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Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Alwar - Unseen Getaway

State where once Rolls Royce’s were deployed to collect garbage, could not have been an ordinary place. Legend of Maharaja Jai Singh of Alwar is well known, how he bought Rolls Royce company to its knees. Apart from the legend of Maharaja jai Singh Alwar is acclaimed worldwide for its famous dessert Kalakand (Milk-Cake). 

Located midway between Delhi and Jaipur, Alwar is one of the oldest cities in Rajasthan, with history going back to the time when Viratnagar used to be flourishing center. Viratnagar, the same Matsya Desh dating back to the times of Mahabharata, where Pandavas spent last year of the 13 years of exile. Despite located close to Delhi, Alwar somehow gets missed out from the itinerary as crowds prefer opulence of Jaipur or probably information about unseen spots in Alwar is rather limited.

Alwar City has several spots, which make it a worthy weekend getaway destination. Though Alwar is a dry region, but has a celestial Siliserh lake, which shall be the first spot in the Alwar itinerary. The Siliserh Lake is a big man-made lake, constructed by Vinay Singh in year 1845 AD and was supposed to provide the water supply reserves for Alwar state.
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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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Jatoli Shiv Temple, Solan

Solan is a small town in Himachal Pradesh, but has one of the oldest breweries in India, is popular as “Mushroom city of India” and is also known as “City of Red Gold”. First 2 are self explanatory, well the "Red Gold" is for the tomatoes production, almost highest in the country.
Solan once a cantonment settlement, is one of the secrets of Himachal to be explored with some beautiful temples and scenic landscapes. Not just temples, Solan is home to tallest Lord Shiva temple in Asia, Jatoli Shiv Temple.

On way to Shimla from Kasauli, via Solan take a right turn on Rajgarh Road and drive for 8 km. to reach the scenic hilltop grand temple. Jatoli Shiv Temple is one of the sacred destinations in Solan, which attracts devotees from all over the country. Jatoli Shiv temple is the tallest temple of Lord Shiva in Asia and is also one of the very ancient temples. It is believed that Lord Shiva had visited this place and stayed for some time and reason behind the 112 ft. height of this temple is the Jatas (Hairs) of Lord Shiva.
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Canada: Best foods to try

I will continue driving for rest of my life on the above roads. With such locations; no doubt, Canada is one of the most desirable tourist destinations that you can find out there in the world. Since it is the second-largest country globally, you will be able to discover a fascinating geographical variety.

 

This is the main reason behind the thriving tourism industry that exists in the country. The main tourist attractions you can find in Canada are centered around Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Niagara Falls, Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, and the Canadian Rockies. The large cities in Canada are well-known for their diversity, historic sites, and national parks. 

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Karla Caves

Ray of light peeping out, all of a sudden from behind the dense leaves or drops of rainfall after a long hot spell. Perhaps one of the best experiences, which is delightful to everyone as a change from regular.

Now try to recall, when was the last time you felt elated on getting a surprise day off or just a half day off from your official duties? Most of us prefer to go home and relax or settle for an outing with family. But some out of mind boring people think of driving to some nearby locations. For a long time, I had been hearing about ancient rock cut caves near to Dolvi, which had became a weekly visit affair for me. Subconscious mind was always craving to make a trip, however business routine always used to shackle my spirits/ my legs whenever I dared thinking about to explore this spot.

One fine day, got a surprise when all the business formalities got finalized without much discussions and I realized that I have got a few hours for myself. Around 65 km. from Dolvi would have been slightly difficult on my feet or by public transport to return back by night, so requested a friend for his bike. He obliged and also informed me about the route. What a feeling it was gearing the bike🏍 after a long! My spirits, legs, hands and eyes; seemed everyone was also craving for a break. That was it; the lone ranger has started the drive to Karla Caves, the much cherished spot. 

65 km. separated me from the Karla Caves, a complex of ancient rock-cut caves located at Karli near Lonavala. It took me around 1.5 hours to reach the spot. Not just a spot, it is a grand example of Indian architecture expertise, for which even mighty mountains were just a canvas.

View from outside, for a moment turned me into Indiana Jones and so was ignited the curiosity to explore the interiors and unwind some ancient secrets – 

There is no definite information on the timelines of these caves, but believed to have carved around 2nd century BC and thereafter 5th century AD. A grand hall is the first one you come across on entering inside the caves. Large open space must have been a gathering place. This is probably the biggest temple hall I have come across in such constructions.

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In the City of 14 Gods, Agartala

In between the journey of life, one has to squeeze moments for life.
I was travelling to Tripura, which is a hilly state in northeast India and Agartala, the capital of Tripura and is the second largest city in North-east India after Guwahati. That’s all I knew about Agartala, when I landed one late evening in Agartala. At the back of mind was the feeling that Tripura is a beautiful state so was expecting some free time to go around the city as well.
As the lady luck got benevolent on this poor fellow, I got half a day for myself and an extra 30 minutes as lunch went for a vacation. Got guided by my new friends to visit Temple of 14 Gods, known as Chaturdasha Temple, around 8 km. from Agartala. 
I hired an Auto quickly and reached the sacred “Temple of 14 Gods”, the deity temple of royal family of Tripura and was built by King Krishna Manikya Debbarma around the year 1760. All 14 presiding deities of this temple have been continually worshipped by the royal family of Tripura since times immemorial. Tradition of worshipping all of the Gods together has been a practice and has been delegated to coming generations.

This temple captures the soul of influence of nature on lifestyle of people of Tripura and no surprise, Tripura is also known as the Country of Fourteen Gods and Goddesses. Only Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Goddess Durga are worshipped all throughout the year, while other 11 Gods are worshipped during weeklong Kharchi Puja festival, around July. No worries, you can pray to the beautifully statues:

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VarahNarsimha Simhachalam Temple

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Situated near to Vizag (around 18 Km.) on a hill top, Simhachalam temple, known as "Simhachalam Devasthanam" is believed to be as the oldest temples in the world. The word Simhachalam means the hill of the lion and this temple is a true portrait of rich heritage of Vizag.

Bhakt Prahlad needs no introduction and probably is the most told story to every kid in our country. This is the hill where Lord Vishnu had appeared to save Prahlada who was dropped from top of the hill, by the demon Hiranyakshipu into  the sea. Later on after demon Hiranyakashipu was killed by Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Narsimha, Prahlad had built the first temple at this site. Lord Vishnu is worshipped as Lord VarahaNarasimha (वराह नरसिंह ) here.

The present structure of temple was constructed by King Sri Krishna Devaraya. However a few scripts found here dates to 9th century, Chola Empire and 13th century AD as well.

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Forts, Beaches and Alibaug in the Incredible Western Ghats

Older than the Himalaya mountains, is the Western Ghats ranges that runs parallel to the western coast of the India through the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. A drivable road from inside the lush green forests and alongside the coastline will take you on a journey to a different world.


What is Western Ghats? A world set aside in the serenity of the green mountains, where music of chirping birds and where streams of flowing water play a perfect symphony to the tired souls. Well known for their rich and unique flora and fauna, Western Ghats is one of the eight "hottest hot-spots" of biological diversity in the world and UNESCO has declared Western Ghats, a world heritage site.


As per the studies, Western Ghats are sustaining around 7402 species of flowering plants, 1814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammals' species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6000 insect species and 290 freshwater fish species. This is not all, many may get discovered tomorrow. Over and above these, Western Ghats provides shelter to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.

A small welcome break from the business schedule opened a window to explore the incredible Land of Western Ghats, its biodiversity, nearby a small coastal town of Alibaug. Alibaug is much popular for its neat and clean beaches. It was the time to enjoy attractions near Alibaug.


We started early morning for our first destination, Korlai Fort which is approx. 25 Km. (75 minutes) from Alibaug. Though now in ruins, Korlai Fort is an old Portuguese structure situated on a hill top. Built in the year 1521, Korlai Fort originally meant as a watch point for the invaders and was used to be a house of 7,000 people including horses and Portugese army men. The Korlai Fort is surrounded by Arabian Sea on three sides and has a beautiful lighthouse as major attraction.

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Of food, fun and the run in Jaipur

Jaipur by Nite ended with great food, live music and marathon.


When you are left with a follow-up act to something as soul-stirring as a musical night by Mame Khan and Indian Ocean, the task is indeed a tough one. The ultimate day, or night – Bite Fest, of Jaipur by Nite, however, didn’t fade out to penultimate evening of divine rhythms and musical bliss.
Just think of daal-baati-churma, the spicy panchmela daal and crispy baatis dipped in desi ghee with sweet coarse churma, and you would be lying if you didn’t salivate a bit. Add to that the authentic Rajasthani methi-mangodi ki sabzi served with makki and bajre ki roti, lehsun ki chutney and sangari ka achaar making for those perfect accompaniments, and I am sure you would have found your own heaven right there. I definitely did.
The super crisp golgappas tempted me into filling myself even before the ‘dinner’. The local band Swaraag’s Rajasthani, sufi and Bollywood numbers adding that perfect ambience made it a joyous weekend. Also, the wood-fired oven didn’t only add to the flavours of the pizzas on another restaurant’s stall, the smoke and warmth of it in that breezy night almost hinted at the arrival of chill in the air.
The rustic seating with wooden benches, cots, colourful cushions thrown in, cane garden chairs and low stools adorned with local craftwork added to it all. Luring the tastebuds and making many forget about the diets were stalls serving Kashmiri cuisine, range of burgers, pastas, desserts, south Indian food, and more.
For those who still braved the temptation despite such a spectacular spread around, a couple of restaurants working in the healthy food zone, came to the rescue. It’s rather a point of debate though if they gained on health or lost on taste!

And then they ran:
Health was not a lost case at all as over 1,500 enthusiasts from Jaipur, nearby cities and other part of the country got together for the last act of the three-day event – 10km and 5km marathons. Post 10, the Mubarak Mahal and the grounds had an altogether different buzz to them as groups of runners, in their colourful sportswear, started collecting around for the marathon. 
The longer run started from the City Palace gate, went to Gandhi Circle on JLN Marg and back. The route for the shorter run was from the Palace to SMS Hospital and back. Flagged off by the erstwhile royal Padmanabh Singh, the marathon made for quite a picture with traffic-less roads and lit-up historical buildings as the backdrop, showcasing the citys beauty in the night.
Just like night and moonlight adds to romance, Jaipur by Nite did to the citys charm with its presentation of music, food, fun and the run. Do mark the dates for the next year to experience this yourself.
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Lake Rewalsar...

We started at 8:00 AM from Shimla and took the way to Kullu via Mandi. The objective was to visit Lake Rewalsar, 140 km. from Shimla. Lake Rewalsar (locally called as Tso Pema/ Lotus Lake) along with statue of Padmasambhava (popular as Guru Rinpoche in Tibet) is one of the most popular symbols in Himachal Pradesh tourism advertisements. Surrounded and hidden in rugged mountains this sacred lake is 23 km. from town of Mandi.

It was from this place Indian teacher Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche in Tibet) left for Tibet to spread Mahayana Buddhism in Tibet. Annoyed by fondness of his daughter for long haired Padmasambhava, legend says that the king of Mandi, Vihardhara tried to burn alive the sage Padmasambhava, to prevent his daughter Mandarava running off with him. It is believed that the charred corpse of Padmasambhava liquefied into water forming Lake Rewalsar. The spirit of Padmasambhava is said to still reside in the islands of floating reed since then. Statue of Lord Padmasambhava defines the skyline of Lake Rewalsar.

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Saga of Raja Ram Temple at Orchha

After exploring the Chambal ravines and an amazing pit stop at Sonagiri temples the road to Orchha was in front of us. We have driven for 15 km. from Sonagiri, when a fort along side a river came to our sight. It was the imposing 7 storied Datia Fort, also known as Bir Singh Palace. However no member of Datia royal family ever lived in this palace.


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The Blue City of Jodhpur...

City of Jodhpur, also known as Blue City has been a travelers 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. Check Mehrangarh Fort on top of the Hill:


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Kuldhara - Curse of the Exodus

"A COMMUNITY VANISHED OVERNIGHT"

Where people used to celebrate festivals, sit together in the night alongside 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. But, Why...?

Something had happened one night when all the residents from Kuldhara had abandoned the place; however they left a curse that this place will never be inhabited again. The curse stays till date...


Most of the curiosity is centered on the main village of Kuldhara where the head of Paliwal clan used to live. However, there are 84 more villages around Kuldhara which are also lying abandoned till date.
Haunted lanes

If we take a plunge into the history lanes, all the abandoned places have been flourishing centers in various time zones, some of them were way ahead of then civilizations. This is true for Bhangarh and I believe the same for Kuldhara too. So first investigate 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 believed 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 farmers were adept in cultivating crops like wheat in the desert lands. It’s 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 that each new family was welcomed with a brick and a gold coin from every other family in the village. Brick was meant to build a house and gold coin 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  entire community from the Kuldhara area. It is believed 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, people 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.

So structure of the houses should have remained intact, albeit with 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 around 80 families and got abandoned along with Kuldhara.


Now Paliwals reside in many parts of the country and doing well, but some of them do not celebrate Rakshabandhan till date. It is believed that Kuldhara was abandoned 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 23 Kms. from Jaisalmer City, one can hire auto rickshaw or taxi to Kuldhara. However, to include Khaba fort in your visit itinerary, better hire a taxi. 


Keep exploring Folks.
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Kolkata - The city with a spirit

Travelling to Kolkata was on my list for a long time until I finally decided to set off and see what the world is like in the south eastern part of India. I am from the north so I had only heard about it or seen it in travel channels, old Bollywood movies and other stuff like that.

I travel on a predefined budget and this time it was no different. I made the train bookings and decided to not plan too much and leave some room for adventure. This was going to be like an alien visit as I do not speak anything except English or Hindi but this didn’t seem like a problem at the time.

Another thing which was fascinating about the journey was that we were going in the worst possible weather conditions. But fortunately, the monsoons were late and we were left with the Indian summers in a train journey that would last for at least 40 hours.

Me and my friend, who is an athlete (read superhuman), were excited to hit the roads again as it had been two years since we had travelled together.


So we boarded the 8:30 train from Dehradun railway station and set off to a long journey which would take us all the way through Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and then finally to West Bengal. The best part about travelling is not the destination but the journey.

Travelling with so many people is really an enriching experience for the mind and soul. Train journeys are so special because you get a chance to actually interact with lot of people and it is an excelleny way to satisfy the inner curiosity.

 

We saw some pretty great things on the train and came to realize that we should avoid eating the food that they sell at the station and try to live on fruits and stuff which doesn’t spoil like soaked grams and boiled eggs etc.

Kolkata is a major tourist attraction for people from all across the world mainly because it was the capital of India and the first metropolitan city as well. The Bengali culture is considered one of the richest and most attractive cultures throughout the world with its extensive popularity in the fields of film, music and literature.

Being an art and history lover so I was really excited to see some museums and visit libraries as well.

So we reached Kolkata at the right time (thankfully). Getting off at the platform of one of the biggest cities in a country like India is an experience that no one should miss. An astounding number of people in a single place is a sight to be seen. I think that is why Kolkata is considered a destination for travelling veterans, maybe to take the culture shock in a lighter spirit.

We were startled by the speed by which everything works there. You can see markets starting not too far from the platforms and people actually start shopping the moment they step their foot in this city. It was quite amusing to see chaos at such an early stage and the day had just begun.

 

When you step out the railway station, the first thing that you see is the glorious Howrah Bridge and before it stands the glorious Rabindranath Setu. It is a huge steel structure which looks magnificent from every angle that you can see. Built in 1943, this bridge is still an engineering marvel.


We found the buses going to the inner part of the city and it was not difficult to find a bus to the nearest hot spot of the city which is called New Market. We knew that we will find accommodation and good places to eat there. After all, food was one of the major things which drew us to Kolkata all the way from the north.

 

We saw a few hotels and finalized hotel Raunak which was near Nizams, a traditional restaurant which offers great Mughalai and authentic bengali food. The hotel is situated at the main marketplace near the S.S hogg market and we were able to get a room for two at 550/- per night. The rooms were reasonably clean and there was nothing fancy. We needed rooms to sleep so we just kept our bags in the room and left to explore.

We had a list of foods to try and places to visit so it was not difficult to decide that we needed some tasty breakfast and “Kusum” rolls was what we needed at the time.
Now I will cut it down to the best parts and will tell you what to do while you are in Kolkata.

Eating:
Kusum rolls are a shop on Park Street which offers what I can call the best kathi rolls on the face of planet earth. It was a nice walk and it was cloudy which made it a pleasant experience. You can easily board a metro rail and reach Park Street from new market for just 5 bucks. As I said we were an excited bunch of free travelers who like to be on their feet. We took a long walk and managed to reach kusum rolls at around 11:00 in the morning.
We had a single chicken single egg roll for 45 bucks and got a great deal. For the veggies out there, some great options are available and you can easily get a tasty kathi roll at a price which makes both your stomach and your pocket happy.
It was hands down the best chicken roll that I had ever eaten and I still get nostalgic hungry when I think of the taste which they are able to provide in such a tasty meal (read work of art).
Another place, Deckers Lane on the part street, is what I can call the heaven for street food lovers.

You should definitely try the fish cutlets from any of the restaurants and you will happily say that you have never had such fish in your life. 

Deckers lane is also famous for its chicken chowmein. We loved eating the spicy mix of chicken with a symphony of chilly chicken gravy, making it the best part-chinese food that can be found in India. And it costs just 36/- bucks for a plate. Can it get any better? NO. 



We returned to this place many times and now it was the time for the grand finale. Fish and rice is the food of the common man in Bengal. The most authentic Bengali meal without which, this trip would be incomplete. We asked for the best place to have this meal as it was definitely which our friends would ask us about, so we narrowed it down to Hindu hotel and ordered a “maach bhaat”/ fish and rice. The 5 minute wait seemed like 5 light years and then the food was served.


I still remember the look on my friends face when we saw what was served. It was mighty. We were served a lot of rice in a plate, a bowl of fish in curry which looked delicious, a vegetable mix with “kerela and aaloo” (bitter gourd and potatoes), a vegetable curry and a legume curry.
Just count the number of things and imagine how two people would have felt after seeing the meal, the people who had walked 20 kilometers that day.  Then meal was lavish and we ate till our stomachs’ full capacity. This was undeniably the best fish and rice that one can think of eating. It was exactly like we expected and we were speechless after the amount of money they asked from us. A hundred rupee note was asked for a full meal for two. This is what I love about this city. The food is so tasty and economical. One can never go hungry in Kolkata.

Apart from what I have already told you, I am listing some other things that you must eat in Kolkata.
Ghugni aka life saver:
Ghugni is a simple but taste bud provoking meal which can be found at Deckers lane as well. They have these little earthen furnaces which burn with coal and everything is cooked on them. You get two loaves of grilled toast with butter with a pea and potato curry and black pepper sprinkled over it. It will cost you 12/- bucks and then you will finally believe that money doesn’t keep one hungry if you are in Kolkata.

Puchkas aka Pani Puri aka Gol Gappe:
Puchkas are loved all over India and Kolkata is one of the places where the love for these spicy balls of pleasure is at peak. You can find them anywhere while strolling down the numerous markets from Park Street to New Market. Don’t forget to ask for extra sweet water in the end to give it a dessert like end.
Rosogulla:
Can there be a visit to Kolkata without having mentioned this sweet blessing? We went to the K. C Das sweet shop (paradise you can call it) and tried a Saundesh (another gem) and authentic bengali rosugullas at just 10 rs a piece. I told you already, happiness costs less in this city of taste and tasty cuisines.
Samosas aka Sinnghara are also a delightful snack which can be tried with your favorite chaa (tea) which is served in little earthen pots which gives it a real indian feeling which is priceless actually.
We visited some other places which were on our list. I am listing some places which you HAVE to visit when in Kolkata. 
  • S.S Hogg Market 
  • New Market
  • The Park street
  • Esplanade
  • Victoria Memorial
  • Indian Museum
  • Teretti Market
  • Mullick Ghat
  • Howraw Brigde
  • Kewpies (missed)
Victoria Memorial is a huge and magnificent marble building which was built between 1900 and 1920. 


It is one of the most enthralling landmarks of Kolkata. It was built by George Curzon in the memory of Queen Victoria after her death. He said "Let us, therefore, have a building, stately, spacious, monumental and grand, to which every newcomer in Calcutta will turn, to which all the resident population, European and Native, will flock, where all classes will learn the lessons of history, and see revived before their eyes the marvels of the past."
You can find her life size statue in the main hall. The whole monument has around 25 galleries in total. These include the royal gallery, the national leader’s gallery, the portrait gallery, central hall, the sculpture gallery, the arms and armory gallery and the newer, Calcutta gallery. There are a lot of epic works by Shakespeare and some traditional literature about music and dance if you are interested in literature.
The Victoria Memorial boasts of the major collection of the works of Thomas Danielle (1749–1840) and his nephew, William Daniell. This place is a must visit for all the architecture and history lovers out there. Even if you aren’t, you are going to love it.
Now for the religious folks, there are some great temples where you can quench your spiritual thirst and fill your mind with peace.

Visit the Kali Math Temple. It is an easy metro ride and a kilometers walk to the temple. Please avoid the scams. People will come to you and will convince you that they will take you for VIP darshan and you won’t have to stand in line if you pay them a quick 50/- . 

Remember, everyone will have to stand in line, the timing depends on the crowd. You can get a lot of souvenirs for your family if you like it and don’t forget to look around a bit.
Another magnificent temple is the Belur Math. Great piece of architecture with a greater atmosphere. The Belur math was one of the most peaceful places that I had ever seen and it was truly a once in a lifetime experience seeing Indian culture and its heritage for real. We went to the inner hall and found many people meditating and chanting inside the huge hall. It seemed like a heavenly experience for all the seekers of the spiritual truth. If you are one of them, don’t miss this place and add it to your bucket list.

Now it was time to do something which we had been waiting since we had gotten on the train.
We were on our way to the next temple, Dakshineshwar. And we had to take a ferry ride all the way across the Hooghly River. It is more amazing than it sounds!
When you reach the Ghats you get this tingling sensation in your feet, looking at the huge river and those little boats which carry 12-15 people at a time. We hopped on the ferry with excitement and then it started. Ah! how good it felt to smoothly sail on the greatest river in India.       

The waters were calm and every bit of the journey was like food to the soul. The 20 minute ride left us at the temple and this temple was an even greater structure.

You can find a lot of friendly Langur Monkeys (read gigantic monkeys with huge tails who can bitchslap you with one eye closed) who sit patiently for visitors to sit with them and sometimes feed them with their own hands!

The Dakshineshwar temple starts with a lively market where you can buy statues and pictures of gods and get souvenirs for your family, there are many stalls to eat if you feel hungry after the ferry ride and all the walking.
Another place to cherish and enjoy. The whole environment gives you a feeling of belonging and you do not feel that you are so far away from home. We clicked some pictures of the friendly langurs and set off to catch the returning ferry ride.

We travelled mostly on foot but we enjoyed the local transport as well. Don’t forget to catch a metro ride in the country’s oldest metro rails. Ride a yellow taxi or jump up on a tram. Trams are really interesting and the way they run on the roads beside the main traffic, it is really strange and wonderful to watch. The local buses are colorful, their interiors are broken and weary but worth experiencing.


Kolkata does something to you which cannot be reversed. Whether it is listening to the Bengali language which sounds so sweet that all other languages seem strange. Whether it is taking those long walks in the evening markets or just watching people as they do their daily chores around the city. Travelling to this city leaves an everlasting impression on your soul as a person and as a traveler.

For every adventure and travel enthusiast, the chaos and struggle of the city is enough to pull them towards getting an experience of this city where life is simple, fast and reckless. Kolkata is the perfect destination for travel veterans as well as for those who want to see India as it is, for real.

Writing this makes me realize the importance of travelling and that seeing new places in life is the only thing that can make you feel alive for real.
Nothing is more enriching or fulfilling than exploring the places about which you have only read or heard. Being there, is the most addictive part about these places and I can say that I am quite lucky to have been bit by the travel bug at an early age.

No job, No money, No comfort, Nothing can match the joy of travelling and a trip to a city with a spirit, like Kolkata can make you rethink about your life and goals and most probably will make you realize what you are and who you want to be.


Pack your bags, leave. Kolkata is waiting.  

Contributed by Nikhil Godiyal...

From Kolkata, holy land of Lord Jagannath, Puri is only 500 km, 8-10 hours journey. Do not forget to visit...
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