Monday, 17 June 2013

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo Megapolis, Western Province (Sri Lanka)

Why Colombo was on my list?


Well this guy "Sanath Jayasuriya" is the culprit :) When it comes to cricket he could single handedly destroy the challenging team in matter of few overs. 

Frankly speaking, he was the one who gave me sense of this country. I became such a fan of this legendary batsman that I was literally praying either India or Sri Lanka as world champions. Man, I wished it like anything and it got accepted. Sri Lanka won the World Cup 1996 hurray! 

Since then it was like a dream to touch down this land some day. Here I was standing in front R.Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo city, Shri Lanka after the wait of 14 years! I guess it's never too late, right? Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka, so make sure you collect the map of Colombo from air port itself as there are plenty of chances of getting lost :)

Gangaramaya Temple


Places to visit in Colombo: There are quite a few places deserves to be visited.
  • Gangaramaya Temple
  • Town Hall
  • Galle Face
  • Murugan Hindu Temple
  • Independence Memorial Hall
==Photos from my trip==
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Food and Drink

Finding good street food is not difficult. You can always find some thing good enough to have with in your budget. However if you are vegetarian then your options reduce a bit. 

For typical south Indian food you can visit to Shanti Vihar, the restaurant is not expensive too for the kind of food being offered.  For drink, since weather in sri lanka is tropical the beer would be best to satisfy your thirst and we made sure we had enough supply from the airport itself :)

Stay

Quite unique for us that we decided to have a hotel room booked in advance :). Well the reason was quite different this time, Sri Lanka was going through some internal issues which were being resolved using military power. 

So We didn't want to wonder around for hotel room. We booked a room in the hotel named Ramada which was bit expensive but pretty OK for the food being offered on the house. It was very near to sea also. We enjoyed our stay in the hotel. 

Transportation 

We caught a flight from Delhi to Colombo. Costed us around 25000Rs per person for to and fro ticket on Sri Lankan airways. When you are in Colombo you can book taxi or auto (three wheeler) to travel around. 

We got a taxi booked from the hotel itself. He charged us around 1000Rs and took us at most of the places. Locally you can also use bus service but don't expect it to be very punctual but good enough to take you around. It will cost very less compared to the taxi and auto. 

P.S.

Last month was rather interesting from the travelling point of view. We visited three cities in one month (other two were Penang and Malacca, Malaysia), although not much of difference in terms of historical prospective but still holding the charm of their own and making you wish gosh I would have one more day :) 

Few things I would like to highlight from an outsider point of view. 
- First, always pay in Sri Lankan currency. If you are carrying indian currency it would be bit difficult to get it converted to the local currency specially 500 and 1000 Rs notes and you will be always charged "extra". So get it converted when flying from Delhi Airport itself. 
- Second, Galla beach is in the middle of highly secure area, if you park your car by road, police may come to you for security check. Same is true even if your cab driver drops you at the main road instead of dropping you inside Galla Beach parking. If they come for check don't get too excited :) let them check, keep it cool and calm.

Kindly make sure, you have latest update on the political front so that you can enjoy this awesome country without any hassle. 

Happy travelling...

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Rishikesh, India

The Yoga Capital - Rishikesh Uttarakhand

Why Rishikesh was on my list?


Rishikesh has some kind of magnet it pulls you towards itself. You will see many foreigners living here for months but originally came for 2 to 3 days visit! 

BTW, I missed a chance of attending aarti ceremony with Prince Charles and Camilla by one day :(

I was always fascinated with the idea of attending the Ganga aarti. I was amazed by the people performing religious ritual at the bank of holy river. So if you wish to live the magical moment, don't forget to attend Ganga aarti at the Parmarth ashram. Rishikesh, beside being famous Hindu pilgrimage site it is also famous adventure sports destination. Although later one was not on my list. 

One the places near Rishikesh to visit is "Neelkanth Mahadev". As per the Hindu epics this is place where Lord Shiva consumed the poison. 

Ganga Aarti
















Things to do in Rishikesh: 


  • Yoga
  • Adventure sports
  • Ganga aarti
  • Camping
  • It's a first stop to char dham yatra.

Make your pick :)

Rishikesh Images

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If one wishes to learn yoga in Rishikesh, there are many centers claiming to the best yoga ashram in Rishikesh which can teach you yoga suiting your budget and need. Although you can find them any where in Rishikesh but I liked few which are situated on the left hand side of the police check-post once you cross Laxman Jhula. If I recall correctly Rishikesh Yog Peeth is quite a famous place to learn yoga as well.

For adventure sports, White water rafting, you got to book it in advance better book in the morning time so that you get in the river by after noon when weather is bit hot else water could be very cold in morning and evening time. The one we booked was situated on the way to Ram Jhula from Laxshman Jhula. It will cost you around 1000Rs per head for 12 Km river rafting. 

Bungee Jumping, although we did not do it personally. But one can find it on the way to Neelkunt. All you need 2000Rs and a strong heart :) I guess, it is the only bungee jumping camp in India, run and designed by a new-zealander. Rishikesh is also a hiking and backpacking center. 

Food and Drink

Note, Rishikesh is a vegetarian town by law, you wont find even a single place serving non vegetarian good. If one willing to find a non veg food point he/she might have to travel outskirt of the town. 

Same goes for drinking you wont find any shop selling alcohol, if one wishes to buy then better option would be either to carry from source itself else nearest option available is a town named Raiwala which lies in between Haridwar and Rishikesh.

If you wish to have a decent food near to Laxman Jhula well there are plenty of restaurants available at 5 mins walking distance. One of them, if I can recall correctly, is chotiwala which is decent enough to serve your hunger. There are few others situated next to chotiwala which are also decent and cheaper. And if you wish to buy Rishikesh map well this is place to search for it :)

Stay

There are many budget accommodation easily available all over Rishikesh but finding a room with good view of Rishikesh could be difficult. We stayed at the hotel named "Ganga Niwas" which is basically a guest house run by a trust. It will cost you around 600Rs with air conditioner. 

Most of the people staying there were basically staying for months, doing yoga courses.

Another option would be to rent a tent or camping at the bank of Ganga. There are many options available on the way to Neelkunt. All in all it depends how much you want to spend on the accommodation and also the season you are traveling to Rishikesh, we went there in May starting. 

One more thing to keep in mind Rishikesh weather which may get very cold for few liking especially the temperature falls very fast after rain. So don't forget to pack few woolen clothes for the trip.

How to reach Rishikesh?

Taxi: If budget is not an issue, book a taxi straight from the airport itself.

Train: Take a train from Delhi to Haridwar and from Haridwar you can take public auto which are quite cheap. Or you can also take a local train from Haridwar to Rishikesh.

Bus: There are direct bus services available from Delhi ISBT to Rishikesh.

General Route to Rishikesh: 

New Delhi - Meerut - Muzaffarnagar - Roorkee - Haridwar - Rishikesh

Route we took to/from Rishikesh:

I was travelling on my bike so there was no compulsion of taking above route. There is another route which can save hell of time. 

This road basically runs along gang-nehar which you can catch from Modi-Nagar. While travelling from New Delhi to Meerut, just before the Modi-Nagar you will see a nehar "canal" passing through, take left and just fellow the road to the end it is around 220KM long road and will take you to the roorkee. And from Roorkee it is common road to Haridwar to Rishikesh. 

Just keep in mind that don't use this road in night and also don't forget to take update from a villager about the road condition. During our trip around 35 KM road was in very bad condition since we were on bike it didn't create much of problem but for car it might be different story altogether. 

If you are looking for a good Hindu spiritual experience well you got to be there!

Happy travelling...