Mercure Dwarka Review: Serene hub in the land of Lord Krishna

Dwarka is the land of Lord Krishna. He is said to have built this town out of scratch to provide shelter to his followers. He had migrated with them from Mathura, his birth place, to save them from the wrath of his enemy Jarasandha.

Mercure DwarkaToday, around 5000 years after it was built, the pilgrimage continues to attract tourists on a large scale. The place is also known as Krishna Nagari or Devbhoomi. It is one of the chaar dhams (four holy places) of India along with Badrinath, Jagannath Puri and Rameswaram.

Our driver, during our recent trip to Dwarka, informed that the town at any given point has more tourists than locals. Hence, it is imperative to have good hotels in and around the holy place.

Mercure Dwarka is the latest one to be built in the city to facilitate the devotees. It became the first hotel from an international brand to arrive in the holy town of Gujarat when it was inaugurated in August 2017. Mercure Dwarka is a part of Accor Hotels. It mainly suits to people from urban or western areas who prefer a comfortable and luxurious stay during their pilgrimage.

Mercure-Dwarka

Let’s analyze different features of the hotel:

Location: Mercure Dwarka is situated on the Porbandar-Dwarka Highway. It is a lone big structure in the locality. It is one and a half hour’s drive away from Porbandar Airport and little over two hours from Jamnagar Airport. The main Dwarkadhish Temple is at five minutes’ drive away. From here, one can also visit other prominent sites like the Rukmani Temple, Nageshwar Mahadev Temple, Bet Dwarka, Gopi Talao and Sudama Setu (bridge).

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The entrance

Rooms: The most important aspect of any hotel is the room since it is your temporary abode for the next few days. Mercure Dwarka has 99 rooms in total with 20 on each of the first four floors. The fifth floor has 19 rooms as one is a suite. Every floor has four interconnecting rooms.

Mercure-Hotel-Dwarka

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To put it simply, the rooms are exactly what you expect from such hotels. The bed is soft and comfortable. The same can also be said for other furniture like the sofa, chair and table. The interiors and ambience offer a feeling of serenity. The simple and light colours used on the walls have a large role to play in it.

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The icing on the cake is the beautiful painting of Lord Krishna (in each room). This adds to the spiritual as well as artistic value. They also have the same painting of elephant in every room. The staff told us that Mercure adds local flavour to each of their branches. This was clearly on display here.

The suite has a nice extra room that can also be used for office or meeting purposes.

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The bathroom and washroom are posh and luxurious. I personally felt one problem due to the lack of bucket and tumbler while bathing. Everyone might not be used to the shower. Availability of tap would also help in reducing wastage of water.

Lobby: The lobby and reception area goes with the peaceful demeanor of the rooms due to its spaciousness, use of light colours and simple properties. It becomes even better when they play the flute music (which goes with Krishna’s personality).

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Food: The restaurant inside the hotel is called Makhan (as Krishna was called Maakhan Chor), which serves vegetarian food. Its specialty is the Gujarati thali, which is quite a sight as you can see from the picture below. We were served Theplas, Shev Tomato (bhel sev mixed with tomatoes) and Ringna Bateta (brinjal potatoes) sabzis, Dal, Rice, Gulab Jamun, Salad, Kachori and Khakra along with a glass of Chhaas (buttermilk). The taste of the food does go well with the looks.

Gujarati-thali

I was surprised to see Shev being added in the end in the Shev Tameta. We always add it while cooking.

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The restaurant area

Maakhan also serves good Punjabi food on ala carte and buffet basis. The subzis that we had over there on three occasions were quite satisfying and so were the rotis and naans. One can try their Pasta too. The breakfast menu too offers a wide range of options like simple bread butter and toasts to items like Pohe, Medu Vada, Shev Upma, baked beans, etc.

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Other facilities: The conference or meeting room has a capacity of 40 people. There is also a gym with a good range of equipment.

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Conference room
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Gym

Staff: The staff deserves special mention for being extremely humble and friendly.

Overall: Mercure Dwarka is an ideal hotel for Krishna devotees who are looking for a comfortable and luxurious stay during their pilgrimage.

Article and pictures: Keyur Seta

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Navratri special: Ever heard of Garba Visarjan?

Here’s some meaning, importance and relevance of Garba pot or matka.

Like Ganesh Visarjan, there is Navratri Visarjan too. For most of you, this would mean the visarjan or immersion of idols of Goddess Durga. But this is not the only visarjan during Navratri. There is a section of the devotees that also carry out Garba Visarjan.

This might have come as a complete surprise to many. The word ‘Garba’ generally means a dance form carried out during Navratri along with Dandiya. However, that isn’t the only Garba that exists.

Garba pot matka
Picture: Indiamart.com

Garba is actually a pot which is brought home on Navratri and then immersed on Dusshera. Just like the Ganesh idol, it is worshipped daily. But it is not like any other pot. It is a wide pot which is designed and decorated royally in different colours. It has various holes on it. This enables enough air for the lamp (diya), which is ignited inside, to keep its flames alive.

