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Meiji Jingu, Shinto Shrine with a garden

The Meiji Jingu, or Meiji Shrine, is one of the most important tourist attractions in Tokyo. A long walk from the entrance gate amidst dense forest like plantations and lot of flowers provided a shot of fresh energy.

While I was getting myself aware about Meiji Shrine, came to know that this is a Shinto shrine. Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the divine souls of the Emperor Meiji and as his Empress Shoken, who passed away in 1912 and 1914 respectively. In order to commemorate their virtues forever, people donated more than 100,000 trees from all over Japan and overseas. This is how; a 175 acre evergreen forest was created in year 1920, which is now a home to many endangered plants and animals. Can’t express my respect to this noble way to remember and respect your loved ones, planting a tree. It needs to be replicated elsewhere as well to solve lot of environmental issues as well.
Shrine is a grand architecture, livid with lot of amazing people.

Inside the premises there is an interesting "Wish Tree," on which visitors write and hang their wishes. 

Also there is a picture gallery and museum on the premises. Shrine was destroyed in World War - II raids and was rebuilt in 1958.

On the way to the shrine, saw these barrels of wine. These wine barrels were gifted to Emperor Meiji by celebrated wineries Bourgogne in France. 
It was during the time when Japan just started opening up from an isolationist state to a modern nation by embracing goodness of western culture, however not at cost of leaving Japanese traditions. This is called, a perfect blending of modernity and traditional virtues. 
Nearby to above wine barrels were barrels of Sake (traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage). Vow.

Hold on, these barrels are offered every year to the shrine by breweries around Japan as a token of respect to Emperor Meiji and his consort and also as a prayer to continuous prosperity of Japanese Sake Industry. 
After visit to this shrine, I just recalled an old saying which I learnt from my father – Never forget your roots, real prosperity lies in taking pride in your culture, your values. That is perhaps a secret behind astonishing growth of Japan as a country and development as a society. 
Spots like Meiji Shrine are the ones which actually changes your outlook towards the world. It was a visit which was worth a hundred travels. I will say a must experience for first time travel to Japan.


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Mystery of Lakhamandal Temple

It was a delightful misty morning that started with music of birds chirping, which soon turned into a wonder morning with lakeside breakfast.
With whole day at our disposal and only 100 km. between us and Lakhamandal, there was no hesitation in taking the seats in our vehicle. Soon misty hills began to disappear as we started driving our car to reach out for the mysterious Lakhamandal temple. With connection going back to the times of Mahabharata, Lakhamandal temple is picturesque and fascinating at same time. Little we knew that we are about to visit a temple so sacred/ miraculous that even dead people come back to life for a while.
Enjoying one spot after another, we continued towards Lakhamandal. Road is in reasonably good condition, however is narrow at some stretched due to ongoing widening work. 
Lakhamandal temple is located on Yamunotri road in Jaunsar-Bawar district. With a couple of pit stops, it took us approx. 4 hours to reach the temple. 100m. walk from the parking, we were at the temple premises. 
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Asan Barrage - Waterfront stay with Nature


Along the scenic confluence of the river Asan and Asan Barrage, there stands a resort that feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. The journey to get here includes a drive amid the scenic hills, incredible valleys and dense forests setting a perfect stage to disconnect from the fast lane and reset your soul at this secluded spot.

Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) started this "Asan Conservation Resort" in 2016 and provided four beautiful waterfront cottage suites for wonderful lifetime memories. It also offers 18 dormitories at the back side of the resort.

As the resort is located alongside a lake created out of the Barrage, there is a facility where guests can paddleboard good looking boats and enjoy lovely evenings. 

The resort is accessible throughout the year and is a much sought-out destination for bird watching in the months of January-March.

About the Resort:
Budget: 
Waterfront Cottages (SUDLX) ~ Rs. 2800
Dormitories ~ Rs. 350

Please check GMVN website for prevailing prices.

The Accommodation: Cottages consist of two rooms, one each on ground floor and first floor, connected by a spiral staircase. One cottage can comfortably accommodate a small family of three to four and is ideal for those coming in a small group for picnic.

The View
The cottages are sitting pretty along the shore of the lake, the guests taking full advantage of the beautiful natural setting. To check-in, they need to follow a lovely landscaped path, picnic tables and chairs perfect for quiet mornings with or a more jovial gathering in the evening. 

After the necessary formalities and before you head to your room, please take the front desk number for ordering tea, coffee, lunch, snacks and dinner.
The cottage has a convertible sofa-cum-bed on the ground floor which is like a living area with television. There is a spiral staircase connecting the first floor. 

The first floor and is equipped with a bed, tea table for two, slanted V shape ceiling, and balcony on both sides.

The Ambiance
The property, which is off the popular tracks from Dehradun, is all about putting brakes to the rat race of a life and giving yourself a much-needed break. With flowered lawns to walk around or laze about on a sunny day, summers here are as enjoyable as winters. 
For kids, these lawns are like an extended play area.
Enjoying your food alongside lake will be one of the best memories to cherish:

 As will be standing in the balcony in the misty morning.

You will Love It –
Couples looking for a romantic escape and families trying to find a place for a calm vacation will love this property. Those who love to walk around in the gardens and dine alongside the lake in open air will come back here again and again.

You might Not
If you like to be surrounded with fancy restaurants, shops, late night activities and a lot of sightseeing options, better stay at Dehradun. 

Amenities:
Exploring the tranquil water of the lake on paddleboats with hills surrounding it.

Booking amount includes Parking and Breakfast only. Consumables are charged as per the prevailing menu, which is present in every room. Meals choices have to be informed well in advance as the feedstock need to be arranged by evening.

How to reach:
Dehradum is the nearest Airport and Railway Station, 50 km. from Asan barrage.
By Road: 270 Km. from Delhi.

You will love driving to these nearby Attractions (distance mentioned from Asan Barrage):
  1. Ashokan Rock Edict, Kalsi – 20 km.
  2. Lakhamandal – 100 Km.
  3. Renuka Lake – 51 km. (and on way - Poanta Sahib Guridwara, 8 km. and Citrus fruits' orchards at Dhaula Kuan, 24 km.)
  4. Dehradun
  5. Mussourie – 70 km.
  6. Chakrata – 65 km.
To Summarize:
If you love to connect with nature along with relaxation and that too in lake front accommodations, the resort is the perfect place.  

Keep Travelling Guys.


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G for Gokarna

Thankfully we were able to get food last night on our arrival from Udupi. However breakfast of fresh and well prepared Idli, sambhar and chutney convinced my big heart to forgive the hotel for last night shocker. Now we had a full day reserved for this small town of Gokarna known for its beaches and temples. Gokarna meaning cow’s ear is a sacred pilgrimage town noted for Mahabaleshwar Shiva temple. But we were there for some offbeat experiences as well.
With pristine beaches and acclaimed temples, Gokarna is quickly coming as an alternate to Goa for beach lovers and those seeking salvation or relaxation. One can hire a bike/ scooter to go around Gokarna. (But please check the condition of vehicle, as rental agencies do not focus on servicing and the rented vehicle may end up spoiling your plans).
We opted for a scooter and started to Vibhuti waterfalls (42 km. from Gokarna). Once you have come out of Gokarna town, though the road though is good condition, but is quite deserted and only a few travelers will come your way. But in between you will get lot of spots for taking pictures as the road is blessed with amazing natural beauty.
It took us around 50 minutes to reach the entry spot, from where a 30 minutes trek was in the way to take us to the Vibhuti waterfalls. That is how I started the trek, with my kid! 
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Offbeat travel with Kids - Necessary Precautions

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Exploring Offbeat destinations is a specialized travel activity which is utmost satisfying for a wanderer’s soul. Being located in not so visited areas, first-hand information about the place and facilities available, to be honest is not available. Generally everyone advise to not to travel to these remote places with family or with small children. They are not wrong, as even small issue in these places can become a big problem especially if you are travelling with small children. 
One needs to prepare well for exploring such places and Yes more than few precautions are required if you are travelling with small children. 
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We have been travelling with our kids (now, 7 year old and 2 year old) for last 6 years to all offbeat places. Trust our travels have got more wonderful and colorful in the company of our kids.
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From Udupi - Coastal Drive to Gokarna

We kept on walking around on the secluded beaches, while exploring back waters of Udupi came across hanging bridges, prayed in awesome temples and over and above blended with nature at its best; this has been our journey which started from Mangalore. 
After spending 2 days in and around Udupi, we started early morning for Gokarna and with the objective to check every spot in the way and reach Gokarna by the night. Just at outskirts of Udupi we came across a beautiful church, worth stopping and spending some time. 

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Ashokan Rock Edict at Kalsi

While driving around Dakpathar (40 km. from Dehradun) came across a signboard showing way to “Kalsi”. Totally unaware about this spot we asked the locales about Kalsi. What we heard was “There is one stone with some ancient inscriptions”. We had some time in hand so started driving for Kalsi.
It took us around 45 minutes (approx. 21 km.) from Asan Barrage on Vikasnagar - Chakrata road, to reach the entrance gate of Kalsi.
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Anjaneya Parvat - Birth place of Lord Hanuman


Off late Vijaynagar had become a 2nd home, have been visiting it almost every 2nd week. While one of these visits got 3-4 hours break from my schedule, so thought of making use of these 3-4 hours. I knew of a hill top temple at Anjaneya Parvat, place believed to be birth place of Lord Hanuman.  So called up the taxi driver and asked if can do Anjaneya Parvat in 3-4 hours? Driver told yes, but slightly tough, Vow decision was taken and I was on my way to Anjaneya temple well before the first ray of sunlight.
Locally known as Anjaneyadri hill, this place is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman (the most powerful of the Gods). Nearby attractions like Pampa Lake, Rishimukh Parvat reinforces the connection of this place with the time of Ramayana. Lord Hanuman is also known as Anjaneya, that’s why the name of the hill as Anjaneya Parvat. 
Hanuman temple at the top of the hill is the main attraction here. However you need to climb 575 stairs in order to reach the summit. Check out the way to hilltop temple.

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List of Best Treks in Uttarakhand that you must try

Uttarakhand often referred to as Dev Bhumi or Land of the Gods, is no less than heaven for all the nature buffs and adventure lovers out there. Uttrakhand is surely one of the most fantastic places in India, which is all covered with ethereal beauty. Situated in the foothill of Himalayan Ranges, Uttarakhand comes with an ample number of opportunities of trekking and camping, and with every new place, there’s something different and interesting present there to gain a whole new experience. Well, now summers are approaching and there could be no better excuse to take a leave from your work and make your way towards the mighty mountains. If you too wish to experience that adrenaline rush, take a look at some of the best treks in Uttarakhand and go on the trek you feel like trying out.

Bali Pass Trek
Let’s get started with the very famous trek to Yamunotri, which is situated there inside the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and allows you to take a closer look at rich flora and fauna. You need to start your trek from Sankri and continue walking along the Supin River. After this, you need to climb up slowly to the Dhatamir and Osla Village. While walking through the pathway, you’ll come across River Tons and Siyan Gad. Go on and reach Har ki Doon, a cradle shaped valley full of a large variety of flowers, mind-blowing views, and amazing wildlife. Then you need to continue to the Ruinsara Tal that passes through mesmerizing grasslands and conifer forests. Walk slowly and reach the base of Bali Pass. After you cross the path, you’ll go downhill through the pastures and open forests to the Yamunotri shrine. After this, the route will take you to Janak Chatti and Hanuman Chatti. 
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Mohan Shakti Heritage Park, Solan

If you think that mountains are all about valleys, flowing water streams and precisely located temples, well your thoughts may be going for some serious reconsideration.
After travelling 8 kms from Solan towards Shimla, turn right on a narrow downhill road. You have to be a very confident driver for this 7 km. of road, if driving yourself, in order to find this Khul Ja Sim Sim like Treasure of our Heritage.
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