Things to do in Penang(Malaysia) in a Day! #SoloTraveling

Welcome again travelers! Penang – in a day sounds really confusing right? So let me tell you this story is going to be about the places, foods and the people of Penang that I have experienced in a day’s time! I will provide as much information as possible and it is going to be a bit lengthy, so keep reading and enjoying the images too.

  • Mumbai to Penang round trip offers you will get on MakeMyTrip, Yatra, EaseMyTrip. Round trip costs around 20k approx (provided you book it advance).
  • Accommodation are available at budget friendly rates in Booking.com , Hostel World and others too.
  • For visa you need to apply beforehand.
  • Checkout the conversion rates too and preferably better to take some converted cash from here itself than Airport, since the conversion rates are a bit higher there at the Airports.

Overview :

George Town, Capital city of Penang has many interesting places and some amazing foods for the taste buds. Some of the best places – St. George Church, Goddess of Mercy Temple (Chinese style ancient temple), Penang State Museum and Art, Kek Lok Si (19th century Buddhist Temple), Little India, the creative and colorful Art works at almost all streets, Queen Street, Cheong Fatt Tze (The Blue Mansion) and many  more.

What to do in a single day :

Well, you cannot cover all the places and see everything in a day’s time. So these are some points of interest which are worth visiting and exploring.

Morning – Go to Penang Hill, the highest point of Penang with an exquisite flora and fauna and breathtaking view from the top. You can take the train which takes around 15 mins to reach the top or can hike – although train is the fastest and comfortable route. You can spend few hours or whole day depending on your likeness.

Day/Evening – Tour around the town by walking. You definitely need to visit the streets of Chinese Temples, Little India and Kalitan Mosque, all one after the other. The amazing street arts are so creative that every art form portrays a message. See few of the Art forms below.

These are just few of the Street Art works (below) you would come across at all the streets and corners.

These are so vibrant and creative with a strong and beautiful message in every Art form.

Go to the Blue Mansion – It is a Government gazetted heritage building. It is now a Chinese boutique hotel. This was made at the end of 19th century and has 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 vernacular timber louvre windows. This is a must visit which portrays the Chinese architecture and Feng Shui in every corner of the mansion.

Food : This is my favorite section. Definitely try out the local foods there, especially if you are non-veg and sea food lover. Veg options are also quite good.

This is the place where you can get fresh sea foods.

There are lots of things to do and see at Penang. But if you have a single day out there, you can definitely go for these above things. The food, culture and the people will leave you wanting to come back again.

Happy traveling 🙂

Andamans – the coral treasures of India – Part 3 – #Havelock Island #TravelIndia

The final section of this single trip to Andamans – Havelock Island. The stay was at El Dorado. The cruising from one island to the other was done by Makruzz cruise liner. Neat and clean, well seating with snacks options, entertainment(TV) and exceptionally punctual – all the short cruise journeys were really smooth.

In Havelock we stayed for 2 days. The resort El Dorado was really big, again with a private beach. There are numerous cottages of various types – deluxe, standard, etc. Breakfast was complimentary. The food as usual was delicious!

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El Dorado cottages

Day 3

There’s an Elephanta Beach where you are taken in speed boats for Snorkeling activity. The scenic beauty, the soothing greenery all around and the deep blue water were like some kind of charm working on us. There were few in-between islands while going towards Elephanta Beach which were not allowed to be visited by tourists to protect the flora and fauna and biodiversity. That sounded nice and gave a hope that the Government there was trying to protect the natural aura of that place by any means.

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Elephanta Beach

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Snorkeling was amazing! You can either take the mask and go snorkeling yourself or if you are the first-timer, there would be an instructor to guide you. The corals and fishes were so near the surface that by just entering few meters into the water, you will get a clear glimpse of those aquatic wonders! It was fun, relaxing and blissful!

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After that I went for a short swim for sometime since the water was so clear and alluring. The Elephanta beach closes down by 3 pm and everyone near to clear that spot all together.

The lunch at B3, located at the ferry point of Havelock for the Elephanta Beach, was delicious and yummy!

