Delhi’s Metro

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This is a nostalgic memory of Delhi’s metro and how it changed the life of a common man in Delhi.

If you say metro it will certainly bring a pleasant smile on Delhi’s commuters. It is quite natural considering Delhi’s commuters woes before the arrival of Metro. You can easily identify Delhi’s commuters’ ‘mode of travel’ by their appearance. If they are dirty, tired with disheveled hair, looking pale and their dress is full of wrinkles certainly they might have travelled by Delhi Transport Corporation buses (DTC); if they appear pleasant, neat and clean and talk coolly, I am sure they must have travelled by Delhi metro !

Earlier Delhi commuters did not have any alternative than to travel only on DTC buses. Over the years it has got the dubious distinction of Dilapidated Transport Corporation owing to its poor maintenance. By boarding a bus does not guarantee you that you will reach your destination in time. It depends up on the mercy of its conductors and drivers.

Delhi roads are outlived its capacity as the number of personal vehicles are increasing in alarming rate, but the width of the roads are same as it was twenty years back. During peak hours it is very difficult to breathe inside the bus. If you wish to travel in a bus, you must be a multi-tasking personality as you may have to do so many things at the same time. You should be extraordinarily alert to keep your wallet intact. Having a personal vehicle does not mean that you will reach your destination in time as you may have to face traffic jams everywhere.

All these ordeals are over now. Thanks to Delhi metro. Even a poor casual labour enjoying his commuting with air-conditioned comfort. After entering into a metro station I felt as if I just landed into a foreign country. First time it has been proved that even in India public places like a metro station can be maintained spic and span if the authorities really wish to. No spitting, no littering, no begging, no vendors. It is absolutely amazing.

If you miss a train you need not worry. The next one will be coming to you in few seconds. If you are an outsider but want to visit so many places in Delhi, metro is the best bet as you don’t require any guidance. Each and every stop is being flashed on the screen. By mistake if you fail to notice it, you will get the announcement. The one thing I enjoyed about Delhi’s metro is the way it is disciplining the Delhi’s commuters. Yes if any commuter stands on the foot board the train would not move unless he/she clears the spot. While traveling, when I just peeped outside the train, I felt as if I am sitting in a low flying aircraft. No sound, no jerk. Certainly it is a best thing that could happen to Delhi. It is really a technological marvel.

Despite plenty of good things, there is only one disadvantage. Office goers in Delhi may not have any excuse for coming late to their office as they can no longer say that they are late due to traffic jams, road blocks, and diversions. Delhi is known for its monuments and memorials, which attracts large number of tourists. Now, Delhi’s Metro is certainly one more landmark for the visitors. Delhi can now boast of having a metro rail with latest cutting edge technology.

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Trip to North East, India

elephant falls shillong_Main_800When I decided to visit North-East of India in Apr 2009, I had a lot of apprehensions in my mind due to our pre-conceived notion arising out of adverse media reports about North East. Yet I was so determined to visit as I felt that it was a god sent opportunity. To add fuel to my apprehensions, a bomb blast incident took place at Guwahati just one day prior to our departure. But it never deterred our enthusiasm and we boarded the Air India flight as per the schedule. It was a morning flight from Delhi. Air India served us a hot and delicious breakfast. While relishing the breakfast, we had an opportunity to see the aerial view of beautiful tea gardens of Bagdogra where our flight landed on our way to Guwahati. When we reached Guwahati airport, a cool breeze welcomed us. On the way to our Guest House, we were passing through beautiful buildings of the city. We were able to spot Guwahati University, High Court and other important landmarks of the city. Finally, we reached the famous Kamakhya temple. We were stunned to see the huge crowd standing on the queue to pay their obeisance to God. What we really surprised that the previous day bomb blast never had any impact on the life of Guwahati citizens as the whole city looked as usual as any other normal day.

Next day early morning we proceeded to Shillong. Our journey from Guwahati to Shillong was not only memorable but also a feast to the eyes. When we reached Shillong, we were completely awestruck over the beauty of Shillong. Its unique buildings, neat and clean roads, people with colourful attire added more beauty to the city. Initially we had difficulty in pronouncing the names of the roads of Shillong as it all resemble Chinese names. On our sight seeing trip, from Shillong peak we could able to see the whole city of Shillong. It was a breathtaking experience. Elephant falls not only enthralled us by its beauty but also its serene surroundings. We felt fresh and got rejuvenated after our boating at the most beautiful Wards Lake. Musical fountain at this place was simply superb. I was amazed to see 18 holes Golf Course the biggest Golf Course in Asia. I became spellbound over its lush green lawns. Our only disappointment in Shillong was that I could not able to see the famous Don Bosco Museum as it was closed due to Easter holidays. The climate of Shillong really soothed both my mind and body.

After my sight seeing trip to Shillong, I proceeded to our dream destination. Yes it was Cheerapunji, the wettest place on earth (this record has now been snatched away by a village called Mawsynram just 10 kms away from Cherrapunji). I joined with a conducted tour to Cheerapunji in a Meghalaya Transport Corporation Bus. The moment we boarded the bus, the guide welcomed us and started briefing us about the significance of Cheerapunji in tolerable English. After his briefing, we really got exited to see our dream destination. Cherrapunji is full of huge mountains, beautiful valleys and pleasing water falls. Certainly it is the most picturesque place we have ever visited. Noh-ka-Likai falls was an absolute beauty. We could not take our eyes away from it as long as we stand there. Gushing sound of water and reflection of rainbow at the end still lingering in our mind. It was really a scenic beauty and worth to watch. If you are bit adventurous you can visit Mawsmai caves. You may underestimate its deepness while entering the cave. Before coming out of the caves, you would miss few heart beats on the way. We were completely excited to see the seven sisters where seven water falls appeared in a row. We could not believe our eyes as we witnessed the Bangaldesh border from Cherrapunji. It was really a life time opportunity.

I enjoyed the whole trip. It is really a lovely place and it was one of my best holidays which I will remember for ever.

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Pilgrimage to Bhubaneswar, Konark & Puri

 

800px-Konark_sun_temple_06On 13 Apr 2017  we boarded Duranto train to Bhubaneswar, which was late by two hours. Lunch served at 3 pm and  we had a lively talk with co-passengers. On 14th we could not make any programme due to extraordinary delay of our train for more than five hours.

On 15 Apr 2017 morning at 5am we went to Konark to see sun rise at chandrabagha beach. Exactly at 6 pm the sun in red colour appeared in slow motion. It was an awesome  sight. After the sun rise we took bath in the sea and proceeded to Konark sun temple. We immediately engaged a guide to know  the history of the temple.  When we know that the entire structure was built in a scientific way,  feel proud over  intelligent Indians in ancient times. The temple structure was made as a Chariot is  a unique phenomenon. Stone carvings depicting the human life and its applicability to the present time is unbelievable.

After the visit we proceeded to Puri. Our first stop was Gundicha mandir.It is significant for being the destination of the celebrated annual Rath Yatra of Puri. While it remains vacant most of the year, the temple is occupied by images of the deities of Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra for seven complete days (total 9 days including the start and concluding day of Ratha Yatra) every year during the annual Rath Yatra festival.

After that we proceeded to puri beach for a dip before going to Jagganath temple. The beach was crowded with plenty of devotees. Waves here was so ferocious. First we were little bit nervous to face  the  oncoming waves that pushed us towards the shore with a force. After few minutes we withstood the waves attack and started enjoying our dip in the sea. After spending half an hour in the beach we proceeded to see the famous Jaggnath temple. This temple is a sacred Vaishnava temple dedicated to Lord Jagnnath. It is an important pilgrimage destination and is particularly visited by devotees of Supreme lord Sri Krishna and is one of the Char Dham pilgrimages that anyone is expected to make in one’s lifetime. The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra or Chariot festival, in which the three main temple deities are kept on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. Even though the icons of most Hindu deities that are worshiped are made out of stone or metal, the image of Jagnnath is wooden. Every twelve or nineteen years these wooden figures are ceremoniously replaced by using sacred trees, that have to be carved as an exact replica.

The very sight of   the temple excited us. There were lot of devotees rushing towards the temple and we also joined them. We could not take our eyes off the beautiful temple structure for a long time. The  marvelous architecture of the main temple is really superb. Our dharshan of Lord Jaggnath was so satisfying that touched our soul. The chanting of ‘jagganath ki jay’ reverberated the entire temple that bound  all the devotees who gathered there. The mega distribution of prasad in earthen pots was something new which we have never seen in any temples. With this trip we completed two places out of the Golden triangle and looking forward our trip to Bhubaneswar.

After reaching Bhuneswar in the afternoon we immediately proceeded to Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. The caves are  partly natural and partly artificial caves of archaeological, historical and religious importance. The caves are situated on two adjacent hills, Udayagiri and Khandagiri. They have a number of finely and beautifully carved caves. It is believed that most of these caves were carved out as residential blocks for Jain monks. Udayagiri means “Sunrise Hill” and has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves.

Our next stop was famous Lingaraj temple. This temple is a  Hindu Temple dedicated to Harihara, a form of Shiva and Vishnu  and is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar. This is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar. The central tower of the temple is 180 ft  tall. The temple represents the Kalinga Architecture.

Following day we made a full day programme. First we went to Dhauli. It is a hill with vast open space adjoining it, and has major Edicts of Ashoka engraved on a mass of rock, by the side of the road leading to the summit of the hill. Dhauli hill is presumed to be the area where the Kalinga War was fought. Ashoka had a special weakness for Dhauli, where the battle was fought. The Daya river is said to have turned red with the blood of the many deceased after the battle, and enabled Ashoka to realize the magnitude of horror associated with war. He saw to it that Dhauli became an important centre of Buddhist activities. He built several stupas and Pillars there. On the top of the hill, a dazzling white peace pagoda has been built.

Bhuneswar is land of temples. We have seen few important temples. They are Sai temple, parashurama temple, Mukhesvara temple and Raja Rani temple. We also visited Orissa State Museum  one of the biggest museum we have seen so far.  The museum is divided into eleven sections, viz, Archaeology, Epigraphy, Numismatics, Armoury, Mining & Geology, Natural History. After lunch we straightaway proceeded to Nandankannan Zoo. We spent more than three hours and first time went for a safari and thrilled to see some rare  animals in the natural surroundings and roaming freely .  At the end of the day we visited Ram temple and with that  we successfully concluded our memorable trip to Orissa.

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STRANDED AT CHENNAI AIRPORT

It was on 30 Nov 2015, we were at Port Blair.   Our flight to Chennai was on 01 Dec 2015 morning. Previous night there was a heavy rain. The way it was pouring cats and dogs with thunder storm, I feared that it could upset our programme the next day morning. Fortunately, the rain stopped at 4 A.M and we started packing for the morning flight. Earlier at around 2.30 A.M I got an SMS from Air India intimating that our morning flight scheduled at 8 am has been delayed and will depart at 9.30 am. After seeing that SMS I felt happy over the ‘delay’ instead of cancellation considering the heavy rain on previous day. Breakfast was served immediately after take off and the journey was smooth and comfortable. At around 11 AM there was an announcement on board, the pilot informed that the flight reached Chennai and he is not getting clearance from ATC,Chennai  due to heavy rain. All passengers so far engaged in routine activities, suddenly become conscious of the situation and remain silent with anxiety.

After  15 minutes or so, there was an announcement informing that he got the clearance from ATC and we will be landing in few minutes. On hearing the announcement, everybody got a sigh of relief without knowing the harsh ground realities. When we landed at Airport, there was a heavy rain.  We immediately proceeded to pick up our baggage. At the time , I was getting lot of calls from relatives and everybody inquired about our arrival. Without knowing the seriousness of the situation, I was telling them that we landed safe and waiting for our baggage. After picking up our baggage we immediately proceeded to pre-paid taxi service counter. There were a long queue in almost all the  counters and  I observed that the queue was not moving.  When I looked at the counter I was puzzled to see that all the counters were empty. When I asked the fellow passengers nobody offered  any explanation for the missing men in the counters.

After  few minutes, I approached a airport staff and asked him the reason for the empty counters, he looked at me as if I have come from a different planet. He informed me that whole city is under water due to heavy rain. Now I understood the enormity of the situation and got really worried. In the mean time there was an announcement for the closure of the airport due to bad weather. The flight we landed perhaps the last flight for the day before closure of the airport. Again I was getting plenty of calls from my relatives and everybody tried to offer some solution,  even though  they knew that it was an uphill task to rescue us from the Airport.

It appeared to us that the passengers who were at the airport disappeared suddenly leaving us alone. We were completely puzzled and felt helpless. We could not find any solution even after two hours.  We thought that it would be advisable for us to go to the nearest place from the Airport. So we decided to go to our nephew’s residence at Chromepet.  It was still raining when we came out. Outside we spotted  few taxis,  we approached them but nobody prepared to take us due to water logging. We decided to take our chances on suburban train. But unfortunately the station was the other side of the airport and to go there we have to cross the big divider, may not be the much problem if you have no luggage, but with heavy luggage it appeared to be big task for us. Since no other option was left, with much difficulty carried our luggage and crossed the divider. After crossing we thought that all our hurdles are over as we are going to reach the suburban railway station. Unfortunately it was not as it was turned out to be only the first hurdle ! When we approached the subway to go to the railway station, we could not believe our eyes as the whole subway was turned into a mini swimming pool. If you dare to get down, you will be submerged fully and you will have to swim your way to the station provided if you are a good swimmer. Since we don’t know how to swim, our option to reaching the railway station also been closed.

Now no other option was left to us than going by road. We started looking for the three wheeler. But nobody interested to pick up us due to their apprehension of heavy water-logging enveloped the whole city. We approached a three wheeler driver who stopped after feeling sympathy over us as we were standing on the middle of the road, completely wet, with all our luggage while it was raining. When we told him where to go, he immediately retorted that he can not come there as he feared that once he comes there he may not able to return. I told him that my nephew is there in that area and he is saying that there is no water logging and vehicles are moving smoothly. But the driver still had suspicion and it appeared to me that he is not willing to believe my words. So to  satisfy him I told him to speak to my nephew to know himself about the situation. So I rang up my nephew and gave the mobile to the driver and he started speaking to him. After a long conversation he  seemed to be convinced and decided to take us and we were very happy over his decision and thanked my nephew  for  effectively convinced the driver.While driving, the driver started saying that you people are saying that no water logging, but no road is visible here! We kept a stony face in front of him and also pretended that we were not heard him what he said.  Finally we reached our destination after three hours of struggle at the airport and thanked the driver for getting us to our destination safe and paid the exorbitant fare charged by the auto driver without any murmur. Later through TV channels we came to know that not only the airport but the whole city was cut off from the rest of State !