15 amazing things to do in Delhi for travellers

One of the amazing things to do in Delhi these days is to participate in a Ramzan Walk. Have you done it, yet?

15 amazing things to do in Delhi

Refresh yourself, be a newer you. You deserve a better life than just being an office slave.

  1. Segway Rides

Do you know what is a Segway ride? This is a two-wheeled battery operated vehicle that lets you move around in a standing position. These vehicles are manufactured by Segway Inc.of the United States. Pick up one of these and explore Delhi this weekend. Fun comes in different packages these days, isn’t it?

Image result for images of Segway Rides
Creds; TripAdvisor

Watch this video to see how Segway bikes work:

http://www.gettyimages.in/detail/video/electric-unicycle-segway-airwheel-stock-video-footage/544147362
2. Haveli Tours

Delhi is a city of Havelis or mansions. Just take a trip to the old city of Shahjahanabad and make your way through centuries-old havelis of Old Delhi. My personal favorites are the Namakharaam ki Haveli and Mirza Ghalib Haveli. Do you know that in the old times, the rich, powerful and the famous of Delhi used to live in these havelis?

Haveli Dharampura
Haveli Dharampura is located next to Jama Masjid

More amazing things to do in Delhi

3.Go drumming

Feeling stressed? That is why we have included drumming in this list of 30 amazing things to do in Delhi. Attend the Djembe Drum Circle event in the city and let your hair down. This is a gang of enthusiastic people who converge every week in a garden, mall or a well-attended place. There are no fees for attending this event.

amazing things to do in Delhi
I have found drumming to be a great stress buster. Creds-Debu Mishra

Read on…

  1. Hauz Khas Village

If you have a bohemian personality, then the Hauz Khas Village is the place to go to. Pubs, restaurants, gigs, stand-up comedy sessions, we have the works for you. The cherry on the top is the 600-year old Hauz Khas Palace nearby. This monument is a great hit among amateur photographers.

Image result for flickr Hauz Khas Village
A cacophony of beauty, that is your Hauz Khas Village. Creds; Flickr

Also read : These are some of the most exciting events in Delhi that you can imagine  

Unconventional ones…

5. Rock Climbing

Did you know that you can try your hand at climbing steep rocks in Delhi? We too were comprised when we were compiling this list. The venue for this activity is the Lado Sarai rocks in the vicinity of Qutub Minar.

  1. Air Safari

You have done wildlife safaris in Kenya and the jungles of Ranthambore National Park, but are you aware of the Air Safari in Delhi? Now see the magnificent city of Delhi while flying like a bird. Okay, okay, you do not have to actually fly like a bird. All you have to do is sit in a chair and let a propeller and a motor do the rest of the job. Enjoy the stunning scenery of Delhi as the city whizzes below you.

Image result for images of paragliding in Delhi

Creds:Thrilophillia

  1. Secret lakes of Delhi

One of the amazing things to do in Delhi is to join a group of like-minded people and trek down to the secret lakes of Asola. These lakes are hidden among bushes in the Aravali ranges of Faridabad. The water is clear blue and there is no noise or pollution near these lakes.

Image may contain: 28 people, outdoor

Some more amazing things to do in Delhi

8.Delhi Temple Walk

If you are a religious person then don’t worry. We will take you on a guided walk to the various temples of Delhi. This city has several beautiful places of worship like the Laxmi Narayan Temple on Mandir Marg, the Akshardham Temple, Yogmaya Temple. Kunti Temple in the Purana Qila and the Appa Gangadhar Temple in Chandni Chowk. Charges-Rs. 1,500 per person.

Image result for flickr Akshardham

  1. Delhi Sight Seeing Trip

One of the amazing things to do in Delhi is visiting the various historical monuments by a private car. This 10-hour trip includes Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate, Nizamuddin Dargah, Purana Qila, and the Bahai Temple. We will drive around the city in a Toyota Liva. Charges per head- Rs. 3,000 ( includes snacks). Please drop me a mail at swayamt@gmail.com if you are interested.

10. Haunted tour of Mehrauli

You must join me on this haunted tour of Mehrauli. Did you know that the earlier name of Delhi was Mehrauli? There are several abandoned ancient buildings in Mehrauli that are haunted. The tomb of Balban is certainly haunted. Another weird place in Mehrauli is the tomb of Jamali Kamali. Join me on a 3-hour trip to these haunted places of Mehrauli.

And there are some more…

  1. Open Mic sessions

Are you the next Kapil Sharma? Do you like bringing the house down with your one-liners? Do you want to share your poems and short-stories with strangers? You will be happy to know that there are several open-mic sessions that encourage budding artists to share their creativity with a willing audience. Ping me if you want to know more.

  1. Visit  the National Museum
Image result for flickr National Museum Delhi
Ticket: Rs. 30. Experience- Worth a million dollars. Creds: Flickr

We would strongly recommend you to visit the National Museum. This building is a treasure trove of ancient relics, statues, and other memorabilia. National Museum is located on Janpath. Take a Metro to reach this Museum and keep the environment clean.

Read – What to do in Shimla

  1. Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts

One of the amazing things to do in Delhi is to visit this beautiful building near the National Museum. If you want to know more about the art and culture of India, then you should come to this place. The IGNCA is just adjacent to the iconic India Gate and is set in the middle of a huge lawn. Entry to this building and its events is free.

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  1. Madame Tussaud’s

You will be amazed to know that there is a Delhi edition of Madame Tussaud’s! This wax museum is located in the Regal building of Connaught Place. Drop in at this place and marvel at the wax figurines of celebrities displayed here.

  1. India Gate

Do you know that this famous monument honors of more than 90,000 Indian soldiers who died fighting for the British in the First World War? India Gate is maintained by the Indian Defence Ministry. The memorial to the unknown soldier is guarded by the soldiers of Navy, Army and the Air Force.

Image result for flickr India Gate
‘They gave away their today so that we could enjoy our tomorrow”

Red Fort Delhi History Timings Stories and Secrets of Kings and Begums

Red Fort Delhi is a treasure chest of tales if only, you and I cared to stop and listened to its stones. As a frequent traveler to this fort, I have paused at its gates, and in its rooms and wondered about the enchanting history of this monument.

 

Red Fort Delhi
After centuries of rule by the Mughals over this Fort, our national flag flutters proudly atop the Lahore Gate

The Red Fort Delhi stories

 

I do not want this post to be a travel guide; this post will be more about the history of Red Fort and its most famous inhabitants-the Mughals.

While I will introduce you to the various monuments of Red Fort Delhi, I shall also tell you the various events associated with them.

I hope you enjoy these stories.

Veil of the Bride

 

Visitors enter the Red Fort Delhi via the Lahore Gate. This gate faces the city of Lahore in Pakistan.

Now you will wonder about the nomenclature of this gate. No? Well, in the earlier days, Lahore was very much a part of Mughal India and was an important city. Lahore was also the springboard for any military campaigns directed at Afghanistan. At that time, Afghanistan was called Kandhar. Invaders headed to India had to conquer Kandhar first.

Well, in the earlier days, Lahore was very much a part of Mughal India and was an important city. It was also the springboard for any military campaigns directed at Afghanistan. At that time, Afghanistan was called Kandahar and invaders headed to India had to conquer Kandhar first.

Read Exciting events in Delhi this week you must not miss at any cost

When the Red Fort first came up in 1648, the Lahore Gate used to face Chandni Chowk. But, when Aurangzeb assumed power in 1659, he changed the direction of this Gate by 90 degrees. The new Emperor wanted to twist the approach to the Fort.

 

Upon hearing this change in alignment, Shahjehan, the father of Aurangzeb, wrote a moving letter to Aurangzeb. He was in the captivity of his son at that time. Among other things, Shahjehan lamented that this change was like a putting a veil on the face of a bride.

Red Fort Delhi Fact #1

 

Did you know that Shahjahan was imprisoned by his third son Aurangzeb after the latter defeated Dara Shukoh in a battle?  Dara was the elder son of Shahjahan and was next in line to become the Emperor. Aurangzeb kept his captive father in the Agra Red Fort.

Meant for bows and arrows, not guns

 

The Red Fort walls are bows and arrows based defensive structures. These battlements were not adapted for guns and canons. This is surprising because the Mughals had introduced the artillery in India way back in 1526. In that year, the Mughals had defeated the Lodhis in the first battle of Panipat.

Watch this excellent video to appreciate the history of the Mughals:

https://youtu.be/fileKe_ydRs

I think that when Shahjahan built this Fort in 1648, he thought that there won’t be any attacks to his palace for a long time. He was clever and industrious and had brought a large part of India under his control. During Shahjahan’s time, the Mughal Empire was quite secure from external attacks.

Red Fort Delhi
Clearly, the walls are not meant for guns and canons

When Aurangzeb came to power in 1659, initially he faced very little opposition from his enemies. However, after 15 years of his rule, Aurangzeb realized that he was not secure from external attacks. Tearing down the fort walls was impossible so he decided to change the direction of the gate.

Call Now at 9810840763 for your trip to Red Fort

Meena Bazaar- the Mall of Lust

 

Just as you enter the Red Fort Delhi, you are greeted by two rows of shops. This is a medieval era bazaar and has survived more than 360 years of turmoil. The name of this market is Chhatta Bazaar and has a very interesting history behind it.

Chhatta Bazaar
In the good old days, this bazaar was the pride of the Mughal Empire

Unconfirmed reports say that this roofed market in the Red Fort came into being after Shahjahan saw a market like this in Peshawar.

Red Fort Delhi
Avenue de’ luxury

The Chhatta Bazaar was also called Meena Bazaar in the earlier days. Do you know why? It is said that during the 9 days of Nauroz, only the ladies belonging to the elite of the Mughal Empire could set up their stalls here. The only male who could come here and shop was the Emperor himself. The Emperor used to haggle a lot with the beautiful ladies in this bazaar. It also was a good opportunity for him to entice some of them to his harem.

Forbes says that Shahjahan gifted his wife one of the most expensive gifts of all time.

Much more than a mere mall

 

The Meena Bazaar or the Chhatta Bazaar was much more than a small time market. The Mughals used this mall to impress the visiting envoys with their opulence. On display in this market were some of the finest materials that the world had seen- perfume, spices, bullion, textiles, muslin etc.

Bangles
The Chhatta Bazaar is no longer a luxury mall now. Shops sell trinkets here now such as these bangles

From Agra to Delhi


One thing has always puzzled me; why did the Mughals shift their capital from Agra to Delhi? They were quite settled in Agra which gave them strategic space to fan out in the rebellious Deccan and Rajputana. Shahjahan did not face any significant threat from his enemies for most of his rule so what made him go 250 kilometers up north?

Shahjahan’s dad, Jahangir

 

Our Red Fort Delhi story begins with Jahangir. I could have started with Akbar and Humayun but their connection with this monument is very indirect. I would dwell on them some other day in this post.

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Salim, also known as Jahangir, was an unworthy successor to Akbar. Image Creds: Forbes

Jahangir was an indolent man. Probably, Salim (Jahangir) in his later years, did not want to come to this world at all. Mughal records say that his mother, could not conceive him for many years until she was pressed into the service of Salim Chishti. We do not know about the nature of service that she performed but, her child was duly named after the Sufi saint.

Read “The Fall of the Mughal Empire by Jadunath Sarkar

Salim grew up to be an indolent man. He was an opiate and a heavy drunkard. God knows how he picked up these bad habits. Salim had a weak spirit and a weaker mind and was quite unlike his father in many respects.

The affair of Khusro- Part 1

 

Akbar preferred Khusro over Salim as his successor. But, who was Khusro?

Khusro was one of the sons of Salim. The latter had other sons as well and one of them was Khurram, but right now we will talk only about Khusro.

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Khusro lies buried in this garden tomb at Allahabad, India Image Creds: Wikipedia

When Akbar fell sick, he thought of anointing Khusro as his successor. To Akbar, Khusro was an ideal successor. He was handsome, industrious, clever and clever. Akbar thought that Khusro would manage the Mughal Empire well. Akbar;s close confidantes did not think that way, however.

Would you like to take a guided tour of Red Fort Delhi?

This is the event link- http://go.eventshigh.com/32dd

For making payments, please clickk here- https://ticketing.eventshigh.com/checkout.jsp?src=fbTicketWidget&eid=031d7dd548286a84edb2198883d36a40

However, things did not go the way as Akbar had planned. Akbar’s close relatives forced him to change his mind and ultimately, Salim succeeded Akbar upon the latter’s death in 1605.

The affair of Khusro- Part 2

 

Khusro had a Hindu mother and a Muslim father. His mother was a Rajput and belonged to Amber. His father, Jahangir was, of course, the son of Akbar.

This extraordinary man was handsome, well-spoken and tactful. He had several followers but none of them gave him sound advice.

Read Fort India
One of the pillars supporting the terrace of Diwan-e-Aam, or Hall of Public Audience

When Jahangir ascended the throne after his father’s death, the latter decided to keep a close watch on Khusro. One day, the son came up to Jahangir and asked for permission to visit Akbar’s tomb. Jahangir agreed readily to his son’s request but decided to keep an eye on him. Khusro left the Agra Fort accompanied by 300 soldiers and reached Sikandra, where his grandfather was buried. After praying at the grave of Akbar, Khusro left for Mathura which is 50 kilometers from Agra.

The spies duly informed Jahangir of Khusro’s moves.

After spending some time at Mathura, Khusro left for Delhi, 200 kilometers from Mathura. From Delhi, Khusro and his train departed for Punjab, where he met Guru Arjan Dev.

Clearly, Khusro had something in his mind.

Jahangir-Khusro faceoff

 

All this while, Jahangir was tracing Khusro. He finally cornered his wayward son in Lahore. Khusro, at that time, was trying to capture the Lahore Fort.

A battle ensued between the father and son and ultimately Jahangir defeated Khusro.

Khusro was imprisoned and brought to Delhi along with his supporters. They were lined up on both sides of the main street in Delhi and later impaled alive. Khusro was made to watch this spectacle.

Manbai’s dilemma

 

All this while, Manbai, the mother of Khusro was confused. She could not decide whether her husband, Jahangir was right or whether Khusro needed to be supported by her.

One fine day, she consumed a lot of opium and committed suicide. Manbai was sad at the turn of events unfolding in the Mughal household.

The Noorjahan saga

 

The story of Red Fort Delhi would be incomplete without Noorjehan or Noorjahan who was Jehangir’s wife.

Salim or Jehangir was a prisoner of her charms and did all that what was told to him by her. He was her virtual prisoner, so the records say.

Noorjehan was the only Mughal empress to have coinage struck in her name.[5] She was often present when the Emperor held court, and even held court independently when the Emperor was unwell. The Empress was given charge of his imperial seal, implying that her perusal and consent were necessary before any document or order received legal validity. The Emperor sought her views on most matters before issuing orders.(Creds- Wikipedia)

Noorjehan was already in her 30’s when she married the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir. He was her second husband; her first husband, Sher Afghan, was killed in a duel.

Some people say that he was killed on the orders of Jahangir, who was jealous of Sher Afghan.

Read here about Noorjehan

Noorjehan already had a child, Ladli Begum who was fathered by Sher Afghan, when she entered the harem of Jahangir.

The Conspiracy

 

Sometime after her marriage, Noorjehan and Jahangir ran into opposition by some old Akbar faithful courtiers like Mahabat Khan. The old noble had served Akbar well but thought that Jahangir was unworthy of the Mughal throne.

You will be surprised to know that the Khan was once the Commander-in-Chief of the Mughal Army during Jehangir’s rule. So why did Mahabat revolt against his Emperor?

It is said that many Mughal nobles in Jehangir’s court felt insecure at seeing the rapid rise of this man from Persia.And you know what happens in these cases. Some of the jealous nobles told the Queen that Mahabat Khan was acting pricey and did not respect the royal family.

What do you think, Noorjehan did to counter Mahabat Khan?

(To be continued)

How to reach Red Fort Delhi– Delhi Metro offers excellent connectivity to this place. You can take a Metro from Rajiv Chowk or any other station in Gurgaon. Get off at the Chandni Chowk Metro Station and take a rickshaw.

You can also take a Metro from Mandi House and get down at the Red Fort Metro station.

Red Fort Delhi Timings– Open on all days, except Mondays. Timings- 9.30 am -6 pm.

 

 

 

 

 

These places in Shimla may force you to lose your heart to someone

Some places in Shimla are not just tourist destinations, they are about some profound life experiences. In my case, one of these places is connected with a beautiful girl who stole my heart away more than twenty years back.

The Ridge Area

Yes, if you want to steal someone’s heart then the Ridge area is the place to be in. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this place has that magical feeling which cannot be explained. The Ridge is one of the places in Shimla which will always be etched in your heart. Won’t you be interested what it did to me in the winter of 1992?

places in Shimla
The Ridge, Shimla. Creds: TopYaps

I was a young man then and was traveling to this magical town but my travel had little to do with fun. This trip was more about learning- I was a trainee geologist. While I and my gang were waiting for a bus in the Ridge market, I saw a most beautiful girl having red cheeks! Those cheeks were like apples and  I swear, I hadn’t seen cheeks like those all my life until then. Cupid struck me and for the remainder of my trip, I was always trying to locate that lass.

Today, the Ridge area is a lot more romantic place. Honeymooners make it a point to visit this landmark in Shimla and make it a part of their memories. If you haven’t visited the Ridge until now, then do it now.

Places in Shimla-read on…

My search for the beautiful lass took me to the Scandal Point. Some smart Alec told me that the best place for finding her was this scandalously named place. Scandal Point, hmm, I said to myself, here I come.

Image result for images of ScandalPoint
Image Creds: TripAdvisor

Alas, I did not find her here, either. But what I did discover was the fantastic history of this place.

Scandal Point is so named because from this place more than a hundred years ago the Maharaja of Patiala had eloped with a British girl! Now, this girl was the daughter of the then British Viceroy and this affair became a major scandal.

But, who was this Maharaja?

I did a little bit of research and discovered that he was nobody else other than Rajinder Singh of Patiala. This man had several wives and was quite evidently, a ladies’man. When this affair was discovered, the king was banished from entering Shimla by the British. Undeterred, Rajinder Singh founded a spankingly new town for himself, Chail, which is located 45 kilometers from Shimla.

My search for the fair lady took me to other places in Shimla too.

Jab We Met at The Mall

places in Shimla
The Mall Road, Shimla; Creds- TopYaps

Every city has a road peculiarly named, The Mall Road. I think that the word, Mall, means a street lined with high-end shops. Is this why this road is named so in Shimla?

Ruskin Bond Uncle says that when the British came to the hills, they made roads that resembled the tree-lined promenades of London. They named these avenues Mall Roads.

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Did you know that several Hindi movies like Jab We Met and Black were shot in the Mall area? Ah, now I can see you planning to visit this pretty area and checking all those sites that you saw in these movies. No?

By the way, there is a lovely property of Treebo Hotels in the Mall area. I found this hotel clean, fresh and warm in hospitality. The staff is polite, friendly and helpful. If you are visiting Shimla on your honeymoon, I would advise you to stay in this property.

Ring a bell at the Jakhu Temple

Monkeys greet you at this ancient Hanuman temple upon your arrival. This is one of the very few places in Shimla that give you an unhindered view of the Shivalik Hills. It is located just a couple of miles from Shimla and can be reached by taking a pony or a horse.

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Do you know the history behind this amazing place? Locals say that when Lord Hanuman was rushing back to Lanka after carrying the sanjivani booti, he decided to spend a few hours in Jakhu to recoup his energy!

Did I pray to the Lord to help him find my beloved? Yes. And after visiting this temple, I was filled with a new found resolve to find her.

Also read-http://www.ahauntedtravel.com/most-haunted-places-in-shimla/

Annandale- Shimla’s own Scotland

If you are married, then you must not visit this pretty place which is located a few miles from Shimla. The woods of Annandale are dark, deep, and unspoiled by construction and human activity. Annadale hadn’t come up when we were in Shimla twenty years back but travelers now swear by this place. The Indian Army has made a museum in this place which is open on all the days except on Mondays.

Image result for images of Annadale Shimla
Image Creds: TripAdvisor

All the coffee lovers rejoice! There is a pretty cafe in Annandale which will nourish your heart, body, and soul.

Annandale is truly a lover’s paradise.

Summer Hill- Reliving the 1960’s Romance

One of the best places in Shimla to rekindle your romance is the Summer Hill. A UNESCO heritage site, Summer Hill is one of the seven hills of Shimla. When the Brits came to this wooded place in the nineteenth century, they decided to make it accessible by laying down a railway line. The toy train from Kalka to Shimla chugs through Summer Hill and the nearby valleys and forests wowing its passengers.

Image result for images of Summer Hill Shimla
Image Creds: MapMyIndia

Did you know that Rajesh Khanna romanced Sharmila in the epic, Aradhna while driving his jeep along this Kalka-Shimla railway line?

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The surprise of the package- Summer Festival

Are you a music and dance aficionado? In that case, don’t forget to attend the Shimla  Summer Festival. This is the place to go to enjoy local music, culture, dance and make new friends.

And who knows, you may meet your lady love here.

How to reach Shimla

You can reach this beautiful place by taking a bus or train from Chandigarh. Alternatively, you can also book a flight to Shimla from New Delhi.

For booking your train tickets, visit this website- www. irctc.co.in

So, that’s it , boys and girls. Let me know how was your trip to Shimla this June.

 

 

These events in Delhi NCR will refresh you for the next week

These events in Delhi NCR  are all about story telling, history walks and trips to haunted places. Also lined up is an event that takes you to pre-historic site in Delhi

If you are a history fan and want to know more about the 100, 000-year-old past of Delhi, then you have come to the right destination. We promise that after attending these events, you will come back for more such interesting stories.

Over the past few months, India Travel Blog has escorted many travelers from abroad in history walks and various events.Some of them are featured above and sure, they look happy and excited.

If you are planning to travel to India shortly, don’t miss these events in Delhi NCR this week.

Red Fort Stories- of Badshahs and their Concubines

 

One of the events in Delhi NCR  is about the fantastic stories of the Mughal dynasty that ruled Delhi. This event will cover the following sessions:

  1. The Mughal Harem- what was it like. A harem is a place where all the ladies used to live together.
  2. The status of the Mughal women in the Harem; were they sex slaves or normal humans?
  3. Famous Four- Noorjahan, Mumtaz, Jahanara, and Roshanara- their lives, and loves
  4. Father and Son- The Jahangir/ Akbar and Jahangir/ Khurram conflicts
  5. The tragedy of being a mom- Manbai and her times
  6. Did Jodhabai really exist? If yes, what was her real entity?
  7. The tragic story of Khusro, the grandson of Akbar who would never be the Mughal Emperor
  8. Castrated, but powerful enough- The Nazirs of the Mughal Harem. The harem was guarded by eunuchs, did you know that?
  9. The Princess who held her own Litfests in the Red Fort !who was she?
  10. Malls of Lust- The Meena Bazaar Tales
  11. Roll Call- All stand-up! The Dewan-e-Aam Spectacle.

events in Delhi NCR this week

Of course, we shall go around the Red Fort premises and share all the above hauntingly beautiful stories among ourselves.

We will also go to the ancient Salimgarh Fort which was the imperial jail for the Mughals.

Do you know that the spirit of a long dead Mughal princess roams around in this prison?Who is she?

events in Delhi NCR
The Meena Bazaar of Red Fort

Venue- Red Fort Ticket Counter

Dates- July 15,17,19,21,23,25,27, 29, 31

Time- 9 AM-12PM.

Time of Assembly- 8.45 AM

Price- Rs. 1,200 per adult. Kids below 10 years will not be charged. Please note that this price includes snacks (tea/coffee/samosa/ cold drink).

Snacks shall be provided by me.

Kindly buy the ticket to the monument by yourself. 

The Angrez, The Sultan, and The Pigs

 

One of the events in Delhi NCR this week happens in the Mehrauli Archeological Park.

Do you know that this Park has monuments which are thousands of years old?

We cover the following destinations on this trip:

 

Mehrauli Archeological Park
We assure you will go back with happy memories
  1. Visiting the haunted palace of  Sultan Balban and listening to his fantastic story
  2. Balban and his relationship with his masters and subjects.
  3. The concept of Sultanate and its relationship with the Caliph of Baghdad and Turkey
  4. The origin of the Slave dynasty in Delhi
  5. Who were the Tomars and why did they lose to the Turks?
  6. Did Prithviraj Chauhan really rule Delhi?
  7. Yoginipura, Mehrauli, and Delhi- exploring the relationship between these three settlements
  8. The arrival of the East India Company
  9. The colorful character of Mr. Thomas Metcalfe, his lives and times
  10. Fact and Fiction- the ‘haunted’ tomb of Jamali. But who was Kamali?
  11. The ancient water ‘cafes’ of Delhi-why were they made?
  12. Stories of Jealousy- the Adham Khan affair
    events in Delhi NCR this week
    Listen to the hauntingly beautiful stories of Mehrauli

    exciting events in Delhi NCR
    The Mehrauli Archeological Park has started getting  foreign visitors also

And yes, like all the other events in Delhi NCR, this one too will involve a lot of walking, climbing etc so please wear hiking boots or sports shoes.

Excitement guaranteed!

Venue- Mehrauli Archeological Park, Delhi (Near Qutub Minar)

Point of Assembly- Qutub Minar Metro Station

Time of Assembly- 8.45 AM

Duration- 9AM-12PM

Dates-July-2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30.

Price- Rs. 1,200 per adult. Kids below 10 years come free. Please note that this price includes snacks (tea/coffee/samosa/ cold drink). Snacks shall be provided by me.

Entry to this monument is free. 

Also, read- 10 Travel Tips for India that no one will tell you!

The Palace of the Dead

 

This event will take you to Humayun Tomb, one of the most beautiful structures in Delhi. The event details are:

  1. The start of the Mughal dynasty in India
  2. Babur and Humayun- a study in contrast
  3. Gulbadan Begum and her times
  4. Humayun and his harem
  5. The Shah of Iran meets Humayun what happens next?
  6. Hamida or Baga- who commissioned Humayun  Tomb?
  7. Is Humayun really buried here? Controversies and more controversies
  8. The mystery behind the Barber’s Tomb
  9. The concept of milk brothers or kokas.
  10. The concept of Badshahat and how different is it from Sultanate
  11. Dara.O Dara!
  12. This King had 700 wives, who was he?Humayun Tomb

Venue- Humayun Tomb Ticket Counter

 events in Delhi NCR
A group of young Taiwanese students has fun inside the Humayun Tomb premises

If you want to read more on Humayun and his times, please click here: http://asi.nic.in/asi_monu_whs_humayuntomb.asp

How to reach Humayun’s Tomb- The nearest Metro Station is that of Lajpat Nagar. From there, take an autorickshaw or Uber.

Time of Assembly 3.45 PM

Duration- 2 hours, 4-6 PM

Dates- July- 2,4,6,8,10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20

Price Rs. 1,200 per adult. Kids below 10 years come free. Please note that this price includes snacks (tea/coffee/samosa/ cold drink). Snacks shall be provided by me.

Kindly buy the ticket to the monument by yourself. 

2-day trip to Bhangarh Fort

 

If you like visiting haunted destinations, then this event is for you.

We go on a 2-day trip to the haunted fort of Bhangarh in Alwar.

Bhangarh is a medieval era fort and is a very interesting place for people interested in spirits and ghosts. Locals say that there are many spirits which live inside this fort. Would you like to interact with them?

Of course, we will not stay within the fort. Our stay will be at a hotel nearby.

The duration of the trip is just 3 hours from Delhi.

Date of the event- July 29, 2017- July 30, 2017

Start time- 7 am July 29. Finish time- 10 pm, July 30.

Charges per head- Rs. 5,000 per head. This figure includes cost of travel, and hotel stay.

... Fort - World top most Haunted Place | Bhangarh Fort… | Flickr

Important notice for all those attending these events in Delhi NCR

 

Kindly note: You can make payment in cash or through PayPal.

My e-mail id is; swayamt@gmail.com

Ph. -91-9810840763

I would urge you to check out my Facebook Page to know about  my other events and notes:

https://www.facebook.com/swayamt

You may also look up my Twitter profile: www.twitter.com/swayamt

Other events in Delhi NCR

 

Theatre

 

  • Ashadh ka Ek Din, (Hindi Drama) Shri Ram Centre, Safdar Hashmi Marg. Kalidas falls in love with Mallika, a girl who lives in the mountains. What happens next? This play was written several decades ago by Mohan Rakesh. Date- July 28. Time- 4 pm/ 7.30 pm. Tickets- INR 15/250/350/550
  • Chakravyuh, (Hindi Drama), Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg. This is the thirteenth day of the Mahabharat War and Abhimanyu is trapped in a Chakravyuh. Director- Atul Satya Kaushik. Date- July 29. Time- 4pm/7pm. Tickets- Rs. 200
  • Kaali Shalwar, (Hindi Drama), Shri Ram Center, Safdar Hashmi Marg. Directed by Atul Satya Kaushik, this play narrates the tale of Sultana, a prostitute, who is determined to break the stereotypes around her profession. Date- July 30. Time- 4pm/7pm. Tickets- Rs. 200/- 
  • The Cabuliwala ( English drama), Akshara theater, Baba Kharak Singh Marg. This play is an adaptation of Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Kabuliwala which tells the story of the friendship between 5-year old Mini and Rehman, a much older man from Afghanistan.Date- July 29. Time- 7pm.Tickets- Rs. 250/ 150
  • Abducted, ( English drama), Akshara Theatre, Baba Kharak Singh Marg. A young woman is kidnapped by two men and is held hostage in a small room by her abductors. They are demanding ransom of more than a million dollars from her father. If you are a fan of thriller drams, then go watch this one. Director- Jalbala Vaidya. Date- July 30. Time- 6.30 pm. Tickets-Rs. 250

Lapsed events

  • 2 Shades of Life, Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Estate. This Hindi play is about 6 Indians who steal a valuable piece of art in Antigua.By the time when they return to their hideout, the painting is gone. What happened to the painting? Date- July 15. Time- 6. 15 pm. Tickets- Rs. 100/-
  • Love ka Overdose, Hindi Comedy, Sri Ram Centre, Safdar Hashmi Marg. Adam and Eve start their journey, not from Eden but Haryana. What happens next? Date- July 14, Time- 7 pm. Tickets- Rs. 500/200
  • Bali ( Hindi Drama), LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg. Written by Girish Karnad, this Hindi play tries to explore te connection between violence and religion. Date- July 16, Time- 4 pm. Tickets- Rs. 500/ 100
  • Baap re Baap ( Hindi comedy), Alliance Francaise. Things get funny when Babu Banarasidas goes missing from his house one fine day. Director- Amar Sah. Date- July 15. Time- 6 pm. Tickets-Rs. 500-200
  • The Cabuliwala ( English drama), Akshara theater, Baba Kharak Singh Marg. This play is an adaptation of Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Kabuliwala which tells the story of the friendship between 5-year old Mini and Rehman, a much older man from Afghanistan.Tickets- Rs. 250/ 150
  • Broadcast at Oddbird  Theater, 100 feet road, Dhan Mill Compound, Chhattarpur. This event will broadcast the happenings around Partition. It will be a spinechiiling event as all these broadcasts actually happened in 1947. Relive the days of the Partition. Date- July 14-16. Time- 10 pm. Tickets- Rs. 500
  1. Hamlet (Hindi), Shri Ram Centre, Safdar Hashmi Marg, Mandi House. This play is a part of the Summer Theater Festival. Director- K. Madavane. Date- June 23. Time- 7 pm.
  2. Deewangee( Hindi thriller), Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Road. A young businessman is introduced to a popular singer, Sargam by a music magnate, Ashwin. The next day, Ashwin is found murdered in his house. Whodunit? Director- SP Singh Sengar. Date- June 25. Time- 7 pm. Tickets- Rs. 300/-
  3. Bharat Mata ki Jai ( Hindi drama), India Habitat Center, Lodhi Road. Who is Bharat Mata- this was one of the top concerns of the noted filmmaker, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas. Watch this drama and get the answer to this question yourself. Director- Lokesh Jain. Date- June 25, Time- 7.30 pm. Tickets- Rs. 500/350/200
  4. Log Baag ( Hindi drama), IHC, Lodi Road. A delightful play comprising 8 stories of Chekov, all woven together, this play is a must watch. Director- Arvind Gaur. Date- June 24. Time- 7.30 pm. Tickets- Rs. 100/-
  5. Hello Darling (Hindi comedy), Mavlankar Auditorium, Sansad Marg. This one is a laugh riot where a couple is trying to outsmart each other with the help of a maid. Director-Yogesh Sanghvi. Date- June 25. Time-7.30 pm. Tickets- Rs. 2500-250/-
  6. Dayashankar Ki Diary ( Hindi drama), Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Estate. Dayashankar, a small town simpleton, tries to carve out a living in Mumbai. Director- Krishna Kant. Date-June 25. Time- 5pm.Tickets- Rs. 300/-
  7. Baap re Baap ( Hindi comedy), Alliance Francaise. Things get funny when Babu Banarasidas goes missing from his house one fine day. Director- Amar Sah. Date- June 24. Time- 6 pm. Tickets-Rs. 300/-
  8. Chhutti (Hindi comedy), The Stein Audi, IHC, Lodhi Road. A story within a story within a story within a story; this play is all about intermingling stories. Director- Ashish Ghosh. Date- June 24, Time- 7.30 pm. Tickets-Rs. 500/200-

Screenings

 

If you are a movie fan, then these events in Delhi NCR are all about movies.

