Kuldhara - Abandoned Village, near Jaisalmer

Kuldhara village is considered as one of the most haunted and cursed place. Residents of this village abandoned this place one night to never return back.

Varanasi

...is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.....By Mark Twain.

Submarine Museum - Vizag

This is only one of its kind, Submarine now a museum....!

Bhangarh

One of the most haunted place on the planet. Staying after sunset and going before sunrise is STRICTLY prohited by law.

Luxembourg

Enjoy boating in the green waters of Luxembourg and park your boats in the above parking bays.

Mitawali

The Ancient Temple which inspired the design of Indian Parliament House.

May 24, 2015

Teej Mahotsav - Jaipur

Teej festival marks the arrival of the Sawan (month of monsoon) and is celebrated for two days in hindu month of Shravan (July-August). Teej is celebrated in many parts of the country; however when it comes to celebrations Jaipur clearly steals the show. The scent of the soil wetted by monsoon rains on the desert region is simply amazing and absorbing.
An extravagant procession scheduled for 2 days in the lanes of the old city brings the whole city out on the roads to mark as welcome of rain gods. Teej Mahotsav (festival) creates an aura of a grand carnival covered in blanket of age old traditions. The grand procession gets a traditional start from City Palace, Tripoliya Gate.
 



Traditional Rajasthani dances enlightens the procession
Teej festival is dedicated to Eternal or divine couple of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. One day before this festival is celebrated ladies put Mehandi on their hands and traditional sweet "Ghevar (घेवर )" is consumed. Ghevar is prepared only during this time of the year. Girls wear new clothes and mothers-in-law gift jewellery to newly married daughters-in-law on her first Teej after marriage.
Goddess Teej Mata in Palki                                                                         The procession
In Rajasthan Camels are part of life and they are beautifully decorated and are intricate part of Teej Festival. Also many artists showcase their skills:


Elephants enjoy a special place in Indian culture as an eternal omen of good luck. Decorated elephants are a real delight to the eyes.


Decorating the elephants is an activity in which you can also be a part. Contact Mr. Dinesh Soni (dineshsoni_70@yahoo.com) for indulging many more such activities.

This festival is attended by tourists from all parts of the world. You have to be a part of the moment to experience the magic moments in the Pink city of Jaipur. Make your plans for upcoming Teej Festival, on 17 - 18 August 2015...




I was totally unaware about this grand magnum opus, but surely this has the potential to be one of the most grand celebrations on this earth. Keep travelling Guys... 

May 2, 2015

The Blue City of Jodhpur...

City of Jodhpur, also known as Blue City has been a travellers delight since times. City of Jodhpur has something which is very unique to Jodhpur only. Mighty Mehrangarh Fort and royal grandeur of Umaid Bhawan Palace has made Jodhpur frequently being listed as most extraordinary places to visit and stay, most recently in 2014 by Lonely Plant.
Mehrangarh Fort on top of the hill                                                            Umaid Bhawan Palace
To explore the royality of Jodhpur, we landed up in Jodhpur one fine morning and first destination on the list was "Umaid Bhawan Palace". One can book an auto for Rs. 500 and a taxi (AC) for Rs. 1100-1200 for a complete city tour.

One of the largest private residences in the world, this huge architectural giant has 347 rooms and is still the main residence royal family of Jodhpur. In sync with the name this was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh (1929 – 1942). Built in local sandstone, this is one of the finest examples of fusion of Indo-western architecture. A unique feature of this palace is that the sandstone blocks have been put together in a special system of interlocking without any mortar binding.



A portion of the palace now serves as a luxury hotel, frequented by renowned dignitaries and celebrities from every part of the world. Another portion is now an exquisite museum which houses model aeroplanes, weapons, antique clocks, watches, crockery, hunting trophies and variety of antiques. Check out a wall painting depicting devil Ravana kidnapping goddess Seeta. This palace is full of such antiques...
 
 
 
 
After cherishing the grandeur of Umaid Bhawan it was the time to feel the might of "Mehran Garh".

