Land of Monasteries, Leh, Ladakh!

My brother-in-law Atul, his wife Jayshri their kids are on a brief trip from California, USA via Dubai. They had a brief stay of three days in Dubai which they enjoyed very much though it was quite hot there. They particularly enjoyed trip to Dessert Safari and Al-Jumereih, Gold Souk and Malls. They landed in Mumbai on the night of June 22 and are leaving for a trip to Leh Ladakh on June 29. Their kids are super excited about their trip to Ladakh whereas my daughter Tanya is super disappointed as she is not able to accompany them.

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My curiosity grew in the place and I noted that Leh – Ladakh is not only famous for splendid Himalayas, Lakes, Treks, Palaces and breathtakingly beautiful and bountiful nature but also for monasteries, quite a few of them being there. In fact, Leh Ladakh is the land of monasteries, gompas and stupas. No matter where you go in Leh Ladakh there would be at least one monastery worth a visit. Some well-known monasteries in Leh town include a trip to Shey Palace, Thiksey monastery, Hemis monastery and Stakna Monastery. Whereas Shanti Stupa built by ‘The Japanese for World Peace’, within the Leh town is probably one of the most visited spots in Leh city.

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The entire valley of Leh is dotted with monasteries and is amongst the prime attractions of Leh. The monasteries in Leh houses rich collections of Buddhist relics like thankas, murals, sculptures and scriptures. Generally located in isolated locations atop hills overlooking the settlements, monasteries of Leh lend an air of tranquility and calm to the beautiful valleys of Leh. Most of the monasteries in Leh are also located in the most beautiful locations making a visit to the monastery even more attractive to travelers.

Shey monastery and palace is located 15 kilometers from Leh town on the Leh – Manali road. Shey palace and the monastery were built in the sixteenth century AD. The monastery enshrines the Du Khang with an almost 10 meter high gilder copper statue of Lord Buddha. Two festivals are celebrated in Shey monastery and palace – Metuka festival in July and Shey Shublas festival in August.

Located just above the flood plains of the Shyok River in Diskit village Diskit Gompa was founded by Changzem Tserab Zangpo, a disciple of Tsong Khapa, founder of Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Located on the main Kargil Leh highway between Bodhkharbu and Kha-la-che on a steep rock mountain, Lamayuru of Red-Hat sect of Buddhism is amongst the oldest monasteries in Leh Ladakh. Lamayuru is about 125 kms from Leh town and can be visited on the way to Leh from Srinagar.

Tiksey Monastery about 20 kms from Leh is an imposing monastery and one of the finest examples of Ladakhi architecture. This Gompa is situated on the top of the hill and forms part of Gelukpa order. The 12 – storey monastery complex contains numerous stupas, statues, thankas, wall paintings, swords and a large pillar engraved with the Buddha’s teachings. The main prayer hall has a 15 mt high seated Buddha figure. The successive reincarnation of the Skyabje Khampo Ringpoche act as incharge of the monastery. Thiksey festival is held from 17th to 19th day of the 12th month.

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Of the Drukpa Lineage Korzok monastery is located on the western banks of Tso Moriri atop a hill. Korzok monastery at an altitude of 4,595 metres houses a Shakyamuni Buddha statue. Gu-stor festival is held at the monastery and attracts many visitors.

The best place for shopping is Leh main baazar where you can have finest of cuisines and shop for variety of accessories, woollens and other memorabilia. Leh main bazaar is the busiest place in Leh Ladakh.

Worth a trip…in a way I too look forward to their trip…obviously for real life pictures for my blog for my readers!







Temple of Tooth, Kandy, Sri Lanka on my wish list!!!

Now that we are through half of 2015, it is time to plan for winter holidays i.e. Christmas, particularly when it is coming on a Friday. After lot of deliberations for places like Maldives, Darjeeling, Bangkok, Kerala…even Uttarakhand, I finally decided in favour of Sri Lanka and you want to know why? My preference for the place depended on two factors – Beaches and Currency exchange, which is value for money and place has lots to offer preferably Buddhist Monasteries. Hence, no other place would have been better than Colombo for our annual holiday this winter vacation. While researching for Sri Lanka, I came to know of a place called Kandy, which took me to famous Buddha Temple called Relic of Tooth. This firmed my plans of visiting Sri Lanka! Kandy is nearly 115 Kms from Colombo where we plan to stay. The beach resort which I have chosen for our stay is on most natural Mount Lavinia Beach. This way my both wishes are fulfilled and as far as currency exchange go, that I will know only after reaching there.

Now more updates on Kandy which is very much on itinery as visit to Sri Lanka is not complete without going to Kandy particularly the Tooth Relic Temple.

Located in Kandy, long a centre of the Buddhist faith, the stunning 17th-century Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) is believed to house the left upper canine tooth of the Lord Buddha himself. This precious relic attracts white-clad pilgrims, bearing lotus blossoms and frangipani, every day.

According to legend, the tooth was taken from the Buddha as he lay on his funeral pyre. It was smuggled to Sri Lanka in 313 AD, hidden in the hair of Princess Hemamali who fled the Hindu armies besieging her father’s kingdom in India.

It immediately became an object of great reverence and was enshrined in a series of nested jewelled reliquaries. The tooth was brought out for special occasions and paraded on the backs of elephants, which are sacred to the Buddha. where it survived numerous attempts to capture and destroy it.

When the capital was moved to Kandy, the tooth was taken to the new city and placed in temples built to honour it. The temple was originally built under Kandyan kings between 1687 and 1707, but later severely damaged during the 18th-century colonial wars against the Portugese and Dutch. After the wars, the original wooden structures were restored in stone.

On the outside, the temple buildings are not magnificent or elaborately decorated. White with red roofs, they cluster around Kandy Lake (the island in the middle once housed the king’s harem).
In striking contrast to the plain exterior, the interiors of the temple buildings are richly carved and decorated with inlaid woods, ivory, and lacquer.

Around the entire complex is a low white stone wall, delicately and simply carved with openings that give a filigree effect. During celebrations, candles are placed in the openings, lighting up the entire front.

The relic of the tooth is kept in a two-story inner shrine fronted by two large elephant tusks. The relic rests on a solid gold lotus flower, encased in jewelled caskets that sit on a throne. The temple is joined to the Pattiripuwa (Octagon) tower, built in 1803, that was originally a prison but now houses a collection of palm-leaf manuscripts. The king’s palace is also in the temple compound.

The tooth relic is removed from its shrine only once a year, during the Esala Perahera, a 10-day torchlight parade of dancers and drummers, dignitaries, and ornately decorated elephants. It is now one of the better-known festivals in Asia, and it may be the largest Buddhist celebration in the world.

This ritual procession and festival began in the 18th century. During the full moon in late July or early August, a royal male elephant carries the reliquary of the sacred tooth and leads the procession, flanked by two perfectly matched, smaller elephants.
Unfortunately, due to tensions with the insurgent Tamil Tigers and corresponding worries about it being damaged or stolen, the relic itself has not been brought out during the festival since 1990. In the meantime, the casket is honoured as its representative.

As many as 100 elephants, dressed in elaborate finery, make their way into town while torches and fire dancers fend off curses. Whip-cracking porters clear the way through the throngs of pilgrims, followed by musicians, jugglers, torch bearers, boy dancers and acrobats, and members of noble families in Ceylonese garb.
On the last night, the procession moves from the city to the temple, led by elders in the costumes of the ancient kings of Kandy and lit by handheld candles. The procession flows into the temple compound to encircle the shrine, following the route of the sun in its course across the skies.

Attendance at the Esala Perahera numbers at about a million people. The festival brings today all ranks of Sri Lankan society in a vast throng of devotees and interested onlookers. Because of the national character of the shrine, many Tamil Hindus and mixed-blood Christians take part as an expression of their common cultural heritage.

At the festival, the president and leaders of Sri Lanka continue the nationalist Buddhist tradition by taking part in a ceremony in which they dedicate their service to the people in the presence of the sacred relic.

Quick Facts on the Temple of the Tooth
Site Information
Names: Sri Dalada Maligawa • Temple of the Tooth
Country: Sri Lanka, Categories: shrines; temples

Dates: 1687-1707, later rebuilt, Status: active
Coordinates: 7.293632° N, 80.641387° E

Messiah for Baby’s Massage! Dabur Baby massage Oil!!!

My baby is no longer a baby, but we as mothers love babies, who doesn’t?

When the opportunity came for reviewing Dabur Baby Massage Oil – Almonds & Olives, and sharing it with my family and friends, I did not let it go off my hand. My sister Rinku who had come to spend the last leg of her vacation with us here in Mumbai with her 13 – month old son – Gauransh, whom we fondly address as Gannu, provided me the first opportunity. When I told her about this Oil for Gannu’s maalish, Rinku shared with me that she uses Johnson baby oil in summers and Dabur Lal Tel in winters for Gannu’s maalish. She also told me that she has to check Gannu’s mood before preparing him for the massage, as he becomes cranky if he is not in mood. When I told her about Dabur Baby Massage Oil – Olive & Almond for babies, she was little skeptical about using it in summers considering the hot properties of Dabur lal Tel. But here her trust for the brand Dabur came in handy otherwise it is very difficult to make a mom switch in favour of another brand. My task became easier, particularly when I told her that you can use it round the year. Now we looked forward to next morning for Gannu’s massage followed by bath. House looked like as if there was a ceremony happening with Gannu and Dabur baby massage oil. Gannu was as it is happier in Mumbai from the sweltering heat of Delhi and Kanpur.


