Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oldest temple in Goa at Tambdi Surla !

The tiny Mahadeva temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva at Tambdi Surla, is located approximately 65 kilometers from the capital city of Panaji and 12 kilometers from the Mollem border check post. Located amidst serene and picturesque forest area with a beautiful stream flowing by, it has withstood the ravages of time.

According to the Archeological Survey of India, this temple was built in the 13th century by the Kadamba dynasty, which ruled Goa between the tenth and the fourteenth centuries. Built of grey - black chlorite schist soap stone, which is weather resistant, it is the oldest surviving temple of the Kadamba Yadava dynasty in Goa

The temple has a pillared porch and three stepped entrances and the shrine is surmounted by a tower.

A notable feature is the stone ceiling, decorated with intricately carved lotus flowers. The pierced stone screen carrying the figures of deities that surround the door of the vestibule signifies excellent craftsmanship. There is a Nandi bull (Lord Shiva’s vehicle) at the entrance of temple.

The symbol of the Kadamba kingdom, an elephant trampling a horse is carved on the base of one of the columns.

It is a perfect picnic spot and one can enjoy the cool and serene ambience surrounded by lush greenery!

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. - Anatole France

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Worlds largest open air museum - Hampi !

Hello Everybody
Check the slideshow and admire the beauty of Hampi, which I will be describing in detail soon in my blog posts !

Where Stone's Cast a Spell ! Slideshow: Aparna’s trip from Goa, India to Hampi was created by TripAdvisor. See another Hampi slideshow. Create a free slideshow with music from your travel photos.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Green Record in India !

Just today morning, I was browsing through the latest December issue of the ‘Wisdom’, monthly digest, and one particular article caught my eye, which I would like to share with all of you.

The ‘Cold Desert’ of Leh entered the Guinness Book of World Records after
50, 300 saplings were planted at a village in an hour by 9000 volunteers on October 10, 2010

The ‘Green Action’ was supported by Buddhist monks to mark the ‘green’ Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The earlier record was held by Peru, where 40,000 saplings were planted in 60 minutes by 8,000 volunteers.

Source: Wisdom, December 2010.

Let's live a Greener Life !

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Ode to India !

Mark Twain, the famous American author aptly described India in his poem below:

“This is India!
The land of dreams and romance,
of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty,
of splendor and rags,
of palaces and hovels,
of famine and pestilence,
of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps,
of tigers and elephants,
the cobra and the jungle,
the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues,
of a thousand religions and two million gods,
cradle of the human race,
birthplace of human speech,
mother of history,
grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition,
whose yesterdays bear date with the mouldering antiquities of the rest of the nations
– the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for
alien persons,
for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor,
bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see,
and having seen once, by even a glimpse
would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.
Even now, after a lapse of a year, the delirium of those days in Bombay has not left me and I hope it never will.”
- Mark Twain

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Festival of Lights: Diwali

Diwali is the most popular festival of India. It is celebrated widely over India, with great pomp and enthusiasm in reverence and honor of Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity!

This is the day, when the legendary Lord Rama returned to his homeland, Ayodhya after spending 14 years in exile and defeating and slaying, the demon Ravana and his subsequent coronation as the king !
The celebrations on this day, start with a special bath, early in the morning, followed by prayers to Goddess Lakshmi. Special dishes are prepared, sweets are exchanged and every Hindu household is abuzz with festivities.

In the evening, every house (and shop) is decorated with numerous small oil lamps, called diyas, which are placed around the house, in courtyards, verandahs, and gardens, as well as on roof-tops and outer walls. This is followed by burning of various firecrackers.

Diwali also holds official holiday status in many countries other than India, in Nepal, Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Singapore.

This festival signifies the renewal of life, dispelling darkness and heralding the victory of good over evil !

May light triumph over darkness
May peace transcend the earth
May the spirit of light illuminate the world
May you celebrate a wonderful Diwali this year!

Wish you all, my readers A Very Happy and Prosperous Diwali !

Note: In my next post, I will post pictures of Diwali celebrations at my house.

World’s Largest Cannon !

Located at the Jaigarh fort in Jaipur, Rajasthan, the Jaivana is the world’s biggest wheeled cannon ever constructed !

Some key features about this huge cannon are listed below:

a) It was cast in 1720, during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur.

b) The length of the barrel of the cannon is 20 feet, 2 inches and it weighs 50 tons. It rests on a 7.3 m long shaft.

c) It rests on a high 4 wheeled carriage. The front wheels are 2.74 metres in diameter and the rear wheels are 1.37 metres in diameter.

d) About 100 kilograms (a quintal) of gun powder fired a shot ball weighing 50 kg.

