Amritsar: The world famous Golden Temple, Harmandir Sahib in which is enshrined the Holy
Book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, is the centre of a
400-year-old pool in Amritsar. Next to the Golden Temple is the Akal
Takht or the Immortal Throne which was established by Guru Har Gobind
Singh in the early 17th century. This is the supreme seat of Sikhs
temporal authority. Another edifice is a 9-storey tower built in the
memory of Baba Atal Rai , decorated with frescoes depicting the life of
the founder of Sikhism - Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Not far off is Durgiana
Mandir , a Hindu Temple dedicated to Goddess Durga . Jalianwala Bagh is
a pilgrim place for every Indian, as it symbolizes India's struggle for
freedom. On the outskirts of Amritsar is Hari-ke-Pattan, a picnic spot
(Bird Sanctuary) where rivers Beas and Sutlej meet.
Of orange honey, rainfall and rolling meadows. Cherrapunje recently
lost its claim-to-fame as the 'Wettest Place On Earth' to nearby
Mawsynram. Even though it had a recorded 'best' of around 2300 cm. of
rainfall in a year and the average annual downpour is still about 1150
cm., Mawsynram is wetter. Cherrapunjee has to be content with the status
of being just 'another wet place'.
Rainfall apart, one
gets the feeling that the stark scenic beauty of Cherrapunjee has never
been fully appreciated. With rolling hill ranges, glens, moors, dells
and vales, the lush greens are counter pointed by the dark open coal
pits. To the greens are added the majestic silver of the waterfalls in
the mighty gorges. To crown the landscape are the ever-present clouds
Cherrapunjee is also
famous for its oranges. An eye-catching part of the local scene are the
orange groves, the men and women carrying oranges in conical baskets,
and heaps of oranges in the local market. Honeybees also contribute by
making Cherrapunjee's orange honey a very sought after product.
Commanding a special place on the Gujarat travellers' map, Palitana is a 'must visit'
destination for those who would like to see what the subtle combination
of human enterprise, architectural skills, philanthropy and channelised
religious fervor can achieve. The entire summit of the majestic mount
Shatrunjaya is crowned with about 900 temples, each rivalling the other
for beauty and magnificence, presenting an awe-inspiring spectacle to
devotees and visitors.
Originally the town
was an imperial thana which later grew into the capital of Palitana
State of princely Kathiawad. The feuds and rivalries culminating into
the battles during the reign of the Rajput King Unadji reminds us of the
sacrificial chivalry of an age that has passed into history. Taking
advantage of the occupation of the Bhavnagar army with Maratha forces,
Unadji had attacked Sihor. In retaliation Gohil Wakhatsinhji, the then
ruler of Bhavnagar, laid siege on Palitana. Unadji's stubborn resistance
which compelled the Bhavnagar forces to retire is even today, many
generations later, remembered by the natives of this templetown.
Away from the bustle of the main tourist routes in South Goa is a gem of a village that any discerning
visitor would love to reach. This is Betul, on the estuary of the Sal
river where it flows into the Arabian Sea.
Life in the village
is centered around fishing and coir production, beneath an attractive
canopy of coconut palms, banana, jackfruit and papaya. A jetty from the
water's edge leads to a gaily-festooned cluster of fishing boats, each
brightly coloured. When the catch comes in, the little harbour buzzes
with the happy sound of fisherfolk returning to unload their vessels. A
closer look at the estuary is possible by walking along the track that
leads towards it. For the travel-weary visitor, this picture will lift
vindaloo...xacutti ... chicken cafreal ... ! Need anything more be said
about the gourmet delights in Betul? The answer is an unqualified yes!
For there is also apa de camarao, fish reichiad (with masala sauce),
prawn balchao and ambot tik, not forgetting stuffed crabs and kishmar!
But beware, for this is only the main course. The dessert will include
the celebrated bebinca , doldol , doce and , if you haven't burst by
then, also some bolinhas and unde slapped with mangada. There is one
thing the visitor will drop down to with certainty after such a feast...
and that is an afternoon siesta. When the sun is lower, and softer, one
may saunter down the promenade where village folk look out from their
balcaos. Later, in the evening , there will be some-thing very special
in the church service followed by socialising with the village