Part#4–Unleashing Northeast India–Land Of Lama, Rains, Rhinos and Momos by Abhimanyu

Abode of clouds - Meghalaya!

Please excuse me for writing the final part of this journey after a gap of more than a month. Was caught up in adjusting with the “new normal” way of life and remote working.

There were struggles to get the groceries and seamless internet connectivity initially but now it’s all sorted. Meanwhile, I drove down to Raipur from Pune. 1000 kms in 20 hours with a co-driver. It was good fun. 

Reading part#4 directly might not be good idea so please click on the below links to read prequels

After spending 2 days in Assam, relishing local delicacies and meeting Rhinos it was time to hit the road again. Simanta was at hotel lobby with his innova, all neat and clean.

This time for a change, we started late. After lunch around 1:00 pm.

Day#7 –

  • Kaziranga national park to Cherrapunji
  • Travel time – 8.5 hours 
  • Road Condition – Smooth and well consructed
  • Stay – Saimika Resort, Cherrapunji

Lunch served to us @Bonhabi was full of taste and spices. Exactly the way we wanted.

The drive was pretty smooth, and we enjoyed the journey through the small villages, finally reaching the mountains from the plains. We stopped at Jiva Pure Veg to refill our tummies and this place is one of a kind. Very hygienic and full of taste. We ordered momos, noodles and some biryani. Reached at Saimika, resort by 10 pm. It seemed to be a deserted place wherein there was a security guard who led us to our twin-cottages (joined from inside).

Entering the cottages, our excitement reached next level. We had a fireplace inside the cottage. I have stayed in many resorts across India, but this was the first time I had this pretty thing inside the room. We asked the security to lit it up for us. Glasses clanged again with malt on the rocks. It was good fun and very relaxing. Woke up fresh next morning and opened the door of our cottage to be mesmerized by the beauty of this resort which seemed deserted yesterday. Resort is built on a cliff in acres of land, all construction is done using rocks which gives an ancient Roman feel to this place. Looked inspired by Harry Porter movie to a fair extend.

We had some quick sandwiches at the restaurant and left the resort to reach the entry-point of trek to famous “living Root Bridges.”

Day#8

  • living Root Bridges
  • Travel time – Full day trek 
  • Trek level – Moderate to difficult
  • Stay – Saimika Resort, Cherrapunji

At the entry point of the trek, you will meet local boys renting Bamboos and claiming to be guides.

My suggestion – Take Bamboos and not the guide. Because our guide named, Risk DID NOT guide us at all. He just kept walking ahead of us creating un-necessary pressure on us to trek down faster. Guide could be useful for getting some pictures clicked for sure.        

Single root bridge

Started off the hike and reached the,” single decker root bridge” after 1500 steps down hill.

It was tiring but we had some juice left in us so after some rest we moved ahead to the prime attraction of today’s hike – the double decker living root bridge. Another 2000 steps down hill, crossing a river, a few villages, lots of sweating and knee breaking efforts we reached the architectural brilliance, man-made, double decker living root bridge.  

There is a stream flowing underneath it and thousands of fishes are waiting to welcome you from a small pond of fresh, crystal clear water.

Fishes waiting to give you a natural pedicure

We spend time relaxing by the pond side and eating the packed food that we carried from Saimika. Pranthas that were packed had lost the taste completely and I suggest to better order Maggie from small shops around the root bridge.

Some wiki gyan for youA living root bridge is a type of simple suspension bridge formed of living plant roots by tree shaping. They are common in the southern part of the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya. They are handmade from the aerial roots of rubber fig trees (Ficus elastica[1][2]) by the Khasi and Jaintia[3] peoples of the mountainous terrain along the southern part of the Shillong Plateau. Most of the bridges grow on steep slopes of subtropical moist broadleaf forest between 50m and 1150m above sea level.[4] As long as the tree from which it is formed remains healthy, the roots in the bridge can naturally grow thick and strengthen. New roots can grow throughout the tree’s life and must be pruned or manipulated to strengthen the bridge. Without active care, many bridges have decayed or grown wild, becoming unusable. *

*Source – Wikipedia

We had to trek upstairs again. Although none of us wanted to but we did as we had to.

Knees, thighs and back hurted bad but we kept walking and motivating each other. 

I will write another post on does and don’t while you take this tiring trek of Living Root Bridges. Finally reached the car parking after 7~8 hours to meet ever smiling Simanta.

Had maggie and tea and ditched all plans to see some waterfalls to reach Saimika resort so that we can enjoy this beautiful stay a little more. 

Evening was set with a lovely bon fire outside our cottages where we enjoyed endless chats under the sky full of stars, zillions of them twinkling all night long.

Next morning was a lazy one, got up late and enjoyed our pre-ordered breakfast at the gothic Sai-mika. After quick check-out Simanta took us for some sightseeing around Cherrapunji and Dawki river. The water has no colour and odour is true in the transparent river which flows from India to Bangladesh and merges in Bay of Bengal via Sundarbans. Boating is a must here and if you are enthusiastic like us the do take a dip in the freeazing crystal clear water. Left Cherrapunji by 4 pm for our next destination which was just a night halt for us.

Day#9

  • Cherrapunji to Umsning, Meghalaya
  • Travel time – 4 hours
  • Road condition – Very good and scenic
  • Stay – The Sanctuary Song Resort, Umsning, Meghalaya

All is well when it ends well. Reaching this serene resort, we thought to ourselves, what a showstopper trip end planned by the curator. Nested in nature’s lap within a forest, small stream flowing besides the resort and NO MOBILE NETWORK available. What else does a metro lad need!!

Final Night Celebration

Some local strawberry wine was bought from the reception, bon fire was lit and the night went on and on till 1 am. Crashed in our cosy beds and woke up with chirps of birds, Trisha was the 1st one to wake up and got outside to greet the birds singing in a foggy cold morning.

Day#10 was finally here when we had to board our flight back to Mumbai from Guwahati airport, which is around 3.5 hours smooth drive from the heavenly stay on earth called The Sanctuary Song Resort. I leave you with some pictures here as we end this epic journey of a lifetime with a promise to come back again soon.

Reach out to us for any queries about this trip and for planning and booking yours.

#travel-click-eat-repeat

Send your love to us in comments section and by sharing this blog as much as possible.

Meet the star – Simanta – The ever smiling Mawa Man

See you soon again!

Cheers!

Abhimanyu @yatripandit

Part#2 – Unleashing Northeast India – Land of Lamas, Rains, Rhinos and Momos!! By Abhimanyu

Part#2 – Tip toeing – Tawang and reaching Dirang!

We slept over with the Soldier’s stories of peace and altitude and how they live in extreme climate conditions at various posts across length and width of this beautiful Country called India.

@Tawang, the night temperature dipped to sub-zero and 3 layers of cloths, 2 blankets and a heater could brave us through that night.

Hold on, if you have landed to this page directly, please click Part#1 to read the prequel. Do come back here.

Day#3 –

  • Bumla Pass and Madhuri lake
  • Travel time – 8 hours tour
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Hotel Mon-Paradise

Woke up fresh and got ready at 8 am after eating some ready to eat poha and upma prepared by Akshata (Chotu). Reached downstairs to find our Chauffer for the day Mr. Tashi.

