The Residency

Are You in Lucknow? Again?? – Part 4

Now that you’ve read about my Day OneDay Two & Day Three in Lucknow, you can read a detailed account of my 4th day. And this is the last one. I promise! 🤥

It was time to head back home but only after a heritage walk! As part of the Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Festival, a heritage walk of the British Residency was offered. It was called War Chronicles: Residency Heritage Walk.

The Residency

Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula agreed to keep a British resident in Awadh. Accordingly, residential premises were built to accommodate the British officers & their staff. The premises included bungalows, Muslim shrines, thatched houses, and ‘high end’ buildings for higher officials.

During the First War of Indian Independence, the Residency underwent a siege for 87 days. It was a refuge for ~3000 British inhabitants then. British from across Lucknow congregated here & sought shelter. By the time General Campbell stopped the freedom fighters, it was already in ruins.

In fact, the damage is such that today we can’t ascertain the real architecture & purpose of the buildings. The ruins, British cannons & bullet holes on the walls speak of the terrible war. However, a few attractions still stood out for me as I walked through, e.g., Banqueting Hall, Treasure House, Dr. Fayrer’s House, and the main Residency building. The Banquet Hall is a double-storied building with impressive architecture.

The Archeological Survey of India preserves the Residency ruins. You can book an e-ticket to visit. Note that plastic disposables are prohibited to be taken inside.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Deep Dive India

The War Chronicles: Residency Heritage Walk was conducted by Samir Kher from Deep Dive India, an organization that conducts immersive travel experiences. It conducts tours that go beyond the typical circuit & a local architecture/ history expert accompanies.

Now, I’ve attended a few heritage walks; the best ones aren’t those that are regurgitated out of history books but those that tie the people of that time, the sociopolitical scenario of that era to the events. Samir did exactly that.

Listening to Samir was like visualizing a movie playing out in front of my eyes. He spoke of the Nawabs of Awadh, the East India Company, the La Martiniere boys, the soldiers, the ladies & children, and others – all of whom had a part to play in the events of 1857.

I already have it in mind to attend another walk with Samir next year to another part of Lucknow. Highly recommended!


Rating: 5 out of 5.

For archaeology aficionados, Lucknow is a pilgrimage! Ditto for history buffs! Lucknow is inseparable from Indian history. As I boarded my train, I made up my mind to return to Lucknow for a fourth time. Still lots to see & eat!


The frugal me couldn’t find appropriate accommodation in the heart of the city & thus booked Click Hotel in Transport Nagar.

Transport Nagar is a locality on the Lucknow – Kanpur Road. Its USP is its proximity to the Amausi Airport. Other than that, the locality still looked like it was in a development stage. When I turned off the highway to get to the hotel, the roads were unpaved & dusty.

Click Hotel is the budget hotel of the Clarks group. I became apprehensive seeing its (comparatively) remote location but over the next few days, having my own cabs proved this to be not a problem.

When I reached the reception to check in, the receptionist did not have my booking details. I was put off more by this & already in a good mind to switch hotels if she created any fuss. But she received the details from their central booking office & after 10 minutes, I was escorted to my room.

The room was comfortable, decently sized, & lit well. It overlooked the road; so, I would have to keep the curtains drawn. But I was OK with this.

I ordered a plate of Chhole Bhature from a nearby restaurant called Chetram Pindi Chole. I requested Click Hotel to send me crockery & cutlery to eat the food, but it took them some time to get this done. (The next three days were better in terms of service speed.)

My stay was quite uneventful. I would leave early after an average buffet breakfast & return post – dinner. So, I did not spend too much time in the hotel.

However, I guess, for the money I spent, I shouldn’t be expecting more. In fact, I would say, for a budget/ corporate hotel, Click Hotel may be a good choice.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Aap Lucknow Mein? – II

La Martiniere College

Are You in Lucknow? Again?? – Part 2

Now that you’ve read about my Day One in Lucknow, you can read a detailed account of my 2nd day.

Fresh after a restful night, I was ready to explore Lucknow (a third time). The best way to get around Lucknow is by public transport & I’d booked Bharat Taxis & Savaari Cabs for the duration of my stay.

Vidhan Bhavan

My first stop was the Vidhan Bhavan. How cool is it when our temples of democracy are also architecturally brilliant! In the 1920s, Chief Architects Sir Swinon Jacob and Sri Heera Singh built this edifice that presents an imposing, magnificent sight even today.

On both sides of the road, the Houses of the People stand, giving off a majestic aura. The Gothic influence is unmistakable. The Bhavan is crescent – shaped. Its front part is built with carved Chunar stones.

The front of the portico is tri-arched. You can see the State emblem carved on it. The Vidhan Bhavan has several administrative offices in its vicinity, making the area crowded & important. There was such security at the Bhavan that I was unsure if I should click photos!

Vidhan Bhavan, Lucknow

Vehicles are prohibited from stopping in front of the Vidhan Bhavan. So, I got down from my cab at one end & crossed over to the other side on foot. It was while walking that I had the brainwave of breaking my sightseeing for a cup of tea!

Sharma Ji Ki Chai

Sharma Ji Ki Chai was less than a kilometer from the Vidhan Bhavan. As the name suggests, it is a teahouse. It also has light snacks to pair with tea. But do not go expecting a Zen – like ambience of a teahouse; Sharma Ji Ki Chai is chaotic in the most Indian way. Be ready to stand with dozens of other tea drinkers, ready to shout out your order over the din, to share tables etc.

I had a Kulhad Chai & a Bund Maska. After my frugal breakfast, these were deeply satiating!

Christ Church

Christ Church was the first English church to be built in North India and the third in India. It is in the Hazratganj area, just a little over a kilometer from Sharma Ji Ki Chai. Sadly, the gate to the Church premises was locked; the caretaker informed me that it opens only on Sundays.

Christ Church, Lucknow

When the Christ Church was built, it was called St. Mary’s Church. It was part of the British Residency. It was attacked during the First War of Indian Independence like all other British establishments were.

The first people to be buried in the Church cemetery were those that fell during the 1857 War. Standing at the gate, I tried to imagine what the interior would be like. It certainly looked as if it could accommodate 100+ people!

Given that I could only look at the façade, I turned my sights towards the bell tower. It comprises a spire with a cross at the top. This was an eye turner!

Saint Joseph's Cathedral, Lucknow

Saint Joseph’s Cathedral

I then moved on to the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, barely 1.1 kilometers away. Just my luck, or my timing, but even this Cathedral was closed. The police officer, however, let me enter the premises. So, once again, I stood outside, sighed at the architectural brilliance & then bowed my head.

The St. Joseph’s Cathedral dates to the 1800s. Its architecture is outstanding. I particularly liked how its crescent is topped by a column with a cross. The massive Jesus Christ statue is unmissable. When I had had my fill, I moved to the right of the Cathedral to pay respect to Mother Mary’s Grotto.

Shahnajaf Imambara

When I asked my cab driver if he knew the Shahnajaf Imambara, he said he knew the Bada & Chhota Imambaras! This actually was a highlight of my trip that my cabbies usually didn’t know the attraction that I intended to visit.

Anyhow, the Shahnajaf Imambara (3 minutes by cab from the Cathedral) was a beneficiary of loan agreements between the Awadh Nawabs/ Kings & the British Resident. This commitment moved to the British Government & then to the Uttar Pradesh Government.

Facade of Shahnajaf Imambara, Lucknow

The Shahnajaf Imambara has an enormous dome & is built of lakhauri bricks in lime concrete mortar. It has a closeted verandah all around the inner building. It was undergoing renovation when I visited but, luckily, it was still open to visitors.

The Shahnajaf Imambara was empty except for a couple of foreigners. I removed my footwear, covered my head & entered. The Shahnajaf Imambara was established in honor of the Caliph, Hazrat Ali.

The central hall has the graves of the king, Ghazi – ud – din Haider, & his queens. The hall is also decorated with historical mementos. Photography inside is allowed. It is worth it too – chandeliers & crystal glass lampstands!

Chandeliers & Crystal Lamps at Shahnajaf Imambara, Lucknow

Caution – Women are required to cover their heads here.

