Tag Archives: Travel

Special Photo Challenge :Inspiration

What inspires me to blog? For me, it works both ways – Blogging inspires me to discover the old and the new  . Travel, nature and most of all experimenting with my writing and photography inspires me to blog!

Me- trying to capture the sunset

Exploring nature with kids

Check out other’s sources of inspiration at the Daily Post

Weekly Photo Challenge:Green

Green  is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness  arises.Pedro  Calderon de la Barca

Carnival procession in Germany (1998)

Never  stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green  valleys of silliness.Ludwig Wittgenstein

Green face at a Halloween party

When  the green woods laugh with the voice of joy, And the dimpling stream runs  laughing by; When the air does laugh with our merry wit, And the green hill  laughs with the noise of it. – Lord Byron

All  theory, dear friend, is gray, but the golden tree of life springs ever  green. –
Johann  Wolfgang von Goethe

Balinese figure

If  there is a future, it will be Green.Petra Kelly

Symbol for Recycling (Image from Wikipedia)

For other interpretations of green , visit here

Timelessness

“Time doesn’t seem to pass here; it just is” – J.R.R. Tolkein

A warm salubrious breeze ruffles our hair gently. A  hazy group of  men sit on the rocks; a young family test the waters, pondering if they should get in. No hawkers, No crowds. Except for the sound of the sea, it’s pretty quiet. The sky is grey, almost colourless, only the golden glow on the waters hinting at a sunset. A sunset here turning into a sunrise elsewhere.

As we walk towards the water, there is a sudden impulse to let go, further impelled by the excited children who jump right in. The water is warm and muddy and as our toes start to sink into the wet, soft sand; a familiar feeling sinks in, like having met a long lost friend.

A heap of shells, some whole and some broken, just like our dreams and hopes, lay washed up on the shore. Time seems to stop here as footprints of the past and present merge together. Yet, the continuous rush of the restless waves- waves that can be gentle and caressing or cold and unforgiving remind us that time is unstoppable.

And as time beckons us to continue on our journey of life and routine, we hope to return someday to the eternal, everlasting, and timeless beauty of another beach, another sunset.

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Frizztext’s story Challenge : Letter T

The one who attained Salvation

The city of Shravanabelagola, about 150 kms from Bangalore, is home to one of the world’s largest monolithic statues. The 57 foot statue of Bahubali (one of the 7 wonders of India), a Jain ascetic,carved out of a single granite block in the 10th century, stands on the Vindhyagiri hill, about 430 ft above the ground.

According to legend, the 2 brothers Bharat and Bahubali (Bahu –arms, bali – strength) sons of a great King, Rishaba, once had a personal contest – a fight for land and power. During the fight, Bahubali suddenly realised the foolishness and futility of the contest and decided to give up his kingdom for ascetic life.

He meditated for months, unmindful of the vines and ant hills growing on him and finally attained salvation.He then began teaching the path to righteousness and is worshipped even today as a siddha, a saint who overcame the human foibles of pride, greed and anger.

Monks belonging to a certain sect of Jainism give up all worldly possessions, including clothes. In keeping with this culture, the saint is shown here in the nude.

The arduous and steep climb up the hill of Vindhyagiri (around 600 steps)

The pond, after which the city is named – belagola  meaning white pond. (Though its no longer white!)

The Jain temple at the foot of the hill.

Halfway up. We had to pause to catch our breath!

Tyagada kambha – An open pavilion with a central carved pillar

The colossal 57 foot statue

The priest offering ‘prasad’ (food offered first to the deity and then consumed)

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Frizztext’s A-Z story Challenge: Letter S

Road Trips

No stop signs, speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Like a wheel, gonna spin it
Nobody’s gonna mess me round

Everyone loves a good road trip once in a while! Wind in the hair; sun in the eyes, maybe some dust too; engine at full throttle; listening to ‘highway to hell’!!

There are movies dedicated to road trips (Thelma and Louise and Road trip) and road trippers too who pursue the hobby very seriously.

My road trips haven’t really been road trips in the true sense, more a method of travel to get to a destination. I’ve travelled by road in many countries, but the most memorable ones have been here in India.

My earliest memory of a road trip was as a child of 10 or 12, travelling with my father’s extended family to the temple town of Tirumala for a wedding. The drive through 7 hills with hair-pin bends , steep roads and deep gorges on one side was a challenge for even an experienced driver. Halfway up, it started raining cats and dogs and visibility reduced to almost zero. The driver continued driving; the relatives started chanting bhajans (prayers). Whether it was divine intervention or the driver’s acumen, we reached the summit in one piece!

Delhi to Dharamshala  was another eventful , never-ending journey with 2 flat tyres and an un-cooperative driver intent on driving way below the speed limit. The only  consolation  was that the extra hours helped to catch up with old friends with beer and tandoori chicken!

Others trips were memorable for their scenic landscape, such as Ladakh for its stark mountain ranges and steep winding roads; Rajasthan for the dry, sandy and rugged topography.  Our recent trip to Chikmagalur was also dotted with some lovely rustic scenery.

Ladakh
Ladakh
enroute Chikmagalur

Driving on Indian highways requires more than just admirable driving skills. You will encounter partly constructed or non-existent roads, dodge villagers, chickens and goats trying to cross the highway (not their fault if the highway cuts right through the village!) and mistake a single beam of light for an oncoming bike(more likely to happen when there is no separation between traffic going in opposite directions) which in reality will be a speeding truck , probably carrying unsuspecting animals.

Enroute to Chennai
On the Chennai to Bangalore Highway

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Frizztext’s A-Z Story Challenge: Letter R

Exquisite carvings that tell stories of beauty, valour and life

The Belur– and Halebid temples, proposed UNESCO heritage sites are two of the hallmarks of Hoysala architecture .The Hoysala Empire in Southern India flourished between 10th and 14th century, and spawned an era of artistic exuberance.

The name Hoysala and the royal emblem are taken from a folklore according to which a young man, Sala saved his guru from a tiger by striking it dead (‘hoy’ meaning strike in local language).

Hoysala emblem

Legend has it that the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana and his dancer-wife Queen Shantala, who were Jains (a religion founded by Mahaveer Jain) had a daughter who suffered from an incurable chronic mental illness. She was miraculously cured by a greatly revered Hindu saint (Ramanuja) who was visiting. After this, the King converted to Hinduism and commissioned the creation of over a 100 temple monuments, that to this day are the pride and joy of our state. Most of the temples were in the making for close to 100 years and finally completed during the reign of Vishnuvardhana’s grandson.

The temples are known for their unique stellar design; thousands of embellished figures carved out of soapstone; horizontal Friezes of elephants, lions and horses and many ornate pillars- some of which used to revolve on ball-bearing structures.

The sublime and ethereal carvings transported me into another world and I could almost imagine the lithesome dancers, their bells chiming in unison and their graceful poses which inspired some of the famous filigree idols such as ‘beauty with mirror’, ‘the lady with the parrot’, ‘the huntress’. And hear the rhythmic beating of the mallet on the chisel as the skilful artisans carved the soft soapstone with exquisite craftsmanship into intricate sculptures that depict celestial beings and stories of mythology.

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Weekly Image of Life: Stories and Photographs

A Village celebrates!

On our holiday last week, we stopped enroute at my husband’s ancestral village. His forefathers and for a brief time, his father too had lived there. But with the entire family having embraced city life, there weren’t any family members living there anymore. The only connection remains the custom of taking the village name as the middle or last name and the occasional visit to pay respects to the family diety.

There was an unexpected crowd at the temple and we had to wait a while before we could pay our obesainces. Finally, as we were coming out of the temple premises , we heard the loud beating of drums and here’s what we saw:

It was a village festival! My husband and I pulled out our cameras and videocams , quite surprised and fascinated. There were people dressed up in colorful costumes , some wearing masks, people and children dancing and even an Elephant! I gathered that the villagers were going to install an idol of Ganesha, the elephant-God and the entire village had got together to celebrate the event.

We were thrilled that we had some unique memories to take back with us, especially since this visit was long overdue. Afterall, its not everyday that we get to be a part of our ancestral village celebration!

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Weekly Image of Life: Celebration

Plantation tour

We recently vacationed in the charming hills of  Chikmaglur, the birth place of coffee in India. According to legend, the first coffee plant was grown here with the seven seeds brought from West Asia by a Sufi saint, Baba Buden. There are several coffee plantations – some small; some big, each owned by individuals. We were taken to one of these estates for a plantation tour  . While I had visited a coffee plantation before, what made this special was that we got to meet the owners, 6th generation planters and  a tour of their beautiful 400 year old house.

As we entered  the 100 acre estate, our eyes fell on an ornate 400 year old chariot, lying unused and blackened with dust. The house was built in typical South Indian style with a coutryard, elegantly decorated with many artefacts such as terracota musicians , an antique vermicilli press, antique crib, and rows of colorful flowers. There was a lovely water tank in the backyard that reminded me of the temple kalyanis. Besides coffee, chilli, silver oak, pepper and oranges were also grown there.

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Frizztext: A-Z challenge -Letter P

Exciting Escape: Camping at a high altitude lake!

The word ‘Camping’ brings to mind images of a warm crackling campfire, roasting marshmallows and scary stories. But there was none of this at our camp, ‘Pangong Serai’ at the Pangong   Lake, situated in the Himalayas at an altitude of 14,000 ft.

Our journey to this exquisite lake, a 6 hour drive from Leh, was a difficult, yet memorable one. The dramatic and treacherous roads, wedged between walls of snow traverse the Changla Pass, which at 5200 m or 17,000 feet is one of three highest motorable roads in the world. Braving altitude sickness; we stopped here to have a mandatory snack of hot Maggi noodles, a perfect antidote to the icy wind that was blowing. Though it was supposed to be summer, we were freezing in our shoes. We were advised to stop here for not more than 20 mins, and so moved on quickly.

From then on, the road dropped steadily, with hair-pin bends and tricky curves   through wide valleys. Some of us were sick with nausea, some with headaches and others were tottering somewhere in between! After what seemed like an endless drive, the Pangong Lake bestowed on us, a glimpse of its turquoise blue waters.

Tired and hungry, we headed to the camp site first. Comfortable beds, attached toilet and great food (only the meat-eaters were disappointed as the inclement weather was not conducive to raising cattle or poultry).We were the very first guests at the Pangong
Serai, so the camp operators didn’t leave any stone unturned in their hospitality! The few who had survived the journey went to explore the place while the rest of us decided to nurse our headaches and migraines.

By sunset, strong winds were blowing! All attempts to get a campfire going went in vain as no firewood could be found and the gusty winds weren’t favourable for a campfire too! According to the weather forecast, the temperature would drop below zero for the night. So to insulate us from the cold, we were given 2 quilts that weighed a ton and a hot water bag. The roaring winds shook our tents like waving flags and threatened to blow away our beds.

When we asked one of the workers if the tents ever blew away, he replied, “Yes, ma’m, occasionally a tent or 2 does get blown away”.  I couldn’t tell if he was joking and I spent the next few hours lying awake in bed trying to come up with strategies in the event of our tent or worse the cots flew away. But I was soon lulled to sleep by the rhythmic rocking of the cots and woke up to a calm and placid morning.

The sparkling waters surrounded by striking black-brown mountains created a magical feel, dispelling our travel woes. It was an enchanting sight with the waters changing colour with the changing position of the sun and the stark mountains that looked like a painting in the backdrop. After an extended photo-shoot of the heavenly view of the cerulean waters and mystical mountains, we set out, with heavy hearts, to return to our hotel in Leh.

This is one camping trip, I would love to return to, even though there were no marshmallows or campfire or scary stories!

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Weekly Image of Life: Exciting Escape