Travel Diaries

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Singha
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Travel Diaries

Post by Singha » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:18 am

i am back from a 11 day trip to udaipur, jaipur and delhi. will share my notes while its fresh. will share some pix in photography thread once i get a chance to crop and sharpen them a bit. I used a dual rig of a D90 + std telephoto d lens non vr and a D5100 + 55-200mm consumer zoom with vr. I found it convenient not having to swap lenses. each site had some shots worth taking at low zoom and some at high zoom, so dual rig works well with a good bag able to carry 2 bodies and a few lenses. i carried but never used by 50mm/f1.8D with the D90 as its tough to spend so much time on pix with family along. also 2 bodies leads to a lot of jealous looks from men at airline security like showing off 2 beautiful wives :P

Udaipur - there are two big lakes picchola and fateh sagar linked by a canal/small lakes. the water is clean and none throw garbage in it due to shared interest in tourism. the old city has markets, touristy shops, heritage hotels, and the huge city palace and new city is huge with planned areas and every bit a modern city. lot of educational sector.

day1 - we reached at noon via dilli - the airport is decent and went to small heritage hotel near this canal. prepaid taxi a bit expensive for 25km ride.
the old city area near picchola and the canal is hilly and really narrow roads which only bikes and autos can navigate. went to a dance performance of various state dances at a place called 'bagore ki haveli' in the evening and dinner at a lakeside place called 'khamba ghanni restaurant' which was quite good with gaddis and cushions on a terrace overlooking the lake with a garden inside.

day2 - we rented a large auto for the day and visited city palace, zoo and monsoon palace. city palace is privately owned by the current royal family head and is expensive like 250 pp and if you take taxi inside its 270 for parking (!) our auto slinked away outside. also it has a boat trip which we took which makes a circle of the lake and takes you to private island cum boutique hotel called Jagmandir. again a bit expensive but worth it to photo the city palace and the famous taj lake palace close up. on opp shore are a bevy of uber luxury hotels like oberoi udaivillas, leela, trident but boat does not approach that side. we took guide for the palace tour which is a long tour and involves a lot of climbing via zig zag narrow staircases a feature of rajasthan palaces. best to avoid the handicraft shops in palace as you get much cheaper in other parts of city and esp in jaipur (see below) though we did not know and purchased a few things in initial enthu.
zoo is in the forested foothills and best to go in the electric trolley that takes you near each enclosure. loved the wolves and foxes, bigger animals like lions, tigers, leopards, gharial, bears also there in large open enclosures.
then we took a ride in govt jeep to monsoon palace sajjan garh up on a high hill that has panoramic views of the city and lakes and green hills on other side - there is a restaurant up top for tea, sandwiches and pakoras. i was overcome by a attack of nauseous migraine due to missing my sunglasses and taking photos in the angular evening sun. saw one undertrial with handcuffs and a chain on it, being brought there by a squad of armed police, later saw them roaming around sajjan garh and taking selfies and pix. my theory - it is a transit remand party who were in udaipur waiting for a train in evening, so got themselves a jeep to roam around in the meantime, and since the undertrial was their responsibility he got the free tour too. did not seem unhappy, but looked like a tough guy like a smuggler or poacher.

we also visited saheliyon ki bari a garden built for the companions of the royal ladies. the guide who is a 45 yr veteran of the place took over my camera and took some great shots...and took around of fateh sagar lake which has a beautiful clean road and eating shop areas.

day3 - rented a taxi for day trip to kumbhalgarh and ranakpur both of which are amazing and must see. k'garh was built by rana kumbha the legendary warrior and poet of mewar and is 5km x 5km in size, with entire villages , farms and check dams inside. it also has 300+ hindu and jain temples apart from the fort. i stood next to the locked room where maharana pratap was born (!) the views on all sides are mind blowing. enough said.
ranakpur is a jain temple in middle of dense forested hills, rivulets run over the road at couple of places. it has 1400+ one-off curved pillars with beautiful stone work . it is a active temple and we purchased some flowers for Rs20 and offered prayers. women need to cover flesh with pants and not leave bare legs, midriff or shoulder. salwar/pant/dupatta is fine, and a chador can be rented easily at their ticket counter. photography is allowed of all except the tirthankara shrines. this is again a must see no ifs and buts. the roof has round stone carvings inside each weighing 4 tons.
the climate and vegetation of the hills resembles the western ghats!!

day4 - we rented p2p autos and visited vintage car museum(did not go inside due to not so great collection and high tkt price), had a jain thali in attached restaurant (vfm for 250) , central garden and then boating in fateh sagar lake . adjacent on a hill is the Maharana pratap memorial - beautiful and spacious with a black statue astride his famous horse chetak. the museum has weapons, paintings of all the Ranas and warriors of Mewar and scale models of kumblagarh, chittorgarh and haldighati with a timeline miniatures models that explains how chetak saved rana pratap despite his wounds running 5km

at present cost of renting a day taxi (dzire) is 2300 fixed. for autos it is negotiable but usually around 800 is the ask(not vfm as most of time he sits around after dropping you but convenient than hiring p2p each time). guides are preferable at the major sites. saves time and gives some inner details.

