Tag Archives: Uttarakhand

Lakshman Jhula, Rishikesh!

Lakshman Jhula, Rishikesh!

Absolutely clueless about what we would visit in Rishikesh, we landed in Rishikesh by Rishikesh Tourism bus boarded from Dehradun. After alighting at Rishikesh, I realized…now what next? Where do we go?  I must admit that it was the first trip of its kind where we had no plans in place like which hotel to embark, which places to visit and in what order. Suddenly it occurred to me that Lakshman Jhula is a famous destination, and we should go there first. We boarded an auto from the Stand, after a minor altercation with the auto driver but finally, he dropped as Lakshman Jhula Auto Stand. We asked him, “Where is Lakshman Jhula”. He showed us a tree on the right side of the road and said, “Take right from the tree.” Happily, we started moving, suddenly Mukund spotted a hotel and we decided to park our luggage there and then move on towards Lakshman Jhula. It was the bright sunny day but we decided to move because we wanted to attend “Maha Aarti” at Triveni Ghat in the evening. We started moving towards Lakshman Jhula from our hotel which was ideally located near our destination, which is probably in the center of the city. No sooner we realized that Lakshman Jhula is not that close as we were told. Voila, what a walk and the distance it turned out to be. We enjoyed our walk on the downward slope but when I realized how we will take an uphill walk, I became very jittery. There was hardly any transport available from Jhula till our hotel, so we had no option but to walk and just walk.

After walking for nearly 30 minutes, we reached our destination about which we were very curious since we had planned our trip. Lakshman Jhula is a famous landmark of Rishikesh where almost all tourists come to enjoy. Friendly Langoors and monkeys welcome you as soon as you enter the Jhula and I must say Ganges – in all its glory and splendor descending from the Himalayas looks just amazing. I forgot all my pain and was just enjoying the sight. The sight will not go off my mind for long! We walked Lakshman Jhula, which lies suspended over River Ganges, is 450 ft long and connects Tehri and Pauri district.

But do you know the story behind its name? Legend has it that Rama’s younger brother Lakshman crossed the Ganga using just two jute ropes. To honor his feat, a 284 ft long hanging Rope Bridge was built at the same place and named Lakshman. Until 1889, it was this very rope bridge that was used to cross the river but it was washed away during the floods of October 1924. After this, another bridge was built which opened to public use in 1930.

This is still in use but its name remains the same in honor of Lakshman. After crossing the bridge, we treated ourselves with chilled Jaljeera and Bunta (Soda) and then I and Tanya set out for some window shopping. The market here stocks stuff which appeals to foreigners mainly like idols, junk jewelry, dresses, Ramnami Jholas, stoles, kurtas, jackets, skirts, semi-precious stones, Rudraksha and other knick-knacks. We had a great time in the market while picking some stuff for us, whereas Mukund passed time with Langoors. We also saw the famous 13-storey Trayambakeshwar Temple which is on the other side of the Lakshman Jhula.

Indeed, it was great fun being on Lakshman Jhula, the suspension bridge in Rishikesh, where I felt like a child.

I must note here that to encourage tourism in the State and Rishikesh in particular, it is very important to keep Jhula spic and span. Many two-wheeler riders were freely crossing the bridge which made the movement of tourists difficult on the bridge and I could notice many tourists complaining about the same. It is high time Rishikesh Tourism paid attention to these things and made use of the amount we tax-payers are giving as “Swachh Bharat Cess” and bring alive the dream of PM Modi of “Swachh Bharat”.

Also, some signages at prominent destinations in Hindi & English should be displayed as I could notice some foreigners struggling with ways. It will certainly help all tourists and pilgrims alike. Hope Uttarakhand Governance is listening!!

Splendid, Spiritual & Musical Gangaji Maha Aarti, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

I would certainly like to visit, revisit & revisit the breathtakingly beautiful RISHIKESH, the religious abode of Himalayas, Ganga, Sadhus, Temples, Ghats, Truly religious and humble people, Maha aarti, Friendly Langoors, Ashrams, Yoga Centres, Adventure seekers, Students and Foreigners!

Read on to know, what all mesmerized me (A hardcore Urban Soul) in Rishikesh!

Our all of a sudden decision to visit Dehradun turned out to be a religious trip too, when as per plan on third day of our stay in Dehradun, we left for Rishikesh. We were super excited about visiting Rishikesh, particularly me as I had visited Rishikesh many years ago and had very feeble memories of the place. For the first time, I decided to move out of our comfort zone (read: hiring AC Cab) for our travel and decided to board State transport bus for Rishikesh from ISBT, Dehradun. It was a well-thought decision as I wanted to know how locals travel, think and behave in Uttarakhand. Believe me, my purpose was not defeated as I could see many college students, women and Government servants accompanying us on this ride. I wanted to touch the pulse of the people of UK who had voted so heavily in favour of BJP. People are happy about BJP rule and accepted that there was “Modi Wave” in the State. They accepted that since BJP is diligently moving on developmental agenda as many highways, flyovers, connecting roads in the vicinity witnessed fierce activity. But yes, to promote tourism in this naturally beautiful State, public transport needs to pull up its socks and provide better amenities to tourists. Buses are just the same as they were 50 years ago, AC buses need to be introduced with better access, but roads are better than any of the States in India. Believe me; it is not easy to make roads in the hilly terrain…

Hotel, where we were staying, owner told us that road work enroute Badrinath is on, so there is limited supply of electricity in the area. People are happy that their visit to the Shrine will be easier and happier now. & voila, next morning when I stepped out to enjoy the breeze across Ganga, I was surprised rather delighted to see, road nicely built on the route till where my vision could accompany me. This is good administration and governance, no wonder; Nitin Gadkari is the top choice for this coveted job. I am sure; Uttarakhand will be a changed State when I visit next.

Evening turned out as we had planned, we boarded Vikram (local means of transport) for Triveni Ghats from Laxman Jhula for the evening “Maha Aarti” which was truly Maha Aarti in letter & spirit. Believe me I had never seen anything so splendid, religious, musical & sentimental on any of my sojourns. Ghats were decked up nicely for all of us to sit and watch aarti comfortably where many foreigners too were awaiting keenly before we reached. The stage was set for aarti which started at 6:30 Sharp with the chanting of Ganga Aarti by Singers/ Pandits sitting on stage, before that Hanuman Chalisa was rendered. It was first day of auspicious Navratri so Vaishno Mata Mandir was decked up to the hilt with many pilgrims paying obeisance to the Goddess of Power.

I came to know that this Maha Aarti is major Tourist attraction taking place at this ghat.

This aarti is accompanied by chantings of bhajan, beating drums, bells and big diyas lighted all over the place. The devotees release small oil lamps placed on leaf boats in the water. These lamps float down the river and provide a beautiful view.

Ceremonies like “Pindha Shraddha” are also done at Triveni Ghat, which my husband Mukund also undertook for his recently demised father, late Shri Jamnadas Vaghela. We believe that we tearfully sent him on his final journey. The main Panditji performed this ritual for our forefather – our beloved “Pappa”.

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Triveni Ghat is the confluence of three holy important Rivers in Ganges, the Yamuna and Saraswathy which is most revered sacred bathing spot in Rishikesh and is situated on the banks of Ganges River.

It is a belief that holy dip here washes away all the ties and purifies the soul and will have salvation, a relief from sins carried out; the water has the power to purify them. It is very soothing to sit on the banks of the river and enjoy the cool breeze with many sentiments at a time at play.

Devotees make many offerings at Triveni Ghat; in the early morning at sunrise they offer milk to the river and happily feed the fishes in the Triveni Ghat.

Visit undertaken on March 28, 2017.

 

Thank God, Tiger did not spot me!

I visited Jim Corbett National Park many years ago while in school and was really petrified to see the place. Jungle hi Jungle all over, I asked my friend, “Why are we here”? She replied, “To spot tigers”? I gave vague expression, Tigers? But why Tigers? What if they attack us? Or even eat us raw? Poor friend, no answers. Today I don’t recollect whether we spotted the Tiger or no but I certainly remember that muddy, dusty terrain, hills, marsh lands, lakes …ideal for Big Cats and not for Small Fries like us.  Reluctantly I spent the day…bickering all day long…we could have done boating in Malli Taal instead of being here. Camera was just out of reach for us, moreover I being the child of that era did not even have the guts to for ask for one from my parents. Somehow trip to Jim Corbett got over…me highly scared and completely drained though relaxed, thinking thank GOD Tiger did not spot me!!

Times certainly changed when my daughter Tanya visited Jim Corbett National Park from her school trip few years ago, who was super excited to be amidst Big Cats and not scared out of her wits like me. They took jungle safari tour in the morning which started at 5 AM in the morning, for which she got up at 4 AM in the morning. I sighed, sacrificing sleep for Safari and never for Studies! Any way group of children in Jeep ventured out and probably they could catch the glimpse of tigress. She was delighted. Tanya still has fond memories of that trip…and me too, I was scared all through, till the time all children were out of Jim Corbett.  I was relaxed, thinking that Thank GOD they could spot Tiger!!!

Recently, my niece Dr. Tanvi and her husband Dr. Siddhant Taneja along with Arushi & Sankalp were in Jim Corbett National Park at Club Mahindra Resort there. The expressions on their faces are quite chilled and relaxed unlike me who was shit scared throughout. Looks like they had great time there! Adventure loving Medicos Dr. Tanvi & Dr. Siddhant share same passion for outings and particularly adventure trails. As mentioned by Tanvi, they too had some scary moments when a wild Tusker blocked their way or scary sight of a wild bear. But over all they enjoyed being there and clicked some really nice pictures which I am sharing for my readers in the form of a Photo – Essay.  This time Jim Corbett looked wonderful, serene, scenic and certainly a place to be amidst Tigers!!! Relaxed, thinking that thank GOD, they could enjoy so much!!!

Jim Corbett National Park, which is a part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve, a Project Tiger Reserve lies in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. The magical landscape of Corbett is well known and fabled for its tiger richness. Established in the year 1936 as Hailey National Park, Corbett has the glory of being India’s oldest and most prestigious National Park. It is also being honoured as the place where Project Tiger was first launched in 1973. This unique tiger territory is best known as the father who gave birth of the Project Tiger in India to protect the most endangered species and the Royal of India called Tigers.

Spans over an extent of 520 square kilometers, its whole area comprises of hills, marshy depressions, riverine belts, grasslands and large lake. It is among the few tiger reserves in India that allows overnight stays in the lap of the National Park. Nature watch and wildlife viewing in the park is done in an open four wheeler Jeep and on elephant back. Sheltering a healthy population of tigers and rare species like Otters and the endemic fish eating crocodile, the national park is one of the most sought after destinations for the wildlife buffs. Dhikala, situated at the border of the extensive Patil Dun valley, is the most popular destination in Corbett because of its superb location and sheer abundance of wildlife present.

How to Reach Corbett
Ramnagar is perhaps the best approach to the Corbett National Park which forms the headquarters of CTR. This small city is well connected by road and rail network with major cities of India like Delhi, Moradabad, Nainital and Bareilly. Once you reach Ramnagar, then it takes only half an hour to reach Corbett National Park. The park is around 15 Kms from Ramnagar railway station.

By Road: Ramnagar has a very good network of road that connects the different cities. The Corbett National Park is situated at an approximate surface distance of 260 Kilometer from India’s national capital Delhi. The state government of Uttarakhand plies buses at a short interval of time from Delhi, Moradabad, Haldwani, and Nainital that reaches Corbett directly.

