Udaipur: Marble mosaic of amour

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Overpowering clouds creating an aura of ominous storm in the City of Udaipur.

Udaipur, a marble mosaic of amour, is often reflected back on its seven lakes and frequently known as the ‘City of Lakes’.

Starting with your stay in charming family run Havelis or heritage hotels, which bring the taste of luxury. You’d come across puppeteers and enjoy Churma, the one of a kind Rajasthani delicacy.

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Lake palace, floating in the Lake Pichola

Udaipur seems to be gliding across the time of its own lakes with lights beaming like stars, while you wander around the city in the late evening. Dining at any of its famous royal restaurants will transport you to the aura of grandeur and romance. Hence, Udaipur is also named ‘Venice of India’ by many.

Gliding across the time of its own lakes

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City Palace, wrapped up in the leaves of historical marvel with overwhelming beauty in every corner.

White City, since the Palaces and the Havelis of Udaipur lean mostly towards the tones of white, be it City Palace, Sajan Gar, Lake Palace, etc. After entering the palaces, I felt the blend of natural magnetism and aged allure onto the walls, windows and plafonds.

This mesmerizes the visitors and the locals alike, and the poets and lovers in Udaipur are more as compared to other places in the vicinity.

Udaipur feels to be walled by the ranges of Aravalli and a day or two for trekking and camping in Mount Abu is another exciting possibility. I was there during the start of monsoon, so it had to be dropped though I will definitely roam around the forest of Mount Abu next time.

Udaipur is the destination you can visit at any time of the year, but the summers are not recommendable. The climate over here is predominantly tropical.

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Otherworldly feel of Fateh Sagar Lake.

The destination is 598 Mts., above the sea level, right in the heart of a desert. The climatic conditions are best defined as sultry.

As compared to the remainder of Rajasthan, Udaipur’s climate is moderate through seasons. Winters are pleasant and make the best time for your visit.

In summers, one can expect to find scorching temperatures in the city of Udaipur. From mid-March to June, the maximum temperatures hover in the range of 38 degrees.

But when the monsoons arrive in July, they are accompanied by dust storms. Monsoon and dust give rise to the characteristic fragrance Rajasthan is known for. Rooftop cafes hang onto their umbrellas in the mist of occasional rains.

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The rainfall received is frequently in the line of 637mm. But the humidity levels stay higher during monsoons.

Winters last from October through to March and the weather takes a turn to be pleasant. The high humidity levels become more comfortable and the overall temperatures are cool, while not being very cold. The days are sunny and the nights are cool. The nighttime temperatures seldom fall below 11.6 degrees. Winters are the best time to visit Udaipur.

All photos are taken on iPhone XS by me.

Sustaining the glory of Udaipur

Environmental degradation poses a range of problems for mankind. Udaipur too has been smitten with a range of environmental issues owing to development, deforestation, and misuse of lakes over the recent decades.

The water crisis is one of the primary environmental issues encountered by Udaipur. Udai Sagar Lake lies in the eastern part of the city. It once had a strategic significance and met water requirements, but now meets the industrial requirements for water.

Rising population is one of the reasons why the lakes find it overwhelming to support Udaipur. The lakes are now characterized by high pollution levels and a lesser inflow of water. Despite being the city of lakes, Udaipur is currently dependent on external sources for the supply of water.

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Demand for water in Udaipur stays more towards the higher side. The flowing traffic in Udaipur, induced by tourism is high. With the booming tourism industry, the in-migration is higher as well, as the tourism industry brings in more job opportunities.

Annual rainfall in Udaipur is around 640 mm. There is also runoff from the hills in the neighborhood. City planners have come up with ideas to store this water in tanks and lakes. It can later be directed towards irrigation channels that span across hectares.

The lakes are all interconnected to ensure that an overflow goes to the other. This makes Udaipur a prime example of good rainwater harvesting.

The pollution level in lakes of Udaipur still stays a matter which needs to be addressed. Indicators of high pollution levels are the blue-green algae, reduction in fish population and water hyacinth.

A water quality index of 50 represents good quality. Nevertheless, the WQI in Udai Sagar Lake and Pichola Lake are 180 and 120 respectively.

The government has been taking measures to tackle the issue. In 2008, the government sanctioned 125 crores for the rejuvenation of lakes. But the solutions have not been comprehensive. The lakes have now begun to affect groundwater, and the access to hygienic water is affected.

The changes in recent times have been vastly cosmetic, in the form of new ghats and fountains. They do not address the core water and environmental related issues prevailing in Udaipur.

