LET THE BEAUTY OF VALLEY BE SPOTLESS

Ever since I visited this land, it feels that whatever has been written or described about this land is not sufficient to justify the cosmic beauty of Valley of Kashmir. War over the geographical boundaries could not destroy the blessed beauty of nature. Moving through the valley seems like moving through the path which is covered by snow laden mountains all around the corners. View of Himalayan mountains and the constant companionship of river Jhelum would never leave anyone alone. Sometimes humming and sometimes roaring, but the presence of Jhelum would always be there. Leaves of Chinar are as fascinating to watch as it always feels while reading about them in the books.  For me, it is like unfolding the pages from my books. I wish I could have also seen the apples in the apple valley, white flowers have covered the entire orchards. It is so exciting to imagine the presence of apples in those orchards, just in a few months. And there is not one or two orchards, but there is valley called apple valley while going to Pahalgam. While driving through the valley, I feel that those perfect paintings and photographs in the books and websites are part of my vision too.

Tulips, I have seen them alive for the first time in my life and I fall in love with them. Massive collection of Tulips in almost every color I can imagine it to be, are there. There are rows after rows dedicated to different colors of Tulips. Forget the colors, there are also contrast in the color combinations of these flowers. When you follow the end of these tulip’s rows, your eyes would meet the clouds almost dropping down from the mountains. When you follow these clouds, you would meet the snow-covered zenith of Himalayan ranges. That’s like a never-ending process, seems like treasure to the eyes and peace to the mind. But above all, solace to the soul comes from the warm approach and hospitality of the local people. In a true sense, they treat their guests as their God, as per our own tradition. They are delighted to receive you as their guests. I stayed with a local family for few days I spent in Kashmir and I would never forget the honor and happiness which they expressed by making me as a part of them for those days. Geographical boundaries have not succeeded to create any marking or boundary in the thoughts of normal people who want to be the part of normal lives.

History and future, both the aspects of this valley are soulful. War over geographical boundaries have injured the lives of normal people. Kashmir is said to be heaven on Earth and off course the natural blessings to this land is divine which is even difficult to document. But the common civilians who want to be the part of common lives shall never be judged and given the opportunity to be the part of them. It is dreadful to live in an environment that is constantly under the rage of fire. Paradise on the Earth cannot be remained as paradise until or unless the population of beautiful human beings living under the roof of Himalayas start living like any other human being in different part of the same country. Then I guess that this saying would be true in real sense “People call it heaven; we call it home “IMG_20170423_161109-1IMG_20170423_144515IMG_20170423_121818IMG_1216IMG_20170422_125334_HDRIMG_20170423_132841IMG_20170422_142727IMG_20170423_142942IMG_20170422_104757IMG_20170422_182439IMG_20170422_121300_HDRIMG_20170422_120240_HDRIMG_20170422_120240_HDRIMG_1219

Bhutan – Journey towards Peace and Happiness

Every land has its own tale. It has its own aroma and freshness. Bhutan is one such land that has the taste of happiness and peace along with serene calmness of nature. And certainly this is the attraction of this beautiful Country which can’t be left unnoticed.  Another attraction is the peculiar culture and tradition of the country that can be felt in almost everything; be it the chanting of the lamas in the monasteries, prayer flags all over the land, traditional clothing of men and women or even the exclusive architecture of the country.

The Journey started with Phuntsholing and marked across Paro, Thimpu, Punakha and Wangadu.  And every land has its own distinguish identity; Phuntsholing and Paro are subtle towns reflecting the preserved heritage; be it in terms of culture of the city or the architecture . Whereas, Thimpu being the capital city has the bit of modernity thrown in but still holding the essence of original Bhutanese identity. Punakha holds the peace and serene feeling of a Hill – Station. But no matter where ever the feet move, journey is always accompanied by the beauty of the pink flowers of cherry trees, positive vibes of the prayer flags, recitation of mantras with the rotation of prayer wheel and off courses the beautiful traditional cottages over vast stretches of hilly land. The pleasing beauty gets further amplified with the flow of rivers along the hills.

Tale of Bhutan is untold and inexperienced in absence of Trek to Tiger’s Nest.  Dedicated to the devotion and belief of the country to its King Rinpoche, Tiger’s Nest is a Monastery situated at a height of about 3000 ft. above the Paro Valley.  Legends are associated with the monastery that  King Rinpoche destroyed the devil and negativity and protected the country from evil at this holy place. So, local people always trek to this prominent Himalayan monastery in their traditional clothing Gho (Men) and Kira (Women) in order to pay respect to the sacred land.  Although it’s high up in the mountains, but one can never get over with the prayer flags and so its blessings.

Among several memories, the royalty of the kingdom can be experienced at the Palace visit and the amazing Flag down ceremony. It’s always special to feel the patriotic touch; no matter you are in a different country.

Celebration of Tsechu festival with the performance of Cham dance is also something which should be seen in order to make the image of Bhutanese culture memorable .  Costumed and masked dances depicting the legendary tale associated with Guru Padmasambhava are definitely to be captured to understand the glory of Bhutanese culture.

There are several places with their own significance either the gigantic Buddha Dordenma in the mountains of Thimpu or Chime Lhakhang at Punakha district known for its founder  Lama Kunley “ Divine Madman” and his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism and outrageous behavior.   But the reflection of cultural heritage of the country is quite evident in almost everything. And it is very pleasing to the eyes and good to find that the land is still holding its distinguished identity and grooming it constantly.

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108 Stupas (chortens) at Dochula Pass
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The Paro Tsechu Festival

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Border of Bhutan and India at Phuntsholing
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Stupas – Symbol of Divinity and Prayer
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Prayer Flags

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Chhuzom -Bhutanese, Tibetan and Nepali stupas at the confluence of Paro Chhu and Wong Chhu rivers
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Royal palace under the preparation of Flag Down ceremony
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Cherry Blossom
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The sacred Tiger’s Nest
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Blessings of  Prayer flags
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Prayer Wheel
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Buddha Dordenma at Thimpu

 

Rejuvenation : Few days along the serene coastline…

The less explored beaches of Konkan, Maharastra , beautiful greenery over vast stretches of land and magnificent forts; everything for an Art and peace loving soul.
One might have seen many beaches but the real beauty of these beaches lie in the transparency of water and serenity of the air around them. View of sunset on the edge of beach is one of the most blissful moment for any person and off course to me. Its a complete masterpiece , the way nature transforms its beauty around us during sunset. One can feel the breath in these less crowded and unexploited piece of land.
Beaches offer soulful experience and the remains of magnificent forts of Konkan instill pride and honor in our history. I was really fascinated by the brilliance , energy , dedication and hard work invested to build these giant structures. Although only remains are left , majority of them are damaged but still the history behind these can’t be remain untold. Every structure that has been designed is done with a motive and purpose . And its truly amazing to learn those facts which are taken care while creating these masterpieces of architecture. Most of them belong to the era of Pre-independence so one can’t be left untouched with the tale of the Warriors. And really, that’s when one feels the heroic as well as tragic history behind the freedom of this country.
The more one enters into the depth of these regions , the more traditional and beautiful it turn. Old fashioned homes with mud flooring are rare site in cities these days. Moreover the innocent and pleasant behavior of villagers adds to its beauty and peaceful environment.  But the journey will remain incomplete until or unless one doesn’t tastes the rich and mouthwatering Malvani food. It has its own peculiar aroma and taste derived from coastal influence.
My 6 day visit to Konkan left me with these blissful experiences and memories and its completely worth to take break from the hustle and bustle of cities and spend few days along the coastline.

FEW DAYS IN THE LAP OF HIMALAYAS…

Nothing is as mesmerizing and majestic as the long and vast stretches of Himalayas…One week under the vast and open roof of mountains, without any protection and safety of walls, doors and locks. Its soothing  when we really feel every breathe, far away from the noise of metro life. “Good Morning” feels worth when eyes are opened to engulf the maximum possible beauty of our mother nature.
Every sleepless  night spent under the snow clad mountains and every tiresome feet towards those heights seems meaningless when the height is conquered and at the summit its only you , who is the conqueror and has the chance to helplessly fall in love with the mountains.

 

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A Beautiful Morning…

 

3rd september, tuesday: For 2 years I have been living in Bombay (sorry it’s Mumbai!) yet have never realised that how steadily I have developed an affection towards the city. Life is a hell lot hectic here but still mumbaikars never miss the chance to celebrate any festival irrespective of the religion, caste or culture. Personally, I enjoy the zest with which they celebrate the festivals, whether it’s navratri with dandia night, onam with celebration of exotic south Indian food, Janmashtami with dahi handi (Krishna leela), Christmas, or their very own Ganesh Chaturthi.

This year I have been finally privileged to receive the blessing of Mumbaicha Raja. Although entire Maharashtra is covered with the aura of bappa morya ( Lord Ganesha), Lalbaghcha Raja has its own air. For last two years I had been thinking to push myself in the long queue to feel the celebration that is so vast , so grand and at the same time very pious.

Finally this year on 6 th day of the celebration I started for Mumbaicha Raja ( Mumbai’s king) at 4 a.m from my place accompanied with my office colleagues; and really that 70 minutes drive to Lalbaugh was fun. Although all of us were half asleep but office gossips never get over. With all the chit chat we finally reached the door for the darshan. I must tell you, though it was a working day but the crowd over there!! Everyone was prepared to pull themselves straight to their cubicles after the Bappa Darshan. Meanwhile the unpredictable Mumbai’s rain started.  That slight rainfall anyhow was a blessing at that time. As we expected the queue was not that long, given our timing. Usually it happens to be 5 – 8 hrs drive, sometimes even 2 – 3 days long.

In the slight rainfall ” Ganpati bappa morya , Mangal Murti Morya!” was echoing. Every eye in the crowd was straight to the last spot on the path searching for a glimpse of Bappa; And yes! I finally managed to have a glimpse. That feeling is a bliss really. Everyone took out the cameras to record at least one image of Bappa this year.

God is there or not; it’s all upon faith. I felt serenity in the air, calmness in my mind when I had an eye to eye contact with the huge elephant god. I was so timid in front of him…Although  I can’t say that those two seconds of interaction were enough; but yes they were enough to the mark the rest of my year with his blessings. In minutes we evacuated the place, as we were followed by thousands of people behind us by then. But I was happy… as if I have achieved some target, and certainly it was no less than a target to have the Bappa Darshan in less than an hour during Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai.

Filled with energy we moved towards our pavilion. Office , of course is not fascinating, but in spite of getting at 3.00 a.m in the morning, I was wide awake throughout the day and filled with energy and enthusiasm.

He left the city after 10 days but I am sure next year when he will return I will again carve for those calm and serene eyes of lord.