Banyan Tree at Sitā Cave, Panchavati

Panchavati gets its name from the five giant banyan trees making up the forested area where Shri Rām, Sitā and Lakshman spent a large portion of their exile. This is the first of the five banyan trees situated in front of the Sitā Gufa (Sitā cave) where she spent a lot of time during her exile.

There is a tiny cave where you can slither along, but I wimped out and waited outside while the rest of the family did the honors.

Venkateshwara Temple Coloring Pages

Ganesh Coloring Book
Nearly twenty years ago, I had picked up this free coloring book from the Sri Venkateshwara Temple in Pittsburgh, PA. It lay unused till I found it a few weeks ago. I am sharing here all the scanned pages, so you all can enjoy the sublime joy of coloring.

Download the PDF of SVT Coloring Book.

Coloring Books IS the new rage for grown-up gifts. Over the last year I have received beautiful coloring books, as well as collections of drawing pencils, pastels, gel pens and fine sketching markers. Oh, what joy! Give it a try and please share your works.

Consider perusing this Tirupati: A Walk Enlightens

Shriyah kāntāy kalyān nidhaye nidhayérthinām
Shri Venkatanivāsāy Shrīnivāsāy mangalam

Jñana Yoga or Karma Yoga, a difficult choice

pics of sadhu and lady at Panchavati Nashik by Arun Shanbhag

At the ghats in Panchavati, Nāshik, I was intrigued by this sādhu pondering the mysteries of sat and asat, while a lady was busy washing her cooking utensils. Verily a juxtaposition of the paths of Jñāna yoga and Karma Yoga. Which path to follow? This is a difficult decision for many to make. If you have not (yet) come across this quandary, consider yourself lucky.


See pics from, Neelkanteshwar Mahadev Mandir, in Panchavati, Nashik

Colaba Ganapati @ Millburn NJ

Friday Ratri Puja and Visarjan Puja
Bhatmaam has arrived and drinking hot Kaapi!

Friday Danapaar Puja
Live streaming of Friday afternoon puja


pics of Colaba Ganapati @ Millburn by Arun Shanbhag

Thursday Ratri Puja


Thursday morning Ganesh Chaturthi Puja
Here is the live stream of the Colaba Ganapati puja from Millburn, NJ.
Ganapati Bapa Morya!

Other Ganapati Posts:

Neelkanteshwar Mahadev Mandir, Panchavati, Nashik

Neelkanteshwar Mandir, Panchavati, Nashik
Panchavati is an amazing city with some very ancient and beautiful temples, and some very big problems of governance. The sacred temples get easily overshadowed by the trash everywhere and the lack of respect for the sanctity of this place. And it was not even the Kumbha mela. This tiny temple, the Neelkanteshwar Mahadev Mandir established in 1662 on the Ram Kund demonstrates the confluence of urban growth, apathy and the sacred. In dire need of the Swachh Bhārat Abhiyan. Continue reading “Neelkanteshwar Mahadev Mandir, Panchavati, Nashik”

Krishna Muth Udupi, Hanuman Shrine

Photos at Hanuman Shrine at the Shri Krishna Muth, Udupi, Karnataka by

Inside the Krishna Muth, Udupi, there are many shrines to different deities. One of the first along the corridor is the Hanuman Shrine. A small group of devotees were singing bhajans there. The light streaking through the door and tall windows lit the singers in a golden hue. I sat inside for a few minutes enjoying the music. Then bowed at the shrine and went to enjoy the rest of the temple. Continue reading “Krishna Muth Udupi, Hanuman Shrine”

Krishna Muth, Udupi

Photos of Main Gopuram of the Shri Krishna Muth, Udupi, Karnataka by Arun Shanbhag

