Tuesday, January 11

Food on our mind . Tidbits

Our Favourite "BUN TIKKI"(..another word for a Burger ) snack halt on way to Nainital.

Pine wood all around...open plan kitchen..and a wooden floor
Friend's place in Nainital Distt.

Tea time, sandwiches...amid bird calls and cool mountain air.

After breakfast on the lawns of a hotel in Udaipur

Mirror work, fresh leaves adorn this sofa in the restaurant of the resort in the Runn of Kutch.
Morning at Narkanda
The Shivalik range in the background

Garden fresh Galgal for home-made pickle
Khopa Village, Distt. Nainital.

Pizzeria, Marine Drive, Bombay

Restaurant in the middle of the sea !
Actually , in knee deep water.
Tarkarli, Konkan coast,  Maharashtra.

Manchav Soup...
Minnistoni Soup....
And it would be a crime not to savour the CRIME OF TOMATO SOUP.
Good Luck !

Chopsi and Sizzlaar at your service.

Apples at the Lakeside View Resort at Narkanda.

Morning tea at Narkanda

Sun burnt and hungry--at Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh.

This family gifted us fresh pears and apples.
Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh .

Lake View Resort, Narkanda. Family owned and run place, with some real nice, fresh home made food.

Hot Thupka, Momos and Noodles being awaited. Small, clean, cozy little 5 table room/restaurant in Kalpa.

Hmm.. Paronda and Poeedige sound nice in the cold, cold weather of  Tabo, Spiti.

This little German Bakery at the TABO Monastery -- run by a local Buddhist chap, had the yummiest Chocolate cake wedges. And Apple Pie..and more chocolate delicacies..and still more chocolate...
Spiti Valley.

Time for a Walnut munching session during a trek at Kalpa.

The self proffessed 'Golu monk' (Golu as in chubby ! He said he used to be quite plump as a kid and all the kids in the village used to lovingly call him Golu ) at the Komick Monastery made us tea, with Yak milk, and lots of love, in his warm, cozy little room.
Komick happens to be the highest inhabited village in the world. Bordering Tibet.

The GOLU Monk at Komick Monastery .
He also gifted us an amonnite fossil.
Probably serving as a Hostel Warden in Delhi now.




                                                           In Ahmedabad, Gujarat.


Tropic of Cancer is PASSING from here :P

Around 100 Kms from Ahmedabad, towards Jaipur


                                                                        Ladakh                               And we went to or through most of  these places. Including ZING ZING BAR !


One of the coldest parts of the journey to Ladakh. Just two three dhabas/ road-side restaurants here.
Momos, tea, biscuits and omlettes..... and food, if ordered an hour in advance. Adventurous  bikes stop here for night halts on their way to or from Leh. All non-veg food is Mutton based. Poultry doesn't survive at this altitude !


                               The Baralacha La. Pass at 16500 Ft above sea level. Freezing  cold !


                                          Kashmir begins here.. from the Manali- Leh Road side.




These loops used to be notorious for their danger. Steep climb and continous twists and turns made it difficult for drivers and passengers . When we went up these loops, we did not experience much discomfort , though the sudden ascent in altitude takes you by surprise !


                               Army stationed at one of the most difficult terrain in the country .

Pumpernicle German Bakery .ITALIAN, CHINESE and CONTINENTAL
Specialize in Tofu Foods
                                                       ((In  LEH BAZAAR !! ))


Almost Home.......


                                                                      Go Slow !
                                                                    In  Maharashtra.

                                            Attari post, Wagah Border, Near Amritsar.


                                                    Sardar Ji ka FAMOUS Murge ka Achaar !!!!
                                                     On way to Nainital. Photo by Himangshu .


                                                          Driving through Spiti Valley .


                      A well preserved Mummy of a Lama lies in a little village in Spiti. Village named Giu . The Mummy was unearthed..literally..after some tremors shook loose the earth around very old Stupas.
The Mummy is still in perfect condition, without the help of any chemicals or other techniques.


                                                                          KA village :)
                                                                          Spiti Valley

Thursday, October 21

Photo Gallery . Images from around India .

Some memorable images from our holidays across the land .

Wednesday, October 20

Somnath Temple, Gujarat

Photo 1
This Image taken from the Official website of the Somnath Temple.

