Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Skywatch Friday - Sunrise in Pondicherry

Sunrise on the beach is always a nice experience.

A calm sea. Azure sea shore.

An empty beach with no one around.

This was clicked on a morning in September 2010

On the "Big beach" of Club Mahindra in Pondicherry in South India.

The cloudy sky was to play spoilsport.

Suddenly the sun comes out blazinng.

Golden rays lighting up the sky.

Turning it into myriad of colours.....blue, orange, grey.....

The rays strike the cloud

Streaks lighting up the edges as sun peeps out

It looked as if the sun had wings on that day.........

Useful Links

Skywatch Friday

Monday, 29 October 2012

Back of the Blog - William Arthur Memorial Church in Gubbi

Back of the blog. Here we will share tit-bits and snippets on India Travel which may be useful for a traveller in India. It may be some new information about the place, a new cuisine one can explore, a bit of history, a funny anecdote or a good travel book. Anything connected to Travel in India. 
Many a time, we come across little gems whenever we go on a road trip. This is one of the reason why travel is so exciting. More so when you travel in India!!

During our many trips to interiors of Karnataka, especially Malnad ( For details on exploring Malnad region, please click here) region, we have to cross a small town named Gubbi after Tumkur in South India. As we entered Gubbi Town - 90 KMs from Bangalore - we were surprised to see a cute little church built in Gothic style on the highway. It is just out of the blue. The architecture and colours have blended so nicely to make it an eye-catching building.

I am not sure who was responsible to build this church though the plaque says that it was built in the year 1904. If you know more about this church, please do share with us.

William Arthur Memorial Church in Gubbi

Next time when you are driving to Shimoga or Chikmagalur via Tumkur, just stop over for few minutes to look at this nice little church.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Valley of Flowers - Trek to Hemkund Sahib

Two days of continuous trek was tiring. But the toughest one was to come the next day - Hemkund Sahib. When compared to Gobind ghat to Gangaria and Gangaria to Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Sahib trek is considered hard as one climbs 1000 meters within a short span of 6 KMs. Thus, it is a virtual climb from the word go with hardly any level surface.

As usual, the start time is 6.30 AM and everyone is ready. Last night's leg message by Sohan singh was very useful. We slept last night praying that the weather be clear and there shall be no rain. But we are not lucky when we get up as it is already raining. We have no choice and after a tea and toast routine, we start the trek covering our self with a rain cape. Since it is raining, we do not risk taking our Nikon but take Sony point and shoot.

We follow the same route we took for Valley of flowers and then deviate towards Hemkund Sahib. This is a real climb. As in the Gobind Ghat - Gangaria trail, the mules are part of the crowd and one has to bear the smell of their droppings. We also have company of hundreds of Sikh pilgrims trekking along with us uncomplainingly. The trail looks similar to the one from Gobindghat but much steeper. The complete valley is misty and cloudy with hardly anything visible for a large portion of trek. The sky is cloudy with low hanging clouds completely covering the valley. It continue to rain and the trail is wet and slippery. 

The water falls as we start climbing. Notice the misty surroundings

Notice the continuous climb and the valley covered by clouds

Clouds, clouds everywhere......
And mules.....
After four hours of trekking and crossing a half melted glacier, we reach the Lake and Gurudwara around 11 AM. The place is very cold and windy. It is a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. The water is crystal clear and the reflection of Gurudwara in the lake makes a beautiful sight. Unfortunately, the cloudy weather play spoilsport again.  Being a high altitude place, we could feel the difficulty while moving around. We have darshan of the shrine and leave after partaking the prasad.

Hem Kund Lake
The Gurudwara
The sanctum santorum of Gurudwara
We are expecting the weather to clear but we are not so lucky. The rains continue and we had to be extremely careful while coming down the trail lest we slip and hurt our legs. Coming down the trail is heavy on the legs and knees. Fortunately, we all came back safe to Gangaria.

This was a bit of a disappointment as the weather played spoilsport. In clear weather, the trek offers fabulous vistas of mountains especially the "Saptha shringi" mountains or seven peaks of Himalayas surrounding the lake. 

Clear weather is key to enjoy the complete trip to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. We were extremely lucky when we trekked to Valley of Flowers but we were not in this case.

Photo Courtesy - Manish Jain who was part of the group and who dared to bring his Nikon along.

Travel tips

a) Trek to Hem Kund Sahib is hard. Good acclimatisation is a must. It is good to do this trek after Gobind Ghat - Gangaria and Gangaria - Valley of flowers which will help acclimatise better.

b) If you are flying to Gangaria by helicopter, then complete Valley of Flowers trek before attempting Hemkund Sahib.

c) All precautions as mentioned in perevious posts is a must.

d) If you are unfit to do this trek, then you can take the services of a mule.

e) The trail is slippery especially when it is raining. It is imperative that one should wear a good trekking shoe.

f) Make sure to take breaks while climbing up the steep path. This is important as going up very fast could only mean inviting altitude sickness. Breaks are meant to be standing ones and do not sit down. Sitting down causes your muscles to relax and getting back on track can be very difficult. 

f) Do not exert on reaching the place. At 16000 feet, it is a high altitude lake and one gets tired very fast due to rarefied atmosphere.

g) The gurudwara in itself is serene and peaceful. 

h) One has to be extra careful while coming back as it will be slippery especially when it is raining.


a) Gurudwara - Worship place of Sikhs

b) Darshan - Sight of Deity

Useful Links

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If you need help in planning a trip to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib, you are welcome to write to me at poorna62@gmail.com.

Happy to help.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Back of the Blog - Grandeur of Mysore Dasara!

Back of the blog. Here we will share tit-bits and snippets on India Travel which may be useful for a traveller in India. It may be some new information about the place, a new cuisine one can explore, a bit of history, a funny anecdote or a good travel book. Anything connected to Travel in India. 
I was watching the celebrations of Mysore Dasara on television in the afternoon yesterday. It was a live telecast of the festivities in Mysore which brought back nostalgic memories of the event we saw few years back. The grandeur of Mysore should be experienced in the nine days of Dasara celebrations there. Some pics of the city during dasara which are for keepsake.

Mysore Palace in full glow
Palace as seen from another angle
Entrance to the palace with the temple in foreground
Entrance arch to Dasara Exhibition
You will be there next year in Mysore for Dasara. Don't you?

Related posts on this blog

Colourful Dasaras of India

Dasara and Display of Dolls

Monday, 22 October 2012

Back of the Blog - Colourful Dasaras of India!

The way we celebrate festivals in India is so unique which in itself showcase the cultural diversity of this country.

A festival like Dasara/Navratri is celebrated in different ways and different legends - mythological and folk - are woven around them. During our travel in the country we have seen and experienced celebrations in Calcutta and Ahmedabad. The festival fervor is to be seen to be believed in both these places. Most interesting one was witnessed in Varanasi where Ramlila goes on for one month! Of course, closer home, we have been to grand Dasara celebrations in Mysore many times.

This post will give you a glimpse of celebration of different Dasaras and amazing diversity therein.

Dasara in Kullu - Tucked in Indian Himalayas, Kullu's Dasara is famous in the region when Lord Raghunath - different than other parts when Goddess Durga is the main god - is worshiped in local fervor and traditions.

Lord Raghunath taken in procession in Kullu
Durga Puja in West Bengal - Celebrated as Goddess Durga's victory over Demons

Goddess Durga killing demons

Dasara and Ram Lila in North India, especially in Delhi and Varanasi - Celebrated as Lord Ram's victory over Demons - Ravan, Kumbhakarna and Megha Nada

Effigies of Demons Raavan, Kumbhakarana and Meghanad displayed displayed in Delhi's Ramlila grounds

Dasara in Bastar in Chattisgarh - A colourful festival wherein all tribals in the region congregate in Jagdalpur and celebrate it for 75 days!

The Raja of Bastar taken in procession in Jagdalpur
Dasara in Telengana in Andhra Pradesh - Celebrated as Bathukamma festival by women folk.

Bathukamma festival
Navratri in Gujarat - Gujaratis worship Goddess Durga with spiritual dances popularly known as Garba
Gujaratis performing Garba

Navratri in Tamil Nadu - Celebrated similar to Karnataka where Dolls are displayed and goddesses are worshipped.

Durga Puja in Nepal - Celebrated as Dsahai festival in a big way. Similar to Durga Puja celebrated in bengal to some extent. I happened to see this when i served with Gurkha soldiers in India Army.

Dasara in Karnataka - It is interesting to see that only in Karnataka it is celebrated as Pandavas victory against Kauravas at the end of Agnatvas. Even within Karnataka dasara is celebrated in big way in Madikeri (in Coorg) , Kudroli (in Coastal Karnataka) and Sringeri (in Malnad known as "Shard Navaratri" ). (More details on Dasara in Karnataka in the previous post).

Gokarnanatha temple in Kudroli decorated for Dasara
A Tableaux of Goddess Durga in Madikeri dasara

So, next time plan to be there in these place to experience the festive season which is vibrant, and colourful.  If you are planning India Travel, you know now when to come to experience Dasara!!

If you are you aware of any other unique way Dasara is celebrated in India, please do share it.

Useful links

Dasara in Bastar 

Dasara in Telengana - Bathukamma

Dasara in Gujarat - Garba

Dasara in Nepal - Dashai festival

Durga Puja

Dasara in Karnataka and Ayudha Puja legend

Madikeri Dasara

Shard Navaratri - Sringeri


Dasara/Navratri - A Hindu festival celebrated in the month of October across India

Durga - A Hindu Goddess

Ram, Raghunath - A Hindu god, hero of Ramayana, the hindu epic

Agnatvas - Living in Disguise

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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Back of the Blog - Dasara and display of Dolls

Back of the blog. Here we will share tit-bits and snippets on India Travel which may be useful for a traveller in India. It may be some new information about the place, a new cuisine one can explore, a bit of history, a funny anecdote or a good travel book. Anything connected to Travel in India. 

Dasara is a major festival in India and more so in Karnataka in South India where it is celebrated as "Naada Habba" or "State festival". Dasara was fun when we were kids when dolls were displayed in every home and we went around to see what was new. There was also another incentive to do these rounds - to savour snacks given during this time! The tradition still continue and we do display dolls at home, albeit on a small scale during Dasara. However, the number of houses displaying dolls in the city of Bangalore has declined. Of late, there seems to be enthusiasm among young to continue the tradition which augurs well for the future.

I am not sure how, when and where the practice of displaying dolls during Dasara started in Karnataka.....or rather in South Indian states of Tamil Nadu (it is known as "Golu" in Tamil Nadu) and Andhra Pradesh (in Andhra Pradesh the display is during Sankranti time). Was the tradition started during Vijayanagar empire and then spread across the three states? It is definitely possible. 

Anyone who has read about or visited Hampi knows that Dasara or Navaratri was celebrated as "Nada Habba" or "State festival" in a grand manner in Vijayanagar empire. The huge pedestal from where the King used to watch the colourful procession in Hampi can still be seen and is known as "Mahanavami Dibba". Later the tradition must have continued under Wodeyars of Mysore. In the 18th century Mysore, the royal family had what was called the "Gombe thotti" or the "Dolls pavilion" at which can still be seen when you visit the palace.

Display of Dolls in our house
Dolls displayed in Dolls pavilion in palace
Dasara itself is close to be called as national festival along with Dipavali - the festival of lights. It is amazing how many types of Dasaras are celebrated in the country. More about it later in India Scrapbook.

In the meantime, if you happen to visit Mysore during Dasara festival don't miss visiting "Bombe Mane" or "House of Dolls" by Ramsons. The details are in the link below. Of course, you can drop in any Mysorean's home to see lovely display of dolls!! 

These dolls definitely liven up our lives and lift festive spirits.

Best wishes to everyone on this auspicious occasion of Navaratri/Dasara!!

Useful links

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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Valley of Flowers - Colourful flowers of the valley!

These are the lovely flowers of "Valley of Flowers". The variety, the colours, the beauty is just awesome. 

Please take a look. 

Don't worry about their names. even i can't identify all!!


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