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.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I am truly blessed to have been able to visit Sankissa. It was a delightful experience.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

Google nexus 7

Just got the new Google nexus 7 and am trying it out, a bit of a change from an iPad. But seems like fun. Will update.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Google Nexus 7

I just ordered a google nexus 7 on the google play store.
Will update once I start using it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Went for a picnic today. Kind of sucked. And not because of the venue.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

What the Nikon DF should have been

I have been reading with interest the hype and the websites about the new Nikon DSLR DF. And then I thought that maybe I should get my two cents into the fray as well.
My reaction to it after all the build up is rather underwhelming. Nikon had this great chance to score a slam dunk but all they have done is a rework up of the Nikon D4 sensor in a faux-'retro' body.
The advantages of retro, in my opinion have been glossed over favoring form rather than function.
My ideal Nikon DF would have been a DSLR with
  1. No in-built AF motor. Low cost, Non-AI lens support, support for people with AF-S lenses and manual lenses. Screw drive lenses used in program manual mode.
  2. A D4 Sensor: Good for older lenses
  3. A F3 viewfinder: My biggest problem with the DF. The viewfinder is the same as the D800 and D600 (0.76X mag). The eye point is a paltry 15 mm. There is absolutely nothing that makes it easier to use manual focus nikkor lenses on this DSLR. How can a retro DSLR be retro if it wont make using Manual Lenses any easier. If only Nikon had handled this, I would have brought this camera.
  4. Only one SD card slot. Having used the D600, two SD card slots should be standard.
  5. Price is too high and the product is not, in my opinion premium enough.
I will just put this down as a missed opportunity. My wait for a DSLR that I can use with legacy manual focus Nikkor lenses continues. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The fly swatter

I just found out,  through a process of trial and error, that the paper back version of  Amitav Ghosh's, 'The Shadow Lines' makes for a magnificent fly swatter (the Penguin publishers India version). And I have a few Musca domestica caracases to prove it.
Just trying to prove that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ra one

Ravan got burnt all over agaon today. I wonder how old this tradition is. And this tradition of burning effigies. Any ideas?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Gandhi Jayanti

How did you observe Gandhi Jayanti. No really good answer to that other  than that I tried to spend some time with my family and kids. Also did some shooting with a camera after a fairly long time. And am now enjoying some half hearted rain.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Student centre


My allergy is gradually starting to annoy me. And so is the predictive text on this cellphone.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Another post

I am feeling very fatigued over the past few days

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Too much rain

We are having rain almost  everyday and frankly it is now becoming a bit of a drag.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The balloon seller

Test post

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The joy of mangoes

Mangoes make summers almost worthwhile. However they are not entirely blameless.
Like all indulgences,they are high in calories. And in excess, act as laxatives.
Now they are on their way out. And they already make me wistful.

Saturday, August 03, 2013


After many days. I went out and exercised my camera today. Feels good.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Random shooting

Looks like I am moving towards a better smart phone soon.

Blogging on phone

I have been lazy and too stuck up with photography and facebook. I promise that at least one of these will change.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stages of Change, Heroin, Happy People and the McLeodganj Effect

Discussing the Stages of Change model (Purchaska and DiClemente) in the Drug deaddiction ward rounds, I made a bit of a mistake and said that after the action stage came the pre-contemplation stage or in other words, there is a relapse. Understandably, my boss was not to happy about it and called me a "prophet of doom". Well, amends were made and I admitted that there might be some people who kept clean and were abstinenet for periods longer than I thought possible. That was the end of it but then I was also in the same round told of a gentleman who had been admitted some 6-7 times for heroin dependence and now was clean for many-many years and was a much respected member of the Narcotics Anonymous. That might have been the end of it, but in the afternoon OPD I was in for a surprise.
At the fag end of the OPD when I wanted to have a cup of tea more than anything else, in walked a middle-aged man. Now most opioid and specifically Heroin dependent individuals are young, in their teens to 30's and this person was in his 40's. Not the typical heroin man, but something about the way he talked, the look said heroin. And sure enough he said he was taking heroin. In the course of the interview I asked him how it had happened. He told me had been admitted in the ward some 5-6 times, was an NA member and he was pretty sheepish about coming back here. "Sir, I had gone to Mcleodganj some days back". My ears pricked up because I knew what was coming. "There I met some Happy people". "Happy", I asked. "You know sir, those goras (whites) with long hair, who play music instrument". "Hippy" I suggested, "Yes, yes, Sir exactly, well they were playing guitar under the main Dalai Lama temple, and I was sitting there with my children and saw them chasing smack, and I dont know what happened, I still dont understand, but I went and asked one for a chase, and he obliged. that night I Slep and next morning I saw the same fellow and asked him for a chase and he asked me for Rs 500".

I asked him what happened next, and he said that he had been taking upto 3gms-4gms every single day since then. " I wish I had never gone to McLeodganj, Sir", he finished. I wrote his medication and thought that I would never forget stages of change again.
I finished up the OPD, went to the student centre in Punjab university and had a cup of tea and remembered all the great times I had in McLeodganj. Its time to go there again and to steer clear of the 'Happy' people.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

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