Cities

Road Journeys – Dwarka to Jamnagar: Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary

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Excitedly, without caring I entered through the bushes and soon found a wide spread wet land with thousands of birds hovering, nesting, feeding, fishing and swimming. A dusty path on the right leads towards the wet land with ample water for the water birds for their activities. A little further is a watch tower where the track ends at the banks. The tower was almost abandoned, but the view around was so enticing that I cynically could not stop myself from reaching atop despite my wife’s skepticism. My extra-zoom camera captured whatever within range and my nature crazy mind was carried away with inveigle of ensnarement.

It is pertinent to mention that once you happen to visit the park, don’t forget to carry good quality binoculars and extra zoom cameras. Most of the photos clicked by me are on digital zoom, despite of 50x compatibility. It is wise to carry a tri-pod to avoid blurred results due to trembling on digital zoom.

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Road journeys – Diu to Porbandar, Land of the Father of Nation

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“Mangrol is an important harbour as far as the fish industry is considered. There are many fisheries located here and exports to many European nations. The fishermen of Mangrol are infamous for being caught many-a-times by the Pakistan Coast Guard for entering their naval territories in search of fish”.

We were looking forward to see the much heard and boasted coastal highway running parallel to the Arabian Sea. Though almost the entire highway runs along the coast but the sea or its shores is visible only for a stretch of one kilometer. After long wait we finally reached a concrete fly-over kind of bridge at Madhavpur. The sight of infinitive majestic blue of Arabian Sea on our left at a hand shaking distance and rows of palms and greenery comprising tall pillars with massive blades of the wind mills standing erect with pride & humility on the right was like reaching a dream land. The SUZLON wind-mills claim providing 24 hour power to the state. According to official data, wind power generations capacity in the state has increased a staggering ten times in just six years. As per C-WET data, the total installed capacity in Gujarat stood at 3093 MW.

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MALAYSIA TRULY ASIA (Kuala Lumpur & Genting Highland)

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We started our visit from Putrajaya. It is a planned Capital city located at 25 Km south of KL & 20 Km from KL International Airport .Most of the government offices are shifted here from KL , due to over crowding & congested place. Putrajaya is still nature. Lush greenery, botanical gardens are spread across the landscape enhanced by large bodies of water and wetlands. Five confluences meet at the north forming a main waterway which flows across the city area.

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ब्रज भूमि भ्रमण : मथुरा-वृंदावन के कुछ दर्शनीय स्थल

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निधिवन में विचरने के पश्चात् अभी भी मंदिरों के द्वार खुलने में पर्याप्त समय था. वृंदावन में आकर वृंदावनी लस्सी का मजा अगर नहीं लिया तो वृंदावन का भ्रमण अधूरा ही है. भूख भी लगी हुए थी तो कुछ खाने-पीने के साथ वृंदावनी लस्सी का मज़ा उठाने का यही सही समय था. बाकि बचे समय को श्री यमुना जी का तट पर व्यतीत करने का विचार कर पग यमुना तट की ओर चल पड़े. श्री यमुनाजी भगवान् श्रीकृष्ण की अनेक लीलाओं की साक्षी है. श्री यमुनाजी के तट पर बैठकर भगवन की चीर-हरण, कालिया-दमन आदि अनेक लीलाओं के दृश्य आँखों के सामने तैरने लगते हैं. श्री यमुना जी कि रेत में बच्चे क्रीड़ा करते हुए गीले रेत में सराबोर होकर आनंद के खजाने को खोदने लगे. और धीरे-धीरे समय मंदिरों के द्वार खुलने का हो गया.
सबसे पहले वृंदावन के प्राचीन श्री बांके बिहारी जी मंदिर के दर्शन के लिए मंदिर द्वार पर द्वार खुलने की प्रतीक्षा करने लगे. बांके बिहारी मंदिर भारत के प्राचीन और प्रसिद्ध मंदिरों में से एक है। बांके बिहारी कृष्ण का ही एक रूप है जो इसमें प्रदर्शित किया गया है। इसका निर्माण सन 1864 में स्वामी हरिदास ने करवाया था. वृंदावन में आने वाला प्रत्येक दर्शनार्थी इस मंदिर में श्री बांके बिहारी जी के दर्शन अवश्य करके अपने यात्रा को सफल करने का प्रयत्न करता है.

