Archive for the ‘Rajasthan’ Category

Adventure Sports Options Galore in India

Posted on March 31st, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off

Indian Wildlife Tour River Rafting

Adventure means different things to different people. For me exploring any part of this world is in itself an adventure and for my best friend Shivani adventure is synonymous with adventure sports like river rafting, trekking, biking and much more. So we decided to take an adventure tour of India to enjoy the beauty and adventure of several tourist destinations of India. We enjoyed river rafting, trekking, skiing and many more activities. We were rejuvenated to the hilt.

India is an incredible land offering a slew of adventure sports facilities for adventure lovers who come here from across the globe. Some of the famous adventure sports of India are:

Rock climbing
This interesting adventure activity can be best enjoyed at Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Mysore, Ramanagram in Karnataka, Bangalore, Mount Abu in Rajasthan, Panchmarhi in Madhya Pradesh and Gangotri gorge in Uttar Pradesh.

Mountaineering
This challenging activity is meant only for the brave hearts and physically fit people. The Himalayan range of India is perfect for this sport and several other adventure sports. Kamet and Dunagiri (7088) and Nanda Devi (7800 m) are the most popular destinations for mountaineering in India.

White water rafting
Full of thrill and adventure this adventure sport can be best experienced at the following destinations- River Ganges,tons, Bhilangana, Yamuna, Mandakani, Kalisor, Zanskar, Beas, Alaknanda and Mandakani.

Trekking
This is one adventure activity which can be enjoyed by almost all tourists. Some of the best places for trekking are Kullu, Kinnaur, Ladakh, Spiti, Lahaul, Garhwal, Kumaon and Sikkim.

Angling and Fishing
The lakes of Kashmir, streams of Kerala and the lakes of the upper Himalayas offer great opportunities for fishing and angling.

Safaris
Travel to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan for enthralling camel safari on the unfathomable sand dunes. And if you wish to enjoy elephant safari, Kerala is the best place. The wildlife destinations of India also provide facilities for elephant safari.

Paragliding
For enjoying the thrill of paragliding visit the places such as Darjeeling, Solang valley, Auli, Gangtok, Sansar and Goa.

Skiing
A big hit with tourists skiing can be best enjoyed at Gulmarg, Kufri, Manali and Mundali.

Motor biking
It is an interesting way of exploring some tourist destination of India like Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner and Mandawa.

There are several more adventure sports and activities which India offer. Adventure sports options galore here!

India Forts and Palaces Tour-Part I

Posted on January 25th, 2011 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off

 Red Fort, Delhi Red Fort, Delhi

One of my friends from New York had come to India for her cousin sister’s marriage. I was so delighted to see her after almost 20 years. She is an Indian but went to New York when she was only 10. She has always been fascinated by the cultural heritage of India and wanted to explore its attractions, especially its forts and palaces. The day after the wedding ceremony I and my friend set out on the Indian Forts and Palaces tour. Visiting all the forts and palaces of India was not feasible in such a short span of time so we visited the famous forts and palaces of North India and South India.

The forts and palaces of India which we covered in North India are:

Red Fort in Delhi
It is a major attraction of Delhi steeped in glorious history. Built in red sandstone by great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, the fort is a marvelous architectural piece. The fort boasts of huge audience halls, stunning marble palace once studded with precious stones, a bustling bazaar where the royal ladies used to shop, a mosque and refreshing gardens with fountains and flowers.

Red Fort in Agra
A wonderful attraction of Agra, this fort houses amazing structures such as Jahangir Palace, Khas Mahal, Diwan-e-aam, Diwan-e-Khas and two beautiful mosques. This magnificent fort was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar as a stronghold of the Mughal Empire. This majestic red sandstone structure has 2.5 km long enclosure walls. Located at a close distance from this fort is the world famous Taj Mahal. We also visited Taj Mahal which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This stupendous white marble structure is a mausoleum built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal in the 17th century. Representing the perfect combination of different architectural styles, it mesmerizes the onlookers with its architectural beauty.

City Palace in Jaipur
This splendid palace, the landmark of Jaipur, is located in the capital city of Rajasthan. Rajasthan is the most colorful and culturally rich destination of India. One must visit Rajasthan to get the real taste of India. Aptly called the land of raja-maharajas, this destination boasts of the best palaces and forts in the country. The City Palace is a fine blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture built by Maharaja Jai Singh II. Located on a hill it is famous for its architecture, lavish use of marble and mirror work, frescoes, wall paintings, silver doors and crystal gallery.

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
It is the famous landmark of Jaipur known for its unique architectural design. Built in 1799 in red sand stone it is pierced with more than 900 small windows. Representing a honeycomb structure it was especially built to allow the royal ladies to see the street processions through the windows without themselves being seen.

Lake Palace, Udaipur
Udaipur is an enchanting city of Rajasthan and Lake Palace
is the most enchanting attraction of Udaipur. Located amidst the Lake Pichola, this palace is built in white marble boasting of several royal apartments inside it. It is one of the finest heritage hotels of India.

