FoG

First Story on this destination on Ghumakkar

Jeddah: Discovering a mega-city

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Jeddah has cityscapes on a large scale. Not for this city the narrow crowded bylanes of Mumbai; here, every street is built on a grand scale. Most streets (barring streets in old Jeddah and inside residential areas) are at least 8-10 lanes in width, with broad footpaths. There are bridges and under-passes, service roads on the side, and so on, in addition to the main thoroughfare. During most visits, in spite of using Google Maps and Navigation, I ended up getting on to the wrong ramp, or driving past a turn or missing a U-turn and having to drive an extra 5-10 kms to get back to where I wished to go.

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Doha: Bridging the Gulf

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Nevertheless, Doha’s a well-planned city for sure. The roads are wide and traffic is quite organised. The best thing about Doha’s roads is that pedestrians are always given right of way. Since I was not aware of this on the first day, I stood on the pavement, waiting for the traffic light to turn red. To my surprise, all the cars stopped to let me cross. For a moment, I hesitated. Only when one of the drivers signalled for me to pass did I realise what was happening. Guess our desi car-owners can pick up a tip or two from Doha’s drivers!

However, our hotel was a complete letdown. It was supposed to be a five-star hotel, but didn’t seem to be worth even two stars. For one, it was just an unassuming brick building, lacking the grandeur and polish usually associated with Indian five-star hotels. Second, the bathrooms didn’t even have a bar of soap, leave alone any toiletries. When we asked for some water, the bell-boy, who happened to be an Indian, advised us to buy a mineral water bottle from a general store, which would cost us 1 Qatar Riyal (QAR), while the hotel would charge us 5 QAR. Rs 70 for a glass of water? What a rip-off!

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होल्कर साम्राज्य के भग्नावशेष – राजवाड़ा और छतरियां

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इन्दौर राज्य में तीन-तीन तुकोजीराव हुए हैं, इनमें से किसके नाम पर तुकोजीगंज नामकरण हुआ है, यह तो मुझे नहीं मालूम पर हां, रंगीनमिजाज़ तुकोजीराव तृतीय के रंगीन किस्से इन्दौर वासियों की जुबान पर अब भी रहते हैं। उन्होंने तीन शादियां की थीं – सीनियर मोस्ट महारानी का नाम था – चन्द्रावती बाई। जूनियर महारानी थीं – इन्दिरा बाई । तीसरी वाली अमेरिकन युवती – नैंसी अन्ना मिलर थीं जिनके साथ 12 मार्च, 1928 को तुकोजीराव तृतीय ने विवाह रचाया। विवाह के बाद वह पूरी तरह भारतीय रंग-ढंग में ढल गई थीं और उनका विवाह भी शर्मिष्ठादेवी के रूप में नामकरण के बाद शुद्ध हिन्दू रीति-रिवाज़ के मुताबिक हुआ था। 1907 में अमेरिका के सियेटल शहर में जन्मी नैंसी ने तुकोजीराव होलकर को पांच संतानें दीं, चार पुत्रियां और एक पुत्र। शर्मिष्ठाबाई का देहान्त अभी 1995 में हुआ है। कहा जाता है कि तीन पत्नियों के बावजूद तुकोजीराव अमृतसर के एक कार्यक्रम में मुमताज़ बेगम का डांस देखकर उस पर आशिक हो गये और उसे इंदौर ले आये। वह तुकोजीराव के प्रेम को घास भी नहीं डालती थी और राजवाड़े से भागने के कई बार प्रयत्न किये और अन्ततः एक बार इन्दौर से मसूरी जाते हुए रास्ते में दिल्ली में निगाह बचा कर भागने में सफल भी होगई। बस, तुकोजी राव को बहुत बुरा लगा, एक तो प्रेम की दीवानगी और ऊपर से राजसी अहं को ठेस जो लग गई थी। उनके चेले-चपाटे अपने राजा को खुश करने के चक्कर में मुमताज़ बेगम की खोज खबर लेते रहे और अन्ततः पता लगा ही लिया कि वह मुंबई में किसी के साथ रहती है। बस जी, तुकोजी राव के कर्मचारी मुंबई के हैंगिंग गार्डन में पहुंच गये और वहां जो मारकाट मची उसमें उस व्यक्ति की गोली लगने से मौत हो गई जिसके साथ मुमताज़ बेगम मुंबई में रहती थी और हैंगिंग गार्डन में घूम रही थी। अंग्रेज़ अधिकारियों ने इस कांड का पूरा फायदा उठाया और तुकोजीराव के दो कर्मचारियों को फांसी की सजा सुनाई गई और तुकोजीराव तृतीय को राज्य छोड़ना पड़ा। तुकोजीराव तृतीय की मृत्यु 1978 में पेरिस में हुई। उस समय वह 88 वर्ष के थे।

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Sunset

Zanzibar: How to explore Stone Town on foot

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Also known as Zanzibar mix, it’s an Indian inspired Zanzibari Tanzanian bowl of curry soup with lots of toppings. It’s packed with diverse flavors and textures. The ‘Mix’ is a bowl of smooth and tangy soup cooked with lemon and mango, with pieces of mashed potatoes, onions slices, peanuts and crispy bhajias immersed in it. It’s topped with a spoon of coconut chutney, a dash of red-hot chutney and a scoop of deep fried potato shavings sprinkled on top.

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Ruins Of Alamparai Fort on East Coast Highway

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We were not ready for the pathetic state the Alamparai fort was in.  As per Archaeological survey of India board it was built some time in 17th century and was a trading post during the Mughal period and changed hands many times between various powers till India got independence. What appears is that after independence the fort totally lost its significance as a trading outpost as more modern Chennai and other ports in South India gained prominence.

The fort though in a very scenic location, near a natural lagoon and the adjoining village is inhabited by fishermen.  But the fort is an example of the pathetic attitude we have towards our historical monuments.  Full of sand in a very bad shape the fort is more of ruins and a source of bricks for the locals than anything else. There was not a single guard or tourist beside us, though we saw some bikes parked near the entrance which instead of a magnificent gate like most forts was just a big gaping hole in the wall. The parapet was broken at many places and one portion of the wall was lying on the ground. The whole wall had hundreds of bushes growing on it and at many places bricks were missing. It appeared they were being regularly removed by locals to construct their homes.

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Holy Muktinath And Beautiful Mustang- Part 2

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I came back to hotel and joined my friends for our journey to Muktinath. Today we would pass through the village Kagbeni to reach Muktinath. Jomsom and Kagbeni is the main gateway of Muktinath. We drove only a few minutes and reached the riverbed of Kali Gandaki. Around that place Mr. Bachchan’s film “Khuda Ghawa’ was shot and our driver was more interested in showing us the shooting spots. But we were more excited to the adventurous drive over the riverbed. I peeped outside the window and saw wheels of our vehicle were rolling inside the river water. We crossed the river Kali Gandaki and started ascending through the rocky mountain road.

The climate and landscape all around looked like a rain shadow region of Himalaya, very similar to those of Ladakh region. It’s Mustang! A lost kingdom in Himalayas! We stopped and looked around. Far on the foothills of Mt. Dhaulagiri the view of tiny town Jomsom was awesome.

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Holy Muktinath And Beautiful Mustang

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It is not a star category hotel but undoubtedly the best of the lot. Hotel owner endeavoured to preserve the past glory by hanging photographs of Mr Bachchan with him and some film shots of ‘Khuda Gawah’ on the walls. Staying in this hotel was comfortable; it had 24 hours hot water facility and free wifi. The foods were nice but they cost too high.

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Hornbill Festival –The Liveliest Festival of India, Day Two

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There we saw nothing like individual performances and all the tribes were dancing in a group. In every performance group of artists in colourful costumes began dancing slowly, made circles or some geometrical formations, gradually raised the tempo with steps and on reaching the climax, tempo was brought down again with a satisfying finale.

The tribes of Mizoram entered into the arena with their most popular Bamboo Dance. In that format of dance bamboos were placed and held horizontally across each other on the ground. While the boys tapped bamboos in rhythmic beats girls were dancing by stepping alternatively in and out to the beats with ease and grace.

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My day in Rashtrapati Bhawan

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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.

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Kareri Lake ~ a poetic trail

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Gaddis are basically a nomadic tribe who mainly lead a pastoral life depending on their cattle for their livelihood and wander in the high altitude alpine meadows for green and protein rich grass for their cattle and the nectar like pure water. These gaddis seem to be the happiest souls in the world without any worry cheering and living life happily in the lap of mother nature enjoying her eternal and purest beauty to the fullest. You envy at their life for a moment and then wish if you were born a gaddi, maybe in your next life…:)

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महाकालेश्वर दर्शन व पुन: दर्शन (भाग 9)

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महाकालेश्वर मंदिर एक परकोटे के भीतर स्थित है। गर्भगृह तक पहुँचने के लिए एक सीढ़ीदार रास्ता है। इसके ठीक उपर एक दूसरा कक्ष है जिसमें ओंकारेश्वर शिवलिंग स्थापित है। महाशिवरात्रि एवं श्रावण मास में हर सोमवार को इस मंदिर में अपार भीड़ होती है। मंदिर से लगा एक छोटा-सा जलस्रोत है जिसे कोटितीर्थ कहा जाता है। ऐसी मान्यता है कि इल्तुत्मिश ने जब मंदिर को तुड़वाया तो शिवलिंग को इसी कोटितीर्थ में फिकवा दिया था।

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