Shivkhori, Katra, Jammu Taxi Service

 

Shiv Photo: Shiv Khori Temple

Katra is base camp for the 14 km uphil trek  for Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, it is 50 km by road from Jammu , this place is also well connected to Patni Top and Shivkhori , regular buses and taxi service are available from the Jammu bus stand and railway station to Katra.

Shivkhori  in Ranso village ( Tehsil Reasi ) is 80 km from Katra , direct bus service up to Ranso and then one is to treak 3.5 km to reach the cave shrine. Shivkhori to Jammu is 130 km well connected road . Best way to perform this pilgrimage is to combine it with Mata Vaishno Devi visit .

Day 02 Leave early from Katra  for Shivkhori a 3 hrs drive crossing the Reasi bridge over the river Chenab upto Reasi  then to Ransoo village and then trek 3 km to the Cave shrine have darshan, after lunch leave for  Jammu  a 130 km drive takes around 3.30 – 4 hrs , one can take a return train / bus for onward destination in late evening .

Jammu railway station to Katra Katra to Shiv Khori and then to Jammu can be done in two nights  three days

Contact for more information +91-9810506646

Callers outside India +44 7700093414 

email: www.promark@promarktravels.com 

Contact for accomodations in Katra , helicopter service , taxi service and Tempo Traveller  promark@promarktravels.com

The Indian Aviation Crisis

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Indian Aviation in Crisis

It’s the irony of Indian aviation that despite a market growing at 18 per cent for last 11 months, five out of six Indian airlines are bleeding. If Air India was in the news for the last few months over the CAG report, aircraft purchases, and merger issues, Kingfisher Airlines has been in the focus in the last few days for flight cancellations, cash shortages, and survival fears.

Kingfisher hoped that the press interaction on November 15th would clear much of the negative air. The airline listed out a few options in its kitty to tide over the turbulent times. But the statement that the airline was “in discussions with a strategic Indian investor,” was perhaps, the most attractive of all solutions provided by the airline. After all, such an investor will certainly help the airline tide over its additional working capital need of Rs 800 crore and also address the issue of its nearly Rs 7,500 crore worth of debts.

Kingfisher’s chairman Vijay Mallya told Business Today that the strategic investor could put in upwards of Rs 1,000 crore in the airline. He also said that the airline has applied for working capital loans from banks worth Rs 600 crore. This will certainly provide the airline the much needed fresh lease of life. At least till the aircraft reconfiguration and route rationalisation measures start showing results.

But Kingfisher’s pains are mirrored -in a lesser extent- in the operations of its peers as well. All the three listed airline companies have shown a loss for the June to September period. High aviation fuel prices and depreciating rupee is where the blame has been assigned. Then there are policy issues, like high sales tax on aviation fuel and airlines having to fly unviable routes to develop connectivity in the country, that are adding to the hardship. Lastly, it’s the inability of Indian airlines to hike ticket prices that is hitting them the hardest.

Vijay Mallya, in his interaction with the press on November 15th, did admit that one way to fly Kingfisher out of the mess was to raise prices. But he also conceded that the airline had “got stuck” while trying to raise prices. Dinesh Keskar, India head for aircraft manufacturer Boeing, estimates that Indian carriers are under-cutting themselves by as much as Rs 1,000 on prime routes like Mumbai-Delhi.

It’s the way the market is structured that prevents any airline in India from raising prices. No airline owns a significant chunk of the market, which means that if one airline does try to hike fares and others don’t follow suit, its fliers will be easy business to its competitors. This means that no airline raises prices until it knows that others are likely to do the same.

So until one of them decided to turn bold, bank on its product and hike fares, airlines can merely hope for another consolidation -like how Jet Airways bought Air Sahara and Kingfisher Air Deccan and got some control over the market. Or they can hope for some relief in terms of economic conditions or policy changes.

Source
www.businesstoday.in

The Journey through The Sacred Land to Gangotri

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It was a special day, I had arrived from Jaipur to Delhi and was all set to depart for The Land of Gods and Goddesses, Uttarakhand. I was so excited in the train while travelling towards Delhi and couldn’t wait to start my journey. I reached Delhi and packed all my bags, took my camera, recharged all the batteries, emptied the memory cards and I was all set to leave. We left Delhi after lunch in our Scorpio Jeep driven by my father, who loves long drives especially in Himalayas, so I couldn’t even ask him for the wheel not even on the plain roads and spoil his ‘long drive‘. So I sat besides him and we departed from Delhi.

The Start of The Great Himalayas

Journey from Delhi to Haridwar was on NH-58 and that was our resting place, we spent a night there to begin our actual journey in the mountains as the plains end at Dehradun, in our original we had to take a road to Chamba but we took the road to Barkot, a longer route, we knew it’d take longer but we were excited to explore the other side too. There were beautiful waterfalls, bumpy broken roads, falling rocks, landslides, rubble over the roads. One can never cross these roads on a low rider vehicle. We had our Scorpio so it was an ease for us. Although we had to survive the jerks and vibrations which felt like as if my backbone rifted apart all together. We went past Dehradun and the Rajaji National Park stopped on the way to have some tea and breakfast. Went past Mussourie and The Kempti Falls, those are really beautiful falls but the natural beauty seems to be getting destroyed by the people. We didn’t stop for a second there and carried our journey further and got on to NH-123 and were heading towards Barkot.

On NH-123

On NH-123

Near Kempti Falls, Mussourie

Near Kempti Falls, Mussourie

The Alternate Route

This was a really tiring journey and we all were getting irritated as we had taken a long route due to which we reached about 5 hours late. But this tiring journey was full of Green Mountains, Valleys, Lovely River Banks, Waterfalls and hardly any cars on the road. We reached Barkot and gave second thoughts to continue our journey after seeing the direction board in the picture below which said Yamunotri to the left and Gangotri to the right. Stopped for few seconds and discussed about it, we chose Gangotri as it was planned as it was already late. All this time my mother was praying to the god that, we reach safely to the destination and back home, we both (me and papa) were getting irritated from that too but didn’t pay any minute attention towards that and she was so scared all the time that she was reminding papa to blow horn at every turn that we drove through.

The Barkot Bend

The Barkot Bend

The Last City: Uttarkashi

We were following River Bhagirathi all this time and were back on to NH-108 by entering into a tunnel which was built inside a mountain and lead directly to Uttarkashi, as the dark appeared slowly our average speed started declining. After Uttarkashi, there was no big city and we had to travel a long journey of about 75Kms to Harsil. After Uttarkashi, we were heading straight to Harsil, on the way we went past Maneri and the Maneri Dam Project which was built upon River Bhagirathi and the water was flowing out of the small gate at very high speed which was creating mist in the atmosphere and just stopped by to take some photographs, it was dark when we left Maneri. So with no further delay we moved on, the weather started to go down. I was just holding tightly to the handles and whatever I could hold onto to save myself from spinal pains.

Landscape along the River Bhagirathi

Landscape along the River Bhagirathi

River Bhagirahthi

River Bhagirathi

The Maneri Dam Project at Maneri, Uttarakhand

The Maneri Dam Project at Maneri, Uttarakhand

It was so dark, we could hardly see anything besides the road and the oncoming traffic whose frequency was like one car in 20 minutes. Those 75 Kms felt as if we were never going to reach Harsil that night. These 75 Kms on the plains seem just an hour drive but in the mountains it takes about 3-4 hours approximately on broken roads with rocks and pebbles all over. It was okay till now as the car stereo was playing nice music, the stereo mouth fell off due to the jerks and refused to join back as it broke off. After that it was a total silence in the car and still 50 Kms were left. I was just staring at the dark and the tiny lights on the mountains blinking all over the place, these were all small villages settled all over the mountains. This map helped us alot

The Route Map

Harsil

I was just watching the road and eventually we reached Harsil, our final destination for that day and we spent a night at nice cottages in The Harsil Retreat, owned by Mr Rajiv Mehta. We had dinner and went to sleep. It was really a tiring day but I didn’t felt anything by looking at the beauty of  The Great Himalayas.

Harsil Landscape

Harsil Landscape

Gangotri

Woke up early in the morning and had a bath with hot water, clicked photographs, had breakfast and departed for the sacred land Gangotri. The road from Harsil to Gangotri was plain with less landslides and rocks, it was clear at most places as it is maintained by the Army and Border Roads Organization. On the way to Gangotri, which was 25 Kms from Harsil and was a 1 hour drive, we saw the 10 rivers meeting into River Bhagirathi and a beautiful and is one of the deepest gorge in Asia and ‘one of its kind’ bridge which is built over this gorge. The vegetation was pine and deodar trees all over and we could see pine cones everywhere on the roads and the sideways. Finally we reached our final destination, Gangotri, The Origin of The Holy River Ganges

The Sacred Temple at Gangotri

The Sacred Temple at Gangotri

 

About the Author

[author]
[author_image timthumb=’on’]wp-content/uploads/authors/anuj-rajput.jpg[/author_image] Anuj is currently pursuing his Engineering Degree in Computer Sciences and has a keen interest in travelling to different places round the year. He also writes blogs and articles in many online blogs. Connect with him on Facebook (htttp://www.facebook.com/anujrajput) and Twitter (@AnujRajput)
[/author]

The Extraordinary Langar at Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar

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Bird's Eye View of The Harmandir Sahib

Harmander Saheb, if one keeps the religious fact aside, it is not easy job to serve a meal to thousands of people in a day and that too round-the-clock. Forty to fifty thousand people, on an average, have a meal at langar everyday at Harmandar Sahib. “On Sundays, festival days and Amasya, the number exceeds 1 lakh” says Jathedar Harpinder Singh, who is in charge of the langar.

Freedom of Food and the Golden Temple

It is the devotion and selfless service of the sewadars makes the job simple. There are 300 permanent sewadars who work at the langar. They knead dough, cook food, serve people and perform a number of other jobs. Also, there are a good number of volunteers, both men and women, who work in kitchen and langar hall. They also wash and wipe the utensils.

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The Golden Temple

The Preparation

The langar at Harmandar Sahib is prepared in two kitchens, which have 11 hot plates (tawi), several burners, machines for sieving and kneading dough and several other utensils. At one tawi, 15 people work at a time. It is a chain process – some make balls of dough, others roll rotis, a few put them on the tawi and rest cook and collect them. It is all done so meticulously that one is surprised to see that on one hot plate, in just two hours, over 20 kg of flour is used to make rotis.

The kitchen also has a roti-making machine, which was donated by a Lebanon-based devotee. The machine is, however, used only on days that are likely to witness huge crowds. The machine can make rotis of 20-kg flour in just half-an-hour. To get the flour, there are two machines in the basement of the langar hall and another that kneads one quintal of flour in just five minutes. It is this fine team of man and machine that makes it possible for the gurdwara to provide 24-hour langar on all days.

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Sewadars working in the Kitchen

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The Roti Making Machine

Resources

But, what about putting together the raw material? About 50-quintal wheat, 18-quintal daal, 14-quintal rice and seven quintal milk is the daily consumption in the langar kitchen. There are utensils that can store up to seven quintal of cooked daal and kheer at a time. Items needed in langar are bought in huge quantities from Delhi . The purchases mainly includes pulses, while other every-day requirements are met from the local market. A stock of all items is maintained for two months, “Desi Ghee comes from Verka Milk Plant in the city, the devotees also make donations for the langar. In a day, over eight quintals of sugar and seven quintals of dal is consumed .

“Besides dal-roti, kheer and karah prasad is prepared on alternate days. On an average, seven quintals of milk and an equal quantity of rice is needed to prepare kheer. On festive occasions, jalebis are also distributed. Every day over 100 gas cylinders are needed to fuel the kitchen. For making tea, 6 quintals of sugar and 20 kg of tea leaf are consumed,in the early morning meditation at the Harmandir Sahib. But, all this wouldn’t have been possible without the grace of Waheguru: “Loh langar tapde rahin” (may the hot plates of the langar remain ever in service) are the words that every devotee says in his prayers at the gurudwara.

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Langar Being Served

History

The practice of Guru ka langar was strengthened by the third Sikh Guru Amar Das Ji, langar or community kitchen was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status. In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of langar also aimed to express the ethics of sharing and oneness of all humankind. Langar Being Served On the other hand, following the principle of division of labour, the sewadars in the hall make sure that sangat gets the complete meal, from pickle to rice and dal. The whole thing is highly organised – from arranging the material to cooking and then serving.

After eating, the utensils are collected in one part of the hall in huge bins from where they are taken away for washing and stack them for the next sitting of langar the clockwork efficiency with which the kitchen is organised and the fact that all the people manning the kitchen are volunteers who are inspired to undertake the heavy labour by their religious convictions.” IN THY SERVICE Around 3,000 people are served meals at a go. It wouldn’t be possible without sewadars, who look for no return except Waheguru’s blessings.

 

About the Author

[author]
[author_image timthumb=’on’]wp-content/uploads/authors/anil-rajput.jpg[/author_image] Anil Kumar Rajput – Managing Director at Promark Travel, is in the travel trade since 1980. His belief in all religions and humanity makes him a loved person by people of all religions and all ages.  For more Info Do Visit (promarktravels.com) which caters all the travel needs of it’s clients. Connect with him on Facebook (htttp://www.facebook.com/anil.k.rajput) and Twitter (@PromarkTravels)
[/author]

A memorable trip to Ajanta & Ellora Caves

Before our visit to Aurangabad (the capital of Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb during his long sojourn in Deccan), Maharashtra during the first week of August 2011, the very name of Ajanta & Ellora caves would conjure an image of grand statues of Lord Buddha and his disciples, cut into gigantic hills. A google search before the visit informed me that Ajanta Caves are among 15 sites in India which are included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites (Ellora being another).

 

The Ajanta Caves

From Aurangabad where we based ourselves, Ajanta is a two-hour comfortable journey by road. Spread around a horse-shoe shaped mountain range, there are 29 caves in all, carved from 2nd century BC onwards upto 7th century AD . While few of them are chaitya-grihas (meditation halls), the rest are monasteries (resting places for the monks).

These caves remained hidden from human eyes for some 1100 years and were accidentally discovered in AD 1819 during an expedition by British soldiers in nearby mountains. On 28 April 1819, a British officer for the Madras Presidency, John Smith, while hunting tiger, accidentally discovered the entrance to one of the cave temples (Cave No. 9) deep within the tangled undergrowth. Shortly after this discovery, the Ajanta Caves became renowned for their exotic setting, impressive architecture, historic artwork, and long-forgotten history. All paintings show heavy religious influence and centre around Buddha , Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings), incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas (Buddhist literature).

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The Ellora Caves

The Ellora caves are located at a distance of 30 km from Aurangabad. There are 34 caves here and unlike Ajanta where only Buddhist caves are carved, at Ellora, three major religions i.e. Buddhism , Jainism and Hinduism are represented- starting with the Buddhist caves, you move on to the Hindu caves and finally to Jain caves. These caves were carved from 6th century AD to 12th century AD . Ellora is justly world-famous for the largest single monolithic excavation in the world, the great Kailasa (Cave 16).

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The Best Time

The visit to these caves is enjoyed maximum during monsoon , when every stream is filled with rainwater and the entire surroundings are lush green. We were indeed lucky to be there during height of monsoon this year and the monsoons surely made the environment very pleasant throughout our stay.

 

Shirdi

PS. While at Aurangabad, also take-out time to visit Shirdi which is some 100 km away. It is a two-hour drive from Aurangabad. If you are pressed for time, avoid the festival days and the weekends when crowds are much larger. We were lucky to be there on a Friday and it took just about 30 minutes of waiting before we were ushered into the sanctum sanctorum.

 

About the Author

[author]
[author_image timthumb=’on’]wp-content/uploads/authors/rajinder-goel.jpg[/author_image] Rajinder Goel is based in Delhi Graduate from Pant Nagar University in Civil Engineering, presently working with Steel Authority of India as Deputy General Manager – Projects and he has a keen interest in travelling and study of old architectures.
[/author]

‘Leh’ Jayenge ‘Leh’ Jayenge – Let’s go to Leh!

Frozen lake along Chang La [pass]

Pangong Tso Panorama

When friend Anil Rajput knew that I was planning on two options for this summer holiday, Conoor in Tamil Nadu and Leh, his shocking expression was ….”What comparison! You must go only to Leh!”.
I was desperate for a date with Leh for the last four years, but my travel team was giving me the most impossible rates and dates. Anil came to my rescue and made our dream-plan, a reality!
Our Delhi friend Anjali quickly decided to join us and more the merrier it was!
With a lot of anticipation spiced up, wife Jayashree, daughter Nishkamya and I set off from Chennai by the evening SpiceJet to Delhi. Night halt was at Anjali’s place and catching up with years and years of talk, we then hit the Delhi airport at 4am for the Go Air check-in. Prompt to take off, we had a very comfortable touchdown at the Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport at Leh, on the dot at 8.15 am. I am sure you are aware that it is the highest altitude commercial airport in India at some 3500 metres. Jayashree rightly quipped, “There is no great height for the plane to descend here at Leh!” Continue reading…

India’s first five star river cruise

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India’s first five star 29-cabin luxury river cruise ship to set sail on the Brahmaputra in Assam  this year  M V Mahabaahu becomes India’s first  luxury river cruise ship to set sail in the Indian waters. It is in the final stages of completion, the cruise ship will embark on its maiden voyage . The ship will set sail on the 29th November on river Brahmaputra  between Guwahati and Jorhat a weak long journey both up and down stream  The 55-meter long luxury river cruise ship will boast of 29 cabins across 4 different categories, 3 bars, swimming pool, spa, satellite communication and entertainment, a boutique shop and much more.

 

Shanti Stupa, A Beautiful White Buddhist Chorten in Leh, India

History

A white dome Stupa (Chorten) built on a Changspa, a steep  hill, opposite the Leh Palace different in architecture  from the Ladhakhi style gives a magnificent view at sunrise and sunset, it looks more beautiful at night illuminated in the white light. It was built by the Ladakh and Japanese Buddhists, Ladakhis offered voluntary labor, construction started in 1983 and it was inaugurated in August 1991 by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. It was built to promote world peace and prosperty and to commemorate the 2500 years of Buddhism.
The Bright Shanti Stupa at Leh
[quote]The Bright Shanti Stupa at Leh[/quote]

 

Structure

It is built as a two level structure, a flight of stairs leads to the first level where a Dharmchakra (as in white strip of Indian national flag) with two deer on each side, features a central image of Lord Buddha in golden colour sitting on a platform turning the Dharmchakra wheel, the second level depicting  the birth of Buddha, defeating of devils in meditation and death of Buddha along with many small images of meditating Buddha, all embossed in vibrant colours.
Various depictions of Lord Buddha's life
[quote]Various depictions of Lord Buddha’s life[/quote]

 

Location

Shanti Stupa is situated at a height of 4267 meters overlooking the Leh city, it gives a panaoromic view of surrounding snow capped mountains and the Leh city.
Shanti Stupa under the BIG bright cloudy Sky
[quote]Shanti Stupa under the BIG bright cloudy Sky[/quote]