Monday, 25 September 2017

Navaratri - interesting facts that you may not know - 01

Navaratri is a popular annual Hindu festival that is celebrated in September / October across Indi., Though the tradition slightly varies from region to region, there are certain customs that are common through out India. 

The following are the interesting facts that you may not be aware of:

01. Navaratri festival was introduced in Tamil region during the Nayak rulers of Thanjavur, Madurai, etc.

02. A popular religious festival during the Vijayanagara rule, in order to conduct on a grand scale the rulers introduced a simple tax system to collect money from people.

Navaratri greetings. Dekh News

03. Only the royals and big zamindars used to celebrate Navaratri. Thrumalai Nayak of Madurai gave the permission to Raja of Ramanathapuram Sethupathy to  celebrate Navaratri. Since then, it had become a regular annual event in many parts of Tamil region.

04. Surprisingly, during the reign of great Chola rulers, Navaratri was conducted by the administration.

05. Devi Purana has vividly described the festival of Navaratri in detail. During the nine days of the festival if women perform Kanniga Puja, it is strongly believed, they will not only be prosperous and be happy with their husband and family members, but also bring in prosperity to their family.

06. During the nights of Navaratri, 7 pm to 9.30 pm is the most suspicious time to perform puja.

07. During the Navaratri festival on the day of Sabthami, if Hayagriva Perumal is worshiped with intense devotion, devotees will be blessed with good results, particularly, when taking competitive exam, etc. It will help them face anything with confidence.
On the same day of Sabthami, if Lalitha Shaharanamam parayanam is done, it is good for the welfare of the family.

08. If women celebrate all the four Navaratries -  Lalitha Navaratri (in the Tamil  month of Punguni, after Ammavasi), Raja Mathanki Navaratri (In the Tamil month of Masi), Mahavarahi Navaratri (Aadi month) and  Sarada Nararatri (Puratasi month), they will be blessed profusely by the Amman (goddess).

09. In southern states of India Gollu (display of dolls) is part of the 9 day festival and it implies that Devi is omnipresent in all living as well as non-living things. People and in the temples Gollu is displayed only in the month of Puratasi.

10. The tradition has been that if Gollu is displayed in all 9 days at home and  goddess Devi is propitiated She comes home daily and blesses the family. 

11. Vaithruthi yogam prevails on days when stars Astham, Chithrai and Moolam are powerful. So, when puja is done on these days, it ids good for the devotees.

12. In the Tamil  month of Puratasi, the dominant force is the lord of death - Yama, according to Agni Purana. With a view to escaping from the evil effects of Yama and to negate the negative aspects, it is widely believed, that Navaratri dedicated to various manifestations of Goddess Parasakthi is celebrated by the Hindus.

13. On the Vijayadasami day, worshipping of Ayur Devi is a must. Puja must be performed before the tools, etc that have close link with our livelihood.

Navarstari festival Huffington Post

14. It is emphasised that during the Navaratri days, people should worship god. Like wise, puja must begin by  meditating on Swanya Maharishi and Suganya Devi first.

15. Displaying Kollam or Rangoli in front of the household and Gollu is a must and only rice flour must be used for this purpose. This will pave way for prosperity, unity  and peace of mind in the family.  

16. During Navaratri days after puja giving Mangala items such as turmeric, kunkumam, ribbon, bangles to the poor girls is good for the family.
Charity is an integral part of Navaratri.  Helping the poor by way of charity is a noble act during this nine day festival.

17.Offering new dress to young unmarried Kannika girls is a common practise in many households.

18. Lighting Aganda Deepam (keeping the oil lamp going continuously ) during Navaratri days will give good benefits to the family. Aganda Deepam is lit on the last three days or on the last day only.

19. Performing Navavara puja, Suvashini puja, Kanya puja will benefit the family. In the puja room or elsewhere, the oil lamp is kept in the middle of a triangle drawn with sandal paste on a wooden plank; the lamp is kept on a spot marked with kunkumam and sprinkled with flowers. On either side of the portrait of Amman, slamp should be kept. If one  is an earthen lamp, the other two will be in silver or brass. The normal practice

is the lamps are lit on all 9 days. In case it is not done, as mentioned before, let the lamp get going for three days only. 

