Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary – Bird’s, Bird Watcher’s and Everyone Else’s Paradise

This was my 2nd visit within 3 years to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and I am already looking forward to my 3rd visit (For pics from my first visit, click here). Best part of this place is perhaps not the spectacular views of the birds who come from as far off as Siberia (they could be travelling like 4000km), I think it is the fact that even a disinterested or indifferent tourist ends up falling in love with the experience that this place has to offer.

For everyone’s benefit – all about stay, food and the like

So, let me start off by sharing where it is and where to stay if you plan to visit and few other tips. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is about 20km from Fatehpur Sikri (it’s itself an awesome place to visit, click here) – so not far off if you are planning to visit Agra, and some 35km from Mathura – that’s the diversion you need to take if you are coming from Delhi/Gurgaon (which is about 185km). From Gurgaon it is 4 hour comfortable drive.

There are quite a few places to stay within 500m of the entrance to the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. They are not too costly and serve just OK to good food. However be mindful of that fact that you will most likely have to eat in the hotel you are staying in as there aren’t any restaurants around and other hotels usually have food for the tourists staying in their hotels. We faced the problem with dinner as we didn’t like the food we got at Hotel Saras and had hard time finding another place to eat, though Hotel Sunbird served us good food.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary – the actual sight-seeing

To enter the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary you’ll have to buy tickets at the entrance and you can park your car there for free. If you want you can take your car further 1 km inside by paying 100 INR but my suggestion is no need to do that. From wherever you park, to enter the main part of the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary you have three options – hire a rickshaw at 100 INR per hour (that’s what I did), hire a bicycle (don’t know the rate) or just walk. Walking and cycling can be tiresome as the sanctuary is spread over a large area.

If you want a guide you can get that for 250 INR per hour. The rickshaw guys have OK knowledge and they act as kind of guide at no extra cost officially except that at the end of the tour they expect you pay them extra for the extra service they have provided you. 2nd is better option as they in any case pester you for tip in the end. And yes, make sure to rent a good pair of binoculars (rate 100 INR for the trip) – the rickshaw guy should have one, that way you can enjoy the bird watching more.

Now coming to the serious point – why go there and my experience

I thoroughly enjoy each moment I spend inside Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, in fact I feel like not leaving the first spot that gives me a glimpse of the birds. Now with my heightened interest in photography how amateurish it might be, I want to just sit there and wait to capture that perfect, elusive and exclusive moment. But that means patience which I have in plenty and time which is unfortunately a luxury most of the times.

Anyhow, till I reach that stage where I can share something worthwhile through pictures that I capture, let me take you through my me-too-syndrome try outs. Here’s some of the moments from my recent visit to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, please click on the   thumbnails to enjoy more:

Fatehpur Sikri – amazing Mughal history and architecture, too many guides and countless memories

Fatehpur Sikri – a beautiful place (forced to live under the shadow of more popular and nearby tourist destination Agra), has a charm of its own and having read a little history myself and with strong recommendation of my dad who doesn’t waste his opinion, I finally made my much awaited trip to history a reality. And like I always like to do, I thought I’ll share my experience and maybe be of some help to the tourists and enthusiasts who may plan to visit it one day and also to those who may never.

Reaching Fatehpur Sikri fort, little tricky

First things first. Fatehpur Sikri is about 40km from Agra and about 20km from Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. Reaching the Fatehpur Sikri fort is not that easy as it could have been, especially since the signages on the highway could have been a little better. We drove from Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and struggled a little in finding the right diversion, however with some help from the locals we finally made it. Though the real trouble was yet to start.

“Govt approved” guides can make life miserable, leave bad taste in mouth too

Once you reach there the first thing that hits you is not the Mughal history and architecture for which you would have gone there, rather its lack of management by authorities, confusion, non availability of right sources for information and the most striking and annoying of them all – too many unsolicited guides. These “Govt approved” guides will throw themselves at you, butter you, tell you how economical it would be for you to hire them and start misguiding you from the word go. And if you show lack of interest, they’ll start reducing their rates, tell you their livelihood depends on you so you must hire them and finally if you still not hire them, may end just short of cursing you in front of you, they may do it behind your back though.

Park and take the CNG bus- they pretend but it’s no Agra

Anyhow, if you are going by your own vehicle, there is a parking place about a km and half short of the fort, you can park there for INR 60. From there take the bus, the fare is only INR 5. To board the bus, go towards the back of the parking, there you’ll see a shopping area – cross it and at the far end you’ll see a few buses parked. I don’t know whether this is intentional, but the place to board the buses is almost impossible to find and just too far off. Anyhow.

Fatehpur Sikri fort – lots of amazing things, just right there

The Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri has so many things that it offers and I just loved it. The architecture of course is impressive, the red colour a strong reminder of Red Fort at Delhi and Agra Fort and having taken my new DSLR to its first historical place – which is my favourite kind, I had a rocking time. What you get to see inside the fort or the city includes Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Anup Talao, Panch Mahal and lots of stories and anecdotes. Good part, it’s not too spread out so you can take the complete tour in just about 2 hours.

The guides who don’t leave you for your life even here will tell you there are like 26 mahals and what not and that you should hire them but I am not sure how useful hiring them is. We gave in to their (read my wife and my friend’s wife) demands and finally a guide became part of our tour, or should I say we became part of his tour. He agreed to show us the fort and everything around for 100 INR, which of course at the end of the tour was something he first disagreed to and demanded more, then accepted as what we had agreed upon initially but asked for more as a matter of his right, then as a favour or tip and then finally as something moral for us to do. For us the moral of the story – DON’T HIRE THEM.

Buland Darwaza, Jama Masjid and Tomb of Salim Chishti are close by too

Anyhow, once we had finished the tour of the city/fort, we walked (3-4mins) to the very impressive complex which houses Buland Darwaza, Jama Masjid and Tomb of Salim Chishti and a few other things too. We entered from the King’s Gate, which is remarkable. Once we entered the complex two things caught our eyes straightaway – one, the white marble Tomb of Salim Chishti and two, the huge backside of the Buland Darwaza. As a matter of fact the Buland Darwaza is so huge that it’s distinctively visible even from the Fatehpur Sikri city/fort.

While inside, pay your respects and pray at Tomb of Salim Chishti if you want, take a round of the entire complex and all the structures inside and then go to the Buland Darwaza. It looks fantastic when you are looking at its backside and it’s breathtaking once you look from the front. I think for many of the tourists this one gate i.e. Darwaza would be worth a trip to this place if nothing else.

Be one with history or just buy a souvenir

The kind of sad part though is that right outside the Buland Darwaza as well as the King’s Gate you’ll find hawkers selling one thing or the other and I think many tourists like it also as they get to buy souvenirs, I for one somehow don’t like it much. When I visit a historical place I like to be left alone and appreciate it more if the place looks and feels like as it would have when it was actually inhabited – a feeling that was so strong when I visited the Bhangarh Fort (click here to read about it) and walked through its streets. But I guess this is the price more popular tourist destinations have to pay for being popular. Anyhow.

To sum it up – Fatehpur Sikri is a place that has a lot to offer and good thing is all you need is 3-4 hours and you can enjoy it all. And though the time of our visit was purely coincidental as that was the only time we had, however visiting it in the evening can be a better experience. The whole architecture appears to get even more spectacular in the evening. However, you plan your visit at it suits you and make sure to go there if you are visiting Agra or Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary – half a day is all that it will take.












Me too syndrome – this time it’s photography

There are so many things we all do and do as self proclaimed experts. We do things, compare with what others do, believe we do it better and feel so happy about it. And that’s so true about photography.

Like everyone I know, I also knew I always wanted to do it. Like everyone I know, I also believe I am very good at it. Like everyone I know, I will share it with everyone. Like everyone I know, from being a cricket expert, a political commentator, a corruption crusader, a Facebook aficionado, now I am also a photographer.




QR Code for

Got the QR Code, tried the QR Code, loved the QR Code.

If you know what this QR Code is all about, why don’t you try the one below for my site.

QRCode for Site

Wondering what’s this QR Code, do little R&D (read Google it), and then try QR Code for my site above.

If you are thinking Wednesday Thursday Friday, forget it. Just go ahead and read some other cool stuff you may chance upon here.

How to Get High Security Registration Plate for Your Car in Gurgaon

How to get High Security Registration Plate (HSRP) for your car (especially if you didn’t buy it recently) in Gurgaon? (How to get Driving License in Gurgaon, click here)It can be a pain – a pain I had been suffering for a long time now. But after doing a lot of research, bashing my head everywhere, trying all modes – surfing internet (forums, websites, etc.), making phone calls (RTA and SDM office – hats off to the gentlemen and lady who picked 3 calls I made to them and gave me all the information I desired and didn’t mind repeating one thing even thrice, and that too with complete politeness), trying car dealers (from whom I bought), probing friends and foes alike (can’t name them here), visiting all possible places (Mini Secretariat, areas around it), I finally figured out how one can get High Security Registration Plate for his/her car in Gurgaon. And I thought I should share it with everyone.

  • If you are not a new car owner (if you bought it last year or earlier)… Click here
  • If you are a new car owner… Click here
  • If you own a bike… Click here
  • If you own a truck, heavy vehicle, etc… Click here
  • To apply online (shared by Arihant in the comments below)

If you are not a new car owner (if you bought it last year or earlier)… 

To go to the top Click here…

I had bought my car last year and been trying to get the High Security Registration Plate for it for couple of months now. Sometime back I found out where exactly they install it and the process around it (found it to be useful for new cars only) but biggest of the issues was figuring out the very first step for a car which was bought in the past. Thankfully, I managed to crack the code and here’s the step-by-step process that you need to follow;

Step 1: You need to get the authorization letter for High Security Registration Plate for your car. For this, you need to visit the Ekal Seva Kendra which is located at the Ground Floor, Mini Secretariat, Gurgaon. (Click here to Get Directions to reach Mini Secretariat).  The Ekal Seva Kendra is open only from Monday to Friday and from 9am to 1pm. And there are no charges for the authorization letter.

If you are going in your car, don’t park outside, there’s plenty of space within the Mini Secretariat complex and you should explore that first.

PS: Please see the comment by Tej below (click here), he mentions that the authorization letter is now available at the HSRP counter itself. This will save you a lot of time and running to the Mini Secretariat.

Step 2: The documents you should keep handy when you visit the Ekal Seva Kendra are;

  • RC of your car (keep the original and a photocopy)
  • ID proof (keep the original and a photocopy)

Step 3: Once you enter the Ground Floor building gate, the Ekal Seva Kendra is to your left. Inside the hall, go straight to the left hand extreme corner at the far end. The person sitting on the left hand corner (he will be the 3rd or 4th person if you start counting from the right) is the person you are looking for. You hand over your RC to him and in no time he’ll give you the authorization letter for your car’s High Security Registration Plate.

Step 4: Now next step involves visiting the place where the High Security Registration Plate fees is paid and the plate is installed. The things you should keep handy here are;

  • Authorization letter you got at the Ekal Seva Kendra
  • RC of your car (keep the original and a photocopy, the guy at HSRP counter charges INR 5 per/photocopy )
  • ID proof (keep the original and a photocopy)
  • Cash (INR 365 for car; keep the exact change, it helps save money)

Reaching this place is a little tricky, however, I would suggest you check with traffic police man on duty in the Mini Secretariat or the parking attendant outside. This place is not too far off from Mini Secretariat (around 1km) but involves driving on the wrong side of the road, and it’s alright too.

To find the location on Google, click here. Once you are near this place, you’ll see long queues outside a building with Apollo red color board – this is the exact place you are looking for.

Step 5: Once you reach here, you’ll need to pay the fees (INR 365 for car) for which you need to stand in the queue (HSRP fees counter) to your right (when you face this building). You’ll need to produce the authorization letter here and a valid ID card. The important point here is, they accept fees only from the person who owns the vehicle (you need to be present there) or maximum from family member (at their own discretion and they will ask for this person’s ID card). Given the amount of rush there, if you are not the owner, they may not accept the fees, so calculate your risks here.

