FREEDOM AND PEACE.

Freedom and peace are interrelated and every one including all creatures wish to have absolute peace as well as freedom. Is it possible to have absolute freedom and peace in this world? This seems to be just an illusion and a mirage and the humans since inception have been trying very hard to achieve this but have miserably failed in their mission. For attaining peace we have been fighting wars and have left no stone unturned to wipe out the entire creation from the globe. This certainly is not the right solution. The great wars of Ramayana and Mahabarta followed by thousands of wars all along the dynasties have failed to provide lasting peace and freedom to the different nations.

Peace is a bliss, it is to be felt internally by stabilizing and calming the waves of our mind. We, instead try to find peace externally by oppressing those who don’t appreciate our point of view, and for that, we choose a wrong path which results in disasters, animosity, hate, and wars. Many wars happened for the search of peace. This approach is a product of a biased, and arrogant mind. Only Peace can induce peace and wars are certainly not a solution.

Similar is the case with Freedom. It too has to be experienced. It is not something tangible. We have to identify the masters who have enslaved us. Many of them are internal such as mind, senses, anger, greed, pride, attachment etc. They keep us within their control and make us dance to their tunes. They are the mother of all evils. How can we enjoy freedom under their slavery? We are bound to our religion and there is nothing bad in it. No religion advocates hate, all preach universal brotherhood, love, and trust in one God. But is this actually happening on the ground? We become biased and lose objectivity resulting in losing whatever little freedom we have. We don’t stop at religion, we have divided ourselves further into castes, subcastes, creeds, and colors. Belonging to the same country we are divided into different regions, states, cities, areas, and even to streets. Under such a mental setup how can one remain unbiased and hence feel free?

Freedom of any type always has some limitations. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to hurt anyone’s sentiments by your words. You can’t move freely across the national boundaries unless you have proper permissions. You have to act within the limits permissible under the law of the land. For building a simple house on your own land with your own money, you need a lot of permissions from the concerned agencies. You are made to pay taxes against your will and you don’t get a job of your choice despite required qualification. Doesn’t this look ridiculous if we hope to enjoy full freedom? Sometimes we feel that the birds and animals are far better than us as they enjoy full freedom and peace. Yes, they do because they don’t have much of the bondings such as greed, lust, hate, prejudice, bias, attachment, pride and they have not divided themselves into different religions, and castes. They have not divided the earth into different countries or regions and have not drawn any boundaries. They have full faith in the Almighty and live to His will as against humans who have no control over their wishes and are always begging for more and more. HOW CAN A BEGGAR EXPERIENCE FREEDOM AND PEACE? And above all, We the humans being the descendants of THE ADAM AND THE EVE who disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit have to pay for their as well as of our own sins.

All this doesn’t mean that peace and freedom are not possible. These can be easily achieved by learning something from the birds and animals. We need to shun violence, hate, greed, bias, and all other negative attributes and respect and love all humans because we are the children of same universal Father. We need to bring an element of objectivity in our thinking process as well as enhancing the area of our compassion beyond our family to neighbors, streets, cities, states, countries, castes, religions and to the whole human race and extend it further to include animals and birds and trees. The more we enlarge our contours of compassion, more peace and freedom will surround us. We have to empower our soul which is a particle of God in us and control our mind i:e the negative power within us. Whenever we are about to make a mistake, the positive power in us i:e the soul definitely stops us, though feebly, but we ignore the command under the influence of our mind and its tricks and get involved into a conflict. The soul will always direct you to love and peace whereas the mind entangles us in the negativities. Tolerance and submission are the roads to peace and real freedom.

The greatest advocate and worshiper of peace, tolerance, and non-violence of the modern times -Mahatma Gandhi has said that in case someone slaps you on one cheek, please don’t react but instead, offer the other cheek to him. By this, he didn’t mean that you should unnecessarily keep on getting slaps on your cheeks from every tom and harry. He wanted to convey that we should not be intolerant and react to all actions. No one will unnecessarily hurt you without a reason, and when you react then he will respond and an unending chain reaction will set into motion. The only way to avoid this is to not to react. We generally don’t value our own virtues and our actions are mostly a result of our reactions towards other’s actions. Then, where are the peace and freedom? A very revered Muslim saint Sheikh Fareed has in one of his Kalaam said,” Jo te maaray mukian, tina na mareen Kum, aap nerhay kar ja ke paer una de chum”. Which means that in case someone beats you by fists, don’t react and respond by hitting him back with heavy blows but instead go near him and kiss his feet. This will bring peace and end the conflict.

Fights, wars, and oppression are not the solutions. We need to empower our soul and control the mind to achieve peace, tranquility and real freedom. Tolerance, compassion, love and objective thinking are the tools required at the micro level to attain peace and experience complete freedom in the real sense at the macro level.

JAMMU AND KASHMIR. A HEAVEN ON EARTH. PART 3

The largest part of Jammu and Kashmir state is Ladakh region situated deep within the mighty Himalayan mountains. A sparsely populated region having only two districts Leh and Kargil having a combined population of about two lakhs comprising mainly of Buddhists, Muslims, and few Christians.

Ladakh is a cold desert with naked mountains all around and all along. A pollution free region deficient in oxygen and vegetation has very vast plain areas within high mountains dotted with green patches here and there on the areas which receive water from the melting glaciers in summers. Because of the absence of pollution, the view of distant mountain ranges is clearly visible and a camera can catch the beautiful pictures of the area with an amazing clarity.

Ladakh has a mixture of Tibetan and Indian culture. People of all faiths are highly religious, tolerant, very simple and gentle. Each village, town, and the city is having Monasteries, Mosques, Churches, and Gurudwaras. People of Ladakh love and respect their culture and have maintained their values till date inspite of the spicy tampering of modernization. Ladakh is full of beauty, festivity, and a colorful environment which is available nowhere in the world except this wonderland.

Places in and around Leh

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Leh Palace situated on a hill overlooking Leh town was built by the king of Leh in the 17th century. From this nine-story high building, you can have an amazing panoramic view of the entire Leh town. The night view of the palace is very charming.

General Zorawar Fort within Leh city was built by Dogra General Zorawar Singh and was the base of Dogra rulers. A mosque and a Hindu temple exist in this fort which is a symbol of Hindu Muslim brotherhood.

Shanti_Stupa

Shanti Stupa built on a hillock in Changspa area of Leh by the Japanese Buddhist appears like a pearl on the barren hill. The view is magnificent especially after the sunset when it glows in the dark with special lights all around it and appears as if the moon has landed on the hill.

You can also see The highest polo ground in the world situated within the city itself. Local Polo teams play matches in this ground and even all public functions are also held here.

Leh airport is a unique airport which is not plane but a sliding one. Landing and take off is possible only from a particular side only; landing from the downside and take off from the higher side of the runway.

Pathar Sahib

Gurudwara Pather Sahib situated some 25 km from Leh on Srinagar Kargil Leh highway was built in 1517 AD in commemoration of the visit of Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj. It is said that earlier it was called Nanak Gompa in the memory of Nanak Lama. A saint or Faqir in the local language is called a Lama. It is said that when Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited this place it was haunted by a big demon who used to torture local people. The people requested Guru Nanak to help them. One day when Guru Nanak was sitting for his meditation the demon saw him and to finish Guru Nanak, he rolled down a huge stone rock from the top of an adjacent hill. The rock came rolling down the hill with great force but stopped the moment it touched Guru Nanak Dev Ji sitting in meditation. The demon was surprised, he came down and tried to press the rock against Guru Nanak with his foot. He was further surprised to find that the rock had melted and his foot was stuck in the melted rock. He begged pardon from Guru Nanak and promised not to harm anyone thereafter. The rock still has an imprint of Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj on it. This Gurudwara is now maintained by Indian Army. Langer Parshad is served to all who visit the Gurudwara.

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Magnetic Hill is believed to have magnetic properties. You keep your vehicle with the engine turned off without brakes on the road, it starts moving uphill slowly. It is believed that the hill nearby having magnetic field attracts the vehicles and they start moving.

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Indus and Zanskar river Confluence between Pather Sahib Gurudwara and village Nimmo can be seen from the national highway itself. One with crystal clear blue waters and the other with brown muddy waters merge together to be one at this place. The site is really worth seeing.

Stok Palace and Stok monastery are in Stok village across Indus river opposit Leh. The King of Leh shifted to this palace after he left Leh palace.

Hall of fame near Leh airport portrays war heroes of Indo Pak and Indo China wars as well as those who laid down their lives in Saichin and Kargil Wars.

Ladakh is filled with Buddhist monasteries which are centers of cultural, spiritual, and traditional values. These heritage places have existed for centuries and are well maintained by local priests called Lamas. These beautiful places have grand idols of Buddha and his incarnations. The grand Tanka paintings on the walls of these monasteries with shining and bright colors are a masterpiece work of local art.

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The main monasteries are, Hemis Monastery is also known as Hemis Gumpa, Thiksey monastery on the hillock at Thiksey village, Likir monastery, Spituk monastery, Stakna monastery, Dikshit monastery, Alchi monastery, Phayang monastery, Takthok monastery, Sumda Chun monastery, and Lamayuru monastery in addition to other numberless monasteries spread all over this heaven.

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Pangong Lake

Two world famous lakes in the Himalayan region exist in Ladakh; Tsomoriri lake and Pan gong lake which is about 80 km in length with blue waters, half is in India and half in China. To reach Pan-gong lake one has to cross Chang-la pass which is second highest motor-able road in the world; the first being too in Ladakh known as Khardungla pass at a height of 17582 feet from the sea level.

Sand Dunes Nubra Valley

White sand dunes at village Hunder in Nubra valley are a wonder on such heights in this Heaven. Double hump camels exist only in this valley in the country. A ride on the double hump camel is an experience worth enjoying and remembering for life.

Moon land on the Lamayuru hills on Kargil Leh national highway is a wonder on earth. These moon lands are situated on the mountains at Lamayuru village which resemble moon’s surface.

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The original Aryan race existed on the banks of Indus river known as Indus valley civilization. This race is believed to still exist in two distinct villages Dah and Hanu in Leh. They have maintained their distinct culture, character, and traditions. They don’t mix with other cultures of Ladakh and have a separate distinct identity. Their appearance is different from the Buddhist/Mongolian race. They have long face and long nose and they support a unique cap fitted with flowers.

During the summers there are very nice local vegetables available in Ladakh such as Turnip, local Reddish, Cauliflower, Peas, Knoll, Broccoli, and Spinach. Generally, ladies sell these fresh vegetables in the market on the footpaths. Turnip and peas of Ladakh are very famous.

The hot springs in this sub-zero zone at Chumathang village in Leh district is a wonder in the area.

Ladakh is also famous for the best Apricots which grow in plenty in the entire region. Leh barries is another wild fruit known for its rich contents of vitamin C.

Chiru

Ladakh is known the world over for the production of famous Pashmina, as well as ShahToosh. Shahtoosh is obtained from a Tibetan Antelope(Chiru), which is now banned because of the danger of extinction of this Antelope. These Shahtoosh shawls made by master craftsmen are priced between Rs 3 to 4 lakhs per piece.

Watching the Sky at night during a full moon night as well as dark moonless night is worth experiencing. During a moonless night, you can see the brightly shining stars, bigger in size than usual in the plains. The milky way which has disappeared from the scene due to a lot of pollution and smoke in the plains is very clearly visible from Leh area. Nights are colder, silent, and free from any disturbances. With sufficient warm clothes or sleeping bag, you lay during a night on the ground in a vast field away from the village or a town and experience the pleasure and tranquillity of silence. Only you and The God and no one else in this world to disturb you. You cant have such an opportunity to really enjoy nature like this anywhere except in Ladakh. During a moonlit night, you feel as if you are really in the heavens. The size of the full moon is much bigger at this altitude and it shines more brightly. You can read a book in the moonlight. The mountains changing colors with the change in the position of the sun during day and moon during the night present a unique beauty of these barren heights.

A tour of  Ladakh is not complete without a visit to Suru and Zanskar valleys which provide an opportunity to experience adventure tourism and white water rafting in addition to giving a very exhilarating feeling and experience worth enjoying.

A land of Lamas, Spirituality and peace is a real heaven on earth.

JAMMU AND KASHMIR- A HEAVEN ON EARTH. Part 2

Jammu and Kashmir as a State comprise of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh regions. In part one of the blog, a humble effort was made to describe the incredible beauty of the culture, people, and places of Kashmir region. In this blog, an effort is being made to showcase Jammu region of this beautiful state which is also known as a jewel in the crown of India. Jammu is also the winter capital of the state. It is believed to have been founded in the 14th century BC by Raja Jambu Lochan who saw a lion and a goat drinking water side by side on the bank of River Tawi. Inspired by the coexistence and tolerance between two arch rivals; lion and Goat, standing side by side, the king decided to build a city at this place on the bank’s of river Tawi also known as Surya Putri (The daughter of Sun).

Jammu region is the land of Dogras which consist of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians. A sizable population consists of nomad Gujjars and Bakerwals who keep on migrating from place to place in search of pastures in order to feed their cattle comprising of Sheep, Goat, Buffaloes, and Horses. Dogras; the people of Jammu are very hard working, simple but very brave, and a peace-loving people. All communities have been living in peace and freely practicing their faith through the centuries. Dogras like their Kashmiri brothers are highly religious. As in Kashmir, you can see a lot of temples, mosques, gurudwaras, churches and other religious places, as well, in every part of the cities as well as in towns and villages in this region. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians join each other in their inter-community celebrations, be it Eid, Diwali, Gurpurab or Christmas. This love amongst the different communities, as well as their peaceful coexistence, is a unique attribute of this Land.

Amazing Places to visit in Jammu:-

Jammu city is divided into two parts, Old Jammu and New Jammu. Jammu is also known as the city of temples. Raghunath temple, Ranbireshwar temple, Bawe Wali Mata temple, and Peer Kho Cave temple are the main attractions in addition to the many small temples spread across the city. There are Mosques, Dargahs, Gurudwaras, and Churches all over the city. Dargah Baba Budan Shah near Jammu airport and Dargah Baba Roshan Shah Vali also known as Dargah Nau gaj (Means nine yards) as he is believed to be very long in height situated in the center of the old city are revered by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and people from all faiths alike.

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The old city has many heritage buildings such as Mubarak Mandi, Amar Mahal, and Dogra Art Museum, Bahu Fort, Raghunath temple, and Gandhi memorial Science college, formerly known as Prince of Wales college are worth seeing.

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The places of religious tourism include a pilgrimage to the Holy Cave of Mata Vaishno Ji near Katra town in the Trikuta hills, Shiv Khori temple in District Reasi of Jammu, Sudh Mahadev temple near Chenani and Kirmichi temple in Udhampur District.

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Budha Amarnath Ji temple in Mandi, and Gurudwara Nangali Sahab in the picturesque hill on the bank of Drungali Nallah in Poonch district and a beautiful Gurudwara on a hillock at Akhnoor on the banks of river Chenab add to the spiritual and serene atmosphere in the area.

Chichi Mata, Purmandal and Sidh Swankha in the district Samba. Sukrala Mata and Jasrota Mata temple and Jasrota fort in Kathua District.

Pilgrimage to Mani Mahesh, Machail Mata, Vasuki nag temple and Kailash Kund in the lush green meadows of Bhadarwah also known as Mini Kashmir. Dargah Baba Ghulam Shah Badsha in the beautiful hills of Thanna Mandi in Rajouri district.

Heritage buildings of tourist interest around the region include old temples, forts, and sarais (inns) built by the rulers of the state as well as by the Great Mughals all along the old Mughal road.

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Akhnoor-fort

The list of the old forts includes Akhnoor fort, Ramnagar Fort, Sheesh Mahal Ramnagar, Bhimgarh Fort, Poonch Fort, Basohli Fort, Dharnider Fort, and many others. The entire old Mogul road and the old route from Jammu to Katra Vaishno Devi Ji are dotted with sarais (resting places) which are now in ruins excepting few such as Chingus fort and Chingus Sarai near Rajouri on old Mughal road.

Chingus is a Persian word meaning intestines. Chingus Sarai was used by the Mughals as a transit camp during their annual journey to Kashmir. The great Mughal Emperor Jahangir died en- route from Kashmir, and the wise queen, in order to protect the dead body from decaying, got the intestines and other belly parts removed and buried at the Chingus fort. Jahangir has two graves, one at Chingus where his intestines were buried and the other in Lahore where his body was laid to rest.

Suchetgarh-Wagah

Border tourism includes a visit to historic Suchetgarh post which served as an octroi post in the pre-partition era. It is situated in R S Pura area on Jammu Sialkot road and rail link; though road link still exists but rail line has been abandoned after the partition of the country in 1947. Sialkot in Pakistan is only 11 Km from this post. Like Wagah post in Punjab, the road to Pakistan is blocked by the gates both by India and Pakistan.The gates are opened for visits by the teams of UNO or for the flag meetings of sector commanders of India and Pakistan. There is a huge Peepal tree on the zero line, half of which in India and half in Pakistan. A raised platform around this tree is maintained by both the countries on their respective sides. Tourists are allowed to go up to this point on Indian side with the special arrangements with the Border Security Force officers manning this post. While way back one can visit the world famous Gharana Wetlands a home for the migratory birds. This R S Pura area is known for world famous Basmati rice with a unique aroma.

The other border point of tourist intert is Chamalyal border post in Ramgarh sector. This too is very close to the international border with Pakistan. Chamalyal is a shrine of a Hindu Sufi saint Baba Daleep Singh Manhas. The earth and water of the well at this place are called shakkar and sharbat and are known for their medicinal properties to cure all types of skin diseases. Thousands of devotees visit this place throughout the year from all over the country as well as abroad and get cured of the skin diseases.

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An annual fair is held on the last Thursday of June every year. People in large number from India as well as from Pakistan participate and share earth and water (Shakkar and Sharbat) from this place. During first few years when the annual fair started devotees from Pakistan were also allowed to cross the international border and participate in the annual fair, but the practice was abandoned after some time for security reasons and now the people from Pakistan celebrate the occasion within their territory and now only few Army officers with their team are allowed to come for paying obeisance on behalf of the devotees from Pakistan.They offer Chadder as a mark of respect on the grave of the Sufi saint on behalf of people of Pakistan. Earth and water of this shrine (Shakkar and Sharbat) are allowed to be carried as much as required across the border for distribution amongst the devotees. This Shrine is a unique symbol of Hindu Muslim brotherhood.

Other places of tourists interests include Patnitop which is located on the hilltop surrounded by the thick green cover of Cedar trees. This place is a fine health resort with the pollution free pleasant atmosphere and is visited by a good number of local as well as foreign tourists especially the pilgrims of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji.

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It is just 112 Km from Jammu and 85 Km from Katra, the base camp for Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. Kud and Batote, two beautiful towns are 5 Km each on the western and northern side of this beautiful spot on Jammu Srinagar national highway. Both these small towns too are health resorts. During winters Patnitop receives good snowfall and is visited by more tourists than summers.

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From Patnitop one can go to enjoy the beauty of the picturesque Sanasar just 7 Km down the hill and on the way can have a view of Natha Top. Chenani and Mantalai are other beautiful places worth visiting nearby Patnitop. As already said there is hardly any place in Jammu and Kashmir which is not worth seeing. The scenic beauty, green meadows, and natural landscapes in Bhadarwah and Kishtwarh area will never fade from your memory once you personally see these places. Bhadarwah is connected to Chamba in Himachal Pradesh by a 59 Km road, This tourist circuit gives an experience of life, thrill, and adventure.

basohli-painting

Basohli paintings of the 17th and 18th century are a unique style of painting fusing Hindu mythology, Mughal miniature techniques, and folk art of local hills. Basohli is a small hill town in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. It is also known for the weaving of pashmina shawls. Beautiful and greatly revered Chamunda Mata, Sheetla Mata, and Basohli temples are places worth visiting. A cold and cozy place nearby worth seeing is Banni.

Mansar Lake and Surinsar lake in District samba, Katoriasar lake in the Pirpanchal range, and Siar Baba waterfalls in Reasi district are worth visiting.

The greenery of the vast meadows along Mughal road to Kashmir with herds of sheep grazing and moving majestically at the whistles of the shepherds is an example of beautiful bondage between the humans and animals. Noori Chhamb near Chandimarh village on Mughal road is a symbol of love between Great Mughal King Jahangir and Queen Noor Jahan. Chhamb in local language means a big waterfall. During their sojourn to and from Kashmir, Noor Jahan used to enjoy a bath under this waterfall and the king used to see her image in a mirror fixed on a rock at some distance away without disturbing the queen.

It is very difficult to describe the details and beauty of all the places in this heaven on earth in a short blog. Come and see with your own eyes, as the beauty is indescribable…………..( to be continued as part 3 )

JAMMU & KASHMIR-A HEAVEN ON EARTH. Part-1

Jammu and Kashmir is a place where the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi saw a ray of hope for peace during the partition of India in the year 1947 when the entire country was on fire. A place where the founder of Jammu, Raja Jambu Lochan saw a lion and a Goat drinking water at one place on the bank of river Tawi. A real heaven on earth, is also a land of Peace, Tranquility, and Spirituality. A land of Rishies, Saints, Sufis, Peers, Faqeers, and Lamas, preaching the same eternal truth about love, Peacefull co-existence, and spirituality. A temple, a mosque, a gurudwara a church or a Gompa in every lane, mohalla or in every village is a testimony to the spiritual nature of the people of all shades as well as a testimony of the intense love and tolerance amongst various religious communities living and practicing their faith with full freedom. The ringing of the temple and church bells goes along with the Azan in the mosques and shabad kirtan in the Gurudwaras or Buddhist prayers in the gompas all along the day. No restrictions, there is full freedom for the people of every religion and which have co-existed for the centuries without any conflict.

