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May 2013  
 
 
Special Reports

In this Issue
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 



In this issue we will focus on the fascinating city of Jaipur with its splendid heritage of forts & palaces and delectable Jaipuri Cuisine.

 

We would like to begin with a short note about hot food and spicy food. Contrary to popular belief, Indian cuisine is not meant to be hot. There are a great variety of herbs and spices used in Indian cooking. These may add flavor, aid digestion, have medicinal properties, or just bring color to the food (usually it's a combination of a few qualities).

Amber Fort– An impressive symbol of power on the Rajasthani landscapeAmber Fort – An impressive symbol of power on the Rajasthani landscape

The types and flavors of herbs and spices vary as you travel from one place to another within India. Just as anywhere else, there are people that cook and eat really spicy food; however, almost all Indian restaurants will ask for your preference while taking your order. If they forget to ask you, please do let your waiter know.

Rajasthan is the largest state in India and has a proud history. Jaipur is the state capital and is known around the world as the Pink City. This is due to the pink-colored buildings in the city center as well as the walls of the old city.

Jaipur was built by Raja Jai Singh-II in the early 18th century and hence bears his name. Since pink is the traditional color of hospitality in Rajasthan, it was used liberally across the city.

The ancient princely state of Rajasthan gave rise to a truly royal cuisine. The Kings who went on hunting expeditions relished the meat and fowl brought back from their successful hunts. Even today, Rajasthani princely feasts flaunt culinary meat preparations to satisfy the palate of the most discerning gourmand.

Being a product of a pluralistic society, Rajasthani cuisine is known for its great diversity ranging from spicy meat dishes to all vegetarian fare.

Rajputana, as the ancient Rajasthani region around Jaipur was known, had a very impressive martial culture. It was a realm of rival factions locked in near constant deadly warfare. In this land, towering forts were built not only for ostentation, but also to intimidate one’s enemy.

Also, considering India’s political landscape at the time that was replete with competing kingdoms, forts provided much needed protection from invasions.

Start your culinary trip by savoring a typically “Jaipuri Swadbhara Naashta”, which literally translates into a “traditional Jaipuri tasty breakfast”.

This delicious breakfast, is just what you would need to prepare you for your journey of exploration ahead.

The breakfast consists of a variety of crisp Kachoris (wheat preparations stuffed with onions, peas etc. and deep fried) and delicious Dahi Vadas – a preparation made with fermented rice and lentils that are deep fried and soaked in yogurt.

Savory and refreshing drink concoctions complete the repast. Suitably refreshed from breakfast, you will experience the grandeur and majesty of a bygone royal era with an exploration of the awe-inspiring Amber Fort.

Enter the fort like one of the great kings as a brilliantly caparisoned elephant carries you up to the colossal ramparts of this fort. Here you will see the 40-foot Jaiban Cannon, a gun so powerful that the mere echo of its thunder would send off enemies in disarray.

The fort is divided into four main sections each with its own gate and courtyard. The main entry is through the Suraj Pole (Sun Gate) which leads to Jaleb Chowk, which is the first main courtyard. This was the place where armies would hold victory parades with their war bounty on their return from battles.

 
Jaleb Chowk which means a place for soldiers to assemble is one of the four courtyards of the Amber Palace. The Maharaja’s personal bodyguards held parades here under the order of the army commander. The stables were also located at Jaleb Chowk.

An impressive stairway from the Jaleb Chowk leads into the main palace grounds. Here there is a small but an elegant temple called the Sila Devi Temple. The entrance to the temple is through a silver sheet-covered double leaf gate with a raised relief.

The main deity inside the sanctum is flanked by two lions made in silver. At the entrance to the temple, there is also a carving of Lord Ganesh, which is made out of a single piece of coral stone.

As you move from the impregnable Amber Fort, built by Raja Mansingh, to the superbly designed City Palace in the heart of the Pink City, it will be time for your next culinary adventure.

Sit down to a mouthwatering Jaipuri lunch, savor the many unique flavors of a Thali.

A Thali is a round platter featuring a cross-section of delicious culinary favorites for you to sample and enjoy.
Thaali –a meal fit for a king
Thaali - a meal fit for a king

Rajasthani dishes are usually prepared in pure ghee which is clarified butter. Dry fruits, spices and yogurt are also used liberally in many delicacies and lend themselves to delectable sweet and savory preparations.

A sweet dish is never referred to as dessert in Rajasthan because unlike dessert, which is eaten after the main entree, Rajasthani sweets are consumed before the meal, during the meal, and after the meal.

Also worth noting is that when it comes to indulgence in sweets, there is typically no rationing in a traditional Rajasthani meal! Gram flour is a major ingredient of most dishes and is used to make a number of delicacies. These include the ever-popular Rajasthani dish of Dal-Bati-Churma.

As the name suggests, the dish is combination of dal (lentils), bati (baked wheat balls) and churma (powdered sweetened cereal). resume your journey and arrive at the City Palace.

Exploring the City Palace is like journeying through the city’s history as you view the impressive memorabilia of costumes, armory and miniature paintings in the many museums housed in the complex.

These fine exhibits are the reflections of an era of chivalry, romance and artistic achievement inextricably interwoven into a colorful tapestry of Jaipur’s illustrious past.

From the City palace we journey back to the time of Raja Jai Singh, the astronomer king of Jaipur. The Raja built the magnificent stone observatory known around the world as Jantar Mantar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in 1728 A.D. While an instrument of precise celestial calculation, the name Jantar Mantar’s only close English parallel would be “Hocus Pocus”, a reflection of just how far ahead of its time was the Raja’s creation that its accuracy seemed almost magical to the citizenry at large.

Also visible would be the significant achievements of another royal personality, Maharaja Sawai Partap Singh who built the intriguing facade of the Hawa Mahal in 1799 A.D.

Shaped like the crown of Lord Krishna, the Hawa Mahal is a building with an innovative façade that allowed royal ladies to view the city and bazaar below from its windows without being seen.

A walk through the crowded bazaars of the Pink City will take you to your next destination, a small Rajasthani Turban museum, where you can learn how to tie a turban and/or a sari.

After this whimsical interlude, you will return to your hotel to relax. For your dinner this evening, we recommend you enjoy a traditional Japuri meal of Lal Maans or Murg ki Kadi complemented with local breads.

   
    Chef of the Month
 
Chef Sumit
 

Sumit Sinha, the chef par excellence from Taj Jai Mahal Palace, displayed creative culinary tendencies even as a child. A scholarship holder from the Ministry of Tourism and a graduate of the prestigious Institute of Hotel Management, Bangalore, Sumit is an innovative chef. An expert in the diverse cuisine of India, he has also trained under the internationally acclaimed chef, Paul Boucaise and combines meticulous attention to detail with an unbridled passion for cooking. As Executive Chef of Jai Mahal Palace, he fulfills his responsibility by preparing mouthwatering cuisine for guests in the spirit of traditional Rajasthani hospitality. Given below are three of his delicious preparations of Rajasthani dishes from Jaipur.


Lal Maans
(Spicy Lamb).


 

Utensils:
1 Wok
1 Mixing bowl
1 Serving dish

Ingredients:
Lamb - 28 oz. (700 grams) - cut into 1 ½” pieces
Lamb stock - 3 cups
Oil - 6 oz. (150 grams)
Garlic paste - 2.4 oz. (60 grams)
Green cardamoms - 5
Brown cardamoms - 5
White onion - 1 - minced

Yogurt Mixture:
Whole red chilies - 30 (ground into a paste)
Yogurt - 9 oz. (225 grams)
Cumin seeds - 0.12 oz. (3 grams)
Turmeric - 0.2 oz. (5 grams)
Coriander powder (3 grams)
Salt - to taste

Preparation:

1. Mix the yogurt with the red chili paste, roasted cumin seeds, coriander powder, turmeric and salt. Set this mixture aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok and sauté the onions until golden brown.

 

Lal Maans


3. Add the garlic paste and cook for 1 minute then add both the green and brown cardamoms.

4. Now add the mutton pieces, brown well for 4-5 minutes and add the yogurt mixture. Brown until all the liquid has evaporated.

5. Add the lamb stock and bring to a boil, cover and simmer until meat is tender.

6.
Transfer to a serving dish and serve with plain, boiled rice.

 
     
   
 
 
         
 

Dahi Keema Samosa
(A delicious savory snack with yogurt flavored mincemeat stuffing).


 

Samosa

Utensils:
1 Wok
1 Mixing bowl
1 Serving plate
1 Small bowl for the dip

Ingredients

The filling (Keema):
Mincemeat -16 oz. (400 grams)
Yogurt -1 ½ tbsps.
Dry fruits - 0.8 oz. (20 grams) - chopped
Ginger - 0.2 oz. (5 grams) - finely chopped
Oil - 3 tbsps.
Garam masala powder - 1 tbsp.
Coriander powder - 1 tsp. - heaped
Onions - 2 oz. (50 grams)
Ginger garlic paste - 0.4 oz. (10 grams)
Red chili powder - 0.2 oz. (5 grams)
Turmeric powder - 0.2 oz. (5 grams)
Salt - to taste
Garam masala (whole) - 0.2 oz. (5 grams)

The Samosa:
Refined flour – 10 oz. (250 grams)
Ajwain (carom seeds) – 1 tsp.
Oil – 8 tbsps.
Salt – ½ tsp.

The Dip:
Yoghurt – 3 tbsps.
Salt – to taste
Castor sugar – 1/2 tsp.
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp.

 



Preparation:

1. Place the yogurt into a muslin cloth and hang to drain for 30 minutes. Remove drained yogurt from muslin cloth and place in mixing bowl.

2. Mix in the mincemeat, red chili powder, salt, turmeric, coriander and garam masala powder. Set aside for 1 hour.

3. Heat oil in a wok, add the whole garam masala and stir for about a minute.

4. Add the sliced onions and sauté until golden brown.

5. Stir in the ginger garlic paste.

6. Add the marinated mincemeat to the oil and brown well over medium-high heat. Ensure the mince mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

7. Add the finely chopped ginger and dry fruits to the mince mixture and mix well. Take the pan off the heat and set aside.

8. Add salt, carom seeds and just enough oil to the refined flour to make stiff dough.

9. Make equal sized round balls of the dough and roll into thin sheets. Cut the sheets into halves.

10. Place an adequate portion of the keema mixture on each sheet and shape into a crescent.

11. Heat the oil in a wok. When it is very hot, but not smoking, fry the samosas until golden brown.

12. Remove the samosas from the hot oil and drain on paper towels.

13. Serve hot with the yogurt dip.

 
  Murg ki Kadi
(An unusual chicken preparation from the desert with yogurt and spices).
 
 

Utensils:
1 Wok
1 Iron griddle
1 Small bowl
1 Mixing bowl
1 Serving dish

Ingredients:
Boneless chicken - 32 oz. (900 grams) - cut into 1” cubes
Asafetida - a pinch
Green chilies - 0.4 oz. (10 grams)
Cumin seeds - 0.2 oz. (5 grams)
Onion paste - 4 oz. (100 grams)
Coriander - 1 oz. (25 grams)
Garlic paste - 2 oz. (50 grams)
Oil - 6 oz. (150 grams)
Red onion - 1 - Minced

The Yogurt Mixture:
Gram flour – 2 oz. (50 grams)
Yogurt – 16 oz. (400 grams)
Turmeric – 0.2 oz. (5 grams)
Red chili powder – 0.2 oz. (5 grams)
Salt – to taste


Preparation:

1. Roast half the cumin seeds on a hot iron griddle, cool and grind them into a powder.

2. Whisk the yogurt in a bowl; mix in gram flour, red chilies, turmeric and salt. Add 3 1/3 cups of water and whisk again. Set this mixture aside.

3. In a wok heat 2 oz. of oil and cook the onions until they become translucent. Remove wok from the heat and transfer the onions into a small bowl. Wash, clean and dry the wok for further use.


 

Murgi Ki Kadi


4. Heat oil in a wok and add cumin seeds and asafetida. Sauté over medium heat until the seeds begin to crackle.

5. Add the chicken pieces and salt and cook until evenly browned on all sides. Add the onions and garlic paste and brown for 5 more minutes.

6. Add 2 and a half cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until the chicken is almost tender.

7. Add the yogurt mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the gravy starts to thicken (about 8-10 minutes).

8. Add cumin powder and green chilies. Stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning.

9. Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot with plain boiled rice.

     
 
  Resort of the Month
   Raj Palace
 

One of the most luxurious heritage establishments in Jaipur, the Raj Palace Hotel, is a boutique hotel with three dozen tastefully decorated rooms and suites.

The Raj Palace was built in 1728 A.D. by the Prime Minister of the Raj (Royal family of Jaipur), Thakur Mohan Singhji, and has remained his descendants’ residence.

Located amidst sprawling verdant gardens, the palace is a fascinating design that has been beautified over the ages by the major artistic skills of its master craftsmen.

The palace is decorated with frescoes, stone carvings, artistic mirrors and hand-painted works of art which further highlight the appeal of this boutique hotel.

Extensive renovations done recently have further transformed this already charming heritage retreat into a great combination of opulent luxury and modern technology.

Formerly a Heritage Hotel, the Raj Palace has now been upgraded to a status of a Grand Heritage Hotel. It offers a very high level of service and is located conveniently in the heart of the Pink City of Jaipur.

No expense was spared in the renovation and international design houses were actively involved in the process. As an example, there are bathroom fixtures that were provided by Ferrari.

Its recent renovation has made it completely wheelchair accessible and 10 of its rooms are equipped with specially designed bathrooms for guests using wheelchairs.

The Raj Mahal room categories continue to follow a royal thematic pattern and include newly renovated suites in its classic room categories including the Prestige Suite, Durbar Suite, Raj Mahal Suite, Swarna Mahal Suite, Khaas Mahal Suite, Historical Suites, Superior Royal Rooms and Royal Rooms.


 

Murgi Ki Kadi
The Raj Palace - Opulent luxury coupled with traditional Rajasthani hospitality

Luxury amenities such as hypoallergenic pillows, DVD players, and flat screen televisions further enhance the already high level of exclusive comfort.

The comprehensive upgrades done to the property go beyond the rooms. These include the menu revision at ‘The Shikarbadi’ (the Royal Bar), which features some of the finest wines from 14 countries.

Likewise the hotel’s famous coffee shop, known to cater adroitly to the diverse tastes of its cosmopolitan clientele has been redesigned as a luxury coffee lounge.

Similarly public areas have been attractively enhanced by 50,000 sq. ft. of added space to give a more open feel to the hotel.

Lastly the hotel’s famous Maharani Bagh (garden) has been beautifully landscaped to give the property an augmented feel of matchless luxury coupled with traditional Rajasthani hospitality.

 
 
 News Update
 
 From the Head Office in Delhi

‘Dildaar Dilli’ to be the capital’s tourism tagline
Starting April 2013, the national capital of India has a new tourism tagline - Dildaar Dilli (Magnanimous Delhi).

Dildaar Dilli – Highlighting India’s capital to the world!

The new tagline came about as a result of a competition that was held to give Delhi a new tagline to promote tourism. Over 12,000 entries were received in the competition and the winner was selected by a high level committee appointed jointly by the Delhi Government as well as Delhi Tourism. The announcement of the new tagline was made by Ms. Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister (CM) of Delhi at a ceremony organized recently to mark the occasion.

Being the seat of Government for many centuries, Delhi has seen India transcend through many different eras, from the Mughal and the British to being the heart of the world’s largest democracy.

Dikshit said the city, loved by many since ages, had always accepted everyone as its own and that is Delhi’s signature quality. Speaking at the occasion, the CM said, “Delhi accepts everyone into its fold, every new arrival is family. This is the city’s greatness and its biggest identity”. The committee to finalize the tagline went through the thousands of entries for months to select the winner. Other names up for consideration in the finalist list were ‘Dilkash’ (Endearing), ‘Dilwaali’ (Heartwarming), ‘Damdaar’ (Powerful) and ‘Shandaar’ (Glorious) Dilli.

“We chose ‘Dildaar Dilli’ as our new identity though we liked others too but ‘Dildaar’ was a common element among most entries. I think the competition has shown the intense love that people have for the city of Delhi and with the coining of this phrase, these feelings have now been translated into words” CM Dikshit elucidated.

The winner of the competition was Delhi resident, Mr. Amit Anand, who walked away with INR 50,000 as the first prize. Other consolation prizes were also handed over to participants who were selected as the finalists in the competition.

The idea behind having a tagline is to promote Delhi as a tourism-friendly destination and as a gateway to India. It is part of an aggressive marketing plan to promote city in major global tourism markets. The tagline aims to sum up the essence of Delhi as well as its history, culture, modernity and diversity.

With the launch of the new tagline, Delhi has joined the ranks of other states that have their own tourism promotional tag-lines.

These include: Kerala (God’s own Country), Goa (Go Goa), Punjab (India Begins Here), Meghalaya (Halfway to Heaven), Odisha (The Soul of India), Karnataka (One State Many Worlds), Gujarat (Vibrant Gujarat), Himachal Pradesh (Unforgettable Himachal), Chhatishgarh (Full of Surprises), Rajasthan (Incredible State of India), Uttar Pradesh (Amazing Heritage, Grand Experience) and Madhya Pradesh (The Heart of Incredible India).


*Elements of the above excerpted with gratitude from “‘Dildaar Dilli’ to be Capital’s tagline to attract tourists” – published first in The HinduBusinessline.com on April 18, 2013.

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 From the Agra Office
  Parchin Kari – Agra’s labor of love

Agra is considered the heartland of North India’s tourist circuit. The city is home to a set of matchless monuments including the Taj Mahal. Any visit to Agra is incomplete without a signature souvenir from the city which most experienced travelers agree would be a piece of art of Pietra Dura on white marble.

To say Agra specializes in marble works and the Pietra Dura decorative art form would be an understatement. The city is replete with master craftsmen who create a plethora of beautiful objects from the art form, ranging from table-tops, medallions, jewelry boxes, elephant statuettes as well as furniture.

Parchin Kari – An art form that is aesthetically pleasing and eternally enduring

Known locally as Parchin Kari, which literally translates to “inlay” or “driven in work”, Pietra Dura involves cutting up of stones or gems into different shapes and then assembling them together on a marble base (usually white or black marble for maximum visual effect) with a substrate. The final work, if done masterfully, can be extremely pleasing and the various pieces fuse together seamlessly to create a variety of shapes or visuals such as portraits, miniatures, design motifs and kaleidoscopes.

While Pietra Dura was invented in Ancient Rome, it became a mainstream art form in the early 16th century when it was patronized by the Catholic Church for “eternal portraits” due to the longevity of the medium. The art form was then brought to the court of the Mughals in the early part of the 17th century by European travelers where it reached a new pinnacle of glory.

The Mughal were immediately endeared to the Pietra Dura art form and under their patronage it grew to become Parchin Kari, a completely localized art form. Parchin Kari drew inspiration from the original European technique however created its own design output suited to local aesthetics of the sub-continent.

Under Mughal patronage, the Parchin Kari art form grew immensely. The art form was widely used in most of Agra’s monuments including Itimad-ud-Daulah’s tomb which is often called the “jewellery box” as well as the “Baby Taj”.

The usage of Parchin Kari reached a new zenith in the construction of the Taj Mahal where the art form was used to create various Arabesque, Islamic, Persian and symmetrical design motifs.

Parchin Kari as an art form continues to thrive in modern day Agra. The descendants of the artisans who created the city’s massive monuments continue their work creating marvelous pieces of art that captivate the imagination of visitors and residents to this day.


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 From the Jaipur Office
Rajasthan to promote tourism around its salt lake Sambhar

As part of a new initiative to attract more tourists to India’s largest state, the Rajasthan state government is planning to develop a number of sites and new tourist attractions. This includes the famous Sambhar Lake in the southern part of the state.

The announcement was made on the sidelines of the Great Indian Travel Bazaar (GITB), the flagship travel industry exposition being organized here jointly by the Ministry of Tourism, Department of Tourism (Rajasthan) and Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).


The Wonders of Sambhar Lake – definitely worth its salt.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Rakesh Srivastava, Rajasthan Principal Secretary (Tourism) said, “The Sambhar Lake is the largest inland salt lake in the country. The state government is taking steps to restore basic tourist infrastructure to promote it as a unique destination”.

Mr. Srivastava said that in the short run the state government would focus on the restoration of British-era infrastructure including heritage buildings, the Salt Museum, Circuit House and rail tracks. Over the course of the next few years, other public sector corporations such as Hindustan Salts and India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) will create further tourism infrastructure opportunities and ensure their promotion to key tourist audience segments.

He emphasized that the state government is also mulling over the creation of new tourist circuits such as Jaipur-Sambhar-Ajmer that would increase the flow of tourists to the state as well as to its mega hubs such as Jaipur.

Addressing the press corps at the GITB, Ms. Bina Kak, Rajasthan Tourism Minister, highlighted the other areas for expansion in tourism that are being considered by the government. She explained, “We have plans to change the face of tourism in Rajasthan which is known primarily as a cultural destination. This would be done by developing other tourist attractions such as adventure, ecological, archaeological, sports, rural and tribal tours in the state. The State Government is working on ways to promote and implement these new segments in the state’s tourism sector”.

*Elements of the above excerpted with gratitude from “Rajasthan to promote tourism around its salt lake Sambhar” – published first in the HinduBusinessline on April 15, 2013.

 
 
 
 From the Ranthambore Office
Rajasthan gets third tiger reserve

Some great news for fans of tiger conservation, the Rajasthan government has annnounced that the Mukundra Hills Sanctuary will now be the third tiger reserve in the state. Rajasthan has been at the forefront of the global tiger conservation effort with successful tiger reserves already established at Ranthambore and Sariska.


