|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.
CHERRAPUNJEE: 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 and mists.
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
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 the spirits.
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 residents.