Tag Archives: Shiva

Meandering across the horizon in search of spirituality

Over 5000 years the quest to spirituality has been a constant rouse for explorers across the world when they happened to arrive to India! That has always been a very important phenomenon of the Indian culture.

Despite that more recently, there has been a troubling side of it, being the repressive rules, the hypocritical approach of many folks irrespective of gender. The lack of awareness to global etiquette while interacting with travelers across the world has been a huge challenge, even so to provoke those tourism ads to educate Indians. While India always has brought a spiritual quest to many travelers and explorers there always are political considerations and factors in play in. Those that aspire towards a more fundamental leaning towards agendas that are meant to control chaos and simply construed as against ‘our Indian culture.’ This is simply a fact that many fail to address or simply choose to ignore!

But as a traveler, a travel blogger and most importantly an Indian, I’d like to say, that no matter what you do there are always two sides to this coin! And the change that is happening, is largely driven by an undercurrent of changing global economy, as well as cultural shift in the paradigm of the world. In light of that, there are some interesting aspects of India, that I’ve found amusing as always, as a traveler. While I’d relate to the thought and reasoning behind these small things, it’s ironic that while you go out there in the world probably imposing endless restrictions upon citizens. Restrictions on matters that are as trivial as what we should eat, what we should watch or many such things. There is a plethora of two faced approach where, in the name of religion anything goes.

Spirituality for us is not significant in the blindness that conquers the rationale of our country, but opens our eyes towards progression and a far larger understanding of what we should be as human beings. As always, religion world over has been an instrument used by people in their quest to power conveniently cite, unless they find value in people who are willing to apostatize their beliefs for their convenience.

To me, travel has certainly broadened my horizon to a greater extent. Travel has given me a perspective that is far wider and different. Especially if you were to compare it to a reason of meaning and belief that exists in your heart. Having said that, there has been the element of tolerance and contempt that conflict my thoughts every time I put on my backpack when I traverse the country.

Every different situation in different regions of the country either inspire me or bring me to a new low that I have probably never imagined. On most trips, I’m either enlightened or completely thrown back into stone age. But no matter what I do, where I go, there is one strong belief that I have which enriches everything about my travel experience. It’s the meandering quest towards a sense of calm and invigorating tryst towards experiencing spirituality despite not knowing the inclination towards it’s religious associations. There are no boundaries when it comes to spirituality especially when you are traversing not just across locations but beliefs that hold true to achieving a greater high, which is far more important than trivial matters of existence.

Travel reaches out to your spiritual roots to find art, imagination, a sense of purpose within history, heritage,nature, food, people,  and magical souls that gives you that wider horizon of reality that exists out there in the world. Here are a few pictures that have captured my imagination leaning towards a spiritual belief of a simple admonishing fact that everything aside, Travel is that dose of medicine, that spiritual reality of my existence, that purpose of my life in this world that is constantly exclaiming to crave for more of such experiences across the beautiful country of ours! It is that singular belief, which, when, all said and done reaffirms and assures me that there is still hope…

Freedom of Life through the roamers of nature

A herd of horses taking a stroll at their whim at Rohtang Pass

Himalayas, Ladakh, Mountains, Snow

The Magical Mountains of the Himalayas

 

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The Golden Buddha viewing the Mountains

Statue of the Future Buddha

Statue of the Future Buddha

Queen of the HImalayas - Blue Poppy

Queen of the HImalayas – Blue Poppy

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

A 61 year old Tibetian refugee manufacturing & selling handicraft since 1972.

A 61 year old Tibetian refugee manufacturing & selling handicraft since 1972.

Shing Theng - A saleswomans kid outside the monastery

Shing Theng – A saleswomans kid outside the monastery

Lamani Woman with her kid near the Lakshmi Temple

Lamani Woman with her kid near the Lakshmi Temple

Idranna a local kid at the Lakshmi Temple

Idranna a local kid at the Lakshmi Temple

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A Tiger Paw on our trip to Pench

A Tiger Paw on our trip to Pench

Thai Monastery in Bodh Gaya

Thai Monastery in Bodh Gaya

The Bodhi Tree

The Bodhi Tree

Kerala Backwaters

Kerala Backwaters

Fort Kochi - Chinese Fishing Nets

Fort Kochi – Chinese Fishing Nets

Sunset by the Bridge

Sunset by the Bridge

Sunrise Enroute Trichy

Sunrise Enroute Trichy

Sunrise at Kanyakumari

Sunrise at Kanyakumari

Kanchenjunga Peak

Kanchenjunga Peak

India Gate

India Gate

Hut @ Pondicherry Beach

Hut @ Pondicherry Beach

Himalayas

Walk across the silent trails towards Vasudhara Waterfalls in Himalayas

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Rajasthan: Land of the Kings

A view of the Mahuli Fort in the rains

A view of the Mahuli Fort in the rains

This one's playing around inside... :)

This little squirrel found playing around inside the Red Fort…

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

View of Hampi

View of Hampi

 

 

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Valley of Flowers – Yet another SriniOnTour…

Valley of Flowers - Backpacking Begins...
Valley of Flowers – Backpacking Begins…

So, I’m all set with my backpack  and with a lot of hopes from this trip. This journey has long been on my bucket list and I’ve been working quite hard to make it happen. Finally, this is part of my first ventures as a part time travel writer, and beginning my career into a whole new dimension. Yes, there are a lot of ifs and buts still, as far as my whole plan goes, but that’s the best part about it…

As far as this trip is concerned… I’m sure there isn’t any doubt, that this is going to be another #SriniOnTour that will rock. This time around, I may not be able to blog on the go, due to connectivity and rains, I’ve decided to  avoid carrying my laptop… besides my backpack is already about 10 kgs… which we would carry all the way up to the West Himalayas. So I’ve decided, I’d upload a lot of photos on twitter and facebook and showcase my journey as a live photo-blog.

http://facebook.com/srinistuff

http://twitpic.com/photos/srinistuff

Also joining me on this trip are a some of my close friends with whom i regularly go on trips/treks.. Swapnil, his wife, Mangesh and his friend…

From the twitterverse, my new found friends @irohan and @_vishalg would be part of this trip.

This journey is also inspired by my conversation time and again with Chris Collins – (http://nicolaskumar.com/) Author of (Valley of Flowers)  – Chris, thanks for all your advice and help… As soon as I’m back from this trip, the first thing on the agenda is to get the book and read it… That way, I’d be able to relate to everything in it much better. 🙂

So here’s the plan (Some details might be helpful for others who plan to travel here)

Leave for Haridwar via Dehradun Express tonight…

Reach on the 31st July, just in time for the Maha Aarti.. Which is a beautiful and a spectacular sight and something that we should not miss… Hari-Ki-Pauri as it’s popularly known…

Haridwar

Haridwar

1st August

A few more locations in Haridwar, mainly…

Maya Devi Mandir , located on upper road. This temple is one of the 51 “shakti peeths” and its the presiding deity of Haridwar. It is from this temple Haridwar derives its other name Mayapur.

Maya Devi Temple

Bharat Mata Mandir, 5 km north of the center. Dedicated to Mother India, this is half temple, half nation building exercise, with seven floors stacked with deities, saints, and secular heroes of all Indian faiths. Some signage in English.

Bharat Mata Mandir

Bharat Mata Mandir

Bilkeshwar Mahadev Mandir , Shiva temple located on a hill.

Depending on how much time we have on our hands, we’d plan to see these places.

2nd August

Rishikesh

We take an early morning train to Rishikesh. Hemkunt Express – Leaves Haridwar at 6.50 AM and reaches Rishikesh by 8.00 AM. That’s the only train available in the morning. Else we might have to take Vikrams/Rickshaws costs (Rs.60-70) max per rick.

I checked out info for white-water rafting and most places say the season is September-November and March-April-May ideal for rafting. But we can get to know once we are there….My friend Swapnil has also got a few contacts, who say they might be able to arrange for the rafting.

White Water Rafting

White Water Rafting

 

Let’s see how it goes. Besides River Rafting we can visit these places on the 2nd at Rishikesh…

 

Lakshman Jhula, Trayambakeshwar Temple, Lakshman Jhula. is 13 stories high, with different deities throughout.  edit

Lakshman Jhula

Lakshman Jhula

Triveni Ghat, This is a bathing ghat. Daily in the morning and evening there are thousands who take bath here and enjoy the Maha Aarti being performed. It very soothing to sit on the banks of the river and enjoy the cool breeze from the river.

3rd August onwards we report to YHAI Basecamp and follow their itinerary…

4th  August – We take a bus from Rishikesh – Joshimath

Enroute Joshimath

Enroute Joshimath

5th August –  Orientation walk / Visit to Auli and Tapovan

6th August – Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus…

Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus

Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus

6th August – Govindghat – Ghangaria Ghat (A trek of 13kms) This one’s going to be the real test as the place that we would trek would have rain, and there are some really slants that we have to overcome carrying at least 10kgs of backpack is certainly going to be a challenge. While we have trekked over 20-30 kms in a day, this 13km trek would be with full supply backpack and the altitude would be quite challenging, add to that the cold and rain… Should be fun at the same time.

Govindghat to Ghangaria Ghat

Govindghat to Ghangaria Ghat

7th August – Ghangaria Ghat to Valley of Flowers… Now this is the most beautiful place that we hope would really make the 13km trek the previous day, worth it’s while… It’s about 8kms to and fro. This should be easier as our backpack would be at the camp and the trek is much lighter. But the beauty of the park and the flowers in the valley… would really be amazing.. The photos will tell you for sure 🙂 Stay tuned… In the meantime you can also read my poem about the Valley of Flowers here

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

8th August – Ghangaria Ghat to Hemkund Saheb – This is another amazing place, a worshipping shrine for Sikhs, this place is divine and much more beautiful in terms of the scenic locations and I hope to get a glimpse of some glacier / Ice as well…

Hemkund Saheb

Hemkund Saheb

9th August – We trek back to Govindghat.. The 13km trek.. This should be easier as it’s downhill…

10th August – Govindghat to Badrinath is around 25 kms and this would be a bus journey. Some rest to our ailing legs 😛

Badrinath Temple

Badrinath Temple

11th August – Badrinath – Vasudhara falls around 16km trek to and fro. This is a beauty… In the cold and the rain, it’s quite a pretty sight I’ve heard.

Vasudhara Falls

Vasudhara Falls

12th August –  Badrinath to Rishikesh and check out after breakfast…

Post that, since it’s a long weekend and we have a couple of days on our hand we may just chill in Rishikesh and then head back to Delhi on 13th or 14th August, from where we catch a train and reach Mumbai by 15th August and celebrate Independence Day at home 🙂

All this ordeal would be quite an experience and certainly a journey worth sharing… For now, I’d be updating pictures at

http://facebook.com/srinistuff

http://twitpic.com/photos/srinistuff

 

So stay tuned and hope you enjoy the updates.

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God works in Mysterious ways… Kancheepuram tales

So, after the Marina beach was done with, I had decided to go to Kancheepuram! Then I saw a couple of tweets one from @BwahahaO_o and @Shradzberry that I must visit Mahabalipuram and it’s something that I should not miss.  So I had my lunch and I was almost set to head to Mahabalipuram. I asked around and they said, you can go to Mahabalipuram via Broadway or Koyembedu. These are the two hubs where you get buses to most places. I must say up until now, the transportation in Tamil Nadu has really impressed me. Incidentally, Tamil Nadu has the 3rd best commutes in the world. Wow!! So, anyways, I was all set to head to Mahabalipuram and probably do Kancheepuram later, maybe the next day.

