I left my heart in Andamans. Yes, for this reason, I go back to this emerald isles again and again. And every time I get mesmerised by its enchanting charms. Nature has bestowed this archipelago with bountiful wealth. I want to soak every bit of myself in the humid air, in the moist of the rainforest, in the gushing sweet water springs and in the salty seas.
Boulder boulder everywhere, not an inch to spare – A one liner for Hampi. Though not sufficient enough to describe a land such rich in historic, wildlife and natural wealth. Vast stretches of uneven land with boulders stacked over the other creating heaps and hillock giving a unique identity to the place. Residing among these huge pile of rocks are the temples and ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire. One of these ruins qualified to be the symbol of Karnataka state Tourism – the iconic Stone Chariot of Virupaksha Temple.
Hampi, the UNESCO recognised world heritage site is better known as a land of Boulders and Ruins. But it is much more than just ruins. It is a safe haven for many resident and migratory bird species. An ideal geographical location with a favourable climatic condition for nesting, breeding and raising the chicks. The Tungabhadra Riverside, the Kamalasagar Lake, the Sanapur Lake, the canal sides, the University Lake and the Daroji Bear Sanctuary are some of the favourite spots for bird watching.
“Atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha” (For one’s own salvation and for the welfare of the world). With this motto in mind, Swami Vivekananda, the famous monastic disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa founded the Ramakrishna Mission and Math. Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission and Math. The sprawling campus of Belur Math with beautiful and well-pruned garden is located on the bank of river Ganges. This is a tranquil place close yet but away from the hubbub.
Durga Puja, the five-day long festival is an integral part of Bengali life, culture and tradition. The autumn is the herald of the Durgotsab which is also called Sharodotsab. As per the religious scriptures, the worship of Devi Durga in the form of Basanti Puja is held in the Bengali month of Chaitra. Though less popular but is still celebrated in many Bengali households. The Sharodotsab is associated with or rather initiated by the mythological story of Lord Rama worshipping Goddess Durga in autumn, in quest of victory against Ravana in the war. The untimely worship of the Goddess gave it a name of Akal Bodhan. Gradually this became the much favoured and the primarily celebrated festival for the Bengalis.
The long stretches of undulating meadows, ablaze and dappled in delicate blooms. A dreamland – colourful and astonishing Kaas Plateau. Spread over an area of around 1000 hectare, this highland provides a breathtaking expanse amidst the sprawling lawn, though not green but, mottled. Kaas Pathar, as know locally is a plateau in the Sahyadri range in Satara district of Maharashtra. It gets draped with a variety of wildflowers every year, resembling a canvas with myriad hues.
Ganesh Utsav is the 10-day long Hindu festival starting from Ganesh Chaturthi. It is celebrated with pomp and grandeur throughout the nation. The first place that comes to mind during this festival is Mumbai. But Pune is not far behind, this being the probable birthplace of the festival. The legacy passed on from generations till date. From Kasba Ganapati Mandal to Tambdi Jogeshwari Ganapati to Dagduseth Halwai trust to the Tulsi Baug Ganapati, many such big names are linked to the celebration in Pune.