to it ,too!

You could see in the evenings nilgais cross the roads (dirt tracks actually). They simply jumped in fron of your vehicle, appearing from nowhere, and simply melting in the vegetation nearby.An unsuspecting driver usually collided with those beasts and ended up having a dented fender.

Nilgais are members of the deer family and generally are beasts of the wild.In northern India, village folks consider these animals as sacred and do not kill them for food.

There were hare , mongoose and occasionally one could spot jackals too.Dwarka was a forlorn territory then.

Life was slow, unpredictable and enjoyable.

Now, as I sit back in 2015 AD and ruminate, I can not but wonder at the rapid transformation the suburb has gone under.The Delhi Metro has embraced the township like the arms of a loving mother, numerous cars and motorcycles swarm the roads and humanity it seems has reposed trust in this place by putting quite a few of its members here.

The once dense vegetation has retreated and with it the sounds and sights of the wild life too have become feeble.

The metalled tracks, the multitudes of window panes and ubiquitous air conditioner have all together conspired into making Dwarka a veritable oven in the summers. Temperatures at times cross 46 degrees celsius.Bit, much more than the weather becoming hotter, people are becoming hotter under their collars!

While access to Dwarka is still an issue, the problem has largely been resolved.Traffic jams are now an essential part of the character of the suburb.

Attitude wise, while Dwarka was more of a conservative community earlier, today, lifestyles have changed-live in relationships are becoming more common.

What next Dwarka?

%d bloggers like this: