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Showing posts from June, 2008

Pilgrimage Special: Leaving New Delhi

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New Delhi was the last leg of our trip. We spent the whole day sightseeing. The last time I was here, I had visited a fabulous ancient Red Fort but this time around, we visited some of the newer places like the Lotus Temple, India Gate and of course, Shri Lakshmi Naim Temple which was built by Shri Seth Raja Baldav Das Birla in 1938. I had been to this temple previously but this time round, I visited it at night.The temple seemed to turn orange at night with all the lightings, quite a sight yet I think but northern Hindu temples really do not look as colourful as Southern Hindu temples and I suppose, they are not as elaborate too. Well, that about wrap up my pilgrimage trip to India. After that, it was off to Indira Gandhi International Airport where we were to board a plane to Kuala Lumpur and then to Penang. Goodbye India for now and I'll be looking forward to seeing you!
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Coming up next: Borneo Break!The Shri Lakshmi Naim Temple...






Yeong Ming and his family at the airport...

T…

Pilgrimage Special: A Beautiful Day at India Gate

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From afar, one could perhaps mistaken India Gate for the The Arc de Triomphe. But India Gate is not in the middle of a busy street in Paris. I would say the war memorial which houses the Indian dead of the First World War is in the middle of an idyllic park in Rajpath. The first time I visited it; it was on a misty morning and the place was deserted as it was cordoned off by police who feared attack on it by terrorists. In the early evening when I was there on my second trip, there were many vendors around, selling food and quaint toys and many families were having a good time. It was indeed a beautiful day at India Gate!
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At India Gate...




Pilgrimage Special: From a Distance

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The Bahá'í House of Worship in New Delhi is popularly known as the Lotus Temple. It looks like a lotus and no doubt, was inspired by one. An Iranian, Fariborz designed it and Ardishír Rustampúr of Hyderabad gave his entire life savings for its construction. Since its completion in 1986, it has become a prominent attraction. Besides winning numerous architectural awards and being featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, it has become one of the most visited buildings in the world, its numbers of visitors in certain years even surpassing those of Eiffel Tower and Taj Mahal. In my second visit to India, I got to visit the temple but since we went on a Monday, we had to make do with just admiring it from a distance. The temple was closed on a Monday and that goes to say: Make sure the place you are visiting is open on the day you visit!
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Vendors outside the gates of the Lotus Temple...

The Lotus Temple... From a Distance...




Travel Tip: Check the schedule!

Pilgrimage Special: Advice on Stone

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King Asoka, the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty was a cruel and ruthless king. He conquered Kalingas, a republic in central eastern IndiaKing Asoka, the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan Dynasty was a cruel and ruthless king. He conquered Kalingas, a republic in central eastern India around 264 BCE, but the death of one thousand people or more during the war make him remorseful.He thereafter converted to Buddhism and established a reign of virtue. In the nineteenth century, there came to light a number of edicts, in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan inscribed on rocks and pillars, that proclaim Asoka's reforms and policies and promulgate his advice to his subjects.In New Delhi, I got to see Asoka's addict on a rock...
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Somewhere in New Delhi...
, but the death of one hundred thousand people or more during the war left him remorseful. He thereafter converted to Buddhism and established a reign of virtue. In the nineteenth century, there came to light …

Pilgrimage Special: Loony tales

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From Agra, we took a bus to New Delhi. It was a long journey and as usual, we made several stop for the loo. The cold weather in India and the constant consumption of water for fear of dehydration rendered most of us vulnerable to this constant urge of wanting to ease ourselves. The journey from Agra to New Delhi was not so bad since we could easily stop at petrol stations and other suitable places to find a toilet but throughout most of our trip when we were traveling from one Buddhist site to another, the roads we passed through were long lonely stretches of agriculture land, forest or little hamlets and almost always, there would be someone calling out to the driver to pull over so that he or she could ease himself or herself by the roadside. Of course, only one of us would ask the driver to stop but many others, in fact all of us, would take the opportunity to go down too to ease ourselves since we would not know when the next stop would be. For the men, we would just look for so…

Pilgrimage Special: In Search for an Arahant

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The haggling in the bus had resulted in the group splitting into two. One group opted to spend more time in Taj Mahal and the Red Fort; which were must see spots in Agra. As I had been to both places in a previous visit, I opted to join the group to Mathura in search of King Asoka's teacher who was believed to be an arahant. Of course, since some members in this group were first timer to India and had never yet set sight on the famous tomb, Taj Mahal, we decided to visit that place first thing after lunch for a quickie. Then, it was off to Mathura in a van. Mathura, which I often confused with Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Mathura is approximataely 50 km north of Agra but it seems such a long journey. We reached there a little bit over five and the museum which we intended to visit was closed. It is a shame though because theMathura Museum has the largest collection of Redstone sculptures in Asia, depicting many famous Buddha figurines. Fa Hien had mentioned the city, as a centre of Bud…

Pilgrimage Special: Tomb Tales

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Taj Mahal, the grand tomb built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal combines the elements from Persian, Turkish, Indian and Islamic architectural style and is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture. Being hailed as one of the wonders of the world, many come from afar to see this jewel and it is no wonder that some would not be satisfied with just a glimpse of it especially if it was through the train window. All of us would therefore visit Taj Mahal and see it from near. Many years back, it had been reported that the marble that made up the mausoleum was getting brown with all the air pollution. This time round when I was at the Taj Mahal, I was shuffled into a van operated by electricity which took us to the main entrance where one could get the tickets to get into the UNESCO heritage site. Once inside, we were also given a pair of throwaway shoes to wear over our very own dusty shoes. They should have done that the first time I vis…

Pilgrimage Special: Haggling in a Bus

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In Agra, the plan was this: We would have breakfast in our hotel and then we would leave for the city's most famous tourist spot - the world renown Taj Mahal. and the Red Fort. Some of us would also take an optional tour. We would go off to Madurai, in search of King Asoka's teacher. But then, plans were plans. Instead of reaching Agra at around six in the morning, we reached very much later, most probably at nine or ten and when a bus picked us up, there was much talk and haggling about what we should do next. With the time constraint, it would be impossible to really enjoy Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and Madurai all at the same time since the latter was a town quite a distance away unlike Taj Mahal and the Red Fort which were just in town. So, we haggled in the bus: We could either visit Taj Mahal and Red Fort or we could opt just for Madurai...

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A roadside peddler in Agra...


Our hotel in Agra - Holiday Inn...


Pilgrimage Special: Plan Spoilers

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The train delay reminded me of my first visit to India. Then, a train had turned up only the next day. We were waiting for it one night and being a first timer, our group had foolishly, waited in the cold of the night when we could be waiting in a warm waiting room and I would be tempted to say that we got chilled to the bones -yes, it was really, really cold in North India in December, especially in Agra, New Delhi, Jaipur and Simla, which were some of the places which we had visited then. Some people seemed to think that India is a hot, tropical country but that was in summer and probably, that too, was South India, which I had yet to set foot on. North India has summer and winter but while it was cold there in winter, there is no snow except in Simla and some other places like Kashmir. I did not feel so cold in the Buddhist pilgrimage sites like Lumbini, Sarnath and Bodhgaya which I thought was strange since these places, I thought, are located further north and should be colde…