Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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.

 Etymology:

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.

 History:

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.

Architecture:

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.

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Tiger Sighting At Ranthambore

Posted: March 14, 2016 by obsesessivetraveler in India, rajasthan, Uncategorized
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Capture

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

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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

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Stay: Tiger Moon Resort.

Online Safari Booking: www.rajasthanwildlife.rajasthan.gov.in/booking.do 

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: http://www.jodhpurtravels.com/bikes_on_rent.php (Only 1 bike rental place in Jodhpur)

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.
Attractions:
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.
Attractions:
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.
Attractions:
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.

Khimsar
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.

Mandore
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:

https://jaipurthrumylens.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/achrol-fort-jaipur/comment-page-1/#comment-1744

 

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Milan Duomo and Duomo Museum

Posted: September 27, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in Italy
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The Duomo is the most magnificent piece of architecture in Milan with its Gothic white building and sculptures carved out at every nook and corner of the entire building. The museum of the duomo also houses interesting artifacts- sculptures, pottery etc.

Duomo

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Duomo Museum

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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

How to Reach Sunderbans in India?

Posted: May 26, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in India, west bengal
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Sundarbans – literal meaning “sundari” or “mangrove” forests- is an archipelago originally measured to be about 16,000 square km (around 200 years ago) but now dwindled to only about 4,000 square km.

The most interesting part about Sunderbans is the complex ecosystem that thrives on salt tolerance surviving half or fully submerged in salt water as per the tidal activity each day. I loved observing the roots of different halophytic mangrove trees. The fauna too is said to survive on drinking salt water as fresh water sources are scarce and are hence said to live for half the normal lifespan.

To conserve and protect the diminishing ecosystem, most part of Sunderbans is protected under the National Park and only few islands have been permitted to house human villages.

 

How to get to Sunderbans in India?

Although Sunderbans are roughly about 75% in Bangladesh and 25%in India, I being an Indian have just accessed the Indian part.

Kolkata to Godkhali (about 85 km) 3 hours by road: by bus or cab.

Sonakhali to Gosaba: ferry (about half an hour)- INR 10 per person

The largest village or island is Gosaba. It is the last commercial stop where you can find autos, air conditioners and other luxuries. In case you are traveling on your own and not with a travel guide you need to book a hotel at Gosaba. Boats are available to take you to the National Park.

sunderbans map HISTORY

Museum of Musical Instruments, Brussels

Posted: January 2, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in Belgium, Europe
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The Museum of Musical Instruments at Brussels, Belgium, spread across 4 floors, is perhaps the most elaborate museum on musical instruments I have ever seen and hence a must visit for the music lovers/ connoisseurs. Although, I do not fall into any of those music lovers or connoisseurs category, I was also intrigued by their vast collection. It not only had the standard instruments on display but also instruments that I had never seen before in my life, including some musical instruments from China. There was also a brief history about each instrument written and narrated through the audio guide.

Of course, thanks to Andrew Saxon (from Dinant) the museum had an entire dedicated to Saxophone with a brief history of Andrew Saxon and his life and an endless display of saxophones.

The museum also had some paintings/ illustrations related to music.

Figurines at Brussels, Belgium

Posted: January 1, 2015 by obsesessivetraveler in Belgium, Europe
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Happy new year to all! 2014 was a great year with loads of travel. I hope 2015 is even better! My new year pledge is to post more frequently so here I begin with my first post for this new year!!
 
The other unique thing to see at Brussels are the figurines, some that can be spotted on the street while a lot others are on display at MOOF (Museum Of Original Figurines) and Comic Strip Museum at Brussels.

I especially loved the figurines of Tintin at MOOF.

The other figurines are also very interesting and a must watch for anyone interested in cartoons and one can find the figurines of almost all their favorite characters here!

Few life-size figurines at Comic strip museum.

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Best Thing to See at Brussels, Belgium: Comic Strip Murals

Posted: December 26, 2014 by obsesessivetraveler in Belgium, Europe
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Cart 0What strikes a person visiting Brussels for the first time are the omnipresent comic strip murals!! On my first visit there, I spotted one comic strip mural and was fascinated. Then I kept walking around kept spotting more and more murals and soon realized that all murals were based on comics, which was quite unique as murals in most cities are based on abstract art or some recent topic but I have never been to a city where all murals are based on comic murals. Walking through Brussels is like flipping the pages of a comic book where all the popular comic characters come alive- Tintin, Spirou, Smurfs, Lucky Luke, Daltons, Corentin, Black, Mortimer etc!Belgians regard by comic strips as 9th art and Brussels as the capital city does pay a true ode to this art form! The comic strip mural project started in 1991 when following a ban on billboards, the walls looked ugly and dilapidated and hence the billboards were replaced by comic murals and now there are over 50 murals that give a unique identity to Brussels as a city. Whenever I would think of Brussels now, the first thing that would come to mu mind would be the comic strip murals.

There are dedicated Comic strip walks and cycling tours. I however bought the comic strip map from the Information center and walked along the recommended path as per map 1 and trailed a number of murals for a day , though of course trailing all 50 (map 1, 2 & 3) would require 2-3 days. Map 1Map 1 Map 2Map 2 Map 3Map 3 Some of the comic strip murals I saw were: 1. The Passage by Francois Schuiten & Benoit Peeters Cart 16 2. Broussaille by Frank Pe (first mural in July 1991) Cart 17Cart 2 3. Victor Sackville by Francis Carin Cart 18 part 2 Cart 18 4. Monsieur Jean by Philippe Dupuy & Charles Berberian Cart 20 5. XIII by Jean Van Hamme & illustration by William Vance Cart 21 Part 3

  1. Yoko Tsuno by Roger Leloup Cart 22 6. Young Albert by Yves Chaland (French) Cart 1 7. Olivier Rameau & Colombe Tiredaile by Dany & Greg Cart16 copyCart 15 8. Tintin (Calculus Affair) by Herge cart 26 Few other comic strips around: