India

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.

Dhankar - LandDhankar

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

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Categories: Adventure, Family Travel, Himachal, India, Spiti Valley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 65 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.

Thursday

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: , , , , , , , , , , , | 57 Comments

The Art of Marble Inlay

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

Marble 1

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.

Marble 5

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: , , , , , , , , , , , | 50 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!

Chindi - Cover

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.

Chindi 2

The misty mighty mountains as viewed from Chindi in Karsog Valley

Continue reading

Categories: Experience, Family Travel, Hill Station, Himachal, India, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Oh Dear! This is India (2)

Hi all, last week I started a photo series – Oh Dear! This is India. In continuation of the same I’m happy to share the second picture reflecting ubiquitous or unusual pulse of India.

Quite a Charmer!

The Snake Guy.jpg

Chetan (above) is so happy to pose with his friend (as he points to the Snake and calls him Ramu). We met him on the outskirts of Indore near a village. He told us that the iconic folk art of ‘Snake Charming’ runs through generations in his family. But the business is not as rosy as it used to be.

The business of Charming!

Snake Charmers are known for their art of controlling deadliest of the reptiles (read Cobras) with the use of gourd flute (a musical instrument). For centuries this tribe has performed street shows, rescued snakes and saved the day as the boundaries of the human occupied land has grown. Continue reading

Categories: Experience, India, Travel, Travel Experience, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Oh Dear! This is India.

A series of flagrant pictures that depicts ‘India’ as it is – seizing the audacious and unabashed moments from the vibrant streets of India. I’m glad to share the first one here

Religion India

The veil of Religion! Apologize for the low resolution, this one was clicked from a mobile phone, it was so crowded that holding the camera was super risky!

People here are ardent followers of ‘Gods’ and their dedication includes all kinds of prayers, fasting, and what not! Continue reading

Categories: India, Photography, Travel Experience | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

RenukaJi, Nahan – The Blessed Waters and Heavenly Charm

Tickling the Travel bug with the Renuka Lake – the largest natural lake in Himachal!!

Renuka Lake finds its prime place in the quaint hamlet of ‘Renukaji’. Renuka is located just 40kms away from Nahan in Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh. Renuka is also a natural wetland with freshwater springs, fed by a small stream flowing from the lower Himalayan out to the Giri river. The lake is home to at least 443 species of fauna including like Puntius, Labeo, Rasboro, Channa.

The place is revered for a number of reasons and cuts for the awesome weekend getaway from Delhi perfectly. New Delhi to Renukaji is a distance of ~300 kms and takes around 7 hours by road.

Renuka Lake, the largest natural lake measuring a little over 3 kms is so scenic and picturesque that it seems perfect to find solace and tranquility.

 

The place is luxuriant with greens and it is treat for eyes. The continuous chirping of birds and light natural music of water makes it really interesting!!

Lake 1

Renuka Lake during the day 🙂 It looks so serene!

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Yes, boating is available and costs only Rs.250 for 30 – 40 minutes. I’m going to do a elaborate post on Things to do at Renukaji, so stay tuned 🙂

The History

It is believed that Renukaji is the birthplace of ‘Lord Parshuram’, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Parshuram was born to Maharishi Jamdagni and his wife Renukaji. Their prayers were answered by Lord Shiva and they both were rewarded for devoted meditation. The legend has it that Maharishi Jamdagni received a divine cow ‘Kamdhenu’ from Gods and was repeatedly attacked by Shastrabahu, to capture the cow, when he failed he killed Maharishi Jamdagni. Following the event, RenukaJi (Jamdagni’s wife) jumped in the Ram Sarovar and took Jal Samadhi, since then, the Lake is popularly known as RenukaJi Lake. The locals believe that the lake (and region around) is blessed by Renukaji and her spirit. The place is highly revered by the devotees.

Lake 4

It is also believed that on the occasion of Devprabodhini Ekadashi every year, Renukaji and her son Lord Parshuram meet. The day is celebrated with much fanfare. Continue reading

Categories: Experience, Family Travel, History, India, Spiritual | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Thoughtful Tuesday.

The beauty of Travel !♥

You visit a place and come back to routine life but your heart yearns… for more moments, more memories, more nature walks, may be more pictures too 🙂 You Travel once to particular destination and the experience alters you forever. So, physically you are not traveling though but your brain is!! As they say, ‘ Once a Traveler, Always a Traveler’.

Some destinations are so beautifully blessed that the sights find a special place in your heart and every time a discussion comes up about that place, your eyes sparkle and a positive smile runs across uninhibited.

Today, I’m sharing few of my favorites – pictures as well as quotes, made me introspect , retrospect and HAPPY!!

Thursday

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Udaipur Tree Quote

All of these were clicked at Udaipur.

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 A.D 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, it’s shimmering lakes against the backdrop of Aravali Hills, formidable palaces, enticing structures,  fascinating ambience makes the city a captivating destination for domestic as well as international tourists.

Happy Exploring 🙂

Just wanted to share one happy news, our Facebook page is now 1100 members strong, so if you would like to connect on FB as well, we will be glad to reciprocate. Charu ♥≈° Ashish

Categories: Experience, History, India, Inspiration, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Weekend Wisdom

Srinagar Quotes

On this beautiful note, wish all our fellow bloggers and readers – Happy Weekend 🙂

The picture in background was shot at Badamvaer in Srinagar, Kashmir. More stories on Kashmir here – A cuppa of story from Kashmir, Different hues of Dal Lake, A day at Srinagar.

Categories: Discovery, Experience, Houseboats, India, Inspiration, Travel Quotes, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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