I left our dear readers at Amsterdam! Of course I wanted to continue narrating my Travel story but in the meantime so many events took place so successively in our Singapore ashram where I took charge on the 26 June 2015. My apologies to all my readers of the blog for not continuing my travel summary for so long. This is the Second Part of the continuing series that describes my tour of Paris…
We alighted from the high-speed Thalys train at the massive Gare du Nord station in Paris at 2 pm. All the information boards were in French. Taxi drivers of course spoke English. I understood that in Paris, photographic opportunities are abound at every head’s turn. We passed by monument after monument, road after road, church after church, I thought : Elegant? stylish? beautiful? chic? – in one word – picturesque!
Pulsating with positive vibrations
A quick snack and 30 minute rest was enough. The hotel called for a taxi. The young driver was originally from Andhra; but born and brought up in Paris. Hence except using a few words, he couldn’t converse in Telugu. His English with heavy french accent was amusing to listen. He went on enthusiastically explaining all the hallmarks on the way. On entering our Ashram campus , situated in Gretz, a suburb of Paris, we noticed the wide pathway that led to the central building. The place seemed pulsating with positive vibrations. A few devotees at the entrance received us. We went straight to the Minister In-charge monk Revered Swami Veetamohanandaji Maharaj. His cordial conversation relaxed us. The shrine had the framed pictures of Holy Trio. He announced that just evening arati was about to begin. So we all assembled in the shrine.
Revered maharaj requested a bhajan from our SA devotees. They sang ‘parama dayaal…‘ to the delight of our French devotees there. The dining table was laden with an array of mouth-watering dishes. He made me sit in front of him. The Swamis together with all the devotees and children sat to partake of the sumptuous meals. The light banter, harmony and love among the Swamis and devotees made us all feel right at home. After supper, we had interesting discussions with the local devotees too.
Gazing at the grand
The Arc de Triomphe is the city’s second most iconic monument after the Eiffel Tower. History has it that Napoleon Bonaparte started building this monument. But unfortunately did not live to see the completion of the Arc. There is a tomb of an unknown soldier, which lies under its centre. Above is an eternal flame that is relit in a solemn ceremony every evening. In ten minutes walk we could reach the Arc from the hotel. We used to walk back and forth to take the metro rail that was near the Arc. And thus had am ample opportunity to witness it from different angles.
Next stop was the Louvre …The world’s largest museum. It is a city within the city. It is famous for its artistic glories. The reflection of the sun on the pyramid of glass seems like a myriad of diamonds across the entire glass top. A most spectacular sight!
Notre Dame was our another point of interest. This is the picturesque city’s geographical and spiritual heart. Between 1163 and 1334 this ancient gothic structure rose into prominence. This ancient building reminded me of the ancient temples in India.
A boat cruise along the River Seine was a cherished dream of any visitor. The roof top glass boats enables one to see the many monuments on the banks of the river Seine. So we took a boat. It moved on through the almost still waters of the river. We could see the top of the Eiffel Tower from a distance away.
Eyeing an Engineering marvel !
It has a prestige of being most visited monument in the world. What the guide said sounded funny! He said that the Eiffel Tower was built for the World Exhibition in 1889 and the authorities had plans to dis-assemble it once the Exhibition was over! This Exhibition was in celebration of the centenary year of the French Revolution in 1789. The construction was only meant to last for the duration of the Exposition. It looked a veritable poem made on steel. I wondered who would think of dismantling this engineering marvel! Our boat came near the tower. Everyone was eager to rush to view the grand and magnificent structure. Finally we were there standing in front of it. It is astonishing to see the ingenuity of the Mr Gustav Eiffel, the man behind the Eiffel Tower. The iron and steel structure was indeed breathtaking.
Charming Christmas bazar!
We also had an opportunity to visit the Christmas market in Avenue des Champs-Elysees. This is a 2 KM long road. Both the sides plenty of restaurants and shops. Stalls with arts, crafts, chocolate and food are aplenty. Everywhere it was a festive atmosphere. The decorated stalls with lights had an inviting look. Our visit would have not been completed had we not visited one of the gigantic malls in the city! One can easily get lost within minutes in the vast mall. We savoured delicious coffee and croissants.
We gazed admiringly at the circular architecture of the building with its ornate carving, fancy furniture, stunning paintings. The layout of the mall was incredibly beautiful. Paris is an amazing city and yes! therein beats the heart of an ancient, brilliant bygone era.
Next morning we headed back at the station to board our train which was to take us to yet another fascinating city in Europe – Frankfurt.
|| Aum Shri Raamakrishnaarpanamastu ||