Begin your journey with “Untraveled Routes”

‘Because all journeys have secret destinations of which traveler is unaware’- Buber

Journeys are meant to stay with you forever; to inspire, to discover, to enlighten and set free; they make memories and give you moments to relish for life. Travel is not limited to the places you visit but the experiences you create, lives you touch and the depth you discover.

Your travel experience is unique because it’s yours 🙂

We are Ashish and Charu and our philosophy is ‘Life is about what you make of it’. Make every second count as the time won’t last but your life well led will !!!

We have been traveling and exploring the world around us from every perspective that helps us understand it better. We love everything about travel, photography, music, adventure, culture and much more. Our focus is to highlight the travel treasures in India with fresh perspective.

So, you will find loads of assorted personal travel stories here focusing on diverse elements. And if you wish to know more about us do hit the ‘Our Journey‘ section.

Untraveled Routes signifies our avant-garde ideas, discoveries, experiences creating every travel and crafting a life at large an odyssey to remember!!!

Let your journey roll with Untraveled Routes 🙂
 
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Categories: Discovery, Inspiration, Journey, Travel | Tags: , , , | 91 Comments

Of Windows and Travel!

This week’s WPC theme is – Windows!!

I have been reminiscing about this for a long time and was about to do a post. So, I’m glad that it is the theme for the week 🙂 where I can share my pictures reflecting the world through windows, the world that keeps changing. The only constant in these pictures is the ‘Window’ 🙂

The first picture here was shot in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The beautiful city is a visual treat with it’s shimmering lakes against the backdrop of Aravali Hills, formidable palaces showcasing heritage and enticing structures with distinctive artwork. I believe my regular readers would also remember a post I recently did on the city.

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The Pink Evening at Sangla!

The second one captures the essence of ‘Sangla’, a quaint town located in Kinnaur in Himachal region of India. The sky that evening turned pink and looked beyond beautiful. This shot captures the calm mountains overlooking apple orchards.

Glimpse of Sangla

We covered ‘Sangla’ on our 11 days road trip to Spiti Valley, Read – An epic road trip to Spiti Valley , the Land of Lamas in India’

Feel the Royalty at Jaisalmer!

View from Window

This is a capture of the ‘Jaisalmer Fort’ from a restaurant’s dining area. We stayed here for two days and I would recommend to definitely cover Jaisalmer if you’re are exploring Rajasthan.

Jaisalmer is popularly known as the The Golden City, situated amidst Thar Desert, close to Pakistan border; over powered by the Jaisalmer Fort (Sonar Quila) the city with glorious past offers an action packed experience to travelers. Not just the architecture, the whole city oozes different feel tiny gallis (narrow lanes), all the houses constructed from golden bricks, puppet shows and people singing folk songs at all the unexpected locations, its awesome !!!

The Morning at Dal Lake!

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Dal Lake is fondly known as Srinagar’s jewel. Dal Lake is the second largest lake in the state; it is a major tourist attraction as well as source for commercial activities such as fishing and water plant harvesting.

Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir has always sustained the limelight mostly for infamous reasons. Srinagar, truly is paradise and treat for your soul. You can actually plan long vacation to Srinagar and surrounding areas.

For more pictures of Dal Lake read – Hues of Dal Lake

Windows – What do you see through yours?

‘I see beautiful surroundings, that create magic

lit up my eyes

and make me smile!!

Happy Exploring!!

Categories: Discovery, Experience, Family Travel, India, Offbeat Travel, Road Trip, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 53 Comments

Special Feature – The Portraits

Portrait Photography is one of my favorite forms, it has so much potential for experimentation and the way it adds personality to a picture is just incredible. I’m glad to share some of the charmingly endearing ‘Portraits’ from the family 🙂

Beginning with the newest, dearest and cutest !

 

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It seems like yesterday, we were blessed with ‘Aayaansh’, at that moment we never knew what we will we call him or what kind of bond he’ll share with us, we were spellbound when we first saw him and from that moment to this we have been falling in love with our little Love every single day 🙂 It’s indescribable!!