  1. The Darwin Puzzle– IHC, Lodhi Road. Based on the life of Charles Darwin, this play is directed by Radhika Chandrashekhar. Date-June 29. Time- 7 pm.
  2. Plastic Cow- Gulmohar Hall, IHC, Lodhi Road. Even cows are getting affected by plastic and how? Director- Kunal Vohra. Date- June 23. Time- 7 pm.
  3. History of Yoga- Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, Janpath. This film explores the 6,000-year old history. It also understands its significance in Harappa Civilization, Vedic age, and the medieval history of India. Directors- Deepika and Ramji. Date- June 23. Time- 5.30 pm.
  4. 23-F (Spanish with English sub-titles), Instituto Cervantes, Hanuman Road, near Connaught Place. This movie is a docu-drama about the failed coup that nearly brought the fledgling Spanish democracy down. Date- June 25. Time- 4.30 pm.

 

I shall update you on more events in Delhi NCR shortly. Hope you enjoy the above-listed ones.

Important links for booking your tickets:

  1. Alliance Francaise- delhi.afindia.org
  2. India Habitat Centre- indiahabitat.org
  3. Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra- thekendra.com 
  4. Akshara Theatre, New Delhi- https://www.facebook.com/AksharaTheatreNewDelhi

 

Events in Delhi NCR that have expired 

Screenings
  1. Opera at Habitat Series-Saint Saens’Samson et Dalila ( French with English subtitles), IHC, Lodhi Road. Date- June 12. Time- 7 pm.
  2. Berthe Morisot- (French with English subtitles), ML Bhartia Audi, Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Estate. Date- June 15. Times- 6.30 pm. Director- Caroline Champetier
  3. The Distinguished Citizen (Spanish), IHC, Lodhi Road. Date- June 14. Time- 7 pm. Directors- Gaston Duprat, Mariano Cohn
  4. European Union Film Festival 2017, Siri Fort Auditorium 2, Siri Institutional Area, Asian Games Complex. Date- June 9-15. Entry on First Come First Served Basis.

    Image result for images of Indian Habitat Centre
    India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road

Theater

1.Chandragupta– Hindi Drama, Shriram Center, Safdar Hashmi Marg

Directed by Varun Sharma, this play takes you through the lives and times of Chandragupta Maurya. If you have youngsters at home, then take them to this historical play and introduce them to India’s glorious past.

Tickets- Rs. 150/300. Date- June, 2. Time- 7 pm.

  1. Big B- Hindi Drama, Shriram Center, Safdar Hashmi Marg

This play is about two English-educated brothers, who speak in Hindi. Kamta Prasad and Samta Prasad have opinions on almost every subject under the sun whether it is politics, cricket, Bollywood or even gulli-danda. Directed by Dr. M. Sayeed Alam and Niti Phool, this play is a laugh riot.

Tickets- Rs. 300-500. Date-June, 3, Time- 7.30 pm.

 

Entry is free. Date- June 3 and 4. Time- 7 pm.

  1. Kauwa Chala Hans Ki Chaal- Hindi DramaMuktadhara Auditorium, Bhai Veer Singh Marg, Gole Market

Jamrood Singh wins Rs. 100 crores in a contest and now wants to become Raja Jamrood Singh Kunwar. He wants to lead a good life and starts copying the other rich people around him. What happens next? This play is directed bu Shyam Kumar and will leave you in splits.

Entry free. Date- June 7, Time- 7 pm.

  1. Yeh Kotheywaliyan- Hindi Drama, Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Road

It is so easy to cast aspersions on ‘women of easy virtue’. This play, directed by Rajesh Tiwari, explores our hypocrisy towards prostitutes and courtesans.

Tickets- Rs. 300-500. Date- June 3, Time- 6.30 pm

Music and Dance

 

1.Dance Recital- IHC, Lodhi Road

Bharatnatyam dance performance by Divya Shiva Sundar. She will perform traditional Margam in Shringara rasa.

Date- June, 8. Time- 7 pm.

  1. Duet Music Performance, IHC, Lodhi Road

Hindustani classical music performance by Dhiman Chowdhury and sarod player, Mohit Pal.

Date- June 6, Time- 7 pm

3. Kuchipudi- Stein Auditorium, IHC

‘Storytelling through Kuchipudi’- a performance by Yamini Reddy

https://youtu.be/QhZ3NX8jJvo
Date- June 9, Time- 7 pm

Please make the payments for the music and dance events at the respective venues, I am not collecting them on their behalf.

Do you have information on any other events in Delhi NCR this week?Please write back to me and I shall surely list your event here.

Thank you, folks, hope to see you one of these days.

 

How much gold does this mysterious Padmanabha Swamy temple hold?

Image result for flickr Padmanabha Swamy temple

Beyond the gates of the Padmanabha Swamy temple  is a secret that nobody knows about! Very few know about this haunted destination and its mysterious past. Some people say that this temple contains an enormous amount of gold and silver. And, do you know that there is a hidden basement in this building which contains millions of dollars worth of jewels, guarded by snakes and cobras?

Won’t you be interested to know more about this interesting place?

You’d be amazed to know that this temple was unknown to millions of Indians until a few years back!. It burst upon the world travel scene one fine day, much like the pyramids of Egypt.

Where is the Padmanabha Swamy temple?

Ever been to Kerala? I am sure you have. If not, then google “Kanyakumari district”. This temple is located in this Kerala district. By the way, Kanyakumari is the southernmost point of India and is also called Cape Comorin .

$22billion and counting

Holy moly! I just discovered that this temple contains  at least $22 billion of gold in its vaults! That is a lot of money! Perhaps this money exceeds the GDP of many small nations in the world like Fiji and Pakistan. All this gold is stored in the eight vaults of this sixteenth-century temple.Perhaps, the Padmanabha Swamy temple is the wealthiest place of worship in the world. And no, we are not talking about the historical value of the jewels. If we started calculating the antique value of all this jewellery, then its value will reach trillions of dollars!

And, who made this temple?

That is a mystery. Nobody knows who made this temple. However, the locals say that the Padmanabhaswamy temple has been in existence since the start of Kalyug.  Now I will have to explain to you what the term, ‘Kalyug ‘means.

You see, in India, we divide time  into four phases depending upon the presence of virtue in the world. There are four phases, Krityug, Satyug, Dwapar Yug, and Kalyug. We define Krityug as   that phase when the world was permeated by virtue and truth. As time passed, the percentage of virtue started decreasing. Lies, deceit, greed grew in the society at the cost of truth and virtue. In Kalyug, lies, untruth and deceit rule supreme. Each phase lasts several thousand years. The current phase of Kalyug has just started ( and it has been several thousand years since the beginning of this phase ).

The temple records say that it was built on the 964th day of the beginning of Kalyug.

Padmanabhswamy temple and Sangam literature

Do you know about the Sangam literature?

No? Again google it.

This literature is very ancient in origin and history. Perhaps, it goes back to more than 2,600 years back. This literature contains records of the social history of South India and is a gold mine of knowledge and information.  You can say that the Sangam literature is a guide to improving our lives. Well, so our Padmanabha Swamy temple is mentioned in this literature several times.

 Padmanabha Swamy temple, creds: Flickr
The ‘gopuram’ or the spire of Padmanabha Swamy temple

Who is the temple is devoted to?

This ancient place of worship is devoted to Lord Vishnu who is the protector of all the virtuous people in the world. He also goes by the name, Padmanabha. This word, ‘Padmanabha’ means one who has a lotus springing from one’s navel. Many images of Lord Vishnu show him reclining on his celestial bed and a lotus flower arising from his navel.

‘Swamy’ means Lord.

 Padmanabha Swamy temple
Lord Padmanabha Swamy. Lord Bramha-creator of this Universe- is sitting atop the lotus, creds- Flickr

The temple and its treasures

Thankfully, we now know how much this temple contains gold, silver and other forms of jewellery. I will try to list some items in the temple’s inventory but list may be incomplete. Here goes:

  1. An 18-foot-long gold chain
  2. A gold sheaf weighing 500 kilograms
  3. A 36 kilo golden veil
  4. There are 1200 gold -coin chains which are encrusted with precious stones
  5. Several sacks filled with gold coins, rubies, sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, necklaces, diadems
  6. Hundreds of gold pots
  7. Crowns made of gold
  8. There is also a  dress for the deity which is made of pure gold
  9. An 800 kilo hoard of gold coins dating back to the 2nd century, B.C. The price of each of these gold coins is Rs. 2 crores , at least.
  10. A golden throne meant for the 18 feet long deity

The current market value of all this wealth is not less than $220 billion.

Now the question arises- where did all this money come from? Well, all this booty came from the tributes paid to the Lord by numerous dynasties like the Cheras, Cholas, Pandyas etc but, many offerings also came from Mesopotamia, Rome and other foreign kingdoms.

Image result for flickr Padmanabha Swamy temple
Treasures!

Much more than the British Crown Jewels

Queen Elizabeth, take a bow! The combined value of all the gems and jewellery of the Padmanabha Swamy temple is much much more than that of your Crown Jewels!

But, did I tell you this- one vault of this temple is still unopened!

The Mysterious vault B

The story of Padmanabha Swamy temple will be incomplete without talking about this mysterious vault. What does it contain? Who guards this vault? Has anyone ever opened this vault?

Image result for flickr Padmanabha Swamy temple
The mysterious Vault B

The devotees believe that this secretive room contains arms and other objects of the presiding deity. The main arm of Lord Vishnu or Padmanabhaswamy is the Chakra or a disc which has several blades. This room also contains several valuables belonging to the Lord. No one can enter this room and the doors are guarded by the images of  snakes and other terrifying animals.

Emily Gilchrist came to India in 1933. She visited Kerala that year and has recorded some details of this famous temple. Gilchrist says that some people tried to enter the Vault B in 1908. However, when they entered the cellar, they found the room infested with snakes and cobras! This event happened in 1908 and since then, entry to this secret basement has been banned.

How to reach Padmanabhaswamy Temple?

This temple is located in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of the Indian state of Kerala. Reaching the city is very easy. You can either book your flight or train to Thiruvananthapuram from any other Indian city.

If you are a train lover, then book your train by accessing this website:

www.irctc.co.in

Did you like this article and would you like to plan a trip to this temple? Please let me know so that I can help  you in this regard.

Please note one thing. If you are a non-Hindu, then you will not be able to enter this temple. However, you can still take snaps of this building from the outside.

 

 

 

 

 

Catch the Kanha National Park tigers before they go on vacation

The Kanha of Kipling

We all have grown up listening, watching or reading stories of Mowgli, isn’t it? Well, you would be surprised to know that the Mowgli stories came right out of the Kanha National Park, India.

I have no doubt that Kipling must have visited this jungle, now called the Kanha National Park. Nestling in the valleys of the Satpura Ranges, this forest is a naturalist’s delight.

Today, this park is one of the finest managed wildlife sanctuaries in Southeast Asia. The tiger conservation efforts in this jungle have really paid off well.

Image result for flickr Kanha images
These are wild dogs and they can bring down a fully grown tiger any day.

But, wait…..have you actually heard about Rudyard Kipling?Or did I assume that you actually have read him?

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist, short-story teller and novelist, non pareil.Born in Mumbai in 1865, he wrote several books and short stories for children. Kipling is mainly known for his seminal work,’ Jungle Book’ which explores the tales of Mowgli, Bagheera, Balu and many other animal characters. Many people say  that ‘JungleBook’ was inspired by Kipling’s travels in Central India! He won  the Nobel Prize for English literature in 1907.

Did Kipling write ‘Jungle Book’ while he was in India? No, Sir. He wrote this book during his stay in Vermont, United States. Kipling says that he was inspired to write this book by the stories that he heard from the officials of the Indian Forest Service.

Kanha
The Jungle Book was inspired by the stories of the Royal Bengal Tiger and Mowgli

Kanha National Park – the land of the Gonds

Kanha became a tiger reserve in the  1950s. This forest belt was earlier the habitat of the Gonds, one of the communities which inhabit Central India. Today, the Gonds live a very common life but several hundred years back, they ruled large parts of Central India. The famous Rani Durgawati was married to a Gond ruler from this area.

Kanha
What’s he looking at?

This magnificent tiger reserve is spread in the districts of Mandla and Balaghat of Madhya Pradesh.

Image result for flickr Kanha images
The Gonds at the Kanha National Park rub shoulders with tigers, wild dogs and bisons

 

Real Stories of Kanha National Park

                                                       The story of the gaur and the tiger

 

Did you hear this story of a wounded bison which was attacked by a tiger in this Park? While the bison lay hungry and bleeding, the tiger kept a watch over it, waiting for the gaur to die. But, within minutes, the cries of the gaur attracted its friends which started collecting at that spot. The tiger was forced to flee after a few young bisons attacked the tiger with their horns.

Unfortunately, the wounded bison died a few days later. But for all those days, its friends kept an eye on their fallen colleague. Isn’t this story an amazing example of friendship?

                                                                        He died to save a cheetal

Ravi Singh Thakur was forest guard at the Kanha National Park. He was young, cheerful and deeply committed to his cause. Ravi was a role model to the rest of the Park staff. He would never say no to any duty assigned to him. I am taking about him here because Ravi died saving a cheetal (deer) from drowning in a swamp. How many Ravis can you find today? Very few.

Do you know, that Kanha was notified as a reserve forest in 1878 and was declared a tiger reserve in 1933? A few years later, it was denotified as a wildlife reserve. Taking advantage of the changed conditions, the Raja of Vizianagaram shot dead 33 tigers in 4 years between 1947 and 1951. This led to a national uproar and forced the government to declare this beautiful land as a national park. 

Image may contain: outdoor
Can you spot the crocodile?

The Park’s Mascot

Kanha is the only national park in India which has an animal as a mascot. The park authorities have nominated a barasingha. a species of deer as the local mascot. The name of the mascot is Beer Singh. I think this has to do with protecting this species in Kanha National Park from the poachers.

Image result for flickr Kanha images
Beer Singh

Best time to visit Kanha

The best time to visit this amazing tiger reserve is between February and June. After June, the park is shut off to the visitors. The monsoons hit the Indian sub-continent from the end of June, the soil becomes wet and now is the right time to take the census of all the animals in the park. Once the rains are over, and this means September onwards, the Park reopens to its visitors.

So the best place to visit the Kanha National Park is NOW!

Kanha National Park
Tigers come real close to you in Kanha, but here they are resting after a hearty meal.

How to reach Kanha

The closest airport is in Jabalpur, 190 kilometers away. This city is also the nearest railhead to Kanha. From Jabalpur, you will have to take a cab to reach the Park. Be sure to reserve your room in some of the many resorts, hotels located around Kanha. You will also have to book a safari tour before reaching here. Don’t worry, one of my friends runs a safari and he will be happy to host you.

Also, Read- The affairs at the Ranthambore National Park 

If you want to book a government accommodation, click here  http://www.mponline.gov.in/Portal/Services/Forest/FinalForest/foresthome.htm

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature
The Indian bison can easily kill a full grown tiger. You can see several of them in this jungle.

Since a lot of my readers are from outside India, here is a ready reckoner to reach Kanha:

  1. Take a flight to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai or Kolkata.
  2. Book a train ticket to Jabalpur using the www.irctc.co.in . You can also book tickets via Cleartrip, Makemytrip or Yatra.
  3. Upon reaching Jabalpur, please contact your registered tour operator.

Ever seen a tiger taking a bath, watch this video,

https://www.facebook.com/saurabh.bhatnagar.581/videos/10213538770970347/

If you do not want to do all this, please contact me and I will arrange your booking. One of my good friends, Saurabh Bhatnagar runs a jungle safari tour company. He can be reached at ceo@junglewala.com

Book your slot by visiting his website www.junglewala.com

That is it, friends, I hope you enjoy your Kanha trip.

 

Pics credit- Saurabh Bhatnagar, CEO, Junglewala Safaris

 

 

 

 

Delhi Events in May 2017-Plays, Workshops, Travel and Much More

Check out this post on the various Delhi Events in May 2017. Find out the most exciting places for eating and entertainment. Unwind yourself by attending art and culture events, dramas and gigs.

Basically, have fun!

Delhi Events in May 2017
Kamani Auditorium

If you want to contribute to this list of Delhi Events in May 2017, write to me at swayamt @gmail.com and we will include in your choice in our next update.

The top Delhi Events in May 2017

Hot Gigs

1.Saturday Anthem with DJ Nyk, Privee

Nyk is a popular DJ in the Bollywood circuit. This Saturday, he brings the house down with his performance at Privee‘. Saturday performances at this club are some of the craziest gigs and sure, you can check this one up with your err..girlfriend.

Time- 10 pm onwards. Date- May 6

2. Kalpnik Bass Live with DJs Kalpnik, Gags, and Japs, Privee

Even as I am writing this, my Grammarly account is auto-correcting me all the time. Anyways, if you have missed your increments this month, dissolve your worries in this Privee event.

Time-10 pm, Date- May 5

Theatre

3. 1500 ka Dost (Hindi drama), Akshara theater, Baba KharakSingh Marg

Rediscover the meaning of friendship in this intense drama by Vayam Performing Arts Society. You know where this theater is, don’t you? It is just next door to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

Time- 4 pm and 7 pm, Date- May 7. Tickets- Rs. 200/-

4. Alice &Krishna in Wonderland (English drama), Akshara theater

A quirky take on Lord Krishna and  Alice of Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. Director Jalabala Vaidya sure has a knack of cooking up weird and quirky dramas.

Time- 6.30 pm, Date-May 6. Tickets- Rs. 250, 150

Delhi Events in May 2017
Gopal Sharman and Jalabala Vaidya of Akshara Theater

5. Toba Tek Singh (Hindi drama), Amphitheater, IHC, Lodi Road

My list of Delhi Events in May 2017 would be incomplete about this Toba Tek Singh do.

Bishan Singh is an inmate of a Lahore asylum and has to be transferred to India following an agreement between India and Pakistan. Toba Tek Singh was written by Saadat Hussain Manto in 1955 as a satire on Indo-Pak relations. This play is directed by Sunil Rawat.

Delhi Events in May 2017
Saadat Hussain Manto

Time- 7.30 pm, Date-May 5.  Tickets-Rs. 200

6. Chidiya aur Chand (Hindi drama), Shri Ram Center, Safdar Hashmi Marg

How is it like to come to terms with one’s life’s reality? Soak in this experience by attending this play directed by Vikas Bahri.

Time- 6 pm, Date- May 6. Tickets- Rs. 500, Rs. 200

7. Kaali Shalwar (Hindi drama), Shri Ram Centre, Safdar Hashmi Marg

Sultana wants to wear a particular dress on Moharram and all hell breaks loose. Why? Sultana is a prostitute. Directed by Atul Satya Kaushik, this play will move to tears.

Time- 6 pm. Date-May 7. Tickets- Rs. 500, Rs. 200.

8. Run for your life (English comedy), Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Estate

Sabby Gill is one hell of a con guy. He manages two wives because of the precise schedule that he follows as a taxi driver. But one day, his luck runs out because of an accident. What happens next?

Director- Rishi Mehta.

Time-6 pm. Date- May 7. Tickets Rs. 500/-

9.Khamosh Adalat Jari Hai (Hindi drama), IHC, Lodhi Road

Directed by Sunil Rawat, this play touches upon various issues like gender divide, hypocrisy, unfulfilled desires etc.

Time- 7.30 pm. Date- May 7. Tickets Rs. 200/-

10. Pakistan aur Alzheimer’s (Alliance Francaise), Lodhi Estate

A 90-year-old buzurg recalls his years in the pre-Partition years in a confused and haphazard way. This gentleman  suffers from Alzheimer’s’, ha ha ha. Director- Saleem Shah

Time- 7 pm. Date- May 7. Tickets- Rs. 500

Adventure

11. Exploring Lalkot, the City of Love, Chivalry, and Betrayal

Take a walk om the ancient walls of Lalkot, the second city of Delhi with me. The walk starts at 7 am and would take you through some of the unknown parts of Delhi. Would you like to take part in this adventure? Write to me and we will plan something fantastic.

Delhi Events in May 2017
The ruins of Lalkot

Music & Dance

This list of Delhi events in May 2017 will have to include these two performances:

12. Summer Ballet Festival 2017, Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg

This Bhartiya Kala Kendra Festival will showcase four dance dramas- Meera, Karna, Durga, and Khajuraho. I shall definitely go there, will you?

Date- May 5, 6, 11, and 12.

To check schedules of these programs, click here > http://www.kamaniauditorium.org/

13. A Tribute to Kishori Amonkar, Nehru Park, Chanakyapuri

Legends Girija Devi, Mithilesh K. Jha, and Pandit Vinay Mishra pay a musical tribute to one of our music goddesses, Kishori Amonkar. This event is brought to you by SPIC-MACAY and IGNCA.

Time- 6.30 pm, Date-May 5.

Please watch this video and appreciate the genius of this Devi!

 

 

 

 

Delhi events in April and May- For all those interested in travel, culture and arts

Here is a compilation of all the fun-filled Delhi events in April and May covering travel, culture, arts and music. From now on, my website will give you a weekly overview of these. Stay tuned.

Delhi events in April and May-Photography

1. Framing The Living Traditions. Venue- India International Center, Max Mueller Marg,

This event is a collaborative showcase from 5 photographers under the aegis of Neel Dongre Awards and Grants for Excellence in Photography. These photographers will present different living conditions through distinctive artistic styles.

Time and Date- Till May 2, 6.30 p.m

2. Objectif Sport, Galleries Romain Roland, Alliance Francaise

This Delhi event showcases photographs from many non-professional photographers who were invited to illustrate a sport of their country which best represented its national ethos and values. These photographs were selected in a competition among 108 photographers from 50 different countries.

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Time and Date- On until May 5, 11 am- 8 pm

Delhi events in April and May- Theater

1. A Walk in the Woods- Siri Fort, August Kranti Marg

Image result for images of Deepti Nawal
                   Relive those magical moments with Deepti Naval this week

This drama is a part of the Delhi Theatre Festival which starts from April 29. Expect some scintillating performances in this Festival from the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Rajit Kapur, Deepti Naval and Saurabh Shukla.

There are a few other performances as well like Barff, starring Saurabh Shukla and Ek Mulaqat. 

Time and Date-  2 pm, April 29-30. Some performances start at 7 pm.

2. Hello !Cab, Alliance Francaise, Lodhi Estate

What happens when a woman who has lost everything in a communal riot takes to driving radio cabs? Watch this riveting drama directed by Basab Bhattacharya.

Time and Date- 7.45 pm, April 28. Tickets cost Rs. 245/-

3. Jugaad (Hindi Comedy), LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg

Two friends, Ravi and Charkha have to lie about their marital status to get a rented accommodation. This comedy show will leave you breathless with laughter. This drama is directed by Dinesh Ahlawat.

Delhi events in April and May
                            LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg

Time and Date- 7 pm, April 29. Tickets- Rs. 300, 200 and 100

4. Kanjoos Miyan Deewane (Hindi comedy), LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg

Do you want to shake off all that stress that has built up in your head this week? How about trying this excellent comedy show that tells us about the romantic liaisons of Mirza Sakhawat with Maryam?

Time and date- 7 pm, April 29.Tickets- Rs. 500, 300, 200  and 100.

5. Noor (Hindi drama), Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Center, Lodhi Road

Watch this captivating drama of Noor and her niece, Mumtaz who maneuver their ways in a world of men and reach to the top! This drama is directed by Faisal Alkazi.

Time and date- 4.30 pm, April 29. Tickets- Rs. 200 onwards

6. Rant of the Pant (Stand up comedy), Pearey Lal Bhawan, ITO

Stand up comedian Sourabh Pant rants and rails about Trump, Modi pollution, corruption, Rahul Gandhi, other comedians, population control etc. Watch Pant bring down the audience in laughter.

Time and Date- 7, pm, April 30

7. Raavan ki Ramayan ( Hindi drama), Shri Ram Center, Safdar Hashmi Marg

Directed by Satya Kaushik, this drama has a unique take on Raavan. A just and virtuous king sets out to avenge the outrage modesty of his sister. However, on his way, he falls for the charms of an abducted woman who shows defiance and boldness in her precarious state. Ultimately, this king pushes his kingdom in a war against the will of his subjects and ministers.

Delhi events in April and May-Travel

1. Odisha Parva

If you are interested in good food, heritage, music and travel, then you should go the Odisha Parva held at the India Gate lawns. This event is organized by the Odiya Samaj and will showcase the art, craft, music, theater and other fine aspects Odisha.

Delhi events in April and May

Time and Date- 5 pm-10 pm, April 29- May 1.

Do you have an interesting Delhi event to share with me? Please write to me at swayamt@gmail.com and I shall feature it next week.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

10 most haunted places in Shimla that will make you pee in pants

One of the most haunted places in Shimla is a hundred-year-old tunnel where a British engineer committed suicide because of sheer frustration. Where is it?

Image result for images of CJM Shimla
creds- Tripoto

Ok, so you consider yourself a stud, ahaan! Let us see whether you have the balls to visit even one of these scariest places in Shimla. Ready for the challenge? Let’s go.

History of Shimla

Before we move on to discover the most haunted places in Shimla, let us delve into the history of the city. Did you know that till 1864, Shimla was the summer capital of British India? Queer, isn’t it?

Another interesting part of the history of this city is that it is associated with Pradyumna, the son of Krishna. Apparently, he had come to this part of Himalayas and after defeating Banasur, a demon became the next king.

Shimla and its adjoining areas were occupied by the Gurkhas who were later on turfed out by the British aided by some native Indian kings.

Several years ago I had visited Shimla and one night while crossing a graveyard, I experienced something sensational. I did not know who brushed past me but it has since then forced me to write about the haunted places of Shimla.

The most haunted places in Shimla

  1. The Chudail Baoree

    This dreadful place is located on the stretch of the National Highway between Chhota Shimla and Navbahar. Many people who have crossed this stretch have reported seeing an old woman wandering in the middle of the road at night and stopping drivers for a lift. This woman has long hair and wears white flowing robes. If you don’t stop your car for her, then she will chase you down the road and make you stop your car. Some people have also reported seeing her sit on top of their car bonnets and staring down at the drivers. So, if you are in the vicinity of this area, do not stop else you may crash your car.

  2. The Ghost of the Medical College

    One of the most haunted places in Shimla is a stretch of the road that leads to the Indira Gandhi Medical College or IGMC. Many years ago, in the 1960s to be precise, there was a fruit and vegetable seller who lived on that road. He sold oranges to the passers-by and was quite a happy soul. One day, he was knocked down by a passing vehicle and died. This dead fruit seller now roams this road in the night and greets the passers-by. He is a harmful soul and doesn’t harm anybody.

  3. The horseman of CJM, Shimla

    Image result for images of CJM Shimla
    One of the most haunted places in Shimla, the CJM

    Like many other schools, the Convent of Jesus and Mary is a fine school of Shimla and many parents take pride in sending their wards to this institution. But what happens on the 13th of every month in this school? You will be horrified to know that no student stays back in the school premises on the 13th of every month. Why? According to the locals, a long dead horseman visits the campus on the 13th of every month and offers a rose to whichever girl  he sees. If she accepts the rose, then the dead horseman picks her up and vanishes in the forests nearby. Many people also also believe that a small girl who was burnt to death more than 150 years ago, is seen roaming the school campus looking for her stuffed doll. Definitely, this is one of the weirdest and ghastly places in Shimla.

  4. The living dead of the IGMC

    This Medical College is swarming with ghosts, figuratively. Locals report at seeing spirits and ghosts of dead patients in this campus. Some ghosts cry out your names and when you turn back, you can’t see them. Some of them stop the lifts from working all of a sudden. There are some bad spirits too and if you are not watchful, they may trip you over

  5. (By the way, if you are still reading this story, then this real life story published in Dainik Jagran will torment you for years …….http://indianghoststories.com/tag/shimla-horror-story/ )
  6. Barog Tunnel

    IIf you are taking the toy train from Shimla to Kalka, then never ever get down at the Barog tunnel. Do you know why? The locals say that a spirit of a long dead Railway engineer roams around the entrance to this tunnel. Mr. Barog, the British engineer had committed suicide by shooting himself. Next time if you are chasing the toy train near Barog, get back into the train else, face the dead engineer’s icy stare.

  7. Another legend says that Barog committed suicide because he was unable to get the right alignment of the tunnel. According to the third legend,  during the construction of this tunnel, several workers were killed in the nights by a werewolf. When Barog went out to investigate, he found a half-human and half- wolf to be the mass murder. The official was so terrified by this sight that he committed suicide.

    most haunted places in Shimla
    The Barog Tunnel- one of the haunted places in Shimla
  8. The haunted mansion of Bayley

    Image result for images of Charleville Mansion of Shimla
    The Charlville Mansion, Shimla will make you pee in your pants

    I challenge you to take a walk to the Charleville Mansion and I am sure you will turn it down. This 150-year old heritage building was once owned by an English couple, Mrs. and Mr. Bayley. The couple moved into this house in 1913; Mr. Bayley had recently  got the job of Assistant Secretary of the Railway Board, Shimla.

A few days after they moved in, they started experiencing strange activities. One day, Mr. Bayley locked one of the rooms which he thought was the epicenter of such activities. After locking it, he went away for a few days. When he returned and reopened the ‘haunted’ room to check if everything was alright, Mr. Bayley was horrified to see everything topsy-turvy. But, this wasn’t the end of the story.

Also read- History of Shimla  

But, this wasn’t the end of the story. One day, when the Bayleys were away for a party, a strange incident happened in their house. During the night, their servant thought he saw his master was sitting in one of the rooms. When the servant called out his master, the ‘man ‘ simply walked out of the room through a locked door! Frightened, the Bayleys moved out of the ‘haunted house’ the very next day.

    7. House of Dukhani

If you still want to do more of ghost hunting then the haunted house of Dukhani will definitely scare you. Many people say that more than a hundred years back, one Mr. Bucky had committed suicide here by shooting himself. His dead spirit roams this house even today. This is one of the most haunted places in Shimla that very few would dare to go to!

I would urge you to buy this book on haunted houses written by Ruskin Bond. You will find it enjoyable.

If you are in a mood to read more about ghost stories, then read these ones:

The Most Haunted Place; Haunted Delhi

Or, Is the fort of Jodhpur haunted?

What is the story of the haunted town of Kundar?

Dare to visit the haunted village of Kuldhara?

How to reach Shimla?

Take the Kalka-Shimla train from Kalka. You can reach Kalka by taking a train from Delhi or Chandigarh. Check your train connections here: www.irctc.co.in

You can also take a bus to Shimla from the Interstate Bus Terminus,  Delhi.

Recent update- Shimla is also now open to air-traffic. You can now fly down to this city. The airport is 22 kilometers away from Shimla.

Did you like this post, folks?

I hope you did.

 

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!

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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.

Top 7 places to visit in Pune and one of them is an ashram of free sex!

One of these 7 places to visit in Pune was a “free sex ashram”, but I am not sure whether it still has the same fun quotient. Nevertheless, here is a list of 7 best places to visit in Pune for the compulsive and business travellers alike. I hope you like this post.

The top 10 places to visit in Pune

Pataleshwar Temple

Did you know that people have lived in Pune for more than 1300 years? It is said that the region around Pune was ruled by the Rashtrakutas more than a thousand years back.

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Who were the Rashtrakutas?

These guys were a part of an ancient dynasty. Some people say that the present day Rathores of Jodhpur and the rest of Rajasthan are the Rashtrakutas of the yore.

The Pataleshwar temple in Pune takes us back to the Rashtrakuta era. If you are a history enthusiast, then this is one of the places to visit in Pune. The temple is circular in shape, is made of basalt ( a volcanic rock) and houses several  idols of deities.

National Defence Academy

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Reach for the skies, say the cadets at the NDA

Are you a movie freak? If you are then do you remember a movie, ” Major Saab”? This movie that starred Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgn was shot in the campus of this Academy.

The NDA is one of the finest military colleges of not just India but the whole world and has produced some of the best leaders of  our defence forces. Please do not consider the NDA as just one of the places to visit in Pune, but if you really want to see this place, then a prior permission is necessary.

Sinhagad fort

I am sure most of you have read Amar Chitra Katha comics in your teens. Do you remember that event in history when the mother of Shivaji, Jijabai commands him to conquer the fort of Sinhagad? Yes, this is the same hallowed place.Image result for images of sinhgad

If you are super fit then why don’t you take a challenge from me? What about climbing the vertical cliff walls on whom the fort is perched? Come on, give it a try folks.

Khadakwasla

Khadakwasla is to the National Defence Academy what Hauz Khas is to the famed Indian Institute of technology in Delhi.

Actually, Khadakwasla is the site of a masonry dam and this feature makes it  as one of the tourist places in Pune. Ahead of this lake is the Sinhagad fort and on the way is the National Defence Academy.

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Khadakwasla, courtesy; Flickr

If you are fond of eating by the wayside, then you will face a problem of plenty-there are several roadside stalls that serve delectable food.

Osho Ashram

Ok, this one is a real colorful tourist attraction in Pune. This ashram or convent was started by Rajnish, the world famous guru who made America his home in the 70s. Rajnish who went by the name, Osho, espoused free sex as one of his philosophies. No wonder, within a short span of time, he found a lot of supporters in the United States.

Rajnish did not find much support in India. Nevertheless, his supporters bought up a plot of land in Pune and started a communion there. Do they still practice free sex there? I do not know.

places to visit in Pune
Osho Garden, Flickr

Osho ashram is one of the most important places to visit in Pune and  if you are in the town while reading this article then do drop in at this place. Strangers are not allowed inside the ashram but I can help you gain entry there.

You may probably like to read up on this colorful guru here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajneesh

Malshej Ghats

Do you have a girlfriend or wife? If you don’t then you will waste your time going to this place.

I insist that you go to this place only if you are in a relationship. This place is so awesome that the only feeling  that one can get is that of romance.

Ghats are steep cliffs and are prominent features of the Deccan Plateau. Much of the western coast of India is made up of Ghats.

The best time to visit Malshej ghats is during the rainy season when springs and waterfalls make this place come alive.

Tip- Take your girlfriend on a bike while going to this Pune tourist attraction.

Lonavala Lake

Honestly, I did not want to put up this place here in this list. One of the most important places to visit in Pune, Lonavala is known for not just its lake but other features as well.

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Lonavala’s Tiger Point, courtesy- Flickr

There are two hill stations, Lonavala and Khandala and each of these two stands at an elevation of 600 meters plus. Lonavala is also known for its several caves which were the resting places of various ascetics and monks several thousands of years ago.

This place is fantastic to visit during the rainy months and you must take out a car to reach it. Lonavala is 64 kilometres from Pune and 96 from Mumbai.

Do you like this post, folks?

Write to me then. Thanks for stopping by and reading this post.

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

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

What is Ram Navami?

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

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

What does ‘Navami’ mean?

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

Why is Rama the role model of Indians?

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

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

And?

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

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

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

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

Exile?

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

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Soorpanakha or the sharp nailed one attacks Sita (on the left). Flickr

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

Tell me about his family?

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

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

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Rama and his family

You were saying something about Lord Vishnu

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

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Vishnu and Lakshmi. Courtesy- Flickr

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

What evil did Rama remove?

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

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

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Ravana. Flickr

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

I see, and who was Hanuman?

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

Image result for flickr images of Hanuman
Courtesy- Flickr

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


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

Where is Ayodhya?

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

Image result for images of Ayodhya on flickr

Courtesy- Pinterest

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

Image result for images of Ayodhya on flickr
Courtesy- Flickr

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

Story telling

Things to do in Delhi- The story of the Angrez, a Sultan and the pigs

One of the most exciting things to do in Delhi this month is to attend this event sent in the ancient Mehrauli Archeological Park. Don’t miss this Delhi event.

What is this Delhi event all about?

I have deliberately kept the title of this event unique. It will be a 3-hour storytelling session about the events that have impacted the history of Delhi for the last 800 years. If you are a curious backpacker, a  business professional interested in exploring Delhi or a history student,  then this event is just right for you.

I do not simply want to burden you with a lot of information, that will be so boring for a lot of you. Instead, you will listen to  stories,  some of which are proven facts, that you will love and like to share with others.

These are stories that you haven’t read any where else, stories that will leave a hauntingly beautiful aftertaste in your minds and hearts.

But before you read the rest of this article, I would like to share a fantastic video that captures this haunted place and its wildlife. Here we go;

It is a solemn promise to you that you will love this Delhi event has been so lovingly created by me for all of you.

Quli Khan's tomb
A tomb that was used as a party hall!

Is this event really one of the most exciting things to do in Delhi?

Yes. Your tour leader will take you to some of the most bewitching and enchanting spots in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park. For example, one of the spots that we will be going is the Yogmaya Temple which is dedicated to the sister of Lord Krishna. This is a 5,000 year old place where very few visitors go to.

We will also go to see the remnants of a 1000 year old wall that is now hidden by shrubs and bushes. This journey will be a truly magical experience for the adventure enthusiasts.

After this walk, you will agree that it was truly one of the delightful things to do in Delhi.

Assembly point for this Delhi event?

Qutub Minar Metro Station, Mehrauli, Delhi, India

The Angrez (Englishman)

Who was this Angrez who has left such a deep impact on the monuments of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park?

When did he live and what was his role to play in the Mughal court of the 19th century? I am sure travelers to Delhi would like to know more about this mysterious character.

Did this English officer have a roaring affair with the Mughal Empress?

How did he party and where did he make merry?

Rajon ki Baoli
The amazing step well at Mehrauli- why was it built?

 

What was his name?

Have you seen his boat house? Or, would you like to see this opulent building? Even though it is in ruins, you will be taken back into the mists of time upon visiting this place.

And horror of horrors- why did he level out the tomb of a son of a very important lady of the Mughal khandaan?

All this  and more when we assemble at the Gate of the Qutub Minar Metro Station. Bookmark this Delhi event in your diary, now!

Metcalfe's Folly
Some monuments have a haunting story! Like this one!

The Sultan

He was unarguably one of the most stern sultans of his times. This Sultan could be very harsh with his officers who were cruel with their servants.

And he was also a man who would forgive any person who landed up at his doorstep to ask for forgiveness.

This Sultan died of grief because his most favorite son died fighting the ferocious Mongols in a battle.

Things to do in Delhi
Yes, we shall have refreshments too!

Who was this Sultan? And what did he do to Delhi’s greenery?

We will also talk about Razia Sultan who was apparently a lesbian Queen.

The Pigs

What is the hauntingly beautiful story of the pigs? Why do we see so much of them in Delhi and other cities of India? What is their connection with the ancient kings of India?

Mehrauli Archaeological Park
Yours truly explaining a point to the visitors

This Walk promises to be an excellent story telling session for all the travelers wanting to explore Delhi and her past.

If you are a History student, traveler or a backpacker, this Walk is just for you.

Time of assembly

8.45 A.M

Welcome to my parlour!
What secrets does this door hide?

Date

April, 8- 30, 2017- Please pick any day according to your schedule.

Tickets- Rs. 1,000 per person

Ticket price includes;

  • 3- hour story-telling
  • Refreshments- Tea/ Cold Drinks plus Snacks

About the Walk Leader

The walk leader, Swayam Tiwari has worked for more than 20 years in leading media companies like The Times of India, Star TV ,Dainik Bhaskar etc and runs a popular travel story website, www.ahauntedtravel.com .It  contains interesting tales about famous and not so known Indian travel destinations.Look up his awesome website to know the stuff that he shares…

Delhi event
Your walk leader )))

 

Swayam has, in the recent past, taken travelers from France, US, Canada, United Kingdom and Germany to numerous destinations in Delhi.

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

 

Swayam is not your typical travel guide; he is  a storyteller, actually.

You can look him up at @swayamt (Twitter) and Swayam Tiwari- Facebook.

 

Interested in this event? It is simple. All you have to do is reply me back and we will plan the next steps. Please write to me at swayamt@gmail.com and I shall get back to you.

What are the other interesting things  to do in Delhi?

  1. Rickshaw rides in Old Delhi
  2. A visit to Humayun’s Tomb
  3. A trip to the Northern Ridge of Delhi that has so many stories about it.
  4. And yes, discovering the lost fort of Tughlaqabad.

If you are keen in these “interesting things to do in Delhi”, please let me know and we will plan them out.

Flipboard

How Flipboard helps travel bloggers get tons of traffic to their sites

What is Flipboard?

Flipboard is a news aggregation and social network platform that has been around for more than 4 years. You can say that it marries the virtues of SM platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Medium. And yes, it has some resemblance to StumbleUpon in terms of generating traffic.

A declaration

I am a new user to Flipboard and don’t claim to be a master of this platform!

However, I would still like to share my limited understanding on this subject. I was particularly excited by a post written by WanderingwithJo . Bless you girl for this adorable post.

Flipboard is all about curated content. D you know what that means? It means putting your favorite blogs and articles in buckets. You would probably be doing similar stuff in Pinterest. You create boards or groups that you think should have amazing stuff that other people will like. Next, you add fab pictures to these boards or buckets and hope that the world will see them.

Image result for images of Flipboard
Flipboard is an amazing platform for travel bloggers

If only things were that simple…

You know what, people check out content mainly through search. Which means that unless they are checking out stuff actively, they won’t arrive on your board. So you need to think smart and figure out what subjects are people searching on Pinterest.

Image result for images of lenses
Practise search everyday!

So, the first principle to succeed on Flipboard and Pinterest is learn search.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend too much time on searching the right topics on Flipboard. There is a good number of topics already mentioned on the website.  I think with the passage of time, this platform will have a huge number of topics so it is wise to be a member of Flipboard now.

The next step is a cheesy one.

Do you run a blog? I do and probably you also have one.

So, if you are creating  a few buckets or topics, can you relate these with these buckets?

For example, I have created the following topics in my Flipboard account;

Travel Stories, Blogging Tips, Just Photos, Read Later, Historic Travel in India etc.)

Did I tell you that topics are called Magazines in Flipboard terminology?

Flipboard is all about curated content

Once you have created a manageable list of magazines, connect your related blog posts to them. For example, I have added a post on concubines  to the Travel Stories Magazine.

It isn’t over yet.


You know what? The world of blogging is populated heavily by people who want to be treated as VIPs. I will explain this.

Unless you do the following three things on this platform, there is a very little chance of succeeding on Flipboard;

    1. Follow other buckets as well.
    2. Flip ( Add) influencers’ relevant articles to your own curated Magazines.
    3. Like those  articles of influencers’ which you think add value to your reading experience.
    4. Devote at least 30 minutes per day perfecting this strategy. It isn’t going to help you in the short run, but after a week, you should be able to see the results.
    5. Create a compelling profile of yourself on Flipboard.
    6. If possible, activate the Flipboard social share button on your website.
    7. Lastly, write good content which  is pithy and has lots of images to engage your visitors. Your content should be original.

That’s it folks. I hope it helps me as it did Jo. I will keep you updated on the milestones achieved.

Update No. 1 dated April 2, 2017, 10.06 AM IST

I had promised you that I will be back with my updates. Did I get sizable traffic because of Flipboard? Here are the latest stats. Please note that I subscribed to this platform only on March 29, 2017. The upswing started from March 30 onward. Much of this spike has been due to my last and only post on Flipboard.

 

I shall come back with more updates on this.

Last but not the least, I want to help Rutavi Mehta who runs an awesome blog, www.photokatha.in for this insight. You can find ger on Facebook and is a very friendly person.

India Travel

Top historic travel sites in India that you can’t miss

Are you interested in historic travel in India? Here is my collection of those top 4 places that you simply cannot miss on your historical tour.

Chittorgarh- A historic travel site that you must visit

This is one historical place that at least I would never ever ask you to drop. Never. For me, this place is a pilgrimage to me and many other fellow Indians.

Chittorgarh brings up many emotions- nostalgia, pride, bravery, a sense of sacrifice etc.

Image result for images of Chittor

But, what is so special about this place?

Chittorgarh or Chittor is an ancient fort in Rajasthan and is roughly located 300 kilometers from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. This fort is known for the valor and sacrifice of its inhabitants. They never bowed down to any foreign conquerors and invaders- Mughal, Turk or any other nationality. Indeed, this fort signifies the unbreakable spirit of free India.

Udaipur

This is my second favorite historic travel destination. Udaipur is roughly 100 kilometers from Chittorgarh and both the cities are well connected with a wide and smooth road.

Image result for images of Udaipur

The special thing about Udaipur is that it marries history with style. While Chittor is all about history and romance, Udaipur is also about beauty. If you are young and want to get married, then Udaipur is the place for you. Find out a good hotel and get married there. It will be an experience to remember.

Hampi

To be honest, I have never been to the haunted ruins of Hampi, though I hope to visit this place one day.

Image result for images of Hampi

Hampi is the ruined capital of the medieval kingdom of Vijaynagar of India.  When you visit this city frozen in time, you can’t but help wonder at the crookedness of human nature. This city ceased to exist after the combined armies of 5 Muslim defeated Vijaynagar in a battle. The Muslims, flush with victory and overcome with the feeling of hate, destroyed this city completely. Ah, the cruelness of religion!

Hampi can be reached by road from Bangalore. It takes just 5 hours from Bangalore to reach this historic travel site.

Varanasi

Kashi or Varanasi is not just a spiritual center, it has a great historical value as well. Nobody can tell when this city came into being. Some people believe that Varanasi is as ancient as time!

Historic travel

You can reach this ancient city by either flying down from Delhi or catching an overnight train. I would recommend that you take a train, this would help you connect with the Indians in a much better way.

Delhi

Red Fort, Delhi

Last but not the least, you must have Delhi on your itinerary. This city is very old. Just the other day, I read that Delhi has had a pre-historic past. This means that people in Delhi have been living here for more than a million years! Surely, you would not like to miss this historic city, will you?

Gorakhnath temple

Why Yogi Adityanath’s Gorakhpur must be on your travel bucket list in 2017

Who is Yogi Adityanath

Yogi Adityanath is the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. He is a no non sense man and will ensure that this state becomes safe for more than a million travelers coming to UP every year. For people planning to explore offbeat destinations in UP, it is indeed good news.

He is a member of the Nath order of Hindus. This order ( sect) can be roughly equated with the  Sufis in Islam. I am drawing this comparison for the benefit of people coming from abroad to India. This comparison may not be true for sure but I hope you get the gist.

Hindus have several sects and the Nath sect is one of them. The fundamental aim of the Naths is to achieve liberation in this life itself. Members of this sect do not want to take rebirth after their death. The idea is to commit oneself to a life of goodness and virtue to avoid the cycle of birth and death.

How old is this sect?

More than a thousand years. The Naths consdider Lord Shiva as their Adi Guru or the source of their learnings and inspiration. Matsyendranath is one of the most important teachers of this sect and lived more than 1200 years ago. You can say that Yogi Matsyendranath is the founder of this sect. He was a simple fisherman who later on became the head of this sect.

Where is the headquarter of this sect?

Gorakhpur in the north-eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Ok, got it. So why have you written about Yogi Adityanath in this post? Doesn’t it make it political?

No. Many people feel that this Yogi will clean up the law and order mess of Uttar Pradesh. He is a non nonsense man and does not have any agenda. The Yogi does not have any family so we can be sure that he will not be corrupt.

Will he make Gorakhpur an attractive travel destination?

I think he will. The Yogi will have to make his home constituency attractive for travelers to UP.

For example, one of the travel destinations in Gorakhpur is Kushinagar. This place is associated with Gautam Buddha and was the site for his cremation. It is located 52 kilometers east of Gorakhpur and is a holy place for many Sri Lankans, Japanese and other people. You can say that a safer Uttar Pradesh means more visitors to Kushinagar.

Gorakhpur
Remains of Stupas in Kushinagar Wiki)

Kushinagar is one of the oldest cities in India. Many people believe that it was founded by Kush, one of the sons of Lord Rama.

Kushinagar temple
Buddha Temple, Kushinagar

What are the other places of interest in Gorakhpur?

The most important place in Gorakhpur is the Gorakhnath temple. It is devoted to Guru Gorakhnath who lived several thousands of years ago. He is one of the most important gurus of the Nath sect.

images of Gorakhnath temple के लिए चित्र परिणाम
Gorakhnath Temple (Tripdvisor)

Another important place worth visiting is the Arogya Mandir which cures people of several disabilities. If you want to learn Yoga, then this camp is suited for you. Per person fees is 11, 000 INR.

If you are spiritually inclined person then you should visit the Gita Press, publishers of several books for spiritual development. Millions of Indians read the Gita Press books for uplifting themselves from disappointment and sadness.

How to reach Gorakhpur

You can take an overnight train from Delhi to Gorakhpur. This city is well connected with Lucknow and Varanasi as well.



Holi

Holi stories- When the God of Death was trapped in a web of sex

Holi
                                             Holi Hai…

In a few days from now , the madness of Holi will sweep away almost every body in North India. If you are a traveling to India for the first time, be ready to be swept off your feet, figuratively.

Why is Holi celebrated?

There are several reasons why we go berserk on Holi.

One- Many thousands of years ago, there lived a pious boy, Prahlad. He was a good soul and had faith in Lord Vishnu. His father, Hiranyakashyap, was an evil man, though. Vishnu is one of the trimurtis in the Hindu system of worship.

Dad was hateful towards Vishnu and wanted Prahlad to worship him, rather. After all, Hiranyakashyap was the most powerful king at that time. One day, after exhausting all his efforts to persuade Prahlad from worshipping Vishnu, Hiranyakashyap asked his sister to burn up the little boy. Image result for Prahlad

Actually, Holika, his sister, had a unique power- she was immune to fire. She persuaded little Prahlad to sit in her lap and as soon as the unsuspecting boy sat up there, she lit up a fire around them.

But God is great.

Vishnu had seen through the plan and he decided to teach Holika  a lesson. While Prahlad escaped unhurt, the evil woman died in a ball of fire. This event is celebrated with much gusto by all of us in India as victory of good over evil.

Holi story no. 2

I would rather go along with this interpretation. You see, since India is an agriculture economy, Holi is an occasion when our farmers express their joy after selling their farm produce.

Image may contain: one or more people, colour
Holi Hai! Image courtesy- Sridhar Balasubramaniam
Holi story no. 3

Have you read or heard about Lord Krishna? He is famous for Bhagwad Gita, remember?

His childhood was not peaceful as there were many plots to kill him during his childhood. His maternal uncle, the King of Mathura, wanted to kill the child Krishna at all costs.

One day, Kansa i.e the uncle sent a woman demon, Pootna to suckle up child Krishna and later kill him. This woman had poison in her milk. But, Krishna had some other plans.

While he was happily feeding from Pootna’s breasts, the child Krishna strangled the unsuspecting lady demon and ended Kana’s dream of killing Krishna. Holi celebrates this occasion as well.Image result for image of Pootna

The legend of Shiva and the Lord of Love

Ha ha, this is interesting. Read on…

One day, Lord Shiva decided to go into meditation . Perhaps He had enough of solving the problems of his devotees so that is why Shiva wanted to go in for a spiritual detox.

The meditation went on and on and it seemed to people around Him that this meditation would last for eternity.

You see, Shiva is an eternal yogi and you will always see Him in the yogic pose.

The people worried that unless Shiva came out of his yoganidra , there would be utter chaos in the world.

After consulting among themselves, they decided to approach the Lord of Love, Kaamdeva. Please help us with your unique skills, they implored the God of Love.

Sure, Kaamdeva replied.

So, he approached Shiva who was immersed in his Yoga induced sleep.

Image may contain Holi
Ladies beat up a man   playfully in Barsana, India. Pic courtesy Shridhar Balasubramaniam
The web of sex

Kaamdeva is always shown with his bow and arrow. He spreads the web of desire and lust by shooting his arrow from his bow. This arrow represents desire and lust.

Kaamdeva did exactly that. He shot an arrow towards Shiva and waited with bated breath.

He waited and waited.

Finally, after a few moments, Shiva opened up his eyes. The arrow of Kaamdev had found its mark.

No, it is not proper for me to revel in those thoughts, Shiva reflected,but who is responsible for my mental turmoil?

Kaamdeva in a ball of flame

The Lord of Love was quickly spotted by the Lord of Death but what followed was disaster.

Shiva opened up his third eye and gazed in anger at Kaamdeva. Do you know what this means?

Opening of the third eye means apocalypse. Destruction. Calamity.

Image result for image of kamdev
Shiva and Kaamdeva

And this is how the Lord of Love perished.

But the world at large celebrated this event as Shiva had finally woken up from his yogic slumber. Humanity sighed a breath of relief. So this is another reason to celebrate Holi.

How do you find this post ,friends?

Varanasi-where the Lord of Death was banished

Welcome to Varanasi or the Mahashamshaan

Now this might come as a shocker to you guys. Varanasi is also called Mahashamshaan or the final resting place of humans.

Why?

You see, this city is closely associated with Lord Shiva, the God of Death. It is said that anyone who wants Moksha- liberation from Birth and Death, should come to this holy city at the time of his or her death.  That is why you see so many funeral pyres burning all the time on the ghats of Varanasi. People who are just on the verge of dying express their desire  to their friends and relatives to spend their last days in Varanasi.

Strange? Very strange indeed!

Who is Lord Shiva?

Travelers to India  may not know who Shiva is. So here is a bit of gyan to them.

You see, Indians have three main Gods. Brahma is the creator and he is also called Prajapati. Vishnu is the preserver of all things virtuous. He has several temple devoted to himself in not just India but also in many parts of South East Asia as well.

Shiva is the Lord of Death and his job is to remove and destroy all bad and deleterious things from the world.

Varanasi
Shiva- the Lord of Death

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva represent the various functions of the Supreme Almighty who is formless and has no quality.

Like Vishnu, Shiva too has several temples across India and the world.

Why is Varanasi associated with Shiva?

It is said that Banaras was founded by Lord Shiva! I have never heard of any other city in India that has been founded by God. Have you? I would love to know. Should you want to to write to me, you may send an e-mail to me at swayamt@gmail.com

Ok, let me make a tall comment- Varanasi is associated with the dawn of time! No body knows when this city was actually founded.

In Rigveda, Shiva is the source of the prime energy and the Big Bang Theory is closely associated with His creation of the Universe.

Can we say now that the origins of this city are covered in the mists of time ?

An interesting tale

There is an interesting tale as to how this city, also called as Kashi, came to be associated with Shiva. It is said that one day, the God was expelled from his home (Himalayas) by his wife, Goddess Parvati.

Upon his banishment, He came to this city with his followers and begun living there. While He lived in exile here, Shiva sent his two friends , Brahma and Vishnu to persuade the Goddess  to take him back.

After some time, Goddess Parvati allowed Lord Shiva to come back and live in the Himalayas. During all that time, his home in Himalayas was guarded by hsi two attendants- Kalbhairav and Dandapani.

I don’t believe in Moksha and all that, do you?

In fact, I have a different take on the theory of Moksha. It is this.

You and I and the rest of the world can get liberation because of knowledge. This knowledge can come to us only if we have a good guru. Since Kashi in the ancient times had a lot of gurus, many people came to this city in search of knowledge.

Over time, Kashi- the City of Light- lost its initial significance and became associated with the idea of death. I find this notion ridiculous. Do you?

Various names of Varanasi

By the way, did I tell you that Banaras is the corrupt form of Varanasi? When the Britishers came to India, they had trouble spelling this name, hence the word Banaras or Benares.

Another name of this city is Kashi which means  “the City of Light”.

My favorite name of this town is Anandvana- the forest of Bliss.

Since Lord Shiva (Rudra) resides in this forest, it is also called as “forest of Rudra”

What does  the word, Varanasi mean?

Friends, the word Varanasi is made up of two parts, Varuna and Asi. These are two rivers that merge together in this ancient holy town, hence the name Varanasi. It is much like Budapest of Hungary. Get the drift?

The City of Great Debates

In the ancient times, Varanasi was the center of knowledge and learning. This city housed men and women of the highest intellect.

Not surprisingly, these men and women were all the time engaged in debates and arguments on the finer points of life, philosophy , language etc. If some person in any other part of India had any doubt on any aspect of life, he could come to Varanasi and seek a solution.

No wonder, another name of Varanasi was “City of Light” in ancient times.

The Buddha connection

Have you heard about Gautam Buddha?

He chose Varanasi as the place for his first sermon. If you have Benares on your travel radar, then make it a point to visit Sarnath, the place where he delivered his first sermon. Preserved wonderfully well by the Archaeological Survey of India, Sarnath gives you goosebumps. Imagine, this place, Sarnath, has a history of more than 2500 years!

Varanasi

Probably he chose Varanasi as the place of his first sermon because he felt that his teachings would be easily accepted in Kashi, the land of the open minded.

City of Ghats

Now you will ask me- what are ghats? Well, my dear, ghats are stairs that lead down to the river. The river in this case is Ganga.

Varanasi is also called City of Ghats as it has a lot of them.

Images results for Varanasi
The ghats of Varanasi

Many Indians use these ghats to cremate their dead relatives. The ashes are then immersed in the river Ganga. This is o because many of us believe that this immersion liberates the soul from the cycle of Birth and Death.

Other ghats are meant for the people to bathe in the Ganga. It is quite a sight to watch the devotees take their holy dips in the river early in the morning.

Image result for images of Varanasi
Wow

The evening aarti of Maa Ganga on the ghats of Varanasi are a sight to behold. It is a surreal experience and I hope to watch that spectacle one day.

Watch this Ganga aarti on the Dashashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi;

An aarti means an invocation to God or Goddess. We consider Ganga as Maa or mother because she tends us like a mother.

Don’t stay away, more stories  on the way

I must confess, I am a compulsive storyteller, so I want you to be around….

Story No. 1-This one is about Manikarnika Ghat. Many 100,000 years ago, the wife of Lord Shiva, Parvati once wished to go over to her parents’ house to attend a ceremony. When she told her husband about her intention, Shiva advised her to not to go.

When you haven’t been invited to this party, my dear, why do you want to go, Shiva asked.

But Parvati was insistent and later left for her parents’ house.

Daksh Prajapati , her father, was not too pleased at seeing Parvati at his house. He considered Shiva as inferior to his social standing. There was no question of Daksh inviting Shiva and Parvati to his house.

Why did Daksha not invite Shiva to this ceremony?

You see, Daksh had never wanted his daughter, Parvati marrying Shiva. According to him, Shiva did not have a social standing. But she was strong willed and went ahead and later married Shiva. Daksh felt offended.

Feeling insulted, at the behavior of her dad, Parvati immolated herself at her parent’s house.

Tandava

What followed was hell and fury. The Lord of Death was enraged at seeing her wife die in such circumstances. He carried Parvati’s body and started dancing in a manner that shook the entire world.

This dance is called Tandava and represents the cosmic dance of the Lord.

Alarmed, Brahma and Vishnu, decided to calm him down. Vishnu took out his celestial discus and began dismembering the dead body of Parvati. He thought that Shiva could be calmed down this way.

One of her parts fell in Varanasi. The Manikarnika Ghat marks the exact spot where one of her body parts fell down on the earth. There is a temple that marks that spot and is called the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. This temple radiates energy and is one of the most important religious sites of the Indians.

There are several such temples in India which mark the places where the body parts of Goddess Parvati fell down.

(To be continued later)

Aghoris

Aghoris- Their 9 deadly secrets and why you must avoid them

 Image result for images of Aghoris
Who are Aghoris?

Aghoris are a set of people who worship Lord Shiva (Lord of Death) and aim to achieve simplicity in their lives. You will not find  these people easily in Indian villages and towns. Discovering an Aghori in a city like Delhi or Mumbai is nearly impossible.

For many Indians and foreigners, they conjure a feeling of awe, fear and revulsion. Thanks to the controversy generated by a CNN program, there is a new found curiosity about this secret cult.

These people can generally be found in the cremation grounds. Not all the Hindu cremation grounds have Aghoris, though. If you are lucky, you may find them either entering a pre-designated cremation ground or exiting it.

Aghoris
One of the gentlest people in the world who always pray for universal good

If you really want to see Aghoris, then you can see them in Kumbh Melas that are organized every four years in India.

Do they really eat human flesh?

It is difficult to answer this question. I haven’t seen even one Aghori consuming human flesh. But this much is certain- members of this sect interpret life and death in very simple means. For them, it is impractical to distinguish between what is pure and what is not.

Aghoris
One of the most misunderstood people in India
What is their philosophy in life?

These people lead a very simple life. Nothing is impure for them. Their needs are few and they live to attain Moksha or salvation.

Moksha means escape from the cycle of life and death. We never escape this cycle because, we are always full of desires. Aghoris are always trying to escape this web of desire.

So they practice Tantra?

Yes, they do.

Aghoris chant occult mantras that resonate with energy. It is not easy for everyone to possess that secret because in order to be powerful, one has to subsume every desire of his.

Aghoris
They can even reveal your future!

I know that mantra but won’t reveal it here and now.

Are Aghoris dangerous?

No, they are not. It is an incorrect notion that these people kill others at will and eat their flesh. No, it is not that way.

These gentle people love everything that the society detests. Rather, the operative word is ‘accept’. If we loathe a dead body, they will accept it. If we detest a leper, the Aghoris will accept the leper too.

The point is, these people defy conventional logic and wisdom and that is why, it is difficult to understand this Indian sect.

We  consider dead bodies impure but the Aghoris are ready to consume them too, for their subsistence.

What all do these people eat?

Everything that is available as long as it does not contain life. You will find an Aghori eat human excreta as well as the choicest dairy products.

They never eat cows, though.

Why do they visit the cremation grounds?

An Aghori believes that to practice tantra, the best place is the cremation ground as there is no disturbance. As part of his tantra practice, the Aghori tries to understand death and the migration of the human soul.

Is it possible to speak with the spirit of a dead human being?

Is it also possible to bring the dead back to life?

These are just a few questions that always trouble an Aghori.

Why is an Aghori always angry?

This is not true. He sports and angry visage to discourage common people to come near him.

Though his eyes are always red, the Aghori has always words of reassurance when when he speaks.

Which are the most important places in India for Aghoris?

There are 3 main cremation grounds  for these people to pray and practice tantra;

  1. Kamakhya Devi temple cremation grounds n Assam
  2. Tarapeeth cremation grounds near Kolkata, Bengal
  3. The cremation grounds of Rajrappa

To sum up, the Aghoris are not at all a dangerous set of people. They practice tantra to achieve Moksha and do not believe in discriminating between ‘pure’ and ‘impure’ things.

For them, every thing can be eaten for subsistence, except the flesh of the cow.

Watch this video to get a sneak peek into the world of Aghoris.

 

 

 

Delhi travel-Begums,Concubines,Maids and their affairs-Red Fort Stories

This Delhi travel post is all about storytelling. If you want to know more about the Great Mughals, then join me on this tour.

Red Fort Delhi

Are you planning to travel to Delhi? Then let me make your Delhi travel experience a little more memorable with this post.

Interested? Read on…

Venue
Red  Fort, Delhi
Delhi travel
With a few of my guests at Red Fort, Delhi
What’s on offer?

Listen to the untold stories of the Mughal emperors, their princes, princesses and other members of their family. You won’t find these stories in the various guide books such as Lonely Planet etc.

Delhi travel
That’s yours truly in one of the storytelling sessions

Still interested?Wow, this means I have captured your attention. Read on to know more about the offer in this Delhi travel package…

Do you know that there was a Mughal king who had more than 700 wives and concubines and wanted a fresh girl every day to satisfy his lust? Ummm..is not that interesting?

Delhi travel
Sonia from Chicago, found the Spice market absolutely riveting

Who was that Mughal prince who gave up his life for the love of his wife? He did not want to marry again and was steadfast in his loyalty to his only wife.

The strange case of the Mughal princess who had had her own poetry sessions in the lawns of the Delhi Red Fort. She was later imprisoned by her father and died a lonely death in the imperial jail. Who was she?

 

O breakfast of the Emperor, look at me

The Mughal Emperor Shahjahan who built this magnificent building more than 350 years ago, had a glad eye towards women. Who was that woman who was titled, ” Breakfast of the Emperor” and what fate had befallen upon her in the harem?

Jamali Kamali tomb
The Sufi and his lover sleep here; Jamali Kamali tomb in Mehrauli

 

Malls of lust…

Hear me share delightful and untold stories about the Mughal harem. Do you know what a harem means? It was a big place that housed the begums, concubines, princesses and of course the maids.

