Varanasi: The Flashback

Varanasi, the place was on my travel list since 5 years and I was wondering when the D-day would arrive!

Lately, I have come to realize that things happen at the right opportune time!

So it did! November 2017 was the month I set foot in Varanasi with no expectations but a heart filled with enthusiasm to explore this intriguing place. And of course with the people I adore! 😉

The ride from Sunauli (Why sunauli- will get back to that probably in my next post on Annapurna Circuit)  to Varanasi was quite interesting. My friend and me started early morning in the UPSRTC bus to reach Varanasi! From scenic paddy fields, mustard fields and farms galore the road took to small towns, cities and finally reached Varanasi. One can feel the chaos as soon as you hit the city center. We hired a auto-rickshaw to take us to our stay at Zostel.

It was 3pm when we reached and took some time to freshen up. We went on a stroll to explore the streets of Varanasi in the evening!

Our first pit-stop in Varanasi was at the local famous Chaat shop. We tried a variety of Chaats and of course ended with a sweet-meat! We were too tired to get on with our exploration that we took to the terrace at our stay indulging in a chat and then hit the sack after the long day!

Let me give you a glimpse of Varanasi!

So our stay was pretty close to Kashi Vishwanath temple, the main street and about 2-3 kms to the Ghats and of course the Ganges!

The streets were amazingly crowded! More than vehicles on the road, there were people and it was more difficult for the vehicles to meander through the crowd. But the two wheelers, auto-rickshaws, tuk-tuk, cycle-rickshaws and a zillion other variety of vehicles added of course to the rhythmic chaos! The street also had a good number of street vendors selling trinkets, fruits,  neem twigs,chaats and what-nots! The main street leads one to the Ghats where certain rituals and ablutions take place. There along the Ghats runs Ganga with all exuberance and serenity! Along the main street the road leads to a lot of narrow alleys which house series of temples; big and small! Apart from that there are popular lassi spots, kullad chai addas, paan shops and of course the hot jalebis / samosas spots!

All in all an interesting place to explore.

Let me talk about the history and importance of Varanasi; It is a spiritual and a religious place for Hindus where one is believed to attain Liberation if one is cremated there after death!

Kashi, Benaras, Varanasi are some of the names it goes by! It is a revered city on the banks of Ganga in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is called Varanasi owing to the confluence of Varuna and Assi rivers! It is known as the ‘City of Lights’-Kashi(to shine)!

 

We were joined by two other friends the next morning and we got on a temple hopping spree!

Each and every temple had a certain vibration and of course different deities. Right from Kalabhairav temple to Sankat mochan Mahabali Hanuman temple to Devi temple to the main Kashi Vishwanath temple to Annapurna temple, each had its beauty and fervour! (PS: these are the few temple names I remember, we did a visit a few more maybe!)

Kashi Vishwanath temple, the main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a huge temple which houses smaller shrines and temples. The temple has withstood  a lot of battles and rampage over 12th-18th Centuries owing to the Mughal attacks. The temple is beefed up with a lot of security personnel! The various smaller temples runs along the narrow alleys which is quite a meandering tour!

We were present for a couple of Aartis (rituals) at the Vishwanath temple and the energy of the chants, the mystical place, the awe-inspiring rishis were mind-blowing! I cannot put it into words but it was truly a remarkable experience!

Food and drinks are at its best out here in Varanasi. The evenings were spent in exploring and tasting the cuisine of Varanasi. Puri Bhaji, hot jalebis, Kachoris are the popular and tasty breakfast dishes. One can snack upon chaats, taste variety of lassis, kullad chai, hot-lemon teas and bhaang which is legal in the streets of Varanasi! Well, not to forget the Benarasi Paan!

 

One of the highlights of the place is obviously the Ganges.

She flows with all zest unperturbed about the life and death at her banks! 

Sparkling her way through the lights of Sun and Moon! 

Ready to sway by the flickering souls in the midst! 

All set to trigger the divine you!

A boat ride takes one along the Ghats from one end to the other. It is a beautiful ride!

By the Ghats, Varanasi,ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
By the Ghats, Varanasi

The ghats / embankments along the Ganga are a place of rituals! Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat are popular for cremation rituals.

