Archive for the ‘North india’ Category

Day 1: Royal and Mystical Tryst with Jaipur, Rajasthan

Posted on April 8th, 2010 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off

Jaipur City Palace
Jaipur City Palace

For me traveling is tantamount to happiness. When I travel  I feel in rhythm with the universe. ‘Discover India’ is one of my favorite programs on Discovery channel which never fails to capture my travel-obsessed heart. This time after watching a program on Rajasthan attractions the fancy to see the royal and opulent palaces of the raja-maharajas struck me. I, since my childhood days, cherished a grandiloquent piece of whimsy to live like a queen in a palace and to wander like a nomad on the sand dunes.

Assailed by my ardent desire I decided to visit Rajasthan. Monika and Anand, my friends who I affectionately call my travel comrades joined me on this tour. Well all three of us belong to the same breed of human beings, who get transported to the world of rapture upon hearing the word ‘travel’.

Rajasthan, the very word conjures up images of stunning palaces, majestic forts, people dressed in colorful clothes with a bright smile on their faces and last but not the least the unfathomable sand dunes. It is truly a land of contrasts. From lush green gardens to desert, Rajasthan has it all. Our first halt in Rajasthan was Jaipur , the Pink city. We were booked in one of the best heritage hotels of the country, the Samode Palace to taste royalty in plenty. Royal treatment begins at the entrance gate of the palace and it lasts till you slip into deep dreamless slumber and then again you wake up in the lap of luxury. This palace is a celebration of the rich cultural heritage left behind by the raja-maharajas of the bygone era. We reached here in the evening.

Anand had come to Rajasthan for the first time and was enjoying it to the hilt. He said, “I am completely bowled over by the extravagantly royal and traditional ambiance of the Samode palace”. Seeing his delight I said, “Dear, it is only a sort of amuse-bouche before the Rajasthan’s classy attractions are served up – City Palace, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Amber Fort and Lake Palace.

Now it was time for some rest and refreshment by the pool. The poolside pavilions done to perfection and the gorgeous green garden overflowing with scented flowers and a variety of trees were a treat for the senses. We were here for candlelight dinner. Sounds overwhelming! Enjoying the beauty, luxury and royalty of the ambiance I smilingly said, ‘ I am loving being in the lap of luxury’. And Anand, who never gives a miss to an opportunity to pull my leg, immediately replied, well, “Living in the lap of luxury isn’t bad, except that you never know when luxury is going to stand up”. Hearing his witty remark all three of us burst out laughing. No wonder we were enjoying ourselves and every moment of our tour was truly worthwhile.

To pamper our taste buds we ordered traditional Rajasthani dishes and some exciting sweet dishes. I, a fitness freak, for the first time left behind the undesirable thoughts of counting calories and was all set to give in to the temptation as the delicious regional cuisine was irresistible. After eating to our heart’s content we headed towards our respective rooms, rather royal apartments, and slipped into the bed. The next day we explored the fascinating and royal structures of Jaipur:

City Palace
It is one of the most royal attractions of the city. A perfect combination of Rajputana and Mughal architectural styles, the palace has stunning apartments such as Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas.

Hawa Mahal
Reflecting the glory of Rajputana architecture, Hawa Mahal is an architectural marvel. The walls of this wondrous structure are pierced with more that 900 windows. These were especially designed to allow the royal ladies to see the street processions without themselves being seen.

Amber Fort
Majestic, grand and stunning, such is the Amber Fort of Jaipur. Fashioned out of marble and red sandstone, it is charming amalgamation of Rajput and Mughal style of architecture. It was built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh I. Its mesmerizing exterior and stunning interiors, never fail to impress the visitors. The huge courtyards, beautiful carvings, stunning mirror work, mosaic work, secret pathways and wonderful apartments of the fort speak volumes about its glorious past.

Flaunting the quintessential Rajasthani features, Jaisalmer is a mystic city. It was the second destination on our itinerary. With great memories of royal experiences, we bid goodbye to Jaipur and headed towards Jaisalmer.

Rajasthan Cities- They have the history, tradition, and grandeur!

Posted on March 12th, 2010 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off

Udaipur LakesUdaipur Lakes

The moment I stepped into the incredible land of Rajasthan the ‘wow’ factor took over. And it did not fade away till the very end of my Rajasthan tour. As I had expected from Rajasthan, its attractions were royal, beautiful and majestic. Hospitality seems to come naturally to this land of raja-maharajas. Enveloped by the charm of the fascinating beauty of this destination I started my journey with its most romantic city, Udiapur.

My travel-obsessed heart could feel the air of classy warmth and charm in Udaipur. I was booked in The Oberoi Udaivilas, one of the finest heritage hotels in India. With its majestic aura, royal treatment, stunning interiors and warm hospitality, it had left me spell bound. After gorging on delicious breakfast I along with my guide Bhupender Singh headed towards the enchanting City Palace. Its interiors are embellished with royal paintings, mirror work and carvings. The palace complex encompasses several magnificent buildings, terraces, courtyards, corridors, pavilions, hanging gardens and museum. The Manak mahal, Mor Chowk and crystal gallery are the structures I liked the most. The palace also offers a picturesque view of the Pichola lake and Lake palace( one of the most luxurious and stunning heritage hotels of India).

Udaipur is popularly known as the ‘City of lakes’ which is famous throughout the world for its charm. Its foundation was laid by Maharana Udai Singh in the year 1568.

While coming out of the City Palace my gaze froze at a tree awash with bats. It was truly a sight to behold. From there I moved to Lake Pichola and enjoyed a boat ride. It was such a refreshing experience. Built in 1743, the Lake Palace is set amidst the lake. Post lunch I visited Fateh Prakash Lake which is a huge and beautiful water body. For a moment I felt as if I am in some southern region of India, somewhere near Kerala. Rajasthan truly has different colors and flavors to offer to tourists.

As I also had to explore some other cities of Rajasthan I decided to make a move from Udaipur towards Jodhpur. But how could I have left without enjoying shopping in this colorful city. I halted at the market and I joyfully indulged in shopping, ended up buying eight tie and dye suits and two saris. Really, it is impossible to resist shopping in Udaipur.

Sitting in the car with a mind overflowing with wonderful Udaipur memories I headed towards Jodhpur. The other cities of Rajasthan in my itinerary were Jaisalmer and Jaipur. These princely cities are the brightest jewels of this Rajput land.

Gulmarg Tourism: A Heavenly Trip to a Heaven

Posted on January 29th, 2010 by admin  |  Comments Off

 Gulmarg Tour Gulmarg Tour

I had never thought that my adventure fever would take me to a journey where I could enjoy beauty as well as thrill at highest. The best part was when I saw the Indo-Pak border with naked eyes, and I had goose-bumps. Friends, it was Gulmarg – the meadow of flowers – the gem of Jammu & Kashmir. While going through the Gulmarg tourism guide, I came to know that the place was discovered by the British in 1927 as a superb hill resort. Moreover, it served as a favourite place of Emperor Jehangir who collected 21 different varieties of wild flowers from here. And it was real!!

Anyways, I was lying amidst magical meadows, snow capped mountains, and picturesque alpines that have altogether provided wonderful background for several Bollywood ventures. Although it was a one-day trip, I decided to keep my luggage in a hotel before leaving for some exciting adventure sports. On my way, I also paid a short visit to the shrine of Baba Reshi, a Muslim mystic saint.

My adventure journey in this region of Baramulla district of J&K started from Khilanmarg, where I enjoyed the best skiing of my lifetime. I hired the skis and sticks, snow boots, woollen socks, mufflers, windproof jackets, goggles, and caps. I was accompanied by a ski instructor who taught me the proper way to perform skiing. That short class offered by him was quite helpful in blind slopes.

After skiing for around a couple of hours, I searched for a restaurant where I enjoyed awesome Rogan Josh, a traditional non-vegetarian dish. Next I headed for the Alpather Lake, a picturesque alpine lake that remains frozen until late June. As an adventure seeker, I wished to take the one-day & 13 km trekking route from Gulmarg to the Alpather Lake, but later I dropped the idea and decided to go for a nature walk amidst the pine forests.

I also paid a visit to the gorgeous green golf course in Gulmarg, which boast of being the highest golf course in the world. This way, it was an ideal trip that offered me beauty as well as thrill. The place was mesmerizing. After all, it was a heavenly trip to a heaven!

Nainital- The Crowd Puller!

Posted on December 17th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off

 Nainital Lake Nainital Lake

Traveling is the most beautiful and rejuvenating activity for me in this world. Nothing compares the pleasure of exploring new destinations. The spark of traveling in my heart never fades away and this time it took me to Nainital. Again I was ready to learn and grow, to stretch my limits and appreciate overwhelming nature fashioned by the almighty. Some of my friends came along as their world also orbits around traveling.

In the early hours of the morning when I stepped out of my hotel room, I was elated to see the calm and beautiful Naini lake. As I walked towards the lake my eyes caught sight of the rising sun whose orange rays cloaked the hill tops, making them look like a heap of gold. Enjoying the boat ride on the lake I saw a White-throated Kingfisher perched on a boat feasting on a fish. It was a sight to behold.

The lake is the most attractive feature of Nainital. It is a fresh water natural lake, which is highly picturesque. Here one can enjoy boating in three different types of boats- yacht, rowing boats and paddle boats. The road running parallel to the lake is called Mall road, which is dotted with wonderful trees, hotels and shops.

Next we went to the Naina Devi temple located on the northern shore of the lake. It is a famous temple dedicated to Maa Naina Devi ( an incarnation of goddess Parvati). The pujari of the temple told us an interesting legend associated with the temple and the lake.

Our next halt was the enchanting Naini Peak, also known as the China peak. We reached there on ponies, enjoying the journey to the hilt. The romantic, peaceful and blissful aura of the peak captured my heart and I tried my best to capture such a pristine beauty in my camera. The peak offers breathtaking views of Nainital. From there we headed towards the city for lunch. We dined at one of the restaurants named Khana Khazana and the food it served was really tasty. As we moved out of the restaurant after having a hearty lunch it started to rain.

My friend Monika commented, “it is also a part of the adventure”. We immediately bought umbrellas from the small shops lining the road, and when I saw Tahir’s umbrella I burst out laughing. He had bought a huge ‘family-size’ multi-colored umbrella. Anyway it was sheer fun to stroll through the mall road in rain with the funny umbrellas.

Day 2: Shimla Jakhu Temple- An Unusual Experience!

Posted on November 19th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off

Jakhu TempleJakhu Temple

Next day our morning started with a leisurely walk down the winding lanes of Shimla. Our hotel was located at one of the highest points in the city, which was a great advantage. The mountain air was cool and fresh, which was an attraction in itself. And the picturesque views of the hills and valleys were simply overwhelming.

Post breakfast we headed for the famous Jakhu Temple (Monkey temple) of Shimla. It is located at an altitude of 2500 m, which is the highest point in the city. Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, it is an ancient temple. According to the legend when Lord Hanuman was searching for the Sanjivni Booti to revive Lakshman in the Epic Ramayana, he rested here for some time. The temple serves as a venue for a grand festival during Dusshera.

The path leading to the temple is steep. It takes around 45 minutes to climb to the temple from the Ridge road. And one can go to the temple on foot or can hire a pony/horse. We chose to go on foot and really enjoyed the arduous path and the views of the wonderful surroundings. But no doubt the steepness of the path really challenged out fitness. Although I felt tired after reaching the temple but at the same time I felt victorious because I could complete the trek in 35 minutes.

Before starting the trekking to the temple we read the board, which says, ‘if you are under 30 and complete the trek in 40 mints or less you are ‘Fit’. Other categories were also mentioned. The temple seems to be an abode of monkeys. They were everywhere. Seeing so many monkeys we became a little careful about our belongings as people say that the monkeys snatch away whatever they like. It is said that these monkeys don’t attack people unless fiddled with.

When we were coming back from the temple a monkey cleverly took off Tahir’s glasses. We kept following him in a hope to get the glasses back. We gave him a bunch of bananas and finally he gave back the glasses to us. We were amazed that the monkey didn’t do anything to the glasses. May be he was very clear about his goal, which he could easily achieve. Seeing this drama Sanjog commented, “ No wonder monkeys are our ancestors and and are much smarter than us”.

Day 1: Shimla- One Can never Get Enough Of It!

Posted on November 12th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off

At an unearthly hour my phone rang. I reluctantly dragged myself

Shimla City Shimla City

out of the deep dreamless slumber to receive the call. It was Monika, a friend of mine who I affectionately call ‘my travel comrade’. She is one person in my entire social network who inhabits my world ( a world overflowing with the passion of traveling). Before I could even finish saying ‘what happened, everything alright’ she interrupted in between and said “I and some of my friends are going to Shimla next week. I am sure you are coming”. Her ‘am sure’ clearly reflects how well she knows me. Of course, my answer was ‘yes’.

The next thought that crossed my mind was ‘what about the boss’? Well here I am not talking about taking my boss along (the only thing I like about him is  the presence of his absence). The question was how to ask for 5 days leave. Anyway I was sure I will somehow manage to open up my boss’s Buddhahood, as these five days were the steps for me to Nirvana. For me traveling is tantamount to Nirvana.

After a not-so-bad journey by car, we a group of 7 people ( Monika, Tahir, Shakeel, Sanjog, Abhishek, Deepika and me) reached Shimla, the Queen of Hill Stations at around 8:30 pm. We were booked in the Clark’s hotel, which is one of the finest hotels in Shimla.

Post breakfast, we set out walking towards mall road and enjoyed the healthy and soothing environment of Shimla to the hilt. How much we crave for such a pollution free environment in Delhi. It is a perfect place to unwind.

Our first halt was Mall Road, the main shopping street of Shimla.

Shimla Night Life Shimla Night Life

The interesting thing about it is that no vehicles are allowed on this road, which allows tourists and locals to move about easily and freely. It was constructed during the British rule. It is lined with many showrooms, departmental stores, restaurants, stalls and emporiums. This is the best place to shop for the colorful handicrafts of Himachal Pradesh. From beautiful shawls to pottery items, all are available here.

Post lunch we headed for our next destination, the Ridge Road, which runs east to west alongside the Mall Road. On its east side it leads to Lakkar Bazaar, a wooden craft market. The Ridge Road offers mesmerizing views of the majestic mountains. Other attractions here are the neo-Gothic structure of Church dating back to 1844 and a tudorbethan styled library built in 1910.

In case you wish to get photographed in a typical Himachali dress, colorful traditional dresses are available here on rent. After a lot of struggle to choose the best one for myself, I found an attractive fiery red dress. Deepika chose maroon. The experience was overwhelming.

Khajuraho – A Classy World Heritage Site

Posted on July 30th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off

For a travel enthusiast like me travelling is like a ‘celebration’.

khajurahoKhajuraho Temple

Snatching a few days from my busy schedule, I planned to explore some of the World Heritage Sites in India. No wonder, for me, travelling was the perfect antidote to the drudgery of fast-paced urban life. India’s mind-bending diversity has always fascinated me and for me exploring this wondrous land is like experiencing the joy of heaven on earth.

My first destination was Khajuraho village, one of the most famed tourist destinations in India. I had done my homework of browsing various travel sites on Khajuraho before stepping into this World Heritage Site. It is located in Chhatarpur district in Madhya Pradesh. And fortunately my trip coincided with the Khajuraho Dance Festival.

Known across the world, Khajuraho is famed for its largest group of medieval, Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures. The history of the heritage monuments of this glorious village spans over centuries.

Finally I along with my guide Ramesh reached the temples of Khajuraho to capture their enigmatic, enchanting and erotic beauty. Built in the period between 9th to 12th centuries, still retaining their old-world charm, these temples boasts of overwhelming sculptures. Their architectural beauty is unmatched, in fact, extraordinary. Each sculpture was carved meticulously.

Ramesh told me about the legends associated with the Khajuraho temples, which were quite interesting. He even told me about the various facts about their architecture. I was completely bowled over by the beauty of the temples. I captured the incredible beauty of the temples in my camera to make my own record of golden memories. I also go an opportunity to interact with some Japanese tourists who had come to see the heritage of India. Mitoshi, a young Japanese chap said “I am completely mesmerized by the rich cultural heritage of India”. His words were a delightful treat to my ears.

After soaking myself in the enchanting beauty of Khauraho Temples, I was eagerly waiting to see the charm of the Khajuraho Dance Festival. I reached the Chitragupta Temple, which serves as the venue for the festival. Dancers clad in their best of attires set the state on fire with their breathtaking dance performances, both classical and modern. I bought some wonderful handicrafts from the stalls set at the venue. A visit to Khajuraho was a celebration in the true sense of the word!