All posts by bienumv

Love to read, write, travel and talking to self & people!

Maruti Suzuki’s “Ghar Aaya Tyohar” depicting national integration

Maruti Suzuki Arena encourages the entire nation to drive home their celebrations with ‘Ghar Aaya Tyohar

India’s leading automotive manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, aims to uplift the market sentiment with its new festivals season-specific campaign; Ghar Aaya Tyohar. The communication brings forth the entire range of cars offered by MSIL’s new and transformed channel, Maruti Suzuki Arena.

The campaign launch is amidst the festive season where the entire nation is preparing to kick off the festivities with their rituals and unique celebratory ways. The new campaign takes an interesting take on the preparation of festivals to instill positivity among all stakeholders of Maruti Suzuki.

Commenting on the campaign, Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director-Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki India said, “Festivals are a high point in life of people. India is diverse, people are diverse and so are the festivals and the occasions to celebrate. Every festival is celebrated in its own beautiful way. However, a few things always remain common like celebration, happiness and bringing home a Maruti Suzuki. With our new Ghar Aaya Tyohar commercial, we intend to strengthen the same thought and provide people the same happiness and pride of owning a Maruti Suzuki car which we have delivered for decades”.

Maruti Suzuki is proud to be an intrinsic part millions of lives from every age group and finds a natural place in their most joyous celebrations during festivals. And this festive season is like no other, Maruti Suzuki is celebrating the season with a promise to be the most reliable partner for the journey.

 

Teacher’s Day: Post dedicated to most dedicated teacher: Mrs Shakuntala Sharma

I fondly remember celebrating Teacher’s Day in School (Kendriya Vidyalaya, Tagore Garden, New Delhi) with many debates, writing competitions and other cultural programs being organised to mark this auspicious day on September 5th. Seldom it happens that I don’t think about my teachers, school teachers, particularly who shaped the person I am today.  Teachers were such an integral part of our student lives, life was unthinkable, unimaginable without them, though I passed school some decades ago, memories of my teachers are still fresh in my mind.

Kendriya Vidyalaya Tagore Garden New Delhi As an above average, ambitious student who had this desire to become something in life, I loved creating an impression on teachers, except my Maths teacher – Chawlaji. I used to attend school, classes, activities, house activities, doing homework, classwork, participation in various activities which kept me in the limelight. I think this way today…as a child, it was like to be a good student.

Kendriya Vidyalaya Bhopal, I loved the most, best years spent here.

I recollect, when my mother visited my school for the first time –Kendriya Vidyalaya Bhopal and she asked about me from some children in the school, the whole bunch ran to call me. Mummy came to know that I was quite popular because of my good results and extra activities. I loved being in school, surrounded by teachers, students, classes, extra activities…

Probably just after school…

I had many favourite teachers and I was favourite of many teachers too, I thought so…by expressions of other students in the class. Though I loved my teachers beyond measure, loved the profession immensely as it commanded utmost respect from everyone, still never thought of becoming a teacher myself…life’s like that!

Today, I fondly remember my class teacher and Hindi subject teacher in Kendriya Vidyalaya Tagore Garden New Delhi, who left an indelible mark on me for her craft. Though I left touch with her after leaving school, she never left touch from my heart.

Mrs. Shakuntala Sharma, who was a very pretty looking, charming and sweet lady as a person and as a teacher, she was impeccable, having outstanding knowledge of Hindi language, authors, poets, writers…whatnot. Her speech and thoughts were crystal clear, everybody understood what she explained in one go. She used to prepare me for all the debates and writing competitions. In those days, career choices were very limited, parents use to decide the day daughter was born – Bitiya doctor banegi and I was no exception to that.

But once Mrs Sharma told me that with your good oratory skills and writing prowess, you take up a profession which is a combination of both. I didn’t value her advice then as I did not know if such a profession existed besides teaching. But see the irony of life, I chose to be in such a profession only! Mrs Sharma’s words – Vaani ki dhani ho, uska upyog karna!!  Certainly, I did not follow her advice in choosing my career, but it just happened. My career exploited both my talents to the hilt. Had she known about my career choice; she would have been very happy.

Always dressed in her beautiful sarees, crisp cotton for summers and smooth silks for winters supported by her really long hair braid, she looked like a goddess. She was simple by heart and knew all her students well, in parent’s teacher meetings she will come out with something exceptional about me to be shared with my parents. When my mummy told her that even her teacher’s name was Shakuntala Sharma, who taught her Economics, she was very happy to know that.

She used to board the school bus after me from her house, and the first thing I use to see her saree for the day. Probably my love for saree dates back to her sarees. I would promptly offer her my seat, which was the biggest pleasure of the day. I was the one who carried her a bunch of copies to the staff room. Because of her, I had unlimited access to the staff room…I was part of all the activities in school.

With her, I developed taste for Hindi literature and read many literary books loaned from Delhi Public Library, as suggested by her. If I read and understand Sharat Chandra, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Mahadevi Varma, Gopal das Neeraj, Harivanshrai Bachchan, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, Agyeya…it’s because of her. I fondly remember her today and always, thanks ma’am for giving me such a wonderful time in school and beyond. I love myself for my love for Hindi Literature, unfortunately, which many in India don’t have! People are busy showing off their love for English, the language and everything else.

My love and respect for works of modern-day Neeraj:

Dr Kumar Vishwas is probably an extension of that.

Never leave an opportunity to listen to Dr Vishwas:

कोई दीवाना कहता है, कोई पागल समझता है !

मगर धरती की बेचैनी को बस बादल समझता है !!

मैं तुझसे दूर कैसा हूँ , तू मुझसे दूर कैसी है !

ये तेरा दिल समझता है या मेरा दिल समझता है !!

PM Modi features in Man Vs Wild on Discovery Channel, one of its kind adventure travails!

A few days ago, a video suddenly caught my fancy, especially as a travel – blogger and the one who watches Modiji’s activities closely, where he was shown with Bear Grylls, do I know about him?  I thought he was the one who shot one such documentary with the U.S. President Barack Obama, and all of us thought to wish we had such a cool head of state. Indeed, today we have one!  He is the one who thinks innovatively to serve the cause of the nation be it of environment conservation or education of girl child. He has his plate full. I noticed PM Modi in a never seen before avatar in this highly viral documentary. Like you all, my curiosity also grew and tried to find more on this!

So for the first time, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to be featured on the popular TV show Man vs Wild with Bear Grylls, the show’s host.

He posted a teaser clip and wrote, “People across 180 countries will get to see the unknown side of PM @narendramodi as he ventures into Indian wilderness to create awareness about animal conservation & environmental change.

Mark your calendar to Catch Man Vs Wild with PM Modi @DiscoveryIN on August 12 @ 9 PM. 

Modiji is known for being media savvy and using new avenues to reach out to the younger generation. This video can be seen as his latest gesture in this regard. The video shows dark forests, unexplored flora and fauna and tigers in all its wilderness!

As per a statement released by the makers of the show, Modi said, “For years, I have lived among nature, in the mountains and the forests. These years have a lasting impact on my life. So when I was asked about a special programme focussing on life beyond politics and that too in the midst of nature I was both intrigued and inclined to take part in it.”

He added, “For me, this show presents a great opportunity to showcase to the world India’s rich environmental heritage and stress on the importance of environment conservation and living in harmony with nature. It was a great experience spending time in the jungle once again, this time with Bear, who is blessed with indefatigable energy and quest to experience nature at its purest.”

Bear Grylls also talked about the episode and said, “It is such a privilege to be taking Prime Minister Modi on an adventure into the Indian wilderness and I feel truly honoured to get to spend time with this remarkable world leader. The wild reminds us that we need each other and that together we are stronger. I am so excited to spend time with the PM and to get to know the man who leads this great nation.”

The show is known for its host Bear Grylls’ survival techniques in extreme conditions and his love for flora and fauna. In the 45-second teaser video, a voiceover introduces Modi as the head of the largest democracy in the world.

It further shows Modi welcoming Grylls in India, and then taking a trip to the interiors of India together. At one point in the video, Grylls gives Modi a jacket to keep him safe.

The video promises a fun ride into the diverse wildlife of India and how to reach there through different means.

Who is Bear Grylls?

Edward Michael Grylls OBE (born 7 June 1974), better known as Bear Grylls, is a British former SAS serviceman, survival instructor, and honorary lieutenant-colonel, and, outside his military career, an adventurer, writer, television presenter and businessman. He is widely known for his television series Man vs. Wild (2006–2011), originally titled Born Survivor: Bear Grylls for the United Kingdom release. Grylls is also involved in a number of wilderness survival television series in the UK and US. In July 2009, Grylls was appointed the youngest-ever Chief Scout of the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories at age 35, a post he has held for a second term since 2015.

Do I need to write anything about Modiji? Not at all! He is the world’s most talked about, written about and most followed leader on social media & he is our Prime Minister.

Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Park: Green Lung of Lucknow

Now, I will take you from where I had left, Janeshwar Mishra Park, Lucknow. After having some great time in the morning, we moved on to Lucknow’s Lohia Park in Gomti Nagar, which looked to me nearly 20 minutes’ drive. Indeed, Lucknow’s greenery and cleanliness are talking points. Janeshwar Mishra Park is very well-structured, equipped with modern amenities, you name it and have it, overall made by planning and design (by LDA) offering a variety of experiences for one and all.

But, if you are a true nature lover, love your morning walk and jog, yoga and meditation or just love to sit and look around, and if you love to blog and write (like me), Lohia Park is the place to be in. The park is lush green, which made Me Mumbaikar green with envy. We don’t have anything anywhere close to this park. Amidst sky-scrapers, highways, metros, flyovers, commercial offices, schools, hospitals…we have forgotten that what a good park is like.

Me, Ritu & Kamalji, after buying tickets at the park’s entrance started walking on the jogging track which was covered by huge trees. These trees provide dense shade to joggers and walkers like us, I am sure temperature would have been 1-2 degrees less than the city. On both sides, there are green belts, some rare flora and fauna, unique variety of plants, trees, some very old trees, flower beds, water bodies and an imposing statue of Lohia ji. No wonder, Lucknow is known for its statues…more on statues later!

…While we were walking, I spotted a swing and I did not miss the opportunity of being on the swing. I don’t remember how many years ago I sat on a swing, real swing not the ones we have in Essel World, Imagica, Singapore’s Sentosa Island or Hong Kong’s Disney. Who would know the pleasure of swinging on a simple swing except for our generation! Gen Y doesn’t even know what they have missed!!

I was told that park is developed by Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) and I must say there are doing the commendable job by keeping Lucknow Green and Lucknowites Pink. Made in the memory of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia ji, the park is spread in 76 acres. It has four courtyards and all have ticket windows with ample parking space.

Starting from the South-East corner of the park, the Main Navigation Path goes through the centre and ends at the North-East corner, measuring around 1 kilometre in length and 4.50 metres in width. The Main Navigation Path which is made up of Kota stones flooring also has a strip in the middle of the path where seasonal flowers are grown. Special architectural lights on designer polls can be seen all around the navigation path.

Right from the entrance, there are pathways in various directions of the park along with natural mounds, flower nursery and other areas. It looks like a light spreading in various directions. The total length of these light beam path is 2.7 kilometres and it is made up of vitrified tile along with white sandstone strips in the middle.

The semi-circular path situated near the main memorial area is almost 500 metres long, also six memory columns and walls are situated along the semi-circular path.

Just near the main memorial area, a flower garden is located in the area of 2 acres. This garden is always blooming with seasonal flowers, also there is a baradari located in the middle of the garden.

A unique system for Rain Water Harvesting has been installed in the park.

Indeed, I loved being there, more than anywhere else in Lucknow. Can’t thank Ritu and Kamalji enough. They are just wonderful hosts…

 

 

 

UP’s answer to Hyde Park London, Lucknow’s Janeshwar Mishra Park

Indeed, Janeshwar Mishra Park in Lucknow deserves a dedicated blog post, which I visited during my recent trip to Lucknow. Why I am drawing a simile to Hyde Park, because I have visited that too, though some years ago. Janeshwar Mishra Park is truly an answer to iconic Hyde Park, London.

Ritu & Kamal Mathur, my gracious hosts for this morning drive from their residence in Indira Nagar to Janeshwar Mishra Park in Gomti Nagar extension, may be fully credited for taking me there. From outside, I could not figure out what was waiting for me inside. As I had mentioned earlier, I hardly have any penchant for parks and I expected it to be close to NTR garden, Hyderabad. But yes, many surprises unfolded!

Admeasuring whopping 376 acres, the park lies between Lucknow and Faizabad, in the north-eastern side and rich fertile plains of River Gomti on the southern side. The site for the park is bordered by river Gomti and a bund road on the other side. It is one of the most prominent green lungs for Lucknow. The bund road offers a vantage location to enjoy fully developed panoramic view of the park.  The size, structure, length, breadth of the park was beyond my comprehension, it is just not possible to see it in a single visit. You need to make multiple visits to let the feeling sink in!

The park houses a very imposing statue of Janeshwar Mishraji in golden colour (I did not understand the logic behind golden colour) on a huge podium, now I found it difficult to imagine how imposing Sardar Patel’s statue would be in Gujarat.

The park was made in memory of late politician Janeshwar Mishra from Samajwadi Party, during the tenure of Akhilesh Yadav and inaugurated by Mulayam Singhji in August 2014. We can’t thank them enough for this iconic landmark of Lucknow.

So more on the park, the most striking feature was very wide jogging track running several kilometres where Lucknowites were seen jogging, moreover, it was quite spic and span. There is a need to maintain the cleanliness not only by authorities but by the public too.

Developed by Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) it is an eco-friendly park habitating some unique flora and fauna, located in the heart of the city. It has been conceptualised and designed as a multi-functional environmental and recreational green patch which not only provides a sustainable habitat for various species of birds but also double up as a major entertainment and recreation centre for everyone. It has enhanced and improved the ecological balance and help restore sensitive habitat for numerous species of birds, small animals, fishes, amphibians and even insects. How I wish MHADA also builds one such park in Mumbai to provide respite from pollution & over-crowding to Mumbaikars.

I could see two large water bodies which immensely added to the glory of the park and also enabled harnessing migratory birds and provide a haven for them in winters and summers, through the creation of lagoons and marshy lands. The area of this water body is 14 acres.

The second water body consists of a freshwater lake spread over an area of 18 acres on the southern corner of the park. The lakes are interconnected with a meandering tree-lined channel to ensure all-weather perenniallity. Collectively, the two lakes along with the channel covers an area of approximately 20 Ha and account for nearly 15% of the park area.

Another additional feature was a huge tank at the entrance and a replica of big Air Force aircraft inside, which would definitely appeal children. It has something for everyone, age, caste, creed, no bar and it is differently-abled friendly too. If you are unable to walk around, there is a provision for E Carts also. The park has lots of lights all over and I am sure it would have looked wonderful in the evening.  Special lighting is also being done in the lakes which makes mesmerising sight in the evening, told Kamal Mathur.

 

I was very fascinated by a series of jogging, cycling and walkways are built in the park. The total length of these tracks was 5.28 km., 8.85 km. and 10.5 km. respectively. The system of jogging tracks, cycling tracks and pedestrian paths have been identified in the ratio of 2:3:4.

The walkways are designed in a curvaceous manner to maximize the visual potential of the site and provide the inter-linkages to various activities proposed in the park. They run all along and across the park, along with the water bodies, connecting cultural hub and theme gardens, parking and cycle tracks.

With heavy heart, we parted ways from this beautiful destination, as I wanted to spend some more time there. On the way I clicked some more photos of the greenery surrounding the mark. Kamal Mathur clicked some beautiful pictures and you can see for yourself, how camera friendly he is!

Thanks, a tonne, Ritu & Kamal ji, I couldn’t have asked for more!

 

#ShinningBloggers #TorchBearers Awarded, an evening to remember!

What started as an apprehensive nomination for Bloggers from all over India, turned out to be a memorable event for bloggers,  and authors (torch bearers). Millennial Worx from Lucknow instituted these awards to honour bloggers and torchbearers for the first time. When I saw my name in the list of nominated bloggers, I was happy. Then the process of voting started and I must admit that my friends, family, acquaintances, old colleagues, closely connected, loosely connected, remotely connected all voted for me happily…right from my brother-in-law Atul Vaghela in the US to my friend Aroma Ahuja in Meerut, Western UP.  My special gratitude to all of them for this sweet gesture. Above all BIG thank you to Millennial Worx for this special recognition, which will remain truly special in my life!

I am based out of Mumbai, and the event was in Lucknow, capital of UP and my home town, I wanted to make it! As all the communication was going on mails and social media with Millennial Worx, I was not feeling confident about making it to the event. Now, I dug deeper, I got a phone number to hear the actual voice, which was of founder Dr Raveesh Shrivastava, this conversation firmed my decision and here I was all set to go to Lucknow. Tickets were booked in a jiffy…after landing Lucknow…I could not contain my excitement, Amausi airport, which was like a runway in a village had transformed into swanky Chowdhury Charan Singh International Airport.

The road outside the airport leading to the main road was flooded which looked like a swimming pool due to rains, we had to walk our way with great difficulty to the car. The way was slippery, muddy, watery, many people were about to miss their flights as there was a big jam outside due to BJP UP President’s arrival at the airport. There was a caravan of 3-4 thousand cars with BJP workers on both sides of the road. This caused a lot of inconvenience to flyers from Lucknow, hope they had not missed their flight. I think all political parties should avoid such roadshows which create huge traffic jams outside any public place. I reached Lucknow from Mumbai in 2:15 minutes and home in Indira Nagar in 2:30 hours. Can it be worse? I was delighted to meet my extended family who received me with a lot of warmth. I was brimming with joy…

…finally, the keenly awaited moment! Sunday evening – July 21, 4 PM I reached the office of Millennial Works located near Dainik Jagran Circle where everybody was already present. Dr Raveesh Shrivastava received me personally and Ms Meetika Shrivastava greeted me with her infectious smile. The program started with the welcome address by Meetika, where she disclosed the details of the awards.

Talented team member Shubhangi Shrivastava presented beautiful fusion kathak, something which I had never seen before. The program progressed and torchbearers, Senior Member Mr V.K. Joshi, Director GSI received the trophy and citation from Dr Raveesh Shrivastava and Ms Meetika. In his address, he reminisced the days of learning computers on 286 and how his journey as an author began and progressed with the progress of technology.

Now was the turn of Award to Dr Nitya Prakash who had travelled from Guna, MP and has been credited for authoring 10 books and making four films. His journey was truly inspirational, who left his rewarding corporate job in Mumbai to listen to the calling of his heart – writing. I must say he is a very accomplished writer for his young age.

I was first to receive the prize in the Bloggers category and couldn’t contain my excitement for this special moment. For the first time, my Blog was receiving an award, love, labour, not lost!

I shared my journey as a blogger amidst the presence of bloggers, influencers, torch-bearers, team and press. It was a very nicely organised awards function, quite a deviation from Mumbai’s glamour laden award functions. I enjoyed all the performances. Many awardees who could not make it to the event, were connected through a video conference call.

Meetika’s address and interaction were very inspiring!

The surprise element was #NawabDrummers performance on drums, who is just six years old and many records are there to his credit for being the fastest drummer. I must say, he played beautifully Saare Jahan se accha and National anthem. He is a child prodigy indeed! I made few friends there, freaked out a selfie zone and struck some nice conversation with Dr Shrivastava. As soon as I posted the award on FB, I started receiving calls from the US, UK, Mumbai, Delhi, Varanasi, Lucknow, MP, Agra…all over.

I must say the team of Millennial Worx helmed by Dr Raveesh Shrivastava was very friendly, polite and respectful. Meetika met me as we had known each other from ages…looking very graceful in a saree!

…Look forward to many more such occasions with Millennial Worx. Feels nice when you receive recognition for the work which you started as a hobby and culminated into a passion.

My advice to young bloggers: Be original, Write from the heart!

 

Lucknow: Invoking nostalgia, excitement, anxiety, everything!

हम फिदाये लखनऊ, लखनऊ फिदाये हम!

Lucknow brings back many a nostalgic moment for me…the years spent there, the time spent there is just unforgettable, in fact, they are running like a flash-back in my mind. Since I have planned a trip to Lucknow, there have been many vivid memories of the place, my stay, my office, my home, my friends and my colleagues…all are making a beeline in my head and heart.

I didn’t know I would be going through all this and more…I am overwhelmed. How time rolled, how so many years passed, I never missed Lucknow so much, as I am doing now. Anxiety and Excitement are in equal measure. I am remembering visits to Hazrat Ganj in the evenings where we casually strolled, did “Ganjing” as it was popularly called, on many a pleasant Lucknow evening. Coffee in the coffee houses there, Chaat at the chaat corners, window shopping and some serious shopping too, at various places was my favourite activity. No measure can match up the pleasure of Ganjing in those days.

We stayed near Bhootnath temple in Indira Nagar which had many a shop in its vicinity, while returning from office, I would come via Bhoothnath and pick up whatever I liked to eat. I knew each and every shop by name, as I was quite a regular there. I made many precious friends there.

Soni Bhaiya, was always around till we stayed there, and always. His love and affection for me are unconditional, then there is Kamal Mathur, polite, courteous, creative, friendly always…look forward to meeting him and wife Ritu after say 25 years.

When all of a sudden, I decided to leave Lucknow for a new life in Mumbai, it was a sort of culture shock for me. Lucknow is a place known for its culture and tehzeeb and Mumbai…less said the better. Being a capital of the largest state of India, U.P. it has always been a multi-cultural city. Known for its courtly manners, beautiful gardens, poetry, music, and fine cuisine patronized by the Persian-loving Shia Nawabs of the city are well known amongst Indians and students of South Asian culture and history. Even after leaving Lucknow, many many years ago, I keenly follow the political and social developments there. I always, how I wish I was in Lucknow now when Yogiji is CM. Such is my love for Lucknow!

Lucknow has many places for sightseeing like Bada Imambara, Chota Imambara, Residency, Rumi Darwaza, Gomti River Front, Lohia Park, Janeshwar Mishra Park and many more. Of course, not to miss Ganjing and chai and chaat in Chowk. I heard that Lucknow has Metro now, so Metro ride to banti hai, Mumbai mein to ban hi rahi hai…

The trip to Lucknow is not complete without shopping for some chikan kari, which is matchless because of its craft, the intricacies, embroideries and love for the dresses, sarees! The place is Ameena Bad for that. It brings back memories of dear Papa who loved visiting Ameenabad always, it was his city after all.

Lucknow is famous for its Awadhi cuisines and if you are a non-vegetarian, don’t miss Tunde – Ke – Kabab’s, most authentic kababs one can think of. Mouth-watering chaats, shakes, kulfis, fruit chaats etc. are other add-ons. Being a foodie, I would love to try all this and more!

I heard that Lucknow has transformed completely and is developed enough to give some serious competition to Metros, but I am going to explore my good, old Lucknow where I spent such precious carefree years, not without doing some serious work as UP Govt’s Class I officer.

In Mumbai, people did not even know what it is to be like UP Government official, this is life you encounter all…it is a roller coaster ride, ultra-highs and ultra-lows!

Special thanks to Dr. Raveesh Shrivastava, who made this happen from Millennial Works.

 

Hussain Sagar Lake & Hyderabad Blues!


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We planned to visit iconic Hussain Sagar Lake of Hyderabad while returning from Chilkur Balaji Temple, it was afternoon time, dark and cloudy, even drizzling. In such a weather, any site could not have been more fascinating than Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad. The lake is situated in the midst of twin cities: Hyderabad & Secunderabad. The lake is so huge that it almost looked like a seashore, in the middle of the lake, there is a huge statue of standing Lord Buddha which has a height of 16 m and weighs almost 350 tonnes. Made up of white granite, the statue is on the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’. The lighting show at the statue is something that is worth watching.

