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Ancient Temples of Kalchuri - Amarkantak

Ancient Temples of Kalchuri - Amarkantak

Amarkantak is called as the "Tirtharaj" or "King of Pilgrimage". This less visited destination in India has the origin of Narmada river, temples from Kalchuri Dynasty, temple dedicated to the highly revered design of Shree Yantra and much more. The positivity that this place brings along is unparalleled. Narmada Kund is known by many but not the same with the Ancient Temples of Kalchuri. It is managed by ASI and is a protected monument. These are the oldest temples in this region and are located just opposite to the Narmada Kund. The great legend Shankaracharya had installed the idol of Shiva in the Pataleshwar temple here, however, the construction of the compound and other temples was done in the reign of Kalchuri Dynasty (somewhere around 10th century). The premises has many temples, Pataleshwar and Karna temple being the more prominent ones. Pataleshwar temple has a panchratha shikhara , meaning that it has five elevation type structures at the top. One amazing feature that I find in ancient temples is the ability to maintain a cool atmosphere inside the temple. You do not need an AC at all! One can very easily tell the difference between the outside temperature and inside. It is said that Shankaracharya had installed the Shiva idol beneath the temple to pray and find out about the source of Narmada. Legend has it that Maa Narmada used to offer her prayers at this temple and that is how the source was found. Even today, the water level below the temple rises during Shravan as Maa Narmada comes here to offer her prayers. The Karna Mandir is the oldest in the compound and also the most neglected. It appears that the tree temples raised on a platform were supposed to be connected but the construction never completed. Here is a quick sneak peak of the Kalchuri Temple premises: Amarkantak is a 5 hour drive from the city of Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, which itself offers a lot of things to visit. I bet you cannot miss this amazing drive to have a well spent holiday! Also in Amarkantak: Kapil Dhara Falls Shri Yantra Mandir Narmada Udgam Kund

Parashuram Statue in Jabalpur

Parashuram Statue in Jabalpur

Parashuram Ji is the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is considered to be the immortal one. He is believed to re-appear at the end of Kaliyuga as the Guru of Vishnu's tenth incarnation, Kalki. The excitement and thrill of such events grow manifold when we, the moral human beings, witness places of such Gods during their human incarnations era. One such place of Parashuram Ji is in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. Situated at the outskirts of Khamaria in Jabalpur, this 31 ft tall Parashuram statue was established in the late 2000s. It has a wide area all around it and surrounded by farm lands. The statue was built on top of the rock cave where Parashuram meditated and prayed for a very long time. The cave itself is around 20ft from the ground. This is where He used to meditate and pray: The statue also boasts of 14 ft long and 2.5 ft wide(top) tomahawk (axe) which is considered to be Parashuram's weapon. It also features in the Golden book of records as the largest tomahawk. As the statue is built on the rock, the front view was difficult to take due to the steepness of the rock. I somehow managed with this GoPro selfie :D Talking about the place and the surroundings will not give justice to the magnificent feel that can be experienced here. Being on top of a rock with farm lands all around you and with practically no one makes you feel like the king of the world! Come here, relax, meditate, introspect, do whatever! In fact, thanks to my GoPro, the surroundings pic came as if it is the Earth's curvature. Have a look: Since this place is on the outskirts of the city of Jabalpur, hardly anyone visits it on a daily basis. But during festive occasions related to Lord Vishnu, and especially Parashuram Jayanti,, the local people throng to this place to offer their devotion. As a customary practice, they climb up to the feet of the statue and touch them to seek blessings. There is a temple on the opposite side of the statue dedicated to Him. Locals and tourists (if any) visit it and pray for their well beings. Here is a sneak peak of my journey: So what are you waiting for? Head out to this offbeat destination!

Temple on the Hill - Sharda Devi, Jabalpur

Temple on the Hill - Sharda Devi, Jabalpur

Temples are the places where you always get positive energy, isn't it? Not just this but you also feel calm and quiet even if it is in the centre of the city. What if such a temple is situated at the top of a hill surrounded by amazing views and with practically very few people in non festive times? Welcome to Sharda Devi Temple in Barela, Jabalpur! History This temple was built by the great queen Rani Durgavati during the 1500s during a drought situation in the region. The region had not had any rainfall due to which the locals were unable to grow food. As Sharda Devi is widely worshipped in this place, Rani Durgavati had got this temple built which kept her faith in the Gods. As soon as she raised the religious flag over the temple, minutes after it rained heavily and the land's thirst was quenched. Not only this, but after a fierce battle with Sultan Baj Bahadur, Rani Durgavati successfully defeated his army and made him flee the place. The winning made her raise the flag yet again and the nature repeated herself by showering all over the region. Since then the ceremony of raising flags has been going on in the temple premises. The temple has the idols of Maa Sharda, Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha. It can be easily reached by well maintained roads. The view from the top is simply amazing! Having spent some time here, I felt like meditating to the fullest. The atmosphere was so full of energy and positive vibes. Cool breeze and the city view added to the already enriched experience. I have always been an admirer of temples and their architecture. We often just visit temples and leave it in a few minutes by just offering prayers to our Lords, but instead temples are best experienced when you give it some time and sit in there. This is because of the energy system that has been widely written in Hindu texts and also explained in Yoga. Your mind will be full of positivity owing to the design of the temples and the nature of the place, be it ancient or modern. Try this once and take a pledge to sit in a temple for some time in order to experience this supernatural phenomenon of energies! For more such travel pictures, visit my IG page https://www.instagram.com/prakhar.maheshwari/

Maa Narmada Aarti, Jabalpur

Maa Narmada Aarti, Jabalpur

Narmada, the holy river in Madhya Pradesh, is highly revered with people following Hinduism. In fact, India has many such rivers, but Ganga and Narmada are probably the most auspicious ones. The everyday 7pm evening Aartis is a treat to watch for. I was lucky to get a chance to witness the Haridwar Aarti at the popular spot Har-ki-pauri. Having lived in Jabalpur for more than an year now, I somehow was not able to attend the Narmada aarti here due to Covid restrictions. Better late than never, before leaving this place, the Aarti was the only thing left in my travel bucket list. Gwarighat in Jabalpur is the Banaras like ghat which is on the banks of Maa Narmada river. A large space with temples, roadside eateries, pandits in their typical attires, beautifully decorated boats to help you cross to the other side of the river and even some leisure surfing is the sight that you will witness here. The Aarti, just like anywhere else, starts sharply at 7PM every evening spreading a stream of positive energy throughout. There is something with the temples and the rituals, when performed in a group with all the necessary etiquettes, fills you with such a positive vibe that you naturally become joyful. A beautiful thing about Gwarighat is that one can seek blessings in the Ghat temples and Gurudwara at the same time. Just cross the river on the beautiful boats to reach the Gurudwara Gwarighat Sahib. What a serene moment it is! Take a sneak peak of the Aarti and I bet it will clear your mind from all sorts of worries and stress: As a ritual, one has to light a small diya and give it to Narmada river by placing it on it. There are many such ready made diyas available for Rs. 5. You should purchase one and light it to offer to Maa Narmada. This completes your puja for the day. Such events cannot be experienced everywhere and hence places like Hardiwar, Banaras, Prayagraj, Jabalpur and others become the attraction point. Make sure you do experience this in your lifetime and I am sure it will entice you to visit such points again and again! Read more about Narmada and how she originates here

Kapil Dhara, Amarkantak

Kapil Dhara, Amarkantak

My love with exploring nook and corners of India is growing exponentially. This is not just because of patriotism but realising that Indian places of significance not only offers you scenic and breathtaking natural views but also briefs you about deep scientific, religious history behind. Of what I considered just a plain waterfall actually has an amazing history that delves into science and philosophy. Just about 6km from the Narmada Udgam Kund, lies these beautiful waterfalls, Kapil Dhara. Narmada river when originates from the Kund silently, flows to this place which then takes the form of a fall and later seeps in to the forests. The surroundings offer a lush green forest with the gentle stream of river that ferociously falls from the 100ft height and entices everyone by its sheer force and beauty. The reason that it is called Kapil Dhara is because thousands of years earlier Kapil Muni, one of the great Indian sages used to live here and meditate. It is this place where Kapil Muni wrote the "Samkhya" , which counts human experience into two principles - Purusa (Consciousness) and Prakriti (nature). The explanation to this is beyond the scope of this small travel experience, but I would strongly suggest you to read it. It is sad that most of us do not know the rich history that we come from that spans across each and every discipline. Nonetheless, such places can revive your interest in it. To enjoy this view, one has to go past the bridge, take the steps down and enjoy the beauty of this place. Yes, climbing back up takes a toll on your legs if you are not used to walking! But, that should not be a deterrent for you to miss the most amazing piece in this trip. You can find a lot of monkeys here and there is a need to be little careful. Avoid giving any food or looking straight into their eyes, though largely it is not a menace. There are lot of street vendors who can make you enjoy this place with their tea, lemon soda and other eatables. How to Reach? It is better to have a car or hire a vehicle when taking a trip to Amarkantak. If not then you can also find local autos who can ferry you to Kapil Dhara. Have a blast and keep travelling!

Shri Yantra Mandir - The Perfect Geometry

Shri Yantra Mandir - The Perfect Geometry

With every new sculpture or monument I come across, the feeling of pride that I belong to Bharat profounds. A yet another example of such a thing lies in our temple - once again! Welcome to Shri Yantra Mandir of Amarkantak, which is nothing but A Perfect Geometry. Surrounded by forests and a water reservoir, stands the Shree Yantra Mandir dedicated to Goddess Tripur Sundari (Beauty of the 3 worlds). The Mathematical Wonder of the Temple It is built on an elevated platform measuring 90,000 sq.ft. in the form of a mandal of uniform length, breadth and height - each measuring 52 sq.ft. The temple in the middle of the compound is unique as instead of a shikhara, it has the shape of Shri Yantra - It is formed by 9 interlocking isosceles triangles of varying dimensions that surround and radiate from a focal point - known as the Bindu. The triangles are so interfaced that they form 43 smaller triangles in a maze perfectly depicting the cosmos. Just below the triangles structure you can see two rows of lotus petals - 8 and 16 respectively. The temple has been built keeping in considerations of Vaastu Shastra. 'Dance of time' is displayed on the external walls. The 4 edges on the top have 4 paws of a powerful lion with spherical balls stuck in them. These spherical balls symbolise the life and death cycle of human beings and the way they are trapped in it. The circumference of the temple has the long snake that ultimately reaches the front of the temple and stand with its hood wide open. Notice the 4 faces above - These represent Goddesses Kali, Bhuvneshwari, Saraswati and Lakshmi. The lower part of the structure consists of the Yoginis - 16 on each side with Tantrik cults. How to Reach? Amarkantak is a 5 hour drive from Jabalpur and can be reached by car or public bus. The route and the roads are both fantastic and scenic. Here is a sneak peak of the same: If you visit this place, try to acknowledge and understand the intricacies behind this construction which will definitely make you feel proud of how ancient powerhouse we were once!

India's Grand Canyon - Raneh Falls

India's Grand Canyon - Raneh Falls

There is a reason why Madhya Pradesh is called the "Heart of India" because once you start exploring the city, you heart will stay here forever. One such moment is visiting the underrated and least known, Raneh Waterfalls, also called as the "Grand Canyon of India". If you are not aware, then Grand Canyon is in the Arizona, USA which is a river valley with grand rocks formed millions of years ago. A similar replica is in our MP and nowhere in the world. Thus the foreign tourists named it as the Mini Grand Canyon. Location and Features The Raneh Waterfalls is about 30 kms from Khajuraho and is a must visit for any traveller. The Ken river makes her way through these rock marvels. One can come directly to Khajuraho Airport or Mahoba railway station. Note: As I visited the place by my car, the charges for 4 wheeler is 600 + 100 mandatory guide fee. For 2 wheeler, the fee is 300+100 mandatory guide. These waterfalls with their jaw dropping beauty have five primary rocks that makes the canyon - Green Dolomite, Black Basalt, Brown Quartz, Red Jasper and pink granite. It is said that a volcanic eruption millions of years ago led to the formation of such rocks over a period of time. Some of the colours can be seen in the pic above. The depth of the canyon also varies greatly from as shallow as 5m to as deep as 60m. As you go along with the flow of the river, you can see the Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary (Alligators). If lucky, the Ghariyals can also be seen taking a sun bath on the rocks! However, it wasn't a lucky day for me in that sense :( The route to the grand canyon is also wonderful. You have to drive past the farms and then enter inside a forest area that leads up to the Raneh Falls. Covid times have led to even a further fall in the tourists and the place hence looks more serene. With no heads rolling nearby, one can feel the enormous nature and the insignificant role that we play in this beautiful world. Here is a sneak peak of the place: Does it excite you to explore more of Madhya Pradesh? I bet it will!

Pat Baba Mandir - The amazing story of Colonel Smith's dream and Gun Carriage Factory

Pat Baba Mandir - The amazing story of Colonel Smith's dream and Gun Carriage Factory

India is a land of mystery, mysteries that are beyond science and logic. Faith and Devotion is still beyond the realms of human imagination. Or else, how would you explain a situation like the establishment of Pat Baba Mandir in Jabalpur. Situated in Jabalpur, the Pat Baba Mandir devoted to Hanuman Ji has a fascinating story behind its establishment. When Lord Curzon was the Governor General of British India, he had given orders to Colonel Stanley Smith to establish a Gun and Carriage Factory in Jabalpur, MP. Colonel Smith, who took the project with great zeal and enthusiasm started the process of building it. But in due course of time, he found himself entangled in a strange situation. The walls of the factory was always found collapsed the next day when it was built. This repeated several times. He brought in the best architects present at that time to understand the root cause and what could be done to mitigate it, however, in vain. Frustrated with this uncanny situation, he once went to sleep early and had a dream. He saw that an ancient idol of Hanuman Ji was buried beneath the site of construction and Hanuman Ji himself showed up in his dreams and asked him to unearth it. Smith immediately got up and without wasting any time gathered a group of people. On digging for several days, the idol was finally found. Smith was amazed to see an ancient idol as he witnessed in his dreams. He carefully lifted the idol and wrapped it in a red cloth, traditionally known as "Pat". He immediately ordered to establish a temple devoting to Hanuman Ji with all the traditions and customs. And as you had guessed it right, there was no further problem of walls collapsing or any other hindrance in the construction of the temple. The temple is still there and visited by people every day, from the far corners of Jabalpur. Since my current location is Jabalpur, my family and I often make a visit to seek the blessings of Pat Baba Hanuman Ji. The temple is spread across a big place with trees in surroundings. The atmosphere and the aura of the temple is so serene that I bet you wont feel like leaving early. As it is located on a small hill in the outskirts of Jabalpur, the environment has a natural meditative energy. The temple also has idols of Durga Mata and Shiva. The story of the temple is also written at the entrance So next time you visit Jabalpur, do not miss a chance to visit Pat Baba and feel the importance of this sacred place. After all it still keeps an eye on the Gun Carriage Factory! Check out other places that can be seen in Jabalpur

Jatayu Earth Center, Kerala

Jatayu Earth Center, Kerala

Sculptures and statues are renowned and famed across the world. But I bet you wouldn't have seen anything finer than the Jatayu Bird Sculpture in any of the world's artificial fauna designs. The Jatayu Earth Center in Kollam district of Kerala is the finest example of an eco-friendly sculpting. The Design It boasts of staggering measurements - 200 ft long, 150 ft wide and 75 ft tall. This concrete structure is built in an area of 15,000 square feet and stands at an altitude of 1000 ft and is the Word's largest bird sculpture. The beauty of the design can be seen in its decorated and layered feathers, sharp beak and fearless eyes. Also to mention that the sculpture has been built in the most eco-friendly way without destroying the natural greenery around. It can be witnessed from the top. The Designer Sr. Rajiv Anchal, who is an Art Director as well as Film Director is the man behind this world famous sculpture. He is a specialist in sculpting from College of Fine Arts and is well recognised in the film fraternity with numerous awards and Oscar nominations in his kitty. It took him 10 years (from 2008-2018) to come up with this marvel. He was selected from an idea contest that was conducted by Kerala Govt. Story of Jatayu The Indian epic of Ramayana narrates the story of abduction of Sita, the wife of Lord Rama by the demon king Ravana. When Ravana kidnapped Sita and took her on his Pushpaka Vimana, he was met by Jatayu, a bird, who fearlessly fought with Ravana. But, Ravana with his sword cut one of Jatayu's wings due to which the wounded bird fell on the ground. Legends has it that the rock on which it fell is at the same place where this sculpture has been built. Sita had given Jatayu a boon that it will live until Lord Ram arrives so that it can tell the story of Sita's abduction. The rock on which Jatayu had fallen quenched it's thirst till Ram and Lakshman arrived and since then the pond near the rock has never been dry. One can see the footsteps of Ram on the temple premises. The story of Jatayu symbolises the fact that even a bird knows its duty to protect and safeguard women. Picture: Footprint of Lord Ram and the Temple How to Reach One can drive to the Jatayu Earth Center in Kollam from any nearby city. If you are coming from a different city, then fly to the nearest airport in Thiruvananthapuram from where a 3 hours drive will reach you to this fine art. Jatayu Earth Center is a unique experience with breathtaking views. The amazing roads that lead to this is a treat. No doubt you will not fall in love with this one! Here is the link to a Virtual Tour!

Aranmula Kannadi - World's Unique Mirror

Aranmula Kannadi - World's Unique Mirror

You may have heard of more popular phrases like World's tallest building, tallest statue, longest Pizza and so on, but, are you aware of a marvel that is only manufactured in India? Yes, we are talking about the mirror that reflects your truest self - The Aranmula Kannadi or Aranmula Mirror, the only mirror with the real image of yourself. Pic Credits: aranmulakannadi.net What is so special about the mirror? Unlike typical "Silvered" glass mirrors, the Aranmula Kannadi is a metal alloy mirror. This is also known as the first surface mirror as it eliminates secondary reflections and hence able to give a more realistic and true self image. The make of the mirror is a family secret kept by the craft God, Vishwakarma, who is considered as the master of architect as per Hindu beliefs. Metallurgists believe that the mirror is made of an alloy of copper and tin. The mirror is hand made and is one of the 8 auspicious items used in auspicious functions like marriage. It is patent protected and boasts of GI tag given by the Govt. of India. The mirror has great cultural and traditional values and brings good luck. Story behind it The origins of the mirror making are linked to the famous Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple in Kerala. It is believed that centuries ago, the Royal Chief brought 8 families who excelled in temple arts and crafts to Aranmula to work on the mirrors to be used in Parthasarathy temple. The British Museum also has one 45cm long Aranmula Kannadi. Uniqueness Apart from the fact that it is the only metal alloy mirror in the world that gives the real image, there is only 1 design of mirror in the whole world. So if you possess one, you will not find the same design anywhere else! Isn't that totally amazing! Where can you buy it and what is the price? You can purchase it online at https://aranmulakannadi.net It comes in various designs and prizes that can range starts from INR 2500. If you are in the town of Aranmula, do not forget to visit the Parthasarathy Temple and the holy river of Pamba. So the next time you consider gifting something precious to your near and dear ones, Aranmula Kannadi is the perfect option.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

You may have seen churches across the world with different styles and architecture, but they may not lie anywhere near to the exquisite Gothic style church of Sagrada Familia built by Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi is known to be the architect of Spain, or more precisely, architect of the Catalonia region. Construction Sagrada Familia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, started in construction in 1882 and was only 20% completed by 1926 when Gaudi died. He had devoted his entire life in this project and hence was buried inside the church's crypt. The construction came to a halt during Spanish Civil War and World War 2 and was restarted in 1950. Surprisingly, it is still under construction! Isn't it fascinating to know that a church is under construction since last almost 200 years! It is scheduled to be completed by 2026 which marks the centennial of Gaudi's death. Gaudi was known to dislike straight lines and it can be seen in his design for Sagrada as well. He gave swelling outlines to the tower that was inspired by the holy mountains of Montserrat, on the outskirts of Barcelona. Interestingly, in his lifetime, only the apse walls, crypt, one tower and one portal had been finished! He would have marvelled on his own creation had he been alive! It has 18 towers, each of which has a significance of its own. The tower dedicated to Jesus Christ is in the middle and has 4 towers representing the Gospel around it. The tower above the apse represents Virgin Mary. The remaining 12 towers represents 12 apostles who carried out Jesus' work. All the towers and the rest of the building make 3 facades: Nativity Facade - This is about Jesus' birth Passion Facade - About his suffering and death Glory Facade (under construction) - About his resurrection Inside Sagrada Familia The main feature inside are the coloured tainted glasses that allow the sunlight to peek through thereby detailing the finest of art. Have a look! Sagrada Familia is a unique Church, now Basilica, should be a must visit in your itinerary. The architecture of Antoni Gaudi will take you back to wonderland!

Temples for Duryodhana

Temples for Duryodhana

Did the title intrigue you? If you are a believer of Hinduism or are aware of the ancient epic of Mahabharata, you would certainly not associate Duryodhana to a God. But this is the beauty of India and Hinduism that you have acceptance of all beings in some culture or form. Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas and often remembered as the villain of the Mahabharata has two temples of his own - Kerala and Uttarakhand Malanada Duryodhana Temple - Kerala This temple is located in the Kollam district of Kerala. The striking feature of the temple is that it does not have any idol of Duryodhana, but only a platform. He is worshipped as "Malayappoopan". Interestingly, the temple also has deities of Karna, Shakuni, Dushala, Drona and Bheeshma. There is an amazing story behind the creation of this temple: It is said that when Duryodhana escaped from wax palace in search of the exiled Pandavas, he landed at this place tired and thirsty. An old lady and other people of the tribes served him water and food and took great care. After knowing that Duryodhana is a King, the tribes felt honoured that he accepted food from them and thereby held him in high regards. Duryodhana was happy with their gesture and prayed to Lord Shiva from a hill nearby. He prayed for the people's well-being. Eventually a temple was created for him and people started worshipping him as God. Instagram Pic Credits: poruvazhymalanadatemple Duryodhana Temple - Jakhol, Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand Uttarakhand is known as "Devbhoomi" (Land Of Gods) and it is surprising to know that this pious land has a temple dedicated to the chief antagonist of Mahabharata. The local historians believe that the deity is of Duryodhana, however, local villagers consider it as Lord Someshwara, a manifestation of Lord Shiva as over a period of time they have distanced themselves from the negative image of Duryodhana. During his quest for Pandavas in their exiled period, Duryodhana reached the Jausar Bawal region in the Garhwal Himalaya. He was so enthralled by the beauty of this land that he requested Lord Mahasu, the reigning God, to grant him some piece of land so that he can take care of the people. He was granted his will by the divine. About 13kms from there in Osla, a temple was built for him by the inhabitants of Saur. When Kauravas were defeated and Duryodhana was killed, his followers wept so profusely that a river was formed, named Tapas, which is today known as Tons river. The Sayanas and the the Bajgis of the Jausar-Bawal district, along with the chief priest, carry Duryodhana's idol from Jakhol village on the 21st of Ashada month (21st June to 21st July).The idol travels to Fitori village in Mori district, then to Kotegaon and Datmir. After 20 days the procession ends to Osla. On the 15th day of Pausha (December/Jan month), the idol is welcomed back at Jakhol with enthralling celebration with drums. Pic Credits: Times of India Would you like to visit these temples?