Showing posts with label Incredible India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Incredible India. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

5 Hill Stations Under 300 KM From Delhi For a Quick Getaway

Summers in Delhi can be quite unbearable. Why not travel to hill stations and beat the heat? While you can surely go to Swiss Alps, considering a hillstation near NCR wouldn't be a bad option. Afterall incredible India has a lot to offer. Here is a list of five hill stations under 300km from Delhi for a quick rejuvenating vacation.    


A cantonment town in Pauri Garhwal of Uttarakhand, Lansdowne is one of the quietest hill stations of North India, popular since British era. 248 km away from Delhi, Lansdowne’s unspoiled beauty enjoys a pleasant weather throughout the year. Bordered by thick oak and pine forests, this hill station is a stunning place for bird watching, relaxing in arms of nature and rejuvenating your senses. Lansdowne has no direct public transport. You can drive from Delhi via Meerut bypass, Bijnor, Najibabad and Kotdwar. The curvy roads at a stretch of 30 km start from Kotdwar ending in Lansdowne.

Place to see in Lansdowne- Tip in Top (bird’s eye view of Lansdowne), Bhulla Lake (artificial lake), St Mary’s Church, Darwan Singh Museum. Go for a spiritual sojourn in Tarakeshwar temple located in the middle of the forest (40 km from Lansdowne) which fills your soul with positive aura.

As the temperature soars to extreme in Delhi, Nainital offers a cool respite from the heat. In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Nainital boasts of serene lakes, scenic landscapes amid the mighty Himalayas. The town was named after Naini Lake which is believed to be one of the Shakti Peeths where Devi Parvati's charred body parts fell. The place where her eyes (nain) fell was Nanital or lake of the eye. Boating in the sparkling water of the lake with gentle breeze caressing you would feel absolutely out of the world. You can easily drive to Nainital since it is only 300km from Delhi. An overnight jouney in a volvo or train would take you to Haldwani and Kathgodam respectively. Further you can hire a taxi or local bus to reach Nainital.

Places to see in Nainital- Nanda Devi temple, Naini Lake (in the shape of an eye and the largest in Nainital), Mall road, Eco Cave Garden (once inhabited by tigers and panthers), Khurpa Taal (lake known to change seven colors), snow view point (to watch Himalayas and Raja Hindistani famed Palankhet). Around 5 km ahead of Nainital lies Kilbury forest which you can visit for bird watching and nature walk. Further ahead lies Pangot, a popular camping site.


Around 290 km from Delhi, the mesmerizing Kasauli lies nested in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. Renowned for camping and serene forests, this little cantonment enjoys a pleasant weather throughout the year, making it a preferred terminus for the sun burnt Delhi residents. It is a paradise for nature lovers as it offers breath-taking forests and misty clouds. Soak some greenery in the Gilbert Trail which owes its beauty to the kachha rasta (1.5km long mud track) bordering luscious landscape, chirping birds and serene environment. What more could you ask for?

Places to see in Kasauli- Sunset Point (for jaw dropping sunset view), Manki Point (known to be visited by Hanuman during Sanjeevni Booti search), Christ Church (one of the oldest churches of Himachal built in 1853), Garden of Char Minar (built by Jahangir in 17th century). Don’t miss shopping and local food in Tibetan market. 8 Km ahead lies a sleepy little town of Barog, famous for the "haunted tunnel" which is the longest on the Kalka-Shimla Heritage Rail Line and the straightest in the world.

Pic courtesy HPTDC
Away from the city chaos and touristy cacophony, the lesser known Renukaji is a small village in Himachal. At 290km from Delhi and with temperature ranging from 18-35 Degree Celsius, Renukaji makes a quick holiday destination for all seasons. Known for the lake of the same name, it is an embodiment of Renukaji, mother of Parshurama who was Lord Vishnu’s avatar. The panoramic lake is fed by underground springs and surrounded by soothing green forests. Those looking for peace of mind and a less crowded place to relax, pack your bags and unwind in this lovely little hill station. This picture-perfect place tops the chart as an offbeat place for holiday in Himachal.

