Incredible India, India Travel, Tourism, Travel

The Blue Mountains

Mountains have a different story to tell. They stand tall, firm, high up touching the clouds and also support livestock. People are also dependent on these mountains, at least the mountains in Northern States of Indi and Nepal protect the subcontinent from the dry winds of the Gobi Desert and traps the monsoon clouds. Well, Himalayas, the mighty Himalayas have helped us Indians in many ways and we pay our tribute to it by exploring the mountains. But there is one particular hill station that has an amazing charm to it. It was the summer retreat for the Britishers during the British Raj. Even today old buildings speak of the grand way the Britishers stayed there. The place is Mussoorie, some 500 kilometers from New Delhi and one of the many places where I would love to go countless times.

Mussoorie has a charm of its own. From dense thick forest cover to the clouds covering up the mighty Himalayas, the small hill town has appealed to me in countless ways. It is just a 7-hour drive from New Delhi and I have been there almost 5 to 6 times, but always with a gaze in my eyes and wondering to discover something new this time. If the weather conditions are perfect, Mussoorie is the ideal place for spotting the various mountain ranges and in turn giving it a blue hue. Whenever I feel an urge to go, this place pops up in my mind out of nowhere.

Friends and travel are the best things to be enjoyed #friends #mountains #travel #travelgram #instalike #himalayas #like

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A silent walk by the Mall Road leads to the heart of the town. This part of the town is prone to good bistros and cafe. However it is very difficult to spot a good quality premium bar here, although most of the restaurants serve liquor. There is not many plces to view here, but circling Mussoorie one can plan a trip to countless places like Kanatal camping grounds, Dhanaulti, Chakhrota, Yamunotri, etc. to name a few. Some waterfalls are here and fetch large number of tourists. Increased tourism although has almost finished their natural beauty; all thanks to littering and plastics. The major one is Kempty Falls located 13km away from the city.

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Kempty Falls, Mussoorie is a major tourist attraction.

But if one has a keen eye to observe nature, the blue hills can be spotted if traveled around the city. They are a pure delight and mesmerizes the human mind in many ways.

 

One just has to look for these. I somehow feel associated with this place and the mountains. Here’s a glimpse of the small town and the blue mountains. When I am depressed or when my travel bug kept biting, Mussoorie never failed to astonish me.

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** Disclaimer: It is to be duly noted that I have not edited any one of the photos to give it a blue look and also didn’t shoot any of these photos in the Incandescent mode of my camera.

 

Incredible India, India Travel, IndiaTravel, Tourism, Tours&Travel, Travel

A Roadtrip Through the Heart of India

Madhya Pradesh, which is made up with two, words i.e. ‘Madhya’ which means Central and ‘Pradesh’ which means state. So Madhya Pradesh is located in the central part of India or you can say in the heart of India. Whenever the TV commercial for Madhya Pradesh Tourism used to get aired which said “Hindustan ka Dil dekho” which means in Hindi “See the heart of India”, made me curious to see and learn about this state.

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India map displaying Madhya Pradesh which is the central part of the country. Image Credit : http://www.sehore.nic.in

I decided to go on a road trip through the heart of India. The route undertaken was Mumbai – Sanchi – Khajuraho – Orchha – Indore – Mumbai. A total trip of 2600 Kms in 6 Days. I left my home at early morning 6:00 AM so I can avoid traffic and can reach the highway by sunrise. One thing, which I prefer not to miss during my road trips are the sunrise. It’s always so mesmerizing to see the sun rise through the cloud and slowly the orange ball turns up int a huge ball as the clock ticks the right time, around 6-30AM in the morning.

My first stop was Bhopal, which was 772km away from Mumbai. It was a 17 hours’ drive from Mumbai. As it was 8:30 in the night when I reached Bhopal, I stayed in a small ‘dhaba’ or a motel. The stay along with the meal was charged just Rs.280. Sleeping under a sky on a highway with your luggage tied up on your motorcycle is totally a different feeling. As the morning sunrise hit me, I woke up to a fresh feeling and moved towards my next destination Khajuraho that was 332 kms away, but on the way i need to visit Sanchi Stupa also.

Sanchi Stupa situated near to Bhopal is just a 40 Kms drive. Sanchi is a Buddhist Complex, famous for its Great Stupas. The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the Oldest Stone structure in India and was originally commissioned by the great ruler King Asoka in 3rd Century BC. The original Construction of the stupa was overseen by Asoka. The Stupa has mostly Brahmi Inscription on it and mostly all of them talk about donations in small or big term. They all are of a great historical significance. It is to be remembered that it was King Asoka who solely is responsible for the spread of Buddhism from India to South East Asia.

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Sanchi Stupa. Image credits : sanchi.org

After visiting Sanchi i went ahead towards my next destination Khajuraho. The distance of Khajuraho from Sanchi was approx. 350 Kms which I thought to get covered in 6-7 Hours. I reached the destination in the estimated time. I reached Khajuraho and decided to stay in a Hostel in Khajuraho. They charged me Rs.350 for a night, which was an air-conditioned dormitory. Someone truly said, “While you are on a journey, you will meet few people who will be a part of your travel story.” I meet three people from South Africa, Taiwan and China and we connected instantly. Therefore, we decided to watch the light and sound show which was an amazing experience followed by dinner in a nice restaurant.

The perception what people still have for India is still old and highly preconceived. They believe that in India they have Parda system still prevailing. They still believe that whenever we hear a song we start dancing on the street and many other things. As we talked and talked, I cleared their doubts with a few places to visit for their future trip to India. The next day i visited the temples, which I wanted to, visited from a long time ago. I was mesmerized by the architectural marvel of the temples. I think that I have never seen such magnificent and graceful temples ever. The architecture of the temples had Nagra style architectural symbolism. The main features of the temples are the erotic sculptures, which are on the walls of the temples. History states that at one point of time, the population was not increasing and the ruler felt that the dynasty and his kingdom can never flourish if such continued and hence decided to inscribe eroticism on the walls of the temples. Kamasutra theory and it is a world known fact that it originated from India.

 

Most of the temples in Khajuraho were built between 950 and 1050 BC. by the Chandela Dynasty. There were historical notes, which said that there were 85 temples by the 12th Century spread across 20 square kilometers, but now only 25 temples have survived. The Khajuraho group of temples were built together but were dedicated to two religion Hinduism and Jainism. The Khajuraho Temples represent one expression of many forms of art and are dedicated to Vishnu, which includes Vyalas, which are hybrid imaginary animals with Lion’s Body. Some 10% of these iconic sculptures and carvings are sexually themed and shows various sex positions. A common misconception is that the old carvings and structures depict sex between deities, However, the kama arts represents the diverse expression of different human beings. The vast majority of arts depict various aspects of everyday life.

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After visiting and seeing Khajuraho I moved to my next destination, Orchha, which is 178 kilometers from Khajuraho. It’s Orchha where Lord Ram is still worshipped as a king and not as lord. The journey from Khajuraho to Orchha was a 4 hours’ drive. With no expectations in mind, I rode towards Orchha. I managed to find a guest room which charged me Rs.250 for a day.

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Age old cenotaphs of Orchha. In view is the Betwa river.

Orchha is a historic town situated on the banks of the river Betwa. Bundel Rajput Chief Rudra Pratap Singh established it in 16th Century. The main attractions to see in Orchha are Raja Mahal, Jahangir Mahal, Ram Raja Mandir, Royal Chattirya and Chattarbhuj Mandir. The Mahals in the Main Orchha Fort has influences from Bundel style and Mughal style of architecture. As the great Mughal emperor Jahangir was close to Raja Rudra Pratap he built an entire palace for the stay of Jahangir as he was coming to Orchha for a visit. The ancient town of Orchha seems frozen in time, with its many monuments continuing to retain their original grandeur even to this day.

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Jahangir Mahal of the great Orchha Fort

After Orchha it was time to return back to home so I decided to break the journey into two parts. First part Orchha – Indore and second Indore – Mumbai. As both the distance were almost equal. It took me 10 hours to reach to Indore from Orchha. Also while coming back, I crossed the Tropic of Cancer which was for me the best moment in this road trip. I reached Indore by 5:30 PM so in the evening I decided to go to the famous Sarafa Bazaar, which is famous for its street food. I was more excited for Sarafa Bazaar because it was covered in many food shows. After reaching Sarafa bazaar my mind was blown seeing the different varieties of unique street food. The taste of every item was unique and it was something, which I had never tried out before. It has a mix of all the flavors.

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My companion and passion, Abira.

Now it was time to return home. Exhausted, drained yet replenished with a lot of experiences and meeting some amazing people on the entire course of the journey, it was a trip worth remembering. Traveling has always opened my eyes and mindset to brand new levels and it will continue to do so. It doesn’t matter where you go but what matters is how easily one can get used to the feeling that it is time to get lost and there’s no chain that can hold yourself back. Traveled through the heart of India and truly it’s incredible India.

Incredible India, India Travel, Tourism, Tours&Travel, Travel

Agra Fort – 11 Interesting Facts

Agra is a small city in northern India and situated at 225 kilometers from India’s capital city, New Delhi. The city is famous for the Taj Mahal, built by the great Mughal emperor Shah Jahan when the love of his life i.e. his wife, Mumtaz died during childbirth. His love was so intense that he entirely made a mausoleum constructed over the grave of Mumtaz. Till date, the Taj Mahal or simply the Taj doesn’t fail to wonder the visitors and is a wonder of the world. A lot has been spoken about the Taj but what seems another important historical place, mostly remains in the shadows which is the Agra Fort. The Mughal dynasty ruled most of the vast plains of northern India from this very fort. It was in 1638 AD that the capital city of the empire was shifted to Delhi. The foundation stone of the empire started right from the Agra Fort which in its initial days was simply known as ‘Badalgarh’ which means the city of the clouds.

 

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The entry gate to the fort also known as Amar Singh Gate.

 

Here are some interesting facts about the fort, which I recently visited with my parents and our guide was highly helpful in making us go through the history of the fort and its facts and figures.

  • The strategic location of the fort was of vital importance to every dynasty that decided to take control of Agra. It was Babur, who first captured the city and built the fort. After he lost his battle with Sher Shah Suri, the fort was taken over by the Suri dynasty who ruled till 1555 AD and finally was taken back by Akbar and he made it redesigned using red sandstone. So in a period reigning from 1526 to 1556, three dynasties took control of the fort.
  • Most part of the fort is made of red sandstone. It was Akbar who had a fantasy for red walls and architectures made of sandstone. He brought some 4000 plus premium sandstone from the quarries spread across northern India to build the fort as he wanted.
  • Upon entering the fort from the southern gate, visitors can see a 60-degree inclined walkway to move up to the main complex of the fort. However, it was made 60 degrees inclined so that during the siege the enemy elephants and horses can’t climb with great efficiency. Moreover, super heated oil used to be poured down so that the entrance gets jammed. This indicated brilliant usage of science and architecture of those times.

 

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This is the area of 60 degree inclination. Hot oil used to get poured along the walls. The marks are easilly spotted in the picture.

 

  • Agra Fort was the symbol of power, strength, and resilience of those times. The fort runs parallel to the Yamuna river and the moat, till date, remains connected to the river. Mighty gates around the fort in its four directions, made it highly impregnable of those times.
  • The fort shows us a classic example of the lavish lifestyle of the Mughal kings. The Sheesh Mahal, made of Belgian glass, was of vital importance to the recreational activity of the Mughal kings. Although it is now closed for the visitors, but legends say that lighting a candle in one corner of the room would light up the room in numerous ways and the light rays criss-cross each other in a magnificent way, credits to the angular positioning of the glass.
  • Although it shows and is a classic example of Islamic architecture, but the fort has a separate section for Hindu temples and places where Hindu people would worship their gods. It was since Akbar’s wife, Jodha Bai, was a Hindu, so Akbar out of love and loyalty and faith in his kingdom had made Hindus equally accessible to the benefits of the fort. This certainly strikes a classic symbol of humanity, devoid of religion and its conflicts.

 

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Hindu domed temple, much like the princely states of Rajasthan, inside the Agra Fort.

 

  • Today, much of the fort is covered in white marbles. It was Akbar’s son, Shah Jahan, who had an ever longing desire for palaces in pure white color, brought the white marbles from the various region in India and Iran and made the vital section of the fort reconstructed.
  • During the reign of Shah Jahan and Akbar, vital dignitaries from far-flung areas of the world used to visit the fort. A special section for such meetings of importance was made and it was called the Diwan-E-Khas. The fort was also the center of Islamic learning and literacy and was flocked by preachers and teachers from the Middle East and Central Asia.
  • The location of the fort is of such strategic importance that 80% of the fort, as of now, is under the control of the Indian Military and is closed to the public. So from this, we can clearly imagine on what basis the fort was built at that time.

 

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The Taj Mahal, as seen from the Agra Fort

 

  • Agra Fort was plundered and looted by various dynasties once the Mughal power started to weaken. It was Shah Jahan’s famous peacock throne that had the world famous Koh-i-Noor diamond. It was Nadir Shah, a great Persian ruler who had an eye for the diamond. He attacked the fort and plundered and looted the throne and along goes the diamond from India to Persia and finally in the hands of the British.
  • Agra Fort is much devastated till date. The gold and ruby plated walls, gems embedded on them and all the luxurious and lavish Mughal decorations was dismantled and looted by the Britishers. Selling these items to traders the British started to gain money and supremacy over the region. Had those not been looted and plundered, the fort would have been a striking marvel, far more beautiful than the Taj Mahal.

 

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All these walls were enalid with precious stones and gems. Some were even brought from the mines of the Middle East and Africa.

 

Located 3kms upstream from the Taj Mahal, the fort can be reached by rickshaws at a very nominal fare. It took us 40 rupees to reach to the fort and the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort can be covered in a single day. So we hired a cab and it costed somewhere around 5000 rupees for the entire trip. If anyone is in New Delhi and doesn’t make a trip to Agra then certainly the traveler is missing a vital piece of Indian architecture. Nothing is complete if the Taj Mahal is not visited. So here it is.

 

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Maintenance work is going on, on one of the pillars.

 

 

Blogging, Development, Motivation, Tourism, Tours&Travel, Travel

Cigarette, Whiskey and Budget Traveling

To begin with, if you’re not a full-time job doer and traveling or photography is not your passion, you can immediately click on the cross button of your browser window, because this blog isn’t for you mate. As the author of this blog, I am sorry to put it this way, but yes, you cannot relate to the diaspora of feelings that I will be writing here. So before you stumble upon understanding my thought process, it’s always easy to take the short cut and close the window.

I work as a full-time digital marketing professional and blogging and photography is my lifeline. So it is hard for me to imagine a day where I am not reading articles, writing short stories or blogs, doing nothing with my camera or rather experimenting something related to arts and creativity. Photoshop, yes I am adept with it.

I love to play with words and that has a very high emotional attachment to me.

Photos and frames are a vital key to get me involved in any sort of work. The love for it will come automatically. Being a very less expressive person and most of the time succumbed to my own thoughts, I find alleviation through words and clicks. I am highly thankful to my parents for not stopping me from doing anything, I believe they understood what I’m made of pretty early. Parents after all.

The pivotal question that arises now is how I travel? Here’s the answer. I drink and smoke up shit to let go of the chains that bind me and closely listen to my heart. If there is the yearning for some place I am definitely heading there. What is most important to understand is that in our complex lives of tasks and ample presentations and client meetings and all those things which keep on constantly bugging you, one need to let it go loose. With the brain, trained to work on what will happen the next day and how good will the career trajectory will be, letting it lose isn’t easy and hence whiskey to the rescue. Well, vodka also works but I am not much of the transparent drink person.

Images from : www.instagram.com/lust.for.wanderlust

“I prefer it in the golden hue.”

Now comes another tricky situation i.e. budget traveling. I was not born to rich parents and I am earning decent so as to fill my daily needs and sudden travel plans. So in no way, I can afford to spend big bucks on luxury resorts, hotels or be it in transportation. Hostels are the thing for me. They come cheap, easy to book and services I get there is enough to meet my needs. Another thing to note is when I am traveling and high in spirit, in both mental spirit as well as distilled one, I don’t expect much from my destination. Dad taught me one thing in early childhood days, ‘when in Rome so be a Roman’. This is one thing I have been following strictly. Hence there is no way I get my elevated and soft like a bird’s feather hurt to succumb to injuries. That never happens. One thing I am skeptical about is the washroom, I am not used to the squat toilets although that is highly prevalent in India but I just hate it. Plus, there must be toilet paper which for long the hostels have provided.

