Tag Archives: Lucknow

Glass Apart: My LOVE for Glass Bangles!

मेरे हाथों में नौ नौ चूड़ियां है…

The precious leave of Holi was utilised in a very unusual activity, taking account (Style, Design, Colour, Numbers – Total Audit) of the Bangles I have in my cupboard. I wanted to organise these as I was repeating my bangles quite often…

…& I don’t like doing that! I am a self-confessed bangle freak!!

I love to wear new bangles every day, matching it with the outfit, though it doesn’t go that way. So, cupboard cleaning and organising took a few hours but it was worth it. For the first time, I noticed my collection of glass bangles, bought from the length and breadth of the country. They were parked the same way as offloaded carefully from the flight, without even checking what and how many bangles I had bought.

My personal collection

My love for glass bangles dates back to my childhood when an old gentleman used to come to sell glass bangles in his daliya (cane basket), neatly tied by a sootli (thin rope) in such a manner, so that design colour etc. was clearly visible. My mother use to buy lots of bangles from him whenever he came. (Maybe it is genetic). I was a very curious child always, so I asked many questions from bangle seller – Naccha! So, what is Naacha now – Mummy use to call him chacha, I called him naana, so he became Nachha (Naana – Chacha) for all ladies in the colony! I don’t know what he thought about this new nomenclature.

Questions like: Bangles are made of what, how do you colour them? How do you put sequins on them? Why do you bring these in cane basket? Are these heavy? Why do you sell bangles? He patiently replied all my queries while selling his bangles to colony aunties, sipping hot tea. Once his sale was over, he will give me a few free bangles and my joy in knew no bounds. Probably, the love dates back to the incident, which I suddenly recollected while sorting my bangle collection today…real nostalgia!

My glass bangle collection has travelled from far-flung areas, across the length and breadth of the country right from Katra, Jammu to Hyderabad, AP traversing Delhi ( Pracheen Mandir Bangle Bazaar, Delhi Haat, Janpath, Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar) Jaipur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Lucknow, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Hardwar, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Kolkatta ( Shankha Poda), Assam, Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda, Kutch, Bhuj…

Even international destinations are not spared: London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Guangzhou, Bangkok…I have bought whatever in the name of bangle available there! (needs a separate post)

You will be surprised to know that I always carry a sheet of bubble wrap to pack my bangles so that they can survive the wrath of airline people. Before planning a trip, I never forget to check from where I can buy bangles. Over a period of time, I realised that bangles are becoming my passion, rather obsession! By nature, I am a very content person, I don’t like to hoard stuff for the heck of it, but I can’t control when bangles cross my eyes. I want to shop, come what may and most of the time I do that. I remember my bua saying: बिंदी, चूड़ी के लिए क्या सोचना!

That has stayed with me. I never give a thought to anything while buying bangles. I am sharing a few pictures from my collection. I love wearing them especially with traditional outfits on all occasions, on all festivals. Sometimes I decide the bangles first and then match the saree or dress. If I something misplaced, I feel very agitated.

The history of bangles dates back to Mohen-jo-daro days, 2600 BC when these were found in excavation and statues were found wearing them. In India Ferozabad in UP, near Agra is very famous for glass bangles and supplies to the world. The bangles of Firozabad are exceptionally made, so intricate, so colourful, so fine… It is one of a kind cluster producing bangles and catering to the growing demands and requirement in India, there is approximately 150 bangle making in the city.

We Indians love bangles, the love of Bollywood for bangles is part of the folklore, haven’t we grown up hearing songs like:

चूड़ी नहीं मेरा दिल है, बिंदिया चमकेगी चूड़ी खनकेगी, मेरे हाथों में नौ नौ चूड़ियां है, बोले चूड़ियां बोले कंगना

No celebration is complete without bangles, No Shringar is complete without bangles! Life is a celebration, celebrate it with anything you love!

My special thanks to Sai Vandana, Aarti Mohit Mathur, Aparna Chaturvedi and Hemlata Didi who have patiently tolerated my madness, added to the collection in whichever ways possible.

Last but not the least my dear Mummy, Usha Varma for introducing to the finer things in life!

 

 

 

 

 

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…

 

 

 

#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.

 

Ayodhya: Mandir Kab? Vikas Ab!


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While Court was busy in giving tareeq-pe-tareeq, Modiji, Gadkariji and Yogiji developed Ayodhyaji as a remarkable pilgrimage and tourism centre. Now people visiting UP, can’t miss visiting Ayodhya, it is a prominent destination on India’s tourism map and of course holy shrine of all Hindus. Mandir kab Banega, Mujhe Nahi pata, but Ayodhya Jana to Banta hai…

Ayodhya is one such holy city in the entire world which is in the news every day, round the year. Why? I don’t need to tell you here. But recently, it was in News for a different reason, when Mr Nitin Gadkari announced infrastructure projects worth Rs. 5300 crores in Ayodhya, which included improvement of 84 Kosi Parikrama Marg and Ram Van Gaman Marg, which was long overdue. These two projects have religious significance for pilgrims.

With Yogiji as CM of UP, Ayodhya got its due, many infrastructure projects have been commissioned, Saryu aarti became the talk of the town and tourists have started visiting Ayodhya. Though Ram Mandir is still subjudice with next hearing coming up in Supreme Court soon (tareeq pe tareeq), if doesn’t get shelved as has been happening from last so many months, testing the patience of Indian public. All are helplessly watching – when Ayodhya dispute will be put up for hearing and will not be deferred on some or the other flimsy ground. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Read on to know its history and geography and more…

The Ayodhya city situated on the banks of the River Saryu being associated with a mythological epic Ramayan as the birthplace of Lord Ram has various temples that are prominent spiritual places for tourists to visit. Along with temples,

Historically Ayodhya was known as Saketa which was an important city during the 6th Century in civilized India. Indeed, during Buddha’s time, Saketa was ruled by Prasenadi whose capital was Sravasti. Even, during Maurya rule, Saketa continued its prominence and was attacked by Bactrian Greek expedition allied to Panchala and Mathur during 190 B.C.

During the Gupta rulers, Ayodhya reached its highest political significance such that during the reigns of Kumaragupta and Skandagupta capital of the empire was shifted from Pataliputra to Ayodhya where the old name of Saketa was replaced to Ayodhya. Ayodhya name of the city defines the city as Lord Rama’s capital city. But, during Narasimhagupta the empire was destroyed by Huns that caused the shifting of the capital to Kanauj in the 6th century. It resulted in the oblivion of Ayodhya. In the early second millennium, Gahadavalas came into power at Kannauj. During his rule, Gahadavalas built several Vishnu temples at Ayodhya. In subsequent years, the cult of Rama developed within Vaishnavism, with Rama being regarded as the foremost avatar of Vishnu.

Consequently, Ayodhya’s importance as a pilgrimage centre grew and tourists can visit so many pilgrimage places in Ayodhya. Ayodhya also has various other tourist spots. Some are:

Ram Janmabhoomi Temple

However, the area of Ram Janmabhoomi is disputed since the destruction of Babri Masjid built on it; yet due to its mythological association with Ramayan as the birthplace of Lord Ram, this place is a major tourist attraction in Ayodhya. This place possesses spiritual significance for Hindus and hence it is a place worth visiting.

Hanuman Garhi

Another important temple that is situated in Ayodhya is Hanuman Garhi that is solely dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The temple is characterized by the 70 steep steps that should be scaled in order to reach the temple complex. Truly, this place is a must to visit.

Treta Ke Thakur

Treta Ke Thakur is an ancient temple situated on the banks of the river Sarayu in Ayodhya. This temple has a beautiful idol of Lord Ram carved out in black sandstones.

Kanak Bhawan

This temple is built on an area that was supposed to house another temple which was gifted to Sita immediately after her marriage by Lord Ram. The temple was later renovated by King Vikramaditya of the Paramara dynasty and again rebuilt in 1891. This temple has a marvellous architecture that makes it worth visiting.

After the independence of India from British rule, Ayodhya has been an important city of Uttar Pradesh from a spiritual point of view.

The distance between Lucknow to Ayodhya is 135 km by Road and 142 km by Rails. Aerial distance is 125 km. There is/are 15 direct train(s) from Lucknow to Ayodhya. You can reach Lucknow by Air and Train, very well – connected network of airports and railways.

Not only in India, in Uttar Pradesh, in Thailand, but the place known as Ayutthaya is also named after Ayodhya – the birthplace of Lord Rama in India. Thai kings called themselves as Rama and their capital Ayutthaya. Beautiful!!

More on it my next post…

Kamal Mathur, Guest Contributor on Janeshwar Mishra Park Lucknow

From the lens & pen of travel enthusiast and media professional, travel-knots presents before you an Exclusive Photo-Essay on Lucknow’s Janeshwar Mishra Park, the biggest in Asia by our Guest Contributor for the month – KAMAL MATHUR from Lucknow.

janeshwar 2

Spread over a massive area of 376 acres with water bodies running across it, it is just magnificent. Named after a leading socialist leader,Janeshwar Mishra, (Gomti Nagar Extension,  Lucknow) park is a sprawling beauty and has pride of place on Lucknow’s landscape.  Till now Lucknow has been famous for so many landmarks right from Charbagh Station to Imambaras to Tunde ke Kababs to Chikankaari, to top it all its inimitable Lucknowi tehzeeb! Now it has another landmark in its kitty – the Janeshwar Mishra Park!!

Janeshwar Mishra

You cannot miss the sight of the 25 feet high imposing statue of Janeshwar Mishra, the moment you enter from the main gate. The lush green lawns, the Palm trees lined pathways and the magnificent fountains in the ” Khukri” shape lake add grandeur to its beauty. Gondola rides in the lakes is on the cards. Home to various species of birds including migratory ones, the park is rich in flora and fauna.

The park is designed with exclusive and extensive cycle tracks that provide an excellent visual and cycling delight to the visitors. The total length of the proposed cycle track is 5.28 km that is deemed sufficient for the site. Adequate cycling infrastructure i.e. cycles, parking and sit outs along with cycle tracks are being provided. A suitable management system for the use of cycles is there so that visitors can ride the bicycles for a defined duration on individual or group booking basis.

By the name, it sounds that it will be a place for adults or senior citizens who like to spend quality time in the sunset years of their lives. Of course, that has been taken care in ample measures, but park has some great offerings for children too with many exciting slides & swings.

For young adults, park offers the Health Zone with an open air gymnasium, Jogging & Walking Tracks, the Cycling Tracks besides entertainment and recreational facilities.

&&& All this with a Food Court with its yummy offerings.

The highlights are:

  • Two Vijayanta Tanks( of 1971 war fame )
  • MIG-21 fighter aircraft
  • 207 feet high flag mast with 60 feet wide & 90 feet tri-colour on it

Which patriot would not like offer salute here!

Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) has developed this eco-friendly in the heart of the city at Gomti Nagar. It has been conceptualised and designed as a multi-functional environmental and recreational green park which will not just provide sustainable habitat for various species of birds but also double up as a major entertainment and recreation centre for all sections of the society.

The site can be accessed from four different directions and therefore four separate entries in North and South-East direction are located at suitable points. The site is also bound by a 45m Row Bund road on the River side with embankment. The site can always be accessed by private modes such as cars and two wheelers but not many public transport options such as buses are available for the members of the public.

Request UPTourism to promote this awesome tourist destination so that people don’t miss visiting while they are in UP like Taj Mahal!

If you too want to contribute landmarks in your city / country or the place you have visited recently, write to me on: bienumv@gmail.com.

 

Ganjing Carnival in Hazrat Ganj Lucknow, Down Memory Lane!

I came across pictures of Ganjing Carnival on my facebook page which made me really very emotional, as Lucknow as a City has great sentimental value for me. My heart immediately traversed to 90s, and thoughts crossed my mind of the wonderful time I spent in Lucknow then. . I can safely say that some of the best years of my life were spent in Lucknow and Ganjing was integral part of my stay in Lucknow.  

Ganj

Shifting from Delhi to Lucknow can be termed as backward integration for me and many people advised me against it. Given the headstrong person, that I am, I stuck to my guns. Before that I had just been to Lucknow only once that too for my interview appointment in PICUP. I had not applied much thought to it that what shifting to Capital of biggest state of the country would entail. After selection, I was quite clear that I am going to join PICUP and shift to Lucknow. In no time, it all fell into place.

नवाबों के शहर – शहरे लखनऊ

char

The ‘open’ culture of Delhi was in sharp contrast to ‘closed’ culture of Lucknow. This posed serious challenge for me as an individual. Your every action was under scanner, in office, in market, in extended families and friends (??).  Now that I was in Lucknow, I had to learn the trick of the trade, as goes the saying: While in Rome, Do as the Romans do!  Going by the Mantra, I started making friends in colleagues but most of them were from Lucknow only. Obviously they bonded well in office, after office, could connect very well with each other. I being an outsider, a Delhi girl, though it generated curiosity among them but they were far from friendly. Few months passed in repenting about my decision, my heart ran back to Delhi all the time and I cursed myself for making the decision of shifting to Lucknow. But now, nothing could be done. I had found solace in the posters all over: मुस्कुराइए की आप लखनऊ में हैं!

As times passed by, I made friends with my colleagues: Geeta Sindhi, Amarjeet Singh, Ajay Kumar, Nadeem Ahmed, Kanika Gautam…with special mention of Shri Jwalant Swaroop. He is worthy of another special post.  Not to miss mention of bosses like: Mr P.L.Punia, Rajive Kumar, V.K. Chopra, J. K. Gupta and Prabhat Kumar.  Things started changing, I started gelling in Lucknow & PICUP cultures simultaneously and frequent visit to Hazrat Ganj – the upmarket shopping destination of Lucknow played a big role. The visits to specific destinations, movie theatres – remember watching “ Ram Teri Ganga Maili’ in Mayfair and coffee shops played a big role with my office colleagues and with Geeta in particular.

Evenings in Ganj were just amazing with setting sun providing the backdrop, foodies thronging the by lanes, lovers walking in the Lover’s lane ( actually called Lover’s lane), families out of shopping and movie lovers for movies all made up for the strong case in favour of Ganjing at any given point of time. Yes, Ganjing is the term, everywhere people go for shopping, outing, strolling but in Lucknow people go for GANJING! It was quite an experience in itself which made my stay even more pleasurable.

Now when I read about Ganjing Carnival, it was down memory lane…how time has flown. I don’t remember specific shops, cafés or even movie halls but I very fondly remember shopping with my mom in Ganj, hanging out with my friends, fun time with girlie gang or some official meetings too. Ganj holds a very special place in my heart like everyone who has been associated with Lucknow in any which ways.  Ganj is heart of Lucknow and Carival is the Celebration.

So for the uninitiated: Hazratganj (Hindi: हज़रतगंज, Urdu: حضرتگںج) is a major shopping area situated in the heart of Lucknow in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. In addition to bazaars, it also contains shopping complexes, restaurants, hotels, theaters and offices. “Ganjing” is a term used to describe ambling and shopping in the wide lanes and by lanes of city’s ganj market. Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) together with city’s administration organizes monthly carnival on the second Sunday of each month in Hazrat Ganj market. On this night, the market becomes a no-parking zone with barricades and security services. Various types of cultural and entertainment programmes are held for the general public. Lucknow Police watches the crowd with the help of drone cameras.

Today Hazratganj is a major Victorian style shopping area. It houses showrooms, shopping complexes, restaurants, hotels, theatres, offices and businesses. Hazratganj shops sell the famous Lucknow chikankari  material. Gurjari, Handloom Emporium and Gandhi Ashrams are also located in the market.

sahara

The Sahara Ganj Mall is a 5-storied major shopping mall located in Hazratganj. It is one of the largest shopping malls in India covering an area of over 425,000 square feet.  It also has PVR movie theaters besides a huge food court.

Look forward to making it to Ganjing Carnival, till then like me you too see it to believe it!

 

 

चित्रकूट के घाट पर हुई संतन की भीड़, तुलसीदास चन्दन घिसे, तिलक देते रघुबीर

Recently my brother Prabhat went to Lucknow for some of his official work. Having a special connect with Lucknow, as we have lived and worked there for many years, I called him to know that which all places he is planning to visit in Lucknow. Prabhat told me that he is skipping Lucknow and is visiting Chitrakoot instead, the land of Lord Ram & Tulsidas.

unnamed

I questioned, “Is this the same place, which has mention in the famous ballad “चित्रकूट के घाट पर हुई संतन की भीड़, तुलसीदास चन्दन घिसे, तिलक देते रघुबीर” He laughed when I recited the Ballad to him. Going by the fact that the religious and spiritual person he is, he sounded quite excited about going to Chitrakoot. He called me once he reached Chitrakoot after driving for nearly six hours and was mesmerized by the greenery and beauty of the place. My curiosity grew in the place but I had to wait for some more days for him to return to get updates on Chitrakoot. He doesn’t like to be disturbed in his religious and meditation sessions. But the wait was worth. The place is indeed very religious and spiritual and is a heaven for Ram Bhakts. I thought of sharing the details shared by him with my readers. You will particularly love the place if you are a true Ram Bhakt!

rama

Celebrated in ballads and the scriptures for its natural beauty and closely associated with the epic Ramayan, Chitrakoot or “the hill of many wonders” is a hallowed centre of pilgrimage. Prabhat first told me how you can reach there. The nearest airport Khajuraho is 185 kms and the nearest railway station Karvi is 8 kms. Also, Chitrakoot is well connected by road. There are regular bus services to Banda, Allahabad, Jhansi, Varanasi, Chhatarpur, Satna, Kanpur, Faizabad, Lucknow, Agra, Maihar, etc. Some Road distances are : Allahabad – 125 km. Satna – 75 km. Lucknow – 285 km, Mahoba – 127 km, Kalinjar 88 km and Jhansi 274 km.

Chitrakoot-Waterfall-1

Prabhat first told me about Hanuman Dhara, a place he loved immensely. Located on a steep hillside, it is approachable by a flight of 360 steps. Here, the waters of a natural spring cascade over an image of Lord Hanuman. This is a hill where there are 3 main spots – Trimukhi Hanuman mandir, Panchmukhi Hanuman mandir (Main) and Seeta Rasoi at the top. There is a continuous stream of water that falls on Hanuman idol and the source of water is not known.

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He bought grams of “Chana” and fed langurs there which are in abundance. He added, “Langurs are very calm and will hold your hand and eat every chana one by one. This is a real fun for the kids.” People return after seeing Panchmukhi Hanuman mandir and do not go to Sita Rasoi. Sita Rasoi is not in good condition and is just an old room where Sitaji cooked food during ram vanvas. There are two ways so take one way to go up and come back using other. This place is around 3 km away from Ramghat.

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Now tell me about Ram Ghat, I quipped. On the banks of the River Mandakini, and centre of ritual activity, this ghat is the most frequented in Chitrakoot. The “Aarti” performed in the evening is particularly beautiful. This is a main ghat in Chitrakoot. You can do boating here by hiring boat for around Rs. 100–150 for an hour. Many of them have pet rabbits on the boats and playing with them would be really fun for the kids. Tulsidas statue is there on the ghat. Bharat Milap temple is also there on this ghat and all this you can cover this in around two hours. Daily arati happens at 6PM in the evening and you should find some time to secure a place to attend the arati. This is a central place in Chitrakoot.

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Other attractions being:, Gupt Godavari Caves where there are around three caves. Water streams flow through these caves. You could see few crabs in the water but they do not and never harmed pilgrims. It becomes very humid in these caves since there are no proper arrangements of ventilation, so be prepared. In one cave water flows over stones and it is not be convenient to walk over such short stones, so be prepared as per your physical fitness/weight. This place is around 20 km from Ramghat.

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Kamadgiri is a forested hill of prime religious significance, this is believed to be the original Chitrakoot. The Bharat Milap Temple is located here. Pilgrims perform a ritual circumambulation of the hill to seek blessings. Sphatik Shila: This picturesque spot is marked by two immense rocks. It is believed to be the place where Lord Rama and Sita feasted their eyes on the beauty of Chitrakoot.

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Chitrakoot is also known for its Kamadgiri Parikrama which is around 5 kms round which can be completed in approx 2 hours. One should be beware of notorious monkeys on the parikrama, at times they can be really nasty.

So when you are in Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad or Jhansi, must pay visit to Chitrakoot to enjoy nature in its most unadulterated splendor.

– With inputs from UP Tourism.

Lingering aroma of LOBAN ( لوبان ) at Dewa Sharif

The incident happened many years ago when I was posted in Lucknow, UP. On one such cloudy day of July…just after reaching office I told my colleague that I am feeling somewhat depressed and don’t want to be in office. Without wasting a minute she told me, “I will take you to a place where your depression will not only choo mantar; you will rejuvenate with drive to the place. Without wasting anytime, she took out her car and both of us set out for an untold destination. The drive was breathtakingly beautiful…and what a break from bone-breaking office routine. My constant coaxing went unheard, Nadira kept on driving, while I was hoping this drive doesn’t end till infinity!
I think while we were about 100-meters away from our destination, I asked her “Are we going to some shrine/ mosque, precisely Dewa Sharif”. Now question from her, “How did you know”.

Lobanimages  I replied the aroma of Loban لوبان is in the air…

I am short of words to explain how aroma or fragrance of Loban or Frankincense soothed my senses, calmed my soul and transcended me to a spiritual world with ease. Today while writing about the scent/ aroma/ fragrance which has stayed with me till today is Loban or Benzoin which is used for making scents and when burnt it wards of negative energies. Loban is a fragrant, aromatic resin, or gum resin, burned as incense in religious rites. The best kinds now come from East Indian trees, of the genus Boswellia; a commoner sort, from the Norway spruce (Abies excelsa) and other coniferous trees. The frankincense of the ancient Jews is still unidentified.
For me it was most precious fragrance and may be rare too!

Dewa Sharif, Lucknow Gate, latest Dewa Sharif, Lucknow Latest Photos Dewa Shariff Dargah campus Dewa Sharif Road Scenes

Not to miss some details on the Tomb of Haji Waris Ali Shah in Dewa, Lucknow (India), a symbol of universal love and brotherhood. Prayers made at the holy shrine of Syed Haji Waris Ali Shah (Dewa Sharif) in Lucknow, have always been accepted and the believer is blessed with happiness and peace. Haji Waris Ali Shah or Sarkar Waris Pak – a Sufi saint from Dewa, district Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, India, he was the successor to the Qadriyya -Razzakiyya Silsila.

A number of Hindus held him in high esteem and always regarded him as a perfect Sufi. Thousands of Hindus, including Sadhus and Fakirs of different Panthas paid homage to him and expressed respect to his order.

Haji Waris Ali Shah left for his heavenly abode on 7th April, 1905. He was buried at the spot where he died and this location is marked by a monument. The tomb of Hazi Waris Ali Shah is now a place famous for communal amity. The monument is constructed on styles of architecture that blends the Hindu-Iranian art. The tomb, the shrines are somewhat indicative of the Hindu style of architecture while the towers and minarets present the Persian architecture.

Loban – Binding Hindus & Muslims with its unique fragrance!