The practice of bringing home the Garba is practiced mostly among Gujaratis. But it is practiced by people from other Indian communities too.

The Garba is also used in another manner. While playing Dandiya and Garba, the Garba is placed at the center and the people dance around it in circles. The Garba symbolizes the universe while the light inside symbolizes God. In other words, it shows that God is at the center of the universe.

That’s not all though. The dancers represent the never-ending nature of life, which indirectly hints at the idea of reincarnation.

Lastly, just like the Ganesh idol, Garba too is immersed in the sea, lakes, river or ponds with much fanfare.

 

Garba-pot
Picture: http://utkarshspeak.blogspot.in

 

Label Beh Gaye (Poem on 2017 Mumbai floods)

Here is my poem on the deadly Mumbai rains and floods that shook the city yesterday (August 29, 2017). The poem speaks about the spirit of Mumbai, like many of us. But there is also something deep hidden inside these scenes of people helping rank strangers.

Mumbai-floods-2007लेबल बह गए

निकले थे घर से सज सवरकर
धरम जात के लेबल लगाकर
साथ आया बारिश का झोंका
न लगा इसमें कुछ अनोखा

पर तूफ़ान थम नहीं पाया
२६/७ की याद ले आया
जल्द ही हुआ घातक नज़ारा
कुदरत का था जवाब करारा

मुंबई पे छाया मुसीबत का साया
निडर दिलों में भी डर ले आया
शहर बना जल समुदाय
जिसमे फसा जन समुदाय

लेकिन साथ आई एक उम्मीद
हमने पकड़ ली फिर एक ज़िद्द
भले ही ठोकर खाते रहेंगे
कश्ती को किनारा देते रहेंगे

सब ने बड़े दिल दिखाए
मानवता के झंडे लहराए
अनजान लोग अपनापन दिखा गए
धरम जात के लेबल मिटा गए

अब ठहरा कुदरत का क़हर
निकले वापस घरों के बाहर
अब भी लेबल अदृश्य रहेंगे
हम यही आशा करेंगे

– केयूर सेता

 

(In English font)

Label Beh Gaye

Nikle the ghar se saj savarkar
Dharam jaat ke label lagakar
Saath aaya baarish ka jhonka
Na laga isme kuchh anokha

Par toofan tham nahin paya
26/7 ki yaad le aaya
Jald hi hua ghatak nazara
Kudrat ka tha jawab karara

Mumbai pe chhaya musibat ka saya
Nidar dilon mein bhi darr le aaya
Shehar bana jal samuday
Jisme phasa jan samuday

Lekin saath aai ek ummeed
Humne pakad lee phir ek zidd
Bhale hi thokar khate rahenge
Kashti ko kinara deke rahenge

Sab ne bade dil dikhaye
Manavta ke jhande lehraye
Anjaan log apnapan dikha gaye
Dharam jaat ke label mita gaye

Ab thehra kudrat ka qahar
Nikle wapas gharon ke baahar
Ab bhi label adrishya rahenge
Hum yehi asha karenge

– Keyur Seta

Ganeshotsav Poem: Dhoond Raha Hoon Khud Ko

Here is a poem on the atmosphere during Ganeshotsav festival.

Ganpati-photoढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

वैसे तो सृष्टि के कण-कण में पाया जाता है मुझ को

पर ऐसे माहौल में मैं खुद ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

आइटम नंबर्स के अश्लील शब्दों में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

हिंसक शोर शराबे में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

उस शोर से बच्चे-बीमार के कराहने में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

पढाई न कर सके छात्रों की मार्कशीट में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

पॉलिटिशंस के फोटोशॉप्प्ड़ चेहरों के बीच ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

हवा में फैले पटाखों के ज़हर में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

नशे में धुत्त मवालियों की गालियों में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

उनसे की गई लड़कियों की छेड़-छाड़ में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

पर गली मोहल्ले घूम-घूम कर भी न महसूस किया खुद को

अंत में, विसर्जन के बाद के दयनीय दृश्य में पा लिया खुद को…

– केयूर सेता

 

(In English font)

Dhoond Raha Hoon Khud Ko

Waise toh srushti ke kann-kann mein paya jata hai mujh ko

Par aise mahaul mein main khud dhoon raha hoon khud ko

Item numbers ke ashleel shabdon mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Hinsak shor sharabe mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Us shor se bachche-bimaar ke karrahne mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Padhai na kar sake chhatron ki marksheet mein dhoon raha hoon khud ko

Politicians ke photoshopped chehron ke beech dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Hawa mein faile patakhon ke zehar mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Nashe mein dhutt mawaliyon ki gaaliyon mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Unse ki gayi ladkiyon ki chhed-chhad mein dhoon raha hoon khud ko

Par gali mohalle ghoom-ghoom kar bhi na pa saka khud ko

Ant mein, visarjan ke baad ke vivash drishya mein paa liya khud ko

– Keyur Seta

Janmashtami special: When the world saw Krishna v/s Krishna battle

We have read and heard a number of stories and incidents from Lord Krishna’s life over the years. But there is one instance that surprisingly hasn’t become well-known like other legends of Krishna. In fact, I too came to know about it just recently.

