THE DEMONS

What is in  a name?

 A lot In India, miles of History , myths and fables which would give Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and the Avatar a run for their money.

Mahabaleshwar is a small town located in the hills  within the Western Ghats and 120 kms from Pune.

Mahabal literally means of GREAT STRENGTH. Atibal means EXCESSIVE STRENGTH.

Thus begins the story of two Demon brothers/ Rakshas ( Hindi) or Asuras

( symbolising evil) ,    Mahabal and Atibal.

Both the demons were brothers and as the names suggest extremely powerful and strong. Obsessed and drunk with power they wreaked havoc on all of humanity.

The God of Atibal
                                                            The entry to the  Atibaleswar Temple

Invoked by the prayers  of  the oppressed, LORD VISHNU slays the mighty Atibal after a prolonged and exhausting battle.( moral being that even great strength can come to naught if misused )

Now a shift to the present. There is a temple even today  called ATIBALESHWAR ( see the picture above)  near a far larger and revered MAHABALESHWAR temple in Kshetra Mahabaleshwar.

The architecture of the  temple is however unique and makes it stand apart from other temples of the Kshetra Mahabaleshwar.

Built like a Pagoda it even has the edges tweaked upwards. Have a look

Unusual to say the least
Unusual to say the least

Furthermore, mysteriously it is dedicated to Lord Siva, not Lord Vishnu.

The Nandi (the name of Lord Shiva’s vehicle in the form of  a BULL)  clearly indicates the ruling deity is LORD SHIVA.

Inside the temple premises

Inside the temple premises

The entire temple is made from a volcanic black stone . A characteristic of most temples of the region.

What is highly unusual  and surprising is the interiors are pitch black. Not a ray of light penetrates the thick black walls.

What is hidden inside?Was the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu in former times ?  Have I read correctly?

The Nandi from inside the Atibaleshwar temple
The Nandi from inside the Atibaleshwar temple

It rains incessantly during the monsoons  in Mahabaleshwar and you can probably see this in the pictures as well. The rains are wonderful as they keep the tourists away too.

This statue is rather unusual and a presentation I have never seen in any other temple in India.

Cow with a calf
                                                                                Cow with a calf

It is indeed a mysterious temple and raises many unanswered questions.

The location of the  exit is equally strange and seems to be an improvisation to facilitate a thoroughfare.

The Exit and a beginning for some plants
                                                                      The Exit for us but a beginning for  plants

I  have to go back to Mahabaleshwar to tell you the story of the demon Mahabal and the other mysteries that cloak the Kshetra Mahabaleshwar.

Advertisements

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE DIVINE

Jagdish Temple is the EPICENTRE  of  historical Udaipur.

All the bye lanes, including the way to the Bada Pol ( gate) entrance  of the City palace  radiate from here. Even the lanes leading to the lake and the ghats originate from the Jagdish Temple Chowk ( crossing)

You can be witness to  the life of the common citizen of Udaipur from here.

For the Royal experience you need to walk for 2 minutes from the temple to the CITY PALACE. The walk is lined with shops , some of which house vast, I repeat vast and gorgeous treasures of ART.

The pictures that follow are a peep into the activity of  commoners.

Take time to ponder over this photograph. There is some activity in every corner of this picture.

Jagdish Chowk
The Epicentre:Jagdish Chowk

At the level of the street or the  footsteps of the stairs leading to the temple is this elderly lady sewing a garland of flowers.

Do notice the metallic Lota ( an ancient  Indian vessel used for storing water) placed  on the right of the basket.Have written on the LOTA , please check it out, very intriguing.

Saying it with flowers
Lost in her world of floral garlands

Colourful painted guards, peacock feathers  and Mobile phones form the second level up the flight of stairs.

The usually white  marble steps are coloured pink due to  the festival of Holi being played here this morning.

Watch out for the feast for the eyes, THE ROYAL HOLI in the blogs to follow.

multi tasking
Multi tasking

The mother and daughter duo soak in the sun after being drenched in the waters of HOLI.

The second level
Women on Top

The spire of the 450 year old  Jagdish Temple rises over the sanctum sanctorum.

