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

Om Beach Gokarna, Karnataka, India

Om Beach Gokarna Karnataka  India

July 05 -14,2012

Gokarna is a small temple town in south India about 170 kms south of Goa. It is famous for the mythology associated with its temples, bovine life & lovely sandy beaches. ‘Go karna’ translated literally means cows ear. And you see these creatures roaming everywhere especially on the beaches. Om beach is in the shape of the Sanskrit word ‘Om’. The primeval sound that resonates in the universe & which symbolizes an auspicious beginning. It is a sandy beach along the Arabian Sea that is muddy & turbulent during the monsoons. Two rivers empty out into the sea here. There are shacks, shops, hotels, inns & resorts on the beach but only in season.  A Hippie paradise much like Goa, the difference is that it is essentially a sacred temple town.

The nearest airport is Dabolim Goa but it can also be reached by rail & road. All the trains coming from the north to Kerela halt either at Gokarna town or at a station nearby as it is on the picturesque Konkan line.

Local lass

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Gokarna is basically a collection of temples & beaches. It has some architecturally interesting old homes & paved streets. Wish it wasn’t littered the way it unfortunately is. What’s with the Hindus & their unique heritage I begin to wonder. Why are they never able or even inclined to live up to it?

I hope I am wrong & that there is beginning to be a slow  & perceptible change, for six kms away is SwaSwara the beautiful CGH Earth property. It is bang on Om beach & actively contributes to keeping the environs clean. SwaSwara blends harmoniously with the surrounding land & seascape. Local laterite has been used in its construction. It is 26 acres of pristine natural & man made habitat out of which the built in area is a mere 11 acres. (For more details access its website)

Normally a late riser I would wake up around 4 am  – the hour of Brahma according to the scriptures – before the birds & the bees even. In the stillness of the dark the only sound was the roar of the sea or the pitter-patter perhaps of the relentless monsoon rain. I’d walk the lonely beach or meditate atop a ridge returning to my exclusive Konkan villa with the first chirping of the birds & gulls. Ah yes, there was a cock that crowed –  shrilly too.

Time for worship