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Bylakuppe
Walk the talk on Buddhism
11459 people have seen this

Bylakuppe in Coorg district is the largest Tibetan settlement in India. The settlement consists of a number of agricultural settlements / small camps close to each other, monasteries, nunneries, thangka painting units, handicrafts, incense and woollen carpet making centres etc.

Tourists, who go to Coorg, tend to visit the Namdroling Monastery commonly known as Golden Temple, which is a prime tourist attraction at Bylakuppe. The Monastery houses three big golden statues of Buddha - Padmasambhava, Amitayus and Shakyamuni.

We had an amazing experience of the three most important monasteries in Bylakuppe, which hardly tourists know about. They are Sera Jey, Sera Mey & Sera Lachi. Located 2 kms away from Namdroling monastery, the monasteries are also universities which house more than 5000 monks. There are few foreign monks from Europe, USA & Australia as well. The foreign monks have been studying at the Monastery-University for around 8-13 years.  Most of them are graduates and now studying to receive degree in Buddhism (which takes 25 years to complete).

After an authentic lunch at one of the Tibetan restaurants, we met one of the foreign monks at the Sera Jey car parking and thus began our tour. The Sera Jey is the first monastery which is covered during the tour. It has a big courtyard enough to accommodate at least 5000 monks.

Note: It is better to wear slip-ons, as you need to remove your footwear outside each monastery. Do not wear footwear with heels/high heels as the walk at times is on rough terrain and small alleys. As you get near the entrance door of the monastery, you can find paintings on the outer walls of the monastery. Once you enter the monastery, the tour has to go clockwise. This is common at all monasteries and is common with all the Hindu temples in India.

The monk guides you through the monastery and explains the paintings on the wall and the statues. Tour of one monastery takes approximately 20-30 minutes. After Sera Jey, we visited Sera Lachi,which is a monastery-university where students of both Sera Jey & Sera Mey congregate to learn and discuss Buddha’s teachings. The tour of this monastery also takes approximately 20-30 mins. The tour then continues to Sera Mey, the last monastery of the tour. Sera Mey is also beautifully constructed and is worth a visit. The English speaking monk then took us to Sera IMI house, which is one of the places where the Western monks stay.

Here, we got to sip on some good tea, after which we listened to the Western monk’s introduction to Buddhism. This takes about 15-20 minutes. The meditation (Buddhist style) follows which lasts for 15-20 minutes. The session ends with Question & Answers. If we have questions on any aspect of the tour experienced so far, the same will be answered by the Western monk. Around 5:45PM, the session is closed as the monks need to proceed to Sera Jey courtyard for the debate session.

This is one spectacular experience that one should not miss and may not witness again. All the monks of the university have to meet at the courtyard. A monk stands atop the Sera Jey and rings a gong .The gong is rung for about three times, after which the gate is closed. No monk can enter the courtyard after the third ring.

The university is strict about punctuality. In a debate session, a monk can choose his opponent. It can be a friend or even a fellow monk. One of the two monks sits on the ground and the other stands. Buddha had said that the people should not blindly follow his teachings, but debate and discuss the teachings. Thus, the monk who is standing makes a statement (of the Buddha’s teaching) and the monk who sits has to give an interpretation. Both can play an excited role in order to prove their point. The monk who is sitting has to maintain his position. What the original teachings were, or Buddha Vacana ("word of the Buddha") has been the subject of debate and historical argument for centuries. These source teachings have given rise to the numerous schools and traditions of Buddhism that exist today.

The tour does not take place on Tuesdays and special occasions. You can contact us to plan your tour as we have the blocked date’s information.

If time permits, Venerable Tenzin Namdak will accompany you in the tour. Alternately, a senior foreign monk (English speaking) will accompany you in the tour. Ven. Tenzin Namdak, born in 1970 in The Netherlands, met the Dharma in January 1993. After his graduation (B.Sc. in Hydrology) he studied Buddhism for one year at Maitreya Institute in The Netherlands. On the advice of Lama Zopa Rinpoche he moved to Dharamsala, India, in the end of 1994 to learn Tibetan language and to take Getsul (March 1995) and Gelong ordination (March 1996) from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In April 1997 he entered the Geshe Study Program of Sera Jey Monastery in South India and currently is in the seventeenth year of program. He is the Director of Shedrup Sungdrel Ling and Sera IMI House, a house for western monks studying at Sera. He also teaches and translates for visiting Lamas at Choe Khor Sum Ling, Bangalore.

Tour Highlights

Primary Activities – Introduction to Buddhism, Walking tour of Buddhist monasteries, Meditation

Secondary Activities – Visit Namdroling Monastery, Nyingmapa Monastery, Cauvery Nisargadhama, Shopping in Bylakuppe etc.

 

Suggested Tour Itinerary

Arrive at Bylakuppe by noon. Have lunch at one of the authentic Tibetan restaurants.

3:00pm: Arrive at Sera Jey car parking. Meet with Ven. Namdak or one of the senior foreign monks (pre-arranged) and begin walking tour of Sera Jey, Sera Lachi and Sear Mey.

4:00pm: Walking tour ends at Sera IMI House.

4:10pm – 4.50pm: Introductory teaching on Buddhism

4:50- 5:10pm: Q&A Session.

5:20pm - 5:40pm: Meditation instruction

5:40pm: Leave IMI House for debate courtyard.

Once you enter Bylakuppe, you feel you are in Tibet. At the end of the tour, we got to experience Buddhism in a different style altogether. The insight of Buddhism truly invoke the spiritual awareness in one.

A must visit place if you love to learn about different cultures, spirituality and meditation.  We have been to Bylakuppe thrice already and would love to go again. You can never get enough of this place.

It is a great place to visit if you are a Buddhist or if you are interested to know about Buddhism.
Please respect the religion and the whole temple and behave just as well as you would when you visit a church, temple or mosque.


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Village Sojourn
Back to the Basics
10187 people have seen this

When the weekend came up, I wanted to do something different with my friends.. Instead of opting for our usual movie plans, eating out or shopping we decided to make a visit to a tiny village that I had heard so much about. After a leisurely breakfast, my friends and I trooped into the car and drove to the village (which was approx 25 kms from the Bangalore International Airport). 

As we neared our location, the first thing we noticed was the feel of fresh air and wide open spaces filled with greenery. We were glad that the roads were smooth as we had a pleasant and comfortable drive.  

On reaching the village, we were met by Mr. Srinivas, an English speaking school teacher who was to take us around and serve as our interpreter for the day. Our first stop was the Village Dairy Cooperative, where we interacted with the President of the Milk Dairy, Mr. P M Narayan, who has been heading this cooperative for 20 years! We had fun talking to him and learnt about how the milk was collected from the farmers and what made this cooperative a profit centre!

After saying our goodbyes to Mr. Narayan, we went for a short walk to the Shiva temple which was just 5 minutes away from the cooperative. It was a very simple and unassuming stone structure and contained just a single Shiva Linga (adorned with a fresh white flower when we visited), Nandi and a couple of sculpted panels. It was lovely to spend some time sitting around and letting the calm air permeate our souls.

Maintaining this lovely state of mind, we continued to take a leisurely walk to the neighbouring vineyards. We were lucky when we visited, for the grapes weren’t harvested yet and the vineyards were filled with lush green and purple grapes. 

As we were looking around, the owner of the vineyard came up to us and picked several bunches of grapes and offered it to us to munch on, as we went further inside the vineyard. Teaming with grapes, the vineyard formed a wonderful canopy over our heads and it almost felt like we were transported into a magical land. 

Though it seemed like grapes were what was being predominantly grown, there were some other cultivations such as Chilli, Mulberry (for their silk worm unit) and Indian Roses. We leisurely walked around and rested under some trees, marvelling at what a different life the villagers lead. It seemed to be a world of simple and holistic living, where people and nature existed in perfect harmony..

We then proceeded to visit a silk worm unit where we watched the worms feasting on Mulberry leaves. We also went to another room to see how they are put into a unique basket where the mature worms start making their cocoons. There were a few villagers there who urged us to try our hand at putting the worms into the basket. Though we were all reluctant at first, a few of us managed to do that and surprisingly the worms didn’t feel slimy at all! They just tickled a bit :)

After that we sipped on some tender coconut (which we had village style: straight from the coconut – without a straw or glass) as we waited for our ride back to our luncheon place. The bullock cart soon made an appearance and we happily enjoyed the ride, feeling like we were in the scene of a rural movie.

We then had our fill of some yummy village food served on a banana leaf while enjoying the cool breeze and amazing view. We also purchases some farm fresh vegetables and fruit produce from the village to carry back home to our families. 

We really enjoyed this unique trip and would love to arrange it for you. This short time away from the hustle and bustle of the city will re-energise you and the fresh air and simple folks will lighten your lungs and heart :) Do get in touch with us for more details.


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Pet Vacations - Nilgiris
Gift your pet a holiday!
13998 people have seen this

An ideal extended weekend holiday out of Bangalore where you can take you pet along…If you have a minimum of three nights to spare, try the Ooty > Avalanche circuit.

 

 

Avalanche is part of the Nilgiri mountain range and about 20 kms from Ooty.  This will be a relaxing 7 hour drive from Bangalore. The altitude at Avalanche would be about 7500 ft above sea level and the resort on this hill top is designed to impart a ‘Farmstay’ experience. 

 

 

Lots of open spaces for your pet to run around & explore, many leisure and family oriented activities for your loved ones. Clean mountain air and lots of sunshine!  

There are lots of family oriented activities to keep everyone pleasantly occupied for two full days. Short treks, camping, horse riding, fishing (for Carp and Trout), campfire and dairy farm visits are just a few of the activities that one can indulge in. 

Trout fishing is possible at Avalanche and Sandinalla lakes with prior permission from the Fisheries Department (Assistant Director of Fisheries office located near Ooty bus stand). 

Accommodation at this resort is very comfortable with outdoor cabin styled rooms with wooden flooring and a functional fire place for each room. An ideal location to spend some quality time with your family & a surprise gift for your pet.

Ooty is about an hours drive down from Avalanche.  The little known ‘Ooty radio telescope’ which is actually the largest radio telescope in Asia, is situated at Muthorai (on the Ooty  – Avalanche road). 

It would be a good idea to stay a night at Ooty before returning home.  About 3 kms from Charring cross, which is the city centre, there is a small boutique heritage hotel that welcomes guests travelling with their pets! A heritage bungalow completely refurbished and converted to a comfortable hotel, it has a beautiful garden and lawns. Almost all rooms have their own sit-outs with great views. 

 The Nilgiri Mountain train which now has the UNESCO world heritage site tag is a must do. The train has scheduled runs between Ooty and Mettupalayam. 

Another activity not to be missed while at Ooty / coonoor is the highly acclaimed tea tasting tour at Tranquilitea -  that takes you on a journey of tea from plant to cup followed by a tasting of some of the world’s finest tea.

The return drive from Ooty can be interesting, if you opt for the Kalhatty – Masinagudi route which joins up at Teppakad and then on to Bandipur.  There is good chance to spot wildlife if you are lucky….a good opportunity to end your holiday with pleasant memories!


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The Women Brigade
Travel with companions to Gods Own Country - Kerala
11086 people have seen this

It was my second holiday with Hammock and on the ‘Women only tour’ to Kerala. There were six of us including myself. I had registered online and opted for a sharing room type accommodation for the tour that was scheduled in early September.  While four of us were from Bangalore, two were from Chennai.  

 

Hammock representative, Padma met us at Kochi airport and we were off to our first stop, Fort Kochi. It was an hour’s drive from the airport and we arrived at our hotel, a 110 year old heritage property that has been carefully restored to its original glory. The restaurant was on the ground floor while the rooms were all on the upper floor. 

Fort Kochi is part of the old Jew town and the neatly maintained streets have small shops and eateries selling curios, antiques and of course, a variety of food (from various cuisines). The cobble stoned promenade area was good for a relaxing walk.  

Greenix Village’ was a location that we visited in the evening..  A traditional Kerala styled building that houses a museum and a performing arts studio. We were treated to an introductory performance of ‘Kathakali’ – a traditional dance drama, which was followed by a soothing ‘Veena’ recital.

The next morning we were off to the backwaters of Alleppey, which was an hours drive from Kochi. The houseboats were waiting for us.  The boats were actually quite larger than I imagined.. Each of the boats had two bedrooms with attached washrooms, a large lounge with a dining space and there was a mid-sized kitchen too.  There was a cook, a steward as well as a driver for each of our boats.

We all got in and our boats moved off on the cruise.  Lunch was served on board and the cruise continued through small canals beside the green paddies.  We could see small islands with small houses, people actually living in the backwaters, children waving their greetings.. a postman going about his work in a small boat.. Vegetable vendors zipping past in their tiny boats overloaded with an amazing variety of greens and veggies… 

After dinner and a pleasant overnight stay in the air-conditioned houseboat, we moved out the next day to the hills -  past Vagamon and on to Kattapana. The drive was exhilarating! From the plains we were going up on the mountain roads.  Coconut groves gave way to rubber plantations, to spice gardens and finally the manicured tea gardens that looked like someone purposefully coiffured the green mountains!!

Our accommodation was at a sprawling bungalow within a 600 acre estate near Kattapana, with a bubbling mountain stream flowing right under the living room of the huge bungalow. The bedrooms were large and comfortable with a lovely fireplace in the living room. The food was fresh, wholesome and home cooked. 

It was the most relaxing two days in my life – walking the green trails with strands of sunlight shafting through the opaque mist, listening to the bird song, watching the bubbly stream, swirling, turning and cascading….

There was a pleasant surprise waiting for all of us that evening..  our host had arranged for a local cuisine cooking demo of Aappam & stew. It seemed to be the easiest thing to rustle up and was truly a delicacy.  

Already into our fifth day of the tour, the days were going by fast..  We were all enjoying every bit of it and here we are packing our bags once again..  Cheerio to Kattapana, next stop Thattekad. A drive down the winding mountain roads, down to the plains.  

The small eco resort at Thattekad had Swiss tents for accommodation, each with a small porch looking out across the broad River Periyar and the island of Thattekad, described as the richest bird habitat on peninsular India.

Two of us opted for a conducted bicycle tour to one of the nearby villages and there after joined up the rest of the group in the evening for a walk along the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary.. It is actually a flat plain piece of land slightly higher than the water level on the River Periyar.

There are also many water based activities here at Thattekad.  I mentally put in a ‘tag’ to bring my kids to this eco resort on our next family vacation.  I am sure the kids will love this place. Late the next evening we were all dropped off at Kochi airport to connect our respective flights.

Thank you, team Hammock for a wholesome experience. Well done… yet again :)


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Driving from Manali to Leh - Ladakh
An experience of a lifetime!
10021 people have seen this

The drive from Manali to Leh - Ladakh was in planning for a long time and all of us were looking forward to this drive of a lifetime… It was late June and we were in Manali for 2 days doing the final checks on our jeep and stocking up on supplies for the long drive.  

We rolled out of Manali, quite early on a clear day and drove up to Marhi, a steady climb to about 10,800 ft and a further climb to reach Rohtang Pass a little before midday. The Altitude at Rotang is about 13,060 ft.

Rohtang was crowded with tourists and a little depressing. The whole place was littered with empty plastic cups, packing cartons and other left overs. There were also a large number of shops selling numerous things right from tea, snacks and batteries to jacket & snow shoe rentals and just about everything else..

All of us were keen to leave Rotang behind. The road wound down to Gramphu and then we were on the highway along Chandra river. The terrain suddenly started to change. The greenery disappeared and the grey tinged mountains appeared larger.. there were large boulders and loose gravel almost everywhere..

Though a highway, the road was narrow - not much wider than a regular state road. The Border Roads Organisation is actually in charge of maintenance of these roads, but because of the fragile terrain conditions most stretches on these roads are in pretty bad shape.

We drove past Kokhsar and Sissu to arrive at Tandi which is at an elevation of 8,430 ft. Tandi is probably one of the smallest towns that I have seen. It is located in a valley where the Chandra river and the Bhaga river meets and flows then on as ‘River Chenab’. Though there is a petrol pump at Tandi, it is better not to depend on it and carry enough gas to take you see you through to Leh.

To beat AMS, we decided on Keylong to for our overnight stay. Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is common at high altitudes of over 10,000 feet as oxygen in the air reduces by roughly 40%. The first symptoms of AMS is headache, dizziness and shortness of breath. If one experiences any of these, make sure you stay at Keylong rather than at Sarchu, which is at a higher altitude.

The next day we departed from Keylong before sunrise to go to Jispa and continued on to Darcha, a total of about 30 kms which took us about 3 hours! There is a police check post at Darcha and everyone needs to register here.

One of the highest passes in this section is Baralacha La pass (16,500 ft) and the steep climb to this pass starts from a place called Zingzingbar. Both the Bhaga and the Chandra rivers originate from melting snow at opposite sides of Baralacha La. The Bhaga flows southwest and the Chandra flows southeast and they finally merge at Tandi.

From Baralacha La it was a descent to Bharatpur and to Sarchu at 14,100 ft. Sarchu is more of a military base and has a border check post for registrations. The HP and J & K border, beginning of the Ladakh region.

We took some time at Sarchu stretching our legs. Driving out from Sarchu, the terrain was beginning to be increasingly interesting... scarce vegetation, bland landscapes and varied blue hues of the sky.  

We then drove up through the Gata loops, a section of 22 hairpin bends at about 15,300 ft and finally negotiated the Lachulung La pass at 16,616 ft.

There is a completely flat plateau after Pang towards Tanglang La pass. Flanked by beautiful mountains on both sides and stretching for about 35 kms, it is called More plains or Morey plains. 

This area is lined with some stunning natural sand and rock formations and is completely uninhabitable, with no construction at all. The road is mostly on the plains for around 35 km before it again starts to rise to Tanglang La (another high pass at 17,480 ft). 

About 60 kms further is the village of Upshi, an ancient trading post next to the Indus river.

 

It was already getting dark and we were still quite some distance from Leh. Look at the spectacle that awaited us on arrival – Concurrent night and day @ Leh – Ladakh!

 

The Ladak saga continues……


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Trek with the Gaddis
An adventure in the high Himalayas
10867 people have seen this

The Gaddis are a sheep herding nomadic tribe of Himachal Pradesh. They lead an interesting and lonely life. Each year, a Gaddi with his sheep begins his  journey in March/ April from western lowlands of Himachal and Punjab to Lahaul, Spiti and further on, on Pir Panjal range crossing over high passes of about 5500 Mts (16535 ft) and returning  in Sep/ October.

For seven to eight months every year, the solitary existence for these shepherds becomes a way of life. For a Gaddi, every day is a new day and survival is of the fittest. Gaddis believe in Lord Shiva and live in perfect harmony with nature.

On this trek, we followed a section of trail from Lahaul to Bharmaur that is usually followed by Gaddis in the month of September. They usually stay in Lahaul from beginning to mid-September before starting their return journey to reach Chamba before winter sets in.

Our trip started on a pleasant sunny day, last September. We were picked up from Chandigarh airport by mid-morning and transferred to Manali in a mean looking Mahindra 4 x 4 Jeep. The drive to Manali for the overnight halt was about 8 hrs. 

We set out early the second day, across Rohtang Pass into Lahaul Valley. A spectacular drive with great views of the Green Kullu valley on one side and the high Himalayan peaks of Lahaul valley on the other.  

There was a dramatic change in the landscape as we crossed Rohtang Pass - the green of kullu valley was suddenly replaced by the dry dessert of Lahaul valley. Our stay that night was in a small alpine tent in the Tandi valley.

Day three was set aside for acclimatization to the rarefied atmosphere of a little more than 8500 feet above MSL. However, we managed a drive up  to Khardong monastery, then a walk to Keylong and returned to our tents in Tandi for the overnight stay. 

Day four saw us packing our tents and departing to Pattan, the green valley of Lahaul, sprinkled with fields of green peas, hops, potatoes and so on... Enroute, we stopped at the ancient temple of Trilokinath, worshipped by both Buddhists and Hindus & renowned for its annual three-day Pauri festival. Post noon, we crossed over Chanderbhaga River to reach Rapey village for the night.

Day five – We started out early on a twelve km trek that took us about 5 hours from Rapey to Khurlu, a temporary shepherd camp at an altitude of 12795 ft. All Gaddi shepherds camp here for a few nights before going over the Kugti Pass. 

Day six was the testing day - a steep ascent from Khurlu at 12795 ft to reach Kugti Pass at 16535 ft. We then had to negotiate a huge glacial moraine and the final 1000 meters to the pass is a very steep ascent over snow and ice. 

This is the view of ‘Manimahesh Kailash’ – from Kugti Pass (16535 ft – Lahoul – Chamba)From Kugti Pass we descended to Lahes, another temporary shepherd camp area on the other side of the pass. Generally, the route down to Lahes is across the glacier. During August/September crevasses start to develop on the glacier and then one has to take a longer route on the ridge.  Our overnight stay was in tents at Lahes. 

Day seven saw us walking downhill to Duggi, over open pasture where Gaddi Shepherds spend few days before heading down on their return journey to Bharmaur and Kangra. The walk from Lahes to Duggi is about 3 to 4 hrs.  It started getting a little easy from day 8 – A moderate walk from Duggi to Kelang Temple to Kugti Village. A walk of about 4 hours..  Kelang Temple is dedicated to Lord Kartikeya and every Gaddi family in the foothills of Dhauladhar is supposed to visit this temple, at least once in their lifetime. Kugti, is the first Gaddi tribal village en route. Our Camp for the night was near the village. 

We started out early the next day to the road head at Dharol and met with our driver who took us to Bharmaur and Chamba. The ancient Chaurasi Temple  is in Bharmaur. We reached Chamba by late afternoon. I would recommend a leisurely stroll around the Chamba bazaar in the evening.. and the famous Laxmi Narayan Temple is very close. Our overnight stay was at a hotel in Chamba.

We explored Chamba in the morning and later in the evening drove to Pathankot to board an overnight train to Delhi, putting to close an amazing ten days in the high Himalayas..Thank you team Hammock.. That was a wonderful piece of coordination :)


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Pazhoor Padipura
Pazhoor Padipura
10114 people have seen this

Who does not want to know their future? To be forewarned is to be fore armed!! This has resulted in astrology and astrologers occupying a special place in Kerala’s social frame work.  One of the most revered names in Kerala astrology is the family of Paazhoor Padippura. It finds a mention in the old chronicle Aitheehyamala, establishing the ancient credentials. It has a fascinating history and there are innumerable stories about the accuracy of the astrological predictions made by the astrologers of this family.

The current astrologer of the family is Jyotish Surendran who is the 20th generation representative. He is also very famous for his predictions and usually one requires advance booking (sometimes with a wait list of a few months) to have a session. We at Hammock Holidays will try to facilitate this in the shortest possible time span.

 

Sri Surendran follows the same system of astrology founded by his great forefather Bhattathiri, which is unique to this area of Kerala. The system (called Ashtamangalya Prashnam) uses 108 shells (specially selected, cleaned and sanctified) to give advice and predict the future. Each morning Surendran offers three hours of puja (worship) to Lord Ganesha and to Guru Bhattathiri, whose Samadhi shrine (burial tomb) is within the compound. Only after invoking these blessings will he begin his practice every day. Surendran believes that though there are over 4,000 books on astrology, one may not become a complete astrologer without support from the divine power.

 

 

The stories related to this esteemed family are truly amazing. It is said that thousands of years back, the planets Mercury and Jupiter came down in human form to test the then astrologer and have some fun.. They taunted him, and the astrologer who realized with his inner vision the true identity of his visitors, felt extremely hurt about their action.  Requesting them to be seated so that he could take bath and serve them food, he made them promise not to leave the house till he returned; he went to the river and committed suicide. The belief is that the planets are still there and support the astrologers in making accurate predictions!!!

Kerala Astrology is a well-known line of astrology among the various types of astrology that are practiced around the world. Along with the person’s birth date, time and place of birth, the astrologer will also look into the various omens and other incidents that have occurred. It is claimed that astrology is a science and it is purely based on calculations and formulas. Of course, along with the knowledge in astrological science, one requires a bit of extra sensory perception too, to collect signals from the unseen world to predict the future in precision.

 

It is said that omens and analysis of incidents helps the astrologer to understand what the energy waves in the unseen world have in store for the client. The various methods and rituals that the astrologer suggests to alleviate the problems that one is facing currently is said to have the ability to turn around the energy waves. The astrologers usually suggest rituals based on one’s beliefs and religion. Kerala Astrology is not limited to Hindus, and the Pazhoor Padipura has a fair mix of people of all religions who seek their consultation.

Do get in touch with Hammock Holidays for the contact number and other details of Pazhoor Padipura.

Pazhoor Padipura  FAQ’s

Where is Pazhoor Padipura located?

Pazhoor is a small village in Ernakulam district and is situated about 30 kms south east of Kochi, near Piravom.

 

What is the first step to have a meeting?

The first step is to check if Mr. Surendran would be available and take an appointment.  This should be done very well in advance as the wait list could take a couple of months

 

Do I have to bring my Jathakam (horoscope) and the Vetila (Betel leaves) offerings?    What if I do not know the time of birth?

Ideally the horoscope, date of birth, time of birth and place of birth is required. Vetila (Betel leaves) offering has to be made (any number of betel leaves, but not less than 3.  Please ask for some betel leaves from the shop and do not specify any quantity of betel leaves) along with one whole betel nut and a 1 Re. coin. Please note that these are not available anywhere near the Padipura so one should procure these before reaching there.  Horoscope is optional in the case of Non-Hindus. Time of birth is not essential, but date and place of birth is mandatory.

 

Do I have to be involved in any prayer/ chanting/ religious rituals?

No. However, religion/ community/ caste will be considered while suggesting solutions.

 

Is Pazhoor Padippura open to all religions?

Yes.

 

What are their general timings and holidays?

They are open from 10.30 hrs - 18.00 hrs on all days except Saturdays & national and festival holidays like Onam, Vishu etc.

 

How long will a session take?

It will vary from person to person. The duration of a case depends on what steps Mr. Surendran has to take and how elaborately he needs to analyse while observing one's given details & requests.

 

Can I request Mr. Surendran to read the horoscopes of my family members?

Yes. But this has to be informed in advance while fixing the appointment. The family member need not be present.

 

What is the consulting fee involved?

There is no fixed fee charged and any amount that you wish can be given.

 

Hammock Holidays suggests Rs. 500/- to Rs. 1000/- per horoscope depending on the time consumed. The normal time spent on reading a single horoscope is approx. 30 minutes. Payment has to be made in cash. Cheques/ credit & debit cards will not be accepted.

 

For outstation clients can an appointment be fixed?

It depends on the number of cases that Mr. Surendran has on that particular date.  We recommend that it is advisable to check the availability in advance and fix an appointment.

We at Hammock Holidays will try to facilitate this in the shortest possible time span.

 

Is an English/ Hindi translator available? If so, what is the charges?

No translators will be provided; one should bring one's own translator, if required.  Communication from Mr. Surendran will be in Malayalam only.

 

Can the predictions be recorded?

Yes, it can be recorded with prior permission.

 

If the prediction is not favourable, will a “Pariharam“ (remedy) be suggested?

Yes. But it should be done in your house/ location. Mr. Surendran will suggest the necessary remedies, if any, but will not facilitate the same.


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Feng Shui
S.BS.Surendran
6449 people have seen this

S.BS.SURENDRAN is an Electrical Engineer and was initially in the Business of Power Conditioning and Telecommunications. His passion for photography and films made him explore structures and ancient Architecture which made him get involved passionately and take keen interest to pursue a career in the Science of Vaastu & Fengshui after formal training.

Trained under authentic Vaastu masters and having the lineage of Vedic scholars as ancestors, he has also received graduation and certification from the Grand Masters of Mainland for Feng Shui practices. His Feng Shui training has been exhaustive covering all the Major traditional Schools and methods including the most advanced school of Chinese fortune telling, Global Economy Analysis and Destiny Analysis.

He is the First and only Indian to receive Accreditation from the International Feng Shui Association, Singapore for his knowledge, skill and techniques.

A practicing Consultant for Vaastu and Feng Shui science for over 16 years he has been offering consultations to various Industries, Organizations, Residential projects, Film Making and villas in India, South East Asia, USA, China, Japan and Europe

Apart from integrating the science of Vaastu and Feng Shui his other specialization is “Bio-energetic” adapting the German Physicist Dr Ernst Lecher’s method to locate Danger zones (Dangerous Magnetic Spots) in a property.

Featured across many Television Channels on their Prestigious Talks Shows he has to his credit over 53 Television shows in India, Europe, Malasyia, Singapore, Dubai and Sri Lanka. The first Indian to be featured for Vaastu and Feng Shui in the Newspapers overseas viz., New Strait Times, Sun, Star , he has also offered his advice for adapting Feng Shui in Film Making, Costume designing, and for the first time Feng Shui and Vaastu was even adapted for Stage events and Film Awards function.

His skills have been extended even to specialized Logo designing and corporate identity using auspicious Feng Shui motifs, Web design for Many Office and Business establishments in india and abroad.

Much sought after speaker on the Topic of structures, Building designs and Vaastu/feng shui adaptations, he has delivered talks in Many International forums, conventions and Seminars in UAE, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China and Hong Kong.

A regular columnist and writer, his passion for writing and sharing his knowledge in the fields of his specialization has earned accolades from readers for its simplicity and clarity. His writings are published in leading Magazines and Publications globally on a regular basis.

More information and details can be obtained from www.fengshuiserver.com a very unique and interactive web site on Feng Shui.

Contact information: - www.fengshuiserver.com or email consultation@fengshuiserver.com


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Dera Village Retreat
Kalakho
5674 people have seen this

When my friend from Seattle had come to India for a visit, we decided to visit Agra & a few places in Rajasthan to give her a flavor of our beautiful country. After we finished our Agra trip, we drove from there towards a place called Dera Village Retreat (in a village called Kalakho) that I had wanted to check out for some time now.

On the way, we stopped at the Abhaneri step wells. It is one of the oldest stepwell in Rajasthan, and is considered to be among the biggest in the world.  However, this Chand Baori looks like anything but a well! This incredible square structure is 13 stories deep with beautiful steps and my friend was stunned by this unique architecture.

We then continued to drive for a short distance and found ourselves in a beautiful valley surrounded by the Aravali ranges. As we drove through the paddy fields, we were looking forward to our stay in the in the valley so peacefully away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We suddenly saw a green Oasis loom in front of our eyes and noticed some of the retreat staff waiting to welcomes us with a garland, a much needed cold towel and a refreshing welcome drink.

After a warm welcome, we were shown to our tastefully decorated cottages surrounding a beautifully manicured garden. It had all the amenities to make our stay comfortable. After we freshened up, my friend and I lunched at the charming Gol Ghar (dining area) and were served a sumptuous meal.

We decided to rest in our room for a while as we were tried after our journey. After a quick siesta and tea that was set up in the garden (where we enjoyed variety of bird sightings), we departed for our camel safari to the village inhabited by the Meena tribals. The joy and spirit of rustic life was palpable in the lively faces of the village folks.  Here, in many ways, time has stood still and globalization has had little impact. They were very eager to share their life with us and we enjoyed our time with them.

We returned to the retreat to enjoy an evening with the troupe of dancers from the nearby village performing around the bonfire.  Their dresses were so colorful and it looked beautiful in the setting sun. The dancers welcomed our participation and my friend enjoyed dancing with them completely letting go of her inhibitions.

 

In the morning, we decided to go hiking on the hills and enjoy nature up-close. I also took a cycle trip around the valley. The bird life was beautiful and we were so enthralled by the beauty of the place that we even got late for breakfast! We quickly finished our breakfast and bid goodbye to our new found friends at the retreat to drive towards Jaipur to continue our adventure.


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Nadi Astrology
Life on a palm leaf
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I had heard about Nadi Astrology from one of my family members. Naadi Astrology or Palm leaf Astrology is an ancient Indian method of recording data. It is believed that by reading through the writings on these leaves one can learn about one's past, identify the present and predict the future. Thousands of years ago, the great sages of India had the power to look into the past and future of the entire universe.

Vytheeswaran Temple, Mayiladuthurai (near Tanjavur) is considered as the prime center for Nadi Astrology. I left from Bangalore by an overnight train to reach Mayiladuthurai by morning 7AM. As Mayiladuthurai does not have good accommodation, I decided to stay at a resort in Kumbakonam.

After freshening up and a hearty breakfast, I head to Vytheeswaran Temple. It takes approximately an hour by road to reach Vytheeswaran temple. After darshan, I head to one of the renowned Nadi astrologers. There are several astrology centres, but choose wisely as very few are trustworthy. I visited a center recommended by my resort manager. I was asked to take a seat and was given a pamphlet which contained different chapters of life and the fees to predict them. One can take the entire package or choose only the ones they want to know about.

After making my selections, they took my thumbprint along with my date and time of birth. They went inside to identify my palm leaf bundle. It took approximately 20 mins for them to find it. At times, it may take an entire day or even months to find the right set of palm leaf.

I was called into a cabin and the astrologer chants a prayer and asks you to touch the palm leaf. He then starts reading from the leaf in olden Tamil and asks series of questions, to scrutinize the leaf pertaining to you. The answers need to be either a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. If you don’t know the answer, just say you don’t know or seek clarification regarding the question to ensure you have understood it.

After 30 mins of questioning, the astrologer held up a palm leaf and confirmed that it is the leaf pertaining to my life. After this process, he then draws a horoscope based on one’s date of birth.

I sought to know the future of my career, health and father’s life. After predicting my past, the astrologer moves on to present and then predicts the future for the options one has. For a small fee, the predictions can be recorded the predictions and then transfer it to a CD. As the predictions are made in Tamil, one can opt for a translator who translates the predictions in English for a small fee. At the end of the session, I was handed over the book and the CD.

Different people embrace spirituality in different ways. Spirituality is to seek the knowledge, of the reason one’s existence. I got to know my past, present and future.

I returned to the resort in the evening to my resort. I boarded an overnight train to return to Bangalore.

One can extend the stay for two more nights which helps to cover the Navagraha (nine planets) temples & Tanjavur big temple.

Contact Hammock Holidays for your spiritual journey.


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Isha Yoga Center
Finding Inner Peace
6907 people have seen this

Velliangiri Mountains: “Velliangiri” literally means, “White Mountain” – called so because of the white clouds which hang over its otherwise lush, green peaks. We understand that these Mountains have seen countless seers and sages for thousands of years, and it is at the foothills of these magnificent mountains that Isha Foundation is headquartered. 

From Bangalore, we reached Coimbatore in the wee hours of the morning, landing by 5:30 am. At the railway station, we hired a taxi to go to the Center – about an hour’s drive to the Isha Yoga Center. 

We reached the ashram and one of Isha’s volunteers, Pushpa, welcomed us. She explained that she took the Yoga program when she was in college and hence decided to dedicate her life to spreading this possibility to the world. Pushpa was our “guide” showing us around the place and answering our many questions. She gave us a special guest tag to wear during our stay in the Center.

At around 7:30AM, we were taken to Theerthakund to take a dip in its cool waters. This subterranean tank features a Rasalinga, or a solidified mercury linga, that energizes the water to become ‘theerth’. The Theerthakund prepares a person to enter the Dhyanalinga (the main feature of the Center) by enhancing one’s spiritual receptivity. Pushpa explained that the principles of modern chemistry cannot explain solidification of mercury at room temperature, but through the ancient science of Indian alchemy, this linga was created and that thousands have been benefitted from its power to rejuvenate the system. 

