Archives for posts with tag: travel

Connaught Place or “Rajiv Chowk” is a historical center of commerce in the bustling Indian Capital, Delhi.  Composed of Concentric Circles of historical buildings built with a Victorian sensibility that stand as a the residue of India’s British past, though the atmosphere of the place in undeniably Indian.  A nation where a populist unlicensed street vendors and elitist Gucci stores stand face-to-face.  Is uneven progress is better than no progress at all?  Like a party where the early birds get to eat the most….One nation ruled by the almighty  ladder…

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Twelve kilometers from the historical city of Ajmer, Rajasthan lies the holy Hindu lake of Pushkar.  According to legend, the Hindu creator god, Brahma, came down from the heavens to perform a yagna by the lake he’d created.  However, he could not complete the yagna without the presence of his wife, Sarasvati, and consequently Brahma chose the next-best option of getting another wife, Gayatri.  When an enraged Sarasvati found out, she placed a cursed on Brahma which stipulated that he could only be worshiped in Pushkar.  Hence, the only major temple devoted to Brahma in the world is situated in Pushkar and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flock to Pushkar to worship their cursed creator.

The modern Pushkar is now a holy tourist area.  Being a holy lake, there is no meat and not a drop of alcohol to be found anywhere in Pushkar (although smoking seems to lack the sacrilegious edge and thus not banned).  Pushkar is not only popular with internal tourists on pilgrimage but also with international tourists.  To take advantage of the economic advantage of being in the tourist map, Pushkar has certainly adapted as many hotels, restaurants (many with disastrously Indianised western food as I came to discover) and souvenir stores have mushroomed throughout the periphery of the lake.  Although India is an intimidatingly large country, Pushkar is comfortably small.  All major sites can be comfortably reached on foot and one does not to depend on tempos and taxis as they are an unnecessary luxury.

The holy lake, whose peculiar green color seems to indicate that it is a victim of significant pollution that comes along with urbanization and tourist trade, is surrounded by 52 historical ghats (steps leading to the lake).  Each ghat is dedicated to the historical kingdom that built it (Jaipur, Kot, Gurjar etc) or even people like Mahatma Gandhi or Queen Elizabeth II.   The Hindu tradition that lies at the heart of the pilgrimage involves parikrama  (walking around the lake or any other holy Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh place in a clockwise direction), bathing in the lake and pooja.

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Tal Talaiya is another watershed that has been converted into a popular picnic spot, much like Betana.  Located on the fringes of Itahari, the crossroads of Eastern Nepal as all roads lead to Itahari here in the East, it is the starting point if one wants to get anywhere in the East.

All Roads Lead to Itahari (from Google Maps)

Tal Talaiya has struck a chord with the locals, in a place where picnics and parties seem to be synonymous. During my visit to Tal Talaiya, it all looked and sounded like a big party with several loudspeakers playing loud Hindi music and people drinking and dancing. An entire ecosystem of hotels, restaurants and mini-grocery stores revolves around the subculture of partying on the territory of Mother Nature. In addition, Tal Talaiya itself has a wonderful ecosystem of its own, several species of birds and animals, which to be witnessed, will require one to divorce himself from the partyanimals at the heart of the Tal Talaiya and makes his way into the wild.

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Tal Talaiya Ennui

Modernity Encroaches

Modernity Encroaches

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A Foggy Evening at Tal Talaiya

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A Local Hotel/Restaurant with an Amusing Premise

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Just Another Sunset at Tal Talaiya

On the banks of the Yamuna River at Vrindavan, old, dilapidated pieces of history stand today at the three Ghats, or a series of steps leading to the water level of a river, which are namely Arati Ghat, Akura Ghat, and the famous Kesi Ghat.  This Ghat is famous throughout India as it is believed to be the place around which Lord Krishna spent his childhood.

Small Boats wait for a Repair job on the North bank of Yamuna river at Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Pedestrian Bridge under-construction over the Yamuna Bridge near Kesi Ghat

Pannas and Sadhus congregate at Kesi Ghat

A Medevial Building on Akura Ghat

An Archway at Akura Ghat

A Sadhu Rests underneath an Arch at Kesi Ghat

Another Sadhu Walks towards Kesi Ghat from Akura Ghat

Kesi Ghat with the Famous Kadam Tree on the Background

A Push Cart Stands besides a Small Resting House at Kesi Ghat

Rhesus Monkeys Enjoying Bananas Offered by Pilgrims at Akura Ghat

A Watch Tower that Looks Out at the Yamuna River at Kesi Ghat