April 30, 2018

Moustache Hostel, Rishikesh- Review


Yoga practitioners and rafting enthusiasts have made Rishikesh quite a popular one on the travel map and that brings numerous visitors to this otherwise holy town. As a result, the place is brimming with ashrams, hotels, guest houses and hostels.

Moustache hostel located in a narrow alley in Tapovan is an excellent option to stay if you are keen on a budget hostel. It’s located close to all the major attractions such as Laxman jhula, River Ganga, ashrams and cafes. Apart from dormitories which are both mixed and women only, the hostel also has private rooms. The terrace offers lovely views of the hills and the surroundings. The rooms are impeccably well maintained and the staffs are quite friendly. The hostel also organizes numerous activities such as rafting, yoga classes, visit to nearby attractions and treks. The common areas are spacious, vibrant and also an ideal place to relax and meditate. The rates for dormitories start from INR 349. Moustache hostel is also present in other locations in India such as Jaipur, Udaipur, Pushkar, Jaisalmer, Agra and Varanasi.





What I loved:

Cleanliness: The rooms, baths and common areas are squeaky clean and well maintained.

Activities: They organize or connect the guests with a host of activities and that is quite helpful as you don’t have go in search of the same.

Common Areas: The common areas are ideal for meditation, yoga classes, to read a book or just gaze at the mountains.

Staff: The staff is quite helpful, friendly and eager to answer all your queries.


What I did not like:

There is nothing that I particularly disliked about this place.


Address:

136, Near Inter College Tapovan, VPO- Tapovan, Tehri Garhwal, Rishikesh- 249192
Ph: 9650015650



P.S.: This is not a sponsored post.

April 27, 2018

Attari- Wagah Border Beating Retreat Ceremony


Lahore is just 23 Kms away and that is probably one of the most exciting aspects of visiting the Attari Wagah border. You get to see Pakistan and its people so close, a reminder of the days when there was no border and it was one large country. The partition has left scars on either side of the border and permission to visit across the gates is almost impossible.

However, what brings visitors to this border town is the beating retreat ceremony or the flag lowering ceremony that happens here every evening during sunset. Located close to Amritsar, Attari is the border town on Indian side and Wagah is the border town in Pakistan. The ceremony starts with Indian film songs and children running with Indian flags. Post that, India's BSF and Pakistan's Rangers vie for attention and applause with drill and parade showcasing their patriotism on either side of the gate. It's an act that would definitely give you goosebumps. The ceremony which ends with lowering of the flags, displays the patriotism, rivalry and brotherhood between the two countries which 70 years ago lived as one.









Travel Tips:

  • Reach an hour early to get the best seats. The ceremony takes place at 5.15 PM. During winters, it starts an hour earlier.
  • No bags (except small purses) are allowed to be taken inside and will have to be deposited near the main road.


Navigator:

Attari is 29 Kms from Amritsar and takes about 45 minutes to reach. You can either hire a taxi or take the public bus/ train to Attari from Amritsar. If travelling by train or bus, the last couple of kilometers will have to be covered by foot or by cycle rickshaw.

April 23, 2018

Amritsar: 7 Must Visit Places in the Holy Land



The city of Amritsar has evolved over the years around the Golden temple and its large pond. The city derives its name from the pond surrounding the shrine (Amritsar- Pool of nectar). Located close to Pakistan border and just 50 Kms from Lahore, Amitsar has over the years witnessed attacks by various invaders such as Mughals and Afghans apart from the fights between the Sikhs. The city was also marred by the Jallianwala bagh massacre during independence struggle, the partition and Blue star operation in 1984. However, the divine city has overcome all the scars and is a popular place among travellers and the Golden temple is supposedly one of the most visited monuments in the country. The city is also known for its shopping avenues and a host of eateries.