Dasashwamedh Ghat is very popular for the Ganga Aarti which takes place in the evening twilight! There are 7 Rishis who perform the rituals facing Ganga! We sat on one of the boats and saw this beautiful array of lights, lamps and of course the 7 rishis perform synchronous rituals with the lamps. It was a sight to behold! The fervour of the place, the people in unison, serene Ganga, the rishis were magnetic and splendid! This is something that one shouldn’t miss if visiting Varanasi!

The Ghats are open 24*7 and the best time to visit is in the early mornings for the spectacular Sunrise and the evenings during the Sunsets and of course the Aarti!

Sunrise at Ganges, Varanasi, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Sunrise at Ganges, Varanasi
Sunset at the Ganges, Varanasi, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Sunset at the Ganges, Varanasi

One place which we considered our amazing serene hang-out was the Nepali temple in the Lalita Ghat. The temple is a replica of Pashupatinath temple, Nepal. It is made of wood, stone and terracota. It was built by the King of Nepal during his exile and was completed by his son. It took three decades to complete this beautiful structure and it is surrounded by tamarind and peepal trees which makes it all the more lovely!

Nepali temple, Lalita Ghat, Varanasi, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Nepali temple, Lalita Ghat, Varanasi

One can also visit Banaras Hindu University (BHU) which is the largest residential University in Asia!

All in all, Varanasi is a place of wonder. One has to visit it to experience the immense beauty and delve into this mystical abode!

 

 

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Stranded in Tranquil Tawang!

It is quite amusing that we were kinda stranded in a way! I will get to that in a while.

Arunachal Pradesh! The place obviously sounded inviting when my friend had decided to go visit this place. After much thought and conversations in my head, I think I decided to go for it. Lately, I haven’t been feeling the urge to travel- Oh my God! Well, I will surely get back on this on my next post as it is a long story!

So yeah Arunachal!

We were kinda prepped up as travelers – as in we didn’t book any transport / stays! We intended to do it on the go!

But of course we booked the flight to Guwahati to and fro and we got the Inner Line Permit to Arunachal by applying online!

The morning flight from Bangalore to Guwahati was quite refreshing because we fellow travellers- the 3 of us had loads to talk that we ended up discussing insane topics in the flight too.

US before we boarded the flight!
US before we boarded the flight!

I think one fellow passenger was so annoyed that he sweetly retorted- “Could you please continue your conversation in the ground floor?”

We did stop our talk but we couldn’t hold our grins! 😉

We reached Guwahati well in time, thanks to Indigo!  Later we hired a taxi to the nearest bus station Dharapani and got into a tempo traveler taking us to Bhalukpong which was our pit-stop for the night.

The ride was pleasant, we traversed along the city to scenic paddy fields and the roads were lined with rhododendron trees with red-orange flowers!

Once we reached Tezpur we got onto another tempo traveller which took about an hour to reach Bhalukpong.

Bhalukpong is a small town on the border between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. We reached Bhalukpong around 6:30 in the evening and stayed in a good hotel close by the border. We got a chance to see the Bramhaputra river from a distance out here.

We had booked a share-taxi at the Taxi Union for our journey to Tawang the next morning.

In the North-eastern states of India, the transport works mostly through Taxis under the Taxi Union. One can hire a share-taxi to get to places for a predefined rate. This works out cheap for a traveler or a group of travelers.

So the next day morning after a quick breakfast at the roadside dhaba and quite an interesting conversation with the dhaba owner we were in the taxi to Tawang for about 6 hours!

The ride was uber awesome, obviously up the mountains. The roads were cobbled up with stones in a few areas and there was construction up the roads. After about a couple of hours, it started raining and  we crossed a series of mountains and were steadily climbing up! The roads were dusty but as we moved ahead the scenery changed to beautiful lush mountains.

We reached Bomdila at about 2-3pm. Post satiating our hunger we took to the nearby marketplace of Bomdila. We engrossed ourselves in window shopping and took to the chaats and sweets at the nearby bakery!

As we got to our stay, books, music and games kept us engaged!

It was almost 8 pm when we felt like eating but as we got out, the roads were empty and there just a streetlight flickering. With no hope of a restaurant being open, we strolled a bit and found one open restaurant. 🙂 A day in the mountains ends pretty quickly say about 6:30 pm everyone is in their warm homes!

