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Amazing Roads, Road trips in India

When I finally reached my destination, I realized that I was too tired. So, I had to sit back for the sake of recharging myself before I could have thought of exploring the destination.

 

While I was sitting and recalling the drive to the spot, a thought flashed to my mind – “Was this the RIDE, I should be PROUD of, or I will CHERISH FOREVER”. Probably not.

 

Perhaps in my excitement quest to reach the destination ASAP, I drove too fast and pushed myself to the limits. I forgot that “LIFE is a JOURNEY, not a DESTINATION”.

 

Essence of Life lies in enjoying the moments and Essence of TRAVEL lies in ENJOYING the Roads as well. This resonates with practically most of us, especially while driving. Being myself an avid Roadtripper, trust me “Taking a couple of breaks to appreciate the beauty of the roads and surrounding natural landscapes will not delay your journey, but will surely add the Magic to your spirit”.

 

For most of my trips till date I have been driving myself. Bringing you the collected and selected Roads from offbeat and hidden spots, for those who understands that “Journey is the destination itself”.

1) Road to Naddi Village, 3 km. from Mcleod Ganj - 

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Token of Baklava

To think well, love well, and to sleep well one has to enjoy his/ her food. Till it melted in the mouth, I did not realize that Turkish delicacy has been delivered to our doorstep. That feeling when Taste buds feel sumptuous as, perhaps next to nothing in this world.

 

Seeing the baklava, I went back into the memories of my Turkey trip, wherein a health nut like me could not resist having Baklavas in tonnes, be it morning or afternoon or any time of the day. It was an instant recall of the Turkey trip, wherein I loved munching on different food items everywhere as much I enjoyed exploring various places.

 

You can bring back the memories in form of pictures or souvenirs, but local cuisine can be bought back in limited quantity, if at all. You may enjoy local food as much as you can during the trip, but thereafter you can only crave for that sweet/ dessert or anything you tasted in your trip.


About Baklava - Baklava is a traditional Turkish sweet, blended with various dry fruits like ground walnuts, almonds, pistachios along with honey and nutritious elements. 

Isn't it tempting? I need to say that I enjoyed every bite of this delicacy. Honey sweetened and softly wrapped outer crust compliments the flavors of the grounded nuts and as you bite these freshly prepared tarts you will appreciate the taste of each ingredient. To describe Baklava in few words - Crunchy Nuts in a soft Crispy wrap. Baklava has an impeccable legacy in Turkey:

  • There used to be a popular Turkish saying – I am not wealthy enough to have a Baklava every day. 
  • Until 20th century, Baklava used to be a luxury delicacy, available only on special occasions.
  • In 2013 EU had granted PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status to Baklava, Turkish Baklava.

Once you will taste these Baklava tarts, the word “Authentic” will get added automatically. As soon as the box was opened, it was an instant hit with the Kids and grown-ups were also unable to resist.  Baklava tarts sprinkled with ground Pistachios make the delicacy impossible to resist. Packet was emptied within a couple of minutes. 

Price may seem a little steep when counting the number of tarts, however taste will comfortably silent the thoughts about pricing. Someone has rightly pointed - “If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”. You can enjoy Baklava as a snack along with your evening Tea or as a dessert with your dinner. 

 

www.Tokenz.com, Can I get one more box of Baklava tarts? I enjoyed savoring the delicacies and delightful experience. No need to revisit Turkey, at least for Baklavas. Hope you will also enjoy pampering your taste buds.

(Travel Diaries was recently sent a gift hamper of Baklava Tarts by Tokenz.com)

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Handmade Rustic Wall Shelves

Plain Walls may appear clean and elegant to many, however in actual plain walls are an opponent to creative and vibrant living space. Collecting original artefacts and art pieces is not an easy task as well. So how to illuminate the boring plain walls? There must be an affordable way to invigorate your home walls, while keeping exclusivity intact.

 

One fine day, I received these wonderful Royal Rustic Hexagonal Wall Shelves, as a gift from Exclusivelane.com.

 

The Product: Burned Wood, to be specific Mango Wood and thereafter painted with rustic green shades immediately took me back to the memory lane to the doors of our ancestral house in Rajasthan. Inspired from the rustic doors of Rajasthan, these Wall Shelves serves as the perfect souvenir that dates back to centuries’ old tradition.

