A Travellerspoint blog

June 2015

Tikku's Travelthon- Seven Wonders

seven wonders of my travels

Tikku’s Travelthon - My Seven Wonder’s

The Taj Mahal in Agra must top that list of mine . I drove across the Jaipur express highway with my cousin starting four in the morning . We were in Agra in two hours , we drove into the Oberoi’s Amravali for breakfast and a early morning swim .After breakfast we headed towards the Taj . Following the sign we finally reached the monument which has enthralled lovers all over the world . Taj shines and shimmers like a beacon it’s white marble glow’s in the sun and one can see persian scripture being carved in the walls.It has been well maintained with regular cleaning and scrubbing which goes on through out the day .The tall minarets stand like beacons as the huge darwaza threatens to engulf all with it’s awesome size . The domb of the Taj stands tall as if to say it can last for centuries . I just feasted my eyes on it’s perfect beauty and how it’s image was captured by the waters below.Right in the middle lie’s the grave go Mumtaz for whom it was built by Shah Jahan .

The Reefs of Hulu male in Maldives were another of my favourites. I fell in love with them and with scuba diving . I took a dozen dives 30 meters under the sea to explore its’ wonder . I jumped and sat on top od the aqua marine plants and played with a gang of colourful orange fishes

Cruise around the famous Hanoi Bay was also a highlight . We reached our ship early in the morning and were welcomed on the deck with wine and cheese . The deck was the best area to get a glimpse of the bay which was full of small boat’s and steamers . I still remember buying a packet of Pringles chips from a boat shop in the bay .Guests were seved special dinner and were given a demonstration of Vitnamese cooking too. Next morning was a uphill trek to the caves that are part of the bay and we explored their various forms and marvelled at their natural splendour.

The killing fields of Cambodia with it’s chilling history about the kill’s that took place during the years of the dictator Paul Pot stands as a reminder to us that act’s like these should never be tolerated by a civilised society . I walked around the mass graves which have given way to green fields. I listened to the commentary of the fields as i took a guided tour of the place .

The Volcano Kintamani near the town of Ubud is another sight .With a splendid open lake on it’s side it stands tall and still .Not active at this time it is a great reminder of the rumblings within the earth’s crust . Fruit’s and juices being sold as tourists capture the scenic beauty of this natural wonder.

The temples of Bali including the Pullahulur Aluwati temple are ancient and vedic in design . With statues of Indra , Brahma and goddesses parvati . They give a glimpse of another form of Hinduism praciced in Indonesia . All with their own holy water spring akin to the one i saw in Badrinath in India during my Chaar Dham Yatra. I bated in the holy spring and spoke to a oriental soothsayer a wis man who told me to work hard and never loose sight of my goal.

Lastly was my Visit to Amarnath the tomb of Baba Barfani the abode of shiv where i got the glimse of the icy shiv ling . Having reached here by helicopter and a two hour trek on mountain ponds . I bated in the icy waters of the glacier and rested the night in a tent between warm quilts . At the mercy of my tentwala . Amarnath was my best spiritual yatra in India.

Posted by Anuj Tikku 16:19 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Kashmir Where Jesus came to die

Kashmir

Kashmir - Where Jesus Came To Die

It’s called the crown of India . A valley so beautiful and so abundant with the gifts of nature that it is compared to heaven’s . Mughals made it their summer capital and so did the British who followed . From the gardens of Chashme Shahi to the shikara’s of the Dull Lake . They city grow’s on you . The tradition of the hot tea which is called the Kehwa and the mughal cuisine , the city is laid back and a friendly one . It has been a bone of contention between Pakistan and India for decades and one can see why . The markets are full go kashmiri Shawl’s and rug’s as one drifts through Lal Chowk the main bazaar of Srinagar the capital of the city . I enjoyed the dinners at Adoo’s , my favourite food joint for authentic Kashmiri Cusine . I tasted the Rista , Gushtaba and Tabbak Mans here and smoked perfumed hokka at the house boat where we stayed on the dull lake .

The whiff of Kashmiri charas filled the evening with it’s misty odour. I sat on a shikara the whole day once contemplating and soaking in the beauty of the valley , it’s colour ful people and hills. On the lake i floated into markets selling perfume , tea , herbs , cloak’s and shawls . I choose to buy some shill jeet , it is black paste and is a great aphrodisiac. They sia that Jeus came to the valley during his last days and died here . He was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the valley that he just stayed back . Srinagar is full of water fountain’s that keep the city cool in summers , the temple of Shankracharya and the Shrine of Hazrat Bal are the main religious attraction . One has to climb up a steep flight of stairs to reach the shankracharya temple . Once their we pray to the linga of shiva . A panoramic view of the city can be seen from the temple top , which is made of grey stones and rocks,

On the other side is the Hazrat Bal a shrine which carries the hair of the prophet’s hair. It is typical of all islamic religious sites huge domes and minar’s .One can go into the prayer area wearing a green cap . On the glass and window’s are inscribed words in pharsi that praise the koran. Their is huge silver pot which is used to drink water . Their is a library and places to rest also in the shrine. Kheer Bhawani is another mystic spot , it is a temple where Viveka Nanda meditated once . The pond in the temple is said to turn red in colour to symbolise that a clarity might strike the valley. The pipal tree which has a great hole in ti still stand’s tall and was the place vivekananda would go into his samadhi.Milk and Kheer is poured as offering to the mother godess of the temple as pujari’s do an evening prayer with bells and chanting.

The snow peaked Gulmarg and Sonmarg are also a great attraction .One can take sky trollies to explore their natural beauty or just wander around on the horse. It’s magical presence and fresh air nourishes the mind . Indeed Kashmir Valley is exactly the kind of place Jesus would have chosen to die.

Posted by Anuj Tikku 14:15 Archived in India Tagged snow mountain valley hill beauty kashmir Comments (0)

Adventure Sports and Traveling

Adventure

Travelling and Adventure Sports

Adventure sports was something i indulged in heavily dousing my travelthon . The river rafting on the ganges in Hrishikesh or Bunjee Jumping from a 80 meter tall tower , i enjoyed them for the first time . Rafting over the rapid’s dancing away on the icy water . My boat always seemed to loose control but never did. I learnt how to navigate the rapids by rowing and taking up postures that would save me from spilling over into the river . Our guide was clear with his instructions as we floated away in the river surrounded by rocky mountains with jagged edges . Sometimes we came close to hitting these edges but narrowly escaped . It was a bumpy ride as we flew over one rapid into the arms fo the other. Everyone had his hamlet on just incase the boat tumbled . As we came into quitter and shallow waters , i jumped into the river holding the roped of the raft , floating away in the mighty ganges.

Here it was that i stood on a iron beam overlooking a 80 meter drop into the river below .It was time to do bunjiee jumping for the first time . My instructor Dave who was from Newzeland ties my feet with the long elastic ropes , with belts protecting them . When i was all suited up i was walked to the edge asked to take a deep breathe and jump . I must say when i looked down i got scared and moved a few steps back ,but i was composed after a few deep breathes and just jumped . The rush was chilling and i cried out my guts on the down as everything whirled around me .The rope yanked me up as i hit rock bottom and then agin the rush of blood . After being tossed around in this manner , i reached the arms of the guy who untied me and let me go , with a Certificate in my hand saying I did it.

I enjoyed water sports in the island of Boracy in Phillipines . Here i took the water scooter deep into the sea and whirled around for hours . Sometimes stopping right in the middle , it becomes very silent at times in the sea , only the gushing of the wind and stillness . I prayed here again for my fathers soul and started my scooter back towards the jetty .Scooters are like jet ski’s but make a lot of voice they bob about in water when hit by waves all in all a very fun filled experience. I jumped from a 20 meter board into the wild sea while i was island hopping in Boracy . Snokeling was another new experience for me here.

But the most fascinating was Scubba Diving in Maldives . I had a local called Dost as my instructor he loved to sing bollywood songs and had taken a liking to me . I got a discount dollar 50 for a dive and thats it i was hooked . To the beauty of the sea the various colours and type of plants fishes and other flora and tuna . It was like being in the film finding Nemo . I made an underwater video . Chaed sea turtles and danced with sharks .

Posted by Anuj Tikku 12:17 Archived in Maldives Republic Comments (0)

The Saint's Of The East

Badrinath , Kedarnath ,Hrishikesh

The Holy Men of Asia

India being such an ancient and wondurus civilisation is the land of holy men , aesthetic , Sadu’s and Saints. My travels took me to far away places which are the gem’s of indian spirituality , smouldering with the flavour of Hinduism these pilgrimages where the most enriching experiences of my travelthon. From the banks of ganaga in Hrishekesh and Haridwar . The sadhu’s were everywhere .Smoking chillums , meditating , chatting and drinking sugar cane juice . Some throwing food to the monkey’s that crowd the many temples of the holy cities. In the morning the sadhu’s come for the holy dip into the river . Many come to them to perform puja for their ancestor’s and haw an . In Haridwar their is a famous eatery called Chotiwala which has it’s symbol as a pot bellied sadhu with a huge pony tail. I meet Haridas a sadhu in Hrishikesh “ I pray only at 3 ‘o’ clock in the morning , it’s the best time of the night all energies are aligned and one can get into trance dental states with ease , if one focusses and meditates on the lord Shiva.” Haridas had lived in Kenya for years and was in the Human Resource business until he lost his fortune and thus lost fiends and his only wife . Most of his family are a bunch of greedy liar’s according too him and that is why he became a Sadhu . “ I have been wandering these holy places , also Kedarnath , Chaar Dhaam and the Himalaya’s for two decades now , look at my skin it is all dark and black . I sleep under trees and bate in the river small price to pay for the freedom one enjoy’s “. He was a enthusiastic admirer of OSHO and despised most holy men to be fakes and quacks. “ It’s just a money making exercise , i go to these sabha’s which are telecasted on spiritual channels on T.V , most of the crowd is paid there . When i am short of money i go to these places one can earn a fe thousand bucks just by being there.

In Kedarnath i meet Badri , a young Naga who was covered in ash , with huge dread locks and a trident in his hand , he looked like the fearsome Shiva. I told him about the tragic death of my father and he said don’t worry just remember at any given point of time the universe is giving you the best result . Life moves from perfection to perfection . With these words he blessed me and gave me a silver leaf , which i still carry in my wallet .

In Badrinath i meet Veer a sadhu who begged outside the Badrinath Temple . He was old and dark and smoked bhang . He invited me to his den i sat amongst his merry group to smoke the prasad of Shambhu every day before i went a for a swim into the Garam Kundh . It is a place were pilgrims bathe and purify themselves . Just under the temple run’s the ganga in all it’s rage and icy cold. Badri worshiped kali and sang old bhajan which were a treat to listen . I treated him to a dosa and lassi for lunch and thanked him for his smoke.

Posted by Anuj Tikku 11:08 Archived in India Tagged temple religion holy saint sages pious Comments (0)

A Tour of the Beaches

On a tour of Beaches

Beaches were an integral part of my travels what with three forth of the world being covered with water. I stayed and enjoyed the best of them during my travelthon . In Goa i went to Candolem , Waga ans Agonda beach . The beaches are fairly clean with the sea roaring by .In the afternoon it can get very hot in the son . Sometime people jump into the near by sweet water lake to escape the heat . A bee line of shack hotels cater to the ever growing appetite of the tourists . The srimps , pomfret and lobsters being served all day long . This along with chicken lolly pop and beer . The sweet water lake has medical qualities and the water is good for the skin , a must dip. Some folks paraglide in the sky to enjoy the evening weather.With trance music blaring away one can find an acid party at least on the weekends.

The Beaches of Bali are more picture postcard the sky is orange , the sand white and the water blue with red roofs and free palm trees . Almost everything is picture perfect in Bali which is in Indonesia . The Beaches change colour to dark blue aqua turning sapphire blue in the afternoon. Barbeque is served on the beach followed by the famous Indonesian Dance or the Balenese Dance . It looks like milder version of Kathak. The constant movement of the head the use of fingers it is performed by girls as a welcome dance for the tourists . The near by Bheema beach which is named after the third panda bheem is another delight .The colour is aqua green and their are huge statues of the five Pandavas carved into rocks. Bali has a more Hawaiin touch and one can find the best of cocktails in the bars .

Kovelum Beach of Kerla is another delight here the beach is rough during the night the beach has guest houses for the tourists with coconut water being sold along with mangoes , papaya and pine apple. Grilled fish and jumbo praws are a delicacy .If luck you stay in a guest house which has a pool so that one can swim and feel fresh in the morning. The Kovelum Beach also has a huge Light House which is very active at night and helps navigate trollers and cargo ships.Here one can see men training in Kallaripayatu the ancient form of Kerla martial arts performed with swords and shields. One can chat with the fisherman and see how the use their large nets to trap shell fishes and crabs.One of Cochin’s famous kathakali dancers performs on the side . The city is full of temples , parks and also has a huge zoo . Reside in the zoo are white tigers , python’s , bear , monkeys and many such animals .One can shop fo the best silk saree’s in shops . After you have done it all and explored the city one has to take the famous Kerla massage to sooth the body atet the strains of the day.

Lastly the island of Hulumale in the maldives where i first did sucbba diving the beaches of maldives are known for their corell reefs and are best for diving . White corell sand tapers into the grey sea . One can see the dance of dolphins and a baby whale once in a while.

Posted by Anuj Tikku 21:34 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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