Sunday, November 18, 2012

Annavaram (Annina varam) temple

During my visit to Kakinada, in July, this year, we had decided to visit some of the famous holy places nearby, Annavaram and Draksharamam.

Annavaram literally means Anna (what you desire) and varam (boon) Thus as per the legend, the deity fulfills ones desire (annina varam) as a boon.

Located atop the Ratnagiri hill, 300 feet above sea level, on the banks of the Pampa river , the temple of Lord Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swami and Goddess Anantalakshmi Satyavathi Ammavaru is very popular. The panaromic view of the lush green fields from the temple is breathtaking !

Vaikuntha Narayana Mahadwaram, entrance to the temple at the foot of the hill

To reach the temple, we took a rickshaw ride which was fun - though slightly scary, due to the hairpin bends. But the auto driver, maneuvered the way ahead very well, he seemed to be an expert driver.....
 The main temple has two floors. The ground floor is for Pada darshan or to view the feet of the Lord. In the first floor the upper part of the Lord Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy resides.

Here we go to seek Lord's blessings

The main door and entrance to the temple

Inside the two storied temple

Admiring the beauty around the temple

A view of the temple complex

The temple is constructed in the form of a chariot with the four wheels at each of the four corners. It has been constructed to depict: that the Lord not only remains at the heart’s center but also permeates into the entire universe. The wheels of the chariot depict the Sun and the Moon , reminding us that the world rotates on the wheels of time – forever……..

Located, 125 km from Visakhapatnam, 40 km from Kakinada, and 80 km from Rajahmundry, there are many buses plying this route.

Facilities are available to perform pujas and marriages are available amidst the temple complex alongwith accomodation.

Puja (offering prayers to the Lord) being performed...

The decorated chariot

For more information, please visit the temple website:

Scenic view from the temple

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Diwali Celebrations !

Diwali, literally means row of lights. In the evening, the diyas (lamps) are lit, to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, into the house.
Some of the Diwali (November 13) celebrations, this year, at my home.............

Marigolds and mango leaves decorate the entranceway

Lakshmi devi puja

Rangoli at the entrance

Colorful lamps

The traditional clay diyas (lamps)

Deepavali - string of diyas (lamps)

Lighting our lives !

May this Diwali, bestow happiness !!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Celebrated one day before Diwali, Narkachaturdashi is celebrated today, on November 12. As per mythology, Lord Krishna, the eight incarnation of Lord Vishnu, killed the demon, Narkasur on this day, which is followed by celebrations -fireworks, music, sweets etc.
On this day, almost in every street, in Goa, enthusiastic kids and youth make effigies of Narkasur, go around with these huge idols and then later burn these, late in the evening – to mark the triump of GOOD over evil. Competitions are held to judge the best Narkasur effigies.

A giant Narkasur being assembled by enthusiastic kids

This slain form seems to be vying for the first place in the 'Best Narkasur Competition'

Frightful - as it is meant to be so......

The demon smiling ? Seems trouble here

Let us endevour to be good and discourage evil !

Monday, November 12, 2012

Akash Diwa – Diwali lantern

The festive Diwali spirit is in the air. The local markets are flooded with sweets, lamps (diyas), firecrackers, gift articles, lanterns etc.

During Diwali, every Hindu household, even some of the shops, hang the traditional Akash diwa (hanging lanterns) outside in their balconies or in the facade. These colorful lanterns come in varied colors, shapes and sizes and are sold in local markets. Handmade of paper, plastic, cloth or bamboo, they bring out the best of talented artists.

A variety of Akash diwa's for sale at a busy street in Aquem, Margao, Goa

For sale at one of the local stalls

A new Lotus variety of lantern introduced this year

The traditional Akash diwa

Spreading light around...

Some more variants
Let light prevail over darkness !

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Navratri – Celebrating the nine forms of Goddess Durga

Nine nights of feasting, fasting and prayers are followed by the grand festival of Dassehra, celebrated all over India, tommorrow, October 24, especially with much fervor in Kolkata (earlier called Calcutta)

Sarvajanik Durga puja at Aquem, Margao, Goa

Mesmerising - the deities have been decorated, beautifully.

