Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

One of my recent vacations and truly memorable one was to DeorialTal and Auli, Uttarakhand with my family and friends, it was a group of 6 guys. We enjoyed some of the most interesting things such as tracking, snow view and specially enjoy skiing. We planned a 4 Day & 4 Night tour from 01st Feb to 5th Feb 2018.

We boarded train from Old Delhi to Haridwar. We reached Haridwar at 6 O’clock in the morning and finished morning ablution at railway station itself. Once we were done with the morning chores we finished our roadside breakfast and boarded private cab from Haridwar to Joshimath, which we have already hired from Delhi.

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Soon after, cab started to wend along the winding roads of Himalaya. In the Initial phase, we were driving on the bank of river Ganges till we reached Devprayag. Devprayag is one of the holiest places where two sacred rivers Bhagirathi and Alakananda meets and forms the world-famous Sangam of Ganges.We stopped at Devprayag to take some photographs. After Devprayag, we drove further uphill but now it was alongside the bank of river Alakananda. Roads were bumpy and we frequently encountered road blockages due to the maintenance. Then we stopped at DhariDevi temple,an ancient Hindu temple located on the banks of the Alaknanda river between Srinagar and Rudraprayag in Kalyasaur, Garhwal Region.

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According to the legend, DhariDevi is the guardian deity of Uttarakhand, whose idol was removed from her temple on 16th June 2013 by priests and locals, just a few hours before the cloudburst. As per believers, Uttarakhand had to also face the Goddess’ Ire when she was shifted from her ‘moolsthan‘ to make way for a Hydel project that lies in ruins after the flood.

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After darshan and all we moved towards our destination, the landscape was transforming after each hour as we were gaining more and more elevation. It was also becoming colder and colder as we move ahead.On our way we took our lunch and managed drink and snacks. After witnessing many other Prayags (Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Nandaprayag) and Chamoli district, we tried to find the camp at Chopta for our night stay but due to heavy snowfall it was not possible as road was blocked then finally we moved to Ukhimath, touched down at around 7 O’clock in the evening after around 12 hours of our rigorous journey. We took a hotel over there and had our dinner with bonfire and spend our first night of our trip over there.

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Next morning, everyone became profoundly refreshed once we witnessed the Golden effect of rising sun on snow capped Himalayas. For some of us, it was the first time in high Himalayas, so they were mesmerised with the view. Quickly, all of us got ready as we already have plans for Chopta-Tungnath tracking. During our lovely breakfast, some locals advised us not to go Chopta-Tungnath tracking as it was blocked due to heavy snowfall last night and the height of snow was around 10-12 ft, we were really disappointed with this news because tracking from Chopta to Tungnath is in our hit list to cover during the trip.They also informed us about DeoriaTal which was open for tracking and is around 15 kms. away from Ukhimath by road. We followed their advice and moved towards DeoriaTal.

Climbed a mountain!

 

It was about 9:30 hours when we left the hotel and we reached Sari. The trek from Sari to DeoriaTal is about 4 kms. We initiated our trek towards the heavenly DeoriaTal at 10:30 hours and hardly 10 minutes had passed, and it got too hot, I was also very grateful to my trekking stick.As soon as we started walking uphills, we could feel the scorching heat determined to test our limits.As we were going up it was difficult to breathe and we were getting exhausted too but as we had a crunch on time so we keep moving.

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We were walking, joking, having fun, taking pictures and admiring the beauty of picturesque canvas,God has painted. We splashed snow at each other and remembered those unforgettable days of our childhood. We re-lived our childhood days and give a new hope to the long-lost child within us.We had amazing views of the Chandrashila peak and Sari village while we were climbing. I cannot paint these shades even if try thousand different colours…green was so green and sky was so blue and the Chokhambha peak was as white as it can be… I was just starring and I could not get enough…my eyes were not enough to capture as if I needed a different set.

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After walking about 4 kms we reached DeoriaTal around 12:30 in the noon, at an altitude of about 8,000 ft. DeoariaTal Lake, name derived from Devi that means Goddess and Tal that means a lake. It was an amazing view to see Chawkhambha mountain shadowing himself into the green water of DeoriaTal lake.It was full of peace and calm in nature.There are so many things to see here and my camera went crazy, clicking the photos of the lovely lakes and the lush landscapes around. After clicking the photographs, we created a snowmen over there which was really beautiful and we enjoyed a lot during the time of creation, as everyone of us had a opinion about our snowmen those also who didn’t put their hands in this lovely creation.We roam around the lake and completed a circle around it and then we started to move back going downwards. It took us only one and a half hour to reach back.

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What an amazing experience!!It was a memorable trekking both sides. The DeoriaTal trek has a mix of everything that a beginner like us would be looking for in a Himalayan Trek. There is a lot to explore and discover on this trek. I recommend this trek to all those who love adventure, nature and beauty that God had gifted us.

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Snow means Skiing…Glide on the snow carpet!

 

Uttarakhand is blessed with plenty of natural splendor and Auli is one of the most beautiful places in Chamoli. Auli rests on the way to Badrinath. Joshimath is the base point for treks such as Auli, Hemkund and Nanda Devi.We covered only Auli. The hills of Auli are connected to Joshimath via rope-way/cable car covering a 4 kms. long distance and the tariff for it is Rs. 1000/- per person which can be covered in 20-25 minutes. It is a longest rope-way ride in Asia, situated at an altitude of 3000 meters above sea level.The other way to get to Auli from Joshimath is by road and it usually closed/blocked in winters due to heavy snow fall.

