Oldest & biggest Rath Yatra (Chariot procession) of the world • Started in 10th century AD • Attended by over 450,000 people • Lots of security • One of the biggest gathering & celebrations of India • Hotel prices surge during this period so make a prior booking • Past years have seen stampedes so being careful is highly recommended
Rath Yatra starts on 6 july and ends on 19 July • Important celebration / procession dates are 6, 9, 14, 16, 18 July.
The world famous pashmina shawls of Kashmir • markets of Leh & Srinagar are full of these • these are generally very expensive but now, because of budget travellers, mixed pashmina is widely available at much pocket friendly rates • but it is difficult to tell what is good or bad, so it is best to take a locals help before buying these
The quintessential South Indian dress for men • this dress is comfortable as it can get & Indian cotton does not need any introduction • a simple cotton lungi can be easily purchased from roadside for Rs100 • for a budget traveller like me this also works as bedsheet, towel & whatnot
Tirunelveli Halwa, also known as Iruttu Kadai Halwa is extremely famous throughout South India • In fact, some locals claim it is world famous, but I have doubts about that • Two shops are considered as authentic halwa makers – Santhi Sweets & Iruttu Kadai halwa shop in front of Nellaiappar Temple • there are multiple Santhi Sweets shops in that same area (near bus stand market) but the original one is adjacent to St. Mary Medicals • It has good shelf life, easily 6-7 days, so you can bring this halwa home
One of the oldest villages in the Valley • Has a 1000 year old Gompa ( monastery) perched on a dangerous 1000ft high cliff of sand • gorgeous views of confluence of Spiti & Pin river • rooms available in the new monastery • economical & great food • a little hike to lake on top of this mountain • lake not so great • 30km away from Kaza • 3600mt altitude
Perhaps the clearest river waters in India • this is the last accessible village by road on this river • 14km from Dawki • 3 home stays (400 – 1000 per night depending on season & number of people) • great camping location • weekends are hugely crowded with people from Shillong • people come here to catch fish, cook great meal, swim, relax • one of my favourite place in Meghalaya
Most popular getaway from Bangalore • Best known for spectacular sunrise, so people leave early in the morning • Historical importance – big temple dating back to 11 century on hill top • a huge Nandi (Shiva bull) of dimensions 6ft x 11ft carved out of single stone on one isolated corner of the hill • tipu sultan used this as his summer getaway and had a tiny place (lodge) for himself • the british also loved this place & made their summer office here, now known as Nehru Niwas • the first SAARC summit was held here in 1984 • lots of eating options also available at the top
Festival of lamps celebrated every 6 years • Last time celebrated was Jan 14, 2014 • Special pooja for 56 days continuous in the temple • last day huge gathering & celebrations
One of the most beautiful temples of Kerala • Built in 8th century AD • Great blend of Kerala & Tamil architecture • also famous for being the richest temple in the world – owns treasure worth $22bn • Less crowded early morning • Foreigners & non hindus not allowed • festival of Laksha Deepam (lakh lamps) celebrated every 6 years (next in 2020) when the temple is decorated with diyas
a 400 years old temple • Special thing – Vishnu, Mahesh & Brahma, the trinity of Indian theism, are worshipped as a single form with 3 heads here • 12km from Kanyakumari, buses available every 30 minutes • Photography not allowed inside • Dhoti available for free to cover legs • Huge temple complex • Takes at least 2 – 3 hours to see the temple nicely
UNESCO word heritage site • extremely big & beautiful • the existing part of the temple is said to be just a small part of the original temple • has lots of legends attached to it • rooms available close to the temple in konark but not very economical • Buses easily available from Bhubaneswar (60km) & Puri (30km) • timings 6am to 8pm • Rabindranath tagore said about this temple – here the language of stones surpasses the language of humans • famous sun temple festival take place in Dec every year.
The heart of Vadodara • Old Bazaar, crowded except in early mornings • Come during the sunrise to see Vadodara wake up
One of the many beautiful temples of Bhubaneswar • Built in 11th century AD • Has amazing lights in the evening • sprawling gardens around the temple • Timings 8am to 6pm • Entry Rs5 • Photography allowed
the only temple dedicated to bullet • a highly revered place of worship for people of Rajasthan • Story – Om banna, a highly respected local, while riding his bullet, met an accident & died. bike was taken to police station but next morning it was found at the accident. this happened 3 times, when locales decided to establish the temple there • a lot of people keep Om Bana’s photo on their trucks, bikes, cars as a good omen for their safety on the road • on the road from Pali to Jodhpur
Oldest boat race in India • Started in 1545 AD to celebrate help provided by Christians in building the temple of Ambalapuzha • Not as big Nehru Trophy boat race • Buses to Champakulam from Alleppey bus stand every 1 hour, takes 45 minutes to reach • Champakulam is a small village also famous for its Church: one of the oldest Church in India • People in high spirits every where • private boats with DJs • People from nearby villages come and gather along the backwaters
Date : 20 June 2016 • Timings : 3pm to 5pm
Recipe of Sri Lankan origin, extremely popular in Tamil Nadu • Usually eaten as a meal • Mainly made of egg & chicken, but veg variants like dal, paneer also available at some places • Price varies from 50 – 100 per plate on streets • Extremely filling & delicious
One of the prettiest lake in Indian Himalayas • Bumpy road from Battal – 14km. One has to walk last 1km • Walking trail also present from Kunzum pass • Commercial camps available 2km away from the lake. but private camps can be setup around the lake • origin of Chandra • crystal clear waters • swimming allowed but be careful, extremely cold and deep • food available at camps, 2km away but please do not litter here
last point of Indian mainland • it is said Vivekananda swam to the rock & sat there for 3 days before going for the world religion conference where he delivered his famous speech • a temple / monument dedicated to Vivekananda with lots of book shops with books by & about him • on another rock is the 133ft statue of saint Thiruvalluvar, the greatest Tamil poet, philosopher • great view of Kanyakumari town from these monuments
transport by govt. operated ferries only • long queues • ferry ticket Rs35 • timings 8am to 4pm • a popular way to enjoy this is by coming to beach early morning to see sunrise, have breakfast (all shops / restaurants open at around 5.30) and then take the ferry.
one of the most popular & beautiful temple of India • built around 1400 AD • city of Madurai planned around this temple • famous gopurams (gates) on all 4 sides towering more than 150ft • lotus pond – hosted 3rd tamil sangam (the great tamil literature gathering) in 3AD where scholars came to present their work. the best works were then thrown in the pond & it is said that works with divine power floated in its water. thirukkural, the greatest Tamil literature (also known as Tamil Veda) by saint Thiruvalluvar was one such work • temple timings – 4 am to 12.00 noon & 4:30 pm to 10pm • there is a museum inside (entry Rs5, mobile camera Rs50) which has one the best preserved Nataraja statue in the world • museum timings – 7am to 12 noon & 4.30 pm to 8pm
1 km walk from Periyar bus stand & madurai main railway station • lots of famous eateries around like Modern restaurant • photography allowed except inside main shrines • full leg cover needed, dhotis easily available outside the gates