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We have a great news to share with you all. We have got a new addition in our family.

Welcome VEDA…Our little warrior !!

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Read our story here. 

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Photo: Mughal Garden & Sheesh Mahal, Amer Fort

 

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20 Things to do in Leh-Ladakh

Indian Bloggers

Travel far enough, you meet yourself..

Travel is life changing affair..True !!! Our trip to Leh-Ladakh changed our perspective towards travel forever. It was in month of July 2012 ,we headed towards Himalayas and rediscovered the true beauty of nature in its diverse form.

We spent 9 days in Ladakh exploring Buddhist culture & heritage, experiencing varied landscapes, passing by high altitudes & eating thupkas and momos.

Here are things to do in Leh-Ladakh:

  1. Experience Peace & Serenity with Scenic view at Shanti Stupa–  White domed stupa situated on top of the hill offers breathtaking panoramic view of city. Built in 1991, Shanti stupa symbolizes peace and harmony & is one of the major attraction in Leh.  IMAG0558IMAG0566.jpg
  2. Discover 39ft Shakyamuni Buddha in Shey Monastery-Once the capital of Ladakh, Shey now holds ruined palace and a monastery known as Shey Monastery, originally built in 1655. Make a visit to experience “Shey” era &  39ft Shakyamuni Buddha gold-plated copper statue placed in monastery.078
  3. Visit Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh- Thiksey Monastery is associated with Gelug and one of the prime monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh. Located at 11800 ft, this monastery has 12 storeys which includes assembly hall, temples, nunnery, Maitreya Buddha statue & is home for more than a hundred monks063047.JPG
  4. Must see the wealthiest monastery- Hemis Monastery situated 45 km away from the main city has been in existence before 11th century and was re-established by King Singay Namgyal in 17th century, it holds copper statues of Buddha, Stupas of gold and silver as well as holy thangkas. One should not miss the extravagant Hemis festival in month of July, which we did sadly.029.JPG019.JPG
  5. Spend time in Lamayuru Monastery-Located on Srinagar-Leh highway, with stunning landscape this should be on your list for sure. With its existence dating back in 11th century this cave monastery(one of a kind), leads the way to 50 monasteries in the lower Ladakh.089080
  6. Visit Alchi for exquisite artwork –  Known as Alchi Choskhor, the monastic complex has detailed wood carvings and artistic wall paintings. An ideal place for art lovers, but no photography is allowed inside the monastery. As it is dark inside one should carry flashlight with him/her. alchi
  7. Confluence of Indus & Zanskar river- It sounded surreal to us before witnessing the two colored confluence of Indus and Zanskar river. The picturesque sangam is one of the best experience of our trip, still fresh in our memories. 164.JPG
  8. Experience Moonland landscape in Lamayuru- When we reached Moonland ,it took us a while to come around the fact that this place actually exist !!!! Located on NH1-D, jaw dropping landscape gives an impression of some other planet as it resembles moon like surface due to it’s peculiar terrain.  106
  9. Strange but worth a try-We did tried this, putting our car in neutral, it feels car is pulled uphill by Magnetic Hill, which is believed to defy gravity. Scientific or not, reality or illusion…it’s an interesting place you come across with. 170
  10. Stop by Gurudwara Pathar Sahib25 miles away from Leh, this Gurudwara stands at the spot where Guru Nanak tamed a mighty demon, who tried to crush him by rolling a boulder(big rock) downhill, while he was meditating. It is believed that the rock softened without hurting Guru Nanak. Sacred rock can be seen inside the Gurudwara with the impression of Guru Nanak’s back.gurudwar
  11. Drive through highest motorable road Khardung La We started feeling amazed by snow covered mountains all around us in the month of July while heading towards Khardung La. The road conditions are not the best but Army and Border Road Organisation try to keep the pass accessible. It was a pride moment for us to be at Khardung La as it’s a once in a lifetime experience. Don’t forget to have black tea & Maggi at Rinchen Cafeteria. IMAG0684.jpg
  12. Make a stop at Chang La PassLiteral meaning ‘A pass in the south’, known for it’s great height lies on the way to Pangong Lake. Special pass is required to get through, as China is in close proximity. Enjoy a cup of tea in mighty Chang La in bone chilling wind. 239.JPG241.JPG
  13. Contemplate the clear blue water lake Pangong TsoLocated in vicinity where it is least expected, Pangong Tso is 134 kms long with 1/3rd part in India & 2/3rd in China, spreading across 3 countries India, China and Tibet. After a good 5 hrs drive and moving through rough roads and barren lands, we got a glimpse of lake getting through the last mountain. This blue water lake is serene & heavenly. Couple of hours spend there, we were hypnotized by the mere fact of its existence.200196
  14. Camel Safari in Nubra Valley- We have never heard of sand dunes in Ladakh before our visit, and Camel Safari just bewildered us (specially me). A short ride on double humped Bactrian Camel should be a definite on your itinerary. 312328
  15. Kali Mata templeGoddess Kali temple located on hilltop near the airport, gives another aspect of the cultural diversity. It is advisable to admire the view & spend some time in tranquility. 188190
  16. Enjoy coffee next to Druk School from “3 idiots”With 3 idiots, Druk White Lotus School gained popularity (school shown in last part of movie), now a tourist spot with a cafe named Rancho’s Coffee Shop. Have a coffee and take a walk around the school. 066.JPG
  17. Book a cottage Planning your visit to Leh-Ladakh?  Apart from visiting major tourist attractions, book a cottage in Nubra Valley or Ulleytokpo on the bank of Indus to inhabit with nature .116.JPG
  18. Meet locals and make friends–  People of Ladakh are very generous and friendly.  What we learnt from our trip. “Life is about meeting new people & the things you create with them”. Leh-Ladakh will leave you mesmerized in many ways for sure, but one thing we still cherish about, our little poser friends from Ulleytokpo, Thiksey and Pangong. The moment they saw camera with us, they started posing. Finally we became friends by exchanging the only word they knew..JULEY !
  19. Take time-off with nature Travelling and exploring the unparalleled beauty of Ladakh might be tiring. Try to take some time-off to re-energize. While staying in Ulleytokpo we spent our day on the bank of Indus river, watching mountains and rejuvenating ourselves for the remaining trip. ban of
  20. Capture MomentsLast but must.. Take pictures, Make memories and be a storyteller !!!

     

Photo Blog: Chandigarh-Bikaner-Delhi Road Trip

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Junagarh Fort- Grandeur of Bikaner

As 2015 is bidding adieu, reminding us our first road trip of the year in January. Its going to be an year since we visited Junagarh Fort Bikaner, an unplanned detour while we were on our way back to Delhi from Chandigarh after New year celebration with family. We did all bookings on the go and fortunately got a good deal via Makemytrip.

Junagarh Fort means the old fort, so called after the Royal family moved their residence to Lalgarh Palace. The fort standing since 1594, is a significance of Royal culture and marvelous architecture. This fort was originally build by Raja Rai Singh Ji and at that point it was called Chintamani, build between 1589 to 1593. There have been lots of additions over centuries under reign of many kings, which has resulted in many palaces, museums, temples and gardens.IMG_1515

At entrance Sati Handprints can be seen which are of the women who offered themselves to fire after their husbands died saving the fort.IMG_1510

The beautiful doors in the fort are build out of walnut wood from Kashmir with astonishing carvings. Also can be seen the big silver door weighing 65Kg, while entering towards courtyard after Karan Mahal.


KARAN MAHAL (Public Audience Hall) was planned in reign of Maharaja Karani Singhji and constructed under Maharaja Anup Singhji in memory of his father. A finest example of Mughal style architecture and extensive use of white marble.

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PHOOL MAHAL This is the oldest part of the fort constructed under Raja Rai Singhji. The decorations and artwork in this part is mostly inspired by the Jahangirian period.

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ANUP MAHAL (Private Council) Build by Maharaja Anup Singh this hall has a throne in the middle, which was used by Maharaja to meet high officials and foreign visitors. When we look around the throne it has golden work all over with mirrors beautifully engraved, elevated by splendid use of colors like green, violet purple. One look at this place keeps you spellbound for a while. This hall played the same role as Diwan-I-Khas in Mughal Forts.IMG_1552.JPG

BADAL MAHAL As per its name this hall explains importance of rain in this dried arid land. On roof there are blue and white clouds depicting rainy time.

GAJ MANDIR Build by Maharaja Gaj Singhji along with his two favorite queens, this hall has all lavishness, architectural and decorative arts of its time. Looking at the detailing of floral artwork and use of marble, this is more of a fairy world in itself.

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DUNGAR NIWAS Maharaja Dungar Singhji, who is better known as modernizer of Bikaner built this hall. This hall as others has many architectural exquisite and artwork details, but what put this on a different level is the Lift…Yes! In 1886 he imparted electricity to Bikaner city.

DURBAR HALL also known as Ganga Durbar Hall was build by Maharaja Ganga Singh. It has beautiful pink walls and on side displays are weapons and protective clothes of war times. The heirloom (sandalwood throne) seen in Darbar hall is said to be one which was brought to Bikaner by Rao Bikaji, being elder son from Jodhpur (Mehrangarh fort) after his father Rao Jodha ji died.

Vikram Villas The only one not after any dynastical ruler, this is named after King Vikramaditya, known for his justice. This one house mainly war souvenirs, palkis, awards, throne and a plane in middle: WWI De Havilland DH-9 biplane bomber.

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Shiv Temple

We consider this our best trip till date, as we didn’t had a lot in our list, but what we got was the best scenic drives between Chandigarh to Bikaner and then Bikaner to Delhi.

Travel Tips:

  • Junagarh Fort Timings: 10: 00 AM to 4:30 PM .
  • Free public guide to get more familiar with the fort and its history.
  • Must visit Kote Gate, it’s over crowded whole day but very popular for shopping Rajasthani art and craft material.
  • Prefer local transport in main Bikaner city, driving is not advisable for outsiders due to heavy rush.
  • Must try  Kachoris and Ghewar at “Chotu Motu Joshi Sweet Shop”, Station Rd. 
  • Bhujia from “Bhikaram Chandmal Bhujiamal”, Kote Gate, Bikaner, Rajasthan.

Photos: Southern most end of India..

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Agra Fort-An Epitome Of Mughal Architecture

A visit to Agra is incomplete without Agra Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage monument. Situated on the bank of Yamuna river,this fort had confronted many invasions and ruins. Originally, there was a brick fort known as Badalgarh built by Raja Badal Singh at the place of Agra Fort.

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Agra Fort-Entrance

This fort has been known to be home of many famous rulers like Lodi’s, Suri’s and Mughal’s. The marvel we see today is the great work that happened in reign of Akbar who rebuild it from a brick fort to red sandstone one . When Shah Jahan,grandson of Akbar came into power he preferred Marble instead of red sandstone, so the exquisite work of white marble inside the fort shows his sheer love towards it.

Inside the fort there are many buildings one after the other like Diwan-I-am, Diwan-i-Khas, Khas mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Shah Jahani Mahal, Jahangiri Mahal, Anguri Bagh and Musamman Burj depicts glorious Mughal Era.

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Diwan-I-Am

 

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Anguri Bagh

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Musamman Burj was build by Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. He was confined to this place by his son Aurangzeb for 8 years and was taken care by his daughter Jahanara Begum. He spend his last days in this burj over viewing Taj Mahal.

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Musamman Burj- Interior

Most remarkable building inside fort is Jahangiri Mahal, built by Akbar. It was the principal Zenana (palace for Royal women), mainly used by the Rajput wives of Akbar.

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Jahangiri Mahal
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Jahangiri Mahal Courtyard

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Courtyard outside of Jahangiri Mahal
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Jahangir’s Hauz
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Inscription on Jahangir’s Hauz

Agra Fort is a perfect example of a dynasty with glorious past,their succession & love for architecture…!!!!

Interesting Facts about “Taj Mahal”

Agra, a city known for its cultural heritage, Mughal Architecture,food delicacies and one of the seven wonders of the world.

Taj Mahal, a world class monument of love built by ShahJahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It was on our list for long to visit this magnificent piece of art.IMG_0338

As a Delhiite,it became more easier for us with Yamuna expressway, a straight 165 km 6 lanes highway to make it happen.
We made our trip in peak of summer that’s why we decided to visit this monument early in the morning around 6 a.m. After reaching at the parking of Southern gate from there onward we had tuktuk ride (you can also opt for horse cart or camel cart). We opted for government approved tourist guide who provided minute details.