अन्य प्रसिद्ध मंदिरों में कृष्ण बलराम मंदिर (इस्कॉन टेम्पल) जो कि अंग्रेजों का मंदिर नाम से भी प्रसिद्द है. ISCON के संस्थापक स्वामी प्रभुपाद जी के आदेशानुसार इस मंदिर का निर्माण सन 1975 में करवाया गया. विश्वभर के प्रसिद्द इस्कॉन मंदिरों में से एक वृंदावन का ये एक अतिप्रसिद्ध मंदिर है. वर्षभर इस मंदिर में पूरे विश्व के कृष्ण-भक्तों का यहाँ आना-जाना लगा रहता है. मंदिर में प्रवेश करते ही स्वामी प्रभुपाद जी के महामंत्र (हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे. हरे राम हरे राम राम राम हरे हरे) का मानसिक जाप स्वतः ही प्रारम्भ हो जाता है. मंदिर में सतत चलने वाला महामंत्र का संकीर्तन आगंतुकों को मंत्रमुग्ध कर दर्शन के साथ नर्तन करने को विवश कर देता है.

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Macau – Not just the Casino place

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So, back to Macau trip, we reached the Macau Ferry terminal around 7:30, it is Visa on arrival and good part is that no Visa fees, had immigration formalities, Amit had a little issue at the immigration counter due to some glitch done by immigration officer, but it got sorted out soon. We inquired about the taxi for Venetian hotel and found that Venetian and other major hotels provides free shuttle service from Ferry terminal to there hotel, we came out and waited few minutes for Venetian shuttle. Venetian hotel is on Cotai Strip which is on the other side of the main business centre of Macau, it took us about 45 minutes to reach Venetian. As it was night, all the casinos, down town, bridge all were glowing with beautiful lights, our face were also glowing with lots of excitement, I don’t know what excitement, whether it was reminding Vegas memories or Gambling or what?? We found MGM, Galaxy, Hard Rock and few more hotels on the way, Galaxy is huge and looks like a palace of some King. After reaching Venetian, it took us about 15 minutes to find the check-in counter as this is also a very huge hotel, check-in was quick and we were allocated adjacent rooms on 10th floor.

Next day we planned for Macau trip, we booked a guided bus tour “Macao Discovery Tour” from the hotel itself through “Cotai Travel”, tickets were like HKD 400 each person and it was a 4 hour tour. We had lunch in the Desi restaurant “Golden Peacock”, food was very good, I told restaurant manager that this food is even better then few North Indian restaurants in Bangalore, and he kind of a offended and said sarcastically that “Sir, even better then many restaurants in Delhi”, I was not convinced though. Well, after lunch, we headed towards the lobby to catch the tour guide. After few minutes of wait, our guide arrived, explained few things and took out a flag and asked us to follow her and watch out for the flag wherever we go, this will help all to stay together. Then I noticed several flags with different colours in the lobby itself and all the sights we visited as well.

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Bone Church of Kutna Hora

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The guide there gave us a leaflet and the (short) story behind the church goes like this
“The tradition in this town was that whenever any influential person of the city died his bones were used to be donated to the church and buried under it. Around 18th Century the city was hit by plague and a large number of population died. The supply of the bones was too much to handle for the church, so they dig up a large area under the church and dumped all the bones there. Still many were left, one of the rich of the city hired some workers and used these bones to create what you see in the pics ”
The center of the church has a grand Chandelier, all of bones. The special thing about this chandelier is that you will find each bone that exists in human body as a part of it. You will be amazed to see the beautiful patterns created with human bones and the number of humans “consumed” to create this one structure.

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Self-drive in Central Europe/ Alps – II (Itinerary & Car rental)

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The rule says that Schengen Visa should be sought from the country which you visit for the main business. Rule of thumb is, the country where you plan to stay for maximum period of time should be the one to issue you the Schengen. Maximum number of days rule, however, may not hold good in some cases, e.g. if you intent to spend max time in the country which is not of your main business.

In our case, we approached Czech Embassy for the visa, since we were to spend maximum period (about 6 days) there.

Schengen Visa regime has also altered the procedure for entry into EU zone. For instance, since we took a FINNAIR flight, we changed flight at Helsinki. Now, after landing at Helsinki Airport, we shifted into ‘EU Zone’ part of the terminal. So, it was here in Helsinki that we underwent immigration/custom checks. Thereafter, once in EU part, all flights within EU were like domestic flights, despite flying from one country to the next.

