India and Nepal

How to do Bollywood Party Dance Moves

On my first trip to India in 1979 I was on an adventure, after finishing work in London I travelled overland to Nepal and continuing home to Townsville, Australia via South-East Asia. I made life long friends on a trip that I will never forget.

INDIA – ayurvedic medicine,  holy cows, beeping horns

Amritsar – Golden Temple, a sikh urdwara that sits in the middle of the sacred lake, hear the chants of the monks

Delhi – this chaotic city leaves a lasting impression, a mix of sound, smell and colour. There is lots to see and do, stroll Old Delhi’s narrow alleyways that overflow with exotic sights, Connaught Place, Indian Parliament, Raj Ghat crematin and memorial site of Mahatma Gandhi, Red Fort, India Gate, Jama Masjid Mosque, Humayun’s Tomb which is the resting place of Humayan, Sikh temple, iron pillar, bazaars and enjoying interacting with locals.  About an hour’s drive from the airport is the sacred Hindu temple Swaminarayan Akshardham, the Divine Abode of God.  The capital of India, it has been the seat of power of a number of dynasties – the Rajputs, the Afghans, the Turks and the Mughals who continued their imperial line until the British.

There are lots of choices for shopping such as Delhi art markets, Delhi Haat, 95 Shamboo Dayal Bagh, Old Ishwar Nagar, OkhlaNew Delhi, India.  This outdoor arts and crafts market is a fabulous place to find textiles, quilts, scarves and “stoles” which are produced in rural areas and brought in to the city. Vendors change every 15 days so the energy is always fresh.

The History of dillihaat tells us that it was established and opened in 1994 with the joint venture of Delhi Tourism (DTDC), D.C (Handicrafts), NMDC, D.C. (Handlooms) and Ministry of Tourism and Textile, Government of India.  In 2003 this market became accessible to all the tourists and it also had bathroom that was made accessible at the same time. Delhi has two such markets one is Dillihaat and another one is Pitampura. Both the markets are developed by DTTDC.

DLF Emporia is a high-street shopping mall situated Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. Reported to feature over 130 brands including 70 international brands, like Gucci, Jimmy choo,Versace, Michael kors, Missoni, BCBG, cartier, tom ford, tod’s and some indian brands like Ogaan, Ritu Kumar, Varun Bhal.  The mall has been designed by architect Mohit Gujral and Chandu Chadha in Italian marble, burnished wood, and gleaming brass detailing. DLF Emporio has four floors including Ground Floor and comprises an area of 320,000-square-foot (30,000 m2). It was opened in August 2008.The

Spice Route – South-East Asian Restaurant, The Imperial, New Delhi.

Agra – former Mughal capital, home of the breathtaking Taj Mahal, which became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983 built by the former emperor Shah Jahan in honour of his true love Mumtai Jahal, with its changing colours, sparkling marble, inlaid jade, crystal and sapphires. We  saw the Taj Mahal with the full moon.  Agra Fort on the banks of the Yamuna river is a UNESCO world heritage site and another monumental mission accomplished by the great Mughal visionary Emperor Akbar.

Varanasi – one of India’s most sacred cities in the state of Uttar Pradesh and one of the worlds oldest cities with a maze of of cobblestoned narrow streets, shops, stalls and holy rituals.  The ultimate destination for thousands of Hindu pilgrims with its temples, shrines and sacred sites, trip on the Ganges River and watching devotions of faith as the sun rises.  Life in Varanasi revolves around the ghats along the River Ganges.  Sarnath is the deer park located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi where Buddha preached his first sermon to five disciples.

Sonauli Indo-Nepal border and transit point

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NEPAL 1979 – crossing the river  from India, passing through rice terraces, deep gorges, pounding rivers and seeing the heights of snow-capped Himalayan peaks.  There is the Narayan River or Gandaki River and the junction with the Seit Gandhi River.

Annapurna MountainRangePokara

Pokhara – the second largest City in Nepal, beneath the snow capped peaks of the Annapurna Range, former trade route between India and Tibet. Hotel Crystal, Nagdhunga.

Katmandu – capitol with colourful bazaars, rickshaws, spectacular temples, Kumari Devi in durbar square (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Swayambhunath or monkey temple, cultural centre, narrow lanes, carved balconies, cycling to neighbouring towns, Katmandu valley

Patan, Bhaktapur, Boudhanath, Kopan Monastery,

Nagarkot – sunrise view of the Himalaya including Mount Everest for Christmas.

Barabise, Tatopani, Kadari on the Nepal-China border and friendship bridge to Khasa.

Watching the sunrise over Mt Everest, panoramic views of the Himalayas, walking around the slow-paced local villages, terraced rice paddies and hillsides.

Trip to the Tibetan boarder

Later visits to India have been with my Sahaja Yoga friends and we have travelled to many parts of the country and have included a trip to Dharamsala.

HIMACHAL PRADESH – northern India,  Hima means snow in Sanskrit, and the literal meaning of the state’s name is In the lap of Himalayas

Dharamsala, mountain roads on the way to Talnoo, one of the highest points in the region and in the foothills of the Himalayan ranges called Dhaulagiri

January & November 1994, March & December 1997, 2002, 2007

December 1994

Delhi –  Nizamuddin, Connaught Place, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Chandigarh, Ambala, Agnikund, Yamuna Nagar, Dehradun, Haridwar, Faridabad, Gurgaon,

RAJASTHAN – largest state in India and land of kings, culture, art, jewellery, textiles and craft

Jaipur – founded by Raja Jai Singh is the pink city and capital of Rajasthan, Amber Palace and Fort,  Hawa Mahal Palace of the Winds, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Central Museum, Dolls Museum, Jawahar Kala-kendra, Statue Circle, Janter-Manter, City Palace and Museum.

Bikaner,

Jodhpur – the blue city,

Jasalmare,

Chittodgadh – Fort, Vijay Stambh, Kirti Stambh, Rama Kumbha’s Palace, Padmini Palace, Merra and Kumbha Shyam Temple, Kalika Mata Temple, Museum and Art Galleries.

Mount Abu – the highest point of the Aravalli range passing through Rajasthan, 1,200 metres. Lake Nakki, Adhar Devi Temples, Gaumukh Temples, Shri Raghunath Ji Temple, Guru Shikhar (Shri Adi Guru Duttatreya meditated here), Achalgarh (Shiva Temple).

Rajkote, Chorwad, Somnath,

Ahmedabad  – largest city of Gujarat, Vishalla Restaurant

Ganapatipule, Kalwa

December 1997 

Delhi – historical sites, museums and markets of silks and spices, central cottage industries emporium

Nagpur including a visit to the temple in Ramtek and picnic beside the lake.

Hyderabad and Secunderabad visiting Charminar and Salarajung Museum, Golkonda Fort and handicraft stalls

Chennai the bustling city previously known as Madras, including a visit to the Kala Kshetra and Marina Beach

Kochi formerly Cochin originally built by the Portuguese has a natural harbour with lagoons, canals and fishing hamlets. India’s oldest European church, mosques and synagogues, mix of Portuguese homes, English manors and Chinese fishing nets lining the harbour shores, Kathakali dance.

Kerala, travelling by boat past the palm tress, rice fields, coconut groves, see rural life on the back waters and lush waterways

Bangalore – Sri Dodda Ganesha Temple, Sri nandi Temple, Sri Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple, Lalbagh Botanical Garden, visiting the world famous stone carvings of Belur and music and dance

Miraj

Ganpatiphule

Kalwe

India – December 2007

Mumbai – cosmopolitan,  bustling markets and bazaars, gateway of India, Chowpatty Beach,  Elephanta Caves 

Pune

Ajanta

Aurangabad – Ellora Caves, Kailasa Temple

Saptashringi

Nashik

Nargol

India – December 2007 to January 2008

It is getting more difficult to find duty free rolls of film for my trusted film camera.  Flight was late leaving Sydney, ran into my work colleague, Amrita at the gate who was heading home to spend time with her family.  Had a great seat on my direct flight to Mumbai, 23K, first row in economy, window and enjoyed watching the Hindi movie with the lady sitting next to me. Off the flight at the head of the line and meet by Arji and James.

MUMBAI

Mumbai, formerly called Bombay, is a sprawling, densely populated city on India’s west coast. On the Mumbai Harbour waterfront stands the iconic Gateway of India stone arch, built by the British Raj in 1924. Offshore, nearby Elephanta Island holds ancient cave temples dedicated to Shiva. The city is also famous as the heart of the Hindi-language Bollywood film industry.

Elephanta Caves:  The ‘City of Caves’, on an island in the Sea of Oman close to Bombay, contains a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave.

Essel World:  is an amusement park located in Gorai, Mumbai and established in 1989. The park is owned by Pan India Paryatan Pvt. Ltd.. EsselWorld along with its counterparts, Water Kingdom are stretched over 64 acres of land.

Gateway of India:  is a monument built during the British Rule in Mumbai City of Maharashtra state in Western India . It is located on the waterfront in the Apollo Bunder area in South Mumbai and overlooks the Arabian Sea.

Juju Beach:  is a suburb of Mumbai and among the most affluent areas of the city and home to many Bollywood celebrities.

Shivaji Park, Dadar, Mumbai.   Ajit introduced Sachin Tendulkar to cricket in 1984, to Ramakant Achrekar, a famous cricket coach and a club cricketer of repute, at Shivaji Park, Dadar.

Day One of tour.  We started our trip by travelled through Pali, Shri Ballaleshwar, Lonavla and Mahad, Shri Varada Vinayak and onto Pune, through the mountains in Maharashtra State.

Day Two:  visiting Pratishthan, Pune before travelling onto The Shri Chintamani Temple of Theur one of the larger and more famous of the Ashtavinayaka, the eight revered shrines of Shri Ganesh in the Indian state of Maharashtra.  Morgaon, Shir Ganesha Temple, Mayureshwar, the starting and ending point of a pilgrimage of eight revered Shri Ganesha temples called Ashtavinayaka then onto and Darshan, Mahaganpati. The Mahaganapati Ashtavinayak Temple is known to have been built by the Peshwas. During the Bhadrapada Shuddha Pratipada the ‘Dwaryatra’ is held where the palanquin of Lord Ganesh is taken to different places in the village.

Day Three:  Ranjangaon, Shri Mahaganapati Temple, AhmednagarNevasa and Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

Day Four:  Ellora Caves, one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple caves complexes in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The site presents monuments and artwork of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism from the 600-1000 CE period.  Cave 16 of Ellora features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Shiva. The Kailasha temple excavation also presents the gods, goddesses and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism and relief panels summarising the two major Hindu Epics.

Trimbakeshwar Shive Temple is an ancient Hindu temple in the town of Trimbak, in the Trimbakeshwar tehsil in the Nashik District of Maharashtra, India, 28 km from the city of Nashik and 40 km from nashik road. It is dedicated to the god Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.

Jnaneshwar Udyan or Dnyaneshwar Udyan Garden also known as Paithan garden, Saint Dnyaneshwar garden is a garden in Maharashtra resembling the Brindavan Gardens near Mysore.  It was built in the 1970s by the state government, located in the ancient town of Paithan which is 40 km south of Aurangabad. Out of an area of 125 hectares, orchids cover 26 hectares and 28 hectares are laid out as parks. Colourful flowerbeds, vast lawns and musical fountains are the attractions of the udyan. Ten plazas and twenty-two fountains are added features. More than a hundred thousand trees, in addition to the forty thousand fruit trees are the pride of the garden. There is a nursery selling saplings and spices. It has a children’s play area, swimming pool and boat rides. It is named after the saint Jnaneshwar, whose native village was near Pathan.  The garden houses an archaeological museum named ‘History Researcher Balasaheb Patil Antique Goods Museum’ which exhibits ancient weapons of satvahan dynasty, sculptures, manuscripts, ancient coins and their castings, antique ornaments, handwriting of Maharaj Chhatrapati Shivaji etc.

Jayakwadi Garden

Day Five: Ajanta Caves are about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE.  The caves include paintings and rock cut sculptures described as among the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art, particularly expressive paintings that present emotion through gesture, pose and form.  The caves were built in two phases, the first group starting around the 2nd century BC, while the second group of caves built around 400–650 CE according to older accounts, or all in a brief period of 460 to 480 according to Walter M. Spink.  The site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India, and since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Ajanta Caves constitute ancient monasteries and worship halls of different Buddhist traditions carved into a 250 feet wall of rock.  The caves also present paintings depicting the past lives and rebirths of the Buddha, pictorial tales from Aryasura’s Jatakamala, as well as rock-cut sculptures of Buddhist deities in vogue between the 2nd century BCE and 5th century CE.  While vivid colours and mural wall painting were abundant in Indian history as evidenced by historical records, Caves 16, 17, 1 and 2 of Ajanta form the largest corpus of surviving ancient Indian wall-painting’

The Ajanta Caves site are mentioned in the memoirs of several medieval era Chinese Buddhist travelers to India and by a Mughal era official of Akbarera in early 17th century.  They were covered by jungle until accidentally “discovered” and brought to the Western attention in 1819 by a colonial British officer on a tiger hunting party.  The Ajanta caves are located on the side of a rocky cliff that is on the north side of a U-shaped gorge on the small river Waghur, in the Deccan plateau. Further round the gorge are a number of waterfalls, which when the river is high are audible from outside the caves.

Day Six:  Shirdi, is famously known as the home of the late 19th century saint Sri Sai Baba. The Sri Saibaba Sansthan Trust also located in Shirdi is one of the richest temple organisations.  Time for shopping.

Day Seven:  Saptashrungi, climbing over 500 steps and well worth it. A site of Hindu pilgrimage situated 60 kilometres from Nashik.  According to Hindu traditions, the goddess Saptashrungi Nivasini dwells within the seven mountain peaks. (Sapta means seven and shrungmeans peaks.) It is located in Nanduri, Kalwan taluka, a small village near Nashik in India. The temple is also known popularly as one of the “three and half Shakti Peethas” of Maharashtra, one among the 51 Shakti Peethas located on the Indian subcontinent and is a location where one of Sati’s (first wife of Lord Shiva) limbs, her right arm is reported to have fallen.

Great stalls and shopping around the village.

Nasik  is situated at the foothills of the Western Ghats mountains on the banks of the river Godavari.  At 700 m (2,300 ft) above sea level, its elevation is highest among the major cities in Maharashtra and one of the highest among million plus cities in India.

Day Eight:  Trimbakeshwar or Tryambakeshwar is an ancient Hindu temple in the town of Trimbak and dedicated to the god Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.  Trimbakeshwar is also the origin of river Godavari. Trimbakeshwar is one of the 12 jyotirlingas (and the eighth one in the series) of Lord Shiva and this one is considered to be the main jyotirlinga.

Nargol is a village located in the southern region of the Indian state of Gujarat near the Maharashtra border, on the Arabian Sea coast. Nargol beach is dotted with Casuarina trees and the waters have a population of sea turtles.  Nargol has great importance for the followers of Sahaja Yoga. One of the Casuarina tree (or Saru tree) is called “Nirmal Tree” (“Nirmal Wriksh”).  The tree is a local sight and can be found nearby the beach.  According to the founder and spiritual leader of Sahaja Yoga, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, the Sahasrara chakra was opened in Nargol in the year 1970 under that tree, thus marking the beginning of Sahaja Yoga. The forest land surrounding “Nirmal Tree” has been declared and inaugurated as “Nirmal Van” (“Pure Forest”) in an official ceremony on 2 March 2009 by representatives of the Indian government and other state authorities. The Forest Department protects it as Eco – Zone under, JFMC (South Valsad Forest Division of Gujarat State) for promotion of environmental awareness, ecotourism and peace project.

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