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Showing posts with label Nature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nature. Show all posts

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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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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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. 

Coming from Jatoli Shiv Temple in Solan and after travelling 8 kms 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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Trek to Laxman Temple/ Hemkund Sahib

Laxman Temple/Hemkund Sahib, at a height of 4300 meters above sea level, lies in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state. Challenging trekking route and spectacular beauty of the mystical valley has always tempted botanists, nature lovers, foreign tourists and adventure lovers. Valley boast off over 500 species of wild flowers of unparalleled appearance and fragrances.

This is the place where Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of Sikh community, did intense meditation to please Lord Brahma. Please by the austerity Lord Brahma commanded Guru Gobind Singh Ji to take birth in Kal-Yuga in order to kill demons and protect holy people. Undoubtedly, the Hemkund Trek is a steep challenging trek and you will often hear from the locals there that – “Mountains are for FIT not FAT”. You trek from 9,600 ft to 15,000 ft in just 6 Kms and that’s what makes it a tough trek.

Place remains open to the world from June to October and for rest of the year it remains snow clad. Journey to the Hemkund starts from Haridwar, where you can easily hire a cab for your entire trip. 

 

Drive to Govindghat around 300 Kms, which would take 10 – 12 hours of time to reach depending on the road conditions, please expect land sliding at various points throughout the drive.
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On Nainital and Mukteshwar: A Lake, Deodars and Maple Leaves - part 2 of 2

We left for Mukteshwar at around 11 AM. Somehow it got cloudy again and the roads got under thick white mist. It took a while to drive out of the town since there were many people on the road. Soon it started to drizzle and it felt good. Mukteshwar is at a height of about 7200 ft and is right in the middle of Banj Oak and Deodar forests. The forest is evergreen and mostly covered in mist. You can see that green moss and lichens have taken over the whole forest since it rains here almost every day, even in summer. 


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Athirapilly: Waterfall of Magnificence

Kerala: It's more than backwaters!
Kerala duly addressed as Gods own country, is a narrow strip of land lying in the west corner of peninsular India. Keeping Lakshadweep sea to its west and Western Ghats to its east, this highly literate state of our country stands proudly for its natural and scenic beauty, from dense ever green forests, diverse flora and fauna, hills and peaks to lakes and beaches, preserving cultural heritage and what not. It is one of the truly blessed places on this planet and we are lucky that India owns it.  

As in current trend there is a shift from seeing to experiencing and those who look for experiential travel, Kerala is a hot destination. Here words won’t be enough and mere picture can’t convey what it feels being there and experiencing every bit of it. From top to bottom, Kerala has a lot to offer to its travellers.

City sight-seeing is too conventional for those who believe in offbeat travelling. Athirapilly waterfall is one such destination in Thrissur district of Kerala, situated on the Chalakudy river, at the entrance to the Sholayar Ranges of Western Ghats. Athirapally falls also known as the Niagara Falls of India, fall down from approximately 80 feet through numerous parallel streams, painting the canvas in white. These falls were recently seen as the Jal Parvat in the movie Bahubali.

As soon as you reach the location, the noise of splashing water will give you goose bumps. The waterfall is all hidden amongst the green and you can barely spot it from the road. A ticket of Rs. 15 per head is charged at the entry and then a walk of 10 minutes from the gate of the premises, which is maintained by department of Kerala tourism, takes you to the scene- where a calmly flowing river, drops down abruptly making one gigantic waterfall.

Here you can experience the river, the waterfall, the dense green forest, the arc of Western Ghats, all at once without any hindrance, the clear picturesque beauty of nature.

After the top view, it’s time to move down to the plunge pool. It’s a trek of 1km approx. through the dense green and a wet forest. Its bit slippery, so proper footwear and caution is recommended. The noise of waterfall will automatically attract you and without any feeling of hardships you will reach to the worthiest and a never seen before kind of place. The splashes of crashing water will leave you wet and the scene is more magnificent. It seems as if nature is joyously welcoming you, with a touch.


OH MY GOD and WAAOW, that’s the only thing I could scream out of excitement, because I have never felt this close to nature. It was worth the effort.



Though the waterfall is perennial but best experience comes post monsoon. You can visit it on all the days from 8:00AM to 6:00PM, however weekend attracts local rush too. You can enjoy local food and snacks at small eating joints and hawkers outside the premises. While walking to the plateau point or while standing at the bottom of the waterfall, you can get yourself clicked/ take Selfies to inspire your friends for this offbeat voyage. 


If you have time, you can go for Vazhachal waterfall, which is just 5Km from here. It is again a scenic spot and is famous for endemic species found in surrounding forest. One must start returning to Cochin by evening as there are no proper facilities of accommodation in the vicinity.





How to reach?

Athirapilly is 66km from Cochin city and 55km from Cochin International Airport via NH 544 and Nearest railway station is 30km from here in Chalakudy. 

About Cochin - While searching online you will come across name "Kochi" as well. Cochin and Kochi are one and same. British used to call Kochi as Cochin. Finally, in 90's the name Kochi was declared as official name of Cochin. 

Cochin has been often referred as Queen of Arabin Sea and has been one of the most important centre of Spice trade since 14th Century. Cochin was well known to Greeks, Romans, Jews, Arabs and Chinese since ancient times. Cochin has found references in documentation by travellers like Ma Huan (from China, 15th Century) and Niccolo' Da Conti (from Italy, 15th Century). Spices like Ginger, Cloves, Cardamom, turmeric and black pepper grown in this region are renowned worldwide.


Also, would like to mention that Cochin International Airport is the world’s first fully solar energy powered airport and it is a perfect blend of nature and technology with heritage and modern architecture. Well connected to other major cities of India, Cochin is now a financial, economic and industrial powerhouse of Kerala. Landing here will give a kick start to your journey of exploring Southern India.

 

Keep travelling Guys...

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Trek to the Enchanted - Valley of Flowers

Valley of flowers, at a height of 3046 meters above sea level, lies in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state. Challenging trekking route and spectacular beauty of the mystical valley has always tempted botanists, nature lovers, foreign tourists and adventure lovers. Valley boast off over 500 species of wild flowers of unparalleled appearance and fragrances.

 

Although the picturesque valley remains open to the world from June to October, but it’s great to visit the valley around June, July and August, when the flowers are in abundance. For rest of the year valley remains snow clad.

 

Journey to the valley starts from Haridwar, where you can easily hire a cab for your entire trip. Below is the entire itinerary in brief. 

 

1. Haridwar to Govindghat - Around 300 Kms

2. Start from Haridwar - Cab is recommended. Very less frequency of buses.

3. Route: Haridwar – Rishikesh – Devprayag – Jayalgarh – Srinagar – Rudaprayag – Karnaprayag – Nandaprayag – Chamoli – Pipalkoti – Joshimath – Vishnuprayag - Govindghat

4. Govindghat – (Motorable-4Km) – Poolna (Trek 10 km) – Ghangaria – Total 14 Kms

5. Split routes from Ghangaria for Valley of Flowers Trek and Hemkund Sahib Trek

 

Drive to Govindghat around 300 Kms, which would take 10 – 12 hours of time to reach depending on the road conditions, please expect land sliding at various points throughout the drive.

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Ahobilam - The Spiritual Safari

Ahobilam, a noted pilgrimage centre for Hindus, is situated at distance of around 130 km. from Kurnool Railway Station, 68 Kms from the Nandyal Railway Station and 24 km. from Allagadda.


Ahobilam, consists of lower Ahobilam and Upper Ahobilam, is the place where Lord Narasimha had manifested himself in a natural cavern of rock to rip apart the most ferocious demon Hiranyakashipu.

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Jageshwar Dham - Abode of Lord Shiva...

While the Sun had already started the return journey behind the hills, however our wandering souls with high spirits were craving to reach the divine land of Jageshwar. With every passing second, our mind was painting a different caricature for Jageshwar Dham. The fresh air was getting fresher and crispier with every turn.

 

After 40 minutes of drive from the Lakhudiyar Cave paintings shelter, the joyous moment arrived when we entered in to the Jageshwar valley around 5:30 PM in the evening. Staff at KMVN guest house advised us to first attend the evening prayer; check-in formalities can be carried our afterwards.

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Wonderlands around Shimla...

The mountains, when covered with dense forests may look similar, but something is surely in the air. When it comes to driving nothing beats the romance of snaking in the hills around Shimla. Is something actually in the air of Shimla and surrounding places or it is just the unparalleled beauty of this heavenly region...?


