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Panchavati

The place located in North of Nashik city in Maharashtra
River Godavari flows through Nashik and its Northern part is called as Panchavati. A place in the bank of Godavari River is surrounded by ancient temples and bounded by rituals. Godavari is revered as the ‘Ganges of the south’.    The famous Ganga ghat here was said to have built by Ahilyabai Holkar. The Ganga ghat looks majestic and stunningly incredible in the evening

Interesting Facts;

  • Panchavati, the name of the forest home of Rama, during his exile, in Ramayana. It is said that lord Shri Ram and Sita along with Laxman stayed at Panchavati for some time
  • The area is called Panchavati based on the five Banyan (Vad) trees
  • There are Three Kund: Ram Kund, Laxman Kund & Sita Kund. It is said that Shri Prabhu Ramchandra use to come here for bathing during their stay in Panchavati.
  • On the western door of the Kalaram temple is Sita Gumpha (cave) where Sita is said to have stayed for some time, when Ravana came to kidnap her as a revenge of Laxman cutting nose of his sister Surpanakha.
  • ‘Laxman Rekha’ drawn by Laxman for protection of Sita is located around one kilometer from the caves.

The Ramkunda is a place where the residual bones after funeral of dead body are disposed and some rituals are performed. It is a strong belief of Hindus that this ritual gives Moksha to the departed soul.

Due to a large number of people visiting the place regularly, the water and place in general has become dirty, but still it doesn’t stop the pilgrims to take holy dip due to the spiritual attraction and devotion. During Kumbh Mela People from all over World visit the place to have a holy bath. It is said during Kumbh mela if you have holy bath in this water then all your sins are washed off.

For a photographer it is a paradise during Kumbh Mela. May be after 3-4 hours of exploring, this place can just be a tick mark and move on to explore many other beautiful places across Nashik City.

 

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Samdruptse Monastery

One of the must place to visit in Sikkim. Quite different from any other part of the country, this is one of the beautiful place that offer a different taste to the eyes. This is Samdruptse Monastery

Where is Samdruptse Monastery situated ?

Namchi, a beautiful small  town at a distance of 78 kilometres from the state capital Gangtok and 100 kilometres from the town of Siliguri.

5 km away from the town Namchi, at an altitude of 2134 m (7000 ft) the beautiful Samdruptse Monastery is situated. You can see a giant statue of the Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche). It is a 45 m tall statue, overlooking the whole city, and is gilded with gold that glitters when the sunlight falls over it. The whole mood of the place is serene and peaceful with continuous soft chanting of “Om Manu Padme Hum” floating in the air. The view from here is amazing. You can also see Char Dham Shiva statue from here.

Some Myths Some Facts Some Story :

It is said that the Samdruptse hill is actually a dormant volcano. Myths say that the Buddhist monks have been going on top of the hill and offering prayers to the volcano to keep it calm.

How to reach?

Easily accessible by road from Gangtok and also from Siliguri.

Where to Stay?

It can be a one day trip from Gangtok. One can also stay at Namchi a beautiful small town.

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Tathagata Tsal

 

Tathagata Tsal, popularly known as Buddha Park is the star attraction of Rabong, South Sikkim. Maybe it is one of the few modern marvel built in India.

Tathagata is a Sanskrit and Pali word. It is used to refer/depict to Lord Buddha. This term is often thought to mean either “one who has thus gone” (tathā-gata) or “one who has thus come” (tathā-āgata). This is interpreted as signifying that the Tathagata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory process of life.

This place “Tathagata Tsal” is named by his holiness Dalai Lama. The 128 foot hammered copper statue of the Buddha was consecrated by him in 2013. It was constructed to commemorate the 2550th birth anniversary of Buddha  The Statue of Buddha looks majestic when the Kanchenjunga peeks from behind.

It is surrounded by manicured lawns. The fountains, in the form of large cups, surrounding the main shrine are beautiful. Holy chants “Buddham Sharanam Gachhami” and serene surroundings build up an enchanting environment.

The inside of the sanctum-sanctorum is beautifully decked with wall to wall murals on the life of Tathagata. There are around 1000 Buddha statues on the ground floor.

One must see while visit Sikkim. Evening is the best time to visit Buddha Park.

 

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Captain “Baba” Harbhajan Singh Shrine

This is the story of Baba Harbhajan Singh – the hero of the Nathu-La pass (India-China border).

Late Sepoy Harbhajan Singh (23 Punjab) was born in a village in Kapurthala District and enrolled into the Punjab Regiment. The official version of his death is that he was a victim of battle at the 14,500 feet (4,400 m) Nathu La, a mountain pass between Tibet and Sikkim where many battles took place between the Indian Army and the PLA during the 1965 Sino-Indian war. He was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra medal for his bravery and martyrdom on 26 January 1969. Serving with his unit in Sikkim in 1968, he passed away on October 4 that year while escorting a mule column from Tuku La to Dongchui La. He slipped and fell in a nullah and the water current carried his body two kilometers downstream. His body is said to have been found three days later and cremated with full military honours. He is said to have appeared in the dreams of his fellow soldiers and asked them to build a ‘samadhi’ for him. His unit did so 9 km from where the present shrine stands.He was 27 when he died. Baba Mandir today has three rooms, Baba’s office, store room and living room. In the living room every item of his need has been neatly kept. His bed, shoes, slippers, water bottle, ironed uniform, an umbrella – everything. e is revered as the “Hero of Nathula” by soldiers of the Indian army, who built a Shrine in his honour.

Some interesting facts;

  • Devotees therefore leave bottles of water in the name of ailing people and then give this blessed water to the sick. It is widely believed that water kept at the Baba Harbhajan shrine became capable of curing ailing persons.
  • Units of the Indian Army that are posted in the region, seek Baba’s blessing with various plates dedicated to him lining the shrine’s walls. Baba warns the soldiers of any impending attacks atleast 3 days in advance. He is still guarding the international boundaries of the two countries.
  • The Army even promoted him to an Honorary Captain and a paycheck was sent to his family. He was also granted an annual leave on 14 September every year. His belongings were packed and accompanied by soldiers, were sent to Kapurthala by train and brought back the same way. A berth is reserved in his name and is left empty for the entire journey. This was done annually till he was retired a few years ago.
  • The Army is on high alert when Baba is on leave
  • During the customary flag meetings between the India and China, the Chinese army still sets a chair aside for Baba.
  • His room is cleaned every morning.On some mornings, soldiers have found crumpled bedsheet and his muddy shoes in the room. On many occasions, soldiers have discovered that Baba still visits the camps and his post.
  • As per common belief, any army official not maintaining a clean and disciplined attire is punished with a slap by baba himself. His own attire which hangs in display need not be cleaned by anyone as it gets cleaned magically.

Long Live Captain “Baba” Harbhajan Singh

 

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Nathula Pass : The Silk Route

Nathu La is a mountain pass in the Himalayas in East Sikkim district. It connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. The pass, at 14,140 ft above mean sea level, forms a part of an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road. Situated around 54 km east of Gangtok, only citizens of India can visit the pass, only after obtaining a permit in Gangtok. Nathu La is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India. Journey from Gangtok to Nathu la pass is scenical.

Plan bookings in advance to avoid regret as permits are limited and are issued a day before the visit, after verifying the valid documents. From Gangtok it is half a day journey since the road conditions are good in this route. The experience of “being there” is simply superb. Photography is prohibited at certain areas. If you feel hungry after a long walk , don’t worry, cafe at Nathula run by the Army serves  momos and hot tea coffee and of course Maggie.

Salute to our armed forces who stay and live there in chilling temperature all the time for us and our country.

 

 

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Point Zero : To experience the Thrill of Sikkim

We drove further in search of snow. It was the end of the month May, while the weather was very pleasant in Gangtok, we were looking out for a snow land to play and enjoy. Point Zero at North Sikkim was an option in front. We obtained the required permits from Gangtok to go to North Sikkim.

The road trip from Gangtok to North Sikkim was the most adventurous. It was a long 6-7 hours’ drive along the mountains, in some place under the waterfalls. It take the breathe out if you look from your vehicle, the Teesta river flowing sharp down below besides the mountains. It is one of the most difficult road to travel when it rains. Land sliding is a regular phenomenon and you cannot predict the road ahead of you. In such conditions the work done by BRO to ensure vehicle movement is really appreciable.

Point Zero:

Zero point or Yumesamdong Situated at an altitude of 15,300 ft. is an hour’s drive (approx. 26 km) from Yumthang Valley. It is a land of perennial snow but this valley is also used as a grazing ground for nomadic shepherds.

The way leading to zero point is a passage through natural grandeur filled with the delicate scent of Azalea flowers pervading the atmosphere. The best part I like is the discipline maintained by all locals in keeping the place beautiful. Plucking flowers or throwing any plastic bottles are not allowed. Entire journey is challenging and it exposes us to the power of nature & magnanimous Himalayas. Take ginger with you to chew as it is situated in upper Himalaya there is very low temperature. Without doing much activity, just relax enjoying the beautiful white snow covered mountains and blue sky.

Salutes to the Indian Army who are guarding the border further to the Zero point & non-accessible to civilians

 

 

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Victoria Memorial

“Let us, therefore, have a building, stately, spacious, monumental and grand, to which every newcomer in Calcutta will turn, to which all the resident population, European and Native, will flock, where all classes will learn the lessons of history, and see revived before their eyes the marvels of the past.” Lord Curzon suggested the creation of a fitting memorial in January 1901, on the death of Queen Victoria.

Victoria Memorial was opened in 1921 by the then Prince of Wales. This majestic structure is made with white marble.

After a century this monument is standing tall to attract visitors from all across the globe to witness the history. Indeed this is one of the landmark destination of Kolkata for every tourist. It houses a museum containing a large collection of memorabilia relating to Queen Victoria and the British presence in India. Certain additions were made to this structure after India gained independence in 1947.  A 16ft. high black bronze figure of winged Angel of Victory, holding a bugle in her hand was placed at the top of the dome of the memorial.

A place to be worth visited with kids.

 

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Kamakhya Temple

Kamakhya temple is a unique temple in India, located on the Nilachal hill in the city of Guwahati in Assam. The deity of the temple, Kamakhya Devi is revered as the “Bleeding Goddess”. It is one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas. It is an important pilgrimage destination for Hindu.  Also, a place of importance for the tantric worshippers.

The Temple is about 20 km from Guwahati Airport.

It was not a planned trip for me to the temple. I was in Guwahati for few days and just planned one day to visit the temple because of its historical as well as religious importance.  Went to the temple early morning at around 7 am  but there was a long queue. I was told that the devotees come to the temple at around 5 am in the morning for worship. I took a round of the temple and found that there are four chambers and the deity is placed at the garbhagriha. The other three chambers are calanta, pancharatna and the nritya mandapa.  The Devotee standing in the queue were waiting to go near to the deity in the garbhagriha. Since I didn’t have much time that day, I just went inside one chamber close to the garbhagriha and offered my prayer from there.

It is believed that the garbhagriha of the temple houses the mythical womb and vagina of the Hindu goddess Shakti. It is also believed every year during the month of June when the Brahmaputra river near the temple turns red i.e the menstruates period of goddess.

It was a different experience to be at the Kamakhya temple.  I pray the Goddess Shakti to bless everyone with positive thoughts ,energy and a healthy life.

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Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary

Bhigwan… a beautiful serene village in Maharastra situated approx. 100 km from Pune towards the east. It may not be a widely commercialised destination but amongst the Photographers and nature lovers this place is well-known because of the thousands of birds that migrate to the lake during Nov-Dec and stay here till the rain arrives i.e. till April-May. A unique place that offers a unique experience while sailing through the boat around the lake during morning as well as evening hours. Different species of birds travelled across a long way to this place during winter season. It is an amazing place to see wet land migratory birds like Bar-Headed Goose, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, many spices of ducks and many more birds. It is a paradise for the photographers who loves to capture the birds in their natural self. This is also know as the Bharatpur ( bird sanctury) of Maharastra.

We visited during Christmas season for bird photography. However since the water level in the lake was quite high, we could hardly spotted the Flamingos. Our guide told that during February- March the number of species are more along with the flamingos. May be i will travel again during March to this place.

Since the place doesn’t have much options to stay , we had contacted Mr Datta Nagre (Ph 08087767691) / Nitin Dole (Ph +919325051019) after getting the number from internet. They have a well managed group who operate “Kranti Flamingo Point” situated near the lake. It is advisable to make the booking in advance.