DARJEELING


  1. Destination: Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
  2. Visited on: October 4th 2016 – October 7th 2016
  3. Peak Season: October to March
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – There are trains from Howrah and Sealdah station of Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri. From there, one needs to hire a cab to reach Darjeeling

About: Darjeeling  is noted for its tea industry, the spectacular views of Mount Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our Journey Starts:

 I have returned from Bangalore to Kolkata, my home town for the grand festival “Durga Puja”. Before the puja starts, I planned for Darjeeling this time, with my parents. Train tickets and hotels were booked in advance. We reached Sealdah station on October 3rd 2016 and boarded the train “Darjeeling mail” which departs from Howrah at 22:05. Had home-cooked Luchi and alur dam in train and went to sleep. The journey was very comfortable. Reached New Jalpaiguri next day around 9:00. We hired a taxi from the pre-paid counter to reach Darjeeling for a fee of Rs 1600. Had to pay Rs. 100 extra to take us to the hotel.

We reached Darjeeling after a ride of 3 hours. My mother got fever and fell sick on the way. Apart from that, the journey was smooth. We booked hotel “Dolphin” in advance which is located just next to Governor’s house. The area is not at all crowded, yet located next to a Kanchenjunga view point. Many people decides to stay near the “Mall” (Central hub) and complains saying “ Darjeeling is too crowded”. We checked in. The hotel offers clear view of Mt. Kanchenjunga. However, at that time, the weather was cloudy and no view on offer.dsc_7897

Ordered lunch in our room as my mother was very sick then, yet excited to see Mt Kanchenjunga. After lunch, I went out to see nearby places. The first day passed with a stroll in the Mall. Mall is the central hub of Darjeeling and one can get all sorts of shops there including KFC. In the evening, we went went to a heritage outlet called Keventers in the Mall and tried Darjeeling tea with some snacks. The outlet, offers scenic view of the Himalayan range in the morning (if the weather permits). Glenary’s is again a heritage outlet and offers same kind of stuffs.

I woke up early at 5.30 next morning hoping to witness the sunrise reflection on Mt Kanchenjunga. However, the weather was too cloudy to witness nature’s masterpiece. The weather was cold. Locals busy doing light work-out or busy taking a jog. I strolled around the place. Had tea from the Mall and went back to the hotel. In the evening, went out with my parents to the Mall and had Darjeeling famous Momos and tea.We also bought tea, from one of the renowned store called “The House of Tea”. It is operated by Goodricke co. and located in the Mall. While buying tea, get the “First flush”. First flush tea tastes best and slightly on the expensive side. But, buying a small pack will worth.

Batasia Loop

Batasia Loop

Woke up again next morning to see the sun-rise. The weather again turned me down. We didn’t opt to go Tiger hill to view Mt Kanchenjunga closely, as the weather was foggy. Spent most of my time roaming around the place and enjoying the cool weather with nature. We had our tickets booked for a jolly ride in a toy-train pulled by a steam engine. This is a UNESCO world heritage site. The tickets were expensive for the steam engine ride. Normal engines were also available and are less expensive. However, we choosed the steam engine, as we have never tried anything like that before. The train goes until Ghum via Batasia loop. Batasia Loop is again scenic. The train halts for 15 minutes there. And starts it’s journey to Ghum station. Ghum station has a museum related to Darjeeling trains. One can get down at Ghum and come back to Darjeeling by car. Or else, one can board the same train and come back. While returning, it comes to Darjeeling station directly. If booking a round trip ticket, the code you need to put in the IRCTC.COM website is – “DJ” (From) and “DJRZ” (To). And for a one way ride, put “GHUM” (To). The ride was beautiful. But as per my experience, spending so much on a steam engine doesn’t worth. So one can book a diesel engine ride and take photos with the steam engine. Both moves together, one after another.dsc_8618

View of the valley from the view point located next to our hotel was amazing. I couldn’t witness the sun-rise in this trip. However, I did capture the sunsent reflecton over Mt Kanchenjunga through my bare eyes. Also, made a timelapse video of that view. Walking in the hills was fun.dsc_9042-3

Next day, again woke up early. Missed the sun-rise. But got a clear view of Mt Kanchenjunga from our hotel room and also from the view-point. This is our last day stay in Darjeeling. As my mother was very weak, I planned to go for some known sight-seeing alone. I went to the Mahakal mandir located slightly uphill, early in the morning. The place has it’s own charm.dsc_9209

After that, I walked downhill for 15 mins and reached the Darjeeling zoo. The zoo and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute are in the same place. One can hire a taxi also to reach there, but that could be expensive. I went to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute first. They have a museum built. The museum was fascinating with lots of information on mountains and mountain climbers. I bought a T-shirt, sun-glass and a Cap as souvenir. Then moved to the zoo. The zoo has lots of animals like Royal Bengal tiger, White leopard, Black panther, Red panda, etc. Visiting the museum and to the zoo was worth. The museum and the zoo remains closed on Thursday.dsc_9292

Then again walked further downhill for 15 mins and reached Rangeet Valley Ropeway. The rope-way ride cost approximately Rs. 170 per head for a round trip. Option of one-side trip is not available. The queue to the ride could be very long during season. I got my chance after waiting for 45 minutes. The rope-way journey was beautiful. It’s lush green with tea plants below. In clear weather, one can witness the Himalayan range in front. After a journey of 20 minutes, I reached downhill through rope-way. I had to get down (Mandatory) and need to stand in a queue again to go back to the origin. However, I went down from the rope-way and walked to the left in the left. Got a hint of local life. Also got very close to tea-gardens. Checked how the tea leaves, looks like. Came back after spending some time in the tea garden and stood in a queue.  Took the rope-way and got back to the origin.dsc_9013

As I didn’t booked any car, I had to come back all the way back by walking. This time, it was uphill and took 30 minutes to reach my hotel. After having lunch there, we boarded the same cab and reached New Jalpaiguri station. I called the same driver a day before and asked to be at the hotel to take us back to the railway station. He was on time. While returning, we came through a route called “Rohini”. The route was scenic. The car is taking a sharp turn through the hills. Each turn opening up a new scenery. The entire mountain is lush green because of dense tea garden. You can ask your driver to take the route of Rohini while going. Nothing will be charged extra.

We reached New Jalpaiguri station well in advance. Kept our luggage in a restaurant and waited there. Boarded Darjeeling mail which departs at 6PM. Reached Sealdag station next day morning around 6:30. We booked an Uber cab from the station and reached home. The trip to Darjeeling was beautiful with lush green tea-gardens, beautiful sun-set, cold weather, sky full of stars. Nothing more we can expect…

Note:

  • Smoking is not allowed in public in Darjeeling. Locals may shout at out.
  • The zoo and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute museum remain closed on Thursday
  • One must go for the toy-train ride
  • Don’t miss the rope-way ride also.
  • Hotel prices during season may get double.
  • One may hire a geared or non-geared cycle to roam around Darjeeling from local shops.
  • Try Keventers and Glenarys’ for tea and snacks
  • Buy tea from “The House of Tea” located in the Mall. Get the “First flush” tea if the budget permits
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

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MYSORE (MYSURU)


  1. Destination: Mysore (Mysuru), Karnataka, India
  2. Visited on: January 30th 2016 – February 1st 2016
  3. Peak Season: Can be visited anytime
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – There are number of trains going to Mysore from Bangalore. From there, one needs to hire an auto rickshaw to reach hotel. Also may book an Uber or Ola cab
  • By Bus – Number of buses are available from Bangalore which goes directly to Mysore.

About: Mysore, officially renamed as Mysuru, located at the base of the Chamundi Hills about 146 km southwest of the state capital Bangalore.

Our Journey Starts:

My parents visited Bangalore where I stay currently for work. I planned to take them to Mysore this time. Mysore is very close to Bangalore and takes around 3 hours. We booked train tickets in advance. There are many trains and buses going to Mysore from Bangalore every day. We reached early in the morning in the Majestic station and boarded a train. On reaching Mysore station after a journey of 3 hours, we had to bargain with an auto driver to take us to the hotel MB International. The bargain settled at Rs. 120 approximately.

On reaching hotel, we freshened up a bit and finished our breakfast. After that, we took a short walk to reach St. Philomena’s Cathedral. This is a beautiful yet a very old church maintained properly. The photo of this church is also inscribed on the walls of Mysore palace. From there, I booked an Uber cab to visit Chamundeshwari temple. The cab came and the driver informed, the cab doesn’t go through the hills to Chamundeshwari temple. He asked me to take a Volvo. However, I paid him extra and requested him to take us there. He agreed and we reached Chamundeshwari temple. One can take an auto or a Volvo AC bus from Mysore to reach Chamundeshwari temple. Taking a Volvo bus would be the best option.

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Chamundeshwari Temple

On reaching the temple, we had to buy tickets for approximately Rs. 10 per head to enter into the temple. It is a beautiful temple. Need to be in a queue to enter inside. After visiting the temple, we decided to visit Mysore Zoo. We boarded Volvo bus from the stand next to the temple and reached Mysore zoo. The zoo is located very close to the Mysore palace. This zoo is one of the most popular attraction in Mysore and one can witness mighty African elephant there.

This zoo is huge and takes a long time to visit every corner. One can witness mighty African elephant, Indian elephant, Tiger, Lion, Zebra, Giraffe, Rhinoceros, Turtle, Snakes, etc. For us, it took around 3 hours to visit the zoo. Then we booked another Uber cab and reached Mysore palace. We entered the palace premises after buying tickets. The palace premises is huge and one need to be in a queue to enter the actual palace. The architectural style of domes of the palace is commonly described as Indo-Saracenic and blends Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic styles. The palace has three entrances: the East Gate (the front gate, opened only during the Dasarah and for VIPs), the South Entrance (for public), and the West Entrance (usually opened only during the Dasarah). The sculpture inside the palace is immaculate. The queue moves slowly inside the palace. While moving, one can witness beautiful paintings and sculpture.img_4798-3

The entire palace lit up with lights at night. Witnessed that and came back to hotel. Next day, we planned to visit Brindavan Gardens. I booked a cab for the next day. We woke up early in the morning and went out for Brindavan gardens. On the way, we stopped at Srirangapatna. There is a summer palace of Tipu Sultan. After that, we have seen Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon and Tippu’s death place. Then the hired cab dropped us at Brindavan Gardens around 2 PM.

The Brindavan Gardens is a garden located in the Mandya District of the state of Karnataka, India. It lies adjoining the Krishnarajasagara dam which is built across the river Kaveri. The garden is maintained by the Cauvery Niravari Nigama (Cauvery Irrigation Department), a Government of Karnataka enterprise. It is spread across an area of 60 acres (240,000 m2). Adjoining it is also a fruit orchard spread across 75 acres (300,000 m2) and 2 horticultural farms, Nagavana (30 acres) and Chandravana (5 acres). The garden is laid out in 3 terraces which contain water fountains, Ficus trees, foliage plants such as Duranta plumaria and Euphorbia and flowering plants like Celosia, Marigold and bougainvillea.The garden is open to the public and an entry-fee is charged. We spent around 3 hours there sitting in the lawn and roaming around. There are also accommodation available, if anyone opt to stay inside Brindavan Gardens. But that would be an expensive stay.In Brindavan garden, we took a boat ride also. It’s a speed boat ride for 10 mins

In the evening, “light and sound” show is organized. After watching that show we boarded the hired cab and returned to our hotel. We had an early train next morning. Completed dinner early. In the morning, booked an Ola cab around 5 AM through Ola app. Boarded the train and reached Bangalore around 9AM.

Note:

  • No need to hire cab for sight-seeing in Mysore. Book cab while visiting Brindavan Gardens via Srirangapatna
  • Go inside the Mysore palace during day time and also see the palace when the light is lit in the evening
  • Mysore can be visited any time of the year. But, summer can be hot
  • Bargain while booking cabs
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

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TAJ MAHAL & AGRA FORT – AGRA


  1. Destination: Agra
  2. Time to Visit: Any time.
  3. Suggestion: If possible, visit early in the morning. It could be very crowded later in the day.
  4. Date of travel: 04th March 2015
  5. Note: Entry charges vary vastly between Indians and foreigners
  6. Guide: Refrain from taking local guide if you are bad in bargaining skills. Prefer to take audio guide (available in many language like english, german, spanish etc.) available at the entrance of the monument which costs around Rs.100
  7. Other option: One can buy Taj Mahal entry ticket online to avoid long queue.
  8. Transportation – Number of transport available from Delhi like trains, buses and also conducted tours.

About: The Taj Mahal located on the southern bank of Yamuna River in the Indian city of Agra. It is designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site and also appears in the list of Seven Wonders of the World. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife Mumtaj Mahal.

Trip Planner: Delhi -> Agra -> Haridwar & Rishikesh -> Nainital -> Kausani -> Jim Corbett National Park

CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON TRIP TO DELHI

Our Journey Starts: Anindita’s friend Patrick Mennig from Germany payed a visit to India. Our plan was to show him some of the beautiful places of India. After an extensive planning, Me, Anindita and Patrick are all set to start our journey. The destinations we will cover in this journey are Delhi, Agra, Haridwar and Rishikesh, Nainital, Kausani and Jim Corbett National Park. As Delhi is the centre point for all trips to Uttarakhand, Uttaranchal and other places. After having a successful Delhi trip in day 1, our plan is now visit Agra on day 2 of our trip.IMG_3099 The cab we booked at Delhi for Rs. 1500 came at 3.30AM to receive us. Taj Mahal can be very crowded later in the day. So our plan was to reach early in the morning. It takes around 6 hours to reach Agra via Taj Express. So, we are on our way to Agra. However, the journey turned out to be a very uncomfortable one as the weather was too foggy and chilly. And the car didn’t had a heater. The driver stopped at tolls and we had tea/coffee there. Finally we reached Agra after 6 hours. We pre-booked our Taj Mahal entry tickets from https://www.asi.irctc.co.in/ . The entry charge for an Indian visitor is Rs. 20 and for a foreign visitor, it is Rs. 750. After a heavy security checks, we all entered the main gate. To see Taj Mahal, one has to walk for 2 minutes from the main gate. IMG_3201Once we reached there, we all turned breathless. Whatever we heard since childhood about the beauty of Taj Mahal finally proved true by my eyes. The white marble mausoleum has all the beauty of its class. People from all over the world gathered to witness the beauty. Need not to mention, we had several photo sessions from all possible angles. To get a closer view, we went inside the Taj Mahal. One needs to wear a shoe cover (available there) or need to go bare foot. The actual tomb of Mumtaj Mahal and Shah Jahan is placed there. Taking pictures is prohibited inside. One can witness the Persian calligraphy on the walls of The Taj Mahal. One can also observe, how the English soldiers stolen all the precious stones from the walls by looking at the marks on the wall. The view of the river Yamuna from The Taj Mahal is also marvelous. Later in the day, it became heavily crowded. After spending over 2 hours there, we came out, bought some souvenir from local shops and boarded the cab for our next destination. Our next destination was Agra fort, which was about 2.5 km northwest of famous Taj Mahal. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the end of Shah Jahan’s life, he was deposed there by his son Aurangzeb. It is rumoured that Shah Jahan died in a tower there with a view of the Taj Mahal. The Agra fort is a huge one and Taj Mahal can be seen clearly from there. It has some lovely chambers, the throne Shah Jahan used while ruling is also kept there. The fort has some lovely sculptures to admire. After spending more than an hour, we boarded the cab and came back to Delhi by evening.IMG_3230 We met one of Anindita’s friend at Connaught Place, Delhi. After dinner, we moved to Delhi station (DLI) via metro for our onward journey to Haridwar and Rishikesh. Need to mention, I have never seen a platform so crowded like this before. We boarded train “Mussoorie Express” which departs Delhi station at 22.15 and reaches Haridwar next day at 05.45. Train ticket was also pre-booked. Had a good sleep in the train. Freshened at Haridwar retiring room, which was very clean and we are ready again to explore Haridwar. Agra is a beautiful place. Foreigners from all country diverge there to see the The Taj Mahal. The beauty of the mausoleum was immense and cannot be described in words. Stay tuned for more updates on the remaining trip…

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DELHI – THE CAPITAL CITY OF INDIA


  1. Destination: Delhi
  2. Time to Visit: Any time. But summer could be really hot.
  3. Suggestion: Plenty of accommodation of all budgets are available in Paharganj which is good transit point to stay
  4. Date of travel: 03rd March 2015
  5. Note: Entry charges vary vastly between Indians and foreigners
  6. Guide: Refrain from taking local guide if you are bad in bargaining skills. Prefer to take audio guide available at the entrance of all monuments
  7. Other options: One can travel in Delhi by metro also but can be too crowded during peak hours.

About: Delhi is the capital city of India. The area around Delhi was probably inhabited before the second millennium BC, and there is evidence of continuous inhabitation since at least the 6th century BC and it is often pronounced as “Dilli”

Trip Planner: Delhi -> Agra -> Haridwar & Rishikesh -> Nainital -> Kausani -> Jim Corbett National Park

CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON TRIP TO AGRA

Our Journey Starts: Anindita’s friend Patrick Mennig from Germany payed a visit to India. Our plan was to show him some of the beautiful places of India. After an extensive planning, Me, Anindita and Patrick are all set to start our journey. The destinations we will cover in this journey are Delhi, Agra, Haridwar and Rishikesh, Nainital, Kausani and Jim Corbett National Park. As Delhi is the centre point for all trips to Uttarakhand, Uttaranchal and other places, we travelled by flight (Indigo) to reach Delhi from Bangalore. Reached Delhi at 9.30AM, whereas the scheduled time was 8.40AM.The flight got delayed due to bad weather. As we were in tight schedule, to save time, we finished breakfast in flight. We pre-booked our accommodation in “Hotel Amax Inn” at Paharganj Delhi.

The cab driver from the hotel came for a pick-up. On meeting the driver, without going straight to the hotel, we started our tour on Delhi sight-seeing. The plan was after seeing all the places, we will move in to the hotel in evening. The entire sight-seeing in Delhi cost us Rs. 1700 in a Indica. The driver took us straight to the “Qutub Minar” from the airport. It is the 2nd tallest monument of India which stands 100 Qutub Minarmeters tall. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site. After spending over an hour there, we moved to the next spot, which is, The Lotus temple (Picture on top) . It is notable for its lotus flower like structure. It is also known as “Bahai Temple”. Anyone can go inside irrespective of religion and caste and the inside is nicely decorated and also a lovely place for the people prefer to meditate. After spending almost an hour there, we are on our way for the next spot. The next place we visited is “The Humayun’s tomb”. The entry fee is Rs. 10 only. Online tickets can also be booked here: https://asi.irctc.co.in/home/humayuns_tomb to avoid queue. The best thing about this place is, it looks very small and unattractive from outside. But, if one goes inside, the size of the construction increases gradually. After crossing two gates is the actual Humayun’s tomb which is huge and beautiful. We went inside the tomb and it was charming. It’s definitely a must visit in Delhi. My friends took an audio guide there by paying Rs. 50 each. I really liked the audio guide concept. It is like a tape recorder attached with a headphone which will be hanging around your neck and works on GPS. It will tell all the history and interesting facts about the monument as you move ahead gradually.Humayun's Tomb Our next visit was “The India Gate”, originally called “All India War Memorial” is a war memorial astride the “Rajpath” (Kingsway) of 82,000 soldiers of the undivided British Indian Army who died in the period 1914-1921 in the First World War. All the soldiers name lost their lives are written on the gate. Republic day parade is held here on 26th January. This is quite a busy place and vendors all around selling food, ornaments etc. Foreigners can try painting their hand with temporary tattoo called “Mehandi”.India Gate Then we visited “Gandhi Ghat” (Raj Ghat) which is a memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. One needs to go there in bare feet. Though proper arrangements are there to keep your shoes.Gandhi Ghat As we were running late and due to time constraint, we had to skip Indira Gandhi Museum. So after Gandhi Ghat, we moved straight to the “Red Fort”. The Red Fort was the residence of the Mughal emperor for nearly 200 years. The Red fort was constructed by the emperor Shah Jahan. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is an iconic symbol of India as on the Independence Day, the prime minister hoists the national flag of India at the main gate of the fort. The inside of the fort is really huge and takes at least one hour. The fort looks completely red as it is made up of red sand stone.Red Fort Red fort was the last in our itinerary for sight-seeing. The next place we visited is “Parathe wale gali” a narrow lane in “Chandni Chawk”. “Chandni Chawk” lies just opposite to the Red fort. After crossing the street, the heavily busy road is the “Chandni Chawk”. One can get almost anything he needs and in a really cheap price. On asking some local people, we found the famous “Parathe wale gali” and ready to have some “Parathas” This places was in our list after seeing many videos in You tube. This place is really famous and there are many photos of Bollywood stars having food there. The name of the shop is “Parathewala”. One can have parathe of any sort. You name it, they got it. Some I can remember from the menu are – Parathe of nimbu (lemon), chili, methi, alu (potato), pudina (mint), gobi (cabbage), paneer, etc The parking area is in a distance of 3 km from Chandni Chawk. We three hired a rickshaw (man pulling vehicle) and reached the parking area by paying only Rs. 30. Then boarding the same cab, we reached the hotel “Hotel Amax Inn’ around 8.30PM which we had pre-booked after seeing may good reviews in “Trip advisor”. However, it turned out to be an average hotel.

Qutub Minar (Close view)

This area offers plenty of food options to cater your needs. Need not to say, foreigners almost outnumber Indians here. We booked the same cab to visit Agra the next day to see the one of the Seven Wonders of the World – “The Taj Mahal”. The cab came at the door-step to take us to Agra next day at 3.30AM. Taj Mahal can be very crowded during later in the day. So our plan was to reach early in the morning. It takes around 6 hours to reach Agra via Taj Express. Delhi is an amazing place and we enjoyed a lot. Patrick who came from Germany enjoyed too. Found Delhi to be very cheap in compare to Bangalore. One thing I must mention, Delhi girls are really beautiful. LOL… If you are staying at Delhi for another day, definitely visit “Akshardham”. Stay tuned for more updates on the remaining trip…

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SOLO TRIP TO BIDAR


  1. Destination: Bidar, Karnataka, India
  2. Time to Visit: Anytime
  3. Visited during: Christmas 2014
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – Number of trains from Hyderabad. From Bangalore, Yeswantpur – Bidar Express at 19.15PM
  • By Bus – KSRTC operates daily bus to Bidar from Bangalore and Hyderabad.
  • By Car – A one day family trip can easily be done with a car from Hyderabad

About: Bidar is the northernmost city of Karnataka and hence is known as the Crown Of Karnataka. It became historically significant when Bahamani sultan Ahmad Shah relocated the capital of his kingdom to Bidar in 1422, and used the prevailing Persian style to construct the palace and design the urban morphology of Bidar. Bidar is now a UNESCO world heritage site.

The Journey Starts:

My first ever solo trip. Booked train ticket for 25th December’14 in Yeswantpur – Bidar express which departs Bangalore at 19.15PM. Got food for dinner from the station. The train departed the station on time. But, the train was moving quite sluggishly as the entire route has a single railway track only. So, our train was waiting for another train coming from the opposite side to reach the current station. Once it reaches, our train used to start traveling that same railway track to reach the next station. This same procedure followed throughout the way.

Chaubara (Watch Tower)

Chaubara (Watch Tower)

Reached Bidar next day 15 minutes late at 9.45am. Bidar is a small place and people around are really helpful without any motive to cheat. Took an auto to reach the first location called Chaubara (Watch tower). It took only 5 minutes to reach there and the auto driver charged only Rs. 30. Chaubara is a tall tower, facing in four directions. The clock of the watch tower was not showing correct time. All four clocks in four directions displaying four different times. But the monument was beautiful.

From there, took a walk for 3 minutes to reach my next destination “Madrasa of Mahmud Gawan”. The

Madrasah of Mohammad Gawwan

Madrasah of Mohammad Gawwan

Madarasa was founded by Khwaja Mahmud Gawan, functioned like a residential University. Now only the remains of university is standing tall. Birds flight patrolling the Madrasa from top. Bright green parrots can also be seen there. The gate was locked from inside. On asking the security guard, he opened the gate and acted as a guide for me and explained all the historical importance of that place. Tipped him at the end. The best part of Bidar is, people are not as greedy as city people. A small amount can make them happy.

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Solah Khamba Mosque

From there, need to walk straight for another 10 minutes to reach the next destination “Bidar Fort”. On the way, had breakfast from a roadside stall. “Puri-sabji” was nicely prepared. Bidar fort is one of the special attraction of Bidar and takes approximately an hour to see around within the fort. The gate of the fort is huge with spikes in it. The view of the fort is majestic. After crossing 3 gates within the fort, reached near the museum. Museum is now closed for tourists. Other places in the fort were also locked. Asked the people around to show the places which all are under lock and key. They happily escorted me to all the corners of the fort and acted as a guide. While facing towards the fort lawn, “Solah khamba” mosque lies on the right with 16 pillars. Just next to it is the Tarkish Mahal.

Entered inside the Tarkish mahal. The view was nice from the roof top. Seen few underground passage there. “Diwan-e-aam” and “Diwan-e-khaas” are just adjacent to this mahal. Later moved to “Rangeen mahal”. Sculptures are splendid all around. Few marbles are highly colorful. The guide said, there are few glasses which can emit 22 colours if seen from different angles. One can get the view of the entire fort from the roof of Rangeen mahal. One can take tea/coffee from the canteen located just outside the Rangeen mahal.

Then moved out of the fort and took an auto to reach “Paap-naash temple”. The auto driver asked Rs. 80 at first and then agreed to Rs. 40

Paapnash temple

Paapnash temple

after a slight bargain. This is the only place in Bidar where I was required to bargain. No matter wherever you go, the auto charge should range from Rs. 30 – Rs. 40. It took 5 minutes to reach the temple. There is a small lake adjacent to the temple. On spending not much of a time there, again booked an auto paying Rs.30 to reach Barid Shahi tomb.

Barid Shahi Tomb

Barid Shahi Tomb

On reaching Barid Shahi tomb, got to know that the gate opens for tourists at 4pm. Though couldn’t enter, but didn’t miss the opportunity to take photographs from outside. The security guards also cooperated and allowed me to enter a small distance to get a better capture of those gorgeous tombs through my lens. It has also a park inside where children can spend quality time with their family.

Then moved to “Nanak Jhira Sahib Gurudwara” which is quite near to Barid Shahi tomb. Do

Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib

Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib

remember to carry shawls/dupatta for women and handkerchief/cap for men to cover the hair which is mandatory to enter the Gurudwara. In case you forget you can always get them at the entrance of Gurudwara. Kept my bag and shoes in specific counters. Paid Rs. 20 to get nice Halwas which was loaded with ghee. Then went inside the gurdwara for a short prayer. There are provisions of accommodation starting from Rs. 100 to Rs. 500 with all basic and luxury amenities. For bookings, you need to visit there and book manually. There are more than 500 rooms, still hard to get as most of the rooms remain full because of low price and excellent service.

After a short prayer, reached a place where they were offering free lunch. Had lunch there only. Chappati, rice, daal (pulses), sabji (vegetables) and kheer (dessert) were really awesome. And finally sat under a shady tree with a glass of tea. There is also a pool for a holy dip. One opting to have food outside can visit Rohit restaurant near the bus stand. There are many other restaurants also around the place.

Baridi Tomb

Baridi Tomb

Then visited “Baridi Tomb” situated near the bus stand. It has two tombs in an open field . Finally booked an auto again for Rs. 40 to reach Chaubara (watch tower). Bidar is famous for Bidri art and Chaubara is the place to buy these goods. All items were made in this area only. So if you want to buy some nice and cheap Bidri art, get it from Chaubara only. Other place might charge you more.

Thr Bidri pieces starts from Rs. 100 and the prices goes up as the size and the design density

Bidri Art

Bidri Art

increases. I got a souvenir from there. Don’t forget to bargain a bit while buying Bidri art. Later, took an auto from the main road for Rs. 15 to reach the railway station as it was a single day outing for me in Bidar. One day is enough for tourists to excavate Bidar. Reached station by 3.30 PM. Freshened-up at the station. Packed food for dinner from a Punjabi restaurant located on the first floor at the main road crossing near the station. Food was really nice and less expensive. Forgot the name of the restaurant, but one can easily find out as it is in a prominent location.

The train Bidar-Yeswantpur express started the journey at 6.10pm from Bidar and reached Bangalore next morning at 8.45am.

This was a short, memorable, first-ever solo trip for me. Never got bored at any given time. Bidar’s beautiful sculpture and passion to travel gave explicit entertainment, pleasure and satisfaction.

Things To Remember:

  • Places to visit – (1) Chaubara [Watch tower], (2) Madrasa of Mahmud Gawan, (3) Bidar Fort, (4) Tarkish Mahal, Solah Khamba mosque and Rangeen Mahal [Inside Bidar fort], (4) Paapnash temple, (5) Barid Shahi Tomb, (6) Nanak Jhira Sahib Gurudwara, (7) Baridi Tomb, and (8) Chaubara [Again to buy Bidri art].
  • Ask to shown around the locked areas in Bidar fort & Madrasa of Mahmud Gawan and tip them at the end
  • Carry cloth/handkerchief/cap to cover head while entering Gurudawara
  • May take free lunch at Gurudwara
  • Barid Shahi tomb opens at 4PM
  • Do buy some famous Bidriware (starting from Rs. 100) from Chaubara only.
  • Auto fare will never exceed Rs. 40 no matter wherever you go in Bidar

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TREK TO RAYAKOTTAI FORT


  1. Trek Destination: Rayakottai
  2. Visited on: 24th August 2014
  3. Difficulty: Easy
  4. Trek Distance/Time Taken: 90 minutes (One way)
  5. Time to Visit: The cooler months of September to February are the best time to trek in Rayakottai as it can get very hot in summer days, and should be avoided. This trek can be done during monsoon also.
  6. How To Reach: The best way to reach Rayakottai from Bangalore is by train from Bangalore City Junction (Majestic).
  7. Other Options: There is a temple on the hill which could be a point for having packet-lunch and to take rest in shade.
  8. About: The fort of Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali ruled in the 18th Century is situated within the town of Rayakottai which is one of the ancient fortress in the Krishnagiri district. It is now one of the protected monument by the Archeological Survey of India
  9. Estimated Cost: Rs. 100 – Rs. 200 Per Head
  10. Packed Bag with –
  • 2 litres of water (Mandatory)
  • Raincoat/Poncho (During monsoon)
  • Cap/Hat
  • High energy-giving food & drinks  like Snickers, glucose etc. (Mandatory)
  • Camera (optional)
  • Shoe
  • Sunscreen Lotion (Optional)
  • Tissue papers (Avoid carrying plastic)

The Journey Starts:

My second trek with BTC. This time with 15 members. We met at Bangalore City Junction (Majestic) at 6.45AM. That time, I only found Deepthy and Ashwin ( Organizing trek for the first time) standing. Gradually all people started to come. We all boarded a non-reservation train “Bangalore-Karaikal Passenger” which was scheduled to leave at 7.15AM. All of them arrived except Nisha, and the train has just started moving from the station. Suddenly saw “Nisha” running all the way to board the train. It reminded me of the movie “DDLJ”, though there was no “Shahrukh Khan” here. She managed to board the train of her own. Brave girl. The journey was fun discussing on almost every possible topic on earth.

