Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Diwali Celebrations in the Badrinath Temple


A chilly wintry breeze let out by the roaring Alaknanda, colorful lights glowing like a million glowworms and the festive excitement of the biggest of all Hindu festivals – Diwali, the festival of lights – floating in the air…

The Bazaars of Badrinath selling various souvenirs in Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand
Shops lit up for the evening in the lane towards the Badrinath Temple

These sights of the glittering Badrinath Temple coupled with the rhythmic musical beats from the clanging temple bells only added magic to this beautiful evening in the Himalayas as I took a quick glance at my watch – 5.30 pm. The Arti coupon read – ‘Puja ka samay 6.30’ (Prayer to start at 6.30 pm) and I was glad I was here well before time.

A side view of the Badrinath Temple on the Diwali night in Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand
The Badrinath Temple all decked up for the Diwali Night

A colorful rangoli decorated the premises of the temple; the evening exuded a radiant vivacity due to the embers flowing around as people burst crackers and children jumped in joy! Every single soul out there was seen reveling in the ecstasy of the occasion in his own way.

A colorful Rangoli decorating the courtyard of The Badrinath Temple
A colorful Rangoli decorating the veranda of the Badrinath Temple.
(Rangolis are patterns drawn on the floors)

Dazzling display of fireworks outside the Badrinath Temple in the Garhwal Himalayas
Firecrackers distilling the darkness outside the Badrinath Temple

As I made my way towards the main temple entrance, I looked at the paper bag, clutched carefully and tightly in my hands, which my mom had given to me a few minutes earlier – earthen diyas (lamps), ghee and wicks – this was her small Diwali preparation for the night.

A glimpse of the Badrinath Temple on the Diwali night in Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand

A divine glow greeted us as we stepped in the temple hall. Complete darkness had befallen and this being a no moon night (amavasya), the glimmer from the innumerable candles and diyas seemed to radiate the dark surroundings even more. The door of the mandap was closed but that did not deter the fervor of the devotees. The temple was alive with the enthusiasm of the devotees – groups of families from all parts of the India and abroad too - who had come in good numbers to celebrate the festival with their dear Lord. We lit the diyas my mother had bought and joined in the arti (prayer) queue. Amid all the chatters, there was a constant hum, I noticed from the continuous chanting of shlokas, from singing of devotional hymns and from recitation of prayers. Everybody was absorbed in their respective activities while waiting with impatient anticipation for the temple door to open. Somehow that feeling of loneliness, of being away from relatives and friends on this day receded and was overridden by the joyous feeling of being a part of one large family.

The Badrinath Temple glowing in the colorful Diwali lights in Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand

Meanwhile a lot of time had passed by now and the gatekeeper motioned us to get up. A clear indication the gates were about to open. Devotees packed in their belongings and stood up swiftly. Finally the big wooden gates were pushed back and we were let in one by one without any jostling and pushing. The mandap was spic and span, very well readied to receive ‘His’ beloved devotees. Once in, I quickly secured my seat somewhere in the middle which gave me a clear vision of the Lord. I felt really lucky then as there were many who were left standing towards the corners of the room. Gradually, the room packed up completely. The door was shut closed.

The Home of Lord BadriVishal on the Diwali Night in Badrinath in Uttarakhand

I fixed my gaze towards the luminous sanctum area. Oil lamps and diyas were giving it a holy radiant glow that of an order of magnitude so high that it cannot be described in mortal words. The jeweled black stone of Lord BadriVishal sat in a meditative pose along with the other deities presiding over His assembled bhaktas. Pin drop silence filled the room. All eyes were fixed towards the ‘Beloved’… the sense of awe, which had been difficult to overcome throughout our time in the temple, was ever so more now…

The Badrinath Temple glowing in Diwali lights in Uttarakhand

The lull was finally broken by the loud cheer of ‘Bolo BadriVishal ki Jai’ by the Rawal priest and all of us followed suit. He lit a huge lamp, the temple bells started clanging and the arti started…

How to describe it…? The arti might have been slow, graceful and ornate but one could feel the power just beneath the surface. The exquisite melodies formed by the beats resonated within the confines… but it also triggered emotions somehow somewhere instead of just vanishing into a void!

This was not a mandap anymore. It had transformed to something bigger…and even more beautiful… a beautiful space where everyone had become one – ONE BIG FAMILY - united in devotion with smiles and tears…everyone submerged in an ocean of peace and divinity.

Those moments I spent in the hall were incredibly precious…Yes, I did feel connected to that something that unites us all, the beauty, the love…Yes, I did feel transcended to a pure world… Yes, I did feel the presence of God…

The Badrinath Temple at night in Uttarakhand

After spending a good 4 hrs in the temple, I walked through the temple lanes back towards my hotel. A sense of serenity seemed to prevail here. The temple lights soon became hazy in the distance. But the spark of light that it had ignited within me continued to glow…

A Bit more on How Diwali is celebrated, Goddess Laxmi and my Blogger friend's query…


( Note : A couple of months back, my blogger friend ...Petty Witter from Pen and Paper had requested me to put up a post on Goddess Laxmi. Though I couldn't do it then, but since Diwali is related to the Goddess, I thought of extending this post as a reply to her query. I sincerely apologize for the delay in answering your question Tracy.)

Significance of Diwali


The festival of Diwali holds a very significant place in the Hindu calendar. Also known as Dipavali or the festival of lights, Diwali which spans over 5 days involves the lighting of small earthen lamps (diyas or divas) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. The day also honors the return of Lord Rama along with His wife, Sita and His brother, Lakshman from His fourteen year long exile after defeating the demon king Ravana.

Goddess Laxmi

In the modern context, the festival brings along loads of joy, festivities, celebrations and not to forget goodies and sweets too for one and all. It is also special because this is the time when Goddess Laxmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu embodying auspiciousness, beauty, peace and wisdom, wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual, leaves Her heavenly abode and descends on earth to bestow Her blessings on mankind.

Goddess Laxmi photograph
Goddess Laxmi

Cleanliness attracts Her and She steps only in those houses that are pure, hence, people (even the laziest ones, including me!) get down to cleaning their houses well in advance, shopping of prayer items and new clothes, etc is done.

A tray full of litearthen diyas on the night of the Diwali pujan
A tray full of earthen diyas lit up for the Diwali Pujan (Prayer)

Once the festival days kickstart, crackers are burst and Diyas are lit to illuminate Her path and almost everything is decorated with lanterns and lights. Businessmen start off their new financial account books in the hope of a prosperous and a fruitful year ahead.

Goddess Laxmi dislikes people praying to Her solely for monetary gains and never comes to them, so one should always pray to Her with a sincere and a pure heart.


ISKCON Temple in Delhi
A Life size idol of Lord Vishnu with Goddess Laxmi at ISKCON Temple in Delhi

Always seen by the feet of Lord Vishnu, She likes Her Husband’s devotees and whoever pleases Lord Vishnu gets Her favorable blessings too. This also explains why the sacredness of Badrinath, the abode of Lord Vishnu, which is so prominent for the Hindus the year round becomes even more important on this day.

Diwali And Me

For me, Diwali has always been about wearing new clothes, starting off the day by a visit to the local temple, decorating the house with a beautiful rangoli, adorning the windows with colorful lights that twinkle ever so brightly in the dark of the night, taking the blessings of the elders in the house and binging on many of the sweets and other delicacies that are prepared specially for the day.

Diwali fireworks lighting up the dark sky
Life should be a continuous celebration... the whole year around.
Only then you can grow up and blossom - Osho

In the evenings, comes the best part… after offering my prayers to the Goddess, I sit on the balcony staring in the sky… it gets painted with sparks intermittently and there is quite a lot of noise too but I still can find a lot of peace… it probably emanates from the divine glow of the innumerable diyas and... I like to lose myself in it…

I would also love to know, If you live in India how do you celebrate Diwali in your community and if you live outside, have you ever witnessed Diwali celebrations in your part of the world?

Previous posts from this trip -

78 comments:

  1. Dear arati
    So the great travel is over...I am having a sad feeling as I have been travelling with you !! Very few people are there at Badri on Diwali day..so your writing is a great treat to enjoy Diwali in Badri. I like the detailed write up on other aspects ...Have a nice day

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  2. wow. everything looks so festive. i like celebrations that have meaning beyond the pomp and pageantry, like how you describe the diwali festival.

