Pink Twins

Pink Twins
Gangtok

Yellow Villa

Yellow Villa
Gangtok

Sparkling Rai Saag

Sparkling Rai Saag
Gangtok

Lovely Poppy Flowers

Lovely Poppy Flowers
Gangtok

A Different type of Seasonal Flower

A Different type of Seasonal Flower
Gangtok

Blue Flavour

Blue Flavour
Gangtok

Pink & White Combination

Pink & White Combination

Dark Pink Flavour

Dark Pink Flavour
Gangtok 6th March 16

Purple Charm

Purple Charm
CS Quarter Gangtok

Magnificent Yellow and Red Tulip

Magnificent Yellow and Red Tulip
Conservatory Near Selep Tank

Charm of Red Tulips

Charm of Red Tulips
Conservatory near Selep Tank

Lord Buddha

Lord Buddha
1-D Terminal New Delhi

Attraction of Red Panda

Attraction of Red Panda
Saramsa Garden

Lord Ganesh made of oranges

Lord Ganesh made of oranges
Saramsa Garden

Charm of Seasonal Flower

Charm of Seasonal Flower
Gaurds Ground Gangtok

Unmatched beauty

Unmatched beauty
Sikkim Organic Festival

Green is always soothing

Green is always soothing
Sikkim Organic Festival 2016

Yellow Orchid

Yellow Orchid
Somewhere in Gangtok

White Orchid

White Orchid
Manan Kendra

Purple Orchid

Purple Orchid
Manan Kendra, 31-10-2015

Gift of Nature

Gift of Nature
Near Cherry Building

Majestic View of Sea

Majestic View of Sea
Marina, Chennai, 19-10-15

Typical Sikkim Pillar Carving and painting

Typical Sikkim Pillar Carving and painting
Hotel Nork Hill

Mirror Reflection, Changed Angle

Mirror Reflection, Changed Angle
Nork Hill, 24-11-2015

Mirror Trick

Mirror Trick
Hotel Nork Hill, Gtok, 24-11-2015

Yes we have the power

Yes we have the power
Qtr at Devt Area, 25-11-2015

Majestic View of K.jenga from SLA

Majestic View of K.jenga from SLA
Gangtok dt 20-11-2015

MIRROR IMAGE OR COMPUTER TRICK

MIRROR IMAGE OR COMPUTER TRICK
NEW DELHI 22-10-15

BRILLIANT KATHAK PERFORMANCE

BRILLIANT KATHAK PERFORMANCE
MRS MALI SMU 13-10-2015

SAROD RECITAL

SAROD RECITAL
SMU CONVOCATION 13-10-15

SHOWCASING SIKKIM CULTURE

SHOWCASING SIKKIM CULTURE
ITM GANGTOK 14-10-15

RED BEAUTY

RED BEAUTY
GANGTOK

ARCHITECTURAL MARVEL

ARCHITECTURAL MARVEL
MAYFAIR GANGTOK

OM NAMAH SHIVAY

OM NAMAH SHIVAY
MAYFAIR GANGTOK 02-11-15

Smile and Joy

Smile and Joy
24th September Delhi

Catelia Orchid

Catelia Orchid
Gangtok

Beautiful Chinaware Lampshed

Beautiful Chinaware Lampshed
Gangtok

Catelia Orchid

Catelia Orchid
Gangtok on 7-10-15

Morning Glow

Morning Glow
Denzong Regency- Gangtok on 7-10-15

Pink Orchid

Pink Orchid
Pakyong Area

Green Orchid

Green Orchid
Bojeytar Pakyong 26 Feb 15

Tabla or Log Piece

Tabla or Log Piece
HMI Darjeeling Nov 2014

Hand can do anything

Hand can do anything
Birla Science Museum Kolkata

Legacy and Heritage

Legacy and Heritage
Indian Museum Kolkata

Queen Nephretus of Egypt

Queen Nephretus of Egypt
India Museum Kolkata 4th Mar 15

A Buddhist Stone Art Piece

A Buddhist Stone Art Piece
Tashi Delek June 2014

Foot Print of Bason

Foot Print of Bason
Satpura Forest

Foot Print of Tiger

Foot Print of Tiger
Satpura Forest (MP) March 14

Unique Piece of Pine Wood

Unique Piece of Pine Wood

Lovely Twins

Lovely Twins

Pink,Pink,Pink

Pink,Pink,Pink
Orchid,not only Spl ,It lasts longer Also

Clean Water has a Different Impact

Clean Water has a Different Impact
Rangeet at Jorethang ,24-11-14

What a Ravishing Beauty ?

