Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Palace of lights – Mysore

Festivity is synonymous with Mysore Dasshera, during which the city celebrates this festival for 10 days. One has to witness this mega festival of lights, dance and music and experience the grandeur of the royal palaces, the spectacular silks, the fragrance of sandalwood and the mouthwatering delicacies. According to the legend this festival is celebrated to mark the victory of Goddess Chamundeshwari of Chamundi Hill over the evil demon Mahishasura.

We were lucky to visit this grand city during Dussehra in September 2009.

The Amba Vilas Palace, which is the home to the Wodeyars was built in 1912. Marking the festive celebration, this palace is illuminated every evening, with 96,200 bulbs, which is indeed a visual treat ! The entire city too is brightly lit with numerous bulbs during this season.

This palace is considered one of the grandest palaces in the world and perhaps houses the most number of light bulbs too !

We visited this palace including the marriage pavilion (thrown open to public only during Dusshera) and were amazed and astounded by the grandeur of this magnificent abode.

Mysore city is rich in culture and heritage is famous for many other specialities too. Thus, Geographical Indicator (GI) status have been conferred on Mysore Silk, Mysore Agarbathi, Mysore beetle leaves, Mysore Sandal Oil, Mysore Sandal Soap, Mysore inlay work, Mysore paintings.

In the evening, we proceeded to visit the famous Brindavan gardens with grand memories of the royal city.

For more information visit: http://mysoretourism.org/
To be contd………

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Experience Karnataka !

Would you like to experience: Variety, Heritage, Wildlife, Romance, Festivity, Divinity and More ?

The official Karnataka tourism website describes the state of Karnataka as: One state, Many worlds. Truly justified !

Recently, in September 2009, we spent four days on a coach trip, starting from Bangalore and explored and discovered the majesty, splendour and the magic of Karnataka !

We booked the three day Karnataka tourism department tour (KSTDC) which covered Mysore, Srirangapatna, Brindavan Gardens, Ooty, Coonoor, Doddabetta and Nanjungud. After completing this 3 day tour, we were so much enthused to discover more of the beautiful state that we booked the one day KSTDC tour covering Sravenbelagola, Halebid and Belur too.

Day 1 - Srirangapatna
On Day 1 at 7.30 am, we departed from the tourist office at Badami House, Bangalore and reached Srirangapatna, here we saw Tipu Sultan's summer palace, Daria Daulat Bagh, which houses a museum too. It is a completely wooded structure, made of teakwood and the structure stands on a raised platform which is around 1.5 meters in height. This stately artifact was constructed in the year 1784 and is situated on the banks of Cauvery river.

Timings of Museum : 9 am. to 5 pm
Admission fees : Rs.5/- per head and free on Fridays.

We then proceeded towards the Srirangapatna Fort. The ramparts of this fort signify the historic battles which were fought here. And the most significant battle was Tipu Sultan's struggle against the British. which ended in his death in 1799.
Within the fort is a mosque and the huge Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple which has an impressive gopuram and fort like walls. In this temple, Swami Ranganatha is depicted as reclining on the bed of Aadi Sesha, the serpant lord.
We then headed towards Mysore ….. to be continued ……

Note: For details about tour packages log on to: www.karnatakaholidays.net

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

World's Hottest Chilli !

Chillies or chilly powder are an indispensable ingredient in the preparation of Indian dishes and are used to render ‘hotness’ or pungency to a dish. How hot can a chilli be ? Only recently the Naga Jolokia, originating in the Assam region of northeastern India, was officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s hottest chilli measuring at over 1,000,000 Scoville Units (SCH)
This chilli is also grown in the states of Nagaland and Manipur in India.

What is in a name ? The Naga Jolokia was so named after the Naga Warriors who once inhabited Nagaland in northeast India, who were renowned for being very ferocious.Thus it is also called Bih Jolokia (Bih = 'poison', Jolokia = 'chilli pepper) or Bhut Jolokia (Bhut = 'ghost', probably due to its ghostly bite)

Whew ! It seems that this chilli has enough heat to make a volcano explode ! How does one measure the hotness of a chilli (pepper) ? The Scoville scale is a measure of the 'hotness' of a chilli pepper or anything derived from chilli peppers, i.e. hot sauce. The scale is actually a measure of the concentration of the chemical compound capsaicin which is the active component that produces the heat sensation for humans.

