Summer Vacation – A trip to Bakkhali, the Delta of Ganges & my childhood place

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After a full 3 hours in the sea and breakfast, we went to visit Henry’s island (2 km) – a must visit place. During 1980s, the West Bengal Fisheries Department took the initiative of turning Henry’s Island into a tourist spot. More than 50 ponds were dug under pisciculture project, occupying over 25 bigha on 100-hectare of land. Fresh fish and shrimps straight out the ponds are a must try for the visitors. Trees such as gora, kankru, palm, naturally growing sundari and hetal have been planted.

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One Day Trip to Ooty-Coonoor

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I explored the hill-sides along the road looking at flowers, trees and occasionally the habitations along the road,perched diligently on the sloping terrain.The panoramic views of the valley below enamoured me, though no Tourist Department had christened them with clichéd names.

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Gwalior- Weekend Gateway to “Hindustan Ka Dil”

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However, booked one Cab (Tata Indica) for a 7 hr journey, which would take me to the Gwalior Fort(Man Mandir Palace, Sas-Bahu Temple, Gujjari Mahal, Suraj Kind, Teli ka Mandir), Jai Vilas Palace (aka Jiwaji Rao Scindia Museum), Sun temple, Mohd. Ghauz Monument, Tansen Monument, Gwalior Zoo for 700 bucks. It was decided that the cab would be there by 9 am. I had another 1 hr. 30 mins in hand.

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Rewalsar – A sacred confluence of multi religions

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When you come to Rewalsar, you cannot be untouched by the spiritual vibrations being reflected in every activity in this sacred land, be it the chirpings of the birds, soulful chantings from the monastery or temple or Gurubani from the Gurudwara, people feeding hungry souls in the lake, pondering monkeys over the trees, Buddhist prayer flags swirling in the air, swimming ducks in the lake, meditating and contemplating holy people on bank of the lake, the green and serene water of the lake, monks running the prayer-wheels, beautiful surrounding hills, finely ornated colourful monasteries with young monks playing around, burning oil lamps, ringing bells, cows and dogs resting near the lake, swaying trees, smiling flowers etc, whatever passes through your eyes gives you a sort of positive vibrations.

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Self-Drive trip across Thailand (7 days, 2000 kms) : Part 5 – Bang Saen to Kampaeng Phet

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We had plans of visiting heritage sites and local night market, but lassitude takes over as soon as we arrive. After strolling around the neighbourhood, spying on local shops and outlets, we are back to the guest house.
There are number of cosy sit-outs within the house. In the evening, guests have gathered here to relax and chat-up. Soon I connect up with Bill, an Austrian from Vienna and Shoo, a Thai traveller. Yes, they tell, they are also travelling across Thailand. While exchanging notes I discover that both of them (though travelling separately) are very special Ghumakkars. Bill (actually Bills, a couple) has arrived here Cycling all the way from AUSTRIA! Well, the story goes like this. They are avid cyclists. They have covered large parts of the globe cycling. Bill roughly cycles for an year in one go! By end of the year long loop, he is back in Vienna to earn his livelihood. After earning for about 6-8 months, he is again out for the next trip. He tells us that he does not own a car and has a very small house in Vienna. He works just to make enough money for the next trip. Same is the story of his partner. She is from the same place and they share the same passion. They are 6 months into the current trip and plan to cycle north to China and then through Kazakhstan and Eastern Europe to Vienna. Their belongings, typical for cyclists, comprise of two rucksacks (strapped to either side of the carrier) and a sleeping bag cum tenting equipment.

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From the Editor – Bollywood’s Musical Tribute to Travel

From the Editor – Bollywood’s Musical Tribute to Travel

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Coming back to the music. Those were the days when patriotism rode high with the pride of a successful freedom struggle still fresh and a series of wars with the neighbouring countries. Aao bachchon tumhein dikhayein jhanki Hindustan ki was another travel song with generous sprinkling of patriotism or should I say the other way round. The song has impeccable rhyme and rhythm and the pace ensures that you cannot stop yourself from tapping your feet.

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देहरादून कुछ जाना कुछ अनजाना

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इसके बाद हम प्रकर्ति का अजूबा घूचूपानी या रोबर्स केव की और चल पड़े |हमारे गाइड और ऑटो चालक ने बताया जब आप अंदर जाओगे तो ऐसा लगेगा की आप वात्तानुकुलित सुरंग मे चल रहे है |घूचूपानी, देहरादून से 8 किलोमीटर दूर राजपुर रोड पर अनारवाला गांव से 1 किलोमीटर की पैदल दूरी पर सिथत है |यह एक प्राकर्तिक गुफा है जिसमे लगभग आधा किलोमीटर अंदर तक आप जा सकते है|गुफा के अंदर पानी गुप्त स्रोतों से बह रहा है |यंहा टिकेट ले कर हम अंदर परवेश कर गये ऐसा लग रहा था जैसे डिस्कवरी चैनल के किसी प्रोग्राम में शामिल हो गये है |कंही सुंदर झरना है तो कंही ऊपर से गुफा की दीवार मे से पानी की बोछार हो रही है |कभी आप कमर तक पानी मे डूब जाते है तो अगले ही पल पानी एकदम गायब हो जाता है|मेरे नटखट पुत्र ने इस जगह को नाम दिया गुपचुप पानी |

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Trip to Darbar Sahib-Where self meets the soul…-I

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There is this railway crossing on the Dinanagar-Gurdaspur stretch of NH-15 which lies miraculously at the centre of a leftward curve. Most of the drivers usually get caught unaware at this crossing. I was familiar with the notoriety of this curve and hence was attentive to its arrival. Just after crossing over the railway line, we stopped near a fruit-seller to fill our empty stomachs and sat on the nearby tube-well to chat. Our jokes and pranks didn’t seem to end anytime soon but we realised that we should pull ahead. Back to the car, we hit the road again and entered Gurdaspur city after 10 kms. There is a bypass which you can take to avoid the traffic and congestion at the Gurdaspur town but since it was a national holiday (2nd Oct), the traffic was sparse and we drove through the city. Looking around for some nice place to have a proper breakfast, all four of us had our necks craned out of the window. However, any place proposed by one was put down by the rest…a big disadvantage of traveling in an all-guys-group i think. Suddenly, I saw a turbanated policeman signalling us to stop. I just wanted to zip ahead as we were on the right side of law in every respect (thats what I believed till then) but Jaspreet insisted that we should stop as the Punjab Police cops chase such cars which dont stop and then harrass you even more…the job they are best at. Stopping a few metres ahead, I asked everyone to relax and not to get out of the car…a mistake that cost us 200 bucks!!! The Sardarji policeman came upto our car…positioned his elbows on the window and asked where we were from. We replied in Punjabi that we are from Jammu and heading towards The Harmandir Sahib. The Sardarji smiled at us and asked us why we had not fastened our seat belts…..HOLY SHIT… We realised that after we started driving from our last stop where we had fruits, we had just forgot to fasten our seat-belts.

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राजवाड़ा – इंदौर का आईना

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कृष्णपुरा की छत्रियां (Cenotaphs), इंदौर के होलकर राजवंश के पूर्व शासकों की समाधियाँ हैं. ये छत्रियां इंदौर की खान नदी के किनारे पर निर्मित हैं तथा वास्तुकला की दृष्टि से एक उत्कृष्ट निर्माण हैं. सैकड़ों वर्षों से विद्यमान ये छत्रियां होलकर मराठा राजवंश के गौरवशाली ईतिहास की द्यौतक हैं. मराठा वास्तुकला शैली में निर्मित ये छत्रियां पर्यटकों को बहुत लुभाती हैं तथा आमंत्रित करती हैं. ये छत्रियां मालवा की शासिका महारानी कृष्णाबाई, महाराजा तुकोजीराव तथा महाराजा शिवाजीराव की समाधियों पर निर्मित हैं तथा इन्हीं शासकों को समर्पित हैं. इन छत्रियों में सभाग्रह तथा गर्भगृह हैं, गर्भगृह में इन शासकों की मूर्तियों के साथ अब हिन्दू देवी देवताओं की मूर्तियाँ भी स्थापित कर दी गई हैं.

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Motorcycle Diaries. Road to Ladakh (Bidding adieu to Leh)

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While returning from this point, I took a brief stop at the Magnetic Hill. This has always been a site of amusement for me. This hill is located on NH1, at around 45kms from Leh, at a height of 11,000 feet above sea level. Rumour has it that this hill has magnetic properties! In fact, BRO has put a signboard too, which lends considerable credibility to this rumor, at least for the first timers! There is also a square box-area painted on the road where the signboard requests drivers to park the four-wheelers in the neutral gear. According to the prevalent myth, the magnetic properties of the hill are strong enough to pull cars uphill! In reality, the effect is at best an optical illusion and there is no magnetic property in the area. I have experience this twice now. Yet this place is a crowd-puller and is now a popular stop for travelers to Leh. I am publishing an image I took last year!

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अमरनाथ यात्रा ( शेषनाग – पंचतर्णी – अमरनाथ गुफा – पहलगाम)

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शाम को हम लोग एक रेस्टौरेंट मे बैठे थे, मैने देखा एक पुलिस ऑफीसर भी वहाँ रेफ्रेशमेंट ले रहा है, तभी एक और ऑफीसर भी उसके पास आ कर बात  करने लगा, मेरी नज़र उस पर टिक गयी मॅ  देखना चाहता था की यहाँ होटेल वाले को खाने-पीने का बिल पेमेंट करते है या नही, थोड़ी देर मे देखा दोनो ऑफीसर  होटेल वाले के पास गये और पर्स निकाल कर पेमेंट करने लगे.ऐसे ही मार्केट मे टहलते हुए मैने देखा 2-4 खोँछे वाले सड़क किनारे खड़े है, यह यहाँ के मूल निवासी नही थे, यात्रा पर रोज़गार के चक्कर मे यहाँ पहुच गये थे, जिगयसा वश मैने उनसे पूछा  क्या यहाँ खड़े होने पर यहाँ की पुलिस तो नही परेशान करती है, उन लोगो ने  बताया  की म्युनिसिपल बोर्ड वाले डेली . 20 रुपये की रसीद काट देते है और कोई परेशान नही करता है.  सोचने लगा देहली और उसके आस-पास के शहरो मे सरकार को तो इन खोँछे वालो से कुछ मिलता नही है  हाँ पुलिस वालो की ज़रूर जेब गर्म हो जाती है. यहाँ आकर इस बात का अहसास होता है की अमरनाथ  की यात्रा के दौरान लोखो कश्मीरियो को रोज़गार मिलता है, स्टेट की इनकम बदती है,  हम 7 लोगो का घोड़े का खर्च 37500/- हुआ था जबकि कई स्थानो पर हम पैदल भी चले थे. इसके अलावा टॅक्सी , टेंट, होटेल, आदि कितने खर्चे. हम लोगो का प्रति व्यक्ति लगभग 8000 से 10000 खर्च आया था. एक तरह से यह यात्रा कितने कश्मीरियो के लिए आय का बड़ा साधन है,  परंतु फिर भी कुछ कश्मीरी लीडर वहाँ की जनता को गुमराह करके यात्रा के खिलाफ भाषण वाजी , विरोध प्रदर्शन करवाते रहते है. बहुत तकलीफ़ होती है जब इंसान अपने स्वार्थ के कारण दूसरो की रोज़ी रोटी  पर लात  मारता है.

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अमरनाथ यात्रा (पहलगाम – चंदनवाड़ी – शेषनाग )

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पिस्सू टॉप की चढ़ाई वास्तव मे एक  कठिन चढ़ाई   है. घोड़े  पर बैठे हुए डर  लग रहा था. इससे  पिछले  वर्ष हम केदारनाथ यात्रा पर गये थे , वाहा 14 किलोमीटर की चढ़ाई  है, हम उस रास्ते को देख कर सोचते  थे कि कितना कठिन रास्ता है परंतु यहा तो रास्ता ही नही था रास्ते के नाम पर उबड़ -खाबड़ पगडंडी है, कई जगह पर तो ऐसा लगा की अब गिरे तो तब गिरे. सबसे बरी दिक्कत तो तब होती है जब घोड़ा पहाड़ से नीचे को उतरता  है.ऐसा लगता है , कई लोग गिर भी जाते है, पिस्सू टॉप से शेषनाग के बीच एक बहुत सुंदर झरना गिर रहा है उसके थोड़ा पहले हमे घोड़े  वाले ने उतार दिया और बताया यहाँ से लगभग 1 किलोमीटर . आगे तक पैदल चलना होगा क्योकि घोड़े  से जाने का रास्ता नही है. अब हम पैदल आगे चल दिए, रास्ते  मे वर्फ़ के  ग्लेसियार के बाद  खूबसूरत झरना बह रहा था, 

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