4After quite a long journey, reached Rayakottai station at 9.45AM (Train was late by 30 minutes). We then switched platform, had a small introduction session and then started our journey towards Rayakottai town. Once we reached there after a walk of 10 minutes taking right from the station main road, we had a nice breakfast with Poha, Plain Dosa and Tea in a moderate hotel. After having a good breakfast, we started to move towards the trek-base. It was a hot and sunny day in the month of August. Some bought extra bottles of water and cucumber on the way.

We reached the base after a walk of 10 minutes from the town. We started to climb. It has stairs made out of stones in the

SHIVA TEMPLE

SHIVA TEMPLE

beginning. Then the actual trail starts. Deepthy was leading from the front and Ashwin was Sweeping from the back. After climbing some distance, we found an intersection, one way going to the left and another one to the right. We took the left trail first and reached a temple. The place is cool and shady. It is a departed Shiva temple. After capturing some breath-taking photos, we then again came back at the point of intersection. This time, we took the path going to the right. Being an easy trek, you will move to the top without much struggle. Once at the top, explore the ruins of Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali’s fort. From there you can still climb further till the top-most point of the hill. View is lovely from this spot. I took a video in 360 degree view. It was not quite windy though at such a height.

In the mean time, all were quite tired and hungry. We had packed lunch of “Lemon Rice” taken earlier from the hotel where we had 1lunch. Now we climbed down and went back to the same old temple. We relaxed a bit there and had a good lunch. After lunch, some took a quick nap. I am very jealous about this, as I cannot sleep easily anywhere and anytime. I was all awake and spent the time doing macro photography.

We started to climb down to the base at 2.30PM and reached base by 3.00PM. It should not take more than an hour to reach base from the top-most point. We were very thirsty after a trek in the scorching sun. All finished their bottled water and started fantasizing lemonade and other cooling stuffs. We finally went to a small lemonade shop and quenched our thirsts.

Then we reached Rayakottai station to take train for Bangalore. At the 3station entrance, lots of vendors were selling vegetables in a low price. Some of our smart people got busy in buying vegetables. We were about to board “Karaikal-Bangalore Passenger” for Bangalore which was scheduled at 4.07PM. But again the train was late by approximately 30 minutes. While waiting for the train at the station, it started to rain heavily. Gourav took out a Poncho for himself, which he accurately didn’t knew what exactly was that as it was huge plastic coat which can be worn by two people together. Ankit put a bag-cover to protect his bag from the rain, however he himself was dancing in the rain without a rain-coat or an umbrella, and enjoyed the most in the rain.

Finally the train came around 4.40PM. We rushed in once the train stopped and was expected, didn’t find any available seats to seat. Got seats after half an hour though. Deepthy and Ankit did well to cut Guava and distribute among us in the crowded compartment.

Finally we reached majestic (Bangalore) at 7.10PM . It was a lovely trekking experience.

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BOULDERING AT HAMPI


  1. Destination: Hampi
  2. Time to Visit: Any time. But summer could be really hot.
  3. Suggestion: While taking accommodation, don’t cross the river.
  4. Note: Foods are costly and need to buy drinking water even in hotels
  5. How To Reach:
  • By Air – The nearest airport is at Hubli, 143km away from Hampi. Kingfisher Airlines used to fly from Mumbai and Bangalore.
  • By Train – The nearest railway station is Hospet Junction, 13 Km away from Hampi. Overnight trains run several times a week from Bangalore Hyderabad and Goa. One can take Hampi Express from Bangalore City Junction at 22:00 which will reach Hospet next day at 07:50.
  • By Bus – KSRTC operates daily bus to Hospet from Bangalore. From Hospet you can go to Hampi on a local bus for Rs.25.  Book your tickets in advance if you want a coach or an air-con service, because the number of travelers is large (given that the place is very famous with foreigners) and the frequency of buses is less.

About: Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagar, a 14th century empire. The ruins of this imperial capital are spread out over an area of 26km. Before the fall of Vijayanagar, diamonds were sold on the streets, but the main street selling diamonds and other precious stones was surprisingly called Pan Supaari Street (translated in English, it means betel-leaf betel-nut street). A visitor can still see the exact location of Pan Supaari Street in Hampi, which has been marked with a board by the Archaeological Survey of India. Hampi is well worth the visit. The area is simply stunning and you will be in awe of the millions of boulders surrounding the area. Within this arid landscape lies a little oasis with lush palm, banana, and mango trees nestled near the river. Hampi is a great place to spend a few days wandering around and discovering the rich, vibrant history while also having a bit of ‘your’ time. Hampi hosts Hampi Utsav every year during first week of November. It is a visual delight as all the monuments/ruins are lit at night and it is a cultural extravaganza of dance and music. 2010 marked 500 years since the Vijayanagar king Sri Krishnadevaraya ascended to the throne. Our Journey Starts: Me and my friend Niloy planned to go to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hampi. We booked our tickets in KSRTC Volvo (Airavat) well in advance. The bus started at 9.15 PM from Majestic. While waiting for the bus to depart, I decided to smoke. For smoking, I have to pay a fine of Rs. 200 there. What a start to the journey. So refrain from smoking at least in Majestic. After a comfortable nice journey, we reached Hospet the next day morning at 6AM. We freshened up in bus terminus washroom and took another bus to Hampi. The fare was Rs. 25. If you are taking an auto from Hospet, don’t forget to bargain. It took exactly 45 minutes to reach Hampi from Hospet. You can clearly make out once it reaches Hampi by seeing temples all around. Some are ruins, some are in good shape. After reaching Hampi, we started look for hotels. Few brokers tried to barge in. But without paying any heed to them, we started to look for accommodation of our own. There are plenty of ???????????????????????????????accommodations, and all are equally good. Don’t expect duper deluxe hotel there. There is a river in the town. One can take accommodation on both sides of the river. Most of the guest houses are on other side of the river (area called Virupapur Gadde). To access them, you need to cross river by Motor boat (Rs. 10 for locals, Rs. 15 for tourists, boat runs until 18:00. If you cannot get on the boat, you have to pay auto Rs. 500-600 to take you other side via Hospet-Hugili- Hanumanhalli, which is a 40km tour. During moderate/high rains, the gates of Tungbhadra dam are opened which increases the water level and water flow in the river. In that case, you might get stranded on the other side of the river (Virupapur Gadde area). Alcohol is allowed on the other side of the river and not on the side of the temples. So think before you decide. My suggestion would be while taking accommodation, don’t cross the river. We managed a hotel in a very cheap rate of Rs. 400 per day as it was an off-season then. After finishing breakfast, we moved out of the hotel and our journey in archaeological site begins. The first temple you will find to visit is Viruprakasha Temple. It is quite a big one. There is an

VIRUPRAKASHA TEMPLE

VIRUPRAKASHA TEMPLE

elephant inside. The elephant give blessing with his trunk on paying Rs.10. There is a travel desk inside the temple run by Govt. Get a travel map from them if you don’t have one as it is very useful while going different places in Hampi. After seeing the temple, come out and take the long straight road. On both side of the street, you will be able to the ruins of Paan-Supari bazaar. Once this bazaar ends, there is monolithic bull in front of the hill. You can trek to the hill-top. While trekking, you will find ancient markings on the stone which depicts war and other stories of that time. Then come down from the hill and take a right just after a curio shop. There is a nice temple on

ACHUTARAYA TEMPLE RUIN FROM HILL TOP

ACHUTARAYA TEMPLE RUIN FROM HILL TOP

the Tungabhadra River. There are lots of boulders too. You can do bouldering and move ahead, you will find may small temple ruins, small caves and stone engraved with images of gods and goddesses. You can also take Coracle ride there. On the same day, after visiting these places, come to the river near Virupaksha temple and enjoy sunset.Take rest and don’t forget to have food in Mango Tree (A renowned restaurant with a brilliant ambience). Wake up next day early in the morning if you wish to see sun rise. Climb the right mountain from

SUN-RISE FROM HILL TOP

SUN-RISE FROM HILL TOP

the monolithic bull (mentioned earlier). At top, climbing may be difficult. Take precaution. Once you reach the top, a magnificent view of sun rise along with temple ruins between the hills can be observed. From the top, a great view of ruins of Achutaraya temple can be seen. Once it is done, come back, have breakfast and hire a car or a bike to travel other places of Hampi. Bike is the most easy and cheap way of convenience. Bike here means basic Moped which will charge you Rs.250 for entire day. Fuel extra. 2 litres of petrol is enough to excavate Hampi. We took a Moped the next day. Gear and break alignment are completely opposite in compare to other bikes, I first started the bike and my friend Niloy sat on it. On starting, I couldn’t keep

MOPED

MOPED

balance and we both fell from the bike. Luckily no one got hurt except minor scratches. I thought it’s a problem with me. However, I have seen other people are struggling too in the beginning. After driving for sometime, you will get used to it. Visit Zenena Enclosure and Royal Enclosure with bike/car. These two enclosures are like two sectors, in which you will find many temple and temple ruins. These two enclosures are very closely situated. The distance of these enclosures from Hampi is around 5KM.On visiting these enclosures; you will cover almost entire Hampi. You can get to see King’s Balance, Two stoned Gateway, Underground Shiva Temple, Band Tower, Hazara Rama Temple, Elephant Stables, and many more. One the way back see Krishna temple. Don’t miss out on seeing Vittala Temple. There is a huge stone chariot inside which used to run long time back. At night, the temple ruins are lighted with halogens from outside. It gives a beautiful view. Only the temple ruin is standing among all darkness. To be honest, I got tired at the end of the day after seeing so many temples. But to be honest again, all the temples have fine sculpture which I can’t stop myself from admiring.

WATCH TOWER IN A FORT

WATCH TOWER IN A FORT

Come back and take bus at night from Hampi to reach Hospet. You can have dinner in Hospet or in Hampi. From Hospet, you can get bus to Bangalore and Mysore. Keep your tickets booked in advance. I got fever while coming back. After coming back to Hospet, bought few medicines for fever, soared throat and running nose. Took all the medicines together and lied down in AC sleeper coach. However, on boarding the bus, the conductor announced the AC is not working and they will refund the AC charges. We got worried, how to travel an entire night in a closed shell. But, they kept the blower on. Actually, we didn’t have to suffer for that. Later at night, I used blanket to sleep though there was no fever at that time. In the end, journey was comfortable. We had a nice time in Hampi. I thanked my friend Niloy for planning such a beautiful trip, as planning to come Hampi was completely his idea, I just joined. It is quite a unique place. I have been to so many places, but nothing like this. All temple ruins…so close to history…All the time we read in books about these,. Now here I got a chance to actually see it through my own eyes. Never miss an opportunity if you ever get an opportunity to visit Hampi…And at least stay for a night to cover entire Hampi. Hampi will never betray your expectations…

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