Outskirts of Shimla are the places which separates visitors from explorers. If you ask people if they have visited Chail, Kufri, Mashobra and Naldehra; there is good chance to hear that most of the people would have ended on Kufri only. These four locations can be covered in a day if you start from Shimla before the first ray of the sunlight. Though you may also enjoy a night stay of perfect solitude at Chail or at Naldehra.


To explore these out of the world spots where blanket of Pine and Deodar trees grace the landscapes, this eternal vagabond started his early morning drive to Chail (51 km. from Shimla) to get an authentic morning mystic feel of the valleys. Till Kufri (20 Km. from Shimla) you will find many visitors. Once you will move ahead from Kufri, its only nature and yourself, enjoy the symphony of birds chirping, whistling of tree leaves and your camera clicks.

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Mesmerized in Shimla

Some of the places are fortunate to be blessed with all-time pleasant weather and unmatched natural beauty. For such spots you need not plan, just pack your bags and go. Located at a distance of 350 km. from Delhi, Shimla is one such destination. No doubt Shimla is always a preferred attraction in Himachal Pradesh for  tourists from every part of the world. 

Snow-covered peaks and picturesque valleys make Shimla a popular choice for a weekend getaway from Delhi. Excellent road condition from Delhi will ensure a fun filled driving till Shimla. But there is a better option, take a night train from Delhi to Kalka and then enjoy the legendary toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla. If you can afford a little extra time, trust me to take the toy train. Lovely stations and amazing natural settings will bring out your camera much earlier than expected. Start with the lovely Toy train, running on the ancient narrow gauge rails...

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Exploring Kumaun... Almora & Pithoragarh (Day 1&2)

Almora is a hill station in the Kumaun region of Uttarakhand. Unlike many other hill stations in India, Almora remained unknown to British. It has been preserved and developed solely by natives of Kumaun region and as a result, it is totally devoid of usual crowds at other hill stations. Almora district offers an ideal option to those looking for solitude in the arms of mighty Himalayas. Almora is also called as land of temples and the temples are located in some of the most stunning landscapes.

To enjoy the spiritual vibes along with unspoiled beauty of the undiscovered Kumaun region, we took early morning train from Delhi and landed at Kathgodam railway station at 11:40 AM. The objective was to explore the road to Almora to Jageshwar and Patal Bhubaneshwar.

 
Our Itinerary:
Day 1: Delhi - Kathgodam - Kainchi Dham - Chitai Golu Devta Temple - Almora-Lakhudiyar-Jageshwar Dham
Day 2: Jageshwar – Pithoragarh (Gangolihat – Patal Bhubaneshwar) – Jageshwar
Day 3: Jageshwar Dham and nearby temples
Day 4: Jageshwar – Almora – Katarmal Sun Temple – Bhimtal–Kathgodam -Delhi

Outside the Kathgodam railway station there were many taxis available for Nainital, few to Jageshwar (120 km. from Kathgodam) but very less if Patal Bhubaneshwar is also included in the itinerary as well. Some negotiation and we were on the way to Jageshwar Dham. Estimated time for the drive was approx. 5 hours including halt at enroute attractions in order to attend the 6 PM “AARTI” at Jageshwar Dham. This started our Day 1.

First spot in the way is Bhimtal (21 km. from kathgodam), but we skipped to cover during return as we had to reach Jageshwar by evening.

Next spot in the way is Neem Karoli Kainchi Dham, which is 37 km. from Kathgodam and is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Kainchi Dham was established in 1962 by the sage Shri Poornanand Ji of Kainchi village. Devotees can stay in the ashram and practice meditation.

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Kullu, the valley of Gods...

A wandering soul searching for a nest can get numerous excuses to surely settle in Kullu, Valley of Gods.


Stunning landscapes coupled with hospitality of people, their distinct lifestyle and rich culture have made Kullu valleys popular as “Valley of Gods”. Kullu is renowned around the world for the woollen Shawls and the Dussehra festival. However, to explore it also has some amazing spots, which despite the popularity of Kullu are surprisingly not so known. When coming from Shimla, spending one day to explore Kullu Valleys shall be a great choice before proceeding to Manali...


Nearest to Kullu is Bijlee Mahadev temple, which is approx. 25 km. from Kullu town by road. Cherish the beautiful Beas River while crossing over the Kullu Bridge on the way to Bijlee Mahadev. You may park your car at a side and click the fabulous bridge and pleasing landscapes...
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Forbidden Republic of Malana

When it is 21st century, it is very difficult to believe about places which are still lying disconnected from the mainland. Malana is such a spot which is 45 km. from much popular tourist destination of Kullu and has been lying isolated from the outside civilization for thousands of years. 


That much mention of such a solitary village was enough to stir the exploring soul of this vagabond. In line to my philosophy that Good travelers never plan in advance, I was on the way to Parvati Valley, situated to the north east of Kullu valley to see the sights of Malana.

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Bishnois of Jodhpur


Visit to Jodhpur has been an amazing one, but somehow internal pleasure was not there. The joy of learning new culture, meeting different people was still to be attained on this trip. It was then came to know about visiting Bishnoi region, located at edge of Thar Desert; a distance of 22 km. from Jodhpur city.

Why? What is so special about this village? Special...Special is the custom here, special is the living philosophy and above all special is the practice of preservation of trees and wild life.

This is the place, Khejarli village where 363 people sacrificed their life to preserve trees. In 1763 Mehrangarh fort was being constructed, gypsum was required in huge quantity to cement the rocks. Gypsum was prepared in those days by heating the rocks, to heat the rocks wood was the only known source. So then king of Jodhpur asked his soldiers to cut the Khejri trees which were abundant in the region around Jodhpur. As the solders reached the region to cut the trees, Bishnois obviously tried to persuade the soldiers from not cutting trees. When soldiers used force to remove Bishnois, these Bishnois simply offered themselves to be killed before cutting the trees by raising slogans of:
सिर साटै रुंख रहे तो भी सस्तो जाँण " 
सिर के बदले  भी अगर वृक्ष बच जाए तो उस बलिदान को  सस्ता ही समझना 
“Even one head chopped in saving a tree is worth and has not gone waste”
It was only when 363 bishnois were killed, the news reached the king. The king then ordered not to cut any tree from then. Picture kept at existing Guru Jambheshwar temple is self-explanatory in this regard:  

A memorial has been built as a remembrance to that act and on the place where the remains of those people who sacrificed themselves have been buried. Bishnois also do not burn the dead bodies of the gone, but bury directly in order to preserve wood, as it comes from trees only. Every year on the anniversary day of that sacrifice, people gather here in huge numbers to pay homage to ones who taught to this world the value of preservation of natural resources. 


There are around 20,000 Bishnois in this area. Bishnoi sect was started by Guru Jambeshwar in 1458 AD. Bishnoi sect is based on 29 principles (Bish – 20, Noi- 9: the name Bishnoi) which emphasize on love, peace and harmony among humans, animals and most important nature. They love fellow human beings and preserve Khejri trees (source of Kair Sangri) and worship Black Bucks. Their dedication to these principles can be seen by this: even if black bucks enter into the field of standing crop, people do not scare them or try to move the herd out of the fields. There is also a temple dedicated to guru Jambheshwar. 

In the campus there are lot of peacocks here in the temple roam around freely. Peacock is the only bird which reproduces when the female (peahen) swallows the tear of mail species. Tear come out after peacock get tired dancing in the rains/ monsoons. Till the time tear comes out, peahen calmly stands by the side of peacock.

Let’s go close to the life style of a Bishnois. They still live in traditionally house built with the cow dung and mud, no need to use fan as the interiors are very cold in the peak scorching summers too. They also have their traditionally built refrigerators out of husk, cow dung in which they keep and store food items. Food is cooked on chulhas, only the dried branches of trees, which have fallen to the ground by themselves are collected for cooking. You can see tea being prepared on a Chulha. Bishnoi Ladies are very hard working; they get up early do household work and help man in fields also. 

I got a chance to have tea made on chulha (earthen furnace). Bishnois welcome the visitors with opium tea. Though opium is banned, but bishnois have permission to cultivate for their religion and customs associated to it. Here is the apparatus for preparing opium tea. Opium is put into the long tube and tea is distilled slowly through the opium. 


Such is the harmony here that ladies can afford to roam around in forests without any fear. This is a place where animals and birds can live without fear. One can find a lot of migratory birds like Siberian cranes here in the local water bodies and Guda Lake. Local water bodies are not encroached by any means by the locales and are reserved only to serve birds and animals.

Living on the edge of desert is not easy, but Bishnois have created a wonderful self-sustained ecosystem and are not dependent on external means for their daily requirements. We in cities might not value water so much, but the importance of water preservation is exemplified by these simple people. Hats off. Khejri tree is a prominent plantation in this region. A tree which grows/ survives/ flourishes by only rainwater. No extra water is required. Sangree is obtained from this tree, which is one of the most consumed vegetables here.



While moving around on narrow but well built roads, we were often coming across freely roaming chinkaras, black bucks and other animals. Amazed by the culture, we moved ahead to see the craftsmanship of these people, check out:



  • Pottery work; beautiful toys, images of Gods/ Goddesses, piggy banks, lanterns and utensils are much sought after. Crocodile visible in the back is also hand made by potters here. Prepare one crocodile is very time consuming and generally takes 2-3 months to make one.


Block Printing: Bed sheets with a rich mix of colors is prepared by traditional methods. these bed sheet go with number of steps and then finely a beautiful bed sheet form. You are free to buy bed sheets, good thing that they will show you bed sheets as many as you want to see, but will not insist slightly even to purchase even one. 

Bishnoi family was kind enough to show us the Dari weaving facility and told us the intricacies involved in the process. This is a community co-operative where most of the community members take part in Dari weaving. It ensures livelihoods for all of the families in this village. By this time, we were very hungry and excited as it was the time to have our lunch with a bishnoi family. Menu was Bajre ki roti, kair sangree ki sabzii, Yellow Dal and Besan ki Kadhi. Every dish was yummy and much tastier than any exotic meal in any restaurant or hotel. 


For explorers there is also an option of staying with the Bishnoi family, in their houses:

The Safari time of 6 hours in villages of Guda Bishnoiyan, khejarli and kanai passed like a second. But the take back experience of this place was awesome and worth for every moment. Take one day for Bishnoi safari and continue your journey to Jaisalmer or Bikaner.

For Information: This was the place where actor Salman Khan had killed the Black Buck, the act which was condemned widely. Black bucks are worshiped here as re-incarnation of their Guru Jambheshwar. As told by locales, had the vehicle been stopped by them, matter would have been very serious, justice might have been done there itself.

These days we keep hearing about people fighting all over the world for more resources. But after coming here, I firmly believe that peaceful co-existence is not that difficult if we learn to be happy within our means. People here are happy in whatever they have, but what makes them different is the pride in their culture and legacy. At this moment, Colossal Palaces and Forts do not look so great as compared to a Bishnoi house.

Remember: Needs can be fulfilled, but GREED cannot be. There are sufficient resources for everyone on this earth. Keep exploring Guys...
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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
 

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Dehradun - Blended in culture of city and hills

Capital of Uttarakhand, Dehradun is a small, charming city that is known for its scenic surroundings, acclaimed educational institutes, cool environment and lots of interesting attractions to explore.


Such is the location of Dehradun that one can enjoy the journey either via Haridwar/Rishikesh or via Nahan. If you are coming via Nahan then enjoy a number of spots in the way too. First one being citrus fruits' orchards at Dhaula Kuan (58 km. from Nahan).


HIMCO shop on the main road sells fresh juices, squashes and pickles. Do not forget to try.
Moving 17 km. ahead it is the time to pray at Poanta Sahib Gurudwara. Poanta Sahib is a sacred town built in the memory of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs.

Gurudwara serves 24 hrs. langar (free kitchen) to everyone. Though it is not necessary, but if possible "Do contribute something to support this divine initiative" by the Gurudwara. Pray for a few moments here and continue the journey to Dehradun.


Another 27 km. straight drive will take you to barrage at Dakpatthar. This is slightly (5-6 km.) off the track from Dehradun. Continue straight from Herbertpur crossing, right turn will take you to Dehradun. Thanks to my special friend, I got to enjoy such a lovely point. 


Apart from the barrage, there is also a beautiful children's park here. From here Dehradun is only 40 km. ahead. Also if you have time, you may consider rock edit at Kalsi (7 km.).

Coming back from Nahan, a brief stopover at Dehradun is both wise and refreshing. Dehradun is a little town that boasts of hustle-bustle of a city with some quiet and calming corners.

First in line was Tapkeshwar Mahadev temple. The legend has it that this place was often used by the gods and saints for offering prayers to Lord Shiva. Guru Dronacharya, after many years of worship, too got the gift of the archery knowledge by Lord Shiva. The knowledge was later transferred on to Arjun, the greatest archer that ever lived and ever would live.
The huge temple premises looks like a small tour of Gods’ land. It starts with Lord Shiva’s temple, the cave where gods and saints prayed for years. It daily attracts a large number of devotees who worship numerous forms, statues or shivalings that represent Lord Shiva.

Temple premises is distributed on either sides of a small stream of clear and cool water, to reach the other side of the premises you have to cross a small water stream (do that bare foot and bid adieu to all your tiredness in a flash). There, one temple each is dedicated to Goddess Santoshi, Lord Hanuman and Goddess Vaishno Devi, which in fact is a replica of the cave in Jammu and Kashmir.


The reach to the small sanctum sanctorum of Vaishno Devi temple, through the small cave route, is both spiritualistic and thrilling. 

What catches the eye and strikes inquisitiveness in one and all is a marble stand with a small square platform and some cylindrical marble pieces on it. A close look at it tells you that it is your guide to nine planets, their properties and how they affect your life.

Next is Japanese Temple or Buddha temple for a similar soul-satisfying experience. This is an important of Dehradun and is widely acclaimed for its impressive architecture, beautiful interiors and pleasing surroundings.

One can easily spend a few hours to explore the huge premises of this temple and every minute spent there is worth it. The temple attracts large number of tourists and Buddhist followers from every corner of the world. Major attraction within the temple is 103 ft. high statue of Lord Buddha, dedicated to Dalai Lama.

The main stupa of the temple, about 220 feet in height, is built as a replica of Mindrolling monastery, Tibet. It is claimed to be the largest reliquary in Asia.

Stupa with company of adjacent structures, craft its own identity and presents a magnificent skyline to Dehradun.

 

From the towering Lord Buddha statue, giant stupa, calm praying halls to little monks showcasing some brilliant football skills, the place seems like without any worldly trouble. Watching monks play football is something which no one should afford to miss. You can also join them and hone up your football skills. Free accommodation, clothing, food, and other facilities are provided by the Buddha Temple authorities to around 500 monks who live here and study.

 

The colourful gardens, full of various types of roses, other flowers, plants and lush-green trees add to the place’s decor and peace. The shops and temple garden are open for the public seven days a week. However, the interior of the temple remains open only on Sundays.

Too much of spirituality lets now proceed to some cave exploration at the much acclaimed – Sahastradhara, around 11 km from the city of Dehradun. The earlier generation tells you tales of these mountains squirting out water streams in all their resplendence. However, the scene is not as stunning, but still too beautiful. However, the cool water, slowly trickling down the mountains around you makes your journey fulfilling.


Take a dip or just sit on the huge rocks with your feet in water or better still do some casual climbing to discover a your very own hidden pool or some historic cave. Once there, do not forget to try something from the small eateries. Pick your favourite from hot and crispy pakoras, vegetable maggi or mouth-watering aloo tikki.

And you can end your brief meeting with this small town amid its main market, bustling with energy. Just a few moments away from its new-age cafeterias, bakeries, restaurants, and shopping centres, is the old market near the clock tower. A look at that age-old clock tower and any Ruskin Bond fan would immediately identify with his many characters’ experiences and stories. It is perhaps the lanes of this market only that his famous character – Rusty – ran down with his local friends to savour local sweets and delicacies.

 

The market not only is a treasure trove for souvenirs, junk jewellery and local handicrafts, it also houses decade-old eating joints serving the flavours from across the country in authentic style.


Even if for a day or two, the time spent here would make for lifetime memories.


Way to Explore: Nahan – Dhaula Kuan (58 Km.) – Poanta Sahib (17 km.) – Dakpatthar (27 km.) – Dehradun (40 Km.)

From Dehradun one can go to Rishikesh (54 km.)/ Haridwar (53 Km.) or come back to Delhi. If you are interested in continuing the journey, head off to Mussourie (35 km.), to enjoy below panoramas:

Happy travelling Friends... 
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