Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, New Delhi

akshardham‘Akshardham’ means the divine abode of God. It is hailed as an eternal place of devotion, purity and peace. Swaminarayan Akshardham at New Delhi is a Mandir – an abode of God, a Hindu house of worship, and a spiritual and cultural campus dedicated to devotion, learning and harmony. Timeless Hindu spiritual messages, vibrant devotional traditions and ancient architecture all are echoed in its art and architecture.The mandir is a humble tribute to Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781- 1830), the avatars, devas and great sages of Hinduism. The traditionally-styled complex was inaugurated on 6 November 2005 with the blessings of HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj and through the devoted efforts of skilled artisans and volunteers.

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Shanti Kunj – A Peaceful place in Chandigarh

shanti_kunj_gardenShanti Kunj in Chandigarh is very beautiful place. Basically it is a park which is located near to the famous Rose garden. This garden has been situated in a place that is peaceful and which is free from any pollution and noise. So its name suits its surroundings and therefore the name Shanti Kunj is given to it. It is located in Sector 16, between rose garden and Cricket Stadium.

Garden is well maintained for tracking. People love to come this garden for a morning walk and evening walk that’s why this place always has a bit of rush in mornings and evenings. Shanti Kunj is true to its name because it is a garden of peace and tranquillity which provides a break from all the noise and pollution. This garden shanti_kunjhas numerous plants that are medicinal and are utilized for curing numerous diseases. Other than beautiful flowers, it also has a decorated Rain Drain and a neat walking path. There is stream naturally which runs amongst the garden. This is responsible for division into 5 segments of whole area. Night Life, dining, picnics and other important get-togethers are importance of this place. All these things may be held in this beautiful park. If one wants to meditate and enjoy the quiet among beautiful flowers, Shanti Kunj is the place to be. It is the best way to have a memorable time with kids and family.

I would like to suggest that it is better to carry some eatables with you because there are no major stalls available inside. But there are some good shops available in Sector-16 around 200 mtrs away from the entrance of this garden.

How to reach
If you want to come by Train then Chandigarh is an important railway station and is well connected to major cities in India through daily trains. Train from New Delhi to Chandigarh The Shatabdi Express runs two or three times daily from New Delhi to Chandigarh. Once you have reached Chandigarh, getting a cab or Taxi from the airport, bus stand or railway station is not a difficult task as there are a lot of them who can take you there.

Ram Bagh, inside Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

panormaRam Bagh is located in Amritsar city, in the state of Punjab. It is a garden within the summer palace of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Today the palace has been modified into a lovely museum. This garden attracts a lot of tourists every year. It is popular as one of the best gardens in Punjab. It is not only a garden but a slice of the rich historical significance of city Amritsar. Maharajah Ranjit Singh is no more but his summer palace is still there to remind us of the glory days.

The Garden is large and vast. It is built in the model of Shalimar gardens in Lahore. The garden is intersected by water channels fitted with fountains and golden fish. There are lots of plants and trees, some of them very rarely found anywhere else. You will have fresh air, good place to sit down and relax. The best time to come would be in morning or at the evening hours. There is a plenty of place for children to play and enjoy. It is a wonderful place to walk and relax in morning or evening in fact.

Statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh inside Ram Bagh...
Statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh inside Ram Bagh…

The garden also has a panorama of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which is the joint venture of The National Council of Science and Museums and the State Government of Punjab. This panorama depicts the important events in the life of the Great Maharaja Ranjit Singh through three-dimensional montages. It has been converted into the shape of Museum. It was established by the Government of India on the 400 foundation day of Amritsar City in 1977. This Museum has some rare priceless collections of paintings, weapons and Armours, manuscripts and coins of the 18th and 19th century. Touring the entire museum takes less than a 30-minute visit. You can enter from four to five different places. But until you enter form the main gate you won’t be able to reach the museum easily. There are small monuments inside the parks too. At the end of the garden, there is a statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh saddled on a horse in a winsome posture.

History
Ram Bagh Garden memorizes the summer and spiritual capital of first Sikh Ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Maharaja took Lahore in 1799 and made it his capital in 1802 he came to Amritsar. In 1818 he got constructed Ram Bagh Garden after the name of Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru. This garden was on the pattern of Shalimar Bagh of Lahore, under the command of Fakeer Azeez-ud-din and Sardars Lehna Singh and Desa Singh Majithia the nobles of Lahore darbar. The original cost of construction of this garden was 1,25000 NanakShahi Rupees. Earlier, it was called the Company Garden. Later, Maharaja Ranjit Singh changed the name to Ram Bagh, to commemorate his unflinching devotion to Guru Ram Das, the founder of the city of Amritsar. It was his way to pay tribute to the respected religious leader.

Gurudwara Goindwal Sahib

goindwal_sahibGurudwara Goindwal Sahib is very famous Sikh holy place. It is located in Taran Taran district which is in the state of Punjab in India. It is an important center for the sikh religion during the Guruship of the Guru Amar Das Ji, who was the third Sikh guru. This Gurudwara is famous for its 84 steps and then there is a baoli (water body) at the end.
The temple is a beautiful structure and also has quarters for guests to book and stay in. It has very clean facilities and very friendly staff. As I already told you inside the complex there is a well with 84 steps leading to the water. Devotees chant the Japji Sahib at every step and take a dip before moving to the next step because, it is believed that anyone who does Japji Sahab path on every step and then has a bath in the baoli (water body) will attain salvation.

History

84 Steps towars Boili Sahib
84 Steps towars Boili Sahib

This place has so much Sikh history that it is a must for every Sikh traveller to visit this place ,this is the place where the tradition of community kitchen was started by Guru Amar Dass ji, where every devotee comes and have free meal. Guru Sri Amar Das ji constructed a Baoli or a well with eighty four steps. It is said someone who takes a bath in the well and recites the Japji Sahib, attains Moksh. Means it is firmly believed by Sikhs that if you recite Japji sahib at every step you will be freed from the cycle of birth.

How to Reach
Gurudwara Goindwal Sahib is located in the village of Goindwal, Tarn Taran. It is located about 25 kms from the centre of the town, 24 kms from Tarn Taran Railway Station and 25 kms from Tarn Taran Bus Stand. Travelers can reach this Gurudwara with the help of local transport like buses and auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws available in the city.

Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib

Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib... Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib…

Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib is a sikh gurudwara which is situated in the Distt Town Fatehgarh Sahib. It is located about 5 km north of Sirhind which is a city in district Fatehgarh sahib. Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib is a complex consisting of several important gurudwaras linked to the younger sahibzadas (younger sons) of Guru Gobind Singh ji who was the tenth Guru of Sikhs. It is one of the peaceful place, one can easily feel the peace when they will enter the gurudwara. It is a place where the sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji were produced in the court of Nawab Wazir Khan and then bricked alive. The place where they were martyred is now known as Bhora Sahib which is in the basement of the Complex. Every year in the month of December probably on last week,  a fair organised at this gurudwara to pay homage to the martyrdom of Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh.

History

Place where Sahibzada Fateh Singh and Zorawar Singh were bricked alive...
Place where Sahibzada Fateh Singh and Zorawar Singh were bricked alive…

Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib was constructed to commemorate the death of the sons of tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The gurudwara was named after the Sikhs started their conquest in 1710 that was led by Banda Bahadur. Maharaja Yadvindra Singh of Patiala constructed the entrance of the gurudwara in 1952. There is a wall in which the sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji were burried alive which is known as Gurudwara Bhora Sahib. The sons and mother of the Guru were imprisoned by Wazir Khan, the Faujdar of Sirhind, in Gurudwara Burj Mata Gujri.

Gurudwara Shahid Ganj and Gurudwara Burj Mata Gujri are situated within the Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib complex.

Gurudwara Mata Gujri Ji
This is the place where the two younger sons Fateh Singh and Zorawar Singh of tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the Guru’s mother Mata Gujri Ji were kept in confinement by Wazir Khan. It is the tower shaped cell where Mata Gujri Ji and Sahibzadas were detained after brought from Morinda.

Gurudwara Shahid Ganj Sahib Ji
This place is situated within the premises of Shri Darbar sahib. It is the cremation place of 6000 Sikh warriors martyred during the conquest of sirhind and who were cremated by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur on 1st Jeth of samvat 1767.

How to Reach
Sirhind is located in Fatehgarh Sahib that is a city of Punjab. Nearest airport is Chandigarh Airport which is almost 40 kms away. You can easily reach to Sirhind because regular trains are available that connects to other major cities. Once you reach at Sirhind then you can get a bus that runs on regular bais to gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib.

India Gate – Pride of India…

India_gateIndia Gate, situated on the Raj Path in New Delhi, India. It is one of the most beautiful architectural spectacle in the heart of delhi built in the memory of martyrs who fought during world war. It is a tribute to 90,000 Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army who lost their lives in World War I and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. I got a chance to visit this place when I was in Delhi to meet my relatives. I planned with my cousin to visit this place. It was sunday and believe me this place was very crowded because people go there with their family and friends to spend their free time. Children were running around and playing in the open lawns surrounding the India Gate. At the time of sunset it looks beautiful. It also has a garden.

Night view of India Gate...
Night view of India Gate…

We preferred to visit this place in evening to avoid sun. Many people comes here in the morning for walk and jog. When I visited this place I felt proud while saluting the 3 flags of Navy, Army and Air force. View at India Gate is very much patriotic and really proud to be an Indian. There is a flame also that burns day and night in remembrance of the lost lives. The India Gate reaches up to a height of 42 mtrs and stands tall in the heart of the city with an arched structure. The monument is built with light brown Bharatpur stones. A beautiful green garden add beauty to India Gate. There is also a small pond nearby where one can enjoy boating as well. At nightfall India Gate is beautifully lit up, including the surrounding fountains and makes for a beautiful sight.

History
The foundation stone of India Gate was laid down by the Duke of Connaught in the year 1921 and was designed by the famous British architect, Edward Lutyens in memory of the 90,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who lost their lives in World War I and the Third Afghan War of the late 19th century. It was Lord Irwin who dedicated India Gate to the nation in 1931. In the 1970s the government of India added a memorial to India’s unknown soldier, the Amar Jawan Jyoti, beneath the arch. It has huge sentimental value to Indians.

How to Reach
Local buses and taxis are available from all major points within the city to reach India Gate. The nearest metro station to India Gate is Central Secretariat Metro Station on the yellow and violet line, from there one can take an auto or walk down the Rajpath. As parking is not allowed near to the India Gate because of some security reasons, so better take a rickshaw or walk to reach close to this place.

Amarnath Cave , Dedicated to Lord Shiva

amarnathAmarnath cave is one of the most famous of Hindu temples located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. This temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Shri Amarnathji Cave Shrine stands at 3,888 m and is 45 km from Pahalgam and 141 km from Srinagar. Amarnath is a world famous Ice cave where Shivalingam is appears on particular period. Approximately at a height of 12,760 feet, the Amarnath Cave is visited by many devotees each year to see Lord Shiva’s lingam, which is naturally formed with ice. It is one of the ancient rituals in india and very holy place for indian people. Millions of devotees trek through the daunting mountains to Shri Amarnathji Shrine in South Kashmir every year in the summer months to pay obeisance.

The cave is surrounded by snowy mountains. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims in the month of July / August.
Inside the Amarnath cave, the stalagmite is formed due to freezing of water drops that fall from the roof of the cave on to the floor and grows up vertically from the cave floor. It is considered to be a Shiva Linga by Hindus. You are not allowed to touch the lingam or not throw anything in the cave. Two other ice formations represent Parvati and Shiva’s son, Ganesha.

Pilgrims are moving towards Amarnath Cave...
Pilgrims are moving towards Amarnath Cave…

The Amarnath Yatra, according to Hindu belief, begins on Ashadha Purnima (day of the Full Moon in the Hindu Month of Ashadha) and ends on Shravana Purnima (day of the full moon in the Hindu month of Shravana). Devotees mostly travels on foot to reach this shrine but there are Helicopter services available from baltal, near Sonamarg. This journey is not advisable neither for those who are physically unfit nor for kids because devotees face many problems due to unpredictable weather conditions, which may even cause shortage of oxygen. Some may get the feeling of nausea which is the sensation that there is a need to vomit. But once you complete the yatra, you feel really relaxed. There are many NGOs working. They provide proper shelter, food and also night stay to make your journey smooth.

Story related to Amarnath Cave
The Amarnath cave has been a place of worship since times immemorial. The Amarnath Cave has a special significance in the Hindu religion. As per legend, Lord Shiva had chosen this cave to describe the secrets of immortality and formation of the universe to Maa Parvati. Once Maa Parvati asked Lord Shiva why are you immortal and I keep on dying again and again? Lord Shiva said that this is due to the Amar Katha. Maa Parvati insisted to hear that Amar Katha and after convincing Lord for a long time, Lord Shiva decided to narrate that story to Maa Parvati.

To narrate the story, Lord Shiva started looking for an absolutely lonely place so that no living being can hear that Amar Katha except for Maa Parvati. He finally found the Amarnath Cave.Lord Shiva entered in this holy Amarnath Cave with Maa Parvati. Lord Shiva sat on the Deer Skin and took a samadhi. To further make sure that not even a single living being could hear the secret Amar Katha, He created a rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to set fire around the cave so that everything living around that place could be destroyed. He then started narrating the story of immortality to Maa Parvati. But in spite of all these efforts, one egg remained protected under the deer skin on which the Lord was sitting. But it was considered as non-living. A pair of pigeons was born out of that egg and supposedly became immortal. Pilgrims can still see the pigeon pair while going towards the Amarnath Cave.

