FROZEN

The Frozen Ice on the Bucket Chairs outside the CHARMING LEH AIRPORT ( please do check a previous blog thus titled for continuity) were a clear Sign of the sub zero temperatures in Leh, Ladakh during the Winters.

Barren Hills and Poplar Trees overlook a Ladhaki Home adorned with fluttering Buddhist Prayer Flags.

The Rays of the Sun at an high altitude are Welcoming and  Intense as they keep you warm and comfortable.

home and hills
A Home in Leh, Ladakh

Thick layers of Grass are stacked on rooftops so that the Homes remain warm once the Sun Sets and temperatures dip to minus twenty or thirty degrees centigrade during the winters in Ladakh.

 

grass on roofs
Grass acts as a Bio Insulater

The Cows in the region are small and of  have a dense fur to keep them warm. The Magpie glistens in the Sun and finds food amongst  Heaps of Snow.

Picture was taken outside the entrance to our Hotel Mahey Retreat in Leh, Ladakh, Jammu& Kashmir, India.

Mud Packed stone walls are a great ecological alternative to Cement and Bricks.

snow and cows
Snow, MagPie and Cow

A Quiet peaceful alley lined with Snow is the Hallmark of Leh during the Winters.

 

snow on alley
A quiet alley lined with Snow

Remain aboard as I keep unraveling the telltale Signs captured by the camera at the Charming Leh Airport.

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.

CHARMING LEH AIRPORT

For me the first point of entry into Leh, Ladakh was the KBP Airport and there were many signs captured by the camera which foretold me of the sights to follow.

The Unique Blankets hung over doorways charmed me at the Airport. By the time I left I realized it was a practical Local way of retaining the Heat during the Bitterly Cold Winters of Leh.

airport at leh
Small Charming Airport at Leh

Volunteers from the Hemis Monastery welcomed us with White Silken Scarves. Theie gorgeous traditional woolen attire ensured they remain warm when temperatures fall to minus thirty degrees centigrade.

saropa and mountains
Traditional Welcome at the Airport

Ladakh is classified as a COLD DESERT as Rainfall is a Luxury. It falls in the rain shadow of the Lofty Himalayas ensuring Rain bearing Clouds seldom reach the region.

The result is a unique and stark Landscape bereft of even a blade of Grass as can be seen in the picture below taken at the Airport at Leh.

stark mountains at car park
Watching the International Borders

The temperature was minus Ten degrees Centigrade at 1000 hours when we landed. The frozen water on the chairs outside the airport bear testimony to the  statement above.

It was another sign that Ladakh will be Freezing Cold.

ice on chairs at airport
Brrr Freezing Cold

Having understood little of the signs and symbols at the time of arriving I now see in hindsight that many sights had already been foretold the moment I stepped out at the Airport at Leh.

 

car top
Off we go in the Powdered Sugar Car

Stay on Board as the Signs and symbols are unraveled as we travel through Ladakh.

LEH TEASER

Ladhakh is a unique region within the Northern most state of Jammu & Kashmir, India.

Leh is the capital of Ladakh and located at an altitude of 11480 feet ( 3500m)  in the lap of the lofty Snow Clad Himalayas.

This was my first trip to the region and was I excited.

A short one hour  flight connects Leh  to New Delhi .

Delhi T3 Airport
 0530 hrs at New Delhi Airport

Each region of India is wonderfully diverse and unique. Ladhakh is no exception and the change in attire and faces is apparent at  New Delhi Airport itself.

changing dress
The change in faces and clothes are apparent at the Boarding Gate itself

The Pilot announced the temperature was minus 10 degrees Centigrade, however I was overwhelmed by the snow covered Himalayas.

first look through the window
First Awesome look

Do observe  the Mountains in the foreground have no Snow and are absolutely barren.

The region of Ladhakh is known as a COLD DESERT.

 

snow peaks
Breathtaking view

Do await  more blogs here as well as at http://www.enchantedforests.wordpress.com.

This is as the Title says but a TEASER.

INDIAN DESIGN

All the pictures showcase transformed Traditional Indian Articles or Symbols.

A visit to the India Design Fair held at Okhla , New Delhi showcased a bit of Traditional India in new robes. ( do check out my previous blog titled EYE)

These Lovely kettles in Copper  retain the the shape and look of a Tea Kettle you could spot on every Roadside in India. Keep your eyes peeled ?

copper kettles
Transforming Traditional Kettles

The Bed or Khattiya ( in Hindi) is a must in every Rural Home and Highway Dhaba in most parts of India.

khatiya
A traditional bed with a colourful Carper Design

The Hookah is used to smoke Tobacco and is an accent in the setting below to highlight the Rural Origins of the Colourful Transformed  Khattiya .

with hookah
Rural India’s tryst with Urban India

These Ceramic Containers called Amritbaan  ( in Hindi) were once a Must in every Home in India. They are primarily used to store Pickles and we still use them in my Home as well.

 

amritbaan
Traditional Containers for Pickles

On your travels look for Interesting shapes and articles you  find Unique to this amazing part of the Planet we call India.

THE EYE

The metamorphosis of India was thoroughly apparent at the recently concluded India Design 2016 Fair held at NSIC, Okhla, New Delhi.

Here are some glimpses.

the india design fair
Innovative Outdoor Furniture at the Entrance

Installations in Metal caught my EYE.

The Gigantic metal Ball was probably filled with Inert Gases like Helium as it was afloat and kept chained to the Ground.Symbolic?

Metal and Glass have transformed not only architecture but interiors as well.

metallic trees and balls
Similar to the leafless tree in the background?

Ivy Concepts showcased Bling and influences of the Far East in unveiling their New Home Collections.

Indian Homes are changing Fast.

ivy cocepts
Bling enters Homes

The Traditional art of Indian embroidery “Zardozi” is  kept alive though the designs are now no longer as in the past.

The young boy is embroidering an OWL using Golden sequins as an interested passerby captures him on her Iphone.

owl in progress
A live  demonstration of embroidery skills at THE INDIA DESIGN fair  

The featured image caught my EYE as it reminded me of THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

Am sure die hard fans will recognize the similarity as well. Looking forward to some comments.

JEWEL AMONGST TREES

The Beautifully landscaped Highway from Noida ( an industrial suburb of New Delhi, India)  to Greater Noida is a Classic Example of an Urban Forest amongst Skyscrapers and Industrial Factories.

beauty along urban life
The Jewels Line the Highway to Greater Noida near New Delhi

Announcing the arrival of Basant Panchmi ( Spring) are these Clusters of Jewels which adorn the leafless Trees of the Indian Coral Tree ( English), Parijat ( Hindi) ,Erythrina indica ( Scientific Name).

Native to India , The Indian Coral Tree belongs to the Pea family or Fabaceae.

the tree
Indian Coral Trees

Adorning the ends of each twig are these brightly Coral coloured blossoms which contrast beautifully against their leafless branches.

As the seasons change , new leaves will sprout on the deciduous branches of The Indian Coral Tree.

the scarlet tree
Splendour of Coral Blossoms

The Inflorescence is a cluster of Brightly Coral coloured Blossoms each of which flexes its spine and Curves upwards towards the Blue Skies and the Sun.

Do the Jewels resemble a Tiger’s Claw??

the blooms
Cluster of  Curved Coral Blooms

The Corals are not unprotected as they have sharp spiny thorns along the branches.

Is the Tree  called The Tiger Claw because of the beautiful Blossoms or the Spiny thorns, both of which resemble the Curved Claws of a Tiger ?

tiger claws
The Jewels are protected by Spiny Tiger Claws

If you live in the vicinity of New Delhi or are visiting, be Enchanted and take the Slow lane on the Highway to Greater Noida .

Be Witness to these Jewels amongst the Trees, which are adorning The Indian Coral Tree this February.

 

ARDH KUMBH AT HARIDWAR

The ARDH KUMBH at Haridwar takes place once in 6 years and millions express their faith by thronging the banks for a dip in the Holy Ganges.

Hindu Mythology states that the Holy Ganges descended from Heaven into the flowing locks of Lord Shiva  ( see the picture below) , from where the Goddess Ganga gently flows onto Planet Earth via the Himalayas.

A larger than life statue of Lord Shiva blesses all the pilgrims who arrive at Haridwar ( Doorway to the Lord)

mahadev
Har Har Mahadev

The Aarti ( Prayers) to the The Goddess Ganga  is held every evening at Har Ki Pauri,   ( At the the feet of the Lord)  , Haridwar.

However this evening is special as it on the  eve of  an Auspicious day ( Mauni Amavasya) when a dip in the Ganges is considered extremely beneficial.

The Faithful assemble in thousands along the banks of the Holy River  eagerly awaiting the Sun to Set and the Aarti to commence.

millions throng the banks
Thousands throng the banks for the evening Aarti

The River shimmers in anticipation and the perceptible religious fervour reaches a climax as the lights are turned on and first of the Lamps are Lit.

setting the water afire
The Oil lamps are Lit and the Prayers Commence

The heat from the lamps warms my cheeks as the flames from the Oil Lamps reach the  Black Skies and the  mammoth crowds sing in Unison in praise of the Goddess Ganga under a Moonless Sky .

Lo, Behold the magnificent AARTI at the Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar, Utrrakhand, India.

lamp on fire
The Ganges Shimmers in the Light of the Oil lamps

The Ardh Kumbh has commenced at Haridwar and will continue till April 2016. It is an experience of a lifetime I would not wish to miss.

The mammoth crowd magically disappears within minutes of the conclusion of the Aarti at Har Ki Pauri, leaving the River alone to reflect the lights of the temples.

 

shimmering waters
Reflections in the Ganges

There is a website you can access to see the Auspicious dates or you can go on any suitable day to behold the spectacle at Haridwar.

Do watch the Power of Faith during the Ardh Kumbh.

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.