India

The Legend of Jamali-Kamali

Of many marvels situated in Archeological Park, Mehrauli; a neighborhood in South West Delhi district just a few kms away from the famous Qutub Minar; Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb is one of a kind.

Built during the years 1528 – 29, this monument’s architecture was decorated with marble embellishments. The design of the mosque, first of a kind in India, has been appreciated and studied with awe for many years. This mosque and tomb is dedicated to Jamali and Kamali.

Jamali, was a Saint and Sufi poet, who lived between Sikandar Lodi’s reign and that of Humayun. His full name was Sheikh Fazlullah or Sheikh Jamal-ud-din Kamboh Dehlawi. Jamali’s poetry created a special place in Sikandar Lodi’s heart; his works were so impressive that though Mughals conquered India, Jamali remained in the royal court till Humayun’s death.

However, this seemingly just another monument entails more stories and history than one could fathom. Few of them are tough to believe but definitely catch the attention. Let’s get started.

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The gushing leaves in the courtyard seem to welcome every visitor alike. As I enter I couldn’t help but observe the structure of the mosque and the red sandstone work is so peculiar of the Mughal Architecture. It reminds me of the works in Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandra, near Agra.

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The wazukhana (where the followers cleanse themselves before offering prayers), lies empty now and looks more like a shallow pond but illustrates how meticulously it was constructed back then.

As I enter the elegant Mosque, the architecture takes me to another world. The carved bands and medallions, and five arched openings, and the narrow gallery leading to the second floor; there’s something peaceful about the whole setting.

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However, it is believed that the peaceful turns to eerie silence in the evening, the presence of ‘Jinns’ (or the super natural forces) has been confirmed by many stories. Some say, it haunted, I don’t really know. To me, it looks and feels mysterious yet amazing.

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In the adjoining closure, there’s a flat roofed tomb, the entry to this tomb has now been closed, but it’s famous for ornamentation with colored tiles and exquisite patterns embedded with inscriptions composed by Jamali himself.

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It’s the Jamali – Kamali tomb, Kamali’s relationship with Jamali was a special one as illustrated by the fact that Kamali was buried alongside Jamali. Not much validated information is available about Kamali, however there are many stories speculating that he was – A disciple, brother, friend and / or a lover. Historians, explain that during that era homosexual love was as normal as opposite sex and hence there is a high possibility that this burial side-by-side is extension of promise, made in love of being together forever. Like the Taj Mahal in Agra commemorates Shahjahan’s eternal love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Jamali-Kamali tomb has a similar theory. 1000 years back, who knew mausoleums could elicit such great interest in history.

With myriad questions rumbling in my mind I made my way to another ruined monument, a new story and experience and yet more unanswered questions.

 

 

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Categories: Art and Culture, Experience, Family Travel, Heritage, India, New Delhi, Offbeat Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

The Wonderland is YOU!!!

The most endearing thing in Life is to be able to wake up with optimistic notions, unabated smile, balmy heart and an aura that exudes positivity. One might say that’s just not possible with all the stress endowed with current lifestyles and all kinds of responsibilities that Adulting brings with time.

And that is also the reason why it is becoming so rare to find, such a simple delight but most of us are struggling to find it on a daily basis. Happiness is all contained within you, you just need to identify and unleash it.

Wonderland 1

Happiness is the most beautiful gift you can gift to yourself. And it’s contagious, it spreads to people around you!!

To put in perspective, Berkeley Wellness recently shared a piece on happiness where Scientists and Researchers have defined happiness as having satisfaction and meaning in your life. It’s the propensity to feel positive emotions, the capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly, and holding a sense of purpose. Happiness is not having a lot of privilege or money. It’s a broader thing: Our ability to connect with others, to have meaningful relationships, to have a community. (The real relationships and social bonding not social media)

There is no dearth of researches that have been conducted in the past affirming that ‘Happiness’ cannot be bought with money, what makes one happy in the long run are relationships, experiences and contentment with Life. That contentment is not going to come if you keep spending hours, days, and months and ultimately years doing the same thing over and over again to earn money unless you have taken a bold choice of pursuing your passion. If every morning you get up and you are raring to go to work, it’s all good.  If not, then rethink. The Science of Happiness encourages people to begin with acknowledging ‘3 beautiful things / incidences’ that they believe make them feel happy and blessed on a daily basis. It’s also called the Happiness Practice, so if you’re really struggling, I’d suggest begin with the Practice.

I often read quotes by Robin Sharma, he is such an amazing writer (his books are awesome too!), two of the quotes are like etched in my brain – ‘Do not Live the same year 75 times and call it a LIFE’ and the other one – ‘Who you are becoming is more important than what you are accumulating’.

I hope your pursuit of happiness finds it’s goal soon.

Dedicating this piece to ‘Happiness’, I’m glad to share beautifully apt pictures in the series, the highlight photo of which is published above. These pictures were shot at Dhankar, Spiti Valley. Dhankar stands tall at an altitude of 12,774 feet. Dhang/dang means cliff, and kar/khar means fort. Hence, the fort on a cliff is popularly known as ‘Dhankar’. The confluence of Spiti & Pin Rivers from this height is incredible!!!

Hope these pictures bring delight and the spirit of happiness to you –

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Wonderland 5

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Wonderland 4

Well, no denying that Childhood is the most precious and beautiful time of Life. The way these kids were playing at such high altitude and on the road which had no fences, no protection is admirable. Also, they were so happy to face the camera.

It was difficult for us to even get out of the car and fight the crazy wind. This also shows human body is capable of anything. In fact, Spiti is one place which makes me rethink the metro lifestyles.

To conclude, I would say never let go of the child inside you, for it will keep you alive.

 

Categories: Adventure, Experience, Himachal, India, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

For the Love of Football

Football is a game loved all over the world, people might be separated by geographies or language but the passion for the game unites them 🙂 Recently, when we spent a wandering week in Goa (October 2017), we had a beautiful encounter with the display of sheer passion. Interestingly, this was also the period when ‘2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup’ was taking place in India and few of the matches were held in Margoa, South Goa (Fatorda Stadium). We were staying just few kilometers from the stadium and witnessed few of the practice sessions, however, the practice off the field caught our attention more.

Here is the photo story, all the pictures are shot at Benaulim Beach, South Goa

Football 1

I have never played Football like this but while I looked at these kids, I could feel the excitement and a burst of energy

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Football 4

Football 3

Football Final

And that is the perfect goal!! That moment and to be able to capture it on Camera gave me a HIGH.

 

 

Categories: Family Travel, India, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 51 Comments

The Camels of Thar, Rajasthan

Miles and miles of incessant desert, a land of shifting sand dunes and infinite stories! That’s Thar – The Great Indian Desert.

The Thar Desert is a large arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent that covers an area of 200,000 kms. The world’s 18th largest desert forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan.  About 85% of the Thar Desert is in India, and the remaining 15% is in Pakistan. Most of the desert is covered by huge shifting sand dunes that receive sediments from the alluvial plains and the coast.

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That’s a Camel cart, Camels are the most used form of transport in rural areas of Rajasthan

But wait; isn’t it unimaginable to picture large Desert without its Ship i.e. The Mighty Camel. Indeed it is! The Camel is indispensable part of the Desert. Camels are the most important part of fairs and festivals too in Rajasthan.

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Camels with their Keepers at Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

The big snout, dusky eyes and really long legs could be intimidating at first look but don’t make any opinions and judgements so soon, Camels might carry a tough look but they are adorable and very dear, especially to the camel breeders.

Camels are unique mammals, identified with humped back and found in desert areas of Asia and Africa. There are two types of camels – Dromedary, which have one hump, and Bactrian, which have two humps. The humps consist of stored fat, which they can metabolize when food and water is scarce. The one with one hump is quite common here in Thar Desert, India.

The Quintessential Camel Ride

If you have been to Rajasthan (particularly Jaisalmer), I’m sure you have been on the Desert Safari, it’s almost impossible not to try a Camel Ride once in Jaisalmer. It’s the biggest attraction of the Safari and an unforgettable experience. There’s something about the Camel Ride.

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Look the Camel is posing and smiling too!! A still from our Desert Safari in Jaisalmer.

  • Firstly the funny feeling when the Camel gets up and sits back again.
  • The situation where Camel doesn’t want to get up at all!
  • The fun when he starts running!
  • The feeling while you keep swinging lightly as the Camel moves giving a tour and taste of the Desert.
  • The peculiar smell that Camel carries, one has to get over it 🙂

Continue reading

Categories: Experience, Family Travel, India, Jaisalmer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Best of Spiti – In Pictures

The inviting roads, the terrain, the landscapes and topography…….

Making up our minds for doing the 11 days road trip with a little baby was not easy at all. It was the first time ever that we were so anxious about our ‘Travel’ plans!! Post baby, the lifestyle changed every bit and traveling together (particularly the adventure trips) were difficult to fathom. However, our zeal for road trips couldn’t keep us away for a very long time and after an occasional break of a year we decided to pack our bags and set out on a road trip along with our 11 months old little love to the revered Spiti Valley, the Land of Lamas in India. Interestingly, we discovered our baby boy shares the love for Travel 🙂 This trip wasn’t his first though, he had been on few short trips already before Spiti.

Spiti is as stunning as it name sounds!! Lahaul–Spiti lies in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Spiti is predominantly occupied by Tibetan refugees and hence the region has pretty much feel of Tibet.

We covered the region via Shimla. It was thrilling as well as challenging to drive on these roads. We were bracing ourselves for the drive on one of the most treacherous and deadliest roads of the world. This time it was the thrill of NH-22 and Hindustan-Tibet road. The hairpin bends, the narrow dimensions, encountering natural waterfalls, close encounters with trucks and buses, the frequent bad patches made us  feel ecstatic and sometimes insane:). Take a virtual tour of the roads here.

The region is heaven for photography enthusiasts, to hone skills and experiment with different styles, today I’m sharing the essence of the ‘Spiti Valley’ captured in pictures, a random compilation of awe-inspiring sightings. This is going to be a series of posts and I hope you travel along 🙂

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This is a landscape view of village – Dhankar. Dhankar stands tall at an altitude of 12,774 feet. Dhang/dang means cliff, and kar/khar means fort. Hence, the fort on a cliff is popularly known as ‘Dhankar’. The confluence of Spiti & Pin Rivers from this height is incredible!!!

Dhankar houses a 16th century old fort monastery; however one can see the new monastery now in the tiny village of Shichilling. The old monastery complex is also known as Lha-O-pa Gompa; it has five different halls and includes a number of multi-storied buildings. The highlight of the monastery is the a statue of Vairochana or Dhayan Buddha with 4 figures seated back to back. The monastery is associated with Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism and has around 150 lamas residing in it.

Dhankar - LandDhankar

Read more about Dhankar

Bridge-Spiti

The natural settings are so beautiful here that we were compelled to take breaks and soak in the beauty, this capture is a humble attempt to share the beauty with the world. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Family Travel, Himachal, India, Spiti Valley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 73 Comments

Of Windows and Travel!

This week’s WPC theme is – Windows!!

I have been reminiscing about this for a long time and was about to do a post. So, I’m glad that it is the theme for the week 🙂 where I can share my pictures reflecting the world through windows, the world that keeps changing. The only constant in these pictures is the ‘Window’ 🙂

The first picture here was shot in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The beautiful city is a visual treat with it’s shimmering lakes against the backdrop of Aravali Hills, formidable palaces showcasing heritage and enticing structures with distinctive artwork. I believe my regular readers would also remember a post I recently did on the city.

Thursday

The Pink Evening at Sangla!

The second one captures the essence of ‘Sangla’, a quaint town located in Kinnaur in Himachal region of India. The sky that evening turned pink and looked beyond beautiful. This shot captures the calm mountains overlooking apple orchards.

Glimpse of Sangla

We covered ‘Sangla’ on our 11 days road trip to Spiti Valley, Read – An epic road trip to Spiti Valley , the Land of Lamas in India’

Feel the Royalty at Jaisalmer!

View from Window

This is a capture of the ‘Jaisalmer Fort’ from a restaurant’s dining area. We stayed here for two days and I would recommend to definitely cover Jaisalmer if you’re are exploring Rajasthan.

Jaisalmer is popularly known as the The Golden City, situated amidst Thar Desert, close to Pakistan border; over powered by the Jaisalmer Fort (Sonar Quila) the city with glorious past offers an action packed experience to travelers. Not just the architecture, the whole city oozes different feel tiny gallis (narrow lanes), all the houses constructed from golden bricks, puppet shows and people singing folk songs at all the unexpected locations, its awesome !!!

The Morning at Dal Lake!

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Dal Lake is fondly known as Srinagar’s jewel. Dal Lake is the second largest lake in the state; it is a major tourist attraction as well as source for commercial activities such as fishing and water plant harvesting.

Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir has always sustained the limelight mostly for infamous reasons. Srinagar, truly is paradise and treat for your soul. You can actually plan long vacation to Srinagar and surrounding areas.

For more pictures of Dal Lake read – Hues of Dal Lake

Windows – What do you see through yours?

‘I see beautiful surroundings, that create magic

lit up my eyes

and make me smile!!

Happy Exploring!!

Categories: Discovery, Experience, Family Travel, India, Offbeat Travel, Road Trip, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 58 Comments

The Art of Marble Inlay

Art is that powerful form of expression that knows no boundaries, no geographies and no limitations!!

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The Art of ‘Marble Inlay’ originates from the Mughal Inlay Art and blossomed beautifully in the age of Mughal Empire. The Marble Inlay Art is indigenously identified as ‘Pachchikari’ or ‘Parchinkari’. It implies the delicate and exquisite process where marble is inlaid with designs in precious or semi-precious stonework. This form of Art is peculiar and one will find it only in Agra and parts of Rajasthan in India. The skilled workers (‘Karigars’) carve incredible designs with their hands and it takes months to complete a piece, and in the process the Karigars survive injuries to the fingers. There is huge demand for the end products in foreign markets and the range of the sale price depends from piece to piece.

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This one needs no introduction 🙂 The Miniature Taj Mahal looks so impressive.

The Origin

The Monuments of Agra showcase the different development stages of Mughal Inlay Art in a progressive sequence spanning from 16th to 17th century as practiced under Akbar (r. 1556-1605), Jahangir (r. 1605-1627), and Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). However the Marble Inlay Art evolved and progressed during the reign of Jahangir, the application of same can be seen in the monuments that were completed in the period of his reign.

The Inspiration

It is believed that the inspiration for this form of art was drawn from the distinctive monuments of Mandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh. Mausoleum in the Ashrafi Mahal and the Tower of Victory in Mandu are the earliest examples of inlaying with rare stones in Mandu and their construction dates back to first half of the fifteenth century though the Asharfi Mahal is in total ruins today.

Jahangir had interests for fine arts and cultural activities. Jahangir encouraged and promoted ‘Marble Inlay’ art and its application can be seen in Jahangiri Mahal to Akbar’s Tomb and then in Tomb of Salim Chisti and Itmad-ud-Daulah’s tomb in Agra.

Today, Marble Inlay art is integral part of Agra’s heritage and its presence can be widely observed in the forms of Tabletops, Lamps, Miniature Elephants, and Miniature Taj Mahal and possibly everything that one can imagine.

So, next time you’re in Agra, do visit a workshop if possible, you’ll be amazed at the process and do pick a beautiful souvenir.

Categories: Art and Culture, Experience, India, Inspiration, Interests, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

The Music that weaves Magic!

When the sound of rustic yet soulful music adorns every nook and corner, you know it’s Rajasthan.

Rajasthan’s diversity is beyond capture in words – rich heritage, vibrant culture, majestic monuments with appealing history,  artistically sound, vast sand dunes, colorful villages, warm people and much more. Rajasthan is famous for showcasing the royal heritage of palaces, forts, havelis & desert safaris, offering a glimpse of it’s spirited culture.

This state has a lot to offer to all groups of travelers and explorers. An ideal destination for royal vacation, adventure lover, family vacation and heaven for antique collectors. Royal life style of the emperors has inspired and promoted a variety of antique art on wood, clothe and stone.

Don’t be surprised when you encounter artists playing folk music and singing melodious songs at all the possible places! When we did Jodhpur-Jaisalmer-Udaipur circuit we observed many such artists but could capture only few but all. Happy to share them here again I know I would shared the pictures earlier in some form or other but these are so apt for ‘Oh Dear! This is India‘ series. They reflect glorious history of India.

The tune of Kamaicha

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This man, deserves all the admiration, he plays at the Gadisagar Lake and has been doing so for more than a decade now!

The instrument that adorns his experienced hands so beautifully is ‘Kamaicha’. ‘Kamaicha’ is one of the oldest musical instruments widely used in Asian music and more so in Rajasthan. It is a string instrument played with a bow.

Read – The Desert Safari and Gala Dinner at Thar

The one called Nagara

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The artist here is playing ‘ Nagara’, also called ‘Kettledrum’ is a cone shaped drum played with two sticks – the Surnai and Nafeeri. I couldn’t capture the sticks very well in the picture though. This man sings and plays at the Mehrangarh Fort (Jodhpur) and it’s so refreshing that one literally starts moving to the music.

Happy Weekend!

Suggested Reading – This is India (I) This is India (II)

 

Categories: History, India, Inspiration, Rajasthan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Chindi – A little piece of Heaven

His eyes lit with excitement as he pointed to a tree where the tiny pomegranates were hanging and dangling and swinging beautifully with gust.

We had been to Orchards before, like on Spiti Valley road trip, the accommodation we stayed in at Kalpa, was located right in the middle of Apple Orchard and we could actually touch the Apples from our room’s balcony! But Aayansh was just 11 months old then so that explains the recent enthusiasm he is now 2 :).

 

It was not just Pomegranates; we crossed variety of trees and were as excited as ever – Pears, Plums, Apricots, and Apples. What a blessed place this was!

And the picturesque views of the hills from that altitude were something else! We had spent a lot of time in Himachal over the last five years, and still on our every following road trip we discover some place special casting a magic spell that lingers on in our hearts.

This is Chindi!

Chindi - Cover

A beautiful drive of about 95 kms from Shimla and you are in ‘Chindi’, a serene charming place in Karsog Valley. The mountains are mighty but so luxuriant with greens and the supple fog that it feels divine. Throughout our road trip we followed Google Maps and decided to take the not so popular route and it turned out amazing as it required us to drive via these quaint villages, orchards and incredible views.

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The misty mighty mountains as viewed from Chindi in Karsog Valley

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Categories: Experience, Family Travel, Hill Station, Himachal, India, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Oh Dear! This is India (2)

Hi all, last week I started a photo series – Oh Dear! This is India. In continuation of the same I’m happy to share the second picture reflecting ubiquitous or unusual pulse of India.

Quite a Charmer!

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Chetan (above) is so happy to pose with his friend (as he points to the Snake and calls him Ramu). We met him on the outskirts of Indore near a village. He told us that the iconic folk art of ‘Snake Charming’ runs through generations in his family. But the business is not as rosy as it used to be.

The business of Charming!

Snake Charmers are known for their art of controlling deadliest of the reptiles (read Cobras) with the use of gourd flute (a musical instrument). For centuries this tribe has performed street shows, rescued snakes and saved the day as the boundaries of the human occupied land has grown. Continue reading

Categories: Experience, India, Travel, Travel Experience, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

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