Pandukeshwar on way to Sri Badrinath

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Pandukeshwar is a small village 283 km from Rishikesh, 20 km from Joshimath , from Govindghat  it is 4 km,  Sri Badrinath Dham is about 25 kms from here. This place is also known as Yogadhayana Badri It is a winter seat of Sri Badrinath the Udhwa , there are two temples, the other one is the Vasudeva temple from here all the rituals are performed and when the summer comes the main idol of Udhwa is carried in a procession to the Sri Badrinath dham .

Pandukeshwar Temple

This village holds very important place in the legends of Mahabharata . It was established by King Pandu who had two wife , Kunti and Madri , while hunting King Pandu killed a male deer in mating , these deers were actually a Rishi Kindama  ( sage ) and his wife, the Rishi Kindama  before breathed last cursed Pandu that when ever he will approach a women with a desire to make love he will also die , King Pandu after reaching home narrated the story to his two wife and then denounced his kingdom, handed it over to his blind brother Dhrishtrastra , Pandu never wanted to die childless and expressed his desire to Kunti , she informed him about a boon which she had from Rishi Durwasa and used it to be mother of  Yudhistar by lord Dharma , Bhim by lord Vayu and Arjun by lord Vishnu, then she the taught Madri who had twins Nakul and Sehdev by lord Ashwin Kumars , thus the Pandvas were born here.

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Yatra Chardham for the year 2016

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 Yatra Chardham for the year 2016 starts from 08 MAY , Kapats ( Doors) opens Sri Yamunotri Dham 09 MAY  Sri Gangotri Dham on 09 MAY , Sri Kedarnath Dham on 10 MAY and Sri Badrinath Dham on 11 MAY

The Yatra Chardham which is the devout wish of an any Sanatan Hindu , Shivaite or Vishnuite is done in the Gharwal region of Uttrakhand state of North India, since 1980 we are making the travel arrangements for pilgrims in this area, I have seen the Senior Citizens accompanying their families and trying to keep a pace with the youngsters to make their pilgrimage to these holy places, not knowing about the difficulties, unpredictable weather and the high altitude sickness because of thin air and less oxygen,  in travel and quite often it is the high emotional feeling of doing it by foot as a devotional duty towards the God.

Puja at Hardwar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entire journey which is performed by the people from all over India gathers at Haridwar or Rishikesh starts the 12 -14 days journey within the Himalayas with almost every day travelling around 200-250 kms. on single road which are prone to land slides, falling rocks, heavy rains or may be simply the heavy traffic in both directions on road and once we reach the destination may be one is to wait in a queue to have a pooja or just a darshan of few minutes,  choice of food is the major problem, fresh vegetables and milk are rare, one is to compromise on whatever is available and most important the good comfortable place where one can have full rest at night and facilities of daily use.

Sri Badrinath Ji Temple at night

Quite often, Senior Citizens are unable to travel because someone from their family is not accompanying them, the entire  journey is comfortable and our experienced representative is with the Seniors, hiring of a vehicle with good ground clearance and comfortable seats, there are breaks in the journey at places where there are good facilities and good refreshments available, a prior information about the medical needs of person travelling, contacts of medical facilities available on the route which may be helpful in case of any emergencies. Food served on this route is vegetarian, the accommodations is on ground floor with hot water in the bathrooms, beds are soft and warm, places are at high altitude, heaters and fire in the rooms are not allowed, providing guests with hot water bottles to keep the body warm in the bed. Accommodations are selected close to the  roads .

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Jaisalmer | Kanoi Sand dunes

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Jaisalmer Kanoi Sand dunes are in West of Jaisalmer at about 35 Km.  This place is now the best location for the virgin Sand dunes away from the noise of main Jaisalmer – Sam Highway . These Sand Dunes were open as new destination for the visitors in the year 2014.

Camel cart and Camels at Kanoi Sand dunes

The villagers of Kanoi are taking care of this area by not letting it littered by self and the tourists , the camel men and the cart men carry a bag with them and collect all the garbage , keep it at one place at the camel boarding point to be disposed off in a proper way .

Camels and Desert Spring Camp Kanoi , Jaisalmer

In the vicinity of Kanoi village there is only one camp called the Desert Spring , staff is well-trained and also training the local villagers about the Eco – friendly daily products , protection of Wild life and Sand Dunes of Kanoi 

Sunset at Sand dunes of Kanoi , Jaisalmer

The weather and sand becomes cool as soon as sunsets in the West and  best thing about this place is that there are no man made obstructions which are an eyesore in the natural view. Kalbelia dancers and Mirasis singers are present here to have a private exclusive  performance at a Sand Dune selected by you with your own privacy .

Virgin Sand at Kanoi Sand dunes , Jaisalmer

The only place to stay near Kanoi Sand Dunes is the Desert Spring Camp , it has 11 Royal Tents and 15 Comfort tents with Rajasthani folk dances , Puppet show and Manganiyar singing the Rajasthani folk songs . One can enjoy the Sunset and Sunrise in the desert from here.

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Somnath Temple , Gujarat

The Somnath Temple , Gujarat also mentioned as Deo Pattan, Prabhas Pattan, or Somnath Pattan is situated in Prabhas Kshetra , of Viraval town on the South – West cost of Gujarat state  of India  , is one of the twelve Jotirlings Shrine of Lord Shiva , the location of this temple, Strange but fact , it lies in a straight line to South Pole, in between  there is only water. no land mass other than the Antarctica ice in between .

                                                      
Somnath Temple Gujarat

 The research done by the Vadic Shodh Sanatan Varanasi on ancient Hindu Puranas (classical text) Prabhas Khand of Skandh Puran. The first Jyotirling Pran Pratistha at Somnath Temple was performed on the third day of Shukla Paksha of Shravan month of the 10th Treta Yug of  Vaivaswati Manvantar i.e. over 70 million years ago .

 

Somnath Temple at night

The present temple structure was constructed over the ruins of the old temple, the reconstruction, the pran pratishtha was done on 11 May 1951 by the then President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad, it was completed and dedicated to the worshipers on 1st December 1995 by the then President of India Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma .

According to legends the first temple was built by Lord Chandra (Moon God) to be relieved from the curse of his father-in-law, Dakasha Prajapati, whose 27 daughter was married to Chandra. Because of curse, Lord Chandra had lost its luster. Then advice from Lord Brahma, Chandra  worship Lord Shiva at this place (Prabhas Tirtha). Pleased with the devotion and (penance) Tapasya Lord blessed him to be partly relieved from the curse , which resulted in fifteen days of reducing shine (Krishna Paksha) and fifteen days for increase in shine ( Shulka Paksha ) In praise , Lord Chandra built a temple in gold. It is said Ravana the king of Lanka and devotee of Lord Shiva built it in silver followed by Lord Krishna built the temple in sandalwood and in the 10th century it was rebuilt in stone by King Bhimdev Solanki.

Somnath Temple in the morning

This temple Somnath (the protector of Moon God) and “The shrine eternal” although the temple has been destroyed six times, it has been rebuilt every time. “The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction”

It is said Lord Brahama installed a Bharama Shila and paved way for the construction of the temple. It is also said the Lord Chandra and the other Deva’s requested Lord Shiva to be known as Somchandra and reside in the form of Jotirlinga here eternally.

There are other significant places as per Hindu mythology to visit are Bhalka Tirath , here Lord Krishna was shot by an arrow in his foot, this place have a temple and a legendary tree under which Lord Krishna was taking rest .

Hiran , Kapila and Saraswati Triveni Ghat

Triveni Ghat where three rivers Hiran , Kapila and legendry Saraswati meets . The temple built by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore , The cave dedicated to Lord Krishna’s brother Balram , where he transformed into a snake and went to Patal Lok. A cave and a temple dedicated to  Adi Shankaracharya where he meditated more than thousand years ago .

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Ramabhar Stupa,Kushinagar Lord Buddha’s Cremation site

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Ramabhar Stupa Kushinagar Lord Buddha’s Cremation site .

It is said that Lord Buddha died at the age of Eighty One years, on a full moon night . It is believed that  Lord  Buddha’s complexion became prodigiously brilliant both on eve of his Enlightenment and Nirvana. After the Mid night,Lord Buddha called up his disciples thrice, and asked if there were any confusions remaining with regard to the Buddhist doctrine. Receiving silence as reply, Buddha gave the famous advice “impermanence is inherent in all things. Work out your own salvation with diligence”. After this last sermon Lord Buddha entered Mahaparinirvana through meditation, the monks spent the rest of the night discussing the Dhamma. Over the next few days, the Mallas made elaborate preparations for the cremation of the Buddha’s body, and then on the seventh day the body was taken out of the town to the Makuta Bandhana Shrine and cremated.

Ramabhar Stupa , the Cremation site of Lord Buddha, Kushinagar

Ramabhar Stupa , the Cremation site of Lord Buddha, Kushinagar

It is said that the pyre was not burnt until Mahakashyapa, the great disciple of Lord Buddha, arrived and when he stepped into the cremation ground, the pyre burnt automatically. Surprisingly, only the skull bone, teeth and the inner and outer burial garment remained after the cremation,  the holy relics had to be divided into eight folds and eight great Stupas were built to house them. These relics were yet again subdivided, when Emperor Ashoka decided to build 84,000 Stupas,  the relics are contained in many Stupas.

Buddhist Monk at Ramabhar Stupa , Kushinagar

Buddhist MonkatRamabhar Stupa ,Kushinagar

Hirannavati River , near Ramabhar Stupa
Bank of Hirannavati River  near Ramabhar Stupa

Ramabhar Stupa, measuring a height of 49 feet, is the place where the Lord Buddha was cremated. This Stupa is mentioned as Mukut-Bandhan Vihar in ancient Buddhist transcripts.

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Matha Kuar Shrine, Kushinagar

Matha Kuar Shrine – by the side of the road is  a colossal statue of Buddha locally called Matha Kuar.  The statue measures 3.05 meter in height and this carved out one block of blue stone of Gaya region to represent Gautam  Buddha seated under the Bodhi Tree in a pose known as the Bhumsparsva Mudra   which symbolically expresses the supreme moment in the  Gautam’s  life just before his enlightenment to  become the Buddha , when He called upon the earth to bear witness to the pities performed by him in his previous birth.

Blue Stone Lord Buddha statue Bhumi Sparsh Mudra

Blue Stone Lord Buddha statue Bhumi Sparsh Mudra

During Buddha’s lifetime, Kushinara ( Kushinagar), as it was then called, was a small town in the kingdom of the Mallas, surrounded by a thick forest cover. It remained forgotten until the late nineteenth century, when archaeologists rediscovered the site, and began excavations.

The inscription at the base of statue is dates back to the 10th or 11th Century A.D. The name of the Stupa implies the “dead prince”. The statue was found by the Archaeologist Carlleyle in late 1870s, as broken pieces, after the statue  being restored the temple was built by Myanmar pilgrims in 1927 to shelter the statue.

 

Information on stone plate

Information on Stone Plate

This place is  is also believed to be the one where Lord Buddha delivered his last sermon.

 

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Mandavi Beach, Vijay Vilas Palace, Kutch

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Mandavi is situated about 56 km from Bhuj  is about 400 years old city on the banks of Rukmavati river and touches the Gulf of Kutch established by the first Jadeja ruler Rao Khengar Ji , city got its name after  legendary Rishi ( Sage) Mandavya of Mahabharata  who lived here.  It was once a major port of the region and  has a very pleasant climate throughout the year it was a  summer retreat for Maharao (King) of the Kutch. Mandvi is a unique town which captures the true Gujrati – Kutch culture .

Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandavi, Kutch, Gujarat

Vijay Vilas Palace – Constructed in 1920 the palace is of Rajput architecture and plan is similar to Orcha and Datia palaces , set in the middle of well-laid gardens with water channels and marble fountains. This palace has been used in many Hindi films .

Tented Accommodation safe and close to nature

 

Natural surrounding , private and secure

The Vijay Vilas Palace owned and operated by the family of erstwhile Maharaja of Kutch  has its own private beach which offers air-conditioned tented accommodation. Being private with conditional access it is a must visit for all beach lovers who want to enjoy their privacy and admire its Eco-friendly layout , can have a barbecue on the beach yards away from the sea.

Private Beach shallow blue water

 

On the beach bar-be-que and restaurant

The beach is  with a difference, it is huge,clean and empty and one can walk for miles. The water here is very shallow, one can walk into the waters for quite a distance, and the water will still be below the waist, this makes it wonderful and safe for the kids , they can be left to play by themselves.

Cost effective and still virgin area as far as tourism is concerned one enjoys the royal luxuries away from the noise and fast moving metro life .

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Dandi Hanuman Ji Temple, Bet Dwarka, Gujarat

Dandi Hanuman Ji temple is situated in Bet Dwarka island about 5 km from the main temple of Lord Krishna , this temple is unique as it is the only temple where Lord Hanuman Ji  though Brhamchari ( bachelor)  is with his son Makardhwaj , without his Mugdhar (Mace). It is a small temple at a spot where Lord Hanuman Ji met his son for the first time  in the sands of Gulf of Kutch at the entrance of Patal lok

Dandi Hanuman Ji Temple Bet Dwarka , Gujarat

The image of Makardhwaj is on the left side taller than his father Lord Hanuman  on a closer look one finds Makardhwaj image is full but Hanuman Ji is shown above the thighs between the two there is one Dand (club)  instead of Gada (mace). Makardhwaj left leg is little raised and crushing a demons skull  tail is resting on ground. Right hand is raised above the shoulder in blessing form and left hand is on chest / heart Lord Hanuman Ji right hand is raised above the shoulder and resting on the back of head, left hand is resting on chest/heart , tail is raised above the right shoulder and face is shown in a relaxed mood.

Makardhwaj and Dandi Hanuman Ji , Bet Dwarka , Gujarat

The legend is that  at the time of Ram and Ravan battle , the twin step brothers Ahi Ravan and Mahi Ravan of Ravan disguised them self as Vibhishan and Jamvant , kidnapped Lord Ram and Laxman and took them to Paatal Lok to sacrifice them to their deity , Lord Hanuman went in search and reached the Paatal entrance where he was challenged by a Vanara ( monkey) , upon asking who he is he identified himself as son of Lord Hanuman Ji . Hnuman Ji was Bharamchari ( bachlor ) upon asking him if he ever met his father and how he is father because he is a bachelor , Makardhwaj replied that when Hanuman Ji burnt Lanka with his tail and went to the sea to dip his tail in the water to extinguish the fire at that time the sweat from his body dropped and a  it was swallowed by a Magar (Crocodle ) and he was born in the kitchen of his foster mother Chandersena  who is in service of  the demon twin brothers and he is also employed by them to not to allow any one to enter the Paatal Lok , at this point Lord Hanuman Ji gave his introduction and wanted to enter , hearing the noise Chandersena came out and upon knowing the story agreed to help Lord Hanuman Ji  and after killing the twin brothers Lord Hanuman Ji bring Lord Ram and Laxman back to the safe place , before leaving, upon the request of Chandersena they made Makardhwaj the King of Paatal Lok .

Legend is Lord Krishna requested Lord Hanuman Ji and his son Makardhwaj to take care of security of Bet Dwarka .

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Lakhpat City, Kutch,Gujarat

Lakhpat once a port on the Arabian sea at the junction of Kori creek and Rann of Kutch. It was abandoned after the 1819 AD strong earthquake which changed the flow of  Sindhu (Indus) River  towards further North and a natural dam known as the Allahbund  was formed due to which the Great Rann got dried up . It is in north-west corner of Kutch is an almost dilapidated old town that speaks of a glorious past. Lakhpat, the literal meaning of which is city of millionaires is now nothing, but a small village that is inhabited by a few hundreds and serves as an outpost of the India Border Security Force ( BSF) facing Pakistan. If weather is clear one can see the notorious Harami Nalah from the post

Bhuj waro Nako , Entrance Lakhpat town , Kutch, Gujarat

Lakhpat is surrounded by a 7 km fortified wall , believed to have been built by Rao Lakhpatji in the middle of the 18th century and extended further under the supervision of the Army Commander Fatheh Mohmmad in 1801 AD. to defend the kingdom as well as the port from invasions by Sindhi rulers, the walls of the fort are still intact for the most part. The Bhuj Waro Nako , gate opens towards Bhuj , collection on Toll both here  from the  visitors and traders was 1 Lakh Kori to the Lakhpat town , it was well guarded by soldiers. Near Lakhpat was Koteri (Kotri) a landing place on the bank of river  Sindhu ( Indus ) where  ferryboats regularly sailed ,  loaded with cattle and merchandise. From Koteri, the goods were transported on camels to the eastern part of the Indus delta, and distributed throughout the inhabited districts of the Thar.

 

Lakhpat , fortified walls , Rann Kutch Kori creek side

Guru Nanak Dev ji stayed at Lakhpat  during his trips to Mecca and Medina (Saudi Arabia). This place was a  seat of the Udasi Panth until 1972 under the Last Sevadar Baba Mool Dass Hari Dass . ( Udasi Panth  was founded by Sri Chand son of Guru Nanak Dev Ji  ) . Rare treasures are  preserved  including the “Charan Paduka” – Khadvas (wooden footwear) that belonged to Guru Nanak Dev ji.  The present structure is plastered and painted but old wooden doors, pillars and roof are intact and converted into a Gurudwara , there are few lines scripted in LariGurmukhi on walls, it came out when layers of plaster was removed, this script is no more in use. In 16th century it was an important departure point for Muslims making Hajj to Medina and Mecca  at that time Lakhpat was known as “Basta Bander”

Gurudwara Lakhpat , Kutch, Gujarat

A Sufi Saint Pir Gaus Mohammad equally respected by Hindu and Muslim community A Thirteenth Hijra century poet- lived in Lakhpat, Kutch, Sindh. He passed away in 1873 AD / 1290 AH  he was known as a great healer and for his songs about Lord Krishna. Pir Manthar Shah was a contemporary poet and an associate to Pir Ghous Mohammed also lived in Lakhpat . A black stone structure is having beautiful carvings ,  It is an octagonal, domed structure with four entrances, the inner walls are decorated with verses from the Koran using beautiful calligraphy.

 

                                                                       
Pir Gaus Mohammad Tomb / Kuba

There another beautiful white stone carvings  tomb of  Hazrat Pir Abu Turab Kadri with Central big dome and eight smaller domes , beautiful wooden carved doors and Jalis , he died in 1236 AH

Tomb of Hazrat Pir Shah Abu Turab Kadri

 

Hatkeshwar Temple Lakhpat , Gujarat

Hatkeshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva  houses fossilized shells . There are three Talavs (Water bodies) inside the fort  Brahmasar, Nagrai and Champasar ,  the first  two when over flowed  fill the third. All the Talavs receives fresh rainwater and has been a source of drinking water the first two Talav were used for bathing and washing purposes. Champasar Talav water was used for cattle and animals .

There are about 70 Muslim families and 10 Hindu families  living in Lakhpat and all Muslim and Hindu festivals are celebrated together , in particular the Navaratri festival when the entire Lakhpat performs the Dandia dances together for eight nights as told  by Abu Bhai only postman of  Lakhpat , till 2005 there was a post office which is now shifted to Gadudi 20 km away, most of the families are in fishing and few are in agriculture job .

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Man Mandir , Fort Gwalior

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Gwalior Fort built in 8 th Centenary over a sand stone steep rock hill , the earlier records mention 525 AD King Mihirkul and Teli Ka Mandir of 875 AD structures in this area but fort came in existence during the Pal Dynasty of Kachwaha Rajput his 86 generations ruled over 989 years. Pratihar Dynasty ruled for Seven generations, then in 1196 AD there was Turk ruler Qutub ud Din Aibek and Iltumish had a control at this fort , it was taken under control from them by  Narasingh Rao  .

Man Mandir, Gwalior Fort

Tomar Rajputs took over in 1398 AD and held it till 1576 AD , in between Ibrahim Lodhi , Babur , Humayun , Sher Shah Suri and Adil Shah Suri for some time had control . It was Hemu ( Hem Chandra Vikrmaditya ) attacked Adil Shah Suri from here .

Mughal rulers made it a prison for the political prisoners and carried  assassination of many Mughal  family members .

Jats from Gohad ruled  here from 1740 to 1783 , Maratha leader Maha Ji Shinde in 1844 AD finally got it from the British East India Company .

Blue Paint , Man Mandir , Gwalior Fort

The main decoration and additions were done during the Raja Man Singh Tomar’s period 1486 AD-1516 AD , Man Mandir and Gujri Mahal were added , the Jahangir Mahal and the Shah Jahan Mahal were also added to commemorate the visit of Mogul Kings,  wonderful architecture,and beautiful art work done on its front as well as some interior walls. Surrounded by concrete walls of sandstone, the Gwalior Fort encloses three temples, 6 palaces and several water tanks. The Fort also contains many other marvels of medieval architecture. The Gujari Mahal is one such structure whose outer covering has survived the many battles the Fort has encountered. The main attraction is the Blue Tiles used and rows of yellow ducks, Banana Trees , Tiger and Elephants at outer walls and many other places , which is is actually a paint on the wall with different layers . 

Plate representing Aura of Sun , Man Mandir Gwalior fort

Gujari Mahal was built by Raja Man Singh for his wife Mrignayani who was a Gurjar Girl from a nearby village , she demanded a independent Palace and water for daily use  from Rai River near her village as a marriage condition .

Royal Private Chambers, Man Mandir , Gwalior Fort

The Jauhar Kund, which marks the spot where the women of the harem burnt themselves to death after the defeat of the King of Gwalior in 1232.

Royal Chambers decorated Ceiling, Man Mandir , Gwalior Fort

 

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