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Showing posts from March, 2015

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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Our first encounter with the Kanchenjunga - A Photo Blog

It is the third highest mountain in the world , and the highest in India. Located on the border of Nepal and Sikkim, the name of the mountain range is written in various ways – Kangchenjunga, Kang-cheng-Dzo-nga and Kanchanjanga, among others. It is most commonly called ‘Kanchenjunga’, and it is one of the few mountain ranges so revered that even now, the peak is never scaled, out of respect for local sentiments.

The Gangtok Zoo

We stood on a platform and looked at the woods. Beyond them was the city of Gangtok, and further ahead, we could see the snow-capped mountains.  A small cabin up ahead and a wall partly visible between the pine trees was the only indication that we weren’t really in a forest, but a zoo – the Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park in Gangtok . 

Namchi, Sikkim - Of two statues, temples and some thoughts

A huge statue is visible on the mountain as our car makes its way along the winding roads. We ask what it is and our driver replies “Oh, that is the Padmasambhava Statue. We shall be going there.” Soon, the curves hide the statue from our eyes, and we make our way to a temple complex, over which towers a massive statue of Shiva. 

Some Unexpected Birding in West Sikkim

“Amma, there is a black, white and red bird!” Samhith exclaimed. He had just ventured to the river , which flowed through the Club Mahindra’s property at Baiguney, Sikkim, and was excited to have seen a bird without me! Shankar, returning after a long walk, said he had seen the bird too. That left me, the only enthusiastic birder among the three of us, to have not seen the bird, during my short walk to the river bed. That had to be rectified, so off I went to the river again, and there it was, sitting on a rock, as if waiting for me. White Capped Water Redstart

Sunrise on the Mountains of Sikkim

Waking up at 4 AM is never an easy task for me. But waking up at that unearthly hour to climb up a mountain to see the sunrise? I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to walk. But the activity guy at Club Mahindra’s Baiguney resort was persuasive. “You will easily be able to walk. Its not really a trek. There are steps too.” He assured me, and I finally gave in. Leaving Samhith to sleep in peace, the two of us managed to be awake, and ready at 4:15, all set to see our first sunrise at Sikkim! We had company from the resort, and all of us huddled into cars, and headed to the place from where we would have to walk. And then began the strenuous climb. The sky was already turning orange, and I didn’t want to miss anything, so I managed to pull myself up the steps, just in time to see the beautiful sight. Without wasting any more words, let me show you the sunrise through my lens… The sky began to turn orange, readying for the sun to rise

Our KidZania Experience with Blogadda

Years ago , when I was a kid, playing with friends involved a lot of role-play. Of course, we didn’t call it that. We called our games Ghar-Ghar or Teacher-Teacher, depending on what roles we decided to take on. When I told Samhith about those days, he burst into loud, raucous laughter, one that erupted, to my irritation, every time he remembered that conversation over the next few days. That, however, didn’t stop him wanting to go to KidZania, an indoor theme park, which uses the concept of role play to keep kids engaged, occupied and happy, for several hours at a stretch.

Kanchenjunga Waterfalls

Taking a break from my longer posts , here is a photoblog... of a waterfall we saw near Pelling... This is what you first see when you stop by the road

Khecheopalri Lake - One Lake, Many Legends!

It is a small lake , nestled amidst the mountains, surrounded by forests. The shape is slightly elongated, though not a regular oval. But then, you wouldn’t expect a natural lake to have a perfect shape, would you? At first glance, it appears like any other mountain lake. Why then is this one special? Because, it is associated with the divine, by Buddhists, as well as Hindus!

Pemayangtse Monastery - of art, faith and spirituality

The Pemayangtse Monastery is the second stop on our tour of Pelling. It is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim, as well as one of the most important ones. From the outside, it looks colourful, but we have no clue about what awaits us inside! 

Rabdentse Palace - home of the Sikkim Kings

Three stone structures stand at the edge of the mountain. Behind them is the valley, and beyond it, the mountains stretch as far as our eyes can see. It is an impressive sight, and I can finally understand why the erstwhile rulers of Sikkim chose this as the location of their palace. We are at Rabdentse, the second capital of the Sikkim kings, and the three structures are chortens , where the royal family offered prayers and incense to their deities.

Prayer Flags and Prayer Wheels

Our visit to Sikkim in December 2014 was the first time we had set foot in the North-Eastern parts of India. Everything appeared new, interesting and yes, fascinating. No matter how much we had read or seen photographs of, it was still a ‘First Experience’, and one that we shall always remember. Before I begin my detailed posts on the stories and memories I have brought back, let me show you just what fascinated us the most…. Prayer Flags and Prayer Wheels!

Book Review: Kurukshetra by Krishna Udayasankar

“ Give me the present, Acharya. In return, I will give you the future.”  ……   “I don’t care what you write or do not write, or how you wish to record all that has come to pass. I will neither thwart you nor question your wisdom in presenting and interpreting matters to your convenience. You will determine how the story of the Kurus, of this entire realm will be remembered. It will not matter whether there is war, and if there is one, who wins or loses, who rules as Emperor and who dies on the battlefield without honour or dishonour, as the situation may be. Your place in history, the place of your progeny is secure for millennia to come. Is that not power over the future? ” So says Govinda to the Vyasa , on page 93 of Krishna Udayasankar’s Book 3 of the Aryavarta Chronicles – Kurukshetra. These words struck me when I first read them, and then, after I finished the book, they remained with me, as the defining point of not just the book, but most of history and mythology as we kno

Collecting Memories at Tathagata Farm, Darjeeling

It was in early 2013 that I first heard of Tathagata Farm , near Darjeeling. They invited me to visit their farm stay, but I had no plans then, of travelling east. It was an open offer, they assured me, and I could stay with them whenever I did make the trip. Time passed, and I received a lot more such invites. Some worked, others didn't, many didn't even bother to reply. When I planned my Kolkata and Sikkim trip in December 2014, I remembered them, and wrote, wondering if they would even remember me, or their offer. Plus, I was going with Samhith and Shankar, so, I offered to pay for them, and also for an extra day. Imagine my surprise therefore, when they replied at once, graciously inviting us for two days, asking me only to pay for our transport!  It’s not often that we see such hospitality, and I already looked forward to our stay there!

Journeying into the wild at Jaldapara

It was Sankara , who put the idea of visiting Jaldapara into my head. I was in the process of planning my December trip to Kolkata, Darjeeling and Gangtok, and, happening to meet him, asked his advice. “Why do you want to go to Darjeeling?” He asked. It is so crowded. Why don’t you try Jaldapara instead? You will like the jungle experience. Besides, you just might see some Rhinos!” That word clenched it. I altered my plans, and made time for Jaldapara.