20. After Navaratri, it is quite appropriate to donate the lamps that had been kept burning on 9 days  or 3 days. This Aganda Deepa Vazhipadu (worship) tradition has been in vogue for centuries in many Indian states.
21. Parayanam or chanting of Soundaryalahiri, Laltha Sahasranamam, Abhirami Arunthathi will bring in prosperity to the family and all the evil forces in the household will be driven away. 

Historical Tomb of Iltutmish who founded Delhi Sultanate

Iltutmish's Tomb close to Qutub Minar,

Shams ud-Din Iltutmish (r. 1211 – 1236)
It was Shams ud-Din Iltutmish (r. 1211 – 1236) of Mamluk dynasty, the third ruler of the Delhi Sultanate laid a strong foundation of the sultanate in the Indian subcontinent. Having captured Multan and Bengal from respective rulers, he further expanded his domain  by attacking  Hindu lands, conquering the fort of Ranathambhore, the lands of Gwalior and the fort of Mandur. He was instrumental in establishing the slave dynasty and expansion of Islam in an otherwise a Hindu land. He was a good administrator and ruled the country well.

 For the convenience of his subjects, he erected many buildings, including Mosques, Khanqas (Monasteries), Dargahs (Graves) and a Hauz (reservoir) for pilgrims. He died on 28  April1236 and was buried in Qutub Complex, Mehrauli, Delhi. He himself had the Mausoleum built, intended for his final rest in peace.

Iltutmish's Tomb Delhi Dost Pakistan
Tomb of Iltutmish, Qutb Minar complex,
The tomb of Shamsud-din Iltutmish, son-in-law and successor of Qutub-ud-Din Aiba  is historically an important monument of Delhi under the management of the ASI. Located  to  the northwest of the Quwwatu'l Islam mosque in Delhi, it was built in 1235 by Iltutmish himself, only five years after the construction of the tomb of Sultan Ghari'. The tomb had a cover, but later it caved in, later Feroze Shah Tughlaq replaced it and unfortunately, again, it fell and had not been replaced since then. The interior of the tomb is richly decorated, though the  overall look of the tomb is simple and plain. The are three  mihrabs (prayer niches), the one in the center is nicely decorated with marble and is at a higher level.
As in many tombs, here the  tomb-chamber has a cenotaph in its center - nearly 9 m-sq and faced with red sandstone. The tomb of Iltutmish in Delhi is plain on the outside, but is profusely carved on the entrances and in the interior. The impressive  entrance  has  intricate geometrical and  arabesque patterns with elements of Saracenic elements. Motifs - like wheels, the lotus, diamonds and so one can not escape the attention of the visitors. The are reminiscent of Hindu arts.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Navaratri - some aspects of ths colorful festival

Among the Hindu festivals, Navaratri is a well-known joyous festival celebrated across India. The word Navaratri meaning  'nine nights' has its origin n Sanskrit. In Northern, Central and Western states of India, the Ramlila play is enacted during Navaratri by rural artists Navaratri festival is an occasion of classical and folk dance performances at Hindu temples. 

Some Hindu religious  texts such as the Shakta and Vaishnava Puranas, mention that  Navaratri theoretically falls twice or four times a year. Among them, the Sharada Navaratri that comes in the lunar month of Aswin - post-monsoon, September–October)post-monsoon, September–October (near autumn equinox) is  quite popular and is widely celebrated across India. The Vasanta Navaratri falls in March-April (near spring equinox); the lunar month of Chaitra) and is closely associated with the culture of north Indian states and it a harvest or post-harvest festival. The fifth day of this festival is often  observed as Vasant Panchami or Basant Panchami, the official start of spring in the Hindu tradition; goddess Saraswati is revered through arts, music,etc. Magha Navaratri: In Magha (January–February), winter season.  Ashada Navaratri: In Ashadha (June–July), start of the monsoon season.

Navaratri decorations,Kudroli temple, Karnataka,

In western and northern states Navaratri is  associated with Ramlila events - display of various episodes of the Ramayana. The final day Dussehra or Vijayadasami marks the burning of huge effigies of Demon Ravana depicting the death of the demon - evil force by Lord Rama. In NE India and West Bengal, it is held as  Durga Puja. Goddess Durga eliminates the evil minded Asura Mahisha by  killing him, restoring Dharma on earth. In Southern states display of dolls  of gods, goddesses, animals, birds, well-known miniature buildings, temples, etc., called Gollu in Tamil Nadu (Gombe or Bombe in Karnataka state and  Bommala Koluvu in Andhra), is quite prevalent and each day different avatar of goddess Parasakthi is worshipped at homes and temples. It is associated with folk and classical  dances, singing, etc., including display of attractive Gollu at major Hindu temples. At Hindu temples dances such as Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam performances by various troupes are held during the Navaratri. The same is true of Kerala temples where Koothambalams become venues of native classical dances, etc.

Idol of chamundriswari on golden howdah, mysore Oneindia Galler 

Oneindia Gallery

 Above image: Maharajah of Mysore Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar attends Mysore Dasara Navarathri Festival.  .....................

Mysore Dusseshra, headed by the royal members 
of Mysore, is quite popular in Mysore city. The 
credit goes to then Maharajah Wodeyar I who initiated Dessehra celebrations in 1610.  This Nanaratri tradition, inherited from the rulers of the Vijayanagar empire by the Wadiyars who started it  at Srirangapatna, continues even today.

On the 9th day, Royal Sword is worshipped and taken in  a procession of decorated elephants and horses. On the Vijayadasami day, the idol of Devi Chamundeswari is taken in a procession on a golden howdah (weight 750 kg) on the back of a decorated elephant. Ayudha Puja, dedicated to Saraswati is on the 9th day of Dussehra.  Dussehra is celebrated as Naada Habba, with the government funding the celebrations in the present times.

Durga Puja, Kerala.

Kollur Mookambika temple Vidyarambham

Vijaya Dashami day is considered auspicious for initiating the children into writing and reading Alphabet, which is called Vidyaraṃbhaṃ.This  done on a plate filled with rice or sand. This is quite common in the state of Kerala and also in parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Kerala Christians also follow this tradition of Vidyāraṃbhaṃ for their children and he venue is the church.  Navaratri, was one of the most famous annual festivals celebrated in the Travancore Maharajah's palace at Padmanabhapuram. From 1015 (Malayalam era) onwards the festival has been observed with piety and devotion. 

Navratri idols Sree Padmanabha Swamy ,Thiruvanthapuram TempleIndia Today -

Ghatasthapana (Mounting of jar) is observed on the first day of Navaratri in Maharastra. In rural households people on the stool keep a brass or copper jar above a mound of rice along with turmeric, mango, coconut leaves, staple grains, etc. An oil lamp is kept burning throughout Navaratri period, symbolic of household welfare and prosperity. On the fifth day goddess Lalitha is worshiped. Like other states, Ayudha Puja is celebrated with devotion. Vehicles, machines, instruments etc., become objects of worship.

 In the southern states Ashtami, Navami, and Vijaya Dashami of Sharada Navarathri are celebrated as Saraswati Puja in which books are kept in the Puja room for worship and prayer. In Andhra, the tradition of Navaratri goes back to the period of Vijayanagara - 14th century. Durga, Lakshmi and  Sarawati  are worshiped in that order during Navaratri. 

The common theme of Navaratri is 'there is no room for evil forces on this earth and God will appear then and there and eliminate them for the welfare of people'.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Origin of Navaratri celebrations

Devi Durga killing demon.

No other religion has  has so many festivals  and ritualistic celebrations, as Hinduism has and it is very difficult to remember every one of them, but each one has some kind moral to impart and acts as a guide for the people to lead a dharmic lfe. As for the  Hindu festivals, many are celebrated across India in conjunction with the local culture.

Navaratri, a popular nine (Nava means nine, Ratri means night) night festival that honors the  Goddess in all her manifestations (avatar), including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati is celebrated in many parts of India with devotion. The festival culminates with Dussehra, the victory of good over evil, on the tenth day. Normally, this festival falls in the month of late September / early October each year. In 2017, Navaratri starts on September 21 and ends on September 29. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. In each region, it is celebrated differently marked by traditional dances, music and cultural programs,

Have you ever thought about how Navaratri celebrations came into being and the story behind it? Though  there  are different versions about the origin of Navaratri, the mythological stories and folklore have one common piece of message - the victory of the good over the evil

 Almost every Hindu festival has a  legend behind it and makes the festival more interesting to know about it. Once upon a time there lived two powerful demons by the name of Kamban and Nekamban. Armed with mystic powers and boons of immortality granted by  gods after their prolonged and difficult  penance, the Asuras became so powerful and conceited that they had scant respect for the people around them. They were full of pride, arrogance and presumption and  they began troubling the Sadhus, Saints and the learned ones. Unmindful of consequences,they troubled the sages and rishis when they were busy conducting homams and other religious rituals for the welfare of the universe. They terrorized the people so much, they suffered untold misery and pain. At one point of time, they came to the end of exasperation, so Devas and Rishis prayed to gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to put an end to the cruelty caused by two atrocious demons, Kamban and Nekamban.

As for the boon of immortality obtained by the demons, the gods granted that their death would never be caused by males. Taking advantage of the flaw in the boons, Devas and others, at last, prayed intensely to Goddess Adi Parasakthi and she, responding to their prayer, came to earth as a beautiful woman armed with extraordinary powers bestowed on her by the lords of the universe - Trinity gods - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The lords became statues after giving their powers to Adiparaskthi.

Navaratri Gollu, Tamil Nadu. Padhuskitchen

 So were Indira and Dikbalas after transferring their powers to the goddess. As the gods and others became statues, the tradition of displaying dolls in Gollu became a regular feature as part of Navaratri celebration, particularly, in southern India.

Parasakthi with ten Pujams (arms) carrying dreaded weapons fiercely fought the merciless Asuras and finally annihilated Kamban and and Nekamban and his associates Madhu, Kidapan and Rakthabejan across the face of the earth, thus establishing the good by removing the evil. Navaratri is a nine day festival marking nine days of continuous battle between Devi and demons. 

A question might arise why the festival is called Navaratri as the war took place only during the day. In those days, tradition had been that there won't be any war after sunset and the troops would retire to their respective camps for rest and sleep. When Devi was fighting the Asuras, during the night, the people were engaged in dance, singing, etc to invigorate the troops and to propitiate Devi. Hence nine nights of prayer, singing etc., later became what is known as Navaratri. The 10th day being Vijayadasami day or Dussehra, the day Ambika established Dharma by felling the evil forces in the form of demons is celebrated with devotion. Mysuru Dussehra, an annual event in  Mysore in which the Mysore royal members actively participate, is a famous one. On Vijayadasami day, countless couples take their children to temples or schools for Vidhyarambam - initiation in reading and writing alphabet.

Durga Devi fighting  demon MashishanYouTube

The second version of legend is a simple one and it is  about goddess Durga. It is widely followed in Eastern and Northeastern states of India. It is believed that goddess Durga had a war with the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura  and killed him to restore peace and Dharma. Her victory is commemorated every year through the Durga Pooja. The story is written in the epic 'Devi Mahatmyam'. In West Bengal, Navaratri and Dussehra are celebrated as Durga Puja.

 Above image: Ramlila - lighting the effigies of demon Ravana by shooting arrows with light. It marks the victory of good over the evil. Rama is embodiment of good and Ravana represents evil.

In the Northern (UP, etc) and Western parts of the country (Gujarat and Maharashtra), Navaratri is celebrated to mark the victory of lord Rama over the cruel demon king  Ravana of Lanka who  abducted Rama's wife, Sita. The nine days of the Navaratri see the recital or enactment of the epic 'Ramayana' and the tenth day is the final fight between lord Rama and Ravana. Rama kills the ten-headed Ravana, a personification of evil  by shooting an arrow in his navel, the source of his power and Ravana dies. The same is also presented in Ramlila which concludes on the tenth day, that is Dussehra. The celebration concludes by the burning of the effigies of Ravana and his brothers Meghnad and Kumbhkaran. 

In Gujarat, Navaratri is held with nine nights of dancing marked by traditional dances known as garba and dandiya raas. They  are performed in circles with dancers dressed up in colorful clothes. Small, decorated sticks called dandiyas are used in the dandiya raas.

This year Navaratri begins on 21 September, and during the next nine days, if family members get up in the early morning  and after bath, engage in joint prayer before the portraits of goddess Lakshmi, Sarasvathi and Durga, it is well and good for the welfare of the family as well as for the society. The elders of the family also perform chanting of the scriptures during these nine days, to seek peace of mind and salvation.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Nedumpuram Palace, Tiruvalla,- a traditional old Kerala structure

Nedumpuram Palace, Tiruvalla, 

Nedumpuram Palace, Tiruvalla, in Pathanamthitta District is a famous palace in Kerala that belonged to the branch of the Kulasekhara dynasty that ruled the principality of Udayamangalam in Northern Kerala.
The family belonged  originally to the Valluvanad royal line of ascension. When Tipu Sultan of Mysore raided the Malabar region, considering the grave situation and safety, the royal family took refuge under the patronage of the King of Travancore. Then there was a division of the family into two branches establishing principalities within Travancore in Mariapalli and Tiruvalla.  The present palace is at the earlier location of a palace that belonged to the Raja of Tiruvalla.

Tiruvalla, Kerala.

 Built in traditional Kerala style architecture  of "pathinaru kettu" structure ( meaning 16 blocks) that divides the building into four self-contained  blocks of rooms with indoor open courtyards connected to each other. It is most made of choice teak wood and in several places teak beams support the structure. At present the building is in disrepair. Characteristic of kovilakam style, single block of this architecture is referred to as Nalukettu. It is simply a single dwelling place for many families made of carved and slotted wood, exception being foundation and flooring. The sunken courtyard, open to sky, is used for observing ritualistic ablutions and to grow plants. From here rooms can be accessed. There is temple inside dedicated to family deity and this divides the structure into further two blocks. The outer verandas are used for major religious functions only and the large teak wood doors remain closed most of the time. The other verandas are fully enclosed or semi-closed.

Nedumpuram Palace is surrounded by other old buildings -  Puttan Kottaram houses a temple,
Tekke Kottaram (southern Palace, now demolished), once the residence of  one branch of the family while Vadakke Kottaram (northern Palace),a separate building housed non-members connected by marriage.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Hetampur Rajbari palace with 999 doors - lost glory

Hetampur Rajbari

Hetampur Rajbari is a small town in Birbhum Dist, West Bengal and is famous for a huge historical palace, an exotic one with architectural significance. It is a place of attraction and lots of tourists flock there to visit the palace and other monuments. The name of this unique palace is Hetampur Rajbari (Rajbari means royal residence) Or  Hitampur Hajar Durai. What is so special about this palace that is built in a small town and how is it different from other palaces built by the Maharajahs and Nawabs? Can you imagine this massive palace has 999 doors one short of 1000 (hajar is one thousand in Bengali, duari means door). 
Cathedral-like gateway Hetampur Rajbari, Flickr
Rajbari palace,Hitampur, WB,Travels with Gautam Sen - blogger

 Constructed by Maharajah  Ram Ranjan Chakravarty in 1905, the palace has a commanding red brick gateway which is supported by massive Corinthian pillars and interspersed by arched windows and entrances - positively a sign of affluence and power. The gateway itself is considered to be a commanding structure and appears like a grand Gothic cathedral.  The rich gateway is a clear reminder of the power and financial clout, the former rulers had  and his influence on the people there. Slender protruding eaves supported on equally-spaced brackets and topped by several feminine figurines with their arms outstretched make the gateway more impressive. Yet another  feature is the central part supported by tall pillars is higher than other parts. Earlier Rajbari was known as Ranjan Palace  named after the person who commissioned this project. After his death, the Maharajah, left behind his legacy in this fertile, isolated region.

The  disgusting part is Rajbari, after India's independence, following abolition of the zamindari system and yearly doles to the ex-rulers, had become a dilapidated structure because of severe financial burden  experienced by the descendants of the builder.
The House of Hetampur Raj had obscure origins  and rose  to the status of the most powerful Kingdom. But later relegated  to the status of Zamindar of Birbhum district by Lord Northbrook in 1875. Ramranjan Chakravarty, grandson of Bipracharan, was raised to the position of Raja Bahadur by Lord Lytton. In 1912, he was elevated to the rank of Maharajah, a great honour and distinction for a Zamindar then.