Measuring pepper hotness: The scale or test is named after Wilbur L. Scoville, who developed the Scoville Organoleptic Test in 1912 while working at the Parke Davis pharmaceutical company. As originally devised, a solution of the pepper extract is diluted in sugar water until the 'heat' is no longer detectable to a panel of (usually five) tasters; the degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale.
The greatest weakness of the Scoville Organoleptic Test is its imprecision, because it relies on human subjectivity.
Of late, capsaicin concentrations are determined using more scientific methods, like High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) This method directly measure the amount of capsaicin and provides much more accurate results than sensory methods.

HOT OR NOT: The chilli hotness scale, depicted in Scoville Heat Units
Pure capsaicin: 15 million to 16 million (Hottest)
Naga-Bih Jolokia pepper: 1,001,304
Dorset Naga: 923,000
Red Savina habanero: 577,000
Scotch bonnet: 100,000-325,000
Jamaican hot pepper: 100,000-200,000
Cayenne pepper: 30,000-50,000
Jalapeno pepper: 2,500-8,000
Pimento: 100 to 500
Bell pepper: 0 (Mildest)
Only pure capsaicin - the active heat ingredient in chillis - measures higher on the Scoville scale.

As a healing agent:
Since ancient times, chillies, have been used by healers to cure a variety of ailments. They have been used externally to relieve pain and internally to cure many ailments and some of its medicinal properties are listed below:
 Stimulant
 Tonic
 Sialagogue - Promotes the flow of saliva
 Alterative Facilitates a beneficial change in the body - to help the body's drive to restore itself to normal health
 Rubefacient Reddens the skin by increasing the circulation when rubbed onto the surface
 Carminative - Prevents gas forming in the intestines and also assists in expelling it
 Anticoagulant - Helps prevent the formation of blood clots which can cause heart attacks and strokes
 Digestive
Capsaicin ointments have been found to relieve the pain of arthritis and shingles when applied externally, and, taken internally, capsaicin triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, which has a pain relieving effect similar to that of morphine.

Nutritional facts: A single pepper has been found to contain a full day's supply of beta carotene and nearly twice the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C, which makes the chilli an invaluable food in the fight against cancer and heart disease. Chillies may also help in weight loss by speeding up the metabolism !

So, are you ready to take the ghostly poison bite ?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

World's Richest Temple !

The ancient and sacred, gold-gilded temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatachala of the Tirupati Hill, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, is the richest temple in the world !

The temple is visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily, while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000, making it one of the most visited holy place in the world.

We, my husband, daughter and I, visited this temple in March 2007, as we wanted to visit the Lord and take his blessings coupled with the fact that we wanted take our daughter auspicious haircut to this place too (It is considered auspicious, if a child has a haircut (complete tonsure) here at Tirupathi, before the attaining one year of age, or after 3 years of age)

The temple, was well lighted on the occasssion of Ugadi, the Telugu New Year,celebrated in March, in Andhra Pradesh. We attended the Shastradeepa Alankara puja (Thousand lamps puja - ceremony to praise the Lord) which starts at around 5.30 pm at Tirupathi, wherein the deities are carried outside the temple and puja is performed. The main deity resides in the sanctum sanctorum, situated in the main temple complex of Tirumala.

Each time I visit this temple I am mystified and awestruck by a strong divine force on seeing the huge idol of the Lord of the Seven Hills. Each time I was allowed (due to the large influx of devotees waiting in long queues, patiently for the Lord's darshan) to see the Lord's statue for only about a minute, but that instance, I was overwhelmed with immense satisfaction on seeing the Almighty ! But upon leaving this temple, instantly I feel the strong urge to see the Lord, one more time. I guess, this is reason, why so many people visit this temple again and again. One has to visit this temple again and again !
Govinda Hare Govinda !!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Palolem beach

Paradise on Earth
Yes, this is how I would describe Palolem !

During my childhood, I had been to this beach for a school picnic. But now, I had vague memories of this place and wanted to explore this beach once again. Thus one Sunday morning in March 2009, we, that is, my husband, my daughter, my mother-in-law and myself set out to enjoy a picnic lunch at the much praised Palolem beach.

After reaching Palolem village, we had to meander carefully through the narrow alleys and then on reaching the bend we waited eagerly to take a first look at the much praised beach of Goa.
As soon as we entered the entranceway to the beach, we all exclaimed in unison: Awesome !
Much more than it was anticipated !
A fantastic place to spend an entire day !

This three kilometer palm fringed, idyllic, sandy beach with placid blue cool waters is a "picture perfect beach", situated in South Goa, India. It has a crescent shaped bay lined with swaying coconut palms dotted at one end with some rocky crags.

