Temple of the Emerald Buddha - Amazing Thailand

This series is based over my reflections upon visiting Thailand.

Shahjahanabad (Const 1648 CE)- The Legacy of Delhi Series (Vol 8)

'Shahjahanabad' is the eighth post in a series of 9 articles on the former capital cities which were built in the historical region of Delhi. Read on to know more..

Hill Fort of Kumbhalgarh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Know more about this incredible World Heritage Site here..

The Immortal Kumbh Mela - Mahakumbha of 2013

Believed to be the largest congregation of mankind in the world, read my series of posts to know how it feels like to be amongst a magnitude of people

Guru Dongmar Lake, one of the highest in the world

Few destinations have the ability to change your life; Sikkim being one of them. Check out the series 'Sikim Soujourn' to find out why ?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Road Trip to Sadhaura and Nahan




Some trips are born out of planning, some trips are born out of desire to see some place, and some trips are born out of a wish to tick off a place from our bucket list. This particular road trip of me and my family was born out of a promise my father made at a humble shrine of a Sufi saint, located at the foothills of the Himalayas, right next to a riverbed on the Himachal Pradesh – Haryana Border. The name of the town was Sadhaura (Haryana) and this humble shrine was located on the outskirts of it. 

Zooming across the tree lined NH 44

We set out in our small car (a Tata Nano) post filling up our tanks, getting a brand new set of CEAT tyres (the trip was a long one, almost 250 kms one way, so it made sense to change our tyres especially seeing the fact that it was close to due date of periodic change of our car tyres), stocking ourselves with cameras, GPS device and (vis a vis my father) memories of the place he had visited 29 years ago.

Thanks to the servicing we our car had got we zoomed across the NH44 and via towns of Panipat, Karnal and Shahbad Markanda we crossed the town of Sadhaura. Now this bit we covered with the help of Google maps. The last bit of the journey was a tricky one because the landscape (as it existed in 1986) had changed drastically, to top it all the mountains which were close by had been shrouded in a cloak of mist by nature so it was really tough to fix the location of the shrine. What made it even tougher was that when we asked the locals for directions they kept on guiding us to local shrines which didn’t fit the description. Eventually father and son (the one for whom he had prayed for in the shrine, which is me), after roaming barefoot on the riverbed (the car after negotiating the sandy riverbed with some difficulty, the CEAT tyres of the car came to our aid over here, had been parked at a shrine which looked old) my father had a feeling that we were at the right place.

 The Blessed Dargah, which we finally found..

The remaining doubts which he had in his mind (he recalled that there were mountains visible right behind the shrine, something which we could not ascertain because of the mist in the air) were cleared by the young caretakers in the shrine who informed us that One, the shrine had undertaken some structural modifications since the last time my dad came  (which is why it looked a bit different), Two, this shrine was at least 300 years old and thus the only shrine which stood next to the river bed (at that location) and Three, the mountains ‘were visible’ behind the shrine and that they were shrouded in mist which is why we could not see it then (you could remember that one of the memories which my dad had of the shrine was that it was locate at the foothills of Himalayas).

After these doubts were cleared we proceeded to the shrine with an open heart and offered the beautiful chaddar which my father had obtained from a shop next to the Nizammuddin Dargah in Delhi.

The beautifully decorated inner wall, of the dome under which the Sufi Saint rests..

Once the customary pictures were taken we decided to head off to Nahan, to celebrate the fulfillment of my dad’s promise. Now, our car was a 2 x 4 drive but because it had been serviced and had a fresh set of CEAT tyres we were confident to take our city car to Nahan (a town in Himachal Pradesh, at an elevation of 3058 ft above sea level) which was at a distance of 30kms from Sadhaura.

Climbing the winding road upto Nahan

Bare hills beside the road to Nahan, it is hill sides like these which are prone to landslides during the rainy season

The road to Nahan took us through the town of Kala Amb. Post crossing the Himachal Pradesh border we started to negotiate the winding roads leading up to the former capital of the princely state of Sirmour. We drove cautiously whenever we saw a truck approaching and never accelerated beyond 30 kms per hour (and that too on an empty and straight stretch of road, which were few to find to be quite honest). 

 Lytton Memorial


Gurudwara Shri Dashmesh Asthan (Nahan Sahib)

Upon reaching Nahan we had lunch and after exploring the British Era Lytton Memorial, which is quite at the entrance of Nahan, we went to the Gurudwara Shri Dashmesh Asthan (Nahan Sahib) a historical site which was visited by Guru Gobind Singh!

A Panoramic view of the countryside, as seen from Nahan

After spending some time here we headed back. After negotiating the downhill mountain roads with the help of our brakes and CEAT tyres we hit the NH 44 and zoomed back to Delhi. The trip to Delhi took us around 5 and a half hour.

As mentioned earlier we were in a Tata Nano but that never made us nervous while driving on the Highways as we simply stuck to the Road Safety rules. While driving on the highways we ensured that we drove on our designated lanes, did not attempt to overtake from the wrong side and always yielded whenever a big truck came up. We used the dipper effectively and that helped. My brother and father took turns at driving as a fatigued driver at the wheel is an invitation to accidents.

