Monday, 9 January 2017

Unexplored got explored- Gangtok & Darjeeling!

3 years back, I traveled to Gangtok and Darjeeling with my parents and thought of writing about my experiences at that time, but couldn’t. So, finally! here I am posting few photographs along with the coverage of my 4 day trip.

It was an itinerary of 4 days; Kolkata-Gangtok-Darjeeling-Kolkata. We started off from Kolkata on 24th April,2013 evening and reached Jalpaiguri on the next day morning, from there we took a cab to Gangtok and reached there on the same day by evening. Since, roughly we had 3 days time for exploring two places excluding the travel time, we thought of utilizing it by not wasting our time in roaming around the streets and resting @ our room. We jotted down the places in advance to cover the must visit places in Gangtok and made all the arrangements like taxi and permits
required .
On day 1, we started from our hotel at 6 in the morning and gathered at a common point as told by our guide, from where we had to start our journey to the 1st destination of our trip i.e. "Nathula Pass". Nathula pass is best known as the place which connects Sikkim with China's part of Tibet. I was very excited to visit this place, as I had heard a lot about it beforehand. En-route,on one side we saw many water falls and valley on the other side. The beauty we witnessed around us was breathtaking. As we reached one of the sightseeing places before Nathula pass i.e. "Tsomgo Lake", we were informed by the locals that the route to Nathula pass was closed due to heavy land slide. And then we were told by our guide that Tsomgo Lake is the last resort for us to spend time. So, we buckled up for the sightseeing and took out our cameras as the scenic beauty at Tsomgo Lake was enchanting. I had never been to any such place before which actually had stunned me with its beauty, it was my first experience of this kind, so naturally I took my camera out and clicked lots of pictures of the lake along with valley, yaks and snow-capped mountains etc. We spent almost 3 hours there when rain started to pour-in, we headed back to our vehicles. As soon as we reached Gangtok, we had lunch and continued with our sightseeing. We covered few temples and monasteries and after dusk we came back to our hotel. At night, we took a stroll on beautiful mall road of Gangtok and had our dinner at authentic momos restaurant.

Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake, Gangtok (Sikkim)

Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake, Gangtok (Sikkim)
Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake, Gangtok (Sikkim)
Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake, Gangtok (Sikkim)
Enchey Monastery
Prayers wheels @ Enchey Monastery
Child monk @ Enchey Monastery

On day 2, we had to leave for Darjeeling in the afternoon, so we woke up early and took a cab to cover few more places from our list before leaving. And the first place we opt was the Himalayan zoo of Gangtok. Being a nature lover and enthusiastic photographer, I like taking pictures of animals and that's the main reason I chose zoo as our first place to visit on day 2. There were various species like the Himalayan leopard, the Himalayan cats, white foxes and red panda (the cutest of them all). I took pictures of them all and saved the memories in my camera. After that we went to the botanical garden of Gangtok and then to the Dro-dul Chorten stupa before leaving for Darjeeling. And finally our trip to Gangtok ended there and we reached Darjeeling.

Dro-dul Chorten Stupa, Gangtok

Dro-dul Chorten Stupa, Gangtok

Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park

Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park

Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden

On Day 2, we reached Darjeeling and spent rest of the evening resting in our hotel room.

On Day 3, we got up early at 3 AM, got ready and took a cab to Tiger hill to see the sunrise. Before planning this trip, I read a lot about Tiger hill's sunrise view, that when the sunlight strikes on the snow peaks of Kanchenjunga, it gives you a surreal experience of sheer panoramic view. But to our bad luck the weather badly struck our plan with slight drizzle. And with great disappointment, we headed back to our hotel again and slept for another 2-3 hrs. As soon as we got up, we decided the places to cover on the first day in Darjeeling. Our first place was the war memorial, then the Himalayan zoological park, Rock garden, Tea garden and then finally the Buddhist temple. The whole day went well, I clicked many pictures at war memorial and zoological park. Alongside zoological park, we also visited the Himalayan trekking museum (those who love trekking and other stuff like that will love the facts and history gathered together of all the trekkers and trekking events ever happened in India). The rock garden also had a wonderful view around with a waterfall and different varieties of flowers covering a huge area. Overall, the experience was great and then we went to the Buddhist temple, which was our last place to visit on day 3. Well if you go to places like Gangtok and Darjeeling, its highly advisable to spend good time at places like monasteries and Buddhist temples, these places will make you feel calm and relaxed. As we ended our sightseeing on the 3rd day, we headed back to our hotel and later, went for shopping and strolled around the city.

Batasia Loop, War memorial garden, mountain

Batasia Loop, War memorial garden, mountain

Buddhist Monastery
Rock Garden, Darjeeling

Rock Garden, Darjeeling

Rock Garden, Darjeeling

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

Tea Garden, Darjeeling

On Day 4, since we had to reach the Jalpaiguri station before its late in the evening, we planned to leave Darjeeling in the morning, at around 10 AM. So, for the last adventure we opted to travel by "Darjeeling Himalayan Railway" also known as the "Toy train”. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is declared as the world heritage site by UNESCO and is well known all over the world. We boarded the first train of the day from Darjeeling to Ghoom station (distance of 10 km approx.) and then took a cab from Ghoom to our hotel at Darjeeling. The whole experience of traveling by the toy train was fun. At the end, we left Darjeeling and reached Jalpaiguri on time, and then we boarded our train in the evening from Jalpaiguri to Kolkata.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Dirdham Temple

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A new year, a new beginning !

A new year, a new page,
A new beginning, a new race!
Run the distances, to face the challenge
Higher is the risk, stakes are less to change
Joy and Peace is what, we all expect
Let’s hope and see the next year's best.
Time to enjoy and to make dreams,
Wishes are many, it always seems!
Rear is different, Front is serene,
Make the future an everlasting dream.
Treat the nature and make the planet green,
Rendezvous with life is written and is seen.
A wish is empty without the hearty words in it,
A life is empty without the meaningful endeavors in it.

So wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and good luck in all your future endeavors!!

I thought of writing about my experiences and memories of 2016 but then those are precious to heart and will take a lot of time to write down on paper/blog. Hopefully I will share them soon. Until then, I wish you all a very Happy New Year' 2017 .

Linking the post with BlogChatter weekly prompt 'New Year'.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Peshwa: The Lion and the Stallion #BookReview

If history fascinates you then this novel "The Peshwa: The Lion and the Stallion" by Ram Sivasankaran takes you a few centuries back in Mughal - Maratha period. In the 18th century, when Mughals were loosing their grip over Indian sub-continent and Maratha empire was gradually taking control over Indian states, under the guidance of Chhathrapathi Shahu (son of late Chhathrapathi Sambhaji) and the leadership of Balaji Vishwanath Bhat (Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy), the empire was rising and building a path to achieve Mughal free India for the Maratha generations to come. The events described in this book mainly revolves around the royal families of Maratha empire and Nizam Ul Mulk of the Mughal empire.

The story begins with Bajirao Bhat riding alongside his father,Balaji Vishwanath Bhat and some soldiers of Maratha Confederacy to Delhi for negotiating the release terms of Chhathrapathi Shahu's mother from Mughal captivity. After being beaten by Maratha Confederacy in several states of Indian sub-continent and under the weak leadership of Mughal emperor, Farrukhsiyar, the Mughals had developed the diplomatic ties with the Marathas to maintain control over their existence in India. Nizam Ul Mulk , the loyal nizam of Peacock Throne of Delhi is a sharp personnel who believes in the Mughal Empire's domination. He convinces the Emperor to demolish the Peshwa's plan to release the Queen mother of Maratha Confederacy but all his plans of assassinating the Peshwa fails and things fall against his will. Later on,with the motive to destroy Maratha Empire and to avenge for the wounds the Peshwa had caused him, the Nizam builds his army and due to an internal rebellion among the Maratha Confederacy, things fall in favor of the Nizam and then how things take turn? and how the Peshwa's son, Bajirao Bhat, comes in the picture and takes control of the leadership and deals with toughest of situations is what engages the reader to the core of the narration.

Now the things which I like about the book

1) The cover of the book is appealing and grabs attention at first glance.
2) The chapters are beautifully bifurcated and doesn't make things boring from a reader's perspective.
3) The characters are well described and never appeared to be left out throughout the narrative.
4) I found the storytelling very poised and engaging.

Now the things which I didn't like about the book

1) I found the font very small and difficult to read in some of the chapters where the text is written in italics.
2) Though the use of graphics in books is common these days but I didn't like them in this book, as the objects depicted were not of great significance.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I liked the book as it gives you a taste of history and makes you learn about some of the unheard and brave stories of the legends.

I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

A nice weekend read!

I received the copy of "The Peshwa: The Lion and the Stallion" from Writersmelon in exchange of an honest review.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Knock knock! Santa is here! :)

I came home from work quite late yesterday and found an amazon package on my bed which I didn't order. Well, there is no-one on earth who doesn't like surprises but when there is no occasion around and especially your B'day is also not near then it becomes even more exciting to open gifts. I had no idea that who sent me the package but like kids I opened it with great curiosity and glittery eyes. There was nothing mentioned on the front side of the invoice either, that who ordered it. I don't get gifts often so I thought it would be ordered by someone for one of my flat mates, also my college buddies (as sometimes we order things online on each others' name as per our availability at home). But I was wrong, totally wrong! As soon as I unpacked the package, I found this....

And somehow I knew that this gift was intended for me,not to my friends. I knew that none of my friends had the habit of sending gifts and that too a photography related gift.Ahhh! Never! To be honest, more than the gift, what I really loved about it was that it was a book and related to photography. I just cannot express how happy it made me last night, after a hectic day at office. Extremely happy! :)

Well, I searched for the sender's name inside out of the package and after spending some time, I found it on the back side of the invoice.And as soon as I read the name, it brought a big smile on my face. The sender was Jaibala a.k.a. Jai, a very experienced and lovable blogger and one of my favorites. Also, it came through Blogchatter's Secret Santa initiative, in which many of the wonderful bloggers enrolled with Blogchatter to send a gift on the occasion of Christmas to the person randomly selected by Blogchatter's algorithm (I believe). ;)

I never met Jai in person and we had only interacted thru comments on blog posts and twitter. Also, I didn't mention any preference of gift on the Blogchatter's link. And when I saw the book, it was actually a big surprise for me that how Jai figured it out on her own that I have a thing for photography. I believe, she noticed my love for photography in my blog posts during blog hopping and chose this wonderful gift for me. Well, her comments on my blog posts weighs more than any physical gifts and this book was a cherry on the cake. 

I can't thank you enough for this lovely gift, Jai (Beautiful Santa)! Hope we meet soon. And loads of love to S and you! :)

Wish you merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year in advance!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

It's not any game, it is Cricket!

India vs England | Test Series, 2012 |  Eden Gardens | Kolkata (WB)

It's been a few days since I was thinking of a topic to write on and during the first test between India and England, I got one, when I interacted with some of my friends over twitter discussing our team's performance and strategies. Well, I am not a cricket expert but I can call myself a cricket enthusiast for sure. I like cricket a lot like every other Indian. Also, in the country where cricket is being treated as a religion; everyone holds a viewpoint about our team and players. I won't say it's wrong to hold an opinion about cricket and especially about players when they fail to deliver or perform as champions. But there is a huge difference in the way we react when our team win or lose. We often see that most of the public in India builds a negative image in their mind whenever our team's performance is bad and sometimes it really hurts when we hear unpleasant things about our players from hatemongers, who know nothing about cricket.Well, its a controversial and a debatable topic any day, if properly presented on any platform. Also, I will not dig much into this as my primary motive of writing this post is to talk about just cricket not about outsiders.

