Mount Abu – an awesome destination nestled in the Aravallis

Mount Abu, the place for temples, ‘points’ and well, ‘mounts’, can be a surprise for many for many reasons . If you have clubbed it with your visit to Udaipur (for places to visit in Udaipur, click here), then it’s perfect. If you are coming here as the only travel destination, you must plan for a short trip only.

A day can be sufficient to see Mount Abu
And that seems to be the popular thought and the business model too. There are a lot of places to see but it all gets planned in a way that you’ll end up seeing everything in a single day quite comfortably.

Site seeing in Mount Abu

If you have your own car, you can move around and see all the places. Else, the standard there is half day and full day trips though bus or private cab. We chose the 2nd option for the former as well as latter. The charge for full day trip is about Rs1600. We also booked the same cab to take us to Abu Road railway station in the evening for Rs600/-.

Nakki Lake is famous for boating

To find beautiful lake like the Nakki Lake on the top of a hill is always a sight to behold. It is a very famous spot and even if you don’t see rest of the placs, you are likely to come here in the evening, enjoy a boat ride maybe and have tea. There are small fountains around the lake and a boat-shaped restaurant. You can expect to spend couple of hours here.

Nothing matches the Dilwara temples

This is one place that will surprise you the most and leave you with fond memories. The very famous Jain temples form a world famous site and once you enter it, you’ll surely agree to that. There are 4 temples in the compound and you’ll be taken through a guided tour in a large group. You’ll surely like the beauty of the place and end up appreciating the marvelous temples.

Ride up the Guru Shikhar hill

You’ll enjoy the ride to the top, well almost. The famous Guru Shikhar at 1722m it’s the highest hill of the Aravallis. It has a temple on the top and for that you’ll need to walk few hundred steps. It’s not as tiring as it may sound and you’re surely going to like the view from the top.

Brahma Kumaris center and peace park

In many ways and for many people, Mount Abu is now synonymous with Brahma Kumaris and the reason being this place is considered to be their spiritual headquarter. Their Peace Hall and Peace Park are 2 most popular tourist spots in Mount Abu. They also share their philosophy with you at both the places.

Achalgarh fort is decent place

Though its famous as Achalgarh fort, when you go there, everyone goes to a temple and not the fort like structure that you see at a short distance. I enjoyed clicking pictures of that fort more than the small market and temple which is under doing renovation.

Honeymoon Point and Sunset Point are good too

Both Honeymoon Point and Sunset Point are visited by all. Honeymoon Point is just a small area frequented by all even though going by its names it should not. Sunset Point though as many designated areas which people use to stand on and watch the sun set. And obviously, it is the most crowed place considering all the tourists converge there in the evening to enjoy the moment.
To be honest, I was not too thrilled to go there initially but to watch sun set was actually a spectacular moment. And since it’s about 1km walk from the taxi stand, a lot of people ride the hand-driven carts, famous as Maruti of Mount Abu. We did the same and experience is thrilling and scary at the same. This is the 2nd place after Kolkata where I came across hand driven carts to ferry people.

Overall you can have a memorable day-long sightseeing trip of Mount Abu and also enjoy some decent food.

Udaipur, the city of lakes and more

If Udaipur is the place for lakes, ‘poles’ and well, palaces then Mount Abu is the place for temples, ‘points’ and well, ‘mounts’. And for most tourists, Udaipur and Mount Abu are part of the itinerary, as it was for me. First let me take you to Udaipur and then we’ll go to Mount Abu too (click here for Mount Abu)
Udaipur is more than city of lakes
Udaipur is famous for being the city of lakes and rightly so too. It has two magnificent lakes in Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lake but it has a lot more to offer and enjoy as well.
If you visit Udaipur, there is a good chance that you’ll get a hotel to stay near a lake with a view of the same. I stayed at Hanuman Ghat which is on the Lake Pichola, but I’ll say it’s actually on the backwaters of this lake. I could see the City Palace from my room’s window and the roof top restaurant but could not see the entire lake. And that would be true for most to the hotels there.
The City Palace is awesome
City Palace is one of the top tourist attractions of Udaipur. You need time and stamina to see it completely and enjoy it and the effort is worth it also. Unfortunately for us, when we visited the belongings of Maharana Pratap were being restored and hence were not on the display. But I’d say, spending Rs 250/- on the ticket was still reasonable.
Jagdish Temple is nearby
Jagdish Temple is very near to the City Palace and is also one place you should visit. It is not a very big temple but very impressive. And yes, it has some really nice places to eat nearby.
Bhagore ki Haveli is must see
Of all places you’ll see and enjoy in Udaipur, the one you have to see at any cost (Rs 90 I think) is the evening show at the Bhagore ki Haveli. It’s just breathless. The one hour show has traditional dances, puppet show and songs. And they have kept the best item for the last; go ahead and see this for sure. Rest in Udaipur is great but this is above all.
Fateh Sagar Lake is also good
And I am saying ‘also good’ just because I was staying near Lake Pichola and went to Fateh Sagar Lake for boating only. The boating costs Rs 100/- (per person) in general boats and higher in special boats, of course. The view all around the lake is quite impressive. You can also enjoy some snacks near the lake, we just loved them.
Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace could have been better
Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace is on the top of a hill and offers great view of Udaipur. In fact you can see the old city and the new construction, both from the Monsoon Palace. The ride to the top cost 100 odd rupees per person in the shared cab and there is a ticket price for the palace too. Except for the location, this is not a well maintained property and I didn’t find that very encouraging.
Sajjangarh Biological Park is better
On the foothills of the palace, there is the Sajjangarh Biological Park, which to me was better place to spend time than the palace. It has reasonable ticket, Rs 40 I think, but it is also wiser to hire (Rs 50 per person) the shared golf cart to take you through the park. Not a big park but has many animals including white tiger and leopard. And to our amusement, one of the leopards continued to walk close to the fence, just 2 feet away from us.
Hathipole for shopping
Contrary to what others might suggest, the best place to do shopping is Hathipole. It has all kinds of shops but the most common items sold are footwear, purses and clothes. And these are the things which have a distinct flavor of Udaipur and Rajasthan. The price is competitive though bargaining can be hard.
Moving within Udaipur is easy and cheap
My advice for moving within Udaipur is to use auto-rickshaws. These are easily available and fairly priced. We paid between Rs 40 to 80 for most of the destinations. And the auto-rickshaw drivers are very helpful also. But yes, like in every city of India I guess, when it came to dropping us to the bus station in the morning, they started off with Rs 150 and we had to settle for Rs 100. On any other time, it would have cost Rs 60 but these are the ways of the tourist places.
Udaipole for buses to Mount Abu
Most of the tourists visiting Udaipur also make plans for Mount Abu (and other nearby places like Haldi Ghati, Kumbalgarh, Chittorgarh – but I didn’t go there) and if you plan to use public transport to reach there, Udaipole is the place you need to visit. Unfortunately, you won’t get to use Govt.’s public transport options since their buses drop you at Abu Road only, which is on the foothills of Mount Abu. But good thing is – for less than Rs 300 you can get a seat in a good condition 2X2 bus. If you visit Udaipole, you’ll find many options but book tickets in time. And almost all buses either leave at 8:30am or 3:30pm, so plan accordingly.
To know more about places to visit in Mount Abu, click here

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

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Hatu Peak

Hatu Peak, at the height of 3400m or more than 11152feet, is a beautiful hilltop to visit. And the road that takes you to the top is arguably one of the steepest and scariest roads that you’ll drive through in your lifetime. On the top, there is a wonderful temple of Hatu goddess, a Govt. rest house, few rocks where people click pictures and a spectacular view.
The road to the top of the Hatu Peak is a climb of more than 5km which you’ll have to drive at first gear of your car for 95% of the route. The road is so narrow that only one car can move and that too slowly. Then worse part is if a car comes from the other side, there are only few places that have been specifically created to be wide enough to let two cars pass each other. Which means you have to reverse your car many times, and you’ll need someone to guide you and help you with that.
A kind of relief is, at the middle of the climb to the top of the Hatu Peak, there is a point where there is open space, a small pond a shop where you can take a breath, relax and then restart the journey. And when you climb down Hatu Peak, you again have to drive at first gear else speed becomes too much and you don’t have sufficient road width to navigate the turns.
The constant honking of car horns is common and necessary on way to Hatu Peak. Everyone has to be vigilant and cooperative to wait on side of the road where you find space to let other cars pass through – that’s the only way to reach the top and then drive down too.
Thankfully the road is metalled and in good condition. I went to Hatu Peak in July and so there was no snow and no rains to on that particular day. Else in fog and in snow, the drive would be a nightmare and best avoided.
Most of the cars that go to the top are taxis with few daring to drive up themselves. You’ll need a strong heart, great driving skills and a good and powerful car to make it happen. Safe Drive!

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Trip to Kausani and Nainital with Almora on the way

Not your typical crowded hill station, Kausani in Uttrakhand is a fairly enjoyable place but only if looking at Nanda Devi, the 2nd highest peak in India, can give you the high. And if you have even slightest interest in photography, then waking up at 5 in the morning to watch and capture the Sun rising from the Himalayas is as breathtaking as anything can be.

And these two things made sure that my one night stay at Kausani was unforgettable. To this you add the drive from Gurgaon with stopover at Haldwani, Nainital and Almora and I had a blast for four days. It’s a different matter that 6-8 hours of driving with getting up early every day did take its toll. But after looking at the pictures I got to click, who is complaining.

How to reach Kausani?

In case you are planning a trip to Kausani from Delhi/Gurgaon, start early in the day and make Nainital your halt for the first night. Nainital in itself is a hugely popular tourist destination and perhaps the best and closest hill station from Delhi. So, be ready for traffic jams, parking woes, crowded places and yes, corrupt police too.

In Nainital, you can enjoy the boat ride in the lake, for the religious kind there is temple, a gurudwara and a mosque too. Do try the food at the market, there are some shops which serve really sumptuous food. And for the ones who like shopping, there are shops selling amazing and ahead of fashion clothes.

The next day, start at your comfort and drive down to Bhawali, from there take the route to Almora, then Kosi and you’ll be in Kausani, 6 hours tops. The road condition is more or less ok with the spectacular valley just before Kausani taking the cake.

We didn’t go into the Almora town and were happy to click some pictures only. You make take a call and spend some time there as well. I did hope that maybe my experience of last time would get repeated but there were no leopards on the road this time. There were some wild birds though and I did get to click their pictures.

Places to visit in Kausani

Nanda Devi is the star attraction

Like I said earlier, the key attraction in Kausani is the view of Nanda Devi. And don’t be surprised that every hotel (about 35) there offer a view of the peak and that’s their biggest and only selling point. Also, not all hotels are up to the mark, they are still making profit though.

In addition to Nanda Devi, there are so many peaks around it that you’ll be amazed. And surprisingly, to the naked eye, Nanda Devi doesn’t strike as the tallest of them all. But it surely is. Once you are there, take out your camera and start clicking. In case you are wondering what if you miss the sun rise, I think that should be least of your worries. The hotel staff will be banging on your doors at 5 in the morning.

Shiva temple in Baijnath is quite good

On your 2nd day of stay at Kausani, you can visit Shiva temple at Baijnath, about 17-18 km away. The 9-10th century temple is on a river bed and is a cool place to visit especially for the ones who love history and historical places.

While on your way to or way back from the temple, you may visit the Shawl making factory. The place is fairly interesting and you can see how shawls are made, you can buy some for you too. But one drawback is the price of the goods, that’s a little too much. But the entire system there points to the fact that it’s been tailor made to make more money out of tourists. But I guess that’s true of all tourist places.

And yes, there are some tea gardens that they say are good. But when I was there in end of June, I could see no such thing. But it could just be a case of bad timing.

Places to stay in Kausani

Like I was saying earlier, there are plenty of hotels though not all are of good standard. Ours was just OK types. The worse thing was, we booked the hotel using Agoda.com and they claimed we got a discount. But when I checked at the hotel, the ‘discounted price’ we paid was actually the actual price as well.

