Acoma Pueblo

Acoma Pueblo

ACOMA PUEBLO is a native American Pueblo.  The word “pueblo” is the Spanish word for “town” or “village”.  It comes from the Latin root “populus”.  The Word “Acoma” is from the Acoma word ACOMA or ACU which means “the place that always was” or “people of the white rock”.

Acoma Pueblo is approximately 97km west of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The historical land of Acoma Pueblo totalled roughly 5,000,000 acres and the Acoma have continuously occupied the area for more than 800years, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.

Acoma Pueblo scenery

The Pueblo lies on a 365ft MESA.  The isolation and location of the Pueblo has sheltered the community for more than 1,200years, which sought to avoid conflict with neighbouring Navajos and Apaches.  Francisco Vazquez de Coronado’s expedition (in 1540) described the Pueblo as “one of the strongest places we have seen”.  Upon visiting the Pueblo, the expedition “repented having gone up to the place”.  The only access to the Acoma Pueblo, during this time, was a set of almost vertical stairs cut into the rock face.

Today about 300 two and three-storey abode buildings are on the Mess with exterior ladders used to access the upper levels where residents live.  Access to the Mesa is by a road blasted into the rock face during the 1950s.  Approximately 30 or so people live permanently on the Mesa, with the population increasing on the weekends as family members come to visit and tourists, some 55,000 annually.

Acoma Pueblo streets

Acoma Pueblo has no electricity, running water or sewage disposal.  A reservation surrounding the Mesa, totalling 1,600  Tribal members live both on the reservation and outside it.  Contemporary Acoma culture remains relatively closed, however.  According to the 2000 Us census, 4,989 people identify as Acoma.

The buildings here are constructed  from abode bricks with beams across the roof that were covered with poles, brush and then plaster.  The roof of one level would serve as a floor for another.  Each level is connected to others by ladders serving as a unique defensive aid.  The ladders are the only way to enter the buildings, as the traditional designs have no windows or doors.  The lower levels were used for storage.  Baking ovens are outside the buildings, with water being collected from two natural cisterns.  The Acoma also has 7 rectangular KIVAS and a village Plaza which serves as the spiritual centre for the village.

Acoma Pueblo houses

Before contact with the Spanish, Acoma people ate corn, beans and squash, primarily .  MUT-TZE-NEE was a popular thin corn bread.  They also raised turkeys.  They hunted deer, rabbits and antelope.  Wild seeds, berries, nuts and other foods were gathered.  After 1700, new foods are noted in the historical record.  Pudding, corn mush, corn balls, wheat cake, peach-bark drink, flour bread, wild berries and prickly pear all became staples.  After contact with the Spanish, goats, horses, sheep and donkeys were raised.

In contemporary Acoma, other foods are also popular such as apple pastries, corn tamales, green-chilli stew with lamb, fresh corn and wheat pudding with brown sugar.
Irrigation techniques such as dams and terraces were used for agricultural purposes.  Farming tools were made of wood and stone and harvested corn would be ground with hand and mortar. Today, the Acoma produce a variety of goods for economic benefit.  Agriculturally they grow alfalfa, oats, wheat, chillies, corn, melon, vegetables and fruit.  They raise cattle and have natural reserves of gas, geo-thermal and coal resources.  Uranium mines, in the area, provided work for the Acoma, until their closings in the 1980s, after that, the tribe has provided most employment opportunities, however, high unemployment rates trouble the Pueblo.  The legacy of the uranium mines has left radiation pollution, causing the tribal fishing lake to be drained and some health problems within the community.

Acoma Pueblo pottery

Tourism is a major source of income for the tribe.  In 2008, Pueblo opened the Sky City Cultural Centre & Haak’u Museum at the base of the Mesa, replacing the original which was destroyed by fire in 2000.  Films about Acoma culture are shown and a café serves traditional foods.  The complex is fire-resistant, unlike traditional Pueblos, and they are painted light pink and purple, to match the landscape surrounding it.  Traditional artwork is exhibited and demonstrated at the centre, including ceramic chimneys crafted on the rooftops.  Arts and crafts also bring income into the community.

Acoma Pueblo women

The Acoma Pueblo has a Casino and a Hotel, the Sky City Casino Hotel which are alcohol-free and it is maintained by Acoma Business Enterprises, which oversees most Acoma businesses.  Acoma Pueblo is open to the public by guided tours for most of the year.  Photography of the Pueblo and the surrounding land is restricted.  Tours and Camera permits are purchased at the Sky City Cultural Centre, while photography may be produced, with permit.  Video recordings, drawings and sketching are prohibited.

Life is calling

Moksha and happiness

Is there such a thing as “life’s calling” ?  There is no “life’s calling”, but “life is calling” —— both from within and without.  Only when you truly respond to the “call of life”, you know life in its entirety.  If life is calling you, you must go towards it with utmost passion and involvement without any hesitation and calculation.

This is not about your ego wanting to do something different.  It is about living to your full potential. And if you are truly passionate about every aspect of your life, you will realise what you are good at.  It could be that you are good at something new that has never been done before.  But even if you are doing the same, age-old things, when, you do them with utmost passion and involvement , they will raise you to a new dimension of experience.
Problems come when people are passionate about one thing, or when they are passionate in an exclusive way.  This often leads to isolation.  Living an exclusive existence with very limited involvement will only lead to frustration and pain.  One must be absolutely and passionately involved with everything that five senses can perceive in a given moment.
The way life happens is first being, then doing, and then having.  But right now, people always think of first having.  For example, when you were at a certain stage of life, you may have decided that you want to have a certain kind of life that includes a partner, house, car, etc.  Then, you think, “How can I have all this ?”  The moment you start thinking how to get it, people around you start advising you.  Then you think of becoming a doctor, lawyer, software engineer, etc.  Once you are in one of these professions for a period of time, you think you have become something, and that is when you start moving against life.  You are going the “having-doing-being” way, which  leads to an endless pursuit of having.  This is the basis of an unfulfilled life.
You must first establish your way of being.  Then, whether you get what you desire or not, you will still be wonderful.  The quality of your life depends on your way of being.  What you get to have is only a question of capability and situations that are conducive.  If you make this simple shift to “being-doing-having”, then the large part of your destiny will be by your will.
————Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

The whole business of happiness

smart and happyRaj Raghunathan, the author of : If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy ?, was asked why smart people aren’t happy.  His free online course, A Life of Happiness and Fulfilment was rated the best MOOC of 2015.

His answer to the above query : First, some of the very things that make one smart and successful —— a tendency to over-think, to want the best out of  any situation, to e driven —— come in the way of happiness.  Second, because we aren’t educated on what it takes to lead a happy and fulfilling life, everyone, including the smart-and-the-successful ——— commit many of the same “happiness sins” (like not giving happiness a high enough priority) that the not-so-smart-or-successful commit.

The next question : Some smart people still manage to lead lives that are fulfilling and meaningful.  Isn’t it ?  —-  He said, the question is, What are these people doing that’s different ????  They do two things that are different.  First, they seem to pursue a different set of goals : goals that are more conducive to enhancing happiness ——– like prioritising relationships over status, or experiences over material possessions.  Second, you discover that their attitude to life is different.  They are somehow better able to roll with the punches.  This attitude is rooted in an implicit belief that life is good, and that good thins are going to happen to you  ——— what is called  an “abundance mind-set”.  Both the above-mentioned things can be learned.  And the better news is that adopting these tings will actually not just make you happier, it will also make you a better human being and more successful at work, particularly if your work involves creativity and managing people.

He says further : Unhappiness, or more accurately, a sense of dissatisfaction, has long been acknowledged as being fundamental to the human experience.  That is why we have always had a very deep interest in the topic of happiness, all the way back from the Buddha to Aristotle down to the modern-day scientist.  Being an unhappy person is far more difficult than it is to deal with one.  An unhappy person has to live with himself / herself 24-7, you only have to do it for a few hours a day.  So, an attempt at understanding why someone is unhappy, and if you can help them, may be worthy of consideration.

So, it is important to take the time to be nice to yourself.  Charity begins at home, and if you are not happy with yourself, you won’t deal so well with unhappy others.

So, check out this free online course

Satva, Rajas, Tama

When PURUSH (soul) combines with PRAKRITI (creation), in the form of three gunas ——– Satva, Rajas and Tama —– a being takes birth in creation..
Light, Happiness and Gyan are properties of SATVA, RAJAS pertains to desires, attachments and resultant actions, and TAMA is darkness, ignorance and sleep.  At all times, all the three gunas are present in a human being, one dominating the other, depending on the desire and state of evolution of being.
Ordinary beings are ruled by TAMA, which is also the guna dominant in animals and other lower beings.  When a being leaves the body with the dominance of TAMA GUNA, se/he gets the animal yonis and enters into the netherworlds, says the Bhagvad Gita.  So the TAMA GUNA needs to be reduced and SATVA and RAJAS increased.
As the RAJAS GUNA increases, one is guided towards action (KARMA) driven by passion, material desires and attachment.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, every BHOG has a ROG attached to it.  So under this guna, a being indulges in pleasures of the senses and experiences the pains that come with it.  This ties the person to the downward spiral of birth and death —- each birth being lower and more painful than the previous.  Therefore, excess of the RAJAS GUNA is bad.  Abundance of the SATVA GUNA, makes us practise DHYAN & SADHNA and initiates cleansing through service and charity.  Gyan and bliss follow.  When a being leaves the body with dominance of SATVA, she/he takes birth in subtler dimensions and LOKAS, in the yonis of Devas and Rishis.

Three gunas

All the three gunas pertain to physical creation.  We can exit the painful cycle of birth and death to merge with the ultimate reality i.e. GOD by rising above these gunas.  When we go beyond the influence of TAMA, RAJAS & SATVA, we become GUNA ATEET ——– a state that can only be achieved through a guru’s help.  When a guru transfers his Gyan (Shakti) to the disciple, the latter becomes GUNA ATEET.  But Gyan can only exist in a SATVIK environment.  So, it is imperative for us to engage in charity and service, to change the negative karmas accumulated over so many births.  Only then can we move towards gaining Gyan and Liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

————– Yogi Ashwini

Jewel of Vidharba

Tadoba Tiger reserve

The TADOBA ANDHARI TIGER PROJECT is a Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra State.  It is notable as Maharashtra’s oldest and largest National Park.  It is one of India’s 43 PROJECT TIGER  —— Tiger Reserves.

The name TADOBA is the name of the God TADOBA or TARU, praised by the tribal people who live in the dense forests of the TADOBA & ANDHARI region, while the ANDHARI river that meanders through the forest gives the ANDHARI name.
Legend holds that TARU was a village chief who was killed in a mythological encounter with a tiger.  A shrine, dedicated to God Taru, now exists beneath a huge tree, on the banks of the TADOBA LAKE.  The Temple is frequented by Adivasis, especially during the fair held every year in the Hindu month of PAUSHA between December and January.

Tadoba tiger

The GOND Kings once ruled these forests I the vicinity of the CHIMUR hills.  Hunting was completely banned in 1935.  Two decades later, in 1955, was declared a National Park.  ANDHARI Wildlife Sanctuary was created in the adjacent forests in 1986, and, in 1995, both the Park and the Sanctuary were merged to establish the present Tiger Reserve. ——– TADOBA ANDHARI Reserve is the largest and oldest National Park in Maharashtra.  The total area of the Reserve is 1,  This includes TADOBA National Park, created in 1955.

There are about 43 Tigers in the Reserve, one of the highest in India.  Densely forested hills form the northern and western boundary of the Tiger Reserve.  The elevation of the hills ranges from 660ft — 1,150ft.  To the southwest is the 300acres Tadoba Lake, which acts as a buffer between the park’s forest and the extensive farmland which extends up to IRAI Water Reservoir.  This lake is  a perennial water source which offers a good habitat for MUGGAR CROCODILES to thrive.

Tadoba tiger reserve India

Other wetland areas, within the Reserve, include the KOLSA LAKE & ANDHARI River.  The Tadoba Reserve covers the CHIMUR HILLS and the Andhari Sanctuary covers MOHARLI & KOLSA Ranges.  There are thick forests, which are relieved by smooth meadows and deep valleys as the terrain slopes from north to south.  Cliffs and caves provide refuge for several animals.  The 2 “forested triangles” are formed of Tadoba and Andhari range.  The south part of the park is less hilly.  Tadoba Reserve is predominantly a southern tropical dry deciduous forest with dense woodlands comprising 87% of the protected area.  Teak is the predominant tree species.  Other deciduous trees include AIN(Crocodile bark), BIJA, DHAUDA, HALDU, SALAI & TENDU.  The PALAS or Flame of the Forest adds vibrant colour to the forest.  Black plum trees grow in the RIPARIAN habitat around the lake.  At the waterhole at PANCHADHARA, huge ARJUN trees are seen. Bamboo thickets and patches of grass are found throughout the reserve.  The climber KACH KUJALI (velvet bean) found here is a medicinal plant used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Tadoba tiger reserve

Aside   from around 65 of the keystone species of Bengal Tiger, TADOBA TIGER RESERVE is home to other mammals like spotted deer, sloth bears, gaur, nilgai, dhole, striped hyena, small Indian civet, jungle cats, sambar, barking deer and CHAUSINGHA.  The Tadoba Lake is an ornithologist’s paradise, with a diversity of water birds and raptors.  195 species of birds have been recorded, including 3 endangered species.  The Grey-Headed Fish-Eagle eagle, the Crested-Serpent Eagle and Changeable Hawk-Eagle are some of the raptors.

Other interesting species included the Orange-headed thrush, Indian PITTA, Crested Tree-swift, Stole Curlew, Crested Honey Buzzard, Bronze-winged Jacana and Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker.  The call of the Peacock is often heard.  74 species of butterflies have been recorded and that include the Monarch, Mormons and Swordtails.  Other insects located in the reserve are Praying Mantis, Dragonflies, Stick Insects and Jewel Beetles.  Spiders like the Wolf spiders, Crab spiders and Lynx spiders are common.

Bardsey Island

Bardsey Island

Bardsey Island (Welsh : ( YNYS ENLLI), the legendary ISLAND of 20,000 SAINTS, lies 3.1km off the Llyn Peninsula in the Welsh County of GWENEDD.  The Welsh name refers to the  Island of the Bards, or possibly the island of the Viking Chieftain  ——– Barda.

Bardsey Island

The island has been an important religious site since St. Cadfan built a monastery in 516.  In Medieval times, it was a major centre of pilgrimage and, by 1212, belonged to the Augustinian Canons Regular.  The monastery was dissolved and its buildings demolished by Henry — VIII in 1537, but the island remains an attraction for pilgrims to this day.

Bardsey Island

Bardsey Island is now as famous for its wildlife and rugged scenery.  A bird observatory was established in 1953, largely due to the island’s position of important migration routes.  It is cited as a nesting place for Manx shearwaters and choughs, its rare plants and habitats undisturbed by modern farming practices.  It is one of the best places to see grey seals and the waters around the island attract dolphins and porpoises.

Bardsey Island

The spirituality and sacredness of the island, its relative remoteness and its legendary claim to be the burial site of King Arthur, has given it a special place in the- cultural life of Wales, attracting artists, writers and musicians to its shores.

Bardsey Island apple

BARDSEY APPLE :  A gnarled and twisted apple tree, discovered by Ian Sturrock, growing by the side of PLAS BACH, is believed to be the only survivor of an orchard, that was tended by monks who lived there a 1000 years ago.  In 1998, experts on the varieties of British apples at the National Fruit Collection in Brogdale, stated that they believed this tree was the only example of a previously unrecorded Cultivar :  the Bradsey Apple ( Welsh : AFAL ENLLI).  The Cultivar has since been propagated by grafting and is available commercially.  Since its discovery, it has led to a resurgence in many other Welsh apples being discovered and propagated.

Bardsey Island lighthouse

BARDSEY LIGHTHOUSE : stands on the southerly tip of the island and guides the vessels passing through St. George’s Channel and the Irish Sea.  It is the only square lighthouse maintained by Trinity House.  It is built of ashlar limestone and is not plastered inside and out, but painted in red and white bands on the outside.  The lighthouse tower is 98ft high and is unusual among Trinity House towers of this period in being square in plan  Unlike many other lighthouses, it retains its original gallery railings which are of iron and bellied i.e. curved out in width at their crowns towards the top.  The lighthouse is unusual in lacking any sort of harbour or quay facilities.  As it is on an established migratory route, the tower has many bird casualties and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Trinity House have tried to help the problem by providing perches on the lantern top and flood-lighting the tower, although this does not seem to have helped.

Bardsey Island birds

The island was declared a National Nature Reserve in 1986.  It is a favourite bird-watching location.  Thousands of birds pass through each year on their way to their breeding grounds.  Chiffchaffs, gold crests and wheatears are usually the first to pass through, followed by sedge warblers, willow warblers, whitethroats and spotted flycatchers.  About 30 species of birds regularly nest on the island, including ravens, owlets, oystercatchers and the rare chough.  Hundreds of sea birds, including razorbills, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes, spend the summer nesting on the island eastern cliffs, the numbers reflecting the fact that there are no land predators such as rats or foxes to worry about.  The island is one of the best places to see grey seals.  In mid-summer, over two hundred can be seen sunbathing on the rocks and bobbing in the sea, and about fifteen pups are born each autumn.  Their sharp teeth and strong jaws are perfect for breaking the shells of lobsters and crabs which dwell in the waters.

Bardsey Island wildlife

The seas around the island are rich in marine life.  There are forests of strap seaweed.  In the rock pools are sea anemones, crabs and small fish, and in deeper waters, the rocks are covered by sponges and sea squirts.  The yellow star anemone, found offshore, is more common to the Mediterranean.

200 grey seals, 300 sheep and just 4-year-round humans, makes the island’s sheep-to-person ratio larger than even that of New Zealand.  Mobile reception, if you can get it, comes from Ireland, which lies 55 miles west across the Irish Sea.

Bardsey Island is today known as the “Island of 20,000 Saints”, as the island’s largest population resides underground (dead).  As late as the 19th century, long after the Monastery had gone, Bardsey Island bustled with 140 residents.
Bardsey Island is a place of simplicity, that is away from the 21st century.  It is an extraordinary place to visit  ——- one of such peace, silence and natural beauty, that even for those who are not believers, coming here feels like a pilgrimage.

Mahabodhi Temple

Blast from the past…



Away fro the eyes of the popular traveller trails, lies the small, dusty town of Bodhgaya.  This the pilgrimage centre for Buddhist followers.  This is also where the Mahabodhi Temple, where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment stands.  


About 130 kms from Patna is Gaya District, which is noisy and crowded.  But, as you move to the centre of Bodhgaya ——- you fall in step with serenity.  Of course, there are vendors who line the road leading to the temple gate.  The Temple is 55 metres tall, and one is greeted by the chanting of Buddhist mantras by hundreds of monks and nuns.


Declared a  UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002, the Mahabodhi Temple and the famous Bodhi Tree ——- under which Buddha attained enlightenment after six years of meditation ——- is believed to be the fifth in its succession.  The original Bodhi Tree was destroyed because of natural calamities.  The sanctum…

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Murad – Janjira Fort

Janjira Fort

MURUD – JANJIRA is the local name for a fort, situated on an island just off the coastal village of Murud, in the Raigad District of Maharashtra, India.

The word JANJIRA is not native to India and may have originated after the Arabic word JAZEERA (Island). Murud was once known in Marathi as HABSAN (of HABSHI or ABYSSINIAN). The name of the fort is a concatenation of the Konkani and Arabic words for “island” (MOROD and JAZEERA). The word MOROD is peculiar to Konkani and is absent in Marathi.  
Janjira Fort
Murud – Janjira Fort is situated on an oval-shaped rock (instead of the “oblong” and “square-shape”) off the Arabian Sea coast near the port town of Murud, 165km south of Mumbai. Janjira is considered one of the strongest marine forts in India. The fort is approached by sailboats from Rajapuri Jetty.
Janjira FortThe fort has 26 rounded bastions. Now in ruins, the fort in its heyday was a full-fledged living fort with all the necessary facilities —— palaces, quarters for officers, mosque, two small 60ft-deep natural fresh water lakes. On the outer wall flanking the main gate, there is a sculpture depicting a tiger-like beast clasping elephants in its claws. The four elephants symbolize Shivaji’s major enemy dynasties on which he possessed control, whereas he tiger-like beast symbolizes control of Shivaji on these. There are prominent Ashoka Chakras on all the major gates of Janjira Fort.
Janjira Fort
A special attraction of this fort are three gigantic cannons named KALALBANGDI, CHAVRI & LANDA KASAM. These cannons were said to be feared for their shooting range. Another gate to the west is sea-facing, called the DARYA DARWAZA.

There is also another fortress, named GHOSALGAD, which is located on top of the hill around 32km east of Murud – Janjira, that was used as a outpost for the rulers of Janjira.

Janjira fort, built at the end of the 17th century, is almost entirely intact even today, despite the ravages of wind and tide, a testimony to the marvels of ancient engineering. According to all accounts, the JAL – DURK (Sea Fort) could not be conquered by any of the Kings ruling the neighbouring territories. Surprisingly, not even Shivaji could acquire the fort despite 13 expeditions to conquer the fort. His son, Sambhaji, tried a unique approach to capture the fort : digging an underwater tunnel to enter. But, he too failed in his attempt. Not to be deterred, Sambhaji constructed another fort just across the bay, called KANSA. Most of the earth that was dug up to build the tunnel was used in the making of this 2nd fort, which was to be the base for future attacks on the Sea Fort of Janjira. It took 22years to build Kansa, and it is constructed on 22acres of land.
Visitors can gain access to the Janjira Fort from Rajapuri. The fort wall is about 40ft high and has 19 rounded porches or arches, some of which still have cannons mounted on them. Inside the fort walls, the ruins of a mosque, a palace and bath with water channelled from streams, tell of ancient times when royal ladies occupied the quarters. The deep well with cold and sweet water —- a wonder of nature in the midst of the saline sea, still provides water to quench the thirst of the weary visitor. This invincible fort remained unconquered until it became part of the Indian Territory after Independence from the British in 1947. 

Days of our lives

Vedic Astrology
As per Vedic Astrology, each day of a week is presided by a particular planet. Let us talk about each day of the week, its presiding planet, and the activities and colours that give good results on a particular day.

SUNDAY is dedicated to the Sun and is ruled by SURYA the Sun God. The Sun gives benevolent support to all activities related to celebrations and community efforts. An excellent day to undertake journeys and resolving disputes. MARION is a good colour for Sunday.

The Moon presides over Monday, and so it is an ideal day for financial activities, grih pravesh, marriage or an engagement. It is a also a suitable day for seeking medical help. WHITE & BLUE are the colours for Monday.

The planet MARS rules Tuesday. It fills you with courage and energy. It is a good day to settle disputes and perform administrative tasks. RED is the colour of the day.

Wednesday is governed by the planet MERCURY. All activities related to the intellect augur well on this day. It is also an ideal day for love and romance. The colour of the day is GREEN.

Thursday is ruled by the planet JUPITER. It is an auspicious day to visit temples and receive divine blessings. It is not recommended to travel on Thursdays. YELLOW is the colour of Thursday.

VENUS rules Friday and promises success, especially to women. Most suitable for the purchase of precious things. Friday is also a good day for medical treatments of serious illness, as the healing energies are most active on Fridays. SEA GREEN, BLUE or WHITE are the colours of the day.

Saturday, ruled by SHANI or SATURN, is a spiritual day when people should fast, undertake pious activities and shun all kinds of luxuries. BLACK is the colour of the day.

——— Maanya Kohli (renowned Tarot Card Reader).