Chaturbhuj Temple of Love Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh

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Chaturbhuj Temple is situated in village Jatakari ,Khajuraho, built in 1100AD , the Chaturbhuj (Lord Vishnu ) means the one with four arms . It is peculiar temple in three distinct characters which differentiate it from other temples of Khajuraho .  It houses the tallest stone carved idol among all the Temples in Khajuraho , only temple in Khajuraho with no Erotic figures, it is also the only important temple in Khajuraho that faces west . 

Chaturbhuj Temple of Love Khajuraho

Standing over a platform with entrance from the West , it is normally  not seen in the Hindu temples but rest all the architecture needs are taken care of like the Mandapa , Garbhagriha and the Shikhara , there are images of Ganga can be identified with the presence of Crocodile and Yamuna can be identified with Turtle , there is a beautiful image of Lord Shiva in his Ardhnarishwar ( half man , half woman) carvings along with the heavenly life .

Main entrance , tallest statue among all the temples at Khajuraho

The main idol is suppose to be of Lord Vishnu but the close observation gives impression of three bodies in one , head with Jata ( hairs) of Lord Shiva , the four arms carrying Lotus, Conch , one arm showering the blessings and the other is giving the Abhay ( fearlessness ) , the standing pasture with one leg resting on toe is a Lord Krishna dancing style ( Incarnation of Lord Vishnu) , near the main idol there are images of Sura – Sundari .

Lord Chaturbhuj , Features of Lord Shiva and Lord Krishana

Beauty of this temple is seen  at sunset the sun comes streaming in and falls on the figure, lighting it in such a way that it appears to be full with life.

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Jaisalmer , City and Fort , Rajasthan

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Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer Fort

 

 

Jaisalmer a World Heritage City founded atop the Trikuta Hill in 1156 AD by Maha Rawal Jaisal Singh a Bhati Rajput , Sixth in his ruling generation, the earlier city was Loduvra , still has a Jain temple remembering its past .

A yellow stone which is available in abundant around  is used in the architecture of this city . It has given the identity of being named as Sonar Qila   or The Golden City of India .

World famous Balcony in stone at Patwa Haveli, Jaisalmer Fort

This city had a strategic location on route for trading caravans en route Persia , Middle East , Egypt ,Africa , Sindh ,  North and Central of India carrying Silk and Spices .

The Bhati Rajputs are Chandravanshi claims to be decedents of Lord Krishna , In 1293 AD the Turk emperor Ala Ud Din Khilji invaded India and captured the Fort , the Bhati Royal families migrated for safety to various places like Jaisal , Larkana , Talwandi . It was after 1627 AD when Mughal Emperor Shajahan took over , the Rawal Sahal Singh  acknowledge  his patronage and then in 1818 AD the King Mulraj accepted the political alliance with the British . After the 1947 AD the creation of independent India and Pakistan the trade route was shifted to Mumbai port and city lost its importance as a trade route.

Main entrace Toran gate Jain temple , Fort Jaisalmer

In Jaisalmer water is scarce as it is part of Thar Desert  it is almost entirely a sandy waste . There are no perennial streams, and only one small river Kakni  which flows for about 48 km and then vanishes into Rann Kutch . Amar Sagar was the water reservoir used as a main source of water which got dried up due to increase in demand for agriculture .

House , living Museum , Fort Jaisalmer

In 1367 AD Rawal Gadsi Singh excavated a lake now known as Gadsisar Lake  a water conservation tank to fulfill the water requirements of this dry city, till 1970 AD before the Rajasthan Canal came in , it was the main source of water for Jaisalmer 

Gadsisar Lake , Jaisalmer , Rajasthan

This city remained strategically important due to skirmishes between India and Pakistan , roads , rail head and the Rajasthan Canal served to revive the surrounding desert areas.

Kanoi Village , Desert Spring Camp at Sand Dunes

Tourism is a major industry in Jaisalmer , famous for its Sand Dunes , Desert wild life , Camping , Camel and Jeep  Safaris  around Jaisalmer attracts tourists from all over the world.

Sunset at Kanoi , Sand Dunes, Desert Spring camp

Tourists from all over the world come and stay at Desert Spring Camp to have an  experience of Sunset and Sunrise in the Thar Desert .

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Shanti Stupa, Leh , Ladakh

Shanti Stupa is situated at a height of 4267 meters overlooking the Leh city, it gives a panoramic view of surrounding snow capped mountains . Situated at a distance of about 5 km drive able road from the Leh city or one can reach here by climbing 500 steps . The location of Shanti Stupa is such that it is visible from all over Leh city.

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.

                                                                                           Shanti Stupa Leh

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 prosperity and to commemorate the 2500 years of Buddhism.

 

Shanti Stupa view from Leh – Khardong-la Highway

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Orcha, Fort and Palace

Orcha a small sleepy town on the banks of river Betwa but it was once the capital of the mighty Bundelkhand  State of Madhya Pradesh .

Orcha , Madhya Pradesh

Founded by the King Rudra Pratap Singh, a Rajput ruler of Bundelkhand , was the first king of Orcha and built the Fort in 1501 AD ,  a warrior tribe, whose  ancestors  one young Rajput prince  sacrificed his life for a  Goddess, Vrindavasini, in return, the Goddess blessed  that he and all his descendants would come to be known as the ‘Bundelas’, meaning, ‘those who gave blood’   the Orchha Bundelas came to be known as the chief of the Bundela clan.

Orcha Fort & Palace

The succeeding rulers, the most notable was Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo who built the exquisite Jehangir Mahal, in the 17th century, to celebrate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orcha,  a tiered palace crowned by graceful Chhatris. The whole Mahal is decorated beautifully with different geometric patterns and paintings of peacocks and flowers which represent the finest flowering of the Bundela school of painting. From here the view of soaring temple spires and cenotaphs is spectacular.  the mother of Jahangir was also a Rajput, Jodha. It is with this in mind that the Rajput king of Orcha had built the Jahangir Mahal.

Ceiling Paintings Raja Mahal Orcha

The Durbar-e-Khas, or the Durbar Hall, is situated on the first floor of the palace and is surrounded by high battlement walls. It is well fortified, and right above it are a number of musket holes through which the enemy was shot at. The Diwan-i-Am is an assembly hall where the king often held meetings with his council of ministers.

Jahangir Mahal Orcha

Rani Mahal  is famous for its lovely paintings and unique architecture. Rani Mahal, was the royal residence of the Queen of Raja Madhukar Shah. A great devotee of Lord Ram, the queen decorated her bedroom with murals featuring scenes from the epics. The exquisite paintings of Bhim and a bird flying with elephants are really fantastic.

Wall and ceiling paintings Orcha

The Rai Praveen Palace was constructed by Prince Indrajit Singh for his beloved  of three stories. The walls of the central hall on the second story bear many paintings depicting the several moods of the Rai Praveen. The palace is combined with a garden divided into two parts wall and which is popularly known as Anand Mahal Bag (Garden). The Rai Praveen was a great beauty whose main accomplishments were dancing, horse riding and poetry. The famous poet Keshavdas has compiled Kavi priya to honor Rai Praveen and praised her beauty.

In the Laxminarayan Temple and Raj Mahal, vibrant murals encompassing a variety of religious and secular themes, bring the walls and ceilings to rich life. Long tapering structures of temples and places act as the major landmark of this small town .

Raja Rudra Pratap started the work on Raja Mahal but after his death in 1531, his son Bharath Chand did the main portion of the palace but it was completed Raja  Madhukar Shah , one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture. It has the typical “jali” or lattice work at the entrance , a square shaped palace, divided into two beautiful courtyards. The outer courtyard has some beautiful arches, while the inner ones have some of the most beautiful paintings.

