Fujiyama, Japan

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Golkonda Fort

Google Maps: Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, India
  • Golconda Fort is a major attraction of Hyderabad. Trek to the top on an October morning is heavenly. The whole city is visible.
  • Take as little baggage as possible. Take water and some food. The top of fort is a huge terrace where one can sit and relax for hours.
  • A digression from main path will take you to one of the edges from where view of the city is uninterrupted. Steep fall below and chill air with the landscape in front is a view to behold.

We visited Golkonda Fort first thing in the morning. Still it was 11. Thanks to the incessant rainfall for last four days, the air will chilly and there was ample greenry around. In front of us was the grand Golkonda, famous for its sound system.

Golkonda Fort

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Charminar

Google Maps: Charminar, Hyderabad, India
  • Hyderabad is a crowded city. Most important roads lead to Charminar and are perennially congested. Most of the good hotels are in Banjara Hills area.
  • Charminar, Chowmahalla Palace, Mecca Masjid and central market are all stone throw to each other. One can spend full day exploring these and trying hyderabadi delicacies around.
  • Paradise Hotel famous for the Hyderabadi Biryani is nearby. So is Karachi Bakery, famous for the fruit cookies.

Charminar is a charming relic of rich old Hyderabad. The imposing tower sits at the centre of city at a cross-road that is perennially crowded. We reached simultaneously at around 4 PM, one coming from periphery of the city, other from the airport. It was the most apt place to meet in Hyderabad. Quickly we submitted our heavy bags at a nearby cloak room as bags are not allowed inside Charminar. It made movement easy.

Charminar, Hyderabad

Friday, 17 June 2016

Darjeeling

Google Maps: Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
  • You need to walk a lot given the traffic situation in Darjeeling. Tea estate will take a good half day. Toy train will take another half. Carry an umbrella for sure.
  • Glenary's is a complete food destination. A restaurant at the top and a bar at the bottom complement the bakery at the ground floor. Sit at the balcony and enjoy a pastry.
  • Avoid Tiger Hill. The itinerary is too tiresome - waking up at 3 and counting on a clear sky is too much for a cloudy Darjeeling.
Darjeeling was once the queen of hill stations. The world heritage toy train was a marvel. The tea estates were part of many a travel wishlists. No more. Old buildings, dirty narrow walkways and congested roads support a crowd of tourist who come to see the glorious town of old but leave disappointed.

Happy Valley Tea Estate

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Namchi

Google Maps: Namchi, Sikkim, India
  • Take a cab to cover Samdruptse and Char Dham. They are in opposite directions so it will take couple hours each to cover them. We paid 10$ for this.
  • Stay in Namchi although its a small city. A better plan is to move to Darjeeling or Gangtok and spend the evening there. Both are three hours away from Namchi.
  • Start early if you are not staying at Namchi. Late in the evening the availability of transport options to move out of the city simply dry up.
Namchi came up on tripadvisor as one of the top five destinations within Sikkim. It was roughly on our way from Gangtok to Darjeeling so we went for it. How wrong we were. Not that Namchi disappointed us, but the road from Namchi to Darjeeling is so much in tatters that we were jittery all the way.

Shiva Statue, Namchi

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Tsomgo

Google Maps: Tsomgo, Sikkim, India
  • Nathula is closed on Monday and documents are to be submitted (including passport size photographs) one day in advance so plan accordingly.
  • Better come with warm clothes else you will have to take reused ones on rent. The trip goes to a height of 14k feet. At this altitude even oxygen is thin.
  • Go for the bunker of Baba Harbhajan Singh beyond Kupup. There is shrine much before the bunker where most people go but thats not real.
A trip to Nathu La is expected when you visit Gangtok. We didn't take it. In fact we crossed Nathu La from a mile and didn't take it. We were told its overhyped - being one of the three motorable roads to China from India does not mean you will see something out of the world. Instead we went for the farthest village called Kupup beyond which lies the shrine of soldier Harbhajan Singh.

Tsomgo Lake

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Gangtok

Google Maps: Gangtok, Sikkim, India
  • Book an early flight to Bagdogra and take a cab from there for Gangtok. Else you will reach late and tired and the day will be lost. Cover Banjhakri Waterfalls on first evening. Its refreshing.
  • Cover the three viewpoints and MG Road on second day. You may want to cover one of the monasteries (Rumtek, Ranka) the same day.
  • Sikkim Rum is a local brand which has become quite famous. Numerous shops sell it on MG Road. Try it with pastries from Baker's Cafe.
As we settled on our table in the restaurant located on the top floor of a hotel, hunger became secondary. Across the window the clouds were playing with mountains and our entire span of view was filled with this landscape. It was our introduction with Gangtok and I immediately fell to it.

View of Gangtok from Ganesh Tok

Friday, 8 January 2016

Patna Sahib

Google Maps: Gurudwara Sahib, Bihar, India
  • The road from Patna to Patna Sahib is congested and busy with limited parking facility. Start early or take a train to Patna City and from there take an auto-rickshaw.
  • A walk to holy Ganges through Kangan Ghat is a good idea but takes some time as the river has receded further.
  • Visit Agam Kuan and Kumharar en route, famous for events related to Emperor Ashoka who used to run his vast empire from Patliputra.

It may sound strange that I was born and brought up in Patna and yet I never visited Patna Sahib before. The birth place of the Tenth Sikh Guru Govind Singh is something I was not keen to keep out of my blog for long. Hence the visit this winter was a relief.

Inside Patna Sahib

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Tehri

Google Maps: Tehri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, India
  • Tehri is only fifty miles from Rishikesh through a spectacularly tortuous road. We happened to be in Mussoorie which is equidistant but uphill.
  • The relocated town of New Tehri is unique  and on the way. It is reminiscent of the historic town that had to be flooded to provide for the reservoir dam.
  • Tehri is growing into a water-sport hub at Koti. Don't miss the speed boating at Tehri reservoir among the high hills.

The road to Tehri is among the most tortuous one. A whole living city was dismantled and rehabilitated to accommodate a man made reservoir. New Tehri in that sense is a rare specimen of human ingenuity. It was close to noon when we passed the strikingly uniform houses of this city. Our destination, however, was a place called Panch Koti at the banks of Tehri dam.

Expanse of Tehri Reservoir

Friday, 1 January 2016

Kanatal

Google Maps: Kanatal, Uttarakhand, India
  • Kanatal is less than 30 miles from Mussoorie via Dhanaulti. Start from Mussoorie after lunch so you don't miss the sunset.
  • Its good for an overnight stay with and a short trek in the morning, covering both sunrise and sunset.
  • Tehri dam is another 30 miles and is a must visit. Stay at Rishikesh on the way or take a holy dip in Haridwar if you are returning to Delhi.

It was dusk when we reached Kanatal. The setting sun was throwing vibrant colors across the horizon and to add to that beautiful hue were snow capped mountains on one side and deep valley on the other side. One can come to Kanatal just to spend the evening.

A view from Kanatal

Everest House

Google Maps: George Everest House, Uttarakhand , India
  • Road to Everest House is little tattered. Take left from Library End of Mussoorie as the road is better from this side compared to Company Bagh side.
  • Trek to the peak near Everest House is recommended although it takes upto couple hours uphill and down.
  • Snacks and beverages are available. Best time of day to visit is between breakfast and lunch in the morning half. 

Everest House is one of the treasures that Mussoorie keeps for the travel worthy. You have to look for it to find it. A tortuous drive, digression to a broken path and a small trek will take you to the house of Sir George Everest and you will rejoice the moment as if you have found a treasure.

Everest House