Jaipur -Best Start to 2018 <3

 

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My sister was visiting us and we wanted to go somewhere for new year’s.
“Let’s go to Jaipur cried the child in me who always wanted to go there but somehow every trip that I had planned got cancelled” and to my liking my family agreed to it 😉

We checked for tickets but since it was a last minute plan the Double Decker train which is the most convenient option had no seats left. “Let’s book a cab instead we would anyways need one in Jaipur so why not we take it from here itself” said my genius sister and since this idea made complete sense we availed the MakeMyTrip outstation service and luckily was successful in booking a cab even a day prior to our travel day. I was using this service for the first time and therefore was a bit tensed on how the driver, the quality of seats and the ride would be but it was unexpectedly great. The cab arrived for the pickup on time, it was clean, smelled fresh and the driver was friendly. Thank you Make My Trip for this convenient service that saved our plan  😊

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Excited we left for our long awaited family trip. “Finally! Jaipur here I come”. We reached there in the afternoon and believe you me every stop that we had taken since the moment we had entered Rajasthan served us great food. By the time we reached our destination it was already afternoon so we checked-in our hotel, took some rest and thought of going out for shopping (something my mom was most excited for ).

 Girls if you visit Jaipur do not miss out on Bapu Bazaar, it is Jaipur’s one of the oldest markets where you can find everything like literally everything. This market even kept my brother entertained who does not really enjoy shopping but for a change caught his eyes on a very unique pair of mojris.
I will talk about this market in detail in my next blog since there is so much information to share from the collection to the bargain that you must do here xo xo.

 


Day 2:
Jaipur has so many forts that it gets difficult to pick out the ones that you can visit in a span of 2 days.

 It was 31st Dec and we went to see the Nahargarh Fort. This fort positions at the edge of the Aravali Hills overseeing the city of Jaipur and was built by the Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. This was the residence of the women of the royal household, it’s structure being a two-storied building comprises of suites for the Raja and his 12 Rani’s. This fort is at about 6 kms from the main city and to reach there you would need a vehicle, cars/bikes/autos, you can also get autos that drop you till the entrance of the fort. Timings of the fort are from 10 am to 5:30 pm. We reached there at around noon and  the views from here were impressively scenic like you can factually get a glimpse of entire city from here and we were still wandering outside the main palace.

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The palace was exquisite, its architecture being divided into 9 very similar apartments each including lobby, bedrooms, kitchen, toilet and a store. Another feature of Rajasthani architecture that immediately caught my attention was Jharokha. This not only added to the architectural beauty but also acted as a medium for the women to view the events hosted outside. There were so many Jharokha’s in this palace and also a mini bhool bhulaiya for the dasi’s to hide as soon as the King entered the Rani’s chamber.

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Queen’s mirror selfie

 

 

 

 

because these closed doors at forts really fascinate me

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view of the entire city

 

 

Moving on, since it was new year’s eve and Chokhi Dhani is a must visit we decided to go there and  welcome 2018 by embracing our tradition. Normally the entry fee is 700 rs. but since it was new year’s eve the charges were more than double. It costed us 1600rs per person which were totally worth it, I’ll tell you how. As soon as you enter here you get the feel of a small Rajasthan village, you are welcomed with Dhol and Tika (little red dot on the forehead). On one corner there is a full display of  Rajasthan’s tradition whereas on the other  the delicious Rajasthani food awaits you. Cultural folk music, kalbeliya, Puppet Show, ghoomar dance, live pottery making, camel ride, boat ride, palmistry, loads of games, mehandi  wali, Cave guffa Jharna, Ethnic Costume photography and what not. This place offers you so much that you can end up spending hours here without getting bored for even a minute. There are few shopping stores as well which offer cool traditional stuff but somehow for me Bapu Bazar is the real hero as you get the same things at much lesser prices.

 

Coming to the best part about this place, The food ❤ … OMG! If you are a foodie then this is your Disneyland. The warmth with which you are served is so loving. They offer extremely appetizing pure vegetarian food (North Indian and Rajasthani Cuisines), you might get tired of eating but they won’t ever get tired of serving you, they also won’t let you stop 😉  Chokhi Dhani is definitely a one-stop destination for excitement, entertainment and food.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3:  They say that whatever you do on 1st of Jan is what you might end up doing for the rest of the year and I was in Jaipur exploring the city I had never been to earlier, such a satisfying feeling for a wanderer like me. We decided to go to Amer Fort today and cover Jal mahal on our way. Jal Mahal is probably the most peaceful sight amidst the chaos of the city which seems to float in the center of Sagar Lake.  There is nothing much to do here apart from gazing at the most magnificent construction and  getting some lovely pictures clicked, it being the most photographed monument.