Entrance Fee –Indian Rs. 20/-, Foreign tourist Rs.750/-

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Here are some interesting facts we came to know through our guide:

Aayats of Quran

This 17th Century monument depicts the best of Mughal style architecture. The most striking feature of monument is the Arabic inscriptions written in black marble on Royal Gate and main mausoleum entrance. The Aayats of Quran, are so written that they look alike but actually their size increases from bottom to top. IMG_0325

Domes represent years of completion

There are 22 domes (11 on both inner and outer side of Royal Gate), signifying the number of years taken to complete it.IMG_0274

Astonishing Symmetry with one exception

Amazingly, all fountains were placed in symmetry with center line of Taj Mahal, even inside the Mausoleum Mumtaz Mahal’s grave is aligned to it. Only the grave of Shahjahan which is quite big compared to Mumtaz Mahal’s, is asymmetrical(as it was placed later on). I wonder, without any technology and equipment putting everything symmetrical be it gardens, trees, floor-tiles pattern and fountains. IMG_0348

Artistic “Charbagh” enhance the beauty of Taj

Moving on there are 16 gardens 8 on both sides of fountains and each of same size, gives the best panoramic view, even today it could not have been bettered out.IMG_0321

Mosque & Jawab- An Architectural Equilibrium

Firstly, a mosque on the west was built and then an identical building called Jawab on east side of main dome, just not to break the symmetry. IMG_0317

Tilted Pillars

How many of you have noticed that four pillars of Taj are tilted outwards?  Actually, the pillars are not perpendicular to the ground but leaning outwards so that the main dome will not get affected even if they fall due to any natural calamity. What an architectural vision !!!

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Yamuna river flowing back of Taj

We have just presented what we had captured from our visit, as it has been spoken and detailed out a lot everywhere and believe us getting a glimpse of this is more than words could explain.

We would love to know your experience with Taj Mahal in comments.

Let’s Take A Road Trip To Mount Abu..

We have been fond of Rajasthan and for some reason the magic has never ended, so last year we took a vacation trip to the most famous hill station in Aravalli Range, Mount Abu to take a break from  scorching heat of Delhi.

Mount Abu,highly admired by the tourists as the only hill station in Rajasthan, shares the border with Gujarat. Not only as a tourist spot Mount Abu is also recognized for its religious values. It’s almost 800 kms from Delhi, so driving down in a go with traffic in summers was too tough. We needed a stopover, as we had already paid couple of visits to Jaipur, we opted for Pushkar which is nearly 500 kms and famous for having the only temple of Lord Brahma.

We are not really morning people but we prefer to start our journey early in the morning. Also as we gathered information about route we came to know that the Delhi-Ajmer highway (NH 8) was broken in middle near Kotputli and we have to take the detour to State highway 25 . As we crossed Alwar and then through Sariska National Park via route 248A we joined back on NH 8. But well strech of 85 km(SH 248A) from Alwar to Shahpura was one of the worst driving experience on patch roads, abrupt speed breakers on a road where you cannot drive at more than 30 km/hour. Finally when we joined back on NH the rest 200 kms went by as an easy go.

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SH 25

IMG_0458Pushkar is a valley surrounded by hills on Ratnagiri in the south, Nilgiri in the north, Sanchoora in the west and Suryagiri in the east. As per the legend, Pushkar is the only pilgrimage of Lord Brahma which is result of curse of Savitri/Sarasvati, wife of Brahma. It so happened while Brahma was slewing demon Vajranabha, who was trying to kill Brahmas children and harrasing humans, 3 petals from his Lotus fell and created 3 ponds namely Jyeshta, Madhya and Kanishta(first, middle and youngest) Pushkar. Even the name of city is derived from this Pushpa(meaning Flower)+ Kar(meaning Hand)=PushKar.IMG_20140625_192106

 

IMG_20140626_081651Next morning we planned our journey further starting with Ajmer Shariff Dargah,the shrine of Sufi Saint Moinuddin Chishti. This dargah is very popular and mostly crowded to get enter inside, we made visit early in the morning around 6:30 am. If you are going there by your own vehicle or taxi then you have to pay Rs 100 parking per hour. Even at that early in the morning, there was too much of the rush. It took us an hour  for the visit.