Situated on a 150 m high hill Mehran Garh Fort is a fort, which is formidable as well as magnificent fort in Rajasthan. Rao Jodha ladi the foundation for this fort on 12th May1459, but the fort has been groomed by subsequent rulers of Jodhpur ever since.
 
 

As with most of the forts this fort too is associated with legends, like:
  • The hill was known as Bhakurcheeriya (Mountain of birds) and Cheeria Nathji, an old hermit used to reside here in the cave which is situated just at the entrance of the fort. Disturbed by the construction of the fort he left his cave and cursed the invaders of his solitariness,” Jodha, May your citadel ever suffer a scarcity of water” In order to appease the gods, a house for Cheeria Nathji in the new city and a temple in the fort very near the cave the hermit used for meditation was constructed by Rao Jodha.
  • To make the site auspicious, Jodha buried a man, Rajiya Bambi (Meghwal) alive in the foundations in lieu of promise to look after his family forever. The promise has been honoured by Rathores till date.
  • What is not established truly is that along with Rajiya Bambi, three more were buried alive in the foundations.

Lets leave the legends and enjoy the grand fort.
 
With constricted entrance roads paved with boulders/ barriers, narrow staircases and concealed positions for soldiers to attack the incoming enemy, this Fort is a classic example of warfare architecture.
 
Carved panels and porches, elaborately adorned walls and brilliant stained glass windows make for the brilliant splendour of royal residence. Its walls, which are up to 36m high and 21m wide have protected some of the most beautiful and historic palaces in Rajasthan
 
 
 

Jodhpur is also known as “Blue City”, reason is visible apparent. All the houses near the vicinity of Mehrangarh fort have terraces painted in blue.
Breathtaking view of the city from Mehrangarh Fort
 
Coming down from the Mehrangarh fort on left is Jaswant Thada, the royal marble cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. Also known as Taj Mahal of Marwar, it was built by Maharaja Sardar Singh, son of Jaswant Singh - II. The main memorial has been built like a temple with intricately carved marble stone.
 
 Passing through a secluded road, the passage itself presents a mystic aura. Apart from the main cenotaph there are some more cenotaphs adjacent to this, looks like Stonehenge of Jodhpur.
 



Last spot in the itineray was Mandore Gardens. Mandore was the former capital of Maharajas of Marwar and is located about 5 miles north of Jodhpur. Again in this place are the cenotaphs of Jodhpur's former rulers. However unlike other cenotaphs typical of Rajasthan, these are built similar to Hindu temples, four storeys high, fine columns and an elegant top, in red sandstone. These cenotaphs are set in beautiful landscaped gardens.
 
Major attraction here is “hall of heroes”, which is dedicated to various deities and Rajput folk heroes and the statues are carved out of rock and painted in bright colours.

 

In the next door you will find brightly coloured images of the various Hindu Gods. Its extensive gardens with lot of Gray Langurs or Leaf Monkeys make it a very popular local attraction. Take care of your cameras and mobile phones.
 
 
Not only the above mentioned attractions, city of Jodhpur is in itself an experience to cherish. Do not forget to savour the delicacies like Pyaz Kachori, Mirchi vada, Kair Sangri ki subzi, Gulab Jamun ki subzi, Makhaniya Lassi and everything which comes your way. Do try snacks from local shops, they will make your taste buds go ga-ga...
 
Jodhpuri Jutis (shoes), Suitings and do not forget to shop handicrafts and souvenirs from shops, which are too many in Jodhpur...

Keep travelling Guys...

April 16, 2015

Chalets, Naldehra - Mystic Solace in the Himalayas...

Pampers, Grace And Greet Yourself At Chalets Naldehra!
At times you feel like planning a trip to a place which is far off from the city crowd and is quite enough to revive your thoughts. Few days back, while having similar desires, I went to explore ‘The Chalets’ on an invited stay. It surely turned out as to be a real stress buster for me.
 
