Bhartrihari temple is located 30 kilometers from the Alwar very close to the Sariska National Park.The Bhartrihari temple also has a lot of historical significance. It is believed that Bhartrihari Baba, the ruler of Ujjain left the place in order to become a saint. He is believed to have magical powers of healing and curing. This belied attracts a lot of devotees from different corners of the world. They come to the temple to get a permanent cure from various kinds of diseases.
Diwali one of the major Hindu festivals, it is celebrated to commemorate the victory of god over the evil, when Lord Rama defeated Ravana and rescued his wife Sita from his custody.The main festival day falls on the no-moon day of the dark half of Kartik, according to the Hindu lunar calendar. Celebrated with vigor and gaiety by people of every religion, the magical effect of Diwali creates an atmosphere of joy and festivity. Innumerable lamps are lit on the roofs and windowsills of the houses, thus, giving a divine look to the whole scenario. It is said that Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth, roams the earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean and brightly illuminated. Therefore, people, before exchanging gifts and bursting crackers, offer prayers to the deity.
Diwali reminds us of mouthwatering, delicious sweets such as Kheer, Barfi , Pedas, Rasgullas, Laddos etc. On the whole this is a people-oriented festival when enmities are forgotten, families and friends meet, enjoy and establish a word of closeness.
A wonderful pilgrim centre which symbolises national unity and communal harmony as devotees of all religions come here to pay homage.
The majestic Shri Ramdev temple at Ramdevra, Runicha, 13 kms from Pokram in Jaisalmer district, houses the shrine of Ramdev. He is believed to have been incarnated on earth for the benefit of humanity and was born in the houses of Ajmalji in the Tomar Rajput family.
Since childhood, he performed many miracles ans won the hearts of the people. He also performed a miracle before him. He is also believed to have killed a domon called Bhairav.
Kolayat is situated 50 km from Bikaner on Jaisalmer road.A large number of people come to Kolayat to redeem themselves by taking holy dips in the Kolayat lake throughout the year, but it is considered very auspicious to take a dip on Kartik Poornima. The lakeside is dotted with temples. Ghats named after these temples allow privacy to the pilgrims, with some ghats meant only for women. Visiting Kolayat has been considered to be a tirtha or pilgrimage of great importance and people believed that one day's stay at Kolayat benefits as much as 10 years spent at any other sacred place. The legendary Maharishi Kapil and the Kapilayatan lake find mention in the Puranas and Kapil Muni is believed to have descended from Lord Brahma. Take boating tour around the lake and see local people activcties on bathing ghats.
Elephant-headed Hindu god, the son of Shiva and Parvati, is widely worshipped as the supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.He is also in Jainism, and he is important in the art and Methology of Buddhist Asia. As the remover of obstacles, Ganesha is invoked when beginning worship or starting any newventure.
He has four hands, elephant's head and a big belly. His vehicle is a tiny mouse. In his hands he carries a rope (to carry devotees to the truth), an axe (to cut devotees' attachments), and a sweet dessert ball "Laddoo" (to reward devotees for spiritual activity). His fourth hand's palm is always extended to bless people. A unique combination of his elephant like head and a quick moving tiny mouse vehicle represents tremendous wisdom, intellegence, and presence of mind.
The famous Pushkar Fair is a great tourist attraction. People from around the globe come to the ancient religious town of Pushkar which is transformed into a spectacular fair ground in the month of Kartik. People bathe, worship and delight in the dazzling wares of roadside stalls. Camels are bought, sold, beautified, raced and parade. Most unusual are the small groups of men and women seen busy tattooing their hands and other parts of the body.
The fair is predominantly a rural gathering. Villagers come from different parts of the state and bring their cattle with them. On spectacular sanddunes camel, horse and bullock races are great crowd pullers. All roads lead to the lake, which is flooded with pilgrims. The movement of the crowd is like a tide of colour with currents of crimson, yellow and turquoise.
Evenings at the Pushkar Fair have their own charm. The silent night is pierced by calls of camels. Ballads are sung by actors in passionate tones. Folk
dramas, skits and folk dance are organised for the entertainment of the
After a pleasant desert trip, I was invited to a few drinks by Vijay, the owner of the tour company. His friend, a Brahmin (caste), joined us for dinner, but refused to drink. Vijay is a Rajput (caste), thus he can eat meat and drink alcohol. Even to this day, India is still defined by its casts. Just look at the personal ads of the news papers. They're full of ads that usually start off with the type of caste!
Somewhere on my walk through Bikaner, I came across a railroad track crossroad with the "do not cross" barrier down. Funny, cause there was no train coming and so the locals where crossing under the bar, even those in mopeds and motorcycles where doing it. I looked both ways and followed suit. As I was going so a local explained to me that the bloody thing comes down and blocks traffic for 30 minutes before the train crosses!