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Self-drive in Central Europe/ Alps – I (Intro)

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In the course of our travel, we stayed in a variety of accommodations, including pensions, home-stays , tent (tipi, as it is called locally, located in the midst of Slovak wilderness where Sharmi heard scratching noise on the outside in the middle of night) and an apartment, which was vacated by the occupant for our stay. In many places, we had kitchens to ourselves.

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झीलों का शहर और बारिश की रिमझिम (उदयपुर में दो दिन)

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सिटी पैलेस का भ्रमण पूर्ण करने के पश्चात अगले आकर्षण गुलाब बाग़ जाने के लिए सिटी पैलेस से बाहर निकलते ही ऑटो तैयार खड़े थे, उनमे से ही एक ऑटो पर सवार होकर गुलाब बैग कि सैर पर चल पड़े. गुलाब बाग़ का नाम सुनने में तो केवल बाग़ का ही परिदृश्य आँखों में घूमता है, पर इस बाग़ में पर्यटको विशेषकर बच्चों को लुभाने के लिए जन्तुशाला (zoo), टॉय ट्रैन कि सवारी, झूले, जलपान आदि कई अन्य मनोरंजक सुविधाएं भी उपलब्ध हैं. बच्चों के लिए तो गुलाब बाग़ कि सैर बहुत ही आनंददायक लग रही थी. इस समय बारिश भी रुक गयी थी. लेकिन झूले अभी भी गीले थे और उनके आस-पास पानी भरा होने के कारण बच्चे झूलों का पूरा मज़ा नहीं ले सके. इस कमी को टॉय ट्रैन कि सवारी ने पूरा कर दिया. ट्रैन में बैठे-बैठे ही पूरे बाग़ के भ्रमण के साथ ही जन्तुशाला (zoo) देखते हुए बच्चे-बड़े सभी रोमांचित हो उठे.
गुलाब बाग़ कि सैर के बाद हमारा अगला पड़ाव दूध तलाई नामक स्थान था. दूध तलाई उदयपुर का एक बहुत ही सुन्दर आकर्षण है. दूध तलाई नाम का एक छोटा सा ताल लेक पिछोला से सटा हुआ है. इसके आस पास का दृश्य बहुत ही सुहाना और मन को मोह लेने वाला है. यहाँ के मुख्य आकर्षणों में पैदल बोट, मोटर बोट, कैमल राइड, सनसेट पॉइंट, करनी माता मंदिर, रोपवे ट्राली आदि हैं. यहाँ चारों और मनोरंजन, रोमांच और प्राकृतिक सौंदर्य फैला हुआ है. दिन भर के सैर-सपाटे के बाद दूध तलाई कि ये शाम बहुत ही आरामदायक लग रही थी.

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Some Days in Gujarat…. Adalaj Ni Vav and GandhiNagar sojourn

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Legend says that Mahmud Begara was mesmerised by the beauty of the Queen Roopoba, the wife of the chieftain and had promised to complete the structure if the queen marry the ruler as the Vaghela ruler had died till then. Structure was completed by Mahmud but the queen instead of marrying him, committed suicide by jumping from the uppermost story of this step well.

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Dekha 1 khwab to…Seattle Tulip Festival

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We visited Tulip festival first time in April 2002, and after that it was a yearly to do event. I didn’t knew about Tulip festival till my friend Amit asked me if we are interesting to go there coming weekend. I said yes, I was having office provided rental car that time, and pretty excited for a long drive. But my friend shattred my dream saying that he will take his car as I am not not an experienced driver in United States, I argued for some time without any luck. Anyway, it was a sunny day, not very common in Seattle, we took I-5 North towards Vancouver, I-5 connects West side of Canada and Mexico, passing through Washington, Oregon and California states. We were 3 families and it took about 2 hours of drive as I-5 is crowded, seems that everybody was driving towards Tulips. We took Exit 231 for Tulips, and I think it was wrong exit or it was much closer to Tulip fields.
Prasad, one of the other friend, took the charge as guide as he was supposed to be knowledgable about different Tulip fields. There are multiple Tulip fields, and you can see different colors of Tulip flowers like red, yellow, orange, white, magenta, some mixed color Tulips. We entered the first field, and it was the WOW moment, a Kodak moment, “Dekha 1 khwab to ye silsile…” moment. As it was a sunny day, place was crowded, everybody was taking pictures, we also settled ourselv and took few pictures. I didn’t had a any camera that time, so I was completely dependent on my friends.

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