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Ajmer Sharif Dargah

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Ajmer Sharif Dargah

Ajmer Sharif Dargah, also known as Khawaja Gharib Nawaz Ajmer Dargah or Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty Dargah, is a Sufi Shrine located in the state of Rajasthan in India, which is also is also an international waqf (endowment), managed under the Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955 of Government of India. This pious site is known as one of the holiest places by Muslims, as it houses the Maqbara (grave) of Persian Sufi saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti who died in 1236, and is believed to be the direct descendant of Muhammad and is known for his secular preaching. 

It is believed that a person who prays with a pure heart, faith and loyalty at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, gets all his or her wishes fulfilled and free their souls. This monumental structure’s foundation was laid by the second Mughal Emperor Humayun and later expanded by his descendants Akbar and Shah Jahan, who also made it a point to visit Ajmer by foot on pilgrimage from Agra, at least once a year. It was also developed and contributed to by various rulers and saints, like Mohammad Bin Tughlaq, the Sultan of Delhi, and Sultan Mahmood Khilji.

Image result for ajmer sharif dargah bomb blastWhen this place has offered nothing but good, it has also been a target of the evil. On 11 October 2007, during Ramadan’s  (Ramazan) evening prayers preceding the holy fast’s break, an explosion was set off in the Dargah Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s courtyard. The bomb planted inside a tiffin carrier took 7 lives and injured 17 people, who had come with pure intentions to prosper under God’s grace, but instead perished. The grieved parties had to wait for over 10 years to get justice, as on 22 March 2017, The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court, sentenced two terrorists named Bhavesh Patel and Davendra Gupta to life imprisonment.

You need not have to be religious in order to visit this place, as the serenity this architectural marvel offers, is not something that you would get anywhere else. And if you are religious, you have the icing on your cake, as you couldn’t find a better place for connecting to your spiritual self.

Dazzling Dhokra

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dhokra

Dating back to the time of Indus Valley Civilization, Dhokra is one of the most ancient crafts known to mankind and also the earliest known method of non-ferrous metal casting. Particularly famous in the state of West Bengal and Odisha in India, Dhokra uses the lost-wax technique to cast non-ferrous metal into fascinating figurines and other artifacts. The legendary dancing girl of Mohenjo-Daro is one of the earliest known lost-wax artifacts found, processed in around 2300-1750 BCE, in one of the earliest human cities, Mohenjo-Daro (present in modern-day Pakistan).

dhokra

Dhokrian art is in great demand, in domestic and foreign markets because of it’s intrinsic simplicity, enchanting folk motifs, forceful form and varied utilization. These figurines fashioned from bronze and copper alloys, can take up to a month or two at the least to be created, as the process of making them involves various stages. The first stage in the process of lost wax hollow casting consists of developing a clay core which is slightly smaller than the desired artefact. Then, after it is left to dry in the sun, the clay core is covered by a layer of wax, that is the desired thickness of the artefact and is composed of pure beeswax, resin from the tree “Damara orientalis”, and nut oil. The wax is then coated in a thin layer of clay and shaped and carved in all its finer details of design and decorations. After this clay layer dries, it is then covered with numerous layers of clay subsequently, which take the negative form of the wax on the inside, thus becoming a mold for the metal that will be poured inside it. It is then heated in order for the wax layer to melt.

hollow wax metal castingMetal Pouring Molds

Once the wax has been drained off, the molten metal is poured into the cavity through multiple channels, often using brass scrap as basic raw material and left to take the shape of the clay mold. When the metal has cooled off and dried, the clay mold is broken off into two or three equal pieces and the metal artifact is revealed. The final step in the process is applying a patina to the metal object. This process enhances the surface by creating color through the application of various chemicals. A final coat of wax is applied to enhance and preserve the patina.

It is interesting to note that no two Dhokra art pieces can ever look the same because the mold is broken. What’s more, these object arts do not a single joint in them!

Athirapally Water Falls

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Athirapally Water Falls

Athirappilly Falls is situated in Kerala, India on the Chalakudy River, which originates from the upper reaches of the Western Ghats at the entrance to the Sholayar ranges. It is the largest waterfall in Kerala, which stands tall at 80 feet. Athirappally is a first-grade Grama Panjayat with 489.00 km2 area in Chalakudy  Taluk, Thrissur District in Kerala, India. It is located 60 km from Thrissur city, 70 km northeast of Kochi city, 55 km northeast of Cochin International Airport, and 30 km from Chalakudy town.

Athirapally Water Falls

The Athirappally is situated 1000 feet above sea level on the Chalakudy River, at the entrance to the Sholayar ranges of the Western Ghats; Athirappalli is a scenic combination of forests and little streams. Falling from a height of 80 feet, this is one of the largest waterfalls in the state. Many endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna are found in the forests of the Athirapilly-Vazhachal area.

WaterFalls

Located in the Western Ghats

This area is the only place in the Western Ghats where four endangered hornbill species are seen. The Western Ghats is one of the most important biodiversity hot spots in the world. This valuable natural world is already degraded by mining and hydroelectric projects. Environmentalists claim that Athirapally is a one-of its-kind riparian ecosystem in Kerala.

V.S. Vijayan, Chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board and former Director of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Coimbatore, has been quoted in Down to Earth magazine as affirming that the Vazhachal forest division is the second most biodiverse area in the State.

The International Bird Association has declared it an “Important Bird Area” and the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation has recommended that the area should be declared a sanctuary or a national park, he points out. The Wildlife Trust of India says it represents one of India’s best elephant conservation efforts. “Any disruption to this fragile ecosystem will spell disaster,” says Vijayan.

Western Ghat

Tourism

Athirappilly is popular among tourists. Athirappally Falls is one of the best places to visit in Kerala, which Athirappilly States with neighboring Ayyampuzha Panchayath. Another popular waterfall to visit is the Vazhachal Falls. Athirappilly Falls is a part of Chalakudy River and it is approximately 80 feet in height.

Athirappilly is easily reachable from Chalakudy by taking a vehicle for rent or by bus from the Chalakudy private bus terminal. Proper precautions are taken on-site to prevent mishaps while swimming and a police camp is always positioned there. Athirappilly is situated on SH-21 highway connecting Tamil Nadu and Kerala, night driving is not advised. But you can enjoy the adventurous drive in the middle of the jungle.

Jungle Safari

Daily Jungle Safari trips are organized by Thrissur District Tourism Promotion Council with Athirappally Destination Management Council from Chalakudy to Malakkappara. It is the most attractive wildlife watch and Ecotourism Jungle safari through the evergreen forest of Sholayar ranges of Western Ghats – Kerala. It is also the most beautiful Jungle Safari watching Wildlife in entire Kerala and is about 90 km across the rain forests of Sholayar ranges.

A unique opportunity to experience the rich flora & fauna of Athirapally-Vazhachal Ecotourism, covering Kauthukapark, Thumboormuzhy Dam & Butterflygarden, Athirapally waterfalls, Vazhachal falls, 40 km of amidst thick forests, valleys, lofty peaks, tea garden and wildlife.

WaterFalls

Athirappilly hydro-electric project

The 163-MW Athirappilly hydro-electric project was proposed in 1996 by the Kerala State Electricity Board, which was to include a dam of 23-metre height, with a storage capacity of 8.44MCM, on the Chalakkudy River in the Vazhachal Forest Division.

Maniratnam film location

Noted Tamil film director, Maniratnam, has a huge fascination for this spot that a lot of his movies are shot here. Ravanan was almost fully shot in this location. The movies Dil Se, Kannathil Muthamittal, Iruvar, Guru have songs shot here.

“Arjuna Arjuna” song featuring Sarathkumar and Namitha was shot in this location. The rain song (“Adada Mazhaida”) Tamil movie featuring Karthi and Tamannaah, was shot at the Athirappilly waterfalls in Kerala. Punnagaimannan and captain Prabhakaran also shot here.

Best time to visit

An Athirapally waterfall never dries out and can be visited anytime during the year. Though the waterfall appears in its full glory during monsoons, heavy rains cause inconvenience. So, the best time to visit is from September to January. Near the top of the falls yes, you can swim/splash, take a bath in the pool areas.

Athirapally Falls

  • Weather: 26° C.
  • Timings: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
  • Time Required: 6-7 hours.
  • Entry Fee: INR 15 per person for adults