Munching on a special bhel near the Lumbini bus stand, I was irked by the strong taste of mustard oil in it and was also preparing myself to travel in a jam-packed bus to Kathmandu. And at the back of my mind, I was praying God to send a lady passenger in the next seat so that I can have a peaceful sleep without much worry. Though, Nepal is quite safe when it comes to solo female travel no matter which country you are from, what you are wearing.
“ I arranged girl sit with girl sit, ok mam?” a person in charge informed us in ‘his’ English and did this without even asking for it ! (God really listens? Hahah) Read more
While devouring the inordinate tranquility in the Buddhist Town of Shravasti, a Srilankan coupled created enough excitement for me to visit Lumbini. I was just a few kilometers away from Nepal border and had no plan of crossing it. But the destiny had different plans. The only train moving to Gorakhpur from Shravasti was delayed by 5 hours and there was no chance I could reach Kushinagar before midnight.
And thus was born an impromptu plan to visit Nepal. Considering that I had no internationally valid ID proof, I was a bit skeptical about the entry. After reaching Nautanwa, I took an auto to reach the border and realised that it wasn’t really a border but looked more like a busy crossroad near Bhindi Bazaar in Mumbai. Read more
Shekhawati Region of Rajasthan has recently come to tourist limelight for its opulent havelis and open air art galleries. The distinctive feature of the art is the frescoes that have remained untouched from the brutality of nature and lack of maintenance. Another interesting fact is that the Marwari, Jain or Shekhawati merchants who dealt in business of opium and spices, are no longer the owners of their lavish creation. Once they shifted to the big cities like Bombay and Kolkata , their havelis were left in hands of the caretaker’s family or were just left abandoned. The life of these caretakers took a dramatic turn after the new property laws post India’s independence. They were given the ownership of these havelis.
This ‘Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu’ is also the capital of art and literature of Tamil Nadu that was nourished even under the rule of Marathas and the British. The sweet smiling people of the city add to the beauty of the city along with colourful dancing dolls and shining Thanjavur paintings. This city proves to be a perfect destination for an art and architecture lover and for an explorer in search of a new haunt. It is said to have been named after a demon named “Tanoj”, who wished the town to be named after him. Reaching to this city is quite easy from any main town of Tamil Nadu. There are many amazing places to see in Thanjavur. Read more
It is said that if you want to explore the traditional cultural of Rajasthan, head straightaway to Jaisalmer. And this indeed is the best advice. The city of Jaisalmer has successfully preserved and revived its traditional art and culture. The colourful Bandhani Lahengas, paghdis (turbans), most expressive puppets and tinkling ornaments, make this a cultural paradise. There can never be enough description about the architecture on this city that has a magic to leave each one awestruck. Here is the list of things to do in Jaisalmer, so that you don’t miss out the best part of it. Read more
Nasik isn’t on the list of many travellers, but during monsoons, this city exhibits its beautiful form and the blooming flowers, lush green surroundings and the gushing river are a treat to the eyes.
It is around 34 km away from Nasik city and is one of the 12 jyotirlings located across India. The shivling here is unique one with three stones denoting Shiva, Vishnu and Godavari. And thus the Name, Trambakeshwar. The was renovated during the rule of Peshwas. The architecture has the influence of Maratha Style of Architecture.
If you are staying in the city of have reached early morning, you can take a sharing auto from highway (where most of the private travels drop you) till the city bust stand which is just at a 3 km distance. It would cost you onlt Rs. 15 till the bus stand.
The first bus plies as early as 4:30 am. It is advisable to take the first bus itself as the temple becomes very much crowded at any time during the day. The temple is at 2 minutes distance from the bus stop in Tramkeshwar. The temple opens at 5:30 am when you can peacefully enter the temple without any rush and ask the pandit a few questions about the temple. The security is not so strict at such an early time and thus you might also get lucky to click a few pictures which is not allowed otherwise. But be aware of the cameras around.
The temple is a beautiful construction in black stone just like other jyotirlingas in Maharashtra. There is an unusual construction of a huge turtle in the outer sanctum. The shivlinga is inside a pit and is hardly visible directly from the place from where you are supposed to pray the God. The linga can be seen properly in the mirror located at the top of it.
Dadasaheb Falke Memorial
It is located beside a water park which opens by 10 am. But it is advisable to visit this place early.
The memorial showcases the old iconic photos of the films of Dadasaheb Falke, the founder of bollywood film industry. If you are not a great movie lover then you can just skip this place
At the entrance of the Dadasaheb Memorial is a small prayer hall inside which is a tall statue of Lord Buddha which must not be missed. The statue is one of its kind as it is made up of five elements (Panch Mahabhoota). The statue is a mixture of a few alloys and also contains gold. It is really peaceful to be at this place. The echo of any noise inside the hall will leave the vibrations in your ear drums for a very long time.
Pandav Leni: (Pandava Caves)
It supposed to have occupied by Pandavas during their exile in disguise. The caves are visible from the Buddh Smarak. It is around an 45 minutes climb to reach the caves. There isn’t much carving in the caves as it was purely used for a stay purpose. Due to some illegal activities inside the caves , it has been locked by the local police. The visitors have to see through the grills / doors. If you are not much interested in it, this place can be skipped as it consumes much of your time.
This place has a series of temple through the lane. It is said that Ram, Laxman and Seeta stayed in a cottage in Panchvati, the region of five banyan trees.
Kaala Ram Temple:
The journey starts with the first temple, i.e. Kaala Ram Temple. The temple is named so, as all the idols in this temple are made from the black stones derived from Ramshej Hill, where Lord Ram is supposed to have stayed. Opposite to the three idols of Ram, Sita and Laxman across the Hall of 40 pillars is the idol of Lord Hanuman facing the three idols. The construction of the temple was completed in duration of 42 years. Just beside the Kaala Ram Temple is a small temple of Sitala Mata and behind it, a chariot is placed which is used during processions.
Sita Gumpha (cave):
It is a narrow underground gauge where Sita mata used to live and pray. You need to crawl and enter the cave where the idols of Ram, Laxman and Sita are kept. Further ahead in the cave is also a Shivling which is placed recently by the devotees.
The Five Banyan Trees: (Panch Vat)
Out side the Sita Gumpha you will see the five banyan trees which are said to have been planted by Lord Ram. The real trees might have been cut as the current trees seem to have been planted very recently. The trees are also numbered.
Maarich vadh room:
Opposite Sita Gumpha is the dramatic presentation of the killing of the demon named Marich by Lord Ram.
It is a temple of Lord Shiva ( The lord of skulls) and is believed to be a sub-jyotirlinga. This makes the temple important for the devotees.
At the end of the lane, in the river bed of Godavari, was the bathing place of Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita. Thus, this place became auspicious and the remains of the dead people are flowed here for the peace of the dead’s soul. The kund has been recently renovated for better bathing. It is not advisable to take bath here unless you have faith in the story and the God, as the water is quite unhygienic with so many people bathing in still water.
It is a small temple with the idols of Pashupatinath (Lord Shiva), Nar-NArayan, Virat Darshan and and a Shivlinga. The entrance of the temple is quite interesting with the sculptures of chariot of the Sun God, Saptashringi Maata and Lord Ganesh.
The Ved School: Kailash Math
Right beside Bhaktidham temple is a unique school where the children learn the ancient text of Vedas. If you are keen to get more knowledge, you can go inside for some inquiry and if allowed, you can also converse with children studying mainly ‘Yajurved’, the one which contains shlokas for rituals.
Further you can move to Tapovan, the place where Lakshman meditated on the bank of river Godavari. It is the same place where, attracted by the beauty and charm of Lakshman, Surpankha (the sister id Ravan) proposed Lakshman. On refusal of the proposal Surpankha tried to attack Ram-Lakshman out of anger. But, Lakshman punished her by cutting her nose (Nasika in Sanskrit). And, thus the city derived its name ‘Nasik’ after this mythological incident.
The temple of Lord Lakshman is rarely found in India. Thus, this temple is a rare one where you can see Lakshman in Meditating pose.
In front of the temple is a beautiful ghaat on the bank of the river Godavri which looks very beautiful during monsoons, with the river flowing from over the bridges.
It is more famous as a picnic spot among the locals. The place is quite cool with lush green tall trees on the bank of river Godavari. The water is a little deep and hence boating activity can be enjoyed here. Just sitting on the stairs to the bank gives you peace of mind.
There are a few ways by which you can explore the city:
The Government run Nashik Darshan bus is a good option for sightseeing. But the major drawback is you will have to stick to the timings specified by the bus driver. And you might be asked to skip 1-2 places depending on the availability of time. If there are only a few no. of people in the bus then the journey completes quite faster. If you are travelling solo or a couple then the bus is a cheaper option for you. The bus plies everyday from old Nasik Bus Stop.
Time: Reporting and ticket – 7:30 am , leaves by 8:00 am
Ticket: 180 per person
Sharing taxis and autos are available from the bus stop. It is the best option if you are in a large group. After bargaining for a decent price you can choose to hire an auto or a cab for the whole day.
Minimum charge: 800-1000 for all the mentioned places (They might also charge per person)
If you do not mind spending a little more, you can opt for a private cab/auto, which would take you to the places of your choice.
The moment we hear the name ‘Udupi’ , the spiritual town and image pops up in the display screen of our mind and at the same time our foody mind scrolls through all the possible images of Udupi sambhar, vada , idli and dosa. But this little town has one more image of it to show you, the vast blue image of it.
A few of the beaches in this town are as beautiful as the beaches in the islands of Andaman. Unlike the beaches of Goa and other famous tourist towns, the beaches here are clean and well maintained. Infact, while in Goa, I totally avoided the crowded beaches and instead opted for the exploration of Museums, spiceplantation, Portuguese colonies and the temples of Goa.
But Udupi, was altogether a different experience. Read more
Famously known as ‘Little Lhasa’ of Himachal Pradesh, Mcleodganj is a favourite haunt of the travelers, explorers, riders and trekkers. It is mainly famous for its Buddhist temples and the abode of the great Dalai Lama. Located in the lap of Dhauladhar range of Himalayas, it has a great view of snow capped mountains standing like a guard over it. But maximum travelers who rush to this place without research, run short of places to be visited and things to do in Mcleodganj. And hence, I decided to put up a complete guide of all interesting things to do in and around Mcleodganj based on my exploration on a solo trip to this quaint place. Read more
Plan a trip for your inquisitive mind to the historic city Aurangabad, famous for its vicinity to the famous World Heritage Sites of Ajanta Ellora Caves. This city has a lot to offer to History and Architecture lovers. It is quite hustle free especially during off seasons. It’s a favourite weekend destination for the people of Maharashtra (especially Mumbaikars), Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. People visiting India from other countries also include it in their exploration list. Read more
This Royal City of south is not all about its marvelous palace but it also bewilders its visitors with its variety of natural and cultural marvels. The city had once been the capital of the Wodeyar and now is a paradise for the explorers and architecture lovers. The city is also surrounded by some interesting places like Shravanbelagola, Gopalaswami Betta and even a famous tiger sanctuary of Bandipur is located just at a distance of a few kilometres. The best time to visit is in winter (September –February) that includes the extravagant state festival of Dussera.
Follow this guide and explore the astonishing wonders of this city: Read more