Alan and I enjoyed staying in Almora, but we wanted to find a quieter place, somewhere we could take long country walks without continually dodging motorcycles, trucks and taxis. As soon as we found our guesthouse in Papershali, we knew it was the right place for us.
Alan discovered Nanda Devi Mandir (“mandir” means “temple” in Hindi) during his first week in Almora, before I came to join him in India. We returned to this temple time and time again while staying in Almora, and now that we are living in a nearby village, we visit Nanda Devi whenever we’re in town for shopping or errands.
We always said we’d study Hindi together someday, when we had time, and when we were living in India. So now we’re finally doing it.
The Bell Temple – properly known as the Chitai Golu Devta Temple – is just a short walk from our guesthouse, and it’s a wonderful place to visit: full of tradition, incense and of course, the ringing of bells. (I wear earplugs.) Continue reading
After arriving in Bageshwar yesterday afternoon from Almora, we were tempted to climb up to Chandika Mandir, a beautiful temple sitting atop one of the peaks that mark Bageshwar’s location at the confluence of the Saryu and Gomti rivers.
But after nearly four hours on a bus, with a speaker directly over our heads belting out Hindi film music, we really needed a nap. So we walked around Bageshwar for an hour or so, ate lunch, and had our rest, planning to make our Chandika Mandir visit the next morning.
We’ve spent nearly a week in Almora, more time than I might have imagined we’d want to spend in a town of perhaps 36,000 people whose most famous monuments are mostly outside the town.
We wake up early, which is fortunate during the hot season. It’s been about 41° C here at the hottest time of day since I arrived two days ago, and humidity is high – nearly 50 percent. So getting out early for a walk is a good idea. Even at 6:00 AM, which is when we set out today, I was mopping myself with a handkerchief by the time we stopped for tea.
I flew into Delhi two weeks after Alan, diverted by a family wedding. As usual, we elected to stay in Pahar Ganj, located just opposite the New Delhi railway station and beside a major stop on the Delhi metro system. This means you can get on the metro at the airport and reach Pahar Ganj in 30 to 40 minutes, which is a lot faster than going by taxi during daytime hours. (Delhi traffic is legend.)
Pahar Ganj was where I settled shortly after I arrived for the first time in India in 1980. I stayed there for six weeks, just getting used to being in India. I was in Pahar Ganj again for a couple of days in 2009; it was my first visit back to India since Alan and I left together in 1982.
Yesterday our friends Satheesh and Bade sent us to visit V.K. Munusamy, an artist who makes traditional terracotta statues and sculpture, including traditional Tamil village horses and guardians. These statues are a familiar sight to those who have visited rural Tamil villages, and the making of them is a very old tradition. In Munusamy’s family, it’s a tradition that goes back 22 generations.
Munusamy lives in Villianur, about 7 kilometers from Pondicherry. It’s a pleasant village that is also home to a large and interesting Shiva temple, where we stopped for a quick visit along the way.
Gokarna is famous for having five beaches that spread southward from the largest of them, Gokarna Beach. Each is very different in character; we have visited four of them, not quite making it to the fifth. (You might want to read this overview post about Gokarna, which also has a bit about the temples.)
Gokarna Beach is easily five kilometers long from headland to headland. We’ve walked most of it, stopping at Namaste Garden a couple of times for breakfast or tea.