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Ganesh Chaturthi 2012, Pune: Pandals, 4

Sunday, September 30, 2012

So we continue with Dagdusheth Ganpati's replica of the Hawa Mahal of Jaipur.

Walking through Pune some weeks ago I came across this construction site. It was huge! I wondered what is was and soon found out that it was for Ganesh Chaturthi. 

It is a replica (from wooden plate material) of the famous Rajasthan palace Hawa Mahal. Coincidentally we are going to visit the real one in 2 weeks from now;-)!

Ganesh Chaturthi 2012, Pune: Pandals, 3

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Today we take a closer look at the Ganesh celebrations of and around Dagdusheth temple. I am sure, that like me, you will be amazed and impressed!

First of all the temple itself is beautifully decorated and lit up. 

Normally the temple looks like this:

Ganesh Chaturthi 2012, Pune: Pandals, 2

Friday, September 28, 2012

Walking through Pune during the 11 days of Ganesh, you encounter numerous Ganesh idols and pandals everywhere, from small to large.

There are though some Ganesha's in the city that are considered the most famous and important. 

The newspaper highlights one of those each day, describing the history and context of that specific statue.

Ganesh Chaturthi 2012, Pune: Kolam

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What is a Kolam?

From Wikipedia:

"Kolam is a form of painting that is drawn using rice powder, chalk, white rock powder and/or naturally/synthetically colored powders.

It is mainly practiced in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and a few other Asian countries. 

A Kolam is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots. In South India, it is widely practised by female Hindu family members in front of their homes.

Kolams are thought to bring prosperity to homes. Every morning in Tamil Nadu, millions of women draw kolams on the ground with white rice powder. Through the day, the drawings get walked on, rained out, or blown around in the wind; new ones are made the next day. Every morning before sunrise, the floor of the owners house, or where ever it may be, is cleaned with water and the muddy floor is swept well for an even surface. The kolams are generally drawn while the surface is still damp so that it is held better.

Decoration was not the sole purpose of a Kolam. In olden days, kolams used to be drawn in coarse rice flour, so that the ants don't have to walk that much for a meal. The rice powder is said to invite birds and other small critters to eat it, thus inviting other beings into one's home and everyday life: a daily tribute to harmonious co-existence. It is a sign of invitation to welcome all into the home, not the least of whom is Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity. 

The patterns range between geometric and mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free form art work and closed shapes."

During Ganesh, I saw kolam in and in front of the hotel and in front of the Dagdusheth Temple:

In front of hotel; gorgeous, isn't it?!

Ganesh Chaturthi 2012, Pune: Pandals, 1

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Two days ago I wrote the following:

"Ganesh Chaturthi starts with the installation of these Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures (pandals) in every locality. 

The pandals are erected by the people of a specific society or locality or group by collecting monetary contributions. The pandals are decorated specially for the festival, either by using decorative items like flower garlands, lights, etc. or with theme based decorations, which depict religious themes or current events."

In the weeks before the start of the festival we saw indeed several pandals being erected. From simple structures to enormous ones. 

The simple ones are basically an elevated, decorated stage for the idol. The larger ones, usually belonging to famous (and rich) temples, depict another building, setting or theme each year.

We will stroll along some smaller pandals, taking in the street decorations at the same time:

Setting up a modest sized basic one.

Ganesh Chaturthi 2012, Pune: Idols

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In my post from yesterday I wrote the following:

"Two to three months before Ganesh Chaturthi, artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha are made for sale by specially skilled artisans. They are beautifully decorated and depict Lord Ganesh in poses. The size of these statues may vary from 3/4 of an inch to over 70 feet."

There are a lot of discussions and trends going on, like the ones we saw e.g. around the use of gulal, the color powder used at Holi (for more info you can read my post ) and around our Christmas trees (real or fake, reuse or not).

Hot topics are: how to celebrate it in a 'green' way (ecologically responsible) and in a safe way (health wise).

In the old days, the idols were made out of natural clay, which dissolves in water. The last decades they are made out of POP (Plaster of Paris) and decorated with toxic paints. Both not biodegradable and highly polluting rivers and environment.

So now there is a call to the public to use natural, degradable materials. Other suggestions are to only symbolically immerse your idol and to keep en reuse it next year. And/or to not each buy you own idol, but to buy one with a group of people, e.g. your neighbours.

Ganesh Chaturthi 2012, Pune

Monday, September 24, 2012

We were lucky to be in Pune during the famous Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations that last 10 days.

What is Ganesh Chaturthi? How is it celebrated? 

Some exerpts from Wikipedia:

Ganesha Chaturthi
 is the Hindu festival celebrated on the birthday (re-birth) of Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati.
It is believed that Lord Ganesh bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival.

Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel. The festival is also known as Ganeshotsav ("festival of Ganesha") and lasts for 10 days.

Two to three months before Ganesh Chaturthi, artistic clay models of Lord Ganesha are made for sale by specially skilled artisans. They are beautifully decorated and depict Lord Ganesh in poses. The size of these statues may vary from 3/4 of an inch to over 70 feet.

Ganesh Chaturthi starts with the installation of these Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures mandapas (pandals) in every locality. The pandals are erected by the people or a specific society or locality or group by collecting monetary contributions. The pandals are decorated specially for the festival, either by using decorative items like flower garlands, lights, etc. or are theme based decorations, which depict religious themes or current events.

The priest, usually clad in red or white dhoti and uttariyam (Shawl), then with the chanting of mantras invokes the presence of Ganesha using the statue as a channel, or body for his energy. After this, the 16 ways of paying tribute follow. Coconut, jaggery, 21 modakas, 21 durva (trefoil) blades of grass and red flowers are offered.

Ganesha is worshipped for 10 days. On the 11th day, the statue is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, and fanfare to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees.

At individual homes this is also done on 3rd, 5th or 7th day as per the family tradition.  After the final offering of coconuts, flowers and camphor is made, people carry the idols to the river to immerse it.

Some homes buy their own small clay statue, and after 1,3 or 11 days immerse it in a bucket or tub at home, so as not to pollute public lakes or rivers. After a few days the clay is used in the home garden.

From tomorrow onwards I will illustrate the above with pictures. Hopefully you will come back every day for some gorgeous and interesting pictures from these celebrations!

European amusement park in Pune

Sunday, September 23, 2012

We saw there was a European Amusement park in Pune, combined with a replica of the Taj Mahal. Just having seen the real Taj Mahal, this temporary attraction in Pune intrigued me. So we decided to pay it a visit, just for fun... Our expectations were not very high.

The use of the word european as a recommendation is more seen in India, like in Singapore Korean is a good recommendation. Funny!

Agra Fort

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Agra has a gorgeous fort too. In fact you can see a lot of similarities between the Red Fort in Delhi, the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort. Not so strange, since they were built by the same Mughal dynasty in the same era.

From wikipedia:

Agra Fort, is  located in Agra, about 2.5 km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled city. After the First Battle of Panipat, in 1526 Mughals captured the fort and a vast treasure - which included a diamond later known as the Koh-i-Noor diamond - was seized.

The fort was in a ruined condition and Akbar had it rebuilt with red sandstone. Some 1,444,000 builders worked on it for eight years, completing it in 1573.

It was only during the reign of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, that the site took on its current state. Legend has it that Shah Jahan built the beautiful Taj Mahal for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan also built the Red Fort in Delhi.

At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was taken prisoner by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died inside the fort, locked up in a tower with a marble balcony with a view of the Taj Mahal.

Let's have a look now:

Taj Mahal

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Taj Mahal is one of the official seven world wonders and it is considered a must-see. 

Several friends that had already visited the place had told me that it is indeed a beautiful building and site, but also very touristic.

I agree with them. It is beautiful and of course very interesting to learn about the history of the building. But is it so much more beautiful then e.g. the Red Fort in Delhi? No, not really, not for me at least. 

Let's have a look, shall we?

So for this afternoon we got ourselves a guide:

Talking to the guide.

Let's go to Agra!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

From Delhi we made a day trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal.

Since about one month, there is a new express highway from Delhi to Agra, which reduces the driving time to  3,5 to 4 hours by car one way.
Still a long ride, but at least we did not have to take the train at 6 in the morning;-).

So we hired a taxi with driver, who -ofcourse- right away tried to push a guide for the Taj Mahal upon us. For a while we refused, but in the end we gave in, especially since that guide would lead us around all the hassle that you encounter there as a tourist.

Our taxi.

Hectic Old Delhi

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yesterday I took you on a tour through the Red Fort in Old Delhi. This complex lies right in the heart of the old city, which I will show you today.

We walked around in this area for at the most two hours and it was utter madness! It was -again- super hot hot hot. And there were people, animals and activity everywhere. In fact we could almost not stand still anywhere to take a picture e.g., because that would cause blockage for the constant stream of traffic and people. Or we would get run over by someone or something;-).

Add the usual (for India) amount of noise and smell to that and you have an overwhelming concoction.

You, as a reader, will have to do without the sound and smell (lucky for you, I would say), but I hope that my pictures still make you feel the hectic of the old city and the couleur locale.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi everybody!

Today is the start of the 10 day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi in Pune.

I hope to be able to catch some of it on several days, take some nice pics and blog about it next week or so.

Red Fort, Delhi

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A bit of history first:

"The Red Fort  is a 17th century fort complex constructed by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in the walled city of Old Delhi (in present day Delhi, India) that served as the residence of the Mughal Emperors.  It served as the capital of the Mughals until 1857, when Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled by the British Indian government.

The fort lies along the Yamuna River, which fed the moats that surround most of the walls. The construction of the Red Fort began in 1638 and was completed by 1648.  It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007."

So far for the Wikipedia text. 

The Red Fort of Delhi is huge and impressive, with lots of buildings inside the complex and a very interesting history. We really enjoyed walking around at these premises. If you take into account what is known about what the fort and it's decor looked like in the old days, then you can imagine how breathtakingly rich and beautiful it must have been during the Mughal period!
Decorated with materials like copper, gold and silver for ceilings and domes, and gems and marble for walls, unfortunately all stolen by conquerers.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Over the past week you have been able to wander through Nek Chand's Rock Garden in Chandigarh.
Today I end my series from our day trip with an impression of the train ride and of Chandigarh itself.

I booked hotel and train tickets online; the train tickets were cheap, even for good seats in an express train. About 15 euro per person for a return ticket for 8 hours on the train. Reserved seats and very comfortable.

For that money we were served food and drinks non-stop; water, tea, soup, bread, hot meals, snacks. Although not much that I liked (let's call it indian airplane food) , I found it a very good and generous service!

Nek Chand Rock Garden in Chandigarh, part 5

Sunday, September 16, 2012

As promised, my fifth and last post about the Nek Chand Rock Garden shows you the animals in this garden. Not the real ones. Apart from the stray dog that was walking through the area, it seems that it is a very popular place amongst birds to nest. But I was talking about the sculptures and mosaic figurines.

I am not sure what they all are, but I think I recognized monkeys, camels, horses, goats, deer, dogs, waterbuffalo's, bulls, cows, birds and elephants. 

Here they are:

Nek Chand Rock Garden, part 4

Saturday, September 15, 2012

In today's post we see some other varieties and tomorrow we will end with the animals of the Rock Garden.

One-, two- or even three-faced pebble figurines.

Nek Chand Rock Garden in Chandigarh, part 3

Friday, September 14, 2012

Let's continue our exploration of the Nek Chand Rock Garden.

As we learned yesterday, the whole place is built from scrap. Literally. All the materials are recycled. One of the materials he used were bangles. You know, the famous Indian bracelets that are very commonly worn up to this day.

Often made out of glass.

Nek Chand Rock Garden in Chandigarh, part 2

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yesterday I kept you in suspense;-). Well, today your waiting is rewarded. Let's go through that small door!

Ah, look, that is one of the statues that I wanted to see with my own eyes!

Nek Chand Rock Garden in Chandigarh, part 1

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So we went on a short trip to Delhi. Yesterday I reported about our hotel there.

From Delhi we made a day trip to Chandigarh, in particular to visit the Nek Chand Rock Garden, a dream of mine.

It was a long train ride, but for me it was worth it. I would like to share what I have seen.

First a little background about this place:

In the middle: Nek Chand.

Pretty Imperial versus Welcoming Westin

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We came back last night from a trip to Delhi, Agra and Chandigarh. A very enjoyable trip, from which I will report to you in a number of posts during the following days.

I want to start of with our hotel in Delhi:

We stayed 4 nights @TheImperial Hotel in Delhi. My expectations were high, after what I saw and read on the internet and in magazines. It looked beautiful and with all the awards it had won it should definitely be able to give us a unique and royal experience.

Pune, part 14: pimp my ride

Monday, September 10, 2012

So I like to recycle, upcycle, downcycle, decorate, beautify aka pimp or pimpify, as I call it jokingly. 
I tend to put flowers, glitter, decorations and so on on everything. Be it my bike, my car, my house, my garden....whatever.

Not surprising that I love to see that also when done by others.

In principle I find cars utterly boring and ugly, but if someone gives it a personal touch, something colorful, crazy and over the top, I can love it.

Here is my 'collection' of pimped rides that I ran into in Pune so far:

Pune, part 13: Vishrambaug Wada

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vishrambaag Wada  is described at Wikipedia as "a fine mansion" situated at central Pune's Thorale Bajirao Road. It was the luxurious residence of Peshwa Bajirao II, the last Peshwa of Maratha confederacy, in early seventeenth century. The same one that built Shaniwar Wada and that I showed you on a picture: the horse rider statue.

The 20,000 sq. ft. wada presently houses a post office on its ground floor, a few other offices of the municipal corporation and a small museum of Maratha artefacts .
The structure is famous for its fine entrance and the balcony with carved woodwork.
And indeed, agreed, that entrance is spectacular. But man, was I shocked by the state it is in. This is supposed to be one of the restored or renovated wada's and it looks like a mess. What a shame!!!!

It looks so deteriorated, while the beauty is very obvious. I hope it will receive better treatment and that it will be conserved well.

Pune, part 12: Punakars

Saturday, September 8, 2012

So far I have not seen many other white people in Pune. Yes, of course, in our hotel, which is an international 5 star hotel, we do see people from everywhere. But in town....not so much.

We see mainly Punakars, I presume, or at least Indians. Here are some pictures:

Reading or sleeping in a park.

Pune, part 11: Shaniwar Wada; the palace fort

Friday, September 7, 2012

Shaniwarwada  is a palace fort, built in 1746. It was the seat of the Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire until 1818 when the Peshwas surrendered to the British. The fort itself was largely destroyed in 1828 by an unexplained fire, but the surviving structures are now maintained as a tourist site.

It must have been huge and very impressive, as described by various visitors from afar, in those days. Too bad, that not much has remained. 

At it's peak period over 1000 people were living inside the fort, around the royal family.
One of the buildings inside the walls was 7 stories high.

The various gates in the fortified walls were meant for different people, e.g. one was for the mistress, another for the concubines. 

Once inside the fortified walls these days, all is left are some ruins and a big green, garden area where people are meeting, relaxing, etc. 

A part of the fort walls.

Pune, part 10: Central Pune's architecture

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Walking through Central Pune, the area of the Peths (neighborhoods) and Wadas (court yarded houses), you see quite a lot of nice architecture. Or maybe I should say: "...what obviously once used to be beautiful architecture...". Since practically everything seems in some state of (urban) decay and neglect. 

For photographic reasons I see the charm of urban decay, but in fact I find it quite sad to see all this cultural heritage and history crumble down. If not restored and cared for, no doubt these buildings will fall apart one day and disappear.

Anyway, not much that  can do about that, so I'll just show it to you in the -let's say- rustic state that it is in now:

Wood carved detail around a huge courtyard.

Pune, part 9: Mahatma Pule Mandai vegetable market

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mandai, officially known as Mahathma Phule Mandai, is the biggest vegetable market in Pune City. It is located in heart of Pune in Shukrawar Peth area. 

The market has eight entrances and  is located next to Tulsi Baugh which is another big market in Pune.

Along with vegetables one can also get fruits and articles for Pooja (Hindu worship). 

This market was built by the British Government during the Indian pre-independence era. It has about 526 stalls of fruits and vegetables and is often crowded because all fruits and vegetable are available at very low cost.

I have read that this market also has its separate Ganesh Mandal during Ganesh Festival and is famous in Pune and Maharashtra, so I will definitely check that out.

Now for an impression of the market, the colonial building and the veggies inside and around it:

Pune, part 8: business in Central Pune's peths

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I promised you architecture today, but had a change of heart;-).

Today I show you what you see when walking through the hustle and bustle of Central Pune's peth's.

Peth is a general term, in the Marathi language, for a locality in the Indian city of Pune. Most of Pune's originally 17 peths were established in the 17th-19th century. 
Today the peths form the heart of Pune city and are referred to as the old city, and considered to be the cultural heart of Pune.

There are shops and craftsmen everywhere, lined up along streets and alleys. It is crowded with people and traffic and it is very lively and colorful. Last but not least, people in general were very friendly towards us.

Here we go; categories of businesses are usually clustered within certain paths or streets:

Fabrics; like saris or turbans:

Exploring Central Pune, India, part 7

Monday, September 3, 2012

OK, enough about the hotel, about the sky and about music...let's explore Pune.

I took the autorikshaw to go from the hotel to the oldest part of town, Central Pune. These autorikshaws are quite low, especially for a tall european like myself, so you can not sit up straight. And if you like to look outside, you have to bend even deeper. But apart from that (and the hassle to make them turn on their meter) they are very handy and breezy rides. 

And there is a lot to be seen along the way:

In an autorikshaw.

Pune, India, part 6

Sunday, September 2, 2012

You have seen the hotel from the inside, I have shown you the views from the terrace over the river and the city, now let's go for a walk.

When we exit the hotel, we see right away some nice murals. They are placed on the walls of the hotel's Kue Bar.

Pune, India, part 5

Saturday, September 1, 2012

In my previous posts I already wrote about the weather, going from sun to clouds, from hot to cool, and sometimes all of a sudden very windy.

This leads to dramatic skies and heavy cloud formations, like these ones:

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