Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Delhi Darshan - Part 3: Akshardham Visit Continues

We then moved on to Bharat Upvan as it was still not time for our turn at the exhibitions. This 22 acre garden is just opposite the monument. Although everywhere it mentions that it is very beautiful, I didn’t find anything khaas there. 65 bronze statues of India’s great men, women and children are displayed here. I somehow missed The Sun Chariot and The Moon Chariot with its 16 deers. The view of the monument from here is majestic. By then it was almost 5 PM.



Next we moved to the Exhibitions waiting area. Around 5.30 we entered Hall 1: Sahajanand Darshan (Hall of Values) (pics above)– Universal values for mankind are presented from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan through films, light and sound shows with robotic figures. Everything here appeared so real, mainly in the robotic dramatizations. We were running from one room to other every 4 minutes. The sound-proof rooms have large theater screens filming short videos and maximum had robots. I think I do remember one with a real waterfall. Everything has been done with so much care…I was left astonished. We left this Hall after the 50-minute program to enter the next Hall and the one I most anxiously waited for. On the way, as it was already dark, we saw the beautifully illuminated temple.
Hall 2: Neelkanth Darshan (Giant Screen Theatre) (pic above)– Ever saw a 6-storey high movie screen? Even I hadn’t, before this. Projected on an 85 ft x 65 ft screen, a large format film vividly portrays the true story of an 11-year-old child-yogi, Neelkanth Varni (The young Bhagwan Swaminarayan). With a cast of over 45,000 people and shot in 108 locations in India, the film takes the viewers on an exciting pilgrimage of India. Ever imagined how large Mount Kailash looks from Mansarovar. No? Come here and have a look in this theater. In fact I was more interested in the hall than the movie! Seating capacity approx. 432 people and many were sitting on the stairs. After the 40-minute movie, we moved to the next hall.


Hall 3: Sanskruti Vihar (Boat Ride)(pic above) – A spectacular boat ride through 10,000 years of Indian culture, which flourished on the banks of river Sarasvati. A swan shaped 15 sitter boat standing on tracks. We sat on it. And it was like a merry-go-round. As the boat started moving, it slowly dived into the water and then we were floating with no one paddling. I think there were automatic wheels running below the boat and I don’t think the water was more than 2-3 feet deep. We were floating in a narrow tunnel with the boat hitting the banks every now and then. We sailed through the world’s oldest Vedic village and bazaar, through Takshashila- the world’s first university, the caves of Ajanta, and much much more. At the end of the 14-minute ride, I was and am still confused about this: how did the boat get hold of the track again when it was time to rise from the water? I don’t think any of my concepts (written above) is wrong, but then questions do arise: Were the tracks always there and they were so constructed that it would appear that we were floating or was it something else? I have no idea! If you can, please solve this mystery!


OK, back to the story. We moved out of the Hall. This was the last one. It was already 8 PM by then and very cold outside. The fog was setting on. We still waited to see the Musical Fountain show (pic above) at 8.15. It started off quite boring (I actually asked uncle why they couldn’t put some rocking music from some movie instead of this boring classic melody! I think I forgot it was a temple!) but then it was very very entertaining. We actually enjoyed it and said ticket ka paisa wasul ho gaya. We then moved to Premvati again and had some nice masala dosas for dinner. The Souvenir Shop (no less than a mini-palace) was our last destination and we got the New Year calendar, a few book labels and a DVD for remembrance of our memorable trip. At 9.10, we moved out, with the Prasad, got our things from the cloak room and drove home (after losing our way once). At 10.20PM, we were at home, completely exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep. The Delhi Darshan Day 1 was successfully completed.


The Akshardham visit is one in millions. One has to undertake it to fully appreciate the beauty of everything there. The reason is quite clear why they don’t allow cameras. Even if they do, you are not going to get a camera with such a high memory capacity. Everything you see, you want to capture. But still, you miss many things. Even after the 8-hour visit, which could have been extended at the cost of our legs, we missed a few things. May be, another visit for that…
I don’t see any reason as to why Akshardham is not included among the 7 Wonders of the World!!!

The Delhi Darshan posts (1,2 &3) were quite boring, isn’t it?? The grander the place, the lengthy the description!
[Please note: All the images in this entry were found from Google Image Search]

Monday, December 29, 2008

Delhi Darshan - Part 2: Akshardham Visit

We waited in a car queue for some time and then after a brief security check of the whole car, we were let in, into the huge parking complex. I think there must have been atleast 500 cars already there and there was space for many many more! We took some pictures, from the parking area, of the temple. We had to then keep everything (camera, mobile phones, all food items, baby's bag, aunty's hand bag etc) in the cloak room. Nothing is allowed inside. We then entered the gates after a brief security check and then through the main entry after another brief check. Security is strong, I must admit. And I think it must have been made stronger after 26/11. But, I couldn't find even a single policeman in the whole temple complex. Aunty said the temple authorities have their own security people and they don't need the police. True, everything was so well-organised…

Our first view of the whole temple complex… towering over us at a distance was the 141 ft high Akshardham Monument. Built of pink stone and white marble, without using steel, the temple complex was built over a period of just 5 years with over 3000-4000 workers from Orissa and Rajasthan each.

