Bhutan Diary

Unique culture and lifestyle of Bhutan was very interesting to read in blogs which made me to suggest the place for a trip on Diwali holidays. What!! International trip!!! Are you kidding!!! This was the first response from the buddies. I shared few pics of Bhutan and informed the most crucial thing.. It’s economical to travel any stay in Bhutan. There was few travelers who had done the voyage with very less budget. Once dates and place was agreed, It was my responsibility to have an itinerary. Initial plan was to travel by train from Bangalore to Kolkata and from Kolkata to Hasimara in train. Thanks to all the great travelogues. We booked the train tickets from Bangalore to Kolkata in Durronto Express. Even it was before two months, tickets where on waiting list. Air fares where to high because of Diwali holidays. Two weeks before the planned travel date, excitement made our mind week. We lost confidence in Railways even though tickets would have confirmed. Luckily for some strange reason air fare had gone down. This plan would take a day less with a little hike in ticket compared to train ticket.  It was Wednesday, 26th Day of October when we boarded from Bangalore to Kolkata.  I can’t proceed this without mentioning the passport hungama that happened. I was told by my friend that, even if we don’t need a visa, we would need to take an entry permit from the border city and we would need an ID card the same. I was so insane that I kept the passport back in room and took the DL and reached airport. It was impossible to get into Bhutan without passport or voter id for Indians. I had one hour for my check in. Only option was to ask someone to get the passport to airport. Fortunately for me  and unfortunately for my friend who was at room, had to drive like to a rocket in Bangalore Traffic to get the passport on time. We where late by few minutes and the whole crew was waiting for us. It was a nice feeling when the entire crew is waiting for us to take of the flight.

We had our train from Kolkata to Hasimara, which is the closest railway station to Indo-Bhutan Border City – Phuentsholing. Our train was from Sealdah Station in Kolkata. I had been told by friend that it is one of the busiest station in Kolkata which connects Kolkata to Eastern part of the country. Station architecture was something new for me. A different kind of station where you feel that train is inside the station rather the train passing through the station. Journey from Sealdah Station, Kolkata to Hasimara took 14 hours.

View from Train journey to Hasimara

Hasimara Station to Jaigon – Border City is 20-30 minutes’ drive by road. We got down in the wrong side of the Station where you will find only Cars which is very expensive compared to 35Rs per head auto on the other side of the platform. You could see vast Tea plantations on the both side of the road during this travel in Auto for 20 minutes. Its plain land which is different from the Tea plantation that you will see in hill station sin southern part of the country. Once you get down at Border, you could a see glimpse of the Bhutan. A giant gate which is the first thing you will see in Bhutan.

Phuentsholing Gate

Few steps by feet and you are in a different country. You could feel the difference between two countries in seconds. All of a sudden, you won’t hear the honks of the vehicle nor the rushing people. Nobody even walks fast. Cool and calm people. We headed to the Immigration Office for the entry permit and it was lunch break from 1:00PM to 2:00PM but it was 12:30 and that made me to recollect that Bhutan has a time difference of 30Mins from IST.  We had time an hour for the Office to open and we walked in the quite streets of Phuentsholing with plans of Shopping. Surprisingly all the shops except restaurants were closed which forced us to have lunch on time. From the restaurant guy we got to know that all shops will close for lunch break during these hours. Lot people would have been so healthy in India if we had a custom like this.  Like Someone said When in Rome, eat like a local, we wanted to have Bhutanese cuisine, so we moved to Bhutanese restaurant. Since the Bhutanese chef was on leave, we had to live with Chinese dishes. We have a week left in this county, so we were happy to go with whatever available. We headed to Immigration Office to get the Entry permit. While we were waiting for the Permit, a person came to us and politely enquired about our plan and offered his taxi. After bargaining for few minutes, we decided to go with him. More than the price it was his politeness which made us to go in his taxi. We started from Phuentsholing by 3:00PM and was expecting to reach Thimphu before 8PM. Its 5 hours of journey from Phuentsholing to Thimphu through hilly terrain which would have been taken maximum two hours in a highway. It was getting colder and colder when we were ascending up the hills. We had a couple of Puke stops to get relieved from the motion sickness. On halfway we stopped warm our self with hot cup of Tea and having a hot Tea in the cold wind was awesome. We had universal food, Maggi from there too which was tasting too good. May be first time I felt that hot maggi is soo yummy.

We reached Thimphu and managed to check in to a hotel at 10:30PM and all the restaurants were closed and luckily we found a small restaurant in the basement of our hotel which was about to close. We managed to get food from there and we fall asleep fast, may be because temperature was below 10.

We had plans to start for sightseeing in Thimphu at 7 but being late from the decided plan in the morning is a part of Indian Culture. We set to start the day by 8 and was very very cold. We could feel the cold when we tried water from the wash basin in the morning. It was very difficult to manage without warm water. We couldn’t find any breakfast joints at that time, so we started our day with sightseeing having in mind of breakfast after a while. We visited Memorial Chorten in the early morning and was the first monument we visited in the trip.

I followed a tourist guide who was explaining about the chorten to his clients. He started about the Giant Prayers wheels which was rotated by everyone who pass by. He was saying that the Giant wheel has the bhudist preaching’s illustrated and rolled to get a giant wheel. When rotated, considered as reading the inscription on papers inside and believed to be a good deed which clears the mind. He explained about the history of Chorten, which was built by second queen in memory of her son, third king of Bhutan who passed away in early age. We moved to have breakfast and then moved to Buddha point. Buddha point is on a hill-top where a giant Buddha statue has been mounted, which is biggest in Bhutan. We could drive till the gate and could walk inside the temple where Buddha is mounted on the top.

Budha  Statue at Bhudha Point
Angels around Buddha at Bhudha Point

We were still feeling so cold even the sun was shining directly above the head. We could take some good photos of the angels placed around the temple. There was some work going on for the preparation of the first international peace conference which is going to happen late this year. We spend an hour and descended the hill. It was 12:45 when we reached down and moved towards national library.

National Library
We realized after getting out of the vehicle that it was closed for lunch till 2, so we decided to move on to the next destination. Before we move on to the next place we visited a traditional hand crafts showroom near by the library where we could see a lot of handmade objects which reflected Bhutanese traditions. It looked like Bhutanese are fond of antique and handicrafts. We had lunch and headed to Thimphu Dzong which is the biggest Dzong in Bhutan. Unfortunately we couldn’t get inside the Dzong since the King was inside the Dzong and I could see the respect and fear in our drivers face when guards said that kind is inside the Dzong. We headed to Bhutan Post office where we could get Bhutan stamp without photo printed. It was real stamp which we could use to send post cards in Bhutan.
Bhutan General Post Office


 Few collected the Bhutan flags from there which we could tie on doors and bikes. We could see the Buddha’s face of Buddha statue located in Buddha point from almost all places in the Thimphu city. Next was Simtoka Dzong built in 1629 is considered to be the oldest Dzong in Thimphu. We could visit inside the Dzong where monks where performing their prayers. We curiously watched it for a while and walked around. I could see varieties of fruits, few which I have never seen or known in my life presented as an offering. I was wondering what will happen to these fruits after a day since all the fruits looked soo fresh. We stopped at mini Buddha statue on the way to Paro and clicked few photos and headed to Paro aiming Paro by 7. 

Mini Bhudha on the way to Paro

Driver said that Paro is small town compared to Thimphu so it’s better to reach Paro before late night since it’s difficult to get food and hotel at late nights. Few kilometres from before Paro, we stopped at a Dzong which is on the bank of a river. There was a two hanging bridge across the river, a new one and an century old Iron made bridge. It is believed that the Saint who build the Dzong and bridge was a specialist in casting iron and the iron never rusted even after centuries. We reached Paro by 8 and checked in to a hotel and moved out for dinner. We have read a lot about Karaoke bars in Bhutan and we wanted to experience one so we checked with driver to find a good one. After dinner we went a karaoke bar which was  a different experience. There was a big screen projected where lyrics are displayed and people where singing. They had a leaflet. Kind of restaurant menu which is having English, Hindi and Bhutanese song with a song code. Each table would get a chance to select the song and when the turn comes, the guy will come and ask for the song code and will play music and give the microphone to the table. We spend an hour there and went back to hotel around 11 and it was freezing cold. That was the end of the Day 2 in Bhutan.

Paro was colder that Thimphu and was around 7degree at nights. We started early morning around 7:30AM with plans to have breakfast on the way. We passed the Paro Airport, which is the smallest I have ever seen. Airport is located in the valleys on Paro mountains and very few pilots in the world are allowed to land in this runway. We stopped at Paro view-point where we could get the glimpse of Paro Airport and Paro city.

Paro Bird View Point

As soon as we stopped we could see a flight landing and was few feet above our head and was one of the best view of a plane I ever had. It was slightly tilted like in the war movies and then it slowly landed in the runway which as small as double a football ground. We clicked few photos and headed to Chele La Pass, which is the highest motorable road in Bhutan.

Picture says it all

We couldn’t have breakfast whole way till we reached top point. There was an uncle in a truck who was serving snacks and Maggi and we ended up having the breakfast from his truck. Even though it was bit expensive, Hot Tea with Pakoda at 13000ft was an awesome feel.  We could see a lot of prayer flags which is kept by Bhutanese in memory of their deceased. We could see stunning views of the sacred mountain Jomolhari and Jichu Drake from here. That was my first sight to Himalayas. Mount Jomolhari was covered with snow and was looking like the mountain is wearing a snow cap.

Mighty Himalays. Jomolhari  with Snow Cap

We spent few minutes there and returned to Paro by afternoon. There was a small stream of water where we stopped to feel the water. We couldn’t feel the water much because the first moment itself our hands was frozen and couldn’t feel anything else. We drove down to Paro Valley and had Bhutanese Lunch – Thukpa, Bathup, Ema Datshi and kewa datshi. Bhutanese Tea and Momos where the must for every meal, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner. After heavy lunch we moved to Watch tower and national museum.

Watch tower  built in 1649

Watch tower which was built-in 1649 is one of the oldest building in Bhutan. Watch tower was converted to National Museum in 1968. This is located on top of the Rinpung Dzong which is the Administrative office of Paro. Then we walked down to Rinpung Dzong and walked inside the Dzong to view the paintings and art works on the wall.

Rinpung Dzong

Paintings in  walls of the Dzong depicted the history of Bhutan, Beliefs of Bhutanese people and history of Bhutan.

One of the many paintings in the Dzong Walls

The architecture used here was Indo-Nepal-Bhutan similar to all other places in Bhutan. This is mainly because Buddha was associated with India and Nepal too which reflected the architecture of Bhutan.  We walked down the Dzong to reach Paro main road where we had to cross the Paro River via wooden cantilever bridge which is the oldest bridge in Bhutan.