 

So anyways, I get this call from @BwahahaO_o earlier @WhatdBeep earlier @Oyebehendetakke aka Shreyans Deora aka Skid and God alone knows how many more names he has :P. He says, he’ll try to arrange for a car and we both can go to Kancheepuram or Mahabalipuram… or both… So he speaks to his dad, his dad tried to hook us up with someone in the temple so that we don’t have to stand in a huge queue etc etc.. So after going back and forth about what we should do… and spending almost an hour of conversation with @BwahahaO_o and his dad over the phone, we finally decide to do Kancheepuram and leave Mahabalipuram for the next day…

Clicked by @BwahahaO_o

Ok, now, from 1:00 PM, it’s 2:oo PM, @BwahahaO_o says he’ll meet me at Chennai central in half an hour… I wait for him, looking around and wondering what to do, besides tweeting of course… I keep observing people on a warm Sunday. Chennai central is buzzing at this time. Auto drivers haggling people to come sit in their auto, and people nodding their head choosing to walk the other way.

 

So I’m waiting… It’s 2:30 PM, I call him up and he says, he’d be there in 5-10 minutes… time flies by and it’s 3:30 PM and still no sign of @BwahahaO_o I tweet out to him @BwahahaO_o:  Dude..WTH are you?? I wud have reached Mahabalipuram by now #SriniOnTour

 

After a long wait, I decide to head to Mahabalipuram myself… at least I could reacht there before sunset and get great pics… I take a bus to broadway which by the way costs just Rs. 2.  I don’t know anywhere else a ticket would cost that much.  So I’m on the bus, off to Broadway and then to Mahabalipuram… guess what @BwahahaO_o calls me up.

“Where are you dude?”

“Headed to broadway… You didn’t come, so I thought of going to Mahabalipuram”

“Oh, So what do we do?, I’ve been to Mahabalipuram many times.. don’t want to go there…”

So then we figure it out and decide to meet at Koyembedu… and after an hour of going back and forth… we finally meet. It’s almost 4:00 PM and the journey to Kancheepuram is about 1.5 hours… As we head off, @BwahahaO_o apologizes to me and says, Sorry man, it got so late… looks like we won’t get good pics of the sunset. I just tell him “Everything happens for a reason buddy…Wait and Watch”

 

Kancheepuram Arrived

 

So as soon as we arrive at Kancheepuram, the first thing I wanna do is to (EAT) I’m really hungry and that is the only thing that seemed most logical at that point, of course, visiting the temples was on the agenda… So anyways, for the first time I get to have Idiappayam Kuruma, very delicious vegetables and appayam made out of rice paste. Really delicious!

 

“Everything happens for a reason..” Well now we know why… It was a huge celebration and Sankalp in the temple… There were prayers, mantras and japas going on (recitals) We realize that the lord of the temple is being worshipped and he will be taken on a procession in a chariot… A golden chariot which is glaring in front of us, beautifully lit at night… I look around, ask if it’s okay to take photos of the chariot!!! I get a go ahead from a swamiji (priest)  nearby.

 

So, I’m all set to take some really nice pictures and… suddenly, the trumpets, the dhols and the tablas start blowing… There is a huge c crowd all of a sudden.. that starts flocking the chariot. Everyone starts taking pictures as the Kamakshi goddess has arrived… They get her statue outside and mount her on the chariot.. The procession has begun… I’m awed by the aura of the chariot and he beautiful colors they have on the goddess…

 

As I’m taking a few snaps with my Canon 1000D DSLR camera, I see the head preist waving to me… I first think that  he’s forbidding me to take pictures… then I see him smiling… and he’s calling me out. I got a little confused, maybe he wants to know something and then suddenly, it strikes me.. amongst everyone else who’s shooting with their mobile cameras, digicams, I’m the only one with a professional camera around. So he calls me up and asks me to take a few pictures of his guest besides the chariot and shoot a few pictures of the procession itself. He requests me to email it to him.. Yes email, I see the email ID as he hands me the card. (I say to myself, wonder if he’s on facebook… it would be easier for him to take those pictures then :P) Anyways, I tell him I will and I’m about to head to the queue to take darshan…when he asks me.

 

“Have you taken the Darshan?” (Have you visited the temple?)

“No, not yet sir, just going”

“How many of you are there?”

“Two”

“Come, I’ll arrange for someone to take you inside…”

“Everything happens for a reason…”

 

What do you think about the whole incident??

 

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