With Love From Russia – Moscow

For those interested to know more about travel in Moscow, Russia, please check out this blog.

Travel and Music

India and Russia always had great relations. So being from India, I naturally considered Russia to be a friendly and hospitable country, especially towards Indians. I was lucky enough to visit Russia in the year of 2012, and what I personally felt is that it is a country that greatly values it’s history and art. I saw amazing monuments, museums, and beautifully decorated metro stations during my trip to Russia. So the first city which I visited during my trip was the capital city – Moscow.

So we started our journey from Manila (Philippines) and after a long 10 hour flight, we landed in Moscow completely jet-lagged. My first impression when I left the airport was that I saw a lot of people smoking.. really.. this is especially true when in comparison to other countries like India and Philippines. You can see tons of people smoking outside the airport.. and…

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With Love From Russia – Moscow

India and Russia always had great relations. So being from India, I naturally considered Russia to be a friendly and hospitable country, especially towards Indians. I was lucky enough to visit Russia in the year of 2012, and what I personally felt is that it is a country that greatly values it’s history and art. I saw amazing monuments, museums, and beautifully decorated metro stations during my trip to Russia. So the first city which I visited during my trip was the capital city – Moscow.

So we started our journey from Manila (Philippines) and after a long 10 hour flight, we landed in Moscow completely jet-lagged. My first impression when I left the airport was that I saw a lot of people smoking.. really.. this is especially true when in comparison to other countries like India and Philippines. You can see tons of people smoking outside the airport.. and the weather wasn’t even that cold, as we had visited during the Summer. Later I learnt that most people in Russia developed this habit due to the harsh winters and smoking keeps them warm. Somehow this habit seems to have carried on during the summer as well.

My first impression of the city was that it’s a very clean city with most buildings having very sober colors. Most apartment buildings had very dull colors like white, grey, or light yellow. These were buildings located on the outskirts of the city. As we traveled closer to the city center, most of the buildings has a very classical retro feel to them. They looked like old European buildings like in the picture below:-

A building in Moscow with a very Classical/ Retro feel 🙂

After a long drive, we finally reached our hotel in Moscow. The name of the hotel was Hotel Kosmos and the building structure had an immediate impact on me. It looked quite large from outside and I was impressed. As you can see, the hotel is inverted U-shaped from the outside.

Hotel Kosmos – Outside view

After researching a bit about the hotel, I came to know some interesting facts about it:

  1. The hotel has around 1777 rooms in total and it is the largest hotel in Russia
  2. The hotel was built for the 1980 summer Olympics which took place in Russia

Now enough about facts.. Agencies have rated the hotel as a 3-star hotel and the price for a day in a standard room is around $90 or around Rs. 6000. Of course, the price is seasonal and would depend on several factors. The price also includes a very good buffet breakfast. The hotel also contains many facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, dance halls, etc… I was really impressed at the rooms in the hotel, as they were spacious and comfortable. They have a very good hall with Russian dancers in the main hall welcoming the guests.

A photo with the Russian dancers in Hotel Cosmos

So on our first official day in Moscow, we visited the Red Square. The red square is a city square in Moscow which is one of the most visited by tourists. It separates the Kremlin (a govt. building) and historic market place. So the first thing which you notice about the Red Square is the beautiful Saint Basil’s Cathedral. It is one of the most famous symbols of Russia. So Saint Basil’s cathedral is an orthodox church. It was built in between the years 1555 to 1561 by Ivan the terrible. It contains 8 chapels arranged around the 9th central chapel. One thing which really confused me about Saint Basil’s cathedral is that it contained Islamic design just like the Taj Mahal, it contains minarets. When I first saw it, I thought that it was a mosque and not a church.

Next, we stopped for a quick lunch in the city center and I saw several limousines on the way. If there are few words which I should use to describe Moscow, words that come to mind are clean, luxury, and artistic. This can also be observed in the malls which they have. Malls here have grand designs and a classic European feel to it which modern malls in other countries don’t have.

Another fascinating aspect about Moscow is it’s metro stations. The Moscow metro stations are called the most beautiful in the world. 44 out of the 200 metro stations are listed as cultural heritage sites. The metro stations are really unique with beautiful paintings/ sculptures inside the stations. And you can see many tourists taking pictures inside the metro stations. Another fascinating thing about the metros is that the escalators are so steep that one may feel scared while climbing on those escalators.

Among the famous souvenirs in Russia are the Faberge eggs which are jeweled eggs and the famous Matrushka dolls. For Indian movie lovers, the Matrushka dolls were shown in the Indian movie – Delly Belly, where Vijay Raj opens the doll – one within another. So what’s unique about the doll is that you can open it and you’ll find another smaller doll inside it.. this pattern keeps going. Usually I had seen around 7 dolls packed into one big doll. Some of the dolls contain up to 14 dolls inside of them. And also all the dolls could have similar or different designs. So the dolls are used to represent sisters or a family.

Moscow is also a city which promotes literature, education, art and sports. I was lucky enough to view the Moscow Olympic Stadium from the outside. The sight looked majestic at night!!

Apart from all this, I got the chance to witness the famous Russian dance in hotel Cosmos. The dancing was really something unique and I think every person who visits must view it. But my only regret is that I was not able to see the famous Moscow Circus during my trip. So if I had to summarize my trip in Moscow, I was able to experience and learn a lot about Russian history and art. I also got to learn few Russian words like Pectopah – restaurant and a few greetings in Russian. For those that don’t really like historical monuments, Moscow also has a very vibrant night-life which you can explore. While travelling at night, I noticed many night-clubs located through-out the city.

Batu Caves – Malaysia

Travel and Music

Introduction:-

Hi guys, hope you all are well and doing fine. Today I am going to be sharing with you regarding a very special place which I had visited on my trip to Malaysia. Yes, as the title says, this blog is about the Batu caves. Batu caves is located in Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia and it is approximately 17 km from Kuala Lampur. So basically the Batu caves consist of a series of caves located on a limestone hill. The names ‘Batu’ comes from the Malay word “Bato” meaning “rock”.

What is special about this place?

OK.. So fine.. it’s a series of caves, but what’s so special about it? Batu caves is actually one of the most famous Hindu shrines outside India. This startled me, because I thought that Malaysia was a predominantly Muslim country, and I didn’t know that such famous Hindu temple existed in Malaysia. Pardon my…

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Murudeshwar – A Holy Pilgrimage

Travel and Music

I know it has been a long time since I posted my last blog. Had been busy with a lot of things lately. I know that most of the human race is on a lock-down now due to the Corona virus pandemic. I think this is nature’s way of telling human-kind to calm down and to protect our environment. Everyone, please do stay safe and protect your families during this pandemic. Also, please take a moment to pray for a quick recovery from the pandemic.

Speaking of prayer, in this blog, I will be writing about one of the fascinating religious places I visited in Karnataka. Yes, the place I am taking about is Murudeshwar. I have been to Murudeshwar twice, once when I was a child with my family, and the second time was when I was pursuing my post-graduation in Manipal. In this blog, I will be describing…

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Kruger National Park (South Africa)

Travel and Music

Hi All,

These are pics I was able to take at Kruger National Park Safari (South Africa):

I would have to say I enjoyed this trip a lot and had to post about it!!

Hope you enjoy them:

The Majestic African Lion:

1150899_10201911264852604_1391214457_n
The Lion Looking straight at us from a short distance was terrifying

1237011_10201911263972582_1322814741_n
Lioness near a vehicle

1185574_10201911264652599_1025912302_n
Side view of the Lioness

1175494_10201911265252614_328874343_n
Lion stretching on a tree

The Impala:

1174745_10201911263572572_469050408_n
Front view of the Impala (Just take a look at it’s horns)

1185771_10201911262692550_1933711351_n
Semi-side view

1175477_10201911263252564_2096214814_n
Impala crossing the road

1175190_10201911267532671_1864849869_n
Impala hiding itself

Giraffe:

1175098_10201911261812528_1261178025_n
Giraffe having it’s breakfast in the morning

1236649_10201911261452519_1760327739_n
Two deer playing with themselves

1209055_10201911262372542_139966793_n
Why so serious baboon?

1236776_10201911262612548_2019750336_n
Scratching it’s feet

1208592_10201911261372517_530890540_n
Pumba looking for Timon (Wild Boar)

Vultures:

1005498_10201911267092660_66015133_n

Hippos:

1185638_10201911265812628_2140655186_n

1237779_10201911265932631_677715964_n
Hippos are said to be the most unpredictable and dangerous wild animals.. just saying

Hyenas:

1185087_10201911265532621_1328908796_n
Couldn’t catch the front view..

Leopard (It was very far away so the pics are blurred…

View original post 48 more words

Architectural Marvels – Humayun’s Tomb

Travel and Music

Hi all,

Once again apologies that I am posting after a very long time. I hope you all won’t be disappointed after reading my next post. During my visit to Delhi, I was able to visit several monuments within the city but one monument which really captivated me, from the moment I entered it, was Humayun’s tomb.

Humayun was Mughal emperor who ruled India, Pakistan, and parts of Afghanistan for nearly 12 years. Mughals are a race of Turkish Mongol descent who were able to conquer large parts of today’s India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Humayun was a very famous ruler. I know that most of you might have heard about “Akbar the Great”. Humayun was his father. He tragically died,  falling from the stairs of his library with a bundle of books in his hands and by tripping on his own robe.

Yup, a tragic end to a relatively…

View original post 357 more words

Batu Caves – Malaysia

Introduction:-

Hi guys, hope you all are well and doing fine. Today I am going to be sharing with you regarding a very special place which I had visited on my trip to Malaysia. Yes, as the title says, this blog is about the Batu caves. Batu caves is located in Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia and it is approximately 17 km from Kuala Lampur. So basically the Batu caves consist of a series of caves located on a limestone hill. The names ‘Batu’ comes from the Malay word “Bato” meaning “rock”.

What is special about this place?

OK.. So fine.. it’s a series of caves, but what’s so special about it? Batu caves is actually one of the most famous Hindu shrines outside India. This startled me, because I thought that Malaysia was a predominantly Muslim country, and I didn’t know that such famous Hindu temple existed in Malaysia. Pardon my ignorance!! But this is not only a holy shrine, it is also a very popular tourist destination in Malaysia. People of different nationalities and religions visit the Batu caves. So when you reach your destination, the first thing you will see is a 43 meter golden colored tall statue of Lord Murugan (Also called Karthikeya). This statue has been built is a very elegant way and it will for sure catch your eye. What also makes the setting special is that the statue is surrounded by the limestone mountain and its vegetation. The contrast of colors between the statue and its environment make the statue stand out. Next to the statue, you can see a series of steps going up to caves. As per my research, there are 272 steps going to the caves.

The different caves and temples in this area?

I at first thought that the Batu Caves would only consist of a single cave and temple but this is not true. There are 4 different caves and there is a Ram temple located in one of the caves.

So the different caves are as follows:

1. Temple Cave/Cathedral Cave 2. Dark Cave 3. Cave Villa and 4. Ramayana Cave

The Temple cave serves as a temple to Lord Murugan. One has to climb the 272 steps to reach it. It seems easy but I can assure you that it is not so. On the steps to the temple there are many naughty Macaus waiting for a chance to grab food/water from you. It is better not to feed them. Also the entry to the Temple cave is free which means you should not miss the chance to visit it.

The Dark cave is more of an adventure cave and was closed when I visited the Batu Caves. Anyways, I have collected some info. regarding the Dark cave. One can take the educational tour of the Dark Cave which costs around RM 35 for an adult and RM 25 for a child. There is also an adventure tour which costs RM 80 for an adult and RM 55 per child.

If you wouldn’t want to climb all those steps and visit the Temple cave, then you can still visit the Cave Villa which is located at the foot of the limestone hill. The entrance fee for this is RM 15 for foreigners and RM 7 for Malaysian residents. So the Cave Villa contains lots of paintings and statues of Indian Mythology.

The last cave is the Ramayana Cave. In front of the cave, there is a huge statue of the God Hanuman (An important character in the Ramayana epic). As you walk in the cave, you will see series of stautes which depict the series of events which took place in the Ramayana epic. Don’t worry, for those who don’t know much about Ramayana, I will be explaining a bit about it in the upcoming topic. The entrance fee for Ramayana Cave is RM 5.

What is the story behind Batu Caves?

Did you know that the Batu caves is said to 400 million years old! Yes, pretty shocking! And it was not always a place of worship. In fact, Batu caves was promoted as a place of worship by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader. He wanted to create a temple at the Batu caves in 1890 and in 1892, he installed the idol of Lord Murugan in the Cave temple. Since then, every Jan/Feb the Tamils in Malaysia come to Batu caves to celebrate Thaipusam festival. In 1920, the concrete steps to reach the Cave temple had been constructed. In 2006, the golden statue of Lord Murugan was unveiled to the public. This statue took 3 years to complete the construction.

Explaining stories of Lord Murugan and the Ramayana mythology?

Lord Murugan is one of the most popular Gods in Southern India. What is fascinating is that his popularity is also increasing in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. Kartikeya is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati and is known as the God of war. According to the scriptures, his animal of transport is a peacock. He has sometimes been depicted as a person with a single head and in some scriptures, he is depicted as having 6 heads. His main weapon which he carries is a divine spear.

For more info. about Lord Murugan, please visit this link:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7jOgl0yeKU

It contains many interesting facts about Lord Murugan.

The Ramayana is one of the most revered Indian epics. It is a story about Lord Ram and how he saves his kidnapped wife from the Lanka king Ravana. Apart from this, the epic conveys many values and morals which shows how a man can overcome any obstacle he is confronted with. Unfortunately I cannot condense the entire Ramayana epic into a single blog.

So, if you would like to know more about Ramayana, please check out this piece:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramayana

How to travel to Batu Caves from Kuala Lampur?

Batu caves is around 13km from the Kuala Lampur city. The easiest way to get to the Batu caves is by the KTM commuter train. It is also a price friendly option when compared to travelling by taxi. A one way ticket for a person only costs MR 2.6 and the frequency on trains is also good. The first train to the Batu caves starts at 6:45 AM and the last train is at around 11:24 PM. I would recommend visiting it in the morning.

So, that’s it guys! That’s all from me.. Please do like and follow my blogs for more interesting travel related content

Adios!!!

Murudeshwar – A Holy Pilgrimage

I know it has been a long time since I posted my last blog. Had been busy with a lot of things lately. I know that most of the human race is on a lock-down now due to the Corona virus pandemic. I think this is nature’s way of telling human-kind to calm down and to protect our environment. Everyone, please do stay safe and protect your families during this pandemic. Also, please take a moment to pray for a quick recovery from the pandemic.

Speaking of prayer, in this blog, I will be writing about one of the fascinating religious places I visited in Karnataka. Yes, the place I am taking about is Murudeshwar. I have been to Murudeshwar twice, once when I was a child with my family, and the second time was when I was pursuing my post-graduation in Manipal. In this blog, I will be describing my 2nd journey.

There is a cool story based on the Hindu mythology on why Murudeshwar became a holy place. During ancient times, it is believed that Ravana, the king of Sri Lanka, got a boon from Lord Shiva while meditating intently. Lord Shiva granted him the boon of immortality on one condition: that he should be able to carry Lord Shiva’s Linga (statue) from India all the way to Sri Lanka without putting it on the ground. Wherever he places the Linga, the Linga would be permanently fixed in that location and could never be moved. Fearing the consequences of Ravana’s immortality, the other Gods (Indra and his team) conspired to foil Ravana’s plan. They sent Lord Ganesha, disguised as a boy, to stop Ravana. Lord Ganesha tricked Ravana to give him the Linga for some time. During this time, he placed the statue on the ground and that place is now called Gokarna. When Ravana came back and saw the statue, he was enraged, and in a fit of anger hit the Linga. Some pieces of the Linga and the cloth covering it flew in different directions. In this process, the cloth and few pieces of the Linga were found at Murudeshwar.

So basically, Murudeshwar is a town in the Northern part of Karnataka. It’s mainly known for the Murudeshwar temple, which contains the world’s 2nd tallest Shiva statue. The language mainly being spoken in this area is the Kannada language.

I should say that the view around the temple is breath-taking! The sight of the Shiva statue from afar made for a good view and the design of the temple was grandesque! The style used by the architect to create the temple is called the Gopurum and these designs are common among temples in South India. But was unforgettable for me was the height of the gopuram. It was 20 floors tall and each floor had different designs on it. It is said that each floor has an epic/story inscribed on it. Take a look in the picture below:-

Another feature of this temple was that it is commercial compared to many other temples in India. There are many restaurants near the temple and you would often find people swimming in the beach located beside the temple. So me and my friends reached the temple by 11 am. We found out that the temple would only open by 12 pm, so we waited and took a view of the temple from the outside. We saw lots of tourists also waiting to enter the temple. At 12 pm, we entered and took our Darshans. Darshan means “to meet God” or ” to be able to see God”. We also got Prasad (holy offerings) from the temple, the temple gives a special sweet called Laddoo as the Prasad.

After this, we got to know that it is possible to go till the top of the Gopuram and take in the view of the surroundings of the temple. The only way to get to the top is to take an elevator, there are no steps to get to the top of the Gopuram … and this was the view we were able to see…

When we were on top of the Gopuram, we were able to get a good 360 degree view of the locality. On one side was the famous statue of Lord Shiva. One the other side was the beach coastline and on the 3rd side we could view the everlasting ocean with few boats floating on it. It was a great moment and made for some great photos.

Lastly, we had to visit the Shiva statue. It looked majestic from a great distance and when I finally reached near it, I could see that some paint had worn off, but nevertheless, it was pretty huge. There were also other small statues which depicted important events which took place in the Ramayana.

Close-up view of the Statue

After visiting the temple and the statue, I felt blessed to visit such a great temple. One more important feature of this temple is that it is not an ancient temple. It is a newly constructed temple and hence the commercial feel it has.

Once we were done, we proceeded for lunch at a restaurant near by and then proceeded to visit the beach. We then went back to our college hostel feeling satisfied and blessed.

I would like to end by saying that this trip was a blessing in disguise for me, because soon after this trip, I was able to secure my first job after my MBA at Ford Motor Company. So I would like to end by saying Om Namah Shivay (Praise be to thee Lord Shiva)!!!

Please comment of what other details about Murudeshwar you guys would like to know about.

Kruger National Park (South Africa)

Hi All,

These are pics I was able to take at Kruger National Park Safari (South Africa):

I would have to say I enjoyed this trip a lot and had to post about it!!

