21 incredible pictures of Maha Shivaratri

The Maha Shivaratri Festival will be celebrated by Hindus the world over on March 7, and is celebrated annually in reverence of the Hindu God ‘Shiva’. It is said to be the day that Shiva saved the universe by drinking poison and also the day he was married to the Goddess Parvati. Often referred to as Shivaratri, the festival is celebrated by most during the day, while others hold all-night vigils to celebrate the event which falls on a day in the most holy month in the Hindu calendar year.

Here we look at 21 pictures of Nepalese and Indian Hindus offering special prayers and fasting to commemorate the occasion

1. A Nepalese Sadhu (Hindu holy man) looks on during preparations for the Maha Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu on March 7.

Mahashivaratri

2. A man paints coloured paste onto his face during the Maha Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu.

PHOTO: AFP PHOTO: AFP

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The Bikers Who Travelled from India to Thailand, Through Myanmar, on the Royal Enfield Bullet share their wonderful Journey

An Indian Army officer took a quick look at our stamped papers and motioned for the gate to be lifted. Noel, my Aussie riding buddy, and I had left New Delhi a few days earlier on Asian Highway 1, battling northern India’s freezing winter conditions on a pair of kick-start Royal Enfield Bullet Machismo 500s.

Many travellers have made the journey to the border at Moreh, only to be turned away. If the Indian border officials didn’t think you’d be allowed into Myanmar, they wouldn’t allow you to exit. But things are different now. After months of anxious planning and wondering whether to attempt this trip, we were almost there.

Myanmar Maps          (Photo: Google Maps)

Until a few years ago, crossing Myanmar overland with your own vehicle was prohibited. It took some enterprising individuals to sort out the paperwork and convince their governments to open the border and allow travellers to enter.

13-bullet-[1600x1200]Riding through the jungles of western Myanmar where the tar road hasn’t reached yet. (Photo: Jay Kannaiyan)

Myanmar is now, technically, a democracy. But it remains military-dominated and paranoid about state security. What do secretive states fear most? Independent travellers roaming the country, interacting with locals and reporting to the outside world. As a compromise, overlanders are now allowed to cross the country to Thailand with one major caveat – they have to be escorted by a government officer and a tour guide, along with a fixed itinerary following a pre-planned route. This isn’t my preferred style, but the opportunity to be one of the first to blaze the trail across this ‘virgin’ country was too tempting.

Crossing the single-lane, iron Indo-Myanmar Friendship Bridge at Moreh was a big moment – a continuation of my round-the-world journey without needing to take a flight.

20-bagan-bullet-[1600x1200]The enigmatic plains of Bagan with pagodas from a thousand years still standing. (Photo: Jay Kannaiyan)

The western part of Myanmar is quite remote compared to the south and the east. With no tar roads until a few years ago, there were many tales of notorious mud jungle roads that mired vehicles. But the Indian government, in its bid to open trade with Myanmar and counter China’s influence, surfaced a 160 km-long road from the border to Kalay.

However, any chances of making quick time were ruined by more than a hundred narrow wooden and iron bridges. Some were well-maintained, but others resembled those I’d traversed deep in the Amazon with missing planks and exposed nails.

15-bridges [1600x1200]Crossing over a hundred wooden bridges in remote western Myanmar. How good is your balance?

(Photo: JayKannaiyan)

We made it to Kalay in a day, then set off for Mandalay. The tar surface disappeared within a few kilometres, revealing baseball-sized rocks jutting from the hard-packed mud.

Our Bullets bounced about and just like in the Amazon, when trucks inevitably came from the opposite direction, the road’s fine clay dust enveloped us, drowning our senses for several seconds and leaving a powdery residue everywhere. But in this primitive landscape, riding through virgin jungles, we were in adventure riding paradise.

Down the Irrawaddy River lay Bagan, Myanmar’s tourist Mecca and a place to marvel at the imperial legacy from the Eleventh Century. Thousands of pagodas dot this plain, many covered in gold leaf. Its grandeur is intense, emotional and deeply personal. As we caught the sunset that evening from atop one of the largest pagodas, spontaneous applause broke from the crowd when the last ray disappeared beyond the horizon.

18-temple-[1600x1200]          (Photo: Jay Kannaiyan)

The next day we headed east and the road twisted tightly up and over the Shan Hills. Bullets are low on horsepower, but their balanced chassis makes for nimble cornering. Going uphill, sliding our butts off the seats, and leaning into corners is a movement every biker learns to love, even if the Bullet wasn’t designed to be ridden like a sportbike.

Back over the Shan Hills and we entered Nay Pyi Taw, the new capital built 10 years ago. Like most planned capitals, this one feels sterile, filled with wide, multi-lane concrete roads almost entirely devoid of traffic. We were left stunned by a 20-lane road in front of the parliament building. Ten lanes each side, with no cars. A sad demonstration of showmanship – no doubt a venue for military parades intended to signal the government’s disdain for Western sanctions – instead it remains a monolith of Myanmar’s squandered fortunes.

26-inlay-[1600x1200]         (Photo: Jay Kannaiyan)

Bikes are banned from Nay Pyi Taw’s modern four-lane concrete highway to Yangon and they’re not even allowed into the city, so we had to park them at the city’s northern edge from where we caught a van and made it just in time to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Over 325 feet tall, covered in gold leaf, with endless candles lit by chanting devotees around its base, the pagoda possesses an immense spirituality. We said a customary prayer, walked around the base and then headed to 19th Street in Old Town for a night of barbeque meats and cold beer.

119-myanmar-food [1600x1200]         (Photo: Jay Kannaiyan)

After fetching our bikes the following morning, it was a leisurely ride east to Kyaiktiyo. Here we took the hour-long steep uphill climb in the back of a truck to Golden Rock – a massive boulder impossibly balanced on the edge of a cliff, covered in gold. When the sun came out from behind the clouds and lit up the rock in all its golden radiance, it was almost enough to make me a believer.

On the last day, we crossed the Dawna Range to reach the Thai border. And, just like in the far west where the road is yet to be paved, Noel and I had one last hairy ride. From Hpa’an, the road east is laden with trucks and tourist buses. This deteriorated road gave us a bone-rattling ride, which worsened in the mountains, becoming a gnarly off-road track filled with giant potholes. We charged up along the sides of minibuses, tankers and trucks – not lingering on the cliff edges longer than necessary.

84-inlay-boat-[1600x1200]Long boats on Inle lake where the locals have created a thriving economy whilst living on the lake.

(Photo: Jay Kannaiyan)

This thrilling ride made for a fitting end to the journey through this adventure rider’s paradise. We reached the Thai border at Mae Sot and after bidding farewell to our escorts whom we’d befriended over the past ten days, we exited Myanmar.

Noel and I high-fived as we realized we were among the first riders to cross this wonderful country from India to Thailand – and on Royal Enfields!

What a stunning country to experience on a bike. If you would like to do this, get in touch as I’m organising another ride across in a few months.

India to thailand on road       Successfully entering Thailand at Mae Sot after crossing the length of Myanmar. (Photo: Jay Kannaiyan)

 

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Did you know why,Mysuru topping clean city rating is no surprise

The emergence of the heritage city of Mysuru as the cleanest city in the country in the pre-Swacch Bharat rankings released last week is testimony to the importance of imbibing a culture of cleanliness over decades and generations.

The number one rank for Mysore among 476 evaluated cities in India comes as no great surprise to locals since high standards of cleanliness have been nurtured for generations by visionary kings from the Wodeyar dynasty who governed the region until five decades ago. The Wodeyars, who had travelled widely through much of the developed world, brought to Mysuru modern ideas that made it one of the best planned cities in the country nearly 150 years ago.

A gradual growth in population (14 lakh at present) and an adherence to the principles of city planning laid down by the Wodeyar kings has helped Mysuru avoid many of the pitfalls encountered by major cities.

Nearly 150 years ago the kings of Mysore created the Vani Vilas Water Works, a drinking water supply system that pumps water from the Cauvery river to the city. They also created universities, colleges and school that provided modern education to the people of Mysore. A culture of democratic participation was also started by the Wodeyars through the creation of Praja Pratinidhi Sabhas where cleanliness of the local environment was an area of key focus. Mysuru was one of the earliest cities to have door to door garbage collection.

