Tag Archives: Ahmedabad

Swirl to the Dandiya beats this Navratri…

The festival of nine auspicious days is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her various forms. Many parts of the country are decorated with Puja Pandals, Mata Temples and Ram Leela’s happening all over.

People celebrate the festival by visiting temples and offering pujas at Mother’s feet. People also observe fast during the day and eat at the sunset. In some places images of Mother Durga are also placed in beautifully decorates pandals. Special arrangements for pujas and vrats are arranged on temples dedicated to Shakti to mark these nine days as true symbol of adoration towards the divine mother and symbol of Power- Mata Durga.

Navratri (Sanskrit: नवरात्रि, literally “nine nights”), also spelled Navaratri or Navaratri, is a multi-day Hindu festival celebrated in the autumn every year. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian sub-continent. Theoretically, there are four seasonal Navratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharad Navratri that is the most observed in the honour of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.

Navratri is one of the most awaited festival in Gujarat. Here, Navratri is celebrated on the first nine days of Ashwin month. Devotees fast for nine days and worship the idols of the goddess. According to the tradition, the women who are observing the fast bring an earthen pot home, with holes, and light it every evening and perform the aarti of maa durga. The pot is called ‘Garbi’ and the light symbolises Shakti, ‘power’.  Garba raas and dandiya raas are the two beautiful forms of Gujarati dance which is usually performed by Gujarati men and women, who are traditionally dressed in chaniya choli and kurta. Who can forget spirited Deepika Padukone & Ranveer Singh dancing to the beats of Dandiya in Raas leela.

Gujaratis in Mumbai create “Mini Gujarat” almost all over Mumbai and celebrate Navratri with Garba and dandiya nights with Celebrity singers/ performers like Falguni Pathak and what to say of Navratri in Ahmedabad’s University Grounds where youngers dance the night out on electrifying Garba beats with amalgamation of traditional & modern music. DJs belt out one number after another, however older generation feels this is not Navratri all about but new generation has their own ways of celebrating Navratri.  It is my dream to be there for Navratri someday.

When it’s Navratri, nothing but ethnic wear suits the occasion and Lehenga Choli fits perfectly for the Dandiya nights and visiting Pandals with friends and family. Triveni has come up with some mesmerising collection of Lehengas.

Their Banarasi Celebration as the name suggests celebrates ethnicity with royalty. The collection is inspired from the woven work of Banarasi Silk and contains Santoon lining. The embroideries are to add up to the embellished look. The collection comes in different shades of pretty pinks, alluring orange, ravishing green and bewitching bright yellows. The zari work to give a splendid golden touch to Lehenga and add up to the majestic look of the woman who carries it.

Ethnic Era reminds you of the fact that era of ethnicity never ends and it should not as it celebrates culture. The collection brings in the pairing up of most contrasting colors, from dark magenta colored Lehenga to light peach Dupatta. The Art Silk collection contains intricate designs and patterns throughout the Lehenga-Choli and a plain dupatta with borders on side. It contains of patch work, laces, stone work and embroideries.

Cinderella, if you want a woven touch and silk resplendence and yet an easy to carry Lehenga Choli so that you can set your feet free (like Cinderella) while dancing to the tunes of Navratri songs, go for this. From colours of all range, orange, green, pink, beige and brown, art silk Lehenga Choli are teamed up with chiffon dupattas.

Take your pick and dance your heart out this Navratri!

 

Kankaria Lake: Most Paisa Vasool tourist destination in Ahmedabad!

We planned trip to Kankaria Lake, Ahmedabad in a jiffy and what a trip it turned out to be! It is a sprawling lake which is the second biggest lake in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. It is located in the southern part of the city in the Maninagar area. A lake front has been developed around it, which has many public attractions like boat ride, toy ride, zoo, kid’s city, tethered balloon ride, water rides, Water Park, food stalls and other entertainment. The lake front was revamped in 2008. It is also well-known for Kankaria Carnival, a week-long festival held here in the last week of December when many cultural, art and social activities are organised.

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It is the most paisa vasool tourist attraction which has only Rs. 10/- as entry fee and you can enjoy whole day there however other attractions come for a fee but not much. We could not spend much time there as we had to catch up for the dinner at Vishala. So much so, that my niece Rashi and nephew Rishabh were teasing me that I had only gone there to touch the lake. Whatever, I enjoyed very much being there. The lake reminded me of Fateh Sagar Lake which we had visited recently in Udaipur. We took a boat ride, train ride and walk through the promenade. It was lovely breezy evening at Ahmedabad, which we will always remember.

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Kankaria Lake was built by Sultan Qutbuddin in the 15th century. The work was completed in 1451 CE and was known as “Qutb Hauz” or “Hauz-i-Qutb”. It was used for bathing by the kings. It had a water purification system but it has been lost with the time. At one point of the circular lake, there opens a walkway which later merges into a garden called Nagina Wadi (which means beautiful garden in Urdu) that is located in the centre of the lake. With an approximate circumference of 3 miles (4.8 km), it represents the regale history of Ahmedabad. It is a 34-sided polygon having steps which leading down to water level.

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Major attractions snap shot:

Kankaria Zoo

Kamla Nehru Zoological Park was established by Rueben David in 1951 spread over 21 acres. It was rated as the best zoo in Asia in 1974. They are 450 mammals, 2,000 birds, 140 reptiles in a 31-acre zoo. It is a treasure of wild animals like tigers, lions, python, anaconda, snakes, elephant, albinos (white), like the rhesus monkey, spotted deer, white blackbuck, chinkara, elephants, emu, jungle babbler, bush-quail and common palm civet. Kankaria Zoo has also records in breeding of rare species in Zoo like pythons, crocodiles, bearcats and wild asses. Reuben David was awarded Padma Shri in 1974 for it.

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Balvatika

It is a children’s park named after Jawaharlal Nehru. Balvatika has a boat house, playroom, butterfly and weapon displays, mirror house, toy house and planetarium. Presently most part of the park is under renovation. New rides will be introduced soon.

Amusement Park

Netherlands based company installed five rides in the amusement park in 2014. It includes the Boomerang Roller Coaster, the Flipping Arm, the Torching Tower, Disk ‘O’ pendulum and the merry-go-round. It will also have a kids play zone for computer games. The fee is of Rs. 300 which includes food also, this way it’s quite a steal.

Kids City

Kids City is a miniature world designed for kids. It is spread in 4240 sq.metre area having 18 activity centres including banks, fire station, science lab, radio station, police station, court room and prison, dental as well as medical hospital, theatre, BRTS, heritage gallery, town governance, IT centre, News room, ice-cream factory, etc.  AMC had applied for copyrights and patents on the individual games in the premises, the unique point system, Virmo (Virtual Money) and the design of the different venues in games.

Toy Trains

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A train named Atal Express (Named after Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birthday 25 December 2008) was imported from London, the train circles the lake on a 2.3 km track at a speed of 10 km/h. The train has the capacity to carry 150 passengers, including 36 adults. The train is manufactured by Severn Lamb. During the first 11 months of introducing the train, it attracted nearly a million visitors.  After the success of this train, another train was also started which named Swarnim Jayanti Express. All trains on the railway, and hence the railway itself, are 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge.

Balloon Safari

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Ahmedabad Eye is a tethered balloon ride set up near Kankaria Lake after renovation. The tethered balloon complex spread over 3000 square yard, is divided into four sections including a restaurant, tethered balloon, heritage exhibit and an exhibition displaying the making of the Ahmedabad Eye. SKYZ is a balloon themed restaurant located at the Ahmedabad Eye complex. It is managed by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Rainforest theme restaurant is also there.

Stone Mural Park

India‘s biggest Stone Mural Park named Gurjar Gaurav Gatha on the side walls of the circular lake in which sculptors are depicting, in pink sand stone, the history and rise of Gujarat is under construction. It has murals covering 3150 sq feet depicting the history of Ahmedabad right now but when completed, it will measure 6000 feet in length and will be world’s largest mural (30000 sq.metre).