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These innocent sparkling eyes is all I need to begin my day 🙂

Potriat - Charu Continue reading

Categories: Experience, Family Travel, Inspiration, Photography, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandra – Where Akbar rests in Eternal Peace!

Akbar’s Tomb is nestled since time immemorial in Sikandra, Agra. The architectural wonder evokes awe and reverence alike. Akbar’s tomb is an impressive illustration of the art, inspiring in many ways than one – the architecture, design, exquisite inlay work, crafted ceilings and walls decorated with calligraphy, placed beautifully in the huge expanse of 119 acres.

Akbar was buried at Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandra in the mausoleum that was commenced by him while he was alive, and after his death finished by his son and successor, Jahangir in 1613 AD.

The story of history of Agra and it’s connection to Mughal Empire in India is incredibly gripping……Let’s rediscover together.

The ancient city (Agra) is referred to as ‘Agraban’ in Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India; And the other one identified as modern city, which was founded in 1558 AD.

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The main entrance to Akbar’s Tomb in Sikandra. The Architecture is awe-inspiring, it left me wondering in that era such amazing work of art and architecture was created by humans! It’s impossible to replicate or even make something remotely similar reflecting this epitome of beauty and strength.

The Name – Sikandra!

Sultan Sikandar Lodi rebuilt Agra in 1505 AD and made it the seat of the Government. A few miles from Agra there is a village named after Sultan – Sikandra! Ibrahim Lodi, son of Sikandar Lodi, was defeated and slain by Babar at the ‘Battle of Panipat’, near Delhi, in 1526 AD. And thus began the reign of the Mughal Empire that lasted till 18th century (until the time India was gripped by British Raj).

The Era of Akbar the Great

Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor, was born on 15 October, 1542 to Humayun and Hamida Begum at Umerkot in Sindh (now part of Pakistan). Akbar-e-Azam (Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar) was enthroned as emperor at a tender age of 13 on February 14, 1556. He succeeded Humayun and proved to be one of the greatest rulers of the Mughal dynasty in India. Under Akbar’s reign which lasted from 11 February, 1556 to 27 October, 1605 for 49 years, the Mughal Empire tripled in wealth and influence.

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Akbar, is admired for lot of things, for instance Akbar could neither read nor write but that did not stop him from having a great library of over 24,000 volumes spanning across Hindi, Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Greek, Latin and Arabic and every book was read through to him from beginning to end. Akbar had remarkably open-minded attitude and invited several missions of Jesuit priests to his court, to learn more about Christian faith and to debate with representatives of Islam and other faiths. Akbar believed that all humankind constitutes a single brotherhood, created by the same God, and fundamentally equal before Him.

A detailed and minute account of Akbar’s life is captured in ‘Akbar-nama’, written by Akbar’s devoted friend Abul Fazl.

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Akbar’s cenotaph inside the mausoleum

 

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The Circumferential Gallery that surrounds the Tomb, observe the geometric impressions on ceiling and the perfection in architecture is so evident

Akbar 8 Continue reading

Categories: Akbar, Art and Culture, Experience, Heritage, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

The Art of Marble Inlay

Art is that powerful form of expression that knows no boundaries, no geographies and no limitations!!

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The Art of ‘Marble Inlay’ originates from the Mughal Inlay Art and blossomed beautifully in the age of Mughal Empire. The Marble Inlay Art is indigenously identified as ‘Pachchikari’ or ‘Parchinkari’. It implies the delicate and exquisite process where marble is inlaid with designs in precious or semi-precious stonework. This form of Art is peculiar and one will find it only in Agra and parts of Rajasthan in India. The skilled workers (‘Karigars’) carve incredible designs with their hands and it takes months to complete a piece, and in the process the Karigars survive injuries to the fingers. There is huge demand for the end products in foreign markets and the range of the sale price depends from piece to piece.

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This one needs no introduction 🙂 The Miniature Taj Mahal looks so impressive.

The Origin

The Monuments of Agra showcase the different development stages of Mughal Inlay Art in a progressive sequence spanning from 16th to 17th century as practiced under Akbar (r. 1556-1605), Jahangir (r. 1605-1627), and Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). However the Marble Inlay Art evolved and progressed during the reign of Jahangir, the application of same can be seen in the monuments that were completed in the period of his reign.

The Inspiration

It is believed that the inspiration for this form of art was drawn from the distinctive monuments of Mandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh. Mausoleum in the Ashrafi Mahal and the Tower of Victory in Mandu are the earliest examples of inlaying with rare stones in Mandu and their construction dates back to first half of the fifteenth century though the Asharfi Mahal is in total ruins today.

Jahangir had interests for fine arts and cultural activities. Jahangir encouraged and promoted ‘Marble Inlay’ art and its application can be seen in Jahangiri Mahal to Akbar’s Tomb and then in Tomb of Salim Chisti and Itmad-ud-Daulah’s tomb in Agra.

Today, Marble Inlay art is integral part of Agra’s heritage and its presence can be widely observed in the forms of Tabletops, Lamps, Miniature Elephants, and Miniature Taj Mahal and possibly everything that one can imagine.

So, next time you’re in Agra, do visit a workshop if possible, you’ll be amazed at the process and do pick a beautiful souvenir.

Categories: Art and Culture, Experience, India, Inspiration, Interests, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

How to make most of your ‘One day trip’ to Udaipur, Rajasthan!

A bundle of must have experiences at the ‘City of Lakes’

Udaipur city stands as a testimony to the living heritage and eternal legacy of the Sisodiya dynasty. Sisodiyas ruled the city for over 1200 years. The origin of Udaipur dates back to 1559 AD when Maharana Udai Singh met a sage who blessed the Maharana and advised him to build a palace at this favorably located spot.

Udaipur is a visual treat with it’s shimmering lakes against the backdrop of Aravali Hills, formidable palaces showcasing heritage and enticing structures with distinctive artwork.

Honestly, you must stay in Udaipur for at least 2-3 days to soak in the beauty but even if you can visit this beautiful city for a day, here is how to get the best of it –

Where to Stay?

There are several options located in proximity to Lake Pichola, depending on the tourist flow the charges might vary. The tariff lies between INR 2,200 – INR 4,000 for a decent room subject to further negotiation.

Placed in tiny lanes these hotels look precarious at the first sight but not to worry they are fine 🙂 So find a place close to Lake Pichola, you’re going to love the dawn and will have a dinner to remember overlooking the ethereal Lake. Almost all of them have open roof top restaurant where you can enjoy candle light dinner with the moon gazing at you It’s awesome!!!

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Wake up to a lovely morning !!!

Rent a Bike

One can easily get a Motorcycle for full day here at reasonable prices, you can choose from a variety of options! Having a scooter / bike makes movement much easier and adds zeal to the experience. You’ll need important documents namely – Driving License, Address Proof and Passport size photo for submission. They may ask for Passport / Visa if you’re a foreign tourist.

Let’s begin with Fateh Sagar Lake

Named after Maharana Fateh Singh of Udaipur and Mewar, Fateh Sagar Lake is one of the four lakes of Udaipur. The construction of this Lake first was completed under the supervision of Maharana Jai Singh in 1687, however it got washed away two years later in floods, was reconstructed by Maharana Fateh Singh in 1889.

The Lake is pear shaped, surrounded by Aravalli Hills on three sides and contains three small islands – the largest being Nehru Park, second island is also converted into a public park & the third one addresses Udaipur Solar Observatory, which is the best solar observing site in Asia. The islands are accessible by inboard motor boats.

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City Palace and The Charming Lake Pichola!

City Palace is a palace complex situated on the banks of Lake Pichola and has several palaces built within, the construction of these Palaces took over 400 years with improvisations from each succeeding ruler. Lake Pichola is the oldest and one of the largest lakes of Udaipur built by Pichhu Banjara during the ruling period of Maharana Lakha in 1362.

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City Palace

Taj Lake Palace stands impressively in it’s pristine glory amidst Lake Pichola. Built in 1746, once a pleasure palace of Maharana Jagat Singh II of Udaipur is today the majestic and magnificent Taj Lake Palace.

City Palace is an architectural blend of Medieval, European and Chinese styles. It actually comprises of 11 palaces, there have been additions to the original palace with change in the rulers. Main entrance is through the triple-arched gate – The tripolia, built in 1725. Continue reading

Categories: Experience, Family Travel, Heritage, Photography, Rajasthan, Udaipur | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

The Divine Abode of ‘Goddess Chindi’

A photo tour of the Chindi Mata Temple located in Chindi, Karsog Valley, Himachal !

‘Humanity is the only religion’, he always tells me. He doesn’t stop anyone from Idol worship though opines when sees people around following irrational traditions;  try and force him to be a part of something similar and you are in for a stimulating debate!

Ashish (my soul-mate) is a big inspiration in my life, of so many things that are purely impressive about him; one is that he believes ‘Good Karma is all you need to conquer the Evil’. And for him ‘God’ is another name for rediscovering the power of ‘Good’; And ‘God’ is omnipresent, not restricted to the premises of the Temples!

Then how did we end up in Temple one might think. There could be different reasons why people visit temples!

Well, the Temples in India are commendable work of art and the Architecture of Temples is very specific to the region. For instance, in Tamil Nadu one will find Dravidian styled Hindu Temples while on the other hand, in Himachal a combination of styles – Dome, Timber bonded or Flat roofed.

On our visit to Chindi in Karsog Valley, we discovered this archaic yet incredibly beautiful ‘Chindi Mata’ temple.

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The entrance to the Chindi Mata Temple, the name Chindi name is derived from the place where it is located.

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The timber wood structure and marvelous architecture catches one’s fancy at first sight!

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This is the main temple where ‘Goddess Chindi’ resides

The artists’ impression of ‘Goddess’ (Mata in Hindi) is sensational, above you can see Goddess Durga and Kaali. Goddess Durga has nine different forms and each form (or Avatar) has a beautiful story. Kaali or Kalka is also one of her majestic forms.

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Categories: Discovery, Experience, Family Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

The Music that weaves Magic!

When the sound of rustic yet soulful music adorns every nook and corner, you know it’s Rajasthan.

Rajasthan’s diversity is beyond capture in words – rich heritage, vibrant culture, majestic monuments with appealing history,  artistically sound, vast sand dunes, colorful villages, warm people and much more. Rajasthan is famous for showcasing the royal heritage of palaces, forts, havelis & desert safaris, offering a glimpse of it’s spirited culture.

This state has a lot to offer to all groups of travelers and explorers. An ideal destination for royal vacation, adventure lover, family vacation and heaven for antique collectors. Royal life style of the emperors has inspired and promoted a variety of antique art on wood, clothe and stone.

Don’t be surprised when you encounter artists playing folk music and singing melodious songs at all the possible places! When we did Jodhpur-Jaisalmer-Udaipur circuit we observed many such artists but could capture only few but all. Happy to share them here again I know I would shared the pictures earlier in some form or other but these are so apt for ‘Oh Dear! This is India‘ series. They reflect glorious history of India.

The tune of Kamaicha

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This man, deserves all the admiration, he plays at the Gadisagar Lake and has been doing so for more than a decade now!

The instrument that adorns his experienced hands so beautifully is ‘Kamaicha’. ‘Kamaicha’ is one of the oldest musical instruments widely used in Asian music and more so in Rajasthan. It is a string instrument played with a bow.

