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: http://www.gobartimes.org

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:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/travel/10places.html


“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 http://www.rajasthantourism.gov.in , 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 http://www.parachuteadvansed.com/ 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.

Reference: http://coconutboard.nic.in/

Thursday, September 16, 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 !

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

UNITY IN DIVERSITY !


28 States

1618 languages

7 Union Territories

6 religions

6 Ethnic groups

29 Major festivals


1 COUNTRY - INDIA

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