For centuries, cultures across the world have used the Swastika as a sacred icon. Literally, the word Swastika is formed of two Sanskrit words ‘सु’ (meaning ‘well’ or ‘good’) and ‘अस्ति’ (meaning ‘to be’). Most Indian scriptures depict it as a symbol of well-being. For a religious-minded in India, it symbolises two Gods. One is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity––Maa Laxmi. And the other is the God of all wisdom––Lord Ganesha. Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and a large number of Eurasians regard and revere the symbol––auspicious ceremonies commence with the worship of the symbol.
For some, Swastika comprises four elements––earth, air, water and fire. It adorns the walls of places of worship. People treat it as a symbol of positive energy and good luck. From divinity and spirituality to auspiciousness and good fortune and from religiousness to mysticism, Swastika evokes many feelings (to say nothing of Hitler’s Swastika which sets afire an entirely different emotion).
can be drawn in two ways. One: with the outer elements drawn in a clockwise
direction. And two: with them being drawn in the counter clockwise direction.
Drawn any which way, a Swastika is a
lot more than the simple geometric figure it appears to be. Visit the famous Chintaman Ganesh Temple in Ujjain to
feel the power and the magic of the two Swastika.
Ganesh Temple is located on the outskirts of the holy city of Ujjain known
for its glorious past. King Vikramaditya ruled here and Kalidasa wrote the epic
Shakuntalam and Meghdutam in the serene atmosphere on the bank of the Shipra
According to the scriptures, Lord Rama
stopped here for a while during his fourteen years in exile. Finding things
amiss, he established the temple to get the blessings of Lord Ganesha. Laxman,
on his part shot an arrow into the ground to create a well to provide water for
a thirsty Sita to drink. The well called Laxman
Baori is located next to the temple.
And now about the magic of the two Swastika…
People from far and wide visit the temple
with the hope of getting their wishes fulfilled. The faithful believe that if
one draws a Swastika (anticlockwise)
and makes a wish after praying to Lord Ganesha in the temple, the wish comes
true. And then––when the wish is fulfilled––one is expected to re-visit the
temple and draw another Swastika
(clockwise, this time on). Looking at the hundreds of Swastika drawn on the temple’s walls––both anticlockwise and
clockwise––one can gauge the popularity of the Temple.
Lately, people have started complementing the
Swastika with a sacred thread for the
same effect. One ties a thread while making a wish and removes it (or any other
thread) when the wish is fulfilled. Thousands of sacred threads tell a tale of
Some of those whose wishes are fulfilled have
a curious way of conveying their gratitude to the God. They weigh themselves in
clothes, blankets, sweets or milk or food grain and donate the same to the
poor. The poor and the transgender thrive on the generosity and the largesse of
the blessed ones. At all times, the temple is thronged by two categories of
people––those with wishes to be fulfilled and those, whose wishes have been
fulfilled. The first category includes the newly married couples.
The next time when there’s an exam to be cracked; a heart to be won; a family feud to be resolved; a lottery to be won; or, peace to be restored in a tumultuous life––think of the two Swastika and the Chintaman Ganesha Temple of Ujjain (sixty kilometres from Indore Airport in Madhya Pradesh).
and exhausted when we reached The Golden Tusk, the one and only thing on our
minds was to CRASH OUT.
Like most of
our holidays, this was a miserly planned one with regards to time. We had, but
two days in our hands to be there and back. The one thing that reined our
thoughts and discussions as Chhaya and I drove the 275 odd kilometres from
NOIDA to Jim Corbett National Park, was the strong urge to spot a tiger on the
Jungle Safari the next morning. I must have driven like a man possessed, a
driver driving at Grand Prix for despite some traffic snarls, we made it in five
hours flat. We were at The Golden Tusk at 11 am.
When we arrived
at the gates we did not want food; there was no desire to go sight seeing; and
no wish even to meet our coordinator and know about the itinerary––those things
were pretty low on our list of priorities. All that we wanted was to CRASH OUT.
Was it a blunder to have set aside just two days for an excursion in Jim
Corbett? May be. May not be. Read on.
Mr Sandeep Agrawal who had helped us undertake the trip at a very short notice also guided us to The Golden Tusk. Meeting the gentleman personally was a great pleasure. Moments spent at his residence on the return leg, felt like being with an extended family.
Mr Prakash welcomed us at the resort with a disarming smile that took away a part of the travel fatigue. An exceptionally cordial concierge, he made every possible effort to make our short stay memorable. Since the trip was planned in a hurry, all we were interested in was a decent place to stay for the night. We had not cared to know much about the resort. Over a refreshing welcome drink Prakash told us briefly about the available amenities and meal timings. Let alone two, we had not imagined a single swimming pool in that resort. Not to talk of a spa in the middle of nowhere. Although we were not prepared for a swim and did not avail the spa facility, even the deliberatel slow walk past them to our room was refreshing. Then there were a whole lot of contraptions and apparatuses for the children and the adventure seekers. Everything around seemed to be conspiring against the idea of a siesta––a thing that was, until then, uppermost on our minds.
overlooking the swimming pool on one side and a vast green patch ending into
the distant hills, had everything one would dream of (and more) after a long
and tiring drive. Besides being neat and tidy, and well furnished, the accommodation
was spacious with abundant natural light. There were balconies to savour the
A warm water
bath was so refreshing that we consigned the idea of a nap to a later part of
the day and chose to go around the resort before lunch. The buffet was
lavish––a variety of Indian, Western and Chinese cuisine and, of course, a good
spread of desserts, my weakness. It was a tad confusing. What and whatnot to
eat? So we went on a binge.
More out of
kopophobia rather than actual fatigue, we forced on ourselves a half-hour
siesta. All through those thirty long minutes we were like fidgety children waiting
to get over with a forced rest period. By 3 pm we were out again taking a
stroll through the local village. We experienced life––pure as pure can be. Two
hours were gone in a jiffy. It was teatime.
Tea and really
high eats! I love good food. Had a field day. Sitting by a dry riverbed on the
lawns of the resort, we shared a cup of tea with Mr Sumit Lakhotia, the
Director of The Golden Tusk. He floored us with his genuine concern for the
comfort of the guests and his plans for expansion and improving the facilities.
His regard for the environment was admirable too; he was working towards a near
zero waste facility. I was specially drawn to something that he had in mind to
keep the golfers entertained in the future. Wow! That would perhaps be another
of the many reasons I would want to be back at The Golden Tusk at a later date.
After tea, with a lot of enthusiasm Sumit showed us around the resort. On
display were some rare plant species that he had procured from different parts
of the world. Then he took us to a grove where, at dusk, all the birds in the area
had gathered. We got an opportunity to feel a cacophony we had never
experienced before. A parliament debate on the Lok Sabha television was the
only similar thing we could recall.
At dinner, the smiling
staff (and the chefs) displayed an overwhelming sense of hospitality. They were
like hosts entertaining personal guests at home––going out of their ways to
ensure that the guests tasted almost everything that was on offer and returned
satiated. Extra care had been taken to ensure that even the toddlers were
absolutely at home.
After dinner, we
spent some time by the poolside. The shimmering water in the subdued light, and
the countless stars in the clear sky––don’t remember when we had seen such a
clear sky last––was a treat not only to the eyes, but to the mind and the soul
as well. Sleep had receded far behind in our scheme of things. We would have
spent the entire night stargazing in the armchairs by the poolside. But the lure
of a Jungle Safari––our raison d’être at Jim Corbett––coerced us to return to
the cosy comfort of our room.
We were out at
dawn, waiting eagerly to hop on to a vehicle and enjoy the Jungle Safari.
Surprisingly, a feeling of melancholy pervaded the morning air. For many awaiting
the vehicles, it wasn’t the first trip to Corbett Park. They had never seen a
tiger in their earlier trips and were not sure whether they would ever spot
Talking of ‘HOPE’.
I belong to that category of people who carry an umbrella when they go to a
temple to pray for rains. I was looking forward to a rendezvous with a tiger. We
joined two young keen bird-watchers and a guide with a driver on the Safari. It
is no wonder that in the prevailing atmosphere of hopelessness (with regards to
seeing a tiger) everyone burst out laughing when I asked the guide what were we
expected to do if a tiger were to attack our vehicle. People were mighty amused
with my hopefulness. We enjoyed the pleasant chill as we drove into the forest.
knowledge of the flora and fauna was profound. He had been perambulating up and
down that forest ever since he was a child. He knew literally all the birds and
could tweet like them. He had an answer for every question. The most striking
thing that endeared him to all of us was his unadulterated love for wildlife. We
stopped occasionally at the behest of the two young men who would discuss the
names and characteristics of the birds with the guide as they went along
clicking pictures. The guide shared interesting nuggets of information as we went
along. Looking at the elephant poop and the pugmarks he told us that an
elephant had just crossed the road we were driving on.
Apart from over
a score of different types of birds including a colourful wild fowl, we were
lucky to see a few deer and a mongoose. A tribe of monkeys with doting mothers
and frolicking little ones made a beautiful sight. A winding road through the
forest; scattered small bodies of water in an otherwise dry riverbed and myriad
shades of green––it was a different world.
Suddenly, the guide nudged the driver to pull up by the side of the road, and with a finger placed on his lips in the universal gesture urging observance of silence, in a hushed voice he told us to mind a sudden increase in the chatter of monkeys. They had all climbed a tall tree. Then the guide pointed at some deer running helter-skelter. “A tiger must be around,” he said. And, lo and behold, Chhaya spotted one in the distance, drinking water. Spellbound, we saw it walk away majestically after quenching its thirst. There was enough time to click some memorable pictures.
Seen a tiger!” A prayer had been answered.
As we moved along we saw another beautiful sight––a full-grown elephant sashaying along the road. Another dream had come true!
Soon we were
running out of time––there is a provision for levying fine for overstay in the
restricted area. Although we were now in a hurry, we did not miss a peacock
dancing. The last memorable sight was of a large number of vultures perched
high on top of the rocks. As per our guide, they were by far the happiest
members of the Corbett society––there was always enough to scavenge from.
Back at The Golden Tusk, we tore ravenously at the breakfast laid for us; thanked everyone for making our stay so very special. Wheels had rolled by noon. On the way back, the traffic didn’t permit us to pick up speed. We reached NOIDA and drove into our parking lot by 10 pm. We did CRASH OUT this time.
The stay and the fine hospitality at The Golden Tusk, the Jungle Safari, rendezvous with the tiger and the drive to and fro––everything seems like a dream.