What a Ravishing Beauty ?
Teesta near Kalijhora, 19-12-14

Pre Dawn Captivating Beauty

Pre Dawn Captivating Beauty
K.JUNGA, 6:20 AM 18 -12-14

Another Dawn View -Different Angle

Another Dawn View -Different Angle
K.JUNGA, 18-12-14

View at Dawn in Biting Cold

View at Dawn in Biting Cold
K.JUNGA 18-12

Dawn Scene-2

Dawn Scene-2
V Awas 18 -12-14

Dawn Scenario

Dawn Scenario
K.JUNGA

Morning Means End of Night

Morning Means End of Night
K. JUNGA,

View at Dawn

View at Dawn
K.JUNGA 2 ,18-12-14

Early Morning Freshness

Early Morning Freshness
K.JUNGA, 18-12-14

What an eye opener early in the day?

What an eye opener early in the day?
View of 17-12-2014 from Terrace of V. Awas

Another view of full snow around Mt Kanchendzonga

Another view of full snow around  Mt Kanchendzonga
17-12-2014

Magnificent view after bone chilling night

Magnificent view after bone chilling night
17-12-2014

Beauty of Kachendzonga after a cold night

Beauty of Kachendzonga after a cold night
Vidhayak Awas Gangtok

Amazing charm of Green Orchid

Amazing charm of Green Orchid
HMI Darjeeling

Green Orchid

Green Orchid
HMI DARJEELING (13-11-14)

Bell Flower in full bloom

Bell Flower in full bloom

Yellow Orchid

Yellow Orchid
Dec 14 Circuit House

View of Kanchendzonga always inspires

View of Kanchendzonga always inspires
Vidhayak Aawas Gangtok

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom
November 14 Ganesh Tok Gangtok

What a view after getting up ?

What a view after getting up ?
B-1 Vidhayak Aawas Gangtok

Chanda Mama looking at Kanchendzonga

Chanda Mama looking at Kanchendzonga
11-11-2014 VIP COLONY

Red Rose

Red Rose
Gangtok

Cranes having Gala Time

Cranes having Gala Time
Tigaon, Faridabad (2nd Oct 14)

Yes I am from Faridabad

Yes I am from Faridabad
Tiny, Beautiful Bird at NTPC, Ballabgarh (29.9.14)

Water Vital for Life

Water Vital for Life
Awesome view of Teesta near Kalijhora

Yes I had a Bath

Yes I had a Bath
Gladiola at 6200 ft.

Soothing Morning View

Soothing Morning View
Mt. Khangchendzonga from C.House (April, 14)

Natural Yellow Fascinates

Natural Yellow Fascinates
Gangtok (April, 2014)

Flowery Bell ?

Flowery Bell ?
Circuit House (May 14)

Riot of Colour in Monsoon

Riot of Colour in Monsoon
Circuit House, Gangtok(May 14)

Blushing orange

Blushing orange
Circuit House Gangtok (May 14)

Magnificent Taj

Magnificent Taj
Sept 2013

I can lift Taj Mahal

I can lift Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal,Sept end 2013

Natural fan to beat the heat

Natural fan to beat the heat
India Gate (24.08.14)

Engineering Marvel

Engineering Marvel
Coronation Bridge (22.08.2014)

Cascading water, soothing to eyes

Cascading water, soothing to eyes
Scene near Teesta Baazar (22.8.14)

Teesta attracts at every bend

Teesta attracts at every bend
16.7.2014

Monkey jump

Monkey jump
Teesta River, Birik(22.8.14)