Most of the time what happens whenever I roam is walking random streets and click click click and accompanying the ever clicking thought process that keeps my brain bug to keep on biting is cigarettes. I know it is not good for health and one smoke can take 20 minutes from my life but what to do with life when it has given me only lemons and no good quality strawberries. So ‘tis better to smoke up the shit, drink to the fullest, enjoy the night in a smoke filled random pub, talk to strangers, share the thoughts about traveling and life and spirituality, and lastly, live like there’s no tomorrow. This is one of the best ways to enjoy an unplanned travel. Living the experience rather than experiencing the living, if such is the motto of your life, then you can tread on my approach towards travels and lifestyle. If you feel you’re a lot into shackles and all goofed and stuffed up in your brain, gulp it down mate, light up a fag, relax and pack your bags and get out of your comfort zone to explore every place on this god forbidden planet like you are exploring for the first time. Enjoy life, it’s meant to be lived.

We all will leave someday but the question prior to leaving is, how have we lived?

Review, Reviews, Tourism, Tours&Travel, Travel

Work+Travel – A Remote Life

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An opportunity like this can never me missed, right?

It all started with a desire. Wise men rightfully said that unless there is an urge or a desire to do something, one cannot achieve it. The famous Hollywood flick, V for Vendetta, has a very famous dialogue, “Ideas are bulletproof”, and indeed ideas are. This is the story of the man who wanted to combine work with traveling. The idea was named, THE REMOTE LIFE and the founder Mr. Nishchal Dua.

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#TheFoundation

The stone was laid on community building for connecting the like-minded individuals who are crazy about traveling and want to experience the experience. Unless experienced in a thorough manner, travel is meaningless. But what about the ones, who are die-hard travelers but just cannot because of their workplace? So comes the need for The Remote Life. It allows you to work while you’re traveling while the others have been taken care of.

  • Workplace – A place will be booked where one can work during the day. Seamless internet connectivity ensures that even during travel days, the work isn’t hampered.
  • Stay – A private apartment or villa will be booked near to the workplace, and provision of two-time meals.

Oh come on, although many other facilities are there in the list, aren’t these two the most supreme facilities that are being provided?

#DigitalStratosphere

Mr.Nishchal said very firmly that utilizing the digital space appropriately is the key. The masterstroke that he plays is when it comes to handling customer queries.

“We are catering to customers from varied time zones, they have their queries which must be answered at that particular point in time”

The above statement clearly indicates how he is spearheading his thoughts and implementing the same in building up the community. He is effectively utilizing the social media platforms. From publishing blogs to videos and itinerary lists, The Remote Life is engaging their fans in every way possible.

It all started out from many hit and trial methods to engage the fans and finally, they are on the track. The Instagram feed is filled with various images of their travel that can make anyone’s feet itchy. The same applies to their Facebook page as well. It seems that the right formula has been applied and community building up is on the right track for Mr. Dua. Through their social presence, not only they are engaging the right kind of people but also catering to their various needs like watching a travel video, reading blogs to glancing through stunning pictures. Aren’t these the vital aspects that a travel centric person looks out for?

#TheRightChord

“Yesterday is gone. Continuous planning to do the thing that you want to do will remain in the planning phase and will never happen”

These were Mr. Dua’s inspiring words to other travelers who want to build up something in the overcrowded travel industry. What you’re thinking right now must be implemented at this point of time and he believes that losing is not failing; losing is not trying at all to do something. Stepping out of a modern glass cubicle and establishing an own community in the highly competitive travel industry is a tedious job which he has done. 

Memberships are available at a very minimal cost. For the time being, they are focusing only on South East Asia, where the countries being covered are Indonesia, Thailand, and Cambodia. You can view their travel details here: https://www.theremotelife.com/south-east-asia-trip/

One, who needs to travel abroad and get the taste of the blend of a good work-life-travel balance, this is the community. They have already got members from across the globe and are growing. 

Get the real taste of experiencing a holiday with The Remote Life is like https://www.theremotelife.com/travel-work-experience/

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During the time of our conversation, Mr. Dua always seemed very much focused on what he wants to do to bring in a new sort of experience to travelers. A very polite man, who is not afraid to share his views that implement and show it to people, how a thing (if thought about) can be done. It was a very short conversation on the telephone, but his way of speaking about traveling somehow brought out that travel insect, which resides in my brain. The Remote Life is growing and will continue to grow, to bring the fellow travelers like us on a single platform where our work will remain unhampered and the thirst for travel will remain unending. Local food, local housing and everything that pertains to the local charm, life surely will be remote, serving a good cause, with The Remote Life.

Incredible India, India Travel, Tourism, Tours&Travel, Travel

I Don’t Love Delhi At All (Part 1)

Delhi commonly called as “Dil walo ka shahar hai ye” (the city for the people with a good heart and the romantics), is the capital of India. With an estimated population of 25 million people, New Delhi is the second most populous city in the world and the most populated in India. I moved to this city in 2012 and quickly adapted myself to the people, aura, and charisma of what New Delhi offers to its new inhabitants. But to be honest, I don’t love Delhi at all. I was born and brought up in Kolkata, another metropolitan city of India and the largest in the eastern part of the country is 1646km away from New Delhi. For the first time in my life, I ventured away from my hometown for my post-graduation and the only question that was running at the back of my mind was, where have I come? I just hate Delhi.

There is this highly prevalent English proverb i.e. Like Father Like Son. For me it’s somehow different, the thought process and looking at life, I am more of my mother. She is one woman who is always ready to explore and find love in discovering new avenues to monuments. She has that keen interest in seeing historical monuments that sometimes makes me stare at her with amazed eyes. History, rich architecture and New Delhi goes hand in hand, and hence her love for Delhi was never lost. Like mother like son, my mother sent me to Delhi for higher studies and I just don’t like this place.

