The Heritage we are proud of || Celebrating the World Heritage Day

Dharmshala & Mcleodganj have been very popular Hill Stations in Himlayan State of India (Himachal Pradesh) and it's more popular now because of wonderful Cricket Stadium there. The New Cricket Stadium at Dharmshala is hosting various IPL Cricket Matches apart from regional ckicket and many folks are coming to this beautiful town for sports as well as exploring natural beauty. This Photo Journey talks about various options around Dharmshala for better holidays with Sports !!!If you are planning to go to Dharmshala for IPL Cricket matches, apart from basic planning about travel & hotel you may want to explore some of the beautiful places around Dharmshala. Here are some of the options and you can pick a subset, as per time you haveThe very first photograph shows St. John's Church near Mcleodganj. Mcledoganj is most popular tourist place around Dharmshala with Dalai Lama's Temple and Tibetan colonies. Apart from interesting market of Mcleodganj - Chruch, Bhagsu Nag Waterfalls, Triund Trek etc can be good places to explore. To know more about places around Mcleodganj, check out - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2011/04/dharamshala-heaven-on-earth-beckons-all.htmPalampur is another interesting place, which is not as commercialized as Mcleodganj is. Palampur is rich in terms of natural beauty and also known as Tea Estate of North India. Wonderful landspaces with snow covered hills of Dhauladhar Mountain Ranges and widely spread Tea gardens. There is a famous temple on the way from Dharmshala to Palampur - Chamunda Devi ! Although these photographs don't do justice to the beauty of Palampur, but you can have a brief idea about the place by looking at - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2010/07/catch-some-amazing-views-of-snow-capped.htmFurther on, there is a wonderful drive from Palampur to Baijnath.  On the way there are some wonderful landscapes and whole road is quite good except few small stations. At Baijnath, there is a Shiva Temple made up of huge rocks and has some important stories associated. At Baijnath, Dussera is not celebrated. To know more about this temple, check out - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2009/08/historical-shiva-temple-baijnath.htm If you still have time before back journey, Bir Billing can be next destination in same direction. Bir Billing is the place for people who want to experience Paragliding. The popular site hosts Paragliding World Cup and very popular among adventure lovers. To know more about the place through photographs, check out - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2010/07/travelling-camera-sharing-some-high.htmlOn back journey towards Delhi or Chandigarh, you may plan to go via Masroor, which is small temple with a site of Archeological Survey of India - Monolithic Temples of Masroor. This is a series of temples carved out of a huge hill. A wonderful place to see... To know more about Masroor Monolithic Temples, check out - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2012/02/ellora-of-himachal-pradesh-maintained.htmlGoing further towards Una Railway Station, you will see wonderful views of Pong Dam on the way till Dehra. If interested, you can have a small diversion to go closer to this lake for spending some moments around the place. It's like a beach in North India and very peaceful, unless you encounter migratory birds... Check out more about Pong Dam Lake at - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2012/02/some-sunset-moments-with-wild-wings-of.htmlHere is another place which can be targeted, but may need sufficient time to actually explore it in better way. Check out more about bath Temples at - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2012/04/bathu-temples-dipped-inside-pong-dam.htm
There are many things that we being Indians should be thankful for. The unimaginable languages, the countless cuisines, varied landscapes are just some of them. And very important in this list is our architectural Heritage. It's the most appropriate that we pay respect to this part of our culture today as it is the World Heritage Day. This Photo Journey shares some photographs from various Indian Heritage Destinations and importance of World Heritage day, along with some interesting facts.

During one of my recent visits to Shimla, schedule was really busy and I also wanted to visit Viceregal Lodge. Usually I go to Viceregal Lodge via HPU route or walk down from Mall Road. This time the route changed and first time I climbed from Boileuganj...Here is first view we get after climbing a hill from boileuganj.I have stayed in Shimla for 3 years approximately but never went through this route, although it's quite easy and quick one to reach Viceregal Lodge. Buses for Boileuganj are very easily available from bus stand and Himachal Pradesh University. And then it's a 15 minutes climb which is not very steep.It starts from the chowk where roads from Tutoo, Summerhill, Bus-Stand and University meet. And lagoors will be there to welcome you. It's not very special because they can be found anywhere in Shimla to welcome you :)During the climb, HPTDC (Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp.) Hotel 'Peter Hoff' can be seen just below the TV tower of Shimla. Peter Hoff is one of the good hotels in Shimla and it's situated next to Viceregal Lodge. Exactly it's in the middle of Chaura Maidaan and Viceregal Lodge. Via bus, it's accessible from 103. 103 is a bus stop near tunnel-no 103 and very popular stop in Shimla.New Bus Stand of Shimla is also visible during the climb. This is first time I saw this bus stand and it was amazing. I wanted to compare it with IGI airport but stopped myself :) ... But for sure, it's best among all the bus stands we have in North India at least. it's situated near Dhali. Old bus stand has been converted into Local bus stand and there are regular shuttles between new and old bus-stands. While coming back to Delhi, I did some mobilegiri at Shimla Bus stand and will share soon...Himachal Pradesh Judicial Academy also comes on the way from Boileuganj to Viceregal Lodge.It's a wonderful walk from Boileuganj to Viceregal Lodge as whole stretch is full of trees and nice flowers around. At times it feels like you are crossing through some garden. There are some governments residences as well, which makes this hill more lively.Apart from some institutes and houses, there are some buildings which seemed to be locked for last many years. But somehow, colors lie about these buildings. The building above shown was closed from all the directions and there seemed to be a long silence around the place.After a quick climb, we reached Viceregal Lodge. It was so quick that I forgot to mention that one of my cousin was accompanying me and we also discussed some changes happening in his institute in HPU (UIIT). Overall this was a fastest route to Viceregal Lode but probably I will still prefer the longer route which comes through Vidhan-Sabha, Cecil etc.
   

At Travellingcamera, we love visiting various Heritage sites in the country and have been to some very important Heritage Destinations so far. Here we don't want to repeat the same but would definitely want to share some facts about the Heritage in India, the way it's being maintained and celebrations on World Heritage Day today.


Some time back I shared about recent visit to Bada Imambara in Lucknow, which also has a maze which is popularly known as 'Bhool Bhulaiya'. This Photo Journey shares some interesting facts about Bhool Bhulaiya with appropriate photographs. Bhool Bhulaiya is probably one of best things to explore in Lucknow town and it's more fun to explore without any guide. At times guides can also add fun to this exploration process, because they also understand that people come to see a maze to have some interesting experience of getting lost. Above two photographs shows the way this maze is created. There are series of entry and exit points on both sides of this corridor. This one is one of the extreme corridors which was easy to click. Inside the maze, light was extremely low, so couldn't capture a good photographs inside the bhool bhulaiya. This photograph shows the roof-top of bhool bhuliyaa which offers some amazing views of the city on one side and Bada Imambara campus on the other. Many of the local folks in Lucknow highly recommend a visit to Bada Imambara. Lot of guides wait for tourists to serve them with a guided tour of bada Imambada and Bhool bhulaiya. Some of the guides are brilliant who take you through the tour in interesting way and ensure that you enjoy this exploration. At times, people suggest not to have a guide when going inside this maze called Bhool Bhulaiya. We also preferred not to have any guide at Bhool Bhulaiya. As we entered inside the maze, we were uncomfortable and not sure how much time it will take to come out. But it was fun to be lost and suddenly you start feeling that it's impossible to get out of this maze now. Now the trick is to follow any group which has a guide with them :) . We did the same and came out. There is a basic rule of coming out of this maze. If you want to know the trick, check out bottom of this post and if you want to have real fun, ignore it now and may come back when stuck inside. In my opinion, Bhool Bhulaiyaa is one of the best things to explore inside Bada Imambara complex. It's a must do thing in Lucknow to explore Bhool Bhulaiya and have fun with your friends & family.READ ONLY IF YOU HAVE NEVER WENT INSIDE THE MAZE - As promised, let us share the basic rule of coming out of Bhool Bhulaiya if you don't have guide with you and are stuck inside for a long time. Always take stairs going up and gradually they will lead to the roof-top. I am assuming that you are reading it while inside the maze and stuck, otherwise I will apologize to spoil the fun.

Every year on 18 April, International Day for Monuments and Sites is celebrated across the world.18th April was decided to mark this celebration by UNESCO General Conference during 1983.

The aim of the World Heritage Day is to encourage local communities and individuals throughout the world to consider the importance of cultural heritage to their lives, identities and communities. And respect the diversity and vulnerability associated. Most of the countries put appropriate efforts to protect Heritage and conserve it. It's very important for generations to know about the Heritage and facts associated. All this tells us the way civilization is evolving and the way things change every decade.


18 April is celebrated all over the world by a wide range of organisations, small communities & individuals. On this special occasion groups meet at various Heritage locations or plan campaigns to make society aware about importance of Heritage. Various other events include conferences/seminars, Photography/Art exhibitions, competitions, excursions and lot more.


 Today when I started compiling this post, I was wondering that all can be tagged as Heritage? And I guess, simple answer is whatever we have got from our past is Heritage and things which are tagged as Heritage, must be built for a reason. There are various stories associated with these Heritage Elements and tell us the way we live in current society. How some of the elements of current living style are influenced by things happened in past, which can be witnessed through these Heritage Elements.


Here is a link which shares about various Heritage sites in India - http://asi.nic.in/asi_monu_whs.asp


There are 30 World Heritage Sites in India that are recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) till last year. India’s first two sites inscribed on the list at the Seventh Session of the World Heritage held in 1983 were the Agra Fort and the Ajanta Caves. Of these 30 sites, 24 are cultural sites and the other six are natural sites. A tentative list of further sites/properties submitted by India for recognition includes 33 sites, probably more now. To know more about some of these Indian Heritage sites, check out - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_India

When we were planning our trip to Kinnaur, a visit to Sarahan was also planned. Before starting from Delhi we had researched enough about places we should not miss when visiting a town or village on the way. But still many things surprised us and this Rajmahal just behind Bhimakali Temple was one of them. This Photo Journey is trying to share some moments spent around this Rajmahal with huge campus near the famous Bhimakali Temple in Sarahan town of Shimla district in Himachal Pradesh.Architecture of this Rajmahal was almost similar to one which we saw in Rampur, Shimla.  We visited Sarahan next day after exploring Rampur and Jeori. If you have missed our old post on Ramapur Kingdom, just check it out at - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2013/05/rajmahal-at-rampur-bushahr-in-shimla.htmlUsually people know Sarahan because of Bhimakali Temple and folks are hardly worried about this huge campus. But above view caught our attention and these huge houses made us explore possibilities to go there and see. Initially people were hesitant about telling that property belongs to Raja Virbhadra Singh, but gradually we got to know. While having snacks in the market, someone told us that visitors are also allowed inside this campus. He guided us through the main gate where we requested the gate-keeper. He allowed us to go inside and see some of these huge complexesAs we entered, there was a very well maintained road connecting all Apple orchards & houses. First we crossed few apple trees on boths sides and then there was a gate on right which was a direct entry for Bhimakali Temple. Bhimakali Temple has two main entries, one is from main market and other is from this Rajmahal campus. If you haven't checked our Photo Journey on Bhimakali Temple, check it out at - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2013/05/bheemakali-temple-sarahan-town-shimla.htAs we moved close to these huge buildings, we noticed that some families were living there. We didn't ask much but it seems, these were families of folks who were taking care of this whole campus full of Apple Orchards, different buildings and few small temples as well.At the end of this internal road, there is a huge building which was probably the largest one among all. This was named as 'Shrikhand View'. Above photograph shows one of the main gates for this building. Initially we were hesitating to enter inside this building but staff there was quite welcoming and they guided us through the whole building.There is a huge lawn around this building and above photograph is clicked form lawn only. Photograph shows view of hills above the main Rajmahal. The very first photograph of this Photo Journey shows this great lawn with main Rajmahal building in the background.This whole campus is surrounded by Pine forests. In fact whole Sarahan town is mainly surrounded by Pine and Apple Trees :)Sarahan Palace was alos capital pf former princely state of Bushair for several centuries. Sarahan is famous for it's legends, hilly architecture, special culture and amazing beauty of nature all aroundIt's on hill top and there is a deep valley next to it which ends at Satluj River. One can see snow covered peaks of Shirkhand mountains and that is why one of the main Palace is known as Shirkhand View PalaceSummer capital of Rampur Bushahr which is one of the biggest princely states in the Shimla region is mainly popular for Bhimkali Temple. Sarahan presents striking spectacle of snow-covered Himalayan ranges and a picture of unspoilt pastoral loveliness. It beholds the construction technic of more than 800 years old and also gives a good opportunity to study the western Himalayan architecture.Shrikhand view has a huge campus and many rooms attached to it. It seems, some of the rooms have not been opened for many years. Some of them have very old styled locks and chains.With its two multi-tiered sanctuary ters, elegantly sloping slate-tiled roofs, and gleaming golden spires, Sarahan Palace & Bhimakali Temple are few of the most majestic of the few early timber architectures left in the Sutlej Valley... This is an area renowned for its unusual tradition of housing holy shrines on raised wooden platforms.Following page has some nice details about Sarahan Town, Bhimakali Temple and Sarahan Palace - http://www.trancehimalaya.info/p/sarahan.htmlNotice these chains and locks, which are still in use at Sarahan Palace. There are some small temples inside the Palace as wellThese huge seating areas in Placae balconies are really royalBhimakali Temple was made at the order of Raja Shamsher Singh in the mid-nineteenth century. The sanctum also contains a fabulous collection of Hindu as well as Buddhist bronzesOne of the most interesting structures of the timber-bonded style is Raja Bushahr Palace cum Temple Complex which has been described as one of the finest specimens of hilly architecture. Almost 2000 years old, and like all buildings of the hill type, it is built of layers of rubble masonry and beams of cedar wood A View of Bhimakali Temple from Sarahan Palace and few apple trees can be seen on the foreground

Some of the popular World Heritage sites in India include - Ellora Caves, Ajanta Caves, Agra Fort, Taj Mahal, Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Sun Temple, Konarak, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Kaziranga National Park, Keoladeo National Park, Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Group of Monuments at Hampi, Churches and Convents of Goa, Fatehpur Sikri, Sundarbans National Park, Great Living Chola Temples, Elephanta Caves, Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Humayun's Tomb, Mountain Railways of India, Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, The Red Fort complex, Jantar Mantar, Western Ghats, Hill Forts of Rajasthan

When you are in Lucknow and creating a priority list of things to do, Bada Imambada is something you should keep on top. This Photo Journey is sharing some photographs of Bada Imambada with appropriate reasons visiting it, even when you have very less time in hand.Some time back I was in Lucknow for a wedding and thought of moving out for some time. After talking to friends in Lucknow, looking at city map I thought of going straight to Bada Imambada and keep my plan flexible.One of the main reasons to visit Bada Imambada was it's popularity which exposes you to beautiful architecture & gives you a sense of the city through people who visit this place. Lot of folks come to this place, you meet interesting guides at this place and has a small market at entry gate where you can buy some souvenirs. Lot of activities happen around this area of the city, through which you get better understanding of the place, it's residents, culture and lot more which we never expect from such places in an Indian city. To my surprise, Lucknow was quite different than what I had imagined and it kept me surprised on regular basis.Auto-Rikshaw is one of the best ways to explore the city. Various parts of Lucknow city are connected well through buses, shared/private Auto-Rickshaws & rickshaws. One needs to negotiate well with Auto-Rickshaw people but definitely the negotiation process is quite happy as compared to Delhi/Noida :). As Lucknow is know for 'tehzeeb', you can clearly see that people in city are polite and sensible. Although you always find exceptions, if you have a bad day.Another reason for choosing Bada Imambada is - Bhool-Bhulaiyaa. Bhool Bhulaiya is located inside Bada imambada campus, which is one of the main places to explore in Lucknow city. This is very interesting place which shouldn't be explored with any guide :). Yes, you read it right. The real fun lies in going inside bhool bhulaiya without any guide and try to figure out your way out. It can be difficult & frustrating when you always lead to wrong path, but it's fun and you feel like winner when you come out of it. We didn't hire any guide and went indie Bhool bhulaiya. After a while we were frustrated by the fact and everyone inside the Bhool bhulaiya was telling wrong path and situations were not even better when you don't follow anyone. But soon after to crack the logic and come out of it. There is a thumb rule, which I don't want to share on this blog. So just visit yourself and have fun. It is possibly the only existing maze in India and came about unintentionally to support the weight of the building which is constructed on marshy land.Bada Imambada was built by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Lucknow, in 1784. It is also known as Asafi Imambada, but people hardly recognize this name except few from the city. Bada means big, and an imambada is a shrine built by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari. The Bada Imambada is among the grandest buildings of Lucknow city and probably state as well.Bada Imambada a huge campus which is well maintained, in my opinion. I liked the way cleanness is maintained and authorities maintain some rules to keep it clean and maintained. There are different type of tickets for entry inside Bada Imambada. We took 50 Rs ticket, which included everything inside the campus - Bhool Bhualaiyaa, Asfi Mosque, a grave of Asaf ud-Daula under a canopy, Shahi Bawli, Domed Chamber, Hallways, Rumi Darwaja, Tazia & Zari.Asfi Mosque looks similar to Jama Masjid in Delhi, but it was closed when we visited. Not sure, if it was temporary thing or mosque remains closed. It's quite inspiring to know that Nawab started to build this campus for providing work and food to folks around this region. It seems that Bada Imambada was built just because to provide some work to folks for earning food for their families.Above photograph shows a grave of Asaf ud-Daula under a canopy. This is located just below Bhool Bhulaiya on the ground floor. One needs to take of shoes to go inside. It's one of the most colorful and well maintained part of Bada Imambada. This part of the campus is very well lit with colorful lights.Above photograph shows main mosque on the left and gateway on right. This gateway takes visitors inside the main campus and there is a road on the other side which goes to Chhota Imambada.There is a huge area in front of Bhool Bhulaiya, where families & friends like to sit down and enjoy the view of mosque, gardens and other things in Bada Imambada campus.One can see some guides burning a matchbox stick at the other end of the balconies that have openings to the Central Hall. It's another significant and architectural art in Bada Imambada campus.  You can listen the sound  of a match stick at the other end of the hall.  It is really interesting and seems unbelievable. There are many interesting things about the place and local guides play a good role in helping you exploring all this. If you happen to hire a guide, don't take his help in Bhool bhulaiya unless you are extremely frustrated.A beautiful view of Mosque & main gate from Bhool Bhulaiya. Top of Bhool bhulaiya offers bird's eye view of monuments, the Roomi Darwaja, the Gates, Asifi Masjid, Clock Towers, Laxman Tila Masjid,  Gomti river and the busy streets of Lucknow city.Chhota Imambada is visible from roof-top of Bhool-bhulaiya. We didn't have much time so preferred to visit Ganj instead of going towards Chhota Imambada.A caution - If you plan to explore the city using Auto, make sure that you don't change your plans as per information provided by them. Like other tourist destinations, Auto-walas try to take you to shops to earn some commission out of your purchase. We also ended up buying some stuff from lucknow because of our Auto-wala who took us to Ganj after Bada Imambada.Asafi Masjid which you can see in above photograph has sculptured domes and minarets. This mosque provides a most beautiful sight. If you are in Lucknow on Friday, make sure that you plan your visit when thousands of folks come here for namaz.Shahi Bawli is another interesting place inside this campus. This royal well is just opposite to the mosuqe. One can go downstairs to see the well with blue water on surface and the bathrooms constructed around the well on ground, first and second floors of the Well. Above photograph shows water in the middle of this well with mutual-layered building around it.  If you have a look from one side of the well, you can see in the water - the image of person approaching the well. Different guide service can be availed at Bawli, although one can notice this easily.

Apart from visiting the Royal Tank, Deer Park and various restaurants of Hauz Khas Village we also spent some time around Firoz Shah's Tomb in Green park, Delhi. Let's have a Photo Journey to the place with some information picked from various sources... The very first photograph of this PHOTO JOURNEY is main entry into the Tomb of Firoz Shah, his two Sons and a Grandson. The above Photograph is not exactly Tomb but some other ruins in the garden of Hauz Khas Village in Delhi.Firoz Shah's Tomb at Hauz Khas Village was repaired during the reign of Sikandar Lodhi in 1507 AD. This is evidenced from an inscription on the entrance. The main impression is one of solidity and lack of decoration, which is typical part of Tuglaq Style. Apart from this Tomb there is a Madarasa, Pavillions, Mosque as well..Among the notable buildings of historical importance that Firoz Shah built within Hauz Khas Village precincts is the domed tomb for himself. The tomb which is very austere in appearance, is located at the intersection of the two arms of the L–shaped building which constitutes the madrasa.Firuz Shah who had established the tomb, ascended the throne in 1351 when he was middle aged, as the third ruler of the Khilji dynasty and ruled till 1388. He was considered a well–liked ruler. His wife was a Hindu lady and his trusted Prime Minister, Khan-i-Jahan Junana Shah was a Hindu convertFiroz Shah's Tomb at Hauz Khas Village is a square chamber which is made of local quartzite rubble with a surface plaster finish that sparkled in white color when completed. The door, pillars and lintels were made of grey quartzites, while red sandstone was used for carvings of the battlementsEntry to the tomb is through a passage in the south leading to the doorway. The passage wall is raised on a plinth which depicts the shape of a fourteen phased polyhedron built in stones. Three horizontal units laid over eight vertical posts that are chambered constitute the plinth. Squinches and muqarnas are seen in the solid interior walls of the tomb and these provide the basic support to the octagonal spherical dome of the tomb.Firoz Shah assisted by his Prime Minister was responsible for building several unique monuments (mosques, tombs, pavilions), hunting lodges and irrigation projects (reservoirs) in his domains, apart from establishing and constructing a new Citadel (palace) in his new city of Firuzabad. Feruz died at the age of ninety due to infirmities caused by three years of illness between 1385 and 1388. On his death, his grandson Ghiya Suddin was proclaimed as his successor to the throne. During his enlightened rule he abolished many vexatious taxes, brought in changes in the laws on capital punishment, introduced regulations in administration and discouraged lavish living styles. But the most important credit that is bestowed on him is for the large number of public works executed during his reign namely, 50 dams for irrigation across rivers, 40 mosques, 30 colleges,  100 hospitals, 100 public baths, 150 bridges, apart from many other monuments of aesthetic beauty and entertainmentThe width of the gate is equal to one-third of tombs' width. The entrance hall has fifteen bays and terminates in another doorway which is identical to the gateway at the entranceThe door way of Firoz Shah's Tomb at Hauz Khas Village depicts a blend of Indian and Islamic architecture. Another new feature not seen at any other monument in Delhi, built at the entrance to the tomb from the south, is the stone railings.  The second doorway of the Hauz Khas Tomb leads to the tomb chamber and cenotaph, which are accessed from the gateway through the L–shaped corridor. Similar arrangement is replicated on the western doorway of the tomb leading to the open pavilion on the westThere are four graves inside the tomb, one is of Feruz Shah and two others are of his son and grand son..The ceiling in the dome depicts a circular gold medallion with Quranic inscriptions in Naksh characters. Foliated crenellations are seen on the outer faces of the base of the tomb. Interesting features seen on the northern and southern sides of the tomb, considered typical of the Tuglaq period layout, are the ceremonial steps provided at the ground level that connect to the larger steps leading into the reservoir.The maximum height of the tomb is on its face overlooking the reservoir. The domed gateway on the north has an opening which has height equal to two–thirds the height of the tomb. More details about Firoz Shah's Tomb in Hauz Khas Village can be seen at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hauz_Khas_Complex

