A SPLASH OF ROUGE

The featured image is from An Enchanting Spiritual Carnival held in Pushkar.

The  musical festival SACRED was unveiled for the first time during the Camel Fair .

Photographs that follow are faces in red  from different walks of Life in the city of Pushkar.

The lady  in the red veil is making Chapatis ( Indian Bread) over a traditional coal fired Chullah ( oven).

Red Viel
Revealed or Under a Veil

Animals and flora  are woven seamlessly into the day to day life at Pushkar . The faces are red without the application of  Rouge.

rhesus macaque

The Rhesus Macaque Monkey sits on the Ghats of Pushkar

A  bedecked dancer has her ( or maybe his)  makeup checked up by a colleague.

Here many splashes of Rouge create the Red Face.

All Red
All Red

Our guide and escort during the Heritage walk ( part of THE SACRED festival at Pushkar) is caught Red faced by the camera.

The shop in the background is selling the famous and delicious Kachoris ( a salty stuffed snack)  of Rajasthan.

monu.JPG
Natural Rouge

As I have mentioned in the blogs preceding this, Pushkar does not permit you to put down your Camera even for a second.

If you do so, an exciting moment would have passed undocumented.

 

KANTO MATSURI : FESTIVAL OF LANTERNS

It is almost thirty years since I first traveled to Japan.

Had never heard of Sushi  , let alone any other Japanese food type.

How the world has changed, Japanese restaurants have mushroomed in my hometown of New Delhi. Sushi has become a mainstay of all buffets in  fancy hotels  and a must like for all  socialites ( read Page 3) . I have even seen Sushi bars in the malls. Is the day far when they are available along with momos at every street cafe ?

Now in Sakura, New Delhi  celebrating “Kanto Matsuri” , the pole lantern festival .

entrance
                            entrance

The  Red Lanterns and colour red seem to be the main theme of this restaurant serving Japanese cuisine, located on the first floor  within the Metropolitan Hotel  , New Delhi.

seating inside
seating inside

A well stocked bar with the sea food prominently displayed on the counter.

We were however the ‘only foreigners’ in this restaurant, all the tables were occupied by Japanese guests.

the bar
the bar

An introduction to the festival of lanterns and the menu( by the talented chefs ) for the evening  was placed on every table.

lantern festival
              pole lantern festival

A unique feature in many parts of the Far East including Japan is  the display of “faux food”. Thus  only for looking, not eating .

decorative food
                               decorative food

Sea Food is a cornerstone  of Japanese cuisine . The various types are displayed in the  restaurant .

octopus
                       octopus( centre) 

salmon ( peach coloured) is on the extreme right.

sea food

The vegetarian and non vegetarian menus.I kept a careful watch so as not to miss a course.

veg menu

Non Veg menu
                  Non Veg menu

I love Edamame beans.The tofu ( extreme left)  was super soft and simply melted away in the mouth. Japanese momos ( Yaki Gyoza) are in the centre.

edame beans momos
            edamame beans and  momos

Can any food be complete without drinks ? Beer seemed to very popular amongst all the guests.

mixologist not mysoginist
              mixologist not misogynist

The sauce with the salad was fantastic.

salad
                                        salad

Sushi has become the chic food now.

sushi in progress
             sushi in progress

The Miso soup was a surprise  add-on by the chef . It was not listed on the printed menu.

Japanese cuisine is always aesthetically presented and looks like a piece of art.

miso soup plus sushi
                miso soup plus sushi

The tempura.( similar to  the Indian pakoras)  Did the faux tempura look better? Please do comment.

tempura
                               Yasai Tempura

Hot noodle soup or Shoyu Ramen.

final course of noodles
                   final course : noodle soup  

I was ready to burst. Skipped the ice cream and the tea as well.But you can have it.

Sayonara. Leave you with more of the colour Red.( picture is straight off the camera, no filters, no editing)

More lanterns
                More lanterns

PINK AND WHITE ON WAY TO HEAVEN

Am taking you to Heaven. Travel with me, hop on.

All in white? Door is Blue
                        All in white? Door is Blue

Watch out for series of blogs this weekend. It is 9 steps to … what to say…but HEAVEN.

First and foremost are these wonderfully coloured Modes of Transport.

PINK SCOOTER
                     PINK SCOOTER

Keep a watch for the rest in the series.Remain ON BOARD

ONE, NO TWO, OH THREE, SORRY IT’S A PARTY OF FOUR

Romance near Delhi

ONE, NO TWO, OH THREE, SORRY IT’S A PARTY OF FOUR.

via ONE, NO TWO, OH THREE, SORRY IT’S A PARTY OF FOUR.

