“Jantar Mantar” meaning “instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens” is situated right opposite the City Palace in Jaipur. Coming out of the gates of City Palace, I stopped at the ticket window to purchase the entry tickets to the observatory.
As I entered I found that the observatory complex is a large one, and has a collection of several (19 in all) architectural astronomical instruments that had been constructed in the early 18th century, with stone, marble and bronze. These devices were used to measure time and space, and for observing the astronomical positions of planets and stars. One of the instruments was the world’s biggest stone sundial, which gives the local time with an accuracy of 2 seconds.
Of particular interest to me were twelve instruments, known as Zodiacic Circles, which were used for measuring the latitude and longitude of celestial bodies. There are twelve such instruments corresponding to each zodiac sign.
Karbi Anglong, meaning Hills of Karbi people is one of the two autonomous hills districts of Assam. It has a blend of thickly forested hills, dense tropical rain forests and flat plains with three-fourth of the area being covered by forests.
I got the opportunity to visit Karbi Anglong a few years back. I was lucky to go to some of the remotest places and meet and talk to the people. Here I share my observations on the enchanting land.
It was 1 PM in the afternoon. After lapping up all there was to seen in Pattadakal and Aihole, we proceeded towards Hampi, which is at distance of around 150 km from Aihole. The stretch of road between Aihole and Hampi being smooth, we had an easy drive.
On the way, as we passed through Kamalapur, we saw a lake in which the water had a pinkish tinge, appearing as if it had borrowed its shade from the nearby reddish hills.
Pattadakal, a small village in Bagalkot district of Karnataka, is a name that I had not heard of till recently, but after seeing the place enroute to Hampi from Badami caves, I was so enthralled by its beauty and richness of art that if I have to describe the place in one word it would be ‘mesmerizing’.
This small village, situated on the bank of Malaprabha river, is a UNESCO World heritage site with a cultural legacy dating back to the 6th century BC.
Starting out from Badami, in the morning at around 8 AM, we reached Pattadakal in less than an hour. On entering the heritage complex, I found a picturesque site of ancient stone temples in sprawling green lawns with palm trees lined on the sides, and with light red sandstone hills in the backdrop.
Diwali, is the festive time that brings in happiness and cheer. It is also the time, for long weekends. To make good use of this long Diwali weekend, we started out on a road trip from Mumbai towards Karnataka. My endless fascination for rocks, caves and historical monuments drove us to the heritage sites of Badami and Hampi.
Starting out in the morning at 7.45 AM, we drove to Pune via Mumbai Pune Expressway and then took the National Highway NH4. By the time we reached Belgaum, it was 5.30 PM in the evening. We had decided to stop over at a hotel in Belgaum for the night.
Next day morning we took the Bachi – Raipur state highway upto Lokapur, and then hit the road to Badami. This stretch of the road passes through the countryside. It is best covered during the daylight as it can get confusing for travelers who are not familiar with the route. Relying heavily on the Google Maps we drove by. A few marigold and sunflower fields on the way presented a pretty sight.
Unakoti, the word means ‘one less than a crore’. This is the name of a place located deep inside a coolly shaded forest, about 180 kilometres northeast of Agartala. An archaeological wonder known for the largest Bas-relief sculpture in India, Unakoti is supposed to have the carvings and statues of Gods and Goddesses numbering one less than 1 crore. Gigantic carvings of Shiva, Ganesha and other gods and goddesses of Hindu mythology, some of them about 30 feet high, dating back from the 7th to 9th, can be seen on its hill slopes.
This is one of the places that I often had to pass by during my stay in Tripura, a picturesque State of North East India, bounded by Bangladesh on all sides with corridors to the North Eastern States of Asom and Mizoram.
After it rained throughout night, the sun showed up the next morning. As we had ventured to the South of Goa on the earlier day, we decide to head straight to the forts and beaches of North Goa.
The remnants of the forts that once guarded the coastline still attract many visitors.
Though the Portuguese forts were mostly functional forts, without the architectural finesse or ornate carvings found in the Mughal forts, yet one can’t help marveling at their construction. The sturdy bastions have withstood the lashing of the sea waves for over 4 centuries and still continue to do so.
Winter is generally the preferred season for tourists to visit Goa. Monsoon, on the other hand is the “off season” for tourists in Goa. Nonetheless, it is also the season when you can enjoy moving around the places of interest at leisure, without finding yourself in a sea of people all around you.
So here I am in Goa on a short trip, enjoying the monsoon. The rain this year in Goa has been sparse though. It wasn’t raining on Sunday morning. We decided to go to old Goa.
Goa has an interesting amalgamation of east and west, ancient and modern, beaches and hills. There is a bit of everything for everyone it appears. On one hand you find casinos and clubs, on the other you find a number of churches and temples. It is a small quaint state and yet there is something very lively about Goa.
A visit to the malls on the weekends has almost become like a ritual for us. The routine stopovers at malls either for shopping or for watching movies often gets monotonous. So when I saw the beautiful pictures of Global Pagoda (near Esselworld), posted on a blog, I made up my mind to plan out a weekend trip to the Pagoda.
The weather was pleasant yesterday. We set out for the Pagoda in the afternoon. The Pagoda stands near Gorai beach on the outskirts of Mumbai. Driving down on the Western Express Highway, we took a left turn at Dahisar on the Mira Bhayandar Road.
Taking the time out for a vacation during summers is a routine with most families, and ours is no exception. At the end of May, to seek respite from the scorching summer heat of Mumbai, we had decided to go to the hill district of Coorg via Mangalore.
I have, since been contemplating to jot down some highlights of the trip to preserve the memories. Within a span of a month, when I found myself going to Mangalore once again last week, I thought that I absolutely must write this post before it gets too late.
Mangalore is an hour’s flight from Mumbai. The Mangalore airport is on top of a hill with two table top runways. Acres of greenery covering the hills all around is pleasing to the eyes. A winding road takes us down the airport.
Mangalore to Coorg is a three hour drive. We had decided to spend the day at Mangalore and start for Coorg early next morning.