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- Exploring Ljubljana: A Hidden Gem of Europe's Medieval Delights
Welcome to Ljubljana: A Hidden Gem of Europe! Step into a city where time slows down and vibrant vibes enchant you. From the calm airport to the medieval treasures and lively medieval town, Ljubljana is a blend of history, culture, and relaxation. Join us on an adventure through hidden streets and captivating sights in this European gem. We arrived in Ljubljana after a quick layover in Dubai, and our flight from Dubai to Ljubljana was short and enjoyable. Ljubljana immediately made a positive impression on us. The airport was calm and organized, making it easy to navigate. We located the bus stand for traveling to the city, and buses were scheduled hourly throughout the day. Our Airbnb booking at The cave turned out to be a fantastic choice due to its strategic location. It was just a 5-minute walk from the Bus and Railway stations, which happened to be next to each other, and only a 10-minute walk from the historic center of Ljubljana. After checking in and having a quick chat with our amazing host, we planned our exploration of the city and embarked on a tour of the central hub. The vibes in Ljubljana were refreshingly different from those of a typical European city. People here seemed more relaxed, embracing the art of spending time in good company rather than solely focusing on exploring architecture. Ljubljana is a relatively small city, and like most European cities, its heart lies in the old town or medieval town. The focal point of the old town is the magnificent Ljubljana Castle. By orienting yourself around the castle, it becomes easy to navigate and appreciate the city. Since there were numerous things to do in Slovenia and the surrounding areas of Ljubljana, we decided to spend our day exploring the city hub instead of venturing into the outskirts. We prefer planning our routes in advance to ensure we make the most of our time and feel in control of our trip. However, if you're a fan of wandering, you can simply drop anywhere and explore whatever catches your eye. The old town is centered around the castle, and no buses operate within its narrow streets. You can request to be dropped near the Dragon Bridge, which serves as a convenient starting point. Alternatively, if your accommodation is on the opposite side of the castle, near the Embassy of Croatia, you can easily explore the castle and enjoy the city from there. We usually prepare our route and try to cover as much as possible. However, if at any point we feel unsatisfied with our exploration, we often consult a map from the tourist center to find nearby attractions to discover. Here are the highlights we discovered in Ljubljana: Ljubljana Boat Tour: A fantastic way to start the day is by taking a 45-minute to 1-hour cruise to explore the medieval town. Several boat operators offer similar prices, so you can choose any of them unless you're seeking luxury services. Note that boat rides do not operate late in the evening or at night, so be sure to check the operational timings with the operators. If you're not keen on a cruise, some agents offer kayaking options or can direct you to places where you can take a refreshing dip. There's even a volleyball court along the river, though we didn't have a chance to witness any games. Nonetheless, the vibrant atmosphere suggests it's an exhilarating experience to play or simply watch others play on the court. Ljubljana Castle: Undoubtedly the main attraction of the town, the castle sits majestically atop a hill. You can reach it by hiking (a 30-40 minute hike), taking the Funicular (a fancy word for an escalator lift, which requires a fee), or even renting bicycles and cycling to the castle entrance. Once inside the castle, you'll be greeted by a spacious courtyard that played a significant role in its history as a convention center. The castle has been meticulously curated and divided into different sections. You'll find museums dedicated to Slovenian history and prominent figures from the past. We particularly enjoyed visiting the puppet museum, where the rich and fascinating history of puppetry came to life. PS: If you purchase the Ljubljana Urbana card, boat rides and the Funicular are complimentary. Dragon Bridge: Despite its size, this small bridge holds great historical significance as the former entrance to the city and castle. Adorned with four dragons on each corner, the bridge stretches for about 100-200 meters. Ljubljana boasts several architecturally beautiful bridges that span the Ljubljanica River. Another notable bridge worth mentioning is the Triple Bridge, which is conveniently located near the Dragon Bridge. Franciscan Church of the Annunciation: This grand church, situated at the foot of the castle, stands as one of the most recognizable buildings in the city center. It serves as a popular gathering spot, where children delight in water shows and people leisurely stroll, enjoying themselves. The interior of the church is equally captivating. Ljubljana Cathedral: Another nearby church that manages to hide in plain sight, the entrance to the Ljubljana Cathedral proved elusive to us initially. We convinced ourselves it must be closed until we noticed people coming out from one of the gates, revealing the entrance. The church's gallery stood out as a remarkable feature. Although we may have struggled to piece together the gallery stops coherently, it's definitely worth spending some time here. Exploring the Medieval Town: The medieval town and its surroundings offer a myriad of delightful spots to explore on foot. Restaurants abound in this region, and with their outdoor seating and open areas, it feels as if the city has come to a standstill, allowing everyone to relish each other's company, savor great food, and simply enjoy the moment. Moments like these are what make visiting Europe so special—being able to live in the present and embrace doing nothing. These are the main attractions in Ljubljana, but there are plenty of other options available depending on your preferences, such as various museums, operas and the zoo. Ideally, a relaxed two-day visit or a swift one-and-a-half-day itinerary would be suitable for exploring the city. If you want to read more about planning and logistics arrangement for this trip, do check out our blog: Surprise to Splendor Next on Travel mi Amor - We move to "The" cave and "The" castle. Stay Tuned Do checkout our IG page @travelmiamor :)
- From Surprise to Splendor: Planning for European destinations | Slovenia and Austria travel
Have you ever embarked on a journey with a destination in mind, only to end up in a completely different place? Life has a way of surprising us, and travel plans are no exception. Join us on a thrilling adventure as we share our story of initially planning for Georgia, only to find ourselves enchanted by the hidden gems of Slovenia and Austria. From the initial apprehension to the elation upon arrival and the bittersweet departure, this tale will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. Unplanned Detour: From Georgia to Europe As we began our travel planning, Georgia was set to be our destination. However, the desire for a more European experience led us to consider other options. After evaluating various countries, including the Czech Republic, Croatia, England, and Scotland, we settled on Czech Republic and Austria. Excitement filled the air as we meticulously crafted our itinerary and made the necessary bookings. But a sudden blow came when we realized that the earliest visa appointment available was 20 days after our scheduled flight. Panic set in, until a wise suggestion from our uncle changed our course. Discovering Slovenia: A Hidden Gem Our relative proposed visiting Slovenia, a country less frequented by Indian travellers. At first, we were unfamiliar with this mysterious destination, but curiosity took hold. With a speedy visa appointment secured within 7 days, we eagerly set our sights on this unexplored corner of Europe. Slovenia, once part of the former Yugoslavia, revealed a rich history, pristine nature, and captivating architecture. It may not have the grandeur of other European countries, but it held a unique charm all its own. Nature's Bliss in Austria To compensate for Slovenia's architectural simplicity, we discovered that Austria had a secret treasure trove of natural beauty. The breathtaking landscapes of Austria left us awestruck. From the majestic Alps to picturesque lakes and charming villages, Austria showcased a side we had never anticipated. It was a delightful surprise to witness the harmonious blend of Austria's cultural heritage and awe-inspiring nature. Planning for the Journey No Euro trip is complete without thorough planning. Our experiences taught us the importance of scheduling visa appointments early, especially during peak European summers. We recommend considering Slovenia as a viable option due to the relatively easier visa process. Our itinerary included three days in Slovenia before heading to Austria, specifically exploring Salzburg and Vienna. Inter and Intra city travels Navigating intercity travel in Slovenia can be a bit challenging due to low frequency, but various operators offer services. Check timetables frequently and ensure you travel with the same operator for round trips. In Ljubljana, the capital, consider getting the Urbana card, which provides free bus rides and additional perks like a boat ride and a ride on the Funicular (like a lift for reaching Ljubljana Castle) In Austria, public transport in Salzburg and nearby can be tricky, so renting a car is advisable for exploring the natural beauty surrounding the city. In Vienna, a vast metropolis, it's best to obtain travel cards suitable for your specific needs. Research different options based on your planned daily destinations to maximise convenience. Finding Your Perfect Stay When it comes to accommodation, Airbnb often offers centrally located options without breaking the bank. Use Google Maps to compare the proximity of your stay to key attractions. For more budget-friendly options, booking.com and Agoda can provide alternatives, ensuring a comfortable and convenient stay. Logistics: Sim Card, Travel cards and Currency Upon arrival, obtaining a local sim card becomes a priority. In Ljubljana, we were surprised to find no sim card shops at the airport. Instead, we visited a local retail chain like Hofer or Lidl to purchase a sim card with data packages costing around EUR 10. It's also advisable to keep small currency denominations for public transportation ticket purchases. When it comes to travel cards, evaluate your planned destinations in detail. In Ljubljana, we skipped purchasing a travel card as most attractions were within walking distance from our centrally located accommodation. However, in cities like Salzburg and Vienna, travel cards often include entry tickets to historic sites or offer discounts, making them worthwhile investments. Also, the Vienna travel cards come in various combinations, it may take some time to figure out best combo for you. Although, we ended up buying tickets only as the cards were coming costly for us. By the way, public transport is free on Sundays. So visit Vienna travel site and match cards for your requirements. Indulging in Gastronomic Delights Food options in Slovenia and Austria cater to a diverse range of palates. From vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes to vegan alternatives, you'll find ample choices. If you have specific dietary restrictions, such as avoiding eggplant, don't hesitate to communicate your preferences to ensure a satisfying culinary experience. Keep in mind that Slovenia tends to have slightly higher food prices compared to Austria, but the options are still plentiful. Packing some cup noodles or instant meals for quick fillers during travel can be a handy tip. Dressing for the Adventure Slovenia's summer weather remains consistent throughout the day, so light clothing is ideal. The long daylight hours offer extended exploration opportunities, though we regretfully missed experiencing Slovenia's nightlife due to exhaustion from daytime adventures. Austria, on the other hand, exhibits a varied climate, ranging from warm to cold and rainy. Packing layers of clothing will help you adapt to unpredictable weather changes and stay comfortable during your visit. Conclusion Our biggest takeaway from the adventure was to always start with getting an VFS appointment and then preparing an itinerary. Euro summers have become very famous and in a country like India, you may not get an appointment in due time. Embrace the unexpected twists and turns that travel can bring. Our detour to Slovenia and Austria turned out to be a serendipitous experience, leaving us with cherished memories and a yearning to return. By planning meticulously, adapting to unforeseen circumstances, and immersing ourselves in the beauty of these countries, we discovered that the most remarkable journeys are often the ones that lead us off the beaten path. So, pack your bags, embrace the unknown, and embark on a transformative adventure through the enchanting lands of Slovenia and Austria. Stay tuned as we add about experiences in Slovenia and Austria. Our stories may give you that push for Euro trip which you are trying to find. !!
- Weekend Getaways: Unlock Perfect Escape!!
Dreaming of a spontaneous weekend escape that will whisk you away from the everyday hustle and bustle? Look no further! We're here to unravel the secrets of choosing the perfect destination for your quick getaway. While we can't promise an exhaustive list of all the incredible places out there (we'd need an infinite number of blogs and reels for that), we can certainly equip you with a simple approach to make your decision-making a breeze. Picture this: you and your loved ones, packing your bags, and setting off on an adventure-filled journey, leaving behind the stress of everyday life. But where should you go? Say goodbye to endless hours of research and confusion. It's time to embrace a simple yet effective approach that will have you jetting off to incredible locations in no time. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a whirlwind adventure of discovery and inspiration! Lately, we've been sharing our travel experiences, from planning to execution and post-visit reflections. Today, we want to help you streamline the process of picking a destination for a weekend getaway. This blog is the result of our contemplation, aiming to assist you in quickly shortlisting destinations and spending less time on decision-making. Let's get started with some basic assumptions: You reside in the Delhi NCR region (if not, don't worry, you can adapt the steps to your location). You have a Friday evening to Sunday night window for your getaway (approximately 48 hours, the minimum timeframe for a true getaway). Expect a minimum travel time of 10 hours (round trip). Based on this estimate, we'll focus on destinations within a range of 350-400 km. If you have a dedicated driver, you can consider extending the range to 500 km or beyond. Seasonal Considerations: To begin, let's consider the time of year when you plan your trip. If you're in Delhi NCR, you're surrounded by Rajasthan, UP, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Haryana, and Punjab (including Chandigarh). We can exclude Haryana from our weekend visit options, as it offers few worthy destinations beyond a few resorts. Instead, we'll consider it as a midway stop only. To help you with the first-level shortlisting, here's a breakdown of the potential destinations in each state based on different months: Here's what these choices mean: Okay: You can easily plan a trip to any destination in this state, though you may face minor discomfort due to heat or cold. Prefer: Beat the weather for an amazing time, but expect larger crowds and competition for resources like hotels, restaurants, and popular picture spots. Avoid: Not recommended to visit these locations due to extreme weather conditions or other factors. Top Choice: Best time to visit the location, with great weather and an opportunity to enjoy nature's wonders. Your Choice: If you're particularly fond of a specific season, such as winter or snowfall, feel free to visit a destination of your liking. Great! With the state-level shortlisting complete, let's delve deeper into each state and explore the manageable distances within our allotted time frame. We've included screenshots from Google Maps to help you visualize the regions. Chapter 1: Punjab - Unveiling the Possibilities \The highlighted blue region on the map showcases the area you can cover within a 500 km radius (approximately 8 hours' drive) from Punjab. It presents various destinations worth exploring, including the renowned city of Amritsar. To learn more about Amritsar, check out our blog post at https://www.travelmiamor.com/post/amritsar-road-trip. (Image source: Google maps) Chapter 2: Uttar Pradesh (East) - A Cultural Mélange The green region on the map signifies a 500 km radius (approximately 8 hours' drive) from Lucknow, covering prominent destinations such as Varanasi, Ayodhya, Prayagraj, and Gorakhpur. These cities are steeped in culture, spirituality, and historical significance. (Image source: Google maps) Chapter 3: Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh - A Himalayan Odyssey This vast region, marked by the purple boundaries, is perfect for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Destinations like Nainital, Mussoorie, Dehradun, Shimla, and Manali are a few highlights within a 500 km radius (approximately 8 hours' drive) from Dehli. Each place offers breathtaking views, serene landscapes, and ample opportunities for adventure activities. Nainital (and nearby lakes, which are now more recommended owing to increasing traffic in Nainital) Almora Dehradun / Mussoorie Kanatal / New Tehri Haridwar / Rishikesh Landsdowne Mukteshwar Jim Corbett / Ramnagar (Image source: Google Maps) Coming to Himachal Pradesh, post-Covid, multiple small destinations have come up offering a "work-from-home" setup at a reasonable price. In our circle, we felt every fourth person sitting in Himachal and working from the mountains for months. Lets list down places easily coverable over the weekend: Chail (will prefer it over Shimla, due to peace and relaxation) Shimla Kasauli Kufri Then there are some destinations which are little further like: Jibhi Tirthan Dharamshala Palampur Bir Billing Planning for Himachal Pradesh over a weekend is a little tricky owing to the distance from Delhi and mostly it will be a journey of more than 8 hours one way. So recommended way of travel is to reach Chandigarh and stay overnight before leaving early morning for Himachal Pradesh. (Image source: Google Maps) Chapter 4: Rajasthan - Unveiling Royal Legacies In the golden expanse of Rajasthan, marked in yellow, you'll find cities that reflect a glorious past and vibrant culture. From Jaipur to Jhunjhunu, Mandawa, Pattan, Neemrana, Ajmer, Jodhpur; each city offers unique experiences that transport you to a bygone era. All these destinations can be reached within a 500 km radius (approximately 8 hours' drive) from Delhi. Additionally, Ranthambhore (near Sawai Madhopur) is also in the radar. In the end: Armed with our seasonal considerations, state-level shortlisting, and a closer look at specific regions, you can now make an informed decision for your next weekend getaway. Remember, these are just recommendations, and you're free to adapt them according to your preferences. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on an unforgettable adventure that fits perfectly within your weekend schedule.
- Essence of Travel
Travel: Just a word or a "step" to odyssey In the cozy moments spent with my grandfather, he regales me with captivating stories from his eventful life. These anecdotes often intertwine with our shared experiences of travel. One day, he presented me with an intriguing analogy, describing travel as akin to savouring a delicious meal. "As soon as you are done with meal, its taste is gone, same thing happens with travelling experiences". He then went on explaining, “Manni Bahadur (my nickname for him), just as you eat something delicious, you enjoy its taste while you are eating it when it is on your tongue. You savour it, live in the moment and as soon as that food is gulped down you do not feel anything about it and you are onto the next bite before you know it, and the previous bite is gone. Same with travel, till the time you are on the journey and when you are in the location you enjoy it but once you are back from the trip, you do not feel a thing. You are back to your routine and the travel is out of your system. Tell me then is it worth spending thousands on travel? When you cannot enjoy it for more than a few days?” When the first time he said this to me, I was speechless. I contemplated and could not come up with a response that could genuinely convince him of why we travel. So I left it as is. Sometime later, when we were preparing for our next trip, the aforementioned conversation repeated and he further added “why don’t you put this money to better use? Invest it, use it wisely!” I changed the topic and went on with some other topic. Sometime later I gave a thought to what he said and introspected. More than convincing him why travel is necessary, I had to find an answer for myself, why do I love to travel? Because I want to see a new place every now and then? It cannot be a one-line answer, travelling needs investment there ought to be a better “Return on Investment”. Why do I give up work a few days before travel in excitement and a few days after returning from the trip in sadness as the trip got over? This blog aims to explore the profound reasons why travel holds such importance in our lives and why it remains an eternal pursuit. Discovering the Spark: When I embarked on my professional journey, travel held little allure for me. Similarly, I was unsure of Neha's stance on travel. However, two transformative incidents reshaped our perspectives entirely. The first was an impromptu trip to Dharamshala with my college friends, where we abandoned elaborate planning and simply embarked on the journey. It was a raw and unadulterated experience that revealed the essence of travel to me—setting off without constraints or preconceived notions. The second turning point arrived when Neha became my life partner. Discovering her equal fervour for travel ignited a shared passion within us. We started small, exploring nearby resorts and heritage sites during weekends, which eventually grew into grander adventures both within and outside India. Gradually, we began strategising our trips, seeking optimal times to explore new destinations. These incidents cemented my belief that travel is an inherent part of our existence, surpassing mere superficial showcases on social media. Journey unveiled: Beyond the picturesque images and detailed itineraries, the true essence of travel lies in the moments hidden beneath the surface—the flavours we relish long after the trip concludes. From the exhilaration of leaving home to the anticipation building during security checks at airports, each step fuels our enthusiasm. As I gaze out of the airplane window, witnessing the curvature of the Earth, the tapestry of landscapes, and the bustling miniature cars below, I feel transported to another dimension. In that moment, I become an