{{All photographs used on this blog, in all postings, are our own, unless mentioned otherwise.}}

I had read so much about the Somnath Temple in my school history books that the idea of actually visiting the place was a huge thing for me. Somnath is THE place for you to visit if you believe in Jyotirlings ..or even if you don't !
 It is considered the most sacred of the 12 Jyotirlings.

From WIKI :-The Somnath Temple is located in thePrhabas Kshetra  near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat. It  is the most sacred of the twelve Jyotirling . Somnath means "The Protector of (the) Moon God". The Somnath Temple is known as "the Shrine Eternal", having been destroyed six times and rebuilt six times. [Some say, 7 times.]

Bhoomi-Khana for the Garbha-Grih was performed by Shri U.N. Dhebar on April 8, 1950 and Maharaja Jamsaheb Digwijay Singhji laid the foundation stone on May 8, 1950. The Linga Pratishtha ceremony was performed by the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad on May 11, 1951. On December 1, 1995 the President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, performed the Kalash Pratishtha of the temple's Nritya Mandap and dedicated the temple to the nation.

The following extract is from “Wonders of Things Created, and marvels of Things Existing” by Asaru-L- Bilad, a 13th century Arab geographer. It contains the following description of Somnath temple and its destruction: The following is a long quotation:

“Somnath: celebrated city of India, situated on the shore of the sea, and washed by its waves. Among the wonders of that place was the temple in which was placed the idol called Somnath. This idol was in the middle of the temple without anything to support it from below, or to suspend it from above. It was held in the highest honor among the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck with amazement, whether he was a Musulman or an infidel. The Hindus used to go on pilgrimage to it whenever there was an eclipse of the moon, and would then assemble there to the number of more than a hundred thousand."
Tomb of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, in 1839-40, showing original Sandalwood Doors at Somnath, which he destroyed in ca 1024“When the Sultan Yaminu-d Daula Mahmud Bin Subuktigin went to wage religious war against India, he made great efforts to capture and destroy Somnat, in the hope that the Hindus would then become Muhammadans. As a result thousands of Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam. He arrived there in the middle of Zi-l k’ada, 416 A.H. (December, 1025 A.D.). “The king looked upon the idol with wonder, and gave orders for the seizing of the spoil, and the appropriation of the treasures. There were many idols of gold and silver and vessels set with jewels, all of which had been sent there by the greatest personages in India. The value of the things found in the temples of the idols exceeded twenty thousand dinars."
File:Ruins somnath temple.jpg
 According to the legends, Soma, or the Moon God built the temple in gold, Ravana in silver, and Shri Krishna in wood. Soma being arrogant about his beauty, was cursed by his father-in-law Daksha  to wane. He then build the Somnath temple at the Prabhas tirth and prayed to Lord Shiva, who removed the curse partially, thus causing the periodic waning of moon.

Somnath Temple in 1869
[["The Somanatha Temple from the west, Somnath (Prabhas Patan)." Photograph of the Somanatha Temple at Somnath, Prabhas Patan, in Gujarat, from the west, from the Archaeological Survey of India, taken by D.H. Sykes in c.1869.]

And Somnath Now.....

This temple was cnstructed by Queen Ahalayabai of Indore in 1783 AD,
right across the original structure, which at that time was being used as
a mosque after the number of invasions from various sides.

The history of Somnath takes on a very different tone when you are standing in the complex, hearing the bells ring, the Mantras being chanted all around...its difficult to imagine that this temple has been destroyed and rebuilt 6 times. You feel the brush of history sweep over you as you take in the old and new co-existing here. The temple built by Queen  Ahalayabai Holkar , queen of the Indore,in 1783 AD  and the new complex which was started on May 11 1951 by the then President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

Our children outside the Temple, just before the evening Aarti.
  The temple is surrounded by Arabian Sea on one side. Waves wash up on the southern side of the complex all day and night, creating a rhythm of time, life, and continuity. The early morning Aarti is so soothing...  Once the Aarti is over, one gets treated to lovely melodious bhajans over the audio system.