No, don’t think that Simanta got bored of our poha-jalebi talks and decided to part ways. In Tawang you are required to book a local taxi to visit Bumla Pass and Madhuri lake. Cost is approx. 5000/- all-inclusive and tour duration is about 7~8 hours. I think this arrangement is made to provide earning opportunities to the locals. That’s Good specially for Simanta as he got a rest day to spend with his favourite mawa and probably talk to his family over phone.

Tashi drove a Tata Sumo and could speak Hindi fluently. He had a footballer’s physique, spikes hairstyle and donned Ray-Ban aviators. He played some good music from the 90’s era which we really enjoyed.

Before moving ahead with trip, an important information is that all tourists (including Indians) need an Inner Land Permit(ILP) to enter Arunachal Pradesh border. The fess is about 250/- per person and it can be applied online. Our tour agent got this arranged for us before the commencement of trip.

Tawang to Bumla pass is about 35 Kms and takes about 1.5 hours to reach. The path is so beautiful that you would never want it to end. We visited in February and it was the perfect time as the mountains was covered with magical white fresh snow.

Tashi had to tie a metal chain on the tyres of Sumo to escape skidding on the snow.

Reaching Bumla Pass we were thrilled to the core, only Dev had seen such heavy snow before this day during his visit to Swiss Alps. It was difficult to even walk as the snow was soft, fresh and about 3~4 ft deep or even more.

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All tourists were taken to a Army shed and served free hot tea and water for FREE. You are expected to wash your glasses and keep them clean for the next lot of tourist. Before we move further in the day, let me brief you about Bumlapass, histroy and its geographic importance.

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Bumla Pass, situated at an altitude of over 15,200 ft is snowbound for almost the entire year due to its steep elevation and presents a beautiful view of the Tibetan plateau. The road to the pass takes visitors through many sleepy hamlets and scenic lakes, making the drive memorable. Elegantly maintained by the Indian Army, Bumla Pass is a must for those who want to see how Indian soldiers protect the borders in the harshest of climes. The road to Bum La is also a historical route, the People’s Liberation Army of China invaded India during the 1962 Sino-Indian War. Here in Bum La Pass one of the fiercest battles took place in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. It is the pass from where Dalai Lama entered India escaping from Tibet.

After some tea and talks, one of the army officers took all tourists for a walk towards the border, and while all of us were breathing heavily the siren hooted and we were ordered to march back towards the army shed. It was scary as we thought there is some activity from China’s side but after another free tea and talks later, the officer told us that it was a routine round from the China side and there was nothing to worry about. Let’s go again, he said.

Officer explained us about the meetings that take place every quarter between the two army’s, talks of peace and co-existence, exchange of culture and some gifts from each side. Chinese are tough nuts, he said and guided us back to the Shed. Some pictures, snow fights, another round of tea and bowing down to our soldiers for their courage and bravery later we were all set to visit Madhuri Lake(Sangestar Tso) with our Tashi.

Indian actress namely Madhuri, danced besides Sangestar Tso in koyla movie and since then locals fondly call it as Madhuri lake. Now that’s real swag!

While waiting at Bumla pass, Tashi removed the metal chains thinking they aren’t needed any more. He was wrong, as our cab got stuck in snow as on the way to Madhuri lake.

All of us got down and tried to help but little did we know that our soldier would arrive all of a sudden in a truck and get us moving in minutes. Salute them, smiling and feeling useless at the same time we got inside the cab. Trisha(my wife) started to feel heavy head. Tashi told us it normal to experience this for people from the plains like us. Altitude and extreme sun rays to be blamed.  

Right on the turn towards lake, an army officer told us that the road is blocked due to heavy snow. We could not see the lake where Madhuri Dixit danced in 1997. I was 9 years back then and other three even younger. No worries guys, this kinda stuff keeps on happening on roadtrips and hill terrains told our very own Akshata Dixit. 😛

A few minutes later curvy roads, an army officer in uniform asked us for lift and we happily stopped to invite him inside. I think all soldiers have a lot of stories and they are great story tellers as well. He narrated a few to us and then Soldier and Tashi started to talk about current Prime Minister – Shri Narendra Modi. Tashi told us that, he likes Modi very much and trust that only Modi can uplift Arunachal Pradesh. There was no college in Tawang and everyone either dropped out after high-school or had to enrol in other states for studies, but now Tawang has a basic college, told Tashi.

The soldier got us some hot water to drink, which is the best way to beat the altitude sickness. Trisha felt a little better and after some time tashi dropped us to Hotel.

After lunch Dev and Akshata went on to see Tawang War Memorial with Simanta. Me and Trisha decided to rest for a while. Some chai, talks and lying around was what we needed.

After an early dinner in the ground floor restaurant and thanking Raju- the chef for the lovely food we dozed off again. Yes, like how the pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud.

Day#4 –

  • Tawang local and drive to Dirang
  • Travel time – 9+ Hours
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Gonpalok Homestay

Next morning, it was time for us to bid adieus to Tawang but not so quick. Simanta had some plans for sight seeing and we also have “never say never” attitude. 1st place was Tawang Monastery. Monasteries are usually serene this was more that just serene. It was surreal. We were welcomed by harmless monkeys and after spending some time in the Monastery, waved goodbyes from young kids wearing Buddhist robes and having books in hands.

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Next up was a Giant Buddha Statue, located at an elevated place. We found a small and pretty café behind the statue to spend some good time and have tea and Maggie.

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Last up was the Tawang local market, almost all shops sell similar stuff which are woollens, souvenirs, incense sticks, cups/ mugs and footwears. We also got some to get back home with us. I love my dragon printed cup and still have my tea in it while writing this for you.

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Our time in Tawang was up and Simanta was ready with his mawa filled mouth and engine thumping. Next destination was Dirang.

Dirang was not in the original plan but last night we decided to alter the plan to ditch Shillong and include Kaziranga National Park. The decision was taken as the travel time to Shillong was too much for a day and we had to celebrate Dev and Chotu’s Anniversary. So, reaching to the next place was very important.

While driving back down-hill, we all admired the innocence and embracing nature of people of the beautiful state called, Arunachal Pradesh.

We stopped at Jang for a sightseeing, you will have to stair down about 200 steps to reach a river valley. Source Wikipedia : Nuranang Falls (also known as Bong Bong Falls), some 100 metres high, is located in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, India. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in this part of the country, yet is unknown to many travelers. It lies some 2 kilometres away from the town of Jang on the road connecting Tawang and Bomdila, so it is also known as the Jang Falls. There is a small hydel plant located near the base that generates electricity for local use. The Nuranang river originates from the Northern slopes of the Sela Pass. Just below the waterfall it falls into the Tawang river.

We were hungry and Simanta stopped at Jaswant garh war memorial again. Remember in the 1st part I told you about the free tea and hot water. This is the same place that serves them. We got some idlis, dosas, muffins and tea. The taste, view and soldier’s passion deserve respect and admiration.

About 4 hours drive and crossing Sela pass again we finally reached Dirang. Do not miss to buy fresh fruits from the shops on the highway side. Dirang is known to produce variety of fruits.

We faced some difficulty in reaching the home stay but when we entered Gonpalok Homestay. We thought, “stay ho toh aisa.” No words can describe the taste of hot pakodas that were freshly cooked for us by the caretaker lady along with hot tea. Later in the evening we celebrated the much awaited anniversary at hotel Norphel Retreat. It was very well planned and organised by our freelancer travel agent. I leave you with some pictures to ponder on and be jealous of us that we did this the trip only a month before the country wide lock down was imposed to tackle Covid-19 spread.

 

Pet-full aur dil housefull, reaching back we slept like pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud. Sure of waking up to sunrise, cool breeze and blue sky – What else does a metro lad need!!

Hope you liked our journey till now! Write some encouraging words in the comments section and share the link with your friends, also ask them to share and comment…

Part#3 coming soon… where we move towards plains from the mountains and see the mighty Brahmaputra river, tea gardens and 1 horned rhino.

Much Love 🙂

Abhimanyu@Yatripandit

Part#1 Unleashing Northeast India – Land of Lamas, Rains, Rhinos and Momos!! By Abhimanyu

Part#1 – Reaching Tawang from Assam via Bomdila !

It was the occasion of our 2nd anniversary when four Sharmas’ planned to explore North-east, India.

We had a fantastic company of Dev and Akshata who got married a day earlier than me and Trisha in the same month of Feb and year of 2018.

Me and Dev shared room during my 1st job in Mumbai and we jelled up pretty well for obvious reasons like being Sharmas’ from MP/CG and loving beer. Since we got married almost on the same day, we could not attend each other’s weddings, and this was the chance to cut it by celebrating the anniversaries together.

Tickets were booked in August’19 and we then finalized our itenary during December’19.

We read a few posts and then finally decided to book ourselves with a Freelance travel consultant from Assam.

7th Feb 2020, finally the day had come when me and Trisha embarked the road in our new Honda Amaze from Pune to Mumbai. Akshata arrange for a safe car parking over a week’s time in Mumbai. It was an early morning flight from Mumbai to Assam, we had our masks on as there was a buzz of Covid19 around the world already. Landed in Assam to find our driver, Simanta and pre-booked Innova Crysta.

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Mumbai Airport

None of us had slept last night but there was no sense of deprivation. It was the time to make memories, none of us had been to this side of Incredible India.

I decided to narrate this trip in multiple stories in sequence as it was a beautiful long ROAD trip.

Day#1 – Trip start, 0 Kms

  • Guwahati Airport to Bomdila
  • Travel time – 9+ Hours
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Norgay Guest House Homestay

Journey starts from plains and takes you to the mountains. Located on the Foothills of Himalayas, Bomdila could be considered as an entry point of Arunachal Pradesh. Simanta played some asamese music while driving and halted at a random café so that we can have some Momos, maggie and tea. After 1st stop Hindi music took over Assamese and we were friends with Simanta. He was a character, loved his dose of Indian tobacco(jarda or mawa) while driving and always smiling. Never said no to our demands and was a true host in all senses.

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Lipsmacking Taste

We also got a chance to Enter Bhutan Border, smart Simanta got his diesel tank full as it is cheaper in Bhutan than in India.

As we were driving up-hill the air was getting colder and heavier. We drove alongside a river stream (Kameng river), Simanta told us that it comes all the way from China to meet the mighty Bhramaputra before merging in Bay of Bengal. We will meet Kameng river multiple times during our journey through Arunachal. Just before reaching our homestay in Bomdila we purchased some liquor as it will be helpful in keeping ourselves warm during the course of journey and its cheaper than Goa in Arunachal. 🙂

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Bhutan Border

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River Kameng

Homestay was clean and economical, we had to pay extra Rs. 300/- for a room heater. That’s Ok we were happy and rich (as it was just the first day).

For dinner we walked down the stairs and found a restaurant (name forgotten), but please find it right opposite Dragon restaurant. The momos and noodles which they served were the best that we had during the trip. Please let me know the name of this restaurant in comment section. I can eat those momos all my life and die happily.

Pet-full aur dil housefull, reaching back we slept like pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud. Woke up to sunrise, cool breeze and blue sky – What else does a metro lad need!!

We were sporting jackets and woolens now. Simanta was ready to drive us to Tawang, the dreamland that I wanted to visit since the time I saw it in TV a decade ago.

Day#2

  • Bomdila To Tawang
  • 200 Kms (approx.)
  • Travel time – 8+ Hours
  • Road Condition – Hilly and average
  • Stay – Hotel Mon Paradise

Visited the mesmerising and peaceful Bomdila monastery, saw the little monks chanting and praying in sync. The whole atmosphere was so serene, that trying to narrate it here would be loud and might kill the serenity of the place. Check out our youtube video link below.

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Nam yo ho !! – Buddham Sharnam Gachhami 🙂

After, seeing the monastery we commenced our journey to the land of Lama. The car was cruising slowing with 2 constants, Simanta’s Mawa and Kameng river running alongside.

The drive from Bomdila to Tawang will always be extremely close to my heart because I was about to experience my 1st snow sighting.

Sela pass – You beauty!! I had heard that there is silent a kid within every adult, I was unaware of mine till I saw the 1st snow of my life. I could not stop myself and ran down the stairs, which led to a frozen lake called Sela lake.

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Stairway to Heaven

The whole area was covered with snow we were playing, while clicking some pictures on our phones and many many more in our hearts. While we were down near a frozen lake, those stairs which we walked down seemed like a stairway to heaven. God was generous and suddenly it started to snow, we had such awesome experience before we had to run back to the car as it was a hailstorm. My 1st snow was a helluva experience. Remember the liquor that we bought last night; finally we could do justice to it using fresh snow from the sky..

I even ate some snow. 🙂

Hailstorm turned violent & we had to leave or rather escape from Sela to reach our next pit stop aka Jaswant Garh war memorial. It’s about 22 Kms from Sela and 21 Kms before Tawang.

You must see this video to live Sela Pass a lil more

A bit insight about the memorial – Jaswant Garh is a famous tourist attraction in Arunachal Pradesh and it is widely visited all year round. It is dedicated to the warrior, Jaswant Singh Rawat who was killed during the Indo-China War in 1962. He was an Indian rifleman of 4 Garhwal Rifles, Uttarakhand and for his bravery; Jaswant Rawat was honoured by a memorial at the post where he fought the Chinese army. This magnificent memorial is well kept at an altitude of about 10,000 feet. A small canteen is run by army personnel offering free tea / coffee and hot water to all visitors to keep them warm in cold weather. It is unbelievable in today’s world of worshiping money as God, where almost everyone is running behind money and becoming rich leaving behind empathy towards fellow humans. We relished dosa and idli in Arunachal at such height, it still have the taste in my head while I write about it. My wife, Trisha loved the patty and muffins.

Last but not the least; there is a small shop from where you can buy jackets, socks, gloves, caps, etc to withstand the negative temperatures of Tawang.

The memorial is surrounded by beautiful valley perfect to gaze on while sipping your unlimited free tea.

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Panorama from Jaswant Garh

Hopped back in the innova with happier Simanta, he already had starting chewing mawa.

We reached Tawang in another 1½ hours, the sun sets early and it was almost dark by 5pm when we reached. While, Dev was co-ordinating with the pre-booked homestay owner we had some difficulties in locating the stay. Finally, have found the homestay just to realise that staying there was not a good idea. It was located far away from town in a dark and abandoned area. Girls felt some safety concerns, and we had to honour this being responsible companions. Simanta’s “never say never” attitude and always smiling face helped us find a hotel in the market area. Name of the hotel is Mon Paradise. It was freezing cold, we quickly changed and reached the lobby area with our packed food and theplas. The hotel guys were happy to heat those for us and serve it with dal, egg bhurji and rice which we ordered from them. Sharing our food with a soldier from Indian Army with a lot of border stories was the best thing that we could have thought of in this trip.

Pet-full aur dil housefull, reaching back we slept like pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud. Woke up to sunrise, cool breeze and blue sky – What else does a metro lad need!!

Hope you liked our journey till now! Write some encouraging words in the comments section and share the link with your friends, also ask them to share and comment…

Read the part#2 of the story to see Tawang and Dirang from our eyes.

Much Love 🙂

Abhimanyu@Yatripandit

Guest Post || A short trip to Kailasagiri by Lakshmi

Where there is a hill, there is a temple! Very much true about the hills in India, right? So, this time let’s travel to a cave temple built on top of a hill, known as Kailasagiri. Not only temple but also there are other surprises on the go. Of course, a great place for photography! Come on guys… rock rock rock! I mean this place is full of rocks ahh 😉

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As usual, this is also a ‘not so crowded’ weekend getaway from Bangalore. Apt for a short day trip. My brother and his wife came for a weekend and it was their 2nd wedding anniversary. So we thought of taking them to a place nearby where they can have a photo shoot as well. This time we did not have kids with us. It was a couple’s day out.

Let’s jump in to the route and other details.

Situated at : Chikkaballapura District, Karnataka

Distance : 70 km

Known for : Trekking, Cave temple, Reservoir

Best time to visit : Mostly during winters. Preferably in the mornings and evenings as it will be too sunny during the mid day. We went on Feb 2nd 2020.

Estimated travel time : 2 hrs. We started at 6.45 am and reached by 8.45 am.

 

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We had a stop by on the way to have our breakfast.

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Route : Varthur, Balagere Road(Our place) – Whitefield – Hoskote – straight through Kadappa Bengaluru Highway – take left where you will see the big board ‘Kailasagiri’ – one more left from the next ‘Y’ intersection.

Expenses : Hoskote-Chinthamani toll plaza – Rs 55(double side, no Fastag here), Hoskote Highway Toll -Rs 20 (one side), Parking at Kailasagiri – Rs 10, Kaivara Reserve Forest(Kaivara Thapovana) – Rs 10 and other expenses for food.

Commute : Apt for bikers. We anyways, went in our own car. The village roads are best for countryside cycling (Carry one if you are a cycling enthusiast. Would give you a wonderful experience)

Temple timings : 9.30 am to 8 pm, Pujas and rituals are performed here.

We reached the foothills around 9 am and the temple was not open. So, here comes the surprise as I said. There is a reservoir just nearby known as Ambaji Durga Reservoir. It’s such a beautiful place with the lake and rocks.


It was perfect place for a photo shoot. Anyone planning for one, note this place. We took a cam full of photos, enjoyed the view and tranquility of nature. There are few rocks where you can climb on it. Ended up as an adventurous photo session 🙂 Plus point is, not at all crowded so enjoyed our sweet time.

We had parked our car near the entrance of temple where the stone paved path begins. As expected, here as well we encountered the monkey army. The beautiful stone paved path will take you to the top where the cave temple is. Though I saw few old age people, I felt it would be difficult for aged people. This spot is best for youngsters and kids. I heard trekking is also an attraction here. We did not go for it anyways.

Once you reach the top it’s such an amazing view. The breeze makes you feel ease.


The twin rocks sits together like someone had glued them many moons ago! It is believed that the Pandavas lived here for sometime during their exile.

Just below these huge rocks there are blue metal gates(doors) which are the entrance of cave temple. This cave is a recent man made construction and still going on.

The deities are Sri Jagadambe, Sri Vallabha Ganapathy and Sri Chathurmukhalingeshwara (Shiv linga with faces carved on 4 sides).
I must say how cool it feels inside. It’s so refreshing. We took a walk inside and saw the main part of cave. A stage and hall where people can meditate peacefully. Photography is prohibited inside. Still managed to click few pics.
Post this, as usual we went to explore nearby places.

Found Kaiwara Thapovana which was a complete time waste. The place would have been a good spot if they had maintained well. Don’t know for what purpose are they collecting Rs.10 per person as entrance fee! We saw two young couples inside and few swans caged inside a small pond. Took few photos here as well. Nothing much to explore.

Though we did not go, I will hint you few nearby places here you can visit.

– Vaikunda Betta ( This temple is just opposite to Kaiwara Thapovana)
– Ambaji Durga Betta with a Fort (Not suitable for families, apt for trekking)
– Bhima Bakasura Betta / Chamundi Betta (climb is around 500 steps, Lakshman Thirtha is here)
– Bheemeshwara Temple
– Sri Amaranarayana Swamy Temple
– Sri Yogi Narayana Mutt (Dedicated to Kaiwara Tatayya)

Tips :

– There are few small shops nearby. Still advisory to carry water bottles.
– cap/hat, sunscreen (those who really worry about tanning 😉 )
– Wearing your sport shoes will do good.

 

Story By

Sreelakshmi

About the Author
Sreelakshmi
Ten years of journey in HR/Quality field and 5 years in teaching came to an end few months back. Now as a homemaker I enjoy the quality time with my family. I also loved doing part-time jobs with All India Radio as a RJ and few other private radios in Kerala. Writing and travelling are my passions. Do visit my story blog as well.
Below is my travel blog. Please take a look.

Guest Post || A trip to a unexplored paradise – Shillong by Misha

Shillong is a beautiful, clean and picturesque capital city of the state of Meghalaya, which means abode of clouds.

A lot of natural beauty has been bestowed upon this place and is called the Scotland of East. But I am pretty sure if you happen to visit Scotland sometime, you would not mind calling it Shillong of the West.

No amount of words I write here will ever be able to describe the real beauty and the surreal experience you have when you visit this place. Nature has shown all its love to this place through the beautiful mountains, rivers, forests, waterfalls, lakes and a lot of greenery to witness which is a treat to the eyes.

WHERE, HOW AND WHEN– This capital city is surrounded by the Assam hills which comprise of Jayantia hills, Garo hills and Khasi hills on the three sides and Bangladesh border on the fourth side. The best route to get there is through an awesome road trip from Guwahati to Shillong. It is a four hour drive through and the scenic beauty along the whole trip is definitely worth the drive. The weather is cool and pleasant and the best time to visit this place from October to April.

ACCOMODATION– Being a tourist place, there are a variety of options are available for accommodation but homestays are the most preferred options. Hotels and resorts are also available but homestays provide you the local feel and touch. Although I stayed at the Army Holiday Home, but it is not available to people without reference from an army personnel.

SEEING AROUND– There are a lot of places to visit in and around Shillong. If you love trekking and are a nature’s person, this is just the right place for you. You atleast need five whole days to go around and visit all the places. Savour each moment you spend looking at the magnificence of nature which you will frequently witness when you go around. Every place is worth capturing. I am mentioning few of the places which you should definitely visit.

  1. Dauki– Dauki is a four hour drive from Shillong. You should dedicate one whole day to this place as there are many places on its way which are worth visiting. The drive itself is an experience and you will definitely remember the road trips from the movies Dil Chahta hai and Zindagi na milegi dobara. When in Dauki, make sure to visit Mawlynnong, which is the cleanest village in Asia. This village is immaculately clean and is well maintained by its people. There are various souvenir stores in this village if you wish to purchase something. Apart from this few other places worth going are The Living Root Bridge, which as the name suggests is a bridge made by the people through the roots of a huge old tree on a river. This is bridge definitely worth going to. While on your way to Dawki, comes the Dawki river which has such clean water that you can literally see the bottom of the river while boating on it. But make sure you visit this place before the monsoons hit Shillong, as once the rains start the water becomes muddy and you will miss this once in a lifetime experience. Another place you would like is the India Bangladesh International border. It’s a few kilometers ahead of Dawki.
  2. Cherrapunjee– or as the locals call it Sohra is known to be the place with the heaviest rainfall on the earth. I personally enjoyed Cherrapujnee more than I liked going to Dawki. The main reason being waterfalls. This place has a plethora of such huge and gorgeous, waterfalls that you are awestruck each time you see any waterfall. Every waterfall has a history or a story behind it which make it all the more interesting when you visit these. Starting with the Elephant falls which is in Shillong on the way to Cherrapunji. The rest waterfalls I am mentioning are in Cheerapunjee. Among which the most famous ones are, Wakaba falls, Seven Sister falls, Nohkalikai Falls, Wei Saw Dong and Dain Thlen Falls. Except for the Wei saw Dong falls, rest all the other waterfalls can be easily seen from the top of the mountains. Wei saw Dong Falls is the most beautiful of all the falls I visited and the most difficult to reach too. To reach the deepest level of the waterfall, it is a difficult trek down the mountain. It is not completely visible from the top. But after you reach the lowest level, the beauty you witness is worth the trouble you go through during the trek.

After all the waterfalls, come the Mawsmai caves. Visiting these caves is a thrilling experience. These are long and narrow caves and the more we go inside these, the narrower the passage becomes. And it is just impossible to walk straight in these caves. You have to bend, kneel and at some point even crawl in these caves. If you are claustrophobic, I would suggest you to not go into these.

  1. Shillong- The beautiful city of Shillong is well established on the mountains and the people there are really nice and cordial. There are many places in the city and also nearby which are huge tourist attractions and should be on your list too if you plan to visit Shillong. We started with the Mawphlang sacred Forest which is a wonderful place to visit. This forest is on the outer of Shillong and is spread over a huge area of land filled with beautiful and exotic trees. It is taken care by the the local tribal people, the Khasi tribe. As the name suggests the forest is considered to be a sacred place by the Khasi people, as according to their beliefs, is the place where the kings, in the ancient times would go to perform their scared rituals. Among the many beliefs is one that you are not supposed to bring out anything from the forest. Anything you find there has to be left there. Even the fruits you find in the forest are supposed to be eaten in the forest itself. If you bring out anything intentionally, then it may be inauspicious and may cause you some trouble. This is what the people strongly believe in. Any outsider can easily get lost in the forest and it may become very difficult for them to come out on their own. Hence it is recommended that you take a guide with you when you go to the sacred forest. The local people are the guides and will guide you properly in and out of the forest. The visit to this forest is an unforgettable one and should not be missed at any cost.

On our way back from the forest we went to Shillong peak. This is the highest peak in Shillong and the whole city can be seen from this point. It is splendid experience to witness this. There are small shops on the peak where they serve eatables and also there are shops where the traditional khasi attire is made available for the tourists to dress up and click pictures to make the whole trip more memorable. I would suggest you to experience this. The local Police Bazar was the next place we went to. It is the the main market of Shillong and everything is available here for shopping and entertainment. It is a must visit. If you wish to buy anything then this is the place to visit. Anything you need, you will get here. We ended our day at the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians. Visiting this lovely church was a divine experience. You have to go there to feel it. Photography inside the church is not allowed so unless you see it for yourself; you will not be able to understand how enticing the whole experience is.

My trip ended in the most awesome way. I visited the Umiam lake. Although this lake will be mentioned in a local place to visit in Shillong but it was more convenient to go to Umiam lake on our way back to Guwahati as it is just on the way. This man made lake is an impeccable piece of work. Your trip will never be complete without seeing this lake. Make sure you go boating on this lake. It’s too much fun.

Apart from all these places I am mentioning a few other places which are worth seeing.

  1. Jayantia hills
  2. Double root bridge
  3. Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures
  4. Air force museum
  5. Village of Smit in Laitlum
  6. ML 05 café

These places I have mentioned are only a few of the famous places to visit in and around Shillong. But these are worth mentioning. When you plan a trip to Shillong, these places are must visit places.

Author

Misha DP

Misha Dsouza

Gemini ♊.. Realist.. Feminist.. Dentist 🦷..!!
@misha_aashna my instagram account for the amateur writer in me.
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Misha

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Utkarsh

Guhagar – with Sandy, White Sand and Serenity

We know you liked our last story, kuch khaas hai kaas on Kaas Plateau published in September 2017 and as promised here we are sharing the 2nd phase of that amazing Road trip with Sandy. If you missed reading the preceding story, click here and then read the current one.

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Here you go, After dumping the idea of quitting jobs and realizing that its getting dark, we hit the road again to reach our final destination- Guhagar. It was about 180 kms drive from Satara via karad and Chiplun. The roads were not in a good condition throughout the journey and there were some steep ghats, then we reached to the pre booked Nilambari Resort.

Where to STAY: It was a 3 bed non AC room with attached toilet and television. The resort owner is very friendly and we could bargain and get the fare down to Rs 1000/- from Rs.1500/-. After having typical Konkani poha and tea served at the Resort, we headed to the beach which is about a five minute walk from the resort.

What to EAT: While in Guhagar, one must try Konkani vegetarian food like ukdi chamodak, sol kadi, Bhaves, kokam sharbat and Thali-pith of Suruchi hotel is a must eat. Konkani sea food is globally recognized for its taste and while in this part of the sub-continent, one cannot afford to miss:  kalva, mhakala, vaghal, bonbil, kolim, kombadi vade, mori mutton, Ghol, Rawas etc.

We were awestruck after feeling the smooth white sand on this virgin Guhagar beach. The water was clear and so was the beach. It felt as 3 of us were the only tourists.  After having a dip in the Arabian sea, we headed towards the famous Gopalgarh fort which has great historic significance. It is believed to be built at the start of 16th Century by the Siddis. It was captured by Shivaji Maharah in 1660.

Being one of the most important lighthouses of India, Anjanvel Light house is a must visit. The lighthouse operator explained us the technicalities involved in signaling and controlling the ships. We halted at an unknown and unnamed venue on the hill and facing the mighty Arabian Sea for some time and did not realize when we ended up halting there for hours. The air was the freshest that we ever had inhaled and the breathtaking view was the best ever experience we could have captured in ours lens, eyes and hearts. The thought of quitting job was dwindling all over again. We enjoyed some late night drinks on the beach in the moonlight and under the sky full of twinkling stars.

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Vyadeshwar and Velaneshwar temple:  Both are temples of Lord Shiva and are the Kuladaivat of a lot of Kokanastha Brahmins.

Next morning we were all set to hit road and decided to take the road less traveled, where we had to cross Dabhol creek on a ferry along with our car, which was a superb experience to reach Ratnagiri. Visited an ancient Chandika Devi Temple to reach Pune via not so easy to drive Tamhini Ghat. The ghat is full of waterfalls and scenic beauty during the monsoon. We drove back to Mumbai with a lifetime experience, much improved bond of friendship and promises for the many more upcoming roadtrips.

Must carry stuff on a roadtrip: Aux cable, cigarette point charger, knife, water, jacket, extra pair of shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, old newspapers, mat, bedsheet, nail cutter, mug, DSLR, football, snacks,  beachwear (if the place you heading to has a beach)and hell lot of great music.

Do not miss to listen to the music what we love on roadtrip by clicking HERE

Story by: Abhimanyu

Pictures by: Utkarsh & Sandy

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

God’s Own Country – Kerala

I love traveling! It doesn’t matter whether the destination is at, above or below sea level. As you know, I work for a corporate house as well getting long leaves is a herculean task. I try to utilize all the long weekends and convert them into holidays. Trust me, it’s not that difficult when you plan in advance and have great set of friends to accompany you. I had 4 of them with me.

Last year, we eyed on 15th August (Independence Day Holiday in India) long weekend and planned a 5 day trip to Kerala – God’s own country.

Flight tickets – Check

Accommodation – Check

Intercity Transfers – Check

After a few morning hiccups and winning over a hefty traffic jam on the way to Pune airport, we   on-boarded a morning flight from Pune to Kochi. We landed at the beautiful Kochi Airport to find our pre-booked cab waiting for us at the airport.

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Kochi Airport

It was a neat, a bit old but well maintained Toyota Innova(my fav car for longer roadtrips). I am always hungry to taste local food while traveling; the cabbie took us to a local restaurant in Kochi to enjoy some delicious local Kerala food.

We commenced our voyage to Munnar aka Kashmir of the south. En route Munnar our eyes could not stop peeping outside the car window without blinking. Mesmerized by the beauty of Valara waterfalls we got out of the cabs to click some memories. Valara falls, where the water cascades from an altitude of about 1000 mts, which itself was a treat to eyes and the camera lens. Munnar is known for magnificent waterfalls, we could not visit all (remember lack of leaves for this poor corporate junkie) here is a brilliant article which gives a great insight. http://www.munnar.com/waterfalls-in-munnar.htm#waterfalls.

Where to Stay? – We stayed in Hotel Munnar black forest www.munnarblackforest.com. It’s a budget hotel located on Kochi Munnar road. Rooms are not that great neither the food is. We do not recommend this hotel and search for better options. Munnar is full of better stay options.

Places to visit in Munnar – This gorgeous hill station in Western Ghats is located at 1600mts above sea level. The height and the climate make it apt for tea plantations. We witnessed the whole of mountains covered with tea estates till horizon. The green leafy carpet and the aura of tea plantations surely make it an #instagram paradise. We even managed to gate crash an estate on the way to breathe tea and some perfect clicks.

  • Munnar Tea Museum – As they say,” tea doesn’t ask silly questions, it understands.” When you have such a huge yield of tea, it needs to be processed, packed and marketed as well. This tea museum imparts you enough knowledge on how a tea leaf is converted and marketed as the tea which we use in our households. Established in 2005 previously owned by Tata’s and now by Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company (P) Ltd. (KDHP), this museum has so many historic machinery and models still preserved in good shape. They show a short film which depicts the history of Munnar and its lovely tea plantations. After the film, it also offers a tour to the factory in which you can see and learn the technicalities involved in processing your favorite beverage to come out of morning blues every day. You can taste and buy some tea varieties e.g ginger, masala, green and white tea.

Baith jata hun wahan, Chai bann rahi ho Jahan.

  • Mattupetty Dam – This dam is built near the confluence of mountain streams of Muthirappuzha, Chanduvarai and Kundale Rivers. It is used to generate electricity using hydel power. The large amount of water favors wild animals and birds to flourish. There are a few small shops to buys some local stuff like cardamom, masala and some munchies.

Places to visit in Alappuzha – This laid back heaven in south India is also known as Alleppey and Venice of the East. Well known for the backwaters, canals, lagoons and houseboats.

  • Backwaters – Shikara(boat) ride across the backwaters is a must do and you may book the ride right from the boarding point at the river side. Ask locals or hotel reception for guidance. Avoid hiring the boat through any agent as you might strike a cheaper deal at the boarding point. There are public boat buses which run across this city of Venice … oops; Alleppey.

While on the boat tour cruising on the backwaters; close your eyes, spread yours arms wide and feel the wind pass through your body. The water is clean, calm and serene. One can write books on the breathtaking beauty of this lake city. It surely is a honeymooner’s paradise, a painter’s painting, a poet’s lyrics and a musician’s beats. The song which kept on playing in my head during this trip, as Godsmack brilliantly sung, “I need serenity and a place where I can hide.”

Link to the song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2A4Km5PTu5o

Alleppey also has a beach which is usually crowded and not very clean.

Stay in Alleppey – This being  an important tourist destination you can find many stay options from budget homestays to exotic 5 stars. Houseboat can also be a unique idea to stay which serve you great food, comfortable bedrooms and tidy western toilets while sailing across the backwaters. We stayed in a mid-ranged 3 star resort called Pagoda Resort which can be booked here www.pagodaresorts.com. The rooms are comfortable and food is to be relished forever (we were there at the time of kerala food festival). In Pagoda resort, you must gift yourself a kerala ayurvedic massage therapy, to help you forget the worldly affairs, work pressure, targets and let you meet your better and relaxed self. We opted for the relaxing Shirodhara and I vouch for it totally.

When to Go – In Munnar the weather is pleasant throughout the year but if you do not like rains avoid going in Monsoon (June, July and October) season as it rains cats, dogs and sometimes elephants too. Whereas in Alleppey summers are hot and winters is the best season to explore. Or you may plan Alappuzha at the time of Nehru Trophy Boat Race, held on the Punnamada Lake, on the second Saturday of August every year (we missed it by a week).

What to eat – I strongly recommend eating local food which includes idli, rice, appam, uttapam, dosa, sambhar, rasam, etc. Kerala is known for sea food. One must also try variety of chips/ wafers which are a local delicacy. We enjoyed an authentic south Indian meal and various other food items served on a banana leaf at the very famous Sarvana Bhavan in Munnar.

After cruising about 450 kMs(excluding the air travel) through a few cities and villages, beautiful landscapes, mystic mountains, pleasant waterfalls, a soothing beach, a healing ayurvedic massage, lip smacking kerala food and mesmerizing backwaters we ended up this amazing journey to the God’s Own Country with some memories to be cherished for lifetime.