Sikandar Bagh

My next stop was Sikandar Bagh, 1.4 kms away. It is a hidden, small monument but extremely crucial from a historical standpoint. During the First War of Independence, a battle was fought here in which 100s of British & 2,000 freedom fighters lost their lives.

Uda Devi, a woman warrior, too was shot dead here but not before she killed several British sepoys. The British were baffled by her courage. So much so that the souls of the British still roam in the park, after dark, as per legend.

The entrance is from a side gate. On the left are the ruins while on the right is an imposing gateway. If you love architecture, you will find the gateway a treat for the eyes. You will find the two – fish symbol here, that can be seen in modern crests.

Sikandar Bagh is peaceful, despite the bustling roads outside. The garden is well – maintained. And empty – I spotted about four or five visitors, mostly college sweethearts. It is sad that people’s interest in heritage & history is diminishing. The buildings & stories that we should be cherishing, feeling proud of & taking inspiration from are becoming merely photoshoot locations.

Ruins at Sikandar Bagh, Lucknow

Hazratganj Market

My ultimate halt before I took a lunch break was the iconic Hazratganj Market, 3 minutes away by car. It is a Victorian – style shopping area. The British built it on the lines of the Queen’s Street in London.

Today, however, Hazratganj is famous even outside Lucknow; in fact, it is synonymous with Lucknow. I walked the length of the market from one end to the other. It is a veritable shopping paradise, especially for Chikankari (a traditional embroidery design).

I just window – shopped but watching the pace of activity at Ganj was exciting. But I must admit, the rickshaw pullers were quite annoying; throughout my walk, one or the other of them would accost me that he would take me to the best Chikankari store & to Chowk & to Aminabad (& God knows where) for just INR 10!

Let me just say this about Hazratganj – if you are getting bored, come to Hazratganj; you will find plenty to do! The best way to get around is on foot. Food was another thing Hazratganj boasts of; I had my eyes on Royal Café.

Royal Café

Mutton Degi Masala

After all the sightseeing, I attacked what Lucknow is famous for – the Awadhi cuisine. Tucked in the center of the Hazratganj Market, Royal Café provided an excellent dining experience. Its ambience was fine.

I went with my server’s recommendation & boy, was I delighted! The Mutton Degi Masala was mouthwatering. Portion size, of course, was too much for one. I must compliment the food quality; the chefs’ commitment was evident.

If you are a meat – eater visiting Lucknow, you MUST try the Mutton Degi Masala at Royal Café. The food cost was fair. Its popularity was also apparent with the crowds thronging the restaurant. It has four branches in Lucknow.

Habibullah Estate

Habibullah Estate

Stepping out of Royal Café with a big smile, I strolled to the Habibullah Estate (half a kilometer away) taking in the sights & sounds of the market. It is a restored heritage home which is now the first boutique retail space in Lucknow having outlets like Anokhi & Geetanjali.

Habibullah Estate has colonial architecture & is 300+ years old. I particularly liked the lofty ceilings & arched doorways. It was the ancestral home of Hamida Habibullah, at one time the President of the Avadh Girls Degree College. She was an active participant in social causes & had been a role model for Muslim women.

Heritage structures lend such an appeal to a place… sigh!

Cherry Tree Café

I read a lot about the Cherry Tree Café. I had to check it out, but it turned out to be a major disappointment. The ambience is green & great, but the service could not be worse. I sat there for an hour but was not served.

Cherry Tree Cafe, Lucknow

I asked first for 🍦; they said it’s unavailable! I then asked for a Mud 🍫 Pudding: they said that’s unavailable too. Then another server said 🍦 are available but I’ve to go to the counter & see which ones.

At the counter, there was no ice cream. Still, I didn’t lose my cool & told the lady at the counter that I want a Berry Vanilla Custard & that I’m sitting outside. I told the server too that I’ve ordered. But even after sitting for an hour, nothing came.

So, I finally got up & left. Oonchi dukan, feeki pakwaan!

Calm but disappointing Cherry Tree Cafe

Chhatar Manzil

Onwards to Chhatar Manzil! It was less than two kilometers away. It is located on the banks of River Gomati. Nawab Ghazi-ud-din Haider (same as Shahnajaf Imambara) laid its foundation. However, while I had heard a lot about this attraction, I am afraid to say it was poorly kept.

Chhatar Manzil was abandoned. Even the garden had not been manicured. It has the Central Drug Research Institute in its premises, yet looks desolate, so much so that I felt a tinge of fear when I was here.

However, none of this took away the beauty of the Chhatar Manzil. It is built in an Indo – Italian style. It has a large umbrella topping on it which gives the monument its name (umbrella = chhatri = Chhatar).

Farhat Baksh Kothi

The Farhat Baksh Kothi is built adjacent to the Chhatar Manzil, within the same premises. It was built by & was the residence of the French Major General Claude Martin. Its original name, thus, was Martin Villa.

Farhat Baksh Kothi, Lucknow

Nawab Asaf – ud – Daula later bought the Villa. Legend has it that he used to be frequently unwell; the British Resident recommended him to stay in the Villa, post which his health improved significantly! It was then that the Nawab named it Farhat Baksh Kothi (‘pleasing mansion’).

The Farhat Baksh Kothi has Gothic architecture. In the olden days, its ground floor touched the river Gomti because of which it always remained pleasant inside! I love how the old structures were built so thoughtfully; not like today where you just fit air conditioners!

Recent excavations have also brought out pillars going deep inside the ground, i.e., a subterranean floor in all probability! TBH, I preferred the Farhat Baksh Kothi much more over the Chhatar Manzil. I could not take my eyes off this beauty, especially its Romanesque roof!

Farhat Baksh Kothi, Lucknow

La Martiniere College

The last stop of the day, to honor Major General Claude Martin, had to be the La Martiniere College. Born in Lyon, he came from a humble background. He realized the value of formal education and set aside a portion of his estate for the founding of schools in Kolkata, Lucknow & Lyon.

The La Martiniere College I visited was the Boys’ College. I took less than 15 minutes to reach here from Farhat Baksh Kothi. Its campus is spread over ~1.6 square kilometers. TBH, I did not expect to be let inside La Martiniere College. It is a private educational institution, not a tourist attraction.

I was, thus, pleasantly surprised when, at gate 4, the security guards enthusiastically answered in the affirmative when I asked for permission to go inside to see the structure. From the gate to the main building, called Constantia, was a nice 10-minute walk with heritage structures on both sides.

The first I encountered was the Mews, i.e., the stable for the horses, used by the pupils to learn horse riding.

The next was The Tomb of Boulone Lise. Lise was the daughter of Nawab Fazal Khan Bahadur, the grandson of the Wazir of Aurangzeb, and was Major General Claude Martin’s companion. The Tomb was purpose built as she chose to be buried on the College grounds.

Tomb of Boulon Lise, Lucknow

The Tomb is a small domed building but with a striking light green color. (If it weren’t a tomb, I would daresay call it fairytale-esque!)

Further ahead was the grave of a Major William Hodson who killed Bahadur Shah Zafar. On my right was the Stobart Hall which is a school to learn the French language.

At last, I stood in front of the Constantia & I’m not exaggerating when I say that my jaw dropped on seeing this imposing, magnificent, 18th century building. It is a fine example of European funerary monuments.

La Martiniere College, Lucknow

I climbed a few steps & stood in front of the Laat, a 40 meters high column. (The Laat itself remains a mystery. A few consider it a lighthouse while others believe it is a marker for the grave of Major General Martin’s horse.)

Turning around, I could see the expanse of Constantia & the other arms of La Martiniere. The architecture is crowned by several statues, the most majestic of them being the lions. The fact that Major General Martin built both Farhat Baksh Kothi & Constantia is very evident from the similarities between both the heritage structures. But the latter is grander!

Major General Martin is buried in a basement mausoleum in the building. I came to know later, during my British Residency heritage walk, that the Boys’ College is the only school in the world that was awarded royal battle honors for its role in the defense of the Residency during the First War of Indian Independence.

La Martiniere College, Lucknow

(The flag has not been displayed since the Indian independence because of the objection it may cause.)

I really wanted to explore the interiors of Constantia, but I was unsure if I would be allowed. It was also getting dark by now. So, with a heavy heart, I exited but promised myself (& the marvelous architecture) that I would be back!

Roastery Coffee House

I ended our day at Roastery Coffee House (7 kilometers away). It is a frequent haunt for me in my hometown; I wanted to experience what another of its outlets looks like. Glad I did! It was, indeed, popular in Lucknow too.

Roastery sources coffee from farms across India. It offers single – estate specialty coffee. I first calmed my sightseeing nerves with a Milk Mocha & leisurely read a novel. The aroma of the distinct kinds of coffees is divine.

I then satiated my appetite with Chicken Nachos which were yummy. The flavors just exploded in my mouth. It was still quite early when I wrapped up from Roastery. I knew I would be hungry later. So, I got myself a Chicken Salami Salad bagged. Later, tucked in my bed in the hotel, I polished it off with great contentment.

Umbrella decor at Roastery Coffee House, Lucknow

Roastery is a family-friendly place. Its ambience is cheerfully delightful, with the yellow lights & the inverted parasols. It is a premium café, but it feels very home – like. I was taken diligent care of by my server, Manish. He ensured he was attentive yet not intrusive. His service made my experience richer.

I hope it continues to maintain its remarkable existence even as it expands into newer cities.

A busy but really satisfying day came to an end!

Ganga Kinaare…

Ganga, Mango Orchards, Garhmukteshwar

Our earlier posts on Devprayag & Haridwar made us look back at another of our travels along the river Ganges. For this one, we did not have to venture far from our home.

This holy town is rightfully called the closest point from Delhi NCR where you can witness the Ganges. Yes, we are speaking of Garhmukteshwar. It’s easy to reach by road via NE3 & NH 9.

We recommend visiting in winter as the summer months can be incredibly hot. But mornings, evenings & nights do get cold during winters. We have made three trips to this holy town by now – twice in winter & once in monsoon.

TBH, we have not gone sightseeing in Garhmukteshwar. All our visits have been staycations. But even those have been quite eventful. You can ride a bullock cart. You can throw yourself a picnic in the expansive lawns. You can go swimming on warm days. You can play a ton of outdoor games like archery, cricket, dartboards, volleyball, & commando bridge.

So, the next time monotony gets to you, just pack your bags, drag your co-travellers/ pets, & head out to Garhmukteshwar. Once you leave the city limits behind, it’s lovely seeing the mustard fields in bloom during the winter season.

We give below our experience of two resorts in Garhmukteshwar, viz, Baghaan Orchard Retreat & Mango Tree Resort. Both are set amidst mango orchards & have a cottage – style accommodation.

Most importantly, both Baghaan Orchard & Mango Tree are pet – friendly! (Yeesss!!)

Baghaan Orchard Retreat

Baghaan Orchard is ~26 kilometres from NH 9 on the road leading to Siyana. We find its location desirable as it’s situated away from the city hustle bustle.

Baghaan has lawns, a restaurant, a conference hall, a swimming pool, & an activity area. It’s ample parking space. The abundant grounds make for a lovely setup for winter sunbathing.

All age groups can find some or the other activities to keep themselves involved – badminton, croquet, pottery, Burma bridge & table tennis etc.

The restaurant offers multicuisine food. The room service was good too. We celebrated Christmas on our second visit and had a bonfire going in our private lawn. The Retreat dedicated one server to us to cater to all our needs.

The cottages have all facilities like LCD TV, coffee/ tea maker, and attached bathroom & toilet. They also have private sit outs.

Baghaan also seems to be a resort of choice for corporate offsites & for celebrations. During our first visit, we saw a company offsite taking place there. We ourselves were part of a bachelor’s party celebration.

First Visit (2015)

We stayed in an Orchard Cottage for one night. It’s a one – bedroom unit, ideal for a couple/ a family with a young child. We’d reached late at night, but the restaurant still served us dinner.

The next morning, we strolled around the activity area & the orchards.

Second Visit (2020)

We stayed for two nights over the Christmas holiday, along with friends. We stayed in a Dasheri Kothi which was an independent two – bedroom unit in a corner with a private lawn.

The Kothi had a living room and a sit-out, in addition to the lawn. This configuration is ideal for four individuals/ two couples/ two families with young kids.

Our puppies had a marvelous time playing in the private lawn.

On our first night, we had a bonfire going. The next day was spent playing badminton & volleyball and soaking up the sun. for the night, all of us crashed into the living room of the Dasheri Kothi for an evening of discussions & drinks.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Mango Tree Resort (2022)

Mango Tree is one of those places where the only sound you’ll hear is the rustling of leaves. It’s ~20 kilometres from NH 9 on the road leading to Siyana.

The Resort has lawns, a restaurant, recreation rooms, a conference hall, a play zone, a swimming pool, & ample parking space. If you’re done with soaking in the Sun, you can involve yourself with activities like badminton, cycling, tambola, carrom board, & table tennis.

The restaurant, Daana Pani, offers dishes made with homegrown ingredients. We loved our gastronomical experience here. You can satiate your palate with a mix of Indian, Continental, & other cuisines.

The 31 cottages at this resort are an amalgamation of contemporary design & rustic elements. We’d booked the Premium Cottages which were in a block of six. So, if you’re in a large group, you can book all the six & the block (kind of) becomes exclusively yours.

The Premium Cottage is a one – bedroom unit with a small living area, a private sit – out & an ensuite bathroom.

First Day

On our first day, we were the only guests & thus had the entire resort at our disposal. It was a rainy day, but the staff was kind enough to provide quite a few umbrellas.

Amongst us, there were five pet dogs who had a wonderful time running around in the lawns, sniffing at new scents & muddying themselves in the puddles.

We spent the evening at the Gazebo near the well, partying the night away. The staff members arranged everything for us including lights, fans, mosquito repellents & the like. The service was impeccable.

Second Day

On this day, other guests arrived & Mango Tree Resort got completely occupied. We spent the daytime either lounging by the pool or participating in the many activities available. A bunch of us also went for a bullock cart ride.

At night, it was back to dances, discussions & drinks. Mango Tree dedicated a server to us who ensured we never had to ask twice for anything.


Rating: 5 out of 5.


We would place Mango Tree Resort a notch above Baghaan Orchard Retreat because of its more polished look & feel. From the front desk itself to the rooms, every inch spoke of swankiness.

However, both the retreats are perfect for rejuvenation amidst nature!

Pawrents, please note – Pets are prohibited inside the restaurant at both the resorts. However, both also have sit – outs accompanying the restaurants where you can sit with your pet while you pig out on meals.

We would recommend booking an APAI plan in both the resorts as there are no restaurants for quite a few kilometres.

Have you been to either? What’s your experience been like?

Devprayag – The Birthplace of The Ganga

Devprayag, Birthplace, Ganga

In 2020 September, we decided to bring Fluffy home. As she was due to come to us by the third week of October, we knew we had to have a last hurrah because once she came home, we would be confined within our four walls till her vaccinations were complete.

We also had more than a long weekend with us. One of our friends had recently visited Devprayag & we thought of giving one of these Panch Prayag’s a shot.

About Devprayag

Devprayag is the town where the holy River Ganges takes shape. The rivers Alaknanda & Bhagirathi merge at this holy town to form the Ganga which then flows through the northern plains of India & end in the Bay of Bengal.

Devprayag is one of the five sacred confluences (called Panch Prayag) of the Alaknanda. Apart from the Sangam (confluence), pilgrims & tourists alike throng to the ancient Raghunathji Mandir.

For pilgrims, Devprayag is replete with holy spots – Baitalshila, Varahishila, Bhairava Shrine, Bhushandi Shrine, Durga Shrine, Pushyamal Tirth, Varah Tirth, Vishveshvara Shrine & more.

Day One

We took the Noida – Modinagar – Bijnor – Najibabad – Lansdowne – Devprayag route as we had information about the main route (NH 334 & NH 7) being constructed. Unfortunately, this alternate route had bad patches too.

When we were crossing Bijnor, we noticed a billboard at the Barrage advertising a Dolphin Jalaj Safari. In 2020 itself, the National Mission for Clean Ganga had launched Ganga Dolphin safaris at six destinations in India to preserve the river ecology & to conserve the Dolphins.

On this Dolphin Safari, tourists can also spot Gharials. Bijnor comes under the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary where, as of 2020, there were thirty-six dolphins. Now, this wildlife sanctuary is something we would like to return to someday.


Gangetic Dolphins are blind. They catch their prey with the help of ultrasonic sound waves.

We took just one break on this journey – at Kanha Farms, Bijnor – for lunch.

Kanha Farms

Kanha Farms (also called Hotel Kanha & Resort) is located on NH119. It is a hotel, restaurant & banquet hall rolled into one. There was ample space to park our vehicle. The restaurant was spacious too.

We pigged out on parathas on both our stoppages. Unfortunately, their tea was too sweet to our liking. Service was good. The washrooms were decently clean & usable.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Despite this single halt, it was late evening by the time we reached Devprayag. Well, technically not Devprayag, but Vyas Ghat, a village seventeen kms before Devprayag, where our accommodation – Banyan by The Ganges (BBTG) – was located.

Day Two

There are hops when we are out & about. And then there are hops where we just relax. Our Devprayag holiday was of the latter kind. Well, at least this day was!

This was a time when we did pranayama regularly, thanks to the COVID scare. So, our day began with a round of pranayama overlooking the river Ganges, under the banyan tree. The serene morning made our practice even better!

After breakfast, N went off for a kayaking lesson. BBTG has trained guides who create a welcoming environment for all participants. Deepak, the guide, introduced N to navigation & safety on the river. BBTG is right on the banks of the river; so, one does not have to go far either.

In the evening, we drove to Devprayag & back.

Day Three

If you are not someone who is into thrill, BBTG has easy activities too.


Deepak, a staff member took us to a nearby pristine waterfall. This is hidden; only locals & the hotel staff know about. Guests staying at BBTG become privy to this cascade. We enjoyed a heady shower under it.

The force with which the water tumbled down was quite something. The stream with the most concentration of water, there was no way we could put our heads there; it would feel like rocks coming down on our crown!

And the water temperature… Brr!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Please note that the way to the waterfall is through a mud path with uneven footholds & slopes. So, wear proper footwear & ensure you are sure – footed when you visit.


In the evening, we drove to Devprayag again but this time, to bow our heads at the Sangam. When you drive at/ after dusk from BBTG to Devprayag, there is a good chance you will see one or the other wild animal on the road. We saw a Spotted Deer! Deepak, who was accompanying us, mentioned that leopards too have been sighted on this road!

From the main road, where you can park your vehicle, you must climb downstairs, walk through a market, cross a suspension bridge over the river, climb up inclines & stairs & it is only then that you get to offer prayers!

Suspension bridges over both the rivers provide grand views – the river flowing beneath, the charming town & the sublime mountains in the background!

Raghunathji Mandir

Our first stop was the Raghunathji Mandir. It is also known as Tirukantamenum Kadi Nagar & is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Lord Rama’s sacred shrine is crowned by a conical roof.

We came to know interesting legends related to the Raghunathji Mandir. That it has existed since the Ramayana days. That the Pandavas came to the temple at the onset of the Mahabharata war. That the lost/ mythical River Saraswati flows directly below Lord Rama’s shrine. That a nearby banyan tree has mysteriously withstood all calamities.

Legends aside, the Raghunathji Mandir came into existence & its present form due to the devotion of Hindus. The Himalayas are earthquake – prone & in 1803, a quake did shatter the temple but was subsequently repaired.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Please note that you must further climb a flight of steep stairs to reach the Raghunathji Mandir.


Apart from Alaknanda & Bhagirathi, it is believed that the mythical Saraswati meets these two rivers at the confluence albeit underground. We walked up to the Sangam & waited for the evening aarti to begin.

We always think of rivers (or any water bodies) as being blue. And we think all rivers are of the same blue color. After having seen two confluences – Indus & Zanskar and Alaknanda & Bhagirathi – we can safely say that is not the case. Rivers can vary drastically in their colors; & they may not be blue all the time.

At the Devprayag Sangam, if you stand facing the meeting point, on your left will be the Bhagirathi & on your right, the Alaknanda. We were visiting right after the monsoon season; thus, both the rivers were of brownish – grey shades. The Bhagirathi was clear while the Alaknanda was muddy.

Also at the confluence were tens, if not hundreds, of Himalayan Golden Mahseer. We saw locals & pilgrims tossing dough bits to the fish who got into a mad scramble to catch it. The size of the Mahseer was huge!

The stairs on the Sangam Ghat are a good spot to meditate. The peace you will get will be unparalleled.

Soon, the aarti began. It was simple & yet peaceful. We felt the blessings of the gods on us just by being there. Despite spending only a few minutes here, we were already feeling affection for the Sangam.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Day Four

This was our last full day in Devprayag & we made the most of it by visiting the Danda Nagraja Mandir, bird watching & angling!

Danda Nagraja Mandir

Danda Nagraja is a Lord Krishna temple, 1.5 hours’ drive from BBTG. Anil, a staff member, took us there in a hotel vehicle. The temple is located on a higher altitude. Hence, on a bright day, you can see snow-capped peaks.

And we did! But we are jumping the gun. First things first – the place where you park your vehicle, an uphill path takes you to the temple. The path is a cemented one with shades provided at frequent intervals, but it is, nonetheless, uphill. So be prepared!

While we huffed & puffed our way to the top, we were greeted along the way by the chirping of birds. Being beginner bird watchers, seeing a few distinct kinds of birds brought us happiness.

Danda Nagraja Mandir is surrounded by oak & rhododendron trees. We could see that the temple held a place of reverence for locals, as well as people from across Uttarakhand.

Legend has it that Lord Krishna still resides in the temple. When devotees’ prayers are fulfilled, they return to Danda Nagraja Mandir to tie bells in the premises.

If you want to see the temple in all its festivity, make your way here in April for the Mela. Dharamshalas, shops & rest houses can be found around it.

After offering our prayers, we turned towards the viewpoint. It was a cloudless day & we got to see the peaks of Chaukhambha, Trishul, & Hathi Choti! The proverbial cherry on top!!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bird Watching

Descending from the temple, Anil took us to a forest road where we walked & spent some time watching birds. We heard many but saw only a few!

Nonetheless, it was good to be able to breathe in some clean, fresh air.


Our last activity in Devprayag was trying our hand at angling. BBTG arranged a fishing guide who took N to a spot on the banks of the Ganges to catch the Himalayan Golden Mahseer (on catch & release basis).

Mahseer is regarded as a challenge by anglers across the world. It is a perseverance test. N did not catch any fish!

Day Five

We left Devprayag to return to our home. On the way, we halted at Lansdowne Trip Travel Café as it had caught our eye on our onward journey.

Lansdowne Trip Travel Café

Lansdowne Trip Travel Café caught our eye due to its colorful décor in a rustic setting. When we browsed for more information, we became aware that it was the idea of Shipra & Amit who quit their city lives to pursue their passion.

Trip Travel Café is an artistic café & a vintage store set in a converted donkey shed. We hopped in & took our seats on the low chairs.

Then something quite interesting happened – P had seen their Instagram post featuring coffee. So, we ordered that, but the server told us that they did not have coffee that day. So, P left a comment on the Insta post regarding coffee being unavailable.

Immediately, Shipra called her staff & asked to speak with P. She apologetically explained the situation (something to do with coordination if we remember correctly). We were impressed. Not every hospitality business takes its customer complaints seriously. And this level of promptness is unheard of.

Good hospitality does make us smile!

We switched our orders to Bread Pizza, Fresh Lime Soda & Ginger Honey Lemon Tea, all of which were toothsome.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Note – Since our visit, Travel Café has moved to a new location with a new décor. We are sure the ambience & service remain as warm as ever!

This brought our Devprayag expedition to an end!

Accommodation Recommendation & Review

If you visit Devprayag purely from a pilgrimage POV, we recommend you stay in the main town. There are a few stays near the holy spots. A more popular way of visiting Devprayag is on an excursion from Rishikesh/ Pauri/ Haridwar.

However, if, like us, you visit with the desire to have the best of all worlds, then we highly recommend Banyan by The Ganges.

Banyan by The Ganges

We must thank our friend S; she truly has a knack for finding bewitching accommodations. BBTG is named after a banyan tree that stands on the banks of the Ganga.

BBTG is located on the Devprayag – Satpuli road, in a hamlet called Vyas Ghat. Everything about BBTG was captivating. The hotel premises were well – maintained.

The view of the Ganga & accessibility to it is simply excellent. Listening to the sound of the flowing river made us feel close to nature. (Not having network helped too!)

We were in the Riverfront Cottage. The cottages are Swiss Tents & thus, give you the feel of glamping. Though they are in a row, there is ample privacy.

Every cottage has a sit out ideal for meditating or simply soaking in nature. Our cottage had all the basic amenities & was comfortable. Housekeeping was on point.

BBTG has a lounge & a restaurant serving finger – licking cuisines. Over all our meals, we demolished dishes like Kadhi, Chocolate Cake, Malai Chicken, Methi Paratha, Pahadi Daal, Aloo Baigan Capsicum, Puri & Aloo Sabzi, and so many more. Our compliments to Chef Mukesh!

Servers Ashish & Ravinder ensure we ate well, always attentive to what we may need in the next moment. All the staff members ensured we had a brilliant stay.

The feature that seals the deal for our future visits – BBTG is pet – friendly!

Our Two Cents

  1. It may be difficult to access Devprayag or other nearby attractions if you do not have your own vehicle. But BBTG can arrange that for you.
  2. BBTG is better suited for adults – couples, groups of friends, people with pets etc.
  3. There is neither network nor TV nor Wi-Fi at BBTG. If you are a sucker for these, this hotel will not be the right choice for you.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

City of Joy – P’s Expedition to Kaee

City of Joy, Expedition, Kaee Contemporary

Now that I’ve summarized my Kolkata excursion (you can read that here), I’ll write a more detailed account of my days there. The first day, of course, was partly about getting to the city of not just joy, but diversity too.

A first-rate weather in Delhi NCR calmed my resfeber (noun. Swedish. The tangled feelings of fear & excitement before a journey.). The blue sky I saw from my IndiGo flight gave me hope that my expedition would go well.

The KOL airport has undergone a transformation since I was last here (2011). It’s streamlined now but still retains its compact nature; it took me barely 15 minutes from disembarking from the plane to exiting the airport.

I’d booked a Bharat Taxi; my cabbie, Fakhre Alam, promptly picked me up. Over the next four days, Alam bhai gave me a fine download of Kolkata & how it changed visibly over the last 20 years or so.

My first stop was my hotel, Fairfield by Marriott, to check in. I thank the hotel for assigning me a room with a fantastic view – from my panoramic window, I could look at the Biswa Bangla Gate, a futuristic structure; a curved metro line; & the skyline of Newtown.

It was early for lunch but I also wanted to grab a nap before heading out in the evening. So, I made my way to Chowman, an Asian restaurant owned by Debaditya Chaudhury, the founding member of a popular Bengali Rock Band, ‘Lakkhichhara’.

As I packed away on Chili Teriyaki Potato & Chowman Special Noodles (both of which were tasty), my tryst with the KOL rains began.

Luckily, when it was time to step out in the evening, the rain had ceased. I was on my way to Kaee Contemporary, an art gallery owned by Ms. Ambica Beri, whose Art Ichol I’d visited in Maihar in January. (Read my verse dedicated to Maihar here.)

It was the opening night of the exhibition, When the Other Stares Back. While I’ll write about it in detail below, let me just use one compound word to summarize it: thought – provoking!

My cousin, SD, picked me from Kaee Contemporary & we drove to Polo Floatel for dinner. At The Bridge, overlooking the river Ganges, we noshed at copious amounts of kebabs & biryani, gossiped about the past & the present, and had a fantastic time.

An adventurous Uber ride (where the driver told me he’s not the driver :D) brought me back to Fairfield & I called it wraps on Day 1.

Night View from my Room

Kaee Contemporary

Ever since I heard the name of the art gallery, I was curious to know what Kaee meant. It didn’t strike me that it referred to the Hindi word for moss. But, on visiting, my doubt was dispelled.

Like moss, Kaee Contemporary is perceptive to the changes within the environment. It elucidates Kolkata’s contemporary art ecosystem. The gallery nurtures a community of patrons, practitioners & public.

TBH, Kaee wasn’t part of my original sightseeing plans but when I came to know it was the opening night for a new exhibition the same day that I landed, I knew I’d to go. I’m glad I did!

‘When The Other Stares Back’ is an exhibition that will make you think about the dystopia we’re moving towards. It’ll move you with its dejection & it’ll frighten you with its atrocity. “What ARE we doing to our world?” is a question you’ll be forced to ask.

The very first set of art by Mr. Jagannath Panda caught my eye with its big & bright brocade birds (alliteration unintended!). The work The Custodian of Untold Truth (I) held my gaze for long. The multicolored rooster standing on an upturned Lamborghini with migrants on the move in the background (amongst other things) spoke ominously of a time when wealth will come crashing down when those whose labor helps in wealth creation will turn their backs on it.

Amongst Mr. Gigi Scaria’s work, Wrapped made me ponder about its significance for a while. It took me a few minutes to realize that this is what we’d been doing to our mountains – blasting them, cutting them, rounding them up, fencing them in & so on. We don’t even realize that in the end, it’s the mountains that will survive & not us.

Ms. Jayashree Chakravarthy’s Twigs to Creepers made me gasp. Her use of cotton, jute, paper, tea stain & the like make this piece of art so real & yet so surreal at the same time.

Ms. Radhika Agarwala’s Primordial Ooze series made me think, for a moment, that I was looking at fossils in amber. It reminded me of the multiple times I’d felt that nature will find a way, if left alone.

Ms. Sonia Mehra Chawla’s Vital to Life brought the microscopic world of plankton to the fore.

Lastly, Ms. Suhasini Kejriwal’s sepia – tinted artwork gave forth a new dimension to our everyday streets.

While many of the art works left me brooding, let me add that the opening night was also a lot of fun. For one, it gave me a chance to meet Ambica ma’am again as well as other interesting art practitioners.

The exhibition is on till 2022 September end. I’ll urge Kolkata residents to give a dekko.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Bridge

The Bridge is the casual dining restaurant at the Polo Floatel. Walking the plank to enter the ship – themed hotel, I was immediately taken in by how vibrant the decor was.

Vibrant, ship – themed Polo Floatel

I’d expected the hotel/ restaurant to bob & was disappointed when it didn’t. We chose to sit inside as the weather was pretty airless. Soon we were munching on a Non-veg Kebab Platter in which all the types were succulent. An Assam Tea Spritzer performed the role of the perfect accompaniment.

Entrée was a Kolkata Chicken Biryani. What makes a Kolkata Biryani different is the inclusion of potatoes apart from the main meat.

We called it a night with a set of pictures on the Sky Deck. The soft sound of the river in front of us & the shimmering lights of the Howrah Bridge made for a fitting end.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


A small eatery but serving pretty scrumptious Asian cuisine – who dislikes that? My initial thought was to just eat an appetizer but when my Chili Teriyaki Potato turned out to be spicy, I ordered myself a Chowman Special Noodles. This was a mixed meat noodles & was pungent.

The decor had a black & red color scheme while the centerpiece was a Buddha statue, giving the place a soothing ambience.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bharat Taxi

I’m enraptured I booked Bharat Taxi. Conveyance was my biggest apprehension as I dislike the uncertainty of app-based cabs. Bharat Taxi turned out to be the best decision of my Kolkata trip.

Coordinating with them was easy. Ms. Noori, my coordinator, understood my requirements well & remained in touch throughout my journey to ensure a hassle-free travel.

Mr. Fakhre Alam, my driver, was amiable, flexible & knew Kolkata well. Being a solo women traveler, I felt comfortable traveling with him.

No wonder Bharat Taxi is a reputed name in this service.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

That’s about my Day 1. Back with Day 2 soon.

Har Destination Kuch Kehta Hai!


Stealing & modifying the tag line of an Indian multinational paint company, we firmly believe Har Destination Kuch Kehta Hai. Every place that we’ve been to has stood out in one or the other aspect. This has led us to believe that there are no bad destinations; just unfortunate circumstances that ruin a trip.

We define & categorise destinations in seven broad classes –

Chaturbhuj Mandir, Orchha Fort

Chaturbhuj Mandir, Orchha


These are destinations where the fine architecture will attract your attention. The architecture could be heritage (like the forts of Rajasthan, India) or contemporary (like the skylines of Melbourne, Australia).

Our Architecture Destination Pick
Jhansi Fort, Uttar Pradesh

Jhansi Fort, Jhansi

The Bundelkhand region no doubt! We’ll probably never get tired of singing praises of this brave, historic land full of bonzer architecture. The Jhansi Fort is a testimony of the supreme sacrifice of Queen Laxmibai. In Orchha, you will brush past history at every turn. Khajuraho doesn’t even need too much mention; it’s already known across the globe!


Culture is a pretty all-encompassing term. A culture destination is one where you can experience fantastic cuisines, events, heritage landmarks, museums, national parks, temples etc. in one place.

Lodi Tomb, Delhi

Our Culture Destination Pick

We’re doubtless it’s India! Beguiling yet intimate, our country crackles with culture. Delhi with its ancient tombs. Sacred city of Varanasi. Romance of Rajasthan. Sunrise at Taj Mahal. Succulent idlis & dosas of Tamil Nadu. Rath Yatra of Odisha & Durga Pujo of West Bengal. More than a thousand museums sprinkled all over India. Bastion of tigers at the Corbett, Nagarhole & Bandipore reserves. Innumerable religious venues making our country the Land of Faith!


Event/ festival destinations are those that revolve around visitor – focused festivals and/ or special events endorsed by tourism boards.

Our Events Destination Pick

We can’t really pick here because we’ve not done much of events/ festival tourism. The biggest reason for this is P’s fear of crowds. But the following are on our bucket list; so, hopefully, we’ll make at least these three happen –

Stock image from Pexels Free Photos

  1. Witness a Brazilian Carnival
  2. Go to Times Square on New Year’s Eve and count down as the ball drops
  3. Watch the fireworks over Sydney Harbor on New Year’s Eve


What’s life without food? & what’s travel without some fabulous, never-tried-before food? A food destination is one which attracts food lovers with its culinary specialties or with its platter of scrumptious dishes.

Our 1st meal in Italy… a brilliantly-done Carbonara

For such destinations, you will always hear the refrain, “If you go there & don’t eat xyz, did you even go there?”

Our Food Destination Pick

As far as we remember, it’s Italy for us! Tender pasta, meaty tomato sauces, wine in Tuscany, briny olives. Our wine tasting tour, overlooking the vineyards, was straight out of a foodie’s best dream! This was a decade back but we still remember the beautiful day spent in Chianti. It was gorgeous. There wines for tasting were amazing & so were the cheeses, the olive oils, the prosciutto… Sigh!

Mount Batur, dusk

Sit & stare!


Fab, dramatic landscapes are the main attractions of Landscape Destinations. Everything else becomes secondary. These are places where you don’t have to see a particular structure or experience an event. These are places where just being there is enough. Because, all around you, is surreal landscape!

Our Landscape Destination Pick
rare sight, mountain, urbanization

Panoramas to die for!

Think landscapes, think mountains! Think mountains, think the Himalayas! For those who live in Delhi NCR, the Himalayas are the chance of awesome panoramas. There is no better way to escape reality in our opinion.

When we are in the mountains for a break, we are in awe of life every single day. If dramatic scenes do not make us believe in the beauty of life, we doubt anything else can.


A People Destination is one where we go to know more about the people of that place & to meet them. To be precise, this has to do with indigenous populations. Like the Hill Tribes of Northeast India or the Indians of North America.

Our People Destination Pick

This is again something that we’ve not done too much of. We’ve briefly met the Masai tribe in Kenya & the Bishnois of Rajasthan but it was a cursory meeting in both the cases. The following are a few of the indigenous people we would like to meet & know more about –

Stock image from Pexels Free Photos

  1. The Inuits of the Arctic
  2. The Andamanese of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India


A wildlife destination is one where you can interact with wild animals in their natural habitats. While there are countries & regions that promote active interaction, i.e., collecting and/ or hunting, we don’t support that view.

masai tribe, mara, spotted land, plain, thorn tree

Masai Mara National Reserve – bliss for wildlife lovers

For us, wildlife is best enjoyed passively, i.e., by watching or via photography. By now, we’ve spent quite a few hours bruising our backbones, jumping around in the jeep/ gypsy, doing a safari. The excitement of catching a glimpse of an elusive big cat or the contentment of watching deer sunbathing is unmatched.

Our Wildlife Destination Pick

Almost certainly, it’s the Masai Mara National Reserve for us! We’ve grown up watching nature & wildlife channels on television. The Masai Mara occupied the top spot on our list. We visited during the migration season. And boy oh boy, till date it’s one of our best memories ever!

lion, lioness, grassland, camouflage

A Lazy Lion

Imagine an unending stretch of land in front of you, with golden grass swaying in the breeze, a blue sky overhead, and here & there a spotting of acacia trees! A giraffe chomps on the thorny leaves of the acacia tree! And then a Common Eland. Then a Lion. A Cheetah. An Impala. A White-Backed Vulture. Lilac – Breasted Rollers. Wildebeest. A White – Bellied Bustard. African Elephants. A Rhinoceros. Zebras. An Ostrich. Hippopotami. Agama Lizards. A Warthog. An East African Jackal. Just remembering these sights, & writing about them, still gives us Goosebumps!

So, there are the main destination classes. What kind of destination appeals to you?

Can’t Get Enough…

Chaturbhuj Mandir, Orchha Fort
We travelled across the region of Bundelkhand,
Seeing the remnants of history.
Laxmibai’s Jhansi was the first stop,
Despite her defeat, we only saw her victory.

Orchha beckoned next,
With its fort, rivers, cenotaphs & palaces.
We wandered around the tiny town awestruck,
Till our feet developed calluses.

Orchha told us about Chhatrasaal,
The ruler who resisted the Mughals.
Dhubela had a museum dedicated to him,
His reign, we figured, was fraught with struggles.

Next up was Khajuraho,
The place that needs no introduction,
We spent sunsets & sunrises
Gaping at the magnificent construction.

Panna made for a fitting end,
Where a tigress & her cubs had us stunned,
Our attempt at poetry is pretty lame,
But not so our emotions towards Bundelkhand.

It’s a land of ravines & hills,
Fortified by strongholds & castles,
The Bundelkhand dynasties went to great lengths,
To ward off the Mughal hassles.

We’ve visited Bundelkhand again,
Orchha & Panna asked us to return,
We thought we would be less awestruck,
But there was still so much to see at every turn.

We’ll keep coming back for more,
Our hearts haven’t got enough yet.
The Ken & Betwa appear in our dreams,
Ensuring we don’t forget…
You can listen to this verse on Spotify.
  • Chaturbhuj Mandir, Orchha Fort
  • Maharani Kamlapati Chhatri, dhubela, madhya pradesh
  • sun rays, temple, light, ethereal glow
  • Kalp-Vraksh, Orchhaa
  • River Ken, Panna
  • Sunset, Panna Tiger Reserve
  • Safari, Panna Tiger Reserve
  • Barua Sagar Fort, Uttar Pradesh
  • Jhansi Fort, Uttar Pradesh

दिल का आंगन

दिल के मकान में एक आंगन है।
वो आंगन मैंने मैहर के नाम कर दिया।

अरे! मैहर तो छोटी जगह है।
इतना बड़ा आंगन क्यों दे दिया?
एक छोटा सा कमरा काफ़ी था।

मैं हँस पड़ी।

मैहर का खुला, नीला आसमान,
ये गेहूं और सरसों के खेत
वो कमल के अंगिनत झील
मैहर की त्रिकूटा पहाड़ी
और उसपे बैठी शारदा माँ
ये बाबा अलाउद्दीन का मकबरा
और वो मैहर बैंड
आर्ट इचोल में खड़ी छत्री
और जगमगाती खपरैल कोठी
तमसा के किनारे धूप सेकना
और बोगनविलिया की लालिमा निहारना…

तुम ही बताओ,
इतना कुछ कैसे समाऊँ मैं एक छोटे से कमरे में?

प्रिया पारुल

I recite this verse in the latest LGS podcast. Available on Spotify!
There are always a few people whose opinion matters to us. Ambica ma’am, of Art Ichol, turned up to be one such person for me… I’m happy she liked my verse dedicated to Maihar!
After the written word & an audio, a video was the logical next step. Enjoy the verse with a few images from our Maihar trip.


Gulabi… room & mood both!

Casalini Estate, Taradevi

New IG Reel on Casalini Estate

The Good Part

We skipped to the good part!

Taradevi Mandir, Himachal Pradesh

New IG Reel on Taradevi Temple

Excitement Of Flying!

The excitement was real! 😄 💗

What We Like About…

like, india, state, union territory, visit, canva

It may still be a bad time to talk about travel as India has emerged from the second COVID-19 wave only two months’ back. However, there is a post idea that has been on our minds for weeks now & we felt this would be the perfect time to write it down.

So, we have travelled to 21 states & 6 union territories of India. Not all of them for sightseeing but nonetheless… & something or the other has always caught our eye!

Now, even in states, a lot changes between districts. Thus, this is not a generalization but just an account of the things we have experienced & liked about a place.

So, here we go with what we like about…

Andhra Pradesh

P visited Andhra Pradesh as a child. The memories are faint but if we had to choose, it would be the beaches of Vishakhapatnam.


What to say about the state that has been home? Yet, Biharis’ zeal to achieve stands out spectacularly.


The planned sectors & the bungalows… Retiring here would not be a bad idea!


Limited exposure that too in childhood & not from a sightseeing POV

Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman Diu

We have been to Daman. Loved its laidback vibe. Also, what we coined “poor (wo)man’s Goa”!

Moti Daman Fort


Heritage, history, more heritage, more history!


The lush greenery & the intimidating Arabian Sea during monsoon


The farsan!!!

Sabarmati Riverfront


Dhabas & dhaba food!

Himachal Pradesh

The far Himachal of Lahaul, Spiti & Kinnaur… the dangerous Hindustan – Tibet Road… the friendliness of locals…

Jammu & Kashmir

Without a doubt, the valleys. & The dried berries & fruits!

  • kashmir, shikara


Limited exposure not from a sightseeing POV


The backwaters! (Yes! Unknown compared to the Kerala ones but quite pretty.)


How we can go from hills to seas in less than five hours! & The Malabar cuisine.

Between Karnataka & Kerala can be a competition for the best backwaters. We weren’t complaining though…


The sheer grit of the locals! It is a difficult terrain to live in; yet we never found a single person without a smile!

Madhya Pradesh

That fact that it is SO underrated! It has everything – hills, water bodies, geographical formations, indigenous cultures, heritage – & yet it is not the first name that pops up when we speak of ‘Incredible India’.

From the hills of Pachmarhi to the river of Orchha…
Sunset on River Betwa


The Western Ghat undoubtedly! & Konkani food!!

A pink sky on the Western Ghats


P visited Odisha as a child. But she remembers the Chilka Lake vividly…


Favourite beach town in all of India! Great food, colourful buildings, heritage, & max – chill vibe!


Mustard fields. Sarson ka saag & makke ki roti. & Harmandir Sahib.


The fact that when all north India shuts down in winter, this state comes alive! Also, the folk music! & The royalty!


How clean! How safe! How pristine!

Tamil Nadu

The headshake to start with… & Mysore Pak (We know Mysore Park originated in Karnataka, but we have always eaten Mysore Pak in TN ☹)


P visited Telangana as a child. She remembers the musical clock at the Salar Jung Museum…

Uttar Pradesh

Home. & Kashi.

Mustard fields, Eternal favorite, uttar pradesh, india


The difference between Garhwal & Kumaon. The omnipresence of rhododendrons.

West Bengal

The romanticism. Many movies & series are made with WB as the backdrop. & The outcome is nothing short of beautiful…

There is still a lot to be seen. We hope to cover at least all the states & union territories in our lifetime even if we are unable to see them in entirety. Frankly, one lifetime is inadequate to experience all of Incredible India!

Doors of Rajasthan

So we’ve been wanting to do this for a LONG time but something or the other made us put it off. Finally, the Holi post of Incredible India made us bite the bullet!

Isn’t that a treat to the eyes? So, here we go, with our version of ‘Doors of Rajasthan’!!

Doors of Rajasthan… Or colors of Rajasthan!

Do you like it? Do you’ve a version of ‘Doors of Rajasthan’ too? Please let us know in the comments.

P. S. This has to be our shortest blog post EVER!


Cheery that our Pachmarhi pic was shared by the official Incredible India Twitter handle. Gratitude… For the last few years, we’ve been trying to build a space for Let’s Go Sightseeing with NO support except from a handful of loved ones! Perseverance will pay.

Check out the retweeted post here


Varanasi in 36 hours

We still prefer referring to Varanasi as Kashi. The word ‘Kashi’ conjures up images of ancient India. After all, didn’t Mark Twain say, Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”?

Ganga Aarti, Dashashwamedh Ghat
The iconic Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat

We made our way to Varanasi on a January long weekend. We had to cancel our original train booking as it was running late. (Winter can be a little risky time to travel in north India, as flights & trains get disrupted due to fog.) We flew to Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport located in Babatpur, 26 KMS from Varanasi.

The First 12 Hours

The highway from Babatpur to Varanasi was under construction then; so, it took us a while to get to our destination. But the construction has been completed in November 2018.

New Vishwanath Mandir, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Colors of Benares New Vishwanath Mandir

Our first evening in Varanasi was reserved for a boat ride on the River Ganges. It had been a childhood dream for us to take a boat on the Ganges & watch the Ghats. As the Sun set, we made our way from the Assi Ghat to the Dashashwamedh Ghat. The gentle swaying of the boat was accompanied by the boatman’s stories. The Ghats twinkled as we floated alongside. Our hearts could not possibly be fuller.

At sunset every day, the Dashashwamedh Ghat is lit up. Priests line up for a magnificent spectacle wherein the Mother River is worshiped. We felt blessed to be watching the iconic Ganga Aarti. The aarti time makes the Ghats (& the river in front) crowded; so, ensure you get here well in time. It was a heady feeling to be a part of faith at this scale. Watching the aarti from the boat was a surreal experience too!

From the Dashashwamedh Ghat, we moved inland through the maze of lanes that are famous for small temples, eateries, shops & what not. We did not have a set agenda but as our tummies were rumbling, we stopped at Bana Lassi. We tried a Plain Lassi & a Banana Lassi. Both were lip smacking good. The cafe had a bohemian touch with floor seating & painted walls – Bob Marley featured too. The place appeals to foreign tourists. Indian youngsters would feel at home here. We could imagine curling up with a book & trying out all their lassi flavors!

lassi, bana lassi, varanasi, uttar pradesh, india
Our lassis at Bana Lassi

We roamed the Varanasi streets. The abundance of color on the roadside shops dazzled us. Look out for handicraft centers having figurines of gods & goddesses. You will be struck with the variety in color, material & size!

It was time to call it a night after some more yummy in our tummy. Varanasi is known to have one of the tastiest street foods. To validate this, we headed to Kashi Chaat Bhandaar. This place is so good that even a non – street food lover like us returned to eat more. A small, easy – to – miss shop with a handful of tables for seating. Most customers prefer to stand outside, on the road, to gobble up the goodies. The Golgappa, Gulab Jamun, Kulfi Falooda, Potato Tikki Chaat, & Samosa Chaat knocked us off. We may return to Varanasi just for this!

It was a cold January night. Chai would help us sleep better. (Well, there doesn’t really have to be a reason to have tea.) At the Assi Ghat, a kiosk called ‘Taste of Banaras‘ offered us delicious kulhad chai.

Happiness, kulhad chai, cold night, taste of benares, assi ghat, varanasi, uttar pradesh, india
Happiness is… A kulhad chai on a cold night!

The Next 24 Hours

We had traveled over the Makar Sankranti long weekend. It’s considered auspicious to take a dip in the holy river, but, with the chill, we just bowed our heads. However, we did enjoy watching the kite flying.

We hit the road soon after. The best way to get around Varanasi is on foot or take a rickshaw. Our first stop was the Tulsi Manas Mandir. This is a newer temple. It is built on the site where the Ramayana was written. The gardens around the temple were clean & well-maintained.

tulsi manas mandir, varanasi, uttar pradesh, india
Tulsi Manas Mandir. That blue!