Instead of one centralised market where waste piles up, Mysuru has had four markets since the days of the Wodeyars. This has ensured more efficient waste disposal in the city. The Wodeyars decision to set aside 900 acres for a sewage treatment plant has helped subsequent civic administrators handle the problem of Mysuru’s sewage disposal. The sewage plant created in 1994 is today also an important source of cattle fodder. Door to door collection of garbage is efficient with the participation of civic groups and NGOs. In the well-laid out localities there are clearly demarcated areas for garbage collection.

Mysuru has also clearly maintained the demarcation between its sleepy residential localities and commercial areas. In recent months sensing a garbage threat to the city, including several heritage sites, through the uncontrolled proliferation of roadside eateries the MCC has gone on a driven to regulate eateries and move them to designated sites.

Another key factor Mysuru’s emergence as a clean city is its position as a tourism destination of historical and cultural importance. Nearly 70,000 foreign and 20 lakh Indian tourists visit Mysuru annually for the city’s royal heritage and yoga.

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THE 10 SAFEST CITIES IN THE WORLD

LIVE IN A CITY? Want to find out how safe you are? The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has got you covered.

The EIU released its Safe Cities Index 2015 this week, which rates 50 cities based on how well they do in four safety-related factors:

1. Digital security: cyber security, privacy, safety from identity theft

2. Health security: cost and quality of health services, environment and air/water quality

3. Infrastructure security: condition of roads, bridges, and buildings, transportation safety

4. Personal safety: crime and violence, perceptions of personal security

Tokyo, the world’s most populous metropolitan area, took the prize for safest overall city, and also won for best digital security. Zurich was tops in both health and infrastructure, and Singapore in personal security.

Across all the EIU’s indexes, which include “liveability,” “cost of living,” “food security” and more, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world is…Toronto ,Here’s the grain of salt. You’ll probably notice that some cities dubbed the most liveable are missing from the list of safe cities. Where’s Vancouver? Vienna? The report doesn’t make fully clear why many cities that top EIU’s Global Liveability Index fail to show up on the Safety Index.

Here are the top 10 safest cities, according to EIU. All photos from nighttime because it’s super safe!

1. Tokyo

tokyo_night-600x401                                                                       Photo:Moyan Brenn/Flickr

2. Singapore

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Photo:Mitch Altman/Flickr

 

3. Osaka

safe_city_osaka-600x401                                                                           Photo:Luke Ma/Flickr

4. Stockholm

safe_city_stockholm-600x401                                                                             Photo:Nick Hewson/Flick

5. Amsterdam

safe_city_amsterdam-600x401                                                                  Photo:Glen Scarborough/Flickr

6. Sydney

safe_city_sydney-600x401                                                                               Photo:Pavel/Flickr

7. Zurich

safe_city_zurich-600x401                                                                            Photo: kunhmi/Flickr

8. Toronto

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9. Melbourne

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10. New York City

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Chand Baori :Deepest and largest step wells in India

wellChand Baori is a stepwell situated in the village of Abhaneri near Jaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

Abhaneri  is a village in the Dausa district of Rajasthan state in India. It is situated at a distance of 95 km from Jaipur, on the Jaipur-Agra road. It is located opposite Harshat Mata Temple and was constructed in 800 AD. Chand Baori consists of 3,500 narrow steps over 13 stories. It extends approximately 100 ft into the ground making it one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India.

Chand_Baori,_Abhaneri

 

Chand Baori is one of the oldest and most attractive landmarks in Rajasthan. It was built by King Chanda of the Nikumbha Dynastybetween 800 and 900 AD and was dedicated to Hashat Mata, Goddess of Joy and Happiness upon completion.

The state of Rajasthan is extremely arid, and the design and final structure of Chand Baori was intended to conserve as much water as possible. At the bottom of the well, the air remains 5-6 degrees cooler than at the surface, and Chand Baori was used as a community gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat. One side of the well has a pavilion and resting room for the royals

 

 

Top 10 Highest Mountain Peaks in the world

Some of the highest mountains in the world are located in northern India. These are part of the Himalaya mountains. Being the world’s highest mountain chain, the Himalayas is characterized by its great height, complex geologic structure, snowcapped peaks, large valley glaciers, deep river gorges, and rich vegetation.

