Tag Archives: Buddhism

Exploring Himalayan Valleys

It’s been more than a month since I already returned from the vacation, but this summer reminds me to write and ruminate about it!

Yes, already excited since planned. The journey began from Chandigarh, a shared capital of Punjab and Haryana, 2 neighboring states. We reached Chandigarh on 28th March, 2010 morning.

Plan was to catch booked taxi and have a quick city tour of Chandigarh. But the taxi operator had some problems with the reserved taxi and driver. Also he could not manage for alternate.
With another contact of my uncle, somehow managed to get another taxi, fortunately, with that delay we could adjust the schedule to reach Mandi, by skipping Chandigarh sight seeing!

We reached Mandi, a pre destination place for halt on 28th late evening. Almost everybody was tired.

We again started for Manali on 29th morning. On the way to Manali, we found one of the best utility of gravitation force, an automated ropeway to transfer goods – between higher peak to lower peak in diagonal distance!

Automated Ropeway 1

Automated Ropeway 1

Automated Ropeway 2

Automated Ropeway 2

Idea was simply good. Use of 2 trolleys, one for carrying goods, another (with heavier water containers) for pulling goods to upper side!
Passing appx. 5 KM long tunnel and beautiful mountain ranges, we were following Beas river almost throughout route.

Tunnel

Beas River

Beas River

Rope Bridge on Beas River

Rope Bridge on Beas River

During this, I realized the value of rope, especially in mountaineering. Be it making a bridge or transfer of goods, ropes make these things dynamic!

View from Hotel @ Manali

View from Hotel @ Manali

We touched Manali by evening; found and finalized stay at a hotel, little away from main city and market, but closer to nature, a very peaceful area.

Hidimba Temple

Hidimba Temple

The next day we visited Hidimba Temple. The design was very different, had a touch of Mongolian building style.

Apart from this, its an historical place. The building design was different from what I had seen so far, it was constructed with both stones and wooden slabs as packing. Possibly this combination is an invention to protect against earthquake shocks and frequently changing weather.

Yak, near Hidimba Temple, Manali

Yak, near Hidimba Temple, Manali

I saw ‘live – moving’ yak, for the first time in my life!

The owner asked for Rs. 50 for taking photo, after it was captured!!! The owner should not keep his yak in public then!!!! 😀

Evening @ Manali Market

Evening @ Manali Market

Manali was beggar free, one good point especially being a tourist place.

Way to Rohtang Pass

Way to Rohtang Pass

Snow fall @ Rohtang Pass

Snow fall @ Rohtang Pass

Snowsuit

Snowsuit

Get ready to ski

Get ready to ski

Bhojpatra

Bhojpatra

On 30th March early morning started for Rohtang Pass, probably most exciting, adventurous and beautiful place.

Rain wear was available on rent on the way to Rohtang Pass. Gum boots and snow resistant suit made all look fatty. I made some attempts to learn skiing, but low air pressure and suddenly started snow fall stopped me for more attempts. But experience and feeling being under snow fall was amazing!

The icy hills are best condition for Bhojapatra – an ancient white tree to grow self. These trees’ skin was used to write notes in old days.

My evening was bit boring as elders were busy shopping in Manali market. I passed time by updating through tweets.

The financial year may although passed with a tag like ‘recession’, but end was definitely going to override such tags as I was enjoying vacation at heavenly places.

On financial year end day, we visited Naggar, a nearby place to Manali. It has renovated and hotel turned castle. Although castle is not gigantic viz campus, the structure and design is perhaps unique.

Naggar Castle 1

Naggar Castle 1

Naggar Castle 2

Naggar Castle 2

Naggar Castle 3

Naggar Castle 3

Naggar Castle 4

Naggar Castle 4

Next visit was a Buddha Monastery and Manikaran, a holy place for the Sikhs, situated on the banks of river Parvati.