Delhi travel
A trader sells “jalebis” in Old Delhi, it is yummy
The story of the dog and the ass

Wow, you won’t believe that in the 18th century, there lived a begum ( wife of the king) who had had a secret affair with a eunuch! Now how can that be possible, ladies and gentlemen? Well, these are the stories my Delhi travel package is all about.

There are more stories on the anvil and all this is just a fraction of them.

Package includes
  • Trip to Red Fort, Delhi
  • A cycle rickshaw ride in the bye-lanes of Old Delhi
  • We also walk through the biggest spice market of Asia, the Khari Baoli market
  • If your constitution permits, we shall have some street food as well.
Price

Rs. 1,500 per person. Children below 12 years come free.Payment can be made in cash, at the end of the trip.

Ticket Price does not include
  • Your conveyance to the point of assembly (Red Fort Ticket Counter)
  • Entry ticket to the Red Fort
  • Any curios that you might want to buy
  • Cycle rickshaw ride cost
  • Any object that you may want to buy in the market
Ticket Price INCLUDES
  • Snacks ( Tea/ coffee plus samosas/ sandwiches etc.)
Timings

10 a.m. The duration will exceed 5 hours.

Delhi travel
This temple in Chandni Chowk has an interesting story behind it, what is that?

You may contact me at 9810840763 if you are interested in this package. Alternately, please send me an email at swayamt@gmail.com and I will be happy to connect.

Please note that Red Fort is closed on Mondays and a few government holidays.

Kindly give me an advance notice ( 24 hours or before) so that we can stitch things up nicely.

Thanks and bye.

 

 

Surajkund Mela

Surajkund Mela – A Photoblog for travelers visiting Delhi

The Surajkund Mela 2017 for you in pictures. For foreign  travelers visiting India around this time , this is the place to go to and take pictures. You will find a riot of colors, some out of the world folk music and dance and a lot of happy people.

Colors galore at Surajkund Mela 2017
Surajkund Mela
You will immerse  yourself in a sea of colors in this Mela

 

 

Surajkund Mela
Click me, please
Surajkund 2017
We could not resist a cuppa

We just could not resist starting our tour of the Surajkund Mela with a cup of chai. Ha, I am sure even you too would do the same which we did!

Surajkund Mela
This Panditji is prescribing something for his bhakts.

“Be pure, buy pure’, is the message of this jolly Panditji here.  I agree with him. Do you?

Surajkund Mela
Up in the sky….

You can’t help looking in amazement at the gateway to this fair. This image represents the traditional icons of Chhattisgarh, one of the states  participating in the Surajkund Mela.

Surajkund Mela
India is the land of music

If you try to escape music, it will find you somewhere. And , we have lots of music. Why don’t you check out the Surajkund Mela to find out the kind of music these people are playing?

The amazing life of the Banjaras

We found a group of nomads, called Banjaras, in this fair. They have lived in bullock carts for more than 450 years now.

Surajkund Mela
These are the Banjaras or nomads from Rajasthan

These people are also called Gadia Lohars, meaning iron smiths who live in their caravans. I have written a post on them elsewhere in this blog.

Surajkund Mela
Trifle disappointed to see this child in just whites!

Us Indians have this crazy habit of smiling at any random stranger and this child is no stranger to this phenomenon.

Surajkund Mela
Close by, Lord Ganesha enjoys the show!

 Lord Ganesha rides a mouse and is one of the most lovable gods in India and we invoke his blessings before very initiative.

Surajkund Mela
Isn’t he handsome?

 Our artisans and craftsmen work really very hard and use a lot of creativity to bring such statues to life!

Surajkund Mela
Are they gambling?

I thought of joining these well dressed village folk but realized, I did not have enough money…Ha ha ha

Surajkund Mela
Aha, the joys of dancing!

You have time till February 15 to be a part of this spectacle. Don’t miss this show.

Surajkund Mela
Would you want to join them?

These lovely women are from the Indian state of Jharkhand.

Surajkund Mela
Thanks for clicking me! Musicians from Jharkhand

If you are planning to travel to offbeat destinations in India, then Jharkhand is the place to be in.

Surajkund Mela
That’s me with Mr. Ravan

This gentleman is one Mr. Mohammad and  plays the role of Ravan in Ramleelas. Thank you Sir, for posing with me.

Surajkund Mela
Ha Ha Ha

I have never had a photo of myself like this….

Surajkund Mela
That’s a lot of colors, really
Surajkund Mela
Enjoy the cup of life!
Surajkund Mela
Some selfies are mandatory

No, I don’t like myself as I am all puffed up!

That’s it all folks, thank you.

Delhi photoblog

Delhi photoblog-the city comes to life

My mobile camera encouraged me to do a Delhi photoblog  while coming back from the Red Fort last Sunday. Since a large number of my readers live outside India ( I hate the term ‘foreigners’) , a photoblog like this one would be in order for them. Many of them see Delhi through the eyes of tourist places and hotels and they do not get to see how people in India actually live their lives.

Let me know if you like this Delhi photoblog. It would be better if you suggested improvements. Some pics are crappy, but I am not  a professional photographer, you see.

Delhi photoblog
The Lodhi  Colony Art District

The staid government colony, Lodhi colony, is undergoing an image makeover these days. Graffiti is making this habitat an interesting place for the backpackers.

Whomsoever has planned and executed this project deserves my kudos.

Speaking of doors, I found this one..isn’t it pretty?

Delhi photoblog
Can you imagine the age of this beautiful door? My guess is it is more than 220 years old.
Delhi photoblog
Is she a goddess or is she a beautiful girl?

Can you guess who she is? I think she is a working woman. Carrying her child on her back, she is seen flitting from home to school to back to home. She can be found in places as diverse as New York, Nigeria, Japan or Delhi.No?

Delhi photoblog
This lady reminds me of the American Indians

What is the grandmother saying? Can you guess? Perhaps, she is pleading to save the environment. “Save trees.”

Delhi photoblog
Delhi has never looked this beautiful

Yes, the ladies need to be fearless. Whether young or old, they should look the world into its eye.

Mornings=Tea Time

Delhi Photoblog
Chai, Chai

Delhi photoblog would be incomplete without this picture. Our mornings begin with chai. This chaiwalla uncle is preparing tea for his guests. I am calling this gentleman an uncle because he is  a little younger than my dad.

The most famous chaiwalla ( tea-seller) of India is our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. He used to sell tea in the trains and railway stations in his teens.

Delhi photoblog
A chaiwalla brews up some excellent tea

This is paradise my friends, paradise. If you like this photo, the credit goes to my Gionee camera.

Bliss!

Delhi photoblog
She too is a mother. Don’t you dare touch my kids, she is saying

My kids would have hijacked some of these pups had they been around ;)))

Morning News !

Elsewhere, a gent is catching up on some morning news.

Delhi photoblog
The printed word still is still trusted by many when it comes to news.

Setting up shop

Delhi photoblog
A panoply of colors

Can you imagine India without color? I took this snap when a shopkeeper had just opened up his stall to sell bangles. Gods and bangles jostle for space in this stall.

Delhi photoblog
The spice seller at Chandni Chowk

India has always been known as the land of spices. I read in my history classes that the Romans and Egyptians used to trade their bullion for our spices which is not a bad deal after all!

Sharing is caring

Delhi photoblog
Many Indians start their morning by sharing their foods with animals

We share our spaces, roads, homes and even food with animals and I hope you like this photo from the Delhi photoblog.

Color my skies

Elsewhere, our skies were getting ready to welcome their guests- the kites.

Delhi photoblog
This was the first time Delhi played host to an international kite flying festival

People in Delhi fly kites on January 26th and August 15 but this was the first time that kite flying  was promoted on an international scale in the city. Good effort but a lot of distance to cover.

If you were around, you could have bought a few puppets as well  in the festival.

Delhi photoblog
Puppets have their own tales to tell

Kathputlis or puppets are dying in Delhi. When I was young, I could see many puppeteers around and telling stories about folk heroes through the kathputlis. Video  and mobile games have replaced this popular form of entertainment and alas, our kids don’t know much about this craft. Puppeteers use their hands and voice skilfully to recount ancient tales of folk heroes and heroines.

Delhi photoblog
This joker was balancing dominoes as part of his entertainment duties

A jeep hauls up a heavy kite!

Delhi photoblog

I have flown kites when I was in teens  but never knew that some of them need to be hauled up by jeeps!

Have you ever flown kites?

Jallikattu Story

The Jallikattu Story-Of unending traditions and animal welfare

The Jallikattu Story is an interesting reading material for all those interested in India’s hoary traditions. This one has more than 2, 500 years of history behind it.Read it to understand how a lovely tradition changed for the worse.

What is the Jallikattu Story?

Jallikattu refers to the age old practice of embracing the bulls by people of Tamil Nadu. This practice is a sight to watch during Pongal.

Can I see how this Jallikattu thing is played out?

Sure, watch the video.

What is Pongal?

The Pongal season marks the arrival of the fresh crop in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

But, heck, what is the connection between Jallikattu and Pongal?

Since ancient times, Indians have used oxen and bulls for farming purposes. Jallikattu provides the reason for the farmers to thank their animals.

Jallikattu Story
The bulls are thanked on Pongal

But, why is the Jallikattu Story creating such a ruckus?

You see, over a period of time, people started using their bulls in a wrong way. Rather than thanking them , the farmers started using the occasion as a spectator sport.

So, what is wrong in that?

Good question. What went wrong in the Jallikattu Story was that animals began to be teased, agitated and beaten in such fairs. The bulls and oxen were fed with great food and on Pongal, were used by the villagers as toys. The animals were caged in closed places and teased so much that they had to escape from the hordes of people.

Jallikattu Story
Over the years, the lovely tradition of Jallikattu has changed to one of animal bashing.

Sometimes, the bulls escape to busy  roads and other inhabited places and this scares the drivers of the vehicles.

Did the animals die in this Jallikattu Story?

An emphatic no. There is  no record of any animal dying because of this practice. However, according to PETA, more than 1, 000 people have been injured because of trampling by the animals.

Got it. So, how do you prevent this cruelty to the animals?

The Supreme Court of India has ordered a ban on this inhuman practice. Not surprisingly, the people of Tamil Nadu have opposed this ban.

They say that the Jallikattu tradition has been in vogue for more than 2,500 years. It also helps the state get tourists and also helps in breeding superior quality of milch cattle.

Really?2,500 years?You must be joking!

No way. Here is an image of an ancient sculpture of Jallikattu.

Jallikattu Story
This image which is more than 2,500 years old shows the practice of Jallikattu

But, so many people kill animals for food. Is that not cruelty?

It is, definitely. I have seen so many birds and animals dying a slow and painful death in the name of religion! And here, PETA, one of the petitioners has failed to establish that Jallikattu leads to animal deaths!

So, when is Pongal?

Tomorrow, i.e. January 14th, Saturday!

Holy Moly, isn’t it also Makar Sankranti day?

Yes, indeed. In North India, Makar Sankranti means flying kites, but the underlying reason is the same- new harvest!

India Travel

India Story- This man cycled more than 6000 miles to meet his love

This is the fantastic India Story of a poor man from Odisha who cycled thousands of kilometres from his village to Sweden- just to meet his lover, who was a Swedish princess. At the outset, I will like to express my thanks to Nelson singh who has permitted me to use his photographs in this article.

India Story- Meet Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia

The hero this story is Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia who was born in 1949, just a couple of years after India gained her independence from the Britishers. Mahanandia came from the Dhenkanal district of Odisha. This district was and is one of the most impoverished regions of not just Odisha , but the entire country as well.

To make matters worse, Pradyumna’s family belonged to the lower strata of the society. His parents were extremely poor and ranked low in the social pecking order. The rest of the villagers avoided all social contact with Pradyumna and his family. The family members had to subsist on meagre rations. How tragic is this India Story? Ironically, the word ‘Pradyumna’ is also the name of the son of Lord Krishna.

Off to the Art Schools

In the early 1970s, Pradyumna gained admission to one of the best universities in India- the Vishwabharati University. Unfortunately, he did not have enough money to pay the tuition fees and had to come back to his impoverished village. Life was very painful for him.

A few months later , he got admission into an Odisha college but again, he was unable to fund his education.

Finally, lady luck smiled upon him and he got an admission to the College of Art in Delhi. It seemed, the poor lad from Odisha had found his bearing. Ladies and gentlemen, this India Story isn’t over yet.

Portraits, Portraits

The young man from Odisha had to struggle a lot in Delhi to carve out a living. He liked making portraits of people and found Connaught  Place  (now Rajiv Chowk) as the best place to find his subjects. Connaught Place was in the centre of the city, had lots of people and was also close to his college. Not surprisingly, he found many clients in this beautiful place that still oozes a lot of old world charm.

Pradyumna meets his lady love-the princess of Sweden

One day, while he was engrossed in his work, a beautiful young woman came up to him. Her name was Charlotte and she was visiting India as a traveller. Charlotte had heard about Pradyumna and wanted him to create a portrait for her.

You can’t imagine what happened in the next few minutes…both of them fell in love. Isn’t this India Story enchanting?A princess falling in love with a poor, out caste man! Haa…I wish, a princess would have found me out too…ha ha ha;))

Marriage and then separation…

Of course, the two married and the princess offered to take her new husband back to Sweden, to a life of luxury and comfort. But, our hero would have none of it. He was determined to stay back in India and fund his way for travel to Sweden.

India Story
Love is not limited by boundaries

The distraught princess , after much cajoling, left for Sweden in the fond hope that she and her husband would be soon reunited. Our hero, Pradyumna , refreshed by this marriage, went back to his work, determined that he would earn enough to see his lover once again.

Keeping in Touch

The two kept in touch with letters. There was no internet in those days so you can forget about e-mail and WhatsApp. Dear readers, please imagine the intensity of love between the two; writing a letter, posting it and waiting for the other person’s reply ! In those days, a letter from Sweden would take 14 days to reach India and vice versa. My salute to them.

Can’t bear without her..

A few months after Charlotte’s departure, Pradyumna started pining for her. He could not bear her absence. Pradyumna wanted to be with his wife-the beautiful Charlotte- at all cost.

But the poor artiste did not have enough money to fly down to Sweden! What to do?

No problem, I will cycle down

And yes, dear readers, Pradyumna took a very difficult decision. He took out his ramshackle bicycle and decided to ride down to Sweden ! His friends and well wishers tried to convince him not to do this crazy thing but, what can you do when your heart is possessed with infinite love!

With prayers on his lips and love in his heart, Pradyumna began his dangerous and arduous journey to meet his lady love. He travelled through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Central Europe and many other countries before reaching Sweden. It is easy to list down all these countries here but very , very difficult to imagine the pain that he experienced in his journey.

India Story
It took  Pradyumna 4 months to travel to Sweden from India!

His cycle broke down several times.

He had no money to buy food and clothes.

Many people thought he was a spy.

His body would have ached a million times on the way.

He did not know where he could get a shelter.

HE DID NOT KNOW WHETHER HIS WIFE WOULD ACCEPT HIM OR NOT…..

Sweden…

After four months of painful, arduous and dangerous travel, Pradyumna reached Sweden.He did not know any Swede there. This was an alien country for the poor artiste from Odisha and he did not know what to do next. Nobody seemed to know English and for our lover here, the situation was quite pathetic.

It had taken him 4 months to ride down to Sweden and all that he wanted was to meet his wife.

Did the lovers meet?

The Swedish immigration officials promptly arrested him upon his arrival in Sweden. They thought he was a spy. He told them he was a lover. The Swedish princess was his wife and her name was Charlotte.The police was unconvinced.

Our boy from Odisha had to spend some anxious moments in Sweden before Charlotte was told by her friends of Pradyumna’s arrival in Sweden .

What……, she was overjoyed and surprised. Pradyumna has come to meet me riding a cycle! Oh, my goodness!

And you know guys, what happened next?

Reunion of the two lovebirds!!!!!!

Post Script

Pradyumna and Charulata (Charlotte) now live in Sweden. They are a happy couple and have been blessed with beautiful kids. It has been more than 45 years that the couple has been living in Sweden. I wish them well.

Our man from Odisha is now a cultural ambassador of India to Sweden. He is a much loved and respected person there. He runs a Facebook page too.

Delhi Ghost Walks

Join this haunted buildings tour of Delhi and face the ghosts eye to eye

We had called this tour, the haunted buildings tour of Mehrauli! The day chosen for this tour was perfect- December 25. The sky was overcast and a heavy fog lay over the city. Indeed, the weather gods had conspired among themselves to really make December 25, a  haunted day!The idea was to visit the various haunted places in the Mehrauli Archaeological Area.