32 ANGELS, A CITY OF HOPE, AN UNWED MOTHER AND THE TEMPLE OF THANKSGIVING

India is indeed a mysterious country with folklore, myths and history so intricately intertwined , it’s hard  to extract one from the other.

Bhojpur is  the tiniest of villages located 30 kms from Bhopal,  the Capital of Madhya Pradesh . A landlocked state located in the heart of India, it is home to many secrets from the past.

Bhojpur was founded by Raja Bhoj in the early 11th century.

Sinhasana Battisi, a famous composition and literary masterpiece  of 32 yoginis ( angels) was composed in this area  itself.

Ashapuri or the  city of hope is about 6 kms from Bhojpur and is home to a vast array of temples, Hindu, Jain and Buddhist.

The region is unexplored and can be a delight for any curious traveler, mythologist or historian.

An enormous incomplete temple looms over its landscape.Each stone used to build this colossal structure weighs about 70 tonnes each.

Temple on a hill
                                 Temple on a hill

While I have given you a glimpse of this gorgeous marvel of architecture built about 1500 years in another article. Today I shall play the role of an archaeologist to unravel  the mysteries of Bhojpur.

This site is  off the tourist map and a site visited by but a few. As you can see the temple is INCOMPLETE. The spire or the typical pyramid on top is missing? It was never built, and has remained so for 1500 years.

The mammoth scale  represents the pinnacle of Temple Architecture of 11th century India.

Famous Historical Temple
  Famous Historical Inheritance, Bhojpur Shiv      Temple ( a translation of the writing on the green board) 

The Bholeshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Bhojpur was once the capital of the vast empire of Raja Bhoj who ruled this kingdom in the 11th Century AD.

It lies on the banks of the river Betwa which goes all the way to Orchha, another must see historical and quaint  town in Madhya Pradesh.

a closer look as the sunrays lights up the temple
a closer look as the sunrays lights up the temple

The construction of the temple was started by the illustrious KING BHOJ ( the airport at Bhopal is named after him) , who ruled the area known as Malwa.

His dynasty, the Paramaras ruled Malwa  for close to 3 centuries.

It is said that he was stricken by an incurable  disease. A sage advised him  to construct a lake fed by 365 springs ( one for each day of the year) . It is said Raja Bhoj was an accomplished engineer and astrologer as well.

Bhojpur was the site of this lake , nestled between hills and made by creating a unique  dam across the river Betwa.  A dip in this man made lake  cured the King of his ailments.

at the base
                                      at the base

The lake however  has dried up ( or was drained out)  over time leaving only the Incomplete temple as a witness.The temple was the Thanksgiving of Raja Bhoj.

The grateful King  wished to complete a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in gratitude for being cured of his ailments.

Was it an earthquake which destroyed the temple? A visit to neighboring Ashapuri  points to this possibility.

a small temple outside
a small temple outside the sanctum sanctorum

The thanksgiving continues to date as the gong rings calling the faithful to prayer.

It is a unique site, where you can see the plans of a mammoth proposed temple complex etched in stone. Drawings and etchings made  11 centuries ago can still  be seen to the north west of the temple.

the gong
the gong

The sound of the conch shell takes you through  a time warp  when gigantic stones weighing 70 tonnes were taken along a ramp and placed according to a meticulous plan. The ramp exists to date.

Did invading armies prevent the completion of the temple?

the beautiful sound of the conch
the beautiful sound of the conch

It is fabled the temples were constructed with assistance from the Chola Kings of the south. The Chola kings worshipped Lord Shiva a swell.

What prevented the completion of the temple, were no funds sanctioned by the rulers after 1085 A.D.?

the people collect
the people collect

The Largest Shivling in the world rises 22 feet ( 7m) from base to the top.

first glimpse of  the 21 m Bholeshwar Shivling through  smoke from incense sticks
first glimpse of the 7 m high  Bholeshwar Shivling through smoke from incense sticks

Bholeshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, built by Raja Bhoj ( 1010-1058 AD) was his thanksgiving for being cured from his ailments.

It symbolized the ingenuity of and the prosperity  of his kingdom as it overlooked a 450 sq km  man made BHOJPUR TAAL.( lake) .

Over time it has also acquired the name SOMNATH OF THE NORTH.

boleshwar shivling
boleshwar shivling

The Shivling itself is made from a single stone and is about 2 mtr in height.

inside the temple
inside the temple

It was damaged as the central dome collapsed breaking the Shivling into two. The polish on the sandstone is dazzling to date .

Fables of this mighty ruler reached every corner of the Land bringing the best crafstman under his command.

A treatise on ArchitecureSamarangana Sutradhara   was authored by Raja Bhoj alongwith 84 other books on a vast spectrum of subjects including Medicine & Chemistry.

The blueprints of the temple can be seen  even today , etched in stone, yet the temple was left incomplete ? Did the architects mess it up?

A 1500 year old Shivling carved from a single stone.
A 1500 year old Shivling carved from a single stone.

There is a story from the Mahabartaha ( 1500- 2000Bc)  that Karna ( son of the Sun)  was left in this very river by his unwed mother Kunti.

The incomplete temple brings to life folklore, fables and legends.

the village and river viewed from the temple
the village and river betwa  viewed from the temple

Lets travel to discover more of this amazing land.

THE KING WHO LIVES IN A BASKET

The King Cobra under the thumb, literally.

The King and his tiny basket
                   The King and his tiny basket

Do notice the tattoo , the ring and the thumb which enforces the KING COBRA to live in a small, very small basket.

Literally under the thumb
                          THE HAND OF…?

Do notice the chipped nail and the coins under the King.

chipped nail as the king leaves his mark
           chipped nail as the King leaves his mark

THE KING and his now drastically reduced Kingdom, THE BASKET.

the basket is now the Kindgdom
The basket is all that is left of his Kingdom

A closer look at the MAN behind the hand which  keeps the King in a basket.

the snakeman?
The Snakeman?

He will open the basket , then push the basket and even whistle to get the attention of potential donors and the KING.

a push and a whistle to arouse the King
a push and a whistle to arouse the King

The pictures were taken during the Mahakumbh in Allahabad .

My life now
My life now

The King now lives in this basket under the thumb of the hand.

Have kept all doors open for comments and views and intentionally skipped any personal views.  Please discuss.

Do revert and comment with views/ comments/opinions?

GRACEFUL AND AMAZING WOMEN OF GUJARAT

While I write this blog I am relishing and reliving each moment of the trip to Gujarat.

After several trips to this state , am convinced that the women of this state have unparalleled skills.Its vibrancy rests on the pillars of WOMEN POWER.

Its the Women of Gujarat who would sweep you off your feet . So keep your eyes peeled  for the most amazing and graceful women of this vibrant state of India.

The little red fruits on the ladies work table ( “thela”  in Hindi) caught my eye first. They  turned out to be valuable  clues in enabling me to catch glimpses of the working women of Gujarat.

Red dates and Mangoes
Red fruits and Mangoes

All the photographs have been taken as we traveled within  the Saurasthra region of this state.

This lady is roasting peanuts and selling these mysterious fruits outside a gorgeous Mahadev temple ( not in this picture ) near Ahmedabad.

the red dates attract me
the red dates attract me

These mysterious fruits guide me to these lovely ladies. The way the saree is draped is unique to Gujarat.

red dates and a meeting
red dates and a meeting

Snacks ( called Farsan) are a must for all in Gujarat. This little kiosk is selling a sweet called Jalebis( stacked on the right in the picture below) and other “snakes” .( the unique local accent transforms snacks to snakes)

snacks or snakes
snacks or snakes

Charming Momma in a beautiful and  colourful saree  is making delicious  Jalebis ( made from lentils )  and is happy to look at the camera in the eye.

Momma
Momma and Jalebis under construction

Adding to the joy of road travel within India and the colour of the women’s clothes is this amazing out of the box transport machine called JUGAAD.

jugaad
jugaad

Observe the gorgeous Pinks and unique sense of dress as these women head to work on this trailer attached to a tractor.

off to work
off to work

The grace and sense of balance even in the busy streets of India is a sight to behold. The utensils have interesting shapes and will vary from each region of India.

perfect balancing acts
perfect balancing acts

You see women at work in the fields , on the streets and even on boats.

singing on a baot
singing on a boat

This elderly lady is wearing a unique attire worn by a certain sect or tribe of women in Saurasthra. (southern region of Gujarat) They usually  wear a lot of silver  jewellery, have backless blouses and have the most amazing tattoos.

unique to gujarat
Black and Red unique to Gujarat

Spirited and full of energy, this bull had met its match in the lady Matador.

Do observe the expressions of the women in the background.( more on this in another blog)

woman matador
Lady  Matador

Any questions or comments , feel free to write to me.

VISITOR FROM KABUL AND THE POETRY OF WONDER

VISITOR FROM KABUL AND THE POETRY OF WONDER.

wonder in marble

via VISITOR FROM KABUL AND THE POETRY OF WONDER.