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  3. wow. everything looks so festive. i like celebrations that have meaning beyond the pomp and pageantry, like how you describe the diwali festival.

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  4. Great celebration.I don't have any idea how to celebrate if I live in India.
    So I'll imitate other people living there and try to fit in the community.:)

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  5. Beautiful clicks and very informative post!! Usually in Orissa, Diwali is associated with Kali Puja unlike other parts of the country where Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped!!

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  6. Nice coverage of Diwali in Badrinath Arti, with plenty of pics. Kudos

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  7. Superr is all that I have to say. Your blog reaches to many and passing on all detailed info is something I appreciate.

    Well, in the vicinities of Badrinath temple, you are engulfed with a different feel as though you are somewhere, a moment to pray for all your sins, a moment of togetherness with the ultimate form of god, a moment of ecstasy, a moment you cant describe, a moment to cherish, such is the power of the Lord! Jai Badri Vishal.

    Traditionally Deepavali is associated for us with Cleaning of the house, Oil baths, New clothes, Puja's, Crackers and of course Diyas everywhere...
    As the years have progressed, I feel sad that the festive atmosphere is somewhat diminished and is more of a calendar activity that everyone goes through.
    Personally, I have stopped lighting crackers for their noise and toxin pollution for quite a few years now, but love capturing them on my cam!

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  8. Oh my! Badrinath Temple's so beautiful lighted up. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. @ Ushnish
    Yes Ushnishda, the Char Dham trip is almost over... A few more posts left to round up the trip...
    Do visit the next post on Neelkanth Peak.

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  10. @ Authenticoriyafood
    Yes in the West Bengal region Goddess Kali is revered... I have visited the Ma Kali Temple in Kolkata.

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  11. @ Santosh
    To be in Badrinath at any time is a great feeling but to be there on Diwali night is just something else...
    And even I have stopped lighting crackers long ago but I do enjoy watching them decorate the sky...

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  12. wow, that would have been a scintillating experience :)

    Weakest Link

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  13. Wow , nice post . festival season is just about begin in few days .

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  14. Very informative and very nicely written

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  15. This is awesome, the description of festival, colorful pictures, felt I was also in the mandap.

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  16. i loved my visit to Badrinath....unfortunately it wasn't diwali...this is awesome...the lights..the crackers...loved it...

    Cheers!
    SUB

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  17. What a beautiful celebration Arti! It must be great to be a part of all this - light and renewal! Am dreaming along! xx

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  18. What a wonderful experience!!! I hope I get to go there during diwali too!

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  19. @ Anu
    Hope your wish is fulfilled and I travel there again through your post:)

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  20. @ ALL
    Thank you for your truly uplifting and motivational comments. Really appreciate each one of them.

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  21. What superb photos and what a fascinating, beautiful celebration, Arti! Thank you so much for sharing the beauty and information with us with us! Fantastic! Hope your week is going well! Enjoy!

    Sylvia

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  22. Award is waiting for you my dear :)

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  23. Amazing pictures as usual and great narration. The picture of rangoli with diyas is just stunning:) And good explanation on Goddess Laxmi.

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  24. Arti, I found your post about the celebration of Diwali very interesting. I like when you explain some of the words you use which I wouldn't otherwise understand: "Rangolis are patterns drawn on the floors." You write so movingly of the sacredness of this festival both for yourself and for other worshipers.

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  25. These re very good pictures and I like the festival mood. I also liked all the information, thanks for sharing this.

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  26. well this is all so unfamiliar to me and I love learning about it through your writings and photos. I've never experienced anything like it, and because of the beautiful manner in which you've shared this, I hope to experience it for myself some day. thanks for this wonderful post Arti. it's truly lifted me up today. and that's splendid!!!

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  27. Hello, Arti.
    Very interesting celebration and beautiful photos. A tray full of earthen diyas lit up is a holly decoration for the hope of a prosperous and a fruitful year ahead. Personally, the small earthen tray in shape of flower next to the big tray catches my eyes. It is lovely.
    Have a good week.
    Tomoko.

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  28. @ ALL
    Thanks for this amazing response for the DIWALI post. I was a bit skeptical about posting it because the festival is still some months away.

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  29. the informative post and clicks of diwali in badrinath are super ,beautiful
    thanks for posting on my post keep visiting

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  30. 'Colorful lights glowing like a million glowworms' - what a magical sentence, it summed this post up beautifully. All those colours, what an amazing festival and it was so generous and kind of you to share your thoughts on what it meant to you personally.

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  31. Oh my, how splendid, your experience...this unity of all, this connectedness to all. Truly a beautiful post. I'm visiting because you posted a sweet comment on our family blog...your blog is a lovely discovery for me.

    I'll check back in for more of your India posts.

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  32. Wow - such marvellous shots of light and celebration!

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  33. Arti, I’ve been always amazed with your way of travel telling. I wish I could introduce my experience that way. Regarding the photos, this time I’m impressed with light, illuminated temple, light of earthen diyas, and fireworks. They look symbolically glowing. Thank you for sharing this great celebration.

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  34. Excellent photos! They make me feel that I am present there. Hariharan Valady

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  35. Arti,
    At the outset, let me say that your words describe your beautiful and gracious soul. The pictures are just amazing and your commentary on diwali celebrations in the temple seemed so breathtaking. Celebrating diwali in divine company would certainly have been a soul immersing experience. Thanks for sharing.
    You may like to visit my latest post-http://dharbarkha.blogspot.com/2011/07/if-education-was.html

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  36. I am not a great reader of travelogues but something about your blog pulls me here everyday.. Your photos are good and also the narration is in good English which makes reading it a pleasure. I feel you should compile your articles into a e-book for publication...

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  37. Hi Arti,
    your blog is amazing, full of precious unformations about india.
    I think this country fascinating .
    Thank you for your visit on my blog.
    I am already following you.
    Have a great weekende.Angela
    www.alemanhaporquenao.com

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  38. Breath taking photos... even your article is great...

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  39. What an experience! Do you go to this every year? I have never before seen a temple lit up with neon, how strange, yet beautiful! How many do you think went in? Did everyone manage to get in? Did you take that beautiful fireworks picture?

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  40. @ Petty Witter
    I was waiting for your comment, Tracy, as the second part of this post was added as a part of the question asked by you.

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  41. Arti, Thank you for taking me to such a beautiful tour. Whenever I visit your site, I am always amazed with its deep spirituality. It is the great soothing to my soul. Illuminated temples are so impressive and symbolic. When I wrote my blog on lotus flowers, I read some myths about Vishnu and Laxmi. It was a beautiful story, isn’t it?
    Thank you for posting this.
    Have a nice weekend.

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  42. @ stardust
    If you are impressed by my way of travel telling then its a big compliment for me as I love the way you present your posts!! Glad you like my blog:)

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  43. @ Farila
    Thanks for those kind words... Such words motivate me to do better each time. And the suggestion about an e book is great but I dont know how to go about it!

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  44. @ Ginny
    No Ginny this was my first time that I celebrated Diwali in Badrinath. And there were about 40-50 people in the temple room for the Arti and only those who had taken the coupon could attend it.
    I did not click that fireworks pic, its from google search. Rest of the pics are mine.

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  45. @ ALL
    Thanks for those wonderful comments. It was surely a wonderful experience to celebrate Diwali in the holy town Badrinath. Hope and Wish I could be there every year...

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  46. Hi, Arti. I have not seen a Diwali celebration personally. Thanks a lot for sharing this story. :)

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  47. Love the lights--looks like a lot of fun!

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  48. What a place to celebrate Diwali.. Incredible post!

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  49. Thanks for sharing this wonderful celebration! Your night photos are beautiful -- I love those lights. And that floor decoration (I could hardly believe it was on a floor) is just great. Thank you for taking us along on the journey as you celebrate this Holy day..

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  50. Ganga Aarti at Haridwar and Rishikesh was an out of this world experience for me so i could imagine how special this Diwali celebration at Badrinath must have been for you.Lucky you .Thanks a lot for sharing this marvelous post :)Have a great Sunday.

