Vipassana – What? Why? How?

“You must experience the truth yourself. Only then it becomes a truth for you. Otherwise it is only someone else’s truth” 

 – Acharya S. N. Goenka

When the word Vipassana is uttered, lots of descriptions and myths come to surface due to ignorance. Some are like ‘Isn’t that something by which you can be a Buddhist?’ or ‘That breathing-concentration-exercise, ya I do it everyday along with Yoga’ or ‘you want to become a monk/nun by practicing Vipassana?’ , and the list goes on.

Well, just to remove this dust from the facts – Vipassana is an ancient technique founded in India around more than 2500 years ago by Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha (the enlightened one). Here I would like to explain in very simple words and try to keep it as brief as possible, since this is a vast topic and one can write a lot about it!

What?

Vipassana is the technique by which one concentrates on the mind and body and the sensations that arise and pass away. It is the way to see things as it is – as Nature has provided. Dhamma or the Universal Law of Nature lets us see and feel things as it is. It is important to realize that nothing is permanent. Everything has to pass – the good and the bad too.

Human beings are the most rational and intelligent beings on the Earth. However, people most of the time remain tensed, stressed, unhappy, worried, depressed, etc. Somewhere or the other they look for happiness and contentment outside. But just hold on here! Are you really looking for the most important feelings outside your mind and body? Think again.

Whatever we feel inside – stressed, agitated, excited, satisfied and all other feelings that we feel inside our mind and body are same that we experience and see outside too. This is purely science which explains that when we are happy and content, the sensations in our body changes and so the breath. The sensations are pleasant at this time while the breath is subtle and relaxed.

On the other hand, when we are angry, stressed and depressed, the sensations are totally different and so is the breath. It becomes faster and restless. This makes us react differently making things worse most of the time. What is inside us, the same we see outside too.

Also, have you ever noticed that instead of you controlling the mind, the mind controls you? Try the simple experiment – focus and concentrate on your breath (the natural free flow of your own breath as it is), without thinking anything else. How long could you concentrate? 2 seconds, 5 seconds or 10 seconds? Your mind stays with you on the breath for hardly few seconds and then it wanders off to its own free will here and there. Your own mind doesn’t listen to you! You become agitated and impatient on this behavior of your restless mind. But calm down and relax! Everything has a solution, a practical proven solution. Vipassana it is.

“Meditation brings wisdom, lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads your forward and what hold you back and choose the path that leads to wisdom”

– Buddha

Why?

From the time of his enlightenment, Siddhartha Gautama – Buddha wandered from place to place, year after year overflowing with love and compassion, he taught Dhamma to the people in the villages and most of Northern India. The theme in all his addresses was the same – sila (morality), samadhi (control over one’s own mind) and panna (wisdom, insight, purification of the mind by wisdom). He taught a practical technique to help mankind to come out of all suffering and misery and lead a life of peace and happiness.

For all different kinds of feelings that we feel within us especially the negative ones like depression, anger, agitation etc, we find a quick fix to these in the outside world. Example, when we are stressed, we try different stress busters – eat the food that we love, music, dance, reading books, going for a long walk, talking to the loved ones,etc. Yes! it works. But these solutions are just on the surface and help deal with the situation momentarily. But what happens when the same thing happens over and over again?

What if we get a deeper solution to our negative feelings and thoughts? What if we could control our own mind and thoughts for our betterment everyday? Sounds great isn’t it?

It’s very much possible through this practical technique which has been tried and tested by millions of people over thousands of years! It is not a quick fix but a deeper cleanse.

Vipassana is not merely a concentration technique. It is “observation of truth within from moment to moment. You develop your faculty of awareness, your mindfulness. Things keep changing, but you remain aware – this is Vipassana. But if you concentrate only on one object, which may be an imaginary object, then nothing will change. When you are with this imagination, and your mind remains concentrated on it, you are not observing the truth. When you are observing the truth, it is bound to change. It keeps constantly changing, and yet you are aware of it. This is Vipassana.” – as described by Acharya S. N. Goenka. To know more details about this angel who brought back this technique to us in its purest and original form read here.

How?

To achieve something great and deep in life, one has to abide by some rules. In this case they are discipline, being true to yourself and learn the exact technique as it is as taught by the Vipassana Master himself without customizing it a bit for our ease and comfort.

To learn this technique in its truest form, there are Vipassana centres all over the world by Acharya S. N. Goenka. The first learning is necessary to be learned in the centre because of few reasons – let’s take an example. When we need any surgery, we go to hospital, for learning any new course we go to schools and colleges of that particular subject or interest. Similarly for learning Vipassana, we need to learn from the place where the environment is only for Vipassana and nothing else.

To train and tame our mind, we have to concentrate on something. Buddha chose it to be the ‘breath‘ after trying out different things. We can concentrate on any other object like candle flame or chanting in our minds – but in this case the object is outside and mind would concentrate on that ‘something’ else. But ‘breath’ is the only thing that stays with us from our birth till we die. ‘Breath’ is the only thing that’s present with us in the ‘present’ time without any external factors.

Hence, focusing on breath, the natural breath (as it is) as it is coming in and going out, without regulating it a bit is the first step. Simply observe the breath. Every breath that comes in and goes out is never repeated. Every breath is a new one. This observation points to the very important reality of ‘arising and passing’. Nothing is permanent.

Once the focus is stable and our mind is not wandering here and there, we start observing the sensations in our entire body, from head to toe on the surface level. We feel and observe every kind of sensations that arise and pass away – heat, cold, itchy, gross, subtle, pain, pleasant and tons of other sensations that are continuously happening in our body at any given point of time anywhere. Slowly once we feel this, we go a little deeper and feel and observe the sensations inside our body and not merely on the surface level.

Once you understand and grab the technique you realize how impermanent our sensations are. And how directly these are related to our feelings in the real world. This shows and explains us the nature of ‘craving’ and ‘aversion’. How craving for any pleasant sensation leads to clinging to it. Similarly, how we dislike any unpleasant sensation and avoid getting through it. It gets clear how this actually helps in real life to deal with everything happening with us and within us all the time. Once you start practicing Vipassana, every outlook in the real life changes to a positive one and you start feeling the positive change inside you miraculously!

As mentioned in the beginning, the truth is true when you experience it yourself. Only theory will never help in learning Vipassana or any technique for that matter. Only through disciplined practice one can come out of all miseries and sufferings in life which are buried deep inside us without our knowledge.

How I began learning about this technique and the detailed explanation to its basic 10-day course of Vipassana (Igatpuri, India) is penned down here.

 

 

 

A broken Idli

You must be wondering what I am talking about. This is not just a regular post but something I thought I should share. The other day while I was travelling, I decided to eat something before boarding the flight. Went to the South Indian food corner and ordered a plate of idli. The gentleman who was in the queue before me ordered the same. After receiving the token we both went to the section of self service to take our individual plate of idlis.

In a minute suddenly heard a shout from the gentleman. “How dare you give me this broken idli? You don’t have any decency? Is this the way you serve here?” The rudeness and the hate in his voice was so distinct that the poor fellow serving the idlis went blank for a few seconds.

At that time, I offered to take the served plate (with a single broken idli as it was perfectly fresh and so soft) and he got a new serving.

A thank you with a smile – a simple gesture needed to bring a smile on someone’s face.

After that I started wondering was it really necessary for that gentleman to react like that to that minor incident. Practically, the idli was so soft that a corner (not even in half) of it broke while picking up with the tongs.

At any sudden situation do you ‘react‘ or ‘respond‘? If the situation doesn’t prick your so called satisfaction buds, is it justified always to react and make it worse?

Not at all! The only outcome is you end up losing your peace of mind and that of others’ too. Most situations in life need a response from us, not ‘reaction‘.

Let us see what exactly the difference is –

We react to something on the heat of the moment, mostly reflex action which in most cases end up making things worse. Whereas when we respond, we do so to the living being after analyzing about the situation for a moment. It helps to analyze and rethink on what could be said or done. This not only helps in rationalizing the situation but also not hurt someone else or even oneself.

In our surroundings in every day life, we just need observe ourselves how many times we react and how many we respond to a particular situation. This small step is a big first step towards becoming a better person each day and everyday!

Happy Life 🙂

 

Pros and Cons of Solo traveling

It has been quite sometime now people have come to know the term ‘solo travel’, thanks to the internet. But just like everything under the Sun has its pros and cons, so does solo traveling. Before you head out, be familiar with the pros and cons of solo traveling.

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Let’s see the cons first –

  1. Can be lonely – Solo traveling can be lonely sometimes. Especially when we would like to share any special moment with someone. Also for clicking photos selfie sticks are a savior in today’s time but still there are situations where we need to ask some stranger to take photos of us against the backdrop of the object or location
  2. Can be less safe – At some places and situations, solo traveling can be less safe, be it for a man or woman. So always be careful for own safety
  3. Can be expensive – Since we are all on our own, the expenses can get expensive sometimes, especially when not planned out well in advance

Coming to the Pros –

  1. Freedom – From A to Z typically, we plan everything for the trip, even if not the complete plan but at least the tickets, accommodation, place to visit, etc. This gives the freedom to chalk things out in our own sweet and comfortable way
  2. Self confidence – This point requires a five-star! Solo traveling not only develops and boosts our self confidence but also makes us a person with a to-do attitude in life
  3. Acceptance – We learn to accept other people and culture much easily into our lives and hence blending into the diversity
  4. New friends – Surely we make some wonderful friends, sometimes for lifetime!
  5. Broader perspective – We become (more)open minded and see things in a broader perspective with a positive attitude towards life
  6. ‘Me’ time – To get away from the daily routine, chaos or responsibility, we find ourselves some ‘own’ time just for our self, which is extremely essential for our mental and emotional being
  7. Problem solving – There are situations that we need to face and fix the problem all alone. This teaches to handle problems in our own way and how effectively we can do it

Even though there are some cons to it, yet solo traveling unleashes a whole new range of experience and exploration. All the benefits, advantages or the pros (as mentioned here) of this kind of adventure is something to be enjoyed and cherished. Personally I would suggest at least once everyone should travel and experience some destination solo in life. It is worth it! Happy traveling 🙂

P.S. – If you have traveled solo and found some real benefits/experiences other than those mentioned here, please feel free to share in the comment section. Would love to hear them!

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Weekend trip – Alwar and Bhangarh – Listed as most haunted place in India

When we search in Google for the most haunted places in India, Bhangarh in Rajasthan tops the list. It’s been a place I badly wanted to go for a long long time! So then I finally made it. Tickets from Mumbai to Jaipur to and fro for a weekend. Started off in the evening, reached during the noon the next day. Stay was at Moustache Hostel. Whenever I go to Jaipur, prefer staying here, the ambiance is really nice!

Trip duration – 2.5 days

Trip cost – INR 2500

Day 1 (Evening):

On first day after reaching there, only the half day was left so went to Bawri, Jaipur. Had the traditional local dal bati churma for lunch near the Ganesh Chowk. Rented a bike for Rs. 600 a day and headed for Bawri. The deep well was used as a water reservoir that helped during the non-rainy season. This concept of traditional well was quite common in every parts of ancient India. You can see bawri at many other places of Rajasthan too.

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Dal bati churma in lunch @ Ganesh Chowk

 

Day 2 :

Bhangarh is approx 2 hours from Jaipur by road. But if Bhangarh can be explored then why not Alwar? So headed for Alwar first, approx 3 hours from Jaipur. Jaipur-Alwar-Bhangarh-Jaipur. The roads are superb.

Map

Alwar Fort :

A place whose history dates back to 1000 CE. It was a part of Matsya Kingdom as per history. It has evolved under various Rajput rulers since then. Alwar has several forts, lakes which attracts tourists. So also the Bhangarh Fort and the Sariska Tiger Reserve. The scenic beauty, the calmness of the pathway to the Alwar Fort is a beauty. Karni Mata Temple can be visited on the way.

There were hardly any tourists except 5 or 6 and the Security Guards. The Bala Quila or Alwar Fort is not completely accessible as it is restricted by Military. What I loved about the Fort is the originality with its original charm and the absolute silence. Only the chirping of the birds and the swaying of the leaves in the breeze could be heard. The view of Alwar is seen for the viewpoint of the Fort – it’s absolutely mesmerizing!

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A view of Alwar Fort from the viewpoint

There’s direct way to Bhangarh from Alwar via the Sariska National Park. That road is not so smooth hence you might want to start a bit early.

Bhangarh Fort :

It felt fantastic to step on this place which has been rumored as haunted across the globe. To me, it felt simply beautiful! Just when you enter the gate, there’s Lord Hanuman temple (to shoo away the ghosts may be 😛 ). Walk straight through the ruins, it will lead to the garden and the Fort. You can listen to the local guides especially kids explaining about the history of the place and the haunted activities take place every night which is quite interesting and entertaining too.

Reach the Fort and climb to the top most part through the broken stairs. On the right side there are valleys and greenery where numerous peacocks and peahens could be seen enjoying their time and relaxing. Some dancing with their gorgeous and most vibrant feathers open and enjoy the breeze in the setting sun. That’s a beauty to the eyes!

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The ruins of the Bhangarh Fort

On the left side there’s a hill having a temple at the peak of it (photo above).

Something was really irritating – the unnecessary hooting and shouting of the so-called-tourists which disturbed the natural silence over there.

Colorful treats (photos below of our National Bird) amidst the cool breeze and the ruins of the historical Fort.

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The sun goes down and people start to leave from the Bhangarh fort. Some say when you enter the Fort and its areas, you get a different negative feeling. But to me, it was one of the most calm and serene place to have visited. In other words, beautiful!

On the way near Bhangarh, these 2-horned deers were spotted on the road.

Next day breakfast at the Curious Life Coffee Roasters was not just yummy but a huge spread of healthy foods 🙂 You must try the coffee here.

Finally, time to return. But to me Bhangarh offered some beautiful scenic beauties and a soothing ambiance although the history has something else to say! Do visit this place and check yourself. Happy traveling 🙂

Weekend trip – Alwar and Bhangarh – Listed as most haunted place in India

When we search in Google for the most haunted places in India, Bhangarh in Rajasthan tops the list. It’s been a place I badly wanted to go for a long long time! So then I finally made it. Tickets from Mumbai to Jaipur to and fro for a weekend. Started off in the evening, reached during the noon the next day. Stay was at Moustache Hostel. Whenever I go to Jaipur, prefer staying here, the ambiance is really nice!

Trip duration – 2.5 days

Trip cost – INR 2500

Day 1 (Evening):

On first day after reaching there, only the half day was left so went to Bawri, Jaipur. Had the traditional local dal bati churma for lunch near the Ganesh Chowk. Rented a bike for Rs. 600 a day and headed for Bawri. The deep well was used as a water reservoir that helped during the non-rainy season. This concept of traditional well was quite common in every parts of ancient India. You can see bawri at many other places of Rajasthan too.

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Dal bati churma in lunch @ Ganesh Chowk

Day 2 :

Bhangarh is approx 2 hours from Jaipur by road. But if Bhangarh can be explored then why not Alwar? So headed for Alwar first, approx 3 hours from Jaipur. Jaipur-Alwar-Bhangarh-Jaipur. The roads are superb.

Map

Alwar Fort :

A place whose history dates back to 1000 CE. It was a part of Matsya Kingdom as per history. It has evolved under various Rajput rulers since then. Alwar has several forts, lakes which attracts tourists. So also the Bhangarh Fort and the Sariska Tiger Reserve. The scenic beauty, the calmness of the pathway to the Alwar Fort is a beauty. Karni Mata Temple can be visited on the way.

 

There were hardly any tourists except 5 or 6 and the Security Guards. The Bala Quila or Alwar Fort is not completely accessible as it is restricted by Military. What I loved about the Fort is the originality with its original charm and the absolute silence. Only the chirping of the birds and the swaying of the leaves in the breeze could be heard. The view of Alwar is seen for the viewpoint of the Fort – it’s absolutely mesmerizing!

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A view of Alwar Fort from the viewpoint

 

There’s direct way to Bhangarh from Alwar via the Sariska National Park. That road is not so smooth hence you might want to start a bit early.

Bhangarh Fort :

It felt fantastic to step on this place which has been rumored as haunted across the globe. To me, it felt simply beautiful! Just when you enter the gate, there’s Lord Hanuman temple (to shoo away the ghosts may be 😛 ). Walk straight through the ruins, it will lead to the garden and the Fort. You can listen to the local guides especially kids explaining about the history of the place and the haunted activities take place every night which is quite interesting and entertaining too.

 

 

 

Reach the Fort and climb to the top most part through the broken stairs. On the right side there are valleys and greenery where numerous peacocks and peahens could be seen enjoying their time and relaxing. Some dancing with their gorgeous and most vibrant feathers open and enjoy the breeze in the setting sun. That’s a beauty to the eyes!

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The ruins of the Bhangarh Fort

 

On the left side there’s a hill having a temple at the peak of it (photo above).

Something was really irritating – the unnecessary hooting and shouting of the so-called-tourists which disturbed the natural silence over there.

Colorful treats (photos below of our National Bird) amidst the cool breeze and the ruins of the historical Fort.

DSCN5723

 

 

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The sun goes down and people start to leave from the Bhangarh fort. Some say when you enter the Fort and its areas, you get a different negative feeling. But to me, it was one of the most calm and serene place to have visited. In other words, beautiful!

 

On the way near Bhangarh, these 2-horned deers were spotted on the road.

 

Next day breakfast at the Curious Life Coffee Roasters was not just yummy but a huge spread of healthy foods 🙂 You must try the coffee here.

Finally, time to return. But to me Bhangarh offered some beautiful scenic beauties and a soothing ambiance although the history has something else to say! Do visit this place and check yourself. Happy traveling 🙂

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 🙂