Never mind, all this, something’s should always remain on your itinery to visit the city again!

Still I feel Gujarat Tourism need to aggressively this most paisa vasool complete entertainment destination in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Sabarmati River Front: Our home grown Thames River Front, London, well almost!

I was very keen to visit Sabarmati River Front while in Ahmedabad since the time I had seen it on Television; well all of us had seen PM Narendra Modiji hosting Chinese Preisdent Xi Jinping & his wife at Sabarmati River Front in Ahmedabad. The mini Gujarat created there caught entire nation’s fancy besides the walk in sprawling lawns of the river, wide promenade, and crystal clear waters and to top it all Gujarati dance performers performing all through. Who wouldn’t have loved to be there?

Finally after nearly two years of wait, I could make a trip to Ahmedabad along with my husband Mukund and daughter Tanya. My first concern was visiting Sabarmati River Front. Though it was not that easy, as I insisted our driver and guide rolled into one to take me to the same point where Chinese President was hosted by Modiji. He took us round town and finally we could spot one promenade where we spend time on drizzling evening.

Still I was not satisfied as it was nowhere close to what we had expected or seen on television, sensing that, driver promised me to show that spot next morning and he did. Voila! What a promenade it was on the banks of River Sabarmati?  We spend good amount of time enjoying the breeze and marvelling at outstanding amalgamation of nature and mankind.

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There is huge amount of construction activity going around Sabarmati, in fact in entire Ahmedabad, but London’s Eye on the promenade caught my fancy. May be in my next trip it is all on, so that we could have more fun.  The Sabarmati Riverfront Development has been envisaged as a comprehensive development of approximately 11 kilometres of length on both the banks of the Sabarmati River encompassing all its potentials as primary goals. The project approach is to bring about an overall environmental improvement, social upliftment and sustainable development along the Riverfront.

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In 1997, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) set up a Special Purpose Vehicle – Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) to manage the construction and development of the project.

Sabarmati Riverfront, proposed in 1960s, the construction began in 2005. Since 2012, the waterfront is gradually opened to public as and when facilities are constructed and various facilities are actively under construction. The major objectives of project are environment improvement, social infrastructure and sustainable development.

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The average width of the river channel was 382 metres (1,253 ft) and the narrowest cross-section 330 metres (1,080 ft). It is uniformly narrowed to 263 metres (863 ft) without affecting its flood carrying capacity and the riverbed land is reclaimed on the both east and west banks to construct 11.25 km long riverfront. It can hold 470,000 cu ft/s (13,000 m3/s) without spillage. The total of 202.79 hectares of land is reclaimed. The reclaimed land is used for public as well as private development. More than 85% of the reclaimed land will be used for public infrastructure, recreational parks, sports facilities and gardens while nearly 14% will be used for commercial and residential purpose.

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Sabarmati River has been an integral part in the life of Ahmedabad since the time the city was founded in 1411 along the river banks. Besides being an important source of water, it provided a backdrop to cultural and recreational activities. During the dry seasons, the river bed became a place for farming. With time it also offered place for various informal economic activities, and the river banks were used by informal squatter settlements.

It was truly dream come true for me.

Request Gujarat Tourism to do all out promotions so that it can emerge at most happening tourist spot in India, on the lines of River Thames in London.

KaiPoChe on Skies of Gujarat on Uttarayan! International Kite Festival Ahmedabad!!!

Makar Sankranti

Uttarayan is celebrated across Gujarat, with major centers of kite-flying in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Nadiad, among others. The International Kite Festival is held in Ahmedabad. Remember Narendra Modiji invited Salman Khan for kite flying festival couple of years ago?

My sister-in-law Shashi along with her children Rishabh & Rashi were here from Ahmedabad for their Christmas vacations which we thoroughly enjoyed with our children. While bidding good-bye, she did not forget to invite me to famed International Kite festival 2016 on Uttarayan at Ahmedabad. I wondered going to Ahmedabad for kite flying, when my own building terrace gets converted into mini Ahmedabad on Makar Sankranti? No! & Yes! This is when I started research on ‘Patang Parv’ for my own self and my esteemed readers. It is an emphatic yes now that I would be visiting Ahmedabad for Uttarayan in 2017 as I have missed the bus this year, well almost!

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Initially launched as a regional affair in 1986, it was styled as International kite festival in 1989. Held under auspices of the ‘Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited, is always being held at Gujarat coincide with Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti. The International Kite Festival at Ahmedabad is an extravaganza of kite flying, competition, culinary and crafting delights enjoyed by huge gathering of people there. On January 14, the number of kites flying over Ahmedabad could be around 4 million.

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Before anything, what is the significance of kite – flying on Uttarayan?

The festival of Uttarayan is a uniquely Gujarati phenomenon, when the skies over most cities of the state fill with kites from before dawn until well after dark. The festival marks the days in the Hindu calendar when winter begins turning to summer, known as Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan. On what is usually a bright warm sunny day with brisk breezes to lift the kites aloft, across the state almost all normal activity is shut down and everyone takes to the rooftops and roadways to fly kites and compete with their neighbours.

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Kites of all shapes and sizes are flown, and the main competition is to battle nearby kite-flyers to cut their strings and bring down their kites. For this, people find their favored kite-makers who prepare strong resilient kite bodies with springy bamboo frames and kite-paper stretched to exactly the right tension. Lastly, the kites are attached to a spool (or firkin) of manja, special kite-string coated with a mixture of glue and glass to be as sharp as possible for cutting strings of rival kites. Production of kites and kite supplies can be seen on the streets of Ahmedabad beginning in November, to get ready for Uttarayan, and nowhere more so than in Patang Bazaar, the special kite market that appears in the old city. For the week preceding the festival, it is open 24 hours a day for all kite lovers to stock up for the festivities.

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Parents who normally find their children hard to get out of bed for school will find them setting the alarm for 5 am on 14th Jan., to get up and start flying kites in the ideal pre-dawn wind. The atmosphere is wonderfully festive, as whole families gather on the rooftop, special foods like laddoos, undhyu or surati jamun are prepared for eating over the course of the day, and friends and neighbors visit each other for group kite-flying fun. At night, kite fighters send up bright white kites to be seen in the darkness, and skilled flyers will send aloft their tukkals with strings of brightly lit lanterns in a long line leading back down to the rooftop. From early morning to late at night, Uttarayan provides lots of fun and beautiful sights to remember for a long time.

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Since 1989, the city of Ahmedabad has hosted the International Kite Festival as part of the official celebration of Uttarayan, bringing master kite makers and flyers from all over the world to demonstrate their unique creations and wow the crowds with highly unusual kites. In past years, master kite makers from Malaysia have brought their wau-balang kites, llayang-llayanghave come from Indonesia, kite innovators from the USA have arrived with giant banner kites, and Japanese rokkaku fighting kites have shared the skies with Italian sculptural kites, Chinese flying dragons, and the latest high-tech modern wonders. A master kite maker and famous kite flyer Rasulbhai Rahimbhai of Ahmedabad trains of up to 500 kites on a single string have come to be a classic attraction. Almost every known variety of kite can be seen in the skies over Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, from box kites to high-speed sport kites, from windsocks and spinsocs to hand-painted artistic kites.

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Dates & Venue for Year 2016
Jan. 8 at Surat & Rajkot
Jan. 9 at Vadodara & BhavNagar
Jan. 10 & 11 at River Front Side Ahmedabad
Jan. 12 at Ahmedabad, Bhuj and Porebandar
Jan 13 at Ahmedabad, Modhera and Khambat
Jan. 14 at Pol, Ahmedabad

List of International kitists participating in IKF – 16

UK, Germany, Austria, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore, the USA, Canada, Thailand, Italy, Estonia, Cambodia, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Philippines, Vietnam, Argentina, China, Turkey, Brazil, Belgium, Israel, France, Nigeria Poland, South Korea – Approx. 100 people

Participants from outside Gujarat:
Chandigarh, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal

No wonder it looks like that a magical symphony of colour and movement against exciting back drop of general bonhomie, greets the visitor during Gujarat’s fabled Uttarayan Festivities at the International Kite Festival. Nowhere is this joyous day celebrated with as much fervour as it is in Gujarat. An integral part of Gujarati culture for over 300 years now kite flying has reached astonishing heights, with everyone join the fun frolic as you hear joyous shouts of “kaipoche” or ‘lapper’. Cashing on the huge popularity, the state machinery has moved into top gear to make Uttarayan a major competitive international event in Ahmedabad – aptly called kite capital of India.

You can visit the festival taking help of Gujarat Tourism website.

Information Courtesy: Gujarat Tourism, TOI

Visit Gujarat in glamorous style!!!

With special tour package: Mystic Glamour Gujarat

Are you looking for religious, spiritual, aspirational, adventurous & luxurious trip to Gujarat?

You can definitely consider Mystic Glamour Gujarat by Mystic Gujarat Tours.

The 5D/6N Tour starts from Ahmedabad – moves on to Dwarka, followed by Porbander, Somnath, Diu, Gir and back to Ahmedbad.

There are some really attractive family packages which you may consider. I am presenting it for the benefit of my readers.

Mystic Gujarat

Disclaimer: This is not a paid information.

 

Ilaha de Calma, DIU – Where time literally stands still!

Recently Diu Tourism has launched a TV Commercial which caught my fancy being a curious travel blogger that I am. Not only this when I opened today’s Times of India, I saw a very attractive campaign – Ilha de Calma – DIU Tourism.

More on the ad film, which starts with a young woman executive stuck with her busy chaotic life. A sudden break in the chaos happens when we cut to the serenity of the island. We watch her indulging herself in the calm surroundings and experiences of the island. The commercial ends with her enjoying the sunset atop a lighthouse as the logo of Diu, Ilha de Calma is revealed. The commercial supported by print ad shows inclination of DIU tourist traffic to the calm, serene and unexplored destination.

I was completely drawn towards DIU due to its wonderful beaches, blue waters, churches, wide roads, forts, light-house and most importantly its Portuguese demeanor. Now it was constantly on my mind to make it to DIU sometime during this year, what if I have to compromise my trip to Phuket. Now my research began on the destination which made fall in love with it even more…
The more I was reading about it, the more determined I became to be there in 2015!

Only time will tell when I can make it but I would like to share my research with my esteemed readers who too can explore this unexplored destination, you career ladies listening, oops watching! I am sure DIU commercial wouldn’t have missed your attention.

If you look around Ilha de Calma, you will find Portuguese history infused in its very being. Enriched with fascinating tales of the bygone era, this serene island became a part of the Indian Union Territory on December 19, 1961. Deriving its name from the Sanskrit word ‘dweep’, history has established it as an untouched island boasting of a magical blend of sea, sand and sun. Whether it is the food or even the brilliant architecture, you will find a surreal touch of Portuguese history running through the veins of the island. From this confluence of cultures, Diu’s own legends and tales have emerged. Take a break, take your time. Uncover myriad secrets of Diu covered under layers of time.

Here, you can walk barefoot on sun kissed sands, even as gentle waves wash over your feet and crumble your stress away. It looks as if Isle of Calm or as they say in Portuguese, Ilha de Calma is giving you heart-warming welocme. Since time immemorial Diu has rightly personified this emotion. Just a walk through the coastal enclave promises and you get limitless peace. Explorers have been known to travel far and wide for a break off the beaten path and in search of peace. This soulful destination is 67 kms from Gir, 90 kms from Somnath, a quick flight away from Mumbai and a short road trip away from Ahmedabad.
There are few must visit tourist places like:

Ghoghla Beach

Ghoghla Beach, with its golden sands, is the largest beach on the island of Diu. For those seeking adventure, this beach presents the perfect opportunity for swimming, sunbathing, parasailing or surfing. Food and accommodation are easily available at the beach. Ghoghla beach offers splendid views with occasional sightings of dolphins.

DIU Fort

The Diu Fort is a majestic sentinel silently overlooking the Arabian Sea. Built in 1535, this Portuguese fort was known to provide a strategic vantage point against enemy attacks. The fort with its double moat, a splendid array of cannons, small chapels, engraved tombstone fragments, and look-out points, presents a perfect getaway for those looking to escape the humdrum of city life.

Naida Caves

The Naida Caves are an explorer’s delight. Located outside the city wall of the Diu fort, these caves are a network of hewn hollows and steps which beg to be explored. The history of the caves suggests that the Portuguese hacked off building materials during their reign, which resulted in the formation of the caves. Plan a visit on a clear sunny day, and be assured that the cave’s natural openings will not disappoint with a spectacular display of light.

Lady of Immaculate Church

Built in 1610, this impressive church is dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. Its baroque style of architecture and curiously treated volutes make it the most elaborate of all the Portuguese churches in India. This place of worship, with its white spires that seem to reach out to the skies, proclaims peace and divinity in the quite, little enclave of Diu.

St. Thomas Church

The Church of St. Thomas was constructed in 1598, and it served as one of the major churches of Portuguese India. The Church is one of the few churches in India that boasts of Gothic style architecture. Its whitewashed exteriors still bear the worn out and faded frescos of the Portuguese era. In 1998, the abandoned church of St. Thomas was converted into a museum.

Cycling Track

Get away from the maddening rush of urban-living and lose yourself in the beautiful, calm island of Diu. The Diu cycling track is a part of a green initiative by the Government and is designed to help tourists enjoy the serenity of Diu in its most natural way. Hop on a cycle and explore the island on its newly completed 4.2 km track.

Gangeshwar Temple

The temple finds its name in mythology as the temple where the five Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva during their exile. The most remarkable feature of the Gangeshwar Temple are the five shivlings set amidst the rocks. The shivlings get washed by the waves of the sea, exposing only the tip of the lingams during high tides. The cave temple exudes powerful energy and is much revered by devotees of the mighty Lord Shiva from around the world.

Portuguese Fort

The Diu Fort is a majestic sentinel silently overlooking the Arabian Sea. Built in 1535, this Portuguese fort was known to provide a strategic vantage point against enemy attacks. The fort with its double moat, a splendid array of cannons, small chapels, engraved tombstone fragments, and look-out points, presents a perfect getaway for those looking to escape the humdrum of city life.

DIU has a very interesting history which goes like this that Pandavas during their 14 years of exile had passed a few days at a place known as Mani Nagar DIU which was under Yadavas led by Krishna Vasudeva during Mahabharata period. According to mythology, DIU was ruled by the great King Jallandhar who was daitya Demon and was killed by Lord Vishnu with his Sadarshan Chakra. The temple of Jallandhar still exists in DIU. A palm fringed, largely deserted and secluded beach, Nagoa is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in India. The unique shoe shape of beach makes it all the more beautiful.

Demographics

The island of DIU, an erstwhile Portuguese colony, is situated off the Saurashtra coast of Gujarat bordering Junagarh district. During the period from 14-16th century Diu was one of the best sea ports and a Naval base. The town and district were historically part of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat and an important port on trade routes of Arabian Sea of Indian Ocean.
Diu is located at 20.71°N 70.98°E the Island is at sea level and covers an area of 38.8 km². The climate is extremely warm and humid, with an average annual rainfall of 1500 mm.

With no tall buildings except the fort, Diu has a characteristically low skyline. Old Diu is known for its Portuguese architecture. Local transport is available from Una (Gujarat). Jet Airways services the island from the mainland, landing at Diu Airport. The nearby Nagoa beach and offshore lighthouse are popular tourist destinations, and the coast is a popular recreational area for parasailing, boating, and jet skiing. There are several hotels and resorts and there is a growing hotel and leisure industry. Unlike Gujarat, alcohol is legal in Daman and Diu.

The languages spoken in Diu include Gujarati, Portuguese, English and Hindi.

The nearest railway junction is Veraval, which is 90 km from Diu. Major cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Dwarka and Thiruvananthapuram are directly connected to Veraval Railway Station. Moreover a meter gauge at Delwada is just 8 km from Diu. Daily, two trains connect Junagadh & Veraval to Delwada Railway Station.

Information Courtesy: www. http://visitdiu.in/

Sabarmati ke Sant tune kar diya kamaal…Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Memorable experience of Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

It was a chilly December morning of 2010 when we accidentally landed in Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on the insistence of our taxi driver who was driving us to Gandhi Nagar for Akshar Dhaam temple. He said, “Ashram is on the way and you and your daughter would love it”. We couldn’t be thankful enough for making our trip worthwhile by taking us there. Ashram opens at 8:30 in the morning remains open till 6:30 in the evening.

So we (me, husband Mukund and daughter Tanya) happily agreed for this stopover. Being a Gandhian, I thought that at least I will get to see where and how Gandhiji lived. It was one such rare visit on which I had not done any research otherwise I do not visit any place without doing good amount of research. So big surprise awaited us…it was the most awesome place I had been too. We were very pleasantly surprised to see the surroundings, location, peace serenity, greenery, pictures of Gandhiji depicting various life events, Dandi march…what not. We were so bowled over by the ashram which houses Gandhiji’s room, Kitchen, Kasturba’s room, Charkha, Spectacles, Pen, footwear …what not. We could not help ourselves clicking lot of pictures there which we proudly treasure. I would like to share those with my readers who are looking forward to visiting Ahmedabad on October 2 on Gandhiji’s birthday. Let Ashram visit be first on your itienery.
So you should not make that mistake which I made by not knowing anything about the ashram but I was awarded with lot of excitement and amazement ( that’s another story). My happiness knew no bounds amidst Gandhiji, his pictures, his house, his things…how I wished I was born in that era to have met him in person. It was a great moment indeed.

Here goes the history of ashram:

Upon returning from South Africa on January 9, 1915, Gandhiji was in search for a place to settle himself and a small group of relatives and associates who were with him in the African struggle. His political views still unformed, Gandhi chose Ahmedabad in the West Indian state of Gujarat for three reasons, “Being a Gujarati, I’ll serve my country best through the use of the Guajarati language. As Ahmedabad was the centre of the handloom in early days, the work of spinning wheel (charkha) could be done in a better way, I believed. Being the capital of Gujarat its wealthy persons will also make a larger contribution, I hoped,” in his own words. He said, ‘this is the right place for our activities to carry on the search for truth and develop fearlessness – for, on one side, are the iron bolts of the foreigners, and on the other, thunderbolts of Mother Nature.”
The ashram was then shifted on 17 June 1917 to a piece of open land on the banks of the river Sabarmati. Reasons for this shift included: he wanted to do some experiments in living e.g. farming, animal husbandry, cow breeding, khadi and related constructive activities, for which he was in search of this kind of barren land; mythological, it was the ashram site of Dadhichi Rishi who had donated his bones for a righteous war; it is between a jail and a crematorium as he believed that a Satyagrahi has to invariably go to either place. The Sabarmati ashram (also known as harijan ashram) was home to Gandhiji from 1917 until 1930 and served as one of the main centres of the Indian freedom struggle. Originally called the Satyagraha ashram, reflecting the movement toward passive resistance launched by the mahatma, the ashram became home to the ideology that set India free.

Sabarmati ashram named for the river, on which it sits, was created with a dual mission. To serve as an institution that would carry on a search for truth and a platform to bring together a group of workers committed to non-violence who would help secure freedom for India.
By conceiving such a vision Gandhi and his followers hoped to foster a new social construct of truth and non-violence that would help to revolutionize the existing pattern of like.

Over the years, the ashram became home to the ideology that set India free. It aided countless other nations and people in their own battles against oppressive forces.

