Arunachal Pradesh-: The Land Unexplored

So after spending a couple of months in my home,I finally decided to move my lazy ass and begin a new journey. A journey of self discovery and exploring some new unexplored places. For this trip I had no plans and I did not expect anything either. I was planning to travel in India again and since I had been to all the places in India,I planned about exploring the only part where I’d never been to, the Northeast. It was perfect for me as I was planing to go to a place where not many people have been to. Lately there has been really good rise in tourism for NorthEast,which has made traveling to some parts easier but yet there are a few places which is hard to reach and I planned to start by visiting those places first.

I reached Guwahati as it is the Gateway to The NorthEast. I spent a couple of days in Guwahati before I started my journey towards Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. I knew that the journey was going to be long and painful but I had no idea about what was waiting for me. So,on the planned date I began my journey from Guwahati to Tezpur in Assam. I reached Tezpur and I went to the bus station thinking that there are buses available from Tezpur for Tawang but that wasn’t true. There are these Tata Sumo’s available which leave at 5:30 in the morning and reach Tawang after 8 in the night. What I could’ve done is wait in Tezpur for the day and take the Sumo available next day. But being the crazy adventurous person that I am,I decided to HitchHike all the way till Tawang. So I began asking cars to drop me at Bhalukpong which is at the border of Assam and Arunachal. That is the same place where they check the permits. So after waiting for an hour, finally I got a car which was heading towards the same direction. I reach Bhalukpong and the officials check my permit and stuff. After that began the challenge of finding a car that was heading towards either Tawang or Bomdila. For those who don’t have an experience of hitchhiking,let me tell you it’s not an easy job. I finally managed to get a lift and the view right from the starting was so mesmerizing and intriguing. After 5 hours of traveling I finally managed to reach Bomdila. It was somewhere around 4:30pm and then I got a little bit mote adventurous and decided to try and reach Tawang the same night. So I had something to eat in Bomdila and started trying to hitchhike again. After standing for 2 hour, finally I got an army truck to stop and they told me that they would be going to Sela pass and they will drop me there. Sela pass is somewhere around 4 hours away from Bomdila. Sela is located at an height of 4500m. There are a lot of stories about why the place is named Sela. Legends say that during the 1962 India-China war,an army man known as Jaswant Singh held down the entire Chinese army with the help of two local women known as Sela and Nura for 72 hours. The women supplied food and amuniton to Jaswant Singh and Jaswant Singh alone killed around 150 Chinese army men. The Chinese people were so angry at Jaswant Singh,when they killed him, they cut off his head and took it to China. That’s what the local people ,army men and wikipedia say. I don’t know if it’s true or not.  So ya, I reached Sela around 10:30 in the night. Thanks to the army men, they helped me to get another ride to Tawang and I didn’t had to wait for too long at Sela in that freezing -8 degree celcius. So after driving for 3 more hours I reached Tawang and damn,the town still looked beautiful at night. Even my stay in Tawang was much more beautiful and amazing than I had expected it to be. I met some really amazing people in the time that I’d spent here in the NorthEast. People here are so friendly. Whatever people say about NorthEast is completely fake. Yes,there are some issues close to the border but other than that people are really helpful and friendly.  Even the owner of the hotel was really helpful. He showed me around Tawang in his car and he didn’t even take money for that. I was in Tawang for 3 days. So,on the 2nd day I hired a car and visisted  Shungetsar lake which is situated in a little bit higher altitude than Tawang.This was one of the most beautiful places around Tawang. The road can be very steep and hazardous, road condition is not that great but the view is worth the pain. Since it falls in a military controlled zone, they don’t allow vehicles to enter after 1pm. So you have to wake up around 5:30am and leave by 6am. Also,one should definitely visit the world famous Tawang Monastery. That place has a different vibe altogether.

So from Tawang my plan was to head back into Assam and visit Majuli:-The biggest riverine island in the world. That’s a story for another blog.

 

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Varanasi:- The City of Salvation,Life And Death

“Varanasi”:-The first word which comes to my mind when I hear about the city is “Intense”. You might have been to almost every city in the entire fucking world, but when you visit Varanasi,you are bound to feel something different. It is a different world altogether.

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Kids playing and a cremation happening at the same time, right next to each other.

Situated on the banks of river Ganga,Banaras,Kashi or Varanasi has such a mystic charm and is the spiritual capital of India. Mark Twain ince said, “Bananas is older than history, older than tradition,older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” And he couldn’t have been more right about this city.The city illumines truth and reveals reality. It does not bring new wonders into the scope of vision, but enables one to see what is already there. Varanasi is a strange city, you can feel like a dweller and an alien at the same time. Varanasi is a city famous for its small alleys which lead you to the ghats. Bananas has around 88 ghats and all of the ghats has their own name and a long history to why it has that particular name. Not all of the ghats are used for bathing. Two of the 88 ghats are used for cremations, namely Raja Harishchadra Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat. The cremation procedure in Manikarnika Ghat is more in the old traditional way where as cremation in Raja Harishchandra ghat is mostly done by using electric crematorium. The famous evening aarti on the ghats of Varanasi is done at Dasashwamedh ghat at 7:15pm. Experiencing and being present during the aarti time is an experience altogether in itself. It is so surreal and mesmerizing. Around thousands of people gather everyday during the aarti time. So if you’re in Varanasi,you cannot miss it. When you walk through every ghat in Varanasi, there is a really different feeling you’ll feel. You can see dead bodies being cremated and then exactly on the next ghat you can see kids playing cricket. I guess, that is the closest encounter you’ll have with life and death. When walking in the ghats, just be careful of pickpockets and self proclaimed Saints or Sadhus.

 

 

When in Varanasi,make sure to do a morning boat ride in the holy Ganges. That is a different experience altogether. You can see the city waking up, the sun rising, kids learning how to swim,people washing their clothes, dead bodies being cremated. Cremation in Varanasi happens all the time,so don’t be surprised to see fire all the time. When you will be taking a boat ride, don’t be surprised to see one or two dead bodies floating on the surface of the river. I encountered something like this and when I asked my friend about this, he told me that it is another ritual for dead bodies. But, apart from that the entire morning boat ride is a surreal experience.

 

 

Now about the history of the city of Varanasi,according to legend,Varanasi was founded by Lord Shiva.There happened a fight between the two supreme gods, Brahma and Shiva, and the succeeding combat resulted in one of the four heads of Brahma being torn off by Shiva. It was a custom of the time that the victor carried the slain adversary’s head in his hand and let it hang down from his hand as an act of ignominy and a sign of his own bravery.A bridle was also put into the mouth. Shiva thus dishonored Brahma’s head, and kept it with him at all times. When he came to the city of Varanasi in this state, the hanging head of Brahma dropped from Shiva’s hand and disappeared in the ground.The land of Varanasi is therefore considered an extremely holy religious site. The Pandavas,the mythic protagonists of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, are said to have visited the city in search of Shiva to atone for their sin of fratricide and Brāhmanahatya that they had committed during the climactic Kurukshetra War.It is regarded as one of seven holy cities (Sapta Puri) which can provide Moksha; Ayodhya, Mathura, Bodh Gaya, Kashi, Kanchi, Avanti,and Dvārakā are the seven cities known as the givers of liberation.Archaeological evidence of the earliest known settlements in the vicinity of Varanasi suggest that such urban settlement of the area began ca. 2000 BCE, placing Varanasi among the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities according to Kenneth Fletcher.

There is a lot of history to Varanasi,but that is a blog for some other time. Right now Varanasi is represented in the Parliament by the Prime Minister of India,Mr.Narendra Modi. The present population of Varanasi is 1.2 million. Varanasi is well connected by train and roads to the state capital Lucknow,country capital Delhi, Capital of Nepal Kathmandu and a few cities in India like Agra,Kolkata,Gaya,Patna and Bareily.

Me being a backpacker,I stayed at a backpackers hostel in Varanasi. It was a good hostel. If you’ll be going to Varanasi,you can check the place out. Link given below. Thank you for reading my blog. If there’s any suggestions,you can let me know.

The link of the hostel,Stops:-

https://www.gostops.com/hostels/varanasi-hostel-booking/

Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. (India 2017)

Once I got back from Nepal,I didn’t feel like going back home. So, I decided to travel in India for sometime. I started my Journey with Rajasthan,the “desert” state of India but that’s a story for another blog. In this blog, I will be writing about my experience in Agra,the city that has the majestic Taj Mahal.

Agra is one of the most populous cities in India. And I guess that’s not surprising as India is a county with a population of 1.311 billion. Agra is situated on the banks of river Yamuna. Agra is one of the most popular tourist destination in India,mostly because of the Taj Mahal and also because it is mentioned in the Golden Triangle tourist circuit. The traces of Agra in history goes back to the times of the epic “Mahabharat”,where it was mentioned for the first time as “Agrevana” meaning the border of the forest. But Agra achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal Empire.It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodī, the Muslim ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, founded Agra in the year 1504. After the Sultan’s death, the city passed on to his son, Sultan Ibrāhīm Lodī. He ruled his Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Mughal padshah (emperor) Bābar in the First battle of Panipat fought in 1526. This was when the golden era of Agra started, under the Mughals. It remained their capital under Akbar,Jahangir and ShahJahan.

The Agra fort or the Red Fort of Agra was the main residency of the Mughal Emperors. The 94 acre fort has a semicircular plan and lies parallel to the river Yamuna and the walls of this majestic fort is around seventy feet high.
There are four gates for the fort, but only two of them are notable: “Delhi Gate” and the “Lahore Gate”.The monumental Delhi Gate, which faces the city on the western side of the fort, is considered the grandest of the four gates and a masterpiece of Akbar’s time. It was built circa 1568 both to enhance security and as the king’s formal gate, and includes features related to both. It is embellished with inlay work in white marble. A wooden drawbridge was used to cross the moat and reach the gate from the mainland; inside, an inner gateway called Hathi Pol (“Elephant Gate”) – guarded by two life-sized stone elephants with their riders – added another layer of security. Because the Indian Military uses 75% of the fort now,so the Delhi gate cannot be used by tourists. So,they have to enter using the Lahore gate. One of the nine ministers of Akbar’s court, Abul Fazal said the 500 buildings in the beautiful design of Bengal and Gujrat were built inside the fort. But,most of them were destroyed by ShahJahan to make way for his marble palaces.The fort was the site of a battle during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company’s rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain and most parts of the fort was destroyed during this period.That was all about the Agra fort, now let’s focus on the Taj Mahal,one big reason why so many tourists visit Agra.

The Taj Mahal,also known as the symbol of “Love”,is one of the wonders of the world. It’s an ivory white marble mausoleum on the banks of the river Yamuna built by Emperor ShahJahan for his favorite wife Mumtaz. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 42acre complex, which includes a mosque,a guest house and gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. It took 22 years and 22,000 men working on building this mammoth mausoleum. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million). The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian and earlier Mughal architecture. The tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. It is a large, white marble structure standing on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial. Like most Mughal tombs, the basic elements are Persian in origin.[13]

The base structure is a large multi-chambered cube with chamfered corners forming an unequal eight-sided structure that is approximately 55 metres (180 ft) on each of the four long sides. Each side of the iwan is framed with a huge pishtaq or vaulted archway with two similarly shaped arched balconies stacked on either side. This motif of stacked pishtaqs is replicated on the chamfered corner areas, making the design completely symmetrical on all sides of the building. Four minarets frame the tomb, one at each corner of the plinth facing the chamfered corners. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level.

The Taj Mahal attracts around 7-8 million people every year. It is closed on fridays,so plan for visit in way that you don’t have to spend an extra day in Agra because there is nothing much to do. I was staying at this backpackers hostel called “Moustache”. I will attach a link of the hostel.

Here is the link. Feel free to check it out.
http://www.moustachehostel.com/

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Traveling:-Probably the best thing you can do in your life. Solo traveling is the best part of traveling. While growing up, we’ve been told that people who travel a lot are jobless and they have no life, you should grow up, find a 9-5 desk job and feed your family. But from my point of view if you decide to quit your job and start traveling,that will be the best decision you will ever make. Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? Start traveling, you’ll always do something for the first time everyday. Traveling is the best thing ever. You can do whatever you want to. It is like a giant blank canvas waiting to be painted by your imagination. This world, my friends is a huge book and those who do not travel can read only a page of it. To discover new oceans and new places one needs to have the courage to lose sight of the shore he left. That’s how Columbus found America and that’s how Vasco da Game became the first European to discover India.

You will never understand the true meaning of your life, until you travel and see how other people are living theirs. Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. The only way to know where you really belong is by going on adventures and find out the truth. So be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience. Don't let anyone tame you. Be untamed. Start traveling. Meet new people everyday. Learn something new. Do something for the first time.

A country full of surprises


My first day in Nepal was a bit tiring because of the journey to reach the capital,Kathmandu. I’m an Indian so we don’t need a passport or visa to enter this beautiful country. So being a travel enthusiast i decided not to take the easy route to Nepal by flying. I took the longest route possible. From Delhi to Kathmandu by Railway/Road. From Delhi I took a 17 hour train journey to a small town in Uttar Pradesh called Gorakhpur. From there the border of Sanauli is around 102kms. I reach Gorakhpur on the morning of 28th February and then took a bus to the border. The border was really beautiful. It made me realise that a red line on the map can never separate two countries. After crossing the border I started searching for a bus to Kathmandu. The distance of Kathmandu from the border is around 183kms and takes you around 8-9 hours. So while I was looking for bush guy comes to me and asks me that where do I want to go? And I say him that I was looking for a bus to Kathmandu and he was a driver for a bus company’s he took me to the ticket counter and I got a ticket for me. It was around 3:30pm and I was ready to go to Kathmandu knowing that it’ll take around 9 hours.The bus starts around 3:45pm and everything was fine until the bus stopped at a place where it wasn’t supposed to stop. The bus stopped just to load bricks from a really small village. That was the moment when I realized that it was a local bus and it’s going to take more than 9 hours. At that moment I felt so frustrated but then I slowly prepared myself for the “long” journey infront of me. The bus probably stopped for 100 times before reaching Kathmandu and the strangest thing was I dozed off after 1am in the night and woke up to see that the bus was still at the same place because the driver was too tired and he was sleeping. It was 3am when he woke up and started driving again. I reached Kathmandu around 6:30 and I saw a really beautiful sunrise. That was the moment when I realized that I was in for a really good time in this beautiful country of the mighty “Himalayas”

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