We were looking forward to the meet the gorgeous Sela Pass at about 13000 odd feet. That got us up in the morning and after a frantic search for my ring which I thought I had lost we were in for another day of long ride up the mountains.

Lo and behold we reached there after cruising through the splendid mountain curves.

Trio at Sela, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Trio at Sela

The sight of the Sela lake was pretty spectacular. I wanted to stay right there but all we could get were a few clicks and a momentary capture through our eyes. The biting cold and the gusty winds shoved us into the taxi in no time!

Sela Pass , Arunachal Pradesh, Shoepenlens, Shwetha Krish
Sela Pass , Arunachal Pradesh

After 2-3 hours we reached Tawang! We had booked a stay right in the center of the town and the rooms were fabulous and gave an amazing view of the mountains!

Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, Shwetha KRish, ShoePenLens
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

We strolled a bit and went to the War Memorial. We were in for a visual treat as there was a movie scheduled for the evening! It was a wonderful movie about Arunachal, its culture, the people, the Army and the wars too.

After a tasty dinner at our stay, we hit the sack only to hear the roof rattling in the middle of the night. It was snowing!

The view in the morning was spectacular, the mountains around were white-washed! Our plan of crossing the Bum La pass was washed away too as the snow pile was much that the Army had barred the way!

We spent the day in visiting the Tawang monastery which is the largest in India and the second largest in the world. The monastery stands atop a mountain and one can see the scenic valley, mountains and the city of Tawang from here! The monastery also has a museum which houses various artifacts, models and pictures!

Rest of the day was spent in reading books, chatting and just about enjoying the weather!

We decided to stay for another day in the hope to visit Bum La pass. But it turned out to be yet another day with no luck as the pass was closed owing to bad weather. We were invited by a fellow guest at our hotel to tag along on a tour of monasteries. With nothing much to do we tagged along!

He turned out to be quite a intriguing person. He was an elderly gentleman who knew much about the Monasteries, the Tibetan culture and a lot about spirituality! He kept us engaged with amazing stories and his life experiences.

We got a chance to visit Urgelling monastery which is the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama.

Third day in Tawang and we were happy to find that we could atleast visit a couple of lakes further up the mountains if not for the Bumla pass.

As we headed on to the beautiful vistas, we were in for a treat as we were surrounded by snow clad mountains and white pathways!

Beautiful vistas,ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Beautiful vistas

Spectacular views of the lakes came into view and they looked mesmerisingly beautiful.

PT Tso, Arunachal Pradesh, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
PT Tso, Arunachal Pradesh

As we made our way to Madhuri Lake, coined that way owing to the movie ‘Koyla’ starring Madhuri Dixit which was shot in this location. The vehicle we were in skidded and got stuck in the snow. The Army men who were traveling behind in the truck helped us out. But further ahead into the snow clad mountains the vehicle was skidding and it was going to be a risky affair at the end of the day so we headed back to Tawang. But the beauty of the lakes and the short trek we managed to do while our taxi was getting repaired, was splendid!

Himalayas – they time and again woo me, intrigue me and leave me stunned! There is always something new to learn and feel within! The Soul craves for more always!

Until next time…. See ye Himalayas!

Our stay in Arunachal especially Tawang was for about 3-4 days before we headed on to Meghalaya! But the short and adventurous trip was brilliant! Well so we were partly stranded owing to Bum La Pass. Hope to get to her soon!

More on Meghalaya in my next travel post!

 

Isha Vidhya School: A ray of hope to the li’l angels!

“Teaching children is an accomplishment; getting children excited about learning is an achievement!”

It was a bright sunny day as we drove from Bangalore to Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu. We were a group of 20 odd people visiting the Isha Vidhya School.

After about 2.5 hours, the bus took a turn from the highway and headed towards a dusty narrow road. The landscape was a treat to the eyes; green lush fields of paddy and mustard flowers paved the way. There were a few huts, small houses, a few distance away from each other. By and by we came across small villages and then moved further ahead into wilderness. The rolling hills, big trees were a constant companion along the journey.

