INFINITE CHARM

Children are always charming and in Ladakh the Charm is heightened to the Power of Infinity.

Do read up the blog titled “The 3 Idiots” on the Rancho School located near Leh,Ladakh.

steps of kids
Step by Step

This sweet charming kid rests against a colourful wall in the Monastery . His expression changed once he  became aware of the camera.

inside hemis
Camera makes even children conscious

The Coy Girl was shy and kept covering her face with the white stole till patience paid off and I captured this image within the Hemis Monastery outside the Upper Residence of His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa.

hemis and coy girl
Within the Hemis Monastery

This charming and extremely young Buddhist Child is on his way to becoming a Monk.

pic pls
Charmed by the Camera 

I was fortunate to sit amongst children near Leh, Ladakh and capture some delightful moments which I am sharing in this blog.

birth to old age
Cycle of Life

HIMALAYAN SUNSET

Pictures were taken at the Shanti Stupa in Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir,India.

These Breathtaking Views need no words, so am Zipping Up.

Enjoy yourselves and witness the Setting Sun during the Freezing Winter Month of February in Leh.

golden
Golden Pagoda looks over Leh, Ladakh
leh view
Sun Sets over Leh Ladakh

 

leh at sunset
Crimson Clouds over a Monastery as the Sun Sets
golden pagoda
Gold From Clouds to the Pagoda

FOOD FOR THE GODS

Mountains of Food resembling the Himalayan Hills in the background were lined up before His Holiness during the Winter Festival at Rancho School,Shrey, Ladakh. ( do read the previous blogs titled EMPTINESS,SEA OF MAROON and THREE IDIOTS)

juices

Banner reads”Live To Rejoice”

The Food was Blessed by the Spiritual Leader His Holiness and then distributed amongst the Devotees at the End of Each Day.

piled high
Unique Bread baked in Ladakh

Many Monks were seated on the Dias and chanted from Buddhist scriptures. Mountains of Biscuits and Food are Piled Up High in front of them.

monks
Praying with Food

Graceful Dance  performed before His Holiness, the Spiritual Leader of the Hemis Monastery, seated on a High Pedestal.

The entire festivities are part of the Birthday Celebrations of His Holiness.

food
The Nuns dance around Food in front of His Holiness

The attire and form of Worship are Unique to the region and has probably mutated over centuries to adapt to the way of Life in Ladakh.

A SEA OF MAROON

In the first blog on Leh, Ladakh titled CHARMING LEH AIRPORT, I had mentioned certain signs which forecast what was to be unveiled in the hours and days to follow.

The posts SIGNS OF BUDDHA , EMPTINESS and FROZEN unraveled Three such Symbols, this post is the fourth in the series.

On reaching the Naropa Temple ( Famous for the Hemis Festival or Kumbh of the Himalayas) and the Rancho School ( made famous by the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots) at Shrey, Ladakh   I was greeted with a SEA of MAROON.

Buddhist Devotees  draped in shades of Maroon had reached Shrey in thousands to celebrate the Birthday of His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa.

welcome
All paths led to His Holiness

An Awesome and Stunning  Gate crowned by two Dragons around the Buddhist Circle of Dharma . Unfortunately my illiteracy prevents me from reading the script on the Golden Gate.

dragon gateway
A Beautiful Gate at the Entry to the  Naropa Temple Complex

The Grey Wall is the Boundary between the Naropa Temple and the famous Rancho School. Both of which are managed by the Hemis Monastery which in turn is headed by the Spiritual Leader His Holiness of Drukpa Lineage.

The Himalayas look upon the Celebrations taking place in the valley below. The Birthday Celebrations coincide with the Winter Festival held at the Hemis Monastery.

happy birthday

The Dragon Flag is the Symbol of the Hemis Monastery

Devotion and Faith help thousands of Monks and Devotees brave the Icy Chill of Winters at Ladakh as they sit in the open , under the gaze of the snow capped Himalayas, listening to their Spiritual Leader His Holiness the G. Drukpa .

maroon and himalayas
The Barren landscape is awash in a Sea of Maroon

Despite an extremely hard and tough life all you see in Ladakh are Happy and Cheerful Faces.

Was the Secret of Happiness their faith in Tibetan Buddhism  or the Colour Maroon they adorned , or both ?

maroon all over

If you recall the initial picture in the CHARMING LEH AIRPORT showcases  cheerful Buddhist Monks in Robes of Maroon greeting us.

Who says you cannot see the Future ? Travel with Mukul and Behold the Faithful.

SIGNS OF BUDDHA

As mentioned in my previous blog CHARMING LEH AIRPORT the camera had captured symbols or SIGNS which had foretold what was to be revealed in Leh, Ladakh.

The First Sign and it is the Featured image as well  in the previous post is  a car with Buddhist Prayer Flags.

The featured Image is of a small Stupa or Temple covered with Stone Art and seen near our  final destination , The Mahey Retreat Hotel .

The short drive form the Airport to the Hotel revealed that Ladakh was indeed the Land of Lord Buddha.

All the images that follow were taken from the car during the course of a drive taking us to our Hotel from the Airport at Leh, Ladakh, Jammu& Kashmir, India.

Leh palace and temple
LEH PALACE ON THE LEFT BELOW THE SNOW CAPPED HIMALAYAS

A large Prayer Wheel seen alongside one of the major avenues leading to the LEH PALACE and FORT built in the 17th Century.( see the picture above please)

Do observe a Dog sits patiently on the steps leading to THE PRAYER WHEEL.

the prayer wheel and the dog
A PRAYER WHEEL

Buddhist Symbols, the  Unique Script of Ladakh ( similar to the Tibetan script)  ,  and Frescoes adorn this little building which I could capture only partially.

buddhist symbols
The Himalayas provide a beautiful backdrop to a Buddhist Building enroute

This  small Stupa was spotted during the drive as well. Do observe the Prayer Flags.

 

a small stupa
Stupa and Prayer Flags

Leh sure has a unique and distinctive flavour. I was loving it, hope you do so as well.

Watch out for the the unraveling of the other signs mentioned in the previous blog as well.

MAA GANGA

Maa Ganga or Goddess Mother Ganges is the Holiest of Rivers for Billions of Hindus living on  Planet Earth.

Revered and Worshipped, the featured image shows the preparations for an Evening Aarti  ( Prayers ) on the Ghats of the Pristine and Enchanting River Ganges at Rishikesh , Uttrakhand, India.

As per Mythology and folklore The Ganges has Magical and Curative Powers to cure both the body and mind.

Rishikesh, located 250 kms North of Delhi and 25 Kms from Haridwar and Dehradun is nestled in the Himalayas and  exemplifies this belief totally.

It has become a major destination or Hotspot for Meditation , Yoga and Ayurvedic Medicine.

ganges at rishikesh
The River Ganges with the Ram Jhoola connecting the banks in the background

The famous Parmarth Ashram at Ram Jhoola, Muni Ki Reti is a major destination for Yoga buffs across the world and has over a 1000 rooms.

The Himalayas and beautiful Ghats add to the charm of this peaceful and serene destination.

temples and the ganges
The spires of Temples and Ashrams on the banks of the River Ganges 

The evening Aarti  ( Prayers) held daily on the banks of the River Ganges  is a sight to behold for both  believers and non believers.

Sadhus or Holy Men clad in Saffron pay their respects to the Holy River by chanting Har Har Gange.

sadhus
Sadhus pray their respects to Maa Ganga

Rishikesh is accessible by Road, Air and Train and November to February are months when the town is calmer and not bustling with tourists.

Discover yourself in the Lap of  Mother Ganga.

DELIGHTFUL OSIAN

Osian, is the tiniest of Dots in the heart of a Desert District of Rajasthan, India.

Located about 65 kms from Jodhpur , Osian is a tiny tot of a town, nay overgrown village,  now famous due to the discovery of spectacular Hindu and Jain temples from the 8th Century A.D.

Repeated Invasions from Central India from 12th century onwards laid to waste the once thriving centre of trade and the temples were forgotten in the dust of time.

When you drive along the Highway from Jodhpur to Kichan ( do read my blog THE WINTER GUESTS and A FEAST) you will see many temples still in a state of ruin, see the picture below.

Ruins of Osian
An 8th Century  Temple in Ruins

I strongly recommend you take 1-3 hours off your hectic schedules when you visit Jodhpur or Jaisalmer and have look at these Amazing beauties cast in Stone.

The exquisitely carved spire of the Main Temple is dedicated to Sachya Mata , who is worshipped by all communities in the region.

Do observe the  gorgeous Lord Ganesha statue in the foreground.

the main temple
The Main temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess

The Sudarshan Chakra ( or the Wheel of Time) atop one of the  intricate Temple spires clearly indicates the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Vishnu Temple with Chakra
The Chakra atop The Lord Vishnu Temple

The Vishnu Temple is adorned with amazing Sculptures depicting various Mythological Tales from ancient Sanskrit scriptures.

Unfortunately invaders from Central Asia during the 12th Century have mutilated a majority of the  fascinating sculptures.

The detailed and magnificent Central sculpture depicts the story of Lord Narsimhan ( A Lion Headed Avatar of Lord Vishnu) who brings and end to the Demon Hrinyakshyap by placing him on his thighs and disemboweling him.  ( do read the entire fascinating story laden with symbolism and messages) .

It marks the End of Evil and Victory of Good.

 

Narasimha Avatar
Narsimhan Avatar of Lord Vishnu

The featured Image has two striking Symbols which indicate to whom the temple is dedicated to, one is the Lion and second is the Trishul or the trident.

The Lion is the vehicle of Goddess Parvati who is the consort of Lord Shiva ( bearer of the Trishul)

Osian has a vast library of outstanding temples and sculptures, each of which reveals the mysteries of the past and the Glorious skills of Medieval India.

GHATS OF FAITH

Pushkar is a tiny town near the city of Ajmer in the state of Rajasthan in North-West India.

Steeped in legend it a Holy City and home to the only temple devoted to the Creator of the Universe, Lord Brahma.

One week during the month of Kartik ( usually November) and the town is bursting at its seams as devotees flock in thousands in an unparalleled expression of Faith.

the bridge over the lake

The bridge or dam at one end of the Pushkar lake

Prayers are offered to the Gods and a dip in the Holy waters during this time is supposed to wash away the sins of the past.

Devotees throng all   52 Ghats ( the steps leading to the lake) of Pushkar turning them into a riot of colour.

the colours of the ghats
The colours at the Ghats

The intense devotion and Faith can only be experienced if you are at Pushkar during the annual  Pushkar Fair.

The Old throng the Ghats to take a dip in the lake and attain salvation.

bathing at changing at the ghats
Changing after a dip in the Holy Lake

A trip to Pushkar is a feast both for the eyes and the soul.

Be logged on as the Magic of Pushkar is unveiled.

Pushkar is accessible from Delhi and Jaipur by Road and Train ( upto Ajmer which is 11 km away) . Both Delhi and Jaipur have International Airports.

 

SECRETS OF ANCIENT MUMBAI

Hidden in the midst of skyscrapers  of this chic and upscale locality ( Malabar Hill ) in Mumbai (Bombay)  is a well hidden secret, the holy  Baanganga Tank.

Walking through narrow lanes you are transported back in time.The picture below showcases the ancient and the modern.

towering skyscrapers dwarf the ancient temples
                                                       towering skyscrapers dwarf the ancient temple 

Within but  a few  hundred metres from the salty waters of the  sea , the water of the tank  is mysteriously sweet.

Embalmed  in the fables  of Ancient India , the history of the tank  goes back to the time of the  Ramayan ( the immortal Epic of India)  ie. about 4000 BC.( time period is not ascertained to date  , some fix it at 2500 BC) .

Within a few days of writing this post  all of India will erupt into celebration and the story of the Ramayan will be reenacted across the  length and breadth of this country.

In the quest for his consort Sita, Lord Rama and his brother Lakshman reach the top of the Malabar Hill at the site where the Baanganga tank now exists. Lord Rama asks his brother for water, who releases  an arrow ( a baan in hindi)  from his bow. The arrow releases the sweet water of the underground river Ganga, called Bhogvati.

The twin towers ( do not mix with the Lord of the Rings)  are the entrance to the Baanganga tank. The towers reflect the unique architecture of the Marathas and are in fact oil lamps.

twin towers
                                                                         The twin towers

The Baanganaga tank  is  today part of the Walkeshwar Temple Complex.

It  is today a site of pilgrimage and many immerse the ashes of the departed in the tank.

The area is extremely interesting as it tells the story of Mumbai and the various communities who inhabit this region even today.

An elderly lady looks out from the window of her terracotta tiled roof home,as pedestrians walk by the Peepal Tree little realizing they are walking through History.

to the tank
                                                             Shiv Temple around  the tank and under the Ficus religiosa tree

Lord Rama created a Shivling from the sand of the Baanganga and offered his respects. Sand is called Waluk in the local language and Ishwar is God , hence the name Walkeshwar.

Many residents living in the  posh Walkeshwar Area of Mumbai  today are probably unaware of this legend.

A hen pays obeisance to Lord Shiva. ( Shivling in the centre)

the hen
                               The hen bows down in respect and appears mysteriously as i take this picture 

The vast sweet water tank is now surrounded by skyscrapers all around.It is fed by an underwater stream.

Numerous priests  were offering  prayers around this vast tank  during the time I took these pictures from my mobile.

Swans and ducks ( white specks in the picture below)  swim gracefully near the trees.

banganga                           The enormous  Baanganga Tank in the heart of Mumbai

I strongly recommend a walk through these parts after reading about the History of Mumbai. A metal plaque at the entrance of the tank details the history and layout of the Baanganga region.

Thank you Vivek and Arpita for unraveling this secret destination.

There is another  legend of the Baanganga in the Himalayas  near the famous Vaishnodevi temple in Jammu & Kashmir.  But that is another story…

AN OPENING IN ALL DIRECTIONS

Today is Eid and I wish all the readers across the world EID MUBARAK or literally translated Congratulations on the auspicious day of EID.

I was fortunate to take these pictures en route  to the Qutab Minar at Mehrauli, Delhi.

The Rhesus Macaques were playing with a door ( barrier)  which was strewn over the green lawns. Were they telling me something?

Barriers broken and the simians celebtrate
                                                  Barriers broken and the simians celebrate

The pictures above and those that  follow are of a  Mosque  ( now forgotten and pushed aside )  from MEDIEVAL INDIA

( probably between 11th-14th Century).

North
North

You must pass through a Dome prior to entering the main area of the mosque.

This Dome has doorways opening in all directions. Is it a message to us from the past?

East
East

Each doorway reveals a different view.All the views are lovely are they not?

West
West

This doorway leads to the mosque which cam be viewed in the featured image.

South
South

Do notice the view changes but the arches of the  doorways are the same.

What is the message we are receiving from the past ?

Even after 1000 years  is it not more than relevant.

Do be liberal with your comments and opinions.