Pic courtesy Tripadvisor
Place to see in Renukaji- Renuka Lake (The largest natural lake of Himachal), Parshuram Tal and Renuka Temple, Lion Safari, Mini Zoo, Jamu Peak . You can further visit Nahan (45km from Renukaji) to view the magnificent Churdhar Peak, Jaitak Fort, Suketi Fossil Park and Simbalwada Wildlife Sanctuary.

Image courtesy Expedia
Mussorie, the crown of Dehradun in Uttarakhand, is also known as the “Queen of hills”. Founded in 1820 by Caption Young of the British Army, Mussorie got its name from Mansoor plant which grows in abundance here. Just 33 km from Dehradun and barely 280 km from Delhi, this place is a great escapade for short breaks. The hills with green sheen against the misty view of Doon valley, breezy weather and several tourist attractions get a large footfall the whole year. You can drive from Delhi, or board a bus/train terminating at Dehradun railway station and continue the journey to Mussorie in a taxi or local bus.

Places to visit in Mussorie- Kempty falls, Gun Hill (ropeway), Bhatta Falls (mountain-rivers and waterfall), Camel Back Rock (Called Camel Back Road), Mall Road (shopping). You can enjoy the old time charms in Landour (7 km from Mussorie) while indulging in the best bakery of the country. If lucky, you may just bump into the legend Ruskin Bond who has his residence in Landour.

PS. This post made it to the top posts in Indiblogger home page. 

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sri Krishna Janmbhoomi Temple - Mathura diaries

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Day 2: Sri Krishna Janmbhoomi Temple

So what if Mathura has bad roads and a serious traffic problem; that could not dampen my spirits to see the holy town. Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, holds high significance in the books of History and Mythology, drawing lot of tourists and devotees every day. The first of my three day trip comprised visit to Govardhan Temple, Sri Krishna Janmbhoomi and market hopping.

Read my post on Govardhan Temple here. I utilized the second half of the day in Sri Krishna Janambhoomi Temple. 

The main entrance gate 
Sri Krishna Janambhoomi is the very spot where Lord Krishna was born to Vasudev and Devaki in Kansa’s captivity.  The temple has parts of that historical jail, open for visitors. The huge temple premises is on a raised platform, which you can reach via a long flight of stairs.

Heavily guarded by CISF, the temple has a mosque in its close proximity. The main shrine of the temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The walls have beautiful paintings depicting the life of Krishna and his various avataars. Everything inside is extravagantly pretty and outstanding. Even the roof walls caught my attention where Krishna Leela was painted in vibrant colors. You can spend time meditating or singing bhajans at the main shrine. The first level of the temple has a prayer hall where the ISKON group sing and dance to Krishna Bhajans. The rhythm of the mridang and manjeera takes you to trans! You end up feeling elated and full of positive energy.

The market within the temple complex boasts of sweets, colourful gifts, idols of God and lovely embroidery work on accessories.

The most interesting and visit worthy place in the temple is the artificial cave that exhibits Krishna Leela at different stages of his life. The dark cave echoes with a combination of sound and light effects to compliment the atmos.
Entry Fees for cave- Rs 5 per person

Tips for first time visitors
-Photography and carrying bags is prohibited inside. Cloak rooms outside the premises charge Rs 2 per item to deposit your bags, cams and mobiles.
-You would be frisked by security personnel twice. You cannot cheat them by hiding your mobile phones in your clothes.
-Though the temple has not mentioned any dress code, it would be wise to dress modestly covering your bare legs at least.
-Footwear is deposited at the shoe stand on ground floor for free.
-Monkeys and dogs are found in large number. Do not bother them, they would not bother you. Do not feed any animal inside.
-Temple opens at 6 am and shuts at 12 noon. Reopens at 4:30 pm till 8:30 pm. Plan your visit accordingly.

Outside the temple, do visit the local market. It turned out to be my best experience here.
Needless to mention, my eternal bond with sweets, brought me here to have the best Peda of North India. 

The little brown sinfully indulgent pedas which melt in mouth make me feel they were made for me. Infact every third shop I saw was named Brijwasi, one of the oldest sweet shop in Mathura. Leveraging the legacy, even the local vendors have renamed their shops to the same. 

Stroll in the market for the best chaat and tikki. We had a plate of golgappa and dahi vada each at Rs 20 from Paras Chaat Bhandar. The gentleman is the most humble vendor I ever met. Do give his stall a try when around Krishna Janambhoomi. 

