Incredible India.... Samudra Manthan..The Churning of the Elixir of Life (Amrita) by Gods & Demons !
"He asked..what is your ruling planet?
He said....Timeless Beauty.
I asked....Did Venus achieve that?
He said....No. Venus breathed Life, Love and Youth in every Adonis around her, in all the seasons of the Earth. !!"
**Incredible India too, will give you the Elixir of life, where every season will touch you with its own moments of immortality and color.
Monsoon.. An Incredible India...There are many reasons why the monsoon is my favourite season. The early showers touching the parched earth..first rajnigandha blooms..the soul touching melody of Miya Malhar..my wedding ....
Agra.. the beauty of a rain washed Taj Mahal is incomparable ! As children I remember waiting for the rains to come so that we could run barefoot without getting our feet burnt, to tie wishing threads on the lattice windows of the revered Salim Chisti Dargah in Fatehpur Sikri.
Lucknow.. unforgettable for the laughter of young belles on swings, kissing the winds on mango laden branches. The nostalgia of learning 'kathak'(classical dance), classical music accompanied by the music of Harivansh Bacchan's 'Madhushala', velvet evenings with ladies in starched chiken kurta's and mouth melting kebabs still lingers.
Amritsar.. Golden Temple, ethereal in its beauty with shimmering raindrops on it, moustaches and broad chested chivalry, sounds of earthy Bhangara beats with the smell of fresh hay, green harvests and hot tandoori roti's with melting butter will always be irreplacable in my mind.
Ladakh.. with passes, opening slowly with the monsoon showers, this barren cold terrain becomes alive with the 'Hemis Festival', tourists and chanting monks, the unveiling of the giant thangka with ritualistic tibetan monastic dances and opera, all add up to a cultural bonanza celebrating Buddhism.
Autumn..An Incredible India... Auburn dusky evenings with the first fall of leaves...
Rajasthan..My first memories of Rajasthan, this desert land are mingled with the all pervading incense of scattered rose leaves on the sacred shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty in the picturesque town of Ajmer, which as a child I visited many times,..Jaipur..Udaipur..Jodhpur..,eyes falling heavy with sleep,listening to legends of Rajpur valour, the beauty of Maharani Padmini, devotional lyrics of Meerabai...magic and mystery in the Land of the roaming 'Banjaras'(Gypsies)! Alwar town, with its beautiful Siliserha & Jaisamand lakes colored with the rusty tales of the deserts dacoits (pirates), fascinating and vivid in my mind, along with the first thrill of sitting on a camel back in Incredible India!
Kinnaur/Lahaul/Spiti Valleys..Awe inspiring and wild !!...This is the only way I can describe the rugged romance of this desolate cold desert, magnificent with glaciers, rocks, meditation caves, ancient routes and surrounded by the snow-capped peaks. With the one thousand year old 'Tabo Monastery', Nako Lake..this valley "stands still in time !".. untouched in its aloofness and pristine in its Himalayan height!
Mathura/Vrindavan..School excursions from Agra just 37 Kms away, the Ghats of Yamuna River flowing through the sleepy town of Mathura, alive with romantic tales of 'Radhe-Krishna'.. the mistletoe mischief of Lord Krishna with the 'Gopis'(milkmaids) and the cowherds. As a teenager, we argued on the spirituality of love, while gazing in awe at the thronging foreigners, humming 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna', each seeking their own 'Nirwana' - spiritual bliss !..... Incredible India!
Madurai/Kodaikanal..I do not remember whether it was in my dream or an oracle vision, that I saw this beautiful stone carved Temple of Meenakshi Devi in Incredible India, (Madurai),the former capital of the chivalrous Chola Dynasty and the Pandhyas. The town is also known as the 'Athens of the East', for the grand architectural structures that dot the city. I saw this temple with its museum of a thousand pillars and Elephants blessing you, while my son was studying in Madurai. I felt I had seen it before..it did not matter, for its first sight will always stay embedded in my heart.
Just 35 Kms away is the Hill weekend getaway...'Kodaikanal', with its beautiful greenery and the lake to hang around. Students love this quiet retreat..a hide-out to discover !!
Winter..An Incredible India...SURYA NAMASKAR ! Sunrise across the Holy Ganges, first rays kissing the snow peaks of the Himalayas and the warmth of the winter sunshine, casting dancing noon shadows, in the thick forests of Incredible INDIA..
Kullu/Manali..White Christmas in Solang Valley of Manali which we spent with our Swiss friend, Frederick was one of the most enjoyable break for the whole family. For my daughter it was the first time to see snow..and play with snow-balls and snowman ! For my son it was the ski-board which excited him along with Frederick. The evenings..warmth of a wooden cabin, fire place,snowflakes on the windows and champagne for the New Year with Roast Turkey, was a treat to remember !!
Dalhousie/Chamba..The green pastoral meadows of Khajjiar..the Mini-Swiss of the World reminds me always of the nomadic 'Gaddi' tribe with their sheeps, their smiles..the wildlife undisturbed by man and the unique Temple shrines just across the healing waters of River Ravi. This was Sobha Singh's painting ..come alive, truelly a dale of beautiful maidens, milk and honey !!
Dudhwa National Park..The sounds and sights of the wild on an early winter morning are impossible to forget, in the border of Uttra Pradesh and Nepal. I do not know what was more exciting, the thrill of waiting on a 'Machan' (Tree-house) with blankets wrapped around waiting..waiting & waiting for the Royal cat to appear..or just patting and feeding the hungry baby elephant !
Haridwar/Rishikesh..The Yoga Capital of the world, a health tradition of the Himalayas..watching the sunrise over the Holy Ganges..on a early morning boat ride and the evening at the Ghats, to witness the sacred Ganga Aarti ceremony..a truelly spiritual experience in the hills of the sadhus and yogis !!
Spring..An Incredible India..Song of the Birds, Aromatic Spring blooms in the air, Dance of the butterflies,gushing clear water springs, lilting song & dance of Raag 'Bahar' and courting young hearts herald the New Year celebrations !
Dharamsala..The Spiritual Capital of the World ! Abode of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. My first consciousness towards saving the green earth of the Sacred Himalayas was born here. The Energy of the Four 'Shakti Peeths'(Energy Zones) and chosen 'samadhi' of renowned Gita exponent, Swami Chinamaya 'Tapovan'. A journney for the Soul !!In Incredible INDIA ..discover Dharamsala..Click HERE !!
Khajuraho..A journey exploring the divine spirituality of the Act of Creation..in perfect Harmony of the Body, Mind & Soul. This part of Central India, in Madhya Pradesh truely, brings 'alive' all that is Incredible in these sculptured frescoes, depicting the Art of 'Kama-Sutra' in a state of absolute bliss, 'Nirwana' !!
Varanasi..Experience the cleansing purity of the Ganges in the Ancient Kashi city...wisdom at Sarnath where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon...Ancient traditions in the exquisite embroidery of 'benaresi sarees', the echoes of classical 'ragas' and a soul touching sun-set boat ride on the sacred Ganges..to end the day !!
Kerala..The South India flavours the beautiful boat rides on the backwaters..green canals..a tropical paradise..herbal plants, ayurveda treatments, rejuvenating music, culture and food to revive the senses of the Body, Mind & Soul !!
Summer..An Incredible India..Starry nights, Full Moon and the gentle cool breeze of the North to cajole the Summer heat away...smell of 'khas-khas', in sweltering heat and chilled salt-sprayed baby cucumbers on the roads,..Savour the essence of an Indian Summer !!
Delhi..Graduation days are great ! Every season is greeted by a new wardrobe which is an important aspect at that moment of life. In the Capital city of Incredible India, the streets of Janpath market, hums with activities of buying,selling and bargaining for exclusive cottons at throw-away prices. The old 'Chandini Chowk' bazaar, is a 'must see' for any traveller seeking the flavours of traditional India..with all its vibrant colors. There is much to discover in this beautiful fusion of old and new..!!
Shimla..Come Summer..its Holiday time in the Queen of the Hills. An old British getaway..the nostalgia can be enjoyed at the 'scandal point' famous for the dashing Maharaja of Patiala's passionate romance with the married daughter of the British Commander-in chief. When exiled, he created a new capital for her in the serene hills of Chail !!
Hampi..The ruins of Hampi, believed to be the mythical monkey kingdom of 'Kishkinda' and the old city of 'Dholavira', a slice of 'Ancient India', in the backdrops of green platations and mouth watering coconut fish curry. Karnataka state with its virgin beaches, carved granite temples, cultural heritage and the famous 'silicon city' of modern times will fascinate you...!!
Goa..Old Goa, a few unexplored virgin beaches along with the 40's music, old churches of portuguese origin all combine to make Goa a unique experience...What I could not believe was an old restaurant still serving traditional'tongue' ( European dish ) and authenic 'pork vindaloo'! Old or young, Goa will always cater, to all its travellers, by providing them with their own discoveries of Incredible INDIA...!!
There would be no pen in the world which could do justice to the experience of 'Incredible India'...an all season toast to some of the places which are not mentioned here.
" Winter !.. A heady mix of snowflakes and sunshine, Summer !.. Playful summer breeze to cool your day, Autumn.. ! Will bring hope with the fall of leaves and in Spring.. ! Just follow the dance of the butterflies !!..."
For more on Incredible India Miniguide...Click here
An Indian Journey !
The many faces of Incredible India !
Nirvana chants in India !
Tales of Wisdom and Jungle Legends..!