Durga Puja @ Durgapur’15- A different aspect of devotion

Siuli Flowers Declaring the arrival of Durga Puja
Siuli Flowers Declaring The Arrival of Durga Puja

As Ma Durga visits her father’s home from Kailash, Durgapur, the city named after the Goddess, begins the celebrations. If you want to experience the real feel of Durga Puja without suffering from suffocation and crowd, visit Durgapur.

Idol Making At The Eve Of Durga Puja
Idol Making At The Eve Of Durga Puja

As the tiny ‘siuli’ blossoms to fall like droplets on the dew drenched grass and the green fields are blanketed by white ‘kash’ flowers, Durgapur wakes up to celebrate the largest festival of the Bengalis, Durga Puja. Durga Puja at this smart city means gorgeous idols of the Goddess, glittering puja pandals, colourful fairs and an occasion to relish delicious platters.

The Gorgeous Devi Idol
The Gorgeous Devi Idol

The complete city of Durgapur rejoices the festival of Durga Puja. Most of the puja done at this city are ‘barwari’ pujas, that is, pujas organized publicly by different residential areas, popularly known as ‘parar poojo’.

Parar Poojo
Parar Poojo

Durga Pujas at this city are also influenced by the trend of theme pujas and you will find spectacular puja pandals here, encircled with astounding scenic beauty. The local artists do not leave any stone unturned to transform the mere pandals into exquisite temples of worship; innovative, perfect and artistic.

Spectacular Puja Pandals
Spectacular Puja Pandals

The deities of Goddess Durga found at these puja pandals are epitome of elegance. Every idol is different from the other, depicting the mythological tales lying behind this festival. While some deities are in the form of tribal idols, others are the varied incarnations of the Goddess of Power.

Different Incarnations of Goddess Durga
Different Incarnations of Goddess Durga

If you want to meet the crowd of the city, visit the joyous fairs of Durgapur. Simplicity is beauty; this is the untold theme of the fairs of the Steel City. From the delicately designed handicrafts of West Bengal to the day to day home products, from the tinkling sound of glass bangles to the exciting rides, these fairs are a world in themselves.

Colourful Puja Fairs
Colourful Puja Fairs

Now, Indian festivals are incomplete without lip smacking cuisines and Durga Puja is not an exception. There are numerous food joints throughout the city where you can relish authentic Bengali to Mughali cuisines, from Chinese to Continental dishes. All the five days of the puja people out here forget about diets and calories and treat themselves with crunchy papri chats, spicy and steaming hot ‘ghoogni,’ delicious egg chicken rolls; gulping ‘puchkas’ and devouring on ‘malai’ ice creams marks the conclusion of a hearty feast.

Puja Delicacies
Puja Delicacies

Students and the working mass of Durgapur who spend most of the year outside the city, are seem flocking to their hometown to spend some time with their childhood pals, parents and loved ones. Hence, Durga Puja is just not another festival to the locals; it is a celebration of life overlooking all flaws of life.

BIdding Goodbye to the Goddess
Bidding Goodbye To The Goddess

Durga Puja- The Celebration of Life

Durga Puja is considered as one of the largest festivals in India. Be it West Bengal or any other part of India or world, Durga Puja has a special place in the hearts of Indians.

Traditional Idol
Traditional Idol

This festival is celebrated with great pomp and show at West Bengal. As the puffy clouds start floating at the autumn sky, milky white ‘kash’ flowers cover the green fields and the
aroma of dew drenched shiuli fill the air, nature announces the arrival of the Goddess, Devi Durga.

Durga Puja
Blissful Nature At Puja

The Durga Puja that we celebrate at the month of September or October; is the puja the Lord Rama did prior to his fight with Ravana. Sasti, Saptami, Asthami, Navami and Dusherra are the five days when goddess Durga is worshipped at Bengal.

Lord Rama Worshipping Devi Durga
Lord Rama Worshipping Devi Durga

Durga Puja is just not the worship of the goddess of power; it is the divine joy of reunion of parents with their children, friends, sisters and brothers, who spent the whole year at an unknown land and return to their soil during the puja. Hence, if you peep at the interiors of any Bengali family during the puja, you will find groups of people chit chatting, forgetting the world; popularly known as ‘adda.’

Durga Puja Adda
Durga Puja Adda

With time, Durga Puja has also gained momentum and the concept of theme puja has given a different edge to it. As you enterany puja pandal, you will feel as if you are entering an historic site; most of the puja pandals now-a-days are replica of historic monuments, like Khajuraho temple, Konark temple and many more.

Themed Durga Puja
Colourful Durga Puja Themes

The colourful lighting enhances the beauty of the puja pandals and also portrays different facets of life. The puja committees spend lavishly on the idols and the pandals to be the best of the town; there are several prestigious awards given at the end of the puja to the best puja, pandals and lighting. Thus, the traditional Durga Puja has also not been able to avoid the sting of competition and rat race.

Colurful deities
Ecstatic Beauty of Devi Durga

Shopping is an indispensable component of Durga Puja. Shopping starts much before the festival, as people of all ages start preparing themselves; everyone wants to greet Mother Durga in their best attire.

Crazy Shopping Crowd
Crazy Shopping Crowd

Last but not the least; Durga Puja is the best time to relish authentic Bengali cuisines. During this festive season, the day at a Bengali house starts with a lip smacking breakfast menu of piping hot luchi, aloo dum and rajbhog, the lunch and dinner is sumptuous with steaming hot rice or pulao, varied fish items and spicy mutton curry.

Puja Platter
Puja Platter

Bengalis are in love with street food and hence near every puja pandal you will surely find numerous food stalls, selling egg and chicken rolls, chaats and puchkas. Sweets have a special place is the hearts of the Bengalis and hence are a must in the festive season. Barfi, nariyal and besan ladoo, rasamalai, rasgullas are to name a few.

Street Food Fiesta
Street Food Fiesta

Durga Puja hence is just not a religious occasion, it is a time when people from all walks of life revive from the daily stresses and spend some moments of pure happiness and life.

Durga Puja Crowd
Durga Puja Crowd

A spiritual journey to Deoghar

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Deoghar, the cultural capital of Jharkhand, is a gem of Incredible India. If you are looking for a short weekend trip, you can visit this city, encircled by green hills and free-flowing rivers. The place is easily accessible via train and roadways.

Natural Beauty of Deoghar
Natural Beauty of Deoghar

Deoghar is a pilgrimage for the Lord Shiva devotees. Throughout the holy month of “Sawan” devotees in saffron attire carry water from the sacred Ganges, at Sultanganj to the Baidyanath Dham to worship the Lord; the temple is known to house one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Baidyanath Dham is of great mythological significance as Lord Ravana worshiped Lord Shiva here to gain supreme power.

Baidyanath Dham
Baidyanath Dham

You can visit the temple on rickshaws or enjoy a rare ‘tanga’ ride, that is, a ride on rickshaws pulled by ponies. Time seems to revert to the old days as the ‘tangas’ move through the narrow lanes of Deoghar.

Before entering the temple you can bath in the pious and cool waters of Shiv Ganga; the temple complex is at the banks of this river. There are adjoining shops where puja offerings can be purchased; the priests of Baidyanath Dham, popularly known as ‘panda’ guide tourists into the temple to offer puja. Be ready for chaos as you enter the temple.

Besides the Shiva temple there are 21 other temples at Baidyanath Dham, temples of goddess Parvati, Kal Bhairab, goddess Kali and others; the deities are sculpted from black stone. There are many photographers here assisting tourists to capture the memorable moments with Baidyanath Dham at the backdrop. If you want to avoid chaos and crowd you can visit the Basukinath Temple, at Dumka, just 40 km from Deoghar. This shrine is also dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Baskinath Temple
Basukinath Temple

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Get a glimpse of the simple lifestyle of sages at Tapoban.  Surrounded by dense forests, this is an ideal place for meditation. There are several temples here where puja offerings are of beads.

Tapoban
Tapoban

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Trikut Pahar is a paradise for trekkers. This majestic hill is visible from a distance as a green landmark of Deoghar. The Trikut Hills is the natural habitat for monkeys. If trekking is not your cup of tea, opt for the ropeways to reach the peak. It is a thrilling experience as you pass over the rocky hills and mottled greenery.

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Rock Art @ Trikut
Rock Art @ Trikut

Naulakha Mandir is often visited by locals and tourists. Constructed with a lump sum 9 lakhs by Queen Charushila, this amazing architecture resembles the Belur Math temple of Kolkata. Dedicated to Radha and Krishna, the temple is decorated with breathtaking sculptures.

Naulakha Temple
Naulakha Temple

Girls cannot resist wearing the multi-colored beautiful bangles sold at the streets of Deoghar. You can also checkout the rare antiques available at the Government store of Santhal handicrafts, located near Baidyanath Dham.

Colourful Deoghar

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Colourful Deoghar

If you are visiting Deoghar at ‘Sawan,’ you can have only vegetarian food here. From hot and soft rasgullas, cool and creamy rabri to refreshing lassi, you can satisfy your sweet tooth here. The aroma of mouthwatering pera floats in the air of Deoghar.

Deoghar Sweets
Deoghar Sweets

Hence drive to Deoghar this weekend to redefine your way of living.

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The unification of heaven and humanity-Dakhineshwar

Located at the outskirts of Kolkata, Dakhineshwar used to be a small village. Dating back to the 19th century, when British ruled India, the Dakhineshwar Temple was built by the reverent and fearless queen of Kolkata, Rani Rashmoni, as a fulfillment of her dream.

Dakhineshwar Temple
Dakhineshwar Temple

Temple Premises
Temple Premises

The deity of goddess Kali worshiped here is known as ‘Bhavatarini,’ meaning the ultimate power which can release the soul from the cycle of birth and death. Dakhineshwar temple was also the seat of the great preacher of universal brotherhood, Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa.

Bhavatarini Idol
Goddess Bhavatarini

This popular Hindu pilgrimage is located at the banks of the sacred Ganges and people are often seen bathing in the cool river waters before offering ‘puja’ at the temple. As per folklore, a bath in the pious Ganges can wash away all sins of life.

Bathing Ghat- Dakhineshwar
Bathing Ghat of Dakhineshwar

The temple is encircled by twelve identical Shiva temples, representing ‘Aat Chala,’ the typical Bengal form of architecture. Your ‘puja’ is believed incomplete unless you worship the Shiva Lingas.

Shiva Temples
Shiva Temples

The temple building is really attractive with its bright red color blended with off white texture. There are several shops outside the temple premises where you can get the ‘puja dala’ consisting large red hibiscus garlands, incense sticks, sweets and vermilion.

Puja Items
Puja Items

As you enter the temple premises, you will see happy faces in spite of standing in long queues while the aroma of incense sticks and the continuous sound of bells create a divine atmosphere.

Waiting Devotees
Waiting Devotees

After the ‘puja’ do not miss the delicious ‘hing kachoris’ served with ‘cholar dal’ at the adjacent food stalls. Dakhineshwar is famous for the mouth watering pickles. There are several kinds of pickle available here which can add variety even to the simplest platter.

Lip Smacking Pickels
Lip Smacking Pickles

Amazing Picles
Pickle Shops

Like the other major tourist destinations, Dakhineshwar has several shops glittering with beautiful costume jewelries, items of worship, pictures and idols of Dakhineshwar temple and goddess Kali.

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Collection of Sakhas

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Devotional Souvenirs

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Devotional Artefacts

People visiting Dakhineshwar do not miss a visit to Adya Pith and Belur Math. You can enjoy an enchanting boat ride from Dakhineshwar temple to Belur Math over the Ganges while several ‘toto’ rickshaws ride you from Dakhineshwar to Adya Pith.

You can reach Dakhineshwar from Kolkata via trains, which are available at regular intervals. Regular bus service and taxis also make the place easily accessible.

Visit to the Dakhineshwar Temple hence is a nice weekend escape from the daily hustle and bustle.

A fantastic weekend trip to Bakkhali

Bakkhali is an ideal place to enjoy a short weekend trip. The place is at the South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, quite near from the capital city of Kolkata. There is ample bus service available from Esplanade to Bakkhali. You can also travel via car; it is a meagre 3 hours journey from Kolkata.

As you start your journey, the first glimpse of nature awaits you at Diamond Harbour. It is an ideal spot to relish your breakfast, while witnessing the beauty of River Ganges.

River Ganges At Diamond Harbour
River Ganges At Diamond Harbour

As you reach Namkhana, the next phase of journey begins. You need to cross the River Hatania Doania via the vessel service of the Narayanpur Jetty Ghat; it is a unique experience to cross the river on the vessel, sitting in your car.

Crossing River On Vessel
Crossing River On Vessel

As you reach Frazergunj, there are many government and private hotels; you will be spoiled with choices of both budget and luxurious accommodation.

The prime attraction of Bakkhali is the Bay of Bengal. You can enjoy a mesmerizing sunrise and sunset at the beach. There are plastic chairs available on the beach where you can spend some memorable time chatting with your loved ones. Capture the golden moments with the help of the expert photographers roaming on the beach; you can get the photos in just 5 to 10 minutes.

Bakkhali Beach
Bakkhali Beach

Your next destination can be the well maintained park of the Bakkhali forest range. Here you can witness wildlife in natural habitat. The chattering monkeys, the grazing herds of deer and the lazily lying crocodiles are the attractions of this park.

Crocodile Park
Crocodile Park

Your next trip is to the Henrys Island. This quiet island is an apt place to watch various kinds of birds. Prawns and Hilsa are the two main types of fish that are farmed here. You can also checkout the mangroves and sundari trees along with rare red crabs crawling over the marsh land. Get an awesome view of the stretches of Sunderban from the watchtower of Henrys Island.

Henrys Island
Henrys Island

The journey ends with a visit to the Jambu Dwip. It is a thrilling two hours journey from the Frazergunj fishing harbour via motorboat. This coastal area is the confluence of the Hugli River and the Bay of Bengal; another paradise for bird watchers.

Bay Of Bengal
Bay Of Bengal

You can also buy beautiful home décor from the stalls located near the Bakkhali sea beach. The souvenirs made of sea shells are beautiful and worth for gifting.

Home Décor Stalls
Stalls

Last but not the least; you can satisfy your taste buds to the fullest at this deltaic island of West Bengal. There are several sea food stalls near the sea beach. You can relish jumbo crab curry and friend prawns and other local fish at these stalls. Among sweets, the coconut barfis are worth a try. If you are visiting Bakkhali during winters, you can buy home-made jaggery and pure palm sap.

Delicacies Of Bakkhali
Delicacies Of Bakkhali

Hence it can be said that your trip to ‘Beautiful Bengal’ is incomplete without a visit to this eastern coastal region of South Bengal.

Explore the simple but glamorous crafts of West Bengal at the Kolkata Handicrafts Fair, 2014

Explore the Indian creativity with the unique Kolkata Handicrafts Fair, 2014

India is truly “incredible” with its rich culture and tradition. Be it the architectural masterpieces or the beautiful handicrafts, India is a treasure-house. Every year at the City of Joy, Kolkata an awesome handicrafts fair is arranged; Kolkata Handicrafts Fair, 2014 is not an exception.

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The Kolkata Handicrafts Fair, 2014 has been arranged at the Milan Mela ground, near Science City. With hundreds of shops, this fair consists of stalls from different parts of West Bengal. Besides buying and witnessing an array of hand crafted products, you can also know a lot about the specialty handicrafts of the different districts of West Bengal.

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While the bamboo craft with beautifully designed totem poles are perfect home decor, the colored jute chairs and stools are a must to complete the decoration. Try out the jute dolls which can be put on curtains for a traditional look. The beautiful jute bags not only are comfortable for use but also environment friendly.

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The terracotta horses, wall collage and dolls from the Bankura district are another set of home decor that you can try out. Besides home decor, you have a lot to take back as jewelry from the Kolkata Handicrafts Fair, 2014. From terracotta jewelry to jewelry of Dokra, sea shells and beads is bound to change your look completely.

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The Kolkata Handicrafts Fair, 2014 is also a must visit for sari lovers. You can get a glimpse of the fine beautifully textile saris here. The gorgeous silks from Murshidabad and Bishnupur are also one of the main attractions of the Kolkata Handicrafts Fair, 2014.

Food lovers need not get upset. The Kolkata Handicrafts Fair, 2014 has a large food court at your service along with temporary stalls within the fair along with ample supply of fresh water.

Thus, if you are in love with the Bengali culture and crafts, this fair is a must visit for you; and if you are not, then also this fair is a must visit for you to fall in love with the Bengali culture and crafts.

A tour to the historic fort of Raisen

Raisen is one of the historic spots of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is a town located within the Raisen district and serves as the administrative headquarters of the district. It is located at the foot of a hill and with huge spreads of agricultural land throughout the district, wheat, peas and soya bean being the major crops that are cultivated here. This historical city dates back to the time of 1200 AD, and till the fifteenth century was under the rule of the Sultans of the Mandu and then under the rule of the Rajput.

The Raisen Fort

Raisen derives its name from the Raisen fort located at the top of the hill, the actual name being Rajavasini or Rajasayan. The city experiences a tropical form of climate, with the three typical seasons of monsoon, summer and winter. The best season to visit Raisen is winters due to the mild temperatures and the pleasant weather. Raisen is one of the important districts of the city, lying in close proximity to the city of Bhopal. Hence you can first reach Bhopal through bus, trains or flights and then from there you can get many transports to Raisen.

The most popular tourist destination of Raisen is the Raisen Fort. It is another spectacular architecture of the Indian subcontinent, being constructed in the early medieval period. The fort lies at the top of a hill, at the foot of which the Raisen town is located. The fort stands on a sandstone rock. The fort consists of stone walls which has nine gateways and thirteen bastions. This historic fort is a huge structure, consisting of several buildings within it; which includes a mosque and a school. The fort is an asset of India and is under the surveillance of the Archaeological Survey of India. It also consists of temples and hence is an epitome of national integrity. There is a large reservoir within the fort premises, which proves the excellent water management system of the medieval era.

The Raisen Fort

Visit the Nidhi Soni’s house in the town; this house is sure to amuse you with its numerous doors. Among the religious sites, the Hazrat Peer Fatehullah Shah Baba is a very popular tourist spot in Raisen. It is the shrine built after the famous Muslim sage, Hazrat Peer Fatehullah Shah Baba; there is a belief that a visit to this sacred place will fulfill all their wishes, as the wishes will be conveyed to God via the sage, who is near to God. The village of Sanchi is also located near Raisen. This place is popular for the stupas built at the flourishing era of Buddhism in India. This world heritage site consist of four gateways; the carvings on these gateways bear the stories of the previous lives of Buddha.

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Bhimbetka Rock Paintings

The other nearby tourist destinations that you can visit from Raisen are that of Bhojpur and Bhimbetka. Raisen is a charming, small town which is sure to provide you a memorable vacation experience in the tourism capital of India; the state of Madhya Pradesh.

A journey to the land of peace- visit Sanchi

Madhya Pradesh is considered to be the tourism capital of ‘Incredible India’ due to its various types of tourist destinations; from mountains to lain lands, from glorious Hindu temples to the fine Mughal architectural efficacies. Sanchi is another facade of the tourism industry of this central Indian state. This is a small village located at the Raisen district. Known for its Buddhist architectural buildings, Sanchi is easily accessible from the state capital of Bhopal. There is also a railway station located at Sanchi and the other nearest railway station is located at Vidisha.

Buddan Saranan Gachchami
Buddan Saranan Gachchami

The most important tourist spot of Sanchi is the Sanchi Stupa. There are three stupas here, Stupa 1, 2 and 3. The Sanchi Stupa 1 is considered to be the oldest stone architecture of India. It was constructed by Emperor Ashoka after he adopted Buddhism, in the 3rd century BCE.  This semi hemispherical structure is built over the remnants of Lord Buddha and guarded by four gateways, also known as Toranas. The gateways are carved with stories from the earlier life of Lord Buddha and are known as the Jataka tales. The four symbols of the Stupa represent enlightenment, birth, parinirvana and the preaching of the first sermon.

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The Stupa 2 is less decorated than the 1st stupa and is believed to be built under the rule of the Suganas. This stupa is not guarded by the gateways and also consist of several carvings of mythological figures, like yakshas, human figures with fish tails, nagas and makaras. Stupa 3 was constructed in the 2nd century BC. This stupa is significant as it contains two stone boxes, known as the Sariputra and the Mandgalyayana. The box of Sariputra consists of two fragments of a bone, some pearls, sandalwood, crystals and some other stones. The box of Mandgalyayana consist of a single bone.

The 2nd Stupa
Stupa 2

Besides the Stupas, the Ashoka Pillar is another symbol of Buddhist architecture in the village. The unique feature of this pillar is that it has been carved out of a huge, single piece of stone; the stone is that of chunar sandstone. There are several Prakrit inscriptions. The Great Bowl is a huge stone bowl which was used to store and serve food for monks. This bowl has also been made from a single colossal stone piece. Another important pillar of the region is the West Pillar. There are several spiritual carvings on the pillar, like that of devotees, a Bodhi tree over a pedestal, flowers, deer park and others.

Ashoka Pillar
Ashoka Pillar

Visit the Buddhist Viharas to witness the life style of the Buddhist monks. These Viharas served as the central hub for communal activities. The single chambers served as the resting place for these Buddhist saints. The Modern monastery contains the relics of the Satdhara Stupa, stored in a glass casket. Last but not the least, do not miss a tour to one of the finest architecture of the Gupta period; the Gupta temple. It is located at the intermediate layer of the Sanchi hill. Visit Sanchi to feel the touch of peace and serenity.