The city is so small but still buzzing. There is only one flight to Bhuj by Air India which is never on time. Two hours of delay both ways is normal. I was expecting to see some authentic traditional houses on the way to our kul devi temple but it seems people across the country are losing the touch with traditions and have embraced highly toxic so-called modern lifestyle.
The plastic garbage is ruining the country and the countryside. It’s consumed by the cows on the roads and than we drink that milk and expect to be healthy.
The temple was located in the remote area 3 hours from Bhuj airport. Though it was jungle me Mangal. We stayed in the hotel Regenta which is 3 km from the airport. It is built on the hill top with a beautiful sight of the city.
The funniest part is, I noticed old fashioned sofa made of wood, a washbasin made on a silai machine, an autorickshaw – old-styled chakra and a ship. The culture which we want to desperately leave behind, we are ok to embrace it as a fashion statement. We want to display it as home decor in modern houses. But we don’t want to go back to that healthy lifestyle and more so we just keep abusing the old traditions.
The sad part is, we are progressing economically on the line of global lifestyle at the cost of environment, culture, health, mental peace and spirituality.
I always knew that western world is sleeping over diet issue for a long time. But increase in various lifestyle diseases have forced them to revisit the issue of diet all over again. It also means that world is moving towards health and wellness unlike earlier time of fire fighting and not fire prevention.
Increase of vegan diet, cafe and Resturents all across Europe has made it possible for those who were always complaining of non availability of food while traveling.
Gone are the days when one would need to walk miles to find a vegetarian dish in any decent Resturent in affordable price.
I found so many such resturants which only serves vegetarian food and doing extremely well. Not fearing of not having enough customers to pay their rentals.
It was worth spending three hours in UN at Geneva to know what they actually do. Very rightly said by the guide that UN talks in Newyork and actually works in Geneva.
The long session of their activities and few meetings about environment related issues enlightened me on how I can take forward my work related to uplifting the local women and add more activities to Kenya Vegetarian Club for the next level. Its time to understand what is important and what action is required to do for locals.
My aim of saving the environment through vegetarian diet is actually taken quite seriously at UN too. I saw quite a few banners talking about it all over the center.
It was a pleasant surprise to see Gandhiji’s statue in the premises, though I had heard about it earlier but saw it today.
Continuing with my visit in the busy area of Malleswaram, I reached the temple of Kadu Malleswara after finishing the Gangamma and Nandi Temples located in the vicinity. A temple that is many centuries old, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is the lord of the forest as Kadu in Kannada means forest. This place should have been a forest full of trees once upon a time. Modernization and a teeming population should have shrunk these green areas and they would have become a part of the city at some point of time. The area Malleswaram gets its name because of this temple. One legend says Sage Gautama had performed penance in this forest, so the area is rich with spiritual vibrations. History says that this temple was consecrated in the seventeenth century by Venkoji, the step brother of Maratha ruler, Shivaji after he found a Swayambu linga in the place. The place is so vast and you can explore it at a leisurely pace.
I found the stone images of snakes so fascinating. The nagara kallu or snake in stone is installed in fulfillment of a vow according to locals. There are hundreds of such stones in the far end of the temple.
There is also an image of a seven-headed black snake in the premises.
It was really a blissful visit as I climbed the flight of steps and worshipped Lord Shiva, his consort Parvathi and also Lord Vishnu in the main shrine. There are other small shrines dedicated to Lord Dakshinamurthy, Hanuman and the Navagrahas.
A little farther from this temple is the Dodda Ganapathy Temple.
The evening wore on and I next went to the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, this temple too seems to have had a connection with the Maratha rulers. The temple was consecrated by a kinsman of Chatrapathi Shivaji. Lakshmi Narasimha Temple. As it was the eve of Vaikunta Ekadashi the temple was getting ready for the stream of visitors the next day and decorations were on in full swing. I felt so fortunate to be in the presence of Lord Narasimha on such an auspicious occasion.
You can learn more about the Narasimhavtar if you follow this link on my website
The year 2017 has begun on a significant note for me. Travelling to Bengaluru to attend the Pravasi Bharathiya Diwas as a delegate, I thought it best to make use of this opportunity to visit local temples steeped in legend and history.
I was so happy to visit some of the temples in Malleswaram, which is one of the traditional areas of the city. My first stop was the Gangamma Temple. What a beautiful place this is! The deity Gangamma dedicated to the River Goddess Ganga is worshipped by the locals. Mother Ganga strikes an emotive chord in the heart of Indians as she blesses this land with her grace. She stands for prosperity and wealth. No wonder we find that she is worshipped in all parts of India by her children. The annual jathra or fair is a big event here where thousands from all over the state come to the temple to offer worship. There is a lovely chariot in which the goddess will be taken in a grand procession during the festival.
You can learn a lot more about Mother Ganga from the detailed articles on my site
Bang opposite the Gangamma Temple is a temple that attracted me with the image of a large Nandi atop the spire of the temple. I went there and was amazed by what I saw. Even more thrilling is the fact that this temple known as Dakshina Mukha Nandi Teertha meaning the South facing Nandi Temple was lost and buried under sand and was a distant memory in the minds of the local people. Then one day in 1997 when someone wanted to sell this plot of sandy land, locals protested saying that a temple had stood there centuries ago. Soon they started digging the land and buried deep under mounds of sand, a beautiful view of the temple emerged. The Archeological Survey of India stepped in and began excavating the place excited that they were going to recreate history. And they were not disappointed. An exquisite temple so grand and unique emerged and they went about piecing together the history of the temple. Using the carbon dating method, the ASI feels the temple is 400 years old. But some say it could be 7000 years old too though there is no evidence apart from hearsay and local legends.
I felt thrilled that I was directly witnessing a unique history as I went inside to see the temple. I have visited so many temples and have always found the Nandi which is the vehicle of Lord Shiva seated right in front of the Lord. Here the Nandi was seated atop a platform and right below is a shiv ling. Water flows out of Nandi’s mouth and falls on the Shivling as if he is continuously doing abhishek on the Lord.
I tried to find out where the water is coming from. That seems to be another mystery of this magnificent temple. No one knows the source of this water body. May be it is a fresh water spring, maybe it is some other divine source. The water is supposed to have medicinal properties. It collects from the shivling into a tank that is right in front of the shrine. Locals call this tank a kalyani.One thing that caught my observation was that the temple is slightly lower than the surrounding areas. Possibly that is why it had remained hidden from public view for so many years. But I marveled at the engineering skills of our great countrymen that inspite of years of neglect the temple remains in a fit condition to host devotees who come to pay obeisance to Nandishwara, the loyal vehicle of the Lord. There are also small idols of Ganesha and the Navagrahas on a raised platform.
I threw some coins into the tank which had a few fish and turtles and slowly wound my way to the exit. I was witness to a unique slice of the past.
This year I attended the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas for 2 days in the garden city of Bengaluru. The weather was pleasant and the Exhibition Centre where the grand event took place was spacious and lovely. It was very well organized and I can see that the event is getting bigger and bigger every year. It is apparent that global Indians look forward to attending the Pravasi event as it gives us a chance to meet, network and also learn about the latest things that the government is doing keeping us as stakeholders. There is a sense of belonging now to the country of our roots.
I took the opportunity to present my book on Hindu Culture and Lifestyle Studies to the Chief Minister of Assam. I enjoyed the lovely exhibition displaying arts and crafts from various states of India. These talented craftsmen were present there and it was great interacting with them.
January 9th is a very special day for Indians whether they are resident, nonresident or ethnic Indians. It is the day that commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa in Bombay in the year 1915. It is often said that Gandhi left India as Mohandas Karamchand and returned home as the Mahatma. Fighting off racial arrogance and plunging into causes more humanitarian than political, he emerged as a messiah for the masses.
It is indeed appropriate that the Indian Government has decided to honor this day as Pravasi Bharatiya divas celebrating the Indian diaspora and welcoming them home on this day. Each year 7th to 9th January, a celebratory event called the Pravasi Bharatiya conference is held in any Indian city by rotation. It is rightly said you can take an Indian out of India but not India from the heart of any Indian. The country with its ancient heritage and culture shows the way to everyone in the world and it is to reaffirm one’s roots to this ancient country that Indians gather home during this time.
I visited a few countries in the last couple of months. During my travel, I found how other countries are protecting their heritage sites and welcoming visitors to their tourist sites. It not only generates income for the country but also helps in popularizing the culture of that particular place. When the visitors go back to their own places they are sure to describe their visit and the facilities available to their friends and relatives. This word of mouth advertisement helps in promoting tourism much more than any pamphlet or agency. What is it that a visitor looks forward to while visiting such places? Cleanliness and hygiene are the two important things that come to my mind. The place should be clean and good rest room facilities should be available. It should be children and elder friendly. If there is provision for the differently abled then that is a huge bonus.
It is here that many places abroad score over our country. India is blessed with a wonderful heritage and culture. Go to any part of the country and every monument you see there speaks so much about the history of the place and its people. But I feel sad when I see these beautiful structures vandalized, people scribbling with nails and pens or other sharp instruments, throwing empty juice cartons or chips covers all over the place and I am filled with revulsion and also sadness. Imagine how a visitor would feel. I feel these are things our schools should be telling the children. We have to inculcate pride in our culture, in our national treasures. Teachers, parents and all of us interested in the future of our nation should make it a point to talk to our children about these things. Swatcch Bharat is not a campaign run on the streets alone. If each one of us takes it to heart and educate people and this includes our children, our workforce, people like our maids and drivers, then the message will go well. It cannot happen in a day. It takes some time but atleast we have made a beginning. People outside are so proud of their treasures, this feeling that it is all ours should be there within each one of us. We have to take responsibility and care for our rivers, beaches, waterbodies and any other natural and manmade tourist spots. I hope you all agree.
It was just a perfect coincidence for me to be in London today on the day of Gandhi Jayanti which is also celebrated as non violence day.
I was bit curious to know what actually people do on this day. To my surprise it was damn serious and sincere efforts by various organisations to acknowledge the contribution of this man called GANDHI in various forms.
I started with first celebration at Euston square garden where high commissioner remained present and gave a short speech on the importance of this day. Than we followed to High commissioner’s office where Modiji’s speech was telecasted live from Delhi where he opened a center specially for NRIs. It followed to the parliement square where patidar samaj concluded peace march.
I used to read and write a lot about Gandhiji in school days. I remembered his teachings but forgot him in last few years. It was a good feeling to get connected with my favorite topic of essay in school days.
It is such a pleasure to visit temples in any part of the world. There is something magical about the ambience and you feel connected to the divine when you are there. Maybe it is because of all the rituals and pujas that are conducted inside which creates vibrations that rub onto us when we visit them. The silence also helps us to connect with god easily, no wonder they say it is only in the depths of silence you can hear the voice of god.
Also our scriptures talk about shilpa shastras and vastu shastras which deal with design, architecture and the science of building temples, forts, houses etc. The vast spaces in the temples have a deeply significant purpose for energy flows in these spaces and we can carry the positivity with us when we return from there. I truly felt these when I visited the Sanatan Hindu temple at Wembley. It is extremely beautiful and the well-carved walls are exquisite. The entire temple is very well maintained. When significant incidents from the epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and our Puranas are put up on the walls they also serve as a link for the visitors with our glorious culture and traditions. These walls speak so well that visitors are engrossed in absorbing the message conveyed by these walls. By putting up images of popular men and women who have inspired others the temple also seeks to be inclusive and is seen as promoting values which are common for all like compassion, love and service.