Friday, April 19, 2019

Stepping Into Vipassana: The Admission Process (An Introduction)

Sometimes you need to take a break from everyone and spend time alone,
to experience, appreciate and love yourself.

― Robert Tew.

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It’s been close to a month since the completion of my 10 day course in Vipassana and looking back now, I feel amazed (actually, somewhat amused) at the sequence of events that led me to mustering up the courage of taking it up – and from taking it up I mean not just doing the course for those 10 days but also, more so, about the period where I, in fact, felt the urge to fill up the form, then contemplating on whether this was something I could really do, and then taking that final step – of actually doing it!

How / Where Did It All Start?


So, it all started with one random email that I received exactly during this time, one year back. The email was from Vipassana’s PR executive inviting me to visit the Global Vipassana Pagoda in Gorai, one of the seven wonders of Maharashtra, and a symbol of peace and harmony.

Having visited the Pagoda already once, thanks to no one else but my father, I was intrigued by the invitation and though I put it in the backburner for sometime later, the invite never did go out of my mind.

As they say, life is a journey.

And, the things we feel (having completed the course now, I will just call them as Guruji called it… sensations) as a result of the ‘unknown, unseen, outside forces’ operating in our life --- these sensations are nothing but roadmaps in our journey towards a better, healthier, happy life and when acknowledged, recognized and seen, as they are, for what they are, we are propelled to taking the necessary action to expand our boundaries and step out of our comfort zones for our own higher good.

And so sometime in September last year, when I’d feel the intense heat of one such sensation, this invite came to the fore of my mind and planted a tiny seed called Vipassanā (or Vipaśyanā).

Stepping In An Unknown Territory.


Nourished by curiosity, the seed germinated a little in the month of December 2018, when I filled their online form answering questions ranging from my personal to work profile to the condition of my medical status in a bid to secure admission in one of their 10 day long ‘Executive Course’ to be held in the month of March 2019.

Then, I hadn’t the slightest of clue of what I was entering into, of what the technique of Vipassana was about or how (or if!) these 10 days were going to have any impact on my life. What I did know was that it had something to do with meditation / yoga and that I had to completely be cut off digitally and physically for those 10 days – from everyone I knew.

Almost everything else was unknown… unknown… and yet known, and somewhat familiar in some inexplicable way.

Perhaps, it was this very understanding of stepping into an unknown territory that had captivated my attention in the first place such that I’d filled the form the very first thing in the morning on the day registrations for the March course had opened.

This Journey Is Yours… And It is All Alone.


I asked people in my family if anyone wished to accompany but no one came forward citing one reason or the other, not even my father (who I was secretly hoping would) – this heightened my hesitation a bit but despite the hesitation, I settled on going forward with it, alone.

Around 20 days later after submitting the form, I received an email which came with an added CTA. The CTA required me to confirm my attendance for the course within the next 10 days since there were many people who were waiting in the queue.

The CTA popped open a few questions that loomed right in my face:

What if there's a sudden travel plan popping up at that time?
What if I fall ill or one of my family members?
What if there's an unforeseen unavoidable circumstance
due to which it is impossible to go for the course?

and, the biggest of them all -
Was I really prepared to face this kind of a challenge?

Armed with all my whats and hows, I got down to getting a better idea of what I was entering into, by doing what I have known best – Research and introspection.

Though I am not new to the concept of spirituality, consciousness, energy and awareness - partly due to the impact of the environment of my own upbringing, partly due to my short stint in Brahmakumaris and partly because of my own interest in the field - yet, enrolling for Vipassana meant bundling all the factors together and taking them to an entirely different, a whole new level.

I skimmed through a couple of articles on the internet only to be more intrigued by the experiences that I came across.

Eventually, after trying my best to find some reason to say no and not finding any, on the 8th day, I went ahead with my confirmation.

There was still plenty of time for the course to begin, and there was no way to certainly know if I would be able to attend it or not at this time. Moreover, I didn't want to back out after filling up the form in the first place.

The pile of all my what-if's crumbled down to just one important question - what is the worst that could happen? And for that - I was always free to cancel it at a later stage. 

Goodbye, World.


Just 5 days before the course was to begin, I received a phone call asking me if I was coming. It was decision time and it sent my mind into a frenzy once again: A part of me wanted to go, a part of me resisted.

Don't defer any longer, GO!

... beeped a message from a blogger friend on my phone when I aired my unsure-ty with her and her words gave to the part of me which resisted the much needed motivational boost.

God-sent, she was!

After battling some moments over my yes, no and maybe… I finally confirmed my attendance two days later.

** Looking back, I can't really point a finger as to what really made me go ahead with the confirmation, but there was certainly more than what met the eye - there was this strange pull, a gentle kind of pull, mild, never forceful, but still a pull, that needed to be acknowledged and honored with some healthy action.

This particular moment, the moment when I FINALLY committed to attending the course, that moment ... I was ecstatic! I felt free, the nervous undercurrents disappearing miraculously in thin air and a whiff of fresh air filling up my entire being.

While my brother mulled over his own concerns of my complete disconnectedness and lack of other significant amenities (no mobile, no reading, no writing, no TV and no internet connection), I was already glued to reading the instructions for the course, making a check list of all the items that needed to be packed and of my doubts that had to be cleared with the management. 

The countdown to an exciting adventure, had just... begun!

(... to be continued)


TIPS FOR PEOPLE WHO WISH TO REGISTER FOR THE COURSE:

If you like to register for one of these courses at Gorai Village, Pagoda, Mumbai, here's the link: https://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/schpattana

Go through the schedule page, and mark the course which you're interested in and take note of when the registration window for it opens.

Register as early as possible to secure your seat without any hassle as queues to register for the course are long.

Be absolutely honest with your answers to avoid being rejected for the course.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

6 Incredible Destinations That Can Be Visited from Split, Croatia.

Split is a coastal town in Croatia and a popular destination for tourists to pick their accommodations in. If you’re visiting Croatia and you’re staying at a hotel in the city, here are six incredible destinations that you can visit via private tours Split, Croatia:

Split, Croatia

1. Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is a forest reserve in central Croatia that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It is located 243 kilometers from the town of Split, and it will take about 2 hours and 40 minutes by car to get there. However, the trip is incredibly worth it. Plitvice Lakes National Park is known around the world for its sixteen lakes that are interconnected by a series of waterfalls. All of the lakes are filled with clear aquamarine water, and the entire reserve is home to luscious green forests and diverse flora and fauna. During the summer, it’s a beautiful place to visit to go swimming, boating, and hiking.

2. Krka National Park.

Krka National Park

Krka National Park can be found in southern Croatia, along the Krka River. It is known for several tourist spots, including Skradisnki Buk, a series of waterfalls that cascade one after the other. The tallest of these waterfalls is 39 feet. Aside from Skradisnki Buk, tourists are also intrigued by the Visovac Monastery in the national park, which is located in a tiny island in the middle of a huge lake. Today, this historical Franciscan building has a restaurant where you can dine and a museum where you can find religious relics and artifacts.

Other points of interest inside Krka National Park include the early Croatian fortresses of Trosenj and Necven, the Sibenik Bridge, and Cikola River. Krka National Park is about 85 kilometers from Split, Croatia, which is about a 90-minute car drive.

3. Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Known as the pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is a small coastal city in southern Croatia. Its location gives it great access to the Adriatic Sea, but the view of the water isn’t its only selling point. Dubrovnik is brimming with history and architecture that dates back to the middle ages. As you stroll along Old Town, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time. In fact, because of its historical architecture, the popular HBO show Game of Thrones has filmed in certain locations around the city. If you’re a fan of the series, you will have a blast recreating scenes in the places where the actors actually shot them. Dubrovnik is a three-hour drive from Split, Croatia. You need to travel about 235 kilometers to get to the city, but the history, architecture, and the chance to recreate Game of Thrones scenes will make it all worth it.

4. Hvar, Hvar Island.

Hvar, Hvar Island, Croatia.

Hvar is an old town in an Adriatic island with the same name. It is about 53 kilometers from Split, Croatia, and you will have to travel for an hour and a half, including a ferry ride, to get here. But if you do travel to this island town, you won’t regret it. It is stunning as an ecotourism destination, but it is also rich in historical significance. When in Hvar, visit St. Stephen’s square, home of the 16th-century cathedral from which it was named after. You should also visit Spanjola Fortress, a hilltop fortress that will give you panoramic views of the town, the island, and the sea. Hvar is also close to other islands in the Adriatic Sea, which makes it a great stop if you want to go island hopping.

5. Bol, Brac Island.

Sailing towards Bol, Brac Island.

Bol is a town in the island of Brac that is most popular for its windsurfing destination, Golden Horn beach. Aside from this white sand beach, you should also hike to Vidova Gora, the highest peak on the island and all of the Adriatic islands, to have the best view of the surrounding natural scenery and the aquamarine water that surrounds it. Or if you want to have a taste delicious local wine, stop by Stina Winery on the island to do so. Bol is a two-hour trip from Split, Croatia. It requires a ferry ride to travel 53.4 kilometers to this town.

6. Blue Cave, Bisevo Island.

Blue Cave is located in the small island of Bisevo in the Adriatic Sea. It got its name from the blue light that illuminates the interior of the cave when sunlight shines through the aquamarine water of the sea and then bounces off its white limestone floors and walls. Its an enchanting experience to explore the cave and something that you shouldn’t miss. Typically, island hopping tours in this area include a boat ride to the cave, but a private tour may give you more time to appreciate this natural wonder.

From interconnected lakes to magical caves, Game of Thrones sets, fortress-like towns, windsurfing, and hiking, Croatia is a tourist destination filled with adventures that are waiting for you to experience. In your next visit to Split, Croatia, partake in these exciting adventures!

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About the Author: Hannah is an avid traveler who is based in New York City and has visited more than 75+ countries. She fell head over heels in love with Croatia during her first visit to Split back in 2010 and has spent just about every summer in the city ever since.


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

ISKCON Temple, Jaipur: A Psychedelic Window To The Spiritual World.

Lord Krishna playing flute stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan

O adorable Krishna!
let my longing eyes behold thy form.
let my ears hear thy flute.
O healer of all sorrows,
show me Thyself!
~ Unknown.

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I have been a regular visitor to the ISKCON Temple in Jaipur, Rajasthan for almost an entire past decade. Rajasthan being my ancestral state, we make it a point to travel here once at least every year. To say then, that I have a personal affinity for this state, and the Jaipur ISKCON temple wouldn’t be an exaggeration… from being a simple small house many years back, it has been a joy to see the temple gradually evolve to a relatively bigger premise and stand in line along with some of its more famous contemporaries like the ISKCON Temple in Delhi.

During its development, the temple has undergone many a changes as well, the more prominent among them being the coming up of a full fledged guest house for the visiting devotees who wish to stay inside the campus, and the in house Govindas restaurant which serves pure vegetarian fare – and of course, the grand Sri Sri Giridhari Dauji Mandir made entirely from pink stone and decorated with stained glass work celebrating the various avatars of Lord Krishna which opened up earlier this year.

ISKCON Temple, Jaipur, Rajasthan

The temple has taken many years to be built… there was a time when I’d see a part of premises as perpetually ‘under construction’ or so I wondered – what exactly was taking the building of the main temple so long?

Little did I know back then, I would be getting my answer in a few years from now, in 2019 and how!

I recall this incidence from around 3 years back… there was an office right below the “under construction” temple site where one could see a foreigner, often alone, deeply immersed with little pieces of colorful glass scattered all around him. Whenever I passed through his office cum workshop, the room intrigued me, beckoned me. How could it not?! It was an artist’s workshop after all!

Alas, I could never quite give wings to my intrigue by going any nearer or striking a conversation with the person inside but just catching a little glimpse from afar did give me enough to afford this colorful piece of memory today to cherish as my own.

Come January 2019 – and I was in for a beautiful surprise.

The land that I had seen as under construction for so many years long was no longer under construction anymore. What stood on it instead was a magnificent structure resplendent in the glorious art that the Pink city is known for.

After freshening up at the guesthouse just opposite the main temple, I headed to pay my respects and to see the temple, first thing first in the evening and then again the early next morning.

Window to the spiritual world stained glass vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan

But it was the morning youthful sun that left me enamored. Ascending slowly beyond the horizon, its peeping light sprinkled a sweet golden glow to the structure.

A burst of colors waited inside as I stood and admired agape at the beauty that stared back at me – large windows about 11 feet high and four feet wide with striking stained glass murals integrated within them. A characteristic more commonly observed in churches and cathedrals, this was the first time I was witnessing glass art of this stature in a temple.

ISKCON temple Srila Prabhupada stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan

Shafts of sunlight shone through the stained-glass windows, scattering coloured light all over the chequered floor. The windows were a gleaming brilliance against the early morning sun as against the muted tones of the previous evening. As I made my way around the masterpieces, I gave a silent clap to the Master Artist Mr. Colin Greenwood whose dedication and devotion for many long years was so clearly visible in his exceptional creation in Stained Glass which he had created for the pleasure of His own Master Srila Prabhupada. What was even more laudable was to see the merger of a vision, a vision of bhakti that Srila Prabhupada once dreamt for all of consciousness, with an art form thereby inspiring people towards not just blindly following but actually understanding the beauty of Vedic culture through the paintings.


Door man Vijaya stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, RajasthanDwarpal Jaya stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, RajasthanJust upon entering the gate, are the Two Doorkeepers of Vaikuntha, Jaya and Vijay followed by the Dasa Avatars of Lord Vishnu. It was fascinating to know that the glass, lead and other specialized materials used were sourced from Australia and all the work was carried out by locally trained artists under the supervision of Mr. Greenwood.


Govardhan lila stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan

Each window consists of over three thousand pieces of individually cut glass and when seen through the light of the sun, morning as well as evening, literally double up as windows to the Spiritual World!

Narsingh avatar - stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan

Walking slowly through the periphery of the temple, I paused at several points, dazzled by the huge colorful windows that soared high towards the distant ceiling. The illustrations took me back to a myriad of stories narrated to me by my grandpa and the lovely memories I treasure in my heart about the times spent listening to them.

Krishna makhan chor stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan
Varah avatar stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur Rajasthan
Vrindavan Forest stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan
Krishna Balram stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan
Shri Ram Chandra avatar stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan
Shri Parsuram Avatar stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan
Kalki avatar stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan
Kaliya Lila stained glass window vedic art - ISKCON Jaipur Rajasthan

I spent a longer time pausing and admiring the Kaliya Lila window,  but it wasn’t the story that had caught my eye, it was the light… light fell here like a high poised sphere creating a mélange of colors that bounced off the window onto the silhouetted floor to paint a muddled reflection.

Beautiful stained glass window reflections vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan

It was a beautiful sight, this moment, how to describe it? Everything seemed to be in perfect balance, harmony and unison: The colorful window shrouded in light suffusing the dark floor in life!

Everything around me seemed to stop for those few moments and turn into something entirely different. The silent space suddenly filled with meaning, and the million colorful beams dissolved into a little bubble of wisdom. Just me and those multi-hooded dark serpents, the serpents that create mayhem within, had just been blessed with the dancing footprint of the Lord Himself.

Soon, I moved to the center of the hall and spent a few quiet moments kneeling down before the altar, beneath the deep domed ceiling.

Deities - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan

After offering my prayers, as I was walking out of the temple, my eyes fell on the beautiful image of Radha Krishna sitting together on a swing. A beautiful painting dipped in the hues of red, here was love, unadulterated, pure and whole. I thought of the aura when the light illuminates this part of the gallery: Does it make their love come alive? Would it breathe life in their play?

Radha Krishna love stained glass window vedic art gallery - ISKCON Jaipur, Rajasthan

There was no way to know that just about now, maybe someday.

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How to spend 3 days in Atlanta, USA.

Atlanta is a cultural hub with a thriving restaurant scene and a variety of attractions. It offers the advantages of a bustling city with southern charm. There is something for everyone in Atlanta. If you are flying into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, here is some advice for making the most of a three-day visit.

Bustling city of Atlanta in Georgia

Before your visit, book a hotel in Downtown Atlanta for convenience. Many attractions and restaurants are downtown. Staying downtown also provides easy access to MARTA trains and buses if needed. Atlanta has great public transportation that stretches across the entire city. The 4 Seasons and Mandarin Oriental Hotel are just two of the many hotels that offer breathtaking views of the city.

Start your first day walking through Centennial Olympic Park. The 21 acre park was created for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games as a place for visitors to relax in during the event. Today parts of the park have been renovated, but a large portion stands representing the revitalization of downtown Atlanta. The beautiful park is a peaceful memorial for the game. It includes jumping fountains, brick paths and bright landscape. The park is home to a number of free events throughout the year such as concerts and festivals. The winding path will lead you to three of the biggest tourist attractions in the city- CNN Studios, The Georgia Aquarium and World of Coke.

Begin at CNN with a 50 minute walking tour. CNN is a popular national 24-hour cable news station in the United States that boasts a number of nationally known journalists, including Anderson Cooper. This popular tour shows you the process of a story hitting a news desk to making it on the air. You see an exciting side of the news that you don’t normally get to see. Aside from watching the process, you even get to sit in the news anchors desk. Keep your eyes open, you may even see one of the famous news anchors making their way around the office. Next walk over to The World of Coke. This museum is dedicated to the famous soda Coca-Cola, founded in Atlanta.


Walk through the exhibits showing different ad campaigns throughout the world and various collectible items Coca Cola has released over the years. Enjoy presentations about the company’s history and the process of making Coca Cola. Finally, visit the tasting room to try flavors of Coca-Cola brand sodas from around the globe. Some flavors aren’t even available in America.

Take a lunch break at Mary Mac’s Tea Room. This cafe is known as “Atlanta’s Dining Room,” offering the best in southern soul food. Fill up on tomato pie and peach cobbler before heading over to finish out the day at The Georgia Aquarium. As home to over 100,000 species, this is the largest aquarium in the United States. It takes around 3 hours to walk the entire aquarium, but it is worth the time. Get up close looks at species you will only see at this aquarium, such as the Whale Shark and Manta Rays. Watch a sea lion show or experience feeding time with otters to make the experience even more memorable. The entire aquarium totals 10 million gallons of water, it will be one of your most memorable experiences of the trip.

As the evening winds down, head to Midtown for dinner at The Vortex. This burger bar is for 21 and older, but it offers the best, and most creative, burgers in the city. Be adventurous and try the Fat Elvis- a hamburger with peanut butter, bacon and fried plantains on top.

Start your second day with breakfast at Wafflehouse, a staple in the south. This breakfast chain started in Atlanta and thrives across the south. Their signature waffles can’t be recreated. Don’t forget to get hashbrowns “all the way” to eat like a true southerner.

After a hearty breakfast, head to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park. This site has multiple places of interest related to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. Walking throughout this park you will explore the historic Ebenezer Church that Dr. King Jr. was part of, as well as his childhood home. Talk with the volunteers at Fire House No. 6 to discuss MLK Jr.’s daily visit to the firehouse. Be sure to walk across the street to view the first black colleges. Though they look like a row of a houses, it’s a big part of America’s history. Inside The King Center you can pay your respects at the tombs of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mrs. King.

Jelly fish, Aquarium Atlanta

Following your visit to the MLK Jr. National Historic Park, head to Ponce City Market for lunch. The first floor of this former factory is dedicated to a variety of local dining establishments. Eat community style or at one of the stand alone restaurants. Be sure to complete your meal with a King of Pops. This local company offers a variety of freshly made popsicles including such flavors as Cookies N Cream- made with whole chocolate chip cookies. Spend the afternoon taking in the architecture of the building while perusing local artistry from Atlanta designers on the second and third floors. Take a break with some mini golf on the enchanting Skyline Park.

Look at the Atlanta Skyline while engaging in friendly competition. Round off your day with some famous barbeque at “Fox Bros. Barbeque”. The lines may be long, but it’s worth the wait to try the sliced brisket sandwich with a side of macaroni and cheese.

On your final day in Atlanta, take in a few of the secret gems of the city. Start the morning with a walk along the Beltline Trail that winds 22 miles throughout the city. The trail is divided into different sections, and one of the most popular is the Eastside Trail. This portion of the trail offers the best views of the city, especially from atop the North Avenue Bridge. Another popular spot is under the Virginia Avenue Bridge. Below the bridge is two of the many murals found throughout Atlanta. It’s a great place to stop for some photos. Rent a bike or take a pleasant walk in the early morning before the sun is at its peak for the day.

After working up some hunger, head to The Varsity for some tasty food and Atlanta history. This restaurant has been servicing customers since 1928. It’s a popular destination because it feels like a time warp to a 1950s cafe. Grab a chili dog, Coca Cola and enjoy a quiet lunch. After lunch, head over to the Oakland Cemetery. This is not only the final resting place of many famous Atlantans, including Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell, but it is a popular garden. It is the largest green space in the heart of downtown Atlanta, offering a variety of beautiful greenery. You can pick up a self-guided tour map at the visitor center and take in the landscape, beautiful tombstones and sculptures throughout the 48 acres.

Continue your afternoon journey to the eclectic Center for Puppetry Arts. This museum is dedicated to the art of puppetry around the world. It’s most famous for its collection of Jim Henson muppets. Here you can see such famous muppets as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. View exhibits that show Henson’s career from beginning through his death, as well as the legacy he left behind. Enjoy hands-on exhibits celebrating puppetry from a variety of cultures around the world.

Complete your day with dinner at Fellini’s. This local chain serves up some of the best pizza in the city. Pick your favorite toppings and order New York style gourmet pizza by the pie or slice. When planning your trip to Atlanta, use the ESTA, electronic system for travel authorization, to make international travel to the United States easier. If you are traveling from a VWP (visa waiver program) country, you can use this system for pre-approval to travel if traveling to the United States for less than 90 days for business or vacation. The ESTA checks that the traveler is not a danger or security risk and gives approval to those who pass with flying colors. Those who are from a VWP approved country and do not hold a visitor’s visa are welcome to use ESTA. All you need is a credit card or PayPal account to pay the application fee, current contact information and most recent employment information. Check ESTA application status prior to travel on their easy-to-use website. It is important to apply at least 72 hour before departure, otherwise you may not be approved in time and will not be able to travel to Atlanta.

Travel with ease and enjoy your visit to the “Gate City.”

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About the Author: Martins is a 31 years old Australian born and officially in love with a never - ending affair of solo world travel. He has a great passion of exploring the planet, meeting new lives and writing about his travel experiences with people all around the world.

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Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post to support the blog. Please do the appropriate research while accepting any third party offers.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Visual Installations At Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Mumbai: Rampart Row.

Colorful festoons - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.

If you’re to choose to paint your life today... What will it be?
Remember, you’re the artist, not the canvas.
~ Val Uchendu.

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While the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh continues to pick steam, closer home Aamchi Mumbai just concluded celebrating its own version of Kumbh, albeit of a different kind!

The annual nine day long Kala Ghoda Arts Fest was underway in the maximum city, the biggest cultural extravaganza held every February, from the first Saturday till the second Sunday of the month, in the Kala Ghoda Fort area of South Mumbai in Maharashtra.

This year, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival was celebrating its 20th anniversary as well as the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Keeping up with the 2 decade long anniversary celebrations, the theme this year was ‘A Measure of Time’ - a perception of the last 20 years – a continuous progression in which all changes have taken place suggesting that within the space-time-continuum, all statements are relative, depending on the observer.

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7th February 2019, A walk through the visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest (KGAF) at Rampart Row in Fort, Mumbai:

Incidentally, it’s my first time at the festival – the only other time I have been here was a couple of years back when I had given it a miss after seeing a huge queue at the entrance itself.

Not this time though as this year, I am determined to discover my share of all the buzz that Kala Ghoda festival garners in Mumbai.

After alighting at Churchgate station, there are free bus services that ply from the SNDT college to the Kala Ghoda fest but I decide to walk all the way.

First up on the way is the Cross Maidan where a few interesting visual installations find space:


CHARKHA.

Chakra - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
The Charkha: Spinning wheel, popularized by Mahatma Gandhi and regarded as a symbol of self reliance and Indian Independence.
The spiral trajectory of the dynamic exhibit captures India's unbounded spirit in timeless values such as unity in diversity, tolerance, and self reliance which are the essence of India.

