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The Diary Of A Rolling Stone

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Overview of the city

Srikakulam district has the longest coast line about 193 km (120 mi) in the state of Andhra Pradesh according to Wikipedia. Srikakulam town, the headquarters of the district, is located on the east bank of the River Nagavali. Towards the east is Bay of Bengal and towards the South East is Vijayanagaram district and towards north is state of Orissa. Srikakulam was formerly known as Chicacole. Srikakulam has a vast coastline, natural resources, granite fields worth crores of rupees, historic temples.

Srikakulam is also known to many as Uttarandhra and Kalingandhra. Srikakulam, the northernmost district in Andhra Pradesh and it was ruled by Chedidianasti kings, Satavahana kings and Golkonda nawabs in the olden days. (source: srikakulaminfo.com)

We have been there for the first time.  Its nearness to Bay of Bengal and ancient temples attracted our attention. We started from Rayagada in Odhisa and reached here covering a distance of about 140 kilometers. The route had beautiful view of the mineral rich hills and forests area.

What caught my attention in Srikakulam city is the number of movie theaters. You can come across two or three on the same road with mostly Telugu movies. The posters showing the number of days the movie is running in the theater.

We didn’t get much time to hop in the city market as we were more attracted towards the beach and the temples which is outside the city.

The day we reached, it was Hanuman Jayanti. Earlier I thought Hanumanji was more worshipped in the North but I was surprised to found the ape God being worshipped in very village I had crossed during my trip. Huge idols of Hanumanji dorned the temples and the entire village had assembled to seek blessings on this auspicious occassion with community meals and cultural activities.

Kalingapatnam Beach was our first halt which is about 25 kilometers from the city.

The beach is pristine and completely undeveloped.

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Kalingapatnam Beach

Even the beach resort, Haritha Hotel, of Andhra Pradesh Tourism is under construction. However, they offer stay in non-ac room with no generator facility. So one had to stay in Srikakulam and come down here to enjoy the beach, mostly in the evenings.

The most scenic beauty of Kalingapatnam is of the River Vamasadhara merging in the Bay of Bengal.

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River Vamasadhara

 

The meeting of the two waters is distinguishably a scene not to miss. Undoubtedly it is one the safest and cleanest beaches in Andhra Pradesh. The most beautiful view is of the dancing waves of the Bay of Bengal that fall so silent where the river meets the sea. Other than that there is the light house which is way inside the village from the sea shore.

Ideally you can spend time playing in the sea waves for couple of hours but there is no food shop around or rather no shop around on the beach. The place also talks of Buddhist excavations but we could not trace it as the locals had no idea or rather they could not understand us.

Arasavilli Temple is the Sun God Temple which is located about 3.5 kilometer from the city.

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Arasavilli Temple

There are many sun temples all over the world. However, this is the only temple in the country where Sun God, “Sri Surya Narayanswamy” is worshipped. All the other sun temples do not have deities. The temple is built by Kalinga King and is as old as 7th century.

Srikurmam Temple is another must see place during the trip. The temple is about 18 kilometers from the city and is dedicated to the Kurmam Avatar i.e the tortoise Avatar of the Lord Vishu.

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Srikuramam Temple

The temple dates back to 2nd century and is the only of its kind in the world. The premise is big with a pond in the front and which is home to numerous tortoises. This is the only temple where the deity is facing westward and is in the form of a tortoise.

The beach is about 6 kilometers from the temple. We headed for the beach again and this time it was amid the coconut and palm tree grooves.

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Coconut and Palm

We also crossed a small fishermen village on the way and reached the beach which was completely naïve of any living being.

We started from Srikakulam to Raipur on road at 12.00p.m the same day. The route was Srikalum – Pondulu- Simliguda-Koraput- Jagdalpur- Dhamtri – Raipur.

The road is very smooth and so is the scenic beauty of the South Odhisa. The area being home to several tribal communities among the hill ranges of Deomali and Chandragiri mountains is a beautiful destination to visit. 8956e25284db2dbf41389768ce7b3c9d_1359344493_lHowever, it is not advisable due to the Maoists troubled area too. One can enjoy the beauty while travelling through the curves of the mountains while on the way to Jagdalpur.dEOMALI-1

We took break for lunch in Koraput, dinner break in Makdi, enroute Kanker and reached Raipur at 00.00a.m. It was completely unplanned tour but it surprised us with so many beautiful memories for life.

 

 

 

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Bhoramdeo Temple

Chattisgarh is best known for its rich tribal culture and temples. Bhoramdeo Temple is one of the major attractions of the state. This ancient temple is situated in Kawardha district of Chhattisgarh which is about 116 kilometers from the capital city of Raipur or just 20 kilometers from the Kawardha town.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and dates back to 7th to 12th Century A.D during the period of Kalachuri dynasty. This ancient temple has a close resemblance to the Konark Sun Temple in Odhisa and the Khajuraho Temples in Madhya Pradesh.

The temple was built by Nagwanshi King, Raja Ramchandra, who practiced Tantrism, an ancient form of Hindu practice that seeks to channelize the divine energy from God to human to attain Moksha. Therefore, the temple walls have magnificent erotic rock sculptures depicting various Kama sutra positions. Hence the temple is also popularly known as “The Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh.

