Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rajasthan trip in bullet points

The trip to Rajasthan which we had so dearly anticipated for a couple of months now, finally happened and got over really soon. Though the trip looked really hectic on paper, fortunately we could cover all those places and enjoy the sightseeing. Thanks to the enthusiastic bunch of travelers.
We started from Pune and visited Mount Abu, Udaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar and Jaipur. Much to K2 and K3’s irritation, none of these places have any desert area and so the Rajasthan we visited, in a way was very different from what we saw in movies.
Mount Abu was cold and I wouldn’t have survived without the room heaters.

Mount Abu-
• A typical hill station
• A lovely 24 km drive from Abu Road
• Very cold
• Delwada jain temples – spectacular, jaw-dropping carvings
• Nakki lake – good time pass, fair like atmosphere surrounding the lake
• Tasty marwadi food

• Majestic fort at Kumbhalgarh-Maharana Pratap’s birthplace (we wasted a lot of time reaching there but the view of the fort was rewarding). Watched dance performances by Raja Radha Reddy and their troupe.
• Nathdwara-Lord Krishna’s temple- endearing idols of Shrinathji
• Udaipur City Palace- The abode of Mewad dynasty rulers for about 23 generations. Very beautiful mirror work and paintings done one on the palace walls.
The Mewad kings moved here from Chittor as they lost every battle fought from Chittor. The current Mewad king, Maharaja Arvindsinghji Mewad also stays in one portion of the palace.
• Moti magri- Maharana Pratap’s memorial
• Fateh sagar- one of the several lakes in and around Udaipur
• Jagdeesh temple- one of the oldest temples in North India.
• Sahelion ki badi – nothing much to write home except that it was built for the queen’s girl friends.
• Shilpgram- A 12 month fair where local craftsmen display and sell their fare. We had an unexpected treat awaiting us here- live performances by various folk artists from around the country at the Shilpgram annual festival– simply superb!

• The dargah of the world famous sufi saint, Garib Nawaz Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. Garib Nawaz is said to be very kind and is very popular among believers.

• Brahma temple - one of it’s kind in the world.
• Pushkar sarovar – the birthplace of goddess Gayatri. The kund is supposed to be since the Satyuga days.

• Very well planned city, especially the new part.
• Pink City- the old city is painted pink. There’s a law that fines anybody who paints the exterior of his house/shop in any color other than pink!
• Birla temple- Laxmi Narayan- out of this world experience. Must visit site.
• Jaipur City Palace- The Jaipur kings built this palace and moved here from Amer- the old capital city. It is the current abode of Maharaja Bhawani Singh.
• Jantar Mantar- awe inspiring gadgetry built by Jaisingh- the fist king of Jaipur, himself a well renowned astrologer. This is the biggest among the 5 built by Jaisingh.
• Amer fort- grand! Mansingh built this fort- painstaking attention to detail. Exquisite carvings, mirror work and paintings adorn the walls, floors and ceilings.
• Jaigarh fort – World’s biggest canon- the Jaivan is housed here.
• Jal Mahal
• Hawa Mahal – Built especially for the queens folk to watch the processions of the kings.

Ambaji temple (Rajasthan)
Mankambeshwar temple (Sirohi)- Saw peacocks, monkeys, parrots and mongoose! Any other animal and I would have freaked out.

Phew! Anything I have missed out here must be because of my occasional catnap!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Enough is enough

Seriously, seeing this "enough is enough against terror" caption against the backdrop of the burning dome of Taj Mahal Hotel with meaningless news reporting is enough. Enough of this inane blabbering!

It’s been three weeks since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Those 60 hours were the most harrowing for so many people. People whose loved ones were involved, people whose places to hang-out were burning and the majority of us for whom the idea of being safe in our homes was dead. When I am talking about myself I know I am talking about several thousand people like me who were scared, stunned, ashamed, angry and terrorized. The 60 hours have changed a lot of how we looked at several things. Enough of this mindless, barbaric terror!

I am deeply anguished by so many things, the callous politicians, their insensitive remarks, the immaturity of our media and the sorry state of our entire system. Ministers were sacked, but do we have good politicians to fill in these places? Each one makes the previous one look better. The statements they make on air are ridiculous and bile-rising. I cannot read newspapers or watch news channels these days without getting extremely angry first and then disturbed. How can a country of one billion be such a soft state? How dare terrorists come on our land and kill our brothers and sisters and get away with it. Or worse still get into the prisons where they are fed off tax-payer’s money. Enough of this anybody can come and kill Indians non-sense!

My heart goes to all victims of terror who left behind scarred families. I sincerely hope and earnestly pray that we do not lose the lesson and the memory of our fellow countrymen who lost their lives, the brave men and women who died protecting us. Enough of this losing precious lives..

We need something more and tangible than to hope and pray, I know. But right now I am still too numb to think.