Monthly Archives: May 2014

Mani Mahesh Yatra



Mani Mahesh Yatra

 

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Though in most of the countries in India, many beautiful mountains where one can find, the home place of Lord Shiva but according to Hindu mythology, it is believed that undisputed Kailash Mountain is the main residence of Lord Shiva in our country. The Kailash Mansarovar is known as centre of universe in Indian History and it is physically naturally and economical out of reach for various tourist in India. Before Kailash Mansarovar one can find Kailash or small Kailash in Pithoragarh district India. Similarly there is another Kailash in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. These 2 Kailash are also considered as residence of Lord Shiva and are equally legendary or prestigious like those of big Kailash.

MANI MAHESH KAILASH

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The Kailash Mountain which is surrounded by various tourist is famous by the name – Mani Mahesh Kailash. The name Mani Mahesh signifies a jewel (Mani) on Lord Shiva’s crown. The Divine place is situated in the Bharmaur Tribal valley an important pilgrimage centre of North India, in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. It is situated high on the height of 18564 feet from sea level. Here 1000’s of tourists come to visit the sanctified shrine of Lord Shiva. There is sacred Mani Mahesh Lake which is situated at the height of 13500 feet high from sea level. Mani Mahesh Lake is situated at the base of Mount Kailash. It is believed that this mountain retains heavenly powers and would remain unconquered. The Mani Mahesh Kailash peak besides the lake is believed to be the home of lord Shiva. A rock formation in the form of a Shivling on this mountain is reflected as the manifestation of lord Shiva. Mani Mahesh is figured as the heaven of lord Shiva. It is believed that Lord Shiva Created Mani Mahesh after he married to Goddess Parvati, who is worshiped as Mata Girja. It is also said that Mani Mahesh Kailash is unconquerable as no one so far scaled it.

MANI MAHESH TEMPLE

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Mani Mahesh temple is the main temple which stands in Chaurasi temple complex. It is the temple of Lord Shiva. The statue of worship is a Shivling positioned inside the temple enclosed by a number of other god and goddess. This enormous temple with high beehive shikhara posture no sculptures on the outer surface is of middle Pratihara type. Nandi bull is, in front of the pedestal of Shiva in the temple.

MANI MAHESH YATRA

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Mani Mahesh Yatra is trip to Mani Mahesh Lake. Every year Mani Mahesh yatra is held from Janamastmi to Radhashtami however people start visiting Mani Mahesh from May onwards. There is a belief that Mani Mahesh Yatra (Pilgrims procession) is considered alike to the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and Amaranth Yatra. The Mani Mahesh Yatra starts from Lakshmi Narayan Temple in Chamba. Chamba (Himachal Pradesh) is a base point from where one accesses Mani Mahesh Lake which is second only to Lake Mansarovar in its significance. A dint in this lake is considered blessed because it is supposed that Parvati used to bath in this lake. Visitors can reach Bharmaur, 65 kilometres from Chamba through bus or taxi. Then from Bharmaur, the distance of 13 kilometres to reach Hadsar, can be covered by Transport bus or by taxi. The rest of the route is to be covered on foot, about 13 km of steep climb by the banks of Mani Mahesh Ganga, which instigates from the Mani Mahesh Kailash peak. The pilgrims walk along the rocky path completely bare footed, singing Bhajans and praying blissfully to Lord Shiva. The next terminus is Dhanchoo 11 K.M. from Hadsar, where tourists spend night. It can be spotted with an eye-catching water fall. Between Dhanchoo and Mani Mahesh Lake, there are minor places of pilgrimage known as Bandar Ghati, Gouri Kund, Shiv Kalotri, and Ganesh Ghati. Shiva Kalotri spring is said to have its source in Lord Shiva’s feet. Gouri Kund and Shiv Kalotri are two different dwellings, where according to legend, the Lord Shiv and his partner Parvati, bathed, respectively, on the Radhashtami day. Hiking to the way of the Mani Mahesh Lake is a delightful experience. One will fail to recall the pains of the tedious journey viewing the pleasing natural background and get drenched in the fascinating atmosphere. This brilliant route not only motivates the pilgrims but also, the adventure lovers and tourists. However, one should be physically fit to tolerate this journey in an altitude of 4080 meters. Local people privilege that the moon-rays replicated from the jewel can be seen from Mani Mahesh Lake on clear full-moon. It is more likely to be the light reflected from the glacier that embellishes the peak, like a serpent on Lord Shiva’s neck. It is prohibited to measure the tip of the peak due to mythological beliefs. It is believed that Lord Shiva’s habitat is forbidden for humans. One can easily identify the stoned figure of one shepherd, snake and crow who dared to measure the Peak. The holy peak is said to be unconquered. After spending night near the sacred Mani Mahesh Lake, pilgrims take the Holy dip, offer prayers to Mount Kailash and make flowery offerings at the image of Lord Shiva, everyday on one side of the lake. The ancient temple beside the Manimahesh Lake is the center of pilgrimage and is visited by thousands of devotees every year. The Manimahesh Festival during the Janmashthami attracts the maximum crowd.

