Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Ranthambore Fort

Posted: March 29, 2016 by obsesessivetraveler in India, rajasthan
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Ranthambore Fort is a UNESCO world heritage sire and the second largest fort after Chittorgarh in Rajasthan. Its location had a strategic advantage for trade between North India and Central India and despite several attempts; it remained unconquered throughout its history due to the particular angle at which the gates had been constructed to camouflage it as a part of the hill, making it impossible to spot from the adjoining forest.

How to Reach?

The Fort is located within the Ranthambore National Park but you are allowed to reach here on your own private vehicles. Alternately you can also reach here through taxis operating through the union and thus has fixed tariffs. There are 2 entrances to the fort now: one opposite zone 3 or 4 and the other from Ganesh Temple. The Fort is at a height of 481 m above sea level and one as to climb a number of steps to reach the fort or hire a palki ride.

Time Required:

Depends on one’s pace and how much time one wants to spend listening to the guide but at least 2-3 hours is recommended. Since I had covered it in between safaris, I had to hurriedly cover it in 2 hours with a guide.


Its name is derived from 2 adjoining hills- Rann and Bhore and the valley in between is Tham. The fort covers the entire Bhore hill and overlooks the valley and the Rann Hill at the Ganesh temple.


Ranthambhore Fort was constructed and ruled by Prithvi Raj Chouhan’s descendants, starting from the reign of the Chauhan Rajput King Sapaldaksha in 944 AD.

The most prominent ruler of the Fort was Rao Hammir, the last ruler of the Chauhan dynasty (1282 – 1301 AD). From 1299 to 1301 AD, Alauddin Khilji’s (the ruler of Delhi) army tried to siege the fort but was defeated and was finally able to capture it in 1301 by deceit. A traitor- Ranmal hung a black flag of defeat over the fort even though they had defeated Khilji’s army. All the married women committed jauhar and the unmarried women committed suicide by jumping in the pond. When Hammir returned to see this he killed the traitor and then himself. The traitor’s head is kept as a sculpture at the entrance of the fort with a sword mark running across the middle. Ranthambore was then ruled by Ulugh Khan on behalf of Khilji.

In the next three centuries the Ranthambore Fort changed hands a number of times, till Akbar, the Mughal emperor, finally took over the Fort and dissolved the State of Ranthambore in 1558. The fort stayed in the possession of the Mughal rulers till the mid 18th century when they handed it over to the Jaipur state.


The walls of the fort are about 7 kilometers in length and include an area of nearly 4 square kilometers. The Ranthambore fort is surrounded by massive stonewalls which are strengthened by towers and bastions. The stone for the masonry was mined from inside the Fort and the mines were later turned into ponds for water storage. There were 7 Main doors from start to end, of which few survive. The fort had many buildings inside but now only a few survive, mostly:

  1. Hammir’s Court
  2. Badal Mahal ,
  3. Dullah Mahal,
  4. 32 Pillared Chhatri (Cenotaph) of Hammir
  5. Jain temple,
  6. Mosque: Interesting to see mosque within the fort of a Hindu king but believed to be added later by Khilji
  7. Ganesh temple: Still active and attracts worshippers from all around. Loads of langur monkeys around the temple
  8. Barracks and step-well.

Interesting Facts:

  1. The Fort offers some breathtaking views of the forest and the lake below around which several crocodiles and alligators can be spotted with a good lens.
  2. In the forest adjoining the fort, there are several mango trees which are believed to have grown from the mangoes eaten and thrown by Khilji’s soldiers as mango trees are not inherent to the area.

raanthamb_368Pond next to Ganesh templeraanthamb_403chhatriMosquemahaltraitor's headraanthamb_345raanthamb_342

Tiger Sighting At Ranthambore

Posted: March 14, 2016 by obsesessivetraveler in India, rajasthan, Uncategorized
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My 3 day itinerary was as below:

Day 1: Drive from Delhi to Ranthambore: About 280 km: 6.5 hrs

Evening canter shared safari: Zone 5: Sighted a sleeping tiger by the river


Day 2: Morning Canter: Zone 3: Zone 3 & 4 have T-19 and her 2 cubs (the 3rd died when young and no one knows how). Sighted the 22 month old cub of T-19 and followed it for about half an hour. A very unique and mind-numbing experience. You might have sighted a tiger several times in zoos and TC but the experience of sighting a free tiger in its natural habitat is without parallel and cannot be described in words, only experienced.

Ranthambore Fort: The fort is just outside zone 3 and we were left at the foot of the fort from where we climbed up and took a cab back (taxi union fixed price to Tiger Moon: 300 Rs). Cost of guide to the fort: INR 500 but worth it as it is huge and unique fort and takes at least an hour to go around.

Evening canter: Zone 4: No sighting (although the tigers in zone 3 can also be sighted from zone 4). A number of alligators can be viewed at the side of the lake here.

Day 3: Evening Canter: Zone 1: Very large zone. No tiger sighting but a large zone and has interesting topography and flora.

Drive back to Delhi


Stay: Tiger Moon Resort.

Online Safari Booking: 

For more pictures you can view the album on my facebook page here.

Packing my Suitcase

Jodhpur Bikaner Bike Trip

Posted: March 10, 2016 by obsesessivetraveler in India, rajasthan
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IScreen Shot 2016-03-10 at 7.53.24 PMtinerary:
Jodhpur-Osian-Bikaner- Nagaur- Khimsar-Mandore-Jodhpur
Total Distance: Around 600 kms (on a bike)
Bike Rental: (Only 1 bike rental place in Jodhpur)

Also Called: The “blue city” due to the indigo blue houses around the Mehrangarh Fort which only the Brahmins were allowed to have to keep the house cool from the scorching sun.
Founded: In 1459 by Rao Jodha, a Rajput chief of the Rathore clan and it became the capital of the Marwar state.
1. Mehrangarh Fort: was founded by Rao Jodha in 1459. Seven gates have to be crossed to reach the fort built by various kings as the fort remained undefeated throughout its history. It is one of the largest and most magnificent well-maintained forts in Rajasthan and the grandest fort I have seen thus far. It is situated on a 150 m high hill and one can use a lift to go up or climb up the ramp as the main fort starts from the third floor. One can easily spend an entire day here exploring the fort and gaze at the mesmerizing blue houses in the background.
2. Umaid Bhawan Palace: erstwhile palace taken over by Taj Hotels now but still houses a great museum that one must see even if you are not staying at the hotel.

Osian: (65 km from Jodhpur)
History: From 8th – 12th century, this town was a great trading center but now is mostly only ruins.
1. Sand dunes
2. Ancient Temples: Jain temples, Sun temple and the Sachiya Mata temple belong to 8th and 11th century and are mostly not functional now except for the Mata temple and the architecture is stunning.
3. Stepwell: This stepwell also has a very interesting architecture and very fascinating for me given my fetish for step wells.

Bikaner (about 250 km from Jodhpur)
History: The city was established in 1488 by Rao Bika Ji, a Rajput prince. The excavations from this city prove that the civilization was at its peak here even before Harappan civilization.
1. Junagarh Fort: was constructed in the year 1593 by Raja Rai Singh. It is believed that crocodiles were bred in the water moat surrounding the formidable fort. The construction is a fine blend of Mughal, Gujarati and Rajput style of architecture. The picturesque courtyards beautify the fort. The amazing architecture inside the fort inspires you. Some of the attractions inside the fort are Anup Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Hawa Mahal, Dungar Mahal, Diwan-e-khas and Ganga Mahal.
2. Lalgarh Palace: was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the year 1902 in memory of his father in red sandstone with excellent blend of Mughal, Rajput and European architectures.

3. Rat Temple or Karni Mata Temple (30 kms from Bikaner): The temple is famous for the approximately rats (called kabbas) that live and are fed in the temple. The main legend surround it is that Laxman, Karni Mata’s stepson, drowned in a pond in Kapil Sarovar while he was attempting to drink from it. Karni Mata implored Yamraj, the god of death, to revive him. First refusing, Yama eventually relented, permitting Laxman and all of Karni mata’s male children to be reincarnated as rats.

Gajner Palace and Wild Life Sanctuary are also close by but we didn’t have time to visit the same.

1. Khimsar Fort: is a 16th century fort that was built by Rao Karamsiji, son of Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur. The lawn of the fort is spread over 11 acres atop a hill. The yellow-colored fort has been constructed in the traditional Rajasthan style. It has now been converted into a hotel and now taken over by ITC Hotels. They own private sand dunes as well.
2. Yoga Ashram: A 100 year old yoga ashram.

