28 April 2014

Vishram Ghat, Mathura

From Krishna Janma Bhumi Temple, was our visit to Vishram Ghat, on the bank of the river Yamuna. The lane has shops which sell pooja items and an arch with few steps down, leads to the ghat.
The Ghat gets its name Vishram(resting) for been said, Lord Krishna rested at this place after killing Kamsa. This is the main Ghat of Mathura and is central to 25 other ghats. Vishram Ghat centres the 25 ghats in Mathura at 13th place, with 12 ghats on either side of it.
Yam Dwitiya: According to Mythology Yam(Dharmaraj) and Yami(Yamuna) where twins. Soft hearted Yamuna couldn't see sufferings of human beings and wished to alleviate them. On her birthday she invite her brother for feast. Pleased Yam, grants Yamuna with boon. She ask her brother to grant those people with relief from clutches of birth and death, whoever bathe in her water with faith on this day. Every year thousands of brothers and sisters visit Vishram Ghat to perform worship and get relieved from clutch of birth and dead.
There are many shrines on the Ghat, on the bank of holy Yamuna. Yam and Yamuna temples, Krishna Balraam Mukut temple, Radha Damodar Temple, Murali Manohar Temple, Langali Hanuman Temple, Neelkantheshwar Temple, to name few. 
Gordhan Nath temple is another small shrine, on the path way to the Ghat.
The boating at the Ghat, gives an entirely different view of the ghat from the river. Plan your visit during morning or evening Aarti. The chanting of aarti songs along with lite lamps floating on the water, surround the environment with holy and positive vibes.
Opposite to the Vishram Ghat arch, is Dwarkadeesh Temple. Dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha, this is one of the oldest temples of Mathura.
There are other small shrines inside the temple, dedicated to other Hindu dieties. The temple is said to be built by Seth Gokul Das Parikh in 1824. Seth who was a treasurer in Gwalior Estate and a great devotee of Lord Krishna.
The temple has great architecture and paintings, though photography inside the temple premises is strickly prohibited. 
Check out the temple timings of all temples in Mathura and Vridavan, plan your visit accordingly.
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25 April 2014

Floral Friday Photography- Water Lilies

Water lilies from the Japanese Garden at Rani Bagh Botanical Garden
Happy Floral Friday!!!

19 April 2014

Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Tree Trail - Part 2

Going on with Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Tree Trail, here are more trees,
Elephant Apple(Dillenia indica) is so called as its eaten by elephants. The bitter-sour fruit pulp is also used in India cuisines.
Elephant Apple
Elephant Apple

Elephant Apple
Elephant Apple
Divi Divi(Botanical name: Caesalpinia coriaria, native West Indies and Central America), grows as a large shrub.
Divi Divi
Divi Divi
Cocoa tree(Botanical name: Theobroma cacao, native of Brazil) is an evergreen tree. The fruit contains seed(which is used to make dark cocoa powder) and a significant amount of fat, cocoa butter. The proportion of seed and cocoa butter is accordingly varied to form the dark and white chocolates. Cocoa bean was also used as currency system in pre-columbian Mesoamerican civilization.
Cocoa tree
Cocoa tree
Cocoa tree
Cocoa tree
Garlic Pear(Botanical name: Crataeva religiosa), the nectar filled flowers attracts many insects and birds. At the flowering season, its said to be flooded with butterflies.
Garlic Pear
Garlic Pear
Shivan(Botanical Name: Gmelina arborea Roxb, native to India, Myanmar) is also called poor-man's teak.
Lemon Scented Gum Tree(Botanical name: Corymbia citriodora, native to Australia), is also called Lemon eucalyptus. The tree resembles the Eucalyptus tree. Refined essential oil from the Lemon Scented gum tree is used in insent repellents. This tree can be easily recognised by smelling its leaf, which smells, lemon.
Lemon Scented Gum Tree
Lemon Scented Gum Tree
Bamboo(Botanical name: Dendrocalamus strictus Nees, native to India): We were narrated with great facts about bamboo. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants and the air flow through the hollow plant makes an unusual sound, which keeps the Bamboo forests misterious. Most Bamboo species flower once in 40years or 100years. All plants of the same stock flower at same time, the flowering is followed by death of the plants. Its so said that in North East India, the flowering of Bamboo plants is said to be a sign of bad time, the flowering of the plants increases the rat population, which after Bamboo, feed on the cultivated farms.
Gustavia(Botanical name: Gustavia augusta, native to Tropical and South America): The fruit is drum(tabla) shaped with seeds inside, when shaken makes a tender sound.

Gustavia Fruit
Bottle Brush Tree(Botanical name: Callistemon citratus (Curtis) Skeels (syn. C. lanceolatus Sw.), native to Australia): This gets its name from its flowers which resemble bottle brush.
Bottle Brush Tree
Bottle Brush Tree
Bottle Brush Tree
Bottle Brush Flower
Wild Almonds, which are said to be natives of Middle East and South Asia, look similar to Almonds, but taste bitter.
Ficus Krishnae(Botanical name: Ficus benghalensis L. var. krishnae Almeida, native to India) is also called Krishna's Butter cup. The leaves of the tree have pocket like fold at the base. As per mythology, Lord Krishna who was fond of butter, rolled the stolen butter it this leaf to hide from his mother Yashoda. Since then it retains its pocket like shape.
Ficus Krishnae
Ficus Krishnae
The final trees where the Three Sister Trees. These trees are called three sisters because of their similar shaped leaves,
  • Sita Ashoka(Botanical name: Saraca arborescens Burm. f. [S.asoka (Roxb.) de Willde;S.indica auct. non L.], native to India): There is interesting story behind Sita Ashoka.  Sasoka and Nisoka were two cannibal demons. They get blessed by Matara Swamiji to be born as trees in their next birth. Sasoka, who was born as Ashoka( a-shok, meaning without sorrow) gives shelter to Mother Sita, during her stay in Lanka. His brother Nisoka also reborn as a tall tree, stand outside the graden, gaurding it. Matara Swami will reborn as Sitaphal and mother Sita will eat fruits of this tree, during her stay in Ashokawan.
    Sita Ashoka
    Sita Ashoka

  • Rose of Venezuala(Botanical name: Brownea grandiceps) called as Laal Jumar(red chandelier) in Hindi, flower red coloured flowers, which resemble chandelier.Rose of Venezuala
  • Tree of heaven(Botanical name: Amherstia nobilis Wall, Native to Tenasserim) is said to be the most beautiful tree of all flowering trees. Its also called the Queen of flowering plant. Its one of the only five trees of the specie left in Mumbai.
    Tree of heaven
    Tree of heaven

  • The session ended, with a group photo of the attendees along with Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation and Sanctuary Asia teams, near the Sita Ashok tree.

