#TravelTips: 24-hours in Brussels

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WHERE TO PARTY

This place called Le Mirano used to be a cinema before it was became a club. Fuse is known to be the biggest nightclub in Brussesls with DJs from all over the world spinning there. Divided into three floors, while the top two floors play hip-hop, house and jungle, the lowest floor is dedicated to techno.

Falstaff in lower town has been in business since 1904. Also in lower town is A La Most Subite has a rustic look to its interiors and is always full to its capacity. La Fleur En Papier Dare has been a popular spot since 1846 specially with popular artists.

Brussels has a very active night life and if you are game, the city promises you a night you will remember for a lifetime, and maybe even beyond!

WHAT TO EAT

When in Romans, do what the Romans do. But you are in Brussels and this place has quite a few food items which are famous the world over. Chances are that most of us have tasted these foods in our own countries or elsewhere but there is no bigger joy than travelling to the place which is famous for a particular dish and tasting the dish there!

So, Mussels, you must taste, provided you eat them of course. a staple that is available in just about any cafe across the city, the most common way of eating mussels is having it steamed in white wine.
What the world knows as french fries, is frites in Belgium. Forget about where these fries originated from, focus on who perfected it with the two-fold fry recipe. Again, available just about anywhere, from trucks to shops, I suggest you pick them up and much on the go.

What we call meat stew is Stoofvlees in Belgium. Made by slow cooking beef in beer, this dish is served with the beef is redy to melt in your mouth.
Did you know the the Belgians love meatballs? Served with Belgian cherry sauce or with tomato sauce, made of beef or pork – take your pick and dig in!
You can also try the grey shrimp croquettes when in Brussels. Of course, there will be belgian waffles to try as well!

WHERE TO SHOP

If you want to shop for brands, you can very well head of to the malls. However, the real shopping done at any new city is when one goes into the street markets and buys local ware. Brussels has numerous streets markets and I’d advice you step over to them for two very important reasons – 1) you can shop local, and 2) you can actually mingle with the local scene, people, and culture!

Rue Antonie Dansaert, Rue Bailli, Chaussée d’Ixelles, Rue Neuve and Avenue Louise are some of the most frequented and largest shopping streets in Brussels. Don’t forget to add them to your itinerary if you are heading over to the wonderful city of Brussels!

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Rajasthan Through My Lens – I

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This is a guest post by my very good friend Bhakti Motta. She is an amazing photographer and had recently captured a lot of places in Rajasthan. In this post, we bring to you some of her lovely captures!

When one visits Rajasthan, its not just the colour-coded cities that astonish people but the simplicity of people residing there and the use of colours in their day to day life that’s what compel them to visit Rajasthan again and again.

Rajasthan is not only rich in culture and architecture but also in hospitality.

Palace of winds or Hawa Mahal located in the heart of Jaipur was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. It is one of the major tourist attractions in Jaipur.

Just opposite Hawa Mahal, these cafes are good place to grab a cup of coffee and click wonderful photos of monument.

One can easily find such beautiful turbans in any market around Rajasthan. This pic is from a street of Jaipur.

A tourist buying colorful umbrellas and handmade clothes from the streets of Jaipur. Rajasthan is famous for colorful clothes and accessories, especially for handmade works.

A flock of migratory demoiselle cranes flying around a small village called Khichan in Phalodi tehsil of Jodhpur district in Rajasthan. These cranes visit khichan during winter and are fed by the villagers.

What is a desert without camels?

Khuri village in Rajasthan is famous for its sand dunes. khuri is a small village situated 50kms south-west of jaisalmer in Rajasthan. People visit khuri to experience the village lifestyle. The villagers here have adapted well to the increasing tourism.

Camel cart at khuri sand dunes.

A perfect place for sunset photography.

A new born (9-11 days old) calf in the village.

A female villager drawing water for her family’s daily needs.

The exteriors of jaisalmer fort.

 

The second part to this series will be out soon. Till then, enjoy these photographs and don’t forget to leave a comment!

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#TravelTips: 24-hours in Amsterdam

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With this post, I enter the #AtoZChallenge of blogging in which I will be writing about things to do in cities listed in alphabetical order. For today, we have Amsterdam.

Cycling is the most preferred mode of commuiting amongst the people of Amsterdam. So, when there, hire one. The city has more than 8,00,000 cycles so one can imagine how convenient cycling around is. It is easy to maneuver, takes you everywhere and the city being bike friendly, cycling everywhere actually acts in your favour.

Amsterdam has something for everyone –  be it arts & exhibition, concerts & music, performing arts, museums, festivals, events, film and cinema. Here is a rundown of few things you must cover if you have 24 hours to spend in the city.

Anne Frank House

This is a part of history one shouldn’t miss. Even if you have never heard of Anne Frank, this is a good time to find out more and visit the musuem. The museum is open on all days of the week. This is the place where Anne and her family hid, and yes, this is where she wrote her diary. You can find out more about the timings, price or ticket and what else can be seen at their website http://www.annefrank.org/

FOAM Museum

The FOAM museum is an international photography organisation based in Amsterdam. If you are even remotely interested in photography, you might want to head over here. The museum is open on all days of the week though the timings differ. You’ll need to buy tickets which can be done from their website http://www.foam.org. You can be part of an ongoing tour or attend any of the current photo exhibitions.

Blue Boat Tour Company

Canal cruises in Amsterdam are absolute must and Blue Boat Amsterdam Canal Cruises give you the perfect ride which you deserve. You have the option of city canal cruise, open boat cruise, hard rock burger cruise, kids cruise, dinner cruise, and more. The experience is grand and once in a lifetime. Not only that, this gives you the wonderful opportunity to explore the city in a different manner. Know more about this at https://www.blueboat.nl.

Hermitage Museum

When one mentions the Hermitage Museum, what comes to mind is the one in Russia. However, there is a branch of the same museum at Amsterdam! Located in a building which dates back to 1861, it is at present the largest satellite museum. The musuem houses two very prominent and permanent exhibitions – Matisse to Malevich and The immortal Alexander the Great. If you wish to visit the place, learn more at their website http://www.hermitage.nl/en/.

Night Life

The nightlife scene at Amsterdam is on fleek and there is something for everyone – be it festivals, bars or night clubs. There is this option called the Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket which you can get from IAmsterdam, and gain unlimited access to eight different Amsterdam nightclubs for seven days. Along with the free pass, you’ll also get free welcome drinks.

These are only few of the places one can visit. It is quite possible that none of them interest you. These are just few suggestions from me, nothing more.

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Kila Raipur Sports Festival – Getting Up and Close With Rural Punjab

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Tung tung da Sound Karda, tung tung da

Tung tung da saaj
Tere mere dil vich loud vajda
Tung tung tung hai tung waaj

It was MTV Sound Trippin that introduced me to the adrenaline pumping sports event of Rural Punjab. Kila Raipur Sports Festival went a little mainstream in 2016 when Amir Khan chose the setting has the shooting location for Dangal. After spending three days in this festive extravaganza, I realized what must have been the reasons for him to select this place as the shooting location.

Back in 2014, Bullock Cart race was very popular here, often called the USP of the event. For some reasons, animal right groups got it banned and since then horse and mule cart race have taken all the attention of the festival enthusiasts.

(c) Anshul Kumar Akhoury

I took a train from Delhi and reached Ludhiana at 5:30 in the morning. I had no idea about how I am supposed to travel further. All I knew was that there are buses going to Dehlon from where shared auto rikshaws will take me to Kila Raipur, or as the bus driver told me, Killa Rapper.

When you are traveling in Punjab, you are supposed to be very specific about two things. You do not pronounce the names as they are spelled in English. For example, Dehlon is Dhellon. This whole Dehlon, Dhellon confusion got me into the wrong bus and I almost reached Jalandhar.

(c) Anshul Kumar Akhoury

Second thing that you must take care of is that when a Punjabi offers you food, you must eat it. Punjabis are very emotional about their food and take is as a personal offence when you refuse to eat what is being offered. I was traveling to Anandpur Sahib, I stopped at a Dhaba. My tired face, dirty clothes and messy hair gave the dhaba owner and the guests a feeling that I haven’t eaten anything for a year. They started putting food on my plate. Chapatis to the size of an entire plate, daal filled in a tumbler double the size of regular ones. Then came a glass of Lassi whose quantity was enough to feed me four times. Politely, I asked them to stop and the dhaba owner looked as if I have questioned that entire logic behind his faith. I told him, I’ll get fat if I eat so much, a guest replied, ‘ agar mote nahi hoge to pata kaise chalega ki Punjab aae the’ (If you don’t get fat, how would you tell people that you were in Punjab.) Everyone laughed, Apparently in Punjab, there is no such thing as too much food.

It was 12:30 in the afternoon when I finally arrived Kila Raipur sports venue. For a change there were no soft drink billboards and banners sponsoring the event. This actually felt like one of those places free from the grip of corporate chains and mainstream media. I tried to get into the sports ground but was stopped by policemen as I didn’t have a press pass. I looked around and then entered the sports ground from the fields. I kept running away from the organizers so that they don’t send me back.

Teams from different districts of Punjab were trying to outmatch each other in a high flying kabaddi match. There were players who had previously participated in National Kabaddi League. A team member from the opposite team crossed the line and jumped on the defending team, they tried hard to catch him, he tried his best to eliminate atleast one of his opponents, both failed and the game continued.

(c) Anshul Kumar Akhoury

Tussi Said (side) ho jao, ghodeya wich breakan nahi hondi (Move aside, horses don’t come with breaks)

While human competitors are in their full force to perform the best, it is the animals who take the center stage. The hunter dogs from Punjab Police, the mules, horses and even a camel flaunting his intricate decorations, each of them is trying their best to impress the audience.

The race of the hunter dogs from Punjab Police is enough to thrill and scare the shit out of you at the same time. They are unleashed by their handlers and they run across the track in such a fierce speed that my camera fails to capture them. They themselves are unable to control their speed and by the moment they stop, they are already in the nearby fields. Not a big deal, they recognize their handlers through a special whistle. They are found in no time. A journo shows me the pic of dog race from his huge camera. It is so precise that I almost feel jealous at my inability to buy a decent equipment, but it turns out that these are some of my finest clicks till date.

(c) Anshul Kumar Akhoury

Finally, I get to see what I was waiting for. The horse race starts. There are competitors from Rajasthan, Haryana and the host state Punjab. A fire in the air and the horses and their jockeys race to their destination. The thrill can be felt from their faces and everytime the jockey screams the horse responds, trying to outmatch the leading horse.

Kila Raipur is a visual treat. For anyone who wants to get up and close with the culture of Punjab, this is the place to be. The sports event is sponsored by Grewal foundation and invites sportsmen from far off corners of Punjab and even Kenedda (Thet’s how Canada is pronounced here). It has something to offer to everyone, whether you are a sports enthusiast, a photographer or a culture seeker, you’ll find everything that you have been looking for. The range of sports varies from sprint events of 100, 400 and 1600 meters for men, women and senior citizens. There is a wheelchair race for army veterans, weight lifting contests with truck tires and wheat sacks.

Kila Raipur gives you a glimpse of rural and rustic Punjab. Green fields, glasses of lassi, sugarcane juice and spicy choley kulche are here to feed your soul. Bhangra performers take your heart away while stunt coordination by The Nihangs takes your breath away. Kila Raipur Sports Festival is one event that you must experience in the coming years before it goes mainstream.

When: Kila Raipur Rural Olympics is held every year in the month of February

How to Reach: Ludhiana is the nearest city where you can stay. There are buses leaving for Dehlon every half an hour from ISBT. From Dehlon you can catch a tuktuk to sports venue.

Follow my journeys on Instagram and Facebook


About the author

Anshul once used to be a struggling comic book writer that gave up his dream like many others, now he is just a struggling writer. As an engineering dropout he found his dreams hidden in the mountains and sea shores and since then he has been solo traveling across the country. Anshul likes putting down his thoughts and travel experiences in form of poetry, he calls himself a hopeless romantic who wishes to fall in love with the mountains, the oceans and the rivers. Apart from bitten by travel bug, Anshul loves reading comic books and writing his travel stories in his blog at http://dailypassengerr.wordpress.com/

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Sports 4 Development | ANSH Happiness Society

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In December last year, I got to know about a NGO called ANSH Happiness Society. They call themselves a youth organization founded in Bhopal to come up as a platform for young people to connect, explore and act. How I learnt about ANSH was pretty interesting. I was attending a program by UNICEF Madhya Pradesh, celebrating 70 years of the organisation. Their, I heard the people behind the platform – Mohsin and Kokila, speak about the concept for S4D – Sports for Development.
A few days later, as a continuation of UNICEF’s celebrations, we attended a photo exhibition for S4D at Swaraj Bhawan. Over there, we met a host of youngsters who are themselves students, but involved in this project. Varun Namdev whose photographs were also on display, explained to us how S4D works for the children. ANSH is doing this in association with UNICEF where they are identifying schools and involving the children in sports activities to teach them important life lessons like sharing, caring, supporting, trusting, being trustworthy, etc. These habits are usually not taught to these children at school or home and through sports, they get to learn lessons on morals and self-development without it being a ‘lesson’.

PC: Chaitanya
PC: Chaitanya

The young people we spoke to like Sanskar, Varun, etc told us that they were all scattered in different districts and for weeks, they spent time with the children, involving them in the games during their school times. The games were inclusive of both gender and that gave the children a seperate set of lessons which are oft forgotten – that they too need to be taught to co-inhabit the world space with the opposite sex, rely on each other, support each other and be a team instead of against each other.

PC: Samarpita Sharma
PC: Samarpita Sharma

Sports for Development (S4D) is an initiative of the Department of School Education, Govt of MP in association with UNICEF. As of now, 100 schools from across the state have S4D implemented in their curriculum and it is trying to break social and gender barriers by bringing people together. It also aims at breaking hierarchy and advocating inclusion.

Reach ANSH Happiness Society on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and their website.

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Songwriters’ Sunday Social | Ep. 1 | Dylogg Co-working Café

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Song Writers’ Social Episode 1 (C) Sanskar Singh

Last Sunday, on the 12th of March, I attended a very interesting gathering of young people at Dylogg Co-working Café, Kasturba Nagar in Bhopal. We knew that it would be a programme where 10 songwriters would present their creativitiy but what we witnessed was much better.

Kokila Bhattacharya and Animesh Chaurasia had brought together this beautiful evening at their co-working space which they intend to use even more to get together like minded, creative people and help form a strong tribe in this city.

Songwriters’ Sunday Social at Dylogg Co-working Café (C) Samarpita Sharma

The event had more attendees than the hosts had expected which shows how much in need of such gatherings the city was. In all honesty, both my husband and I were pleasantly surprised at the level of talent our city boys showcased that evening.

The show began with Shikhar Chaudhary who is all of 18, and made time to attend the programme despite his board exams staring at him in the face. Next up was Rohan Pathak who sang some beautiful ghazals. I could manage to capture parts of Shikhar’s and Rohan’s performances and am sharing them below. One thing Rohan said has remained with me since I identify with it a lot – I am not a miserable person, but I like miserable music.

Rohan Pathak Singing ‘Yeh Moh Moh Ke Dhaage’ (C) Samarpita Sharma

While the songs and the music was lovely, what made the evening better was that the song writers spoke about why they write and create music, who inspires them, what their songs mean to them, etc. The performers and audience seemed to be more or less in their 20s and 30s – and despite two decades (and some more) of people sitting in one room, everyone was enjoying the songs.
Parvatish came up next and sang a song he’d gifted his best friend on her birthday – Mehroom. Abin played the keyboard and presented a beautiful song. Tannison Mathews rendered a soulful number Let it be me while he played the keyboards.
Apricot, the group also performed their own composition after Bhaskar’s performance for which he’d come down from Ahmedabad. Samar Mehdi presented his own compositions Parey and Do Pal.
The event ended with Animesh Chaurasia presenting Befiqri and the event was hosted by Kokila.

Here’s wishing all the songwriters the very best in their lives. Just knowing that such talents has grown up in the streets of Bhopal makes me feel so good. And I hope Kokila, Animesh and Dylogg bring to the city more such gatherings and cultural events!

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Filing For Indian Passport Just Got Easier!

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There used to be a time when attaining a new passport or even renewing an existing one was quite a cumbersome process. Over time, the rules started becoming quite transparent. And recently, rules at Passport Seva Kendra have been amended to make attaining a passport extremely easy. I collated the new rules and listed them in this post –

  • Annexure A or Marriage certificate which was mandatory to file an Indian passport are no more so. Married couple can submit their applications even if they don’t have a marriage certificate.

  • People who are divorced can now apply without having to submit the divorce decree which was earlier mandatory. Mentioning the name of the spouse is not a compulsory requirement anymore.

  • If an orphaned child was to apply for passport, earlier a birth or school leaving certificate was required. With the new rule, all that would be required is an attested letter from the Head of the Orphanage which will do as a proof of birth.

  • When applying for passport of adopted children, the resgistered adoption deed is no more mandatory. Instead, a self-attested letter autheticating the adoption would suffice.

  • When government employees seek a passport on urgent basis, they can submit a self-declaration in Annexure N, informing that prior intimation about the application for Indian Passport had been given to the Head of the Department. Identy certificate or no objection certificate from the employer are no longer needed.

  • Earlier, when sadhus and sanyasis applied for an Indian passport, they were required to mention the names of their parents. As per the recent rules, they have the choice to mention the name of their Guru instead of parents, as long as it is accompanied by atleast one document out of Aadhar Card, Election Photo Identity Card, PAN Card, etc. that has the name of the Guru under the header of parents names.

  • Children born out of the wedlock would not have any hassles with applying for an Indian passport. Only document that is required to be filled in this regard is Annexure G.

  • Regarding attestations of annexes, applicants can self-declare on plain paper and submit the documents.

  • Number of annexes to be filled have been brought down as A, C, D, E, J, and K have been detached reducing the number to 9 annexes only.

  • When single parents apply for passport of their children, the application has been simplified and the parents can opt against mentioning the name of the child’s other parent.

  • Mentioning the name of only one parents when an individual is applying for their own passport, is allowed now.

  • Earlier, those born after January 26, 1989 where required to sumbit their birth certificate. With the new rule, this is not mandatory. Any other proof of date of birth is also acceptable and the document could be any one amongst – Aadhaar card, Pan card, birth certificate issued by Municipal Corporation/Registrar of Births and Deaths, driving license, voter’s card or policy bond. Goverment employees can submit the copy of the Extract of the service record of the individual if still in service. If retired, Pay Pension Order with DOB can be submitted. Both kind of documents submitted by government employees need to be signed and authorized by the administer in-charge of the department/Ministry.

These are the current changes in the rules. However, rules can change with time, so it is best to check the website of Passport Application.

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10 Road Trips You Must Take In 2016!

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So, I am a sucker for road trips. Train trips are fun too, but frankly, I am losing the patience to travel for hours, locked in unhygienic compartments with strangers. This is not my idea of an ideal mode of travelling. And airplane travel is just plain boring; something I do only when I absolutely need to, which is unfortunately a lot more than I like. Road trips, on the other hand, are relaxed and enjoyable. To reach from destination A to B, one crosses multiple cities, villages, lifestyles, cultures and even states. There is so much more that one experiences even before reaching the destination – imagine not seeing them just because you are travelling by air or rail?
Of course, one has to look at the feasibility of it all, but hey, I love road trips and thankfully, so does the husband. Not only do you get to enjoy and soak in the atmosphere through the journey, if you are travelling with your partner, it does wonders to your relationship. Yes, road trips also double as relationship builder.

Having said that, how can I be an advocate for road trips, if I don’t suggest few kick-ass destinations for the same? So here is a list of what I think are the best roads to travel on, with in India. Go on, take a break. Fuel your car, pack your bags, grab your music and get the wheels rolling!

Manali to Leh
Leh-Manali Road Trip (c) Wikicommons
The best time to make this trip is between June to September. The snow melts and rains begin. The small rivers start taking shape with the melted snow. You will have a distance of about 480 kms to cover and it will take about two days, with ample rests. If your vehicle is not from Himachal Pradesh, you’ll need a permit from SDM office, Manali. This doesn’t apply to bikes, of course. Be careful while driving as the texture of the roads are different from what we are used to in rest of India.
The route you’ll take would look something like this: Manali – Rohtang – Gramphu – Kokhsar – Keylong – Jispa – Darcha – Zingzingbar – Baralacha La – Bharatpur – Sarchu – Gata Loops – Nakee La – Lachulung La – Pang – Tanglang La – Gya – Upshi – Karu – Leh.
I must add, that the drive back from Leh to Manali is more enjoyable as there is no rush, no bothering about pit-stops & GPS, and since you will be driving downhill, all the more fun, minus the nausea.
Below is a video of the road trip from Manali to Leh by Kartazon Dream:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MjlmyIZzX8&w=320&h=266]
Bengaluru to Nandi Hills

 

View From Nandi Hills (c) WikiCommons
The distance of 61 kms can be covered in an hour and half, to two hours, depending on the infamous traffic. Situated at a height of about 4800 ft above sea level, the experience of being on a road trip becomes exceedingly breathtaking once you start driving up the hill. There are sharp turns, so be careful. Anytime of the year is a good time to make this trip as the climate is fairly moderate in this section of the country. You have the option to drive back before it’s dark, or you can put up in the farm stays or guest houses in the outskirts.

Below is a video taken by Joshu Samson, of a bike ride down Nandi Hills:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEnx_gRgtBY&w=320&h=266]
Guwahati to Tawang
Tawang City (c) WikiCommons
Covering a distance of almost 500 kms, the journey from Guwahati to Tawang is made through the world’s second highest motorable road. You have the choice to stop over and spend the night, at Bhalukpong and/or at Dhirang. The condition of the roads deteriorate as you move beyond Dhirang, so be careful when you drive, and be patient. It will take a while. The road is an excellent six-lane upto Tezpur, so you will get to enjoy the drive as well. Arunachal Pradesh is a paradise and any traveller would love to experience such natural beauty.
Below is a video of Tawang road trip uploaded by Sandipan Borthakur:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAQx6Y886C8&w=320&h=266]
Ahmedabad to Kutch
Ahmedabad To Kutch (c) Krazysouls
The largest district of India, Kutch is pretty well-connected with Ahmedabad via other means of transport as well. However, the roads and the scenic beauty on both sides of the roads, demand that a road trip is made. About 400 kms far, when on a road trip, you pass through desert and even get to witness changing cultures as you pass. The entire road is a delight to drive on. On the way, you can stop at Dholavira which happens to be the only city of Harappan Indus Civilization in India, and go back to 5000 years. Here, you can also see the Kutch Fossil Park and enjoy an amazing view of the White Rann. Moving ahead, you can halt at Bhuj and spend the evening with the captivating white desert, while you head off to Kutch the next morning.
Sharing a very interesting documentary on Kutch, below:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO8QV0PvQoU&w=320&h=266]
Puri to Konark
Konark Sun Temple built by the Eastern Ganga
dynasty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
(c) WikiCommons
A very short road trip, but definitely worth the attempt, the distance between Puri and Konark is 35 kms and takes barely as much time. Drive through lush green locales and drive by the sea too. If this isn’t cool, I don’t know what else is. You can hear the waves splashing on the shores as you drive through the distance. The roads are great, making the drive absolutely worth the effort.
Below is a video of the beautiful road trip from Puri to Konark, uploaded by Jai Prakash Singh:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amFGXfv5tUw&w=320&h=266]

 

Jaipur to Ranthambore

 

 

 

 

To travel from Jaipur to Ranthambore by road, you will need to take the Jaipur-Kota road highway and go via Basi, Lalsot, and Justana until you reach Ranthambore. A distance of about 150 kms, it can be covered in roughly 4 hours, approximately. The road is well-peppered with eating and resting joints, and petrol pumps at regular distances. While pink city Jaipur is famous for forts, palaces and monuments, Ranthambore is one of the largest national parks in northern India. You stand a chance to spot wild animals here, if you are cautious. The best time to make this trip is from October to June as in the rest of the year, the park is closed for visitors.
Catch this video of the Ranthambore National Park:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4hpokhoSqU&w=320&h=266]
Shillong to Cherrapunji
Noh Kali Kai Falls Cherrapunji (c) Hrishikesh Sharma
The distance from Shillong to Cherrapunji is about 54 kms and makes for a perfect road trip. The climate is amazing and the beauty on both sides of the road, mesmerizing. Meghalaya is beautiful; the roads are wide and good. Women entrepreneurs are everywhere and the people are very warm. Hills, forests, pastures – greenery everywhere. There is not a single reason why you should not be doing this road trip if you are planning a trip to the north-east part of India.
Here is a video of the road trip from Shillong to Cherrapunji:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olx50dz40TY&w=320&h=266]
  • Gangtok to Lake Tsomgo
Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim (c) Sankalp Sharma

Sikkim is geographically placed between West Bengal and the seven sister states of north east India. A picturesque state, it is pollution free. Vehicle usage is restricted to the outside areas in the capital city of Gangtok while smoking in public, littering and usage of plastic bags are banned throughout the city. So, you can just imagine how beautiful every corner of the state is. The drive takes longer than what the distance would take on the plains, but that is because the route is zig-zag swirling around the mountains. Keep your medication near if you get motion sickness, and your cameras ready. The views are spectacular and need to be captured. The distance of about 56 kms takes you to Tsomgo Lake which is at the altitude of 3753 mtrs/12,310 ft. The lake is on the Gangtok-Lhasa trade route which falls between Sikkim and Tibet.

Here is a video showing the Tsomgo Lake and nearby:
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=046Hs8IWo_s&w=320&h=266]
Vishakhapatnam to Araku Valley
Araku Valley (c) roadconnoisseur
The distance between Vishakhapatnam and Araku Valley is about 115 kms and takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes. If Vishakhapatnam is quaint and beautiful, wait till you reach Araku valley. The entire route has beautiful sights on both sides and while a journey on the train is also enjoyable, a road trip makes the journey worth all the trouble. If you are travelling to Vishakhapatnam, while it is understandable that the beaches will keep you occupied, you simply need to take at least a day off and drive down to Araku valley.
Kolkata to Digha
Digha beach (c) Rajarshi Mitra
Digha is probably one of Kolkata’s favourite weekend getaway. An ultimate destination to relax and rewind in the lap of nature, Digha is about 180 kms from the capital city. One can reach there about 3-4 hours. July to March is the ideal time to visit Digha.
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India’s First Drive-Thru Art Gallery: Bhopal Art Wall

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In the drive to make Bhopal the best city under the Swachh Bharat Mission Swachhata Survey-2017, the city now has it’s own Art Wall which is claimed to be the first drive-thru art gallery in India. It extends from Banganga to Polytechnic square. Renowned artists, tribal folk painters, top 10 participants for My City My Wall and chosen freelance artists have created these paintings on the wall which make the drive through this road, a beautiful experience.The paintings depict art forms, our society, our values and some of them even hold important social messages.

Below are some of the paintings I could capture while travelling on the road, over a few days.

Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma

Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma

Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma

Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
Art Wall at Bhopal (C) Samarpita Mukherjee Sharma
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A Visit To Patwon Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer

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If you are in Jaisalmer and, you will of course visit the Jaisalmer Fort or Sonar Killa. And once inside the fort, you simply cannot go back without walking a short distance to the five identical mansions also known as Patvon Ki Haweli. While most of your half day tour will be taken up in exploring the fort but do ensure that you have 60-90 minutes to explore Patvon Ki Haweli as well.

Legend has it that there used to be a wealthy trader named Guman Chand Patwa. He had five sons and for all of them he had got identical havelis made. The first of the houses is under Archeological Survey of India and ASI has ensured that the interiors of the house remain intact giving a clear indication of the lifestyle of the family inhabiting it. The house and the interiors have been well-maintained by ASI and visitors can explore it after purchasing tickets for admission. The havelis were built in the early 18th century and had taken 55 years for completion.

Made from yellow sandstone keeping to the picturesque look of the entire town of Jaisalmer, the havelis are examples of some of the finest craftsmanship. As I said, the first of the mansions has been converted into a museum and is being maintained by ASI.
We were spellbound from the first glance at the havelis, right from outside. The jharokhas and the windows visible from the lane outside give a clear idea of how beautiful the work of the craftsmen who built the structures were.

One didn’t need to be told that the families which resided in the havelis were rich. Right from architecture to interiors to the ceilings and the furniture, everything was modern, exquisite and way ahead of time in terms of design and planning.

The decor would make one wonder if the interiors are actually from current times and we are visiting the house of someone who has just stepped out for a while. Everything has been so well-maintained that it is difficult to believe that no one has lived here in decades. The master bedroom had things related to children like a paalna, a pram and even a tricycle.

The ceilings of the entire haveli are worth mentioning. The design of the ceiling is different in every room and each one has exquisite designs. Goes to show the standard of craftsmanship involved and one can easily imagine how much time it must have taken to create each design.

The interiors of the haveli is as if the house owners were there a minute before you enter the room. Everything is displayed in such a manner that I actually went into a trance like mood to imagine the family there, in front of me, everyone doing their own things,

From the terrace of the first of the Patwon Ki Havelis, we can see the entire expanse of the Sonar Kella – Jaisalmer Fort.
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