On the white sands of Tularosa Basin...we couldn’t help but walk “bare feet” ...and found ourselves not just in tune with the wonder of nature around us but also deeply in tune with our inner self. Such is the gravitating effect of New Mexico’s white sand dunes, the world’s largest gypsum dune field – mysteriously yogic and snow white. White sands are spread out over some 275 square miles of Chihuahuan desert in the Tularosa Basin surrounded by San Andres and Sacramento mountains. Gypsum deposits from the mountains get washed away with the rain and are trapped in the Tularosa Basin. After the rains evaporate, they leave behind white crystals which eventually break down into fine white sands. The wildlife at white sands blends with its environment– the wildlife has evolved and adapted to the drifting white sands and many of the animals have light coloration skin that helps them camouflage easily.
We traveled to White Sands National Monument from El Paso, TX, heading towards the town of Alamogordo, about 90-minute drive over I-10 and US-70 East route crossing Las Cruces and the famous Organ mountains.
The historic Spanish pueblo style visitors center which is part of the core revival project greets you at the entrance to the monument. At the visitor center, we were oriented with an awe-inspiring short film, “Land in Motion”. If you plan to stay until sunset, the visitor’s center offers star gazing tips as well.

     - सरिता वाघ

Photo credits: Sayali Thorat

Rohit's Bio:

Rohit Kadam was born in Satara, Maharashtra. He completed his school and college in Pune. He earned his  B.E. in Instrumentation and Control from VIT Pune, in 2007, and M.S. (ECE) from Oklahoma State University in 2010.  He is an electrical engineer by profession and an active member of AMM.

Rohit can be contacted at ro16102003@gmail.com.

Brave Tanaji

Hearing the bad news, Mavlas started to run from the fort. Suryaji came forward and announced to his troops that ropes for downward escape were cut and the only way out would be to fight the enemy and defeat them. Mavlas listened to him and the battle resumed. Even at 80 years old Shelarmama engaged Udaybhan in a fight and killed him to avenge Tanaji’s death. By dawn, Mavlas who were outnumbered by the enemy, defeated the Mughal army and once again Shivaji’s saffron flag was unfurled out over Kondana.
Upon hearing the demise of Tanaji, Shivaji was struck with grief and expressed his sorrow by uttering in Marathi, "Gad ala, pan sinha gela!" (Fort won, but I lost the lion). So the Kondana was renamed "Sinhagad" (Fort of Lion).
The great historian Sir H. G. Rawlinson said about this battle, "It was a task, which the Mavlas alone, perhaps of any troops in the world, could hope to cope with successfully." A bust of Tanaji was erected inside the fort in memory of his martyrdom in the 1970s. The Bollywood actor Ajay Degan is producing a Hindi movie titled "Tanaji: The Unsung Warrior" scheduled to be released in 2019.

This article was first published in Tricia Winter Edition 2018. ​ 
Sudhir Kulkarni's Bio
Sudhir Kulkarni was born at Tasgaon, Sangli District, in Maharastra. He got his School & College education in Mumbai. He earned his B.E. ( Civil ) degree from Pune Engineering College in 1961. He came to the US in 1966 to get a Masters in Civil Engineering from the University of Wyoming, Laramie. After getting that degree in 1968, he started working in Bridge Design of NY State DOT in Albany. While working he got another Masters in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute(RPI), Troy. He worked in DOT for 35 years & retired in 2003. After retirement, he published 6 books in Marathi of which (3) are on Bridges. Since 2010, he is serving as a member of Conservative Advisory Council of Town of Colonie, NY. His hobbies include playing Duplicate Bridge, Travel, & Writing. He can be reached at sudhirs.kulkarni@gmail.com. 

The expanse of sands can be overwhelming at times. We did find a little fear creeping up on us ... of getting lost and ...of perhaps not being able to find our way back from the Big Dune hiking trail. So we decided to stick alongside picnic areas where we could feel the presence of humans and perhaps catch a whiff of some grilling. We did enjoy a barbecue. Seemingly FLAT and about 30 mins, the traction of the ever-changing dunes with the whiteness reflecting the sunlight and parched throat on the dry desert land can surely warrant a change of its description. We thanked ourselves for keeping extra bottles of water as a precaution.

White sands were a unique and mesmerizing experience.  As someone has correctly said; “Human spirit needs places where nature hasn’t been rearranged by man”- author unknown.
The mesmerizing white sands are surely one such place.

For any comments Sarita can be reached at Saritawagh@gmail.com

The fort was well guarded on three sides and the only access was from the side of a precipe (more than 2000 feet above the ground), which was considered insurmountable. A plan was made that Tanaji, along with 300 Mavlas, would climb vertical cliffs on the west side in the middle of the night. In the meantime, Tanaji’s brother Suryaji and Shelarmama with 500 Mavlas would attack the front gate. Tanaji and his troops used the help of a Monitor Lizard (like iguana) named Yeshwanti (victorious), to climb up the precipe to reach the fort.

Once inside, Tanaji’s men opened the front gate so Suryaji and his men could enter the fort. The fort was controlled by Udaybhan Rathod, appointed by Jai Singh. A fierce sword fight took place between Tanaji and Udaybhan. During the fight, Tanaji broke his shield but he continued fighting bravely by tying his upper garment over his hand to ward off Udaybhanu’s blows. In the fight, Tanaji was gravely wounded and died on the battlefield.

संत वांग्मय हा महाराष्ट्राचा मोठा वारसा. दासबोध वाचून बरीच वर्ष झाली होती. पुन: वाचायला सुरवात  करताना एक विचार मनांत आला. नारायण, (रामदास ) याची वधू काशी बोहल्यावर उभी डोळ्यासमोर राहिली.केवळ ९ वर्षांची मुलगी, मुंडावळ्या बांधिलेली, मोठ कूंकू, दागिन्याने मढलेली, नऊ वारी पातळ सावरत, हातात हार घेतलेली. मध्ये अंतर्पाठ. पलिकडे नारायण. तोही लहानच १२ वर्षांचा. आईला दिलेल वचन पाळण्याकरिता , या विश्वाचा विचार मनांत ठसलेला, नाइलाजाने बोहल्यावर उभा. यातून कस बाहेर पडायच याचा विचार करत असेल का? मामेभाऊ तिचा नवरा होणारं होता. त्यांच नवीन आयुष्य सुरु होणारं होत. पण घडल सगळ अघटितच.

मंगलाष्टक सुरू झाली आणि “सावधान” हा शब्द कानावर पडला नारायणाच्या. त्याने धूम ठोकली. मंडपात कल्लोळ माजला. नवरा मुलगा पळाला. सगळे पुरुष त्याच्या मागे धावत सुटले. नारायणाचा भाऊ पण त्यात अग्रभागी होता. पण नारायण कांही हाती लागला नाही. परतला तो रामदास म्हणूनच! कित्येक वर्षानी साधनां पूर्ण करूनच.मंडपात त्या लहान वधूला काय वाटले असेल? ती इतकी लहान होती की सगळी परिस्थिती तिच्या लक्षात ती आली असेल का? का नारायण धूम पळाला म्हणून गमतीच वाटले असेल?

नारायण सापडेना तेव्हा त्याचा मोठा भाऊ गंगाधर याने नवीन वर शोधला. ब्राम्हण वर तयार होईना. एक तरूण मराठा तिच्या बरोबर विवाह करायला तयार झाला. आणि ते लग्न लागल. वधू काशीच्या वडिलांनी खूप प्रायासानी विवाहाला परवानगी दिली.१७ व शतक, मराठा तरूण नवीन वर, मंडपातून पळून गेलेला वर, एक लहान ब्राम्हण वधू, कन्यादान केलं नारायणाचा भाऊ गंगाधर याने. हा पहिला आंतरजातीय विवाह हाता. मराठा आणि ब्राम्हण यांचा. पण रूढींचा पगडा जबरदस्त असतो.

काशीच शव  एका जवळच्याच विहिरीत सापडल. थोड्यात आठवड्यात लग्नानंतर. तिने जीव दिला का तिला विहिरीत कुणी ढकलल ते तो काळच जाणे. तो काळ, मराठा ब्राम्हण विवाह, आजूबाजूच्या लोकांना जाच, घरात कूचंबणा!कुणास ठाऊक कंस हे घडल?अनेक कारण एकत्र येतात. घटना घडतात.

१२ वर्षाच्या नारायणाचा मार्ग ठरलेलाच होता. तो तर जगाला मार्ग दाखवण्याकरिताच जन्मला होता.. आईला लग्नाच वचन दिल होत. हे सर्वच रूढींचे बळी होते. तत्कालीन परिस्थिती रुढींच्या बंधनात जखडलेली. पण या घटनेत पण रुढीला टक्कर देणारे होतेच. नारायणाचो बंधू गंगाधरपंतानी वर शोधला  तो मराठा म्हणून ब्राम्हण कुटंबातून संपूर्ण विरोध. काशीचे वडील तयार झाले मुष्कीलेने. गंगाधरपंत, काशीचे वडील, मराठा वर साखाजी मिंधर अंबड गावात सोमवाडीचा देशमुख. या तिघांनी समाजाच्या तीव्र विरोधाशी सामना दिला.

रामदास आणि त्यांचे अप्रतीम दासबोधासारखे ग्रंथ, शिवाजीमहाराजांना गुरु या नात्याने दिलेला सक्रीय पाठिंबा हे तर सगळ महाराष्ट्रात प्रसीद्ध आहेच. रामदासांच नाव माहिती नसलेला महाराष्ट्रात तर विरळाच!

बळी पडली ती अल्पवयीन काशी. जालना येथे अंबड गावात तिने जीव दिला का तिची हत्या झाली ते सांगायलाच आता कोणी नाही. पण ती बारव अजून सती काशीची बारव म्हणून ओळखली जाते.

या घटनेत खलनायक नाही. येथे धैर्य आहे.  संयम आहे. रुढीशी झगडा तर आहेच.रामदास पण आहेत. 
काशी, एक कोवळी निष्पाप पोर समाजाच्या अंध रुढीचा बळी ठरली.
या सगळ्या रामदासी पंथात काशीच अस्तित्व आहेच. ही तिची आठवण आणि आपल्या मनांत अशा अंधश्रद्धा किती दडल्या आहेत हे पहाण्याची एक संधी! 


सुमन जोशी, अल्बनी न्यूयार्क

​Suman Joshi can be reached at sumanalpine@yahoo.com

At the age of 16, Shivaji captured Torna, a small fort around Pune, which was under Vijapur rule. With that success, he later started taking the forts of Sahyadri mountains in Western Maharashtra. He knew the importance of holding forts at strategic locations to control territories around it. In 1658, Aurangjeb occupied the Mughal throne after his father Shahjahan's death. It took a few years for him to consolidate his position as an emperor. In 1665, Aurangjeb sent a large army under the Rajput commander Jai Singh to take care of Shivaji’s aggression in Deccan. Realizing certain defeat, Shivaji had to seek a temporary truce with Jai Singh and was forced to return some forts to Mughals. Kondana Fort, 22 miles SW of Pune, was one of them.



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White Sands National Park, NM – A Travelogue

“We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos.” – Albert Einstein 

 One day in 1670, Jijabai who was in her Pune palace was deeply disturbed by the Mughal flag flying on nearby Kondana fort. She asked Shivba (as she affectionately called him), that he should send a Sardar to retake that fort. Shivaji thought about Tanaji Malusare, a Maratha sardar from Mahad of Konkan region, who had assisted Shivaji in his earlier expeditions. Tanaji was in the midst of preparing for his son Raiba’s wedding. As soon as Tanaji got the message from his Maharaj (as his sardars used to address Shivaji), he left for Pune not only with his force but also with his brother Suryaji and maternal uncle Shelarmama. In Pune, Shivaji broached the subject of capturing Kondana, Tanaji said; "Raiba’s wedding can wait, but not the attack on the fort!"

Albany Maharashtra Mandal

तूच या सृष्टीचा आदि

तुझ्यातच विलीन अनंत 

तूच विखुरलास अंश होऊनि 

धरणीवर या जीवात प्रत्येक

तूच माझे नित्य ध्येय 

तूच माझा आराध्य देव

तूच अंधारात प्रकाश होऊनि

वाट दाखविसी आम्हा नेहमी

तूच होऊनि शब्द येशी

विचारांमध्ये माझ्या मनी 

अश्रू होऊनि तूच वाहशी 

भक्तीने ओत-प्रोत या नेत्री

मंत्र होऊनि गुरूंच्या मुखी

तूच आलास माझ्या हृदयी

वास असुदे नित्य असाच

कठीण अशा या जीवनात 

धैर्य न विश्वास होवो कमी

हीच प्रार्थना प्रतिदिनी

तुझेच रूप असो ध्यानी

जेंव्हा क्षण अंतिम येई