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Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

Navaratri Experiences-1

Navaratri- the nine nights dedicated to the mother goddess is here. Call her by what name you will - Durga, Kali, Parvati, Lakshmi, Saraswati- the names are endless, and so are the types of prayers offered to her. All around me, I can see people of different communities praying to her in their own way, but there is one thing common - the dedication and their belief that the mother will solve all their problems.
Every year, we celebrate these nine days with prayers, parayanams (reading the stories of the Devi), and our traditional 'kolu'. This year, the kolu is missing, for some close relatives have passed away, but the prayers will continue uninterrupted.

These nine days, let me invite you to my neighbourhood, where the temple is the hub of activity. Every morning, the air resounds with the sound of the Devi Mahatmyam being read by the devout, followed by the chanting of slokas. Every evening, special Yagnas are conducted, and again the sound of the priests chanting the sacred mantras reverberates all over the place.

Every evening, the priests put in a lot of effort in putting up a sort of tableau depicting a form of the Lord and the Devi. This is not just decorative, but also informative, seeking to educate youngsters in our spiritual and cultural traditions. This year, the temple authorities have allowed us to take photographs of this decoration, and it is a desire of mine to visit the temple everyday and share my photographs with you all.
Here is my first photograph, taken on the 29th, when the celebrations began.......

From Miscellaneous

Here is Shiva as SOMASKANDAR, as he is seen in the temple at Thiruvarur (near Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu). Here he is seen with Parvati and his young son, Kartikeya. This is one of the rare forms of Shiva where he is seen with his family. In the Thiruvarur temple, even when the Lord is brought out of the temple for a circuit of the town, he is accompanied by his family.

From Miscellaneous



Incidentally, for those who are interested in such things, let me share a little more information about the Thiruvarur Temple. This temple is one of the Saptha Vidanga Sthalams in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. The story goes that King Muchukunda once helped Indra in a fight against the asuras. Happy with the victory, he asked Muchukunda what he wanted. The king replied that he wanted the Lingam which Indra worshipped. Indra was in a dilemma- neither did he want to part with his prized lingam, nor did he want to dishonour his promise. He showed Muchukunda seven identical lingams, and asked him to find the right one. Muchukunda, being a smart king, asked Shiva for help, and correctly identified the right lingam. Pleased with him, Indra offered him all the seven lingams, which Muchukunda consecrated in different temples. The original lingam was consecrated at Thiruvarur. The other lingams are at Nagapattinam (Kayarohanaswamy temple), Vedaranyam, Thirukkuvalai (On way from Thiruvarur to Thiruthiraipoondi, 5Kms from Kachinam), Thiruvaimur (5Kms on road from Thiruvarur to Thirukkuvalai), Thirukkaravasal (12Kms from Thiruvarur) and Thirunallar. Together, these are called the Saptha Vidanga Sthalams. In all these temples, the main deity is called 'Thyagarajar' along with other local names. Also, in all these temples, one can see a shrine of Somakandar.

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