Month: September 2015
That time of the year has arrived when the nation wakes up to celebrate the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi- Father of the Nation. Declared as a national holiday, 2nd October is marked by prayers, meetings, parades and garland statues of Gandhiji across every corner of India. A staunch participant in India’s struggle for independence, Mahatma Gandhi led satyagraha or non- violent movement which bought about a new revolution during the country’s freedom movement. So, on this day, we dedicate few hours from our daily schedule and remember him for his great deeds and contribution. As in 2015, 2nd October is followed by a weekend, you can keep aside daily chores to visit to those cities where Gandhiji left his impeccable footprints.
Let’s start our journey from the coastal city of Porbandar, the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi and his wife, Kasturba. As Gandhi had spent a long phase of his childhood here, relics of the era are aptly restored here. ‘Kirti Mandir’, the home of his childhood, is now a museum where a chronological history of his life is listed. It also hosts a Gandhian library and prayer hall. A leisure stroll along the white sand Porbandar Beach or historical escape to the fortified palace of Darbargadh, Sartanji Choro Palace and Huzoor Palace are equally interesting and alluring.
Bombay, a glitzy and wealthy Indian city welcomed the arrival of Gandhi under various events. On one hand, he was here to pursue education, on the other hand, it is from here that Gandhi was arrest by British Raj on 9 August 1942. Bombay marked the historic meet between Gandhi and Jinnah in September 1944. Along the banks of Arabian Ocean, the modern day Mumbai is a cluster of attractions like Jehangir Art Gallery, Gateway of India, Marine Drive and Haji Ali Dargah that steal hearts of million wandering individuals.
Few hours drive from Mumbai lead to Pune, a historical city that reverberates with days of Gandhi’s imprisonment. Aga Khan Palace and Yerwada Jail are two places where Gandhi was imprisoned. Apart from these spectacular sites, also enrich yourself with a historical visit to Shivneri Fort.
The first and foremost major achievement in Gandhi’s life came in 1918 with Champaran and Kheda agitation in Bihar and Gujarat. The first Satyagraha movement resumed in Champaran, during the course of which he established an ashram for his supporters and volunteers. The movement got shaken by Gandhi’s arrest and notice to retire. Thus Champaran turned into a historical region where ‘Bhitiharawa Ashram’ is a major tourist attraction. Other landmarks like Sumeswar and Bank of Triveni also exist in harmony.
Sabarmati Ashram in Sabarmati suburb of Ahmedabad served as one of the residences of Gandhiji. In this ashram Gandhi spent at least 12 years of life. Sabarmati Ashram and entire Ahmedabad has been chosen by Gandhi for activities of independence and upliftment of society. From this ashram, Gandhi marched to Dandi in protest at British Salt Law. The ashram now has a museum called Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya. It is a prominent Ahmedabad attraction that features his personal memorabilia like books, manuscripts, photocopies, spinning wheel, photographs, oil paintings etc.
Kolkata, a strong base of English East India Company invited Gandhi on the day of India’s independence, 15th August, 1947. Here, Gandhi confronted rioters, prayed and worked with harmony to stop communal killing. Kolkata now has a locality and metro station named after this great leader. It is highly touristy with prominent places like Victoria Memorial, Indian Museum and Race Course.
Kausani, a picturesque hill station near Nainital, Uttarakhand also witnessed Gandhi’s arrival in 1929. He termed Kausani as ‘Switzerland of India’ and the guest house where he stayed is now known as ‘Anashakti Ashram’. From here he wrote his treatise ‘Anasakti Yoga – Gita-Anashakthi Yoga’. Tourists can take a glimpse at the collection of books and photographs of Mahatma Gandhi’s life.
Last but not the least is Delhi, the place of his assassination. Birla House (Gandhi Smriti) stands as a silent evidence to Gandhi’s death as he was shot here thrice by a Hindu nationalist. It is an important historical attraction that greets thousands of footsteps on a regular basis. Other historical landmarks in Delhi include India Gate, Teen Murti Marg and Red Fort.
All said and done, it is time to gear up for a bit different extended weekend break to cherish the golden moments of India’s struggle for freedom.
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travels’ sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
When the travel bug bites, no man can resist. The craving to explore, to set out for some unseen destination, to walk through streets and admire local shops, traditional costumes, try and understand regional language, sit and appreciate the beauty of centuries-old history hidden in its bosom, to taste new flavours, to fasten belts and tighten shoes for a grand venture into the wild, arduous treks through tricky trails, rafting through strong splashes, bungee jumping from heights, to brush away all inhibitions and enjoy a moment of complete ecstasy, gets severely intense when the inner self gasps for a break from the humdrum life and yearns for a change, a rejuvenation. However, the journey too needs to be as exciting as the destination itself. So, pack your bags, fill in all essentials, and, of course, do not forget to take along that, which certainly fits as your true friend at all times, i.e. books.
Yes, books! They are known to be the best buddies as they never leave you alone, accompany you everywhere, transport you through time, keep you engaged and glued and practically fit anywhere. While some may find science fiction intriguing, others may be lost in romantic novels, yet few may be game for action and adventure whereas autobiographies could be someone’s cup of tea. With several genres, people have umpteen to choose from, yet we would like to suggest names of few books that could be the best pals on your next journey.
Eat, Pray, Love- Elizabeth Gilbert
The plot takes one through a roller coaster ride of human emotions. The author succeeds in bringing forth the agonies and subsequent freedom from a troubled marriage, and the excitement of travelling to three unseen destinations around the world.
Maximum City- Suketu Mehta
This non-fiction book rambles and gallops through the streets of Mumbai, exploring every inch of the city, from the brightest rises to the darkest corners. Suketu Mehta beautifully delineates the lives of the millions who come to this city for a better living.
City of Djinns- William Dalrymple
The City of Djinns is a travelogue that slowly unfurls various characters, incidents, facts and facets of the national capital of India, seen through the eyes of the author and his wife during their six years stay in Delhi.
Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents- Elisabeth Eaves
The life of a truly free spirit along with the craziness, love, wanders, musings and experiences that she encounters on a wonderful and extra-ordinary journey through five continents that comes as serious food for thought for readers.
The Snow Leopard- Peter Matthiessen
The beauty of this book lies in a manner that the author has written about his two-month expedition in the Dolpho region of the Himalayas in search of snow leopard which comes with a mix of adventure, emotional turmoil and spiritual exploration.
The Idle Traveller- Dan Kieran
Dan Kieran explains as to how travelling should be more of a therapeutic journey, a curative exploration than being a mission of covering maximum attractions at the earliest. ‘Slow travel’ helps one keep a harmonious balance between the external and internal worlds.
The Emerald Route – R.K. Narayan
R.K. Narayan’s travelogue is a journey through the hills, gold mines, battlefields, rock formations, shopping complexes and local cuisine of Karnataka that speaks volumes on the state’s history, topography, culture and heritage.
A Passage to India- E. M. Forster
Selected as one of the 100 great works of 20th century English Literature, E.M. Forster, in this novel, tries to bring-out the intricacies of four characters along with the life of Indians trapped in racial tensions and prejudices during the pre-independence British era.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the most auspicious festivals of the Muslims, Eid al-Adha or Bakrid will be celebrated all over India with much fervour and enthusiasm on 24th September this year. Also known as the Feast of Sacrifice or the Greater Eid, this much awaited festival falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, which is the twelfth and final month in the lunar-based Islamic calendar.
Bakrid is celebrated to commemorate the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim who was so devoted and obedient to God’s will, that he unhesitatingly agreed to sacrifice his only son Ismail on God’s command. Hence, to honour the devotion, unquestioning faith in the almighty and the spirit of sacrifice, a goat or bakra is sacrificed as an offering during the festival. You must be aware of the regular non-vegetarian dishes which are cooked during Bakrid, so for a change, we bring you a list of top 7 lip-smacking desserts. Read on:
A traditional sweet of India and Pakistan, it is prepared by boiling together a mix of milk, water, corn flour, sugar and ghee. The whole mixture is stirred until it hardens. Saffron is added for flavour along with some dried nuts almonds, walnuts and pistachios.
Shaped like small doughnuts, it is also a traditional sweet, made using refined flour. First, they are deep fried in clarified butter or ghee and then are dipped in sweet sugar syrup.
A pancake like dessert, it is a famous traditional sweet in the Middle Eastern cuisine. It boasts of appetizing stuffings like chopped walnuts, pistachios and goat cheese.
A well-known dessert on Bakrid, it is prepared using very fine vermicelli which is boiled in milk with sugar and dried nuts such as walnuts, pistachios, almonds etc.
A type of a sweet cake, it is made using semolina and is soaked in sugar syrup to increase the sweetness level. Though coconut is primarily added, sometimes rosewater and orange flower water are also added to give the cake a different flavor.
One of the most common sweet dish to be prepared during Bakrid, it is prepared with milk, rice, sugar and cardamom.
So this Bakrid, don’t forget to pamper your tastebuds by having some meetha on your plate!
Now, what is so special about October? Is it respite from the long water-soaked monsoon-pours; the beginning of autumn; the sight of clear, blue skies or an amazing festive feel in the air. No matter what the reason is, October’s ‘neither too hot nor too cold weather’ is just apt to relish the beauty and charm of few of India’s besties, if not all. Let us take a look at some of the beautiful places that could be a part of your travel plan this October.
Rishikesh can be credited for satiating both your spiritual and adventurous aspects. The holy waters of the Ganges with the encompassing forests at the backdrop creates a conducive ambience for an inward transcendental journey. The ‘Yoga Capital of the World’ is not all religious and is one of the most adventurous hubs in the country as well. Be it bungee jumping or river rafting, the city is sure to keep your adrenaline rushing.
Highlights: Lakshman Jhula, Ram Jhula, Swarg Ashram, High Bank
A tryst with nature, a drive through exuberant forests, picturesque hill stations with stretches of spice plantations filling the air with their strong aroma alongside catching glimpses of few indigenous and endemic fauna, is best enjoyed in this marvellous emerald, studded in Kerala’s crown.
Highlights: Chembra Peak, Wayanad National Park, Meenmutty Waterfalls, Hiking and Camping
Distinctive mud architecture, white salt desert, lovely beaches, oasis, sumptuous cuisine, heritage buildings, palaces, museums, religious sites, lakes, wildlife sanctuaries amid unique traditions and a rich culture sketches Kutch diverse and appealing on India’s landscape. The beauty of the desert is appreciated best on full moon nights.
Highlights: Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Pingleshwar Beach, Aina Mahal
If you happen to be in or somewhere near the ‘City of Joy’ this October, then one event you must not miss for sure is the Durga Pujas, a festival that binds the whole city in one true colour, fragrance, melody and fervour. The city is seen at its festive best with people dressed in their loveliest while the air reverberates with the sounds of mantras, conch and dhaks (traditional drums). Beautifully adorned pandals, light decorations all along, munching of sweetmeats and roadside delicacies, children playing, men chatting and women taking part in all festive rituals are a sight to behold.
Highlights: Victoria Memorial, Nicco Park, Dakshineshwar Temple, Howrah Bridge
As Madhya Pradesh’s most vibrant and exuberant gem shimmers the beautiful hill station of Pachmarhi. The unruffled forest thickets of bamboo, jamun and sal coupled with man-made marvels render the town as an amazing tourist destination. From cave shelters, rock paintings to heritage cottages and old gardens, Pachmarhi is exactly what one expects from a tranquil, placid and calm hill station.
Highlights: Satpura National Park, Cave Shelters, Priyadarshini
With such an enchanting list of destinations ready to delight you, do not miss out on a lovely October vacation this year.
Be it dawn or dusk, let the wheels of your vehicle roll down winding paths till you reach to a world of unbound and ethereal beauty. India’s diverse landscape is a intertwine of mountains, water-bodies, deserts and wildlife sanctuaries, which grabbed the attention of wanderers time and again. Above all there are clusters of ruined monuments here and there that let you pause for a while to admire our glorious yesteryear. Why we always think of boarding a flight or train to explore such varied marvels? Why not we take a bike, a car or a bus to travel through India’s fancied roads or highways mingled with tiny hamlets and small towns? Probably the best way to experience our diverse geography is by roads. Many professionals, both bachelors and couples have already hit some Indian roads to explore a world of unimaginable natural and artificial grace. Let’s look at a slice of their road trips in India and travel tips they gave us:
A geologist from Mumbai loves to break her week-long monotony by hitting the roads of Maharashtra. She drove miles with her husband to conclude that road trip from Mumbai to Pune is the best of all. Stopover at cloud kissed Lonavala and savouring local ‘chikki’ can heighten your adventurous mood. Unending lush green foliage of Mumbai Pune Expressway along with cool pleasant mist lead to a picturesque setting for a long drive. Though monsoon is ideal to take this route, but other halves of the year are equally admirable.
Tips: Carry a sweat shirt because chill wind of the stretch can give goosebumps. Road conditions are good so stay free from bumpy rides.
Stopovers: Apart from Cafe Coffee Day and McDonald’s, there are dhabas like Kinara Village Dhaba and Suruchi Pure Veg that serve Indian delicacies.
Staying away from the outside world most of the time, a young doctor from Delhi decided to hit the roads of Himachal for rejuvenation and adventure. His first experiment was with Mandi- Tirthan route. Tirthan Valley can be reached from Delhi via Chandigarh-Bilaspur-Mandi route. It is the gateway to Great Himalayan National Park. Though the trip from Mandi to Tirthan Valley is as small as 51km, yet this short journey comes alive with vistas of rolling hills, pine trees, tiny rivulets, thin waterfalls and innocent locals. Tirthan Valley is untouched by commercialisation, absolutely pristine and blanketed with bottle- green electrifying landscape, which turn snow balls during winter.
Tips: Climate in Tirthan remains pleasant throughout the year so can be visited any time. Be careful of winding roads and deep valleys on your side.
Stopovers: There are no dhabas on Mandi Tirthan route. So dine at Mandi town before setting off for this scenic drive to Himalayas.
A fashion designer from north-east India always explores the secret gems of her state. This time she took the route from Tawang to Bumla Pass by bike. The spectacular beauty of Tawang defines the lavishness of nature that can only be travelled by wheels. Bumla Pass on Indo- China border is around 37km away from Tawang. Roads are definitely scary as it is at an altitude of nearly 16000 feet. Though there are numerous rules to fulfil before you head for majestic mountains, yet every moment of the ride will force you to pause and shoot the grace of nature devoid of chaotic cities.
Tips: Road from Tawang to Bumla Pass is maintained by BRO and inner line permit is required by Indians. Oxygen level will reduce as you approach the height, so need to have a healthy heart to be a part of this lifetime experience. Ideal time to visit would be from May to October.
Some 60 odd kilometres from Bangalore to Nandi Hills drove a Kolkata photographer crazy. This popular route from can be travelled by car, bike or cycle. At a height of about 4,851 feet, Nandi Hills is an idyllic escape. The ancient hill fortress dotted with shrines and monuments is an hour drive from Bangalore. Roads are in good condition, traffic is less and there are long stretch of greenery, so journey turns utterly delightful.
Tips: On arriving take a Vineyard Tour or a Temple Tour in this scenic fortress.
Stopovers: There are petrol pumps and eateries where you can get your car and yourself pumped up. Start driving during sunrise and return back right during sunset to catch amazing hues of blue, golden and orange over the Bangalore sky.
Come let’s pack up for some more road trips in India.
‘Ganpati Bappa Morya, Mangal Murti Morya‘- each year on the propitious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, the streets, homes, heart and soul of Mumbai gets fully immersed in the divine celebration of the birth of the blessed son of Shiva-Parvati and the benevolent Father of the masses. Ganesh, the symbol of wisdom, wealth and good fortune, is ceremoniously welcomed between the holy months of August and September every year. While Mumbai seems synonymous with Ganesh Chaturthi yet one would be delighted to know that few other places in India are not far behind in welcoming Ganesha in their own true spirits.
Goans are devout followers of Ganapati and so stands the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival as their favourite ‘Chovoth’, as is famously known here. The grand event is celebrated for nearly three days with a clay idol of Ganapati, paper-sketched Gouri and a coconut symbolising Shiva. Women and children are seen dancing the traditional Fugdi before the Lord. Ganapati is installed in a pandal adorned with betel leaves, coconuts, bananas and mango tree-branches. Aarti and cooking of five vegetarian platters are obligatory during this festive season.
Preparations for the grand event begins weeks in advance and the spiritual boosting of millions of devotees reaches its height with time. The event here is fondly named ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’ and follows its own ritualistic ways. Ganesh is installed in umpteen pandals along with his mother Gauri and prayers are ushered by married women to seek blessings for a contented marital life. The Lord is treated with his favourite sweetmeat, made of coconut and jaggery while flowers are embellished on the resplendent Lord to ornate his divine presence.
Though Pongal tops Tamil Nadu’s list of fiestas, still Vinayaka Chaturthi does not trail much behind. People from all over the state bind in one religious fervour to welcome the Lord into their homes. With the Ganapati Homam reverberating in the morning air, devotees get busy in preparing the Lord’s extremely favourite ‘Kozhukattai‘, prepared from rice flour and jaggery whose aroma soon engulfs the senses. A festive look is worn by most temples across the state particularly the Vinayakar Temple in Madurai and Uchipillayar Temple in Tiruchirapally.
Fondly known as Vigneshwara, the Lord is warmly greeted in the homes of Gujarat with extensive celebrations. Temples are elaborately adorned with lighting and sumptuous decorations for 7 to 10 days. With grand offerings made to the Lord, the final day of Chaturthi is marked with devotional songs, drum-beats, grand processions, fire crackers and the final immersion of Ganapati in the Sabarmati River, in synchrony with the flowing tears of his ardent devotees.
No matter which part of the country you are in, book your tickets and pack your bags to the destination of your choice, to witness a grand Hindu festival, soon to be solemnised.
Out of nature’s many beautiful gifts to mankind, the amazing combo of daily sunrise-sunset stands out. Because nothing can beat the goodness of beginning your day by looking at the first rays of sunrise and nothing can be more relaxing than spending a peaceful evening watching the sunset. India’s diverse landscape is home to great natural beauty and therefore offers many amazing sunrise-sunset spots making it an ideal place for photography buffs and nature lovers alike. Get ready to see some breathtaking sunrise and sunset pictures through the mountains, over the rivers and at the beaches. Here we go with our list:
Top 5 Sunrise Spots:
“My sun sets to rise again.”
– Robert Browning
Tiger Hill, Darjeeling
Highlight: Pink and orange coloured sun rays on the twin peaks of Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga.
Taj Mahal, Agra
Highlight: This world famous monument of love glows at its best when the first beams of the sun hit its white marble.
Puri Beach, Odisha
Highlight: With swaying palm trees in the background, best time to capture a stunning shot of the sunrise is at 5 a.m.
Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
Highlight: Also known as Cape Comorin, Kanyakumari is the tip of peninsular India, where the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal meet, thereby offering picturesque view of sunrise.
Tenneti Park Beach, Visakhapatnam
Highlight: A romantic destination, this rocky beach boasts of beautiful view of hills and a great sunrise view from the cliff.
Top 5 Sunset Spots:
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
Alappuzha Beach, Kerala
Highlight: Sunset over the remains of the ruined Alappuzha Sea Bridge.
Palolem Beach, Goa
Highlight:Crescent-shaped beach offering amazing sunset view in the backdrop of palm trees, wooden huts and resting boats.
Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island
Highlight:Mesmerising view of sunset over the blue sea and the white sand.
Brahmaputra River, Dibrugarh
Highlight: A lovely yellow and orange sunset view.
Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
Highlight:A brilliant view of sunset on the enchanting white salt desert in a clear blue winter sky.
So, what do you think? Aren’t these sunrise-sunset pictures amazing?