Sabarmati Ashram

Sabarmati Ashram was the Ashram established by the Great Indian independence movement leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi fondly called Mahatma Gandhi, on the banks of River Sabarmathi in Ahmedabad, Gujarat state of India.

Gandhiji's Charkha and table at Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad
Gandhiji’s Charkha and table at Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad.

Mahatma Gandhi lived at this Ashram spread over 36 acres of land for around 12 years. This ashram on the banks of Sabarmati river is known by different names like Gandhi Ashram, Satyagraha Ashram and Harijan Ashram.

Gandhi’s first Ashram was Kochrab Ashram alias Satyagraha Ashram, which was started on 25th May, 1915. After around two years, Kochrab Ashram was infested with plague disease. Hence Gandhiji relocated to the new Sabarmati Ashram.

Gandhi carried out farming and animal husbandry at Sabarmati Ashram. He also started a school which concentrated on harnessing the manual labor, agriculture, literacy, etc, for the country’s self-sufficiency.

It was from Sabarmati Ashram that Mahatma Gandhi started the Dandi march (Salt Satyagraha) in 12th March 1930. This led to mass civil disobedience and thousands of people were arrested all over the country. To contain Gandhi’s activities, the British Government took control of the Ashram and his pleas to return it was not allowed. On 22nd July 1933, Gandiji decided to disband Sabarmati ashram and took a pledge not to return to Sabarmati Ashram until India gained independence. Even though the country got independence on 15th August 1947, Gandhiji could not return to the Ashram as he was assassinated on 30th January 1948.

Sabarmati ashram now houses a Museum called Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya and is commonly called as Gandhi Museum. Other important buildings in the Ashram are listed below, Hridaya Kunj is the cottage where Gandhiji lived. Nandini is an old ashram guest house which is open to the visitors for stay. Vinoba Kutir is the cottage where Acharya Vinoba Bhave stayed, which is also known as Mira Kutir after Gandhiji’s disciple Mirabehn stayed here. Upasana Mandir is an open-air prayer ground in the Ashram premises. Magan Niwas is another building where ashram manager, Maganlal Gandhi, who was Gandhiji”s cousin lived.

How Do I Go to Sabarmati Ashram?

Ahmedabad is well connected by roads to the other parts of India. Delhi to Mumbai National Highway, NH 8, one of the most busiest Highways in the Indian sub-continent, passes through Ahmedabad. Delhi to Chennai National Highway, NH 48, passes through Ahmedabad. NH 47 connecting Bamanbore to Nagpur passes through this city. National Highway 64 connects the historic city of Dandi with Ahmedabad.

Sabarmati Junction railway station is the nearest railway station to the Ashram at Sabarmati at around 3 kilometers away. Ahmedabad Junction railway station is the nearest major railway station at around 6.8 kilometers distance, which is well connected to the rest of the country. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport at Ahmedabad is the nearest airport to Sabarmati Ashram.

Padmanabhapuram Palace, Travancore Kingdom

Padmanabhapuram Palace was the palace of the erstwhile rulers of the kingdom of Travancore. It is situated at Padmanabhapuram near Nagercoil Town. The place complex is part of Kerala state, inside Tamilnadu state.

Padmanabhapuram Palace,  Kanyakumari District
Padmanabhapuram Palace in Kanyakumari District.

Padmanabhapuram Palace is inside the Padmanabhapuram Fort, an old granite fortress which is around four kilometers is length. The Fort is located on the foot of the Veli Hills. Valli River flows near to the Padmanabhapuram fort and palace.

The Padmanabhapuram Palace is believed constructed in 1601 AD, by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal, the King who reigned from 1592 to 1609. It is built in traditional Kerala style of architecture. The Queen Mother’s Palace (Thai Kottaram), which is part of the fort, is believed to be constructed around 1550 AD.

The palace was rebuilt by King Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1706–1758) around 1750, who reigned the princely state of Travancore from 1729 to 1758. He dedicated the kingdom of Travancode to his family deity, Sree Padmanabha, a form of Lord Vishnu. Hence the city got its name Padmanabhapuram , which means city of Lord Padmanabha. (Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, Thiruvananthapuram is now considered as the World’s Richest Temple.)

The most beautiful portion of the palace complex is the King’s Council Chamber. Delicate and beautiful lattice works with its colored mica windows makes any visitor spellbound. Performance Hall is a relatively new addition (after the capital was shifted from here as described in next paragraph) with its granite pillars and gleaming black floors and was constructed by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, Great connoisseur of music and dance, who reigned from 1829 to 1846. Central mansion, constructed by King Marthandavarma is a 4-storeyed building at the center of the palace complex; royal treasury on ground floor, King’s bedrooms on First floor, King’s resting and study rooms on the second floor and top forth floor is the worship rooms for the royal family. Southern Palace is also believed to be of the same age as that of ‘Thai kottaram’ (Mother’s palace) and is now converted to a Heritage Museum.

The capital of Travancore Kingdom was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram in 1795 and thereafter the palace lost its glory. The Land and buildings inside the fort belongs to Kerala Government and is maintained by Archaeology Department of the Government of Kerala.

How Do I Go to Padmanabhapuram Palace?

Padmanabhapuram, where the palace is located is near Thuckalay town, the administrative headquarters of Kalkulam Taluk. Kanyakumari – Panvel (South Mumbai) NH 66 (previously known as NH 17) passes through Thuckalay.

The nearest railway station is at a distance of around 5 kilometers at Eraniel; not all trains stops here. The nearest major railway station is at a Nagarkoil, at a distance of around 20 kilometers distance from the palace complex.

Padmanabhapuram Palace is located at a distance of around 50 kilometers from Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala state. Thiruvananthapuram has an international airport and railway station.

Gol Gumbaz, Largest Dome in India at Bijapur

Gol Gumbaz is the largest dome ever built in India. It is the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah, famous Adil Shahi dynasty ruler. Gol Gumbaz is situated at Bijapur, in Karnataka state, India.

Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur, Karnataka
Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur, Karnataka.

This Tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah has the second largest dome in the world. The largest dome is that of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, believed to be built over the burial site of St. Peter, Christ’s Apostle and the first Pope.

The Tomb is built in Deccan style of Architecture. The central chamber of the tomb has a special feature where your sound is echoed 7 times! Whispering Gallery is another attraction of the Tomb, where any minute sound can be heard at a distance of 37 meters away, inside the hall.

Gol Gumbaz, The tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah, has also a Museum, Mosque and ruins of the Guest Houses.

Bijapur is one of the most famous historical cities in India which was the capital of Adil Shahi dynasty.

Ibrahim Rauza, the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, the fifth king of Adil Shahi dynasty is another place of historical importance at this city. It is said that Taj Mahal was designed based on the inspiration from the design of Ibrahim Rauzathe. There are many other historical buildings in this ancient city.

How Do I Go to Gol Gumbaz?

Gol Gumbaz is situated at Bijapur, which is connected by NH 13 (now renamed as NH 50) which connects Solapur to Mangalore. NH-218 connecting Hubli with Humnabad also passes through Bijapur India. Bijapur is situated at around 530 kilometers from Bangalore, the capital of the state of Karnataka, which is connected by bus services. Mumbai is at around 550 kilometers from this historical city. Mumbai to Bijapur bus services are available. Hyderabad is at around 380 kilometers distance from Bijapur.

Bijapur railway station connects this historic city with the rest of India by train.

Sambre airport (IXG) at Belgaum and Hubli airport (HBX) at Hubli are the nearest airports to Bijapur at around 165 kilometers distance. There is a proposed new greenfield airport coming up at Bijapur.

Sherabling Monastery,Palpung Monastery,Thangka paintings

Sherabling Monastery alias Palpung Monastery, is Buddhist Monastery situated near Bir in Himachal Pradesh state of India. Palpung Monastery was founded by the 8th Kenting Tai Situpa, Chokyi Jugne, in 1727.

Image taken during the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Sherabling Monastery
Image taken during the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Sherabling Monastery in March 2015. Image Courtesy – Central Tibetan Administration website.

Palpung Monastery is the seat of study for Buddhists and a place for practice of monk-hood. Surrounded by pine forests, the monastery gives any visitor an unparalleled sense of peace.

The lineage of the Kenting Tai situpas, the heads of Sherabling Monastery, is traced to Bodhisattva Maitreya, main disciple of Goutama Buddha. The Monastery is currently headed by the twelfth Kenting Tai Situpa, Pema Donyo Nyingche Wangpo.

The Sherabling Monastery has one of India’s largest indoor Maitreya Buddha statue, having a height of 42 feet or 12.8 meters. The entrance of the Monastery has some of the best Thangka paintings, a form of Buddhist paintings on cotton or silk.

