"He who does not travel does not know the value of men"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Idinjar Falls (Mankayam- Kalakkayam)

Idinjar Falls also known as Mankayam and Kalakkayam is a popular one day hide out destination for those who love nature. Its almost 55KM from Trivandrum enroute Palode Botanical Garden. Being a waterfall which is near by the motorable road, lot of local tourists visiT this place during holidays. Most of the time it’s crowded and the main falls area cannot accommodate large gatherings. Mankayam eco tourism development authority charges nominal fees from the tourists to visit the falls area.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Khajuraho Monuments- The Architectural Marvel of India

Khajuraho group of monuments is considered to be one of the “seven wonders” of India and it has been listed as UNESCO world Heritage Site. Khajuraho is in Chattarpur District of Madhya Pradesh, the heart of incredible India, and is almost 625KM from Delhi. Khajuraho is famous for its erotic sculptures comprising of medieval Hindu and Jain temples.

 When I got one day break in between my official duty at Delhi, I decided to explore Khajuraho which was familiar through books only. Khajuraho has got its own rail head now. A single train( 12448 UP samparkranti Express ) runs in between Khajuraho and Delhi daily. It departs from Delhi at 8.15PM to reach Khajuraho at 6.35AM and returns at 6.30PM to reach Delhi at 5.30AM. I booked tickets online and got the company of Mr Lal who is from Mizoram.

We had a miserable start as we missed the train to Khajuraho at 8.15PM as both of us misjudged the time as 9.15 instead of 8.15 written in hours. Interesting factor is that when the train left the station we were in the platform complacent enough because of our belief that we had enough time left. It was late when we came to know that the train had already left. Mr Lal was bold enough to take a sudden decision not to cancel our programme. We decided to catch the next train to Jhansi and from there lot of link options to Khajuraho is available. We got only general ticket and somehow entered in a train moving towards Hyderabad. The OBHS staff in the train felt pity on us and gave us some space to sit. The train journey in a general class during night time, that too in north India, is a learning experience. We could spot lot of characters showing their class of act which was quite interesting to watch. Mr Lal was sleeping sitting down with his earphones on. I couldn’t sleep till the train reached Jhansi at 5.30AM in the morning. But I should thank the OBHS staffs who were kind enough to give us his space at least to sit.

We met Arif, a taxi driver in Jhansi and negotiated the taxi hire charges to Khajuraho from Jhansi for Rs1800. In spite of the poor road condition the 180 KM drive was completed in three and half hours. We also visited the Jhansi Fort before starting our journey. We reached Khajuraho at 9.30AM. Checked into a hotel room to freshen up and had our breakfast before proceeding.

Khajuraho aims mainly in attracting foreign tourists as local tourists from India are rare when compared to foreigners. Even small kids who work as guides in Khajuraho could speak all major foreign languages. In Khajuraho, things are very posh. One could rarely find average hotels and restaurants where Indian foods are available.

Before going to the temples we decided to go through other attractions around Khajuraho. Raneh falls being the main one which is 20 KM away, our first choice was that. Entry charges are Rs 20 per person and Rs 200 for vehicles. A lot of foreigners visit there in hired bicycles. Raneh falls, in river Kane, is just amazing to watch with water level high because of rain. The flowing area is almost like Hoggenakkal of Tamil Nadu but it’s too dangerous for its deepness and crocodiles also pose threat. We spent almost one hour enjoying the drizzle and heavy wind in that background. We were joined by a guide from whom I collected a lot of information. After having tea and snacks we moved towards the western group of Khajuraho temples.

The sculptors carved during 10th century are truly unbelievable. It took almost two hours to see the temples in and around the western group. After lunch we also covered the eastern and southern groups of temples which are more of Jain influence. It is learned that it took even 400 years to complete some of the temples. Jain temple architecture is somewhat different from the medieval Hindu temples. All these temples are maintained and protected by Archeological Survey of India. Although we could cover almost all the temples it should be mentioned that we got only a glimpse of the architectural marvels due to shortage of time.

Arif, the driver, was with us the whole day. After having tea from a “dhaba” we were dropped to the Khajuraho Railway station half an hour prior to the departure time in order to make sure that we don’t miss the train again. The hectic day had made us so tired that we slept even before the departure of the train at 6.30PM.      I opened my eyes hearing the loud voice of a co passenger, thought of having dinner, but to my surprise, It was 5.30 in the morning and we had reached the NewDelhi Nizamudeen Railway station!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Sambhar Lake- India’s largest inland salt lake

The Sambhar salt lake is around 100 KM south west of Jaipur enroute Ajmer through NH8. When we were browsing for places around Jaipur, Sambhar lake,  which can be accessed easily in a two hour drive from Jaipur, was spotted on the map,  and we decided to explore the place. The image that we had about the lake before the visit just fluttered when we reached there. The Sambhar Lake can hardly be called as a lake as it’s a saline wetland only. The lake is surrounded by Aravalli hills on all sides

The drive after the diversion from NH8 to Sambhar was refreshing and the feel of the true village atmosphere of Rajastan was breathtaking. After reaching there by around 4PM we had a long drive through the lake area and went for a walk inside the salt fields inside the lake. We had a long chat with the workers in and around the salt lake sharing their experiences.

When the moonlight came out to glitter the white field we returned back to Jaipur.


Sariska National Park

While coming back from Jaipur to Delhi we just tried our luck to visit the Sariska National Park in the Alwar District of Rajastan. But we couldn’t enter the national park area as it was closed because of the breeding season. Although the road to reach the park is in a poor condition, the drive through that route was infact a learning lesson for all of us.