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Fish curry prepared in authentic local style with plain rice

At night went to Full Moon Cafe’, at a walkable distance from El Dorado. Mostly frequented by travelers and Foriegn tourists, this place offers some of the amazing sea foods. There’s also a small section of mini library from where you can take books and read and also contribute from your own collection.

Day 4

Next was the Radhanagar beach. This is an official beach for swimming and having fun in the water. There are Life Guards around and small utilities have been created for public convenience.

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Radhanagar Beach

But what struck me at Radhanagar was – a small tiny path which led to the woods. The tall straight numerous trees, green grass, no specific road in that, melody of only the bird chirps and the waves breaking on the shores. We went inside and kept walking. There was no human sight but only peace! It was so beautiful and relaxing to just sit there in the woods without uttering a single word and just absorbing the calmness. A dense sort-of-forest area just few feet away from the deep Ocean was totally amazing. Although ‘amazing’ is just a tiny word to describe the experience. Didn’t want to leave that moment and come back.

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The tiny path leading to the woods at Radhanagar
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The palm like a human hand – Nature’s twist in the tree!

Havelock was mostly relaxing. Infact this whole trip was sort of relaxing and little bit of adventure unlike my other trips. Apart from taking any tour package, one can easily explore Andamans at his or her own pace. Rent option for 2 wheelers are also available. There are lots more to see and explore on one’s own way. There are certain trek routes which one can explore and enjoy.

From Havelock we headed to Port Blair the next day from where our flight was scheduled. Andamans – an experience, a memory and most importantly the Nature’s wonder treat for the soul! A must to have in your travel list. Happy traveling 🙂

 

 

 

Andamans – the coral treasures of India – Part 2 – #Neil Island #TravelIndia

As mentioned in my previous journey experience, we spent the first day at Port Blair exploring Corbyn’s Cove Beach and Cellular Jail. Next day we went to Neil Island.

In one line – this is the abode for Nature Lovers. Eccentric beauty, calmness, marine eco system are a treat to the eyes and soul. Although couldn’t capture all these in the camera but managed to frame some of it (photos below). The experience Neil will provide is soothing at the same time adventurous!

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Reached Neil in the morning and the stay was at Pearl Park Beach Resort. It’s an excellent resort with individual cottage style rooms with a private beach!

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Beach at the Resort during Low Tide

Day 2 :

Scuba Diving! Yes! Got to know that it starts from 7 am to 12 pm. So we booked the slot and went for it. Although I wanted to go for the training and try it out alone, but that involves spending atleast 7 days there and then go alone for the dive.

They took us in a boat to quite a bit interior where the water was 11 meters deep. Individual instructors were there for assistance. The experience under water is something which I cannot describe in words. But just like it’s said in the film ZNMD, it’s like a meditation – it truly is. Sheer bliss! The most quietest and beautiful place on Earth. Colorful fishes and corals of different shape and sizes gives us the feeling of a new unknown world.

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By the time we returned from the sea, we were extremely hungry. Had these amazing local cuisines – Crab curry, fish curry with regular rice and vegetables. Needless to say the foods at all places in Andamans is yumm!

Later that day headed for Laxmanpur-II bridge which is popularly known as the Natural Bridge or Howrah Bridge. This is the place where a nature lover can spend the entire day! The entire area is having small and big water ponds – rather ecosystems and the marine life is simply amazing! And at every place there are different types of corals, fishes, start-fishes, sea-cucumbers, frogs, original raw shells, and the most colorful crabs I have ever seen anywhere!

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Natural Bridge or Howrah Bridge @ Neil Island

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When these Velvet Corals are touched, it closes down
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Raw shells under water
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Raw colorful shell at Neil
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Startfish!
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‘You wanna mess with me?’ – Colorful giant crab!

Most tour operators don’t take the people to Neil and instead takes them to other places. Personally along with other places, would suggest to spend atleast a day at Neil Island.

It’s beautiful and mesmerizing!