The best dahi vada plate

Our dinner was from a small eating joint named New Madrasi where we had rawa masala dosa at modest price of Rs 60 each. I ended up complimenting the owner how much I liked the dosa.

Around 8pm, we walked back from Sri Krishna Janambhoomi premises to our hotel (Ganpati Palace), which was less than one kilometer, and the streets had started to bear a deserted look. It is advisable to head back to to your hotel and avoid strolling on roads after 9 pm.  

How to reach Mathura from Delhi- 
By Road:
Mathura and Delhi are 180 km apart. Take Noida Expressway for a smooth uninterrupted journey. The highway is good with thankfully no potholes or repair work.

An alternate route via Palwal is a shorter distance but the journey would be uncomfortable and bumpy due to pathetic road condition.


Trains are also available from various stations of Delhi till Mathura Junction and Mathura Cant.
Check the website for trains’ schedule:

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Here are must know things for Sariska Jungle Safari

Sariska is one of the closest vacation places from Delhi. Known for its Tiger Sanctuary and the adventurous jungle safari, a four hours drive from Delhi takes you to the enthralling forest of Sariska. 

Things you should know-

Experts advice that the best time for jungle safari is morning, which has high probability of sighting a tiger. However, nobody can guarantee spotting a tiger in Sariska any time, because the forest is their home, not ours! We left from the resort before sunrise to reach the safari ticket window as early as possible. It was indeed surprising to see the place bustling with enthusiastic guests on a chilled winter morning.  

Take at look at the timings- 
Bookings are made at the window. Alternately you a make bookings online to save time. By the way the website mentioned on the board does not work-

The ticket rates as mentioned on the board are as follows-

However these are not the updated rates on the board. We hired a full gypsy for ourselves and paid Rs 580 at the window. Rs 2880 was to be paid to the guide. (Payment to the guide is made separately after the safari ends).


Though the rules are simple, no body really cares. How difficult is it to respect the jungle rules? The top most ones are are- Be silent (which people find very difficult), do not wear loud or bright colored clothes, smoking drinking prohibited, do not litter plastic waste, do not feed animals and NEVER get off your jeep/canter.
Entrance to the sanctuary
Our guide Seetaram, toured us through the forest while providing valuable info about the forest. Spread over an area of 866 square kilometers, Sariska is home to large variety of birds and animals species, the most common ones being spotted deer, swamp deer (barah singha), neel gaai (blue bull), peacock, jackal (siyaar). Seetaram said there are 14 tigers in Sariska sanctuary and most of them are radio collared. Among them, ST6 is the biggest and oldest male tiger while ST7 is the largest and most photographed tigress. Only 20% of the forest is open for safari and divided into three zones. Zone 1 has the highest probability of tiger sighting, though its a matter of sheer luck.  

Be it the sandy trails, bumpy roads or dense trees, each element leaves you feeling excited. Our driver took us to a spot where a leopard had killed and dragged a deer to a tree. This tree had stirred up lot of excitement among all visitors. For a moment I felt sorry for the deer, but that is the law of nature.
The hunted deer. Picture courtesy
Visitors are NOT allowed to get off their jeep/canter anywhere. The only place where it is allowed is at the rest stop where the drivers take a break. Blabber birds and the beautiful orange Rufous Treepies flock to all jeeps here as if asking for food. 

Rufous Treepie

A visit to Kankwara lake is also a part of the safari. This lake is a dwelling place for crocs as well as large number of birds. January is a good time to watch the migratory birds bask in the Sun. We moved out after a stoppage of fifteen minutes.

As I mentioned, spotting a tiger is quite difficult, we still had our senses alert, hoping to catch glimpse of our national animal. We spotted all animals but a tiger. 

Spotted deer, neel gaai and peacocks shying away is a very common sight. 

A swift and angry jackal also crossed our way. Two neel gaais fighting would be captured in this video, had the opponent not been submissive. Take a look-

Suddenly, all gypsies and canters were made to halt at a place where the guides told that two mating tigers were heard roaring from a distance. Obviously, all the hype melted in few minutes when nothing was heard by visitors. Our driver showed us a tiger paw mark on the way, claiming to be a mark from night. Well, who knows what the actual story is? After-all, one is interested to see a tiger, and not the latter.

  As the day progressed, our hopes of seeing a tiger was fading, when Seetaram met a fellow guide of another gypsy who informed about the presence of a female leopard near a pond. Without wasting a single minute. we rushed to the spot. 

Leopard with her cubs (Pic courtesy
The beautiful leopard looked straight into the camera while we clicked her. Surprise, surprise..she was with her two cubs. Sensing threat, the leopard left the place soon, hence upsetting those who missed that lovely sight! The disappointment of not seeing a tiger was overpowered by the joy of seeing a leopard, which is a rare sighting indeed.

 The three hours safari ride came to an end and Seetaram happily posed for the camera.

Whether or not you spot a tiger, the safari itself is a thrilling experience. It is a must visit for wildlife photographers and nature enthusiasts. 

PS- This post is from my trip to Sariska Tiger Reserve in Jan 2017 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Here's why Sajjangarh Zoo in Udaipur a must visit

As the incredible Rajasthan always welcomes with the warm “Padharo maahro desh”, we keep coming to the princely state for more History, culture, art and adventure. So here we went on exploring more of Udaipur on the second day of our trip.

We reached Sajjangarh Biological Park (sanctuary) as suggested by friends.  .
Gate on left leads to the Zoo. Gate on right is for palace entry
The entry tickets has a separate counter fifteen meters away from the main gate. 
Ticket costs Rs 30 for Indians and Rs 300 for foreigners. Still camera charges are Rs 80 and Video Camera charges are Rs 200.

Timings- 9 to 5:30 pm daily, closed on Tuesday  

Spread over a total area of 36 heactares, this park was established with the objective of conserving endangered flora and fauna and developing among visitors an empathy for wild animals. The zoo is flagged with boards on wildlife conservation and protection.

You can tour the park on foot. I do not recommend it, since its too tiring and hot under the sun right on your head. The walking paths are without shades.

Or else you can buy tickets for Golf Cart at Rs 50 each for a 90 minutes ride. The carts that accommodates 6 people in one go, are noiseless and battery operated, hence cause no pollution or disturbance for the environment.  The only limitation- The cart moves only when full. The management might convince you to pay Rs 60 in case you want to make it move early.

The third most exciting mode of travelling is bicycle. These non fancy-no gear-manual cycles can put you through a real endurance test. They charge Rs 20 per hour. One can cycle through the whole sanctuary in less than two hours. Needless to say, we chose to cycle. 

The only mistake we did - We did not cover our heads. 
Advisable- Carry a hat/stoll/cap to protect your head from direct sun, lest you should be dehydrated/get headache.  

Cycle ki sawari
The pathways are beautiful and very well maintained. Sajjangarh Zoo is a polythene free area dotted with bins and banners that discourage people from littering.


It is a visual treat to see several species of animals in large allocated spaces. Meeting Ostrich was a pleasant surprise. 

Witnessing tortoises fight with each other was amusing. Who could imagine these slow timid creatures fighting? But they did! 

The most interesting enclosure was of the croc’s. The tank had glass walls for the visitors to look into the croc’s eye. However, the reptile chose to relax on the sand and not enter into the water. Huh, tough luck! 

We also saw the four legged animals which had committed suicide in front of Salman Khan’s car. The black buck.  hehe.

Black Buck

A resting tigress 
Wolf enclosure

Some treks were steep where we had to drag the cycles along. The whole cycling experience is just wonderful.

  • Wear shoes else cycling or walking would be difficult. 
  • Carry water with you. Though the zoo has water coolers at short distances, your golf cart may not stop everywhere.
  • Please maintain silence lest you should scare the animals.

The Monsson Palace, on the adjacent road is also visible from the zoo. The heat slowed us down and we kept taking short breaks under trees' shade. By the exit time, we literally fled with our cycles without looking at the animals since it was too hot! I don’t remember how many times we had refilled our water bottles. Sweating and tired we returned the cycles post two hours of adventure.

As we exited the Zoo with bagful of memories and camera full of pictures, we contemplated whether or not to visit the Monsoon Palace. To know what happened next, read here.

P.S- This trip of mine to Udaipur was in Oct 2016.

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