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  51. Very nice post.
    Thank you for visit my blog.

    Regards!

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  52. Hi Aarti

    This is amazing way to celebrate diwali with the lord far away from the city ... I can imagine if you have spent 4 hrs in the temple how blissfull it would have been ... enjoyed every bit of your experience thanks for sharing



    Super Yummy Recipes

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  53. I didn't know about the great celebration,Diwali.
    I was impressed Laxmi or mysterious and spritual ritual on the night.
    You felt existence of God. That amazing!
    Thank you for sharing Indian culture.
    Have a nice week.

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  54. amazing pics....thanks for sharing

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  55. Arthi Thanks so much for the support you show its really grt to earn a friend like u in the blogging world....Regarding this post it is a very special one I was so happy to c all these amazing pictures...Diwali is one occasion Where in I miss India dearly (of course I miss all the time)....It was truely an amazing post with beautiful pic which put me in festive mood...U too have a lovely week:)

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  56. Diwali is and always has been my most fav festival ~ it was really nice to see how beautifully it is celebrated in one of the most auspicious places in the country! breathtaking pictures!

    PS ~ Did I mention you are a delight to read, you should seriously consider writing.
    US Masala

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  57. @ Sallie
    The designs where different patterns are made is known as Rangoli. It is considered very auspicious, in some villages in India, the womenfolk make these every morning!!

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  58. @ kavita
    Yes the Ganga Arti in Haridwar and Rishikesh are soul stirring experiences too...

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  59. @ sarah
    Thanks for liking the post, Diwali is one big festival in India where we have holidays for weeks!!

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  60. @ Sushma
    You were my first real follower, you might not know it! I did not get any comments or visitors, at that time you wrote consistently...
    Thanks for being there with me in my journeys...
    And Yes the word Diwali itself puts us in a festive mood!!

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  61. @aipi Thanks for the huge compliment dear... I really doubt if I have any talent in writing, but yes your motivational words do inspire me to keep giving my best always...Thank you very very much for those lovely words, you made my day :)

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  62. what an interesting post Arti, and great photos, it's good to be able to visit from afar. thankyou. Sue

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  63. Hello again, Arti. I'm glad you like my blog, too.

    Without becoming each other's follower, we have been visited each other's blog in turn constantly. I had thought that's just fine. On a second thought, I'll become your follower to show I love your blog. See you next time.

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  64. detailed post with beautiful pics

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  65. Hi
    Congratulations! The Directory of Best Indian Blogs is out and your blog figures in that. We thought, in case you have not seen it yet, let's tell you about it.
    Since all blogs do not have emails clearly mentioned, we have taken the liberty of telling you of this by making a comment on your latest blogpost. Hope, you don't mind it.
    Happy blogging!
    In case, for any reason, you want your blog not to be included in the Directory, kindly send an email at kp.nd.2008@gmail.com
    ITB team

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  66. Very nice decorations for Deepavali.

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  67. a great post Aarti, very well written. I am not much into reading of travelogues . but like dyour narration.. and joined your site too.

    www.readitt.in ( the e magazine)

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  68. Diwali is always bright and beautiful but on your blog is has shone the brightest... Wonderful Blog as usual.

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  69. Your posts keep inspiring me to go for a full fledged tour to Uttarakhand.. I will plan that next yr for sure...

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  70. @ Shrinidhi Hande
    I tried to put up most of the pics of th Temple, some are from different angles. More pics give more feel of the place.

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  71. Great Narrative,Arti! Many a times I have felt overwhelming emotions esp when one is at the temple in front of the Lord and the environment is such that it's bursting with holiness and purity. One does feel one with God!
    Wonderfully written and wonderful experience:)

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  72. Just the pics gave me a different high! esp. the first pic of the mountains and the then the temple. Awesome. Aye Zindagi!

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  73. Colorful and Happy-happy feeling after reading this post :)

    As always images were too good!

    Cheers! :)

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  74. Wow!! How beautifully you celebrated this beautiful festival!! Your post transported me to the place....

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