Trip to India – Dec 2017: A Mini Travelogue : Tuesday Photo Challenge – Place

During my trip to India in December of 2017, I had a plan to post a travel diary of my journey.  However someone up there had a different plan.  During my transit at Seoul, South Korea, on my way to India, I lost my notebook computer and that was the end of the story.  I had taken lots of photographs during the trip but never got back to write a travelogue.  Sheer laziness on my part.  Hope to share some of those today with you as an opportunity presented itself.
Frank’s Tuesday Photo Challenge prompt for today was “Place”.  I decided to take this opportunity to write a mini travelogue while adhering to Franks prompt.

Bagala Devi Temple ( Nilachal Hill), Kamakhya, Guwahati, Assam- December 16, 2017
Kamakhya Temple, one of the most prominent Shakti Pitha of the fifty one Pithas of Hinduism, is situated in Nilachal Hill, about 7KM from Guwahati.  Though Kamakhya is the main temple, there are numerous other temples on the hill, specially ten temples dedicated to ten Mahavidyas (ten forms of Goddess Durga). The temple to Devi Bagalamukhi is one of them.

BagalaDevitemple, Nilachal Hills, Kamalhya_R1.jpg

Banaras and Sarnath, December 18 – December 19, 2018
Banaras (Varanasi) or Kashi is one of the holiest place for Hindus and the abode of Lord Shiva.  It is also the city of my alma mater, Banaras Hindu University or in short BHU.  My family had never been to Banaras.  After 2000 AD, this was the first time the family would be together in India.  So we made it a point to make a trip to Banaras

SunriseoverGanges_R1Sunrise over River Ganga (Ganges) – December 18, 2017
BoatsRiverGanges-R1
Boats on River Ganga, morning of December 18, 2017
Dasaashwamedh Ghat_R1
Dashashwamedh Ghat, December 19, 2017
GangArti_R1
Ganga Arti (offering puja to Ganga Mata, Mother Ganga) Evening of December 18, 2017, Dashashwamedh Ghat (taken from the roof of the guest house we stayed). This is not to be missed while in Banaras.
IITBHU_R1
Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (my alma mater), December 18, 2017.  This visit was nostalgic, to say the least.
Buddha Temple, Sarnath_R1
Maha Bodhi Temple, Sarnath, December 19, 2017.   Sarnath is less than 15 KM drive from Banaras. Lord Buddha gave his first sermon here after attaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya.
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Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath, December 19, 2017. Site of Lord Buddha’s earliest sermons.
SarnathArcheologicalSite_R1
Archaeological excavation in Sarnath by ASI , December 19, 2017.

Kaziranga National Park(KNP), Assam, December 21 – December 23, 2018.  Home of one horned rhinoceros.

Dipholu RiverKNP_R1
Dipholu River (KNP), December 22, 2017, morning.
RhinoKNP_2
The gentle giant (one horned rhino) grazing peacefully at KNP’s Kohora range, December 22, 2017 afternoon.  Its population is being decimated by well armed poachers with AK47s and other automated weapons because of its horn. The horn is in high demand in oriental medicines due to its perceived aphrodisiac power. I wrote one of my earliest poems, ” I can’t speak out for myself, will You ( shortlink: https://wp.me/p73yZZ-7J)” about poaching of rhino. It is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart.
SunsetatKazirangaNP_R1
Sunset at Kaziranga National Park, Dec 22, 2017.  No one is allowed inside the park after sunset except guards and rangers. Poachers, of course, do not wait for permission.

Majuli (Largest inhabited river island in the world), Assam, December 23 – December 25, 2017.
We crossed over river Brahmaputra from Neemati Ghat to Majuli on December 23, 2017.  The ferry trip took around one hour due to the sandbanks in the middle of the river.  We had rented a ferry to take our cars ( five cars in our family group) over.  We stayed for two nights at DekaSang Resort on the bank of river Luit ( original channel of river Brahmaputra).  Majuli is the seat of neo-vaishnavite monasteries (Satra).  Originally there were about sixty five monasteries. Now  only thirty two of them are still there as many had to move to the main land due to constant erosion of the island during the flood season.  We visited four satras on December 24, Auniati ( the largest satra in Majuli), Dakhinpat, Kamalabari and Samaguri.
CrossingRiverBrahmaputra from NimatighattoMajuli_R1
Crossing river Brahmaputra on ferry, December 23, 2017 to Majuli
DekaChang Resort, Majuli_R1
At DekaSang Resort, Majuli, morning of December 24, 2017
AuniatisatraMajuli_R1
Auniati Satra, Majuli, December 24, 2017
DakhinpatSatraMajuli_R1
Dakhinpat Satra, Majuli, December 24, 2017
MasksatSamaguriSatra, majuli_R1
Samaguri Satra, Majuli, December 24, 2017.  The culture of mask making is practiced in Samaguri Satra for centuries and is being kept alive under the able teaching of Shri Hem Chandra Goswami..  These masks are used during religious performance and traditional dramas(Ankiya Naats  and Bhaonas).
RiverLuitMajuli_R1
River Luit, in front of DekaSang, Majuli, morning of December 25, 2017
SunsetinMajuli_R1
Sunset in Majuli, December 23, 2017

Chandubi Lake, December 28, 2017, Dist. Kamrup, Assam.
Chandubi Lake, at a distance of 65 KM from the city of Guwahati ( my home town) is a natural lake formed due to a massive earthquake in 1897.  Situated at the foothills of Garo Hills, it is a very scenic and tranquil place.  We( my family of five and my brother’s family of four) drove from our home to the Inspection Bungalow by the side of the lake and after some refreshment there crossed over to the other side of the lake in a country boat.  There are a few jungle resorts on the other side managed by the local tribal villagers. We had arranged to have our lunch there( that nearly became a dinner due to our late arrival). The home cooked meal was well worth it.  Did some hiking but generally just relaxed and detoxified ourselves.
ChanddubiLake-R1
Chandubi Lake
Crossing the lake by countryboat_R1
Crossing Chandubi Lake by country boat
Enjoyingafternoonsun_R1
Enjoying afternoon sun. It was very mild weather for late December.
Swing_R1
Enjoying a swing ride
DinnerTimeatChanddubi_R1
Lunch(dinner) time. Dining room in the foreground.
EveningatChanddubi_R1
Evening was fast approaching and boats were ready to ferry us across.  Time to bid adieu to Chandubi.

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