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11kms away from the main city was Amer fort, the one that I really wanted to explore. Although we missed the elephant ride ( you can experience it only till 11 am, post that only 1 elephant gives a ride till noon due to few misfortunate incidents that have happened in the past). The visiting hours of this fort are from 8 am till 6pm with an entry fee of rs. 25 per person. If you are someone who is really interested in the architecture of a place then you will be as spellbound as I was, built with red and white sandstone this fort is a remarkable example of ancient Indian architecture, “how were these forts even constructed back then without all the modern machineries and equipments that we have these days” this question always pops up in my head.

 

 

The blend of Rajput architecture with animal designs and mughal architecture with  floral patters shows how secular the architecture really was, carvings on the walls and ceilings being the extraordinary aspect of this palace. It comprises of various buildings:

Diwan-e- Aam  – Hall of public audience that stands on two ornamented pillars. This is where the king use to address the queries of the masses.

Sukh Mandir – The place where the queens and Kings relaxed.

Sheesh Mahal – For me this was the most beautiful part of this palace. According to the tradition back then women were not allowed to sleep in open air, and the King solved this problem by building the mirror palace, beautiful and creative carvings on the walls and ceilings were made with glass which with the reflection of light appeared as little shiny stars and this is how queens use to sleep under the stars.

Kesar Kyaari – Star shaped garden where saffron plants were planted back then ( just think about the change in the climate now and wonder what we are doing to the environment).

 

There are so many things to do in this fort that you would at least need an entire day to reconnoiter it completely. Listing down a few things that you can experience here:

  • Elephant ride around the fort
  • Light show at night
  • Visit to the museum and garden inside the fort
  • Panoramic sight from Char garden which offers a view of the entire Jaipur city.
  • Traditional dance that takes place in the evening in Sukh Mahal.
  • Puppet shows and traditional songs. These are available during dinner time.
  • Really cool Turban museum which is for free and has a large collection of turbans.
  • Lots of temples in the palace along with old havelies.

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I don’t know about you but such cities with lots of historical significance really mesmerize me, I end up imagining how life would have been then, how the road that I’m walking on now would have been guarded by so many soldiers and cavalry. The air would have been so fresh, how instead of the mobile ringtones and car horns you would hear raag’s and alaap’s.

Jaipur treated us really well, from mouth-watering food to beautiful places, “Thankyou beta for the best start to the year said my mom to us ❤  “

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TRIUND, You Beauty <3 

 

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“His birthday is coming, what do I do for him this time? What can I do different??? he did mention once how he always wanted to go to Dharamshala so why not take him there” I thought to myself, “Brilliant” exclaimed my inner voice.
It was December and the entire surprise trip was planned, he landed Delhi during the day and we had a bus to catch later that night. Again, we were 4 friends different people this time (to relate to this you will have to read my first blog :P)
We had booked our travel by HRTC-14 Himsuta A/C (Volvo) Seater . The boarding point was ISBT Delhi and per ticket cost was Rs. 1011. This was my first travel with HRTC and I was really impressed. The bus was right on time, no delays, comfortable ride and made us reach before expected arrival time. You can book your tickets/hotel via MakeMyTrip to avail discount offers, that’s what we did 😉
https://www.makemytrip.com
We reached at around 6 in the morning and took a cab from McLeod Ganj bus stop to our hotel ‘Turkish Cottage’, which was near Bhagsunath falls. It was so early that there was no one at the hotel reception, this dog who was sleeping outside got up and started wagging his tail, “play with me”, pleaded his puppy eyes. Do dogs sense people who are fond of them???? Me being a big time dog lover was enchanted to see him and while others were busy tracking the receptionist I was busy playing with ’Param’, yes that’s what we named him 😛 .  Since the check-in time was not till noon and I desperately wanted to go out and explore we decided to walk till Bhagsunath waterfalls which was a kilometer away from the hotel. Those beautiful pahadi mornings and that morning walk, turns out we weren’t exhausted anymore.  We were the only people there at that hour which made it even more striking, we sat there and relaxed for a while, finally the morning I was waiting for ❤

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My Param :*

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Finally we checked-in our hotel, the rooms were decent and the staff was nice and helpful. “Should we take some rest and then go out sight-seeing asked my friend” , my frown was enough to make him understand my answer. We hired a cab to help us cover the stretches between Dharamshala and McLeaod Ganj but first we needed to eat.

