Friday, December 13, 2013

Yeh Hai Dilli!

Here are some quick facts about the capital city of India, Delhi:

a) One of the oldest cities in the world.

b) It was formed in 1000 BC.

c) Became the capital of India on February 10, 1931.

d) Was designed by the British architect, Lutyens.

e) Houses more than 25 active art galleries.

f) Three of the UNESCO world heritage sites are located here – The Red fort, The Qutb Complex and the Humayun tomb

g) Comprises of Old and New Delhi.

I came across some interesting heritage walks conducted in Delhi and these are on my ‘to be experienced’ list when I visit the city, next time:

a) Walks in Delhi conducted by India Habitat Centre, www.indiahabitat.org

b) Walking tours by Delhi Heritage walks, they conduct customized tours too, www.delhiheritagewalks.com

c) Heritage walks with Surekha Narain, www.delhimetrowalks.com

d) INTACH Walks organized by The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, the fee for these walks is very nominal, www.intachdelhichapter.org


“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

Exploring Delhi – Dilli Meri Jaan




Part 2 of North India Soujourn


The capital city of the world’s largest democracy, Delhi, always fascinated me. Having visited Delhi a couple of times on business trips, I did not get a chance to explore Delhi.

Finally I visited Delhi (though for a few days) some time back. It is a place which just cannot be covered in a couple of days. However here are some highlights which I would like to recommend from my experience:

a) Travelling by the world class Delhi Metro

Delhi Metro - cool way to travel around Delhi
b) Browsing the varied wares in Paharganj market



c) Go for a ride on a tanga (cycle rickshaw)


Tanga ride outside Paharganj metro station
 

d) Visit the famous Lotus temple (Baha’i temple)

One of the most visited landmarks in Delhi - the lotus shaped Bahai temple
e) Admire the beautiful, mammoth scaled Akshardham temple



The heavily guarded Akshardham temple
 

f) Explore the ruins of Qutub Minar complex

Qutb Minar
g) Pray at Laxminarayan Mandir (temple)

Across from the Laxminarayan temple

h) Savor delicious food at Parathewala Gali in Chandni Chowk
The varied menu as displayed in one of the Paratha shops in Parathewali Gali

i) Pay homage to the Nation’s leader – Mahatma Gandhi at Gandhi Smriti

The silent surroundings at Gandhi Smriti

Next time I plan to take the HoHo – Hop on, Hop off bus, in New Delhi – which covers most of the tourist places in Delhi, www.hohodelhi.com

 
A wonderful and economical way to explore Delhi !

Ho Ho Delhi !

North India Sojourn


Part 1

Having been to many South Indian states of India, I yearned to visit the Northern states and finally visited some of the famous places like:

a) Delhi – The Capital City


The famous Lotus temple in Delhi
 

b) Chandigarh – The Planned City

 
One of the many beautiful creations at Rock garden, Chandigarh
 


Beautifully adorned swings at Rock garden in Chandigarh

c) Amritsar – The Holy City
 
Overlooking the serene Golden temple at Amritsar



Wagh border near Amritsar


d) Shimla – The Cool Hilltown


The famous Mall road in Shimla


One of the many scenic pathways in Shimla
 

Visiting these cities and town within a week was indeed possible. Though seven days is not sufficient to explore all of these wonderful places, I must say it was a wonderful experience!

Each of these places has its own inherent attractions, which I will share in my upcoming posts.

“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Goldoni

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Hundred Hands!


Beautiful coir handicrafts of Pipli, Orissa
 Handicrafts – handmade by beautiful hands .....
I always loved handicrafts and happened to read about a beautiful event being held in Bangalore to promote handicrafts and the artisans.


The Handmade collective - The only festival of all things handmade is back for the 4th year with over 65 Artists & Groups.....says the home page of the website: www.ahundredhands.com

This festival is being held in Bangalore from 27th -30th November 2013.
Venue: The Kocchar Institute, St. John’s Church Road, Opposite Kendriya Vidyalaya, MEG, Bangalore.

A Hundred Hands is a nonprofit trust whose mission is to help those directly involved in the creation of handmade art, crafts and homemade foods, to earn a fair and sustainable livelihood from their work.

For more details, please visit their website: www.ahundredhands.com

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Little Human Planet!

I came across a beautiful song taught to my daughter in her school (Class II) and would like to share this thoughtful song with all of you.
‘In our big round planet, out in the big starry space
Let’s meet our friends around the world
And go from place to place.
Our lives may be so different
Different countries, different names
Different languages, different weather
But inside we are just the same.

Let’s meet our friends around the world

Hello – and how are you?

We are the children of the world.

We are it’s future too!

Let’s meet our friends around the world.

We are - Little Human Planet!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Most Nutritious Indian Breakfast!

Recently the ‘Times of India’ conducted a survey (published August 30, 2013) on ‘ India’s Breakfast Habits’ in four metro cities, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, and found that 3 idlis, a bowl of sambhar and a tumbler of filter coffee is the most nutritious breakfast !
Traditionally, idli’s are prepared in most of the South Indian (especially in states like Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh) households almost every day or every week. It is one of my favorite breakfast dishes.
Idlis with puthana dal chutney, mini idlis for juniors - my nephew loves these!

One of the favorite accompaniments with Idlis - split chick peas (puthana dal/dalia in Hindi) chutney
Why idli’s are the best breakfast choice? Here are some answers which make it the most preferred morning (or evening) meal/snack (some even prefer to have it for dinner):
a)      Simple to make (provided the idli batter is fermented and ready to be added in the idli moulds - to be steamed)
b)      Fat free - as it is steam cooked.
c)      Most nutritious and complete meal- rice (carbohydrate source) and urad dal (adds to the protein value)
d)      One feels satiated on eating this meal…no need to binge in between…..
e)      It is light on the pocket and waistlineJ
f)       Thus affordable and healthy!

Food is our common ground, an universal experience.
-          James Beard

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Largest bangles market in India ! Part II

Part II
One will find all types of bangles here: lac bangles, glass bangles, metallic bangles, embellished bangles in a range of colors! Of special mention are the famous lac bangles, sold here. Lac is a type of clay and these bangles are very brittle.

 
Lac bangles
 

Two hours passed by as minutes, admiring these beautiful creations….
I would have loved to explore the various labyrinthine lanes which sell beads, clothes, perfumes, bridal trousseaus etc. All that a women could wish for! However as dusk set in, I had to leave Charminar, with a resolution to come back again and explore its myriad bylanes and hunt for more treasures…

Hard to resist - I had to buy one of these.


The rows of bangles continue...

Beautiful treasures for a small price!




Largest bangles market in India !

Part I

It is simply enticing, you are tempted to buy more and more ! This is what all my friends who visited the bangle market in Charminar had said to me several times. And I vouch this fact.
One of the many lanes lined with bangle shops.
Upon entering the shop.....dazzling array
As I entered Laad bazaar, one of the many bazaars in Charminar area of Old city of Hyderabad (erstwhile!) also known as Chudi (bangle in Hindi) bazaar, Meena bazaar, I was attracted towards the numerous shops displaying a range of attractive bangles in varied colors and hues ! It is said that this bazaar was established by a lady, Ladli Begum. The bangle shops have feminine names like, Ladli, Gehna, Nagma etc.
Upon entering the shops (one needs to decide which of the shops to enter), the bangles are displayed elegantly in glass cabinets and the salesmen ensure that you are spoilt with a choice of beautiful bangles at very economical price (you need to bargain hard!)
This bazaar houses around 350 bangle shops. The price of bangles can range from Rupees 100 to Rupees 5,000 per pair.

 
Metallic bangles

Decorated with beads and more



Colorful glass bangles
The colorful lot
To be continued...
 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Charmed by Charminar!


 Last year, when I visited Hyderabad (erthwhile) I made it a point to visit the much famed Charminar.

Entering the old city with a view of Charminar.
Here are some facts about this imposing structure standing tall at the intersection of four busy roads:
a)      One of the main landmarks of Hyderabad.
b)      It is known as Charminar because of its four (char = four, in Hindi; Minar in Arabic, manara = spire/tower) minarets.
c)      It is one of the main landmarks of Hyderabad.
d)     Known as ‘The Arc de Triomphe of the East”
e)      It was built in 1591to commemorate the eradication of plague in Hyderabad.
f)       It is a  massive square structure, 56 meters (183.72 feet) high and 30 meters (98.42 feet) wide
g)      It is built of granite and lime mortar.
h)      Each of the four grand arches of this structure, face the four cardinal directions that open into four streets which lead to thriving markets known as Laad Baazaar and Pather Gatti, which are famous for exquisite bangles and pearls, respectively.
i)        It has four minarets, one on each of its corners. These fluted minarets are attached to the main building and rise towards the sky to a height of 56 m (183.72 ft). Each minaret has a double balcony.
j)        Inside the minarets, 149 winding steps lead to the top floor, which provides a panoramic view of the city. However, the general public is not allowed to access this.
k)      It is the oldest surviving mosque in the city of Hyderabad. 
 

