Friday, 18 May 2018

Summer 2018

It's summer vacation time again and time for another road trip. This year the plan was to visit Amritsar, Dalhousie, Dharamshala, and Shimla.

Following was the itinerary that was decided for this trip.
  1. 07-April-2018 Day 1 -- Bengaluru to Nagpur
  2. 08-April-2018 Day 2 -- Nagpur to Noida
  3. 09-April-2018 Day 3 -- Break in Noida, mostly rest day
  4. 10-April-2018 Day 4 -- Noida to Amritsar and Amritsar Local sightseeing
  5. 11-April-2018 Day 5 -- Amritsar Local and Wagah Border
  6. 12-April-2018 Day 6 -- Amritsar to Dalhousie
  7. 13-April-2018 Day 7 -- Dalhousie Local
  8. 14-April-2018 Day 8 -- Dalhousie Local and Khajjiar
  9. 15-April-2018 Day 9 -- Dalhousie to Mcleod Ganj
  10. 16-April-2018 Day 10 -- Mcleod Ganj and Dharamshala Local
  11. 17-April-2018 Day 11 -- Mcleod Ganj to Shimla and The Mall
  12. 18-April-2018 Day 12 -- Shimla Local
  13. 19-April-2018 Day 13 -- Shimla to Noida
  14. 20-April-2018 Day 14 -- Noida to Mitaoli, Padavali, Bateswar and Gwalior
  15. 21-April-2018 Day 15 -- Gwalior to Bhopal
  16. 22-April-2018 to 27-April-2018 due to some personal work to be taken care off, the drive was suspended in Bhopal for a week.
  17. 28-April-2018 Day 22 -- Bhopal to Nagpur
  18. 29-April-2018 Day 23 -- Nagpur to Bengaluru
The was a trip that I enjoyed a lot. We saw places that were very different than each other and offered something interesting to view.

During the trip, we drove a distance of 6065 kilometers in approximately 107 hours. Approximately 610 liters of diesel was used up. Approximate toll amounts were more than Rs. 4000/-. 

Summer 2018 -- Day 23

05:35 AM We left the hotel.

06:54 AM Stopped at Wadki for a cup of tea.
10:25 AM Stopped at Divya Resort and Restaurant for brunch.
1:32 PM Stopped at M Food Court for a small break.
2:15 PM Stopped at Cafe Coffee Day at Sankalamaddi in Stop N Go Food court for lunch.
5:10 PM Stopped at Hotel Blue Moon Highway food court for break.
9:45 PM Arrived in Bengaluru.

Summer 2018 -- Day 22


It was time to head back to Bengaluru. We decided to do the return journey in two stretches.
1:50 PM We started from Bhopal towards Bengaluru.
4:58 PM We stopped at Hotel Meghna and Restaurant near Betul.
9:00 PM We reached Nagpur. We checked into hotel Urban Hermitage. Here is our review of the hotel.

Summer 2018 -- Day 15

10:10 AM We left the hotel after breakfast.

12:08 PM Stopped at Tourist Motel in Datia for a break.
2:15 PM Stopped at Highway Dhaba near Lalitpur. The dhaba was pretty basic one and the food was just ordinary.
6:20 PM Arrived in Bhopal.

Summer 2018 -- Day 14

10:45 AM We started from Noida, quickly got on to Yamuna Expressway. We had planned on leaving earlier but we got delayed and we ran the risk of sun-set before we could reach today's destination.
11:45 AM Stopped at the rest area on YEW for a break and coffee.
Since we were running late, we decided to skip Lunch and have a driving lunch in the car itself so that we can give us enough time to see all the place that we had planned on seeing.
4:20 PM We reached Mitaoli or Mitavali. This is where one sees a circular temple.

The temple at Mitaoli located on an isolated hillock is known as Ekottarso Mahadeva Temple among the local inhabitants. The place of this temple is rather peculiar and is very much similar to the layout plan of Chausath Yogini temples which contain cells in a circle around the main temple similar to the one located at Bheraghat near Jabalpur.
The temple has an entrance from the east and contains small cells against a pillared verandah. Some of these cells contain sivalingas. The main shrine in the center is placed on a raised circular plinth and has a Siva Linga. On the basis of the inscription, this temple was constructed in 1323 AD by Maharaja Devapala. At the foothill of the temple, some life-sized stone sculptures of Kushana period, adorned with heavy ornaments have been recovered which are now displayed in the archaeological museum, Gwalior Fort, Gwalior.
We left Mitaoli temple at 4:56 PM  for Padhavali temple which is a 6-minute drive away.
5:02 PM We arrived in Padhavali temple.

The temple of Garhi Padhavali originally consisted of Sanctum Sanctorum and Mandapa, which is mostly obliterated except ornately designed Mukhamandapa, standard on the entrance of the temple.  Built over a considerable raised Adhisthana, it might be dedicated to Siva, as evident from the huge Nandi found from the temple ruins. The interior of the structure is richly carved with designed, friezes of sculptures of various divinities of Brahmanical pantheon -- Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwar, Surya, Ganesha, Chandi, and incarnations of Vishnu. The reliefs also narrate the mythological story from the epics and Puranas. The carvings reflect the art and culture of the period.
The study of the original feature of the temple shows, it was built during 10th century AD. Later on, the temple was fortified by the rulers of Jat Ranas of Gohad during 19th century AD.
We left Padavali at 5:23 PM towards Bateswar temples which is a 5-minute drive from padavali.
5:33 PM We arrived in Bateswar group of temples.

A group of ruined temples spread over the western slope of an isolated hill is located south-west of Padavali village in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh. Made of stone masonry, the ruins comprised of the temple remains, gateways, stepped tanks, architectural members, Amalakas, Brahmanical icons etc. This group of temples can be stylistically ascribed to post-Gupta to early Pratihara period ranging from 6th to 9th century AD. It shows the early stages of development of temple art. The earliest group of temples are having sanctum proper with flat roof while the temples of later phases are possessed with curvilinear shikhara over the sanctums. One of the surviving temples, dedicated to Lord Siva known as Bhuteswara temple, shows all the features of Pratihara art.
Some of the temples are reconstructed by the archaeological survey of India recently in its original form and renovated most of the structures.
This site has hundreds of temples and their remains. We spent almost an hour here. By this time sun had almost set and we left the place of the hotel in Gwalior.
We had booked ourselves on Hotel Deo Bagh. Here is our review of the place.

Summer 2018 -- Day 13

The hotel was not willing to serve breakfast before 9AM, so we decided to leave early and catch breakfast somewhere on the way. It was better to get out of Shimla before traffic built up.

8:23 AM We found Hotel names Andaz just on the highway as we got out of Shimla town and we stopped there to have breakfast.
10:00 AM We entered Solan. There seems to be an under-construction bypass in Solan still it took quite some time to cross the town.
11:00 AM Crossed the Kalka town
11:30 AM Crossed Panchkula
12:00 PM Crossed Ambala
12:45 PM Stopped at Burger King for a small break.

2:55 PM Stopped at Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba for Lunch
5:00 PM Arrived in Noida. This was the halt for the day.

Summer 2018 -- Day 12

The day was reserved for local sightseeing. We started from the hotel after breakfast.
10:45 AM We stopped at the amusement park, frankly it was a waste of time. It is good for somebody who has never been to an amusement park but otherwise it is best to skip this place.

We left the amusement park onwards to Kufri.
12:00 PM We arrived at Kufri. It is a setup designed to fleece the money from tourists. You have to mandatorily rent a horse. I understand the point of horses being made available for people who can't walk but making is mandatory is really not right.
The place itself is set up like another amusement park. There are some stalls for food and some games.
The only thing that I found marginally interesting was the go-karting course which is claimed to a highest go-karting course.

We spent a couple of hours here and by the time we were back to the car park, it was already 2:30 PM.
We were now running out of time, we made a dash to Army Heritage Museum. It is one of the best museums dedicated to the army that I have seen in India. The amount of information available in the museum is just phenomenal and it is worth a visit anytime anybody is around the place. Here are some of the interesting stuff that I gathered from the museum.

The Indian Army Ethos

The moral force of a nation evolves from its national character and its philosophy in which was over an extended period of time. The Bharat of ancient times and the India of today is no exception. The Indian Army draws its ethos from the philosophy of the society that it serves and of which it is an integral part.
The richness of India's resources, the diversity of its culture, the variety of its natural beauty comma and its mystique combined to attract a succession of invaders. Most of the invaders settled down in India, intermingled with the population and got assimilated, enriched its culture and became an integral part of India and prepared to face the next Invaders. Thus, over a period of time, India became a multi-racial, multi-religious multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic country developing her own composite philosophy, culture, and ethos of which a strong characteristic was unity in diversity.
The central idea of the old Indian civilization or Indo Aryan culture was that of Dharma which was a conception of obligations, and of the discharge of one's duties to oneself and to the others. If a soldier did his duty and was ethically right in his action, the right consequences would inevitably follow. The Indian Army of today still believes in the ethics of working for the common good of society in a spirit of sacrifice with a focus on battalion Regiment and country.
The Ramayana and Mahabharata were sources of inspiration in ancient times of the values of duty, truth, honor, courage, and self-sacrifice. There are probably very few epics in the world that have exercised such a continuous and pervasive influence on the minds of the masses as these two works. Strangely, these epics continue to stimulate the people of India with these underlying values through the passage of more than 2000 years and are best exemplified by the spirit, culture, and ethos of the Indian Army of today.
Other sources that have fashioned the contours of the philosophy and ethos of the soldiers are the legends of Poros, Chandragupta, Ashoka, tales of chivalry, and heroism of the Rajputs, Chalukyas Cholas, Pandyas, and Cheras, Legend of Chattrapati Shivaji, Guru Gobind Singh amongst others.

Ancient Military Psychology

A deep psychological insight into the making of the Indian Military mind reveals that:-

  1. The Indian military tradition has relied upon the large standing armies. In her phases of political unity, she has settled for the large standing army of an Imperial nature. The Mauryan armies of Chandragupta and Ashoka were such armies. So were the armies of the imperial Guptas than later the Mughals. The British Indian Army of second world war at 2.5 million when was the largest volunteer army in the world history. At 1.2 million men today, Indian Army the second largest wall in the army in the world.
  2. Indian Army from the Mahabharata period onwards has been combined armed forces. They had infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants. These were trained to fight in well-known formations with set piece battle drills calls Vyuhas.
  3. The Indian defensive tradition has been centred around Fort, the Garh or Quila. The strongest point that fight to the bitter end against a besieging army. The Point and not the Line therefore is the Indian military inheritance in defence.
  4. A flaw in the Indian military makeup has been its chivalry and reliance upon the direct as opposed to indirect approach in military strategy.
  5.  The Indian military tradition is replete with heroic sagas of famous forts Chittorgarh, Singhgarh,  Chhattisgarh, and scores of others that dot the Indian landscape. It is in nodal points strong points that Indian troops give their very best fighting a defensive battle.
  6. Indian philosophy of yoga places emphasis on skill in action. This has been the basis of the highly professional attitude of the Indian Army.
  7. To the Indian soldiers, skill in action has long been an end in itself. He gave his life in the first and second world war not out of some mercenary zeal (He was hopelessly poorly paid) but because of his in innate cultural conditioning for bravery in combat.
The Indian soldiers deeply ingrained sense of honor or Izzat and of being true to his salt can be traced back directly to the Bhishma's and Dronacharya's decision to fight for Duryodhana regardless of personal predilections. To them, Duryodhana personified the state of Hastinapur and they would be loyal to their salt come what may.
The Indian soldier is always with an excellent fighting material.

Ancient Military Thinking

Many centuries before Machiavelli (1469-1523) there was an Indian guide to statecraft. It was called the Arthashastra and attributed to Emperor Chandragupta Maurya's (324-300 BC) formidable mentor and minister Kautilya alias Chanakya or Vishnugupta. This is the oldest treatise on the subject available to us. However, Kautilya in his work refers to several authors of the subjects amongst them being Usanas, Brihaspati, and bharadwaja.
Of a total of 15 books in the Arthashastra, three books deal directly with military matters, while some of the Other books also have a bearing on 'Dandaniti' (Warfare). The part dealing with military science is said to have been lost The military part of Arthashastra is of immense value. For his time Kautilya wrote a monumental work.
The Arthshastra had a profound influence on the further development of military doctrine and practical conduct of battles in ancient India. It became a bible which succeeding teachers of military science (Dandaniti) felt compelled to respect and follow without question.
Successive kongs ignored development in the art of War and treated Kautilya's work as gospel truth. Such loyalty bred extreme conservatism in the military doctrine and prevented progress and innovation. They should have taken his percepts principles and practices on the art of war as the basis to build upon and improve upon them for future wars.

Ethos of Indian Army Today

The Indian Army soldier is infused by a set of values that makes the soldier willingly face a plethora of challenges and difficulties, and when the call may come, to give the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the nation. The ethos of the Indian Army is ingrained in all soldiers with an unwavering will to succeed, accepting their grave responsibility and an unbridled ability to give their lives for others; confident that in return the nation will look after them and their families.  The values of Army infused in the soldier through the years of training are enumerated below:-
Espirit de Corps The spirit of comradeship and brotherhood of the brave, regardless of caste, creed or religion. The motto is "One for all and all for one".
Spirit of Selfless Sacrifice The tradition is never to question, but to do or die for the three Ns; Naam i.e. name/honour of the Unit/Army/Nation,  Namak (salt) that is loyalty to the nation, and Nishan i.e. the insignia or the flag of the Unit/Regiment/Army/Nation which the soldiers hold afloat willingly.
Valour Fearlessness in combat and in the face of the enemy even when fighting against great odds or even when facing sure death.
Non-discrimination The Indian Army does not discriminate on account of caste, creed or religion. A soldier is a soldier first and anything else later. He prays under a common roof. It is this unique character which makes him bind in a team despite such diversity.

Fairness and Honesty The spirit of honesty and fair play. He fights for the Just cause that extends even to the enemy(prisoner or wounded).
Discipline and integrity Discipline and integrity impart the feeling of Patriotism, honesty, and courage under all circumstances, however strong be the provocation otherwise.
Fidelity, Honour, and Courage He is a man on whose shoulders lies the honor and integrity of his Nation. He knows that he is a last line of defense and he cannot fail the nation.
Death to Dishonour A close bond among soldiers forces them to choose death to dishonour. The concept of Izzat(honour) in the clan/unit enables them to shun the fear of death; to be call coward in the peer group is worse than death.

I have hundreds of photos and pages of information. It will probably fill up pages. Needless to say, it was an amazing experience.
It was already getting late so we made a dash to reach Indian Institute of Advanced Studies or Viceregal Lodge. This place allows very controlled tours since the place is still an active institute and there is no photography allowed inside.

We left the place and decided to go to the Mall one last time.

Most of the shops pretty much close down by 10pm, we walked back to the hotel.