Archive for April 30th, 2012

Gokarna


Gokarna is a village in Karnataka, in the district of Uttara Kannada of Karnataka state.  Gokarna literally means “Cow’s ear”.  It is believed that Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow here. Hence it is also known as the temple town and is an important pilgrimage center for the Hindus.  Another probable reason for the name Gokarna could be due to its Geographical location. The area where it is located is the convergence of rivers Gangavali and Agnashini and resembles the shape of a cow’s ear.

The early settlements of this region can be traced back to the Brahmins.  They escaped from Gomantak to avoid forcible conversions by the British and Portuguese and settled in and around Gokarna around the 15th century.  At that time, Gokarna used to be a part of the kingdoms of Vijaynagar and Sodhe.  However, it later came under the Portuguese rule as the Konkan region was vehemently taken over by them.  Gokarna is also an important center for Sanskrit studies. It is the residence of Bhandikeri Math and Togu Math where Sanskrit knowledge is passed down from generations in Brahmin families.  The main language spoken here is Kannada. However, Konkani and Marathi are also widely spoken.

green gokarna

Mahabaleshwara temple is one of the chief temples here. It is a famous Shiva temple. There is a custom that one has to bathe in the sea and pay respect to a Shivalingam, made out of sand.  The famous Atmalinga is housed here. It is preserved in a square called Saligrama Peetha. It is opened for viewing once in forty years.

temple

The other temples are Maha Ganapathi Temple, Uma Maheshwari Temple, Varadraj Temple and many more. Gokarna also has many mythological stories associated with it.

temple 2

Gokarna is not just a temple town.  It is also a popular tourist destination with its endless coconut and palm trees and clear blue seas.  It is a paradise for beach lovers.  Four of the most gorgeous beaches are located in the south of Gokarna.  First is the Kudle beach, a beautiful beach that seems to go on forever and is surrounded by palm trees.

sunset at kudle beach

Next is the Om beach, which is shaped like its name.

om beach

The final two are Half-moon beach and Paradise beach.  These beaches have huts (shacks) on them which are available for rent.

Sunset at Om Beach, Gokarna

half-moon beach

They also have hammocks and guitars which give a hippy feel to the small village. They attract both foreigners and Indians alike.  You can explore this quaint little town by walking through the two main streets which are lined with shops and conventional houses.

shacks

The presence of beaches and temples together create a contrast that few other places in the world possess. The best time to visit Gokarna is from October to March.

Jaisalmer


Jaisalmer, also known as “The Golden City” is a town in Rajasthan.  It was once known as Jaisalmer state and is the administrative headquarters of the Jaisalmer district.  It’s not a very large town, with a population of about 78,000. However, it has a charm of its own and is a paragon of beautiful culture and harsh climatic conditions.  Jaisalmer is named after Maharawal Jaisal Singh who founded the city.  He was a Rajput king in 1156 AD. “Jaisalmer” means “The hill fort of Jaisal”.

The entire city is built out of yellow sand and yellow sandstone due to which it came to be known as “the Golden City”. The old city was completely encircled by a wall but much of it has crumbled sadly for want of building material in recent years. Just like all the other cities in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer also has its own glorious past.

jaisalmer city

According to the legends, the then Rajpur ruler of Jaisalmer, Maharawal Jaisal Singh founded the city at the behest of a local hermit named Eesaal, whom he respected a lot. In order to ensure his safety he built the fort on the Trikut hill because its location made it quite inaccessible and he could keep a watch on his surroundings. This helped him to know the movements on his enemies well in advance. The main source of income of the Bhatti Rajput rulers in the past was through the collection of taxes from the passing caravans. Jaisalmer was situated on one of the very important routes which connected India to several counties including Persia, Egypt, Africa and many western countries. Thus, it was a very busy business route and provided ample opportunity for the Bhatti rulers to collect taxes and amass huge wealth.

jaisalmer city 2

Due to its peculiar location, it remained out of bounds of any invaders for a long time. Only when the Bhatti Rajput rulers dared to loot the imperial caravan carrying treasures of Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi, they incurred this wrath. He led a siege around Jaisalmer to concur it and the siege lasted for 9 long years. In the final battle for their independence, the then ruler of Jaisalmer, Raja Jaisimha ‘s son Duda died while fighting the forces of the sultan. In the subsequent years, the rulers of Jaisalmer maintained good relations with the Mughal emperors. However, they did not accept the British rule easily. In fact, Jaisalmer rulers were the last to sign the Instrument of Agreement with the British Government.

artificial lake

Besides being a place of historical importance, Jaisalmer is still a living town and a major tourist attraction in Rajasthan. Unlike other forts, a quarter of the town’s population still lives inside the fort. This spectacular fort houses a royal palace (Raj Mahal), Jain temples and many sites worth visiting. The walls of the fort are constructed out of red sandstone which assumes a lovely honey-gold hue as the sun sets.

jaisalmer fort

jaisalmer fort 2

gadi sagar temple

The people of Jaisalmer are very hospitable and are gifted with a lot of folk music, dance and art forms. The main means of transport in this part of the country are camels. One can enjoy a camel ride during a visit to this place.

camel safari

Jaisalmer has also got a rich cultural heritage and to display its rich past, the place has got a museum dedicated to the many artifacts used in the by-gone era. People interested in history would definitely enjoy a visit to this Government museum. In addition, there are mansions known as Havelis which used to the abodes of the rich, famous and powerful people belonging to the Raj Darbar of the rulers. These beautiful havelis were very well-crafted and are a piece of art and architecture of that time. Some of the most famous havelis are Patwon-ki-Haveli, Salman Sigh-ki-Haveli, Nathmalhi-ki-Haveli and Haveli Shreenath. A visit to these havelis will give you an idea of how lavishly the rich and powerful of that era lived.

havelis

havelis 2

People of Rajasthan are mostly vegetarian but they do prepare, serve and enjoy a variety of delicacies in their everyday life. A visit to Jaisalmer will definitely be satisfying to your culinary appetite besides capturing you with its magnificent sites and architecture. A visit to Jaisalmer will definitely prove memorable in all respects.

Leh Ladakh


If you’re a fan of adventure, then Ladakh is the place for you. One of the most exciting ways to explore the landscape wonders as well as the remote areas of Ladakh. Crossing the Khardungla pass, considered to be one of the highest motor able roads in the world is a high like never before. Moreover, Ladakh is also a paradise for trekking and mountaineering due to its high peaks and mountains. You can also take part in and enjoy a number of fairs and festivals like the Losar festival, Hemis, Ladakh festival and tak-tok festival.

Ladakh is a part of Jammu & Kashmir in the north of India. It consists of two districts Leh and Kargil.

 

The district headquarters is based in Leh. Leh district consists of Leh town and 112 inhabited villages and one un-inhabited village. The total population of Leh district is 1.17 lacs. It is the second least populated district of Jammu and Kashmir, after Kargil.

 

mountains covered with snow

leh-ladakh

amidst mountains

There are several ways of reaching Leh but it depends on the route that would be open. Srinagar and Manali are the two major gateways to Leh Ladakh. Ladakh was under the administration of Leh until the 1st of July, 1979, when the Kargil and Ladakh administrative districts were created. Religion had been the cause of a lot of distress between Buddhists and Muslims since the late 20th century and was one of the main contributors of this division. Tibetan and Buddhist cultures have prevailed for centuries now in these two places of India. A lot of Buddhist monasteries are prominent pilgrimage centers in the country. Its colorful gompas have attracted devout Buddhists from all over the world.

Buddhist Monastery

 

 

camp

 

Travelers flock to this beautiful destination from all over the globe. It has plenty to experience and explore. The most impressive is the royal palace known as Leh Palace. The palace, which overlooks Leh, has a certain mystery to it. It was constructed by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century. According to history, it was later abandoned as the Kashmiri armies surrounded in the mid 19th century and the royal family that was residing here earlier moved to Stok Palace on the southern bank of the Indus. The palace comprises of nine stories of which the upper floors are meant for the royal families whereas the lower floors function as stables and store rooms. Exploring the palace from the inside will make you reminiscent of the days gone by.

 

mountains with sea

near the lake

clouds reflecting on the lake

Leh is the second largest district in the country with an area of 45, 100 square kilometers. It is at an altitude of 3524 meters. The district is constrained by Pakistan occupying Kashmir in the west and Ghanche district, China in the north. Aksai Chin and Tibet are to the east, Kargil district to the west and Lahul and Spiti of Himachal Pradesh to the south.

 

trekking

jeep tour

Leh-Ladakh is truly a voyage into the most magnificent peak and religious zone of the world. The best time to visit Lakadh is from the months of June to September which are its summer months.

 

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