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Neelkanteshwar Mahadev 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 […]

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Krishna Muth, Udupi

Photos of multiple rathas outside the 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 […]

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Agniteertham in Rāmeshwaram

photos from Agniteertham in Rameshwaram by Arun Shanbhag

Just in time for Ram Navami Visiting the island of Rameshwaram is considered a most auspicious pilgrimage; here Hindus pay their respects to Ramnathaswamy (Shiva) and it is one of 12 sacred Jyotirlingams.

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Aśṭa Vināyak – Pilgrimage to Eight Gaṇeśa Temples – A Photo Essay

Pics from AstaVinayak Tirth Yatra Maharashtra by Arun Shanbhag

In the Indian state of Maharashtra, a tīrth yātra (pilgrimage) to visit eight ancient temples to Gaṇeśa (Aśṭa Vināyak) is mentioned in the puranas and considered very sacred. These eight temples, each with exquisitely beautiful Gaṇeśa murtīs, are in tiny villages, scattered around the mountainous terrain between Mumbai and Pune. After much procrastination, last February […]

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Monks at the Pashupatinath Temple, Nepal

(click for larger versions on Arun Eyes) In an ancient stone portico (bhojan mandap) outside the Pashupatinath Temple (Kathmandu, Nepal), several sanyasinis (female monks) were resting and enjoying meals. Here donors arrange free meals for monks and the needy. Loved the colors.

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Kānchi Kāmākshi

pics from Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Sri Kamakshi Ambal by Arun Shanbhag

Kanchi is verily the City of Temples. Poems composed in the 2nd century ce refer to a shrine dedicated to the love goddess (Kamakshi – eyes of love). The current Kamakshi temple (Sri Kanchi Kamakshi Peetham Sri Kamakshi Ambal) was built by the Pallavas in the 8th century.

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Varadaraja Vaikuntha Perumal, Kanchipuram

(click image for larger version) After immersing ourselves in Shaiva philosophy at the Kapaleeshwara Temple in Chennai, we journeyed for darshan to the Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram. This temple was commissioned by the Pallava King Nandivarman II and built circa 770 ce. Then Kanchipuram was the capital city of the Pallava dynasty and at […]

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Tirth Yātra: Temples of Tāmil Nādu

Pics of Kapaleeshwara Temple in Mylapore Chennai by Arun Shanbhag

Even as a child, I enjoyed visiting temples. The prasad was certainly a big draw. I’d stop by random SatyaNarayana Pujas, just to receive of the nectarine prasad. Aarti bhajans were equally soothing. At annual Wadala GSB Ganapati celebrations, while we were enticed by stalls selling bhajiyas and bondas, we first paid our respects to […]

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Girl in Saga

Enroute to Saga [Elevation: 4,600 m (15,091 ft)], a Chinese army outpost on the Tibetan Plateau After a long drive from Nyalam, past the Sishapangma Base Camp office, we had stopped literally in the middle of nowhere, for a lunch break. Our team of cooks had left a few hours earlier, so they could find […]

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Kailash Finally

Kailash Parikrama: Hiking Around Kailash, Day 11, 12 and 13 Approximate Elevation: Dira Phuk: 4,775 m (~ 15,666 ft); Dolma La (Pass): 5,650 m (~18,500 ft) Within an hour of starting our Parikrama, the rains stopped, the clouds dispersed and the sun broke through. By this time, our small group of hikers and porters were […]

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Lake Manasarovar, Finally

An Accidental Pilgrim Reaches Manasarovar, Day 10 Approximate Elevation: 4,560 m (~ 15,000 ft) Over the six months I had planned this trip, I never gave much thought to the significance of going on a yatra (pilgrimage). I had signed up primarily as an adventure with my brothers and several of my cousins; to shoot […]

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Kailash Manasarovar: Brahmaputra and Onwards to Paryang

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra: Brahmaputra, Day 6,7: Paryang Elevation: 4,540 m (14,895 ft) Considering the spectacular Peigutso Lake, the 185 km drive from Saga to Paryang was tedious. We made a bee-line to the western edge of the Tibetan Plateau, which remained featureless; the skies were overcast and in the distant south we discerned the grey-brown […]

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Cerulean Skies Over Nyalam

photos of mountains around Nyalama Tibet by Arun Shanbhag

Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra continues: Day 5, Blue Skies Over Nyalam Once we reached Kailash, the plan was to walk around the mountain parikrama. We’d hike 40 km over three days, at elevations starting at 15,000 ft and reaching over 19,000 ft. While this might appear trivial at sea level, reality is vastly different at 15,000 ft. […]

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Tension In Kodari

Pictures of the Tibetan side from Kodari Nepal by Arun Shanbhag

Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra continues: Tension in Kodari Kodari Elevation: 2250 meters; 7,382 feet. Our initial plan was to have a quick lunch in Kodari, perform exit visa procedures, and cross over the Friendship bridge into China-occupied Tibet. But instead, we found ourselves gobbling lunch to a backdrop of a frenzied stone-throwing mob and the staccato of […]

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Onwards to Kodari, Nepal

pics of Emerald green fields enroute Kathmandu to Kodari by Arun Shanbhag

See larger image here. The Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra continues: Onwards to Kodari We spent a day in Kathmandu flying along the Everest Mountain Range, taking darshan at Pashupatinath, and the Baudhanath Stupa, (Monks and Kids at the Baudhnath) and visiting the local markets. We left early the following morning for the border town of Kodari, where […]

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Kids at the Baudhanath Stupa

Pics of Kids at the Baudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu Nepal by Arun Shanbhag

One of the joys of traveling is taking spontaneous photographs of complete strangers. Our interaction is only for a few seconds, or at most a few minutes. But through their pics they leave a lasting impression. In the comfort of my home, those few moments get stretched, not unlike Einstein’s time. I recall every blink […]

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Baudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

(revised and updated Aug 2011) When I noticed the Baudhanath Stupa on our itinerary, I was indifferent. But when I alighted from the bus there, I was awestruck at the size of this stupa and the vibrant atmosphere. The Stupa easily took a whole city block. It’s nearly 125 ft tall and the periphery was […]

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Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

You need to be called to participate in a yatra (pilgrimage). Without the assent of the Gods, any number of obstacles, reasons, excuses will crop up and prevent you for going. Even in our family group, many dropped out for various reasons. But I am fortunate I could make this happen. The yatra was difficult […]

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Tirupati: A Walk Enlightens

Walking up the stairs to the Tirupati Devasthan pics by Arun Shanbhag

It was a dream of mine to walk up the mountains to the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthan. When I shared this with M, the 14 km hike up more than 4000 steps did not dissuade her. My dream became her’s too!