With my new job and new challenges I am not able to take time out for painting. So I went looking for Van Gough in a box, not that I would endorse that idea very much but this is the best I could do in my current situation and came across this Manadala book – Coloring for Calm. So now a days I am trying to satisfy my artistic itch by filling in colors into the patterns hoping for peace and more free time.
I found this really a good way to meditate also as you have to stay very focused while filling in the finer details. So coloring away and hoping for peace of mind and time so that I can get back to my primitive ways of painting.
Untill then you gotta do what you gotta do!!!
The evening aarti at the Harsiddhi Mata Mandir, Ujjain where hundreds of people gather daily to witness the 736 lamps that are lit and to pray. Harsiddhi means “Attainment of Shiva”. Some come here to pray for spiritual gains and some come for materialistic gains and some come to take selfies. The aura that is created here every evening takes you to a transcendental state and I was happy to witness it.
DP Photo Challenge: Wish
Capturing nature in its extremities can be a challenge, I got a taste of it when I tried to capture the stormy thunderous night. All drenched, I took more than a 100 shots and managed to get just one good enough one.
DP Photography Challenge: Against The Odds
Solitude is a choice that provides freedom and space from the demands and interruptions created by others. It paves the way for self-reflection, clarity and to be self-reliant.
Regularly spending time alone is good for our mind, soul, and body.
DP Photo Challenge – Solitude
Gardening – my new found hobby these days, which is keeping me busy on weekends and away from painting. It is so relaxing and addictive but I hate buying those plastic pots so I started using some of those water bottles and other to be trashed plastic as pots and am focusing on planting small herbs in them. So here my little mint herb in a re-purposed pot.
DP Photo Challenge: Repurpose
Virupaksha temple – Hampi, built in the 7th century by the Chalukya kings of the great Vijayanagar Empire. The picture above is of the gateway located at the east which is nine tiered and is the largest among all the gateways at 50 meters. However old it maybe be, it seems to be aging gracefully.
DP Photo Challenge- Graceful
Recently I was reading this book, “The One Thing” by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan; and got into thinking about priorities and choices. As adults when we have a choice and everything is at our discretion, is there a clear formula for making decisions so that we can make the best decisions for us and not trade them for just any decision?
I found my answer in PRIORITY, as long as we pause and think what really matters to us and let that drive our day/decisions we will have a sense of progress and can avoid getting trapped in busyness.
This painting was inspired by two thoughts –
The name a person bears through life is something he or she must carry, and it is sometimes the only thing others have to judge you by before they meet you. Your name travels ahead of you like a portent of things to come, a thing from which others make assumptions about you. Are these assumptions always fair or accurate? Of course not, but people continue to make assumptions, regardless.
Here’s a interesting story about the importance of a name:
“Puli Vesham” – predominantly famous in coastal Andhra where folk artistes done the role of a tiger and dance to the drum beats (dappu) of percussion artistes. The original folk dance was a demonstration of strength and fierce fight between the hunter and the tiger.
The best part of the ‘puli vesham’, many say, was the head gear depicting the various moods of the tiger. Usually the head gears depicted the ferociousness of the animal.
Though it has lost patronage we can still find it in small towns and villages where artistes are trying to keep the culture alive.
DP Photography Challenge – Resilient
The world is becoming noisier and heading towards global warming and I have been a witness to both this year. This year has been the noisiest year for me so far. The apartment we moved to in the city – feels like I am living in a subway station, even all the places we visited this year – there was so much honking, drilling, hammering and pounding. So this year for me is – Noisy @ 16 !!!
We wanted to visit Varanasi during this Diwali but as the flight charges were sky rocketing we went there after Diwali, I had packed most of my woolens as after Diwali northern India gets really cold, but to my surprise it wasn’t cold at all, we witness a pleasant temperature – good for us; but this made me realize that global warming is for real and we have to do something about it -if we can.
We landed in Varanasi and took a cab to the main ghat areas where we had booked our guest house, our cab driver Mr Pintoo not only made us feel safe but also told us where we should go, what we should do and not do and finally we ended up booking him for the rest of our trip. We were dropped at a point some 500mts away from the ghats as no motorized vehicles are allowed near the ghats. We entered the famous gallis (alleys) of Varanasi, they do look creepy – some of them so be cautious but its exciting as well.
A labyrinthine set of galli’s(alleys) landed us near our guest house – Sita Guest House
My first thoughts – “where is the guest house, I could only see the water in the ghats”
So this is front face of the guest house and the one marked in blue was our room with the Ganges view. There is no lift and yo do have to climb those steep stairs to reach the room but once you reach there its all worth it.
