Gautama Buddha man who loved peace…..

Early this week the news came of tragic bombing of World Heritage site in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India. It left me shocked and distressed. Any news of attacks bring with it sadness, helplessness where we are sorry for the people who have lost their lives and their effected families. Sometimes these attacks leave pain, anger and frustration that why our governments are not able to deal with it and protect its people. The attack on Bodhgaya brought with it a lot of questions to me as a regular citizen, that why was Bodhgaya attacked? Bodhgaya is a simple, spiritual, loving and peace loving town.

It was in February 2011 that I visited Patna a city in the state of Bihar, India. I was having a quite dinner and suddenly after a few minutes the place was buzzing with activity. I soon found myself with many Japanese tourist and monks. It surprised me to quite an extent. Now, Bihar as I knew till that time does not have tourist attractions which would interest tourist from different parts of the world, that to specially from Japan.

I soon inquired with the steward and he told me that the tourist specially from Japan come here to visit Bodh Gaya where Gautama Buddha obtained Enlightenment.

The mention of Bodh Gaya reminded me of a beautiful story I had read in my school. It was about the journey of a young man known as Siddhartha Gautama. He was Prince of Kapilavastua in Nepal who left his home in search of inner peace.

Gautama Buddha

The story of Buddha fascinated me at lot. His journey from leaving his home full of luxuries and go on a path to search solution to human misery. This story and other similar stories which have happened around us have always put importance on Inner Peace. Inner peace has been always a very important element in anything I do in my LIFE, whether it my work with children, my friends and family around the world. Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment in Gaya around 2300 years ago, a jungle (at that time), praying below a tree for a week.

I promised myself on that day that I have to visit Bodh Gaya on the next given opportunity. I got in last month.

Bodh Gaya is around 135 kms from Patna city. It’s took about four hours to reach. The journey between Patna and Bodh Gaya was far from interesting, but once I reached the Mahabodhi Temple complex I knew it was all worth it!

Mahabodhi Temple built by Emperor Asoka 250 years ago.
Mahabodhi Temple built by Emperor Asoka 250 years ago.

When you first enter the complex which is also a world heritage site you see this magnificent temple of Buddha. The temple was built much later by King Asoka after 250 years of Buddha. It’s said that the temple has been intact for all these years, but in past few years a lot has been restored to bring the complex to its original shape.

Statues

Buddha Temple

Although the reason for many to visit is not the temple, but THE BODHI TREE

The Bodhi Tree

The place under which Buddha meditated to reach the stage of enlightenment. This place for sure had that feel of spirituality and peace for which people still travel thousands of miles to Bodh Gaya from different parts of the world.

The tree is behind the west side of the temple. Just sitting below the tree one feel likes a child and you feel closer to him. It was one of the most amazingly peaceful experiences which I have had. One feels at peace and relaxed. The branches of the tree had covered the people who were meditating like a father takes his child in his arms, loved and protected.

My thoughts were only disturbed when a leaf fall next to me, I picked it up, soon I realized that many pilgrims weighted below the tree to get a leaf as it was considered to be blessings. I believed in it too and have put it up on wall at Bal Asha Trust so that our work and children are blessed with almighty’s choicest blessings.

Blessings

A little walk will bring you to a path which had lotus flower shaped stones. It is said that when Gautama Buddha walked on the path after his enlightenment, lotus flowers emerged from the earth. These were later built with stones by kings to retell the story.

Lotus Flowers

You can see the pond which was built by Asoka which people now use to perform various Hindu ceremonies or an iron pillar.

Its believed that he meditated for a few weeks at different locations, each corner of the complex having a story. Here are some of the location pictures of the complex.

Buddha

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Tree

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Several monasteries have been built by the people various countries around the world specially Bhutan, Sri Lanka, China, Thailand etc. I had a rickshawala baba who agreed to be my guide for the noon once I came out of the temple.

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He first took me to the monastery built by people of Thailand. Very traditional in its architecture. I met a monk who was kind enough to tell me about the history of the monastery and his life for the past many years. He was more than 85 years old and has been to several countries to pray in different temples.

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My last stop of the day was 80 feet statute of Buddha built by the Japanese. I called it a day as I had a long journey back to Patna, but I left with a amazing experience.

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Ganpati Bappa Morya…Ganpati Visarjan Day

Ganesh Utsav (Festival of Ganesha) is celebrated with great enthusiasm and spirituality.  Ganesha the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune was welcomed in most Indian homes on 19th September 2012 this year.

Ganpati
Ganpati Idol made at home by  my mother in law with material which is Eco friendly

Few months before Ganesh Chaturthi, artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha are made for sale by specially skilled artisans. They are beautifully decorated and depict Lord Ganesh in poses. The size of these statues from small to may vary from 3/4 of an inch to over 70 feet.   The idols are then taken home by families or are installed in temporary structures  known as pandals by group of people.

Beautiful large idol of Ganesh

The festival last for 10 days and celebrated most in parts of Maharashtra and Goa.     The festival dates change every year as per the Hindu Calender.  This year the festival came to end on 29th September 2012.

Ganesha studded with jewelry

On the 10th day it is symbolic that Ganesha is going to his home in Mount Kailash.  He takes with him misfortunes of his devotees.  This day is known Ananta Chaturdashi (Ganpati Visarjan).  The streets fare full of people who are dancing, singing and enjoying every moment of that day.

I leave you with photos and videos taken on this day.  Hope you enjoy it as much  I enjoyed taking them !!

A beautiful Tribal dance from Maharashtra.

Ganesha travels by every possible mode that day. People’s head, hands, car, truck etc.

Lord Ganesha with his father “SHIVA” and mother “PARVATI”

Women dancing Lezim ( Instrument in their hands)

Dancing on the Streets

Taking Ganesha like a KING

The excitement has no Age limits

Kala Ghoda Festival

The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is a yearly event in Mumbai.  The festival gives a little excited mood to the otherwise busy city.  The festival started in 1999 in the area of south of Mumbai around area of Kala Ghoda (Black Horse).

This year it was organized from 4th – 12th February 2012.  The festival brought performing artist from various parts of India specially Rajasthan and Orissa.  They performed cultural programmes on the stage and the streets near to Kala Ghoda.  There are many sub events which engage the city during this time.

 
Playing flute
Rajasthan Tribal's performing stunts

The festival also brings together artist doing different art forms with their work which they are willing to sell.  A major part of the area also holds exhibitions by NGOs working towards welfare of the society.

I leave with some pictures of art work done by artist.  Some of them have themes, but the biggest attraction this year was “The Crow”

Indian Cooking – Egg Biryani

Whenever i have kitchen all to myself, i cannot stop myself from making something different.
So, it was a perfect evening, my wife was going to be late from work…. The kids behaved well to impress me and were busy with their activities.. i thought so why not surprise my lady with some Indian Mughlai cooking..
Egg Biryani along with curd salad was what i decided would be our evening dinner that day…. I have tried biryani for the first time,  hope you enjoy making it some time..
The verdict, all the Egg Biryani was finished.
Servers four adults.
Preparation time 20 mins, after ingredients are ready including boiled eggs.
Ingredients:

half cup cooking oil

8 large eggs (hard boiled) or as per need

1 large onion (finely chopped)
2 flakes garlic (curshed)
2 bay leaves
1-inch cinnamon stick
1 brown Cardamom (badi elaichi)
4 green cardamom pods (chhoti elaichi)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chili powder or to taste
2 cups Basmati (long grain) Rice
21/2 cups warm water, if you use less Rice, then less water.
Salt To Taste
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
3-4 tomatoes (thickly sliced) to garnish
Preparation:
  • Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan and fry onions and garlic together with the bay leaves, cinnamon and cardamoms, until golden.
  • Carefully prick the eggs with a fork and add to the pan.
  • Stir in turmeric, chili powder and fry for about 5 minutes.
  • Add pre-soaked rice and stir slowly and carefully for 2 minutes.
  • Pour in water and salt to taste, and cook over a modeate heat until the rice is tender and water is absorbed.
  • Sprinkle garam masala powder over it.
  • Garnish egg biryani with chopped coriander and tomato slices, serve hot.

Recipe courtesy : http://www.indianfoodforever.com

Jain Temple of Ranakpur

After spending a night in Chittour, we started our trip towards Udaipur where we planned to halt for few nights.

Some of the locals told us about these beautiful Jain Temples in Ranakpur.   We decided to take a detour to Ranakpur.  After the visit we were glad that we did that….

Ranakpur  a fairly small village between Udaipur  and Jodhpur in Pali district of Rajashthan.

The Temple is build around the 1400 AD.

The temple halls are beautifully carved and  all the pillars have different design.  The designs signifying history of India.  There are 1,444 different pillars.

Every Pillar has a different story to tell

Around the world History if not written can be read trough beautiful architecture
Various Dance postures are part of the inner sanctum

The Jain Temples are not only a tourist attractions, but its a important religious pilgrimage for the Jains.   The main temple is the Chamukha temple, dedicated to the Tirthankara Rishabdeoji.

I leave you with some beautiful pictures of Ranakpur, hope you enjoy them as much as i enjoyed clicking them.

Chittorgarh Fort

Rajasthan holds a special place in my heart as much as Maharashtra.  It’s a land from where my ancestors belong.  It has got some amazing history.  Rajashthan has forts, palaces, colours, people and stories of Kings and Queens.

We took an afternoon train from Mumbai and after a overnight journey we reached by noon to Chittorgarh.

The railway station is not so busy as city stations in India are.  It was calm and very less activity.  We picked our bags and had to walk a mile or so up and down the bridge.

Most common and easy mode of Transportation.

I quickly put a deal with the rickshaw driver to take me to a hotel which I already indentified from the Lonely planet guide.  After a few hours of rest at the hotel we went to the Chittorgarh Fort which is the most important place in our program.

View on the way to the Fort
Beautiful View of Chittorgarh City from the Fort

Chittorgarh Fort is said to be largest for in India and not doubt that it is the grandest.  The fort is also known as Chittor.  The fort was built in 7th century and is said to be abandoned in the year 1568.

The fort is speard over 691 acres and has some beautiful temples, gates, towers and remains which probably were damaged during the wars which took place with the Rajputs and Mughals.

Amazing stories are part of the history of this fort

Some temples are still intact and a daily pooja is conducted by the priest.

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Breathtaking view of the History

The most interesting being the temple of Krishna where Meera would sing bhajans for his loved one.  Meera was married to one of the Kings, but its believed that since her young days she was a devotee of Lord Krishna.  She would spend hours in the Krishna Temple.   Its said the later she died in a temple near the Amber Fort of Jaipur.

Meera would spend most part of day in this templeLord Krishna.

Lord Krishna

Meera Singing Bhajans for Lord Krishna

There are plenty of stories which are part of these magnificiant fort, but the most chilling and serious one is when Jahaur (self immolation committed by women when all men go for war).  This happened in 1303 by Rani Padmini wife of Rana Pratap Singh and later 1537 by Rani Karnavati.  The estimated lives lost during such time is put to 13000 by historians.

The windows from where the residents of the Fort could see the enemies coming
Windows of the Fort-outside view
Fort

The fort also has a Jain Temple.   Although its unknown that as to how Jain Temple was built within the Fort as Maharaja’s were primarily Shatriya.  The common story believed is that possible during one of the era’s the wife of one of the kings must be a follower of Jain Dharma.

Temples

The fort has some pathways to walk possibly must have been way to reach different rooms in the Fort.

The fort has some pathways to walk possibly must have been way to reach different rooms in the Fort.
Towers

The Tower which you can climb up and see the scale of the fort’s size and showcase its amazing architecture.  We went just around when rains have arrived in Rajasthan, so it was also lush green.  This is not a common site in the deserts.

If you want tour the entire Fort once needs a rickshaw and there are plenty of them available before once comes up the hill to visit the fort.   The rickshaw driver also doubles up as a Guide and may tell you his own version of History.

We also visited a amazing mosque, but sadly could not take any photographs.  Nevertheless I leave you with some more parts of the fort.  We continued our journey to Ranakpur.

Chittaurgarh Fort
Chittaurgarh Fort
Ganesh in one of the Temples
Temples
Part of History, Chittourgarh Fort

Hello world!

Temple in Chittaurgarh Fort, Rajashthan

My first attempt at blogging.

Would like to tell you the way my journey proceeds hereon and also glimpses from the past.

I hope you guys enjoy my blog as much i plan to enjoy it…

So, please comeback, commen, like and share on the BLOG!