Monthly Archives: February 2014

‘Stunning beauty of Greenland’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

P1380218 580 75Greenland- the most beautiful place that I have visited.

Photo, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘The French Connection – La Martiniere College, Lucknow, India’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

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The Constantia, Lucknow.

I had heard a lot about La Martiniere College of Lucknow from one of my friends Santosh Nautiyal who had studied there. So last year when I made a plan to visit Lucknow, I decided to visit this College also. I sent a polite request by post to the Principal of the College, followed by an email, requesting his permission to visit the College. Unfortunately for me, I was not favoured with any reply. Anyway when in Lucknow I decided to take a chance. I took a cycle rickshaw and went to the College late in the afternoon after the school hours.

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Quite expectedly I was stopped at the gate by the Security Guard. I explained my case to him and also showed him a copy of the letter which I had sent to the Principal. He agreed to let me go in a rickshaw right up to the building and gave me thirty minutes to complete my visit.

La Martiniere College, Lucknow, established in 1845, was founded in accordance with the Will of Major General Claude Martin. Born in Lyon, France, on 5 January 1735, he died in Lucknow on 13 September, 1800. Claude Martin  was an officer in the French, and later the British, army in India. He rose to the position of Major General in the British East India Company’s  Bengal Army.Claudemartin-engraving 480 70

Claude Martin (Photo source: Wikipedia)

Under his Will, certain funds were allotted for the establishment of schools at Lyon, his birth place in France, in Calcutta and at Lucknow. In his Will Claude Martin also directed that “my house at Luckperra or Constantia House with all the ground and premises belonging to the house and all the ground around it, none is to be sold or detached from it.” The Will went on to define his purpose, which was “for to keep the said Constantia House for school or College for learning young men the English language and Christian religion if they found themselves inclined.” I am surprised that being a Frenchman, he did not include learning of French language as one of the desired purposes.

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 The building is called ‘Constantia’. It is a heritage building, the construction of which began in 1796.

He left a substantial lasting legacy in the form of his writings, buildings and the educational institutions he founded posthumously. There are seven schools named after him, two in Lucknow, two in Calcutta and three in Lyon. Since the British succeeded in pushing the French out of India, except for some tiny territories, it was natural for them to downplay the contributions of the French in India  and to emphasize what they had achieved.

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1st October, 1845, is taken as the date of actual beginning of the College and is now commemorated as Constantia Day. About seventy boys were admitted in the first session. Presently the strength on the rolls has crossed 4000, divided in classes ranging from the Nursery to the ISC (Year 12) level.

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The College counts among its illustrious alumni, men of War and Peace – the Keelor brothers awarded with the Vir Chakra, for shooting down Sabre jets in the Indo-Pak War (1965) and the Nobel Peace Laureate, Dr Rajendra Pachauri. And to the list I may also add my dear friend, the self effacing  Santosh Nautiyal from the IAS who retired as a Secretary to Government of India after a very distinguished career.

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It is not protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Founder is buried in the crypt in the basement. Immediately above the crypt is La Martiniere Memorial Hall. To the North of the Memorial Hall is the famous Blue Room, a formal reception room of La Martiniere College. A portrait of the Founder dominates this room. A masterpiece by the artist Johann Zoffany with the Founder’s lady companion Boulone and adopted son, James as studies, is a prized possession.

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There are two ferocious looking lion statues on the top of the building.

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A huge bell lies in front of the building. The tower in the background, which is at some distance , is called ‘latt’.

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An impressive gun with  history adorns the frontage.

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The carriage indicates that it was built by the A. Broome Foundry, Cossipore in 1853.

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The marble plaque explains that the gun was used by Claude Martin in Sirangapatanam (present day Karnataka) in 1792 and restored to the College by Allahabad Arsenal in 1871.

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One is often surprised to find a touch of beauty at unexpected places.

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An old structure in the sprawling campus of the College.

Address: La Martiniere College,Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India- 226001; Tel: 91-522-2235415,91-522-2235416; Email: college@lamartinierelucknow.org

 (Text with inputs from the internet and from the website of the College.)
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Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

 

‘Visiting a distillery in Porto, Portugal’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

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I had joined a bus tour of Portugal. It was a big group consisting of 44 people from various countries. Driving from Lisbon, we reached the town of Porto in the late afternoon. We got a little time for a quick lunch and then reassembled to visit an old heritage building. It was drizzling but since we were to see the interiors of the buildings it did not make much difference.

The next in the itinerary was a visit to ‘Sandeman’, one of the distilleries of the famous Porto wine.

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Port wine, also known as Vinho do Porto, and often simply port, is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.  It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties.

It is different from other types of wine because it has an above average alcohol content; most range between 19% and 22% by volume. Another special characteristic is that its color and sweetness will vary according to the different types of port.

There was a ticket for entrance to the distillery. We were welcomed by young ladies dressed in black capes and smart hats.

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The visit lasted about half an hour. Then there was a visit to the museum followed by a Porto tasting session.

The House of Sandeman was founded in London in 1790 by George Sandeman, a yound Scotsman. Acquired by the founder in 1811, the SandemanCellers have been used for more than 200 years to age Sandeman’s best Porto wines. The visit led us through long corridors of oak casks and vats. The Sandeman Museum recounts the history of the brand through bottles and other artifacts.

A charming lady sommelier in a flowing black cape and a hat, explained how to taste, drink and appreciate wine.  We were offered four different wines to taste. At the end of it, I had forgotten about the bad weather outside and was feeling nice, warm and chatty.

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What lovely glasses!

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What lovely colours of wine!

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spain portugal morroco 2013 425 350 40I can hear the thundering Statutory Warning: Alcohol is dangerous for health! Drink alcohol in moderation!

Yes, yes, but it was only  a wine tasting session….

(Text with inputs from the internet)

Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

 

‘North Cape, Arctic Circle, Norway’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

I made a trip to the Arctic Circle in 2008. I was 65 then. I joined a tour organised by ‘Cosmos’. It was a group  comprising 24 members, a youngish looking French Tour Director and a Norwegian coach driver with one of the most impressive set of moustaches that I have seen.

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The French Tour Director (left) & the Norwegian coach driver (right) 

I took a flight upto Helsinki in Finland. From there I took an overnight train journey to Roveniemi,  reaching just short of the start of the Arctic Circle. The Group assembled at Roveniemi.

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I was apprehensive about travelling to the Arctic Circle alone, but meeting the other members of the Group put me at ease. they were all very friendly. The most interesting part was that there were six other Indians- three ladies and three gentlemen in this Group. They were all senior medical doctors from Pune- one was an orthopedic surgeon, a Medicine M.D., another a cardiac expert, a gynecologist, a paedetrician and an anesthetic. To make it into a full functional hospital, there was a serving nurse of Polish origin  from the USA . Needless to say that I felt very much at ease.

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We entered the arctic circle above Rovenieami in Finland and then drove up to Norway. The highlight of the trip was spending of the midnight of 21st June at Nordkapp in Norway. From Finland we crossed  into Norway visa Ivalo and  visited  the fascinating Sami Park. Then our bus moved further into Norway and along the beautiful Porsangen Fjord to Honningsvog on the island of Mageroya, home to 4,000 people and 5,000 reindeer. At midnight we, drove to the North Cape, Europe’s last northern outpost, on a sheer cliff rising 304 metres (1,000 feet) from the Atlantic Ocean. It is in the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle is the imaginary line on the surface of the Earth, which marks the northern latitude north of which the sun does not rise on the winter solstice or set on the summer solstice.

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This North Cape driving tour is a very unique experience during the  summer as one gets to see the Midnight Sun, and during winters when one can witness the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) .The most popular Scandinavian location for travelers to experience the natural phenomenon of the Midnight Sun is the North Cape (Nordkapp) in Norway. Known as the northermost point in Europe, at the North Cape there are 76 days (from May 14 – July 30) of proper midnight sun and an additional few days with partial sun before and after.

 

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The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon found in latitudes north of the Arctic Circle (as well as south of the Antarctic Circle), where the sun is visible at the local midnight. With adequate weather conditions, the sun is visible for full 24 hours a day. This is great for travelers planning long days outdoors, as there will be sufficient light for outdoor activities around the clock!  imported-photos-00265-420-80

I realised that I was under prepared for the place. The thick jacket, cap, muffler and gloves were just not enough – not to speak of the cotton khakhi trousers and sports shoes that I was wearing.

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This ‘selfie’ was taken by me as no tourist was willing to take any one else’s photo in that incredibly windy cold midnight. The wind was so fierce that it was not possible to stand still at one place. You clearly can see tremendous discomfort on my face. Smiling for the photo was just out of question.

All these photos were taken past midnight on the night of 21st-22nd June 2008.

Six years have passed. Nowat 70+ I want to go to the Arctic Circle again-  this time to see the celestial display of Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

Would anyone be willing to join me on sharing the expenses arrangement?

Useful websites:

Nordkapp website: http:// http://www.nordkapp.no/en/attractions-and-activities

COSMOS Travels: http://cosmosvacations.ca/Product.aspx?trip=46900&content=overview

Finnish railways website:  http://www.vr.fi/en/index.html

(Text with inputs from the internet)

Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

 

 

 

Flyers to India now have to notify cash above Rs.10,000

Lighthouse on the Puducheri beach sLighthouse at Pondicherry beach. (Photo: K.J.S.Chatrath)

‘New Delhi: Passengers flying into India will have to declare Indian currency exceeding Rs.10,000 being brought by them according to new customs rules which will be implemented from next month.

