Elephanta Caves: A Blend of Aesthetic and Divinity

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If you want to do the touristic outings in South Mumbai, Elephanta caves are a great place, to begin with. On a Sunday, The Gateway of India is the busiest and a lot crowded. To go to the Elephanta caves, you must take a ferry from The Gateway of India. More than foreigners there are a lot of Indian tourists who especially like to visit the place with friends and family.  A sum of 300 rupees is the entry fee for the ferry which is the payment for both the ways.

20171126_173737The ferry journey is the most beautiful part that one can experience.  The open sea surrounded by nothing but calmness. Once you begin the ferry journey, you enter another world filled with nature, serenity away from the busiest and noisy areas of Mumbai. As you go ahead on the ferry, the jammed packed Mumbai filled with traffic and people fades away. Then it’s just the open sea and the birds.

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A flock of birds tries to compete with the speed of the ferry, for the pieces of food thrown by the passengers. As we moved ahead the peaceful paradise and the beauty of the salty sea is disturbed by heavy ships and this reflects that nothing is spared by the human beings.
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It takes at least an hour to reach the destination. The ferry consists of varied people of different social background, social status, and ethnicity. Everyone gives a pleasant vibe; far away from the usual life, enjoying with friends, family and loved ones to reach this amazing destination.  There are many ferries with diverse names but the one I traveled in is ‘Tasleem’

As the ferry came closer to my destination, from a distance you can see the mountain filled with thick foliage with small villages popping around. Once I reached the destination, there is a pathway leading to the caves and also there are small eatery stalls selling season based fruits and snacks. Thereafter, at the far end of the pathway, there is a mini train which takes passengers from the landing of the ferry till the end of the pathway.

To enter the caves one must to climb flight rocky steps. The Elephanta caves are situated on top of a hill. While climbing can be a tiresome experience, the small kiosks selling apparels, home decors, figurines, artifacts, postcards and much more to distract yourself to reach the caves. Don’t be surprised to see monkeys jumping from place to place all around.

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Once I reached that entrance of the caves, a fee is charged for both domestic and international tourist. The caves are perfectly standing tall on the island of Elephanta, which was originally called as Gharapuri which derives its name from a massive stone image of an elephant.

The Elephanta Caves is declared by the Archaeological Survey of India as Monument of National importance in 1909 and henceforth inscribed by the UNESCO as the World Heritage site in 1987.

The cave complex Elephanta comprises total seven caves out of which five are in the lower western side while the other two are at the eastern top of the hillock. From the five caves which are on the lower side, the cave one is exclusively carved with the various manifestation of Lord Shiva. It has a pillared hall with a small shrine and four entrance doors bordered by the guardians. You’ll get to also see the massive yet elegant figures of divinities, guardians and certain architectural features such as the square pillar with cushion capitals suggest the influence of the Chalukyan Empire. Also, the depiction of mountains and clouds and the hairstyles of woman are reminiscent of Gupta art.

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The main cave consists of a sanctum and massive hall divided into the five bays. The artistically carved panels on the walls of this cave include the Yogeshwara( Lord of Yoga), Nataraja Shiva ( Cosmic Dancer), ShivaParvati, Ardhanarishvara, Gangadhara, Andhakasuravadha, Ravananugraha Shiva, Kalyansunder Murti and Maheshmurti. The Maheshamurti of Shiva is depicted on the South wall with three aspects of creation, protection, and destruction revealing a masterpiece of Chalukyan Gupta Art.

The ceiling of the main cave is believed to have been originally painted with different colors. There is circular pedestal in the open courtyard signifies the seat of Nandi (Bull) the vehicle of Shiva. The side cave has a small shrine and a Pradaksinapatha ( Circumambulatoty passage) with an interesting panel of Ashtamatrikas ( Eight Mother Goddesses) fringed by Kartikeya and Ganesha.

The other caves are simple and have lesser embellishment. In addition, the antiquarian remains found in the Elephanta Caves are the Stupa of the 3rd century BC. At the top of the hillock, Kshatrapa coins of the 4th century AD and some sculptures including Mahishasumardini, four-headed images of Brahma, Vishnu and Garuda.

The cave just doesn’t have the aesthetic value but also religious as tourist come for sightseeing as well as to worship the Gods. From the top of the caves, the entire scenic view is captivating. It’s completely a worthwhile experience to visit the Island of Elephanta.

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Kapu Beach- A Place Filled With Tranquillity

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To lay back and relax, going to the beach is a perfect place. The first destination comes to the mind for a beach is in Goa. Nevertheless, there are other such places in India that will provide the awe and solace that will captivate your mind and soul. One such place in South Karnataka is Kapu.

To go to Kapu beach you can take a local bus from Udupi and the bus stops at ‘Sri Hosa Marigudi Bypass’, from there either you can go by walking or by an auto rickshaw which takes you the destination. While traveling towards Kapu beach one must pass through the interior village area. Also, there are few temples in and around the area.

Before the entrance of Kapu beach, there are stalls on both the sides selling food items and apparels. Among the food stalls, there are some food outlets which especially provide local fish.
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As one proceeds towards the beach you get lost in the mesmerizing beauty and the calmness it beholds. The sand is ivory with huge waves hitting the rocks as the rhythm of the waves provides a comfort to your inner soul.

Just as you turn to the right, there is a tall white structure which is a lighthouse. To enter the lighthouse one must pay a minimum fee of 10 rupees. People are in the zest to go on top of the lighthouse as it gives a panoramic view of the entire ocean surrounded by huge chunks of rocks in the sea. Climbing a flight of stairs of a spiral staircase is a bit tedious task but in the end, it’s all worth it! Later, there is a steep one-way staircase that requires being climbed carefully. Once you reach the peak of the lighthouse, there is a small doorway which leads to a circular narrow balcony where the entire top view can be seen. The balcony is safe as it is surrounded by a metal fence and a lot of photographs are captured of this beautiful beach by the visitors.

From the top view of the lighthouse, it keeps the eyes frozen to the beauty of this beach which compliments with the surrounding village area. From the balcony the entire view is spectacular. The time I visited, there was rituals and music playing that could be heard from the nearby temple and also a flotilla of boat lined at the shore. Some of these boats provide boat rides as well are used to catch fish. On the other side of the beach, from the lighthouse, there is a narrow stream of water with coconut trees surrounded. The sea, the rocks, the coconut trees and everything else perfectly blends the natural bounty it put forth. (The lighthouse is open from 4.30 p.m till 6.30 p.m).

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As one descends from the staircase of the lighthouse, sitting on the rocky terrain and watching the sunset is amazing.  The entire view is serene with the wide array of color shades is amazing. The area has many rocks to sit with yourself or with loved ones and family. Besides to relax, it’s the very good place for those of you who are looking to sketch, paint and write. If you are looking for the beach which is less crowded and clean, Kapu Beach is the right one for you!

 

Murudeshwar- A Land of Bliss and Blessing

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One fine afternoon   a rail journey to Murudeshwar  is totally exciting.  The key highlight of this place is the Shiva temple which is situated there. Always from the train compartment window of my train journeys from Goa to Karnataka, the gigantic Shiva statue captured my attention. So I decided to pay a visit and explore the temple area.  From the afternoon train from Udupi, I reached to Murudeshwar in the evening.IMG-20171112-WA0017

The Shiva temple is 15 minutes away from the Murudeshwar railway station. After passing the local market which leds to the temple. The Shiva temple is built on the Kunuka hill and it is surrounded by the Arabian Sea.  The first sight that captured my attention is the 20-stored Gopura is being constructed on the temple. A fee of minimum amount for the elevator has to be paid in order to reach at the top floor of the Gopura.  Right on the top floor a bird eye view is to been seen of the temple spread across the area as well as the sea.

 

Inside the temple there are small shrines dedicated to different hindu dieties and another catching aspect in the temple area is a sanctuary with life- sized statues of Gods and Goddesses depicting Mahabharata.

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Also, the beauty and bliss of the beach adds to the serenity of the temple.

A TRIP TO AGUMBE

Throwing a travel treat for yourself once in a while is a must. Using the opportunity of the one day Ganesh Chaturthi holiday, some of my friends decided to go for an adventurous trip to Agumbe, a neighboring region to Manipal. We started the journey early in the morning by bus and the chilling raining weather was perfect.

Sunset Point

Travelling through the narrow roads with greenery surrounded both the sides is amazing. While climbing the steep hilly terrain of Agumbe was overwhelming and fun.

Looking at the terrain no one can image imagine there are human settlements as it is situated at a higher altitude. As we got nearer to the place you get to see milky white merged with greenery. At one point you get confused with open water body but actually the open sky.

So after we arrived at the Agumbe bus stop we had a brief breakfast and set the journey to explore the place. Firstly, we went to the sunset point. The view from there is breath-taking. With clouds moving around the mountains with lush greenery surrounded it with a small breakthrough of a waterfall in the mountains. The view is so relaxing and out of the world.

Pic Credit: Siddhi
Sringeri Temple.
A part of the inside view of Sringeri Temple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a while we took another bus from Agumbe to Sringeri Temple. As it was Ganesh Chaturthi, the shops in the local market was shut down. Inside the temple, there various structures dedicated to the Gods. Another fascinating aspect is the presence of an old temple structure which made of stone. The architecture is very fine and well defined. Right outside the temple there is a beautiful man-made wired bridge surrounded with the river.

We ended the amazing adventurous trip by going to Sirimane waterfall. The journey to the waterfall was quite bumpy. But in the end the waterfall totally made our day and the ride to it was completely worth it.

Sirimane waterfall.

Climbing downstairs towards the gushing sound of the magnificent waterfall was an awestrucking experience. The pressure of the water was quite high but the image and beauty of it was priceless.

Later, travelling back to Manipal while descending from the steep terrain of Agumbe at sunset point  was magical. As it was evening, the entire mountain was succumbed by the snowy clouds which made the mountains almost invisible.

Exploring Agumbe and its nearby areas was truly worth it and indeed we made beautiful memories together.

Garça Branca

 

20161009_131035Walking through the beautiful and green botanical garden is a very peaceful and pleasant feeling.

You may wonder, what Garça branca the name suggests? Well the ancestral name of this house was ‘Bokem’ which means white heron in Konkani, which the owner Mr. Carlos Mascarenhas translated it into Portuguese. That’s how ‘Garça Branca’ got its name

Garça Branca is known for the botanical gardens. It also serves as a picnic spot for friends and family. Located on the hills of Loutolim, this place is very refreshing and beautiful.20161009_132046

Speaking of the botanical garden, from a top view it looks like a garden of paradise. The variety of the medicinal plants and the fruit bearing trees  is very well maintained.

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Once you enter the Botanical garden a row of beetle trees greet you. A 200 year old Banyan tree trimmed properly is a beautiful image, at the bottom of the tree there is a huge statue of laughing Buddha situated.

 

 

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Also, on top of a cliff, there is a statue of Jesus Christ and water flows smoothly; this is a beautiful creation to be seen.20161009_124919There are many other activities for kids and in the botanical garden there is a fountain for birds and butterfly, a very well artistry statues of women fetching water near the well is showcased.

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The mostly important thing is the small tributary of the River Zuari at the end point of the Garden. Over there one can 20161009_130810also test their fishing skills. The place is very refreshing and very cool. Just sitting on the couch and admiring nature gives you tranquillity.

 
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The Garça Branca is a house belongs to the Mascarenhas family which is 200 years old. Mr. Carlos Mascarenhas is the owner of this plant paradise. He recalls after the death of his mother, he came from Canada for good and renovated the house which now provides guest rooms.

 

20161009_125331Soon after that the tourist visited this place. The backyard of the house was very forestry. One of the tourists suggested reviving the area to a botanical garden. This is story behind the beautiful botanical garden. This initiative by Mr. Mascarenhas is to encourage tourism in Goa. The various plant names and uses for various medical purposes provide important knowledge to everyone.

“We enjoyed recreating the botanical plants and we also got good response not only from the tourist but also from Goans” says Mr. Maschrenas .Many schools visit the botanical gardens to gain knowledge related to plants. And these classes are conducted by the owner itself.

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A visit to Garça Branca with friends and family is a worthwhile experience.

 

Go- Karting: A Speedy Adventure

20161009_175846Everyone wants a break from their busy lives and do something different and exciting. There are so many indoor and outdoor activities which can distress ourselves. Most of us want to do something out of the box and make the day memorable. There are many outdoor adventure sports in Goa and one of them is car racing.

Yes! Go Karting wonderful and enjoyable car racing track In Goulloy, Nuvem. Once you enter Nuvem from the main highway, just right next to the Tata motor showroom at the left is a small road which takes you to Go- Karting. If you are a enthusiastic driver who is looking at the speedy and competitive drive, this is the best sport you have!

The Track is situated right on top of the forestry hill. The track has many circular turns and car tyres are act as the boundary of the track which makes it safe. Besides that there is a huge metal fence that protects the area. The length of Go-Karting Track in Nuvem is 482 meters.

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Pic Credit: Tourmet.com

The car racing with friends and family can be a truly joyous and competitive experience. It’s not only the youngsters but also the older individuals who can enjoy this sport. Also the ticket prices are reasonable.

Goa karting was started a long time back in 2001 by the owner Christopher Moraes in the south and after some years the car racing track is also situated in Arpora in the North Goa.

Earlier, I remember that many locals and tourist would especially come to enjoy car racing. But now it’s not the same. The manager of the Go-Karting, Candy Pires says that “There are lesser number of tourist visiting this adventure sport place.”

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The fast pace of technology and different other mediums play an important role to make any place recognised and popular to others. Mr Pires also points adds that the lack of advertising of this place have also not people known about this place. But with the spread of word of mouth communication by the locals residing that area and the earlier visitors have attracted a decent number of people to actually come and visit the amazing car racing place.

Sharing memorable and merrier moments directs others also to join the remarkable car racing experience at the Go Karting in Nuvem, Victoria Samuel had a visited this place a while ago says that “ I had gone with friends, it was my car ride as I didn’t drive before. Initially I was scared but then I got the hang of the car wheel and enjoyed the ride. I had a wonderful time.” To drive the small racing car at Go Karting one shouldn’t have the knowledge of driving the car. It is just simple and fun.

A car racing at ‘Go Karting’ in Nuvem is truly must to do. I’m sure you won’t regret the fun and exciting adventure sport with appropriate safety measures taken.

Goa Chitra Musuem: A Initiative to Preserve Art and Culture

20161002_125257Located in the interiors of the Benaulim village in the South of Goa, Goa Chitra Museum speaks a lot of the traditional and the lifestyle of Indians and Goans. From the outside the Museum it looks really small but once you enter the gates; it talks so much. In this story I will tell you the things that fascinated me about the yesteryears culture and traditions of Indians and Goans. It is an ethnographical museum.

One of the Museum curator who escorted me said that the new structures of the Museum are made from the recycled materials of the old churches and ancestral houses.

The Museum is divided into parts. One is Goa Chitra which is dedicated Goan Heritage and Culture which was opened in 2007 and the other one is Goa Chakra which was inaugurated in 2014, this part of the Musuem displays the modes of transport, i.e. carts and carriages of the Indians in the earlier times.

Goa Chakra

Once you enter, you will a huge line up of carriages carts and palanquins which are collected from all over India. All the carriages in this section have a lot of significance. At the entrance itself, the oldest cart is from the jungles of Karnataka.20161002_123227

Earlier, mostly the wheels were made on wood. But as time passed by preceding 17th century, in Rajasthan the wheels were made of metal as there was abundant availability there and also being a sandy desert region the wheels would not sink in the sand because the wheels of the cart and carriage were made of metal. Even the carriages which were introduced by the British in India are exhibited in this part of the Museum.

20161002_124142The carts were used mostly by the merchants and traders to transport valuable goods and domestic items to other regions. The type of carriages used dependent on the class and social status of the family. The well-equipped and versatile carriages were used to carry the noble families than vice versa.

Most of the carts and carriages that are displayed in this part of the Museum are coming from Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal.

It is said till today in Calcutta present day Kolkata the Tonga should be registered there. There are also baby cots and cradles from many regions of India.

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Regarding to the carriages of Goa, there are three hearse carriages from Panjim, Colva and Chandor. These were used to transport the coffins of the Christian community from the deceased home to the church. Also, the Hearse carriages were assigned depending on the social status of the deceased individual. The smaller hearse carriages for the lower class and bigger ones were for the aristocrats of the concerned village.

Goa Chitra

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The Goa Chitra section of the Museum widely provides information related to the preserved culture and traditional of the Goans. It is beautiful displayed and helps to get a better understanding of the original Goa.

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A range of earthen pots and vessels and diverse collection of bamboo items are also neatly displayed. The chapel which depicts the religious worship of the different saints by the Christians to keep their faith alive also plays a significant role.

 

The doors of the chapel are taken from the St. John the Baptist chapel in Benaulim 20161002_130745which is dated from the 17th century.

20161002_130947Another eye capturing the thing on the wall of the altar was the tapestry of the image of Mother Mary. It is said that in the olden times, the Goan Christian bride had to weave the image by herself as it was custom to the take the finished tapestry image of Mother Mary to her in laws home.

There are also different equipments and instruments used by the Farmers in the traditional years and also the clothing like ‘kapod’ and ‘ kamod’ which was used by the kunbis , the original inhabitants of Goa.

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A visit to the Goa Chitra Musuem gives you a knowledge seeking experience relating to the culture and traditions of Goa and rest parts of India. This Museum has taken a very good step to preserve the ethnicity of India and Goa for the future generation.