Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The surreal Jagdish Temple, Udaipur

Jagdish Temple may not be in a traveler's must see list of Udaipur, but you would love this place for sure. The architecture and marvelous carvings would leave you awestruck.  My v
isit to this temple was a part of my first day itinerary, post the tour of City Palace. 

The temple’s beauty speaks volume of medieval period’s magnificent construction. 
Made on a raised platform, you have to mount a staircase of 30 steps to enter the temple.

The main shrine

The first flight of stairs to the temple

Constructed in the Indo-Aryan style, the three storied Jagdish temple was built by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1651.  The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu also known as Laxmi Narayan, the preserver of the Universe. It holds a record of being the largest temple in the city of Udaipur

Garuda statue

Across the main shrine, stand the brass image of Garuda, a figure of half-man and half-eagle. The symbol of strength and loyalty, this idol stands guarding the doorway of Lord Vishnu.
 Another flight of 32 marble steps leads to the main shrine that houses the beautiful four-armed idol of Lord Vishnu. This idol is carved out of a single piece of black stone. The main shrine of Lord Jagdish/ Vishnu is centrally located encircled by four smaller shrines which are dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Sun God, Goddess Shakti and Lord Shiva respectively.



The temple has a double -storey mandap  tucked within its pyramidal bell-roof. The hollow clustered 79 feet spire over the sanctum contains two more, nonfunctional stories.

The gods on walls

The exquisite carvings on the walls leaves you in awe. Every corner or wall of the temple boats of art prodigy. It is said that 1.5 million rupees were spent to raise this temple.  

The intricate carvings

The temple was a visual treat for us. Serenity and charming appeal oozed out from each stone.  
I am the sure evening arti would have been a sheer delight as well. However we could not watch since it was still an hour and a half to start. 

Location- City Palace Complex, Udaipur
Distance from City Palace- 210 meters
Distance from Bagore ki Haveli- 220 meters   

The next tourist attraction was Bagore ki Haveli, at a short walking distance from Jagdish Temple.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Enchanting Mount Abu

Mount Abu is one of the most beautiful and enthralling cities in Rajasthan that offers you adventure and relaxation at the same time. Surrounded by surreal hills and abundance of natural beauty, this quiet little hill station is a favorite spot for honey moon couples or short vacations with family. Located 163 km from Udaipur and 233 km from Gujrat, Mount Abu has a mixed culture influence of Rajasthan and Gujarat both. Here are few tips and must do’s while planning a trip to Mount Abu. 
1.        1. Don't miss the sun rise- Mount Abu is known for its spectacular sunrise. Usually it’s the other way round that people like sunsets. But here for me the experience was different. 


Hotel Udaigarh Heritage Retreat

Our hotel Udaigarh Heritage Retreat was located on an elevated  road which gave us a nice vantage point. The rocky hill right outside the balcony where we stood upon, was a perfect location to click sunrise. Oh boy! I am speechless. The pleasant October weather makes it the most recommended time to visit Mount Abu. The chill in the air caresses you gently as you watch the Sun rise behind the mountains and paint the sky in golden hues.

   2.   Rent a bike- The best mode of transport in Mount Abu is rented vehicle. Bikes are rented at Rs 300 per day and Cars around Rs 500-1000. From authorised agents to pan waalas, almost all shop keepers rent two wheelers. From Honda Activa to Bajaj Pulsar, they have it all. They keep your DL as security while you enjoy the day out on two wheelers. In case your two-wheeler breaks down or troubles you, the shop keeper would be just a call away. The authorized agents might just refuse to rent bikes in the middle of the day and say that booking a bike should be done at 8 am only. However, walk a little further and every shop keeper will ask if you need a bike. Make sure you fill the tank with petrol. (Ofcourse you pay for it). Since Mount Abu is a small place, sightseeing on two-wheeler is most suggested here. All you need is a DL. 

3.       3.  Do visit Dilwara Jain Temples- The 1000 year old temple can put Taj Mahal to shame! It is gorgeous. Every nook and corner boasts of architectural prodigies. Built on marbles, the temple is dedicated to Jain Gods and leaders. The whole premises houses a cluster of temples built in different eras. The main complex has temple with sculptors of Jain Gods in a row. Few enclosures have preserved aesthetics from ancient times that were excavated. The temple premises is open to public 12 noon to 5 pm. Camera and mobile phones are not allowed inside. Perhaps that’s the only turn off where you wish for a camera! The priests would tour you through the temples narrating the history and facts of temple.

The temple is run by the local governing bodies with Jain clan, and not under ASI, hence has minimum renovation or commercialization. Run solely on charity, the temple is still intact the priests would ask for voluntary donation for maintenance of temple. Guests do not mind shelling out some money for the noble place. The comparison of TajMahal and Jain Temples by the priest bears a testimony to the fact of the latter’s unmatched beauty and exquisiteness. 

   4.  Nakki Lake, Sunset Point – The lake draws a lot of crowd since this is only lake and is highly commercialized. Not only boat men, but small time vendors around the lake also earn well owing to huge footfall. From eating stalls and magic shows to toys for kids and fish food, you will find everything here.

Sunset point, not very far from Nakki Lake is a hotspot every evening. As the name suggests, this place is to view the setting sun behind the mountains. You can ride upto the parking spot beyond which no vehicles are allowed. You either walk, mount a horse back or hop onto a manual cart which they call helicopter. The kilometre long road is steep and tests your endurance big time.  Once you reach the spot, take a flight of stairs to a hilly area. That is Sunset point where Sun seems to be close and you soak in its warmth. Mind you, the place would be very warm during summers. We could escape the heat because of the pleasant weather. 


The place is overcrowded and littered. Don’t expect peaceful or undisturbed ambiance here. The serenity is only in the sky when the Sun changes its position.  

   5.  Trevors Tank- This place is for the adventure lovers and wildlife junkies. Trevor’s Tank is a breeding lake for crocodiles in the middle of a forest. Spooky enough? I don’t know why is it called a tank!

     It’s a lake and the crocs do come out for breakfast. Pay 30 INR per person as entrance fees, another 30 for the two wheeler and ride into wilderness. The bumpy, broken, raw road running through the forest is a little more than a kilometer. You gotta be really careful while driving on this road! I was scared of carnivores waiting to prey on us. 

Entrance to the sanctuary

Entrance to the view point for lake

Lake view point

The silence of the forest is deadly.  After the kilometer ride, park your two-wheeler at the lake entrance. Watch fish and occasionally crocs in the murky water. The care taker of the area revealed there are five crocs in the lake and they are visible during morning when they are fed. Damn! We were late to reaching there? The place turned noisy with people coming in and the chances of spotting crocs turned bleak. Obviously, more the noise, more the reptiles avoid showing up. Only a single croc was visible at quite a distance basking in the Sun. Meanwhile as we consoled ourselves watching beautiful fishes and enjoying cool forest breeze, a large croc suddenly appeared in the water, getting people excited. Looked like it hated the paparazzi and quickly disappeared under water.

Vantage Point

There is a nice vantage point built on a hill in the forest. Only the strong hearted can go there seriously.

Vantage Point

 The isolated staircase shadowed by overgrown trees is frequented by langurs. Usually they never harm you, but you can never rely on wild animals’ instinct. While husband went to the edge of the vantage point to take pictures of the lake and the croc, I stood far behind him on a raised platform taking panoramic shots. My heart skipped a beat when I turned around and saw two mongoose like creatures on the stairs. Thankfully they crept away before I could react. Gosh, I cursed my adrenaline rush. What if a panther or big cat suddenly attacked us? We were no way prepared! I urged husband to leave the place after the goosebumps moments. 

There are tourist places in Mount Abu like Guru Shikar,  which we gave a miss. Guru Shikahr is 18km away from Mount Abu. Its hill top with a solar observatory (not open for public). The thought of travelling that far to a hill top did not excite us, hence we let it pass. You can visit places like Peace Park, Bramhakumari Ashram, Adhar Devi Temple as well. 

Essential tips for Mount Abu - 
-Always carry something warm. Remember this is a hill station and weather turns chilly during evenings. 
-Dont miss the super delicious daal baati churma and bajre ki moti roti. 
-In the market, gorge on warm kesar milk. It has less of sweet content and great aroma. 