Besides, they will also be asked to declare number of baggage, including hand baggage, while entering into India, said the new rules notified by the Finance Ministry.

According to new rules under Customs Baggage Declaration (Amendment ) Regulations, 2014, an Indian citizen would need to fill up the immigration form only when he or she goes out of the country. There will beno immigration form for Indian citizens returning from abroad. The Regulations will be implemented from March 1, said the notification issued on February 10.

All passengers coming to India will be filling up a new ’Indian Customs Declaration Form’ which will seek details that will be different from the detachable perforated strip part of the immigration card at the moment.’ (Source: The Times of India, February 17, 2014)

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  

This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. 

Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Malaga Cathedral Spain’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

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Sketch source: Internet

I visited Malaga a few months back.  Málaga is a large city in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia and capital of the Malaga Province. The largest city on the Costa del Sol, Malaga has a typical Mediterranean climate and is also known as the birthplace of famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.

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The Cathedral of Málaga is a Renaissance church in the city of Málaga in Andalusia in southern Spain. The formal name is the Cathedral of Incarnation. The construction was started in 1528 and it was consecrated in 1588 The construction was spread over 250 years, till 1782. It never got totally finished because only one tower got built per the original plans.

The plan of the Cathedral is in Renaissance style with interior having a nave and two aisles. The facade is Baroque in design, with a tower about 250 feet high, and 276 steps. 

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The interiors. Photo source: Wikipedia

 It was built as per  the plans drawn by Diego de Siloe; its interior is in Renaissance style. The facade, unlike the rest of the building, is in Baroque style. The north tower is 84 metres high, making this building the second-highest cathedral in Andalusia, after the Giralda of Seville.

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The south tower remains unfinished. A plaque at the base of the tower states that funds raised by the parish to finish it were used instead to help the British colonies which became the United States to gain their independence from Great Britain. This unfinished state has led to the Cathedral being called “La Manquita”, meaning in English, “The One-Armed Lady”. 

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Useful Information:

Distance: It is 537 kms by road from Madrid, and it takes around 3 hours by train

Airfare from New Delhi to Malaga and back is approximately Rs.48,000/ (indicative) upwards.

Entry fee: Entry to the cathedral is 5 Euros.

Weather: The highest temperature ranges between 17 and 30 degres C. and the lowest between 8-20 degrees C., July being the hottest month and January being the coldest.

Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Nisarga Garden – Excellent Karnataka food restaurant in Bengaluru’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

I had ruefully put up a photo article some time back on what I personally perceive to be a downhill  slipping in the food quality at Bengaluru’s iconic M.T.R. (http://traveltalk.co.in/?p=674).  While in the town, I tried a number of other eating places. I was pleasantly surprised to find an excellent one quite near to where I was staying. It is placed called ‘Nisarga’ which in Kannada means nature or prakriti.

Here I saw greenery, garden, cooking in front of you, cleanliness, self-help standing or sitting and an enclosure where one can order  and be served at the table and of course excellent food sensibly priced.

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The standard one vada and two idlees. The mint/curd chutney was excellent and so was the sambar- thick sharp with a dash of sweetness.

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I had to order an encore.

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I stood  mesmerized  seeing dosas being prepared.

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 Dosas were in two forms.

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The dosachutney and sambar were just sublime.

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The thali meal was nice to look at, tasty and substantial.

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And to end, an ultimate in coffee taste – a little glass of pure filter coffee. What? Did you say ‘Starbucks’?  Don’t be ‘dumb’ and irreverent to the best coffee in the world – the South Indian Filter Coffee! The Americans just do not know what real coffee is!

By the way, I was a full paying customer when I visited this restaurant last month.

Useful Information:

Nisarga Garden Veg Restaurant, Opposite Police Commissioner’s Office,  Infantry Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka. Phone: 080 2228 9563.

Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Ekambranath Temple, Kanchipuram, India’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

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Ekambranath temple, Kanchipuram.

Kanchipuram (75 kms from Chennai) is one of the seven holy cities in the country, and a visit is believed to bestow salvation. It is said that Kanchipuram once had over a thousand temples. Today, there exist more than a hundred. Kanchipuram also has some notable churches and mosques. The city was the capital of the early Cholas and it was the Pallava capital between the 6th and 8th centuries.

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Kanchipuram is a major seat of Tamil learning as well as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Jains and Saivite Hindus. Apart from its temples, this small town is also known for its thriving handloom industry.

Temple festivals are held throughout the year and apart from the temple car or the ratha festivals are held in January, April and May. There are other days when the idols are taken out in procession on their respective vahanas or vehicles.

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The main deity (Photo source: Wikipedia)

Ekambaranathar Temple or Ekambareswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, located in Kanchipuram in the state ofTamil NaduIndia. The temple is the largest temple in the town of Kanchipuram and is located in the northern part of the town.[1] The temple gopuram (gateway tower) is 59m tall, which is one of the tallest gopurams in India.

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It is one of the five major Shiva temples or Pancha Bootha Sthalams (each representing a natural element) representing the element – Earth. The other four temples in this category are Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water), Chidambaram Natarajar (Sky), Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire) and Kalahasti Nathar (wind). It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where all the four most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints) have sung the glories of this temple.

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A painting in the temple.

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Some colourful houses near the temple.

Kanchipuram is an excellent tourist destination for the Fifty-Plustravels.

Useful Information:

Accomodation: State run Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) runs a hotel here: Hotel Tamil Nadu, Kamatehi Amman Sannathi Street, Opp. Old railway Station, Kanchipuram. Manager Mobile: 9176995831.

Package Tours: TTDCs Package tours http://www.ttdconline.com/index.jsp

Temple’s website:

http://www.ekambaranathartemple.org/needs.php#sthash.3hVaORiC.dpuf

Temperatures: Summer 36.6 – 21 C;     Winter:  28.7 – 19.8 C.

(Text with some inputs from the websites of TTDC, Ekambranath temple and some others)

Photos, text and copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘The heritage Ramling Rest House, Osmanabad, India’ by Ms. Suman Rawat*

Osmanabad is a district dripped in history- be it the Nizam’s antiquity or the British earnestness of discovering newer and prettier hill stations each time. If you are in and around Hyderabad or Pune, a quick whirlwind tour to this place can only satiate your wander lust with flavor.

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The Ramaling Rest House

Perched on a hill top, you will chance upon a quaint Railway Rest House completed during the British time called the Ramlinga Rest House. Yes!  It is as old as 1907 AD. Carved well in wood and erected sturdy in stone, the Rest House is a symbol of human triumph and spirit of discovery.

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Apparently, the Rest House was built by one Mr. Alexander, a European enthusiast who was posted here as an Agent General Manager by the Directors of Barsi Light Railway in 1906-07. As the legend goes, Alexander was not able to convince his commanding officer’s of building a rest house on his discovered hill. He then took up the challenge to build it up on his own and out of his pocket. But a lucrative man of ambitions and connections, Alexander got it approved by the Board of Directors in England, who allowed him to erect it up at a trade off of 50% capital investment. So, even today the Rest House is famed to be constructed from the out of the pocket expenses of Alexander and his grandeur, tact and earnestness to have it built!

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Staircase leading to heaven

The Rest House fetches you a bird view of Osmanabad taluka of the district and is nestled in a wildlife Sanctuary. You can either drive up to this quaint location from Osmanabad  or trek it up from the Gurukul Ashram near NH 211 (Sholapur- Dhule Highway). The latter is a rather enticing option, of course.

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Located 1km away is the famous Ramling temple from where the Rest House receives it’s name.  Ramling temple has a history of it’s own. Anyone aware of one of the greatest mythological epic of India called Ramayana (other’s can wiki it) will know of the story of Sita’s abduction by the demon Ravana. Lord Ram, her consort, traversed various forests including this Abhyaaranya (aranya meaning forest), in search of his abducted wife. Being a great devotee of Lord Shiva, he set up an exotic and exclusive Shiv temple with a Shiva linga (the symbol of Shiva). It was thus that the name came to be given to it as Ramlinga. It was from here, that he carried on his onwards journey to search and rescue his abducted wife with renewed vigour and went on to Tuljapur (the place deserves a separate article on it) and ahead. Every name appears to have a million folklores attached to it, in Osmanabad ; and like Greeks we have to believe in the legend to feel the pulse of the people and understand their behavior in a particular social milieu .

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A helpful board explains the history

Anyways, the Ramling Rest House still stays as an exotically done rest house nestled in dry forest and is a total must visit if you have an eye for details and taste for history. Otherwise too it’s a great hang-out with it’s exclusive breeze and chirps of birds.

One can’t stop narrating these folklores. For more on Osmanabad, keep watching this space!!

Nearest Airport : Pune, Aurangabad

Nearest Railhead: Osmanabad, Solapur

*Ms. Suman Rawat, a very perceptive traveler & a  highly gifted writer is a senior bureaucrat presently stationed in Osmanabad.

Photos, text & copyright: Suman Rawat.

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in