Family Travel

The Legend of Jamali-Kamali

Of many marvels situated in Archeological Park, Mehrauli; a neighborhood in South West Delhi district just a few kms away from the famous Qutub Minar; Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb is one of a kind.

Built during the years 1528 – 29, this monument’s architecture was decorated with marble embellishments. The design of the mosque, first of a kind in India, has been appreciated and studied with awe for many years. This mosque and tomb is dedicated to Jamali and Kamali.

Jamali, was a Saint and Sufi poet, who lived between Sikandar Lodi’s reign and that of Humayun. His full name was Sheikh Fazlullah or Sheikh Jamal-ud-din Kamboh Dehlawi. Jamali’s poetry created a special place in Sikandar Lodi’s heart; his works were so impressive that though Mughals conquered India, Jamali remained in the royal court till Humayun’s death.

However, this seemingly just another monument entails more stories and history than one could fathom. Few of them are tough to believe but definitely catch the attention. Let’s get started.

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The gushing leaves in the courtyard seem to welcome every visitor alike. As I enter I couldn’t help but observe the structure of the mosque and the red sandstone work is so peculiar of the Mughal Architecture. It reminds me of the works in Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandra, near Agra.

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The wazukhana (where the followers cleanse themselves before offering prayers), lies empty now and looks more like a shallow pond but illustrates how meticulously it was constructed back then.

As I enter the elegant Mosque, the architecture takes me to another world. The carved bands and medallions, and five arched openings, and the narrow gallery leading to the second floor; there’s something peaceful about the whole setting.

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However, it is believed that the peaceful turns to eerie silence in the evening, the presence of ‘Jinns’ (or the super natural forces) has been confirmed by many stories. Some say, it haunted, I don’t really know. To me, it looks and feels mysterious yet amazing.

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In the adjoining closure, there’s a flat roofed tomb, the entry to this tomb has now been closed, but it’s famous for ornamentation with colored tiles and exquisite patterns embedded with inscriptions composed by Jamali himself.

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It’s the Jamali – Kamali tomb, Kamali’s relationship with Jamali was a special one as illustrated by the fact that Kamali was buried alongside Jamali. Not much validated information is available about Kamali, however there are many stories speculating that he was – A disciple, brother, friend and / or a lover. Historians, explain that during that era homosexual love was as normal as opposite sex and hence there is a high possibility that this burial side-by-side is extension of promise, made in love of being together forever. Like the Taj Mahal in Agra commemorates Shahjahan’s eternal love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Jamali-Kamali tomb has a similar theory. 1000 years back, who knew mausoleums could elicit such great interest in history.

With myriad questions rumbling in my mind I made my way to another ruined monument, a new story and experience and yet more unanswered questions.

 

 

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Categories: Art and Culture, Experience, Family Travel, Heritage, India, New Delhi, Offbeat Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 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: , , , , , , , , , | 52 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Best of Spiti – In Pictures

The inviting roads, the terrain, the landscapes and topography…….

Making up our minds for doing the 11 days road trip with a little baby was not easy at all. It was the first time ever that we were so anxious about our ‘Travel’ plans!! Post baby, the lifestyle changed every bit and traveling together (particularly the adventure trips) were difficult to fathom. However, our zeal for road trips couldn’t keep us away for a very long time and after an occasional break of a year we decided to pack our bags and set out on a road trip along with our 11 months old little love to the revered Spiti Valley, the Land of Lamas in India. Interestingly, we discovered our baby boy shares the love for Travel 🙂 This trip wasn’t his first though, he had been on few short trips already before Spiti.

Spiti is as stunning as it name sounds!! Lahaul–Spiti lies in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Spiti is predominantly occupied by Tibetan refugees and hence the region has pretty much feel of Tibet.

We covered the region via Shimla. It was thrilling as well as challenging to drive on these roads. We were bracing ourselves for the drive on one of the most treacherous and deadliest roads of the world. This time it was the thrill of NH-22 and Hindustan-Tibet road. The hairpin bends, the narrow dimensions, encountering natural waterfalls, close encounters with trucks and buses, the frequent bad patches made us  feel ecstatic and sometimes insane:). Take a virtual tour of the roads here.

The region is heaven for photography enthusiasts, to hone skills and experiment with different styles, today I’m sharing the essence of the ‘Spiti Valley’ captured in pictures, a random compilation of awe-inspiring sightings. This is going to be a series of posts and I hope you travel along 🙂

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This is a landscape view of village – Dhankar. Dhankar stands tall at an altitude of 12,774 feet. Dhang/dang means cliff, and kar/khar means fort. Hence, the fort on a cliff is popularly known as ‘Dhankar’. The confluence of Spiti & Pin Rivers from this height is incredible!!!

Dhankar houses a 16th century old fort monastery; however one can see the new monastery now in the tiny village of Shichilling. The old monastery complex is also known as Lha-O-pa Gompa; it has five different halls and includes a number of multi-storied buildings. The highlight of the monastery is the a statue of Vairochana or Dhayan Buddha with 4 figures seated back to back. The monastery is associated with Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism and has around 150 lamas residing in it.

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Read more about Dhankar

Bridge-Spiti

The natural settings are so beautiful here that we were compelled to take breaks and soak in the beauty, this capture is a humble attempt to share the beauty with the world. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Family Travel, Himachal, India, Spiti Valley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 73 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!

Dal Lake - View from the Window.jpg

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: , , , , , , , , , , , | 58 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 54 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

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