A family on the road to self discovery
 

Ranakpur Jain Temple – The Dream Temple of Dharna Shah –

“भाई क़ुतुब मीनार खड़ी कर देते, बस इतने पर ही क्यों रुक गये|”
When the bumper of our car touched an irregular and unusually high, privately constructed speed-breaker, the driver starts venting his irritation on a person who is sitting in the verandah of his house holding his small daughter in his lap. The person gives no response. He is unconcern; However, we are smiling with admiration on the driver’s witty outburst.

As I wrote in the previous article, this is the beginning of September, a season of Jaatrus in Mewar and Marwar regions. We have hired a taxi and are driving towards Ranakpur. In and around Rajasamand we cross truck-loads of big marble stones. On roadside there are open showrooms/godowns of marble dealers, displaying varieties of marble. This is the most uninteresting part of the journey and soon we leave it behind. Our vehicle is now passing through scenic rural Rajasthan.

Marble slabs

Marble slabs


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The Burning Binsar

I first heard about Binsar, after my terrible grilling by Club Mahindra marketing team when I went to their sales office to collect a free voucher that seemingly I had won in a lottery. It required all my Taurean stubbornness to subvert their intentions of selling Club Mahindra membership to me. Even today, many years after the incident, it is hard to forget those resigned but annoyed faces who handed us the voucher. It made me resolute to use those vouchers that we had earned after spoiling the whole evening. We planned to use them for a trip to Binsar. But even, when I was hell-bent on using them, I could not and they lapsed.

The Jungle of Binsar

The Jungle of Binsar

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The season of Jaatrus

It is beginning of September. We have hired a taxi and are driving towards Ranakpur from Rajasamand. This is a season of Jaatrus, the devotees of Baba Ramdev Peer. The devotees are everywhere on the way. Some of these devotees are walking alone, some of them are part of a small group and some are moving in a large group. Some among these devotees are walking barefoot and a few of them have taken a vow to complete this Jatra crawling all along. Many of these Jaatrus are from rural background and are walking with a worn-out school bag on their back, probably with all necessary things for the yatra in their backpack. What draw my attention are the young, probably newly-wed couples, walking hand-in-hand as if they are on a mission to complete this jatra to seek Baba’s blessings that as they would be completing this journey they also complete the journey of life facing challenges together with equal enthusiasm.

Ekla Chalo Re

Ekla Chalo Re


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A road trip to reposeful Deenapani

On our last visit to Gujarat, my wife felt that travelling with little Tanmay was more of a concern for her than an enjoyment and hence the dictum, “No more travel plans, till the kid grows up”, was in force. So when I saw her enthusiastically flipping through the pages of a travel guide, it was not only a pleasant surprise but also a relief. For some, travelling is not a luxury, it’s an utter necessity; it’s a part of their lives, a way of life and in-fact serves a purpose in life.

My wife was looking for the next travel destination, should it be north-east or the hills of Uttaranchal. After planning, re-planning, re-replanning several itineraries, we finally decided to visit Kumaon region of Uttaranchal. Sorry, if I hurt any sentiments, but I prefer to call this newly carved state, Uttarakhand, by its former name Uttaranchal, as it sounds poetic and lyrical.

My sister-in-law also showed her interest to join us with family and so this time the lonely travelling birds got a company too.

The result of spending hours in front of the smart-box, in the form of itinerary was as follows:
19th May evening – Travel by train to Kathgodam Or
20th May morning – Travel by train to Lalkuan.
20th May – stay at KMVN, Deenapaani
21st May we left un-reserved to decide on the way to Munsiyari
22nd- 23rd May – stay at Zara resort, Munsyari
24th- 25th May – stay at KMVN, Chaukori
26th May – stay at KMVN, Jageshwar
27th May – stay at KMVN, Saattal
And back to Delhi from Lalkuan by Delhi-Lalkuan Special train on 28th May.

A detailed route map of Kumaon, KMVN Deenapani

A detailed route map of Kumaon, KMVN Deenapani

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Boating in Rajasamand Lake

I was talking to my sister-in-law on phone, “No, No, this time we are going to Udaipur after a long time and it will not be possible for me to take a break in Rajasamand. Please don’t insist.”
To this pleading, my sister-in-law threw a bait, “Ok, as you wish. We were planning to go to Kumbhalgarh and stay there for a night.”
And I found myself jumping to the bait. I have this weakness or may be a God gift of traveling legs. It is hard for me to resist any offer of traveling.

The nearest rail-head for Rajasamand is Mavli junction. Mewar Express, the train from Delhi, reaches Mavli at 6:00 am in the morning. At this time of the day this small station is just coming out of its sleep. Even in a hurry to reach the destination, we don’t forget to wait over the bridge to see the diesel engine puffing away smoke, slowly awakening this sleepy little town out of its soporific slumber.

Mewar Express Leaving Mavli Junction

Mewar Express Leaving Mavli Junction

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Jainism in Kerala

While reading about the Chandragiri Hills and the history of Shravanabelagola, I realize that Shravanabelagola had a special role in the spread of Jainism in Karnataka and South India. This re-ignites a desire to know about the native Jain communities of South India. Jain community has a strong presence and influence in Calcutta, Bengaluru and Madras. However many of them have migrated from North and West. I used to wonder, are there some who are natives of S.India following Jain religion? I got the answer when I met a Jain colleague in my office who belonged to Karnataka. Interesting!

At its peak, Jainism was spread well upto Kerala and there are remains of Jain temples in Wayanad. I do understand that people change their way of worship and move from one spiritual path to other with time, but there are always some who are reluctant to change and are firm believers in their own faith. Are there pocket of population in S. India who followed Jainism from the ancient time?

Here I am ready with the first part of the series exploring Jainism in Kerala.
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