Monthly Archives: November 2012

Hampi Ruins – Vijayanagara Empire with Friends

I’ve probably written about three or four posts up until now on Hampi! A lot of these contain the historical relevance and the places that one can see and visit as travellers. A lot of times whenever I’ve been to Hampi, I’ve travelled alone and come back to write my experiences and my journey in the historical and archaeological realm of the empire. Some things that I always have cherished and realized about my relationship with this magnificent place was my Kannada roots and of course more recently my understanding of ancestral connections to this place through Late. Shri N.S Rajpurohit, my great grandfather who was part of excavations of the Talikota battlefield, the place where the Vijayanagara empire marked its death.

This time around, during Diwali, with a couple of old friends and a few new ones, we decided to set foot in the Vijayanagara Kingdom… It was quite a bunch of us friends. Some writers, thinkers, some travelers like me, some who were just like me fascinated with Hindu mythology and its symbolical association with historic cultures especially here.  So this blog will be more about the journey and some photographs which embellished quite a memory on this entire trip, making it truly special for reminiscing old friendship while building new ones and some very special ones too.

Our first day began when we left Mumbai in a bus to Hospet. We had decided to stay at Hampi Gowri guest house this time around. This is across the Tungabhadra river on the Anjaneya mountain side. From the minute I had started speaking to Mr. Srinivas, my namesake, I had decided to go and stay there. The very helpful and polite manner that he spoke on the phone sounding very helpful and accomodating was something that made me pick this venue in not more than a few minutes of speaking with him.  He also offered to pick us up from a destination enroute Hospet, which is towards his side of the town.  When we reached there we mostly freshened up and took a walk to the Sanapur Lake, which was nearby and pretty much chilled out. waiting for the day to get over, finish our wonderful home cooked dinner made by Mr. Srinivas’s wife and crash…

Second day began when we set off in our mini van to take the tour of the city. It was very well spent with a guided tour, by me of course 😉 visiting the ancient ruins of Hampi and the various places that we ended up taking great pictures and spending some good time talking about their historical and archaeological significance from the standpoint of ancient India. Our day mostly touring and grabbing a quick bite of Chitranna and some mirchi bhaji was very fruitful especially after witnessing the Stone Chariot, our last and the most infamous and quite enchanting monument in this UNESCO World Heritage site. After we returned, thanks to the wonderful arrangement of a camp fire and a barbequeue! A fitting day to a tiring and yet very fun day!

Third day was mostly chilled out. It began with a late rising in the morning and eating our breakfasts, finely cooked Idlis, very tasty and certainly ones that you could gulp down as many as you could and yet feel the craving for more. We had decided to relax a bit since the second day was quite tiring and hectic and probably start slowly to end the day by climbing the famous birthplace of Hanuman, the Anjaneya temple on top of the mountain.  We started off by heading to boating point, to cross the river in the famous round small boat of sorts, the coracle or putti as it’s called in Kannada. This was something one of our friends, Rahul wanted to experience and I had to ensure it was done! And quite an experience it was, for me for the second time, but all the more fun especially with good friends around. We also recorded a video, which I’ll upload later! So after which, we visited the Virupaksha temple and returned to the other side to have our lunch and head towards the Laxmi temple and Anjaneya mountain. Climbing the mountain just about the time the sun was setting, was a great experience. Once out there, witnessing entire Hampi, filled with boulders and mountains as if God himself had thrown mountains from the skies was quite overwhelming. Sitting with close friends seeing the sun set, added a perspective to this. On our way back at the foothill of the mountains, we stopped by to drink some coconut water, which I’d say was one of the best out here in the entire trip. We also happened to meet some really down to earth, humble and truly loving family who ran that shop, Govindappa Cold drinks house. Govindappa, his wife and his daughter ran the place. They were very hospitable, friendly, in fact really good people who offered us some bananas also for free. They were decorating the place as the next day was Diwali and we helped them out in some ideas. They really enjoyed it and thanked us as well. It was quite fun hanging out there as it gave us another perspective of how life is. How people like them still exist and how life is more than the materialistic living that most of us pursue out in big cities like Mumbai… Such was the ending to our 3rd day at Hampi. Surreal but true.

With all this amazing experience over a period of 3 days of staying in Hampi, gave us a lot of time as well. A lot of time to talk amongst each other and get to know each other more. A time to share stories of their own, anecdotes from their lives or the books that they read, was certainly an experience that we all enjoyed thoroughly. Some special moments, some fun, a lot of PJs being cracked, and some profound wisdom and knowledge shared amongst all of us friends. It was something that made the trip even more memorable. It gave us time to introspect on our own life and share some of those with each other to learn something remarkable about each other. Our final day was going to be the one where we explored some of the Anjaneya side of Hampi. We decided to rent mopeds, from Mr. Srinivas. They were reasonably priced as well! We set forth towards Anegundi, the old capital of Hampi. On our way back we stopped by at a place nearby the road. There were open fields staring across the horizon for acres and acres of land. Deepika my friend, had suggested that we go walk  in the fields. Quite a good idea, I wondered to myself and decided to stop by. We asked a guy who was sitting near the field, he said it wasn’t his, but he told us to go ahead and take a look and that no one would mind. He had a smile on his face and was very happy that we wanted to explore these beautiful fields within his lands. And so we went, played around with the crops in the field, took some good DP worthy pics and went back on our bikes to go towards the other side of the river to explore the Monolithic bull area and probably do some last minute shopping. While the last minute shopping didn’t happen, we had quite a time in yeilding our mopeds on to a motorboat and taking it to and fro. But we managed to catch some really stumptous meal at Geeta River View…

With heavy hearts we bid goodbye to the Kingdom of Vijayanagara as the first day of Diwali came to an end with the brigh orange sun which we could see on our drive back to Hospet. It was an end to this trip, but a beginning of an alliance of a group that is going for some more travels of this sort and of course raring to come back to this beautiful ruins of Hampi…

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The Photo Journey
Day 1
View of Hampi

View of Hampi

Reaching Hampi

Reaching Hampi

Hampi Gowri Guest House

Hampi Gowri Guest House

Hampi Sunset Day 1

Hampi Sunset Day 1

Day 2

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

Underground Shiva Temple

Pondering...

Pondering…

In conversation with Uday

In conversation with Uday

Carving Inside Hazara Rama Temple

Carving Inside Hazara Rama Temple

Uday and his Politician Pose

Lakshmi Narsimha Statue

Lakshmi Narsimha Statue

Virupaksha Temple From Hemakuta Hills

Virupaksha Temple From Hemakuta Hills

Kadalekalu Ganesha

Kadalekalu Ganesha

On Hemakuta Hill

On Hemakuta Hill

Mel & Rahul with some kids we met inside

Mel & Rahul with some kids we met inside

Chandikeshwara Temple

Chandikeshwara Temple

Watchtower in the Zenana Enclosure

Watchtower in the Zenana Enclosure

Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure

Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure

Krishna Temple

Krishna Temple

Hampi Bazaar Pillars

Hampi Bazaar Pillars

Me outside Krishna Temple

Me outside Krishna Temple

Bal Gopal inside Krishna Temple

Bal Gopal inside Krishna Temple

Barbequeue

Barbequeue

Day 3

Coracle Ride

Coracle Ride

Banks of Tungabhadra

Banks of Tungabhadra

Calf feeding from her mother near the Virupaksha

Calf feeding from her mother near the Virupaksha

Virupaksha Temple

Virupaksha Temple

Inside Virupaksha

Inside Virupaksha

Idranna a local kid at the Lakshmi Temple

Idranna a local kid at the Lakshmi Temple

Lamani Woman with her kid near the Lakshmi Temple

Lamani Woman with her kid near the Lakshmi Temple

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

Monkey climbing down Anjaneya

Monkey climbing down Anjaneya

On top of Anjaeya...

On top of Anjaeya…

Govindappa and his family

Govindappa and his family

Day 4

All set to ride

All set to ride

Entrance to Anegundi

Entrance to Anegundi

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Riding away...

Riding away…

Villagers of Anegundi

Villagers of Anegundi

In the fields...

In the fields…

Sadhu Baba outside Anegundi

Sadhu Baba outside Anegundi

Mr. Srinivas and his family from Hampi Gowri

Mr. Srinivas and his family from Hampi Gowri

Picture Courtesy: Deepika Gumaste, Uday Mane, Niha Khan, Rahul Wakude & Melanie Joe 🙂 Thanks guys for the clicks….

Thanks to Mr.  Srinivas for his hospitality and kindness. His wife for the awesome food, and to Harsha his son who served us and helped us out very diligently. I’d reccomend this place as a must stay and next time I’m down there, it’s going to be the place to stay 🙂

Contact details:  www.hampigowri.com

Is India a good travel destination?

Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:

Yes! Yes and Yes!

Before I begin the answer from a travel enthusiast perspective, just some insights to share about Asia and India in general, might give you some perspective pertaining to the question you have asked.

Travel Facts – Asia & India

Some interesting facts about the travel Industry in India & Asia in general.

Over the next few years, Asia — mostly China and India — and Latin America will drive world economic growth, contributing up to 75% of global GDP from 2010 to 2012.

The 2012 outlook for Asian outbound travel is positive.  6 to 8% increase in this year’s expected 14% growth.

In particular India appears to be set for strong growth with 43% planning more outbound travel next year. IPK’s travel confidence of India is at a high 113 points.

Incredible India – Travel Galore

I began exploring India truly about five years ago and I’d say despite traveling to a lot of parts, I hae hardly touched 1/4th of the country so far. An endeavor that makes me want to go on and on till I have set foot across each and every state at least. One of the reasons why I enjoy doing so is cause of it’s geographical and cultural diversity with of course significant historic and mythical relevance to various places. Adds to it’s mystery in its own way. To such an extent that every different place that you travel to within India is a completely different landscape and a cultural expose of sorts. There is a great sense of encompassing travel experience that yuo get when you explore various parts of India. From the beautiful mountains in the Himalayas to the amazing temples and the beaches down south. From the most diverse religious and cultural places across the four corners of the country to the much modern and very well built cities in various metropolis. From the multiple Indian languages spoken in different parts to the very familiar tour guides or audio guidebooks that you’ll get at various heritage sites to help understanding places in the country much better for yourself. India has it all. If you are the type who loves adventure and mountain climbing then you can explore various destinations across the Himalayas which span across the Indo-Nepal-Tibet and Pakistan border you’d love every bit of it. There are practically every kind of geographically diverse landscapes in Leh and Ladakh. If you are interested in culture and meeting new people of ethnic and traditional origin then a trip to Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and some remote villages in Harayana, Punjab and some parts of South India would do the trick.  Archaeology fans might really enjoy The Ruins of Hampi, various parts of Gujarat and some across India-Pakistan border where Indus valley civilization ruins exist and of course Madhya Pradesh for it’s beautiful terrain and charismatic caves depicting ancient lore of Kama Sutra and love in Khajurao. Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore are the metropolis you might want to go to, best serve as connectivity to various different parts and mostly flights to any place in the world or other part of the country are available here. South India give s you a lot of insight on the Hindu cwith it’s various temples and also a great escapade towards nature in God’s own country Kerala will enchant you with it’s beauty. The North East has it’s own charm with various landscapic mountains, monasteries, Buddhist culture and an eye awakening spirituality towards nature and this planet. Then there are the beautiful islands of Lakshwadeep and Andaman and Nicobar which are a place in itself. Secluded from most parts of India they lie within the terrains of water a world within their own these places must not be missed. And last but not least, there’s no place like Goa! If you come to India, Goa is a must visit for….

Of course there are pitfalls when it comes to hygiene, beggars, lots of crowd, the  problem of communication at times in certain parts. The potential risk of being duped by locals or overpriced at various destinations are certainly there… But if you are aware and well educated about your destination with some planning and research, yo can get along well with any of those situations. Plus that in itself is an experience for you so to speak. Overall, India tourism is trying to create infrastructure and overall awareness for its tourists and travelers. You’ll find a lot of information on this website and also if you carry the India Travel Guide book, which most tourists and travelers from the world carry with themselves you should be good to go. In most places local authorities, police are quite helpful, sometimes you may have issues with the bureaucratic ways of the cops and local authorities, but if all your paper work is good then mostly there are no worries.

So overall I’d say, India is certainly a good travel destination. One thing I’d recommend to watch before you start your journey to India is an interesting six part documentary series by BBC and Micheal Wood called ‘The Story of India.’

You can also check out my Travel Blogs to give you some idea of what places to visit across India Travel Tales… (srinistuff.com) & Tumblelog Travelogue (tumblr.com)

Lastly here are some of the places that I’ve visited and shortlisting them for you to show you what I really mean when I wrote this answer. For the detailed answer refer to this:  What are the must-see travel destinations in India? (qr.ae) Would give you quite an answer to your question and my explanation to why India is a good travel destination 🙂

P.S If nothing else, there’s the Taj Mahal to come to India for! 😉

What are the Places to travel to?

Trek towards Valley of Flowers and  Hemkund Saheb (Glacier may not be always there…)

Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand HImalayas

Paragliding in the Solang Valley

Spiritual Quest at the Dalai Lama Temple in Dharamsala/McLeodganj

Shey Palace in Ladakh

Shanti Stupa in Ladakh

Leh Palace in Leh, Ladakh

Nubra Valley in Ladakh

Disket Temple in Nubra Valley in Ladakh

Ride a Bullet to Khardung La in Ladakh *Highest Motorable road 18380 ft

Alchi Gompa – Oldest Monastery in Leh, Ladakh

Indus River Valley in Ladakh

Pangong Tso Lake across Ladakh and China Border

The serene Om beach in Gokarna

Rameshwaram Temple and it’s 1000 Pillars

Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort. Kochi

Boat to Allepy from Kottayam in Kerala

Buland Darwaaza of Fatehpur Sikri

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Jain temples of Jaisalmer

The Vintage car museum in Udaipur

Matri Mandir in Auroville

Pondicherry & Auoroville Beach

The Garden City – Bangalore

Visit the Ruins of Hampi – A must visit if you are a fan of archaeology and historic ancient culture.

Stone Chariot in the Vittala Temple

Hazara Rama Temple – Carvings from 10th-13th century of Rama

Lakshmi Narsimha statue

Krishna Temple

Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure… Ancient air conditioned palace

Monolithic Bull, carved out of one Stone

Mythical Lions called Yalli inside Krishna Temple

View the Marina Beach Sunrise in Chennai

Conquer the Mahuli fort during rains in Maharashtra – The Sahayadaris

Charminar in Hyderabad

The Buddha Statue in Lumbini Park in Hyderabad on the Husain Sagar lake

Be part of the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai

Lenayadri Hills in Maharashtra – One of the Ashtavinayaka Temples

Ajanta Ellora Caves in Aurangabad

Badrinath Temple in Uttarakhand

Mana Village and Vasudhara Waterfalls – The last indian Village on Indo Tibet Border

Haridwar for it’s cultural and spiritual expose.

Lakshman Jhoola and the Parmarth Temple in Rishikesh

View Answer on Quora

Bijapur – Land of my roots

This was from my revisit to the beautiful place, my birthplace Bijapur. As a kid I remember going there a lot of times during my vacations and staying From vacations to some functions most of the times there was always someone or the other who was new to the place and that is when we used to always take tours to the city and it was always fun to go to the same places again and again for they were so wonderful! I was particularly fond of the Gol Gumbaz. Recently I got the opportunity to go to the place that I was born in and that’s when I took a tour again… Some pictures from that trip.

 

 

View from Gol Gumbaz

View from Gol Gumbaz

Lord Shiva Statue

Lord Shiva Statue

Banks of Ganga – Kashi, Prayag, Gaya

One of the most amazing trips to self discovery are the trips that you take without any rhyme or reason and just keep wandering and walking across the horizon! But once every while comes a trip that you have to take… The aboriginal walk if I may say so… Such trips have a way of shaping themselves within their journeys and make for one of the most enchanting experiences of your life. Some spiritually enlightning, some full of incidents that open your mind to new dimensions and some full of introspective self provocating thoughts that keep you wondering, how far you’ve traveled on this road, a journey that you began years ago and where you are right now.

