June 25th, 2017 by admin
Celebration of Shri Saibaba Samadhi Centenary Year

Sai International Marathon

In the year 1918 Shri Saibaba left his earthly abode and attained Samadhi. In this centenary year Sai Baba trust, Shirdi are organizing various programs to celebrate this centenary. Sai Baba trust, Shirdi hope to spread the message of Shraddha and Saburi given by Baba to the entire world.

The first program in this centenary year is Sai International Marathon.
* 3 Km Walk / Run Sai Dindi
* 10 Km
* 21 Km Half Marathon
* 42 Km Full Marathon

Organisers are expecting 1,00,000 participant and they are going to reach 50,00,000 bhakta to get this participation. They request your support and sponsorship. If you have any question please call them at 9595344500, 9921941414, 9011112226

Date: Sunday, October 15
Venue: Shirdi, Maharashtra, India
www.SaiMarathon.com

This is organized by the Shirdi Sai Baba Sanasthan Trust, Shirdi.

Website: https://www.shrisaibabasansthan.org

 

April 2nd, 2016 by admin

I have heard about Ajanta and Ellora like folklore throughout my childhood. And last December it was time to visit them. I was very excited. Ajanta is located around 105 km from Aurangabad and about 55 km from Jalgaon. It takes a minimum of a day’s time to see Ajanta caves. We had hired a car and around 6.30 am in the morning left for Ajanta from Aurangabad. Renting a car requires a minimum of 200 km to be covered a day and comes to Rs 2000. Traveling through the countryside on the way to Ajanta was an awesome experience! Noticing cotton plants, jowar plants, slow moving bullock carts. Feels life is breathing and not breathless!

It takes around 2.5 – 3 hrs to reach there. Road was narrow and broken at few places. On reaching private vehicles need to park by paying a parking fee (Rs 30 for cars). Walking from the parking lot, we reached a small bazaar. Here you can find various local artifacts, stones and also can have food. Walking past the bazaar, we reached the spot from where MTDC buses ferry people to the top of the hill. Ticket cost is Rs 25 per person. Now, we need to buy the entry pass for Ajanta caves.

Timings: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M
Holiday: Monday
Entry fees: Rs 10 per person (Indian, Saarc and BIMSTEC countries)
$5 or Rs 250 per person (others)
Note: Children upto 15 years free
Camera fees: Rs 25

Ajanta caves are a UNESCO world heritage site and it is nicely maintained. After purchasing tickets we went to have breakfast at the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation’s (MTDC) Ajanta restaurant. Here I saw one of the most expensive menu at that level. We ordered for coffee and bread/butter toast. Once you are on the hill there is no other option available. So I would suggest to have breakfast at the bazaar. Outside the restaurant there is a big yellow billboard giving info on Ajanta.

There are two ways to reach the caves – one through climbing from the right hand side or take a left and walk through the sloppy walkway. If you are traveling with senior citizens or kids, you can take the way on the left side. We climbed using the steps, as I was not aware then. There is option of porter carrying people but that looks scary to me. On the way found the plate of World Heritage Monument – ThumbsUp! One has to climb and walk little bit before reaching cave # 1. One has to open shoes to enter it. 40 people are allowed to stay in at a time and only for 15 minutes. It is one of the best monasteries in the Ajanta caves. It is most ornamented in its work and has paintings from Jataka tales, Padmapani and Vajrapani.

At some of the caves, you will be required to open shoes to enter but I would suggest you to wear shoes as it will help if you are interested in climbing the hill. Ajanta caves are located on the face of a horse shoe shaped gorge. Below flows river Waghora. In December the river was completely dry. It will be a sight to see when the river will be flowing in monsoon.

Then we went to cave # 2 which belongs to the 6th – 7th century AD. Lord Buddha is enshrined in the sanctum flanked by celestial nymphs and Bodhisattvas. As we walked and entered the caves one by one, it was an eye opening experience. People 2000 years ago can achieve such a feat in such a difficult terrain! Just wow.

Cave # 3 is incomplete. It is a complete mystery why it was left incomplete.

Cave # 9 is the oldest chaityagriha belonging to the Hinayana sect of Buddhism datable to 1st century BC. It is rectangular in plan but the layout is apsidal. The facade wall is decorated with a beautiful chaitya windows and figures of Lord Buddha. Inside the chaitya – the earlier dating back to the second half of 1st century BC and the latter to 6th – 7th century AD.

Cave # 16 is the largest and certainly the finest and most interesting monastery at Ajanta. It is famous for portraying various episodes of Buddha’s life. An inscription found on the wall of the Verandah , records the gift of this cave by Varahadeva, a minister of Vakataka king Harisena (475 – 500 AD).

Cave # 17 is one of the finest and magnificent Mahayana monasteries known for the display of greatest number of Jatakas. A Brahmi inscription on the wall of the courtyard records the excavation of this cave by a feudatory prince under Vakataka king Harisena.

Cave # 21 is a beautiful monastery excavated on a higher level during the 6th century AD. It consists of a pillared verandah, sanctum with an antechamber and cells. 12 massive pillars support the roof of the hall where flora, fauna, celestial figures and worshipers are carved in great detail.

In all there are 29 caves. Some section of the last cave is closed. You can read the complete details of each cave at ASI site.

After seeing the caves, we climbed down and walked down to the river shore. The river was completely dry and I took a walk on the stony base of the river. You can go to the other side from here and avoid walking atleast half a kilometer. But during monsoon, one might have to take the bridge. If you walk right from the bridge, you will come to a point from where you should be able to see a beautiful falls during monsoon. But it was completely dry during my visit. But I did see isolated stretches of water! From the bridge take left to go to the viewpoint. To reach the viewpoint, one would have to climb around 150 – 200 steps but it is not a difficult climb. The view while climbing and from the top is awesome. After climbing to the viewpoint, I walked around the edge of the hill. While enjoying the top down view of the caves, I reached the middle section of the hill. From here, one can get a bird’s eye view of the area – you can see the sky, hills, caves and the river as well. Just spectacular. If you have still adventure left in you, try climbing further uphill for some stunning view. Day times it is very hot and sun is scorching. So do use sunscreen and carry caps/hats.

After the 7th century, Ajanta was lost to the known world. It was not until 1819 when a British army officer during one hunting session noticed the arch of of cave # 10 that it was re-discovered.

To view more pictures visit, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.

March 28th, 2016 by admin

Raja Dinkar Kelkar museum was developed through collections of late Padmashree (one of the highest awards from the government of India) Dr. Dinkar Gangadhar Kelkar (1896 – 1990). He dedicated it to his only son Raja. Hence, the name Raja Dinkar Kelkar museum.

Address: 1377-78, Off. Bajirao Road, Natu Baug, Shukrawar Peth, Pune, Maharashtra 411002
Time: 10 Am – 5.30 PM apart from 3 holidays (Indian independence day, republic day, Anant chaturdasi)

Entry fees:

Rs. 10.00 for children below 12 years

Rs. 50.00 for adults above 12 years

Rs. 200.00 for Foreigners (adults)

Rs. 50.00 for Foreigners (children)

Museum entry is free for the Blind and the Disabled

The museum has 4 floors and has a huge collections of various antique and ethnic artifacts. The museum describes itself as the museum of everyday traditional art.

The museum is divided in the following section:

Ground floor A Wing Gujarat Galley
First floor A wing Utensils Gallery
Third floor A wing Special Exhibition and Toys Gallery
Second floor A wing Textile Gallery
Second floor B wing Lamps Gallery
First floor B wing Musical instruments Gallery and Mastani Mahal
Ground floor B wing Ivory and Doors Gallery

Visitors are advised to view the museum in the above order. The exterior of the museum building also has a very contemporary look and gives a feel of bygone era. The entrance was also interesting With the blueish lighting on the antique marble and stone statues at the passageway in the entrance. At the end of the passageway, a huge beautiful lamp greeted us and around it was ornate wood doors. Little further was a larger than life size wood statue of Yali (evil crusher). This figures are normally found in south Indian temples.

Collections were numerous – starting from sandalwood box to comb, ornaments, textile, utensils, weapons and many more. It is one of most versatile collection of antique and traditional art collection I have seen in any Indian museum. I was in awe to see the beautiful artifacts and detailed work on some of the items. Some worth mentioning are the Mughal lamps, musical instruments, Mastani Mahal, old doors and windows etc.


Mughal lamps

It also has a life size palace of Mastani. Dr Kelkar had dismantled the palace which Bajirao I had built for her and re-created it here in the museum. Mastani was the concubine of Maratha Peshwa (prime minister) Bajirao I. A Bollywood movie was made recently based on the love story of Bajirao I and Mastani.


Mastani Mahal

I would suggest visitors to keep atleast one half of the day to enjoy this treasure house of artifacts. It should be in every traveler / tourist’s must visit list in Pune.

Website: http://rajakelkarmuseum.com/


Yali

To view more pictures visit, TravelingBeats Photo Gallery.

March 24th, 2016 by admin

Cave # 1 is probably the best ornamented cave of the Ajanta caves. Also, here you can see some of the best antique and diverse paintings from as old as 2nd century BC. Lets check the paintings which I shot during my visit there last year.

March 21st, 2016 by admin

Daulatabad which once was the capital of Delhi sultanate, is just another small town today. During my year end trip of 2015 to Maharashtra, drove past Daulatabad fort. It is one of the most impregnable forts in India and today daulatabad is famous for this. The fort is located on a conical hill and it has 2 to 3 layers of fortifications. I would have loved to trek to the top. However, I had a senior citizen traveling with me, so skipped the fort. It is an arid region and its winters are also very hot during day times. It is located around 16 km from Aurangabad. People visiting from Shirdi can first visit Ellora caves and then visit Daulatabad fort. Read more

Check some images I shot from the road running downhill near the fort.

February 7th, 2016 by admin

Ellora caves are a series of caves based on Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religion. This archaeological site is located around 29 km from the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra. In total there are 34 caves. Cave 1 to 12 are Buddhist, cave 13 to 29 are Hindu and cave 30 to 34 are Jain. The ancient name of Ellora is Elapura or Verul.

Timings: Sunrise to sunset

Closed on Tuesday

Entry fees: Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) – Rs. 10 per head. Others – Rs 250 or US $5

Children upto 15 years free

The caves are spread over an area of almost 2 kms. It would be awesome if one can walk to visit all the caves. However, if you are visiting with small children or with elderly persons this may be difficult. This region is typically dry and is hot during the day. However, you can hire an Auto for Rs 150 to 200. All autos will show you caves starting from cave # 16. I was told, caves # 1 to 15 need to be done on foot. My suggestion would be to ask your auto driver to show you all the other caves and drop you in front of cave # 16 on the way back. Cave # is the majestic of all the caves and I suggest you to see this leisure. Also, I found they do not show all the caves. They show only the important ones and say the other caves are empty. But if you are curious traveler, the empty cave also could be interesting.

We watched cave # 16 first and then we hired an auto. He showed us cave # 29, 20, 21, 30, 32. I knew I was not seeing it completely and decided to visit again. To see a monument of such magnitude, few hours are just not enough. To really enjoy ellora, one should come here with one day in hand. I found a beautiful work Elloracaves.org by Deepanjana and Arno who has done a comprehensive documentation of the Ellora cave temples.

To view more pictures, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.

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