Friday, 31 July 2009

Goddess Tarini

Maa Tarini is the presiding deity for all Shakti and Tantra peeths or shrines in Orissa. The origin of Shakti or worship of the Earth as a female embodiment of power is found across many cultures all over the world. In Orissa which has a high density of tribal population whose religious practices have been assimilated into the mainstream Hindu faith, the worship of natural formations such as rocks, tree trunks, rivers is widespread among the tribes.

Maa Tarini is always depicted as a red face with two large eyes and a mark in the middle which serves as an indication for a nose and also a tilak. This primitive conception is symbolic of the simplicity of tribal beliefs and ceremonies. The red colour has been attributed to dyes made out of iron ores or ocher which are quite plentiful in the state and would thus have been used by the tribes for anointing and decorating the sacred figures of worship. The ornate letters in the background mean "Maa" or Mother in the Oriya language. They were a much later addition although the Oriya script did change very slightly over the millennia.

In this form she is very similar to the conception of the Goddess Kali at Kalighat. Although the two are embodiments of the same divinity, Kali is the Goddess of death and destruction whereas Maa Tarini is the force of life. Interestingly, two of the names of Kali are Maa Taara and Taratarini.

In the Ramayana, after Sita was abducted by Ravana, Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana started searching for her. When they reached the forest, near which later Vijayanagar was founded, Rama worshipped Devi Durga and sought her help. The Goddess instructed Rama while he was meditating that he must not see her when she appears or she will turn to stone. Rama could not control himself and saw her and the Goddess was embodied as a stone idol. She told Rama not to worry and call her later when she would definitely aid him.

This second puja was performed by Ravana himself near Rameswaram before the Vanara Sena could cross over to Lanka. Ravana was deemed fit because this ceremony was performed in order to achieve victory in the war to follow. In order to defeat a warrior like Ravana, the performer had to be a Brahmin who performed the ritual of Trisandhya everyday without fail. At that time, Ravana was the only such Brahmin in all of Creation.

After Lord Rama left, the stone idol was worshiped by the local tribes. Thus the ancient tribal Goddess was described as a Hindu Goddess.
More Info & Links


Thursday, 30 July 2009

Crows stealing food India

I think i am hungry, unfortunately it's better to steal than beg or pay for food

Ha ha!!. Who cares. Humans are too busy in making money. we are better off without money, no need to worry about spending, economy, recession  and putting money in banks and only to see bank goes bust with money.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Village Shops India

A Village Shop In India
Villagers usually gather in evening for a cup of tea. These shops in village are the melting point for people who want to socialize with other people.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

A Post Box in the Middle of the Road

A Post Box in the middle of the road

Not sure why Indian Post has choose to install a post box in the middle of the street, actually it is also a cross section of four roads. Anyone want to post a letter probably wait until midnight or else face an accident in the rush hour traffic. 

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Roadside Petrol Shop India

No worry, if you are driving in India, you ran out of petrol & there is no petrol station (Which is obvious, especially if you are travelling in remote part of country). You can find petrol from these roadside shops in India. But you need to pay bit more than price at petrol station but i guess that's worth of it. There is always a solution for every little problem in India.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Cash Machine in India

Cash Machine/ ATM in India
Most of the cash machines in india are located in similar enclosure as shown in above picture. Some cash machines are guarded by a security guard for 24 hours and some other (State Bank Of India, SBI) cash machines are not guarded but you need to swipe card to enter into the enclosure. If you have an Indian bank card then you can withdraw from any cash machine without any charge/bank fee, however certain amount of money is deducted from your bank account if you use international/overseas bank card in these machines.

Most of the cash machines are dip type machines, that means you need enter and then remove card manualy in the machine before you do any transaction. Good thing is that your card would not be stuck inside the machine, if you enter wrong code on the machine or power outage, which is very common in India.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Tara Tarini Orissa India continued


 The Gateway to 999 Steps at Tara Tarini Hill
Tara Tarini Sthana Peeth is situated on Taratirini hill at a distance of 30 km. from Bramhapur, in the state of Orissa, India. The Twin Goddesses Tara and Tarini are worshiped as manifestations of Adi Shakti . Taratarini Hill Shrine is one of the oldest pilgrimage centers of Mother Goddess and is one amongst the four major ancient Shakti Pithas in India. The Mythological Texts recognize four major Shakti Peethas (centers) like Bimala, Tara Tarini (Orissa), Kamakshi (Assam) and Dakhina Kalika (West Bengal, Kolkata) among the 4 Adi Shakti Peeths and apart from these there are other 52 sacred Shakti Peethas, which originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata Sati in the Satya Yuga.
(Source: Wikipedia)
999 Steps to climb to reach to the temple at the top of the hill

By the time Ashoka conquered Kalinga he found it a famous centre of Buddhism. The region of Ganjam near the bank of river Rushikulya was an active Buddhist site as shown from the Special Rock Edicts of Ashoka found at Jaugada at a distance of 4 Km from Tara-Tarini Hill. The name Tara (Buddhism), an important deity of Mahayana Buddhist Pantheon, is suggestive of Buddhist influence. An image of Buddha in meditation, present inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple lends credence to the claim of this site as an ancient centre of the Buddhist Shakta cult. It has been suggested that from a tribal cult with Buddhist influence the Tara-Tarini Cult may have been transformed into the Shakti Cult through the process of Sanskritisation.
(Source: Wikipedia) 

View Of the Rushikulya river from the top of Tarini Hill
 Shops to buy ingredients for offerings to Goddess
 Shoe stand near the temple
 The Holy tree near the Temple
It is believed that wishes are fulfilled, if you tie holy thread to this tree. As you can see there are many priests sitting near the holy tree, they chant holy words as you tie the sacred thread to branches of this tree.
 Gate of the temple
A bit from history: 
By the time Ashoka conquered Kalinga he found it a famous centre of Buddhism. The region of Ganjam near the bank of river Rushikulya was an active Buddhist site as shown from the Special Rock Edicts of Ashoka found at Jaugada at a distance of 4 Km from Tara-Tarini Hill. The name Tara (Buddhism), an important deity of Mahayana Buddhist Pantheon, is suggestive of Buddhist influence. An image of Buddha in meditation, present inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple lends credence to the claim of this site as an ancient centre of the Buddhist Shakta cult.[1] It has been suggested that from a tribal cult with Buddhist influence the Tara-Tarini Cult may have been transformed into the Shakti Cult through the process of Sanskritisation.
(Source: Wikipedia)   
 The Tara Tarini Temple
The mythological texts recognize four major Shakti Peethas (centers), like Bimala, Taratarini, Kamakshya and Dakhina Kalika, which originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata Sati in the Satya Yuga.
Rooted in the hoary past, mentioned in the Puranas, the Tantras and as the main seat of Tantric cult for thousands of years and center of Shakti worship since time immemorial, this Hill Shrine is believed to be the Sthana Peetha (Breast Shrine of Mata Sati) and an important prehistoric religious center which bears an uninterrupted history of about 6000 years.
According to mythological texts and folk lore this Shrine has seen all the greatest icons of the human civilization like Lord Ram, Lord Krishna, Lord Parasuram, the Pandavas and great saints like Jagadguru Sankaracharya, Shri Chaitanya and Balayogi Neelakanthi. It has also been the confluence ground of plethora of ancient religions like the Vedic religion, the Brahminical religion, the Hinduism, the Buddhism, the Tantricism etc. Unquestionably, these facts from the mythology demonstrate the historicity and importance of the Hill Shrine it occupied in the past. Further, the presence of the mythological pious river Rushikulya or Rushikalyani (Known as the elder sister of the Ganges in the Vedas) on the foothill of the Shrine has further enhanced the significance of the Tara Tarini Shakti Dham also known as Kalyani Dham.
(Source: Wikipedia)
 On my back climbing down last step
According to the mythological Puranas the origin of Maa Tara Tarini is directly attributed to Daksha Prajapati’s Jagna in Satya Yuga. The famous Shakta Peethas of Bimala, Tara-Tarini, Dakshina Kalika, and Kamakshi originated from the limbs of the divine Corpse of Devi Sati. Mythological sacred texts like the Shiva Purana, the Kalika Purana, the Devi Bhagabat (a contemporary text of the Mahabharata written by Shri Vyasa Dev around 6000 years ago) attested this fact. It is known from the Mahabharata that before the commencement of the Mahabharata war Lord Srikrishna had advised Arjuna to offer prayer for victory at Shridevi kupa or Bhadrakali. Bhadrakali originated from the limbs of Mata Sati like the other four major Shakti Peethas, existed during the time of the Mahabharata or around 6000 years ago. This is the oldest data/information we get till date, regarding the existence of the Shrine of Tara Tarini.
(Source: Wikipedia)
Back to Tarini Chhak
I finished my journey to the Tara Tarini temple at around 4 pm and now i am ready to catch train at Berhampur Train station.

Tara Tarini Orissa India

 Train Stopped at Berhampur Train Station
The Tara Tarini Temple is accessible from Berhampur. You can reach Berhampur by direct train from Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalor, Hyderabad and other major cities of India

List of trains stopping at Berhampur Train Station
Please note that the above list is not absolute, please check with indian railway website before travel

 Berhampur Train Station
If you are travelling by your own car then that's OK. But if you don't have a car it is difficult to hire car in Berhampur. Then you need to use public transport available at the train station. You need to go to New Bus Stand by auto rickshaw which will cost you five rupees from this train station.

 New Bus Stand Berhampur Orissa India
You need to catch bus travelling to Pursottampur from this Bus station. Because there is no direct bus available to go to the Tara Tarini Temple. So you need to travel with Bus travelling to Pursottampur and get down at Tarini Chhak. You may ask bus conductor to remind you to get down from bus at Tarini Chhak

A Trekker at Tarini Chhak
Tara Tarini mountain is just half an hour walk from this Tarini Chhak, again you can go by autorickshaw which will cost you 10 rupees or else you can just walk. There are also Trekkers available from this stop, but if you want to go with a trekker then you may get late, because they will not go untill they have full loads of passengers in their vehicles. Just to let you know, a trekker is just like a jeep or you can call it a modified jeep. A special mode of transport only availble in Orissa

 Tara Tarini Ropeway at the base of mountain
There are 999 steps in Tara Tarini Mountain. But there is also a ropeway service available at the base of the mountain. I think it will cost you 15 rupees to go up the mountain. Ropeway service is only available from 09 am till 12 pm & 2 pm till evening. So just like me if you arrive just after 12 pm and you can't afford to wait then you get ready to climb 999 steps up the mountain

Rest in my next blog post

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Myths & Demons, Solar Eclipse

The earliest Indian myth on solar eclipse is found in the "Rig Veda". (The religious book composed between 1500-1200 BC)

According to Indian mythology, solar eclipse occurs because two demons Rahu & Ketu swallow Sun. And people pray to the supreme god for early release of sun god and do not eat anything as sun god is in danger. People dispose the food and water once the eclipse is over because they become uneatable after the event.
Rahu, one of the most notorious demons of the Hindu myth, was rubbed the wrong way by the sun. Myth has it that Vishnu, God of all Gods churned the oceans to usher in peace. This was at the end of a bitter war between the Gods and demons. At this time, Dhanvantri, the fountain head of medicine,emererged with necter. This was too good for the demons to let go.Vishnu manage to get it across the Gods, but Rahu, disguised as a God tried to get some nectar for himself.The sun and the moon saw this happenning and informed Vishnu, who immediately chopped off Rahus head. Rahu lived on though bodyless, because he had managed a sip of the nectar. But he never forgave the sun or the moon and periodically eats either one up.
(Source: Colors of India)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Wall Advertisements Orissa

HIV/AIDS Campaign in Orissa, India

Above advertisement tell people to go to hospital and test their blood in free for HIV/AIDS. Most people in Orissa still face social stigma to go for HIV/AIDS test. Government hospitals do free HIV/AIDS test and name of the people who have gone for HIV/AIDS test is kept secret. The last sentence says, "Keep your words, Stop AIDS"
HIV/AIDS Campaign Orissa, India
The advertisement tell mother to child infection of HIV and advocates to go to hospital for child birth. It is common in villages in Orissa many people prefer to give birth in home rather than in hospital. But lots of people are now going to hospital for child birth. I think, the campaign has achieved some of its objectives but it has to go a long way to achieve it's objective in full. Lack of hospitals especially in western orissa force people to give birth in their home. Doctors posted in western orissa generally stay in cities and rarely travel to villages to serve people.

Above advertisement advocates for punishments for doctors who kills patients. Not sure who has written it.

Saying of Sai Baba. Some people in this region follow the principles/sayings of Sri Satya Sai Baba. Major religion in this region is Hindu. Also christians, muslims and Hindus live together in harmony.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Tropical Rain

Tropical rain in an Indian Village
It is an unique experience to watch tropical rain in a remote Indian village. Sometimes it starts to rain and never stop till 7 days or more.
Cloudy sky just before the rain
Read More info on Tropical rain belt

Friday, 17 July 2009

World's Longest Railway Platform


This is the picture of World's longest railway platform.
The first Railway establishment at Kharagpur started with the commissioning of the rail link between Cuttack – Balasore – Kharagpur and from Sini to Kolaghat via Kharagpur. Kharagpur as a junction station was established in Railway map in December 1898. The public mood and the reaction of society on introduction of rail transport in this region has been nicely depicted by the famous Bengali Novelist Dr Ramapada Choudhury who was born and brought up in Kharagpur, in his Bengali novel Prothom Prohor. It is said that the people were initially afraid to travel by train for the fear of accident over the bridge (fear of collapsing of bridge), fear of getting outcaste status since there were no separate seating arrangement for different castes and religions. However, things changed due to famines in the early 20th century. The Railway Company came forward and offered jobs to the local unemployed men, gave them free ride by train and even offered a blanket for traveling by train. This promotional scheme broke the taboos and made rail transport acceptable to the society. Kharagpur also has one of the biggest railway workshops in India with the longest railway platform in the world [1072.5 m]

Kharagpur Railway Platform
After nearly 111 years of establishment, this railway station is hugely neglected by the Indian Railway authority. As you can see people cross railway tracks as there is not enough foot over bridge in this railway platform. It's gross breach of health and safety of passengers in this railway station. Indian Railway authority has simply chosen to ignore development of this train station.

    Child labour at Kharagpur Train Station

Children at this world famous train station do all kinds of jobs starting from collecting rubbish to working in shops to live their life on this platform. As always India railway authority has turned blind eye to stop child labour in this train station.

Isn't 111 years of existence is not long enough for the development of Kharagpur Train Station?.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Indian Train - Chain Pulling

Chain pulling is common in Indian trains. Above picture shows some people pulled the chain to stop it and get down from the train in an unknown location in India. Local hawkers are benefited to get into train and sell their products. There are also people who travel without a ticket, they stop train to get out of train before train station. Some people get benefited from chain pulling. But most importantly chain pulling delays train.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Second Class Waiting Hall in New Delhi Train Station

This is the picture of a mobile charger point in 2nd class waiting hall of New Delhi train station. The good thing about it is; you get your phone charge for free, But unfortunately it doesn't work. But don't worry there are couple of more points similar to this in the hall and they do work but they often get crowded and you need to wait for few minutes before you get your phone charged. You can also charge your Ipod in this charging point.

Water leaking roof of 2nd class waiting hall of New Delhi Railway station. Also beware of pick pocketers here

Also there are toilet facilities & fans in this waiting hall and the hall is monitored on CCTV and guarded by Indian railway people for 24 hours.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Indian Railway Sleeper Coach - Cleanliness


The above picture shows cleanliness maintained in sleeper coach toilet of Indian train. I don't think they get cleaned for years. Indian Railway make profit millions of rupees each year but they just ignore to maintain cleanliness of toilets in trains.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Indian Railway Sleeper Coach - Hygienic

There are no baby changing room in New Delhi Railway Station. Many train stations in india do not have toilet. People are forced to use railway platform for pissing.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Indian Railway Sleeper Coach - Tourist Reservation & Coach

I did not have much choice rather to return upstairs. I stood for 1 hour to get my breakfast from the cafe. In the mean time i enjoyed filming of the cafe by Zee TV (private TV station in India).