Read – The Desert Safari and Gala Dinner at Thar

The one called Nagara

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The artist here is playing ‘ Nagara’, also called ‘Kettledrum’ is a cone shaped drum played with two sticks – the Surnai and Nafeeri. I couldn’t capture the sticks very well in the picture though. This man sings and plays at the Mehrangarh Fort (Jodhpur) and it’s so refreshing that one literally starts moving to the music.

Happy Weekend!

Suggested Reading – This is India (I) This is India (II)

 

Categories: History, India, Inspiration, Rajasthan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Chindi – A little piece of Heaven

His eyes lit with excitement as he pointed to a tree where the tiny pomegranates were hanging and dangling and swinging beautifully with gust.

We had been to Orchards before, like on Spiti Valley road trip, the accommodation we stayed in at Kalpa, was located right in the middle of Apple Orchard and we could actually touch the Apples from our room’s balcony! But Aayansh was just 11 months old then so that explains the recent enthusiasm he is now 2 :).

 

It was not just Pomegranates; we crossed variety of trees and were as excited as ever – Pears, Plums, Apricots, and Apples. What a blessed place this was!

And the picturesque views of the hills from that altitude were something else! We had spent a lot of time in Himachal over the last five years, and still on our every following road trip we discover some place special casting a magic spell that lingers on in our hearts.

This is Chindi!

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A beautiful drive of about 95 kms from Shimla and you are in ‘Chindi’, a serene charming place in Karsog Valley. The mountains are mighty but so luxuriant with greens and the supple fog that it feels divine. Throughout our road trip we followed Google Maps and decided to take the not so popular route and it turned out amazing as it required us to drive via these quaint villages, orchards and incredible views.

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The misty mighty mountains as viewed from Chindi in Karsog Valley

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Categories: Experience, Family Travel, Hill Station, Himachal, India, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Hues of Turquoise!

When you see your favorite color like this!

Can you imagine Life without colors around us? I guess that would be a big NO. Colors add so much zing to our otherwise mundane Life, and each color has specific significance to it. The impact of Colors on our moods, emotions, conduct and overall well being can’t be ignored. For instance Green is the color that enhances balance and harmony while the color Blue has an instant calming effect on mind, no wonder beaches and oceans and rivers are so loved by travelers.

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This one is shot at Dal Lake, Srinagar, the impact of greens is so soothing!

Somehow I have always had a special liking for ‘Turquoise’ color and when I saw this sight (the picture below), I was happily amazed.

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And my favorite color! The combination of Green and Turquoise looks so appealing. If you observe closely, there’s a Helicopter parked and it’s tail is also colored Turquoise. Isn’t it beautiful! This picture too was captured in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir

The other picture, is a landscape view of the place, and it’s drop dead gorgeous. With the Dal Lake visible in background and the peeking mountain, this landscape is one of my favorite shots.

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This one right here is the landscape view of the Helipad and Golf Course. AMAZING!

Categories: Srinagar, Travel, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Totally Tabo-ed!!!

Visiting the Ajanta of Himalayas -Tabo Village in Spiti Valley

Tabo (Ta- pho) is situated at a wobbly altitude of 3050 meters in the eastern region of Spiti Valley. Spiti is one awe-inspiring region that houses few of the greatest surviving monuments of Tibetan art and culture. Historically, Spiti Valley is believed to be part of the Kingdom of Western Tibet. The tiny divine village (Tabo) will catch your fancy for all the right reasons.

Visit to Tabo was part of our road trip to Spiti Valley. It seemed as if the incredible road trip had surprises in store for us at every corner. The vast expanse of land, flawless empty roads, and the Spiti River flowing by, filled us with happiness and wonder for nature. We were already in different world, albeit tired of all the driving throughout the day. Once we reached Tabo, the gigantic and colorful entrance re-energized us, the feel of this small settlement was so contagious!!!

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Glimpse of captivating Tabo village

That evening we settled in our rooms, gazing at the bright stars and stunning moon, excited about the next morning. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Discovery, Road Trip, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

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