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Devotees begin three-week long pilgrimage in Maharashtra

     Pune: Thousands of devotees have in Pune to take part in the annual pilgrimage to the temple dedicated to a medieval saint-poet in Maharastra's Pandharpur region. In pouring rain, the devotees have been thronging the courtyard of the Sant Tukaram temple at Dehu for the marathon 21-day trek. According to the tradition, the devotees carry the deity's palanquin to the Vithoba Temple in Pandharpur, about 246 kilometres away. Sant Tukaram's son Narayanmaharaj started the palanquin procession of the Bhakti sect in 1634. On its way, the procession will also be joined by similar palanquins of other saints from the Bhakti sect, notably the Sant Dyaneshwar Maharaj from Alandi region. "When the palanquin leaves for the main destination Pandharpur it will have 162-175 dindi (groups) and one dindi has 500-600 people. Then we will reach the main place on full moon day and then afterwards we make our return journey," said Rambhav More, a priest. Both the saints represent the Bhakti cult movement founded over 700 years ago on principles of simplicity, renunciation and devotion. For the devotees the annual pilgrimage is a cherished family tradition. "I have come here because my wishes have been fulfilled. My grandfather and my father used to come here, and I also want to follow their footsteps," Dinesh Navle, a devotee. The pilgrims also accompany palanquins carrying the sandals of saints singing and dancing on their way. Elaborate security have also been arrangements have been made for the pilgrimage considered as a cultural heritage of the state.
-June 29, 2005

Chilled Rohtang pass- a 'hot' summer spot (Go to Top)

     Shimla: As North India reels under a intense heat wave, the Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh has emerged as a "hot spot"for tourists keen to escape the scorching heat of the plains. Rohtang Pass, which is the highest point on the Manali- Keylong road, was opened to tourists earlier this month. Situated about 51 km from Manali at an altitude of 4,111 metres, on the highway to Keylong, it provides a wide panoramic view of the mountains rising far above the clouds, which is truly a breathtaking sight. This pass is the gateway to the Lahul region from Manali. Here one sees the majesty of the mountains in all their splendour. At the top of the Pass the air adds to the glitter of the snow. There is the beautiful Doshohar ('Sarkund') Lake left to the pass, which is visited by pilgrims every year on the 20th day of Bhadon. It is said that a bath in the water of this lake cures all bodily ailments. To the opposite of Rohtang is the well defined 'Sonepani Glacier'. The Beas river originates near the crest of Rohtang ,from a block of Mica-Schist. Rohtang Pass is an adventurer's dream destination. A variety of adventure activities like ski scooters, ski tubes, skiing, sleigh and yak rides can be taken up in the area. The tourists visiting the area are extremely excited about seeing snow in the midst of summer season. In recent years, the pass used to open in May. But this year it opened a month late due to continuous snowfall in the summer. The pass received unusually heavy snowfall earlier this week. The locals said the unexpected snowfall has been a boon to tourism in the area. "This year the influx of tourists is more because the snowfall in this area was double in comparison to other years. Normally there is only about 10-12 feet of snow in the month of June, but this year it was around 25 feet. So, the tourist inflow is good," says Dharamchand, A snow scooter Instructor. In addition to Rohtang, Himachal Pradesh has many other tourist attractions. Located in the foothills of Himalayas, the State has picturesque scenes of snow-clad mountains, blue skies and green valleys. Nearly four million tourists visit the state every year and the number is increasing by about 15 percent annually. Beyond Rohtang pass lies the remote and, perhaps, the stark and haunting landscape of predominantly Buddhist areas. The comparative inaccessibility of the place has helped preserve the pristine culture of the people of the region.
-June 24, 2005

Himachal's Kangra Valley a new tourist destination (Go to Top)

     Kangra (Himachal Pradesh): The Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh has of late become the favourite tourist destination of Indians and foreigners. Located on the banks of the River Beas, the valley provides an ideal escapade for people living in the scorchingly hot plains across north India. The valley is attractive equally for sightseeing, adventure sports and religious tourism. Its breathtaking view, colourful lifestyle, Tibetan shrines, and variety of flora and fauna offer visitors an exceptional and unique experience. "Kangra Valley is now emerging as a favourite destination for Indian as well as foreign tourists who are visiting Himachal Pradesh. The reason is we are in position of offering varieties of tourism. One is of course the snow-clad mountains which one can see in the month of June when temperature has gone up. So, of course, this place is emerging as a favourite destination," said Bharat Khera, Deputy Commissioner of Kangra District. Wooded with oak and conifer trees and snow-capped mountains, most tourists say it is an enriching and dream-like experience. "We can see snow. It has lush green valley along with the visual images of Kangra valley is very effective and just to all these images people form far off places come here," said Kuldeep Kunal,a tourist. "Its really wonderful to escape from the heat in plains, so its naturally beautiful.There is also very interesting of people here. You have Tibetans,Indians and a lot of western who come here. So you have the people, the natural beauty and the climate of course which is just right at this time of year," said MichelIe D'arcy, a foreign tourist. The Kangra valley is one of the most picturesque valley of lower Himalyas. The valley, sheltered by the sublime Dhauladhar range, is green and luxuriant. It provides a tremendous contrast in nature of places to be visited. Dharamshala is full of Buddhist air whereas ancient Hindu Temples like Brajeshwari, Baijnath, Jawalamukhi and Chamunda Devi dot the country side. The history of Kangra valley dates back to the Vedic times more than 3500 yrs. ago. The area was exposed to successive invasions, the last being the British domination over the princes of the hill states. Despite the onslaughts and political upheavels, the arts and crafts of the region continued to develop and found lyrical expressions. Crafts like the exquisitely designed shawls and miniature paintings of this region are internationally appreciated. The Jawalamukhi Temple, the Kangra Fort (located on a strategic height, overlooking the Ban Ganga and Manjhi rivers). and the Brajeswari Devi temple (located just outside the town) are some of attractive destinations in the Kangra Valley. The trip to the valley is incomplete without a trip on the Kangra Toy Train. It provides an unmatched way to savour the Kangra Valley's beauty and bounty Hindi, Punjabi, English and Pahari are the popular languages used in the area by people engaged in the tourism trade. As far as religious tourism is concerned, Himachal Pradesh is known since the earliest of times as "Devabhoomi", the abode of the Gods. The splendid heights of the Himalyan ranges, with its great scenic beauty and aura of spiritual calm seem the natural home of the Gods. Two thousands or more temples all over the state, reiterate this fact. Being a state full of isolated valleys and high ranges, there are several different styles of temple architecture that have been developed and there are temples with carved stone shikharas, pagoda style shrines, temples that look like Buddhist Gompas or Sikh Gurudwaras etc. Several of them are important places of pilgrimage and each year attract thousands of devotees from all over the country.
-June 24, 2005

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References: Lucknow, the City of Nawabs, beckons tourists Wood carving industry dying a slow death in Uttaranchal Agra takes to pigeon flights after 20 years, Auli beckons tourists, India, India News, Newspaper, Indian, News, Travel News, India Travel Times, Travel,Tourism, Tour, Tourist, India, Times, News, Hotels, Airlines, Ayurveda, Yoga, Hindu, Taj Mahal, Cuisine, Festival, Temple, Trekking, Hindu, Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Odissi, Dance, Shimla,Varanasi, Kullu, Manali, Dehra Dun, Mussourie, Mussoorie, Haridwar, Hardwar, Rishikesh, Nainital, Delhi, Goa, Kovalam, Darjeeling, Bodh Gaya, Kancheepuram, Kanchipuram, Thekkady, Badrinath, Amar Nath,Vaishno Devi, Tirupati, Sabarimala, Guruvayoor, Kanyakumari, Kodaikanal, Ooty, Chennai,

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