The Chalets is tucked almost 22 kms away from the famous hill station ‘Shimla’. It took us almost 3.5 hours to reach the destination from the Kalka Railway station, which is supposedly the closest station to the place. On arrival, we were greeted with some hot ‘masala tea’, something that you might crave for when it’s freezing outside. Amish Sud, the Managing Director of the property then gave a broad overview of how precisely the things were planned there.
 
The owners have involved almost every single form of recreational activity at the place. They had it all to make the place feel like a ‘home away from home’ with exclusively designed separate pine log cottages for their guests with high sense of privacy. While based upon their course of needs, guests can choose either a bunglow, or an apartment or family cottages or even double room.
 
 
Our spot for stay was a beautiful cottage, right in the middle of the property which gave us a clear sight of the sunrise/sunset. It was way too mesmerizing. Something I found to be as a major setback for me was the ‘terror of monkeys’, they just happened to appear from anywhere and at anytime. But then of-course when you are there at mountains, you just don’t have a choice of escaping from them, all you can do is, stay alert!
 
Going further, I found that the different in-house arrangements made by the property owners were enough to relax and pamper my self. Well to start on my day I chose to go for the royal sport first and then for the pamper stuff. There is a Naldehra golf course, right next to the property at a mere distance of 5 minutes.
 
Might sound crazy but the longing that I showed for reaching there at the ground was ironic to the knowledge I hold about it. I hardly knew anything about this sport. It was as new and fresh to me as a play school to a three year old kid going there for the first time. It was just the name and action that I knew. The coach there gave me a good insight of it and I even tried hard to make few good shots at least. But then like I said, I was a fresher to it so couldn’t manage to do with it really well. Instead I enjoyed taking pictures at that beautiful landscape.
 
After coming back from there, I decided to relax my cells a bit. The house got it all ranging from a soothing spa, temperature controlled pools, health club facilities of international standards including massages, sauna, Jacuzzi pool, steam room and all those things that you may seek at a leisure trip.
 
The delicately built cottages interestingly owe their design to the Finland– based architecture; also the lodges used to build the cottages are all the way from Finland, the place of their origin. Evening went on to be extremely soothing followed by perfect dinner arrangements at the revolving restaurant. The staff remained on their toes to shape the things well for us. The service was quick and apt. There even had arrangements for the live setup for BBQ in the garden pavilion and a live kitchen as well. During our stay there, we tasted the Chinese, North Indian and Italian cuisine. All those dished served there had a natural tint n’flavor within them.


Chalets, Naldehra happened to be a perfect off-beat destination for me. Such small trips, far off in the mountains can surely play as a complete stress buster.

Keep travelling Guys...

Contributed by Kamya Kandhari
 

March 16, 2015

Hyatt Place, Hampi


Work, relax and enjoy the travel to one of the UNESCO heritage sites...
Though located adjacent to one of the biggest steel plants in India, Hyatt Place offers rather a refreshing staying option in Vijaynagar. For business visitors to JSW Steel, this is one of the most ideal accommodation.

Located inside JSW, Vidyanagar lush green township this is an ideal place to enjoy and walk around in exquiste surroundings. One can enjoy refreshing morning walk and relaxing evening walks in the arms of nature.



 




Rooms are well maintained and decorated in the spirit of hampi or this region. All the rooms are decorated with caricatures of beautiful topography of this region.

On your visit to hampi region you can try searching for this arrangement of stones.


One can also enjoy bare feet walk in the well maintained lawns.









Restaurant on the ground floor serves delicious and to the order prepared food. Be it Chinese, or Italian, the service is quite fast. Breakfast is especially fantastic with huge variety to satiate your taste buds. I loved the Omlettes they serve during the breakfast...



Attractions nearby

  1. Hampi - 27Km. : Ruins from Vijaynagar empire, 700 years old. UNESCO World heritage site.
  2. Itagi - 80 Km. : Known for Mahadeva temple, Chalukya Style
Facilities for guests:
Complimentary Breakfast, Parking, Complimentary Wi-Fi

Nearest Airport : Bangalore (350 Km.), Hubli (160 Km.)
Nearest Railway Station: Toranagallu (5 Km.)

February 17, 2015

Managing money while exploring offbeat destinations


Money, like emotions, is something you must control carefully to keep your life on the right track…
 
Exploring Offbeat destinations is a specialised travel activity which is very satisfying for a traveller. Being located in not so visited areas, it is not always possible to have first-hand information about the place. Due to this it is utmost necessary to keep yourself equipped enough financially for any unforeseen event. Unforeseen event is only running out of sufficient cash.
 
 
 
Would like to share some money management experiences to keep handy while exploring Offbeat destinations:



 
1.      Cash Management: Money is the best friend which can rescue you in case of any unforeseen event, so: 
a.      Make sure that you carry ample amount of cash, atleast sufficient for fuel, food and accommodation requirements.
b.     Keep currency notes in smaller denominations too as getting change for bigger notes can be a problem for very small merchants/ shopkeepers in remote places.
                                                  i.      Indulging in shopping for the local delicacies/ special handicrafts is a sheer luxury, as you will not find such stuff in cities. So if you are out of cash at this moment, you are putting at stake the joy of your otherwise happening journey.
 
2.      Usage of Electronic Money (Credit Card/ Debit Card):
a.      ATM’s are not available everywhere and Credit cards are not so widely accepted
b.     Even highway filling stations and hotels/ food outlets  at smaller places/ remote locations at times do not accept credit cards
c.      Take caution in usage of Credit cards/ Debit cards to safeguard yourself from any chances of fraud. I personally prefer to pay by cash for fuel stations which are located outside Tier-1/ Tier-II cities.
 
3.      ATM’s: Always keep a note of last working ATM on your way, so that you can at least have an option of going back to fetch money. Will advise to also carry ATM cards banks like SBI, PNB, ICICI…) as they have better penetration of ATM’s in remote places.


As offbeat destinations travel is gradually catching the fancy of the travellers, some of the prominent hotels/ resorts’ chains are setting up their properties in these locations. Pre-booking these can save a lot of money and also the hassles of paying by cash while checking out. Also you can earn cashback/ privilege points. Always check out with them for their affiliation with rewards program and acceptance of bit coin currency.

Please note some of these chains might not accept payment by Credit Card/ Debit Cards while checking out. However they are accepting payment by electronic means while booking. This I have personally faced, however the resort was co-operating enough to send a person with me till the next available ATM (approx. 35 kms from the resort’ location) to collect the cash.

Above all spend wisely to have non-stop fun during your explorations. Happy travelling friends...

February 1, 2015

Dudhsagar Falls - THE MILKY WAY

Dudhsagar Falls aka Sea of Milk- a beautiful tie-red waterfall located on the Mandovi River in the Indian state of Goa on Goa's border with Karnataka state is the place I have been wanting to embark in my travel list since a long time.

Dudhsagar derives its name from the clouds of foam that form at the waterfalls.

According to the legend, a powerful king who ruled the Western Ghats had his palace in the forest. The king's daughter used to bath in the picturesque lake. She would have a jug full of sugared milk after the bath.

Once while she was just having her milk after a bath, a handsome prince saw her. Embarrassed, the princess poured milk in front of her so that it could form a curtain while one of the maids rushed to get her the dress. Since then, the sugared milk (Dudh) poured by the princess is believed to be flowing in torrents as a tribute to the modesty of the princess.

All you need is a weekend to cover this lovely place if you stay in Bangalore. One fine day, all of a sudden, we booked train tickets from Bangalore to Londa Junction in Rani Chenamma Express for next day travel.
Around 8 AM on 18 April we reached Londa Junction and indeed that small station surprised us with its beautiful and breath freshening view.
After having fresh and hot VADA-PAV at railway station we boarded an autorikshaw and headed towards Ramnagar Bust stand which is around 4 KMs form station. 


Once reached there are two options available for Dhudhsagar.
1. Shared cab which will take and drop you back at Ramnagar costing around 2500 bucks (Inclusive of life jacket).

2. Go to Castle Rock station and jump on any passing by goods train - cost you zero bucks + free adventure, just you have to do is request the guard of train and trust me they don't mind at all.

So keeping adventure in mind we took a bus to Castle Rock station about 3-4 Kms from ramnagar bus stand.
The moment we reached station we saw one train passing by and ran as hard as possible to catch it, threw our bag-pack and hopped on it
Enjoyed the fascinating view throughout that small journey from back of the goods train along with simple and bighearted village people.








Around 13 tunnels will come across the entire journey which is beautiful.


Finally reached the ultimate spot in around 40 minutes. From this place you have to trek down a little to see the actual falls.


Small Peculiar Temple CUM Church adjacent to the Railway Track

No matter how tired you are or how much pain you are in, it will go away in a flick once you go into the waters. While standing exactly below the falls you will feel alive with every droplet falling on your head from a huge height  - Every massage or any acupuncture is nothing in front of this.

INSTRUCTION - Life guards will not allow in the waters without life jacket so please acquaint yourself with the same.

Its better to go in little off-season because in rainy seasons you will not be able to enter into the falls due to dangerous gushing water.


Beautiful view from bottom with water flowing on top of railway tracks. In rainy seasons Dudhsagar falls is really strong with plenty of water making the passengers of passing by train completely wet.
Actual tie-red waterfall with three streams of water coming from different directions.




After completely drenching our souls in water for more than 2 hours finally it was time to say goodbye to this lovely place However this is one place where I will want to go again and enjoy the Dhudhsagar falls.

Enthused by the waters, this place will always be special to me. If you have more than weekend in your bucket you can cover this place and head towards GOA also which is around 100 KM - 3 Hours away.


KEEP TRAVELLING...!











January 2, 2015

Akal Wood Fossil Park, Jaisalmer

One of the most sought after heavens for history lovers is "Land of Rajasthan". Every lane of Rajasthan is a testimony to this. People come to this colourful land to cherish the royalties and glorious past of India.

If history is only sought, there is something here which is much older than the history itself. YES, this place has been a testimony to Juraassic age, to be honest pre Jurassic Era. History buff inside me was getting curious as we were approaching "Akal Wood Fossil Park".

Get ready to take a pluge beyond History. Akal Wood Fossil Park takes you back to the pre Jurassic era, 180 million years back! In this area, once stood a forest 180 millions years ago. Then the area submersed in to the sea and the tree trunks got preserved in the form of fossils.

The fossils of trees' trunks are preserveed in this park, just like mummies in many parts of the world.
A silent witness to pre-jurassic era...
This fossil park is spread in 10 sq, km. and 21-hectares is preserved area for 25 fossilized tree trunks. Fossilized tree trunks are of various sizes with the largest being 13 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width. 

Red Wood and Teak wood fossils, just at the entrance of the park:

From a distance it was difficult to believe that the above fossils were wood, once upon a time. When I tried to feel the surface, the texture was very smooth - not unlike any stone. Marks created by any woodpecker like bird are alrealy visible, lets have a look from close up:


A seed from that era which also got preserved along with the trees:
 



If you feel lonely while roaming around, do not worry there are a few EMUs in the park too. Do not worry they are friendly to visitors:

Akal Wood Fossil Park is situated at a distance of 17 km. from Jaisalmer on Barmer road. Shared autos and busses ply on this route. One can also book an auto to and fro for Rs. 350/-. Autos/ vehicles are allowed to go inside the park for a very nonimal charge.

Enjoy the journey to the pre jurassic era. Akal Wood Fossil Park is definitely  must visit in Jaisalmer itinerary.



December 6, 2014

Kuldhara - Curse of the Exodus

"A COMMUNITY VANISHED OVERNIGHT"
 
 
Where people used to celebrate festivals, sit together in the night along side the bon fire and which was once an oasis in the Thar desert, is now an abandoned spot. Along with Bhangarh, this place Kuldhara is considered as one of the most haunted and cursed place.


Abandoned houses


Most of the curiosity is centered around the main village of Kuldhara where the head of Paliwal clan used to live. However there 84 more villages around Kuldhara which are lying abandoned.

