Monthly Archives: May 2011

Valley of Flowers…

My travel bucket list – Destination 3: Valley of Flowers, West Himalayas


Of the great misty clouds.
The rainbow began to shine,
Some said it was the great white light,
While some said it was about time…

There came the foggy strokes of sunlight,
Sometimes dark and pitchy as they could get.
Beauty of horizons, across the various mountains,
Colors that shone, knew no boundaries as they fret…

The dawn shone upon the great valley,
It took us some time to realize.
What did not come upon us until now,
Till it struck us heavily as a ray of surprise…

They came back again with some hope and some prayer,
Without which they could have never made it so far.
Upon the sunlight they knew they could go higher,
Yet, we tried hard and tried fast, to breathe the air…

It is this place where I would like to seek enchantment,
Forsaken in the depth of this long lost beauty,
I pray to my soul, where you must seek reprise for thee,
Beyond these mountains,into the ‘valley of Flowers’
I seek my penance and here is where I ask ye to bury me…

I haven’t yet read @CollChris‘s book ‘Valley of Flowers…’ I hope to get my hands on it soon… For sure, before I get here, I should read it, or maybe when I’m on my way to this place I should. Whatever I do, I need to read that book for sure. Nonetheless, let me talk about why and how this beautiful destination for which I just wrote the small ode, a poem to dedicate it’s true sense of amazement…

So here I was lying on my bed thinking about just nothing… Wondering about the horizon that lay beyond my eyes and wondering what are the adventures that I would really have to undergo, when I actually start my escapades. Some, part of my ‘Master Plan’ and of course in an effort to endure it all, some of them to add to My travel bucket list.  If you seek for true beauty amidst a terrain of snow capped mountains, and yet look for hidden surpasses underneath, this is the place to be. The most important and the best treasures of life is what your senses lead you to. Sometimes without even thinking about the true value of what it brings, this is what the small joys of life have to offer you. Colour, fragrance, visual beauty and most of all,  a serenity that you hate to resist in your mind.

If that is what you are looking for, ‘Valley of  flowers’ is the perfect place to be. With nothing but the natures beauty coupled by the colors of bliss beyond the oblivion, you are certainly in for a surprise here.

Valley of Flowers National Park is an Indian national park, Nestled high in West Himalaya, is renowned for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty. It is located in Uttarakhand state. This richly diverse area is also home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep. The gentle landscape of the Valley of Flowers National Park complements the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park to the east. Together they encompass a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and Great Himalayas.

The Valley of Flowers is an outstandingly beautiful high-altitude Himalayan valley that has been acknowledged as such by renowned mountaineers and botanists in literature for over a century and in Hindu mythology for much longer. Its ‘gentle’ landscape, breathtakingly beautiful meadows of alpine flowers and ease of access complement the rugged, mountain wilderness for which the inner basin of Nanda Devi National Park is renowned. Source (Wikipedia)

The Valley was introduced to the world as the Valley of Flowers by Frank S, Smith – mountaineer, explorer, botanist who camped here for several weeks in the monsoon of 1937 and did valuable exploratory work. He authored a book called “The Valley of  Flowers” which unveiled the beauty and floral splendours of the valley and thus threw open the doors of this verdant jewel to nature-enthusiasts all over the world.

I also happened to find this amazing article, which details everything you need to be able to go to this destination. Thanks to Flowers Of India, my task is much easier now.

Why I chose this enchanting beauty as a backdrop of one of my destinations in My travel bucket list  needs no further explanation I guess… I do intend to reminsice this place not just by the visual richness of the destination but the true sense of what it stands for… A resilient location where two various forces and strong matters of nature  choose to co-exist… It’s certainly a writer’s dream to have a destination as this be part of his literature or his song… One that I will make sure is…
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Kalimath – Source of divine strength

 My travel bucket list – Destination 2: Kalimath, Himalayas

Kalimath, Himalayas is a source of divine strength for one and for all. After citing as Rudraprayag as one of the destinations where I’d travel to, in order to seek that heavenly bliss. A place where Gods chose to dwell is certainly where I want to head first. After that, this is a place that I’d want to visit. One of the many common things that you will notice as I keep writing my travel bucket lists, is a very strong urge and need for me to go to the Himalayas and the destinations of the untread terrains in those mountains out there somewhere. But as I said, there is a strong reason for me to do this. A reason beyond my understanding and beyond anyone else’s perception. Having said that, these destinations are important right now, because it’s critical for my quest too.

Having said that, let me talk about this source of divine strength in the Himalayas. Kalimath is one of the divine places and “shaktipith” situated on the side of river Saraswati in the beautiful valley of Himalayas surrounded by snow covered peaks of Kedarnath close to Ukhimath and Guptakashi in Rudraprayag District of Uttarakhand.

One of the most amazing things about this place to me is it’s close proximity to the Saraswati river and the true connection of Lord Shiva and Saraswati can be understood only here. Lord Shiva, the destroyer, the creator the appreciator of art meets the Goddess of Knowledge.  Add to that, Mata Kali is the popularly worshipped Goddess here, hence the name KaliMath.  There is a significant story of why the people consider this place as the source of divinity when it comes to power and strength.

The village of Kalimath is about 6,000 feet above sea level. This is the divine place & shakti peeth where “Mata Kali” killed the demon “Raktbeej” and had gone under the earth. The temple of Goddess Kali located here is visited by a large number of devotees round the year, especially during the “Navratras”. The most interesting thing about the temple is that it does not have any idol there. Pooja of “ShreeYantra” is performed here. Only for one day in the whole year the divine goddess is taken out and puja is performed in the midnight when only the chief priest is present.

Also, the village Kalimath originally & still also known as village ‘Kaviltha’ is a birth place of Kalidas. He was blessed here and then he became a famous learned poet of Sanskrit. Source (Wikipedia)

So this eternally will be on my list especially since it is  tantamount to the abilities and love for writing that I have. It certainly is a crucial place in my quest and seeking out to the divine source of strength within myself. Hope that I find it as blissful as it seems to be.

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Rudraprayag – Where Gods choose to dwell…

Sometimes it isn’t that difficult to find what you are really looking for. Sometimes there are signs that help you along. But most of the times, more often than none, you will realize that what you are really looking for has been there right in front of your eyes. Sitting right there at the corner of your eyes, while you’re off like a whirlwind across the world looking for whatever you won’t really find…

So finally, I’ve decided, come July, my travel spree will resume! Dedicate more time towards my writing, I will take  that time to search my solitude and finally write as much as I want. Working towards my travel writing career is one thing and finally moving on from experimental writing and getting to write my second and actual book. Yes, finally I know that it’s about time.. Time to get started on that seed that has been burrowed inside my head quite a while ago. It’s time to start working on growing and nurturing that tree.

In one of my meetings with @amisht I learnt that writing a book is not like making a business plan. He told me that it’ll all come to me… There is always a theme and the incidents that happen to you are all a chain or a sequence of events, which you realize are like the dots that you connect… At the end of it all there is your answer.  And I think I’ve started believing in that… There has to be some effort of  sorts to make this happen. And now I know it’s time to put in that effort.

So here’s what I’m going to be doing. It’s not the greatest of adventures or for that matter a total absolution from this world. But it certainly is going to be an attempt. An attempt that I’d have to be resilient about, no matter how long it takes and how much distance I have to cover. Doesn’t matter how many hours I put in or how much blood, sweat and tears that go into it… I know it has to be done and it will be done. And yes, one thing I know, It’s going to be a wild adventurous spree… Of unknown locations and paths not traveled. But I think I have a reason for all of these travels that I will take. At the back of my mind I know it because, I know it as the ‘master plan’ And as I said before, a ‘master plan’ is never a master plan if it’s revealed. So without having much to give away about this plan, I’d like to share little bits and pieces of it as something I’d like to call ‘My Travel Bucket List’   

Right now, now is the time… I’d make this list and when the time is right, I’d go there… Why?? The answer I don’t know yet, but it’s there somewhere at the back of my head and it will all be found, once I finish my ‘Master Plan.’  As soon as I visit those places, I’d go ahead and chalk them off ‘My Travel Bucket List’  

So here we go! The first one on my list…

Destination 1: Rudra Prayag, (Uttarakhand)

There is something more than mystical about this place. It certainly is the most important place in my scheme of things. The beauty of this place lies within its certain strategic and geographical location. Spiritual as it may be, this is the place that one has to go through if you have to go into Kedarnath and Badrinath. Another historic and spiritual location for Hindus.

Named after Lord Shiva (Rudra), Rudraprayag is a town in Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand. It’s one of the Panch Prayag (five confluences) of Alaknanda River, the point of confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini. Alaknanda then proceeds towards Devaprayag where it joins with Bhagirathi river to form the river Ganges. Kedarnath, a Hindu holy town is located 86 km from Rudraprayag.

Till recently, Rudraprayag was a part of District Chamoli and Tehri. In 1997, the Kedarnath Valley and parts of district Tehri & Pauri were conjoined to form Rudraprayag as a new district. The entire region is blessed with immense natural beauty, places of religious importance, lakes and glaciers.

So this is the destination that would be certainly on my mind… It’s only a matter of time before I got there… As I keep saying

“Soon I’d be free… Love, Life… Walking by the desires of my dreams on the crooked roads of my destiny.”

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Walking Along… Road Less traveled

“Soon I’d be free… Love, Life… Walking by the desires of my dreams on the crooked roads of my destiny.”

This I say to myself with great pleasure for I take pride in my travel… I want to find myself a destiny, as crooked as it sounds or looks like… Without living a lie to myself or to anyone else. Sometimes I just feel like taking this wild trip into the adventurous dreamscapes of my wilderness. Sometimes I think of stopping time without having a notion of what it really meant.

They say you live life only once… Once is what you need, and what you can get. But sometimes I say to myself… that once is never enough… I’d have to be born again and again in my dreams to say to myself that I need this more than once. So I decided to anyways figure a way out…

Pretty soon, I’d be taking the road less travelled, chalking out maps and hoping for a great dream, waiting to happen. Take off every month for about 10 days, just to live for myself… Live without the world as we know it. Live for a greater search, spiritual and metaphysical. Every month I’d get time for myself to give my goals a shot. My dreams to be fulfilled without the fear of losing what I have at the helm of what we all end up looking for as ‘Life.’ Truth be told, life is out there… and not really here… So I’m all set to trudge on that path along the crooked roads of my destiny. Wherever they take me I’d say, bring it on….

For now, I don’t know where I need to be, what I need to do, but I know this… I have to get out there… Out there without the fear of letting go. Without the question of what, why, when and how… get out there without self-doubt, discontentment, resent or for that matter the true question of what is success and what is failure.

So without asking many questions to myself I thought of what would I want to do with this thought of discovery and the thought of the real plan being in my head and where would I really want to go… For now, the answer is, ‘I don’t really know’ but what I can do is, chalk out a bucket list… A bucket list for me to travel to.. Places that I would really want to go and something that I want to do, not for just the sheer joy of traveling, but for a destiny that lies beyond my comprehension. For now, let’s just say this is something I have to do… I have to do for this is what I believe in…

What is this belief you ask? Well, random thoughts that I know have a meaning… I know them now because ultimately I have a master plan… A master plan which cannot be divulged, as it won’t be a master plan then… It won’t make sense as much now, I know it won’t… But somewhere down the line, I’d come back and then I’d know… Why I wrote this post and what it meant to me and why I decided to take these roads less traveled. One day I’d realize how this whole ‘master plan’ fits in the grander scheme of things. How the beauty of these words make bigger and a much stronger sense of belief.  I know, there’s a reason for that too and there might be some changes that would come along the way… Nonetheless, it’s all part of a plan… I know, cause I had to… Cause, It was meant to be… Yep, meant to be… This side or the other…

“Soon I’d be free… Love, Life… Walking by the desires of my dreams on the crooked roads of my destiny.”

