There are some life experiences that we go through that make strong impressions on us. My recent trip to India in November 2016 was one such experience.

I’d like to share some images and memories with you.Perhaps when viewing them you will get a feel for the startling contrasts that is India.

Breathtaking beauty, inspiring spirituality, and serenity live side by side with the incessant honking of vehicular traffic, streets teeming with people and animals alike, shocking poverty, and bewildering, often humorous scenes.

Banknotes Bombshell

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modii took a bold move to stamp out corruption, black money and smuggling in India on November 8th, 2016—the very next day after my husband and I landed in Mumbai.

At about 8 pm on that day, Mr. Modi announced that all 500 Rupee and 1000 Rupee notes (worth CAD$10 and $20) would no longer be legal tender by midnight! Imagine— 1 BILLION plus Indians were told that their most commonly held notes would now be worthless!

Line up outside Indian bank after demonetization of 500 and 1000 rupee notes in November 2016.

Long, disorganized, but calm queue outside a bank. People were waiting to exchange their old Rupee notes with new ones.

We ourselves were at the bank that very morning and were given only 500 rupee notes. By dinnertime, we were looking at money as valuable as the kind we play Monopoly with. Most transactions are done in cash in India, and so having no cash for our trip would have made it really difficult to stay. We seriously considered taking the next flight back to Canada.

Luckily for us, we went back to the bank and they were able to help us out with enough cash to last us the rest of our three-week trip. And, thankfully, more businesses started to accept credit cards.

One sees some rather bizarre sights in India. These men riding at the back of a pickup truck don’t seem to care for their safety.

Look! No seatbelts!

 

Young and old alike ride motorbikes everywhere!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We saw men gambling while sitting on a city pavement, bullock carts in streets, dusty stalls by the side of roads, women decorating their homes with rice flour shapes, peacocks at our hotel in Madurai, poverty-striken people living in huts beside major roads, serene paddy fields in Tamil nadu, fresh fruit sellers and spectacular sunsets in Rameshvaram. To see them all, click here

Brihadeeshwarar temple in Tanjavur

South India is well known for its magnificent temples. We visited the Brihadeeshwarar temple in Tanjavur. This temple celebrated its 1000th (yes, one thousandth!) year in 2010. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.  For more photos of this temple, and the beautiful Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, Click here

The words on the building behind say Anandashram

Of course, what would India be without its spiritual retreats—the ashrams? We stayed at the lovelyAnandashram in Karela, a retreat into bliss (anand means bliss).

Everything about this place is tranquil and uplifting. I took pictures of Swami Ramdas, the founder, some of his inspirational quotes, the garden and the main shrine. To view those images,  Click here

 

Farm at the foothills of the holy Arunachala mountain in Thiruvannamalai.

Aside from Anandashram, we also visited the Ramanashram at the foothills of the holy Arunachala mountain in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. This is the home of the great sage of Arunachala, Ramana Maharishi.

We also visited the Rangamal Hospital and Day Care Centre for the physically and mentally disabled  run by Madam Sylvia wright, My last article: Living the True Spirit of Giving,  highlighted the great work she is doing. To view all the images Click here

It was truly a memorable trip to India. Hope you enjoyed the images!

Manisha Melwani

Manisha Melwani is a teacher and the author of, "So You're a Spiritual Being–Now What?" She offers spiritual and wellness solutions for life and stress management. She teaches classes in personal growth, stress management and meditation. She is based in Richmond Hill and Markham, Ontario. Contact her for more information or to have her speak to your group or organization. She also offers private counselling sessions in person or on-line.
Manisha Melwani

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