 

The  Qutub Minar was enveloped by a thick blanket of fog and it appeared to me to be  some kind of a scary building

Delhi Haunted Tour
The famous Mehrauli landmark was covered by a thick fog

Do you know about the Qutub Minar? It is one of the tallest historical structures in India. 

The haunted buildings tour in Mehrauli

 

I have been to the Mehrauli Park several times in the past.

All alone.

Immersed in my thoughts. But, what made this haunted buildings tour special was that here, I was a part of an audience. I just wanted to be a listener and get lost in the stories of the haunted places of Mehrauli.

 

I just wanted to be a listener and an onlooker. No comments, no gyan, but just a soaker of stories.

 

The tour organizer was the enthu duo of Ritesh Datta- Sushmita. These guys are bubbly and full of energy, warmth and good humor. And boy, did they do their job well? Yes, most certainly, they did.They actually made this Delhi Haunted Tour come alive!

The haunted Mehrauli Archaeological Park can be accessed with a gate that is always open. There are no tickets. If you are on the Mehrauli- Gurgaon Road, you will find that gate. It is diagonally opposite to the Qutub Minar Metro Station, though you will have to walk approximately 200 meters.

The haunted house of Balban

 

The first building that we visited in the Haunted Tour was the grave of Balban. Sushmita told us that the grave indeed is haunted and is infested with spirits and ghosts.

Sushmita told us that the grave indeed is haunted and is infested with spirits and ghosts.

Can we have the photographs, please?

Haunted Tour
Sushmita-our Tour Guide

The photo was taken by an iPhone camera.

This is the grave.

Haunted Tour
Balban’s Tomb

But, who the hell was Balban?

 

History tells us that this Sultan of Delhi was a murderous soul. He was much like Count Dracula of Romania.

People say his grave is haunted. If someone bows his head in front of the grave then that fellow loses his life shortly. Do you believe it?

The inscriptions that you see in black send out an inexplicable aroma in the air. Nobody knows who paints those letters in black, It is a mystery. Can you read those letters? I can not because they are in Farsi and all I can read is either English or Hindi.

If you want to know more on Balban, click here.

People say that the 80 year old Sultan used to hold his court in this haunted house.

Much like his stern personality, his tomb is also a grim structure.

Haunted Tour
A cold Sultan has a cold grave for company

Now have a look at these circular holes. These carried djinns in small pitchers! Can you believe it?

haunted buildings
Where did the djinns escape to?

I would not have known all this if I hadn’t joined this haunted buildings tour, I bet.

Haunted Buildings Tour ‘s next destination -Jamali Kamali

 

If you are alone, do not enter this place in the dark. The tomb of Jamali Kamali is also said to be spooked. The weather added to the spookiness of the entire haunted complex.

haunted buildings
The Sufi and his lover sleep here; Jamali Kamali tomb

Much has been written about this ghostly place, but very few know about Jamali and Kamali. My theory is that they were a teacher and pupil duo who loved each other and died in each other’s arms.

Both of them were men.

Is it spooked? Nobody in this haunted trip had any answer, to be honest.

 There is a theory which says that unfriendly ghosts will get you if they are disturbed in their resting places.

Apparently, a paranormal scientist had woken up a sleeping Djinn here and this made the man commit suicide!

Read here of his death!

The Jamali Kamali tomb is a fine building, all things considered.

Haunted Tour
The facade of the  haunted Jamali Kamali mosque
Haunted Tour
A sunflower adorns the top of the gate
Haunted Tour
At the Jamali Kamali Tomb. Are these guys aware that there might be ghosts nearby?

While I was listening to the haunted history of this mosque, my friends were readying their equipment for their shoots.

But, who was Jamali and who was Kamali?

 

This was the question uppermost in the minds of the Delhi haunted buildings tour members.

There are many opinions about the origin of Jamali and Kamali.Some people say that Jamali was a Muslim poet who lived in the court of one of the Sultans of Delhi. When this Sultan lost in a battle, the poet shifted his loyalty to the winning king. The winning King built this mausoleum for the poet.

Nobody knows for sure who was Kamali. Some say that he was a homosexual partner of Jamali. Others think Kamali was the wife of Jamali. If you know who were they, please let me know.

Also read-Maheshwar, Varanasi of Madhya Pradesh

The Jamali Kamali complex was built in the 1500s and Balban’s  was built in the late 1200s but both these buildings are separated by a narrow street.

The Angrez  and the swimming pool

 

The Britishers became the masters of Delhi in the middle of the 19th century. One of them was a colorful character. His name was Thomas Metcalfe and he was a great host for his guests.When he was not working, Metcalfe used to enjoy the Delhi summers lounging in the swimming pool or the Hauz that he had made for himself.

Haunted Tour
The Metcalfe Hauz

Thomas Metcalfe was the younger brother of Charles Metcalfe, who was a senior officer in the East India Company. The junior Metcalfe was made by his brother the agent of the Company in the Mughal court.

Thomas made sure he lived his life 100 % while being the English agent to the Mughal court. He converted some important Mughal buildings into pleasure houses and this made the Mughals very angry.

One such pleasure house that was built in Mehrauli by Metcalfe was the Dilkusha ( pleasing the heart).

The Junior  Queen of the then Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar was very angry at these developments. Many people suspect that she poisoned  Mr. Metcalfe to his death. He lies buried in an old part of Delhi near the present day Inter State Bus Terminus at the Kashmiri Gate.

Is Dilkusha haunted? I think so because whenever I have passed by this building, I have experienced queer sensations. Sometimes, I have felt as if long dead people in these haunted places are calling out to me.

More haunted places

 

There are several other haunted houses in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park. For example, the Boat House built by Metcalfe always has some rose petals sprinkled in its doorway.

Delhi Ghost Tour
Boathouse, Mehrauli

Another ghostly house in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park is this one:

This then brings us to the end of the Delhi Ghost Tour of Mehrauli.

I hope you liked it.

By the way, if you want me to take you around on a Delhi ghost tour, please write back to me.

Thanks for reading the post.

 

most amazing travel destinations- Allahabad, the city of the dropped nectar

One of the most amazing travel destinations in India is Prayag or Sangam. Though, there are several places to visit in India, I would say that this one of the places you must visit if you are in India during January. The city plays host to one of the most important Indian festivals– Magh Mela.

Allahabad has a long story behind it. After reading it you will understand why the city is one of the many places of interest to not just Indians but many foreign travellers as well.

The story of Allahabad or Prayag or Sangam

The city is as old as, if not older than Benares. Legends say that the creator of the universe, Bramha offered his first sacrifice at Prayag. Brahma is one of the three Gods in the Hindu civilization. So you can imagine why this town is so important to many Indians.

Another name of Allahabad is Sangam, meaning the place where there is a meeting of three rivers- Ganga, Yamuna and the Saraswati. While the first two can be seen mingling into each other, the Saraswati is a mythical river, an ‘invisible’one.

most amazing travel destinations
Millions of Indians visit the Sangam to was away their  sins

Nobody knows who founded the city. It is a secret to many of us living here in India. What we do know is that many historical characters are associated with Prayag. Lord Rama, the hero of Ramayana is believed to have visited this city . He lived more than 10, 000 years ago, many Hindus believe. Rama spent his time in the ashram of Sage Bharadwaj. An ashram is like a hostel. This ashram still exists in the heart of the city and is one of the places of interest. No wonder, Allahabad is one of the most amazing travel destinations in the world.

Akshay Vat- The Indestructible Tree

In Allahabad there is an ancient tree, Akshay Vat, which has survived  thousands of years . In the 16 th century, a Mughal emperor, Jahangir tried to burn it down. However, it survived. If you want to visit this tree, you will have to take the permission of the Army. The tree is within a fort controlled by the Army.

most amazing travel destinations
Akshay Vat has survived for more than 5000 years. courtesy Panoramio

For the archaeologist, Allahabad is treasure trove for Iron Age artefacts.

Have you read  about King Yayati? Read on because Allahabad is closely related to this king.

The story of Yayati

Yayati was the king of the entire  world and the son of Nahusha. As was the practice those days, one day Yayati went hunting. He saw the girl of a famous Rishi and married her. Her name was Devyani.

Devyani had a friend , Sharmishtha who was equally pretty. Yayati fell for her too.. When Devyani came to know about it, she complained to her father, Rishi Shukracharya. The Rishi was livid. He felt insulted by the king’s behaviour. The Rishi cursed the king and made him an old man. Yayati was crestfallen as he had just begun to enjoy his life.

Yayati wants to enjoy youth

The king had five sons. He approached each one of them , asking for their youth. But, except for Puru, his youngest son, nobody wanted to their youth and vitality with the king’s old age. Puru, on the other hand was ready to see his father young again. Yayati was mightily pleased with Puru. After a few days os enjoying his new found youth, Yayati came back to Puru and took back his old age from his son. Now it was the turn of Yayati to make his son happy. Puru got his dad’s kingdom. In due course, the young prince, Puru founded the dynasty of Pauravas, an important kingdom in India. The Pauravas or the Kauravas are the central figures in India’s epic , Mahabharata.

From Hastinapur to Allahabad

The Pauravas ruled from Hastinapur, until it was destroyed by floods a few thousands of years back. After the town was destroyed, they came back to Prayag and established their new capital at Kaushanbi, which is 40 kilometres from Prayag. If you  plan  a trip to India , include Kaushambi in your itinerary.

The Mauryan Connection

If you are a history aficionado. Allahabad is one of the places to visit in India . It is one of the Mauryan sites where the Mauryan king, Ashoka had erected one of his pillars .

And the Guptas too

Prayag was an important city during the reign of the Guptas too. One of the Gupta kings, Samudragupta , had spent a lot of his time here.

most amazing travel destinations
The Ashoka Pillar carries inscriptions of 3 kings- Ashoka, Samudragupta and Jehangir. credits Wiki

The Magh Mela

Every year in January, millions of Indians converge on the banks of Ganga and celebrate Magh Mela. Magh is an Indian word for January and Mela means festival.

most amazing travel destinations
Magh Mela starts January onwards. Credits- Pinterest

When the Sun starts its annual journey towards the Tropic of Cancer , Indians celebrate this ritual by bathing in the Ganga. For us, it is a season of happiness and hope. This is a  period  of fasting and praying. The Mela grounds near the Ganga have a surreal feeling around them. This festival goes on for the next 14 days.

 

most amazing travel destinations
Devotees spend the next one month fasting and praying. courtesy International Business Times

Allahabad also hosts the Kumbh Mela, a festival that draws tens of millions of people to these grounds. Amazing, isn’t it?

The story of Kumbh Mela

Allahabad marks one of the spots where a few drops of the holy nectar spilled down from a vessel carried by Garuda. The celestial carrier of Vishnu  was trying to take away the nectar from the asuras, enemies of the devas.

There are so many interesting stories  about this ancient place. Alas, I cannot share all of them with you but, I hope you are now sufficiently motivated to travel to this place.

The best time to travel to Allahabad is January.

How to reach Allahabad

Check out the various trains from Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata to Allahabad at this site . This is a Government of India website and is absolutely trustworthy.

There are flight options too but they are expensive.

If you are planning to travel to several places in India like Agra and Varanasi, I would recommend you to take a cab to Allahabad. It is just 250 kilometers from Benares.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Rajasthan offbeat destination

Rajasthan offbeat destination- Mesmerizing Menal awaits you

Rajasthan offbeat destination
                                                             Magnificent Menal

This  Rajasthan offbeat destination at Menal will simply floor you with its delights.

Dear readers, I have written  about another Rajasthan offbeat destination in one of my earlier posts as well but Menal is simply out of the world.

Menal is located roughly 90 kilometers from Chittorgarh  on the road to Bundi. It is also known as ‘Khajuraho of Rajasthan’. There is another great  Rajasthan  destination that has the same title- Jagat. When you reach Menal you will understand why this place makes you remember Khajuraho, this place is astoundingly beautiful.

Rajasthan offbeat destination

 

Menal is the corrupted form of ‘Mahanal’ or the ‘Great Gorge’. As you drive on the road from Kota towards the temple complex at Menal, you can hear the sound of a river rushing alongside. You simply cannot escape its roar. The river follows you as an invisible friend , hidden in the jungle that lines the road.

At Menal, the river descends 100 meters down with a deafening roar.After the descent, the water splits into a number of small streams that run over the granitic floor.

Rajasthan Offbeat Destination

At this Menal be prepared for a visual feast of verdant hills, water and a temple complex that is more than 1000 years old!The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva.

Rajasthan offbeat Destination
Nandi, the loyal secretary of Lor Dhiva

Experts say that this temple complex was built by the Chahmans or Chauhans. This was a dynasty that ruled large parts of Central and Western India. The king who made this temple was Someshwar. The main part of this temple complex is on the left bank of the gorge and was built by the king. His wife had a monastery built for the monks on the other side of the river. Her name was Suhavadevi and she belonged to the Shakambhari dynasty.

Rajasthan offbeat destination

 

The Menal complex has some amazing images of young ladies such as this one.

Rajasthan offbeat destination

The Khajuraho connect can be seen here

Rajastha offbeat destination
Carvings at the Mahanal Temple in Menal, Rajasthan, India, Asia

The Chauhans were ferocious fighters and were most of the times engaged in fratricide with fellow rulers. The most famous Chauhan was Prithviraj Chauhan who is considered by many as the king of Delhi and Ajmer. I have written a post on his fights with the king of Bundelkhand. Read it, you will like it.

What is the story of the ageless warrior of India

Menal is not known as a popular destination on the Rajasthan travel circuit. But I am sure that this quaint and pretty place gets its due attention from the travellers.

Rajasthan offbeat destination
The facade of the temple

How to reach Menal

Menal can be reached only through road. When you drive from Udaipur to Jaipur, take a detour to Kota from Chittorgarh. 10 kilometres from Chittorgarh, you will encounter another offbeat Rajasthan destination. Click here to know more about it. 

If you want to book hotels on the way, click on this Rajasthan Tourism website http://tourism.rajasthan.gov.in/ .

 

Delhi this December

Delhi this December- Discover the artist in you

Delhi this December
Can you see yourself here?

Delhi this December and for the rest of the winter season throws open its creative aspect to the numerous travelers coming to the city. If you are planning to visit India and stay in Delhi for a few days, this post will help you in exploring the unknown facets of Delhi.

While you can visit several bazaars, palaces and tombs in Delhi this December, you will be pleasantly surprised to know about the several gigs that help the artiste in you to surface. I was myself unaware of these literary ‘watering holes’ in Delhi till last year. To discover these places all you have to do is keep an eye on the events calendar- it is that simple.

1.Caferati at Antisocial- Budding poets and writers converge here every month’s last Wednesday and lay bare their souls and emotions to the assembled crowd. Participation is free but every participant must wrap up her gig in 2 minutes. For the literary inclined , it is a ‘must visit place ‘ in Delhi this December.

Delhi this December
Antisocial, Hauz Khas Village

Most of the guys here are novices and this gig in Delhi provides a platform to budding poets and writers to demonstrate their craft to Delhi. Antisocial is located on the second floor of the Hauz Khas Social restaurant in the HKV.

By the way guys and gals, this place gives an awesome view of the Hauz Khas lake.

  1. Chai Aur Chakallas- We went to this event last November and are longing to go there again. Chai aur Chakallas is definitely on our radar in Delhi this December  as well and we are just waiting for the dates to be announced . Last time the gig was hosted by Kunzum cafe and it saw more than 60 people turn up. Again, the time allotted was 2 minutes and the list of speakers was limited to just 20.
Delhi this December
Chat, sing, make friends- Kunzum Cafe

One of the travel poets is in full form here;

  1. Delhi Literary Festival- Last year, this event was hosted at the eponymous Dilli Haat. It saw several interesting speakers , publishers and even diplomats share their experiences, writings and other creative aspects. Publishing company representatives spoke about the opportunities for newbie  writers and novelists in an age of self publishing. Let us see what is the venue of this event in Delhi this December.

Watch this participant share her perspective of life in this presentation.

 

  1. The Great Indian Film and Literature Festival- This one promises to be an exciting event this December.Please note it is not being organised in Delhi. The venue is DLF Cyberhub. I hope to be here on December 3 this year. Are you planning to head here? Let me know.

 

Delhi this December
Poetry on Wheels

 

Do you know some other places where you can exploit your talent? Let me know. I shall feature those places in my next post.

 

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds- Shortly at Regal Cinema in Delhi

Madame Tussauds
Credits- Youtube

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

History of Regal Cinema

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

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

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

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

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

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