The onset of the monsoon in Southwest India commemorates the Hindu month of Aashaadh; a time when thousands and thousands of vaishnavites across Maharashtra and the Deccan plateau undertake the waari.
Today, June 29th 2016 is the Prasthaan or the departure of the Sant Dnyaneshwar waari from Alandi. The pilgrims or waarkaris will walk nearly 27 kms to reach Bhavani Peth in Pune from Alandi this evening. The tarmac road burns up on sunny days and a less-experienced waarkari will want to hop into the next vehicle. Except, the vehicles too are slowly winding their way through the throngs of people and walking to Pune might actually be a faster option.
The waarkaris will travel a distance of nearly 230 kms from Alandi to Pandharpur in about 15 days. The waari culminates in Pandharpur on the eve of Aashadhi Ekaadashi,when thousands will line up at the doors of the Vitthal temple for darshan of their ‘sakha’ or friend. Mukhadarshan (darshan of the idol) could take days so many waarkaris opt for kalas darshan (paying obeisance to the temple tower) and return home after a bath in the Chandrabhaga River.
Here’s a photo essay in three parts to commemorate the Aashaadhi Waari 2016.
Munich, home of the Oktoberfest and FC Bayern, is also perhaps the most catholic city in Germany. Yet, an odd combination of those three seemingly incongruous elements need not put you off. For Munich is also one of the most visited cities in Europe, and not just during the annual beer chugathon celebrating the wedding of Ludwig I with Princess Therese. With its unconditionally welcoming stance towards refugees this year, Munich has also won itself a place in the most cynical of hearts. So here’s my top 4 things to do if you’re ever in the Bavarian capital.
4) Visit the Englischer Garten and watch people in wetsuits (and sometimes in Dirndls and Lederhosen) surf
If you, like me, enjoy watching other people indulge in adventure sports,head straight to Eisbach, the world’s only urban surfing spot on a manmade river. The Isar flows through Munich and a small arm of the river runs through the Englischer Garten, where it turns into a wicked little surfing spot, now haunted by hundreds of keen surfers. Feel free to stand on the bridge where you can catch some of the surfing action live at any time of the day and all times of the year, German winters notwithstanding. If watching these surfers makes you pant with excitement, you could always head back to one of the Biergaerten and chug a beer. (Only through the summer and sometimes in the autumn, depending on the weather.)
3) Catch up on history and religion
The Ohel-Jakob synagogue in Munich is built on the Saint Jakob’s Platz close to the site of the old synagogue from the 20th century. Destroyed on the Kristallnacht like most Jewish establishments on that day, it has since been rebuilt and allows visitors inside. Munich is now home to a thriving Jewish community that supports this synagogue, among other Jewish centres located nearby, including a suave kosher restaurant and a lovely museum with a quaint little bookshop. Be sure to book the Sunday visit 10 days in advance through its website. The synagogue tours are available in German and English and cost 5 Euros as of October 2015.
2) Climb on top of old man Peter
Don’t worry! This is not some sordid sexual fantasy I’m talking about. Alter Peter (Old Man Peter) is the name of the tower of the Saint Peter’s Church opposite the Rathaus am Marienplatz with its famous Glockenspiel. With nearly 300 steps leading to the top, the tower is a relic of the medieval era with its spiral staircase and narrow balcony. Need I say it, the view from the top is well-worth the literally breathtaking climb, I mean, literally, if you’re not fit, you’ll be stopping to catch your breath like, every three steps. On a good sunny day, you can see the snow-covered Alps. That apart, the view of the city in itself is rather charming, with its baroque architecture as also its stunning modern buildings. As of October 2015, a visit to the top cost 2 Euros.
1) Fill up on sugary treats.
Once you’ve had your fill of old Peter, come down and get yourself a much-needed sugar fix. Rischart is Munich’s own family-run café chain with some of Germany’s most famous Kuchen and Kaffee. The alcohol and cake-lover in me was thoroughly spoilt that day with the rich, juicy, and rum-doused Tiramisu. Strange, you’d think, that the Germans would make a better Tiramisu than the Italians. But then again, Munich is also known as the the northern-most part of Italy. Friends, meanwhile, vouch for Rischart’s Kaiserschmarm, an egg-and sugar-based specialty, from the royal house of Ludwig. Incidentally, there is a Rischart diagonally opposite the Marienplatz and Rischart also has its own tent at the Oktoberfest themed along a fairy tale. This is where you’ll catch some of their best and most-delicious Kuchen doing the rounds, even as your mind boggles at the sheer variety of German confectionary.
You know, everyone I met in Kenya and Uganda told me it is rude to photograph the locals. This is not surprising; most self-respecting folk would hate a stranger taking pictures of them to post on the internet. Wouldn’t you?
John, our chauffeur in Kenya had not minced words. “You photograph them through the car, and they’ll throw stones at it, aiming at a headlight or two. You photograph them in person, and they’ll ask you for money. So choose your options wisely.” Then he added, “And if they do get the headlights, I’m asking you for money.”
Which meant walking around, making myself conspicuous with a camera dangling around my neck was not an option. So here’s a mash-up of some human interest pictures that didn’t quite make the cut, but didn’t cost me thousands of shillings for headlights, either. Note: All, except one are taken from a speeding car to escape being hit by stones.
Chaitra is upon us and it’ll be time for the waari soon, the annual pilgrimage from Alandi/Dehu to Pandharpur. Here’s a few pictures from the Ashadhi Waari last year.