Religious

केदारनाथ यात्रा 2014 – नॉएडा से गुप्तकाशी – भाग 1

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श्रीनगर कुछ देर मे आने ही वाला था अब जाकर कुछ ट्रैफिक नज़र आने लगा था। महिंद्रा बोलेरो, टाटा सूमो, लोगों की पर्सनल गाड़ियाँ सटासट दौड़ रही थी। किसी पर बीजेपी तो किसी गाडी पर आप(आम आदमी पार्टी) के। तभी एक पुलिस वाले ने हाथ दिया, मैंने सोचा हो सकता है दिल्ली कि गाडी और अकेला सवार है कहीं ये सोचकर रोक रहा हो। मैंने गाड़ी रोकी, एक पुलिस कर्मी मेरी तरफ़ आया और दूसरा गाड़ी के आगे खड़ा हो गया। मुझे डरने की कोई लोड नहीं थी गाड़ी के कागज़ पूरे थे।

पुलिस वाला – कहाँ जा रहे हो ?
मैं – केदारनाथ।

पुलिस वाला – अकेले ?
मैं – हाँ।

पुलिस वाला – बड़ी हिम्मत है।
मैं – बस जि मूड़ कर गया।

दूसरा पुलिस वाला – क्या आप मुझे श्रीनगर तक छोड़ दोगे ?
मैं – मोस्ट वेलकम। आजाओ।

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Road Journeys – Circulating the Kutch: Narayan Sarovar & Koteshwar Mahadev

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The road was throughout single, isolated, un-inhabited and sheer windy along the creek and amidst thick long thorny bushes, but well maintained, perhaps due to military access. Luckily, the longest ever 30 km road was negotiated skillfully and we reached Narayan Sarovar before it was too dark. Later realized that we have not happened to see any wild life in the entire stretch, not even a Chinnkara or any Great Indian Bustard for which the sanctuary is meant.

On enquiries, we were informed about availability of fuel in every 2nd shops there, but at a much higher price, almost double. Helplessly, I had to pay Rs. 500/- after a bargain for 5 litres of contaminated petrol.

For information, the only accommodations available at Narayan Sarovar are the nominally paid Dharamshalas and no eateries as well. Langars at the old Dharamshala however, serve the purpose. The only public conveyance is a bus that reaches late evening and leaves early in the morning, connecting Bhuj.

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K5 Chandigarh to the Hippyland Kasol and Manikaran

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It was a great relief when we crossed Bilaspur. Next big milestone was for Sunder Nagar which is about 43km. It was my first trip on this route. I had heard all the names of the places en route, but never visited one before. I was as excited as a child must be when he gets his first summer vacation. But, I had observed that Bollywood movies do not adopt these hill stations, they only adopt their names. The place called Kasauli in ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ was in no means Kasauli. So I assumed that Sunder Nagar will not be the place called Sunder Nagar in the movie “Main Prem Ki Diwani Hun”. I was absolutely right, it was a different place, and yes it is beautiful. We stopped there for a while. There’s a bridge (I don’t know where it leads to), there were many ‘kulche wallahs’ along that bridge. Arun could not help but to satisfy his pallet. Sunlight had started diminishing by now. Birds can be seen in groups, returning to their nests. We decided to cover one more stretch i.e. Sunder Nagar to Mandi which is about 40km.

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Road Journeys – Jamnagar to Bhuj: Tankara, Birthplace of the Ascetic “Swami Dayanand Saraswati”

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Maharshi Dayānand Saraswati was born on 12 February 1824 at Tankara, Gujrat. He was an important Hindu religious leader of his time. He is well known as the founder of the Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement of the Vedic tradition. He was a profound scholar of the Vedic lore and Sanskrit language. He was the first to give the call for Swarajya as “India for Indians” in 1876, later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak.

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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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ब्रज भूमि भ्रमण : बरसाना-नंदगाँव में होली का हुड़दंग

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मथुरा-वृंदावन के मंदिरों के दर्शन के पश्चात सोमवार 11 मार्च, 2014 को बरसाना की यात्रा का कार्यक्रम बनाया. बरसाना की विश्वप्रसिद्ध लट्ठमार होली के दर्शन की उत्सुकता के कारण आज सुबह सभी लोग जल्दी-जल्दी उठकर तैयार होने लगे. मथुरा-वृंदावन-गोवर्धन आदि स्थानों की यात्रा का सौभाग्य तो कई बार मिला परन्तु बरसाना-नंदगाँव के स्थलों के भ्रमण का ये हमारा प्रथम अवसर था.
प्रातःकालीन दैनिक कार्यों के निवृत्ति और नाश्ते के पश्चात् बुआ जी-फूफा जी से विदा लेकर चलने कि तैयारी की. बरसाना तक पहुँचने के लिए गाडी और ड्राईवर की व्यवस्था के फूफा जी ने करवा दी थी. होली के रंग में रंगने के लिए राधारानी के जन्मस्थल बरसाना की और चल दिए.

बरसाना के होली महोत्सव में श्रीकृष्ण के स्थान नंदगाँव के निवासी बरसाना की गोपियों के साथ होली खेलने तथा राधारानी जी के मंदिर पर ध्वजारोहण के उद्देश्य से बरसाना में आते हैं. बरसाना में गोपियों द्वारा उनका स्वागत रंग-गुलाल के साथ-साथ लट्ठों (डंडों) द्वारा किया जाता है. नंदगाँव के निवासी भी स्वागत के इस तरीके से भली-भाँती परिचित होते हैं और वे रंग-गुलाल के साथ-साथ अपने बचाव के लिए बड़ी-सी मजबूत ढाल लेकर आते हैं. होली के इस अनोखे स्वरुप के कारण ही बरसाना की होली को लट्ठमार होली के नाम से पूरे विश्व में जाना जाता है. इसके अगले दिन बरसाना की गोपियाँ नंदगाँव में होली के लिए जाती हैं और नंदगाँव के निवासी रंग, अबीर, गुलाल से उनको तरह-तरह के रंगों में रंग देते हैं.मथुरा से लगभग 45 किलोमीटर दूर बरसाना जाते हुए रास्ते में गोवर्धन पर कुछ देर रूककर गिरिराज जी परिक्रमा मार्ग पर दंडवत और दानघाटी गिरिराज जी मंदिर को प्रणाम करके बरसाना की ओर चल दिए.

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ब्रज भूमि भ्रमण : मथुरा-वृंदावन के कुछ दर्शनीय स्थल

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निधिवन में विचरने के पश्चात् अभी भी मंदिरों के द्वार खुलने में पर्याप्त समय था. वृंदावन में आकर वृंदावनी लस्सी का मजा अगर नहीं लिया तो वृंदावन का भ्रमण अधूरा ही है. भूख भी लगी हुए थी तो कुछ खाने-पीने के साथ वृंदावनी लस्सी का मज़ा उठाने का यही सही समय था. बाकि बचे समय को श्री यमुना जी का तट पर व्यतीत करने का विचार कर पग यमुना तट की ओर चल पड़े. श्री यमुनाजी भगवान् श्रीकृष्ण की अनेक लीलाओं की साक्षी है. श्री यमुनाजी के तट पर बैठकर भगवन की चीर-हरण, कालिया-दमन आदि अनेक लीलाओं के दृश्य आँखों के सामने तैरने लगते हैं. श्री यमुना जी कि रेत में बच्चे क्रीड़ा करते हुए गीले रेत में सराबोर होकर आनंद के खजाने को खोदने लगे. और धीरे-धीरे समय मंदिरों के द्वार खुलने का हो गया.
सबसे पहले वृंदावन के प्राचीन श्री बांके बिहारी जी मंदिर के दर्शन के लिए मंदिर द्वार पर द्वार खुलने की प्रतीक्षा करने लगे. बांके बिहारी मंदिर भारत के प्राचीन और प्रसिद्ध मंदिरों में से एक है। बांके बिहारी कृष्ण का ही एक रूप है जो इसमें प्रदर्शित किया गया है। इसका निर्माण सन 1864 में स्वामी हरिदास ने करवाया था. वृंदावन में आने वाला प्रत्येक दर्शनार्थी इस मंदिर में श्री बांके बिहारी जी के दर्शन अवश्य करके अपने यात्रा को सफल करने का प्रयत्न करता है.

अन्य प्रसिद्ध मंदिरों में कृष्ण बलराम मंदिर (इस्कॉन टेम्पल) जो कि अंग्रेजों का मंदिर नाम से भी प्रसिद्द है. ISCON के संस्थापक स्वामी प्रभुपाद जी के आदेशानुसार इस मंदिर का निर्माण सन 1975 में करवाया गया. विश्वभर के प्रसिद्द इस्कॉन मंदिरों में से एक वृंदावन का ये एक अतिप्रसिद्ध मंदिर है. वर्षभर इस मंदिर में पूरे विश्व के कृष्ण-भक्तों का यहाँ आना-जाना लगा रहता है. मंदिर में प्रवेश करते ही स्वामी प्रभुपाद जी के महामंत्र (हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे. हरे राम हरे राम राम राम हरे हरे) का मानसिक जाप स्वतः ही प्रारम्भ हो जाता है. मंदिर में सतत चलने वाला महामंत्र का संकीर्तन आगंतुकों को मंत्रमुग्ध कर दर्शन के साथ नर्तन करने को विवश कर देता है.

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A Himalayan Pilgrimage – 1

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When we entered the valley of Badrinath it was a sight to cherish and worth all the efforts. The sun was in full view, though clouds were meandering around. The snow-clad peaks were shining in full glory above the valley. There was not a hint of discomfort which most of us felt at KN, though the altitude of BN at 3411m is only slightly less than that of KN at 3584m. We felt as if we are at Hardwar!

When we reached Srinagar, we thought of it as a lowly (in altitude) place, whereas in the past, on our way up, we thought we were up in heavens when we reached here. Srinagar is indeed a beautiful place with a wide riverbed. One wished one had an extra day for this place.

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Roopkund Trek

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The trek starts from Wan. Wan—10kms—Bedni Bugyal—10—-Baguabasa—-7—Roopkund. The motor route follows the Rishikesh Badrinath highway NH58 till Karanprayag, after which you take the road for Gwaldom. From Tharali, the road to be taken is towards Debal- Lohajung. From Debal, ditch your vehicle and take a local cab, since the road requires a vehicle with good clearance from ground. If you are insane like us and did manage to drive till Lohajung with a lot of pre-inspection of the road and post inspection of your vehicle after crossing the muddy truck track hurdles, do drop it now and take a cab for 500 rupees for 12 kms to Wan where clearance only matters if skills are to match. At one point during the last stretch, the cab really got stuck in mud at a turn which had a steep fall on the driver’s side, tyres deep in 2 feet high slush and the Jeep was swerving unpredictably for us, thankfully the driver knew how much mud wrestling was good for his jeep. To add spice to the events there was a herd of wild boars crossing the road 10 yards in front of us. At Wan we met this interesting guy called Herasingh Bugyali , who introduced himself as an all-rounder. His all rounder definition comprised of being a shop-owner but also being able to lift heavy backpacks and doing roopkund and back in a day. That’s pretty much true about everybody there. So we got two such all rounders or porters and started the trek the next morning at 9, one hour behind fellow Noida trekkers from an IC chip design company. We caught them resting and sharing a cigarette within half a km of the trek. They reached Bedni Bugyal at 10 pm that day, while we had caught lunch at Bedni at 2 pm (such benchmarking always impresses me). If you are carrying your own backpacks don’t imagine to do this one in 5 hours as the climb is attrocious-level-7. Attrocious-level-9 is the final Baguabasa to Roopkund stretch. You might think is this a travelogue or what, a deter-ogue, but trekking here is not easy. Oh and I haven’t told you why not to go to Roopkund between June to September( inclusive). Coz it rains and there’s nothing to see except fog and clouds and all that Trishul jazz, thoughts of views of Nandaghunti and Trishul will tease you. See what I mean.

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The Southern Sojourn – Rameswaram

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It takes around an hour to take bath in all the 22 wells. The modus operandi is simple. There is a person standing by the side of the well ready to pour water on you with a small bucket. Some of the pilgrims make a small donation at each of the wells. We preferred to have holy water sprinkled over us and move to the next well.Despite the fact that thousands of pilgrims are visiting the temple every day and having a bath at these theerthams, it is believed that the tanks around the temple have a perennial source of water.

Having finished the ritual of purifying ourselves at the holy wells, we once again passed through the magnificent corridors, passed by the Nandi and reached the exit gate. I do not know if my sins were washed away, but one thing is certain that the experience of visiting the temple will remain etched in my memory all through my life.

It was around 6.30 in the evening. Still in a trance, I reached the hotel room, ordered a steaming hot cup of tea and thereafter met Rajah, the cabbie whom we had hired for taking us to Kaniyakumari, the southernmost tip of the country, where Swami Vivekanana meditated before proceeding for America and which is the confluence of two great seas – Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea and the great Indian Ocean, about which I would write in my forthcoming post.

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