Category Archives: Sight seeing

Mesmerising & Unexplored Arunachal Pradesh!

Since the time I have attended  Arré Outdoors  travel bloggers meet for showcasing & promoting tourism in Arunachal Pradesh, I can’t stop thinking about the place – the North East India’s jewel. It has been tickling in my mind what Arunachal Pradesh would be like. Though I had watched its splendour in the movie “Rangoon” which was actually shot in Arunachal Pradesh and was the only shining star of the otherwise unbearable movie. Taking a cue from there, my search began for Arunachal Pradesh and here are few interesting details for you to include AP on your wish list to travel.

Arunachal finds mention in the literature of Kalika Purana and Mahabharata. This place is supposed to be the Prabhu Mountains of the Puranas. It was here that sage Parashuram washed away his sin, sage Vyasa meditated, King Bhishmaka founded his kingdom and Lord Krishna married his consort Rukmini.

The widely scattered archeological remains at different places in Arunachal bears testimony to its rich cultural heritage. Arunachal Pradesh, a serene land tucked into the North Eastern tip of India, invites you to relax in its picturesque hills and valleys, enjoy its Salubrious climate and meet its simple and hospitable people, with their glorious heritage of arts and crafts and colourful festivals that reflect their ancient faith in the inexorable power of nature.

The visitor has a wide variety of options to pick from. There are places of worship and pilgrimage such as Parasuramkund and 400 years Old Tawang Monastery or the sites of archeological excavations like Malinithan and Itanagar, the serene beauty of lakes such as Ganga Lake or Sela lake or the numerous variations of the scenic beauty of the snowclad silver mountain peaks and lush green meadows where thousands of species of flora and fauna prosper. In addition, the state provides abundant scope for angling, boating, rafting, trekking, and hiking. Besides, there are a number of wild life sanctuaries and national parks where rare animals, birds, and plants will fascinate the visitor.

Nature has provided the people with a deep sense of beauty which finds delightful expression in their songs, dances, and crafts. The climate varies from hot and humid to heavy rainfall in the Shivalik range. It becomes progressively cold as one moves northwards to higher altitudes. Trees of great size, plentiful climbers, and abundance of cane and bamboo make Arunachal evergreen.

Arunachal Pradesh is considered to be the nature’s treasure trove and home to orchids, known for their exquisitely beautiful blooms, from one of the dominant taxa with more than six hundred species, occurring in varying elevations and climatic conditions throughout the state.

The area of the district is approximately 2085 sq. km. bordered by Tibet in the North, Bhutan in the Southwest and Sela ranges separate West Kameng district in the East.

The name TAWANG derives from some bearings on surroundings. But people’s interpretation is that the name TAWANG was given by Mera Lama in the 17th century. One can reach Tawang from other parts of the country via Guwahati and Tezpur in Assam. From Guwahati (Assam) or Tezpur (Assam), one has to go to Bhalukpong in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh and from there via Bomdila and Sela Pass one can go to Tawang by road.

The inhabitants of the districts are all of Monpa tribes except Shyo village which is dominated by people of Tibetan origin. The Monpas belong to Mongoloid stock. They are well built, fair in complexion. Their houses are built with stones and timbers. Agriculture and Animal Husbandry is the fundamental means of the Monpas occupation.

Tawang Monastery is one of the most important elements in the Social and Religious life of the Monpas. This Monastery is known as “GOLDEN NAMGYEL LHATSE”. It is one of the largest Lamaseries of Mahayana sects in Asia. Lam series comprise of several sections ranging near about four hundred years, devoted to Love, Learning, and Purity of life.

This fortified complex covers an area of 135 sqm. meters enclosed by a compound wall of 610 meters long. Within the complex, there are 65 residential buildings and 10 other structures. The library has valuable old scriptures mainly Kanjur and Tanjur numbering 850 bundles.  It is dated back to 17th century A.D. There are two major religious festivals of the Monpas viz “LOSAR” and “TORGYA”. Both festivals are celebrated once annually. The LOSAR s celebrated to the commencement of New Year. Every third year of Torgya, the festival of Dungyur is celebrated. Both “Dungyur and Torgya” festivals are celebrated at the premises of the Tawang Monastery with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm.