Early morning boat rides and swimmers – this was the best part of the day for me, waking up to a sunrise right across the river – the cool breeze and happy people enjoying their baths/rides.
Varanasi is a spiritual city, where Hindus go to pray, wash away their sins and honor their dead on the banks of the Ganges. Dying in Varanasi is seen as auspicious, as it ends the cycle of rebirth.
The morning visitor – (kingfisher probably, not sure??) who fearlessly sat along with us enjoying the sunrise.
The famous Dashashwamedha Ghat
The walk along the ghats revealed the artistic side of the city.
The collectible shop – Assi ghat
Itihaas cafe at Assi ghat where the food is good and so is the ambiance.
Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedha Ghat
We actually took a boat ride in the evening and while coming back he stopped the boat in the middle of the river so that we can see the aarti from the riverside and that was heavenly.
Most of our day 3 morning went into finding an ATM with cash in it, because of the recent demonetization in India there were fewer ATMs with cash and in Varanasi most the businesses don’t accept cards.
We spent the entire evening relaxing at the BHU Vishwanath Temple which is a replica of the main Kashi Vishwanath temple – a little or far bigger in size 🙂 and a marvel in marble.
The walls are inscribed with illustrations from the scriptures and their explanations – which caught my attention.
Market outside BHU Birla temple.
Away from the ghats, the streets are busy, crowded and dusty. You get to see a lot of diversity in this place, with boys playing cards near the ghats, people washing clothes on the ghats, people praying at the ghats, boat riders constantly offering you a boat ride – not free of charge of course, women preparing local delicacies on the doorways in the galli’s, restaurants serving Italian, French, Spanish and German food, priests performing puja, foreigner’s looking for spiritual experiences, foreigner hippies looking for ….(you know what I am saying), cows here and there, hordes of old people on the streets who have come here and are waiting to die here so that they can attain moksha, people carrying dead bodies to the ghat, burning corpses, floating corpses in the Ganges.
Varanasi is a very special place. It is the oldest city in the world located along the banks of the River Ganges which is dripping with history and spirituality. This is one of the main holy places for Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.
The 80ft, Buddha statue in Sarnath
And finally the famous Blue Lassi shop, I have never had such mixed feeling while enjoying a mere lassi. This is a small shop in one of the galli’s near Manikarnika ghat (usually where the dead bodies are burnt). So I have my lassi in my hand and I am thinking UMMMM….. and right then I see some people taking a dead body to the ghats for cremation , which made me feel guilty about enjoying something – I try to shred the thought and again UMMMM……and there goes another dead body. Finally after seeing 4 of those I quickly finished my drink and shot out of that place.
And then again there is this early morning sunrise which makes you forget everything and you fall in love with this place all over again.
Om Namah Shivay !!!
It’s been a while I have painted something, one because of a relocation AGAIN… but more than that I have been overthinking a lot about what to paint and planning for a complicated project, but when I couldn’t come up with anything I just took the board and paint and did a simple art piece – which makes me happy 🙂
So, where was I in my Himalayan tour Part 1 – we reached Haridwar, took a cab to Sonprayag, took the back breaking horse ride to Kedarnath and trekked back. I was exhausted way over my limits, but the plan was to cross those limits and to push those limits and extend them 🙂
This is Triyuginarayan Mandir, with Sumeru Parvat(mountain) in its backdrop.
Story : It is said that Lord Shiva’s marriage to Sati was solemnized here in the presence of Lord Vishnu. Legend has it that the eternal fire which burns inside the temple never extinguishes. This place is way off the track some 14kms trek from Sonprayag but you get a very beautiful view of the valley and the step farmings, the girls of this area were exquisitely beautiful – I had to mention them 🙂
View from the top – Sonprayag
Sonprayag lies at the confluence of the rivers Basuki and Mandakini. Somewhere there is also the hotel that we stayed in. Now we are headed towards Badrinath, fully determined to reach there by nightfall.
Ohh… the scenic and beautiful valleys and step farms, as “Winter is coming” there were almost no tourists in the area which made our journey even more beautiful and relaxing, but there were no restaurants open too !!! YAY
So we resorted to stealing some oranges from someones backyard, when they saw us – we begged for some oranges and finally they let us borrow some. Hmmm….. now I know what beg-borrow-steal actually means 🙂
I was very adamant about getting to Badrinath on the same day, had no idea we would lose day light by 5:15 PM itself and the route would be scary -scary-scary. Somehow we reached … Thank God. The town looked deserted, everyone had left the town and moved down for the winter. We got a room, some hot water and hot food and finally called it a day.
