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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yummy Mangoes on the streets of Ranchi!

The mangoes of Jharkhand have a very distinctive flavour and taste and I was extremely lucky to taste these yummy fruits yet again.

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Considerably smaller than the mango varieties available in central and south India, these mangoes grown in the countryside are known to titillate one’s taste buds. And the icing on the cake is they are available at a fraction of the cost of other mango varieties.

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Jagannathpur Temple – Famous Pilgrimage Centre of Ranchi, Jharkhand, India

Jagannathpur Temple is a famous landmark of Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. This 17th century temple, similar to Orissa’s Jagannath Puri Temple in architecture is considered a famous pilgrimage centre across India and most importantly in Ranchi.

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Situated about 15 kms away from the heart of the city, this temple is situated on top of a small hillock. One can approach this temple from two sides. One side has a long range of steps, while the other route made up of small and steep winding roads, allows vehicles to go all the way up to the temple entrance.

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This temple, built under the rule of Thakur Ani Nath Shahdeo, the king of Barkagarh Jagannathpur, hosts Krishna, Balabhadra and Subhadra as its main shrines.

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I found the temple and its surroundings extremely calm and peaceful during my visit. However, I am told that every year during the festival of Rath Yatra, people throng to this temple to seek the lord’s blessings.

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Through the Eastern Ghat Roads of Jharkhand

It had been a tough summer for me on my road trip through Central India till I reached the Eastern Ghats of Jharkhand. The temperatures started dropping as soon as I started climbing the winding roads of Jharkhand.

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It did not pinch when I rolled down my car windows as the wind was nice and pleasant. The entire place was dense in lively green. The roads wound and climbed till Ghumla, a small town enroute to Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand.

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This stretch of ghat roads has some amazing view points and when I did stop at one, the panoramic view that greeted me was incredible. The valley and the hills formed a near perfect co-existence.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Miniature Cycle Rickshaw!!

In yesteryears, the cycle rickshaw was the most popular common mode of transport. Today, it has been replaced by the ubiquitous auto rickshaw that is equally the most common mode of city transport across India.

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But, in all my life, I hadn’t seen a miniature model of any rickshaw, till I spotted one of a cycle rickshaw at a hotel in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh. Crafted out of thin aluminium wires, this model looked so unique that I asked the bartender if I could take a closer look at it.

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Countryside Brick Industry

The Indian countryside has a lot to offer irrespective of the state one is in. And all of them are interesting and beautiful in their own way.

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In this case, I was driving on the highways of Chhattisgarh when I spotted a lot of hut like structures spread across barren terrain. After a closer look, I found that these were actually brick industries and such industries form the livelihood of the villagers here.

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Raipur’s Ghadi Chowk!

It has been a long time since I have seen a clock tower in any city. I am sure that most of the cities around the world have some form of a clock tower either working or in ruins.

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But, we either take such places for granted or miss them completely in our daily bustle. This clock tower at Raipur is in the heart of the city and it has been maintained very well.

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Locally known as ‘Ghadi Chowk’, this place is actually considered an important landmark in Raipur and most people, even in this technological era, synchronize the time on their watches with that of this clock tower.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Green and Beautiful Side of Raipur!!

Raipur is a developing city and the capital of Chhattisgarh and as is with every developing city, this one too faces some challenges. One of the outcomes of this development is the cloud of dust that seems to surround this city everywhere.

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At first instance, I felt I had entered into a dust bowl, but as I started exploring the city, I found some splendid green pastures.

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Just a short distance away from the heart of the city is ‘Gaurav Path’ and this stretch looks clean, green and beautiful. The roads are wide and there is hardly any pollution in the air. The sidewalks have well mowed green lawns and trees.

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The best part are the beautiful sculptures, carvings and paintings on the walls of ‘Gaurav Path’. Everything has been tastefully done and the local municipal corporation are playing their part very well to help keep this place an environment friendly zone.

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I just hope other developing cities in India are doing their bit to preserve the environment.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Popular Technique to beat the Indian Heat

This year, the central states of India – Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh had an extreme summer with temperatures consistently hovering above 45 degree Celsius. As I personally spent a couple of weeks travelling these states in this sweltering weather, I can surely vouch for its ferocity and the painful sunburns it left behind.

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And this is where I learnt a valuable lesson when I saw the locals who were covered from head to toe. And the lesson is that you cannot beat the heat, but you can make it bearable by covering yourself completely. That way, you escape the ferocity of the harsh sun’s rays and thereby the ensuing sun burns. Very effective I should say after I gave it a try!

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Street Photography from Raipur – The Capital of Chhattisgarh!

A sweltering hot summer day took me to the bustling streets of Raipur a couple of weeks back. Raipur is the capital of the state of Chhattisgarh in India.

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It was interesting to note the atmosphere around me. And since the day was extremely hot, most of the atmosphere was tuned into escaping the heat.

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This capital city has a very old-town feel and most of the baazars have small stores and movable ones too. The ones that caught my attention were the moving juice and ice-cream carts and the sunglass stores that were selling cheap sunglasses in all shapes, frames, colours and sizes.

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The juice carts were selling everything from lemon juice to chuski (native Indian coloured ice powder) to chach (beaten up thin yoghurt) to lassi (beaten up thick yoghurt) to jal jeera (a cool digestive drink). And these carts were doing good business as all these drinks aids in cooling down the human body.

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The Centre of India!!

This is the true centre of India and it happens to be at Nagpur in the state of Maharashtra in India.

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The place is called the ‘Zero Mile Marker’ and it indicates the geographical centre of India. Located in the bustling city centre, this place is often taken for granted. But, it is this place that was used as a guide line in calculating travel distances and other related measurements in the yester years.

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An Orange as a Milestone!

If you happen to be at Nagpur in Maharashtra, then do look out for the Orange Milestone in the heart of the city.

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This is the landmark that captures the essence of Nagpur – the ‘City of Oranges’.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Diksha Bhoomi – A Holy Buddhist Monument in Nagpur, India

Diksha Bhoomi is an important religious Buddhist monument located at Nagpur in Maharashtra, India. It is also known as “Dhamma Chakra Stupa”.

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This is the holy monument where the Buddhists receive Deeksha every year on ‘Ashok Vijaya Dashami Day’.It is at this place in 1956 that Dr. B R Ambedkar initiated the conversion of thousands of Dalit people to Buddhism.

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The stupa is an architectural marvel and can accommodate over five thousand people. The stupa is made out of Dhaulpur sandstones, marbles and granites. The attractive dome has a height of 120 feet.

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The President of India has called this Buddhist monument as a symbol of national integration and secularism and a place of pride for Nagpurians.

A great place to relax!

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kasturchand Park, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India

Recently, I was at Nagpur and visited Kasturchand Park, the biggest meeting place in Nagpur. In the night as I was passing this place by, a huge mela was in action and the entire place was swarming with people.

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But, when I visited this place the next morning, I was greeted by an empty space. Locals say that big conventions and processions are held here. The thing that caught my eye was this mini palace-like structure with its minarets that stood in the centre of this park. And I was tempted to capture it in my lens as it looked remarkable against the clear blue sky.

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Narmada River Bridge, Madhya Pradesh, India!!

The Narmada River Bridge is a great sight for all those who take a road trip from Bhopal to Nagpur via the Itarsi route.

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This holy river and also the lifeline of Madhya Pradesh is quite a wide river at this location. The road and the railway bridge run parallel to each other.

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It is quite an experience to watch the trains cross the railway bridge while you stand on the road bridge. While I was standing on the road bridge, I saw about 4 goods train, 1 passenger train and 2 rail engines all in a span of ten minutes.

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It was extremely heartening to see the Narmada river have decent water flow especially in times when the rest of the state and most of the country are having extreme hot weather and subsequently dry rivers.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bheem Betika – Of Prehistoric Structures, Caves, Drawings and Paintings

Bheem Betika is a world heritage site situated about an hour’s drive from Bhopal towards the south on the Hoshangabad highway.

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This world heritage site is known for its pre-historic structures, caves and especially paintings. Bheem Betika was first mentioned in Indian archaeological records in 1888 as a Buddhist site. The earliest paintings on its cave walls is believed to be of the Mesolithic era.

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A beautiful winding road through the country side and hills brings one to these famous structures. There is hardly any tourist infrastructure available here, but one can find partially educated locals who double up as tourist guides.

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At first sight, these rocky structures can captivate one’s imagination. They seem to bellow out of nowhere amidst dense forests. It gets more interesting as one takes a walk through them.

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The entire place is swarming with caves and most of these caves have these prehistoric paintings. There are superimposition of paintings in the caves, which shows that the same canvas was used by different people at different times.

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The drawings and paintings can be classified under seven different periods:

Period 1 - (Upper Palaeolithic): These are linear representations, in green and dark red, of huge figures of animals such as bisons, tigers, and rhinoceroses.

Period II - (Mesolithic): Comparatively small in size the stylised figures in this group show linear decorations on the body.

In addition to animals there are human figures and hunting scenes, giving a clear picture of the weapons they used: barbed spears, pointed sticks, bows and arrows. The depiction of communal dances, birds, musical instruments, mother and child pregnant women, men carrying dead animal drinking and burials appear in rhythmic movement.

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Period III
- (Chalaeolithic) These drawings reveal that during this period the cave dwellers of this area had come in contact with the agricultural communities of the Malwa plains and started and exchange of their requirements with each other.

Period IV & V - (Early historic): The figures of this group have a schematic and decorative style and are painted mainly in red white and yellow. The association is of riders, depiction of religious symbols, Tunic-like dresses and the existence of scripts of different periods. The religious beliefs are represented by figures of Yakshas , tree gods and magical sky chariots.

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Period VI & VIl
- (Medieval) : These paintings are geometric linear and more schematic, but they show degenerations and crudeness in their artistic style. The colours used by the cave dwellers were prepared by combining manganese haematite soft red stone and wooden coal.

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If one needs a break from pre-historic paintings, then they can find solace in bats and beehives that can be found in plenty in these caves. Even better, is a great view of Bhopal from the tortoise rock. One can see the entire Bhopal horizon from that point.

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In sum, a great place to explore and have a fabulous time! Do remember to carry some sun block, a pair of sunglasses and lots of water and food.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bhopal – The city of Lakes!!

Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh in the heart of India is aptly titled “The city of Lakes”. The city, in itself is a green paradise and the lakes only add to its charm.

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The main part of the city of Bhopal is situated around these lakes. These lakes also form the backbone of the city’s water system.

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These lakes are not only beautiful, but have been maintained very well by the Bhopal city council. I was extremely happy to see a lot of billboards and banners educating people about keeping the lakes clean and that water is extremely precious and its surrounding greenery is what allows them to breathe comfortably.

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If you happen to be in Bhopal, do remember to go on a drive through its winding roads that overlook the lake. The drive is simply breathtaking. And, equally inspiring is a late night walk by the lake banks to get a brilliantly lit view of the Bhopal city.

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