They were given the name Himalaya which means “home of snow”, because snow never melts on their high peaks.
The Himalayas form the planet’s highest mountain region, containing 9 of the 10 highest peaks in the world. Among these peaks are the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest (8848 m), which is on the Nepal-Tibet border; the second highest peak, K2 or Mount Godwin Austen (8,611 m), located on the border between China and Jammu and Kashmir, the third highest peak, Kanchanjunga (8,598 m) on the Nepal-India border.

The Himalayas can be classified in a variety of ways. From south to north, the mountains can be grouped into four parallel, longitudinal mountain belts,Shivaliks (Outer Himalayas or Sub-Himalayas),Himachal( Lower Himalayas)Himadri ( Higher Himalayas) ,Trans-Himalayas (Tibetan Himalayas).

From west to east the Himalayas are divided broadly into three mountainous regions – the Western Himalayas, the Central Himalayas and the Eastern Himalayas.Major Himalayan Hill Stations include Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Dharamsala, Ladakh, Simla, Nainital, Kullu, Manali, Dalhousie, Mussoorie, Rishikesh, Amarnath, Gangtok, Kailas Mansarovar, Vaishno Devi, Patni Top etc.

The Himalayas is the world’s highest mountain range comprising all top ten of the world’s highest peaks. In fact, the Himalayas includes 14 peaks more than 8,000 meters high and some 200 more than 6000 meters.

 

Mountain Peak Range  Location Height in ft.
Everest Himalayas Nepal/Tibet 29,035
K2 (Godwin Austen) Karakoram Pakistan/China 28,250
Kanchenjunga Himalayas India/Nepal 28,169
Lhotse Himalayas Nepal/Tibet 27,940
Makalu Himalayas Nepal/Tibet 27,766
Cho Oyu Himalayas Nepal/Tibet 26,906
Dhaulagiri Himalayas Nepal 26,795
Manaslu Himalayas Nepal 26,781
Nanga Parbat Himalayas Pakistan 26,660
Annapurna Himalayas Nepal 26,545

 

 

 

Top 25 Resorts for Wedding

                                                             

 

 

 

            1. Rocabella Resort, Santorini, Greece

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2.The Resort at Pelican Hill, California

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3.The Banyan Tree Resort, Bintan, Indonesia

The-Banyan-Tree-Resort-Bintan

4.The Fairmont, Southampton, Bermuda

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5.Ayana Resort and Spa, Bali

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6.Four Seasons Resort, Maldives

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7.The St. Regis Resort, Bali

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8.Grand Velas, Riviera Maya, Mauritius

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9.The St. Regis Resort, Bora Bora

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10.Capella Pedregal Resort, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

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11.Tirtha Luhur, Bali

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12.Anantara Resort, Hua Hin, Thailand

 

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13.Anantara Resort, Seminyak, Bali

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14.The Banyan Tree Resort, Phuket, Thailand

15-Banyan-Tree-Phuket--600x40015.Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran, Indonesia

16-Le-Meridien-Bali-Jimbaran-600x54816. Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives

17-Shangri-La-Villingili-Maldives-600x44917.Ocean Blue & Sand resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

18-Ocean-Blue-Sand-resort-in-Punta-Cana-Dominican-Republic-418x60018.Bulgari Resort, Bali

19-Bvlgari-Hotel-Bali-600x39919.Le Blanc Resort and Spa, Cancun, Mexico

20-Le-Blanc-Resort-and-Spa-Mexico-400x60020.The W Retreat, Koh Samui, Thailand

21-the-W-Retreat-Koh-Samui-Thailand-400x60021.The Kahala Hotel & Resort, Hawaii

22-The-Kahala-Hotel-Resort-Hawaii22.The St. Regis Princeville Resort, Hawaii

27-The-St.-Regis-Princeville-Hawaii-382x60023.Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, Hawaii

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24.Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Hawaii

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25.Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

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Khari Baoli – Asia’s Largest Spice Market

Shop_selling_tea_leaves,_at_Khari_Baoli,_Old_DelhiKhari Baoli- is a street in DELHI,known for its wholesale grocery and Asia’s largest wholesale spice market selling all kinds of spices, nuts, herbs and food products like rice and tea. Operating since the 17th century, the market is situated near the historic Delhi Red Fort, on the Khari Baoli Road adjacent to Fatehpuri Masjid at the western end of the Chandni Chowk, and over the years has remained a tourist attraction, especially those in the heritage circuit of Old Delhi.