Nanda Devi Mandir: a refuge in busy Almora

One of Nanda Devi's two thousand-year-old temple towers, and its ancient peepul tree. Almora, Uttarakhand.
One of Nanda Devi Mandir’s two thousand-year-old temple towers, and its ancient peepul tree.

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.

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Chandika Mandir in Bageshwar: a short urban hike

View of Chandika Temple high on a hill above the Saryu River, Bageshwar, Uttarakandh
View from Bhagnath Temple. Chandika Temple is on the right peak; zoom in and you can just see the buildings.

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.

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Morning walk to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi

Morning worshippers at the holy pond of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, New Delhi
One corner of the holy pond. A few selfies were taking place here.

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.

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Heat, chaos and memories: Pahar Ganj in June

A lady with a heap of marigolds, with several men and two traditional cycle rickshaws behind. Pahar Ganj, Delhi.
This scene, with the heap of marigolds and the cycle rickshaws, could just as easily been captured when I first came to stay in Pahar Ganj in 1980.

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.

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22 generations of terracotta artistry

Terracotta horses, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Terracotta_horses,_Sanskriti_Museum.JPGYesterday 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.

 

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More about the beaches of Gokarna

Pilgrims from Maharashtra dancing on Gokarna Beach
Pilgrims from Maharashtra dancing on Gokarna Beach

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.

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