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Another Moon shot with my Nikon 🙂

Next coming up is Havelock Island. Stay tuned 🙂

Andamans-the coral treasures of India – Part 1 #PortBlair #TravelIndia

The name itself gives an image of clear blue sky, deep blue water, coral reefs, lush greenery. Yes! it is all these and much more beyond these! When speaking about Andamans, it cannot be covered in one article, hence this is the 1st part – Port Blair. Next would be Neil Island and Havelock in the consecutive articles.

Mumbai to Andamans is quite a task to be planned for, especially if you alone are planning for others for the entire trip. The direct and cheapest flights are available from Kolkata and Chennai. Since this was not a backpacking trip for me this time, opted for a good package option. Did a lot of RnD with MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Thomas Cook, etc. but it was crossing the budget more than expected.

Then I came across another website of ExperienceAndamans. It was a new option for me and was hearing the name for first time. Was a bit skeptical but all vanished away once we experienced Andamans through their service. Since it was family trip and senior citizens were present, hence the cab and resorts were chosen really well by them.

We reached Port Blair airport in the morning and the accommodation was only 5 mins away – Sea Lounge. Very neat and clean with all amenities and great service. You can also get a beautiful view of the hills and Ocean from the balcony.

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The seating area at Sea Lounge

Day 1

Went to the Corbyn’s Cove Beach at Port Blair. It’s an average but clean beach with casual eateries, souvenir shops, lounge chairs and palm trees. Jet skiing available there or simply you can spend a good time chilling out or walking on the beach.

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Corbyn’s Cove Beach

After that we headed for the Cellular Jail. Whoever knows the story of our Freedom Fighters for the struggle of India’s freedom, would be astounded once stepped inside. Do take a guide if you want to know in detail the relevance of all places there and the history.

 

A historical silent spectator of the tortures inflicted upon the Freedom Fighters of our country has been named ‘cellular’ jail due to the individual small cells for individual prisoners. The entrance block has housed all the old photographs of Freedom movement. The galleries bring back the struggles that these Leaders have gone through.

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Cellular Jail before the Light and Sound Show

The match-box sized cells with utmost provision of not letting in the Sun rays, long eerie corridors emanating the silence of the pain, hanging room witnessing the screams and sudden silence of the Fighters – would leave you with goosebumps.

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The Light and Sound show in the evening tells the story of Freedom movement beautifully and takes you back the memory lane.

 

 

 

 

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The hanging cell where 3 people together were hanged
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Ross Island, the British Headquarters pre-Independence – View from the terrace of the Cellular Jail
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Silent long corridors of the cells – the number of shadows=the number of cells

Getting to know and see for self the maddening and torturous history inflicted upon our Freedom Fighters would leave you shocked.

Apart from the beach and Cellular Jail covered in a day, another day is needed to see the ‘Jarwar’ village – the tribal village of Andamans. From Port Blair there is this option. But that needs a complete day since they take you at early morning in a bus and you could see them from the bus itself. Getting down or talking to the villagers is strictly not allowed.

We had only one day in Port Blair, hence could not go for that visit.

Next day we headed for Neil Island – Coming up in the next article. Stay tuned 🙂

7 ways how traveling can enlighten us in life #Travelwithlove

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” – Anonymous

Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions” – Peter Hoeg

Have you ever thought instead of human being if we would have been trees then how would life would have been? Strange and ‘fixed’ at one place! Isn’t it? Nature is the ultimate beauty, peace and gift that we all have received by default. But very few of us actually realize and respect that. To see all such beautiful places on Earth and get swayed in its ambiance one needs to travel. Yes! Travelling is the single most solution to many problems that goes in our head and in turn our life. Travelling can enlighten us in many ways.

Confidence: We travel with our family and friends and of course it’s extremely enjoyable and fun. But when we travel alone we travel for ourselves – for some alone time or to explore or to know oneself better or it could be a hobby. The reasons can be many but the kind of confidence we get is something that helps us to move ahead in life.

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Confidence – no matter what!

Acceptance: We come across different kinds of people while travelling who might not be same like us. We come across different situations which are not always smooth. Travelling enables us to accept life as it is and helps us reset all the things that we cannot change and teaches us to let go.

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Gratitude: In our busy schedules in life we hardly get time to thank the people whom we should, at least once. Travelling shows us the value of gratitude – to the people who help us when we are stuck in a problematic situation, to the Nature for providing us all possible resources to live a beautiful and healthy life.

