Fujiyama, Japan

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Kyoto

Google Maps: Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Kyoto is beautiful. At the heart of Japan, nestled with temples, spotted with shrines and bifurcated by a river, the city is duly called the spiritual capital of Japan. We reached Kyoto through a super fast train from Osaka early morning and immediately started moving towards the Kinkaku-ji Temple. It is one of the showstoppers among the famous temples of Kyoto. Known for the gold-leaf structure and located at the centre of a placid lake, the temple was indeed teeming with selfie lovers as we arrived.

Kinkaku-ji Temple

Monday, 26 June 2017

Universal Studios Japan (USJ)

Google Maps: Universal Studios, Osaka, Japan
First thing first. You cannot cover all at Universal Studios Japan (USJ) without a plan. So here is step by step guide to help you.

1. Reach USJ by 8.30AM. Based on inbound crowd, the entry time changes between 8AM and 9AM. Avoid weekends & holidays because they attract both tourists and locals. Best days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Buy tickets in advance through www.usj.co.jp or in worse case counter. There are two tickets. One is the Studio Pass for entry, the other is Express Pass (optional but strongly recommended) for selective rides.

Universal Studios Japan Map

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima

Google Maps: Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima
A grim reminder of human ineptitude to be the dominant species on this planet, the Atomic Bomb Dome of Hiroshima was nothing but graceful in its presence. We were in Hiroshima on a sunny Sunday afternoon without much fuss or spend. A distance of more than 200 miles was covered in a bullet train in less than two hours and then a loop bus took us to the Imperial Palace for free thanks to our JR Pass.

Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima

Miyajima, Japan

Google Maps: Miyajima, Japan
The ferry transported us to another world. The matter-of-factly Japan somehow vanished across half the mile of sea as we entered Miyajima. In front of us was a green island with lofty mountains that invited you for a trek. The foothills were not bad either - the gigantic orange coloured Grand Torii Gate being the crown jewel. We were told this was one of the top three most scenic spots in entire Japan. I believe it now.

Grand Torii, Miyajima


Saturday, 24 June 2017

Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan)

Google Maps: Kaiyukan, Osaka
Coming soon

Shark Whale, Kaiyukan

Friday, 23 June 2017

Diabutsu, Kamakura

Google Maps: Daibutsu, Kamakura
It always makes sense to visit the nearest beach-town on a sunny weekend and that is what we planned during our stay at Tokyo. Yuigahama Beach is an hour away from Tokyo. There was a direct train from close to our hotel to Kamakura and a 15 min walk from Kamakura station to Yuigahama. On the way we got feedback from a friendly lady on how wonderful the walk is from Kita-Kamakura to Kamakura. It was a good idea. The series of temples and a garden dedicated to the hydrangeas were delightful.

Daibutsu, Kamakura

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Disneyland, Tokyo

Google Maps: Disneyland, Tokyo, Japan
Disneyland was a dream destination. Since our JR Pass was not getting activated till next day and this was a top attraction in Tokyo we went for it. It didn't go too well. Firstly Disneyland is for kids and secondly it rained. Although some of the rides like the roller coaster became more fun, the whole experience was a bummer.

Disneyland, Tokyo

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Tokyo

Google Maps: Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is among the most sorted capital cities that you will find on this planet. You land at Haneda or Narita and you will start finding visual aids to help you in right direction. Displayed on floors, walls or electronic boards, you just need to have eyes and a mind to find these instructions and you can cover entire city. Google Maps is handy in a broader way. There are information centres at almost every busy node to help you out in case. We landed at Narita and took a Skyliner to Nippori. Another train to Kanda from Nippori and we were checking in at our hotel room within three hours of landing - which included immigration checks, baggage checks, collecting data sim & pocket wifi, getting our JR Pass and collecting our pre-booked Skyliner tickets from airport.

Tokyo from Metropolitan Building

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Devprayag

Google Maps: Devaprayag, Uttarakhand, India
  • Devprayag is a half day trip from Rishikesh although to be fair, it needs a full day to appreciate the drive and the point. 
  • Roads are in perfect condition and well managed. There are very few good restaurants and no petrol pump before Devprayag so plan accordingly. 
  • The river Ganges flow to your right all the way to Devprayag which throws multiple viewpoints to saviour. Take a break now and then and appreciate the work of mother nature on these hills.
Devprayag is one of those gems that are not hidden but surrounded by bigger gems and hence ignored. In itself it is worthy of a day trip as we figured while standing at the merging point of two distinctly coloured rivers. The holy incantations and energetic crowd only help create a captivating zone around this point which is in a shape of cake slice.

View of Devprayag from top

Monday, 10 April 2017

Shivpuri

Google Maps: Shivpuri, Uttarakhand, India
  • Shivpuri is home to rafting. White sand river-side used to be perfect for camping as well although recently that has been prohibited by Green Tribunal.
  • Stay at a nearby resort or makeshift camps close to Ganges. It is better than Rishikesh for those who come to avoid the hustle of city.
  • Rishikesh is 20 minutes drive from here. You can plan for evening aarti and dinner at chotiwala and comfortably come back by 9.

We reached Rishikesh at 2 and immediately hit traffic. The way Rishikesh has developed, a bypass merges into the city right at the middle of the busiest road. We crawled and reached Shivpuri at 3. To our utter disappointment, the riverside camps were moved sideways away from the Ganges. Now it attracted mostly bachelors. We decided to go back to Rishikesh but found a good resort called Bull's Retreat close by.

View from near Bull's Retreat Resort

Monday, 6 March 2017

Chail

Google Maps: Chail, Himachal Pradesh, India
  • Visit during March-April for 3 days. Nights are cold but it is less crowded and more pleasant weather wise.
  • Stay at Chail Palace for a royal experience. Plan a visit to nearby market for lunch as the lazy morning and cold evening are mostly to be spent inside the resort.
  • Drive / trek to Kali Tibba, Cricket Ground and Wildlife Sanctuary. Chail is small town for a relaxing weekend. 

Taking a detour from Kandaghat, it takes one hour to reach Chail - a small hill town near Shimla. Being small works in favour for those seeking seclusion amid a decent infrastructure. We had booked two rooms in the Himneel Block of Chail Palace which is an actual palace converted into a hill resort by the Himachal Tourism. We were the only ones staying in this block and the sense of freedom this gave us was a very happy one.

Sunset from Chail Palace

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Top 5 travel circuits from Delhi

Google Maps: New Delhi, India
  • Delhi-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Bharatpur-Mathura-Vrindavan-Delhi
  • Delhi-Sariska-Jaipur-Ajmer-Neemrana-Delhi
    • Delhi-Haridwar-Mussoorie-Kanatal-Tehri-Rishikesh-Delhi
    • Delhi-Jim Corbett-Nainital-Mukteshwar-Delhi
    • Delhi-Chandigarh-Kasauli-Shimla-Kufri-Chail-Delhi

    Delhi-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Bharatpur-Mathura-Vrindavan-Delhi
    • Can be covered in 2 days flat 
    • Includes 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites 
    • Stay overnight at Bharatpur, near the gates of Keoladeo National Park

    Bharatpur Bird Sactuary