The land of Kuru

DSC00122Bronze – Krishna & Arjuna  on the chariot ( 60’ long/ 35’ high) Along the banks of Brahma Sarovar

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DSC00166Bhadrakali temple – one of the 51 shaktipithas. Horses made of clay are traditionally offered here.

DSC00113Brahma Sarovar

DSC00143Ladies bathing area on the ghats

“Where next?”

“ To Kurushetra”

Eyebrows go up quizzically.

I must confess to having some preconceived notions myself. Eventually reduced to pulp as it turns out.

Past NH1 & less than 4 hours from the national capital, Kurushetra comprises an area covering 48 Kos, one Kos roughly equivalent to a mile & a half.

Myths & legends associated with the place go back several centuries BC. Not only is it a revered Hindu site, it was visited by all the Gurus of Sikhism & by the Buddha himself, giving it rare religious credence. Sufis & Mystics followed, congregating at the ghats on the day of the solar eclipse – to practice & to preach.

Despite this combination of history, legend & myth the one lasting impression is of a town firmly rooted in the present. Albeit quietly on the move

Witness the broad roads, residential areas segmented into sectors, the spectacular campus of Kurushetra University, the museum & the Planetarium where school children flock in droves.

The Krishna museum showcasing the past has more than a thousand footfalls a day, as do the Ghats of the Sarovar. It is believed that the mythical Saraswati once flowed through this land. Geographical changes dried up the river turning it to slush before the water from the Bhakra Nangal was brought in to replenish & restore.

A case of past meets present. And all for the good.

Kurushetra is above all an aspirational town with a feel good factor. Pilgrims, striving for moksha continue to visit in hordes but many more come to avail ample educational opportunities in pursuit of a better material life.

The inspiration clearly is Kalpana Chawla.

Not Bhishma Pitamah lying on a bed of arrows (museum).

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Highway Eatery

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Brahma Sarovar

TROY

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TROY

The winds bring wealth to Troy

May 16,2012

I was booked at the Kervansaray, a hotel that spelt old world charm & hospitality. It is nicely located near the clock tower &  Fountain Square, less than 100 meters away from the bustling life of the jetty & promenade. It is a beautiful heritage property once owned by Abdurrahim Efendi a member of the Turkish aristocracy & judge in Canakkale. It remained a family property for 3 generations until it was renovated & converted into a hotel some years ago. I had a room (no: 205 / 45 euro) in the heritage wing but alas it overlooked a side street . The rooms all had ornate mirrors & polished parquet flooring & ceiling. The bannister & the stairs going down to the main lobby, likewise well kept & maintained. The door knobs/ bolts etc. a shiny brass belonging to another era. Altogether the wood, mirror, brass combo giving a nice warm feeling. A modern annex has been added to the main building with a garden separating the two wings but the character of the place remains unchanged. Everyday breakfast is served in the annex & its rather a good spread with an array of breads & cold cuts along with the regular eggs, fruit, juice & jam. Best of all most of the staff speak English. They are good at their job & attend to matters promptly. A minor plumbing problem was immediately resolved. My trip to Troy fixed in an instant. There were maps available at the reception. Also the girl manning it had a lot of information that she shared willingly & with a smile. There was free Internet & Wi-Fi, a bar, library & lobby. Would certainly recommend the place. Highly recommended one & all.

If stones could speakTrojan horse replica

The Troy tour at 70 TL takes 3 hours. It includes AC transport, hotel pick up & drop along with the services of a qualified guide.  There were 3 other persons that day – Australians from Adelaide – as we drove the 30 odd kms from Canakkale to Troy accompanied by Mustafa our guide. He was distinguished, well spoken but looked a trifle bored. The result perhaps of our being such a tiny group. The one-hour drive past low hills & the Dardanelles is beautiful. Much like most of the Turkish countryside. It is a lovely day too, as we disembark to begin the walking tour of the ruins. The archaeological sites of the ancient city, Troy 1 – 1X are still being excavated. One wonders  what they will finally yield. For the moment there is just a replica of the famous Trojan horse, the ruins of the sacrificial altar, the senate building, the concert hall, sundry artifacts, mostly pottery & terracota from early times. And of course the spectacular old stonewalls dating back to 3700 BC. The impregnable defences of ancient Troy. A marvel to behold. If only the stones would speak ! This alone made the entire trip worthwhile, for there are hardly enough ‘remains’ to be seen. But like I said the excavation is still on. Who knows what it will reveal.

The legend of Troy has always held a strange fascination. Hence this visit at the expense of other more popular tourist destinations.  The excavated sites were not exciting enough, a huge disappointment no doubt.

And the sea, in the far distance would surely have been closer in Homeric times, one thought.

Yet it was strangely moving to be standing on the very ground where the brave & noble Hector fought legendary Achilles who had his body dragged in full view of aged Priam, lovely Andromache, beauteous Helen, Paris, & the rest.

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