Our Heritage

Blog about Heritage, Monuments, Ruins and much more…

Archive for the month “July, 2008”

Ekasham Shailkritya Mandir Samooh, Masroor

Ekasham Shailkritya Mandir Samooh, or the Rock Cut Temples of Masroor, Kangra are one of the most magnificent temples I ever visited. It is an outstanding example of monolithic temples in Himalyan region. The entire complex comprises of more than 15 temple shikhars and a large water pond. The beauty of this place is that everything here has been craved out of sand stone rocks. There was a huge hill, and people of 8th or 9th Century, beautifully carved that hill into a series of temples.

Masroor-Temple

Unfortunately, this entire complex was destroyed in a very major earthquake, that almost devastated entire Kangra valley in 1905. Archeological Survey of India has tried its best to save this place. In 1914, this place was declared as a national monument.

Masroor-Temple-back

You can find debris of this majestic Temple all around the complex. One can image, how beautiful this place might be around 1200 years ago, when people were not advance enough to work on such huge projects. This could have been the wonder of that time.

It is a real sad thing to see this nice place destroyed due to earthquake .

Masroor-Temple-Thakurdwara In the center of the complex, stands the principal and the most elaborately carved shrine, the thakurdwara, enshrining the black stone image of lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, facing east. I must mention that at this place, I saw the largest lizard in my life. I first thought it to be a small Comodo Dragon, but later realized that it is just a large himalyan species from lizard family.

Masroor-Inside_Temple

This place is few Km away from the main Kangra City. It lies in a village called Masroor. It took us around 2-3 hours to reach there from McLeodganj (Dharamshala) by car. We passed the Main Kangra Bus Stop and Kangra Airport on way to this place.

Masroor-Temple-Climb Masroor-Temple-inside Masroor-Temple-side

Masroor-Temple-History

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Brentwood Sanctuary, Mussourrie

Moving from Mussourrie towards Kempty Fall, half way down you will find a road diverting to Lake Myst. Far on that road, go about 2 Km on this narrow rough path, and you will see a nice lonely building surrounded by high hills on 3 sides. If you check this nice place on Google earth, you will find that it is surrounded by famous places on all sides. On its east, is he Mussourrie Hill Station, On the north, is the Kempty Fall, towards west is Jwala Devi’s temple and to its south, is the house of famous Sir George Everest, the surveyor general of India, after whom, Mt. Everest was named.

 Brentwood-Sanctuary

This plot has road on two sides, and fresh water stream on other two sides. This water stream becomes Kempty fall after 3 Km.

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Brentwood-Sanctuary-4 The water stream is covered totally with trees and greenery, thus giving a feel of amazon. You can spend hours and hours at this place and no one will ever disturb you thus making this place lonely and peaceful. Guys who own this place also arrange for various activities at their premise. Usually companies and tour groups hire this sanctuary for outdoor camping and picnics. Scenic views out here are outstanding.

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I have been there many times. This place gives me peace because I feel that I am totally away from entire world, and relaxing in the heart of nature.

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Kemty-River-1Last, I went couple of months back with my family. Trust me, this is one place that you must go and you should go there with family. Because no matter where you picnic, you are always disturbed by one or other factor. But this place guarantees total peace. When we reached there, it was very hot, but in minutes, it started raining. After one hour, when we opened the window of our room, we were surprised to see that the grass has turned white because of snowfall. But this didn’t lasted for even 30 mins. Then we went out for trekking on hills and had fun in the water stream running along the wall of this place.

If you need any information regarding Brentwood Sanctuary, feel free to ask me. I will guide you to this untouched heaven.

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Galu Devi Temple, near Dharamkot

Galu-Devi-Temple

I went there in 2007. When you start from McLeodganj towards dharamkot, you will find a pleasant scenic view. Soon you will reach Dharamkot, which is a really nice place to be. You cross dharamkot and reach at a height of 2130 mts. and find yourself in a ridge covered with high trees and hills. A small temple of Galu Devi stands there. This is the place, where vehicles stop, and a tough journey of Triund starts. This time, we came back from Galu Devi, but I hope, that next time, I will reach Triund. Here are few pics from this nice small place…

At-Galu-Devi-Hill At-Galu-Devi-Temple

McLeodganj-from-Galu-DeviThis picture is of McLeodganj, as it is seen from Galu Devi Hill top

On-Way-to-Galu-Devi-TempleAh, picture I took on way to Dharamkot. The road is very narrow, but it is a different experience all together. You will surely love it.

Takht Sri Kesgarh, Anadpur

I love this place…

I am talking about the holy place, where Khalsa commune was born in 1699. 10th spiritual master of sikhs turned entire sikh community to Khalsa, which was a warrior commune. Today, there stands the mighty takht, called Gurudwara Sri Kesgarh Sahib.