#IndiavsDelhi

After the horrific Nirbhaya rape case incident that sent a shockwave across the nation, the rest of India has presumed that people here are too much rowdy and have no mannerism at all. Girls’ safety in Delhi is a big concern and eve teasing is rampant, this is the notion that people have. Well, to be frank, after the rape incident happened, even I was thinking that where have I come? So one day I was stuck at Rajiv Chowk metro station. My debit card was not working at all and I was left cashless and to my sheer surprise, I had no balance in my prepaid SIM card. I had no other option than queuing in front of the ticket counter and ask the people for their cellphone so that I can at least call my banker dad and he can look into the matter. Out of nowhere, a young Punjabi guy just handed me 50rs and told me to stand in the queue. I never asked for money, but his subtle gesture spoke more than words can ever speak. Another thanks I will owe is to our honorable prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi. One sudden night I get to hear about banning of the currency notes. However, I cannot ban my passion for photography. So with a mere 250 bucks in my wallet, I ventured out to explore the lanes and by-lanes of Chandni Chowk. I didn’t realize when I ran out of cash that I had to keep walking and asking people for random directions to the nearest Metro Station. I reached out to a shopkeeper, a mid-age Muslim man, complexion was fairly fair and white beard, and asked him for the nearest metro station and the road to get there. Listening to my turmoil he again handed me a 100rs note and that too upon a lot of rejection requests that I had to accept it from him and the conversation ended with sweet words, “insaan hume banaya gaya hai insaaniyat dikhane ke liye” (we have been created a humans just for the sake of humanity) I can never forget the man and the help he did to me. See, I told you, the people who live in Delhi are very bad, they are rowdy, all sorts of miscreants and bad, terribly bad people live here, but hey, I have never faced such issues here. One thing is for sure, the people here know how to treat people. The people of Delhi never fail to amaze me. Thugs, people who pick pockets reside in every city. Then its bitter injustice for the Indian media to single out Delhi in every situation when an incident of rowdiness or rape is reported.

#RichInHistory

Delhi has been the pivotal point of India since ages. The sultans who tried to conquer India from time to time always had the priority to capture Delhi first, and then focus on the rest of the country. Delhi has seen change of thrones for generations. However, most of the time, Delhi and the surrounding region has stayed under Islamic rulers and their dominance. Five dynasties ruled over Delhi Sultanate sequentially, the first four of which were of Turkic origin: the Mamluk dynasty (1206–90); the Khilji dynasty (1290–1320); the Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1414); the Sayyid dynasty (1414–51); and the Afghan Lodi dynasty (1451–1526). Much of Delhi’s architecture is a mix of every dynasty’s artisans. People from every dynasty contributed to shaping Delhi in a way that a blend of Indo-Persian to Indo-Afghan or Indi-Turkish architecture can be observed in the historical monuments of the city, most of which are in ruins, except the ones which have been recognized under UNESCO World Heritage Site program.

 

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The picture shown above is the view of the great Safdarjung’s Tomb.

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The above picture is of the Qutab Minar along with the tomb of a famous architect of that era.

From the stupendous beauty of Safdarjung’s tomb to the greatest and the tallest tower of that generation i.e. the Qutab Minar, rich heritage can be observed everywhere. The burial place of Humayun, the second Mughal emperor to rule India and undoubtedly Delhi, is today known as Humayun’s Tomb. It is managed by the Archeological Survey of India and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It was built in 1572, by Bega Begum, the first wife of Humayun and the manufacturing cost was stumbling 1.5 million rupees of that time. It’s a site of wonders.

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Humayun’s tomb is rich in its design and architectural wonders.

In the second part of the story, I will continue stating why I don’t love Delhi at all where different sorts of foods have killed my taste buds totally. Feeling excited? Stay tuned for more!

Kolkata, photowalk, Tourism, Travel

The Kolkata Photowalk

The Kolkata Photowalk

There are in numerous places in Kolkata where tourists flock to. Those places no doubt are good spots for photography and leisure travel. Consider the case of Victoria memorial, the big architectural marvel of the city stands out amidst the chaotic surroundings with its extremely large lush green fields and big ponds in its premises. That is perfect spot for the lovebirds and also for the quick snappers. But hailing from the ‘City of Joy’ I have never been fond of such places. It has always been the streets of the city that has always caught my eye. So while I was back home enjoying my funemployment, I decided to hit the narrow streets by the river Hooghly for the photowalk and it surely gave me immense delight and lot of memories.

River Hooghly is the lifeline of the city. There is only one road that runs along the river and if trodden one can find the true beauty of street photography ranging from street side tea vendors to people bathing in the river and idols of gods and goddesses lying haywire along the road. My journey for the solo photowalk began from Baghbazar Ghat. This particular ghat is famous because during the durga puja all the prime idols of the durga idol are immersed in the river from this place. As the road goes I came across Nimtala Ghat which is basically a cremation ground, Ahiritola Ghat and finally I entered Burrabazar area. Burrabazar is the largest wholesale fruit market of Asia. Business in this zone starts from small shops to big retail stores and all serving customers their products in wholesale rate. The next destination along the road was Babughat. When you enter Babughat the scenario surrounding the street drastically changes from lower strata people to the rich government job doers. The change cannot be captured but has to be perceived in naked eye. I wish I could capture the same.

This particular photowalk gives people enough opportunity to explore the street life, subjects to look out for and very good frames to capture. To be frank enough while I was lurking out for good subjects in the street my focus has been only to capture the right frames. There is nothing much to describe that particular street I worked. The street is famous because it runs along the river for a total 8 kilometres. It is frequently used only by the local traders and the business men and also the labour class society. But as a photographer I have found beauty in everything.

