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

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Adrenaline Rush - Zero Point, Sikkim




Sikkim is an incredibly beautiful state and every place in this state exudes an enigmatic grandeur. One among them is Zero Point. Husband and I were fascinated to visit this place as we were intrigued to know how it feels at the last outpost of civilization in knee deep snow.  My late father-in-law had served in NEFA valley. Hence husband wanted to see a similar place where his dad was posted. Zero Point undoubtedly topped the list. A big salute to Indian Army which operates in harsh conditions, guarding the Indo-China border 24*7.




A day before your visit to Zero Point or Yumesamdong, your driver/travel agent would have submitted your documents in advance, which are checked on the day of visit. Zero Point is usually not included in North Sikkim itinerary and travel agents charge Rs 3000 extra for this trip, clubbing Yumthang Valley with it. Your homestay would provide you with packed breakfast (usually bread butter/jam) since you would have to leave early morning.

The distance from Lachung to Zero Point is 51 km and roughly 30 km from Yumthang Valley.
(We first went to Zero Point and stopped at Yumthang Valley on returning from Zero.)



Hilly topography, harsh weather and proximity to China perhaps made it impossible to build roads. You would experience sharp turns and jerks throughout the road journey. Nonetheless the beautiful untouched nature around makes up for painful ride. The breath-taking sight leaves you mesmerized. After all its the journey that matters.




As you ascend higher, vegetation starts diminishing and rocky terrain becomes more prominent. The roads tend to get very slippery and extremely dangerous during snowfall. Ask your driver to drive slowly and very carefully on this route even when not snowing. Rash driving is not an option here. Give way to Army trucks whenever you see. Army personnel wave at passing vehicles as a gesture of wishing happy journey and making you feel good. Waving back to them is a nice gesture.

On the way, don’t forget to stop at ‘Jalebi Point’ for yummy snacks which are made by Indian Army personnel. Their motto is to bring a smile to faces and not let anyone go hungry.
P.S- Food items at Zero Point are expensive and the hygiene is not really trustworthy.  Advisable to refuel yourself at this stop. Hot samosas and jalebis felt absolutely amazing as we famished. (Remember our breakfast was just bread butter?)  

The super bouncy ride comes to an end at the Zero Point Parking. At 15000 feet above sea level, the place is covered in snow most of the year. When it hasn’t snowed, it would be biting cold.


We were at loss of words with the exhilarating beauty of the place. The Sun hid behind the greyish clouds and the chilled winds kissed our skin. Wood-fire at a nearby tea stall made us feel colder and we pulled our jackets tighter. The white blanket of snow seemed to beckon us as our body tried to adjust in the sub-zero temperature. Thankfully we did not feel uneasy because oxygen level isn’t low here unlike Gurudongmar Lake. While we felt ecstatic being surrounded by snow wondering what was China doing behind those gigantic mountains, our heart went out to Indian Army that braves these challenges everyday just to keep us safe. A heart-felt thanks and grand salute to them.


Enjoy hot snacks at the little shacks here, play with snow, enjoy nature at its "whitest most" and take home good memories. A usual protocol is to leave within an hour lest the parking should be full or  weather conditions worsen. Avoid Zero Point during rainy season.

Overall the place has nothing except for being an important landmark before China. However the exotic beauty of this place keeps you charmed.

Travelling to such places often changes your perspective about life and lot of things. The distance between life and death could be a thing as small as a wrong step on the hills or slipping on the rocks. We could somehow re-live the conditions what dad had endured during his service in NEFA. Our trip to Zero Point was also in his commemoration.  

P.S- This trip of mine was in Oct 2018. In case you have queries on planning your trip to North Sikkim or Zero point, feel free to reach out at shilp3005@gmail.com or leave your query in comments below. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Inside Rangji Temple, Vrindavan






The holy town of Vrindavan, is home to ancient history dating centuries ago. The karamabhoomi of Lord Krishna, Vrindavan hustles with people all year, irrespective the weather. Among several temples dedicated to Lord Krishna, I found a temple from the South Indian origin, the Rangji Temple. Driven by curiosity, husband and I could not stop ourselves from visiting this beautiful temple, much different from others in Vrindavan. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Rangji Temple is a beautiful concoction of the north and south Indian architecture.






Rangji Temple History- Build in 1851, this is the largest temple of Vrindavan that houses Lord Vishnu, Lord Ram, Goddess Sita, Lord Lakshman, Lord Venugopala and Lord Ramanujacarya. The main priests are South Indian Brahmins. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple, and non-Indians are given access to the first two gateways only. With the outer walls towering at a height of 773 feet and width of 440 feet, you can imagine the vastness of the space enclosed within.

Here is my photo blog on the beautiful Rangji Temple- 


One of the gateways










Priests in the main prayer hall


Smaller temple inside the premises
 

Gold plated pillar towering at 50 feet, this is called the Dhwaja Stambha


 A kund in the temple premises




The dwelling spaces of the priests and elderly


Walkway of the ashram


How to reach- Vrindavan has a major monkey menace. Hence exploring the place on foot is not advisable. Hire a rickshaw or shared auto to reach Rangji Temple which is close to Gandhi Chowk.

Timings:
Summers- 5:30 to 10:30 am and 4 pm to 9 pm
Winters- 6-11 am, 3:30-8:30 pm


P.S: This trip of mine was in Jan 2018
Also this post made it as the top post on Indiblogger home page. 

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Mathura Vrindavan Foodtrail






Going on food trails has always been exciting for me, especially while travelling to new places. Soaking in the culture is an essential part of my travel experiences. Food is an obvious and important part of any culture and tasting local cuisines is hence a must do in each trip. Keeping aside the hygiene factor for once, let me boldly state that you would find the true essence of local cuisines in roadside dhabas or street vendors. They are the ones who have kept the specialty and authenticity alive. Here is my food trail experience was on the streets of Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh.

My first food experiment was in the market at Sri Krishna Janmbhoomi Temple, the very place where Lord Krishna was born to Devki and Vasudev in Kansa's captivity. I started my chaat spree from a tiny stall named Paras Chaat Bhandar. The honest vendor served great assortment of chaat and ofcourse was reasonably place. Each bite burst with spices in my mouth. Tangy and chilly, I must say that the chaat palate in U.P is the best in India. Infact I had developed a liking for chaat in childhood after I tasted in U.P. 



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A scrumptious chaat meal is always followed by desserts and what's better than hunting for sweets in Mathura. Being the birthplace of Lord Krishna, Mathura is known for excellent milk based sweets After all they were the favorites of the Lord. I went searching for peda. Made of khoya (milk residue), sugar and flavoured spices, peda of Mathura is popular across the nation. India's best pedas are found here.

I went searching for sweet shops in the market close to Shri Krishna Janambhoomi Temple. and there was no dearth of sweet shops. Apparently every second shop in Mathura is named Brijwasi Sweet Shop. 





I ditched all shops in the vicinity. My hunt for good pedas ended in a peda shop near Dwarkadhish Temple. The brown ones are pure khoya which have shelf life of 2 weeks and the white ones (covered) have punch of cloves and they last for 2 months. Pedas just melt in your mouth and I could not restrict myself to just one.


Also, as I said chaat from Uttar Pradesh is the best in India, one cannot afford to miss the crispy kachori here. Stuffed with daal or onion and spices, these crispy bites are served with potato gravy or sweet sauce. The best part, they are served in bowls made of palm tree leaves. Being close to the temple vicinity, most of the shops prepare food without onion but there is high on spices. The fresh preparation on a chilled winter morning was an appealing sight. However I resisted the temptation.   



The following day of my visit to Govardhan Temple, nothing could separate me from sweets again. This time, the sweet shop was a footwear deposit stoppage since the main temple had no footwear counter. I bought peda prasad from here as well.



A sweet shop close to Govardhan Temple was my stop to taste rabri rasmali and khoya rasmalai. I am still drooling.

                                

Vrindavan, a town close to Mathura is another place with Lord Krishna's legacy attached with it. Lord Krishna was brought up in this town away from his biological parents. Home to several temples, Vrindavan too is famous for milk products and one cannot give a miss to lassi. Served in eco friendly kullad (clay glass) the thick creamy lassi is a filling quencher. This was from a tiny shop in the crowded lanes of Vrindavan.




My evening snack comprised aloo tikki chaat in the lanes of Banke Bihari Temple. Chaat never disappoints you in Uttar Pradesh. Trust me!





UP's main cuisine is hot and spicy which is cooled off by sweets. The spicy level can upset your stomach if you are not used to spices like me. Thanks to my stars I managed to stay put and braved the hotness of the cuisine. 


P.S- This trip of mine was in Jan 2018.
The post also made it to the top on Indiblogger and feature on the homepage.

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers




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.    


Lansdowne



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.



Kasauli





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.



Renukaji
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.


Mussorie
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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