Saturday, 15 April 2017

Hidden Gems of Madhya Pradesh - Dhar

It was last December when I had to cancel my planned trip to South India with my parents. It was disappointing as everything was planned well in advance and we had to cancel the reservations just 2 days before boarding the train. Well, in the end the decision proved to be wise as Tamil Nadu was struck by a hard hitting cyclone which unsettled the living for a while. Thankfully the people of Tamil Nadu dealt with the situation brilliantly and overcome thru a torrid phase with great spirit.

Since, I was on leave for a week and there were no backup plans either, I asked my parents, if we could plan a short road trip to explore Madhya Pradesh up close. Sitting idle and spending the whole week watching TV didn't seem to me as a great option and my father noticed my frustration and agreed for a 5 day road trip to some exquisite near-by places from Bhopal. So, with the help of my  father; our itinerary was prepared and we buckled up for a short but an eventful trip.

Itinerary was...

Bhopal → Dhar → Mandu → Maheshwar → Omkareshwar → Indore → Ujjain → Bhopal

Since, we covered many places, I have lots of things to share with you all. So, every blogpost will be covering one place at a time. The architectural brilliance and rich history of the places will amaze you for sure. So, let us start the virtual journey with the first place i.e. Dhar.

Light peeping in thru the "Jharokha"

About Dhar...

It is said that the "Dhar" city was founded by the Paramara King Bhoja in the 10th century during his reign. Dhar is located in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. It used to be the capital of Malwa in Raja Bhoja's time.From historical and cultural aspects, this city has many monuments and ruins of Hindu and Muslim- Mughal Period. The city used to be the main center for culture and learning in Raja Bhoja's period. In 14th century, Muslim rulers won over "Dhar" and ruled there for a long period. The Dhar fort was also built in the same period by the Sultan of Delhi, Muhammad Bin Tughluq. In 18th century, Marathas conquered Dhar and later Samant Anand Rao Pawar re-established it and  announced it as the Capital of Malwa region. In 19th century, due to the internal conflicts between the marathas; the state was passed over to the Britishers to set up their base. Later the state was seized by the Britishers in revolt of 1857 but soon after that it was again restored by the Malwa rulers.

Dhar Fort Rampart

When I met the culture and history of the city....

1) Dhar Fort : 

Located in the north of city, this fort was built by the Muslim Emperor, Muhammad Bin Tughluq, in 14th century. The fort is built of red stone and is located on a small hill. The walls of the fort can easily be seen from a good distance. As we entered the city, we took help of locals and followed the directions, the fort was visible when we were around 2 kms away from the place. Such was the presence of the massive fortress. Like all other fortresses, this fort also has 3-4 humongous entry gates. Within the premises there is an Archaeology museum too. One can find many prehistoric sculptures on display there. When we visited the museum there was an exhibition going on in one of the halls of the museum. It had paintings depicting the Raja Bhoja's work for his kingdom and its people.

Archaeology Museum, Dhar

After that we visited the Kharbuja palace, which was built inside the fort and is best known as the place where last Peshwa i.e. Bajirao II of Maratha Empire was born. From Kharbuja palace, one can see the whole city and Munj Sagar lake. The Munj Sagar lake was excavated by Raja Bhoja's uncle Vakpati Munja in 10th century.

Kharbuja Mahal, Dhar

The view one gets from the top is surreal and it gives a feeling of how the kings used to rule in those days. With massive armies, magnificent monuments and commitment towards kingdom and its people, the life was so different back then. Absolutely unbelievable!

Kharbuja Mahal from inside
Defensive walls of Dhar Fort

2) Bhoj Shala : 

It's said that "Bhoj Shala" was built by Raja Bhoj as the center for learning. The pillars and walls have stone carvings and people say that Raja Bhoj had written some literature/grammar/poetics there.Some of the Sanskrit inscriptions of those times were found in 1903 by an expert and then he researched more about it and gave this place the name "Bhoj Shala".

