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The Pakhavaj Players of Alandi

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Introduction

Alandi is well known as the residence and final resting place of Sant Dnyaneshwar - one of the most important figures of the Warkari sect and one of the principle saints of Maharashtra. The town is thus a major place of pilgrimage in the state. The town lies just to the north of Pune city, on the banks of the Indrayani river which it straddles with immense bathing ghats.

Alandi - under lights
I have been meaning to visit Alandi for a long time, but for one reason or the other, that never happened. Until this time.

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An Accidental Visit

On a midnight drive to a place further north from Pune, we passed through the town of Alandi. While crossing the bridge over the Indrayani we were caught by the sight of the sprawling and empty ghats and decided to halt for a while.

The illuminated ghats of Alandi
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The Sounds Under Lights

The visual delight of the ghats under lights quickly transformed to a more musical one with each step we took - for the sound of frenetic pakha…

Tungnath And Chandrashila - An Easy Himalayan Trek

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Introduction
The temple of Lord Tungnath in Uttarakhand - at an elevation of about 3200m above sea level - is supposed to be the highest Shiva temple in the world. The temple is accessed after a hike of about 3km from the road-head at Chopta. The temple is one among the revered Panch-Kedar shrines and sees a steady flow of devotees.

The summit of Chandrashila lies about 1km ahead and above the temple of Tungnath. At an elevation of 4000m, Chandrashila acts like an elevated platform of sorts with a majestic - almost 360 degree - view of the Himalayan peaks.

The sunrise at Chandrashila
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A Small Challenge

A quick tip - always backup your photos as soon as possible. I lost mine - quite a few lovely ones from the trek included - when my phone went dead all of a sudden. Only two - the ones uploaded on Instagram - survived. The loss of pics means that the post will have to be described in detail without any visual cues, i.e. a wall of text. I hope you all bear with me on this one.

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A Few Books To Travel With

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Introduction

Being an avid reader and a traveler (of sorts), it would be fair to assume that books related to travels and journeys rank among my favourites. Reading such a book while on a journey myself adds to the richness of the experience - the author's journey coincides with that of mine and when the experiences overlap its not an insignificant euphoria.

Reading 'The Pearl' - a novella by John Steinbeck - by the beach
Of course, not every book achieves such a rapture. The way a person - be it me or the author - develops  across the course of a journey is what matters in the end - the change of perspective perhaps, or a realization that dawns slowly in the way a veil of clouds lifts off a snowy peak. All journeys have their natural pace and all stories have theirs. When the pace of the story matches that of the journey - running across the crowded city streets and pausing a while to savour the fragrance of wild-flowers in a wild forest bloom - the effect transcends mere …

On The Exquisite Hoysala Temple Run

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Introduction

The Hoysala Dynasty originated in the Malanadu region of Karnataka around the turn of the 12th century and spread out through the state, their backs protected by the mighty wall of the Western Ghats. The term Hoysala literally means lion-slayer. It originates from their first victory over the Tamil Cholas - their emblem was the lion - at Talakadu.

The Buccheshwara Temple at Korvangla ... ... note the Hoysala emblem - man slaying a lion - near the spire
The dynasty came to an early end in the middle of the 14th century, but by then, had left a lasting imprint on the state's architecture. The intricacy of Hoysala black soap-stone sculptures is virtually unparalleled in the country. There are three prime centres for Hoysala architecture: Belur, Halebidu and Somnathpura.

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Getting Around

The three prime centres of Hoysala architecture and a few others are located conveniently near Mysuru and can be covered in a couple of days with a dedicated transport. The bus conn…

A Sunrise At Malhargad

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Introduction

Malhargad is one of the youngest forts in India. It was built by the Marathas in the latter half of the 18th century to guard the Dive Ghat route connecting Saswad to Pune. The fort can be accessed by a short climb of 20 minutes after a short detour from the Dive Ghat road, thus making it a quick getaway from Pune on any day.

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Getting (Climbing) In

One has to take the Dive Ghat route from Pune on the way to Saswad. After the ghat climb, one should take the road to the left at the next to Shakuntala Misal leading towards Zendewadi. The road deteriorates after a while, but leads on the the base of Malhargad where one can park the vehicle. Two paths from this point can be used to climb to the fort - the straight rough path or the gentle switch-back route on the right.

The fort seen from the parking lot
The stairs leading to the 'Chor Darwaza'
The gentle switch-backs
The main road of the Dive Ghat is serviced by regular local buses from Pune. The …