Historical

Outstanding Orchha

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Orchha is breathtakingly beautiful. Regal on appearance and serene in ambiance. Apart from Jehangir Mahal, the Raja Mahal, Rani Ki Mahal, Rai Praveen Mahal and Sheesh Mahal adorn the dusty hill tops of Orchha. The last named has been converted into a heritage hotel by M.P. tourism with limited accommodation and unlimited scope for improvement in maintenance. There is an interesting anecdote about the Rai Praveen Mahal. Rai Praveen was a courtesan and an accomplished poetess in the Orchha kingdom. For her legendary beauty, she was once sent to the “Harem” of Emperor Akbar against her wishes, as she was deeply in love with Raja Indramani of Orchha. On a face to face meeting with the great Emperor in the Mughal court, she recited one of her poem telling that only “a crow and a dog eat off the used plate of another”. Akbar was too smart and generous to understand the subtle hint and immediately ordered Rai Praveen’s return to Orchha in full honour. All other palaces have their attendant history as well.

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Road journeys – Porbandar to mythological Dwarka:

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Contrarily once we reached near the shrine premise, we were glad to see that despite of innumerable devotees there was no chaos and seemed that excellent care has been taken to maintain the sanctity in a well managed way. Far from the entry, cloak rooms with numbered bags are kept in trolleys which can be used to keep off the shoes of the entire group together and deposit it in queue by any one person and obtain a token for free. The valuables like mobiles, cameras etc can also be deposited in another such cloak room adjacent to the shoe stand. It is better to keep the cameras, mobiles & other valuables back in your hotel to avoid delays at depositories.

A team of well mannered security staffs are always ready to guide you amicably for entering into the shrine. Different check points for ladies and gents are equipped with metal detectors and scanners in ‘working condition’ besides physical checking but without hassle. In no time we entered through the giant gate inside the premise and were soon lucky to catch the Shayan Arti at 8.30 pm. The divinity and magnificence of the deity left us in awe and nostalgic. The glittering glossy idol, laden with gold and gems and ornamented with a tilted crown touched the heart immensely and deep immersed the soul in an ocean of sanctum satisfaction with fulfillment. It is perhaps because Lord Krishna is worshiped here as the emperor of Dwarka. The Shayan Arti is performed for 5 minutes only but the rhythmic devotional vibrations lasted till long after. Similarly the divine darshan of the lord continued captured back on memory in persistence of vision.

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Road journeys – Diu to Porbandar, Land of the Father of Nation

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“Mangrol is an important harbour as far as the fish industry is considered. There are many fisheries located here and exports to many European nations. The fishermen of Mangrol are infamous for being caught many-a-times by the Pakistan Coast Guard for entering their naval territories in search of fish”.

We were looking forward to see the much heard and boasted coastal highway running parallel to the Arabian Sea. Though almost the entire highway runs along the coast but the sea or its shores is visible only for a stretch of one kilometer. After long wait we finally reached a concrete fly-over kind of bridge at Madhavpur. The sight of infinitive majestic blue of Arabian Sea on our left at a hand shaking distance and rows of palms and greenery comprising tall pillars with massive blades of the wind mills standing erect with pride & humility on the right was like reaching a dream land. The SUZLON wind-mills claim providing 24 hour power to the state. According to official data, wind power generations capacity in the state has increased a staggering ten times in just six years. As per C-WET data, the total installed capacity in Gujarat stood at 3093 MW.

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Santiniketan-Trip to Tagore’s Abode

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As I saw little children studying beneath the trees I kept comparing it with the classes held in our city schools with air-conditioners and state-of-the-art technology. How claustrophobic the city children must be feeling, I wondered. For once, I imagined myself to be a child, sitting with those little kids beneath the shadowy mango trees reading Tagore’s verses or perhaps solving sums even. We also visited the various schools inside the campus like ‘Patha Bhavan, China Bhavan, Hindi Bhavan’ where various subjects are taught in foreign languages as well. With alumni list including Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Satyajit Ray, nothing more is required to be said about this world class university. On our way back to hotel we took a glimpse of the prayer house.

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Santiniketan-Roadway and Lodging Review

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The place was named Amrakunj as Tagore had planted by himself 108 mango trees in this garden. As I saw little children studying beneath the trees I kept comparing it with the classes held in our city schools with air-conditioners and state-of-the-art technology. How claustrophobic the city children must be feeling, I wondered. For once, I imagined myself to be a child, sitting with those little kids beneath the shadowy mango trees reading Tagore’s verses or perhaps solving sums even. We also visited the various schools inside the campus like ‘Patha Bhavan, China Bhavan, Hindi Bhavan’ where various subjects are taught in foreign languages as well. With alumni list including Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Satyajit Ray, nothing more is required to be said about this world class university. On our way back to hotel we took a glimpse of the prayer house.

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Bone Church of Kutna Hora

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The guide there gave us a leaflet and the (short) story behind the church goes like this
“The tradition in this town was that whenever any influential person of the city died his bones were used to be donated to the church and buried under it. Around 18th Century the city was hit by plague and a large number of population died. The supply of the bones was too much to handle for the church, so they dig up a large area under the church and dumped all the bones there. Still many were left, one of the rich of the city hired some workers and used these bones to create what you see in the pics ”
The center of the church has a grand Chandelier, all of bones. The special thing about this chandelier is that you will find each bone that exists in human body as a part of it. You will be amazed to see the beautiful patterns created with human bones and the number of humans “consumed” to create this one structure.