Delicate stone work adornment



A view of the imposing structure.
Adjacent to this monument is a Durga temple – an excellent example of communal harmony!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Future dependent on Responsible Tourism...

The pioneering WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, in association with the UNWTO, hosts the world's most comprehensive, searching and thought-provoking agenda on responsible tourism.

Celebrated today, November 6, this one defining day in the year that travel companies, destinations, organisations, employees and suppliers come together across the world in a remarkable expression of this new way of thinking !

www.wtmresponsibletourism.com/Content/World-Responsible-Tourism-Day

Sunday, October 20, 2013

UNESCO's World Heritage mission

Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage.

What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
The various Heritage Sites across the globe.

UNESCO's World Heritage mission is to:
·         encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage;
·         encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List;
·         encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites;
·         help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training;
·         provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger;
·         support States Parties' public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation;
·         encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage;
·         encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Nine days festival – Navratri

The nine forms of Shakti – the creative feminine power, are worshipped during Navratri. The different forms of Shakti – the primordial cosmic energy are Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati.

This year Navratri is being celebrated from October 6 – 14. October 14 marks the eve of Dusshera – to celebrate the triumph of good over evil !

Durga Devi puja are Sarvajanik mandal, Aquem, Margao, Goa, India
This festival is celebrated all over India, but with special enthusiasm in Kolkata.

The various powerful forms of the Goddess worshipped with great fervor on each of the days of Navratri are described herewith:

The beautifully lighted Shantadurga temple at Shantinagar, Aquem, Goa

Temple glows with lights...

Shantadurga Devi

Durga Devi puja at Fatorda, Margao, Goa, India


Day 1: First form: Shailaputri: The Goddess is depicted seated on a bull.

Day 2: Second form: Brahmacharini: She is depicted with prayer beads (Japmala) in the right hand and a prayer pot (Kamandal) in the left hand.

Day 3: Third form: Chandraghanta: Seated of a tiger, her forehead bears is adorned with the half moon shaped adornment. She is repesented with 10 hands which bear various weapons.

Day 4: Fourth form: Kushmanda: Also, known as Adi Shakti (who existed before the universe was formed) She is represented with eight arms, which bear various weapons and is seated on a tiger.

Day 5: Fifth form: Skandamata: Seated in a kamal (lotus) asan posture, on a lion, she is represented with four arms. And is also known as Padmasna Devi.

Day 6: Sixth form: Katyayni: She is represented with four arms and is seated on a lion.

Day 7: Seventh form: Kalratri: She is represented with a dark complexion. Seated on a gardhab (in Hindi, donkey in English) , she is four armed. She looks to be fearful, but bestows happiness.

Day 8: Eighth form: Mahagauri: The four armed Goddess is represented as fair skinned wearing pure white colored saree, and looks very peaceful, and is seated on a bull.

Day 9: Siddhidhatri: She is seated on a lotus and is represented with four arms.
The radiant Goddess of Shakti (power) 



“The nine days of Navratri are observed to perform spiritual practices for awakening of Shakti!”

Friday, October 11, 2013

I love Yarn Day - October 11

Today, October 11, is celebrated as 'I love Yarn day', which is very much applicable to me. As I love to crotchet with yarn (which includes thread, fiber and wool, however I prefer wool as it is easier to work with) and in this process, am always on the lookout for some interesting and colorful yarn.
My favorite colorful wool (yarn) creation...

A person like me may be referred as:
a) Yarn lover
b) Yarn diva
c) Yarn snob
d) Yarn geek
and the list goes on.....

And finally, I would say:
So much Yarn, so little time.........

Khadi - the fabric of Freedom !

The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, revived the tradition of khadi – India’s traditional weave that the doubly handcrafted.
He used the Charkha to spin cotton into yarn. This yarn is finally woven by hand into fabric - khadi.

Mahatma Gandhi’s relationship with khadi started in the 1920s when he revived the long forgotten tradition in India of hand spinning cloth after around 5000 years to rebel against the British machine made cotton fabrics and the British rule. For Mahatma Gandi, Khadi was a symbol of Swaraj or independence from the British and the Charkha was a symbol of self - entrepreneurship.

Khadi holds and important place in the heart of India. Though Khadi is made of cotton, it can be made of silk or wool too.

A shop at the International Airport at Mumbai, with Khadi shirts and memorablia related to Gandhiji


Mahatmas Gandhi’s fabric of compassion is unique due to:
a) It’s flexibility - keeps one warm in winter and fresh in summer
b) it’s ecofriendly and sustainable nature!

Did you know: Each fabric of Khadi, also known as khaddar, is unique as it is handwoven and handspun.


Useful links about Khadi:
http://www.houseofkhadi.com/
http://www.kvic.org.in/ ; Khadi and Village industries Commission

A link to the site which offers Khadi and natural products:
http://www.khadinatural.com/

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

International Day of Non-Violence – October 2

October 2 marks the 144th birthday of the Father of the Nation – Mahatma Gandhi. Also known as Gandhi Jayanti, this day is a national holiday in India.
Worldwide, it is celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Gandhiji inspired millions of Indians and other countrymen during the freedom struggle movement in India. His life, his struggle, his speeches and thoughts continue to inspire us…..

Today, I would like to share a beautiful article written by Gandhiji about ‘Truth’:

Beauty in Truth

I see and find Beauty in Truth or through Truth. All Truths, not merely true ideas, but truthful faces, truthful pictures or songs are highly beautiful. People generally fail to see Beauty in Truth, the ordinary man runs away from it and becomes blind to the beauty in it. Whenever men begin to see Beauty in Truth, then true Art will arise.

To a true artist only that face is beautiful which, quite apart from its exterior, shines with the Truth within the soul. There is… no Beauty apart from Truth. On the other hand, Truth may manifest itself in forms, which may not be outwardly beautiful at all. Socrates, we are told, was the most truthful man of his time, and yet his features are said to have been the ugliest in Greece. To my mind he was beautiful, because all his life was a striving after Truth, and you may remember that his outward form did not prevent Phidias from appreciating the beauty of Truth in him, though as an artist he was accustomed to see Beauty in outward forms also.

Truth and Untruth often co-exist; good and evil are often found together. In an artist also not seldom [do] the right perception of things and the wrong co-exist. Truly beautiful creations come when right perception is at work. If these monuments are rare in life, they are also rare in Art.
These beauties ['a sunset or a crescent moon that shines amid the stars at night'] are truthful, inasmuch as they make me think of the Creator at the back of them. How else could these be beautiful, but for the Truth that is in the center of creation? When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator. I try to see Him and His mercies in all these creations. But even the sunsets and sunrises would be mere hindrances if they did not help me to think of the soul is a delusion and a snare; even like the body, which often does hinder you in the path of salvation.

Why can't you see the beauty of colour in vegetables? And then, there is beauty in the speckless sky. But no, you want the colours of the rainbow, which is a mere optical illusion. We have been taught to believe that what is beautiful need not be useful and what is useful cannot be beautiful. I want to show that what is useful can also be beautiful.

Source: The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi

I salute to the Father of the Nation, Bapuji !

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tallest statue of Buddha in India!

On my recent visit to Hyderabad, this April, I happened to pass by MG Road overlooking the serene Hussain Sagar lake which was created in the 17th century.

MG Road bisects Hyderabad and Secunderabad and stretches along three kilometres. Many of the city dwellers enjoy the cool evenings
strolling along the sidewalk of this road, overlooking the lake. The other side of the road is lined with statues of eminent persons from Andhra Pradesh history.

Due to continuous traffic on the busy road, we could not stop by the lake; however I caught a fleeting glimpse of the imposing statue of Buddha in the middle of Hussain Sagar lake.


Here the statue of Gautam Buddha stands at a height of 56 feet in height (17 metres)
at the centre of the lake on a rock. It is the tallest monolithic statue of Buddha in India ! Made of white granite rock, it weighs a whopping 350 tonnes…. Indeed very heavy.

A fleeting glimpse of Buddha in daylight.
 
Lighted surroundings....
  And is ranked amongst the famous Buddha statues in the world.
The Buddha statue lighted at night in various hues....


The below link, list’s the top 10 famous Buddha statues in the world: