It was at the Gateway of India from where the journey to Elephanta Island, Mumbai started. At the entrance of the Gateway we collected the tickets to the Island and it took around one hour to reach the destination of the island. The rhythm of the waves could be easily heard, and the cool breeze was blowing and surpassing out body with a feeling of peace and illumination. It was a complete blissful voyage of one hour with the college friends. It was real time to create wonderful memories, which would be relished till the last breath. As we were sailing in a deluxe launch with the tickets of the upper deck, the infinite Arabian Sea could be thoroughly seen.
There was a pause for the contemporary commercial part of Mumbai and a start to an era when art and carving out expansive statues is believed as a fine blessing. The best way to explore and know everything about Elephanta caves is through a guide book, which could be easily purchased from the vendors outside the caves and I did the same instead of hiring an expensive human guide. We caught the small train that took us to the entrance from the dockside. It was astounding to climb steep 120 steps towards the caves, but we easily managed to do so. As the caves are regarded as Lord Shiva’s religious place, many aged tourists could be seen. The caves are highly rich in the fine carvings of the ancestors of the early era. The historical sculptures and art are really outstanding. We got up to the Cannon Hill to visit the old cannons situated on the top of the hillock.
After covering the major parts, we came out to have some resting hour and ate wild berries, which were the specialties of that place. We sipped tea and coffee with some light snacks and glimpses of the picturesque and endless sea. It was finally a true historic expedition to Elephanta Island, Mumbai, which was accomplished with a deep breath and excellent reminiscence. We took our steps back to Mumbai to visit one of the oldest churches located in Kurla, so we caught a local train, which is the fastest mode of transport to reach the church.
Prince Of Wales Museum, Mumbai : You may be familiar with the Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangralaya but I still prefer calling it the Prince of Wales Museum which surely is one place worth visiting in Mumbai. The building architecture is Indo-Saracenic style and was built to commemorate the visit of Prince of Wales to Bombay.
After reaching the Mumbai station, we planned to travel to Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai as per our schedule and hired a private cab, which took us to our destiny. The gallery is located in the Kala Ghoda region of south Mumbai and it has a very authentic entrance. We entered the gallery in the afternoon as it would be closed by 7 pm; therefore it was our first choice to visit it.
The art gallery itself imparted its artistic history and the era of art in the early age of history. The moment we arrived at the gallery, it spread a welcoming gesture in the air. As per the information written on the royal wall of the gallery, it was established and inaugurated on the 21st of January in 1952 by the formal chief minister of Maharashtra, Mr. B.G. Kher. The art gallery consisted of three exhibition halls, two galleries named as Hirji Jehangir Gallery and Terrace Art Gallery respectively with an auditorium hall connected to it. The phenomenal paintings of the renowned artists were simply mind-blowing and highly appreciable. Splendid paintings of the famous celebrity artists such as Ganesh Jadhav, Rabaaka Nikam, Burhan Nagarwala, Bina Om Rajput, et al were displayed with their own entities and identifications.
The halls have all the modern amenities and suitable equipment for the exhibitions. The Terrace gallery was meant for photography displays and visual arts. The gallery also sponsors an annual Monsoon Art Show to reveal the phenomenal paintings and artworks of the artists with proven merit. The gallery had organized many art courses to appreciate the artworks of the uplifting artists to inspire them. But due to shortage of space the unraveling artists had to wait for a long time to get a place to exhibit their paintings. The displays were changed every week to capture different artworks. They disclosed the depth of the thoughts and imagination of the artists. The journey to the art world in the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai came to an end with the beginning of another journey towards an island near Mumbai Harbor, which is famous for its cave temples and historical sculptures.
Being a student, 23 years of age, I have developed a lot of interest in traveling. I love adventure and never leave an opportunity to travel during weekends to nearby places. This time I had an opportunity to visit Mumbai. I started my train travel from Chennai (MAS) to Mumbai (CSTM) by Mumbai Express. I was so excited because this was my last trip with my college and college friends, and after that we were supposed to get busy in our own career. I was already twenty minutes late by the schedule and was also worried. Since Chennai Central is one of the busiest stations in India, we got struck with the crowd. After taking our allotted seats in the three-tier AC and arranging our baggage, we started chattering about the ultra modern city and its local destinations.