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Thankful for everything we have

Humility: Humility comes with deep understanding and respect for each other. When we come across so many different kinds of people while travelling we see that everyone of us is same. There are many people out there who are willing to help us in times of need. The basic human nature is same.

Connection with Nature: Nothing cures and heals better than the touch of Mother Nature. We feel connected and in sync in the lap of nature.

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Nature – the biggest gift to us

Connection with one self: We are social animals. But sometimes we need time only with ourselves. The connection that we feel and enjoy with ourselves is something that everybody should have.

Living in the present: Travelling teaches us that ‘today’ is the day we have, past is gone, future has not yet come. Hence, the best we can do is today. Live in the present.

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Live in the present

Traveling shows us many important things in life. It makes us stronger, more open-minded, more accepting, more humble, more positive towards life, better outlook to deal with problems and of-course makes us happy from within. So travel, whenever you can, wherever you can. Happy traveling 🙂

Khajuraho, Orchha and Jhansi – The history of Bravery and Sensuality! #TravelIndia

Trip cost : INR 2500

Accomodation : Sharma Hotel, booking.com

It so happened that Khajuraho is not directly connected from Mumbai, either it should be gone via Satna in MP or via Jhansi in UP. Chose the latter one since wanted to cover all 3 places over the weekend.

Jhansi

Took the Lashkar Express to Jhansi, got down in the morning. Booked Sharma Hotel via booking.com – not so good, not so bad but pocket friendly. Got freshened up and headed towards the Jhansi Fort. It’s walk-able distance from the main town.

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Jhansi Fort
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The place where Rani Jhansi jumped on the horse back with her adopted son

The Fort is beautiful and it would give you a flashback of the history that we have read in our schools, but unforunately noticed that the Fort is not maintained well. In the interior there is nice little garden where you can sit for sometime but other than that, most parts of the Fort are neither maintained nor accessible.

Orchha

From there went to Orchha Palace. It is appriox 10 kms from Jhansi. You will get sharing autos from the Jhansi Bus Stop and reach Orchha within half an hour.

 

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Orchha Fort entrance

Once you get down, you would get the view of the beautiful Orchha Palace. Beautiful is just a very small word to describe it. See it for yourself in the photos below.

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History tells that it was found in 16th century A.D. on the banks of River Betwa by Rudra Pratap Singh, one of the Rajput rulers belonging to the Bundela dynasty. It’s actually 2 palaces side by side. Rudra Pratap Singh has built the Jahangir Mahal beside the Orchha Palace in the honour of King Jahangir to welcome the latter on his visit to Orchha.

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Paintings @ Orchha Palace

No doubt it’s beautifully and majestically crafted and completed.

There is nothing extraordinary to see in Jhansi except for the Fort. A single day is enough to cover both Jhansi Fort and Orchha Palace without hurry. Accomodation is not a problem at either Jhansi or Orchha and even Khajuraho. Lots of options available online as well as on spot bookings.

Khajuraho

Next day headed for Khajuraho. It takes almost 3.5 to 4 hours to reach Khajuraho from Jhansi. If you opt for bus – need to change at Chhatarpur. There are 2 wheeler and 4 wheeler rent options available too. We rented a 4 wheeler.

Note : If you happen to travel these 3 places and take cab, then book cab from Orchha instead of Jhansi for Khajuraho to avoid the extra tax for the inter-state fare.

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Breakfast on the way

Once you reach Khajuraho, you would see the enchanting sculptured temples spread over a vast area. Built during the rule of  Chandela dynasty, there were around 85 temples by the 12th century but now only around 25 are present. Apart from being UNESCO World Heritage Site, it depicts India’s architectural brilliance at its best. The emotions, expressions and intricate details are shown so beautifully that it leaves us wondering about the extraordinary ancient Indian Art.

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Khajuraho Temple
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The masterpieces at every corner of all Temples

These group of temples were dedicated to Hinduism and Jainism depicting acceptance and respect towards diverse religious beliefs in the region. One whole day needed to visit the temples and its surroundings at Khajuraho.

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10% of all the thousands of art works are erotic sculptures depicting the essence of human desire and love. Vast majority of of the art work depicts various aspects of everyday life like musicians playing music, farmers, women applying make up, etc..

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Below is the Chausath Yogini Temple which is in a rectangular shape.

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Chausath Yogini Temple

There are some good cafes outside the temple area. Foods served are really tasty. Lots of souvenir shops present too. The men will keep bugging you to have a look at their artifacts. Choose wisely!

 

By evening started from Khajuraho and reached Jhansi since had return train from there. Needless to say the Art works of ancient India and the architectural beauty in these historic destinations are worth preserving and praising. Happy travelling 🙂

The White Desert of India – Rann of Kutch! #TravelIndia

Come winter and the white salt desert visit is a must! The crystalline white infinite horizon shining under the sun is a view to behold with own eyes. A 2 day-trip started from Mumbai on Friday on the Kutch Express and reached Bhuj next day morning. Rented Cruiser from Wicked Ride . The service was pretty smooth and hassle free with no security deposit.

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Bullets @ Wicked Ride, Bhuj

 

The ride to Kutch is approx 2 hours one way from Bhuj. Near Kutch you need to make the entry pass from the Security Checkpost – it is mandatory. Carry your ID cards for the same.

There’s a Magnetic Field – ‘Kalo Dungar‘ or the Black Hills , where any vehicle will move forward without the key! Do check that place. It’s a little detour from the straight road to Kutch but worth a visit.

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@ Kalo Dungar

 

From there we went to the White Rann. Picturesque beauty – solid white everywhere and the setting sun. You need to see it to experience the flawlessness. Words cannot describe the serenity.

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Infinite White Desert

 

There are snacks stalls available just outside the entrance to the White Desert. Post sunset it becomes totally dark so take a torch or cell flash light with you.

There are tents for the Kutch festival near the White Desert – the ones where you can book and stay and enjoy the food, culture and the Rann festival. It is a bit costly though, hence we decided to stay at Bhuj since we had return train from there and another reason was the superb bike ride in the bone-chilling cold!

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Bonfire to beat the chilling cold
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Traditional dress materials @ Kutch Festival Exhibition

 

 

Accomodation – Stay at Bhuj was just okay and we preferred not to spend much since only wanted to keep the bags. You will get good options through booking.com , airbnb, etc.

Food – You will get traditional food at all places. Anando restaurant, near the lake is a famous one. Another small dhaba/hotel(forgot the name) just on the opposite road of Anando is equally good one. The foods are really good, try out the special mirch and lassi.

 

The sunset and the sunrise are equally mesmerizing at the Kutch.

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The Sunset at Rann of Kutch #nonedited

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunrise @ Rann of Kutch

Next we went to Prag Mahal – the one where the masterpiece ‘Lagaan’ was shot. Due to the earthquake in Bhuj, many things have been damaged but still they have managed to keep it as intact as possible.

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Prag Mahal @ Bhuj
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The Office Room of the British Officials in the film Lagaan damaged due to earthquake

In the evening since we had time, went to a park near the Lake within the town. It was serene, calm and lots of beautiful birds could be spot there.

A Moon shot is a must for me at any place I go, hence here it is…

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#nikonphotography #nonedited

No wonder kutch has its own story to tell. Especially a bike ride adds to the beauty. Give it a try and enjoy the beauty of this place. Happy travelling 🙂

 

The Blue City – Jodhpur in a day! #SoloTraveling #TravelIndia

After spending two and a half amazing fantastic days at Jaipur , it was time to head for Jodhpur – The Blue City. There again stayed at a dorm at Hostelavie . With a touch of Rajasthani decorations, its a fantastic place to stay.Very friendly staffs, great food, clean rooms and great view from the terrace.

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Rightly known as the ‘Blue City’

Mehrangarh Fort

Reached around morning and got freshened up. The best part is the location of this hostel. The Mehrangarh Fort is just behind this place at a walk-able distance.

Few things to remember :

  • The walk-able road from the Jodhpur Clocktower road is quite steep so prepare accordingly and go if you are planning to walk.
  • Carry a bottle of water, cap/hat as it can be quite hot except the winter months.

The entry charge is Rs. 150 to the Mehrangarh Fort. One of the biggest Forts in India. It’s majestic beauty and magnificence cannot be simply described in words. While entering there is a small canteen with simple snacks, juices and beverages available.

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Majestic Mehrangarh Fort

Performances by the locals, the hand made arts and crafts, music, everything is worth experiencing over here. The interiors and the exteriors as well have been maintained very well.

The galleries, the royal court, the antiques take you back in the history giving goosebumps.

Umaid Bhavan Palace

The Umaid Bhawan Palace is one of world’s largest private residences named after Maharaja Umaid Singh. It has 347 rooms. This museum cum a luxurious hotel is visible from the Mehrangarh Fort. The Royal Hotel section is managed by the Taj Hotels.

Reaching this place is very easy, you can either book Ola/Uber or hire a local cab and reach there within no time.

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Umaid Bhavan palace

Jaswant Thada

Next was the Jaswant Thada, a cenotaph built by Maharaja Sardar Singh. You can sit at the lawn over there and have a relaxing time.

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Jaswant Thada

From there went to the Birla Temple. It’s beautiful! Peaceful, clean and serene.

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Birla Temple

By the time it was evening and was feeling hungry. There’s a famous egg sandwich stall at the Jodhpur Market gate, which earned its place in the Lonely Planet, hence, it’s name is Lone Planet Sandwich Shop. Do try out the egg butter cheese sandwich. It’s delicious!

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Egg sandwich at Lonely Planet Sandwich Shop

From there wanted to go to a good cafe and so after searching and asking some people there, went to ‘Pizzeria’. Have some awesome pizzas and Quesadilla. The ambience was quite good to chill out.

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Pizza with Cold Coffee!
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Quesadilla!

After that it was evening time and I had to catch the train. It marked the end of this Jodhpur diary. However, the experience for me was quite interesting and would love to visit Rajasthan again whenever I get time.

Do visit places atleast once as solo traveler. It is really exciting, interesting and lots to learn for oneself for good. Happy traveling 🙂

 

Jaipur – Pink City – #SoloTraveling #TravelIndia

A long weekend….pleasant weather…..a previous cancelled trip of Rajasthan – all these came down to the booking of to and fro tickets to Rajasthan. Finally! I had 3 days so thought of covering 2 places. First Jaipur and then Jodhpur.

Total cost for Jaipur trip – Approx Rs.2500.

Started off on Thursday and reached Jaipur on Friday. Now, the stay options had to be given a good thought, since I did not want to stay in the same boring hotels or guest houses. So looked around for hostel options. Got few really good ones! As per the availability, booked a bed in bunk-bed dorm in Moustache Hostel located near to the Jaipur Railway Station at a proper location.

Reaching Jaipur

Since I went from Delhi, took the Delhi Porbander Express which reached around afternoon, perfect for me since the check in time to the Hostel was 2:00 PM. From Mumbai BCT Jaipur Superfast Express would be the good option.

First day, got down at the station, few rickshaw pullers and auto rickshaw came running to bid for the ride. Instead of taking those, came outside and took one auto rickshaw from the stand which was only Rs. 40 (I confirmed the rate from the Hostel guys itself over phone) 😛

Reached Moustache Hostel, the entrance and interior will give you a friendly feeling with lots of interactions and good vibes. Ofcourse it’s mostly for the backpackers but to my surprise there were families too! Good rooms, foods and the recreation room was the best thing – read books, play games or sit/sleep there for as long as you want.

Moving on to the next set of action – Got freshened up, and decided to look around the city on foot since it was already evening by then.

Day 1 – Albert Hall Museum and Ram Bagh Niwas

Started to walk towards Albert Hall Museum . On the way to the museum, there is the Ram Bagh Niwas – one of the oldest park in Rajasthan. It was simple, full of greenery and nothing extra unique over there. Then headed to the museum. It has housed different kinds of artifacts , instruments, historic articles and many more.

One very interesting fact is that there is a mummy kept at the basement of the museum. Do watch it!

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Squirrel having its own time @ Ram Bagh Niwas

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Albert Hall Museum

By the time I came out it was already dark and I was very hungry. Asked some people which is the best place to have the authentic Rajathani dal-baati churma, and I was suggested to try out the thali at Virasat.

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Rajasthani Dal Baati Churma

Just to give the idea about it, Virasat is a three storey building with each floor having its unique way of presentation – Rajasthani folk dance performance, traditional seating arrangement with costumes, giving you a Royal feel , general Ala Carte too. Although it’s a bit pricey but the food was amazing, no doubt.

Returned to the Hostel and spent time in the common room and terrace. There was BBQ that night for all on the terrace.

Day 2 – Nahargarh , Jaigarh and Amer Fort

Next day, hired a two-wheeler and started for all the major Forts in Jaipur. Yes! Like Goa and Hampi, two-wheeler renting option is available which is definitely a boon! The roads are really well maintained and the view while going uphill to Nahargarh Fort is breath taking. You can spot our National bird – Peacock roaming around on the roads and nearby bushes.

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Our National Bird – Peacock roaming in the bushes

The entry to Nahargarh Fort is Rs. 200.

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Interior of Nahargarh Fort

Then on the way back visit the Jaigarh Fort . This is an interesting one. The largest canon ‘on wheel’ is kept here. Also as per the guide story, the water reservoirs in this Fort was used not only to store the rain water but also to hide tons of gold acquired after winning a battle! Hence when the Britishers used to raid, they could see only water and return without the hint of gold underneath the level of water.

The entry to Jaigarh Fort is Rs. 50 only.

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Largest Canon on Wheel in the World at Jaigarh Fort

Next is Amer Fort . More famous due to the fact it was the home of Jodhaa Bai. Beautiful, magnificent are very small words to describe the beauty of this Fort.It has been maintained very well by the Govt. Interesting fact is that , Amber Fort and Jaigarh Fort are connected by a ‘tunnel’ . And yes! you can walk through the tunnel which is underground at the Amber Fort side and above the wall on the Jaigarh Fort end.

The entry to Amer Fort is Rs. 50 only.

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Amer Fort

I walked the entire length of the tunnel and back i.e. starting from Amber Fort and back to it, since I took my two wheeler and had to get back on it.

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Inside the Tunnel at Amer Fort

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The portion of the tunnel above the wall at Amer Fort

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Brilliant mirror work of Sheesh Mahal at Amer Fort

It was evening by the time got out of Amer Fort, so had food at one of the hotel there. The food was simple and cheap.

While returning saw the Jal Mahal, the Palace in the middle of the Lake.

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Jal Mahal at Jaipur

The day was amazing in the midst of the historic relics.

Day 3 – City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Jaipur Markets

Next day was the City tour.

Started off at the City Palace. Even today the Royal family stays there. Hence half portion is private while the remaining is open to the public. It’s clean and well maintained. The variety of arms display is great. There’s a museum and Rajasthani items exhibit where you can see and buy stuffs from amazing hand made paintings, traditional jewelleries, clothes and lots more.

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City Palace – Jaipur

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Guards at the City Palace posing for photo 🙂

Just infront of the City Palace is the famous Jantar Mantar – first in India. The one at Delhi is a smaller version of this. This is a great place for all especially for the kids. The perfect calibration hundreds of years ago, the calculations as per the astronomy, the zodiacs and the biggest physical Sun Dial in the world are human creations that will leave you simply amazed.

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Largest Sun Dial on Earth at Jantar Mantar

Next, headed for the Hawa Mahal – ‘Palace of breeze‘, famous for its architecture and the constant breeze that blow in the top floors of it. May be previously it was closed for public to get inside as per few locals over there, but now it’s open and you must pay a visit to this other gem of Rajasthan.

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Beautiful Hawa Mahal at Jaipur

Just opposite to the Hawa Mahal are two cafes. You can sit there for hours and enjoy the beauty of it over a sip of coffee or bite a sandwich. Below road is the continuous stretch of the market area. Lots and lots of traditional ‘Mojri’ , clothes, spices, foods are available here. So shop till you drop!

Spotted this Elephant walking down the market road from the Cafe opposite to Hawa Mahal.

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Mighty friend on the Planet!

This marked the end of the Jaipur trip. For Jodhpur check out the next article, since this has become quite long! Stay tuned and happy traveling… 🙂

Pawna Lake – Camping in the lap of Nature

It is always a necessity more than desire to take a break from the daily routine and spend some time in the lap of Nature, far away from all the chaos of City life. It so happened that I got to know about this place from a friend and immediately decided to land up in that valley surrounded by Western Ghats all around. We called up the person at the Pawna Camping Site for the booking approx 3 days before. The Lake is located beside the Lohagadh Fort and the Tikona Fort, surrounded by lush greenery and fresh air to breathe.

The journey from Mumbai to Lonavla was a real hectic and adventurous , although it should have not been the case only if we could have taken up a direct bus to Lonavla or cab to Pawna.

One friend was from Navi Mumbai, another one Mumbai and another from Thane. So we decided to meet at Panvel.

Note – If you are travelling by bus , then better to take Shivneri directly from Thane or Dadar. It will reach destination much faster compared to other buses.

Unfortunately we took a red-colour passenger bus from Panvel bus depot which reached Lonavla after 3 hours! (By that time we could have reached Pune. Phew! )

From Lonavala, the Pawna Lake is approx 12 kms. If you are taking your own vehicle you can directly take it near to the lake. However if you are travelling by public transport you either have to hire a rickshaw or a cab from Lonavla to Pawna Lake. The same rickshaw or cab will bring you back to Lonavla bus depot the next day morning. And yes, you have to mention that to the driver obviously 😛

The timing of the Campsite is from evening 4 pm to next day 10-11 am.

After reaching Lonavla around 3:30 PM, we hired a cab from there to Pawna Lake. It took Rs. 1000 for the to and fro journey. There is no as such specific road or markings to show the way to the Lake. We somehow managed to reach there after taking directions from quite a few locals. Finally got the view of the Lake. Reached and parked the cab the end point of land. There were 2 boats to take us to the camping site.

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A view of the Pawna Lake from the Road

The Camp site is an island located at the center of the lake surrounded by water all around. Only mode of transportation from there are the boats.

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The end of Land near the Lake
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The boats- only mode of transportation to the Camp Site

We stepped onto the boat and reached the Camp site.

I must mention here, the calmness, the serenity , the rhythmic sounds of the roar in the water and the beautiful bird chirps took away all the tiredness. It was so refreshing and so peaceful.

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The tents and Bonfire Set up

The tents and bonfire was already set up before our arrival.

We kept the bags and started to explore that place. It was greenery and water everywhere. There are Resorts on the other side of the land which was visible from the site. Another side the Tikona and Lohagarh Forts stood majestically.

It was simply beautiful!

Evening time – they serve the snacks which included unlimited tea and pakodas. After the sun down, it was time for bbq preparation. For veg there was paneer and all vegetables. For non-veg, it’s chicken bbq.

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Onion Pakodas – evening snack
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BBQ

If anyone wants anything extra to be prepared or arranged like cold drinks or extra snacks, those need to be informed prior, since the location itself makes it a bit difficult to arrange things on time.

There were quite a number of groups who brought music players and games. As the bonfire was lit up, bbq served and music reverberated in the starry night, all started dancing and singing to the beat.

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Bonfire!

The cool breeze, the beautiful night went on and slowly the music turned from beat to soothing and romantic songs. The Sky was completely covered with the starry blanket.

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The Moon with its Companion Star 🙂
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Another Moon Shot with my Camera like all other Places 🙂

Dinner was really delicious served by them and there was a variety of options.

Next morning it was beautiful all around. The general time to leave the camp site is 10:30 to 11:00 AM but since there were only 2 boats to ferry the people to the other side of the lake, it was around 12:00 PM for us to leave.

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Early in the morning with the Sun behind the Clouds
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The Return Journey!

Finally, the-one-night-camping at Pawna was over and enjoyed thoroughly by us. Would like to visit that place again sometime 🙂