Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Yamunotri in Images

From Lakhamandal Temple at Jaunsar Village, we traveled to Yamunotri and halted at Janaki chatti. Chatti means a hill in Gadwali language. The road journey to Yamunotri via Barkot, Syana chatti, Rana chatti and Hanuman chatti etc. is quite exciting and adventurous one passing through narrow roads with steep turns. The road passes through thrilling and exhilarating locations offering picturesque surroundings with awesome Deodhar trees, shrubs, lush meadows and gushing cascades. You will find the entire beauty of Gadwal mountain ranges. Two eyes doesn't seem enough looking at those beautiful mountains and valleys of Gadwal Himalayan ranges. Eyes get tired of watching the beauty of those mountains but still can't resist from looking at them.

Janaki chatti is the last destination for a vehicle to halt for Yamunotri. It is 6 kilometers trek from here. We halted at a hotel in Janaki Chatti and trekked to Yamunotri the next morning.

The picture below is the temple you find at Janaki chatti at a very picturesque location.
You get ponies, horses, palkies and pitthoos (baskets) to climb up to Yamunotri. It is one of the difficult treks as the route is crowded with people walking, ponies, horses, palkies and pitthoos all walking on the same narrow path of 6 feet width both trekking up and down.

Yamunotri is the source or originating place of River Yamuna from the frozen lake of Ice and glacier named as Champasar glacier located at a height of 6,387 meters (20,955 feet) above sea level at Kalind mountain in Garwal Himalayan range. Approaching the originating point is highly difficult for pilgrims and hence the temple is located at the foothill of Bandar poonch (monkey's tail) mountain which is 3,235 meters (10,614 feet) above see level . Not sure why it is called bandar poonch.

Anyway, the pictures below are of the river Yamuna where the temple is built. The water is so pure and unbelievably freezing. It is the second largest river of India that doesn't directly reach the ocean. It passes through the Uttarakhand, Delhi and merges with river Ganga to reach the ocean at Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh where the Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years.
I had been to Allahabad as well. This very pure Yamuna becomes a sewerage canal after passing Delhi. It is very painful to see when the nature is destroyed by the man for his selfish goals. 
The picture below is the main temple of Goddess Yamuna. It is built by the Maharaja Pratap Singh of Tehri Gadwal. One of the highlights of Yamunotri is the hot water springs called Surya Kund.
I could not take enough pictures here due to unfavorable weather conditions. Ever since we landed in Janaki chatti it was raining. We started our trek in rain. The path was really dirty with horse dung spread all over due to rain, very skiddy and crowded path. The weather was really unpredictable. We experienced heavy rain in the morning, snow fall near Yamunotri on top of the hill, some hot Sun and even thick fog on return.

Here are a few pictures of the Himalayan Ranges near Yamunotri amidst different weather condition in few hours. 

The first three pictures were shot just before the rains. You can see the thick clouds surrounding the mountains.

Half an hour later the clouds disappeared and the sky is clear.

You see sky is getting foggy.
Pilgrims visiting Yamunotri and in fact the char-dham should go with some preparations. You need warm clothes, proper shoes, rain coat, torch light and even some basic pills for pain and fever. Never carry warm clothes from home as they are not going to sustain the temperature. You will find warmer clothes at very reasonable prices in this region itself. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lakhamandal in Images

As a part of our trip to char-dham, after Mussoorie we visited an ancient temple complex called Lakha Mandal at Jaunsar village of Dehradun district. It is located around 130 kilometers from Dehradun and 35 kilometers from Chakrata on the Mussoorie-Yamunotri road, past Kempty falls.

The shiv-lings emerged at every yard in the temple area when excavated by the archaeological survey of India. Villagers believe there are lakhs of lings underneath, hence the name lakha mandal.

The legend says, this is the same place where Duryodhana conspired to kill Pandavas by building a Lakshyagriha hence named Lakhamandal. There is a Pandav cave at the entrance of the village which is believed that Pandavas escaped from this cave. There are many other caves around the mountains of the village.

Now let me guide you through the Lakhamandal Temple with images.

This is the main temple situated amidst the beautiful mountains around. It is believed to be more than 2000 year old temple. The shiv-ling inside the sanctum sanctorum and other statues are quite older than the temple.


This is a beautiful image of the shiv-ling covered by sky and surrounded by mountains all around.

This graphite ling below is the center of attraction of this place. It reflects the surroundings very clearly on pouring water on it. 

I noticed this unique structure depicting a lotus flower in almost all the Shaivik temples in Uttarakhand. They are actually on the top of the pagoda.

A beautiful mount view.

The people of Jaunsar village are very hard working, innocent and kind. We met few people who were really touching and warm hearted. Some of the senior citizens having great time together.

And also the younger generation equally enjoying the music and nature.

This is another lovely friend I made here. He played with me for a very long time, followed me wherever I went.

I had hard time separating while leaving. This photo is by courtesy Viru Paksha Dani.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Rishikesh, Mussoorie and Haridwar

I heard many legends about "Rishikesh" since my childhood days. It is considered as Devi Bhoomi, the land of Gods and Tapo Bhoomi, the land of Penance. They say, many Gods lived here and great saints and sages did their tapas and attained enlightenment.

Finally, after a long wait of 40 years I got a chance to visit Rishikesh. I must thank my teacher Smt. Zarna Mohan for conducting an Iyengar yoga workshop at Rishikesh. And how can I forget Parmeshwar ji who is responsible for the yoga workshop and our char dham yatra. Thank you Parmeshji.

The major attraction of Rishikesh is off course the  sacred river Ganga. You will find many temples, yoga and Ayurveda centers and ashrams across the banks of river. It is considered as World Capital of Yoga as well.

I haven't found the Rishikesh I heard of. It is very much crowded now and many trees in the forests have been shaved off for construction of ashrams, hotels and other commercial establishments. But still I got connected to the place as Ganga is very much alive and actively flowing with all her vigor and vibrancy. 

What I loved was the streets and ghats of Rishikesh. Thankfully they haven't changed much in the name of development. This keeps the beauty of Rishikesh still alive. On the very first day, the streets caught my attention and I fell in love with them. Moving through the narrow streets makes you feel that you have come to one of the oldest cities of India which is mind blowing. 

Our stay in Rishikesh for about fortnight has left memorable experiences. Through this blog I am trying to share my experiences through photos I shot during my trip. Here they come:

So I will start with the place where I stayed in Rishikesh, the Swamy Dayanand Ashram established by none other than Swamy Dayananda Saraswati. It is a beautiful ashram established just at the banks of river Ganga. It is an unique center for studying Vedanta and Sanskrit.

The picture below is the residence of late Swamy Dayanada Saraswati.

This is the idol of Swamy Dayananda Saraswati established at his Samadhi. So lively isn't it?

This is the beautiful temple of Goddess Ganga at Dayanand Ashram.

Below are the beautiful pictures of the holy river Ganga flowing through the ghats of Swamy Dayananda Ashram during early hours of the morning.

Beautiful view of the students of Swamy Narayan Ashram and others participating the evening Aarti amidst bhajans.

This is the ISKON Temple at Rishikesh

The enchanting idols of Radha Krishna at ISKON

Equally enchanting idols or Balram, Subhadra and Krishna

These are some fabulous idols of Krishna-Arjuna and Hanuman at the ghats of Parmarth Niketan Ashram

This is the famous bridge called Ram Jhula at Rishikesh. Legends say that Ram and Lakshmana crossed this River during their search for Sita.

Below are the ruins of Mahesh Yogi Ashram also popularly known as Beatles Ashram. The famous music group Beatles composed their famous "the white album" here at this Ashram. Hence it got the name Beatles ashram.

The Ashram was closed for about three decades for reasons unknown.

The Ashram is now taken over by the Forest department of Uttarakhand and is now open to visitors.

This beautiful bell invites you to the wonderful Kunjapuri Devi Temple at an altitude of 1645 meters. It is a popular sight for viewing the beautiful sun-rise and sun-set in the region of Rishikesh. It is 15 kilometers from Rishikesh on the way to Gangotri.

This is the beautiful temple of Kunjapuri Devi Temple. It is one of the Shakti Peeths in Uttarkhand.

Found these beautiful ladies meditating or enjoying the sun-rise never known.

A beautiful view of the morning moon after sun-rise. It is really fascinated to view the sight of moon on mountains. It looks so close. Amazing.

The same moon view through the tall and lush green trees.

This is the very famous Vashishta Gufa. It is said that one of the sapta rishis Vasishta muni meditated in this cave. The quietness and stillness once you visit the caves is worth experiencing.

This is later developed in to an Ashram by Swamy Purushottamaand and is run by his followers now.

You find these rocks at the banks of River Ganga at Vashishta Ashram.

They look so lively as if they are speaking to you.

This beautiful rock formation is by my friend Virupaksha Dani. Looks Awesome, isn't it?

We had great time around this ashram in the banks of River Ganga. We spent the entire day playing on the rocks, sand and water around.

This little boat has become our prop. We spent lot of time playing with it and photographing.

The Sun is about to set in the west.

Look at the enchanting view of the sky due to setting sun and its reflexions on the mountains and water. Magnificent! Is it not?

The sun hid behind the sky leaving its impressions behind. 

This is the main market center of Mussoorie called Gandhi Chowk.

How can there be no Gandhi in Gandhi Chowk? Here is the beautiful statue of Gandhi.

This is the beautiful mountain view near Kempty falls, 13 kilometers from Chakrata road in Mussoorie.

This is the famous Kempty falls of Mussoorie. 

View of the Dehradoon valley from Mussoorie.

A Spectacular view of mountains and valleys from Mussoorie.

This is the famous Ganga Temple of Hardwar or Haridwar. Some call Hardwar while say Hari dwar. Asking the locals I found that Shivites call Hardwar the door of Shiva. Har means Shiva and dwar the doors. While Vaishnavites say Hari dwar the door of Vishnu. Hari means Vishnu. 

Large number of people gather at the ghats to view the evening Aarti of Ganga.

Here is the famous Aarti of Haridwar. I heard many stories about the great Aarti of Haridwar. On visiting I found nothing special except the crowd in large numbers attending the Aarti. If the Aarti becomes great by people attending in large numbers then I am sorry I am not going to vote for it. In fact I found the Swamy Narayan Ashram Aarti at Rishikesh by those little kids wonderful as they completely involve in Aarti without any publicity stunt.

I tried to bring an over view of my trip to Uttara khand through this blog. I hope you enjoy it. Keep watching the space for more updates.