Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Jab we met at #BNLF...


First things first, this is my 100th blog post and I'm super glad that I've finally achieved the 3-figure mark, at-least somewhere other than book cricket (Ahh..I miss my childhood!). Now on a serious note, I'm grateful to all the people who inspired me throughout my blogging journey. I'm glad that I made some wonderful friends in the blogosphere and it's one place where I always feel dreamy because the readers are not biased and they understand and appreciate your qualities and criticize your shortcomings in a subtle way. Thanks to you all! :)



There are times when you feel thankful for things that you did correct in your life. Joining the blogging community, i.e. Indiblogger was one such decision that I took after contemplating for long and that has to go down as one of the wisest decisions that I ever made.  I hardly considered myself a blogger until I met some inspiring personalities on Indiblogger platform who started their journey just like I did. It was pretty inspiring indeed! And after hearing so much about the community and especially Indiblogger events/meet-ups, saying 'No' to it was never an option. I learned from people who shared their past experiences in the most insightful and interesting manner possible.



I attended my first Indi meet in February this year in Mumbai and O boy, it was one amazing experience! I don't know that when I'm going to attend the same in my city, Pune (as it seems the city is disowned by Indi team like a long lost child. Grrrr!). But I was still very excited to attend the events wherever and whenever possible. #BNLF came into picture with a grand announcement from the Indi team in the month of July. Blog Now Live Forever, a grand Meet-up of Indian Bloggers was first held at Mumbai (See, Indiblogger's affection for the 'Sapno ka sheher') in 2015. Since then, no other chapter was planned or executed until this year, in the month of November. It was held in Dehradun. Around 70-80 bloggers came from different corners of the country. Such was the zeal and passion! Bloggers developed a relationship with Indiblogger and among themselves over the years. For people who find it difficult to engage and interact with complete strangers, it's always a tough job, but when you meet like minded people it often becomes easy to make strong bonds. And the main motto of the meet-up was to connect and make friends from the virtual world.



 


A few days before the meet-up, some of the bloggers whom I knew were coming to the event had connected over the Watsapp group for planning what all to do in Doon for 2 days. The feel of #BNLF was well settled in after the Diwali vacations. We all were discussing places to roam around in Doon and also what to eat and where to shop etc. It was like a trip that I was planning with my school/college buddies, but here the case was pretty different. Most of us were meeting for the very first time and had never spoken on the phone either. But the excitement was on another level! I started from Pune late at night around 1am and reached Delhi at 3am. My train from Delhi to Dehradun was at 6am in the morning. So, I took some rest at the Delhi airport and boarded the first metro at 4:30am to New Delhi station. It was my first Metro ride! I met a few friends from our Watsapp group at the station itself. We were traveling together but in different coaches. Later, we found out that even the Indiblogger team was in the same train. We reached Dehradun at 2 pm and registration for BNLF was scheduled to start at 5:30 pm. The excitement was on such level that even after a tiring ride; most of us reached the venue i.e. 'Hotel Madhuban' at 5pm.



Though the registration didn't start on time, we all had a sorted agenda in mind to meet bloggers and get ourselves comfortable. I met a lot of bloggers whose blogs I read and have always admired their work. Also, when bloggers are around, you can never feel bored because everyone makes sense and talk sensibly. Even the age difference never appears to be a hurdle to interact with someone. It's like an ocean where you can reach out to anyone and have a nice little chat.




After the registration, it was time for a musical evening with Bobby Cash where he played the guitar and sang some beautiful English and Hindi songs. As soon as we finished the dinner, next on the agenda was to gather in a common hall for introductions and interaction. Anoop 'Breaker of Ice' (like Khaleesi 'Breaker of Chains') broke the ice in his usual witty style and made the atmosphere lively. For Indiblogger and us as its part, the camaraderie is what matters the most to each other. The love and warmth with which the Indi team treats each blogger is something beyond extraordinary. A lot was said during the event and people were criticized, but the Indi team dealt with everything in such Great Spirit that it left us in awe for their kindness. As soon as the introductions were finished, we left for our respective hotel rooms.





Next day, we started at 6:30 am from our hotels to reach the venue for the next thing on agenda i.e. 'The Ruskin Bond Walk'. Whenever we talk about Dehradun, one name that flashes out straight in the mind is of Sir Ruskin Bond. Ruskin Bond lived in Dehradun for a good period and had mentioned a lot about his childhood memories of Dehradun and related stories in his books. Indiblogger organized a walk for the bloggers with the 'Been There, Doon That' group that guided us to some of the places where Ruskin Bond have spent his childhood days.





