THE VILLAGE OF CORN

The Himalayas are all about experiencing the Joy of Nature. When man adapts and moulds himself to nature the Joy is enhanced manifold.

A perfectly organized trail by the nature loving staff of the JW MARRIOTT Walnut Grove Spa Resort ,Mussoorie to a CORN VILLAGE  located in the Himalayas was just that, a memorable experience.

The trip beautifully integrated an experience of the local Gharwali way of life with the thrill of a joyful ride on a motorcycle .

The  extremely  skilled driver on  a Royal Enfield bike enabled me to  have an uninterrupted and breathtaking  360 degree view of the enchanting  landscape.

Royal Enfields are the mode of transport

Royal Enfields are a great mode of transport in the Hills

It was indeed wonderful to go on a motorcycle as the fresh and cool  mountain air  rustles up your hair and massages the face as well.

Corn ( or Maize)  is the third most important crop after rice and wheat  in the hills and forms the staple diet of the  village folk as well.

The Gharwalis ( as the locals are called)  over the ages have perfected the art of drying the corn within their homes.

September to  October is the time for harvesting Corn ( Scientific name: Zea mays) in the Hills of Mussoorie, Uttrakhand and thus the perfect time to visit  Bhatoli the CORN Village.

An enchanting view of the stepped farms of the Hills.Can you spot the Corn on the roof?

Himalayan Village of Corn
Himalayan Village of Corn

Homes in the hills have been traditionally made of Wood. The sturdy  though now endangered Himalayan White Oak ( Quercus leucotrichophora)  covers most of these Hills and has been a source of timber for generations.

This traditional carved wooden  door welcomes us to the  quaint village of CORN.

a 100 year old beckons

A 100-year-old wooden door  old beckons

The first  stunning view of corn bunched up and hung upside down leaves me gazing in awe.It stunned my camera too which simply stopped working thereafter.

The heritage  wooden home in the centre is  now gradually being replaced by brick and concrete homes.

old home made of wood
An ancient wooden home decorated with corn

As I  walk through this Organic and incredibly clean village I realize why it is called the CORN VILLAGE.

corn dries out
Corn dries out

Colourful sunbathing Quilts give the Corn company  in this house adorned by two dish antennas.

Quilts

Sunbathing Quilts

While wooden homes have been replaced by brick and mortar ( pucca homes as they are called in Hindi) , some traditions like drying the corn, thankfully  remain.

Do notice the spotless alleys.

new homes

new homes

Another breathtaking view of a house with corn hung from the roof and the hills in the background.

the side of the large house
Drying corns forms a beautiful trim of the roof

A far distance from its Mexican Origins , Corn has overrun this house in the scenic village of Bhatoli.

engulfed by corn
engulfed by corn

Signing off as I sit down for a typical Gharwali lunch and Chapatis ( Indian Bread) made of Corn flour.

A marvelous trail planned to perfection by Prateek and Vaidehi of JW Marriott Walnut Grove Resort & Spa, Mussoorie. The bike ride was a steal.

A wonderful outreach by the luxurious Hotel  to the friendly and hospitable villagers who spread out a welcome feast.

Hope you have read the earlier posts ( THE SECRET TRAP and THE MUSHROOM TRAIL) , all part of the WALNUT TRAIL.

Be not impatient friends, the Walnuts will follow as well. Keep following.

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THE DOORWAY

Dwarka ( dwar in hindi )  literally translated means the DOORWAY .

DWARKA is an ancient city steeped in mythology and is located at the western edge of India and overlooks the vast ARABIAN SEA.

It is supposed to have been built thousands of years ago and was once  a thriving port city.It was the Door to the Seas.

A lighthouse reminds us of trading ships  laden with silk and spices once docking here from faraway lands of the Pharaohs in  Egypt.

The lighthouse represents  the western edge of  INDIA.

The lighthouse
The lighthouse

Dwarka finds a unique place in Hindu scriptures. It was the magnificent and prosperous capital of Lord Krishna thousands of year go.

Going back to 2500 BC , Dwarka is repeatedly mentioned in historical references  as well as in Hindu scriptures.

Recent Explorations and surveys of the sea bed near modern Dwarka  have revealed the existence of a  city (much like Atlantis) retaken by the sea.

The temple at Dwarka is an important site of pilgrimage for Hindus and is one the four CHARDHAMS , each located at the four corners  of the county.

the sadhu
the sadhu at sea

This temple is called Samudra Mandir or the THE SEA TEMPLE.

Gazing out towards the endless waters of the ARABIAN SEA is a unique and  humbling experience.

samudra temple
Samudra temple at Dwarka

I peered through a small window inside the temple and watched the waters swirl and  crash against the rocks below as the River Gomti submerges itself into the Sea.

This temple is located at the confluence of the River Gomti and the Arabian Sea in Dwarka.

through the window
The Arabian sea glimpsed  through a peephole in the temple

I sign off with this heavenly view.

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.

THE GOLDEN PALACE

The City Palace, Udaipur is definitely the most Romantic and Gorgeous Palace  I have seen during my travels across 6 continents.

Located on the banks of  LAKE PICHOLA , UDAIPUR  it rises majestically  from the  ghats of the lake.

One magical evening  inside the palace and I witnessed it  transforming  into A PALACE OF GOLD.

The City Palace is the venue of a wonderful Sound and Light show every evening.

A fabulous museum within this complex of Palaces  takes you back in time to 746 A.D.

The first lights
                                                                                    The first lights

A the sun sets over Udaipur, lights are turned on in sequence in the Palace.

The City Palace as it is called now is an amalgamation of many palaces, two of which are 5 Star hotels. Built over the years in sections it goes back to the 16th Century.

The current ruling family of Mewar ( Udaipur) resides within the palace even today.

The Zenana Mahal
The Zenana Mahal

The Palace of the Queens  or the Zenana Mahal  is the highest residential area  of the palace and home to a lovely garden as well.

slowly the lights come on in sequence
                                                               Closser look at  The Zenana Mahal

The gradual transformation of the palace is now visible  as the setting sun  lingers over the horizon. A golden glow emanates from within the palace .

Have a look.

the lights create magic

The lights create magic

The  Tripoli gate ( Three Gates)  was built in 1725 and is the entry into the flamboyant  palace from the busy streets of the  Jagdish Temple via the Bada Pol.

the sun has set and the lights are on
                                                            The lights keep the darkness at bay

It is a breathtaking moment as within seconds and  right before your eyes the entire PALACE changes into a PALACE OF GOLD  .

Do observe the changing colour of the sky as the sun sets and the effect the  lights have on the CITY PALACE.

the transformation is complete
                                                               The transformation is complete

Pictures are Straight off the Camera.

FRAGRANCE OF UDAIPUR

The Splendour  of Udaipur and the King Of Fruits cast an enchanting spell on all who to visit this JEWEL of INDIA.

Be soaked in Joy and Happiness travelling back in time in UDAIPUR.

The Mango( Mangifera Indica)  tree in blossom at Amet Haveli , Lake Pichola Udaipur.

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                                                   The Ambrai or The Mango Orchard

The largest fruit bearing tree in the world it can attain  a height of upto 40 m.( 120 feet). The blossoms have an overpowering aroma.

Mangoes are native to the Indian Subcontinent and the leaves  form an integral part in  weddings to date

Ancient palaces  dotted with ancient Mango trees circumvent the Romantic Lake Picchola.

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                                                               The Palace and Mango trees 

The Lake Pichhola was once home to Crocodiles and they are depicted in wall paintings inside the Gorgeous and Historical City Palace.

Lake Pichola and Mango trees
                             The Majestic Palaces and Mango trees tell stories of the past