Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Temple like never before - Bullet Temple



India is a land of diversity, home to many great religions of the world. This diversity has made people believe and worship different kinds of deities. They vary from trees to rivers and snakes to cows. However a small village in Pali district of Rajasthan has the distinction one of the rarest and weirdest temples ever known or seen.

 Having heard a lot from fellow travelers visiting the famous Om Banna temple aka Bullet temple was indeed a must for me. On Pali – Jodhpur highway in a small village called Chotila lies a temple of Royal Enfield 350 cc Bullet Motorcycle.

I crossed the mountains of Aravali region in Rajsamand and reached the jodhpur highway. The Sun has gone down the horizon when I reached the temple. The temple is situated just on the highway. While I was boarding off the bus, the conductor gave me a twenty rupees note and asked me to give it inside the temple.


The temple or shrine whatever you may call it is an open space where Royal Enfield bike is kept inside a glass box and a Dias is made where a pandit sits.Besside him lies a photograph of Om banna. Banna is a term coined in the local dialect for older brother and often referred to sons of village Thakur or landlord.Inside the temple premises I saw two guys serving country liquor to the priest. I put my twenty rupees in a box kept there for offerings.

A man was sitting there with a harmonium. I went to him to get a insight about the place and its history.. The story goes:
Om banna was the son of local village chief. One day he was riding his Royal enfield when he met with an accident just outside the present temple complex. He died on the spot. Police seized the bike and took it to police station however to their horror next morning the bike was found at the same place near the tree. Police again took the bike to police station but again it was found at the same accident spot the next morning. This went on for quite few days and villagers started to feel the bike has spirit of Om Banna. They built a shrine at the same spot and since then he is considered a good omen for all drivers on that highway. They say if you offer praying to Om Banna, you won’t be harmed by anything on the highway.

These  places make me understand as to  why India is considered to be a land of stories and how each story may have a history behind it. It depends on each of us that how much we believe it but it helps me get motivated and find more fascinating stories.  



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                                     Mysterious levitating stone of Shivapur
                                               Going the Hippies Way
                                       Karni Mata - temple dedicated to Rats

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Souvenir of Hadi Rani


a Rajput warrior with his horse

As a part of rural tourism in Rajasthan, I had visited few villages in Salumbar region of Udaipur. After travelling to few villages of Bheel community, I was waiting for Rajasthan State Road transport bus when it started to rain. Due to the heavy Rain, I was totally drenched and therefore decided to ask for shelter from one of the villagers.

I reached the doorstep of the closest house and knocked the door. An elderly person, maybe in eighties opened the door and asked me to get comfortable. When I told him I am traveling all of Rajasthan and collecting stories about the rich culture of the state. He told me there is a story which not many know, but is an incredible part of the heritage of Rajasthan. It is one of the greatest stories of courage and duty. I urged him to tell me the story and he gently agreed. A kid had brought tea from inside and we took our cup and on the sip of tea, he started telling the story:

This story is about a princess, popularly called as Hadi Rani in Rajasthan. She was a Rajput princess married to Ravat Chudawat from Mewar region.  With her came happiness into the region .Ravat loved her wife a lot, but destiny had some other plan for them. Only a week had passed since their marriage when Ravat got a message from King of Mewar that Aurangzeb has attacked their kingdom and he would need his help in the war. Ravat was very furious and didn’t want to go to war front leaving his beloved wife.

Seeing affection of his husband, Hadi Rani tried very hard to convince him to go to war as it is his Dharma being a Rajput to fight for his motherland. After much perceptiveness, Ravat agreed to go to war to help king of Mewar.

 Gyandarpan.com

When Ravat was leaving for War, his affection towards his newly wedded bride stopped him at the gate of the Rani’s palace. He told a servant to go and tell Rani in her palace that he would not be 
leaving his wife alone and would not be going to the battle field.

The Servant went inside and came with a platter covered with a piece of cloth. He was told it is a gift from Rani for his husband. Ravat removed the cloth and was stunned seeing his wife head lying on the platter.

Rani had cut her head and presented it to his husband as it was her love which was stopping Ravat from fulfilling his Dharma. Seeing this sacrifice from her love, Ravat vowed to fight till his last breath. It is said he fought bravely in the battle and became a martyr in the war.

With these words he finished his story. I was stunned by the tale of Hadi Rani and my interests got more deepen about the rich heritage of Rajasthan.


Till then the rain had also stopped and I took farewell from my host. I was boarding the bus, but the story of Hadi Rani was again and again haunting me and I thought to share her tale with the rest of the world.


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                                                                                 ALSO READ


                                     Mysterious levitating stone of Shivapur
                                               Going the Hippies Way
                                       Karni Mata - temple dedicated to Rats

Thursday, April 30, 2015

11 things to do in Mumbai


Mumbai, the city that never sleeps is the most vibrant and lively place in India. You never feel as if the city is quiet and you are all alone in this maximum city. As a small town guy Mumbai excites me, frightens me, amuse me and guide me in various aspects of life.
I have tried to create a list that what are those 11 things that any new Mumbaikar should do in the city.

1) Heritage Walk in Fort - Fort is one of those areas which was established during the British Era and stores the rich heritage and culture of Bombay. Any new person should definitely take a Heritage walk around the by lanes of the area.

2) Visit Religious places - Mumbai is hub of the Multi cultural cities of India. Bombay has those amazing religious sites which are really hard to miss. Probably because you will need the blessings of the all mighty most in this city than any other. Siddhi Vinayak Temple and Hazi Ali Dargah are most visited places, but you can also see the Zoroastrians Fire temples in the city.
Courtsey - wikipedia

3) Gastronomic tour of Mohammad Ali Road - Mohammad Ali is considered Chandni Chowk of Bombay. Bohri mohalla along with Mohammad Ali Road was once the hub of the Bombay Underworld, but now it is the Gastronomic epicenter of the city. Noor Mohammadi Hotel and Bara Handi are one of my favourite eating joints of the place.

4) Take a tour of Goregaon Film City -  Goregaon film City is the place where each movie buff will love to visit. As one passes by each Studio, you can feel the Nostalgia about the place and will try to connect each place with the movies you have watched.

5) Feel the power of Theater at Prithvi Theater - Named after the great Prithvi Raj Kapoor, this theater was founded by Shashi Kapoor. It is one of the most iconic place for any theater lovers. Great artists like Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi regularly performs their plays here, and if you are lucky you can get a chance to meet them too.

6) Take a ferry to Elephanta Caves - When their's too much traffic on the road, you an take a ferry ride and visit the ancient, 1500 years old Elephanta Caves which is situated on an island around 10 kms from the Mumbai harbour.

7) Visit your favourite star's house - In a country like India, where Cricketers and Bollywood stars hold the position next to the all mighty one, people are crazy about them and a way to experience that craziness is to visit your favourite star's house. Whether its Mannat for Shahrukh, Jalsa for Amitabh or Galaxy apartments for Salman, crazy fans always queue up outside their houses and if you are extremely lucky, you can meet your favourite stars as well.
Note - Every Sunday evening, Amitabh bachchan greets his fans outside his house Jalsa.

courtesy - ibnlive.com

8) Watch a movie in a heritage cinema hall - Perhaps when you were not born and your parents may be young kids, Bombay had perhaps first and most amazing movie theaters in the country. I know it sounds pretty old age thought, but you need to watch a movie at Regal or Eros to feel that old age charm of Bollywood.

9) Visit last remaining Irani cafes - Bombay is a pioneer to the last remaining Parsi Cafes of this country. Britannia or Kyani are like institutions in the city. Irani chai with Bun-Muska was the signature dish of town. One can not miss coming and visiting these iconic cafes.

10) Watch Sunrise/Sunset on the beach - If you are a morning person then you have to come to any beach of the city. You will find an all together different city in the morning time. It would be the city that is quiet, a city which has less traffic and it is the only time of the day when you can breathe fresh and non-polluted air in town. Similarly, watching Sunset is highly recommended and they are best enjoyed in Chowpatty having amazing street foods.

11) Sit and do nothing at Marine Drive/Band Stand - In a city where everybody is running, there are very few places where you can sit and do nothing. Marine drive and Band Stand are the most hot favourite place for the love birds, but you can also go there all alone and feel the waves coalition with the stones. I guarantee you can spend hours here doing nothing but just watching the love between the sea and the maximum city.

I hope you will enjoy doing these fun things. Also, if you have any cool things to add, do let me know. I will love to try them.

