Kaziranga National Park – Trip down memory lane.

As we commence the second half of 2017, I decided to look back to the start of this year. 2017 began in Assam for me. A short trip to explore the National park and Majuli , which had been on my list for a while.

I never got down to writing or sharing pictures of the trip so decided what better time than now to do a quick throwback of my two days at the world heritage site enjoying the safaris and all that the sanctuary had to offer.

 

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My first evening began with a jeep safari into the park. The safari lasted for about two hours taking us through the central zone of the park. The forest in itself is stunning and the water bodies make it even more magical.

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My introductions were first made with this herd of deers , which soon become a common sight and keep you entertained through the entire ride.

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My first sighting of the one horned rhinoceros . At the onset , I was anxious and super excited to spot them but as time passes by and you let the forest take you through its turns and allies, you enjoy the experience of just being there.

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The evening light and sunset create magical hues and are a treat to the eyes , I could not stop myself from clicking through the entire evening.

Wohoo, I did manage a close sighting of these majestic creatures before the evening ended.

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Catching the last light and taking in the vast landscape as I bid adieu to the park for the evening.

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” Some journeys can only be travelled alone ” – KenPoirot.

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I stayed at the very lovely IORA – the retreat and could not have asked for any better hospitality. Since I was travelling solo, they ensured my safaris were tied up with other travellers from the retreat . They went out of their way to make sure I was beyond comfortable and well taken care off.

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I enjoyed the cultural night with bonfire and a scrumptious meal, and retired for the night. I was anxious and excited for the early morning safari at 6am!

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My first view as I entered the western zone at the park. This is one of my fav. moments from the entire trip.

The morning elephant safari is surreal and I urge everyone to not miss it. Catching the first light surrounded by deers and rhinos at an arm distance is nothing short of a fairy tale. My own tryst with catching them up close.

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Just one of the many moments during the morning! It was phenomenal:)

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Bidding good bye to the baby and mommy rhino. I was over the moon and happy to have made the effort of waking up at 5 am in the freezing January cold.

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Leaving you all with some sparkle and magic! Until next time, hope you guys feel  inspired to go and enjoy the wildlife as much as I did.

MY REASONS TO LOVE UDAIPUR

This was the first year in my life where I decided to take a trip for Diwali instead of celebrating it at home. Picking a place was easy. What better place for a family weekend-getaway than the gorgeous city of Udaipur?

I have been to Udaipur before. I love the city. And I am sure that I will keep going back for more. But this trip with the family for Diwali has a very special place in my heart.

I felt like a traveler who had fallen in love with travel all over again- absorbed in the city, lost in the streets and completely charmed by its beauty and grandeur.

Here are a few reasons as to why I absolutely loved Udaipur and would urge everyone to visit this land of lakes :

1. Old Udaipur – It has its own charm and a vintage vibe that is unique and unmatched

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2. The lakes and the Palace views are breath-taking. They are enough to make you fall in love with life even more. Lake Pichola and Lake Fatehsagar are both visual treats to all tourists.

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3. The City Palace, Jag Mandir, Monsoon Palace, Devigarh – It’s common knowledge that architecture and cultural heritage in Rajasthan is remarkable. But Udaipur is simply outstanding when compared to its neighbours. The monuments here are sure to leave you spellbound.

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4. The Food!– Rajasthani cuisine and specialties like Lal Maas, Gate ki subzi and the Pyaaz ki Kachoris are mouth-wateringly delicious. Make sure to try them all!

5. Havelis and Rooftop Restaurants – I made it a point to visit one Haveli and roof top restaurant for every meal. Lake Pichola Hotel restaurant – is my recommendation for a lovely dinner with the best views and service. Also do visit the Jaiwana Haveli for an amazing view and an authentic Rajasthani meal.

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6. Royal and Budget Stays – All the Lake view facing Havelis are absolutely gorgeous, well-maintained and offer a royal experience at steal-worthy rates. My personal favourites are Jagat Niwas Palace, Madri Haveli and Udai Kothi.

7. Shopping – Fabrics, colors, antiques, clothes, shoes and souvenirs – Udaipur has them all. Moving from one street to another, you can easily spend more than a day shopping. Make sure you visit Hathi Pol and Bada Bazaar for great deals.

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8. Art and Culture – I absolutely loved walking around in Udaipur. Not only is it picturesque and offers great photographic opportunities, but the streets and walls are multi-coloured and filled with art and graffiti.

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9. Stunning properties –The Oberoi Udaivilas and Leela are amongst the most stunning properties in India. These properties offer some of the best spa treatments and ensure that you are rejuvenated for your trip back home.

Once you visit this city, you won’t need reasons as you will surely and steadily fall in love with it. I want to end this post with one of my favorite quotes on travel and I’d like to dedicate it to the wonderful city of Udaipur.

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,

To gain all while you give,

To roam the roads of lands remote,

To travel is to live.”

– Hans Christian Andersen. The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography.

MONSOON ESCAPADES – 5 PLACES FOR MONSOON LOVERS IN GUJARAT

The Monsoons are the most loved season for many of us in India. We eagerly await the first showers which bring with them the fragrant smell of the wet earth, the joy of getting drenched and the feeling of renewal and bliss.

The rains for me are synonymous to reading a good book, a cuppa coffee and sit by the window staring as water pours down kissing the ground. I simply allow myself to soak in the beauty of the world.

Having been home during this monsoon; which presently is close to Surat, Gujarat, I am sharing some of my monsoon discoveries from in and around that can be visited to enjoy this season:

  1. My first adventure trail took me to Parnera Hill and Temple a few kms off Valsad To reach the top; one has to make a climb of 486 steps (yes a good exercise for legs). The way up leads to many small temples and an old broken down Fort. The Parnera Top and Fort have a lot of history attached to them from the time of Maharaja Shivaji. The climb is through dense forests with trees on either side. But the view from the top is completely worth the climb. A short and peaceful day trip during the rains!
Morning misty view from top of the Hill!

Morning misty view from top of the Hill!

  1. Saputara – Saputara is known as the only hill station in the Sahyadri range of Gujarat. Saputara is a breath of fresh air, lush with flowers, a pristine lake, thick forest covers and a peaceful location for a perfect weekend getaway. I stayed at the very comfortable & beautiful Aakar Lords Inn . It offers a variety of experiences for all tourists – trekking, sunset points, temples, museums and boating…there are a plethora of activities to choose from.

I had a lovely time walking by the town, relaxing and enjoy the scenic view it offered. The drive to Saputara crossing the Dang Forest is spectacular. . For any more details you can also look up, (http://www.saputarahillstation.com/index.html)

Bird's eye view of the Saputara Valley..

Bird’s eye view of the Saputara Valley..

  1. Dandi beach – This famous beach which came into light when selected by Mahatma Gandhi for the Salt March. The beach is closest to a town called Navsari. The beach is not as crowded as compared to other beaches and yet offers a unique and tranquil experience. I went by, to experience a sunset during the first showers and was completely awe struck by the colors in the horizon.

  1. Gira Waterfalls – These waterfalls was an unplanned discovery during my monsoon adventures. They are breathtakingly beautiful and I was pleasantly surprised to find something as wonderful so close to home. They are located at about 3km from Waghai town and are a 30m natural drop into the Ambica River. Small tea and corn stalls make for a perfect snack while you enjoy the view.

  1. Valsad – Valsad is a popular town in Gujarat and has quite a few touristy attractions. Tithal Beach s a tourist attraction in the coastal region of Valsad. There are some grand temples such as Shri Sai Baba and Shri Swami Narayan along the sea coast. Food stalls – bhajiyas, dabeli, coconut water, dense forests, great architecture and a walk by the sea sums up my monsoon visit to this region of Valsad.

Hope this post pushes you to discover places closer to home.