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
Once the largest royal residence in the world, Umaid Bhawan Palace is now a famous heritage hotel. Its stunning architectural beauty will surely sweep you off your feet. Sprawling across acres of land, it is a magnificent structure. It has 98 rooms offering royal facilities and services. Once can see period furniture here. There is a museum here which displays a variety of articles belonging to the erstwhile royal families.

Agra Tour

Posted on January 3rd, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off

 Tajmahal Tour TajMahal

Agra has always fascinated tourists from across the world with its extraordinary ‘Taj Mahal’ and I am no exception. In fact, it is one place in India where I can go millions of times. The beauty and aura of Taj Mahal and other places of interest near this Mughal city have something special about them which bring me here time and again. This time I had come to this world famous city with my colleagues. They were visiting Agra for the first time and I for the fifth time.

After an easy train journey of two and a half hours we reached Agra from Delhi in the late evening. Agra is the most visited tourist destination of India and is also a part of the Golden Triangle Tour (the most famous tour of India). The Golden Triangle Tour is very famous among international tourists. We were booked in the Mansingh Palace Hotel which is one of the finest hotels here. This hotel got its name from the Rajput Emperor Sawai Mansingh who was a very close associate of Mughal Emperor Akbar. We visited Taj Mahal in the early morning to catch the glimpses of this incredible monument in the first gleam of morning rays.

Taj Mahal is considered the finest masterpiece of Mughal architecture and is recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is also a World Heritage Site. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is a mausoleum located on the west bank of river Yamuna. This grand edifice was completed in 20 years and around 20,000 workers worked day and night to make it what it is today.

The interiors of this majestic monument were studded with more than 28 types of precious and semi-precious stones. The architecture of Taj Mahal is a fabulous synthesis of Indian and Persian styles. Its lattice work, inlay decorations, calligraphic representations and incised painting deserve special mention. The calligraphy of this monument mainly consists of the verses and passages from the holy book of Kuran.

After admiring the beauty of Taj Mahal we sat in the garden surrounding the monument for some time. It was truly such a refreshing experience to visit Taj Mahal. We enjoyed eating at the local shops in the market. We also bought petha, the famous sweet of this city. And then we shopped for leather ware, marble statues, carpets and artificial jewelry at bargained rates from the bazaar. It was such a delight!

Day 2- Jaisalmer Tour

Posted on June 3rd, 2010 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off

 Jaisalmer Sand Dunes Jaisalmer Sand Dunes

On our way to Jaisalmer I was chatting with Anand and Monika was relaxing her tired muscles at the back seat of our Innova car. He shared that he always nurtured a desire to travel to Rajasthan desert and experience the beauty of unfathomable sand dunes and the lifestyle of Rajasthanis. Smilingly I said, “I am hopeful that this Jaisalmer trip will show you a slice of the life, which you always wanted to see and experience”. Finally we reached Jaisalmer, the wondrous city of Rajasthan.

We were booked in Narayan Niwas Palace, which is one of the finest heritage hotel of Rajasthan. It is a majestic heritage property consisting of several sandstone structures with intricate carvings. It was a great experience to stay in this heritage hotel.

Jaisalmer is a fascinating city of Rajasthan where tourists can experience the rustic charm of sand dunes, the royalty of heritage hotels and the colorful life of villagers. The natural beauty of this place is simply mysterious and enchanting. This city is affectionately dubbed as the ‘Golden City’. It was established in 1156 AD by Rawal Jaisal. At one point of time it served as an important trade route connecting India to Egypt.

Post breakfast we embarked on our journey to explore Jaisalmer attractions. Our first halt was Jaisalmer Fort which is popularly known as Sonar Quila(the Golden fort). It is located on Trikuta Hill and is the second oldest fort in Rajasthan. The Fort was shining like a jewel in the sun rays and was looking stunning. Our guide Rupesh told us that it was once inhabited by the Rajputs and Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal was the founder of this fort. This wonderful royal structure reflects a perfect amalgamation of Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. There are 99 bastions inside the fort but we could see only a few. This fort with three layers of walls was mainly built for defense purpose.

After a delicious lunch at one of the restaurants in the city we were ready for the most adventurous part of our journey. We headed towards the Sam Sand Dunes which is located at a distance of 45 km from Jaisalmer. As we reached the sand dunes I felt as if I have stepped into the times of Alladin. There we enjoyed camel safari and treated our senses with a breathtaking sunset view. Captivating natural beauty, peaceful ambiance and adventurous camel ride, all this really made our day!

In the end Anand said, “ I am overwhelmed”. This one sentence was enough to express that our Jaisalmer Tour had served more than we expected.

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.

Jaisalmer Attractions- Extraordinary Repertoire of Delights!

Posted on January 6th, 2010 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off

I wonder what sinister forces combined and I got stuck in a terrible traffic

jam. My heart was gripped with the fear of missing the train to Jaisalmer but suppressing my despair I kept chanting God’s name to reach on time. Finally the ordeal got over and somehow I could manage to board the train, which had almost started from the station. This time I was traveling alone but this hardly matters to me as I am too fond of traveling to think about company. On the night train I spent half the night chatting with my fellow travelers, a group of youngsters. They were also going to Jaisalmer for holidays.

Jaisalmer is one of the most enchanting cities of Rajasthan where you can experience royalty, luxury, natural beauty and arduous desert life at the same time. Aptly called the Golden City, it was founded by Rawal Jaisal in 1156 AD. According to its glorious history it was an important part of a trade route connecting India to Egypt. The charm of Jaisalmer attractions attracts tourists from across the globe.

Jaisalmer Fort or the Sonar Quila( the golden fort) dominating the landscape of the city was the first attraction on my itinerary. Perched on Trikuta Hill, the fort is truly a jewel of the desert. Embraced by the sun rays, the fort was shining like gold. Once the abode of the Rajputs, it is among the largest forts and the second oldest in Rajasthan. It was named after its founder, the Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal.

Towering to a height of two hundred and fifty feet, the fort is fortified by a sandstone wall, which is thirty feet high. My guide Rajeev told me that it has ninety-nine bastions and there are three layers of walls( constructed for the purpose of defense). The Rajput warriors used to throw boiling water and oil and huge rocks as missiles on their enemies. The perfect blend of the Rajput and Mughal architectural style is one of the striking features of the fort.

The fort is a lively and bustling place as it is still inhabited by a huge chunk of the population of the city. There are shops, hotels and havelis within the boundary of the fort. The bitter history linked to the fort is that it was attacked by Ala-ud-Din Khilji and sieged for nine years, in the 13 century. The women of the Fort finally committed Jauhar (self immolation) so that they would not be captured alive by their enemy.

I also visited the exquisitely carved Jain temples, dating back to the period between 12th and 15th century, inside the fort. All the temples are connected by walkways and corridors. Standing at the fort I enjoyed panoramic views of the surroundings. The desert ambiance, the golden fort and the glorious history- all this reminded me of my favorite stories of Alladin.

Contented, my heart was full of joy but my empty stomach was begging me to pamper it. My guide took me to the desert roof top restaurant, located inside the fort, where I had a hearty meal and also enjoyed beautiful views of the city.

Jaipur- The City Of Surprises and Delights

Posted on December 5th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off

Rajasthan Rocks! Well, this is the first phrase that races through my travel-obsessed-mind when someone talks about this royal destination of India. I get attracted to this destination just like iron filings towards a magnet. For experiencing the age old royal charm of culture and hospitality I and my friends hit the most princely city Jaipur

Amber Fort, Japiur Amber Fort, Japiur

. As most of the buildings here are painted in pink(the royal color) Jaipur is popularly known as the ‘Pink City’. It occupies a prized place on the itinerary of the most famous tour of India, the Golden Triangle Tour.

We were booked in the heritage hotel, Alsisar Haveli. More than five centuries old, this hotel really gives a royal touch to your stay. It is located in the heart of Jaipur . As we entered the hotel I felt as if we have been transported to the era of raja-maharajas. Its interiors reflected the grandeur of the old days very beautifully. The fort overlooks the Maotha Lake.

The first attraction we explored was the majestic Amber Fort. This fort palace is a classic architectural masterpiece. Its foundation was laid by Man Singh I in the year 1592 and it was completed by his descendant Jai Singh I. It is a perfect amalgamation of Mughal and Rajpur styles of architecture. Its an interesting 20 minutes climb uphill. Tourists can go for an Elephant ride or a Jeep ride to reach the fort. One can also go on foot.

We opted for an elephant ride as what can be more interesting and royal than visiting the fort on an elephant’s back like a king. The fort offers a bird’s eye view of the city, which is a sight to behold. The huge doors of the fort were decorated with locks of interesting designs.

Some of the attractions of the fort, which I personally liked very much were:

Diwan-e-aam or Hall of Public audience:

This structure was the place where the king would listen to the problems and issues of the general public. It is made of marble and red sandstone. The forty pillars inside this apartment are exquisitely carved.

Shila Mata Temple:

Built in honor of Goddess Kali, the goddess of victory, the temple has a beautiful black marble idol of the goddess. The silver gates of the temple are adorned with the nine forms of Goddess Durga.

Ganesh Pol :

The Ganesh Pol is amazingly painted with vegetable colors using rajasthani motifs. And the striking feature of the gate is the beautifully carved statue of Lord Ganesha.

Diwan-e-khas:

It is an arresting apartment with stunning mirror work and exquisite carvings. The fabulous colored glass murals of depicting Lord Krishna and Radha is truly uplifting.

Zenana or Women’s apartment:

It is the private chamber made to facilitate the royal ladies to watch the proceedings of the royal court without themselves been seen. It is decorated with mesmerizing paintings of Krishna Leela scenes.