One such trip I took about six months ago. It was when I decided to celebrate the death anniversary and perform rites of my departed father along the banks of River Ganga in the most revered destinations across the country. The holy land of ganges! While I did that I also had some time to follow my passion for travel and come back with stories of the land of enchanted. My trip started off with Banaras and my first ritual was at Kashi, then at Gaya and finally at Prayaag.

The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Often referred to as Benares, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world. These few lines by Mark Twain say it all: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the origins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals. (Varanasicity.com)

Ganges is said to have its origins in the tresses of Lord Shiva and in Varanasi, it expands to the mighty river that we know of. The city is a center of learning and civilization for over 3000 years. With Sarnath, the place where Buddha preached his first sermon after enlightenment, just 10 km away, Varanasi has been a symbol of Hindu renaissance. Knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion to Gods, Indian arts and crafts have all flourished here for centuries. Also a pilgrimage place for Jains, Varanasi is believed to be the birthplace of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar.

Some pictures from my journey in Kashi/Banaras:

The famous Banarasi Paan

The famous Banarasi Paan

Vishwanath Temple in BHU

Vishwanath Temple in BHU

Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Ji

Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Ji

Koyla Bazaar

Koyla Bazaar

Next up was the second ritual at Gaya.  Gaya is 100 kilometers south of Patna, the capital city of Bihar. Situated on the banks of the Phalgu (or Niranjana, as mentioned in Ramayana), it is a place sanctified by the Hindu, the Buddhist and the Jain religions. It is surrounded by small rocky hills (Mangla-Gauri, Shringa-Sthan, Ram-Shila and Brahmayoni) by three sides and the river flowing on the fourth (eastern) side. The city has a mix of natural surroundings, age old buildings and narrow bylanes. Since I was there only for a day or two, we couldn’t explore a lot of it, but we made it a point that Bodh Gaya was visited.

Some pictures from Gaya:

Streets of Gaya

Streets of Gaya

Adrak waali chai

Adrak waali chai

A potful of Lassi

A potful of Lassi

Kullad Lassi

Kullad Lassi

Surya Kund in Gaya

Surya Kund in Gaya

Vishnu Padh Gaya

Vishnu Padh Gaya

Thai Monastery in Bodh Gaya

Thai Monastery in Bodh Gaya

Tibetian Monastery

Tibetian Monastery

Japanese Temple

Japanese Temple

Buddha Statue in the Japanese Temple

Buddha Statue in the Japanese Temple

Eyes of the Buddha Statue

Eyes of the Buddha Statue

Mahabodhi Temple

Mahabodhi Temple

The Bodhi Tree

The Bodhi Tree

The final stop on this journey was Allahabad, yes the most famous of all! Prayaag and Triveni sangam was the place where we did the final rituals. As enchanting as it may look, it has great facets of its old Hindu and Indian culture that still is integral part of Prayaag.  The city’s original name—Prayaga, or “place of sacrifice”—comes from its position at the sacred union of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. It is the second-oldest city in India and plays a central role in the Hindu scriptures. The city contains many temples and palaces. Allahabad is located on in the southern part of Uttar Pradesh. It is bounded by Pratapgarh in the north, Bhadohi in the east, Rewa in the south and Kaushambi in the west.

Some pictures from Allahabad/Prayaag:

Cycle Rickshaw in Allahabad

Cycle Rickshaw in Allahabad

Banks of Triveni Sangam

Banks of Triveni Sangam

Panditji counting money

Panditji counting money

 

This trip was certainly quite memorable because of the root cause but also overall the journey to the three spiritual destinations across North India was something that gave it a deft touch a touch of a journey unknown and yet beautifully spiralled into something more meaningful.

What is it like to travel solo?

Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:

Before I answer this question, one movie, a travel documentary that I’d reccommend everyone to watch is A Map for Saturday! Will be one of the best movies you’d have watched if the travel bug has bitten you.

Also I recommend Riding Solo To the Top of the World by Gaurav Jani & Dirt Track Productions. These two movies will put things into perspective 🙂

Now here’s my answer:

“To traverse beyond the limitations of my mind, I travel to look upon the journey within myself.”

This is one of the reasons I travel! Rather one major reason why I started travelling.  Most of  the times I travel alone. I’ve been an avid traveler for a while now and a majority of times I take off on an impromptu and on the spur of the moment trips going off wandering into the wilderness all alone. One of the reasons why I chose to travel alone a lot of times is that you get a lot of time to introspect. Introspect about many things in life. A lot of times you feel that you have within yourself a great amount of potential at a lot of things that you can achieve be it in professional or personal life. But a clutter of mindful journey that you take day in and day out with the people that you are around kind of restricts you sometimes in your way of thinking. A lot of times Traveling solo is more about the journey being experienced from a perspective of a focus that you won’t get otherwise.

Many times people say that traveling solo helps you discover yourself much better than when you would travel with your partner, friends or family or with a group of new people whom you have just met. While that gives a lot of opportunity to ensure that trip doesn’t become mundane or boring as you have company, it also pulls you down on your own journey. Depending on what all of you prefer or what certain peoples capacities are it may become difficult for the traveler who wants to explore certain things otherwise.

More often than none these are the benefits and this how I feel while I travel solo.

1. Feel liberated in terms of freedom, freedom from a lot of aspects of life that we go through when we live a mundane 9-5 kind of life.
2. Feel happy to have the flexibility to generally interact, talk meet and learn from various travelers on the road.
3. Since I get a lot of time to basically be on my own, it gives me a lot of time to catch up on my reading, watching movies on my phone, sometimes to write as well.
4. A lot of times it is good to travel alone as I don’t have to worry about managing things for others and if need be just hitchhike whenever needed. Stay at cheap places, even sleep in waiting rooms on railway benches, underneath the stars on the beach. Lots of flexibility that ways.
5. It gives me great opportunity to vary my schedule if need be. Altering schedules can be painfully tricky if there is a fixed plan to travel then things become more convenient.

But most of all traveling solo has taught me to overcome a lot of fears in life, metaphorically as well as practically. If you don’t know a direction in life, and you are one of em solo travelers you’ll always find your way… That’s my belief. Eventually enriching the way I live my life and of course grow as I broaden my horizon in life…

View Answer on Quora

My Egypt Bucket list

One of the most enchanting destinations for me was always Egypt. I’ve always been fascinated with History and archaeology in general. But one of the most amazing things and striking about Egypt is it’s beautiful rustic and yet very enchanting ancient culture and heritage  was always inspiring to me. Besides the historic significance and it’s age old mystical nature that one sees in movies and read in books, there is always a fascinating awe to the place especially when it comes to the way people lived back in the olden times. And that is something I always found fascinating.   A lot of times I randomly search for places and try to find offers to various destinations in case any plans of travel happen sometime soon. That’s when I stumbled upon Holiday Hypermarket while looking for Holidays in Egypt

And as aptly mentioned on the site, “A holiday in Egypt simply can’t be beaten, with its world-class diving, an incredible history and golden beaches. Whether you’re walking down the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, cruising down the Nile, diving in the Red Sea or lazing on the beach, Egypt promises an amazing holiday.”

Having that in mind I’ve decided to make a bucket list for myself for the places I should visit in Egypt whenever I do go ahead and decide to take that trip. 🙂 Here’s what I came up with after a little bit of research and this should be quite a trip whenever I do decided to go there.

1. Cairo: The capital of Egypt and the largest city in the entire Arab world, offers way too many things to present in a nutshell. This city is not just a concentration of people; with its old town showcasing what is left of the cities that were previous capitals, and The Egyptian Museum  having an endless stock of the country’s antiquities, Cairo is a concentration of culture. Not to mention, its proximity to the pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza.

2. Mastaba of Seshemnufer 4 – The Pyramids of Egypt are famous all across the world but The Pyramid of Seshemnufer IV still lies as an offbeat among it. Lying on the way from the main office to Khufu’s pyramid, this particular pyramid consists of several rooms, a pleasant sanctuary and an underground burial chamber. There’s no long waiting period as most tourists don’t take the time to explore these ancient chambers.

3. Pyramids of Giza: The Great Pyramid of Giza is oldest and the largest of the three pyramids. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World. This pyramid was built for Pharaoh Khufu. This pyramid was the tallest man made structure for over 3,800 years, at 146.5 metres. It is the only pyramid which has ascending and descending passages.

4. Khan El-Khalili Market – This market was built in 1382 by the Emir Djaharks el-Khalili. This largest market is situated in one corner of the triangle of markets. Prices are lower in area north of al-Badistan and to the west. One will find here great deals on Gold, silver, brass and copper. Besides shopping, this market is also famous for its historic cafes.

5. The Hanging Church: (Located in Shar’a Mari Girgis) is one of the oldest Coptic Churches in Egypt. and still in use. This ancient church is adorned with beautiful wooden ceiling, marble columns and ebony as well as ivory screens. While you are here make sure to look down through the plastic viewing ports which gives one the feeling of being suspended in air!

5. Luxor: One of the most popular Egyptian destinations among international tourists is Luxor, because it features the ancient city of Thebes. The area is widely known as the world’s largest open air museum because of the incredible concentration of massive monuments, temples, and tombs. The great Nile flows through, separating the modern city of Luxor (East Bank) from the ancient Thebes (West Bank).  The Tomb of Pabasa belongs to the 26th dynasty priest, with beautiful views of agriculture and self-indulging activities such as hunting and fishing. Entry Tickets are available at the ticket office of the Deir al-Bahri Temple. Here’s a link for more information

These are some of the items on my immediate checklist…  If there are some better, let me know which ones?

What are the must-see travel destinations in India?

Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:

India is one of the richest places to travel to when it comes to culture, people, places and beautiful landscapes. There is a rich heritage and culture with diversity across various geographical and social plains in India. I’m a travel blogger  blogging about my Travel Tales… (srinistuff.com) while I’ve been travelling across the country for over five years now and have tried to cover a lot of destinations across the vast geographical plains of India. No matter how much I traverse across the various different parts of the country I feel there’s a lot more to see. With the exception of North East, Jammu & Kashmir, some parts of MP and Gujarat I’ve traveled to a lot of other parts including the famous Himalayas! Here are some of my favorite locations that are must see and one must visit for sure…. These are the places I’ve visited and of the lot, these are my favorite in no particular order 🙂

Trek towards Valley of Flowers and  Hemkund Saheb (Glacier may not be always there…)

The actual Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand HImalayas

Camp in the tents near Keylong

Paragliding in the Solang Valley

Rohtang Pass enroute Manali

Dalai Lama Temple in Dharamsala/McLeodganj

Shey Palace in Ladakh

Shanti Stupa in Ladakh

Leh Palace in Leh, Ladakh

Nubra Valley in Ladakh

Disket Temple in Nubra Valley in Ladakh

Ride a Bullet to Khardung La in Ladakh *Highest Motorable road 18380 ft

Alchi Gompa – Oldest Monastery in Leh, Ladakh

Indus River Valley in Ladakh

Pangong Tso Lake across Ladakh and China Border

The serene Om beach in Gokarna

Rameshwaram Temple and it’s 1000 Pillars

Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort. Kochi

Boat to Allepy from Kottayam in Kerala

Buland Darwaaza of Fatehpur Sikri

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Jain temples of Jaisalmer

The Vintage car museum in Udaipur

Matri Mandir in Auroville

Pondicherry & Auoroville Beach

The Garden City – Bangalore

Visit the Ruins of Hampi – A must visit if you are a fan of archaeology and historic ancient culture.

Stone Chariot in the Vittala Temple

Hazara Rama Temple – Carvings from 10th-13th century of Rama

Lakshmi Narsimha statue

Krishna Temple

Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure… Ancient air conditioned palace

Monolithic Bull, carved out of one Stone

Mythical Lions called Yalli inside Krishna Temple

View the Marina Beach Sunrise in Chennai

Conquer the Mahuli fort during rains in Maharashtra – The Sahayadaris

Charminar in Hyderabad

The Buddha Statue in Lumbini Park in Hyderabad on the Husain Sagar lake

Be part of the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai

Lenayadri Hills in Maharashtra – One of the Ashtavinayaka Temples

Ajanta Ellora Caves in Aurangabad

Badrinath Temple in Uttarakhand

Mana Village and Vasudhara Waterfalls – The last indian Village on Indo Tibet Border

Haridwar for it’s cultural and spiritual expose.

Lakshman Jhoola and the Parmarth Temple in Rishikesh

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Holidaying Abroad: Cheap Deals for Families in Lanzarote

With Christmas around the corner and many families having to tighten their purse strings to afford niceties, it’s no wonder many are opting to give up their annual family holiday in the sun. Even though times are tight, there are plenty of options for fun in the sun at a reasonable price so why not treat your brood once in a while?

With excellent deals on Lanzarote holidays cropping up on the net all the time, this beautiful Canary Island is a perfect hotspot for holidaymakers of all ages.  Opting for all inclusive family holiday deals will keep your costs low, and include everything you could need for a vacation to remember. The initial outlay is usually more for all inclusive deals, but overall, you will make massive savings on the holiday basics such as food, drink, snacks and activities.

If you prefer to do things your own way, without the constraints of all inclusive and package deals, stay on the island in self catering accommodation, helping you to keep a watchful eye on your spends. Shop at the local supermarkets and grab some great deals on food that you can prepare yourselves, and in the process, save on daily restaurant outings.

Head to Costa Tequise for a reasonably priced excursion, including the only waterpark on the island – Aquapark. Keeping the kids busy all day and giving you the chance to top up your tan, Aquapark will keep the brood out of trouble and away from boredom.

If you’re travelling as a family with young ones, Puerto Del Carmen may not be the best choice due to the number of late night revellers potentially affecting your good nights’ sleep, but Playa Blanca is a little more toned down and ideal for couples and families looking for a calm, but fun, sojourn.

Check out some of the amazing family deals you can snap up and start saving your extra pounds for a fantastic budget break in Lanzarote.

What are the best places (other than famous ones) to visit in India?

Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:

Trekking in the Himalayas

I’m an avid travel bloger and blog about my escapades regularlyhttp://www.srinistuff.com. I always enjoy trekking in the Himalayas,  An experience in the Himalayas itself is something that classifies as one of the best activities to do in India… Of course there are local terrains, local treks, mostly Shayadaris since I live in Maharashtra… But Himalayas is something else… A complete transition into a world that takes you to the best state of mind let alone the whole physical and spiritual experience engulfing you out there.

So far I’ve been on the J&K side of Himalayas, Leh & Ladakh part… Uttarakhand/Uttaranchal (Valley of Flowers) and Been to certain territories of North Eastern Himalayas with the Sandakhpu trek and a bit of Nepal with the journey towards various villages across the India Nepal border. It’s very tough to choose between all of these three trips. So I’d give list down a couple of treks that I did which fall among the best activities I’ve done in India. with a few images to give you an idea of how amazing the himalayas are…

Trekking in the Valley of Flowers (Uttarakhand) (14000 feet above sea level)

Starting from Haridwar, Rishikesh, we began doing some local sight seeing and exploring various aspects of Uttarakhand slowly moving towards desolation and complete bliss amongst nature. Uttarakhand in itself is a beautiful place with spirtuality integrates well with nature and the amazing landscapes and terrains find themselves accompanied with various significant mythological / religious / spiritual references from the vast history of India… All the 5 confluences while on your way towards Joshimath are something to look forward too… The beautiful Ganga river flowing all the way on your side accompanying you along on the road side. But the best experience begins when you reach Ghagaria ghat… after a tiring trek of 13kms which is more like 30 kms cause of it’s steep level of climb… From there on an early morning trek to the Valley of flowers where you could see the Himalayas at a glance is what you should enjoy the best… Some pictures of how the trek looks like…

The best time to go here would be between June and September. Ideally flowers bloom during this period and as a matter of fact, every week you’ll get to see a whole range of flowerbeds across the valley. When we went, we had a possibility of viewing a new flower that had bloomed in the valley and we were also told that in a span of 5 years, first time there was a glacier that appeared enroute the Valley of flowers.

Now that is something that sounded really amazing as this would have been the first time I’d ever get to see glacier, though technically not snow, yet something worth experiencing.

Trekking across Villages in Nepal (Sandakphu Trek) 14200 feet above sea level..

This experience was simply stunning only because of the most amazing  landscapes that we experienced on our way to the top, but also the amazing Nepalese culture that we got to encounter during our trip. One of the most interesting thing that amazes you on this trip is that constantly you are crossing borders between India and Nepal, but barring a few check posts, there’s hardly anything to distinguish whether you are in Nepal or India… Unless you have a trekking guide along with you. Which we had and a good one too. The whole aspect of the beautiful terrains  and landscapes, no connectivity and total realm of realism sinking in to each pore of your skin is something that gives you a joy that you realize is something that we people take for granted. We went in November, hence the cold weather was something to enjoy as well… Some of these glimpses will give you a better idea.

Overall this trek was a mix of both nature trail, wild mountains, and most importantly a different culture altogether. However, there are many infamous terrains in the Himalayas that I’m planning to visit, and get more experiences as these. My list of places in Himalayas would be:

1 Everest Base Camp
2. Gomukh Gangotri trek
3. Kangra Valley trek
4. Parvati Valley
6. Trekking extensively in Ladakh, Spiti
7. Dalhousie trek
8. Saur Kund and Saur Pass trek.
9. Kailash Manasarovar
10. Har Ki  Dhun.

As an avid traveler, travel blogger and trekker, I encourage a lot of people to try out experiences in Himalayas, for I can’t tell you how it is, you have to experience it yourself to know better. 🙂 Hope this answer helps people travel to India and experience Himalayas themselves…

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What is the historical significance of Hampi and which places do I visit there?

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

I’m in love with this city and this is going to be my pilgrimage destination forever! I have a love for it’s ancient archaeological structures and it’s association with the mythological references of Ramayana. That apart, there is this beautiful aura about the place that mesmerizes you to the core. That is why I make it a point that I visit this place every year. Also, my great grandfather from my mother’s side was a great Late Shri. N.S Rajpurohit, was a famous historian who has a lot to do with the excavations of certain parts which marked significance to Hampi / the Kingdom of Vijayanagara.

Pampa River

Hampi is called Hampi cause of the river Pampa now the Tungabhadra. Pampa was an ancient name for Hampi. According to legends, Pampa the daughter of Bramha did penance to please Lord Shiva. Impressed with her devotion Shiva married her and took the name Pampapati. On the banks of the river (Tungabhadra) there are numerous shrines of Shiva being worshipped.

History of Hampi

History of Hampi dates back to the chalcolithic and the Neolithic era… Could be proven from the ceramic and handmade pottery found from those ages. Also from the 2nd and the 3rd century there are rock edicts of the asokan empire found here…

Rulers of Hampi

Pre-Vijayanagara era it was ruled by many rulers primarily Chalukyas of Badami, Hoysalas, Yadavas and others. But the main founders of this empire are primarily two kings Harihara and Bukka raya. Also known as Hakka and Bukka who were disciples of Swami Vidyaranya…

Around the 14th century when Mughals made inroads to South India, they captured most part of Hampi and the Kampili chiefs Hakka and Bukka were prisoners… But soon they overthrew the Mughal empire after they were assigned to govern under Mughal Sultanates and retook Hampi… They then gave the name Vijayanagara (Land of Victory) also dedicated to Swami Vidyaranya so it’s also referred to as Vidyanagara.

Over the years Vijayanagara (hampi.in) (popularly called as Hampi) developed a unique style of architecture, came to be known as Vijayanagara (hampi.in) Architecture

That was mostly during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya under whose rule this empire saw its peak! He was abig fan of architecture and also was open to various styles of architecture Indian and Islamic… He also was a good ruler and had diplomatic relationship with the Spanish across the east coast and hence Hampi was quite open to trade with Europeans and usually gems and stones were traded for cotton and spices which were abundantly available here.

However after his death and during the reign of Ramraya Hampi faced a gruesome destruction. His son in law Ramraya was captured and killed during the battle of Rakkasatangdi after which the empire was left undefended when the Mughals ransacked this place, destroyed many buildings and later it was left abandoned for a long while for it to become a jungle and ruins remained. It was later on because of the curiosity of many western archaeologists and authors to great books namely Robert Sewell and A.H Longhurst that this place gained significant interest across the world. UNESCO’s World Heritage Site was conferred to Hampi in 1986.

Mythological Association of Hampi

There’s also a mythological association with Hampi. Locals and folklore has it that this area was the mythical Kishkinda Vanara kingdom from the Ramayana and this is where Rama and Lakshmana stayed before they headed off to Lanka in search of Sita. There are a couple of mountains and places which are believed to be the places where Sugreeva, Vali, Hanuman and Ram stayed back then…

Hazara Rama Temple

Which brings me to the Hazara Rama Temple. Hazara Rama… 1000 Rama? Cause of the 1000 inscriptions / sculptures of Rama on the walls of the temple? Well no… actually Hazara Rama comes from the word Hazarumu which in telegu means Entrance Hall This place has one of the most beautiful and intricate carvings lot of them describing what happened back in Ramayana and some of them depicting various Vishnu avatar. It was also a private temple of the royal family.

