Sunday, January 3, 2016

Floating post office

Tourists to Jammu and Kashmir now have another attraction - a floating post office on the Dal Lake in Srinagar, the first in the country. It was inaugurated on August 2011.

India has the largest postal network in the world with over 1, 55,015 post offices. A single post office on an average serves a population of 7,175 people. The floating post office is definitely a new feather on the cap.

Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology(IT), and Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, inaugurated the floating post office on Monday.

"This innovation by India Post will be a boon for the tourists visiting the lake," Pilot said in a statement. Pilot also launched two special postal covers on the Dal Lake.

"It is a befitting tribute to the lake, which is one of the most famous and often quoted symbols of Kashmir, and often referred to as the crown of Kashmir," he said.

Pilot later launched a special mail van service from Srinagar to Shopian district.

Besides offering normal services, the place will also have a philately museum and a shop that will sell postage stamps and other products. A real charmer, the floating post office-cum-philately museum fits itself into a largish boat and is moored right on the Boulevard. You can step into it for free and admire the lovely magnified representations of Indian stamps through the decades. You can even pick up picture postcards. A pack of 8 postcards would cost you something around INR 100.

"This is the first such post office in India. It has been made as a tourist focus post office on a huge house boat and will provide a unique and tourist-friendly service to the people of Kashmir and to tourists from across the world," John Samuel, the state's chief post master, told.

Samuel also said that the special feature of this post office is that letters posted from here will carry a special design which will have the picturesque sceneries of Dal Lake and Srinagar city.

"These pictures will reach wherever these letters will be posted and will promote Kashmir as a tourist destination across the world," he said.

The postal department currently has 1,693 post offices in Jammu and Kashmir.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Largest Kitchen in Jagannath Temple

Jagannath Temple at Puri in India is said to have the largest kitchen in the world. This kitchen feeds thousands of devotees every day. The kitchen prepares food for 100,000 people on a festival day and for about 25,000 on a normal day.

Sri Jagannath is said to be the Lord of the Universe. His Kitchen is considered as the largest and the biggest Kitchen in the world. It is situated south-east direction of the outer compound of Srimandir. The length of the Kitchen is 150 feet, breadth is 100 feet and height is about 20 feet. It consists of 32 rooms with 250 earthen ovens within these. Around 600cooks(Suaras) and 400 assistants serve here everyday for preparing Lord's food.

These are three types of hearths in the Kitchen of Srimandir such as Anna Chuli, Ahia Chuli and Pitha Chuli. The dimension of hearths where rice is prepared are 4' x 2.5' x 2'. The rectangular space created between two rice hearths is called Ahia. All types of Dal and Curry items are cooked in Ahia Chuli. There are only ten numbers of Pitha Chuli in the temple Kitchen which are made of cement. The fire of this Kitchen is Known as Vaishnava Agni, because it is the fire in the Kitchen of Lord Jagannath and used to serve Vishnu Himself. It is never put out.

It is believe that Mahalaxmi cooks in the Kitchen Herself; all are felt to be her servants. As she is not attentive to the cooking on the days when Lord Jagannath is said to be sick before Rath Yatra, the food is less tasty. During Rath Yatra when Lord Jagannath is in Sri Gundicha Temple. She is said to have no zeal to cook and so the food is tasteless. It is also said that if mother Laxmi is displeased with the preparations by the cooks, a dog will appear mysteriously on the temple grounds. If the dog is seen, all the food must be buried and prepared again. As no dog is allowed to enter the temple, this dog is said to be Kutama Chandi, a tantric goddess in change of purification of food.

Four types of cooking are prepared in the Kitchen of Srimandir. Those are Bhimapaka, Nalapaka, Souripaka and Gouripaka. The items of Bhimapaka consists Badatiana, Gudakhuara, Pakala Nadia Rasa, Purapitha,Biripitha and Gudakanji. In Nalapaka, items like Sakara, Tianlapara, Adanga and different types of sweet drinks are prepared. Souripaka items include Mahura, Deshialubhaja, Kadalibhaja, Adapachedi, Ghialabanga and varieties of cakes. In Gouripaka, Mugatiana, Leutia, Kosala and Madhura Lalita Saga items are cooked.

In the Kitchen of Srimandir, four types of rice dishes are prepared. These are Salianna, Khiraanna, Dadhianna and Sitalaanna. Sunakhila rice cooks along with ghee and Phalatabha Kharada Lavana to get Salianna. For geeting Khiraanna alongwith Basumati rice, cow milk, ghee and Kharada Lavana are mixed and cooked. Similarly plain rice mixed with curd, Dhdhianna is prepared and rice mixed with Tabharasa and Kharada Lavana; Sitalaanna is prepared.

The food in the temple Kitchen is prepared in such a pure way and with deep devotion; great spiritual impact is felt, both by those who cook and those who eat. The unique feature is that, clay pots are placed in a special earthen oven, five in numbers, one on the top of another. Yet the one on the top is cooked first.

There are two wells in the temple complex for the purpose of supplying water to the Kitchen. These are named as Ganga and Jamuna and both are near the kitchen itself. The radius of the well is more that 10 feet and depth is 100 feet each.

All the necessary commodities for the temple Kitchen are brought from Mahalaxmi Bhandar, which runs by Suara Nijoga Cooperative Society. The earthen pots used for cooking foods are provided by Kumbhakara and nearby areas supply these pots to the temple Kitchen. The required timber for the kitchen was previously supplied from different forests of the State. But after nationalisation of forests, these State Forest Corporation is providing timbers for cooking purpose.

According to Saroj Kumar Panda, Principal of Gadibrahma College, Delang, Puri, Daily 25,000 persons may be fed, but on big festival days, one to ten million may be accommodated. The temple Kitchen of Lord Jagannath is therefore considered to be the biggest hotel in the World, serving all without reservation or previous notice.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Chandrayaan reached the final resting orbit, about 100 kms from the moon on 12th November 2008. Chandrayaan will remain in this orbit for the next two years. During its remaining lifetime of 2 years, the terrain mapping camera will make a detailed study of the moon's surface to create a three dimentional map of the moon. It will also search for minerals and ice.

ISRO has carried out three orbit-lowering moves since the spacecraft entered the lunar orbit on 8th November. The spacecraft, which was launched on October 22, was propelled on its 4,00,000-km voyage to the moon in a number of stages, with its orbit being raised progressively towards the moon by activating its liquid motor.

The tricolour landed on the Moon at 8.31 pm on 14th November, opening a new chapter in the history of India’s space exploration.The tricolour was painted on all sides of the 29 kg Moon Impact Probe (MIP) which was attached to the top portion of the main lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan. The MIP is the brainchild of former President A P J Abdul Kalam who witnessed its separation from the main orbiting craft and its crashlanding 32 km from the Shackleton crater on the moon’s south pole from the mission control room at ISRO’s telemetry, tracking and command network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore.

During its flight, its video camera took pictures of the Moon, the spectrometer began its analysis and the altitude meter did what is known as a ranging. While approaching the Moon, it slowed down slightly, then spun. While spinning, its three instruments went into action. When it was 5 km above the Moon’s surface, the altimeter did the ‘ranging of the Moon’. ‘‘All this while the atmosphere was pretty tense in the mission control room,’’ said a scientist.

Other entities which have reached the Moon are the US, former Soviet Union, Japan (albeit via a malfunction that sent its orbiter crashing onto the lunar surface) and the European Space Agency (17 nations). India becomes the fifth member of this club.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


The earliest traces of civilization in the Indian subcontinent are to be found in places along, or close, to the Indus river. The greater Indus region was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia and China. It was not discovered until the 1920's. Excavations first conducted in 1921-22, in the ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, both now in Pakistan, pointed to a highly complex civilization that first developed some 4,500-5,000 years ago, and subsequent archaeological and historical research has now furnished us with a more detailed picture of the Indus Valley Civilization and its inhabitants. Most of its ruins, even its major cities, remain to be excavated.

Many questions about the Indus people who created this highly complex culture remain unanswered, but other aspects of their society can be answered through various types of archaeological studies.

There seems to have been another large river which ran parallel and west of the Indus in the third and fourth millenium BCE. This was the ancient Saraswati-Ghaggar-Hakra River (which some scholars associate with the Saraswati River of the Rig Veda). Its lost banks are slowly being traced by researchers by various modern techniques of satellite imagery. Along its now dry bed, archaeologists are discovering a whole new set of ancient towns and cities.

Harappa was a city in the Indus civilization that flourished around 2600 to 1700 BCE in the western part of South Asia.
Mohenjo Daro, or "Mound of the Dead" is another famous ancient city of the Indus Valley Civilization that flourished between 2600 and 1900 BCE. It was one of the first ancient cities in the world. The site was discovered in the 1920s and lies in Pakistan's Sindh province. Only a handful of archaeologists have excavated here, described in the introduction and illustrated essay Mohenjodaro: An Ancient Indus Valley Metropolis. The excavation at Mohenjo-daro was led by Rakhal Das Banerjee, E. J. H. MacKay, and Sir John Marshall.

The Indus Valley people were most likely Dravidians, who may have been pushed down into south India when the Aryans, with their more advanced military technology, commenced their migrations to India around 2,000 BCE. Though the Indus Valley script remains undeciphered down to the present day, the numerous seals discovered during the excavations, as well as statuary and pottery, not to mention the ruins of numerous Indus Valley cities, have enabled scholars to construct a reasonably plausible account of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Sikkim was an independent nation till the year 1975. However, in the spring of 1975, unavoidable circumstances led to its inclusion to the Indian Union as its 22nd state.

In 1947, a popular vote rejected Sikkim's joining the Indian Union and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to a special protectorate status for Sikkim. Sikkim came under the suzerainty of India, which controlled its external affairs, defence, diplomacy and communications, but Sikkim otherwise retained autonomy. A state council was established in 1955 to allow for constitutional government under the Chogyal.

Meanwhile trouble was brewing in the state after the Sikkim National Congress demanded fresh elections and greater representation for the Nepalese. In 1973, riots in front of the palace led to a formal request for protection from India. A historic agreement was made on 8th May, 1973, between the Chogyal, the leaders of the political parties representing the people of Sikkim and the Government of India supported by the unanimous desire of the members of the Sikkim Assembly. The Chogyal promulgated a Bill on the 4th July, 1974 as the Government of Sikkim Act, 1974. For the speedy development of Sikkim in the social, economic and political fields, section 30 of the Government of Sikkim Act, 1974 empowers the Government of Sikkim, inter alia, to seek participation and representation for the people of Sikkim in the political institutions of India. On the 28th June, 1974, after passing the Government of Sikkim Bill, the Sikkim Assembly resolved unanimously that measures should be taken, amongst other things, for seeking representation for the people of Sikkim in India's parliamentary system.
The Chogyal was proving to be extremely unpopular with the people. In 1975, the Kazi (Prime Minister) appealed to the Indian Parliament for a change in Sikkim's status so that it could become a state of India. In April, the Indian Army moved into Sikkim, seizing the city of Gangtok and disarming the Palace Guards. A referendum was held in which 97.5% of the people voted to join the Indian Union. A few weeks later, on May 16, 1975, Sikkim officially became the 22nd state of the Indian Union and the monarchy was abolished.

In 2000, in a major embarrassment for the government of the People's Republic of China, the seventeenth Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje, who had been proclaimed a Lama by China, made a dramatic escape from Tibet to the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. Chinese officials were in a quandary on this issue, as any protests to India would mean an explicit endorsement of India's governance of Sikkim, which the Chinese still regarded as an independent state occupied by India. China eventually recognised Sikkim as an Indian state in 2003, on the condition that India accepted Tibet as a part of China. This mutual agreement led to a thaw in Sino-Indian relations. On July 6, 2006 the Himalayan pass of Nathula was opened to cross-border trade, further evidence of improving relations in the region.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


India's maiden lunar mission was launched successfully Wednesday at 6.22 am IST when the unmanned Chandrayan-1 spacecraft was placed in orbit by the Polar Launch Vehicle. All the different stages of the rockets performed flawlessly to place the spacecraft smmothly into orbit. With successful launch of Chandrayaan-I, India today became the sixth nation to send a moon mission. India joined the elite club of moon faring nations -- the US, Russia, European Space Agency, China and Japan.

Live Television pictures showed the PSLV-C11 blast off from Sriharikota off the coast of southern Andhra Pradesh state. About 18 minutes later, the 1,380 kilogram, or 3.042-pound, Chandrayaan-1, carrying 11 payloads, was placed into Earth's orbit amid loud cheers from Indian Space Research Organization scientists.

The Chandrayan objectives include finding water in the polar region of moon and Helium-3 gas, a replacement for fossil fuels. The mission will last about 30 months. The spacecraft is to reach its targeted lunar orbit at a height of about 62 miles from the surface after about two weeks, the Press Trust of India reported.

Another interesting objective of the Chandrayan-1 is the attempting to place the Indian flag on the moon's surface. If successful, it would make India just the fourth country in the world to have ever done so after Russia, America and Japan. The flag will fly all the 4,00,000 kilometers to the moon on Chandrayaan-1 and on command from Indian space scientists, it will hurtle down to the moon's surface. Called the Moon Impact Probe, this 35 kilogram computer monitor sized instrument was included on Chandryaan-1 at the proposal of former President APJ Abdul Kalam.

The 11 payloads include five from India, three from the European Space Agency, two from the United States and one from Bulgaria.The U.S. payload consists of lunar mapping instruments. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said its Moon Mineralogy Mapper will assess mineral resources and its Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar will map the lunar polar regions looking for ice deposits.

The ground segment of the Chandrayaan mission mainly consists of Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN), Spacecraft Control Centre (SCC) and the Indian Space Science Data Centre (ISSDC).

Monday, October 6, 2008


Bhitarkanika is a fascinating location of rich, lush green vibrant eco-system lying in the estuarine region of Brahmani- Baitarani in the North-Eastern corner of Kendrapara district of Orissa. The area is intersected by a network of creeks with Bay of Bengal on the East. The alley between the meandering creeks and rivers, houses the second largest viable mangrove eco-system of India.

Bhitarkanika is a hot-spot of biodiversity. During 2002 the Bhitarkanika mangroves having an area of 2672 sq-km. been declared as a Ramsar site being a wetland of international importance. It's home to India's largest population of giant salt water crocodile, the largest crocodile on earth. Also home to more than 215 species of avifauna including amazing eight variety of Kingfishers. It is the second largest viable Mangrove Eco-System in India. Gahirmatha beach, which forms the eastern boundary of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary sup ports the largest known nesting beach of olive ridley sea turtle in the world. Nearly half a million olive ridleys nest every year at Gahirmatha. Its 672 sq.kms. of mangrove forest & wetland, provides home to well over 215 species of birds including winter migrants from central-Asia and Europe. Giant salt water crocodiles and variety of other Wildlife inhabitate in this eco-system which form Asia's one of the most spectacular Wildlife area.


An area of 145 Sq.kms. have been notified as Bhitarkanika National Park vide Notification No.19686/F & E dated 16.9.1998 of Forests & Environment Department, Govt. of Orissa. It has much significance with regard to ecological geomorphological and biological background which includes mangrove forests, rivers, creeks, estuaries, back water, accreted land and mud flats. Bhitarkanika National Park is the core area of Bhitarkanika Sanctuary.


Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary was declared vide notification No.6958/FF AH Dtd. 22.04.1975 over an area of 672 square kilometers. The Sanctuary comprising Mangrove Forests meandering rivers, innumerable criss-crossed tidal inundated creeks provide last refuge to the already endangered salt water Crocodile (Crocodile Porosus). Besides estuarine Crocodile, the Sanctuary is rich in avifauna mammalian and reptilian population. Theses Mangrove forests are good habitat for King Cobra, Indian Python and Water Monitor Lizard. A large number of water birds visit Bagagahan heronry which is an area of approximately 4 hectare. within the Bhitarkanika Forest Block near Suajore creek from the month of June to October. Most of the Birds are Asian open bill. Egrets. Black Ibis, Cormorants, Darters & etc.


Bhitarkanika is one of the largest contiguous patches of mangrove forest in the country, representing the Indo-Malayan mangrove community. So far 58 species of mangroves have been recorded in India of which 55 are found in Bhitarkanika. Mangorves forests are salt tolerant, complex and dynamic eco-system that occur in tropical and subtropical silt deposited inter-tidal regions. Bhitarkanika sustains more than 70 species of plants among Mangrove and its associates. Existence of three species of Rhizophora, Heritiera and Avicennia each and four species of Bruguiera are some of the interesting features of flora of Bhitarkanika. In Bhitarkanika a variety of wild rice grows abundantly in tidal mud flats. Based on the genetic strain of this wild rice, several saline and flood resistant varieties of rice have been developed.

Bhitarkanika harbours one of the largest populations of endangered saltwater crocodile in India and is globally unique in that 10 percent of the adults exceed 6 m length. Nearly 700 saltwater crocodiles inhabit Bhitarkanika and its associated river systems. Nearly half a million olive ridley sea turtles on an average, nest every year along the Gahirmatha coast of Bhitarkanika. Besides water monitor, which is common, yellow and common monitors are also sympatric here. The mangrove forests and its adjoining wetlands support large number of resident as well as migratory waterfowl. Of the 174 species of birds, 82 breed here and 57 species winter in Bhitarkanika. The endangered lesser adjutant stork also breeds here. Bhitarkanika is also home for several mammals. Five species of marine dolphins have been recorded from the area. The common species encountered in this area is the Indo - pacific humpbacked dolphin. Notable among the other mammalian fauna of Bhitarkanika are striped hyaena, fishing cat, jungle cat, smooth - coated otter, civet, Indian porcupine, wild boar, spotted deer and sambar. One of the largest heronries in the country is located here. More than 20,000 birds consisting of 11 species nest in this heronry during June to November every year.

Air : The nearest airport is situated at Bhubaneswar.

Rail : The nearest railhead is situated at Cuttack and Bhadrakh.

Road : One can reach the sanctuary from north through Rajnagar via Bhadrakh and from south through Rajnagar via Patamundai, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.