Oldest Bridge in Bhutan

It was 6 by the team we reached Paro. It was shopping time, to be precise Window Shopping. Bhutanese Antique shops occupied both sides of the road for a mile. There was few antiques for sale which costed above 20Lakhs and was said to be hundreds of years of old. We managed not buy anything from these shops except few Laughing Buddha and Buddha statues. All these we had comfort sightseeing in Air Conditioned Car and we are going to have the most difficult day tomorrow where we have to go for a full day Trek, so we went to bed little early. That was the end of Day 3 in Bhutan.

Tiger Nest was the most awaited day of the trip as it require hiking of 5 miles one side. We started around 7 in the morning and reached the foot hill and bought few walking sticks and when we started it was around 7:45AM. We didn’t have breakfast or anything to have on the way. We have read in many blogs that there is a café halfway and we had plans to have food from there. There was Horses which we can hire and will carry you till the half way and will cost 600Rs. We decided to walk as it was a nice climate and we had experience in hiking. It was very steep ascend till the cafeteria and we were hungry too. We could see a lot of fellow hikers who are around 60’s and 70’s walking in higher pace that us who are in twenties. We managed to reach the cafeteria in 3hours which is time usually people take to reach the Tiger Nest. I don’t know what feeling I had when I realised that the café has only Tea and nothing else to eat at that time and they serve meals only at 12. We had Tea and Biscuits from the Café and continued the hiking.

Tea which we lived on 10miles hike

We reached the Photo Point by 12 and we would need an hour more to reach the final point and Tea Nest closes by 12:45 and opens only 2PM. We slowed down, it’s funny to say slow down further more.

Taktsang Panorama

We could see all or fellow hikers returning when we were ascending. We met an aunty and uncle from Bangalore, while ascending and we again met them and we are still yet to reach and they were returning. They casually asked how are we doing and I couldn’t resist myself from saying that skipping the breakfast was a mistake. They offered a pack of nuts which I didn’t refuse and was the best snacks I ever had. We could enter inside the Dzong only by 2 and we hardly spend 20 minutes inside the Dzong and we returned by 2:30PM. There was a beautiful waterfall just before Dzong where I managed to wash my feet and I was feeling numbness for few minutes.

Water fall at 10240ft

We were damn hungry that we had only aim, Café on the way back. We could manage to reach café in an hour and biggest disappointment was they had closed lunch few minutes before we entered and we had to live with Tea and Biscuits. It was dark when we reached the foothill and one or two groups where behind left to reach. We were exhausted after 10miles of hike without food. We jumped into City Hotel in Paro and had our last dinner in Bhutan and moved to our room. That was the end of Day 4. We started to Phuntsholing by 8 and reached Phuntsholing by 12:30PM and had lunch from there. We couldn’t enjoy the view of drive while going up since it was night but on return we could have the stunning view of Bhutan forests, valleys and waterfalls.

View on way back to Phuntsholing

When I thought about the Momos it was around 20 plates that we had in last five days. We did few shopping again and walked out of Bhutan around 3:00PM from Bhutan. We could feel the Incredible India after a gate where a group of people celebrating Holi on the roads and when you turn back you can see the empty streets of Bhutan. We had train from Hasimara to Kolkata and Flight from Kolkata to Bangalore next day. That was an end of 7 day trip from Bangalore to Bangalore. A memorable one.

Bhutan Diary

Sunday

Someone once said that “One Lazy day per week is good for health”. I wanted to extend the goodness so I decided to go for two Lazy days in week. It was end of the second day and a friend called and suggested to go out. I was alright with the plan even though I was half minded. Our plan was to go around Sankey Tank. I dont want to write a long essay on what is that. Why extra pain when wiki has it. This is Sankey Tank.  Even though we lost our way, we managed to stop at Chetty’s Corner, Kumara Park, Malleswaram to have Nipat Masala Bun and twistato. Dont ask me what is twistato, have a look. 

So called twistato

I am still thinking how do they get in this shape and stick it. We had carvings to have more but we had much more plans ahead to eat from Malleshwaram. As all other public places in Bangalore, Vehicle parking was a horrible task. We managed to squeeze in between the available slots on the road side. It was surprising to see a warning board inside the Park around the lake saying “Running and speed jogging is not allowed”. We started walking around with plans to return to starting point taking a walk around. 

After a mile we realised that there is no way to complete the round rather than taking a turn around. We found a dosa gaadi on the road. When you want to eat, you will get to eat. There was a exit gate near the dosa point which made it accessible for us. Paneer Dosa and Kerala Masala dosa was our options today. We didn’t want to fill our self as we have other places too in mind. I am still wondering what made him to name it Kerala Masala Dosa. Have never had or seen something in Kerala in 22 years of life in Kerala. After a walk 2 miles we returned to Malleshwaram to try the famous food joint, Central Tiffin Room. Locating this place in 7th Cross was not that difficult. Get into 7th cross and check for a place where there is big queue. The ambiance was almost similar to Vidyarthi Bhavan, Banshankiri but staffs were more friendly. Walking in between the tables, I couldn’t find a table without Goli Baje plate. We didn’t have to think too much on what to order. Goli Baje, Tea, Butter Masala Dosa and that made the day. 

It will be disrespect If I try to explain how good the food was. That was a perfect Sunday evening. 

When you have friends and you have time for them, No need of any other entertainment in Life and you don’t need any reason to write a blog too. 