Landing on a different station is always my passion. Since the next junction was Renigunta Junction, which was supposed to arrive at 2:30 pm, I went to the main door of the train to catch up with the greenery outside. The farm fields and little ponds were amazing. As the train took the turning, all the coaches could be seen easily moving together and imparting the sense of unity. Renigunta came and we landed on the station looking for some magazines in the stall. Being a junction, the train was halted for more than five minutes and we bought tea and sipped our tea gossiping about girls passing by.
The train whistled and we jumped into the train without delay waiting for the next junction to arrive. After having our tickets checked by the authority, we took our seats waiting for the hawkers to come up with South Indian snacks. Stations like Koduru, Kamalapuram, Maddanuru, and Gooty were small and so the train halted for a minute. We were impatient for the next day to reach Mumbai. The evening in the train was relaxing with magazines. In the night, the sky was covered with the blanket of twinkling stars, as I peeped outside the main door.
Next day morning, I woke up to the call of tea sellers and was astonished to see Pune Junction, which was so developed with all the amenities for the passengers. We landed there too, to look for the hot breakfast. And finally after a few hours the time came when my train travel from Chennai (MAS) to Mumbai (CSTM) by Mumbai Express came to an end.
Just for the record, I am a self-acclaimed ardent mountaineer, who has that special dream to scale the mighty Mt Everest some time in future. Having trekked small hills and mountaintops in and around my hometown in Chennai, I somehow have satisfied my passion of hiking.
Here, I would like to share my favourite trails in India. Some of them are still on my to-do list!
1. Kumara Parvatha Trek in Karnataka
It was one of my first treks; hence, this one is special! Also known as, Pushpagiri, the Kumara Parvatha trek is located on the backdrop of an ancient shrine called Kukke Subramanya. Best time to trek here is during October to February.
2. Pindari Glacier Trek in Kumaon
Located in Kumaon region, the Pindari Glacier is easily reachable, though it should be avoided during monsoons. The trek is not too complicated, hence, novice trekkers can try going up the Pindari glacier.
3. Dodital Trek in Uttarakhand
The magnificent state has been blessed with nature’s eternal beauty in the form of small hills and mountains. Of which, Dodital is a highly popular tourist attraction. The trek is not too difficult and the summer season serves to be the best to enjoy the trail.
4. Himachal’s Churdhar Peak
There is no denial that Himachal Pradesh is bestowed by nature largely. The best example is Churdhar Peak, which is also a sanctuary of the alpine regions surrounded by dense temperate forests.
5. Indrahar Pass Trek of Himachal
Considered a difficult trek, Indrahar Pass in Himachal has its own beauty and an eye-pleasing appeal. Climbing is tough but worth it as the view from top is mesmerizing.
6. Markha Valley Trek in Ladakh
Markha Valley is one of the best treks in India. This is because apart from the beauty of it, trekkers have to follow the trail along the Markha River that flows through “Little Tibet.” I had been here last winter, and must admit that Markha valley is truly an enchanting place to be!
Some of these are yet to be explored to the fullest. There are many more trails across India, waiting to be tamed.
Nandankanan Zoological Park, Bhubaneswar : On my recent trip to Bhubaneswar with college friends, I realised my love for nature, wildlife, animals and birds. The Nandankanan Zoological park Bhubaneswar has a lot to contribute for my inclination towards the wildlife. The zoo is a great home to innumerable species of birds, animals, etc. Also, we didn’t had to spend too much as the zoo was nearby our hotel.
We knew that Bhubaneswar comprised of more than 2000 temples from more than thousand years. The temples of this city were constructed in a unique style of Odisha from long years. Hundreds of temples and centers of Hindu pilgrimages dotted the city as landmarks and played an important role in various aspects of tourist attractions. One of those attractions is the beautiful lake called the Bindusagar Lake, Bhubaneswar Odisha, which was located in the north of Lingaraja Temple and identified as a relaxing picnic spot.
During our last visit to my cousin residing in Bhubaneswar, we got the opportunity to plan for a picnic near this holy lake. Legends say that the idol of Lord Lingaraja, representing Lord Shiva, was brought for a ritual bath to this lake and since then it is believed that if anybody takes a bath before or after worshipping in the temple, he gets freed of all his sins and diseases. The lake had a length and width of 1300 ft and 700 ft respectively. We could spot beautiful stones on the bank of the lake and they were an added charm to the place. The peaceful atmosphere revitalized my soul with a playful mind in the picnic.
During the rest time we came to know about the legend behind the lake. It said that when Lord Shiva preferred Bhubaneshwar instead of Benares and expressed his wish to Goddess Parvati, then she took the look of a cowherd woman to survey the city. However, on her way, she met two devils who wanted to marry her and when she asked to carry her on their shoulders, they agreed to her immediately. Both of them were crushed under her weight. At that time the lake was created by Lord Shiva to quench her thirst.
Truly, India is enveloped with so many legends and every legend has its own moral and gives message to humanity. After knowing the story behind Bindusagar Lake, Bhubaneswar Odisha, I was overwhelmed with emotions of philosophy and dedication towards the ‘Karma’ of life. I was happy that I could learn so much about the history of India.
Mamma Mia, Bhubaneswar : While holidaying in Bhubaneswar I was badly craving for some spicy and yummy fare. And so, my wish was granted by Mamma Mia, a popular bakery plus cafe, located in the city. Mamma Mia Bhubaneswar is an exceptional place to eat out! Additionally, as I had my gang of besties with me, it couldn’t have been more enjoyable. We gorged on Chinese and Italian like crazy eaters!!
The Nandankanan Zoological Park, Bhubaneswar, Odisha was known to be the country’s first zoo and it is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. I came to know about this truth when I was in the Jagannath Dham of Puri earlier to offer prayers with my family and relatives. On asking for our hotel manager about the places to see nearby, he told us not to miss the zoo in any situation. After hearing all that, we could not stop ourselves from visiting the zoological park. We called up the private car after returning from the Chilka Lake and asked the driver to drive faster as we couldn’t hold back our excitement any further. As it was one of the biggest zoos in the country, it was a good idea to reach there in the morning so that we could cover all the major species of animals and birds.
The zoo was probably known for hosting white tigers, which were born to parents with normal colors in 1980 and it was an auspicious event in the world. We also did a white tiger safari, which was thrilling as well as adventurous too. Some of the animals and birds such as mouse deer, Indian Pangolin and white-backed vultures were conserved by the Breeding Centers. Animals like the gharials and the hippopotamus were raised by the zoo in large numbers for housing purpose. It also had a captivated slaughter house and fodder farm to meet the nutritious and dietary requirements of the animals residing at the zoo. We caught the view of many animals such as Malayan giant squirrel, brow-antlered deer, Himalayan black bear, Indian pangolin, etc. The zoo was vast and there was only a little time left to see all the breeds, so we decided to see some major and famous animals.
We had the funniest time near the cage of red mouth monkey, who was imitating the acts of the small kids watching them. The Nandankana Zoological Park, Bhubaneswar Odisha made me relive some of the moments of my childhood in that short span of time. The memories would remain always close to my heart as one of the sweetest ones forever.
Birds, a precious gift to the nature, are always loved by every human being, another undistinguished creation of God, and everybody has a dream to touch the horizon like them, free from fear,Chilka Lake materialism and ego. Birds are the idols for those who want to know how to live a life, keeping all the fear at a bay. This could be seen on the shores of Chilka Lake, Odisha, which is a resident and a hub of aquatic and migratory birds. The birds visiting the lake had their own land of dreams to kiss the sky and travel infinitely.
Reaching Balugaon station and catching a bus to the lake was quite tiring but after being dropped at the destination, all the fatigue was vanished. Since there was only a single baggage, we moved towards the lake in a mood of impatience instead of checking in the hotel. The view was heavenly as the lake was shrouded with a flock of flamingos embracing and splashing water on themselves. I was totally imprisoned in that specific period of time and did not want to come out of that. The Nalban Island inside the lagoon of the lake was a Bird Sanctuary, where the captivating beauty of 150 species of birds could be cherished. The lake itself had fished with 225 species along with the other range of aquatic life.
The other islands that we had covered on the boat that day were the Breakfast Island, Beacon Island and Honeymoon Island. We also enjoyed different kinds of water sport activities such as speed boats and water scooters under the guidance of the drivers. Taking a break in the Panthanivas, a unit of Odisha Tourism Development Corporation in Balugaon was an added advantage to that trip as we were provided with all the relevant information regarding the places to see, food to eat, things to buy, etc. It was also at a distance of just half a kilometer from the lake. It was a must to share experience in the Chilka Lake of Odisha, especially for the bird lovers and those who are very close to nature.
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Hello, I am Ayushi Manroa. I love travelling and have also dabbled in photography. Being a student, I mostly end up back-packing! I started this blog to record my travelogues about the amazing places that I have been to. Be it frolicking in Goa, taking a dip in the Ganges, trekking in Coorg or hitching a ride up the Western Ghats, it is all listed here along with some of my best shots. Hope you like it. Happy reading!