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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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,
When you land in Bangkok, you have the choice to head off to one (or, more) of the islands or spend some time in the metropolis. We headed off to the beach towns and spent two and a half days in Bangkok before our return. Our hotel was centrally places at Sukhumvit, so most of the places to shop from where literally at stone’s throw.
Husband and I both make it a point to experience travel in local modes of transport in the cities we visit. A couple of minutes walk from our hotel, and we noticed a flight of steps leading to Nana metro station. Great! We climbed the stairs and first went to see the route chart. Siam was a few stations away and we knew it was a shopping hub. So, the first day in Bangkok, we headed off to Siam station. At Siam, there are three glitzy malls – Siam Discovery, Siam Centre and Siam Paragon.
An eclectic city, Bangkok has it all. Siam huge mall and Siam station opened to the mall and we could enter it directly. The mall also houses the famous Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. South Asia’s largest aquarium, a host of international high-end fashion brands and a 16-screen cineplex are all a part of the huge experience called Siam Paragon. The architecture of the mall is very well thought of and one doesn’t need to walk a lot or get lost.
The main floor of Siam Paragon is all about luxury. The most high-end brands are at display and the collection is very unlike what we see in India, even in the metros. This is a rich person’s playground. Even if you are not there to spend monies, have a good time exploring and kicking pictures. That’s what we did.
Moving one floor up, you will find yourself at the fashion venue and price-conscious shoppers can have a good time shopping here. The second and the third floors house leisure and lifestyle brands. You can get lost here and you won’t even complain. Cars, high-end furniture, technology, salons – your jaw will drop once you look around. I know mine did!
If you are planning to eat here, you’ll be spoilt for choices. I’ll talk about that in a fresh post, because here, we talk about where to shop while in Bombay.
Moving on, another place to shop in is Terminal 21. The mall spread across multiple malls has the most unique design. Each floor is designed based on a different, famous city of the world. the decor, the shops and the restaurants are all in accordance to the theme of the floor. The picture above and below here are from the floor – Istanbul as the beautiful hanging lights indicate.
Across the road from Siam Paragon is MBK Shopping Center. This place is packed with local shoppers as well as tourists. Eight floors with 2000 shops divided amongst themselves, the shopping mall is thirty years old. Here, you will get literally everything you need. From pens and DVDs to furniture and leather products. This mall is not as posh as the three Siam malls, but it serves its purpose very well indeed.
Chatuchak is the ultimate weekend market. The number of stalls and wares there are unbelievable and you will come back with hands full of shopping bags. Pratunam is a wholesale market of fashion wares. The Chinatown market is also a must visit. Spices, food, shoes, clothes, accessories – there are oodles of options, specially for wholesale buyers. If you are in Bangkok for a while, head over to Or Tor Kor food market and come back loaded with Bangkok’s special fruits and vegetables.
And lastly, one place you simply cannot miss is Bangkok’s flower market. A treat to the eyes, nostrils and to the heart, one must visit here even if there is no need to buy flowers.
Last minute booking can always be a pain and getting reservation in a hotel you desire is next to impossible. When we booked our impromptu vacation to Thailand last month, finding a hotel in Pattaya was a task. After much struggle, we finally managed to finalize our stay at Courtyard Marriott in Pattaya. We got excellent deals thanks to MakeMyTrip through whom we had booked our flights and hotels.
After landing at Suwarnabhumi airport, we’d taken a bus from the airport to take us to Pattaya. The bus was luxurious and the ride, smooth. It was early in the morning and the sight outside kept me awake even after a night of no sleep.
Not your high-end stay, Courtyard is Marriott’s affordable range, the best things about the hotel are its staff and its prime location. The hotel isn’t great, but not bad either. Rooms are spacious and well-maintained.
The food was good, be it in the breakfast buffet, à la carte or room service. The property is not very big, and has only one restaurant – MoMo Cafe. We’d stayed at the hotel for three days and it was during national mourning of Thailand’s beloved king. The property had his photograph and flowers put up in the center of the lobby. Business was on as usual, but with a heavy heart.
The breakfast menu had provisions for Indians and vegetarians, along with a huge range of breads, fruits, juices and other delicacies. The interiors of the hotel are modern yet contemporary and everything looks very stylish.
The hotel is very strategically located. Not in the middle of the hustle-bustle, yet stone’s throw from every place important. The famous Walking Street is a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Tuktuks are easily available to and from the hotel at any time of the day and 7Eleven stores are nearby. The convenience of having things within reach is most important to us and we had the luxury here. Since we both walk and trek a lot in our vacations, we prefer to stay near the buzzing areas, yet far from the noise. Pattaya’s Courtyard Marriott gave us just what we needed.
Pattaya being a beach town, has activities galore. Most of our time was spent outdoors, so we didn’t eat a lot in the hotel. However, as is expected in Thailand, the Thai green curry was absolutely delectable. And I mention this here, because this is the only food I practically lived on for the entire week we were in Thailand, and the kitchen of Courtyard, Pattaya made it the best. Heavenly!
The pool was small, quaint and clean. The hotel is located at the foothill of Pratumnak hill, and one can trek up the hill to the top from where the entire port city can be seen. The view is spectacular and a must see if you are staying so near at Courtyard Marriott.
A month later, the hotel is still in our minds purely because of the staff. In the restaurant, there was Chin-Chin. Always with a smiling face, she was a comforting person to have around despite the language problem. Otto and Audi, both the boys were pleasant, helpful and friendly. William was a welcome face, since he knew Hindi and it was nice to communicate with someone fluently. Communication in English is a little troublesome in Thailand, but the staff here was extremely helpful.
For hotel, restaurant and food festival reviews, get in touch through here.
Are you a vegetarian, planning a trip to Phuket anytime soon? First week of October is a good time, for there will await a culinary extravaganza that you absolutely must attend! Why is this a must attend? Because it is a vegetarian food festival! This year, it will be held from October 1 – 9.
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is a nine-day celebration held in the month of October which happens to be the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. During these nine days, those who are observing the festival, give up meat and non-vegetarian food, and adhere to strict vegetarian diet. Legend has it that once upon a time, a wandering opera group from China fell ill while performing in the island, and the festival came into being then though the origin is not very clear. When they fell ill, they decided to pray to the nine Emperor Gods and followed a vegetarian diet. Soon afterwards, the group regained health and all the members became fit again. It is said that since then, the festival is celebrated regularly. With time, the festival as grown and now it attracts thousands of people from China and rest of Asia.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival / (C) Phuket@photographer.net/Flickr
Apart from the food, culture and people, you will get some entertainment as well. The festivities are help around six Chinese temples which are located at different spots in Phuket. The raising of the lantern pole is held on the first day and with this event, the Gods are informed of the commencement of the festivals.
It is believed that when the ten pole rod is erected, the Hindu God Shiva descends and brings spiritual energy to the festival.For food, a lot of soya bean and protein substitutes are used in place of meat and the dishes are prepared by regular Thai recipes. Vegetarian food stalls are marked by yellow flags with Thai or Chinese characters. For more information on dates and events, please visit phuketvegetarian.com
My #DreamTrail is to visit Rajasthan with my mother. We’ve been there before, my parents and I. But I was a kid and things have changed since then. Also, my mother has a special unknown bond with the colourful desert state. She says she cannot describe what it is, but every time I hear her talk about it, I can feel her excitement. She loves Rajasthani food, customs, attire, language, terrain – everything. Now that she is retired and has some free time in hand, I plan to take her along for a trip to Rajasthan. Mother and daughter, just the two of us.
Last time we had gone to Rajasthan, I think I was 5 or 6. I remember the trip because it was one of the few vacations we had taken. Living away from our home town, my parents usually always preferred to spend my school vacations in Kolkata so that I don’t miss out on bonding with my family. Still, every few years, we did travel to other places too. I remember going to Jaipur and Udaipur, the pink and the white cities.
My #DreamTrail to Jaisalmer Town (C) Flickr/michimaya
Rajasthan is a hub of culture, activity, good food, colourful clothes and age-old customs. The hospitality of the local is spoken about far and wide, and I have never seen anyone return from a trip to this beautiful state, disappointed.
In my dream trail, I would want to visit Jaipur and Udaipur again. I know it would be worth another visit because the rich heritage has so much to offer, both my mother and I can soak into the glorious aura of the cities. Apart from these two cities, I also wish to visit Jaisalmer.
Jaisalmer is a childhood dream destination. Anyone who is familiar with Satyajit Ray and his movie Shonar Kella would understand why. I have grown up reading and hearing about the beautiful fortress and it is high time I pay it a visit.
There is so much to do at Jaipur that every time I sit to plan the trip in my head, I wonder if there will be enough time! Of course, I cannot leave the beautiful city without hogging on their delectable street food or shopping to my heart’s fill. Then there will be history to revisit. Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Amer Fort, Jal Mahal, Jaigarh Fort, Jantar Mantar – Oh My God, whatever have I been doing all these years! I have heard that Jaipu has many beautiful Hindu temples as well, which both mother and I would want to visit.
Hawa Mahal #DreamTrail at Jaipur (C) Flickr/Pedro
My memories of visiting Udaipur are not as clear at the moment. One place I do remember was the pristine white and beautiful Lake Palace of Udaipur. I’d also want to visit Saheliyon-kiBari, City Palace, Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake and soak into the Udaipur expereince. The food here is fantastic too; and so is shopping!
Panoramic View of Lake Palace, Udaipur (C) Flickr/Ankur P
At Jaisalmer, I know my dear Shonar Kella will be taking up most of my time – I hope to follow my travel trail to the Thar Heritage Museum, Salim Singh ki HAveli and even to Bada Bagh.
A #DreamTrail to The Havelis of Jaisalmer (C) Flickr/Sanjoy Ghosh
The main idea behind making this trip with my mother is so that she can revisit all those places where my father had taken her and I know her heart will love that. What more do grown up children want, than to fulfil their parents’ dream and my mother has such a small dream – to visit Rajasthan. I wish to take her to the locals and give her a taste of the ways of life, customs, food and culture.