The Sankat Mochan Mandir is dedicated to the monkey god, Lord Hanuman. As if on cue, there were a lot of monkeys roaming around. While they mind their own business, it’s a good idea not to engage with them. The temple itself is divine. It has a calming effect. It is, probably, the second popular temple in Varanasi, after the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir. There are lockers made outside the temple where it is mandatory to deposit all your belongings, including cellphones.

The Banaras Hindu University has beauty & history at one place! BHU, of course, is legendary. It was a pilgrimage of sorts to come here. The campus took our breath away with its cleanliness, greenery, & wide roads. This is one of the oldest universities in India, & you can almost feel the history when you stand in the campus.

What we liked about the new Vishwanath Mandir was that it was orderly & did not have the same chaos that other temples do. There were proper queues formed & the darshan was managed by officers. The temple is in the middle of the BHU campus & its own precincts are huge. This is a new temple & maintained quite well. Have a cold coffee with ice cream at its entrance.

new Vishwanath Mandir, shikhar, banaras hindu university, bhu, varanasi, uttar pradesh, india
The Sun plays with the new Vishwanath Mandir shikhar.

The Nepali Mandir was on our must-see list. The temple is built as a replica of the Pashupatinath Mandir. It was a hidden gem as even many locals did not know about it! It was, thus, a little difficult to find. (P.S. It is on Lalita Ghat.) But once here, we fell in love with the woodwork.

The Nepali Mandir was constructed by one of the erstwhile Nepali kings. The temple is different from all the other temples in its architectural style, materials used etc. The terrace is a good place to view the river. (There’s an entrance fee for foreigners.)

It is a lifelong dream of many Hindus to visit the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir. Glad we got a chance! The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities in Hinduism. The Kashi Vishwanath Mandir is in a narrow gully with a heavy police presence.

Many ‘priests’ will approach you for a hassle-free ‘darshan‘. You can opt for them if you want to cut the queue & do not mind parting with some money. Better to fix the amount with them beforehand. Our ‘priest’ made us buy a few offerings, got a locker for us to deposit our stuff & to remove our shoes. He, indeed, took us through some other gate where the line was shorter.

Once inside, he took us to the various parts of the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, made us worship & told us the significance of the temple. Beware: these priests have tie ups with the priests inside. So, they will make you complete a worship & ask you to donate large sums of money. It is OK to say no or give only what you want to give.

It was good to be able to visit the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, but it would have been better if there was more discipline inside. Once out after the darshan, you can feast on ‘malaiyo‘ – a thick, creamy variant of curd, available in the gullies connecting the temple to the street. Yum! After all, every puja must be followed by pet – puja.

Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, malaiyo, varanasi, uttar pradesh, india
No photos of the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir but chandan courtesy visit to the temple. Gorging on ‘malaiyo’…

(Disclaimer: The area around the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir has been cleaned of encroachments & been beautified.)

We ended our evening at the Assi Ghat. Cultural events keep happening here. The Ganga Aarti takes place at the Assi Ghat too. But as it is not as famous as the one on the Dashashwamedh Ghat, it is less crowded. We got front row seats to view this engrossing event. Morning after morning, evening after evening, it is only faith that makes this possible.

We had heard since childhood that the Banaras Ghats were not fit to step on. However, we did not encounter any such filth. All the Ghats have steps leading to the river. While hawkers & mendicants still throng these steps, there is no stinking dirt as such.

Banaras Ghats, varanasi, uttar pradesh, india
The Banaras Ghats have a life of their own!

We loved Varanasi. Delightfully vibrant! Spiritual & all-encompassing!! We understand now why people choose to spend their last days here. Kashi stole our hearts & left us wanting for more. To (mis) quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, “We’ll be back”.


We wanted to stay near the Ghats but had a difficult time finding a suitable accommodation. Thank goodness we chanced upon Hotel Banaras Haveli! It is located at a walking distance from the Assi Ghat. We could spot the Ghat & the River Ganges from our room.

River Ganges, hotel rooftop, hotel banaras haveli, varanasi, uttar pradesh, india
View of the River Ganges from the hotel rooftop

The room was comfortable with all required amenities available. Breakfast was served on the rooftop restaurant which was a great way to start the day on a winter morning. The hotel reception guys also arranged a boat for us for the evening boat ride. They also provided the airport pick & drop. All in all, a good choice!

With the Ghat being next door, & with rooms offering a view of the Ganges, we do recommend this hotel.

* Quote from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

Statue, Madan Mohan Malviya, Banaras Hindu University, BHU, varanasi, uttar pradesh, india
Statue of the Late Madan Mohan Malviya at the Banaras Hindu University


Madhya Pradesh must be the most underrated tourist destination in India. The centrally-located state has nature, heritage, & art. Yet, we neither hear much about it nor see family & friends visiting MP. We ourselves were oblivious of all that the state has to offer till we made our way there.

temple, story
Each of the temples has a story behind it.

On our maiden trip, we spent a little less than a week exploring three destinations – Khajuraho, Panna Tiger Reserve & Orchha. Here, we take you through Khajuraho with our photo-blog.

wonder, temple, construct, modern technology
We wonder how the temples were constructed then, when no modern technological marvel was available…

Khajuraho was a seat of the Chandela rulers’ authority. They built numerous temples in the town in the 9th and 10th centuries. Today, the group of temples is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

logo, UNESCO, group of temples
The logo made by UNESCO for the Group of Temples
scene, battle, daily life, shringar, meditation
Scenes from battles, from daily life, from shringar, from meditation to many more…
temple, back, craftsmen
Make it a point to go around the temple to the back; you will realize the craftsmen did not neglect the backside either!
khajuraho, erotica, hype
Khajuraho being only about erotica is a hype!

Erotic sculptures do not make up even 5% of the total. The guides will ask you if you are okay seeing & knowing more about them before they point them out to you.

temple, visit, sunrise, sunset
The temples are best visited at the time of sunrise/ sunset.

The golden hour is a good time for photography too.

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There are excavations still going on & new old temples (!) are being unearthed.
jain temple
Jain Temples

Since the Jain Temples were built around the same time, their architecture is strikingly similar to that of the Hindu temples.

Chaturbhuj Temple
Chaturbhuj Temple

The standalone Chaturbhuj Temple has a well – preserved idol of Lord Vishnu.

sun rays, temple, light, ethereal glow
When the sun rays fall on the temples, they light up with an ethereal glow.

Western Group of Temples

lord ganesha, sculpture, mesmerize, eye for detail, craftsmanship
Look for a Lord Ganesha sculpture to be mesmerized with the eye for detail & the craftsmanship.

Even the roll of His tummy fat has been sculpted with precision!

lakshmana temple, well preserved, exquisite sculpture
The Lakshmana Temple is well-preserved & has exquisite sculptures.
Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, Lord Shiva, grand
The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is easily the grandest!

It is built in the shape of Mount Meru, the source of creation of the world.

parvati temple, relatively new
The Parvati Temple (in the foreground) is a relatively new one.

It was built by one of the last Bundelkhand kings when the British were instigating religions against each other. To promote harmony, the king built this temple adopting the styles of architecture from Hinduism, Islam & Buddhism. The leftmost is a Hindu ‘shikhar’, the middle one is a Buddhist style pagoda, & the rightmost is an Islamic style dome.

temple, unique
Each of the temples has a uniqueness about it.

A light & sound show takes place in the evening at the Western Group of Temples. You can opt to see that to understand the regional history better.

temple, architecture, beauty, awe
Each of the temples has an architectural beauty that left us in awe.


love, silhouette, sculpture
We loved the silhouettes the external sculptures made.
  1. Khajuraho is best visited in the winter months – October to March. The weather is salubrious to walk around the temples. The temples become even more radiant when the winter sun rays fall on them!
  2. Khajuraho has air connectivity. Delhi – Khajuraho – Varanasi is a preferred route by tourists. We, however, opted for a train to Jhansi – road to Orchha – road to Khajuraho – flight to Delhi.
  3. Khajuraho is a paradise for architecture/ art/ history/ photography enthusiasts. However, if you are someone who yawns at heritage, pass!
khajuraho, paradise, architecture, art, history, photography, enthuse
Khajuraho is a paradise for architecture/ art/ history/ photography enthusiasts.

Khajuraho left an indelible mark on us…

Note: Apart from one temple, worship is not permitted in any of the others.