I was never able to document this trip for my blog (due to certain events mentioned ahead). This trip was special not only because my dad was able to fulfill his promise which he made to the Sufi Saint in the 80’s but also because 10 days post the trip my dad met a terrible accident which led to a surgery and post operative complications. Today while my dad is hale and hearty but (upon medical advice) he can no longer undertake a 500 kms road trip like this ever again.

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I’m chronicling my road trip adventure for CEAT Tyres in association with BlogAdda

Friday, July 29, 2016

Yoga Retreat at Namah Vol. 1 - The Yogic Experience

 On the eve of International Yoga Day (which falls on June 21st) Namah Resorts organised a Yoga Retreat in their property in Jim Corbett National Park. The retreat included Yoga sessions led by Yoga experts from Saptarashmi and performing Yogic Kriya's like Kunjar Kriya, Neti Kriya e.t.c. I was one of the bloggers who was invited for this fitness themed travel trip.


Since almost an year now, I have turned to exercising and weight training in order to stay fit (keeping my health in mind) so I thought this was a nice oppurtunity to try my hand at Yoga, explore the Jim Corbett National Park (in the monsoons) and also explore the Namah Resort. So this travelogue is a part of a series of 3 articles where I would explore these three aspects one by one.

Everyday the retreat would start with us performing the Kunjar (or Vaman) Kriya and the Neti Kriya early morning. Let me explain these kriya's through pictures -

The Jal Neti Kriya is performed by pointing the nozzle of the utensil (used for Neti) and letting the water flow into one nostril and flow out of the other. This helps in clearing the sinuses and is greatly beneficial for people living in a polluted environment and asthmatic's. The two precautions which need to be kept in mind is that the water needs to be lukewarm (not cold) and that you 'have' to breathe through your mouth !

The Kunjal Kriya is performed in two steps. In the first pic here we have to drink as much water (luke warm and mixed with some salt) as possible in a short period of time.

In the second step of Kunjal Kriya you stick your fingers inside your mouth and massage the little tongue located at the base of your tongue so that all the water (which you just drank) rushes out. This kriya helps in clearing out your stomach of all the undigested food present in your stomach (which you had consumed the previous night) and hence prevents indigestion.

After performing these two kriya's early in the morning we would be treated to a Herbal Drink which consisted of honey, ginger, ajwain e.t.c.

The Yoga Gurus from Saptarashmi preparing water for the kriyas !


The retreat conducted by Yoga Instructors from Saptarashmi was a good one and they made us perform all kinds of asana's (pose's) like Pranayam, Matsya (Fish) Asana (Pose), Dhanur (Bow) Asana (Pose), Magar (Crocodile) Asana (Pose) e.t.c. As I was performing these asana's myself I was unable to click pics. So here are two which I could source-

Performing meditation which involves concentrating on one's breathing. (Pic source from FB Page of Namah/Jim Corbett)

 The Nataraja (Lord of Dance) Asana. This asana promotes flexibility in the limbs and core muscles which in turn help in retaining posture/balance. It also strengthens the legs and ankles.

 One of the favourite asanas which I performed was the Dhanur (Bow) asana where we would lie down on our stomach and hold our ankles with our hands. It really helps in promoting flexibility of our back muscles and strengthening our core muscles !

What made performing yoga for us bloggers a wonderful experience was the presence of the Himalayas and the jungles of Jim Corbett looking over us while we exercised !

video

This video shows the serene and lush green surroundings where we did the kriyas and Yoga (especially on the 3rd day). The chirping of the birds, the presence of the dense forests of Jim Corbett National Park and the Himalayas only add to the grandeur of the location !

 It is my personal opinion that performing yoga at such a serene environment is the next best to performing yoga at the sandy banks of the River Ganges !

(to be continued.....)
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Note - Images, unless mentioned, have been clicked by Mr Arvind Passey)

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Himalayas at Jim Corbett National Park



The densely forested Himalayas (pic clicked from Namah Resort, Dhikuli) are an integral part of the Jim Corbett National Park, which surrounds it. It is home to a diverse variety of flora and fauna apart from being home of the tiger ! It is located in the state of Uttarakhand.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Begumpuri Masjid, New Delhi (14th Cent CE)


A close up of the facade in front of the main dome

Located off Sri Aurobindo Marg, in Begumpuri Village; this heavily encroached upon Mosque is a class apart, architecture wise. Constructed on the orders of Jauna Khan Telangani (prime minister of Feroz Shah Tughluq and son of Khan i Jahan Maqbul Telangani) , Begumpuri Masjid (Mosque) of Delhi was one in the series of seven mosques constructed by him with the others being - Jama Masjid (Ferozabad), Khirki Masjid (in Khirki Village, opposite Select Citywalk Mall), Kalu Sarai Masjid, Kalan Masjid (Turkman Gate of Old Delhi), Kalan Masjid (Nizamuddin) and Wakya Masjid (Lahori Gate).

View, upon entering the mosque
 
The moment you climb up the moderately steep stairs of this mosque, you would find yourselves in a lofty domed gateway which would lead you to the expansive courtyard (surrounded by a 3 aisled corridor whch is interrupted by gateway entrances and the mihrab) where, during its heydays, this ruinous mosque would be full of life and would have grand carpets spread upon its, now stony, floors and great shamiana's (tents) spread overhead so that the faithful could pray at ease.

.The large courtyard, where at one time large tents and carpets would be present to offer the prayers

 Worn out Mihrab on the Qibla (west facing) Wall
If we look at what remains of this architecturally distinct mosque, it is the manner it has been constructed. Jauna Khan Telangani took personal interest in the designing of the seven mosques he had commissioned and tried to incorporate a unique feature in each of them.

 View of the concealed dome
In this mosque the main dome over the Mihrab is screened by a large wall thus giving an initial impression (from a frontal viewpoint) that the dome does not exist. There are narrow (and dark) stairs which can take you to the top of this wall and the giant dome behind it !! The wall also has a slight slant to it , something reminiscent of the Tughluq style of architecture; and has false minars at both its ends, to beautify as well as to strengthen the structure.


Begumpuri Masjid is a 2 aisled mosque


Shot of an aisle
The roof of the aisles, which surround the courtyard have 2 rows of domes which are running parallel to each other. The walls of the mosque have arched gaps at periodic intervals, thus providing a view of the outside.

 Interior of the Main Dome
The Begumpuri Mosque, now over 600 years old, is also a classic example of how neglect, by the concerned authorities, resulted in the mosque being encroached upon by all sides by residential houses and squatters creating permanent residences 'inside' the mosque. It was only after a prolonged legal battle between ASI and those squatters the courts ordered all the squatters to be shunted out, one by one. But, that said even today the mosque can see the presence of anti social elements by seeing broken bottles and litter.

 Another shot of the courtyard, this time facing the entrance
It is recommended to visit the mosque during day time and preferably with someone. If alone take the help of the guard posted at the gate or 'just keep your eyes open'.
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Friday, April 8, 2016

Qutub Minar, Mehrauli, New Delhi (Const 1206-36 CE)




The Qutub Minar was commissioned by Qutbuddin Aibak in 1206 CE and completed by Sultan Iltutmish in 1236 CE. This minaret is believed to have been named after Hazrat Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, a Sufi saint of Chistiya Silsila. He was revered by Sultan Iltutmish and his shrine/dargah is close to the Qutb Complex.

The Qutb Minar is the tallest brick minaret in the world (at 72 metres). As per various historians this UNESCO World Heritage Site is believed to have been inspired by the Minarets of Jam, Ghazni, Bukhara e.t.c. But Historian Ziyauddin Desai believed that the Qutb Minar is inspired by a minar in Khwaja Siyaposh in Sistan (S-W Afghanistan).

Qutub Minar has a total of 5 stories and it was topped by a chattri (installed by Ferozeshah Tughluq). The lowermost, and the tallest floor has 24 flutings. The architecture of the Qutub Minar is such that from a distance it would appear like a bundle of reeds ! Inscriptions on the minar have been found in Perso-Arabic and Nagari Scripts which shed light on its history and the repair works done over it.

Being so tall in height the Qutub Minar has often been prone to lightning strikes across the ages. It has been damaged and subsequently repaired quite a few times across its 816 years old existence by various sultans like Ferozeshah Tughlaq (14th Cent CE), Sultan Sikandar Lodi (1489 - 1517 CE) and the Britishers (in early 1800's CE).

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Sources -
1. Indo-Islamic Architecture by Ziyauddin Desai
2. ASI Sources (Website/Information Board)
2. Wikipedia

Friday, March 25, 2016

Article on Kumbhalgarh - Hill Fortress of Mewar (Rajasthan) (Const 15th Cent CE)

Last year I had written an article over Kumbhalgarh and it was accepted by Ezine to be published on it's site. A very informative article, I would like to share it's link with you. Please got through it and let me know your views !

Just to let you know in brief Kumbhalgarh is a UNESCO world heritage site and has the longest continuous wall in India (36 kms) and the second longest wall in Asia, after the Great Wall of China ! Kumbhalgarh Fort was built by Rana Kumbha (in 15th century CE) and was the birthplace of Maharana Pratap !

Here's the link to the article - http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Rohan_Anirudh_Singh/2056412



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Friday, February 5, 2016

Article on The History of New Delhi - Capital of Capitals


Last year I had written an article over The History of New Delhi - Capital of Capitals' and it was accepted by Ezine to be published on it's site. A very informative article, I would like to share it's link with you. Please got through it and let me know your views !


To let you know in brief the article traces the history of the historical region of Delhi and it's rise in significance over a period of time. This article also introduces you to the various capital cities which the historians built in the historical region of Delhi !


Here's the link to the article -
http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Rohan_Anirudh_Singh/2056412

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