Let's start with the ongoing test series between India and England. The first test resulted in a draw and all the speculations which were being made before the series that the new England side is not that strong as it was in 2012; proved everyone wrong. After drawing the series against Bangladesh, England looked a shattered side who had a big series coming up against the no. 1 test team in the world. Also, the way Indian team was performing in their backyard from past 5-6 months, the signs were ominous for the mighty Englishmen. But every speculation made just before the series came to rest when England dominated in more than 10 sessions of the game. The stakes were high for both teams and somehow India saved the match on the last day. On the other hand, England missed the chance to bag a win in their account.Now, what happened with the no. 1 test team? or was it just that the England team outclassed us? Let's try to dig in and find out what went wrong.

1) In India, it's often a saying that toss plays a major role in deciding the winner of the game. And if you've have 3 genuine spinners in the side then it becomes even more important to bowl second. Well, nobody can predict the toss results, it's just a saying which sometimes falls in favor of the winning captain and sometimes not. But it does play a part in some or the other manner! And we witnessed that in first test match (3rd session- 5th day), when Indian batting line-up stumbled against the mediocre spin attack of England team. Only Kohli and Ashwin looked a bit settled on the 5th day track.And this actually revealed few things that playing spin in spinner friendly conditions requires patience and technique.The greats of Indian cricket were magnificent players of spin bowling and this new set of energetic individuals just need to polish this trait and become the best in the business.

2) We all know that Indian team is a very good fielding unit but somehow they dropped a lot of chances in the first innings itself that made things difficult for the bowlers. They were not difficult chances and some of them were even sitters. Also, it's a very well known fact that "catches win matches" and a team just can't afford to drop catches when the batsmen are of great calibre. The same happened when India dropped around 8-9 catches in the first innings and a few in the second innings. Indian team couldn't build pressure on the English team which resulted in a massive total in the first innings.

3) India hasn't seen a better bowler after Anil Kumble who can remove the tail cheaply. Bowling to tail-enders requires a completely different set of skills and in today's cricket, no country has the fire power in their bowling line-up to crack that. Fast bowlers have forgotten the art of bowling yorkers and conventional reverse swing and the spinners have now-a-days forgotten the art of bowling flighted deliveries to intimidate the tail-enders to make mistakes. The same sort of thing happened in first test match as well. Both teams couldn't manage to get the tail removed quickly and a lot of runs were scored by the lower order batsmen.

4) Opening partnership didn't click again,which raised a concern in the batting department for upcoming matches, as already Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul are both injured and Gautam Gambhir is not looking as solid as he used to be a few years back. Hopefully, Gambhir will put a better show in next game because we all know that he's a class player when he's on song.

5) Well, this is purely my personal view that this side relies a lot on 3-4 players, who have been doing magnificently well from past 1-2 years. Batting line-up is still delivering but there are very less instances which we can count when all the batsmen clicked together in a single game. Same goes with the bowling line-up, if we're playing in India then we rely a lot on our two mainline spinners. Whereas, outside it's more or less a single man who holds the key of the spin department i.e. Ashwin. The pacers are not fixed in the line-up except Shami, who has performed brilliantly in India and outside.Also, Bhuvi has performed equally well in foreign conditions. I believe the true test of Kohli's captaincy starts now from this series where he needs to build his team and make it a true champion side to fight against the bests in the world.

I have tried to cover all the aspects of the game (from my point of view) except pitches, because it's that area which can only be assessed better by the cricket experts or players.

I would love to know about your view for the ongoing test series between India and England. So, go ahead and drop a comment with your inputs.

Thanks for stopping by and reading the post! :)

I am a Blogbuddy with BlogChatter.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

यात्री गण कृप्या ध्यान दीजिए ...

ये रेलगाड़ी की छुक-छुक करती आवाज़ ..
ये पटरियों की कपकपाहट का एहसास ...
ये स्लीपर की बोगी में सफर करता मैं आज  ..
ये जो 7 रूपए की चाय का लुत्फ उठाता पूरा समाज  ... 

ये थरथराती सी रेल का हमेशा सा मिज़ाज  ..
ये जो "यात्री गण कृप्या ध्यान दीजिए" बोलने का मधुर सा अंदाज  ...
कभी अंजानो से पॉलिटिक्स पे बहस करता मैं आज  ..
तो कभी क्रिकेट के विशेषज्ञ की भूमिका निभाता पूरा समाज  ... 