This is the first thing I see when I removed the drapes in the morning, I had no idea we were in the middle of the great Himalayan range. Badrinath is 10270 ft above sea level.
Our Hotel Yoga, Badrinath
I gazed at the wrinkled and rough hewn nirvana quiet mountains with a sense of awe.
Ohhh… I forgot to mention about the early morning not so pleasant experience, I got up – got amazed by the view – got back to reality – went into the bathroom – turned on the tap – no water – called the reception only to be told that the water may have frozen in the taps because of the low temperatures. Now I understand why people migrate to the hills during this season. We got two buckets of hot water to do what we had to do. This is the first temple in my life to which I went without taking a bath… hmmm
Now look at this – is this a joke!!! A hot spring right outside the temple and the taps in the hotel are choking.
By the time we came out my feet and hands were numb. I hope God is watching me and will reward me appropriately, and he did – the shack cafe – the only place open for breakfast, and the only thing on the menu was Maggi. Steaming Maggie with hot tea – that’s all I need for now 🙂
Mana Village – the last village on the on the Indian side of the Indo-China border.
Vyas Panthi – This is where the great epic of Mahabharata was written
Can you see the small stream, that’s the Saraswati River, it is still thought to be a mythical river – which no longer exists. Maybe it no longer exists in its full glory but hey!! its still there.
There are two versions of why Saraswati exists only in the Himalayas
The Story: According to the Brahma-vaivarta Purana: When Ganga-devi cursed Saraswati-devi to become a river here on Mrtyuloka(earth), one of the conditions was that she would only remain on earth as long as rishis and other great sages performed tapasya on her banks. Since we are now in Kali-yuga, there are no longer these great souls performing austerities, so she vanished.
The tour guide’s version: In the above picture we saw Vyasa Panthi – it is the place where Ved Vyasa was reciting Mahabharata and Ganesha was writing it down, Vyasa got disturbed by the gurgling sounds of Saraswati’s water and asked her to slow down. But she wouldn’t listen so he cursed her to go obscure. So today you can see Saraswati only here in the Himalayan region of Mana Village where she originates and after that she goes underground only to emerge at the Triveni Sangam in Illahabad where Khumba Mela takes place.
Keshav Prayag – Confluence of Saraswati and Alaknanda
Now it was time to leave the abode of gods and return to lower grounds where the devilish minds are at work.
Karna Prayag – Confluence of Alaknanda and Pindar Rivers and the last of the panch prayags.
On our way back to Rushikesh we could see villages and towns preparing for Diwali – the festival of lights
Rushikesh – situated at the foothills of the Himalayas, besides Ganga river. It is famously known as the place for studying yoga, meditation and for temples and ashrams. To me it looked like the whole town’s having a hippie party.
River Ganga – view from Lakshman Jhula
Evening Ganga aarti at Haridwar – the mesmerizing chanting of the mantras during the beginning of the aarti was the best way of concluding this trip.
Haridwar market place
A short visit to the Patanjali Yog Peeth on our way back.
Next time I go to Himalayas, I don’t want to be time bound and just let my instincts guide me.
Om Namah Shivay!!!
So it’s the festival season in India, with Dussehra and Diwali coming back to back we decided to plan trips bag to bag.
The first one was to Gujarat – which I have already bragged about, the next one was to Garhwal, Himalayas which was a very spontaneous trip as we booked all tickets on the go…. during this trip we used all possible modes of transportation – flights, trains, local buses, luxury buses, three wheeler autos, rickshaws, ponies and our legs.
First stop Delhi, the capital – there is lot going on in the capital but the only thing that caught my attention was the sad plight of the birds as a result of the urbanization and deforestation.
Delhi was just a stop over for change of trains after which we headed to Haridwar from where our actual journey begins to the magnificent Himalayas. We started from Haridwar to reach Sonprayag by evening, the whole 250 kms stretch is through the ghat roads – winding roads, meandering rivers, green hills and beautiful landscapes.
We will be going towards the source of the many rivers which fertilize the farmlands downstream.
Shiva protecting the town of Haridwar
Devprayag– where the river Bhagirathi and Alaknanda meet to become Ganga
This is the famous Dhari Devi temple in the middle of Alaknanda river – the local lore is that it houses the upper half of the body of the goddess Dhari which changes its appearance during the day from a girl, to a woman and by evening to an old lady. We didn’t stay to witness the transformation but enjoyed the beauty of the nature and took some amazing shots and pushed off.