Interior, Hitampur Rajbari, WB. Pixelated Memories

 The palace once had fine pieces of wooden furniture, but now, they are broken and scattered all around the grand palace that once had un-matching sophistication and beauty in this region. Many Burma teak wood doors are either missing or stolen. The interior of the palace is in poor state. Adjacent to this worn-out palace is a large building that houses a school and an Engineering college.

Rajbari palace,Hitampur,

 The majesty of the grand gateway is just overwhelming, paradoxically, but it is a gateway to the lost glory, constantly reminding us of the transient nature of the universe where permanence is a bubble. No doubt, it is an intangible cultural and architectural heritage that needs to be preserved for the posterity.

Some interesting facts of Cauvery Pushkaram


Pushkaram, an Indian (Hindu) festival dedicated to worshipping of rivers, is part of the medieval Hindu astrological lore that links the planets and the holy rivers. Also known as Pushkara or Pushkar and Pushkaralu (in Telugu), it is celebrated with devotion and joy at temples or shrines along the banks of 12 major sacred rivers of India by rotation.  Each of these rivers is associated with a particular zodiac sign. The last Maha Pushkaram celebration was held in the Godavari river at Bhardrachalam in Telangana. Today is the turn of the Cauvery in Tamil Nadu. It is believed to be a 1000-year-old tradition and draws in devotees from various parts of the state. The age-old tradition continues unabated even to day as bakthi is deep rooted in Indian culture.

Cauvery Pushkaram,Srirangam, Aarthi. YouTube

The following are the interesting fats that may be worthy to note:

01. The Mahapushkaram is a rare event and occurs once every 144 years.

Sunrise in Thulaghat, Mailaduthurai, TN

02. Mahapuhkaram of Cauvery is observed for a period of 12 days from the time of entry of Jupiter into Tula rasi (Libra). The next pushkaram in the Cauvery  will be after 12 years from now.

Tula Ghat, Mayiladuthurai, TN

03. The venue of Pushkaram in the river where the festival is to be celebrated depends on the position of Jupiter. The Maha Pushkaram period is when the celestial transit of planet Jupiter from Virgo to the constellation of Libra (Thula) takes place.

04. According to the Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma at last accepted the prayers of Guru and ordered Pushkar - the king of all three and half crores of Theerthams on earth to be present in the 12 holy rivers associated with 12 rasis (constellations - Zodiac signs) to which Guru moves every year. Hence, Pushkaram is celebrated every year . This time Pushkar is present in the river Cauvery, where Pushkar is present.

05. So, the main venue for this Maha Pushkaram is Thula Ghat on the banks of the Cauvery in the town of  Mayiladuthurai (formerly Mayuram in Sanskrit), Nagapatnam District, Tamil Nadu.

06. The town is famous for the Mayuranathaswami Temple, a Shaivite shrine and Vshnu shrine Parimala Ranganathar Temple, one of the 108 Divya Desam.

07. Maha Pushkaram is being celebrated with unpreceded bakthi and commitments in Mayiladuthurai from September 12 to September 24, 2017. This being a rare religious event taking place once in 144 years  as dictated by the  configuration and alignment of stars, Pushkaram assumes much significance among the Hindu devotees.
08. Taking a holy dip in the Thula Ghat, it is believed, is good for the welfare of the family, besides the past sins are erased for ever. The aim of Pushkaram is to ask for copious rains and good crops as the region survives on agriculture.

09. The devotees throng the Thula ghat to have a holy dip. Veda Parayanam, Homam, Maha Yagnam, cultural activities such as music, traditional dances, spiritual discourses, etc., mark the entire festival,

10. The people are encouraged to participate in Homams, Yagams, Satsang and charity - Annadhanam, etc., during the Pushkaram  period.

Oil lamps in the river Cauvery,,

11For this auspicious event, the Thula Kattam (ghat) was renovated at a cost of ₹3 crore. A big tank with concrete flooring and and sand bed  was set up to help the devotees to sprinkle water. 

12. Yet another major repair work undertaken was  the historical 12 sacred wells   that were built during medieval chola period  in the Thula Kattam were revived. Daily puja is to be performed to the idol of Cauvery specially installed  as part of this festival.

13. The Acharyars from the Sankara Mutt and the Aadheems from local Mutts pontiffs poured the sanctified waters at the yagasala on to River Cauvery.

14. The auspicious event coincides with the 1,000th birth anniversary of the Vaishnava  Acharya Sri Ramanuja. 

15. Abishekam was performed to the processional deities (Utchavars) of Sri Mayuranatha Swamy, Sri Ayyarappar, Sri Kasi Viswanathar, Sri Vatharanyeswarar that had arrived at the banks of the Thula Kattam. Soon,  the Mutt heads took a holy dip to mark the commencement of the Cauvery Maha Pushkaram. The devotees followed the Archaryas in participating in the event.

16. In addition to Mayiladuthurai, the festival is held in major towns along the course of the Cauvery river such as  Srirangam, Thiruvaiyaru, Kumbakonam, Talaicauvery, Bhavani that are  major temple towns. The other places are Kooduthurai, Mettur, Kodumudi, Thirueengoimalai, Nerur,Kulithalai,Thirupparaithurai, Grand Anicut, Thirukkattupalli,  and Poompuhar.

17. The unique aspect of Cauvey Pushkaram is, the planets have come back to the same position after a span of 177 years.

18. The same event took place on 8 September 1840- Venus and Mercury in Kannni Rasi (Virgo), Jupiter in Thula (Libra), Saturn in Vrichikam (Scorpio)  and so on according  to Sri Vajpayee Sengalipuram Sudara Rama Dikshithar - vide The Hindu Supplement 19 Sept. 2017

19. On the last day - 24th September Cauvery Aarthi will b performed, marking the end of the 12 day festival.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Chail, near Shimla - a popular summer retreat

India is home to innumerable hill stations/summer resorts across India and they serve the high rollers, rich and famous and others who want to escape from the terrible summer heat on the plains. Many hill stations in India were developed by the Colonial rulers as the Indian summer season was unbearable to them and they sought the lap of high mountains. They preferred cooler and nicer places akin to their native country and took refuge on the hill stations. Shimla, now the capital city in the state of Himachal Pradesh, had been British Raj's summer capital till they left India. The higher-ups in the British Era spent their summer holidays on the cool hills in their respective Residencies. Thus famous summer resorts like Ooty, Kodikanal (Tamil Nadu), Darjeeling (West Bengal), Dalhousie, Nainital (HM), etc., were all first accessed by the European rulers.The hill station Chail is a famous summer retreat in the north.

Chail Hill station. Travel Triangle
Situated at 45 kilometres from Shimla, Chail  is a well-known hill station set in a lush green hilly area. It was once the former capital of  the Patiala State. It has the unique distinction of being the  world’s highest and  well-maintained  cricket ground at a height of 8018 feet above msl surrounded by a thick forest of Deodar trees. It was built in 1893 by Maharajah Bhupender  Singh of Patiala, an avid Cricket player. It is now being used by the military school to play  cricket. 

Chail, highest criket ground in the world

Besides, there is also a Polo ground near-by. Both were owned the erstwhile Royal family of Patiala. There is also a wildlife sanctuary  three kilometer from here. 

The Chail palace is known for its exquisite architecture and was built by the  Maharajah of Patiala  who used it as his summer retreat during the British Raj. The land was gifted to him by the British for his assistance during the Angelo-Nepalese war. 

Chail Palace.

 In 1891, Maharajah Bhupinder Singh of Patiala  earned the ire of Lord Kitchener who refused to allow him to enter  the Indian summer capital, Shimla. Infuriated as he was, the Maharajah  vowed to build a new summer retreat for himself. So he rebuilt the place (Chail) for his personal use.

Chail Palace.HPTDC

 After accession to the Indian Union in the late 1940s, after independence, Maharajah of Patiala  donated many buildings to Chail Military School (run by the Central government) and to the Indian government. The historical palace has been converted into a popular heritage Palace Hotel. Chail is a nice place for those who want to relax and explore wooded areas in a leisurely manner. In the summer, one may enjoy pleasant weather  and in the winter  the snow fall.,_Himachal_Pradesh