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Rock carvings, Bhoramdeo Temple

Within the temple premises there are several other small temples dedicated to other deities. Madwa Palace within the temple premises is also another attraction. It is built like a marriage hall and resembled the wedding Mandap of Raja Ramchandra with his wife Queen Ambika Devi.

It is a must visit place during Chhattisgarh tour. The best time to visit is during the Bhoramdeo Mahotsav held in the last week of March within the temple complex. This festival gives the tourists a deep insight into the culture of the state with various tribal dance and songs.

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Bhoramdeo Mahotsav
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Mikal Hills

Apart from that the nature lovers and the adventure freak can always enjoy the picturesque beauty of the Mikal Hills and the wildlife sanctuary here. The temple is situated on the foothills of the Mikal Hills.

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EXCERPT #THEJUNGLE SERIES

Neha had heard a lot about Bhoramdeo Temple since her arrival in Raipur. The newspaper, few days back in the end of March, mentioned about the Bhoramdeo Mahotsav which she desperately wanted to visit but could not due to Ritesh’s busy schedule. She was very excited to visit the temple now.

This write up is part of my upcoming #paranormal book based on the jungles of Chhattisgarh, THE JUNGLE SERIES, a collection of short stories. The tag line is- GET READY TO BE ASSAULTED.

Hyderabad, The CITY of PEARLS , will mesmerize you with its historic beauty.  Well known for its magnificient ruins and history Hyderabad was established in 1591 by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah,  under the rule of the Qutb Shahi dynasty for nearly a century before the Mughals captured the region. In 1724, Mughal viceroy Asif Jah I declared his sovereignty and created his own dynasty, known as the Nizams of Hyderabad.

Official capital city of Telangana State, Hyderabad has succeeded in retaining its tradition and culture over the years be it in its food zone, traditional markets like the  Laad Bazaar, Begum Bazaar and Sultan Bazaar, that are still very favorite place of the tourists from all the corners of the world.

The ruins here hold a story of the successful bygone era and its is advisable that before you plan your next trip here don’t forget to flip the pages of history. You will have a different view of the city.

Here I am sharing few pictures that speak of the rich culture of the city.

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Laad Bazzar, the traditiona baazar near Charminar known for its bangles
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The magnificient Charminar undergoing a makeover
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Chowmahalla Palace, The Durbur
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The Nizam’s palace, Chowmahalla Palace.

 

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The official residence of the Nizams during their rule in the state, Chowmahalla Palace. This is the Durbar area.
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It reminds me of the time lapsed over the ages yet you can see the perfection intact.
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Young tourists taking a view
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The seat of the Nizam in the Durbar. The magnificient chandeliers are the same during the time of the Nizam.

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The huge varandah leading to the armoury and other rooms in the administartive area of the Nizam’s period.
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The armoury
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This is the exterior view of the Durbar block of the Nizams.
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The backside of the NIzam’s Palace. Don’t forget to read the signboard which mentions way to vintage cars. Ask the guide and they will tell you story behind each car espicially the Rolls Royce
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Golkonda Fort, the capital of the medieval sultanate of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty.
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The evening is reserved for the Light and Sound show that will tell you  the story of the dynasty, its peak and its downfall

Kolkata, One Day

SI have been to Kolkata many times but this time the magic caught me. I had a meeting and my return flight was the next morning. So after my meeting I  had enough time to explore the city as I wanted. Earlier it always used to be a family trip meeting all the folks downtown exchanging news but it was different this time as I was on my own as an outsider. And the city seemed entirely new to me. Of course seven years down the line lots of things have changed but the theme which I always imagined remained the same. I grew up watching bengali black & white movies where the plot mostly was family drama. But then it helped me understand the nature and thought of a common bengali family in its  very native place. Of course being a probashi our family had adopted many cultures to fit in the bill where we resided, a kind of mixture you can say. But what Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen depicted in their films was what the original Bengali family actually is according to me. People of heart. Emotions bonding them together. Mothers have a special position always. Girls brought up like a princess and the boys like prince. I always had this notion that people in Kolkata were always contended with small things. Money, materialistic needs are not counted that much. What counted for them was art, creativity and visualization. Every person here possessed a talent in one form or other. Its a city where both rich and poor have a space to survive. Every corner here has a story to tell and every pavement is a book to read. I visited the famous Victoria Memorial and then retraced my path walking all the way to my hotel in New Market area. Throughout I clicked my camera and when I saw these pictures I could easily relate themwith one or other character of a Satyajit Ray or Mrinal Sen movie.Image 

This magnificent building was dedicated to Queen Victoria after her death as a tribute to British Empire in India. Built in 1921 it is one of the tourist destination in Kolkata.