We can help you plan one such trip. Please write to us on info@yatripandit.com

Abhimanyu@yatripandit

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Guest Post || Vrindavan: Radhe Radhe – by Shivendra

If you are planning to visit Vrindavan, I’m sure you have love for Lord Krishna & Radhe in your heart or you have an eye to appreciate the beauty of magnificent, ancient and deeply revered temples.

This year 2017, I happened to be in India during the Holi festival. I decided to celebrate Holi with God at Mathura-Vrindavan. I booked my room almost 15 days before online. In fact, that was the only room available on the site at that time. During the festive season one must book hotel about a month in advance.

HOLI CELEBRATION AT BANKE BIHARI TEMPLE

How to reach : Reaching Vrindavan is not a problem. It’s 4-5 hrs train journey from New Delhi to Mathura and takes about half an hour from Mathura to Vrindavan. I think 2-3 days are enough to explore Vrindhavan – Mathura. One must prefer to stay in Vrindavan.

Pandit Pitche – Ready reckoner for foreigners visiting Vrindavan

  1. As Vrindavan is a religious city, alcohol is banned in Mathura-Vrindavan.
  2. During the Holi festival and New year eve, you will find heavy rush. Book your hotels well in advance.
  3. Please limit your passion of photography outside the temples, Photography is strictly prohibited inside all temples. Your mobile phone or camera can be confiscated. I remember, ISKON temple is one of the exceptions.
  4. Don’t forget the monkey menace, prevalent in many temples and almost all the narrow lanes of Vrindavan. Be cautious of monkeys, they may snatch anything interesting in your hands, especially sunglasses, mobiles, small handbags, food items in your hand.Monkey Menace
  5. No need to wear shoes or expensive slippers at least during rush time, they might get lost as thousands of pilgrims visit daily. Choose some cheap ones, which you can afford to lose.
  6. Beware of Pick Pockets at crowded places. Especially, take care of your mobile phone. Keep only Rs 200-300 with change of Rs 10 with you in a zip lock. Take back-up of your photos daily, before any unfortunate event happens.
  7. Take care of yourself only on the day of the Holi festival, people throw colours at each other. Sometimes, it becomes nasty on that day. Better be safe than sorry. I preferred to stay in my hotel room.
  8. Suggest you buy printed T-Shirts, short Kurta which will give unforgettable colours to your memories. Buy some for your friends at home, they are inexpensive yet valuable.
  9. Instead of Thank you, Namaste, Good Morning in Vrindavan greet everyone with Radhe Radhe. You can make them your own.

 

What to see?

Prem Mandir: I started from Prem Mandir, No bags, selfie-sticks are allowed inside. They need to be deposited at the entry gate. As you enter, you will find various statues depicting a story of Lord Krishna. It is picturesque outside the main temple.

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Prem Mandir

ISKON Temple: God can’t look more beautiful than we find in ISKON temples. It’s mesmerizing. I suggest when you visit here, spend some time sitting with them and recite “Hare Rama Hare Krishna”. Notice them, how contented they are in loving the GOD. 

Shahji Temple: The grandeur of Shah Ji Temple welcomes you with magnificent architecture. One of the biggest temples, its ribbon curved marble pillars and paintings in the sanctum temple which are carved out of black and white marble stones. It makes me wonder how they have built it in 1876. Lord Krishna here referred as ‘Chote Radha Raman’.

Nidhivan: Nidhivan is a sacred temple of Bankey Bihariji which is surrounded by huge bushy forests. It’s believed that these bushes are ‘Gopis’(friends) of Shri Krishna and at night, they perform ‘Rasleela’(Dance) with Shree Krishna and Radha Rani. Hence, they are revered and temple is closed after sunset. From here, the Bankey Bihariji idol was unearthed in 1860s. When you visit this temple, take blessings from the bushes which stay lush green all the year round.

Bankey Bihariji Temple: The Bankey Bihariji Temple is amongst the holiest and famous temple of Krishna in India. Shri Swami Haridasji installed Bankey Bihari ji appeared in Nidhivan. There is no bells or conch in the temple. You will feel eternal bliss, love & blessings showering on as soon as you meet Lord Shri Krishna (Bankey Bihariji). Especially during Holi festival, you will definitely feel as you are in Heaven.

Main temple - Radha Krishna idol
Bankey Bihari Ji

Radha Raman Temple: Sri Radha Raman temple is the most revered temple which was built around 1542. The idols of Radha Ramanji were self-manifested.

Shree Rangji Temple: Largest temple built in 1851 in Dravidian style. This kind of temple architecture reminiscent of South Indian temples which is dedicated Lord Ranganatha (Lord Vishnu)

Mirabai Temple: Mirabai was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. She came to Vrindavan in 1524 in search of Lord Krishna. She was married in Royal Family of Chittor where it was not acceptable to sing songs in temples for Lord Krishna. After the death of her husband, his brother tried to kill her many times. Lord Krishna saved her every time miraculously.

Shri Dwarikadhishji (Thakurji) Temple at Mathura: On my way back to Delhi I visited Mathura and visited the Shri Dwarikadhishji Temple (King of Dwarka, Lord Krishna). The Rajasthani style vibrant yellow colour entrance leads to the courtyard. The murals on the walls, paintings on the roof using gold make it unique and immensely attractive.     

Shri Dwarikatheeshji Mathura
Shree Dwarkadheeshji

 

What and where to eat at Vrindavan?

Brijwasi: If you want to buy Peda (sweets made of milk) for home, buy from Brijvasi in Vrindavan/Mathura. Good quality sweets are also available from the outlet in ISKON temple.

Ammaji Resturant: It is most referred and famous restaurant. Google it or ask anybody, you will find the way to reach there. Paneer Cheela (Indian Cheese Pan Cake): The market, on the way to Bankey Bihariji Temple has Paneer Cheela street food outlet. I had to wait 20 minutes to get mine. Lassi (Sweet Curd Shake): It is available at every corner. I got the best Lassi nearby Shree Rangji Temple.

There are various local delicacies other than I mentioned. Tell me about your favourite ones in the comments section.

Shivendra Rastogi ImageAbout the Author: Shivendra is an “Oil & Gas Professional” and a fabulous company to hangout with. He is an avid solo traveler and always encourages yatripandit.com. He provides expert consultancy in Process Safety and Flare Technologies. You can check his work at http://www.processblogs.com. In addition, he loves to mentors students in unlocking their minds and hearts and encouraging them to create the lives they dream to live. He believes, “travelling alone helps to you to find your TRUE self.”

 

 

Disclaimer:  *Contents in this story is Authors personal views and presentation.

If you also want to get featured as a guest author on yatripandit.com, share your story with us on info@yatripandit.com

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Radhe Radhe !!

 

 

 

Matheran: A no-honking hill station

What can be a better escape on a rainy weekend from Mumbai or Pune than Matheran. Matheran is the only hill station in India, where vehicles are banned and you can clearly listen the sound of breeze rustling leaves and that of the horseshoes.

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It is the one hill station that is so close by that one can visit it at the drop of a hat. One can commute and explore the hills either on foot or on horseback. This is a perfect place for Digital detoxification as one can call it, to enjoy in the lap of mother nature.

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As far as travel to the hill station is concerned, Matheran can be reached by road from Mumbai or Pune via Road or Train with ease.

We stayed at Hotel Cecil which is a very calm place and fits in the budget. It is a heritage building and is about 100 years old. The rooms were very spacious, the washrooms were okay but the food was really good. Even though they do not serve any nonvegetarian food or alcohol, still I would say that the quality of food and variety was good.The rent on a weekend for a single night was Rs 3000/- for a double occupancy room, inclusive of all meals.

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As for tourist activities, Matheran has about 22 points which are listed below. These were all developed by Britishers.

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Important points are Alexander Pt., Rambag Pt, Little Chowk Pt, Big Chowk Pt, One Tree Hill Pt, Belvedere Pt, Olympia Race Course, Lords Pt, Charlotte Lake,Celia Pt (a waterfall mouth), Echo Pt., Porcupine Pt (Sun Set Pt), Panorama Point (Sun Rise Pt), Khandala Pt, Madhavji Garden & Point, Matheran Railway Station, Louisa Point, Mayra Point, Pisarnath Temple.

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It takes about 3 days to cover all the points and since we had a time constraint we decided to visit only the important places. We decided to visit all the scenic points but if you are an adrenaline junkie, you can try Valley crossing from echo point. High on the hills, when you witness the fog and feel the cold wind against your face nothing can taste better in that weather than hot maggie and corn. It’s advisable to reach back your resort before it gets dark as the hill terrain is not equipped with street lights. So to reach in time, we decided to hire horsebacks with funny names such as hawa hawai. After sound night’s sleep and a  delicious morning breakfast, we left for Mumbai. Took a Toy train (15 mins journey) from Matheran to Aman Lodge, then shared taxi to Neral and then Local train to Thane and finally back home after experiencing a much needed Digital Detoxification.

Matheran says,”Horn NOT OK Please.”

Photo Courtesy: MTDC website and Abhimanyu

www.maharashtratourism.gov.in

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media. 

Story By

Abhimanyu

Edited By

Utkarsh

Naya(New) Raipur – A Smart City in Making

 

I have been born and brought up in the city of Raipur. I did most of my schooling from this business hub of central India. During school days, I always hated the pollution and dust which blanketed the city. The scarcity of greenery, sports grounds and gardens was always heartfelt. There were no tourist places nearby. The air connectivity was extremely poor. The roads were narrow and traffic was haphazard, with only a couple of traffic signals in the city.

In November 2000, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Prime Minister then), declared Chhattisgarh as a separate state. I was there. I was there when the RTO registration for Raipur changed from MP-23 to CG-04. I was there, when our 1st CM, Mr. Ajit Jogi took the oath. I was there when the state government’s 1st chopper (Maina) was commissioned. I was also there when a lot of roads were constructed across the city. This list can go on and on.

17 years later, the things are a lot more advanced than they were when I WAS THERE. Naya(new) Raipur is going to be the new capital of the state of CG. Naya Raipur is India’s sixth planned city of India and 2nd largest planned city after Chandigarh.

Here we list down 10 things you must know about this city of future:

  1. Green City – Environmental issues have reached to an alarming stage across the globe, and there is a tremendous effort and consciousness required to save it. In Naya Raipur, about 30% of the land is reserved for greenery. The city is has flourishing gardens and grasslands making it the first Greenfield Smart City in India.

12301717_854053938027191_974767572440326675_n2. Fitness first – The NRDA (Naya Raipur Development Authority) has taken a wise measure to promote long lost habit of cycling by constructing smooth and safe cycling lanes across the city. This shall surely reduce pollution and improve fitness.

17498448_1202597613172820_1938008730192688381_n3. Sports is a key focus area – Magnificent Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium has hosted many 1st class cricket matches and 3 seasons of IPL. It’s the 2nd largest cricket stadium in India after Eden Gardens with a capacity of 67,000 audiences. A sports village is being built in Sector 3, ensuring world class facilities for indoor and outdoor sports to promote sports culture.

204. An Educational hub in Making – A sound education system forms the backbone of any region. Keeping this in mind there are many esteemed universities making a mark including Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU) which is ranked sixth among the National Law Universities in India.

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IIT Naya Raipur (IIITNR), KIT, ITM University and State Administrative Academy are also operational in the city. IIM-R’s new campus shall be functional soon. A number of national and international schools are laying a good foundation for a bright future.

5. Marvelous Infrastructure – The roads are wide and cut each other at 90⁰, have proper demarcations and are lit with LED lamps. Bus stops are built such that they do not hinder the moving traffic. This smart city sports an underground utility corridor which means that services including water supply, sewerage, telecom, and electricity are developed underground. Waste management and disposal system shall be made matching the global standards.

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Swami Vivekanand International Airport

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6. Welcoming all Industries – Naya Raipur is willing to welcome all sectors with wide open arms, whether be it electronics, IT, pharma, agriculture, jewellery, handloom, hospitality or manufacturing. Sector 22 will be a hub for IT, and services industries. About 194 hectares of land in Sector 5 is reserved for automotive, banks, handloom, etc.

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7. Reliable Medical facilities – No city can be considered developed until it has reliable and latest medical facilities. Satya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital, has NO BILLING COUNTERS and is committed to provide free medical treatment and operation facilities for heart patients with no discrimination. More than 3000 surgeries have been successfully conducted here till date. A few world class hospitals such as Vedanta Cancer Hospital, Sankara Eye Hospital, and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are under construction.

aiims38. Seamless connectivity – Naya Raipur will have excellent connectivity via rail, road, and air. The Swami Vivekananda International Airport was decorated with a National Tourism Award and recognized as the best non-metro airport in India in 2016. A new railway line is being constructed to connect Naya Raipur with rest of the country by broad gauge and four railway stations will be built by NRDA.

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Wide Roads

9. Tourism and Recreation: This is the most important aspect from yatripandit’s point of view. Recently, Mr. Narendra Modi inaugurated the Jungle Safari – Asia’s largest man-made forest safari and the Botanical Garden in Naya Raipur. An amusement park is currently being built in sector 24 alongside Jhanjh Lake for thrilling water sports. Ekatm Path, a 2 km corridor is a true bliss for morning walkers and will remind you of Raj Path in the national capital- New Delhi.

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10. The emotional connect – The transformation of this pretty city of Raipur is visible to the world but only people like me can proudly say, “Raipur is not only a city but definitely an emotion for the ones who dwell there and belong to it.”

Now that, I have been living in the big cities of Pune and Mumbai, what I miss the most is the laid back small town life. People actually believe in keeping their lives and things simple. For instance, people in Raipur usually relish their plate of Poha and dahi-jalebi for about half an hour with a lot of worldly gossips with the poha vendor himself.

Keep all this in mind and plan a visit soon to experience this smart, integrated city of future.

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Photo Courtesy: NayaRaipur Chhattisgarh FB Page

This 5 minute video by Dainik Bhaskar will enhance your knowledge more.

Check out our story on Bastar to experience the tribal life and tourist attraction of Chhattisgarh.

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Story By

Abhimanyu

Edited By

Utkarsh