All posts filed under: India

Worship of Shakthi: Maa Kamakhya Temple

We descended into a dark room, where the first thing you notice is the constant dripping of the water. You can see two pandits sitting at two points near a mound of garlands and flowers. They ask the people to kowtow in front of the garlands and touch the water and keep it on your head. The only light in the room is that of two flame torches that are lit in the room. If you keep electic lights, then the whole divine ambience might be lost, I felt. Somehow I did not feel very spiritual in the cave and kept walking, just observing curiously the happenings around me. Kamakhya Temple must have been built in many phases from 8th to 17th century. In the outerwalls of the temple you see very intricately carved sculptures which speak of the craftsmanship of that age. At the same time, certain parts of the wall seems to be like plastered and bland, which kind of points to the deterioration of the quality of construction in later periods, I …

The impregnable Fort of Golconda and Sarandaz Khan’s treachery

The Mughal army had laid seige for eight months now. Many famines, deaths and losses later, Golconda Fort still showed no signs of surrender. The Qutb Shahis were in no mood to relent. Finally, Aurangzeb managed to woo Sarandaz Khan, an insider to show him a backdoor into the fort, thereby penetrating Golkonda fort for the first time in it’s history. Built by the Kakateeyas, Golkonda means shepherd’s hill. The fort is one among the two impregnable forts of peninsular India, the other being there Aurangabad fort ( built by the Yadavas of Devagiri). Fortified in three layers similar to Aurangabad fort, Golkonda too has a full township housed inside it to withstand any siege. Golkonda fort is an architectural marvel hiding many salient features. One such, is the clapping portico, where below a diamond cut dome, your clap reverberates and is carried to the “Bala Hissar”, or the citadel where the royals stay. This allowed for quick communication, if the fort was under siege. The fort also offers a view of the present day …

Where Dreams Are Made: Ramoji Film City

My first ever memory of Hyderabad is someone telling me about Ramoji Film City. This was when I was a kid and I wondered how a single place could accommodate palaces, streets, houses, Eastern/Western style architecture, gardens, farms, desserts and all. My little mind couldn’t fathom it. The first film City that I would visit was not Ramoji, but the Film City in Mumbai, which is rather a small Enterprise compared to Ramoji. That is managed by the Maharashtra Government and headed by an IAS officer. As expected, it did not amaze me much. However, Ramoji was a different experience. As we entered the Film City, we were ushered into the premium lounge. Our tour was premium tour which had better experiences on offer. We were taken to the forest show where a director was taking us through the Film making process. A lady from the audience was chosen to be the actress in the reenactment of the horse chase scene in Sholay (Basanti) Once this was done, we were taken through the different rides, …

Minutemaid Tea and the Charminar

“Keep moving, Keep moving, You can’t go through this road” the policeman who blocked us kept blowing his whistle, waiving away vehicles and diverting people from the approach road. My friend Mithun told him we just wanted to see it for five-ten minutes only and then we’ll be on our way. He still didn’t agree. Then we showed him our id cards, explaining that we are Assistant comminssioners, on Bharath Darshan and hence might not find time to come later.if there is anything he could do for us, now would be the time. His tone and look had already changed and he allowed us entry. Any visit to Hyderabad without Charminar in the itinerary can’t be considered complete. If Gateway of India is the mascot for Mumbai, Howrah Bridge that of Kolkata, then Charminar it is for Hyderabad. Built at a prayer site, in the 16th century, the Char Minar was gratitude offering to the almighty for saving the City from an attack of plague. This was my second visit to Char Minar. The previous …

Rathas of Udupi

Tryst with the famed Udupi

“Where can we find a good Udupi Hotel?” my dad innocently asked a rickshaw wallah. He looked at my father quizzically. I pinged my Dad and reminded him that we are in Udupi and all hotels here are Udupi hotels. You only had to ask which is a good hotel for vegetarians. Go to any corner in India and you will be able to find an Udupi restaruant. They are famous for the vegetarian cuisine that they serve and are supposed to be prepared in the Saatvik style, avoiding garlic and onion and at the same time not compromising in taste. The credit for this goes to the Srikrishna Temple, which is the institution around which a sleepy little place started to develop. It is the cooks of this temple which was founded by Saint Madhava, leading proponent of the Dwaita philosophy, who later took the cuisine of the temple to around the world and made it famous. Udupi is no longer a sleepy town. With nearby Manipal and the bustling beaches that wash its …

A visitor from far away: The story of Lonar Crater Lake

I stared at the starry sky from my hotel, roughly a kilometer away from where the meteor had struck. In this universe, endless and immaculate, we occupy such a minute place, I felt. Very often, this thought pops up in my mind when I stare at the night sky. However, tonight it filled me with a profound sense of humility. Lonar can do that to you. I decided on this trip with no prior planning. Vidarbh region, except for a few wildlife sancutaries sprinled here and there, is empty of interesting places compared to other regions of Maharashtra. For me, time is a luxury, given that training is a residential programme and wishing for more than three days at one shot is blasphemy. I wanted to venture out of the comfortable 250km radius ( because of the time factor) and just ride into the horizon. Thus Lonar manifested in my mind. Roadtrip! Without contemplating much, I packed my bags, kicked off my Bullet and rode away. I stopped in Amravati, the first night and then …

Mominpura

Mominpura: Where the Night is young in Nagpur

I should be frank with you. Nightlife in Nagpur is woeful. The city goes to slumber by 11 PM. You will be hard pressed to find a hotel or shop that is open. As a nightowl who loves roaming around during the wee hours of the dark, this was something that I couldn’t at all digest about Nagpur. The only respite from this is Mominpura. Mominpura is a muslim neighbourhood. The whole street is full of shops selling Athar, Shurma clothing, Pan, Biriyani and meat items. I would not say that it is the most hygenic place out there, but if you find eating in Chandni Chowk or Girgaum Chowpatty okay, then Mominpura also will not fail you. Even at 3 in the night, you can find biriyani or a kathi roll here. My favorite places here are Baba Tea and the small shops that sell chicken fry. The amount of oil that is present in each item can make you cringe. However, the food being tasty makes it a forgivable sin. Don’t fret if …