I guess in the entire journey from Gurgaon to Nainital to Kausani, the corrupt cop and the cheater Agoda.com were the only two low points. Otherwise, Kausani and of course Nainital are really good places for spending couple of days away from the heat of Delhi.

Himachal Pradesh in Pictures

An uncontrollable, somewhat premature; “I-can’t-help-but-share-now” kind of an urge. Some memories, some pictures, some moments will just stay in your mind forever. Thankfully I had stolen, captured and saved some of those from Himachal Pradesh.

Not good camera work – not even decent, not worthwhile locales – just random, not a moment from the history – just pure and simple memory.

From my home town Bilaspur to Dharamshala, McLeodganj, Chamunda Devi, Manali, Palampur, Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti, here are some moments from my own life and time – Himachal Pradesh in pictures for you:

 

Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Lahaul and Spiti

Dear  Globetrotters, it had been over a week of my parents circumnavigation trip and they had been experiencing a different kind of world (click here for Part I, Kinnaur). Even though I was some 800km away, I was having my own share of their experiences. Sitting in increasingly hot summer of Gurgaon I was jealous of the increasingly cold weather they were facing. They were spending money on buying more woollens like caps and pullovers since the ones they carried proved to be insufficient and I was eating 5rs ice cream bars after lunch. Then they were struggling to stay in touch; fortunately my mom’s BSNL mobile came to the rescue but my dad could use his Airtel neither to make calls nor to access internet. In fact it was after ages that they had to use the PCO to make a call to me.

Kaza, Lahaul and Spiti and a World of its Own

That PCO call came from Nako lake (Read Part I, Kinnaur to find more, click here ) and my dad told me that they were then planning to go to Kaza (click for location and how to reach Kaza) the next day and that part of the journey was perhaps the most exciting of their entire trip. The road was along the amazing Spiti river and their bus took almost 7 hours to cover a distance of 100km and once they reached Kaza after 9pm, it was pitch dark with no soul to help them go anywhere. Thankfully two bank officers just happened to turn up and became the rescuers. The nice chaps in fact had a torch with them and actually took my parents to the rest house where dad had made their reservations in advance. Had they not turned up, my parents would have had the worst experience of not just the trip (spending two hours in rain in a broken rain shelter two days ago would not even come close) but perhaps the life.

The beauty of Kaza (click for location and how to reach Kaza), which is situated at an altitude of 3,650m/11,980ft in the Spiti Valley of Lahaul and Spiti district, that they experienced the next day took away all the tiring experience of the day before and they felt content considering they had now reached the exact middle point of their circumnavigation trip (510km from Bilaspur). This was definitely going to be the point of return since the road beyond this place was closed and as dangerous as it could get. The weather may have played spoil sport with their circumnavigation plans, but while visiting such terrain, you must always be prepared for the worse things to happen.

The adventures continued even during journey back home

They started their journey back and stayed the night at Reckong Peo and the adventure was not over yet. Their plan was to stay the night and take early morning bus to Shimla where they would have reached in like 11 hours after travelling 225km and then take late night bus to reach home at Bilaspur after another 3.5 hours and 90km. But some surprises were still left. The road was closed thanks to a landslide and they had to stay out for one more day. Even when they started the next day, they first had to take a bus to the point of landslide, then shift to a smaller vehicle that could only cross the affected area, then again take a bus to finally reach Shimla.

And then eventually they reached home in Bilaspur at midnight after 11 days and 1020km. The call that I got from my dad once they entered home brought relief to all of us considering the challenges that were thrown at them by the ever changing scenarios. But my dad’s voice had another story to tell – it was filled with satisfaction of having seen so many places, excitement of having lived those moments, sadness of having missed completing the circumnavigation and above all anticipation of looking forward to his next trip.

How to reach and where to stay in Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti?

If you are a frequent traveller then you know this and if you are not then take note of this, visiting offbeat tourist destinations can be tricky, always full of surprises and devoid of usual facilities and that is something that adds to the excitement.

