Tarun and Yogita's Travel Blog

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Location: New Delhi, India

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Friday, December 15, 2006

A trip to real paradise on earth

... Himachal Pradesh (HP).
We might have been a little late to visit Himachal, late November, yet we liked the biting cold after scorching heat of Rajasthan. The mersmerising beauty of the formidable Himalayas and small colorful homes built anywhere amongst those is a surely a tempting invitation for anyone.

Shimla: There is something really attractive about Shimla. Either it is the immaculate Mall and the Ridge or numerous people just sitting on the ridge enjoying the day's sunshine before taking off for work or the bright houses of Shimla or even the very steep uphill climb from the main road up to the Mall. Shimla has its charm and we were bought by it.

Tattapani: the place where hot sulphurous springs emerge from the river Sutlej. We stayed at Hotel Spring View that is right besides the beautiful river and offers some amazing Italian food. The hotel will be soon uprooted in the wake of a dam construction on the river. But we hope that the hot springs still remain. Worth a visit is a cave of Lord Shiva, about 5 kms from Tattapani. We just walked to it as we never wanted to miss even a single glimpse of this heavenly place.

Kinnaur: No words can describe this place's beauty, it is just breathtaking. Right in the middle of the Great Himalayas, whose majesty humbles you down, we were at about 2700m above sea level. Even though the cold was nerve chilling and a drive to kinnaur bone-rattling, we truly enjoyed our trip to this gem of the tribal circuit of HP. We were in Kalpa, 7 km from Reckong Peo, a small village where life is slow and fulfilling and people revere Dalai Lama a lot. The small stone roofed huts of Kalpa do stand well against the mighty Kinner Kailash. Mount Kinner Kailash is said to change 7 colors in a day and we also got our share of some wonderful glimpses. We stayed at the HPTDC Hotel Kinner Kailash that offered the best view of the Kinner Kailash and some great service.

We would like to complete our trip of the tribal circuit, especially the Spiti Valley for which Rudyard Kipling said "where gods live".

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

What else in Rajasthan?

certainly not to be missed, Udaipur, the Venice of India. And try staying at a modest guest house and you may never know you might be taking care of the baby in the host family or become friends with the friends of your host family. And while you are in Udaipur and have done whatever many guide books say don't miss the 7 pm dance show at the Bagore ki Haveli.

In a small program they introduce you to the exuberance and the joy for life every Rajasthani female has in abundance. The hardships of a life in desert are a nonentity when they sway with the tunes of the vibrant Rajasthani folk music. And watch the program till the end as it ends in an exotic, courageous and a tremendously poised dance by a female who can sway her whole body in motions, even when she's on top of broken glass and not drops even one of the nine pots she is balancing on her head.

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A dream fort, an 850 years old legacy, a little world inside the fort, exquisite golden sandstone carvings and jaisalmeri natives who speak french , the golden city of Jaisalmer is there to spellbind you. Inside the fort it is an entire city that sees all of its days and nights inside the fort when the tourist season is in. The fort has truly discovered tourism where musicians and folk artists display their talents and the main cuisine available apart from Indian is Italian. Services are not expensive due to competition and there are plenty of options. Persuasive sellers are still there but we found our experience there to be pleasant.

The temples and palaces of the fort are charming while the narrow lanes passing through are a riot of colors and the traditional art on display quintessential (at least at the face of it :)). I find Rajasthani art to be delicate and attractive and all of it is there for us to make our own. We particularly like the Jain temple inside the fort for its breathtaking art.

Beauty of this city is the golden sandstone that is used to make havelis and modest house alike and is left unpainted by the residents understanding the charm of its majestic color. Some may and will always differ but Jaisalmer is relatively cleaner and less noisy than all the cities of Rajasthan.

Worth a visit is the Desert Cultural Center, next to tourist reception center, a single man's effort to preserve the traditional art of puppeteering. The uppet show in the evening brings you face-to-face with this dexterous work of hands and a melange of folk music and songs.

The lack of water and so the vegetation can certainly not be mistaken for the lack of life. The vibrant colors of turbans and chunris contrasting again the desert gold (the sand) is a sheer joy to watch.