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A Day Out in Munnar

Posted by Admin on June 1, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/photos/a-day-out-in-munnar-slideshow/

A Day Out in Munnar

Munnar, which means confluence of three rivers, was the summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. In the late 19th century, A.H. Sharp planted the first tea bush and since then tea has been the main agricultural crop in the region. Today, the hills around Munnar are blanketed with best-in-class green tea bushes. With its sprawling tea plantations, pristine valleys and mountains and cool air, it’s no surprise that Munnar was rated the second-best Asian travel destination, only second to Tokyo.Our editor CLINT THOMAS had a day out in Munnar and captured its poetic beauty. Enjoy this virtual tour.

munnar

Munnar, which means confluence of three rivers, was the summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. In the late 19th century, A.H. Sharp planted the first tea bush and since then tea has been the main agricultural crop in the region. Today, the hills around Munnar are blanketed with best-in-class green tea bushes. With its sprawling tea plantations, pristine valleys and mountains and cool air, it’s no surprise that Munnar was rated the second-best Asian travel destination, only second to Tokyo.

munnar

If you are a true admirer of nature, Munnar is your dream destination and cruising along winding smooth roads across mist-sheeted lush green tea gardens is the finest experience you can ever have.

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Around every corner is another stunning view. You do not need a map or a guide; all you need is a good pair of shoes and the curiosity to see what is around the next curve. You need not necessarily be a shutterbug; random clicks can get you incredible photographs.

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On the way to Munnar, some 22 kms before reaching there, I stopped by Anayirankal dam, a vast expanse of water surrounded by green carpeted hills covered with tea gardens. The distant view of the reservoir follows you for another 15 kms and it’s an excellent location for photography.

munnar

Does this picture suggest land’s end? It virtually is. This is Top Station, which is 41 kms uphill from Munnar. Located at the border of Kerala and Tamilnadu, this spot offers an ‘awebreathtakingsome’ panoramic view. Strolling down this pathway with steep abyss on both sides is adventurous, rather risky, but the view you get there is one of a kind.

munnar

The dude who poses here is Varayadu or Nilgiri Tahr, stocky goats with short, coarse fur and a bristly mane. Nilgiri Tahr is an endangered mountain ungulate listed in schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Eravikulam National Park which has the highest density and largest surviving population of this species is situated hardly 14 kms from Munnar town. Know more about this endangered species.

munnar

At every other corner you will find women with baskets full of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget to bargain and buy tender carrots, passion fruits and wild tomatoes, all farm fresh and delicious.

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Anamudi is the highest peak in the Western Ghats situated at a height of 2,695 metres (8,842 feet) above mean sea level. It is located in the southern part of Eravikulam National Park, fifty kilometers from Munnar. It is also the ideal place for wildlife travelers and nature lovers. It literally means “Elephant forehead”.

munnar

13 kms away from Munnar, Mattupetty is famous for its highly specialised dairy farm, the Indo-Swiss project. More than 100 varieties of high yielding cattle are reared here. The Mattupetty Lake and Dam, just a short distance from the farm, is a gorgeous picnic spot. The sprawling Kundala tea plantations, Kundala Lake and the echo point are other attractions in the vicinity. A boat cruise on the lake is the best way to enjoy the leisure.

munnar

Bristling with wildlife and crystal clear streams, the enticing charm of Munnar is simply irresistible. The area has many attractions within a short distance of the town of Munnar, including the Sandalwood Forest of Marayoor and the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.

munnar

munnar

Posted in India Forgotten, Nature, Picturesque | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Day Out in Munnar

Reputed websites under hacker threat: CERT-In

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/reputed-websites-under-hacker-threat-125757525.html

IANS – Sun 27 May, 2012 6:27 PM IST

New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Websites of reputed government and private organisations are under threat from hackers, the Computer Emergency Response Team India (CERT-In) has said, warning users to be extra cautious while using the internet.

“It is observed that some hacker groups are launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on websites of government and private organisations in India. The attacks may be targeted to different websites of reputed organisations,” CERT-In, the national nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents, said in an advisory on its website.

“These attacks are being launched through popular DDoS tools and can consume bandwidth requiring appropriate proactive actions in coordination with service providers,” it said.

The agency has asked users to deploy adequate security systems to deal with these attacks originating through DDoS.

As a counter measure, it has also suggested that the users review traffic patterns and if there is any rise, this should be reported to the agency.

In a recent written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot said 112 government websites, including that of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), were hacked in just three months – Dec 2011 to Feb 2012.

These hacked websites belonged to the agencies in the governments of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Sikim and Manipur.

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Reputed websites under hacker threat: CERT-In

IPL: The Dirty Picture

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

http://cricket.yahoo.com/news/ipl–the-dirty-picture-.html

By Bhavna Vij-Aurora, Dhiraj Nayyar and Shantanu Guha Ray | India Today – Mon 28 May, 2012 1:01 PM IST

By Bhavna Vij-Aurora, Dhiraj Nayyar and Shantanu Guha Ray

A late-night bust-up involving charges of molestation and assault at a hotel suite in Delhi booked in the name of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Deccan Chargers on May 18. An early morning Income Tax raid at the offices of Pune Warriors and Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 23 following a TV sting operation in which five fringe players were caught striking deals on spot-fixing and switching teams for more money. A brawl at Wankhede Stadium leading to a five-year ban by the Mumbai Cricket Association on Shah Rukh Khan on May 16. It was a week from hell for IPL. And the week promised to stretch into a long year.

Around 6.30 p.m. on May 22, Zohal Hamid, 27, was giving yet another live interview on her now famous charge of molestation by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) player Luke Pomersbach. The incident acquired bizarre momentum, especially after her ‘fiance’ Sahil Peerzada, 33, was hit by Pomersbach and she turned out to be close to a defence agent. India Today was present at the plush farmhouse of her “rakhi” brother Abhishek Verma, an accused in the naval war room leak and under investigation for his suspected role in defence deals. Sahil made a dramatic entry while she was on camera. “How dare you speak to the media without my permission?” he asked. Zohal placated him and they then drove off in Verma’s Hyundai Sonata. Both she and Sahil then went incommunicado. Clearly, they had received instructions to go quiet. Some deal had been struck to cover up an intoxication-fuelled, unscripted drama that threatened to blow apart the nocturnal mix of sex and money that plays behind the televised scenes of IPL. Sahil and Zohal met their lawyer Rajneesh Chopra who had worked out a compromise with RCB owner Sidhartha Mallya, who had so charmingly described Zohal’s allegations against Pomerbasch as a “load of f…..g s..t” in a tweet. On May 22, Zohal agreed to withdraw her case against Pomersbach and drop the defamation threat against Mallya, who has not even deigned to remove the offending tweets from his account-another said “what this girl is doing is idiotic”. On May 23, though, he tweeted, “So glad all charges have been dropped and Luke can return Down Under a free man!”, followed by “Oh and btw, I know ppl can be cynical, so just so u know, the settlement wasn’t financial in any way!”

These shenanigans took TV cameras into the bedroom, the last thing IPL wanted as its oversold carnival becomes a sordid circus. The manufactured silence was designed to avoid some basic questions:

  • Why did Deccan Chargers book a Rs 20,000-a-day suite for Sahil at ITC Maurya?
  • What is Sahil’s connection, if any, with cricket and IPL?
  • What is Zohal’s real link with Sahil? She claims he is her “fiance”. Sahil is a trifle hesitant about the honour.
  • Why was Zohal sleeping in Sahil’s suite if she was not booked there?
  • Why were two men, Miraj and Moin, sleeping in Sahil’s room?
  • Why was RCB hosting an after-party despite an IPL ban on them in 2010?

The mystery became more mysterious with Verma’s involvement. His former New York-based business partner and lawyer C. Edmonds Allen claims that Zohal was an employee of Ganton Indian Private Limited, and that he recommended her for a visa to visit India on Verma’s request last year. Allen is the president of Ganton, which he claimed he set up to handle $205 million (Rs 1,127 crore) made by Verma through arms deals and lobbying for defence firms. Verma denies any link with Ganton and claims that Zohal too has nothing to do with Ganton. He says “my wife Anca Neacsu is best friends with Zohal” and recommended her for an Indian visa through Allen.

THE BOOKIE UNDERBELLY

Born in Afghanistan to an Afghan father and an Iranian mother, Zohal’s family migrated to US in the late 1980s. Now an American citizen, she works for a cosmetics company in New York as a sales manager. She did part of her schooling in India, where she picked up conversational though accented Hindi. She went to Rutgers University in New York. After watching her first IPL match on May 17, goes her story, she landed at the RCB party and in the room booked by Deccan Chargers at ITC Maurya. Every answer begs a further question.

But Rajiv Shukla, who took over as the IPL commissioner in September 2011 and is also a Union minister, has no answers, except an evasive one. “I am the IPL commissioner, not police commissioner. I have nothing to do with what is happening in the hotel room.” The fact that he mentioned “police commissioner” involuntarily speaks for itself. He believes media is exaggerating the problems of the league by highlighting stray off-field incidents. He does not deny knowing Sahil Peerzada. “He is the son of a Congressman,” he says. Sahil’s father, Peerzada Ghulam Mohammed, who died in 1994 at the age of 52, was a ticketing agent at the Sopore (J&K) bus stand in the 1970s, and went on to become a junior-level Congress leader. The family migrated to Mumbai in 1992.

Sahil’s brother, Feroze, says he has a real estate business in Mumbai, as well as two Kashmir handicrafts showrooms at the Leela in Bangalore and near Pavilion Mall in Kuala Lumpur. But Sahil’s reputation has been made in bedrooms rather than boardrooms. He is a serial dater of semi-famous women such as TV actors Shama Sikander and Gauhar Khan. Deccan Chargers is silent about why they rented such an expensive suite for him. Manjula Harpanahalli, media coordinator for Deccan Chargers, told India Today that they had no comments to offer. Repeated calls and text messages to E. Venkatram Reddy, director (operations), Deccan Chargers, went unanswered.

Investigating agencies are silent but taking a keen interest in the events. They have been busy. There has long been a suspicion that IPL is a breeding ground for bookies. Days before the start of the tournament, CID officers of Mumbai Police traced a conference of bookies from all over India huddled inside a five-star hotel room in Mumbai to plan their strategy: Essentially, to cooperate in the milking of those who like a flutter.

On May 17, when Chennai Super Kings was taking on Kings XI Punjab, Arun Chavan, head of Mumbai Police’s Property Cell, arrested two well-known bookies from a Lokhandwala flat. Devendra Kothari, 42, and Sonu Jalan, 30, were taking bets on the crucial match. Both were arrested immediately and 20 mobile handsets, a dozen SIM cards, two laptops, two voice recorders and an LCD T recovered. They led the police to another bookie, Mohammad Feroze Ansari, 38, from Nagpada in Mumbai. On May 19, the police arrested him too. The probe has now moved to Delhi. A team from Mumbai Police left for Delhi on May 21. Their goal: Check the truth in Kothari’s claim that he paid Rs 10 crore to a Sri Lankan cricketer to fix a one-day international match in 2006. “We cannot reveal the name of the Sri Lankan player. Investigations are still on,” said Mumbai Additional Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nangre-Patil.

In Delhi, the police confirmed that Kothari and Jalan were part of a global betting racket and among 170 suspects scheduled to visit Sri Lanka to fix matches. “There was to be a meeting in Colombo in anticipation of the fourth T20 World Cup which will take place in Sri Lanka. But it was cancelled,” says Brijesh Kumar Gupta, Delhi’s police commissioner. The police’s suspicions about a Colombo meeting were confirmed when a woman they picked up on May 19 from Delhi for possessing cocaine confessed to her involvement in the betting racket and said she was to travel to Colombo. On May 24, Delhi Police busted a betting racket in west Delhi, unearthing a mini-telephone exchange comprising 113 lines used for transmitting information about rates to over 300 betting syndicates across India.

India’s betting laws date back to the Public Gambling Act of 1867. Bail, therefore, is guaranteed for a paltry Rs 100 and allows bookies to get free within days of their arrest. No one has bothered to change this. “There’s very little time for questioning. And rarely are the big fish netted because the bookie chain is inordinately long,” says Gupta. This year alone, Delhi Police conducted more than 75 raids on bookies in Delhi and arrested over 100 people placing bets on IPL, the highest since the tournament started four years ago. The core problem hampering investigations is that there is no complaint, says Gupta.

ULTIMATE SECRET SOCIETY

Cricket is hardly the primary activity in IPL. The large, growing and dark circle around the field includes a secret society of franchise owners, pretty party girls and men of unknown means. Presiding over this is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which has ensured lack of transparency. BCCI is a registered society completely autonomous from the Government. It only started paying income tax in 2007 after authorities decided that it wasn’t simply a charitable organisation “promoting the sport of cricket”. In the effort to become successful, IPL has cut corners. Interpol wanted to investigate the bookie phenomenon and and asked for Rs 90 crore as expenses, just as it had asked FIFA when it set out to investigate football sleaze. FIFA paid. International Cricket Council (ICC) President Sharad Pawar refused. Very conveniently, ICC’s Anti Corruption Unit was hired. “If ICC had hired Interpol, cricket’s cleansing process would have begun. But that did not happen,” says Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken.

In 2011, IPL had hit a ratings low. A new model was sought to be created, as highlighted in broadcaster Set Max’s ads which encouraged viewers to watch the game on the ground. Rajiv Shukla says that the average gate receipts for the 2012 season will be Rs 30 crore for each franchise. He also argues that the decline in TAM TRP ratings, from an average of 4.81 in IPL-1 to 3.33 in IPL-5 so far, is misleading because the goalposts have changed. “The ratings of even the most popular entertainment programmes have fallen as a result. IPL is still doing very well on television,” he says. Shukla is also buoyant about overseas revenues.

EVADING THE TAX NET

All nine IPL franchises have been under the scanner of the Income Tax Department after a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance in July 2011 instructed tax officials to scrutinise the accounts of all IPL teams. What aroused the suspicion of the Standing Committee was a wide discrepancy between the annual financial returns statements for the assessment year 2008-09 and the assessment year 2009-10. For the year 2008-09, also the first year of IPL, three of the eight franchises, Mumbai, Chennai and Deccan Chargers, showed nil loss. The remaining five showed minor losses-Rajasthan Rs 6 lakh, Punjab Rs 14 lakh, Kolkata Rs 50 lakh, Bangalore Rs 79 lakh and Delhi Rs 2.92 crore. In 2009-10, each franchise reported huge losses-Rajasthan Rs 35.5 crore, Punjab Rs 65.68 crore, Kolkata Rs 11.85 crore, Mumbai Rs 42.89 crore, Chennai Rs 19.3 crore, Bangalore Rs 5.58 crore, Deccan Rs 87.09 crore and Delhi Rs 47.11 crore.

There was no particular reason why losses should have mounted so steeply. The player auctions had been conducted before IPL-1. The cost of players would be the same for IPL-2. The revenue streams would have been greater-the success of IPL drew more advertisers and spectators to the second edition. The only reason for higher costs was the move to South Africa, but that alone could not explain the wide discrepancies. According to sources at the Income Tax Department, while the assessment is complete, investigation is ongoing and franchises have been asked to furnish details.

There are several other issues of apparent financial irregularities red-flagged in the report of the Standing Committee. At least four teams-Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians- received investments from abroad from tax havens such as Mauritius, Bahamas and British Virgin Islands. BCCI, in its reply to the committee, put all the blame on former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi. Even if true, and that is not proven, how does this exonerate the franchise owners who got the money from questionable unnamed sources? The Enforcement Directorate (ED), charged with investigating these violations, said its investigations have not been completed.

Even BCCI and IPL are under investigation by ED and Reserve Bank of India for operating bank accounts along with Cricket South Africa during IPL-2 without permission. IPL Commissioner Shukla shrugs aside the allegations of financial irregularities, just as he dismisses anything in convention with his usual bluster.

PLAYERS DON’T HAVE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

There are other problems, inbuilt into IPL, which have created irregular incentives for players. In 2010, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was banned from season 3 of IPL for trying to negotiate a contract in violation of league rules. Jadeja, who at the time had not played for the IndianTP Sudhindra national team, was entitled to a salary of Rs 25 lakh, not more, set by the IPL Governing Council. Already a rising star in his franchise, Rajasthan Royals, Jadeja believed he deserved more money. This perverse rule on pay caps for Indian players who have never represented the country has made them vulnerable to the lure of illegal negotiations with franchises and offers from bookies. Curiously, no such cap is applicable to foreign players who have not represented their countries.

A recent TV sting operation on five Indian players who have never represented India revealed the dangerous consequences. The players- TP Sudhindra (Deccan Chargers), Shalabh Srivastava (Kings XI Punjab), Mohnish Mishra (Pune Warriors), Amit Yadav (Kings XI Punjab) and Abhinav Bali-were caught on camera either offering to indulge in spot-fixing or ready to negotiate with other franchises or admitting that their franchises paid them significantly more than the official figure, in cash. An underground economy is clearly thriving in IPL. Modi, the creator of IPL and commissioner in its first three editions, admits that not auctioning uncapped players was a mistake.

There are several possible reforms that can salvage the situation:

  • No player should be retained by a franchise without an auction. In 2008, for example, M.S. Dhoni was bought by Chennai Super Kings at the highest bid price of $1.5 million (Rs 7.5 crore). He was not put up for auction for the 2011 and 2012 seasons in which Gautam Gambhir came out on top with a bid price of $2.5 million (Rs 12.5 crore) from Kolkata Knight Riders. It would be unreasonable to expect Dhoni to have commanded anything less in an open auction.
  • The only players not subject to an auction in IPL-1 were the icon players-Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai), Rahul Dravid (Bangalore), Sourav Ganguly (Kolkata), Yuvraj Singh (Punjab) and Virender Sehwag (Delhi). Each was, however, to be paid a 10 per cent premium on the highest bid paid out by their team in the open auction. There was some transparency then. Now, with the icon system being replaced by the system of retaining players (icons or not), no one knows how much players are being paid, whether by cheque or in cash. Says Modi, “No one should be allowed to be retained. If a player is important for the franchise, let them bid for him.” Rajiv Shukla also recognises the opacity of retaining players. “We will consider revising this in our next Governing Council meeting,” he says.
  • There should be an independent regulator for sports. “No one is being able to self-regulate. If not for anything else, let the regulator look into the alleged financial bungling of the state cricket associations,” says Ajay Maken. “Put rules in place, things will start moving,” says Bishen Singh Bedi. The former Indian captain says it’s time BCCI auctions each player every year. “Let there be transparency, let us see who is paying what for whom. Let the juniors get a price for themselves so that they do not take money under the table,” adds Bedi.

POLITICS OF CRICKET

IPL would not have survived its serious flaws were it not for a strong cross-party political alliance lending its weight. Shukla is a prominent minister. Arun Jaitley, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, is on IPL’s Governing Council and heads its legal and disciplinary committee. The cricket establishment of BCCI and its regional components are packed with powerful politicians. Four are members of the Union Cabinet-Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar (ICC president), Congressmen C.P. Joshi (president, Rajasthan Cricket Association) and Vilasrao Deshmukh (president, Mumbai Cricket Association), and Farooq Abdullah (president of the J&K Cricket Association) of the National Conference. The quartet has successfully stalled Maken’s attempts to legislate a sports bill that will force BCCI to be more accountable. “What can I do if no one wants to clean the dirt from cricket?” says Maken.

Shukla says there is no need for BCCI to be under the Government. “We don’t take a penny from the Government. And we have made a global name for ourselves,” he says. The cricket establishment can count on some support from outside the Government. Apart from Jaitley, Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP and son of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, is president of his state’s cricket association which hosts IPL games at its stadium in Dharamshala. His party colleague, Kirti Azad, is however a staunch opponent of IPL and went on dharna demanding the abolishing of the league after its string of recent scandals. Azad said that India’s image was being spoilt at an international level because of IPL debauchery and that he has written a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to take action against IPL.

Politics is a power game, and for now Maken and Azad are weak before a muscular establishment. But a poisonous worm is corroding the IPL apple from within, and all the might of Pawar, Shukla and friends will not stop this disease from spreading, if they do not use a sharp scalpel.

– With Kiran Tare and Nishat Bari

Posted in Conspiracy Archives, India Forgotten, Press Releases, Rated R, Vigilant Citizen | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on IPL: The Dirty Picture

No impact of rupee slide on banks: SBI chief

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

IMG_9746_pcs_1 Same same but different. 500 In...

IMG_9746_pcs_1 Same same but different. 500 Indian Rupee (Photo credit: artist in doing nothing)

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/no-impact-rupee-slide-banks-145252120.html

IANS – Mon 28 May, 2012 8:22 PM IST

Bangalore, May 28 (IANS) The rupee’s slide against the dollar had no impact on Indian banking operations though profitability of importers would be affected, State Bank of India (SBI) chairman and managing director Pratip Chaudhary said Monday.

“There is no impact of a falling rupee on banks but it (slide) would strain the profitability of our importing customers, while exporting customers will have an advantage,” Chaudhary told reporters on the margins of a bank function here.

At the same time, despite currency volatility, the bank has seen higher remittances from non-resident Indians (NRIs) in their accounts to benefit from the conversion from dollar to rupee.

Owing to external and internal factors, the Indian rupee has weakened by 23 percent during the last five months, hitting a record low of Rs.56.40 May 23 but recovered slightly to trade in the Rs.54.80-Rs.55.50 range subsequently. It was trading at Rs.55.26 Monday.

Noting that further cut in interest rate would depend on government borrowings this fiscal (2012-13), the chairman said banks were borrowing at 8.5 percent (from the RBI) and lending (primary rate) to the corporate sector at nine percent and above as the government borrowings was at eight percent currently.

“Lowering of interest rate is largely determined by the rate at which the government borrows from the central bank. If the RBI cuts rates further, banks will be in a position to lower lending rate,” Chaudhury said after donating a Rs.8.40-lakh school bus to Angavikalara Ashakirana Trustat Davangere, about 260km from here, as a gift from the bank’s regional office.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) April 17 reduced key rates such as repo (repurchase) rate 50 basis points (0.5 percent) to 8 percent from 8.5 percent, resulting in the reverse repurchase rate decreasing to 7 percent from 7.5 percent for this fiscal (FY 2013).

The repo rate is the interest the central bank levies on short-term borrowings by commercial banks. The reverse repo rate is the interest on short-term lending. A cut in these rates rate reduces the cost of accessing funds for lending institutions.

As the SBI’s base lending rate was at 10 percent, lowest among state-run banks, it did not lower it further after the RBI’s rate cut.

“We have, however, reduced interest rates on loans for education and purchase of cars and to small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” Chaudhury added.

Posted in Economic Upheavals, India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on No impact of rupee slide on banks: SBI chief

How resilient is Indian economy?

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

Structure of the organised banking sector in I...

Structure of the organised banking sector in India. Number of banks are in brackets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/resilient-indian-economy-030000550.html

Equitymaster – 18 hours ago

The growth forecasts for Indian economy have recently been revised downwards. Reeling under gross mismanagement, the Indian economy seems to be in a state of mess. However, the Finance Minister feels otherwise. He believes that India is in a better position than other economies to deal with it on account of high savings rate and domestic demand along with regulatory mechanisms.

Given the current circumstances, the picture portrayed by Finance Minister is too rosy to be real. He draws support from a huge young population and hence a robust domestic demand, a strong Indian banking system and diversified exports base. However, with disturbances in the global economy, it is only logical to expect that demand of exported goods will slow down.

The role of major Asian economies, especially India and China, in running the global growth engine can’t be undermined. These economies have the advantage of a huge chunk of young population that will keep the demand vibrant and add to the productivity. However, while China is making the right moves by shifting focus to tap the domestic demand, India seems to have landed itself in a very precarious situation.

With twin deficits gaping us wide in our face and rupee in a free fall, an optimistic tone for Indian economy looks so out of place. Our regulatory mechanisms might have worked in the past; however, the country seems to be falling too short on action in policy front. This is keeping foreign investors at bay. The absence of domestic funds and lack of foreign investment will lead to infrastructural deficit thus wasting the potential of youngsters. It is said that tough times can teach a lot. Looks like our time to learn has come. Hope the Government stops fiddling while the country is burning and wakes up to the need of reforms before it is too late.

Posted in Economic Upheavals, India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on How resilient is Indian economy?

Temple-spotting in Cambodia

Posted by Admin on May 27, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/temple-spotting-in-cambodia-1331894564-slideshow/

Temple-spotting in Cambodia

Wait, don’t go back after visiting Angkor Wat. LAKSHMI SHARATH recommends five other breathtaking temples to see in Siem Reap

Note from the Admin : – Remember Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar(Burma), Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo, Papau New Guinea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia and the entire archipelago of the Philipines, all belonged to one large landmass of Oceania and Austra-lasia formerly known as Lemuria and where along with the main region of the Indian Sub-Continent of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka along with southern regions of Afghanistan or the North Western Frontier Provinces such as Sindh and Baluchistan were all part of a flourishing and glorious Hindu Empire. Their remnants today have been weathered away by winds, floods and erosions leaving only glimpses of what one could term as the closest of the Pre Antediluvian civilizations of our forgotten past to a state of supreme Utopia.

Cambodia

Thought Angkor Wat was synonymous with Siem Reap? Think again. Once you are done with the sunrise and sunset and the tour of Angkor Wat, do not head back to the next destination in Cambodia. Buy yourself a three-day Angkor pass and visit other marvelous temples and you will find a slice of ancient civilization waiting for you.

Cambodia

The gates of the fortified town Angkor Thom opens into a different world and Bayon would probably be your first stop. Like the faces that greet you at the gate, Bayon is carved with them as the towers give the impression of a mountain with small peaks. Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, this was the state temple of the ancient rulers. You will need at least a couple of hours to see this enormous temple complex. Spare some time to wander around the town of Angkor Thom. This is my favorite temple in Siem Reap.

Cambodia

You would probably remember this temple for the Angelina Jolie film Tomb Raider. As I walked around Ta Prohm, it was amidst a restoration process assisted by the Indian government. The trees, their long serpentine roots and sturdy trunks, beckon you here. The eyes follow them as they mysteriously curl around a boulder and add an element of wildness to a sculpture. It was believed to have been a temple monastery. Ta Prohm leaves you breathless as you watch the elements of nature and art create wild magic in front of you.

Cambodia

Preah Khan is another masterpiece that literally opens into a different world as you enter the portals of the temple. It was believed to have been a Buddhist university as well. The trees add a different dimension to the sculptures as you see them growing on the walls of the temple, almost holding onto them.

Cambodia

Banteay Srei is probably the smallest of the temples here and it is also one of the furthest from the Angkor complex. Carved in sandstone, this temple’s name I am told literally means Citadel of Women in reference to its beauty. The journey will take you about an hour, but it is worth spending every minute here.

Cambodia

The guides and the tuk tuk guys will highly recommend Pre Rup for the sunset and I found it rather quiet compared to the other sunset points This state temple is built a few kilometers away from Angkor town and stands on the way to Banteay Srei. The towers, built in laterite, sandstone and brick, glow in the evening sun as we spend a few quiet moments before returning to Siem Reap.

Cambodia

Five is a rather small number when it comes to the temples of Angkor and the monuments around Siem Reap. If you have more time, do check out the Roluos Group of temples – Bakong is beautiful ; or visit Kbal Spein or Kulen Mountains to see the River of thousand Shiva lingas – small stone carvings on the bed of the Siem Reap river.

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What it meant to be a Hindu for me

Posted by Admin on May 26, 2012

http://cosmicstories.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/what-it-meant-to-be-a-hindu-for-me/

What it meant to be a Hindu for me

Even before I opened my eyes for the first time in this world, I was a Hindu. I was a Hindu by default because I was born in a Hindu family. I was marked with this word. Although, I didn’t know what that word really meant, I used to write my religion as Hindu in all the school and college forms. I still do that.

In this essay, I am not going to argue about what Hindu really means. I will do that in the next Blog. In this Blog, I will rather tell my readers about what I have experienced and how I see Hinduism. I am not religious anymore. I wonder if I was ever so religious. I was born in a Brahmin Family in one of the most underdeveloped states in India. It is necessary to talk about my birthplace because it has a good significance here. An underdeveloped state means that most of my family members and almost all of the society were too much inculcated with the idea of religion. But, can we here make a comparison of extremely religious Muslim or Christian society with an extremely religious Hindu society? How did I find my way out of this trap of irrational religious beliefs? Simple! Because Hinduism generally does not enforces its beliefs on anyone.

My friends in west or Pakistan are unable to understand how a Hindu really lives or practices his faith. That is warranted because they compare Hinduism with their own prejudices and religion.

Muslims laugh on Hinduism thinking that Hindus worship a million gods in Idols and drink Cow piss (Yuck!). I never did that. Nor any of my family members ever did that too. We have a few cows in our farm-house but we only used them to get milk. Yes, we did have idols of Gods in our temple at home, but they were just 3 or 4 of different kinds. Nobody can build a temple of a million Gods.

This is Goddess Durga

Goddess Durga is worshiped as the principle God in our family and village. We do consider all other Hindu Gods like Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva. A Hindu can choose what God he wants to worship. We worshiped Durga and had idols of a few other Gods in our temple. How many times did we used to worship? Well! My father worships everyday but mostly it was unnecessary. Anyone could worship or just bow his head sometimes before the idol, anytime of the day or week or even month. There are no strict enforced laws for worshiping-Every Hindu is to himself.

Yesterday, a few boys came in my Room with a collection of audio jokes in their mobile. Some of these jokes were sexual and directed towards Hindu Gods. Everyone just laughed- Even my room-partner who is a staunch believer in Hinduism. Even he laughed when his God was brutally mocked in the joke. One important thing to say: Nobody was killed. I was so astonished to see that. How can a believing Hindu joke crudely on his Gods? But that is a relieving truth that I have lived from the last 25 years. Hindus do not just get angry and kill anyone for mocking their Gods. Just think about what would have happened to those boys if we were Muslims and their crude jokes were directed towards Muhammad. *Stoning*??

River Ganga is considered Holy in Hinduism. It is said that anyone who dies at its banks gets heaven as reward in afterlife. I have never considered Ganga as a Holy river. It is just like any other river. I used to say that before my other Hindu friends in my early youth. None of them ever replied back with an angry tone, saying that I was offending Hinduism. No! All the other Hindus would easily accept that it was my choice. Anyways, I love River Ganga as I would love River Nile; it has served for centuries as the cradle of civilization.

There is a concept of heaven and hell in Monotheistic religions. There is some concept like that in Hinduism too. But I don’t know any Hindus in my friend or family circle who really think or care about that. Though, they all believe in Hinduism but still they don’t have the knowledge of any Heaven or Hell. They just live their life easily, doing their everyday duties. I was never frightened with Hell. I have never done anything good only because of some reward of heaven. That’s just a way of life for ordinary Hindus. What most of the Hindus think is that when you die, your soul becomes a part of the greater soul (God) or based on your actions, you reincarnate.

All of my family members think that God is everywhere. He is the creator and sustainer of life. He answers prayers and he loves his creation. Many of the followers of like Christianity and Islam think that Hindus worship idols thinking that idols are God. But this is not true- Many Hindus only worship idols because they think that they are worshipping an infinite through the finite- that they are worshipping an unknowable thorough a knowable object.

All of the scholars of Hinduism agree that Hindu is not specifically a religious term. It is a nationalistic term which means people living to the east of river Indus. I call myself a Hindu because of that definition only. I was born in India, therefore I am a Hindu. Like in the same way, a person born in America is American.

Hinduism is a strange religion. It gives a lot of space to its believers to paint any picture of God that he/she likes. It is not prescriptive and even an Atheist can be a Hindu.

A person can be a Hindu, even if:

He worships daily or even rarely in a year.

He eats whatever he likes or doesn’t eat Non- Veg. ever.

He thinks Ganga is holy or not.

He is free to respect or revile any of the Hindu Gods. But he will still remain a Hindu. You can’t take that away from him. There is a lot of space given in this religion. Do what you want!  But with all that freedom, you are still bound under the chains of irrational beliefs.

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A brief history of Hinduism

Posted by Admin on May 26, 2012

http://cosmicstories.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/a-brief-history-of-hinduism/

A brief history of Hinduism

May 17, 2012 by

|| Like mothers to their calves, like milch kine with their milk, so, Sindhu, unto thee the roaring rivers run.
Thou leadest as a warrior king thine army’s wings what time thou comest in the van of these swift streams. || [Rig Veda]

The word Hindu is derived from word Sindhu which means Indus in English. The religion of the people at eastern side of Indus was called Hinduism by Arabs and British.

When we didn’t have any answers to the questions of the universe, our ancestors used to invoke a super-natural entity to answer those curiosities. That Supernatural power is God. Religion is a set of cultures and beliefs which tells human-beings about how to live their life morally and connect their human self with a metaphysical self of God. Naturally, every tribe, culture, nation, race must have had their own set of supernatural beliefs. In India, different groups of people believed in different kind of Gods and performed different rituals to please them.

The oldest civilization in India established itself around the river Indus.  It was called the Indus Valley Civilization. This is considered one of the oldest civilizations in human history (est. 3300 BCE). Seals have been found during excavations which show that the Indus valley people revered a deity which almost looked like Lord Shiva. Also, seals of Swastika and remnants of fire altars have been found in the excavations of Kalibangan.

The Indus valley civilization declined around 1500 BCE. It was the time when Vedic Rituals and culture took over. We call this period as the Vedic periods because it was when the earliest Vedas were formed. Rig-Veda is the oldest Veda. Though it is very hard to determine the precise age and location where early hymns of Rig-Veda were formed but it can be argued that Vedas are thousands of years old. Rig-Veda talks about Soma as God; also Soma is an intoxicating plant that is currently found in western Pakistan. The other two initial Veda were Sama-Veda and Yajur-Veda. The last Veda to be compiled was Atharva-Veda during 1000 BC. It is a collection of hymns and chants for healing diseases. One point to mention here is that all the Vedas were propagated orally. That is, Teachers in different schools of thoughts in Vedic societies used to preach the Vedas orally. The students would cram those verses by heart and teach their own students. It was not until 300 BCE that Vedas were codified into written language. Think about the vast periods in which Vedas were just propagated orally? Anyone can easily deduce by logic that Vedas must have been corrupted and changed by some of the teachers in between. Fire-sacrifices, called yajñawere performed during this period, and Vedic mantras chanted but no temples or idols are

Seals of the Indus Valley Civilization. also showing Swastikas. British Museum. Personal photograph, 2005.

known.

Around 500 BCE, there were many schools of thoughts all over India. They taught similar or different concepts of the world. Many new texts were written during that time. Puranas are the texts which tell the stories about Gods, Philosophy, Universe, Morality and other things. Gods fight against the demons in these texts and humans get a reason to endure their earthly pains and hope for a good world by praying and believing in an afterlife through Puranas. According to Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam ; Puranas are the texts through which an ordinary individual can learn about the Vedas.

                                                       nārāyaṇaḿ namaskṛtya

                                                            naraḿ caiva narottamam

devīḿ sarasvatīḿ vyāsaḿ

tato jayam udīrayet”

[All men are not equal. There are men who are conducted by the mode of goodness, others who are under the mode of passion and others who are under the mode of ignorance. The Purāṇas are so divided that any class of men can take advantage of them and gradually regain their lost position and get out of the hard struggle for existence.]

Epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata were compiled during 500 BCE. They were also propagated through oral traditions.

Goddess Durga riding a Tiger.

Until now, my readers must have understood that several texts and cultures had come out in different parts of India during this period. Different groups in India worshipped different Gods; it was based on the school of thought with which they were influenced. Let us take the example of Goddess Durga. She is mostly worshipped in the Himalayan ranges of Uttrakhand (Indian state) or Bengal (The state that was once a dense jungle of Mahogany trees and Tigers). The major occupation of people of these places must have been to collect woods and other things from dense forests. They must have been afraid from Tigers and Lions living in those jungles. As we know, people start worshiping those things that they fear off. Is it a surprise that Goddess Durga rides a tiger? She is an embodiment of the fear that those tribal people felt, she is s goddess borne out of the fear of those people.

Buddhism and Jainism are offshoots of the early Vedic religions. These were the schools which did not believe in the superiority of Vedas. They taught their own philosophies of reaching a higher goal through breathing exercises, worldly acts and meditations.

Islam entered India during 7th century CE.  It was the period when many Indians converted to Islam through force and subjugation. The Indian philosophies about God we got highly influenced by the thoughts of Islam. Numerous Muslim rulers or their army generals such as Aurangzeb and Malik Kafur destroyed Hindu temples and persecuted non-Muslims; however some, such as Akbar, were more tolerant. It was during this period when Bhakti movement in India got prominence. There were many Indians in south that used to worship only one God. They were either Shaivites (Followers of Shiva) or Vaishnavites (Followers of Vishnu). They started preaching about one religion in India and they brought all the different rituals and cultures in India under one umbrella body of Hinduism. During the 14th–17th centuries, a great Bhakti movement swept through central and northern India, initiated by a loosely associated group of teachers or saints. Ravidas, Srimanta Sankardeva, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Vallabhacharya, Surdas, Meera Bai, Kabir, Tulsidas, Namdev, Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram and other mystics spearheaded the Bhakti movement in the North. They taught that people could cast aside the heavy burdens of ritual and caste, and the subtle complexities of philosophy, and simply express their overwhelming love for God. This period was also characterized by a spate of devotional literature in vernacular prose and poetry in the ethnic languages of the various Indian states or provinces. The word Hindu was borrowed into European languages from the Arabic term al-Hind, referring to the land of the people who live across the River Indus, itself from the Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustān emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the “land of Hindus“. This was the time when Hinduism was really born. Before that it was just a collection of different faiths and cultures that were followed in different parts of India.

Hinduism can be called as a collective term for all the different traditions that were followed at the eastern side of river Indus. The Britishers who ruled India called Hinduism as a religion that was followed all over India. As per the above definition, Hinduism cannot be characterized as a religion like the western religions of Islam and Christianity. Some academics suggest that Hinduism can be seen as a category with “fuzzy edges”, rather than as a well-defined and rigid entity.

Hinduism does not have a common or single founder. It has evolved since the ages. Hinduism is flexible and accommodates any views that come to its vicinity. Therefore, there is no particular time at which we can say that Hinduism was born. Nobody can say about which book is the central book of Hinduism. Nobody can define who a Hindu is? Because of its weak and fuzzy boundaries, Hinduism is both a monotheistic as well as a Polytheistic religion. That depends on the followers. A follower can easily choose what he wants to believe into. There are numerous Hindus who believe in one God like Vishnu and Shiva and plus there are a million others who believe in millions of Gods.

Just remember that, if a person is from India and is not a Christian, Jew or Muslim, than most probably he is a Hindu. Even if his beliefs do not match with his neighboring Hindu – Hinduism allows for that variety. There is no common founder of Hinduism. It has evolved as things evolve with time and finally, it has found a name for itself.

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Magical Hampi – Blissfully lost in a time-warp

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/magical-hampi-blissfully-lost-in-a-time-warp-1331140839-slideshow/

Magical Hampi – Blissfully lost in a time-warp

Hampi, the medieval capital of the Vijayanagara Empire (14th to 16th century AD), is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its boulder-strewn hills, stunning jewel-box temples and the Tungabhadra River that runs among them make Hampi spectacular. Stories abound in every nook and corner, making this land of ancient legends a photographer’s playbook. The little town attracts tourists in droves, and the fact that almost everything is in ruins doesn’t seem to matter at all; in fact, it only adds to Hampi’s charisma. Strolling through the ancient markets and temples can throw you in a time-warp, says photographer, traveler and wildlife enthusiast RADHA RANGARAJAN as she shares these telling images that tempt you to clamber onto the roof of a bus and head to Hampi.

Photographer, traveler and wildlife enthusiast RADHA RANGARAJAN loves to wander, camera in tow. An aesthete, her forte is creative and offbeat compositions. Radha has presented her images in many forums and publications. Faces intrigue her and she loves to tell stories through her photographs. Birds, butterflies, leaves and shafts of light fuel her imagination. Besides nature and wildlife photography, she enjoys traveling and making images of people and places. Enjoy more of her work at her blog.

Hampi

The Virupaksha temple is one of the most recognized structures in Hampi. Located at the Hampi Bazaar, it has an iconic 160-foot tall ‘gopuram’ or tower at its entrance. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Though the city was destroyed in 1565, worship in the temple has persisted over the centuries.

Hampi

Hampi attracts a wide variety of people – backpackers, pilgrims, tourists, history enthusiasts, photographers… The locals add to this wonderful mix and what you get is a very intriguing array of faces. Sit on a step by the Hampi Bazaar or walk around the temples for some absorbing people-watching.

Hampi

An Indian Nightjar sits pretty by the side of the road. Hampi’s birdlife is very rich. Hoopoes, Sirkeer Malkohas, Indian Eagle Owls, Yellow Wattled Lapwings and Painted Spurfowls are some of the species one can sight in and around the town.

Hampi

A threatened species like the Yellow Throated Bulbul or our friendly neighborhood Green Bee Eater, they are all around. Matanga Hill is probably the best place to sight the very shy Yellow Throated Bulbuls. Watch out for groups of them flying from tree to tree, twittering all along.

Hampi

On an evening at Hampi, turn left into the narrow lane at the entrance of the Virupaksha temple. A short walk up Hemakuta hill sets you up to witness a memorable sunset.

Hampi

One of the best sunset spots in Hampi, Hemakuta Hill attracts a lot of people in the evening. Get there early, choose a good vantage point and settle down for an evening you won’t forget for a long time.

Hampi

The early bird gets the best sunrise! A steep climb up the Matanga Hill before the break of dawn can give you one of the best sunrise experiences of your life. With a rocky landscape on one side with a view of the Achyuta Raya temple and the river on the other side, the rising sun has a beautiful canvas to paint. It is advisable to take an experienced guide along if you want to walk up the hill before dawn.

Hampi

While the sun rises, the early morning mist fights a losing battle and eases away, revealing a breathtaking view of the hills on the far right of the Matanga hill. Green fields at the banks of the Tungabhadra River and a lone ‘mantapa’ on a rock complete this view.

Hampi

The ruins of the Achyuta Raya temple look so serene and beautiful that one can only wonder how grand the temple must have looked 500 years ago. It rests at the foot of the Matanga hill. This is the pillared ‘Mahamantapa’ and two of the three ‘Mahadwaras’ in the temple complex.

Hampi

A ‘Kalyana Mantapa’ – a marriage hall for the annual wedding ceremony of God and Goddess – is at the northwest corner of the Achyuta Raya temple. Beautiful stone carvings adorn stunning, tall pillars in the Mantapa. When light seeps through the hall, it is a sight to behold.

Hampi

Hampi

A market street, or what is also known as the courtesan’s street, leads to the Achyuta Raya temple. The ruins add to the serenity of the place. Also, the street and the temple are hidden snug behind Matanga hill and attract fewer tourists than the rest of the temples.

Hampi

Intricate stone carvings of mythical wars, pillars that create music when tapped, massive monolithic pillars and a huge temple yard – the Vijaya Vittala temple is an architectural extravaganza.

Hampi

Need souvenirs and gifts to remember Hampi? Wander around Hampi Bazaar and you are sure to find trinkets like these, mostly made by local artisans.

Hampi

Thanks to the iconic stone chariot the Vijaya Vittala temple is the most popular spot in Hampi. This chariot is the emblem of Karnataka Tourism. From the marks on the platform, where the wheels rest, it appears that the wheels were once free to move around the axis. It has and probably will always be the flag-bearer of Hampi’s relics.

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Chandrashila – In the arms of Shiva

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/chandrashila-in-the-arms-of-shiva-1329741657-slideshow/

Chandrashila – In the arms of Shiva

From Tunganath, the highest Shiva temple in India, a trail leads up the hill towards the peak of Chandrashila. On a clear day, this unique vantage point offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. This, truly, is Lord Shiva‘s kingdom. This is the second part of the slideshow about Tunganath by Travel Editor BIJOY VENUGOPAL

Chandrashila

The peak of Chandrashila, cloaked in fog on this autumn morning, looks out at a panorama of mountains. Chandrashila is 13,000 feet above sea level.

Tungnath temple

The Tungnath temple has withstood the continuous assault of the elements.

Bell at Tungnath temple

A bell rests against the stone wall of the temple.

Ganesha, Tungnath temple

A relief of Ganesha carved on the temple wall.

Weathered exterior of the …

Continuous exposure to wind, rain and snow has left scars.

Lodgers chat over tea

Shopkeepers and mule drivers make conversation outside the small snack shops, which double as lodges. Most have one or two tiny spare rooms, rented out for the night. Common toilets are available but they are terrifying.

Devloke Hotel

Our room at Devloke Hotel, with a view of the mighty mountains, was not uncomfortable. For safety and warmth, we tucked into our sleeping bags. At night, we heard rats on the roof. Our host Naveen assured us that they were harmless.

Sadhus at Tungnath

Two sadhus joined us at breakfast and began to smoke a chillum, after which the younger of them began to stare at the mist in silence. The elder sadhu proceeded to sew a tunic from a length of sack. They told us that they were on their way to Badrinath, 140 km away by road, on foot. When we expressed our surprise they told us about an old path through the forest that a few sadhus still frequent. We saw them seven days later on the road to Badrinath.

Akashkund at Tungnath

Inspired by the story, we decided to go looking for the trail. From Akashkund, believed to be a source of rivers, a stream meanders downhill towards Chopta.

A farmer's hut in Dug …

Along the trail we came across a simple farmer’s hut set in a forest glade beside a brook and with a cucumber vine bursting with bright yellow blossoms.

Curious Onlookers

There were no dangers along the way. We were told to watch out for Himalayan Black Bears but none came to meet us. However, a herd of grazing cows and buffaloes showed interest and we had to hurry on quickly.

The old pilgrim trail

We scouted the foothills of Chopta for the ancient pilgrim route. It was a footpath, and most of it was overgrown with vegetation. Yet, remnants of it were still to be seen at this meadow in Dugalbitta.

Cowdust hour

The pilgrim trail intersects the road at various points and through a lot of hard climbing we were able to return to Chopta to spend the night. From the trail we saw these cattle return home for night.

Sunset at Tungnath

We made haste and arrived at Tungnath to watch the sunset. The next day, we planned to explore the peak of Chandrashila.

Towards Chandrashila

Above Tungnath is a small rocky path leading to a peak called Chandrashila, about 13,000 feet above mean sea level. There are no trees here, only rocks and grassy meadows called bugyals.

View from the path to Cha …

The trail offered us fleeting glimpses of the snow-capped peaks of Kedarnath and Chaukhamba but the mist quickly veiled them.

Himalayan Monal pheasant

We saw a shape move in the dim light of early dawn. It’s a Monal pheasant, the state bird of Uttarakhand. When it steps into the sun we see its colors — dazzling violet-blue, green and orange. It surely stole the peacock’s thunder.

View of mountains from the …

Chandrashila

We climbed for nearly 40 minutes, catching our breath every now and then. Finally, a rusted, wind-battered signboard announced our destination.

Chaukhamba from Chandrash …

For an instant, the mist cleared and we were offered the breathtaking view of Chaukhamba, its four snow-capped crowns gleaming in the morning sun.

Cairns and prayer stones

Exploring the peak, we came upon stacks of stones arranged in cairns. Someone was already here, and praying hard.

Meditating for mind contr …

Ahead of us, on the edge of a cliff, a South Korean gentleman aged about 50 meditated on the morning sun. He was shirtless in temperatures that hovered around zero degrees Celsius. Small huddles of chrysanthemum flowers adorned the cairns.

Cleaning up the mountain

Nearby, his companion collected plastic bags and trash left behind by other tourists. The men said they were here to practice mind control. Every morning, they would climb up to Chandrashila before dawn and wait for sunrise. We were moved beyond words. As we watched, more tourists came by, chatting loudly. One of them was eating a bar of chocolate. He suddenly discovered that his cell phone had received a signal and jubilantly announced it to his two friends. They shouted and laughed for a few moments and then the first chap crushed his chocolate wrapper and dropped it on the ground. As we watched them with embarrassment, the Koreans smiled at us and continued cleaning up the peak.

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The Timeless Temples of Thanjavur

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/the-timeless-temples-of-thanjavur-1330689439-slideshow/

The Timeless Temples of Thanjavur

Thanjavur, 342 km from Chennai and 56 km from Tiruchirapalli, is very much where Tamil Nadu‘s cultural heart beats. And not for nothing is its monumental shrine to Brihadishwara called a Great Living Chola Temple. Built by Raja Raja Chola I in 1011 to commemorate the victory of the Chola dynasty, this magnificent architectural gem has not fallen into ruins like other temples but remains a centre of worship where religious fervor and architectural grandeur coexist as they did centuries ago. Photo-editor AZHAR MOHAMED ALI returns enchanted from Thanjavur to share these captivating images.

Note from the Admin : – You will not find architectural marvels like these in any other part of this world’s surface. These buildings are extremely complicated in conception, architecture and construction. The beings who helped and inspired the great builders of these timeless monuments were higher dimensional beings from far off other worldly civilizations composing of core central worlds of our Galaxy, always bathed in the Rays of the Great Central Sun of the Milky Way Galaxy and therefore not prone to lower dimensional worlds’ entropic energies of degeneration, devastation and decadence in terms of spiritual and genetic substance.

The blueprints were literally inserted as downloads during dream-state and deep sleep in the architect’s head and the construction personnel would also see vast improvements and fluidity in their skill sets as synchronicity during the building phase of such projects and endeavours thereby making the construction perfect and swift.

At an even earlier and more primal period of the Great Civilizations that dawned and flourished on this world’s surface, the projects would be supervised by beings of pure consciousness manifest in material matter substance bodies manifest temporarily and even by ETs from origins mentioned previously, from their spacecraft in the lower atmosphere at the location of these testaments to Our Divine Origins.

Each of these physical buildings are far from just buildings since they are conceived first at the Astral Level and then drawn down to their physical copies by slowing down matter and changing the type of energy inherent in them. Each has multidimensional and multifaceted purposes, connected not only in exact and unnerving accuracy with constellations and the trajectories from which the Divine Rays of the Great Central Sun coincide with the planet’s surface as per the Grand Cycles of Planetary bodies but also match geographically and energetically key energetic nodals and ley line conjunctions of this Planet’s Grid Framework pattern of Sacred Geometry. They were also used to stabilise the rotation of the planet on its axis and its revolution around the Sun itself.

Holographically since Sacred Geometry is constant and recurring in all beings and bodies the Temples were not just places of worship of Higher Celestial beings but helped draw, funnel, refine and stabilize the Cosmic energies bombarding our world constantly and thereby alleviating the Consciousness quotient of the beings who partook in ceremonial, cultural, traditional, spiritual and at a later era of our evolution on this world, religious activities in such places at auspicious times as per planetary alignments and even altered their genetic makeup to hold and sustain more Light itself from our Sun within their bodies and suit the elevation of the Awareness of their Consciousness itself.

Each monument is unique in all factors of location, dimension, purpose and structural integrity and are vastly superior to pyramids and other plane, drab, ugly ziggurats built by more primitive, warlike and technologically oriented civilizations prompted by similar off world beings at later times of our history. These were used more to channel energies for power consumption through crystals and genetically modify a physical body in an inorganic and utmost artificial process gimmicking and mocking an organic Ascension process. 

Thanjavur

The Brihadishwara Temple, the cynosure of Thanjavur, celebrated a millennium in 2010.

Thanjavur

Thanjavur, among India’s most ancient living cities, dates back to the Sangam period. Of the great dynasties that ruled it, the Cholas who built it outshine the rest. The Great Living Chola Temples, which include the Brihadishwara Temple, are located in the region of Thanjavur. The temple was built by Raja Raja Chola I in the first decade of the 11th century.

Thanjavur

Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Brihadishwara Temple at Thanjavur is the largest temple in India and is constructed entirely out of granite. The temple’s tower or vimana is 216 feet high. In 2010, Tamil Nadu Tourism marked the millennial celebrations of the Big Temple.

Thanjavur

Temple priests at the Big Temple in Thanjavur. The massive Nandi bull made of smoothened granite stone is sanctified daily.

Thanjavur

A view of the temple precincts.

Thanjavur

Detail of stone reliefs in the temple precincts.

Thanjavur

Sivalingams and idols of secondary deities.

Thanjavur

The pillared hall is richly decorated with frescoes.

Thanjavur

The Brihadishwara Temple, having stood the test of time for a thousand years, is a model for the enduring grandeur of Chola architecture.

Thanjavur

The Tanjore Doll (left), a traditional bobblehead toy that wobbles when moved, is made of baked clay and painted in bright colors.

Thanjavur

Handloom silks are one of the chief economic products of the district of Thanjavur. The town also lends its name to the Tanjore Painting, an artistic style unique to this region. The town is also known as the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu for its significant contribution to foodgrain production.

Thanjavur

The Big Temple by night.

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