Category Archives: Travel Answers on Quora

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

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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…

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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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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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