To reach there, only option is by road and best way is to use state road transport buses. The roads are scary and difficult to drive on, you never know when snow or landslide will force you to abandon your own vehicle and shift to another one and it’s so far off that driving can tire you off. One more thing, these buses are not tourist buses so don’t expect any kind of luxuries at all.

For stay, you’ll easily find hotels in all the places that I have mentioned. These may again not be the luxury hotels you may be used to but are neat and clean and reasonably priced. And I don’t think you can make reservations online, but no harm in searching and trying. My parents were able to find a hotel everywhere easily after reaching there and I don’t think they had to pay much for any of those.

One trip in one life time, that’s bare minimum and will do too

I know these places are so far off and do not promise a smooth trip but I think they deserve to be visited. One trip in one life time, that’s a must. My dad had been to most of these places before, for my mom it was the first time and frankly their age is not really on their side and they were travelling alone too. But for travel aficionados like them visiting new places is one of the things matters, rest all is secondary.  Proud of my DNA, proclivity for travelling and inspired by them, I’ll definitely make this trip my own one day and share my first hand experiences, something I like more and never miss a chance of.

Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Kinnaur

Attention Globetrotters: I had never done it in the past, I am not sure whether I’ll ever do it again but I am sure by the time, as a true travel aficionado, you are done reading this two part series (click here for Part II, Lahual and Spiti) and looking at the pics; you would have done more Google ‘research’, started making some ‘travel plans’ of your own, and hope to ‘be there’ one day.

it’s Different… 

Here the scenery is not always green and often black; roads can be dangerous and frequently blocked, accommodation at times sparse and just about OK, mobile and internet connectivity mostly only on public carrier and scrubby, even then I can bet that you would die to be at Kaza town, Spiti river, Nako lake, Sangla valley, Kalpa town, Spiti valley, Reckong Peo town, and so many more of similar absolutely awesome places at least once in your life time and possibly many times. What’s intriguing, till not very long ago in the past, outsiders needed special Government of India permits to visit many of these places considering the nearby Indo-Tibet border. We are now lucky that way…

What did I never do in the past?

Let me first set the context. I write my first hand experiences of places I visit, but this time it’s borrowed or a better word could be ‘vicarious’. My parents went on their umpteenth travelling trip at the start of this May and as they started sharing their experiences from day 1, my desire to be with them and be part of their trip started multiplying with each new place they would visit and describe. And looking at the pictures, I already started planning my own possible trip in the nearest possible future.

Interesting but not really surprising, in fact fairly obvious is the fact that my parents, especially dad, are the primary reason I fell in love with travelling and visiting new, different, distant and not just popular places. Thanks to them, by the time I passed out of college, I had been to at least one place in Assam, West Bengal, Orissa (Odhisha), Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra and Telangana), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra and UP, and all this even at the cost of exams at times. Since I am from Himachal Pradesh, I am not including that in the list (just did).

Not just a trip – a 1000+km 15+day circumnavigation

Coming to the current point, one fine evening I got a whatsapp message from my dad mentioning they were planning a trip. And it was an audacious plan of “completing a 1000+km 15+day 12000+feet/3650+m altitude circumnavigation through route Bilaspur – Shimla – Rampur – Reckong Peo – Kaza – Keylong – Manali – Kullu – Bilaspur (click here to see and appreciate it)”. I have myself been to Shimla, Rampur, Kullu and Manali. But rest of the places are in Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh, places not sought for by the usual travellers, some due to lack of knowledge perhaps and also due to its distance, but places which have so much to offer. I said, go for it and there started an amazing journey, full of loads of excitement.

Rampur Bushahr or just Rampur, the popular new town and the old principality 

With everything else in place, my parents started their journey one Saturday morning. After over 220km day long state road transport bus travel from Bilaspur to Rampur, which is in and about 130km from Shimla, my parents made their first night halt. It was dark, raining and a little cold. But they had started enjoying their trip. However, rain and cold in the month of May can be a little worrying too when you are about to make your trip to places which are not easy to approach due to possible landslides and could get really cold due to snow – and all that was waiting to happen and happened over the next 10 days.

