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  • Sep 13 2010

    Dussehra festival vacation at Shimla & Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

    Ayigiri Nandhini Nandhitha Medhini
    Viswa Vinodhini Nandhanuthe
    Girivara Vindhya Sirodhini Vasini
    Vishnu Vilasini Jishnunuthe
    Baghavathy He Sithi Kanda Kudumbhini
    Boori Kudumbhini Boorikruthe
    Jaya Jaya He Mahishasura Mardhini
    Ramyaka Bardhini Sailasuthe.

    ~ Maa Durga Sloka

    Dussehra is dreived from Dasha-Hara “remover of bad fate”. It is celebrated on the tenth day of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha)Durga Pujaof the Hindu autumn month of Ashvin. Lord Rama appeased Devi Chandika seeking to defeat and kill Ravana. On Dussehra day Ravana was killed in the battlefield and this day celebrates the victory of good over evil. In another mythology Devi Durga killed mahisasura on Dussehra day.

    It marks the traditional season of autumn. Soma Yajnas are performed with the Maha Surya Mantras and the Aruna Prapathaka of the Yajurveda. The effect of these mantras is to keep the heart, brain and digestive functions of the body in balance. The imbalances in these occur in the absence of adequate sunlight in the winter months.

    In parts of Northern India it is traditional to plant barley seeds in earthen pots on the first day of Navrathri. On the day of Dussehra,
    the nine-day old sprouts (called noratras or nortas) are used as symbols of luck.

    In Uttarakhand, Dasshera festival starts with the performance of Ramlila which is itself unique as it is based on the musical rendering of the katha or story of Lord Ram based on the theatrical traditions set by Uday Shankar while on his stay in Almora these traditions were further enriched by Mohan Upreti and Brijendra Lal Sah. Known as the Almora or Kumaon style Ramlila has been recognised by UNESCO in its 2008 report as one of the representative styles of Ramlila in India.

    Actor Pran, the Bollywood villain started his ‘acting’ career on Shimla where he played Sita to Madan Puri’s Ram in the local staging of “Ramlila” :)

    Kullu dussehra at the Dhalpur maidan is now famous for the spectacular procession and fairs. The Gaddis – semi nomadic shepherds comes down to perform. In Himachal Gods are carried in palanquins to local fair grounds. During the Kullu festival some 22 deities make their way to the fair grounds. The history of this festival goes back to 17th century when king Jaganand installed an idol of Lord Rama on his throne. Since then Lord Raghunath is the presiding deity of the valley. Dussehra in Kullu begins after celebrations are over elsewhere in the country, because, the legend has it that “Lanka Dahan” was done on the day after a full moon night, which according to the Hindu calendar falls after the seventh day of the Vijyadashmi. Chamba and Nurpur also has similar celebrations.

    However, Dussehra is not celebrated in Baijnath dham of Lord Shiva. It is believed that Ravana put a consecrated Linga on his  journey back to Lanka. Lord Shiva had actually asked him not to put it down anywhere. Ravana inadverently put it down in Baijnath and it is there ever since. The current temple was constructed sometimes around 1204 AD.

    In autumn the hills are a riot of colours. In Kinnaur there is a festivall of flowers – ‘Fuleich’ and ‘Sair’ in the Kangra area. Traditional fairs with buffalo duels take place in Mashorba near Shimla. You can simply put up your feet and see days go by, take a local tour for attractions that are not part of usual tourist calendar – it would be an unforgettable experience and memory to cherish.

    In 2010, Dussehra festival will be celebrated from October 13th to -18th’ in Himachal Pradesh, INDIA. Toshali Royal View Resort, welcomes all to be the part of Dussehra a Festival experiencing, exclusive arrangement has been done for the guest to witness and be the part of the festival. For Dussehra Package Reservation click on http://bit.ly/9H62lF For more details write to metu@toshali.in

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post. We would be glad to receive your comments and conversation.. Happy Dusshera festival.

  • Sep 08 2010

    Durga Puja and Dushera : A Festive Vacation at Puri, India

    “Yaa Devii Sarvabhuuteshhu Maatrirupena Sansthitah
    Yaa Devii Sarvabhuuteshhu Shaktirupena Sansthitah
    Yaa Devii Sarvabhuuteshhu Shaantirupena Sansthitah
    Namastasyaih Namastasyaih Namastasyaih Namo Namah”

    It means… Goddess Durga is omnipresent. She is the personification of Universal Mother. She is a Mother, who is present everywhere and who is embodiment of power and energy. Great mother, who is present everywhere and who is embodiment of Peace. I bow to that mother, I bow to Mother Durga, I bow to Shakti.

    Lord Rama prayed to Devi Chandika seeking victory over Ravana. One blue lotus short he offered his eye to please the Goddess. In Mahabharata Pandavas ended their year of anonymity on Dussehra. According to the Puranas, King Suratha worshipped Durga in the spring.

    Durga’s ten hands represent ten directions. Her three eyes represents – left eye desire (the moon), right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).

    Her weapons are symbolic too:

    •       She rides the lion, representative of power, will and determination.

    •       Conch symbolizes the ‘Om’.

    •       Bow and arrows represent energy.

    •       Thunderbolt signifies firmness.

    •       Lotus symbolizes certainty of success but not finality.

    •       “Sudarshan-Chakra” of Lord Vishnu signifies that the entire world is subservient to her will.

    •       Sword symbolizes knowledge.

    •       Trident or “trishul” is symbol of three cardinal qualities – Satva (inactivity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (non-activity).

    The rendition of Shri Chandika- in Mahalaya, reveals the coming of this primeval, divine mother “Yah Devi Sharbabhutesu…… Matri Rupini Samasthita.

    In Orissa and Bengal Mother Durga is the married daughter, on an annual visit to her father’s place, with children. The puja in its present form started by Raja Nabakrishna Deb of the Shobhabazar Rajbari of Kolkata in honor of Lord Clive in 1757. Clive wished to pay thanks for his victory in the Battle of Plassey and the only church in Calcutta was destroyed by Siraj-ud-Daulah :). With changing times the pujas have become community affairs.

    In Orissa and Bengal, Durga Puja is the principal festival. People come home on vacations. On Vijaya Dashami, which coincides with Dusserah the idols are taken out for ceremonial immersion. Before she leaves maidens and housewives gives her a sendoff with sweets and betel leaves and nuts. Along with the sendoff there is also an entreaty to return early the next year.

    As per Markandeya Purana Chedi King Suratha started Durga Puja around 300 BCE. The Chedi dynasty belonged to Kalinga (modern Orissa). A sculpture in the Jagannath temple also shows the Goddess being in the same pedestal along with Lord Jagannath and a king kneeling before them. The present form of worship started during the reign of Ganga King Chodaganga Dev in the 11th century at Puri. Sometimes around 1512 (some say 1517, others 1505) Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had come to Cuttack during the reign of emperor Gajapati Pratap Rudra Dev. He started Durga puja at Binod Bihari temple, now known as Balu Bazar.

    The first recorded Sarbojonin Durga Puja in Orissa dates back to 1832 in the Kazi Bazaar area of Cuttack. The Kar family of Balasore started Durga Puja in 1852. The Puja is celebrated in two different ways. In Shakti peethas (temples) it is observed with strict rituals laid down by the scriptures for 10 or 16 days known as Shodasa Upachara or Shohala dinatmaka. It starts 7 days before mahalaya called as mulastami and ends on Vijaya Dashami. In communal puja mandaps rituals are followed on a lesser scale.

    A pandal in Oriya is called “Medho”. The most expensive installation was the ChaandiMerrha (Silver plated) of Choudhuri Bajaar, Cuttack. These days it is all gold plated, so the new name “Suna Medho” (Suna=Gold). The Durga Puja festivities are also prominent in Maa Katak Chandi Temple. She is the presiding deity of Cuttack. People believe her to be ‘The Living Goddess’.

    Puri wears a festive look during the Durga Pujas and Dushera. Roads are illuminated and large pandals are extensively decorated. On Panchami preparations arealmost over. The Goddess is established in the mandap on Sasthi. Asper mythology the final stages of the battle was fought during Ashtamiand Navami. Ritual worship is done. It is nothing sort of ecstacy. Everyone is dressed in new dresses, fineries. Community Pujas see huge crowds. Cultural programmes are dished out. The earthen idol of Mahishamardini Durga is known as Gosani and the Dussehra fesival is known as Gosani Yatra. The co-worship of Mahisamardini Durga with Lord Jagannath is prevalent from 11th century, in Puri. Gosanis are aspects of Durga during her battle with mahisasura and have their origins in the folk culture. On the following day of Dusshera the Goshanis from all the sahis (streets) come together in procession in front of Shree  Jagannath Temple to pay tribute to lord Jagannath. This is known as ‘Bhasani Yatra’. Huge crowd gather to celebrate Bhasanai Yatra. In late night the idols are taken for immersion. Puri witnesses an unique scene of over 150 idols lined up for immersion. Is this the largest known congregation of Durga idols anywhere? The world famous sand artist Sudarshan Pattanaik creates his own idol of sand in the Puri beach every year.

    Durga Pujas means festive holidays, vacation and a time to travel. Other than the summer vacations this is the longest vacation in the region. People from Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand have visited Puri for millennia.  The abode of Lord Jagannath is thronged with visitors throughout the year and other than the Rath Yatra the number is highest during the Durga Pujas. Puri is rediscovering itself a new with plush new resorts and inns and added modern comfort and amenities for visitors, tourist and guests.

    In Western India, especially Gujarat, the navaratras see performanceof Garba and Dandiya. Women dressed in traditionally, dance around an earthen pot with a lamp inside. The pot symbolises the womb – “Garba” and the lamp inside – life. In Dandia men and women participate in pairs.

    In Northern India navratras sees the “Ramlila” – a traditional rendition of the Ramayana. Dusshera sees burning effigies of Ravana,
    Kumbhaklaran and Meghnad symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.

    During Dusshera celebration of Mysore Devi Chamundi, the presiding family deity of the Maharaja of Mysore is taken in a grand procession to the hilltop temple.

    Special Trains for Durga Puja 2010 between Puri and Howrah New Delhi and rest of India. To clear the extra rush of passengers during Durga Puja 2010, Indian Railways will run two pairs of weekly Puja special trains between Puri and Howrah. These special trains will start running on 7th September 2010 and will end on 29th December 2010.

    Durga Puja itinerary followed with Laxmi Puja as per Kohinoor Panjika of Orissa  of 2010-11.

    Durga Puja 2010

    In 2010 Durga Puja festival will be celebrated from October 8th to -18th’ 2010. Toshali Sands welcomes all to be the part of Durga Puja Festival experiencing, exclusive arrangement has been done for the guest to witness and be the part of the festival. For Durga Puja Package Reservation click on http://bit.ly/biSkc6 For more details write to metu@toshali.in

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post. We would be glad to receive your comments and conversation.

  • Sep 07 2010

    Gaja Lakshmi Puja : The Festival of Prosperity, Good Luck and Abundance.

     

    “Maha Lakshmi Namastute Divya Kamala Lochane,

    Sankha Chakra Gada Haste Maha Lakshmi Namastute”.

    ~ Lakhmi Puran

    Gaja Lakshmi, is a manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi – as Gaja Lakshmi she is the Goddess of Elephants – symbol of represents Power, Strength, Grace and Fertility.

    Gajalakshmi Puja starts from Ashwin Purnima or Kumar Purnima (Full Moon day in Ashwin month). However at a few places it is also observed on Shukla Paksha Dasami in Bhadra.

    Goddess Gajalakshmi is one of the Ashtalakshmi (eight aspects of Goddess Lakshmi). The others being – Adi Lakshmi, Dhana Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Santana Lakshmi, Veera or Dhairya Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi and Vidya Lakshmi. She is the most powerful Goddess among the eight aspects. She is the one who brought back all the wealth lost by Indra. She is also the Goddess of cattle. The festival is also associated with the birth of Goddess Lakshmi. There is a popular belief that whoever keeps awake during night would be blessed with wealth and prosperity. Card games are particularly popular method of staying awake. She is four-armed, clad in red garments, she carries two lotuses, other two arms in abhaya mudra and varada mudra and she is flanked by two elephants bathing her with water pots.

    Gaja Lakshmi is believed to be the giver of animal wealth like cattle and elephants. Swami Chidananda interprets Gaja Lakshmi as giver of power of royalty. According to Hindu mythology, Gaja Lakshmi brought back the wealth lost by Indra (king of demi-gods) from the ocean.

    In Orissa this day coincided with Kumar Purnima. According to the mythology, “Kumar” or “Kartikeya” was an extremely handsome of Lord Shiva. He was born on the full moon day in the month of Ashwin. maidens seek the blessings of Lord Kartikeya to have a handsome life partner in life.

    Actually the legend of Goddess Lakshmi is the legend of Samudra manthan. Rishi Durbasha cursed Indra to lose all his wealth and when Indra apologized he said that Lord Vishnu would undo the damage. With Lakshmi power, wealth, enthusiasm and radiance left the demi gods. In time the gods lost their immortality and valour. As demonic power occupied the heavens sage Brihaspati with Lord Brahma appealed to Lord Vishnu. He suggested churning the sea of milk. Cutting long story short ambrosia appeared which gave the gods immortality and extremely beautiful and radiant Goddess Lakshmi emerged and restored Indra to his position. She is Gaja Lakshmi.

    Gaja Lakshmi Puja is the longest festival celebrated in the Dhenkanal and Kendrapara, Orissa. Here Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped. It continues for eleven days. The practice started in 1923 at Kunjasahu Chowk (now Ganesh Bazaar). The entire town is decorated. The Polishree Mela organized by the district administration and cultural programs add charm to the festival. In 2010 Gajalakshmi Puja will be celebrated in October 22nd in Orissa.

    Idols of the Goddess are installed and worshipped. Devotees observe fast on this day. Offerings are made to the Sun God. And in the evening, food offerings are made to Moon and the fast is broken. The festival has special significance for maidens. They play a special game called ‘Puchi on Kumar Purnima day.

    Toshali Resorts invites you to witness and celebrate this year Gaja Lakshmi Puja Festival on October 22nd in Orissa, which is observed for 11-days. For Gaja Lakshmi Puja Festival Reservation Package  You can also  contact your travel consultant for more details.

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post your comments and conversation.

  • Sep 06 2010

    Guru Purnima Festival: Devotional Worship of the Guru – the preceptor.

    Gururbrahmaa Gururvishnuh Gururdevo Maheswarah |

    Guruh-Saakshaat Parabrahma Tasmai Shrigurave Namah ||

    Ishaa Vaasyamidam sarvam, yatkincha jagatyaam jagat |

    Tena tyaktena bhunjeethaah maa gridhah kasyaswiddhanam ||

    In Hinduism Gurus are often equated with God and always regarded as a link between the individual and the Immortal. Just as the moon shines in Sun light so can disciples dazzle in the reflected glory of their Gurus.

     

    The full moon day in the month of Ashad (July-August) is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, a day sacred to the memory of the great sage Vyasa. It is believed that on this day Krishna-dwaipayana Vyasa – author of the Mahabharata – was born to sage Parashara and fisher woman Satyavati. Veda Vyasa, did yeoman service to the cause of Vedic studies by gathering all the Vedic hymns extant during his times, dividing them into four parts based on their use in the sacrificial rites, and teaching them to his four chief disciples – Paila, Vaisampayana, Jaimini and Sumantu. It was this dividing and editing that earned him the honorific “Vyasa” (vyas = to edit, to divide).

     

     

     

     

    He divided the Veda into four, namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva and wrote the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. Vyasa even taught Dattatreya, who is regarded as the Guru of Gurus.

     

     

     

    On this day, all spiritual aspirants and devotees worship Vyasa in honor of his divine personage and all disciples perform a ‘puja’ of their respective spiritual preceptor or ‘Gurudevs’. Traditionally, spiritual seekers commence to intensify their spiritual ‘sadhana’ from this day.

     

     

     

    The period ‘Chaturmas’ (“four months”) begins from this day. In the past, wandering spiritual masters and their disciples used to settle down at a place to study and discourse on the Brahma Sutras composed by Vyasa, and engage themselves in Vedantic discussions.

     

     

     

    Swami Sivananda asks: “Do you realize now the sacred significance and the supreme importance of the Guru’s role in the evolution of man? It was not without reason that the India of the past carefully tended and kept alive the lamp of Guru-Tattva. The Guru is seen as the only guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death, and experience the Consciousness of the Reality.”

     

     

     

    The Buddhist celebrate it in the honor the lord Buddha who gave his first sermon on this day at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh. The sermon Buddha gave to the five monks was his first sermon, called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. Buddhists observe on this day uposatha i.e. to observe eight precepts. Vipassana meditators practice meditation on this day under the guidance of their teachers.

     

     

     

    According to Jain traditions, it was on this day, Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, after attaining Kaivalya, made Indrabhuti Gautam, later known as Gautam Swami his first disciple, thus becoming a Guru himself.

     

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post. We would be glad to receive your comments and conversation to make it better



  • Sep 02 2010

    Nuakhai Sunia : Harvesting Festival of Odisha, Thanking the Mother Earth

    Nuakhai (also known as Nabanna) is an important social event and festival mainly observed in Western Orissa (Kosal) in India particularly Sambalpuri cultural area in the Oriya month of Bhadrab.  The festival is sort of thanks giving to Mother Earth for a good Kharif season harvest. Nuakhai means partaking of the first grains of paddy.

    Nuakhai is observed on the day after Sri Ganesh Chaturthi. It is the fifth day during the Shukla Paksha of the Bhadrab month (August – September).

    On Nuakhai day, Mother Nature is worshipped for providing food and all those elements essential for the survival of living beings. Goddess Shakti symbolizes Mother Earth and is worshipped in some regions and the new Kharif season crop is offered at a Shakti temple. Different types of local sweets and rice from fresh harvest is cooked on the day. Fresh rice is eaten along with Manda Pitha, Khiri Puri etc The offering is made in leaf-cups made from Sal, Palasa, Tendu or Kurei leaves known as ‘Dana.’ Family members then consume the holy offering. There is a queer belief that one who does not eat meat on the Nua-Kahi day, shall born as a heron in the next life :) The Kolhas in Keonjhar celebrate Nuakhai by cooking the new rice in a new earthen pot, prepare fowl curry, brew rice beer and offer it all to ‘Dharam Banga’ or Sun God on one leaf and to their ancestors on another. This is done by men and only men in the tribe.

    It is difficult to ascertain an ‘age’ for the festival, as ‘Anrna’ or rice paddy, is offered to the Gods since pre-Aryan times. Hindu philosophy believes Anrna to be Brahma. It is also equated to Goddesses Laxmi, hence on the day of Nuakhai Laxmi Puja is observes as well.

    Nuakhai has been observed by different tribes in different names, as the Dud Khadia and Pahadi Khadia called it as Jeth Nowakhiaa the Oram called it NowaKhani, the Munda called Jam-nowa, the Santhali called it Janthar and Baihar Horo Nawabai, the Birjia called it Nawaba and Jam-nowa, the Parajas of Bastar and Orissa called as Nowa-aani, Bihara called it Nowa-jam. In Chotta Nagapur area the Ashur tribe which a sub-clan of the Birjhia called it as Nowaa. In Tripura the tribes called it Mikatal, in East Bengal it is known as Nabanna.

    People believe that if Nuakhai is observed then all the sorrow, pain, disease, crop failure is avoided. This seems to have its antecedents from the nature worshipping aborigines. During the 2nd Century BC Ptolemy described Sambalpur as the kingdom of the Mundas and Sabars. Gand, Binjhal, Sabara, Munda were staying in this area much before to the Arayns. With the passage of time this festival has found its place in daily life.

    In 2010, the date of Nuakhai Festival is on September 12. Toshali Sands welcomes all to be the part of Nuakhei Sunia festival to experience  happiness and mass development of the society. Exclusive arrangement has been done for the guest to witness and be the part of the festival.. For more details write to metu@toshali.in

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post. We would be glad to receive your comments and conversation

  • Sep 02 2010

    Ganesha Chaturthi Festival: The Birthday Celebration of Shree Lord Ganesha

    Lord ganesha

    Vakratu.nDa Mahaakaaya koTisuuryasamaprabha |

    NirvighnaM Kuru me Deva Arvakaaryeshhu Sarvadaa ||

    II O God Ganesha (large bodied with a large belly), radiant as millions of Suns, Please, remove obstacles in all of my tasks all the time II

    ganesh chaturthi

    Ganesha Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi, is the festival of Shree Lord Ganesha (The Elephant God). He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. In fact, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four) whose idolatry is glorified as the Panchayatana Puja. He bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees in the duration of this festival. It is his birthday.

    Before 1893, Ganesh Chaturthi used to be an important family festival during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra, but that year, Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak transformed the annual festival into a large, well-organized public event. He recognized the wide appeal of the deity Ganesh as “The God for Everybody”, and popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order “to bridge the gap between Brahmins and ‘non-Brahmins’ and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them”, and generate nationalistic fervor among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule.

    The Lord is welcomed in homes/community pandals with Coconut, Jaggery, 21 ‘Modakas’ (Laddus), 21 ‘Durva’ (Trefoil) blades and red flowers. He is anointed with red unguent or sandal paste.

    His form is symbolic. His head symbolizes the soul and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad which gently guides us on teh righteous path and remove obstacles from our path. The noose in Ganesha’s left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.  The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The modak he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the soul or self. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And him riding a mouse symbolises and preaches humbleness.

    Toshali Resorts invites you to witness and celebrate this year Ganesh Chaturthi festival on Saturday, 11th September’2010 at Puri, Odisha where the god is fervently worshipped for about 7 days. For Ganesh Chaturthi festival Special Travel Package click on http://bit.ly/b5O4Kf. You can also contact your travel consultant metu@toshali.iin

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post your comments and conversation.

  • Aug 26 2010

    Travel through The Eyes of Travel Writer.. Know Them!!

    Homer (8th century BC) probably started it with Odyssey — epic poem of the travels of Greek hero, Odysseus, on his voyage home from Troy. Faxian (c. 337 – c. 422), Chinese monk or traveler to India and Ceylon continued the trend in Search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline. Hieun Tsang in 646 AD carried travelogue forward. Then on Marco Polo, Ibn Batuta, Samuel Johnson, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, Ian Fleming, Vikram Seth have all enriched the genre and I havent even named a ‘few’.

    Travel literature sometimes intersects with essay as in VS Naipaul’s India: A Wounded Civilization or Rebecca West‘s account of Yugoslavia, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. Some are fictions – beginning with Homer,  Jonathan Swift’s, Gulliver’s Travels, Voltaire’s Candide etc. Some part fiction like Marco Polo or John Mandeville. As a recognised area of writing its not very old. The first international travel writing conference, “Snapshots from Abroad”, was organized by Donald Ross at the University of Minnesota in 1997,  it led to the foundation of the International Society for Travel Writing.

    Travel writing is a varied genre – say Seizal Mehta writing about biking through Manali, Sarchu, Debring, via Leh to Khardungla, Karen Anand’s culinary travelogues or Joan Fry‘s – ‘How to Cook a Tapir’ – recipies from a year’s stay in a Maya village in the Amazonian rainforest. Karen Anand is all about places and their culinary delights. Sarina Singh writes for Lonely Planet and specializes in the Indian subcontinent, Samantha Brown is your host for several Travel Channel shows, Sucheta Potnis writes beautiful pieces on Goa, Michael Palin, almost legendary is an unique combo of a comedian and travel writer. You can go on.

    Can you earn your living writing travelouges in India? If you are a William Dalrymple it helps :). You need to be seriously good. The editor probably has 20 identical pieces so unless you are the first to land on Titan or Mars you better be good. A varuied perspective helps. Everyone writes about beaches in Nicobar – how many accounts of hunting with the Jarwas or the Onges exist? you get my drift. As television invades our home and we get used to seeing Ian Wright frolicking in Rio and Nigella cooking up a storm or Bear Grylls scooting across Patagonia we are getting used to exclusives.

    A century ago you had to take a  camera to Africa to become an wildlife photographer and look at the effort these days. Its not that Africa has become less exotic but people have invaded almost every corner of the globe. Just surf the net there are hundreds of travel experiences jotted down, its all free and so if you are not thinking out of the box, forget making decent money. The next time when you are around Shilon Bagh or Puri maybe you can discover a ghost or two at the old presidential retreat near Shilon bagh or you’ll catch a blackbuck looking at a mermaid drying her tresses on the banks of Nuanai on a moonlit night :) Write in about your experiences.

    In India the travel industry has not penetrated in say more than 60% of the destinations. So there is scope to visit places less travelled and write about them. But selection, perspective and quality are the key. Good luck and yes the scope of fictional travel writing is getting better – Rivendell to Gondor to Mordor or Hogwarts to Azkaban – they are getting better ;)

    Guess you know bit more about your favorite Travel Writer…. Why not share with us and your friends !! Share this blog with your friends

  • Aug 20 2010

    Janmashtami : Festival to celebrates the birth of Lord Shree Krishna

    Krishna Janmashtami is also known as “Krishnashtami”, “Saatam Aatham”, “Gokulashtami”, “Ashtami Rohini”, “Srikrishna Jayanti”, “Sree Jayanthi” or popularly as “Janmashtami”, it celebrates the birth of Lord Shree Krishna. Lord Krishna was born at midnight in the second fortnight of Krishna Paksha (lunar Fortnight) in Rohini Nakshatram.

    It is observed on the eighth day of the dark half of the month of Bhadrava. The festival always falls within mid-August to mid-September in the Gregorian calendar. On a dark, stormy night went the Lord from his prison birthplace atop his father’s head in a small basket as the angry river gave way and the serpent Seshnag protected him from the driving rain – to his foster care – the reciter of the Geeta – the avatar who both created and played out Mahabharata, slayer of Kansa arrived, son of Devaki – Yoshoda Nandan – on the darkest of night – the brightest of lights. I am not sure of the literary translation from sanskrit – tried to stick to the ‘feelings’ part.

    Rasa Lila or dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna are a special feature in regions of Mathura and Vrindavan, and regions following Vaishnavism in Manipur. While the Rasa Lila recreates the flirtatious aspects of Krishna’s youthful days, Govinda Pathaks or Dahi Handi celebrate the God’s playful and mischievous side, where teams of young men form human pyramids to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it.

    In the Banke Bihari temple of Vrindavan at midnight Maha Abhishek is conducted in the inner sanctum followed by special darshan from 2am to 6 am. At midnight, the idol of the infant Krishna is bathed, clothed in silk and finery, placed in a cradle and worshiped.

    Janmaashtami, popularly known in Mumbai and Pune as “Dahi Handi” is celebrated with enthusiasm. The clay pot filled with buttermilk is positioned at a height prior to the event; the topmost person on the human pyramid breaks it spilling buttermilk over the group, symbolizing their achievement through unity. “Govinda” troops compete with each other to break handis to commemorate the breaking of pots by the young Lord and his group of friends. Janmashtami is also celebrated fervently in Manipur.

    In Dwarka (Gujarat) Jagad Mandir – which traces history back to 400BC on this special day Shreejee or the Thakur gives darshan to his devotees. Rituals are performed by Aboti Brahmins; they are said to be performing this auspicious task since centuries.

    Toshali Resorts invites you to witness and celebrate this year Janmashtami on Thursday, 2nd September’2010 at Puri, Odisha where Lord Shree Jagannath abodes. Lord Jagannatha is no other than Lord Krishna who is also known as Madana Mohana, Ramakrishna, Gopala, Gopinath….. For Janmashtami Festival Special Travel Package contact your travel consultant metu@toshali.in.

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post your comments and conversation.

  • Aug 17 2010

    Raksha Bandhan Festival – Bond of protection, love and togetherness.

    In which other country do you have a festival where brothers vow to protect sisters?

    Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun is the most significant evidence in history. Around the 15th century, there were frequent wars. Rakhi was a spiritual bond and protection of sisters was foremost. When Rani Karnavati the widowed queen of Chittor was defenceless against the invasion of the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun. Touched by this gesture he abandoned an ongoing military campaign to ride to her rescue.

    Other legends include how Draupadi once tore a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna’s index finger to stop the flow of blood. The Lord was so touched by her action that he promised to repay the debt. He aided Draupadi during “Vastra-Haran”. The creator of all ‘maya’  indefinitely extended her saree, in another instance he gifted Draupadi an utensil that would satisfy the hunger of any number of guests and so on.

    Another legend states the bond between the great devotee of Lord Vishnu and the great demon emperor Bali or Mahabali (grandson of Prahlada) and Goddess Laxmi – and how the Lord while subduing Bali in the Vamana avatar granted him the boon to visit his land (Kerala) once a year and also promised him the role of the eigth Indra. Goddess Laxmi tied a thread on the wrist of the great devotee.

    Again the God of death Yama used to have a thread tied on his wrist by Yamuna – his sister. The Yama promised immortality to anyone getting a rakhi tied and promising his sister protection.

    There is another legend associated with King Porus and Alexander’s ‘Indian’ wife Roxana or Roshanak – but I guess that has got more patriotism than truth to it :)

    Rakhi is celebrated as Rakhi Purnima in North and South India. It is also celebrated as Grahma Purnima in Orissa. On this date all the domesticated Cows and Bullocks are decorated and worshipped. In parts of western India the day is celebrated as Nariyal Purnima. An offering of a coconut (nariyal) is made to Lord Varuna, the God of the Sea and it marks the beginning of the fishing season. The people of the Kumaon, Uttarakhand, celebrate it as a day on which people change their sacred thread. In Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkand and Bihar this day is celebrated as Kajari Purnima. In parts of Gujarat, this day is celebrated as Pavitropana. On this day people perform the grand pooja or ritual or the worship of Lord Shiva.

    In Rabindranath Tagore’s vision of celebrating Raksha Bandhan was a celebration of mankind and of humanity. In 1905 when the British decided to divide Bengal Tagore arranged Raksha Bandhan to be celebrated to strengthen the bond of love and togetherness between the Hindus and the Muslims and unite them in the fight against the British.

    We all should learn from The great Noble Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s vision…  the bond of love and togetherness should prevail in the society. Raskha Bandhan festival are worth inculcating by the whole human race, the sentiments of harmony and peaceful coexistence. We all need a “PEACE”… !!

    Celebrate Raksha Bandhan on 24th August 2010, gift a holiday voucher this Rakhi festival, your sister is looking forward to it, read her mind ! Contact your travel consultant for travel voucher metu@toshali.in Post your comment, how are you going to spend your Raksha Bandhan..

  • Aug 11 2010

    Why Toshali Royal View Resort is The Place for Next Corporate Meet !

    Toshali Royal View resort, has one of the the largest conference centre in Himachal.  Located near Shimla, its surrounded by conferous populated hills, reserve forest and acres of greenery, not to overlook the class one technologies available at your beck and call makes it an unique conference destination.

    Client hospitality or management training, a sales conference or a board meeting – we believe its is all about people. Your delegates need to be relaxed, and fresh to focus on the issues at hand and our focus as such is on the guests. 

    TRVR Collage

    We’ve tried to think about you to create the ambience. We’ve noticed that you notice the little things. So you’ll find cosy, intimate spaces, attention to details that speak of that discerning personal, human touch. A dedicated conference coordinator will be your personal point of contact, able to make all the necessary arrangements both within and without. The Conference Coordinator ensures that the client’s expectations in terms of service, theme, and cuisine are met to the last detail.

    TRVR Conference facility

    The conference centre can accommodate 200 people. It has – the chamber of prince, chamber of princes, and also a mini hall to cater to board meeting, we have for you audio visual facility, secretarial services, PC and printer hire/usage, telephone, fax, email, etc. The halls have flexible seating arrangements, and can be adapted for small and large groups, either in theatre or classroom style.

    formal buffet1

    Fine details of acoustics, sound proofing, adequate ventilation, air conditioning and the maximum use of natural lighting ensure aesthetics and usability. Both the Chamber of Princes and the Chamber of Princess are self-contained with exclusive leisure spaces for serving refreshments. For every event the banquet has a choice of menus for light buffet lunches and breakfast.

    The staff, will on request, arrange for private dining facilities for those meetings running late. Informal gatherings can ask for bar facilities as well. Any requests for theme based dinners, bar-be-que, and special menus are most welcome.

    TRVR Conference facility 1

    Gama, our fitness centre, is outfitted with sauna, steam and jacuzzi facilities in addition to cardio vascular and weight training equipment.

    Choose between the table tennis and pool table indoors. For golf enthusiasts, we make arrangements at a course 24 km from the resort. There is a jogging track circling and yes we haven’t forgotten our junior guests while installing play equipments at the resort.

    The Viceroy restaurant – our multi cusine restaurant serves Indian as well as Continental, Chinese and Mughlai dishes. Our trained chefs cater to individual tastes of our guests on request. And the Head over Heels Bar is well stocked with Indian and foreign liquors and ya the windows overlook the fabulous Shilon Valley, Shimla Region.

     Toshali Royal View Resort_shimla

    Toshali Royal View has been the highly recommended hotel by TripAdvisor. A photo walk-through of the Toshali Royal View Resort, Shimla – click on http://bit.ly/dinYBk

    To Know and book the conference venue for your Conference, Workshops, Seminars, Boardmeetings, Sales Meeting, AGM, Product Launch, Reseller, Distributor  & Dealer meeting, Corporate Event Management, etc. Please contact our conference manager or simply mail your query at metu@toshali.in . Looking forward to your conversation…

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