Lush green surroundings on way to Ananda retreat

Ananda Retreat Pune and its beautiful surroundings

Lush green fields on way to Ananda Retreat Pune after rains

We had actually set out on a drive to Lavasa on a Sunday morning after several weeks of plentiful rains. It so happened that while having my coffee before we set out, I came across this petition in change.org against Lavasa and its wrongdoings. We had decided to drive to Lavasa as I had never visited the place. After quite some time in the drive, I realised that Ananda meditation and yoga retreat is somewhere before Lavasa. When we spotted the signpost for the retreat, there was hardly any debate. We just turned into the road to the retreat. What an experience it turned out to be. The road upto the retreat with lush green fields around, a small river that we crossed and beautiful weather.

Lush green fields and a small river

All around it was beautiful hues of green and it was so comforting to the eyes. We crossed few small villages and settlements.

Lush green fields and beautiful surrounding

We crossed a small river which had a lively current.

Small river on way to Ananda Retreat Pune

This lady was keeping a keen watch on her buffalos who were obviously enjoying their bath in the river on a beautiful morning.

Lady with her buffalos in the small river
Buffalos in the water enjoying themselves

At Ananda retreat

First impression of the yoga and meditation retreat was that its serene campus blended well with the beautiful surroundings. It exuded a calm which any retreat should. Best thing was that it was not ostentatious at all. Dr. Aditya of Ananda Sangha was helpful in letting us in despite a last minute request and made arrangements for us to be shown around.

A path at Ananda Retreat

 

Papaya at Ananda retreat

Here is the spot I loved the most during our brief visit to the campus. I could easily spend an entire day here reading, writing, sketching, thinking (all that) with intervals of doing nothing. Doing nothing in such surroundings can be so fulfilling and rewarding.

Sit down here till eternity at Ananda meditation and yoga retreat

Other blog posts related to nature and trails

Forest walk in Sangla  valley

Sunrise in Kumaon mountains overlooking Ramganga river

Photo features by Milind Vishwas Sathe

 

Window from Dhangkar monastery

Window, light and wall texture at Dhangkar gompa

This window with bright light and a colourful cloth set in textured wall of the ancient monastery at Dhangkar gompa caught my attention. The wall texture, the pattern of the wall colours and the steps going up contributed to this very symbolic visual. (Dhangkar Gompa, Spiti, 2011)

Light through the window and wall texture at the ancient Dhangkar gompa, a prominent Buddhist monastery

Location of Dhangkar Gompa

Dhankar Gompa (also called Dankhar or Drangkhar) is a village and also a Gompa or monastery. It is an ancient Buddhist temple in the district of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, India.  The gompa is situated at a height of 3,894 metres (12,774 feet) in the Spiti Valley above Dhankar village, between the towns of Kaza and Tabo. The complex is built on a 1000-foot (300-metre) high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a gompa. Dhang or dang means cliff, and kar or khar means fort. Hence Dhangkar means a fort on a cliff.

Dhankar, like Key monastery and Tangyud monastery in Spiti, and Thiksey, Likir and Rangdum monasteries in Ladakh, was built as a fort monastery on the Central Tibetan pattern. It was reported to have had 90 monks in 1855. Below the Gompa lies the small village of Shichilling which houses the new Dhankar monastery, home to about 150 monks belonging to the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Beyond the surrounding harsh, lunar landscape, notable sights at Dhankar Gompa include a statue of Vairocana consisting of four figures seated back-to-back, in addition to various crumbling thangkas. There is a small museum in the gompa. In 2006, World Monuments Fund selected Dhankar gompa as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. A nonprofit group, Dhangkar Initiative, is attempting to organize its conservation.

History of Dhangkar

Dhankar was the traditional capital of the Spiti Valley Kingdom during the 17th century and has some features dating back to the 12th century. It was the seat of the early rulers of Spiti, the Nonos, who had the right to cultivate the government lands nearby and were required to keep the fort in repair. They also dispensed justice to the people and were noted for their harsh penalties until the British replaced them. (source : Wikipedia)

Relevant Links

Prayer wheel at Dhangkar monastery

History & Heritage pictures by Milind Vishwas Sathe

Photo features by Milind Vishwas Sathe

Prayer wheel at Dhangkar monastery

Prayer wheel

Prayer wheels at monasteries is a fascinating sight. Usually there is line of prayer wheels and the visitors make it a point to touch each and every wheel. This prayer wheel at Dhangkar monastery or gompa in Spiti looked as old as the monastery itself and it was a different feeling to touch the prayer wheel as well as the wall around. It had a deep cold feel to it almost as if connecting with its ancient past.

Prayer wheel at Dhangkar monastery, Spiti valley

 

Dhangkar Monastery

Dhankar is a village and also a Gompa, a Buddhist temple in the district of Lahaul and Spiti in India. It is situated at an elevation of 3,894 metres (12,774 feet) in the Spiti Valley above Dhankar Village, between the towns of Kaza and Tabo. The complex is built on a 1000-foot (300-metre) high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a gompa. Dhang or dang means cliff, and kar or khar means fort. Hence Dhangkar means fort on a cliff.

