Tag Archives: India

The Old Kingdom of Kullu

“A window into the reflection of life, inside my soul lies a deep yearning to climb the peak up above the snow clad mountains of Himalayas! A time will come when I look at that mirror, where I don’t see the reflection at all for I’ll be one with these mountains of glory!”

As we drove past the mountainous reigons of Himachal Pradesh, while most of the mountains, look dry and surrounded by a cold yearning in the beginning of summer, elsewhere in India, it was a pleasant 1-5 degrees centigrades in this quaint little village of Kullu. About 20 odd kms from Manali and the same from Kullu, Naggar, Himachal Pradesh is the quiet little place you would want to visit and if your intention is to just sway away from the crowded places, especially if it’s a long weekend, this is quite the place to be at. It was the capital of Kullu Rajas in 1460! Hence the old kingdom of Kullu, as pointed out by one of my commenters on my previous blog as well. 

Amidst breathtaking forested hills, the Naggar Castle is a magnificent historical edifice. Made of stone and wood, this palace served as the residence of Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu. It was built in AD 1460 in an impressive amalgamation of European and Himalayan architecture. Fireplaces, fitting staircases, and magnificent stone and wood works grace the castle’s interiors.

Here’s some breathtaking pictures from this beautiful place which you can call home, especially if you are in love with the mountains!

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Naggar, Himachal Pradesh, India, Travel Blogger, srinistuff, Srinivas Kulkarni, Himalayan Blogger, Travel Blogger India

Hello Himalayas! Let’s meet again…

It’s been a long wait… And the moment has finally arrived!

After working hard for the last couple of months, especially over almost all the weekends or Saturdays to say the least, this next long weekend is going to be a  much needed break traveling to my favourite destination in the world, eighth year in a row!

While most trips to the mountains are either an escapade across the longwinded journeys of durations beyond 10 days, sometimes, long weekends give that amazing opportunities to just take a glance at the love of your life, give a peck and come back to return to your hustle and bustle of the city life!

Considering the next week is one such long weekend, we thought it would be a great time to say hello to the mountains, spend a few days in the mountains and enjoy the breathtaking views of the snowcapped Himalayas.

This time, we’re off to Naggar, a quaint little village, about 20 odd kilometers from both Kullu and Manali. Considering, it’s also just about the right time where the weather in and around Himachal Pradesh would be pleasant to cold, it’s certainly a good idea to spend some time in here. While, Manali is like a pitstop to most travelers heading to the beautiful locations of either Leh-Ladakh, Spiti Valley or many other sought after destinations in the Northern Himalayas, this village-town was a great find, especially because it’s a little off-beat and also would give us some time to explore Manikaran, which maybe  a little touristy, but right around this time of the year, all the  more beautiful.

So, yeah, come this next week, the plan is to kind of unplug, unwind and settle down with some reading, conversations with friends and pondering over into oblivion while gazing at the snowcapped mountains, spreading grandeur across our lives.

Naggar is a settlement in Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh, India, and it usually falls as a stopover, but is also a great destination because most treks, such as Chandrakheni, Rumsu. Back in the day it was the capital of Kullu Rajas in 1460, the name derived from ‘The Learned Man’

Apart from of course chilling out in Naggar, there are quite a few places, mostly temples which you can visit if you’re interested like Gauri Shankar Temple, Tripura Sundari temple, etc. But a couple of places that are interesting to me are

The Castle, Naggar

Castle Naggar

The Castle in Naggar is of a medieval structure and considered as a prominent tourist spot found nearby Manali. It was constructed in 1460 A.D. by Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu. The castle is of an architecture that is a blend of western and Himalayan style. The castle is strategically located near Beas River and provides 360o view of the surroundings.

The castle houses the Reorich Gallery that exhibits the painting of the well known Russian painter, Nicholas Reorich. Constructed with a blend of stone and wood, the mansion was once the home of the Raja, but was rehabilitated to a rest house in the year 1978.

Naggar Castle was converted into a heritage hotel by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation that took the charge in late 70’s. This castle turned hotel, offers complete view of Kullu Valley. The castle was constructed of wood and medieval stone with traditional architecture. (Courtesy: Holidayiq.com)

The Roerich Art gallery

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This is a place which is beautifully maintained.A small cottage where the. Ground floor is dedicated for the paintings and the first. Floor displays rooms with the furniture used by the Roerich’s. Takes you back to the old world charm. This place is a must For art and history lovers.

Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery

Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery

This recent addition to the list of attractions in Naggar, was built in 2005 and is home not only to Spirituality and Buddhism but also some of the most breathtaking views and backdrops of the area. The monastery is dedicated to Dalai Lama. (Source: Holidify.com)

Gauri Shankar Temple

Gauri Shankar Temple

This temple, located just below The Castle, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is an important religious center of the town. The historical temple was built in the 11th century and is said to be the last structure of the Gurjara-Pratihara traditions. (Source: Holidify.com)

And of course, if time permits,

Bijli Mahadev near Kullu.

Bijli Mahadev

A good ride for off road seekers and as well trekkers because the way from Naggar to Bijali Mahadev temple leads through cedar, pine forest and goes through top of the ridge of Pirpanjal range. Once you reach in the temple you can have a 360 degree panoramic view of Kullu and Parvati valley.

Hope this turns out to be a really interesting trip!

Mountains, they’re always, always calling…

  • Every time I look around the corner there’s a new horizon,

  • Every time I look at a peak, my eyes widen!

  • The hope the feeling of surrealism that lasts beyond words we can’t express…

  • One that takes you away, Beyond all that entangled stress!

  • Hope, Dreams, Paradise beyond enchantment!

  • A breath a mile, as we climb this ascent!

Journey to the mountains is always a belief! A belief beyond a shadow of an underdog’s achievement towards glory! A hope, a dream and an experience that we take upon ourselves to feel that exhilarating madness that you derive after you climb the peak and reach the top!

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Snowcapped mountains at Har Ki Dun

Just around this time of the year, I have a strong urge to go back to  these magical, mystical divine creation of nature! A feeling that I cannot, and I do not want to resist as much as I want to! While I took to trekking in the Himalayas about 6 years ago and have been continuing to visit these mountains every year, whether I trek or not, it just feels like yesterday!

Every year, for that little glance, a beautiful peek at the sunrise beyond the mountain or the sunset hovering across the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas, gives me that sense of fulfilment. One that I cannot express in mere words! It’s as if there is another universe in itself and I’m tangled in this undying bond, a delirious and encapsulating feeling of boyhood, a desire to keep playing with a toy!

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Live like a nomad by the rocks, or by the river…

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Magnificence Unexplored!

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Keep your head down and keep walking…

Mountains mean a lot to many, and every one has their story or their connection with the Himalayas! I have many and hope to have some more, each and every year, until I finally decide to be with them forever…

Until then, I’ll keep my head high, hopes to fly and soar by every time they call upon me to pay a visit! Hopefully sometime soon again…

No one here gets out alive…

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” – Jim Morrison

That said, one cannot truly explore horizons of life without a dream larger than that horizon itself.

I’d always been a huge fan of James Douglas Morrison, and when I started following him, listening to his songs, and read the book by the same title as this blog, I had never imagined, I’d have the opportunity to explore what is possibly the mecca for all the fans of , ‘The Legend,’ Jim Morrison!

Jim Morrison, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France, Europe, Srinivas, Travel Blogger

Here lies the Legend!

For most travellers and tourists, Paris has it’s own charm and yes the Eiffel tower adds to a semblance of nostalgia and the rest of the city carries a feeling of being remarkable in it’s own way. It certainly is an epitome of historical greatness and has a fine taste for food, fashion, flawless culture  and a desire towards perfection of it’s own kind. No wonder it’s the most sought after destination by traveler’s across the world!

I’ve read many a times,

“Paris is always a good idea!”

Yes it is, especially if you can visit a place like the Père Lachaise Cemetery, and experience the aura of the souls of the departed, with a sense of purpose that you never had.

The destination was definitely on my list and I was saving the best for last, after having explored most of the city, spending more than a few days in Paris, @FeetonTheMap and I decided to explore the artisan life on our final day, by spending some time walking across the streets of Paris, visiting the Shakespeare and Company, reading a few lines, many a quotes, playing the Piano and being in the same location which once upon a time (1920’s) was a gathering place for many then-aspiring young writers such as Ernest Hemingway!