    14 April 2014

    Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Tree Trail - Part 1

    Rani Bagh Botanical Garden was in my to visit list since many a days. Though I had visited Bhau Dhaji Lad Museum, had missed the Botanical Garden. When I received an e-mail from Sanctuary Asia for a guided nature trail, I didn't want to miss the opportunity.
    We joined the Sanctuary Asia team and other attendees of the trail at Botanical Garden by 7:30AM. One of the members of Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation introduced us to Rani Bagh and Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation.
    Rani Bagh: Formerly called Victoria Garden, Rani Bagh was laid out in 1861 The garden houses the Jijamata Udyaan(also known as Byculla Zoo/Mumbai), Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Gaint staue of Elephant from Elephanta Caves and the Clock Tower. The Fort area, reflects the British rule, every building and monument here is inter related. Its said that the Flora Fountain, was proposed for Rani Bagh, which was later laid at its present location. The statue of King Edward VII(Kala Ghoda), from Kala Ghoda was removed and mounted here in Rani Bagh in 1965.
    Rani Bagh is a 53-acre heritage botanical park (over 150 years old) in the heart of the city. Its the city’s largest green open public space and much needed green lung which is home to over 3,213 trees and a total of 853 plant species, providing a verdant habitat for thousands of birds, insects and bats.
    Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation: Unfortunately, in 2007, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announced its plan of setting up a zoo to international standards at a cost of Rs. 433 crore. Realising that such a huge expense would entail construction activity on an enormous scale and that was no treeless space available in the botanical garden for further construction, a group of friends formed the Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Committee and set about gathering information and marshalling public support to oppose the BMC’s plan. Their main focus was to protect for posterity the existing 150-year-old botanical garden in the heart of the city with huge age-old majestic trees. After a five year struggle, the Save Rani Bagh Committee was able to convince the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee to reject the BMC’s international zoo proposal. Thereafter, the BMC was ordered to make a smaller plan only for the renovation of existing animal enclosures. In 2012, they founded a Public Charitable Trust - Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation - to generate greater awareness about the botanical garden and to strive to enhance its many features.
    After the brief introduction to the Botanical Garden, the team was divided into two groups and our group, headed by Katie Bagli started off with the trail. The park has trees from around the world, planted during British rule.
    As we entered the zoo, we were asked to collect the fallen crunchy seeds spread over the ground. The seeds of Chilbil/Cork Tree(Botanical name: Millingtonia hortensis L.f, native to Myanmar, Malaya), also gets its name Monkey chips, as they are favourites of monkeys. A thin papery layer holds the seeds with-in and helps in dispersal, as blown away by wind due to its light weight. 
    The two gaint Baobab trees(Botanical name: Adansonia digitata L., native to Tropical Africa) on the either side of the entrance path of the park, stood as, huge gaurds welcoming us. The truck of the tree is hollow. Its said, a large, hollow baobab was used  as a prison for convicts in south of Derby, Western Australia, in the 1890s.
    Baobab Tree
    Baobab Tree
    Next was the Guest tree(Botanical name: Kleinhovia hospita, native to Archipelago, Malaya), which produces star shaped flowers. Its also called Jewel Box, because of the bead shaped seed it holds in its shallow chest.
    Cajeput(Botanical name: Melaleuca cajuputi Powel, native to Australia), is known for its soft/spongy bark, which easily flakes of the trunk. Its also called paperbark tree or punk tree).
    Cajeput Tree
    Feeling the spongy texture of Cajeput tree
    Tad(Botanical name: Borassus flabellifer, native to India, Srilanka, Myanmar), from the palm family, called as Taati Nungu in Kannada and Tadgola in Marathi, produces a coconut like fruit when cut off reveals three sweet jelly seed sockets.
    Tad Tree
    Beheda(Botanical name: Terminalia bellerica, native to India) and Hirda(Botanical name: Terminalia chebula, native to India), are the two of the three medicinal plants, which constitute Triphala churna(the third being Amla). These have digestive and anti-inflammatory properties and hence useful in constipation.
    Hirda and Beheda Trees
    Kailashpati/Connonball Tree(Botanical name: Couroupta guianensis Aubl., native to South America), the fruit resembles cannonball, and the flower resembles snake and grown in Shiva temples, hence the name Kailashpati.
    Cannonball Tree

    Oil palm(Botanical name: Elaias guineensis Jacq, native to Tropical Africa), its fruit is used to extract oil(palm oil).
    Oil Palm Tree
    Indian Rubber Tree(Bonatical name: Ficus elastica, native to Assam, Burma): The original rubber tree was native to Brazil and till many years Brazil had the monopoly of producing rubber. British commercialised the cultivation of the Indian rubber to have their supremacy in rubber production.
    Indian Rubber Tree
    Samudra Phal(Botanical name: Barringtonia asiatica, native to Andaman, Manmar), its grown along the street for decorative and shade purpose in some parts of India. The fruit is extremely water resistant and survive a float upto 15years. So, its said to be dispersed from Andaman to reach coastal India, hence introduced in India.
    Samudra Phal

    Samudra Phal Flower (Photo credit Wikipedia)
    More on this tree trail in the following post.

    9 April 2014

    Mathura - Krishna Janma Bhoomi(Temple)

    As kid I was very much fond of the mythological series on Television. Sunday mornings were long awaited for Mahabharat and Shri Krishna. The image of charriot with Krishna and Arjuna on the entrance of the Krishna Janma Bhoomi temple in Mathura, refreshed my memory of those TV series.
    Mathura is well known as Krishna Janma Bhoomi. Krishna was born to Vasudeva and Devaki. Kamsa, Devaki's brother gets aakashwani(divine voice from the heaven), predicting his death from Devaki's child. He imprisons the couple in Mathura, then capital of Yadavas. Vasudeva secretly takes the new-born Krishna to Yashoda and Nanda in Gokul. Nanda a cow-herder settles in Vridavan and so does Krishna spend his childhood and youth in Vrindavan, which is around 15kms from Mathura.
    Coming back to the present day, temple and the near by place is full of sadhus'(hindu saints) in saffron. Temple has high security, you need to deposite your baggage and moblies separately at the cloak counters, then undergo a series of security checks to reach the temple. As you enter the temple premises, there is a dragon shaped pass by, where there are models(moving) depicting lord Krishna's life. Then is the Janma Bhoomi Temple, its so said that this is the exact place where the prison(where Krishna was born) stood. Next is the Jhanki(moving models) room, depicting Lord Krishna and Rama's life. There are other small shrines dedicated to hindu god and goddess. And whole temple premises has shops selling photographs, idols of Lord Krishna and other pooja items.
    After visiting the temple, you can quench your thirst with a glass of chilled Badam milk at the Brijwasi Mithai wala on the temple lane.
    Janma Bhoomi Temple is well with in the city, you can take autorickshaw to reach here. Autorickshaw do take through the city tour and Vrindavan tour.
    Temple Timings: 5am to 12noon and 2pm to 8pm

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    8 April 2014

    Nature's Friends

    With Star Chart App ON on my tab, my little one yells, "Mumma look I found a Lion(Leo) in the sky", laying under the dark sky and watching out for some wonders.
    Kids nowadays are addict to video games or cartoon channels. Or might be its we parents, whose over concern of keeping them indoors is making them closer to media. Let your kid enjoy every pleasure of nature, having a butta roadside or playing in sands on beach or watching wonders of night sky on your terrace. Studies say, kids brought up with nature, build a healthy body and mind. Also, the ability to handle work under stress by rural and urban brought up people had significant changes and rural people could handle stressful situation better.
    Butta time at Powai lake, Mumbai

    Playtime at Juhu Beach, Mumbai
    I have been blessed with a kid, who enjoys living with nature. Accommopanying her on my nature trails has boosted her interest. This is what she asked me when we were back from Safari in Ranthambore, "Mumma why didn't we go to Zone 5 instead of Zone 6, I wanted to see Machli, the queen tiger of Ranthambore".
    Eagerly looking for wildlife from her canter at Safari in Ranthambore National Park

    With her friends at a nature trail(Flamingo watch) by Sanctuary Asia(Image credit: Abir Jain). 
    This was what the about picture was captioned, by the photographer, So nice to see these young ones....spending their mornings in places like Sewri to watch the magnificant Flamingos instead of going to a mall or watch a movie on a holiday! Its thanks to their parents for bringing them closer to witness our little remaining urban wildlife!
    And navratri is the time of the year, when me and my little one get to showcase our creativity. We arrange a series of clay dolls at home along with idols of god and goddess, and invite family and friends for evening pooja.  As a tradition, plant(which represent prosperity) is grown and offered to god. Check out the miniature forest we created for Navratri Bombe Habba last year, with mustard plant, giving a playful touch to the traditional custom.

    Our mustard plant grew so fast, that our tiny animals got hidden just by second day of the festival
    So let your kid enjoy and live the childhood!! Let them grow feeding a Hungry bird not playing with Angry Bird, let them grow up watching Capricorn(constillation) in sky not watching Doremon!!!
    This is an entry for the contest Nature's Friends by Indiblogger and Kissan.