Saturday, March 1, 2014

Maithon Dam Excursion

The maithon dam is specially designed for flood control and generates 60,000 kW of electric power. There is an underground power station in jharkhand state of india, the first of its kind in the whole of South East Asia. Flood in early 1940s in the Damodar river cutoff Calcutta off from the rest of the country. This even lead to formation of this dam in 1950s.
During my visit to my wife's home in asansol i thought of exploring this dam. Maithon dam is 20 km from asansol city and linked by main-road. We started our journey in afternoon and passed through national highway. Last few kilometer of journey was through forest and mountain.
 I was filming the whole journey when approached by security guard at the entrance of road which is built over the dam. He threatened me to confiscate my camera as photography is not allowed on the dam. I promise them not to film the dam and after some request they let me cross the dam. Once we cross the dam i could see many small shops mostly eateries. My wife told me that this is picnic spot for the city people.  We hired a wooden boat for a trip to dam reservoir after an easy bargain.
Foundation of the maithon dam
Boat excursion in maithon dam excursion
 It looks like beautiful calm lake. There are many small island covered with dense glass and tree inside the dam reservoir. After sometime we landed on a small island. I Was sad to see the people using this place as dustbin no one was bother to clean or take the garbage back after their picnic. Bottles, cup and plate was everywhere. We walked toward other side of island, which was much cleaner.  Island was covered with dense forest. Sunset form the island was very beautiful. There were also few migratory bird near the island.
small islands inside maithon dam
Our boat for the excision into maithon dam reservoir.
Dense forest on the island inside maithon dam
Dense forest on the island inside maithon dam
sunset at maithon dam

While coming back to shore I was wondering why this beautiful place is not on tourist map. It could be best place to spend weekend from nearby city like Kolkata, ranchi and Jamshedpur. 
After reaching the shore we moved toward other side of the dam. It was January months and I guess the power generation was stopped as floodgate was closed.

maithon dam
There is also a beautiful garden nearby. We had evening snack and headed back to asansol via maithon village. We could still see the splendor sunse over the dam.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Today Vaishali is a small village surrounded by agriculture fields. Archaeological remains are witness of its glorious past. The Ramayana tells the story of the heroic King Vishal who ruled this place.
It is considered as birthplace of Democracy by many historian. Vaishali is also cradle of Buddhism and Jainism. Bhagwan Mahavira was born and brought up in Kundalagrama in Vaiśālī republic, which makes it a pious and auspicious pilgrimage to Jains. Also Gautama Buddha preached his last sermon before his death .The city is also mentioned by Chinese explorers Faxian (4th century BC) and Xuanzang (7th century BC). 
Our first stop was Japanese temple and the Viśvā Śānti Stūpa (World Peace Pagoda) built by Japanese Nichiren Buddhist sect Nipponzan-Myōhōji. A small part of the Buddha's relics found in Vaiśālī have been enshrined in the foundation and in the chhatra of the Stupa. It is an impressive temple but badly maintained.

World Peace Pagoda , VaishaliWorld Peace Pagoda , Vaishali

World Peace Pagoda , Vaishali
Buddha at World Peace Pagoda , Vaishali
Buddha at World Peace Pagoda , Vaishali
There is a lake besides the Stupa. We enjoyed the boating for sometime before heading toward archaeological museum .
Pond near World Peace Pagoda  , Vaishali
 Archaeological museum is small but have impressive collections mainly found during excavation of remains. The Museum is close on Friday.
Pond near World Peace Pagoda  , Vaishali
Archaeological museum near World Peace Pagoda  , Vaishali

I was surprised to see a well maintained restaurant and Children park near the Stupa. We had lunch in the restaurant and headed to see The archaeological site is few km away from the Buddhist Stupa.

Lord Buddha visited Vaishali frequently and also preached his last sermon. To commemorate the event, Emperor Ashoka erected one of his famous lion pillars here in 3rd century BC. The lion pillar still stand and in it is good condition. Local villagers call it lathi of Bhima.
Remains of ancient vaishali , Ashoka pillar and remains of stupa
Remains of ancient vaishali , Ashoka pillar and remains of stupa
Lion of  Ashoka pillar, Vaishali
 This site is excavated in 1958 led to the discovery of water tank, casket containing the ashes of the Lord and remains of ancient stupa.
Abhiskek Pushkarn (Coronation tank) In Vaishali, Bihar
Recently Choumukhi Mahadeva (Four faced Shiva) is excavated which is more than thousand year old. Villagers told us that archaeological society of India tried to take it to Patna museum but they were not able to move it from its original place. People decided to build a temple at same place.
Choumukhi Mahadeva (Four faced Shiva) at Vaishali

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kankalini Madir (Kali Mandir), Bharda, Nepal - A temple of sacrifice

I spent most of my childhood in Birpur, Supaul. It is a small town near India–Nepal border. Last year i visited birpur after 15 year to see the town and my school. There was very little change in the town. My school was now much bigger than it used to be when I left the town. It was very emotional moment for me to be a place which is linked to my countless number of beautiful memories.

Government High School, Birpur, Supaul
Ram janaki mandir, birpur, supaul
Next day myself and my family decided to visit Kankalini Mandir (Kali Mandir) in Bharda, Nepal. It is an ancient temple and devotee comes from all over Nepal and Bihar, India. This temple is dedicated to Kali, the goddess of destruction. Temple is also famous for mass animal sacrifice during Kali Puja. Every year unaccounted number of water buffaloes and small animals are scarified. 
We Started early morning from birpur and stopped at bhimnagar for breakfast. We  stopped at check post again near the Indo-Nepal border. One of the border guard from Nepal asked us the purpose of visit and suggested to take permit at barrage . In fact there is no border fence or clear demarcation between India and Nepal except few stones. After few kilometer inside Nepal we reached koshi barrage.

Bolders represnting indo-nepal border
Koshi barrage is a flood control channel to control the flood. It is an engineering marvel with 52 gates which controls the flow of river.  Near the Barrage  i arranged permits for my vehicle at bhansar office . We passed through koshi barrage and after few km further through green fields we reached the temple.

An engineering marvel - Koshi barrage
An engineering marvel - Koshi barrage
Temple was recently renovates and there was less crowd inside because it was not an auspicious week to visit the temple. 

Entrance gate of Kankali tempe , Bharda, Nepal
Kankali tempe , Bharda, Nepal
Inside the Kankali tempe , Bharda, Nepal
We performed the puja at the temple. There were two altar one for water Buffalo and another for small animals. I witness sacrifice of many animal and birds. There was pool of blood near the altar.

We spent some time exploring nearby area and dam. There were many local kids playing near the temple and on nearby trees for berries. I gave them some Prasad and my wife tried to talk to them. They were very happy to see their pictures on my camera screen.

 My mother bought few pictures of temple and sweets from shops before heading back. 

On the way back We Stopped near the kosi barrage to see the barrage and fishing by some daredevils.

We stopped at check post again to show them the permits of my vehicle. One change I noticed was the security. In past i never saw any military presence in these area. Security at India-Nepal border has been beefed up recently. We returned back to birpur in late afternoon with memories.