-While renting two-wheelers, please wear helmets. Road safety is essential anywhere. 
-Mount Abu is a plastic free area. Respect the sanctity of the place for God's sake. 
-Beware! Mount Abu has a huge CRPF station. Any criminal activity or miscreants would not be spared. Our hotel was located opposite to the CRPF station.  
-When you enter Mount Abu, at the toll the private bus would charge Rs 10 per person as toll adding fifteen more minutes to the waiting time. Well that was upsetting. Wasn't toll supposed to be a part of the ticket fare? Plus something like should be collected from passengers in advance, not on the spot! 

P.S- My trip to Mount Abu was in October 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

With love from Lansdowne

Enroute Lansdowne from Kotdwar
Nested in the arms of Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, Lansdowne, the little hill station makes a great weekend destination. Founded by and named after Lord Lansdowne in 1887, this is a cantonment area housing the Garhwal Rifles command office. Situated approximately 1,700 above the sea level, this is said to be one of the quietest hill stations of India easily connected by motorable roads.
I had heard the name of Lansdowne long time ago from a friend who had frequented the place for short holidays. Seeing the beautiful images, my urge to visit Lansdowne grew by many folds till I got a chance in March 2016 during the long Holi weekend.

Where- In the Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. Lansdowne is the closest hill station from Delhi NCR.  

Distance and how to reach-
Lansdowne is located at a distance of 270 km from Delhi. One can drive to place easily, provided you leave early morning, saving yourself from traffic snarls that usually occur in Ghaziabad or Modinagar.

The route we took was Gurgaon-Ghaziabad- Modinagar- Meerut Bypass Road- Khatauli- Bijnor- Najibabad- Kotdwar- Lansdowne

No Volvo or train service is available to Lansdowne. You can hop into a local bus or jeep from Kotdwar to Lansdowne, if you want to use public transport.

The roads are good, only broken in few places. Khatauli to Kotdwar highway is smooth, without potholes. The only turn off would be the reckless cutting of trees on the way. (We noticed that on way back). Expect sharp turns on the hilly curvy roads from Kotdwar to Lansdowne. You ought to drive slow and carefully!
The whole driving distance may seem quite long until you reach Kotdwar and the sudden sight of mountains instantly would excite you.

In Lansdowne-
Since we reached on the day of Holi, all shops were closed and streets were crowded with locals playing colors and water. We were locked ourselves in the car to save ourselves and our camera from getting soaked. Surprisingly, no body threw colors or messed with us when we walked out of the car towards the hotel. In fact none of the visitors and tourists were smeared with colors or misbehaved with. Decent people all of them :-)

There was something about the place that kept us rejuvenated inspite of the long drive from Gurgaon. Was it the chill in the air, the neat & clean roads or the mesmerizing hills?
Shops re-opened post 3 pm and we dug into whatever food was available at the first shop in sight. You will NOT find many eating joints/ restaurant in Lansdowne, so you have to settle with the ones at Gandhi Chowk, though small tea stalls are available in lanes and inside the market place.

What to see-
Driving within the hill station, is not recommended for many reasons- You pollute the place, you don’t get to enjoy the beauty, you lose the opportunity to walk and connect with nature, you would never enjoy the weather. Being responsible and aware tourists, we decided to walk around and see the place. Barely a kilometers away, Bhulla Taal topped our must-see list. On the way, pine trees, spring flowers and beautiful nature kissed with warm sunshine greeted us. The peacefulness and serenity of the place is so relaxing. It was a pleasant break from the city hustle bustle.

Bhulla Taal is an artificial lake maintained by the Garhwal Rifles regiment. The neat and tidy place is surrounded by forests and an enclosure for rabbits & birds.

You can enjoy boating in the lake for 30 minutes at Rs. 80 per seat. Entry in the premises is charged at Rs 20 per person. Hubby enjoyed taking pictures of the lovely ducks while I soaked in some sun. A small souvenir shop run by the army wives welfare association in the premises gave me some time for shopping too. Gift items were a little over-priced there, yet I bought a sling bag for the sake of a small contribution to the army wives who lost their husbands in the line of duty.

After spending an hour and a half, we headed to Darwan Singh Museum, barely less than a kilometre from Gandhi Chowk and we chose to walk to it. Named after the Victoria Cross holder Naik Darwan Singh Negi, this museum was founded in 1983 with the rarest collection of Garhwal Rifles. It showcases artilleries, coins, swords, pictures and much more from pre-independence era to recent wars. The tour of the museum was a treat to eyes! One can spend a good one and half hours to re-visit the rich History. Hubby’s joys knew no bounds on seeing the rifles and heavy duty war weapons. The brave one who laid their lives for the country also have their names on the wall of fame. Taking pictures inside the museum is prohibited, so we settled with pictures outside in the flower garden and war memorial.

The plant that caught my eyes was Handrea, also known as Green Lotus, which is imported from Russia. The petals of the Handrea resembled rose petals and the plant itself resembles a closed lotus flower. Could not resist taking pictures of this beauty! The war memorial is next to the museum building in Parade Ground, entry to which is restricted for public.
Entry fee for Museum- Rs 60

War Memorial
Oaktown Flavor Restaurant

With deep thoughts of war and the fallen heroes, we left from the museum to Gandhi Chowk for lunch. Out of the few eating joints, this time we had lunch at Oaktown’s Flavour Restaurant. Lemonade followed by “Veg Handi” (Mixed vegetables) and hot tandoori roti made a fab lunch. Post walking quite a distance, we retired to our room and relaxed till evening.

Gandhi Chowk market peps up during evening with tourists and beautiful lights. You cannot indulge in handicrafts or clothes shopping since Lansdowne is not a commercialized place yet. However, the place has its own charm. Small tea stalls, regular grocery stores, little vegetable shops or bakery shops, every little store compels you to stop as you pass by. A walk after dinner around the Gandhi Chowk round-about is a must do for all. Shops start to close after 9pm. The streets are safe even during the wee hours. As we walked hand in hand, soaking in the stunning full moon light and pleasant air, the romantic night grew deeper, quieter and more beautiful.

Tip in Top-

Also known as Tiffin Top by the localites, is a vantage point (literally) from where you see the Lansdowne town. It is a picnic spot fringed by cottages and thick pine forest. There is nothing much to do here apart from taking selfies or pictures of sunrise/sunset. I befriended a lab there, so my visit was worth it. hehe.

On the way back, you can visit St Mary’s Church. An old church against rustic backdrop and beautiful trees. The church is open only on Saturday and Sunday.

Tarakeshwar Temple- About 40 kilometers away from Lansdowne, this temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is much talked about and visited. The curvy roads are very sharp and bumpy in many places. Advisable not to drive on your own. We hired a taxi. Local shopkeepers offer taxi services at Rs 1200 for a round trip. Since we pooled in with two more passengers, we were charged Rs.600 only. It took us a little more than an hour to reach Tarakeshwar Temple. A long ride on the curvy roads made us giddy. Call it motion sickness or inertia of motion, we could not stand still for some time after de-boarding the cab.

The downhill trek

The down-hill walk towards the temple was around 800 meters, which is isolated and feels eerie at times. 

Trishul shaped Tree Top
The moment you see the temple, you enter a totally different frame of mind. An array of bells chiming in the air reverberates your soul with a positive energy. Surrounding forests, no shops, no garbage, chirping birds- all will make you feel the presence of a strong heavenly force. May be it’s the forest gods and Lansdowne locals have worked hard in protecting them!

Among the tall pine and oak trees with the backdrop of lush green ground, you will spot a tree top in the shape of a trishul. This tree is said to be God’s own tree and is worshiped in the temple.

Post the temple visit we spent time in the woods wrapping ourselves with Nature's beauty. Such greenery is a rare luxury in cities. 

A good time spent and we returned after an hour at the temple. The journey was worth it.

Do’s and Don’ts in Lansdowne-  

-Since Lansdowne is maintained by the Cantt board, it is not a commercialized place, hence leaving you with fewer activities to indulge in. Visit the place only if you want some peaceful time and if you love nature. Two nights are more than enough to spend in Lansdowne.

-Weather changes at the drop of a hat. Be prepared for sudden winds or rains. Carry a jacket or shawl even during summers.

-Consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Lansdowne. So if you plan to behave like a drunk hooligan, you will land up paying a penalty.

-The whole town is neat and clean. Polythene or plastic is strictly banned and people follow it diligently. Kindly do not litter the place. As a responsible tourist, you never should. Respect the sanctity and rules of the place. Garhwal Rifles has worked very hard to maintain the forests, reduce pollution, and conserve wildlife for which they have been duly recognized. Let’s contribute in our own way, and this will help in our survival. Saw a strong message on a wall there, questioning people on their recklessness.

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