 

Mechanical Engineer inside me was all excited and I was ready with my toolkit to fix these shelves on the Wall. Though I used the drill machine to drill the holes in the wall, but normal nails pushed inside the wall with a hammer can be also used to hang the shelves. Each Shelf has 2 concealed holes at the back for hanging on the wall.

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Temples of Dwarahat

Dwarahat in local language means “Way to Heaven”. You will have no doubt on it, once you reach here. Nestled amidst hills of Kumaon, this ravishing town of Dwarahat boasts of ancient holy temples built by the Katyuri Kings. Temples of Dwarahat are the main attraction here.

It took us around 75 minutes of driving from Ranikhet to reach Dwarahat. Temples are spread all around this town, so better ask the locales about which temple to see first.

Mrityunjay Temple and Badrinath group of temples is on the main road. However we were guided by locales to see the Ratan Dev, Kachahari group and Golu Devta temple at first.

A small walk from the main road took us to Ratan Dev group of Temples. 


There are 6 temples present at this site, 2 temples can be seen in broken state and one more temple must have existed to make 3 temples opposite to 3 temples of right hand side to take the total to 9 original temples. There are a few broken pieces of the temples lying around in the premises define the grandeur of the past times.

Timeline of construction these temples goes back to around 11th century and stark resemblance with Jageshwar temples further reinforces the timeline.

Now this was the way ahead in front of us for 10 minutes’ walk to Golu Devta Temple. Perfect harmony with the hills -

Golu Devta is an incarnation of Lord Shiva, in form of Gaur Bhairav and is one of most worshipped God in the hills. Being the highest point in vicinity, enjoy 360 deg. view of the nearby areas.  

Few minutes’ walk from Golu Devta took us to Kachari/ Kachahari group of temples. Kachari group of temples has 12 temples. 9 temples are at one site and 3 temples are located opposite and at elevated platform. 

Check out the stark symmetry of the Kachari Temples. Temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Shiva. Presence of a well inside the premises ascertain this fact as water inside the temple premises is used for offerings to the Gods. Design is quite similar to Ratan Dev group of temples. Temple has been well taken care of the government and the locales as well. Kids will enjoy every minute spend here.

Getting down from the Kachari group of Temples, we came to Badrinath group of Temples. Out of 3 temples in the premises, main temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and dates back to 11th Century.

Out of other 2 smaller temples, one is dedicated to Goddess Laxmi and other one dedicated to Banasur has no deity.
 
Last and the final stop was the most prominent, most sacred temple in Dwarahat, Mrityunjay Temple. Meaning of Mrityunjay is Vanquisher of Death and so temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Temple has been constructed in Nagara style of architecture and consists of Garbhgriha, Antarala and a huge Mandapa. There is also a small temple dedicated to Bhairava, however which is not in very good condition. Timeline of this temple goes back to 11th century.

Now the drive from Ranikhet –

Follow the road signs and confirm with the locales because at times network is not there to support google maps and you will come across more than one turn going in similar direction. Do not take chance, ask the locales.

Road is in fairly good condition and in the way you will come across splendid natural settings to reinforce the fact that Nature is the best artist. Just before Dwarahat we stopped at this temple decorating the skyline of nearby hills.


From this spot we anticipated little that the place is indeed Gate to Heaven. Keep exploring Guys...
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Need a Visa to Travel to Tajikistan?

Every traveler has their own system for booking a trip abroad. However way you like to plan your trip, it probably goes a little something like this: first, you pick your destination, and then you start researching activities, weather, what to pack, tips and tricks, and other important information regarding travel and destination. Then you book your flight and build your itinerary.

 

This is a seemingly sane way to plan your trip, and it'll be hard to miss anything with this method. However, millions of people every year, depending on what country your passport is from, one crucial step is skipped that can end up turning every plan onto its head.

 

One word can send you back where you came from without so much as taking a step outside the airport of Tajikistan. A visa.  

 

Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of trip planning, and yet, one of the utmost importance.  


So, what are visas, and why do you need them? 

In plain English, a visa is an official document that allows a traveler to enter a foreign country. We can differentiate between regular visas and electronic ones.

 

The traditional travel permits are obtained via an Embassy and usually require applicants to submit an extensive paperwork to support their application and validate the reason for travel.

 

Both regular and electronic visas can be issued as single-entry, double-entry, triple-entry, or even multiple-entry permits. Each country sets their own visa rules, deciding on the list of eligible countries, visa types, and the availability of the electronic visa system.

 

One of the countries that has come forward with the electronic visa system is Tajikistan! With 93% of its land covered in mountains and numerous glacier lakes, Tajikistan is a country like no other. Even though it’s often overlooked by travelers, once they find it, they are in awe!

 

To get all of the essential information on obtaining an online visa for Tajikistan and submit the application within minutes from home, visit https://visatajikistan.com. Apply at least 3 business days in advance of the planned trip and get your travel permit delivered via email! 


With EVISA Express, simply TUG to Tajikistan. - 


Why do we need visas to visit Tajikistan?

You need a visa to travel to Tajikistan if your home country does not have a visa policy agreement in place. The Tajikistan government has set the entry rules for the foreign countries and requires most of them to have a visa.

 

Some countries have made deals that allow their citizens to freely travel within the borders of each other countries without the need of a visa, although only for a certain amount of time.

 

Depending on your final destination and your nationality, the visa you’ll need may differ. It is crucial to check the current visa regulations when planning a trip abroad, as they may change over time.

 

If your country needs a visa to visit Tajikistan, you must obtain it before crossing the border. Otherwise, you may not be able to go on your trip.

 

How do I know if I need a visa to visit Tajikistan?  

The easiest way to get the most accurate and up-to-date information is through the Embassy website of the country you are planning to travel to or online when using e-Visa services.

 

Check the current visa regulation of Tajikistan when planning the trip. Most foreign citizens need a visa to cross the Tajikistan border. If you do need a visa obtained prior to the travel, make sure to check if your nationality makes you eligible for electronic visas or regular ones.  


How do I obtain a regular visa? 

Depending on the country you're applying to travel to, and what visa you're applying for, the process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

 

Moreover, the application process will differ depending on if you apply for a regular visa or an electronic one. Getting a visa through an Embassy is far more complicated than applying for an e-Visa online.

 

The application process for a regular visa is usually subject to the following steps:

 

1.      Find the official immigration government website for your destination country.  

2.      Read all the available information and the visa requirements. 

3.      Fill out the visa application form.  

4.      Collect all the required documents.

5.      Pay all application fees

6.      Submit the complete paperwork at an Embassy and wait for approval.

 

Depending on what type of visa and where you are going, there can be an extra step where you have to be interviewed at an Embassy where they confirm all of your information.

 

This is why it's a good idea to start looking into visa requirements right off the bat when planning any trip since the process can take longer than expected.

 

Moreover, the paperwork to complete for regular visas is most of the times quite extensive and requires obtaining specific and officially issued documents that may take months to be handled.

 

How to get a Tajikistan visa online?

Contrary to regular visas, obtaining an electronic travel permit is more than easy! Most of the times, all applicants need is a valid passport that will not expire for a minimum of 6 months from the planned date of the trip.


The application process can be completed using any working device with an internet connection. You can use your phone, laptop, PC, or even a tablet and submit your application within minutes from home!

 

Online visa application guide:
1.   Fill the application form – provide some basic personal details as well as some relating to the upcoming trip. Put in your name, surname, birth date, nationality, and passport information.
2.  Cover the fees – choose any preferred online payment method and use it to cover the e-Visa fees. Travelers can use their credit/debit cards, PayPal accounts, PayU, or choose any other method. Once your payment registers, you will receive a confirmation number at your email address.

3.    Check your email box – the approved e-Visa will be delivered straight to your email box in the form of a PDF file.

 

Tajikistan e-Visa applications are processed within a maximum of 72 hours (3 business days) from submitting the form online. 

 

TIP! The best way to make your application successful, receive your visa quickly, and avoid any issues with approval, is to check the filled application form thoroughly. Any mistakes or missing information may lead to elongating the processing time.

Visit Tajikistan with an electronic visa for an ultimate effortless traveling experience! 

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Rameshwaram - Tracing the footsteps of Lord Ram

It all seemed like a fantasy at first. It was an auspicious full moon night. Goddess Parvati, dressed up in all the fineries, was taking the round of the Rameshwaram temple in a golden palanquin. The accompanying chants, smoke and drum beats added to the rare spectacle. The following round by Lord Shiva from his sanctum to the goddess’ almost seemed like a royal routine. And, why not, for, he is the Lord of the Lord here in Rameshwaram – literally meaning Ram’s god.

