Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Sankisa Again

The Lord is calling. I got the chance to visit Sankisa again in August 2014 after a wonderful visit in Dec 2013.
This time around the direction was different. Whereas the first time, I went from Sitapur/Farrukhabad, this time I traveled to Sankisa from Agra. Of the two routes, the one from Agra seems to be easier. I reached Agra very early in the morning and waited for the Agra Ljn intercity train. I had thought I would get of at Shikohabad and get a taxi from there. The reason was that I thought I should avoid UP roads as much as possible. As it turned out, it was false economy as the road from Shikohabad to Agra is very good an hardly something to worry about. The road from Shikohabad to Sankisa is bad in stretches especially around Mainpuri. It is probably much easier and cheaper to get a taxi from Agra as well. 
I reached Shikohabad at about 7.30 AM and the taxi was waiting for me ( please message if you want the number). It took a little more than two hours to get to Sankisa. As it was not tourist season, most of the monasteries were closed. I visited a clinic and a school being run by the Youth Buddhist Society. They are doing a great job. The pillar with the elephant pillar is almost ready for installation. 
This time around I was able to explore the places around as well. I had carried an old book by Alexander Cunningham and was able to identify some places he has written about. I was also able to visit the site of Pakhna Bihar which was once an important monastery. Lots of coins and seals are still dug up every year from the mound. The locals make some money selling them off to tourists who get there. I was offered some but I did not buy. 
I was dropped back at the bus stop at Shikohabad. I got on the bus and was back in Agra by the evening.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

An Update to Nikon D600

I got my D600 sensor cleaned. At that time I thought that I had got it back only cleaned''and not with"the  shutter replaced.
Asked the techgnician at the Nikon service centre who assured me that the shutter had been replaced. I was not very convinced. Now after a few months of shooting, the sensor remains clean and pristine ( lets hope it lasts!)
I think it did get replaced. 

Sunday, May 04, 2014


Enjoying a slightly tipsy rainy evening.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Nikon D600

I finally got back my nikon D600 from servicing for a dirty sensor. Unlike other reports of replaced shutter mechanisms and even replaced bodies with nikon d610, l got my camera back with a sensor cleaning and a firmware update. I would be interested in other experiences from India.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blog search on google

Where has the blog search on Google gone. Can't seem to find it.

A response

Today morning., with some gratification I noticed that some three comments were awaiting moderation on my humble blog. Now this is an extremely rare occurrence and I justifiably believed that I was getting back some readership. Little did I know that my innocuous post on Rahul Gandhi had invited the ire of some one. And that someone had posted the same comments thrice before realizing that comments are moderated. Made me realize that there seems to be this group of people who have nothing but trawling the internet to do. I am sure that a lot of money is being spent as well.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rahul Gandhi interview

I saw the interview on TV and must say that I was disappointed at his performance. I don't know if that is because he is just not very bright or because he had been tutored to get away in typical fashion by simply not answering a question and going on with something else. I want to believe the former.
My advise is very simple. Stop trying to defend the indefensible. Be a true politically correct liberal like Nehru rather than trying to pay only lip service. Be truthful and admit that you and your party made mistakes and go to the people with humility. India values it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New year Resolution

My new year resolution is to try to keep at least one resolution.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I am a traveler. And I have long been engaged in  a quest. Sankisa was one of the places on that quest. And now that part of the quest is at least partially redeemed. And I have to thank many people for having made it possible.
But before this happened, I like many other people, googled wide and hard about Sankisa. Unfortunately there is little info available.
Sankisa or Sankasya or samkasya or sankissa or Kapitha is one of the immutable places of Buddhism in that every Buddha is supposed to descend to this place after preaching to their mother's in Tushita heaven.
Therefore it is very important.
I was able to go to this place as a friend took me along to Dudhwa national Park. We were based at Sitapur.
I started out at 7 am from Sitapur in a taxi. It took me two hours to Shahjahanpur. From there it was another couple of hours to Farrukhabad. I actually reached Fatehgarh which is an important military cantonment. Here I was received by some people who were to take me to Sankisa. The road from Sitapur to Fatehgarh was generally good. Single lane mostly. Traffic is bad at places as there are a lot of trucks.
The road from Fatehgarh to Sankissa is good in parts. Some of it is getting metalled. Mohammedabad is approximately halfway. From thereon there is a road to the right which is prominently signed as Buddhist paryatan sthal or Buddhist Tourist Place. Hardly that I would think.
From there it is another 20 kms or so. In all, it took me about an hour to Sankisa.
I was somewhat surprised that Sankisa is not all that isolated as is made out to be. There are now many monasteries. The Sri Lankan, Burmese, and Cambodian ones are pretty big and accommodation is available. My host in Sankisa was Mr Dinesh Shukla of the Royal Regency Hotel which is walking distance from the main monument. The hotel is pretty good. It is mainly geared towards the foreign package tours it but can be availed by others as well. It also has a very nice Japanese temple on its grounds. The food is pretty decent too.
The Town of Sankisa now extends all the way from the Sri Lankan monastery to beyond the Kali Nadi to the south.
There is a lot of construction going on with all denominations represented. There is a huge replica of the Ashokan pillar with an elephant capital coming up as well across the river.
The main monument is on a small mound. It is surrounded by a boundary wall. There is a small temple with an idol of Buddha, Indra and Brahma descending on the ladders. I have not been able to find where it has come from or if it is recent . a short distance to the south is the elephant capital under a sandstone canopy. The pillar has not been found. The elephant is mutilated but still recognisable as one. The problem is that both Xuan sang and fa xian mention a lion capital. The elephant capital also somehow lacks the verve of the typical Ashokan capitals of Sarnath or Vaishali.
Maybe the lion capital got lost and the elephant capital is more recent.
Further to the south is a mound that has been identified with the point where the three ladders landed. It is a mound of ruined brick called bahari kot and is topped by a temple of Bisari Devi. There is also a small hanuman temple which is more recent. I also saw a lot of locals coming to pay respects at this temple. I was also told that on Buddha purni!a there is a lot of tension and extra security has to be deployed as the budhhists are heckled when they circumambulate the stupa. Interestingly, even xuanzang talks about the fact that there was a lot of tension between the Buddhists and the heretics even then. Seeming ly, it continues to this day.
There is also a permanent police post next to the stupa mound as it is deemed a security risk.
Somehow, even after 150 years or so of the rediscovery of Sankisa by Alexander Cunningham, little archaeological progress has been made. Maybe this will change in the future.
My advice to anyone who wants to go to Sankisa is to not shy away. It is very approachable.
I can think of the following routes. One is via Shahjahanpur which is on most major train routes. This is the route I took.
Secondly, one can also drive down from Lucknow and Hardoi. Or from Lucknow via Kannauj. It should take about give to six hours. The other routes are via Agra or Shikohabad.

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