By Rail: The railway station in Ramnagar receives trains from different major cities of India like Delhi, Moradabad and Bareilly. A direct train to Ramnagar runs from Delhi. You can check out for Ranikhet Express, Corbett Link Express and Kathgodam Express that takes you directly to Ramnagar.

Distance from Major Cities:

  • Delhi: Delhi – Moradabad – Kashipur – Ramnagar (260 Kms)
  • Nainital: Via Kaladhungi to Ramnagar (62 Kms)
  • Lucknow: Lucknow – Bareilly – Kicha – Rudrapur – Kashipur – Ramnagar (436 km)
  • Dehradun : Dehradun – Ramnagar (232 km)

Corbett Tiger Reserve provides Accommodation and Day Visit facility to visitors. Online booking for Accommodation and Day Visit can be booked in advance through their website: www.jimcorbettnationalpark.co.in

Information courtesy: jimcorbettnationalpark

Pictures Courtesy: Dr. Siddhant & Tanvi Taneja

Kempty Falls, Mussourie, India’s answer to Niagra Falls (???)

April 28, 2015: Early morning we headed to Kempty Falls in Mussourie via road from Dehradun. The journey on a narrow path amidst hilly terrain was breathtakingly beautiful. The hills, the greenery, the vegetation, the monkeys, small waterfalls, clouds…all added to provide us the unique experience. We stopped the car at many places just to stop by and enjoy the beauty of hills. On the way we caught the glimpse of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Indo-Tibetan Border Academy, Many wonderful boarding schools and Colleges. Yea, we missed visiting Ruskin Bonds House which my daughter Tanya was very keen to visit. Never mind…next time!

So coming to Kempty Falls which I was visiting after many years (visited as a child) and it was just the same, I mean there is no effort to make it tourism friendly except that there is a ropeway now to ferry passenger and yes, commercial activity has increased manifold. So finally driving up and then down, several kilometers, we reached Kempty Falls. What added to our joy was that we met the same family who were our companions in the train enroute Dehradun and their children had become great friends of my daughter. Once again united, children had great time at Kempty Falls. We loved the falls amidst thick forests of Mussourie where fall was making great sound and people were having great time under the fall.

So for the uninitiated, The Kempty Falls are situated on the hilly tracks of Uttarakhand, India, 13 km from Mussourie on the Chakrata Road. It is nearly 1364 meters above sea level, at 78°-02’East longitude and 30° -29’North latitude. The Kempty Falls, and the area around is surrounded by high mountain ranges at an altitude of 4500 feet.

Kempty Falls were developed as a tourist destination by a British officer John Mekinan, around 1835. The name Kempty is probably derived from the word ‘camp-tea’, A stream of water running throughout the year starting from the southwest of village Banglow ki kandi moves northwest and falls from 4,500 ft. Splitting into five other cascades, the water falls a further 40 ft.

Indeed, the place filled me with wonderful memories. It was really hard to get our eyes off the mesmerizing Kempty falls. Though I decided not to step into the pool formed by the falls and join its game. Had I taken the dip or splashed the cold water on my friends and family, enjoyment would have been greater. But yes, the place filled me with extra energy, soaking us in the fun and frolic.

Though I couldn’t help myself comparing it with Niagra Falls (The US & Canada) which I visited 10 years ago and was expecting something close to that…but I was hugely disappointed.

But you should not miss visiting Kempty Falls while in Dehradun just for its fantastic drive… I loved the day in Mussourie, it will be etched in my memory forever!

Gangaji ki Aarti on Har-ki-Pauri, Haridwar!

Mesmerizing, enchanting, lingering experience…
…Visit once for the entire soulful experience!

As goes the name – Haridwar, it is indeed Hari ka dwaar where you enter to meet the divinity in its full glory. So much so that even Haridwar station is made in the shape of a temple. Quite excited to be in Haridwar, we reached there on the afternoon of April 29, 2015 from Dehradun, to be welcomed by courteous staff of Hotel Chitra Heritage, located close to station. After having lunch in the hotel room and a quick nap and a quicker shower we got ready for the evening Aarti at Har-ki-Pauri. My husband Mukund and daughter Tanya, having absolutely no clue how Har-ki-Pauri looked like, they were quite fascinated to catch the first glimpse of green and clean Ganga from the bridge. Ghat surrounded by small – time sellers selling diyas, flowers, garlands, toys, Ganga Jal Cans, Bangles, Sindoor what not delighted Tanya even more. She wanted to check stuff with every seller and found everything quite cheap.

Moreover, the song playing in the backdrop – Ganga Maiyya mein jab tak ke paani rahe, mere sajna teri zindgani rahe…added to the aura of Gangaji. After faced paced, highly commercialized life of Mumbai, religious Haridwar was quite a change. With temples all around us, we were in for a religious sojourn. My daughter a true-blue Mumbaikar, young & modern teenager was too delighted to be there, to my utter surprise. Gangaji at Har-ki-Pauri is quite clean but could have been cleaner. I think people are lending ears to Modiji’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan…

Enjoy the Photo-Essay:

We moved towards Clock Tower which is closer to Ghat where Aarti was to be performed. When we reached around 6:15 PM it was moderately crowded but as 15-20 minutes passed, huge crowds gathered on the Malviya ghat. We were seated on the opposite side of temple where Aarti was to be performed. We had a clear view of the temple ghat and were quite happy about it. Aarti started at sharp 7 PM, and what an experience it turned out to be! Absolutely divine. Lanterns flowing in Gangaji and several Pandits performing Aarti with life size diyas, it was a sight to remember. I am still finding it difficult to get over it…just mesmerizing! I felt one with divinity – the Supreme power, huge crowds totally immersed in Aarti!

Now a little backdrop of the Aarti – Each evening as the sun’s last rays reflect off the boundless waters of Mother Ganga, people gather for Ganga Aarti at Har-Ki-Pauri. This divine light ceremony is filled with song, prayer, ritual and a palpable sense of the divine. Aarti is the beautiful ceremony in which diyas (oil lamps) are offered to God. Aarti is being done to the deity in the Gangaji temple, and simultaneously on the banks of the Ganges to Mother Ganga.
Ganga Aarti Hardwar is performed at Har-ki-Pauri Ghat. Har Ki Pauri is one of the most famous place to take holy dip in the river Ganga. Ganga Aarti means prayer for the River Ganga. Aarti is an ancient Hindu ritual offered to Gods, holy things, spiritual leaders or to the guests. Aarti word is from the Sanskrit language which means remover of darkness (ignorance). Aarti is performed at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat which is built in 1st century by King Vikram. Bhratuhari was brother of King Vikram who meditated here for Lord Vishnu and Lord Vishnu appeared here to give him blessing. That is why the place named Har Ki Pauri (Foot Prints of God). This is also the same place where drop of nector fell down and that is why it is also prime attraction in Kumbh Mela Festival in Haridwar.

Ganga is not only a river. She is truly a Divine Mother. She rushes forth from the Himalayas as the giver of life, carrying purity, bliss and liberation in Her waters. Ganga is not only water. She is nectar – the nectar of life, the nectar of liberation. She is a source of inspiration to all who lay eyes on her ceaseless, boundless, rushing current. She irrigates not only our farms, but also our hearts, minds and souls. She is the Mother Goddess – giving freely to all with no discrimination, hesitation or expectation. Her waters purify all who bathe in them, all who drink from them. In fact, She is the remover of contamination.
The essence of the aarti ceremony is that all day long God offers us light – the light of the sun, the light of life, and the light of His (Her) blessings. Aarti is a time when we say, “Thank You,” and we offer back the light of our thanks, the light of our love and the light of our devotion.

Aarti in full splendour:

Ganga Aarti is organized twice a day every evening – Morning at sunrise and evening at sunset. Timing is different in summer and winter according to sunset and sunrise timings. Evening Ganga Aarti is more famous. Ganga Aarti has two parts. First part is offering to the river ganga to get blessing. Offerings are done with backgrounds of live chants in Sanskrit language. After short break of 5 mins after offering the second part starts which is Hindi Song for River Ganga. The preist also light the Big Diyas (Multile wicks are soaked in Ghee and the holder is made from copper) during this song. These diyas are waved in clock wise direction towards River Ganga.

We were really lucky that inspite of being late, everything fell into place for us, we got the right place to view so that we could view the Aarti in its full glory and splendor. Luckily the place was not that crowded too. After Aarti, we performed deep daan in Gangaji for our ancestors.

But yes, there are few lessons to be taken like you should reach little early to get the complete view of the ceremony. Avoid giving donations to the so called volunteers, instead you should give donations to Ganga Sabha so that it is utilized for the right purpose.
What is life without few learnings every now and then…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uttarakhand riding on motorsport to take tourism into top gear

For the second consecutive year, Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board is co-organizing the Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally. With the rally, the mountain state has brought motorsport firmly back on its tourism calendar. The Second Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally will run from February 1 to February 4.

SKI-RUN-FORTUNER

Uttarakhand relies on tourism as its economic mainstay, and the focus of the rally is on getting tourists back to its green vales after the
devastating floods in June 2013. Secretary Tourism Mr Uma Kant Panwar said motorsport is a valuable addition to Uttarakhand’s adventure portfolio, targeted at mid and high-end tourists.

“The rally, which is organized on international standards, showcases to the world that the roads in the state are great. The rally will pass by
some of our most loved tourism hotspots like the world-class ski resort at Auli, and Ramnagar, which flanks the Jim Corbett National Wild life Park,” said Mr Panwar.

The Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally will have 35 teams driving cars and SUVs, going across about 1,000 kilometers in the state. Each team will comprise a driver and a navigator.

In order to ensure that there are no traffic disruptions, Uttarakhand
Adventure Car Rally will follow the Time- Speed-Distance (TSD) format. This is the sober form of motorsport that allows competitors to go slow in thickly populated areas, and stick to specified speed limits at all times.

The Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally will touch some of the most beautiful tourist hotspots of the state. It will begin from Dehradun on February 2 and move via Dev Prayag, Karna Prayag, Rudra Prayag and Nand Prayag to the ski resort at Auli. With newly-laid out, smooth roads, the picturesque drive leads to the celebrated snow-tops, a delight for skiers and sight-seeing. On the way is Shivpuri, which draws huge domestic and foreign tourism for white water rafting.

On Day Two, the rally will come down from Auli to Ramnagar, which flanks the Jim Corbett National Wildlife Park, again a tourist hotspot. The rally will end at Dehradun on Day Three.

Mr Uma Kant Panwar said that the rally marks the resurgence of tourism in the state. “Uttarakhand has world-class holiday destinations for families and youth alike. The roads are good again, and we invite all tourists to enjoy the unique holiday experience here,” he said. Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally adds to the state’s adventure tourism calendar, along with skiing, mountaineering, white water rafting and mesmerizing encounters in the wildlife parks.

The rally is being organized by Himalayan Motorsport. This is the premier Shimla-based motorsport club which organizes the Raid De Himalaya, one of the top-ten toughest rallies of the world. Uttarakhand Adventure Car Rally is being supported by Maruti Suzuki and JK Tyres.

Mr Vijay Parmar, the president of Himalayan Motorsport, said that after the internationally popular Himalayan Rally, motorsport has been re-started in Uttarakhand on a small scale. “Motorsport has great potential to grow in Uttarakhand, and will showcase its excellent tourism destinations nationally and internationally. The state has a super network of roads, and more roads are being constructed in highly picturesque locales,” he said.

The Himalayan Rally, which used to go through Uttarakhand, was last
organized almost 25 years ago.