Monday, April 27, 2009

Udaipur, City of Lakes

After lunch at Kumbhalgarh we proceeded towards our journey to Udaipur. We reached our destination in the evening and rested for the day. Next day morning we started the tour of the city.

Now for brief history about this beautiful place. This place was ruled by Sisodia dynasty for 1200 years. As per the legend associated with birth of the city, while Maharana Udai Singh was hunting, he meta holy man meditating on a hill overlooking the Lake Pichhola. He blessed and advised Maharana to build a palace at this favorable located spot with a fertile valley watered by the stream, a lake, an agreeable altitude. The King followed his advice and the city was founded in 1559 A.D.

The most important tourist attractions here are:

The City Palace

Palace complex is actually a conglomeration of buildings added by various Maharanas. Still the palace manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design. 

The entry to the palace is from Northern end. The gates that lead into the palace are Baripol of 1600 and the Tripolia Gate of 1725. This gate is carved with eight marble arches.

The entry ticket price to the palace more when compared to any other forts or palaces in Rajasthan. But it is worth as one can witness such beautiful architecture. the Photography is not permitted in Krishna Vilas.

Next we shall see other attractions of the city such as temples and park.

P.S: December is the month when lot of tourists land in Rajasthan. So if you really want all the arrangements to be done properly this has to be done before October end.

Monday, April 20, 2009

By Train to Mangalore

From Bangalore by train to Mangalore is at a distance of approximately 350kms.

The train route is a very scenic one. For the nature lovers it offers a 55km stretch of Western Ghats on one side and valley on the another side. The train passes over 90 major bridges and through 57 tunnels. Ironically the train starts from Bangalore around 7:45 p.m and one will not witness much of this beauty.

But still I could get glimpse of what I had missed on this scenic route.

As Mangalore station was approaching, I could see large number of white spots on a big tree. But as the train approached closer, I could make out that they were white cranes that are sitting on the trees.

It would have been great if the train had operated in the day time so we could enjoy the beauty of nature.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mount Abu, a Hill station

Mount Abu is the only hill station in Rajasthan an is at a elevation of 1200 mts. This is the coldest place in Rajasthan an temperature is below zero in the night. In the day time it is definitely less than 10 degree centigrade during the winter season. The rich flora covering is the hillside is responsible for the cool climate in the region.

Next day after breakfast we set out for sight seeing of the place. As the Delwara Jain Temples are open for sightseeing only after 12:00 p.m we went to some of other sights and returned to the temple around the right

The other main tourist attractions of this place are:

Gaumukh Temple

The Gaumukh Temple is located in the valley and a path with 750 steps takes one to this temple. Here a small stream flows from the mouth of a marble cow, giving the shrine its name. You can also see here a marble figure of the bull Nandi. The tank here, known as Agni Kund, is believed to be the site of the sacrificial fire, made by sage Vashistha. An image of Vashisha is flanked by the figures of Rama and Krishna can also be seen here. Further down these steps one can reach a small temple.


There are various view points around the town. Most popular among them are:

Sunset Point, is about 1.5 km from the tourist office of Mount Abu. Lot of people visit this point in the evening to catch the setting sun. It is a one kilometer walk from the road to the viewpoint or you can hire a horse.
Honeymoon Point, can be reached via Nakki Lake. This view point offers an enchanting view of the verdant plains and valleys.

We missed the sunset as it was very cloudy during our stay in Mount Abu.

Nakki Lake

Nakki Lake is situated in the heart of the town. The location of the lake makes it very pleasing to the eyes with the hills rising all around it. Boating is allowed in this lake and boats are available for hire around the lake. There are many rock formations around the lake. They have been named Toad Rock, Nun Rock, Nandi Rock and Camel Rock because of their resemblance to these figures.

This lake has an interesting history. It is believed that it was created by the fingernails (nakk) of a sage, Balam Rasia, in response to the demands of the stepmother of the girl he wished to marry. The girl, a daugh
ter of the then King of Abu, was also in love with the sage, but because of the evil stepmother the affair ended in tragedy, and has been immortalized in a temple of the Kunwari Kanya, alongside which stands a statue of her lover.

From Mount Abu we traveled to Kumbalgarh, the Unconquered FortDistance: Mount Abu ---> Kumbalgarh 240 kms

P.S: December is the month when lot of tourists land in Rajasthan. So if you really want all the arrangements to be done properly this has to be done before October end.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bangalore, The Garden City

Bangalore, popularly known as Pensioner's Paradise or Silicon Valley. It is also known as the "Garden City of India", as there are many public parks and one can experience greenery on either side of the city roads. It is feast to the eyes as it is adorned with beautiful landscapes, flowers and hedges all through the city. Some of the trees across the city roads and parks are even as old as the city itself.

But sadly due to the rate at which the city is growing, from Garden City it is fast being converted into a concrete jungle. To add to this the trees on either side of the roads are cut in the name of resolving traffic problem by building flyovers, underpass and metro. There are instances where roads could have been made on either side of the trees by leaving those trees intact. But with no protest or awareness in the citizens this will continue to happen. I am afraid one day, 'The Garden City' title will no longer make sense for Bangalore.

We still have some greenery left in the city because of some parks such as
These parks attract a lot of people, tourists and locals alike, especially over the weekends. They are equally popular among children, young people and the old alike for their own reasons. They are also frequented by the joggers. The landscapes, variety of flowers, fountains make these parks really beautiful and form major attractions. These parks are well maintained and some of them occasionally charge some nominal fee.

In the days to come we will explore finer details of some of these parks.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mount Abu, Hill of Wisdom

At Ranakpur we wanted to taste food at the Ranakpur temple to taste something different form hotel food that we are having on this tour. But unfortunately we were bit late and we missed the good food. So on our journey towards Mount Abu we had food at the road side dhaba. The food was not bad and in fact it was quite good. After a long drive with break for evening tea we reached Mount Abu late in evening after 7 p.m.

It was the eve of Christmas and we had the dinner at the hotel where we were staying. The travel agent through whom we had booked the hotel and vehicle had said that it was mandatory and we had already paid the extra amount for the dinner.

Now a little details about this place goes like this. A mountain range called Aravali range which is 800 kms in length runs from southwest to northeast across Rajasthan state. The highest peak in the range is Guru Shikhar and Mount Abu is located on this peak. The city is at a elevation of 1200 mts.

The literary meaning of Mount Abu is "Hill of Wisdom". In the olden days it was the home of many saints and sages.

The main tourist attractions of this place are:

Delwara Jain Temples

These temples were built during the age of Jain supremacy and are one of the finest Jain temples that one should visit once in the life time for their exquisite marble stone carvings. I personally (I am no expert) feel this is far more beautiful than Taj Mahal that India has to offer to the World. You can visit this place only after 12 p.m. Hence we covered some of the other attractions before 12 p.m.

From the exterior these temples are very simple and if one goes by its simplicity you would never want to see the temple. The interiors of the temple is a stark contrast to its external appearance. It exhibits the mind blogging work of human craftsmanship in marble. These temples were built between 11th to 13th century AD. The elaborate and intricate carvings in marble are unmatched. Each of the minutely carved ceilings and the pillars are very unique. No two ceiling or no two pillars are common and they are very different from each other.

This temple complex consist of five major shrines devoted to five Jain Trithankaras each with its own unique identity though together.

Shri Mahaveer Swami Temple

This is the first temple one would enter in the temple complex when entering through the simple gateway of the temple. This temple was constructed in 1582 and is dedicated to 24th Jain Tirthankara Lord Mahaveer. There are pictures on upper walls of t
he porch painted by artists of Sirohi around 1764 A.D.
Shri Adinatj Ji Temple

Next we proceed to Vimal Vasahi Temple or Shri Adinath temple which is build by Vimal Shah, a minister of Solanika ruler of Gujarat. This temple is the oldest of a ll and is the most famous temple in the lot. It is dedicated to the first Jain Trithankar Shri Adinath Ji.

This temple carved entirely out of white marble was built in 1021 AD. The entire shrine covers an area of 140ft long and 90ft broad. The shrine consists of main sanctum Gudhamandap, Rangmandap and Navachoki. There is also a circular corridor around the temple with 57 cells. Each cell has image of one of the Jain saints carved out of marble. One will be mesmerized by the carvings on pillars, arches, mandaps of the temple and they are simply breathtaking. The ceilings in front of the cells designs of flowers, petals and scenes from Hindu and Jain mythology.

The Rangmandap is a grand hall supported by 12 decorated pillars and nicely carved out arches with a simply superb central dome. The central dome is beautifully decorated with design's of flowers and petals and fine carvings hanging down nthe center. It appears as if the central dome is supported by 16 female figures each one different form each other. These 16 figures are Vidhyadevis - the Goddesses of knowledge each one having their own symbol. All the 12 pillars of the huge hall is decorated with the carvings of female figures playing musical instruments.

The Gudhamandapa is a simple hall with richly carved doorway. Inside the hall one can see the idol of Adinath or Lord Rishabdev, as he is also known.

The Navchowki has the name suggests has a set of nine rectangular ceilings. Each one of them contain beautiful carvings of different designs that are supported on ornate pillars.

Hastishala is constructed in front of the entrance door by Prithvipal a decedent of Vimal Shah.Inside this hall one can see 10 standing elephant statues in marble in 3 different rows. They were beautifully carved, but are badlu destroyed by Muslim army invasion. Special thanks to my friend Ram for the pics.

Shri Neminath Ji Temple

Next we proceed to Luna Vasahi Temple or Shri NemiNathJi Temple which is built in 1230 A.D. by two brothers known as Tejpal and Vastupal in memory of their brother Luna. It is dedicated to 22nd Jain Trithankar Shri Nemi Nathji.

In architecture this temple is similar to Vimal Vasahi temple but is smaller in size. The shrine consists of main sanctium Gudha Graha, Rangmandap, Navachoki and Kirti Stambha. In the circular corridor there are 52 cells and on front of the cells the ceiling is decorated with beautiful designs of flower panels, dancing postures, elephants, horses, musicians playing instruments.

From the circular corridor one can step down into main hall or Rangmandap. In the center of the hall, when you look up one can witness the central dome from which hangs ornamental pendant featuring exceptional carvings. About 72 Jain Trithankars in sitting positions are adorned in a circular band on the periphery of the dome. Just below them there are 360 small figures of Jain Monks in an another circular band.

The Navchowki is on a raised platform above Rangmandap. It showcases one of the most marvelous and delicate marble stone cutting work. Each of the nine ceilings here are different from one other and they outdo each other in their fineness and beauty.

The Gudhamandap is the main sanctum and it is simpler when compared to other parts of the temple. The black marble idol of the Shri Neminath Ji among all the white marble cuttings provides the right contast anr enhances the beauty of temple.

The Kirthi Stambha is again a big black stone pillar that stands on the left side of the temple on your way to Pittalhar Temple. The pillar was constructed by Maharana Kumbha of Mewar.

Shri Rishabdao Ji Temple

Next we proceed to Peethalhar Temple or Shri Rishabdaoji Temple built by Bhima Shah, a minister from Gujarat Kings. As the name suggests in this temple most of the statues are built using ‘Pittal’ (Brass). The shrine consists of main sanctium Gudha Graha, and Navachoki

Shri Parshavnath Temple

Next we proceed to Khartar Vasahi Temple or Shri Parshavnath Temple built by Mandika clan between 1458-59 A.D., This three storyed temple is the tallest among the 5 shrines. This temple has 4 big Mandapa's where idol of Pashwanath is installed. The carving on the pillars of this temple is magnificent and beautiful as in other 4 shrines.

The Dilwara Jain Temples are open from 12 P.M. to 6 P.M. for tourist's and photography is not allowed inside the temple complex. One way it is good as one can escape from going mad in not knowing what to leave without capturing through your lens.

P.S: December is the month when lot of tourists land in Rajasthan. So if you really want all the arrangements to be done properly this has to be done before October end.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ranakpur, temple town of Rajasthan

From Jodhpur we proceeded towards Ranakpur which is located in the remote valley of Aravali range. It is situated in the Pali district to the North of Udaipur. It has one of the largest and most important Jain Temples in the country. The place is well connected through a road network to other places in the region. Ranakpur is named after Rana Kumbha whom Dharna Sah, a Jain businessman, approached when he had the vision of his great temple to ask for the land for its construction. Renowned for some marvelously carved Jain temples in amber stone, Ranakpur is one of the five holiest places of the Jain community and exceptional in beauty. 

Jain Temple

Ranakpur is one of the five holiest places of the Jain community. It is famous because of some marvelously carved Jain temples in amber stone, of exceptional beauty. The dating of this temple is controversial but it is largely considered to be anywhere between the late 14th to mid-15th centuries.

This temple is dedicated to Adinatha. The temple occupies an area of approximately 60 x 62 meters. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill. 

Sun Temple

Ranakpur is widely known for its marble Jain temple, and for a much older Sun Temple which lies opposite the former.

From Ranakpur we traveled to Mount Abu, Hill of Wisdom

Distance: Ranakpur ---> Mount Abu 181 kms

P.S: December is the month when lot of tourists land in Rajasthan. So if you really want all the arrangements to be done properly this has to be done before October end.