After taking blessing from Khawaja Gharib Nawaz , we continued our journey on NH-8.

So, finally you can feel the zing of Rajasthan when you see people will bright and colorful turbans with herds of sheeps and camels passing by you every now and then.

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Till few kms ahead of Beawar we were having the good time enjoying the beautiful landscape unaware of the coming wrong turn !! We took a diversion from Sojat towards State Highway-62.

3.5 hours on a single road constructed in such a way that you will get shaken every now and then. Well, as been very optimistic we only concentrated on the brighter side that we will reach Pindwara very soon as it connects at NH 14. I started screaming like a kid as we merged onto NH-14.. What a relief !!!!  We were 65KM far from our destination, while heading towards the hills, we found our solace. Cool and fresh breeze welcomed us in Mount Abu..!!! We reached our hotel around 2:30pm, the bookings were already done so without any delays we took the keys and went for a nap.

Around 5 pm, we headed towards Nakki lake which was a five minutes drive from our Hotel on Mt Abu Rd. We parked our car and joined people walking towards the Nakki Lake.The first thing you will notice that Gujaratis outnumber everyone else. The way to the lake is through a lively market where you can find people enjoying shopping, local foods, crafts and ice creams.IMG_0558

Nakki Lake is the most famous attraction of Mt Abu offering boat rides and some spectacular view points,one of which is Toad Rock. It is a formation made of igneous rock placed on top of a hill overlooking the lake gives an impression of a toad about to jump into it.IMG_0692

It was time to tighten our shoes to climb up for the sunset point. After a ten minute tiring uphill walk, I can see the crowd climbing on rocks and waiting for the finale. We almost finished our popcorn but there was no sign of sunset as the clouds were ready to shield it. Fortunately, after the wait of an hour we got a glimpse of sun from blanket of clouds. I must say this place is worth a visit for its breathtaking view.IMG_0599IMG_0585

Next morning in Mount Abu was quite chilling, I wasn’t expecting it in the month of June. We got ready and left to cover up our day-2 itinerary.  In market you can find number of stalls offering bread omlette, poha, dhokla for breakfast which are light on pocket.

After having poha for breakfast we geared up for Guru Shikhar. Do not forget to buy some fresh fruits like berries and mangoes on your way to the top.

IMG_0620Guru Shikhar is the highest peak on the mountain at 1,722 m (5,650 ft) above sea level & is 15 km far from the main city with a steep uphill drive. It was the home of Guru Dattatreya, an incarnation of the three Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Dattatreya is composed of two words Datta which means given and Atreya referring the sage Atri,his father. There is also a cave shrine of Guru Dattatreya and that’s how it got the name Guru Shikhar. It offers spectacular panoramic view of Aravalli hills and the town.IMG_0642

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After spending a good 30-40 minutes enjoying the views from top of the hill we dropped downwards to move on to our next stop Dilwara temples.
Dilwara temples, most acknowledged for their amazing artwork were built between 11th to 13th century AD. These are example of exquisite craftsmanship and stunning marble carvings. One can see minutely carved details over corridors, pillars and arches of the temple, which are simply amazing. A collection of 5 temples, Dilwara is a place to capture in memories only as no photography is allowed here.

As we left Dilwara we drove towards Nakki Lake and enjoyed the beautiful sunset sitting at lake shore.

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When it was dark we had our meal at Arbuda Restaurant,offering traditional Rajasthani & Gujarati food and ended the day with some shopping in the market..
Early next morning around 5:00 am we started our descend to the plains and saw the wonderful view of rising sun while we were still rowing around the hills.IMG_0709

We had learnt our lesson and so we decided to keep our tracks on National Highway. It was our longest one day drive covering nearly 800 kms in a go and well it sure was tiring. But we found that its pretty much doable, what you need is NH, couple of stopovers, good song collections, great navigator.

Our first long driving experience was wonderful ,share your story in the comments.