Nadgaon: Unexplored nature’s abode near Mumbai

Our visit to a little place called Nadgaon last month was quite enlightening. Whenever someone asks me as to when will I make my first foreign trip, I feel there is so much left to be seen in various parts of India. Well, this trip made me realize that there is a lot to see even around 100 kilometres away from our home in Mumbai.

When I decided to go for a day long trip to Nadgaon, which is near Karjat, I was looking forward to a well-deserved break. However, I certainly didn’t expect to be so intimately close to nature.

Mountains-greenery

The place where he stayed is a farmhouse run by a friendly family. You can book it for a day and do whatever you wish to. I have seen houses surrounded by nature in various parts of India. But this was a rare place which has long stretches of greenery without a trace of any house, building or shop. Such vast untouched areas of nature.

Through the backside of the house one can go down the steps to a pretty waterfall. The path and the following steps are difficult but the risk is worth taking.

If you have the energy for a long walk, you can go to a nearby river which is around 45 minutes walking. Again, this is worth the effort as the river is too soothing and, like the rest of the village, without civilization.

Back at the house, apart from breakfast, lunch and tea, the owners provide with corn (bhutta) and groundnuts cooked naturally on a chulha.

All in all, even if you visit it just for a day, like we did, it is still enough to take back some calmness. If you feel nature of God, you are in for some spiritual experience. The ideal time to go is monsoons.

By: Keyur Seta

Note: Do drop a comment if you wish to know the details about staying at this farmhouse.

37794245_1697060127009540_638719928211341312_n
The caravan of our Karwaan

37948091_1697059360342950_451005436192096256_n

IMG_20180726_120901
Way to the river
IMG_20180726_125652
The super peaceful river
P_20180726_112519
The owners also rare animals like cows, horses and lambs.

P_20180726_112639

P_20180726_112727
Way to the waterfall
P_20180726_113211
Waterfall from above

Waterfall

 

Advertisements

Live: Jagannath Rath Yatra, Puri

The Jagannath Rath Yatra is observed every year as a symbol of devotion to Lord Jagannath. It is held in India majorly in the cities Puri and Ahemadabad along with few others. Lord Jagannath is considered as one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu.

This year in 2018 it is celebrated on 14 July, which is today.

Jagannath-Yatra-2018
Screenshot fromt he live stream of the rath yatra by OdishaLIVE channel on YouTube

There are various stories associated with the history and significance of the Jagannath Rath Yatra. One such story is about King Subal, a profound devotee of Jagannath. He once requested a sculptor to create idols of Krishna, his brother Balarama and sister Subhadra.

The scupltor agreed but on the condition that he should be allowed to work in secrecy to which the king agreed. However, after a lot of days passed, the king lost his patience and barged into the room where the sculptor was working. As he broke the clause, the sculptor vanished but the three idols were there.

WATCH: The LIVE Jagannath Rath Yatra from Puri

There is another story related to the Rath Yatra which revolves around Lord Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra. One day, Krishna’s eight wives were eager to hear about His divine tales with Gopi from His mother Rohini when He and Balarama were out. After hesitating, she agreed but urged Subhadra to  keep the door guard so that no one listens.

Subhadra got so involved in listening to the tales that she forgot her task. Just then Krishna and Balaram arrived. Knowing the urgency of the situation, she stopped them with her hands held wide. Sage Narada saw them and asked the three siblibgs to give their blessings this way always. Narada’s wish was granted by the God and the idols of the three of them got installed in the Jagannath temple in Puri.

Krishna & Jesus: Striking similarities in the life of both God incarnations

Lord Krishna and Jesus Christ are two of the most worshipped Gods world over by Hindus and Christians respectively. Both are believed to have fascinating life stories. However, there are huge similarities in the life stories of both.

Although the similarities appear only during the events surrounding their respective births, they are too striking to ignore.

The events before and after the birth of Krishna:

As per legends, Krishna was born to Devki and Vasudev in Mathura. He had taken birth to wipe out evil, which includes his own uncle Kansa. Kansa gets to know about this and feels threatened. Devki had given birth to six other children along with Krishna.

Kansa orders to kill all children born to Devki in order to save himself from getting killed.

