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Best India Moments in Photos.

5 Apr

After traveling through the vast and diverse country of India, I find myself reflecting on the whirlwind experience.

I saw the country from bottom to top and wanted to share some of my favourite moments in photographic form with you…

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Mumbai. A spectacularly modern and head-scratchingly backwards city. Love it or hate it, Mumbai never fails to make an impact. 

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The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai. Stay here! It is worth every penny. Best service, best beds, best view. Remarkable. 

 

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Kerala. This small tropical state is full of lovely beaches, adventures and sweeping views. The budget vacationers dream. 

 

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Ashram in Kerala. If you go to India and don’t try yoga, you’re missing out on an authentic, life shifting experience. 

 

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Backwaters Houseboat, Kerala. If you go to Kerala, this is a must. Beautiful scenery in a peaceful setting. 

 

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Fort Kochi. This small artsy area is a must see. Get some great food, wine, coffee and view some funky street art. 

 

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Pondicherry. This was my fave city in India. Best cuisine, lovely accommodation, good weather, art, design, all ingredients for a unique vacation.

 

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Unique accommodation Pondicherry. 

 

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Mysore. Visit one of the most beautiful palaces, still mostly intact. Take a old school horse and buggy to get there. 

 

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Panji, Goa. This crumbling city evokes old Portuguese heritage with new world amenities. 

 

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Goa. Beaches, sun, sand, nightlife, yoga, need I say more. 

 

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Udaipur. When most people think of India, this is the place that comes to mind. 

 

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Rajasthan. Camel safari through the desert…check. It’s a must do! 

 

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Jaisalmer. This amazing fort is something you think you’ll only see in movies. 

 

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Punjab. Sprawling countryside, wheat fields, delicious food, if you go north try Punjab. 

 

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Golden Temple, Amritsar. So breathtaking. 

 

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Holi. The festival of colours is an event not to miss. Act like a kid and throw coloured powder on everyone you like or dislike. They can’t get mad at you!

If you have any specific questions about India, feel free to send me a message.

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I Goa to Goa

11 Mar

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Arriving in Panji, Goa via Mysore is a total change in landscape and vibe. Immediately you feel that you are on vacation. The heat sticks, the air is salty and the palm trees all around are sure signs that the beach is awaiting.

Panji is a beautiful Portuguese influenced city. This once powerful epicentre is now a quietly decaying historic centre that is worth a short stay.

The accommodation varies from inexpensive and dingy to super modern and lush. On the lower end, it is easy to find a guesthouse that is under 1000RS per night. You will get a room with character that is clean and livable for a night or two.

There is not much to do in this city, but it is fun to check out the MG Road area (which is where I found a little guesthouse). This area is full of old and decaying Portuguese buildings, cute shops and some good eateries.

A walk along the waterfront is a nice way to see the sun setting and look out at the floating casino boats in the bay. Old Goa is supposed to be a good day trip, I didn’t go but heard it is good to look at if you are interested in that time period.

From Panji I continued to Vagator which is an easy 30 minute taxi ride. I liked the energy in this community and found a clean and quiet place to stay for 800RS per night. I got a bout of stomach sickness, so I didn’t explore too much. I would go back and see a bit more in the future.

After two nights in Vagator, I proceeded to Arambol which is in the north of Goa. I was going there for two reasons, one was to take a yoga course and the second is because it was recommended to me by quite a few people.

As soon as I reached Arambol, I felt I had made a mistake. According to the guide books, there are hundreds of beach huts to stay in. As of about two weeks ago, there was. Now however, the local government has sold the land to a private company and taken down all of the beach huts and restaurants that were previously illegally on the waters edge. As it turns out, this was a blessing because there were all night parties blasting trance music that penetrated the beach and surrounding communities.

There is still not a lack of extremely cheap and extremely bad accommodation. If your only concern is budget, you will have no problem finding something. If you are looking for something of quality, it is a tough task to find a place.

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After much hunting, I found a fantastic lake front hut. The owners turned their prawn harvesting lake into a majestic ashram style abode. They run regular yoga retreats and have a beautiful studio on the waters edge. The huts are beautiful and affordable. They are very specific about who they allow to stay here, if you are the partying type, this is not the place for you. Unfortunately they do not have a website, but the business name is Whispering Lakes Yoga Retreat Arambol. I originally was going to stay at Ashiyana, which has excellent reviews, but after touring the property I changed my mind. They are charging 200 times the price (literally) of any other yoga place and the rooms are just okay.

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The food is another challenge. If you don’t want to get sick, be careful where you eat here. I ended up eating almost all my meals at Atman Beach Resort where they have a simple and fresh menu. The place is funky, filled with the owners original artwork and the huts look quite nice too.

The best part of my trip was my five day Iyengar Yoga course. The teacher is a longtime student of BKS Iyengar and developed his own offshute, The Himalayan Iyengar Institute. They have two branches, one here in Goa and one in Dharamsala. The five day introduction course is a three hour per day intensive introduction to this style of yoga. I truly enjoyed my experience and would highly recommend it. Image

The best way to get around this area is by rental scooter. Of course in India, I would never recommend driving, but Arambol is the one exception. You can easily get around and it is relatively safe to drive here. You won’t go anywhere without seeing a foreigner on a scooter – whizzing through the Goan hills is a experience you won’t want to miss.

The beaches are absolutely beautiful in this part of Goa. I found a more secluded beach called Ashvem Beach that is more Euroupean in feeling and cleanliness.

Overall Goa is beautifully tropical and full of surprises. I like to call it “India Light”.

Bangalore India Home Away From Home

23 Feb

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Bangalore is a true gem in the rapidly changing India of today.

Arriving from Chennai by train, you are immediately taken into another world, one which is somehow similar to the west.

Hotels, food, transportation, and everything else is more expensive than the average Indian city. Of course it depends what area you are staying in, but on average, if you are not native Indian, the price will be a bit higher than locals.

We found amazing food at UB City mall, where you can also find every high-end global brand. I highly recommend Fava which has won several awards and has absolutely delicious Mediterranean inspired food.

Accommodation is everywhere and the hotels are beautiful. If you have a big budget, you won’t be disappointed with any of the major hotels. If you are on a budget, you will have more difficulty. I found a great artist cooperative with simple and affordable rooms. They aren’t fancy but are definitely the most funky and best value in Bangalore. The location is great and the cafe is okay to chill, check your email and have a yummy Mint Ginger Chai. Jaaga is the place to see emerging startups and IT wizzes working their magic in a cool eclectic setting.

I love Bangalore for its cleanliness, young vibe, interesting companies and artistic nature.

Yesterday I Was Clever

22 Feb

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.

Today I am wise, so I want to change myself.

~ Rumi

Nectar Yoga

Quote

IF….

3 Feb

IF…..

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

This poen was read last night during the Teacher Training Course graduation. I loved it an wanted to share it with you! Enjoy…

Ashram Life

1 Feb

Have you ever wondered what it is like to visit an ashram in India?

If you are curious, this post is for you…

NectaryogaSivananda

To start, here is the typical daily schedule at a Sivananda Ashram (other lineages of yoga will have slightly different schedules).

5:30 AM

Wake up bell – yes you read that right

6:00 AM

Satsang – 20 – 30 min meditation, chanting and yoga talk

7:30 AM

Tea Time – Yummy milky Indian Chai

8:00 AM

Hatha Yoga Class – Two options, one beginner and one intermediate both are two hours in length.

10:00 AM

Brunch – This is your first vegetarian meal of the day. Served in silence while seated on the floor. Meals are eaten with the right hand using rice or chipatty as a scoop.

11:00 AM

Karma Yoga – Selfless Service. Duties performed for the maintenance and operation of the ashram community. See my last post on Karma Yoga

2:00 PM

Yoga Lecture – Topics range from proper breathing to proper diet to meditation

4:00 PM

Hatha Yoga – This is the second two hour yoga class of the day. Choose your level.

6:00 PM 

Dinner – Same format as brunch

8:00 PM

Satsang

10:30 PM

Lights Out

Whew, sounds like a full schedule, and it is. In our outside life, we would be exhausted after such a busy day. In the ashram though, you are charged with spiritual inspiration which recharges your prana for the whole day. Because your body, mind and spirit are purifying, your ability to perform is heightened beyond your “normal” capacity.

It is a beautiful experience, one which will feed your soul and inspire your actions for the better.

Om Shanti.

Karma Yoga in Kerala

20 Jan

 

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Om Namah Shivaya

Thank you for reading and following my blog. I hope to post more often, unfortunately the internet does not work well where I am staying.

Currently I am living and doing Karma Yoga (selfless service) at a yoga ashram in Kerala India.

“The first step in the spiritual path is selfless service of humanity. Selfless service is the watchword along the road to salvation. Selfless service of humanity prepares the aspirant for the attainment of cosmic consciousness, or the life of oneness or unity with the higher power.

Through selfless service and charity, develop the heart and cleanse the lower mind. Purify your heart by selfless and humble service of the poor and the afflicted, and make it a fit abode for God to dwell. Selfless service alone can purify your heart and fill it with divine virtues. Only the pure in heart will have the vision of God (the universe, one-ness, Buddha, Allah, Jesus, whatever name you give it).

Grow in love, purity, and self-sacrifice. Live for others. You will attain the state of blessedness. Selfless service and cosmic love are the Ganga and the Yamuna that irrigate the field of the human heart and enable the rich harvest of peace, joy, prosperity, and immortality to be reaped.”

Swami Sivananda

Happiness is Within

15 Jan

Happiness? Happiness – ananda, bliss – is not outside, it is within. The vacuum comes from looking for happiness outside.

It is like the woman who accidentally drops her needle. She goes outside and starts searching for the lost needle. Her friend comes by, ‘what are you doing?’

‘Oh I lost my needle. I am looking for it.’

‘Where did you loose it?’

‘I lost it in my hut.’

‘Why are you searching outside then?’

‘There is no light in my hut. I am searching outside because there is light here.’

This is exactly what happens to all of us. The kingdom of heaven is within, but we think it is somewhere in Las Vegas, or New York, or London.

 

Swami Vishnudevananda

Beautiful India

11 Jan

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Om!

I am currently on a spiritual journey of India, South East Asia and beyond. I look forward to posting images and inspirations from my travels.

I look forward to sharing my insights with you. Please keep checking back as the internet is on island time.

Namaste.

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