Bridges ——-A Different approach to experience

Bridge – an epitome of  connection, which in itself defines beauty. However, I never wondered about it philosophically , it never seemed to be more than a marvelous construction. Living in India , I have seen some of the stunning constructions among them . Worli Sea Link is one among those stunners.  It has always been a means of fast transportation , so I could admire the fantastic technology behind the construction of cable-stayed bridge connecting Western Suburbs to Mumbai’s main business center.    But you have to stay at a place for a while , to connect to the soul. And this connection I felt for “Henderson wave bridge” in Singapore . This could be attributed for several reasons. One and foremost reason is that I was already connected to this place because this is one of the favorite destinations of my best friend, secondly minutes of walk along the waves of the construction with cool breeze will make you surrender. Far from the bright lights of the city of Singapore lies the highest pedestrian bridge of the Country.  Very true to its name, the bride mimics the shape of waves and surrounded by lush green forests. There are  shell-like niches where pedestrians can sit and capture the beauty of the surroundings. Hours could be spent on this bridge enjoying the panoramic  view of the city. I believe it gives big solace to people who want to experience a different side of the  technology-ready nation. And then, rest all is to do is to stay at the place for a while to connect to it and wait for its magic that will calm you down…..……via Photo Challenge: Bridge

 

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

Connecting with History

History has its own beauty which is always vintage. No matter how rugged everything looks , but there is always a legendary feel attached to it. I think beauty lies in the stories hidden beneath these structures. Beauty of the historical places need to be decoded from the stories and the feelings attached to these stories.
I went to Amer Fort in Rajasthan , few days back. I think the feeling of royalty touched upon me , the moment I saw the staircases towards the Fort. And then, the huge and massive structures and the historical figures and stories attached to those structures , everything makes the place a historical treat. Amer Fort is recognized by the name of Raja Man Singh and his descendants . Even after centuries we retell the stories of the king , descendants, family and everything attached to him because everything is intricated in these structures, somewhere. Such places have the quality of taking us to that era and feel the essence of that genre.img_0064img_0068img_0069img_0086img_0096img_20161225_120026img_20161225_121135img_20161225_124205img_20161225_125528img_20161225_1323092img_20161225_132715img_20161225_132759img_20161225_132846img_20161225_132938img_20161225_133005

The irresistible calling of mountains ….

When the call of mountain arises, it become irresistible to ignore the calling. Sometimes I wonder that what else we achieve other than the serene beauty of nature, after conquering the peak with all the bruises and physical pain. And it comes straightforward that is the immense satisfaction of conquering our own challenges and fear. This journey itself teaches us lot many things, in a nutshell probably the journey of life where we walk, run, trip, arise, have fun and sometimes set apart from loved ones, but subconsciously we all are moving towards own goal in our own path. Certainly, this is the reason I enjoy hiking because somewhere it relaxes the nerves of brain to relate to new things which we casually ignore and never feel related to in our daily lives.

Recently I went to Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. Although I was excited to deal with the snow but unfortunately snowfall started the day I left the place. But there is something in the aroma of hills and mountains that ultimately soothes my nerves. And I guess it happens with everyone. This is some sort of meditation which is difficult to explain in words.

Nature has its various versions of beauty but I always have crush for its raw version of beauty which is found in watching the sunrise and sunset sitting on the edge of a cliff. And I am sure its worth all the attention and pain endured to reach this.img_20161229_171713391img_0149img_20161228_175319img_20161229_111558img_20161229_150120

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

 

INTERACTION WITH MYTHOLOGY AND ARCHAEOLOGY…..

Elephanta caves had been introduced in my wish list since the day I gathered a bit of it in my school course books.There had always been an itch to know more about it. Basically, the name itself is more captivating and being a kid the childish imaginations were more adventurous. Years passed but it was still in my imaginations. But when I finally shifted to Mumbai I can’t hold my excitement to visit this heritage.

It was an almost two-hour journey through the deep waters of Arabian sea. But upon reaching the entrance, I was astonished to see the massive structures. The splendid rock-cut architecture of the caves whose creator and origin is still unknown and a subject of mystery definitely deserves all the admiration and attention. Although these are said to be caves but to me, it seemed adobe of lord Shiva. This adobe houses various statues of lord Shiva which depict several significant instances from Indian mythology and Scriptures. Although most of these statues had been damaged several centuries ago but it’s not easy to destroy the admiration of the travelers who still find it more impressive, massive and subjective. Several legends and archaeological facts are linked regarding the originator and as well as the origin of these huge caves, residing sculptures of Hindu and Buddhist sect. Well, it could ever be revealed or not we can’t say but whoever has created it several centuries ago  has indeed built a masterpiece.

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LORD SHIVA IN MEDITATION – ” YOGISHVARA”
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LORD AS SLAYER OF NEGATIVITY
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NATARAJA – THE COSMIC DANCER
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“YOGISHVARA” DOING PENANCE
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LORD AT HIS ADOBE “MT. KAILASH” WITH HIS DEVOTEE ” RAVANA” SHAKING THE MOUNTAIN TO TAKE  HIS LORD WITH HIM
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LORD SHIVA AND HIS CONSORT GODDESS “PARVATI”
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LORD IN THE FORM OF “ARDHANARISHVARA”
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“TRIMURTI”  ( TRINITY OF LORD BRAHMA, VISHNU AND MAHESH )

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.

” God’s own Country”…….

God’s own country, they call it.. And indeed it was! Beautiful land with extremely calm and composed people. The presence of those innocent smiles cannot be ignored,  ever so welcoming to a stranger on the land.

It was a long cherished desire to breathe the air of the state and yes, it was fresh and so pure. Being there for a week was a completely different experience,  yet familiar. No matter whether language was known or unknown,  a help was never denied. Some were able to express themselves and extended their support; those who were unable to express, took the help of others to help out. Amidst them, the realization occurred. That mishappening can occur anywhere and with anybody, but definitely our country is not as worse as we think.

Nature can be seen and felt in its divine form in Kerela. So it didn’t  matter what places you visit or what places you did, the only thing that you felt everywhere was the presence of serenity. Nature has always knocked me out with the beauty of its variations; hills and mountains add thrill and excitement, but the beauty of  Kerala hold you by your feet, soaks into your breath and relieves all the restlessness from your soul.

Different places, their wonderful history, architecture, and legends; everything is a matter of quest for a traveler. But sometimes the strange feeling of an unknown familiarity and stability in an unknown place, where people hardly understand your language, outshines all the upheavals and finally leave you with an awesome and amazing experience. Simplicity and grace are the USP of this beautiful land. Clean beaches, splendid architecture,  effortless beauty of nature which can never be left unnoticed, magical landscape and dissolution of Ayurveda in the soul; each one of them complements the soothing nature of God’s own country.

“Land of spices” or ” Land of Coconuts” or ” Land of Elephants”, whatever they call it but the feel of divine touch will remain as a bliss once who touches the charming land.