 

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The situation today indicates a dire need for change. The government and related authorities should gauge the depth of the situation and strike a balance between development and its effects on the sustainability of Udaipur’s ecosystem.

The issue of lakes should be addressed in particular. The pollution encountered by the lakes should be brought in check with the introduction of world-class standards in waste disposal management.

This will sustain Udaipur as a top tourist destination across the generations to come and there will be a marked reduction in health-related disorders. Udaipur will once again regain its lost glory.

Problems meet their requisite resolution only when an individual effort is involved. It may not be right to leave it to the government and NGOs to figure out a resolution.

Sustainable steps have been taken in this regard. As an example, students from Udaipur have developed environment-friendly bricks developed from industrial waste.

Some steps we can take for the environment of Udaipur at a personal level include:

  1. We should plant more trees. This can be at an individual, organizational or corporate level. This helps counter pollution and helps with maintaining soil quality. Several NGOs pertaining to the plantation of trees operate in Udaipur.
  2. People sometimes use Bawris for dumping the garbage. This should be avoided.
  3. People of Udaipur should practice water conservation.

 

All the photos are shot on iPhone XS by me.

LAMAYURU: Moonscape

The moonland of Ladakh…

IMG_9532 copyMoonland..?

We are going there…

Reeaaallyyyyyyy….!! (with the big smile)

Its gotta be fun.

This is the first time I heard of it.

Then I saw it. 

And it was out of the world.

I mean I know that does look out of the world that is why it is called moonland. But I do have to exaggerate because it was magnificent.

Moonlands of Lamayuru…IMG_9559

Now the reason for the name:

Geological upheavals during the continental drift caused a unique stratification near Lamayuru giving rise to a spectacular landscape known as the ‘Moonland’ of Ladakh.

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Yungdrung Tharpaling Monastery (གཡུང་དྲུང་ཐར་པ་གླིང་དགོན་པ), known today as Lamayuru Monastery.

Once upon a time, Lamayuru was inundated in a lake, or so the legend goes. Arahat Madhyantika prophesied that one day the lake would be dried and a monastery would be made here. 

In the 11th century came a Buddhist saint to meditate in a nearby cave, mystical Mahasiddha Naropa, who with his prayers miraculously invoked the water to dwindle away and made the place into a sacred land.

Well preserved cave is still standing and is the part of the main shrine of Lamayuru Monastery. In 1038, Rinchen Zangpo, a great translator, built five temples at Lamayuru, only one is in perfect condition today.

Monastery’s impeccable building stands hither…IMG_9533

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I love looking at these murals at the entrance of the monasteries. I just sit there and let them take my mind on a journey through the story, they depict.
So far, i m just trying to figure out much about them, while reading here and there. You know the stuff.

Tantric Protectors…mark your steps4.jpg

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Human ant house monastery as I call it, which seems to be on the mounds of earth. 

To add all up just like ants, Monks live in a community and work for the greater good. They function as parts of a whole.

ye aacha

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While driving upto Lamayuru you will cross Fotu la 4,108m (13,479 ft)

It is the Highest point on Srinagar-Leh Highway of the Himalayan Zanskar Range.
There is a rainbow colored mountain, which I found absolutely breathtaking.

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Then there was a lone cloud on top of the mountain in the clear blue sky, which was adorable

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The valley itself is so vast that i just kept my face out the window trying to take it all in and clicking away like a crazed dog wanting for air.

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Mountains had so many beautiful arrays of color as if an artist poured mix of liquid acrylic color over few of them. Pure love from my side…

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“I like the mountains because they make me feel small,’ Jeff says. ‘They help me sort out what’s important in life.” — Mark Obmascik

TIMBER DREAMS

A dreadful story of a forest…

freeworld2Early morning, birds were chirping and mild cold wind was blowing, Ella jogged as usual but took a path into the dark forest with tall trees hovering like clouds. 

She had her earphones on, when suddenly everything went silent and she was nowhere to be found. Only her ipod was left behind with a song playing ‘sweet dreams’.

‘sweet dreams’

Next day, a couple for their vacation booked a summer house in the forest. Nicklaus and caroline had been together for four years, they were so busy for couple of months with their work that they planned a get away for the holidays.

Swiftly, they unpacked and rushed to look for the waterfall in the vicinity as described by the bus driver. It was rumored to be haunted  and no one knew what incident had watered that seed of rumor. 

When they reached the destination they saw a rather serene waterfall with sunlight flickering in the water with lots of different species of flowers around it, as if green glimmer of nature painted a dream into reality. 

