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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Kwan Kung Chinese Temple | Hidden Gems of Mumbai





China Town in Mumbai !

Hey you must be mistaken, China Town  Woh toh  Kolkatta mai hai ,



Well that was my  immediate reaction when one of my friend spoke about this place to me.The Weekend Wanderer soul in me got stirred up and I was all set to check out this place, I was wondering, how could I miss out on something so unique in my home city.


PC: Nikhil Chandarana

Talking about Mumbai city, what I love about my city is its varied cultures, whereby I was able to explore some exquisite churches, beautiful mosques, amazing temples and gurudwaras and now here I was getting an opportunity to visit a Chinese Temple!

Can you believe this !





A little help from Google and friends, I was all set to go. You will be surprised to know that what today is a sidelined suburb i,e, Mazgoan, at one time was home to See Yup Koon community who were actually from Canton in Southern China. Due to work opportunities with East India Company these people moved to India to work and eventually settled here.




Dekha aapne chinese connection kitna purana hai, Tab bhi chinese apne yahan kaam karte the, aur aaj bhi, Even World Tallest statue of Sardar Patel ke liye humko chinese workers and technology lagi. Lagata hai china se humara rista Saas bahu wala hai -- Pyar mahobat aur zarorat lagi hi rahti hai 
(Hardliners Chill and don't see red in this statement of mine. 😜😜😜)




The Chinese who had settled in India were traders,merchants,workers and sailors.However when in 1962  the war broke out between India and china, as expected many of these people migrated back to their homeland China, however few of them stayed back here in their existing homes, which we now know as China Town. It seems because they were of See Yup Koon community ,the house near the temple had See yep koon written on them. (I wish someone was around to explain this to me)



Chinese Legacy..Houses bearing the name SEE YUP KOON

Phew! I was so overwhelmed with this historical fact, imagine a small temple or a place can have a legacy, a history.


Harbor Train From Andheri To Dockyard Station

I took Harbor train to CST local from Andheri and got down at Dockyard station. ( This been the nearest station to Mazgoan). 


Dockyard Railway Station

We came out from the front end of the station, if you are coming from Andheri, which is connected with the foot over bridge which takes you on the other side of the road.


Getting down from this bridge you need to walk straight

Keep walking straight, till you reach the wall of mazgoan dock, take a left and again first left and on your right side you will see this Chinese temple.

The google map was showing that this place is around 1 kms away from the station. So I started to walk. Now here a very interesting thing happened as we were searching for the way to go to this temple I saw an old Chinese walking towards our direction. For a second I felt that he looks like the owner of the temple but then again doubt got created in my mind Socha sare Chinese ek jaise hi dikte hai, so don't get excited. I went up to this person and asked him whether he is Albert, No reply came from him, Then I asked  where is this Chinese temple, he simply looked at me and said its closed. I was very dissapointed to hear this. Per mai umeed chodne walo me se nahi hu, socha yahan tak aaya hu to Mandir dekh kar hi jaunga. 

The iron stairs that we took


A small walk over the footover bridge and we saw a iron staircase going down on the left side, we took that stairs and came across a small postbox and took right turn, which brought us to a desolate lane, we kept walking till we came across an old 2 storied building. 


Temple you can easily pass by, thinking to be a residence

I could have easily missed this place for any other residence apartment.What caught my attention was the wooden door painted in red, the picture of which I had seen in one of the FB  post of my friend. I realised that this is it , that I have come to see. "The 100 year old Chinese temple, The Kwan Kung Temple.


Red Painted entrance door

We entered the Temple through this gate. There was a red door in front of us which was locked, I had read this was a room for one of the lady goddess. we moved on the right and started to climb the green coloured stairs when I came across a mural painted on the wall. This mural was of three gods FUK LUK SAU


Fuk:
The Chinese character Fuk means blessings of good luck, health, and happiness. This is the wise man that is often depicted holding either a scroll or a child. There is a popular belief that Fuk is the personification of planet Jupiter, with all its associated energy of good luck and auspiciousness. The child is there to symbolize the transmission of this good luck to future generations, and the scroll can be perceived as the importance of knowledge/learning.

Three Wise Man FUK, LUK, SAU

Luk

The meaning of Luk character in imperial China was an official's salary. It goes without saying that the energy of it is stability, fame, and success, as well as financial abundance. Luk is often depicted holding either a ru yi (symbol of power and authority) or a golden ingot, a popular wealth symbol.

Sau


Sau means longevity. This is the wise old man that is usually depicted with a very high forehead and a warm smile on his face. He is holding a staff, as he is old (thus the symbol of longevity). He is also holding a peach (considered a symbol of immortality).

we reached first floor where the owners of this place stay. The son of the owner handed me the keys to the temple which was one floor above this. We went upstairs and opened the door and entered the Chinese temple. The moment I opened the door I could feel the strong aroma of incense sticks. 
Burnt Incense sticks ashes aroma could be felt in the temple

The whole room indeed transports you to china with splash of red everywhere, the room is decorated with all the requisite paraphernalia of a typical Chinese temple, including fortune scrolls, paper money and incense sticks.


Paraphernalia of a typical Chinese temple (PC Nikhil Chandarana)



The temple pays homage to the Chinese God of protection, justice and courage Guan Gong. The colourful decoration and the photograph nestled in that, declared that the God worshipped here is Confucius. The wise man of the Chinese history, who has been a great teacher, politician and a philosopher, is worshipped here as Kuan Kung.

Kwan Kung 


Who Was Confucius?
Confucius (551 B.C. to 479 B.C.), also known as Kong Qui or K’ung Fu-tzu, was a Chinese philosopher, teacher and politicalfigure. His teachings, preserved in the Analects, focused on creating ethical models of family and public interaction and setting
educational standards. After his death, Confucius became the official imperial philosophy of China, which was extremely influential during the Han, Tang and Song dynasties.





 It was once asked to Albert Tham, The person who founded and owns this place as to why he selected Kwan Kung as his god of worship. His reply was“I like this God as I have chosen him to be the one.I don’t believe in him just because I am forced to do so. I have learned a lot about  him. I respect his morals values and teachings that do not emphasis much on any rituals but helps you lead a life of balanced personal and social ethics. He is more like a friend and a guide to me. I frequently spend time with him and discuss the things that bother me.

Pooja and myself with Mr Albert Tham
There was this one wall which has slips hanging, I couldn't make of it much because everything written on them was in Chinese. They were fluttering under the fan breeze beckoning me to solve the mystery.



As there was no one in the temple to explain to us their unanswered. Few of them were half burnt and then there was ashes in the drum below these paper slips all added to my inquisitiveness but Alas ! no answers for me , if you get to know about these rituals please do comment and let me know.

Paper slips Hanging ,Are they predicting the futures ?

PS: As regards to the paper sheets let me add here. Those sheets are actually a way of  reading fortunes.

The Chinese believe that the Gods will guide you for any important decision of your life through the oracles written in Mandarin on the bamboo sheets. They light up the candles and then pick up the wooden sticks kept on the table as a part of offerings to the lord. Then they refer to the sheet containing the suggested number on the stick. The bamboo sheets contain the fortune written in the Chinese Script and are referred by the followers of the faith once in a year.” 

Fortune sticks


We spent some time here and then moved on to the ground floor to visit the temple of  Kuan Yin, an Empress that embraced spirituality and led a life to relieve the humans of their sufferings she is also known as goddess of Mercy.

 Kuan Yin

We returned the keys to Mr Albert Tham.(So the old man I met on the road was actually this gentleman ).

Mumbai meri Jaan !!!
Tu sach me meri jaan hai...
roz kuch naya dikhati hai ....

Thanks for reading my blog, Your comments ,your suggestions are most welcomed , therefore do comment in the comment section below this blog. Please do join my site so that you get regular updates for a new story so posted by me. 

Given below is the Link to the video of our entire journey. 




Our Team 



Saturday, March 30, 2019

Solapur in a day | Part 4 | Naldurg Fort







We were done with Siddeshwar Temple and Solapur Fort aka Bhuikot.( you can click on the links to read about our earlier journey) The next destination on our card was Naldurg Fort, which is situated around 50 kms away from Solapur.

We started to walk from Bhuikot Fort to Solapur Bus stand which is hardly 1-1.5 kms away from the fort.Walking through the local markets we reached the Solapur Bus stand. Finding the bus at Local bus stand is always a challenge however we were lucky we were guided by a local person and we boarded the bus going towards hyderabad. As the bus was starting from here so we had empty bus for ourselves, As usual I jumped to grab the window seat and for our time-pass we bought cucumber which felt so refreshing in this heat.  


Kakdi (Cucumber) khane ka apna hi majja hai...

My co-travellers Nikhil and Pooja took a cat nap while I was doing my videography, Boss window seat aise hi toh nahi li thi...The bus journey lasted close to one hour and  soon we reached Naldurg bus station.


At Naldurg Bus Stand

One can have glimpse of Naldurg fort from the Bus stand. Hence we started walking toward the fort, We had to  walk for 15 minutes on the highway and then thru the village to reach the fort. 


Glimpse of the Naldurg Fort from the Highway 






Finally we were at the gate of the Famous Naldurg Fort.

I feel it is mandatory that we should have some knowledge about the history of the fort. Toh chalo dosto now chota sa history lesson


History:
There are different version about the construction of Naldurg Fort. One belief is that it was built By Nalraja, Hence the fort and the place got the name Naldurg. Then there is another belief that the Chalukyas of Kalyani built this fort.This fort was also known by the name Yeral, when it was under the Bahamani Sultan from from 1351-1480, Later it was handed over to Mughal Empire. Later the Adilshahi rulers constructed the massive impregnable wall of the fort in the year 1558. In simple words what we see today of Naldurg fort the credit goes to Ibrahim Adilshah II (1556-12 Sept 1627).







Upon reaching the fort entrance we were informed that we had to buy entry tickets. As ASI is maintaining this fort so tickets are issued by them.We bought the tickets, here we also came to know that you are charged for carrying DSLR camera. Mobile phones are allowed for free. Another interesting thing is that there is a luggage room too near the entrance of the fort where by paying a nominal charge you can keep your bags.

The moment you enter the Main Gate of the Fort you can see that the efforts are been made to clean up the fort. The beautiful pots are lined up along the ramp  as you pass through two gates viz Hurmukh Darwaza and Hathi Darwaza to enter the fort. We come out of Nagarkhana to see huge view of the fort from inside.


We come from here...The Nagarkhana (Pic source Internet)

Once you reach inside the fort it opens up a huge view of the fort area with fountains.Lots of efforts has been made to beautify this fort.


View from inside the fort
Upon entering what I was surprised by the neatness of the place. Well kept gardens and then there was a structure on the right side after coming out of the Nagarkhana


Structure on the right side after entering the fort

Fort Adoption Scheme:
Few years back this fort was quite neglected however a initiative was undertaken to adopt forts and this fort was one of them. Where adoption of Red Fort by Dalmia group raked up controversy on other hand the initiative by Maharashtra govt to adopt 371 heritage sites proved to be a big flop show with only 2 forts been taken up for adoption. The reason been for the flop show was that there was not much incentives for the corporate in terms of gate money or the icon use and also many of the sites been fort and temples charging entry fees was little difficult.

Anyways as this fort is adopted so let us enjoy the views.


Structure on the left side and
our resting place for having lunch.
Green lawns and few ancient structures are the inviting sights for a traveler like me. It was almost 2 pm when we reached here so we decided to have our lunch sitting under the shade of the tree. We generally carry our lunch so in no time we were done and moved on our exploration.

We started from the right side because I had heard so much about the Nav Buruj. It is said to be  a nine petal lotus kind of Bastion. This bastion is unique because it has two floors within it.


View of NavBurj from outside
The view from this bastion was amazing. We explored a bit on the top and as usual stole a moment to click few of our pictures. After all the hard work of climbing up and down photo toh banta hai bhai.


Some playful time

Talking of Bastions you would be surprised to know that there are around 114 bastions on the fort and the fort wall is almost 3 kms long'

After climbing down from the bastion I captured few nearby structures which are scattered outside the fort wall


One of the structure outside the fort wall.

We were given to understand that Naldurg is a huge fort hence one requires lots of time to cover its each nook and corner. Personally I felt that if you are a serious fort lover then you need a full day to cover every square inch of this fort.


Another structure outside the fort wall


We started to walk along the path made and came across ancient structures but due to the paucity of time we gave them a casual looks and moved on from  this the point and....



Reached a location  from where would see a huge  lake!


Lake within the fort 

 Yes this Fort has a lake and that too is huge, I was left open mouth with OMG written all over my face. I have visited many forts in Maharashtra but never seen something as amazing as this. 


Breathtaking view of the lake

 One can take boat ride, Banana ride, Water scooter and many more water sports activity. This is perhaps one of those few forts which offers such delightful water sports.


Variety of water sports 

A little walk further we came across another interesting structure. This structure is perched as a watch tower kind of thing. In other words this structure is the highest portion of the fort and is called Upali Buruj.


Upali Buruj

 There are close to 70-75 steps to climb to the top and Pooja and me raced on these steps with Nikhil shooting us on the camera. These silly antics keeps us going and we find our fun in them.


Pooja and myself racing to the top


70 plus stair of upali buruj and fun time for us

Upon reaching the top we saw two cannons, quite a long one. This bastion was made for keeping watch and  to oversee everything, I can vouch for this, because I could see the highway from the fort with the vehicle movement on it.


View from the Upali Buruj of Highway

This bastion is at the centre of the fortification of the fort.Due to which one can have a bird eye view of the entire fort from the Bastion.


View of the fort from the top.

Upli Buruj has two cannons on it-- though historians believe that during the Adil Shahi period, there were three cannons. One of the cannon had a crocodile face kind of mouth, hence is called Magar Toph 


Magar Thop or cannon.

 For a history lover these cannons are something to be proud of and sacrosanct in a way, but its sad to note that for people who just come to spend an outing here, its a place of fun, and these canons are a resting place, a magical broom kind of thing to sit on. Parents without realising I feel are giving wrong indications to their children when they make them sit on the cannons just to enjoy. Please respect the historical past.


This 21 feet long canon is reduced to a garden bench..sic

We spent some time at the Upli Buruj enjoying the cool breeze and enjoying the mesmerizing 360 view of the fort. Clicking pictures from vantage point is always so delightful.


Talking selfie on the edge can be edgy 😅 

From here we moved on the one of the most unique structure on this fort and it is called Pani Mahal.

Actually in 1613 AD, Ibrahim Adilshah II built the weir or dam on the river Bori and constructed Pani Mahal. This dam itself is an engineering marvel of its time. This Dam is 90 feet tall, 275 metres long and approx 31 metres in width.


View of the Dam from the top

Pani Mahal is an interesting structure whereby when you come on the dam section there are stairs going down  and you come across a floor kind of thing. Not much is left today to see here though. One can catch the glimpse of the gushing water of the dam from the window of this section. This floor was made in such a manner that though this palace is on the wier yet the water never passes through it. Isn't it an amazing architectural marvels of yesteryear.

Me enjoying the view on the top of the Dam

The sun was coming down and the breeze was getting all the more cooler so we thought to chill out on the top of Pani Mahal. The river water was glittering in the evening sun and the view looked mesmerising.



Good Bye Solapur...and Naldurg

It was now time for us to say goodbye to this lovely Fort and begin our journey back to Solapur Station from where we were to take night train to Mumbai.


How to reach:
From Solapur: Naldurg is situated around 50 kms from Solapur. The fort is situated on the Solapur -Hyderabad highway in Naldurg Village. There are regular State transport buses plying from Solapur to Naldurg.

Click on the link to have video journey of our entire Solapur trip 


Weekend wanderer at Solapur Vist


Traveller Tip: 
If you are visiting on Sundays park your vehicle somewhere on highway and take a walk to fort. Sunday is market day and its too hard to drive four wheeler in narrow lanes with lots of roadside stalls and crowd.

If you wish to have drone tour of this place click on the link I have shared below.

naldurg fort from drone 


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