This state is the best destination for tourism of all types, be it a pleasure tourism, religious tourism, adventure and sports tourism, cultural and heritage tourism and border tourism. One can come to enjoy and find satisfaction at any time or the season throughout the year.

In part-1 of the blog, we will cover mainly Kashmir which at present is full of greenery, flowers, and pleasant weather. There is a long list of places to be seen in Kashmir and same can be had from various sites on Google, and much has been written about their beauty by various people at various times. IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO EXPRESS BY WORDS THE ACTUAL BEAUTY OF KASHMIR. WORDS, HOWSOEVER FINE THEY MAY BE, ALWAYS FAIL TO FULLY APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY OF THE NATURE IN KASHMIR IN THE TRUE SENSE. NO CAMERA OR A MOVIE CAN CATCH THE BEAUTY OF THE COLORS OF THE NATURAL BEAUTY AS WELL AS THE FEEL OF THE PLEASANT WEATHER IN WHICH THIS BEAUTY FLOURISHES. SEEING IS BELIEVING AND NOTHING LESS THAN THAT; NO SUBSTITUTES TO PERSONALLY SEEING THE BEAUTY OF KASHMIR AND IT’S COMPOSITE CULTURE. There is hardly an inch of the place which is not worth seeing. Go anywhere in any season, you will find a difference from the rest of the world.

A visit to the world-famous Mughal gardens between mighty Himalayan cliffs on one side and glittering Dal lake on the other will never fade from your memory. You really experience a royal Mughal feeling when you are in these gardens. The singing sound of royal fountains and cascading water provides a soothing solace to your soul. A shikara ride in Dal lake through the floating market and to beauty spots like Char Chinar and Nehru park give you a feeling of heavens in the true sense. Staying in luxurious Houseboat with facilities matching a five-star culture is beyond imagination. The magnificent wood carvings on the walls and beautiful designs of Khatamband on the roofs of houseboats are a treat to eyes as this art and craft exist only in Kashmir. A long line of houseboats in Dal lake on the majestic royal boulevard road is a scene to watch both during the day as well as night.

A scenic view of the whole of Srinagar city from the hill of Shankaracharya temple as well as that of river Jehlam is worth seeing. The lush green Royal Spring Golf course having 18 holes created between the evergreen thick cover of Cedar trees is an example of creating a sports facility without disturbing the ecology and the environment. Tulip Garden, Dachigam, Chashma Shahi, Parimahal, Herbal Garden, Badaam veir, Hari Parbat and many beautifully maintained parks will add value to your life experience. If you are religious minded, you have a lot in Srinagar city itself. Jeshta Devi temple near Parimahal, Hanuman temple on the banks of Jehlam near Harisingh high street, Kheer Bhawani temple, A revered Shrine of Peer-e- Dastgeer at Khanyar Srinagar, Maqdoom Sahib, Baba Reshi, Dargah Charar-e-Sharif, Dargah Hazratbal which contains a holy relic, the Moi-Muqqadus, believed by Muslims to be a hair of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH);The list is numberless. Gurudwara Chatti Patshahi Sahib in Rainawari area in the heart of Srinagar and many churches, temples, and Sufi shrines are a symbol of mutual trust, respect, tolerance and universal brotherhood amongst the various religions, which have lived and developed peacefully in Kashmir.

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Out of the city, you have a choice to visit different world famous places like Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg, Aharbal, Doodpathri, Shikargah, Martand sun temple, Aru valley, and Betab valley near Pahalgam, Kokarnag, Achhabal, Varinag, Yousmarg etc. etc. It all depends on the time you have at your disposal, otherwise, there is no dearth of places of your interest in Kashmir. There are still virgin lands and places still unexplored, which can keep you engaged for life. KASHMIR IS A REAL HEAVEN ON EARTH WHICH YOU CAN FEEL ONLY IF YOU SEE IT WITH YOUR OWN EYES. IT WILL KEEP YOU ENGAGED THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. In summer the mighty chinar trees welcome you with their green sight and pleasing shade, and in winter the color of leaves turns to magnificent yellow and red like fire. Winter sports like Skiing and Skating in Gulmarg during winters and Gandola (Ropeway or Cable car) ride throughout the year is an experience to personally feel and enjoy. A rail ride from Qazigund to Baramulla, especially during the winters when the entire valley gets covered with a thick white blanket of snow has no match in the world.

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PEOPLE:- Kashmir part of the state is dominated mainly by Muslim population with Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, as well as Buddist living side by side in a minority since ages. Kashmiris are simple, innocent, but very intelligent people. Compassion and hospitality are in their blood. The long turmoil of about three decades has failed to make any dent in their long tradition of compassion and hospitality. They are very sentimental and would gather to help you in case of any trouble without any consideration, or any fear. The incidences of their helping even the army in case of severe accidents and giving blood to the injured soldiers, as well as arranging funerals of persons of the other religions have actually happened but are very less reported in the Media. Many negative things are reported more aggressively and good things are ignored.

If you get a chance to be a guest in someone’s house for a lunch or dinner, more particularly during the wedding season where special traditional vegetarian, as well as non-vegetarian cuisines of dozens of varieties locally called as Wazwan are served with great love and personal care. You can’t imagine the intensity of love and hospitality with which you are served food. The old lady of the house who has cooked the food or under whose supervision the food has been cooked will personally come to serve you the dish, complaining that you did not eat properly and they could not serve you the choicest cuisines. All she speaks is in Kashmiri which you don’t understand at all but from the tone, love, concern, and sincerity with which she speaks, even a kid would understand. Love requires no words to express it. This is what is available only in Kashmir and nowhere else in the rest of the world. IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE TRUE HOSPITALITY, COME TO KASHMIR AS THIS NATURAL TRAIT EXISTS ONLY IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD.

The pilgrimage to the abode of Lord Shiva in the snowy Himalayas by more than half a million Hindu devotees every year during a brief period known as Shri Amarnath ji yatra, and which is mainly managed and supported by the Muslims is a true example of universal brotherhood. Similarly, Mela Kheer Bhawani held every year with the active support of local Muslims speaks volumes about the true and composite culture of Kashmir, more precisely known as Kashmiriyat.

There are some disturbances sometimes which are blown out of proportion but, are the disturbances not happening almost everywhere on the globe? NO ONE CAN DENY THE FACT THAT HALF OF THE HEART OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR BEATS ACROSS THE SO-CALLED LINE OF CONTROL, CREATED AFTER THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE COUNTRY WHEN THE INVADERS CAPTURED A MAJOR PART OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR AND IS STILL UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE OTHER COUNTRY. Some disturbances, as are happening elsewhere, do sometimes happen here as well but these are worth ignoring by the visitors and tourists in the interest of the beauty and the rich culture of Kashmir. We all need to project all good things about Jammu and Kashmir in order to negate the stigma which is being attached to this Heaven on Earth by some vested interests. The government has to make efforts to showcase the rich culture of this land of angels and not allow the same to be mixed with other cultures. Local and traditional music with the enthralling and sweet tones of Rabaab, Tumbak, Doul, and Santoor should be promoted by holding shows at hotels or at some central place where the tourists can enjoy their richness in the evening. More hotels with local touch should be opened where a visitor can feel the touch of Kashmir culture. New places of tourist’s interest need to be explored and thrown open for them. More infrastructure has to be provided in order to attract more and more tourists……………..to be continued as part 2.

PARENTING AND GRANDPARENTING. PART- 2

As already discussed in part-1, parenting and grandparenting never cease to exist till we live; these only undergo a change from one to the other. The attachment (Moh) with children is responsible for the propagation of life on this planet. Just think for a while, if the parents don’t care about the new-born babies, the life will come to an end. Nature creates attachment in the hearts of parents and grandparents for the baby before he or she takes birth. From day one nature provides the new-born with two permanent and dedicated caretakers in the form of mother and father, who sacrifice their everything for the upbringing of their child. Nature creates milk in the breasts of the mother on the birth of new-born so that he can be fed till he is able to take solid food. The moment he needs solid food, nature gives teeth to the baby and when he needs more hard food, the delicate milk teeth are replaced automatically with the set of hard teeth. Nature has its own way of working and it works through the medium of its creation.

Anyway, the aim of good parenting is to shape the future of the child in such a way that he is able to face the world with courage and contribute a lot to the welfare of the future generations as well as to the nation, and to the mankind.

The initial five years of child’s life are very crucial. He makes a lot of efforts to learn to speak, sit, stand, walk, play, interact and understand many things including pre-nursery education. By nature, he is a keen watcher and a fast learner, parents have therefore to be very cautious about their child. No quarreling, no shouting, no harsh words, no punishments for and before your child. Always remain positive, friendly, and cool before him. Teach him to respect elders, socialize with people, obey elders, avoid arguments, give suitable time to his studies and playing games. He should be taught, rather encouraged to share his toys and eatables with other family members and friends. Sharing and caring can be taught only at this age. When he is to go to school, do take care of his health and hygiene. Teach him to wash hands before and after meals, clean his nose whenever required with a handkerchief. Do help him in taking bath and using the toilet till he learns to do the same.

From the sixth year onwards the child learns a lot about his family, relatives, friends, and surroundings. The child at this stage needs to be disciplined and his thought and energies properly channelized. He should be encouraged to follow a proper daily routine, like going to bed, getting up early, a little morning walk or exercise, taking a bath, getting ready for school in time, checking his school bag to ensure that all necessary books, notebooks, lunchbox, water bottle etc are properly kept inside. After school, do interact with him to make him comfortable so that before taking his meals he is off from the school fatigue. Help him in getting fresh and in changing his clothes. Give him time for playing, watching a programme of his choice on TV, help him in completing his homework. Both parents, as well as grandparents, should be quite friendly with them and understand their weaknesses and strong points, as only then they will be in a position to provide good counseling and support for the overall development in their child’s character and behavior. They should take care, recognize, and appreciate the interests and choices of their children. The children at this stage must be made to understand the difference between a good and a bad touch as well as the way to react in case of such an eventuality.

During the period of juvenility, there is an element of the immaturity of thought and conduct in the behavior of a child. This period is very crucial in the life of a child. Parents, as well as grandparents, need to keep a strict and secret watch on the behavior and activities of their child especially in the present times when everything is available on the internet with the press of a button. Give more time to the child, be more friendly with them and keep them engaged in studies, games, and other extracurricular activities so that they don’t remain idle. It is always advisable to engage the child in the decision making on small family issues and give recognition to their point of view so that they feel their importance and remain attached to the family. Please remember that an idle man’s brain is devil’s workshop. Don’t let his mind become a Devil’s workshop. This is a stage when the parents may have to be strict sometimes in order to discipline their child. The old proverb ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ is to be kept in mind by the parents. The grandparents at this stage should not interfere with the hard decisions of the child’s parents and rather should keep cool.

Parents have sometimes to take tough decisions in the interests of their child and the child being more close and comfortable with the grandparents, may try to attract their sympathies and support in order to oppose the decision and behavior of his parents towards him. Grandparents should never support the child, instead, they should, politely and with love, try to make the child understand the point of view of his parents and support the view in the overall interests of the child.

Once the child becomes major and completes his education, do provide him support and guidance for choosing and starting his career…………… Then the marriage of the child and his life takes a new turn. Shortly the parents will become grandparents and the grandparents will become great-grandparents or the Gone-grandparents and the Life will keep on changing positions. Please keep on passing the family values and traditions to the future generations. Family traditions and the family values are the roots which must remain strong to keep the family tree growing and developing.

PARENTING AND GRANDPARENTING. Part- 1

Good Parenting is the most important duty of all the parents or would-be parents and similarly, grandparenting too is of great importance and a joyful experience for the grandparents, if they are lucky enough to get the opportunity to provide this support. Its importance lies in the fact that you, as parents, are providing the family their successors and to the nation its future. For a successful and bright future of the family as well as that of the nation, the parents, as well as the grandparents, have to bring up their generations into healthy, intelligent, and positive minded citizens.

The parenting and the grandparenting start from the day one of the conceiving of the baby and doesn’t end despite the fact that children grow as adults and become self-sufficient, get married and start living independently. It is a lifelong process because children will remain as children for their parents, irrespective of their age or status, till their parents are alive. The parents at some stage take on the responsibility of grandparenting and this circle goes on repeating from generation to generation. So, in a way, parenting and grandparenting keep on changing positions with time.

Parenting as well as grandparenting needs to be taken very seriously and not casually. It should be done with the same spirit as a Worship, Tapasya, or an Ebadat and nothing less than that.

Role of parents and grandparents during the period between conceiving and the delivery.

The parents especially the would-be mother has to take care of her health and hygiene particularly during the period of conceiving and the delivery. She should be provided simple but nutritious food. Junk, spicy and very hot food, as well as very cold beverages/liquids, should be avoided. She should remain active and in good mood, all the times, and avoid any tension. Her husband and his parents especially the mother should make all efforts to keep the expecting mother tension free and provide full support to keep her happy and cheerful.

During this period the expecting mothers undergo many physical and emotional changes, which may be their first experience. The senior lady(Mother or mother in law) has to provide support and advice in order to keep her tension free. There should be complete harmony in the family and frictions if any should be avoided.

Proper health care has to be provided with a regular checkup by a qualified gynecologist. The course of medicines advised by the doctor should be properly followed. The lady should avoid lifting of heavy load, frisk walking and driving on bumpy roads.

As each and every action and mood of the would-be mother has a strong and lasting effect on the child’s shaping, character, and behavior, so the entire family needs to keep the would-be mother always in good spirits and mood with positivity in her thinking process. Photographs of great men of character, healthy and smiling babies, Saints and Sufis, and beautiful pictures be displayed in the bedroom of the would-be mother.

The expecting mother should as far as possible avoid the use of mobile phone. Its strong signals and radiations have adverse effects on the health of the expecting mother and the baby in her womb. The habit of excessive use of mobile phone gets transformed into habits of the child. We are a witness to this attitude of infants who become addicts to the use of mobile phones from the very infanthood.

DELIVERY

Delivery is the most crucial moment in the life of a mother as well the whole family. The entire family especially the senior ladies have to provide good advice, support, and courage to the expecting mother and be with her at this crucial juncture. The process of delivery should always be under the supervision of a qualified and experienced Gynaecologist and his team.

THE FIRST CRY

The delivery may be normal or cesarean, the labor pains in both the cases are extreme and unbearable but for GAINS ONE HAS TO BEAR THE PAINS. Once the baby is born, his FIRST CRY makes the mother forget all pains and she gets filled with extreme love, satisfaction, and pride. This is the only moment when a mother smiles with happiness on the crying of her baby.

THE ROLE OF GRANDPARENTS

The role of grandparents if they are lucky to have such an opportunity, starts at this point. They have to take care of both, the mother and the child. Personal hygiene, as well as that of the newborn and his mother, should not be lost sight of at any moment. taking the newborn to the pediatrician for the first medical checkup, changing his clothes, feeding as advised by the doctor, and personal care of the mother is the duty of the grandparents. Care should be taken to not touch the newborn without disinfecting your hands. Anyone suffering from a cough, cold or any other infectious disease should be politely advised not to come near the mother and the newborn because both are more prone to infection. As far as possible the newborn should be breastfed by the mother. This needs to be encouraged in the larger interests of the baby and her mother. The room of the mother and the baby should be kept germs, mosquito, and flies free.

The lactating mother needs to be provided healthy and nourishing food, proper hygiene and medical care. Grandparents to ensure that Proper immunization is followed and the schedule is strictly adhered to. Once the mother regains her health and is able to do her daily chores, the grandparents have to support her in her daily life till she learns the art of handling her normal routine as well as the additional responsibility of handling the infant. Henceforth the role of grandparents is only to play with the toddler. It is very difficult for these senior citizens to be away from the newly born, even for a minute. The grandchildren too in their turn like to play and remain with their grandparents, because they find them more accommodating than their parents.

Playing with the grandchildren is a fun of supreme pleasure. You both forget all etiquettes of normal behavior. People with toothless mouth and face full of wrinkles, make funny faces to make their grandchildren burst into laughter. Doing this, again and again, may look awkward to people around, but who bothers this damn? You drive pleasure and happiness from the natural smiles and waves of laughter of your grandchildren. Have you ever thought as to why they laugh with so much ease on looking at your funny faces? They, in fact, consider you as their big living toys and the biggest jokers on this planet. Do you mind being branded so? You can’t; as contrarily you love to be so for the love and happiness of your grandchildren.

They will catch hold of your nose, ears or hair. They may touch your boned cheeks with their tender hands, thus sending waves of intense love and satisfaction down your spine. You love to play with them and derive enjoyment as much as they do. Do you know why? It is because both of you are birds of the same flock; both are very near to The God. They have just separated from Him and you are about to go to His lap. This nearness to the universal Father is a unique attribute which connects you both with love and tranquility.

Do supplement breastfeeding with other baby foods if required and start giving semisolid or solid food after six months. Take care to provide calcium doses at the time of teething of babies. Go for regular medical checkups. Provide good toys especially which provide education and help build good thinking processes. Massaging the child is important as it provides flexibility and good flow of blood in the veins. It should be done regularly.

Babies learn very fast. They see you speaking and try to move their tongue in order to make a sound. They imitate your movements and behavior in order to learn as to how to walk, move, talk and do other things. It is very important to maintain or to showcase good behavior in the family because the child will always have an eye on you all, and will learn and copy the styles of your behavior; howsoever good or bad those may be. So in a way, he is helping you to mend your ways. It is therefore advisable to behave well with all in the family and around in order to imbibe good qualities in your would be generations. ……………..To be continued in part -2.

A SENSE OF BELONGING

Sense of belonging‘ is an instinct, intense love, a loyality, an urge to give selflessly and always try for the betterment and development of the other party/entity. It is a true love between the parties in a relationship with each other.

A good sense of belonging is the sound foundation of a good relationship, as no relationship can sustain and grow for long in the absence of a good sense of belonging to the parties concerned.

A sense of belonging to the following is very urgent and a need of the hour for a better relationship, harmony, and development of the parties concerned:-

  • The institution you are employed in.
  • Family, friends, relations, and associates.
  • People you work with.
  • Nation and the country you belong to.
  • Nations in a relationship.
  • And above all, God the Almighty by whatever name and form you believe Him, and who is an abode of compassion and love and love only.

A good sense of belonging to the family, friends, and associates builds strong bonding of love which results in sound relationships between the parties concerned and hence the family harmony.

Relationships break only when they lack sense of belonging and love between them. Love begets love and cares for others begets care from others. You care for people around you and resultant people will care for you. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Care and you will be reciprocated with more care, hate and you will be hated; Ignore and you will be ignored, so it is up to you what to choose.

Great nations were built by its people who had a deep sense of belonging to their nations and countries, and many nations failed when its subjects lost love and sense of belonging to them.

Similarly, the institutions are built by its employees and workers when they work as a team with a strong sense of belonging to the institution they work for. Unless the leaders don’t build teams and infuse in them a strong sense of belonging to the institution these will not grow. The leadership has, therefore, to provide good leadership to their subordinates by creating self-examples of dedication and sense of belonging to the institution they serve. You build a strong institution, the institution, in turn, will make you strong. The same applies to families, friends, nations and all surroundings especially the ecology and the environment.

The workforce of an institution and subjects of a nation are the real assets of the institution and the nation they belong to. Money, wealth, resources, assets etc. are secondary. These secondary assets will not last long until the workers or the subjects/stakeholders have a strong sense of belonging to the institution or the nation they belong to. This sense has to be infused into the character of the stakeholders by the top functionaries or leaders by creating self-examples. This characteristic always trickles down from the top and doesn’t rise from the bottom. The younger cocks will learn to crow the way the older cocks crow. So, the responsibility to infuse this important characteristic into minds of the younger generations rests with the seniors. If they failed in this urgent duty, they will fail the institution and the nation they belong to.

Unfortunately, this characteristic is by and by evaporating from the systems and the younger generations are becoming more and more self-centered. They want to attain and possess everything of their choice very fast and for which they keep on changing jobs, preferences, and loyalties. They do get a lot of this stuff, but do they derive mental peace and satisfaction from all this? They may acquire a lot of wealth but they lose health, mental peace, sociability, and values of life. There is a lot of difference between owning a dream car and hiring an Ola or Uber cab.

Your feelings for your own car and a hired cab are totally different. You get emotionally disturbed when a small scratch happens on your car but do you have the same feelings when the hired cab gets badly dented and disfigured by an accident? A little headache to your loved one occupies your whole attention but do you have the same feelings and concern when someone else gets a deep head injury? This explains what the sense of belonging means.

This sense acts as a booster in developing and maintaining of personal relations, development of sound footings and health of institutions and nations, as well as strong bonding and friendships between the people and nations.

AND ABOVE ALL WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT WE AND EVERYTHING ELSE BELONGS TO THE GOD, AND THE GOD AS THE FATHER AND MASTER OF ALL OF US AND THE UNIVERSE BELONGS TO US. TILL WE HOLD HIS HAND, WE CAN ENJOY THE BEAUTY OF THE CREATION. BUT ONCE WE LEAVE HIS FINGER, WE WILL BECOME RESTLESS IN-SPITE OF ALL THE POSSESSIONS AT OUR COMMAND. SO NEVER NEVER NEVER LOSE YOUR SENSE OF BELONGING TO THE LORD.

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