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Just outside the Victoria memorial is the “Maidan” the stretch of green field which is the favorite spot of all the Kolkatan’s for a sunday picnic, lazing with friends or playing football. I found this guy with his mobile shop of Jhal-muri under the shade of a tree. “Jhal-muri” is  an all time quick and cheap snack of the bengalis. One can enjoy the chatpatta flavor with kurkure muri anytime anywhere. The picture clearly shows the ingredients mixed and aroma to have a mouth watering taste. I remember  having it many times when I went to Maidan with my folks on a winter sunday afternoon.

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The picture here shows the small earthen mugs that are used for drinking tea. The smell of tea in these mugs are somewhat different from what we get in usual cups. The smell of tea blends with the smell of the earthen cup and the taste is awesome. The typical way of drinking tea in such mugs is to hold it with both your hands, feel the warmth in your palm, make a suurrrrr sound while sipping tea that ends in licking out your lips for more taste.

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This is a frequent sight in Kolkata, the street food. They serve everything from dal-bhat, roti-sabji, chinese to south Indian. Fish curry and rice is very common here. You will also come across misti stalls and quick foodie stalls which are always crowded by people. They serve people of all class and position right on the pavement stall. A wooden bench or few stools on the pavement make a good sitting arrangement for these stalls.And as I said if you are least bothered about hygiene then do not miss these stalls as taste wise they are no less than any high class restaurant minus the cost.

Some are random pics that I love to share with you. I love the expression on their face. I caught these children watching another child eating ice cream. They did not tell their parents but kept looking at the other child.

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This picture of “Chowringee Road” has immense story to tell. This was the first road built by The British in Kolkata. The road is witness to over hundred years of history attached to it. Today it plays a prominent role in the everyday life of Kolkata.

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Throughout the length of its history, Chowringhee Road has carried an aura of prestige and heritage. Grandeur, colourfulness and importance have always been its handmaidens. To countless Kolkatans, and for most people all around the globe who are even remotely familiar with the city of joy, the singularly unique name Chowringhee is synonymous with Kolkata.

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While walking down the Chowringee lane I came across people who caught my attention. They are common man yet they somehow filled my canvas with their colors.

The first picture shows two ladies gossiping while waiting for their order in the street food stall. In the second picture you see few men sitting behind the wall busy with their discussion. Being a bengali myself I know the topic would be politics or football as these two are bengali men’s favorite topic. I specially like these two pictures as they depict the favorite pass time of Bengalis – “Adda.”

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This picture of an ice-cream wala and his ice cream trolley, as I would call it, shows two different worlds. The brand name “Kwality ice creams ” we all know since we first tasted anything other then feed milk. It started in 1956 to be precise. People who usually come to purchase it are mostly well dressed or to be short economically sound. But here was this man dressed in lungee and a dirty shirt sitting at ease under the street lamp post waiting for people to buy ice cream. He seems in no hurry. As if all his life he has been selling ice creams no matter what brand. For him it was just a piece of craving which people would love to pay for. He seems much older than Kwality of course. Belonging from the era of  “thela ice-cream or ice candy” in his dress code which people do not prefer anymore. But I like the contrast in the picture.

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Here is another picture which I like very much. The man gets his shoe polished to look smart and presentable. I am not against shoe polishing. I do it myself. But I feel concealing something with the brush. Just like women do the make up with their brush, hiding moles, wrinkles, patches etc. Here too the brush is concealing the miles this shoe must have walked, the tiredness, the agony or the failure. Everything looks new after the polish a new “attitude”. But I like the polisher as he can easily interpret a person with his shoes.

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Rest of the pics are of New Market area of Kolkata. The area has a historic importance from the British Era and today is the most favorite spot for the shoppers. This clock tower is the biggest landmark here. I call it the “Big Ben of Kolkata.”

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The market area and some old building in this area.

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Thats about all I would share with you for Kolkata. It is”City of Joy”. The people very emotional and honest. They think with their heart not brain. Very contended with what they have and always cling on to what had been theirs. The culture still holds the same here as in Satyaji’s era. The same craziness for food and touring the world. Never miss a chance to tour this magnificent heritage city.

Konark Temple Where The Sun Smiles

                               “The Sun is always brighter and amazingly big here!”
ImageKonark Sun Temple is situated in Orissa state of eastern India. It is a living example of Orissan architecture.  This temple is dedicated to the Sun God and is also known as “Black Pagoda”. It is at a distance of 35 kilometers from the holy city of Puri in Orissa.

The entire structure of the temple is that of a celestial chariot with twelve giant wheels (representing months of a year) driven by seven horses (only one remain intact). Konark Sun Templealthough in ruins today speaks gallantly about its once marvelous architecture. 

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The walls adorn with many beautiful carvings of women dancing in various poses, musicians, warriors, men and women socializing, images of animals and non-humans in various form. The Konark Temple is also known for its magnificent erotic carvings.

The best time to visit Konark is during the winters from October to March. Konark Dance Festival is organized in the winter. Catch a glimpse of Indian classical dance forms under one roof. One also gets a peek into Oriya culture and tradition. 

 

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The holy city of Puri , the abode of Lord Jagganath and the venue for Rath Yatra which is held every year in the month of June- July is another attraction here.

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It is difficult to describe the beauty and mystery of Konark Sun Temple in words. One has to visit to unfold the unsaid mystery here.  

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