Stone Chariot in The Vittala Temple

The stone chariot is one of the most amazing structures in Hampi… If you get around clicking photographs of this monument, you wouldn’t just stop… its so beautiful. It’s made of big granite blocks and even though we may think it’s a monolithic structure it actually isn’t. The big granite blocks get covered cause of the intricate carvings on the chariot.

Musical Pillars of Hampi

Another very interesting thing in the vittala temple are the musical pillars in the photo shown above… Check out this video… to see what I mean

Well now if you go there this may not be possible as it has been restricted as there were incidents of damage to the structure in the past.

King’s Balance

Just outside the vittala temple, you’ll find the Kings Balance… I belive this custom still exists and it existed back then of course. The kings were kept in the balance which was put on this structure. Weighed against gold and jewellery which was then given away to the priests and the needy.

Lotus Mahal Complex

The lotus mahal and the elephant stables are one of the most intact pieces of architecture in Hampi… This temple was in a Zenana enclosure was believed to be a recreational area for the women folks of the royal family. There are hooks to tie up curtains and you’ll also find these terracotta pipes which are on the ceiling of this structure. They were filled with water from the well besides it and they acted as ventiatory ducts which provided cooling due to the breeze. Ancient air conditioning so to speak. The elephant stables are symmetrical set of stables with central one them being the biggest. These are unlike any other pieces of architecture as they are a mixture of Indo Islamic architecture.

Octagonal Bath

Octagonal public baths are something you’ll find. These are probably one of the oldest bathing structures which are still properly maintained… They weren’t just made out there. The stepped stones were assembled block by block after being made somewhere else. Very beautiful sight to your eyes.

Underground Shiva Temple

The underground shiva temple is in shambles… The most you can do is go and visit it from the outside. It’s completely dilapatated inside a cave filled with stench and loads of black water. There were a 1000 lingas inside, but since I’vent gone I wouldn’t know… After a point it becomes very eerie. The queens bath is a small structure, much like a swimming pool of the ancient times… or a humongous jacquzi if I may say…

Queens Bath

This is the first ruined structure you would see when you enter into the Royal center from the Kamalapura (hampi.in)-Hampi main road. For some mysterious reasons this was called as the queen’s bath. But in all probability this was a royal pleasure complex for the king and his wives. It’s a bit an assuming plane rectangular building from out side. But when you get inside, the story is different.The whole building is made with a veranda around facing a big open pond at the middle. Projecting into the pond are many balconies. An aqueduct terminates in the pond.The balconies are decorated with tiny windows and supported by lotus bud tipped brackets. The whole pool is open to the sky. This brick lined pool is now empty. But it’s believed once fragrant flowers and perfumed water filled this bathing pool. At one end of the veranda you can see a flight of steps giving access to the pool. The domical roof of veranda is a spectacle itself.

The Krishna Temple

The Krishna temple is one temple that was commissioned by Krishnadeva Raya and the architecture is significantly his. Interesting and very beautifu carvings such as that of the Mythical lion called the Yallis and the beautiful Gopis can be found here…You can also see carvings of 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu and as soon as you enter the temple you’ll find a tortoise there… Like in temples of Halebeid and Belur.

Lakshmi Narsimha Statue

The Lakshmi Narsimha statue is probably one of the most damaged yet magnificient and huge creations. It’s the largest statue of Hampi. Narsimha is seen sitting on a coil of giant seven headed Snake. Shesa. It originally had Goddess Lakshmi sitting in his lap. However when the mughals raided Hampi they hugely damaged it thinking there would be gold and jewellery hidden inside the statue.

Badava Linga Temple

Right next to it is badava linga temple. A monolithic Shiva Linga believed to be carved by a poor woman (badava) in order to praise shiva

Sasvekalu Ganesha & Kadalekalu Ganesha

The Ganeshas of Hampi are well revered. Sasvekalu and Kadalekalu Ganesha. They are named because of the resemblance of their tummies to Mustard Seed and Bengal gram respectively. There’s a story behind the Sasivekalu ganesha. Once Ganpati was very hungry and he ate so much that his tummy burst.. He immediately found a snake nearby and tied it across his tummy and that is what is depicted in the sculpture. Both are monolithic statues.

Monolithic Bull

At he foothills of the great Matanga parvat / Matanga hill near the Hampi bazaar you’ll find this Monolithic bull, much similar to the one in a temple in Halebeidu. You trek for an hour or so you get on top of the Matanga hill from which you can get the most spectacular view of the city and it’s beautiful just before Sunset! A must visit.

Coracle Ride to Other side of the River

One of the best experiences is a ride in the coracle / boat to the Anjaneya hills The place revered to be the birth place of Hanumana. There’s also a cave where Sugreeva hid before he fought Vali to get him killed.

 Virupaksha Temple

Last but not least the most famous Virupaksha temple of Hampi which also is the only functioning temple in Hampi since the 14th Century which also makes it the only functioning temple in India. Among all temples this is the only one which the Mughals never attacked. Why? Cause of the insignia or the emblem of a pig on the door of the temple. During the Hampi Festival, this is quite the place to go, in fact during Diwali as well this place has a lot of festivities and is totally decorated. One thing to look out for is the Local Elephant inside the temple… He’s always there been there for many years now…

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