Without the sound of the wind in my face I’ll never know how far I have to go…Without it on my back, I’ll never know how far I could have gone…
He knew there wasn’t a chance in hell that he would give up before the destination arrived. He knew the tricky paths were going to be the most challenging ones to conquer. But it had to be done. No matter what time it took or how much of his energy went into this ordeal. He had taken this upon himself to ensure that the cumbersome path of the mountains had to be climbed. He took along his kit with himself. Packed a little ligher than usual… this way he knew he’d be able to push himself much harder than he actually could with a heavier backpack. He checked that he brought along the most essential items, like a jacket, sleeping bag, accesories and a small portable stove, some food, fruits, a trekkers knife and some water to help him with his parched throat from time to time. Not to forget a small medical kit that could come handy for the rough rides or downfalls he would be up against. Without a lot of thought put in, he had quickly made a decision to climb the mountains and endure the worst that he had ever experienced.
When he started the trek it wasn’t that bright. There was no Sun… The entire terrain was covered in fog… But it was only a matter of time, before it showed up. He looked around after a while, there was a break of light. He could see the sun hiding beneath the clouds shedding rays of light across the mountains. He could see the beautiful mountains all across. He could take a slight peek at the corner of the eye, staring into the sun which was rising up fast and then look away to the snow covered peaks that shone right up in his face. He had an expression on his face that could tell easily how much bliss he was experiencing when he saw those mountains. He knew that despite the challenge, the very fact that he’d be up there sometime was something that gave him a lot of joy… Something that told him that everything was going to be worth it. A definitive moment of confidence and exuberance showed up on his face, slowly girnning, looking up in the sky, sighing and smiling to himself he realized that it was time for the journey to begin. Slowly pacing himself and briskly walknig across the crooked paths he started humming to himself… To control his breathing and to make sure that he doesn’t exert himself mentally. He started taking longer and slower steps as he walked on the tracks that became steeper at parts. His humming subsiding and some panting that began increasing. He hadn’t done this for a long time… Even though he had got some practice before he began ths journey, it was the first time he faced a track like this… after a long time. Nonetheless he knew this was going to get edgier and more challenging as he went further… All he could do is smile to himself and say, “It needs to be done…” There were times when he did give up… before getting up after a bit of rest and some water, to speak to himself in his mind, “It needs to be done…” Sometimes foggy, sometimes sunny and suddenly cloudy, he got all bits of the weather, right up untill he reached the open space and the mountains curving into give a straight path without the covering mountains nearby. Suddenly it had become all clear. Suddenly there was a lot more for him to see and to experience. He loved the beautiful mountains staring right at his face. He loved the smell of the green at places and the breeze blowing into his face. He looked up in the clear blue sky and thought to himself,
“How far do I have to go? How far have I already gone?”
Then he just looked at his compass, look up straight ahead… grin a little bit and adjust his backpack. Quickly he’d start walking again and the smile giving away his secret… A secret that kept him going always, especially in the windy mountains like these…
Without the sound of the wind in my face I’ll never know how far I have to go…Without it on my back, I’ll never know how far I could have gone…
He dug across the path which raked in between the crooked boulders on the mountain. There were trenches, ditches, twisted turns and slippery paths to walk. The trail was the most difficult at this part of the mountain. He looked beyond the broad horizon, one that was starkly glowing in his face. The sunset across the mountains penetrated the entire region with its golden rays and the entire valley. Because of its desert like terrain the sky gleamed with effervescence surrounding the entire mountain ranges. It was hard to not keep staring in the sky and ponder upon the journey… The journey that he had taken wandering about the trodden paths of the most adverse conditions on the trek of his.
He had begun the journey when there was no Sun… The entire terrain was covered in fog… But it was only a matter of time, before it showed up. In fact at one point it was up in the sky dolling out its scorching heat, which was unbearable to him. He held his hand across his eyes touching his forehead. He twisted his woolen cap to cover his face, away from the beaming rays striking at him with an acute sharpness of its penetrating aura. He knew that the trail he had left was quite a long one. One that let him do his soul searching on his journey across the terrain. One that let him think and introspect upon his past and his present. One that told him of the heights that needed to be conquered. One that showed him how a traversal like this will help him dig deep into his consciousness. A journey that made him realize how mystically important this learning of life meant to him. A journey that helped him become what he was today…
He couldn’t judge how humongous and widely spread this entire place was. As geographically vast and surmountable the terrain was it was nothing compared to the journey he had already finished, in order to finally reach the land which he lusted for many years. The land that he had thought about all his life. A place that was on his bucket list forever and this moment was something that he had always longed for.
But the real question was very tricky. As tricky as probably the slippery slopes he had overcome…
Why had he taken that journey? Why had he made this trek? Why?? What was he doing out there?
The quest to the soul within himself. The quest to the journey that was always in his mind…
This was his answer to that question… The answer to the question that he asked himself forever… Always, right from the time he had started traveling. Right from the time he had set upon himself the quest to wander the world, not just on the outside, but on the inside too. From the time that he had realized how his mind started reacting to the travel bug that had bit him…
An answer that changed his life …
“To traverse beyond the limitations of my mind, I travel to look upon the journey within myself.”
Every traveler has a different story of Ladakh! Every traveler has a vision that is different from others, when he is in Ladakh. Every traveler has an experience of his own when he is in Ladakh! Ladakh, the most enchanting destination in India for world & Indian travelers was on my list for a long time. Yes, I knew that there was a hype about this place and it had its own set of expectations. When I decided that this is the year that I’d go ahead and fulfill my dream of being in this land of the lost bring my sojourns from an experience that I, like any other traveler would have a different story, a different vision and a different experience to enchant others with, little did I know that all the hype that surrounded Ladakh, was certainly something that we lived up to!
One keeps wondering what’s so different about this beautiful place and why it’s called the Pride of India! Well there are many stories to it and certainly the ever so different and huge landscapes of various geographical terrains are a testament to it. But what’s so different from this place is the amazing culture and the most diverse and the most beautiful landscape it has to offer. Such that many who have traveled the world would find it a notch above their experiences. Add to it, the Himalayan terrain being infamous for its harsh and cold weather when the landscapes are inaccessible to the common people. There’s something mystic about the place especially with its lineage of Buddhism, its tibetian history and most importantly the nomadic culture that most people live by. A perfect destination for a wanderer, a nomad and many a travelers, Ladakh has its own sense of attachment, a bond that builds around various kinds of people.
We started our journey by flying into Leh directly from Mumbai… Yeah, we flew in, unlike most folks who generally do a ride / drive from either Manali or Srinagar mostly… Maybe that’s one thing that’ll be on my list for the next time around… But yeah, usually when you fly in, one day just goes into acclimatization, which could be a good thing in a way… It was a 10 day trip, so we did have a lot of buffer time for ourselves. So yeah, it was good in a way.. And those 10 days were certainly quite enchanting and our journey was certainly something we’d cherish for quite some time. This is how our journey went and here’s a little bit of a photo essay that tells you all
We went to this rooftop restaurant as soon as we freshened up in the hotel room. This was the first view of something really enchanting in Leh, Ladakh and it had to be clicked!
The next day was reserved for local sight seeing… Our first destination on that trip was this place where we saw a confluence of Indus and Zanskar river.
Our next day visit was to the Tso Moriri, or Lake Moriri. They had told us that there was a landslide in the Pangong Tso area and that the route to that lake had closed down. So we were recommended this place and it took us an entire day to reach there and we stayed there overnight… But truly, it was worth it. Tsomoriri or Lake Moriri in the Changthang area, is a High Altitude Lake (HAL) with an altitude of 4,595 m (15,075 ft) in Ladakh, India and is the largest of the High Altitude Lakes in the Trans-Himalayan biogeographic region, entirely within India. It is hemmed between Ladakh in the North and Tibet in the east and Zanskar in the west; the Changthang plateau is the geographical setting with snow peaks that provides the source of water for the Lake. (Wikipedia)
And of course, what good is a visit to Ladakh, if you don’t take the ride to Khardung La… Although we didn’t do the dream ride or ride on an Enfield all the way from Delhi/Manali or Srinagar, this was the least we could do… Something to satisfy our amicable souls…
For quite a while, this destination had been on my list. Of course one of the biggest reasons being the fact that it is absolutely beautiful area and quite near to the Kangra valley and the Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. Of course the beautiful weather was something that certainly made me forget the totally different kind of a weather that we experienced in Ladakh, nonetheless, this place had it’s own sense of aura and it’s own sense of beauty to itself. But also for the fact that it had been home to The Dalai Lama for quite a while now… It’s own culture and its own roots have been a different aura to people who have frequently visited this place. Something that a lot of people wanted to realize for a long time. Despite the fact that The Dalai Lama wasn’t around and he in fact had come down to Leh, Ladakh and we were out here in Dharamsala didn’t really matter much as long as we got to experience a bit of the place, the culturally sensitive yet strong in roots, tibetian vibes, was something we enjoyed. On the way, I ended up making some good friends from acros the world and certainly shared quite something in terms of a philosophical and intellectual level was what that mattered. At the outset, even though a bit crowded, McLeodganj in itself wasn’t that attractive, but there were a couple of places that I’d certainly recommend people to visit… The Bhagsu Waterfalls (preferably on a weekday) weekends are filled by bikers and local people… And most importantly a place called Naddi… very serene, very peaceful and very very quiet. The visit to the temple was something that was much needed and something that one had to experience for himself/herself. Other than that, the food at a few amazing restaurants, namely Mccllos, and Jimmy’s Italian Cafe is truly amazing… You’ll realize, even with the influx of so many tourists, this place has it’s own capability to keep you captivated and enchanted by it’s own roots. Something I’d like to depict via the photos below.
“To traverse beyond the limitations of my mind, I travel to look upon the journey within myself.” With these thoughts, I set off on an adventure of a lifetime. A voyage to the mysterious beauties that unravel the most amazing parts of my country. A travelogue to capture the ‘Incredible India’ down South.
My visit to Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kerala had begun. I had heard from my friends, people didn’t speak anything else but their local languages out there. That made me equally foreign to these lands as anyone else who came from any other country. To me, this was a challenge, and a trip that would be monumental after I had completed it. With solitude on my side I had decided to explore over 17 superb locations in 15 days. Most importantly, I was going to discover the beautiful culture South India had to offer and document each and every location as a journal on my blog. With a Vernian, inspiration l had to ensure this journey went down in my books as the best one!
It all started with Chennai. From my helpful twitter friends to the conductors and everyone else warmly responding to my requests, helping me out wherever I went in little or broken English they spoke in. Yet always willfully extending their support without any intent but to help me out. With a sultry atmosphere, one I hadn’t anticipated, I started my journey by heading off to the Marina Beach. The warm, humid air in Chennai bore resemblance to the weather that I was used to during the summers in Mumbai. But, in winter, this humidity came to me as a surprise particularly when it was about 20-22 degrees centigrade back home… Nonetheless my objective was to start off with a beautiful array of sunrise shots to tell a story of this marvel in Chennai! The experience of going to Marina beach, travelling amongst the locals in the train was something I could relate to. Very similar to our Mumbai Locals… Gave me content in the fact that our cities, despite the cultural difference, had a lot in common.
Rest of Tamil Nadu was a quest for my spiritual journey across the fortresses and temples of the most majestic kinds in the country! From a mysterious yet wonderful experience in Kancheepuram, to satisfying and peaceful tryst with Lord Shiva in Thrichy, every temple had a story of its own. The most appealing temple was of course Thanjavur, unique in its own way and its rustic feel gave a nice ambience to the story it had to showcase. Different from all the other temples in the state, it had a charm in its own. Ruled by various dynasties from the Cholas to the Nayakas and the Marathas, it gave a completely versatile feel to itself. The grandeur it had was read between the brightness it shone despite the sun setting down upon its face. Abode to one of the biggest Nandi Statues, the Brihadeeswara Temple was an enchanting destination.
Then there was Rameshwaram. The same island where existed the famous temple of Lord Rama, the mighty king from Ramayana. This was the same location where an army of millions of apes (vanar-sena) built a bridge made out of floating stones engraved with Lord Rama’s name itself. This bridge built to take the army across the borders of India to the Golden empire of Lanka and wage an epic battle of great proportions upon the demons of this kingdom.
Something you can’t forget in Hindu mythology. A battle that spoke to us of the triumph of good over evil! A battle that till today is considered as a conquest of moral right over plain wrong. It was quite an experience, one that I would never forget.
While Tamil Nadu has its own share of spirituality I also enjoyed the beauty, nature and wildlife at the most amazing waterfalls ever… I sat in a small canoe or sort of a paddle boat to take the streams of Hogennakalu Waterfalls. A noteworthy place with perennially flowing streams of waterfalls. Off the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, one can easily reach this place from Salem by bus and literally take a boat towards the Karnataka border on the disputed Cauvery river. With an aquarium and a crocodile rehabilitation center to its attraction, this place certainly is thronged by children, youngsters and elders alike.
Finally Tamil Nadu ended with a short visit to the mystical land of Kanyakumari, popularly known for Triveni Sangam, meeting point of the three oceans that surround the peninsular region of our Incredible India. One that envisages the true feeling of being in touch with the spiritual side of yourself. Known for The Swami Vivekananda memorial rock . A place where the great leader attained enlightenment of sort and found bliss within himself. Visiting the most beautiful temples in our country to being overwhelmed by a sense of spirituality my journey across the state of Tamil Nadu truly gave me an understanding of oneness to myself.
Tamil Nadu certainly took a lot of my time and energy due to constant traveling in state transport buses in this rugged sojourn of mine. Whereas, my stay in Pondicherry was one of great relaxation and unwind. A visit that made me realize how time stood still and made me feel like a recluse of sorts in a land of the unknown.
Highlight of Pondicherry was tasting delicious food of various cultures dished out at the most amazing restaurants in town. From Chettinad food at the Apache Restaurant to french delicacies at the Le Café, Pondicherry was all about living life with the luxury similar to the tastes of most of the Europeans around. Spending three magical days exploring various parts of Pondicherry on a rented motorbike, places like the French Colony, the museum, Auroville and a lot of shopping streets across various parts of the town gave me the feeling of belongingness to that place. Sipping beer at the beach restaurant at night, listening to the roaring waves in a calm that gave most frenzied thoughts a form of tranquil made me realize what we miss in our caught-in-a-rut kind of a life.
Lastly, being in Kerala, God’s own country was like being in heaven itself. A boat ride in the backwaters of Kerala got me close to nature and made me believe in what their lifestyle stood for… Very quiet, peaceful and serene… The melodious sound of birds chirping in the background and a real feeling of standstill, told me a lot about how people loved and lived life in this paradise.
