Travel preparations Yatra Chardham

Yatra Chardham is a one of the wish of a Sanatan Hindu to undertake at least once in life time, one is to prepare well in advance to undertake this journey which is in high Himalayas covered with snow and thin air, less in oxygen.  Travelling at this height certain precautions and preparations are required  to make the body capable to face the harsh weather, biting cold, thin air less in oxygen and  able to climb the steep trek .

Journey starts from Hardwar / Rishikesh after Bio-metric Registration and getting the Photo I-Card issued from the Uttrakhand Govt. which is to be carried in person throughout the journey .

Yamunotri Temple

Yamunotri Temple

The trek to  Yamunotri Dahm is the small but tough trek of 6 km from Janki Chatti .

 

Shri Badri Vishal Dham , Sri Badrinath Dham

All four Dhams are situated at a height , Yamunotri 3235 meters , Gangotri 3042 meters, Sri Kedarnath 3581 meters and Sri Badrinath 3133 meters . all these places are covered under the snow in the winters ,temperature in the months of May – June is around 15 degree Celsius during the day and at night drops down to 2-3 degree Celsius, rain and strong  winds are  very cold, there are few shelters which  become over crowded or unable to accommodate the pilgrims . Treks are well maintained but when it rains the mud from the slops make it slippery .

People planing to have their pilgrimage for Yatra Chardham this year must prepare them self to under take a 12 days journey on bumpy mountain roads , drastic change in temperature and height ,  acclimatization to this weather and atmosphere is required before leaving for this journey .

Start daily walk with comfortable rubber sole shoes , physical exercises  for legs calf and thigh muscles and Breathing yoga exercises such as Pranayam to be done 20-30 days before leaving for the  journey. Sandles, Chapples are strictly no for walking,  ladies must trim their toe nails .

Must wear Warm woolen clothes , woolen socks , woolen cap, goggles , water proof  jacket and trouser, keep yourself as light as possible while walking up in the Himalayas .

Hot water bottle is required at Sri Kedarnath to keep the body warm where fire or heaters are not allowed in the rooms.

In the months of May and June there is a heavy rush due to school holidays, unpredictable rains,  loose rocks falling on roads  at many places results in road blocks for hours, pilgrims are advised to carry some biscuits, dry fruits etc. those carrying  battery  operated instruments i.e. camera, mobile phone etc. must carry additional batteries, have a BSNL / Idea SIM card in your phone as it works at all these places.

When walking try to make slow walk taking short breaks and keep drinking liquids and have deep breaths .

One is to take care of Mules and Palki carried by porters at Yamunotri and Sri Kedarnath .

Try to save yourself from getting wet in rain water .

Carry your personal medicines in a small bag, if advised by your doctor you may purchase small Oxygen cylinder at Hardwar or Rishikesh.

Must carry your photo ID proof  from the year 2014 the Yatra Registration is made compulsory .

Select your accommodations in good hotels with attached private facilities with availability of hot water for bath, in the month of May and June  try to get AC buses up to Haridwar / Rishikesh , up in the hills AC  is not operated  in the buses. The Puja and Priority Darshan charges are displayed at all places and Administration issues official  receipt for the money paid.

If one take above mentioned precautions, will enjoy more and not only have darshan of  Lords but also the beautiful landscapes of Himalayas  will keep you refreshed through out your journey.

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Kargil | 5th Century Lord Buddha’s Rock statues

Kargil 5th century rock carved out statues are the only three statues left in the world after Bamiyan Buddha’s statues of 5th century were destroyed in Afghanistan .

Kargil in Ladakh region of India is an ancient town situated on the junction and a transit point to the Silk route, traders from Central Asia, China, Tibet, Zanskar, North India traded the spices, tea, textile, rugs, dyes,  through Kargil till 1947. Kargil which was also known as Purig , the popular language spoken here is Balti-Purig which is a dialect of a Tibetian , Zanskar people speak Bhoto . After the Shia Islam was introduced around 13th Century and in 16th Century The King Thi Namgyal directed his people conversion from Buddhist to Shia Islam, lots of Persian words and Phrases become part of the daily speaking language , the social celebrations like marriages still have Islamic and Buddhist common rituals.

There are many statues and impressions which were made during the Buddhism period are beautiful rock carved statues of Maitreya Buddha exhibiting the skill and dedication of artists and devotion of people from that period.

42 Kms. from Kargil town is a village Karstekhar near Sankoo, on Kargil – Suru valley road , here a ten meter tall statue of Maitreya Buddha is cut out from a greyish yellow rock , it has been carved by the skillful artists , holes around it suggest that scaffolds were used to get such a tall statue carved out with very fine details on face, it is supposed to be carved in 7th Century.

Matreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Karstekhar, Sankoo, Suru valley, Kargil

Maitreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Karstekhar, Sankoo, Suru valley, Kargil

The Bodhistva Maitreya is in “Abhya Mudra” with right hand  and left hand is carrying a “Kamandal” the water carrying pot , there are “Rudraksha Mala” tied on wrist and arm above the elbow , here we see “Janeu” and “Kardhani” the waist band are also of “Rudraksha” , decorative necklace and a headgear . Knotted hair are falling over the shoulders.

 

Matreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Kartsekhar, Sankoo, Suru valley, Kargil

Maitreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Kartsekhar, Sankoo, Suru valley, Kargil

 

Matreya Buddha, Chamba statue, apati village, Sod valley, Kargil

Maitreya Buddha, Chamba statue, apati village, Sod valley, Kargil

Apati village is about 25 km from Kargil, one is to walk through a small green village settled along a water stream, after crossing the village and drain a beautiful Maitreya Buddha statue with right hand is in “Abhay Mudra” and in left hand is a “Kamandal” to carry water, the eyes are protruded out like Frog eyes, one can see the red colour in the parts above the shoulders and on the wall behind which has faded out with time .

 

Matreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Mulbek, Kargil

Matreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Mulbek, Kargil

Mulbek is 42 km from Kargil on Srinagar-Leh highway , The Maitreya Buddha 9 meters tall  is carved out in a rock with four arms , first right hand is in “Varada Mudra” , second right hand carrying “Rudraksha Mala” the Rosary, first left hand is carrying the “Kamandal” the water pot and second left hand is carrying branch with leaves. both the arms above the elbow and wrist are having Rudrasha mala tied around ,long ears are with “Kundals” ear rings ,neck is adorned with decorative necklaces . one can see a “Janeu” hanging from left shoulder till below the naval . knotted hair are falling over the shoulders . The statue here is completely different from Apati and Kartsekhar statues.

Drass is 65 km from Kargil on Leh-Srinagar highway , there are few stone statues partly recognizable as a Maitreya Buddha , Avalokivtesara , a horse rider , a Lotus flower and a stupa. These figures are supposed to be of pre Tibetan influence in the valley .

These three Buddhist rock carved statues in Kargil , India are only left in the world after the demolition of Bamiyan Buddha statue in Afghanistan .

 

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Harsiddhi Mata Temple | Ujjain | Madhya Pradesh

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Harsiddhi Mata Temple Ujjain is situated on the Eastern bank of river Shipra in one of the ancient city of world Ujjain , this city is also mentioned in ancient Hindu text as Ujjaini, Avanti , Avantika and Avantikapuri . It was the center for learning Astronomy & Astrology in the early days of Sanatan civilization .

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This temple is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths, it has a important place in the ancient Hindu texts, according to Shiva Puran when lord Shiva was carrying away the burning dead body of Ma Sati , her elbow fell here , this place is over a hillock in the west of Mahakaal temple near the Shipra river .

The original temple at this site was supposed to be built by King Vikramaditya, at the entrance there are statue of Bharaiv Nath on both side of entrance. The present temple is built by the Maratha rulers with the impressive stone carved lamp pillars .