The stroll on the sides of the lake was quite pleasant and soothing. Had I been living in Hyderabad; I would have visited this place quite often. It was a pleasant site to see the cleanliness around the lake. In fact, all places which we visited were quite clean, rather spic and span, which made a rather unusual sight for #MeMumbaikar. Probably this is the impact of Modiji’s Swachchta Abhiyan for which we are paying 2% Cess. At least in some state, it is properly utilised.

Having been bordered by Indira Park in the east, Sanjeevaiah Park in the north and Lumbini Park in the south, the lake presents a setting quite rare to find in the middle of any city. There is also a bund on its banks, which was built to control the flow of water. This artificial lake now beautifies the city gracefully. Not just for beauty, it is also known for its historical connection. On the banks of this Hussain Sagar Lake, the treaty between Mughals and Golconda was signed.

This trip took us around the city which boasts of huge commercial buildings, shopping malls and shopping arcades and general shops. Roads are wide and well maintained, traffic moderate and everything easily accessible. There is an impressive network of Metros which must be helping office goers in a big way. There are many flyovers also, which boasts of vertical gardens beneath. Yea, the striking feature would be that though the city has the tag of tech city with a lot of development taking place all over, lots of residential complexes and commercial complexes coming up all over, the city boasts of its fair share of greenery all over.

My cousin Vandana shared that ladies love to work here that way it is quite safe for them. It is very well lit and some areas are quite impressive with their lighting. If you are in Hyderabad, Hyderabadi Biryani is must, we could see Biryani joints all over along with some attractive pan boutiques. Paradise Biryani, being most famous and biggest, has a junction in its name called Paradise junction. Vandana hosted us most delicious biryani I could think of made by her expert cook Shabana, under the guidance of Vandana. One more memorable experience!

Shopping in Hyderabad is quite a delightful experience for its inimitable pearls, south silk Mangalgiri cotton, Gadhwal silks and Kanjeeverams and other assortment of beautiful and reasonably priced sarees. I freaked out on them…shop keepers and staff are very cordial; they show you any number of pieces without any expectations and are very well – equipped with interiors, lighting, display and staff. They speak very good Hindi besides Telugu and English and understand the consumer’s pulse.

I noticed two Kendriya Vidyalayas and many other schools in the vicinity. Hyderabad is famous Education Centre and boasts of ISB, Administrative Staff College of India, IPS Police academy and ICFAI.

Indeed, we loved being in Hyderabad and spending some very quality time with my cousin Vandana, who I believe equally cherished my company. Hyderabad Blues persist

NTR Gardens: Baby’s oops Babes’ evening out!

Though I am not a park-park person, somehow park reminds me of old Bollywood movies where the hero and heroine romance behind trees and sing love duets, which is not the case with me. So, I don’t relate to an outing in the park…

…But visit to NTR Gardens, Hyderabad turned out to be quite a unique experience. Sisters decided to visit the park and there we were! I was apprehensive that it may be a local park, like any other park, but that was not to be. We became kids amidst kids and we enjoyed every moment of it. I was fascinated by the entrance itself which had unique architecture and Nandi Bull beside a waterfall added to the beauty of the facade. I knew something much more exciting was in the offing…

We started our visit by boarding the toy train which took us around the park, this way we could have the complete view of the park, which somehow reminded me of night safari, Singapore. With child-like excitement, we were relishing every moment of our joy ride.  One of the most striking observations about the park would be its neatness and ticket pricing, just 20 Rupees for so much fun.   

Vandana told me that NTR Garden is built in the memory of late Shri N T Rama Rao, former and one of the most popular chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh. Spread across an area of 36 acres, it presents a soothing atmosphere and refreshing setting to visitors. Built at a cost of Rs. 40 crores, it was in 2002, when the NTR garden was opened to the public.

Breathtakingly beautiful and intricately landscaped, the Garden presented a very fascinating view besides offering various kinds of recreational options as well. Some of these are a boat ride, Japanese garden, Roaring Cascade, a Fountain, etc. We clicked lots of pictures and why not? We were in the most picturesque place of Hyderabad.

One of the striking features of the NTR garden is the Desert Garden, consisting of about 150 plant varieties, mainly of those plans which are commonly referred as desert plants such as cacti, succulents, etc. The plants, which also boast of medicinal importance and are used for various herbal remedies, have been brought to Hyderabad from various parts of the country like Kolkata, Shirdi, etc.

The garden has been created in such a way that it offers breath-taking natural surroundings along with ample entertaining activities. Excellent facilities for food are also provided in the garden. Various eat out joints, car cafe and fruit restaurant which is a 2000-square-metre restaurant circumvented by three petal-shaped ponds offer not just mouth-watering dishes but also a beautiful setting to relish the same. The Car Cafes are primarily cafes with a seating capacity of six and which are mobile.

It is close to the popular Hussain Sagar Lake, which makes a visit to the park even more enjoyable. One can visit the till 9 in the night as the NTR Garden timings are from 12:30 pm- 9:00 pm.

As goes the saying, pictures speak louder than words, enjoy our sojourn to NTR Gardens in pictures. Actually, I am short of words to describe the beauty of NTR garden.

The day concluded by a visit to Hanuman Ji ka Mandir, which was so divine and loved being there the most. I couldn’t have thanked Vandana enough for these divine sojourns.

Must visit while in Hyderabad!

Obeisance at Chilkur Balaji Temple, divinity paramount!

June 29: Visit to Chilkur Balaji Temple!

We (Vandana, Me & Mukund) set out for Chilkur Balaji temple in the morning, it was in a long time that I was visiting a temple. Full credit for this visit and divine experience goes to Vandana & Jijaji ( Anil Kumar Saxena), who made it possible. The drive was pleasant as the weather was breezy and cloudy and even sunny some times. Enroute, we saw Golkunda Fort also. It took us around one – hour to reach there. In the morning, Jijaji had given me some finer points about this temple which I would like to share with you.  

This temple is also popularly known as “Visa Balaji temple”. Apparently, the temple is known for fulfilling devotees’ wishes to get a visa for going overseas. Chilkur Balaji is also known for being one of the very few temples in India without any hundi or donation box, preaching only the devoutness in one’s nature. So, if you have visa issues, visit Chilkur Balaji temple. Secondly, you have to make a wish with your eyes open and thirdly, there is no donation box, which is a rarity for any place of worship. For the first time, I saw Tulsi mala made of fresh green big Tulsi leaves, which all devotees offer to the deity. I loved the mala, how I wished I could carry it!

The temple premises were very crowded as it was a Saturday and it was some auspicious day. There was a long queue, but it was not at all tiring, as we all wanted to reach the temple and make a wish. Indeed, the crowds were very disciplined, moving in the queue properly.

Balaji temple is located almost 30 kilometres from Hyderabad, in Chilkur, which is a small picturesque village and a popular pilgrimage. On the banks of Osman Sagar Lake, close to the Vikarabad road, this temple attracts hordes of devotees from all over the country. Chilkur Balaji temple has a pleasing architecture too, boasting of being one of the oldest temples in Telangana. It is said that this temple was built more than half a millennium ago, the temple is being considered as an alternative of Tirumala temple. The main deity of the temple is Lord Balaji Venkateswara along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi accompanying him.

Usually, the devotees follow a common pattern. They offer 11 “pradakshinas” and their prayers to the deity. Once the wish is granted, they take 108 pradakshinas of the temple to show their gratitude and thank the God.

The rounds are done amid the chanting of mantras and religious yet lively talks of the highly educated priests, who speak and motivate devotees in English and Telugu. This temple is known for its positive and peaceful atmosphere, away from the commercialized touch.

Chilkur Balaji temple darshan timings are from 5 in the morning to 8 in the night. It is open throughout the week. Devotees can be seen doing pradakshina since morning till late in the night. Outside the temple, there are many small hotels as well. For accommodation, you can go to the Haritha Hotel by Telangana Tourism which is located very near to the Chilkur Balaji temple.

 

Our visit was not complete without some more shopping of bangles…

…Thanks, Vandana & Jijaji for this divine experience!