After a refreshing early morning walk on the streets of Doon, we joined the Indiblogger team at Bikanerwala for Brunch. O God! We bloggers were hungry! Damn hungry by then! We all ordered almost everything mentioned on the menu to fill our tummies. After the sumptuous meal, we all had free time till evening to explore Dehradun. Our WA group had already planned the itinerary well in advance.





First place on our agenda was to visit the FRI (Forest Reasearch Institute) where many movies are shot. The architecture and unique museum were the highlights of the place. The British Architecture was quite significant and attractive. Because of the time crunch, we skipped a few museum galleries and headed to Mindrolling Monastery.




I had already visited a few monasteries in Gangtok and Darjeeling before, but Mindrolling monastery was quite different than other monasteries. The huge architecture and a picturesque forest in backdrop with Prayer Wheels and Stupa is a perfect location for filming a Bollywood/Hollywood scene. We spent some time at the monastery and had the famous Momo's of Dehradun in lunch. The next and final destination in our day's itinerary was Paltan Bazar for shopping. The bazaar was so crowded as if the whole Dehradun wanted to meet and greet us; instead they chose to push us. After a brief halt at Paltan, we left for our hotels to get freshened up for the evening event.




The #BNLF night officially started, but since there wasn't any set agenda on the chart, we chose to continue with all the networking and chit-chatting with friends we met a night before. Every single person was busy interacting with others and discussing about blogging, personal life, sports, politics and blah blah...It was nothing short of a college farewell setup where people were reminiscing about their good and not-so great days. When people were having serious discussions, I planned to skip the 'Bade logon ki baatein' and preferred to click people around.




As soon as we finished our dinner, we were asked to join other bloggers and Indi team to a hall inside the hotel. The event finally started with an intro to how Indiblogger and BNLF came into existence. A community that has more than 40k bloggers and the number is growing with each passing day. How the idea of building such a community was born and how the Indiblogger team made it BIG? All these facts were shared with the Indi Tribe. Soon after the Introduction, we were engaged in blogging-centric debate and some fun activities. We didn't even notice that when the time had passed and the event came to an end. It was already 2am and everyone was awake. After an enthralling two days in Doon, it was time to bid adieu to everyone. Though we had to leave the memories of those two days had imprinted in our hearts for a lifetime.

Source: Indiblogger

I never thought of making so many wonderful friends and memories for a lifetime; it all actually came as a bonus. Also, the experience of meeting new people and sharing great insights about blogging, life and work filled me with positivity. I will cherish all the memories of this trip forever!


Saturday, 28 October 2017

Make your Dream a Reality! #TATA99HomesFestival



Image Source

Home is where a person build dreams and make memories for a lifetime. There comes a time in every person’s life when a dream house is what one saves money for and a key milestone that makes you chase it. With cities growing day by day and crowd creeping in slowly; people often find it difficult to accept a rented home as their own. For working professionals there is only one thing that provide respite from the hustle and bustle of the city is when they reach their home and take a sound sleep under their own roof. It is that relaxing moment one lives for and create wonderful memories around to cherish later in life.

Now, the main question arises here is why it’s so hard these days to own a house in a well located area in the city? There is no specific answer to this question as the real estate market has no set standard in terms of value and trust. Trust is something that builds the reputation and keeps your faith alive. Buying a home is one of the toughest and most important decisions of life that a person takes. Being a working professional myself, I always look for options that gives me belief and shouldn’t impact much on pocket. In India, when it comes to ‘Trust’ there is one brand that is the most trusted in all sectors i.e. Tata. A Tata product comes with a standard and trust value that people often relate to easily. And what’s better when TATA offers something for those who want to build their home around a trusted brand. When I heard of TATA Value Homes,  the first thought that struck my mind was that it must be something really impressive as we don’t associate TATA with anything fishy. Also, the offerings adds up to customer satisfaction and a win-win situation for everyone. TATA Value Homes is offering unique options to customers with impressive budget friendly deals. All necessary and highly advanced amenities at jaw dropping prices is also a reason that makes it a really good option for genuine customers. People who really want to invest in or buy a house to fulfill their distant dream, this is surely one of the best and affordable offers to consider. Apart from its customer friendly options there is a unique ’99 Homes Festival’ which TATA is offering for a limited period. 


La Montana- TVH's Pune Project


‘99 Homes Festival’ comes with
99 Homes For
99 Hours With
99% Funding. And all this comes with great discounts; up to 19 Lakhs* (yes you heard it right) that vary from projects to projects across India. 

To learn more about #TATA99HomesFestival and their  properties and locations, one can visit and register on TATA Value Homes

The period to avail this exciting offer i.e. #TATA99HomesFestival is until 1st, November. Bookings will begin from 2nd, November.

