Banavasi is a small yet significant town in Karnataka. The first time I went there, all I knew was that there were some really nice old sculptures. Second time around, I knew no better. But thankfully I had a very knowledgeable companion with me. I was told that Banavasi used to be the capital during the Kadamba dynasty. This lush green town is rich in both beauty and culture.
The main attraction is the Madhukeshwara temple, built in the 9th century by the Kadambas. The structure is monolithic and is beautifully carved. The other rulers of Banavasi went on adding structures to the main temple. But we will come to that later. Although I am not much of a ‘temple person’, this place sure had a certain mystic calm about it.
The Shiva temple has a huge stone Nandi placed at the entrance, its more than 8ft tall. There are many ornately carved pillars and there are stone benches, with a central circular floor, giving the feeling of a ‘sabha’. It is said that a very famous dancer Shantala used to dance here (she later on married a Hoysala ruler – another dynasty which made many wonderful monuments and even has sculptures inspired from her).
The area surrounding the temple has many idols of nearly all the main deities. There is a vertically half idol of Ganesha, signifying his bachelorhood stage and it is believed that the other half is in Varanasi. There is a five-hooded Naga sculpture dating back to the 2nd century. It has an inscription in Prakrit (the old language). There is also a very unique idol there, unique because when you see it in the morning, the face looks childish, in the afternoon it looks like an adult and in the evening – that of an old man! I saw it in the evening. Buddhism and Jainism influences can also be found in Banavasi.
Outside the temple, you will also find a huge rath minutely carved ofcourse. Those ancient people wouldn’t have it any other way.
The river Varada flows nearby. There are also many beautiful ponds in Banavasi. Pampa, the first Kannada poet and also the court poet of Chalukyas, stayed in this town and wrote many verses praising the beauty of Banavasi.
It is said, that during the reign of Samrat Ashok, Banavasi was a learning centre for Buddhist monks. Banavasi finds a mention even in the Mahabharatha. In 1st centaury A.D. Greek geographer Ptomlemy mentioned Banavasi as ‘Banousi’ in his famous book. I was told that recently a 5th century copper coin was discovered here with an inscription in the Kannada script, one of the oldest such coins ever discovered.
There are many artisans in this town who make sandalwood sculptures, Yakshagana masks, etc. “Kadambotsava” – a cultural festival is organized by the Govt. every year featuring folk dancers, drama troupes, classical musicians and art exhibitions.
It was quite a pleasant second visit, I hope I get to see the ‘unique’ idol in its childish face stage when I visit Banavasi again.
Pasighat is the oldest town (established in 1911) of the extreme eastern state of the country- Arunachal Pradesh. Situated at the banks of river Siang, this is a fairly small town surrounded with lush green beauty of Himalayan Mountains. The town is not exactly in the mountains… it is actually at the foothills hence the weather is pleasant here both in summer and winter.
How do I reach?
Hmm… interesting question. The nearest airports are at North Lakhimpur (Assam) and Dibrugarh (Assam). But you have many options…
A 16 hour bus journey directly from Guwahati to Pasighat.
An 18 hour train journey from Rangia (Assam) to Murkongselek (Assam). Murkongselek is 35 km from Pasighat and you get plenty of local transport from Murkongselek to Pasighat.
Take a flight to North Lakhimpur (250 km from Pasighat) and from there you get bus and hired taxi services.
There are also Helicopter flights from Dibrugarh and Itanagar to Pasighat.
The Last but the most enjoyable option(my vote!) is to take a flight to Dibrugarh and then a ferry ride upstream on river Brahmputra from Dibrugarh to Oriam ghat or majherbadi ghat and then you get local conveyance from any of the ghats.
NOTE1: The train journey is the most hopelessly boring option of all… that’d be last in my options list.
NOTE 2: You need an inner line permit (ILP) to enter the state Arunachal Pradesh- they are checked at the check points located on Assam- Arunachal border on every road (yeah, cry irony all you want, but you need a permit to roam around in your own country). You can get an ILP made from the Liaison offices situated in Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, North Lakhimpur and Jorhat.
Where do I stay?
This is a tricky one. Because tourism is not an industry here, the hotels in Pasighat are pretty ordinary. So if you’d want a little more luxury, your only option is the govt. guest house- Siang Guest House. I’ve read on some websites that accommodation is available on three places- Siang Guest House, Circuit House and Inspection Bungalow. Don’t get misguided by this fact- all the three are the one and same (Ha Ha!). The booking for the room at Siang Guest House is done at DC office.
Ok tell me some more…
You can visit almost any time in the year except for the rainy season and I can assure you that the weather will be among the best in the country. The Rainy season is a problem because it rains extremely heavy… it rains continuously sometimes even for a month in this season. Well, even if you plan to visit Pasighat in Rainy season, you won’t be able to make it till here because all the routes are flooded at that time.
As I said earlier, tourism is not established as an industry here. So much that you may not even get a guide to show you around. This may be a drawback of this place but this also is its USP. You get to enjoy the beauty in its Virgin form- unaltered by the inherent hazards of tourism industry like environmental destruction. Also you see what you like… not what the selectively permeable spectacles of a guide show you.
The place is full of scenic beauty… Go to river Siang or its countless supporting streams any time of day and you get a photographer’s paradise. Arunachal Pradesh is known for its sunrise which is the first sunrise of whole country everyday so make sure you get up early enough to catch it (nearly 4:45 am in summers and 5:30 am in winters). If you are into wildlife, you can visit Daying Ering wildlife sanctuary. The Sanctuary provides domicile for a variety of animal species like leopard, civet cat, leopard cat, sambar, barking deer, Wild boar, Porcupine, Stripped squirrel, Jackal, Python. The sanctuary is also home to a number of endangered birds like the Indian skimmer and spot-billed Pelican. It also hosts quite a few migratory birds.
You can also see the hanging bridge- made up of bamboo it is a marvel of tribal engineering. You can also go to Pangin to see the point where river Siom meets river Siang presenting a spectacular sight. If you have come here in winter, you can also visit Rangin- a place famous for its orange farms.
If you like adventure sports, Pasighat is the place to be. The River Siang is ideally suited for rafting, fishing and angling. Trekking also another very good option to explore that the natural beauty that this place beholds and also to get a closer look at the tribal lifestyle. If you are more of an indoor person, you might as well stay in the guest house- enjoying the brilliant climate, sipping the famous Assam tea and romancing with books .
Since tourism is yet to find its niche as an industry here, visiting Pasighat will provide you a fresh experience- different from your typical hill station. The calm and serene beauty of this place provides a perfect refuge for an escape from helter –skelter, run here- run there life style. The added bonus of this place is that because it is situated in the foothills, the climate here is gentle and the weather remains pleasant even in winters implicating, you can even visit and enjoy the place in winters.
Below are my humble attempts to capture the natural beauty of this place.
PS: Due acknowledgements to Mani Padma who motivated me enough to write a travelogue, which, I never thought I could write
Bring the mouse to the bottom portion of the slideshow for the details on the picture as well as the control keys for slideshow
Hi! I am back with the next JITC for you and though our jewel is a tiny one – all of 25 sq km compared to Delhi’s 1484sq km, it is quite strategically located. The hill station, at 1220 m altitude, in the Aravallis, the only one in Rajasthan is more of an oasis and has been quite popular with the tourists from Rajasthan and Gujarat. But rather than being famous as a conventional hill station it is more famous for the Dilwara Jain temples and in recent years as a headquarter of Brahmakumari’s spiritual centre. Not to mention the World Spiritual University and of course Ekta Kapoor made it famous in her daily soap Kasamh Se
Reaching Mt Abu is no problem as it is really well connected , with butter smooth roads nor is the accommodation, with havelis turned into hotel or conventional hotels and guesthouses
As I always say, there is no lack of information of this small town, as you will always get enough both from hearsay and the net, I will just attempt to bring before you my own personal observations ( which you can say tips)
As it is a small area, it can be covered in just a day and half , so you can club it with your trip to Udaipur, the beautiful lake city just 185 kms away
The roads are simply lovely and if you are a learner (learning to drive) then the roads are best for some smooth practice.
If you are a nature person, then don’t get fooled by the Hill station tag. It is beautiful in its own way, an oasis among the sandy rugged landscape, but it is not a hill station with alpine forests and winding twisting climbing roads
The Guru Shikhar Peak is the highest peak.
Don’t be tempted by the road conditions and attempt to drive in at night as there are unconfirmed reports of robbery in the highway leading up to Mt Abu.
Dilwara temples from 11th -13th century are its primary attraction, but photography is not allowed inside.
Other than that of course, there is the hot favorite for strolling, boating and shopping – Nakki jheel or lake. It’s a point you will not miss nor can miss it.
There are other tourist points like the sunset point, the Achalgarh fort, the famous Trevor’s Tank, Adhar Devi temple and many more.
You will find the strange rock formations lining the road , an interesting sight ( some of which you will find in the slide show)
While there don’t forget to try the Dal Bati chorma – a local dish- the trademark Rajasthani dish in fact- quite unique.
Shopping for Rajasthani block print cloths and lehenga choli is a must. They are rightly priced and affordable- one that will bring a smile to the women of your family.
You can go for camel riding and have a feel of being in the Desert State.
What I found quaint was the hand carts type of thingy near the Nakki Jheel used to transport to and fro the market and up to your hotel. You can ride in one just for the experience.
Being in Mt Abu is an experience in itself, which cannot be measured in words. Here I have attempted to portray Mt. Abu through the images that struck me, while there! Other wise Mt Abu is of course much more than these.
Ok this isn’t about Lady Gaga! But its my about my jewel Goa of the crown called India.
Yes friends ,I am back again to take you from the heights of Spiti to the depths of the Arabian Sea in Goa, but first of all I would like to say that – Since Mani couldn’t be every where God created Jayati (I know its a corny line but couldn’t think of anything better) So Friends please welcome Jayati as my co author for JITC from hence on.
Goa as per statistics is one of the most frequented tourist spot both by the domestic crowd and the International tourists and if you google search it there is no dearth of information on this beautiful Coastal state with its beautiful beaches, quaint culture and lovely countryside
What I have attempted is to present before you a kaleidoscope of myriad images of Goa with some very personal observations
And as I always say, Goa is of course much more than these!
The location of Goa is obvious to all. Its in the western coast in between Maharashtra in the north and Karnataka in the south.(of course You know it, but it seems I am supposed to say it) Reaching Goa is not at all a problem too as it is covered by airways, roadways and railways,
Nor is finding accommodation as the place is bustling with hotels, resorts and villas of all ranges. Unless you have any special preferences you can always find decent accommodation even after landing there
If you are looking for a decent economical accommodation with a great view of the beach from your hotel window then head for the tourism hotel in Colva beach. Believe me the above combination of decent, economical room with a view is hard to find
Getting around Goa is no problem at all, as you are spoilt with variety of choices like –Taxis, Motorcycle Taxis (cool isn’t it guys? You get paid for taking a gal around in a bike, but of course it is your choice, whether to charge or not to charge) ferries, buses etc. But the best option I think is renting out a bike and exploring around on your own.
Exploring Goa properly requires three days minimum- North Goa , South Goa and Panjim and Old Goa not to mention hanging out in the hippest night clubs in the evenings and a river cruise in the Mandovi River.
The terrain ranges in between an altitude of sea level to 1022 m of the ghats and so are the varieties in the places of interest. Beaches, countryside, architecture, market, water falls, temples, churches night life – everything.
Beaches of North Goa and South Goa are distinctly different; in fact each has a unique charm of its own. It is said that beaches of south goa has white sands.
Some of the uniquely famous places are Basilica of Bom Jesus, the flea market in Anjuna beach, Dudh Sagar Waterfalls, Donna Paula, Fort Aguada the old house are some of the examples.
The best time to visit Goa is in winters when you can laze around in the sun or indulge in water sports. The famous carnival is also held during the winters.But if you like to stay away from the crowd and enjoy the rains and the green country side then monsoons is the time for you. Just take rain gear with you.Do not forget to take a moonlight walk in the beach. The beach looks ethereally beautiful at night.(especially if you are planning to propose anybody)
One of the hippest night spot is Mambos in Baga beach. You will see a good crowd; find the coolest music and a great choice of drinks.
For shopping point of view, Goa is famous for Feni(an alcoholic drink) and Cashew nuts and shells as mementoes. Its better to stick to these articles only.
Every place on earth has its sleazy characters so is in Goa but that would not make me declare it as an unsafe place because I have seen strangers help us out even at night 2am when we had an accident without expecting anything in return.
The only point is that just relax but remain cautious and nothing untoward should happen. A small warning- Don’t go for freebies and offers from strangers in the roadside
I may be wrong in some of my observations as I am writing all from memory and will be glad if anybody points it out. Of course Goa is much much more than these but these are just some of my personal remarks as you will see no dearth of information regarding Goa
At the end, I would like to sign off with just this small request- please don’t drink and drive. Thanks.
Hello friends. Here I am back again to unfold yet another pictorial travelogue and the jewel for you is Spiti, in Himachal pradesh. Barren, desolate, stark landscapes situated at a formidable altitude , breathtaking(quite literally )but beautiful place
Mystical Spiti shot into limelight with the John Abraham and Udita Goswami starrer movie Paap
Rudyard Kipling described Spiti in his book as “At last they entered a world within a world, a valley of leagues where the high hills were fashioned of the mere rubble and refuse from off the knees of the mountains-surely the Gods live here- this place is no place for men.”
Capturing spiti in words is as difficult reaching it, Spiti being one of the most remote and sparsely populated region, but its beauty is also as unique and as unconventional as its location.
Spiti along with Lahaul form the northernmost district of Himachal Pradesh ,sharing its international boundary with Tibet.
•Spiti valley is quite vast around 150 sq km even if it is remote and covering Spiti in a conventional holiday fashion was a bit daunting for us due to our time and travel constraints. So though our target was kaza the most important town of Spiti and the district headquarter, we had to turn back from Tabo, another significant spot of Spiti
•Hence In today’s write up I will be sharing tidbits from my own adventure in Spiti as travel tips
There are two ports of entry to Spiti-one-NH22 from shimla-rampur-powari-pooh-Khab-Nako-sumdo
•The other is through Manali-kunzum la- koksar-kaza
•NH22 is being maintained throughout by the BRO this being an important arterial road.The other highway remains closed for 7 months in winter
•And of course I haven’t heard of crossing over from the Tibetan side yet .
The last petrol pump before Kaza is Powari, so it is better to tank up fuel and if possible take an extra gallon. The vehicle should be in tip top condition with sturdy new tyres if possible. A four wheel drive could be a better option. Repair shops are almost non existent, or for that matter even human population
Since you will be traveling at altitudes more than 3000 m, it is necessary that you stopover at Sangla or Sarahan to acclimatize. It is said by the locals that the blessing of Goddess Bhimakali in Sarahan is beneficial for proceeding on wards to Spiti
Foreigners require online permit at the checkpoint in Pooh to proceed onwards. Don’t confuse this as the entry point to Spiti just as we did because you have a long way to go before reaching Sumdo which is the gateway to Spiti.
Night driving is to be avoided at any cost. First –the road is on the rougher side and second –you will miss the awesome sights
if you like a royal spread as your dinner or lunch, then you will be disappointed as Spiti has very little to offer as a menu due to obvious reasons. The PWD guesthouse keeper at Sumdo was ready to let us the whole three bedroom house at Rs 200 but not at all willing to sell even one potato from his veggie basket. So get the idea?
Beware of rain and storm in Spiti as the Mountains are all gravelly and sandy so one strong puff of wind and ….all fall down.
All along the road at regular intervals and in villages you will see prayer flags fluttering . A sign of the Buddhist influence.
The Tabo Gompa founded in AD 996 is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
On the way to Spiti, you can visit the Nako lake, which of course is a part of Kinnaur.Covering the distance from Kalpa to Tabo in a day is possible if you make an early start and don’t encounter any roadblocks.
Accommodation is available in Tabo, not the luxury ones, but basic and warm, and of course cheap
If you are afraid of heights and if the stark moonscape like terrain does not sound appealing to you then Spiti isn’t your cup of tea.
Through these photos I have attempted to bring before you a little part of Spiti to you, but as I always say, Spiti, of course is much more than these.
As some references I have taken the aid of Koko Singh’s Driving Holidays in the Himalayas.
Padmanabhapuram palace, situated in the southern most tip of India is considered to be the biggest wooden palace in Asia. The palace complex was constructed around 1601 A.D by Travancore king Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal.
Location : 55 km away from Thiruvananthapuram on the highway to Nagarcoil-Kanyakumari, 15 Km from Nagercoil and some 30 Km from Kanyakumari. You can either set your base camp in Thiruvananthapuram or Kanyakumari and make a visit to this palace.
Timings: The palace is open between 9 Am to 4.30 Pm all days except Mondays and National holidays.
Padmanabhapuram palace covers an area of around 7 acres. The complex consists of individual structures linked by a maze of corridors, colonnades, verandahs, courts and constructed of teakwood and granite and stands within the massive stone walls of 30 ft.
The sprawling complex consists of:
Mantrasala, literal meaning, King’s Council Chamber
Thai Kottaram, literal meaning, Mother’s Palace – believed to have been constructed before 1550
Nataksala, literal meaning, the Hall of Performance, or of Performing Arts
A four-storeyed building at the centre of the Palace complex
Thekee Kottaram, literal meaning, the Southern Palace
The palace is a standing proof of the exquisite Kerala architecture and houses brilliant woodworks.
Each lotus motif in the wooden ceiling is unique in design…
The floors are made with a special compound of crushed shells, coconuts, egg-white and juices of local plants that gives a high quality polish that is remarkable even now after 400 years.
A fine detailing on wood add the charm and reminds us the talent of the artisans those days …
A wooden cot made of up to 64 wooden pieces of a variety of medicinal tree trunks… An entire room filled with old Chinese jars, all gifts by Chinese merchants.
Women folks of the royal family sit behind this wooden barrier and use the openings to see the cultural programs in the ground floor hall… there by staying away from the men’s glare…
Part of the dance hall …
A big hall now bare, which can accommodate around 1000 guests, and where ceremonial feasts were held, on auspicious occasions.
A King’s toilet facility made in granite! (It must be a luxury those days!)
A granite sculpture …
There are 108 rooms and some portions of the palace are closed for public view to protect it from damage.
A variety of weapons (which were actually used in warfare), including swords and daggers are in display.
The palace also exhibits brass lamps, wood and stone sculpture, a variety of furniture and large mirrors made of polished metal.
A gallery of paintings depicting incidents from the history of Travancore can also be viewed in the palace.