Yin & Yan Amongst the Letters of Krishna, Godavari, Dolphins and Santas.

I left  a sunny Tiruchi and bid farewell to the sights of the yet to be fully-fed Kaveri for my next stop Nashik, an ancient holy city in north-west of Maharasthra state. But before that I made a short stop-over in Chennai to meet up with my cousins whom I hadn't seen in awhile. Here is one place that no matter how good the homemade coffee is, I still insist on that one which is sold at the tea stall a few streets away. Disappointingly though the plans got rained out this time. The skies didn’t clear up to the repeated recital of ‘rain rain go away, Uma wants her stall coffee today’ and though walking in the rain is always a pleasure, none of us were up to the chilly winds. This also meant our traditional visit to and capsicum bajhis at Marina beach would be unticked.

Fortunately though,  I do have a couple of sun-filled pictures from a previous trip to the same location at Anna Nagar (a suburb in Chennai). Just looking at these beats the cold outside. The first set is at a local tea stall, frequented mainly by locals. The preparation is fresh, milk is kept heated at the right temperature and the coffee/tea is served to your preference, for me it was like he could read my signals. Divine!  Its priced reasonably, prepared quickly, served instantly for the customers (that explains the mess right, 😀). The environment is not a cafe-like setting so if you looking for an uppity experience, this isn't the one for you, but I can certify that the coffee is worth the rupees.
Coffee, served just right!
I will write more on Chennai when the weather cheers up a bit in another blog-post. For now, while we are here, some facts about the city to take in:
  • It is the capital of Tamil Nadu.
  • This  is the 5th largest city in India and is regarded the safest one in the country.
  • Good to know that I am not the only one who enjoys the food in this region, so do millions more. The National Geographic rates Chennai's food as the 2nd best in the world. Coffee on me, if you tell me who leads this race, I am curious.
  • Its located on the coast off the Bay of Bengal (the sea along Marina Beach). Marina Beach stretches up to 600KM!! It is the 2nd longest beach in the world.
  • Was officially known as Chennai from 1996, prior to that was referred to as Madras, the name used even before the British days.
  • SIPCOT IT Park is the largest IT Park in Asia.
  • Chennai region has the oldest rocks in India, dating back to billion years ago. Mahabalipuram!
  • Cricket fans, did you know that Chepauk M.A. Chidambaram stadium is the oldest cricket stadium in India.
  • Many well known universities are located here - these include Anna University, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), MGR Research Institute and M.G.R Medical University. Narayan previously took me on a tour down memory lane to show me his dorm, room and where his classes once were in IIT Madras. Most students were on vacation, but I still managed to get a glimpse of the students rooms, for once my wardrobe looked more organised in comparison. 
Here are some more sunny shots around a local neighbourhood. School's just out, and the kids are rushing to grab a bite or two after a long day of crunching numbers. Yes, we do love the sun don’t we. Again, these are photos from a previous trip.

Schools out for the day.
MRT ride
After indulging in Sundar’s sweet and savoury kulhi-panirayam and  undergoing an acupuncture treatment session (performed by my cousin’s wife) to ease this month-long cough I was all set to continue my next leg of adventure. One mystery remained unresolved - the misbehaviour of Airtel - I was out of touch with the data world despite having a fully paid local subscription. Before that, look, here I am in the new MRT which connects Chennai airport and the various suburbs. But quick, quick, get me to the airport first. 

My cousin made sure that I had indeed checked in with a few minutes to spare. I hurried past security and was just in time for the boarding, then opened my eyes and next thing I knew I was already at 30 thousand feet but the views of the rivers snaking along and Western Ghats or Sahyadri mountain range (which is approximately 3000 meters above sea level) appeared like I was much closer to them. The person in the seat next to mine told me that's Krishna and it was love at first sight with the nadi. I still am mesmerized by the breath-taking sights of these million years old rocky cliffs. Krishna, one of the few rivers, which glides in-between these grand formations is 1300KMs long, the 4th longest river in the country, is the source of irrigation for 4 South Indian states - Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.


There are four rivers (Venna Urmodi, Tarli and Koyna) which join the Krishna at a confluence known as Preeti Sangam, or "Lover's Meeting Point”. Just as in Dashavatara, I wish I could transform into a fish to know what goes on beneath that scary stillness. It’s going to take me a life long journey of learning - but I reckon ’a river guide for dummies, would be a good start.  I did not have my camera/handphone with me, and even if I did, it would not have captured the beauty of the present better than the heart. These Ghats house wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, forest reserves, dams and is regarded as an UNESCO world heritage site. As we flew towards Mumbai my next destination, I saw more rivers. The Godavari.  Godavari is the 2nd longest river in India (1485 KM), flowing from west to east, up all the way covering 8 states (Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka and Puducherry) and all the way right up until once again, my good pal, the Bay of Bengal.  Godavari starts in Triambakeshwar, (Nashik) and Nashik is where I'd be spending the next few days with Vrushali's my lovely host and the beautiful bride - her family and friends. 

Before heading to Nashik, which would take anywhere between 3.5 - 5 hours by road (depending on traffic), I got myself energized with a hot cup of coffee and samosa at the airport. Well it’s not exactly the perfect one for my taste, but it’s something to fill up on. I must admit the bright orange cup they served their drinks in got me tempted. Nevertheless, getting it was still a good decision I would say, because it kept me awake to enjoy the interesting sights in the different townships and views of the stunning Ghats and valleys throughout the drive. 


A friend indeed.

Prepaid cab services are reliable and very professional, these can be booked online ahead of time. My driver spoke very little English, but we got by with the few but essential words of Hindi I knew and some sign language. He understood my requests to slow down or stop for photos. Narayan, Vrushali, Pranav and Gaurav handled the rest of the E1 translation over the phone remotely. The coffee and the Yin and Yan from the previous days acupuncture session are both working together effectively towards  keeping me sensibly balanced! And thank you Airtel for the unlimited local calls and for finally working or shall I say for deciding not to ditch me  (for the record, Airtel is not paying me for mentioning them 😉).

Sneak view of a thriller - Mumbai  -> Nashik

Nashik is an ancient holy city in the northern part of Maharasthra state and is 2300 feet above sea level (which means temperature wise, its comfortably cooler here) and has a projected 15M population. It is about 170KM from Mumbai Airport. There are a couple of interesting facts on how the name Nashik was derived for you to read up on. My intent to visit Nashik was solely for the wedding, but Vrushali insisted I should also see a bit of her town. And so that’s what I did, with her lovely friends from Kerala and their families. 7 of us comfortably snugged in an Auto (local 3 wheeled taxi), as we spent a warm and sunny afternoon in mystical Nashik, covering over 10 temple sites and having a crash-course on Ramayana and the history of Nashik in the local language. My head is overworked, I had taken in more information than I could handle for a day. On a lighter note, we did have some delicious Indian food where our bread orders got exchanged and then some cherry-topped Paan to finish off the meal with.  




Around Nashik

And the finale, the icing - was being face to face with the great Godavari herself. There she was, right in front of us - here is where she begins her journey, our guide tells us. Just look - she is that great one who supports the millions along her 1465 KM journey across the 8 states as she makes way to unite with the sea. Life is journey just like this river and anything is possible along the way. I am dazed, and I still cannot wake up.
Start point, Godavari


I mentioned a crash-course earlier. Well, I am awake now, but I am still lost in translation. And speaking of which, I have just registered for new language course. Pretty excited, guess which language? 

During this fast tour around, we visited a couple of notable places, one of them was the Kalaram Temple - A Hindu Shrine built in 1788, dedicated to Lord Rama. We also visited a few other temples, but I didn't get a chance to record down their names.

Kalaram

Nashik is also an important business hub, it houses many large-scale industries and is an emerging destination for various new technology start-ups and R&D centres. The currency note press is located here. In terms of agriculture & plantation, this region produces most of Indian wine. Local vineyards offer wine tasting tours.  Along the drive in the outskirts of Nashik, I noticed many miles of other plantations. The cool climate and good irrigation system contribute to its export quality products such as onion, corn, sugar and wheat. Just look here, what a perfect sunrise in the fields. This picture was taken early in the morning on my way to Shridi. 


Thank you!!!

The sights in Nashik and Mumbai are very picturesque. I had as in my previous blog posts mentioned, that in any given place, it’s the people who make the difference for me. Just as all whom I know in Tiruchi or Chennai are, the local Nashik-ans are warm and friendly and did whatever they could to make their city and my stay a comfortable one as much as possible (and we do the same too 😃). This was my first experience attending a traditional Marathi wedding. With the couples permission, here are some of the pre-wedding function highlights and pictures to share with you. 


  • Mehandi (hand art painting) - a tradition to wish the bride and groom good health and prosperity as they make their journey onto marriage. This is also a medicinal remedy to cool the body and relieving the bride/groom from stress. This tradition is performed in many Hindu weddings in the different regions in India. In the past it was more of a family affair. These days, the excitement is extended to the families and friends, and that explains how I got my hands painted too. 
  • Sangeet - music is everywhere in India and weddings are no exception. Sangeet celebrates dance and songs, everyone participates, so don't be shy. Everyone has a move or two to spin too. The colours, music and beats are loud, it’s party time. 
  • Haldi - this is a religious ritual where elders apply turmeric paste on the bride and groom as a symbol of blessing and to ward off evil eye on the couple.

A new journey, wishing the couple all the happiness

After all the excitement it's time to head home, but I promised I will be back again. There are just too many awesome places to visit here. Nashik 2.0. 💖


My flight back was delayed by many hours but interestingly while charging my hand phone at the common area in the airport, I met Niraj, a local Sea-Man who was returning home after being away at sea for 6 months. Despite missing his connecting flight home, his spirits warmed up the cold airport as he talked about his daily adventures at sea, the star clusters that light up the dark nights and the endless sights of dolphins playfully racing with the seagulls. He later sent me pictures of the seals that sometimes visit them on the deck. I wonder if those stars and dolphins point the way to Delphi. 

It was a full week back home indeed. I learnt about the GPS in SintaKlaas as he made his way back to Spain after delivering bags of gifts in Netherlands, met up a friend from the Prague office who made a special ditto to KL and I safely delivered an elephant to the Gardens in Mid-Valley & of course a travel through time to ReachingDelphi. On that note, MQ connections will work!!! Enjoy your coffee, have a great week. 💛💛💛 

** General facts referenced from online Wiki.

11 comments:

  1. Anonymous12/12/2017

    your Slovak friend from the Prague office loves your blog :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this entry...makes me miss my India trip...

    ReplyDelete
  3. The elephant and the person who received it both enjoy reading your blog :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good Morning from Germany
    I wish you a nice week
    Yours deeply
    Tanja

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good Morning from Germany
    I wish you a nice week
    Yours deeply
    Tanja

    ReplyDelete