Kesgarh-night

Anadpur City is called the White City. It is a very nice place to visit in Punjab, India. Festival of Baisakhi is very popular in north India. It was the baisakhi of 1699 AD, when 10th Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee formed the khalsa by baptizing 5 of his disciples. The city of Anandpur was founded by Guru Gobind Singh Jee’s father, the 9th Guru of Sikhs, Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Jee in 1665. The land was purchased by guru jee on May 13th, 1665, guru purchased this land from the queen of bilaspur, Rani Champa on a payment of Rupees 500. Soon, Baba Gurditta Jee, whose gurudwara is also nearby, helped raise this village, which at that time was known as chakk nanki (on name of mother of guru nanak). Later this place was known as Anadpur Sahib.

Kila-Anandgarh You can find several gurudwaras in here. And there is one fort, known as Qila Anandgarh Sahib. This is very solid fortification on a hill top, that is safe from enemy. This place saw many valor combats. A very famous episode of Bhai Ghannaiya Jee also happened nearby. Bhai Ghannaiya Jee offered water to enemy soldiers who were dying of thirst in battle field. When he was reported to gurujee, Bhai Ghannaiya said “Oh lord, I can’t make a difference between our soldiers and enemies because for me, everyone is all mighty’s child and I see your face in everyone”. Guru Jee was very happy with this and rewarded him.

Takht-Kesgarh-(Front) Takht-Kesgarh

This is the main complex, the Takht Kesgarh Sahib gurudwara, where Khalsa was born in 1699. Inside gurudwara, you will find all weapons of Guru Gobind Singh Jee, and the Ranjit Nagara, the largest drum that was used in war days.

In 1999, when sikhim celebrated 300 years of formation of khalsa, almost every sikh from around the world reached kesgarh. I also went there in form of a procession. All the namdharis reached at kesgarh in cars, jeeps, busses, bikes or whatever moe they found. We were covering entire road in white color and there were thousands of us. Our huge fleet was welcomed with song…

“Jee Ayan Nu, Jee Ayan Nu, Guru Gobind Singh De Jaiyan Nu”

Means, welcome, oh sons of guru gobind singh.

Hola mahallah of Anadpur Sahib is most famous. The festival of holi (Holla Mahalla) is celebrated with a difference in here. You can see Nihung Warriors gathering from all over country and showing their martial art and fighting skills. You can see warriors riding many horses at a time, or fighting with dozens of soldiers alone.

And how can I miss the beautiful view of Naina Devi Temple from gurudwara. In night, you can see lights of Naina Devi temple from this gurudwara, which in itself is a mesmerizing feel. A little ahead of Anadpur, the is Nangal Barriage, which is a part of Bhakhra Nangal Project. Entire area is green and so silent and peaceful, that it will almost hypnotize you.

Don’t miss this place.

Bhagsu Fall (McLeodganj-Dharamshala)

BhagsuFall Ah, finally I got a chance to write about this mesmerizing place. It is far from the road, but still attracts several tourists. However, most tourists stop at the beginning of journey and find themselves happy with the downstream in foots of fall. Very few try to climb to rocks and reach the heart of Bhagsu Fall.

I have made it a point that whenever I go to McLeodganj, I visit this remote place. It is roughly 2-3 KM. from the town. We easily get taxi or rikshaw to there, but I prefer walking along the road.

OnWayToBhagsu My best two visits to this place were with my friend Vinay and with my cousin Satpal. We had real fun. The trekking from McLeodganj to Bhagsu is very interesting in itself. You continuously get a view of Kangra valley as the hill is facing towards Dharamshala. When me, Vinay and one of our other friend were traveling on this lonely road, we found several nice spots to stop and click. There are very small tea stalls and snack shops after every few short while.

Bhagsu-Gate Once you cross the small market of Bhagsu Village, you will find yourself at a gate built by Army. Next to it is Lord Shiva’s Temple. When you cross the temple, you will find yourself at  a small water pond, and people bathing in the cold water.

BhagsuWaterPond

Once you cross this Water Pond, you will see a very beautiful scene, that will hold you there for a long time. Fall is at distance, and the way is breathtaking.

BhagsuFall_Distant

BhagsuFall_PathWe had real fun while climbing up the rocks through that small path constructed several years back. Stones on that path keep slipping into deep trench. This path is not for weak people, or for those who fear height. But let me tell you, it is not difficult to climb it. Its just that you need a little courage and energy.

Once you reach the heart of water fall, you find crystal clear water, with green shadow from trees all around it. Water is very cold and so wonderful, that you can spend several hours in it. In-fact, the journey will make you so much tired that you will find this water to be the most precious reward you were working for.

BhagsuFall-2 A_Must_Do_Thing Vinay_in_Water

When you are done with the cold effect, the best thing to do is to have a bowl of maggi noodles Happy or a cup of nice coffee.

MaggiNoodles MaggiTime

Bhagsu Now look at this picture. The hut vinay is pointing to is actually more than 1 Km. away from this place and it is where you start you trekking.

After that point, you won’t find anything to eat or drink unless you reach the top. When you reach Bhagsu Fall, the broken path vanishes completely, and you have to climb couple of rocks to reach the top.

BhagsuRocks

But this easy climbing is more interesting then entire journey. The only problem is when you start back because you are already so tired, and after this long rest, you feel like sleeping. You are not in a position to climb back. But there is no choice, and you must walk your way back through those same rocks and cover the long path.

In a nutshell, this is an indispensable place for tourists.

Happy Voyage

Tea Garden at Dharamshala

Beside Palampur, the Tea Gardens of Dharamshala are very famous in Himachal Region. I have made several trips to McLeodganj, the residence of H.H. Dalai Lama. Consider this post to be first part of description of Dharamshala and McLeodganj.

TeaGarden1

When you head for McLeodganj from Dharamshala through the long route (not from the shortcut that goes from within the market), you will find a very wide elbow turn. On the edge, there is a sign board of the Tea Plantation of Dharamshala. At 10 mins. walking distance, you will reach a place, covered with dense green leaves and filled with magnificent aroma of fresh tea. I have been there twice. One with my cousin, and other with one of my best friends Vinay.

TeaGarden2 TeaGarden3

Tea gardens here are not as wide spread as Assam or other North-East states, but they surely are nice enough to keep you busy for hours. Imagine small rocks in between and slope slanting towards a nice green trench. The steps of hill will take your breath.

TeaGarden4 TeaGarden5

TeaGarden6 I have decided that I will go there again on my next trip. When I went there last time, I was coming from Company Garden at Dharamshala, and moving towards Naddi. These two are also very mesmerizing places, that I will elaborate in my future posts. Dharamshala surely has many spots for tourists. Places around Dharamshala and McLeodganj can keep you busy for months. Several tourists are hanging out in these hills for years, and never even think of going back to their native countries.

This is one must visit place

Qutub Complex, Delhi

QutubMinarI have been to Qutub Minar many times. But the trip of October 2006 was different. This time, I went with a idea in mind to find some historical evidence. I was told that Prithvi Raj Chauhan built several Temples, and muslim rulers destroyed them to build the Qutub Minar. “I FOUND THIS TO BE TRUE”

Qutub Minar Stands as a Mighty tower as the main monument in entire Qutub Complex, which actually comprises of Quwwat-Ul-Islam Mosque, the Alai Gate, the Alai Minar and the Iron Pillar. Out of these, the Mosque was built by destroying 27 previous jain temples built by Prithvi Raj Chauhan. You can find partly defaced holy statues everywhere in the complex.

 

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Here is some information from www.wikipedia.com on this Mosque

Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque (Might of Islam) (also known as the Qutb Mosque or the Great Mosque of Delhi) was built by Qutb-ud-din Aybak, founder of the Mamluk or Slave dynasty. The mosque construction started in the 1190s when Aibak was the commander of Muhammad Ghori‘s garrison occupied Delhi. The mosque is said to be built by the parts taken by destruction of twenty-seven Hindu and Jain temples. Historical records compiled by Muslim historian Maulana Hakim Saiyid Abdul Hai attest to the iconoclasm of Qutb-ud-din Aybak. The first mosque built in Delhi, the “Quwwat al-Islam” was built after demolishing the Jain temple built previously by Prithvi Raj and leaving certain parts of the temple outside the mosque proper. This pattern of iconoclasm was common during his reign, although an argument goes that such iconoclasm was motivated more by politics than by religion. It was the first mosque built in Delhi after the Islamic conquest of India and the best surviving example of Ghurid’s architecture.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qutb_complex#Quwwat_ul-Islam_Mosque

IronPillar There are other monuments in this complex like the Iron Pillar, which was constructed by King Vikramaditya. This is the only remaining piece of a jain temple, that was not destroyed by Qutub-Ud-Din-Aibak. There was a rumor that if you can hold your hands together around the pillar, while your back touches the pillar, you will get good luck. I did this long ago, but now Archeological Department has constructed a fence around this pillar. There is some inscription on this pillar (Obviously I was not able to understand even a single word out of it D)

There is another rumor, which I can’t confirm is true or not, because I never found any evidence to same. They say, that the Qutub Minar itself is a marvelous architecture from ancient India, and stood long before Qutub-Ud-Din-Aybak came there. This minar was actually a huge apparatus to know the planetary motions. It has a specific number of circular and angular sides that represent different planets. At fixed distance from this minar, there were spots/stones from where astrologers were able to calculate position of any planet just by the shadow of minar. When Qutub-Ud-Din Aybak came, he simply removed all the stones and turned them inside out, and got sayings from holy Qurran  inscribed on it. But again, I just heard this rumor from someone, and would love to learn more about it, is someone has any information.

The top two stories of Qutub Minar were destroyed way back in last decade of 20th century when an airplane crashed into it.

AlaiMinar Beside Qutub Minar, there is another unfinished minar within this complex. This is called Alai Minar. It was supposed to be double the height of Qutub Minar. But after the death of Ala ud din Khilji, the founder of Khilji Dynasty, who started this minar, the construction was stopped. Today, the only constructed 24.5 meter high first stands. It was a real fun climbing into it and jumping to the higher levels.

I get a chance to see Qutub Minar ever 2-3 weeks now from outside as I have to go to meet clients, and this minar lies on way. It still stands in the same majestic manner, as it stood several centuries ago.

The Kangra Fort

10th February 2007, I celebrated by 24th birthday at a very nice place, that has been ruled by rulers like Mohd. Ghazni, Mohd.Tughlaq, Firoz Shah, Jahangir, Katoch Kings, Raja Sansar Chand, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and finally Queen Victoria. I am talking about the Fort of Trigarta (now known as Kangra).

Kangra-Fort

Trigarta (Kangra) was one of the most powerful hill state of Punjab, and this fort made it undefeatable. Entire kangra valley is occupying the lower parts of Beas and its tributaries and during pre-mohammadan period, it made a part of kingdom of Jalandhar (Punjab Empire). The Kangra Fort is renowned for its strength, stability, strong fortification and impregnability. The walls stand upwards covering a 4 KM circuit, occupying a long narrow strip between Ban Ganga and Manjhi rivers. The cliff along the wall is 300 feet deep.

Kangra-Fort-(river1) Kangra-Fort-(river2) Kangra-Fort-(river3)

Kangra-Fort-(Entry)The only entrance to Fort is from the city side, and that too is very narrow for anyone to pass without encountering hidden soldiers. The long pathway is also having enough room for small army divisions to hide after every few meters.

Kangra-Fort-(Path)

This fort has nice engravings on all walls and has a small temple also inside. Besides, there is a big temple at the City Entrance.

Kangra-Fort-(temple) Kangra-Fort-(top)

Unfortunately this place was destroyed in early 1900 due to a massive earthquake, that destroyed entire Kangra Valley. There are several debris and broken walls that you can see. But this fort still stands as the crown of Kangra.

If you are visiting this place, don’t miss the museum at the foot of fort.

Sobha Singh’s Art Gallery

Sir Sobha Singh is a renowned artist in sikh community. His paintings of sikh gurus are most famous. He was born on 29th November, 1901 at Sri Hargobindpur, Gurdaspur in the family of a Ramgharia Soldier named S. Deva Singh. He himself server british army in baghdad and mesopotamia (now iraq). After independence, he came to Himachal. In 1949, he settled at Andretta near Palampur in Kangra Valley of Himachal, India.

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(Residence of S. Sobha Singh at Andretta, Palampur. The street is called S. Sobha Singh Marg)

 

Prithvi-Raj-Kapoor

His murals are displayed at the Indian Parliament. Once of his creations is gracing his residence’s entrance…

(Prithvi Raj Kapoor, created by S. Sobha Singh)

 

 

 

Guru-Nanak

His most famous painting include Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal and Sikh Gurus. All his work is shown in his little house, that his daughter is now taking care of. One of his paintings, that is now no where to be found was once painted by my dad, when he saw it in a news paper. Unique thing about this picture is that in this, guru nanak is not wearing a turban. Instead, he is having a selli topi on his head. Most sikhs may not be pleased with this picture, but we must not forget the fact that Guru Nanak actually blended into the place where he went. He dressed like locals and gave gurbani in the local language.

 

When we reached Sobha Singh’s Art Gallery, after crossing mesmerizing tea gardens of Palampur and heavenly valley of Kangra, we were greeted by S. Sobha Singh’s Daughter, who now takes care of her father’s work. She was very kind to show us his work. There is a room full of this original work and a live size statue of him. There is one unfinished painting with a color dipped dry brush in his bed room. On the wall, hangs his honor, that President Giani Zail Singh gave him. I don’t remember if it was Bharat Ratan or Padma Bhushan.

I saw some really nice things in there, and recommend all art lovers to visit this mecca of artists.

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