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Pashupatinath-Nepal

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J K Rowling

We went to Nepal on 27th day of the Ashwin month, year 2075. OKAY… I didn’t time travel and visit Nepal in the future but that is what 13-October-2018 converts to, as per Nepali calendar.

So a Nepal trip during Dashain – as it is known in Nepal OR Dushera – as known in India. There is so much to share so I am going to split it into many blogs and hopefully that way I can share all I want to 🙂

A visit to the Pashupatinath Temple takes you to a different era. As you walk towards the temple the surrounding areas are bustling with shops selling items for puja and the many colorful traditional ornaments that married Nepali women wear.

Nepali women wearing Pote – glass bead necklace in red, green or yellow. Only married women wear it and it is believed to bring good luck for them and their family.

So, the existence of Pashupatinath temple dates back to 400 A.D and it was rebuilt in 17th century as the old one was destroyed by termites. The temples lies on the banks of the Bagmati river.

Interesting fact – the 2015 earthquake destroyed many things in Nepal, the temple still stands tall and unharmed. While devotees claim it’s because of the divine powers, some argue its because of the strong architectural base. Take your pick..

Anyways it is one of the oldest Hindu temples and there are many legends surrounding the origin of the temple.

Legend 1

One fine day when Shiva and Parvati were taking a stroll, they came near the banks of Bagmati river and were amazed by its beauty. Both took the form of deer and spend their time here. After a while the gods got worried and decided to bring Shiva back to Kailash to resume his duties. When Shiva refused to do so they had to use force and in the battle Shiva’s lost one of his antlers. Which became the first Lingam that Hindu’s worship here as Pashupatinath. Pashupatinath means Lord of Pashu’s or animals.

Legend 2

In continuation of the previous legend, the dropped antler of Shiva got lost\buried and was found again by a herdsman. The herdsman had a cow which used to visit this place and irrigate the place with its milk. By the time the cow reached home its udders were empty so the herdsman followed it one day and saw the whole event. On digging deeper he found the Shiva Lingam.

Legend 3 – As per Koti Rudra Samhita

The Pandavas defeated and killed their cousins — the Kauravas in the epic Kurukshetra war. To atone for the sins of committing fratricide (gotra hatya) and Brāhmanahatya (killing of Brahmins — the priest class) they went in search of God Shiva to seek his blessings. First, they went to the holy city of Varanasi (Kashi), believed to Shiva’s favourite city. But, Shiva wanted to avoid them as he was deeply incensed by the death and dishonesty at the Kurukshetra war and was, therefore, insensitive to Pandavas’ prayers. Therefore, he assumed the form of a bull (Nandi) and hid in the Garhwal region.

Not finding Shiva in Varanasi, the Pandavas went to Garhwal Himalayas. Bhima, the second of the five Pandava brothers, then standing astride two mountains started to look for Shiva. He saw a bull grazing near Guptakashi (“hidden Kashi” — the name derived from the hiding act of Shiva). After some searching Bhima recognized the bull to be Shiva and tried to catch him. Shiva trying to hide, dived into the ground but Bhima caught the bull by its tails as he was disappearing. Then Pandavas prayed to him over and over again. Following that Shiva is said to appear in parts in the following regions: – The Bulls hump – Kedarnath, The Bulls head – Pashupatinath. The Pandavas then meditated and attained salvation.
The Linga in Pashupatinath has 5 heads: east facing – Tatpurusha; north facing – Ardhanarishwara; west facing – Sadyojata; south facing – Aghora and the upward facing Nirakara.

The mesmerizing evening aarti on the banks of Bagmati river.

Open cremation on the banks of Bagmati river.

Sadhu‘s near the temple

By the time we came out it was late in the evening. On our way out we saw a marquee where a Sadhguru was telling the tales of Goddess Durga and how she killed Mahishasur. The faces are covered now, the veil will be removed on the eight day (I am yet to discover the reason for that and when I do I will let you guys know)


One thing I loved about these travels is that you uncover so many stories or legends and it make the journey all the interesting.

Time to call it a day … OM Namah Shivaya!!!

Varanasi

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.

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A labyrinthine set of galli’s(alleys) landed us near our guest house – Sita Guest House

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My first thoughts – “where is the guest house, I could only see the water in the ghats”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The morning visitor – (kingfisher probably, not sure??) who fearlessly sat along with us enjoying the sunrise.

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The famous Dashashwamedha Ghat

The walk along the ghats revealed the artistic side of the city.

graffiti

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painters

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The collectible shop – Assi ghat

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Itihaas cafe at Assi ghat where the food is good and so is the ambiance.

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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.

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The walls are inscribed with illustrations from the scriptures and their explanations – which caught my attention.

birla-temple

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Market outside BHU Birla temple.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Om Namah Shivay !!!

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