In Rampur (click for location and how to reach Rampur), my parents visited the small but impressive palace of the erstwhile rulers, appreciated the mighty Sutlej River and moved on to their next possible stop. Considering the weather they set aside their audacious circumnavigation trip for a while and decided to take it one day at a time. It was an important moment in what was bound to be once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it did turn out to be same albeit they had to return half way from Kaza but with no regrets.

Sangla, Reckong Peo, Nako lake: the unexplored Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh

My parents who had decided to see how far they could reach – a wise decision that stemmed from their vast travelling experience, understanding of the region and my dad’s past trips to some of these places, were now ready to leave Shimla and enter Kinnaur.

Sangla Valley (click for location and how to reach Sangal Valley) located about 100km and 5-6hours away became their next destination. A very important tourist destination with river Baspa flowing through it, this is one place that must be on your travel itinerary. Places like Jhakhri, Nichar, Wangtu fall on the way and are beautiful and important in their own ways.

From there they moved on to Reckong Peo (click for location and how to reach Reckong Peo), more famous for being headquarters of Kinnaur district and known for tourist destination Kalpa. Located at the height of about 2,290 m/7,500+ft, this is important from commercial point of view as well. What is also interesting to mention here is, though the district is called Kinnaur, there is no place by that name.

With rain and cold playing hide and seek they now contemplated starting their return journey. But then the weather report for next couple of days turned out to be favourable and my parents decided to stick around and move forward, a decision they didn’t regret one bit.

Poo or Puh (click for location and how to reach Poo or Puh), a place located at an altitude of about 2,660m/8,700+ft and about 70 km and 3-4 hour drive away became the next stop. From there they went to the beautiful high altitude Nako lake (click for location and how to reach Nako lake), which is located at more than 3,660m/12,000+ft above sea level. My parents told me this was a sight to behold amidst the mighty cold, I couldn’t help but wish I were there.

Alas!.. Hopefully, may be sometime soon…

Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Lahaul and Spiti

The story doesn’t here. Go on and continue with the journey, click here for Unexplored, Unparalleled and Unique Himachal Pradesh – Lahaul and Spiti.

Tijara, a Jain temple dedicated to Tirthankar Chandraprabhu

Tijara temple is perhaps one of the most important and most visited Jain temples nearby Delhi. The Tijaraji temple is dedicated to the eighth Jain teerthankara, Chandraprabhu baghwan. Situated in Alwar district of Rajasthan, the temple is just over 100km from Delhi and about 75km from Gurgaon. The best part is, all you need is a car, just about 5 hours in a day and you can make a memorable pilgrimage to a beautiful and pious Jain temple.

The history and the importance of Tijara temple

The temple is dedicated to Chandra Prabhu baghwan and his idol is the principal deity of the temple. In the year 1956 the marvellous deity was recovered at the very spot where the temple stands today. This fact takes back the history of the Tijaraji temple, the idol and the place itself to hundreds of years.

The idol of teerthankara Chandra Prabhu is quite astonishing. You can say your prayers inside the temple. The architecture of the temple is very impressive and the entire complex is serene. The temple is revered by the Jains but you can easily find non-Jains who come to pray and many tourists too.

Just behind the main Tijaraji temple and part of the complex, there is another small temple which you should visit and say your prayers there too.

How to reach Tijara temple?

Reaching Tijara is fairly easy (click for directions) especially if you have a car and you live in or around Delhi. From Delhi or Gurgaon, take the NH8 towards Jaipur. Once you reach Dharuhera, leave the NH and take the left route to Alwar. Next main town you’ll cross is Bhiwadi which is also in Rajasthan. From there you’ll be taking a right. At the toll plaza tell them you are going till Tijara and you’ll be coming back – this way you’ll have to pay less money for toll. After that just keep driving straight till you reach a roundabout, from there you’ll be taking the left road – though the signages are there so you’ll not get confused. If you need to ask for directions, ask for Tijara and/or Alwar – the temple is on the road to Alwar.

After driving for a couple of kms, you’ll reach a small habitation and from there you need to take a left to the Tijaraji temple. This left cut can be missed, since it’s within buildings/shops and the signage, though it’s there, is smaller and a little higher and can be easily missed. My advice, drive slow, keep checking and maybe ask someone on the road for the Tijara temple when you reach this habitation.

The Parking, the Food and the Bazaar

Once you have taken the left, rest is easy. The Tijaraji temple is now only about 100m and make sure you park your car inside the covered area. There are stairs to the temple from this area on its right far off corner (behind the stage) and the place where you should eat is also right there on the left far off corner – temple stairs and eating area are exactly opposite to reach other.

Parking is free. The food that is served there is simple, unlimited, fantastic and reasonably priced. Before you eat, you’ll need to buy a coupon which is available within the temple complex. Make sure to check the timings they have mentioned for the food, lunch is not available after 1pm.

If you are keen on shopping or you have missed the food, there is a small bazaar on the other side of the temple. I can’t comment on food served in restaurants there since during both my visits I ate in temple – that food for me is too good to be missed. About shopping, check out the papads there, it’s a speciality.

All the Makings of a Memorable trip

If you were to trust my experiences of visits to the Tijara temple, I have been there twice, you can be sure your trip will have all the things needed to make it a memorable one. The drive will be exciting since the road is nice for most part and the traffic jams, if happen, are horrible. The accompanying things like parking and food are taken care of. And most important of all, Tijaraji temple is a place of pilgrimage you should visit at least once.

Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan

Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan ( President’s Estate) in New Delhi is a beautiful place. For the flower lovers it’s simply outstanding and quite understandably too. It has unlimited varieties of flowers like tulip, roses, dahlia and what not – I could not recognise others though my wife could. In fact it has innumerable sub-varieties of each of these different kinds of flowers it boasts of. And my guess is roses lead in terms of numbers and varieties too – it has a dedicated rose garden with some really interesting names like ice berg, just joey, Oklahoma, china man and what not.

Reaching and preparing for your visit to the Mughal Gardens

The Mughal Gardens are open as part of Udyanotsav for general public for about 4-5 weeks in the months of February and March every year. You can visit it on weekend and that’s the best part with Monday being the day it’s closed. Second best part could be that the entry is free. The entry/exit (click here for directions) is from Gate No 35 of the President’s Estate, which you can approach from North Avenue.

If you are coming by car, it’s open parking on the road, for free of course. If you come by metro, you’ll find these new e-rickshaws which will take you to the Mughal Gardens. Since I went by car, I can’t advise which metro station would be best. Leave all your water bottles, handbags, eatables, etc. at home as you can’t carry anything inside. There are cloak rooms in case you still end up carrying something, but why risk it. And if you are worried about getting hungry, well there is a canteen at the exit area and plenty of street food options.

Cameras not allowed, but mobile phone is

Cameras are also not allowed inside and that’s kind of a bummer. But they don’t mind or look the other way when you use your mobile to click pictures. So if you don’t have a mobile with a really good camera – like my mobile camera is pathetic, my suggestion is borrow it from your friend. And frankly, I hope in future they’ll allow people to take their cameras inside otherwise the visit to Mughal Gardens feels kind of incomplete. Else, you end with pictures like following which don’t do justice to the beauty of the flowers at all.

More than just flowers

And flowers are not the only thing you find in the Mughal Gardens. It has a dedicated area for the bonsai plants, whose number also runs into hundreds. Then there are so many of those medicinal plants and spices too. Then there is spiritual garden which has trees which are sacred to different religions. In spite of all this, needless to say the flowers are the most captivating attraction for most.

Historical connections

And for someone like me who falls in love with historical places and monuments, Mughal Gardens is another way of reliving India’s Medieval history and also rare chance to get as close as a common man can to the buildings of Rashtrapati Bhavan. For me that part, that feeling, that’s what would took the cake.

But be it flowers or history or anything else, to believe what Mughal Gardens are, you have to see it with your own eyes.