Ram Raja Temple , it is the only place in India where the Lord Ram is worshiped as a King in a Palace receives the Guard of Honor every day , Raja Ram is seated in a Padama Asan with the left leg crossed  on to right thigh ,  has a sword in his right hand and a shield in the other , Mata Sita is on the left  brother Laxman on the right , Maharaj Sugreev , Narsingh Bhagwan and  Durga Maa are also present in the darbar on the right side ,  Hanumaan ji and Jamwant ji are praying just below Mata Sita.

Chaturbhuj Temple , Raja Ram Idols were to be kept here

 

Originally the Chaturbhuj temple was built to place the Idols of Lord Ram but when Idol  was brought from Ayudhya it was kept at the Queens Palace  the Ranibas or the Rani Mahal to be installed at Chaturbhuj Temple which is right next to the palace  but next day it could not be removed and since then Lord Ram is being worshiped as Raja Ram  at the palace .

There are fourteen Chatries or memorials  constructed as a mark of respect for the imperial blue blood of the mighty rulers of Bundelkhand dynasty. The royal tombs of MaharajasChhatris are placed on a elevated platform three floors buildings are open on all sides, have domes or pinnacles.

Royal Family cremation site , Chattries banks of River Betwa

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Harmandir Sahib, Golden Temple, Amritsar

Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib and as western’s call it the Golden Temple the supreme religious seat of Sikhs  is in the holy city of Amritsar , Punjab state  in North India .

Amritsar is also mentioned  as Ramdas Pur in earlier historical records , it is also pronounced as Ambarsar ( Pool of Ambrosia ) . City was established by the fourth Sikh Guru Ram Dass Ji by purchasing the land from the residents of the village Tung in 1574 AD The area around Amritsar has the legend of Ramayana associated with it ,  Rishi Balmiki’s ashram was here , the Devi Sita the Lord Rams wife  lived in exile and gave  birth twin sons  Lavh and Kush. It is said when the twin brothers  killed the entire  army of Lord Ram , at that time a jug of Ambrosia descended from heaven to restore the soldiers to life.

First view of Darbar Sahib from Eastern Gate, Amritsar

It was in 1574 A.D. Guru Ram Das Ji made his home by the side of the pool, finding the air and water of his abode health-giving  which was regarded as blessed with miraculous powers of healing and in 1577 AD.holy tank was excavated and named it Amritsar and the present city grew around it . The Fifth Guru Arjan Dev Ji conceived the idea of construction of the Gurudwara in the center of the pool, he himself designed and laid the foundation stone in late 1588  , it has four entrances symbolizing it open for all , it was completed in 1604 AD and Guru Granth Sahib was installed in it . After this event it attained the status of ‘Ath Sath Tirath’ and  the Sikh community had their own Tirath, a pilgrimage center .

Darshani Deori , main entrance to the Harmandir Sahib

The present  Harmandir Sahib was rebuilt in 1764 by the Jassa Singh Ahluwalia later  the founder of Kapurthala State in Punjab , it is said he in a battle with Afghans in 1762  (Wadha Gulughara) who had destroyed Harmandir Sahib,  received Sixty Four wounds .

The Nishan Sahib ( Flag)

The Gold plating and marble work was carried out in 19 centenary under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji and Sardar Hukam Singh Chimni who happened to be member and speaker of Parliament and then the Governor of Rajasthan state.

Architecture of Harimandir Sahib is a unique harmony between the Muslims and the Hindus way of construction work . It is often quoted that this architecture has created an independent Sikh school of architecture in the history of art in India.

View early morning Darbar Sahib , Amritsar

 Harmandir means the temple of God , Its sanctum came to house the Adi Granth , comprising compositions of Sikh Gurus and other saints considered to have Sikh values and philosphies

Harmandir Sahib , Amritsar

 

 

 

Darbar Sahib at Night , Amritsar

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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]

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]