The initial stretch of the beach is lined with beach shacks that serve cool drinks and food.
The shallow sea bed and lack of huge waves, this beach is safe for swimming.

It is located 40 kilometres away from Margao (a major town in South Goa), and 3 kilometres away from Canacona Railway Junction.
There regular buses and taxis from Margao to Palolem that would drop tourists at Canacona village. Panaji, the capital of Goa, is situated at a distance of 70 kilometres.

If you have watched Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) in The Bourne Supremacy film in 2004 - it was Palolem Beach, his hideaway in India, that he was running along.

On reaching the beach we strolled along the cool waterfront, for a few hours, collected sea shells, which my daughter loves to do and then returned to one of the beach shacks to enjoy a our picnic lunch. Admiring the beautiful scenery, we idled in the cosy cane chairs for another hour, sipping the cool Fanta. At 2.00 pm we decided to head back, home. Though we did want to spend the entire day amongst these pleasant surroundings, but had to leave as my daughter had to take her routine afternoon nap. But she did not want to part with the golden sand and the cool waters. After much cajoling, she agreed, provided that we would bring her back here , again, in near future ! We gladly agreed.

The peaceful surroundings coupled with the laid back nature of people around, act like a soothing balm to the tired senses ! We will definitely go back to this paradise, soon !

Friday, July 10, 2009

Crochet and Me

A crotchet fan, an avid yarn lover. Yes, that's me. I guess I developed this liking for crotchet somewhere in the ninth standard, when we were taught crotchet during our craft classes in school.

From that time onwards, I have been making doilies, flowers etc. off and on. But after a gap of almost 15 years, this passion for crotchet has been rekindled in me. I have again started persuing this hobby with renewed enthusiasm.

Basically I think that this is a great hobby and in my view I crotchet for the following reasons:

a) Completing a crotchet project, like making a doily or an afghan, gives me a sense of accomplishment.

b) I can spend quality time without feeling that I am whiling away my time. Being a full time professions, I am habituated to do SOMETHING ALL the time !

c) Effective stress reliever, as by doing crotchet I can concentrate on completing the project and get immersed into it.

d) A means to express my creativity. Though in reality I am not a very creative person, but I do try my hand at working on a range of designs in varied colors and hues.

Ah ! Not to forget I have this pattern Acquisition Syndrome too and love to collect patterns in symbol crotchet in anticipation that some day (some day ....) I will be follow these patterns and make beautifil items out of yarn. I am currently on many such projects ! Some of the patterns in symbol crotchet have been posted here for easy reference.

I will post some of the photos of my crotchet projects too, in the forthcoming blogs.

Till then, Happy Crocheting !

Friday, March 13, 2009

India - A wanderer’s paradise

India continues to astound the travelers with its breathtaking rustic natural beauty, exotic myriad cultures and simultaneously stimulating the senses, spiritually !!
To facilitate the exploration of this incredible and varied country, I have compiled the official tourism websites of the various states and union territories for your quick perusal, below.

Andhra Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh
Jammu and Kashmir
Madhya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal

Union Territories
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Daman and Diu

Happy Exploration !

Cool Facts about India !

Today, I would like to introduce you all to some of the interesting facts about India.
An American historian quoted India as:
"Perhaps in return for conquest, arrogance and spoliation, India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quiet content of the unacquisitive soul, the calm of the understanding spirit, and a unifying, a pacifying love for all living things" Will Durant, American Historian.

Cool Facts about India !

- The World's first granite temple is the Brihadeswara temple at Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu.
The shikhara is made from a single ' 80-tonne ' piece of granite. Also, this magnificient temple was built in just five years (between 1004 AD and 1009 AD) during the reign of Rajaraja Chola.

- The world's highest cricket ground is in Chail, Himachal Pradesh. Built in 1893 after levelling a hilltop, this cricket pitch is 2444 meters above sea level.

- India has the most number of post offices in the world !
- The largest employer in the world is the Indian railway system, employing over a million people.
- The World's first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects in this university.
- The world’s rarest bird, the rusty–throated wren–babbler, has been spotted on the slopes of the Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh.
This species has never before been seen alive in the wild.

- Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans. Charaka, the father of medicineconsolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago. Today Ayurveda is fast regaining its rightful place in our civilization.
- Varanasi, also known as Benaras, was called "the ancient city" when Lord Buddha visited it in 500 B.C, and is the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world today.
- The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra.