Category Archives: Just Me

Comic Strip Festival gets bigger, bolder and rewarding too!

The Annual feature for the comic lovers of the world is here again. If you love comics, than you have enough time to plan for this once in a lifetime trip to the European Capital as Brussels is holding its 8th annual Comic Strip Festival from 1st to 3 September 2017. From their beginning at the turn of the century, Belgian comics have really become famous the world over. Many illustrators and writers from our country and its capital are well-known beyond its borders. That is reason enough to dedicate a weekend to this rich cultural heritage.

Bande Dessinée Mur BD Stripmuur Le jeune Albert (c) Olivier van de Kerchove

For its 8th running, the Brussels Comic Strip Festival is marking the occasion with its fair share of new things. Beyond the traditional Balloon’s Day Parade, conferences, and autographs, the event will literally expand its scope. The festival will award Europe’s biggest prizes, offer premiere film and manga screenings, madcap performances, and many other original activities.

Fete de la Bd – Stripfeest (c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier

Since its debut in 2010, the Brussels Comic Strip Festival has become the main event for comics fans. Young and old, novices and experts, all share a passion for the ninth art and come together each year to participate in the variety of activities on offer. More than 100,000 people and some 250 famous authors gather every year. For this 2017 edition, the essential events are definitely on the schedule: autograph sessions, the predecessors of the great Oldtimer Rally, the Balloon’s Day Parade and many more. There’s a whole range of activities to delight everyone.

© visit.brussels – Eric Danhier – 2017

Festival also gets a new prestigious location. Besides the Parc de Bruxelles, le Brussels Comic Strip Festival will take over the prestigious setting of Brussels’ Palais des Beaux-Arts, BOZAR. Two new places that pair phenomenally well together for the Brussels Comic Strip Festival. Festival-goers will be able to stroll along as they please, enjoying countless activities and novelties on offer wherever they go. From hundreds of autograph signings to premiere cartoon screenings and multiple exhibitions and encounters with professionals, ninth art fans will have plenty to keep them entertained. For the first time in its history and thanks to its new set-up at Bozar, the Brussels Comic Strip Festival will also be able to offer premiere film screenings!

Fete de la BD – Stripfeest

Comic strip writing has become something of an endangered activity in these last few years, with the industry’s professionals often finding it hard to make a living from it. As the organisers of the Comic Strip Festival, visit.brussels has been working in close collaboration with the Brussels-Capital Region in a bid to show its support for the creative process and bring existing initiatives together by launching a series of awards, most of which will be in cash and will allow the winners to fund their work. Offering €100,000 in prize money, a total of seven awards have already been confirmed, with several more in line to be added to the list between now and September.

Jean-David Morvan

Brussels Comic Strip Festival will award some brand new comics prizes for the first time: The Atomium Prizes, during a gala evening when no less than €100,000 will be awarded for the best new works from the past year. French comics writer, Jean-David is the sponsor of the Atomium Prizes. Jean-David Morvan will be on hand at his exhibition throughout the Brussels Comic Strip Festival. There he will discuss his work and welcome his main contributors to his couch. His contributors will come and show him (as well as the audience) their new panels, answer questions, improvise autograph sessions and other original performances.

This year the Brussels Comic Strip Festival is also celebrating good old Gaston’s 60th birthday. To mark the occasion, the Spirou Festival is inviting the famous, sixty-year-old lazybones to the Brussels Comic Strip Festival. An exhibition, a musical performance, conferences – it will be impossible to miss this perennial blunderer.

Over these three days, the European capital will eat, sleep, and breathe comics. A little train will travel around town and stop at the essential Ninth Art destinations around Brussels (Comics Art Museum, the MOOF, murals, book stores, etc.), free guided tours will bring visitors to see comics murals, many organisations from the Brussels-Capital Region will offer activities and discounts related to the Ninth Art. In short, from 1-3 September 2017, comics will be on the menu just about everywhere!

The Brussels Comic Strip Festival has become more international over the last two years. As part of the MIXITY.2017 year and in keeping with the diverse nationalities that call Brussels home, the booths and activities on offer are multi-cultural and multi-lingual. Languages will be well represented: in addition to the three national languages, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and even Korean will be heard. Clear information available in several languages will be included in the Brussels Comic Strip Festival programme. The Brussels Comic Strip Festival is a Brussels-Capital Region initiative with the support of the City of Brussels and the COCOF, coordinated by visit.brussels.

Eroticism in comics

The 2017 Brussels Comic Strip Festival is taking advantage of its new setting to offer a number of comics-themed exhibitions. Numerous exhibitions will be held there, allowing visitors to explore certain iconic realms of the 9th Art. There will even be an exhibition devoted to eroticism in comics behind closed doors.

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Ten festivals to soak in Kerala this March

Kerala is always serene, always worth and always enjoyable. It remains almost same all the year round. And every time you can find a reason or two to go for a trip there. But this March there are not just one or couple, but ten reasons to go to different parts of Kerala. Apparently, there are perhaps more, but I have shortlisted ten for you. These are all temple festivals of Kerala. Temple festivals of Kerala are not like ones in the north. They are more elaborate and ritualistic. Most of them have elephants involved, which make them very beautiful. A great ensemble of Kerala’s culture. Choose yours…

Parade of offerings to Bhagavathy

chettikulangara_bharaniOne of the most vibrant festivals of Kerala, the Chettikulangara Bharani offers arresting visuals and showcases the cultural richness of the state. An annual event held at the Chettikulangara Temple during the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February-March), the festival is dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathy. The highlight of the festival is the spectacular Kettukazhcha where vibrantly decked up structures are taken out in a ceremonial procession. The therus (chariots) and kuthiras (horse motifs) as well as huge icons of Bhima and Hanuman, two Indian epic characters, are flaunted in front of the temple from the 13 karas (region) near the temple on the festival day. Kettukazhcha is an offering of the people to the deity. These majestic structures are architectural marvels and are a testimony to the architectural and aesthetic expertise of the people of this region. The parade of huge brightly decorated structures, with the bigger ones assumed as horses and smaller ones as chariots, produce a highly surreal visual and the joyous crowd accompanying the pageant is sure to leave lasting impressions on spectators.

Where: Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple, Mavelikara, Alappuzha. Nearest railway station is Mavelikkara, about 6 km away while nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, about 85 km from Alappuzha.

When: March 3, 2017

‘Mela’ of alephants at Paripally

paripally-gajamelaParipally Gajamela forms part of the annual festival at the Kodimoottil Sree Bhagavathy Temple dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali. The event witnesses parading of as many as upto 50 caparisoned elephants. Further, a host of cultural programmes are staged as part of this event on the temple premises. The elephants are paraded on the last day of the ten-day festival. Head off to Kodimoottil Bhagavathy Temple in the month of March to attend the Gajamela festival.

Where: Kodimoottil Bhagavathy Temple, Parippally, Kollam. Nearest railway station is  Kollam Junction, about 22 km away from Paripally while nearest airport is Trivandrum International Airport, about 45 km away

When: March 5, 2017

Elephant race at Guruvayur

guruvayur_temple_anayottamYou might have had goose bumps watching Usain Bolt running his way into the pages of world records. But ever seen a race where the participants are not the two-legged human beings but the four-legged giant jumbos, each weighing some 12,000 pounds? Now here is a chance for you to witness such an event. Guruvayur Anayottam (elephant race) as it is called in Malayalam marks the beginning of the annual Guruvayur festival, celebrated in the month of Kumbham (February-March) at the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple in Guruvayur, district of Thrissur. The Guruvayur Temple is one of the most renowned and oldest of all temples in Kerala. Though the winning elephant will not get a gold medal, he will have the honour to carry the Thidambu (the replica of the idol of Guruvayoorappan) on all special occasions for one year.

Where: Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple, Guruvayur, Thrissur district

When: March 8, 2017

Pongala for Attukalamma

attukala_pongalA festival like no other, Attukala Pongala, the largest congregation of women in the state, is celebrated at the renowned Attukal Bhagavathi Temple in Kerala’s capital city of Thiruvananthapuram. The festival entered the Guinness records for being the largest single gathering of women for a religious activity. Only women are allowed to participate in the Pongala ritual. Pongala (literally means to boil over) is a ritualistic offering of a sweet dish consisting of rice porridge, sweet brown molasses, coconut gratings, nuts and raisins. The pongala is offered by the devotees in the belief that the presiding deity of the temple – the Goddess – popularly known as Attukalamma will be appeased. As the festival sees a huge influx of devotees, the crowd spills over to the major roads in the city and the festival has a whole city revelling in festive splendour.

Where: Attukal Bhagavathi Temple, East Fort, Thiruvananthapuram. Thiruvananthapuram railway station is about 3 km away while Trivandrum International Airport is about 5 km away

When: March 11, 2017

Procession of tuskers

chinakkathoor_pooramA grand procession of a fleet of 27 tuskers bedecked with caparisons- this sight of the gentle giants in richly ornate attire is the highlight of the Chinakkathoor Pooram held annually at the Sree Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple in the district of Palakkad in north Kerala. The Panchavadyam or traditional Kerala orchestra and pandimelam which accompany the Pooram add the much-needed fervour to the festivities. Various art forms like theyyam, poothanum thirayum, kaalavela, kathakali, kumbakali, thattinmelkoothu are also performed adding to the festive spirit. For those yearning to watch this visual splendour of colours and art forms, Sree Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple is the place to be.

Where: Chinakkathoor Bhagavathi Temple at Palakkad. Nearest railway station is Shoranur, about 20 km away, while nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, about 103 km away.

When: March 11, 2017

Annual festival at Thirunakkara

thirunakkara-arattuThe annual 10-day festival at the Thirunakkara Temple draws to a close with the Thirunakkara Arattu ceremony. Usually nine caparisoned elephants take part in the Arattu procession which begins in the afternoon. Folk arts like Mayilattom (peacock dance), Velakali etc, are presented in the temple compound in the evening. A major attraction is the all-night Kathakali performances on the third and fourth days of the festival.

Where: Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, Kottayam district

When: March 15-24, 2017

When men are dressed up as women

kottangkulangara-chamayavilakkuA very unique festival. A gender bender of a festival where men cross dress, the Kottangkulangara Chamayavilakku celebrated at the Kottangkulangara Devi Temple in Kollam stands apart from the rest of the festivals in Kerala with this unique flavour. This novel event is part of a special temple ritual during the festival. During the festival night, men dressed up in women’s attire bearing traditional lamps will swarm the premises of the temple.  They will then move as a procession towards the temple to the accompaniment of traditional orchestra. This unique festival attracts hordes of crowds each year.

Where: Kottangkulangara Devi Temple at Kollam. Nearest railway station at Kollam is about 13 km while nearest airport is Trivandrum International Airport, about 71 km from Kollam town.

When: March 24-25, 2017

Where Duryodhana is revered

malanada-kettukazchaAt Poruvazhi Malanada Temple, tradition deviates. This is a temple which reveres and showers praises on an antagonist. Here, the worshipped figure is Duryodhana, considered a villain in the Indian epic Mahabharata. Another highlight at the temple is the absence of an idol or a sanctum sanctorum. Come March, and the Temple bears witness to one of the most spectacular events- Malanada Kettukazcha an eight-day festival celebrated in all pomp and gaiety. Richly decorated structures known as Edupu Kala and Edupu Kuthira are taken out to the accompaniment of the traditional orchestra of drums.  These huge structures may even be 70 to 80 ft tall as the making involves intense competition between the people of the surrounding villages. The majestic structures are then taken out on chariots or carried on the shoulders by the devotees. Cultural programs are also performed during the night and Kathakali based on the story ‘Nizhalkuthu’ is customary. This impressive procession which is celebrated with much zeal witnesses huge participation by devotees from far and near.

Where: Poruvazhi Malanada Temple, Adoor in Pathanamthitta district. Nearest railway station is Chengannur, about 30 km away from Malanada while nearest airport is Trivandrum International Airport, about 92 km from Adoor.

When: March 24, 2017

Temple on canoes

Attuvela-MahotsavamPicture this- A vibrantly decked up and illuminated replica of a temple drifting across the waters accompanied by an entourage of brilliantly decorated small canoes with the temple percussion music resounding in the background.  For those yearning to witness this spectacle head off to Elankavu Bhagavathy Temple during the Attuvela Mahotsavam. Attuvela Mahotsavam is a water carnival. Legend has it that it represents the welcome ceremony accorded to the Goddess of Kodungalloor who arrives to visit her sister, the Goddess of Elamkavu. The temple has Goddess Bhagavathy as its presiding deity. The cynosure of all eyes during the two-day festival is the huge replica of the temple sailing down the waters. This arresting procession of canoes starts from Attuvela kadavu, 2 km away from the temple.

Where: Elankavu Bhagavathy Temple, Vaikom in Kottayam. Nearest railway station is Ernakulam, about 30 km while nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, about 50 km away.

When: March 29, 2017

Dance in the trance

kodungalloor-bharaniImagine the premises of a temple getting bathed in a sea of red as a flurry of oracles draped in vermilion cloth scurry around the temple wielding their swords, the highlight being the presence of hordes of women oracles dancing in trance alongwith their male counterparts. This intense event called kaavu theendal forms part of the annual Bharani festival held at the Bhagavathy Temple in Kodungalloor. A spectacle in itself, this festival has heavily decked up oracles dancing in divine ecstasy. The devotees too run along with the oracles as they circumambulate the temple in spiritual euphoria. Oracles, both men and women, from different parts of the State run around the temple and smite their crown with the sword, proclaiming their communion with the Mother Goddess. The devotees strike the temple rafters with sticks and hurl offerings over the roof and on to the inner quadrangle. The Kodungalloor Bharani is a spectacle in itself. The festival usually falls in the Malayalam month of meenam (roughly March/April) every year. The temple remains closed for a week following the festival. The temple still follows a ritual from the days of the yore wherein purification ceremonies, a custom which is believed to restore the sanctity of the temple, are performed after the ‘kaavu theendal.’

Where: Kodungalloor Bhagavathy Temple at Kodugalloor in Thrissur. Nearest railway station is Irinjalakuda, about 20 km while nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, about 30 km.

When: March 30, 2017

 

Missing the chill! Chill out with these festivals

Missing the chill this year, isn’t so? Nevertheless, festivities are on. New year comes with a number of festivals celebrating India’s dance and musical traditions.  One among them Swathi Sangeethotsvam has already started last night. So, one might have plenty of options to travel from skiing to sun bathing at beach, but there is still always more to do. This month also has Makar Sakranti (14th January), considered to be one of the most auspicious days of the year and also an occasion of many travels and pilgrimages. Bringing you the selected few events for this month.

Mamallapuram Dance Festival

mamallapuram-danceMamallapuram has retained its fame in stone, thanks to the great contribution of Pallava artisans. It is among the most outstanding examples of Dravidian art and architecture and a jewel in the crown of Tamil Nadu. In a land that is liberally strewn with some of the best in temple art, Mamallapuram holds its own, and stands as a silent yet eloquent witness to the glory of its creators.Unfortunately most of the work was left incomplete, and time and nature have also eroded the remains of this once great port. Yet, Mamallapuram’s wonders in rock leave visitors enthralled, conveying as they do, an impression of beauty and harmony. The monuments are floodlit at night and so it is possible to enjoy their beauty even after sunset. The Mamallapuram dance festival is conducted every year during Dec-Jan. It is a month long festival and dances take place during the weekends. Classical dances such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Mohini Attam, Odissi, Kathak etc., are performed by well-known exponents of the art. he dances are performed against the magnificent backdrop of the Pallava Rock Sculpture in the city of Mahabalipuram ,Tamil Nadu. The Pallava Rock Sculptures provide an aesthetic touch to this cultural dance festival where the best folk dancers in India perform. The crowd gets a visual treat by the incredible performances of Indian folk dancers where artists perform beautifully decked up in the finest traditional attire representing the rich cultural heritage of the country. Mamallapuram is a popular beach resort and a culture front, especially for the tourists, who come from the world over who love to imbibe and soak in the rich traditions. This town beach is full of ancient monuments, sculptures, caves, monolithic temples and beaches. In Mamallapuram there is a Shore Temple that was built during the reign of Narsimha Varman of the Pallava dynasty in 8th century A.D. During the dance festival time the stones of temple begin to resonate with music and dance rhythms.

When: 21 December 2016 — 21 January 2017

Where: Chennai (58 km) is the nearest airport for domestic and international flights. Chennai is connected with all the major places in India. The nearest railway stations are Chengalpattu (29 km) and Chennai (58 km). From these stations one has to take road journey to reach Mamallapuram. Buses from here to Pondicherry, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu and Chennai to Mamallapuram daily. Tourists can also hire taxis from Chennai.

Rajarani Music Festival

Rajarani FestivalEntrancing performances by well-known Odissi and Hindustani vocal and music maestros bring alive the architectural beauty of the Rajarani temple at this festival. The temple, often referred to as the Khajuraho of the east, is famous for its elaborate erotic sculptured figurines. Celestial music, sublime surroundings and soothing climes of late winter—soul traverses to an elevated sphere leaving you utterly relaxed. Holidays are made with this kind of experience that creates a lasting mark in your mind. Rajarani Music Festival held against the backdrop of the 11th century Rajarani Temple in Bhubaneswar is such an evening of concerts: it’s relaxing, entertaining and uplifting. The city has a large assemblage of celebrated temples of which the Rajarani Temple is one of the most conspicuous. It’s remarkable for the absence any presiding deity in it. The temple is famous for its ornate deul or compass and the statues of eight Dikpals guarding the eight cardinal directions of the temple. To show case the glorious tradition of Indian classical music, the Rajarani Music Festival was conceived to be organised by the Department of Tourism in association with Bhubaneswar Music Circle. The musical evenings are resplendent with excellent performances by the great maestros of Indian classical music creating an allegory of darbari gayans (musical performances in an Indian king’s court) of age old histories. Eminent instrumentalists and vocalists of India have rendered scintillating performance in this festival over the years.

When: January 18-20, 2017

Where: Rajarani temple, Bhubaneshwar, Odisha

Mukteshwar Dance Festival

mukteshwar-dance-festivalThis is another festival organised by Odisha Tourism just before the Rajarani Festival. While Rajarani Festival is all about classical vocal music traditions, Mukteshwar Festival is all about dance, especially Odissi dance. This festival is staged in front of the 1100-years-old Mukteswar temple in Bhubaneswar. Renowned Odissi dancers from around the world take part in this festival performing solo, duet and group presentations. Mukteshwar temple, one of the most prominent temples of Bhubaneswar, has been constructed in the style that is quite similar to the one used in the Kalinga School of Temple Architecture. The splendid Torana of the temple, an ornamental arched gateway, is very much reminiscent of the influence of Buddhism in Orissa. This temple is a very important part of cultural life of the people of Orissa as the architecture at the temple entrance is considered to be one of the most beautiful specimens of the Orissan School of architecture. This temple signifies the transitional phase of the architecture of Orissa between the initial and the later stages of Kalinga architectural style. The beautiful architectural works of the temple add to the splendor of the Mukteshwar Utsav. This festival should not be missed by the people who take interest in the traditional dance forms of India.

When: January 14-16, 2017

Where: Mukteshwar temple, Bhubaneshwar, Odisha

Swathi Sangeethotsavam

swathi-sangeethotsavamThe mighty pillars of the Kuthiramalika Palace in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram are pulsating with the mellifluous notes sung at the Swathi Sangeetholsavam or Swathi Music Festival. This musical extravaganza, already started on 4th January, lets you listen to the spellbinding compositions of Swathi Thirunal, the erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore. Organised every year to pay tribute to Swathi Thirunal, the concert celebrates the brilliant notes composed by this legendary maestro which continue to enthrall music lovers even now. A patron of music and a musician himself, Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma has to his credit more than 400 compositions in Carnatic music as well as Hindustani music. He set a new course and direction to the musical tradition of Kerala. The concert held in the Kuthiramalika Palace adjoining the famous Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, sees musical performances in both Hindustani and Carnatic styles. The musical festival which is attended by eminent musicians from across the country brings together those passionate about classical music and the experts as well. Entry is free.

When: January 4-13, 2017

Where: Kuthiramalika Palace, East Fort, Thiruvananthapuram

Joydev Fair, Kenduli

kenduli_melaFor an unforgettable dose of West Bengal folk music don’t miss the Kenduli Mela, where the mystical wandering Baul musicians gather to perform. Dressed in saffron robes, and playing a distinctive instrument called the Ektara, they sing uniquely about life’s philosophy. Joydev-Kenduli is renowned as the birth place of great Sanskrit poet Joydev who flourished in 12th Century and composed the well known Geet – Govinda, a Sanskrit Lyrical poem. Annual- Mela is held in the village Kenduli in the last day of Bengali month Pous and first 2 days of Magh and is attended by thousands of pilgrims including Bauls. The word ‘Baul’  is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Batul’ which means ‘mad’. Baul philosophy emphasises love for all human beings as the path leading to divine love. The Joydeb-Kenduli mela (fair), held every year in West Bengal’s Birbhum district on Makar Sankranti in mid-January. It is a gathering of wandering minstrels (Bauls, primarily) like no other in India. Gathering in almost equal numbers are lay aficionados addicted to the Baul and Fakir ways of life. Joydev Mela is mainly a music festival but as the Poush Mela it attracts craftsmen from the whole region, mainly selling wooden kitchen supplies, handmade covers or cheap jewellery. During five days, the 3 000 inhabitants of Kenduli Village welcome thousand and thousand of pilgrims who come mostly to listen to the bauls, the Wandering minstrels, the Mad Ones, bearers of a unique musical tradition, included in the list of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO. The fair is held on the banks of the Ajay River which is not only of some historical interest – the fair celebrates the great poet Joydev on the day he is claimed to have taken a bath at the Kadaambokhandi ghat of the river around 800 years ago.

When: January 14-16, 2017

Where: Kenduli village, around 30 kilometers from Shantiniketan in West Bengal.

Pangsau Pass Winter Festival

pangsaupass2Pangsau Pass Winter Festival (PPWF) 2017 will be celebrated from Jan 20 next year, after a gap of five years. It was postponed last year just before the take off. Hopefully it will be there this year. As per the official record, PPWF in its last edition was able to attract two lakh tourists in three days which is a first by any state tourism festival in the North East. There are nine or ten state festivals, of which PPWF is ranked second after Tawang Festival but in terms of tourist inflow, PPWF tops the list. The flavour of the festival will be same and better from earlier editions and all the tribes of eastern belt will be called to add more zest to the celebration. The ‘Pangsau Pass Winter Festival’ was first started in 2007 and was commenced in a befitting manner with support from the indigenous sources and since then there was no looking back, because, each year it began to grow bigger and better. Finally, 2 years later in 2009, the Arunachal Pradesh Tourism department took PPWF under its wing. PPWF is normally designated as a global village as it conjoins all the diverse tribes of the North East and Myanmar to reveal their customs and culture in broader perspective. Amazingly, the cultural carnival has traversed all the social barriers, inspiring the secluded regions to celebrate the ethnic existences that strongly bond together all the distinct tribes with diverse cultures and different religious backgrounds.The Pangsau Pass is located in one of the most peaceful and eco-friendly territory, it is nature’s store house. As the odyssey of discovery penetrates the heart of ethnic extravaganza, spontaneously, amazing events begins to weave unforgettable memories.

When: 20-22 January 2017

How to reach: Pangsau Pass or Pan Saung Pass is 3,727 feet (1,136 m) in altitude, lies on the crest of the Patkai Hills on the India-Burma (Myanmar) border. The pass offers one of the easiest routes into Burma from the Assam plains through Jairampur town of Changlang district, Arunachal Pradesh. It is named after the closest Burmese village, Pangsau, that lies 2 km beyond the pass to the east in and around historical Stilwell Road. The Ledo Road (Stilwell Road) began at Ledo, the railhead, and passed through Lekhapani, Jagun, Jairampur (the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary and beginning of Inner Line check gate), and Nampong before switchbacking steeply upwards through densely forested hills to the pass, 12 km away. The distance from Ledo to Pangsau Pass is 61 km.

Jaipur Literature Festival

jaipur-literature-festivalFrom modest beginnings in 2006, the Jaipur Literature Festival has grown into the largest literary festival in Asia-Pacific. It now claims to be the biggest free literature festival on the earth. This year festival completes a decade, hence it makes it more important for the organisers. In past nine years more than 1300 speakers have addressed the gathering and more than 1.2 million book lovers have been part of it. The Festival takes place in late January each year. Both Indian authors as well as those from abroad appear at the Festival. The sessions consist of readings, discussions, and questions and answers. It’s possible to buy the authors’ books and get them signed. In addition, there’s a range of stalls selling everything from food to handicrafts. There’s also an outdoor lounge bar, for relaxing. Music performances are held in the evenings, after the literary sessions are over. In recent years, the Festival has turned into quite a fashionable occasion, and attracts plenty of socialites from Delhi and Jaipur. Authors will discuss works related to topic. There will also be emphasis on poetry, the literature of Southeast Asia, and the seven states of northeast India. There will be live music events, heritage walks and much more.

When: January 19-23, 2017

Where: At the historic Diggi Palace hotel in Jaipur. The hotel is located in Sangram Colony, Ashok Nagar, which is just off M.I. Road, around 10 minutes walk from the Old City of Jaipur. As Diggi Palace and its venues were overflowing in 2012, the music stage has been shifted to a different venue at The Clarks Amer lawns (around 15 minutes drive south of Diggi Palace).

Arthunkal Perunnal

arthunkalThe Arthunkal Perunnal (perunnal meaning feast) is the annual feast of St. Sebastian held in the St. Andrew’s Forane Church at Arthunkal in Alappuzha. The event sees devotees from across the state throng the church to participate in the feast which is held in January every year. One of the main events during the feast involves a ceremonial procession wherein the statue of St. Sebastian is taken out from the church to the beach and back. Another intriguing event is the ceremony on the final day when devotees crawl on their knees all the way from the nearby beach to the church. Church built by Portuguese missionaries in a coastal hamlet near here is a model of religious harmony with a tradition of hosting Sabari pilgrims returning after worshipping Lord Ayyappa. Pilgrims from across the state visit the St Andrew’s Church at Arthunkal here and pay their respects to the idol of Saint Sebastian between the months of November and January during the Mandala and Makaravilakku season of the Sabarimala temple. Legend has it that one of the early priests of the church, popularly called Arthunkal Veluthachan (fair skinned father), was a friend of Lord Ayyappa. The visit of the pilgrims commemorates the bond they shared, especially as the priest was loved by the local people who believed he had healing powers.

When: January 10-20, 2017

Where: St. Andrew’s Forane Church, Arthunkal, Alappuzha. Nearest railway station Cherthala is about 8 km from here and Alappuzha is about 22 km from here.

Camel Festival

camel-festival-bikanerJanuary is just the right month for a desert spree, and Bikaner just the right place to see the ships of the desert. In the camel country Bikaner, these desert leviathans pull heavy cartloads, transport grain and even work at the wells. The Camel Festival begins with a colourful procession of bedecked camels against the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh Fort, the festivity advances to the open sand-spreads of the grounds, followed by the best breed competition, the tug-of-war contest, camel dance,  acrobatics, etc. The camels display amazing footwork, dancing gracefully to the slightest direction of their trainers. Bridal, bridles, bejewelled necks, jingling anklets and long, lanky camel shadow on dusky sands cast a magical spell. Hundreds of tourists and thousands of locals and dignitaries revel in this man-and-animal affair organised especially for the tourists. The evenings close with a different tenor and tempo altogether: a traditional rendezvous of renowned artistes of Rajasthan and the local folk performers. The jubilant skirt-swirling dancers, the awe-inspiring fire dance, and the dazzling fireworks light up the fortified desert city of Bikaner.

When: January 14-15, 2017

Where: Bikaner is connected by rail and road with all the major cities. The nearest airport is at Jodhpur (243 kms).

International Kite Festival

kite-festivalGujarat is vibrant with the Kite Festival (Makar Sankranti) which is celebrated with colors of joy, colors of life. The Kite Festival signify Gujarat’s ‘Cultural Strength’ and like the kites, Gujarat soars high to touch the skies to be the ‘best in the world.’ All over the State, in the Month of January, the serene blue sky with colorful kites look splendid and since morning to evening remains dotted with vivid splashes of color with kites in a variety of hues, shapes and sizes. The excitement continues with the onset of night. As the sun sets and darkness hovers over, youngsters continue competing each other in supremacy in the sky, now with the paper lanterns tied to their kite-strings. These lanterns known as tukkal swaying at the mild stroke of wind presents a lovely image while some try to cut off these tukkals and enjoy the fun. Makar Sankranti (Kite Flying Day) marks the end of a long winter with the return of the sun to the Northern Hemisphere. According to the Hindu astronomy the sun enters the zodiac of Makara (Capricorn). Hence, it is called Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti. The special significance attached to the celebration of Makar sankranti, is Kite Flying. The gods who are believed to have slumbered for six long months are now awake and the portals of heaven are thrown open! Uttarayan is celebrated all over Gujarat but the excitement is high at Ahmedabad, Surat, Nadiad and Vadodara. Surat, especially is known particularly for the strong string which is made by applying glass powder on the row thread to provide it a cutting edge.

When: January 14, 2017

 

Where would you like to go this June!

This post is couple of days or more late, but still worth perhaps. Its the Monsoon time. Kerala will be receiving it in a few days, although it is already late by a week. Rest of India will be patiently waiting for its turn sweltering in humid heat until then. But it is still the vacation time for the most parts of India and hill stations will be packed of tourists. Besides the routine trips, have a look at the some of the other ideas for travel this month that I can recollect.

1. Boat race season kicks off at Champakkulam

Champakulam Boat raceThe snake boat race of Kerala or the vallamkali (boat race) is not just an event that lasts for a few hours or a day. Rather, it is a phenomenon the impact of which will last for a lifetime. In Kerala, the season of boat races starts with the famous Champakkulam Moolam Vallam Kali. The festival takes place on the placid waters of River Pamba at Champakkulam, a serene village in Alappuzha district. It is held on the moolam asterism in the Malayalam month of mithunam (roughly June/July). Since it is by far the largest sporting event in the world, the snake boat race is often considered to be the ultimate test of endurance, strength, speed and skill. On the day of the race, people, both locals and travellers from far and near flock to the river bank to enjoy the race.  As the sun comes straight on top of all gathered, boats in various categories like the chundan (snake boat), veppu, iruttu kuthichurulan and others from nearby regions assemble at the starting point of the race. Among these boats, the snake boats with its fascinating design are the cynosure of all eyes. The largest team sport in the world, the sheer grandeur of the vallamkali and the regal bearing of each of the mammoth snake boats need to be witnessed firsthand to be understood.

When: 20th June 2016

Getting there: Nearest railway station is Alapuzha, about 17 km, while nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, about 85 km from Alapuzha town

2. Ambubachi Mela, Kamakhya

Women offering prayers during "Ambubachi" festival at Laxminarayan  Temple during Ambubachi Mela
Women offering prayers during “Ambubachi” festival at Laxminarayan Temple during Ambubachi Mela

Very popular annual festival of the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati. But it is unusual too. In this annual festival the temple remains closed for three days because these are the days of annual menstruation period of goddess Kamakhya. On these three days devotees neither worship nor read holy books. even farmers do not plough the land. Temple reopens on the fourth day, with a rush of devotees who come to receive bits of cloth that are supposedly soaked with her menstrual fluid. It’s considered to be extremely auspicious and powerful. One of the 52 shakti peeths, Kamakhya temple is also known for its tantric rituals. This particular festival is considered to be the haven for that. Devotees come from far off places to meet the Tantric Sadhus and take their blessings.

When: 22-25 June 2016

Where: Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam

3. Celebration of Indus at Sindhu Darshan

Sindhu_DarshanAs the name suggests, the Sindhu Darshan festival is a celebration of River Sindhu or Indus. It’s one of the world’s longest rivers, and gave India its name. Not an old festival though, this started as a political statement and then slowly converted itself into a cultural event. It was first started in the October, 1997 and continues to be held every year since then, attracting large number of foreign as well domestic tourists. This is the time, when holiday season starts in Ladakh region. Festival adds to that. The festival aims to project the Sindhu as a symbol of multi-dimensional cultural identity, communal harmony, and peaceful co-existence in India. It promises a kaleidoscope of Indian culture and an exciting array of performing arts. This year, it would be the 20th Sindhu Darshan festival.

When: 23-26 June 2016

Where: On the banks of the river Sindhu, Leh, Ladakh

4. Summer Festival, Shimla

Shimla_summerShimla is of course one of the India’s all time favourite hill stations. At a time when the holiday season is at its peak, there is a big festival to keep tourists in high spirits. This renowned event has been held regularly in Shimla since the 1960s. It features musical performances, some from famous singers, food and fashion. Plenty of local handicrafts are on sale too. The entire stretch of the Ridge road in Shimla comes alive with a riot of colors and a flurry of events like fashion shows, flower exhibitions, a sporting event for children and adults alike and a photography competition, among others. What sets the festival apart is its heartfelt dedication to showcasing the folk culture of the place.

When: 1-9 June 2016

Where: Mall road, Shimla

5. Ganga Dussehra at Varanasi

Ganga-DussehraThough it is called as Dussehra, it has got nothing to do with traditional Vijayadashami, called as Dussehra commonly. It is called Dussehra as it falls on Dashami (tenth day) of Hindu month of Jyeshtha during the brighter nights.The Ganga Dussehra festival is celebrated to mark the time that the holy Ganges River descended to earth. A large number of pilgrims congregate alongside the holy river, to bathe in it and worship. Ganga Dussehra is also known as Gangavataran which means ‘the descent of the Ganga’.  Usually Ganga Dusshra is celebrated one day before Nirjala Ekadashi. Ganga Dussehra is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and this day is commemorated as the day when Ganga was descended to the Earth to accomplish her mission to purge the cursed souls of Bhagiratha’s ancestors. On Ganga Dussehra devotees worship Goddess Ganga and take bath in Ganges. Taking bath in Ganges and offering charity. It is widely believed that holy dip in Ganges on Ganga Dussehra day can purge all type of sins.  Devotees flock to Allahabad/Prayag, Garhmukteshwar, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi to take a holy dip. Ganga Dussehra celebrations are legendary in Varanasi. On Ganga Dussehra day thousands of devotees do Ganga Snan and participate in Ganga Aarti at Dasaswamedh Ghat. Ganga Dussehra should not be confused with Ganga Jayanti when the Goddess Ganga was reborn.

When: 14th June 2016

Where: Ghats of Ganges, Varanasi

6. Holy month of Ramadan

Ramadan prayersHoliest month for the muslim community world over. The ninth month of the Muslim calendar is known as “Ramadan” and is a time of fasting and prayer throughout the Islamic world. This month-long fast is done to commemorate what, according to Muslims, was the first Quranic revelation to Muhammad, and its observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam- a list of the great deeds every Muslim ought do in his life to secure salvation. he month of Ramadan lasts 29 or 30 days, depending on the year, and its beginning date is based on local moon sightings. The “Iftar” is the time of breaking the fast, and it occurs right after the evening call to prayer. Since people fast all day, family and friends eat late-night meals during Ramadan. Non-Muslims can sometimes participate in these meals, and there will often be big street tents near mosques where free food is given out to the needy during Ramadan. Traditionally, Eid El Fitr marks the celebrations at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

When: Starts 6th June 2016

7.  Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist

Sao Joao Feast of St John the BaptistCatholics across the world celebrate the Feast of St John the Baptist on June 24. This day, they believe, John kicked around in his mother’s womb when Mary was visiting because he knew Jesus was going to be born soon after him and wanted to indicate how happy he was. Only in Goa do they celebrate by jumping into wells. Its for all those who love feni. The most popular festival in Goa, Sao Joao (the fertility feast of Saint John the Baptist), involves the interesting feat of men jumping into overflowing village wells to retrieve bottles of local feni alcohol. People break coconuts after praying, down feni in liberal quantities, and jump into the closest water body they can find. The artistically inclined make crowns of fresh fruit and wildflowers and one large garland for the local cross. There are also boat races, and singing and dancing. this one is made especially for the newlyweds. The festival involves the husbands getting drunk on the local feni alcohol and jumping into wells to impress their wives, adorning floral wreaths on their heads. The festivities take on a more surreal outlook if it rains while the ceremonies are still underway, which it often does. People revel in delectable food and music while witnessing one of the most quirky and eccentric, yet interesting round of celebrations in the coastal state.

When: 24th June 2016

8. Pratap Jayanti in Mewar

Pratap MemorialMaharana Pratap (1568-1597 C.E.) was a Hindu Rajput King of Mewar in Rajasthan. Maharana Pratap belonged to the Sisodiya clan of Rajputs. He is revered and worshipped by many royal families in Rajasthan for his bravery and courage.Maharana Pratap is always held in very high esteem by the whole Mewar region. His birth anniversary (Maharana Pratap Jayanti) is celebrated as a full-fledged festival every year on the 3rd day of the Jyestha Shukla phase. The birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap is celebrated as per Hindu calendar. Maharana Pratap Jayanti (Birth Anniversary) is always celebrated with great enthusiasm in Udaipur and all places associated with Pratap such as Gounda, Chittorgarh and Kumbhalgarh. Actually, there are many historical places attached with Maharana Pratap’s life and death. Haldighati, Gogunda, Khamnour, Udaipur, Aravali etc. Every place has its own importance in Pratap’s life but Gogunda is the place where the historical Raj-Tilak (coronation) of Maharana Pratap was done. It means a lot to the followers of Pratap and even for historians. Gogunda, situated nearly 20 kms far from Udaipur is a place known for its dense tribal belt (kotra). Tribal in Mewar majorly come from bhil/garasia tribe and they have a close relation with the great Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap. A good time to visit Udaipur and share some of the history of the land.

When: 7th June 2016

Where: Gogunda, 20 kms from Udaipur,

9. Kundalini Shakti Festival, Kasol

Kundalini KasolKasol is located in picturesque Parvati valley in Himachal Pradesh. Off late Kasol has gained some reputation for particular festivals. Kundalini Shakti Festival is one of them. With a growing inclination among tourists towards Indian spirituality, this is turning out to be an event to watch. This is one not to miss for psy-trance lovers!  The lineup features more than 40 local and international artists spread over four days. There will be stalls as well. Well, the organisers say, “the kundalini shakti is the life force; it is the essential energy of existence. It is the hidden ingredient in life. It is what makes it all work.If you take the time to bring the light of the supra-conscious into your being, then automatically all blockages will go away. These are just ways of talking, there are no blockages, schematically.So let’s join this kundalini shakti festival to open your kundalini and generated through cultivating humility, purity, through meditation, selfless giving, and by studying with an advanced teacher on a personal level”. Interested! But remember, its not free. You need to buy tickets or have some passes.

When: 9-12 June 2016

Where: Kasol (Bhuntar-Manikaran road), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

10. Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Feast of Saints Peter and PaulThe Feast of Saints Peter and Paul or Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is a liturgical feast in honour of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, which is observed on 29 June. The celebration is of ancient origin, the date selected being the anniversary either of their death or of the translation of their relics. Goa celebrates this festival with religious fervour. The tradition of Sangodd is also seen in the Christian festival of Saint Peter and Saint Paul held on June 29 every year, by the fishing community particularly in Bardez taluka. The fishermen in the villages along the northern coast of Goa celebrate the festival in the monsoon. They tie their boats together to form rafts which serve as makeshift stages. On this stages miniature models of chapels or churches are erected. After a church service in the morning and a large feast, the festival of Sangodd is held. Tiatrs (local drama theatre), folk dances and music are performed before an audience who watch from the banks of the river. The Sangodd in the villages of Candolim and Sinquerim are well known. Here the rafts carrying the models slowly make their way down the river up to the Chapel of St. Peter. At each stop, firecrackers are set off and the entertainment on the stage begins. The origin of this celebration is unique to Goa. It is the celebration of the fisher folk community because St. Peter was a fisherman.

When: 29th June 2016

 

Going to Udaipur! Don’t miss on these 10 things!

Its one of the most popular tourist destinations in India—for domestic and overseas tourists alike. Udaipur, better known as City of lakes is truly special, calm and beautiful. It has lot many things to offer to the tourists from temples like Eklingji and Nathdwara to historical places like Haldighati. So much so that you can’t probably do a justice to it in a short trip. It is also a perfect place for shopping a lot of traditional items. From all those things to do in this historical city, here is a top 10 list for you lest you don’t miss something big once back home. A few of them are guaranteed to be missed, if you wouldn’t know.

A boat trip to Jagmandir

DSC_4135A visit to Udaipur is incomplete without a boat cruise in Lake Pichola, the historic 14th century lake made by a local banjara (gypsy) that was extended in the 16th century by Rana Udai Singh II to establish Udaipur. The picturesque boat ride on Lake Pichola not only provides the best scenic view of the lake and the mountains in the city, but also presents some of the most important historical monuments dotted along the lakeside or submerged within the lake. Beginning with the monumental lakeside facade of the City Palace, the boat ride moves to the picturesque ghats with their distinctive steps, still used by the locals. The lake-side is lined with the havelis of the nobles, most prominent being the Bagore ki Haveli. The Gangaur Ghat with the triple-arched Tripolia stands as a magnificent piece of architecture at the end of Bagore ki Haveli. One can also relish the beauty of the small island structures in the midst of Lake Pichola i.e. the Mohan Mandir and the Arsi Vilas. Mohan Mandir was built by Rana Jagat Singh II as a dedication to Lord Krishna. Arsi Vilas is an island structure that has three rooms and an open courtyard at the rear. It was built by Rana Ari Singh II in the late 18th century. The most resplendent sights on the boat ride are the island palaces. The 17th century Jagmandir Island Palace is one of the oldest and most grandiose palace that is legendary as place of refuge to Prince Khurram (later Emperor Shahjahan). The other island palace of Jag Niwas, now the Lake Palace Hotel is an 18th century creation of Rana Jagat Singh II. Beyond the lakeside history and the beautiful island palaces, the boat ride provides a fantastic view of the distant monsoon palace perched on the hills.

An irresistible garden of the maidens

DSC_4052A must-visit for every tourist coming to Udaipur, this Garden of the Maidens (Saheliyon-ki-Bari) was built by Sangram Singh II in 1710. This small, quaint ornamental garden was laid out for the enjoyment of 48 women attendants who came as part of a princess’s dowry and has beautiful, well-maintained fountains (water shortages permitting), kiosks, marble elephants and a delightful lotus pool. As per the legends, the garden was designed by the king himself and he presented this garden to his queen. The gardens set below the embankment of the Fateh Sagar Lake have beautiful lotus pools, marble pavilions and elephant- shaped fountains. These fountains are fed by the water of the lake gushing through ducts made for the purpose. Each water channel has its distinct sound and the mingling of these sounds complement the ambience of the place. This patterned garden used to be the popular relaxing spot of the royal ladies. The queen with her maids and female companions used to come here for a stroll and spend their time in leisure. Due to this fact, the garden got its name. There is also a small museum here. The museum exhibiting the huge collection of royal households is another attraction of this garden.

A glorious view from the Monsoon Palace

Sajjangarh-PalaceThe Monsoon Palace, formerly known as the Sajjan Garh Palace, is a hilltop palatial residence in the Udaipur city. Perched on top of a distant mountain like a fairy-tale castle, this melancholy, neglected late 19th-century palace was constructed by Maharana Sajjan Singh. Originally an astronomical centre, it became a monsoon palace and hunting lodge. It is named as Sajjangarh after Maharana Sajjan Singh (1874–1884) of the Mewar Dynasty, who built Sajjangarh Fort in 1884. It offers a panoramic view of the city’s lakes, palaces and surrounding countryside. It was built basically to watch the monsoon clouds; hence, appropriately, it is popularly known as Monsoon Palace. The Monsoon Palace provides a beautiful view of the sunset. High in the Aravalli Hills, just outside Udaipur, the Palace is illuminated in the evenings, giving a glow of golden orange. At the foot of the hill you enter the 5-sq-km Sajjan Garh Wildlife Sanctuary. Bird watchers too flock here.

A Jain temple with unparalleled architecture

DSC_4527Rajasthan is famous for its rich and prolific art treasures. Some of its architectural monuments are considered among the best in the world. The Ranakpur Jain Temple excels them all as an exquisite work of art and architecture. The Chaturmukha Jain Temple of Ranakpur is in the heart of the remote and enchanting valley of the Arvallis, skirting the rivulet Maghai and enveloped in the solitude of the surrounding forest, stands, in solemn grandeur. Ranakpur village is located in Desuri tehsil near Sadri town in the Pali district of Rajasthan. It is located between Jodhpur and Udaipur. 162 km from Jodhpur and 91 km from Udaipur, in a valley on the western side of the Aravalli Range. The temple is an eloquent testimony to India’s cultural heritage, her unique architecture and the vision and acumen of her past master artists. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill. Over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple. The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same. It is also said that it is impossible to count the pillars.The construction is well documented in a 1437 CE copper-plate record. The construction continued until 1458 AD. The temple was renovated time to time. In spite of the complexity, the vast expanse and the loftiness of the temple, the architectural balance and symmetry are not the least affected. The temple has four artistic entrances.In the main chamber or Gabhara (Sanctum sanctorum) of the temple there are four huge white marble images of Bhagvan Adinath, These four images, which are some 72 inches tall, have been installed facing the four different directions. In the sanctuaries on the second and third storeys also are enshrined four identical Jain images. it is because of these four imaages nstalled together in this temple, that it is popularly known as Chaturmukh Jain Temple. There is still too much to know.

A temple in ruins

DSC_4301This another temple worth visit is rather unknown, so much so that you will rarely fine any visitor there. Although in ruins, still it is of extreme historical and cultural importance. It is close to Udaipur near Nagda town, just offside to NH 8 before Eklingji temple. In the 6th century, Nagda was found by Nagaditya, the fourth Mewar King. Nagda is located besides Bagela Lake. Nagda comprises many small and big temples, but the main attraction is gained by its ‘Sas-Bahu’ temple. Nagda is actually famous for this unusual temple that dates back to the 10th century. The term ‘Sas-Bahu’ suggests ‘Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law’ respectively. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and it is made in two structures, one by a mother-in-law and another, by a daughter-in-law. The main entrance to the temples is made through a door that has carved lintels and a multi-lobed arch in its middle. Both the structures are laid out on a same plan having an altar, a mandapa (columned prayer hall) with projections and a porch.  The temple of Sas is comparatively larger than that of the Bahu. The ‘Bahu’ temple has an octagonal ceiling, which is adorned with beautifully carved eight intricate female figures. The ‘Sas’ temple has a torana (archway) in its front and it is believed that the image of the Lord Vishnu was swung from the torana along with hymns in the praise of lord on ceremonial occasions. Both the temples are constructed on a common platform facing towards the east direction. The temple is accredited for having wonderful carvings. The walls of the shrine are usually plain and not engrossed with much work, but the projection is simply mind blowing with its exquisite sculptures. The sculptures are made in two steps, one encircling the other. On the first step, images of Lord Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu are carved and on the other, there are images of Rama, Balarama and Parashurama. Another temple that captures attention is Jain temple. Dedicated to the Jain Saint Shanti Nath, the temple is said to have been built during the rule of Rana Kumbha. The temple has a strange idol and that how the temple got its name (‘Adbhut’ means strange). This strange idol of 9 feet in height is an attraction for people. These temples were destroyed by the foreign invaders to a large extent, still they boast of their exceptional artistic architecture. Temple here also has some very delicate erotic sculptures as well, akin to Khajuraho.

Take a evening stroll at Lakeside

DSC_9408With the Fateh Sagar lake beside, at one end the Neemuch Mata temple and at another Maharana Pratap’s statue atop the Moti Magari, this is a new addition to Udaipur’s charms. Even the locals throng to this place every evening. The lakeside of Fateh Sagar has always been one of the most famous evening spots for the city of Lakes, bubbling with lots of activities from boating to food and motor sports. Its a meeting point for the city dwellers as well. A part of the road on the barrage has now been closed for vehicles and is now exclusively designed for the pedestrians, walkers and strollers. Evenings here are right out of another world- serene and majestic. Take a stroll on this stretch, sit beside the lake, enjoy the cool breeze with Maharana Pratap memorial to Neemuch Mata temple to Sajjangarh, all illuminated in full view, with lake and its island Nehru Garden in foreground… this is an experience only locals will be able to guide you through.

A garden in palace at third floor

DSC_4198Standing majestically on the banks of Lake Pichola, Udaipur’s city place is now a palace museum. If a garden at third floor doesn’t amazes you then, nothing won’t. Udaipur’s The City Palace Museum comprises the Mardana Mahal (palace for the royal men) and The Zenana Mahal (palace for the royal ladies). Since 1969 these two palaces have been preserved and developed as The City Palace Museum. The Museum is in fact a series of palaces, built from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, spatially divided into royal private areas and public zones. Each of the palaces represents unique architectural styles and materials. Rare murals on the walls and ceilings, glass inlay work, original paintings and artefacts are spread over 20,000 square metres. Weaponry, armaments and personal belongings of the rulers are on display in their original places. Palace courtyards such as the Mor Chowk with peacocks, exquisitely created with glass inlay adoring the walls; Chini Chitrashali with 18h century Dutch and Chinese tile-work; Krishan Vilas, Bhim Vilas, Chandra Mahal and the palace garden of Baadi Mahal at the highest point of the ridge are amazing. The Museum houses an incomparable collection of court paintings of the Mewar School that flourished from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. These rare paintings are displayed in the Dilkushal Mahal, Baadi Mahal and the west wing of the Zenana Mahal.

A chandelier work unimaginable

DSC_4151This is the world’s single largest private collection of crystal under one roof. Housed in the Fateh Prakash Palace is the world-famous Crystal Gallery; it’s spread across the upper-gallery of the glittering The Durbar Hall Sabhagaar. Crystal Gallery has been hailed as probably the single largest private collection of crystal anywhere in the world. It was in 1877 that Maharana Sajjan Singh (period of reign: 1874-1884) ordered the crystal collection from the Birmingham-based F&C Osler company. The collection includes a bewildering number of objects d’art, dinner sets, perfume bottles, decanters, glasses, washing bowls and even furniture. The Crystal Gallery also houses the only crystal bed in the world! The collection has been customised for the House of Mewar; the Crest of Mewar being delicately etched on the crystal, adding yet another amazing facet. The Durbar Hall Sabhagaar, which adorns the Fateh Prakash Palace, is of historical significance. In 1909, Lord Minto the Viceroy of India, laid its foundation stone and, in his honour, the hall was originally called Minto Hall. Today its opulent interiors – with huge chandeliers and special lights, portraits of the Maharanas of Mewar, royal artefacts and the legendary armoury of the Mewar dynasty – transport you to times past when the Maharanas held forth in The Durbar Hall Sabhagaar.

For the love of vintage cars

DSC_4273Like all kings of their times, the rulers of Mewar too had penchant for cars. They had a many of them. A few of those vintage cars, some of them almost a century old are kept at a museum in Garden Hotel, near Gulab Bagh (Sajjan Niwas Garden). This hotel itself has a slice of history as this heritage hotel was built in 1920 as a haveli. This hotel houses the unique private collection of vintage cars of Mewar State. Most of them are still in perfect running condition. These include magnificent Rolls-Royce, 1939 Cadillac open convertibles, rare Mercedes models, 1936 Vauxhall and 1937 Opel models. The Collection has been curated for the benefit of vintage car-lovers from India and all over the world; it is probably the only collection of its kind in India. The collection is housed in the original Palace Garage, a glorious setting for such a unique and remarkable collection of golden oldies. The semi-circular garage with its forecourt is housed within a greater courtyard, creating a pleasant hideaway from the bustle of the streets. One of the original Burmah Shell petrol pumps is not only still standing, but also in a usable condition. The garage itself was built at a time when the only cars in town belonged to the Royal Family and the present-day surroundings make this garage as wonderfully stylish as it must always have been.

Rajasthani Food and hospitality

Natraj-Dining-HallObviously, when you are in Udaipur, never resist any attempt to open up your taste buds. Rajasthani cuisine is perhaps the best one in the northern India and it has a wide-wide range to it. Well you might find many options with a la carte menu for different cuisines but what this part is famous for is its ‘thali’ system. You will be amazed with the number of dishes that are served in a single sitting. Add to it the typical taste and hospitality. Often you will be able to just taste all of them, that itself would be more than satisfying. Hotels like Natraj (old branch inside Bapu Bazar and the new one at station road) are famous for their food for many decades. Not to be missed.

 

A little rant, okay ? Just blowing off my anger

Sane voices need to be loud and clear!

renxkyoko's space

Hello !   Renxkyoko Iglesias  is here again.

I ‘ve been sick and  bedridden the past 3 days , and have done  nothing but watch TV and  read  a few blogs, and you’d think I’d have time to post something,  but  I felt so weak I  didn’t even   have the energy to think , until today  when news on  the carnage in Paris happened.  This is one topic I can’t let  pass  without saying anything  .

ISIS ……..  I know I am not a war hawk … I  just want  world peace…… but now, I’m taking a hard look  at Pres. Obama’s  Middle East policy.   To be honest,  I want Pres. Obama to be more firm now , not to sound too politically correct, , and just call a spade a spade.  He placates so much  people don’t  know whether he’s coming or going.

  • 5 hours after *
  • I realize it’s not good to say things…

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How I fared in 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

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The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 29,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

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