After about 3-5 kms, the bus stopped in front of a huge building. And the board read…

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I was amazed to see such a big lovely building against the expanse of fields and hills. As we entered, the principal, staff and few students gave us a hearty welcome!

The entrance hall had a beautiful painting of Sadhguru and the Principal did share a few thoughts and vision on Isha Vidhya school, the unique methodology in the curriculum, the innumerable scholarships and of course the stories of bright young kids.

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We were ushered on a school tour guided by a few student volunteers. The excitement and the warmth they put forth while explaining to us about the school, classes and just about everything was truly heartening!

I can’t quite fathom how happy and gleeful these kids were in each of the classrooms we visited.

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The school follows their own methodology from Kindergarten to 4th Std. This is quite an endeavor as many post graduate students come and study regarding the unique methodology and practices taught in the school!

The school has a Math Lab (which obviously was something new to me) where the Math concepts are taught practically with designs and materials. They also have a Computer lab where students are taught on the basics of computers and to make photo stories etc. A student showed us a photo-story of his family and school and it was very creative!

We had a glimpse of their Art and Craft class, Library and also Science labs.

The teachers too seemed to be humble, enthusiastic about the children and very grateful for being a part of Isha Vidhya.

The corridors and classrooms were equally decorated with puzzles, stories, English quotes, alphabets, Tamil alphabets and certain unique concepts were put up on the wall which had me racking my brains for I was learning something new right there.

We later had a tour of the school kitchen where sumptuous, nutritious lunch is prepared for the children everyday. They use the resources in a sustainable manner and the vegetables, grains are grown in the farms nearby. We could not see the farms presently owing to water shortage. The lands are dry and it is a stark reality which needs to be addressed.

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On the whole, it was an overwhelming experience to see these children from poor families in the nearby villages, interact with us and talk about everything from science to computers to art to yoga to things galore!

What really struck me was – these children are the first ones to get educated in their family and they are so talented, humble and so driven to learn more. And they deserve to be given all the opportunities to realize their true potential!

This was quite a beautiful experience to see the children smile, greet you time and again and so eager to show you around on what they are learning.

There were kids everywhere bidding us goodbye as we left the school premises.

shwethakrish, shoepenlens, ishavidhya
Children bidding us goodbye!

Isha Vidhya is a non profit initiative by the Isha Foundation for educating and empowering the rural children in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. There are currently 9 schools in Tamil Nadu run by Isha Vidhya. Through the support of innumerable volunteers, donors, village communities the schools are creating a strong foundation for the children in education and making them employable on par with any student.

It is an amazing endeavor to be able to provide affordable and high quality education for our future citizens who will take on the world!

If you are willing to visit this school, do let me know or DM me.

Lastly, if you want to donate or raise funds for Isha Vidhya, please go through the below links.

  1. To raise funds or donate – https://letzchange.org/nonprofits/isha-education
  2. If you want to support Isha vidhya, you can be a part of TCS 10k run or Majja run. Link- https://registration.procamrunning.in/tcsworld10k/registration.php
shwethakrish, shoepenlens, isha
The team which visited the Isha Vidhya school

Am I lucky enough to travel?! Aren’t you?

‘Oh you are so lucky, you are traveling?’

‘I don’t know how you do it!”

‘You are living the life!’

‘Keep traveling while you are single! I don’t think I can’

‘You are young, travel more!’

‘You are freelancing, right? You have the time! I don’t have the time with work’

Hmmm, these are a few of the responses/ quip I get from strangers, acquaintances and friends!

These are quite amusing yet annoying at times because it is not big a deal!

So here goes, I am going to give away the other side of the story….. not to make it sound boring or scary but for the fact that traveling is possible by anyone and you need not be lucky but passionate!

  1. For starters, being single doesn’t mean I don’t have responsibilities, family, commitments and work. At the end of the day, I have to work around these for being able to travel. My toughest times have been at convincing my folks for my travel! 😉
  2. I am not rich that I can afford traveling now and then. I have to work, earn and save for being able to travel and explore the places galore. Trust me, my bank account balance hasn’t seen a decent amount in the past couple of years! I am not kidding! Security is far far away!
  3. Being a freelancer, doesn’t mean I am free! It means that I take up work according to my pace, situation and variety and the amount of work involved etc. And of course it is not a fad and is more than a 9-5 job; considering multiple commitments, clients, projects and being a one-woman army is quite tasking!
  4. Age doesn’t have to do anything with travel! If you are interested and want to really explore a place, just get out of your comfort zone- you will surely be able to do it! Well I have seen elderly people from across the globe take to traveling from all walks of life. The smile and gratitude on their face, inspires me to keep traveling  forever- like even when I am way tooooo old!
  5. Frankly, I am not lucky. I am grateful for the things I have and work towards making the best of what I can do and go traveling- for it is my passion! If you are passionate about traveling and exploring the unknown- I am sure, you already know- Luck doesn’t have anything to do with it!

So,  I haven’t written the above because I found the statements/responses offensive but for the fact that ‘I am not lucky’ but I do work towards getting what I want.

I am blessed and grateful to make the best of what I have with utmost passion and reverence!

Or in other words, we are all lucky that we are in this beautiful world! What you make of it or how you explore all depends on what you really want!

Well, next time you think about wanting to travel, think of how passionate and focused are you for wanting to do it(nah nothing about luck) and just get on with it!

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Yellow #AtoZchallenge

Y #AtoZChallenge

Yellow Ball of Gold- Sunrise!

Sunrise
Sunrise!

As I went about my morning walk up on the terrace of my home in Bangalore, the Sun was making it’s way up. It’s move up on the stage was so grand that I had to grab my camera and focus on its entrance.

It was a poised way up and it was utterly elegant that I had to focus on getting these above shots. I was lost in time and wonder of this spectacle.

We are always so lost in our own world that we fail to look at the beauty around, the nature is a grand spectacle and every day, every moment is brand new.

What do you think of this? Have you come across any grand spectacle of nature?

Wanderlust #AtoZchallenge

W #AtoZchallenge

Wanderlust- The bug has bit me!

My love for travel is increasing day by day.

It is not just the destination that I go to but the journey of planning (at times), the shopping before the trip, the research about the place which gets me all the more curious and wanting for more.

On the other hand, some travels just happen on a whim with no planning, no preparation- just about getting to the place and figuring out what to do.

The beauty of travel is the place, the people, the culture and the chance meetings that happen on the go.

I have learnt that people are very warm and courteous around the world. We all have the same psyche. Humanity rules! I hope it stays that way. Fingers crossed!

What do you think of traveling and the best part of travel?

Great Smoky Mountains #AtoZChallenge

Great Smoky Mountains

One way is to trek, another is to ride up , well there is a third way – Riding in the largest aerial tramway in the United States – At Gatlinburg over Great Smoky Mountains!

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Well the road ride to Tennessee was fabulous because of the valleys, the mountains and incredible views throughout the way.

Gatlinburg, the mountain resort city has numerous places to visit, enjoy and of course ring in with the rustic mountain ambience throughout. More on Gatlinburg in another post.

Great Smoky Mountains, USA
The Great Smoky Mountain ranges

Great Smoky Mountains are part of the Blue ridge mountains on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. The popular Appalachian trail passes through the center of the park. The ranges are at an altitude of about 6ooo feet and above.

Well as we headed up the aerial tramway, the joy of seeing the mountains below us was fantastic. It was the thrill of hovering over mountain ranges and seeing the Smoky mountain ranges all around us. The ride was quite adventurous when the tramway headed down and we had the entire crowd inside the tramway yelling on top of  their voices.

Aerial Tramway Great Smoky Mountains, USA
Aerial Tramway, Great Smoky Mountains

Well for me a trekker, a hiking enthusiast this was a different wonderful way of seeing the mountains and enjoying the ride with fellow travellers.

Dalhousie #AtoZChallenge

Dalhousie – A poet’s paradise

D #atozchallenge blogging

Well it is the D-day. And all I can think of for today’s challenge is Dalhousie.

I can’t forget this beautiful hill station nestled in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, India.

By the Dalhousie Woods on a rainy evening
By the Dalhousie woods on a rainy evening

I spent my Birthday week last year at this place. The monsoons in July made it all the more beautiful. Lush landscapes, rolling hills, hot food and the misty woods made it all the more lovely.

Lush landscape, woods at Dalhousie
Lush landscape, woods at Dalhousie

It is located in the Dhauladhar mountain ranges of the Himalayas at an altitude of 6000 to 9000 feet above sea-level. The ride through Dalhousie kept me on my toes as I wished that I would make a home in the woods…. Well the dream stays…

Misty Roads, Dalhousie
Misty Roads, Dalhousie

I want to travel! Where do I start?

Well most of us have had this question ringing in our heads when we have an impulsive drive to just head out somewhere but then the thought wanders about for a while, only to surrender to the confines of the comfort zone!

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Ever experienced this?

Well to all the procrastinators, comfort zoners and just about any one who has put off a travel…. here are a few things to DO (random order) when you have the WANDERLUST!

  1. Choose a place- WHERE? It could be a place that you have been wanting to go since ages, it could be the first place that comes to your mind now, it could be a place of your dreams provided it is on this planet 😉 Or you could research any travel blogs, travel diaries of frequent travelers, travel magazines or websites.
  2. Now I guess you have the place ready…. it is time to plan out the ‘WHEN?’ Find out the best time to visit the place you have chosen. If it is the peak period, you might want to avoid it if you want to be away from the crowd 😉 (Introvert Traveler talking :D) But yes if you want to enjoy the place in its magnanimous self, then hop on and make the most of it and don’t worry about the crowd (they could add to your advantage)
  3. So, BUDGET… I hope you selected the place keeping in mind the budget you have in your pocket 😉 Just kidding ….. well I am not! By all means, if you are lacking some amount, save up. Well if you choose to just land in the place and figure the rest from there, so be it. There are many options like couchsurfing, working on the go, sharing the travelling costs with a fellow traveller….. Well if you put your mind to it you will come across one or the other adventurous way….
  4. NOW book your transportation tickets- flight, train (certainly well ahead to confirm your seat and to save some money on early bird bookings). Also, if you are planning on staying in hotels, resorts, home-stays, traveler bungalows book it! Well again if you happen to be a traveller, land in the place and figure your way out.
  5. Lastly, the biggest thing to do. Well, I should have put this at the first 😉 Nahh! Convince the stakeholders- Boss, Team members, Family and of course Parents! God bless you, if you have Indian parents….. It is really really hard a job to convince them completely… try to convince them a bit atleast. All the best!
  6. Oh I forgot… Travel WITH? You could tag along with your family, friends, like-minded travelers or just about YOU being on a vacation alone! Try it! Traveling Solo and finding fellow travelers on the way is in vogue but more so you learn a lot about the world around you and about yourself! (There goes your reward!) If you are travelling with a travel tour company/agency/organization you are bound to find many fellow travellers so don’t beat yourself on going solo!

Well if you want to just be a traveler to the core, travel about anywhere, anywhen, anyhow, anywith and try to figure out a way where your heart and mind leads you to.

So, get going NOW! There is NO later, a sweet period, the right time, the leisure time, the retirement time! Sorry, you may not be alive to reach these fancy times.

It is the NOW time. Make it NOW! Travel NOW!Explore NOW!

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Auroville is truly an abode for a spiritual seeker, an art aficionado and an excited traveler

A Peek into Matrimandir

As I walked up the spiral ramp inside the beautiful Matrimandir, the silence had me reminisce about the music played in the meditation room at my school years ago which was affiliated to Sri Aurobindo. I was nostalgic more so because my heart recognized the space and time of my school days. It was overwhelming and I had to shush my heartbeat from dancing to a happy tune much to the silence of Matrimandir.

Spiritual Abode, Auroville

A day earlier, I along with my friends alighted in Pondicherry after an overnight bus journey from Bangalore. We had planned to stay in a homestay called Samarpan in Auroville. When we reached the destination it was beyond our expectation. The view of the sea, the lovely cottages and the dining cum library area which faced the sea was just perfect! We were ushered in by the landlady Donata who welcomed us with open arms and not to forget I hopped about away from Blackie, the Great Dane who did welcome us as well. 😉 A quick visit to the beach had us all geared up for an exciting day!

And yes we were followed by this sweet dog ‘Shady’ 🙂 much to its liking to being in my shadow!

