Hemkund, with a spectacular setting of a glacial lake surrounded by seven peaks, is a popular pilgrimage site for Sikhs. It is located in the Himalayas at an elevation of over 15,000 ft (4,600 m) in Uttarakhand state of India. Hemkund is sanskrit name derived from two meaning 'Hem' - Himalayas & "Kund", Bowl so by hindu mythology it is meant Bowl in Himalayas, where Lord Lakshman did his penance.The high altitude Lokpal lake, known as Hemkund , lies in heavenly environs. A steep trek from Ghangharia leads one to this spot in about four to six hours.
The Sikh reference begins with a line in the autobiographical poem "Bichittar Natak" by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. In it is described a place deep in the Himalyas with a glacial lake and surrounded by seven peaks where in a previous incarnation, He meditated and united with the Master. In 1930, a Sikh soldier, Havildar Sohan Singh found Hemkund as he was trekking through this region. He connected it with the place from Guru Gobind Singh's writings. The Sikh religious organizations eventually picked up on this find and designated Hemkund as a special place for worship.
Hemkund is inaccessible because of snow from October through April.
We visited Hemkund in August the weather was fine and we had a wonderful trek.It is 6 km from Ghangariya or govindham,the path is steep,but the scenery is beautiful,with fog sweeping up the valley to clear sky in minutes displaying a beautiful vally filled with beautiful wild flowers the most famous the Brahmakamal and the blue poppy.
Saussurea obvallata, also known as Brahma Kamal, is a species of flowering plant named after Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. It is native to the Himalayas, India, Northern Burma and South-West China.
I tried looking for more info on Brahmakamal..however I find people are confused about two species of flowers one that is found in the himalayas and the other of the lotus species...so finally after searching on ana on I found a little better info about the flower fron the site...http://www.indiapicks.com/stamps/Nature_Flora/NFL_1043_1046_Himalayan.htm as below
" The Brahma Kamal, a member of the Sunflower Family, is an excellent example of plant life at the upper limit of high mountains (3,000 to 4,600 metres). In membranous, boat-shaped floral trusses, it bears 2-6 sessile or shortly peduncled glabrous heads bearing purple or bluish flowers with brown fluff. Even in the cold air of the ice-bound arena, they come to bloom because of the warm space created by the leaf-cover a device that qualifies the plant to become one of the sacred species whose flowers are offered up, as pointed out by Edgeworth, at the shrines of Badrinath. The glabrous, toothed leaves are 10 to 21 cm. long, the uppermost terminating into incurved, bladdery, veined, translucent, globose or hemispheric pale head, 7.5 cm. to 15.5 cm. in diameter. The herb, 15 to 46 cm. tall, has a pubescent or glabrate stem as thick as a little finger. Its thick curved root is applied to bruises and cuts. "
Himalayan blue poppy
I have often seen images of the blue poppy and mostly people have written that it is the flower found only in the himalayas...i have seen them while on my trek to hemkund and valley of flowers.So I thought of doing some research on this flower.Lots of discussion about this flower....
" The genus Meconopsis includes the elusive Himalayan Blue Poppies, but also other plants with flowers in every colour of the rainbow. One thing they have in common is a preference for cool moist shady places. The flowers are like the more common Papaver poppies, with large delicate petals held in a cup shape, although fully double forms are found in one species.
All Meconopsis species except one are native to the Himalayan region of Asia. They were first described by western plant hunters around 150 years ago but did not become common in cultivation until the 20th century. Meconopsis betonicifolia, or its hybrids, is the blue poppy that you will find for sale, but M. grandis was the first one to be brought back from the Himalayas. The two plants have become hopelessly hybridised in cultivation and almost every plant sold as M. grandis, for example, is a hybrid. Plants sold as M. betonicifolia are more likely to be the true species. The Meconopsis Study Group have worked to classify the various plants in cultivation and several cultivars have been named from the blue poppy hybrids. Some of these hybrids are sterile, obviously requiring care and some skill to keep them propagated by division."
If interested in this flower also read...
Looks like the one i saw was the original one in the wild...............so I am happy.......
Badrinath is a Hindu holy town and a nagar panchayat in Chamoli district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is the most important of the four sites in India's Char Dham pilgrimage.Badrinath is located at 30.73° N 79.48° E. It has an average elevation of 3,415 metres (11,204 feet). It is in the Garhwal hills, on the banks of the Alaknanda River. The town lies between the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges and in the shadow of Nilkantha peak (6,560m). Badrinath is located 301km north of Rishikesh. From Gaurikund (near Kedarnath) to Badrinath by road is 233km.
The Badrinath temple is the main attraction in the town. According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple.
The temple is approximately 50 ft (15 metres) tall with a small cupola on top, covered with a gold gilt roof. The facade is built of stone, with arched windows. A broad stairway leads up to a tall arched gateway, which is the main entrance. The architecture resembles a Buddhist vihara (temple), with the brightly painted facade also more typical of Buddhist temples.Just inside is the mandapa, a large pillared hall that leads to the garbha grha, or main shrine area. The walls and pillars of the mandapa are covered with intricate carvings.
Badrinath is said to have a history going back thousands of years. According to Skand Puran, when Lord Shiv was asked about the origins of Badrinath, he simply said that it was eternal, without a beginning. The lord of this region is the god Narayan himself. When the god is eternal, his name, image, life and abode are also eternal. Only the forms of worship and their names change with the times. In the Skand Puran again, it is stated that in Satyug, this place was called Muktiprada; in Tretayug, it was Yog Sidhida; in Dwaparyug, it was Vishala and in Kalyug, it is called Badrikashram. The epic Mahabharat is believed to have been composed in the Vyas and Ganesh caves nearby in village Mana.
It is believed that one day, Lord Vishnu was reclining on his Sesha Shayya (bed made of the coils of Shesh Nag, the snake) in heaven, while Goddess Laxmi, his consort, caressed his feet. Narad, a doyen of the high learning, happened to pass that way and seeing the blissful scene, rebuked Vishnu for stooping to the ways of worldly comfort. Horrified, Vishnu sent Laxmi away to the Nagkanyas and himself, disappeared into Himalayan isolation in a valley covered with wild berries (badri) on which he fed himself. Assuming a yogdhyani (meditative) posture, he meditated for several years. Laxmi returned and finding him absent set out in search. Finally she reached the Badrivan and begged Vishnu to give up the yogdhyani posture and assume his original sringaric (playful) form which Lord Vishnu agreed to do if the valley of Badrivan remained a valley of meditation and not worldly pleasures, and if he were worshipped in both the yogdhyani and sringaric forms, the Goddess Laxmi sitting on his left side in the first and on his right in the second. As a result, they are both now worshipped as a divine couple but also as individual deities with no marital relations (as the wife is traditionally supposed to be seated on the left of her husband). It is for this reason that the Rawal (Head Priest) of the temple must not only be a Namboodripad Brahmin from Kerala, but also celibate. Strict adherance has been given to the three stipulations laid down by the yogdhyani. During the summer, Vishnu is worshipped in the sringaric form by the pilgrims and in his yogdhyani form during the winter by the gods, goddesses and sages.
Another version of the same legend says that Lord Vishnu abandoned his home in Vaikunth, renounced heavenly pleasures, and came to Badrinath to meditate in the form of Nar and Narayan. With him, he brought Narad. He hoped to inspire humans to follow his example. And follow they did – gods, sages, munis and ordinary mortals risked their lives to come and get a glimpse of Lord Vishnu. Thus the Lord was seen in his true form until Dwaparyug – also the age in which Nar and Narayan were reincarnated as Lord Krishna and Arjun (Mahabharata).
In Kalyug, Lord Vishnu disappeared from Badrivan; he felt that men had become too materialistic and hard of heart. Gods and munis were perturbed at not being able to get the Lord’s darshan. They went to Lord Brahma, who knew nothing of Lord Vishnu’s whereabouts. They then went to Lord Shiv, and then with him onto Vaikunth. Here they heard a voice from the heaven, telling them that Lord Vishnu’s image could be found in Narad Kund in Badrinath, and that this should be established so that people could pray to it. Accordingly, 6,500 years ago, the Temple was first established by Lord Brahma himself and the idol of Lord Vishnu was created by Vishwakarma, the creator of the universe.
When the temple faced attacks from non-believers, and the gods felt that they could not protect the Lord’s image from being desecrated, they hid the image in Narad Kund again. Again Lord Shiv was asked where Lord Vishnu’s image had disappeared and he replied that he himself would be reincarnated as Adi Shankracharya and re-establish the temple. So it was that Adi Shankracharya, born in a humble home in Kerala, travelled to Badrinath at the age of 12. With his divine vision he was able to locate the idol of Lord Vishnu again in the temple. Some believe that the idol is that of the Buddha, and Hindu mythology says that Buddha is the ninth incarnation of Vishnu and so could be considered another form of Badrinath.
In his revival of Hinduism campaign, when Adi Shankracharya reached Badrinath dham, he recovered the idol from under water, where it had been hidden during the supremacy of the Buddhists, in Narad Kund close by, and had it re-established. Adi Shankracharya felt that only the purest Aryan Brahmins should have the privilege of serving as the High Priest. The Aryans settled in the North, mainly in the Indo-Gangetic plain, but a handful of pure Aryan Brahmins went to Kerala, where they prescribed themselves strict social laws to maintain purity of their race. During the times of Adi Shankracharya, the Aryans had already been in India for 2,700 years; gradually they had mingled and inter-married with the indigenous population. The Buddhists had ousted Brahmanism and Sanskrit language, but the handful of Aryan Brahmins, the Namboodris, who had gone south to Kerala, had maintained complete purity of the race and religion. The great reformer felt that get the honour of serving the Lord Badrinath should go to a Namboodris alone. His order is still obeyed; the High Priest is always a Namboodri Brahmin from Kerala, where the community, closely knit, still maintains the same strict rules governing its family system, social conduct and marriage laws.
Mana Village, is inhabited by an Indo-Mongolian tribe It is the last village on the Indo-Tibet border. Many places famous in Hindu mythology lie close to Mana Village such as Vyas Gufa, Ganesh Gufa, Bhimpul and Vasudhara falls.
One can walk upto Mana on foot it is 3 km from Badrinath.We wanted to trek to Vashudhara so we walked all the way,From Badrinath all you need to do is follow the road you'll reach the village.The village houses still have stone slab roofs...the village is pretty one can also have a look at the ganesh gufa,Vyas Gufa,the Bhim pul where it is said that at the time or Swarga AArohan(going to heaven) ,Bhima,the strongest of all , placed this huge slab of stone across the Saraswati River, for them to cross over to the other side.
Another take on the bridge- as per the pujari(priest) at the Vyas Gufa,Bhima was infact very strong and he could have carried all his brothers and cross the river,however he did not want to step over Swaraswati River (rivers are considered as sacred in India) so he constructed the bridge to cross over.
Also sone info on Saraswati the invisible river most probabaly people would like to read it...
3 km north of Mana village emerges the river Saraswati from a lateral glacier. Saraswati is known as the Goddess of learning, blessed Ved Vyas to compose the epic Mahabharata at Mana. The river after touching Vyas Gufa, gets lost in the Alaknanda at Keshav Prayag. From here to Allahabad, Saraswati flows incognito. It is said that at the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad, the Saraswati remains invisible.
The ganesh gufa is located past the village,where it is believed Ved Vyas dictated Mahabharat from another Gufa(cave) higher up ,to Ganesh as script writer as recommended by Lord brahma.
Vyed Vyas gufa-Sage Ved Vyas is said to have dictated the epic Mahabharat to Ganesh from here, at the instructions of Lord Brahma. Inside the cave is a marble idol of Ved Vyas in a writing posture. Aarti is held here at 6 am and 7 pm daily during season.
Rock formation inside the Vyas Gufa appears to resemble the orderly stacking of palm leave manuscripts – oldest writing material and is worshipped as Vyas Pusthak. Maharishi Vyas is also considered, by some, as reincarnation of Vishnu.
Mata Murti Temple
Opposite Mana, on the right bank of the Alaknanda, a small temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s mother. It is said that when Lord Vishnu came to Badrinath to meditate, his mother followed him. Because he did not want his meditation to be disturbed, Lord Vishnu told her that he would visit her annually and since then she has lived in this temple, which is the focus of attention once a year. It is believed that on Vamata Dwadashi, Lord Vishnu pays a visit to Mata Murti. On this day she is worshipped by the Rawal of Badrinath; the villagers of Mana organise a prayer, havan and bhog. It is believed that Mata Murti has the power to grant vairagya or liberation from the cycle of life to those who pray to her.
valley of flowers
The Valley was introduced to the world as the Valley of Flowers by Frank S, Smith - mountaineer, explorer, botanist who camped here for several weeks in the monsoon of 1937 and did valuable exploratory work. He authored a book called "The Valley of Flowers" which unveiled the beauty and floral splendours of the valley and thus threw open the doors of this verdant jewel to nature-enthusiasts all over the world.
In 1939, Miss Margarate Legge, a botanist deputed by the botanical gardens of Edinburgh arrived at the valley for further studies. While she was traversing some rocky slopes to collect flowers, she slipped off and was lost for ever in the garden of the gods. Her sister later visited the valley and erected a memorial on the spot where she was buried by the locals. The
thoughtful memorial is still there and the lines inscribed on the marble slab
Ghangharia, a small village situated in the midst of pine forest, is the base to trek to Hemkund and Valley of Flowers. 14 kms from Govind Ghat the last bus terminus on the way, Ghangharia is a pretty hamlet of dense vegetatin, whispering forests and panoramic view of lovely Kak Bhusandi Valley.
It is here that Pushpawati River merges with Hemganga and the river is then called Lakshman Ganga. Ghangharia is the last village on the route to the Valley of Flowers. A tourist lodge and a Gurdwara offer accommodation to the tourists.
3 km from Mana village, the Vasudhara falls, 125 m high, against the backdrop of snow covered mountains and glaciers is a captivating sight. The torrents of water come gushing down and are diffused in fine showers and soft mist by wind blowing from different directions. Close to the falls are prominent peaks of Satopanth, Chaukhamba and Balkum. One is also able to see the glacial snouts from where the river Alaknanda emerges.
You can actually see packets of water cascading down,also you can hear atypical sound of water beating a tin roof, i could not see one,but i heard the sounds.
Govardhan is situated 26 km west of Mathura on the state highway to Deeg. A famous place of Hindu pilgrimage, Govardhan is located on a narrow sandstone hill known as Giriraj which is about 8 km in length. The young Lord Krishna is said to have held Giriraj up on the tip of a finger for 7 days and nights to shield the people of Braj from the deluge of rain sent down by Lord Indra.
Govardhan is set along the edge of a large masonry tank known as the Mansi Ganga, which is believed to have been brought into existence by the operation of the divine will. Its enclosures were built by Raja Bhagwan Das of Amer in 1637 and embellished by Raja Man Singh, who built a long flight of steps leading up, from the end of the tank. Close by is the famous red sandstone temple of Haridev and the Kusum Sarovar with exquisitely carved chhatris - the cenotaphs of the members of the royal family of Bharatpur, who perished whilst fighting against the British in 1825. Towards the south is the beautiful chhatri of Raja Surajmal of Bharatpur. Fine frescoes - illuminating the life of Surajmal, vividly depict darbar and hunting scenes, royal processions and wars.Related to:
- Religious Travel
Birds Watching in Dudhwa National Park
A bird watchers’ haven, Dudhwa is also noted for its wide variety-about 400 species. Its swamps and several lakes attracts varieties of waters fowl. Being close to the Himalayan foothills, Dudhwa also gets its regular winter visitors - the migratory water birds. The Banke Tal is perhaps the most popular spot for bird watchers. There are egrets, cormorants, heron and several species of duck, geese and teal.
Noted for the variety of storks that make their home here, Dudhwa has the crane-elegant in its grey and red livery, black necked storks, white-necked storks, painted storks, open billed storks and adjutant storks. Raptors like the grey headed fishing eagle, Pallas fishing eagle and marsh harriers can be seen circling over the lakes in search of prey - creating pandemonium among the water fowl as they swoop low.
An extraordinary range of owls are also to be found at the Reserve. These include the great Indian horned owl, the brown fish owl, the dusky horned owl, scoops owl, jungle owlet, the brown wood owl and tawny fish owl. Colourful birds - varieties of woodpeckers,barbets, minivets, bulbuls, kingfishers, bee eaters, orioles, drongos and hornbills are all part of its rich bird life.Related to:
Barsana, 50 km to the north-west of Mathura and 19 km north-west of Govardhan, is situated at the foot of a hill that is named after Brahma. Barsana was once the home of Radha-Rani, Krishna's beloved and consort.
Temples dedicated to the divine couple ornament the four elevations of the hill. The main among them is the Radha-Rani Temple, more fondly referred to as the Ladliji Temple. The most beautiful temple at Barsana, it was built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo of Orchha in 1675. The new marble temple adjoining it is a later addition. The other three shrines are the Man Mandir, Dargah and Mor-Kutir temples. The area between the hill housing the Radha-Rani Temple and the adjoining one, is known as the Sankari-Khor. This is the venue of the annual fair held in the month of Bhadon (July-August).
The birth anniversary of Radha-Rani is celebrated on the ninth day of the bright half of Bhadrapad (July-August) at the Mor-Kutir Temple which was built about 300 years ago. Women celebrate the occasion by giving laddus to the peacocks - to symbolize the serving of sweets by Radha to Lord Krishna.
Some of the ancient tanks also survive which can be seen, the Prem Sarovar, Roop Sagar, Jal Mahal and the Bhanokhar Tank.
Barsana is also famous for its 'Latthmar' Holi-celebration of the festival of colour that is unique to this town.Related to:
- Religious Travel
Nadgaon lies 8.5 km north of Barsana on the metalled road to Mathura (56 km). According to tradition, it was the home of Shri Krishna's foster father, Nand. On the top of the hill is the spacious temple of Nand Rai, built by the Jat ruler Roop Singh. The other temples here are dedicated to Narsingha, Gophinath, Nritya Gopal, Girdhari, Nand Nandan and Yashoda Nandan which is located half way up the hill. A little beyond is the Pan Sarovar, a large lake with masonry ghats along its sides. Legend has it, that this was the place where Shri Krishna used to take his cows for water. Not far away is the Kadamb grove called Udhoji - Ka- Kyar.Related to:
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The most celebrated of Shri Krishna's abode, Gokul lies to the west of Sadabad, 1.6 km from Mahavan and 15 km south-east of Mathura, on the Mathura - Etah metalled road. It was here that Lord Krishna was brought up in secrecy by Yashoda, in the pastoral beauty of this village on the banks of the Yamuna.
Gokul attained importance during the time of Vallabhacharya (1479-1531) when it became a major centre of the Bhakti cult. The three oldest temples in the place are those dedicated to Gokulnath, Madan Mohan and Vitthalnath, said to have been built around 1511. The other temples include those of Dwarika Nath and Balkrishna in the shrines which were built in the honour of Lord Mahadeo in 1602 by Raja Vijai Singh of Jodhpur.
The celebration of Janmashtami in August is unparalleled for its gaiety and melas are constant attraction here. Other festivities celebrated with traditional fervour include the Janmotsav in Bhadon, the Annakut festival and Trinavat Mela held on the fourth day of the dark half of Kartik month.
Important sites worth visiting in Gokul include the Gokulnath Temple, Raja Thakur Temple, Gopal Lalji Temple and the Morwala Temple.Related to:
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- Historical Travel
Mathura/Birth place of Lord Krishna
Today, Mathura is a city of temples and shrines abustle with the thousands of devotees who come to visit the city of Lord Krishna. A splendid temple at the Katra Keshav Dev marks the spot that is believed to be the Shri Krishna Janmasthan - the birthplace of the Lord, by his devotees. Another beautiful shrine, the Gita Mandir, located on the Mathura -Vrindavan Road has a fine image of Shri Krishna in its sanctum. The whole of the Bhagwad Gita is inscribed on the walls of this temple.
The most popular shrine at Mathura is the Dwarikadhish Temple to the north of the town, dedicated to Shri Krishna. This was built in 1815 by a staunch and wealthy devotee, Seth Gokuldas Parikh, Treasurer of the State of Gwalior.
There are about 25 ghats in Mathura today, of which the most important is the Vishram Ghat. Where according to legend, Shri Krishna took his rest after killing Kansa.
It is at Vishram Ghat that the traditional parikrama (circumbulation of all the important religious and cultural places of the city) starts and ends. The 12 ghats to the north of Vishram Ghat include the Ganesh Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat with its Neelakantheshwar Temple, Saraswati Sangam Ghat, Chakratirtha Ghat, Krishnaganga Ghat, Somatirth or Swami Ghat, Ghantagharan Ghat, Dharapattan Ghat, Vaikuntha Ghat, Navtirtha or Varahkshetra Ghat, Asikunda ghat and Manikarnika Ghat. To the south, there are 11 ghats - the Guptatirth Ghat, Prayag Ghat marked by the Veni Madhav Temple, Shyam Ghat, Ram Ghat, Kankhal Ghat, the site of the Janmashtami and Jhula festivals, Dhruva ghat, Saptrishi Ghat, Mokshatirth Ghat, Surya Ghat, Ravan Koti Ghat and Buddha Ghat.
The Vishram Ghat is lined with elegant temples and some of Mathura's most important shrines are found here - the Mukut Temple, Radha-Damodar, Murli Manohar, Neelkantheshwar, Yamuna-Krishna, Langali Hanuman and Narasimha temples. The baithak of the great Vaishnava Saint, Shri Chaitanya, is also near by.Related to:
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