Gangolihat – Hat Kalika temple, Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave, all in the heart of Himalayas

Incredible beauty, caves as old as the earth itself with links to Ramayana and Mahabharata, a temple of the designated goddess of a regiment of Indian army and chosen by Adi Guru Sankaracharya: my road trip to Gangolihat at 1,760 metres in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand proved to be an ideal way to end 2013. The 500 km 3 day amazing road trip with wife and in-laws was a great driving adventure with the close on-the-road encounter with leopard being the cherry on the cake.

Reaching and staying at Gangolihat

For me the journey started first from Gurgaon and was likely to end at Haldwani after 300km drive, considering we were visiting my in-laws but better sense prevailed well in time and we decided to visit Gangolihat, the hill town my in-laws and their ancestors actually belong to. The 200km drive (Click for route) from Haldwani to Gangolihat was something that excited me immediately and a quick Google search revealed so many outstanding interesting places there that I could not wait to be there to see and visit each one of them.

To make it easier for you in case you plan to visit Gangolihat, from Gurgaon/Delhi take NH 24 through Moradabad (bypass), enjoy meals at Gajraula, cross Rampur and Rudrapur (expect potholes for 20km), start uphill journey from Haldwani/Kathgodam, take the Bhimtal route, reach Almora after approx 80 km from Haldwani (just under 400km from Gurgaon, close to 11hours) and maybe stay there for the night. Next day take the Badechhina – Sheraghat route, take right from Raiagar and after 20km you would have reached Gangolihat after close to 5 hours of drive from Almora and that too through the snake like route. In Gangolihat there are few good options for stay, my advice get your rooms reserved in advance at the KMVN tourist rest house (click for more), it’s cheap and very nice place to stay.

Hat Kalika temple at Gangolihat

Hat Kalika temple is one of the two most impressive and popular places of interest in Gangolihat, the other one being Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave. This is a temple located just a km from the local market and is dedicated to the goddess Kalika Mata. Adi Guru Sankaracharya chose this temple for installation of Mahakali Shaktipeeth, which makes it not only one of the most revered places for the Hindus but also over hundreds of year old (12th century). And that’s not all, this temple holds a special place for the Kumaun Regiment of the Indian army– a fact that is too hard to miss when you visit the Hat Kalika temple. There are like a dozen gates which announce this special relationship.Hat Kalika

The Hat Kalika temple deity itself is amazing. We were very lucky when we visited as we got plenty of time to do puja there to our satisfaction and the pujari allowed me to click pics of the deity. The whole experience of being in the temple surrounded by deodar trees and inhabited by naughty monkeys was memorable. And it was after a long time I visited a temple where animal sacrifice is still a common practice.

Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave at Gangolihat

Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave is the other most important place to visit when you are at Gangolihat in addition to Hat Kalika temple. This limestone cave at about 14 km from Gangolihat is as outstanding as anything can be. Its history, the fact it is supposed to be as old as the earth itself and the legends about links to Ramayana and Mahabharata and historical proofs of visit by Adi Shankaracharya in 1191 AD make it a must see place.

For me the visit to the over 150m long and scary 90 feet deep Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave was a mix of geographical excursion and religious journey, both at the same time. The mix of limestone formations and religious significance was quite amazing. At first I could not muster enough courage to enter the cave – it’s a 30-40feet drop through a very narrow cave opening but once I started going down it only got more exciting. And once you reach the bottom, the cave suddenly becomes bigger with some spectacular formations all around.

It’s a pity that you are not allowed to take your cameras and cell phones inside the Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave thanks to some stupid and greedy priest who stole a priceless idol some years ago. It would have been a great experience to capture the inside of the cave in my camera but that was not supposed to happen.

The incredible beauty of Gangolihat

And in the middle of this, what you won’t miss is the incredible beauty of the place. There are snow clad Himalayas all around. If you have time visit nearby places, you can even have a look at the Nanda Devi – the 7,816 m second highest mountain in India, something I wanted to but could not find time to visit.

The rich traditions and folklore of Gangolihat

There are plenty of things that you as a regular tourist may miss out in Gangolihat but since this is the native place of my in-laws, I had that privilege, well almost. Every family/clan here has its own traditions and way of life, e.g. they have a family deity which is revered highly and is only worshiped by the family members. I being the son-in-law could not be part of the worship and my wife on account of being married has also lost that privilege now.

Moreover, you may not get to see the fruit orchards from close range if you are a regular tourist. I got the chance to see one owned by one of our relatives in Gangolihat and it was an experience in itself to pluck the oranges from the tree and relish them there and then. The taste of those juicy oranges was just splendid.

And if you are the luckiest of them all

The best part of the trip, the rarest for sure, was kept for the last. As we reached Almora on our way back from Gangolihat, a wild leopard was waiting for us to make our trip as extraordinary as it could have got. We took a 2 min halt at about 6:50pm to click the pictures of the Almora town and got out of the car. While we did so we didn’t know there was a leopard within 10-15 meter of the spot we were standing at.

When we restarted the journey, we took a right turn and came to a spot which was exactly below the spot where we had got down and took a few pictures of Almora and there it was, the leopard right in front of our car in the middle of the road. It was our bad luck that by the time I could take out my camera and “shoot” the wild animal, it was long gone and all we had left was the memory of those 4-5 seconds. I could not believe my luck – it was the second such leopard sighting for me in a 2013, the first one was in my home town in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. That time the leopard we met on the road was younger, may be 2 years old, and I could capture it in my mobile camera. I had my DSLR this time but the time was not sufficient, it was dark and the leopard was in real hurry. It was still spectacular nonetheless.

To summarize

If you are a sucker for road trips and hill stations which are not crowded with tourists, Gangolihat with its Hat Kalika temple and Patal Bhuvaneshwar cave, is more than a great destination. Since you will be travelling to a fairly far off place, it may make sense to spend more time in Almora, visit Ranikhet and also add Nanital and Bhimtal to your itinerary. Overall, you can be sure of a memorable trip.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISKCON Temple in New Delhi

ISKCON Temple in Delhi is a place where you can spend your Sunday with your friends. It was opened in 1998 and is located at the Hare Krishna Hills, which is in the East of Kailash, New Delhi.

If you want to visit there, it’ll make a lot of sense to do so around the time of daily aarti, like 4 pm. The idols placed there are awesome and will take your breath away. The temple complex is so constructed that it looks quite majestic from inside.

There are a few other interesting things also. If you go there; parking is free and is adjacent to temple up on the hill, just opposite the temple is an eatery where you get nice rajmah chawal for rs 30 only and there is an artificial tree inside the complex which looks really out of place. And yes, the kulfi they sell inside the complex is really nice too.

Here are a few pictures from my trip…

Lotus Temple in New Delhi

Lotus Temple Delhi is the famous  Bahá’í House of Worship and is definitely one place you would like to pay a visit. The temple is no doubt a marvel of a building and is also a place which does amazing things to people. If you have been to this place then you know that you have to keep quiet inside it and that’s what stands out as this may be the only place in India where you see lots of people and no noise what so ever.

Here are some of the pics from my last visit to the temple…

 

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Bhangarh Fort – the haunted fort or something else

Bhangarh Fort, they say, is one of the most haunted places in India. Well, ‘they’ can’t be trusted to be right all the time. But they can’t be questioned just like that too either.

After a rather disappointing visit to Sariksa Tiger Reserve, courtesy Supreme Court’s order and a 15 min delay on our part which could have been avoided, we got over excited to realize there is a haunted fort just 45km away waiting to be exorcised by us.

Highways and Forts

The journey towards the fort was quite interesting especially the Rajasthan State Highway that we took. The road was so bad and narrow that I suddenly found the really bad road to my village in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh, nothing less than an autobahn.

What were exciting on the road though were the three more forts (see the gallery below) we encountered; two on the way to Bhangarh Fort, one was the Ajabgarh Fort – this also looked haunted and another fort – don’t know what its name was but i think it was Kalighati Fort, and third one calledPratapgarh Fort on way to Jaipur from Bhangarh.

Anyhow, the most amazing part was the Bhangarh Fort, a little 3km off the National Highway (this road was better, but unlike any other NH I have seen). For me, this fort was the hallmark of my trip.

Fortified Fort

This entire fort has been well planned and constructed, the main bazaar, dancer’s place, temples, everything was quite amazing, nothing less thanreliving the past, if you have a strong liking for historical places and a stronger imagination.

And when I entered the palace, the hauntedness of the place started taking precedence. There were many things we found interesting especially while taking the pictures. For example, we took 2-3 pics in an otherwise dimly lighted room. There was an unnatural glow or kind of halo around us while we clicked pics, something which stayed in the pictures we have now. Spooky!

Tourists were making small houses of stones to keep the spirits away. And there was a temple dedicated to the Rani Ratnavati of the palace, right in the middle of the palace, never heard and seen anything like this before.

Pictures don’t lie, or do they?

As if this was not enough, when we saw all the pictures from the trip, we noticed a peculiarity in all the Bhangarh Fort pictures (see the gallery below), the left side of each picture is hazy whereas rest of the picture is crystal clear. Now, if that’s not a hint of hauntedness then what is?

There were a few dampeners too though. I did some research over internet before going to the fort and many people had written that Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) clearly prohibits entry (legal word was used too) after sunset to the fort as it is haunted, the dampener is that there is no such thing written except general directions (see the picture in gallery below).

And we checked with local residents, kids who force you to buy water from them and call you Bhaisa, and they said that it is not haunted. They did tell us that there is a threat of animals hence they avoid going out at night. Also, there was a pond inside the fort which has been closed now as 4-5 people have died after jumping into it. And that was all about it.

All in all, Bhangarh Fort is a place you can visit and take away your own set of memories.

Vrindavan – the Banke Bihari temple, ISKCON temple and Govardhan Parikrama

Of Vrindavan’s private temple, VIP tickets, temple promotions, and Godly siestas…

Banke Bihari temple, ISKCON temple, profound religious history, unimaginable faith and devotion; when I thought of visiting Vrindavan these were just top-of-the-mind recall phrases that were shared by my nears and dear ones. A quick Google search gives similar results. And I am sure Vrindavan is a name that will evoke these emotions in perhaps your mind too, like it did in mine. Except, the experience I had was slightly different, I learned a lot of things which were not in my agenda, nonetheless, the prime motive was accomplished, the religious experience was outstanding.

The “private property” that Banke Bihari temple is   

Banke Bihari temple is said to be the number one attraction, the most important temple in entire Vrindavan. We decided to visit it first. By the way, before I forget, let me tell you there is one very interesting fact about the temple timings, I’ll take it up pretty soon.

Anyhow, coming back to the Banke Bihari temple, it is amazing to say the least. Its history is interesting and importance unparalleled. The deity is matchless and devotion of pilgrims nothing short of unbelievable.

But that’s not all. The very first gate you’ll encounter when you enter the temple complex (it functions as Exit gate from the temple building) has a banner with a message meaning the temple is private property of Swami Hari Dass and his descendants. I also have a temple at home but never thought of it as a private property (I may have been thinking so at a subconscious level, who knows. Reading that message on the Banke Bihari temple and now writing about it has arisen some doubts).

And then, inside the temple there are “VIP tickets” for getting closest to the deity and for getting special calendar. The pujaris at the sanctum sanctorum are open about it, particularly about money. When my mom-in-law requested for a calendar she was told she needed “VIP ticket” – which took a woman who is a strong devotee totally by surprise and she snapped back saying how much you want for it – 1 lac or 2 lacs. The pujari perhaps got ashamed (perhaps) and handed her a calendar.

The temple timings and the siesta

And yes, about the fact about the temple timings. All the temples in Vrindavan are closed from 12:30pm to 4:30pm, that’s the time the Gods enjoy their siesta. And the timings are sacrosanct. So when you make plan to visit, make sure you keep in mind – you must reach as early as possible in morning to be able to visit lots of temples before doors are closed.  And then you can continue visiting temples later in the evening.

One quick tip; if you are going by your car, the 12:30pm to 4:30pm time can be utilized for lunch and for Govardhan Parikrama. For lunch, not sure if you will get the option to use credit/debit card, we didn’t. But there are quite a few ATMs, so no worries.

ISKCON temple, Prem temple and temple promotions

ISKCON temples have a charm of their own (click for ISKCON temple in New Delhi) and the one in Vrindavan was no different. It has supposedly come to be recognised as the second most popular temple in the area. I would also recommend it. We went there at 4:30pm when it reopened and had a great time.

Beyond this there is a long list of temples which are already there and are many more are coming up too. Mind , these temples may have highlights (selling points for some, and could be apparent only) which are other than religious. And there are all sorts of tricks and ways that are being adopted to promote these temples and get the innocent devotees to pay a visit and pay their respect (which obviously involves some monetary donation). Take for example the Prem Temple. Let me clarify, I did not visit it and I am only sharing what happened with me.

The auto we travelled in passed through this temple and the driver told us it’s a popular temple which has amazing lighting effects and we must visit at evening to see that. Then a guy walks up to us while we are waiting for the ISKCON temple to open, chats us up and starts talking about this temple. He repeats the same thing, this temple has amazing lighting effects and we should visit in evening. No one talked about the “temple” as we look at temples. Or maybe it was given that since it’s a temple in Vrindavan, it is Krsna temple.

Weekend road blocks and parking woes

Vrindavan is close to Gurgaon, about 140km, and a lot people visit it from NCR on weekends. In any case, Vrindavan attracts lots of devotees on Saturdays and Sundays from nearby and far off places and this means too many vehicles. The administration there has done some arrangements to manage things during weekends. This is an assumption though as police barricades were put up and half a dozen police personnel and parking lot attendants were managing it. However, the parking lot guys seemed more involved and were the ones talking to visitors, arguing with them and taking the heat in getting visitors to move and accept what was happening. May be it was because it was their primary revenue day.

Also, I saw a lot of cars beyond the barricade and most had UP number plates and from the looks of things, most of these were tourist vehicles. In the evening, traffic police men challaned and towed away many of these cars which were parked in no parking zone. So If you mange to take your car inside Vrindavan, make sure you park at the right places.

The narrow lanes and missing signages of Govardhan Parikrama

Like I was saying, the 12:30pm to 4:30pm time can best utilized for performing the Govardhan Parikrama, we did that. This path is on the other side of Delhi-Agra highway. As you come out of Vrindavan and hit the highway, take a right turn and then in 50m take a left (we missed left turn and ended up travelling over 5kms before we realized something is wrong, asked around and look a U-turn).

You’ll need to be careful on two fronts here. One, there are signboards to guide you around the Govardhan Parikrama but these have few shortcomings like these are not at all the places, not at critical places where these are must so keep asking people around at points you are confused. Some of the spans across the road are just too narrow for even one car to pass and there are cars coming from opposite side too. You’ll need all your skills to navigate these parts.

You’ll still be happy

Surprising, confusing, tiring (single day 6am to 9pm, ~400km trip; driving from Gurgaon to Vrindavan, in fact Mathura, I took a U–turn from near the janmsathali, then to Govardhan  then back to Vrindavan and then back to Gurgaon) and above all satisfying, this was a trip that made me happy and I am sure will make you happy too.

 

Taj Mahal and Agra Fort are awesome…

The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort are definitely two of the must see places in India and to a good extent, in the whole world. In fact Taj Mahal is in the must see list of tourists from all over the world and not just India. It has become a symbol of India for many of the Hollywood movies as well.

Beauty of Taj Mahal

Once you visit the Taj Mahal you can make it out why it is so popular. It may not come across as as magnificent as it you may have imagined it to be, as was the case with me, it’s outstanding nonetheless. And the whole compound in which it is located and the structure itself is fairly huge to make you a little tired in the end.

When you visit the Taj Mahal keep a few things in mind, like you should take the electric car from parking to ticket counter, we took the camel-cart, it was enjoyable but he deliberately takes you shopping and we didn’t like it that much.Also, they’ll not allow you to take any eatables or bags inside, so be careful you don’t carry anything else it becomes a hassle for you.

Agra Fort stands tall

To me Agra Fort looked more magnificent than anything, especially the entrance. It is not very far off from Taj Mahal and is a must see place too. The Jehangir’s Hauz was quite nice and the architecture was impressive too. The view of Taj Mahal from Agra Fort is really amazing too.

On a whole, the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort do a complete justice to the name and fame they carry and are places you should not miss visiting at least once.

 

Qutub Minar, a breathtakingly awesome tourist destination in Delhi

Qutub Minar, I believe after India Gate must be the most visited and preferred weekend destination in Delhi for people of Delhi and a must visit place for the tourists which come here from all over the world. Not just the tallest minaret in India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a prestigious honor indeed, this is a place which has a history spread over years and years and rulers after rulers.

Focusing strictly on the world of today, Qutub Minar in Delhi is a photographer’s delight. You look at Qutub Minar from any place around its complex and you see something different, something new and something unexplored to the eye. Its awesome and its just awesome.

And what made my visit even more memorable was the breathtaking maneuvers of pigeons and other birds, the way they all all of a sudden started flying in a flock as big as I had never seen. If you are lucky you might see it first hand when you visit there, if you miss it, don’t mind it. You will still be overexcited and content with the main attraction, the Qutub Minar itself.

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.