Bhoj Shala, Dhar

Pillars at Bhoj Shala
The symmetry of pillars and the stone carvings on them tells a complete story of how blissful this place used to be in early times.

Intrinsic architecture of Bhoj Shala

3) Lat Masjid : 

Lat Masjid was built in 1405 by Dilawar Khan from the ruins of Hindu and Jain temples. An iron pillar used to be there which is now broken and is displayed outside the Mosque (the mosque is named after this iron "lat" pillar). One can find the Muslim- Mughal period inscriptions on the pillars. Whereas, from inside, the mosque has a courtyard, small structure and pillars same as of Bhoj Shala. Since, the Hindu and Jain temples ruins were used in building this mosque, it looks more like a structure made in Parmara period.

Lat Masjid, Dhar

Place of worship, Lat Masjid, Dhar

The mix of Muslim-Mughal and Hindu style carvings and structure provides a great view of architectural brilliance.

Lat pillars, Dhar

4) Phadke Studio : 

Raghunath Krishna Phadke was an Indian artist and many of his artifacts are installed at several places in India. Phadke taught the clay art to many of his students and a lot of his works can be seen at Phadke Studio, Dhar. It's a must visit place when in Dhar. The beautiful statues takes you to the different world altogether. They appear like that Phadke has revived the very soul in them.

Phadke Studio

Best time to visit....

Best time to visit Dhar is from August to February. In summer season, it gets very hot to dedicate enough time to each place. So, it's always preferable to plan a trip here in second half of the year.


Every spot opens at sunrise and closes at sunset.

Entry Fee and details....

The entry fee was nominal at most of the places and at some places, we don't even have to pay entry fee.

How to reach Dhar from Bhopal....

Bhopal → Sehore → Ashta → Dewas → Indore → Pithampur → Dhar

PS: Special thanks to my father. I took all the liberty and asked him to guide us throughout the tour. Being an archaeologist, he was fully aware off the places and history behind them.

Note : Few details have been taken as reference from Incredible Madhya Pradesh and Dhar
            tourism books.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

बस इतना सा ख्वाब है....

We all have certain dreams in our hearts for satisfying our thoughts and sometimes just to motivate oneself. Often, I think of people who doesn't have dreams and their daily life is much more sorted than others. But still many people dream, so do I, that too with a disengaged head and some realistic yet complicated imagination.

So, here's a poem on what all I mostly dream about and some unsorted strings of my philosophical facet. :)

एक अनसुनी कहानी सुनाना चाहता हूँ ...
तो कुछ कोरे पन्नो में शब्द बुनना चाहता हूँ ....
घड़ी के काँटों की आवाज़ बनना चाहता हूँ ....
तो कभी गुलाब जामुन की मिठास बनना चाहता हूँ ....

कभी ग़ालिब की ग़ज़ल का साज़ बनना चाहता हूँ ....
तो कभी चाँद की चाँदनी का मोहताज़ बनना चाहता हूँ ....
काली स्याही से इतिहास लिखना चाहता हूँ ...
तो कभी रंगमंच पे एक अनूठा किरदार निभाना चाहता हूँ ....

कभी सूरज की किरणों का तेज़ बनना चाहता हूँ ....
तो कभी माँ के प्यार का एहसास बनना चाहता हूँ ....
चाहने के मायने तो सब समझना चाहते हैं ....
और में उन मायनों का पर्याय बनना चाहता हूँ ....

Happy World Poetry Day to all the wonderful and creative poets! :)

Thursday, 16 February 2017

When Bloggers meet to paint their imagination #BergerXP #IB

Recently when IB announced a meet in collab with Berger Express Painting at Mumbai. I had no idea beforehand that it was happening until one of my friend posted about it on FB. Being a blogger on IB for more than 8 months now, I actually never attended any of their meets that happened in last year. One of the reasons for doing so was obviously nothing had happened in Pune/Mumbai in past one year. Well, there's a long story behind getting the invite for this event. I came to know about the event a week before its scheduled date and trust me I was actually very thrilled while requesting for the invite on IB's site. And almost after waiting for over 5 days, I received a mail from IB team with the bar code and ID to attend the event @ Taj vivanta, Mumbai. The event was scheduled on Sat and I had received the invite on friday night i.e. 10th Feb, at 8 pm. Thankfully it popped up or else it could be really disappointing to miss such a wonderful opportunity. I was worried at first because my travel from Pune to Mumbai was not planned in advance. But the excitement was so high that it took over all my anxiousness and I buckled up for the event and to meet some wonderful bloggers in person.

I reached Mumbai on 11th Feb morning at 10:30am. Since the event was scheduled at 12:30pm, I had ample amount of time to reach the destination. So, I gave myself a challenge to walk down to the venue. Okay, I failed miserably because I took the wrong route and ended up somewhere I was not destined to. The clock was ticking and in that panic moment, mumbai's famous taxiwala came to my rescue. God bless him! Finally, I reached the destination in time and then it was time to meet the bloggers from different corners of the city and some from the country also. Roma from Pune also came for the event and being a senior blogger and a very good friend, she calmed my nerve. After sometime, when other bloggers started pouring in for the event. The whole place turned out into a family gathering party where everyone was mingling with each other and chatting over bla bla things. Since it was my first Blogger's meet, I hadn't met anyone in person before. I knew many of the bloggers thru their blogs and blogging communities but the opportunity to meet them in person was truly ecstatic. Bloggers are indeed one of the kindest species present on the earth. You ask them anything and they will respond to you in the humblest of manner. Once we all gathered at the venue, we were asked to register at the welcome desk and then we were guided to the buffet table. The food was scrumptious and we filled our tummies to the fullest.

As soon as we all gathered at the venue, we took some selfies and geared up for the rest of the afternoon. Anoop- The IB guy, started the proceedings in a humorous way and some of the first timers (IB meet) were asked to introduce themselves. I too introduced myself and the fun activities begun soon after the intro part. We played musical chair in most hilarious ways possible. The winners were awarded cool t-shirts. Going further, Mr. Banerjee from Berger Express Painting came to dais and gave a very impressive presentation on painting techniques and Berger Paints to make painting a better experience. He also explained the types of Berger Paints that are available in the market and based on choice which product can suit a consumer's requirements. It was an interactive session followed by a healthy Q&A round.

Some of the key highlights from Mr. Chandranath Banerjee's session-

1) Berger Express Painting service is first of its kind in India. Berger introduced it to make the experience of painting a smooth and less cumbersome process.

2) Berger has also taken the initiative to train the local painters the art of painting and also to make them professional and skilled enough to use the advance tools with ease.

3) To make the process dust-free, they have cutting edge vacuum enabled sanding machine which makes the whole painting process less polluted.

4) Also, when we compare the time, this whole process normally takes less than 40℅ to traditional painting method. So, a win-win situation in all the cases.

5) So, when we are mentioning that Berger express painting services offers you everything then the first thing that comes to our mind is that it must be an expensive deal for sure. Well, if we go by prices then it will definitely seem like an expensive deal but the quality is something that remains there for years and that's where Berger XP is the best in the business.

After an intriguing session with Mr. Banerjee, it was time for us to have some fun and get our hands dirty. We were divided into 6 teams and our first activity was to scrub the board and to make it smooth with a sand paper in least possible time. Our team exerted full force and finished the task in good enough time. Not sure who exactly won this round as no winners were declared. But we all had great fun doing all the dirty work. After that, we were given two topics to choose from and to prepare a design depicting the very topic in the painting. We chose "Spirit of Mumbai" as our topic to showcase our thoughts thru different colors of paint on a white sheet. Since, we had some great artists in our team, I basically shifted to a different role, the role at which I was comfortable at i.e. Photography. In the end, all paintings were displayed together and the winner was adjudged by the jury (still searching for that jury 😝). The winners were awarded with online gift coupons.


Source : Indiblogger

The event ended and after bidding farewell to friends and some excellent bloggers, we all left for our heavenly abode.

PS : All pictures are taken by me except the ones with source mentioned.

Monday, 13 February 2017

And I fell in Love with my Blog!

Blog Love is something that came into picture via BlogChatter. Since it's "Valentine's Day" today, here I'm taking the baton of Blog Love from Menaka to express my love for Blogging or say, my blog in specific.

There are many things that strikes a chord in my heart when I think of them. Be it photography, singing, traveling, cricket, love for history etc. I love to talk about everything , and when I say everything, I'm seriously nodding my head in affirmation! Yes, I am a confused soul and don't have control on my own opinions and decisions. But I'm like that. No, I'm not insane! but absent minded at times. Yes,that's me! 😁

So, this absent minded "Me" was a lost soul, a few years ago. He had his own way of observing and looking at things. Never sure of what was he upto, but the guy had some spark to do something really big!  And one fine day, he stumbled upon a blog, that changed his life and perception of looking at things in a different yet creative manner. Despite of many ups and downs in his over complicated life, he rose above all the hard times and signed up on blogger to share his long-lost love for poetry and photography. And that day was engraved in history for the ages to come. Okay, I have this filmy bug of acting.... I know, weird at times. I do that often when i am in good mood. I know...I know, I have exaggerated my bio. 😜

I am no legend or not even a mere blogger. But whatever I share thru my blogposts expresses a lot about me and my thoughts. Blogging gives me thoughts to express, especially when I feel low at times. Yes, writing down your thoughts is something that helps everyone in long run. We can always look back in time and analyze oneself from within. I remember those days when my father used to arrange my childhood pictures in photo albums with great affection and care. For him, those were memories that he collected of me, so that i can rejoice in my old age by looking at those memories. I feel awesome when I look back in time thru those pictures. And that's what motivates me to write more about life experiences. Yes, I express my thoughts thru poetry and pictures, yes pictures; a picture speaks a thousand words and how we weave a story thru it describes a lot about our way of looking things. 

For me, my blog gives me wings to share what I feel and observe around me; my random yet unspoken thoughts.

Now, I pass on the baton of Blog Love to Manisha. Here you go! 😊

I'm a Blogbuddy with BlogChatter.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Unexplored got explored- Gangtok & Darjeeling!

3 years back, I traveled to Gangtok and Darjeeling with my parents and thought of writing about my experiences at that time, but couldn’t. So, finally! here I am posting few photographs along with the coverage of my 4 day trip.

It was an itinerary of 4 days; Kolkata-Gangtok-Darjeeling-Kolkata. We started off from Kolkata on 24th April,2013 evening and reached Jalpaiguri on the next day morning, from there we took a cab to Gangtok and reached there on the same day by evening. Since, roughly we had 3 days time for exploring two places excluding the travel time, we thought of utilizing it by not wasting our time in roaming around the streets and resting @ our room. We jotted down the places in advance to cover the must visit places in Gangtok and made all the arrangements like taxi and permits
required .
On day 1, we started from our hotel at 6 in the morning and gathered at a common point as told by our guide, from where we had to start our journey to the 1st destination of our trip i.e. "Nathula Pass". Nathula pass is best known as the place which connects Sikkim with China's part of Tibet. I was very excited to visit this place, as I had heard a lot about it beforehand. En-route,on one side we saw many water falls and valley on the other side. The beauty we witnessed around us was breathtaking. As we reached one of the sightseeing places before Nathula pass i.e. "Tsomgo Lake", we were informed by the locals that the route to Nathula pass was closed due to heavy land slide. And then we were told by our guide that Tsomgo Lake is the last resort for us to spend time. So, we buckled up for the sightseeing and took out our cameras as the scenic beauty at Tsomgo Lake was enchanting. I had never been to any such place before which actually had stunned me with its beauty, it was my first experience of this kind, so naturally I took my camera out and clicked lots of pictures of the lake along with valley, yaks and snow-capped mountains etc. We spent almost 3 hours there when rain started to pour-in, we headed back to our vehicles. As soon as we reached Gangtok, we had lunch and continued with our sightseeing. We covered few temples and monasteries and after dusk we came back to our hotel. At night, we took a stroll on beautiful mall road of Gangtok and had our dinner at authentic momos restaurant.

Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake, Gangtok (Sikkim)

Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake, Gangtok (Sikkim)
Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake, Gangtok (Sikkim)
Tsomgo Lake or Changu Lake, Gangtok (Sikkim)
Enchey Monastery
Prayers wheels @ Enchey Monastery
Child monk @ Enchey Monastery

On day 2, we had to leave for Darjeeling in the afternoon, so we woke up early and took a cab to cover few more places from our list before leaving. And the first place we opt was the Himalayan zoo of Gangtok. Being a nature lover and enthusiastic photographer, I like taking pictures of animals and that's the main reason I chose zoo as our first place to visit on day 2. There were various species like the Himalayan leopard, the Himalayan cats, white foxes and red panda (the cutest of them all). I took pictures of them all and saved the memories in my camera. After that we went to the botanical garden of Gangtok and then to the Dro-dul Chorten stupa before leaving for Darjeeling. And finally our trip to Gangtok ended there and we reached Darjeeling.

Dro-dul Chorten Stupa, Gangtok

Dro-dul Chorten Stupa, Gangtok

Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park

Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park

Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park
Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden

On Day 2, we reached Darjeeling and spent rest of the evening resting in our hotel room.

On Day 3, we got up early at 3 AM, got ready and took a cab to Tiger hill to see the sunrise. Before planning this trip, I read a lot about Tiger hill's sunrise view, that when the sunlight strikes on the snow peaks of Kanchenjunga, it gives you a surreal experience of sheer panoramic view. But to our bad luck the weather badly struck our plan with slight drizzle. And with great disappointment, we headed back to our hotel again and slept for another 2-3 hrs. As soon as we got up, we decided the places to cover on the first day in Darjeeling. Our first place was the war memorial, then the Himalayan zoological park, Rock garden, Tea garden and then finally the Buddhist temple. The whole day went well, I clicked many pictures at war memorial and zoological park. Alongside zoological park, we also visited the Himalayan trekking museum (those who love trekking and other stuff like that will love the facts and history gathered together of all the trekkers and trekking events ever happened in India). The rock garden also had a wonderful view around with a waterfall and different varieties of flowers covering a huge area. Overall, the experience was great and then we went to the Buddhist temple, which was our last place to visit on day 3. Well if you go to places like Gangtok and Darjeeling, its highly advisable to spend good time at places like monasteries and Buddhist temples, these places will make you feel calm and relaxed. As we ended our sightseeing on the 3rd day, we headed back to our hotel and later, went for shopping and strolled around the city.

Batasia Loop, War memorial garden, mountain

Batasia Loop, War memorial garden, mountain

Buddhist Monastery
Rock Garden, Darjeeling

Rock Garden, Darjeeling

Rock Garden, Darjeeling

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

Tea Garden, Darjeeling

On Day 4, since we had to reach the Jalpaiguri station before its late in the evening, we planned to leave Darjeeling in the morning, at around 10 AM. So, for the last adventure we opted to travel by "Darjeeling Himalayan Railway" also known as the "Toy train”. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is declared as the world heritage site by UNESCO and is well known all over the world. We boarded the first train of the day from Darjeeling to Ghoom station (distance of 10 km approx.) and then took a cab from Ghoom to our hotel at Darjeeling. The whole experience of traveling by the toy train was fun. At the end, we left Darjeeling and reached Jalpaiguri on time, and then we boarded our train in the evening from Jalpaiguri to Kolkata.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Dirdham Temple