Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sweetly yours; lesser known yummy Bengali sweets

Bengal is well known for its sweets. When we say Bengali sweets, Rossogolla comes on top of our mind.

But there are a lot more sweets in Bengal that deserve mention. Come winter, homemade sweets become the hot favourite!
Pattishapta-Bengali sweet
Shankranti is celebrated with homemade traditional sweets known as pithe (p-e-e-tt-he) in the local language.
Pulir pithe

Patali gur or jaggery made out of date palms is the common ingredient or sweetener for these sweets. Not only does it add colour to the sweet, the flavour makes the sweet even more delicious.There are a variety of pithes- Pattishapta, Pulir pithe, Gokul pithe, sweet potato pithe, Chitoi pithe, and the list goes on. If you are fond of sweets, you must visit Kolkata during winter, not only are the shops full of yummy sweet meats, if you are lucky you will find some of the sweet shops selling pithes as well.
Karaishootir Kochuri
(peas kachori)
The most popular breakfast during winter in Bengal is Karaishootir kochuri (peas kachori). These are essentially puris stuffed with sweet peas. The peas are grinded with masalas and made into a  paste. This is used as a stuffing for the puris. The dough for the puri is made out of maida (all purpose flour) and not atta (whole-wheat flour). Karaishootir kochuri is usually accompanied with aloo dum and dhaniya patta chutney.

Just talking about is making my mouth water. My brunch today was Karaishootir kochuri, aloo dum with dhaniya patta chutney followed by Pattishapta.

What more can I ask for? Life is good.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India

View of the Mahabodhi
temple complex
In continuation with my Bihar trip, after reaching our hotel at around 10.30 pm, a hot bath and hot and delicious stuffed parathas for dinner revived us completely.

We were eager to visit the Mahabodhi temple, and the other beautiful Buddhist temples in Bodh Gaya.We checked out of the hotel at around 7.30 am in morning. Our packed agenda did not allow for much relaxation. There was so much to see and just 24 little hours!

We wanted to make the most of every precious hour. Our plan was to tour Bodh Gaya, then Gaya, followed by Rajgir and Nalanda, all in one day!

A bit about the history of Mahabodhi temple: In the 6th century, Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment at this spot. Emperor Ashoka set up a throne of sandstone to represent the spot. A sandstone railing was constructed around it in the 3rd century BC.The present Mahabodhi temple was constructed in 6th century AD. There have been several restorations after that. There has been a lot of contribution by Burmese, British, and Indian archeologists in repairing the temple.

This is the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site.

Buddha spent seven weeks at different spots within the now Mahabodhi temple complex. You may want to visit - for more information on Mahabodhi temple.

Mahabodhi temple
Mahabodhi temple

Bodhi tree

Cankamana : Buddha spent his third week walking up and down this platform. Each lotus represents the spots where Budhha's feet rested.

Bodhi tree (Bodhi Palankya) : The place of enlightenment

Temple outer walls
A section of the beautiful

Towards the entrance
Beautiful lotus flowers

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Baul from Bangladesh singing at the Jadavpur Baul mela, 2013

Sharing another baul song, sung by a well-known baul from Bangladesh at the Jadavpur Baul mela January 6th 2013. The video is not that good because there was too much light reflecting on my camera. But the song is really nice. It is in bengali but I think even if you don't understand Bengali, you might enjoy listening to it because there someting so spiritual about it.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Baul mela at Jadavpur, Kolkata, Jan 2013

I had the most wonderful weekend!

Saw some great baul performances at the annual baul mela. It is organized at the Shaktigarh math in Jadavpur, Kolkata (WB), every year in January. This time thankfully it happened to be a weekend (January 5th-6th 2013)!

Shaktigarh math looked like mini Shantiniketan. The highlight of course was baul performers mesmerizing the audience with wonderfully soulful compositions, and the mela with lots of food to gorge on, and handicrafts on sale from Shantiniketan.

I am sharing a video of one of the baul performances.Hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Barabar caves, Bihar, India

Lomas Rishi cave
This post is in continuation to my earlier post on my Bihar trip. Our next stop was Kumrahar excavation site which happens to be the site of ancient Pataliputra. We spent some time going through excavations. We set off from there around 1.30 pm. After doing another  60 kms, we reached Jehanabad at around 2.30 pm. Barabar caves are located in Jehanabad district of Bihar.

Barabar caves, are believed to be the oldest surviving rock-cut caves from the Mauryan period. Some the caves have Ashokan inscriptions on them. The amazing part of these caves were the inside walls, they looked so new and were shining as if they were recently polished. It is unbelievable that something so old (322-185 BC) can look so new! I think the answer lies in the fact that it is carved out of granite and therefore looks so new and polished!

Out of the four caves of Barabar hill, we saw The Lomas Rishi and Sudama caves. A must visit if you like ancient structures; after all, these caves are one of a kind. The only thing you need to consider is the roads, while returning from Barabar, we decided to take a shorter route because it was getting dark and we had to reach, Bodh Gaya, our next destination. We made a huge mistake, we took a road that was almost non-existent, negotiating through it was really tough and we reached Bodh Gaya after 10 pm! After that experience, we decided not to take any short cuts:)

On the way to
Barabar hills

Barabar caves

Entrance to the cave
work on the arch

Inscription on the
entrance arch