BALLS OF SUGAR

A few kilometeres from the Enchanting Riverine Sanctuary of the Cursed River Chambal flows the River Yamuna. In sharp contrast this River is revered and thus the temple village of over 108 temples, Bateshwar ( 60 kms from the city of the Taj , Agra) ,Uttar Pradesh  lies on the banks of the Yamuna.

Mountains of White Sugar Balls can be seen decorating all the shops that lead to the Temples which dot the region in large numbers.

These act as Magnets for many a Winged Species, have a look .

three-kinds
The White Sugar Mountain attracts all

The Indian Honey Bee ( English), MadhuMakhi ( Hindi), Apis cerana indica  (Scientific name) finds nectar in these White Sugar Balls or Ram Ladoos which double up as  offerings in Hindu temples.

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All in Brown

Another species with a striped Abdomen but as engrossed as it’s cousin above donned in Brown.Both belong to the Genus Apis.

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Yellow Stripes is fully Immersed in Sugar balls

The Wasp ( English), Tattaya ( Hindi)Ropalidia marginata (Scientific name) is no close cousin to the Indian Honey Bee but finds common cause in these Balls of Sugar.

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Yellow Jacket

We were are all engrossed, Winged Insects, Bees & Wasps in the Balls of Sugar and the cameraman with them.

Enchanting I would say, do you agree ?

SUPPRESSED IN KASHI

The Ancient city of Kashi, the oldest living city of the World has a dark underbelly as well. ( trust you have read and seen the previous posts BLISS IN KASHI etc to know where this city is located etc.)

Kashi is the Holy city of Lord Shiva who is depicted with the King of the King Cobras wrapped around his neck.

I believe is from this depiction that Snakes and in particular the King Cobra ( do read a blog from the past titled THE KING & I) is revered as they are believed to possess many magical properties.

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The King in a Spot

Snakes are captured, kept in terracotta pots and displayed on beds of Uncooked Rice so that the faithful who throng this Holy City shower money on them in the belief the Ruling deity of Kashi Lord Shiva will be pleased.

While the Kings is cuddled up in the pot another species is displayed in the picture below . Some money can be seen in the photograph as well, along with the toes of the cross-legged trapper.

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Captured in a Pot

Am no expert on Reptiles and Snakes in particular but I think this is a juvenile Python.

It is Illegal in India to capture and rear any animal from the Wild under the Wild Life Act of 1972, yet I have seen this unethical and cruel practice go unchecked across the country.

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Potato and Python served on a Bed of Rice

The pictures were taken near the most prominent location in Varanasi, THE DASHWAMEDH GHAT where millions throng daily to witness the Ganga Aarti.

I hope that someone who can end this malpractice, reads this post on Enchanted Forests and takes appropriate action.

Alas, till then the KING and his people will continue to be oppressed by the likes of Mr. BLUE NAILS ( do see the featured image) and be their bread winners.

INVOLUNTARY DIP AT KASHI

BLISS IN KASHI & DAYBREAK IN KASHI ( two previous blogs you need to check out to get a sense of continuity)  gave you a peep into the fascinating city of Varanasi,Uttar Pradesh,India.

As can be expected Sunrise follows Daybreak at Kashi, however these pictures were taken at another location ,the Assi Ghat or the northern extremity of numerous ghats that mark Varanasi.

Sunrise is considered extremely auspicious and many  line up the banks of the revered river The Ganges and offer salutations to the Ganges and the Rising Sun.

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Boat, Bird & Sunrise

It is only at the Assi Ghats that The ” Ganga Aarti”  ( morning prayers to the ganges) is held  daily in the morning following by a live music performance.

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early birds

It was really early at 0430 hours on this winter morning  when I forced myself out of bed to take a boat ride so as to reach the venue by 0530 when the Ganga Aarti  at Assi Ghat commences.

In the process of attempting to reach in time  I had to change boats in the midst of the river.

Well it was my undoing or my blessing ( depends on how you see it) that I landed between the boats into the River along with my camera, which was strung on my shoulder, while I was attempting to switch boats mid river .( remember the proverb?)

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The Midas Touch

A dip into the Ganges is considered Holy and supposed to wipe out all the Sins of the Past. The morning hours are considered especially auspicious  and are thus called ” Brahma Mahurat” ( the time of the Supreme Creator) .

Must have been the result of  good  “Karma”as you see these Enchanting Pictures of the Sunrise taken after my involuntary dip ( or plunge) , verifying that both the camera and cameraman are intact.

TEMPLE “TWEETS”

The Bhuleshwar Temple near Pune,Maharashtra, India  is Embalmed by the Magic of Nature besides being a visual delight and an Architectural Marvel.

Nature and Mythology go hand in hand and this Wonderful Temple covered in various previous posts ATOP A HILL, DIVINE SHADOWS, FRAGRANT FIELDS,MAGICAL & MYSTERIOUS and PROOF in BLACK stands testimony to underline this aspect which I have attempted to Highlight repeatedly.

The Splendorous Floral  Dome of the Bhuleshwar Temple which stands ATOP a HILL.

