Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Solo Travelling: A dream

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. Courtesy-Walden                                                                                       

 I have never been a solo traveller for a tourist destination except once when I visited Agra and Fatehpur Sikhri alone. But I would not call that journey a true solo journey because it was just a 1 day trip from Delhi and I was back by night and another and more valid reason is that I have visited that place before also. 

In Kolkata where I lived alone, I planned for Sunderban and Sikkim alone but wasn’t quite sure and the packages were out of the budget. None of that tour happened. I keep touring around Kolkata alone on all the weekends for 6 weeks. When I came back, I really felt that I have misses some very nice destinations. 

I convinced many times about the concept of solo travelling. From last few days as I have nothing to do, so  i am watching videos at you-tube made by the foreign tourists about backpacking in India, reading a lot of travelling blogs. Few days back, when we went to Ajanta and Ellora, i spotted many tourists carrying thick book about travelling in India. The book was titled as Lonely planet. I have read the blogs and articles at their site and find them quite interesting and descriptive and helpful too. I enquired on flipkart, book was about 1200 bucks despite the discount of more than 500. I will order it sometime later in life, now I am just a student. 

I believe travelling solo is really challenging and not that easy as it seems so. Budget will go up, you cannot roam around in night alone in new city, you have to care of all your luggage and you have to take a better hotel as compared to what you choose when you go with friends or with a group of bachelors. Not only this, you have to equipped yourself with complete information especially when you don’t have android mobile.

I have planned many times but was always taken aback. I am making a plan in a near future. Let see what happen this time.I am always impressed when i saw the people traveling alone. Indian, as far as my knowledge is concerned don't travel solo. But these days, trend is reversing.

There is no fun without challenge.

Motivation: Besides numerous reasons, my recent read Into the wild and Walden are biggest inspirations.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Trip to Vaishnodevi and Patnitop

Somebody has really rightly said, if there is heaven somewhere on earth, it is in Kashmir.Although i didn't went there but i can imagine about the beauty of the Kashmir being at the Patnitop.

3rd January
We went to Vaishnodevi trip and luckily, we completed the Darshan timely on 3rd January and had 2 full days at our disposal. We were expecting the snowfall at Vaishnodevi and Bhairov Baba but that didn’t happen. We made the program at this time of the year expecting snow inspite of huge resistance from the family. Generally, during the 1st week of January every year there is heavy snowfall and the roads get blocked or so. I thought that i can visit this place at this season only this time because presently i have a lot of free time and no pressure of job and all and still a bachelor. Later, i am sure there will always be issues to visit in January.

Me and my cousin in train

It was a big day. We reached Jammu at 5 in the morning. From there, we went to kathara and took the hotel for an hour and then start our journey of 14km. I was with a group of my cousin and they all were very fast, they all are from villages and practices Yoga and all regularly. I had face a lot of difficulties because of the same. I was like a bottleneck moving at the end of the trail. I was confused what made them so fast when we have a lot of time.
Near Sanchi chat 2km before vaishnodevi

At around 5, we reached at the top, had Darshan timely because the Darshan are halted from 6 to 9 every day due to Aarti, cleanliness and all. The weather was so chilled, temperature was about 1 degree Celsius. I didn't take a bath due to lack of time as well as cold weather. At 7, we left for Bhairav Baba. This time, me and my cousin hired a horse. we reached at the top by 7.30 at the top and had to wait till 8pm because the door of the temple usually get closed from 7 to 8.

Waiting at Bhairaov Baba
 From there, we left for the Ardhkumari cave. This was interesting part. I have never been there. At 10, we entered in the queue and at around 1 am , we passed from the cave. It was very narrow and many people were quiet nervous, some even get stuck but by god's grace, everybody get passed. We reached at the hotel at 5 in the morning.

4th Jan
We planned a trip to Patnitop for 1 day and thereafter Natha top. Although, i had visit that place around 7 years but still we decided to visit it again as there were lot of people in the group who were first timers. We had begun our journey at around 11 am. from katra in a Tempo traveller. We were on NH-44. It was the same highway that connect  Srinagar. We were very excited. There were lot of check posts and military trucks in the route and the view was just marvellous. Patnitop was 130 kms from Jammu and just 180 km before Srinagar. When we were about to reach Patnitop, we saw that all the roads and trees are covered with snow. 

At Patnitop

Somebody told that the snowfall took place just before half an hour and it was the first snowfall of the season.We considered ourselves very lucky. 

At Patnitop
We reached at patnitop at 3 pm and left it around 7 to reach the Jammu directly at 11.

5th Jan

We visit the local places of Jammu including the famous temple Raghunath which was attacked by terrorists few years back. There is not much to visit in Jammu. I was there 2, 3 times before. I was insisting to visit the Golden Temple at Amritsar but due to reservations from Jammu, the plan become quite complex and risky too.  So, we decided to spend a day in Jammu and caught a train back to Saharanpur at 6 in the evening.

You can read here about my Patnitop trip in detail. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Trip to Ajanta and Ellora caves

Less than 50 days are left to enjoy the college life and we all want to do the full justice with that. Bearing that in mind, we again finalized the plan for a 2 day trip to Igatpuri, Nashik and Ajanta and Ellora caves. The place is hard to decide. There were many options being discussed like Goa, Gokarna, Gir fores but due to one or the other reason, all got cancelled. Strangely, all the places starts with ‘G.’ We were 8 people and booked a cab previous day. 

11th Feb’2012

We have decided to leave at around 4.30 from the college in Powai. We were successful and reached Igatpuri at around 7. After having our breakfast, we went straight to Vipassana Meditation center. 
Vipassana Meditation center, Igatpuri

Sadly, it was closed that day and we were not allowed to enter beyond a certain point. After a brief session, we proceed to Nasik to visit one of the 12 Jyotirlinga of god Shiva. We were travelling on NH-3. Highways were superb and we travelled constantly at the speed of 90 because the tourist cabs are generally locked and you cannot increase the speed beyond 90.  

At 9, we reach the Trimbakeshwar.It is a very famous place and associated with the origin of the Godavari river. After that , we decided to visit Panchavati, which is considered to very sacred place in Hindu religion. It is described in the epic Ramayana where Lord Rama built his home along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman.
People taking bath In Godavari at Nashik

Nashik is a nice place and very muh similar to Haridwar in many respects. This picture made me think that it is very much like Haridwar. We have the river Ganga in Haridwar and Gangotri in Nashik. Both are religious cities with numerous temples and are also described in our epics.

At around 3, we left for the Aurangabad. It was 200 km. from there. We were almost exhausted when we reach Aurangabad and after booking a hotel, we had party. Aurangabad is famous for its non vegetarian food. We had the food at one of the Dhaba near bus stand and it was superb, cheap as well as satisfying.

 12th Feb’2012

We left early the next day for another Jyotilinga called Grishneshwar which is just at Ellora caves at around 8 in the morning. After visiting the temple, we had our breakfast. In the meantime, I purchased and read the Guide of Ajanta and Ellora caves. It is very important to read the guide as well as to have the guide if you really want to appreciate the caves and if you are very passionate then carry a small torch with you as well because inside caves, there are no lights. I saw many foreigners watching the painting and sculptures with their torch and we passed like we were roaming in the garden.  But believe me; if you read well about the place, only then you will be really able to appreciate it.
Ellora caves are on NH-211 which is very superb and full of scenic beauties along it. Old forts along the roadside, broken tombstones will surely make you think about our cultures, our Rajas and Maharajas. 

I have read a lot on the good travelling sites and blogs that it is almost impossible to cover Ajanta and Ellora in 1 day. But we have no other option. We have only one day. So, I would like to recommend one thing that if someone is running short of time, then there is no point in visiting all the caves in Ellora. Actually, there are many caves and only 2 are famous, 10 and 16. You will also get this information from the guide there. 

Ellora Guide and Map
Enterance of cave no. 12

Me at cave no. 10
From there we left at 11 am and reached Ajanta and 1 pm. Distance was around 110 km. and we covered it very fast despite small Tea-sutta-toilet breaks in between. 

At Ajanta, govt. is very anxious to preserve the caves. Vehicles were not allowed near the caves. One has to park his car before 4 km. and need to catch a bus that runs on CNG to reach the caves. This is all done in order to prevent the pollution near the area. Pollution generally fades the colour of the painting and in Ajanta, there were many colored paintings left. Also, paintings were preserved using optical fiber lights. 

Ajanta caves are in consecutive order till 26. Some are uncompleted.

Route to various caves

This sculpture of Sleeping Buddha is very famous and it is present in our history books also. So, decided to capture it

Finally, at 7 in the evening we left the Ajanta caves. Mumbai was around 500 km.  We reached the college at 4am. Although, we skipped many famous places in Aurangabad but still the trip was a memorable one. Looking forward for similar trip in future. The expenses were around 2400 per person.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The last kiss

Riya was leaving India in next few days. She was going to get married next year and  settle in Australia for the rest of her life. She works in Accenture in Mumbai. 

Saahil also works in Accenture in the same team as Riya. He liked Riya from the day 1 and Riya also told her the same day about her marriage. Perhaps, Riya  knew  about her magical hazy eyes well and knew their role in making people fall into love with her instantaneously. That is why, she told about her marriage as soon as they met. 

They hang around for 3 months a lot. They become a good friends. Their relation is very submissive, each of them is ready to do anything for anybody. They watch movie together, shop together, roam together, bunk together. In few days, they became habitual of each other. The first thing every day that they do after reaching the office is to call other person and wait for him/her in the canteen for a breakfast. Riya talks about future husbands a lot and Saahil assists her decisions by helping her about what boys think generally. She chattered, dreamed continuously about her future life and Saahil listens like a dumb person. 

Finally, a day had came for Riya to leave his hometown to Dehradun for her marriage. She invited Saahil for her marriage but both of them knew that Saahil will not come. They meet for the last time in the office canteen. Saahil forced her to drop to her hostel in his car. She at first resisted but later agreed. 

Saahil- I never asked you anything in my life.
Riya- Yes, I Know.
Saahil- Neither any foolish formality like gifts exchange takes place between us.
Riya- Because we are very mature people.
Saahil- I want to kiss you so that I can remember you always. I know you are going to get married in next few days. Please don’t say no to me. I really want to make a personnel contact with you so that I can remember you always.
Riya-  Are you crazy? What purpose doe……..

Saahil interrupted and kissed. That was one of the most beautiful kiss of their life without any lust and full of love. For the rest of journey none of them spoke to each other. 

Both Saahil and Riya are happily married today but not with each other.
They have not talked to each other after that romantic evening but each of them blushes on the thought of that incident.

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