trip

Himalayan Adventures: Finding Neverland

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Traveling to the rolling mountain-escape of Himalayas in Uttarakhand is always an enlightening experience, as much about spirit as about landscapes. The luxury of contrasting beauty manifest in sweeping valleys and undulating mountain peaks is akin to the difference between the void described by soul and the apparent divine perceived by heart. A journey to the “Devbhoomi”, abode of gods needs to be experienced. It’s a transcendental experience which can’t be shared…only told.

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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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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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The retreat of the tide

The Emerald Islands of Andaman and Nicobar-II

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Our plan was to take a government ferry to Havelock and halt there for two days. For our return journey we planned to take the Makruzz back to Port Blair. We had to wake up at 5 in the morning to catch the ferry which leaves at  6:30 am. The harbour at Port Blair is lively even at these early hours as it caters to to the goods coming in from the mainland, as well as from nearby countries like Thailand. The ferry which we were to travel on, was operated by the Shipping Corporation of India. Our reserved seats in the first class compartment akin to the Indian Railways chair car coaches made our travel comfortable. During the journey to Havelock, you are free to go on deck. Travelers can hear the soothing sound of the waves hitting the craft and enjoy the vast expanse of the ocean. The blue sea, and the green emeralds dotting them, complement each other, and add to the experience. After standing on deck for 15 minutes, we decided to get a quick nap. When we woke up, the ferry was docking at the Havelock Jetty. After getting off the ship, we were picked up by a taxi our friends had arranged.  We were dropped at our hotel, a government enterprise called the “Dolphin Hotel”. There are various grades of rooms available and it is important to reserve the rooms early.You may reserve the rooms through online payment on the website. Make sure to get a sea facing cottage. The drawback about Dolphin Hotel was  that though it was set in a nice sea-facing location, it did not have a beach.There are a multitude of options to stay at in at Havelock, which suit all budgets.

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Motorcycle Diaries. Road to Munsiyari…the Sound of Silence…

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There is so much to see – age-old photos, long-standing maps, coins from all over the world, documents, local utensils & other items, wind-up gramophones, hand-made saddlebags, wooden bottles, native dresses and attires, hand-crafted shoes…so much that I can’t portray it in words and even if I venture to, I need to write at least 10000 words!

With our hats off to Dr. Pangtey, Nitin and I came back for lunch to the hotel by 2:00pm. En route, we crossed several beautiful living mountain streams – there’s something magical about these streams, indescribable in words. I’ve always been fascinated by them…the mountain-lover in me wants to halt at everyone, wishes to explore the start of each such stream and secretly plans to some day even live next to one such stream!

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Motorcycle Diaries. Road to Ladakh… (Delhi – Kaza)

Motorcycle Diaries. Road to Ladakh… (Delhi – Kaza)

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As I rode though barren patches, I would not help admire the exquisiteness of the rocks all around – they were as spellbinding as the Grand Canyon, all through the journey on the Indo-China border. No images can describe this splendor!

During last 100kms, as the terrain turned bad to worse, I had consumed all my water. Thirsty and tired, I found water only at Dubling, after riding for over 3.5 hours. As I gulped down water, I couldn’t help observe that the same Kinley packaged water bottle we paid Rs.40/- at the HPTDC hotels (a premium of double the cost!) was being sold by this mom-&-pop shop at the MRP!

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Hundred in Gangtok – Part 5 (Final)

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But me and my camera was not having any desire of sleeping as I wanted to capture the beautiful Teesta river in my eyes as well in the camera lens. The views from the bus window were amazing. Early morning, cloudy weather, green high mountains and flowing Teesta; I could not ask more from the Nature. I clicked endless photographs. After some time it started raining which made the surrounding more beautiful. Around 7.30 we stopped in the middle near a small tea shop just near the banks of the Teesta. It was a great experience to have tea on the banks of Teesta while is was raining outside.

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Hundred in Gangtok – Part 4

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The very first place to visit was Tashi View Point. It was around a distance of 7 km from our hotel. It is an observation point at an altitude of 6000 ft developed be erstwhile king of Sikkim, Tashi Namgyal. On clear days in early morning, this is the best place in Gangtok to view the mighty Mount Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. One final destination still remained to visit and it was Ban Jhakhri Falls. It is a theme park surrounded by lush green forest on the outskirts of Gangtok.

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Hundred in Gangtok – Part 3

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Vehicles are not allowed on MG Marg like in most Mall Roads in any hill station. A large sign board welcomed us at MG Marg. We were completely stunned after witnessing MG Marg, the feeling was kind of a European city. Gangtok administration has developed and maintained it in very good manner. It has been divided into two lanes, one lane for one side walking. And the divider is not a typical road divider. A large number of beautiful plants with flowers give the feeling of a green belt to the divider. On both sides of divider, benches have been placed so that people can sit and enjoy their time with no hurry. I didn’t have an experience of this kind of setup before.

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