Chapora Fort, Goa – The Dil Chahta Hai Fort

Chapora Fort, Goa – The Dil Chahta Hai Fort

Chapora remains a perfect vantage point for gazing at the sea as the waves gently nudge the shore in silent harmony. A short, uphill walk leads to the walls of the fort, where the three friends from Dil Chahta Hai stood in companionable silence, whilst facing the countenance of the sea that stretches out in front of their eyes in its splendid expanse; an excellent setting for taking time off from the rest of the world and letting yourself get lost in the arms of nature and history.
Goa gives you space to be alone and to party hard its your choice which way you want to go.

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The Nomads of Uttarakand

The Nomads of Uttarakand

Sadhu – At Manas Village:
I had gone to Uttarakands’ Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Saheb, trek last year. It was the most beautiful and un-forgetful experience of my life. In the recent natural calamity many people lost theirs lives, the government has no idea of the numbers yet. Based on the missing complains the govt will reach to some conclusion. But there were many nomads that we crossed in these areas no one must have filed their missing complain so these people have just vanished from Mother Earth without anybody knowing or caring. My heart felt condolence to all people known and unknown who are missing in this tragedy.

Bhutan – The Land of the Thunder Dragon

IMG_0229In my journey to travel the whole world, Bhutan had yet not come in my to do list. But absolutely no regrets, it is an unspoilt kingdom nestled in the eastern part of the Himalayas where culture and traditional lifestyle is still intact.

As there is no direct flight from Mumbai we routed the journey via Kolkata, DRUK-AIR (Royal Bhutan Airlines) is the national carrier of the Royal Government of Bhutan and the only airline officially allowed to fly into Bhutan. When the announcement came from the cockpit to prepare for landing I could swear that the wings of the plane were going to touch the mountain sides as we descended into the Valley of Paro. I soon realized that it was the least of my worries as puts it so cunningly ” There are only two emotions in a plane boredom and terror” and it was the latter that filled my being when I saw what must be the shortest airstrip in the world. I braced myself for one of those “have you been shot down or fallen from the sky” landings but the jet touched down on the runway with the same grace and poise.

Our Base in Bhutan was the capital – Thimphu, as we drove from Paro to Thimphu our Guide told us about the friendly relations India shares with Bhutan due to which an Indian can enter Bhutan even without a passport and there is no daily allowance policy like it has for most of the other country citizens.

Monasteries, temples and religious monuments are dotted across the landscape, bearing witness to the importance of Buddhism, while red-robed monks are everywhere, mingling freely in towns, villages and markets. Most of the population continue to live in small, isolated farms and hamlets, surrounded by terraced fields of rice and cereal crops. The general approach to life is more relaxed. It is rare to see Bhutanese nationals in Western dress, men wear a knee length, hand-woven robe called the “kho”¦ and women wear an ankle length garment called the “kira”¦, which is made from fine, hand-woven fabric, for which Bhutan is well known.

A trip to Bhutan normally begins and ends in Paro. As we disembarked from our flight the first thing that struck us was the very distinctive architectural style reflected in all of the buildings, unlike anything we had seen before. Willow trees line the main road from the airport to Paro town and a pleasant peace fills the air and from the high places bright coloured flags flutter in the wind sending out their prayers on windhorses. Paro is host to the national museum and the oldest dzongs in Bhutan.

Tiger’s Nest, a few kilometres outside of Paro town, is an absolute must for all visitors. The hike on foot to the monastery takes about 3 hours up hill and around 2 hours downhill, this may vary. It is said the Guru Rinpoche arrived in Paro Valley more than a millennium ago on the back of a legendary tigress. He meditated in a cave for 3 months and a monastery was later built called Tigers nest or Taktshang Lhakang.

Punakha another city, 2 hours’ drive from Thimphu is the winter capital of Bhutan, it houses the second oldest monestary, Punakha Dzong. The Dzong is located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers in the Punakha–Wangdue valley.

Bhutan was different than any place I have seen till date, it had a young, fresh, clean, with very spicy food. Being so close to India it had very little resemblance to our country. The people are religious yet modern in many aspects.

Bhutan has many adventure options, especially treks, so that is one agenda in my mind for the future, as of now made friends for life and with the help of them lived the Bhutanese way for 7 days.

 

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Kolhapur – the land of Rani Tarabhai

Work is not always bad, and especially if you are one of those who travel along with work, it is even better. Over the 5 years of my corporate life, I have visited some good places and ensured I get a glimpse and feel of the place before I leave.

So my recent work trip was to Kolhapur, I had heard a lot about the Mahalaxmi temple and wanted to visit it from some years, so on the second day of my visit I got up at 7.00 am and took an auto to the temple.IMG_0239

Some history about Kolhapur, once upon a time, there lived a demon called Kollasura. He tormented the local people who prayed for deliverance from his evil influence to Mahalakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and protection. Soon the Goddess herself came and conquered him and that’s how this place came to be called Kolhapur.

The temple is with stone carvings of women and gods and goddess, beautiful charming place; many small temples surround the premise of other gods.

Near to the temple premise is the Chappal lane, to buy Kolhapur chappals, now a days we see these chappals in Mumbai stalls too, but I still picked up 3 pairs as the leather seemed more genuine, but don’t forget to bargain (they may agree to give you in quarter of the price they quoted). Kolhapur is also very famous for costume jewellery, termed Kolhapur saz, one can get loads of jewellery made of silver dipped in gold, at affordable prices, available around the temple

The next stop was the “New Palace”, the architecture of the palace is a combination of Jain and Hindu influences from Gujarat and Rajasthan, and local Rajwada style. There is a museum called Shahaji Chhatrapati Museum at New Palace, I would not see any of these possessions as the timings of the museum and my office clashed. But I must tell you an interesting part of this campus, it as a beautiful pond and has many reindeers, that is housed by the Maharaja till date, beautiful birds, peacocks ducks. Quiet a site to watch especially with such a close proximity.IMG_0261Kolhapur Ben

Food in Kolhapur is supposed to be very spicy, but the foods I had was mush bearable probably tamed down for us who are not from this area. Fish and mutton dishes are very popular along with a thali you will also be served pandhara rasa (white liquid like soup) and tamdha rasa (red spicy liquid ) which is a peculiarity here. If you are a fan of cooking you get nice readymade masala’s in many shops near laxmipuri vegetable market.

I had the opportunity to drive from Kolhapur and head to sangli, kurunwadi and icharlkaranji rural rich areas, with vast fields of jowar, sugarcane, etc.. lot of greenery, big enormous bungalows.

It was a good productive 3 days travel & work wise too, yes I did work too ;).

Maybe next time when you are planning a place in Maharashtra you can give this place a try, less crowd more to see. Every evening at 8.30 pm Mahalaxmi train leaves from Mumbai to Kolhapur and similar time leaves for Kolhapur to Mumbai which reaches the next morning at 7.30.

Awaiting my next trip…

 

New Palace the walls of the Mahalaxmi temple