One of the most memorable trips within Kerala would be my infamous boat ride from Kottayam to Alaphuzza. It’s listed as one of the recommended things to do by Lonely Planet Magazine. From the start it was memorable especially after gorging on the sumptuous Malabari Parota with Kadala Curry.
What a way to start off a journey across the Venice of Kerala. Going to Venice has always been my dream… Until I get there, I have to make do with this one! A notable thing we did on our way back was to stop by at the very famous RBLOCK Island. We ate some good food and had local coconut palm beer, also known as Toddy… This Island was manmade by over 5000 villagers led by Mr. Baker. This was done in order to get more land to cultivate Paddy… A fantastic place for you to take a pitstop and eat some delicious food.
Lastly, I couldn’t ask for anything better than finishing my trip with a visit to Fort Kochi, a place that will be etched in my memories for its diversity and remarkable beauty, especially with its blend of cultures and religions. The Jew Street and the Paradesi Jewish Synagogue… gave me a mesmerizing feel of being in a place of some rarity. You will find a very different setting out here and experience a different feeling while walking on this street. The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. Then there are the Chinese Fishing Nets, with magnificent fixed installations for an unusual form of fishing makes for great photographs.
The end of my expedition. Travelling around, wandering like a nomad for 15 days. A feeling of bittersweet, told me that my journey was over, just like the setting sun when I left Fort Kochi. Indeed at the end of that 15th day I felt like Phileas Fogg, whose surmounting adventure had successfully come to a fulfilling end. One that I will cherish forever until I come back to soak it in yet again…
P.S This is my writing sample to Glimpse‘s ’Correspondent Program for Fall 2011‘, Also the shortened version of it is my submission to WorldNomads , Travel Writing Scholarship for 2011 which can be read here
© Copyright 2011 Srinivas Kulkarni. All rights reserved
These have been places that were on my itinerary from the time I’d been researching on Ancient Indian Technology, for my BarCampMumbai talk. Certainly fascinating, this & Hampi… Hampi was last on the agenda, but this place equally fascinating, for it’s wonderful and truly magnificient architecture that it shares with us from the ancient times of the 11th Century… Remarkable in it’s own stature, this has to be a place that is not so pompous and done to death by a lot of tourists, at the same time the places have a significant relevance in Karnataka tourism. Many tourism buses take tours and get people from all over the world to visit this fascinating place of art, history and significant culture. Why has it been so fascinating? Well, this relatively long but enchanting blog post that I’d like to write now, will probably tell you all about it.
Beautiful Belur, the quaint little town set elegantly on the banks of river Yagachi, amidst lush surroundings was earlier known as Velapuri. It was chosen as the capital of the Hoysalas, after the ascking and destruction of their capital at Dwarasamudra (Halebeedu) by delhi Sultans. The Hoysalas ruled the reigon between 44th and 13th Centuries. They were great patrons of art and architecture and built a number of magnificient shrines during their 300 years reign. The temples and monuments at Belur are amazing with their sculptures and architecture. Belur was revered for its magnificent shrines and came to be known as Modern Vaikuntha. Heaven on earth.
The Hoysala temples are characterised by Typical star shaped ground plan and are usually set on a platform. They are compact structures. Ornately careved shrines indicate the musica and dance were highly regarded by the Hoysalas and used to express religious fervor. The temples of Belur are carved out of soap stone.
Hoysala dynasty is believed to be named after the words ‘hoy Sala’ meaning ‘Strike Sala’, which were called out to Sala, the legendary head of this dynasty. When he was combating a tiger single handedly. Sala killed the tiger and this act of bravery was immortalised in the royal emblem of the dynasty. The Hoysalas ruled the Deccan and parts of Tamil Nadu between the 11th and 13th centuries. They had their origins in the hill tribes of the Western Ghats converted to Jainism in 10th century.
How To Reach:
By Rail: Hassan around 37 kms. And then take a local bus.
By Bus : It’s easy to take a bus to Hassan from Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore. From there take a local bus.
Chenna Keshava Temple:
The magnificent shrine dedicated to Lord Vijayanarayana, one of the twenty four incarnations of Vishnu was built to commemorate the Victory of Hoysalas over Cholas in the great battle of Talakkad. Some believe that it was constructed when Vishnyvardhana adopted Vaishnavism under the influence of the great guru Sri Ramanujacharya.
The construction of the temple commenced in 1116 A.D. at the instance of King Vishnuvardhana, his son and later on his grandson actually completed the construction of the temple. As per historical records, around 103 years to complete this beautifully sculpted temple complex. It is definitely the masterpiece in Hoysala Architecture.
This is another important shrine in the temple complex, it is towards the south west of Keshava temple and is adorned with an elegant Viman a, said to be resembling the vimana atop the Keshava temple, which was dismantled in 1879
Godess Andal Shrine
The sacred shrine in the temple complex is associated with poet saint Alwar. Its outer walls are also decoreated with rows of large image. Other smaller shrines in the complex are of Ramanujacharya, Krishna, Narsimha, Anjaneya, Ramchandra.
This unique 42 feet high pillar carved out of a single rock and stands on its own weight. The paved compound of the temple complex has a pavilion near the bathing tank. Sculptures of Vishnuvardhan and Krishnaraja Wodeyar can be seen here. Other statues of note are Garudagambha and Garuda, the celestial vehicle of Lord Vishnu.
Halebid, the ancient acpital of Hoysala’s was founded in the early 11th century and was known as Dwarasamudra, after a huge artificial lake of the same name, dating back to the 19th century. The flourishing capital city had a small fortress with a magnificent palace. It was fortified with the lake of Enormous boulders and a moat that was connected with the lake. Halebid attained glorious height during the reign of Ballala – II. the grandson of Vishnuvardhan. The Hoysala Empire extended from river Kaveri in the west to Krishna in the east and was enriched by the fertile deltas of the rivers. It’s prosperity attracted the forces of Delhi Sultanate, who invaded and annexed the town in 1311. Malik Kafur, is said to have taken away camel-loads of jewellery, gold and silver from here. In 1326, it was again attacked by Mohammad bin Tughlak.
After repeated attacks and the killing of king Ballala II, in the battle against the Sultan of Madura in 1342, the Hoysala were forced to relinquish their beautiful capital. The town was then nostalgically referred to as ‘Halebeid’ or old capital. It was never reoccupied again and the Hoysalas shifted capital to Belur. The Hoysala built over 150 exquisite temples in southern Karnataka, but the temples here are considered to be the most outstanding. The most important temple is Hoysalesvara and Kedareshvara, which are considered to be masterpieces of traditional Indian art forms. The figure carving at these temples are larger than any other temples nearby.
“Brrrrr…” Freezing cold weather in Darjeeling in November. The Sun setting down as early as 5 PM in the evening. Rising across the Kanchenjunga peak and it’s horizon early in the morning, as early as 5 AM on the North Eastern Himalayan terrains! Yes, that was the time when Darjeeling was to be visited… And thankfully I was there at that very moment. I went there to trek the Sandakphu-Gurdum ranges and hopefully climb the mountains at the highest point of Sandakphu to see the Kanchenjunga & Mt. Everest up close and personal. Before we started our trek, we had a couple of days where we could acclimatize ourselves to the conditions and get to know Darjeeling a little more…
I took that opportunity to tour the city in search of interesting people, stories and certainly take some really great shots of the local culture around. As soon as I entered Darjeeling, everything about it fascinated me. Looking at the small town like manifestation of the entire location felt very close to home and gave a significant amount of warmth in itself. Everywhere I looked around I could visualize the beauty of the North East India that started here. I was told that girls and women in Darjeeling are truly beautiful, but this was the first time I got to see it and indeed, “Seeing is believing.” Besides their beauty and aura, every girl and even guys had a strong, bold empowering style to themselves. They definitely knew what fashion was and could teach a thing or two to Bombayites like me.
Having said that, another aspect of Darjeeling I really admired the most, was that one could, at any point in time always keep an eye on the Kanchenjunga peak. It’s magnificence bore a stark resemblance to divine feeling of spiritual transcendence. And why not, Kanchenjunga is also called as the Sleeping Buddha, for it resembles HIM sleeping and his features show across. Look carefully and you will see the head, prosperous tummy & feet.
So the first day we whiled around the town, checked out the local places, shopped for some warm clothes, hung out at a local pub ‘Joey’s’ mostly I was with Mr. Shashi Patel, an American Indian from the Bay Area whom I met while strolling around the railway station at Sunset. So after hanging out with him and talking about travel and my experiences across India, we headed back to our respective hotels. Our plan the next day was to catch the view of the sunrise early in the morning at Tiger Hills.
While returning back we decided to stop by at this local place and check out some interesting items that we could purchase. He wanted to take some gifts back home. Something easy to carry and not too much on his pocket as he wanted lots of gifts for all his friends.
We began strolling across and started to scan the place for interesting items. There were caps, clothes, strolls, scarves, glares, Darjeeling special Tea and a lot of other interesting items. But what really caught my eye was this old woman, who was pretty occupied within herself. She looked very busy and had a certain aura about herself. She was very bold and mostly her voice was very prominent. Certainly caught my eyes and ears. But that is not what made me go check out what she was selling… I looked at her, she was around 60-65 years old, had sharp features… Her eyes were certainly a lot bigger than others around. She not only spoke in Hindi but also had a sharp way of speaking in English as well. More importantly, she was out there as if she meant business.
We looked at what she was selling and did find it pretty interesting. They were small purses, caps, scarves and strolls… All of them handwoven with a special pattern that they had about themselves. They were excellent pieces of handicraft. Certainly intrigued me and I wanted to buy a few purses for some of my friends and my mom.
So, I decided to take a look at the items on sale and thought of which ones to pick. Mr. Patel also was interested and we told ourselves, let’s buy 10 of these purses together. She will give us a good deal if we take in bulk.
I asked her “How much does this purse cost?”
“Rs. 30,” she replied, while hastily giving money to her previous customers and sorting out her own sets of the products that were bit off the carpet she kept them on.
“We’ll take 10… How much will they cost then?”
“They’ll cost as much as they cost now…”
“But I’m buying in bulk…”
“That doesn’t matter, the cost doesn’t change…” she replied calmly…
We both looked at each other and smiled. Looks like she needed some more incentive probably for us to get a better deal. So my newly found friend picked up some other products and asked for their price… Surprisingly they also were priced at Rs. 30. Except a couple of the items all of them were priced at that amount.
We asked her again, but she wouldn’t budge.
“I won’t change the price for you, If you want to buy you can buy… It’ll sell anyways, if not today, tomorrow. I’ve been making these purses on my own for 30 years… and never have I gone without selling all off every year. Besides, we don’t work off season cause of the cold.” She smiled at us mischievously.
While we realized, our deal won’t happen, we both admired her headstrong, entrepreneurial sense of ownership. She was a true businesswoman of sorts and I can’t think but admire her perseverance that at the age of 61, which we found out later in our conversation, she had this energy and level headed and amazing attitude about herself. We got to know that she migrated from Tibet in 1972 and has been making and selling these works of art. She is alone and lives in the city below. Every morning she wakes up at 4 AM, finishes her chores and sets off to come here, by walk with her backpack of items to sell. Once people who come down after viewing the sunrise to shop at her place and more often than not, her inventory gets exhausted by 9.30 AM. If not, she takes the remaining ones back home and then goes to a tea shop that she runs outside her house…
Reminded me of ‘The Steve Jobs’, I was reading that book on the trip, but clearly I could identify her sense of feel and value for quality and niche business value add. Don’t go by the price, but her stubborn yet confident decision to not back out of the price for a product that was of true quality. Something that many wouldn’t hesitate to pay ten or fifteen times the amount if it was a designer product, much like this one and in fact made out of the same material, only added with an elitist price tag… Salute to the Tibetian Tigress! For the beautiful work of art, Thuk Ji Chhe (Thank You in Tibet)
What do you think about her attitude?
While I was in Leh & Ladakh, one of the most awaited spectacles of the year had already begun, in London… Yes the 2012, London Olympics… Besides my plan being already fixed, UK wasn’t certainly on my list this year. U.S was, but that unfortunately didn’t work out. Nonetheless, if I had an opportunity, I certainly would have tried to make it to the Big Ben! Personally I’m a big fan of watching a lot of the track and field events and of course, shot-put, since I was a shot-put thrower myself when I was in school! So it would have been one of the best things to do, to pack my bag and head off to London. That’s certainly on my list of things to do!
After all London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom is also the largest city in Europe. An epicenter of finance, fashion, culture and politics, London has the most concentrated number of major attractions in the UK (two hundred of which are free) and is the home to four World Heritage Sites. If you’d like to see the entire city in one go, why not make a visit to the British Airways London Eye. Here you will be swept over by breathtaking 360 degree views of the city from over 130 meters in the air above the south bank of the River Thames. See the Crown Jewels guarded by Beefeaters in the 900 year old Tower of London. Marvel at the age and grandeur of St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, The Palace of Westminster, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. If you’re lucky, find yourself waving to a member of the Royal family when visiting Buckingham Palace. Tower Bridge is another famous landmark featuring magnificent decorative high towers and drawbridge, a must see feature of London. If it had a centre then Trafalgar Square would be it, adorned with the well recognized lions, Nelson’s column and once home to thousands of pigeons!
Travelling to UK at this time would certainly be a big ordeal, considering the expensive flights, in case you have decided to travel. Tried to check out some other sites, than the ones I book on regularly. Found an interesting website, specifically offering flight tickets abroad.
So if you compare cheap flights to UK from Jetabroad, there are some options out here on this site that you canOne of the things I did realize was that Jetabroad can fly you to London at a much cheaper price than any other travel agent and they have the most complete range of international flight options online and can have you in London significantly cheaper than you expected. Here are a few reasons that would be much more significant as to why one could book from this site.
Why book with Jetabroad?
Flights Prices from Mumbai-London
They also offer hotel partners that you may explore, so overall a certainly interesting site for your offering.
This was a few months back when we were trekking in the North Eastern Himalayas… The Sandakphu trek to be precise. Every once in a while you meet spirits that give you such great vision of your own life that you can’t even imagine what heights you can reach.
Buddhist Philosopher, educator & peace builder Daisaku Ikeda once said
“The human spirit is as expansive as the cosmos. This is why it is so tragic to belittle yourself or to question your worth. No matter what happens, continue to push back the boundaries of your inner life. The confidence to prevail over any problem, the strength to overcome adversity and unbound hope – all reside within you.”
This story is a true depiction of how this really applies. A lot of times we are so overwhelmed by the many tasks which we give utmost importance to, we tend to forget the real reason we are here on this planet. Many times we focus on the tasks which have no underlying purpose or very little importance, that we forget what we can do if we stop thinking in boundaries or shed the limits. This story tells us how we as adults have stopped imagining behind certain boundaries and stopped pushing the envelope when it comes to achieving something.
While trekking the Himalayas, we came across a small monastery in the Nepal side on the Indo-Nepal border. Jaobari village to be precise. We decided to visit the monastery and spend some time while catching our breath. We met the monk who lived there, Shange Norbu. Shange is another word for Buddha, he proudly told us. He gave us information about the monastery. He also told us that he teaches the kids there. We could see some kids playing outside eating some porridge in a small bowl. When we went inside, what was most striking was the utter peace and serenity which made the monastery quite blissful. Besides the striking calm, we realized that it was much warmer inside than it was outside. So that was quite a relief as we knew we had to trek a lot more and climb about 10 kms with a steep ascent.
While the others were resting, I decided to take a stroll around and click some pictures around. After getting a few shots of the breath-taking view I headed a little further, I met this kid. The kid was very playful and he was enjoying himself and doing just nothing. Generally this is probably the last point where civilization ends and the terrains start. A few houses here and there, otherwise the whole plateau after this is just mountain ranges. So most tourists who have come, would stop going further at this point while the trekkers move on to climb the magnificent Himalayas.
With a really nice winter cap covering his ears and a denim jacket to keep him warm, he looked very comfortable and was in his own world. His smile was innocent and his brown eyes were like deep ocean. He had a stick with him, which he held on to very closely. I took a few pictures of his and tried to initate conversation. But communication in a common language was a mystery to the both of us. We resorted to our body language and yes, eye contact… He smiled at me, I smiled back… Then he put his hands to his head.. A gesture to tell me something. Probably, to show me that he had great imagination. Imagination that made his mind greater than the regular one. To me it looked pretty much like the thing Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory does when he stares at you and tries to get your brain to explode… But obviously this gesture had a different meaning altogether.
Nonetheless, after a few exchange of glances and communication through our eyes, he said something… something which I didn’t understand but I asked Shange to translate, who was standing nearby. He laughed when he heard what the kid said. That made me even more curious as to what was this kid saying. I asked him to translate it to me and this is what he said.
“If you go on top, the tiger will come and kill you… But don’t worry, I’ll help you and fight him off with this stick.”
I’m not kidding, that’s exactly what he said, according to the monk. Hence the laugh. But I was blown away, blown away by the astronomical level of thinking and ultimate confidence within himself. Now, I’m pretty sure, he was told stories of great white tigers in the Singalila National Park stretch of Sandakphu. One that ‘we’ know do not exist, stories of great ‘dragon warriors’, which we think are myths and kings who have slayed tigers with their bare hands. Considering that, using a stick to kill a tiger is definitely something which is easy for him, now isn’t it?? Something he believes in and in his world, that’s how the ending of this story is. Him emerging victorious and a saviour to my life. The great hero of Jaobari as I’d like to call him. Come to think of it, it could be achieved scientifically if you hit the right spots, but that’s a different point altogether.
Do you remember as kids we had so many dreams and for us boundaries meant nothing. Do you remember as kids we wanted to go to space as astronauts, we wanted to become actors, we wanted to become cricketers and a lot more… What happened to those dreams? All that was possible and for some it became a reality. For a those who couldn’t get there, well, it’s never too late…
We have to stop putting boundaries to our thoughts, limitations, and stop compromising by just saying, life is a compromise. Actually when I recollect this story, I truly feel it isn’t… As Daisaku Ikeda says, The confidence to prevail over any problem, the strength to overcome adversity and unbound hope – all reside within you. How many of you have realized this?
Karnataka and it’s beauty… always is amazing. I love every bit of it. This was another huge sculpture / statue that I had in mind and wanted to visit this for a long time… From Bangalore, I took a bus to Hassan. There are direct buses to Charannayapatna from Majestic bus stop in Bangalore, but very few and the one at 8:00 AM had already left. From Charannayapatna, there are local buses which take 15 bucks to Shravanbelagola. Nonetheless, I decided to go to Hassan. It takes about 4 hours to reach Hassan and from there you get a lot of buses to Charannayapatna, Haleibedu, & Belur as well.
Once I reached Shravanbelagola, I decided to check in to a local restaurant at the foothills of the Gomateshwara statue… Really dirt cheap room for Rs. 200 bucks a night. Awesome!!! I had enough time to climb the top of the hill and hang out till sunset to experience the beauty of Shravanbelagola & Gomateshwara!
Then began my exploration of Sravanabelegola & the beautiful statues and here’s what it had to say:
Shravanbelagola is a well known place of pilgrimage which gets tourists from all the world. People from allover the country visit this place. The world famous image of Gommateshwara is here. ZVery ancient and beautiful Jaina temples are here. This is a sacred place especially for Jains. Also very famoys is the occasion of ”Mahamastakabhisheka” (great head ablution ceremony), it’s every twelve years.
The first thing which meets our eyes as we enter Shravanbelagola is a big lake. Beautiful steps have been constructed around it. A fort and also “Kala Mantapas” surround it. This lake is called ‘Sveta Sarovara’ or white lake. It’s Kannada equivalent is ‘Biliya Kola’ or Belagola’. the place connected with Shravana or Jain ascetics. Hence the name Shravana – Belagola.
We see the beautiful and artistic statue of Sri Gommateshwara Swamy on the summit of Indragiri. Gommateshwara is also called Bahubali.
According to Jainism theology, there was a period in the world when happiness and peace reign supreme. Truth and dharma flourished during that period. It was called Utsarpini. There was another time when justice, truth and goodness decline everywhere. This period is termed Avasarpini. During this time of deterioration, twenty four Thirthankaras (realized souls) incarnate this world and guide people in the right path, by teaching them canons of truth and dharma.
Among the twenty four Thirthankaras, the first one is Purudeva. He is also known as Vrishabhadeva or Adinatha. Vrishabhadeva had two wives. The elder queen was Yashaswathi who gave birth to Bharatha and other hundered suns and a daughter by name Bramha. The younger queen
Sunanda gave birth to a son by name Bahubali and a daughter by name Saundari.
Vrishabha ruled over his Kingdom with pomp and pleasures for many years. After a while he renounced the world. While he did so, he made his elder son Bharata the King. Bahubali was crowned as the Yuvaraja (Heir apparent). Bharata conquered the whole world and in his conquest of the world he also waged war against his brother as he was told by the priests that there were enemies within the city and they were not submissive to Bharata. They were none other than his brothers. All of his brothers were disgusted by Bharatha, and renounced their kingdom to join their father, except Bahubali. He came to fight Bharatha.
Battke was about to take place between the armies of Bharatha and Bahubali. At that moment the ministers fearing that both armies would suffer heavy losses in the battle suggested that only the two Bharatha and Bahubali – might fight other. The winner would be the emperor.
The last battle was to be fought by hitting heads with fists. Bharat had the first shot, because he was older than Bahubali, which knocked Bahubali nearly to the ground. Then, it was Bahubali’s turn. Bahubali’s name means ‘Bahu’ – Arm, and ‘Bali’ – Strength, he was known for the immense strength of his arm. Everybody knew and worried, that if Bahubali’s blows struck Bharat, Bharat would probably die. This contest could have been easily won by Bahubali striking Bharat. But as Bahubali raised his arm to land a blow, he paused, realizing that fighting his elder brother for land, wealth, and power was neither sane nor righteous. Indeed, it would have been a grievous moral failure for a son of a Tirthankara.
As a rule for a Kshatriya, once he has taken action, it is not possible for him to withdraw or retreat. So, instead of landing a blow on his older brother with his raised arm, he simply changed direction, pulling out his own hair with the same hand, thus avoiding striking Bharat. With this, he put aside all of his possessions, and became a solitary renunciant. Learning from this example, Bharat came to understand the folly of his greed for land, money, and power forgiving his younger brother. Bharat continued to ruled for some time, until eventually joining Lord Rishabdev as a solitary renunciant.
The fight with his brother troubled Bahubali, so after much contemplation, he decided to give up his kingdom and take up the ascetic life. He took to meditation with a thirst for truth, but – it was for ego that he took to meditation on his own.
So before you entere the place there is an amazing architectural fascination called Tyagada Khamba…
Tyaga Kamba at the entrance of Gomateshwara. Erected by the minister Chavundarya in the 10th century. Its believed that this is the place he distributed gifts to the needy. Some theories also believe he choose this place to renounce all material things including his life. It’s a pillar that seemingly is hanging from the center. A handkerchief can easily be passed from one side to the other under this hanging pillar. This spot was being used by the people for giving away things as gifts. Hence it’s called by the name Pillar of Sacrifice or Tyagadha Khamba. (Tyaga – Sacrifice)
Overall this is a place where you will feel totally amazed, amazed by the serenity and peace that it has to offer. The magnificence and silence at which the Bahubali statue stands… You’ll feel really amazed by the amazing carved black stone statues of 24th Thirthankaras inside. After visiting the temple I decided to explore the cliff at the back of the temple… The sun was about to set and what better place than to sit at the edge of the cliff and ponder into the horizon, reflect upon life thoughts and beauty of everything around me… Just don’t need anything else in the world… than this beautiful memory.
So I leave you guys with this amazing snap of the entire town that could be seen. A view from the edge of the cliff… The view of the city and the sound of the town in the backdrop. Cattle making noise, birds chirping, kids playing, autos. Still very Peaceful… Serenity at it’s best…