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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 Kolu at Home

For the last three years , the focal point of our Navaratri Kolu has been Samhith's train set. Our entire decoration is arranged around the track, and o0ur tunnel last year was a huge hit with all the kids! It was no surprise therefore that Samhith wanted a tunnel this year too! With the idea of giving you all something different to look forward to, we have set up a village this year around the Kolu steps. Without more ado, let me invite you into our home for our kolu.... This is what you see as soon as you step in...

Navaratri Preparations

Its time for yet another festival - one which gives me the maximum opportunity to use my creativity - Navaratri - the festival of nine nights.  These nine nights (and days) are dedicated to the goddess in her myriad forms, and this festival is a celebration of not just the mother goddess, but also her creations. For us, South-Indians, Navaratri is a time for the Bommai Kolu (or Golu) , a series of steps with dolls placed on them, and also a time for socialization. The kolu represents the different stages and aspects of life. The bottom steps represent life as we know it - as humans. We therefore use them to depict scenes from life. The higher steps are meant to represent our quest for divinity - which is represented by dolls showing stories from mythology involving gods and demigods. The highest steps are used to show the Gods, who are, after all, believed to be above us all! Apart from the dolls placed on the steps, we also decorate an area around the steps, usually based on som

Badami Cave Temples Part 4

The fourth cave at Badami is the only Jain cave among the four. This is also by far the simplest cave, though there are quite a lot of renditions of the Jain Tirthankars. This was also the only cave which the school students gave a miss, so it was practically empty! Unfortunately, this cave seems to get less than its rightful share of eyeballs, so it was dark and dank. The inner sanctum was so dark that I could see nothing! Our guide didn’t have a torch, and since it was late in the evening, I managed to get a decent capture of the sanctum with my camera in the ‘night’ mode! The sanctum houses an image of Mahavira…. Outside are many interesting carvings of Jain Tirthankars….. My knowledge of these is rudimentary, so let me just take you on a photo-tour…

Badami Cave Temples Part 3

Badami Caves Part 1 Badami Caves Part 2 My main worry while on our tour of Badami and surrounding places was how Samhith would react to seeing just sculptures and temples all day long. He had tired of temples after Aihole and Pattadakkal, but Badami was interesting because of the caves. Besides, the beautiful work on the rough stone, made over a thousand years ago seemed to excite him. However, by the time we had climbed up to the third cave, his enthusiasm was flagging, especially seeing all the other visiting children clambering all over (something I wouldn’t allow him to do!) I hoped there would be something in the third cave to keep him attentive, but I needn’t have worried! He was all agog, because, by now, he could identify some of the figures by himself, something which impressed our guide, and this made him feel extremely proud of himself! The third cave is also dedicated to Vishnu and is the most beautiful one with the most intricate of sculptures.

Badami Cave Temples Part 2

Please read the first part Badami Cave Temples Part 1 (if you haven’t already) before reading this one! The caves at Badami have become quite a tourist attraction, and also a popular spot for school picnics and excursions. When we visited the caves in late December, there was a huge crowd of school students, all of them thrilled at having a day off from studies. The teachers accompanying them seemed bored, and least interested in anything except making sure that the children didn’t lean too much over the parapet wall and fall off!

The Cave Temples of Badami

The main attractions at Badami are the rock cut cave temples. Carved out of the sandstone cliffs in the late 6 th and 7 th centuries, these caves have a verandah at the entrance with pillars cut into the stone. This leads to a pillared hall or mandapa, which in turn leads to a small sanctum. There are 4 such caves – the first one is dedicated to lord Shiva, the second and third are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the fourth one is a Jain cave. Come along with me for a photo-tour of the caves. Please excuse the quality of the photographs. I have tried to capture the beauty I saw all around me, but, there are many which do not do justice to the beauty of the originals. It was evening when we visited the caves, so the light wasn’t too helpful. Besides, the caves were so filled with school children who had come on a picnic, that just getting a shot without them in the frame was a challenge!

Badami Fort

Huge red sandstone cliffs are all we can see as we drive into Badami. Soon, the lake comes into view, and the two sets of cliffs which attract thousands of visitors to this small town become clearer. Opposite us we can see the famed caves filled with tourists who stand out against the red rocks in their multi-coloured clothing. On the other side, we see a board announcing the presence of the ASI museum, and over it, an arch which appears to be the entrance of a fort. Our driver discourages us from entering. “Madam, there is nothing to see there… just two old and broken temples, and the climb is strenuous. Everything here was destroyed by the Pallava kings. No one goes there. It will be deserted.  Let us go and see the caves instead.” However, the cliffs are too inviting to miss and a sudden desire to climb and see the ruins of the old temples strikes me. Besides, every place we visited has been crowded, and the caves seem to be full too. The strain of climbing seems to be t

Ganpati Bappa Morya! Pudchya Varshi Laukar Yaa!

Those are the words which resound through the air as we bid goodbye to the Lord. Literally, they would translate to 'Glory to the Lord! Come again soon next year', but to the devotees who bid goodbye to the Lord with these words, it means so much more. 