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The Elaborate Central Dome

Sparrows  and Parakeets flitted in and out of the this temple which Opens into a courtyard after engaging a serious of Pitch Dark Alleys and discrete doorways.

The following picture was taken from this courtyard within the temple  as I doubled backwards during which my lens captured a Pair of Sparrows ( Scientific name :Passer domesticus ) perched on the Head of the Vehicle of the Goddess.

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Looking UP

Here is a better look at the Romantic Couple under the gaze of the Goddess on her vehicle , A Swan.

You can see the elaborate Floral details on every inch of this beautiful temple.

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Perched on A Bird Head

Mrs Sparrow decided to give me and the lens a look and perched herself directly above my head and this picture is shared in the featured image on Top.

I was delighted and Enchanted of course by the details I saw courtesy the Sparrows which I may have missed without their guidance.

DIVINE SHADOWS

The last blog “Atop a Hill” was an illumination of the path to an Unusual and Ancient Temple located less than an hour away from Pune , Maharasthra, India. Am sure many residents of this charming City have not seen this Marvel which lies at their doorstep wrapped in multiple Gifts from Nature.

The First Glimpse of the ramparts as one approaches the Bhuleshwar Temple ( built in I am told in 1200 AD.)

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Ramparts of an Ancient Temple

The Trident ( the Trishul) and the Auspicious “Damroo” ( a hand held drum)  indicates the ruling deity of the temple is  Lord Shiva.

The  Ramparts are of an  Ancient Fort which once protected the Temple in it’s Midst.

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The Trishul and the Damroo

The Unusual and marvelous architecture of the temple is breathtaking.

I have never seen the likes of a temple even similar to the Bhuleshwar Temple in over 50 years of my existence on this Planet.

I will follow up with more pictures, in subsequent blogs. of my tryst with Nature in the precincts of this masterpiece.

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The Bhuleshwar Temple, “Atop a Hill”

When I entered the temple at 1000 hours it was pitch dark inside and I could not even see my nose, let alone my toes.

Divine Shadows were magically  created from the light of the Camera.

The Trishul, the Holy symbol “Om” and the Auspicious Drum show up when all else was Invisible to the Human Eye.

trishul-and-shadows
Divine Symbols of Lord Shiva

I was Blessed indeed and a quiver ran down my spine in the Enchanting Bhuleshwar Temple.

All I could mutter was “Om Namah Shivaya”.

ATOP A HILL

It was a Journey , a short one I admit, I undertook on my own . The experiences  to my Final destination were captured  by my soul  and in part by my Camera.

Usually a spiritual awakening or a desire to overcome some troubles in our daily lives take us to places of Worship.

My trip to the 1200 year old Bhuleshwar Temple, 50 odd kilometers from Pune, was motivated by  a mix of faith and a desire to explore.

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The Floral Fields and Hills of Bhuleshwar Village

I let the cool Monsoons Winds caress me while  I gazed at the awesome Beauty of Nature that spread out till the Horizons far and beyond.

I was experiencing a touch of the divine even though I had not even  seen a glimpse of the  Ancient Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that I was heading to.

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The Path to Bhuleshwar Temple

I would strongly recommend this trip even to the staunchest atheists ,do undertake the short Journey to the Bhuleshwar Temple near Pune, Maharashtra, India.

A glorious drive through Floral farms and Nurseries , gentle rolling Hills , Monsoon clouds and a glimpse of the countryside make it a fascinating region to head out for a day trip. ( do look up an earlier post titled DEVIL’S TRUMPET )

The First Glimpse of the Ancient temple which sits atop a Rocky Hill surrounded by Spectacular views.

The Temple is dwarfed by the Enchantments of Nature, or is it a Mirage and my Imagination?

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The  Bhuleshwar Temple Atop the Hill

The photograph posted as the Featured Image was  taken through a window inside the  gorgeous Bhuleshwar Temple.

Keep a watch out as we continue our Journey into the Temple that sits Atop a Hill.

DIVINE FLOWERS

The previous post titled ” Colour me Saffron” was an introduction to the ancient town of Ujjain located in Central India.

Mythology, Faith  and Nature are magically interwoven in India and it is hard to separate them.

I was in Ujjain for the “Simhastha  Mahakumbh” ( a  bathing festival held once in 12 years)  and was lucky to spot the “Kadam” Tree steeped in Folklore and Mythology going back to over 3500 years.

The Kadam ( Hindi), Kadamb ( Sanskrit), Neolamarckia cadamba ( Scientific Name) is an Evergreen Tree native to the Indian Subcontinent.

The picture below is of a gorgeous specimen located within the Harsiddhi Temple, Ujjain.

The Harsiddhi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva.

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KARKOTESHWAR TEMPLE WITH THE KADAMB TREE

I was happy to learn the Kadam Tree is said to be a Divine  Tree that is the abode of the Goddess Parvati. Thus it is no surprise a Majestic Tree towering to over 45 feet ( 13.7 metres) is located within the temple complex dedicated to the Goddess.

Folklore also links the Tree to Lord Krishna and numerous miniature paintings can be seen depicting the Lord with his Gopis under the Kadamb Tree.