1. Harmandir Sahib

Though often referred as Golden temple, Harmandir Sahib is the official name of this shrine which is also popularly known as Sri Darbar Sahib. The tank was built by Guru Ram Dass, the fourth Sikh guru in 1577 CE and the gurudwara was built after that by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan in late 16th century. This is the most revered place of worship in Sikhism and the shrine was given a gold plating in the 19th century by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.  As you walk across the marble steps, the shrine surrounded by the divine lake showcases itself gorgeously bathed in gold. Though it remains crowded all through the day, a walk along the periphery of the lake listening to the hymns is an ideal way to soak in the ambience of this divine place. A causeway leads to the shrine which houses Adi Granth, the holy book of Sikhism. The complex also houses other shrines, Alkal Takht (the Eternal Throne), a museum and a community hall which also has the largest free community kitchen in the world. Anyone who visits here should definitely experience the langaar (free food provided by the kitchen). It is well recommended to visit Harmandir Sahib twice, once during the day and at night. The shrine is at its glorious best during the night when it is lit up all across.








2. Jallianwala Bagh

Jallianwala bagh is presently a well laid out garden with two memorials and a gallery. During the British rule in 1919 CE, this place was filled with massacred bodies of more than three hundred Indians. General Dyer closed the only entrance to the ground and then opened fire here against an unarmed Indian crowd who had gathered to listen to nationalist speeches.  Apart from the three hundred who died which included women and children, more than a thousand people were injured. Many jumped into a well nearby to save themselves. Presently, the garden with its memorials and walls with bullet marks informs visitors with stories from the pre-independence times.  





3. Old City

A walk through the old city takes you through its many gates, crowded bazaars, eateries serving delicious cuisines and shops selling a wide range of items from curios, jewellery, kitchenware and consecrated weaponry. Rambagh garden located in the middle of the old town is an ideal place to relax and spend the evenings. Apart from the tank at Harmandir Sahib, the city has a few other tanks such as Santokhsar, Bibeksar, Ramsar and Kaulsar.


4. Partition museum

When India became India and Pakistan in 1947 CE, people who lived in Amritsar and along the border had to undergo torrid times as the place was battered with many losing their families and identities. Partition museum has an extensive collection of stories, documents and photographs from the times of independence and partition. The museum is a tribute to the martyrs and the people who had to undergo those excruciating experiences. The museum is closed on Mondays and photography isn't allowed inside.


5. Durgiana temple

Modeled on Harmandir Sahib, this shrine is dedicated to Durga and is a prominent temple in the city. With a gold plating and located in the middle of a tank, architecture of the temple resembles that of the golden temple in many ways. The temple is also known for its lovely silver doors with exquisite carvings. Located next to it are two other temples dedicated to Hanuman and Shitla devi.



6. Gobindgarh Fort

Located in the middle of the city, Gobindgarh fort was built in 18th century and later renovated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The fort houses many structures, museums, canons, numerous gates and a large garden. The museums have a lovely display of coins and warfare, and have been well maintained. With a large stage that has frequent live performances, food stalls and shops selling various artefacts, the fort is an ideal place for a day picnic with family.




 


7. Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum

The summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the Rambagh gardens is converted into a museum showcasing paintings, manuscripts, coins and a collection of armoury. It gives a detailed insight into the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The museum is the pride of Punjabi culture and displays stories related to the king and important incidents during his rule. It is closed on Mondays.





Navigator:

Amritsar is 230 Kms from Chandigarh and connected to other major cities by flights. There are regular trains connecting Amritsar with other parts of the country and frequent buses between Chandigarh and Amritsar.

Food and Accommodation:

The city is known for its wide range of restaurants and dhabas which serve delicious Punjabi cuisine. Being a large city, there are numerous hotels to stay in Amritsar. I stayed at Jugaadus hostel.

April 13, 2018

A Frame from Across the Border


A scene from Wagah, which is a border town in Lahore, Pakistan. 
The frame was captured from Attari, the town on the Indian side while witnessing the popular Beating Retreat ceremony which happens everyday in the evening on both sides of the border.

April 6, 2018

A Food Trail through Amritsar

As much as it is well known for its culture, music and bhangra, Punjabi cuisine too is popular world over. The holy land of Amritsar is undoubtedly the best place to dip into the delicious Punjabi flavours. A walk through its colourful and vibrant streets would take you to some of the best restaurants, dhabas and lassi shops which are nestled amidst the bazaars. From kulcha to lassi to jalebi to amritsari fish, the city is a gastronomical delight, making it tough for the food lovers to choose from a wide range of dishes offered at the numerous eateries in the city. It is not without a reason that Amritsar is often referred as the food capital of Punjab. Here is a list of must visit places in Amritsar to satiate the taste buds of the ever hungry souls.

Kulwant Singh Kulchian Wale:

Located on a narrow street near the Golden temple, the place offers one of the best Kulchas (flat bread) in the city. With a huge dollop of butter and chole (white chickpeas) to go with it, the Kulchas are absolutely mouth watering. An ideal place for breakfast and lunch, they offer a range of Kulchas such as Alu Kulcha, Gobi Kulcha, Paneer Kulcha and a few more.



Gurdasram Jalebiwala:

Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, a visit to the Gurdasram Jalebiwala would be a sheer delight. While jalebis are crispy, the gulab jamuns are yum and are sure to leave you with a sweet tooth if you don’t have one as yet. Made from pure ghee, these are the only two dishes that are prepared at this popular sweet shop.  This is located near Jallianwala bagh and Golden temple.




Kesar Da Dhaba:

When you are extremely hungry after strolling through the lanes and attractions of Amritsar, do head to Kesar Da Dhaba. Located in the old part of the city, the dhaba is quite a popular place and has been running for more than 100 years. Do not underestimate the place due to its location in a narrow alley. Kesar Da Dhaba serves awesome vegetarian fare and is known for its rich delicious thalis and desserts.


Gian Di Lassi:

This iconic place located near Hathi gate offers one of the best Lassis (sweet yogurt) in Amritsar. A sweet drink, Lassi can be had anytime during the day and most people in Amritsar begin their day with a glass of Lassi. Gian Di Lassi offers large glasses of Lassi topped with sufficient amount of malai (cream). One has to literally scoop and have the lassi rather than drink it.



Brothers Dhaba:

Quite a popular place on GT Road and not far from Golden temple, Brothers Dhaba serves a variety of North Indian dishes apart from South Indian cuisine.  Though the restaurant is popular for Sarson ka Saag and Makke di Roti, their Kulchas, Bhaturas and Paranthas are also well recommended.  


Beera Chicken House:

For meat lovers, Beera Chicken house on Majitha road is the place to relish some chicken dishes. The place is a favourite with chicken lovers and their specialties such as Tandoori chicken, and Roasted chicken are lip smacking delicious. These can be had with Nans or as an entrée. The fish fry too is well recommended.



A-One Kulfa:

While we have all heard and had Kulfi, Kulfa is a dessert which you might not have got your hands on if you haven’t been to Amritsar. A blend of Rabri, Falooda, Kulfi, Phirni, cream and lot more, Kulfa is a delightful mix of many desserts. A-One Kulfa, a small store on Queens’s road call themselves an expert in Kulfa and they are undoubtedly right. The dessert is delicious and quite filling that one could easily have a plate or two as a meal.


Giani Tea Stall:

Fairly big for a tea stall, the place is popular for its tea, masala tea and pakoras. They definitely serve one of the best masala chai in Amritsar. Located on Cooper road, the stall has been functional for more than 60 years.


Guru Ka Langar:

When in Amritsar it is recommended to have langar at least once at the Golden temple. Free food is provided to everyone throughout the day which are prepared and served by volunteers. Though it is a simple one with roti, dal and a sweet, the meal is unlimited and is followed by a glass of tea. The experience of having a meal from the world’s largest free kitchen is definitely a memorable one.


Amritsar does have quite a lot of eateries and few more of the popular ones are Kanha sweets, Makhan da Dhaba and Ahuja’s milk bhandar.

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