A series of paintings by an Indian elephant have gone on sale at an upmarket gallery in New Delhi to raise money to protect the endangered animal.
Artist Alpana Ahuja used baskets of bananas and other treats to lure Phoolkali, an elephant who was rescued from her abusive owners, to create her masterpieces — giant footprints in bright hues. The trick, she said, was to catch the elephant in a good mood, dab paint on its foot and press it against a giant canvas.
The money raised from their sale will be used towards elephant conservation, said Babita Gupta, the art director of the ArtSpice gallery, where the paintings are on show until September 19.
The exhibition is timed to coincide with the Indian festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, which begins on Friday and celebrates the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha.
The World Wildlife Fund estimates the population of the Indian elephant between 20,000 – 25,000. They are often kept in pathetic conditions by their masters and trafficked illegally.
The Buddha Park of Ravangla, also known as Tathagata Tsal, is situated near Rabong (Ravangla) in South Sikkim district, Sikkim, India. Tathagata is Sanskrit and Pali word. It’s used to refer to Lord Buddha. The term is often thought to mean either “one who has thus gone” (tathā-gata) or “one who has thus come” (tathā-āgata). This is interpreted as signifying that the Tathagata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena.
Lord Buddha is quoted on numerous occasions in the Pali Canon as referring to himself as the Tathagata instead of using the pronouns me, I or myself. This may be meant to emphasize by implication that the teaching is uttered by one who has transcended the human condition, one beyond the otherwise endless cycle of rebirth and death, i.e. beyond suffering.
This place was constructed in 2006-13 and features a 128-foot high statue of the Buddha as its centerpiece.
The site was chosen within the larger religious complex of the Rabong Gompa (Monastery), itself a centuries-old place of pilgrimage. Also nearby is Ralang Monastery, a key monastery in Tibetan Buddhism.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama consecrated the colossal 128 foot hammered copper statue of the Buddha, which he had earlier named Tathagata Tsal, at Ravangla. The statue of the Buddha marks the occasion of the 2550th birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha.
There’s huge gate with murals depicting Jataka tales – on the previous lives of Gautam Buddha.
The temple closes for public by 5:30 p.m. We just managed to get in as last visitors of the day. The main temple is below the huge statue of Lord Buddha. It has a huge hall and the walls have images of Lord Buddha and on his life.
There’s a museum too but we couldn’t see it as it’s getting closed.
There are a large number of steps to come down to the park and walk up a large number of steps to get to the temple.
After getting out of the park, we had “jhal muri” and hot tea from street vendors. We returned to Gangtok through beautiful green road.
Char Dham or Siddhesvara Dham is a unique pilgrimage tourism venture of the Sikkim Government developed as “ Pilgrim cum Cultural Centre” having a 108 ft statue of Lord Shiva and replicas of four Dhams of the country at one place at Solophok hilltop in Namchi. Jaya & Babai visited this place last year. This time they came with me and Jaya’s father.
Char Dham are the names of four pilgrimage sites in India that are widely revered by Hindus. It comprises Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameswaram. It is considered highly sacred by Hindus to visit Char Dham during one’s lifetime.
The four most revered Dhams of the Hindus — Jagannath, Dwarika, Rameshawaram, Badrinath have been replicated in this fantastic complex to benefit the devotees and tourists.
For the consecration of the Dham Shri Jagadguru Sankaryacharya Swami Swarupananda Saraswati did the “Pran Prastisha” of the Dham.
There are replicas of the “Dwadash Jyotirlingas” (the twelve jyothirlinga) of Somnath, Mallikarjuna, Mahakaleswar, Omkareshwar, Kedarnath, Bhimashankar, Viswanath, Triambakeshwar, Vaidyanath, Nageswar, Rameshwar and Grishneshwar surrounding the statue of Lord Shiva and the Char Dhams.
There is a grand statue of Kirateshvar Mahadev and a temple of Shirdi Sai Baba too.
In Hindu mythology, it is believed that Lord Shiva, after losing Sati in Agnikund, had gone into seclusion and became a hunter in the forests of Sikkim. There is also a famous Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple at Legship, in West Sikkim along the banks of River Rangeet.
On our way to Char Dham, we went to Samdruptse, near Namchi. Samdruptse is situated at around 75 km from Gangtok.
Samdruptse literally means ‘wish fulfilling hill’ in the Bhutia language. A unique, awe-inspiring and gigangtic 135 feet high statue of Guru Rinpoche a.k.a. Guru Padamasambhava is installed atop Samdruptse.
Padmasambhava was born into a Brahmin family of Northwest India. According to tradition, Padmasambhava was incarnated as an eight-year-old child appearing in a lotus blossom floating in Lake Dhanakosha, in the kingdom of Oḍḍiyāna in the present Swat Valley of Pakistan. His special nature was recognized by the childless local king of Oḍḍiyāna and was chosen to take over the kingdom, but he left Oḍḍiyāna for northern parts of India.
It is the highest statue of Guru Padamasambhava in the world. His Holiness the Dalai Lama laid the foundation stone of the statue in October 1997. It was completed in February 2004.
The land of Sikkim, at the border of India and Tibet, was consecrated as a hidden sanctuary for the Buddha’s teachings by the great master Padmasambhava, who blessed it with the vajra wisdom of his body, speech, and mind. He is considered as the second Buddha.
The path leading to the hill-top is lined by coloured flags with Buddhist hymns were being played through sound system placed along side the pathway.
People have been stacking stones to make cairns. Earlier used as messengers, signs and landmarks in unoccupied lands, locals suggest that they are also known to bring good luck for travellers.
Guru Rinpoche is the patron saint of Sikkim. Padmasambhava is said to have transmitted Buddhism to Tibet, Bhutan and neighboring countries in the 8th century CE. In these lands he is better known as Guru Rinpoche (precious Guru). He introduced the people of Tibet to the practice of Tantric Buddhism.
It is also said that the Samdruptse hill is actually a Dormant Volcano.
Myths say that the buddhist monks have been going on top of the hill and offering prayers to the volcano to keep it calm.
In the hillock at the back of the statue, Buddhists place their prayer flags and built cairns stacking stones to bring good luck to them on the top of ‘wish fulfilling hill’.
On March 30, Yo Yo Honey Singh performed live in Ranchi. We booked our tickets online a couple of days before. His concert was at JSCA stadium at Dhurwa in Ranchi.
We reached the stadium at 7:30 p.m. as the concert was to begin from 7:30 p.m.
There was a huge crowd for the live concert. A DJ was playing music to entertain the crowd. A few local dance groups gave their stage performance before Honey Singh took the stage. He came on the stage at around 9:00 p.m.
He enthused the audience with his lively, popular songs.
Suddenly after finishing his famous “Sunny Sunny…” song he left the stage saying that he would come again next year. The public was not ready for such early and abrupt end of the show. It was just 10:00 p.m. then and it’s too early. He sang a few songs only. I felt cheated and so do many others, too.
An excerpt from a famous poem written in Bangla language by Jibanananda Das (translated in English for a larger audience):
At the day’s end evening crawls in like the sound of dews,
The kite flaps off the smell of sun from its wings.
When all colors take leave from the world
except for the flicker of the hovering fireflies
The stories are ready to be told
All birds come home, rivers too,
All tasks of the day being over
Nothing remains but darkness
to sit face to face with Banalata Sen.
On our way to Rajkot during our return phase of our pilgrimage trip from Somnath, we entered the Gondal city to see the royal palaces. It is a city in Rajkot district of Gujarat.
Gondal state was one of the eight first class princely states of Kathiawar Agency during Bombay Presidency. Gondal finds mention in texts like Ain-i-Akbari (written in the reign of Akbar) and Mirat-i-Ahmadi as Vaghela state in Sorath (Saurashtra). The Gondal state in Kathiawar Agency was founded in 1634 by Thakore Shri Kumbhoji I Meramanji from Jadeja dynasty, who received Ardoi and other villages from his father Meramanji.
Later Sir Bhagwat Sinhji who reigned from 1888 until his death in 1944, was its most noted ruler, known for his various tax reforms, compulsory education for women and also removing the purdah tradition for women at a time when the royal households of India were known for this tradition.
Naulakha Durbargarh Palace was built during the 17th century. This palace is one of the oldest and the most beautiful palace in Gondal. This palace is situated on the banks of the river on a grand masonry base, rising to the monumental scale of at least 30 meter above the river bed. This palace was built in about rupees nine lakhs then and thus named so.
The palace is approached by the high gateway with the clock tower from the town side.
The entrance leads to a huge open space with administrative blocks on the right and a grand staircase with balustrade on the extreme left corner leading to the intricately carved pavilions on the open terrace.
There are stone carvings with exquisite balconies, fabulous pillared courtyard, delicately carved arches, and a unique spiral staircase in the palace.
The grand Darbar Hall has series of huge windows which open into long balcony supported by intricately carved brackets. This balcony overlooks the river.
The Darbar Hall has large chandeliers, stuffed panthers, gilt wooden furniture and antique Belgian mirrors.
The private palace museum displays artifacts, gifts and messages received by Maharaja Bhagwat Sinhji as a ruler of Gondal, on his 50th birthday and various other relics.
There are many old horse-drawn carriages kept in the palace for public display.
The Huzoor Palace is the current royal residence, whose one wing is opened for public.
It is known as the Orchard Palace because of its huge surroundings of fruit orchards, lawns and gardens.
There are many peacocks in the gardens of the palace.
The Room of miniatures is a splendid sitting room with a collection of miniature paintings, brass, and antique furniture.
The palace estate houses a collection of vintage and classic cars from pre-1910 to contemporary makes, a royal rail saloon beautifully finished with inlaid wood and ornate furniture. The Royal Garages have an extensive collection of vintage and classic cars, for which it has been famous all over the world.
There is one railway couch available for public view in this palace, which was one part of Gondal Royal Railway.
Rain is following us everywhere. Here also it was raining almost continuously as we were having the tour of these palaces. The rain affected my photography too.
Kahramana roundabout is regarded as one of the most famous spots in Baghdad. It is located on the crossroads between the famous Karrada Dakhil and Karrada Kharij districts. People driving by the roundabout can see the Statue of a beautiful young girl carrying a jar and pouring water down and surrounded by another forty jars around her.
I was going round it today while going to Iqama office in Baghdad. I liked the statue and on return to my home I googled about it. The statue was made during the 1960s, by an artist named Mohammed Gheni. He also made two big statues of king Shahryar and his wife Scheherazade on Abu Nawas Street.
Many people believe that the statue of Kahramana is related to the story of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, from the One Thousand and One Nights, which is often known in English as the Arabian Nights. It is a statue depicting part of the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The slave girl Morgiana pours boiling oil into storage jars where the thieves are lying in wait to attack her master.
However, there are many others, who tell another story about the young and smart Kahramana, who used to help her father running a small hotel in old Baghdad. The father used to bring a cart full of empty jars, and in the next morning he fills each jar with oil and sells them in the market. On a cold winter night, Kahramana heard some noise and later discovered that there were thieves hiding in the empty jars. Their heads were only visible to watch. Kahramana went to her father’s room, woke him up, and told him about what she saw. They came up with an idea to make some noise in the hotel so the thieves would hide completely inside the jars. When this happened, Kahramana filled a jar with oil and started pouring the oil on every single jar with a thief hiding in it. The thieves began screaming, and one after the other jumped out of the jars, by the time this happened, the police came and arrested them. This is the story as it is told in old tales, and it dates back to the pre-Islamic era. May be Ali Baba story was derived from this old folklore.
In the early morning today, while returning to Baghdad, I found live performance of Indian classical music at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any music lover stopping for a while to enjoy the music. I was alone there for sometime!