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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.

Orange Flower for Upload

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

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Categories: Experience, Interests, Jammu & Kashmir, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 47 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

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 38 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

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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!

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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: , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

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: , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Seven Things must do at Renukaji!

Last week I shared an engaging post about the offbeat treasure near Delhi – Renukaji, The Blessed Waters and Heavenly Charm

In continuation with the topic, here’s how you can plan your day at Renukaji, the activities you can do and get the most out of it 🙂

  1. The most popular one – Boating : Boating at Renukaji is loads of fun, the colorful boats and serene waters are so inviting! It costs just INR 250/- and the last entry is at around 5 pm. You can enjoy the scenic beauty, can actually see fishes and black turtles too in the water. The kids love it.
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Colorful Boats at Renuka Lake

2. Renuka Mataji Temple and the Parshuram Tal : The Temple is located at the base of the Renuka Lake. 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 locals believe that the lake (and region around) is blessed by Renukaji and her spirit. The place is highly revered by the devotees.

3. Take a Nature Walk around the Renuka Lake : This one is my favorite , start early and embark on the Nature Walk around the Lake, you can combine this with visit to the Zoo. The timings are 9.00 am but you can go before that as well, we chose to start at 7.30 am. The morning walk amidst lush greens was refreshing and infused new energy in us.©

4. Observing the Animals : After all it’s a Zoo, though I’m not a big fan of Zoo, I don’t like animals being restricted in an exhibit but yes since it’s collided with the Nature Park and morning walk we did some animal spotting too. Aayansh found it joyful, for his age he has special fondness for all animals including reptiles!

 

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Categories: Family Travel, Himachal, Offbeat Travel, Traveling with a Baby, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

A Walk to Remember!!

The surreal peaceful charm of Sarahan will devour you as you enter the village. It’s a beautiful village, just 17 kms off the main road (from Jeori) in Himachal Pradesh. We covered Sarahan as part of our 11 days road trip to Spiti Valley.

Sarahan Quote

A landscape view of the village

Sarahan is adorned by impressive Bhimkali Temple that is over 800 years old. The archaic architecture of the temple is intriguing. Take look at pretty pictures!!

Another factor that makes Sarahan so gorgeous is the Shrikand Mahadev peak. The views that surround the village from every angle will make you fall in love with Nature every hour.

The ‘Hawa-Ghar’ at Sarahan!!

It’s not a touristy spot, let me clarify that and no wonder we were the only ones at the location! We spoke to some locals there (as we mostly prefer) and found out about  ‘Hawa-Ghar’. As we approached the location, we were stunned to witness how gorgeous it was.ζ♥ Felt like in the lap of Nature ♥

Beautiful Trails

The super pretty trail luxuriant with greens

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Categories: Road Trip, Sarahan, Kinnaur, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

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