However, Vasudev gets to know this and secretly leads Krishna to Gokul on a rainy night.

Krishna-Jesus

The events before and after the birth of Jesus:

According to the Gospel of Mathew, Herod, the king of Judea, felt threatened with the birth of Jesus.

He orders to kill all the male children of Bethlehem under the age of two, hoping that this would kill Jesus as well.

However, Jesus is saved after his father Joseph escapes with Him and mother Mary to Egypt. It is said that Joseph was warned by an angel.

There is no need to state how startlingly similar both the events are since they are self-explanatory.

The aim of this article is not to hold one superior to another or to accuse the followers of one God of copying the life story of another. It’s just that the similarities are so striking that they deserve a mention.

P.S: I am also just reminded of a book I saw in Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai. It said that worshipping Krishna alone without worshipping Jesus doesn’t make sense.

By: Keyur Seta

5 Eid songs to add more light to the festival

The festival of Eid is just around the corner as the holy month of Ramzan is about to end. It’s a Muslim festival but is also celebrated by people of all faiths around the world. It makes the end of a month long fasting period from dawn-to-sunset. For more information on the festival click HERE.

Dekho-Chaand-Aaya

Like any other major festival, Eid, which is known more as Eid-al-fitr, is also celebrated with rejoice. So, naturally, music plays a major role in any celebration. In India, songs from Hindi or Bollywood films are a rage during every festival and the same is with Eid.

Surprisingly, although Bollywood has a number of Islamic songs, there are very few that are actually based on Eid specifically.

Let’s have a look at the Bollywood Eid songs:

Eid Mubarak from Tumko Na Bhool Payenge (2002)

This one is the most loved Eid song from Bollywood. This is not just because it’s a fast paced dance number but also because it highlights that the festival is for all those who believe in the message of love and is not limited to Muslims. Sonu Nigam, as always, is in top form.

Wallah Re Wallah Wallah from Tees Maar Khan (2010)

This is another enjoyable dance number on Eid. Along with some energetic vocals and foot-tapping music, it also deserves to be noticed for the vibrant use of colours. The track is a smart fusion between Qawwali and typical massy Hindi film genre. The chorus singers also have a high amount of contribution here.

Chaand Nazar Aa Gaya from Hero Hindustani (1998)

This is yet another fast paced Sonu Nigam number on Eid. It speaks about the practice of fasting during Ramzan and how the aim of the festival is to spread peace and harmony. It might be an Eid song with the most energetic dance moves by Arshad Warsi.

Yoon Shabnami from Saawariya (2007)

This is a magical Eid song with some top-notch work from all departments like lyrics, music, singing, choreography. The typical visual magic born out of the production design by someone like Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes it even special. The song actually has two parts which are merged naturally.

Eid Ke Din Gale Mil Le Raja from Teesri Aankh (1982)

This old song on Eid is forgotten. In fact, it hasn’t received it due. It’s a dance number but not an energetic ones like before in the list. The song features the Qawwali genre which is also seen in the lyrics. It’s also a rare number where Mohammad Rafi, Manna Dey, Anuradha Paudwal and Krishna Mukherjee have given voice together.

What is the meaning of Vande Mataram and why it is controversial?

The phrase ‘Vande Mataram’ was widely used during India’s freedom struggle against the British. It is believed to be an expression of a person’s love for India or Mother India. But the phrase has been used in a controversial context since last couple of years after few Muslim religious ‘leaders’ claimed that it is un-Islamic to utter the phrase.

Firstly, let us find out the exact meaning of the phrase ‘Vande Mataram.’ The word ‘Vande’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Vandan,’ which means ‘salutation.’ ‘Mataram,’ in Sanskrit, means ‘to the mother.’ So, ‘Vande Mataram’ actually means ‘salutations to the mother.’

Vande-Mataram.jpeg
Pictures: Juststickers.in

Interestingly, it doesn’t specify which mother in particular. Hence, it can be used for your own mother or any female Goddess. Similarly, it is used to offer salutations to India by those who consider it as ‘Bharat Mata’ or mother India. But its actual meaning remains as ‘salutations to the mother.’

Now, coming to the controversy surrounding ‘Vande Matara,’ it seems to me that there shouldn’t be a controversy in the first place. ‘Salutation’ refers to as ‘Salaam’ in Arabic. Muslims use the word ‘Salaam’ to greet anyone. It simply means giving respect to someone.

Similarly, ‘Vandan’ also means giving respect to someone. So, if you can offer respect to your family and friends, why not the country?

At the same time, I personally feel it is wrong and insulting to force someone to utter ‘Vande Mataram’ just to prove his or her nationalism or love for the country.

By: Keyur Seta

Pictures: River Godavari, adjoining temples and Sita Gumfa

The last time I had visited the banks of River Godavari in Nashik was more than 20 years ago. It was probably the first time I had spent so much time at a river bank then. Needless to say, I had fond memories of that place.

My next visit to Godavari was last month. I had expected massive changes in and around Godavari. However, much to my pleasant surprise, I realized that the river bank and the adjoining area had hardly changed.

Godavari

 

At a time when rapid change and urbanization is the norm of the day, this sight gave me the same kind of joy it had given me more than two decades ago.

Thankfully, the Govdavari, which is based in the Panchvati area of Nashik, was full of water the day we visited. To see people happily taking a dip in it was a happy sight. Surprisingly, it wasn’t so polluted, as is the case with other rivers.

There are a number of small but pretty temples ound the river. A big sthamba and a beautiful statue of Lord Hanuman also adorn the place.

The Shree Kapaleshwar Mahadev Mandir is one of the prominent temples here. It is a Shiva temple. Just ahead lies Shri Goreram Temple, in which the idol of Lord Ram is made from white marble. Similarly, in Shri Kalaram Temple, which is also nearby, the idol is made of black marble.

Once you keep walking ahead for some time, you will find the historic Sita Gumfa aka Sita Cave. It is believed that Sita, Ram and Laxmana prayed here during their exile period. The passage to the gumpha is extremely narrow and everyone is not advised to go through it.

By: Keyur Seta

River-Godavari.jpg

Godavari-Nashik

Hanuman

Shree-Kapaleshwar-Temple-Nashik

P_20180302_134317
History of Shree Goreram Temple
Sita-Gumfa
Entrance to Sita Gumfa

Photos: Godavari-Kapila Sangam and Laxmana Temple at Tapovan, Nashik

The most important twist in the Indian epic Ramayana is when Laxmana cuts the nose of the evil Supranakha, the sister of Ravana. It was this act that played a role in Ravana kidnapping Sita, wife of Lord Rama.

It is believed that the incident took place near a place where lays the city of Nashik currently. The area where the encounter happened is called Tapovan, which was a part of the ancient Dandakaranya forest.

Tapovan-Nashik
On the banks of Godavari-Kapila Sangam

The name Tapovan is derived from Sanskrit words Tap, which means meditation and van, which means forest. Hence, the place was used by many sages for meditation.

 

Because of Laxmana’s act, a temple in his name is formed at this place, which is just a stone throw away from the place where rivers Godavari and Kapila meet (known as Godavari-Kapila sangam). At the same place, lie few holy water kunds (holy reservoirs).

Despite the heat, the place appeared pleasant and calm when we had visited it recently. We were told that this is the only Laxmana temple in the world. However, after doing a simple Google search just now, I realized that this is not true. There are Laxmana temples in Chhattisgarh and Khajuraho.

Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience being at this place. More than the temple, the Godavari-Kapila Sangam was more remarkable. The area where two rivers flowing and the various kunds (Mukti, Agni and Sita Kund) reside was quite adventurous. There are also three kunds signifying Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.

On the far end one can see huge idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Laxmana.

By: Keyur Seta

More pictures:

Tapovan

Ganesh-temple-Maharashtra
Outside the Laxman  Temple

P_20180302_121009

Laxman-temple-Nashik
Entrace of Laxman Temple. Pictures aren’t allowed inside

P_20180302_115809

Agni-kund

Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh-kund

Godavari-Kapila-Sangam

Godavari-river

Sita-kund

Ram-Sita-Nashik
Idols of Ram, Sita and Laxmana