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.
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.
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.
** 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.
Photography was a hobby that I acquired from my dad, as I stated in one of my previous blogs. It always gave me that sense to express myself in a better way. Freedom of speech is what I have achieved by clicking photos of the people and places. Thus began my journey of this blog where I solely focus on people, places, and photographs. Marketing people know the 3Cs and 4Ps of marketing. Here I am introducing the 3Ps of wanderlust, that has vibrantly worked in my case. Unless there is color in your life, life is pretty much meaningless because none prefers to live in mere binary numbers.
So while discovering places and capturing people, I have realized that I have grown a sense of becoming a street photographer, in a way capturing daily objects and things that encounter on the streets. Be it while traveling to a cafe or going to hang out with friends, I just keep on capturing items and you can see that from my Instagram feed. Being the street photographer I face numerous hurdles which I believe others can quickly relate to. But, it is worth mentioning that every hurdle comes with a vital lesson.
Is always hard to get the balanced frame because of constant people movements in crowded streets like those of India. Hence it’s a divine pleasure when despite constant people movements the perfect frame to mind’s satisfaction gets clicked.
Including human elements in some particular photographs always adds value to it. Despite looking for something else to shoot, the addition of certain human elements gives the entire frame a different appeal altogether. I have faced this multiple times but never regretted after the shot. In the photograph shown below, these two men appeared all of a sudden into the frame and give it a good shot of light and shadows. All I wanted to shoot was those incoming cars and the lamps.
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Patience is the key to everything; everything comes at a price. In order to shoot certain frames, you need to wait for the frame that you want to capture. The wait is worth the time you spend for that. For eg. I had to wait for almost more than 15 minutes in order to capture a frame where at least I tried to find someone looking at my camera. Finally managed to find one looking right at me and click-click-boom.
Be prepared for unwanted surprises. These come random and very frequently and one needs to develop that eye in order to capture the same. Here are some shots where unexpected things happened giving me the delight.
In the pic shown below, I wanted to capture the empty door when suddenly this man came and stared right at me.
Wanted to shoot the empty lane with the car parked and the bike, but this man!
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The foremost thing is to develop the eye for everything. This is very crucial and very important. One doesn’t need a high-end camera to keep on capturing shots. The high-end camera is of no use if you don’t know where to use it rather than how to; that can be learned. People these days are coming up with stunning shots using just the cellphone camera and that is what one needs to start capturing random things happening around us, every single time. The eye is everything and keep shooting till the mind is satisfied. I remember days when from morning till dusk I was out in the streets. That gave me immense pleasure to come back home and check the entire set of photos that I have clicked. Imperfection gives way to what we define as perfect.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I belong to a typical Indian middle-class family. My dad was a banker, who retired with due respect as a deputy manager from State Bank of India, back in 2015. As per an Indian household standard, while I was a kid, there would have been none to look after me, hence my mother stayed as a housewife. That’s my family. A happy daily 10 to 5 working dad and my mom who has the passion for cooking, reading books and everything related to our culture. I hail from the east Indian metropolitan city, Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, the capital of British India prior to Delhi and yes, I belong to the Bengali speaking community of India.
Growing up in Kolkata, although I prefer Calcutta, was fun
My forefathers were basically Hindu refugees, who fled to India following the Hindu-Muslim riot that took place during the partition of Bengal in 1947 forming the new country, Bangladesh, and the Indian state West Bengal. My dad being the eldest son of the family has a lot of responsibilities on his young shoulder. So he had to leave his passion for photography and ended up being the banker, a banker for everybody he knew and everyone knew him as that honest banker. My mom, on the other hand, is very sensible and loves to pen down a lot of things, from food recipes to poems and stories. She loves to read and write as well. As a family, we were avid travelers. In every 2 years or something twice n a year there were big family vacations that as a child I enjoyed a lot. The journals are still there in my mom’s diary. The poor destiny that its share on me, turning me into a photographer and a blogger. Writing gives me that free power to express myself in a way which I cannot achieve with said words. Writing is an expression for me.
It all started pretty well for me. Childhood was smooth, adolescence was arrogance and slowly turned myself into a benevolent natured person in my mid-20s. Well, I am 27 now. But the change happened, it just happened when my dad gifted me the first digital point and shoot camera. It was a Sony Cybershot DSC-S700. It was a fun time. I gradually started exploring the photographer side of mine. It took roughly 3 to 4 months to master the camera. By the time I was in my graduation days, well my friends already started calling me and 2 to 3 other people as ‘photographers’. The sad part is till the timeI completed my post-graduation, among the friends I had or knew, I remained the only one who continued with the hobby of clicking photographs. The writing came later on, eventually adapted both the hobbies and marching on like a one-man army. That’s how the journey started, from family outings to ending up in solo trips, the travel bug kept biting.
It all started like this
Travelling has always been an addiction for me. It’s not always about the long travel plans or outdoor locations, even in-city, I prefer traveling and clicking pictures. Perhaps, this is what makes me complete. I fell in love for the first time when I was 20, had roses in one hand and my CyberShot on the other but it turned out to be a heartbreak affair. After a series of failed relationships and neat scotch with three ice cubes, it’s the love for my camera and writing that keeps me going. In fact, to be crisp and precise, it surrounds me with that sense of freedom which is mine and no one else has any authority over it. There have been no places which fail to amuse me. I try to find out the beauty even in the simplest occasions. That’s me. Most of the times I look at places, people, monuments and simple buildings with astounding eyes and capture them all in my cell phone camera or if I am carrying my digicam, I tend to use the same. Instagram or Pinterest is not just a social media platform for me, it’s where I speak in unsaid words. It’s where I express my views and it’s where I exist.
The best part about being raised in a modern high-spirited Bengali family is getting exposed to liberal thinking and developing the sense of recognizing my other self. I am highly thankful to my parents for not blocking any of my views or preventing me from doing something. No, they never did and instead kept on inspiring me in my travel blogging. Hope it sails smooth and I keep on discovering more places and bring to you the updated travel stories. Adios amigos! Cheers to life!
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.
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?
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?
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The picture shown above is the view of the great Safdarjung’s Tomb.
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.
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!
Hills and mountains have the definitive charm of their own. The hop ill station flocked by many tourists yet many fail to discover the true hidden secrets of the place. For that you don’t have to travel but there must be an urge to explore the place and which I did effectively on my visit to Matheran. It is a hill station located 80kms away from Mumbai and is always crowded. Yet the place holds many hidden places which is unknown to the people because you need to walk long distances for that.
Matheran is accessible both by railways and roads. From Mumbai it is merely a 3 hour drive through Panvel highway. Daily trains to Neral (the nearest station) are available from CST on the CST Karjat rail route and also trains to Pune stop at this station. Cabs ply from the station premises to the hill station gate and charges Rs.70/- per person. The route cutting down the Western Ghats and crossing the narrow gauge line is fantabulous and since I visited during monsoons it was lush greenery all around. It felt that the mountains have evolved into a new form and the mountains resembled those green one which we find in fairy tale books.
Its peak monsoon season in the western part of India and the sky is overcast and sometimes it was drizzling. One thing worth noting down is that the government doesn’t allow any vehicle to reach atop the hill. So the cabs left us some 5kms away from the station where a big gate welcomed us saying WELCOME TO MATHERAN. It a 2hour walk from that place till you reach the top of the hill where you will find plenty of hotels for your accommodation. The trail is easily spotted with numerous people following the same route. The best one is to reach the nearest station on the narrow gauge line through the gravelled path and then follow the railway line. It led us to our final destination. But what we discovered was a mere spectacle that only monsoon season can provide.Such marvels and wonderful sightseeing only the Western Ghats can provide and it happens only during the monsoon season. Imagine following the uphill trail while the clouds cover your entire view and no wander you get to see only a few meters ahead of you and every step to be taken very carefully. No matter it was an adventure but with a lot of precautions and on top of that incessant rainfall and water gushing from here and there obstructing swift movement trekking to uphill. The eroding red mountain soil adds more to the difficulty but the continuous movement of people uphill adds more to the excitement and thrill. Finally it was managed in a 3 hour span of time. Matheran has its own environment and weather up the mountain where sunshine and rainfall goes hand in hand during the monsoons. If you’re lucky you can spot rainbows arching over the hilltops and yes of course the flat top mountains. If clouds have mercy on you then countless waterfalls will make your stay enjoyable. Prefer to stay in the cottages rather than the hotels on the mall road. The cottages are located further inland and covered by the jungle of the place. So this adds more to the beauty of the stay. No doubt the place is rather safe apart from the drunken behaviour of some of the tourists but nothing that much harmful enough. Its safe for women but since during monsoon the place is too misty its advisable to enjoy inside the rooms rather than lurking out in the streets post 9 PM.
The places of interest in the place are plenty and worth exploring every place namely Charlotte Lake, One Tree Hill, Beverly Point, etc. But you must have that explorer spirit to truly enjoy Matheran. Just by visiting the places you’d google perhaps, Matheran isn’t you destination then. Walk, get wet in the rains, let your body get tired, let the thorns of the jungles prick you and horses come running in your way, that’s Matheran for me. Worth a visit specially during the monsoon season.
Daman, located on the west coast of India is an Union Territory. The main source of income for the locals of the area is tourism, followed by the emerging coconut industry and fishing. Tourists from all over the country go to Daman mainly to lay off for some weeks. It is a good place for resting as there is nothing much to explore except some old colonization Portuguese forts and some churches. The beaches however is one vital attraction but that too on the ground of leisure, where you lay under the umbrellas placed alongside the beach and beer and other drinks and fried fish will be served to you.
I started my trip for Daman at 630AM from Mumbai and by 10AM we were in Daman. The highway drive through the hills and lush greenery was truly amazing and one must take that drive in case someone is fond of long drives. Its the Surat Mumbai Express Highway and not a single complain about the experience. Pretty smooth and sexy driving experience I had. As soon as you enter the state of Gujarat the first town that comes along the highway is Vapi. The immediate left from the main controlling circle of the town leads to Daman.
The city is terribly small with few thousands people living and mostly filled with tourists. Daman is pretty much disappointing in the early hours of morning. I already said that I reached at 10AM when the low tides were at its peak and the water in the seas retreated almost two kilometers back. I was travelling with my parents and even they were disappointed.
The water started coming close to the shoreline by 2PM and the crowd by the beach withstood heavy footfall. All kinds of fish delicacy shops were setup and liquor was served alongside the beach. Even I could not resist myself and had a beer or two with my dad and mom. All kinds of fish items are served there from deep fried fishes to fish fillets dipped in sauce to make it more spicy.
However to experience you must visit this place. One must visit Ciudad De Daman for the ultimate lunch all kinds of food experience because the restaurant is open air and located by the sea. One advice is to stay away from Devka Beach during the high tides as the underlying ground is really rocky and hazardous to try to swim in those waters. Jampore Beach is pretty much smooth and cool and is the prime tourist attraction.