we had to skip trip to chittorgarh on day4 due to lack of time and because its off to one side. from local accounts k'garh > c'garh if there is lack of time. however if you have time for 0.5 day trip you should do it has the victory tower built by rana kumbha and site of 3 jauhars :evil: .
we also had to skip the steps/ropeway to karni mata temple on a hill overlooking city palace. good temple and great views per accounts.

night 10.30 we took udaipur khajuraho express 2AC to jaipur - berths were fine with sheets and blankets, everyone just slept. toilets were old and worn and reeked of urine smell...the perpetual IR failing. it reached jaipur on time at 6:40AM. for sleeping overnight it was ok.

we had dinner is another restaurant called "Upre" which has a great line of terrace tables overlooking the lighted up city palace. another one called "ambrai" nearby is more famous with the goras but upre location is equally good and elevated. prices of food in touristy hotels is on expensive side. in new part of city it will be more normal.

overall, a very charming city. rana kumbha, rana sanga, maharana pratap are considered as demi gods and defiance is the hallmark of the local rajputs and bhils. the statue of rana pratap at the memorial is sheer raw power, he and horse are in chain mail armour, he is carrying a shield, a spear and two swords. in the fading light, it seemed alive and about to trot forward slowly with the metallic sounds of armour.....chetak is revered for his loyalty and a train is also named for him
Image

Singha
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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Singha » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:59 am

Jaipur

day5 - reaching jaipur at 6:40AM we hired a auto and took the short ride to our hotel situated about 1km away. rooms were made available at no charge early around 8.30AM, so we freshened up in lobby washroom and had a sumptuous buffet breakfast.

visited the city palace (overrun with touty guides and handicraft shops) but worth a look for its buildings and museums, jantar mantar (larger than one in dilli) and hawa mahal (again a maze of narrow corridors entered from the backside until we reach near the top). electric autos are available on per sawari rate between these three. had some expensive sandwiches and juice at a Baradari palace hotel on premises of city palace as the kids were cranky. we then visited LMB laxmi mistan bhandar which seems only large snack shop in old pink city area where all buildings are painted peach and entry is via some gates like chandpol, tripoliapol etc. roads are wide but traffic is heavy. the thali was overpriced at 500 but rest of snacks and sweets are good - in any case not much 'std' options to eat inside the old city. did some shopping and returned

the old city is a hive of textile, handicraft and jewels trade for export and domestic market, so not just a tourist place but HUGE, atleast 20x of chandni chowk markets. so if one looks, all can be purchased at much cheaper rates than touristy areas. takes a bit of legwork and kids may not appreciate. had some few lassis in kulhar. outside old city, all the usual haunts like macd, dominos, bbq nation are there as also indian food restaurants.

uber and ola are pervasive and convenient to use.

day6 - spent the day in exploring Amer palace and the Albert museum and shopping. the albert museum is a must see as its packed with stuff. being world tourism day all sites were free. behind amer palace at higher elevation is jaigarh fort which we did not visit.

day 7 - kids and wife wanted a rest day, so I walked some 7km through a maze of lanes in the old city before climbing a up a cobblestone path 300m in elevation to nahargarh fort and palace to get some great pix of the city. a hard trek and climb but doable by fit (wo)men. not for kids. for kids or weaker people / soft ladies the main road is via amer-jaigarh fort road and is 18km . i was one of few outsiders other than two exhausted goris on this route. the local guides and fort workers use this road on motorcycles. there is a mahendragarh palace inside under ASI. I skipped the jaipur wax museum and the sheesh mahal inside which looked like overpriced tourist traps. walked along the walls and ruins until i spotted a couple of large mongoose patrolling the woodwork, hence turned back lest the shurbs and thorn plants had nagas lurking around to rip me apart. there are 2 deep huge baolis (step wells) inside. with no family I could focus on camera fully. on google maps select destination as nahargarh fort and click on the walking icon to get a route via old city lanes. while returning I caught the jaipur metro from its current terminus at Chandrapol to my site 2 stations away. fee Rs6/- only !! construction is ongoing in old city. a future line might be 3km underground.
evening we were dragged through old city markets by wife.

day 8 - wife went on own to various shopping places , while kids and me checked out at 12 and visited a couple of malls and the birla mandir. there is a moti magree hanuman temple next to it which is very popular both for prayer and for blessing new cars and bikes, due to lack of time could not climb the hill to visit the main hanuman temple up above.

by this time our luggage had swelled to 10 pieces.

caught the ajmer to delhi shatabdi at 5:45PM after taking help of a porter to get our pieces inside. 1AC/EC chair waiting room was neat with very clean toilets. railwire/google wifi was a bit slow but functional. the EC chair car has 2+2 huge seats with massive leg space but fittings are old fashioned of wood and iron than airline class. the food was very average except std things like amul curd and mother diary ice cream .

guides and drivers all have some deal with handicraft shops and want to take you there, but say a firm no if you dont want. other than that things are ok and looked very safe the main areas.

reached dilli at 10.45PM and were picked by BIL from NDLS. tired. last stretch from gurgaon to NDLS very slow due to congestion.

Singha
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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Singha » Wed Oct 04, 2017 3:34 am

Dilli

due to lack of time, not much plans except to show my son a subset of things. wife and daughter had own plans with ma, sister and niece so they mostly vanished.

day 9 - visited the national science center at pragati maidan, humayun tomb (incl isa khan tomb) and connaught place. son had at separate places a hot dog, kulhar lassi, cream bell ice cream sandwich and keventer milk shake with its souvenir take it home glass bottle. tiring in the heat . saw india gate in passing. i had a wheat beer in beer cafe.

day 10 - went to qutub minar but 1000s of people were fighting to get inside with 2 tkt counters , so used planB of circling behind to the village and taking pix from a vantage point with son carefully positioned as if we were inside. since iltutmish tomb is next to the back wall, got it too. more water, more ice cream.

back in CP via metro had some food . went south to lodhi gardens . got some good pix there of kites and the tombs. lodhi gardens is definitely a good place for photography and romantic couples both. lot of pre marital photo shoots going on in all historical places

day11 - went early morning for photo shoot in india gate, but prevented from going up toward rashtrapati bhavan due to presidential movement to rajghat, recorded his convoy moving out. went to chandni chowk for breakfast parathas - saw the gurudwara, hindu and jain temples. then returned for north block, south block and rashtrapati bhavan photos. saw possibly the PMs convoy moving through vijay chowk. then a drive to teen murti bhavan(closed monday) and on shantipath to see the consulates and back home. could not get into red fort as it was closed perhaps as vvip were visiting raj ghat. lotus temple and akshardham had to be skipped. could not visit inside Rashtrapati bhavan as the tour was closed on sat,sun https://presidentofindia.gov.in/rbvisit/visit_plan.aspx

daughter had a great time in a place called Kidzania and wife in dlf world mall in noida. http://delhincr.kidzania.com/en-in/abou ... ia/concept she was super happy with her cousin doing some stuff there. after dilli and mumbai it is planning for blr next.


air asia flight was 8.30PM but got pushed to 12.30AM as the plane had some snag. a fresh plane and crew were rolled in. reached blr at 3.00AM, home at 4:15AM and slept at 5AM. wife left for office at 7 and me at 11. kids took day off after i emailed the principal the previous night.

11 back to back hot and hard days does take its toll (3 cities, 2 long train rides, metro, boat rides, 2 planes) . we will need a few days to recover physically. this was our longest vacation and most logistically complex but went off with no illness or issues, with next being 9 day. hotels we used booking.com which has liberal cancellation policies, wide choices and good discounts. used that last year for Hyd trip.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Yagnasri » Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:42 am

I am going to Hyd next weekend and may visit Srisailam and hopefully Bhadrachalam. Will try to post the details.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by jamwal » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:27 am

There is a Raja Agra sen Ki Baoli near Con naught place. Not famous but worth a look.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Javee » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:39 am

Just did a 5 day visit of West Karnataka (erst while Hoysala kingdom).

Day 1 - Traveled from TN through Sathyamangalam/Chamrajnagar to Somnathapura. This is a beautiful (non functioning) temple maintained by ASI. As usual most, if not all the sculptures are disfigured by the usual suspects. Unlike TN, the carvings are done in soapstone panels and are erected on the temple walls. The pillars are also carved differently and you have exquisitely carved panels in the roof. The lighting inside the temple is so-so. The entry is ticketed and they have good toilet facilities inside.
The next stop was Kabini (I stayed in Serai Kabini), right on the lake (river kabini is dammed and this is built on the shore of the lake). They got a decent bar, food is buffet and inclusive of room charges with decent facilities for kids (badminton, carrom, chess, TT, cricket, coracle rides, boat rides etc).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chennakes ... anathapura

Day 2 - I went on a safari to Nagarhole (through jungle lodge which is next door) and saw the usual spotted deers, sambars, langurs, boars, malabar giant squirrel, heard the barking deer somewhere in the woods and the best of all - leopard (mother and cub). We also saw fresh tiger pug marks ( I went on the 6AM safari), it rained the previous night, so the pug marks were fresh, possibly late night/early morning. There is supposedly one black panther, obviously we didnt see that and no bisons and elephants. This is the time where the elephant herds move deep in to the forest as water and food is plenty.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagarhole_National_Park

Day 3/4 - Left a bit late, traveled all the way to Chickmagalur and further up in the coffee estates, stayed in a homestay, 10kms off Mulayangiri. The last 5 kms has full-on dirt road, it was raining like cats and dogs with water flowing on the roads. I went on a AWD full sized SUV, so didnt have much trouble. During rainy season, cars and small SUV's will have trouble in this area. No one else was there, so the entire estate was like ours, kids loved the trek to a waterfalls near by and a lake with in the estate. It was full of leeches, so that added a bit of adventure for them. It rained in the late evenings, night but the water ran off pretty fast so the mornings were nice and crisp with a bit of sunshine. Mouth watering fresh home cooked food, 3 times a day with decent coffee. All in all, will recommend this home stay. Next day, some one came in a Ford Figo :lol:, checked with the driver, he said he is a local and he knows most of these roads and he can manage. The following day was the start of long weekend, and we heard the homestay is completly booked and there would be 30 of them that night, so if some one needs to go, go on a off season or during work week days.

Day 5 - Left Chickmagalur, the traffic coming-in to the mountains was heavy. First stop was Belur. Belur is possibly the biggest Hoysala temple complex (unlike Somanathapura) this is a functioning temple. This was the start of long weekend, so plenty of tourists in the temple, still big enough to get up close and private to the sculptures. This temple has intricately sculptured pieces near the roof railings, which I haven't seen in most of the other south Indian temples. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chennakes ... lur_06.jpg
The ceilings dont have multiple carvings like Somnathapura or Haleibedu, but they made it up with on single dome, which can be seen using a floor fixed movable flood light. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maje ... _Belur.jpg. This is a Vishnu temple, so all of Vishnu's avatars were carved and these are repeated across the outside perimeter. There are 2 other mantapams and separate temple for Ranganayaki which also has some of the intricately carved sculptures on the outside. Just look at this lady (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chen ... 9134_2.jpg)There is also a stepwell near the entrance, but was locked. We took a good 2.5 hours looking at and around the temple.
As usual most of the sculptures are defaced by the usual suspects, here also.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chennakes ... ple,_Belur

Next stop was Haleibidu, another Hoysala temple, possibly the best of all the 3. I will just post the link to the pictures, its a feast for eyes. Unlike the previous 2, this was for Shivan/Eswaran, so you got 2 Nandhi's on the outside. This is also a functioning temple, but unlike TN, there is not a lot of commotion inside the temple. The panels outside have beautiful carvings and the inside also has multiple roof carvings. Spent another couple hours here. As usual most of the sculptures are defaced by the usual suspects, here also. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kedareshw ... lebidu.JPG
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kedareshw ... ,_Halebidu

I wanted to go to Belavadi, one of my colleague is from this area and he said unlike the other temples, the usual suspects did not put their hands on. Unfortunately it was getting late for me to reach back to TN, so skipped it. But defn on my to-do list for some other time, to see sculptures in their pristine form.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veera_Nar ... ,_Belavadi

One thing I missed was decent eateries on these towns, literally there was none. There are some good options after you reach Hassan on the Mangalore - Bengaluru highway. From there on it took us 3 hours to reach Bengaluru (got on to the NICE road and with in no time reached Hosur road).

Here is the route map,
Google routemap

Singha
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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Singha » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:42 am

jamwal wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:27 am
There is a Raja Agra sen Ki Baoli near Con naught place. Not famous but worth a look.
I visited it in april. nice place but deeper one steps down place is musty and reeks of bats. access to the real well is locked. popular with college kids to sit around and chat. the structure is well preserved. it is not very old perhaps 300 years.

the oldest surviving ruins in delhi is probably a place called quila lal qot in the scrublands behind qutub, which belonged to the Tomar clan before prithviraj chauhan added to it. this predates the turkic sultanate structures like qutub complex and siri fort. and much before the sher shah suri & mughal structures. either one has to go guided walks to see it, bushwhack it as a team(not safe to go in so deep alone) or i have found aeroplanes on final approach from the east also offer a glimpse as it does of the tughlaqabad fort as well.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-new ... nbegL.html

delhi is truly a delight for history and architecture buffs, layer upon layer of it, one of the oldest living cities in the world alongside benaras and madurai.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Primus » Wed Oct 04, 2017 11:46 am

Thank you Singha Ji. What a wonderful tale. Javee Ji, I am so envious of your leopard sighting, as we discussed on BRF.

We did a family reunion bus tour of Rajasthan almost two years ago, including Agra. There were 34 of us, mostly from the US, age range 1 to 81. It was a nightmare to arrange and equally difficult to manage everyone, particularly the elderly parents (three sets of them), but SHQ who was in-charge, pulled off a superb trip in the end. We went around Christmas and New Year holidays which was a mistake as every place was too crowded, could hardly get in, but that was the only time suitable for most people from the US. Very memorable overall.

Earlier that year, I did a Delhi revival myself with a close relative. We went walking around all over Chandni Chowk. There is a good book by Lucy Peck which details all the buildings in the area and there are walks that will incoroporate the major mansions and sights, including Ghalib's home. I also did the usual Humayun's tomb, Qutb Minar, Red Fort etc. The book is quite useful although she sources her history from Romila Thapar and other leftist historians.

Delhi - A Thousand Years of Building

I just returned from a long tour of China last week. Are we allowed to write about travels outside India too, or should this thread focus only on Desh?

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Javee » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:16 pm

Saar, We were so happy to see the leopards, beginning of the safari, the guide said, during this season you will not be able to see anything and there was a collective sigh from the whole group (we took the same bus that you took). There were some high funda wild life photographers in a jeep and they were the first to notice, just the mother. When we went, we waited for almost a good 15 minutes in a location waited and then moved to another location and bam we saw them both trying to cross to the other side of the forest. They waited for a good 10-15 seconds and then went inside the thickets.

I would've been over the moon if I saw a tiger, we saw some fresh pug marks, but then we were not that lucky ;)

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Singha » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:05 pm

Primus I have that book. will have to dig deeper into the more minor spots next time i go alone. i want visit a night quawali session in a sufi dargah but not yet got the chance. will also penetrate deeper into chandhi chowk lanes and work my way toward jama masjid. i read they allow for a small fee to climb one of the minarets of the jama masjid and get great views of the old city.

Halebidu does indeed have supreme quality of stone idols all over. there is btw a line of Jain temples in a lane behind the main hindu complex which is worth a look. has dark stone statues of some of the Tirthankars. missed it on first trip but caught on second.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by jamwal » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:52 pm

Jama masjid is owned by that hateful imam Bukhari and he runs it like a money minting machine charging money for cameras, shoes, body covers and everything else imaginable.

Don't visit the place and give any business. Go to Spice Market and go to rooftop there for much better views.

Qawali sessions are in nizamdudin dargah but I don't like either Qawali or mosques

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Primus » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:01 pm

Javee Ji, I've long wanted to visit the various places in India for tiger viewing. However, talking to my wildlife buddies here who've done several tours dedicated to this it appears that it is a hit or miss. Leopard sightings are even rarer perhaps. Which is why I believe you had a sighting of a lifetime.

In the end I decided to do a tour of the Tiger Canyons project in South Africa, about 7 hrs drive from Jo'burg. It is a private park of about 60,000 hectares, which makes it larger than the Ngorongoro crater, Ranthambore national park and almost 2/3 the size of Sariska. The place is completely surrounded by an electric fence so that the tigers cannot run out into the community. He has over 25 tigers including a white tigress. I've posted pictures before, but will do some more. We had the most beautiful views of the tigers there although given the size of the place it was a lot of driving, but since we were there for three full days, a total of over 30 hrs of driving, it was quite possible to get glorious shots at sunrise and sunset even. It is not the natural habitat for tigers since there are none in Africa, but it is a completely wild preserve, with hills, valleys, a rivulet even. Well worth a visit for serious wildlife lovers who want to see tigers.

SIngha Ji, I saw the Belur and Halebidu temples as a youngster when we did a 27 day car trip of Southern India (Dad was an avid traveler too). Even in 1968 I remember being completely in awe of the beautiful carvings. remember Dad saying it was one of the few Indian temples still preserved in all its glory, the rest had all been torn down by Muslims.

I was born in Delhi, though have lived elsewhere for most of my life. Have a lot of family and every visit is bogged down with relatives. Agree, would love to attend an all night kavi-sammelan or the mushaira at Phool walon ki sair. Remember my older brother who was at IIT Delhi talking about it.

Apparently there is a 'fatwa' that is mandatory at this mushaira and is to be read by every shayar who comes on stage before he can begin his own poetry. It changes every year. One year it was 'Kaafir hain wo log jo Islam par nahin Jhukte" (Infidels are those who do not bow before Islam). Imagine the plight of one Hindu shayar who got on stage for his recital. But he got brought the house down with a stunner as follows:

"Laam ke manind hain gesu mere Ghanshyam ke
Kaafir hain wo log jo IS laam par nahin jhukte"


The Urdu letter laam is shaped like a 'U', thus referring to Lord Krishna's curly hair.

So the translation goes:

The hair of my Ghanshyam is like the 'laam'.
Infidels are those who do not bow before this laam

Oh those days......

Jamwal Ji, agree completely. We paid Rs 300 per person to be allowed to take the camera inside Jama Masjid. In that context, Humayun's tomb is actually a very beautiful place to visit. On a different note, I love kavita, shayari in all its forms although nothing beats a good 'veer ras' poem by a master like Narendra Mishra - this always brings tears to my eyes.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Karthik » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:32 am

Dear musafirs, it will be great if you could mention the restaurants and hotels that you go to during your visits. Food also is one of the things that we look forward to when to visit places.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Javee » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:47 am

Singha wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:05 pm
Halebidu does indeed have supreme quality of stone idols all over. there is btw a line of Jain temples in a lane behind the main hindu complex which is worth a look. has dark stone statues of some of the Tirthankars. missed it on first trip but caught on second.
I did look at them, on the right side of the complex, some are poorly kept with broken statues, overall a shabby outlook.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Karthik » Sat Oct 07, 2017 4:48 am

Singha wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:42 am
Singha ji, how did you find the roads quality. Did you see the highways to western standards like few stretches of golden quadrilateral are.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Singha » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:16 pm

we did not travel much outside city, only a day trip to kumbhalgarh-ranakpur. part of the way was on 4 laned hilly terrain (highway toward jodhpur I think) which was smooth as silk. the interior road was quite small in parts and not so great.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by svenkat » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:06 am

Felt like posting it here.

http://prekshaa.in/flight-bird-godavari-brahmanas/
Translator’s Note: This forms part of the iconic D.V. Gundappa’s series of pen portraits in the volume titled Hrudaya Sampannaru (People Endowed with the Wealth of the Heart) forming part of his acclaimed Jnapaka Chitrashaale (The Art Gallery of Memories) repertoire.

Translated by Sandeep Balakrishna
Extracts from the Preface
The profiles and lives of all the people portrayed in this volume deserve our respect at all times. My attempt here is to show how the people of an era in our country’s history lived, as well as the ideals they believed in. There’s the renowned verse from the Ishwara’s mouth in the Bhagavadgita:

yadyadācarati śreṣṭhaḥ
tattadevetaro janaḥ|
Since childhood, whenever I used to spot Jogis, Dasayyas, Bairagis, Sanyasins, Fakirs, I would think, “when can even I wander around like them with nary a worry?” – like caged monkeys think. What attracted me most in that unfettered mendicant lifestyle was their absolute freedom from worries. Not for a second did they worry about “will I get food tonight?”, “where will I be in the morning?” An abiding and total faith and conviction in some ideal. And because that conviction was strong, absolute courage, and unchained mind set. It was this enthusiasm for the non-worldly that revolved within my inner self.
And so if I adopted the lifestyle of grAmaikarAtri (staying for no more than a night in a village) and wandered about, what about food, bed and pillows? Owing to such worries, I experienced the scare of bodily tribulations.
Godavari Brahmins
About sixty years ago [Ed: about a hundred and ten years], the Godavari region didn’t have too many riverine canals and irrigation systems; much of it was an arid zone. Groups of Brahmanas from that region would frequently visit the Dakshina Desha (Southern Country) as part of their Rameshwaram, Tirupati and similar Yatras. All of those Brahmanas were endowed with immense ritual discipline.

There was a Satra (charitable shelter and accommodation) sticking to the front portion of the Sri Anjaneya Swami Temple at Mulabagal, built by Tavva, a dharmic Vaishya. Whenever the Godavari Brahmanas visited Mulabagal, they typically camped in that Satra.

The Godavari Brahmanas mostly walked on foot. In our own time, Vinoba Bhave’s foot–journey is renowned. But sixty years ago, walking by foot was the normal way of transport. The Godavari Brahmins didn’t find it taxing to traverse fifteen or twenty miles every day on foot. There were Upsakas of Chowdeshwari Devi and Bhadrakali as also Srividya experts among them.

Those who visited our homes were devoted to studying the Veda. They had unshakeable Shraddha in the grandeur and omnipotence of the Veda. They had a sturdy physique. Therefore, when they recited the Veda in the high pitch, the Swaras would sound majestic.

These Brahmanas wouldn’t hesitate to come to our homes and ask, “Is this a house of Brahmanas? Are there enough means in this house to offer meals to us?” The Yajamana, head of the home would regard such a question as a divine blessing and reply, “Most certainly. You must please come in.” The Brahmanas would come in and wouldn’t sit for their meals without chanting the Veda for at least a half hour.

Neither was their menu troublesome to the host. All they needed was rice, tovve (thick broth made of various pulses and lentils), extra-spicy Sambar (Pappudhappalam), Gojju (akin to a ketchup) or Chutney, dollops of ghee, and some buttermilk. If we tried to serve them Rasam typically prepared in these parts, they would say, “jabbu ledandi” (We aren’t ill). Our Rasam was meant only for those who were sick! This was their conception about the delicacy. They wouldn’t refuse curries made from an assortment of vegetables. They mainly required rice—Pappudhappalam—handful of ghee.

They didn’t eat at night.

Freedom from Worry
Typically, they would travel from five to eight or nine in the morning. Then from four to seven in the evening. In this manner, five or six hours would be spent everyday in travel. They never attached any worry to their minds.

One of them always carried a Shiva Lingam with him. It was a Banalinga (found typically in the Narmada river), about a foot in dimension. He used to place it in a plate and perform the Rudrabhishekham. The Namaka (Rudrasuktam) and Chamaka (Chamaka Prashna) mantras would emanate gloriously from their throat as if it were chanted by one person. They wouldn’t ask us anything. En route, they would arrange for even the flowers required for the Puja. It was sufficient if we gave them a little milk or jaggery for the Naivedyam.
D V Gundappa
Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by jamwal » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:25 am

This series of posts is a travelogue of my recent vacation covering Kinnaur, Spiti, Lahaul and Manali in 16 days. It was a solo trip for most part and involved travel on road, camping, trekking and just lazing around on different days. My previous trip to this region was in 2015 in which I planned to visit Samudri Tapu among other places but had to drop the Samudri Tapu part after people with me backed out and the water bodies swelled up overnight with unexpected precipitation.
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There was some snowfall and rain this time too, but I was a bit lucky to finally complete the Chandra Taal to Suraj Taal trek which was the main purpose of this trip. I had to do the trek with a Gaddi shepherd instead of a proper guide, but it worked out quite well in the end. Rest of the stuff was not planned at all and just happened without any plan.

It was quite an enjoyable vacation. I saw a lot of very interesting and beautiful places, met some great people and some stupid ones too.
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Following is the general itinerary. I will be writing all of this in detail in a series of posts later

General Travel Itinerary
Day 1: Evening bus to Shimla from New Delhi. Meet up with driver and evening stop at Sarahan with rest stops for breakfast, tea. Visited ancient Bhima Kaali temple and walked around the town.

Day 2: Drive to Chitkul via Sangla and Rakcham. Walked around the village and beyond. Discovered a pretty mountain stream and that famous last Indian dhaba by accident. Hiked 3 km to ITBP check post. Civilians not allowed past that point.

Day 3: Next day stop at Kalpa with rest stop at forgettable Reckong Peo. Walked around fruit orchards, saw that "suicide point". Spent some time a that "Last Village"

Day 4: Next night stay at a small guest house just before Nako. It overlooked Leo village which we visited earlier. We also made a stop at the last village in Ropa valley. Interesting yet quiet place.

Day 5: Night stay in Kibber. Spend 3-4 hours hiking and exploring places near Gete village.

Day 6: Visited Tashi Gong and "roads" nearby on car. Passed Chicham's brand new bridge to reach Chandra Taal.

Day 7 to 9: Stayed at camp site, hiked and explored some new places and revisited some old ones.

Day 10 to 12: Trekked to Suraj Taal with a Gaddi shepherd as my guide. My first proper solo camping under the stars.

Day 13: Took a lift in truck from Sruaj Taal to Keylong and a bus from there to Manali.

Day 14 to 17: Lazing around in Manali.

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Rough Route on Google Maps:

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This map is showing Chandra Taal to Suraj Taal road route, but I trekked the distance (approx 45 km).

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Blue sheep


GEAR:
I had some of the camping and hiking gear already and bought some new stuff for this trip from physical stores and online both. Following is the list:

1. Food which included dry fruits, chocolates, MREs,
2. Some essential medicine including one for AMS, stomach upset, first aid and so on.
3. Enough clothing for the trip which included wind-cheater, t-shirts, gloves, socks, caps, sun-glasses, bandannas and other stuff.
4. A camping stove, 2 propane canisters. In hindsight, 1 would have sufficed.
5. Rucksack Quechua 70 liters . Slightly heavy but very rugged and well designed.
6. Tent Quechua. Proved itself in strong winds and easy to setup and pack.
7. Hiking shoes. Old but very rugged and comfortable.
8. A water bottle and a bottle with filter. But didn't use the latter much. Mostly drank whatever water locals were drinking or from flowing streams and springs.
9. A multitool like this one I haven't had a lot of use for it till now, but a good thing to have.
10. A camp light, torch for light. Lighter and matches for fire.
11. My trusty Nikon D7100 with it's default 18-140 mm lens and it's essential accessories in a separate camera bag. Didn't bring any other lens to keep weight low.
12. A foldable solar panel and a DC camera battery charger for charging camera batteries. Worked quite well in it's first field test. Detailed post http://jjamwal.in/yayavar/charging-dslr ... -traveling.
13. An aluminum pot with cover, steel mug, plastic spoon and plate.
14. A map, pen, compass, tape, scissors and a few other small stuff.
15. Wifey's permission.

Total weight of luggage was 16 kg rucksack and 5 kg camera bag.
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Chandra taal


Rest of the posts will have details of the trip in some detail.

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Suraj taal

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by jamwal » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:26 am

I've decided to only post pictures here instead of full travelogue. The full text is on my website, if anybody wants to read that. http://jjamwal.in/yayavar/kinnaur-lahau ... d-chitkul/

These are from Day 1 and Day 2 in which I covered Sarahan and Chitkul. Former was OK, latter was very good.

I took the overnight Himachal Tourism’s Delhi-Shimla Volvo bus and reached Shimla early morning. My driver VK with his Toyota Innova met me at around 8 am and we managed to get out of the city just before the morning rush started. Few km after Theog, we stopped in a small roadside dhaba for a breakfast of aaloo paranthas and chai. This was my first time on this route but I kept dozing off for 5-10 minutes every now and then due to lack of sleep in the bus. The views were pretty nice, specially after the heat, humidity and dust of Delhi but I was somewhat impatient for the higher altitudes.

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Bhimakali Temple

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Carvings on temple doors


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Evening view from the hotel


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On the road again.

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Somewhere between Rakcham and Chitkul

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One of many such Pikas I saw in Chitkul

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A majestic jungle crow
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Perhaps these are used for storage in Chitkul

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A beautiful mountain

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by jamwal » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:32 am

Karthik wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:32 am
Dear musafirs, it will be great if you could mention the restaurants and hotels that you go to during your visits. Food also is one of the things that we look forward to when to visit places.
Delhi

1) Shyam Sweets in Chawari BAzar
2) Jain Coffee House (for fruit sandwich) in Chawari Bazar
3) Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfi near Chawari BAzar Metro.
4) Parathe waali gali for 2 dozen deep fried in ghee parathas.
5) Gole Di Hatti for Kulcha cholay and Bhaturay
7) Gianis in Khair Baoli for Faluda kulfi
8) Kake da hotel for meat curries cooked in Ghee
9) Rajdhani at CP for Gujarati-Rajasthani thaali
10) Misc. chaat shops in Old Delhi like Padam, Ashok and 2-3 others.
11) Early morning and late evening kachori, sabzi in Old Delhi. Very hot and spicy.
12) Daulat ki chaat and Shahi Tukda in winters.


For Jaipur
1) Lakshmi Misthaan Bhandaar (for Rajasthani Thali (Lunch ) , sweets(doodh bundi ke laddoo)
2) Salty/sweet Lassi in walled city, M.I Road
3) Sanjay omelette ( for egg dishes)
4) Rawat Misthaan Bhandar (Pyaaz ki kachori)
5) Tea Shop -Tapri Cafe
6) Handi Resturant for Dinner at M.I Road
.
For Udaipur

1 Paliwal Kachori since 1980/ Food Item-Dal Kachori. , pyaz samosa , best chat
2 Vasudev doodh bhandar /Food Item-Kesar lassi , kesar milk , fruit Rasoi malai , (Milk items)
3 Natraj dining hall/Food Item -Rajasthani and Gujarati thali
4 Krishna Dinning Hall/Food Item- Dal batti churma
5 Jagdish mishthan bhandar (JMB)/ Sangam barfi , kaju patisa , Pyaz Kachori
6 Kabab Mistri -restaurant for dinner, Laal Maans

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by jamwal » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:32 am

These pictures are for day 3 , starting from Chitkul till Kalpa.
We intended to leave by 6:30 am, but started the drive only by 7 am. This path was a bit more “adventurous” and had quite a few interesting sights. We saw very few other vehicles on the road. We made a rest stop at Reckong Peo for lunch. It had a great view of Panch Kailash parvats. Apart from that, there is nothing special about it. It is just a typical crowded mountain town with crazy traffic. We had lunch there in some small dhaba and drove off. There was a Tibetan monastery which the driver said that I should see. But it was damaged in a landslide and was closed for visitors.
Full post:
http://jjamwal.in/yayavar/kinnaur-lahau ... y-and-leo/


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Sunrise in Chitkul


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View of Kalpa village


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The “Suicide Point” between Kalpa and Rodhi

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A local in Kalpa.

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A temple in Kalpa village

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Close look at the carving

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Last rays of the day on a nearby mountain peak

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by sum » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:54 am

Superb pics sirji

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Singha » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:04 am

impressive.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by Primus » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:32 pm

Jamwal Ji, lovely tale and even better photos. Thanks for sharing.

One of my dreams in life has been to visit the Everest Base Camp or do the Mt. Kilimanjaro trek. Sadly, health reasons forbid high altitude travel beyond 12,000 feet. Good to see you are able to do this. It is a wonderful feeling being one with nature. I make do with wildlife encounters and sea-level trips. Nothing beats being on the top of the world though.

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Re: Travel notes thread

Post by sbajwa » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:05 pm

superb! Thanks Jamwal ji!

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