कभी समोसा खाता तो कभी चाय की चुस्की लगाता  ..
कभी ट्रेन में शॉपिंग करते दिखता  ...
तो कभी मोबाइल चार्ज करने की लाइन में लोगों से लड़ते दिखता  ..
ये सफर है बड़ा ही अनोखा जो करता हूँ मैं आज  ...
एक मुसाफिर में तनहा सा मंज़िल का इंतज़ार करता हूँ मैं आज  ...

I am a Blogbuddy with BlogChatter.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

We are Writeaholics...

Blogging is something I adore a lot! Though I wasn't an active blogger 6 months ago, things have changed now and I write and post quite often. Well, some things surely takes time to get in shape and my blogging journey got back on track with new beginnings and surprises. I wasn't active on twitter either and one day I just thought of dropping by to check my account if there was anything interesting. Luckily, I came across this amazing community named "BlogChatter". I followed them on twitter and started taking part in their Wednesday chat sessions. Slowly, I started building my blog with BlogChatter's campaigns and connected with some extraordinary like minded bloggers.

I started blogging in 2011 and used to post only poems and articles. My blog was like a diary to me earlier but in last one year it became an inspiration to do something worthy in life. Also, it has become a platform for me to make friends and connect with Intellectuals to learn from and get better to reach the pinnacle of my life's goals! And all this has not happened in just few days or thru self-efficacy; rather this has only happened because of a community i.e. BlogChatter. A community who believes in building relationships and motivates the bloggers in finding their niche. In order to achieve all this, Blogchatter conducts several campaigns from time to time.And one of those campaigns is "Blogbuddy", the flagship program of BlogChatter. This is the third season of Blogbuddy and my first as a participant. The main objective of this program is to build a tribe of small groups and make them grow together as a team. For Blogbuddy 3.0, the groups are formed in a batch of 7-8 bloggers each. I, too, am a part of 7 member team.

And till next season, seven of us are going to take on the challenge of blogging as a team.

So, let me introduce you to the members (superstars) of team #Writeaholics.

Anindya - The person behind Pikturenama! He's a senior blogger and wonderful photographer who creates magic thru his food photography. He's also a traveler and have amazing travel stories in travel section of his blog. Hope we form a great bond in this journey of Blogbuddy. Kudos! :)

Shinjini - She's one of the most versatile bloggers I have ever come across. From Art related to Tarot card reading and from Travel related blog posts to Entrepreneurship. She's everywhere! Hope I learn to manage my blog like hers and may we build this friendship stronger. Kudos! :)

Menaka - She's a wonderful person by heart and the lady behind SimpleIndianMom! If I start writing about her bio then am sure I cannot complete that in a single page. She's an Agricultural biologist, Lifestyle blogger, Parenting consultant and a big-big Organic food enthusiast. Huff! She has super powers! Please hop over to her blog and explore more about her. Kudos! :)

Dixita - She's a star in the galaxy of Blogchatter. Her positive attitude and enthusiasm are two things which I like the most. Hop over to her blog to read some amazing stories. Also, she's a very good DJ and possess excellent knowledge of old and new Bollywood songs. Kudos! :)

Anshul - He's a doctor by profession and a blogger by heart.Well, we both hail from the city of lakes i.e. Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. It's great that we both are in same team #Writeaholics. Hope we rock together and make this blogbuddy season a memorable one. Also, he's an avid reader and shares some exciting posts on his blog. So, hop over to his blog and read some amazing articles. Kudos! :)

Manisha - She's a Pharma and Healthcare consultant by profession and a blogger by passion.Her blog zarahatke is a collection of fashion & beauty tips, poetry and life experiences related posts. Her hindi poetry is really good. So, please hop over to her blog to explore more about her. Kudos! :)

I am super thrilled and excited about what's there in store for us in coming months. I'm sure, together we are going to make this Blogbuddy season a memorable one. :)

I am a Blogbuddy with Blogchatter.