Sunday

Kudremukh

Once I happened to watch a Kannada movie named Kudremukha. I was in my primary school that time and had no idea what Kudremukha means. You might say that, being in Kasaragod you are suppose to know Kannada, but unfortunately I don’t know. Years passed and I learned about the Iron Ore mining, one of the largest iron ore mines in the world.However, it was completely stopped in December 2005 as the area is a biodiversity hot spot. For no reason I had a kind of attraction towards this place. When I came down to Bangalore, always wanted to visit the place. It took 5 years after coming to Bangalore to visit the place. Kudremukh is one of the hot spot for the trekkers even though the trail has the threat of Wild Animals and Naxalites. I have been reading a lot in trek blogs about Kudremukh and was tagged as moderate trek of 15 – 20 kms approx. Kudremukh has the highest elevation at 1892 meters. When the plan started there was big opposition from others because of the sunny weather and the 20km trek distance. Only thing which we could say to our self was that we have done Kumara Paravatha Trek, so we can do this too. Group of 7 started from Bangalore at around 11PM. We had talked to Satish, who arranges Food and Accommodation at the base camp. Most of the time his phone will be switched off since there was no network in the forest Area. We were bit sceptical about this as we didn’t know the route to his home stay. We had to call him once we reach Kalasa, nearest town to Kudremukh at distance of 22KM. Kalasa is where we can have Mobile Network, ATM’s, Hotels etc. We reached Kalasa by 6 and as expected we couldn’t reach him. Thanks to BSNL miss call alerts, he called us back after 5 minutes and was asked to be in Mullodi  6 kms uphill from Balegal(Balegallu), on Kalasa to Kuduremukh Road. Balegal to Mullodi is 6km drive in 4*4 Jeep with no proper roads. Satish had the Jeep at Balegal and took almost 45minutes reach the Home Stay. We reached the Homestay by 7.30 and we had no time to rest. Freshened and had Idly Sambar and started from the Homestay at 8:45AM. Lemon Rice or puliyogare was packed for lunch and we had a guide from the Forest department. Trek trail had Valleys and steap hills. Valleys had huge trees and was small jungle with a stream. Fresh cold water at the Streams at regular intervals made us fresh and we didnt have to carry much of bottled water. 

One of the many streams on the trail. Water is soo clear and fresh.

We had carried enogh glucon-d but was not enogh to fight the sun. Few of us was far ahead and few far behind. Our guide was running in between. He will be of 40’s and he had no sign of tiredness after running in betywwen our two groups. There was no steap hills in first 5Km and we were saying ourself that this is one of the easiest treak. 

Steap trek starts after this

We just crossed a stream and there you a go, a steap hill. After that it was steap hills, valleys, small chuck of huge trees. Almost everyone was in a state to give up and return. But some force was pulling us to peak. We were not hungry, thirsty or tired, It was muscle pain which was holding us back. At some places the green lush valley had better view than Windows XP wallpaper. 

Windows XP 🙂 🙂

The last stream was half km before the peak point. We stopped near by the stream and had lunch and headed towards the top point.  It was 3PM by the time we reached peak. 6hours from the base to reach the peak and we are at 1892m above the sea level. We spent half an hour on the peak clicking and started back. Its crazy that we climb up 6hours putting soo much effort and spend few minutes and return back. Our giude was hurriying up since we had to reach the base before it becomes dark which we know that is not at possible. By the time we reached a point were we had to cover 5KM more, it was almsot dark. Guide started talking about the Wild animals seen at that time and was pushing us soo hard to move fast. By 6PM it became completely dark and we had guide’s torch light and few mobile camera lights. It was an experience to walk in the jungle in dark taking each step expecting a wild animal to pounce on us. We couldnt stop for a minute while coming back. We had to walk taking all the power which was already exhausted by the time we reached the half way while climbing. It was 8:30PM when we reached the home stay. Phone tracker showed 25KM. On an average of 2KM per hour. That was not bad. We had dinner and had no time to get into bed. Next day morning we had BF and spend some time in the homestay. There was a good number of flowering plants around the house. We walked to nearby waterfall which was few meteres from the homestay around 10AM. I have feeling that time flies when we are in water and time drags when we are hiking. Standing under the freezing water fall with good force was awesome realxation for the muscles. 

 

We had to get into the Jeep to go back to Balegal. Jeep suddenly stopped and the driver showed us something on the road. I tried to click it from very near and i expectedd that it will try to bite me or run away. Nothing happened, It just gave a pose.

A long wish come true. From the highest point in the Kudremukh.

That’s Me 😛 😛
Kudremukh

North India Voyage


One of my Childhood dream was to visit Ajmeer Dargha, Taj Mahal and Delhi. I had planned this couple of time but it reamined as a plan. I had Diwali holidays on Wednesday and Thursay and usual Weekend Holidays. I had no plans for these days until my friend, Naseef asked me “Why cant we go for a long trip?” I was waiting for this and I suggested  the plan. He was double okay with plan which excited me. We planned Ajmer, Agra and  Delhi. Flight charges was too high due to diwali holidays. So we added Hyderabad too in the plan. After that it was days of planning and reading about the places. Meanwhile I had booked the hotels to stay in Delhi and Hyderabad. Our Plan was Bangalore – Jaipur – Ajmer – Agra – Delhi – Hyderabad – Bangalore. After few days on planning we realised that Taj is closed on Fridays. So we had to switch Delhi and Agra. 



Our plan was to start at 2:30PM from our room. If we start at planned time we will be against human law. So we started at 3:00PM. We had to hire a ric to board Airport bus. Bus was scheduled at 3:10PM and was in time. Bangalore traffic usually makes it one and half journey to Airport. Diwali holidays and third continues day of rain had made the road empty which helped us to reach Airport by 4:00PM. We had one hour time to board. We had to freshen up and boarded at 5:00PM. As usual boring static state for 3 hours apart from cloudy sky and reddish sunlight scattered through the thin clouds which made the sky a treat for the eyes.

Sky from the flight window

 Flight was expected to land at 7:40PM and it was not even 7:41PM when it was landed. I could see Jaipur from the flight decorated with Lights since its Diwali is the Festival of Lights. I always wondered and still wondering why gods own country doesn’t celebrate Diwali. City was in lights but we didn’t have time to explore the city as our train to Ajmer was at 8:30PM. We had to reach Jaipur Railway Station and it was 7:55PM when we reached prepaid Auto counter. Auto driver was speeding when we told the train time. We could manage to reach station 15minutes before train time. I was shocked when I realised that the train too is punctual. We left the footprints in Jaipur and boarded to Ajmer. The city of Sulthanl Hind.  

Environment change  from flight to train in few minutes was like change in the culture. From western to Indian culture. From a place where people are not bothered about who sits next to a place people are bothered about people in the entire train. From closed windows to open windows. You are in south north east or west, feeling inside the train is same. Blue paint and dusted fans are the trademark. I am amazed by the brain who designed the train. From compartment to windows to lights. Nothing i have seen which retained for so long. After one day of stay in Ajmer dargha we returned to Delhi. Something to be mentioned is the crowd and the mutton dishes around dargha. Tandoori roti was something which was completely different from the roti we get in South India. Ajmeer Delhi Shatabdi  was at 3:45PM. According to common man in Ajmer, “All other train stops when Shatabdi  is on the way. Its for rich people not for common man”. My first experience in Shatabdi and I felt the same as the guy who explained about Shatabdi. Was greeted with nimbu pani followed by samosa, sandwich, cashew, soan papad and tea. 

Dinner was served at sharp 7. Three course non veg dinner. I can tell that the quality of food was good and never had the feeling that its served in a train.  

All the trains which we expected to be late was on time and the one we expected to be on time was late by an hour. We landed Delhi at 11:00PM and checked in at a hotel near Airport which we had booked earlier. That was a big mistake since commuting to city was a problem. Our plan was to start at 8AM for site seeing but we started at 10:00AM due to availability of the cab. We headed towards Qutub Minar.

History of Qutub Minar is known to everyone. Most of the tombs are damaged. This reminded me of ruins of Hampi. I was not aware that this is the tallest  monument of this make. Climate was perfect with a cool breeze and not too sunny sky. 

Qutub Minar
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Red Fort

After an hour visit we moved to next place, Red Fort and Juma Masjid. It took almost an hour in car to reach Red Fort from Qutub Minar.  Cabs are not allowed near to Fort. We had to take a cycle auto to reach Red Fort entrance. 

Very  few areas of the wide spread Fort is opened to Public. War museum, Mumtaz Mahal, Pearl Masjid are few. Red stones laid across gives a different look from forts across the country. War museum had some good armours and war equipment which I have seen or read in old books.

Authorities had maintained the place very well. I felt lucky when i saw the queue outside which was empty few minutes back. Fort architecture is something adorable. Cycle Guy was waiting for us to take us for the next spot, Largest Mosque in India, Juma Masjid.  

Masjid has become a tourist place than a worship place. It’s built at a good height from the ground with around 50steps up.

Delhi Juma Masjid

Gate was just opened after the Prayers and the crowd was rushing. It was good to see all the English men wearing mundu and women wearing long gown. I saw a board that we can get the tickets to climb the minaret. I didn’t have to think again to get the tickets and climb up the minaret of the largest mosque in India. It was around 200 steps of which 50 are of 2 feet and remaining spiral steps inside the tomb. View from the top was worth climbing up. 

Juma Masjid Minaret which we climbed and took the below pic
View from the top of Juma Masjid Minar

Autowala was waiting for us and took us to Karim Hotel. I was expecting a normal hotel in Chandi Chowk. Big queue in front of the hotel surprised me and then I observed few certificates from BBC and National Geographic.

When i had Mutton Qorma and Roti, I understood why certificate was given. I had the best ever mutton from there. Cyclewala took back to the cab and we headed to India Gate.

India Gate

Perfect lighting from the sun and a good crowd. I heard few facts about India Gate from a guide. One of them which i was not aware was the Gate is maintained by Army, Navy and Air force in alternative three days. Saluted the martyrdom of the soldiers and we moved to Rashtrapathi Bavan.

Rashtrapathi Bhavan – South Block

We were not allowed to get inside the compound of the Bhavan. We just had a drive in the India Gate – Rashtrapathi Bavan road and headed toward Hazrat Nizamudheen.

Rashtrapathi Bhavan – India Gate Road

Visited Hazrat Nizamuddheen Dargha and returned to hotel. 10AM to 7:00PM and 95km covering Qutub Minar, Char Minar, Red Fort, Jama Masjid, India Gate, Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Hazrat Nizamudheen was our one day trip in Delhi. We had to visit Agra next day and we have no plans and we have no ideas too how to go for it. We went out for a walk in the night in the roads of Mahipalpur where we stayed. It was on the way to Airport and had only Hotels om the way. With no clue on how to visit Agra, we saw a travel agent and he offered 7000Rs for cab and 1500Rs for AC bus. We thought a bit and booked the bus as it was late night and we had no other options left. If i had working Interent I would have figured out something, but Airtel too set me up. We had to leave by 5:30 and plan was to reach back by midnight. 

We boarded on time at 5:30AM and was upset by seeing the bus. A normal pretty old pushback bus with AC. Got annoyed by waiting for two hours in city for people from different travel agents to reach the bus. Finally we left city at 7:30 and i fell asleep when we got into Yamuna Express way. I woke up hearing a loud noise something similar to a blast. Driver slowed down and saw that one of the rear tyre was blasted. It took almost an hour to change the tyre.

 I couldn’t sleep after that. Vehicles were speeding at 120+kmph. Our bus stopped near Mathura for breakfast in a dhaba. I had one of the most expensive and worst Idly there. 

We had to cover close to 80km to reach Agra. We reached Agra by 11:45AM and was stuck in traffic till 12:30PM near Agra fort. On the way near to Fort, Instructor got into the bus and started explaining the plan for the day. He was from the Tour operator and took us to  Agra Fort. 

Instructor introduced us to an old man who will be above 70 who will be our guide inside the fort.

He started with the history of the Fort. He stopped at regular intervals to explain about the importance and the history behind each building and gate inside the fort. After spending an hour inside the Fort we took few photos.

Agra Fort Entrance
Add caption
Panorama view of Agra Fort

It was 2PM by the time we left the Fort and was behind two hours of schedule. Next stop was at UP Handicraft Store where the salesman explained about the Taj Mahal demo sold in the streets and the genuineness of the same. He had lot varieties of Taj Mahal demos carved of real white marbles, which they claimed. They are priced from 250 to thousands. We had to stop for lunch even we were late. It took more time than expected to have lunch and move to Taj. We finally reached near the parking area about 1km from the gate. We were in eastern gate, one of the four gates. We hired a cyclewala to reach the entrance gate. Instructor had told about the weekend and diwali rush but I didn’t expect the queue to be a km long. We reached the gate by 4:20 and had to be in queue till 5:10PM to get inside. We had only few minutes left to see the World wonder as it will be dark after the sunset.

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal Gate

It was an amazing crowd there. Taj was amazing than I ever imagined. I have seen pictures and videos of Taj. None of them is far close to what it is. Amazingly awesome. 

After spending an hour around the wonder we moved to Mathura, Birth place of Lord Krishna. It was already dark and was tired too after long walk inside the Fort and Taj. Mathura and Vrindavan was covered in two hours and we stopped for dinner before we get into Yamuna express way. It was 11:45PM when we started after dinner.  I was soo tired that I fell asleep in that bus once we got into the expressway. It was 2:45 when we reached back the hotel. We had our flight to Hyderabad at 6:00AM and had to check out by 4:30AM. Delhi to Agra. 21 hours 600km and Taj.

By the time we freshened up and had a Masala Tea it was time to check out. We departed Delhi at 6:20AM 15th of November 2015. We landed at Hyderabad at 8 and had booked a hotel Shamsabad, near to Airport. We didn’t have any plans on how to go for site seeing in Hyderabad. We only new the places we had to visit. A cab driver offered to take us around the city to all the places that we planned and drop at hotel by evening. We started at 10 and headed to Golcanda Fort.

Golconda Fort
Golconda Fort in Panorama

One of the largest Fort in Southern India. It was about 3km in walk to cover few parts of the Fort and it was too sunny. Some of the places had shades which was  great relief. Highest point was a Durbar hall, that is what I heard from a guide there.  We spent around 90minutes in the Fort and headed to Birla Mandir. We had Bawarchi Biriyani on the way. It was not great as I expected but was better than many biriyanis in Bangalore. We had a quick visit to Birla Mandir and moved to Salarjung Museum.

We collected the Audio tour which costed 60Rs. Complete museum takes 3 hours and we were running short of time so we had to wind up in an hour. Museum had good collection of antique. I would say this was one of the best museum that i have seen till now. Audio Compass had the description of everything inside the museum. It was good to walk around when someone explains you everything. While returning the compass I realised that there is Smart Phone app for the same. Charminar and Mecca masjid was our next plan. Mecca masjid is one of the oldest mosque in the place.

Market view from the top of Charminar
Char Minar

Char Minar is next to Mecca Masjid. We had to climb up the stairs to get a view of the market around Charminar. Market had a very good crowd and street sellers. We reached back at hotel by 8 after having  Hyderabadi Biriyani from Hyderabad house. 


It was Monday 7.20AM when we landed in Bangalore Aiport. It was cloudy when we left Bangalore and it started raining when are back. 

North India Voyage

Skandagiri – A midnight Adventure ended at Hoganekkal

We planned to go to place called SKANDAGIRI,for a nite trek.Saturday evening we went to take the tent,then they told that someone died at the spot and securities are not permitting to go there,we were forced to drop the plan. I cancelled the vehicle that we had booked and returned to room.

All were totally mood off and was thinking whats next.We should go somewhere else the weekend Will be soo boring and dull.
We left the room at 11 pm.

We had no plan, we just took some dress and left to decide where to go on the way.

We had many options now,some of them was Ooty, wayanad, nelliyampathy,alapuzha,coorg, mysore, Goa, Hoganakkal ets..everyone had there own suggestion..

We got a tempo traveler r and we went to majestic,main bustand in Bangalore.

We reached there by 11:30. We bought some packets of cigars,few bought woollen hats, already we had jackets and sweaters.

We had no plan,we started discussing, majority opted for hoganekkal,but its only 4hrs journey,so if we leave now we will reach there by 3-4 am. We cant do anything that time. 

I opted that we will go SKANDAGIRI now, if they permits we will trek else we will go to hoganekkal in the morning,we went for a toss.

The funniest part is that we don’t have any vehicle,we have to relay on public transport. We need to go to place called chikbellapur and some one told that we have to wait till 4 am.


The great teacher, Google  suggested to take bus to anantapur or hyderabad and get down there. Buses to these places didn’t allow us to get in as we will get down on the way and they will miss 9 seats to Hyderabad.At last we managed to get into one bus. The time was 1:30.

When we reached the place called chikbellapur at 2:45 and when we get down there we were surprised to see the empty street, not a shop nor auto not even a human being, we waited for few minutes. 


Then we saw a cop there.. he was surprised to see us and he asked how come you guys are. Its 9km from here, he also told that some accident happened today morning.

Three engineering student fell from the peak and cops were searching for the body. 

He told us the way skandagiri, we decided to walk 9km knowing that is too much.. when we moved around 1km we saw an auto.. we were 9 people and auto had 2 guys, one driver and his friend, he was ready to carry all 11 in that. 

We managed to fit in that,it was adventurous with 11 guys in an auto, even minivans take only 8-9 peoples. 

We went for 3-4 km and we saw a crowd of 20-30 standing on the way. Police was not allowing them to go for trek.the auto guy suggested that he knows some other way, he can guide us and he Will charge for that.charge was like five star hotel charges.we were afraid that Will they take us to some place and loot us, even though we don’t have anything precious,our life is more than that rite. 

So we decided to return and we moved to NH 7.

A tea stall was opened there. We ordered 9 teas and lightedcigarette, before getting TEA and finishing the cigar a bus came and we left both there, cigars and tea.

I didnt sleep till 4 am, some guys had 1 hour sleep in bus when we went there. Now i too had around one hour sleep in bus and we reached back to majectic by 6 am.

We were thinking what is next. We decided to move to hoganekkal.

It is around 4-5 hours from Bangalore. Someone told that we Will not get bus to TamilNadu from here, we need to go to satellite bus stand or Kalassipalyam for that but i was sure that we will get the bus.

One and half years back when i came to Bangalore for the first time i had been to that bus. I guided the team to that place.

We came to know that we will not get direct buss to Hoganakkal, we need to get down at Dharmapuri bypass and from there to Hoganakkal.

Without having Breakfast we left Bangalore at 6:30am and was feeling hungry.

All of us fell asleep within 10 mins. Bus was not crowded so i went last seat and lied there.
Around 9:30 we reached place called Krishnagiri, we had breakfast from there.

Masala dosa we had was too big, some one told that its facebook masaladosa. Whole bus was waiting for us to finish our breakfast. Peoples in the bus were so patient to wait for, no one complained. 

The road was simply superb, i loved to ride in that road in a monsoon evening with my girlfriend.

We reached Dharmapuri bypass around 10am. We took some snaps from there.

We got a bus to Hoganekkal, was too crowded and reached the spot in another 1 hour.

the place was crowded with local women selling fresh fried river fish, which is the main dish over there and lots of chiks there, they had husbands or boyfriends with them, if single they will not be good looking.

We booked a room there to,changed our dress and moved towards the main spot there, NIAGRA FALLS OF INDIA.


Coracle ride is the main attraction over there, we came to know about this place after Mohanlal movie, NARAN.


We had to negotiate really hard to get the Coracle for reasonable and no one can beat KT alias FAISAL in negotiating in Tamil and Kannada. He even mentioned Mullaperiyar in the talk. The local guy guided us to so called THALIVAR, KT has to hug him. Finally we got into two coracle, 5 in one and 4 in other. We took it for 2 hours and when we reached one end he was to return and we had a long talk with the driver agreed to take 2 hour more but for some extra money. The voyage was really awesome with colors in other coracle and beautiful water falls.

There was moving chat shop in the river. It was 2 pm and was soo hungry. We reached a place where we have take 15 mins walk to reach the other side. On the way we decided to have some food actually not food, only fried fish we had. There too KT has to fight with the women selling fish. Jaffar was the photographer with so called 75K camera(Who knows 🙂 ) Badru was too busy in posing with hands in Pockets. Naafi , Rahmath and Shafeek was scanning girls here and there others too did (naseef and bablu had their own talent in that)…. RAMANNA the coracle driver showed where you will find these colors more. While posing for Photo at one point i slipped and i thought guys will put RIP on me. Thank god that i was able hold some rocks there, else my FB status would have been ‘Died’. 


Around 3:30 we get down from boat to water. That was real fun with big crowd in the high current water. 

There were guys and gal having Drinks from the river. Shafeek started showing his ‘ABHYASA MURAKAL’ there and we had done a sand pooja on Shafeek and me. Still i am not able to remove that sand from my track pocket.

even though there was current but not deep. It made Naseef to swim in ease.


We spent almost 1 hour in water there and was time to return.

We went back to room and dressed and we all set to go.

We choose different route than we came. New route was to Hosur and was through a small jungle.

The journey was really awesome in that night.

It was hard for two vehicles to go in that road. I don’t know how these drivers manages to go through that way. 

We reached Hosur at 10 and and Dynasty by 11.

Heavy food from Dynasty made us sleepy and was few meters away from our bed.



Skandagiri – A midnight Adventure ended at Hoganekkal

പ്രിയ കൂട്ടുകാരി

മരണം എന്നു കേള്‍ക്കുമ്പോള്‍ മനസ്സിലെവിടെയോ വിങ്ങല്‍. പ്രിയമുളളതെന്തോ നഷ്ടമായതിന്‍റെ ഓര്‍മ്മകള്‍…. പണ്ടെന്നോ ഉതിര്‍ന്നു വറ്റിയ കണ്ണുനീര്‍ത്തുളളികള്‍ പുനര്‍ജനിക്കും പോലെ.. ഉളളിലൊതുക്കേണ്ടി വന്ന നൂറു നൂറു സങ്കടങ്ങള്‍ അണപൊട്ടിയൊഴുകുന്ന പോലെ… എന്‍റെ പ്രിയപ്പെട്ട കൂട്ടുകാരി… ഞാനിപ്പോഴും നിന്നെ ഓര്‍ക്കുന്നു. മഞ്ഞുതുളളികള്‍ നിറഞ്ഞ പ്രഭാതത്തിന്‍റെ അവ്യക്തതയിലൂടെ വിഷാദം നിറഞ്ഞ ചിരിയുമായി നടന്നു വരുന്ന നിന്നെ, ആ ചിരിക്കുളളില്‍ നിറഞ്ഞു നിന്ന സങ്കടം, എല്ലാം ഞാനറിയുന്നുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. എന്നിട്ടും എന്തേ നീയെന്നെ അറിയാതെ പോയി.. നിനക്കു കൂട്ടായി എന്തു സങ്കടത്തിലും നിനക്കു താങ്ങായ് ഞാനുണ്ടാവും എന്നു ഞാന്‍ പറഞ്ഞതല്ലേ… കരഞ്ഞുകൊണ്ട് നീയെന്‍റെ കൈകളില്‍ മുറുകെ പിടിച്ചത്.. എല്ലാം ഇന്നും ഞാനോര്‍ക്കുന്നുണ്ട് കണ്ണീരിന്‍റെ നനവോടെ. എന്‍റെ വാക്കുകള്‍ക്കര്‍ഥം നല്‍കാന്‍ നിനക്കെന്തേ കഴിയാതെ പോയി. നിന്‍റെ സങ്കടം ഞാനറിയാതെ പോയി എന്നു നീ കരുതിയോ. ഇന്നും മങ്ങിയ സായം സന്ധ്യ കാണുമ്പോള്‍…

ആളൊഴിഞ്ഞ വഴിത്താര കാണുമ്പോള്‍.. നിന്നെ ഞാന്‍ ഓര്‍ത്തു പോകാറുണ്ട്. നിന്‍റെ നഷ്ടം എന്നെ കരയിക്കാറുണ്ട്.. കരയുവാന്‍ കഴിയാത്ത നിശബ്ദ നിമിഷങ്ങളില്‍ നീ എന്നോടൊപ്പമുണ്ട്. നീയറിയുന്നുവോ മരിക്കുവാന്‍ വളരെയെളുപ്പമാണ്. ഒരു നിമിഷം മതി. പക്ഷെ ജീവിക്കാന്‍.. സങ്കടങ്ങള്‍ കരയാതെ തീര്‍ക്കാന്‍.. തെറ്റു പറ്റിയാല്‍ അവയോര്‍ത്തു കരയാതിരിക്കാന്‍… ബന്ധങ്ങള്‍ ചങ്ങലക്കെട്ടുകളാകുമ്പോള്‍ അവ പൊട്ടിച്ചെറിഞ്ഞ് എങ്ങോട്ടെങ്കിലും ഓടിപ്പോകാതിരിക്കാന്‍… പ്രിയപ്പെട്ടവര്‍ ഒന്നു കൈ വീശിക്കാണിച്ച് അല്ലെങ്കില്‍ ഒരു വാക്കു പോലും പറയാതെ ദൂരേക്കു നടന്നു പോകുമ്പോള്‍… കരള്‍ പൊട്ടിപ്പിളരുന്ന വേദന ഉളളിലൊതുക്കാന്‍… കണ്ണുനീര്‍ നമുക്കന്യമാണെന്നഭിനയിച്ചു പിടിച്ചു നില്‍ക്കാന്‍… ഒക്കെയും ഒരുപാടു പ്രയാസമാണ്. സത്യം മരിക്കാന്‍ എളുപ്പമാണ്. ജീവിക്കാനാണു പ്രയാസം…

ഇടവഴിയിലെവിടെയോ എന്നെത്തനിച്ചാക്കി സ്വയം വഴിപിരിഞ്ഞു പോയ പ്രിയ കൂട്ടുകാരി.. നിനക്കു വേണ്ടി…


പ്രിയ കൂട്ടുകാരി

blessed hand

And when we are alone in the darkness,

a virtual soft hand that holds tightly,

makes you feel you are not alone,

that hands are hands of hope,

not all are blessed to have this,

and blessed are not always cared of it,

those hands make us feel we are something,

sometimes everything ,

may be the destiny,

may be the fate,

for me i have such a blessed hand.

blessed hand