Hornbill Festival – The Liveliest Festival of India

January 28, 2015 By:

A moment from Hornbill Festival of Nagaland

A moment from Hornbill Festival of Nagaland 2014

Words are not enough to describe what Hornbill Festival is all about! All I can say that, it is THE mega cultural extravaganza of North-East India. It is the joint celebration of sixteen different Naga tribes to exhibit their cultural display at one venue and is, therefore, also called the “Festival of Festivals”.

The Nagaland Express arrived at Dimapur Railway Station early at dawn. I got down from the train along with my two friends Prakash and Kamal. Prakash was earlier posted in Nagaland so the place was known to him. He went ahead through a foot over and we followed him till the exit.

A train journey to Sanskardhani (Jabalpur)

January 27, 2015 By:

December 2014 brought an opportunity to see a new city, where I had not gone before. So, I had my reservations in 22182 Nizamuddin – Jabalpur Superfast Express that leaves Delhi at 05.50 pm and reaches Jabalpur at 08.20 am next day. That train was earlier named as “Gondwana Express”. The train journey of 900 kilometres from Delhi and Jabalpur was going to be through the countryside of the Central India. I was hoping to enjoy the freshness of the air, smell of the soil and natural beauty of vast landscapes opening before my eyes through window of my train. In that entire journey from Delhi to Jabalpur the train was to cross through four major geographical areas. Upto the cities of Mathura – Agra, it is in the main north belt. From Gwalior-Jhansi to Damoh, the area was once called “Bundelkhand”. Thereafter, upto Katni, the area was famous as “Baghelkhand”. Beyond Katni, it was the territory of erstwhile “Mahakoshal”. It was interesting to know the differences in the topography and the history of those areas. With those thought, I started that train journey.

: Starting the train journey from Hazrat Nizamuddin

: Starting the train journey from Hazrat Nizamuddin


My day in Rashtrapati Bhawan

January 26, 2015 By:

From the title you may think how lucky I am or honored to get a day in Rastrapati Bhawan. Don’t think too fast It is just a common man’s visit to the den of India’s 1st Citizen. You may consider it is not Ghumakkari, but I like to share this on Ghumakkar since it may turn out to be a great part of someone’s travel to Delhi. An exciting news appeared in Hindustan Times in mid-January 2014 (sorry, forgot the date) that the Rastrapati Bhawan is open for public visit. I read the news again, and wondered if it was for the Mughal Gardens or the main building; because Mughal Gardens are normally open for public every year in February-March. No, it was about the main building. The very next Saturday, we reached Rastrapati Bhawan without checking or doing a Google search on the visiting formalities. The security posted in front of gate no 3 (Raisana Hills, Rajpath), told us that the Bhawan is open for public but you have to do an online registration and bring the approval pass to visit. That day we returned but gathered all the necessary information to visit. We had done all necessary online process for visiting on 1st Feb, 2014. After 3 days of online registration, we got an SMS and mail from Rastrapati Bhawan, accepting our application for visit on the said date.

Way to Rashtrapati Bhawan (Rajpath)

Way to Rashtrapati Bhawan (Rajpath)

North Block (the administrative office) on Rajpath

North Block (the administrative office) on Rajpath

South Block (the administrative office) on Rajpath

South Block (the administrative office) on Rajpath

It was a foggy Saturday morning, we again reached gate no 3 and the police allowed us to enter with our car to the parking through gate no 2. The security officer directed us where to go, to the reception. As we entered the compound… just one word came to the mind.. WOW

Way to Rastrapati Bhawan from Parking

Way to Rashtrapati Bhawan from the parking

The ground in front of the main building

The ground in front of the main building

Ground towards the Rajpath

Ground towards the Rajpath

We are in front of the main building

We are in front of the main building

 The North Block of Ratrapati Bhawan (administrative office)

The North Block of Ratrapati Bhawan (administrative office)

We told ourselves that this is the place where every high profile visitor gets the guard of honor. We reached the entrance reception, which was a tiny gate near the main building. A beautifully managed reception welcomed us. There were a small souvenir and snack shop along with the reception. You can utilize your waiting time munching something or buying some souvenirs of your visit. After scanning our ID proof, they took a group photo of us and generated a pass, which was handed over to the guide. Beyond the reception area, you aren’t allowed to take any camera or mobile. You can deposit the same in the security check. We, a group of around 30 people of the scheduled time gathered outside after the security check and a guide and a protocol officer welcomed us, gave brief description regarding a 45-minute guided tour and requested us not to get separated from the group. Considering the high security zone, any intruding attempt of guest can be take them jail without any excuse. All visitors had followed the guide’s advise. Our journey started with the CHILDREN’S GALLERY, where lots of scientific facts and photographs were displayed. Children can see and feel the models and read massages by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (the gallery is an initiative of Dr. Kalam). After spending some time in Children’s gallery, we moved to the MARBLE HALL. The hall is named after a big single piece of Marble, once used as a table. In the marble hall, they had displayed some antique paintings of the British royals, which had been retouched to preserve. A mixed metal Chair of King George V was kept there. The chair weighed around 800KG and was an awesome work of craft by an Indian artist. Recently a wax statue of our Hon’ble President has been installed. Now it was time to move towards the KITCHEN MUSEUM, where lots of Kitchen equipment, crockery, cutlery and dining tables were on display. Those utensils were used before India got independent. Our guide told us lots of stories about Rastrapati Bhawan. Told us story about its construction, lifestyle, history, etc. While following the guide’s stories, we reached the 2nd floor. You can’t feel that you have climbed to 2nd floor. Rastrapati Bhawan has 4 floors. The next was the LONG DRAWING ROOM and the NORTH DRAWING ROOM. In the North drawing room, the floor is revolving and roof is an awesome example of art. You have to capture all those beauty in your eyes, no option to save it in the camera.

After visiting LOGGIA AND BANQUET HALL, our guide told us that, all the guest who came to Rastrapati Bhawan were served food there. There was a long dining table and crafted wood chairs, which have remained intact since their construction. We next headed towards the Library. It’s a personal library for our Hon’ble president. There were lots of old books available to read (we aren’t that fortunate). From the window of the Library, you can see a clear view of India Gate.

Feeling happy with the library, it was time to amaze. This is the location where all the functions (India’s prestigious award given to its citizen) take place. This place is called the Darbar Hall, the celebration hall of the Rastrapati Bhawan. The hall was situated just below the Gombuz (Doom), which we see from the long distance. The guide told us about our tricolor flag flyng on Rastrapati Bhawan. If flag is fully open it means the President is present at the house. If the flag is not flowing, means our president is currently not in India/house. If it is half down, it is to project the demise of someone important. We then moved to Gift gallery. In Gift gallery they had kept and displayed the gifts that had been presented to our hon’ble president, by other countries or Indian states. Some awesome and eye catching artifacts. It felt very good that our Presidents didn’t take those with them after their tenure. Finally, our visit to the beautiful architecture of Lutyen’s Delhi, was ending, but our journey didn’t end. We came out from the building and moved towards the Mughal Garden. We had visited the same many times, when it opened to the public. But this time the experience was awesome, because there was no crowd, no noise, just feel the smell and beauty of the open garden. How lucky is our President, he can enjoy the song of birds, take a breath with flowers….. We went back again to the reception to collect our bags and camera. They allowed us to take photos outside the building, wherever you want, no restriction and we had a long photo-session.

Some info for visiting Rastrapati Bhawan,

Please refer to the link below:

https://presidentofindia.nic.in/rbvisit/rbvisit.aspx

Fill up the online form with your details along with photo identity proof details (Passport/Adhaar/PAN etc. – List available on site). Pay Rs.25 per person and checkout. You will get a confirmatory mail with the visiting pass within 3 days. Anyone who has a plan trip to Delhi can use this opportunity. I bet you will leave with a feeling of pride after visiting this awesome architecture of modern India.

The Architect and Engineer associated with the project

The Architect and Engineer associated with the project

The Architect and Engineer associated with the project

The Architect and Engineer associated with the project

The mystic jungles of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

January 23, 2015 By:

Sometimes you feel the need to escape somewhere, somewhere unknown, yet with a soulful connection. With this thought in my mind and along with a bunch of such like-minded friends, we went out on an early morning road trip to a destination which was comfortably nearby to our city Guwahati but yet we never had the opportunity to explore it.

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Lying just 32kms drive from the capital city, this wildlife sanctuary boosts of a home to about 2000 migratory birds and the famous one-horned rhinoceros. It is flanked on the northern side by the hill range of Raja Mayong (named after the famous nearby village of Mayong, famous for sorcery) and the great plains of Sonapur on the south.

The journey started by taking the shorter route of Narangi – Chandrapur village – Digaru village. There exists another route via State Highway 1 through Sonapur. The best part of the route we took was that it runs along the majestic Bramhaputra river for a major part and then it goes through some of the scenic and ethnic villages in this part of the country.

The actual drive starts after crossing the Panikheti railway crossing where the city limits ends and the Brahmaputra starts to show its glimpses.

The city ends and we head into the greenery all around @Panikheti Railway crossing

The city ends and we head into the greenery all around @Panikheti Railway crossing


नाथुला पास का यात्रा वृत्तांत

January 21, 2015 By:

अगर  सिक्किम  में कोई ऐसा  रमणीक  स्थल  है जिसे सब देखना चाहते  हैं, जहाँ  सब जाना  चाहते  हैं तो वो  एक ही जगह है – नाथुला दर्रा। यूँ तो  प्राकृतिक विविधताओं  से भरे इस राज्य में कई  नयनाभिराम दृश्य  और  परिदृश्य देखने को मिल जायेंगे, किन्तु नाथुला  दर्रा  ही एकमात्र  जगह है जहाँ हर प्रकार के पर्यटक जरूर  जाना चाहते हैं। मुझे इसकी दो वजहें  जान पड़ती हैं।  एक तो इसका सिक्किम की राजधानी गान्तोक से नजदीक होना (मात्र ५८ किमी ) और दूसरी  यह कि यही वह जगह है जो कभी सिल्क रूट के नाम से पूरी दुनिया में विख्यात था। वही सिल्क रूट, जिससे होते हुए  ह्वेनसांग , फाहियान और मार्कोपोलो भारत आये थे और बौद्ध धर्म दुनिया के दूसरे हिस्सों तक पहुँचा था। नाथुला दरअसल हिमालय का एक पहाड़ी दर्रा है जो भारत के सिक्किम और तिब्बत की चुम्बी घाटी को जोड़ता है। नाथुला दो तिब्बती शब्द नाथु (Listening Ears) और ला (Pass) से मिलकर बना है। १९६२ ई. के भारत -चीन युद्ध के बाद नाथुला मार्ग को व्यापार के लिए बंद कर दिया गया था , जिसे २००६ ई. में दुबारा खोला गया।

कहते हैं कि  अगर आप सिक्किम में हैं तो आपको नाथुला दर्रा तो जाना ही चाहिए। फिर हमारा तो ठिकाना ही गान्तोक था। मित्रों और सहकर्मियों से नाथुला की तारीफें सुन-सुन कर हमने सोचा कि हम भी भला क्यों पीछे रहें। चल पड़े यात्रा परमिट  प्राप्त करने केलिए टूरिज्म डिपार्टमेंट के ऑफिस, जो एम जी मार्ग के आरम्भ में ही  है।  परमिट के लिए दो पासपोर्ट साइज के फोटोग्राफ और एक आईडी प्रूफ की जरुरत पड़ती है। सोमवार और मंगलवार को छोड़कर बाकी किसी भी दिन आप नाथुला जा सकते हैं। और हाँ, परमिट सफर के  एक दिन पहले जरूर ले लें।

इस तरह हम कुल छह लोग  इतवार की एक सुबह अपने वाहन चालक तुलाराम (जो पिछले ०३ सालों के दौरान हमारी घुमक्कड़ टोली का अभिन्न हिस्सा रहे।)  के साथ नाथुला की सुरम्य वादियों की छटा निहारने को निकल पड़े। गर्म कपड़ों और खाने पीने की चीजों के साथ पूरी तरह मुस्तैद हम लोग कुछ ही देर में महात्मा गांधी मार्ग को पीछे छोड़ जवाहरलाल नेहरू मार्ग पर चल पड़े थे (जैसे हमारा देश आजादी के बाद गाँधी को छोड़ नेहरू मार्ग पर चल पड़ा था।)। जैसे जैसे हम घनी आबादी वाले क्षेत्र से आगे बढ़ रहे थे, सैनिक छावनियाँ हमारा स्वागत कर रही थीं।  रास्ते भी बेहद संकरे  हो चले थे। कई जगहों  पे तो ऐसा जान पड़ता था मानो सड़क है ही नहीं। हिचकोले खाती हुई गाडी में हम उस वक़्त यह सोच रहे  थे की शायद यह भी प्रशासन का एक तरीका है नाथुला की प्राकृतिक सुंदरता को सहेज के रखने का। वो तो भला हो सिक्किम के दक्ष और सिद्धहस्त चालकों का, नहीं तो नाथुला समेत उत्तरी सिक्किम के सारे रास्ते आपके दिल की धड़कनों को बढाने में कोई कसर नहीं छोड़ते। झरनों की बहुतायत जो उत्तर और पश्चिम सिक्किम में मिलती है, वो इस रास्ते में नहीं थी।

image1

नाथुला के रास्ते का दृश्य