Kazan Cathedral, Saint Petersburg
Showing posts with label Religious. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religious. Show all posts

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Sarnath

Google Maps: Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Sarnath treasures some of the most vital symbols of Indian heritage and it was a pleasant surprise to witness them during the few hours we stayed there. Less than half hour from Varanasi and home to one of the largest buddhist establishments in the world, Sarnath is part of history textbooks. The highlight of our trip was the archeological museum which has as good a collection as I have seen across the world.

Stupa @ Sarnath

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Varanasi

Google Maps: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Varanasi was exactly as everyone had described over the years. Congested gullies, overpopulation, lots of cows all along the majestic river Ganges with chants and mantras in the air and a promise of spiritual upheaval. The holy city draws throngs of foreigners to showcase the heritage of India and from what we saw, they don't return disappointed.

Ganga Aarti @ Dashaswamedh Ghat

Monday, 30 April 2018

Lucknow

Google Maps: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
Lucknow was shining bright as we alighted from Shatabdi. Our hotel was little far in Gomti Nagar but thanks to readily available taxi for hire, we checked in within next half hour. Plan was to rest for an hour and chalk out the route we need to take to maximize our stay. The Imambadas (Bada & Chota) were definitely in the list and so was the delicacies of Aminabad - Tundey Kababi, Prakash Kulfi and Netram Kachoris to name a few.

Chota Imambara

Friday, 30 March 2018

Manikaran Sahib

Google Maps: Manikaran, Himachal Pradesh, India
We drove and drove and drove and reached Manikaran exactly in 30 hours. This included a comfy stay at a resort near Mandi overnight. Hence we were fresh and full on energy when we hit the holy city. The first glance of Manikaran gives an impression of a bowl with a liquid flowing through it. Surrounded by high hills and dissected by Parvati river, the city automatically brings the spiritual in you to fore.

Manikaran Sahib

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Google Maps: Colombo, Sri Lanka
We returned to Colombo from Sigiriya on a warm afternoon. The drive was pleasant and our hotel was in the middle of the busiest district of Colombo. Hence it was in no time that we were on the road moving towards the famous Gangaramaya Temple. It was one of the three places we had finalized to visit on our short stay in Sri Lankan capital.

Gangaramaya Temple 2

Friday, 22 December 2017

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Google Maps: Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya Lion Rock is not just a tourist attraction. History says it was seat of the most powerful king who ever ruled the island nation. Add to that the buddhist monastery in the caves of the gigantic monolith and a view to behold from the top. The result is an unmatchable structure that may very well have cake-walked into the Unesco World Heritage Site list. While the front view of Sigiriya is intimidating, the trek and the experience is equally exhilarating.

View from middle, Sigiriya Lion Rock

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Google Maps: Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
The ruins of Polonnaruwa are famous. The fact that an entire city dedicated to the worship of Lord Buddha in Sri Lanka was astonishing for us coming from India. It was this curiosity and the fame that drew us to the ruined city on the very first day of our stay in the central province. The one hour drive from Sigiriya was pleasant and scenic. We came across a massive Buddha statue beside a lake on the way which set the tone for the city.

Parakramaabahu Palace Complex, Polonnaruwa

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Kyoto

Google Maps: Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Kyoto is beautiful. At the heart of Japan, nestled with temples, spotted with shrines and bifurcated by a river, the city is duly called the spiritual capital of Japan. We reached Kyoto through a super fast train from Osaka early morning and immediately started moving towards the Kinkaku-ji Temple. It is one of the showstoppers among the famous temples of Kyoto. Known for the gold-leaf structure and located at the centre of a placid lake, the temple was indeed teeming with selfie lovers as we arrived.

Kinkaku-ji Temple

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Toshogu Shrine, Nikko

Google Maps: Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
Toshogu Shrine, deep in the hinterlands of Japan, was a perfect beginning of our first trip abroad in seven years. A spiritual centre in a natural habitat and rich with cultural heritage to be listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites, the shrine near Nikko is a landmark in northern Japan. We started early and thanks to our JR Pass, we reach Nikko without much fuss in no time. A bus would take us to Toshogu from the train station.

Toshugu Shrine, Nikko

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Devprayag

Google Maps: Devaprayag, Uttarakhand, India
  • Devprayag is a half day trip from Rishikesh although to be fair, it needs a full day to appreciate the drive and the point. 
  • Roads are in perfect condition and well managed. There are very few good restaurants and no petrol pump before Devprayag so plan accordingly. 
  • The river Ganges flow to your right all the way to Devprayag which throws multiple viewpoints to saviour. Take a break now and then and appreciate the work of mother nature on these hills.
Devprayag is one of those gems that are not hidden but surrounded by bigger gems and hence ignored. In itself it is worthy of a day trip as we figured while standing at the merging point of two distinctly coloured rivers. The holy incantations and energetic crowd only help create a captivating zone around this point which is in a shape of cake slice.

View of Devprayag from top

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Namchi

Google Maps: Namchi, Sikkim, India
  • Take a cab to cover Samdruptse and Char Dham. They are in opposite directions so it will take couple hours each to cover them. We paid 10$ for this.
  • Stay in Namchi although its a small city. A better plan is to move to Darjeeling or Gangtok and spend the evening there. Both are three hours away from Namchi.
  • Start early if you are not staying at Namchi. Late in the evening the availability of transport options to move out of the city simply dry up.
Namchi came up on tripadvisor as one of the top five destinations within Sikkim. It was roughly on our way from Gangtok to Darjeeling so we went for it. How wrong we were. Not that Namchi disappointed us, but the road from Namchi to Darjeeling is so much in tatters that we were jittery all the way.

Shiva Statue, Namchi

Friday, 8 January 2016

Patna Sahib

Google Maps: Gurudwara Sahib, Bihar, India
  • The road from Patna to Patna Sahib is congested and busy with limited parking facility. Start early or take a train to Patna City and from there take an auto-rickshaw.
  • A walk to holy Ganges through Kangan Ghat is a good idea but takes some time as the river has receded further.
  • Visit Agam Kuan and Kumharar en route, famous for events related to Emperor Ashoka who used to run his vast empire from Patliputra.

It may sound strange that I was born and brought up in Patna and yet I never visited Patna Sahib before. The birth place of the Tenth Sikh Guru Govind Singh is something I was not keen to keep out of my blog for long. Hence the visit this winter was a relief.

Inside Patna Sahib

Monday, 27 April 2015

Mathura

Google Maps: Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India
Trip: Delhi > AgraVrindavan > Mathura > Delhi

Mathura was calm and bustling at the same time, as expected. The birthplace of Lord Krishna is one of the oldest cities and hence narrow lanes were crowded when we hit the city on a Monday. We parked our car near Holi Gate and entered the realm. Our first destination was Dwarkadheesh Temple. It is on the bank of river Yamuna and draws hundreds of worshippers every morning. We sat there for some time and admired the old structure.

Dwarkadheesh Temple, Mathura

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Vrindavan

Google Maps: Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India
Trip: Delhi > Agra > Vrindavan > Mathura > Delhi

Vrindavan is the city of temples. While Mathura is birth place of Lord Krishna, it is Vrindavan which has the mythological advantage of hosting the childhood of Vishnu avatar. We reached the city through Yamuna Expressway and quickly settled in a subsidized Jain dharamshala (a religious establishment). Since it was early noon, we decided to first visit something little far and chose Pagal Baba Temple.

Pagal Baba Temple, Vrindavan

Monday, 29 December 2014

Rameswaram

Google Maps: Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, India
Trip: Bangalore > Kanyakumari > Kovalam > Trivandrum > Rameswaram > Bangalore

Rameswaram was long awaited and frankly it didn't disappoint us. In fact the trip that started from Kanyakumari to this pilgrimage via Kovalam had an almost perfect ending in Dhanushkoti. We arrived at this island by train early morning. Crossing Pamban bridge created enough excitement in fellow travellers that we woke up with the noise.

Main Entrance @ Rameswaram Pilgrimage

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Padmanabhswamy Temple, Trivandrum

Google Maps: Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Trip: Bangalore > Kanyakumari > Kovalam > Trivandrum > Rameswaram > Bangalore

  • Padmanabhswamy temple is the star attraction of Trivandrum. Dress code is sstrict so be prepared - full clothes and no western attire permitted inside the temple.
  • India Coffee House near railway station is a landmark and serves amazing dosas. The shape itself is uniquely spiral.
  • Kovalam is an hour drive from here. One should plan stay at Kovalam and visit Trivandrum on the way back. Kanyakumari is only sixty miles away. 

Trivandrum was a halt on way to Kovalam. There are not many things to visit but one that has come up as a superstar attraction is the Padmanabhswamy Temple. Few years ago, government became aware of gold worth $20 Bn lying in the basement of this temple all collected from devotees over hundreds of years.

$20 Bn Padmanabhswamy Temple @ Trivandrum

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Kanyakumari

Google Maps: Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India
Trip: Bangalore > Kanyakumari > Kovalam > Trivandrum > RameswaramBangalore

Kanyakumari is like one of those beautiful Russian spies. Allow them to nudge you and you will bleed dry. Stay game and you will be allowed to play a little. Fate let us arrive at this southern most tip of peninsular India on a Christmas morning.

Vivekananda Rock & Thiruvalluvar Statue

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ajmer Sharif

Google Maps: Ajmer, Rajasthan, India
Trip: Bangalore > Pune > Lonavala > Mumbai > Gandhinagar > Udaipur > Ranakpur > Chittorgarh > Ajmer > Jaipur > Delhi

It was a whirlwind drive that took us out of the labyrinthine roads of Udaipur to the expansive hill fort of Chittorgarh, to the crowded Ajmer Sharif and finally halted at a modest accommodation in Jaipur all in one day. We drove close to 200 miles, spent decent time in each of the four cities and still managed a breakfast and a dinner.

Way to Ajmer Sharif

Friday, 20 June 2014

Jain Temple, Ranakpur

Google Maps: Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India
  • Ranakpur is 50 miles from Udaipur. A private vehicle will be handy to cover nearby Kumbhalgarh Fort as well in a single day. Start early.
  • The Jain Temple does not allow entry in shorts or half pants hence dress fully. The campus also offers delicious thali at bare minimum charges.
  • Do take an SLR to capture the intricate marble work. You need to pay nominal camera charges along with entry fee, all of which goes to maintain this magnificent structure.

The next morning we started for Ranakpur. It's 90 km from Udaipur through a tortuous but smooth road mostly into hills. The place is famous for Ranakpur Jain Temple which has exquisite carvings on marble. Whatever we had heard about this place was going to be dwarved by what we were going to witness.

Elaborate ceiling carvings @ Ranakpur

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Baijnath

Google Maps: Baijnath, Uttarakhand, India
Trip: Delhi > Nainital > Kausani > Baijnath > Delhi

We reached Baijnath at around 10 from Kausani. Breakfast on the way was complimented with a breathtaking morning view of Nanda Devi range from our table and that made our day. Baijnath was the bonus.

Fishes in the flowing river @ Baijnath Temple