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The original seat of Harsiddhi Mata is at Kyolo Dungar Miyani, Porbandar Gujarat   https://promarktravels.com/blog/2015/12/harsiddhi-mata-temple-miyani-gujarat/    It is said to be built by Lord Krishan who worshiped Amba Mata to defeat the demon King Jarasandha after the win he built the temple at this place and accepted her as his Kul Devi . The present temple is built in 1300 AD by a merchant Jagdu Shah

How this temple was built at Ujjain by King Vikramaditya legend is the King visited the Kyolo Dungar to pay his respect at the temple , he was blessed by the Harsiddhi Devi and asked him for a boon , King requested her to come and stay at Ujjain where he will worship her daily, Devi accepted the request and put a condition that she will stay at night in Ujjain and during the day she will be present at Miyani Gujarat..

According to Skandha Puran ( ancient Sanatan text ) two demons Chand and Prachand wounded the Nandi Bull to enter into the Kailash territory , Lord Shiva got angry called Ma Chandi to kill them , after her success Lord named her Harsiddhi .

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The present temple is constructed by Maratha rulers  surrounded by a wall with four gates there, there are two large stone lamp post smaller is female and larger is male , at a time eleven hundred lamps are lighted , a 10th century, step well built during Parmar rulers , Ma Harsiddhi is over Shree Yantra in the sanctum  along with Ma Sarasvati and Ma Lakshmi also there is a Shri Yantra in the assembly hall with fifty one pictures of goddesses with the Beej Mantara .

Legend is that King Vikrmadtiya use to offer his head to Ma Harsddhi every twelve years, it happens eleven times that Ma reinstalled the head but on twelfth time it could not happen and King died .

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Kargil | Sayed Mir Hashim Tomb | Suru Valley

Sayed Mir Hashim a Islamic preacher and scholar came to Suru Kurchay upon invitation from Thi Namgyal a Buddhist king of Purig Kurchay,king had one of  Muslim queen Rigyal Khatoon also known as Thi Lah Khatoon wanted him to educate and train their son Thi Mohammad Sultan in 17th century .

Dargah Sayed Mir Hashim , Karpokhar, Sankoo Valley, Kargil

Dargah Sayed Mir Hashim , Karpokhar, Sankoo Valley, Kargil

Sayed Mir Hashim is decedent Mir Shamsuddin Iraqi who came to Kashmir to preach Islamic teachings and made lots of followers , Sayed Mir Hashim came to the Suru with his disciple Akhoon Fazil , due to their teachings and training Thi Mohammad Sultan became a popular king and worked to spread Islam in the valley .

Dargah Sayed Mir Hashim Karpokhar, Sankoo valley, Kargil

Dargah Sayed Mir Hashim Karpokhar, Sankoo valley, Kargil

Sayed Mir Hashim was then invited by King of Wakha Regyalde Cho on the birth of his son Babar Khan to bless the newly born, after staying for some time and preaching Islam he left Akhoon Fazil at Wakha and return to Suru Karchay and stayed here till his death, his Tomb is located at Karpo Kharon near a small town name Sankoo in Suru valley 42 km from Kargil . It is a shrine with great reverence for the people of Ladakh .

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Majuli, Deori Tribe Culture

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Deori Tribe of Majuli

Deoris  migrated from hills staying at various places and then finally reached Majuli through river Brahmaputra, they call themselves children of Sun and Moon (Jimo – Chaayan) have their own culture and faith along with the Hindu Gods they worship their ancestors, they served as priests for the royal families even today they have same respect among the other tribal communities. Deori means wise male and female.

Deori Tribal Ladies , Majuli Island

Deori Tribal Ladies , Majuli Island

Houses are stilted built by using bamboo, cane and wood, animals are on the lower level and upper level family stays, normally there is a corridor till the center of house which is used for all day to day work, there is place for faith in God and each home have a reserved place for it.

Deori Tribal Village house , Majuli Island

Deori Tribal Village house , Majuli Island

 

Marriages are arranged by the family elders and day is fixed, as gift cloths and ornaments are offered and it is solemnized in the presence of community as a religious ceremony. They enjoy rice, pork, goat, fowl in their meals.

Deori Tribal Mother and Child, Majul Island

Deori Tribal Mother and Child, Majul Island

Two major festivals associated with the agriculture activity, Magiyo Bisu is celebrated in the month of January and Ibaku Bisu is in April, there are special rules, it is celebrated for seven days, the village elders shower blessings by visiting all the houses and, puja is performed in each house by the head of family, guests are treated with homemade rice beer “Suzen” young boys and girls gather in an open space and dance the whole night.

Bhohagiyo Bisu is a religious festival and a very important Deodhani dance celebrated for two weeks, it is believed that a special power is there with few who can be a Deodhani, they predict about the prosperity of village or person, it is a holy female god dance and during this period no men are allowed in colored clothes in the dance area called the “Than”. Joydam festival is celebrated in the month of February it is very important festival and cultural meet for all the four groups of Deori tribes, it is to pay the respect to motherland and celebrate the bumper harvest or before the sowing of seeds, the main profession of Deori tribe is agriculture .

One can reach Majuli from Jorhat to Nimatighat by road and the take a 1.30 hr. ferry to cross the Brahmaputra , it  is also a port of call for river cruise M.V.Mahabaahu 

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Lamayuru Gompa , Monastery, Ladakh

 Lamayuru is one of the largest and oldest gompa in Ladakh, situated in Kargil district on Srinagar- Leh highway at a height of 3510 meters,127 km from Leh about 15 Km from Fotu-La, it was originally the Bonpo Monastery   called gYung-drung Monastery, a Swastika symbol and  gYung drung bon  is the name of the Bon religion , The Maha Sidhachrya Naropa founded the Lamayuru Monastery , he was a Buddhist scholar from Nalanda University who came here in search for his guru Tilopa, a master of Tantra,  the oldest temple  Seng-ge-sgang  was built by Monk Rinchen Zangpo who came from Tibet , great translator of Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Tibetan, he under the patronage  from  King of Ladakh founded 108 Gompas in Ladakh, Spiti , Kinaur and Zanskar region.

Lamayuru Gompa ( Monastery)

The monastery is made up of a number of shrines and also has a very rich collection of thankas and magnificent wall paintings.

The Dukhang (Assembly hall) is on the right side of the courtyard  with a colourful depiction of the Guardians of the Four Directions. The mural on the left wall of the verandah depicts the proper way for a lama to live ,The temple has an image of Vairocana or the Teaching Buddha is seated on a lion serving as a throne and a Garuda (mythical bird) and sea monsters surround his head . In the wall on the right side of the Dukhang is a small cave with three statues known as Naropa’s cave, where he is supposed to have meditated ,  other two statues are of Marpa (Naropa’s student who became a translator of religious texts and famous poet) and Mila Ras-pa (Marpa’s student and a spiritual head of the red-hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism). The right side of the Dukhang has three complete sets of the Kandshur (the 108 volumes of Buddha’s teachings)

Lamayuru Gompa Assembly hall

 

Stupas at Lamayuru Gompa

Legend is that this valley there use to be a lake  at the time of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha). Nags (holy serpents) used to reside in the lake. Bodhisattva Madhyantaka pridicted that  the lake would eventually be dried, making way for the construction of a Buddhist monastery.  Maha Siddhacharya Naropa,  meditated for years in one of the caves  , a crack developed in the hillside surrounding the lake. When the lake dried out he found a dead  tiger, he constructed the first temple at this site , known as the Singhe Ghang (Lion Mound).  Later, Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial offered the monastery to Chosje Danma and started  observance of the rituals of the Digung Kargyud School, the monastery was  renamed as Yungdrung Tharpaling. At present the Lamayuru Monastery is served by the successive reincarnations of Skyabsje Toldan Rinpoche.

Mahasidhacharya Naropa meditated in this cave

Lamayuru Gompa plays host a masked dance, The Yundrung Kabgyad festival which takes place on the 17th and 18th day of the 5th month of Tibetan lunar calendar which falls in the month of July. The monks from the monasteries of the nearby areas also come to take part in the celebrations.

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Mulbek , Ladakh

Mulbek is located on a Srinagar – Leh NH 1 D National Highway 45 km from Kargil and and  Leh is further 197 km , it is at an altitude of 3304 meters from sea , just a kilometer from the town is the famous statue of Chamba  the figure of Maitreya Budha , represents the important part of Gandhara Art , on the main National highway.

Rock cut 9 meters tall statue of “Future Budha” the Maitreya

The scholars believe it to be of 8th centenary but there is a thought it is of a Kushan period about 1800 years old.

Mulbek rock carved Buddha

There is an inscription on a near by rocks  orders from the King  Lde for not to sacrifice a goat at the altar of a deity , there is also an inscription that this order of King is too hard if goat is not sacrificed what will the deity say .

 Shergol It is a  picturesque village of the Wakha river Valley  it  is situated across the river, right of the Kargil-Leh road. This village is full of Popalar trees , orchards of Walnut and Apricots The main attraction is a cave monastery which is visible from a far as a white speck against the vertically rising ochre hill from which it appears to hanging  out. Below this small monastery is a larger Buddhist nunnery with about a dozen residents. The village is accessible by the motorable road that branches off from the Kargil-Leh road, about 5 km before  Mulbek. Shergol is a convenient base for an exciting 4-day trek across the mountain range into the Suru valley. It is also the  base for visiting Urgyan-Dzong, a meditation retreat lying deep inside the mountains surrounding the Wakha River valley.

Nature’s art , Rock called Mother and Child at Mulbek

 Wakha Rgyal tucked away inside the picturesque upper part of the Wakha Valley, up streams of Mulbek.                         Mulbek Gompa : Situated  atop a rocky cliff, Mulbek Gompa (monastery) dominates the valley. It is easy to see why in bygone times this site served as an outpost to guard the caravan route. Like all Buddhists monasteries it is adorned by frescoes and statues .

Shergol Cave Monastery

Rgyal gives the appearance of a medieval settlement of cave dwellings transported in to the modern times with some improvements and extensions. The houses, neatly white-washed and closely stacked, are dug into the sheer face of a vertical cliff that rises high above the green valley . From a far the village looks like a colony of beehives hanging from the  Cliff side

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Kargil , Ladakh

Kargil lies on National Highway 1D which connects Srinagar to Leh , it is on the banks of Suru river , the name is from two words “Gar” means in local language “Any Where” and “Khil” means central place “where any one can stay”. Total population of Kagil 80% follows the Shia faith of  Islam and are inhabited in Kargil, Drass and lower Suru valley, Tibetan Bon Buddhist are mostly in Zanskar valley with small population in Shergol, Mulbek and Upper Suru valley.  There are about 4%  Hindus and Sikhs . Most of the people are of Burig and Balti of Tibetan origin mixed with Dard , Mon and Aryan people.

Kargil City view from Leh-Srinagar Highway

The Tibetan influence is seen in Kargil and Leh people , the Islam came here with Persian influence which has lots Persian words , phrases and even the religious songs in their language , the marriages are solemnize with common rituals of  Buddhist and Islam customs .

Mt. Nun & Mt. Kun from Suru valley trekkers hot spot

It was a transit point of caravans on their way to and from China, Tibet, Yarken and Kashmir till 1949, but since 1974 with the influx of tourists the region has been replaced as center for tourism related activities. Tourists traveling between Zanskar, Leh and Srinagar stop for  a night stay , before proceeding for onward  journey.

People visit Kargil with the memories of 1999 India and Pakistan conflict as it lies very close to the line of control .

Bomb Shell splinters holes fired from Pakistan

The Suru river flows through Kargil , Suru valley extends till the Pensi-la where there is a famous peaks of Nun and Kun , Karaste kar is a small village on Leh highway where 9 meter tall rock carved statue of Maitriya Buddha attracts the tourists from far places . There are other magnificent Stupas and rock carved statues to be seen in Suru valley . Most of the trekkers take a hike to  the Nun- Kun view saddle (3810mtr. ) in the Parkachik ridge. It is a  3 hours of walking along the slopes  overlooking the fertile valley below.

Pakistani post was captured and pushed behind this peak

The road connection from Srinagar is open from May till November , rest of the year there is a heavy snow in the Zoji-la , this area is cut off by road in winters from rest of India , the Indian Air Force  operates few flights to help the local people to come in out of the valley. summers are warm with cold nights , Drass which is 56 km from Kargil is coldest inhabited place in India. The only  road link to Zanskar  is from Kargil .

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Vamana Temple of Love Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh

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Vamana Temple of Love Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh was built during 1050 AD to 1075 AD by the Chandela Rulers . It is a UNESCO Heritage site

Vamana Temple of Love Khajuraho

Dedicated to the Vamana, the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and also the first incarnation where the Vishnu came in a full human form ( the form of a dwarf Brahmin).  Legend says that the Vamana came to earth to give back the authority of the celestial world back to Lord Indra (King of Heaven), after the benevolent Asura ( Demon) King Bali, took over the control of all the three worlds, Swarg ( Heaven) , Bhulok (Earth) and ( Pataal lok) the underworld.

Vamana Avtar the Fifth Incarnation of Lord Vishnu

The exterior of the temple has double walls with intricate carvings of Apsaras in various sensual poses or other carvings depicting everyday life, like musicians, dancers, women preening in front of a mirror, etc. The main doorway is carved with four armed Vamans. The temple is a sandstone structure with mortise and tenon joints to hold the adjacent stones together.  the  temple has a central chamber-the sanctum ( Garbha Griha), an atrium, a Maha Mandapa, a central towering spire – Shikhara and a porch leading to the main temple entrance.

Images on the outer wall of Vamana Temple of Love Khajuraho

It is nirandhara (one without ambulatory) temple, consisting on plan of a sapta-ratha (seven-projectioned) sanctum, vestibule, maha-mandapa with lateral transepts and entrance-porch, contrast to the developed local temples, erotic scenes are absent here.

At first sight many of the Khajuraho temple sculptures would appear to be naked, there is no nude body in Indian art. Adornment, associated with auspiciousness, The bodies lining the exterior of the Vamana Temple,  are represented decorated  in jewelry and draped in semi transparent veils. Associated with fertility, abundance, prosperity, and good fortune, voluptuous female bodies and loving couples are perfectly acceptable subject matter for temples.

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Devi Jagadambi Temple of Love Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh

Devi Jagadambi Temple also known as Jagadambika Temple , built by the Chandela rulers between 1000 AD to 1025. AD  originally it was dedicated to Lord Vishnu as the East facing door, the prominence given to the Lord Vishnu on the doorway to the sanctum.

Devi Jagdambika at Temple of Love Khajuraho

 

Few believe it a Parvati Temple and that Ma Kali image  ( Jagadamba) is actually an image of Parvati, painted black . The temple is on the same platform  the Kandariya  Mahadev but  small in height . The Garbhagriha is having a huge image of the Goddess (Devi) of the Universe (Jagdambi),

 

Devi Jagdambika with Kandaria Mahadev Temple , Temple of Love Khajuraho

It has  only one set of balconies, only one Mandap and no inner Pradakshina , It has some of the beautiful images in sculptures  . Apart from the normal female figures applying make-up and preening themselves, there are a number of lovers embracing and assigned to honor love and conjugal harmony, with figures of the divine couples and others depicting every mood of love , a mischievous woman tugging at lover’s beard .

Lady wearing thin skirt and body decorated jewels , gazing into a mirror

A woman with her beautiful back turned to the onlooker she is preoccupied in gazing at her beauty in the mirror, her scarf falling over her  shoulder most provocatively.  Images of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord  Brahma embracing their consorts. The south side has an image of Varaha, depicted with a human body and a Boar head, emerging from the primeval waters carrying the earth Goddess Bhudevi on his arm. She has placed her hand affectionately on his snout as if to pat the Boar and thank him for rescuing her.

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