I was bored after sitting for an hour at the restaurant, i went to international tourist reservation office, which was near to upstairs cafe. The first impression of the office i found was art created by spitting of chewed pan leaves. The picture shown below display beautiful art created by Indian officials working at the International tourist reservation office, New Delhi railway station. Truly remarkable!.

It's the most rude and ill mannered office you have ever found in your life. I was not allowed to sit in the office for more than five minutes apparently for no reason. The officials working in this office calling tourist like "hey, man with red cap, man with beard" these kind of words.

There is no easy way to reach for your train in India. If you really want to catch your train, you need to be there before good 30 minutes. You may have to walk to 15th platform to catch your train in busy  station like New Delhi railway station. Here are some pictures of my berth in the sleeper coach of Indian Train.


Sunday, 5 July 2009

Indian Railway Sleeper Coach - Restaurant

There was gross mismanagement of traffic near New Delhi Station. So my auto rickshaw could not go near parking space. I got off from few yards before the station. I guess most of the times people used to get off few yards before the station or else you have to wait for an hour or so to reach the station. People traveling to New Delhi station prefer walking to the station before few yards from the station than going by vehicles. Especially if you want to catch the train in time.

As my train was late for 4 hours and i was hungry, i went to upstairs Indian railway restaurant. On my way to upstairs i found many half naked men were sleeping on the floor. And the situation at the restaurant was pretty encouraging. I found one man sleeping on the table and other man was singing song loudly and drinking tea. The restaurant service boy was brushing his teeth, he served me tea while he was brushing teeth. You would certainly appreciate the fact that Indian are multi tasker

Although the restaurant had other foods to sell but he insisted that he could only sell me tea and biscuits. He told me to wait for 10 minutes till his colleague finished counting stocks.

After waiting for 10 minutes, i went to back only to found out that counting is still on. I went downstairs of New Delhi railway station, i found another restaurant, but this one is bit weird than the upstairs one. I was refused to serve food just because i did not have changes. The man serving to the passengers was virtually abusing them. He was coughing on the food before serving them. The picture on the right hand side shows the picture of that restaurant, if possible do avoid this restaurant.

But again i believe you don't have much choice for food near New Delhi railway station. Because if you go outside railway station, you are most likely to be cheated. They usually ask you to pay more than the price mentioned in their menus. For example if you buy food from railway restaurant for say 50 rupees, you are most likely to pay 500 rupees for the same food if you buy that outside railway station.

In india you don't have much choice rather than getting ripped off more or less.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Indian Railway Sleeper Coach

Traveling in Indian railway is always a joy. This time i decided to go Kharagpur from New Delhi station. I booked a sleeper berth in Orissa Sampark Kranti Express. As the schedule time of departure was 07:20 in the morning, i set off from home at around 06:00. At this time round in Delhi, there are no buses, the only option i got was traveling in an auto rickshaw. It took me around half an hour to reach the station, the traffic during the morning hour was really good.

New Delhi Railway Station
When i reached the station, i found that my train was running late for 4 hours. Apparently this was the starting station for the train. But no information or explanation was given to passengers on why the train was go late. I found out from a fellow traveler who told me that there were strikes by Maoist communist people in the eastern region of India. That's why all the train coming or going to east of India was running late for more than 4 hours.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Hawkers at India Gate

These are the hawkers at India Gate, who make their living by selling blackberry, papadum, chocolates at India Gate. On my visit to India Gate, i found many them were children. I bought handful of black berry from this child but later on i found out these berries were picked up from nearby trees at India Gate. This kid's mother was busy with his sister picking up berries near the trees at India Gate. I also found many security officers posted near India Gate were also busy in picking up berries near India Gate. Everyone loves black berry in India.

You can get handful of blackberries with just 5 rupees. Life is very difficult for hawkers like these, who make their living in sun, dust and pollution. Sadly, many of them don't survive to see their grand children

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Wall Advertisements 2

This picture was taken near railway track in some unknown village. Low budget advertisers have choosed to display their advertisements near walls of railway tracks, which seems to be very effective in India.