There once came a moment when the world saw a battle of Krishna v/s Krishna. Let’s know about this story as the festival of Janmashtami (birth of Lord Krishna) is almost here.

Paundraka was the king of Pundra. He was the son of Krishna’s father Vasudev’s sister Shrutadeva. So, he was Krishna’s cousin. Paundraka started thinking very high of himself after continuously receiving humongous praises from his ministers. They even stated that his greatness was comparable to Lord Vishnu.

Shri-Krishna-with-Sudarshan-ChakraHowever, at that time the glory of Lord Krishna was in full flow. Paundraka had heard stories about how beautifully Krishna had built the city of Dwarka and was hailed by his followers as the incarnation or avatar of Lord Vishnu.

This, obviously, made Paundraka jealous. Hence, he declared that he is the actual avatar of Vishnu and has arrived in the world to destroy evil. In other words, he is the real Krishna and the one ruling over Dwarka is fake. Paundraka decided to wage a war against Krishna, finish him and prove to the world as to who is the actual avatar of Vishnu.

Through some powers, he grew two more arms and carried a mace, conch (shankh), sudarshan chakra and flower in them, just like Vishnu. He sent a message to Krishna asking him to either surrender and accept him as the real Krishna or fight a war. Krishna laughed at the message and decided to go on the battlefield against Paundraka.

Krishna entered the battlefield with his brother Balram (one version also says that Krishna went alone). After a fierce battle, Krishna finally defeated Paundraka with his Sudarshan Chakra.

I wonder why a story with components like identity crisis, conflict and action hasn’t acquired fame. The tale, however, was portrayed in Director Chandrakant’s Hindi film Krishna-Krishna, which released in 1986.

Banganga Photos – II

I had done a Banganga tank picture post last year (see it HERE). But the place is such that a single post on it isn’t enough. So here I was again today. Just like last year, I chose monsoons as the time to visit here. The place is super pleasant at this time of the year.

Luckily enough, in my hour long visit, I experienced both extreme sunlight as well as heavy rains. When I landed there, I was a bit disappointed to see the sun out and the atmosphere turning very humid. Nevertheless, the place still provided with peace.

Banganga

Thankfully though, it started raining soon. The falling of heavy drops of rains on the water body appeared like nature’s way of creating special effects.

Banganga is an ancient tank situated in the Walkeshwar locality of Mumbai. History says that the tank was built in 1127 AD by Lakshman Prabhu, who was a minister in the court of the Silhara dynasty in Thane.

But legend has that water sprang up when Lord Rama, who was in search of his kidnapped wife Sita, shot an arrow at a place where the tank stands. Banganga was rebuilt in 1715 AD when Rama Kamath, a renowned businessman and philanthropist, gave a donation.

The only negative point I found here was with regards to cleanliness. The steps used by visitors for sitting need to be clean regularly.

By: Keyur Seta

More pictures from Banganga tank:

Banganga ducks

Banganga Mumbai

Banganga-in-rains

Banganga-Mumbai

Banganga-tank

Banganga-Walkeshwar

Ducks

Ducks-in-Banganga

Old Temple-Munbai

Old-temple Mumbai

Old-temple-Mumbai

 

Krishna personally didn’t kill anyone in Mahabharata war, but is it true?

(This is the 7th episode in my ‘Lessons from Mahabharata’ series. To have a look at previous episodes, click HERE.)

One of the most significant aspects about the Mahabharata war was Lord Krishna’s role in it. He ensured victory for the righteous Pandavas against their evil cousins Kauravas through various tactics. However, he contributed in a mammoth way without taking weapons in hand or killing anyone.

But what if I told you that Krishna did kill in the war?

The Kurukshetra war started off in the most unusual manner. Arjuna developed cold feet and simply refused to fight. He was overwhelmed with the very thought of killing his own cousins, although they had proven to be evil. The opposition also had his highly respected grandfather Bheeshma and teacher, Drona. Hence, Arjun dropped his bow and arrow.

Lord-Krishna-MahabharataThis was when Krishna was compelled to motivate Arjun in fighting the war. The conversation turned out to be the most beautiful enlightenment on duties of a warrior and the real meaning of life, death and journey of soul. The talk turned out to be the sacred Bhagavad Gita. It continues to be the driving force for human beings (not just Hindus) till today and shall continue to do so.

This was enough to open Arjun’s eyes towards his real duty. He went onto valiantly fight the war and the rest, as we all know, is history. The war goes down in history as the victory of good over evil.

But the biggest evil was inside Arjun. It was his weakness and faintheartedness that stopped him from taking part in the war.

This evil force within Arjun was defeated by Krishna. Man can be his biggest enemy if he is filled with weakness. Krishna killed this weakness and with it, the biggest enemy on the battlefield. If he hadn’t done that, Pandavas’ greatest warrior wouldn’t have taken part in the war. The result of this would have been disastrous.

By doing this, Krishna also indirectly gave a message that fighting the outside enemy is futile without destroying the evil within.

By: Keyur Seta