As it was almost 2.30 by then, we decided to take lunch first and then visit around the huge complex. The huge Premvati Food Court serves fresh, pure vegetarian food, snacks and drinks. My young cousin was quite surprised to find pizza being served in a temple. We had the tastiest chole-bhature, poori-subji, rice, pizza and ice-creams (since the day was a bit warm!) all for a mere cost of 290 rupees (If you are not a Delhite, let me tell you that the pizza alone would have cost above 200 anywhere outside in Delhi). We then started our tour of the place at 3 PM.

Passing through the Ten Gates (representing the ten principal directions described in the Vedas) we entered the Bhakti Dwar (208 sculpted dua forms of God and His devotee decorate this splendid gate). Inside this grand (everything is large, huge, big and grand here!!!) hall, I saw a huge (again!!!) reproduction of the Guinness World Record Certificate, certifying Delhi Akshardham to be the largest Hindu Temple in the whole world. Akshardham in London is the largest Hindu Temple outside India. We moved out of the hall through the Mayur Dwar (869 sculpted peacocks adorn the two gates and ‘if you have the time, patience and the eye, you will have a wonderful time in counting them’, this is what the plank describing the Dwar says).

Our first glimpse of the Swaminarayan Akshardham right from the front was here. Here we see the holy footprints of Bhagwan Swaminarayan (carved out of white marble and bear the 16 sacred signs of God) in memory of his incarnation on earth. There is much more to the place than just the temple. We got our tickets for the Exhibitions, for which the minimum waiting time was 2 and a half hours. We then moved to see the temple. Even water bottles are not allowed inside this welcome-to-all-religion temple. Seated in the centre of the monument is the 11 ft high gold plated murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Around the inside of the temple are 9 magnificent domes, 20 pinnacles and over 20,000 superbly sculpted figures. No agarbattis and candles could be seen anywhere. (Atleast I didn’t find them!). We then moved out.
The Mandovar or the external wall of the monument (611 ft long and 25 ft high) comprises 4,287 carved stones and includes 48 Ganesh murtis. 180 ft of beautiful metallic reliefs adorn the walls. The Monument rests on a 1,070 ft long Gajendra Peeth, which has 148 life-sized sculpted stone elephants each weighing more than 3000 tons. Instead of looking at these things closely, we were more interested in wondering about the beauty of the whole place. It is said holy waters of 151 rivers, lakes and stepwells of India have been ritually added to the Narayan Sarovar that surrounds the monument. But…there was no water there!!! Some reconstruction work was underway. Are they going to collect water from 151 places again? (All the waters look the same, so pour the water from Yamuna that flows nearby and say, ‘we have collected water from 151 places including Mansarovar’) No offence here! My personal view, that was.
The whole monument is surrounded by a two-tier Parikrama or Colonnade, each tier being 3000 ft long! Some parts of this were still under construction stage. But the view inside this was marvelous.

Part 3: Coming really very very soon...

Delhi Darshan Trip - Part 1

Plans started of very well on 25th. Day 1 was to be a trip to Akshardham starting by 9 AM and return by 4 PM. But... plans to bigad hi jaate hain naa... But this time it was for good. read on to see how...
Saturday, 27th December 2008 (Day 1)
Woke up at 7 in the morning first time in 17 days. By 10 we were all ready to set out on a full day trip to Akshardham. On the way, my uncle said, 'We can visit Lotus Temple, it wouldn't take more than 20-30 minutes, why waste another day just for this'. Although I was a bit reluctant at first but then I agreed.
So Destination 1 became The Bahai House of Worship: Lotus Temple. It is a temple of no religion. No idol is worshipped in the huge auditorium (or the Main Temple), that can accomodate over 1300 people at the same time. I don't think I need to give factual descriptions of the places, that can be found anywhere on the net. We moved on, checking the Delhi CityGuide Map every now and then.

The map did misguide us a bit since it was a 6-year old edition. So on Outer Ring Road we moved a bit ahead from what was required and thus thought of popping in at the (Destination 2) Indraprastha Park (Popularly known as Milennium Park to Delhites) and have a look at the Buddhist Temple there, which my aunty had visited on 9th (and I had only seen the pics). The Park is spread over an area of 34 acres (Is this much?). Seen in the picture above is one of the entry points: Gate no. 3.

Does that look familiar?(above)

Buddha and me (below)

By the time we moved again it was 1 PM. We now found the correct way (after a bit of enquiry) and went on the Nizamuddin Bridge trans-Yamuna. There are many many nurseries there and such beautiful flowers. From the road I could see one of the jhopdis with a Tata Sky disk!!! We moved on and saw the Commonwealth Games Village, under construction. Multi-storeyed buildings for the athletes to stay during the Games are under construction here. A bit ahead and we got the first glimpse of the dome of the main temple of Akshardham. Moving ahead and nearer to our destination, we just sat unblinking, looking at the vastness of the whole temple complex. Time was 20 minutes past 1 PM.


Akshardham darshan in Part 2. Coming really very very soon...(May be it is there already, even before you read this)

Friday, December 26, 2008

12 December- The D-Day

Well, I said I would make a separate post for this special day and for those who do not have an idea why this was a special day let me tell them, 12 December is my birthday since the last 17 years. You might think, what birthday one can celebrate with chickenpox. But...Read on to find out...
The day started, as usual, at 12 midnight. Quite many people were calling me at that time but I was not keen on picking up the phone. I kept it on silent. I wanted to talk to mama first. She called and wished me at 12:08 AM and I was very happy. I took my best friend's call next and tried to give some bahana but I think he was not satisfied. (Sorry, Now you know why)

Now wait a moment, I need to get the list of special people who wished me that day. All have been classified in groups below. Please have a look. (No problem if you (don't)know none of them)

First of all: Antarik, that's me :-)

Family: Mama, Aunty, Prem, Miku, Uncle, Papa, Aja, Ayee, Mausi, Mausa, Mamu, Maein, Som, Nana, Sonu, Maa, Kuni, Pinky.

From the Good old Place: Rakesh, Akhil, Pratyasha, Anjali, Somya, Ankita, Anjali Madam, Rout Madam, A R Panda Madam.

From the Nice new one: Somya, Amrit, Siddharth, Venkatesh, Rahul bhaiya, Meena Aunty, Vimi Aunty, Anju Bhasin Aunty.

And a bit late: Bindu Madam, Bansal Aunty, Abhishek.

A total of 38 distinguished personalities!!
Thank you to all of you for making my day so special.

And yes, a very very special wish from my sister, Pinky. Thank you!!

Now think... Could your birthday have been better? Even if you didn't have a cake or you couldn't go out, you have people from all over the country calling (may be for the first time) to wish you. Wouldn't everyone want that everyone should remember one's birthday. Atleast I wanted. And I got my best gift ever: love and best wishes from everyone.

Someone has correctly said: Distance strengthens relationships. (If no one said this, then I am saying it!!)

Do tell me, wouldn't you want your birthday to be like this (You can ofcourse remove the chickenpox episode!!)??? Now smile....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chicken pox: Go to hell...

Wouldn't you say that??? You plan for a great birthday at a new location, you plan for great weekends ahead, you plan to visit your friends at your old place and you are gifted with chickenpox!! What other reaction would you have, if not this??

9th December:-- Body garam...Feeling unwell...In hostel... Thankfully a holiday... So slept the whole day (almost)... At 11 PM, found something red appear near the neck...Saw in mirror...Thought must be a mosquito bite...But afraid that it might be chickenpox...My roommate had it 2 weeks back...

10th December:-- 7AM, got ready for school...Saw a boil on the left hand...Afraid...Went to the School Clinic...Doctor confirms: This is chickenpox & u must go home immediately...
10:30AM, Went to another doctor...She said complete bed rest for 7 days...(Oh no!!!)...No TV...No Computer...No bathing...No school...No coaching...No STUDIES... and so on...Slept the rest of the day...

11th :--Sleep...sleep...sleep...

12th December:-- I think I will make a separate post for this special day...

13th and 14th:--Nothing khaas...No more sleeping, though...thankfully...

15th December:--What an idea...(Don't ask me what's that!!!)...

16th, 17th:-- Working on that idea...

18th December:-- Called up my class teacher to enquire about the Annual Day. Got the entry pass into the auditorium...But! Chickenpox is the cause, I am unable to go for the Annual Day...It is on 19th and 20th...

19th:-- Should I call it just another day?? No... My dream and my idea had their Sriganesh done today...

20th:--That's today, right? Woke up at 10, had breakfast and then internetting...

Cold is setting on in Delhi...The extreme days are yet to come...
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Coming soon.....

Hi everyone

I didn't mean to dissapoint you, but... sorry... I couldn't make any posts in the last two months, may be bcuz I was a bit too busy (which I am going to be 4 atleast the coming 2 months or so) or I was just lazying around...

Some nice posts r on the way...

Coming soon..

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