Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Short Trip to Goa : November 2010

We have often been visiting Goa mainly to pay a visit to Nav Durga temple, our family deity, located at Madkai  (prononced in Portuguese as Madcaim), 28 kms south of Panaji. Since a visit to Nav durga temple was overdue, the last visit being in 2004, we decided to make a quick visit to our family deity with during November 26-27, 2010. We reached Karmali on November 26th by Konkan Kanya Express which was late by about an hour. We engaged a pre-paid taxi from the booth located just outside the railway station for Panaji ( 14 kms, Rs.210/-). After reaching Panaji in about 30 minutes, we checked in Ginger Hotel  (@Rs.1900/- with breakfast) which we had already booked. The rooms were clean and spacious. Since most of the temple rituals were in the morning slot, it was too late for us to visit our temple to complete the rituals. So it was decided to visit the temple the next morning. 

After  finishing buffet lunch at the Hotels' restaurant and some rest, we engaged a taxi for local sight seeing - Panaji Church, Dona Paula and Miramar Beach.  Next day, we engaged a taxi for the full day to take us to our temple at Madkai (28 kms). After finishing our rituals at the temple and the lunch, we proceeded to Old Goa to see the churches and museum. In the evening, the taxi dropped us at Karmali railway station to catch Konkan Kanya Express. The train reached Dadar the next day early morning on schedule time.

Some pictures taken during our short visit to Goa are displayed below with captions.  

The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Panaji. The Church was built in 17th century.

Our family picture with Gothic style stairs in the background.

A close up of the Church Bell.

One of many old style buildings in Panaji. This one was located opposite the Church.

Boats in the back waters of Zuari river at Dona Paula.  This is also a place for water sports. Dona Paula is a place where Mandovi and Zuari rivers meet the Arabian Sea.

A speed boat zipping in Zuari river backwater in Dona Paula.

My grand daughter and grand son at Dona Paula promenade. 

Flea market on way to the cliff in Dona Paula.

Dona Paula cliff in the evening.

Family picture at Dona Paula Cliff.

Sun rays defuses through a patch of black cloud on a small part of Arabian Sea seen from Dona Paula. 

A zoom shot of the above picture taken from Dona Paula Cliff.

A heritage house seen from the  Dona Paula cliff.

Champa flower (Magnolia Champaca) tree with Zuari river backwater in the background.

My grandson enjoying the gentle waves at Miramar beach.  Since Mandovi river meets Arabian sea very close to this beach, the swimming is not safe due to underwater currents.  The authorities have put two flags indicating that swimming within the distance of two flags is considered safe.   

The gateway to Navdurga temple which is located about 200m from the main gate of the temple.

Stairs leading to the Navdurga temple.

Navdurga temple, Madkai. Like most Hindu temples in Goa which had been relocated in their second homes in 16th centuries due to Portuguese atrocities, this temple was  moved to the present location from Ganvshi village in Tiswadi taluka  in which Panaji city is also located.The main deity in almost all  temples in Goa is covered with  dome and the mandap is covered with curvilinear roof. The main as well as side entrances to the temple are covered with conical roof, again main features of temples in Goa.   

The Deepa Stambha (Lamp Tower) is also one of the main features of temples in Goa.

The Konkani style residence of the main priest who belong to Ghaisas family originally from Konkan (Maharashtra).  There is not much of a change in the Konkani style residence since we first visited in 1970 except that the longish verandah  has now been closed with wall and grills and the house has split AC installed on the roof.

Navdurga temple complex seen from the road ascending on the plateau.  Madkai village where the  temple is situated is a valley surrounded by plateau where GIDC is presently located. Madkai is about 5 kms from Mardol on the Old Goa-Madgaon road.  When we first visited the temple in 1970, the dense forest cover seen from the mud road did not reveal the existence of the temple until we reached the village .Now the temple complex can be seen from a distance of about 200m from  road side. In fact most of the temples in Goa presently in  their second homes were located in the cover of  dense forests to ward off Portuguese atrocities.    

The Hall in the temple complex where Kulavis ( Families with Navdurga as their family deity) can perform religious ceremony.  In olden days, Kulavis used to stay around the temple complex and all their religious activities like naming, thread, wedding ceremonies were performed in the temple complex.  Now with the dispersal of Kualvis  to the various parts of India and abroad,  the use of Hall for such activities are minimal.  Almost all temples in Goa have constructed self contained rooms for Kulavis to stay  during their visits to the temples.

The curvilinear type roof over the mandap with statues of animal on either side  of the roof.

Close up of the statue on the edge of the roof.
The statue of Navdurga. The deity in black stone is in the form of Mahishasur Mardini ( killer of demon bullock, the rudra (fierce) form of Devi. The neck of the goddess is tilted to her left and there is a story behind it.  A devotee after his wish being fulfilled was to offer flowers worth Rs.1000/- to Navdurga. But on the appointed day, the devotee could not get any flowers. At last he got one flower for which he paid Rs.1000/- and  offered to Navdurga.  As soon as the single flower  was placed on the goddess's neck, it tilted towards her left indicating that for her  one flower weight was equivalent to many flowers.

The rath (chariot) which is used during the annual  Jatra of Navdurga in November.

A laddu ( a kind of sweet) stall just outside the temple complex. When we visited the temple, the annual Jatra was in full swing. There was a fair like atmosphere in the vicinity of the temple with many make-shift shops on the road leading to the temple. 

Grinding stones for sale near the temple. 

Unusual Champa Flowers (Magnolia Champaca) at the side gate of the temple.

Main Altar of Basilica Bom Jesus at Old Goa.

Left side altar of the Basilica.

View from the entrance to the Basilica.

Right side Altar of Basilica.

Lovely wood carving on a pulpit in Basilica.

The road bisecting the Basilica of  Bom Jesus and the Church of Francis of  Assisi was closed for vehicular traffic on account  novenas and feast of St Francis Xaviers.

On way to the Church of St Francis Xavier and Se' Cathedral.

The Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The Church was under rennovation and therefore we could not see much of its interiors. Next to the Church is the Archaeological Museum.

Some of the antiques have been nicely placed as a wall to the museum complex.

An antique piece in the middle of the park adjoining the Museum.

Mandovi river at Old Goa. There is a constant cargo ship traffic through the river.

Karmali Railway Station. On the left side is the pre-paid taxi stand and on the right is the auto rickshaw stand. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Trek to Manimahesh Lake - August 1996

Since 1987, we have been visiting Garhwal/Kumaon Himalaya every year either for trekking with my group or for pilgrimage with my family. I felt that a change of region for 1996 Himalayan trek was overdue and accordingly decided to undertake trek to Manimahesh Lake in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh clubbing with sight-seeing in Chamba, Bharmour, Dalhousie and Kajjiar.  Although this trek can be done during June-October, taking into consideration the facilities (tented accommodation and dabhas/langars) that will be available during the Manimahesh fair held around Janmashtami,  we decided to trek during August  but after Janmashtami to avoid the pilgrim crowd.
Myself and my colleague Jambukeswaran ( other two friends dropped out of the trek) boarded Swaraj Express  at Borivali and reached Chakki  Bank the next day afternoon. The auto outside the railway station dropped us at Pathankot bus stand. Details of day to day schedule are as under :

Day-1  : Mumbai to Chakki Bank by Swaraj Express.
Day-2  : Chakki Bank-Pathankot (by auto)-Chamba (995m), 120 kms, 5 hours by bus.
Day-3  : Chamba to Bharmour (2195m), 65 kms, 4 hours by bus.
              Trekked to Brahman Devi temple and back (3+3 kms).
Day-4  : Bharmour to Hadsar,12 kms by share jeep.
              Hadsar to Dhancho (2490m), 7 kms. by trek.  Overnight at Dhancho in Tent.
Day-5  : Dhancho to Manimahesh (4115m), 8 kms by trek . Stayed overnight in Tent.
              Took bath in Manimahesh lake and spent most of the time in the tent as weather
              was not conducive to stroll around Manimahesh lake.
Day-6  : Manimahesh-Dhancho, 8 kms by trek. Took lunch in a Langar.
              Dhancho-Hadsar, 7 kms by trek.
              Hadsar-Bharmour, 12 kms by share jeep.Visited Chourasi Temple Complex. Overnight                  
              at Bharmour.
Day-7  :Bharmourr to Chamba, 65 kms by by bus. Visited Laxminarayan Temple Complex.
             Overnight in Chamba.
Day-8  : Chamba to Dalhousie (2040m), 43 kms by bus. Local sight-seeing. Overnight at  
Day-9  : Dalhousie-Kajjiar-Dalhousie day trip, 19+19 kms by bus. Spent 2 hours walking around 
Day-10: Dalhousie to Pathankot, 80 kms by bus.
              Chakki Bank - Borivali (Mumbai) by Swaraj Express.

The photo negatives of many pictures of this trek/trip have been damaged beyond redemption. I have uploaded here some pictures which I could retrieve which, in my view, give the glimpses of our trek and trip in Chamba region. Apart from the trek, our visits to Bharmour, Chamba and Kajjiar  were the most rewarding ones and a revisit to these places is overdue.    

View of Bharmour village from the ridge on way to  Brahmani Mata temple. It is customary to visit Brahmani Mata temple, a 3 km trek with steep gradient from Bharmour with before visiting Manimahesh Lake.

View from the ridge on way to Brahmani Mata temple near Bharmour.

On way to Brahmani Mata temple, near Bharmour.

Brahmani Mata temple. It is customary to take bath in the pond (left) before embarking on pilgrimage to Manimahesh Lake.  We, however, took a symbolic bath by sprinkling some water from the pond on our head. 

A 12 km drive on a mud road brought us to Hadasr village , the starting point for trek to Manimahesh Lake and also to Kungti Pass.

View from the trekking path towards Dhancho

On way to Dhancho. Due to cloud burst sometime in early 90s, the swollen stream destroyed most of  the well laid trekking path to Dhancho. Hence, most of our trekking path was strewn with rocks and stones. However,  the climb to Dhancho was gradual.

On way to Dhancho. Eventhough it was  rainy season, we did not encounter rains during our trek. 

The gentleman on the right is the one who has been running the langar for many years in Dhancho.

Langar at Dhancho. 

Boys outside a Dhaba near Dhancho.

Zig zag trekking path from Dhancho towards Manimahesh. After Dhancho, the vegetation becomes sparse. The altitude gain of about  1600m in 8 kms  did create some breathing  problem for me in the night at Manimahesh but in the morning, I was alright. Most of the pilgrims, therefore, make a day visit to Manimahesh from Dhancho.

Gourikund.  The last 2 kms trek to Gourikund is very steep. Only ladies are permitted to take bath in this kund.  It is customary for lady pilgrims to take bath in Gourikund before reaching Manimahesh which is one km further.

Manimahesh Kailash (5660m) at the base of Manimahesh Lake.

One of the temples in Chourasi (84) temple complex in Bharmour. The temples  belong to 9th century. The temple complex is supposed to have 84 temples but we could see 4-5 large temples and some small temples. The main temples with rich carvings were  Manimahesh, Lakshmi, Ganesh and Narasimha with Shikhara style architecture. 

The dome of one of the main temples in Chourasi temple complex.

The close-up of the carvings on the dome of the temple.

Chourasi temple complex, Bharmour.  The temple complex was very clean with good ambiance and scenic view of  Dhauladar Himalaya.  There were hardly any tourist other than some local people in the complex.

The Chougan  ( meadow with four sides) is the hub of Chamba town.

Laksminarayan temple complex, Chamba. There were 5-6 temples in the complex which had been built in 10th century. All the temples are in Shikhara style architecture.

Lakshminarayan temple complex. The main temples are dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. 

The Shikhara style architecture with rich carvings on the temple walls.

Close-up of one of the stone carvings on the temple walls. 

A bird's eye view of Dalhousie.

A hotel and restaurant in the midst of Kajjiar meadow. 

It was a common sight to see cows and sheeps/goats grazing in the Kajjiar meadow.

Kajjiar is a beautiful place to chill out an entire day. The meadow is surrounded by dense pine, oak and cedar tree forest. While we had just time to walk around the meadow, a walk through the forest would have been more rewarding.  

A lone house ( Forest Rest House?) at the extreme end of the Kajjiar meadow. 

An unusual cedar tree with multiple trunks at Kajjiar.