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Guidelines for Indian e-tourist visa by Julianne

E tourist visa guidelines

30 April 2015

The Government of India recently announced electronic visa facility for 43 countries. E-visa enables foreign tourists to arrive in India without possessing a physical visa. From June 15, 2015 foreign nationals from 31 other countries, in addition to the 43 countries currently in place, would be eligible for e-tourist visa. E-tourist visa is not Visa-on-arrival It is important to note that the e-visa facility offered by the government is not the same as Visa-on-arrival. Visa-on-arrival is an option where tourists can obtain a visa after reaching the intended destination. However, e-tourist visa has to be obtained a minimum of 4 days before the date of arrival in India. Many tourists misinterpret e-tourist visa to be visa-on-arrival and arrive in India without obtaining a visa. However, such individuals are asked to go back to the country. How to obtain an E-visa? Click here to apply for your e-tourist visa: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html List of eligible countries The table below lists the countries that are currently eligible for e-tourist visa The table below lists the countries that would be eligible for e-tourist visa from June 15, 2015. Important guidelines Individuals travelling for the purpose of leisure, medical treatment for short duration, casual business visit and meeting with friends or relatives are eligible to apply. The required fee is 62 USD. The facility is currently available at nine Indian airports: Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi, Goa, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. From June 15, 2015 the facility would be extended to seven more Indian airports: Jaipur, Amritsar, Gaya, Lucknow, Trichy, Varanasi and Ahmedabad.

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The Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamshala by Stéphanie

30 April 2015

Through this write-up, we aim to provide you with the significant facets of the temple: Buddha Sakyamuni Positioned at the centre of the temple, the idol of Buddha Sakyamuni represents the sage Gautama Buddha. He is the most important figure in religion and his discourses, principles and life accounts formed the bedrock on which the religion was built and followed by people. Made of gilded bronze, the statue of Buddha is about nine feet high and is seated atop a bronze lotus structure. Guru Padma Sambhava The idol of Guru Padma Sambhava is placed to the right of Buddha Sakyamuni. Padma Sambhava, also known popularly as Guru Rinpoche, is a Buddhist guru who is said to have overcome the forces of evil in Tibet and planted the seeds for the growth of Buddhist dharma and philosophies in that region. The idol is placed in such a way that the guru is seen facing Tibet. At twelve feet tall, the structure is even taller than the main Buddha Sakyamuni idol and it is also made of gilded bronze. Avalokiteshvara Avalokiteshvara is an enlightened being who is a symbol of compassion and love. The facial image of the deity is a picture of calmness and serenity, unlike the courage and vigour exuded by that of Padma Sambhava. The sculptors ensured that this idol reflected the Tibetan image of Avalokiteshvara. The deity has eleven faces, a thousand arms and an equal number of eyes. It is indeed noteworthy that the architects managed to fit in such intricate detail into a thirteen feet tall structure. Prayer wheels The walls of the temple contain metallic prayer wheels and each wheel is inscribed with Buddhist prayer mantras. It is believed that if a person rotates the wheels, then he/she would be bestowed with the power of the mantras carved on the wheels. On a crowded day, one can see the wheels spinning ceaselessly as devotee after devotee awaits his/her turn to spin the wheel. Kora Devotees usually undertake the customary Kora – a sacred walk in the clockwise around the Tsuglakhang temple complex. The walk begins to the left of the temple entrance and continues along a circuitous path around the temple complex. The narrow path passes through the woods around the temple and it takes usually 20-30 minutes to complete one round. The route is adorned with player flags and prayer wheels that symbolise the […]

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Kanyakumari – the abode of the child Goddess by Stéphanie


29 April 2015

Kanyakumari, or Cape Comorin as it is popularly known, is the southern-most point in India. The town is noteworthy for it is located at the confluence of the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, the three massive water bodies that surround the Indian peninsula. Devotees soak themselves in these waters in the belief that these waters hold divine powers that wash away their sins. The name Kanyakumari itself is derived from the name of a Hindu deity just like many other Indian cities. The name is attributed to Goddess Devi Kanya Kumari, the sister of the Hindu God Krishna. The Kanya Kumari temple is dedicated to this deity and attracts fervent followers from all across the country. The temple is also believed to be one of the 51 Shakti peethas in the Indian subcontinent. A Shakti peetha (peetha means abode) is a Hindu temple ordained to the Goddess Shakti (also known as Sati), the principal female deity of the Hindu religion. Unlike other Shakti peethas, the Goddess here is in the form of an adolescent child and she is said to bestow upon her worshippers a peace of mind and a tranquil life.  Some ardent believers who have difficulties finding a good life partner even believe that worshipping her would bring them suitable marital prospects. Surprisingly, she is also perceived as a symbol of sanyasa which is a stage in a devout Hindu’s life that involves renunciation of all worldly and materialistic possessions. Though the exact date of construction of the temple is not clearly known, the shrine  is believe to be many a century old as it finds a mention in ancient Sanskrit literature such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. Though the temple is located in the state of Tamil Nadu, the rites and rituals performed in the temple mirror that of a typical temple in Kerala, the neighbouring state. This is because the town was a part of Travancore state (erstwhile name of Kerala) until 1956 when the Government of India deemed Kanyakumari to be a part of Tamil Nadu. Though the town swapped states, the traditions continue to be carried across generations.

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Bodhgaya: the birthplace of Buddhism by Maryama


24 April 2015

Bodhgaya is perhaps the most sacred site for the followers of Buddhism. Located in the Indian state of Bihar, it is the place where Gautama Buddha, the sage whose teachings are the foundations on which the religion is established, is said to have attained enlightenment after a six-year long penance. According to Buddhist literature, the term Enlightenment means a state of awakening that helps one acquire profound knowledge about the universal truths sought by mankind. Legend has it that Buddha performed deep meditations under a sacred fig tree known as the Bodhi tree before attaining enlightenment. Buddhist texts even suggest that Buddha was extremely grateful to the tree because he believed that it catalysed his quest for enlightenment. Though the original tree is long gone, the followers planted a new tree and continued the tradition every time the tree was cut down or died due to old age. The Bodhi tree that is currently in existence in Bodhgaya is called the Sri Maha Bodhi and was planted more than a hundred years ago at the exact same spot as the original tree. In fact, the Bodhi tree has become a symbol of Buddhist religion and it can be seen in every Buddhist monastery around the world. The Sri Maha Bodhi tree is located inside the Maha Bodhi temple (Maha Bodhi means great awakening) complex. A UNESCO World heritage site, the temple is the seat of the Buddhist religion and was originally founded by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in the third century BC. The temple underwent significant restorations and renovations before transforming into its current form. A majestic fifty-metre tall spire rises above the sanctum that houses a bright golden-coloured, two metre tall statue of Lord Buddha. The temple complex itself is one of the four Buddhist shrines that have a direct association with the life of Buddha (the others being Sarnath, Lumbini and Kushinagar). In addition to the main Maha Bodhi temple, many temples and monasteries add colour to the gorgeous canvas of Bodhgaya. Many of them have been built by foreign Buddhist communities in their traditional national style. Visitors would be fortunate enough to witness temples modelled on Thai, Bhutanese, Vietnamese and Japanese architecture at the same place. It is indeed a pleasure to witness the fusion of architectural styles from different cultures at Bodhgaya, the quaint little town in the Indian hinterland that gave this world Gautama Buddha.

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A short movie about the “Kora” by Stéphanie

24 April 2015

A short movie about the “Kora”, which is a Tibetan word to describe the circumambulation around a sacred object. In this video, the Kora is happening around the residence of His Holiness the Dalaï Lama in Dharamshala. A contemplative walk surrounded by prayer flags, mantras and prayer wheels. OM MANI PADME HOUNG…


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