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Getting lost in Sambhar Lake

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On the way back, we drove the entire distance over lake only. Trying to absorb more of that dry-dusty frame. We also learned that ‘Jodha Akbar’ was shot here and apparently they created the entire war set here. Another movie, this time of junior Bacchan was shot in the main town. We dropped the Sambhar Salts gentleman back after thanking him for all his help and started back.

As we were driving back, I was thinking that how long the lake would remain like that. Probably 50 years down the line, this story would look like a legend. May be the area would get habituated, the land would be reclaimed to build SEZs and factories or may be the new Jaipur Airport. Who can imagine a 230 sq KM dry lake which is open for driving. You tell that to your grandkid and he would laugh it off. Go and look at it before it vanishes.

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झीलों का शहर और बारिश की रिमझिम (उदयपुर में दो दिन)

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सिटी पैलेस का भ्रमण पूर्ण करने के पश्चात अगले आकर्षण गुलाब बाग़ जाने के लिए सिटी पैलेस से बाहर निकलते ही ऑटो तैयार खड़े थे, उनमे से ही एक ऑटो पर सवार होकर गुलाब बैग कि सैर पर चल पड़े. गुलाब बाग़ का नाम सुनने में तो केवल बाग़ का ही परिदृश्य आँखों में घूमता है, पर इस बाग़ में पर्यटको विशेषकर बच्चों को लुभाने के लिए जन्तुशाला (zoo), टॉय ट्रैन कि सवारी, झूले, जलपान आदि कई अन्य मनोरंजक सुविधाएं भी उपलब्ध हैं. बच्चों के लिए तो गुलाब बाग़ कि सैर बहुत ही आनंददायक लग रही थी. इस समय बारिश भी रुक गयी थी. लेकिन झूले अभी भी गीले थे और उनके आस-पास पानी भरा होने के कारण बच्चे झूलों का पूरा मज़ा नहीं ले सके. इस कमी को टॉय ट्रैन कि सवारी ने पूरा कर दिया. ट्रैन में बैठे-बैठे ही पूरे बाग़ के भ्रमण के साथ ही जन्तुशाला (zoo) देखते हुए बच्चे-बड़े सभी रोमांचित हो उठे.
गुलाब बाग़ कि सैर के बाद हमारा अगला पड़ाव दूध तलाई नामक स्थान था. दूध तलाई उदयपुर का एक बहुत ही सुन्दर आकर्षण है. दूध तलाई नाम का एक छोटा सा ताल लेक पिछोला से सटा हुआ है. इसके आस पास का दृश्य बहुत ही सुहाना और मन को मोह लेने वाला है. यहाँ के मुख्य आकर्षणों में पैदल बोट, मोटर बोट, कैमल राइड, सनसेट पॉइंट, करनी माता मंदिर, रोपवे ट्राली आदि हैं. यहाँ चारों और मनोरंजन, रोमांच और प्राकृतिक सौंदर्य फैला हुआ है. दिन भर के सैर-सपाटे के बाद दूध तलाई कि ये शाम बहुत ही आरामदायक लग रही थी.

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Some Days in Gujarat…. Adalaj Ni Vav and GandhiNagar sojourn

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Legend says that Mahmud Begara was mesmerised by the beauty of the Queen Roopoba, the wife of the chieftain and had promised to complete the structure if the queen marry the ruler as the Vaghela ruler had died till then. Structure was completed by Mahmud but the queen instead of marrying him, committed suicide by jumping from the uppermost story of this step well.

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Road Journeys – Towards Somnath, In search of enlightenment

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Soon, we reached at my fourth Jyotirling, Somnath. Parking the car a few meters away in a very large space with unorganized parking facility though I hurriedly jogged to have the glance of the magnificent temple about which I have read so much in our history books during school and also in visual media. Soon a right turn left me in awe with eyes wide open to see the magnitude and glamour of the historical and mythological grand shrine at the shores of Arabian Sea, an architectural marvel standing erect in pride.

A large boundary around the shrine, with many visible vigil eyes, armed guards, innumerable CCTV cameras and steel barricading with metal detectors, scanners besides checking physically to every entrant beyond the permissible limit, reminds the history of destructions of the shrine in the past and its prone to vulnerability in the future.

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Sanchi – of Serene and Secluded Stups

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After wandering around the hill, you are drawn back to the crown jewel that is the Stup 1. The four magnificent gateways with their exquisite carvings are the main attraction of Sanchi and its trademark. The stup was embellished with the eye-popping carved torans in the 1st century BC by the Satavahans. Satavahans were the right people with the right credentials for the job. They gave us the glorious Ajanta temples. You are just relieved that the torans have survived for over two thousand years in almost pristine condition. Of course credit goes to Cunningham and Marshall for the restoration efforts.

The four gateways are installed at four cardinal directions of the stup. They have a common design – two square pillars with capitals and surmounted by three parallel architraves. All sides of the columns and the rear and front of the architraves are profusely carved. You could mistake the carved panels for wood or ivory. A lot of carving is overlapping and would require highly skilled workers. Reportedly, the workers were ivory carvers of Vidisha.

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