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Going up to Auli from Joshimath in the cable car was an experience in itself. Cable car provides an exceptional 360 degree panoramic view of the Himalayas, which includes the second highest peak of India – The Nanda Devi (7816 meters).As we moved up the slope, we started seeing snow all around the surface. There were piles of snow on the trees indicating fresh snowfall. It was beautiful to watch the cable car leaving the muddy earth and enter an ocean of white snow from which pine trees seemed to emerge. Auli is a very scenic place, with snow covering every inches of earth, and a pine forest just above the Ski Lodge. Beautiful artificial lake was created in the middle of Auli’s mountains. It is the world’s highest man-made lake. The reason for creating this lake is to produce synthetic artificial snow during international skiing championships when there’s scanty of snowfall. All the ski championships that are organised in India are conducted in Auli, during Jan-March. A person can also opt a professional ski training program which is a 15-day program.

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The place is ultimate destination for anyone looking for skiing in India. It is a winter paradise filled with beautiful valleys, white forests, lofty peaks and much more to explore.I had never seen so much snow,so I was pretty excited. I walked and jumped around the real snow and felt happy as a kid. The bright snow would hurt without the goggles, and cold would bite into the skin, yet it was nice and beautiful.

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As everyone in the group was already aware that skiing is among the most popular forms of adventure over here,thus we directly moved for skiing without having any doubts or second thoughts in minds.The charges would vary from INR 400 to INR 500 (till you get tired or the snow gets hard enough to ski).After the training session started, we took some time to figure out how to wear/detach ski gear properly. The instructor was guiding us to make slow front and back movements with the skis on, and to walk around slowly on plane surface. We kept falling while skiing. We fell more than we walked, and struggled to get back on our feet with the skiing boots on. We felt some confidence when we achieved to slide down a few meters and had a feel of what skiing is all about.

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We spent the entire day to trekking, snowboarding and soaking the beauty of Auli. The splendid view of meadow covered in the blanket of snow and the towering Himalayan peaks in the backdrop will always remain embedded in my heart as we enjoyed and clicked a lots of pictures, there. The hill station is not commercialized yet and hence there was very few stay options available but these were very expensive.Hence we returned to Joshimath from second last cable car of the day. We were hungry so first we ate Aalu Parathas with green coriander chutney in supper and it was so delicious to water my mouth again. Then we decided to move forward towards our next destination for night stay which was not booked.

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We reached Rudraprayag and booked a Hotel for our stay, it was the last night stay of the trip so we decided to order non veg also as some of them were missing the desi non veg cousin throughout the trip. We checked and noticed that they had only vegetarian options in their menu. We asked if they had any non-veg items, and the guy said yes, its available “on-demand”. Since RudraPrayag is a religious place, most eating joints do not publicly advertise non-vegetarian food in their menu. But my friends palate could not be satiated with vegetarian food, especially after travelling so much during the day! So he ordered a spicy hot plate of chicken curry :). The food was quite nice and most of it was freshly prepared. We retired to bed as we had to wake up early tomorrow to reach Delhi via Haridwar.

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Next morning,we get ready at 9 in the morning to move towards Haridwar. On our way to Haridwar we took a short break from our travelling and stopped at Rishikesh. We walked towards the river bank and dipped our legs into the water cracking the jokes (Hey, Rishikesh! I am in Rishikesh 😊). After taking a rest of around 30-40 minutes we moved ahead. We reached Haridwar in the evening and finally got the opportunity to witness the Ganga Aarti of Haridwar. It is situated at the bank of Ganga River and thus many people from across the world comes here to visit Haridwar and to see the most famous “GANGA AARTI” as Haridwar is one of the seven holy places to Hindus. It was a really divine experience to see Ganga Aarti, I immediately remembered Varanasi’s Ganga Aarti and comparing both of them which is not fare at all. We enjoyed famous Kachori over there and then moved by the divine atmosphere which comprised of lights, colours, chants, ringing bells, drums and the smell of various flowers, incense and camphor.

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We came back from a four-day trip with lots of memory and thinking for another snow trek may be Chopta next time.

Trekking : DeoriaTal – Uttarakhand

 

Auli : Snow and Skiing

Road Trip : Delhi To Dehradun

Posted: November 23, 2018 in Travel, Uncategorized

My purpose of travel is to learn, take a short refreshing break from my professional life, meet new people and to explore something that I have never done before. This time i selected Road Trip but I had to choose that place which would be safer to drive on hills and would be within roughly 300 km radius from Delhi NCR. We had a lot of discussion from Bhangarh to Lansdown and finally we locked Dehradun/Mussoorie as a destination. The date chosen was 29th September and the period when we travelled was 29-Sep to 02-Oct’18. We already planned to cover all the destination of Dehradun. When you plan for any trip, especially when its first of its kind then it’s hard to wait for the moment and same was for me. I haven’t had any experience of hills driving even though I was very excited about my trip as this was my first road trip and none of them knew how to drive but even then, it’s better to have helping hands in case you need one.

Day 1: New Delhi→Dehradun

After counting of days, finally the day had come, we started our road trip on September 29 morning. I took a fine sleep before rising early. we woke up early, got our bags ready and headed for a 3-day trip to Dehradun/Mussoorie on 7:30 AM. Early morning helps you to cut through from the city traffic, the traffic was minimal, and we drove smoothly. At 245 kilometers, the drive from Delhi to Dehradun will take you roughly six hours. Since we’d not had breakfast, so we need to make an immediate stop anywhere for breakfast, but we decided “Haldirams” as our first stop to take a food etc.

While planning for the route, we had no idea about the road conditions and the more worse thing was leaving the highway for a while and take a route of village anyway, next 40 km. we were on kind of worse unending roads. You can imagine the roads with the fact that we were not driving and there was no road at all but just mud. We managed to reach Muzaffarnagar by 11:40 hrs. and our first stop “Halidarms” was just to came. We stopped there for 1 hour, had some Brunch, stretched our legs and then headed towards Dehradun. This was a perfect spot for your one stop travelling destination, situated just midway to and for end route to majestic Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradun and Mussoorie.

The road condition was also getting better with every passing kilometer and we gained some pace. Muzaffarnagar to Dehradun is around 130 km and it took us more than 3 hrs. to cover. We faced little jam before Dehradun at tunnel and then we finally reached to our hotel “Amrit Resort”, Dehradun by some 4:00 PM O clock. A little settling in the Hotel we took bath and then we started our party as usual and after that we decided to roam around the city and went out for dinner at “Black Pepper Restaurant”. It is a Lovely little restaurant with great service and awesome food apart from that exemplary ambience, extensive sitting, and an extremely professional staff is the best part of restaurant.

Day 2: Green Mountains, Reckless Roads and Mesmerizing Chakrata

Charkrata is a destination that has a perfect combination of mountains, valleys, and rivers. It is situated between the Tons and Yamuna river, at an elevation of 7000–7250 feet, and is 100 km away from Dehradun. You would realize the height of this place when you proceed further from Dehradun.

We had breakfast and began our travel by 10:00 AM from Dehradun. Today, we had to cover more than 200 Km. Distance from Dehradun to Chakrata is 89 Km. and then 20 km. for Tiger fall from Chakrata. I had never been on such a dangerous, curvy, and narrow route but it felt exciting. The sceneries on the way were terrific and a treat to our eyes. One could see streams of water flowing out of mountains with sheep and farmers on its sides.

Camping in this quaint hill station is one of the exhilarating things to do besides camping there was only one popular attraction in chakrata is “Tiger Fall”. We were keen on clicking a lot of pictures and so decided to move first towards Sunrise/Sunset point where we had spent couple of hours.

We had initially planned to cover tiger fall after Chakrata but we were too late because we had spent a lot of time in Chakrata and 4:10 PM was not the right time to cover 20 km. uphill mountain road. We had discussion whether we should cover the Tiger fall or not because we need around 1 hours to reach there and 1 hour for roaming around the Tiger fall and then time would be approx. 6:30 PM when we started to down from tiger fall to Dehradun. Finally, our risk takers people decided to cover tiger fall with the statement “Which will be seen later, what happens” and then we head straight to “Tiger Fall” without any delay.

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Tiger Fall: Water Roars

We reached at 5:00 PM. As said ‘nothing comes easy’. We had to trek 1 Km to view our destination – the Tiger Fall but the result was worth it. The roaring sounds of water were deafening (that’s how it gets the name ‘Tiger Fall’) and I could literally feel the misty drizzle on my face. The waterfall was one of the most soothing and rejuvenating part of the trip. Later after spending a half an hour at the waterfall, we trekked back to the starting point, took some refreshment and ready to drive downhill and cover 100 km. in darkness means no lighting at all.

I can say that it was very thrilling and most peaceful drive I have ever had, I said “Peaceful” because we were the only one who drive on the road. We felt that driving conditions was less challenging than day because we can easily judge the coming vehicle by their light beside the adventure it was dangerous as well as turns on mountains are extremely sharp, and visibility is not as clear. If you don’t approach them with caution, it can be easy to lose control of your vehicle. Somehow, we reached to our hotel in Dehradun and everybody was feeling tired and we need refreshment.

Overall, it was very enjoyable and memorable journey, and I personally had some takeaway that on a mountain road, it’s important to apply your brakes and horn before turns, not during them. Braking early will help you turn more easily and make sure your mountain trip is safer. While driving on a mountain, make sure you keep your vehicle completely in your lane, staying as far from the center line as is reasonably safe.

Chakrata was an awesome experience for me! In short, I explored and enjoyed a lot here. It was adventurous, soothing and rejuvenating – a combination which is hard to find!

Day 3- Drive to Mussoorie and Lal Tibba: The real hill drive

We woke up in late morning and missed our hotel breakfast. We started our journey in afternoon around 12:00 o clock, we decided to first towards the breakfast, stopped our bikes outside the Forest Research Institute took our breakfast and then visited FRI. The Greco-Roman architectural beauty with the lush green tress makes it the most popular places to visit in Dehradun. These 450 hectares spread beautiful campus has been often chosen by Bollywood movies like – Paan Singh Tomar, Student of the year, Krishna cottage to name a few.

Next, we visited a Robber’s Cave that was not in our list at all but what a place it was. The Robber’s cave is bound by imposing hills and showcases nature at its best. The route to Robber’s cave is kind of Narrow Street. Literally, transparent water touching your feet with its coldness. A kilometer-long trek brought us to a refreshing stream which elevated us of all our tiredness. Trust me it was so much fun there and we were in no mood of leaving the place early. We stayed there for 1 hour and then drove back.

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Drive to Mussorie started a little late. It was around 3:30 pm in the evening when we finally headed towards Queen of the Hills, which is another name for Mussoorie. Just 35 km from Dehradun, the roads till Mussoorie were quite smooth and easy. In the way we had seen glimpses of nature around the roads, it was ideal for hills ride.

The next target in mind was Lal Tibba about which I heard a lot even since before. At a distance of 6 km from Mussoorie, Lal Tibba is the highest point in Mussoorie situated in Landour area. It is located at an altitude of 2275 m. This place offers scenic views of sunrise and sunset and is one of the best places to visit in Mussoorie. A telescope was placed at the tower on a cliff by municipality to offer scenic views of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Banderpunch, and other Himalayan ranges.

A haven for photo enthusiasts, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Himalayas from here and take back a million good photographs to hang on the living room wall. We had amazing cold coffee, while sitting right on the edge of a cliff and staring at the beautiful mountains. It was all what one would have wanted to draw a painting sort of. The road to Lal Tibba was very picturesque, the route to there was a kind of big lesson for the one who never drove on hills with extremely tough turn on narrow slopes. It was the toughest road I have ever seen. Next, we visited our last stop Mall road.

The Mall road was very crowded, full of shops and tourists but it was so beautiful, bright and colorful. Personally, I would prefer this mall road instead of the Shimla or Nainital Mall Road. There is an awesome omelette shop on the main road. We had already recommendation to visit this place. we went to this famous shop called “Lovely Omelette Center”. This was established in the time of the British. It’s was a small Cafe type shop with a variety of omelets running by a very humble owner. When we ordered the omelette there was waiting for 1.5 hours, Its very normal during weekend. After 1 hour we were able to taste, it was like pizza where you have base as bread cheese in center and top you have eggs. You all the wait time is forgotten once you bite into the cheese omelette – also declared India’s best omelette by many food critics. Lovely Omelette Centre is always packed with students in the morning, who get preferential treatment. kids eat for free! Kids who can afford it pay and eat, and those who can’t, eat for free. I Would certainly recommend it to others.

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For a while, we strolled around the mall road only and bought a few things. After shopping, we left for our hotel in Dehradun as Mussoorie had already won our hearts. We started driving down by 08:30PM and driving down was much easier than drive uphill’s for sure. We must have driven at speed of 40-50 hrs. even on those steep curves that we managed to reach Dehradun by 11:00 PM.

We reached our hotel, settled down for a bit, rested and then went out for dinner. Some random walking over the roads and then an early dinner to fill us up after a tiring day as we had to plan for the return on the next morning.

Day 4: Dehradun → New Delhi

After a sound sleep, I woke up early in pleasant Dehradun weather. It was 7:00 AM and time to head back to Delhi as it was a long journey ahead. We have started our return journey with heavy hearts. It was very painful for the pillion to adjust the seat to reduce the stress. The ordeal finally ended by some 03:00 PM.

Reaching Delhi makes you think that journey is almost over while next coming hours tells that much part yet to be travelled. Kind of last mile rush… but finally we reached back home by 04:00 PM and the smile on ours faces despite of being tired was signifying that we have finished our first hill ride successfully without any trouble and would be ready to take on bigger battles from here…

Andaman Diaries

Posted: April 14, 2018 in Travel

The holiday to Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a once in a lifetime experience. Andaman & Nicobar is full of amazing natural beauty and stunning marine life. I am eager to share my experience and thoughts about this lovely place. My experience may help others to plan a better trip and help them to change their view to look at Andaman island as “Kaala-Pani”.

The Andaman Islands are a group of islands in the Bay of Bengal and a Union Territory of India. There are total 572 islands but inhabited islands are 38. The name of the island has always been ‘Andaman’ and might represent Handuman, the Malay form of Hanuman. The capital of Andaman Island is Port Blair.

 Day-1: Delhi – Port Blair

Our journey begins on 24th February 2018 with a lot of enthusiasm. We started from Delhi to Port Blair by Spice Jet Airways at 10:30 AM. It was the first flight journey for my wife, and she was very thrilled. After 4 hour journey via Kolkata we landed in port Blair at 2:30 PM. Port Blair is the entry point to the Andaman and Nicobar Island. During our flight, we witnessed some beautiful scattered islands. This view is never to be missed. Simply amazing.

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We were welcomed by our Hotel’s Owner, Mr. Nasir from Andaman. After taking rest for a while, we decided to visit the Cellular Jail. It’s best way to see the past chapters of our Indian history. We must know the value of our freedom. You need at least 2-3 hours to view the entire jail. Light and sound show held in evening was stunning.  I was choked after hearing the history of Jail. That’s when I got to know why people call this jail as “Kaala-Pani”.

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After visiting cellular jail, we went for our dinner at Annapurna restaurant (Near Rajiv Gandhi Sports complex) which is one of the best vegetarian restaurant in Port Blair. Rajiv Gandhi Sports complex is the most popular place to hang out in Port Blair.

Day-2: Ross Island

We woke up early and were surprised by the weather condition. Average sunrise timing in Andaman is 5 AM and sunset by 5 PM.

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After the breakfast, we went to Ross Island.  It’s a 10 min boat ride from the jetty to the Island. This Island is the erstwhile capital of Port Blair during the British regime, presently it is only a place of old ruined houses. It is very well maintained by the navy and local people. There were lots of ruin buildings on the island that were made by trees + roots + ruin building, in a very interesting form. It’s Heaven for photographer. To see complete island you need to walk a lot, so better to carry water and some snacks. There is small beach which is completely destroyed by 2004 Tsunami and you can see that. We spent nearly 3 hours on the island and took the same boat to return to the jetty.

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After returning from the Ross Island we were ready to go for Neil Island, It is 40 km away from port Blair.

We checked out the hotel at 1:30 PM. The Hotel was very near to Phoenix Bay Jetty (port). Our ship named “Makruzz” was waiting for us. It was our first ship journey. Once the ship got sailing in the sea, we went on the deck. Open sea view was amazing. After 2 hours of a royal  journey, we reached Neil Island.

Our Tourist guide “Vishwajeet” was waiting for us on the jetty. He is such a fantastic human being. Our hotel was not booked in Neil Island and he helped us a lot to search the hotel and he also arranged the scooty for us.

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Neil Island is one of the smaller inhabited islands in Ritchie’s archipelago. The west side of the island has a glorious view of the open seas and setting of the sun. Here, the sandy beach drops into the coastline gradually, allowing picturesque vistas. Neil has three beaches Bharatpur beach, Sitapur beach (Sunrise Point), and the next point is Lakshmanpur beach

In The evening we went to Laxmanpur Beach, it’s also known as sunset point. It is a great spot for shutterbugs. In the evening it was filled with tourists to come to see the sunset.

 Day-3: Neil Island

The next day we woke up early, got ready by 4 am and reached Sitapur beach to see sunrise. This is not as beautiful as other beaches of Andaman. It’s mainly popular for sunrise view and also it’s good for a walk otherwise, there’s nothing that you would miss in case you don’t visit this beach.

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After that we moved to see Natural Bridge where we did lots of photography. Nature has blessed Neil Island with amazing rock formation which has given the island a reason for tourists to visit and remember.

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Our next destination is Bharatpur. The beach is very beautiful. The water has very beautiful shades. There are beautiful fishes & corals inside the water. This beach is very near to Neil Island jetty. You can enjoy shopping in local stalls. Also food, coconut water, etc. This beach offers most of the water activities like jet ski, Glass bottom boat ride etc. We were only chilling at the sea shore here and didn’t take to do water sports activities.

 Day- 4 : Havelock Island

Havelock Island is very small in size with a very less population. Havelock Island provides idyllic resort in the lap of virgin beach and an unpolluted environment. We decided to roam around and explore the whole island so we rented an Activa scooty to roam on the island. We moved to the “Eldorado Resort” which is approx 3 km away from the jetty. Eldorado is a sea facing resort that is completely surrounded by tall coconut trees and green garden. Night bar is in the middle of the premise. Our private cottage was close to the beach. Beach is not at all good for swimming but you can relax on the wooden benches. We took rest in resort till 3.30 PM and then we started for a very romantic and famous Radhanagar Beach.

We at Radhanagar Beach – Perfect place

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Now let me introduce the main attraction here. Radhanagar Beach is one of the largest beaches in India. It is lonely, very clean, silver sand and breathtakingly beautiful. Obviously, this beach gets crowded but don’t worry, it’s huge you will definitely find big empty spaces if you keep going ahead. Radhanagar Beach or Beach number 7 is on the west side of the island and you will need to reach this by a 30-minute scooty ride.

It has been ranked Asia’s 7th most beautiful beach. It was very difficult to stop ourselves from entering in the blue water. We did photography here. After spending a long time, we witnessed the very romantic sunset from the beach. A perfect place for Honeymoon!!! We enjoyed till sunset and then we preferred to go back in resort.

Scuba Diving – Amazing Experience

Scuba Diving was something that I wanted to do and did not want to miss on the experience of diving in Havelock Island. It is by far the best experience I have had.

Diving in Havelock Island is a must do thing and “Eco Divers” is an extremely good dive centre. I booked my Scuba diving from Single window counter for morning slot, the cost of dive varies between INR 4000 – 6000 rupees/person. By 8 O’clock we reported as good students and they give us another quick detail about the program. We changed clothes in the dressing area and got ready for the diving experience. We earlier heard that this is not a great diving site, but it was actually a great location to experience diving in Havelock Island. The weather was clear and water was silent, all set up for the perfect diving experience. Initially, they explained basics i.e and how to breathe underwater and use the apparel. Some signs were also taught, at first we felt some trouble with breathing apparatus as it was really quite difficult to inhale & exhale through mouth but underwater I remembered only one thing that diver will take care of me and my wife.

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Once we got comfortable, we went underwater. It was like WOW experience, The visual was like Wonderland. Eagerly waiting for my return and my inputs about how was the diving experience. We really tried hard not to panic as we and our instructor went deeper and deeper underwater. I was slowly taken into much deeper areas and I saw lots of coral, varied kinds of fishes, don’t know the names but it was nice to be honest and I was ecstatic seeing the fishes swimming around me. The guide who accompanied me underwater pointed out to some of the fishes, trying to explain to me what that is, but you know I was just looking at it without understanding much what was he trying to convey.

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My diving took place for around 50-60 minutes and I was totally satisfied with the experience. Those minutes have been the most beautiful, most peaceful time of my life.

After the dive, we got our Video and Photographs. It’s surely a memory to take back after returning from Andamans. When we came back to resort I got the real meaning of the poetry from the movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”.

पिघले नीलम सा बहता ये समां, नीली नीली सी खामोशियाँ ,

न कहीं है ज़मीन न कहीं आसमान, सरसराती हुई टहनियां पट्टियां,

कह रहीं है बस एक तुम हो यहाँ, बस मैं हूँ ,

मेरी सांसें हैं और मेरी धडकनें,ऐसी गहराइयाँ, ऐसी तन्हैयाँ,

और मैं … सिर्फ मैं.

अपने होने पर मुझको यकीन आ गया !