Air wafted with pollen from the trees, taking their brains to the world of hallucinating nightmares. They saw the painted serene reality shifted to dark nightmares of fire pain and demon. They screamed and wailed with shifting hallucinations. When they woke up from the nightmares they realized that they were trapped inside the tree, and there was no going back.


What do you think? this is the first story I wrote here, so I will appreciate your comment. Thank you for tuning in.

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald.

HARSHIL: A LITTLE GEM OF UTTARAKHAND

Let the Bhagirathi sing for you..

IMG_8049-2Tranquil is the word for Harshil. 

It’s a modest little town in Uttarakhand on the way to Gangotri. We took a taxi from Uttarkashi to reach Harshil.

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By the time we reached Harshil sun was out of the reach behind the mountains and it was set beforehand for this little town….

IMG_8045The allure of the gushing Bhagirathi river through the town is harmony in the notes of the nature. Just like the keys of piano you will hear the perfect symphony among the environment, water, animals. 

Just like the keys of piano you will hear the perfect symphony among the environment, water, animals.

 

How the Bhagirathi flows with gusto…

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While we were roaming and experimenting with the photos, a companion presented himself out of nowhere and followed us all the way to the next village and it was helpful in the dark to have a dog lead on and see to it that you are protected. How I would have liked to bring him back to delhi but I figured with all his fur, he could not adapt to the Delhi’s summers.

I named him Hachi for being loyal.

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We hoped for snow as it was end of December but you know global warming, so it was late as we were told at the night by the villagers. There was chilly wind so we all cramped together around the can of burning hot red coal and talked about for an hour.

That clear sky. I even saw a shooting star there…

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“The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.” — Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild.

Out of Delhi: Weekend Getaways

Sitting on the porch either in winters with freezing fingers or summers with stifling heat, I look for solace in my dreams in far away land with comfortable drink in hand enjoying the sun with a surreal clouds rowing with the brisk wind.

So, I compiled the places I have been to or want to go to around Delhi for the weekend according to the season and distance.


Weekend Getaways from Delhi

In summer

1. Deoria Tal– Picturesque lake

Deori tal, 3km away from Sari village in Uttarakhand, is a crystal-clear lake, mirroring the snow capped Chaukhamba peaks, beside which you can camp and stay the night.

Distance from Delhi: 440 km (approx. 6 hours)

Best time to visit: March to May and October to November

Budget: INR 800 per person per night (tent, dinner, breakfast)

Activities: Camping and treking

2. Valley Of Flowers– Bed of flowers

Valley of flowers, in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, is an easy trek through Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve with the ornamental flower bed which is in full bloom from July to September.

Distance from Delhi: 515 km (approx. 6 hours)

Best time to visit: March to June for trekking and July for seeing bloomed flowers

Budget: INR 400 per person per night. Stay at asharams for lesser amount.

Attractions: Hemkund Sahib, Ghangaria, Badrinath Temple, Vasudhara Falls, Trekking and camping.

3. Bir Billing– Paragliding paradise

If you have paragliding in your backlist, then Bir is the destination for you be it with your family or friends and you can do any number of activities there.

Distance from Delhi: 517 km (10 hours)

Best time to visit: April to June

Budget: INR 1,000 per person per day

Activities: Paragliding, Chokling Monastery, Sherab Ling Monastery, and Bir Tea Factory

4. Tosh– Sip tea at the top of the mountain

Tosh, 20km from Kasol in Parvati valley, is a small village on a mountain and is best for peaceful escape from the city life. Best way is to hire a bike in Karol and ride to tosh because the ride is just breathtaking with asthetic lush green mountains .

Distance from Delhi: 538 km (15 hours)

Best time to visit: April to October and November to February to experience snow with freezing cold weather.

Budget: INR 299 per person per night onwards

Attractions: Tekking, chill in the cafes

5. Mcleodganj– Land of lamas

Mcleodganj, also known as Little Lhasa, is the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and home to a large Tibetan population, including many monks and nuns.

Distance from Delhi: 488 km (9 hours)

Best time to visit: Sharadotsav Festival during the autumn and June to September

Budget: INR 5,000 per person for 2 days (With meals, transport, accommodation and sightseeing)

Attractions:Masroor Temple, Monastery, shopping, cafe-hopping, Yoga and trek to Triund, camping, Bhagsu Falls, Maharana Pratap Sagar Lake

6. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary– Gaze at birds

A day out can be at Bharatpur bird sanctuary, also Keoladeo Ghana National Park, where you can find the sanctuary to vast arrays of faunal species, including thousands of rare and highly endangered birds. Over 230 species of birds are known to have made the National Park their home.

Distance from Delhi: 2 km

Best time to visit: August to November for resident breeding birds and October to February for migrant birds.

Attractions: Bird watching and photography.

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7. Rishikesh– Repose at the banks of Ganges

Rishikesh, a holy town and a pilgrimage site for yogis, lays claim to ‘Yoga Capital of the World’ with great vibes strung with the Ganges traversing through the vast forested hills.

Distance from Delhi: 245 km (approx. 6 hours)

Best time to visit: late SeptemberOctober to mid November and March for Yoga Festival

Budget: INR 400 per person per night. Stay at asharams for lesser amount.

Activities: River rafting, bungee jumping, cliff jumping etc. Visit asharams, cafe-hopping.

 

8. Vrindavan– Home of Lord Krishna 

Vrindavan, a holy town in U.P., is said to be the childhood home of the lord Krishna and lots of temples are dedicated to him and the deity Radha, his lover. It is a must to buy Peda (sweet) from Vrindavan. And be safe from monkeys.

Distance from Delhi: 183 km

Best time to visit: October to March and February for Holi celebration

Budget: INR 400 per person per night.

Activities: Temples, Boat ride.


In winter

9. Auli– Skiing destination

Auli, in chamoli, is renowned for the fascinating ski resorts bounded by the snow drapped mountains, Himalayas, and enchanting oak fringed slopes and coniferous forests. Plus, Auli offers an unspoiled ambiance

Distance from Delhi: 80 km

Best time to visit: Snow Skiing during November to March and pleasant climate during May to November 

Budget: INR 3000 per person

Attractions: Snow skiing, Artificial Lake and Ropeway.

10. Mussoorie– Queen of the Hills

Mussorie, in the foothills of Garhwal Himalayas, is an abode to range of flora and fauna and provide the view of the mesmerizing Shivalik ranges and Doon valley. You can also head to Yamunotri and Gangotri shrines.

Distance from Delhi: 294 km

Best time to visit: Snow Skiing during November to March and pleasant climate during May to November 

Budget: INR 400 per person per night onwards

Attractions: Skywalk, Zipline, Zip Swings, Treking, Mussoorie lake, Lake Mist, Cable Car ride and Sky Bridge

11. Jim Corbett– Voices of wild animals

Distance from Delhi: 246 km (5 hours and 30 minutes)

Best time to visit: November to June

Budget: INR 4,000 per person for 2 days (with meals, transport, accommodation and entry charges)

Attractions: Royal Bengal Tigers. Indian elephants, spotted deer, golden jackal, Himalayan black bear, and leopard cats are among other animals you may spot while on a jungle safari. Corbett Museum and Corbett Falls.

 

12. Jaipur– Royal heritage

Distance from Delhi: 288 km (5 hours and 30 minutes)

Best time to visit: October to March and during Diwali.

Budget: INR 3,000 per person per day (With meals, transport, and accommodation)

Attractions: Amer Fort, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal, and Nahargarh Fort

13. Udaipur– City of lakes

Distance from Delhi: 663 km (11 hours)

Best time to visit: October to March

Budget: INR 3,000 per person for 2 days (With meals, transport, accommodation)

Attractions: Sunset boat cruise,

14. Agra– Abode of architectural gem

Distance from Delhi: 233 km (4 hours and 30 minutes)

Best time to visit: November to March and monsoon time, July-September, is also good to watch Taj Mahal with different shades of clouds. Its just lovely.

Budget: INR 4,000 per person per day (with meals, transport, accommodation)

Attractions: Taj Mahal, Moti Masjid, Jahangir Palace, Itimad-ud-Daulah, Chini Ka Rauza, Guru ka Tal, Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort and Tomb of Akbar the Great.

15. Pushkar– New hippie hub

Pushkar is another Hindu pilgrimage centre but recently it has become a new hub for hippies. With the hoards of tourist around, you can lay back and enjoy the majestic Pushkar lake. You will also find different cafes to chill around the lake and the market.

Distance from Delhi: 663 km (11 hours)

Best time to visit: November to March and enjoy Camel Fair in October/november.

Budget: INR 6,00 per person per day (With meals, transport, accommodation)

Attractions: Cafe hopping, Ghats, Pushkar Mela, Brahma Temple, Yoga Garden, trekking and camping.

16. Amritsar–  The tank of nectar of immortality

Distance from Delhi: 454 km (11 hours)

Best time to visit: November to March

Budget: INR 500 per person per day.

Attractions: Golden Temple, Amritsari Food, Jallianwala Bagh, Tarn Taran Sahib and Wagah Beating Retreat ceremony.

 

 

 

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J.R.R. Tolkien