When Lord Ram returned to these shores after slaying Ravan in Lanka, despite being on the right side, he wanted to repent for the killings. He washed his hair at the spot now called Jada Teertham before worshipping Shiv. Where Laxman, Ram’s younger brother, took bath Laxman Teertham. It so happened that Hanuman was getting late in bringing a lingam from the Himalayas for the worship, so Sita built one from sand. The lingam in the sanctum of the Ramanathaswamy temple or the Rameshwaram temple is believed to be the same. And, the 22 tanks and wells in the temple’s periphery, called teerthams, are said to absolve the sins of human beings today.
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Top 5 Tourist Attractions in Tanzania

The travel and tourism industry contributes almost 17% to the GDP of Tanzania and employs nearly 11.5% of the country's workforce every year. Tanzania must be a preferred destination for tourists.

Tanzania (officially the United Republic of Tanzania) is an East African country located within the African Great Lake region. It is a tourism country with a wide range of the amazing tourist attractions.

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Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur

- Time has stood still since 1459 CE in Mandore -
A suburb of Jodhpur, 5 km. from Jodhpur is the small town of Mandore which was once a seat of power of prominent Rathore clan Rajputs. Not only Rathore Rajputs, Mandore had been the capital city of many Rajput kings and has played a major role in safeguarding Northern India from the attacks of western invaders and Muslim kings from Gujarat. During 6th century, a princess of Pratiharas dynasty was married into Rathore dynasty and Mandore was the Wedding Gift to the Rathore prince.

Around 1450, the capital seat was shifted to Mehrangarh Fort in order to protect the city and the residents from further attacks and invasions. However Mandore Gardens still stand high in pride to tell the glorious tales of the bygone eras seen by the Mandore. Though Mandore lost the prominence in 1459 CE as the capital seat shifted to Mehrangarh, but word abandoned cannot be used with the town. Mandore gardens have been well preserved to let visitors visualize/ imagine the glorious past of this ancient town.

Ancient temples, Cenotaphs of erstwhile Jodhpur rulers and an ancient tunnel makes an enriching trip to Mandore Gardens. Brilliant temples carved out of Sandstone are the first to get attention. 

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Best ways to save and invest money to fund my travels?

As a kid, I distinctly remember how elderly people used to consider visiting Varanasi or Badrinath or Vaishno Devi as once in a lifetime event. My father was an Indian Railway employee and had privilege of free train journeys; despite that our vacations were quite less, probably due to associated other expenses.


Gone are the days, when travelling was considered a luxury or once in a while affair. Travelling has now become a necessary part of our lives. Escaping Workplace Stress, Pollution are pretty honest excuses, but in reality it is financial independence which is driving this new found breed of vacationers.


During my early career days, I used to save and just save for small trips, hardly 250 -300 km. from Delhi. Such a trip along with a few friends, more than once in a year used to be a big achievement. The way I used to plan for these trips, I now see the youngsters plan for Thailand, Maldives, Eurotrip and practically much more than I ever could have thought of. By seeing the millennials plan for such foreign trips, I at times used to wonder – Who is funding their frequent travels? Are they availing Loans?

I know one of my friends, who took a loan to take his family abroad for a trip and proudly paid back a hefty interest amount for the next couple of years. Well, this was not so smart an option which he realized later, when he ended up paying interest costs to the extent of 20%.

There must be a better alternative to EMI’s and Investing is a smart way of saving. With investing comes the basic question Where and How much to invest? Being myself a travel enthusiast, I will be always open to explore any investment opportunity that can help me in continuing my travels even post my retirement with some luxury and adequate risk cushion. Why not? Why should I not? 

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Bisrakh Village - Birth place of demon king Ravana

An old temple stands in Greater Noida’s non-descript small Bisrakh village. Got to know one fine day, that Bisrakh village near to Noida is believed to be birth place of demon king Ravana and that ancient temple stands testimony to that. Ooh la la, I have been in Noida for the last 8 years but never had heard about this village and this associated history piece.

After speculating for a couple of weeks about the place and searching on internet about it, one fine Saturday I decided to just drive and find out more about this place. It took me around 30-35 minutes from my home to reach Bisrakh village, the birth place of Ravana. Finally I reached the spot where an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva stands. Here I am at the temple entrance praying to lord Shiva and seeking benevolence to explore this spot.
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