The Monastery is also called Palpung Monastery, as it was originally established in 1727 at Palpung, a city in Tibet. The Monastery was established at its current site in 1975. Sherabling Monastery is located not far from Baijnath Temple, one of the Twelve Jyotirlingas.

How Do I Go to Sherabling Monastery?

Sherabling Monastery is accessible from Bir city, famous for paragliding. There are bus services from major cites of Himachal Pradesh and Also from New Delhi to Baijnath, a town at around 30 kilometers distance from Bir town.

Kumbhalgarh Fort, Hill Forts of Rajasthan

Kumbhalgarh Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Rajsamand district near Udaipur, which is part of the Hill Forts of Rajasthan. The fort wall is the second largest fort wall in the world having a length of 38 kilometers after the ‘Great wall of China’.

Kumbhalgarh Fort
Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan.

The fort was built in the 1440’s by Rana Kumbha, Maharana of Kumbhalgarh,. The construction of the fort took around 16 years. The Fort houses approximately 360 temples, out of which 300 are Jain temples and the rest are having Hindu deities.

The highest point of this Mewar fortress is Badal Mahal (Palace of Clouds). Maharana Pratap, one of the legendary rulers of Mewar, was born in this fort.

One can enjoy the beauty of the Thar Desert from the Kumbhalgarh fort on a clear day. This fort has been captured only once in its history, that too not to a single ruler; but to the joint armies of Akbar (the Mughal Emperor), Raja Man Singh (Amer Kingdom), Raja Udai Singh (Marwar Kingdom) and the Sultan of Gujarat. This happened as the fort has ran out of water, despite the fort having one of the best rainwater harvesting systems prevalent those days.

Bhairon Singh temple is a temple inside the fort where the monk, Bhairon Singh, is said to have sacrificed his life.

How Do I Go to Kumbhalgarh fort?

Kumbhalgarh fort is part of Aravalli Hills in Rajsamand district near Udaipur. The Fort is at around 80 kilometers from Udaipur, the city of Lakes.

Jalakandeswarar temple, Vellore Fort

Jalakandeswarar Temple is a Vijaynagar period Lord Shiva temple situated inside the Vellore Fort in Tamil Nadu State, India.

Jalakandeswarar Temple , Vellore, Tamilnadu
Jalakandeswarar Temple , Vellore, Tamilnadu

Tamil Nadu state Government has taken over the administration of the Temple through a government order. The temple structure is maintained by Archaeological Survey of India.

It is believed that there was a giant ant-hill where temple’s sanctum now stands, surrounded by stagnant rain water. Shiva Lingam (lord Shiva idol) was placed in these waters around the ant-hill and people started working worshiping here. Vijayanagar chieftain, named Chinna Bommi Nayaka, who was controlling the Vellore fort that time, had a dream in which Lord Shiva asked him to construct a temple there. Chinna Bommi Nayaka proceeded with the temple construction and demolished the anthill in 1550 AD, The temple got its name as the Lord Shiva Lingam was surrounded by water (Jalam in Tamil). Jalakandeswarar when translated to English, means “Lord Siva residing in the water”. Sadasivadeva Maharaya (1540 – 1572 AD) was the Vijaynagar king that time. The temple is also having the idol of Sri Akhilandeshwari Amma; consort of Jalakandeswarar.

Architecture of the Jalakanteshwara Temple is that of Vijayanagaram Architecture. The temple is famous for its exquisite Gopuram (tower) carvings The stone pillars are richly carved. , the temple will make you spellbound with its sculptures and monoliths. The temple tower is having a height of more than 100 feet. The temple Hall (Mandapam) is built on carved stone pillars of horses , dragons and lion like creature known as yalis.

The temple is situated in a water tank. There is a 2 faced sculpture of a bull and an elephant. in the Kalyana Mantapam (wedding hall).

There is an earthen lamp, which revolves when some people puts their hands on it and is believed that their wishes have been granted. To get rid of ‘sarpa dosham’, devotees worship the snake sculptures and the golden and silver lizard sculptures.

How Do I Go to Jalakandeswarar temple near Vellore?

Vellore is well connected by road and rail network to the rest of the country. The nearest International airport is at Chennai. Jalakandeswarar temple is at around 3 kilometers distance from Kadpadi Junction Railway station, a major railway station in the state of Tamilnadu. Kadpadi is the railway station at Vellore.