observer, seeking to understand the lives of others, the diversity of human experiences, and the common threads that bind us all. Though I may not engage in conversations with fellow travellers, I take solace in observing their existence, comparing their perspectives with my own. This act of perception is not intended to highlight differences or establish a hierarchy, but rather to feel the essence of our shared humanity. Despite the geographical distances that separate us, we all belong to the same category as humans, shaped by distinct values, beliefs, and experiences. At a fundamental level, we are interconnected. Breaking the Shackles of Familiarity: The saying, "Familiarity breeds contempt," rings true in the context of our hometowns. But why does this happen? I believe that within the confines of our homes, our focus revolves around securing a better future and surviving the present. In contrast, travel immerses us in the present moment, providing an escape from our everyday worries. Even amidst a sea of people, we find solitude and the freedom to shape our own experiences. Some seek companionship while others revel in the solitude of self-discovery. Each traveler finds their own path, driven by diverse motives. For Neha and me, the true essence of travel lies not solely in architectural marvels or stunning landscapes, but rather in finding a tranquil spot and blending into the surrounding environment. We find equal joy in serene landscapes as we do in vibrant discotheques. We feel a profound connection to everything that envelops us, whether it be a statue, a fellow traveler engrossed in photography, or the stories etched on historical plaques. From a vantage point, everyone, irrespective of their background, is engaged in the same human pursuit—living, reproducing, earning, and eventually departing from this world. We share a common earthly and cosmic existence. The Unquenchable Thirst: As we embark on our journey of exploration, we find ourselves playing a game of speculation—contemplating how life would unfold if we were born elsewhere or chose to settle in a different place. Yet, when we confront the question of where we wish to retire, we are overwhelmed by the vastness of the world still awaiting our discovery. The allure of unseen destinations keeps us perpetually enthralled, ensuring that our journey never truly concludes. My Response to my Grandfather Travel is not merely an escape from the mundane or an opportunity to create envy-inducing social media posts. It encompasses a profound quest for connection, understanding, and self-discovery. As my grandfather questioned the value of spending on travel, I found my own answer—an answer that transcends superficial explanations. Travel is an investment in the richness of human experience, an exploration of the vast tapestry of existence, and an eternal pursuit that continually shapes our perspectives. It is through travel that we bridge the gaps of familiarity and find unity in our shared humanity. So, let us embark on this never-ending journey, savouring the flavours of the world and celebrating the beauty that lies in exploration.
- Road Trip Spice up - Amritsar
Simplicity of a road trip during winters of North India Weekends and extended holidays have been given a new meaning in the Indian Dictionary. Most families plan small get-together trips to break free and have fun in a short duration of time. Due to this increase in the trend, the number of options to explore has also increased. Especially in the northern part of India, you will find resorts in distant locations of Rajasthan, upcoming Airbnbs in hilly states, or workcation locations in an exotic destination. All that is left to set sail is a few motivated souls in the group and an agreed-upon date to travel. In this plethora of road trip options, some heritage cities have historical roots, with an added modernization twist. Cities like Jaipur, and Amritsar which are the top 2 cities in this category, have always attracted crowds through their spiritual or historic connections. Most of us do have few options marked to cover when they are in these historical cities. Then one might ask what additionally these cities have to offer. It is for the same reason that this road trip is a little different. The generic itinerary of Amritsar included Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh, and Wagah Border, and amazing food will be the top choice for most of them. Therefore, let’s uncover some of the uncanny places and some useful tips to spice up your next road trip to Amritsar. If you are traveling to Amritsar via Delhi NCR you cross multiple cities with some special offerings like Murthal Dhabas, Karna lake at Karnal, or the legendary city of Kurukshetra. You may plan your trip in a way that you take a food break in Murthal, some of the dhabas turned restaurants have the most mouth-watering paranthas and dishes. Karna lake is also reachable with a small detour however it may consume half of your day. Visiting Kurukshetra may take a day or so to explore, so there are multiple options for you to choose from. We planned our trip in a way to visit the famous Rang de Basanti fort or Dohra fort in Ludhiana, it’s hardly 5 min drive off the NH1 and easily trackable through Google maps. All though it bears very less resemblance to how it was presented in the movie however it’s a good stop over and worthy of your time here. Fort’s condition is not good, it's not that maintained yet the boundary wall stands tall and you can walk on the periphery, clicking photos, and spend time enjoying the farms all around with all green fields swinging to the tunes of the winds reminding you of the typical Punjabi beauty. In the summers, you may find kids flying kites outside and having a good time. As you leave behind Ludhiana, you can plan your next halt directly at Amritsar excluding the food and nature breaks. Amritsar welcomes you with a magnificent dome entrance and you can see that now you are entering the holy city of Amritsar. A lot of development has been done in the last few years and the city is trying to keep up with the growing population and infrastructure demands. Major well-known attractions of the city are located near Golden temples like Jallianwala bagh, shopping sites, partition museum, and a few others. It is preferable to book a hotel near Golden temple and ensure it has car parking for safety reasons. Most of the time when roaming in the city, prefer not to take your car, otherwise, you will be spending most of the time in traffic rather than enjoying yourself. Prefer transport mediums like E-rickshaw to cover places in and around. Govt has also developed infra around the temple making it easier to walk and discover. In the end, the choice is yours. Day in Amritsar can be planned in a way to cover Jallianwala Bagh, Partition Museum, Street food tour, Shopping can be done on the day you are reaching Amritsar. Golden temple is heavily crowded during the day, so it is most suitable to visit the temple in the early hours, preferably at 4:00 AM. Now if you are a night person then you can plan to visit late at night around 11:00 PM. Though if you plan to take a dip in the holy water then you must visit during the daytime. We made a mistake of reaching around 1:00 AM and we were unaware that the temple is closed for cleaning till 3:30 AM and it opens again around 4:00 AM. Langar services are open 24X7X365 so you need not worry if you feel hungry. As it’s a short road trip and the next day is your day of return, what better thing to do than visit Wagah Border and kindle your patriotism? One place which had the biggest makeover has been Wagah Border. I remember visiting Wagah Border when I was 10-12 years old, there used to be a very small audience standing on one side with a sitting capacity of 100 max I guess. On the visitors/ sitting capacity ratio, it is still the same, but then you used to sit close to the beating retreat. Due to Covid, you never know when they shut down beating retreat and you just visit there for fun. So you will have to check whether the beating retreat is scheduled or not. Because that will change the itinerary as you may have to cover the Wagah border a day before as it is an evening activity. Another place that is very near to the Wagah border and rarely visited by people is – Pul Mooran / Pul Kanjri which has a significant historic reference. It is far closer to the border than a closed Wagah border. You can see huge fencing almost 100 steps from you. The odd thing is everything looks the same on both sides of the fencing. Though there is a BSF post in front of it, they will not allow you to reach the fence. So please don’t act smart :P Pul Kanji is said to be Punjab’s Taj Mahal as it is a symbol of love, built as a stopover from Amritsar to Lahore. It is a good stop for a photography session as well. There are a few more places that you can cover in case you have ample time before you start your journey back. You can cover Ram Tirath Mandir, which is the birthplace of Lord Ram’s sons Love and Kush. It is again a small detour en route to Wagah Border. Another hotspot destination is Gobindgarh Fort, which has been beautifully maintained and is located only 2 km from Golden temple. And if you are looking for a short stop over to another religious site, then you may think about covering Tarn Taran, which is on the way back, and though it may take some time to cover Goindwal Sahib and Tarn Taaran Sahib here. Many of us have been to Amritsar quite a few times and most of the time we have on our itinerary Golden temple and Wagah border. Well now for your next visit hopefully you have some more locations to cover on your next road trip and that too without extending your stay in Amritsar. Coming up - Places for a weekend trip near Delhi NCR ;)
- The Goan Perspective
A Simple take on one of the basic question: Which Goa to visit - North Goa or South Goa? If there is one Indian city/ state which truly resonates with tourism, it is Goa. If we talk about millennials, be it our last years of graduation, initial few years of bachelorhood and job there would have been one friend, one colleague who would have popped this question – “Let’s go to Goa this year” and after numerous plan failures, breakups, or after getting married, every second or third Indian would have succeeded in executing their plan. And we can say surely, it takes not an itinerary but a simply fun mood to visit Goa. Pack summer clothes, book a flight, and arrive in Goa that’s all you need. After all, what’s Goa if not “Beach, Booze, Food. Repeat”. This is at least true for the first or second visit and if you are doing this for the fifth or sixth time, and you are loving it, then you are at the wrong place searching for an itinerary. We will not call ourselves experts in Goa planning. But we can say with utmost confidence, that Goa might be amongst the smallest states in India, but it is the largest in terms of tourism. Don’t trust us? Open Instagram and search Goa. You will get at least 200 different pages only for Goa promoting one or another thing. Without further ado, let's focus on why you are reading this blog? So basically, every second person can make a Goa itinerary, but we hope to provide a different perspective on how to plan your next Goa trip. After researching, planning, visiting, and learning from mistakes on what to and what not to do in Goa, we present to you how to plan your next goa trip. As we mentioned, it's all about perspective when visiting Goa. Goa has two facets. One which is calm, exquisite, green, vast, and expensive on the pocket, or what we call South Goa. Then there is spoilt with choices, hip, and happening, yet exquisite and a little less expensive is North Goa. So based on your company, budget, and expectations from Goa (or simply perspective) you should choose where you want to spend your holidays. Oh and expecting you are there for a holiday of max a week or less. If you are spending around ten days or more, you can divide your stay and cover both parts. We will suggest if you are spending 4-5 days and are interested in covering both, then please don’t. You will not be able to enjoy both as much as you want. The distance between two locations(North and South) is about 3-5 hours, depending on your stay location with Airport being somewhere in middle. When and Why to Choose either South or North Goa? Starting with South Goa, this is the place for relaxation, meditation, and connecting with your inner self. Below is a snapshot of what your day will look like: Waking early in the morning around 6-7 and wearing an additional layer as you feel chill in the air. You will take your vehicle and visit the nearest beach where you will find missing human souls. You will sit on the shore and play with soothing waves crashing at your feet. You will be back at the hotel/resort for your breakfast and dip in not so chilling swimming pool. You will get ready and decide to explore forts, and waterfalls near you, which probably will be an hour's drive or more depending on your choice. You will hop from one waterfall to another and have lunch in one of the amazing restaurants before heading to watch the sunset on another beach. There will be a couple of enthusiasts like you on the beach, clicking photographs for Instagram or recording the next Youtube video. By the time sun says goodbyes you will be tired but your mind will be full of energy. Your next stop will be the resort where you will get ready for the night and head to another restaurant right on the beach for live music and some booze. You head back to the resort late to enjoy the next day lazily. If not a party lover, then you will find architectural beauty spilling on the roads here. You can turn to visit monuments during the day apart from beaches in the morning and evening to have an eventful day. In North Goa, all the things are in close vicinity. You will get restaurants, stores, and stay locations in abundance. When you are out in your vehicle, you will probably reach one hotspot to another in a very short span, whereas traveling time in South goa is a little longer as all the spots are scattered. You will see civilization and huge gatherings in North Goa which is totally opposite of South Goa. Selection of location comes down to your budget, if you can spend some extra and look for a quality, distant peaceful time, prefer South Goa. If you are tight on budget and want a similar feel as South Goa, you can opt for Airbnb in North of North Goa, i.e. near Vagator beach. Another highly helpful tool, especially in Goa is Google maps. Search your stay property and work outwards to find locations that you can explore on your humane strength and pocket strength. Just to give an idea average room tariff in South Goa will be around 3.5-5k (10-20% higher than North Goa of a similar rated stay location) One piece of advice: You cannot cover everything if you are not in a “traveling profession”. Pick things that your group likes, which they agree on, and as per your capacity. Please do not blindly follow Instagram or YouTube Ideas. Goa is your fun destination; it does not need to be a traveler’s course. To conclude we will give you some good tourist spots from South Goa: Cabo De Rama Fort and waterfall right along with Cape De Goa Waterfalls like Bamanbudo, Netralim, Mainapi, Doodhsagar, and the list goes on Untapped beaches like Butterfly beach, Mobor beach, Palolem beach among others Restaurants: The Farmhouse (a personal favorite), Leda Balcao, Martin’s Corner Coming to North Goa, the following will be our recommendations: Chapora fort (Dil Chahta hai), Fontainhaas, Immaculate Conception Church (though it is very crowded almost at all times) Beaches: Though most of them are crowded like Calangute, Candolim however there are some quiet beaches like Anjuna, Vagator which are further in the north Restaurants: Baba au Rhum (must visit), Artjuna, Caravella Coffee house (another must-visit) but in any case, there will be endless options for you in terms of food and restaurants here. Various water sports like parasailing, banana ride, jet and many more at almost all the major beaches of the city but do bargain well for the best price In addition, we will not personally recommend scuba diving in Goa if you are a scuba enthusiast, though it's cheap compared to other locations, it is not at all worth a single penny. They try to create a fake scuba experience better to explore it in other locations. So that concludes our take on Goa, hope we helped you gain some perspective when visiting Goa. Adios!! Travel, Mi Amor
