Thursday, 5 November 2009

Destination Mathura

 Blast from past!

The best memory i had of the last trip to this town was that I had the best Rabdi and matka doodh from the street side stalls and  unfortunately missing out on the main temple as it was closed. With this in my mind,We started from Fatehpur Sikri and to save on road tax, our driver decided to take the side roads. This resulted in one of best road trip across the rural India.































 Oh! By the way,We were on the way to Mathura, the birth place of Lord krishna. What can i say more but would suggest you enjoy the sights and hopefully get a sense of rustic like we did through some of the photographs.






















In case you are wondering why no shots of temple , cameras and cellphones are not allowed.

I missed the Main Radha Krishna temple in nick of time. We entered the temple but the grabha griha was closed. Once again the sight of krishna had eluded me. In the rush to enter the temple, I overlooked the vast wall looming behind the temple and army personnel at every corner. You hear about it but to actually see the proximity of the two structures takes you aback.  We decided to just ignore this and went ahead to erstwhile prison cell where Lord Krishna was born.The prison cell abuts the tall wall i had mentioned earlier!

The butter and sugar prasad was just out of the world and then we spotted this stall which was selling lassi.Believe it or not, i never had lassi before that day.Three of us decided to share one but it was so amazing that we ended up having  one each and mind you, these were extra large Malai marke lassi. I must say, the cows of Mathura must be a happy lot!  They and  their milk have magic in them.

Hopefully i get third time lucky and do get the darshan of radha and krishna. kanhaiya, are you listening to me!!

Location: Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Date of travel: November 2009

Tip:Try any dairy product
Must do: Radha Krishna Temple
First: Taste something for the first time!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Destination Fatehpur Sikri

Blast from past!

This was the third stop over of our Delhi, Agra trip. I was extremely excited about getting there. In fact i woke my friends up at 4.30 am and they were forced to have cold showers in winter because of me (Ganga Ratan employees don't think anyone is foolish to take shower at 4.30 am in winters!). My friends still haven't forgiven me for that! I was revisiting this place after 22 years. I just couldn't wait to get there.

After having a quick breakfast with a big bunch of Japanese tourist, we set off. Once again!! the great road trip...the most colorful one which was intercepted with the buffalo and goat bazaar happening on the highway.



Regret the quality of photographs of this trip as  it was taken from my cellphone. Remember i was in this part of country on "work". So didn't have my camera with me!

So where were we getting at so early in the morning? Well you must have guessed it! It was to Fatehpur Sikri. Our first stop was Jama Masjid. If you didn't know, there are two different complex close to each other - Masjid at Fathepur and the palace at Sikri


Here we were 9.00 in the morning and we had the place to ourselves except for 5-10 other enthusiasts like us and some locals. We just got lost in the history and architecture!
Unfortunately the USP of fathepur these days seem to be that x/y movie was shot there, the fight took place here, the hero fell here etc , the faith of people at Salim chisti  and of course the infamous door through which anarkali escaped certain death!






















There is just one word to describe the Sikri palace complex - Amazing!! This place brought in more emotions than the mighty Taj. The intricacy of the built form and the romance of history just made this place unbeatable.























The few hours we spent at Sikri was not enough to soak in the beauty of this old city. Unfortunately we had a flight to catch in evening with the quick stop over at Mathura. I hope to come back to this place one day and catch the rising sun!

Location: Fatehpur Sikri
Date of travel : November 2009

Tip: Avoid crowds early morning to take the spirit of heritage in peace
Must do: Sikri Palace complex
First: Fall for the pressure of offering a chaddar at Salim Chishti Tomb but with open heart and mind!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Destination Agra

Blast from past!

This was the first time i was traveling with an all girls group in North India. I was a little apprehensive as i had heard a lot of stories. We managed to hire a cab known to the owner of the service apartment we stayed in. Luckily he turned out to be a good one and the bit of tension i had as i was responsible for  2 of my colleagues/friends became a little easier. Though i have a traveled extensively in India and other countries, I feel India is not the safest place for women travelers except maybe some parts of South India


We had set upon a journey to Agra. The first place you hit before entering the city is Akbar's tomb at Sikander. Nothing surprising here except the herds of black bucks, egrets and langurs lounging around its grounds. This made the place feel more lively than it was.



We checked in to  Hotel Ganga Ratan. I know not the most appealing names but this was recommended and we had no time to research before we set out on this trip. Its a no frills place , good to crash and head out for sightseeing.

Our first stopover was the Agra fort. It had all the inklings of a typical Mughal fort with its red sand stone, marble inlays, combination of hindu and persian architecture. It had its Jahangiri Mahal , Anguri Bhag, Khas Mahal , sheesh mahal, diwan -i- am, Diwan-i- khas and many more all of which should not be missed.


How can one visit Agra and not see the Taj. I have been to Taj twice before. I could recall it well. Hence it was a no  surprise for me. I agree it is one nice monument but i feel there are better ones in other parts of India.







The road trip to Agra was one of the most vibrant trips i had made with its mustard fields and most colorful dressed women and even more colorful means of transport on the road. Of course how can one forget the road side Dhabas- the best palak paneer and naan of my life!! A great trip!!

Location: Agra, Uttar Pardesh
Date of travel: November 2009

Tip: Always take a guide at heritage locations but insist you will not be rushed through the tour unless of course you have a guide book.
Must do:Sikander fort (Akbar's tomb), Agra Fort and Taj Mahal
First:Be a part of all female travel group in North India outside the tier cities.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Destination New Delhi

Blast from past!

I made umpteen number of trips to New Delhi on work in the year 2009 and 2010.But I got only one chance to get away and do some traveling and sightseeing. I have been to Delhi many a times before. This would be a pit stop for my family when we traveled around North India. But i was revisiting this part after 13-14 years. I had very little recollection of this place except what i had seen in my collection of old photographs.


As this was supposed to be an official trip, we stayed at a service apartment in Gurgaon. We did the typical tourist rounds to India gate, Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Connaught place, Lotus temple, Akshardham and of course to Qutb Minar.



Qutb Minar complex was a love at first sight for me. It has one of best maintained grounds and they have audio guides! Audio guide in India!! I was totally impressed. I will let the photographs do the rest of talking.




Words cannot describe Akshardham and unfortunately cameras are not allowed. I would recommend the place be experienced without any inhibition and  the evening be swayed away by the musical fountains against the backdrop of hymns and chants. Unforgettable!
One good place to hang out is Delhi haat. It is a craft and food  bazaar from different states of India. A shopping haven!!

I enjoyed Delhi! Did'nt expect to do that but it did leave me with some wonderful memories.

Location: New Delhi
Date of travel: November 2009

Tip: Try the street food of Delhi
Must do: Qutb Minar and Akshardham
First: Order one dish from each state and have a gastronomical experience!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Destination Goa

Blast from past!

After a 4 month sabbatical, the traveler in me is on the prowl again. I recently found the missing pictures of a holiday taken in 2009. Well, I had to put on my writing gloves after that.

I bet everyone has done that, been there! So instead of the obvious, let me write about the offbeat. Goa and offbeat? Yes , there is more to Goa than the beaches!


A long holiday and an itinerary in hand, i narrowed upon the first of the two places we crashed in on our holiday. A self confessed LP fan, i choose a century old heritage hotel " The Panjim Inn" in Goa's Latin quarter for the first 2 days of our holiday. The Panjim Inn has a colonial old world charm with its antique furniture, art and the building itself. I totally recommend it, if you like offbeat!






























 We started our holiday with a walk through Fountainhas.With its calorful old villas, some crumbling buildings, quaint little shops, it was a sight to our sour eyes and drive to tired heart.With that we set off to our next stopover.
Along the entire course of goan rivers like Mandovi, Zuari, Cumbarjua canal,there exists an intricate network of creeks and backwaters. Well, mangroves and birdwatching go together like dosa and chutney. Even though it was off season we took a 1.5 hours canoe ride and spotted egrets, sand pipers and many more at Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary!



After a quick tour of all the other popular tourist spots which i had already seen as  a kid, we decided to head out to Chandor. DO you ask why Chandor? What's in Chandor? Well Chandor and its colonial mansions  gives you a peek at the opulent lifestyle of Goan landowners during their height of fortunes in the Portuguese era. Braganza house and Fernandes house took us back in time with its Italian marble floors, Belgian glass chandeliers, carved rosewood furniture, chinese porcelain. Braganza house had a ballroom and a chapel. Can you believe it!  So romantic with its love seat and chandeliers. Did i mention the ballroom.I felt as if i was a character out of a Georgette Heyer novel. Unfortunately photography is not allowed. But the long ride to Chandor was totally worth it!!

After doing the sightseeing leg of our holiday, we landed at Sinquerim for our " don't getoffurass" leg of our holiday. We were treating ourselves luxuriously to do nothing at Taj village. We were upgraded to a sea facing villa with Hrithik and Ash as our neighbors. Now the reason for the upgrade is a long story , not worth writing about but name dropping! totally worth it!


Though the beach along the resort has eroded and the grounded tanker close to shore spoils the view, I loved the stay here. I would love to come back to the resort whenever possible. As it was monsoon season and there was no water sports, guess what we did for two whole days. Well we did not get off our ass!

Location: Panjim and Sinquerim, Goa
Date of travel: September 2009

Tip: Do the offbeat!
Must do:Buy the tax free booze. For the non alcoholics...well...Tough luck..Your loss!
First: Visit an heritage ballroom and imagine yourself as a victorian character.

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