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                                                                                 ALSO READ


                                     Mysterious levitating stone of Shivapur
                                               Going the Hippies Way
                                       Karni Mata - temple dedicated to Rats

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ultimate guide of Eating Out in Pune



I am born and brought up in North India but am living in Pune for last four years. This is the place I call home. I love eating out and on various occasions people keep asking me about my favorite eating places in Pune or where they can find Best Punjabi or best Biryani in town. So I thought let’s make a list of my favorite places to eat in Pune so that it can be a reference to someone searing for some good food options.

Before starting my list, I am making few confessions to help you understand how I made the list.

  • Let me clear you that it totally depends on my taste. People taste differs and it can happen that you don’t like a place where I love to eat.
  • It’s also not correct to say that I have eaten at all places in Pune and then I am making a list out of that.
  • I am not a fan in eating at those five star restaurants and only visit them when it is sponsored by someone else.
  • I will not include any chain restaurants or places which I think is not Puneri.
  • I am a teetotaler and don’t eat Bacon. So, my list will not be including any such dishes.

The list is categorized on the basis of regional and meal types. I will include any new entry from my time to time basis.

Maharashtrian 

Veg Pune is considered the cultural capital of Maharashtra and serves most authentic Maharashtrian food. My favorite place is Poona Guest house on Laxmi Road. It serves some of the most outstanding Maharashtrian food in town. Must try would be their Gramin Thali. The next option would be Sabree on FC Road, which is a fine dining restaurant. I would also like to include numerous small stalls on Sinhgad fort which serves Pitla – Bhakri and truly makes a Puneri experience.

Non Veg/Coastal – Maharashtra being on Western coast of India, Sea food is part of the staple diet of the locals. My pick would be Fish Curry Rice in Narayan Peth, Nisarg in Erandwane and Satkar Rice plate house, Sinhagad Road.

Bengali

I love eating fish and no one makes it better than the Bengalis. Khadki area in Pune has a significant amount of Bengali population and so we can find quite nice Bengali places to eat there. My favorite is Deep restaurant in Aundh road, Khadki. After that Babu Moshai is probably rarest place in Pune to find authentic Bengali sweets. My other favorite Bengali eating places include Rocking Adda in Viman Nagar and Food and Snax in baner.

Chinese

 There are quite good places which serves real good Chinese food. My pick would be Chinese room on East street. Uncle Chinese in KP and China grill in Wanowarie.

Asian 

With growing Metro culture in the city, many restaurants have been opened which serve dishes from Pan-Asia. My all time favorite in this category would be Malaka spice, Koregaon Park. Other picks would be Maroo , Aundh which serves Korean food and Smiley house, Aundh which serves Vietnamese food.

Pure Veg/Brahmin 

People who prefer Pure Veg restaurants, the city has some very decent options for you. I will pick Kalyani Veg in Kalyani Nagar, Cream Corner in East Street and Radha Krishna in MG Road.

Keralite

From all the southern states of India, I think Kerela has most diverse and tasty food options.  With a decent Malayali population, Pune has some very interesting food options. My pick would be Curry leaves in baner and Kerela fast food in Khadki.

Udupi/South India 

My best Dosa place would undoubtedly be Vaishali and Wadeshwar on FC Road. The 7 am breakfast in Vaishali is kind of a thing that no one should miss.

 Punjabi

Punjabi cuisine is such a widespread cuisine across India that almost all restaurants have that in their Menu. So, it’s quite difficult to pick your favorites from these many options. I will pick some places based on their dishes.
Mona food in Camp serves best Chole-Bhature in town while Amritsari Machchi in Kondhwa has authentic fish recipes straight from Amritsar. I also love Happy Singh da Kitchen in Baner as I find its taste very close to real Punjabi food.

Thali places

I am a Sukanta, Deccan loyalist as I am eating there since the time I have came to Pune. However, there are many other great places and serves mouth-watering food. Some of my other favorites include Bhagat Tarachand in Laxmi Road and Bhoj Restaurent in Sadashiv Peth.

Parsi/Irani

Pune is a blessed city as it has some of the most awesome Parsi and Irani joints. Some of the most legendary food places in Pune are owned by Parsis. My all time favourite is Café Good luck, FC Road and Vohuman Café, Sasoon Road. Dorabjee in Camp is also an iconic plate for authentic Parsi food.

Street Food 

Veg– Street food is the best medium of discovering a place. Pune’s culture can also be searched in the small lanes of old city. As far as street food is concerned, the legends are Garden Wada pav center in Camp, Bedekar Misal in Narayan peth, Durga café in Kothrud and Supreme Pav bhaji on JM Road. I also love simple breakfast in Appa chi Canteen, Deccan.

Non-Veg – It’s not easy for a Meat eater to find taste in Non-Veg street foods but once he does find such a place nothing can replace that love. My favorites include some places which are opened all over the year like Hotel Madina near Poona college and Mancho fries, Camp and there are some places which are opened only for sometime of the year like Imdadi Caterers which serve food only in the month of Ramzaan. 

Breakfast

I am not a morning person so generally my breakfast timing is not perfect but Punekars like their breakfast on time and should equally be perfect. My favorite breakfast places are Yogi Tree, Koregaon Park and German Bakery, koregaon Park. But if someone wants to start their day with some meat then Diamond Queen in M G Road should be tried for their Keema pav.

European/Western/Continental

I am not a fan of Western food but have figured out my picks. Some of them are Burger barn café in Koregaon Park, Shisha Jazz café, ABC farm and High Spirits,KP.

Non-Veg/Awadhi/Biryani 

I will not pick many in this list as some of them have already been included earlier but if there is one place where you should try Non-Vegetarian food then that should be Baghban , East street. There food taste reminds you of legends around the old lanes of Delhi and Lucknow.
Biryani in Pune is kind of Marathwada biryani as spices used are different that of Delhi and Lucknow. I like the way they cook in Hyderabad, the dum style of biryani and it is best found in Blue Nile, Camp and George in East street. Apart from these iconic places, there is a very small place in Hinjewadi called A-1 biryani which is kind of my favorite.

Deserts

Pune has some of its very own deserts which are 100% Puneri. They are born and nourished here in the city and hold a cult status. The deserts like Mastani which is best found in Sujata or in Gujjar Mastani are authentic Puneri. The other Desert worth mentioning is CAD(B) and CAD(M) which are only found in Pune.

Food Souvenirs 
Just for someone not from Pune and wants to take some food souvenirs from the city, you should try for Shrewsbury biscuits from Kayani bakery, Bhakarwadi from Chitale Bandhu and Wafers from Budhani Wafers.


I hope the list helps you in some or other form and if you have any suggestions or recommendations for me, do let me know.


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Saturday, March 21, 2015

The mysterious levitating stone of Shivapur

Front side of Dargah

The quest for untold and unusual places had brought us to a small village near Pune. The village called Shivapur is known for an unusual Dargah of a 15th century saint named Qamar ali darvesh.

Someone from the twitter world had shared an image about the place and from there only I came to know about the story behind it. Till then, I was not aware about this fascinating story. So, Shivapur has a Dargah of a saint named Qamar ali darvesh and apart from that Dargah it has a large stone in its complex. The story goes like this that whenever eleven people will try to lift the stone by their index finger shouting the name of Qamar ali darvesh. They would be able to lift the stone above their head and if there are more or less people trying the same thing they won’t be able to lift it up.
A man trying to lift it all alone



I don’t believe in these kinds of stories and decided to check that out. We reached Shivapur and easily found the Dargah. There were a lot of pilgrims who had come to take the blessings of the saint. An elderly person seated in the courtyard told us that long ago, there was an evil kind of person who used to trouble villagers a lot. Villagers asked Baba’s help and he turned that evil into a stone. He told his followers they will play with this stone from then onwards. They can raise it and flump it on the ground. When eleven of his followers will use their finger together and shout his name they will be able to raise the stone above their head. Even if they don’t shout his name or there are more or less people trying the same thing, they won’t succeed.

I tried raising it all alone, but was able to raise it more than a few inches. The stone must be around more than 100 kgs. But when eleven of us tried to raise it just by our index fingers. It got raised above our head and it seemed it was levitating. There was not much force applied by us. It was kind of a unique experience for me.


I am not sure the science behind this story but it forced me to think unexplainable and the fact that India is filled with these kinds of stories, it is just that we need to find them out.



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