Early morning at the temple.
People walk around the lawns, or just sit watching the sea break its waves along the beach...or simply peer into the direction of the Baan -Sthambh, or Arrow Pillar. This pillar has an arrow pointing towards the South Pole.
From Wiki :- The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in straight-line between Somnath seashore till Antarctica, such an inscription in Sanskrit is found on the Arrow-Pillar called Baan-Stambh erected on the sea-protection wall at the Somnath Temple. This Baan-Stambh mentions that it stands at a point on the Indian landmass, which happens to be the first point on land in the north to the south-pole on that particular longitude.

You can find all the historical and religious information about Somnath  here. And here.
I realised that my visit was more meaningful to me with a little prior information . Helps to appreciate one's culture, religion, and the enduring quality of certain themes in our lives.

There is tight security inside and around the Temple complex. As with all religious places nowadays, one is not allowed to carry cameras or mobile phones inside the main temple. Leather belts, wallets etc . are also deposited in the lockers available just a few metres near the temple.
The ubiquitous pigeons are everywhere and people feed them Bajra seeds bought from little children around the temple complex. As the sun begins to set,  the outline of the Somnath temple against that pink -peach sky blends into a magical image, with  the red flag at the top of the spire over the sanctum sanctorum fluttering in the sea breeze. As lights come on and sounds of the Aarti begin floating in the evening air, mingled with the fragrance of incence sticks left burning near the entrance steps, one cannot but help feel the pull towards a Higher Source that connects us all .

A sign board at the checking point says, ' Disrespectful clothes , improper dress' with drawings of men in shorts and ladies in skirts crossed out in red! There were also images of men in trousers and ladies in saris/suits TICK marked ! Well, ahem, we had a little moment  here. Himangshu and I were up and ready for the early morning Aarti which begins at 7 AM.As we approached the check-point, the policeman sitting there pointed towards Himangshu's casual khakhi shorts, and sang out--'what's written there??' I wondered what he meant,till I looked in the direction he was pointing to with his baton. I had to suppress my giggles as Himangshu said sheepishly, "Ji, wear respectful clothes." We didn't want a scene there, and the policeman also seemed to be in a benign mood, for he let us off with a 'warning !' :)
{We faced a similar situation at Guruvayoor temple, Kerela, where both Himangshu and my daughter were stopped from going intot the sanctum sanctorum. Reason--Himangshu should have worn a South Indian Lungi, and my daughter ought to have been wearing a cotton sari or a suit. She was in capris. Solution? Himangshu rushed off to buy and wear a Lungi for himself and a white cotton wrap around kind of skirt for our daughter. }

If any you feel like visiting Somnath, try staying at the.. LEELAVATI TEMPLE TRUST GUEST HOUSE, maintained by the Somnath Temple Trust. Its walking distance from the temple, has rooms for all budgets, is CLEAN! and odourless... till the smell from the fishery factories nearby don't assault you out of the blue! They have a nice canteen system which serves a regular vegetarian Gujrati thali. Same thali every day. A thali for one person costs you 40 bucks, and includes Khichdi, a sweet Kadhi, cabbage sabzi, dal and rotis.   There is no room service, except for tea.

Our travel details :

Ibis, National bird of Egypt.

Windmills all the way !
 We reached Somnath after driving from Jaamnagar to Dwarka Peeth in the morning, then onwards to Somnath. Some stretches of the road are 'not-so-good,' I would say, considering the excellent highways of Gujarat. Our driving time, from Jaamnagar to Somnath, via Dwarka Peeth was was a full day, covering 148 Kms from Jaamnagar to Dwarka Peeth and another 230 Kms from Dwarka to Somnath. Driving along this stretch is a pleasure, with migratory birds dotting the landscape all along. Windmills are all over the countryside in Gujarat..! For quite a distance, the highway from Dwarka to Somnath runs along the coastline and one can see the blue , hazy sea from the car itself. Coconut water is a welcome drink at certain places where people flock to go down to the beach from the highway.

Getting a Water Lily for myself :)

You can contact the Somnath Trust here for more information or reservations:

Shree Somnath Trust
C / 12-A, Shree Om Villa Apartment
F.C.I. Godown Road,
Shahibaug, Ahmedabad -380 004

Phone No.: +91-79-22686442,
Fax No.: +91-79-22686335

For more travel related information, check out this link: