Wednesday, 11 February 2015

My visit to Ranthumbore National  Park, and Fort at Swai Madhopur

I was in Gwalior on 4th to 5th February afternoon to attend one of nephews wedding. He got married to Sneha.  Several relatives of mine had come for the wedding and we had a gala time.

After lunch in the afternoon I went to Swai Madhopurr to visit Rathumbore National Park. I took a train at 3.30 pm from Gwalior to Mathura. Around 9 pm I took another train from Mathura to Swai Madhopur and reached around mid-night. Fortunately my hotel people had sent me a pickup.  Swai Madhopur is on the Mumbai and N.Delhi rail route. I stayed at Hotel Green View which is around 10 km from the National Park.

6th February, 2015

Since I checked in around 12 mid-night, I took rest in the morning as my safari was in the afternoon from 2.30 pm to 6.00 pm.  After my breakfast, around 2 pm I was picked up by the safari jeep accompanied by a guide and we entered the park around 2.30 pm after picking up others.  Our guide was an excellent person with good knowledge. Straight away he took us to Zone 3 near the lake. Suddenly he noticed a female tiger named Krishna (T-19)  sleeping in the lake.  This  tiger had delivered four babies 10 months back.  Out of four babies, I was told one baby died and other three are in tact.  This tiger was lying down and in between she used to get up. Since we need to get out of the park at 6 pm we left the place but we were lucky to spot one. She made us wait for three hours in the same spot and did not get up till we left the place.

A brief about Ranthumbhore National Park and Fort
Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest and most renowned national park in Northern India. The park is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, which is about 130 km from Jaipur. Being considered as one of the famous and former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, today the Ranthambore National Park terrain is major wildlife tourist attraction spot that has pulled the attention of many wildlife photographers and lovers in this destination.

Ranthambore National park contains a huge variety of animals, birds and reptiles within it. Primarialy the population consists of...

Animals: Tigers, Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Sambar deer, Chital, Nilgai, Common or Hanuman langurs, Macaques, Jackals, Jungle cats, Caracals, Sloth bears, Black bucks, Rufoustailed Hare, Indian Wild Boar, Chinkara, Common Palm Civets or Toddy cat, Coomon Yellow Bats, Desert Cats, Fivestriped Palm Squirels, Indian False Vampires, Indian Flying Foxes, Indian Foxes, Indian Gerbilles, Indian Mole Rats, Indian Porcupines, Longeared Hedgehogs, Ratels, Small Indian Mongoose, Small Indian Civets and Common mongoose. –

The park also has a large number of marsh crocs Reptiles: Snub Nosed Marsh Crocodiles, Desert Monitor Lizards, Tortoise, Banded Kraits, Cobras, Common Kraits, Ganga Soft Shelled Turtles, Indian Pythons, North Indian Flap Shelled Turtles, Rat Snakes, Russel's Vipers, Saw-scaled Vipers and the Indian Chamaeleon
Safari Timing
Timings for entry into, and exit from, the park vary according to the season. In winters, due to the shorter duration of daylight hours, the morning entry time is later and evening exit time is earlier.

After dropping others in their hotels, we reached my hotel around 7.00 pm.  Since I was very tired I had my dinner (as I did not have my lunch) I had my dinner around 7.30 pm and went to sleep early as I had planned to have one more safari on the month of 7th at 6.00 am.

7th February, 2015

I was picked up another jeep with another guide at 6.00 am. By 7.15 am we entered into the jungle and went to Zone 2. Unfortunately we did not see any tiget in Zone 2 but we saw several other animals/birds which was excellent.

Around 11.30 am I reached my hotel and I had my breakfast. Again skipping my lunch around 2 pm I was taken to Swai Madhopur Fort where I was told there are three famous temples – ganesha,  jain , and Laxmi Narayarana.  Fort is very steep and returned around 3.30 pm to the hotel.

Ranthambore Fort
This fort stands majestically atop a hill overlooking the entire park. The walk up, one of the only places this mode of transport is possible, is a very refreshing and exciting one as even the big cats have been spotted up there! The view of the surrounding keeps getting better and better as you go up but the view from the fort itself can only be described as breathtaking. It is advisable to take along a good pair of binoculars and if possible a camera with a very powerful lens when visiting the fort.

The soaring Serpent eagles, vultures and other birds can be seen at eye level. Many animals can also be seen along the edges of all the water bodies, which are all visible from here. The fort itself also offers many interesting architectural and historical sights worth viewing and photographing.
In this fort, there is a ganesha temple which is very famous. Also a Jain  and Laxmi Narayaran temples.

Since I had no plan to go out I saw two old hindi movies in the T.V  Around 8.30 pm had my dinner and went to sleep.

8th February, 2015

After my breakfast around 11.30 am I went to the Swai Madhopur  station to take a train to Ujjain at 1.30 pm.

Overall my trip was excellent. Food in the hotel, and  their services were fantastic. Mr. Rathore who runs this place is a nice guy who is also a professional guide. Most likely within three to four months he is planning to start his own resort.  He is from hotel industry and worked with Taj, Swai Madhopur and other hotels for several years.  In case you plan to visit this Nation Park you can get in touch with him. He contact number is 09251086627/09414726616.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

My  visit to Parbhani, Auranabad and Nasik (Maharashtra)

On the 5th January, 2015 I took  Topavan Express  from V.T. Station to Parbhani. The train left at 6.15 am and passed through Kalyan, Igatpuri, Nasik, Manmad, and Aurangabad.  Finally  I reached Parabani at 4.30 pm.  On arrival, I checked in at Hotel Gulmor (can  be called a lodge rather than a hotel).  Pretty decent place to stay – say a 10x10 room with a small clean toilet.  They charged Rs.700/- per night.  After freshening up, I went to have my dinner a nearby hotel.  One thing which I noticed in this city is that the restaurant may not be that clean but the food is  awesome.  Since it was freezing cold, I went to sleep early. Contact No. of this lodge is 02452 2230 617. It is round two km from the railway station.

6th January - Parli Vaijnath Temple
On the 4th morning, exactly at 6 am the taxi reported to go to Parli Vaijnath temple. Parli Vaijnath, a shrine for the 5th of the 12 jyotirlingas of Lord Siva is situated in the Beed District of the state of Maharashtra which is around 70 km (approximately) from Parbhani city. 

As you know, India is dotted with countless millions of temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Everywhere Lord Shiva is work shipped in his Linga or phallic form. However, according to the scriptures, 12 of the countless millions are Jyotirlingas, which are given special status by the scriptures. Parli Vaijnath is the 5th of them as per the famous Jyotirlingam Stotra.

This temple is majestic temple situated on the low hill.  It is surrounded on all sides by a high and strong wall., There is a wide staircase called “Ghat” through which devotees enter the temple. The original ghat was built in 1108 A.D  Outside the high wall, there is a pillar with multiple lamp stands on it. It is called the Deep Stambha.
The court hall and the Garvriha (sanctum sanctorum) are situated at the same level, which is an unusual thing for a Shiva temple (in almost all cases, the sanctum sanctorum is situated at a lower level than the court hall and the devotees have to descent to offer work ship t the presiding deity of the temple). The shiva lingam here is of black stone (shaligram stone). One can touch the lingam and do abishakam. There is no restriction on the basis of case or creed. 

This temple is same as vaidyanath,  the god of the physicians. It is said that the shiva lingam here possesses divine power to cure all diseases. 

The original temple was renovated by the queen Rani Ahilyabai Holkar in the 18th century .A.D.
Restrictions: (1) No cameras are allowed inside the temple premises.  (2) To do abishakam, one needs to remove shift, T-shirt or Bannian (applicable for Men) . In addition,  leather item especially  l belt etc. should be removed before doing abishakam.

Temple timings: Opens at 6 am till 9 pm.

A visit to this place has a calming effect on body and mind.

Sri Naganath Temple (Aunda)

I was back in the City around 10.15 am to visit Sri Naganath temple at Aunda. In order to visit this temple from Parli Vaijnath, one needs to pass through the city of Parbhani.

This temple is around 50 km from Parbhani city. The architectural beauty of the Nagesh Temple is simply exquisite. It was told that this temple was built during the Pandava period. It is also a meeting point for Hari Hara. In  this mixed holy place, Lord Krishna’s festivals too are celebrated along with  Lord Shankara’s festivals.
In order to work ship the Lord (Shiva and Vishnu) one needs to go down to the basement.  At a time only 10 devotees can be in the basement. Till these 10 devotees come out, other devotees are not allowed inside the basement.  The height of the ceiling is around 5 to 5-1/2 feet. Hence devotees need to be very careful about their head.

There is no distinction between Bel and Tulsi here. Mahadev is offered Tulsi leaves and Vishnu is offered Bel  leaves.  This unique practice is seen only in this temple. 

It is claimed that Markandeya obtained his boon of life here in Parali from Vaidyanatha., The story of Satyavan and Savitri too is based in Parali.  Lord Ganesha’s idol without the usual trunk and in a sitting posture like a body builder can be seen here. 

Temple timings: This temple opens at 6 am and is not closed till 9 pm.

Again photography is totally banned inside the temple premises.

Around 1 pm I was back in the city. The driver and self had an excellent lunch at Vatika Restaurant which is very popular in Parbhani.  Driver Shankar is an excellent driver and his mobile no. is 9503924192.
Around 10.30 pm I had an excellent dinner in a small restaurant next to the Parabhani railway station. It was awesome dinner. Thereafter I took Ajantha Express around 0.40 hrs to Aurangabad.  Ajanatha Express runs between Secunderabad and Manmad. 

7th January – Aurangabad

I reached  Aurangabad around 4.30 am as the train was late by 45 minutes.  I checked in Preetham Hotel (again it is a lodge) which is 2 mts walk from the railway station. A decent room and a bathroom  that is what I was expecting.  After checking in, I slept till 8 am as I had told my driver to pick me up around 9 am. Again it was very cold.

After taking bath I went for breakfast at Tirupati Restaurant next to the Lodge where I was staying. It was a decent breakfast.  Around 9 am I left to visit Sri Grishneshwar Temple. This temple is located on the NH 211 which leads to Dhule. This road passes by the base of the Daultabad fort.

Grishneshwar Temple

This temple is supposed to be the last one on the holy pilgrimage of Jyotir Lingas.
This temple is around 30 km from the city and very close to Ellora Caves. It is situated in a small village called Verul.  In this village there is a place of pilgrimage called Shivalay, when the great Holy Trilinga of Ghrishneshwar is located.  

This jyotirlinga is said to be self oriented. According to historical records it was built in 7th Century by Sati Ahiliya Bai and mother in law Gautam Bai. There is a small entrance, passing which one reaches the courtyard of the temple. Half portion of the temple is of red sand stone and the other half seems to be of plaster. It contains a shivling infront of which is the marble image of Goddess parvati. A fair is held every year on maha shivaratri. It is the 12th Jyotirling of Shiva. 

Temple timings: From 6 am till 9 pm.

Here too no photography is allowed inside the temple premises

Ellora Caves

The cave temples of Ellora are the product of three religious systems. Buddhism, Brahmanism (Hinduism), and Jainism containing elaborate carvings of goods and goddesses and remarkable memorials of the three great faiths  they represent.

Each system had its individual style of architecture and Ellora presents the varied styles side by side. The sculptural work, too, reveals the points of conrtrast. The excavations on a sloping hill side are spread over an area from north to south, of about two kilometres. Caves l to 12 making the southern series are Buddhist. The next sixteen belong to Brahmanism Caves, 30 to 34 are in the jain group. The Buddhist caves are the earliest (500 to 700 AD). Out of these three, Brahmanism caves are beautiful which are also  called Kailash Temple.  Totally there are 34 caves.

Daulatabad Fort

From Ellora caves I went to see Daulatabad Fort. The great pyramidal shape is visible from a good distance as it dominates the landscape. 

The history goes back to the 12th century, when it was the capital of the Hindu Kingdoms in the Deccan and was called Deogiri, the hill of the gods. This fort was constructed by Raja Bhillamraj, of Yadav Dynasty who was a great general of his time. However, this fort yielded to enemy assault and passed into the possession of the Sultans of Delhi in 1308 A.D.

After 30 years, the great Muhammad Tughlak ascending the Delhi throne, ordered his capital to be moved to the southern city which is he renamed Daulatabad, the city of Fortune. It was a transplantation rather than a transfer for Delhi’s entire population-men, women and children-rich and poor alike, were to move out in a mass to the new capital. Even the sick and the dying were not exempted from this journey, that involved a terrible toll in human misery and thousands of Delhi citizen perished on the way. And it was all in vain. The sultan  regretted his decision and repeating his act of madness, ordered the whole mass of migrants to move back to the abandoned capital.


There are gateways, mosques and numerous tombs within a few distance from Daulatabad Fort the famous being the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Aurangazed in Khuldabad.  It is further up the road and close to Ellora caves.  It is a tomb of the simplest kind., The emperor  who was one of the richest and most powerful man of his time, had left instructions that his last resting place should be built only with the few rupees he had earned by stitching cloth caps, and that like a poor man’s grave, it was to be covered simply with earth. 


During Mughal times, the Panchakki or watermill derived its names from a mill worked by water power for grinding corn for the poor and the military garrison. The water flows down through clay pipes based on the siphon system from a distance of ll milometers, It was built in 1624 A.D. to commemorate a Muslim saint Baba Shah Muzaffar who iswas a spiritual preceptor of Emperor Aurangzeb. 


The beautiful  mausoleum of Aurangzeb’s wife, is believed to have been constructed by Prince Azam Shah in memory of his mother Rabia-ul-Durrani alias Dilras Banu Begum between 1651-1661 A.D.
It was modelled on the Taj Mahal at Agra, the creation of Aurangzeb’s father Shahjahan. However, it is a poor imitation, the exterior lacks in symmetry.  However, this has its own splendour and grace.
An entry fee of Rs.5 per head and it is open from 6 anm to 8.30 pm. On Friday, entry is free for all.

After visiting all these places I returned to the hotel after having a nice North Indian Thalli. 

8th January – Ajanta Caves

 Ajanta caves   is around 104 kms from the City of Aurangabad.  At the end of 7th century, Buddhism began to decline n the land of its original and its shrines fell into desolation and ruin. For thousand years, Ajanta lay buried in the jungle clad slopes of the western mountain range, until in 1819 it was discovered accidentally.

There are 30 caves, some of them unfinished. Sixteen contain mural paintings especially about Buddha but he best work is to be found in caves 1,2, 16, 17 and 19. The best sculptures are seen in Caves 1,4,17,19,24 and 26. The numbering of these caves has been done in consecutive order and has no relation to their chronologic sequence. It starts at the western extremity of the rock near the entrance.  The present entrance does not seem to have been the original approach to the excavations. 

Both Ajanta and Ellora have gained international renown and re-designated as World Heritage Sites.

9th January, Nasik

On the 9th morning, at 6 am I left for Nasik by Shatabdi Express and  reached Nasik around 8.45 am.  My friend had organised his driver and car to take me to Trimbakeshwar Temple. Luckily my trip to Trimbakeshwar was early as I was told by 25th or so the Kubha Mela will start in Trimbakeshwar temple. 

Trimbakeshwar Temple is an ancient Hindu temple in the town of Trimbak in Nasik district of Maharashtra state. It is 28 km from the main city of Nasik.  It is one of the 12 jyotrilinga temples having three faces of symbolizing Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva.  Due to too much use of water, the linga has started to erode. It is said that this erosion symbolizes the eroding naure of human society.  This temple is constructed on black stones and  is located at the foothills of Brahmagiri mountain ranges on the backdrop of undulated landscapes. Only in this temple, the authorities never allow devotees to enter the sanctum sanctorum.

Temple timings: temple opens from 5,30 am  to 9 pm,

The sources of the Godavari originate from the Brahmagiri Mountain, This temple is located at the source of Godavari River, the longest river in India. This river originates from Bramhagiri mountains and meets the sea near Rajahmundry,, Kusavarta, a kund is considered the symbolic origin of the river Godavari, and revered by Hndus as a sacred bathing place at Trambakeshwar temple.

Out of five jyothirlinga temples in Maharashtra, I covered only four and last one being Bhimashankar will be covered later

 In my opinion, there are lot of similarities between declined Nalanda University, Badami Caves and these caves especially the  wall sculptures except the mural paintings   which can be seen only in Ajanta Caves.
Also if you look at  Jyothirlinga temples architecture is very similar to Ambernath  (Mumbai)  siva temple structure.