A zoom in reveals numerous  Saffron coloured fragrant Orbs of Flowers.

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Gorgeous and Fragrant Floral Clusters

The Kadamb Tree ( marked in Hindi on a board on the top)  is worshiped by devotees who throng the city of Ujjain in millions during the “Mahakumbh”.

The Base of the Tree Trunk also has two Shivlings , symbols of Lord Shiva.

Faith ensures Nature is protected over thousands of years.

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PRAYERS OFFERED TO THE GODDESS

The Yellow-Saffron Orbs are a cluster of flowers which have also been a source of Perfumes in former times.

Divine Tree associated with  a Goddess is also a Living Pharmacy as each part of the tree is used to heal in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian School of Medicine .

kadam flowers
EVERGREEN KADAMB

I feel Blessed to have observed this Wonderful and Divine Tree in bloom as I exited the Shaktipeeth in Ujjain.

COLOUR ME “SAFFRON”

Once in 12 years, Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh , India explodes in the colour SAFFRON as it is home to the “SIMHASTHA KUMBH”.

The Gulmohar Trees ( Hindi), Flamboyant ( English) , Delonix regia ( Scientific name) join the celebration of Faith in the Month of May and explode in the colour of the season, Saffron.

The Kshipra River In Ujjain seen through the Flamboyant Saffron flowers of the Gulmohar Tree.

 

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SEEN THROUGH SAFFRON FLOWERS

The Trident or “Trishul” is the Symbol of the Ruling Diety of Ujjain , “Mahakaal” or Lord Shiva .

The Trishul rises over the flamboyantly flowering Gulmohar Trees and the Saffron Bridge across the Kshipra River  during the Mahakumbh Festival.

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SAFFRON BRIDGE ACROSS THE KSIPHRA RIVER

The Ghats of the River Kshipra turn Saffron too as the River is worshiped in celebration of the Life giving Powers of Water.

Millions will bathe in the River during the Month long festival ” Simhastha Mahakumbh” held once in 12 years during a time determined by the Planets and Stars. The Sun enters Aries and Jupiter the constellation of Leo symbolizing the timing of this explosion of Faith and the colour saffron.

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Saffron along the Ghats

The “Dumroo” or Drum , held by the Saffron Sadhu ,is another symbol of Lord Shiva.

The reverberating and enchanting sound of the “Dumroo” symbolizes the healing Power of Sound.

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Sadhus in their Own World

Be Enchanted by the saffron colours in Ujjain as I take you through the Heart of India during a Festival of Faith.

 

HIMALAYAN WONDER

All the pictures of this Mystical  Monastery were taken from a Car near Leh in Ladakh in February during the Hemis Winter Festival.

The Foreground is of Leafless Willows.

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Glimpsed through Willows

Nestled between the Towering Himalayas and Rising in the midst of a Forest of Willows.

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The Monastery on the Hillock

A Closer Look reveals the Enchanting Monastery and Stupas  as well. ( observe the Cars on the Bottom Left in the picture below) .

Faith and Belief can lead Humanity to Create Magical Wonders even in extreme circumstances.

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The Monastery Complex Close Up

Ladakh located in the State of Jammu & Kashmir , India is a treasure of Enchanting Beauty.

LOTUS LAKE

Water is Life and in the Desert State of Rajasthan the Value of Water is enhanced by the Power of Infinity.

Thus the Beauty and Importance of a Lotus Lake in the midst of the Parched Brown Aravalli Mountain Range in Bundi, Rajasthan is a Sight to behold.

If you look hard you will see Spots of Orange at the base of the Brown Hills on the far Right of the picture below.

These are the Flame of the Forest Trees in bloom ( do check out a previous blog by the same title) . Palash ( Hindi) or Butea monosperma ( Scientific Name) .

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The Magnificent Lotus Lake

The Sukh Sagar Lake or literally translated The Lake of Happiness is surrounded by Palaces and Temples along its banks . The Royal and The Divine.

Keep a sharp eye for the clump of Green in the midst of the Brown Mountains.

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Royalty and Divinity Surround the Lake

The Sukh Mahal or the Palace of Happiness is stated to be the residence for a short time  of none other than Rudyarg Kipling,the author of Jungle Book.( the movie has recently been released as well ).

It is fabled however the same was made for Royalty to indulge in the Happiness ( Sukh)  of Worldly Pleasures away from the prying eyes of courtiers in the Main Palace.

The Lush Green Trees contrast sharply with the Rocky and Brown Mountains. Symbolic? A message from Nature, maybe ?

the palace
The Palace made for a Emperor

The Lotus lake is dotted with Hindu Temples preserved by their Rulers for Centuries who followed the  same faith.

The Temple below is submerged in the waters of The Lotus Lake and the Picture was taken from the Roof Top of the Temple.

My first exclamation as I gazed at the Lotus Lake for the first time was a loud “WOW”

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The Roof Top of a Submerged Temple

The featured image is of a Shivling covered by a typical Rajasthani Canopy , which in turn is sheltered  by  Lofty Date Palm trees, on the Banks of the amazing Sukh Sagar in the midst of the Parched Lands of Rajasthan.