TATA Value Homes is not only changing the landscape in the real estate sector but also changing lives of people by giving them the opportunity to buy a dream home for themselves. For a working professional like me, TATA not only gives a satisfaction but also assures that your dream is safe with them. 



Monday, 25 September 2017

A Beacon of Hope!

Painting By: Ayushi Jain


How many times does it happen that you look for something good in the world and people shatter your hopes and destroy the meaning of humanity?


I don't write on social issues usually but an incident that happened a day ago when I was traveling to Bhopal from Pune by Jhelum express, shocked me to the core. No, I was not the victim but it happened right in front of me. A girl who was in the berth next to me was harassed and photographed without any consent. It all started when we boarded the train from Pune.


What I like most about train journeys is that how we develop a skill to interact with complete strangers and also sometimes end up making lifelong friends. I didn't know that my perception about train journeys would ever change before taking this trip. It always takes time for me to initiate conversation with strangers and to get comfortable with fellow passengers. I was traveling to my hometown i.e. Bhopal. A girl on the opposite berth, who was traveling alone for the first time to her hometown Jhansi had no idea that someone was staring her. Since it was a long journey we started the conversation to kill time. One of the guys sitting on side lower berth joined our conversation and started talking nonsense. Well, I really don't want to disregard anyone here but that person was from the army and posted in Ladakh. We didn't want to interact with him because he was using false language and that too in front of kids and women. After some time he was joined with one of his batch mates and then left their seat for a while. Since the girl was from IT background, we had common interests to share our work-related experiences. Suddenly the friend of the guy appeared again and started interacting with us.He seemed to be a better person. Still, there were no signs of anything fishy that was about to happen in few minutes.



A family who was traveling to Delhi boarded from Ahmadnagar. They had 4 seats in our compartment. As soon as everyone got settled, one boy from the family noticed that the same person who was interacting with us before was clicking pictures of the girl and he conveyed the message to her. She asked me to check and confirm whether it was really happening or it was just a confusion. In just a split second after that, she saw her picture on his mobile thru the reflection in the window. She stood up and grabbed that person's mobile and there we noticed that he clicked many of her pictures and even shot a video. The girl was stunned and so was other people in the compartment. We decided to take this case further and to teach that deplorable person a lesson.


It was 9 pm already and TT was also no way near our bogie. Since I had seen some of the cases resolved over twitter by Indian rail ministry. I thought of dropping a tweet stating the train and passenger details to Indian rail ministry and to the rail minister himself. Within few minutes I received a response from the Indian rail ministry account and then later followed up by different regional DRM office and RPF team. It all happened in just a few minutes after sharing the tweet. As soon as we reached the next station i.e. kopargaon. Two RPF officers came and noted her complaint. Since, we already crossed a different DRM circle, on next station the complaint was transferred to the Bhusawal RPF team. They noted the complaint and then asked the girl if she wants to file a registered complaint? She was ready to take action against the guy but she was told that she might need to come to the police station or court to take this case ahead. Meanwhile, that guy pleaded guilty (in public) and was begging for mercy. She was traveling alone and didn't want to spoil a soldier's career/life. Hence, she decided to take the complaint back. The guy was shifted to a different bogie later on.












What I felt that she stood up against the monster rather bravely and didn't give up till the last. It was only the circumstances and her kindness that made her take the decision of leaving that guy. Though I didn't want to mention it but he was an army officer. We all respect our army men and one person cannot spoil the image of those who fight for us on the border and give us the reason to live our life rather peacefully.

Social media has gone to a different level now. I never experienced that in person before but this incident made me believe in digital revolution. Twitter is proving to be a revolution when it comes to approaching the government bodies for help. I hope this will lead to a better India in future. Also, one must always take a stand against people who take advantage of others. There is humanity still left in the world. I experienced it when everyone stood up for the brave girl and defended her. We need more such people to take this torch of humanity further in the generations to come. Hopefully, one day this world will become a better place to live.


Saturday, 9 September 2017

Omkareshwar- A sacred land of Shiva..



Omkareshwar Temple (in left)


After getting the taste of hundreds of years old historical places, we finally thought of coming out from the prehistoric era and delve ourselves into devotion of Lord Shiva. Yes, we finally reached the mystical land of Shiva i.e. Omkareshwar (one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines in India). It took us around 2 hours to reach Omkareshwar from Maheshwar. The road was fine and the distance was around 70km. It was a hectic day already and I seriously needed some energy for revival. And there couldn’t be a better place than Omkareshwar to redeem my being. The divinity in the air provided me the much-needed peace and calmness which I was looking for.

Walk over bridge

Lord Shiva

Sacred land of Shiva

A recap of where we started our journey from and what all we covered:

Bhopal → Dhar → Mandu → Maheshwar → Omkareshwar → Indore → Ujjain → Bhopal


We started from Maheshwar at 2 pm and reached Omkareshwar around 3:30-4 pm. Despite being a hectic day, my mother and father were still looking as refreshing as when we started from Mandu in the morning. Maybe, I was driving, hence the excuse can be considered, No? Though I won’t take away the fact that my parents are actually fitter and much more proactive than me. Well, the weather was comparatively good in Omkareshwar and that made our life much easier. The cool breeze had a lot of good vibes and a sense of welcome to the humble abode of Lord Shiva. There are two main temples of Lord Shiva, one is on the island i.e. Omkareshwar temple and other on the mainland i.e. Mamleshwar. Many say that Mamleshwar is the actual Jyotirlinga as it is stated in the sloka on Dwadash Jyotirlingam. But despite all the contradiction over the main jyotirlinga, most people consider both temples as equally sacred.

Omkareshwar Palace

Shops en route to Omkareshwar Temple

Keyrings and Lockets

Omkareshwar temple is situated on the island in the Narmada River. So, there are two ways to reach the island, either by boat or by walk over the bridge (well connected to the island). We started walking from the parking point and crossed the Narmada River through the bridge. Some people also prefer to go by boat but that requires more time. Since we had to complete the darshan before evening, we opted to walk. It hardly takes 20-25 min to reach the main temple if it’s not the peak season. During Shivratri, the same 20-25 min walk turns into hours. 

Flowers, Garlands, and Prasad

Colors of Sanctity

En-route to temple, one can also find many shops along the street selling Pooja related articles. As we reached the temple, we deposited our shoes/sandals at the shoe stand. Luckily, there were hardly 20-30 people standing in the queue for darshan. Hence, there was no pushing and all to make the experience unpleasant. We completed the darshan and sat in the temple for some time. All the positive energy that was flowing in the air embarked our journey from thoughts to wisdom. It was blissful! After spending much needed peaceful time in the temple, we left for the Mamleshwar temple. Also, to add there is a Gufa (Cave) Mandir ‘Govindeshwar Gufa’ near the entry gate of Omkareshwar Temple. It’s believed that Aadi Shankaracharya took yog lekh shiksha (Education) from his Guru Govind Bhagvad in Omkareshwar. And the place where Guru Govind Bhagvad used to live was a gufa (cave), now known as Govindeshwar Gufa Mandir.

Abhishek to Lord Shiva

Gomukh Ghat

View from the Omkareshwar Temple

Mamleshwar temple is situated in the heart of the city. It can also be seen from the Island where Omkareshwar temple is located. Mamleshwar temple was earlier named Amleshwar in the 10th century during Parmara period. Not only it looks older than the Omkareshwar temple but it also has beautiful pre historic carved sculptures on the structure of the temple. People in Omkareshwar consider both the temples on island and mainland as jyotirlinga. So, if you ask anyone for the directions, first they will ask you which jyotirlinga you want to visit? I was a bit confused when I heard it for the first time. My father then explained me the whole story that why the locals consider both places as equally sacred. Well, the questions were answered. Hence, we went ahead for the darshan. Comparatively, the Mamleshwar temple was less crowded than the Omkareshwar temple. There was hardly any queue for darshan and in no time we reached the inner sanctum.

Mamleshwar Temple

One of the temples at Mamleshwar shrine

Sculptures at Mamleshwar Temple

The whole experience of visiting the greatly revered place like Omkareshwar was quite enchanting. I was really happy that I visited this place and realized a great deal about how we are ruining our lives in big cities, running after things that are materialistic in nature. It’s true that some trips make memories for a lifetime! This was one such trip. :)

City of Temples

Do you want to take a boat ride?

Best Season...

July to March


Where to Stay...

Narmada Resort (MP Tourism).


How to reach Omkareshwar via Mandu and Maheshwar from Bhopal...

Bhopal → Sehore → Dewas → Indore → Pithampur → Dhar → Mandu → Dhamnod → Maheshwar  → Barwaha → Omkareshwar
 




Previous Posts from this trip:

Hidden Gems of Madhya Pradesh - Dhar 

Mandu - A place that resonates with history.. 

Walk the talk with city of Maheshwar...



I'm taking my Alexa rank to next level with BlogChatter #MyFriendAlexa.




Thursday, 31 August 2017

Walk the talk with city of Maheshwar...

Ahilya Fort and Ghat


I haven't been writing much lately and the series of posts (from the last year road trip) which I had to complete a long back are still pending. Though it's difficult to recollect everything, I'm trying to post at-least what I have remember from the trip.


A colorful house on the street


About Maheshwar...

In the last post, I shared my experiences of my visit to Mandu. The trip was planned well in advance and we were going as per the plan, so the next place in our itinerary was one of the oldest cities of Madhya Pradesh i.e. Maheshwar. Maheshwar is located at a distance of 40-45 km approx from Mandu. It used to be known as Mahishmati and mentioned in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata under its old name. Does the name ring a bell? Mahishmati from the epic 'Bahubali' series. Well, if you have started relating things then please don't go further and pull back your thoughts. It ain't the same Mahishmati but the city has great significance in the Indian history.

Doorway

Maheshwar is situated on the banks of the holy river Narmada. It's a small town but is known for many great things.In the 18th century, Holkar Queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore revived the soul of the city and shifted the Holkar capital from Indore to Maheshwar. Under her reign, the city witnessed a great transformation; a lot of buildings were built and public works were completed. Since Ahilyabai was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, she built many temples and ghats across the country, including the Lord Shiva Temple on the ghats of Narmada. The temple has astounding architecture and since it's built adjacent to the Ahilya Fort, the view one gets from the top of the fort is surreal.

Temples on the Maheshwar Ghat

One of the many temples along the ghats of Narmada

Ahilyeshwar Temple (Top View)

Now, a recap of where we started our journey from and what all we covered. Here's the itinerary-


Bhopal → Dhar → Mandu → Maheshwar → Omkareshwar → Indore → Ujjain → Bhopal


Ahilyeshwar Temple

Our Journey...


Our plan was quite tight and we had to cover the remaining monuments in Mandu then Maheshwar and Omkareshwar on the same day. Therefore, we started early and reached Maheshwar at twelve noon. Though it was winter season, the sun was belching fire.We all were hungry and tired. I thought it would be better to fill the tummy first and then explore the ghat and temples. While I was parking the car my father noticed a board alongside road:  'Shudh Saatvik Pavitra Bhojan' and the rest I'm unable to recollect that what all I ate that day. I was hungry like a Sher - 'Bhooka Sher'. :P 
And the feeling of  'Bhagwan sabke dil ki baat sunte hai' was proved 100% true!!




 
Carved artwork on the doorway


After the meal, we walked down to the Ahilyeshwar Temple and spent some time at the Ghat. Since it was quite hot we couldn't manage to take the boat ride.


Apart from the majestic Ahilyeshwar Temple, there is a Chhatri (Cenotaph) of Vithoji adjacent to the temple in the precincts of the Maheshwar Fort. The artwork on the Chhatri (Cenotaph), Temple, Jharokhe, Windows, Overhanging balconies and Doorways tells a great story about the place and the artisans employed for carving spectacular designs on the Windows and Doorways of Fort.  Devi Ahilyabai had a great vision and all the works completed in her reign proves that.




Chhatri of Vithoji Rao Holkar


Entrance of Ahilyeshwar temple


After visiting the temple, we went on to visit the Rajgaddi and Rajwada (of Devi Ahilyabai) built within the Fort complex. Within the complex, there are other collectibles of the Holkar Dynasty that are kept in other rooms for public display.

As we had to leave for Omkareshwar the same day, we started from Maheshwar at 2 pm. Maheshwar is also very famous for Maheshwari Silk and Cotton Sarees, so before leaving my mother did some shopping and then we left for the holy city of Omkareshwar.


Carved overhanging balconies and the doorway

 



Also, it would be wrong if I do not mention that Maheshwar is one of the few cities of Madhya Pradesh that has attracted the Film Industry many-a-times. There are many movies and TV shows that have been shot in Maheshwar. Ashoka, Yamla Pagla Deewana, Tevar, Bajirao Mastani and Jhansi Ki Rani to name a few.

 
Royal Palace


Devi Ahilyabai's statue

Maheswari Sarees


Best Season... 

July to February


Where to stay...


Narmada Retreat (MP Tourism)


How to reach Maheshwar via Mandu from Bhopal...

Bhopal → Sehore → Dewas → Indore → Pithampur → Dhar → Mandu → Dhamnod → Maheshwar






Previous Posts from this trip: 

Hidden Gems of Madhya Pradesh - Dhar 

Mandu - A place that resonates with history..  

 




Note: Few details have been taken as a reference from Incredible Madhya Pradesh.


I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter #MyFriendAlexa.  My current Alexa rank is 24,75,895.