There are two Theerthakunds: Suryakund for men and Chandrakund for women. The men in the group went to the Suryakund while the women went into Chandrakund. Before entering, we deposited our footwear and valuables at the counter. Then we bought a pass, took a towel, and went into the changing area. After changing into our robes, we had a quick shower and entered the Theerthakund. The water came up to our shoulder level. We touched the lingam. After about fifteen minutes in the cool water, we changed into our clothes and met Pushpa again to continue our tour of the Center.

Next we were taken to the shrine of Linga Bhairavi. This is a fierce yet compassionate form of the Divine Feminine. One can make offerings in various ways. A Pooja is done by Bhairagini Maas, or priestesses. The space is designed in such a way that one naturally enters the shrine in an anti-clockwise direction.

Our next visit was to the Dhyanalinga, the essence of the yogic sciences which does not ascribe to any particular faith or belief. Right from the entrance to the Dhyanalinga, one must maintain silence. As we waited just outside the meditation shrine, we saw a variety of stone panels depicting the story of different devotees and great beings in the Yogic Lore. This included Akka Mahadevi, Kannapa Nayanar, Meiporul Nayanar, Sadashiva Brahmendra, and Poosalar. There was also a tall statue of Patanjali Maharishi and a small Vanashree shrine near the entrance. 

After about 12 minutes, when the bell was rung, we entered the main shrine, where we could sit anywhere. Those with back problems or difficulty sitting on the ground could use stools to sit. We sat with our eyes closed, elbows on our thighs and palms faced upwards. After another 12 minutes, a small bell rang to mark the end of one session. One could either stay in the shrine for another session, or move out of the meditation hall silently.

Room and Board includes stay in rooms and two meals of wholesome vegetarian food at the Bhiksha Hall. The dining at the Isha Yoga Center is called Annadanam, or a sacred offering of food. Taken in complete silence, the meal is preceded by an invocation, which are designed to make a person more receptive to the life process. The food served at the Bhiksha Hall is vegetarian Sattvic food (Foods that promotes health, vitality, strength, and tranquillity). First raw food (like salad) is served, followed by cooked vegetables, and then a whole grain item like pongal/uppuma. We also had a healthy porridge. After having brunch, everyone washes their own used dishes and glasses as a part of the dining hall discipline.

 

The brunch timings are at 10:00 am & 10:45 am. The door to the dining hall closes sharp on time, so it is best to reach the hall 10 minutes earlier. The meals are taken sitting cross-legged on the ground, in complete silence. Here also there is a separate arrangement for those with back problems or who have difficulty sitting on the ground.

After brunch, we relaxed for some time and were then guided by Pushpa to the Dhyanalinga for Nada Aradhana (offering of sounds). The offering takes place twice during the day from 11:50 am to 12:10 pm and from 5:50 pm to 6:10 pm. The Nada Aradhana started with Chinese Singing Bowls and was followed by a Sitar and some percussion. The sounds and the empty spaces of the dome had a positive vibration which energized our mind and body.

After a brief session of Nada Aradhana, we were guided to the Aumkar meditation hall. This meditation is known to have enriching qualities. It can bring peace and balance to one’s system, and is known to relieve people from numerous physical and mental ailments when practiced regularly. The event takes place from 12:30 pm to 1:15 pm, and is open to all.

After Aumkar meditation, we proceeded to the Isha Shoppe. Here there are handicrafts, apparels, food items, Yoga accessories, body care products, books and DVDs. We bought a couple of DVDs and some comfort wear.

At Isha Shoppe, there is a variety of unique apparel, some made from Hemp. Hemp is a cotton variety which is lighter than regular cotton and is quite comfortable. Kurtas and comfort trousers made from Hemp are also available.

We then headed back to our cottage and rested for some time.

Pushpa met us at around 4:00 pm and took us to the Isha Kriya session. Isha Kriya, she explained, is a simple and easy guided meditative practice – a powerful tool to cope with the hectic pace of modern life. The DVD which guides one through Isha Kriya is available in the Isha Shoppe at a nominal charge, and the guided Isha Kriya session takes place from 4:15 pm to 5:15 pm. 

After Isha Kriya, we had a couple of hours at leisure. Pushpa suggested we visited the Rejuvenation Center, which offers a variety of Ayurveda massages and other herbal medicines and supplements. There are also a variety of programs scientifically structured to bring vibrancy and proper balance to the life energies. Here, we had a body massage and a few in the group bought some general oils and tonics.

After a quick farewell and send off by Pushpa, we headed to the restaurant just outside the Yoga Center called ‘Moondram Pirai’ for a masala dosa and a cup of tea. We then proceeded to the Coimbatore railway station by 8:30 pm for our overnight journey back to Bangalore. 

Our visit to the Isha Yoga Center was just an introductory session. There are several programs that one can register for and gain benefit for the body, mind and soul. One such program is called ‘Inner Engineering’. It is a residential program for self-empowerment and personal growth. We had only a day to explore the Center, but it would be ideal to stay for a night or two to experience the Isha Yoga Center in a relaxed way! 

Contact us to arrange your visit to Isha Yoga Center.


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