Tag Archives: Travel

Travel Tips for Visiting London

London

Travelling to London in this day and age is a lot easier than in yesteryear. However, with any trip there are always variables that you must consider in order to ensure that your trip goes as safely as possible. With flight times approximately 10 hours from Delhi to London, the last thing you want is to face a series of hurdles upon arrival that you are ill prepared for. So, with all that in mind we have devised a comprehensive list of tips and information to help you on your trip.

The list is mainly focused on helping save money for backpackers as London is reported to be the 15th most expensive city in the world to visit as per English newspaper Daily Mail. And if you’re not careful, you too could fall foul of a series of expensive charges that you could have easily avoided if you’d taken the time to research ways to cut costs and adhere to your budget.

Buy tube or bus tickets immediately…

Taxis or cabs around London are scandalously overpriced, so you must avoid them at all costs unless you’re desperate to get somewhere in a short space of time. Using the tube or bus is relatively affordable compared to the cabs. Also, if you use the tube then you will eliminate the terrible traffic that’s in and around London itself.

Use short stay parking if your relatives are picking you up

This is more of a money saver for both you and any relatives or friends you have if they are picking you up from the airport. Like many leading airports, Gatwick one of London’s largest airports, has advanced parking services. Parking4Less states that Gatwick has short stay options, which can come in handy to drivers. This is useful for anyone who needs to pick you up as they can conveniently park their car for a couple of hours at an affordable price. Note: this is especially ideal if your flight is delayed and they have to wait extra hours.

Always use hostels over expensive hotels

There are so many hostels in and around London that you will never be short of options. However, make sure that you always book reservations in advance. Helpful websites such as Agoda can help you find the ideal hostel for you at a relatively cheap price.

Explore London’s museums

There are so many amazing museums in London; you are really spoilt for choice. But the best thing is there are also so many that are free to enter. Time Out recently published an article that gave their readers a run down of the ‘Top 10 Free Museums in London’. The list features Science Museum, Museum of London, British Museum, Natural History Museum and many more.

I know I am only touching the surface with the above list but hopefully this will initiate some other thought provoking ideas to research when you are planning your visit to London. If you have already visited London, however, by all means leave your travel experiences below in our comments section.

Travel Enthusiast of the Month

Fourways travel, Travel

Fourways Travels – Travel Enthusiast of the Month 😀

One of the best things about being known as a traveler and a wanderer is to share your exciting journey and your lust for travel with everyone who wants to be there and beyond! Recently Fourways Travel reached out to me to feature me in a category on their blog called ‘Travel Enthusiast of the Month’ Was happy to know that I’m one of the first in the series to come and would be watching that space to find out perspectives from people across the country who give their opinion on the way they travel.

While I don’t generally have a theme or a pattern in mind, other than ‘Backpacking,’ it was a great opportunity to pen my thoughts down on some specific questions that they asked and answer my responses!

From what inspired me to travel, to describing how my first solo travel experience was. From the best of my trips to the top on my bucket list I got to pen down some of my most favorite travel moments for others to seek inspiration towards. Something that gave me a perspective on how this journey has come out so far. Some of these questions were for them, but the answers I gave were answers to myself. As a wanderer, as a traveler, what makes me happy and what are the reasons why I travel. Well, all of it encapsulated in this interview. So go ahead, read all about it on this blog here!

Wandering off beyond reality

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“To wander off beyond the realms of reality, sometimes you just need to travel to get back to the roots of your imagination.”

Isn’t it true? Whenever you travel you make sure that you go to the places that you have dreamed of many times. When you travel, you always make it a point to find something that you don’t get in your day to day life. You find that escapade, that solitude and that beautiful far off distant places that you wondered about every single day of your life. Travel to me is beyond finding that escape, beyond just rediscovering myself or finding my soul. Sometimes I travel to just look at the beauty that is around me. Sometimes I just travel to find an interesting observation that I won’t on a day to day basis. Many a times I travel to just look at things that I don’t pay attention to if I am living my so called ‘life.’

How do you decide where you want to travel? The truth really is, you don’t decide where you travel, it decides you. Yeah, you might say that it’s a cliche, that has been fed to many a writers, artists and now people don’t accept it the way it is meant to be. Yes, many of us make our bucket lists and travel to places that you have been wishing for many years and I fall in that category too. The truth is, no matter how much you plan, how much you travel you would never get enough of it. So don’t think about it. Travel as much as you can, travel without a goal, travel without a dream. Just travel for the sake of it, if you will. Believe in the fact that you have the world to yourself and get going on the road that you have thought of in your mind!

Just wander off! Just start traveling, just start dreaming and start believing in the fact that, no matter what you do, you’ll always keep traveling at the smallest occasion you get. Believe in the fact that you can do it and you will do it! When you look at it a few years down the line  you’ll realize how far you have come! And that’s what I do, today. I am happy! I feel and I think I am for sure. I know I can be happier, and I know I will! Cause I have a belief that that is the only goal I have in life and I will pursue it day after day until I die! Cause I believe in what I want, and what I shall get! To travel the world till I die!

Gems of Mumbai!

Mumbai, Fort, Colaba, Dwarka, Restaurant, Food, Mumbai, Bombay, India, Travel

Gajanana, the gem of Dwarka Restaurant

Meet Gajanana of Dwarka Restaurant at Nagindas Master Road (Fort). Every time I’ve been here I’ve found him to be one of the most enterprising and welcoming people at that busy, hectic, always packed restaurant during lunch time. His job probably is to just offer nothing but a smile, excellent customer service, talk to the customer, not sell them on anything but pure joy!

A couple of things I noticed a few times. Unlike many other restaurants where people are just going on and about taking orders, delivering them, giving the bill and letting the customers walk away, he has a very personalized interaction with a lot of customers who come in everyday.

“Come, come, I have reserved a seat for you.” He says that with a smile to almost anyone and everyone who come in during lunch.

A true conversationalist that he is, yesterday I noticed him talking to two customers across the table:

Gajanana: “Have the Lassi! It’s the best out here.”
Customers: “Is it, really?”
Gajanana: “I’m telling you the truth, I don’t lie. The times for me to lie are gone.”

Holding his forearm ahead and pointing to his elbow and then to his palms, he measures them and says

“This much of my life is over! Now only this much is left. So I won’t lie.” And then smiles cheekily…  The customers smile back and I do too, without him noticing that.

He hails from Murudeshwar, Karnataka and probably is also the owner of the place, pretty much like the old uncle at Britannia Restaurant! He truly spreads a lot of joy and happiness especially in a city where we need some smiles rather than the frowning, grumpy faces. Such people are gems of this city. With the busy, hectic, rat race driven rut that people live in, Mumbai needs more freshness like him!

Traversing through Chang La pass

One of the most amazing destinations in Ladakh is the Pangong Tso Lake. The beauty of this huge multi-colored lake is that 30 percent of the lake is in India while the rest of the seventy percent is layered in China across the border that stretches from there. On our way to Pangong Tso, we encounter the Chang La pass.

It is certainly an enchanting place and something that would come very close to actually riding across Khardung la pass, (the highest motorable road in the world) and Chang La is the third highest. at  5,360 m or 17,590 ft)  The name literally means “Pass towards the South” or “Pass in the South” (Chang = south, La = Pass). It is falsely claimed that the pass is named after the supposed sadhu Changla Baba, a myth propagated by the dedication of a temple at the pass to the supposed Changla Baba. If any such sadhu exists or existed, he would have been named for the pass, rather than vice versa (since the name “changla baba” means the “baba of the southern pass”. The small town of Tangste is the nearest settlement. The Changla Pass is the main gateway for the Changthang Plateau situated in the Himalayas. The nomadic tribes of the region are collectively known as the Changpa or Chang-pa.

Pangong Tso, Ladakh, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, India, travel, himalayas

Mountains on our road towards Pangong Tso

Snow covered mountains and greenery at the same time

Snow covered mountains and greenery at the same time

A frozen pond...

A frozen pond…

As we come close to Chang La

As we come close to Chang La

The Frozen Mountains of Chang La

The Frozen Mountains of Chang La

Chang La Pass

Chang La Pass

Singapore – Here I come…

Well, pretty soon, I’ll be on my way for my first international trip. Yes, the calendar is blocked and the itinerary is about to be made… Looking out for hostels / hotels is already done, sending right emails and checking with people is done. Being a traveler and an avid one within the country has been by far one of the best things to have happened to me. So that’s something I cherish a lot. I have certainly traveled far and wide when it comes to the boundaries of India and its diverse terrains. So, this is something I was looking forward to for a while and that’s when this  moment came along.

The destination? – Singapore!

Singapore

I’d be down in Singapore in the 3rd week of February and I know there are plenty of places within the city to visit.

So now that I’m gonna be there the planning has become quite the pain, but I know soon I’d be on my way. What’s most important though for me is that  ‘THE TICKETS ARE BOOKED!’ The hustle and bustle, the packing and booking… Everything will become a major chaotic affair. But now there’s no stopping me! Hopefully I’ll do some sight seeing on the two weekends that I’ll get during that week.. A week which will be mostly spent in being with Social Media Professionals and a lot of interactions to happen at the Social Media Week Singapore 2013  and maybe  meeting a couple of friends out there, I’ll spend some of my time visiting a few places out there!

Any specific places that I can go to over the weekend? And maybe if there’s any tourist bus service that you can recommend? For a change, I’ll not research and let the plan take its own course… What say?

Also when I’m down thre stay tuned on My On The Go –  Tumbleogue Travelogue

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

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 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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