Please enjoy the photographs and do comment. Criticisms are always welcome.

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IndiaTravel, Tourism, Travel

Manali – The Snow Draped Town

Have you ever witnessed the time when the world stops around you to a standstill, the people walking around you without any hurry or urgency of the moment, and you yourself feel pretty much useless because there is nothing much to do? Have you ever seen how your coloured photographs automatically turn black and white? Its not any camera glitch but praise Mother Nature for her exuberant beauty that makes the photos so.

#BackpackingManali

If you are ready for all these feelings, then Manali welcomes you in January end or better in February. Manali is a small town in the northern Himachal Pradesh nested in the PirPanjal range of the mighty Himalayas but drives large number of tourist from all across the nation, even foreigners, mainly from Israel and Germany. Manali is the gateway to Ladakh, Leh, Spiti Valley and other hidden treasures of the Himalayas. Hence throughout the year there is a constant rush of tourists and tourism industry is the main occupation of the local population. But in February, where is the rush of tourists? Particularly in this moth snowfall is intense, with snow upto 4ft to 5ft in certain places and the roads going out of Manali into the interior of Himachal or Jammu and Kashmir is pretty much blocked due to heavy snowfall. So Manali and the adjoining Old Manali, these two are the final destination if heading north.The Himachal Govt. does a good job in time to time clearing of the snow covered roads in Manali and its surroundings. Else life would have been come to a complete standstill.

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#TravelSolo #TrueHimalayas

I visited Manali last weekend. It was my quest to experience the thrill of life in heavy snows, which I never experienced before. It seemed that the snow-capped mountains and the spine chilling cold winds have cast a deadly shadow over the town. People were in no hurry of doing things, their main intention seemed keeping themselves warm. So fires were lit at various places across the Mall Road, which is the main market place. Some were busy with shovels picking up large chunks of ice and clearing pathways. When asked they said they have nothing to do, so doing these they keep themselves occupied. The food is stocked inside their homes, due to snowfall there is no cable TV connection, mobile networks are not working most of the time and they threw me back the same question, “tell me, what can we do?” and I was pretty much singing the same tune as theirs. As I tried some hand in shovelling the snow it felt good as it kept me warm for long. Finding the hotel was not that difficult, unlike the peak seasons. Most of the hotels were run at massive discount on their room rates.

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#TrekBegins #Waterfall #Ruads

When asked which the local places to explore are, Jogini Falls seemed the answer in every mouth and Solang Valley. So I started trekking up the Jogini Falls despite warning from the villagers that I might fail to find the real route to the falls due to heavy snow which eventually in massive turn of events happened. It was some 1 km more or so when I lost my route. I had to stare high up to see the Jogini pouring down gushes of water through the “ruads”. “Ruads” are the narrow caves which the shepherds use for night stay when their cattle graze high up in the mountains during the spring. Poor me, could not make out to the ruads and the mighty Jogini. The place around the waterfall is worshipped by the local people. They believe that is the place where Jogini Mata, the local goddess resides and showers her blessings to the shepherds. But the entire thrill of finding the road alone and that too in thick snow was amazing. All I had to do was following the trail of the rapid alongside me. But it was amazing, a bit of a challenge but more of fun. It was complete silence high up in the mountains. All that I could hear was the eagles and some birds chirping. Serenity indeed.

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#SnowDestination #SnowValley

Solang Valley is more of a commercial place. The valley turns to a skiing ground in winter. Its in February when the winter skiing festival is held in Solang grounds and people from various countries flock to this place for winter sport activities. There was paragliding, ski, hot air balloons and lots to give the thrill. However the best thing I discovered was not in Solang valley but 2kms down west of the main parking lot. I am more of a wanderer. I came across a complete frozen mountain rapid. Thick snow covered its surface and it was only me on that spot. I could hear the water flowing swiftly beneath the snow and the big boulders. It was late afternoon and the entire landscape was amazing and changing its colours. The first ray of sunlight struck around 3-50PM and the ray was silvery. I have never seen sunrays, so brilliant. Hence February is the time to experience all these. Its shimmering cold, frost bite on my toe, yet the thrill to wander around could not stop me. I could not make out to the local villages by the frozen river, thanks to the bite which ultimately made my left foot some blacking blue.

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As it is said “No Pain, No Gain”. I got injured, suffered bruises, feet got badly hurt, but the experience I gained from the wilderness was amazing. If you venture out to the unknown, you must know first where you really belong. Then you can start venturing out. It made me come to the conclusion that mountains are my thing, those stone blocks towering high up in the sky, I love to take the path less travelled to those towering peaks. There I belong. The mountains and the thrill they give me rejuvenates me and enriches my life from within. I get my frission from those mountains. It seems sometimes I hear the words they try to speak, yet remains unspoken. Keeping all the philosophies aside, if you want to feel the true nature of the mountains you must visit these places when these are less visited. Manali was another eye opener for me.

