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Saturday, 18 January 2020

10:11

20 Shrine Places of India

New ISKCON Chandradoy Temple of Mayapur (under construction)
1. Nabadwip-Mayapur, W.B., India
Nabadwip Samaj Bari
       Nabadwip is also called or known as 'Gupta (Secret) Vrindaban' as it is the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Mayapur-Nabadwip holy cities and Krishnanagar historic town are fun weekend getaways from Kolkata's hectic city life. Located in West Bengal's Nadia district, they are a great green pill for the eyes and fresh air for the lungs, together with flavors of tradition, spirituality, and holiness according to one's taste. Mayapur is famous to the world as the headquarters of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), but it is the birthplace of their lord to the followers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Blanked away in the commotion of West Bengal, Nabadwip-Mayapur is a cluster of nine islands on the banks of the Ganges. This place is one of those few religious shrines which have a tangible sense of devotion.  The scattered trees, orchids and winding paths that lead to small villages give you a great sense of peace. With nearly 200 temples clustered in this small rural area, Navadwipa is, in every sense of the term, God's own property. Economy, trade and pointless operation do not affect it. The spot is untouched by the waves of time and your aesthetic sense and dedication is a great treat. This land of Lord Chaitanya (reincarnation) doesn't matter what religion you believe in, will enthrall you like nothing else.
Transport & Hotels-Guesthouse
Nearest Station : Either Krishnagar or Nabadwip
Bus services available from Kolkata and Krishnagar and boat service also available at the Ganges Ghat, Ferry Ghat, Hulor Ghat
      So many hotels are available both at Nabadwip and Mayapur. Better take ISKCON Guesthouse, as widely spaced within the campus.
2. Kalighat Maa Kali Temple, Kolkata, India
Kalighat Temple, 1887
      Kalighat Mandir (temple) is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, one of 51 Shakti Peethas, in Kalighat, Kolkata, W.B., India. Kalighat was a sacred landing stage (Ghat) to Kali on the bank of the Hooghly River [the old way named Adi Ganga (Bhāgirathi)] in the town of Kolkata. It's said the name Calcutta was derived from the word Kalighat. The river has moved away from the temple over a period of time. The temple now stands on the banks of a small canal called Adi Ganga connecting to the Hooghly. The Hooghly River's initial course was the Adi Ganga.
Kalighat Temple Now
      The Kalighat temple in its present form is only around 200 years old, although it was mentioned in the 15th century composed by Mansar Bhasan and the 17th century Kavi Kankan Chandi. 
      The temple receives a huge number of devotees, especially on auspicious occasions such as Kali Puja, Poila Boishakh, Durga Puja and New Year's Day Bengali. The temple located in South Kolkata.
Transport & Opening Time
      Busses and trams from all parts of Kolkata to Kalighat are within easy reach.
Nearest metro stations: Jatin Das Park (exit north) and Kalighat (exit south).
Temple Opening Hours: 5.00 a.m. -- 14:00 p.m. And at 5 p.m. -- 22.30 p.m.
It is better to visit the temple on Wednesday or Thursday to avoid the crowd. 
3. Dakhhineswar Temple & Belur Math, W.B., India
           A temple that resides in the heart of every Bengali and is highly revered for being the sanctum sanctorum of the goddess Kali along with the resting place of one of the greatest mystics and yogis of all time, Ramkrishna Paramhansa and his consort and spiritual partner, Maa Sarada Devi. The Dakshineshwar Kali Temple was the culmination of a vision the Rani had seen before undertaking a pilgrimage to Benaras (now Varanasi), with the untiring efforts of Rani Rashmoni.
The total temple complex consists of a series of twelve mandirs dedicated to Lord Shiva, a Radha-Krishna Temple, a bathing ghat, the shrine of Rani Rashmoni, Nahavat-Khana, a chamber on the northwestern part of the complex where Ramkrishna resided along with the central Kali Temple.
the construction of the temple was initiated in the year 1847 and completed in 1855.
the total area of the Mandir complex measures about 55 bighas.
the idols were installed on the auspicious 'Snan-Yatra' day, 31st May 1855.
Visiting hours: Oct to Mar- 06:00am -- 12:30pm and 03:00pm -- 08:30pm & April to September- 06:00am -- 12:30pm and 03:00pm -- 09:00pm.
Belur Math

       Those people who are not interested in religion also come to Belur Math to experience and appreciate the peace it spreads into the environment, and ultimately into the inner soul. Belur Math founded by Swami Vivekananda, the chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. It is located on the west bank of the Hooghly River, Belur, West Bengal, India and is one of Kolkata's most important institutions. This temple is the heart of Movement Ramakrishna. The temple is noteworthy for its architecture that fuses the motifs of Christian, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist art as a sign of all religions ' unity. Belur Math railway station, which is dedicated to the name of Belurmath temple was also inaugurated in 2003. Another root is crossing the Ganges by boat from Dakhhineswar Temple Ghat.
April to September: 6:00 AM - 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM.
Oct to Mar: 6:30 AM - 11:30 AM and 3:30 PM - 6:00 PM. The time for the Sandhya Aarti is 5:30 PM. 
4. Mathura-Vrindaban, U.P., India
Chandradoy Temple
       Vrindavan is a city in Mathura district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. God Almighty Sri Krishna here reveals his lovely amusement childhood. The city is situated on the Agra-Delhi Road (2 No. National Highway), 11 km from the district of Mathura, the land of God Almighty. There are many temples of Radha and Krishna in the city of Vrindavan. It is a sacred shrine to the Vaishnava community of Hinduism. In Sanskrit, the word 'Vrindavan' comes from the words 'Vrinda' (Tulsi) and 'Ban' (forest). There are two numbers of Tulsi Ban still at 'Nidhuban' and 'Sebakunja'. 
5. Rajarppa Waterfalls & Chinnamasta Temple, Jharkhand, India     

Rajrappa Temple
        Rajrappa Waterfalls is a mesmerizing waterfall about 70 km from Jharkhand's Ranchi. The river Bhairavi or Bhera descends from a height and joins the river Damodar. The height-filled silver cascading water is a popular attraction in the area and is visited by both tourists and locals. 
         Goddess Chinnamasta Temple is a Hindu Holy place located in Rajrappa, Jharkhand district of Ramgarh. The platform draws devotees from every corner of Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. The main attraction of the Goddess Chhinnamasta temple is Devi Chinnamasta's headless deity, stands on Kamdeb's body and Rati's lotus bed. The Chhinnamasta temple is famous for the architectural design of its Tantrik style. Besides the main temple, there are ten temples of various gods and goddesses including Surya (Sun God), Hanuman and Lord Shiva.
Headless Devi, Rajrappa Temple
6. Simachalam Temple, Vizag, India

     Situated in the town of Vishakhapatnam, the Simhachalam temple is an ornate shrine which is considered to be one of the famous temple in the region. The edifice is perched atop a hill 800 meters above sea level and is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, who is an incarnation of Vishnu himself. Simhachalam Temple is embellished with extremely detailed stone carvings and designs and can be spotted from a distance.
        Ironically, on Akshaya Tritiya's day, the deity's statue appears in its true form only for 12 hours per year. The idol is coated with a sandalwood paste on any other occasion. Because of its rich history and strong traditional values, Simhachalam Temple has been a source of inspiration for many poets such as Kuchimanchi Timma Kavi, Adidam Sura Kavi and the like.
Visit Time: 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Transport
     Regular buses travel to and from the temple of Simhachalam and are easy and inexpensive ways to reach this destination. From Vizag (Waltair) Railway Station, can visit Simhachalam by bus number 6A, or take bus number 55 and 40, respectively, from Gajuwaka and Dwarka Bus Stand. You can also rent a taxi to drop you off at the temple.

7. Chardham: Kedarnath-Badrinath-Gangotri-Yamunotri

8. Venkateswara Temple (Tirupati Balaji), A.P., India

             That is known to be the world's richest lord. Located in Andhra Pradesh, this temple is dedicated to an avatar of Lord Vishnu form. Temples are always filled with locals and tourists. This place is visited every year by many pilgrims from different parts of the world during the Brahmotsavam festival. Lord Venkateswara Temple at Tirumala (Tirupati) is one of India's most celebrated temples. It is one of the most-visited holy places and also one of the richest temples in the world, with more than 40 million pilgrims visiting the temple each year. Located on Venkata Hill, a part of the famous Seshachalam Hills, Tirupati Temple is considered by the Hindus to be one of the holiest shrines. Lord Vishnu, according to a legend, took on the form of Sri Venkateswara to save mankind from Kali Yuga's adversities.
Starting from 300 AD, the Tirupati Temple was built over a period of time. 
Visit Time :
Weekends, National Holidays and Festivals       8:30 AM - 8:30 PM
Weekdays         :   8:30 AM - 12:30 PM & 4:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Nitya Aaradhna :   9:30 AM - 10:00 AM & 6:00 PM - 6:30 PM
9. Sabarimala Temple, Kerala, India
      This is the golden roofed mandir. This temple is situated in Kerala and is said to have the largest number of visitors per year. It is situated in Sabari Hills and not everybody can visit the temple. Those who take up a 48-day ritual can enter this temple only, and this temple can not be visited by a female older than 10 years. The Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple, situated in  Pathanamthitta's forest, is a shrine on the hill. The temple stands at an altitude of 470 m (1540 ft) above sea level on a hilltop and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. Vehicles to Sabarimala are only allowed up to Pamba at a distance of 5 kilometers from the temple. Visitors have to move on foot from here.
Best Time to Visit :
     During the months of November to February and April to September Sabarimala witnessed a maximum number of visitors, hopefully making it the best time to visit the holy shrine.
10. Harmandir Sahib (Golden) Temple, Amritsar
      It is called also Golden Temple, as well. It is one of the country's significant historical monuments. It is a Sikh religious place. Here in this temple, more than a thousand people are fed without regard to which religion they follow. In India, this is a must-watch spot. The temple is located in the middle of a beautiful lake. This golden temple is situated in Amritsar, and during Vaisakhi, an important Punjabis festival is the best time to visit the temple.
         One of India's most holy places, Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, is Sikhism's holiest shrines and is alive with religious fervor and sacredness. Their divinity is something that can only be felt and not defined. It was restored solely with marble and gold by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1830 after passing through a tumultuous period of demolitions. It is the vision of the glittering temple, gleaming in the middle of the pool, offering endless calmness. It is situated right in the heart of Amritsar and is easily accessible from any part of town.
11. Moinuddin Chishti, Ajmer Sharif, Rajasthan
     Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is a Sufi, in Ajmer. Visited by people of all religions, this dargah is considered one of many tourist attractions reflecting Muslim culture. There are not only Dargarh but many reasons to visit Ajmer.
     Surrounded by the ranges of Aravali, the town of Ajmer is best known for its Dargah Sharif of St. Muin-ud-din Chishti. Located 135 km from Jaipur and 15 kms from Rajasthan's Pushkar, Ajmer is strongly bound by its traditions and culture. Ajmer has a unique charm in the ethos and craftsmanship that has been studied for centuries. Visit Ajmer to see the exquisite architecture of Mughal set within an atmosphere of spirituality.
12. Pushkar Brahma Temple, Rajasthan
      Pushkar, a small temple town, is located in Rajasthan at about 17 km from Ajmer. Pushkar is hosting the Pushkar Mela, one of the country's largest camel fairs, every November. The perfect option for a weekend getaway from Jaipur, Pushkar is situated between the ranges of Aravali. Known for the only Brahma temple dedicated to the world, Pushkar is mainly a Hindus pilgrimage site.
    The Mela Pushkar draws millions of visitors from around the world. The entire city is filled with folk dances, rides, stalls, and even magic shows, music blares from every house and everyone is in a festive mood. Pushkar grew gradually from a religious destination to a multi-cultural hotspot for worldwide travelers.
13. Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Maharashtra 
        Great Saint Sai Baba's home, Shirdi is a religious site near Nasik with different temples apart from the famous temple of Sai Baba and a few historical sites.

          Located in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district, Shirdi has a wide significance as a holy and pilgrim place for devotees of Sai Baba. The small town is full of religious spots and activities that will soothe your visiting soul and calm it down. The air here holds residual chants of spirituality and all the grandness about the same will leave you spellbound too. There are many places of religion to see in Shirdi such as Chavadi, Samadhi Mandir, Dwarkamai Masjid, Shani Shignapur, to name a few.
14. Puri, Odisha
       Puri in Odisha is one of Hindus' four must-visit pilgrimage sites owing to Jagannath Temple, which forms part of Char Dham in India. Puri is a beach town on the Bay of Bengal coast which is one of West Bengal's favorites for a short trip.
Jagannath Temple
     Because of the legalization of Bhang, having gained popularity among hippies back in the 1970s, Puri is still a popular destination among backpackers, but bhang availability is now minimal. With plenty of hotels and homes, local tourists like staying close to the New Marine Drive and backpackers prefer staying close to Chakra Tirtha.
        If you plan to visit during this time, you should not skip the Rath Yatra (chariot festival) that takes place during the month of June-July. Close Puri there are many places to visit, such as Chilika Lake, Puri Beach, Gundicha Ghar, and very famous Konark's Sun Temple. Puri soon became an industrial hub with major manufacturing companies coming here.
Puri Sea Beach
15. KanyaKumari, Tamil Nadu
         Kanyakumari is a coastal town in the state of Tamil Nadu situated at the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. Renowned for being the only place in India where you can see the sunrise and sunset at the same beach, Kanyakumari is a very popular tourist destination, not only because of this unusual geographical phenomenon but also because of its pristine beaches and temples and churches that draw a large number of tourists to this city throughout the year.
      One of the city's most iconic monuments, the Vivekananda Rock Memorial is a gigantic structure surrounded by the Laccadive Sea on all sides, so the only way to get to the monument is by taking a boat/ferry ride. The Vivekananda Rock Memorial was built by the Ramakrishna Mission and is dedicated to the great philosopher Swami Vivekananda who used to meditate here.
16. Marutirtha Hinglaj Mata Mandir, Baluchistan
         It is one of the Maa Sati's 51 Peethas. Hingol Located along the banks of the river Hingol, in the town of Hinglaj, in the province of Balochistan, Pakistan, is Hinglaj Mata Mandir. Sometimes named Hinglaj Devi or Nani mandir or Hingula Devi. The steep trek to the rim of Chandergup is the first ritual of the Mata Hinglaj Yatra, the world's holiest Hindu pilgrimage. After descending from the volcano, the pilgrims will proceed to the main Hinglaj temple in the foothills of the Kirthar mountains about 35 km away, with their faces plastered by their holy mud.
        The annual pilgrimage takes place in Hingol every April about 250 km west of Karachi, where the majority of people come from. But in fact, most of them started out at Tharparkar.

17. Ram Mandir, Ayodhya, U.P.
Details: Ram Mandir

18. Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam                                     Kamakhya Temple is one of the most revered shrines of Goddess Shakti in India, situated on the Nilanchal Hill in the western part of Guwahati in Assam. According to the Hindu scriptures, there are four important Shakti Peethas (Temples with the highest divinity powers) in the country and one of them is the Kamakhya Temple. Kamakhya Temple celebrates the woman's power to give birth and is considered by Hinduism's Tantrik sect followers to be particularly auspicious. It was designed and restored numerous times between the 8th and 17th centuries and is in itself a spectacle.       The main entrance to the Kamakhya Temple is beautifully designed with simple yet elegant carvings adorned with colorful flowers. The temple has a wide dome in the backdrop that overlooks the quaint Nilanchal Hills. During the Ambubachi Festival and fare, held for 3-4 days in the month of June, it is particularly decked up.
Time to Visit: 5:30 a.m.-Pithasthana Snan, 6:00 a.m. — Pujapath, 8:00 a.m. — Temple door open to devotees, 1:00 p.m. — Temple door closed to the goddess for food offerings.
Transport: Kamakhya Temple lies on the Nilachal Hills. You can rent a car from any part of Guwahati to rickshaw or taxi. Assam Tourism Department regular buses also ply to and from the temple from different parts of the city.
19. Dwaraka, Gujrat
        Located on the western tip of the Saurashtra peninsula in Gujarat, Dwarka is popularly known as "the birthplace of Lord Krishna". Literally, the name Dwarka translates into dwar meaning ' door' and ka meaning 'moksha' i.e., the path to salvation.' And so the holy town's aura reverberates with the devotees seeking moksha's divine holiness and chants. Dwarka boasts of being the only town mentioned in the Hindu religion to be part of both Char Dham (four main holy places) and Sapta Puris (seven holy towns).

      History has it that the settlement was once swallowed up by the sea and recent excavations show that a town once existed here. Dwarka can offer you Gujarat's holiest and most spiritual bit. The temples here have a rich culture and meaning as the legends, mythology, and beliefs that surround them. They are also architectural marvels and gems since they are of Hindu mythology. Your serene temple experience and the town's spiritual spirit will be complemented only by the beaches that the city has to offer.
Time to Visit:
         The best time to visit Dwarka is when the city experiences cold winters from November to the last of February. Nonetheless, if you explicitly want to participate in the festivities of the grandly celebrated Janmashtami Festival of Dwarka, it will be eventful to visit the town during August and September.
20. Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai
      The Siddhivinayak Temple in the Prabhadevi district is a revered shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha, and one of Mumbai's most famous and frequented temples. Laxman Vithu and Deubai Patil founded the temple in the year 1801. The couple had no children of their own and decided to build the temple of Siddhivinayak to satisfy the desires of other infertile women. Interestingly, it is believed that Lord Ganesha's statue here is self-manifested and bestows wishes.

       The Temple has a small sanctum that houses Shri Ganesha's idol, which is about two and a half feet wide and is made of a single piece of black stone. The temple has acquired a legendary status not only because the Ganesha is believed to be highly revered in the temple, but also because of its popularity with Film stars and industry bigwigs. It is also Mumbai's richest temple, as it begets INR 100 million in donations from devotees worldwide each year.
Time to Visit :
Morning Prayer — 5:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Shree Darshan — 6:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Naivedhya — 12:15 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. Shree Darshan — 12:30 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. Sandhya Aarti — 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Shree Darshan — 8:00 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. Aarti before the closing of the temple — 9:50 p.m.
Bus service available from Dadar, Central, Western

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

10:19

Disappearance of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu


Difference between Avatar and Avatori          
        At first, try to understand the difference between Avatar (incarnation) and Avatori (self-incarnation). When someone comes (not in full-form) as a part of God himself, He is called an Avatar or an Angel of God (such as real Saint, Sage, Monk, etc.). But when God Himself comes into a full form on earth, He is called Avatori. Such as Sree Hari, Sree Ram, Sree Krishna.......
       We all know Mahaprabhu as a self-incarnation. Because he is the combined body of Radha-Krishna. This proof is found in the Chaitanya Bhagavat & Chaitanya Charitamrita. Some examples --

  1. Vision with the six hands of the Lord, rescued of Jagai & Madhai, leprosy attacked of Chapal Gopal (Adileela 17th Chapter, Chaitanya Charitamrita).
  2. Describe madness and delusion of the love for God (Madhyaleela 2nd Chapter, Chaitanya Charitamrita).
  3. On the way to Vrindavan, Mahaprabhu danced with animals (tigers, elephants, deer, birds) in the forest with the name of Lord Krishna (Madhyaleela 17th Chapter, Chaitanya Charitamrita).
  4. Is it possible for anyone to rescue the missing Vrindavan except Himself ? etc. etc.

Disappearance 
         His last disappearance was one of the most mysterious events of Sri Chaitanyadeb's life. Mahaprabhu was one of the unique creatures of the Vaisnava movement of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. How he suddenly disappeared is still deeply mysterious today. This is a deep and extensive inquiry. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, in the context of the deity of Mahaprabhu, 'in fourteen hundred fifty-five, Mahaprabhu was disappeared' (Adileela, Chapter-13, Chaitanya Charitamrita), has been relieved of this. He did not spend another word on 'how disappeared?' when and where. Vrindavan Das Goswami also remained completely silent in the mystery of Sri Chaitanya's disappearance. Theorists have said different kinds of contradictions in the matter. According to some, the incarnation of God was Sri Chaitanya. Unlike ordinary people, death cannot happen to him. Someone said that he disappeared in Jagannath Vigrah in the temple of Puri. According to someone, he jumped into the sea and disappeared.  Again according to someone, septicemia from the foot injury, there are so many articles that have been already witten. So nothing to discuss more.
       Now, In such a self-incarnation (Avatori), the word 'murder' makes it very painful for any real devotee. On one side we all worship Him as God Himself, on the other hand, God has been killed and has accepted this matter. So ridiculous. In straight forward, those who are real devotee, can't believe that the theory of murder by Panda or who believe this theory is not a devotee, just an inquisitive guy. We are all like so so small insects in front of God's almighty power, there is one universe in each hair follicle.
     If He can be seen by reading Gita regularly, if he can be realized by reading Chaitanya Charitamrita, then if we ask him about his disappearance, will not He tell us? 






Tuesday, 14 January 2020

08:02

Auli, Uttarakhand

Blue Snow Land Auli
         

       From Joshimath, Auli's distance by the road close to around 13 km. The longest ropeway in India, however, can be reached through a spectacular 4.5 km exciting way, which is almost 10200 feet high in the land of unspoiled beauty, i.e. August. 
      There's no dearth of natural beauty dotted with apple orchards, old oaks, and pine trees in Auli. You can also go on numerous treks in the hills of the Garhwal Himalayas including hiking, and enjoy the spellbinding views of the snow-draped mountains. Auli is a popular hill resort of the Himalayas dating from the eighth century AD.
         Thanks to its glittering slopes and clean environment, Auli is a popular ski destination in India. Auli is a popular hill town with numerous ski resorts located in the middle of the Himalayan range, with apple orchards, oaks, and deodars. Nanda Devi, Mana Parvat and Kamat Kamet, Nilgiri, Palki, etc peaks of Himalayas are like in our hand distance from Auli.

        If you're looking for a frozen adventure in this winter's Garhwal Himalayas lap, then feel alive in Auli! Auli, Uttarakhand, is celebrated for its meadows (Regional language Bugyal) and prestigious ski slopes. Located in the Garhwal district of Chamoli, this hotel is set at an altitude of around 3050 m. Here you can enjoy a day full of fun activities including skiing, snow sliding, chair lifting and more! You can savor a hot cuppa on the lakeside with a 360-degree view of the Himalayas once you're done with the activities! The resort's very popular Nanda Devi Peak is very visible and makes for a breathtaking landscape!
Time to Visit
Auli Lake
       Auli is a destination year-round but winter turns it into a fairytale destination that no one wants to miss. The weather in Auli remains cool all year round and the temperature does not cross 18-20 dgr centigrade. Expect the temperature to drop to -4 to -8 dgr Celsius during the winter season. The season begins in November and begins to receive rainfall and ends in February. This is the best time to indulge in skiing during the season as the magic unfolds in those months of the year.


How to Reach
        To reach Auli is in itself quite an adventure. Due to the snow and the mountains, the area has no motor access. Jolly Grant at Dehradun is the nearest airport, while Haridwar and Dehradun are the nearest railheads. Joshimath is 280 kilometers from Haridwar. Joshimath is the base on which to reach Auli. From Haridwar Railway Station, you can either take a bus (Rs. 300/350 per person), or a shared cab (Rs. 500-600). These services are available from 4 am until 7 am and after that, there is no bus. For four people a private hired taxi from Haridwar costs Rs. 6,000/-.
     Auli has two different ropeway rides— the (longest) Joshimath-Auli Gondola and the chair car ride from GMNV to Auli (800 m). The gondola rides are closed boxes with glass windows whereas the chair car at your office reception is an airborne stack of chairs. Can you just imagine the thrill? Try those chairs and the valley's 270-degree view will kill all the fears of height and landlessness.
     There's a third ropeway as well - the ski lifts. These are only available for advanced skiing and are used to pick up the skiers from the hills below. The panoramic views in Auli in December will convince you this is one of the best things to do.

Ski Point Station, Auli







Monday, 13 January 2020

09:14

Munsiyari, Uttarakhand, India

Way to Munsiyari
     In the Kumaun region of Uttarakhand, various Himalayan peaks are seen almost everywhere. But life will be blessed if you can see at the time of sunset, the sun-shining Panchachuli in the cloud-free sky from Munsiyari. Munsiyari is called the Kingdom of the Trekkers. Also known as "Little Kashmir," Munsiyari is an amazing location in Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district. The beautiful little hill town is known for its snow-capped Himalayan Range panorama and some adventurous trekking trails, at an altitude of 2300 mtrs. Munsiyari is a base for three glaciers, namely Namik, Milam and Ralam Glaciers, perched between the borders of India, Tibet, and Nepal.
       Nestled deep in the remote corner of Uttarakhand, Munsiyari on Panchchulli Peaks is well known for its quaintness at the time of sunset & sunrise. So if you want to see a golden Himalayan sunrise or sunset sitting on your hotel balcony, you can pack your bags and plan a trip to Munsiyari. Likewise, if you're on trekking, hiking or camping, the beauty of this beautiful scenario in Kumaon will impress everyone.
Location
         Located in the Uttarakhand district of Pithoragarh, Munsiyari height is approximately 7,590 feet or 2300 metres. The best part about this offbeat location is the views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks in Uttarakhand. It falls on Tibet's ancient trade route and also acts as the gateway to the Johar Valley.
Weather 
        The Munsiyari weather is mostly charming all year. The summer months are a delight while the seasons of Spring and Fall offer cool mornings and evenings. Munsiyari sees snowfall in winter. At Kalimuni top, the road is also sometimes closed due to the presence of snow. Munsiyari, therefore, has a special mention in our list of places in Uttarakhand to experience snowfall during winter.
       Yet overall the temperature of Munsiyari is very good and a pleasant to the senses. Expect an average of 20 dgr Celcius during the summer season and reach about -5 to 8 dgr Celsius during the coldest winter months.
Time to Visit
        One can visit Munsiyari at any time of the year. But again it depends on what backdrop you want to experience and the season. Tourists come mostly from March through April. Rhododendron flowers along with pleasant weather and busy streets can be observed during these months. Since the weather is clear, it's not a problem to reach during these months and the view of distant peaks is also clear.
       However, if you want to experience snow and see the long stretches of white all over the place, the best time to visit Munsiyari is November through February. Therefore the best time to visit Munsiyari is from September to June at any time.
Distance and Transport
       550 km away from Delhi (Share Jeep or Private car or by Bus). Munsiyari's nearest airport is Pantnagar Airport, which is located in Uttarakhand's Nainital region. The distance from Pantnagar to Munsiyari is roughly 320 km. Munsiyari's nearest Rail Station is Kathgodam, located 280 km away. Two trains run daily from Delhi to Kathgodam, as this is a gateway for the Kumaon area. Booking your train seats well in advance is advisable, as the train fills quickly.
Sight Scenes 
Panchachulli
    Panchachuli Peaks Mythology:' Chuli' in the term Panchachuli means Chulah, or heartbeats for cooking. Some say the last meal cooked by Mahabharata's Pandavas was in Munsiyari before they left for heaven. Thus the five mighty peaks were given the name Panchachuli.
      Visible from all over Munsiyari are those peaks. One can also see the beautiful sunrise just behind those peaks as the sun rises. In addition, if you're lucky, you can also see the moonrise just behind those peaks right after the sunset.
Birthi Waterfalls 
     This Birthi waterfall near Munsiyari lies towards Chaukori, about 30 km away. This location can easily be trekked to. It lies amidst the forest area, and the ideal time to visit this place is from September to 2nd week of July. When the Monsoon time ends in July-August, the Birthi waterfall flows more than in the other months.
     Birthi Falls, falling from 126 m high, provides an incredibly refreshing experience. It makes for an ideal place to sit and enjoy tea and lunch with lush green surroundings blooming in different colours.


Nanda Devi Temple
      Nanda Devi Munsiyari is the base camp for getting to the temple of Nanda Devi. After 3 km of trekking from Munsiyari's main market itself, this temple can be reached.
Nanda Devi Temple
       The culture of Kumaun, almost always relates to Gods everything monumental in the city. There is a large tradition of worshipping the god, and the number of those deities can be dizzying. But all the myths and legends make up a plausible and unforgettable tale to take back with you. This dates back to 1000 years and is well preserved, obviously. The Nanda Devi Fair, which began in the 16th century, continues here, and falls every August, to the delight of all lovers of lesser-known mythologies.
Khaliya Top, Munsiyari (Pic. credited to tripadvisor.in)

Friday, 10 January 2020

07:29

Sandakphu Tour

Sleeping Buddha from Sandakphu
         Sandakphu, West Bengal, India (nearly 11,940 ft high) is Singalila Range's highest peak and Phalut is the second highest peak with an altitude of about 11,800 ft. For the spectacular views of the snowy peaks the main reasons why most people visit the two places and live there are. The amazing scenario gets to see four of the world's top five peaks including Mt. Everest, Makalu, Kanchenjunga, and Lhotse. Also see so many other spectacular peaks of (including) Sikkim, Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. 
Rhododendron
       And if you can make the right time you'll see a range of flowers and flowering plants such as the Rhododendrons, giant magnolias, and orchids. In this area itself, about 600 varieties of orchids can be found. 
      Sandakphu (West Bengal, India) is about 29 km from Manebhanjan. On the way, Chitrey, Meghma, Tonglu, Tumling,  Gairibas, Kalipokhri - such beautiful places to enjoy and can stay anywhere. Again, Landrover is going to Sandakfu-Phalut from Manebhanjan directly but not possible directly from NGP or Bagdogra. 
Best time to visit Sandakphu & Phalut 

       Visiting Sandakphu and Phalut are two great seasons. The first one is April until May, temperature ranges from 6-12°C and full blooming flowers including rhododendrons and orchids. And the second one after the monsoon i.e. temperature ranges from 1-6°C between October and early December and the snowy peaks appear in a clear blue sky with their sparkling glory.
How to Go
Manebhanjan Villege
        Reach Sukhiapokhri or Manebhanjan by a reserved Car, Share jeep from New Jalpaiguri or Siliguri or first reach at Darjeeling and from there directly to Sukhiapokhri or Manebhanjan by a reserved Car or Share jeep. First get off at Manebhanjan [1.30 hr by car or jeep from Darjeeling (40km), about 4 hours from Bagdogra / NJP (105km)]. This is the place where the Sandakphu-Phalut journey actually starts. Only NJP (Siliguri) and Bagdogra can get a reserved car. Nevertheless, sometimes they may not agree to go all the way up to Manebhanjan directly in which case may take one up to Mirik and then another up to Manebhanjan.
     The route is from Manebhanjan through Chitre, Lamay Dhura, Meghma, Tumling, Singalila National Park, Gairibas, Kalipokhri, Bikhebhanjan and then Sandakphu & finally further onward to Phalut.
Trekking Route
First Day (Manebhanjan to Tonglu)
Chitre
Distance : 11 km, Time : 5-6 hours  
        Get to Manebhanjan (2150 m) in the early morning to start your trek in time. It is a tiny hamlet about 40 km from Darjeeling, roughly an hour and a half drive away. The village is primarily populated by the Tribe of Buddhist Sherpa. Be sure to grab some breakfast before beginning the trek. Your first-day destination is Tonglu (3,070 m), located 11 km from the village and will take about 5-6 hours of trekking to get there. The trail, at first, is a beautiful one, consisting of glides of fir, birch, pine and bamboo leading to another Buddhist settlement namely Chitre (2450 m). A steep climb then reaches a small Meghma village (2900m). 
Meghma Villege
         Rest here for a while, have lunch, connect with the villagers and resume trekking. From here you can either take a road to Tonglu or to Tumling (2980m) and finally, both routes meet again at Tumling. A 2 km walk will take you to Tonglu, which provides a magnificent view of the Himalayan Mountains, while a stop at Tumling will give you the opportunity to see the clear sky twinkling with stars and gleaming lights of Darjeeling, Pashupati, and Siliguri. You will have both lodging options: tents and a stay at home.
Tumling during Winter

Second Day (Tonglu to Kalipokhri)
Distance : 9km, Time : 2.30-3 hrs
      Early wake up to the amazing the first rays of sun peeking from behind the Himalayan range offering a magical view. After breakfast, descend the hill towards Garibas (2625m), a tiny hamlet located 9-10 km from Tonglu that will take you around 3-3.5 hours to reach. After passing a few quaint hamlets while on the road, seeing their simple lifestyle, modest farmland and several bamboo glades. Take a break at Garibas for lunch and continue to climb up the hill to Kalipokhari (3178 m). It will take you 3.5 hours to reach the place. The way is magnificent during springtime when the forest is blooming with rhododendrons. It will experience a small dark-colored pong or Black Pond as it is named in the middle of pine trees and colored flags of prayer when arriving at the site Kalipokhri.
Kalipokhri
Third day (Kalipokhri to Sandakphu)
Distance : 4km, Time : 2-3 hours
Sandakphu
        Enjoy the morning hues, and get ready for another wonderful day of trekking. It'll be going to Sandakphu today, the best part of this Singalila Trekking path often referred to as a trekkers' paradise. Start early in the morning, and go down the ridge to Bikhebhanjan or Poison Valley. A steep 4 km climb from here will take you to Sandakphu. The climb is far too steep, indeed one of the steepest of all the Singalila treks, to hurt the knee joints but in the end it is equally rewarding. The trail leads you through a thick cover of forest magnolia and rhododendron that will take about 2-3 hours to cross and arrive at Sandakphu (Height of Poison Plant ). When you reach the summit, a panoramic view of the entire Himalayan belt will leave you in utter disbelief.
Land Rover
Route By Land Rover
     The road from Manebhanjan all the way up to Gairibas has been converted into a concrete road (Manebhanjan to Chitre, and earlier Tumling to Gairibas). So this is a smooth ride up to Gairibas (i.e. about 18kms). The road to Sandakphu and to Phalut beyond is still a bouldering path. It now takes just about 2.5 hours for Manebhanjan to reach Sandakphu. 

    Most tourists stay for a night or two in Sandakphu and then proceed to Phalut, which is about 25kms away from Sandakphu and takes about 2 hours. The terrain between Phalut and Sandakphu is rather flat. But the vehicle still needs to move fairly slowly due to the narrow and rough lane.
Phalut
Vehicles & Transport Fare
(According to the year of 2019)
      After reaching Manebhanjan, a small booth in the main market area where you will be booking the Land Rover. In default, the vehicles are reserved, and you need to pay and jump into one (there is no advance booking system). Now at Manebhanjan (called the Singalila Land Rover Association), a Land Rover Association has been formed and the rates are fixed by the association. So you don't need to think about haggling with the drivers or negotiating.
The fares and rates below are indicative. 
•  NJP/Bagdogra to Manebhanjan: Rs. 2,500-3,000/- for a reserved small car. 
•  Darjeeling to Manebhanjan: Shared Jeep fare- Rs. 50-60/- per person; Reserved small car fare - Rs. 1,500/- 
•  Land Rover Fare Manebhanjan to Tumling (round trip): Rs. 2,500-3000/- + Night stay Cost 
•  Land Rover Fare Manebhanjan to Sandakphu (up-down): Rs. 5,500-6000/- + Night stay Cost 
•  Land Rover Fare Manebhanjan to Phalut (round trip): Rs. 8,000-9,000 + Night stay Cost 
•  Night Halt Charge for Land Rover: Rs. 1,200-1,400 per night 

•  Park entry fee: Rs. 100/- per person entry fee for the park (Rs.200/day for foreigners) 

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