If you are fortunate you could  hear Rustic Folk music as villagers sing and dance spontaneously in front of the main deity.

Jagdish is one of several names for LORD VISHNU.

There are many historical incidents, myths and fables about this temple.Stories of politics and intrigue are whispered in hushed tones.

The Spire of the Jagdish Temple
The Spire of the Jagdish Temple

The view of the epicenter, THE JAGDISH TEMPLE and the Havelis ( now lovely  hotels) of Udaipur viewed from the lake.

Personally have  experienced many emotional moments  in the temple.

temple from the lake
Temple viewed from the lake

As you walk around the lanes you may lose your bearings.

The Spire  of the temple, which is visible from every direction , will restore your sense of direction. ( there is an intentional philosophical punch in the sentence)

ONCE UPON A TIME IN UDAIPUR

In Udaipur be ready to be transported back in time.

It really  is a town out of a fairy tale.

With fabulous Palaces and temples  in the midst of a lake  , forts and Maharajas it has it all.

If you really wish to soak in the local flavours, stroll along the ghats of the lakes and  the bye lanes  around  Jagdish Mandir.

Have a Masal chai in a Glass ( not a mug or tea-cup) , sit at a local cafe and watch the world go by.

Patience is the key, drown yourself in happiness and do not rush through time.

Go with the leisurely Flow of Life in charming Udaipur.

The dog ( only rear visible) is fast asleep on this old bench made of stone.

Watching the world go by
                                                                                   Happiness in  Watching 

This elderly gentleman in white had made himself comfortable on the roadside benches  as well.

An eldery man

Totally White

This beautiful doe eyed lady sits cross legged, enjoys her Masala Chai and acknowledges the photographer with a Queen like wave of her hand.

Masala Tea
                                                                                           Masala Tea

Watch and observe every detail as you stroll along , it is a city with a tremendous character.

Simply do as the Cow does, wait  patiently for the highly recommended shop to roll up the shutters.

THE GOBLET THAT CURED

An awful cold never comes alone, it travels with many companions such as headaches and  mild fever to name a few.

The common cold can cast its Spell of Doom at anytime. However it is ably assisted during the monsoons by high levels of humidity.

A cold and a cough can ruin your  travel experience.It is best to dismiss it forthwith.I share with you a Wizard’s  brew  you could prepare yourself as well,  which does exactly that.

I reveal  the secret of an ENCHANTING GOBLET and a miraculous and curative drink.

It was specially concocted and served  in a restaurant  called Latest Recipe ( Le Meridien Spa & Resort, Mahabaleshwar) .

Latest Recipe
A  modest board at the entrance

The staff probably heard me coughing and caught me sniffling whilst dabbing my handkerchief  to the ends of my sore nose.

Miraculously  a very large Goblet with wisps of smoke emanating from a light yellow brew was placed in front of me. It was called THE TODDY DRINK by the wizard Abhishek.

I gleefully peered into the magical goblet ,  breathing in the aromatic steam and saw the most amazing combination of spices floating at the top.

The cocktail worked wonders and revealed  the medicinal qualities of these ancient spices ( angels for me)  used in AYURVEDA. I am giving the Sanskrit names to reveal the importance these spices had even 2500 years ago.

The first angel is the clove and  can be seen clearly  in the picture below.

Launga ( Hindi)  , Clove ( English) , Syzygium Aromaticum, (Scientific), Devkusum ( Sanskrit)

Dev Kusum literally translated means Flower of the  Gods.

How appropriate as it is considered the Champion of antioxidants.

Having  anti microbial, anti fungal, anti viral properties it is an excellent antidote to a common cold.

In China and Iran ( ancient Persia) it is considered an aphrodisiac. The Toddy cocktail was however  served in India and am sure the caring staff at the Le Meridian was unaware of  any such  mythical  properties.( those reading could improvise if they so wish) .

First look at Toddy
First look at the Toddy

The delicious warm brew has lemon  and ginger juice which forms a formidable weapon against the common cold.

The second spice which came to my rescue were the little green pods you can spot in the centre of the goblet.

Elaichi ( Hindi) ,Cardamom ( English) . Zingiberaceae    elettaria ( Scientific) ,

Ela ( Sanskrit)

Ayurveda’s most powerful mucus destroyer.It sure stopped my leaking tap.

Cardamom  helps in cleansing the body as it has detoxifying properties. It improves blood circulation to the lungs . Hence, Cardamom  is beneficial for those suffering from  respiratory allergies

cure for a cold
Cure for a cold

Properties ( Gunn) : taste ( raas) : Potency (virya)

The third angel was what led to the discovery of the Americas and was once labelled as BLACK GOLD.

 Kali mirch( Hindi), Black Pepper ( English) , Piper nigrum ( Scientific) , Marich ( Sanskrit).

The black pepper is very rich in the vitamins B-complex.It helps in opening all obstructions in the channels of the body.

The little black dots floating are Black Pepper.

The curative spices
The curative spices

The Le Meridien Spa & Resort at Mahabaleshwar is a treasure trove for nature lovers and is I believe a mine for medicinal plants and herbs.

The fourth angel is the bark of a tree and is easily distinguishable from the green cardamom and the black pepper dots in the picture above.

Dalchini ( Hindi)  ,Cinnamon( English) ,Cinnamomum Zylenicum ( Scientific) Twak ( Sanskrit).

Ayurveda classifies all medicinal plants under three broad and interesting heads:

Qualities ( Gunn) : Taste ( raas) : Potency (virya).

Check out the  link for more at:  http://www.ayushveda.com

This dealt the final blow to the common cold as the bark of the Cinnamon has many Gunns (qualities)  as a Powerful Germicide, Insecticide and Fungicide, all rolled into one.

Le Meridien
The entrance to Le Meridien

Thank you Abhishek , you were the wizard who vanquished the spoiler ;the common cold .

What a heady brew.

CELEBRATE LIFE

Let me share a wonderful ocean of calm and fun in the bustling horseshoe shaped Connaught Place ( now renamed as  Rajeev Chowk).

I share locations and destinations to CELEBRATE LIFE. Am not paid to write or blog  ( sounds crude) .

The Oxford Bookstore is located on the first floor of Pratap Building, N Block, Connaught Place, New Delhi.

An extremely nostalgic entry as it takes me back to when I was 12 years old. How things change ?

Red Carpet Entry
                                                                        Red Carpet Entry

An innovative bookstore , it exudes warmth and happiness. A joyful place to soothe your feathers, read and have a cuppa tea.( Cha bar shares space with the bookstore)  Do check out my blog http://www.enchantedforests.wordpress.com to read about it as well.

A large lifesize Ganesha blesses you at the entrance . The birthday Of Ganesha is celebrated with great festivity across the country in the month of September.

????????????????????????????????????

Lord Ganesha

A blue archway permits you to  enter the Hall of the Wishing Tree.

Blue archways
                                                                                        Blue archway

The Hall of the Wishing Tree has an excellent selection of coffee table books on India. Have a look. I have a favourite too.

Selection on India around the Wish Tree
                                                                                  Selection on India 

Having been to the bookstore on several trips, I find the selection and display very Impressive.

India section around the wish tree
                                                          India section around the Wishing Tree

I loved the way books are displayed on carts. The creativity in the layout of the Bookstore is amazing . Was impressed with the importance given to Vernacular Languages ( most boostores pretend such languages do ot exist) .

The first look
                                                                                              The first look

The bookstore makes for very interesting shopping too as they have many articles such as Umbrellas . Do have a look.

Books Galore

Books  and Knick Knacks Galore

A special area for children to play in and delightful Story telling sessions over the weekends makes this a very special and HAPPY BOOKSTORE.

Workshops
                                                                       Workshops

So enjoy yourself at this FUN BOOKSTORE. Take  the kids too, lots for them.

There are no QUIET PLEASE signs or stern DO NOT TOUCH glares. This place is HAPPINESS.

This picture is the cover  of a VERY  large book. Can you spot a corner of this book  in any of the pictures above ?

whoopie goldberg in milk
                              Whoopie G.  having a blast

Soak yourself with JOY and CELEBRATE LIFE.