The HSRP fees counter is open only from Monday to Friday and from 9:30am to 1pm.

Once you have paid the fees, they give you a receipt and your day’s job is done. Make sure you keep this receipt safe and sound with you as you’ll need to come back with this receipt after a minimum of four days and produce it at the 2nd counter (to your left when you face this building) and that’s when they’ll give you your car’s High Security Registration Plate and install it too.

Step 6: After a gap of minimum four days (from day of step 5), you’ll have to come back to this same place again (Click here to find location). Here you go to the 2nd counter (HSRP installation counter – to your left when you face this building), show your receipt and then wait till they call out your car’s number or flash your HSRP. The minimum time you can expect is somewhere around 1 hour, rest is your luck.

Needless to mention you’ll also need to keep the RC with you and the most important thing, you’ll need to bring your car with you for sure. About parking the car, there is not much but ample space on the other side of the road and you can park your car there for free.

A person will come carrying your HSRP (both front and back) and will install/fix it on to your car. He’ll not take much time in installing the plates however he’ll ask for some tip for sure. Once you get the new HSRP installed, you’ll be a pretty relieved self.

The HSRP installation counter is open only from Monday to Saturday and from 9:30am to 1pm.

The whole process will take a minimum of 4-5 days (Steps 1 to 5 on day 1 and Step 6 on day 4/5)

If you are a new car owner… 

To go to the top Click here…

If you are a new car owner, then there are two scenarios:

One: You would have crossed the first hurdle automatically, though rest of the journey is equally stressful for all owners. Your car dealer will give you the authorization letter for High Security Registration Plate, this is something as the owner of a car that I had bought last year I suffered the most in figuring out how to get my hands on.

The step-by-step process that you need to follow is mentioned above and best part is you skip the first 3 steps and start off from the Step 4 right away.

Two: Many new buyers are now able to get HSRP installed at the showroom itself. One of my friends bought Hyundai Verna and the dealer installed it at the showroom itself.  Also, Gaurav has posted a comment below about similar experience with his scooter. So this in fact is a really a good news and relief for the new buyer.

There is one more thing that will matter to you here and that’s the road you’ll take to reach HSRP fees and installation counter if you are coming from the Rajiv Chowk (you can go to the Mini Secretariat and follow the path mentioned above in Step 4). For that you can follow the following map, it again looks like going in the wrong way, and that’s right also, the only thing is that everyone uses it. The moment you take a turn from Rajiv Chowk towards the Mini Secretariat/Old Gurgaon side, immediately take a left turn. You’ll see lots of cars using this route, and there’s a proper barrier there to keep the traffic segregated and in line. Just follow the black line shown in picture below, or the car in front of you till you hit the first T-point (there’s a Wine Shop there) and take a right turn and the place you are looking for is right there.


And yes, for you too the whole process will take a minimum of 4/5 days (Steps 5 on day 1 and Step 6 on day 4/5).


If you own a bike… 

To go to the top Click here…

If you own a bike, then the procedure and process is the same as for the car. The only difference is that you pay less than INR 150 for HSRP and the amount is different for a bike and different for a scooter.

If you own a truck, heavy vehicle, etc… 

To go to the top Click here…

I am not sure of the entire process that you’ll need to follow, but what I found out was that for an old truck/heavy commercial vehicle, instead of Ekal Seva Kendra you will need to visit the RTO office. I don’t have any more information for you and I don’t want to misguide you here.

Spread the word…

I hope the above information is useful to you. I had a tough time getting this all together, getting the right procedure and process, finding the places and ways to reach them. I hope sharing it will make someone’s life easy.

To go to the top Click here…

Jaipur – the Pink City, Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal, Choki Dhani and lots…

Amer Fort, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal, the Pink City, Choki Dhani – Jaipur has been attracting tourists from every corner of the world and it deserves the credit for living up to the hype and for being the fabuluos place it is. Forts, handicrafts, snake charmers, even the cycle rickshaws have a tinge of royalty attached and they all know how to treat their tourists. And in spite of being on the radar of countless tourists, it still manages to maintain its position as a place which you leave with happy and long lasting memories.

Amer Fort is matchless

The biggest highlight of Jaipur, in my view, would be the Amer Fort. I have seen a few palaces and quite a few in Rajasthan itself but Amer Fort stands out. It is huge, very beautiful and looked complete. If you want you get the elephant ride, else you can walk up. This place leaves a lasting impression and an urge to come back again.

Jal Mahal can disappoint you

Jal Mahal on the other hand was a big disappointment and that was not because of what it is but due to the garbage lying all around.
It can at best be a stop over for 15 minutes and you’ll be done with it. Maybe they clean it from time to time, but when we went it was like a trash can.

Hawa Mahal and Bapu Bazar

Hawa Mahal, which is in the old Jaipur, or the Pink City, is one-of-its-kind place. It doesn’t really offer you much per se, however, going to the top floor (not the actual top floor, you are not allowed there) and looking around has a charm of its own. And when you look around you see Jantar Mantar, the Pink City and a nice view of the forts all around.

Right next to the Hawa Mahal is the Bapu Bazar and this is one place that pulls you to buy all kinds of handicrafts and a lot of other stuff. If you visit Jaipur, Bapu Bazar should be on your list.

Choki Dhani is good too

Jaipur is known for many things and Choki Dhani is the latest entry to that list. It has managed to capture the attention of tourists in its own way though it’s nothing more than kind of picnic spot which could have been located anywhere in the world, except it is themed on Rajasthani traditions, food and everything else. You should pay a visit to this artificial village and you are quite likely to like it too.

Jodhpur – Blue City, Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada and a lot more

“A poor man earning just 100 rupees a day eats only that food which is cooked in desi ghee.” This was the response the restaurant manager gave us when we inquired after feeling that every food item (and it was very reasonably priced) that we were eating at his restaurant at the Nai Sadak Chowraha in Jodhpur tasted to have been cooked in desi ghee. And this was just one of the memorable take-aways from the last stop of our last trip of 2012.

After praying at Ajmer-e-Sharif and Pushkar and driving for close to 600 km, we finally reached Jodhpur – a historic place, a major tourist attraction, the blue city, the sun city and a lot more.

Remarkable Mehrangarh Fort

Mehrangarh Fort is the biggest attraction in Jodhpur and we were really excited to visit it. The fort is on the top of a rocky hill and the narrow road leading up to it goes through old habitation. The fort is really majestic and could be among the tallest especially when you look at it right after crossing the main entrance.

Inside the fort you will be mesmerized by many things which includes the area at the far end overlooking “the Blue City”. When you stand there with over dozen canons looking over the area. And when you look down and see the blue color all around, well that scene is like no other you would have seen ever in life.

The museum within the fort is the other place you’ll love. It let’s you peek into many aspects of the royal life like all kinds of palanquins, armory, swords, a few guns and many other things. You go there and you’ll find plenty of things you’ll love to watch, feel and buy too.


The interesting Jaswant Thada

On way down from the Mehrangarh Fort we made a quick stop over at the Jaswant Thada. Well this is a serene place with a nice lake and a great structure, however, beyond that it doesn’t had much to offer. You can visit this place and cover it in under one hour the most, that includes parking the car, buying the tickets, clicking lots of pictures, and moving out.

Outstanding Umaid Bhawan Palace

The next stop for us was the Umaid Bhawan Palace which is on the other side of the city. It is a heritage hotel now but you can pay a visit to the museum and if you love cars then you’ll fall in love with the vintage car collection there. It was here that I saw a Cadillac and a Rolls Royce from a foot away with only a glass separating us.

Inside the museum we saw a lot of royal heritage and loved every part of it. Since it was almost 5 pm, the closing time, we rushed through many things but still enjoyed it to the fullest.

Kaylana Lake is good too

We decided to conclude our day by spending the evening at the Kaylana Lake. We had seen on Google maps that it was a big lake but while we asked about directions from locals they were all surprised as to why we wanted to go there and we were amused by their responses. This meant that it took us a lot more time than we had anticipated and we won’t have reached there had there been no Google Maps and Navigation applications.

However, the lake was not very impressive but was not a total disappointment either. We clicked some nice pics there and came back to the Nai Sarak for some shopping and eventual dinner at the same local restaurant. This concluded a really memorable day for all of us.

575 km in under 10 hours

The next day proved to be the icing on the cake as we started off at 5.30am from the hotel and had a great drive back to Gurgaon. And in under 10 hours we reached Gurgaon, a record of sorts for all the road trips we have had in 2012. Driving through a deserted road from Jodhpur to Beawar, a spectacular 6 lane highway from Beawar to Jaipur via Ajmer and then an ever traffic ridden Jaipur to Gurgaon highway, it was as good as it gets.

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An IPL match and a wasted evening in 2010..

In April 2010, I had watched my first cricket match live, right in the stadium. And I could totally relate with the team that eventually lost the match. They could not survive the designated 20 overs and I could not survive the match. It could be due to the one sided and boring match or the fact that I had straightaway went to the stadium after my early morning trip to Alwar. Either way it was too much for me to bear the agony for the entire duration of the match. So without any deliberations I decided to cut the match short and returned back to my room.

11042010020Though that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a memorable match for me, for it surely was. It was realization of a long cherished dream of mine to one day watch a cricket match right in the stadium. But it came too late, so late that I had lost interest in cricket matches and almost started hating IPL. But thanks to my friends who had got the ticket for me (for free i.e.) I decided to enjoy that dream eventually.

The first thing that I realized on watching some of the very popular cricketers in person was that it all was quite close to the cricket that we used to play during school days. On a TV it did feel a little different from the usual but as it turned out, it was only a feeling and nothing more. The other thing that I liked was the fact that I could watch what I wanted to watch and not what the advertisers and IPL organizers force upon you on your TV sets. Though I can’t deny the fact they did try their hardest in the stadium itself but I did feel like a winner.

As far as happenings on the ground are considered I can’t deny that instead of the 13 players in the field the more fascinating and enjoyable performance was offered by the 18 cheerleaders with their stages very judiciously arranged around the ground. Three cheers to the organizers for following a policy of nondiscrimination. Though (since grass is always greener on the other side) I did feel that the three cheerleaders to the left of our section were better in every way than the ones for our section, but I’ll let that pass.

There were few very interesting things about the crowd behavior in the stadium as well. The loud cheers for wanting batsman to hit 4s and 6s that we hear on TV were not exactly cheers from the crowd to begin with. It was the guy on the PA system who used to force people to shout for his and perhaps advertisers’ benefit. The crowd, as far as cricket is considered, on its own shouted for two things only, ONE for any 4, 6, or wicket irrespective of the home or the visitor team (too much talk of loyalty in IPL), and TWO, when their favorite cricketer came close to boundary line or waved at them. Rest of the time everyone was busy watching and cheering the cheerleaders.

Overall I can confess that had it not been a sponsored trip and a few other things I would have really cribbed a lot more than I eventually did. My sincere thanks to the cheerleaders and lest I forget, also to the Delhi girls most of whom looked really stunning, you people really were the saving grace of the day.

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Taking the plunge, once again!

This was a romance which started in July 2009. Or should I say, became public then. Or to be precise, went virtual on the 4th. I knew it was meant to last, from the start. And I did secretly hope one day it would reach here, here i.e., my own website.

Like most of the most romantic relationships, we had our ups and downs. We went through times when we drifted apart, when we came closer-than-ever, when we just existed and when we became inseparable.

History is made as time moves on

We shared some of the most important secrets, we shared so many of our joys, so many of the memories and so many of inner feelings over the last 4 years bonded by 72 posts, poked by 229 comments and acknowledged by over 8600 views.

There were zones and there will be zones, there were moods and there will be moods, there were experiences and there will be experiences, there were memories and well, there be memories to keep this fire of romance burning bright.

Times moves on for history to be made

As we move on and take the biggest of the plunges together, I can’t hold back my enthusiasm and optimism that this romance will and can only grow on from here and who knows, this could open a few new and different avenues for some of us here.

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