Haunted lanes
If we take a plunge into the history lanes, all of the now lying abandoned places have been flourishing centres, way ahead of then civilizations. This is true for Bhangarh and I believe the same for Kuldhara too. So first look into the history of Kuldhara: Around 13th century, Paliwal clan migrated from Pali to settle in Kuldhara  due to tyranny of the Pali king. Majority of the clan members were belived to  have been brahmins, so mention of Paliwals come as Paliwal brahmins most of the times. 
  • With their knowledge and enterprising nature they turned Kuldhara (and 84 villages around Kuldhara) into a flourishing place for trade and commerce activities.
  • The Paliwals were skilled farmers and were adept in cultivating crops like wheat in the desert lands. Its true, they were masters in identifying rock layers underneath the sand which could hold the required quantity of water for cultivation. Such was effluence built into the region by Paliwals that each new Paliwal family was welcomed with a brick and a gold coin from every other family in the village. The brick for building a house and the gold to start a livelihood. I have not heard of such levels of prosperity and brotherhood in the history of mankind.
Then the question is why these people deserted this prosperous place. Some legends behind this: 

1.   The prosperity of Kuldhara had become a thorn in the eyes of Mughals/ other invaders. It is said that in the 18th century, a raid from the invaders resulted in the exodus of the Paliwal community from the Kuldhara area. It is belived that all the water sources and wells got poisoned due to dead animal carcasses, While leaving, a curse was put on the Kuldhara, which stays till date. 

2.     Once a prime minister of the region (Jaisalmer),  Diwan Salim Singh got captivated by a beautiful girl of this community and wanted to marry her.  When his proposal was not approved by the community, he threatened Kuldhara residents with dire consequences. To preserve their dignity and keep honor intact, Paliwals from Kuldhara and nearby 84 villages made an exit in one night (around 1825 - 1830). While leaving, a curse was put on the Kuldhara that this place will never see any inhabitation, which stays till date. 

3.     Taxes were increased by the government/ king to such an extent that residents had no option but to leave.
Widely believed and accepted reason is the 2nd one. However when looking at the condition of the houses, it looks highly improbable that this desertion took place only 200 years back. None of the houses have roof or even a part of roof intact. Houses look like they are lying in this state for much more than 2 centuries. Other reason to question this belief is that this was a peaceful exit, and residents took with them only  bare necessary stuff and there was no fight.
This cart got left behind, most probably there were no animals left to drive this with the Paliwals.
 So structure of the houses should have remained intact, albeit gradual deterioration with time. One house which is said to be of the head of the tribe has roof intact. Belief and logic do not coincide here, mystery is still unsolved.
 
Underground tunnels, which no one has dared to explore...
 
House is being renovated by ASI
I personally feel that something related to reason no. 1 is more appropriate. Generally raiders/ invaders after looting, used to destroy everything, India is a witness to many such raids. Whatever be the reason, the status of Kuldhara as a paranormal activity infested place is intact. Visitors to this place often complaint of uneasiness, touching on shoulders and sudden drop and rise in temperatures.
 
Around 19 km. from Kuldhara is Khaba fort, which again was abandoned along with the Kuldhara. Now ASI has taken over and converted it into a museum with ancient artifacts on display.
 
 
Walking around this fort gives a feeling associated with minimal human activity, however one can find lot of peacocks around this fort. From top of this fort one can another abandoned village with all the houses in ruins. This village was inhabited by  80 families of Paliwal brahmins and got abandoned along with Kuldhara desertion.
 
Now Paliwals reside in many parts of the country and doing well, but some of the Paliwal Brahmins do not celebrate Rakshabandhan till date. It is believed that they deserted Kuldhara on the day of Rakshabandhan.
The place is different and not so popular in the tourist circles, only visitors are inquisitive souls like us. Situated at a distance of 23 Kms. from Jaisalmer city, one can hire auto rickshaw or taxi to Kuldhara. However to include Khaba fort in your visit, take a taxi.

Kuldhara, as reported by Paranormal Society of Delhi: