Exceptionally Beautiful

Best Time to Visit is March to July & October to November

Exceptionally Beautiful is the other word of Kashmir. Land of beautiful natural gardens, mountains covered with pine trees & tallest chinar trees add to the beauty of Kashmir. Major portions of the area are untouched or unexplored by tourists due to insurgency going in Kashmir since several decades. Now it looks like normalcy is returning to the valley though it would take time to get completely normal. Long standing army at several locations around the valley have made situation favourable to tourists, though a feeling of unsecurity cann't be ruled out. Rivers of Kashmir add to the beauty of the Valley. Several activities like Sking, Paragliding, River Rafting etc are carried out in the valley. Srinagar & Pahalgam are considered normally for staying destinations in all itinerary. Srinagar is the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir and has direct connectivity to several parts of the country by air. Security at Srinagar airport is of top level. There are several security points before the airport premises &  in the airport. All the baggages are considered to be check-in Baggage & not allowed to be carried in flight, though under exceptional conditions are allowed. Kashmir is famous for Apple & Saffron. Several orchads of apple are found near srinagar & several fields of saffron cultivation are found near Pahalgam. You would found top quality apples which generally are only for exports in the orchads and generally not found in our markets.Almost all saffron shops sell Kahwah which is green tea of kashmir, it is a blend mixture of green tea, saffron, cinnamon, cardamon, honey, almonds & walnut. Hot kahwah makes us refreshing. One thing also is found on the way to Pahalgam is Cricket Bats. Shops of Cricket bats are found on the way to Pahalgam from Srinagar. Anantnag & Budgam are also some major cities of Kashmir which we found enroute. Major Attractions in Kashmir are Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Doodhpathri, Kokernag, Pahalgam, Betab Valley, Aru Valley, Chandanwari, Awantipora etc. which we covered.

About the Journey :

It was a family trip, we were almost 4 Couples & 1 Elder with 2 Children moving together for this trip. We planned our hotel & tempo traveller, way before moving to kashmir. We even bargained for hotel rooms & tempo traveller with the owner of the hotel from Ahmedabad itself. We worked on common itenerary for kashmir of several tour operators, though the tour was only for major attractions. We made our tour in last week of August 2014. Though it was begining of Rainy Season but we were lucky to escape rain. As we landed to Srinagar at afternoon, we first went to our hotel & relaxed & moved to Dal Lake for boating. It was a wonderful view & fantastic atmosphere. Dal Lake is surrounded by mountains all over & is one of the biggest lakes of Kashmir. Srinagar gets both Dal Lake & Jhelum river for it's water sources. There were lot of Houseboats which were standstill & Shikara's moving  in the Dal Lake. Firstly we hired Shikara with some bargaining & were taken into lake. Though we didn't stay in Houseboat but did get glimpse of many luxury houseboats all over Dal Lake. Shikara took us near Chinar Trees in the middle of the lake which were too tall & were more than 400 Years Old.

Our Shikara moved to Shops in Houseboats selling shawls & dresses of Kashmir. Even we found some traders of stone made jewellers & selling several items on the shikara. They adjoin there shikara's to our shikara & sell there products. As the first day of our tour was funfilled, we were looking forward for our second exciting day trip to Gulmarg next day.

Early in the morning we travelled to Gulmarg. Gulmarg is actually a ski resort also. There are two levels of Gandola Ride which is one of the highest Gandola Ride of World. First Level of Gandola Ride takes us to magnificient view of Kashmir Valley & Second Level takes us above clouds & near snow. It is also regarded that a point over second level is near Line of Control between India occupied Kashmir & POK. There could be breath related problems over second level. All the Gandola Rides are chargeable. After reaching to second level of Gandola, we climbed some 100 meters & found plenty of snow. There were local people providing hand driven sledge facilities on the snow. They charge exorbitant. Moreover if you doesn't make clear the charges, then you might end up in arguments which is not advisable at the place. Make sure that the charges are made clear to all the sledge operators before riding as they have different opinions & rates which could take you in problem. Note :  Make sure to clear sledge rates with those carrying you, not with other persons. Also make sure to return by time to Gandola closing time because you might end up hanging on the top. Start early to get down because it also takes time to reach upto gandola if you have climbed up. We enclose the same problem, but some members with us which didn't climbed up, didn't allow the gandola service to be stopped. Also we had arguments with the sledge operators. It was our mistake. Though it was funfilled place at the top in the snow but ended up with noise.

Too tired for our next day trip to Sonmarg instead we opted for Doodhpathri. The words cannot explain this place. It is a place for Kashmiris to enjoy their vacation. The view of mountains covered with pine trees resembles Switzerland as described by the public, who went there. It was a wise decision for opting Doodhpathri in our itenerary. This place was suggested by our tempo traveller driver, though looking to the conditions prevailing in kashmir some years before, we were somewhat scared to move to any place which is other than tourist destination as the driver was taking us from narrow streets escaping major highways to get short-cut. We liked the place so much. It was much of enjoying beauty of nature & plain surface with mild grass surrounding mountains with long pine trees. There were local people coming in herds to enjoy with their families. Now it was time to return back to Srinagar.

Next day we visited Chashme Shahi Garden, one of the beautiful gardens of Srinagar. Garden has a water source coming from unknown place and it is believed that the water if consumed is good for digestive system. Adjoining to it, there was Botanical Garden where in winter tulip flowers blossom. We visited the garden but didn't have chance to see Tulip Flowers. We visited another garden Shalimar Garden, it is avoided by tour operators as it is far from other gardens but it is a must visit garden. There are Chinar Trees all over above 400 years old and tall enough to cover 10 floors of the building. Another Garden we visited is Nishat Garden also called as Mughal Garden which is right on the front of Dal Lake, it is also most visited gardens of Srinagar. All the gardens were excellent and should be must on your itinerary.

Finally we visited Shankaracharya Temple, a temple on Shankaracharya Hill. Our Tempo Traveller went too far up above the hill and then there are stairs to climb to reach the temple. Stairs are uncomfortable for senior citizens and the one who have problem climbing. There are about 300 Stairs to Climb. It is also a high security area. View of Srinagar & Dal Lake with full of houseboats is magnificient from above. Our day ends with full of enjoyment.

Next Day early in the morning, we started our journey to Pahalgam. Enroute to Pahalgam we visited a shop of Kesar (Saffron). We purchased Walnuts, Almond, mixture of Kahwah etc from the shop. The price here was comparitively low. They also offered Kahwah drink as their welcome drink. We liked it so much.

Another enroute destination was Awantipora (also known as Avantiswamin Temple) near Anantnag. Awantipora Temple is a heritage property excavated from the place. There was town named Anantnag on the route, which was considered to be major commercial hub for the area. Everything is available in this town, therefore it is suggested to purchase from here like medicines or anything which would not be available in remote towns. Route to Pahalgam is very very beautiful & this pictureque route is most enchanting. There were spots on the route for doing River Rafting and Paragliding. Finally reached to Pahalgam and took rest at the hotel. Pahalgam is most beautiful place on our itinerary and a must visit place. Surrounded with beautiful mountains covered with pine trees & flowers all over. River flowing all along the route. Next day our sightseeing tour to Pahalgam and nearby places started. Foremost, we visited Betab Valley. Betab Valley name is derived from bollywood film Betab, which was shot over this location. It has been developed as a tourist place and is beautiful to be visited. It is a place where you could relax on the river bank and even bath in the river. Be prepare to take extra cloths over there. Though there is no change room. Location in the midst of the valley makes this place good for enjoyment & photogenic. Though our next location which is Chandanwadi is most photogenic place of the tour. It is entry point (base location) to Amarnath Yatra. Moreover clicks on the bank of the river are unbelievable & memorable. We also found some snow over this place. Stalls of Tea, Coffee & Breakfast are available at this place. Route to this places were not good.

Another place to be visited was Aru Valley. It is also place for wonderful clicks.This day was full of enjoyment & locations were extremely beautiful. Finally went to hotel, roamed out in the evening & finally took rest. Our driver suggested to take us on next day to Kokernag and then to Srinagar. Kokernag is beautiful place, where water is coming from beneath mountain. It is exceptionally nice place to be visited. It is also place, generally visited by the locals. Water coming from beneath mountain creates river. It is also a garden. It is developed as a tourist spot. Our tour finally gets over to Srinagar for the next day flight to Delhi. In the evening we visited spots of Srinagar where shopping could be done. Finally the tour concluded.

Puri and Kolkata

Our Heritage & Culture

Best Time to Visit October to Febuary
Kolkata formerly known as Calcutta in West Bengal is one of Oldest Metro of India which was once capital of British Ruled India.Earlier majority of Business Tycoons have their registered office in Kolkata. It is situated on the bank of Hooghly (Ganga) River. One side of Hooghly river is known as Howrah, which is also old part of City & other part is Kolkata which is new one. Kolkata is major commercial hub for entire East India. Kolkata played an important role in independence of india with major movements of independence starting from here. It has very rich and artistic culture. It is one of the leading & first amongst all cities with mode of transportation like Tram Transit System & Metro Rail System in India. Rich Heritage values make Kolkata, a must visit place in india. Major Attractions in Kolkata is Tram Transit System, Victoria Memorial Hall (Monday Closed), Birla Temple, Belur Math, Dhakshineswar Kali Temple, Howrah Bridge also known as Rabindra Setu (Oldest Bridge made uniquely), Vidhyasagar Setu (second oldest bridge on Hooghly) & Shopping in the heart of Kolkata at Bada Bazar & in developed area of Park Street.

Puri in Orissa is around 532 Kms. from Kolkata & a one night journey from Kolkata. Nearest Airport is Bhubaneshwar, capital of Orissa, it is one hour drive from Puri. Its significance is due to temples all over Puri & Konark & nice beaches around it like Chandrabhaga Beach & Puri Beach. Finest Amongst is Jagannath Puri Temple. It is one of the Char Dham, which is to be covered by every Hindu in his lifetime. Jagannath Puri Temple is one of the best temples of India with shrines of Krishna, Balarama & Shubhadra. (Brothers & Sister). Jagannath Puri's Rathyatra (trip of lord shrines outside temple around the city) is famous all over the world which takes place around July or August. Nearby Attractions are Konark Sun Temple which is also one of the finest & fewest temples of Lord Sun in india with historical importance, Changrabhaga Beach, Raghurajpur Village (an Art Village), Sakshigopal Temple, Chilka Lake, Hirakund Dam & ofcourse capital of Orissa, Bhubaneshwar.

  • About the Journey

This trip was planned for a marriage to be attended in Kolkata, later i added Puri along with it, moreover explored Kolkata as well. Firstly i reached Puri directly from Ahmedabad. Hotel Booking at Puri was made from Online Portal Agoda. After reaching puri in the evening, i made arrangements for the next day for taxi to Jagannath Puri Temple, Konark Sun Temple along with Chandrabhaga Beach, Sakshi Gopal Temple & Raghurajpur Village (An village full of Art). Early next morning we first went to Puri Beach which was next to our hotel, where we pour water of ocean on us. We found Puri Beach risky hence we started our journey to Jagannath Puri Temple. On the way to temple, our taxi driver insisted to hire a panditji (priest) way before reaching Jagannath Temple, because without panditji (priest), travellers are harrassed in the temple. As suggested we hired a panditji (priest) as suggested by our taxi driver & later found it to be wise decision. Apart from Special Darshan Entry Fee about Rs. 50 per person we paid Daxina (Donation) to the Priest on exit. We were lucky to get place of worship next to lord with the help of Panditji (Priest). He also guided us in rest of the Temple premises & different temples inside the premises. He also brought full Kulhad (traditional handleless terracotta cup) of Prasad for us. We eat it in the premises of temple & started for next destination to Konark Sun Temple. Konark Sun Temple is 43 Kms. from Puri, around 45 Minutes of Drive. It is nice monument with heritage structure. After seeing Konark Sun Temple, we went to Chandrabhaga Beach which was nearest. We were once again lucky to find that International Sand Festival & Konark Festival was going on at Chandrabhaga Beach, which was exceptionally an excellent exhibit. Sand Sculptures made from participants around the world from sand of ocean. It seems to be once in a lifetime opportunity for us leaving in Ahmedabad. Chandrabhaga Beach was so clean & looked as one of the best beaches on the east coast of india. Then we went to Sakshi Gopal Temple bypassing Puri which took around 1 Hour & 30 Minutes from Chandrabhaga Beach. Temple was nice & we didn't wait for longer time, just bow down under the lord & left the premises of the temple. Pandits all over there are hunting for some or other persons to get under their nail for handsome income. Our next destination was Raghurajpur Village, which is an Art Village. Each & Every house in the villages holds artists & arts to be sold & for display. We liked a lot of things over there. All the houses are painted with paintings. They carve a thick leaf of some tree & add some colours to it. It is all about display of Art in your premises. You won't find any carpets or bed sheets printed or weaved in this village. Overall a good place to visit for Art Lovers. Finally the day was over for Puri & Train to Kolkata began.

On the last day after Marriage, arrangement for Taxi was made to roam in Kolkata. Our Journey started with viewing Tram Transit System. Although we were not able to take ride in Tram, though it look fantastic. As Birla Temple was near to our Hotel, we first visited Birla Temple. Birla Temple is a nice monument. On the way we visited Park Street, where you would found one of the finest showrooms of Kolkata but rather it is costly street & Ahmedabad too have most probably all the brands found over there.Our next visit was Victoria Memorial Hall (Monday Closed), an exceptionally beautiful monument & could be regarded as landmark of Kolkata. Then we visited Shani Temple situated in Bada Bazar on the bank of river Ganga (Hooghly) & did shopping for garments. We found it reasonable to buy in Bada Bazar. One of the underground market in Bada Bazar was exceptionally good & reasonable. There was a terrible parking space problem hence car was parked far away. After passing through Howrah Bridge, an example of extraordinary iron bridge we reached to Belur Math, it is another extraordinary beautiful monument on the bank of River. Though we didn't found any lord's shrine in the premises. This monument was good enough to be visited once. Finally after passing through Vidhyasagar Setu (similar kind of bridge of iron) we went to Dhakshineswar Kali Temple, it is also beautiful Temple & a must visit for all. Red & Cream coloured temple surrounded with carving all over was fantastic. I personally liked the temple very much. It is also situated on the bank of river with so many temples in front of the main temple with Kali Mata Shrine. It is a well managed temple. This temple was closer to Airport, hence we went directly to airport for the return flight to Ahmedabad in the evening.