Friday, July 30, 2010

Bidri fort

The next day started late for us since our friend’s son was not keeping well and so we had to skip the Panchadara temple which we could not reach early. We drove to the Bidar fort but over shot the road and our we went down the lane which had beautiful meadows on either side and on our left we saw Bidar milk diary a part of KMF. My son is a great fan of nandini milk( product of KMF) and so he wanted to see how the milk was being packeted.

We drove into the diary to see the process. Cow and buffalo milk are brought from neighbouring villages into the diary in huge aluminium cans and are poured into a big tank before a small sample of milk from each can is taken for testing the fat content of the milk. The milk filtered here is then sent into the cooling plants . From here it is sent to Gulbarga for packeting and marketing. The men working there said they do not use any chemicals and so the milk has to consumed within 4 hours or within a day if under refridgeration.

We came out and drove back on the same road to reach the fort which is the pride of Bidar. It is a huge fort with well manicured lawns and being maintained by the Archaelogical survey of India. Was really amazed by the architectural splendor, the intricate designs, the symmetry of the work all crafted with skilled hands when machines were unheard of. Lot of hard work must have gone into the making. Read more about it here..

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Water cave temple at Bidar

(in the above picture you can see the way to the tunnel beside the idol)

It was past 6 in the evening when we reached Bidar town. Our next stop at Bidar was Sri Kshetra Jharni Narsimha temple – a water cave temple dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Narsimha.

The legend goes that Vishnu after killing Hiranyakashyap killed another giant Jharasura. While breathing his last the giant requested Vishnu to live in the cave in which he lived and to grant wishes to devotees. Granting his wish, Narsimha came to live in the cave.

It is a temple over looking a deep valley. After descending nearly 40 steps we were told the temple was nearing its closing time.

We rushed down the remaining flight . We had to buy an entrance ticket of Rs.5/head.

Though we heard from our friends who visited before , about the uniqueness of the temple, We were really surprised when we saw the temple.

At the entrance of the temple is an Idol of Narsimha. Beside this idol is a flight of nearly10 steps which leads to a water canal inside a cave. The entrance of the cave is populated with hyperactive bats(yes, the mammals were flying in and out of the cave but never near us)

One has to wade through this water canal of nearly 90 metres with bats hovering above to reach the main idol. The canal water is supposed to emerge from the feet of the lord. At no point of time has the level of water receded / exceeded and the flow of water is continuous. The tunnel is adequately lit with electrical lights and ventilated by an air- duct .

The devotees have the privilege of doing puja and ksheera abhishekam to the lord personally.

I ,my daughter and our friends family accompanying us were scared to enter the tunnel and stood at the entrance of the temple while my 11 year old son and my husband went inside and offered puja and did Ksheera abhishekam. My son came back from the tunnel after 20 minutes and told ‘Amma, romba nalla irukku, neriya ladies irukka and neriya cockroaches koda irukku’ (the god is beautiful and there are many lady devotees inside and cockroaches too).

The temple closes on all days by 6.p.m except on Saturdays it closes by 6.30p.m.

Prasadam is distributed after mahamangalaarthi to the Idol of the lord installed outside.

After a good darshan we went back to rest in our hotel room and planned to visit the Panchanatha temple, gurudwara ,fort and bidriware workshop next day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Deva Deva Vana - an eco tourist spot at Bidar

Last weekend we headed 110kms northwest of Hyderabad to reach the northern plateau region of Bidar in Karnataka. We took nearly more than an hour to cross 25 kms and get out of the city limits negotiating the heavy traffic of city and then simply cruised through the remaining part of NH 9. After 110 kms took a left turn into a road where Karnataka Tourism Board welcomed us to Bidar listing its place of tourist interest. Bidar is a tourist delight and has historical significance dating back to Bahamani kings. It has the Bidar fort, eco forest, unique temples, gurudwara, mosque and it is home to the beautiful hand made craft called Bidri ware.

Before you enter into the town limits, we took a detour (200 metres) and were greeted by an eco tourist place called ‘Deva Deva Vana’ meaning god’s forest. This is in the lap of Shahapur Reserve forest, developed exclusively for people as an eco-tourist spot by the Karnataka forest department. You have various medicinal flora and fauna grouped with devotional names like Panchavativana, Ashoka vana, Rashi vana(zodiac), Navagraha vana etc. All these sacred groves are created for relaxation and meditation especially the Bruhat panchavati vana helps in focusing the mind, Navagraha vana has each tree assigned to the zodiac (Mango tree for kanya rashi etc).

Children’s entertainment area are designed in the form of water slides, colorful slides, swings etc.,. Other things which add beauty to the forest are the sprawling topiary landscaped lawns, floral canopied pergolas, beautiful fountains and very colorful blooms.

The whole area is manned efficiently along with an information center. Eco-huts are available for eco-tourists.

After inhaling the medicinal air and feasting our eyes with the beauty of nature for more than two hours we headed into Bidar to visit Sri Kshetra Narsimha Jharni-a unique temple dedicated to Lord Narsimha.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Health tips to keep away rainy discomforts

I am not fond of TV programs, but when I find time I do irregularly watch programs on travel &living, the music based shows, cookery shows and shows on well-being.

Amongst all these I prefer and try to be a regular for ‘ Theneer neram’ ( Tea time) telecast on Podhigai (Tamil Doordarshan). Podhigai is not rich in terms of technicality, razzmatazz and grandeur but it scores high in value of content and edutainment.

Theneer neram is a cookery show telecast at 4.p.m (IST) from Tuesday thru Friday.

Susheela, Sashi madan, latamani rajkumar, S.R. Kishore kumar are some of the people who feature regularly on theneer neram.

All are good cookery hosts.

Susheela usually presents the dish along with the history, how it originated etc.,

Sashi madan comes with innovative dishes using our regular ingredients and the crockery and cutlery she uses for demo are very trendy and functional.

Lata mani rajkumar specializes in cakes ,bakes and she displays the finished product artistically and aesthetically.

S. R. Kishore kumar presents some unique healthy recipes and shares with us native wisdom, traditional practices and their relevance with science.

Yesterday he presented two such recipes which I have never heard before.

This being the monsoon season, children are susceptible to cold and coughs and demonstrated how Mani Gulab salad and Mango tea are made. The recipes qualify for my food blog, but let me share the health tips.

Health tips for monsoon

Roast jeera (cumin) and tie them up in a piece of cloth (potli). Inhale the potli for nasal blocks. Can be used instead of the regular inhaler available at shops.

Heat 1 measure of garlic peels,ajwain and haldi in a thick bottomed kadai. Switch off the stove and inhale the fumes to arrest running nose and other sinus problems. ( my grand ma used to heat gingelly oil with garlic pods, ajwain and black pepper. We used to massage the oil on Sundays to have head bath later.This helps to cool your body heat )

In hale fumes of haldi to stop hiccups. ( I give my son a spoon of sugar to eat)

Cough induced by heat of the body( not due to cold) can be stopped by chewing 4 black pepper corn and licorice (athimaduram in tamil) available in all native medicinal shops/ in dabba chatty kadai in Tamilnadu)

Chew tender mango leaves to regain stamina lost during fever.(post fever)

Crush a few drumstick leaves (murungakeerai) and mix it with white lime (used for paan)( sunnambu in tamil/sunna in kannada) . Apply the mixture externally on the throat to relieve yourself of sore throat. Apply it before going to bed at night.

Inhale the fragrance of rose petals to have clear lungs. Consuming rose petals( not the regular rose,careful it might be coated with pesticides) but those used for making rose water are good for internal organs(lungs,kidney,heart) and keeps the skin radiant and toned.

Apply sap(resin) of mango tree on your cracked heels while going to bed to heal the cracked heels on your feet.

Will follow with more tips and recipes when I catch them again, till then keep healthy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Karadi tales - A good learning aid

Children’s birthday parties are very frequent in our 300 apartment housing complex. It is a difficult task to choose the right and useful birthday gift for the kids. These days children are blessed with many toys, books and dresses that anything you buy for them will only be duplicated. So, I generally gift a leisure store gift coupon (which is closer home).

Of late, I thought when you gift such a coupon the child/parent is forced to go to the shop and buy the things only from that shop and their choice is limited, what’s more they have to buy within the stipulated time since the coupon comes with an expiry date.

So ,the next option was gifting cash packet. This, we do for friends in close circles but for people whom we don’t know well. Hmmm....not a nice idea.

So, I was totally in a fix when choosing for an useful and right gift for a 5 year old boy.

I along with my son and daughter were browsing for the right gift in a 6000sft gift shop . I was lost amongst the gifts and was still clueless, when my daughter and son shouted at the same time , from the books section and said 'Karadi tales' would be the right choice.

Shre(now 13)recalled how she as a 5 year old grew up listening and reading Karadi tales apart from other books .

Yes, I too thought this was the right choice and packed the gift.

On the way back home, they both recollected the beautiful memories with Karadi tales at our ICRISAT colony home.

Karadi tales - A combo of a read along story book with lovely illustrations in simple and controlled language and an audio cassette(now DVD) with narration and lilting songs were what they would be seen with when shar was 3 and shre a 5 year old.

Shre used to slowly read the book and modulate her voice according to the audio while shar used to keep the book upside down and pretend as though he too was reading along with the audio track. Karadi tales encouraged my children to read independently and contributed to their English language learning at an early age. ( at home we spoke only in Tamil).

The best he loved was ‘Kubera meets Ganesha’ and he knew the lovely song '500 cooks’ well along with his nursery rhymes.

Those were the times when my husband would be travelling on projects to far away places for couple of months. Shre and Shar would miss their father's presence, especially at night. They would wrap around their appa’s Bermuda and his used towel, switch off the lights in the bed room and listen to Karadi tales.

They said they felt comfortable and secure with their appa’s dress, Meera and karadi’s voice.They would visualize the scenes and drift to sleep listening to 'karadi' and Meera on the tape.

Little wonder then, that they narrowed down on “ Karadi Tales'. Karadi tales along with other books has inculcated in my children the good habit of reading widely and independently with understanding and pleasure.

In today's world of nuclear families, where children don't have the luxury and warmth of the story telling sessions of their grand parents, Karadi tales plays a great role in educating tender minds with Indian heritage,culture and folk tales.

Today Karadi tales are in more attractive format and a wide range of titles have been added . Read more about it here.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Rasalok at Bimba

(click on the image for a larger view)

This summer, we had an unique cultural experience through Rasalok (still theatre in miniature form) at Bimba in Bangalore.

Bimba – the art hut, a totally non-commercial NGO is situated in an area away from the hustle and bustle of the market, at the corner of DVG road(Upahara darshini end) on Ratna vilas road in Bangalore. The moment you step into Bimba, you travel back 100 years in time. Yes, that is precisely the age of the building. Every thing here smells and feels of the sepia toned times.

The whole concept of Rasalok was formed by the mother daughter duo of Smt. Uma Nagraj and Deepika Dorai. They decide upon a appropriate moment from our rich history,culture or myth. They visualize the moment and then create a tableau in miniature form of that period, scaling them proportionately (like golu- tamils display little dolls during navarathri). This requires skilful artistic engineering, creativity, imagination and craft work. They paint the face of dolls and stitch costumes relevant to the period to perfect detailing.

Mr. Deepak who gave a brief intro about the art, informed us that the idea originated from Mrs. Susheelamma (mother of Uma Nagraj) who used to do such creative work during her free time (with plastic dolls) which was eventually passed and improvised by the succeeding generation of her family. Now Deepika uses special wooden toys which have flexible joints.

The tableau is then encased in a box. The mother/ daughter narrate the inherited story from our culture pertaining to the tableau through a live drama.

They have captured five such enthralling moments from our faith.

Krishna and Sudhama
Sankaracharya rolls the cosmic dice
Muthuswami Dikshitar – A gift of Goddess
Ravana – The priestly asura
Ganga Avataranam.

What we saw was Ganga Avataranam. (The descending of river Ganga to Earth)

The spot light was only on this tableau and darkness surrounded us when we entered the 100 year old room. The whole ambience transported us to the Kailash mountain. The scene was where Lord Shiva took the viswaroopa form in front of Bhagiratha and heeded to the request of bringing Ganga to the earth. Mrs. Deepika arrested us for an whole hour with her narration which was complemented by her well modulated voice and expressions.

It was an unusual and beautiful experience for the children and elders too.
The tableau itself was so appealing with the entrance of heaven( from where Ganga descends) strewn with little golden lotuses and the corridors of heaven were a rare creation. The materials used are paper, wax, fabric,beads, rope,miniature jewels, details of plant and animal life and relevant props like palace gate, banyan tree which are made from other media.

I wish they organised some workshops for children to learn this art form. When i proposed this to Mr. Deepak, he said "art cannot be taught through workshops, it has to be created with imagination, for this the children should have exposure to nature and absorb things around them". Well, very profoundly said.

This rare art is not monetized by the creators. The entry is free and what's more everybody is given a token gift of a hand made doll. The audience are attracted through word of mouth and not through frilled/fancy advertisements.

Those of you in Chennai and Bangalore who have an interest in Indian art and culture can add Bimba to your life. They also have an ethnic creative art hut/store for artifacts, furniture,furnishing,paintings,clothes etc where creative work of genuine artists from village are displayed and sold.

Their address in chennai is 17, temple avenue,srinagar colony,Behind saidapet court,chennai-15

In Bangalore apart from Ratna vilas road, they have an art hut(store) at Jayanagar 4th Block, corner of 36th cross, 5th main.