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.

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.

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.

 

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.

ANONYMOUS

The India Art Fair is annually held in January at the NSIC grounds, Okhla  in New Delhi.

It was an amazing opportunity to see some fabulous works of Art brought together under one Roof.

The threads that bind the four works of art selected by me for this blog are:

  1. The Artists of all the paintings are Anonymous.
  2. They are all almost 200 years old dating to the 19th Century.
  3. All of them are expressions of Faith and reveal tales from Hindu Mythology.

The Colourful and detailed featured Image of Maa Durga ending the terror of the Rakshas ( Demon) Mahishasur portrays so many symbols and tales that it would take me years to understand and pen them down.

The large almond shaped  eyes are a signature of the artists of Bengal and Maa Durga is portrayed as such to date.

The painting below beautifully illustrates Lord Shiva with his wife Parvati  seated on their vehicle the Bull, Nandi. Mount Kailash in the the Himalayas is his fabled abode which is depicted in the picture below.

lord shiva and maa parvati
Lord Shiva with his consort Goddess Parvati

An unusual potrayal of  Goddess Parvati depicted as Mother with her younger son Lord Ganesha.

The crown in the painting seems to be an influence from the Mughal Period  and is repeated in all the pictures above as well.

Maa Durga is an incarnation of Goddess Paravati who assumes a Fierce and Powerful form armed with various weapons to end the Evil of the Demon Mahishasura.

Symbolism and  Philosophy  is deeply entrenched in all the depictions and portrayals in the paintings.

Maa and Ganeshji
Mother and Child

The painting of the Goddess Saraswati below  is distinctively different from those above.

The headgear and attire are more in tune with depictions from Southern India. The style was made extremely popular by the famous artist Raja Ravi Verma from Travancore ( now in modern day Kerala).

The attention to detail is simply mind blowing as the Jewellery is visible through the extremely fine and translucent Saree that drapes the Goddess of Wisdom.

The Veena ( musical instrument in her hands) , the string of White Pearls and the Vedas  ( Holy Books ) symbolize the Goddess of Fine Arts and Knowledge.

 

Maa Saraswati
The Goddess of Knowledge , Maa Saraswati

All the paintings show the fascinating minds of the Anonymous Artists who have unfortunately been lost in the Mists of Time.

ARTISTIC TUK TUKS

The  Jaipur Literature Festival ( JLF) is a wonderful combination of Art ,Culture and Literature.

Held annually in January at the historical Diggi Palace it is a fantastic meeting point of Literary minds from across the World.

Jaipur is undergoing a change and this was evident from the  Pop Art AutoRisckshaws or Tuk Tuks on display at the entrance to the JLF.

auto black and white
Black and White Alphabets

Reflecting the Fauna ,Flora and daily life of the colourful state of Rajasthan, the Autos are  shedding  their mundane Black and Yellow robes they have donned for decades.

Do notice the Policemen in their Khakhi Uniforms inside the Tuk Tuks.

auto with elephant
Colourful Elephants and Khakhi

A front view labels these “Artistic Autos” as works of CARTISTS.

For readers who cannot read the Devnagiri Script in Red on Top I translate, it reads “The Car of S.V.P.S” . SVPS is the acronym for the name of the owner or the driver.

auto and red elephants
Front View of The Elephant Auto

In most parts of India the shortened “Auto” means an AutoRickshaw or Tuk Tuk.

The phrase Tuk Tuk is not commonly used in India  to refer to the AutoRickshaws.

In evolving Jaipur ( also called Pink City), do see the background in the picture below , the walls are Pink, there is now an Online service called “JUGNU “to book these Artistic Autos. 

So next time you are in Jaipur, download the “App” and book your “Jugnu”. Jugnu incidentally is the Hindi name for a Firefly.

auto with camels and cows
Cows and Camels adorn this Tuk Tuk or AutoRickshaw

I hope you enjoyed the Artistic Tuk Tuk as much as I did in observing them across the Pink City.

 

 

THE ARTISAN

The featured image shows the beautiful Spinning wheel with a wooden Parrot and the omnipresent and multipurpose utensil Lota ( do read my blog  http:.//travelwithmukul.wordpress.com titled LOTA).

The weaving artisans of Rajasthan convert the fluffy cotton snow balls into beautiful pieces of textile or art.

brilliant colours
A blast of colour woven by the magical Artisans

Pictures of the master crafstman  were taken near the village of Ranaser near Kichan , Rajasthan.

He sets up the spinning wheel and warping machine in his courtyard to take advantage of the glorious Winter Sun.

the spinning wheel
Getting Organized

The cotton is dyed into colours and then woven into fabric on this PitLoom. Observe the beautiful rope in the foreground.

pitloom
The Pit loom

The Lovely Eco friendly Barn and Home made from twigs and mud.

the eco friendly home
Organic Home and Barn

The Weaver or Artisan above lives in the harsh and arid Desert of Rajasthan located between Phalodi and Jodhpur .