After a long hiatus, I recently returned to the Shri Krishna Muth in Udupi, Karnataka. What a joyous, uplifting experience it was getting darshan of BālaKrishna (child Krishna). The temple and seminary were founded by Sant Madhavāchārya, in the late 13th century; it has since become the center of Krishna bhakti and Dvaita Philosophy. It is here that Krishna showed us his grace. One night as Kanak Dās sat outside the temple singing the glories of Krishna, the mischievously smiling child Krishna was overcome by the soul-stirring music and turned to listen to his devotee. Thus turned, he stands today. A tiny stone grill is cut in the granite side wall from which we get darshan. Continue reading “Krishna Muth, Udupi”

Peigutso Lake towards Saga

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, Day 6: Peigutso Lake (4,400 m; 14,436 ft) on the Tibetan Plateau


(noticed this in my private posts; edited and posted in Dec 2014)
photos of Peigutso Lake in Tibet by Arun Shanbhag
After lunch and pics of local kids, we headed west along a ravine and climbed a pass. There before us was the serenely beautiful Peigutso Lake. Overcast skies quickly gave way to more dazzling azure skies with bright cumulus clouds and turquoise blue water. The scene hushed us all and we simply stared in silence at the magnificence spread before us.
photos of Peigutso Lake in Tibet by Arun Shanbhag


There at that time, my mind was preoccupied by physical discomfort and I did not appreciate the view as much. It had been a few days without bathroom facilities or showers. It was biting cold and the wind was relentless. In the rarefied air I developed the characteristic high altitude-induced dry cough. While the medication (Diamox) ameliorated some of the effects, the cough and headaches persisted. Despite our sherpas’ best efforts at cooking, I was nauseous and could not get anything down. For most of the trip I survived on honey spread over thick rotis and warm yak milk. And boxes of ladoos and mithai I had carried from Mumbai.

photos of Peigutso Lake in Tibet by Arun Shanbhag

This is a yatra

And so on I complained about material wellbeing. It would have been excusable if I was on an exotic vacation and expected to be pampered. But I was on the most difficult and sacred of all yatras – where it should have been about the “inner journey.” The physical discomfort is essential to force us to divorce ourselves from the comfortable mundane of our lives and turn our minds inwards to pose the trickier questions: What am I doing here on this planet? What is/was my purpose? Who is breathing? You don’t need to arrive at the answers, but to start asking these questions; wallowing in the discomfort of reflection is the entire purpose of a yatra. Many revel in such an opportunity and each such yatra prepares us to reflect more deeply on our inner journey.

Personally, this yatra was a beginning, transition to a new level, turning a key to unlocking more mysteries and ecstasy. I didn’t know it then, but the mental and emotional manifestations of this yatra will continue to unravel over the rest of my life.

(I edited and reposted these two paragraphs in Dec 2014, more than eight years later)

We continued our drive in the valleys between rolling hills, through ravines and water logged streams. We crossed the wide, peaceful Brahmaputra river and arrived at the chinese military base town of Saga. Here in the middle of the barren desert were all the amenities you’d expect in an army town – pool tables, bars, gambling dens and dancing girls. Girls with garish make-up walked the pavement, reminding us once again of the impermanence of material beauty. It was also the last opportunity to buy warm gloves, hats or other cold weather accessories.


Next on the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra: Brahmaputra and Onwards to Paryang
Start of Kaliash Manasarovar Yatra: Rendevous with Sagarmatha (Everest)


Lunch & Chanting at Saraswati Vidya Kendra

photos of kindergarten tudents eating lunch at Saraswati Vidya Kendra Kumta by Arun Shanbhag

I have previously written about the mid-day school lunch at the Shanbhag High School and the primary Saraswati Vidya Kendra in Kumta. When I visited Kumta earlier this year, I took a few video snippets of students lining up for lunch and the KG students chanting the blessing.

At the Konkan schools, teachers too have a uniform saree. In the video, you see them helping. Seniors serve the lunch, while teachers help seat the kids and serve seconds. Continue reading “Lunch & Chanting at Saraswati Vidya Kendra”