Chasing the Heavenly Lights !!

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We had information that this year Aurora would be in full swing due to high activities in the sun… My daughter had gifted me a new camera (lumix GF3) so I was ready to see and shoot Aurora this year.   One day I woke up at 5, for drinking a glass of water and when I peeped out of my window, I saw a green colored cloud over my garden.  I was excited that I was watching Aurora from inside my house.  I ran and brought the camera, but by the time I fixed it, the green cloud left and a beautiful blue haze covered the sky.

So first attempt failed.   Evening when we were watching our favorite TV serials, suddenly telephone rang and my friend Hilde was on the other side.  She told me to go to certain place, If I wished to see Northern Lights.  It was a wintery night and temprature was -4, with high winds blowing, but that did not bar us from rushing out.  We drove by the downtown, and near the sea and watched the beautiful Reykjavik in night.

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मसरुर – mini Ellora of Himachal

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Masroor temple complex is about 22 Kms from Ranitaal. RaniTal is a Railway Station for Jwalamukhi. If going to Dharmshala then Ranital comes in way a few Kilometers before Kangra. From RaniTaal one has to take direction of Nagrota Suriyan and on this road one can see directions for Masroor.

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Madrid – Amsterdam in bonus !

Madrid – Amsterdam in bonus !

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The tram brought me back to Centrum and I still had about 1 hour to wander so I walked towards the Dam area, which is a famous touristic spot, with lot of fun, museums, shops etc. There was Madame Tussaud wax museum also, but before the wax museum of London, it is quite small,…but still there was long que before it.

I entered the shop and saw one dark niece of Cleopetra silently deep frying the Pakoras, which are stuffed in Falafel. I asked her to make one for me by stuffing with some onions and other things. She quite rudely told me that she will give the falafel and I have to fill the garnish myself. In Lebanon, the Falfel is wrapped in a thin roti, like mexican tortillas. But she took a bread like “बंद” cut it from half and put the pakoras inside and handed it over to me for filling it with other things. I put the garnishes inside and tried it. The taste was no where like Lebanese falafel, but it was sufficient for a poor veg animal like me. Seeing my face, she asked If I did not like it. I told her that it was ok, but not like the one I ate in Beirut.

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Madrid – tour of the city !–(part 2)

Madrid – tour of the city !–(part 2)

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Crossing one side of the garden and after walking for about 2 Kms, we came out of one side of the garden and found ourselves before another famous landmark of Madrid – La puerta da Alcala…. on in desi style the India Gate of Madrid.

The Alcala Gate is a National Monument and it was designed by famous Italian architect Fransesco Sabatini in 1764. It took 9 years to complete this 19 meter high granite monument. This was a real gate to enter the city of Madrid and was erected to welcome King Charles-III into the city of Madrid.

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MADRID — Bienvenido a España !!

MADRID — Bienvenido a España !!

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Hailing from southern Spain’s outcast populations, flamenco dance and music drew early influences from Greek and Roman and later from Indian, Moorish, and Jewish cultures. With the arrival of the Moorish and Jewish populations to the Iberian peninsula centuries ago, Andalusia’s already thriving music and dance inadvertently began extracting characteristics from the newly-arrived populations. The flamenco dance and music that we see today are the dazzling results of centuries of absorbing and flawlessly sewing together elements of this myriad of diverse cultures.

So due to some Indian connection and to watch beautiful girls, in place of fighting bulls or human animals, I opted for flamenco in a famous hotel nearby and was soon drowned into the dance. See a small clip of flamenco dance on youtube to know about this beautiful art :

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घुमक्कड़ी – कुछ खट्टी – कुछ मीठी ( इस बार विदेशों से)

घुमक्कड़ी – कुछ खट्टी – कुछ मीठी ( इस बार विदेशों से)

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भगत सिंह 22 वर्ष फ्रांस में रहने के बाद भी, गाड़ी होशियारपुर स्टाइल में ही चलाता था… फ्रैंकफुर्त पंहुच कर उसने सीधे हाथ का  इंडिकेटर दिया, और इसी बीच हमारे बीच एक और गाड़ी आ गयी.  जैसे ही हमें सीधे हाथ पर बाहर जाती सड़क मिली, हमने अपनी गाड़ी हाइवे से बाहर निकाल दी… ये सोचकर कि भगत ने कुछ देर पहले इंडिकेटर दिया था….बस यहीं हम पंजाबी ड्राइवरी को समझने में भूल कर गये….भगत सीधा निकल चुका था और हम फ्रैंकफुर्त शहर में प्रवेश कर गये.

हमें न तो ये पता था कि भगत के मित्र का नाम क्या है और न ये कि उसका पता क्या है…. अगर तब तक mobile phones का आविष्कार हो जाता तो हम यूं न गुमते.  खैर हम कुछ दूर चलने के बाद सड़क के किनारे खड़े हो गये और ये सोचकर कि भगत हमें पीछे न देखकर शायद  यहां पंहुच जाये और हमें मिल जाये…पर भगत सिंह को न आना था न आया.

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Lebanon – Casino,  Cedars and Caves !!

Lebanon – Casino, Cedars and Caves !!

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The statue is made of bronze with its hands spread. There are spiral stairs reaching the top of the statue. It is said that the face of the idol, changed direction turning from Beirut towards the christian side, after the civil war where many christians were killed by muslim extremists. Not going into religious faiths, I may still believe it because it is possible due to movement of tectonic plates.

Before, the main statue there is this famous replica of Michelangelo’s celebrated masterpiece, the Pieta sculpture of Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Jesus.

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Iceland —Snow Saga

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The hot summers (+15 Deg C) had gone and slowly the winters were setting in. I was waiting anxiously for the goddess of snow to decorate Iceland, like a new bride. The Sun was becoming paler and had lesser shining times, coming out leisurely and running away hurriedly.

Now let us see the beauty of those places of Iceland, about which I have already explained in my earlier posts…. a different view of Iceland in winters.

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Lebanon – Baalbek & blue river

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So there was Baal Temple, there was Jupiter, Fire, Moon, Mars and other temples which were there before Romans and before pheonician re-built them ! I was thinking was it some distorted form of Shakta tradition of Sanatan Dharam, which was followed here, because in Shakta tradition, Fire and other planets were worshipped and sacrifices of animals or even humans were present then.

Our guide was a Syrian and he explained so beautifully in perfect English, all the aspects of Baalbeck, quite patiently and in details.

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Lebanon – Paradise lost !!

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Once upon a time… there was Lebanon which was called “Paris of Middle East”…and then something happened and the Paris and Pearl of the Middle East.. changed from heaven to hell…. Let us have a look and see what Lebanon has to offer now for Ghumakkars !

It was 2004 and I boarded Air India flight from New Delhi to Dubai for my journey to Lebanon.

The coastal plain of Lebanon is the historic home of a string of coastal trading cities of Semitic culture, which the Greeks termed Phoenicia, whose maritime culture flourished there for more than 5000 years. Ancient ruins in Byblos, Berytus (Beirut), Sidon, Sarepta(Sarafand), and Tyre show a civilized nation, with urban centres and sophisticated arts. Present-day Lebanon was a cosmopolitan centre for many nations and cultures. Its people roamed the Mediterranean seas, skilled in trade and in art, and founded trading colonies. They were also the creators of the oldest known 24-letter alphabet, a shortening of earlier 30-letter alphabets such as Proto-Sinaitic and Ugaritic.

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घुमक्कड़ी – कुछ खट्टी…कुछ मीठी (3)

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नारकण्डा में कुछ देर रुकने के बाद हम लोग वापिस चल दिये. चारों ओर बरफ पड़ी हुई थी, हम लोग धीरे-2 स्कूटर चलाते हुए, गाने सुनते हुए वापिस शिमला-दिल्ली की ओर चल रहे थे. ठियोग ठीक ठाक निकल गया और अब हम फागू वा कुफरी के बीच कहीं थे. प्रदीप आगे चेतक पर था और मैं पीछे अपने सुपर पर. अचानक देखा, प्रदीप लड़खड़ा कर नीचे गिरा… विजय सड़क पर पड़ा था और प्रदीप स्कूटर के साथ घिसट रहा था…मैने जोर से बोला – प्रदीप क्या हुआ, और ब्रेक लगाई… बस हमारा स्कूटर भी लड़खड़ाया और मैं और अवस्थी भी जमीन पर घिसटने लगे. किस्मत बड़ी अच्छी थी कि हम दोनों का स्कूटर ऐसे कोण पर गिरा था कि हम और हमारे स्कूटर खाई की ओर न जाकर पहाड़ की तरफ फिसले और साइड पर पड़े बर्फ के ढेर से टकरा कर. हम रुक गये…
कुछ समझ में नहीं आ रहा था कि हुआ क्या है..

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बद्रीनाथ -Mana, the last village!

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Badrinath is at a height of 11,204 feet above msl. It is around 530 Kms from Delhi and the route is Delhi – Haridwar – Rishikesh -Devprayag-Rudraprayag – Karanprayag-Chamoli -Joshimath – Badrinath. Badrinath route opens in first week of May and is closed for winters after Deepawali.
If going by own vehicle, one has to reach upto Karanprayag or Nandprayag and take a night’s halt. If there are two drivers, one can easily reach upto Joshimathh and stay there, saving one day.
For train journey, the last station is Rishikesh, from where hired taxis, chartered buses, route buses and jeeps are easily available for Badri Nath.

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