The nine forms of Goddess Durga celebrated during Navratri are:

Shailputri – also known as Parvati

Brahmacharini – Most generous avatar (incarnation)

Chandraghanta - Represents bravery

Kushmanda – It is believed that worshippining this form of Durga, enhances a person’s intellectual abilities and decision making skills

Skanda Mata – Goddess of health

Katyayani - Goddess of beauty

Kalratri – Personifies power

Maha Gauri – Goddess of fertility

Siddhidatri – Goddess of Siddhi (accomplishment)

Wish you all A Very Happy Dasshera !!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Homely Drumstick !

Drumsticks – commonly used as a vegetable in South Asia are infact immature seed pods, which are rich in vitamin C. These are known as Mullakada in Telugu, Murungakai in Tamil and Sango in Konkani. The botanical name of the drumstick tree is Moringa oleifera.

Drumsticks cut into pieces

India is the largest producer of drumsticks, with an annual production of 1.1 to 1.3 million tonnes of tender fruits wherein the state of Andhra Pradesh, leads the production.

When compared with common foods, fresh moringa leaves are more nutricious sources of some of the essential nutrients *, as listed in the table below:

I love drumsticks especially when cooked in rasam (tangy tamarind soup with seasoning) and sambar (dal cooked with vegetables and seasoning) Drumstick curry also is made which has an unique taste.

Rasam (called Charu in Telugu)
Four NGOs: Trees for Life International, Church World Service, Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization, and Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa — have advocated moringa as "natural nutrition for the tropics."

One unique feature about this tree is that it delivers leaves and pods (however these are mostly termed as fruits) throughout the year, with minimum maintenance.

*Source: Wikepedia

More Ganesh decorations !

Here are some more pictures of decorated Ganesha's during the Ganesh Chathurthi festival.

The Ganesha worshipped at my parents place

Decorated the traditional way alongwith the matoli (various fruits are tied overhead the Ganesha statue)

Ganesha, worshipped at my uncle's place, with flowers and holy leaves (especially bael leaves)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Welcome Ganesha !

One of the most famous festivals in India is Ganesh Chathurthi. This year it is celebrated today, on September 19th, with great pomp and festivities, especially in Mumbai and Goa.

Lord Ganesha is known by many names, especially one of his names: Vigneshwara, is significant as this name means ‘Dispeller of obstacles'. Thus Vakratund (another name of Ganesh) is worshipped before any auspicious event or beginnings.

Many a times, He is depicted with four hands, which mean the following:

- In one hand, He holds a rope and draws us towards HIM

- The second hand, holds an axe, which He uses to cut off harmful desires

- His third hand, holds a modak (sweet rice ball) to reward us when we reach towards Him

- With his fourth hand, he blesses His devotees

I have shared here, Ganesh puja photos at my place.

Prasad for the Lord

Lord's favorite sweet - Modak (sweet rice balls)

Lord Ganesha

Diyas (lamps) adoring the Lord

Jai Ganeshaya Namah !

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kerala beckons……

A beautiful advertisement by Kerala Tourism Department – who are very aggressive in promoting tourism in God’s Own Country – Kerala, was pictured in last Sunday’s Times of India. I was really impressed with it, wherein a beautiful scenery – depicting, Kerala, has been portrayed using natural edible items which are nutritious and used in Ayurveda.

Can you’ll list all these items and send it to me at: The entry which lists the most number of these natural elements depicted in the picture will win a handmade (made by me) crotchet doily !! This picture is in black and white to render an element of suspense. The coloured photograph will be shared at the end of the contest.

This contest closes on September 29.

Happy guessing…..

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mountain Railways of India – UNESCO World Heritage Sites

These mountain railways of India are an example of remarkable technology of the 19th century:

Darjeeling Himalayan railway – was opened in 1881, linking Darjeeling to the plains in Bengal and was the first passenger train to operate in the mountainous region. It was declared World heritage site in 1999.

Kalka – Shimla railway – connects Shimla to Kalka and was operational since 1903. Last October, I had the pleasure of travelling from Kalka to Shimla via the toy train, the Shivalik Deluxe Express. I will share my memorable train experiences, soon.

Shivalik Deluxe Express

View of the beautiful hilly terrain from the train
Nilgiri Mountain Railway – This track was completed in 1908 and connects Coonoor and Udhamandalam in the state of Karnataka.

The above two mountain railways were included in the World heritage sites list in 2008.

Let us explore !

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Largest Utility employer in the world !

With a mammoth railway network, across India, around 1.6 million people work for the Indian railways !

Here are 10 interesting facts about Indian Railways:

1) The oldest working steam locomotive in the world is the Fairy Queen

2) The first train ran from Bori Bunder, in Mumbai to Thane on April 16, 1853.

3) There are about 116,000 bridges of all types in the route of Indian Railways, which accounts to an average of two bridges per kilometer.

4) Howrah is the largest and the busiest station of the Indian Railways catering daily, to around 490 trains.

5) Indian railways carries around 18 million passengers, daily and around 2 million tones of freight, everyday (equal to carrying 350,000 elephants everyday !)

6) The total track length of the Indian Railways is 63327 kilometres. If these were laid end to end, it would go round the world – three times !

7) Nearly 11,000 trains, run in India, everyday, connecting around 7,000 stations.

8) The longest railway platform in India is at Kharagpur

9) The railway station with the shortest name in India is ‘Ib’, near Jharsuguda on the Howrah-Nagpur main line.

10) The longest station name is ‘Venkatanarasimharajuvaripeta’, which lies along the Arakkonam- Renigunta rail route.

Shivalik Express - connecting Kalka and Shimla

More information about the UNESCO World heritage sites of the Indian Railways, railway stations and heritage trains.

The nostalgic childhood memories of long and relaxing train trips during my summer vacations with my family, will always be remembered and cherished !

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Asia’s second longest road and rail bridge

One of the symbolic structures of Rajamundry, besides its famous temples, are the three bridges connecting Kovvur and Rajahmundry, built across the river Godavari, the largest river in South India.
This July, whilst, travelling from Kakinada (my husband’s native place) to Guntur, we crossed this river via the Godavari bridge and luckily took a picture of one of the bridges.

The earliest bridge, Havelock bridge, was built in 1897 and after a decade has been decommissioned.

The second bridge, the Godavari bridge is a railroad bridge, 2.7 kilometres long, built in 1960's to facilitate travel via the rail and was commissioned by the Indian Railways. This is a truss bridge, with the superstructure made of steel. It carries a single railway track in the lower level, and two-way road, pedestrian pathways on the upper level. It is Asia’s second longest road and rail bridge.

Godavari Arch Bridge
 This was followed by the construction of the Godavari Arch Bridge, a bowstring-girder bridge which is probabaly one of the longest span of prestressed concrete arch bridge in Asia.
The bridge was built by the Hindustan Construction Company, for the Indian Railways.

  "The wise man travels to discover himself." - James Russell Lowell

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Krishna Janmasthami – Celebrating the free and childhood spirit

The birth of Lord Krishna, called, Krishna Janmasthami in Sanskrit, marks the ninth and the most loved, reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver. It is celebrated in the lunar calendar month of Shravan, between mid-August and mid-September, as per the Gregorian calendar. This tradition is celebrated as ‘Uriyadi’ in Tamil Nadu. This year, the festival was celebrated on August 10.

The festival is all about fasting, dance, drama, music, puja and bhajans.

'Dahi Handi' celebration in one of the streets in Goa

Showers of rain make the task more difficult

Mission accomplished !
The ritual of ‘Dahi Handi’ – is practiced to portray the playful and spirited side of Lord Krishna. A pot of curd is suspended from a rope tied high between two poles, which has to be broken. Thus groups of youngsters form human pyramids to achieve this task, whilst onlookers throw water on them, to make this game challenging. This can be witnessed in many streets in Mumbai, Goa and in Tamil Nadu, during Janmasthami or Gokulasthami.

“This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn't have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love