The King of the Hill - Mukhundra gets ready to welcome these majestic cats.

The new reserve area at Mukundra Hills will be over 759 sq km spread between four districts of Kota, Bundi, Chittorgarh and Jhalawar near the Ranthambore tiger reserve. Nearly 417 sq km have been earmarked as the core tiger habitat while 342.82 sq km has been notified as the buffer zone. The other two tiger reserves of Ranthambore and Sariska both have core areas nearly thrice this size thereby making Mukundra Hills the smallest of the three tiger reserves in the state.

Briefing the press corps on the launch of the state’s third tiger reserve, Mr. A.S. Brar, Head of Forest Forces and Chief Wildlife Warden, Rajasthan said, "With powers bestowed under Section 38 V of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, we have declared Mukundra hills national park as a tiger reserve”.

The core area of the Mukundra reserve currently has six villages, two of which are uninhabited. Eventually all these villages will be relocated through a conservation program that is funded by the NTCA. Apart from the tigers, the sanctuary currently also has a sizeable population of wolves, sloth bears, chinkaras and leopards.

Elucidating that the declaration of the Mukundra Hill Sanctuary as a reserve will have far reaching implications for tiger conservation, Mr. Brar added, “the Mukundra hill sanctuary was already declared as the satellite core area of the Ranthambore reserve by the NTCA and tigers often stray into the area. The objective was always to link this to Ranthambore so that the tigers that stray from the park come and breed here. It was the next best forest after Ranthambore for rehabilitation of tigers. But we have went a step ahead and declared it as a reserve itself”.

*Elements of the above excerpted with gratitude from “Rajasthan gets third tiger reserve” first published in The Times of India on April 12, 2013.

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 From the Kochi Office

Tourist facilitation centre opens its doors in Kochi

Kerala is one of the fastest growing tourism markets in Asia and is now featuring on the itineraries of a growing number of tourists from around the world. To further facilitate this growing tourist traffic, the state has launched the first-of-its-kind visitor facilitation center in Kochi.


Kerala Fishermen on a canal

The tourist facilitation center was launched with the vision of creating a one stop shop solution for all tourism related services of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation. The center commenced operations during the first week of April 2013.

The launch of the Tourism Facilitation Center has been done in line with the Kerala Tourism Policy 2012, which underscores the need to enhance the quality of the visitor’s overall experience when visiting the state.

The fully air-conditioned center has been equipped with the state of the art facilities and provides a plethora of services including foreign exchange services, in-bound tourism services, out-bound tourism services, tourism investment support services, an interpretation center plus a business lounge, discussion rooms as well as Wi-Fi facilities.

*Elements of the above excerpted with gratitude from “Tourist facilitation centre to open in Kochi” first published in the Hindu on March 27, 2013.

 
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 Festival Alerts
Rath Yatra (Carriage Festival) – Puri

Rath Yatra is a major Hindu festival in reverence of Lord Jagannath, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna.


The Jagganath Rath Yatra – Pulling the weight of history and devotion.

It is held at Puri in the eastern Indian state of Orissa (Odisha). The Rath Yatra is observed during the months of June or July and hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees travel to Puri from all over the world to participate in the proceedings. The word Rath means chariot; and Yatra means a journey or a pilgrimage.

Puri is well geared to handle the rush of pilgrims to the festival of Lord Jaggannath and the ancient temple honoring him is the most important structure in the city. The festival commemorates Lord Krishna's return to his native home in Vrindavan after a long period of separation from the people there.

The three main deities at the temple – Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra are worshipped within the temple all year round and only Hindus of Indian origin are permitted to enter. On the day of the Rath Yatra festival, however all three deities are taken through the streets in a procession where they can be viewed by everyone including tourists.

Three massive and richly decorated chariots, each measuring fifty feet and resembling temple structures, are pulled through the streets of Puri during the procession. This commemorates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram, and their sister, the Goddess Subhadra to the Gundicha Temple which is situated about a mile from their temple. New chariots are built to transport the three deities on their annual journey before each Rath Yatra festival.

The spectacle of thousands of Hindu devotees pulling the ropes of these colorful chariots along with the accompanying chanting and music is a sight to behold. It is said that the English word “juggernaut" finds its origins from this procession of the Jagannath Rath Yatra.

The huge processions accompanying the chariots play devotional songs with drums, tambourines, trumpets and other musical instruments. Children line the streets through which the chariot pass and add to the deafening chorus of devotees.

 

 

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