Sunday, 23 November 2014

Places to visit in McLeodganj: The Church of St John-in-the-Wilderness

As the name suggest even now this church is still in the grandeur of the local wilderness set amidst the deodar and pine trees with lofty snow capped mountains in the background.
The Church of St John-in-the-Wilderness, McLeodganj 

This church was built by the British in 1852 and is surrounded by big deodar trees and marble gravestones. This again is an interesting area to go to by walking. It is an Anglican Church dedicated to John the Baptist (as the name suggests). This building is built in neo-Gothic style.

Side view of the Church of St. Jojn-in-the-Wilderness

One can walk to The Church of St John-in-the-Wilderness in thirty minutes or so. Also if you are interested than you can make it a circuitous trip by first going to the Dal Lake and from there come down to this church and then reach back to McLeodganj thereby spending one full day of visiting places and walking/trekking in pristine surroundings. One can make the circuit the other way round if you want to make the trek tougher.

Inside the Church - see the beautiful stained glass

It is a very small church and still very well maintained despite being more than 160 years old.  Inside the church I could see Belgian stained-glass windows donated by Lady Elgin, wife of Lord Elgin.

The snow capped mountains as seen from near the Church
Besides the church it is the graveyard that presents a part of the local history to us.

The Graveyard at the Church

I could see several gravestones where the date of death is 1905 – that was the year of a great  earthquake that devastated this area and killed nearly twenty thousand people and injured thousands of other Kangris.

Memorial of James Bruce, Viceroy of India in 1862-63

The church compound also has the memorial of James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, Viceroy of India (1862–1863). He died in Dharamshala in 1863 and the monument was erected by his wife Mary Louisa, Countess of Elgin.

The beautiful entrance to the Church
The place also has a variety of birds and one can just sit here for hours and watch the birds. I saw this Yellow Billed Blue Magpie at very close quarters.

Yellow Billed Blue Magpie

Also read:
McLeodganj, Dharamshala, Himachal
Why I love to go to McLeodganj
Skywatch Friday - Sunset at McLeodganj, Himachal
Places to visit in McLeodganj: Bhagsunag Waterfall

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Loi Krathong Thai Festival in Delhi

Second year in succession I got the opportunity to attend the Loi Krathong Festival held in Delhi as I got an invite from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to attend the festival this year as well. 

Traditional Thai Dance

This year it was held on the 6th of November as this festival is held on the full moon of the 12th Thai lunar calendar. Last year it was organised at the Dusit Devarana and this year it was held at the Radission Blu Plaza.

Cock-fight Dance

Loi means to float while Krathong means a lotus shaped container made from banana leaves (though being held in Delhi it was an improvised version made of thermocol and other artificial stuff). It is a festival to pay homage to the goddess of water.

Krathongs on display before they were floated

This festival of light of Thailand can be compared to the Indian festival of Diwali in some aspects as both are very important in their respective countries and both are festival of lights though the legend behind them may vary.

Another Thai dance

Of course Loi Krathong that is held in Thailand is of much grander version than the one held in India. The difference is like Diwali being celebrated in Delhi and Diwali being celebrated in Washington!

And yet another Thai dance

The festival started with several Thai dances and then followed by a dancing procession in which the ‘queen’ came on a palanquin carrying the Krathong.

The 'queen' on a palanquin with the Krathong 

 The first Krathong was floated by the Ambassador of Thailand in India and then we all floated Krathongs.

The Ambassador of Thailand in India with the Krathong

The whole atmosphere was Thai as this was followed by Thai food prepared by Thai chefs therefore it was authentic Thai food that was really good. The best was the Duck in Pineapple Sauce.

The floating Krathongs at the Radisson

Overall it was a great evening giving us a glimpse of Thai culture along with the Thai food in the amazingly good Thai hospitality.

Fruit art - Happy Loi Krathong

Also read: Loi Krathong Festival of Thailand held in Dusit Devarana