Trip to Varandha Ghat

There is a saying ” When there is a will, there is a way”

 We completely follow this wherever we go and we make plans which generally are not standard trips as per people around us are concerned.

Me and my better half love to explore and every year on monsoons we go on and explore western Ghats again. Since we have explored most of the places, this time we zeroed on “ Varandha Ghat”.

We took the only road which connects Mahad and Pune from Mahad side. This road goes parallelly with Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar road.

We started from Navi Mumbai early and took Khopoli road to reach Mahad. The roads are all broken and pathetic. It took us more than 4 hours to reach Mahad which is just 144 kms from Navi Mumbai. It’s getting repaired and getting concrete now so people will have better experience in 2019 onwards.

Its better if valley is entered from Pune side. Atleast the roads are good but the best views are in Mahad side which no one should miss.

We reached Mahad around 2 pm, had lunch in Mahad and started our Varandha ghat journey. There is a left turn which is not so visible after crossing Mahad in NH66. Google maps are recommended here.

Initial journey is through small 2 lane road which crosses many villages but when you start ascending in to mountains, adventure starts.

In monsoon season the valley is full of waterfalls. I mean literally there are waterfalls in each and every turn of the road. Feeling is amazing and you are suddenly in green heaven.

We crossed Kal river at the start of the road and it went with us for quite some time. River went to different direction after some distance and we started climbing Ghat section. At one point the ascend is quite steep and I realized I have a 1200 cc small car and is very good for this type of climb.

 Just look at the pictures below and you will understand the beauty this place possess. We started clicking pictures as if we will not see this kind of beauty again.

There is a spot at the top (Centre of Mahad-Pune road) where there are options of refreshments (Chai, Pakode and other eatables). The rates are normal and service is great. Usually crowdy on weekends but the owners here manages it very well.  This place is completely foggy in monsoon season. Headlight and fog light are must at this stretch.

After we crossed this point, we continued getting waterfalls each with unique characteristics and sizes. Moreover Nira-Deoghar dam starts and it went along with road for a long-long time. When we thought the beauty ends at top and we started hurrying for destination but we were in for a huge surprise when we saw the dam alongside road. The dam has both mountain and water views.

 Its Unbelievable sight with amazing landscapes.

 There is endpoint which is called BHOR after which you can take right and go Panchgani or else continue straight for Satara/Pune.

 This place is hidden gem of western Ghats and usually less crowded. Road conditions are just about ok but you cannot drive fast due to single road and sharp turns.

 Take ample time for photography and you will not regret it !!

Kerala : God’s Own Country

Recently we planned for Kerala vacations and believe me it was just superb!!

Kerala is often referred as God’s Own Country and it’s an apt title. Once you visit Kerala you will feel the tranquility, beauty and natural wonders in length and breadth of the state in the form of mountain ranges, wildlife, backwaters, monument, museums, beautifully carved temples, art galleries and lush green forests.
Located Southwest of India, Kerala is a perfect destination for tourists.

Our starting point was Munnar

A small town and a hill station, Munnar is located in the Southwest of Kerala. Tea plantations, waterfalls, and number of resorts make it a comfortable and beautiful place. National parks and wildlife are other major places you should not miss when you are here.

We started our journey to Munnar from our landed place and it took about 3 hours to reach. We were exhausted but the climate and the enchanting beauty of tea gardens just took us to some other level.

Suddenly we were energized by the god’s best creation!

By the time we got ready, we forgot how much we have traveled to get to this place and how tired we are!!
Some resorts were made just for couples as they were secluded and tranquil. You can not even hear a pin drop sound.

Just you and your partner!!!

It’s the best place to explore each other under the umbrella of nature. There will be nobody except you and you. Not even the waiters will come and disturb you (Lots of Sarcasm on this one). If you are hungry you will have to go and eat. Charges are high as compared to the quality of food. People don’t bother. In-fact nobody will bother you at all.

Good for people like us who are looking for solitude and want to explore wonders of nature.

Two days we had to explore Munnar and believe me we had very little time to explore the place.

Munnar Tea Garden
Munnar Tea Garden
Munnar Tea Garden
Munnar Tea Garden
Munnar
Munnar
Munnar Tea Garden
Munnar Tea Garden
Munnar Tea Garden
Munnar Tea Garden

Next stop was Alleppy (Allapuza) also famous for the backwaters.

The Backwaters of Kerala is another important tourist destination in the state. Its made up of the interconnected rivers, lakes and canals which merge into Arabian Sea.

You can hire a houseboat and be in water with beautiful surroundings for days. Whole houseboat is yours, you decide menu and enjoy royalty.

Most of the people who come here are honeymooners and couples and they love it here.

Marari Beach
Marari Beach
Marari-Beach
Marari-Beach

Backwaters

Kerala Backwaters
Kerala Backwaters

Next It was Kovalam (light house beach) and this was the best place among all the places visited. Its setting is unique and I never saw it earlier. There is a dead end after which the walk lane starts. One side its sea and other side resorts. In fact I never saw this kind of setting ever in my life.

A beach town on the Arabian Sea in southern India, Kovalam features two most gorgeous beaches. The most popular and largest beach is Lighthouse Beach (crowded) and Samudra Beach (fewer people).

Kovalam Beach
Kovalam Beach
Kovalam-Beach
Kovalam-Beach
Light House Beach
Light House Beach

People here know how to entertain couples but they have failed to understand average Indian traveler with family requirement. I found the resorts as very good with great option for non vegetarians.

Vegetarian guys you need to adjust a lot in Kerala as it seems people here eat only meat and nothing else.

I wish people here start loving animals as they love nature and start working on preserving animals.

One more thing. I guess the most important thing in Kerala. There is a ban in Liquor after some time in 2015 which makes me feel,

Thank god I visited earlier!!!

I think the place has its positives and negatives. Our moto should be to take positives and work towards happiness!!

I feel I had a perfect couple time with my better half!!

Sun Sand and Sea!!!

It was a perfect ending to our 10 day holiday!!

Some Funny Moments

Life gives you an opportunity to live life king size. We come across lots of funny things in life where we enjoy the moment. I travel a lot for my job and make sure that I enjoy small moments which comes during my travel.

Came across these pics which I couldn’t resist and sharing with you all.

Do make some comments and share similar pics,so that we can enjoy the moment and create much needed humor in our lives.

Travel for Living

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When I look out of a window from my hotel room where I stay when I travel for office work, I see completely different environment filled with strangers. People so different yet so familiar. I have a tendency to make good relations with hotel waiters, car drivers, guards and other people.

People say I am very good in my people handling skills. I always try to make them happy by asking them about their personal lives and show respect. They love to talk about themselves and you understand how tough life is for some people in this world. Most important they will go to that extra mile just for you and believe me it feels simply awesome.  

In turn I get respect and personal touch which keeps me motivated and makes me feel I m not far from home.

I love to travel on business as this means u meet lots of people, experience various cultures, understand uniqueness among similarities and gain knowledge. Most importantly there is no worry on food and stay expenses.

Travel means for me is to get out of routine life

  • You have lots of “me” time which means you can eat what you want, and do anything like watching movies, play games, talk to friends, surf sports channel. Actually the list is quite long which u are unable to do it at home due to several obvious reasons.
  • You introspect on your life and job. You try to think what’s ur expectations from these and how life is treating you?
  • How r u rating urself against your set goals etc etc.
  • You get to see new places and enjoy nature. I always make sure to take a new route and experience new things.

Trust me; I have been through some of the craziest things ever in my life. I guess most of the life’s best experiences are felt while traveling.

  • Once I was traveling in a car in a hilly place and lighting struck near to us in a tree. We went nuts for sometime and started laughing. It was fear for a moment than joy of being alive. 
  • A guy who told me he has lost his wallet and has no money. I gave him INR 500 to reach home as I felt pity for him. He promised to return money when he gets home. I saw a glow in his face when he got money but it seems it was all vain as he never showed up. I feel pity on myself now and lost trust. I feel the deserving people will not get the money now from me.
  • Had minor accident thrice in a single day. Three large dents in a third party car. Thankfuly.
  • Waited five exhuciating hours to meet a customer. Just imagine what I had been through. F&%$^&%^ that customer.
  • Received 5 orders on a single day. It seems like a dream and I was above the sky after this.
  • Woke up at 6 am traveled to a destination, worked all day, reached hotel. Was awake till 3 am to catch a train. After this ordeal slept like there is no morning. Almost missed my destination station back.
  • Saw a 3 foot lizard in the middle of nowhere and got scared as I was alone and had nowhere else to go but to look and wait.

I guess there are numerous other events like those which I experienced when I traveled for work.

These experiences seem never ending and I look forward to more of it. Most important I love being in sales.

I think I love my job for the time being as change is constant.

Weekend Gateway Puri

It was a long time since we had a family trip. I was busy in my job, trying to satisfy my bosses. I had no time to think about anything. My day goes with Just official work (Day n Night) which is normally followed by family time which I spent with my little angel. By night we used to get so tired that we don’t even talk to each other properly and try to sleep as early as possible to face the next day

So this routine was going on and on and there was no escape but

Suddenly an offer came from my colleagues to visit a place in the eastern part of India which is known as Puri. It’s a small tourist place in Odisha, India but its certainly not advisable to people to visit in summers. It’s very humid and its high temperature makes it more difficult to discover the place. Although a very beautiful shorelines which can be awesome when you visit from Oct to March.

We started at evening on Thursday night somehow. Courtesy our Indian Railways our train got late and we reached our destination five hours late. Missed chance to see Konark temple as my colleagues started long before we reached Puri. We reached took brunch and rested after which we just visited Jagannath temple.

Jagannath Temple

JagannathTemple is one of the most renowned as well as the biggest temples of Orissa. Established in the 12th century, the temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna), Lord of the Universe. The credit for laying the foundation of the Jagannath temple of Puri goes to Raja Ananta Varman Chodaganga Dev.

There is an interesting legend associated with the Jagannatha temple of Puri. It is said that King Indradyumna, the ruler of the territory, saw Lord Jagannath in his dreams and following the Lord’s wishes, as told to him in his dreams, he got the JagannathPuriTemple constructed. The pillars that provide support to the temple are adorned with pictures depicting the life of Lord Krishna.

It was chaos in temple and it seemed everybody just wants money in the name of god which I despise most.

Anyway it was a beautiful feeling to meet the almighty in his one unique and beautiful form. It was peaceful and at the end of all the chaos it was worth visiting.

We left for beach and we were in for surprise. There we so many things to do. There were eateries, children games, camel ride, shopping for almost everything ranging from diamonds and pearls to balloons and pins at much cheaper cost than original.

We enjoyed sea in one of the most ferocious form and loved it. My two year old son experiencing sea for the first time and he was terrified by the sound and sight of it. He was awestruck and clung to me the whole time.

There was high tide next morning and we played for around two hours with the waves resulted in extreme exhaustion. At the end we were outplayed by the mighty sea and slept like anything after bath and breakfast.

We stayed at night in Puri and left early morning to Chilka Lake for boating and to watch dolphins.

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Chilka Lake is Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon with water spread ranging from 1165 sq km m the rainy season to 906 sq km in the dry season is nestled in the heart of the coastal Odisha (Orissa). Chilika is recognized as one of the most important wetlands in the world because it is home to a phenomenal variety of birds with over 160 species.

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We saw lots of dolphins around our boat. The lake looked like sea and the waves were equally threatening. It seemed the lake is several meters deep until I saw a fisherman standing in the sea. We were amazed. The lake was just 5-6 feet deep in the pics which I took. Can you believe it? I couldn’t until I saw with my eyes.

At the end of trip we thought the timing was wrong as in May its very hot and humid the day and much more cool at night.

One thing which surprisingly came out from this trip was that we had a great time being together and talk about things which we generally don’t talk when in home and around. Hold each other’s hand and walk along without thinking about our daily routine jobs. I feel after a long time we looked in to each other’s eyes and expressed our love for each other. Our little 2 year old was surprisingly in a very good mood and left us in to each other’s company without creating havoc which he generally does. We spent lot of time together and that was the most important thing on this trip.

My advice to people “Please take a break from your routine and go to any place you like. It does not matter where. The most important thing is that you should be together and spend quality time”   100_3131

Weekend Gateway : Mahabalipuram

Sometimes when a travel plan just pops up in your mind and suddenly you find yourself on the road to this destination. Exactly this happened with me recently when I was on a business trip to Chennai (South India) for an exhibition. The exhibition was for five days and got finished on Saturday. We were all tired with my colleagues left early on Saturday to be with their family on Sunday.

I was unlucky as I was directly responsible for the exhibition and found myself working till 11 pm on Saturday with 2 other guys who had similar fate like me.

We reached hotel at around midnight from the trade centre, tired and hungry, but had lot of planning going on our mind as we kept Sunday for some small trip to a nearby beach. We started watching “Don’t Mess with Zohan” with beers in our hand and decided for Mahabalipuram in between. It was a sudden decision to visit Mahabalipuram which is also known as Mamallapuram, a small town in Kancheepuram district in Tamil Nadu state. It is around 60 km south from Chennai. It is an ancient historic town with lots of beautiful spots.

We started our travel in a rented taxi from Chennai early morning and it took only 45 minutes to reach the historic town of Mahabalipuram as the roads are pretty good. There was a bike racing going on which we realized when a fancy bikes zoop passed us in a flash. The 7th century port city is famous for its rock-cut shore temples. A lighthouse built on a hill from which you can see complete city over a group of temples below.

There are nine monolithic temples found in Mahabalipuram, the most important are Five Rathas known after the famous five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata. These monuments are carved out a single rock and are huge. You can watch them with unbelievable look in to your eyes. Just see yourself in the below pics.

If you are looking for a place for a weekend fun and adventure along with some historical sights-seeing than this place is ideal for you. We were more than happy to be in this place as it was a great relief after a week of hard-work. With beer in our hands at the beachside we were feeling relaxed and peaceful. This prepared us for the tough week that was coming ahead and we were ready to fight again.

Mahabalipuram also has some great cafes that serve good sea food. A backpacker’s delight you can find economical accommodations with plenty of activities to do specially surfing in this part of India.

Khajuraho : Visual Wonder

We had planned for the trip way back which is usually not my style but definitely a place of interest for me since not so long ago. I use to hear stories from people that Khajuraho is famous for sculptures that depict various sexual positions. There are lots of them. The whole temple is full of them and what not. It’s more or less related to Kamasutra (Ancient Hindu text which is considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior).

I had heard about Kamasutra and its various techniques and positions, mostly unusual and impossible to attempt but are still famous. I wonder how many people do it exactly the way it is mentioned in the books.

Anyway I am not talking about sexual positions here as I am not an expert on this but certainly the visit to Khajuraho has made me clear that it’s not only about the above mentioned things. It’s about something different, which I realized when I was there few days ago. It’s about love, life, passion and religion.

Let me brief about the place first,

Khajuraho is a small village situated along a lake in Madhya Pradesh (heart of central India). Its spread over an area of 21 sq kms and is the most frequently visited monument after “Taj Mahal” in India. Its well known for Indo-Aryan architecture. The temples were built between the 9th and 11th centuries by the warrior kings of Chandela Dynasty. It is believed that only 25 temples still remains and can be seen out of 85 ones in this place.

By the 16th century, Khajuraho was almost lost in the history and have lost importance, turning out to be a place which is not visible in the map. Not until 1838 when Captain T.S. Burt rediscovered the temples. He was traveling on an official duty and made a slight change in his itinerary to visit the place based on the inputs from a local who was with him. He later recorded that he has spotted the finest number of temples situated in one place and all are within a small distance to each other.

The sculptures and carvings of the temples depict humans, human bodies, and the changes that occur in bodies, as well as facts of life. Approx 10% of the sculptures contain sexual themes. These are sexual activities between people.

Though the erotic sculptures are of Khajuraho are the main attraction to a visitor at the same time these sculptures has given Khajuraho too much publicity and popularity and hence the place has gained a big place in the world map.

I enquired about the erotic sculptures and got few answers which are really interesting.

1)       Gods are responsible for natural calamities and if at all gods come to this place they will go back immediately after looking at these erotic sculptures. They wont be able to tolerate these nuisance.

2)      These erotic sculptures are put in for those people who are not sincere guys. If you are a sincere guy these erotic sculptures won’t affect you. If you are not sincere than you will be lost in these sculptures and will have to come back again with much sincerity which will not affect you to these sculptures.

According to some books, these erotic sculptures came in to existence when Buddhist devotees were required to pass this interesting test to reach the stage of spiritualism. They were put in front of these kind of erotic sculptures to test their ability to resist themselves and come out without any kind of physical emotion.

There are 3 groups of temples — Western, Eastern, and Southern. The main temples are in the Western group, which features the magnificent Mahadeo Temple. The Eastern Group contains a number of exquisitely sculptured Jain temples. There are only two temples in the Southern group.

We started our journey from my base location “Bilaspur” for a place called Maihar. It’s a religious place for Hindu’s. We reached there in the morning and left the place by afternoon for Khajuraho which was 164 kms from our location. There was a beautiful forest range in between which we crossed at night, the place was scary as the forest was dense and the valley was full of sharp and steep turns. Spotted few deer and some more animals in between, which made our journey more interesting and our enthusiasm went straight upwards. Thankfully the roads were good and we reached around 7 pm. After crossing lots of small villages I thought Khajuraho is also a small village (a village with a population of 8000 people) and has only few temples to offer and I really mean it as I was not expecting much. I had seen lots and lots of temples recently and was not really looking forward for another bunch of temples.

We reached and attended the light and sound show which is held at the temple premises at night. It was a cold, dark and windy night but enjoyed the lights focusing on the temples based on the ruler’s timelines which I didn’t keen to learn but the ambience was nice and worth watching.

Went straight to bed but before that stalked by the agents of different hotels and guides.  It’s always advisable to use audio guides which are available at the ticket counter in Khajuraho.

Next Morning we woke up to a cold December morning and straight away went to the temples arena after getting ready. When I entered the place I was awestruck and looked all around and found myself as if I am in heavenly place. There were beautiful, huge and architectural brilliant piece of monuments.

We went on from one temple to another and were lost for few hours in the sculptures and carvings as well the architecture of temples. Everything was so very perfect and we loved the place as it’s well maintained and has everything tourists require.

Khajuraho Festivals

 

A week long classical dance festival is held in Khajuraho temple complex each year in February and March. There are performers and dance groups from all over India putting up a show on various classical styles of Indian dance, such as Kathak, Bharat Natyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Manipuri and Kathakali. A large arts and crafts fair is also held during the festival. There is a light and sound show every day in English and Hindi which is worth watching.

How to Reach Khajuraho

 

By Bus

Khajuraho from Jhansi are connected by buses but do confirm timings and also verify bus conditions. The local buses are crowded and take about 5-6 hrs to reach Khajuraho. One can also rent a car from Jhansi or Satna, which will roughly cost you up to Rs. 2000/- one way. A bus ticket costs approximately Rs. 100/- one way.

By Train

Jhansi (175 km) is well connected to Delhi by Bhopal Shatabdi . Khajuraho has recently got a new railway station and one can take a direct train to Khajuraho from Delhi’s Nizamuddin Railway Station that runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday known as Sampark Kranti Express.

By Air

Khajuraho has its own airport and Air India and Jet Airways operates flight from Delhi directly or via Varanasi.

12-12-12 : Bhoramdev Adventure

The day was special and I was lying on my bed reading newspapers at 9 am. There were so many things in the paper about the special day and how people gonna celebrate the day. It was indeed last digits visible on the calendar in all our living souls’ lifetime. I was wondering what I should do today to make our day special. My mind ran in to various things like watching a movie, going out for a lunch or dinner, shopping e.t.c. Finally made up my mind at going out on a short trip. The place was finalized “Bhoram Dev”.  The place is located 135 kms from my location Bilaspur.

I thought it was a piece of cake, good place, going out with family and a good picnic on a very special day but I was not aware of the surprises which were waiting for us. Yup lots of them and the day turned out quite an adventurous one for all of us.

Let me start with a brief about the place first.

The place is known as Bhoramdev. It’s a very old temple of Lord Shiva. It situated 135 kms from Raipur (Capital of Chattisgarh). Situated in the Maikal mountain range amidst the dense forest in Chattisgarh. The temple was built in the 11th century A.D. by King Devrai. The Bhoramdeo temple has a resemblance with the Sun temple of Konark and The Khajuraho temple and that is why it is also called the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh.

The erogenous idols of this temple are also extremely beautiful. On the outer walls there are as many as 54 erotic sculptures in different poses. These asanas from the “Kam sutra”, are truly an epitome of eternal love and beauty. They are artistically significant too. The Nagwanshi  Kings were believed to be  the practitioners of ‘Trantra’ as their contemporaries in Khajuraho.

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I finished up an official telecon of an hour and got ready immediately. It was already 11 am. We all had quick bite and quickly left for the location of our choice “Bhoram Dev”. It was a nice start with a fabulous weather and lush green countryside surroundings on either side of the road.  We crossed lots of villages on our way discussing about my parent’s childhood memories, our son and lot many other things. It was after about 120 kms, I asked somebody for the route. He explained me 2 routes, one shortcut and one long one. I went forward and saw the sign boards put up by the government of Chattisgarh after which I never turned back and also ignored the short and long routes explained to me by the person few minutes back. We started enjoying the route as it was a hilly terrain with lush green dense forest on either side of the road.

After about 15 km the sign boards were still there but the target location was unknown and no sign of people in the area. There was nobody who could tell us where to go. Suddenly we came across 2 guys in bike who told us that we are in the wrong route. The route where you are heading is still not ready and is closed. It was around 3:30 pm and was beginning to get dark in the forest, although its always dark in these forests. We thought why go back 30 km, lets try out that closed route. May be its ready and we can go as there was a chance. We headed for the route and came across 2 guys again on bike coming towards us from that route. They confirmed the route is okay enough for the car to pass. We entered in to that road, a hilly road, had sharp turns and one of the most narrow one I have ever come across in my life, which can carry one 4 wheeler at a time.

It was a 12 km stretch. We went on. It was really a dense forest with no one on the road for around 5 kms. After 5 kms we located some people working on the road and my breathing went a bit slow after beating so fast for the last 5 kms.

We asked again and got a positive reply that road is ok for us to pass but it has sharp turns and has lots of steep ups and downs. Went on but had a peace of mind on the road and also the distance. After crossing beautiful scenes consisting of hills, forests and ponds we reached our destination. It was cold outside but beautiful setting. One side had a large pond with a hilly background, middle a temple and one side, a beautiful park.

It was around 4:30 pm and we quickly went on to see the temple and garden. It was a beautiful temple with lots of beautiful sculptures. The ambience was so peaceful that we forgot our long and adventurous journey.

It was already 6 pm by the time we left the place after our temple visit and late lunch. It was dark already. We took a different route now and were confident of hassle free travel but due to some villagers advice we took a short cut and we were in a pathetic village road with lots of bumps and potholes. There was no road visible, I looked at the speedometer and it was at 30 km/hr sometimes 20 km/hr. This was a 15 km road with nobody was visible on the way. There were paddy fields around. In-between we came across some villagers for confirmation on route. Some people won’t believe we crossed the 15 km stretch in 45 minutes. It was almost 7 pm and it was dark with empty streets but only thing which was comforting was that we were on highway and it will take us to our base location. My 2 year kid was bored like hell and was getting irritated, my wife was angry at me for making a plan like this but thankfully my parents were with me and backing me up.

We were cruising at a speed of 90 to 100 km/hr and accidentally I took a wrong turn and went on to “Lormi” instead of “Mungeli” and went on to travel 27 kms.Mungeli route is under highway and lorni is like a village road.

The map will clear this as below,

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After these 27 km distance I realized the road is not familiar and asked for directions in a shop which was getting closed. There were five guys and I guess all were pretty heavily drunk and were giving me ridiculous directions and distances. One guy came and told me bluntly “ Sir don’t fall in to bullshit of these people and go straight you will reach your base location and gave me the names of towns which will come in between but told me that the route is bad to worse for around 20 kms and is getting repaired. With a heavy heart I came back and discussed with all the shareholders of my family. We decided we will not go back and went on trying our luck, hoping for an adventure. It was 8:30 pm and in villages here in India you will not find a single person on the streets. It was all dark and empty with few loaded trucks in between on a single 10 feet road. I went on trying to cover the distance as quickly as possible but due to road conditions and our ignorance of route made us to travel catiously. Finally we reached a place and my dad quickly recognized the same as he had worked on that area in the beginning of his career. We were pleased to hear that and traveled now with much more confidence. Reached Kota, a place I also recognize and felt like we are home finally. It was 9 pm at night and now it was all lightened up and filled with people all over the places. After traveling few more kms the problem with traffic came and once in my life I felt good to stuck in traffic and thanked to god. Finally we reached our destination at 10 pm. It was indeed a special day as we wanted it to be but turned out to be more than special for all of us.

By Air :– Raipur(134 kms) is the nearest airport connected with Delhi, Mumbai , Magpur, Bhuneshwar, Kolkata , Ranchi , Viskhapatnam and Chennai.

By Rail :- Raipur is the nearest Railway station on the Bombay-Howarah main line.

By Road:- Taxis are available from Kawardha(18 Kms). Regular Buses ply from Raipur(116 Kms.), Rajnandgaon(133 Kms.) and Jabalpur(220 Kms.) to Kawardha.

It happens only in India

howrah bridge

howrah

It was after Diwali (Festival in India), I left my hometown for my work place Kolkata, India. It’s a 12 hour journey and it was a usual one for me as before this I had traveled almost 10-12 times in the same route. I was in my comfort zone, settled after dinner, listening to music and relaxing.

In between the songs, I heard people chatting that there might be a “Bandh” in Kolkata.  Let me tell you what “Bandh” is all about in India, especially at this part of the country, Kolkata.

Bandh, originally a Hindi word meaning “closed”, is a form of protest used by political activists in South Asian countries such as India and Nepal. During a bandh, a political party or a community declares a general strike. A bharat bandh is a call for a bandh across the whole of India, and a bandh can also be called for an individual state or municipality.

Often, the community or political party declaring a bandh expects the general public to stay in at home and not report to work. Most affected are shopkeepers who are expected to keep their shops closed, as well as public transport operators of buses and cabs who are expected to stay off the road and not carry passengers. There have been instances when large metro cities have been brought to a standstill.

A bandh is a powerful means of civil disobedience. Because of the huge impact of a bandh on the local community, it is a much-feared tool of protest.

So I heard it right and after talking to my colleagues in Kolkata, It was confirmed. News came as a hammer in my head as I knew what “Bandh” means in Kolkata. Anyway I thought we will see what happens and slept in my cozy bed after ten IST. I woke up at around 6 am IST and found the AC coach of the train was relatively warm than usual. People seemed restless and worrisome, kids were crying and women cursing somebody.

It was a morning to remember and I still do after five years passed today. I came out of my bed and also from the coach and learnt that train has been stopped by the political activists for the next two days. I said to myself WTF 2 days?? Initially I didn’t believe how it can happen and that too with me. It was a nightmare come true, moreover I was left with just 300 to 400 INR which is nothing in this country (courtesy our ticket inspector who took most of my money for the seat as I didn’t had a confirmed reservation). I was young, probably smart, advised myself forget everything and cool down. Think of the options you have and try on it. Had a smoke with the likeminded ones and immediately I could saw a spark of friendship growing with 3 other guys and ideas of survival coming out. There is a great saying that “Cigarette makes good and quick friends besides its harmful for health”.  I am good with people and this helped me as they were not only helping me emotionally but financially as well. It was a small village around 100 kms before Kolkata. I tried for a cab but nobody came from the city due to bandh. Believe me taking out your car in a band means suicide. People will throw stones at you and somewhere they can even burn it.

It was 8 hours already after the halt of that train. People were leaving for a nearby resort for a room. The resort guy was a good businessman and immediately doubled rates after seeing people pouring in; room rates went out of our reach. I was down and out of nowhere my college senior came in front of me. It was luck and it made my day as after that there was no shortage of cigarettes, food and humor. We started to like it as some kind of holiday for few hours but soon exhaustion came in. We took our bags and headed for that resort for beer and some rest as now it was under our reach, thanks to the teamwork. It was a half hour walk but may be after 25 minutes we heard people shouting of lifting Bandh for the night. Immediately we started running towards our train and boarded the same excited and in anticipation of reaching home soon now. After an hour the train started moving and people cheered with claps and loud chanting.

So finally we reached Kolkata in two more excruciating hours after being halted for more than 16 hours in a small village. Those 16 hours taught me lots of things, made me few more friends, gave me courage, filled up lot of happiness and above all gave me “adventure”.

I along with one of my train friend came out of train as we had to go to one direction. We started to look for a cab but couldn’t find one.  Tried with lots of cabbies but no one was ready to go to our location as it was a sensitive place. After about fifteen minutes of walk we located a taxi and paid 3 times the regular amount for a ride near our location. Somehow after leaving that taxi and walking for an hour I reached my home.

My room-mates asked what happened you look tired. I didn’t had any answer and smiled, said yes dear I am tired, need my bed and went for hibernation for the next 2 days.

I still don’t understand why people call bandh? It serves no purpose except putting common man in to series of problems. These political parties for their own selfishness do all these bullshit things and harass people.

I would say this can happen only at India but I still love my country.

Taj Mahal, Agra

We started our journey from Delhi in a local train which was overflowing with all kinds of people live in India. Luckily my wife got a seat and sometime later I had the opportunity to share the seat with 4 other people in a seating capacity of three. It was already 11 am when we left Delhi. I never knew that a local train would take 4 hours to cover a distance of 200 kms . It stopped at all small towns and villages with a signification change in our compartment at every station with different kind of people with varied cultures. We were getting nervous as it was a special day for me and my wife and we wanted to be in Taj Mahal before the end of the day. The time of gate closing for Taj was 5 pm. We reached Agra around 3 pm. By the time we checked in at the hotel it was already quarter to four. Got ready as soon as possible and left for Taj Mahal in an Auto Rickshaw which was scaringly fast. We reached at the gate at quarter to five and saw there was a long line of foreign and local tourist. We were unsure of getting the entry but we got it at 5 pm. It was a indeed a miracle and we were in, we were brimming with abundant energy and happiness.

It was finally time to see Taj Mahal with my beloved wife on a special day, our 1st wedding anniversary. It was a dream for both of us since we started dating each other to be at Taj Mahal on our 1st anniversary.

It was a day of celebration and 90 % of our time we did was travel. Finally we entered from the main gate and we were just awwed with the grandness of the monument.

Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal king Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal on the bank of river Yamuna on the other side of Great Red Fort of Agra.

She died after giving birth to their 14th child while accompanying her husband in Burhanpur in a campaign to crush rebels. The Emperor was so shocked by the death of his beloved wife that all his hair and beard were said to have grown white in few months that followed.

Mumtaj wanted Shah Jahan to fulfill her four wishes

  • To build a monument that stands out of the world.
  • To marry again.
  • To be kind to their children
  • To visit the tomb on her death anniversary.

Shah Jahan completed the first and second promises. Taj Mahal Construction began in 1631 and completed in 22 years. Twenty thousand people were put for work on Taj mahal. The material was brought in from all over India and central Asia and it took a fleet of 1000 elephants to transport it to the agra site. It was designed by the Iranian architect Ustad Isa and there is a myth that his right hand was chopped off after the construction. Shah Jahan was later kept captive by his son in Red fort from where Taj Mahal was visible.

Well history had its positives and negatives but we definitely had a great time sitting at the premises of Taj Mahal and watching the beauty and grandness of Taj. It’s a great place to feel love as love is in the air. Spent nearly 2 hours there and fell in love all over again. We ended the day with a quiet dinner at one of the city diners. It was an awesome experience which we have not forgotten till today and longing for a visit again soon.

There are 2 more major attractions in Agra i.e. Minitaj and Red Fort which should be a must in the literary for everybody who visits Agra.

Red Fort Agra
Mini Taj


Bastar, Chattisgarh, India

If you are looking for a place where you can find lush green dense forests, beautiful mountains and valleys, lively rivers, waterfalls, natural caves, diverse wildlife along with the blend of colorful cultures, Bastar is a perfect place for you.

There is more in Bastar other than picturesque scenes i.e. fascinating culture, ancient architectural monuments (including beautiful temples) and lots of solitude.

Tribe

Bastar is mainly a mix of Gonds, Murias and Marias tribes. Each tribe has its own distinct dress, culture and way of life and they can easily be differentiated by their specific costumes, jewellery, headdresses, baskets and tools. The main tribes in Bastar are Gond, Abhujmaria, Bison-horn Maria, Muria, Halbaa, Bhatra, Parja and Dhurvaa.

Gonds are world famous for their ‘Ghotul’ system of marriages. In this system, the unmarried young boys and girls live together in separately made huts and allowed to mingle and practice everything they desire. During this period they interact and enjoy themselves by participating in dancing, music, local story telling and much more in a drunken mood. If everything goes well and they are happy after this, they can get out of the Ghotul (Hut) and marry.

Divorces, remarriages, widow marriages, marriages with the wives of the brothers and between brothers and sisters are common. One of the unique characteristics of the Gonds marriages is that the groom has to pay bridal price to the father of the girl which is opposite to the Hindu culture practiced all over India.

Our Journey

We started our Journey from Raipur in a tempo traveler which is a luxury small 12 seater bus (operated by CG tourism). The 300 kms road from Raipur to Bastar is mostly good. You will get lots of small town in between where you will find everything which you need in the midst of a travel. Lots of good small restaurants are there in Dhamtari, Charama and Kanker.  There is dense forest and mountainous roads in this ride. Just make sure that you have black polythene with you for emergencies.

Once you reach the place called Chitrakote Waterfalls you will forget your 300 kms long journey. It’s an awesome waterfall and if you are staying in the Chattisgarh tourism guest houses located in the nose of the waterfall, than you are in for a great time. It can be called as the little Niagra falls. It’s a beautiful fall. In summers when the water is little less than you can hire a small boat for 8 to 10 people with 500 to 800 INR and go near the fall. Its an amazing experience and one must try as this was the best experience for us in Bastar.

Located 50 Km from Jagdalpur is the crescent moon shaped Chitrakoot waterfalls. River Indravati plummets down from the Vindhya mountain ranges and forms these waterfalls.

Chitrakot in Summer !!
Chitrakot in Rains !!

 

The Chattisgarh tourism guest house is good with all amenities like AC, Nice Bed, and clean bathrooms. The only problem is service. If you are in honeymoon it’s a wonderful thing as you will be alone and nobody will disturb you. If you are hungry, you have to go to the restaurant, which is 500 meters away from the rooms. People can bring all sort of things as well on call but it takes minimum 15-20 minutes. The simple food is nice and you can ask the cook to prepare vegetables according to your choices.

Major other Destinations

Kanger Valley National Park: Kanger Valley was declared a National Park in 1982 by GOI. It has breathtaking wild and abundant flora and fauna. 27 Km from Jagdalpur its one of the most beautiful and picturesque national parks of India. Spread over an area of approximately 200 km2 consisting mainly of hilly terrain, the Park derives its name from the Kanger River.
Wildlife here includes panther, tiger, bear, snakes and many species of deer’s.

Kanger National Park
Kanger National Park

Indravati National Park: This park derives its name from Indravati river which flows through it. Located in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. With a total area of approximately 2799.08 km2, Indravati attained the status of a National Park in 1981 and a Tiger Reserve in 1983 under the famous Project Tiger of India, to become one of the most famous tiger reserves of India.

Indravati National Park

Tirathgarh Waterfalls: Tirathgarh, 32 Km from Jagdalpur is famous for this waterfall that drops into Mugabahar river.  You need to decent down by a lot of steps. Keep sufficient water.  On getting down the steps you will have glimpse of 50 meter fall where water looks white as the fall has lots of steps from which water flows down,

Teerathgarh Falls

Kutumsar Cave: This underground cave is 330 metres in length and is known to be the second longest natural cave in the world. It is about 32 Km from Jagdalpur and was discovered in the year 1900. There are stairs at the entrance which is very narrow and it’s not advisable for old age people and kids as there is less oxygen inside the cave. Once inside, you can see stalactite formations. The cave has many connecting compartments most of them still unexplored.

Kutumsar Caves

 

Kailash Cave: 40 metres above the ground level and 200 metres in length, this cave derives its name from the natural carving of the idol of Lord Shiva. It is located on a small hill in the Kanger Valley National Park. It was discovered in 1993 and the salt deposits here, called the music point, sound musical when tapped with a stone. Presently solar energy is used to light this cave. The Stalagmite and Stalactite formations inside the cave are beautiful.

Dandak Cave: This underground cave was discovered in 1995. It is 200 metres in length and divided into two compartments. To go from the first compartment to the second, you need to go on your knees. White stalactite formations here look resplendent. Solar lamps are used to light the cave.

The whole area of Bastar has many smaller caves such as Kanger, Karpan and Devgiri among others. All the caves are a geologist delight as their rocks are said to be millions of years old.

Other than this Bastar has a lot of destinations which includes Danteshwari Temple, Bastar Palace, Anthropological Museum, Barsoor (famous for its temples dating from the 10th and 11th centuries), Keshkal, Garhganora, Narayanpal, Bhongpal, Samlur, Chingitarai, Bade Dongar, Dantewada,   and Narayanpur.

There are no problems faced by tourists from Naxalites. You will not feel there presence at all and can easily travel the place without any concern. Just an advice, try to return your staying place before sunset. At Night the place can be a little scary. There is no night life as the place is a small place but you can have a great time with your near and dear ones without any outside disturbances,

Location

Chattisgarh Map

Located in the southern parts of the state of Chhattisgarh, Bastar is surrounded by the district of Dantewra in the south and Kanker in the North. It shares its borders with the states of Maharashtra in the west and Orissa in the east. Placed around 300 kms from the state capital of Raipur.

How to Get There ??

Jagdalpur is in Chattisgarh state and is 300 Km from Raipur and 313 Km north-west of Vishakhapatnam. The nearest airports and railheads are Raipur and Vishakhapatnam. Hyderabad is 565 Km from Jagdalpur. The best time to visit is between the months of November to June. During the monsoons the caves are closed for visitors as water fills in them.

It’s always advisable to take a cab from Raipur or Vishakhapatnam directly or book in to Chattisgarh tourism package. They will take care of everything.  So just sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful yet mysterious place called Bastar in Chattisgarh.

Malhar,Chattisgarh

Malhar is a small town situated in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh, India. It is famous for its archeological importance. It is situated at 40 km by road from Bilaspur.

In Malhar, many ancient temples have been found, such as Pataleshwar temple, Devri temple & Dindeshwari temple. The ancient deposits and Jain religion memorials are also found here. The four handed idol of Vishnu is also very famous. At this place, remains were found of the period from appx. 1000 BC to Kalchuri regime. The temples of 10th and 11th centuries are seen here. Among those Pataleswar Kedar temple is one of them where Gomukhi Shiv ling is the main point of attraction. The Didneswari temple of Kalchuri regime is also found. Artisitc idols are found in Deor temple. At this place, there is a museum having good collection of old sculpture being managed by the Government of India.

The original name is Mallalpattan. According to the remains and the pramaans, the Malhar was established around 3rd century BC. In that time the place was under somvanshi rulers. 7th to 10th century was dominated by Buddist. In between 10th to 13 th century Lord Shiv temples were built mainly in Malhar.

How to Reach – Malhar is about 27 km from Bilaspur on the Bilaspur-Raipur road. 11 km from Bilaspur is the village Masturi, from where you need to take a right turn for Malhar which is about 16 km far. The road from Masturi to Malhar was very bad, when I visited this place in Oct 2012. Public transport is available from Bilaspur however frequency is not very good.  Bilaspur is the nearest railway station and Raipur is the nearest airport.

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