There are beautiful lakes around Tawang. One is Pankang Teng Tso (P.T. Tso ) lake. It is a fetching heaven for tourist only 17 KM away from maddening crowd of the township. It is a beautiful natural site and provides tourist a lucky chance for deep communion with nature. Other eye-catching lakes are Sangetser lake, Banggachang lake.

When to visit: During the period, April to October.

How to reach: By bus from Tezpur (Assam) or Bomdila

Where to stay: Circuit House, Inspection Bungalow, Hotel Niche, Hotel Shangrila.

Clothing: Warm clothing throughout the year

Nearest Airport: Tezpur(Assam).

Nearest Bus stand: Bomdila.

Nearest Railway Stn: Rangapara (Assam).

Info courtesy: Arunachal Pradesh Tourism

Serene, green, enlightening Sarnath – famed Buddhist Destination

Readers you would recollect that my earlier post was on famous Buddhist Destination Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh, India where I had recollected my childhood memories of visit to Sanchi. Giving continuity to that, today I want to recollect my visit to Sarnath few years ago on a trip to Varanasi.

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While in Varanasi, I thought of visiting my cousin there and he insisted that we visit Sarnath which is around 10 Kms away from Varanasi. Reluctantly I and my mom agreed as I was already tired of visiting religious places of Varanasi. But it was to happen and it happened, but what a surprise it held for us. When we reached Sarnath, some excavacation was going on there which was very similar to the one I had read about in my History books.

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My cousin who was well versed with the place told me that it is a highly revered Buddhist pilgrimage centre. It is believed that after getting enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, Lord Buddha preached his first sermon, sanctified as Maha Dharm Chakra Parivartan, at Sarnath. They are digging the site to bring out more details about Gautam Buddha. It was the sprawling site with lush green facade and a stupa in the centre. “After his enlightenment in Bodhgaya, the Buddha went to Sarnath seeking his five former companions. He found them, taught them what he had learned, and they also became enlightened. This event is referred to as “the turning of the wheel of the Dharma” and also marks the founding of the Sangha, or the community of monks,” my cousin shared with us. I got more interested and came to know about it more through various books which I bought from Varanasi on Buddhism and Sarnath.

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The highlights of Sarnath are:

  • The great Dhamekh Stupa and several other structures stand testimony to the importance the place enjoyed at that time
  • The Chaukhandi Stupa is the place where, during his first visit to Sarnath, Lord Buddha met his first five disciples
  • The area is a treasure trove of archaeological findings such as Dharmrajika Stupa and Mulgandhkuti Vihar
  • The smooth glistening pillar established by Emperor Ashoka in 273-232 B.C. marks the foundation of the Buddhist Sangha, and the Lion Capital atop this pillar is now India’s National Emblem

Sarnath, located just 12 km from the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, is the site of the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. Sarnath is one of four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by the Buddha himself for pilgrimage. The other three sites are: Lumbini (birth); Bodh Gaya (enlightenment); and Kushinagar (death).

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Sarnath has previously been known as Mrigadava, “deer park,” and Isipatana, meaning the place where holy men (Pali: isi) fell to earth. The latter name is based in the legend that when the Buddha was born, devas came down to announce it to 500 holy men. The holy men all rose into the air and disappeared and their relics fell to the ground.

The current name Sarnath, from Saranganath, means “Lord of the Deer” and relates to another old Buddhist story in which the Bodhisattva is a deer and offers his life to a king instead of the doe he is planning to kill. The king is so moved that he creates the park as a sanctuary for deer.

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What to See at Sarnath

All of the ancient buildings and structures at Sarnath were damaged or destroyed by the Turks. However, amongst the ruins the Dharmekh Stupa is impressive at 128 feet high, and 93 in diameter. This dates from around 200 BC and is the spot where the Buddha is said to have preached his first sermon.

Only the foundations remain of the Dharmarajika Stupa, but it is notable as a rare pre-Ashokan stupa.

The decaying ruins of the Mulagandhakuti Vihara mark the place where the Buddha spent his first rainy season in meditation. In the 7th century, a writer described it as 200 feet high and containing 100 niches containing a Buddha carving along each wall. A life-sized statue shows the Buddha turning the wheel of the law.

To the east is the modern Mulagandhakuti Vihara with its beautiful wall paintings; behind it is the Deer Park, which is maintained as an open animal park and still attracts deer.

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The Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath survived the Turkish invasion but was broken during excavations. The base still stands in its original spot and has some interesting carvings.

The splendid lion capital that topped the pillar, which thankfully survived its 45 foot drop to the ground is on display at the Sarnath Archeological Museum. The museum also houses some of the greatest treasures of Indian Buddhist art, including almost 300 images.

There is also a Bodhi tree planted by Anagarika Dharmapala which was grown from a cutting of the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya. It is located next to a Sri Lankan monastery.

Six national temples have been built by various Asian communities at Sarnath.

Six national temples have been built by various Asian communities at Sarnath since the site’s restoration, including a Tibetan temple and Sri Lankan temple.

Must visit Sarnath, when you plan to visit Sarnath.

Kamal Mathur, Guest Contributor on Janeshwar Mishra Park Lucknow

From the lens & pen of travel enthusiast and media professional, travel-knots presents before you an Exclusive Photo-Essay on Lucknow’s Janeshwar Mishra Park, the biggest in Asia by our Guest Contributor for the month – KAMAL MATHUR from Lucknow.

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Spread over a massive area of 376 acres with water bodies running across it, it is just magnificent. Named after a leading socialist leader,Janeshwar Mishra, (Gomti Nagar Extension,  Lucknow) park is a sprawling beauty and has pride of place on Lucknow’s landscape.  Till now Lucknow has been famous for so many landmarks right from Charbagh Station to Imambaras to Tunde ke Kababs to Chikankaari, to top it all its inimitable Lucknowi tehzeeb! Now it has another landmark in its kitty – the Janeshwar Mishra Park!!

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You cannot miss the sight of the 25 feet high imposing statue of Janeshwar Mishra, the moment you enter from the main gate. The lush green lawns, the Palm trees lined pathways and the magnificent fountains in the ” Khukri” shape lake add grandeur to its beauty. Gondola rides in the lakes is on the cards. Home to various species of birds including migratory ones, the park is rich in flora and fauna.

The park is designed with exclusive and extensive cycle tracks that provide an excellent visual and cycling delight to the visitors. The total length of the proposed cycle track is 5.28 km that is deemed sufficient for the site. Adequate cycling infrastructure i.e. cycles, parking and sit outs along with cycle tracks are being provided. A suitable management system for the use of cycles is there so that visitors can ride the bicycles for a defined duration on individual or group booking basis.

By the name, it sounds that it will be a place for adults or senior citizens who like to spend quality time in the sunset years of their lives. Of course, that has been taken care in ample measures, but park has some great offerings for children too with many exciting slides & swings.

For young adults, park offers the Health Zone with an open air gymnasium, Jogging & Walking Tracks, the Cycling Tracks besides entertainment and recreational facilities.

&&& All this with a Food Court with its yummy offerings.

The highlights are:

  • Two Vijayanta Tanks( of 1971 war fame )
  • MIG-21 fighter aircraft
  • 207 feet high flag mast with 60 feet wide & 90 feet tri-colour on it

Which patriot would not like offer salute here!

Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) has developed this eco-friendly in the heart of the city at Gomti Nagar. It has been conceptualised and designed as a multi-functional environmental and recreational green park which will not just provide sustainable habitat for various species of birds but also double up as a major entertainment and recreation centre for all sections of the society.

The site can be accessed from four different directions and therefore four separate entries in North and South-East direction are located at suitable points. The site is also bound by a 45m Row Bund road on the River side with embankment. The site can always be accessed by private modes such as cars and two wheelers but not many public transport options such as buses are available for the members of the public.