It has never been used in any battle, but was reportedly test fired, once in 1720, which resulted is massive damage. It is also said, that it took four elephants to swivel it around on its axis.

It is indeed a great feat to produce such a massive cannon and to place it right on top of a hill !

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jaigarh Fort – Jaipur

Our next stop was Jaigarh fort, which means the Fort of Victory, and is located 12 kilometres away from Jaipur. This colossal fort is the best of the three forts overlooking the city (the other two being the Amber and the Nahargarh forts) It is built atop a hill by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1726 A.D. While the Amber fort is situated at the bottom of the hill. Both the forts are well connected through guarded passages.

Nestled amidst rock-strewn, thorny scrub-covered hills, this rugged fort, was a center of artillery production for the Rajputs. The highlight of the fort is the Jaivana, which is the world’s largest cannon on wheels! There is a vast collection of cannons in this fort. This fort also served as the royal treasury for a number of years. A huge moat surrounds the fort, too !

A striking museum is present in its premises,with an extraordinary collection of armoury used during the bygone era including swords, shield, guns, cannon balls etc.

Another interesting feature is, the water channels built inside the fort – part of rainwater harvesting system ! There are a total of 3 underground tanks in the fort and the largest of them had the capacity to store 60,00,000 gallons of water. A 5 kilometre long canal can be seen entering the fort complex to bring in water from the high hills and store in the fort . A huge water tank is centrally located connecting the canal.
Truly, a planning and engineering feat !


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Central Museum of Jaipur

Located amidst the gardens of Ram Niwas Bagh, it is also known as Albert Hall museum. Supposed to be the oldest museum of Jaipur, it was designed by Colonel Swinton Jacob in 1876 to greet King Edward VII (Prince of Wales) on his visit to India. It houses the various treasures of the rich bygone era !

Unfortunately, when we reached this museum, we learnt that it was closed for renovation . But we did get a chance to take a quick look at it from outside.
This museum has been modeled on the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and has many pillars, courtyards and arches that give it a very traditional yet elegant look.
One of the unique feature of the marble pillars of this museum was that different types of leaves have been depicted on each of the pillars, which is very interesting!

Museum visiting hours: 10.30 am – 4.30 pm

We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. - Hilaire Belloc

Friday, October 15, 2010

International White Cane Safety Day – 15 October

Today is International White Cane Safety day. It is recognized to honor the white cane used widely by the blind and visually impaired people in many countries.

It is a symbol of the blind citizens in our society.

Throughout history, the cane, staff, and stick have existed as traveling aids for the blind and visually impaired.
Thanks to the Braille system, a blind person can read and learn too. Helen Adams Keller was the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Braille is a system of making raised dots on paper to form letters and words that are read by the blind with their fingertips. The basic Braille “cell” consists of two columns of three dots. The dots are numbered 1-2-3 from top to bottom on the left side of the cell and 4-5-6 from top to bottom on the right side of the cell. Each Braille letter, word, punctuation mark, number, or musical note can be made up using different combinations of these dots.

Let us endeavour to respect and increase, the awareness of this ‘Symbol of Independence’and for the blind people around the world ! For more information and to render help to the blind people, please visit the site,

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. - Helen Keller

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Navaratri – A Celebration of Traditions !

Festival of Nine Nights !
A Celebration of Success !
Victory of Good over Evil !
Worship of the Feminine Form of the Supreme !
A Time for Selfless acts and Prayers !

Also known as Dusshera, Navaratri (nine nights) is a major festival in India. It is celebrated for 10 days, from October 8 – 17, this year.
This festival is a tribute to the infinite power of Goddess Durga, the manifestation of Shakti (Energy or Power) Known by various names as Amba, Ma Bhavani, Aparna, she is worshipped in various parts of India, with utmost reverence during this festival.

Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India. In Western India, particularly in the state of Gujarat, it is celebrated with the famous Garba and Dandiya-Ras dance.
The state of West Bengal is synonymous with this festival. During this festival, huge idols of the Goddess alongwith other deities are displayed at various places, and worshipped.
In some parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, many households create elaborate shelf displays of handmade clay dolls, called Bommalu kollu (display of dolls)

In South India, the Goddess is worshipped in three forms. During the first three nights, Durga devi (Shakti or the Powerful Mother), then Lakshmi devi (Goddess of prosperity) on the fourth, fifth and sixth nights, and finally Saraswati devi(Goddess of learning and wisdom) are revered, until the ninth night.

