June 30, 2008

To Shine On, After A Sequel and The Post of the Day

I do not usually decorate my blog with Awards, but this radiant Award was not something that I could refuse, especially after having been so lovingly invited to claim it from San's blog. Thank you San.

For participation in Sameera's contest, I was given the "I Equalled A Sequel" below and according to Sameera, my entry titled Donation was an "excellent effort" and "the few words spoke volumes."

It was fun participating though no one was selected as a clear winner of that contest.

Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised when David presented me with the Post of the Day Award for the same post.

Above all, what filled my heart to the brim were the many lovely comments and beautiful messages of encouragement from my dear readers for the same post. Thank you!

June 28, 2008

Alipura, On the way to Khajuraho

I had the pleasure of sharing a taxi to Khajuraho with C of UK and F of Germany, a lovely couple that I met in Orchha.

The journey was uneventful and included the usual sights of crowded buses, or for that matter any mode of transport packed to the brim and overflowing, and herds of cattle that have the right on roads. They act as natural speed breakers for speeding vehicles!

On a separate note, cow protection is a sentimental issue of the Hindu religion. Human to cattle bond is linked to compassion that brings with it other principles such as ahimsa and vegetarianism for Hindus. King Ashoka, who converted to Buddhism, was known to be the first person to put compassion into action by caring for animals in need and is said to have set up animal shelters.

Anyway, to get back to the road journey, someone aptly said: The drivers need good brakes, good horn, and good sense!

We stopped by at Alipura Palace for refreshments. It is a good stopover for anyone travelling on this route. Khajuraho is approximately 90 kms away from Alipura.

The Alipura Palace was the home to Raja Manvendra Singh and his family. The Palace walls are decorated with old trophies and souvenirs that gives a good insight of the royalty of the Bundelkhands. Alipura heritage dates back to 300 years with its ancestors being rulers of Panna for several decades.

June 27, 2008


This post is inspired by Spiritwoman, a blogger I stumbled across last month, who made me realize, while exchanging comments at this post, that the world is not wicked.

We're empowered
To change the world
No excuses
For lack of solutions
Take individual responsibility
For what's happening

It must be an objective
Not an ideal
To have a world
Without war
Not fear nightmares
Instead make peace a reality

Let's contribute to world peace
With our actions
Let's believe in ourselves
And start right…now!

You must be the change you want to see in the world.
- Mahatma Gandhi

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.
- Mother Theresa

Related posts:

June 26, 2008

India Travel Blog

Arun at India Travel Blog is writing an exciting Walks in India series. Some of the interesting places that he has already covered are:

Please visit Arun and you are sure to like his blog. I'm an ardent fan of Arun's photography.

June 24, 2008

Tranquil Tuesday

In lush forests of
Bandhavgarh National Park, live
Playful chinkaras

Grazing on gold grass
Oblivious of future, dwell
These spry spotted deer

June 23, 2008



I've had a busy week. Had intended to write a good post on my blog anniversary but the day is almost up and I have no choice but to quickly put up a few words now.

On this day, Fugue is celebrating a year in the blogworld and I'm glad. Fugue is still an infant and I hope it will grow into a fine blog some day. No matter how it has turned out so far, I've enjoyed this year of blogging. I look forward to developing this bond with you in the virtual world in times to come.

Indicaspecies' first blog post dated June 23, 2007.

My infant and moi...

I'd like to reiterate what I said in my hundredth post recently:

I wish to acknowledge each and every person who has visited my blog. For keeping me going, for dropping by, for leaving your footprints in the form of appreciation and encouraging comments, and your friendship, I thank you. It's been lovely knowing some of you beyond the blog through emails and phone calls and its truly great meeting like-minded people, thanks to this blog.

Blogging has been an interesting journey for me. Dear reader, I want to emphasize how equally interesting it has been to visit your blogs where I have discovered a variety of awesome posts with pictures. That has been a delightful experience for me.

Please join in the celebrations...

- Celine

June 22, 2008


This Haiku was inspired by the prompt of this week Melody provided at One Single Impression.

This photo was published earlier in my post titled
Symphony by the Sea.

Brightness, warm colours
Melody of chirping birds
Welcome, brand new day

June 19, 2008


An extract from my post on Palace of Datia:

"As I got down from the taxi at the Datia Palace, a little local girl in a not-too-clean white frock and dishevelled hair said 'hello' in a soprano-type sweet voice."

Hello from Datia

For those interested, a ready list of posts on the twin cities of Datia and Orchha:

1. Transience or Permanence
2. An evening in the Medieval Town of Orchha
3. Ostensibly Orchha
4. Palace of Datia
5. Of Bundelas and Mughals

Next travel post: Khajuraho

June 17, 2008

Tranquil Tuesday

Shot during my travels to the Nubra Valley of the Himalayas:

Cool, serene, pretty
Himalayan Sumur has

Snowy mountain peaks

Related Posts:

June 16, 2008

Transience or Permanence

The theme provided by One Single Impression for this week is Transience or Permanence.

Transitory life
Cenotaph of an old king
Permanent landmark

June 13, 2008

An Evening in the Medieval Town of Orchha

Though I normally break travel posts into different parts, here I have tried to fit details of my travel to Orchha in a single post. I wonder if this method is preferable.

The Legend

I would like to begin this post with an interesting story of the Bundelkhands. The Bundelas were a warrior tribe of the Rajputs. War, blood, and sacrifice were the keywords to describe Bundelas and they became a symbol of valour. There is a legend that there was a young Rajput prince who agreed to offer himself to the Vindhya goddess, Vindhyavasini.

Though there are varying versions whether he actually sacrificed himself or intended to, what’s important is that the goddess was pleased with his devotion, and she named the Prince Bundela, a translation of which is: giver of drops (to mean, one who offers drops of blood). How true or not this story is, one thing is sure that the Bundela life and Rajput history of India testifies to this act and the Orchha Bundelas came to be known as the chiefs of the Bundela clan.

History of Orchha

Orchha is a small town in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh state, India. The Rajput Bundelkhand clan ruled over Orchha for more than two centuries.

When the Tughlaqs, who were ruling Delhi in the 15th century, pushed the Bundelkhand kings out of Garkhundar, it is said that the Bundelas retreated to the remote regions of Orchha.

Orchha is believed to be founded in early 16th century by the Bundela Rajput chief, Raja Rudra Pratap Singh, who was the first King of Orchha. Of the succeeding rulers, the most notable was Raja Bir Singh Deo who built the exquisite Jehangir Mahal. Bir Singh Deo was a favored commander of the Mughal Emperor, Jehangir. Those times during his rule between 1605-1627 is believed to be the golden age of Orchha.

As I have already indicated in a previous post, there is one such interesting phase of history when the friendship of Bundelas and Mughals gave the Bundelas a special role in the politics of the region during the reigning period of Mughal Emperor, Jehangir and Bundela King, Raja Bir Singh Deo.

However, following that golden age Raja Jujhar Singh rebelled against Shah Jehan whose armies almost ruined Orchha and occupied it from 1635-1641. Now what has remained of Orchha is beautiful reminders of its majestic past.

Orchha and its twin city, Datia, were the only Bundela regions not subjugated by the Marathas in the 18th century.

Jehangir Palace

There are historical accounts that Jehangir visited Orchha to attend the coronation ceremony of Raja Bir Singh. Raja Bir Singh built the grand Datia Palace (also called Jehangir Palace) and also built the major landmark of Orchha, which is also called the Jehangir Palace, to commemorate the visit of Jehangir to Orchha in the first half of the 17th century.

Jehangir Palace

For a better understanding of this post on Orchha, I would recommend my reader to have a look at my post on Datia entitled Of Bundelas and Mughals. Here's a quick ready reference:

Akbar captured Orchha in 1604 and deposed Raja Ram Chand, Bir Singh's eldest brother. It is said that Bir Singh, an errant chieftain himself, beheaded Abul Fazl during the battle in Badoni (midway between Gwalior and Orchha) and sent his head to Salim (a young Jehangir). It is also alleged that this was done at the prompting of Jehangir, who was susceptible in those days because of his dalliance with Anarkali who apparently had irked Akbar to no end. In his memoirs Jehangir declared that it was Abul Fazl who had abused Akbar's mind so that he turned away his love for his son.

Anguished at Fazl's death and to challenge Bir Singh's audacity, Akbar tried to have Bir Singh captured. Bir Singh teamed up with Jehangir, who by then was rebelling against his own father. Bir Singh and Jehangir apparently shared distressing moments before they both ascended the throne. Interestingly, when Jehangir was imprisoned on his way to Kabul by one of his own generals, Mahabat Khan, it is alleged that Bir Singh's youngest son, Bhagwan Rao, came to his rescue and liberated him. As a token of gratitude, when Jehangir ascended the throne, he made Bir Singh Deo the ruler of Orchha and the Bundelkhand region.

Jehangir Palace, Orchha

If the Jehangir Palace in Datia was considered unique for it was never used as a residence by any king or his descendents, then it is equally interesting to note that Jehangir stayed in the Jehangir Palace of Orchha just for a day!

My Memoirs

I explored Orchha in December 2007 on my way to Khajuraho after my visits to Datia and Jhansi.

I was informed that I reached Orchha as the taxi waded through a narrow dusty road and the first scene that caught my eye in the distance was the ancient Chaturbhuj Temple against the backdrop of the beautiful Jehangir Palace. The temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu's four armed reincarnation and hence the name Chaturbhuj Temple, was built during the days of Raja Bir Singh Deo. Orchha town had a rustic look about it.

Chaturbhuj Temple

What followed was a quick drive through the streets of Orchha, and then onwards to a solid island of rock surrounded by the River Betwa. After an approach provided by an arched bridge over the River, I reached Sheesh Mahal, the place where I had made a prior booking to stay overnight.

At Sheesh Mahal

Orchha has two hotels run by the Madhya Pradesh state tourism: one, the Betwa Retreat amidst beautiful surroundings across the Betwa River, where I passed by later that evening. The other is the Sheesh Mahal in the quadrangular courtyard where the Jehangir Palace and Raj Mahal are situated.


The Sheesh Mahal is palatial and caters well for tourists. At its entrance is a board with the words Athithi Devo Bhava written on it, a Sanskrit phrase to mean a guest is the reincarnation of God. Raj, who manages the hotel and claims to be a descendant of the Kalchuri dynasty, was a gracious host at the Sheesh Mahal.

As soon as I reached Orchha, I went about exploring the place with a kind and helpful guide, Mishraji. I started with the Jehangir Palace, brief details on its history are mentioned above. Jehangir Palace is one of the most attractive monuments built at a height, and the view from there of the soaring temple spires and cenotaphs gives the Orchha town an enchanting look.

The architecture of the Jehangir Palace is of the Bundelkhand style (an interesting fusion of Mughal and Rajput styles) with the free mix of domes, symmetrical plans, surface decoration etc and I found it is similar to the architectural style of Fatehpur Sikri.

One of the doorways, Jehangir Palace

My next visit was to the Raj Mahal. Raja Rudra Pratap started the construction but his son, Bharti Chand continued. The final touches to this Palace were added by Raja Madhukar Shah, the predecessor of Raja Bir Singh Deo. It is alleged that Madhukar Shah, who was defeated in a battle by Akbar, won Akbar's friendship and respect and used to frequent the Mughal court dauntlessly sporting the banned tilak on his forehead. Akbar, being the secular emperor that he was, may have made him feel welcome!

Raj Mahal

A smaller palace nearby is the Raj Parveen Palace built in honour of the poetess, dancer, musician and the beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani. A thought: Why did Indramani not marry her? There is this legend that Akbar was so enamoured by Parveen's beauty that she was summoned to his court. She, however, so impressed the Mughal emperor with clever words to express her purity of love for Raja Indramani that he sent her back safely to Orchha!

Laxminarayan Temple entrance area

Thereafter I went to explore the famous Laxminarayana Temple. Mishraji was kind enough to take me along to the outskirts to reach there. The temple is impressive and houses an attractive range of Bundela paintings. There are vibrant murals encompassing a variety of religious themes and the ceiling of this huge ancient temple is beautifully decorated.

Laxminarayan Temple Murals

So much so was the association of Bundelas and Mughals of those times that I was surprised to learn that the entrance to the Laxminarayana Temple is diagonally located and aligned with the Jehangir Palace on the opposite side of this little town!

On the way back from Laxminarayan Temple, I stopped by at this cutely painted house and as I proceeded to photograph it, the woman of the house, on her own, stood at the doorway and posed for me.

Orchha dweller

I greeted her with a namaskar from afar as I did not wish to get too close to intrude on her privacy. It did feel good to see her smile and her hand wave in acknowledgment of my presence.

As the day was to end soon, it was then time to rush to the area where the popular 14 Orchha cenotaphs (Chattris) were located. Except for Raja Bir Singh Deo's cenotaph which is like a palace located in the flow of the River Betwa, all other cenotaphs are in the form of temples and are situated close to the river bank.

Orchha Cenotaphs

Most of the cenotaphs have a melancholic look about them, with some of them surrounded by weeds. It made me get a feeling that I was in the middle of a city of museums.

Orchha Chattris

Following that, minus Mishraji, I walked around the market place of the quaint little town of Orchha. It was fascinating to see public walkways having background of imposing monuments of the past.

Another Orchha monument

I came across quite a few sadhus (ascetic holy men) wearing varying shades of saffron robes carrying some sort of musical instrument or the other.


I wondered if they get to enjoy the music of life differently having to live on another level altogether because of their religious devotion.

During a brief inquiry at the market place with a roadside vendor, I had to shift my attention to a family who showed interest in me by starting off with broad smiles. I guess soon they found me easy to approach as I communicated with them in Hindi. Within a short time and without any request on my part, the woman went on to explain quite a bit about her personal life including how committed she was to her family and how much of care and efforts she invests in tending to her children. Perhaps she found me friendly enough to want to share those details, and in return, I mostly smiled and nodded adding some polite and relevant words.

A Family in Orchha

Here was a woman who sweetly thought the world of her family and considered domestic matters as her top priority! What could I say in return? How could I discuss my thoughts with her on matters like though a majority of women in India think and live a kind of life like she did, there is, however, a small percentage that are thankfully liberated and have been so successful that they have won several accolades in every imaginable area - to choose a few fields like in politics, sports, justice, music, activism and service, brains, beauty or films or a combination of them, or for that matter sheer selfless social service.

Then it was delightful to try out some aloo-tikki (vegetarian potato escalopes) from one of the road side stalls. That was delicious and served with a yummy sweet and tangy tamarind sauce with bits of coriander leaves sprinkled over it for garnishing.

Food stalls with Chattris in the background

From then onwards it was a feeling of awe for the rest of the evening exploring one place after the other. I recall passing by the Rama Raja Temple and further on into the areas housing palaces in the background and the "wind-catching" towers of the old times named Sawan-Bhadon by the locals. Looking around and getting absorbed in the history, sights, sounds, smells and stories of the various palaces and temples dotting Orchha was an interesting experience.

Near Saawan-Bhadon, the wind catching towers

I had presumed a day to explore Orchha would be sufficient but I was mistaken. At the end of the day I wished I had more time to spend there. Then I would not have missed out on attending the popular aarti at the famous Rama Raja Temple, where Ram is supposedly worshipped as king and not as a god, or exploring more of the fine paintings at the Raj Mahal or taking a leisurely stroll that I so wished for along the River Betwa and satiate my interest to take more photographs of the reflection of the Orchha Chattris in the River Betwa.

Most people who have been to Orchha describe it as a nondescript town but just as the very word Orchha means hidden, I found that the town did have a lot of hidden wealth about it starting from its interesting history to its rich architectural heritage. Therefore I had named my previous post as Ostensibly Orchha.

At the end of the day, I got a feeling that I was captivated with Orchha's splendour. It appeared that on this medieval town, the hand of time has rested lightly and the palaces, temples and the monuments built by its Bundela rulers have still retained much of their beauty. Few tourists are troubled to visit such small places as Orchha. Those who are endowed with an inner sense to appreciate the tranquility of the place, its rich history, its reminders of the majestic past as seen in its monuments can see its hidden treasure, and come back fulfilled. There is a certain romance about Orchha which makes me wish to revisit this city of museums.

Orchha Fort Complex at dusk

It was delightful to watch the change in hue of the Orchha monuments at sunset. I walked back to the Fort Complex when it got dark to continue enjoying the rest of the evening with the festive atmosphere of the Sheesh Mahal with live music and dance at its dining area. Little did I know then that the night was still young and much more was to follow. A state Minister was due to arrive that evening and there was to be a cultural program at the Betwa Retreat. No way would I miss that.

How to reach Orchha:

On the Jhansi-Khajuraho Road, 15 km from Jhansi and then about 10 km on the left is Orchha. Travel enthusiasts can easily make a trip to Orchha from Jhansi. Gwalior to Orchha is 110 kms. Nearest railway station is Jhansi (16 km), which is on the mainline from Delhi-Bombay and Delhi-Madras. Gwalior airport is about 110 kms while Khajuraho airport is approximately 170 kms from Orchha.

June 10, 2008

Tranquil Tuesday

Click on photo

Barren brown mountains
Winding Himalayan road
Glistening snowy peaks

June 7, 2008


In the spirit of encouraging creative writing, Sameera has a come out with a contest for her readers entitled Equal A Sequel to write a sequel to her short story Dumbstruck. I have been given special permission to present my shorter version of a tale to conclude Dumbstruck.

Here is my entry titled "Donation" in poetry as well as prose form, and yes, both are Fifty-Five Fiction.

She was blind,
Tirelessly he described,
Nature’s beauty, rainbow,
Deep in love,
Happy they are,
In every way,
Except one:
She longed to see,
Like he did.

Then one day,
He arranged it,
And she saw!
He was blind!!

She furiously yelled, “Liar.”
He departed,
Leaving a note:

“Take care of my eyes.”

She was blind. Tirelessly he described nature’s beauty and rainbow. Deeply in love, they were happy in every way except one: She longed to see, like he did. One day, he arranged it and she saw: He was blind! Shocked, she furiously yelled, “Liar.” Heartbroken, he departed leaving a note: “Take care of my eyes.”

Related posts:

June 3, 2008

June 1, 2008

Fifty-Five Fiction

According to Wikipedia, generally a short story is considered to constitute flash fiction if it is less than 1,000–2,000 words long, and most flash-fiction pieces are between 250 and 1,000 words long.

If you think it is not easy to write a story in 2,000 words, what would you say about writing a story in 55 words? Yes, it is possible!

That is Flassh55 or 55Fiction. Flash55 has been around for years but with the rage for blogging, they are making the rounds on blogs nowadays.

If 55 is not enough of a challenge for you, then try it in 6 words. A story in 6 words? I am not kidding. Yes, it is possible!

Ernest Hemingway wrote:

For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.

Picture borrowed

Then there are others:

Trust me, I did my best.
Ray Kemp

Conceived, implored, employed, adored, retired, ignored.
Joy MacKenzie

Four Weddings, Three kids, then cancer.
Gillian Johnson

Aspirations compromised by procrastination, then children.
Harry Beighton

If only I had turned left.
Robin Pickering

Which one do you like out of these? Now, for my personal taste, six-word composition is far too short, though the gems above are impressive.

These days I'm in a mood for writing Flash55. I shall choose only those words that are absolutely essential, get rid of the frills and come out with an essence of an interesting scenario, or a message, if not a story. And yes, let it be prose or poetry, whichever is easier for you.

Let us not think writing simply is not elegant. Beauty, most often, lies in the simplest of things.

Would you like to try this out? Just 55 words. No excuse of lack of time. Let's take up the challenge.

I already have, and have posted the following two:

Have a wonderful day.