Decided to bring in my 60th Birthday in India

So it's been a little over two years and just beginning to write this I have a million smiles just thinking about the lovely and heartfelt experiences I had with the Kumar family !!! From the drive from the airport - enjoying watermelon and fabulous stories and the beautiful scenery. I felt like one of the family

Sending lots of PEACE ,LOVE, JOY, HARMONY, GOOD HEALTH , MAGICAL MOMENTS , LOTS OF LAUGHTER & ALL U SO DESIRE francine

Nilgiri Mountain Railway: Retracing the journey of an English schoolboy

Nilgiri Mountain Railway: Retracing the journey of an English schoolboy

As a boy, I've grown up in the Nilgiri mountains. My memories of these hills, apart from a plethora of other aural experiences, have definitely been interspersed with the rhythmic taka-taka-taka of the heritage steam rail pounding up the acutely inclined rack and pinioned mountain-side or listening to it choo-choo-ing down the less dramatic, but more densely inhabited hill towns of Ootacamund and Coonoor.

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Mysore Morning

Mysore Morning

Yogic chants float in through the open shutters, the cadences straining through the floating white cotton. The chanting is joining the preparations. The night is ending and the day will start. The chant now doubles. Two sets of voices. A very slight delay moves the sounds between harmony and echo, a subtle sound that I am aware of but cannot catch, like listening to the ticking of two clocks.

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The Temples of Halebid & Belur - All of life set in stone...

The Temples of Halebid & Belur - All of life set in stone...

As well as the carvings on the exterior walls, the pillars inside the temple - which hold up its roof - are breathtaking in their design and individuality - no two are alike. The dark and cool interior offers a refuge from the spring sunshine, yet looking out, through the passage, the glossy blackness of the interior sucks the daylight into the shrine.... 

.... one can still be impressed by the craftsmanship and marvel at the intricacy of the carvings. For the Hindu family this is the perfect place where stories can be passed on, where the imagery will reinforce the moral of the tale, and where, as the child grows up, all of life is laid before them, including the demands of adulthood - at a height of six foot. 

 

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Shravanabelagola - Monk of the White Pond

Shravanabelagola - Monk of the White Pond

As we approached the top I was struck not by the climb that those regularly coming for prayer and supplication must make but the fact that the buildings were constructed here at all with tools and supplies having to be brought up.

So, already duly reverential, seeing the monolith in its fullness could be said to be almost sublime. Despite its size, even close to it has a stillness and calmness that is tangible. A mixture of awe and peace floats in the air and there is nothing to do but to look...

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Mysore: The Market, the Palace and a little flute music

Mysore: The Market, the Palace and a little flute music

This wonderful building was defined against the night sky by the light from over 98000 light bulbs, and in the warm Sunday evening air people from all over gather together to enjoy the spectacle. Families play with light balls, throwing them in the air and trying to catch them before they roll away under hundreds of feet; young lovers stand with their back to the palace, mobile phone at arms length for that all important selfie, and all of us just rejoice in the brilliance all around us.

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Mysore: The Gods and the British

Mysore: The Gods and the British

A drive up the Chamundi hills, a dozen kilometres out of town, gives the traveller a good view of the city and the surrounding countryside. At the top of the hill stands the colourful, giant statue of Mahishasura, sword in one hand, serpent in the other. Here is the site of another tale, one where the demon Mahishasura was slain by the goddess Durga. His statue stands proud and colourful, but I wonder why it is him not Durga who is here?

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Thanjavur: The Royal Museum

Thanjavur: The Royal Museum
He is holding her hand. His long middle finger curves over the back of her hand; the second and fifth are bent so that the tips gently brush or rest on her thumb and wrist respectively. His grip is loose yet firm, enveloping her palm but allowing her fingers to be free, to caress the space between his thumb and first finger. Around his wrist, three bangles; around hers a wide bracelet. Shorter than he, she stands demure but no less sure; slender waist and bare breasts symbols of femininity and surety without being provocative or sexual. He stands firm without being domineering even though he is aware of his power. His broad shoulders are reminders of that power, not threatening, but as she just is, so he just is.
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Madurai: A Riot of Colour

Madurai: A Riot of Colour

Those who weave and sew the flowers are more than happy to show off their work, proud of the quality that they can produce from just the fingers and little else. Fingers move swiftly, sewing blossom with strips of raffia or lengths of fine straw, weaving in coloured disks of card and paper, small beads and ribbon. At one stall a group of women are sitting on the floor, their legs stretched out in front of them, their bare feet, with ringed toes, crossed.

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Madurai: Meenakshi Temple

Madurai: Meenakshi Temple

The Meenakshi Temple in so many ways demands superlatives. The splendid precinct, the towering gateways, the colourful statues and the vibrant life - all are breathtaking. Alas, the distracting thing is its transformation from temple to attraction. Meenakshi is one of only a small number of occasions when I am very aware of the throng of tourists.

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Mylapore Moments : Stories of people & Myths / Beliefs of Gods & Goddesses

Mylapore Moments : Stories of people & Myths / Beliefs of Gods & Goddesses

As we walk barefoot around the temple, our right shoulders to the building, because the left side is not as respectful, Lakshmi regales us with stories about a few of the multitude of gods of the Hindu faith. Shiva, to whom Mylapore temple is dedicated is the god of destruction. When Shiva dances, all is destroyed. To Western minds this concept may seem negative, but from destruction come new beginnings. After Shiva has danced, the only thing that remains is the skull he holds in his hand, from which will come renewal and rebirth.

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Paddy planting - a 60 year old dream fulfilled with explorIndya & the Kumars

Paddy planting - a 60 year old dream fulfilled with explorIndya & the Kumars

The most important part of the trip was my mother's 75th birthday and her greatest wish had always been to plant rice, in situ; The Kumars arranged a 2 night stay with the rice planting time in Kerala, where she was able to fulfil a 60 year dream in a magnificent area, lush, green and gorgeous.

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Incredible India: Travelling Gluten-free throughout South India

Incredible India: Travelling Gluten-free throughout South India

Porridge and toast, a survival of the British rulers, can be smoothly set aside if one indulges oneself with mouth-watering Dosa (crispy crepes made from rice and lentil flour), or Idli (steamed cake made from rice and lentil flour) accompanied by Sambar (spicy soup with vegetables) and coconut chutney. Fresh fruit and freshly squeezed fruit juice as well as Sakkarai Pongal (tasty risotto-like sweet rice dish) and yoghurt, or many other South Indian plates prepared on basis of vegetables, rice and lentils supplemented most of the breakfast buffets additional to the well-known continental specialities which we voluntarily avoided. With its gluten-free food variety in South India, we were able to leave the gluten-free breads, cookies and bars at home!

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Mylapore Moments: Kapaleeshwara Temple

Mylapore Moments: Kapaleeshwara Temple

Their stories will follow us around and will change at each chapter. Nothing is certain about a religion with 300 million gods. “No. 330 million gods!” “Oh no. 340 million!” “No, no no. You've all got it wrong. Three gods. Several million avatars.” Well, whatever the number, the stories are infinite and various.

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India's Other daughters ...

India's Other daughters ...

India's "village republics" have time and again astonished us with their forward thinking, morally righteous & self- sufficient ways of living in this contrasting country with her "oh-so rapidly rash" pace of 'development'...  its time to realise how great we Indians really are - despite everything !! 

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