How to reach
You can reach here from pahalgam town or baltal town. Original yatra considered is from pahalgam. Pahalgam is located 96 kms from Srinagar and 46 kms from Amarnath. Its common practice to start the trek from Pahalgam where all the base camp is been held. Baltal yatra is shortest in route. There are many mode of transport for yatra. You can walk by foot, porters, horses or paliquis. There is also a quick service from helicopter. There are proper facilities for yatris on the way.

Vaishno Devi Mandir, Jammu

Vaishno Devi Temple, JammuVaishno Devi is located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is one of the holiest pilgrimage places in the country. Being the holiest pilgrimage for hindus Vaishno devi is a place where you seriously feel that god exists.  Vaishno Devi, also known as Mata Rani, Trikuta and Vaishnavi, is a manifestation of the Hindu Mother Goddess Mahalakshmi. The shrine is located inside a cave.  This cave is present inside a three-peaked mountain called Trikuta or Trikoot. It’s a place to where people climb not with the help of their body stamina but with their trust and enthusiasm to have darshan of the great Mata Vaishno Devi. Vaishno Devi temple is open for pilgrims throughout the year that’s why Millions of devotees go there. But maximum visitors plan their trip during the Navratras.

The temple is open all round the year and 24×7. It consists of the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi. Mata Vaishno Devi, also popularly known as Mata Vaishnavi and Mata Rani in Hinduism, is believed to have spent some time in this cave at an altitude of 5,200 ft while observing various spiritual disciplines.  To reach the temple one has to either go by foot, hiking 14 kms. or take a horse/pony ride up hill or palanquin rides where four people carry one person on a chair hoisted by poles. There is also helicopter service available from Sanjichat to the temple area. An advice from me is that you can avoid reaching Bhavan between 7-9 pm because the line stops moving for those two hours to perform evening prayers. After 9 pm you start to move and take another hour to reach.

There are many coffee and tea shops and also toilets are available at regular intervals for smooth journey. You don’t need to stuff your bags with eatables because there are plenty shops which provide you with every basic necessity. But you have to beware of monkeys, they are everywhere, they won’t harm you but would take away any eatable you are eating in open.

Keep these things in Mind
Pilgrims Visit this temple throughout the year, but summer weather is better to go here.

  • The minimum temperature in winter goes from -3 to -4 degrees, and there is also the risk of landslides of rocks. Therefore, avoid traveling in this weather.
  • You must have necessary medicines with you, because some people faces vomit type problems while climbing to the height.
  • Carry less amount of things with you during climbing , walking stick to climb will prove extremely helpful to you.
  • Trekking shoes will be very comfortable for you to climb.
  • Blood pressure patients do not use stairs to climb.

How to Reach
Jammu is the first stop if you wanted to go this Shrine. You can reach to Jammu by Bus, Train or by plane. Jammu is located on the National Highway. So if you want to reach Jammu by bus or taxi you will not have any trouble. You can get easily bus and taxi from major cities to reach Jammu. The beginning of the journey to Vaishno Devi Temple starts from the Katra, which is a village in Jammu district. Well Katra is the place from where you can go to Vaishno Devi Temple which is just 12 kms away from the temple.
The number of passengers increases during summer time to visit Vaishno Devi temple, so special trains from Delhi to Jammu runs during that time by Railway.

Kankaria Lake – Great Place for Family fun

kankaria_lakeKankaria Lake is the largest lake in the city and is located in the southern part in Maninagar area which is in Ahmedabad state of Gujarat, India. Today, the lake is a popular picnic spot with lighted walkways and food corners. Perfect place for folks of all ages. In the early morning people come here for walking and jogging. If you are looking for multiple entertaining option then this is one of the best rejuvenating place. There’s zoological garden, amusement rides, museum, water sports, boating, laser show, water rides, paragliding, food court and much more things to enjoy. Its an awesome place in Ahmedabad for full day get pleasure  for family and couple. The complex also encloses the Kankaria Zoo, Balvatika, Kids City, Toy Train, Butterfly Park, Aquarium, Stone Mural Park, Tree Walk, Mini Golf Course, Mirror Maze, Target Archery, Jaldhara Water Park, Desert Safari and much more. As the day comes to an end , the lake is lit up with colourful lights. It makes for an amazing sight.

atal_express
Atal Express

At the centre of the lake there is a garden themed entertainment ground called Nagina Wadi which means ‘Beautiful Garden’ in Urdu language. Nagina Wadi is like an island in middle of Kankaria lake where laser show is projected in the evenings that attracts crowds from all over the state. There is a mini-train named ‘Atal Express’ that has become a major attraction at the Kankaria Lake over the years. ‘Atal Express’ is named after India’s former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. You can get a chance to go on a balloon ride as well in which you can ride and enjoy the top view of Kankaria lake and Ahmedabad city.
Kid’s city is also a good option for the kids. Kid’s City is an amazing world of fun and learning for children between the ages of 4 to 14. Here, children can get the best of education as well as entertainment at the same time. Parents can register and leave their kids in Kids’ City under the guidance of Supervisors for as long as 3 hours per batch or 9 hours in a day.

light_showAs I shared with you earlier that there are many things to enjoy at this lake. A zoo “Kamla Nehru Udyan” is also worth visit place in Kankaria, a natural history museum, a special garden for children called Bal Vatika, and an open air theatre are placed around the lake. There is also a water and light show and much more things to enjoy. It is well maintained and clean place.

Kankaria Lake also hosts the very famous Kankaria Carnival, a week long event, held each year in December.

History
Kankaria Lake, which was earlier known by the name “Qutub Hojj” or “Hauz-e-Qutub”, is the biggest lake in Ahmedabad. It is a multisided lake that was built by Sultan Qutab-ud-Din in the year 1451 A.D. The lake has a circumference of around 1.4 miles. It was the bathing place of numerous kings throughout its history. People are of the say that Kankaria lake of Ahmedabad was often visited by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir along with his wife Empress Noor Jahan.

How to Reach
Ahmedabad is well connected with all major cities and towns by road. Regular bus services are available by Gujarat state transport buses and private operators to all the major destinations of the state. The main railway station is located in Kalupur area which falls under the prominent national railway circuit and is connected to all major cities of India. And the nearest airport is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel airport.

Tarn Taran Sahib Gurudwara – Replica of Golden Temple

tarn_taran_sahibTarn Taran is one of the most sacred places for Sikhs which is located in Tarn Taran, Punjab, India. It is a very famous sikh shrine around 22 km away from Amritsar. It is the only Gurudwara which is the replica of Golden Temple, Amritsar. This shrine has the largest sarovar (holy tank) among all the gurdwaras. Its called the golden temple of tarn taran. It has the biggest PARIKRAMA in punjab as compared to the other gurudwaras. . It is famous for the monthly gathering of pilgrims on the day of Amavas (a no-moon night). There is a massive hall called Guru Ka Langar (Guru’s community Kitchen) where visitor of all castes and religion can enjoy Langar (free meal).  It is a perfect place to visit if you are going with family. This is a Sikh’s temple but every religion is accepted here, anybody can visit here.

History
Tarn Taran Sahib was founded by the Fifth Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Arjan Dev Ji (1563–1606). He laid the foundation of Sri Tarn Taran Sahib Temple. Tarn Taran Sahib was part of the Bhangi Sikh Dynasty ruled by a powerful Sikh family of the Dhillon Clan from 1716 to 1810.
It is famous as a center of the Sikh insurgency during the 1980s and early 1990s. During the Sikh insurgency, it was said that Tarn Taran would be the capital of “Khalistan”, the proposed Sikh independent nation. In 1947, the year of the Partition of India, Tarn Taran was/is the only Tehsil/district in Punjab with a majority Sikh population.
There is Manji Sahib, a small domed shrine in the eastern part of the circumambulatory pavement, marks the spot from where Guru Arjan Dev Ji supervised the excavation of the sarovar.

The Sarovar

Sarovar of Tarn Taran Sahib Gurudwara which is the Largest among other Gurudwaras
Sarovar of Tarn Taran Sahib Gurudwara which is the Largest among other Gurudwaras.

One of the largest of the Sikh holy tanks, it is an approximate rectangle in shape. Its northern and southern sides are 289 metres and 283 metres, respectively, and eastern and western sides 230 metres and 233 metres, respectively. With large Sarovar around you can feel the water waves & the serenity , peace of mind and calmness which will purify your soul when you will just sit there in front of sarovar while listening Gurbani. You will see people buying brooms and cleaning the staircase of the Gurudwara. The sarovar was originally fed by rain water that flowed in from the surrounding lands.

Best Time to Visit
Winter is the best time to come here. If you are lucky, you may even see some acrobatics with swords done by the young ones dressed beautifuly in the typical Khalsa blue & yellow.