Rinku found the aroma of oil to be very soothing and texture of the oil very smooth. The oil was just flowing on his body smoothly and it was not at all sticky. While massaging, she was sharing with me that a good oil massage keeps baby away from so many ailments and plays an important role in development of baby’s body. Hence she never misses Gannu a massage…touch wood Gannu is such a cutie pie. After the massage, bath and lunch, Gannuji went off for a sound sleep and we were happy that we sisters will get some exclusive time to chit chat. Busy chatting, we did not realize, how much time had elapsed. Rinku found Gannu sleeping for a slighter longer duration, which made me slightly concerned. But Gannuji woke up after some time & voila he was so active and cheerful.


I thanked my stars and of course Dabur Baby Massage Oil which had done the trick. Rinku was happy too and now she wanted to know what is so special about this oil brought out especially for babies like hers. She was delighted to know that this massage oil is perfect for baby’s delicate skin as it is deviod of any strong and artificial aromas, harmful parabens and parafins with the topping of natural goodness of olive and almond oil. Happily Rinku took along the oil with her.

Now it was time to share it with my niece’s daughter Saanvi, slightly over one year, hyper energetic & bubbly who gives hard time to her mother Shilpi as she runs away whenever she sees oil in her mom’s hands. I told Saanvi, Mom will be using this oil for your massage and she immediately grabbed the box from my hand. Probably she liked the cover – packaging and bottle of the Dabur Baby massage oil – Almond & Olive. After a small chase, she agreed for massage, and trust me she enjoyed the massage by me like never before. I kept showing her the box and she was enjoying it every bit. Now it was my time to experience the oil on my granddaughter, a job I was doing nearly after 17 years. To add here, I am quite a massage freak, getting messages from aromatic oils brought from Bangkok and Kual Lumpur are my perennial favorites, but giving it to a hyper child like Saanvi was quite a task. Indeed experienced the #FirstLove activity on our first granddaughter. I found oil having very silky texture with strong aroma of Almonds and Olive, which I think Saanvi also loved, which according to me are the two most important aspects in good massage oil. Also it should be devoid of harmful chemicals which may create rashes on baby’s delicate skin. In Saanvi’s case the story reversed, after massage, bath and lunch, Saanviji wanted to go for a swim in the resort. Somehow we persuaded her not to venture out in this heat.


Highlights of Dabur Baby Massage Oil:
1. Attractive packaging & packing
2. Silky – smooth texture
3. Almond – Olive Aroma
4. No Paraben & Paraffin
5. Dermatologically tested

Could you ask for more?

Here I would like to thank Rinku & Shilpi for their enthusiasm for Dabur Baby Massage Oil.

I am writing about Dabur Baby Massage Oil with the goodness of Olive & Almond for the #FirstLove Activity at Blogadda.

Travel, eating out to cost more…

Eating out, mobile phone usage and air & rail travel have become expensive from today with the government hiking service tax rate to 14 per cent. The government’s proposal to increase the rate of service tax from 12.36 per cent (including education cess) to 14 per cent has come into effect from June 1, 2015.The service tax is levied on all services, expect a small negative list.

Some of the key services that attract higher tax and have become costlier include, rail and air travel, banking, insurance, advertising, architecture, construction, credit cards, event management and tour operators.
Mobile operators and credit card companies have already sent messages to subscribers conveying the increase in service tax rate, which will have a bearing on the bills.Fares for First Class and AC classes in passenger trains, besides freight charges, have increased by about 0.5 per cent.

Jaitley had proposed to raise the service tax rate to 14 per cent to facilitate a smooth transition to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, which the government wants to roll out from April 2016.



Once implemented, GST will subsume service tax, excise and other local levies.

“To facilitate a smooth transition to levy of tax on services by both the Centre and the States, it is proposed to increase the present rate of service tax plus education cesses from 12.36 per cent to a consolidated rate of 14 per cent,” Mr Arun Jaitley, FM had said in Budget speech.

Education cess, which is levied on service tax, has been subsumed in the service tax rate. Although the Budget also proposed a 2 per cent Swachh Bharat cess on selected services, the government is yet to come out with a notification in this regard.
Source: Economic Times