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Zira – Food Redefined

Zira… The name itself has an exquisite taste to itself. I could have only imagined how the food tasted at this restaurant. Yep, Zira is a newly launched restaurant in Navi Mumbai’s Sanpada. So a week ago I got a call from a friend of mine. She invited me to a session of food tasting at this newly launched restaurant. Why me? Well, of course my obvious love for food and my newly acquired taste across the country after travelling to different lands. Maybe she thought of me as the new age food connoisseur… Well, whatever the reason, I was glad she invited me cause who wouldn’t love to gorge on some awesome food and especially if it’s for free 😛 Well anyways, she happens to be a close friend of the owner and she set up for a small tasting session for a bunch of guys some of them regular at various restaurants across Mumbai and a couple of them die hard food lovers…

Zira Restaurant
Zira Restaurant

I thought to myself, heck, why not… Let’s go and check this place out. So there I was waiting for the tasting session to begin. While we waited for the starters to be served, we were chatting with each other and exchanged our interests and found out how we had a common bond that tied us together… ‘Food.’ While we sat inside the small restaurant, we felt at home especially with the ambience suiting the peaceful location of Sector 11, Sanpada. The décor blends right in with the restaurants whole brown and white logo where Zira is tastefully put up as you enter the restaurant.  This one is not your huge top class over the top restaurant where you can come and celebrate your most intimate moments but it certainly has a menu that will make you wonder it’s unique feature and what was about to come… At the end of the day, ‘What tastes well, does well, if you ask me..’

Then began our tasting session. First up was a couple of starters… Both chicken dishes.

So here we have a Murgh Aalishan which had a real flair and sumptuousness to itself. Very succulent and tasty… Could have beena  bit better though with a bit of some sauce or chutney. That was missing, however the chicken tasted really great.

Murgh Aalishan
Murgh Aalishan

Then the Chef Kevin, followed it up with Murgh Kaali Mirch. This dish was really good with a bit of crisp to its tenderness made you taste the flavor real of the kaali mirch even better.

Murgh Kaali Mirch

Murgh Kaali Mirch

Well, for vegetarian lovers, don’t be disappointed… One of the best dish of the evening was in the main course. I truly loved the Rajasthani Mirchi Kadi which was served with some really tasty Butter Naan. The best part about this Mirchi Kadi was how finely you could taste the mirchi or green chilly spiced up with a really nice blend of the kadi which left the taste in your mouth and I truly treasured it…

Rajasthani Mirchi Kadi

Rajasthani Mirchi Kadi

Rajasthani Mirchi Kadi with Nan

Rajasthani Mirchi Kadi with Nan

Since I didn’t taste this dish as I generally avoid mutton, I can’t say much about the Rogan Josh…. But from the looks of it certainly looks tasty…

Mutton Rogan Josh
Mutton Rogan Josh

After tasting some really nice North Indian / Mughlai food the chef also decided to give us a taste of it’s Chinese Cuisine with some Veg Fried Rice and Chicken 65, which was sort of okay but I guess can’t really say much about Chinese as it’s more or less the same everywhere… The chef quoted saying, Chinese is ‘public demand’ and hence they can’t ignore that aspect of it even the restaurant mainly serves North Indian Food.

Fried Rice

Fried Rice

It was certainly a great tasting of sorts… While I enjoyed the starters, the chutney / sauces could have made  it even better I must say my pick of the evening must definitely be Rajasthani Mirchi Kadi. All in all this new start up has been well researched and for the area that it’s set up in it looks like it’s on it’s way.  i’m certainly going to go there  to dine, this time of course ordering some really nice food on my own while I thank my friend Merline, for inviting me for this food tasting session. She knows the owner and head chef Kevin and I’m sure I’d get a discount next time I’m there 😛 Well anyways, the restaurant has decided to keep a 10% discount for the entire month. They said they also do home delivery for entire Sanpada and Juinagar area.

About the Chef: Chef Kevin is a hospitality major from Taj, Aurangabad and has had prior experience in Taj Land’s End. This budding entrepreneur looks like he’s certainly ready to make his mark, at least in Navi Mumbai to begin with.  He runs this place with his brother Deepak.

From L-R - Deepak and Chef Kevin

From L-R - Deepak and Chef Kevin

Address: Zira, Sector 11, Sanpada

© Copyright 2011 Srinivas Kulkarni. All rights reserved

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