Jaisalmer Attractions- Extraordinary Repertoire of Delights!

Posted on January 6th, 2010 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Jaisalmer Attractions- Extraordinary Repertoire of Delights!

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.

Nainital- The Crowd Puller!

Posted on December 17th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Nainital- The Crowd Puller!

 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.

Jaipur- The City Of Surprises and Delights

Posted on December 5th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Jaipur- The City Of Surprises and Delights

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.

Day 2: Shimla Jakhu Temple- An Unusual Experience!

Posted on November 19th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Day 2: Shimla Jakhu Temple- An Unusual Experience!

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

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.

Kanyakumari Attractions- Laced With Extraordinary Beauty!

Posted on November 5th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Kanyakumari Attractions- Laced With Extraordinary Beauty!

Sunrise in Kanyakumari Sunrise in Kanyakumari

Determined not to miss the famous sunrise of Kanyakumari, I and my friend Pallavi woke up early and after relishing a cup of tea walked to the beach for the breathtaking sunrise. Pallavi had ditched me on the trip to Ranthambhore National Park as she had missed the train. But this time she had promised to abide by her words, “I will surely reach on time”. Gosh! This time her entry into the train was quite dramatic, very much like the one made by Kajol in the movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Lejayege. But at last she managed not to push me into a state of despair this time. My heartfelt thanks to her.

The cool breeze, peaceful ambiance, romantic aura, swaying palms, limitless sky and bewitching waves of the beach hypnotized us completely. It was a world-out-of-this-world. The wind was chilly as it was the month of October. But we were enjoying every bit of the experience. Finally the much-awaited moment arrived. The first rays of the morning light fell on the unfathomable waves making the sea glowing like a jewel. The sight was simply overwhelming and the feeling was heavenly. I captured the blissful sight in my heart and in the camera as well. Pallavi said, “How much we crave for such sights in Delhi,’ where we are surrounded by a ‘sea of buildings’”. She also said, “thank God I could made it to Kanyakumari and I think this time I have overcome my karma of missing trains”. I looked her in the eye and we burst out laughing.

Post breakfast, we were slated to visit the renowned Kanyakumari Temple. Standing at the confluence of the three wonderful oceans, it is 3000 year old temple. Its extraordinary location and architectural beauty are its striking features. It is also laced with a legend, which is quite interesting. Our guide Sarvanan told us that the rock on which the temple is built has the footprints of the virgin goddess Kanyakumari (an incarnation of Goddess Parvati).

The legend goes that Kanya Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Parvati was to marry Lord Shiva but because of some reason the Lord didn’t come on the wedding day, so the marriage could not be solemnized. After this incident the Goddess decided to remain virgin for the rest of her life. It is believed that the rice shaped stones on the beach today are the uncooked grains of the wedding. The wedding feast consisting of rice and other grains were left uncooked and were not used thereafter. According to the legend those grains transformed into stones with time. After hearing this legend we were constantly on a look out for such rocks at the beach.

After visiting the temple I found myself completely soaked in some new found energy. The statue of the goddess was very beautiful and the sparkling nose ring was shining brightly as if endowed with some spiritual power.

Our trip ended with shopping. We bought beautiful souvenirs made of bamboo and wood. Our trip to Kanyakumari rewarded us with great memories which will always remain etched in my heart.

Kanyakumari- A Destination Beyond Imagination!

Posted on October 28th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Kanyakumari- A Destination Beyond Imagination!

Traveling is one of those things in my life for which I am

Vivekanand RockVivekanand Rock

passionate to the hilt.I pray everyday to travel and explore this wonderful planet as much as possible, a prayer which might sound strange to you. My friends often say that I am drunk on traveling to the point of insanity. Anyway, I am more than happy about my passion and never leave an opportunity to travel, in fact, I am slowly and gradually learning the art of ‘creating’ such opportunities. So there I was with my camera at Kankakumari, the extravagantly beautiful destination.

After reaching Kanyakumari I soon walked down to reward my senses with the much awaited sights of its enchanting Kanyakumari beach. Kanyakumari is an arresting destination located in the wonderful state of Tamil Nadu at the southern most tip of the peninsular India. The fascinating feature of this place is that it is the point where the three oceans- Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean meet.

My guide Shankar told me that a dip in the water of the ocean is considered holy. But the irony is that the sea is quite rough and one must be careful while bathing in it. Well, I dipped my feet in the water and a feeling of sheer joy enveloped every atom of my being. The water was so clean and the view of the sea was overwhelming. My heart was wallowing in joy. One more thing which attracted me was the multi-colored sand. I took a stroll at the beach gazing at its beauty. I walked up to the lighthouse at the beach, which offers breathtaking views of the surroundings.

I also visited the famous Vivekananda rock jutting out of the sea. Housing the statue of Vivekananda, it is the place where he meditated. I spent some quality time there. The day was drawing to a close and now , holding my breath, I was eagerly waiting to see the sunset, which is one of the major attractions of Kanyakumari. The scene was dramatic, very dramatic. I wondered how mystic the drama of mother nature is! This was the most beautiful sunset I ever saw in my life.

Ranthambore National Park- Very Inviting!

Posted on October 15th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Ranthambore National Park- Very Inviting!

With an ardent desire to see the big striped cat, I with some of my friends

Ranthambore National ParkRanthambore National Park

reached Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan in the month of October. This  land of legends, tigers and a favored destination of wildlife buffs is truly worth a visit. This was my second visit to the Ranthambore National Park. Apart from the wildlife, the Park has amazing landscape which I found quite adventurous. There is a deep contrast in the landscapes of its different zones. One of its zones has very steep path, almost like the trails in hill stations. The jeep safari through this zone is a great adventure in itself. And hats off to the driver who skillfully drives through this arduous path.

We began our journey with a visit to the historic Ranthambore Fort, which is located at a distance of around 4 km from the entrance of the Park. While driving to the fort we saw vultures. This sighting was a reward in itself as vultures are vanishing from the earth at a fast pace. We moved further and reached the gate of the fort where many langurs were flaunting their long tails at a huge banyan tree-their domain.

Apart from the rustic and beautiful structures of the fort, we saw temples, birds and small lakes. At one of the rustic structures, called as 32-pillared building, we saw the enchanting parrots. I didn’t even remember when I last saw a parrot. For me the sighting of a parrot was as much a cause for celebration as the sighting of a tiger. The structure was breezy and cool. We rested there for sometime and clicked some photographs.

After exploring the fort we came back to the hotel for lunch. After stuffing out hungry stomachs with delicious lunch we thought of taking a nap before embarking on an evening safari.

During our evening jeep safari we sighted sambar, chinkara, spotted deer, nilgai, langur, cheetal, painted storks, painted spurfowl, hyena, the great Indian horned owl and white-necked stork. When our safari was coming to a close, my friends aired their grievances as we cound not sight a tiger. I laughed and said “better luck next time”.

Bandhavgarh Wildlife Sanctuary- Home Sweet Home Of Royal Bengal Tigers!

Posted on October 9th, 2009 by admin  |  Comments Off on Bandhavgarh Wildlife Sanctuary- Home Sweet Home Of Royal Bengal Tigers!

“Listen deep silence. Be very still and it is only then that you will

Tiger, Bandhavgarh

hear the sound of nature”. And the Bandhavgarh Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect place to experience nature at its best. It is one of the most wonderful sanctuaries in India. It is located ideally in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. Sprawling over an area of 437 sq km, the Park was declared a national park in 1968. There are around twenty streams that flow through the park.

Once a hunting reserve of the royal family of Rewa, the park is the place where white tigers were discovered. In the year 1951, Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa captured a white tiger here, which was named as Mohan. That white tiger is now stuffed and is showcased in the palace of the Maharaja of Rewa. However, no white tigers have been found here for the last 50 years. Now the park houses around 46 to 52 tigers. The park also boasts of a large population of leopards and various species of deer.

I opted for an elephant safari and ventured into the forest. I was told that elephant safari offers bright chances of sighting a tiger. While on the move in the forest, off and on I spotted nilgai, chital, wild boar, jackal, chinkara and chausingha.

As we moved further, my jaded eyes kept looking for the king of the jungle. Not able to control my anxiety level, I kept asking my guide Madho again and again about tiger. Sensing my eagerness to sight a tiger he smiled and said, “ Sir, sighting a tiger is purely a matter of luck”.

There are five ranges in the sanctuary namely Tala, Magdhi, Kallwah, Khitauli and Panpatha. However, tourists are allowed to explore only the Tala range, a range which houses maximum population of tigers of the sanctuary. With my binoculars I sighted beautiful birds such as orange-headed thrush, coppersmith barbet, browed fantails, green pigeons, black and white malabar hornbills. The sanctuary houses a variety of enchanting birds.

Well, my safari was coming to an end and I had almost lost all hope of sighting a tiger. But suddenly a royal Bengal tiger jumped over the road, very close to our vehicle. Oh God! It was a moment worth freezing.

Agra- The Brightest Jewel Of India

Posted on September 24th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Agra- The Brightest Jewel Of India

TajmahalTajmahal

Dip your pen in the ink of love

before writing about Taj Mahal

With every word, a pearl cocooned in love will fall…

Agra, the greatest pride of India Tourism, is a place that can be visited time and again. The monotony of my daily life was taking a toll on my sanity and I really needed, at least, a short break . So I and one of my friends, Shivani, decided to go to Agra. I had been to this wonderland once, when I was in school. Memories of my past visit filled my heart with joy.

Agra is a historic city with treasure-like attractions in its sleeves. Once the capital of the Mughals, Agra is an important destination of the Golden Triangle Tour circuit. Synonymous with Taj Mahal, this city attracts tourists from across the globe.

We reached Agra early morning and were booked in the Mansingh Palace Hotel. The hotel is named after Rajput Emperor Sawai Mansingh, a very close associate of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Post breakfast, we set out to see Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The breathtaking sight of Taj Mahal surrounded by beautiful lush green gardens festooned with fountains was such a rejuvenation to my sore eyes.

The interesting facts about this incredible monument are: the interiors were studded with precious and semi-precious stones, the architectural style is based on interlocking arabesque concept and uses the principles of self-replicating geometry. Its inlay work of floral designs and calligraphy are mesmerizing. The arresting structure is a perfect amalgamation of Mughal, Persian, Central Asian, and Islamic architecture. In fact, everything about this ‘wonder’ is fascinating and intriguing. This most sparkling jewel of India is soaked in glorious history.

After visiting Taj Mahal, we decided to go for lunch and then shopping. From here we head to Clark Shiraz, the five star hotel, to have lunch in its wonderful restaurant. We dined at its roof-top restaurant, the Mughal Rooms, and enjoyed the bewitching views of Taj Mahal along with the lip-smacking dishes.

Post lunch, we invested a few hours in shopping. Agra is famous for its inlay work, marble articles, leatherware, brassware, carpets and jewellery. We explored the Sadar Bazar and Kinari Bazar and bought some wonderful handicrafts. After shopping we traced our steps back to the hotel. We chatted till late night and finally forced ourselves to retired to bed as we had to leave the next day to cover the rest of the attractions of Agra.