In North India, one of the nine aspects of the Goddess is venerated each day.

Vijayadashami, the triumphant tenth day celebrates the legendary victory of Goddess Durga over the evil demon, Mahisasura. It marks the end of Navaratri alongwith the immersion of the Durga deities, which are worshipped for nine days.
One has to witness the celebrations held in Mysore during this festival, for this is where the victory is said to have occurred. It is famous for the elaborate Dusshera festivities ! Check my post on ‘Palace of Lights – Mysore’

May good, triumph over evil, forever !

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Laxmi Narayan Temple – Jaipur

We started the Jaipur City tour, by first visiting, the famous Laxmi Narayan temple, or Birla temple. It was built in 1988, by the Birla Group of Industries, one of the business tycoons of India. Situated just below the Moti Doongri hill, in the southern part of Jaipur, one can get a beautiful view of the Moti Dongri fort, which was built like a Scottish castle, from this place.

Constructed of pure white marble and surrounded by lush green gardens, this temple is dedicated to Lord Narayan (Vishnu), the preserver and his consort, Lakshmi devi, the Goddess of Wealth.

The temple has attractive stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Hindu mythology and rich carvings in pure white marble. It also portrays great historical achievers, philosophers and religious saints such as Socrates, Zarathustra, Christ, Buddha, and Confucius.

The three huge domes of the temple represent the different approaches to religion.
One can reach this lovely temple, easily from the city, by taking the local bus, rickshaw or taxi.

When walking barefoot * inside the temple, the coolness of the marble surface felt, under my feet, evoked a feeling of deep peace, satisfaction and gratitude towards life !

*one has to walk in, barefoot, whilst entering any of the temples in India, as a sign of respect to the deities in the temple. This also contributes significantly towards maintaining the cleanliness of the temple too!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Asia’s Most expensive movie !

Well, everybody is talking about it ! The much hyped movie ‘ Endhiran’ hit the box offices on October 1, 2010 and people who have watched it are ecstatic about it.

What is it ? 10 quick facts about the movie:

1) Endhiran (The Robot) is a Tamil science fiction film released in India and worldwide.

2) It is Asia’s most expensive movie and India’s costliest movie !

3) Officially budgeted at Rs. 162 crores, it also made the largest worldwide opening for a Tamil film.

4) The dubbed versions are Robo in Telugu and Robot in Hindi language.

5) The main role of the hero is played by the Super star of Tamil Cinema, Rajinikanth, who does a double role. Aishwarya Rai, who won the Miss World title in early 90’s, is the main female lead in the movie.

6) The music has been provided by the dual Oscar winner A.R.Rehman and the film is directed by S Shankar.

7) The Matrix team along with Yuen Woo Ping has created the stunts for Robot.

8) The team that created special effects for Terminator and Jurassic Park has worked for this film.

9) The costumes for the movie have been designed by, Mary E.Vogt , the Hollywood designer for ‘Men in Black’ series.

10) More than 70 percent of the total cost of this film was spent for the special effects alone.

Gotta definitely watch it !

Did you know ?
The world’s most expensive film is, James Cameron’s, Avatar, which cost Rs.1,200 crore.

‘Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater’.
- Roman Polanski

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yantra Madir - Jantar Mantar

A quick guide to the specific use of the curious instruments in Yantra Mandir (as depicted at Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, Rajathan):

The Ram Yantra can measure the local coordinates of altitude and azimuth of celestial objects.

Jai Prakash Yantra is used to find the positions of the celestial bodies during day and night..

The Dhruva Yantra is used to locate the position of 12 Zodiac signs and also the Pole Star at night.

The Narivalya Yantra is a distinctive sundial with two dials - the first dial facing south reads time when the sun is in the southern hemisphere, i.e., from 21 September to 21 March and the other one facing north reads time for the rest of the year when the sun is in the northern hemisphere, i.e., from 21 March to 21 September.

The Krantivrtta is an instrument that is meant to measure the celestial latitude and celestial longitude of an object in the sky. It is also used for measuring solar sign of the Sun in day time.

The Yantra Raj is an adaptation of an Astrolabe - a Medieval instrument for the measurement of time and the position of celestial objects.
The instrument is used for measuring ascendants, altitude, time and the position of the Sun and that of some other celestial objects in the sky. It can also be used in the computation of celestial positions and their changes. The instrument also measures time from the positions of stars in the night, and that of the Sun in the day.

Unnatamsa for measuring altitude - the angular height of an object in the sky.