Auroville Beach

Samarpan and the beach ahead

After a sumptuous healthy breakfast, we headed to Auroville on a hired two-wheeler. Auroville also called as the ‘City of Dawn’ founded by The Mother (Mirra Alfasa) is an experimental township based on universal human unity with its residents hailing from countries around the world.

We were in time for the registration to Matrimandir visit and it was scheduled the next day. The exploration of Auroville was the next thing on our agenda. From shopping to eating at cafes to visiting pottery places to checking out Art centers and buildings, we had covered much ground. The joy of riding through Auroville was utterly marvelous as the paths ran through forests and somewhere along the dusty lanes we found lovely buildings of great architecture, centers of Art, Library and Recreation centers. It is quite an exciting journey for a traveler and an Art aficionado.

Fun times at Auroville

After an exhausting but an amazing day we rested only to get up for an even more exciting one.

Mesmerizing Matrimandir Contd…..

After a ride to the Visitor Center, Auroville, we were shown a video of the initiation of Auroville. Post which a group of 15 of us were taken on a short bus ride to reach Matrimandir.

As we deposited all our belongings, we could see the golden globe shining at us!

Matrimandir, a globe building much like the Sun, adorned with golden metallic plates lies in the center of Auroville. There are twelve stone pillars which look like they are holding the globe. Well these happen to be meditation rooms. A guide tagged along with our group to talk about the initiation of Matrimandir and gave insights about its architecture. We were then accompanied to the Lotus pool made of marble stones beneath the main hall where one can meditate.

The insides of the Matrimandir is all White. White marble floor laden with white carpets, white walls and the place is an epitome of peace. Silence is the word in the hall.

The Meditation hall also called as the Inner chamber is generally lighted by a beam of sun ray falling onto a crystal inside the hall. But it has artificial lights which is used up on a cloudy day. The inner chamber is a place for meditation and Yoga. It is lined with white cushioned seats on the floor. As I sat in the hall, I was lost in the silence outwardly and inwardly. I know not what  I imagined or prayed for but it was a moment which had me by my soul… well I was soul arrested! I tried to create a space of my blissful abode. Then there was silence, the silence that echoed from my vision of Himalayas.

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Matrimandir, PC: caliedoscope.in

 

As I headed out along with the group, I felt an immense contentment. Later, we were ushered to sit under the beautiful banyan trees to enjoy and soak in utter bliss!

It certainly is a place for travelers, yoga practitioners and some tourists who happen to be interested in spirituality and architecture. It is not every tourist’s cup of tea.

The French Quarters

Post the visit, we headed towards the main Pondicherry city especially the French quarters. French Villas, cafes, restaurants, lovely laid out streets was a sight to see. The street along the beach, houses buildings of importance like the secretariats of other countries.

One of the streets along the Secretariat building
One of the streets along the Secretariat building

We strolled along the Promenade Beach which has a rocky shoreline. People were basking in the sunset and the beauty of the sea. It was crowded and the small roadside eateries were no less.

Selfies along the Promenade beach

As we strolled about, we caught a whiff of freshly prepared ‘Badam milk’ and in no time we were sipping the most delicious drink. We later headed to the Sri Aurobindo ashram which is a small courtyard which houses the ‘Samadhi’ of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. After spending some time we headed on an exploration of other streets and a restaurant to dine.

Hot delicious Badam Milk
Hot delicious Badam Milk

A Rainy and Cloudy Show

The next day with the rains playing havoc, we took to the comforts of the home-stay reading a book and just staring at the cloudy skies and noisy ocean.

Moments with Donata and Blackie

We then happened to find Julie and Julia 😉 Julia who had flown to India to learn Yoga was out there relaxing on a hammock and there was this cute little dog which followed her everywhere. They seemed to be enjoying eachother’s company.

There is Julie who escorted us to the beach later on, making sure that we were safe along the menacing waves.

JUlie by the beach

We could not have asked for a better day as we just relaxed and the holiday did turn out to be a peaceful, spiritual one!

Enjoying the rains

So for travelers and tourists out there do visit Auroville, Pondicherry if you want a taste of the laid-back city, cafes, churches, beaches, art, architecture, serene home-stays, the must-visit Matrimandir and just about anything to do with spirituality… It certainly is a beautiful place to unwind!

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PC: Pinterest