Dharmshala & Mcleodganj have been very popular Hill Stations in Himlayan State of India (Himachal Pradesh) and it's more popular now because of wonderful Cricket Stadium there. The New Cricket Stadium at Dharmshala is hosting various IPL Cricket Matches apart from regional ckicket and many folks are coming to this beautiful town for sports as well as exploring natural beauty. This Photo Journey talks about various options around Dharmshala for better holidays with Sports !!!If you are planning to go to Dharmshala for IPL Cricket matches, apart from basic planning about travel & hotel you may want to explore some of the beautiful places around Dharmshala. Here are some of the options and you can pick a subset, as per time you haveThe very first photograph shows St. John's Church near Mcleodganj. Mcledoganj is most popular tourist place around Dharmshala with Dalai Lama's Temple and Tibetan colonies. Apart from interesting market of Mcleodganj - Chruch, Bhagsu Nag Waterfalls, Triund Trek etc can be good places to explore. To know more about places around Mcleodganj, check out - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2011/04/dharamshala-heaven-on-earth-beckons-all.htmPalampur is another interesting place, which is not as commercialized as Mcleodganj is. Palampur is rich in terms of natural beauty and also known as Tea Estate of North India. Wonderful landspaces with snow covered hills of Dhauladhar Mountain Ranges and widely spread Tea gardens. There is a famous temple on the way from Dharmshala to Palampur - Chamunda Devi ! Although these photographs don't do justice to the beauty of Palampur, but you can have a brief idea about the place by looking at - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2010/07/catch-some-amazing-views-of-snow-capped.htmFurther on, there is a wonderful drive from Palampur to Baijnath.  On the way there are some wonderful landscapes and whole road is quite good except few small stations. At Baijnath, there is a Shiva Temple made up of huge rocks and has some important stories associated. At Baijnath, Dussera is not celebrated. To know more about this temple, check out - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2009/08/historical-shiva-temple-baijnath.htm If you still have time before back journey, Bir Billing can be next destination in same direction. Bir Billing is the place for people who want to experience Paragliding. The popular site hosts Paragliding World Cup and very popular among adventure lovers. To know more about the place through photographs, check out - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2010/07/travelling-camera-sharing-some-high.htmlOn back journey towards Delhi or Chandigarh, you may plan to go via Masroor, which is small temple with a site of Archeological Survey of India - Monolithic Temples of Masroor. This is a series of temples carved out of a huge hill. A wonderful place to see... To know more about Masroor Monolithic Temples, check out - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2012/02/ellora-of-himachal-pradesh-maintained.htmlGoing further towards Una Railway Station, you will see wonderful views of Pong Dam on the way till Dehra. If interested, you can have a small diversion to go closer to this lake for spending some moments around the place. It's like a beach in North India and very peaceful, unless you encounter migratory birds... Check out more about Pong Dam Lake at - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2012/02/some-sunset-moments-with-wild-wings-of.htmlHere is another place which can be targeted, but may need sufficient time to actually explore it in better way. Check out more about bath Temples at - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2012/04/bathu-temples-dipped-inside-pong-dam.htm

Jaipur is one of the most visited city by Delhites and same is the story with us as well. Few weeks back, we were again in Jaipur - The Pink City of India. This Photo Journey shares some moments/places captured during quick drive inside the city. let's check out...Jaipur is one of the finest planned cities of India which is located in the semi-desert lands of Rajasthan State. Jaipur city which once had been the capital of the royalty now is the capital city of Rajasthan State of India.Overall structure of Jaipur resembles the taste of the Rajputs and the Royal families. These days Jaipur is one of the major business centers with all requisites of a metropolitan city. When I visited the city first time, I found it very cluttered but with time and more exploration made me realize that city has two parts. One is basically old Jaipur and other part is new Jaiput which is very well planned. Above photograph is shot near Tonk road where most of the main hotels are located and few mallsJaipur has a very delectable cuisine. Some of the local dishes have become world-famous names. Typical dishes include Dal Baati Churma, Missi Roti etc. Sweet dishes include Ghevar, Feeni, Gajak, Chauguni ke laddu, Moong Thal...Very first Photo Journey on Jaipur is still one of the most popular photo-stories on this blog, although I am not sure about the logic :) ... With time, I have noticed huge change in this city and with each visit, I like it more...Jaipur is also known as the City of Victory. Jaipur City is chaotic and congested, though it still has a habit of tickling travelers pink. Stunning hilltop forts and glorious palaces fit like footprints from a rich royal past, candyfloss-bright turbans blaze a trail through brilliant bargain-filled bazaars, and fluttering saris catch the eye like butterflies...(Courtesy - http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/rajasthan/jaipur)Jaipur has a number of forts and monuments like Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Jal Mahal, Rambagh Palace, Central Museum, Albert Hall Museum. The Rose Pink City in India founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II. All these are major attractions for visitors. Jaipur is surrounded on all sides by rugged hills, crowned with forts & enclosed by embattled walls. Some part of Jaipur can still be seen in pink color but not very well followed in new part of the town.Here is the photograph of Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha. Jaipur is largest city in Rajasthan and was built in the eighteenth century by Sawai Jai Singh as India's first planned city. Jaipur is a major tourist attraction amongst Indian as well as international travellers. Jaipur belongs to the tourist Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, which hosts several attractions like the City Palace, Govind Dev ji Temple, Vidhan Sabha, Birla Temple, several massive Rajput forts and so on. It also serves as a stepping stone for travelers heading to the desert cities of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.A view of Jal Mahal from Jaigarh Fort.Various festivals are organized in Jaipur at various time of the year. Some of them include Gangaur Festival, Jaipur Literature Festival, Kite festival, Teej festival, Shitla Mata Fair, Chaksu Fair, Elephant Fair, Chhat ka mela in Amber during Navratri...Bramhiny starling, which we saw near Amber Fort @ Jaipur, Rajasthan.

While going to Kinnaur we stopped at Rampur for Lunch and spent some time around Rajmahal which is just on roadside. This Photo Journey shares some of the photographs from old Rajmahal Campus.While passing through the town we noticed these beautiful buildings on road-side. It was evening when we were crossing Rampur and target was to reach jeory. We planned to stop during back journey. Following link has really interesting details about Rampur Town and stories around these buildings - http://mysterioushimachal.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/know-about-history-of-rampur-bushar-many-name-many-legend/The principality of Bashahr was once among the largest of the twenty-eight Shimla Hill States under the administration of the British Raj keen to invest on regional and transcontinental trade and exploit Himalayan resources. It bordered on the north with Spiti, on the east with Tibet, on the south with Garhwal, and on the west with Jubbal, Kotkhai, Kumharsain, Kotgarh, and Kulu.On the 8th March 1948, along with twenty other princely hill States of Punjab and Shimla, Bashahr signed an agreement which resulted in its inclusion in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh.Rampur Town is located on river-side. River Satluj flow through main town and there are huge buildings hanging around high hills of Himachal Pradesh. After having lunch we spent sometime in the balcony of the hotel having amazing views of fast flow water in Setluj River. Although water is muddy most of the times because the flow is hindered on the way by various hydro projects and there are few other water-sources which hit the main river.Rajmahal in Rampur is located near to Bus Stand of the town. There is gate on left side of the Bus-Stand which is main entry to Rajbhavan. The day we went there, it was under renovation and there was hardly anyone in the huge ground in front of it. Initially we thought that public is not allowed inside the premises, but after confirming from others we entered into this huge campus in the middle of Rampur Town


Delhi is also there in the list of  World Heritage Cities.

When you are in Lucknow and creating a priority list of things to do, Bada Imambada is something you should keep on top. This Photo Journey is sharing some photographs of Bada Imambada with appropriate reasons visiting it, even when you have very less time in hand.Some time back I was in Lucknow for a wedding and thought of moving out for some time. After talking to friends in Lucknow, looking at city map I thought of going straight to Bada Imambada and keep my plan flexible.One of the main reasons to visit Bada Imambada was it's popularity which exposes you to beautiful architecture & gives you a sense of the city through people who visit this place. Lot of folks come to this place, you meet interesting guides at this place and has a small market at entry gate where you can buy some souvenirs. Lot of activities happen around this area of the city, through which you get better understanding of the place, it's residents, culture and lot more which we never expect from such places in an Indian city. To my surprise, Lucknow was quite different than what I had imagined and it kept me surprised on regular basis.Auto-Rikshaw is one of the best ways to explore the city. Various parts of Lucknow city are connected well through buses, shared/private Auto-Rickshaws & rickshaws. One needs to negotiate well with Auto-Rickshaw people but definitely the negotiation process is quite happy as compared to Delhi/Noida :). As Lucknow is know for 'tehzeeb', you can clearly see that people in city are polite and sensible. Although you always find exceptions, if you have a bad day.Another reason for choosing Bada Imambada is - Bhool-Bhulaiyaa. Bhool Bhulaiya is located inside Bada imambada campus, which is one of the main places to explore in Lucknow city. This is very interesting place which shouldn't be explored with any guide :). Yes, you read it right. The real fun lies in going inside bhool bhulaiya without any guide and try to figure out your way out. It can be difficult & frustrating when you always lead to wrong path, but it's fun and you feel like winner when you come out of it. We didn't hire any guide and went indie Bhool bhulaiya. After a while we were frustrated by the fact and everyone inside the Bhool bhulaiya was telling wrong path and situations were not even better when you don't follow anyone. But soon after to crack the logic and come out of it. There is a thumb rule, which I don't want to share on this blog. So just visit yourself and have fun. It is possibly the only existing maze in India and came about unintentionally to support the weight of the building which is constructed on marshy land.Bada Imambada was built by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Lucknow, in 1784. It is also known as Asafi Imambada, but people hardly recognize this name except few from the city. Bada means big, and an imambada is a shrine built by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari. The Bada Imambada is among the grandest buildings of Lucknow city and probably state as well.Bada Imambada a huge campus which is well maintained, in my opinion. I liked the way cleanness is maintained and authorities maintain some rules to keep it clean and maintained. There are different type of tickets for entry inside Bada Imambada. We took 50 Rs ticket, which included everything inside the campus - Bhool Bhualaiyaa, Asfi Mosque, a grave of Asaf ud-Daula under a canopy, Shahi Bawli, Domed Chamber, Hallways, Rumi Darwaja, Tazia & Zari.Asfi Mosque looks similar to Jama Masjid in Delhi, but it was closed when we visited. Not sure, if it was temporary thing or mosque remains closed. It's quite inspiring to know that Nawab started to build this campus for providing work and food to folks around this region. It seems that Bada Imambada was built just because to provide some work to folks for earning food for their families.Above photograph shows a grave of Asaf ud-Daula under a canopy. This is located just below Bhool Bhulaiya on the ground floor. One needs to take of shoes to go inside. It's one of the most colorful and well maintained part of Bada Imambada. This part of the campus is very well lit with colorful lights.Above photograph shows main mosque on the left and gateway on right. This gateway takes visitors inside the main campus and there is a road on the other side which goes to Chhota Imambada.There is a huge area in front of Bhool Bhulaiya, where families & friends like to sit down and enjoy the view of mosque, gardens and other things in Bada Imambada campus.One can see some guides burning a matchbox stick at the other end of the balconies that have openings to the Central Hall. It's another significant and architectural art in Bada Imambada campus.  You can listen the sound  of a match stick at the other end of the hall.  It is really interesting and seems unbelievable. There are many interesting things about the place and local guides play a good role in helping you exploring all this. If you happen to hire a guide, don't take his help in Bhool bhulaiya unless you are extremely frustrated.A beautiful view of Mosque & main gate from Bhool Bhulaiya. Top of Bhool bhulaiya offers bird's eye view of monuments, the Roomi Darwaja, the Gates, Asifi Masjid, Clock Towers, Laxman Tila Masjid,  Gomti river and the busy streets of Lucknow city.Chhota Imambada is visible from roof-top of Bhool-bhulaiya. We didn't have much time so preferred to visit Ganj instead of going towards Chhota Imambada.A caution - If you plan to explore the city using Auto, make sure that you don't change your plans as per information provided by them. Like other tourist destinations, Auto-walas try to take you to shops to earn some commission out of your purchase. We also ended up buying some stuff from lucknow because of our Auto-wala who took us to Ganj after Bada Imambada.Asafi Masjid which you can see in above photograph has sculptured domes and minarets. This mosque provides a most beautiful sight. If you are in Lucknow on Friday, make sure that you plan your visit when thousands of folks come here for namaz.Shahi Bawli is another interesting place inside this campus. This royal well is just opposite to the mosuqe. One can go downstairs to see the well with blue water on surface and the bathrooms constructed around the well on ground, first and second floors of the Well. Above photograph shows water in the middle of this well with mutual-layered building around it.  If you have a look from one side of the well, you can see in the water - the image of person approaching the well. Different guide service can be availed at Bawli, although one can notice this easily.



When you are in Lucknow and creating a priority list of things to do, Bada Imambada is something you should keep on top. This Photo Journey is sharing some photographs of Bada Imambada with appropriate reasons visiting it, even when you have very less time in hand.Some time back I was in Lucknow for a wedding and thought of moving out for some time. After talking to friends in Lucknow, looking at city map I thought of going straight to Bada Imambada and keep my plan flexible.One of the main reasons to visit Bada Imambada was it's popularity which exposes you to beautiful architecture & gives you a sense of the city through people who visit this place. Lot of folks come to this place, you meet interesting guides at this place and has a small market at entry gate where you can buy some souvenirs. Lot of activities happen around this area of the city, through which you get better understanding of the place, it's residents, culture and lot more which we never expect from such places in an Indian city. To my surprise, Lucknow was quite different than what I had imagined and it kept me surprised on regular basis.Auto-Rikshaw is one of the best ways to explore the city. Various parts of Lucknow city are connected well through buses, shared/private Auto-Rickshaws & rickshaws. One needs to negotiate well with Auto-Rickshaw people but definitely the negotiation process is quite happy as compared to Delhi/Noida :). As Lucknow is know for 'tehzeeb', you can clearly see that people in city are polite and sensible. Although you always find exceptions, if you have a bad day.Another reason for choosing Bada Imambada is - Bhool-Bhulaiyaa. Bhool Bhulaiya is located inside Bada imambada campus, which is one of the main places to explore in Lucknow city. This is very interesting place which shouldn't be explored with any guide :). Yes, you read it right. The real fun lies in going inside bhool bhulaiya without any guide and try to figure out your way out. It can be difficult & frustrating when you always lead to wrong path, but it's fun and you feel like winner when you come out of it. We didn't hire any guide and went indie Bhool bhulaiya. After a while we were frustrated by the fact and everyone inside the Bhool bhulaiya was telling wrong path and situations were not even better when you don't follow anyone. But soon after to crack the logic and come out of it. There is a thumb rule, which I don't want to share on this blog. So just visit yourself and have fun. It is possibly the only existing maze in India and came about unintentionally to support the weight of the building which is constructed on marshy land.Bada Imambada was built by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Lucknow, in 1784. It is also known as Asafi Imambada, but people hardly recognize this name except few from the city. Bada means big, and an imambada is a shrine built by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari. The Bada Imambada is among the grandest buildings of Lucknow city and probably state as well.Bada Imambada a huge campus which is well maintained, in my opinion. I liked the way cleanness is maintained and authorities maintain some rules to keep it clean and maintained. There are different type of tickets for entry inside Bada Imambada. We took 50 Rs ticket, which included everything inside the campus - Bhool Bhualaiyaa, Asfi Mosque, a grave of Asaf ud-Daula under a canopy, Shahi Bawli, Domed Chamber, Hallways, Rumi Darwaja, Tazia & Zari.Asfi Mosque looks similar to Jama Masjid in Delhi, but it was closed when we visited. Not sure, if it was temporary thing or mosque remains closed. It's quite inspiring to know that Nawab started to build this campus for providing work and food to folks around this region. It seems that Bada Imambada was built just because to provide some work to folks for earning food for their families.Above photograph shows a grave of Asaf ud-Daula under a canopy. This is located just below Bhool Bhulaiya on the ground floor. One needs to take of shoes to go inside. It's one of the most colorful and well maintained part of Bada Imambada. This part of the campus is very well lit with colorful lights.Above photograph shows main mosque on the left and gateway on right. This gateway takes visitors inside the main campus and there is a road on the other side which goes to Chhota Imambada.There is a huge area in front of Bhool Bhulaiya, where families & friends like to sit down and enjoy the view of mosque, gardens and other things in Bada Imambada campus.One can see some guides burning a matchbox stick at the other end of the balconies that have openings to the Central Hall. It's another significant and architectural art in Bada Imambada campus.  You can listen the sound  of a match stick at the other end of the hall.  It is really interesting and seems unbelievable. There are many interesting things about the place and local guides play a good role in helping you exploring all this. If you happen to hire a guide, don't take his help in Bhool bhulaiya unless you are extremely frustrated.A beautiful view of Mosque & main gate from Bhool Bhulaiya. Top of Bhool bhulaiya offers bird's eye view of monuments, the Roomi Darwaja, the Gates, Asifi Masjid, Clock Towers, Laxman Tila Masjid,  Gomti river and the busy streets of Lucknow city.Chhota Imambada is visible from roof-top of Bhool-bhulaiya. We didn't have much time so preferred to visit Ganj instead of going towards Chhota Imambada.A caution - If you plan to explore the city using Auto, make sure that you don't change your plans as per information provided by them. Like other tourist destinations, Auto-walas try to take you to shops to earn some commission out of your purchase. We also ended up buying some stuff from lucknow because of our Auto-wala who took us to Ganj after Bada Imambada.Asafi Masjid which you can see in above photograph has sculptured domes and minarets. This mosque provides a most beautiful sight. If you are in Lucknow on Friday, make sure that you plan your visit when thousands of folks come here for namaz.Shahi Bawli is another interesting place inside this campus. This royal well is just opposite to the mosuqe. One can go downstairs to see the well with blue water on surface and the bathrooms constructed around the well on ground, first and second floors of the Well. Above photograph shows water in the middle of this well with mutual-layered building around it.  If you have a look from one side of the well, you can see in the water - the image of person approaching the well. Different guide service can be availed at Bawli, although one can notice this easily.


Last weekend we were in Churu Town of Rajasthan and the first thing to do in Churu was City Tour, mainly a 3 hour walk through the streets of Churu Town. This whole town has some of the very grand Havelis which are maintained by local folks. This Photo Journey shares some photographs of Havelis from Churu Town with relevant information.After crazy drive from Delhi to Churu, we reached Maji Ka Karma which is a Heritage Hotel in the town. Deepak at 'Malji Ka Karma' had organized this city tour for us after lunch. So after having our lunch we moved to the street walk with a local guide Lal Singh. Malji ki Kamra was basically a Haveli for guests, so we first encountered the main Haveli of Malji which was just across the Hotel.Churu is a beautiful town in the desert region of Rajasthan state of India. When I say beautiful, it essentially means the Heritage value and different culture to explore. Otherwise these streets were not very clean. Churu is also known as gateway to the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. Churu town is the administrative headquarters of a District of Rajasthan. Churu District lies in the Thar Desert around National Highway-65 which connects Pali to Ambala. Town is very well connected through Train as well. Churu Town is near shifting sand dunes of the Thar Desert & during the trip we had bonfire in desert as well.  As of now, let's talk more about the Havelis and the heritage this town hasChuru has grand havelis with marvelous fresco paintings. Some of the biggest Havelis in Churu are Kanhaiya lal Bagla ki Haweli and Surana Haweli, with hundreds of small windows. There is also a Hawa Mahal which has 1111 windows and doors of different sizes. Churu also has some fine Chhatris but relatively lesser in number as compared to Havelis. Mr Lal Singh took us to different Havelis.Near Churu town, there is a Dharam Stup, which symbolizes religious equality and supposedly, it's a popular religious place. At the centre of the Churu town, there is a fort which is built about 400 years ago. Because of this short trip, we couldn't visit this fort but it seems there is hardly any preservation of the fort and very few folks go there.Most of the walls of these Havelis were Painted. Some of the paintings were not in good shape but most of them were there and we could make out the subjects drawn. Only very few Havelis were well maintained and some of them had redrawn the painting. Few looked good and many of them seemed overdone with modern colors. Charm of painting done with natural colors is very different and can't be replaced with chemical colors. There were paintings of Maharaja of Bikaner, the closest Rajya to Churu.Arches in different Havelis have intricate work and this really shows the way art-forms were used in building these luxurious places to live. There is something very special about discovering the unknown. While walking through these lanes, I realized that may of the popular cities of Rajasthan must also have such Heritage Havelis but we end up exploring popular things which are marketed well by commercial players of those cities/towns/regions. For the regular tourist, Churu is a dusty little town in Rajasthan with no infrastructure and no real attraction. But if we take time to know more and keep exploring, every Haveli of Churu Town has stories to tell about prosperity & strong culture. Vibrancy of Churu Town lies very much into the historical value and it's strong cultural environment.Most Havelis in Churu Town of Rajasthan are owned by the various generations of the Kothari Family and Parekh Family. Most of them are all lying in ruins. Most of these have caretakers but even those families can take care of small portions of these Havelis. Mostly 2-5 rooms out of hundreds are operational in most of these Havelis of Churu. Above photograph is shot from the top of a Haveli and the views from top were amazing...At times, these Havelis were haunting. While moving around these streets, we started talking about ghosts and the discussion continued throughout the trip. The Hawa Mahal speaks the about haunted air of the place.Every part of these Havelis in Churu is a piece of art in itself - Be it windows or doors, Pillars or Basements, Roofs or Terraces... There are various stories depicted on the walls of these Havelis through paintings. At the same time, all these paintings also depict elemental stuff. Be it trains, cars, horses, elephants, palakis, gods, godesses etc.While exploring these streets of Churu Town in Rajasthan, we met some Silver artists, who were making crockery with silver and it seems that most of this stuff is exported.Long forgotten.. During the walk some of us were discussing about the heritage value of windows, doors & other artifacts in these Havelis. And it was shocking to see that no one is worried about the preservation of many of these things in town. Only government or actual owners of these properties can take this bigger responsibility of preserve this Heritage and increase the lifetime of this town, region and the state.Many of these Havelis in Churu have portraits of the Maharaja of Bikaner and the ancestors of the family who own few of these Havelis in Churu town of Rajasthan. While walking through the streets and Havelis of Churu, we reaches a street having heavy painting work on outer walls. A wall was showing very different stuff. Marwari merchants from Churu were very rich and well travelled as well. On some of the walls, Jesus Christ images were there. Some of the depiction on these walls can be disturbing for believers of religions.There is a very well presevred Temple in the town, which is surrounded by Havelis. The Jain temple replicates the exact architecture found in Amer Fort of Jaipur. We shall share a specific Story on Jain Temple of Churu Town. One of the few things maintained in Churu town was a temple, which is funded by the Kothari family.There is beauty all around us, only if our definitions of beauty are flexible enough to see beyond the obvious and explore more to appreciate it better.


When you are in Lucknow and creating a priority list of things to do, Bada Imambada is something you should keep on top. This Photo Journey is sharing some photographs of Bada Imambada with appropriate reasons visiting it, even when you have very less time in hand.Some time back I was in Lucknow for a wedding and thought of moving out for some time. After talking to friends in Lucknow, looking at city map I thought of going straight to Bada Imambada and keep my plan flexible.One of the main reasons to visit Bada Imambada was it's popularity which exposes you to beautiful architecture & gives you a sense of the city through people who visit this place. Lot of folks come to this place, you meet interesting guides at this place and has a small market at entry gate where you can buy some souvenirs. Lot of activities happen around this area of the city, through which you get better understanding of the place, it's residents, culture and lot more which we never expect from such places in an Indian city. To my surprise, Lucknow was quite different than what I had imagined and it kept me surprised on regular basis.Auto-Rikshaw is one of the best ways to explore the city. Various parts of Lucknow city are connected well through buses, shared/private Auto-Rickshaws & rickshaws. One needs to negotiate well with Auto-Rickshaw people but definitely the negotiation process is quite happy as compared to Delhi/Noida :). As Lucknow is know for 'tehzeeb', you can clearly see that people in city are polite and sensible. Although you always find exceptions, if you have a bad day.Another reason for choosing Bada Imambada is - Bhool-Bhulaiyaa. Bhool Bhulaiya is located inside Bada imambada campus, which is one of the main places to explore in Lucknow city. This is very interesting place which shouldn't be explored with any guide :). Yes, you read it right. The real fun lies in going inside bhool bhulaiya without any guide and try to figure out your way out. It can be difficult & frustrating when you always lead to wrong path, but it's fun and you feel like winner when you come out of it. We didn't hire any guide and went indie Bhool bhulaiya. After a while we were frustrated by the fact and everyone inside the Bhool bhulaiya was telling wrong path and situations were not even better when you don't follow anyone. But soon after to crack the logic and come out of it. There is a thumb rule, which I don't want to share on this blog. So just visit yourself and have fun. It is possibly the only existing maze in India and came about unintentionally to support the weight of the building which is constructed on marshy land.Bada Imambada was built by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Lucknow, in 1784. It is also known as Asafi Imambada, but people hardly recognize this name except few from the city. Bada means big, and an imambada is a shrine built by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari. The Bada Imambada is among the grandest buildings of Lucknow city and probably state as well.Bada Imambada a huge campus which is well maintained, in my opinion. I liked the way cleanness is maintained and authorities maintain some rules to keep it clean and maintained. There are different type of tickets for entry inside Bada Imambada. We took 50 Rs ticket, which included everything inside the campus - Bhool Bhualaiyaa, Asfi Mosque, a grave of Asaf ud-Daula under a canopy, Shahi Bawli, Domed Chamber, Hallways, Rumi Darwaja, Tazia & Zari.Asfi Mosque looks similar to Jama Masjid in Delhi, but it was closed when we visited. Not sure, if it was temporary thing or mosque remains closed. It's quite inspiring to know that Nawab started to build this campus for providing work and food to folks around this region. It seems that Bada Imambada was built just because to provide some work to folks for earning food for their families.Above photograph shows a grave of Asaf ud-Daula under a canopy. This is located just below Bhool Bhulaiya on the ground floor. One needs to take of shoes to go inside. It's one of the most colorful and well maintained part of Bada Imambada. This part of the campus is very well lit with colorful lights.Above photograph shows main mosque on the left and gateway on right. This gateway takes visitors inside the main campus and there is a road on the other side which goes to Chhota Imambada.There is a huge area in front of Bhool Bhulaiya, where families & friends like to sit down and enjoy the view of mosque, gardens and other things in Bada Imambada campus.One can see some guides burning a matchbox stick at the other end of the balconies that have openings to the Central Hall. It's another significant and architectural art in Bada Imambada campus.  You can listen the sound  of a match stick at the other end of the hall.  It is really interesting and seems unbelievable. There are many interesting things about the place and local guides play a good role in helping you exploring all this. If you happen to hire a guide, don't take his help in Bhool bhulaiya unless you are extremely frustrated.A beautiful view of Mosque & main gate from Bhool Bhulaiya. Top of Bhool bhulaiya offers bird's eye view of monuments, the Roomi Darwaja, the Gates, Asifi Masjid, Clock Towers, Laxman Tila Masjid,  Gomti river and the busy streets of Lucknow city.Chhota Imambada is visible from roof-top of Bhool-bhulaiya. We didn't have much time so preferred to visit Ganj instead of going towards Chhota Imambada.A caution - If you plan to explore the city using Auto, make sure that you don't change your plans as per information provided by them. Like other tourist destinations, Auto-walas try to take you to shops to earn some commission out of your purchase. We also ended up buying some stuff from lucknow because of our Auto-wala who took us to Ganj after Bada Imambada.Asafi Masjid which you can see in above photograph has sculptured domes and minarets. This mosque provides a most beautiful sight. If you are in Lucknow on Friday, make sure that you plan your visit when thousands of folks come here for namaz.Shahi Bawli is another interesting place inside this campus. This royal well is just opposite to the mosuqe. One can go downstairs to see the well with blue water on surface and the bathrooms constructed around the well on ground, first and second floors of the Well. Above photograph shows water in the middle of this well with mutual-layered building around it.  If you have a look from one side of the well, you can see in the water - the image of person approaching the well. Different guide service can be availed at Bawli, although one can notice this easily.








Different beaches come to our mind when we think about Goa, but Goa has many other interesting things to explore. And Old Goa has some of the beautiful architecture which takes you to a very different world. In this particular post, we are talking about two main churches situated in Old Goa - 'Se Cathedral' & 'Basilica of Bom Jesus'.The very first photograph of this Photo Journey shows entry to the Basilica of Bom Jesus which is located in old part of Goa. The Vasilica of Bom jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. There aresome very interesting facts associated with this place and we recommend to find a guide to walk you through some of the interesting elements of The Basalica. It was third day of our Goa Trip, when we though of exploring Southern part of Goa. Old Goa is in southern region. From Panjim, one needs to drive through Goa Institute of Management to reach Se Catheral and Basilica of Bom Jesus. Both of these campuses are nearby and at walking distance. So we parked our car near Se Cathedral. Spent some time around the Cathedral and then walked to the Basilica.Se Cathedral is also known as The Se Catedral de Santa Catarina. This is the cathedral of the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa. Supposedly it's considered as the largest church in India, which is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria. Se Cathedral is one of the oldest and most celebrated religious buildings in Goa and is one of the largest churches in Asia as well.Above photograph shows the view of Cathedral from Basilica of Bom Jesus. Both of these are located across the road in Old Goa. Above photograph shows interiors of the Basilica of Bom Jesus. This church is located in Old Goa, which was the capital of Goa in the early days of Portuguese rule. 'Bom Jesus' name is used for the infant Jesus. The church is India’s first minor basilica which is considered to be one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India.Another view of Cathedral from Basilica. Cathedral's tower has a large bell which is popularly known as the 'Golden Bell' on account of its rich tone. There is an altar, which is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria and there are various old paintings on both the sides. On the right hand side, there is a Chapel of the Cross of Miracles. Check out more about this cathedral at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Se_CathedralIf I try to summarize overall experience of Old Goa, it was more about Portuguese architecture. Both Se cathedral and Basilica of Bom Jesus are in a huge area and very well maintained. Both of these are very high buildings with some of the cool painting and sculptures. To me the marvelous architecture was beautiful thing to explore in Old Goahe architectural style of the Se Cathedral is Portuguese-Manueline. The exterior is Tuscan, whereas the interior is Corinthian. The church is very long &approximately 250 feet. And the breadth is bit more than 180 feet. Architecture was something that I could appreciate the most around this place & old Goa.This was shot inside the Basilica of Bom Jesus and wikipedia has very intersting details about it's architecture, which we missed exploring during the visit. Actually we had to go to Spice plantation on same day and didn't want to miss because of timings. Check out wiki link to know more about Basilica - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Bom_Jesus







I have been to Lodhi Garden many times and mostly entered through the gate near to Lodhi Restaurant and most of times ended up walking around Bara Gumbad tomb, Sheesh Gumbad, The three domed mosque which is adjacent to Bada Gumbad, walled enclosure of the Sikander Lodi's Tomb and the water body in one of the corners of Lodhi Garden. But most of the times, I noticed a very well lit Tomb from the road which connects Sufdarjung Tomb with India Habitat Center. During last week, I was again crossing through the same road and thought of stopping. It was around 5 pm and my meeting was scheduled at 7pm in Khan Market. So this Photo Journey shares some of the photographs clicked during 2 hours around Mohammed Shah's Tomb at Lodhi Garden.The tomb of Mohammed Shah is one of the the earliest tombs in the Lodhi garden, which was built in 1444 by Ala-ud-din Alam Shah as a tribute to Mohammed Shah. Mohammed Shah was the last of the Sayyid dynasty rulers. Lodhi Garden is one of the famous picnic spots for Delhites and its one of the green belts in Delhi. Lodhi Garden is spread over 90 acres covered with  . The garden has various other monuments as well - Sikander Lodhi’s Tomb, Sheesh Gumbad, Athpula and Bara Gumbad. This place is protected by Archeological Survey of India (ASI)Lodi Gardens is an important place of preservation. The tomb of Mohammed Shah is visible from the road and is the earliest structure in the gardens. The architecture Mohammed Shah's Tomb is characterized by the octagonal chamber, with stone chhajjas on the roof and guldastas on the corners.The Lodi dynasty in India arose in 14th century and Lodhi Empire was established by the Ghizlai tribe of the Afghans. They formed the last phase of the Delhi Sultanate.Some time back restoration work has happened for these monuments. In fact, these days two main projects are under progress at Lodhi Garden - One is a colorful initiative by some Artists to paint all dustbins at Lodhi Garden with some beautiful designs. The second one if restoration work happening near the mosque. The work of conservation Mohammed Shah's Tomb was started with the Mohammed Shah’s Tomb. At first, restoration of the inverted lotus on top of the dome was carried out.It's super awesome to roam around the green lawns of Lodhi Garden. Lot of folks from surrounding areas come here during morning & evenings. Many of the joggers can be seen on different trails of the Lodhi Garden. Mohammed Shah's Tomb is beautifully surrounded by trees from all the directions. During late evening, Mohammed Shah's Tomb is lit with external lighting. That's how it caught our attention long time back.Lot of kids come to Lodhi Garden with their friends to enjoy sports. Many times cricket & football lovers can be seen around different lawns of Lodhi garden. It was a weekday when I visited Lodhi Garden but still there were lot of folks in the garden at 5:30pm. Many of the families were there to walk around and have fun with their loved ones.To know more about the restoration process of Mohammed Shah's Tomb, click HEREMany folks come to Lodhi Garden to meditate or do some exercises. Overall environment at Lodhi Garden is quite different from other places in Delhi. I think it's more related to the green patches we have created in south Delhi. Likewise Nehru park is also another well maintained green area in south Delhi.Lodhi Garden is a good place for Delhites and tourists to escape from the hustle-bustle of the city. During afternoon some parts of the garden is full of by couples seeking solitude.Lodhi Garden is a favorite place for joggers, fitness enthusiasts and also morning/evening walkers. It is also a fine picnic spot in winters. Many of the families can be seen around Gol gumbad during evenings & weekends...As a photographer one can spend the day photographing birds, monuments, flora and fauna. The garden is home to several species of birds.










Last weekend we were in Churu Town of Rajasthan and the first thing to do in Churu was City Tour, mainly a 3 hour walk through the streets of Churu Town. This whole town has some of the very grand Havelis which are maintained by local folks. This Photo Journey shares some photographs of Havelis from Churu Town with relevant information.After crazy drive from Delhi to Churu, we reached Maji Ka Karma which is a Heritage Hotel in the town. Deepak at 'Malji Ka Karma' had organized this city tour for us after lunch. So after having our lunch we moved to the street walk with a local guide Lal Singh. Malji ki Kamra was basically a Haveli for guests, so we first encountered the main Haveli of Malji which was just across the Hotel.Churu is a beautiful town in the desert region of Rajasthan state of India. When I say beautiful, it essentially means the Heritage value and different culture to explore. Otherwise these streets were not very clean. Churu is also known as gateway to the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. Churu town is the administrative headquarters of a District of Rajasthan. Churu District lies in the Thar Desert around National Highway-65 which connects Pali to Ambala. Town is very well connected through Train as well. Churu Town is near shifting sand dunes of the Thar Desert & during the trip we had bonfire in desert as well.  As of now, let's talk more about the Havelis and the heritage this town hasChuru has grand havelis with marvelous fresco paintings. Some of the biggest Havelis in Churu are Kanhaiya lal Bagla ki Haweli and Surana Haweli, with hundreds of small windows. There is also a Hawa Mahal which has 1111 windows and doors of different sizes. Churu also has some fine Chhatris but relatively lesser in number as compared to Havelis. Mr Lal Singh took us to different Havelis.Near Churu town, there is a Dharam Stup, which symbolizes religious equality and supposedly, it's a popular religious place. At the centre of the Churu town, there is a fort which is built about 400 years ago. Because of this short trip, we couldn't visit this fort but it seems there is hardly any preservation of the fort and very few folks go there.Most of the walls of these Havelis were Painted. Some of the paintings were not in good shape but most of them were there and we could make out the subjects drawn. Only very few Havelis were well maintained and some of them had redrawn the painting. Few looked good and many of them seemed overdone with modern colors. Charm of painting done with natural colors is very different and can't be replaced with chemical colors. There were paintings of Maharaja of Bikaner, the closest Rajya to Churu.Arches in different Havelis have intricate work and this really shows the way art-forms were used in building these luxurious places to live. There is something very special about discovering the unknown. While walking through these lanes, I realized that may of the popular cities of Rajasthan must also have such Heritage Havelis but we end up exploring popular things which are marketed well by commercial players of those cities/towns/regions. For the regular tourist, Churu is a dusty little town in Rajasthan with no infrastructure and no real attraction. But if we take time to know more and keep exploring, every Haveli of Churu Town has stories to tell about prosperity & strong culture. Vibrancy of Churu Town lies very much into the historical value and it's strong cultural environment.Most Havelis in Churu Town of Rajasthan are owned by the various generations of the Kothari Family and Parekh Family. Most of them are all lying in ruins. Most of these have caretakers but even those families can take care of small portions of these Havelis. Mostly 2-5 rooms out of hundreds are operational in most of these Havelis of Churu. Above photograph is shot from the top of a Haveli and the views from top were amazing...At times, these Havelis were haunting. While moving around these streets, we started talking about ghosts and the discussion continued throughout the trip. The Hawa Mahal speaks the about haunted air of the place.Every part of these Havelis in Churu is a piece of art in itself - Be it windows or doors, Pillars or Basements, Roofs or Terraces... There are various stories depicted on the walls of these Havelis through paintings. At the same time, all these paintings also depict elemental stuff. Be it trains, cars, horses, elephants, palakis, gods, godesses etc.While exploring these streets of Churu Town in Rajasthan, we met some Silver artists, who were making crockery with silver and it seems that most of this stuff is exported.Long forgotten.. During the walk some of us were discussing about the heritage value of windows, doors & other artifacts in these Havelis. And it was shocking to see that no one is worried about the preservation of many of these things in town. Only government or actual owners of these properties can take this bigger responsibility of preserve this Heritage and increase the lifetime of this town, region and the state.Many of these Havelis in Churu have portraits of the Maharaja of Bikaner and the ancestors of the family who own few of these Havelis in Churu town of Rajasthan. While walking through the streets and Havelis of Churu, we reaches a street having heavy painting work on outer walls. A wall was showing very different stuff. Marwari merchants from Churu were very rich and well travelled as well. On some of the walls, Jesus Christ images were there. Some of the depiction on these walls can be disturbing for believers of religions.There is a very well presevred Temple in the town, which is surrounded by Havelis. The Jain temple replicates the exact architecture found in Amer Fort of Jaipur. We shall share a specific Story on Jain Temple of Churu Town. One of the few things maintained in Churu town was a temple, which is funded by the Kothari family.There is beauty all around us, only if our definitions of beauty are flexible enough to see beyond the obvious and explore more to appreciate it better.


It's now heartening to see that several of these heritage sites are now being maintained well by the authorities but we as general public also need to be more sensitive towards maintaining the sanctity of these places. Heritage once lost can't be regained, so it in important that we wake up while we still have it. 

2 comments:

Renuka said...

These are great architectural sites. Nicely captured too!

VJ Sharma said...

Thanks Renuka !

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