Incredible India, Tourism, Travel

Lakshadweep – The Place of Dreams

The Evolution of the Name

People generally refer to Lakshadweep as a hundred thousand islands, hence implying the name as Laksha i.e. One lakh and dweep meaning Island in Hindi. Hence justifying the name for a hundred thousand islands or Lakshadweep. However history doesn’t suggest that. During the spice trade Kerala was at epitome of all the trade purposes. Traders from all around the Arabic nations used to gather at Cochin port of Kerala as it was considered as the hub of all spice trading before Vasco Da Gama made his epic voyage to India. These islands are only 220 miles away from Cochin and falls directly on the spice trade route by sea. So these Arabic people discovered these islands on their way and used it as a halting place from where they used to again start their journey towards the mainland. They named it as Lakshya meaning direction in Urdu and Hindi and Dweep meaning island in the same language. However as per their concern these islands were those which fall in their direction of the trade. During the time when the British ruled India the authority of these islands were given to the East India Company by the then rulers of Kerala. The British people named it as Laccadive. This name implied to these islands for a long years until in later 1960s the Indian government after its complete takeover of these islands named it as Lakshadweep and is the smallest union territory of India. Irony is the present population of India still considers these as a collection of hundred thousand islands while in fact there are 36 islands out of which only 10 are inhabited.

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My journey for Lakshadweep began in 7th January 2015 when I boarded my flight to Kochi from New Delhi. Being a vivid lover of the mountains, the sudden plan of visiting the beaches was one which gave an adrenaline rush since I have always anticipated changes. It was only for a short stint that I managed my leave from my office and decided to get set and go. This perhaps was my quest for redemption, an act of re-energising me and an act of emotional attachment because of I’ll be seeing my parents after a long time. Deep inside I was preparing myself because I might become sea sick, after all I have to stay during the course in the ship only. Cigarettes, yes releases the pressure in nerves, had a pack or two and yes I was ready. Evening 7-30PM I was in Kochi and the next day will be something different. Ship will depart from Ernakulam Wharf in the early morning.

Kalpeni Island :- Embarkation process from the ship started pretty early which I did not expect.  Local fishermen’s’ boats ferried us to the island. Whoa! First impression of the island was pretty bad. I felt like I came to a place of massive colonisation. I saw small huts, broken boats lying along the shore and big boulders guarding the shoreline from the mighty waves. I was a bit awestruck in the beginning until I reached the other side. When I landed on the north side of the island I had to pinch myself to believe that its not a dream but reality. It seemed someone has painted the entire canvas, green tall coconut trees, shallow seas, and clear blue skies. Felt like I have visited the paradise on earth. In the distance there were small fishing boats and I managed to see the fishermen throwing the nets for their catch onto the shallow seas. I felt like there’s one giant blue canvas right in front of me. Blue and the various shades of blue. The Kalpeni Island has exuberant beauty. The roads are cemented and are narrow. The roads carve their way along the shore, the sea on one side and thick coconut cover on the other. This was the road I took while traveling to Zwaid from Koomel beach. Snorkeling is a vital attraction which is available in Zwaid, the southern part of Kalpeni island and on the north lies Koomel beach. Best part is lying down in wooden chairs placed along the koomel shore. Warm and cold winds blow throughout the day giving delight. Mother Nature is so closely observed here, from rich marine life to the breaking of waves along the coconut tree lined white sandy shore. Kalpeni people are rich in their culture and traditions. They have a separate language called Jasiri although these days spoken in major parts of the island group. Jasiri is a mix of Arabic, Malayalam, Hindi and Mahl. I came across a folk dance performance by the local men of the island. The song and their energy filled dance performance was so charismatic that I had to record it for viewing it later which I did and I don’t know how many times. Best drink available is coconut water and various other drinks made from coconut which is nothing but a pure delicacy. The dark waters of Arabian Sea and the jaded blue waters of the surrounding shallow seas are brilliantly spotted all along the Kalpeni island shoreline. Kalpeni is nearest to the Kerala coast or better the Malabar Coast. No mobile networks are available; hence getting lost is the feeling which can be easily derived from the experience.

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Kavaratti Island :- Kavaratti is the commercial capital of Lakshadwep. It is recognized as the capital city of all the 36 islands. The people of this island have a life of their own. They have their cars, buses for transport and even the roads are metalled and are pretty wide. So it can be considered as the largest of all the islands when it comes to area only to be followed by Agatti Island which has the airport of Lakshadweep. I did not have the permit to go to Agatti hence could not make out to that island although I wished to. Kavaratti is no more less than Kalpeni. The shallow seas are so wide that the ship had to anchor some 2km away from the island in the deep seas. Even the shallow seas are high in its tides and waves. It took almost 40minutes for us to be ferried to the island from the ship. The sea and the lagoons seemed bluer here. It seemed that the sky had cast its reflection right onto the sea. As I said it is the commercial capital, business has flourished far and wide in this island, from tanneries to mills and many others. Even they have a separate coconut production unit of their own. Snorkelling, Knee Boat rides, speed boat rides and kayaking is major water sports available. The most thrilling of all is the glass boat ride. The boat has a glass bottom and as it moves across the coral reefs the rich marine life is quite easily spotted. From schools of tuna to pilot fish, sardines, tortoise and many other species that do thrive in these reefs was unknown to me, thanks to that glass boat that made me realize the existence of the vast marine life surrounding Kavaratti. If you are a good swimmer then Kavaratti awaits your arrival.