Chakra yantra gives the angle of an object from the equator.

Disha yantra or the compass always points to the north.

Dakshinottra Bhitti measures the altitude of the angular height of a celestial object when it crosses the meridian.

Laghu Samrat Yantra is a sundial that can give the time to an accuracy of 20 seconds.

Rashivalayas Yantra has 12 sundials for the signs of the zodiac.

Note: The traditional unit of measurement started with the smallest unit being 'human breath' that has been calculated to be of 6 seconds duration.

These structures remind us of the role of light and time in our everyday life !

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Largest Sundial in the World !

A sundial is a device that measures time by the position of the Sun.

Standing 27 metres (90 feet) tall and with a base length of 147 feet, the Vrihat Samrat Yantra (The Large Supreme Instrument) is the world’s largest sundial !

It is housed in Jantar Mantar ( literally means 'calculation instrument') in Jaipur, in the state of Rajasthan.

It’s shadow moves visibly at 1 mm per second, or roughly a hand's breadth (6 cm) every minute,
It's face is angled at 27 degrees, the latitude of Jaipur. The Hindu chhatri (small cupola) on top is used as a platform for announcing eclipses and the arrival of monsoons.

Used for calculating the time of the day to the exact second using the position of the dial and the shadow it casts from the sun, it has an accuracy of about two seconds. If an astronomical observer knew the time it took a prominent star to transition the sky, they could even use the Yantra to tell the time at night.

Live the BIG Life !

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Largest Stone Astronomical Observatory in the World !

Located across the road from the City Palace, Jantar Mantar, was our next destination in Jaipur.

- Was built between 1727 and 1733.
- Is the largest stone astronomical observatory in the world !
- Has the biggest sundial in the world !
- Is one of the largest and the only working observatories of the five, built by Sawai Jai Singh II (the others were built in Delhi, Mathura, Benaras and Ujjain)
- Houses a large collection of around 20, huge masonry astronomical instruments, each with a specific astronomical use. The main reason to build these large stone structures on a grand scale was to enhance the accuracy of the measurements.
- Has been recently (in July 2010), added to the World Heritage list, by UNESCO, as a cultural site.
- According to UNESCO, the site "is the most significant, most comprehensive, and the best preserved of India's historic observatories."

As listed on the National Geographic site, the other astronomical site added to the World Heritage list is part of the monuments at "The Centre of Heaven and Earth"—a sacred mountain in China's Henan Province.
The site includes the Zhougong Sundial Platform and the Dengfeng Observatory, built about 700 years ago at the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty (A.D. 1271-1368) by astronomer Guo Shoujing.

I admire our astronomers and masons of yesteryears who conceived and built these amazing masonary instruments used to study the movement of constellations and stars in the sky !

Monday, October 4, 2010

The City Palace of Jaipur

Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, ruled Amber kingdom from 1699-1744. He shifted his capital from Amber to Jaipur in 1727 due an increase in population and increasing water shortage.
And initiated the construction of the City palace.

The City palace is situated in the heart of the old Jaipur City, and it occupies about one seventh of the area. This palace complex showcases the grandeur of the royal past. It houses a series of courtyards, gardens and structures, the most prominent ones are:

Diwan -E- Khas - or the 'Hall Of Private Audience'. After crossing the first square, one comes across this hall which was meant for private audience. The famous mammoth silver vessels are on display in this hall.

Diwan-I-Aam - was meant for public audience, at present, is an art gallery which showcases enthralling painted ceilings and rare ancient handwritten original manuscripts of Hindu scriptures.

Chandra Mahal - This seven storeyed palace, displays wonderful architecture with delicate paintings, floral decorations and mirror work on the walls. The topmost floor is known as Mukut Mahal. In the present day, this palace serves as the residence of ex-ruler. The complex contains an excellent museum of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and has an extensive collection of art, carpets, enamelware and old weapons.

Badal Mahal - stands opposite to Chandra Mahal.

Shri Govind Dev Temple - stands in the middle of the Chandra Mahal and the Badal Mahal.

Mubarak Mahal - built by Maharaja Madho Singh, is converted into a costume gallery, which displays royal attires of the kings.

Maharani's Palace - which was meant for royal queens, has been converted into a museum, and display weapons dated back to the 15th century.

Seeing is Believing !

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Largest silver objects in the world !

The City Palace in Jaipur, houses the largest silver vessels, which have been officially recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records.

The two huge vessels (as seen in the picture above) weigh 340 kilograms (750 lb), are of 1.6 metres (5.5 feet) in height and have a capacity of 4000 litres. These were made from 14000 melted silver coins and are placed in the Diwan-I-Khas, private audience hall of the Maharajas.

Specially made for Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh II, these vessels were used to carry the Ganga river water to drink on his trip to England in 1901 (for Prince Edward VII's coronation)
Thus, the vessels were named as Gangajelies (Urns containing water of the Ganges)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hawa Mahal – Jaipur’s landmark

Our Jaipur journey began with the landmark of the city, the Hawa Mahal , an imposing structure. The name literally means Palace of winds or Palace of the Breeze.

Built 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand Usta it depicts the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. The pyramidal shape combined with the numerous screened windows makes the structure look like a giant honeycomb.

This 5 storied stunning semi-octagonal monument has 953 small windows called jharokhas, decorated with intrinsic lattice work and is a fine piece of Rajput architecture. The latticed windows allowed the royal ladies to view the everyday life in the street below from the palace without being seen.

The beauty of the Hawa Mahal lies in its fragile appearance, which belies its strength.

The interiors are connected by ramps and there are no stairs to reach the upper floors. A unique feature of the building is that it remains cool even during the harsh summers. This is due to the excellent ventilation that allows cool air to freely flow throughout the building.

Situated on the main thoroughfare in the heart of Jaipur’s business centre, in the middle of the bustling Johari Bazaar, near the Badi Chaupad (the big square), this palace rises to a height of 50 feet. It is built of red and pink sandstone and forms a part of the City Palace, which was our next stop.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Green Consumer Day – September 28th

Today is Green Consumer day.

10 ways to live a greener life and contribute towards an eco friendly planet !

A) Save electricity
1) Replace your incandescent light bulbs with the compact fluorescent light bulbs.
2) Keep your house cool naturally.
3) Turn off the lights. Save electricity
4) Unplug electronics when they are not in use.
5) Hang your clothes to dry.

B) Avoid plastic
6) Opt for reusable shopping bags made of cloth or paper.

C) Save water
7) Turn the tap off when not required.

8) Whenever possible, walk or ride instead of driving.
9) Buy your food locally whenever possible.
10) Keep plants around the house. Plant a tree.

In brief, follow the 3 Rs lifestyle - Reduce, Reuse and Recyle !

For more interesting articles related to environment, check Gobar times at:

World Tourism Day

World Tourism Day was celebrated on September 27th, yesterday, this year. The tourism industry plays an important role in the economy of a country.

This Day recognizes the importance of tourists and the tourism industry across the globe.
The day aims to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic values. It is a UN observance and it is not a public holiday.
The UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) decided in late September 1979 to institute World Tourism Day, which was first celebrated on September 27, 1980. September 27 was chosen as the date for World Tourism Day because that date coincided with an important milestone in world tourism: the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes on September 27, 1970.

Biodiversity is the theme this year and China has been designated as the host country for the 2010 celebrations.

It is interesting to know that The New York Times has listed ‘The 31 Places to Go in 2010’ and amongst these places, Mysore and Mumbai have been included ! For more details check:

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Incredible state of India, Jaipur !

Location: In the state of Rajasthan, located, 260 km from Delhi and 240 kms from Agra, Sanganer Airport is 15km south of town

Also called: The Pink City

Famous for: Handicrafts - Glittering gemstone and silver jewellery, Lac work, Meenakari, Metal work, Marble work, Paintings, Leather work, Gemstones, Carpets, Wood work, Tie and Dye textiles, Artefacts, Antiques, Apparel, Jaipuri quilts (rajai) and Local sweets and delicacies.

Best time to visit: October - December. In the rains, it gets very messy and in the winter, its quite chilly.

Accommodation: Check , to find a listing to suit every budget.

Our much awaited trip to the capital city, Jaipur was filled with awe and admiration.

This state is famous for its wealth of forts, palaces and monuments. It is an epicenter for handicrafts too ! Founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1727, the layout of the streets in this city was based on a mathematical grid of nine squares representing the ancient Hindu map of the universe, and the royal palace was placed symbolically at its centre. This city was said to have been painted pink in honour of a visit by Prince Albert in 1853.

We opted for the full day tour of the city conducted by RTDC (Rajashtan Tourism Department Corporation) and set off to explore the rich monuments which are the:
Hawa Mahal, Laxminarayan temple, Jantar Mantar, Albert Hall Museum, City Palace and Museum, Jaigarh fort, Nahargarh Fort, Amber Palace and fort.

More information about these sights will be covered in my upcoming posts.

Tip: For those who have less time to spare, opt for the day tour (or the half day tour, see table below) conducted by RTDC, which covers most of the historical monuments in Jaipur.

RTDC Sight seeing tour information:
Half Day tour:
Timings 0800 -1300 hrs
11.30 -1630 hrs
1330 -1830 hrs
Fare Rs.120/-

Itinery: Hawa Mahal (Front View), Amber Palace, Gaitore, City Palace, Observatory

Full day tour:
Timing: 0900 -1800 hrs
Fare: Rs. 170 /-

Itenary: Hawa Mahal (front View), Laxminarayan temple, Jantar Mantar, Central Museum, City Palace & Museum, Jaigarh fort, Nahargarh Fort (Lunch), Amber Palace and fort, Jal Mahal (front view), Kanak Vrindavan.

For reservations for all tours contact RTDC at 0141-2375466, 2375835, 2371648, 2200778, 2315714, 2206720 (24 hours Tourist assistance on Tel .No. 1364)
Tourist Information Bureau, Railway Station, Tel 91-141-2315714
RTDC Tourist Hostel, Old Govt. Hostel, M.I. Road, Jaipur, Tel 91-141-2375466
Tourist Office, Hotel Khasa Kothi Tel: 91-141-2372200

Say Yes to a Life with Zest !

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Healthiest Oil on Earth !

For me, there has been an eternal association with coconut oil. During my childhood, my mother used to oil my hair regularly, every two days or so ! And my hair used to be forever oily, which was very much fine with me during that time. In school, whenever I used to wish and greet my teachers, they would invariably pat my head and then take a look at their oily palm and exclaim: ‘How much oil do you apply to your hair ’ ? But this did not change my habit of applying coconut oil to my hair regularly. I continue to do so .....

Coconut oil is a truly remarkable food and medicine. Why ? It is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT)
Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids we consume are LCFA – long chain fatty acids. It is primarily due to the MCFA in coconut oil that makes it so special and beneficial.

10 General facts about Coconut oil:
• Of natural origin, edible in raw form, saturated and stable
• Pleasant flavour and aroma, light coloured, biodegradable
• High resistance to oxidative rancidity, better shelf life for fried product
• Low viscosity, Maximum glycerine content
Skin friendly oil, superior baby oil, Good emollient on skin,skull
and hair

• Oldest and most widely used cosmetic raw material
• Gives softness and suppleness to skin on regular massaging , spreads easily
on the skin
• Excellent base for hair oil, provides gloss to hair, nourishes the hair
roots and provides coolness to the body, protects skin from heat
• Germicidal and antimicrobial property
• No harmful effects due to reheating, can be converted into diesel fuel

10 Nutritional and Medicinal properties of Coconut oil:
• Easy digestibility and absorbability, ideal energy source in baby foods
• Contains Vitamin E
• Does not contain cholesterol
Composed mainly of short and medium chain fatty acids which have
desirable qualities and functions

• Reduced fat accumulation in body
• Easily oxidized and therefore a preferred energy source
• Requires no transport system to absorb, digest and metabolize
• Very low content of Omega 6 fatty acid
• Rich content of lauric acid, the source of disease fighting fatty acid
derivative monolaurin
• Superior antigenotoxic activity

Note: ‘Parachute’ is India’s leading brand of coconut oil, which is manufactured by Marico. Visit for more information about this hair oil.

Be more, everyday ! (The catch phrase of Marico)

Monday, September 20, 2010

The tree of life !

In Sanskrit, the coconut tree is rightly described as the kalpa vriksha - "the tree which provides all the necessities of life"
It is supposed to be one of the five legendary Devavrikshas.

The coconut provides a nutritious source of food, juice, milk and is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

It can be rightly called the ecofriendly crop – which permits coexistence of multi-species plants
In scientific terms, it is called Cocos nucifera. This nut was initially referred as ‘coco’, which means ‘monkey face’, by early Spanish explorers. And ‘nucifera means ‘nut bearing’

Coconut is grown in more than 86 countries worldwide. India is the third largest coconut producer in the world, with Indonesia and Philippines in the first and second spot. It has around 3000 years tradition of coconut cultivation.
Kerala is the largest coconut growing state in India.

The various products obtained from coconut are: Tender Coconut Water, Copra, Coconut Oil, Raw Kernel, Coconut Cake, Coconut Toddy, Coconut Shell based Products, Coconut Wood based Products, Coconut Leaves and Coir Pith.

The water of tender coconut, technically the liquid endosperm, is the most nutritious wholesome beverage that the nature has provided for the people of the tropics to fight the sultry heat. It has caloric value of 17.4 per 100gm.
The major chemical constituents of coconut water are sugars and minerals and minor ones are fat and nitrogenous substances.

The various medicinal properties of tender coconut water are:
1. Good for feeding infants suffering from intestinal disturbances.
2. Oral rehydration medium
3. Contains organic compounds possessing growth promoting properties
4. Keeps the body cool, application on the body prevents prickly heat and summer boils and subsides the rashes caused by small pox, chicken pox, measles, etc.
5. Kills intestinal worms
6. Presence of saline and albumen makes it a good drink in cholera cases
7. Checks urinary infections, Urinary antiseptic and eliminates poisons in case of mineral poisoning.
8. Excellent tonic for the old and sick, cures malnourishment.
9. Diuretic, Effective in the treatment of kidney and urethral stones
10. Found as blood plasma substitute because it is sterile, does not produce heat, does not destroy red blood cells and is readily accepted by the body.
11. Aids the quick absorption of the drugs and makes their peak concentration in the blood easier by its electrolytic effect.
12. Urinary antiseptic and eliminates poisons in case of mineral poisoning.

Coconut oil too, makes a truly remarkable food and medicine. The benefits on this oil will be shared with you in my upcoming post.

"Coconut fruit is agreeable to heart", Gunapadom, a Kerala text.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Ganesh Chaturthi – a popular festival of India

The birthday of Lord Ganesha is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi, with lot of pomp and grandeur in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and many other parts of India. In Maharashtra and Goa, the preparations for this festival begin months in advance. This year, it was celebrated on September 11, 2010.Lord Ganesha is the God of Wisdom and Prosperity and the Dispeller of all obstacles. He is also worshipped as a protector and, variously, as the god of wisdom, arts and sciences, literature, poetry, and agriculture.

Hindus believe that by offering prayers to Lord Vinayaka (one of the many names of the Lord) before any new beginning or venture, helps in the successful fruition of the task.

According to Hindu mythology, Sri Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati, brother of Kartikeya (the General of the Gods) His carrier or vehicle (vahan) is the rat. The mouse is depicts our EGO. Sri Ganesha, using the mouse as a vehicle, exemplifies the need to control our ego. According to our Vedanta, one who has controlled ego enjoys the transcendental bliss of Ganesha-consciousness or God-consciousness.
According to one of the legends, Goddess Parvati created Ganesha out of the sandalwood dough that she had used for her bath and breathed life into him. She then let him guard her door and went to have bath. When Lord Shiva, her husband returned, the child, Lord Ganesha who had never seen him, stopped him which infuriated Lord Shiva and he severed the head of the child and entered his house. Upon learning that her son was dead, Goddess Parvati was distraught and asked Shiva to immediately revive her son. As a consequence Lord Shiva cut off the head of an elephant and fixed it on the body of Ganesha. Thus was Lord Ganesha born and created. He is also known the Ganaadhipati or the leader.

The four most important symbols carried by Ganesha are:
1) Pasa (lasso) - an instrument used to destroy desire or craving
2) Angusa (elephant hook) - represents control, or a means to steer one in the right direction
3) Tanta (broken tusk) - a divine weapon for destroying obstacles
4) Varamudra (attitude of blessing) - represents a wish for success

Shivaji Maharaja, the great Maratha ruler, started this festival, to promote culture and nationalism in the 17th century in India and was revived by Lokmanya Tilak (Indian freedom fighter) to spread the message of freedom struggle and to defy the British who had banned public assemblies in the last decade of the 19th century.
Besides the many households which bring in Ganesh statues and offer their prayers, many Ganesh statues are also installed on street corners in the cities and towns and villages in different parts of India. At the end of the festival, which may last from one and a half day to 5 days or 10 days or 21 days, these statues are carried on decorated floats to be immersed into the sea.
This Lord is even worshipped beyond India’s frontiers, in various countries in the following names:

Mahabini in Borneo, Totkar in Mongolia,
• Tchoprak in Tibet,
• Brahganesh in Cambodia,
• Kwanshidiyik in China,
• Vinayaksha in Japan.

He is also worshipped in countries like Nepal and Java.

Lord Ganesha continues to be India’s symbol of cultural ambassador to the various countries of world !

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


28 States

1618 languages

7 Union Territories

6 religions

6 Ethnic groups

29 Major festivals


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

World’s largest monolithic stone statue !

Set amid the beautiful lakes and the two green hued hills, Chandragiri and Vindyagiri, Shravanabelagola is a major Jain religious centre.

It is well known for the colossal monolithic statue of the awe – inspiring Gomateswara perched atop the Vindyagiri hill, which is 58 feet in height and 26 feet in width. It is considered to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue !

Shravanabelagola is located 13 kilometres from Channarayapatna, 51 kilometres from Hassan and 158 kilometres northwest from Bangalore, and has been a prominent centre for Jain art, architecture, religion and culture for over two millennia. More than 800 inscriptions have been found at Shravanabelagola, dating to various times from 600 to 1830.
Chadragupta Maurya, the great emperor who ruled a large part of India, settled in this region, handing over the reins of his kingdom to his son.

History behind the monolith
According to the legend, Lord Gomateshwara also known as Bahubali took on Bharatha in a duel that involved three forms – Dristiyuddha, Mallayuddha and Jalayuddha. Though Bahubali finally emerged victorious, he was overwhelmed by both the enormity and the futility of the desire for material wealth – a persuit that set brother against brother. He then renounced his kingdom and all other worldly pleasures.

Bahubali stood in deep meditation and radiated the glow of spiritual tranquility. Chavundaraya, the prime minister and commander-in-chief of the Ganga Kingdom, consecrated the statue of Bahubali in a meditative form in 981 AD. Also known as Gommata, the statue represents the highest values of life , renunciation and selflessness. It symbolizes man’s victory over Karma. A saint in perfect peace with himself and with everything else in the universe ! It is of great religious significance because Jains believe Bahubali was the first to attain moksha (freedom from cycle of birth and death)

To reach this majestic status one has to climb 614 steps uphill ! Quite a task. But we did it alongwith our 3 year old daughter.

The naked statue of Gommateshwara was carved out of a single block of granite of the hill and is a picture of serenity and composure.
The image of Bahubali is depicted with curly hair in ringlets and long large ears. His eyes are open, viewing the world with detachment. His perfectly chiseled facial features, with a faint smile, embody calm vitality. There is an anthill in the background which signifies his incessant penance.

Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is covered with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018.

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Women Achievers of India since Independence

Arti Saha – First woman to swim across the English Channel

Aruna Asaf Ali – First woman Mayor of Delhi

Bachendri Pal – First woman to scale Mount Everest

Fatima Bi- Asia’s first recipient of the UNDP ‘Race against Poverty ‘ award

Hamoi Vyarawala – First woman press photographer (photojournalist)

Harshini Kanhekar – First fire woman

Indira Gandi – First woman Prime minister

Kalpana Chawla – First woman to land in space

Kanchan C. Bhattacharya – First woman Director General of Police

Kanchan Gaud – First woman taxi driver

Kiran Bedi – First IPS (Indian police force) officer

Leela Seth – First woman Chief Justice (High Court)

M.S.Subbalakshmi – First woman to perform at the United Nations

Maria Gorete – First woman railway engine driver

Menakshi – First woman driver of Delhi Metro

Padmavathi – First woman Air Marshal

Pratibha Patil - First woman President

Rajkumari Amrit Kaur – First woman Cabinet minister

Rita Faria – First woman to win “Miss World’ title

Sarojini Naidu - First woman Mayor of Utter Pradesh

Sucheta Kriplani – First woman Chief Minister

Sushmita Sen - First woman to win “Miss Universe’ title

Vijaylakshmi Pandit – First woman President of the United Nations General Assembly

Reference: Competition Success Review Year Book

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

UNESCO World Heritage sites of India

The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) encourages countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage. This is indeed a great endeavour of this organisation to ensure that our legacy from the past is passed on to our future generations. It encourages international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage.

The UNESCO World Heritage sites of India are:

1) Agra Fort
2) Ajanta Caves
3) Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi
4) Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
5) Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)
6) Churches and Convents of Goa
7) Elephanta Caves
8) Ellora Caves
9) Fatehpur Sikri
10) Great Living Chola Temples
11) Group of Monuments at Hampi
12) Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram
13) Group of Monuments at Pattadakal
14) Humayun's Tomb, Delhi
15) Khajuraho Group of Monuments
16) Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
17) Mountain Railways of India
18) Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi
19) Red Fort Complex
20) Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka
21) Sun Temple, Konark
22) Taj Mahal

1) Kaziranga National Park
2) Keoladeo National Park
3) Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
4) Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
5) Sundarbans National Park
Of these, I have been to 6 sites and hope to visit all of these sites in my life time !

The Adventure continues -----------