AMAZING PLACES TO SEE IN INDIA - MYTHOLOGY MEETS HISTORY IN DWARKA

Hello friends! Dwarka is one of the most important places for Hindu. It is an amazing place to see in India. It is one of the places to travel for pilgrimage. India has so much of intriguing ancient history. And then it has it's mythological stories and beliefs of many eras ago. There are so many places in India, which are believed to be from mythological eras and people see them as parts of their cultural and religious beliefs. Have you been to any such place? Apart from being religiously important, these places have many architectural masterpieces also depicting ancient history and arts of the bygone eras. Places like Mathura, Varanasi, Rameshwaram, Mata Vaishno Devi Mandir etc. have huge devotional value for a large number of people in India. And then there are places, which are living proof of what happened centuries ago. Dwarka is one such place whose history dates back to the era of Lord Krishna.

Dwarka, situated in Gujarat in western India, is an ancient city and is believed to be the one where Lord Krishna set up his kingdom after leaving Mathura. It is also said to be the first capital of Gujarat. Further, it is one of the four most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites also known as Chardham. Dwarka is also one of the Saptpuris(or seven most ancient cities) of India. If you are looking to see most amazing places in India, you can't miss Dwarka.


Dwarka, Gujarat
DWARKA
Image - indianholidays.com
The ancient Dwarka of Lord Krishna was a gold city. There is a myth that after Krishna left earth, a big flood gulped whole city of gold and it submerged in the sea. However, of late this myth has got some credence with the efforts from Archaeological Survey of India, who have, during fresh excavations, found new evidence of the existence of Dwarka during the era of Lord Krishna.


VIEW OF DWARKA CITY, Gujarat
VIEW OF DWARKA CITY
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The word Dwarka means door to heaven. So once you enter the city, the pure and pious air of the city will enchant you. The spiritual atmosphere all around coupled with chants by devotees make it a holy city. Apart from that, Dwarka has some of the most grand temples, which are architectural marvels in themselves. And in addition, there are beautiful beaches around town to relax and rejuvenate.

WHAT TO SEE IN DWARKA:

1. DWARKADHISH TEMPLE - The first thing you do on arrival at Dwarka is head stright to Dwarkadhish temple. This temple has a history of more than 5000 years and is believed to have been built by Vajranabh who was the great grandson of Shri Krishna. The temple stands proudly at the place where river Gomti meets Arabian sea. It is a towering structure with a Chalukya style architecture. The main shrine is five storied tall and is made of sand and limestone.


DWARKADHISH TEMPLE, Dwarka
DWARKADHISH TEMPLE
Image - gujarattourism.com

Dwarkadhish temple, Dwarka, Gujarat
ARCHITECTURE OF DWARKADHISH TEMPLE
Image - gujarattourism.com

The idol of Lord Krishna is in black color but is extremely attractive. The Bhavya(or huge) temple is situated at a height of 250 ft adorned by a 25 ft flag staff at the top. The towering Shikhara, built like a mountain peak, stands atop the Garbh Griha. Within the temple, there are other shrines dedicated to Balaram, Rukamani, Subhadra, Revathy and many others. The festival of Janamashtami(birthday of Lord Krishna) is the most important festival in Dwarkadhish temple and is celebrated with much gusto. A large number of devotees throng the temple to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna. Hues of colors adorn the town during this time. As a custom, devotees take a dip in the river Gomti before proceeding to Dwarkadhish temple.


Beautiful Dwarkadhish temple, Gujarat
BEAUTY OF DWARKADHISH TEMPLE
Image - astrolika.com
The flag changing ceremony in the temple is a treat to watch. Five times a day(thrice in the morning and twice in the evening), the flag at the top of the temple is changed. People in Dwarka come singing and dancing while bringing the flag to the temple and there is a huge cheer when the flag is changed.

2. SWAMI NARAYAN MANDIR - Just close to Dwarkadhish temple is the Swami Narayan temple, situated near to the beautiful beach. This temple is dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan, a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. The best part of the temple is the spiritual vibes that you get ere. A very neat and clean temple, Swaminarayan temple is a very peaceful place. 


SWAMI NARAYAN MANDIR, Gujarat
SWAMI NARAYAN MANDIR
Image - tripadvisor.com
The beautiful architecture along with life like idols of Gods and Goddesses are truly eye catching. And the tranquil ambiance of the place gives a sense of true peace. When you visit the temple, it is sure to lift your spirits. The temple committee has a Dharamshala also, where you can stay.


Swami Narayan Mandir, Dwarka, Gujarat
INSIDE SWAMI NARAYAN MANDIR
Image - tripadvisor.com
3. GOMTI GHAT - Just behind Dwarkadhish temple, there is a beautiful view of river Gomti meeting Arabian sea. The devotees are tempted to take a dip in the river as it is believed that Gomti is none other than Ganges, the most sacred river in India. It is a thrilling sight to see a river bank and a beach at the same place. There is a bridge on river Gomti. You just cross the bridge and walk across to Dwarka beach. There is camel ride available here for children. Devotees offer prayers at the Gomti Ghat. This a place which is not only significant from religious point of view, but it is a great attraction for nature lovers too.


GOMTI GHAT, Dwarka
GOMTI GHAT
Image - depositphotos.com

Gomti Ghat, Dwarka, Gujarat
ANOTHER VIEW OF GOMTI GHAT
I
mage - dwarka.sacredyatra.com

BATHING AT GOMTI GHAT Dwarka
PEOPLE BATHING AT GOMTI GHAT
Image - ftd.travel

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4. LIGHTHOUSE - The lighthouse at the beach is another treat to watch. The 43 m high structure is more than 50 years old(it was built in the year 1962) and gives a panoramic view. At sunset and sunrise, the lighthouse adds a mysticism to the surroundings. It's a great place to click pictures.


Lighthouse, Dwarka
LIGHT HOUSE AT DWARKA BEACH
Source - holidayiq.com

Lighthouse, Dwarka, Gujarat
LIGHTHOUSE ON A CLOUDY DAY
Image - gujaratorbit.com

5. NAGESHWARA JYOTIRLINGA TEMPLE - This is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas or self existent temples. The huge statue of Lord Shiva is sure to mesmerize you. The statue is giant and artistically built. A nice and calm place, it is about 30 minutes drive from Dwarka. The experience of aarti in the temple is simply divine. The energy it releases is just amazing. The jyotirlinga is about 8-9 ft below ground level. You can have darshan from a distance and if you want to perform pooja, you have to go down 6-7 steps. On normal days, there is not much crowd so you can have easy darshan. Shivaratri is celebrated with great devotion here since the temple is one of the jyotirlingas.


NAGESHWARA JYOTIRLINGA TEMPLE, Dwarka
NAGESHWARA JYOTIRLINGA TEMPLE
Image - jyotirlingatemples.com

NAGESHWARA JYOTIRLINGA TEMPLE, Gujarat
CLOSER VIEW OF NAGESHWARA JYOTIRLINGA TEMPLE
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LORD SHIVA STATUE at Nageshwara Jyotirlinga temple
LORD SHIVA STATUE AT THE TEMPLE
Image - commons.wikimedia.org

You can visit the Sudama Setu on Gomti river early morning to see beautiful sunrise at the confluence of the river and the sea. You have to buy a ticket to visit the bridge but the view of sunrise from here is sure to enthrall you. And then you can watch the sunset from the beach to get a stunning view. Probably, this is the only place, where you can see sunrise and sunset at the same point.


SUDAMA SETU, Dwarka
SUDAMA SETU
Source-flicker.com

Sudama setu, Dwarka, Gujarat
ANOTHER VIEW OF SUDAMA SETU
Source - tripoto.com

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HOW TO REACH - 

AIR - The nearest airport is Jamnagar, which is about 130 km(81 mi) away. You can hire a taxi or get on to a state run bus from here to reach Dwarka.

RAIL - Dwarka has it's own railway station and is well connected to all the major cities like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai etc.

ROAD - Dwarka is well connected to all the major cities by godd road network and you can get state run buses from there to reach Dwarka.


DWARKA BEACH, Gujarat
DWARKA BEACH
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Camel ride at Dwarka beach
CAMEL RIDE AT DWARKA BEACH
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WHERE TO STAY - Dwarka has many hotels suiting all budgets.

So whether you are a religious person or a lover of the art, a believer in mythology or a nature lover, Dwarka must be in your list of amazing places to see in India.

When are you visiting Dwarka?

HAPPY TRAVELING!!

AMAZING PLACES TO SEE IN INDIA - 5 PLACES ON MY BUCKET LIST IN 2019

Hi friends! There are so many amazing places to see in India. I am going to share my bucket list for the year 2019 with you all. These are some of the most beautiful and interesting places to travel in India. I hope you must also have planned or started to plan your adventures for this year. After all, new year means new explorations and new learning. I am sure you must be looking forward to traveling to some of the most exotic places on earth. I, for one, have my bucket list of must-see places this year and I sincerely hope that things move as per the plan and I am able to see all these amazing places in India. So, here is my bucket list'2019 for you.

1. KUTCH RANN UTSAV - First up on my list is Kutch Rann Utsav, which I had to postpone last year. Organized by Gujarat tourism in the Kutch region of Bhuj district every year, this is a celebration of the local culture and a display of ethnic pride. Held every year from 1st November to 28th February, the Rann Utsav is an extravaganza of ethnic food, dance music and crafts. The Rann of Kutch is one of the largest salt deserts in the world and the Rann Utsav is a festival to be enjoyed under the open skies. The magnitude of the festival can be gauged from the fact that entire Bhuj district goes festive during this period and for the finale of the festival, a special big tent city is set up near a village called Dhordo. This tent city comprises of 400 AC and non AC tents. The shear scale and grandiosity of the celebrations is enough to leave you awestruck. The white sands of the desert shining through full moon nights gives a thrill of a different kind. 


Rann utsav, Kutch
GLITTERING RANN UTSAV
Image - gujarattourism.com


Kutch Rann Utsav, Gujarat
TENT CITY AT NIGHT
Image - visittnt.com

Rann Utsav Tents
VIEW OF TENT CITY
Image - rannutsavonline.com

And the best part is enjoying amazing performances by local artists, sitting around a bonfire outside your tent. You would cherish every moment of it.


Rann Utsav celebrations
FOLK DANCERS AT RANN UTSAV
Image - weekendthrill.com

2. KHAJJIAR - Second on my list is breathtaking Khajjiar in Himachal Pradesh. Also called the Switzerland of India, this heavenly place is located near Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh in north India. This is a unique place in the sense it provides you with a rare combination of lakes, forests and pastures. At an altitude of 6500 ft., the beauty and landscape of Khajjiar are sure to mesmerize you. Khajjiar lake, encircled by green pastures and lush green Deodar forests will leave you spellbound. The serenity and natural splendour of the lake will rejuvenate your body and mind. You can get a very good view of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas from here along with snow covered peaks. The green meadows and dense forests add to the charm of the place. For adventure seekers, there are enough options like horse riding, trekking, zorbing and paragliding. The nine hole golf course in Khajjiar is situated in the midst of lush green landscapes is simply breathtaking. The picturesque village around Khajjiar is an added attraction. You can just go exploring the naturally beautiful country side life, their culture and enjoy the local cuisine with them. Roam around in apple orchards of Khajjiar and surrounding villages. You will find Khajjiar one of the most amazing places to see in India.


Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh
KHAJJIAR
Image - andhrawishesh.com

Khajjiar near Dalhousie
KHAJJIAR IN IT'S FULL GLORY
Image - india.com

Khajjiar Lake, Himachal
KHAJJIAR LAKE
Image - wikipedia.com

Zorbing at Khajjiar lake
ZORBING AT KHAJJIAR
Image - traveldglobe.com

3. SURAJKUND INTERNATIONAL CRAFTS FAIR - Next up is Surajkund International Crafts Fair. This is one event, I don't want to miss for two reasons. First, it is held in my hometown and second, it has such an amazing assembly of craftsmen from around the world, who showcase their craftsmanship and wares to the world audience through this fare. This is an annual fair held in Surajkund in Faridabad near Delhi. The fair is organized in the first fortnight of February every year. It is a 15 days affair. Artisans from various countries participate and display their products. The fair ground is a sprawling complex spread over an area of 40 acres. There are cultural troops from different countries which enthral you with their live performances. And then there is multi cuisine food complex to satisfy your testebuds. Here, you will not only get to eat dishes from different states of India but from the participating countries also. You can pick up what you like from handicrafts, garments, home decor, utensils, display items and even some innovative gift items from here.


People at Surajkund international crafts fair
MEDAGASCAR STALL

Folk artists at Surajkund
FOLK ARTISTS PERFORMING

Handicrafts at Surajkund fair
MOROCCAN HANDICRAFTS ON DISPLAY 

4. BERINAG - This beautiful hill destination is next on my list. Also known as the "town of snake temples" (Nag in the name means snake), Berinag is an epitome of natural beauty. Situated in Pithoragadh district of Uttarakhand, Berinag is a serene hamlet, away from the hustle bustle of the cities. It is located at 160 km(100 mi) from it's more famous and bigger cousin, Nainital, at an altitude of 1860 m(6100 ft). It is an ideal place to connect with nature. You can get a majestic view of some of the crowning peaks of the great Himalayas loke Trishul and Nanda Devi. You can even get a view of Nepal Himalayas at a distance from here. A hidden jewel of Berinag is it's lush green tea gardens. The Nag Devta temple is the main snake temple erected here and is quite popular. There are not many tousist spots around Berinag but this is a place to soak in as much nature as you can and spend some quiet and relaxing time. Unwind and connect with your inner self at Berinag.


BERINAG, Pithoragadh
BERINAG
Image - euttaranchal.com

Himalayan peaks at Berinag
SNOW CAPPED PEAKS AT BERINAG
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Nagdevta temple, Berinag, Uttarakhand
NAGDEVTA TEMPLE
Image - uttarakhanddinman.com

5. RAVANGLA - And Ravangla in Sikkim is ultimate. Visiting some of the most beautiful temples and monasteries, indulging in adventure sports, going for trekking, exploring the surroundings and then relaxing with a cup of coffee. That is Ravangla for you. Located at an altitude of 7000 ft, Ravangla is a small town in Sikkim, in north east India. It is 65 km(40 mi) away from state capital Gangtok. You are sure to fall in love with the landscape and tranquillity of this place. With Kanchenjunga peaks in the backdrop, it presents a breathtaking sight. The exotic flora and fauna of Ravangla are making it a very attractive destination. The quaint town serves as the base for many treks. Some other Himalayan peaks visible from here are Mt. Sinalchu, Mt. Kabru and Mt. Pandim. Ravangla is also a bird watcher's delight as it attracts a lot of Himalayan birds. And if you are a photographer, then head straight to Ravangla to click an unending number of pictures of mesmerizing surroundings. This is yet another amazing place to see in India.


Buddha park, Ravangla, Sikkim
BUDDHA PARK

RAVANGLA, Sikkim
RAVANGLA
Image - guide4travel.in

Tea garden, Sikkim
TEA GARDEN AT RAVANGLA

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So what is in your bucket list for 2019? I would love to add to my list of amazing places to see in India above. So do let me know in comments.

HAPPY TRAVELING!!

AMAZING PLACES TO SEE IN INDIA - MY TWO DAY TRIP UNDER 2500 INR (35 USD)

Hello friends! This is the beginning of the new year and my best wishes to all of you for wonderful explorations during 2019. Welcome to my first post of the year about amazing places to see in India. With explorations come the money matters and in that respect, I am pretty sure that each one of you would love to spend as little as possible to explore as much as possible. For a compulsive and inquisitive traveler like me, it becomes imperative to go with a tight budget. It not only enables me to manage my finances rationally but also gets me out of worry for my next trip. I hope you all would agree with me on that.

But traveling on a shoestring budget comes with it's own set of problems. There would be some hardships that you must be willing to endure. I know some of you are already saying, "been there, done that" :). But there are many among us, who would love to get new ideas on saving money and traveling on a tight budget. This is as true for solo travelers as for family or group travelers. Nobody wants to splurge money unnecessarily but everyone likes to get most out of whatever they are spending. So how do I manage when I go to see amazing places in India.



Travel budget
CHECK YOUR BUDGET

So, when I was planning for my last trip, I decided to set a very tight budget and check myself if I could manage within that. And it involved letting go of some of the comforts, which I could have had otherwise. And then there was the question of amount of time that I would be able to spend in the budget I had planned.

After considering all factors, I finalized a two day trip to Bikaner in Rajasthan. Bikaner is not a very big city and is a border city. It is about 500 km(312 mi) from my native place, Faridabad, which is again about 40 km(25 mi) south of national capital New Delhi. 

I booked an overnight train from Delhi to Bikaner as the train route doesn't pass through my city. Although it was peak winter (I traveled only last month i.e. December'18), I purposely booked a non -AC coach ticket. So I saved both the ticket as well as night stay. I knew it would be tough to travel non-AC in peak winters but I was prepared, both mentally as well as physically. I did the same for my return journey also. So the total train ticket cost for return journey came to just INR590.


Bikaner junction railway station, Rajasthan
BIKANER RAILWAY STATION

Then I checked and found that there was accommodation available at Bikaner station itself. So I never thought of booking a hotel room and instead booked a bed in the dormitory of the railway station. I made this booking online. I was not sure about the condition of the dormitory so booked only for one night. Actually the dormitory bed is booked for 24 hours slots beginning at 8 o'clock  every morning. And my train was scheduled to arrive at Bikaner station at 7.10 am. So it suited me perfectly. And this 24 hours bed booking cost me just INR200. There are non AC rooms also available at the station, which would have cost INR500.(There are AC rooms also available at major railway stations).


When I checked into the dormitory, I found it pretty decent. Neat and clean with comfortable beds and not much crowd. There were two washrooms attached and hot and cold water running(who would have expected that in a dormitory?:) ). Beds were quite comfortable. So it more or less justified my decision. Now the question before me was that should I extend the booking for another 24 hrs, considering that I was to catch my return train next night at 10.30. Which meant, paying for additional 24 hours but availing the facility for only 14 hrs (since my early booking expired at 8 am next day). But after doing cost benefit analysis, I concluded that I must keep the accommodation till the time I left Bikaner. So I got my dormitory bed booking extended by another 24 hours by paying additional INR200. So far, the cost of my to and fro train journey and my stay in the city - INR990.

Now coming to traveling intra city. Traveling in Bikaner is fairly cheap. The main mode of transport being autorickshaws and owing to short distances, they don't cost much. However, if you wish to travel to spots outside the city, then you have to shell out bigger amounts. But traveling inside the city will cost you not more than INR10-20 one way. So in two days, that I was in the city, I spent about INR160 in two days on local travel and further INR80 on entry tickets to monuments. So, the total spend so far INR1230.


Local travel cost
SAVE ON LOCAL TRAVEL
As for food, it is again not very expensive in Bikaner. And me being a veggie, made it easier for me. You can have a fulsome veg meal(and the city primarily serves veg meal), for INR150. Therefore, I spent roughly INR400 per day on three meals, including breakfast. This adds upto INR800 for two days. My total cost so far INR2030.

And finally, my cost for travel from my city to Delhi Sarai Rohilla station and back was INR270, which included the metro train fare to and from Delhi and autorickshaw fare to and from metro station to railway station. The grand total adds up to INR2300 (which comes to 32 USD roughly). I hope my maths is correct because I was never brilliant in maths :).

So INR2300 is all that I spent on a trip from Faridabad to Bikaner and back. I left home on Tuesday evening and was back on Friday morning. 

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Looking back, I feel I did fairly well. I don't only hope but I am sure that some of you will take a cue and plan your next adventure keeping the above economics in mind because if you intend to cover a lot of amazing places to see in India, you must keep your finances tight. And let me stress the fact that not once during my journey, did I ever feel uncomfortable or deprived. On the contrary, it turned out to be very enjoyable and refreshing experience.

All the best to you for your next travel.
TRAVEL SAFE, TRAVEL ECONOMICALLY!!

CHEERSSSSSS!!!!