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The experience of exploring the almost century old bookstore, which still stands as part of modern art, culture and of course a business that has a repertoire that many would consider beyond what even traditional  sight-seeing locations in Paris would stand for. The quaint little bookshop was the beginning of a path to explore the greatness that we hoped would help end our trip on a high, a spiritual as well as that of self-discovery having, tread the path of the legends in a way, like never before.

While getting to the cemetery isn’t such a big deal, considering the easy access of metro the bigger challenge is to find your way around the cemetery to reach the grave. An ordeal that is truly worth the long walk and the wait, especially if you take the main gate from Gambetta side. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to take a picture of the cemetery map to navigate grave after grave while we tread the paths of the fall, leaves trailing across our feet, quite literally giving us a feeling of explorers of the dead!

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Walking round and round, around in circles, walking down steps and trying to find your route section by section, getting to ‘Area 48’ is an enjoyment of it’s own kind for sure. It took us probably a good 30-40 minutes, considering we were enjoying the experience, stopping by a few graves as we passed by. The wait was worth it, for I knew, when we got there, the sense of awe was something I’d cherish forever, not just to think of it as a check or a tick mark in my bucket list, but a lot more than that.

And I most certainly wasn’t disappointed! How could I be… I just stood there, for about 15-20 minutes and admired the beauty and the significant and enchanting view, with a sense of nostalgia… It felt like I was thrown back in time, in an alternate world! And that’s when I realized, I knew, it was time for me to leave…

And that’s when I had a smile, a smile on my face, cause in my head I could hear the words of his beautiful ballad, “This is the End.” A song that had a sense of severing ties, ones that left him heartbroken after his break up with his girlfriend, Mary Werbelow!

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes, again

Until we meet again… Au Revoir

Himalayas, India, Travel Blogger, Indian Mountains, Mountaineer, India

To Infinity and Beyond…

I’ve been a mountain lover for the last 6 years and Himalayas have been a yearly thing for me in those past six years. Being an avid lover of mountains and trekking, having hiked miles and miles across North Western, Eastern Himalayas and a bit of Nepal as well, I think I’ve found a yearning for the Himalayas that I believe isn’t something that’ll ever just fade away…

To me, being close to the mountains is being close to reality. For me, ‘Being discovered’ in my truest sense is when there is utmost clarity in my peak senses of not just my mind, body and soul but an inner conscience that sends me on a deep and exploring journey in a space which gives me clarity towards not just what I am doing, what should I be doing, but who I am and who I really want to be.

To me, being close to the mountains probably helps hone the thinking of a wandering thinker and a pondering writer that I truly want to be, unlike the occasional tourist that I am to the divine beauty that lies across the mountain terrain. The huge peaks, the humongous canvas of an all-encompassing ranges of the Himalayas truly admonish me to forget my comfortable and meaningless life that I’m leading to do something, make something, create something more out of the potentially huge aspiration that always drives me to evolve into someone who’ll not just leave a legacy, but also force myself to drive a passion, a purpose that is beyond just regular needs of life.

I don’t yet, know when and how this escapade will start, but I have a strong feeling that it’ll be very soon. And when that happens, my first thought would be to share that with everyone and forever disappear to the love I seek forever and be closer to not just the mountains of Himalayas but a numbing belief that I have within myself, that occasionally has a voice like in the Star Trek series… only saying… ‘To Infinity and Beyond!’

Standing Tall…

Dreams Aspirations, Conquests above all

The Mighty Wind, The SnowFall

Your Determination, Your Challenges,

Your Sacrifices, Your Pain, You know it all

Without your existence, Without your great Wall

There’s no resistance to this country at all

Growth to you is not merely a matter of your survival

But a difference to lives of one and all!

While you protect the ones who protect us all,

Without a doubt, you’d never let this Nation Fall!

A great source of inspiration, A great breadth of imagination,

A belief to the many who soar the skies,

A relief to the many who lose hope without knowing why…

Many who climb your peaks, Many who conquer’ your summit

You let them think it’s not difficult at all…

You Were, You Are, You Will be…

“The Great Himalayas

Always Standing Tall, Always Standing Tall!”

Happy Independence Day

Travel Bloggers India, India Travel, Travel India, Travel Blogs India

To be well traveled is to be well read…

Or is it the other way around? Well, doesn’t matter, they both add up to making you a person of great learning and knowledge. I started traveling hardcore about eight years ago. I’ve traveled extensively for months, and there have been times when for months, I’ve been busy with either work or pursuing other passions in life. No matter what, after such a great journey I’ve had in these past years, I’ve always felt the thirst, the hunger to seek more knowledge. Meet new people, think and talk about places, destinations that make for the best memories throughout.

So, apart from the fact that travel makes me a well read person, because I am able to do all of those things, I believe one thing that I always carry on all my travels, especially in the mountains, is a book! A book to keep me company and to give me time to unclog especially if I’m on one of those unplugged trips where I want to get away, off the grid from this melancholy of life that we lead on a daily basis.

While, my choice of books is varied, across genres of travel, sci-fi, modern classics, technology I always feel the need to pack more than one book, in case I want the choice to read another if I get stuck somewhere on one of them. Guess, what, being a backpacker, my first motto is always to travel light. And if I have to travel light, there have been times that I’ve probably traded an extra book, to an extra pair of jeans or even a jacket for that matter. That’s how perplexed I am after I’ve stuffed my backpack. I keep wondering, let me choose a few thinner books rather than one large size monster, cause what if I don’t like that book and want to read the other ones. Then I wonder, what if I finish all my books and I don’t have anything to read or have to buy one on the move… And yes, that’s why I always have my iPod, where I carry an additional audio book just in case, but mostly end up listening to music if I’m on longer trips.

Anyways, that dilemma has been solved, now that I’ve got the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve always had it in mind to get one of those, especially for my mountain trips, treks. I remember trekking the Sandakphu in West Bengal, and that was the time I had pre-ordered a mammoth Steve Jobs book, which was released around that very time. Sadly, I couldn’t carry the huge book atop, and had to leave it at the base camp. I did have an e-book version of it, on the Kindle App on my phone, but the battery wouldn’t last long enough to survive the entire trek. So I can actually remember reading bits, savoring the battery life I had and somehow manage to skim through some chapters before I could actually come back to the base camp and continue a better reading experience on my return journey back from Darjeeling to Mumbai. Add to that, despite having a 4″ screen, the reading experience is not the best and I admit, having a Kindle, would have been a great experience.

Cut to 2015: I was on another trek in the Himalayas, (Har-ki-Dun) This has to be one of the most magnanimous journeys I’ve taken in the Himalayas, especially because of it’s amazing view of the mountains, the landscape and the journey across a serene landscape of solitude of sorts! I could probably just stay there for years and years, if I have over a thousand books with me. One of those surreal dreams of being a sage, a relic in the mountains surviving on learning through the wisdom of books!

Har Ki Dun India Travel Blog srinistuff srinivas kulkarni

Thanks to the Kindle, now I can. I think as a traveler, this is the best gadget to carry especially if you are one of those who travel solo or travel with few people and don’t mind the company of a few good reads along with the conversations, imaginations and view of the landscape around you. I’ve been using it for over a month now.

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One of my biggest problems of choosing how many books to carry, or which one, is kaput! To add to that, I don’t have to worry about space in my backpack or my book getting wet as well, cause you can actually be worry free especially if you buy the Kindle cover that’s available separately on the Amazon store. The fact that it’s battery lasts for about 2 weeks would easily mean that you are sorted for about 15 days, which is mostly the length of most of my trips, and either ways, you have the ability to charge it with any USB / Mobile charger nowadays. While the earlier version I’ve heard lasts for more than 3 weeks, the ability to download / buy via 3G and probably the better user screen experience, could be the reason, why the battery life could use some more juice, it’s still a great advantage for a traveler like me.

For most travelers, the user experience of flipping through books, being able to read without straining your eyes, especially if you go for a mobile device to replace the actual books, then I think this Kindle is perfect for you. Probably one day, if my dream of becoming a Modern Day Relic, would come true, then I’d probably disappear in the mountains with nothing but a thousand books on this device and probably an iPod. That’s all that I need to survive in the realm of my imagination!

Disclaimer: While I mostly write about travel on this blog, I’m also an avid reader of books, especially e-books and audio books. The Kindle device was given to me by Amazon for my views on how it’s a great tool for a traveler like me. I’ve written this blog for my audience, fellow travelers as I felt this recommendation makes sense for you readers and I recommend this device on my own accord and makes a lot of sense especially for backpackers like me to carry a Kindle as opposed to many books. The views on this blog are personal and neither Amazon India or their stakeholders have any influence on my thoughts.