 

Nottingham Castle,England



Nottingham Castle,England

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Location and Approach:

This Nottingham castle is situated in Nottingham,England.It is situated on a high rock,Nottingham Castle provides spectacular views of the the city.The Nottingham Castle Museum is situated 200 meters up a steep hill from the main gatehouse entrance.From that way there is a access for pedestrians through the gatehouse archway which has some sort of a typical entrance gate.Walking upwards the hill is a difficult walk for people who are old enough and for anyone who are having any health problems,but for them mobility car are available.This is situated at the gatehouse and is for use both to the castle and down to Brew house Yard.We can have a vehicle access through the main gate.At the gatehouse to gain the entry drivers must sound a horn and may be required to sign a visitors register too.Car and minibus parking can be arranged for visitors who have mobility difficulties at the top of the hill.

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Nottingham shire

History:

The Castle itself has a very long history.It is difficult to say when the town first began to emerge,but we can say that Neolithic,Bronze Age and Iron Age artifacts have been found in the river Trent and Britain people only known Ice Age rock art was discovered at Creswell Crags near Workshop.The original castle was a wooden structure built on the orders of William the Conqueror in 1067,a year after the Battle of Hastings he made to built the Castle Rock by providing an ideal place from for the settlement of the fort and to offer spectacular views across the city and far beyond.Hundred years later in 1170,Henry II rebuilt the castle in stone and it became the main royal fortress.But only a couple of decades later in 1194 when the castle became the site of a famous historical battle,King Richard I returned from his third crusade and reclaimed the castle from his brother Prince John.It was also from Nottingham Castle that Richard III rode to the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 where he lost his life at the hands of Henry VII.After the civil war it was dismantled and an English mansion was built in its place.Later this mansion was burned down during riots in 1831 but was finally restored and opened to the public in 1878 as the museum which stands there today.It became Britain’s first provincial museum and art gallery.

Nottingham_Castle_1853

Nottingham_Castle_1853

Museum and Art gallery:

Nottingham Castle Museum and art gallery is the base for the important collections of fine and decorative arts in the city.The collection belongs to 17th Century Duke’s palace which built on the behalf of the original medieval castle.In 1878 the castle became the first municipal art museum in the country.As per today the decorative arts like ceramics, glass, silver and jewelry.The Museum contains historical displays which discover over 15 centuries of Nottingham history brought to life in the museum through interactive display and stories.By looking at these historical displays we can get to know about the legends and people of the city of that time.

Nottingham Museum and art gallery

Nottingham Museum and art gallery

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Nottingham-castle-long-gallery

Nottingham castle Caves:

We can also take a tour to Nottingham Castle caves,of all the caves some of the caves are having a history long ago back to medieval times,the tour to these caves have a deep walk through with over 300 steep steps.However, for those who wish to descend through hundreds of years the tour through these caves is a must.Of all these caves the most famous is the tunnel known as Mortimer’s Hole.It is carved into the sandstone outlook on which the Castle stands.The passage way is very fearful and thrill enough but is made all the more so by the reputed presence of the ghost of Sir Roger Mortimer himself.The presence of him may be due to the murder of her lover Mortimer in Nottingham Castle.

Nottingham-castle-caves

Nottingham-castle-caves

Nottingham-caves

Nottingham-caves

Highlights:

This looks like it is a large mansion which is a part of museum that has a little connection with medieval Nottingham or Robin Hood.The caves look spectacular and the architecture of this Castle,Robin hood statue and Brew house Yard Museum at the foot of Castle Rock is another great attraction,many people like to stay seeing all those fine arts knowing about its history enjoying the garden of this wonderful castle.after coming out of the castle we can take a circular walk around the castle and you see the wonderful view of Nottingham city.There are lot to see in this Nottingham Castle but the best time to go is when there are any special events.The galleries, cafe and grounds at Nottingham Castle can be hired for private and corporate functions ranging from small meetings to grand dinners or receptions.

Inside-Nottingham-Castle

Inside-Nottingham-Castle

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Robin Hood

Shop and Eat:

The Cafe at the Castle provides a best way to relax and eat during the visit to this castle and we can also enjoy the panoramic view of the city.It provides home made soups, sandwiches and a range of hot and cold seasonal specials,we can have vegetarian specials too.The shops at the museum has an array of contemporary crafts,fine art books,postcards,posters,cards,small gifts and souvenirs to remember the visit to Castle.

Nottingham-castle cafe

Nottingham-castle cafe

 

Maharashtra tourism- Discover a whole new world



Maharashtra tourism- Discover a whole new world

maharashtra tourism

Maharashtra is located in the western region of India. It is popularly known for its diverse culture and language. Basically Maharashtra is famous for all of its multi dimensional availability and tradition related to standard of living, cuisines, tourist places, locations etc. There is a great existence of dynamic nature and culture altogether. Great history of emperors and their palaces have played an important role in the historic factors of Maharashtra. The Marathas and their lifestyle influence the culture in here. Artistic forts and world recognized caves have been a major part of the history again. The amazing features of Maharashtra as a place to be remembered for lifelong is the massive coastline where it is located, numerous number of hill stations and its scenic to be admired by the tourists who visit them quite often, dynamic wildlife, historical significance and uniqueness in art, folk and culture in all creates a beautiful destination of Maharashtra.

Maha-tourism

Maharashtra is proven to be the ideal place from the point of view of tourism for the visitors as it has so many of places incorporated. Popular places in Maharashtra are Mumbai, Aurangabad, Pune, Kolhapur, Nashik, Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, Lavasa City, Lonavala, Ratnagiri, etc. There are pilgrimage centers with evolution of Indian temple Architecture related to it.

mumbai

Mumbai being the capital city of Maharashtra it is known to give shape because of its plentiful resources thus it is termed as the dream city of India. Mumbai is also the financial capital of India. Places to be visited in Mumbai are The Gateway of India, Hanging Gardens, Mahalaxmi Temple, Haji Ali Shrine, marine drive and the famous beaches of Juhu and Chowpathy, a drive at the Bandra-Worli sea link at night. Mumbai is also the headquarters for Bollywood that is the Indian Hindi film industry.

Pagoda

Esselworld and Water Kingdom are amusement park and water theme park respectively famous for family outings. The entry tickets may vary from children to adult and there are special discounts for the senior citizens. The tickets prices are different on weekdays and weekends.

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Elephanta caves are situated only 10 km off the Mumbai coast which is a host of caves located in the Arabian Sea. These caves depict the glory of Lord Shiva. Regular motorboats and boat jetty are available from Gateway of India that would directly take you to the caves.

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Aurangabad is a city which is particularly famous for the heritage Ajanta Ellora caves. The world famous Ajanta and Ellora caves are the pride of Maharashtra. The rock cut caves of both the sites are world famous as it has an artistic touch to it and illustrate the degree of skill and artistry that the ancient Indian craftsmen had achieved several hundred years ago. Ajanta caves came into existence from 100 B.C. whereas Ellora is younger by some 600 years. The village of Ajanta is situated in Aurangabad and all the artistic work inside are carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and the faith and inspiration of Buddhism.

 beach

Ganapatipule is a small tiny village in Maharashtra situated at a stretch distance from Ratnagiri. Ganapatipule has a long stretch of beautiful beaches and the beaches are named Ganapatipule itself as it is the most beautiful and stunning of all the beaches. Sun kissed beaches and lush green environment seems to be in an eternal love affair in chaste land of Ganapatipule. There are some water sports facilities available. A temple of Lord Ganesha is also located at the beach for the devotees to have a pleasant experience of worship.

waterfall

Most of us have witnessed superior and beautiful hill stations of Maharashtra at least on television if not in really but thanks a lot to the Indian film Industry ‘Bollywood’  and the Indian actor Amir Khan, Khandala has been immortalized through a popular song in the conscience of every Indian individual. Mahabaleshwar is known much for its temple as it is a renowned spot of honeymoon for the newly married couples. The clean air, calm surrounding, placid lake and cascading waterfalls are always a retreat in striking contrast with the bustling cities. Mahabaleshwar is also famous for its rich and juicy strawberries and Lonavala for its chikki.

panchgani

Panchgani is surrounded by five hills and is considered as heaven on earth. This place has absolute beauty and picturesque surroundings.  This little hill station is quite famous amongst the travelers and tourists. There are farmhouses of many rich and famous personalities located in Panchgani.

sai baba temple

Devotional places like Shirdi is a town located in Ahmednagar which is a district of Maharashtra. Devotees from across the world visit the temple of Shirdi Sai Baba which is built over the Samadhi of Shri Sai Baba. Shani Mandir, Narsimha Mandir, Kandoba temple, Sakori Ashram and Changdev Maharaj Samadhi are the different places that  can be visited in Shirdi  or while travelling towards Shirdi.

pune fort

Pune is a place well known as the Queen of the Deccan and Oxford of the East. Pune is that one city in Maharashtra worth visiting and which is rich in its historical factors and past but even its dazzling modern charms. It is nowadays famous for the nightlife and various outdoor concerts held in for the youngsters. The green hills and beautiful lakes of Pune are surely mesmerizing to the visitors.

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Nagpur Nanded Nashik and Satara are the famous districts and places worth visiting in Maharashtra. Each of the districts has its own individual specialty like Nagpur is famous for its oranges whereas Nanded is famous for its Gurudwaras. Nashik is famous for its lush wine yards and wine supply market whereas Satara is famous for its scenic beauty.

Haridwar- The Holy City



Haridwar- The Holy City

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Haridwar is one of the most sanctified pilgrimage places in Uttarakhand state of India. It is regarded as one of the primordial city which is located on the foothills of Himalayas. It is also known as flow path of esteemed River Ganga. It offers you harmony, serenity and a glimpse of Indian early traditions. It is broadly believed that by taking a dip in this holy river, one is cleared of all his past sins. Lakhs of followers from all over India visit Haridwar every year to take a dip in the divine River Ganga. According to Hindu mythology it is believed that Haridwar is one among 4 places where drops of the mixture of immortality, Amrita, unintentionally fell over from the pitcher, in which it was being carried away by the heavenly bird Garuda, after the Samudra Manthan. These 4 places are Haridwar along with Ujjain, Nasik and Prayag (Allahabad). This is exhibited in the Kumbha Mela which is being celebrated every 3 years in one of the 4 places, and thus every 12 years in Haridwar. Millions of pilgrims, devotees, and tourists assemble here from all over the world to celebrate the event. They perform ritualized bathing on the banks of the river Ganga. The spot where the nectar fell is well-thought-out to be the Brahma Kund at Har-ki-Pauri, the most blessed ghat of Haridwar. The climate of this divine spiritual place is temperate all through the year, but the best time is from October to April. Haridwar is well connected by road and rail network from all parts of India.

FAIR AND FESTIVELS

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Haridwar metropolitan is an unlimited package of fairs and festivals. This holy place is so prevalent, not in India but also across the world for its purity. The pious and fun loving people of Haridwar celebrate and perceive many spiritual festivals in the city. The people of Haridwar celebrate most of the Hindu reverent festivals along with some other festivals. The fairs and festivals in Haridwar are systematized devotedly. The group of millions of devotees, followers, monks, tourists, photographers, journalists, local people and the volunteers approach Haridwar Mainly on the occasion of religious festivals and fairs. Pilgrims wait for the auspicious event to visit the city during the festivals. The major festivals of Haridwar are Kumbh mela, Kartik Poornima, Somvati Amavasya mela and Ganga Dussehra. Of ultimate prominence is the Kumbh mela, as it occurs once in 12 years.

  • Kumbh Mela

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Kumbh Mela is very eminent and whole-hearted festival among the people of India. It is a major attraction for the tourists and for the devotees too. It is celebrated with great pomp and show. The group of millions of devotees, followers, monks, tourists visit here to experience the sanctity of the holy destination. After every 12 years Kumbh Mela occurs in Haridwar. Mythological it is said that during the battle between Demons and Lords to get nectar in order to become remarkable, a few drops of it fell on the earth at four sites, Haridwar is one of them and the rest are Prayag, Nasik and Ujjain.

  • Kartik Poornima Mela

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The Hindu month Kartik carries the festival of Kartik Poornima. The Hindus imagined that this month is the most sacred of all month in Hindu calendar. The carnival of Kartik Poornima is celebrated when it is full Moon in the sky and the sun is Krittika. On this particular day also like Diwali lamps are lighted and make them floated in the holy river Ganga.

  • Somvati Amavasya

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Somvati Amavasya is a no moon day that falls on Monday. On this day sacred dip is executed by devotees in Haridwar. Dip in the divine River Ganga is considered promising during Somvati. On this day group of thousands of devotees converge along the River bank of Ganga which looks like Maha Kumbh Mela Amavasya snan. It is believed that keeping fast on this day would take them away from sorrows and sins in their life and make them reach to Lord Vishnu. Married women pray to Peepal tree for the longevity of their husband and children.

  • Ganga Dussehra

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Ganga Dussehra occurs on the 10th day according to the Hindu month Jayestha. The Hindus performs this festival in the custom of worship to the Mother Ganges. According to mythology it is believed that the sacred river Ganga inclined on the same day on earth. It is also believed by the Hindu followers that the water of Ganges works as medicine. The Hindus gives the water drops who do not feel physically well.

GANGA AARTI

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Haridwar is one of the most sacred places in the Uttarakhand State. It is the exact place where every evening the most prevalently known Maha Aarti begins. The most devotional Ghat in Haridwar is Harki Pauri. It is an exciting bathing ghat for the visiting tourists and devotees. At the time of Maha Aarti millions of followers gather near both side of the ghat to be a part of it. They also light up clay lamps and make a wish there. The Pundits start the Aarti and the audience sings Bhajans. The incredible evening catches the visitors’ eye. Haridwar has acquired great importance as a religious pilgrimage destination. Harki Pauri is known all over for its sanctity.

HARIDWAR FOOD

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Food in Haridwar comprises of a healthy taste of vegetarian dishes that are prepared hygienically. As one of the sanctified locations of India, Haridwar houses many pilgrimages. All the pilgrim sites of Haridwar offer pure vegetarian recipes to the tourists. The restaurants in Haridwar are also known to serve authentic vegetarian appetites to the pilgrims. Some of the well-known restaurants that successfully delight the taste buds of tourists in Haridwar include Ahaar, Bestee, Mohan’s Fast Food, Motel Rahi’s restaurant, Bridge Mathura Walla and Chotiwala. All of these restaurants of Haridwar offer pure and tasty dishes at a rational rate. In the recent times some restaurants of South Indian and Punjabi cuisine have also flourished in Haridwar.

TOURISTS ATTRACTIONS

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The gateway of Gods, Haridwar is unquestionably a changing scene of Indian civilization and culture. Being blessed by the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh Haridwar holds gigantic significance for a pious Hindu. The numerous temples dedicated to Hindu gods and goddess is a major fascination for the pilgrims. Haridwar also ensure to be an ancient shakteepeeth thus again enticing lot of enthusiastic devotees. Some of the places to visit in Haridwar. Mansa Devi Temple, Pawan Dham Temple, Parmeshwar Mahadev Temple, Chanda Devi, Daksha Mahadev Temple, Bharat Mata Mandir, Doodhadhari Barfani Temple, Bilvkeshwar Mahadev Temple, Neeleshwar Mahadev Temple and Maa Kali Temple. Some other attractions which enhances the beauty of Haridwar are: – Udan Khatola, Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary, Shanti Kunj and Sapt Rishi Ashram & Sapt Sarovar

SHOPPING

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Haridwar is also famous for its local bazaars or markets. The main Haridwar bazaar is Moti Bazaar which is a long, winding street, probably the oldest part of the town, free of all vehicular traffic. It is one of the best and busiest shopping areas in Haridwar, Moti Bazaar is situated between the Har-ki-Pauri and the Upper Road. Here one can shop various religious items such as Rudraksha, Gangajal, precious stones for prosperity, and vermillion to name a few. Images of deities, food offerings, sacred threads, pickles, and Ayurveda medicines are among the other items that can be purchased. The numbers of tiny shops lined along the streets are best explored on foot.

The Blue Pearl of Morocco- Chefchaouen



The Blue Pearl of Morocco- Chefchaouen

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If you wish to elope away to an isolated place, far away from the city hustle bustle, however without having cut off all necessary metropolitan ties, then a small, beautiful rural city at Northwest edge of Morocco awaits your arrival. Shrouded in the midst of the Rif Mountains of the northwest Morocco, lies Chefchaouen, a sleepy and secretive mountain refuge, that seems to whisper its existence to its surroundings only. Even though isolated, its paradoxical location, inland from Tangier and Tetouan, close to major international cities, makes it a very popular tourist destination! However what is more intriguing is behind the walls of this city with concealed megalopolis networks, a relaxed life, painted in the shades of blue preserve its rustic charm and eccentric local looks. Yes, this is the Blue city of Morocco, and is popularly known for its traditional blue-rinsed houses and buildings, owing to the city’s former Jewish population, that are spread all across the city, making it emerge like a blue-pearl of Morocco.

ChefchaouenCityView

Beneath the towering peaks which is but its namesake, the hidden town ,somewhat aloof from the goings-on in the rest of the country, derives its name from a Berber term for ‘horns’, Ichawen, due to the shape of the mountain tops of the town, which looks like the two horns(chaoua) of a goat.

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Set in the dramatic backdrop of the Rif Mountains, under the cloudless skies sprinkled with constellations unobstructed by light  pollution, this humble town is a paradigm of every Moroccan cliché with its air filled with serene silence, periodically echoed with the prayers out of several mosques scattered around the town. If tranquillity and a haven to relax with a topping of distinct palette of blue and white buildings inhabiting the surroundings against the striking contrast of the arid setting, is what you’re looking for, then there’s no other place more quaintly unperturbed and friendly than this town.

gfvyu   Chefchaouen-Robinju

Now, let’s trace out a bit of history, that has cradled this town to its contemporary standing today. Founded in 1471,as a fortress which still exists, by Moorish exiles from Spain, led by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami to combat the Portuguese invasions of Northern Morocco, was a base for the Riffian Berber tribes ,from which Portuguese Ceuta were attacked. However, after the fall of Granada in 1492,a wave of Muslim and Jewish refugees overwhelmed into Morocco and brought to the city a prominent Andulasian architectural style encompassing hanging balconies, tiled roofs and courtyards.And, it all nested along the charming line of blue maze-like town paved with cobbled-stoned streets.

IMG_3664-final3-990  chefchaouen_2

However, until the beginning of the Spanish occupation in 1920,the city still remained closed to all foreigners esp. to all Christians. But, now  so many years after the Moroccan independence in 1956,Chefchaouen has transformed into a tourist hub and houses almost two hundred hotels ranging from budget packer hotels to luxurious mansions,that cater to the incursion of tourists from all over the world, Europe especially.

Blue

Things to do

A quaint place to shop, relax, eat and hike, here’s all that this blue city is famous for:

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  • Among, many other reasons, for tourists to flock to this town, shopping is the second most important! Here, you can often spot women making handmade Moroccan rugs and carpets using wool, camel hair, cactus fibre and natural dyes from the surrounding hills. It offers many native handicrafts, like traditional wool garments and woven blankets ,leather goods and cedar wood furniture, that are not possibly available elsewhere in the entire Morocco. The goat cheese ,which is native to this area is also a popular buy, for the tourists!

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A paradise for all junkies, an addictive emporium consisting of an array of colourful and beautiful products, starting from Morroccan brass and silver teapots and glasses, Moroccan lanterns and plates glint, to Aztec-patterned bags and Moroccan slippers lie heaped in piles.Stop at the sheltered trove along Hassan 1,for silver plates and jewellery, where you could find trinkets balancing in precarious stacks and line the walls. Walk a little further along the cobbled street and you’ll find cardigans, shawls and blankets made from sheep’s wool and camel hair all around the place. For delicate and artsy handmade tagine clay pots ,follow the hillside to the Kasbah area to an organized scattering bazaar there. However, before this stunning indulgence could blind you, remember to barter for you’re wares and bargain it to the exact half of what is asked by the seller!

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  • Owing to its laid back ambience which might be partly due to the fact that outskirts of Chefchaouen is known to be the centre of the marijuana plantations region in North Morocco, and is also one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco, it is often very popular among mainstream travellers. Moreover, Hashish is actively sold all over the town, though it’s mostly the domain of native Chaouenis. Drugs are not only widespread in the town but are also widely tolerated making it emerge as a Moroccan version of Amsterdam.

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  • A visit to the Medina, which is the focal point of interest for most of the travellers, as it is the ancient part of Chefchaouen and seems to be washed in all shades of blue. You’d notice, the streets, the walls and even inside the homes on almost every street and alleyway, all pigmented with different shades of blue. Your arrival here, would enlighten you with the reason behind its much fame title, “The Blue Pearl of Morocco. You can even stop short at the local shops that use bright-coloured pigments to make paints, that cover the entire city in the blue cloud!

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  • Of course, simply walking around the town sliding through the blue alleyways sounds appealing enough, but there is an array of places you should go on this trip. Checkout the waterfall, Ras el Maa at the east of medina, which is but a meeting point for local residents and you could always expect a friendly welcome along with a bit of chit-chat while relaxing or doing the laundry for the carpets and rugs especially, on Sundays. Also, the Ashour waterfalls which is 30 minutes by car and 2.5 hours by foot, far from the town, is a must visit. Another, nearby attraction is the Ker Toghobeit Cave, which is considered to be one of the deepest caves in Africa.

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  • Experience Moroccan history come alive at early 18th century building, the Kasbah museum, in Medina. It was built by the legendary ruler Moulay Ismail and is fairly simple without the architectural razzmatazz and is surrounded by gardens both on the interiors and exteriors. Inside the chambers of Kasbah, the ethnographic museum contains antique weapons, musical instruments and photographs of the old town.

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  • Your visit to the cobbled square of Plaza Uta el- Hammam has to be inevitable, and once there, experience the spiritual escapade into the striking 15th century Grand Mosque and its adjoining buildings that are said to be built by the Jewish refugees who alongside the Muslims escaped the Spanish persecution in Chefchaouen.

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  • Once you’ve excavated almost the entire town, get ready to get all the more exhausted and gear up for a guided hike, through the picturesque green-hill sides lined up close-by. Whatever the season is, views, here are spectacular all year round.For trekkers, it is recommended to trip here, during the months of April to June as during the winter seasons, Chefchaouen faces dustings of snow, which makes hiking too challenging to accomplish. But, once you are exhausted and spent, a relaxing and luxurious Moroccan spa experience awaits you at Hammam.

LambTagine   sweets

  • And, as no trip is complete without a bit of gastronomic indulgence,  especially in the haven of Moroccan cuisine, a venture into its flavours is necessary. Witness the piquant extravagance of a tajine or tagine, which is a historical Berber slow-cooked stew of meat, fish or chicken with vegetables and fruits flavoured with Moroccan spices. Dare to pair up a lamb tajine with couscous meal ,complimented by an aromatic chalice of red wine, and experience pure bliss. Also, you should try the fresh goat cheese salad there, which is a succulent local Rif speciality. For desserts, dive into the varieties of sweet-desires, get confused, but remember to stop at a place called, Plaza Uta el-Hamman to enjoy the local sweets under the shade of the mulberry trees neatly lined up there.For diner, stop at the elegantly decorated ancient dwelling, Restaurant Tissemlal, which flaunts its impressive French-Moroccan set menu!

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And after being done with your Moroccan meal, polish off the toxins with a delicious sip of refreshing mint tea,which is made by boiling green tea leaves with fresh mint and a gorgeous helping of sugar. No Moroccan meal is complete without this tea, its reputably great for health and is also a very important part of Moroccan aloof lifestyle within the higgledy-piggledy blue-alleyways!

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So, if you’re the kind of traveller, ready to taste a bit of traditional spicy surprise on you sweet adventure, Moroccan surprise, Chefchaouen awaits your arrival!

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For the Bibliophile: College Street, Kolkata



For the Bibliophile: College Street, Kolkata

Kolkata (erstwhile, Calcutta) is a picture of paradoxes. It is a city which is ready to take on the future and yet clings on longingly into its Colonial past. A city of nostalgia. A city that is a daily celebration of  the human existence. It is ‘the city of joy’, indeed. As the former capital of British India, the city has its fair share of history to share. Buildings of dramatic colonial architecture, street food, the omnipresent quintessential Bengali ‘adda’ (informal gathering of friends, colleagues and/ or strangers over tea or coffee and generous doses of miscellaneous conversations), the political activism- all of it coexists in harmony within the folds of the city. Calcutta has seen it all. It has been the epicentre of the Naxalite movement and the Bengal Renaissance where the Bengali intelligentsia has taken action. Even today the city is often referred to as the intellectual and literary capital by the rest of the nation.

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Boi para: of  Books and Beyond

To feel the nerve of Kolkata, thus, one has to visit the street where its intellectual soul comes alive. And what can be better than a visit to College Street (quite similar to ‘Diagon Alley’ for the ones familiar with Harry Potter references)? The name of the street itself exudes an old worldly charm that brings to life the world’s largest second hand book market. It consists of about 2000 bookstores frequented by 1 lakh people everyday. Also called ‘boi para’ (the locality of books), one can scurry through the alleys of shops and stalls to find books on any subject under the sun. The invigorating smell of books, new and old, lovingly read and reread fills the atmosphere. You can find books to prepare for competitive exams, educational texts, medical encyclopaedia, religious texts, serious non fiction, popular magazines to the more popular contemporary paperback novels- all at unbelievable prices. Haggling for prices is common and many veterans swear that the bargaining adds to the pleasure of the entire experience itself. Many of the major Bengali and Non Bengali publications such as Ananda Publications and Rupa & co. are also to be found here.

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The street extends from Bowbazar on one end to the College Street Bata Crossing on the other (in the northern part of the city. It is located in close vicinity to some of the oldest and most reputed educational institutions of Calcutta. (Presidency College, Calcutta University, Calcutta Medical College being a few examples) Thus the multitude of small and big book shops are always teeming with book lovers and students alike. A day spent browsing through the huge collections offers you the thrill of finding a rare book that has gone out of print, a leather bound original edition or rediscovering an old favorite all over again. Places which exude the Calcutta spirit more than College Street are indeed very rare.

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The Added Attractions : Indian Coffee House and other gastronomic experiences

And this is here that I tell you that the place is not a heaven only for the bibliophiles, but also for the foodies (and the ones who like a dose of intelligent conversation with their cup of tea or coffee). The famous Indian Coffee House in the area can provide patrons with hot coffee and delicious kobiraji cutlet while you read the newest bestseller. Coffee House is an important landmark that is associated with the innermost fabric of the Bengali culture. It has been a favorite haunt with the leading poets, novelists and literary figures of  Bengal for a very long time. The famous musician Manna Dey composed a song about the ‘addas’ in coffee house that retains its popularity even after decades.

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College Street also harbors the best places to quench your thirst. You cannot afford to miss the legendary ‘Paramount Juices and Shakes’ with its famed Daab Malai (a dessert made from green coconut) and chocolate shakes. A sip of the heavenly drinks will drive away exhaustion and the scorching heat of the city. And then there are the many street hawkers selling potato and eggplant fritters and phuchkas (a street food delicacy that is a legend in itself) that will be a gastronomic epiphany while you walk along sipping on  tea ( with just the right amount of sugar and a whiff of ginger or cardamom) through the college campuses looking at used and unused books. A day out in this corner of the city can make you one with the beating heart of the largest cultural hub of the country.

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College Street: the Future

The winding alleys and stacks of books buried in the stalls that we identify College Street with might soon be a thing of the past. The Government of West Bengal has taken up the project of modernizing College Street. A swanky book mall called ‘Barna parichay’ is coming up and the rehabilitation of the thousands of book sellers into the folds of the mall is in the pipeline. Whether or not the mall will be able to recapture the authentic indelible College Street spirit is however, another question altogether.

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The construction of Barna parichay has made rapid progress and the world class mall will soon be operational.

Gujarat: The Jewel of the West



Gujarat: The Jewel of the West

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India is a country famous for its culture, temples and food. The ‘Jewel of the West’ i.e., Gujarat, in the North-West coast of India is a major state in India with an area of 196,024 km2 and a population of 60,439,692. Some of the major cities of Gujarat are Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda, Bhuj, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and many others. It shares its borders with Rajasthan to the north, Maharashtra to the south, Madhya Pradesh to the east and Arabian Sea and Pakistan’s Sind to the west. It is also the state of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallavbhai Patel and Mohammad Ali Jinnah who played an integral role in India’s independence struggle and very recently Narendra Modi.

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However, it is futile to bore the readers with factual details about the beautiful state which on the one hand is home to certain fine cinema personalities like Paresh Raval, Ayesha Jhulka and Himesh Reshammiya while on the other produces a wide variety of delicious food items like dhokla, fafda, khandvi and many others. The Gujarati film industry is said to be one of the largest regional film industries in India. Bhavni Bhavai is one of the most acclaimed gujarati films having won the National Award for best Feature Film on National Integration.

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Not only the cinema buffs but the foodies can also have a great time in the state. For the Gujaratis, a typical thali consists of roti or bhakri, dal or kadhi, rice and sabzi, home-made pickle and chhundo in which everything is vegetarian. Many of the dishes have a unique taste which is sweet, salty and spicy at the same time which caters to the tastes of a wide range of people and the mouth begins to water even to think of it. The buttermilk of Saurashtra region is a must have item on a daily basis.

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It is a sight to behold to see the Gujarati men and women performing Garba during the Navratri which is a nine-day festival and the Gujarati dandiya and Garba can make even the western people dance to the tune of string instruments such as rktaro, jantar and ravan hattho and percussion instruments such as manjira and zanz pot drum. Chetan Bhagat’s novel The 3 mistakes of my life also centers around Gujarat and shows a wholesome picture of the state.

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The festival of Makar sakranti is also celebrated on the occasion of which people fly kites.

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The Gujaratis are a colorful people who enjoy life to the fullest, eat a healthy and large amount of food and sing and dance and have many craftworks which are credited to them. The Gujarati lehenga is famous all over India which contains mirror work and beadwork on a lehenga making it look beautiful. Handicrafts are an integral part of the culture of Gujarat. The Gujaratis are spiritual and cooperative.

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One finds harmony and a peace of mind in the tranquil environs of Somnath, Dwarka, Junagadh and Sun temple of modhera. It is a religious hub for Hindus as well as Muslims as it also has Jama Masjid in Ahmedabad. The spiritual people can have a time of their life in this state.

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Therefore, Gujarat is a cultural hub and attracts lakhs of tourists due to its simplicity and tranquility and also scenic beauty. Gujarat is the only place which houses Asiatic lions in the world in the Gir National park. It also offers beautiful scenic beauty ranging from the Great Rann of Kutch to the hills of Satpura. Many structures of the state are built in an architectural style known as the Indo-Saracenic style which is the fusion of Hindu craftsmanship and Islamic architecture. Currently, Amitabh Bachchan is the brand ambassador of tourism in Gujarat. It has a number of museums like the Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery in Vadodra or the Porbandar Sabarmati Ashram in Porbandar which is related to Mahatma Gandhi and also Sabarmati Ashram which is central to Gandhi.

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Being on the coastline of India Gujarat also has certain beaches like the Mandvi Beach and Tithal beach which is famous for its beautiful sunset. The Taranga hills which is a wildlife sanctuary and a Jain pilgrimage senter and Dholavira which is a site of Harappan civilisation are also some of the tourist destinations.

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Many fairs are also held in Gujarat like the five-day fair during Mahashivratri at the fort of Girnar in Junagadh, the Ambaji fair around August-September and the Tarnetar fair in September-October which is a week-long. All of them help to showcase Gujarati culture in greater light.

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Therefore, Gujarat invites many tourists seeking various aspects of nature. Most importantly it is the people’s sincerity to their culture which attracts others to try to experience the same affinity with their culture. It can be easily visited by air, rail, road or sea. Transportation is not a problem in this state. It has 17 airports, many railway stations out of which Vadodra is the busiest, many national highways and most importantly the longest coastline in India which is 1600km. The best time to visit the state is in the winters i.e., from October to March. Indian culture is what is present in the nook and cranny of this state and it invites all those who want to experience an affinity with Indian culture and have a tranquil holiday all to themselves and for knowing this country better.

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