Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Prologue ~ Bhutan Diaries - 1



It did not took much time for us to decide the place for our next trip. A mystic happy country sharing borders with two economic giants, India and China, where 'Gross National Happiness' is a far more important measure than the 'Gross Domestic Product'. Yes the place is a beautiful country called Bhutan.

Flag of Bhutan

I tried to read and gather as much information I could on Bhutan- information on important things such as permits, necessary documents, currency, weather and also not so important things such as  'how difficult is it to trek Tiger's Nest','Do we need woolens in June' etc.

 During my information hunt, I found one TED Talk given by the honorable Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay. What an amazing speech it was. I liked it as much I liked the speech when I first heard it almost a year back. I am sharing the link and insist anyone to listen to it. In the 19 minutes speech you will get a good idea about Bhutan 's culture,dress,values,constitution and carbon negativity.Yes Bhutan is a carbon negative, in fact a carbon sink. More than 70% of Bhutan is covered with trees that absorb a greater quantity of carbon dioxide than the country produces. We could actually feel the clean crisp air wherever we traveled.

Hanging Bridge and Monastery on the way to Paro from Thimpu

Previously obtaining a permit to travel to Bhutan was a cakewalk for Indians. But very recently due to the sudden influx of tourists in Bhutan rules have changed a little, so now its a little more difficult.
If you are planning to get a permit to Bhutan from the Bhutan Embassy in Kolkata then you have to apply two months before your travel date. But as per the lastest information I gathered they have stopped issue of permit from Kolkata Embassy. One now need to get the permits only at Phuentshoing if coming on road from West Bengal. For us, our plan was to obtain the permits at Phuentshoing. As per the new rules to obtain the default 7 day permit for Thimpu and Paro from Phuentshoing, you must have the following documents :

a) One Passport size photo
b) Photocopy of ID proof recognized by the Govt of India. Best to have photocopy of passport/voter       ID card/Driving Licence
c) Hotel booking/confirmation receipts for Thimpu and Paro
d) A copy of your itinerary

The permit issue does not take too long, for us it was less than an hour but it depends on the rush. Also bear in mind that on Saturday,Sunday and any other national holiday the permit office remains closed. So if someone arrives on a Saturday at Phuentshoing then that person cannot move ahead to Thimpu till Monday until his permits are issued. Also Bhutan has 22- 23 national holidays every year, so you need to take that in consideration while planning your trip. I will share the list of National Holidays in Bhutan for this year that is 2017 in a subsequent post, so that you can plan accordingly. I will give more details once I start my each day travel blog post.

All Indian currencies are accepted in Bhutan although tourists are advised not to bring any denomination note greater than 100 Rupees. We took all our money in 100 Rupee notes, except some 2000 and 500 notes. However 2000 and 500 notes were accepted everywhere. Bhutanese currency is Ngultrum (BTN) and the exchange value is same that of Indian Rupee. I think except one and five BTN notes rest have pictures of Bhutan's Kings on one side and Dzongs on the other side. Wait...did I say dzongs? Dzongs are beautiful buildings meant for district and religious administration. So they are basically administrative offices and what I learnt from our local Bhutanese driver is that there are 20 districts in Bhutan and each have a dzong. The three most beautiful dzongs that we saw are the Punakha Dzong, the Thimpu Dzong and the Paro Dzong. They were amazing.

Once we crossed the Bhutan Gate and entered Phuentshoing, the first two things we noticed were - the cacophony suddenly vanishes. Jaigaon the last town on the Indian side is so overfilled with cars, shops, people, sound whereas Phuentshoing is so quiet and orderly. Also shops and availability wise its less. The other thing is the structure of the buildings changes. The buildings start looking identical and each and every looks so pretty. All the buildings are structured in traditional Bhutanese architecture and every house has intricate wooden windows and doors. All the commercial and government buildings have pictures of the handsome King and extremely beautiful Queen of Bhutan at least inside the building if also not outside. Also by talking with locals you can understand they highly love and admire their royal family.

Almost 80% of the people wear the traditional dress. The men wear a knee length baggy suit called 'gho' that has traditional prints paired with black knee length socks and shoes. The women wear 'kira' which is basically a long piece of colorful and traditional print cloth wrapped as a skirt accompanied with full sleeve loose blouse. I do not know if its only my observation or not, but women in Bhutan have flawless, radiant and beautiful skin regardless of age. Also people in Bhutan are one of the kindest and sincere people I have ever seen. I am in love with the Bhutanese.

Bhutanese women in traditional attire

A monk watching archery

And lastly how can I miss talking about Bhutanese food. The people really know food. We have never been dissatisfied even for once for any single dish that we had in some many of the restaurants in Bhutan. Some of the restaurants were out of the world but the rest were also very good. I will post about the restaurant details in a separate blog post. The national dish of Bhutan is 'Ema Datsi'. Datsi means cheese and ema means chilli. So this dish has chilli and cheese. The dish is prepared with local yak cheese mixed with Amul cheese. However our favorite was 'Kewa Datsi' which is potato cheese. I will rate it 10 out of 10. Its so delicious. We also had 'Shamu Datsi' that is mushroom and cheese.
Pork is very popular followed by beef and chicken. We had really yummy pork ribs which tasted out of the world. We also had 'Jasha Maru' which is light chicken curry and also 'Jasha Paa' which is chicken cooked with spinach. My mouth is watering as I write, so I hope I do not need to provide any further details how great Bhutanese food tastes. Chicken momo is not very popular in Bhutan as it is in India. Instead fast food restaurants mostly keep vegetable or cheese momo. And by the way momo is considered a snack so not all restaurants will have it in their menu or offering. Also tea in Bhutan is very different from the tea in India. Bhutanese prefer butter tea or 'Suja' which tastes a little like creamy soup.

One of the tremendously good sizzlers
Ham wrapped in cheese with mushrooms

sticky rice and also jasmine tea

So I think thats a pretty good amount of information I managed to collect and share.Now some teasers before the next write-up.

Common people

Players in an archery tournament

Some posing on the way

Paro Dzong

Tiger's Nest Monastery












Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Bhutan Trip Preparation

This is such a long long awaited trip.... Finally Bhutan. We're coming.

This time around, we are going to bring you video footage from our trip; food, culture, people, and us enjoying in Bhutan.

  We've recently opened a youtube channel. If you haven't subscribed to it, please consider subscribing.




Darjeeling ~ Queen of Hills


A long pending post that I thought I must finish before we embark on my next trip to Bhutan this week. By the way before I start, let me split some secret beans. I have been planning for quite sometime to start with our vlog and we will do it this time with our Bhutan trip. I know vlogs are fun and we will be literally taking all of you to travel Bhutan with us. But for our readers who loves our blogs let me assure that there is nothing to worry, we will keep on writing as we do, vlogs will be an addition for all of you.

So now back to my short trip to Darjeeling. Whenever we visit Kolkata which is once a year we try to extend it by a little extra travel. As many of you know Kolkata is a magic city, so many places are just a short trip away from Kolkata - be it our neighbors Bangladesh or Bhutan or to some of the very beautiful and exotic places on earth such as the Sunderbans, NE India or the Himalayas.

Due to the lack of extra time we planned a very short yet eventful trip to the Queen of the Hills aka Darjeeling. The 3 day itinerary that we had was something given below:

Day 1: Get up on Darjeeling mail from Sealdah Jn

Day 2: Reach NJP in the morning. Take a cab for Darjeeling.
            Night Halt at Darjeeling

Day 3: Sightseeing at Darjeeling and nearby
            Night Halt at Darjeeling

Day 4: Train from NJP to Kolkata (SDAH)

The trip details were as follows:

Day 1:

I got confirmed tickets from Kolkata(SDAH) to New Jaipaiguri(NJP) some four months back on the very first day when the booking window opened for the dates from irctc. I had booked Darjeeling Mail since I found its time to be convenient. Since the train starts from 10:05 PM so we had a typical Bengali dinner of fish and rice at home and then took a cab for Sealdah Rly Station. It did not take much time to reach the station. We offloaded and proceeded towards the platform. My heart was pounding with happiness, I somehow love the railway announcements where they say something like this in 3 different languages...

"May I have your attention please....Train number 12343 Darjeeling Mail from Sealdah to New Jalpaiguri is expected to arrive at 10:05 PM at platform number 9"

I got a sample video from youtube while writing this blog, You may play it to hear the thrill yourself...the same beautiful voice and style which has not changed a bit for the last 30 years and I hope it stays this way.


There was nothing eventful for the rest of the day, we got up on the train, settled ourselves and at 10:05 PM the train gave a slight jerk signalling it has started moving. Oh, how much I love the beauty and thrill in these rail journeys.

Happy Us!


Happy Us!



Day 2:

Train was one hour late. It arrived at NJP at 10 AM, but we are least bothered. All we have to do is take a cab and go to Darjeeling, a place I have a lot of memories attached. Once we went disembarked from train some taxi drivers approached us. We started negotiating the rate from NJP to Darjeeling and booked a Esteem. There are various ways to reached Darjeeling from NJP. There are shared cabs, exclusive cabs as well as regular buses from Siliguri Bus terminus.

Very soon we crossed the mighty Mahananda river. There has been some recent erosion to the river banks maybe because of the rains. The road slowly started getting steeper and narrow. At many places it was so narrow that  only one car can move, the one from the opposite side has to stop. We started gaining elevation rapidly and within an hour we reached Kurseong, a little hill town famous for its residential schools. We had breakfast comprising of bread toast, omlette and tea. The small houses in Kurseong are very pretty. All have a small garden in front.

Mahananda River

Hilly Roads

From Kurseong it took another one hour or so to reach Darjeeling. We could have reached a little early but because of the traffic jam at the entry of Darjeeling town it took some time. Since Darjeeling is over packed with hotels, we did not go for any advance hotel booking. We asked our driver to show us some hotels which he did for some extra 50 bucks. As a travel tip, I think there is no requirement to do prior hotel booking in Darjeeling unless it is the peak season.


After freshening up quickly we went for lunch in the same hotel's restaurant. We took two fish thalis each was for 150 bucks. Since we have the whole of the second half of the day , we went to the local taxi stand to get a taxi which will take us to Mahakal Temple and Bhutia Basti Monastery.

We first went to Mahakal temple which is very close to Mall road. Infact it can be reached easily if someone is staying in some hotel on Mall Road. However there is a steep exhausting walk of 15-20 minutes to reach the temple. There are benches all along to take rest but there are mischievous monkeys too who will start staring at you and your belongings once you sit. There are a lot of very old trees, I think birch although not sure. They have prayer flags on them. The wind turned really bone-shivering once we reached the top. The views are rewarding and on a clear day the peaks are visible from here.

Mahakal Temple

Do not know what trees are these...each is a giant!

Next we went to Bokar Monastery, a very beautiful and pretty big monastery some kms away from Darjeeling. Here again we had to walk up a little to reach the monastery. My legs were paining and I regretted the fact that I should have practiced some inclined walking with the walker. The monastery is very peaceful and calm. Monks were carrying out their regular prayer session, we sat beside them for sometime, it was so soothing. The inside of the monastery has a paintings of Buddha and photos of  His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Outside we saw a young monk creating a huge mural painting on a big piece of cloth.

Bokar Monastery

Bokar Monastery


We told our driver to drop us at the Mall Road and not to the hotel. We walked pass the vibrant shops. They were selling everything a tourist could possibly want - clothes, wooden carvings, masks, jewelries, gifts and souvenirs,organic tea and incense sticks. We went to the nearby Bhutia market which is famous for woolens and jackets. When we were kids, we were told that the Bhutanese people have set up this market where they sell their stuffs and the stuffs sold are really good.

Day 3:

Last night we have booked a cab with our hotel since our plan was to see the sunrise from Tiger Hills. We told our driver to pick us up no later than 3:45 AM. We had our alarms set at 3:30 AM but we woke up before the alarm rang. Our driver was already there before 3:45 waiting for us at the hotel reception, so once we got a call from the reception we went down and got up in his car. It was pitch dark outside. I was feeling too cold and sleepy, not at all in a mood to start the day so early but as soon as we hit the roads, I was taken in for surprise. Already there are so many cars on the road. Few of them already has tourist who were also going to Tiger Hills to witness the sunrise and most cars were going to the various hotels to pick tourists up.