I first came across this term while visiting the Mekeragarh Fort in Jodhpur. As I walked past the Loha Gate, I noticed the handprints of 36 royal satis (31 on one side and 5 on the other side). The wives of the Maharayas performed this sacred act upon the death of their husbands. They will literally jump into the funeral pyre of their husbands and thus burn alive to their sacred death. This practice was quite acceptable in the past. It was done by royal and non-royal widows. Even to this day, one can still hear stories of modern day satis taking place on secluded villages. The India gov't doesn't endorse satis though so a major investigation usually follows.
It is a good a time as any to describe the infamous male Rajput attire. They wear quite modest and simple white pants and shirts. What give them away are their beautiful colorful turbans wrapped around their heads. Unlike the Sikhs, who wrap their turbans inwards, the Rajput wrap them outwards denoting the many designs and colors. Traditionally, the turban would tell what caste and region the male was from. I recall seeing a case in which an obvious higher caste member refused to grant a bus seat to a lower caste member with a different color turban. The lower caste male simply sat down next to him, causing the higher caste male much discomfort. Alas, it brought both a good laugh and joy to my eyes to see that even though castes are very much engrained in Indian culture, the rules of division are not as wide-spread at before.
Indians are very curious and friendly. At times they can seem intrusive as they inadvertently interrogate you. They will usually bombard you with questions: Where are you from? What's your name? What do you do? (I usually tell them I’m a student to avoid the next question) How much do you earn? First time in India? How long? Take a pic? etc etc etc. These are repeated over and over again by the countless of curious folks you meet on an everyday basis. On a day like today, with the pilgrimage at full swing in the town of Bundi (Rajasthan), I probably heard these questions a thousand times. Not to mention the many "hello" and "uncle":)... Trust me, it’s enough to drive one crazy! To make matters worse, I was followed by a mob of kids all the way from the top of the fort to the city below! I decided to play a game and so began to charge them some rupees for the answer to their questions. I even asked for 10 rupees to take a pic of them :). It was a funny game as we both laughed it off all the way down the hill. Ironically, a very cute kid put its hand into his pocket and offered me the 10 Rupees to take his pic right as we were entering the town. I declined the money of course and took the pic for free.
Eunochs traditionally lack full use of their reproductive organs. Some even have both male and female parts. Others chop off their genitalia as they renounce their male identity. While riding across Diu, we came across two Eunochs. They were wearing special Saris and long adorned hair. Eunochs have lived in India for thousands of years and have played an important role on its history. For example, in the maharaja palaces of Rajasthan, Eunochs were bestowed the prestigious duty of guarding the entrance to the Zenana, the special place in the palace where all the kings’ wives and concubines lived. Lacking the male organs, often castrated, it was hoped they would keep the male lurkers from entering this secluded area of the palace. So much for travesties being modern phenomena, eh? We took pics of each of the two in portrait style. We then gave them some money for their troubles. They are used to it as they dance during festivals and weddings. They are even considered good luck to have a few of them dance on your wedding. The rest of the time, they rely on donations for their living expenses.
Let me tell you about an Indian bathroom. They don't like showers, but do like modern plumbing. You get a bucket and a big cup. You fill up the bucket and then use the cup to pure water on yourself. It is amazing how one bucket is more then enough to wash yourself!!!
As I visited the old town center at Bundi, I noticed a Jain guru was ending his pilgrimage at the local Jain temple nearby. If you thought Catholic priests had it hard, well think again. The Jain gurus live a rather strict life. They start up like you and me. Once they get a call to follow their path they begin to strictly adhere to the Jain believes of not harming any soul, which includes animals and some plants. Such is their calling, that they begin detaching themselves from materialistic possessions. The culmination of this period will have the Gurus (male) totally naked and bare footed. Since they renounce materialistic possessions it means they walk everywhere bare footed and naked regardless of weather and location. I was told this sort of enlightenment takes over 10 years. I enter the temple in home I could meet him, but I was told he didn't se foreigners, plus he was having his one and only meal of the day.
Jain carvings, usually made out of marble, are among the more exquisite carvings in India. The Jain Temples are quite impressive with their many erotica scenes on the outside and the more reserved god inside. Their main god, Mahavir, usually has gems or crystals for eyes. The idol itself can be found in white or black jade/marble. At times, it also appears in gold, silver, or bronze. Jain also respect the elephant as it makes a scene in most temples with pilgrims or gods on top of the beasts. If you are interested on my experiences inside a Jain temple, check out my Palitana tips.
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First Impression - Smartly dressed staff greeted us upon arrival and escorted us to the reception....more
A resplendent creation in marble sparkling amid the calm waters of the Lake Pichola, (Udaipur), is...more