A CLOUD OF DIAMONDS
A cloud of diamonds - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
Cloud of Diamonds: For destiny lay ladders for us to our clouds,
for all may find their cloud of diamonds is my desire.

PERSPECTIVES OF TIME.
Perspectives of Time - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
Perspectives of Time:  Have you ever wished you had more time to pursue something you love?
Or perhaps, a regret of missing out on something because of lack of time?
The exhibit urges us to focus on things that create more joy and happiness
than pursuing a hundred things that continue to leave us unhappy.

PRATIBIMB.
Pratibimb - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row.
Pratibimb: A 360 degree panoramic view capturing 'THE' true spirit festival.

R-CITY: THE CITY OF INDULGENCE.
R City - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
R City - The City of Indulgence: A city of friendship, family, amusement and laughter,
a city where there is something amazing for everyone.

TILL THE LAST LEAD.
Till the last lead - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
Till the Last Lead: Mahatma Gandhi would use his pencils till the last lead as he believed in making the best of everything wasting as little as possible. In an age where we are used to a life of abundance, this exhibit seeks to change the attitude by creating this intricate 3D installation of a famous scientist from pencils that have grown short in length.
Can you see who the scientist is, in the picture?

SAPNO KI SAWARI.
Sapnon Ki Sawari - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
Sapno Ki Sawari: A vintage car to make the most memorable entry for the bride and the groom.

THE SPARROW.
Sparrow - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
Sparrow's Shelter, Mumbai - The exhibit brings to light the sad reality of sparrows
disappearing at an alarming rate - one of the major culprits being mobile radiation.
It further attempts to increase awareness about setting up sparrow shelters in Mega cities like Mumbai.

I AM AN ALLY.
Time An Ally for LGBT - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
I am an Ally: Giving a strong voice to the identity of the LGBTQ community is this exhibit which urges
every member in the society to make a responsible choice of recognizing them as they are
without any prejudice or sexual bias. A powerful installation calling for a mental revolution.

Making my way forward from the Cross Maidan, I bump into these two lovely girls at the flora fountain as I am trying to figure out my way to the Kala Ghoda fest, turns out (to my delight) they are doing the same – warm, cheerful and friendly, they happily let me tag along, and together we reach the fest to indulge in our curiosities.

Strangers who become friends - Kala Ghoda, Fort.
Riya on the left and Geetanjali on the right - lovely girls I met on the way.

There is a large queue at the entrance which takes around 20 minutes to move past through to the security check and into the wide open space of Rampart row, the main Kala Ghoda Street (K Dubash Marg).

Stepping suddenly in the vast sea of people inside, there is a vague sense of losing a part of myself to something which is more powerful, more bigger than what I otherwise imagine myself to be. Do I desist it then? These crowds?!

Colorful installation at Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
People from all walks of life converge at the cultural fest.

No. Not at all, in fact, on the contrary, I feel more active as I continue on my expedition to discover the myriad colors of this unique festival. Maybe it’s the power of the vibe of so many people, from different walks of life, coming together in a single purpose, as one, like the many colorful threads hanging over my head, that converge in a spirit of joy, and creativity at the galloping, graceful Kala Ghoda.

Kala Ghoda carrying the wheels of time - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
The ubiquitous Kala Ghoda pulling the reins of time!

Lined up at the periphery inside are stalls selling distinct items that include clothes, jewelry, toiletries, stationary, books, slippers, bags, pots and paintings, trinkets, etc. mirroring the unique hand crafted flavors showcased from different states all over the world.

Batua or purses - stalls at Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.
Mochris from Rajasthan - stalls at Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.
Be inspired at the Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.


It’s a delight to walk past all these stalls as most of the products here are made and sold by village artisans bringing with them a distinct traditional touch. The rest of the ground is an open museum – a fine meeting ground for artists and art enthusiasts in an endeavor to make art accessible to everyone and to peddle thoughtful musings and meaningful conversions around them.

So join me, let’s take a dip at all the visual explosion that is the Kala Ghoda Arts Fest and see exactly which exhibits touch the chords of our mind and burst our hearts open! Come along!!

LAAL.

Laal - Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.
In 1966, India lost one of its greatest prime ministers. For his wife, the loss was even greater.
After the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri, Lalita Shastri was left with nothing more than the monthly government pension to run her house.  Even so, she paid back every penny of a car that was taken by her husband before his death.
Fearless, and resilient, Lalita Shastri never let the color of her commitment fade.
In fighting the toughest odds and challenges, she truly embodied the crimson of her Kumkum.
(That's 50 kgs of Kumkum on that car by the way!)
WRAPPING TIME.

The spinning wheel at Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
The Wheels take the audience forward as the glory of the past and present of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is weaved together in a continuum.

ROOTS TO SKY.

From Roots to sky - Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.
Encourages a play filled childhood ensuring a bright future.

KAALI PEELI.

Kaali Peeli - Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
Featuring the colorful, ridiculous and often overlooked ceiling designs of Mumbai taxis:
so next time don't forget to look up while you're riding in a kaali peeli in Mumbai!

BY MUMBAI.

By Mumbai - Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.
Where everyday is an episode, why not think about a book where every page is a story?
That's the idea behind this interactive exhibit which invites everyone to write their own stories,
thus bringing the city to life.

THE INFINITE SPINDLE.

Hopes and dreams weaved in the threads at Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
Hopes, dreams, wishes - all weaved in a continuous process of existence,
encompassing the past, present and the future.

KALANTAR - TIME TRAVEL (SAMAY YATRA).

Kalantar Time travels - Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.
Have you ever wondered... time travels too?
This hourglass as a measurement of time is proof of time travel.

Graffiti at Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
Beautiful art exhibits at the Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.



TOUCH THE ART: The interactive installation conceptualised from the quality of three structures – Jehangir Art Gallery, David Sassoon Library and Rhythm House; throws open the doors to every person as an artist under one roof depicting the platform that Kala Ghoda provides to the artists.





KALPTARU.

Kalpta Taru - Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.
A wish fulfilling tree... it depicted the dark realities of life like child labour and early marriages.
Further inquiring us if we are doing our bit?

KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR.

Knight in Shining Armour - Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.
An interactive installation, with stained glass and mirrors - it attracted a lot of crowds encapsulating colorful memories at KGAF.

REFLECTION OF TIME ON ART.

Tanjore painting inspired - Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.
This is one of the 20 frames depicting 20 years of Kala Ghoda, reflecting on the traditional Tanjore art adapted to contemporary forms
with a fusion of European decoupage art.

ZEE BOLLYWOOD.

Zee Bollywood - Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.
Celebrating the colors of cinema - this was indeed one happy place.

WISH FACTORY.

The Wish Factory at Visual arts at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Cross Maidan, Fort.
As every grain of sand united with the heap below,
a new unstoppable dream is being born in Mumbai and all of them are being protected by a horseshoe magnet -
The symbol of luck and good fortune.


It’s close to 2.5 hours of ambling around making my through the melee, when I reach the other end of the Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, the exit. Before stepping out and bidding goodbye to the festival, I pause... reflecting back, just for a moment.

And, all my eyes can see are colors... all unique and yet working well together.
Colors of happiness, joy, creativity, activity, hopes, dreams and new beginnings... 

Lovely candid smiles at the Visual arts, Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.

... all there, here in this time and space, weaving in and out...
stringing together the many hearts that beat as one pumping life in this city,
and making this festival such a vibrant and vivacious kaleidoscope of art and culture.

I leave the grounds with a silent hope, to be back to attend the Kala Ghoda Arts Fest again next year.

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Tips / Information if you wish to see the art installations at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest:

  • Kala Ghoda Arts Fest is an annual festival held in the month of February for nine days.
  • How to reach Kala Ghoda? Kala Ghoda Arts Fest is accessible from CST and Churchgate railway stations. From Churchgate, buses and taxis are easily available. But I would suggest to go walking if possible, it takes around 15-20 minutes on foot.
  • Is there an entry fee to attend the events at Kala Ghoda? Kala Ghoda is a free entry, public street art event where anyone can attend any part of the festival without any fees.
  • Where can I find the complete schedule for all the events? There are lot many events at the fest besides the visual installations - for complete information, check their official website for more details.


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Visual Installations at Kala Ghoda Arts Fest, Rampart Row, Fort.