Hope you enjoy them:

The Majestic African Lion:

1150899_10201911264852604_1391214457_n
The Lion Looking straight at us from a short distance was terrifying
1237011_10201911263972582_1322814741_n
Lioness near a vehicle
1185574_10201911264652599_1025912302_n
Side view of the Lioness
1175494_10201911265252614_328874343_n
Lion stretching on a tree

The Impala:

1174745_10201911263572572_469050408_n
Front view of the Impala (Just take a look at it’s horns)
1185771_10201911262692550_1933711351_n
Semi-side view
1175477_10201911263252564_2096214814_n
Impala crossing the road
1175190_10201911267532671_1864849869_n
Impala hiding itself

Giraffe:

1175098_10201911261812528_1261178025_n
Giraffe having it’s breakfast in the morning
1236649_10201911261452519_1760327739_n
Two deer playing with themselves
1209055_10201911262372542_139966793_n
Why so serious baboon?
1236776_10201911262612548_2019750336_n
Scratching it’s feet
1208592_10201911261372517_530890540_n
Pumba looking for Timon (Wild Boar)

Vultures:

1005498_10201911267092660_66015133_n

Hippos:

1185638_10201911265812628_2140655186_n
1237779_10201911265932631_677715964_n
Hippos are said to be the most unpredictable and dangerous wild animals.. just saying

Hyenas:

1185087_10201911265532621_1328908796_n
Couldn’t catch the front view..

Leopard (It was very far away so the pics are blurred due to the zoom):

1170725_10201911266452644_1278085071_n
Located very far from our location.. one of our guides were able to spot the leopard

Elephants:

1208716_10201911269412718_910967110_n
1230081_10201911270092735_2057887075_n
Fighting? No just playing… I hope so …

Hope you enjoyed this post!

Please like this post and please follow me for more travel related content!

Regards,

Architectural Marvels – Humayun’s Tomb

Hi all,

Once again apologies that I am posting after a very long time. I hope you all won’t be disappointed after reading my next post. During my visit to Delhi, I was able to visit several monuments within the city but one monument which really captivated me, from the moment I entered it, was Humayun’s tomb.

Humayun was Mughal emperor who ruled India, Pakistan, and parts of Afghanistan for nearly 12 years. Mughals are a race of Turkish Mongol descent who were able to conquer large parts of today’s India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Humayun was a very famous ruler. I know that most of you might have heard about “Akbar the Great”. Humayun was his father. He tragically died,  falling from the stairs of his library with a bundle of books in his hands and by tripping on his own robe.

Yup, a tragic end to a relatively young ruler! He was only 48 years old. Ok, so Humayun’s tomb was built by his first wife Bega Begum. She asked Persian architects to design the mausoleum. Before the Taj Mahal existed, this might have been the most grand Mughal Mausoleum in India. Humayun’s Tomb is also the first garden tomb in India. It actually took 7 freaking years to build this mausoleum and is estimated to cost 1.5 million rupees back then… Imagine how many years the Taj Mahal would have taken and the cost to build it!!!

Here are the pics of my visit to  Humayun’s Tomb:

Humayun's Tomb - 1

This was the gateway to the entrance of the tomb. Something interesting which I saw was the 2 stars on the entrance. These stars looked like stars from the Jewish tradition, which led me to think if Islam was actually influenced by Judaism? Also, there was a school who was actually visiting this tomb in their field trip (As seen in this picture – kids with uniforms).

Humayun's Tomb - 2

Finally, this is the front view view of the Humayun’s tomb. From my first glance, this resembles a lot like the Taj Mahal, except that this building has a lot of red colour embedded in it. The Taj Mahal is completely white on the first glance.

Fun fact: Persians built their architectures in such a way that both sides of the building should look symmetrical. If you draw a line from the center of the building, the left side of the picture should completely resemble the right side of the picture. This not only includes the building but also the garden and the water fountains surrounding the mausoleum.

It was declared as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1993.

Thanks guys for bearing with me.. This is the ending of the article… If you guys need more details like how to get to Humayun’s tomb, where to stay, or other queries, please drop a message or do comment on this article.

Hope I inspired you guys to travel more and explore more amazing places like this one.

Rahul

-Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, keep making wonderful memories