After scuba diving our plan was head to the Elephanta beach for water sport activity.

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Boats ply from left of Havelock Island jetty to the elephanta beach. They offered a package costing INR 950 per person that includes motor boat ride and a 10 minute complimentary session of snorkelling. The boats take about 20 minutes to reach Elephanta beach where we have about 3:30-4 hours of time to roam around and have to return back in the same ferry.

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It is better not to expect seeing any elephant here. This beach is usually visited by Indian families. There are a lot of water activities such as snorkel trips, banana boat rides, glass boat rides, etc., because of this beach is usually crowded. The beach has locker facility, some fruit shops, changing rooms and toilets. The beach is picturesque with lot of fallen trees in the background and you can get some excellent photographs.

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We enjoyed wave runner motor sport activities but we did not do snorkeling as we have already done scuba diving it’s like “A drop in the ocean”. We clicked a lot of picture here.

Kalapatthar Beach

The Kalapathar beach is situated on one corner of Havelock Island. The beach gets its name from the surrounding village, which is Kalapathar Village.

I came across this serene place when I was exploring the entire Havelock Island on my rented scooty. It was a long drive and road quality is not good at all. The road was very lonely and hardly we see a single bike or person on the way.  It was about 5 PM, when I had come to the Kalapathar side of the island. The sea opening out on one side and the tall trees by a hill on the other side. The kalapathar (black rocks) that decorate the coastline, silken smooth silver sands and the sheer solitude make this beach a great place to relax. I was very happy that no tourist infrastructure was available here and nature was left as is.

Today we tried few things first time in our life like scuba diving and other sport activities. It was a perfect day for our Honeymoon.

Day 5: Port Blair

The very next day morning, woke up by around 7. It was a humid morning. We walked around the resort and had a quick breakfast by 8 O’clock. Then time comes to leave the resort and ready to travel from Havelock to Port Blair via Green Ocean.

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We reached pot Blair at 2 O’clock in the afternoon and take rest in our hotel. In the evening we roamed Port Blair and found that city is very clean and all the people here follow proper rules. We enjoyed our dinner at “New Lighthouse Restaurant”. A great place for seafood enthusiast, food is great and ambience is OK.

Day-6: Port Blair City Tour

Its last day of our trip. We woke up in late afternoon and start our journey in the evening. We were planned to cover all the major places within port Blair.

Samudrika (Marine Museum)

The museum is filled with specimens and history of Andaman. The museum shows a good collection of shells and corals with good explanations. It’s give us awareness on various aspects of oceanic environment and houses a vast collection of cells, corals and a few species of colorful fishes of the sea around the islands. Very well maintained too.

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Anthropological Museum

The museum is in the city center. The Anthropological Museum is completely focusing on the tribes who lived Andaman. It’s well documented information Museum on Andaman culture and heritage. Maintenance needs to be looked into. Take your time in the museum. It is really worth it.

 Corbyn’s Cove beach

It is very crowded as Corbyn’s Cove beach is just 7 kilometers from the main town. This is a prominent sightseeing place in Port Blair with pleasant and lush green coconut palms. This island has so many beautiful places & beaches so this is okay… not so special. It’s Calm and clean place to spend some quality time with your partner. We had a great lovely time in the evening after spending 5 days in Andaman.

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This was our last evening in Port Blair. Tonight we were planned our Dinner in a resto Bar near Airport. When we returned to our hotel, we were sad. Next morning we were supposed to leave such a beautiful place. We will really miss this place.

 Day-6: Port Blair–Delhi

It was such beautiful trip and such fond memories but every journey must come to an end. We checked out hotel room at 8.30 AM to catch our Indigo flight at 9.50 AM. We were not happy to check-in to the flight even though today is HOLI and we are missing the HOLI celebration but it’s not possible to extend our stay in Andaman.

We said Goodbye to Andaman !!!

Ladakh Road Trip

Posted: February 19, 2018 in Travel
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Our tour included two main destinations, Vaishno Devi and Patnitop. We were close to group of 5 people, reaching Jammu by train in the morning. First we went to Vaishno Devi via Katra. We returned from Vaishno Devi in the next day morning at 8am. After our darshan of Vaishno Devi and Bhaironath we were very tired and even we were not in a position to talk to each other. So we decided to take rest. We took a sleep for 4 hours then we have left for the Patnitop in the afternoon. A trip to a hill station was all that was needed when one wanted a bit of respite from the hasty rush hour and a memorable winter vacation.

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Patnitop Located 120 km from katra on the Jammu – Srinagar Highway (NH1A)and from there Srinagar is about 200 km. Patnitop (2024m) is an important tourist destination and since it is located on the Jammu side of Jammu & Kashmir state it is free of militant activities and can serve as a perfectly safe tourist destination.

Main attraction of patnitop is the top garden, a vast expanse of mountain slopes and tall trees. When snow fall starts in peak winter, the slopes turn in to skiing fields. In December it was fun walking for hours in pure air (although it was a little windy) and natural surroundings.

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Our journey to Patnitop kicked off from Katra at 3pm afternoon through Tavera. We started quite late because we have returned from the Vaishno Devi, same day in the morning. When we left Katra town and came to the highway, by that time we were knowing many things about Katra and Vaishno Devi but we were unknown to Patnitop and Kashmir rout, so we started inquiring about it from our driver and our driver started explaining us nicely. Since we were on the Shrinagar highway, two types of vehicles we saw on that road, tourist vehicles and army’s big vans and truck.

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As we entered the Kashmir the real scenic view started. Now the famous chinar and pine tree could be seen. Our driver was telling us about each and every tree and places.When it was nearly 25 km,we could guess that now we are closer to Patnitop. Now the dense forest of pine and river Chenab could be seen. It was exactly what I had read in the books or seen in the movies. We could not control our self and call the driver stopped the car and we started to take photographs.

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After a short drink break at Kud, we reached Patnitop in about 3 hours. It was already dark and started our search for hotels. Fortunately, we easily found one good budget hotel. This is the advantage of big group that you easily get good discounts. We checked in “Rose valley” hotels, as hotel staff told to us that they are famous for their expensive TV screens 😆 here we met Sanjay- The Service Boy of hotels. After more than 40 hours of train & road journey we reached Patnitop but sadly there was no snow and we were trying to enjoy in hotel room with…but we were lucky to be in Patnitop a day before it received its first snowfall of the season.Early next morning when we woke up all the areas are covered by snowfall and believe me seeing snowfall for the first time is such a fantastic feeling :o. The view from hotel window was definitely an energy booster that gives you the feeling of absolute serenity or the feeling of ‘so much yet nothing’ that you get as you begin to discover this town.

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We all set out to explore Patnitop…surrounding hills were covered with a fresh layer of snow. One such hill was Nathatop our first destination, which not only provide fresh snow but also panoramic view of the snow clad peak of the Himalays. Nathatop, located 14 km from Patnitop, is a hub of adventure activities like paragliding, skiing, sledging and pony rides.

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At Nathatop, We were out in the snow enjoying a snow ball fight :cool:. But it was bad news for adventure sports, the snow was not enough to start sledging. The sledges are nothing but indigenous version of the Calcutta hand pulled rickshaw, where you are pulled along the snow in a wheel less wooden carriage by a fellow human being. The only activity was skiing so we decided to enjoy the skiing. We spend about three hour on Nathatop enjoying the snow as well as the views and last but not least a refreshing cup of hot tea. This entire stretch of the road was covered with snow and made driving extremely difficult.

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This place is really a perfect place to appreciate the beauty of mother earth. It is a very small city with small population and there are not many hotels and resorts. That is why everything looks so natural here without human intervention. At such natural places, one can find very good quotations painted at different places on road about nature and its importance and that is always inspiring. This place was so beautiful that returning to Jammu was a painful process. But I must say that survivals at such places are really challenging and not everyone’ cup of tea.

There is also very famous place called Sanasar Lake 20km from Patnitop but we couldn’t visit it due to time constraints.

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We saw some most famous gardens of Patnitop. Wow! What a nice garden and picnic spot it was, full of flowers and tall straight pine trees. As we entered the gate of the garden we saw stalls of Kashmiri suits, shawls and stoles in the garden and all of us went near the stall and quickly purchased some shawls and we moved around enjoying random sceneries and the apple garden (with no apple at our time of visit!) then we left for the “Naag Temple”, a local temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was a very famous temple, I think all the visitors of Patnitop goes to visit that temple. Here again you have many Handicraft stalls that requested to see “Bulbul Ka Baccha”. Why should we leave those stalls untouched, so we have visited those stalls and saw famous “Bulbul Ka Baccha” 😳 Now we were getting late for Katra because we had our train for Delhi from there at 7pm. We with our packets and smiling faces got into our cars. Now we told the driver to take us to some nice place for lunch because we were hungry and after that we will go straight to the station.

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Finally, all good things have to end 😦 (that too end quickly!!)  We reached at Katra at around 5pm soaked in memories of Patnitop and started shopping at then moved to railway station to board our train for Delhi and from there, back to day to day life.

Indeed the Beatles were successful in putting words to the feelings that one gets in fascinating Rishikesh.  The emerald green water, the equally green hills and the shimmering white sand… I thought only Goa could spur such magic…But I was completely wrong.

“Bungee Jumping! Cliff Jumping! Rock Climbing! Fox Flying! Rappelling!” I could hear these words off and on in the office; in hushed voices most of us were planning on what we were going to try other than white water rafting. Our office trip was scheduled for April 15th, the third weekend of the month and may I say that it is one of the best months to go rafting in Rishikesh, when water temperature is moderate (still cold) and the weather is neither too hot nor too cold; other than that for best rafting experience one can either go in the months of March to May or between October and November.

Oye it’s Friday… Weekend Fun Begins Now!

After finishing office on Friday, we planned on leaving for Rishikesh. Our cab from New Delhi to Rishikesh was scheduled for Haridwar at 11.45 PM.

Rishikesh is an ideal weekend getaway from Delhi the place leaves you completely rejuvenated, and helps you conquer your fears and fulfill all your adventure fantasies. So, the best tip for a Rishikesh tour is to leave on Friday evening, reach Rishikesh on Saturday via Haridwar (Har Ki Paudi), enjoy the rafting and other adventure activities and then return on Sunday. You are guaranteed to start the new week with a fresh mind and lot of enthusiasm.

Journey to Haridwar…

The four-five hours journey to Haridwar left us with little scope for sleep, so we decided on taking pictures, chatting and Playing Antakshari…We managed to get some sleep and being right on schedule we reached Haridwar at 5AM, Cool air had started to cast its spell on us, and we craved for tea and a pair of uppers as well. Haridwar welcomed us with sugary tea and…beckoning a sweet start to a spicy journey!

After bathed at Har ki paudi we feel fresh and more energetic for our adventures destination!

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Rishikesh Calling…

Rishikesh is about 20-25 kms from Haridwar. The dark sky hindered the view, however, and the cool breeze was telling us that we were heading closer to the hills. Our 45 minutes journey was definitely a delight, especially for Yatharth who was sitting on the middle sheet with his…Rohit with his usual cheerful spirit and clown like acts entertained us all through our way.

We ran and cut through the meandering alleys of Rishikesh, which were almost empty at the moment with few small dhabas and restaurants open. The first glimpse of River Ganga stunned us…WOW! Was all I could say… I am certainly not a morning person, but if every morning would allow me to get such a spectacular view, I might just stop sleeping at all…LOL. The emerald green river accompanied by lofty mountains takes its usual walk. The pebbled path, along the river added to its beauty. I finally dared to soak my feet in the water, Gosh! there was nothing that I can compare the feeling with. Just like the Beatles said it…

“I’m just a child of nature, I don’t need much to set me free”

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River Rafting Camp… Sun, Sand and Beach!

The view of the camp from the trail was spectacular, I mean it was something that I hadn’t seen before because most of us, this was our first camping experience. An array of tents on the white sands overlooking the gorgeous green Ganga… now I know, what is BREATHTAKING! The set of stairs were utterly dangerous, however the view and the excitement to reach such a beautiful location made us forget all hassles. So, here we were, stepping on the white sands, walking in the sun, greeted by the other group from Delhi. The camp was beautiful, the location was beautiful and the ambiance was even more beautiful, Paradise Unparalleled!

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Beach Fun … Tan TanTan!

After changing clothes and having a refreshing breakfast, everyone started to splash in to the water… followed by screams… uhhhhhuhuhu…the water was DAMN cold and the sun was merciless. Abhishek was now a Superman Redefined!! Anyways, I don’t want to go into the details of this…let me give you few tips on essentials of camping in Rishikesh…

If you are planning to go to Rishikesh and staying in a camp, here are few things that you must carry, first, a sunscreen (of course if you don’t want to get tanned as you are going to spend an entire day in the sun), sun glasses, portable mobile charger (although, few camps provide these), flashlight and lip balm (as the dry air gives you a lip-crack!)

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Beach, Bonfire and Buddies!

In the evening, The camp was dimly lit with two bonfires, one was for us and the other for another group from Delhi. The other group was drinking, singing and lighting up … what a beautiful view it was!

After changing clothes, we circled around the bonfire, sharing experiences and laughter with…. The night had started to become cold and we could hear the sound of the river. The multitude of stars was shining brightly, a rare sight that we don’t get to see in cities…

After exhausting ourselves in water with body surfing and kayaking, we headed for a sumptuous buffet. There was no greater feeling than sitting under a shed and munching on some delectable Indian cuisine with….while we chatted, played Antakashari and laughed crazily.

At 3 AM, we were finally go for sleep because next day morning we have to go for raf..f…f…f..ting.

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River Rafting… Facing Life

We reached at Marine Drive through our SUV, from where we had to start our 24kms rafting expedition. There are four major stretches for rafting in Rishikesh, Brahmpuri (9kms stretch for family and beginners), Shivpuri (16kms stretch for youngsters), Marine Drive (24kms stretch for daredevils) and Kaudiyala (36kms stretch for experts). Our rafting expedition was from Marine Drive to N.I.M Beach with 4 major rapids (grade III+) namely, Money Maker, Three Blind Mice, Club House and  Roller Coaster.

we all geared up for the final adventure… River Rafting in Rishikesh!!!

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By now, the sun started to go down, with patches of light here and there on the river and mountains. Cold breeze welcomed us on the raft, and everyone was ready with essential rafting gears like helmet, lifeguard and paddle. I on the other hand was given the privilege of only sitting with the rope to control, NO ROWING!  That sounded nice, we started with some gentle rowing, laughter and smiles…The first rapid was a mild one…the best was about to come! I could hear the sound of the second rapid and it seemed dangerous, our guide instructed that we need to row together and faster when we reach the rapid…that was alarming… We finally faced the second rapid that gave us the taste of extreme adventure; the front of the raft dived in to the river, with Amit, Rohit and I literally drinking the water of Ganga with both mouth and nose…BIZZARE! We were out of the rapid and were alive! On the third major rapid the raft completely turned towards the right, I once thought that Amit might fall off, but he survived, he was rowing hard, with his eyes closed, which made me laugh…he was doing everything he could to survive in this particular rapid. By the fourth rapid named Roller Coaster, which was the longest, everyone was a bit tired but DAMN the monster rapid put everyone in an alert position, Abhishek again rowing with closed eyes and Rohit waiting for the tide to come to him, as he didn’t want to row in the air and after all he is the captain of the raft..”Captain Jack Sparrow”…LOL! I felt someone was throwing bucketful of water on me, the warm weather and cold water made for a strange combination. It was at least 10 minutes of fast rowing that pulled us out of the gigantic rapid…the quite water followed with few minor rapids to N.I.M Beach…We had just faced death and lived a life!!

 

The best part is to experience Cliff jumping in between of rafting, cliff-jumping point is towards the end of the rafting route and is also called the “Maggi Point” where we were enjoy tasty Maggie after the faadu.. jump.

 

By the time we finished our rafting adventure, it had got dark. Drenched, tired and cold, now we desperately wanted to return Delhi. We managed to reach Delhi without breaking any of our bones and teeth.

I was in love with Rishikesh, not love at first sight, but love that has grown and multiplied in the course of time, love that may become unconditional someday…