One Last Ganpati Before Its Time to Bid Him Goodbye!

Tomorrow , we bid goodbye to Ganesha, and have to wait for one full year before he arrives again. I have taken you along as I visited Ganeshas all over Mumbai, and there is just enough time to share with you the last one for this year........ This one is the one in our colony - the Chedda Nagar Ganpati.

A Collaborative Post on Ganesh Chaturthi

A festival is all about getting together, and what symbolizes it more than the Ganesh Chaturthi which brings together the most disparate of Indians? On the 9th day of the festival, as the Lord readies to go back to his abode, Arti from  My Yatra Diary  has managed to get together 4 of us bloggers to write our own versions of the way we celebrate the festival.  My contribution is about the Ganeshas we made at home.... and Santosh from Bangalore, who writes on Huchchara Santhe writes about the Gauri and Ganesh Puja celebrated all over Karnataka. Abhi from Be the Geek , like Samhith, seems to love the Prasad at the various Ganpati Pandals all over Mumbai.. and Mercury from FZed Chronicles talks about the celebrations in Goa. Its a beautifully put together post, so please do go over and read it! Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations - Transcending Virtual Boundaries, Bringing Bloggers Together Last but not the least, Thanks Arti for this wonderful opportunity!

Visiting the Matunga Ganpatis

Matunga is a place closely associated with South Indians living in Mumbai. I remember braving the train crowds as a child, visiting Matunga to see the Ganpatis, and especially the serial lights strung up all along the roads. I was then brought here by my uncle. Later, as I studied at Ruia College, I no longer needed anyone to accompany me. The ten days of the festival used to be busy ones for me, as I explored every lane looking for some interesting Ganeshas or at least some interesting decorations. Time has moved swiftly since then, and now, I take Samhith along to show him the Ganeshas I have enjoyed watching for so many years! 

A Few More Interesting Ganeshas

Now that our own Ganesha has left, we have time to go and see a few more Ganeshas around us.... Here are a couple of interesting ones we came across.... This one was Krishna-style, with a flute and Gopis in attendance..... This one was simple, sort of like the Dagdu Sheth Ganpati in Pune...

Bidding Goodbye to Ganesha at Home..........

.....A Small experiment and some thoughts it threw up..... We bid goodbye to the Lord at our home today. For those who are new to this blog, here is some background information.... We had placed 3 Ganesha idols in our Puja this year . The first and main one was made by me, and I tried to make it a little colourful by painting some Geru or Chemman , which is basically red brick powder.The second and third were made by Samhith. Today, when it for time for the Lord to leave, we were faced with a dilemma - which ones should we immerse, and which should we keep? Finally, after much discussion, we came to an agreement. For more than 40 years, our Ganesha idol has been sent for immersion with the big Ganesha of the neighboring colony, (remember the Facebook Ganesha ?) and I wasn't in the mood to change the tradition just because I had made the idol. Hence our main idol continued the tradition, joining his friends on his journey home. 

When Ganesha tells us Stories..

One of the most interesting things about the Sarvajanik Ganpati Pandals is the pains they take to decorate it, especially to relate a story. While it is certainly a great stage for bringing social issues to the fore, even a mythological or historical tale has its plus points, especially if it is interesting enough for kids (and adults) to want to know more! We have visited quite a lot of Ganeshas in our locality, but there are two we always look forward to. 

Reflections of Ganesha

It is time for us to reflect.....

Ganesha on Facebook

As I do every year, this year too, I will take you along with me as I visit Ganeshas in and around my locality. I start the series today with our favourite Ganesha at the moment. This Ganesha has been installed in our neighbouring building, and Samhith went over to take a look as soon as it arrived. He came back all agog at the theme.....

Welcoming Lord Ganesha

Yesterday was a day for celebrations - and as is usual for any mass celebration in India, filled with the noise of drums and brass bands, people dancing on the streets, and loads of colour being thrown in joy! Even heavy rains didnt dampen the enthusiasm, even as Ganesha idols continued to be brought in, late into the evening! We welcomed our own Ganesha idols rather quietly, with Samhith starting off the puja this year. After all, he had a hand in the idols too this year. We went completely eco-friendly, using the clay idols we had made. The idol in front is the one I made.. The smaller ones behind are Samhith's We went for a walk in the evening, in spite of the rain, hoping to see some Ganeshas, and we weren't disappointed. Some of them were still making their way to their pandal, thanks to the pouring rains and potholed roads slowing them down!

Ganesh Chaturthi 2011 - The Festival begins!

This blog has been selected by Blogadda for the week's Spicy Saturday Picks, 3rd September, 2011! Click on the image or the link above to see the other wonderful posts on the list! Ganesh Chaturthi is here and Mumbai is all set to welcome its favourite God. The most interesting thing about Mumbai's Ganesha's is their variety - we see all sorts of Ganeshas in all sorts of sizes - tiny to huge, Ganeshas with their parents, Ganeshas dressed like Krishna, Ganesha dressed in modern clothes.. the list in endless. Come and see our Ganeshas through my lens.... Waiting for a coat of paint