Saturday, 6 June 2009

I think I am enthusiastic about continuing this now :) After Amritsar, the next place that needs to told about is Hardwar (also known as Haridwar). Every evening at 7:30 PM, an aarati happens at 'Har ki pauri' (don't know if it is Har or Hari ki pauri) , where people light diyas and set them afloat in the river Alakananda. It's a very beautiful sight and we were told that around 10 lakh people gather for this aarati during the "Kumba mela".

It is interesting that this place is referred to as Hardwar (Har is Shiv) and Haridwar (Hari is Vishnu) :) I did try to find out which one was correct but in vain. Some people told us that it was Haridwar as there are footprints of Hari (Hari ka charan or Hari ki pauri) but most people seemed to pronounce it as Hardwar and there were a lot of Shiva statues over there.

We also visited a temple called Daksheshwar temple where Dakshayani(Sati) is supposed to have immolated herself in the yagna kunda because Shiva was insulted by her father.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

We then went to Amritsar, Punjab to visit three different places that made me experience peace of mind, grief and pride. The places were the Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh, Wagah Border in that order.

Everyone who visits the temple must cover their head with a piece of cloth, irrespective of nationality, religion or gender.

Though there were so many people, no one spoke, the place was very calm, ironic to the agitating hot weather outside.

The picture on the left shows the place from where around 2000 unarmed protestants of the Rowlatt act were fired in 1919. There was a jyothi placed in remembrance of all those people who sacrificed their lives for the nation. No one spoke at this place too, but the silence here wasn't like the silence in the temple, it can't be explained, can only be felt.

Wagah border is the only road border between India and Pakistan where every evening the flags of both the countries are lowered as a tradition. It felt good to be at the ceremony as there were so many people, all eager to watch the guards, each one of them was very enthusiastic. To add to the feeling, there were patriotic songs being played. There was this commander who was getting the crowd to shout slogans and it was a great feeling, guess the closest we can ever get to how a soldier feels.

Will sign this post off with the most popular slogan at the Wagah Border - Hindustan Jindabad!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

After Amarnath, we left the Baltal camp and headed towards Srinagar, next on the itinerary was Gulmarg, a mountain that could be reached by taking a cable car.

Just check out the cable cars down the hill in the picture on the left, I can see atleast 14 of them!
The cable car and the trees would be covered with snow in the winter, its just so bright and the view is clear during the we went there...
Gulmarg supposedly hosts the world's highest golf course, however we didn't go there :(

We went boating in the Dal lake in the evening, this would be our last day in Kashmir/Srinagar.

We noticed that the roads were deserted, there were no street lights as we went to the hotel :(
In the past 15 years or so, life has been a living hell in Srinagar, it has lost its charm. One of the localities was telling us that if we expected Kashmir to be like Switzerland (which people used to to do) then he can only be sorry for that!

I did speak to people from Kashmir as to how they feel about all this, they told that they didn't bother much about the attacks, they had learned to live with it, they were only concerned about bringing up their kids, their education :(

So that was Kashmir with its amazing people, phenomenal beauty and now turned to a place that probably holds uncertain future for it's own kids :(
But to the visitors it is, as the BEACON (Border Roads Organization force) puts it

-The Paradise on Earth
-The bowl of fruits
-The bed of Saffron

Monday, 12 November 2007

And then we were on our way to the Amarnath cave, the reason why we decided to go on this trip! The base camp was at Baltal from where we would go to the Amarnath cave either walking or by ponies or by helicopter. Our bus was escorted by the military vans while traveling from Srinagar to Baltal and the scenery on the way looked liked the ones in the pictures below!

We reached Baltal at around 8:00PM and we had to walk around a kilometer or so to reach the place where there were tents to sleep. The tents were quite good with warm blankets and all. There were a lot of food stalls where they were serving food for free. The kind of service that is provided to the yatries here is simply unbelievable, I haven't seen it anywhere else in India. People just go beyond the boundaries, they would never let the yatries wait for food, would always be around to provide the chairs, water etc. A salute to the J&K people.

We started at 5:00AM from the Baltal base camp to the Amarnathji ki guha, the holy cave where the shiva linga gets formed out of ice once a year.
We took the ponies. This time the name of my pony was 'Soldier', dad's was 'Badal' and mom's 'Raju'. Going to the Amarnath cave by ponies is probably one of the most adventurous things once can do and it is quite dangerous too as the path is very narrow and a mistake can take two lives (pony's and the rider's). The reason why they cannot make roads or lay railings there to reach the cave is because of the landslides that happens frequently. Given all this, the training the ponies would have undergone is something that amazed me, they hardly make any mistake!

Well amidst all this, we go there mainly to enjoy the nature which is just out of the world. One shouldn't miss going to this place at least once in a lifetime. I got a feeling that our country has such rich natural resources after crossing so many mountains, seeing so many kind of trees, the rivers, the snow. It was a place where rivers originate, the snow that falls on the mountains become ice rocks which then melts and flows as a river.

The entire journey is through these huge mountains, the himalayas. we spent around twelve hours in the valleys and peaks of these mountains. The sceneries are awesome, absolutely wonderful! I was so very glad for having been there, I am grateful to all those who are responsible for it. The pictures that follow is an attempt to substantiate my claim :-)