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Minicoy :- This island was the last on the bucket list. I waited for long time to visit this island. I have read much about it in my school geography classes that the island is extremely rich in marine life and lagoons surround the island. That was some 15 years back. I was perhaps in my 7th or 8th grade that time. Now was my turn to see it in my own eyes as it is said ‘seeing is believing’. Minicoy stunned me completely as my first reaction was where the hell I am. Is this somewhere in India? I was so damn awestruck by its beauty. The first visit to the Minicoy lighthouse established by the British was so thrilling. I had to climb some 230 odd stairs to reach to the top to have a complete 360 degree view of the island and its shores. To my surprise the green foliage and the blue seas variety seemed much widespread here. The shore to my left had black water while the one to the right was a lagoon and plenty of lagoons to that side. Had my turn of doing scuba diving here for the first time. I had myself registered to their 1 hour of lectures on vital instructions and felt extremely enthusiastic to try it for the first time. Amazing it was. As the captain of the ship said that if someone has to try scuba diving Minicoy should be the island to try. He wasn’t bluffing I realised. Many other tourists tried it in the other islands but I felt pity for them as they missed the real beauty. The scuba diving experience was amazing. Prior to the dive with all those masks and a loaded oxygen cylinder, I felt like I am living my life to the fullest. As I stood in the shallow sea and listening to the vital instructions from the trainer it was a gigantic nervous excitement explosion which I could sense. Finally it was the time as I explored the magnificent sea bed with all the eels and other fishes that came close to me and I made some soft touches to their fins, and quickly they moved away. Once in a lifetime opportunity I must say and I entirely stumbled upon it and enjoyed my time to the fullest. Keeping the Scuba diving thing apart, I enjoyed some local made coconut drinks and tea of course. They made a fillet of some rice preparation with stuffed sweetened coconut inside which was a dish I have had never before. All in all Minicoy gave me plenty of memories to be remembered.

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As I entered my cabin in the ship for one last time I felt bad. I was just leaving paradise for the sake of my job, which sucks but pays me good but has no meaning at all. But got a reality check of career and making life. These islanders they also do have a life but of lesser expectations. Hence they are in peace. No violent acts or no squander of things, speaking my heart out literally I found some peace there in Lakshadweep which will remain in my fond memory for a long, long time.

Major Source of Income for the islanders

These islands are well known for the enormous amount of coconut production throughout the year. As it is known that coastal areas of India are all filled with coconut trees. Main production of these islands is only coconut and is the cash crop. The people has the advantage of utilising the large shallow seas which is filled with a rich marine life i.e. crabs and fishes. Fishing is the major source of income of these islanders and exporting coconut items and various other coconut by-products like oil, ropes, powdered coconut, etc. Alongside these two they have the privilege to work in government offices setup in the island, however on my visit found only a public works department office, a police station and only a telecom customer service office. Since Lakshwadeep falls under the Govt. Of Kerala so the islanders have the opportunity to work for the government in the mainland. However in the last decade various renowned universities of Delhi, Mumbai and Kochi (old Cochin) has established a particular quota for these islanders where they go for educational purposes so that they can establish themselves well in near future. Survey suggests that some have started basic business of their own in the island only.

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India Travel, Kolkata, Tourism, Travel

5 Things that People from Kolkata can only Understand

Kolkata, old name Calcutta has a definitive charm on its own. One of the metropolitan cities of India and the largest city in eastern India was the old capital of India during the British Raaj. Home to the Bengali speaking people of the nation Kolkata has its own story to tell. Birthplace of all the honorary laureates of the country like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray, etc. this city has its old glory, nostalgia and kindness which unless visited cannot be realized.

Image courtsey : sporcle.com
   Kolkata city aerial view Image courtesy : sporcle.com
The second hooghly bridge has its own glamour.  Image courtsey  : espncricinfo
The second hooghly bridge has its own glamour.
Image courtesy : espncricinfo
  • The Aura of College Street

College Street is the place where you find books and plenty of books. Books both modern and grand old can be found here. Numerous stalls line down the road. But its not only a place for books. Love, romance, coffee and all intellectual and friendly gossips hone College Street. Thanks to epic old Coffee House. The pond of College Square has numerous stories to tell.

Image courtsey : flickr.com
Coffee House ground floor. It always remains crowded and filled with spirits of joy. Image courtesy : flickr.com
Image courtsey : ghumakkar.com
Makeshift book stores along the pavement. Although makeshift the collection of these stores are ready to astound you. Image courtesy : ghumakkar.com
  • Dusk and Prinsep Ghat

Princep Ghat has always been the place of lovebirds and the painters and photographers. An evening stroll down the road by the River Hooghly replenishes the mind with much positivity. Added benefit to visiting the place is the boatmen who ferries the customers at a nominal cost across the Hooghly River. Watching the sunset from the lazy boat on the river is one thing the Kolkata people cannot ignore. This place mostly flocked by the youths with all guitars and cameras adds a definitive charm.

The Hooghly Bridge
The Hooghly Bridge
  • Victoria Memorial Garden

This is one of the prominent landmarks of the city. The Victoria Memorial hall, built on memorandum of the death of Queen Victoria is a museum and a public visiting spot. The entire boundary complex comprises of five lakes. Kolkata people just cannot forget the time they spent sitting by the lakes and chit chatting old school gossips. This place also marks the prominent destination for the newly formed couples. This has always been their chosen place. Its really hard to erase the memory one acquires sitting by one of those lakes of Victoria Memorial Hall.

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  • Winter and Visit to the Zoo

Kolkata people are very much fond of visiting the zoo which by far is the oldest in the country. On a wintry Sunday morning families visit the zoo. This zoo has made many childhood memories worth memorizing. Families spending quality time on the big lawns of the zoo, who can forget that. Not only Kolkata but people from the outskirts make a proper plan to visit the zoo. Such is its power to attract visitors. Simply a place that children of the 90s cannot forget.

  • Trams

There has been countless debates on whether these old trams plying the roads should be removed. But all the time they have won over the debate. Trams adds a nostalgic British era feel to the city. A tram ride along the big Maidan on any day of the 365 is remarkable. Trams, subjected to countless documentaries and nostalgia still runs through the heart of the city making the ride joyous and worthwhile.

Tram in front of Fort William
Tram in front of Fort William
Trams in College Square
Trams in College Square

** Being myself a photographer from Kolkata I have used images which I found in my collection. Kindly refer to image courtesy for the images I have used from the web.