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 🙂

 

Featured Stories

An Epic Road Trip to Spiti Valley     Different Hues of Dal Lake    The Blessed Waters of Renukaji

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Categories: Discovery, Inspiration, Journey, Travel | Tags: , , , | 93 Comments

For the Love of Football

Football is a game loved all over the world, people might be separated by geographies or language but the passion for the game unites them 🙂 Recently, when we spent a wandering week in Goa (October 2017), we had a beautiful encounter with the display of sheer passion. Interestingly, this was also the period when ‘2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup’ was taking place in India and few of the matches were held in Margoa, South Goa (Fatorda Stadium). We were staying just few kilometers from the stadium and witnessed few of the practice sessions, however, the practice off the field caught our attention more.

Here is the photo story, all the pictures are shot at Benaulim Beach, South Goa

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I have never played Football like this but while I looked at these kids, I could feel the excitement and a burst of energy

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Football Final

And that is the perfect goal!! That moment and to be able to capture it on Camera gave me a HIGH.

 

 

Categories: Family Travel, India, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Beloved Februa

Happy February!!

The month of February is a treasured one, the weather, the heavens, the lovely feeling is overwhelming. This 7th we celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary, and I’m not able to find enough apt words to describe how happy I am!! Though Ashish and I have been together for more than a decade now, we took wedding vows on February 7, 2011 (feels like yesterday though). To Seven years and counting!!

Wedding Pic

This is a picture from our wedding 🙂

This week share your dear love for the theme Beloved

There are so many things that are so close to my heart, making a choice is always difficult. However, as a tribute to our togetherness and to celebrate theme I have picked seven pictures depicting blossoming flowers. Flowers, big or small, I equally love them all. These pictures radiate positive energy and warmth. I hope you find these endearing.

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As the fragrance of wet soil emerged, the drizzle was pertinent

As the drops kissed petals, the colors so bright turned resplendent

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The beauty that spreads Love

Flowers from Srinagar

The flaunting flower bringing Cheer

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The Therapeutic Bunch

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The vibrancy of orange is contagious

Amidst all greens it stands out.

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Pink beauties, the more the merrier!! Continue reading

Categories: Experience, Interests, Jammu & Kashmir, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

The Camels of Thar, Rajasthan

Miles and miles of incessant desert, a land of shifting sand dunes and infinite stories! That’s Thar – The Great Indian Desert.

The Thar Desert is a large arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent that covers an area of 200,000 kms. The world’s 18th largest desert forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan.  About 85% of the Thar Desert is in India, and the remaining 15% is in Pakistan. Most of the desert is covered by huge shifting sand dunes that receive sediments from the alluvial plains and the coast.

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That’s a Camel cart, Camels are the most used form of transport in rural areas of Rajasthan

But wait; isn’t it unimaginable to picture large Desert without its Ship i.e. The Mighty Camel. Indeed it is! The Camel is indispensable part of the Desert. Camels are the most important part of fairs and festivals too in Rajasthan.

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Camels with their Keepers at Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

The big snout, dusky eyes and really long legs could be intimidating at first look but don’t make any opinions and judgements so soon, Camels might carry a tough look but they are adorable and very dear, especially to the camel breeders.

Camels are unique mammals, identified with humped back and found in desert areas of Asia and Africa. There are two types of camels – Dromedary, which have one hump, and Bactrian, which have two humps. The humps consist of stored fat, which they can metabolize when food and water is scarce. The one with one hump is quite common here in Thar Desert, India.

The Quintessential Camel Ride

If you have been to Rajasthan (particularly Jaisalmer), I’m sure you have been on the Desert Safari, it’s almost impossible not to try a Camel Ride once in Jaisalmer. It’s the biggest attraction of the Safari and an unforgettable experience. There’s something about the Camel Ride.

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Look the Camel is posing and smiling too!! A still from our Desert Safari in Jaisalmer.

  • Firstly the funny feeling when the Camel gets up and sits back again.
  • The situation where Camel doesn’t want to get up at all!
  • The fun when he starts running!
  • The feeling while you keep swinging lightly as the Camel moves giving a tour and taste of the Desert.
  • The peculiar smell that Camel carries, one has to get over it 🙂

Continue reading

Categories: Experience, Family Travel, India, Jaisalmer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Benaulim Beach – As radiant as it can get

Firstly, wishing all the fellow bloggers and readers ‘Happy New Year’!! It’s been almost a month since my last post, I have been traveling and catching up with loved ones 🙂 So, blogging got out of attention purview. Well, I’m back and here’s the first post for the year….

I saw flurry of colors taking off and

Landing smoothly on the calm waves

I witnessed the smiles while memories were made

The drawings on the golden sand

Making impression on my heart

I wish I could stop Time or may be capture it in a magical box…….

The beautiful Benaulim Beach gave us memories of a lifetime!!

 

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Benaulim now a town in South Goa district (Salcette stretch) was erstwhile known as Banahalli. After Portuguese intervention it was given a new name and since then it has stayed so.

The region has two beautiful churches – The Holy Trinity Church and the St. John Baptist Church. Both the churches have peculiar appeal. However it’s prime beauty is its Benaulim beach adorned with tranquil waves, the swinging coconut trees, the creatures that greet you here and golden sands.

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We spent whole evening here and it was just wholesome entertainment. There were more people swimming here as the waves on this beach were super calm. There was parasailing, jet skiing, boat riding, wind surfing, people jogging, playing volley ball, doing yoga and much more.

The number of sea stars that greeted us here was incredible. Not just that there were all different kinds of crab and all other tiny creatures touching the feet. And Jelly fishes too!!

The varieties of Starfish here was unbelievable, some of them were close to water and hence managed to survive but few others just waited for long to unite with the sea.

Benaulim Quote

And now few snapshots that will make you smile right away!! Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Travel Quotes, Traveling with a Baby, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

The Betul Beach – Where Sal meets the Sea

Photo Tour of the beguiling Betul Beach

A series of tranquil huts ensconced near River Sal in Salcette, South Goa luxuriant with coconut grove and other fruit trees; that’s Betul village. And just across the river there is the beguiling Betul Beach. The sparkling white sandy beach is charming for more than one reasons – the River Sal meets the Sea here creating a beautiful sight, due to high tides the beach is adorned with beautiful lagoon (which will be visible in pictures) and lastly the view of hills on one side where one shall witness the ships moving towards the harbor and the villagers fishing is a sight to behold.

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On the margin of the River, Washing up it’s silver spray;  We will walk and worship ever, All the happy, golden day.

~ Tidings from the poem ‘Beautiful River’ by Robert Lowry

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The Beach was literally covered with shells of all colors and sizes one can possibly imagine! And it was too much fun to collect these with my two year old baby boy.

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That’s my little love – Aayansh 🙂 having a great time exploring the beach. Continue reading

Categories: Family Travel, goa, Photography, Travel Experience, Traveling with a Baby, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Why Mughals had Harem Quarters?

Harems were quintessential part of the Mughal’s palace. Last time I went to the Akbar’s Tomb in Agra, I observed the Harem Quarter was outside the immediate premises, I have seen Harem Quarters in other Mughal palaces too like the big one in Fatehpur Sikri. But the one in Akbar’s Tomb was small and it intrigued me as to why there’s a quarter in the mausoleum? Though the panel outside the structure said it was a Harem but later was used as ‘Hunting Lodge’ by Jahangir.

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The Kanch Mahal (Harem Quarters) outside the Akbar’s Tomb near Agra

And, in a quest to find out more here is what I discovered and it’s worth sharing.

‘Harem’ is derived from the Arabic word ‘haram’, which literally means sacred or forbidden / sacrosanct. Harems were separate quarters (proper living spaces) for women and the entry to these quarters was strictly prohibited for men other than the Emperor. The Emperor was the only adult male who entered the harem freely.

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Ain’t it beautiful enough to catch your attention! Just observe the intricate work executed with Jharokas, borders, balconies; To have such Mahal as your home, not a bad idea I say 🙂

There has been a lot of speculation about this part of the palace as first hand information was never available to historians. The second hand information was was laden with exotic notions, whims and fancies. This was because the outside world couldn’t fathom the arrangement of having separate living area for women folk under the same ceiling. Here is more about the subject :

  • Harems primarily composed of wives, female relatives, concubines, and were arranged in regard to their proximity to the Emperor.
  • The Emperor’s mother and chief wife enjoyed special position. Even foster mothers were given a position of importance. The rulers followed preferential treatment.
  • A large Harem was often considered testimony to King’s supremacy. Hence the more the merrier. It is believed at one time more than 5,000 women lived in Harems in Akbar’s palace (i.e. Fatehpur Sikri near Agra) however only about 300 were his official wives or concubines.
  • The Harem of the Mughal Empire was guarded by Eunuchs, as well as female warriors called Urdubegis. All the harem officers would be women or eunuchs.
  • Akbar was the first emperor to lay down rules for it and turn it into an institution. The harem was called Mahal and the chief officer of the harem was called Nazir-e-Mahal (in-charge of women quarters), there were daroghas (supervising officers) and other supportive staff. It was run as an administration within itself.
  • The Mughal women were very well educated not just in the religious texts but arts, sciences and warfare. And, apart from wives and concubines, lot of women played role of servants and hence the number of women in Harem at any given time was huge.

The Architecture Continue reading

Categories: Akbar, Art and Culture, Experience, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

The Blue Evening at Colva Beach

Day 3 Exploring Colva Beach, the local Market and Margao

» Read Day 1 and Day 2

Colva Beach is one of those beaches in South Goa that get most swarmed. It’s comparatively closer to the Airport and quite happening too, since it gets so much of crowd all the time. So, if you’re in South Goa and wish to stay out late and enjoy the beach, Colva would be your first choice. All types of water sports facilities are available here. You just need to make a right pick. Here are some of the pictures 🙂 The sky literally turned so beautifully blue that I decided to use the caption – ‘The Blue Evening’!

Colva 3Colva 4Colva 1Colva 2 Continue reading

Categories: Beach Vacation, Family Travel, goa, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Best of Spiti – Mani Stones

The first story in this series was published few days ago and can be read here – Best of Spiti – In Pictures.

The origin of ‘Mani Stones’ is as ancient as Buddhism. Buddhists began to mark stones with symbols, phrases and mantras as a means to express their faith for deities and spread positivity. Hence, you’re likely to find varied kinds of inscriptions, use of vibrant colors manifesting belief of the decorator. These are sacred, magical and mystic.

 These decorated stones make you feel not just happy but also exude positivity.

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Travelers to Spiti Valley (place inhabited by Tibetans) will encounter such stones / mound of stones pretty much everywhere. Since, we were on a road trip, we spent our maximum travel time on roads and every time we saw such beautifully and meticulously carved stones, we would stop to soak in beauty.

These ‘Mani’ stones come in different colors, shapes, sizes and also different inscriptions, texts or images but primarily one will find such stones inscribed with ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’.

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Fortunately, I found this profound explanation of the powerful mantra by ‘H.H Tenzin Gyatso The Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet’ in the sacred texts and I’m sharing the brief version. It is believed chanting of this mantra brings great benefits for mind and soul but one must contemplate on the meaning as well for the meaning makes the chant and its impact complete.

‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ 

‘Decoded’

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The first, OM, is composed of three pure letters, A, U, and M symbolizing the practitioner’s impure body, speech and mind. The development of pure body, speech and mind comes gradually as one transforms from leaving the impure state into the pure. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Spiritual, Spiti Valley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

The Tall and Mighty – Dudhsagar Falls

Day 2 – Witnessing the fifth largest waterfall of India

Dudhsagar Falls translates to ‘The Sea of Milk’ in English, with a mighty fall of 1,020 feet; these falls are a sight to watch evoking awe and excitement alike. Dudhsagar is a 4-tiered waterfall located on the Mandovi River near Goa – Karnataka border. We covered Dudhsagar Falls on Day 2 of our recent Goa trip (Oct’17).

The falls are located inside a Wildlife Sanctuary and hence governed by the Forest Department, the access is a bit difficult but worth the effort. Dudhsagar has a mighty fall, and the arc sort of design as seen in pictures is actually a railway track, there’s a Bollywood movie shot here too (remember Chennai Express!) ; however the train has been discontinued lately.

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Dudhsagar Falls

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Things to Know, before you go to Dudhsagar Falls

  • Currently, the only way to reach the falls is by booking the ‘Jeep Safari’ which costs INR 400 +INR 30 for life jacket +INR 50 forest department fee, comes around INR 480. The Jeep will take you on a bumpy ride of 10 -12 km and finally once you reach the falls, you’ll have 1.30 hours to enjoy. Photography is allowed but carrying a camera and managing it (particularly DSLR) is a bit difficult.
  • The way that leads to falls is beautiful, risky though, especially if you have a Kid / Backpack. It’s preferable to wear Floaters or Sandals.
  • There is a place where one can enjoy light swimming at the foot of the falls. One has to be careful all the time as there are rocks beneath water.
  • There was a train earlier which used to go till the Falls, but now it has been discontinued.
  • You might encounter the local villagers claiming that they will take you on a trek till the top of the waterfall and charge only INR 1,000 but please do not fall prey to such claims; the area is not safe due to thick forest, presence of wild animals and steep water cliff. Moreover, if anything goes wrong, they will not take any responsibility.
  • Since, we had our bike; we traveled the distance in 2 hours from South Goa to Dudhsagar Falls. However, for someone coming from North Goa this might take 3.30 – 4 hours of travel from one side, so plan accordingly.
  • During monsoons and heavy rains, the falls are closed to avoid casualties.

The lower half of the falls where swimming is allowed –

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Ending the day, Cavelossim way Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Beach Vacation, Family Travel, goa, Offbeat Travel, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

The crack of Dawn at Sunset Beach!!

Let’s begin exploring Goa with the Sunset Beach in South Goa

Right from the time, the first thought of spending Diwali holidays in Goa surfaced to discussions, I couldn’t stop picturing sandy beaches, soothing dawn, fiery sunsets and vibrant nights. Mostly (actually all) holidays till now were spent back in home either in Agra or Mumbai but this time we thought let it be sweetened with Sun, Sand, Sea and Shells. So, it was planned – ‘A wandering week in Goa’! I’ll do a comprehensive post soon covering the whole road trip and a series of detailed posts about the beaches and here goes the first one 🙂

Goa is thronged by domestic as well as international tourists alike and the preferable months for the visit are October – March. You’ll find that foreign tourists share the love for beaches candidly here. In fact few of the beaches that we visited had only foreign tourists cheerfully having a great time.

Goa (Goem in Konkani) is India’s smallest state by area, formerly a Portuguese province, was annexed by the Indian Army in 1961.

How Goa welcomed us!

Our flight from New Delhi landed ahead of the scheduled time (yay!!) and we were out much before the anticipated time. We had taken a bike on rent and the guy handed over the bike to us outside the airport itself. We had booked a Home Stay in South Goa (Fatona area), which according to Google Maps was 30 – 40 minutes away, we thought that’s manageable. BUT, there was something else planned for us, right after five minutes of our drive, it began drizzling and in few minutes a heavy downpour and we were stranded!

With the little baby and the entire luggage, it was so challenging to drive. Moreover, the constant thought that baby might catch cold was making me sick. Though we had an umbrella but it was of little help. It was our first trip to Goa, we had no idea that shops begin to close by 8.30ish, restaurants also being to close early (barring select few), there were no streetlights (only few roads had some lights) and patches were luxuriant with greens. With nothing visible, our only hope and help was google map. And that too was difficult to check because of the constant rain. Finally, all drenched and distressed, we could reach the Home Stay only in 1.5 hours or more.

Waking up next morning to the beauty

The morning was beautiful and we were all pumped up to explore the beach :). The closest beach to our Home Stay was Sunset Beach and it looked something like this in the morning 🙂 The fascinating part is that this is a deserted beach, and in wee hours there was no one around not even the Lifeguard. It looked so calm with the golden sky preparing for sunrise.

Sunset Beach

 

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Continue reading

Categories: goa, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

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