BEDAZZLED WITH FAITH , IMMORTALITY AND ATONEMENT AT THE SINHASTHA KUMBH

It is fabled a drop of Amrit (nectar)  which grants immortality  fell from the kumbh ( urn ) at the RAM KUND, Nashik.

The Urn was carried by  Garuda ( the king of serpent eagles and vehicle of Lord Vishnu) .

This hoarding at Nashik tells the story of the Kumbh
This hoarding at Nashik tells the story of the Kumbh

I am writing with the hope that the article is read by a vast number of people and my travelogue motivates them to go to  the Sinhastha Kumbh. The Kumbh is happening as I write  and  the fair will continue till the end of September 2015.

faith : at the feet of God
faith : at the feet of God

I was not even aware, let alone go to one,  of the significance of the Kumbh Melas till about 3 years ago.Thereafter it has been a never ending educational  journey . The Kumbh is a must visit for people from all walks of life. ( believers or non believers, Hindus and non Hindus)  It is a chance of a lifetime to witness and learn about this massive upsurge of humanity. 

It is a literary congregation/festival  of  scholars , sadhus and priests besides millions of people.

It reads
It reads ” the festival for Humanity is now taking place, welcome to the KUMBH fair  at Nashik”

It is a religious fair held once in 12 years when the Sun and Jupiter enter the constellation of   “Leo”, the Lion. ( Singha is Lion in Hindi) .

A unique fact about the Nashik Kumbh is that it is held simultaneously at two locations, Ram Kund at Nashik and Trymbakeshwar ( 30 kms from Nashik) .

Ram Kund at night
Ram Kund at night

Thus we will go to both , we go first to the Ram Kund which is in the heart of the charming city of Nashik.

ram kund at 0700 hrs
Ram Kund at 0700 hrs

Panchvati, Nashik ( location of the Ram Kund)   is a historic site as it is supposed to be the place where Lakshman cuts the nose of Supranakha, hence the the name NASHIK.

( please read the epic Ramayan)

Lord Ram with his bros including Lakshman
Lord Ram with his brothers including Lakshman

The antique  panel above is located at the base of the Ram Stambh( pillar) located at Panchvati near the Ram Kund. You have to look for it. I was lucky to spot it as a priest was there offering flowers.

Ram Sthamb connects me to Tirupati
Ram Stambh connects me to Tirupati

The U shaped mark is the symbol of Lord Vishnu and can be seen at Tirupathi in particular. The flight of stairs descends to the ghats and Ram Kund where you take the traditional dip to wash away  your sins.

The Stambh or Pillar also marks the centre of Panchvati where Lord Ram lived for two and half years with Sita and Lakshman.

It is interesting that a temple dedicated to Lord Venkateshwar is located a few minutes away from this site.

Small temples are located under trees along the river banks and even in the midst of  the river. Mythology, nature and religion form a beautiful amalgamation.

The city seen from the ram kund
The city seen from the Ram Kund

Millions have come and gone bound in the faith that a dip in these waters will atone all sins of the past. I too took a dip with thousands of others and symbolically  offered the water to the Sun God.

The Goddess Godavri flows from Gaumukhs.
The Goddess Godavri flows from Gaumukhs.

The closest natural event to the Kumbh is the migration in far away Africa.The lady has traveled  1500 kms with her ailing husband to carry the holy waters in her urn ( kumbh)  made of brass.

the urn is revered and cannot be placed on the floor
the urn is revered and cannot be placed on the ground

Do see the kumbh ( urn) in the foreground

the banks of the river Godavri at panchvati
the banks of the river Godavri at panchvati

Trees temples and people all merge. Man and woman exist in all  symbolized by Ardhanareshwar. Only the  two combined can complete the picture .

Lord Shiva as Ardhnareshwar
Lord Shiva as Ardhnareshwar

Trees are revered and you will observe people pray to them too.Even God’s creations are worshiped.

a tree and a sadhu
a tree and a sadhu

There are numerous bridges across the river.The temple is  unique  as the the first rays of the sun touch  the feet of the ruling deity, the Creator  Lord Vishnu on the  21st of  March .

sundarnarayan temple forms the backdrop
Sundarnarayan temple forms the backdrop

The sun has set,  and I sign off with two captivating images of the Kumbh Mela.

Rameshwaram twemple
Rameshwaram temple

Nandiji on the banks of the RAM KUND

om namah shivam
Om Namah Shivaya

We now head to the second half of the Kumbh at Trymbakeshwar.