McLeod Ganj can be bliss for all the foodie’s out there with so many cafe’s that serve mouth-watering food. The food of these cafe’s and the ambience they offer really add to your travel experience. I visited few such cafe’s and absolutely loved them all:
• The Clay Oven
• Tibet Kitchen
• Nick’s Italian Kitchen
• One Two Café
• McLio Cafe

 


The towns of Dharamsala, Mcleodganj, Bhagsu Nag and Kangra are positioned very close to each other so we planned on covering all these destinations. McLeod Ganj is famous for it’s relaxed wipe and hippie vibes. Settled amongst majestic hills and lush greenery, this town is culturally blessed by a prominent Tibetan influence. Few of the most renowned and religiously significant monasteries in India are situate here, including the Namgyal Monastery and Tsuglagkhang, where the spiritual leader Dalai Lama resides.

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Finally it was the morning I was desperately waiting for, it was the day when we had to start our trek to TRIUND. Triund is the crown jewel of Dharamshala which is a popular trekking spot. The entire trek is of around 10 kms which you can easily cover in approximately 4 hours (including refreshment breaks). The trail is comparatively easy and is not too exhausting. We took a cab till Gallu Devi Temple and started the trek from there instead of keeping Mcleodganj as the starting point since we wanted to save our energy for the main trek. You must start at around 10 am-11 am if you want to reach there on time because believe me you MUST NOT miss the sunset.

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“How much is left?” cried my friend. “ You have just started” smirked the traveller trekking down. The beauty of this trek is that you meet so many people along the trek trail, from all age groups some trekking towards the top while few trekking down so even if you are traveling alone you won’t be alone. There are various stalls like the ‘Magic View cafe’ that offer refreshments in the middle so you can just take a break, relax for a while and enjoy the magical view of Dharamshala from there. While we were doing the same we met another friend ‘Dharam’ who immediately joined us and stayed with us throughout.

 

 

 

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“In around 3.5 hours we were there, and Oh MY God! Is this place for real? So close to Delhi? Why I didn’t come here earlier? Can a place be so serene and yet can welcome tourists and provide them with all that they would need to spend a night ? “ So many questions popped in my head and all I could tell myself was “Finally you are here” ❤
You must spend the night here guys because trust me you do not want to miss out on the awe-inspiring sunset and sunrise view from here. You need not carry your own tent since you can get that easily from any of the shops positioned there, a tent for 2 person is for Rs. 500 which includes two sleeping bags. We took ours from ‘Chacha’, as everyone use to call him there, we also took two blankets (200 rs. each) since the temperature falls drastically at night. Do remember to layer up if you are visiting in the colder months since it gets really really chilly at night.

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It was sunset and I had never ever experienced an evening so beautiful, the beauty of Triund is such that at the front side you get the view of the mighty Himalayas whereas to the back is the stunning view of Dharamshala. Soon it was dark and the sky was full of stars, a born-fire was arranged and ‘Chacha’ who was born and brought up there narrated us some really fascinating stories about Triund, the travellers and the surrounding areas. It was the first time I had slept in a tent and that feeling cannot be described in words, you simply cannot understand it unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Listing down a few things that you must carry with yourself :
• Comfortable trekking pants, Jackets – Windproof with hood preferable to keep you warm from the cold wind.
• Woolen clothes, Dry Socks 3 or 4 pairs.
• Comfortable Trekking shoes
• Raincoat- it sometimes rains in the morning.
• A Weightless Towel, a Water Bottle,
• Chapstick (moisturizer for lips), sunblock, Mosquito repellent.
• At night, Torch is a must with extra batteries.
• A light backpack with all your essentials, please keep it light.
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That day I realized how important it is to go to a place like this and realize how beautiful the world really is. The sky can be this clear at day and full of stars at night. Where there is no mobile signal to deprive your loved ones of the time they truly deserve, where you can socialize in real sense with the people who have always lived there and listen to some great pahaadi stories. Believe you me, no fancy hotel can match up to the feeling of sleeping in a tent and waking up to a view that I had woken up to the next morning ❤
“Thankyou for the best birthday ever” exclaimed my friend……….

 

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How travelling to Goa in Monsoons was the best Decision ever!!!!!

IMG_1833Me being a travel freak wanted to spend my birthday somewhere anywhere but not in Gurgaon…. 
After a lot of discussion we decided to re-visit Goa,  revisit because this was going to be my 4th trip to Goa but in Goa monsoons ??????
“It’s ok we can perhaps chill in the resort and go out when it won’t rain. You anyways love rains don’t you?” said my bestie :*

 

Perplexed with our decision we proceeded to book the tickets and resort (I am always eager to make reservations since that gives me a surety of the trip 😉  )
To our amusement flight tickets were so cheap and the resorts that you would think twice before booking in peak seasons were available at such cheap prices.  We booked Living Room by Seasons hotel at 1716 rs. per night per room which if you search for around Dec- Feb will be available at 3500 rs.

This was the first good thing about Goa in monsoons which kind of ruined me for life because till then I was a person who would book a room with basic amenities, “ Visit a place to explore that city and not to waste money on a luxurious room” use to shout my inner voice. “What is the harm in living in a luxurious resort, I can still explore right???” murmurs the cheat traveler spirit in me now 😉
Finally we reached the destination I never get bored of…GOA ❤
There is something about this place that makes you fall in love with it and in my case you can say I’m head over heels in love with it.

 

Sometimes I wonder, what is it that makes me come back here again and again, is it coastal breeze, the historic locations, the unexplored stretches or is it the lifestyle and the culture of this city. I still don’t know, all I know is I am at peace when I am here.
We were four friends and so we decided to rent a car instead of  a two wheeler since this way we all could travel together. If it’s your first trip  I would strongly recommend you to rent a two wheeler (scooty), believe me you won’t regret it. Two wheeler (scooty ) was available at 150 rs. and car rental for 900 rs. per day which was almost half of what we had paid last year.Although you would still need to bargain ( girls you need to make full use of your sarojini skills here 😉).
We reached our resort and the lady at the reception was kind enough to upgrade our rooms. She said she liked us which really flattered us but in our hearts we knew that it is because there aren’t many people in the resort 😉  so you pay for less and get more. Thankyou monsoons and all those who think goa in rains is a bad idea, it hadn’t rained till then by the way.
Since this trip was so offbeat and I was dying to go to Curlies (my fav place) we went their for lunch instead of Dinner. Curlies is one of the first beach shacks located on Anjuna Beach. Chilled beer , oceanic view, yummy food with the sound of waves is what Curlies has to offer you. Last time when we went there it was so crowded that we could hardly get our order in time and this time we could sit and relax and actually enjoy our beer. While we were still relaxing on Anjuna beach it started drizzling , “Should we return to the resort” asked my friend however by the time we could answer his question it stopped. Wow! my prayers were never answered this quick. Was it the magic of my  Birthday special deal with god?  The good thing about Goa rains is that there won’t be a heavy downpour and it won’t last for long. If you are someone who enjoys little drops of rain splashing across your face, you are going to love it.

P.S. If you want to go to Curlies do not ever park your vehicle at the start of Anjuna beach always take the parking behind curlies).

 

 

Since this was not  the first time we were here we really wanted to ditch the conventional beaches and visit the one’s less explored. We went to Morjim which is one of the quieter beaches but at that time, it was even more pretty and peaceful with minimum people. Were we really in North Goa? It felt like it was our private beach, we were able to take pictures , dance, and literally run around and make a fool of ourselves, the inexorable problem of Goa was solved 😉. Icing on the cake was when it started drizzling. The place was illuminated by the little drops from the sky which left us mesmerized. Was I feeling cold in July in goa???? I had never spent a day more beautiful than this in Goa before, a different experience all together.
There are few places that I never want to miss out on when I Visit GOA and Britto’s at Baga beach is one such place. We went there for lunch and to our surprise we got a beach facing table at once which trust me had never happened before.

 
If you are a shopaholic like me and love cool funky colorful stuff then this is your place. Even though saturday Night market is really famous and considered to be the best I feel it’s overpriced. You get the same stuff outside at much lesser prices. During off seasons because the crowd is less you can actually get your hands on some really cool stuff at much lesser prices but of course you need to bargain. The shop keepers realize that the probability of people visiting a shop after you is much less therefore they end up selling stuff at reasonable prices so yayyeeee!!!!

 

There are many forts in Goa but the picture-postcard view of Chapora fort and Vagator Beach really attracts me. This time we could stay longer here because instead of the heat ball on our head it was all cloudy and pleasant.
For all the party people out there, not all clubs are closed. The happening TITO’s lane is as open as it is during peak seasons. In fact this time we decided to not go to my all time favourite club ‘Love Passion Karma’ and try this club called SINQ Beach Club. The cover charge for couple entry was for 2000 rs. which includes unlimited alcohol (specific ones). The Music there was so good, if you enjoy Bollywood tracks, this place has all the possible remixes and is a MUST visit. 

http://sinq.in/ 

 

 

This offseason trip totally changed my outlook on this place, it made me realize that there is much more to Goa than just beaches and parties and visiting during monsoons is the perfect time to relax and experience a more local side to the city and enjoy it’s lavish country side. Another attraction at this time is it’s culturally rich festivals like-  Sao Joao (June 24),  Bonderam (August) and Ganesh Chaturthi (September).

 

So if you have been to goa before during peak seasons, please do visit goa in monsoons and you will experience a totally different side of Goa. For all those who have never been there, you should first visit during peak seasons only then all this would make sense.

 

All I would like to say is Thankyou Goa for making my birthday so special ❤

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Anjuna Beach

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