Cow Tourism?

This kind of scenarios are now becoming fewer day by day in India, where still majority population lives in villages and small towns. The beauty of country side has been changing with times and urbanisation has spread its wings wider then ever.

This beautiful scene used to be part of daily lives which I cant remember when I spotted it latest before. Hope people realise progress does mean to kill local inhabitant and traditional economy but to proper with inclusive growth.

Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi is trying to make the economy work and his right wing party and other associated groups are making bru-ha-ha over trivial issue including beef at the same time, cows are loosing their numbers to plastic, malnourishment and other related issues. Time will tell what actually happens though for now we can contributing in cow tourism.  We will be able to help them I hope.

This town, located in Rajasthan, has a lot to offer for a person who is willing to go places off the tourist map and willing to experience the life beyond. You can witness dravidian style temple without going to Southern India,  Can make cow dung cake yourself, Can feed a cow, Can be fed by cow milk, making huts in ancient Indian Style, making food in ancient Indian style are few of them, Let me know if you like to do.

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When I thought of being with colour Yellow – 3

I have been little, okay damn lazy for updating this pace, however there you go with third and last installation of my date with Amritsar.

I felt “hypnotisingly” happy, if Queen allow this word, the moment I set my eyes on the dome of the temple. It’s colour, Golden, mesmerised me and I sat down at a spot to just watch it for some time. It was peaceful. After marvelling on beauty of the place for some time which I did not realised became 2 hours or so. I decided to go and have a talk with the holy seat.

Taking a bath right before the teté a teté with the Primal Seat in the Gurudwara Sarovar was great experience which made me awakened me from a trance. I went right in front of Sahib and spent some time.

When I came to my senses, Sun was already on its way to glory and my stomach started asking for the day’s installament. I headed out towards lane of the eatery right outside the gurudwara and quenched my need with a Patiala style glass of Lassi which is great Indian yogurt based sweet drink.

During the Lassi time, It was a great conversation time with the guy who managed that place. I came to know how much this place was inportant for local economy as well. Tourist viait thia place from every part od the globe and they some try his Lassi. His generations had been doing it and how it was honour to be in vicinity of the Holy Seat.

I took leave from him and went to Jallianwala Bagh which has a tragic history. Spent some time there breathing in the history,one can watch informative movie administration showcase there and get to know details of the place and event took place there.

Then on it was time for some dramatics filled with Nationalism, Yes, I am talking about the daily ritual at Vagha Border Post, where one of the most thrilling event happens as closing ceremony of the Border Gates between India & Pakistan.

I reached there oblivious to the fact that the place get full of people in no time and its difficult to get a good seat if you are little early for the ceremony. Nonetheless I knew how to make my way in that crowd as usual and I got to watch whole ceremony with a weird feel good sense.

The whole ceremony portrayed many aspect of both of the sides including rivalry, common history, recent conflicts etc. Both the sides want to outmatch each other in the way they perform the ceremony.

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Ceremony @ Vagha Border

Ceremony @ Vagha Border

It took me few good ten minutes to recover from the euphoria I was engulfed in by the whole ceremony and to realise my date with Amritsar was coming to an end and I needed to head back to Delhi. I took same PunBus state service which safely transported me back to daily life from an usual day filled with spiritualism, nationalism, history, cuisines and what not. Memory worth archived. Thank you Amritsar.

A City of Smells – Kolkata

Yes, you read it right but there is nothing to be judgemental about it trust me on that, every city has fair share of smells but so far in my wandering tales, Kolkata triumphs them all. I have been to few cities by now and one of them, Mumbai tops the TNT magazine list of smelliest city and ranks seventh in GQ list of smelliest city though I would think these guys probably missed Kolkata in their search.

Being smelly is one thing but is it for good or bad that arguable topic among masses. I would rather not get there but let see how Kolkata become stinky city for me. What, do I have a story, well I have many stories but here I would put a summary which won’t take long of your time.

The moment you are entering Kolkata by any means that Jal ( Water), Thal ( Earth) or Nabh ( Air) you smell it off ( Ok, technically little later when entering by Air ) a distinct smell of crap welcomes you ( however it is true for many other big cities in India) but dont be afraid this is just the starting. You get down by bus/ train station platforms are decked with fruits stalls, eatable and you catch whiff of all the delicacies you possibly won’t indulge in due to hygiene issues.

All the picture is not dark though try entering any eatery and aroma of food served on other table will catch your imagination. There are many gardens in the city which will be good visit and of course will serve the purpose of nice fragrance.

Local Vegetable Market!

After getting this grand welcome you have already planned to roamed around all over the cities and probably suburbs as well. If you are a budget traveller and decide to take local trains to commute with in the city you are in for battle of smells. Every station ( well, I have not checked all of them but most of them I have been personally ) has fish/chicken market right before the entrance. Every body knows how fish smells, enter the train and due to being a humid city all the people including your self will be shedding gallons of sweat. Ah again, smell.

Whatever kind of smell you encounter during your stay, pleasant or unpelasant, at the end of the day it won’t matter, as you would breathing in Kolkata  and exhaling it out too. This smell of being Kolkata is amazing and unforgettable which you make a joyous and in the city of joy. You would certainly think of coming back to Kolkata.

Kolkata – A City, Harvesting Memories

“City of Joy”, yeah, thats the name Kolkata has reserved for it self which had me curious to know what is it which makes people joyous. Specially in a state of India which has been allegedly marred with 34 years of communist rules and has not seen economic development as much as other Big states of India. More over current government has also been considered anti development.

Wonder, it made me. I read in my history books and later on by internet resources how glorious & wealthy Bengal used to be. So what made the state whatever it is today however what keeps the resident still joyous. Are people too oblivious to think about the ground realities? or there can be a way to be joyous? I had my mind swarmed with a lot of anticipations.

This time when I arrived Kolkata, my train was late by almost two hours which delayed my discourse by same duration of course. I was about to see how most of has Indian Railway self time stamped here. Being an early morning commuter has it’s own advantages and one them is, of meeting minimalistic traffic on the way which reduced my travel time from expected 2 hours to 1.25 hours making me joyous.

Ah, I already started feeling joyous.

After finished pleasantries with current day, I left for Kolkata city’s one time less monument Victoria Memorial (VM) hoping to find answer of some of the questions I had in my mind. How purile it was of me, I came to know later.

On the way to VM we took several different transports which ranges from Three wheeler to Train to Metro. We could also take one bus ride though we thought of walking a little bit.

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One of the modes of public transport on Kolkata.

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Kolkata local train!

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Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial

It had me dumb founded to see the grandeur and grace of the monument and I went into a mental trance & just looked at it for some time and marvelled on it. We our tickets and ventured in the structure to witness British Era history of Kolkata and India, how grand Kolkata or then Calcutta used to be, how this city had participated in history of India and had been one of the places of importance and later how bifurcation of India inflicted this city by poverty and refugees from all over eastern Bengal now known as Bangladesh.

Historian often mentioned how Delhi has been robed over and over several time but to me, it felt Kolkata just got once and it left it a bird without its features, not able to take off again or so to say.

After spending good couple of hours we left still carrying original question which were about to be answered. We took metro back to our place and I heard two passenger talking about recent events including political, social and economical importance to city and while they talking about few most frustrating events (according to them ) they were actually cheerful whole throughout the conversation. I touched holy grail of Kolkata.

Not taking life and reality too seriously is the mantra Kolkata adopt to stay joyous.

Victoria Memorial

Sculpture at Victoria Memorial

Kolkata Chronicles – Inception

There are times when we think and there are times we think again, again and again and again. There topics can be bone of contention, happy memories, future plans and so on however the topic which we tend to think more often then not are things/activities we always wanted to do but could not for some or other reason!

Kolkata has been one such topic for me and here I go to Kolkata now! I have been to rustic city twice before once for work and once just for visiting and aquatinting the city, however it had been long time now like 3-4 years and I am not willing to write those experiences anymore for obvious reasons.

When I visited Kolkata, I found the city can not be described in word howsoever one can try. Albeit try we will for same. Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta is a city in ruins which used to be centre of attraction from each and every possible way, be it Politic, Economic, Art or Culture and arguably remained so for long time span that was 700 – 900 years.

Kolkata I saw had old and frail buildings, some new one though too far & few, comparatively. Only City in India so far where I saw soccer grounds in centre of residential complexes. It felt like I was talking to old granny who had seen a lot many autumns then anybody could imagine while having a grace which only comes with spending time surrounded with gracious things art, literature, wealth, wisdom and of course character.

I wanted to come to the city again but for what I did not know ( as usual ) but there came one of the friend to save me when he offered to host me for my Kolkata sojourns and expressed his desire to participate in #FreedomRUN2015 being organised in Kolkata on Aug 16, 2015 as part of Independence Day celebration. I could not smiling on the timing of the opportunity as I was already thinking about going there following reasons:

1. Rain Rain Rain : West Bengal is drenched with rainfall and weather has become awesome, I hear.

2. #FreedomRUN2015: Well, what a way to celebrate Independence of my country.

3. Train Reservation: Yes, this can be a reason for going anywhere as it is difficult to get reservation in time with Indian Railway. Any doubt about that? Try booking your tickets.

4. I have been organising travellers meet ups and one such meet up is now in Kolkata which Kolkata Couch Surfing people has welcomed, it would be a great opportunity to meet more travel minded people.

5. Traveller or not, everybody should visit Kolkata at least once just to watch the grandeur it used to be.

The picture from my first journey

Ah! Kolkata!!

Ah! Kolkata!!

So Kolkata, here I come!

Sikkim & Bhutan – Epilogue & Acknowledgement

It had been great time during these two weeks when we kept exploring one place after another and Himalayan beauty kept us mesmerised and shocked me at some points when I could not even my eyes open for some time due to abundance of sun light and all over reflection by snow.

Sikkim is one of least explored region in India is seems and as and when one approach Northern parts of Sikkim, it goes on to become more and more tranquil and peaceful. I envisioned to do cycling in this region someday.

Simplistic life style but great awareness of nature in Bhutanese people is admirable, I saw couple of cleanliness drives where people were picking plastics from road side to keep area clean. It is mandatory for government officials to wear national dress of Bhutan and that make it more beautiful.

I heard Bhutanese music sometimes during our taxi drives and like quite few of the track though I dont understand them.

Sikkim & Bhutan was not our plan initially but thats what was fated to us. Yes, you have read it right, it was not a solo journey. It would be stupid of me to finish this series with out writing about my dear friend, great writer, amazing photographer, not so regular blogger,  and travel partner on this journey.

Insignia or Bindu is the person who made this journey possible in first place. When we came to about fall out of Philippines plan, it was not a good feeling to say the least but then shit happens.

We discussed many destinations in few days and after going through I-dont-know-how-many-places Bhutan is what we could book tickets for. At this point I did not know a things about Bhutan as it was a last moment decision.

She took it in her hands probably to make most out it and I have already had my faith placed in her when it comes to travel, after who would not do that with a person who has already travelled 15+ countries and 160+ cities.

During whole journey she had been always ahead of the time and knew where are we going next day and covering what all destinations along with at least preliminary information about the places.

I know I can not thank her enough for all that she has done however I hope for more journey with her as my thank you gesture. 🙂

Insignia!

Insignia!

             You can read more about her travelogue and other stuffs here

Sikkim & Bhutan -20

Hello all, This is post is about our last couple of days while coming back from Sikkim & Bhutan but you can read here what all we have done so far.

Planning & Research Courtesy: Insignia

After visiting Punakha Dzong , which the most beautiful Monastery so far I have seen, It felt so nice at to finish the journey with a beautiful note. We returned to Thimpu after that and relaxed next day while exploring some remaining place like Post Office.

Post Office, Thimpu!

Post Office, Thimpu!

We got our personalised stamp here. I got clicked by the post office personal and she returned beautiful postal stamps with Bhutan in back ground. These stamps can be used for postal purpose.

It was a good day to relax and have coffee and eat after marathon of 15 days, however we did not rush our journey any where but still joy of just being and not having next destination in mind, sleeping and then eating again is amazing. It costed us couple of places at the end but one place for which I would definitely go back to Bhutan probably would be Bumthang, which also houses a National Park. Nevertheless that would be for some other day.

Next day we bought our drive back to Phuntsoling by Toyota Coasters which was mentioned in arrival post as well but now you can take look too.

Toyota Coaster Bus in Thimpu

Toyota Coaster Bus in Thimpu

Exiting Bhutan!!

Exiting Bhutan!!

After reaching to Jaigaon. India we explored local shop for couple of hours before resuming our journey to Siliguri, West Bengal. It took whole and next day we had our flight back from Bagdogra Airport.

IGI Airport Delhi!

IGI Airport Delhi!

We had great time during this journey exploring Darjeeling, Gangtok, North Sikkim, Thimpu, Paro, Punakha. We did not cover all places those are normally mentioned in travel guides but we are content with what we did. I personally hope I get more chances to come to this region few more times as it is a wonder place to trek and be with nature.

I hope it was my introduction to the region and there many more to come.

So what the this journey has come to its end part but we have some more things to discuss yet and you will see that in next post.

Lake!!

Well, I hope you all knew there are few water bodies in Delhi and here it is one of them.

Naini Lake!

Naini Lake!

I was surprised to see a lake in Delhi and thought the residents around it must be fortunate one. Well, only resident can say about that but this shot, I thought, was worth a chance.

Other Related Post:  SymbolsAn Evening!!

An Evening!!

An Evening in New Delhi!

An Evening in New Delhi!

Sikkim & Bhutan -12

So far we roamed in Darjeeling, Checkout Gangtok

Explored North Sikkim District.

Planning & Research Courtesy : Insignia

We headed to local Bus & Taxi Stop to enquire about transport to Jaigaon ( India) /Phuentsholing ( Bhutan) and after gathering information about our next days plan, we came back and surfed the local market, prepared for the paper work for Immigration at Bhutan Border and called it a day.

Hotel’s front desk person Mr. Vishesh was very kind who woke us up and asked a shared
taxi to wait for us for some time while we get ourselves together along with our stuff and get loaded into the cab.

We reached Siliguri by noon and then there after took a bus to Jaigaon which is last village at India – Bhutan Border on Indian side. Many people may not find this bus journey very nice and it might be advisable to hire a cab for comfort tourists.

It took us around four and half hour & three different mode of transport ( Shared Taxi, Bus, Shared Tuktuk)  to reach Jaigaon and we were lucky to reach in time for immigration office, Phuentsholing. Phuentsholing is the town on Bhutan Side, separated by a concrete wall from Jaigaon, India.

Indian nationals can just walk in without any hassle and get their permit done at immigration office. It took us almost half an hour to get our permits and start to Hotel hunting

The Gate at Indo- Bhutan Border.

The Gate at Indo- Bhutan Border from Bhutan Side

Ahh! We are in Bhutan now and hell! We see it all around us. Roads, dresses, buildings, people, Vehicle registration plates everywhere. It was our turn to get introduced with Bhutan and we did it nicely with a Bhutanese dinner at a local restaurant.We had Datsi among other Bhutanese dishes of soupy noodles, which is made in Yak butter and potatoes. It was tasty and filling.

Before going for dinner we checked into a hotel had some rest (if you take a bus ride to Jaigaon you are definitely going to need it). I even had a bath to get fresh feeling which turned out to be great idea as we roamed around a bit in Phuentsholing after dinner to check for local bus stand to get going to Thimpu next morning.

After saying good bye to Indian border we slept to start for amazing journey ahead.

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To know more about Bhutan, keep reading , stay happy!!!