Sabarmati

Today, the ashram serves as a source of inspiration and guidance, and stands as a monument to Gandhi’s life mission and a testimony to others who have fought a similar struggle.
• Collecting, processing, preserving and displaying archival materials (writings, photographs, paintings, voice-records, films, personal clothes etc
• Microfilming, lamination and preservation of negatives
• Arranging exhibitions on aspects of Gandhi’s life, literature and activities
• Publication of the “mahadevbhani dairy,” which chronicles the entire history of the Indian freedom struggle
• The ashram trust funds activities that include education for the visitor, the community and routine maintenance of the museum and its surrounding grounds
• Keeping contact with as well as helping and undertaking study and research in Gandhian thought and activities and publishing the results of such study and research and allied literature for the benefit of the people
• Observance in a suitable manner of occasions connected with Gandhiji’s life
• Maintaining contact with the youth and student community and providing facilities to them for the study of Gandhian thought.
With such modest abode, “ Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamaal”

India’s Gujrat’s Navratri, World’s most spectacular dance festival

Lakhs clap, swirl and swing to dandiya beats.

Gujrat Tourism is offering “Navratri” tour package of 3 nights and 4 days inviting everyone across the Globe for nine nights of dancing bliss from Oct. 5-13, 2013. This is NRI Gujrati’s chance to expose their children to Gujrati culture in full bloom and reliving the moment of their childhood.

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India Hindu Festival

According to the legend, Goddess Amba came to Earth to rescue it from the terrors of the Demon Mahishasura. The nine nights of her valour came to be celebrated as Navratri, where followers please and appease her with their devotion and dancing. There is colour, festivities, lights, music, food and lots of fun.
You can look forward to a truly blessed holiday.

For the uninitiated,Navratri, meaning ‘nine nights’, is one of the most popular and widely celebrated Hindu festivals in many parts of India. Gujarat, however, is the only state that erupts into a nine-night dance festival, perhaps the longest in the world. Each night, all over the state, villages and cities alike, people gather in open spaces to celebrate feminine divinity, referred to as Shakti.

Must watch video of Phalguni Pathak’s Navratri Celebration

After the puja begins the music; it is unmistakable to those who are familiar with the style and irresistible to many. People begin to dance in a circle, whirling away till late into the night. It is not uncommon to find dancers with swords or lit flames and other spectacles. The traditional dance steps are simple, though over the years people have been inventing more complex steps. Similarly, the music was traditionally acoustic, principally composed of drums and singing, but most people now use amplified sound systems or a blend in the form of a live band with modern instruments. Vadodara is a good place to find the full range of these styles, traditional to modern, acoustic to amplified, simple to complicated, each one represented in its extreme somewhere in the city.

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Religion and tradition aside, a garba circle can take on a surprising spiritual power. Women often give up certain eatables during these nights, which can be quite a purifying experience, if done right. It is a time for even the most traditional and housebound women to be out of the house and whirling, uninhibited, towards the divinity that hides within her own body. Many of the songs begin slow and gradually speed up, sending the dancers into a trance, especially when the music and dance is in its rawest form. When you come to a garba, wherever in Gujarat you may find yourself for Navratri, imagine this: A circle, or concentric circles, moving around the central representation of a universal creative force, the source of life; everybody performing the same step; a mandala of energetic potential; the Mother Goddess unleashed.

Each night the village or urban neighborhood gathers to perform a puja to one of the nine forms of Goddess. The nine nights are also broken up into sections of three; the first is for Durga, the goddess who destroyed an evil force represented by the demon Mahishasura, and who destroys human impurities; the second is for Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity; the third is for Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and art. It is a time to celebrate fertility and the monsoon harvest, represented by a mound of fresh soil in which grains are sown.

The dance form also known as ras garba (also joined sometimes by dandiya, which uses small wooden sticks), comes from Lord Krishna’s worship rather than Goddess worship, from the Gopi culture of Saurashtra and Kutch. Stories of relationships between Krishna and the Gopis, and their emotions, also often make their way into the ras garba music.

Nevertheless, the focal point of every garba circle is the small Goddess shrine erected by each community to mark the beginning of the festival, on the first day of the Hindu month of Ashwin. The shrine includes a garbo, an earthenware pot, in which a betel nut, coconut, and silver coin are placed.