When we reached Tiger Hills it was still dark, there were no more than 10 people who came before us. Gradually the number went up to around 50. Since we were early birds we got ourselves a good place from where we can see the sunrise. Slowly the number of people increased to about 4 folds. Tea vendors started with their morning business. Everyone was eager for a warm cup of tea in the freezing cold.

Slowly the first ray of the Sun appeared. It illuminated the tip of Mt Kanchenjunga and the color of the sky started changing with every second. Clouds were also there to play the spoilsport. We witnessed one of the very beautiful sunrises over the Himalayas.

Dawn break at Tiger Hills

Tiger Hills

Tiger Hills


Next we went back to Darjeeling. We were in the Darjeeling Railway station to catch our toy train to Ghum and back. I had booked confirmed tickets of the same from itctc. The toy train was built by the British when they colonized India so that they can establish a smooth connectivity between the plains and the hills. I am not sure if the train is a UNESCO World Heritage site or not, but the toy train is must - do thing in Darjeeling. It is a two hour to and fro ride from Darjeeling - Ghum - Darjeeling. It halts for 30 minutes at Ghum so that tourists can get down and visit the railway museum. If you are wondering why is Ghum so special then let me tell you it is the highest railway station in India at 2258 metres. While on the way back the train takes the Batasia Loop from where excellent views of Mt Kanchenjunga and also Darjeeling town can be seen. There are some popular monasteries in Ghum but we preferred to skip them because of time constraint.

Ghum Station

Wild flowers at Ghum


On the way back we stopped at the Happy Tea Valley factory which is the most popular and also the oldest tea factory in Darjeeling. Majority of the tea manufactured at Happy Valley are exported and Harrods in UK is one of the major distributor of Darjeeling tea made at Happy Valley in UK. We bought a packet of freshly toasted Darjeeling tea from the factory outlet and I must say that the tea was marvelous. If I go to Darjeeling again, I will for sure buy the tea from here. We skipped the tea factory since we have seen so many tea factories in South India that we thought we can give it a skip and catch up with some sleep that we have missed today morning because we had to get ready for Tiger Hills.

Tea Garden

Tea Garden

Tea Garden


In the evening there was not much to do, so we went to the Mall Road once again. We walked till St Andrew's Church took some pictures, sat on the grass and came back. The evening lights were put on at the Mall Road and the entire place was so full of life bustling with tourists, shops, 'ghora- wallas'. A very short trip but worth it.

St Andrew's Church


Mirik Lake


Travel Info:
By Air ~ Nearest Airport is Bagdogra. From there there are regular taxis, shuttles that run to Darjeeling.
By Rail ~ Get down at New Jalpaiguri(NJP) from Kolkata(SDAH) . Plenty of options to reach Darjeeling- shared and exclusive cars/buses from Siliguri bus depot.
By Bus ~ There are over night bus services from Esplanade ( Kolkata )  that reaches Siliguri the next day. From there book another bus/taxi to reach Darjeeling.

Major  Attractions:
1. Toy Train from Darjeeling to Ghum and back covering Batasia loop.
2. Mahakal Temple and Observatory
3. Bokar Monastery
4. Sunrise from Tiger Hill
5. Happy Valley Tea Garden and Factory
6. Mall Road and Bhutia Market
7. St Andrew's Church
8. Darjeeling Zoo
9. Darjeeling Ropeway
10. Mirik Lake



Monday, 29 May 2017

Sticking to Budget while travelling in India



We all love vacations. But once we come back and do a total of all the expenses that we did on a vacation, it always turns out that we have spend much more than we expected. Now with so many years of travelling I have somehow learned how to keep our expenses well within the budget.

Before I give tips and tricks, let me tell you I am essentially an Indian traveler. I travel frequently along with my husband and we are essentially value for money type of travelers but not the ones on shoe-string budget. We do spend wherever it is required so that the vacation is smooth and comfortable but do not over indulge.

I know there will be hundreds of sites and blogs that talk about tips on vacation savings. My blog will be more focused on saving tips in India. So here we go.

1. Flight tickets in India costs pretty high. It is advisable that you set a fare alert or do part of the journey by plane and train. Trains in India are extensive, but the process of booking tickets is quite daunting. During the peak seasons one must book train tickets in advance of 120 days else tickets gets sold off.Once you get reserved tickets, your rides are pretty smooth.


2. Travel light. It not only helps in roaming conveniently,but also saves you from paying extra at airports for extra luggage. When we both travel together we make sure that our luggage count is no more than one big suitcase and two hand luggage.

3. There are a wide range of hotels in most tourist places in India, so unless you are not going during the peak season it is absolutely fine not to pre-book. If you can physically negotiate with the hotel manager before check-in ( off seasons) the chances are more that you will get better discounts than what is listed on hotel booking sites. Believe me, haggling pays.

The same applies for booking cabs as well.

But yes, if you are going in some peak season always pre-book hotel and then go.

4. Eat local. This can really save you a big amount. Wherever you travel in India always try to eat local. Not only you will get to eat the local fresh produce but also your food costs will be very nominal. Push away fine dining or 3 star restaurants. There are numerous simple yet clean eateries that you can find. Also if you make a  habit of refilling a few bottles of water before you start from your hotel, you can make some good savings at the end of your trip.

5. Shared and local transport is damn cheap. If possible try to form a small group of fellow travellers willing to travel from point A to point B. Bus and rail travel is cheap but not always comfortable so I really do not recommend either of them too much, else the entire fun in a vacation gets spoilt.

6. It is okay not to see each and every places of interest. Most tourist places have these things in common - several view points, religious places, botanical gardens and parks, zoos. While it is important that one does not miss the main attractions of the place, but some extras can always be trimmed. It will save you time, energy, entry costs, parking costs and some miscellaneous costs.

7. Not do too much of shopping. While I also buy souvenir whenever I visit a new place, but I always limit it to one and something that is truly locally made  so that it helps the local economy. Avoid buying unnecessary accessories or clothes on the go, they generally becomes another dump once they reach your home.

These are some tips from me. I will keep on appending as and when something comes up. You can also let me know if you have any more ideas that we can share. Who doesn't love to save a few bucks so that it gets added to the next trip's fund..




Thursday, 27 April 2017

Sikkim in a nutshell



Guys, thank you. I have received quite a few "Thank You" mails from some of my regular readers. Your mails really touch my heart and I have no words to express my gratitude. All I can say in return is wish you lots of happiness, good luck and good health along with lots of travels that makes good memories.

In the same post, I would like to address some of the queries that some of you have raised regarding travelling to Sikkim. Since the questions seek more information so I thought of assimilating the ones I have received so far in this post. I will keep on updating this post with more questions and answers if I get more.

1. I want to visit Sikkim, I will first visit East Sikkim and then North Sikkim. Do I need permit for East Sikkim? - Bimal Ghosh

[Soma and Ankur] : Hi Bimal
Yes you need to have permit to enter East Sikkim which your tour operator can easily arrange for you provided you provide him with a xerox of any of your Government of India approved photo ID card and two copies of passport photo. Alternately you can also get it at the first checkpost at Rangpo on submitting your forms and photos along with the photo ID copy.

I assume you are an Indian citizen, and in that case you do not need any permit only for West Sikkim.

2. Is Sikkim expensive for travellers? - Anonymous

[Soma and Ankur] : Hi Anonymous
Sikkim is expensive if you avail a lot of private transportation. There are syndicates for private transportation and they do a lot of monopoly. For instance a car with North Sikkim registration will not be allowed to enter West or East Sikkim and vice versa. Similarly to move around in Gangtok city you need to hire cars that are authorized to ply only in the city.So its pretty taxing on any tourist.

Also for North Sikkim you need to book a package from an agent and there the costs go high.
Alternately you can choose a shared North Sikkim package, but in that case, your comfort will be highly compromised. They squeeze 10 people in a old shaggy bolero for a 2/3 nights trip of North Sikkim where the road is bad all round the year.

Contrary to the popular notion you can also make your own North Sikkim itinerary without going to any agent. In that case costs will be much less but then you need to take a lot of pain. You need to arrange for north sikkim permits, book the local homestays( none of them are online), and also get a car and driver.

Food is also expensive in Sikkim compared to most other hill stations in North India although hotel price is nothing extravagant.

3. I am taking my parents for a trip to North Sikkim. Will senior citizens be allowed? - P.B Sukla

[Soma and Ankur] : Hi P.B Sukla
Yes and No. It mostly depends on the army person issuing the permit on that day. Senior citizens are not encouraged to go to North Sikkim.The reason is there is hardly any health care available at such high altitude.So if your parents have any of the problems such as asthma, heart/walking/breathing problem  its better not to take them. If your parents are less than 65, is hale and hearty with a young heart and is eager and excited to travel, you may take a chance.

4. Will I get vegetarian food in Sikkim as we are pure vegetarian brahmins? -S.Swamy

[Soma and Ankur] :Hi S.Swamy
I do not think finding vegetarian food will be a problem, especially in the popular tourist locations. Please get it confirmed from your tourist agent/hotel while you are planning.

5. Can I plan a tour of North Sikkim on my own? The operators I have contacted are asking for over the sky amounts. -Moloy Kanti Biswas

[Soma and Ankur] : Hi Moloy Kanti Biswas
As I have already stated before, contrary to the popular notion you can also make your own North Sikkim itinerary without going to any agent. In that case costs will be much less but then you need to take a lot of pain. You need to arrange for north sikkim permits on your own. You can get it done by your driver or hotel in exchange for some money although it is free of any charges.

You also need to fix your home stays in the places you wish to halt for night. The problem here is most of the budget home-stays are not online so you cannot directly book them. Either you must have their numbers or you need someone who can do it for you.

You also need to get a car and driver, which you can easily get from the North Sikkim taxi stand. If you book your package from them instead of hotel, you will save some money on your hotel's commission.

6. I will be on a very short trip to Sikkim. I am confused between West and East Sikkim. Which one should I do? Do I need to book hotels beforehand? - Ms Kabita Sanyal  

[Soma and Ankur] : Hi  Ms Kabita Sanyal 
Both East and West Sikkim are beautiful in their own ways, you can't compare. But since you can only visit either of the two let us try to talk of both so that it becomes easier for you to choose.

If you are concerned about the availability,  more options (stay), culture and nature choose west Sikkim as it has some of the beautiful waterfalls,monasteries and valleys.On a clear day you can see Mt Kanchenjunga very clearly from Pelling. Also there lots of options for hotels and food.

East Sikkim is more virgin, less forgiving but strikingly beautiful. A tour of the silk route will surely be a lifetime memory, but then you must go in the proper season, else it will not look the best.Also stay options are very very limited and nothing special. A complete tour of East Sikkim will also be a little more expensive since it is remote. Also there are no activities to do after sunset.

If you are travelling as a young group, then you do not need to pre-book hotels for West Sikkim except in the peak season if you are staying in places like Pelling or Ravangla.
In East Sikkim , yes you need to pre-book, there are very few options for staying

Hope we have answered all the questions that came our way. Let us know if you need any more information for planning your perfect Sikkim trip. Enjoy the pictures from Sikkim!

Pelling












Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Dev Bhumi ~ Himalayan Shrines




The Hindus consider the Himalayas as 'Dev Bhoomi' or the 'Abode of the Gods'. The Himalayas are so strikingly beautiful and difficult to conquer that a human mind can only perceive it as God's home.
Every year thousands and thousands of pilgrims go to the Himalayas to meet God in God's own home. Some of the very popular 'jatras' or pilgrimages are 'Char Dham' ,'Panch Badri','Panch Kedar' and 'Panch Prayag'. Though ardous but undertaking any of the yatras will surely reward the pilgrim/traveller with a new perspective of life and with a bountiful of nature.

Below are some of the yatras that I am listing for reference. I would love to hear from you if you have been to any of these.

CHAR  DHAM

According to Hindus,the CHAR DHAM are the houses of four Gods. Each Dham is presided by a ruling deity.

1. Kedarnath (3584m)
2. Badrinath (3096m)
3. Gangotri (3048m)
4. Yamunotri (3185m)

Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva , Badrinath is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Yamunotri and Gangotri are dedicated to Goddess Ganga and Yamuna rivers respectively.

PANCH BADRI

The five Badries are considered as the main places of worship of Lord Vishnu.

According to mythology,this place originally belonged to Shiva but Vishnu just like any other Hindu god came here to offer penance. He loved the place so much that he plotted to unseat Shiva from his meditation here. He took on the form of a beautiful child and began to wail. Shiva's wife, Parvati picked him up but could not calm the child.

Since his wailing continued to disturb Shiva, Shiva shifted to Kedarnath in exasperation, leaving the spot free for Vishnu to occupy.

1. Badri Vishal - Sri Badrinath (3584m)
2. Yogdhyan Badri (1920m)
3. Bhavishya Badri (1380m)
4. Vridha Badri (1380m)
5. Adi Badri (1630m)

PANCH KEDAR

The Panch Kedars are places of worship all dedicated to Lord Shiva. As per folk-lore, it was the Pandavas who went to the Garhwal Himalayas in search for Shiva. Bhima or the second of the five Pandava brothers spotted a beautiful bull and immediately understood it as Shiva in disguise.

Bhima caught the bull, but it disappeared from his grip although it appeared again as a gigantic one with the hump raising in Kedarnath, the arms in Tunganath, the nabhi (navel) and stomach  in Madhyamaheshwar, the face at Rudranath and the hair and the head appearing in Kalpeshwar. The Pandavas pleased with this reappearance in five different forms, built temples at the five places for venerating and worshipping Shiva.

1. Madhmaheshwar (3490m)
2. Tungnath (3680m)
3. Rudranath (2286m)
4. Kalpnath (2134m)
5. Kedarnath (3584m)

PANCH PRAYAG

Prayag meaning "confluence" in Sanskrit, constitutes a group of five sacred river confluences in the Garhwal Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand, India.

According to the Hindu Mythology, King Bhagirath prayed day and night for Ganga to descent on Earth.When Goddess Ganga started descending to earth,Earth was not able to face the force which Ganga came down. To lessen her force, Lord Shiva allowed Ganga to first fall on the cusp of hair on his head.After falling on Shiva's head, Ganga was splitted into 12 channels. These channels or flows again gets united into single stream after Devaprayag. These five prayags are the places where the confluences occur.

1. Vishnuprayag (1372m)
2. Nandaprayag (914m)
3. Karnaprayag (832m)
4. Rudraprayag (610m)
5. Devprayag (813m)

DEVI DARSHAN

There are almost 50 Devi temples in Uttarkhand. Out of them the most popular four are

1. Kunjapuri (1665m)
2. Surkanda Devi (3030m)
3. Chandrabadni (2278m)
4. Anusuya Devi (2000m)




Monday, 24 April 2017

Nandi Hills ~ Highlights


Whenever we are in mood for some really short but awesome trip from Bangalore, we hit the roads for Nandi Hills. With temperatures in Bangalore making us all sweat, there is nothing better to have a quick day outing at Bangalore's own hill - Nandi Hills ( although not theoretically since Nandi Hills is some 50 kms from Bangalore...but who cares!)

Incase if you are interested in knowing about the route and related details please go through our very first and off course special blog here
http://thetravellerweare.blogspot.in/2011/09/nandi-hills-yet-another-ancient-hill.html.

We started our travel blogging after visiting Nandi hills and thereafter there has been innumerable number of times we have visited Nandi Hills, and it has been pleasant every time.

Also please check out our new video on Nandi Hills. The detailed one will be coming soon and we are working on that. Also please do SUBSCRIBE to our youtube channel and shower us with your love as you have done for our blog.



Thanks and much love ~ Soma and Ankur

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