Location: 9kms North of Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Known for: Erstwhile capital of Marwar region before Jodhpur
Attraction: Mandore Gardens which houses the following:
1. Chattris Of Maharaja Jaswant Singh And Ajit Singh : Mandore remained the royal cremation ground and there are numerous memorial ‘chhatris’ and temples, both Hindu and Jain, the earliest of which (on the hill) date from the 8th century. The finest are the memorials of Maharaja Jaswant Singh (1638-78 AD) and Ajit Singh (1678-1731AD), the second of whom was cremated along with six queens and 58 concubines.
2. Pleasure Palace Of Abhai Singh: The pleasure palace of Abhai Singh has been turned into a small museum.

Achrol Fort

Posted: March 10, 2016 by obsesessivetraveler in India, rajasthan
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Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.09.05 PM I discovered this fort purely by chance during my recent nth visit to Jaipur. We were actually out for a day bike ride to Abhaneri Stepwell but then that highway didn’t allow bikes so just randomly googled forts on google maps and arrived at this one and was glad that I did. Just 40 km from Jaipur is this secluded and very interesting fort, although not maintained too well.

There is a palace in the Achrol village, which is getting converted into a hotel soon. From this palace the small hike to Achrol Fort begins. The fort has a great panoramic view and a very interesting architecture. There was nothing about the history of the fort at the place but for more details you can read this blog:






Kangra Fort

Posted: September 17, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in himachal pradesh, India
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Kangra Fort is the largest fort in the Himalayas and perhaps the oldest fort in India (and hence in the world) and definitely one of the most picturesque forts I have seen thus far offering breathtaking views of the Dhauladhar range, although major part of the fort is in ruins owing to the 1905 earthquake. I would strongly recommend to anyone with interest in history and architecture.

Location and how to Reach: 3 km from Kangra town and 20km from Dharamshala and best reached only by hiring a cab or auto from Kangra.

Timings: 9am to 6pm; all days of week

History: The exact year of its construction is unknown but it was built by the Royal family of Kangra (The Katoch Dynasty). As per legends, Rajanaka Susherma Chandra, after being defeated in the battle of Mahabharata (allies of Kauravs), retreated to the valley and built this fort.

1009: plundered by Mahmud of Ghazni

1337: Captured by Muhammad bin Tughluq

1351: Captured by Firuz Shah Tughluq

1622: Conquered by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir after a siege of 14 months

1789: Raja Sansar Chand-II

1809: Maharaja of Punjab, Ranjit Singh

1846: British Government

1905: Earthquake

Layout: The Fort is surrounded by a high rampart over a circuit of about 4 km. The fort has many gates, stairs and courtyards, believed to be added during the various stages of its history and siege by different rulers. The palace fell down and the shrines were defaced during the earthquake and remain as such today but looking at them one can imagine the grandeur of the entire structure before the earthquake!!

Interesting Trivia: Kangra= Kaan=ear + gaddha= create/mold. Thus the city was named such because it housed the ancient plastic surgeons of the region

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Kareri Lake Trek

Posted: September 14, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in himachal pradesh, India
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Dates of trek: 4,5, 6 Sep 2015

Day 0: Overnight bus from Delhi (ISBT) to Dharamshala: Time taken 12 hours. Cost: INR 1000. Booking website:

Day 1: Dharamshala to Ghera village (1306 metres): 20 km away cab (Alto): INR 800

Ghera to Kareri Village (1746 metres): 2.5 hours

The road after Ghera is in a state of disrepair and hence there is no option but to start trekking from Ghera itself although many sites say you can take a cab till Kareri village. We got a lift from a pickup truck till some distance further, which was quite a bumpy ride and we had to hold on to the truck for our lives.

Hike from Ghera to Kareri village takes roughly 2-3 hours and the trail is pretty straight forward passing through Sari Village and one river crossing along the way, although there are options of using the so—called longer motorotable road or the much-touted shortcuts with steep stairs most of the way. We took a mix and match of the two routes and reached the village in 2.5 hours. We had lunch at Kareri at a local’s place and hired him as a guide along with tent for INR 700 per day.


Kareri Village to Camp:

After the village, the trail is a wide road still under construction but easy to tread on. Parts of the road had overgrowth so it appeared to be a scene from a Harry Potter movie. The welcome surprise for us were these temporary tea shops that had been set up for trekkers on account of Janmashtmi on 5th Sep, thus we got tea at regular intervals during our trek.

After the road there is a dirt trail for some time which gives way to boulders and stones acting like stairs that form majority of the trail. A number of times you would be required to skillfully hop over large boulders to cross the various streams of Nyund River, that flows almost all along the trail. Thus there is no dearth of fresh water supply throughout the trail.

There are warnings about bears and leopards, but we did not encounter them. We did get stung by bees on our way and by the poisoinous shrub that locals call “bichhu buti” and seem to be growing almost throughout the trail. Brushing past the leaves of the shrub causes severe rashes and itching. Ironically the sheep of the region feed on the shrub!!

We camped at the dedicated camp site, roughly 4 kms before the lake.

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Day 2: Kareri Camp to Lake (3034 meters):

Next morning we started late and covered the remaining 4 kms in roughly 2 hours, arriving at the Temple overlooking the lake just in time to enjoy the Janmashtmi langar.

Kareri Lake is a high altitude, shallow, fresh water lake fed by melting snow from Dhauladhar range, but dam has been built on the side of the temple to prevent water from overflowing. A few Gaddi kothis (Shepherd’s temporary dwelling place) are present on the other side of the lake and they live and graze their livestock there when there is no snowfall and after snowfall return to their village- Naholi. Post lunch we just hiked around the lake and enjoyed the views. At night the night sky was just mesmerizing, of course could not be captured by the camera. So the sight of the sky strewn by stars, of nebula clouds and of shooting stars every 15 minutes remains only as an indelible memory.


Day 3: Kareri Lake to Mcleodganj:

We descended about 19 km in 5 hours and caught a cab to Mcleodganj from Ghera (cost: INR 1000) and my feet were numb post that with blisterds. We enjoyed a great meal at Mcleodganj before catching our bus back to Delhi.

Local Guide Contact Details (highly recommended): Purushottam: 09736986581 (stays at Kareri village itself and can arrange for tents, sleeping bags etc)



Posted: July 26, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in Delhi NCR, India
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Farukhnagar is a small town close to about 50 km from Gurgaon that was earlier famous for salt production. The monuments- Sheesh Mahal, Baoli (step well) and Jama Masjid were built by Faujdar Khan, governor under the Mughal empire in the 18th century.

I had discovered this town when I had visited Sultanpur bird sanctuary and while passing by I had spotted these old structures that caught my fancy and had to revisit the place to explore.

I have a fetish for stepwells and this stepwell got me hooked, although the recent restoration is an eyesore as usually all restorations are. There is no entry fees to the place and there were no other visitors, so I just sat there and sketched undisturbed for a while, after which we attracted few locals who very only too keen to show us around. But we just excused ourselves and left.

Besides the stepwell, there is also a chatri and the palace. But this time I did not take my camera so only reproductions I have of the place is the sketch of the stepwell that I reproduce here.But even the other places are worthwhile so if you get a chance do go and explore.
Farukhnagar stepwell_black

Flower Show, Gurgaon

Posted: June 19, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in Delhi NCR, India
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Almost every city in India has an annual flower show. Gurgaon holds it annually at Leisure Valley Park in the spring month of March. It is worth a visit as the colors and variants of flowers at display are exquisite and also the flower arrangements. The entire park is decked up in various colors, a visual treat for sure!_DSC0286





















Animals Spotted: Crocodiles, deer and monitor lizard

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Birds Spotted: A vast variety but sadly I do not remember their names except for white-collared kingfisher.

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Sunderbans: Night Safari

Posted: June 1, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in India, west bengal
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Planktons- small or microscopic organisms that drift or swim weakly in a body of water, including bacteria, diatoms, jellyfish, and various larvae. Sunderbans night safari is when I first encountered them. It was a full moon night when we went for the night safari and hence to view the planktons we had to reach deep inside the forest where the water did not already shimmer in the moonlight. Then just dipping your hand in water and twirling it around you could see them glowing in the water. I had expected to see fireflies but planktons were an added bonus. Nature is so beautiful and so full of surprises.

In the night safari, the most interesting part of the Sunderbans adventure, we went in a small rowing boat on the water that had completely engulfed the land, presenting an entirely different landscape in the high time. Most of the trees around were submerged. Thereby we crossed over to the other side of the river and the boatman steered the boat into 1 of the channels that were part of the landmass during the low tide but now had water flowing through.

In the narrow channel the boat brushed though the trees and the multitudes of organisms on them- spiders, insects, crabs etc, reminding me of the floating forests in Cambodia. Fortunately the night spared us the sight of the organisms we were brushing against but our guide flashed his torch momentarily to give us a picture and caught a crab to make his point.

Sadly cameras are ineffective in the night and hence I do not have too many pictures but definitely an indelible memory.moonlight Lunar eclipse _DSC0234 _DSC0232 _DSC0230