Buddha Monastery 1

Buddha Monastery 1

Buddha Monastery 2

Buddha Monastery 2

Buddha Monastery 3

Buddha Monastery 3

Buddha Monastery 4

Buddha Monastery 4

Manikaran

Manikaran Gurudwara

Rafting in Beas 1

Rafting in Beas 1

Rafting in Beas 2

Rafting in Beas 2

By evening, shopping of shawls from Factory outlets in Kullu highway was finished. Thereafter I enjoyed water rafting in Beas river with my daddy and rafting crews!

For safety measure, the authority was running a parallel raft boat with ours! This was probably next major adventurous and exciting experience for me, next to Rohtang.

On fools day, morning we left Manali and started for Dharmashala, another place with scenic beauty and closest place to headquarter of the Lamas. Highway was beautiful as Tea gardens passed by.

We settled at a hotel in Dharmashala by evening.

On 2nd April only plan was to visit McLeod Ganj, the most important and famous place, especially for Buddhist. This place in fact was giving essence like a capital of Tibet, too many Tibetians and foreigners.

McLeod Ganj 1

McLeod Ganj 1

McLeod Ganj 2

McLeod Ganj 2

McLeod Ganj 3

McLeod Ganj 3

McLeod Ganj 4

McLeod Ganj 4

3rd April was driving us towards end of vacation. We reached Pathankot railway station to catch train for return journey, by noon.

Visit to such places definitely expects good driving skills for any vehicle owner. The only thing we could not enjoy much is food, either traditional food in Himachal Pradesh consists more of non veg or that food is not much in focus. The only served Punjabi dishes, that we ate, were also not always satisfactory. But we did not go to such places to have food, so was ok to compromise at.

We had Ramesh & Bharati Dave, a known couple in Gujarati literature, with us, during the trip. To us, they are living encyclopedia of trees and flowers. Having them with us was another angle of fun and chance to grab some knowledge about nature! Sapling and shawls were the only shopping that they did!

Photos of trip are available at here, credit goes to my dad, brother and me! 🙂

A journey from the land of Mahatma in 20th Century to the land of Mahatma in 18th Century

Saint Mahavir & follower saints of 18th century were born in Bihar of today and M.K. Gandhi born in Gujarat of today! We discovered few places during our journey from far West in India to far East of India – from Ahmedabad Junction to Durg (and further) Junction!

Durg in Chhattisgarh was a main station from where eastern journey began.

Nagpuraa a.k.a. Uvasaggaram is a holy place, 18 KM away from Durg – is famous for typical footprints of Lord Parshwanath.

Maadhupur Junction, a station of Bihar state is connected by train to Durg. Riju Vatika is a next place in the journey – is a place where Lord Mahavira did penance, is little away from Maadhupur.

Shikharji a.k.a. Madhuban is just 15 to 20 KMs away from Riju Vatika. This is a major landmark in the journey.
This is the most important temple for the Jains. Unfortunately the overall architecture of buildings at the base – Madhuban jain campus started giving glimpses of peaks!

The very next day – from the day we reached there, we started walking on the mountain range in early morning.

The climbing cum walking cum rolling – whatever you call was a real challenge. It’s great that we all (except my mom!) reached on our (own) feet to major peaks – Gautam Swaami’s peak, Jal Mandir, Paarasnaath’s peak.

Climbers - "Mountaineering"

Climbers -

Of course, we did not go up to last peak which is the toughest of all, and is risky.

Generally, as per the tradition, a peak on the mountain range is famous for one or other saint – living ascetic life. I was expecting quite quiet and cleanliness as per Jainism. The lack of management (actually some dispute between the Shwetambars, the Digambars & the Government as inactively-acting management authority) totally disappointed me. Even there was no place to sit a side due to heavy rush of a pilgrims, forget cleanliness!

The distance is as under:
From base to Jal Mandir – appx. 9 KMs
From Jal Mandir to Paarasnaath’s peak – appx. 3 KMs
From Parasnath’s peak to base – appx. 12 KMs

Hats off to those local laborers pulling Dolis.
A funny talk that we listen during this pilgrimage – if a Doli is pulled with 2 bamboos, it is called as 4 wheeler, since 4 persons required and if is pulled with single bamboo stick, it’s 2 wheeler!!!!

4 Wheeler Doli

4 Wheeler Doli

Bhaagalpur was a town next in the journey. Roads up to the station were giving us feelings as if they were built in 20th century – or never built!

Champaapuri next to Bhaagalpur is known for another Jain temple.

Lachchhavaad, one of tribal villages of Bihar has another Jain temple. Next, was Guniyaaji a.k.a. Nawaadaa – again a Jain temple.

Paavaapuri was another famous place in our route. Of course, I had been to replica of Paawaapuri in Rajasthan before this. So I did not find it much pleasant!! However, compared to most of previous stations, it was like a modern town for us!! There, situated few places important in Jianism.

Next, in sequence was a worldwide famous – a historic place, I was much awaiting for. It was Naalandaa. The meaning is ‘the one gives knowledge, a university’. It means in Sanskrit – Naalam (lotus, a symbol of knowledge) + Daa, to give. What a great meaning it carries!
It is famous for dilapidated building of the ancient university and Buddhist statues. The university was built thrice in 3 centuries, according to the guides. And of course, as it happened in Indian history, later destroyed. The site presently available for visitors is the result of a lot of minute digging work, which has been carried out since a long.

Nalanda

Nalanda

It was quiet funny, to observe that this historic place was much developed if we compare ratio of Bihar’s overall development v/s Naalandaa. The hidden reason is that the site is developed and maintained by Archaeological Survey of India, Indian Government!
In short, few points about this knowledge city in ancient times really impressed – what a rich knowledge Indian carries since past. A sentence that I heard (since it’s hard to believe) was that, when the university was destroyed, the books (of course, typical hand-written notes in that time) were burning for six months!
The museum is also very good.

Last destination of journey was Raajgir a.k.a. Raajgruhi. It appeared quiet congested because of heavy rush of pilgrims.

We boarded train for return journey from Kodarmaa a.k.a. Jhumri-Telaiyaa, Telaiyaa from Jharkhand.

Food:

Litti-Chauka – a mixture, a traditional and healthy food.

Litti-Chauka – a mixture, a traditional and healthy food.

Sattu Paraathaa, made from Sattu

Sattu Paraathaa, made from Sattu

Litti

Litti

Orange

Orange

Yes, it’s orange left side and lump of pulp orange!

I also agree that roots of Jainism and Buddhism are similar. Philosophy of both are driving to similar way, perhaps in different fashion.

In short the journey was good as we did not need to fight any major difficulties.
The lifestyle of Bihari villagers taught me why they can fit to any place in India – whether its Mumbai or Surat! Worst style of living in Mumbai Chalis / huts may be better (and perhaps luxurious, too) then Bihari villager’s normal living. Plus, there isn’t any significant development in almost any area (except politics!!) in Bihar. So educated people from Bihar do not stay or settle at their hometown – and they prefer to move to developing cities / towns. The only developed occupation is labor – be it pulling Dolis or any contract based work!
Also, quality of internal roads in Bihar is quite bad – rather there were no roads! In short, all above is the result of lack of development – interest for development.

A tribal village & hut

A tribal village & hut

Another hut

Another hut

Another important requirement for development – electricity has not reached many villages, yet. Or at most places, it’s very less as compared to consumptions. So load shedding is there almost everywhere!

Jharkhand, a departed state from Bihar found to be little developed then Bihar. Quality of road was better then of Bihar!

A general opinion that we heard during return journey from Bihar was quiet amazing – any train originating / passing through Bhiar always gets late – due to chain pulling and feeling like home of Railway Department!!!

I strongly favor for implementing DST – Daylight Saving Time. The approximate difference between West and East India is 1 hour & 30 minutes, which costs a lot to the nation.

I am sorry if I discouraged you since I haven’t written much details related to places and Jainism.

More photos are here
If you liked photos, congratulate my dad, not me!!!!

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