OK, before I go any further I feel the need to mention one thing, this was more of a pilgrimage cum tourism tour for us, the whole area which is also known as Devbhoomi(place where gods live – and the locals do believe that they still live here in the mountains) is filled with so many temples and significant sites full of legends and folk lore that it was hard not to stop at each of these spots to admire its beauty and listen to the stories. I’ll be sharing a few of them with you too 🙂
Rudraprayag – confluence of rive Alaknanda and Mandakini
I couldn’t get a better shot here as there was a group performing final rituals for somebody who had passed away, so we just went to the temple near by and moved on from there. Story related to this place – Narada meditated and learnt music from Shiva.
We end the day with some sumptuous meal and went to sleep early.
One tip that I can give your here is: eat less while driving on ghat roads, the continuous movement of the car along the curve roads can be nauseating.
Today we will start from Sonprayag to reach Kedarnath, fabled to be the abode of Lord Shiva. , this is a 18 kms trek. We were getting ready to trek but due to the cold climate and snow in the mountains opted for a pony ride.
The 4 hour long pony ride … Ouccchhhhh……..it still hurts my back when I think of it.
This is what we- I mean the pony and me 🙂 had accomplished after 2 hrs.
Looking down upon the rocky slope, I could hear the sound of the flowing and emerging waters which filled me with a peace I hadn’t felt in a long time.
The final destination is somewhere there …. !!!
Luxury in the lap of wild nature
As pleased as I was, my pony was also pleased to have flat ground and turf before them. For us the journey is not yet over, we still have to cover over a kilometer to reach the temple.
The dry river bed which emerges from the mountains.
Kedarnath Dham – situated at the started point of River Mandakini
Lone Ranger – the ranger is carrying parts with which they build houses up in these mountains. There was a better route along the river bank which got washed of in 2013 flash floods, so now until some other alternative is found these rangers carry the heavy wooden parts up the terrain.
The descent down was another task in itself, it took us 6 hours by foot to finally reach base and God was I happy to see my comfy and warm bed.
OM Namah Shivaya
In this blog we will go to the beautiful, vibrant and culturally rich state of Gujarat, India. I have heard a lot about its growth and development models – which I did witness but apart from that I also witnessed the rich culture that they have held onto which I feel is missing in many other parts of India.
So coming back to the trip, it was a 2500 km drive.
Pune – Mumbai Expressway goes through the Western ghats, the winding roads which takes you through 4-5 tunnels was a very good start for the trip.
And then came Mumbai – one of the busiest cities in India, we hustled ourselves out of the crazy traffic of Mumbai, best thing about India – you can just honk your way out of the traffic 🙂
As we were on the border of 2 states – the traffic scene didn’t just end after Mumbai, but now the competitors we the huge trucks, now here you don’t want to piss off the big fellows so you just quietly and articulately make your way out.
Our first stop – Vadodara, it was Navratri festival that day so we had booked tickets for viewing the dance festival.
These are all local people who have dressed up for the occasion and not hired dancers.
And in no time the whole ground was filled with people dancing in sync and in full zeal to the mesmerizing live music.
taken from my shaky phone (I had no idea how the event would be else I would have at least freed up space in my phone).
Day2 – drive to Dwarika
Look at those horns, you better not mess with them
We share the road with everybody 🙂
The cows in India have the right to be anywhere they want and there is no debate on that 🙂
The point where the Gomati river joins Arabian Sea
The street hawker who has all the marketing and management skills she needed and the colorful market place.
And the journey continues
The bridge we were supposed to cross Vs The bridge we crossed
The local highway dhaba, this is a kathiyawadi gastronomical delight – all vegetarian (which makes me happy) and authentic taste which you will not get in any of those high priced imitation restaurants in the city and it is dead cheap plus served with smiles :), so I put all my manners aside and enjoyed my appetizing meal.
There is a small bunch of flamingos in there, Indian bustard – an endangered species, some pelicans, herons and ducks, not much of a bird watcher so just clicked a snap for the record 🙂
Phone and cameras are not allowed inside the temple so will have to do with the long shots. If you go to Somnath you should not miss the evening aarti, the music – the drums beats are so transcendental.
Gir National forest – 3 hours back breaking safari to see these and a few other of their relatives but no predators(lion or leopard). We saw some lion poop and on analyzing that our guide concluded that the lion had a deer for his lunch … so yeyyy, I wouldn’t have mind seeing the lion in action – even if it was pooping.
After a soul enriching trip we headed home.
I’ll miss Kathiawadi food and hope to see you soon.
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