Request UPTourism to promote this awesome tourist destination so that people don’t miss visiting while they are in UP like Taj Mahal!

If you too want to contribute landmarks in your city / country or the place you have visited recently, write to me on: bienumv@gmail.com.

 

Kankaria Lake: Most Paisa Vasool tourist destination in Ahmedabad!

We planned trip to Kankaria Lake, Ahmedabad in a jiffy and what a trip it turned out to be! It is a sprawling lake which is the second biggest lake in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. It is located in the southern part of the city in the Maninagar area. A lake front has been developed around it, which has many public attractions like boat ride, toy ride, zoo, kid’s city, tethered balloon ride, water rides, Water Park, food stalls and other entertainment. The lake front was revamped in 2008. It is also well-known for Kankaria Carnival, a week-long festival held here in the last week of December when many cultural, art and social activities are organised.

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It is the most paisa vasool tourist attraction which has only Rs. 10/- as entry fee and you can enjoy whole day there however other attractions come for a fee but not much. We could not spend much time there as we had to catch up for the dinner at Vishala. So much so, that my niece Rashi and nephew Rishabh were teasing me that I had only gone there to touch the lake. Whatever, I enjoyed very much being there. The lake reminded me of Fateh Sagar Lake which we had visited recently in Udaipur. We took a boat ride, train ride and walk through the promenade. It was lovely breezy evening at Ahmedabad, which we will always remember.

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Kankaria Lake was built by Sultan Qutbuddin in the 15th century. The work was completed in 1451 CE and was known as “Qutb Hauz” or “Hauz-i-Qutb”. It was used for bathing by the kings. It had a water purification system but it has been lost with the time. At one point of the circular lake, there opens a walkway which later merges into a garden called Nagina Wadi (which means beautiful garden in Urdu) that is located in the centre of the lake. With an approximate circumference of 3 miles (4.8 km), it represents the regale history of Ahmedabad. It is a 34-sided polygon having steps which leading down to water level.

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Major attractions snap shot:

Kankaria Zoo

Kamla Nehru Zoological Park was established by Rueben David in 1951 spread over 21 acres. It was rated as the best zoo in Asia in 1974. They are 450 mammals, 2,000 birds, 140 reptiles in a 31-acre zoo. It is a treasure of wild animals like tigers, lions, python, anaconda, snakes, elephant, albinos (white), like the rhesus monkey, spotted deer, white blackbuck, chinkara, elephants, emu, jungle babbler, bush-quail and common palm civet. Kankaria Zoo has also records in breeding of rare species in Zoo like pythons, crocodiles, bearcats and wild asses. Reuben David was awarded Padma Shri in 1974 for it.

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Balvatika

It is a children’s park named after Jawaharlal Nehru. Balvatika has a boat house, playroom, butterfly and weapon displays, mirror house, toy house and planetarium. Presently most part of the park is under renovation. New rides will be introduced soon.

Amusement Park

Netherlands based company installed five rides in the amusement park in 2014. It includes the Boomerang Roller Coaster, the Flipping Arm, the Torching Tower, Disk ‘O’ pendulum and the merry-go-round. It will also have a kids play zone for computer games. The fee is of Rs. 300 which includes food also, this way it’s quite a steal.

Kids City

Kids City is a miniature world designed for kids. It is spread in 4240 sq.metre area having 18 activity centres including banks, fire station, science lab, radio station, police station, court room and prison, dental as well as medical hospital, theatre, BRTS, heritage gallery, town governance, IT centre, News room, ice-cream factory, etc.  AMC had applied for copyrights and patents on the individual games in the premises, the unique point system, Virmo (Virtual Money) and the design of the different venues in games.

Toy Trains

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A train named Atal Express (Named after Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birthday 25 December 2008) was imported from London, the train circles the lake on a 2.3 km track at a speed of 10 km/h. The train has the capacity to carry 150 passengers, including 36 adults. The train is manufactured by Severn Lamb. During the first 11 months of introducing the train, it attracted nearly a million visitors.  After the success of this train, another train was also started which named Swarnim Jayanti Express. All trains on the railway, and hence the railway itself, are 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge.

Balloon Safari

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Ahmedabad Eye is a tethered balloon ride set up near Kankaria Lake after renovation. The tethered balloon complex spread over 3000 square yard, is divided into four sections including a restaurant, tethered balloon, heritage exhibit and an exhibition displaying the making of the Ahmedabad Eye. SKYZ is a balloon themed restaurant located at the Ahmedabad Eye complex. It is managed by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Rainforest theme restaurant is also there.

Stone Mural Park

India‘s biggest Stone Mural Park named Gurjar Gaurav Gatha on the side walls of the circular lake in which sculptors are depicting, in pink sand stone, the history and rise of Gujarat is under construction. It has murals covering 3150 sq feet depicting the history of Ahmedabad right now but when completed, it will measure 6000 feet in length and will be world’s largest mural (30000 sq.metre).

Never mind, all this, something’s should always remain on your itinery to visit the city again!

Still I feel Gujarat Tourism need to aggressively this most paisa vasool complete entertainment destination in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Sabarmati River Front: Our home grown Thames River Front, London, well almost!

I was very keen to visit Sabarmati River Front while in Ahmedabad since the time I had seen it on Television; well all of us had seen PM Narendra Modiji hosting Chinese Preisdent Xi Jinping & his wife at Sabarmati River Front in Ahmedabad. The mini Gujarat created there caught entire nation’s fancy besides the walk in sprawling lawns of the river, wide promenade, and crystal clear waters and to top it all Gujarati dance performers performing all through. Who wouldn’t have loved to be there?

Finally after nearly two years of wait, I could make a trip to Ahmedabad along with my husband Mukund and daughter Tanya. My first concern was visiting Sabarmati River Front. Though it was not that easy, as I insisted our driver and guide rolled into one to take me to the same point where Chinese President was hosted by Modiji. He took us round town and finally we could spot one promenade where we spend time on drizzling evening.

Still I was not satisfied as it was nowhere close to what we had expected or seen on television, sensing that, driver promised me to show that spot next morning and he did. Voila! What a promenade it was on the banks of River Sabarmati?  We spend good amount of time enjoying the breeze and marvelling at outstanding amalgamation of nature and mankind.

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There is huge amount of construction activity going around Sabarmati, in fact in entire Ahmedabad, but London’s Eye on the promenade caught my fancy. May be in my next trip it is all on, so that we could have more fun.  The Sabarmati Riverfront Development has been envisaged as a comprehensive development of approximately 11 kilometres of length on both the banks of the Sabarmati River encompassing all its potentials as primary goals. The project approach is to bring about an overall environmental improvement, social upliftment and sustainable development along the Riverfront.

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In 1997, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) set up a Special Purpose Vehicle – Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) to manage the construction and development of the project.

Sabarmati Riverfront, proposed in 1960s, the construction began in 2005. Since 2012, the waterfront is gradually opened to public as and when facilities are constructed and various facilities are actively under construction. The major objectives of project are environment improvement, social infrastructure and sustainable development.

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The average width of the river channel was 382 metres (1,253 ft) and the narrowest cross-section 330 metres (1,080 ft). It is uniformly narrowed to 263 metres (863 ft) without affecting its flood carrying capacity and the riverbed land is reclaimed on the both east and west banks to construct 11.25 km long riverfront. It can hold 470,000 cu ft/s (13,000 m3/s) without spillage. The total of 202.79 hectares of land is reclaimed. The reclaimed land is used for public as well as private development. More than 85% of the reclaimed land will be used for public infrastructure, recreational parks, sports facilities and gardens while nearly 14% will be used for commercial and residential purpose.

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Sabarmati River has been an integral part in the life of Ahmedabad since the time the city was founded in 1411 along the river banks. Besides being an important source of water, it provided a backdrop to cultural and recreational activities. During the dry seasons, the river bed became a place for farming. With time it also offered place for various informal economic activities, and the river banks were used by informal squatter settlements.

It was truly dream come true for me.

Request Gujarat Tourism to do all out promotions so that it can emerge at most happening tourist spot in India, on the lines of River Thames in London.

Shopped till we dropped at Law Garden Ahmedabad

You are in Ahmedabad, & you are not visiting Law Garden? Not possible!

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Given the avid shoppers that we are (mother –daughter duo), on our first day in Ahmedabad we headed to Law Garden in the evening which is haven for Gujarat Handicrafts mainly from Saurashtra & Kutch.  I was told that there is no activity in the market during the day time, but in the evening when Law Garden closes, the market comes to life.  It was our long cherished wish to shop for handicrafts in Law Garden since the time we had seen it on Television in the serial – Taarak Mehta Ka oolta chashma where entire cast, especially Dayaben with her friends shopped for her Navratri wares.  Believe me, in reality, it was more vibrant than shown on the television.

We shopped for some Ghagras, duppattas, junk jewellery, bespoke neckpieces and home decoration items. We used our limited Gujarati skills to bargain unlimited, though were quite unsuccessful at that. It was not difficult for the sellers to find out our limitation with Gujarati but overall we got some good bargain deals given by the fact that I don’t like to negotiate especially while shopping for handicrafts. I believe we should support Indian Handicrafts by buying at good prices. More on that later…

Law Garden market is unique in certain ways as it sells only handicrafts and that too of very innovative designs at value for money pricing. If you know how to negotiate well, then you can strike some great deals, unfortunately which I could not.

As it is I am great lover of Gujarati Handicrafts, this place looked just apt for me to satiate my yearn for mirror work dupattas, chaniya cholis, bags, batua, mojris, bedcovers, kurtis and wall hangings. So much so, that I want to visit the place again around Navratri to shop at Law Garden in all its glory and splendor.

My daughter Tanya loves bling and she spared not a single shop to pick up something or the other which ranged from oxidized jhumkas to studs to danglers and what to say of kadas and chadas.

After forcefully putting a full-stop to our shopping we headed towards food court adjacent to the market for some mouth watering chaats and ice creams.

Indeed there is no place like Law Garden in Ahmedabad!

Gujarat Tourism need to promote it as most happening shopping destination, it will immensely benefit the artisans and economy of th

e State.

 

Picturesque Munnar in an Exclusive Photo-Essay

My Colleague & Travel buffs Ranjeet Patole and his wife Darshani recently visited Kerala – The God’s own country Kerala (/ˈkɛrələ/), historically known as Keralam,  an Indian state in South India on the Malabar coast. Known world over for its back waters, splendid greenery, exotic beaches and to top it all highest literacy ratio, was preferred choice of Patoles to spend some stress –free and quality time in peaceful and serene Kerala.  Their first port of destination was Munnar, a hill station located in the Idukki district of the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. Munnar is situated at around 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) above sea level, in the Western Ghats range of mountains. Ranjeet & Darshani were gracious enough to capture beautiful Munnar in his camera, you can view those pictures on my blog in an exclusive photo – essay.

The name Munnar is believed to mean “three rivers”, referring to its location at the confluence of the Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers. Munnar town is situated on the Kannan Devan Hills village in Devikulam taluk and is the largest panchayat in the Idukki district covering an area of nearly 557 square kilometres (215 sq mi).

The nearest major railway stations are at Ernakulum and Aluva (approximately 140 kilometres (87 mi) by road). The Nearest Functioning Railway station is at Udumalaipettai according to Google maps. The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, which is 105 kilometres (65 mi) away.

Most of the native flora and fauna of Munnar have disappeared due to severe habitat fragmentation resultant from the creation of the plantations.

However, some species continue to survive and thrive in several protected areas nearby, including the new Kurinjimala Sanctuary to the east, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Manjampatti Valley and the Amaravati reserve forest of Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary to the north east, the Eravikulam National Park and Anamudi Shola National Park to the north, the Pampadum Shola National Park to the south and the proposed Palani Hills National Park to the east.

These protected areas are especially known for several threatened and endemic species including Nilgiri Thar, the grizzled giant squirrel, the Nilgiri wood-pigeon, elephant, the gaur, the Nilgiri langur, the sambar, and the neelakurinji (that blossoms only once in twelve years).

You can visit websites of www.keralatourism.org and http://travel.india.com/munnar/ for more details and planning your trip to Kerala and Munnar.

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Fascinating Rajasthan! Symphony created by Diversity!!

रंगीलो राजस्थान: पधारो म्हारे देस!

An exclusive photo-essay!

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This land is a colourful melange of massive forts, stunning palaces, diverse cultures, delectable cuisines and warm people, set amidst a rugged yet inviting landscape.

Rajasthan is a land that has inspired me and countless others. Come tread on the sands of time. In Rajasthan you will find every hue in Nature’s grand palette – the red sands, the blue of royalty, the pink cities or the amber sunsets. Surrender yourself to the sounds of trinkets or the sounds of the all conquering wind. Sight and sounds that are far removed from any city. Sights and sounds that will transport you into a folk lore.

The contour of Rajasthan is varied and well divided by the Aravalli Range that spreads across the state from the southwest to the northeast. With an unproductive region in the northwest to a comparatively fertile land in the east. Rajasthan’s topography is a potpourri of the sandy deserts and prolific vegetation. It is home to the Great Indian Thar Desert and the Chambal River which is solely responsible for the water supply in the region.

Music, art and dance is woven into every inch of this land  called paradise. You will find it carved in every grain of sand. Here you will find the past, the present and the future. You will find passion. You will find adventure. And you will find yourself.

Irrespective of rich cultural roots, Rajasthan is equally modern and flourishing as any other urban city. The state roads flaunt the most expensive vehicles and at the same time run camel carts, horse drawn tongas and scooter rickshaws. The region is well connected by a network of roads and a steadily improving transport system.

Come, walk into the unforgettable embrace of Rajasthan.

In an attempt to reinvent and celebrate the extraordinary strengths of RAJASTHAN, these projects and events created especially for the larger domain of the people and their inherent traditional and contemporary skills, connecting with similar international interventions showcased in the State, the Chief Minister, Vasundhra Raje, has infused a new, fresh and contemporary energy into the inherited

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When it comes to accommodation, Rajasthan welcomes royal tourists and backpacking travellers equally. Your choices range from luxurious hotels to economical yet comfortable dormitories. The State owned Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation also run a chain of hotels in the major destinations. These tourist bungalows provide reasonably priced accommodation in the form of dormitories, single rooms, air-cooled and air-conditioned rooms.

Courtesy: पधारो म्हारे देस & RajasthanTourism.gov.in

Ganjing Carnival in Hazrat Ganj Lucknow, Down Memory Lane!

I came across pictures of Ganjing Carnival on my facebook page which made me really very emotional, as Lucknow as a City has great sentimental value for me. My heart immediately traversed to 90s, and thoughts crossed my mind of the wonderful time I spent in Lucknow then. . I can safely say that some of the best years of my life were spent in Lucknow and Ganjing was integral part of my stay in Lucknow.  

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Shifting from Delhi to Lucknow can be termed as backward integration for me and many people advised me against it. Given the headstrong person, that I am, I stuck to my guns. Before that I had just been to Lucknow only once that too for my interview appointment in PICUP. I had not applied much thought to it that what shifting to Capital of biggest state of the country would entail. After selection, I was quite clear that I am going to join PICUP and shift to Lucknow. In no time, it all fell into place.

नवाबों के शहर – शहरे लखनऊ

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The ‘open’ culture of Delhi was in sharp contrast to ‘closed’ culture of Lucknow. This posed serious challenge for me as an individual. Your every action was under scanner, in office, in market, in extended families and friends (??).  Now that I was in Lucknow, I had to learn the trick of the trade, as goes the saying: While in Rome, Do as the Romans do!  Going by the Mantra, I started making friends in colleagues but most of them were from Lucknow only. Obviously they bonded well in office, after office, could connect very well with each other. I being an outsider, a Delhi girl, though it generated curiosity among them but they were far from friendly. Few months passed in repenting about my decision, my heart ran back to Delhi all the time and I cursed myself for making the decision of shifting to Lucknow. But now, nothing could be done. I had found solace in the posters all over: मुस्कुराइए की आप लखनऊ में हैं!

As times passed by, I made friends with my colleagues: Geeta Sindhi, Amarjeet Singh, Ajay Kumar, Nadeem Ahmed, Kanika Gautam…with special mention of Shri Jwalant Swaroop. He is worthy of another special post.  Not to miss mention of bosses like: Mr P.L.Punia, Rajive Kumar, V.K. Chopra, J. K. Gupta and Prabhat Kumar.  Things started changing, I started gelling in Lucknow & PICUP cultures simultaneously and frequent visit to Hazrat Ganj – the upmarket shopping destination of Lucknow played a big role. The visits to specific destinations, movie theatres – remember watching “ Ram Teri Ganga Maili’ in Mayfair and coffee shops played a big role with my office colleagues and with Geeta in particular.

Evenings in Ganj were just amazing with setting sun providing the backdrop, foodies thronging the by lanes, lovers walking in the Lover’s lane ( actually called Lover’s lane), families out of shopping and movie lovers for movies all made up for the strong case in favour of Ganjing at any given point of time. Yes, Ganjing is the term, everywhere people go for shopping, outing, strolling but in Lucknow people go for GANJING! It was quite an experience in itself which made my stay even more pleasurable.

Now when I read about Ganjing Carnival, it was down memory lane…how time has flown. I don’t remember specific shops, cafés or even movie halls but I very fondly remember shopping with my mom in Ganj, hanging out with my friends, fun time with girlie gang or some official meetings too. Ganj holds a very special place in my heart like everyone who has been associated with Lucknow in any which ways.  Ganj is heart of Lucknow and Carival is the Celebration.

So for the uninitiated: Hazratganj (Hindi: हज़रतगंज, Urdu: حضرتگںج) is a major shopping area situated in the heart of Lucknow in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. In addition to bazaars, it also contains shopping complexes, restaurants, hotels, theaters and offices. “Ganjing” is a term used to describe ambling and shopping in the wide lanes and by lanes of city’s ganj market. Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) together with city’s administration organizes monthly carnival on the second Sunday of each month in Hazrat Ganj market. On this night, the market becomes a no-parking zone with barricades and security services. Various types of cultural and entertainment programmes are held for the general public. Lucknow Police watches the crowd with the help of drone cameras.

Today Hazratganj is a major Victorian style shopping area. It houses showrooms, shopping complexes, restaurants, hotels, theatres, offices and businesses. Hazratganj shops sell the famous Lucknow chikankari  material. Gurjari, Handloom Emporium and Gandhi Ashrams are also located in the market.

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The Sahara Ganj Mall is a 5-storied major shopping mall located in Hazratganj. It is one of the largest shopping malls in India covering an area of over 425,000 square feet.  It also has PVR movie theaters besides a huge food court.

Look forward to making it to Ganjing Carnival, till then like me you too see it to believe it!

 

 

Be in Cambodia to Happy Ho!

Our dear Shri Jwalant Swaroop, founder, Happy Ho fondly addressed as Jwalant Bhai Sahab  was in Cambodia for a short & sweet trip from where he sent some exclusive photos of Angkor Wat and National Museum for my Blog readers.  I present here his clicks in an exclusive photo-essay of his short and sweet trip to the place. He was gracious enough to share those pictures for my blog.

Cambodia is a Southeast Asian nation whose landscape spans low-lying plains, the Mekong Delta, mountains and Gulf of Thailand coastline. Its busy capital, Phnom Penh, is home to the art deco Central Market, glittering Royal Palace and the National Museum’s historical and archaeological exhibits. In the country’s northwest lie ruins of Angkor Wat, a massive stone temple complex built during the Khmer Empire.