Onset of Night

Onset of Night
Qutub,Sept.13

Qutub,Dusk Scene

Qutub,Dusk Scene
Sept.13

Together we take a Plunge

Together we take a Plunge
Clean Calicut Beach, Feb-2013

Setting Sun, always soothing

Setting Sun, always soothing
Dusk at a Gaya village(15.5.13)

Green Paradise in Concrete Jungle

Green Paradise in Concrete Jungle
Lake surrounding Purana Quila(20.10.13)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Rangilu Rajkot: Perceptional Experiences of Gandhiland

        Rajkot, located on the four lane splendid highway linking Dwarka and Junagarh with Ahmadabad was the capital of erstwhile Saurashtra State from April 1948 to its merger with Bombay in November 1956. With a population of 16 lakhs, it is the fourth largest city of Gujarat. Geographically, it falls in a very dry, semi-arid region. Summer starts as early as March. While this is scorching, winter is pleasant. Literacy wise, the average of 89% is better than national figures. Demographically, while the Hindus are in a majority, Sunni Muslims are found in large numbers. Presence of Sindhis, Marathis, Bengalese and Tamils. gives it a multicultural colour. It is also a harmonious and tolerant society as hardly any communal disturbance or tension (a blot on Ahmedabad or Baroda), has ever been reported.

        By and large, the society is vegetarian. As Rajkot formed part of Kathiyawad, people are also known as Kathiyawadis. By nature, they believe in enjoying themselves, freaking and eating out even late at night. They are found gossiping in parks or roadside even after normal dinner time. Women are fond of spicy food and loading themselves with interesting pieces and patterns of embroidery coupled with a variety of jewelry. Seeing street smart girls & women on swanky Scooties strengthens the resolve regarding women’s empowerment. Why should boys have all the fun? While it is a sign of upper mobility if not a reflection of forward looking approach, the shopkeepers invariably bring down their shutters between 1.30 to 4.30 p.m. to relish their sumptuous sweet & salty lunch, religiously followed by a nap. There is, thus, no end to personal pleasure even if it makes a hole in one’s pocket.

        No description of the place is complete without throwing light on Mahatma Gandhi. Being born in Porbunder on 2nd October 1869, he studied from 5th to 11th class at Alfred High School from 1880 to 1887. Consequent upon availing of the Grand Darshan of Lord Krishna at Dwarka, I had the privilege of visiting his ancestral house in September 2009 along with Jayshree and Ankoor. So to say, a permanent link with this ‘pilgrim centre’ was established by way of presentation of a copy of Mahatma’s auto-biography to us. We chose the Hindi version, as an English version already exists in what I call, an apology to a home library. The sound of the Bhajan- Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, Pati Tapavan Sita Ram sung with melody and devotion by Jayshree on the spot was very timely and spontaneous. Same still reverberates, reminds and resonates. Also vivid are the memories of the candid interface with the unassuming sons and grandsons of neighbours and self proclaimed friends of the Mahatma, each coming out with his own version. Munching of local sweet and salty snacks and bhujia in the market, equally shared by humans & animals was refreshing, so much so that dinner comprising of different culinary flavours became a confirmed casualty.

        Turning back to the Rajkot bond of the Mahatma, during his schooling era, he had occupied a modest house built in 1880-81 in the busy main market area, now known as Kaba Gandhi No Delo in Gujarati. This is a typical Saurashtra style house with a central approach from an arched gateway. The house, now having glazed floors and optimum lighting has been kept spotlessly clean. Though, the photographs and documents have been displayed systematically, a brochure or a handout is very much needed for circulation to the visitors. Also both in Porbunder and Rajkot, the area around the heritage houses needs to be cleared up and spruced to leave a lasting impression on the tourists. In the modern world, after all, virtues and corner stones of simplicity have to be sold well to sustain interest in a man who went on to guide the destiny of nation. Attention of trusties and patrons on the spot was, therefore, drawn in this regard.

