One of the major attractions in Gwalior is the Saas-Bahu ka Mandir. In Hindi, saas translates to mother-in-law and bahu is the daughter-in-law.
The strange name is believed to be a convenient short form for sahasrabahu – meaning thousand arms. The two temples in the complex are covered with beautiful, intricate carvings of geometric patterns, animal motifs and dancing figures. Some claim that one temple is for Lord Vishnu, while the other is for Lord Shiva. There is also some confusion as to whether they are Hindu temples at all. What is widely agreed to, is that the larger one is definitely the saas, and the smaller one, the bahu!
This photograph of the smaller temple was taken inside the larger temple.
If you intend visiting, be sure you have enough battery and memory to click pictures. We know we didn’t stop with one 😉
To see how bloggers across the blogosphere are framing their points of view, check out this week’s Photo Challenge
The phone rang at 3:30 am. The voice of the driver was impatient. “It’s getting late! No no… I don’t know who told you 4 am. We need to leave now. We’ll get stuck in a traffic jam!”
A traffic jam at 4 am? Oh well, we were already up. We scrambled and managed to leave just a few minutes before 4.
The blinding curves on the mountain were dark and quiet. But just after two turns, another car joined our route. In another 15 minutes we had more company.
By the time we reached the base of Tiger Hill, we were at the tail end of a massive car line. The driver took shortcuts off the road to jump ahead. But as we reached higher ground, there was only one road.
“How far is it from here? Can we walk it?” The driver nodded confidently. We hopped out. It was a race against the sunrise. We joined at least fifty other people who were already trekking uphill at a fast pace.
After close to two kilometres of jogging and walking, we managed to reach the top of the hill, where a huge crowd was staring into the distance, camera in hand, waiting expectantly.
“Don’t worry, the sunrise will be only at 6:30! Plenty of time! Yesterday the view was very good. Today let’s hope the fog lifts with the sun! Here, you must be tired. Have some coffee!” The coffee sellers were busy catering to the captive, sleep deprived and hungry clientele.
The day was in full bloom. And yet the coffee seller coolly said it would take another half an hour for the ‘sunrise’.
“Whooooaaaah!” A section of the crowd began cheering, as if having spotted a celebrity. The fans began climbing on every possible vantage point. The paparazzi were clicking away.
We looked in the direction of the cameras. In the distance, an uninterested orange sphere looked into the mist.
Funnily, the crowd seemed to have forgotten for a while, why they were actually atop Tiger Hill. For it was not the sun we were waiting for. It was the promised breathtaking view of the Himalayas drenched in golden sunshine in the opposite direction.
That promised view was sleeping snuggly under a thick white blanket.
Hundreds of travelers from across the globe waited and stared into the white abyss. The mist didn’t budge.
We were severely disappointed. For the fifth straight day Mt. Kanchenjunga eluded us. As the crowd began dispersing, we caught sight of a few foreign tourists. We pitied them. At least we were still in our country. These folks had come from much farther away. But they were still cheerful. Two of them even held up a large photograph of the mountain range and posed for pictures!
We took their cue and brushed our disappointment aside. It was only while we were walking downhill that we took notice of the picturesque route leading to the viewpoint. In the darkness during our ascent and in our hurry to reach the top of the hill, we had missed the flowering trees and the web of prayer flags above the road.
We missed the golden Kanchenjunga, but we walked away with a handful of other memories. Hopefully, one day we can get back up there. For now though, we have a string prayer flags hanging at our doorstep, to remind us of the things we didn’t miss.
“Do you want to make a boat?” There was a hint of concern in the man’s voice – he seemed to have mistaken our behaviour as a threat to his livelihood.
Up until then, the nawik was quite cheerful. He encouraged us to feed the birds. Another man on another boat sailed by, selling goodies to be fed to the birds. “Don’t worry about polluting the river – the birds will swoop down before it soils the water”, he said, gently steering the boat across the remarkably clean Ganges. The Magh Mela had ended only a fortnight ago, and the temporary docks were still up – being taken down one nail, one plank at a time.
Seeing our keenness to photograph everything around us, and the special attention his boat was getting, he was at first amused, and then a little worried.
We couldn’t help laugh a little and reassured him that we were just fascinated and enjoyed getting up close to the many textures in front of us. We had no intention of making a boat.
Somewhat reassured, he returned to his usual cheery self and continued to row gently. “The other nawiks were interested in showing their muscle and speed at rowing. What’s the point? Why rush? I enjoy myself. Don’t you? You’ve clearly come from far just to see the Sangam*. You would want to spend more time, won’t you?”
We nodded our approval of his thoughts. He offered if we’d like to try our hand at rowing. Of course! He taught us to row and the technique for steering. We both took one oar each and rowed for a while. “I’ll take a picture of you two! You would want to keep this memory.”
We taught him how to use the phone camera and continued to row. He was a good teacher. And rowing was actually fun! After a while he took back the oars. It was, of course, his job!
We soaked in the glow of the golden sun as it began diving into the river and once docked at the ghat, we paid our nauka a tip for the memorable trip.
Here’s one of the many close-up pictures of our nawik’s prized possession – his nauka
To see what details other bloggers around the world are clicking, zoom in to this week’s Photo Challenge
Nauka: boat Nawik: boatman
*Sangam: the confluence of three rivers at Allahabad: the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati
As kids we would stuff old socks with rags to make dolls. We’d use rubber bands to create the ‘neck’ and ‘waist’ and buttons for the ‘eyes’. I’m not sure but perhaps this may be related to the Hindi phrase ‘आँखें हैं की बटन!?’ (Do you have eyes or buttons!?)
For this week’s photo challenge, I would like to introduce you to Mr Button – he has a pair of eyes of his own!
On our return from Sariska, we decided to pay a visit to one of the forts in Alwar. We skipped breakfast to beat the sun and reached the Bala Quila, only to find out that the only way to get to the fort in the morning was by trekking up a few kilometers. We’d have to wait for another hour before the gates at the foot of the hill would be opened for vehicles. Since we had to return soon, we changed our plans and decided to visit the other fort nearby.
For something which was supposed to be nearby, it seemed like we had been travelling forever. We couldn’t see anything but the hills. The long winding path had good and terrible roads in equal measure. The network connectivity was terrible – online maps were not really helpful. There were few houses, and fewer people. The signboards along the roads were the only indication that we were on the right track.
We climbed one hill after another, with each turn slowly revealing the beauty of the misty Arvalli. The fort though, was still nowhere to be seen.
We approached a crossroad where even the signboard seemed confused. As we took a turn, an old man standing nearby waved at us. He must have known where we were headed and pointed us towards the right direction.
After several more minutes, we finally laid our eyes on the thousand year old Dadhikar Fort – now a heritage hotel.
I don’t know how it looks on the inside, but with the amazing hills, little ‘modern civilization’ around and poor network access, it seems like the perfect weekend getaway 😉
Well concealed behind the trees, this is about the best view we could get of the Fort.
It was a hot, September afternoon. But any hope of taking advantage of the heat factor dried up with the still wind. We had just lost the first singles match against the favourites Czech Republic.
The second match was against a top 50 ranked player. The fact that Somdev had never lost a match at this court almost seemed like a record waiting to be shattered.
We should have never doubted. An inspired Somdev served almost flawlessly and chased down every ball dropped in every part of the court.
The handful of audience jumped out of their seats and gasped for breath. As the day came to an end, the scores were level.
Heavily tanned and nursing hoarse voices, we walked out of the stadium savouring victory.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Victory.”
This is post #16 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano
NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging
My father’s voice conveyed both his excitement and the urgency of the moment. We rushed to where he stood – at the door to the balcony. He signalled us to wait there and pointed outside.
A huge white bird sat perched on the railing of our balcony. All around it, the crows cawed as loud as their hoarse voices allowed them. This new bird was clearly not welcome. But the commotion didn’t faze the uninvited guest. We gazed in awe at its majestic presence. That was the first time I had ever seen an owl.
My grandmother (father’s mother) was sitting on her bed, when we asked her to join us. She was weak with old age and walked slowly. We prayed that the bird would wait for her. We didn’t dare step outside, fearing we may scare her* away. And she obliged. My grandmother was as excited to see the bird as we were. ‘Goddess Lakshmi has paid us a visit,’ she said.
She must have sat there for half an hour, clearly in no hurry to go anywhere. The crows could caw straight into her ear, and she couldn’t care less! We looked outside from our door to the balcony the entire time she sat there. We just couldn’t get enough of her!
* * *
The owl is called ullu in Hindi, and the word ullu also refers to a fool. I wonder why. With eyes wide open, they seem to be observant creatures. With greying hair and a deep thoughtful expression, to me, they are at once a picture of wisdom, peace and soft, furry, cuddly goodness. I’ve also seen very few owls — which may be the real reason why I find them fascinating.
As northern India prepares to welcome Goddess Lakshmi to their homes on Diwali, I wonder, will they call her consort a fool?
Wishing you a Happy Naraka Chathurdasi (and a happy chhoti Diwali, for those of you in the north!)
* I’m not sure if the owl was a him or a her. But I’d like to think of it as her. 🙂
This is post #10 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano
NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging