Nov 27, 2014

Sarnath - Buddham saranam gacchami - I go to the Buddha for refuge

Sarnath is small town located in Varanasi.
So, if you are visiting Varanasi, you can also plan visiting Sarnath.
Its not exactly in city, but its almost touching city.
Sarnath is very famous among people following Buddhism,
since Gautam Budha came to this place to give his first preach and tought Dharma for first time after getting enlightenment.

Its a small deer park in sarnath, where Buddha preached 5 monks, called Isipatana.
Isipatana is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit
(Source - "http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/i_/isipatana.htm")
While staying at Isipatana, Budha taught several suttas including Dhammacakkappavattana  Sutta.

A trip to sarnath includes getting to know more about buddhism. Not to mention it is place visited by all budhists.
But, if you are not budhist, you will have interest in
- Dhamek Stupa
- Ashok Pillar
- Museum
- Budhist temples build by different countries like Japanese, Thai, Myanmar, Japenese, etc.
- Ruins of ancient Buddhist monasteries.

When you reach sarnath, you should have museum on your right and Ticket counter on your left side of road, from you will buy tickets to visit
Dhamek Stupa and also museum.
museum is on one side of road, which also has the Ashok Pillar inside.
Other side is gate to enter to visit Dhamek Stupa, around Dhamek stupa are ruins of ancient budhist monastries, and also Deer Park.
Now above was the must, and optionally other temples can be visited by walking around. All are walking distance.

Note - Please avoid going in summer and prefer visiting in between November to February.
Also don't visit on weekends or holidays.

Below are some maps that will help guide your itinerary.




In below map you can see Museum and on the opposite of road is Dhamek Stupa. There are small gates on opposite side of roads to enter museum and Anciet site. Entry to main temple is from another gate. You will have to come back on road and walk to entrance of Main temple. Around 100 meters from Main temple on the road is UP Tourism hotel called "Rahi Tourist Bungalow", a nice and affordable place to stay.









Below is the museum from outside.


Dhamek Stupa -



 Main temple of sarnath -




Trees you see below are called Ashok trees









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Nov 24, 2014

Dharamshala - an experience, a difference

Dharamshala is a hill station known for Tibetan community, Dalai lama, nice weather, waterfalls, etc.
I dont know about many but some people like me had some other expectations with dharamshala which were not true like snow, lot of waterfalls & scenery, pines, etc.
But what i experienced from Dharamshala and enjoyed was few Tibetan monasteries, Hindu temples, hills & trees, and hill market.

Some things I want to make more clear:

Weather: Its not so cold. I went in month of September & days are hot. May be November to February is cold. Its rains a lot in Dharamshala but it doesn't snow. Unless at mountain peaks.
.
Sceneray: Place is full of mountains & trees. Not much waterfalls and neither rivers. Pines are in small area only around Dal lake. Roads are  not good.

Mcleod Ganj is in upper dharamshala. Its major attraction in Dharamshala and coldest. Its hill station with lot of Tibetan community and a Tibetan monastery, and also home of Dalai lama. Place is full of eating joints, restaurants, and hotels. You can't see Dalai lama.Possibly you can stay in some hotel in Mcleod Ganj and visit other attractions by hiring taxi. I would also inform  you that Dalai lama is shifting base from Mcleod Ganj to some place in Karnataka and so charm of place might be gone.
Mcleod Ganj is in upper Dharamshala. Lower Dharamshala is hotter and less attractive.

Rivers were mostly dry and snow only at mountain peaks. Also hail in rains.

Dharamshala is in state Himanchal Pradesh of India. Also note i heard most of the Tibetan community including Dalai Lama is shifting to Karnataka state which is in south India.



Attractions:

1. Mcleod Ganj - A hill station with Tibetan monastery(Tsuglagkhang Complex): home of Dalai lama. The monastery in itself is not so good and looks like a house. 0.5 km before reaching monastry, taxis are stopped and you will walk through a market full of shops, restaurants, and hotels. But complex is highly secured and has a museum. But forget museum, the unique part is when you go there in afternoon and see huge number of monks and possibly debating. You can do Kora(walk in circle around the holy site) also. And rare of rarest catch Dalai lama in public teaching for which you will have to pre-register(http://www.dalailama.com/).
(Source: http://www.mcleodganj.com/)

Also close to Mcleod Ganj is Dal lake (not to confused with famous Dal lake in Kashmir). Somewhere between Dharamshala main market and Mcleod Ganj is this small lake. Lake is surrounded from one side with pine trees.And temple on other side which makes is it overall a stop over. If you driving to Mcleod Ganj from Dharamshala market or other way, its stop over. I believe, they are trying to beautify lake and will be better in 2015.


2. Norbulingka - Norbulingka(http://www.norbulingka.org/) is a Tibetan monastery and institute, where you can visit temple, museum, shop, and learn. You can join training over arts like wood crafting, wood painting and get certificate also. It also has a nice cafe for eating. Overall its a must visit and you will learn  about Tibetan culture and arts. Very close (approx. 4-5 kms) is also beautiful Gyuto Tantric Monastery (http://www.gyuto.org/).


3. Dharamshala Stadium - HPCA Stadium is cricket stadium. Between mountains, it is one of the most beautiful stadiums located at a very high altitude. Even if there is no cricket match scheduled, but a visit is must. Stadium also have a hotel and restaurants, which can be visited. Indeed, the view of stadium is best from the restaurant inside which is on probably 3rd floor. Lift is accessible from the main entrance of stadium.




Number of Days - Not sure about this, but I will suggest minimum 3 days -
1 day - Mcleod Ganj + including Dal lake
1 day - Norbulingka Monastery + Gyuto Monastery + optionally Aghanjar Mahadev temple (Hindu)
1 day - Stadium

Where to Stay - 
plenty of hotels, but I can suggest you should once - http://www.norbulingkahotels.com/ and check if you can stay in Norbulingka hotels for unique experience.

More - 
You might be interested in more attractions of Dharamshala and nearby areas, especially if you are Hindu. There are lot of temples in and around Dharamshala. Temples especially of Devi's and Mahadev.
Chamunda Devi temple in dharamshala -

I didnt visited much, but Aghanjar Mahadev temple was really nice and picture-some. Small temple between mountain peaks and a waterfall around. And its in lower dharamshala near Norbulingka 

 There are other mahadev temples but i believe 50 km drive from dharamshala.





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Nov 1, 2014

Samsung GALAXY Note4 - Best phone made till date

Looking appealing and attractive phones around, especially phone is necessity currently; we all face this situation on deciding which smart phone to buy. I consider Galaxy 4 to be best smart phone around based on three primary reason -

1. Specification - 3 GB RAM, 2.7 GHz processor, 16M back & 3.7MP front camera, etc.
2 GB RAM was not enough which came in some high end phones like Sony Z1 and Note2.
Big screen with faster hardware this phone can be considered beast for playing games and running applications.

2. Features - Super Display, Advanced Camera, S pen, Multi-window, etc.
New S-pen is more sensitive.
Camera images are best.
Video capture is excellent.
Call quality is good.
Many tests show it performs better than iPhone6, LG G3, Sony Z3.

3. Phablet - Its true phablet. 5.7 inch display is one of the perfect size, be it for browsing or reading.


One thing I done like about it is back side with popping camera.

No doubt budget being the  primary factor and all phones serving the basic needs, the cheap phones are now dominating market. I have different view on this, but people will make decision based on fact that if same features are available in 100 $ why pay 300 $. But based on experience I can surely say cheap phones either don't last long or you yourself want to change it in 6 months. Considering buying 300$ phone and continuing with it for 18 months is better option than replacing 100 $ cheap phone every 6 month. So, if you can spend then buy this phone, and it will not out-date at-least for next 18 months.

Don't buy Note4 -

  • If you are more impressed with Note Edge and want to wait for Note Edge. 
  • If you already have Note3 or Note2
  • If you dont feel need of Stylus - S pen
  • If are looking for smaller screen. 
But you might want to look this -




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