        According to the oral and written traditions, Gandhiji, son of a Diwan (Prime Minister) to the king of Rajkot had to shift to Ahmedabad for taking his matriculation examination as Rajkot was not a centre of Matric Board at that point of time. Being an ordinary student, he managed to secure barely 39.52% marks. A photo copy of his partly illegible marksheet displayed in a secluded and non-descript corner of the school bears testimony to it. Mrs. Gita Ben Ajmera, a very affectionate senior teacher incharge of the Gandhi Memorial Room of the school proudly takes you around the place and meticulously explains twenty paintings drawn by the artist Balwant Rai Joshi on the famous bhajan – Vaishnav Jan To Te Nere Kahiye written by Sri Narsingh Mehta. Gandhiji had a liking for it. Only a few personal belongings of Gandhiji are kept but not displayed properly. Very strangely, the school is waiting for some funds long promised by the D.C. Rajkot.

        The fa├žade of the school building is very impressive. Its Gothic architecture has been maintained well. Started as a Rajkot English School in 1853, it became Rajkot High School in 1866, Kattywar High School in 1868 to be rechristened as Alfred High School in 1907. In 1971, as a mark of respect and association of Mahatma Gandhi with his alma mater, it was renamed as Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi School.

        Drawing inspiration from the life and times of the Mahatma, an effort was made to cull out his considered views on humanity and environment. His views on significance of conservation of environment became the guiding and motivating force for a two day seminar on ‘Environment and Human Rights’ at Rajkot in association with the University of Saurastra. Prof. Padaliya, the V.C., though reluctant to begin with about the dates and not the idea, per se, moved positively forward and extended whole hearted support. His colleagues Prof. Dodiya and Prof. Ghosh spared no efforts for the success of the event. The discourses concentrated on………………………… Students, faculty and some social activists showed their disciplined involvement and concerted efforts. The climax in the form of typical Gujarati dances, viz, Garba, Dandia etc. and some north Indian dances left a lasting impression about the upbringing, socialization patterns and fast adoption of skills by the youngsters, especially those from the fair sex. Their childish charm, giggle, on stage chemistry and overall innocence takes you a different world. Their glamour quotient too was high, at the same time. Prof. Rathore, a senior citizen singer enthralled the audience by his memorable Md. Rafi numbers. Similar to her meticulous performance during the inaugural as an anchor, Prof. (Mrs.) Upadhaya simply impressed like a star V.J. Partly lit if not candle-lit dinner in the spacious lawn of the V.C. gave a good finishing touch. Varieties of Gujarati food were not only available but were served with grace, courtesy & dignity.

        In retrospect, even though we made a mark to remember and rekindle interest in Gandhi followed by creating some awareness on the need to conserve and protect environment from human angle, we failed in planting a few saplings due to a multitude of formalities if not idiosyncrasies connected with the VIP visits. As a consolation, the information came that plantation was not an easy proposition in this tough arid zone. For their survival and sustenance adequate water was needed, which itself is in short supply. While departing from the palatial Circuit House at the land of Mahatma, I had no option but to do a tentative compromise with the reality narrated to me.

        The delayed flight at the chaotic terminal building of Rajkot gave me more food for thought on the Mahatma and his actual relevance in modern and ‘liberalised’ India, a factor not well understood or comprehended but mentioned and repeated, time and again like a temple ritual. By the time the aircraft zooms off to dizzy heights, one thing became certain- the virtues of simplicity advocated by the Mahatma have been probably by passed, rightly or wrongly by the materialistic orientations of the people of his State. Selling Gandhism as a tourism product should not, however, be misconstrued, if we believe in the dictum- there is always a counterpoint.

        All said & done, it was an intense but liberating journey. Can we therefore think to discover Gandhi within ourselves? There is no need to plan a giant leap forward. Patience perseverance and tolerance (PPT) would do.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wayanad, The Green Land Of Paddy And Much More


            Wayanad, situated not far off from the beautiful coast of Kozhikode is considered the biggest hill station of Kerala.  The name is reported to have been derived from the word ‘Vayalnadu’, meaning the land of paddy fields.  The present District, carved out from parts of Kozhikode and Kannaur, came into existence as 12th District of state in November, 1980.  Considered to be a ‘backward’ one according to the parameters of Planning Commission, it is surprisingly one of the biggest foreign exchange earners owing to its cash crops - pepper, small cardamom, coffee, tea and some spices. It has numerous native tribes, such as, Paniyas, Kurumas, Adiyars, Kurichiyars, Ooralis and Kattunaickens. The first of the lot is perpetually afflicted by the maladies of illiteracy, malnutrition, alcoholism and so on.  Adverse effects of Endosulfam pesticide and Sickle Cell disease add to the woes.



           Sultan Bathery, the place of our halt is a Taluk headquarter. Connected to the legend of Tipu Sultan and an ancient Jain temple, it is located at a distance of 30 kms. from Kalpetta, the District headquarter.  Talking of weather, though maximum and minimum temperatures are in the range of 32-24 degree Celsius, overall, it may be considered cool.  When night sets in, temperature plummets. And you look for a blanket. Sunrise at 6.35 a.m. could be called late.  By and large, morning sky is not clear.  On some days, it can be as misty and wet as in mountains.  Same may be attributable to the existence of maximum Reserve Forest area of the state falling over here. An elevation range of 700 to 2100 metres leads to absence of fans in many buildings.

           Tourism Department Guest House, the epi-centre of our activity, is located on a higher elevation, slightly away from the main town on the National Highway leading to Ootty (95 kms.). Though, there is enough space, accommodation needs care and maintenance.  Service is good, except taking note of change of linen and a few sundry items.  Usual official plea, one hears that situation may improve on completion of a new 20 room block within the campus.

           It is quite pleasing to see traditional as well as modern typical Kerala styled tiled houses in the vicinity.  One hears the sound of Azan everyday in the pollution free atmosphere.  The Christian religious institutions have a plethora of buildings dealing with various social acts- counseling centers, health, polytecniques etc. Majority of the buildings are two storied, though owners may be super rich. Eye-catching hoardings of car manufacturers boast-price begins at Rs. 25 lakhs! They tend to compete closely with the advertisements of Kerala Silk Saris. Atleast some symbol of tradition is withstanding the onslaught of modernity.

Morning Scenario

           It is interesting to see coffee plantation for the first time. Its white flowers attract.  Height of the plant is more than that of tea. Supposedly, Pythons throng the place.  One of the tea gardens is seen in a Clergy Home.  A taste of local dust tea and coffee is different and refreshing.   A silver lining or encouraging factor about women in the state is that apart from being highly literate, they are 1035 in number per 1000 males according to 2011 Census.  By and large, they cover their heads but are not confined to houses. Many of them wearing traditional attire turned out to be active teachers, government servants, social workers and Punchayat members.  Girl children are seen rushing to schools with their heads also covered.  Men are seen selling fish, eggs, bread, biscuits etc. on a Bike or a Moped.  In the nearby villages, people are slowly waking up. In view of prosperity emanating from hard work, small constructions are seen everywhere.  One does not see any “kutcha” structure, as such. Pleasant sound of a Cuckoo kind of bird is heard off and on.  The noise of passing vehicles increases as the sun rises further by 7.00 a.m. 

           Good pristine forest is seen on both sides of the highway. It has a hard rock base, thus less vulnerable to the ecological disasters. One gets a healthy and positive impression that every institution maintains a private forest. Overall, people look contended.  Very few boards are in English.  Almost everything is in Malayalam. Only exception is the office of SCERT. It is nice feeling to observe the beauty of endemic vegetation and flowers in front of some private dwellings.  No one wears a helmet even while driving a bike with a speed of 50-60 kms. Unfortunate similarity with the main stream in this regard is noticeable.  Pope Benedict alongwith the regional Head Priests figures prominently in many posters. Bus stops look modern and clean but buses do not stop as no one is found waiting.

           A good view of the plateau and a flat mountain with an unusual small round peak can be seen from St. Mary’s Hospital and School.  A couple of well built and painted houses also make a mark in the morning sunshine.

           One is greeted with a power cut for half an hour on return. Though load shedding officially takes place for half an hour each in the morning and evening, lights invariably go off during the day time.  Consequently, one is devoid of power for almost three hours.  Still on this count, situation is better in comparison to the states in the East and North.


Market View
           In the market, most of the shops are closed but traffic is mind-boggling keeping in view the size of the place. The cars, autos and buses compete closely with each other for the limited space. But there is no stress, no misbehavior, as seen elsewhere. A few fish and flower outlets are seen doing brisk business.  Fish sold is of different varieties, including dry fish.  In the flower stalls, Jasmine dominates.  At the eating joints, mostly men clad in half Dhoti (Mundu) are seen relishing Bara, Idli, Appam, and Coffee. Fruit shops, though closed, attract in the sense that majority of them have nets in the front to allow passage of air to ensure freshness of fruits. Lottery tickets seem popular, reflecting obvious monetary ambitions.  Women do not lag behind men in their brisk sale from dawn to dusk.

           One also notices a large number of gold shops. It may be possibly on account of unchecked and unregulated remittances from abroad.  A big chain, such as, Malabar Gold and Diamonds, reportedly has managed to open 82 outlets all over the world in barely 20 years. But all that glitters is not gold. For, the presence of Counselling and De-addiction centres causes concern.

           Eye catching water melons and green coconuts are being sold in one corner of the main market. On the other extreme, fresh fruits and vegetables draw attention. An impressive Church Tower has a commanding presence at the Town Square. (Mind it, it’s a Hindu dominated area).  Such structures with an image of Jesus Christ or Virgin Mary are now a days also seen in parts of Goa, Nagaland, Mizoram etc. Supposedly, they take a cue from Hinduism if not making an attempt to imitate.

Brush With Nature

           A drive on the well maintained highway leading to Mysore through a National sanctuary turns out to be a very refreshing experience apart from ensuring a breath of fresh air, post-dinner. One is in lap of nature, away, though temporarily from the confusing if not madding crowds.  Sight of eleven deers is possible in two spells and stories only of crossing of elephants is heard. Solitude at this altitude has to be felt, not to be described.  Conservation of wildlife and nature, no wonder, is so important.   A typical Kerala style widely publicized Ayurvedic massage at a remote tourist hut is a welcome wind of change.  One should say, experiencing is believing. A conversation with a few villagers, thereafter, throws light on changing livelihood patterns.


           Leaving behind the above memories and those pertaining to schools, hostels, ICDS centres, health centres, F.P. shops, police stations, jails, visits to villages, IAY and MNREGA sites, interface with Punchayats, NGO’s, officers etc., we drive back to Kozhikode through the green, undulating, hinter land.  Tea gardens, here and there, sparkle in the morning sunshine.  A halt or two for buying local honey proves unsuccessful.  Presence of spice, craft and Ayurvedic outlets on the way impresses. A few telephone calls from the friends and relatives entertains.  After a good two and a half hours, we are shown cashew plants and some unique features of rich regional bio-diversity.  Next to follow is a place having largest number of gold shops.  One does not think that all of them had adequate security even if they thrive in terms of business.

Retreat through Golden Sand
            Saving of nearly an hour enables us to take a detour through Calicut city.  On the way, one was exposed to more prosperity specially in the dense but green pockets.  The Calicut Medical College & hospital has a towering presence due to its vast campus. It caters to a large number of patients from India & abroad.  One learns that this is the biggest in the state.  Entry into the city brings back the memories of bygone colonial days.  Traffic is on the higher side, but by and large it looks orderly.  Even when the atmosphere warms up, the first view of golden beach is amazing and awesome.  The very touch of clean sea and sand has a positive impact.  Walking bare foot is a pleasure.  The beach of blue Arabian Sea appears fairly long but having few visitors.  It gives a chance to a pair of white cranes to vent their suppressed feelings.  They simply behave like us while confronting the soothing sea waves.  It is rightly said- birds of same feather flock together.  Once one is free from sea-gazing, the view of somewhat unusual sculptors, tourists kiosks and British era bungalows have a binding effect.  Photo opportunity thus provided, is not to be missed.




            Suddenly a look at the watch together with a ‘mobile reminder’ compels us back into the car.  We hit the road at a rather rapid pace by not giving even a scant attention to a ravishing river scenario akin to state’s famous back waters.  We reach the airport almost in time to be informed, rather to be pleasantly informed that the flights to Delhi were behind schedule by an hour or so.  This gives extended time and opportunity to think about and recapitulate what we had seen and experienced in the green paradise.