Paro Taktsang (also known as the Taktsang Palphug Monastery and the Tiger’s Nest) is a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and the temple complex is located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley in Bhutan.
Why Tigers Nest..?
One of the main reasons for my travel to Bhutan was to trek the Tigernest monastery. It is the most iconic Buddhist temple in Bhutan. It is set on an almost vertical cliff about 900 meters above the Paro Valley with fabulous views.
Change of Plan..
Our initial plan was to visit the monastery first in early hours. I always believe the finest exploration always lies with the individual instincts. That’s why I spend considerable time with locals to understand the dynamics of the places planned and local cuisines. Through them got to know that Chelela pass was quite an amazing place and it is one of the must see places in Bhutan. Most importantly it is a 3 hour journey from Monastery. So we added it to our list just the day before we visited this place. When any last minute inclusions ends up to be the best part of our trip then nothing beats it.
Our First stop, the famous Paro museum. As the Museum gets closed at 11AM on Saturdays, we had to rush with a quick stop at the viewpoint post Museum tour where Paro airport is visible.
Got ready to head towards Tigers Nest…
It all started this way….
Exploration of Tigers nest started with a trek for about 7 KM’s at 12:30pm. With a hiking stick in hand and a backpack on my back we decided to trek anyway. In my backpack, I had water bottles, a hand towel, Medical kit, a camera with 18-55 lens, 50mm & 55-250lens, Iphone, and other accessories.
The “Trek of our Lifetime”
We hiked at our own pace. The hike is 14kms to and fro not including nearly 1400 steps which take you to this wonderful monastery. A big waterfall on the way, serene temples, Buddha statues and wonderful views are unforgettable.
As it got steeper breathing became more challenging. The thinness of the air was a challenge. This is the reason why you MUST DO THIS TRIP AT THE END OF YOUR HOLIDAY. Good that we went there after 3 days, we acclimatized during our journey around Bhutan and we managed this better as a result. What’s awesome is seeing the monastery getting larger and larger from being a distant icon to looming up and being within reach. From a distance it is meant to resemble the guru Padmasanghava AKA guru Rinpoche (who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century) riding a tigress.
Waterfalls, Caves and Temples..
On our way we had to pass by the beautiful waterfalls, bridge and then reached the Monastery. There you have to lock up your belongings – no bags or cameras allowed in there. There’s a safe box system. Don’t even think of sneaking a camera in ;). Inside you are directed through this labrynthine building containing various caves and temples and a yak butter candlelight room. There is a tranquil and special atmosphere here.
This is most unique experience of our Bhutan trip, although I kept saying that to a lot other places in this lovely country. But the experience of walking up the fairly tough path up the mountain, while seeing a breathtaking view of the mountains, valleys, and the monastery peeping up from the fog is sheer magic.
My descend was quicker than expected; but had to be careful at the muddy slippery stretches, but equally dramatic. You feel calm and relaxed from inside after this spiritual journey.
Tips from my perspective:
- Timings: 8 AM to 1 PM and 2-5 PM daily, October – March Until 6 PM, April – September.
- Start your trek in the morning
- Carry enough water bottles, hiking sticks,medical kit etc.,
- There’s a cafeteria, One can have a quick bite.
The bay of Dona Paula in Goa lies at the meeting point of the Arabian Sea and the Goan rivers Mandovi and Zuari. Dona Paula is located in the suburbs of the capital Panjim. Originally a fishing village, Dona Paula attracts its fair share of visitors and tourists who come to marvel at its pristine beach, its natural beauty and the romantic legend associated with it.
The Dona Paula Beach is a pristine beach with a tragic love story to its name. It was named after the Portuguese Viceroy’s daughter Dona Paula de Menezes. This young, innocent girl fell in love with a local Goan fisherman. Of course, this match was unacceptable to the Viceroy who forbade his daughter Dona Paula to ever see her young lover again.
Distraught with love and sorrow, Dona Paula could not bear a life without her lover and threw herself off a cliff into the unforgiving Arabian Sea. Left with nothing but his daughter’s memory, the Portuguese Viceroy named the area Dona Paula, as an eternal tribute to his stubbornness and forbidden romance & love.
Today, there is a black stone statue of the young Dona Paula and her Goan lover on a rocky promontory jutting into the sea with a sweeping view of the Marmagoa Port in the background.
When you are in Dona Paula, you must visit the ruins of the Cabo Fort, erected in 1540. The Cabo Raj Niwas is one of the most elegant governor’s residences in the whole of Goa.There is also a 180 year old English cemetery, open to the public along with a chapel, which has a memorial tomb of Dona Paula de Menezes with her history engraved on the tombstone.
In Dona Paula, you also have the National Oceanography Institute which was opened in 1960 to study the local Goan marine life alongwith the Marine Biology Museum. A little further (around 9 kms from Dona Paula) is the famous Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, in the island of Choro by the side of the Mandovi river and named after the famous Indian ornithologist. The Bird Sanctuary is spread over an area of 2 sq km and is a delight for bird lovers.
The 12th Century Mahadeva Temple at Itagi in Koppal District with splendid sculptures is said to be one of the finest examples in the country with respect to the magnificence and decorative details. The Mahadeva Temple at Itagi was built circa 1112 CE by Mahadeva, a commander (dandanayaka) in the army of the Western Chalukya King Vikramaditya VI. Itagi is about 22 miles (35 km) east of Gadag and 40 miles (64 km) west of Hampi.
The well-executed sculptures, finely crafted carvings on walls, pillars and the tower make it a good example of complete Western Chalukyan art which speaks volumes about the taste of the Chalukyan artisans. An inscription dated 1112 CE in the temple calls it “Emperor among Temples” (Devalaya Chakravarti).The temple has a special place on the tourist map of Karnataka. The monument and sculptures that adorn the walls of the temple have a rich architectural value. This temple is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva.
One can have a glimpse of the high-towered Mahadeva Temple and a cluster of small temples around it while travelling on Koppal-Yelburga Road. It takes a few hours to watch the remnants of the temple and the architectural skill that glitter in daylight.
The east-faced main temple comprises a shrine with an antechamber, a closed hall with porches on either side of it towards north and south, and openings on either side with pillared halls. The temple roof is supported by 68 carved pillars. Of them, 26 are on the floor and the rest on the stone bench surrounding the hall and carrying the sloping eaves.
The carved columns are symmetrically arranged. The slabs on the central part of the ceiling have “Makaras” which spring from the jaws of “Kirtimuka” masks.
The walls of the inner hall are adorned with rich sculptures. The pentagon-shaped sanctum sanctorum and its outer walls have beautiful carvings. The 15-foot high main tower of the temple has carvings and projecting cornices.
The Mahadeva Temple is also known for its erotic sculptures. The temple has a “puskarani (teertha)” on its front side, which is still used by the villagers.
The Mahadeva temple is officially protected as a national monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. This Temple has a history that is older than Hampi. The temple and its surroundings have been neglected for the past few centuries. The sculptures around the temple are in shambles. Hope Karnataka government takes proper care in protecting these Chalukyan architectural wonders.
On a bright Sunday morning, when we hit the roads to explore places around Mahabubnagar little did I know that it would mark a beginning to quite a few things in my life…. like my first outing with my new buddies while pursuing post graduation, my first time properly exploring Palamoor and getting lost in its mesmerizing beauty and then writing about it in my very first blog!!
So we started our journey after finishing quick rounds at the Hospital we work at, around 12 noon ( yes you guessed it right, we are Docs!) and picking up some snacks and drinks for our journey to The Khilla Ghanpur, located at a distance of around 26km from mahabubnagar. We managed to cover the distance in about 30 mins with loads of enthusiasm and predictions about the place as we didn’t have much idea about it. Ghanpur is a small village and the roads were pretty narrow so we decided to park the car at a safe spot and start our trek to discover the fort. We managed to reach the top in another 40 mins with an amazing drizzly weather to increase the beauty of the hike.
It was a magnificent view indeed from the top of the rocks with remnants of fort wall, and a lovely pond underneath. We passed through a giant fort door, saw some great Flora and Fauna an absolute treat for a nature lover to finally reach the top. We were a little distracted in between though by a group of wild monkeys far away making gruesome noises. All this was soon forgotten after reaching the hilltop and capturing the scenic beauty of the less trodden fort in the memories forever!!
A brief insight into the history of the fort…
The Ghanpur Fort is a hill fort built on a rocky hill by King Gona Ganapa Reddy in early 13th century. He ruled this area as a feudatory to Kakatiya rulers. Gona Ganapa Reddy is son of Gona Budda Reddy who was famous as the poet of Ranganatha Ramayana, a pioneering Telugu Literature. Khilla Ghanpur also known as Ghanpur, Ganapuram, was named after Kakatiya king Ganapathi Deva. Since this Ghanpur has a Khilla (fort). The name “Khilla Ghanpur” became much more popular. There are several towns in Kakatiya kingdom with its name as Ghanpur.
Khilla Ghanpur was built by joining two mountains by Recharla Padma Nayakulu and Gona Ganapa reddy in 1224 A.D. This fort has witnessed many wars between Bahamanis, Vijayanagara Kings, Bijapur Kings and Qutub Shahi Kings etc. The cannons which still exist have been kept on the top most side of the fort.The fort is spread on rocky and hilly area of 4 Sq kilometers and though its dilapidated there are several remains of the walls and building blocks inside the fort. The fort has beautiful rockscapes and greenery with 2 ponds which were used as drinking water supply for the fort army.
People believe that there are two secret tunnels inside of the fort. One is connected with the village at the bottom of the mountain and the other one is connected to the Panagal fort. After Buddapuram war,this fort has witnessed a historical wedding of Kakatiya’s last king Pratapa Rudra with Gona Ganna Reddy’s daughter.
Some of the beautiful Landscapes:
So that’s a take on its past but right now it’s a quiet and serene place which was a treat for the wanderlust in me and my buddies.
After spending a wonderful evening, when the sun was setting, we headed back to our car as the clouds were also getting darker indicating more rainfall. We Had dinner at our local favorite hotel 97 on the way back and reached our place to end the eventful day.
Guest post by Dr. Meghana Subhash
Kadiri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple is located in Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is said that devotees who offer prayers here get relieved of their sorrows, sufferings and sins.
The town got its name from Khadri, in Sanskrit, meaning Indian mulberry. It is believed that Lord Shri Khadri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy came out of this tree. The main deity in this temple is Ashta Bahu Shri Narasimha who has eight hands clawing open the body of Hiranyakashipu. This was one of the ten avatars or reincarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Narasimha means ‘Man Lion’ as that was the form taken by Lord Vishnu to kill Hiranyakashipu who could not be killed otherwise. It is merely a mention on how truth can overcome evil despite the difficulties. He is envisioned as a half man with the torso and lower body and the face and hands, that of a lion.
It is said that Lord Narasimha emerged from the Khadri tree to act his part in killing Hiranyakashipu at this place. The temple was built by one Ranganayudu, a Palegar of Pathariapattanam.
The Rangamantapam has been ornately carved with scenes from the Ramayana and further down, the Lakshmi mantapa has depictions of the Mahabharatha. There are inscriptions on what the rulers have given to the temple. The carvings and scriptures have started fading due to the vagaries of climate and weather.
Infotips: The temple opens at 6:30am until 12:45pm and then it will be closed at 12:45am and it starts at 16:30hours in the evening and continues till 20:30hours in the night. The temple remains closed from 12:45 to 4:30pm in the afternoon.
Commonly known as Water Apple or Java Apple in the rest of the world, Bengal knows this fruit as the good old Jamrul. It originated from the region between Malaysia and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, where they grow as wild trees in the coastal forests. But it has now been introduced in many Asian countries including India.
This evergreen tree of the Myrtaceae family grows to a height of 5m to 12m. The fruit in itself is watery and slightly sweet. It has very thin skin with colorless juice. The fruit contains one or two seeds or no seed at all. The attractive fruits resemble bell-shaped berries.
When mature, the fruit will puff outwards with a slight concavity in the middle. The color of the fruits ranges from white to pale green. There are two types of Jamrul fruits one having white fruits and the other with pink fruits.
Java Apple must be plucked carefully, because bruised fruits rots easily. The fruits are generally served uncut and eaten fresh. In some places the fruits are used to make pickles.
Their astringent flowers are said to stop fever and diarrhoea and they have low energy value. The carbohydrate level in ripe Jamruls is about 4g per 100g but there is fair amount of Vitamin C in it.
The red hard wood of the Water Apple tree is used for constructing huts in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.