Thursday, 29 December 2011

Rave-ing & Ranting in Goa for New Yearz Eve !!

Intelligentia, literati, scribes, muckrakers are all I’ve hopped parties with so far where the highest decibel was provided by the Italian Operatic Tenor - Pavarotti or the Hindustani Classical Vocalist – Pandit Bhimsen Joshi….and greatest move made was towards the buffet table.

This would certainly be the first for me to dance to ear-deafening hundreds of watts of trance & techno music and be flooded with broad and dense laser beams in environs that are practically not visible in the otherwise pitch dark venue with thick artificial fog clouding your view (or what little is left of your view) - of your co-dancer. Phew! You’d have to be a Navy Seal to navigate through this unpredictable terrain! Wonder how they do it?!

They call them Rave Parties. And Goa is a ‘Rave Party Capital’ of India and is reckoned number 3 on the list of ‘Top Rave Party Destinations of the World’. Originating in the 60’s Hippie Culture and refined in the acid-house parties in the 80’s by the DJs of Chicago – Goa’s acid parties are transitioning into yet another trend. Silence!

Music is played alright…only….directly into the ears of the party-hoppers. Yup you heard it right. You would wear headphones that are connected through WIFI to the DJ system and hence would have music streamed to you directly. Now THIS is what caught my fancy. I heard these parties are catching on – especially on the Anjuna Beach in Goa. So That’s where I’m headed this New Year’s Eve. Lemme see what are raving and ranting about. Goa Ahoy!

Monday, 26 December 2011

A Pilgrimage turned picnic- Murudeswara

We keep travelling at every given opportunity. We capped our travel calendar of the year 2011 in December with a trip to Murudeswara in Khatkal district of Karnataka state in India. It was a completely unplanned trip as we were at Sringeri on 4 Dec and had planned to return to Bangalore. We realized that few tourists were proceeding to Murudeswara which is at a distance of 150km and not more than 3hrs from Sringeri. As it is on the Arabian seashore my two boys were excited to go on the trip. So, there we were on NH13 by 11 am on 4 Dec moving towards Murudeswara in our family car. We got on to state highway after some while and were back on to NH 17 and a left from Indian Oil petrol filling station lead us to our destination Murudeswara.

Murudeswara is a temple of Lord Shiva and is popular for the 20 storied and 237 ft high Raja Gopuram. We had to strain our necks to get a complete view of the Gopuram. It is built on the Kanduka Giri hill surrounded by sea on all three sides. The temple premises are very clean and pleasant. The entrance of the temple invited us with two elegant elephant statues.

My sons liked the temple instantly as it looks very modern, clean and appealing. The main deity of the temple is Sri Mridesa Linga, or Murudeswara. The Linga is located 2 feet below the ground level and appears like a rock structure inside hallowed ground. Abhisheka, Rudrabhisheka and Rathotsava are some special rituals performed here at several occasions throughout the year as per the temple calendar for the year 2012 we purchased.

A huge, imposing and beautiful statue of Lord Shiva in meditating posture complements the raja Gopuram of the temple with its size. This towering statue is considered the second largest statue of Lord Shiva in the world and is of 123 ft high. This is located within the temple complex and supposed to have taken two years to make. The temple and statue both were built by a philanthropist and business man Mr. R N Shetty. The statue looks sparkling with sunlight reflecting and we were all very surprised at the size and beauty of it.

The next best thing that awaited us after the temple and the statue was the beach. It was surprisingly clean and well maintained despite the thronging crowds. It was bright and sunny day with the sea water being warm by mid day. We went on a boat trip that cost Rs 800; it was exclusive with the four of us and the two boat men on board. We sighted many penguins and tried our best to capture images, but they were so fast and so shy of company that we could not. The boatmen were two young chaps and very entertaining, they allowed my boys to do the steering for some time and over all it was a great experience.

It was almost 4pm by the time we returned from out boating and ready for lunch. We went to a close by restaurant and had delicious, spicy Konkan vegetarian food. And post lunch we were on our way back.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Eternal Bliss……in Radhe Radhe!!

It is almost a year and half when I visited my parent’s house at Kanpur. I miss those days spent with my family. I remember that it was decided by me and by my father that daily we are going to visit one temple in the morning and market places in the evening.

It was Sunday, as far as I can recall, we planned for Iskcon Temple, also known as Shri Shri Radha Madhav Mandir. The temple is situated on Mainavati Marg, Nawabganj, Kanpur. It takes around 20-30 minutes time to reach to that place from Kanpur main city. We reached there by 12:20 pm.

ISKCON, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1966. Since then a number of Iskcon temples are built at different places in India. At Kanpur, the construction of this temple started around four years back and is still in progress. At present, the temple site consists of a hall with beautifully dressed idols of Radha and Lord Krishna at the centre and their paintings on almost all the walls. The temple is well surrounded by a small garden.

As we all know, cows are supreme friends of Lord Krishna. Goshalas, large space for the protection of cows, is also available near the temple. Devotees believe that offering respect and giving grass as feed to the cows will help to diminish their past sinful activities.

Suddenly, we saw people rushing inside the temple. Actually it was 12:30 pm, which is Aarti time. Inside the temple, there were beautifully decorated idols of Radha-Krishna. These idols were bejeweled with the garlands made of red, yellow, orange and white colored flowers. The temple’s surrounding was echoing with Hare Rama Hare Krishna……

In Iskcon Temple, Aarti is done three times, first at 8 am in the morning, second at 12:30 pm and third in the evening at 8 pm. After every Aarti, doors (or in Hindi we call Pat) are closed so as to serve food to God. This served food is distributed among peoples as Prasads. On week days in Prasad, fruits, panchamrit and khichdi (sabudaana khichdi on the days of fast) while on weekend’s in place of khichdi, dal, chawal, khadi, roti and sabzi are given. After this, the temple is closed for 3 hours that is from 1 pm to 4 pm. It is believed that God takes rest during this time.

People from far and nearby places throng this place to see beautifully decorated idols of Radha-Krishna, to perform religious activities, sing bhajans and take rest in peace. We also did the same thing and enjoyed for whole day. Actually for me it is a must visit place when in Kanpur. For lunch we took puri, aloo sabzi and some pickles with us. Although snacks, drinking water, tea etc. were available in the temple premises but it is always advised to keep food items and drinking water when you plan to go out for whole day especially with children for this temple or any other place.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Trip to Jogulamba temple,Pushpagiri, Vontimitta

Day 1

We visited some of the ancient temples in Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh long time back.I just want to share some of my experiences here. We started our journey early in the morning i.e at 6:30 a.m( it s early for me :-) ) in the car from Hyderabad.Alampur is 230 kms from Hyderabad. It is on the left side  of the road, road is a bit confusing we asked some guys about the route. We traveled for 15 to 20 mins on a small road. We found many auto rickshaws and bullock carts in this way.We passed through a small railway station on our left side.Name of that station is Jogulamba halt. Then we confirmed that we were in a correct route. We reached Alampur in 2 hours. There are 3 temples to see in Alampur.

  1. Navabrahma temple
  2. Sangameshwara temple
  3. Jogulamba temple

First we went to Navabrahma temple. There are nine small temples with Siva shrine in different colours

Nava Brahma Temple
  1. Taraka Brahma.
  2. Swarga Brahma. 
  3. Padma Brahma
  4. Garuda Brahma
  5. Bala Brahma
  6. Kumara Brahma
  7. Arka Brahma,
  8. Vira Brahma 
  9. Vishva Brahma. 

We were unable to find which one is which temple and there was no one to explain at that time. We touched the god's shrine and prayed. You will see some of idols are kept like that in the temple compound. There is a museum at the entrance of the temple.We can see some other idols here.

Then we went to Sangameswara temple.Badami chalukyans built this temple in 7th century.The actual location of this temple  submerged during construction of Srisailam dam. Then government reconstructed that temple in Alampur.First they studied the old temple, marked each stone with numbers and reconstructed. You can see the numbers on the stones.

I don't remember the priest name exactly, he explained all the sculpture on the walls of the temple very well.He has been a priest in this temple before the construction of Srisailam dam. We were so excited after listening to the prominence of those idols. There are nearly 3 crores of gods in Hinduism. According to the Hindu beliefs each direction is associated with a god. We have eight gods who is taking are of these 8 directions. We call them as Ashta Dikpaalakulu in telugu (rulers of the eight directions).Most of the Hindu houses built in such a way that, we should keep kitchen on the side of god Agni(fire) and water storage on the side of Varuna(water) etc;  There is a nice idol on the top left corner of the temple. It appears in three different ways from different sides, as a young lady from one side, middle age lady from other and the old age lady from the another.The sculptor wants to explain the different stages of human life with this idol. Another nice idol is Man and Woman idol. One side of the idol is male and the other side is female. The sculptor took care of the even small parts of human body like toes,fingers etc; We can feel the fineness of that stone by touching it. There is a Sri chakra on the ceiling of the temple.

Jogulamba Temple
Jogulamba temple, Alampur
Jogulamba temple and sangameshwara temple are side by side.The temple closed when we reached it. Temple will be closed from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m.Krishna river is on the front side of the temple. We just washed our legs in the river, didnot go deeper because it may be deep.We could not believe that only tip of the Gopuram of main temple was visible during the floods in september 2009.Thanks to the endowment department of AP and the workers who worked hard to get the temple back to it s original state after the floods.
The temple opened by 3:00 p.m. August is not a season for the pilgrims at this place. So it took only 15 to 20 mins for us to see the goddess. During Dassera time it may take 2 to 3 hrs for the darshan. Every one of us was hungry. We didn't have anything from the morning,  we just had tea. We bought 2 packets of lemon rice for every one.Some thing is better than nothing :-)

 It took nearly 3 hrs for us to cover  the two temples in Alampur. Actually we planned to reach Kadapa by 7:00 pm but it was already 4:30 pm while we reach Kurnool. We did not get any food at that time so we just had an ice cream in Raj Vihar restaurant of Kurnool, it was so good.

Then we went to Sangameshwara temple in Kurnool. This is on the way to Nandyal. It is on the right side of the road. The temple is on a hill .There is a big lake on the way to back to the temple the water was so clear.
Sangameshwara Temple in Kurnool

There is a APTDC resort on the right side of the road after crossing Kurnool.It is built below the hills. We had some snacks there. Only snacks available at that time. There is a dairy on the right side of the road after we crossed Nanadyala, may be after 10 to 15 mins. That is  S.P.Y.Reddy's  dairy.We stopped to have some sweets and badam milk. The sweets were so good and badam milk was OK. Fresh ghee available here. We were in a hurry to reach Kadapa because it s already 7:00 p.m at Nandyala. We reached Kadapa at 10:00 p.m. Sreekanth's mother prepared yummy yummy dinner for us.
That is the day one of our journey.

Day 2

Woke up at 8:00 a.m in the morning. We had a nice breakfast (dosa with red chilli powder famous in Rayalaseema). Guys went to Ameen peer dargah of Kadapa leaving us, bad boys of course they took us in the evening. At 2:00 p.m we started from Kadapa to Vontimitta. It took 30 mins for us to reach Vontimitta. The temple is very close to the main road. So anyone can easily find that. Kodandarama swami temple is at a height of 100 ft from the ground. It was the first time I saw such big walls. One of the priests was applying his "Namam"( white colour powdeer on fore head)at that time. He told us the Rama mantra and explained some history of that temple. The pillars of the temple are carved with good sculptures. One of the best is a lion and horse sculpture. From one side it appears as a lion and from the other side it appears as a horse. There is a lord hanuman temple opposite to the main temple. Then we proceeded to Nandalur.
Nandalur temple

Nandalur is famous for Lord Venkateswara temple.The main idol of the god is very good.The temple constructed with 108 pillars. There is a belief that if any one make a wish and do 11 pradakshinas(going around the temple) The god will fulfill that wish then we should do 108 pradakshinas with in one year.The temple built in such a way that one can see the deity clearly with out any artificial light.On a particular day of the year, the sun rays touch the feet of the main deity in this temple. It is said that on a full moon day if a water vessel is placed at the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum, the image of the Lord is reflected in the water even at a distance of 100 feet. Annamacharya( a famous telugu devotee of Venkateswara) visited this temple.

Then we went Siddavatam fort.

Siddavatam fort
Kings preserve their wealth in the forts in olden days. Siddavtam fort comes under those forts. It is a very huge fort with an area of 50 to 75 acres but most of the fort is ruined. It was built in such a way that no one can enter without the permission of king. There were water pools around the fort and there were crocodiles in that water in order to prevent anyone entering in to the fort with out permission. We can understand the wisdom of old people with this one. The next halt is Devuni Kadapa in Kadapa.

Devuni kadapa temple
Devuni Kadapa, people say that this is the first foot step of Lord Venkateswara on his journey to Tirumala.We missed the darshan in this temple. We reached temple at 8:30 p.m but the temple closes by 8:00 p.m. Then we proceeded to Ameen peer dargah.

Ameen peer dargah, is a famous dargah in Andhra Pradesh. Many of the celebrities come here to fulfill their dreams. People can go in to the dargah irrespective of their caste and religion. Girls should cover their head with dupatta and guys should wear a cap to enter into dargah.
Our day 2 journey ends with that. We should  sleep early because we planned our day 3 to trek one hill.
good night :-)

Day 3

The name of hill is PalaKondalu.  This is an unexplored place only the locals know this one. This is on the back side of the RIMS building.We went along with one professor he has good idea about that hill and the plants on that hill. He told us so many things about the nature and the herbs available in the forests and hills. It was a nice trek where there is no pollution, no noise and only the nature. There is a small Venkateswara temple above the hill. There are so many monkeys on the way so he warned us not to carry any bags. If you carry any, there is no doubt that they will snatch it from you. We were safe because we didn't carry any. There is a lake beside the temple. Water was so clear and there are lotuses in that water. It took an hour for us to explore that hill. Then we reached home at 11:00 a.m. We were already behind the schedule. So we just went around RIMS(Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Science) in the car.  Then we started from Kadapa to Pushpagiri.

Sculpture inside Pushpagiri temple
Pushpagiri is famous for Chennakeshava swami temple. Chennakeshava means Lord Vishnu.The sculpture of the temple is very good. You will see the mouth of all the idols cut because these idols created much of noise during the night. So people cut the mouths. One has to go there to enjoy the beauty of this temple. There is no words to explain. There is small temple in the temple complex. People believe that if any one dropped three of five stones while watching the goddess face their wish should be fulfilled. You can find many people doing this one.
For complete information about this temple click here Pushpagiri temple

Then our next halt is Kurnool. One of us wanted to eat pepsi chicken( available only in a particular dhaba at particular time). The chicken was so tasty I never had that type of chicken. It was so crispy and spicy too.

At last we reached Hyderabad at 10:00 pm.
It was my first and wonderful trip with my colleagues.