Namaskar!

Many people do not know it, but India is one of the world's oldest civilisations. It has been the birthplace of many fundamentals recognised by today's society, in science and in the arts. After traveling tirelessly around India and immersing myself in its flavours and traditions, I wanted to bear witness to its incredibly rich cultural and spiritual heritage. If this website sparks a desire to pack your bags and set off for an Indian adventure, it will have achieved its purpose. Have a good trip around the website and pleasant wanderings in the sacred land of Bharat!

Vadodara, also known as Badora, is Gujarat’s third-largest town, a fast-growing industrial town but also a cultural capital. Although tourists come mainly for the magnificent Champaner-Pavagadh archaeology park nearby there are a number of sights worth stopping in town for.

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Ahmedabad (“Ahmed’s City”), boasts a rich heritage from its past as a merchant city. The old town and its many pols or districts with their finely carved mansions (havelis) bear witness to its former wealth. Adding to the city’s aura are its memories of Mahatma Gandhi, who lived here when striving for India’s independence.

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The temple to Shri Ghantakarna Mahavir, protector of the unfortunate, in Mahudi town, is considered one of the most holy Jain pilgrimage sites.

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Becharaji town is famous for its temple to Bahuchara Mata, goddess of fertility and patron saint of hijras (transgenders). It is also one of the highly revered Siddha Shakti Peethas, a place where Sati’s hands are said to have fallen and a place where the sincere wishes of the faithful are fulfilled.


Bahuchara Mata


Becharaji
The goddess Bahuchar Mata, one of the forms of Durga

The town of Becharaji is named after its temple to Bahuchara Mata.

Bahuchara Mata is a Hindu goddess, one of the many forms of Durga, a warrior’s daughter of the Charan caste. According to the legend, she and her sisters has set off on a journey when a marauder called Bapiya attacked their caravan. It was the Charan custom, for men and women, never to surrender to the enemy. in response to the attack, Bahuchara and her sisters cut off their breasts and cursed Bapiya, who became impotent. The curse was lifted only when he worshipped Bahuchara Mata by dressing and acting like a woman. That is why Bahuchara Mata is considered the patron saint of India’s hijra community.

Bahuchara Mata’s symbols are a sword, sacred scriptures, the hand gesture of blessing (mudra abhay hasta) and a trident. She is seated on a cock, symbol of innocence.


The Hijras


Hijra at the Jaisalmer Desert Festival (Rajasthan)

In Indian culture the hijras are transgenders. The word hijra also refers to the cast or community they live in. Usually It is hard for hijras to form a real family, or even to find work. They mostly live by begging or prostitution.

Koothandavar idols  – Photo : Swamy-Koothandavar-Thirukkoil

India’s hijras are both respected and mistrusted. They are respected because they are believed to confer fertility. They are paid to attend weddings, where they sing, dance and bless the newlyweds to make sure the marriage will be fertile. But they are also mistrusted because they are believed to be able to cast the evil eye.

Every year the hijras from all India gather for the Koothandavar festival where they relive an episode of the Mahabharata. The festival takes place in the village of Koovagam, 200km south of Madras in Tamil Nadu. It starts at full moon and lasts 18 days in April and May.

Becharaji
Hijras at the Koothandavar festival – Photo : Ashit Desai 

In April 2014 the country’s supreme court recognised the existence of a “third gender”, neither male nor female, and ordered the government to respect transsexuals’ rights. In so doing, the Supreme Court forced the central government and State governments to identify transgender people and give them the same social welfare rights and access to work and education as the rest of the population.


Becharaji, Sidha Shakti Peetha


Becharaji
The idol of the Becharaji temple | Photo : @todabahuchar.in

The Bahuchara Mata temple is considered especially holy because it is a Shakti Peetha: Sati’s hands are said to have fallen here. It is one of three Shakti Peethas in Gujarat, the others being Ambaji and Kalika in Pavagadh.

The Bahuchara Mata temple is also a Siddha Peetha, a place where the sincere wishes of the faithful are fulfilled. Childless couples and parents of handicapped newborns come to make offerings and pray to the goddess.

From a religious standpoint, this temple is of equal importance to other famous places of worship in Gujarat such as Ambaji, Pavagadh, Dwarka, Somnath, Palitana, Girnar and Dakor.

Becharaji
Becharaji temple after the evening arati

[Arati du soir au temple de Becharaji ]


Modhera is a land of legend. It is said that after Lord Rama had vanquished the demon Ravana in Sri Lanka, he and his spouse Sita stopped here on their way home ; so it is not surprising that the Solanki sovereigns should have chosen this holy ground to build a magnificent and wholly unique sun temple.

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Vadnagar was once home to the celebrated sage Yagyavalkya, “knower of the Vedas”. Its rich history goes back over 4000 years, with some remarkable vestiges to tell the tale. The finest is the Hatkeshwar Mahadev temple.

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Patan is a fortified town dating from the 8th century CE. It was the capital of Gujarat until 1411, when the sultan Ahmed Shah moved his capital to Ahmedabad. It now owes its fame to its magnificent Rani-Ki-Vav stepwell, a Unesco World Heritage site, built under the Solanki period. It is also renowned for making much-sought-after saris in hand-woven patola fabric.

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