A trip to Allahabad

Allahabad lies 135 km west of Varanasi in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and is at the confluence of the Ganga (also Ganges), Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati River, the point of their mingling known as Sangam. Also known by its old name of Prayag, the city is an educational hub and a great pilgrimage center, especially the world-famous Kumbh Mela.

The meeting point of the Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati rivers, Sangam is around 7 km from Civil Lines. Near the Sangam is situated the Allahabad Fort built by Akbar in the AD 1583. Unrivalled for its design and craftsmanship in its heydays, the fort is now used by the army and only a part of it is open to the visitors.

Swaraj Bhawan, the historical building built by Motilal Nehru, was donated to the nation in 1930 to be used as the headquarters of the Congress Committee. The former prime minister of India Mrs. Indira Gandhi was born here.

A fine museum today, Anand Bhawan was once home to one of the most powerful families of Indian politics, the Nehrus. Khusro Bagh is a large garden where tombs of Khusro, son of emperor Jahangir, and Shah Begum are located. Hanuman Mandir is a unique temple famous for the supine image of Hanuman. This is the only temple to have Hanuman in a reclining posture.

Other place to visit are Shankar Viman Mandapam, Mankameshwar Temple, All Saints Cathedral (Patthar Girjaghar), Allahabad University, Mayo Memorial Hall, Allahabad museum, Minto park, Muir College, Jawahar Planetarium, Chandra Shekhar Azad Park, and public library.

The weather is one of the finest in the month of January and February. Monsoon touches Allahabad by 15th of June.

BY AIR – Allahabad does not have an airport of its own. The nearest airports are at Varanasi (147 km) and Lucknow (210 km).

BY ROAD & RAIL – Allahabad is situated on the Delhi-Calcutta route and can be reached from any part of India by rail or bus.

Champions’ meet

Despite a couple upsets and a dramatic tie, nothing out of the ordinary has happened yet. Like everyone thought, the big shots made it to the second round of the biggest cricket event. Though there impressive individual and team performances from the minnows, cameo isn’t what it takes to over throw champion cricketers from their thrones that they cling so hard on to.

What awaits us will be a feast of good and memorable cricket. At least, there is no harming in expecting so. With the best eight to fight and prove their mettle before the third round a close contest is on the cards. But on the grim side, even the firebrand groups had their hiccups and puzzling moments. There were games when their flaws and limitations were exposed to be exploited. Unless they do their home work pretty neatly, they would remain mere spectators for the following matches.

Japan in shambles

After a break of weeks the nature’s fury is once again at its horrible touch. This time the victim is japan at the receiving end. Perhaps, it s the worst tragedy to hit them after the WW II. Half a week is gone after the ferocious tsunami hit the diminutive country followed by shattering earth quakes. The story of tragedy doesn’t seem to end there. Powerful earthquakes rattled nuclear reactor plants pushing them to face an alarming and crisis situation amidst the debris.

As if all that is not enough, in south-western Japan, the 1,421-metre Shinmoedake volcano erupted on Sunday, ringing alarm bells as ash and rocks shot up into the sky, but it was not immediately clear if it was a fallout of the massive earthquake.

According to the Interior Ministry, a total of 72,945 buildings were destroyed or have become permanently unusable.  Thousands of people are still stranded, many of them waiting for a rescue on the roofs of schools, supermarkets and government office buildings.

About 550,000 people had been evacuated by late Monday to more than 2,500 shelters, as meteorologists predicted more cold weather and snow by Wednesday, DPA said.  In Onagawa town in Miyagi prefecture – one of the areas hardest-hit in Friday’s quake and tsunami – more than 1,000 bodies have been recovered, local police chief Naoto Takeuchi said.

The death toll in Miyagi could exceed 10,000, the official said as 1,000 bodies were found in Minami Sanriku in the prefecture.

Tourists’ dinosaur paradise

A dinosaur park in India! Incredible, isn’t it? Not many of us have the information about such a park in our own country. The park was set up by the Geological Survey of India and is the only dinosaur museum in the country.

The Park is run by the Gujarat Ecological and Research Foundation (GEER) and is regarded as India’s Jurassic Park. Several fossilized dinosaur eggs and skeletal parts have been found here. The fossils which were found in Upper Cretaceous formations in the region date back 65 million years ago. The eggs are of different sizes, some the size of cannon balls.

You could feast your eyes with Dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus rex, Megalosaurus, Titanosaurus, Barapasaurus, Brachiosaurus, Antarctosaurus, Stegosaurus and Iguanodon. The park displays life-size models of the dinosaurs along with details of each period in which they existed and characteristics of the animals. The park is a vast archive of historical information for the students of Paleontology.

Rahioli near Balasinore, which is around 90 km from Ahmedabad, is being developed into a dinosaur fossil park and is believed to have been one of the biggest hatcheries of dinosaurs in the world during the Jurassic era. Paleontologists believe that at least seven species of dinosaur lived here and researchers have uncovered fossils of about 10,000 dinosaur eggs, making Raiyoli the third largest hatchery in the world.

Balasinor is about one and a half hours drive from Ahmedabad. While visiting, tourists can stay in the Garden Palace, a heritage hotel property run by the former rulers of Balasinor, the Babi family. In fact this was their royal family home. The palace has eight rooms, each one done up in a different color scheme, furniture and decor. If you feel like roughing it out, you can even stay in Camp Dinosaur tents on site.

Garden Palace, Palace Road, Balasinor, district Kheda, Gujarat; +91 (0) 26 9020 0111/ 9026 7786; Garden Palace website or email palacebalasinor@gmail.com; Rs 6,000-8,000 per room, per night

Camp Dinosaur tents, Palace road, Garden Palace compound, Balasinor, district Kheda, Gujarat; +91 (0) 26 9020 0111/ 9026 7786; Rs 7,000-8,000 per night; Camp Dinosaur website or email web@campsofindia.com

from the World cup

We are not even half way through the much awaited and much celebrated World cup fever nor has the real hype of the carnival reached its heights, but we have already seen moments of beauty and some spectacular action. The minnows Ireland pulled off the first magical rabbit out of the hat when they upset the party of their neighbors. The English bowlers looked completely out of ideas against a free-flowing Kevin Obrien who single handily destroyed England to give his side the taste of victory.

England moments of ohhs and uffs in their previous encounter against India too though it didn’t end up on a miserable note but tied the match, the first time in the current edition of WC.

Afridi seems to be having a magical time with bowl. Every time he comes out to rotate his arm over there is so much of excitement. The boom boom batter has already scalped two 5 wickets hauls and has emerged as the most successful bowler so far.

With many more matches to go, there is lots of suspense awaiting us.