Archive for the 'Indian travel' Category

14
Nov
08

holiday: buddhist monasteries.

 

monastery.

 

prayer wheels.

Om Mane Padme Huum.  Spinning these prayer wheels accumulates the same merit as chanting the mantra.  

 

buddhist mural.

Buddhist mural paintings adorn the exterior walls of monasteries in the northern region.

 

on holy ground.

On Holy Ground.  Monks and visitors to the monastery remove their shoes as a sign of respect.

 

altar.

Candles and other offerings are laid in front of images of the Buddha.

 

young monks.

Young monks enjoy a simple breakfast of sweet potatoes, rice, and milk.

 

 

buddha image.

A statue of the Buddha is central inside the monastery meditation hall.

 

diya.

Diyas burn brightly in front of sacred images.

 

avelokiteshwara.

 

 

 

dharma wheels.

 

 

 

buddhist tablet.

Buddhist tablet outside Pemayangtse Monastery in Pelling, Sikkim.

03
Nov
08

cardamom & tea.

These are a few of my favorite photos- and favorite experiences- from our trip to Sikkim and Darjeeling.  Our driver from Pelling, Sikkim, was a local boy who stopped along the side of the road to show us fresh cardamom growing in a field.  The leaves of the plants extend above the earth, while the cardamom seeds are close to the ground.  The driver, Lobsang, dug in the dirt and pulled out this cluster in which cardamom pods are nestled.  He then rinsed the cluster in a nearby mountain stream, revealing the individual pods.  Lobsang opened a pod to show us the seeds inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We arrived in Darjeeling at dusk, creeping along narrow roads winding through a tea plantation.  The road was so narrow that we had to back up into a turnout whenever we encountered another vehicle.  Darjeeling district is famous for its tea, and tea gardens are visible along every mountainside.  Sam and I toured one nearby garden, where we plucked some tea leaves, flowers and berries.

 

 

 

 


02
Nov
08

holiday: sunrise photos

We woke at 3:30 one morning to watch the sunrise at Tiger Hill near Darjeeling.  The sun came up around 4:30am, dramatically illuminating  the mountain peaks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28
Oct
08

holiday: gangtok, sikkim.

Gangtok, the capital of the state of Sikkim, is nestled in the Himalayas in northeast India.  

 

 

   The walkway approaching Buddhist monasteries is often lined with prayer wheels inscribed with the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”.  Through the practices of meditation and chanting this mantra Buddhists identify with the Buddha of Compassion, gradually expanding their compassion to include all sentient beings.  Spinning the prayer wheels accumulates the same merit as chanting the mantra, sharing the intention that all beings become free from suffering.

 

 

 

 

Prayer wheels at monastery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            the mall at Gangtok

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

 

Gangtok at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Every morning I awoke to see this woman performing her morning prayers on the terrace.

 

   

 

 

 

    

 

   We bounced along mountain roads, sometimes just inches from a 5000-foot drop.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Tsomgo (Changu) Lake, altitude 12,400 feet.

 

Yes, we rode on yaks.


26
Oct
08

holiday: chennai to chillika.

Mahabalipuram.

 

on the train from Chennai to Bhubaneshwar.

 

 

Sun Temple at Konark.  Reliefs of scenes from the Kama Sutra (“very sexy womens doing sexy acts”).

 

Temple is the shape of a chariot; wheels are also sun dials that are accurate to within a minute & a half.

 

on a boat at Chillika Lake, a large saltwater lake in the state of Orissa.


Irawaddy dolphin.

 

waves crashing at the bay of Bengal.

 

 

 

We drank fresh coconut water on the beach…

 

...and ate the MOST delicious shrimp cooked Bengali-style with mustard oil and masala.

 

On to to our next adventure!

22
Oct
08

the sun.

We finally finished uploading the photos from our trip– all 800 of them.  We’re still deciding which photos to keep and which ones are interesting enough to share.  I’m planning to post some in the next week, along with stories of our adventures.  In the mean time, take a look at sunrise and sunset scenes of the days in Darjeeling.

 

 

 

 

13
Oct
08

postcard from the himalayas.

The computer screen flickers awaiting my commands.  Voices from the street below distract me from the hastily scrawled notes in my journal.  The manager of the cyber cafe adds Hindi film music to soundtrack of my evening.  My muscles ache from thousands of steps up and down the hills of Sikkim, a state defined by the Himalayas in the northeast corner of India.  I’ve managed to steal a few moments from sightseeing to send a quick update on our travels.  When we return to Bombay next week, I’ll upload some of our photos but in the meantime I wanted to write a virtual postcard.

Our trip began in Chennai (Madras) where we visited Sam’s extended family.  Spending time with relatives was a highlight of our trip, as we were received with much love and enthusiasm!  We also celebrated with our cousin as he won the national championship in his division of car racing.

During the twenty-two hour train ride north, I stood in the doorway of the train compartment feeling the cool breeze rush past my face.  The contours of the lush landscape were visible as lightning flashed across the sky like bulbs on a Broadway marquee.     

The Sun Temple at Konark is carved with bas-reliefs of scenes from the Kama Sutra.  Our tour guide pointed out numerous scenes of “very sexy womens doing sexy acts” in the midnight dance.

We rode in a traditional fishing boat equipped with an outboard motor at Chillika Lake.  On a beach at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal we ate freshly-caught prawns (shrimp) cooked Bengali style with  mustard oil and masala.  Sandcrabs darted in and out of their lairs as we sipped fresh coconuts before returning to the boat.

No darshan ’til seven at the Kalighat Temple in Kolkata (Calcutta).  We walked shoeless through dirty gulleys marked with red paan spit, armed with prasad (sweets) to offer the goddess idol for the Durga Puja festival.  We pushed past the crowd of devotees with the intention of participating in one of the largest festivals in the state of West Bengal.  Upon reaching the gate, however, we were told we’d have to wait another hour to get in.  We left.

We have celebrated the last few mornings in Gangtok, Sikkim, with sunrise views of snow-covered Kanchengdzonga, the third highest mountain peak in the world.  The clouds begin to rise after the sun climbs higher, obscuring the peak for the rest of the day, so we woke early to marvel at its exquisite beauty.

Tomorrow we’re heading out to Darjeeling, the main tea producing region of India, where I intend to drink coffee shamelessly.  We’ll be back in Bombay next week, and I’ll post photos and more updates.  So check back in a few days!

love, mb