View of the mountains from top of Dhangkar Monastery

Dhankar, like Key and Tangyud Monasteries in Spiti, and Thiksey, Likir and Rangdum monasteries in Ladakh, was built as a fort monastery on the Central Tibetan pattern. Below the Gompa lies the small village of Shichilling which contains the new Dhankar Monastery, home to about 150 monks belonging to the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Beyond the surrounding harsh, lunar landscape, notable sights at Dhankar Gompa include a statue of Vairocana consisting of four figures seated back-to-back, in addition to various crumbling thangkas. There is a small museum in the gompa. In 2006, World Monuments Fund selected Dhankar gompa as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. A nonprofit group, Dhangkar Initiative, is attempting to organize its conservation. (source : Wikipedia)

Relevant Links

Window from Dhangkar Gompa

History & Heritage pictures by Milind Vishwas Sathe

Photo features by Milind Vishwas Sathe

 

 

 

32.089538178.2125954

International Tea Day

Tea means Indian Masala Chai

Tea at a dhaba in Kumaon mountains

There is an eruption of memories of countless moments of sipping of chai – the golden beverage which has the power of starting conversations, sharing joy, uniting friends and families and may be we can stretch this to uniting the diverse land that is India. The passion with which people cutting across all strata embrace this drink is unparalleled. Let us celebrate international tea day with some nice hot masala chai.

Drink Tea anywhere

Chai at a dhaba in Jaipur

Personally I have always enjoyed drinking tea. There must have been countless shops, dhabas, thelas, cinema halls, college canteens, railway stations, restaurants, clubs, hotels, journeys and of course homes of friends and relatives where I would have enjoyed the sacred act of drinking tea. Some of these moments have been memorable – moments of laughter, intense debates as well as meaningless bakwaas or just plain simple catching up. It is next to impossible to say No to an invitation for chai.

Indian Masala Chai

While tea drinking is a wonderful way to celebrate friendship and enjoy the company of those whom you like, sipping your favourite chai alone is an experience which is nothing less than a session of mediation. If you have made the tea yourself, then you have gone through the entire experience and enjoy drinking tea even more.  I somehow have never preferred adding ready mix masala while making chai. I have always preferred adding cardamom or cinnamon while the chai is brewing.

Masala chai being prepared at a dhaba in Jaipur

Something to munch with chai

While drinking tea is a wonderful experience by itself, chai goes well with certain snacks. I have been very selective with what I have with chai. It has to be a samosa or homemade chivda  or cream cracker biscuits. I cannot think of anything else with chai.  Here I am talking about the afternoon or evening tea. It has been several years since I have stopped drinking tea in the mornings. It would be coffee in the mornings and may be till after lunch. Cookies go well with coffee but not at all with tea.

Related Blog Posts

At the Dhaba

 

 

Write with a fountain pen

Fountain Pen Day

Fountain Pen Day is celebrated by enthusiasts worldwide as a time to embrace, promote, and share the use of fountain pens. This day is celebrated on the first Friday in November each year.

My workhorses – Lamy fountain pens

History of fountain pens

According to Qadi al-Nu’man al-Tamimi (d. 974) in his Kitab al-Majalis wa ‘l-musayarat, the Fatimid caliph Al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah in Arab Egypt demanded a pen that would not stain his hands or clothes, and was provided with a pen that held ink in a reservoir, allowing it to be held upside-down without leaking.

There is compelling evidence that a working fountain pen or a nib pen was constructed and used during the Renaissance by artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo’s journals contain drawings with cross-sections of what appears to be a reservoir pen that works by both gravity and capillary action. Historians also took note of the fact that the handwriting in the inventor’s surviving journals is of a consistent contrast throughout, rather than exhibiting the characteristic fading pattern typical of a quill pen caused by expending and re-dipping. While no physical item survives, several working models were reconstructed in 2011 by artist Amerigo Bombara that have since been put on display in museums dedicated to Leonardo.(source : Wikipedia)

Some ideas for celebrating Fountain Pen Day 2019

1. Write a letter to someone with your favorite fountain pen and ink. Under your signature you can write the pen & ink you used.
2. Go through your stationery collection and use some of those you have saved for a special occasion. Surprise a friend with that vintage paper.
3. Post on your favorite forum or blog by writing it out with your fountain pen. Then take a picture of it and post it. Again, under your signature write what pen & ink you used.
4. Instead of typing Facebook status updates and tweets on Twitter, write them and upload a picture of them
5. Take one of the pens you don’t use anymore and send it off to a friend with a handwritten note. If you don’t have any pens you want to part with you can shop one of the online retailers and have it sent direct to them.
6. Turn off your computer and put down the phone and spend some time writing.
(source : fountainpenday.org)

Related blog posts :

Fountain pen with blue ink