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

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:

Trains are also available from various stations of Delhi till Mathura Junction and Mathura Cant.
Check the website for trains’ schedule:
http://www.indianrail.gov.in/enquiry/TBIS/TrainBetweenImportantStations.html?locale=en



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-  https://sso.rajasthan.gov.in/signin

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).


SOME DO'S AND DONT'S 

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 https://mithunpic.blogspot.in/
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 https://mithunpic.blogspot.in/)
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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rohtang and Solang


Itinerary Day 2

ROHTANG


We had booked a cab for Rohtang from Govt authorised Hiamchal Taxi Operators Office a day prior to Rohtang visit. Advisable to book from authorized operators who charge reasonably and drive responsibly. To know what all we explored on first day, read here http://bit.ly/2uojHb3


Though we were a little disappointed on learning about the ban of snow activities, yet we were geared up for the next day trip to Rohtang Pass, 51 km from Manali. Since snow had not touched the lower hills, we did not rent snow dress, which otherwise is must have during heavy snowfall. Negotiate for your dress cost in the market, which may range from 200 to 500 INR per person. Do not rent from shacks just before Rohtang.



Snow clad hill tops, clouds in the way, lush greenery and beautiful waterfalls added sparkle to our journey. Apart from the fixed rate of Taxi, we additionally paid a toll tax of 50 rupees only. (No driver should charge you more than 50 INR for taxi ride). The entire route is maintained by BRO (Border Road organization). The curvy roads, at times bumpy and at times smooth, pass through village named Marhi, which is the last village before Rohtang. Advisable to buy eatables or have meals here, since there are no shops in the 15 km stretch till Rohtang. The village has a Tibetan Temple  which is a good place for photo opportunities Pic courtesy- Hubby :-)







As we touched Rohtang base, frozen winds hit our ears hard. We trekked towards the snow top braving the rocky steeps. Wear gripping shoes, warm clothes and do not carry heavy bag pack with you. As oxygen levels are low in mountains, you might feel dizzy, breathless or heaviness in chest. Its 14000 feet above sea level after all. Advisable to trek up slowly with short breaks in between. Do not forget to sip water in small quantity.



Snow falls up to a thickness of 12 feet in peak season, making it practically impossible to trek up. We were lucky enough to trek in off season with good visibility and comparatively warmer weather. Trekking tests your endurance and gives you an unforgettable lifetime experience. When you see the clouds playing hide &seek with the Sun, mount tops painted with snow, plush green hills disappearing in foggy blanket, herds of sheep grazing, massive Yaks walking past and vibrant hues of mountain plants, you start wondering how much nature has in abundance to offer, which we are ignorant of! The mesmerizing experience gives a shudder in your body. You feel as if you have discovered something, or substance of life. You suddenly want more; want to break free and carry on!  At least I felt so. While hubby faced a little difficulty in climbing up, he patiently went ahead, beyond his limit, just to accompany me. Such activities bonds people stronger, trust me!

Some distance from snow at Rohtang
We halted at multiple spots to catch our breath, sip water and watch the beauty around. It is out of the world. Every halt that we made felt like an eternity and we only wished time could stop. We relaxed, soaked in the warm sunshine, breathed in pure air and kept moving towards the zenith. Seeing the locals and other mountaineers trekking to the snow point, gives you a kick within. I wanted to go on, but stopped as higher altitude multiplies the risks. Also, hubby was tired pertaining to less oxygen level. He was almost out of breath.





For many, trekking down seems an easy task. However it is MORE difficult than what it looks like. While descending, your legs feel the force to control and balance the body. Applying brakes to legs is more painful and difficult hence. Only good shoes can save you in such case. Be careful while stepping on stones for they might be slippery. The risk rises during snowfall. Expert guidance is needed there.


I enjoyed the journey to and fro as much I loved the trek to the peak. The entire experience gave me a different perspective of life. Following are pictures that I took on the way to and back from Rohtang. 







Rohtang is an easy trek for beginners. One only needs to be alert and careful while trekking the mountain, especially when it snows. I finally ticked off Rohtang from my bucket list but do want to visit again. 

SOLANG

After a good 2.5 hours at Rohtang, we headed to Solang Valley, about 20 km from Rohtang. Had fun taking pictures among grazing sheep, colorful valleys till we reached a green pasture-land Solang Valley. Paragliding, Zorbing, snow scooters have been banned here as well. The only activity open was Ropeway Trolley Ride, which covers 3 km over a vast expanse of deodar and pine forests.





The view from the trolley is fantastic. However, each seat costs 500 INR, which I felt was a bit high.

Once you reach the hill top, take a relaxing break in nature’s arms. The beautiful velvety stretch of little flowers, tall trees and trimmed grass makes the trolley ticket price worth it.







It is picture perfect and beautiful beyond words. Little benches have been planted in the bays for people to unwind. If only rope-way would operate whole night, I would have spent the whole night there. Reluctantly we descended the rope-way, bidding goodbye to Solang.


The whole day trip left us refreshed and rejuvenated. We ended up with a stroll and late dinner on Mall Road, till we retired to the hotel room and crashed. This was on account of two days. To know about the third day, stay tuned for the next blog post. :-)