travel

To Chakrata, with my family and two dogs

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We , walked uphill and reached a lonely, newly built cottage which was uninhabited at that moment. We sat on the porch of the cottage and watched the color of the sky slowly changing as the sun started descending. The valley down below looked so beautiful. Smoke was coming out of the chimneys of some mud huts. The villagers have lit up the chulhas

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Spontaneously lazying at San Antonio, Texas

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stayed at El Tropicana hotel, along the Riverwalk at Lexington Avenuejust across the famous Tobin Centre for Performing Arts, by the Riverwalk. The lobby of the hotel is renovated but the rooms are quite old. The locality of our hotel was not so clamorous and the tranquil

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Bhutan : The Land of Thunder Dragon!

Bhutan : The Land of Thunder Dragon!

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Perched on a cliff-top, Bhutan’s Taktshang monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest, is one of the most breathtaking temples in the world. The Buddhist place of worship is built on a rock around 3,000m (10,000ft) above sea level and stands above a beautiful forest of blue pine and rhododendrons. The main temple complex was built in 1692 and is considered to be one of the holiest for the Bhutanese people. There are no proper roads and visitors have to trek for hours to reach the temple. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this site on a tigress’ back to subdue a local demon. Thereafter, he meditated here for three months. It is blessed and sanctified as one of Bhutan’s most sacred religious sites.
Apart from monastry, we visited old fort of Paro and museum and then started for next destination, i.e. Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan Royal Kingdom and power centre of the country (around 50 K.m. away from Paro) taking with us wonderful memories of beautiful Paro. Again following the same pattern, we reached Thimphu in the evening and stayed in hotel to get ourselves recharged for next day’s tryst with the capital city.

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Memories of Mewar (III): Udaipur, City of Lakes and Palaces.

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After visiting the Kumbhalgarh Fort, Ranakpur, the Krishna Temples at Kankroli and Nathdwara, and the Sajjan Garh Palace, we were now on the last leg of our trip to Mewar, Rajasthan, and had two full days to take in the beauty of Udaipur, the City of Lakes and Palaces. This beautiful city is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, ‘Most Romantic City of India’ and ‘The Kashmir of Rajasthan’.

Udaipur was the capital of the kingdom of Mewar, ruled by the Sisodia clan of Rajputs. The founder of Udaipur was Maharana Udai Singh II, father of Maharana Pratap. Udaipur was founded in 1559, when a hermit blessed the king and asked him to build has palace at a spot on the east ridge of the Pichola Lake. In 1568, the Mughal emperor Akbar captured Chittaurgarh, and Udai Singh moved the capital to the site of his new residence, which became the city of Udaipur. As the Mughal empire weakened over the years, the Sisodia Maharanas recaptured most of Mewar district. Udaipur remained the capital of the state, which became a princely state of British India in 1818.

After India’s independence in 1947, the Maharaja of Udaipur acceded to the Government of India, and Mewar was integrated into India’s Rajasthan state.

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Memories of Mewar (II): Kankroli, Nathdwara, and Sajjan Garh (Udaipur).

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The temple of Shrinathji at Nathdwara is among the most sacred places of worship for the followers of Lord Krishna. The idol is made of black stone and is said to have been brought here from Mathura in 1669 to protect it from the marauding Moguls under Aurangzeb’s rule.

The temple opens its doors to the public for worship seven times a day for just about half an hour each, and there is a huge crowd always waiting to rush in. Inevitably there is some pushing and jostling and you barely get a minute for darshan before you are pushed out to the exit, just like in a Mumbai local train. This makes the whole experience quite unpleasant, and the temple authorities should take the initiative to organise it in a better way. Some touts promise to get you in through the VIP channels, but they only serve as paid guides, and can do nothing when the push becomes a shove.

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Memories of Mewar (I): Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur.

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The fort is built on a hill at a height of 1100 metres and requires a considerable effort to climb to the top. But once you are in the palace at the top of the fort, also known as ‘Badal Mahal’, you are rewarded with awesome views of the forested Aravalli hills, with the Mewar region on the eastern side and Marwar region on the west. The forests surrounding the fort comprise the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary which is home to leopard, sloth bear, monkeys, wolf, jackal, sambar, peacock, jungle fowl and a host of other birds and animal species.
[caption id="attachment_94003" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Badal Mahal. Badal Mahal.[/caption]

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An Ode to Radhanagar Beach

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I had just arrived and a mere look at the beach is what made me fall with it! Let me describe what Radhanagar beach was like. The place was super clean and had a handful of tourists. Radhanagar beach was guarded by police officials who were also responsible for the safety of the tourists. Next to the beach was a famous hotel chain which provided accommodation in beautiful huts made of bamboos and natural products. The place was serene and calm.

The view of the blue sees was amazing and I had never seen such a beautiful shade of water. The sand was perfect and was near to white. Radhanagar beach also had tourist huts made completely of bamboos. Radhanagar beach is not for the ones who are looking for some action. The beach doesn’t have any facilities for snorkelling, scuba diving or boating.

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Hello Havelock!

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The Phoenix Bay Jetty is situated in the city and is home to all merchant vessels which are responsible for trade and commerce. The Jetty is the boarding point for the ones who want to visit Neil or Havelock Islands. We had our tickets in hand which were booked prior by Mr. Ravi (Tour Manager, Contact: 09434261219). The tickets for Havelock Islands are sold out within minutes. It is advisable to ask your agent/tour manger to get the same booked as soon as you land up in the city. There are private as well as government ship operators which provide connections to Neil and Havelock. Being the off season (August) the private operator (called as Makcruzz) was closed down and the only available option a government run ship.

The tag ‘Government’ automatically lowers the standards and gives me a bad impression of what so ever even before I see it. Anyways, the ship that we had to board was called ‘M.V Jollybuoy’. We were booked in the only available option of seating lounge. One needs to spot his vessel and then proceed for boarding. As we stepped inside the ship, we were greeted by the Chief Officer of the ship who also checked our tickets. He later on transferred us to the seating hall. The so called seating hall had three rows and seats faced opposite to each other. It also had a television set which was cleverly hidden in one of the compartments. The hall seemed more like my seamanship class room with lots of safety boards and demonstrative visuals. Good enough! The ship departed right on time at 0630 and that is when I got to know that we can go on the bridge.

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Baratang: A Tribal Treat

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Long back, a group of tourists shot a video of the Jarawas and uploaded the same on the web. According to the United States, this act was not justified and it was classified as hindrance to the tribal life of the Jarawas. The issue was raised out loud and was finally brought up to the Indian Government. After all sought of discussions and panel meetings, the government decided to offer protection to the community. The jungle was then handed over to the police and CCTV cameras were also installed amidst the wild. A convoy system was setup wherein a convoy of vehicles at specific time will be accompanied by the Police officials to cross the jungle from Jirkatang to Baratang and vice versa. The government also banned the use of mobiles and cameras in between the journey. The first convoy had to depart at 0600 hours and we were to go in the same.

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Setting Sail to the Three Islands

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Always remember to carry your ID Card along with you as it is need at almost every tourist spot in the Andamans. The ferries depart every hour and we were to go by the 0930 one. We were not offered any lifejackets and the ferry setup made me worry. Safety was on compromise but yet again one doesn’t have any another option. Recently, a ferry sailing from North Bay to Ross Island sunk and as many as 21 people died. Why can’t we follow safety guidelines rather than waiting for accidents to take place? As soon as the boarding began, I was the first one to step in and occupy the seat ahead of the wheel room.

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Chandigarh

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“Try the pancakes, with honey – they are good” She suggests.

I nod and add a masala tea to the order. Her phone rings while she is scanning the menu. “An omelet for me…” she rushes out of the café to talk.

I find a corner table and start scanning my mobile for morning news. The café rings with laughter suddenly and I pull my face to see some young girls giggling their way in. She’s still talking on the phone outside the door, shifting herself from one leg to other.

There’s cassia blooming outside on a tree behind her. Surprised at its own fertility his young flower laden branches are struggling against the bitter January wind. Perhaps, the nature wants to have spring early this year.

My eyes focus back to her slightly troubled face. I wonder…

The tea arrives and while I soak in its aroma, the pancakes too. They are good – these guys at Nik’s – they won’t serve the omelet until she’s here.

She comes back in pulling her warm coat closer; her face is back to her usual blank-happiness state.

“How is it?”

“Ummm… pancakes are good, masala tea is better at CCD!”

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