- Kashmir : Planning your trip
Things to consider on planning your visit to Kashmir Good now you are thinking about arrangements to be done for Kashmir and for the ones who have directly landed on this page, you may want to read the introduction and can read it from here. Directly jumping on the topic, Kashmir trip can be planned according to your expectations and seasons. If you are interested in snow (like us) best time to visit is in Jan-Feb, its highly unpredictable in December to experience snowfall. Some of the places will have fresh snow like Gulmarg and Sonamarg but same cannot be said for all the locations. Though everyone in Srinagar claims that general snow weather starts by Mid-December. As Srinagar valley have amazing tulip gardens, and it can be experienced in Mar-April season (preferably April) However, if you want to experience blossoms and greenery, plan your travel for June-July month (just before rainy season) and everything will be bright and colorful. Logistics arrangement: There are multiple hotels available from ultra-luxury like The Lalit Palace (which was Maharaja Hari Singh Palace before and now with Abdullah family (J&K ex chief minister)), Taj Vivanta among others to very basic hotels. In Srinagar standard hotels offer basic amenities like hot water, electric blankets at the least, but no harm in confirming. Do also confirm electricity backup as Srinagar experiences lot of outages. Then you have options in Airbnb as well to choose from. We opted for Airbnb and chose Valley Heritage. Valley heritage resort is nestled in local dwellings very near to Hazratbal and Nigeen lake, however there is struggle for electricity hence when city faces power cuts, you will face difficulties to keep room warm and to overcome this challenge they have paid bukhari’s available. For more details on you can read through the reviews of the property on Airbnb through this link Another option in Srinagar is to go for Houseboats. On the contrary from their Kerala counterparts, these houseboats do not move and rather stay in one location. As most commonly known to everyone that houseboats are in Dal lake, it gets crowded and you may not get tranquillity experience as expected. To find solace, prefer Nigeen lake houseboats as they are few in numbers, gives similar experience and if you are here in summers, you can go for a swim in the lake as well. On top of that, you can easily take a Shikara ride from Nigeen lake to Dal Lake, which we found more serene and relaxing. Mobile network: We were informed all postpaid networks work in Kashmir. In our observation apart from Jio Postpaid, no other network worked, not even Airtel postpaid or Jio prepaid. Jio postpaid works fine even in locations like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam and many others. Taxi / Local Transport: If you are travelling within Srinagar, you will find autos and taxis available from multiple locations (hotel receptions can provide you sources details to hire a vehicle and it depends on your contingent size which vehicle suits you) however we learnt the hard way that taxi prices are too steep (generally taxi owners will quote very high prices like 3500 per day for a couple) however it will be test of your negotiations skills to bring that price down to 2000-2500 per day for car like Indica. Toyota / Innova will charge equivalently. But in any case do negotiate and try to bring down charges to half ( yes 50% reduction) that is the margin locals keep and it is applicable for everything ( you can expect limited negotiation possibilities in food and apparels) When you are planning for Kashmir trip consider following cost heads 1. Flights 2. Stays 3. Activities like Horse riding, Snow biking, Sledging, Skiing (optional spend but shall be considered) 4. Shopping and food – totally depends on you Flights from Delhi, if booked in time can be booked around or below 8k per person roundtrip. Staying locations – All the tourist destinations places like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam have hotels, some places like Pahalgam have plethora of options whereas in Sonamarg options are limited. In winters, as locations except Srinagar, have more snowfall days, some of the hotels shut their operations due to freezing water and hotels open for business will keep a hefty charge for stay (around 5k or more) If you are interested in waking up to snow covered trees and mountains, you can of course plan to book them. For a 5N stay in Srinagar your cost of stay will be around 15k on an average for one room. Choosing a hotel location is also critical as Srinagar has become crowded now, and if you are looking for peaceful locations then try for hotels and stay around Dal Lake / Nigeen lake and you will wake up to birds chirping and prayer offerings For details around the activities, shopping and their costing refer to location pages for more details. Read more about Kashmir from following links: Gulmarg: Land from Frozen Pahalgam: Adventurous soul of Kashmir Sonamarg: Land of Golden Mountain Hidden gems of Kashmir The Srinagar Jewel Srinagar: Roti, Kapda aur aap Piousness of Kashmir
- Srinagar : Roti, Kapda aur aap
Shop till you drop and then reenergize with supercilious food options Now its time to cover local markets and food options If I recall from my last visit to Srinagar in 2008 only shopping center I knew was near Lal Chowk however on this visit there were so many stores and outlets that have popped up every here and there. A new market location – Polo view market has come up with all the brands that are available locally in metro cities are now available in Srinagar as well. However, when you are in Srinagar, the expectation is to shop for local products and something which is not available in our hometown. Luckily we went shopping on Sunday and we recommend that you do shopping on Sunday only. As on Sunday, all the brand shops are closed and these market locations that is Polo view and Laal Chowk have small vendors lined up in front of shops. You will get amazing clothes and that too at economical prices. The winter apparels we got from here are very cozy and warm. Apart from that, another clothes market which is open throughout like a Tibet market is very near to Laal Chowk and there are multiple souvenir shops in that market as well. Now if you are interested in buying electric blankets or something similar then again Laal Chowk is the place to be. Moving from shopping to food, Srinagar has so many utterly delicious food options. Do try one of these restaurants when you are in Srinagar. Shwarma Hut near Hazrat Bal is the most sought restaurant for students nearby, and it offers veg and nonveg options. We were taken aback by the sheer quantity of the food. Their one bowl of veg or nonveg is enough for 3 and 4 people. Yes, their quantity is the first thing you will notice but then you will be happy with the flavors they add to food. You will surely be licking your fingers. Krishna Vaishno Dhaba: One of the oldest restaurants in Srinagar and located near to the city center, it is the most visited restaurant in town. From its façade, you will not believe that how come this restaurant is so famous and when you are inside then you will see how chaos can be managed. Restaurants have sharing tables concept and the fastest food service we have come across. From the time you place the order to the time food is on the table you can count minutes on your fingers. You will be thinking that food will not be that good if the service is so quick, but this is where you will be proven wrong. You will be comparing and maybe keeping Krishna Dhaba higher on your list than most Dhabas in Murthal (Sonipat). I am sure you will be eating more than you thought when you made your first order. Mummy Please: Yup, you read it write, there is a restaurant in Srinagar by the same name and offers fast food from various outlets. We tried their veg burger and it was good though not at the same level you expect in Delhi or Mumbai however it was good to fulfill your fast food cravings. Some of the nonveg options which are very sought out are Ahdoos and Mughal Darbar. They were highly recommended to us by our guide and they both are very near to Polo View market. If you are a nonveg fan, you may want to try these restaurants to satisfy your taste buds. Finally, it's time to wrap up the Kashmir visit. We have tried to be as comprehensive as possible for you to make travel plans accordingly. Hope you have a good read. Enjoy your next trip to Kashmir. Till next time!! Adios!! Read more about Kashmir from following links: Gulmarg: Land from Frozen Pahalgam: Adventurous soul of Kashmir Sonamarg: Land of Golden Mountain Hidden gems of Kashmir The Srinagar Jewel Kashmir: Planning your trip Piousness of Kashmir
- Srinagar : Capital city entwined in Past, Present, and Future
City with historic significance and becoming major economy contributor Srinagar, the capital city of J&K is very similar to other capital cities of the country. There is one side of the city that is getting influenced by modernization and social media platforms and then there is another side of the city that is still dwelling in the past and struggling with the adversities left behind by our elder generation. Struggles and harmony co-exist in this city and you get to experience both. In our observations, things are changing for good in Srinagar valley, as you observe education hoardings, hostels, PGs advertising IITs, NITs for the next generation to grow and contribute to society in a transformative way. It was a good sign that the education sector, which holds the key to bringing ever-lasting peace is now at the center of the city. Stay options When you are in Srinagar, as your base camp, you may opt for staying in a hotel ( mostly located near and around the city center), houseboats, or Airbnb as per your convenience. Generally, an option which is most explored is to keep 1N stay in houseboat, few days stay in a hotel and few days stay in other locations. We took a slightly different approach to stay in Airbnb throughout as we found houseboat stay a little discomforting. We are not particularly cozy in a closed, confined kind of stay. Let’s discover what we can do in Srinagar and how many days at least need to be spent in the city. Locations to cover It is advised that you keep at least two days for Srinagar, and you can split it in a way like if you reach early on the day of your landing you can cover the Shikhara ride on Day 0 ( it takes around one hour to complete the ride (basic ride) though you can extend it by shelling few more bucks). Also, you can cover the Hazrat Bal shrine which is second to Jama Masjid (oldest Masjid in Srinagar), however, its historic significance is second to none. You can visit it for its beautiful peaceful surroundings. One full day can be kept for Srinagar to cover the rest of the tourist spots and do some shopping as well. When it comes to tourist attractions, most of the tourist attractions are located in a 25-30km Dal lake semi-circle. You can start from one end of the lake and unravel all the locations in a single visit. All of the locations start opening up around 10:00 AM so you may be the first one to reach one of these locations if you are standing at the gate right at 10’o clock. The Dal Circle Most of the locations here are “Bagh” or Gardens and they were curated during Mughal times. The centerpiece of attraction in these locations is “Chinar” trees and their leaves are very similar to maple leaves. During December – January most of the “Chinar” trees shed off all their leaves and you can bring back some leaves for decorative purposes. If you enter from one side of the Lake, you can start with Nishat Bagh, which is seven layers of gardens beautifully maintained and curated. As soon as you are through the entry door, a royal feeling is imminent to take over. As you progress further in the garden, you respect the way the garden has been maintained over the years and how magnificently they stand just on the corner of Dal lake. Yes, it’s true, in winter garden will not be blooming with budding flowers, yet the garden aura can be expressed in contrasting colors which represents a very important phase of transformation. As you move out from Nishat Bagh, you can next visit the Shalimar Bagh / Botanical Gardens. They are very similar to Nishat Bagh and again very beautifully maintained. Given the time of the year, they all have very similar vibes, so you can pick and choose which gardens you want to cover. You may not find anything different here. All the gardens are spread across acres and if you are interested in spending some quality time in open spaces, there is nothing better than these gardens. Next, you can cover Chashme Shahi and Pari Bagh. Roads leading to Chashme shahi and in particular, Pari Bagh are breathtaking. If you are lucky, you may come across some amazing fauna and possibly some of the wild animals as well. We decided to go to Pari Bagh first and though the gardens are very well maintained, they had those old rocky formations of the wall and looked like a painting out of a history book. Views of the Srinagar valley were stand out of Pari Bagh. Area wise Pari Bagh is smaller than Nishat Bagh or others however “layered garden” architecture is common. On our return from Pari Bagh, we stopped at Chashme Shahi and the major difference here is the natural spring water around which this garden has been developed. You can drink natural spring water and it is said that it does have medicinal properties. For all the gardens that we have mentioned, there are a lot of stairs in all of them. So if you have elderly in the group, they may struggle with all of the walking engaged. If you have to pick with least stairs, we recommend Botanical gardens and Pari Bagh as one can enjoy enough at one level. The last stop in Dal lake circle is going to be Shankaracharya Temple, located on the hilltop and near the famous TV tower. Govt has created multiple viewpoints on the hill where you can stop and enjoy the valley from different locations. Due to very limited traffic police near temple premises, traffic jams are pretty common, so you have to keep a good buffer time. Another important thing here is you cannot take any mobile phones, cameras with you. So you have to keep them in your cars/vehicles or deposit them with security at the entrance of the premises. As Shankaracharya temple is located on the highest point of the hill, you will be greeted with 250 steps stone bases stairs. So be ready for your cardio exercise of the day. As soon as you reach the temple entrance and as you look down from your location, all this exercise will look worth it. You will then see Dal lake is not just a lake in a big circle, it has a snake-like tail and goes for miles. When you visit the prayer site of the temple and think about how this temple was built, you surely will experience goosebumps that it was built centuries ago when engineering was not at its prime. On the side exit of the temple, you have a small temple dedicated to Guru Shankracharya, where he meditated for years. It is a small cozy place and you keep wondering how is this possible to stay let alone meditate in this. With this, we have covered must-visit locations in Srinagar check out the food and local markets and other places from the following links: Gulmarg: Land from Frozen Pahalgam: Adventurous soul of Kashmir Sonamarg: Land of Golden Mountain Hidden gems of Kashmir Srinagar : Roti, Kapda aur aap Kashmir: Planning your trip Piousness of Kashmir
- Hidden Gems of Kashmir
Aharbal / Yousmarg: Kashmir’s Niagra falls and Meadow of Jesus So far you have covered must-visit places and though choices to visit are endless. If you have additional days or someplace you do not want to cover from the previously provided details, Checkout these options as well: Both Aharbal and Yousmarg are in the same direction, but we observed taxi drivers can take you to one of them only. Maybe if you negotiate and plan better they may agree to cover both. We also heard Doodhpathri is also a good option however our taxi operator had no idea about the place so we had to completely drop that option. We went ahead with Aharbal waterfall as we had covered a lot of valleys already. Reaching Aharbal Aharbal waterfall is again a 2 – 2:30 hr drive from Srinagar and crosses the ancient Mughal Road (Road from Srinagar to Delhi) which was used for commuting in the Mughal era. If you go through Aharbal waterfall videos on youtube, you will find this place irresistible as it makes you wonder if there is such a place, why everyone is not talking about this place. Aharbal is very beautiful when there is a good snowfall, otherwise, it is a "good to visit" place and not a "must visit" place. From parking lot to the actual waterfall, there are good 200-300 steps you have to cover. You will find two “shahi” streams or natural spring streams which are drinking water streams with medicinal effects. Once you are near to Aharbal waterfall, you will observe how splendidly the Veshu river is cutting across and leaving behind this out-of-the-world landscape. With its clean, sparkly water, it just attracts you to take a dive and emerge as one with the water. You can easily spend around 2-3 hours here as it provides the perfect “picnic” spot. Another option : Yousmarg Moving to the other choice, Yousmarg, though we did not get time to visit this place, however, our research showed that Yousmarg is on similar lines as Sonamarg and provides scenic background that you come across in postcards and paintings. Unfortunately, we don’t have details for you to offer and if you are interested in Yousmarg, you may want to rely on other information sources. That concludes our journey to locations around Srinagar, so the next stop will be the crown of Kashmir, Srinagar. Read about other places from following link: Gulmarg: Land from Frozen Pahalgam: Adventurous soul of Kashmir Sonamarg: Land of Golden Mountain The Srinagar Jewel Srinagar : Roti, Kapda aur aap Kashmir: Planning your trip Piousness of Kashmir
- Pahalgam : Adventurous soul of Kashmir
If you have heard about the famous “Amarnath Shrine” then you might have heard about Pahalgam, as it is the base for Amarnath shrine visitors. All the way: When you start your journey from Srinagar, before you reach Pahalgam you will find many hidden gems en route. Starting with the Saffron land of Kashmir. You will cover the infamous Pampore district which is the Saffron capital of India, in the Summer months you can see Saffron flowers in the laid out fields clearly but winters are for sowing and preparing for harvest. Just after crossing Pampore, you will cover Avantipore, which hosts temple ruins dated 9th century – “The Avanthiswami Temple”. These temples are easily accessible by road and they are magnificent even today. From the temple ruins, you can easily imagine how grandeur these temples would have been in their time. The entrance of the temple is the majority of the structure standing as of today and these temple structures are completely different from what we have seen anywhere else in India. Generally, these temples are not visited that frequently so you can cover them very easily in less than 45 mins. After you have crossed Awantipore, another destination with a similar vibe is Anantnag Martand Sun temple, and you can reach it by taking a very small detour (approx. 5-6 km). Martand temples date back to the 8th century. In case you are short on time, prefer Martand Sun temple over Avantipore. The Lidder Valley is also en route to Pahalgam and it runs parallel to the highway to Pahalgam. For those interested, one can take a short break and spend some time on the curves of the river. Pahalgam : Chapter I Your vantage point in Pahalgam is the local taxi stand. Hotels, local viewpoints, restaurants are all located near to it. As you start your journey to a tete-a-tete with nature in Pahalgam, you will see there are about 8-10 places that you can visit, if you want to cover them on foot it is a mixture of trekking and lots of walking on a treacherous path, so if you are a trekking junkie this is nothing short of small heaven for you and it will take an almost full day to explore all the places. Yes, you will be elbowed and forced by horse/pony owners to go for a ride rather than walking and it will take a lot of willpower to say no to them all. They can be very persuasive and sticky. Now if you choose for a horse/pony ride, then again it will take 5-6 hours to cover all the places, and though you can pick and choose your locations, at the least, covering important ones is going to take 3-4 hours. One place that you should not miss in Pahalgam is Baisaran valley, locally known as “Mini Switzerland” it’s like as shown in the photograph below with endless valley with pine trees as boundary and shadows of faraway mountains. Advisory: If you choose for pony/horse, you will experience the same thing as all other places, prices quoted by them, irrespective of viewpoints (valleys), will be exorbitant and you will sarcastically laugh for sure. So go by the rule of 50%, where at the very least you should ask for a 50% reduction in the price. If you bring prices lower than 50% that means you have good negotiation skills. Now pony ride in Pahalgam is one adventure sport with little risk involved, so trust your guide and follow their instructions for a safe and happy trip. Pahalgam tourist spots are very beautiful when they are snow-laden. In absence of snow these locations come out generic and not worthy, so we will suggest in case there has been no snowfall at the time of you reaching there, do not take the pain of covering all the spots. Pick one or two and that will be enough to experience Pahalgam. You will not find any public convenience in any of the tourist spots here so again be sure that you have done the bladder check before embarking on the journey ( some restaurants or public conveniences can be found at the start of the journey) Eating joints are very limited here, you can try Punjab restaurant which offers quick service and average food. Or you can try Maggi/Tea from the small temp outlets at tourist spots on your tour. Pahalgam: Chapter II From Pahalgam taxi stand, You can further visit Aru valley, Betaab valley, and Chandanwari ( another base camp for Amarnath yatra). If you are traveling via a private vehicle then you are permitted to take your vehicle however if you are on a commercial vehicle then you will have to hire a new commercial vehicle from Pahalgam Taxi Stand. A Commercial vehicle with the least price here is Maruti Omni and then it goes till tempo traveler depending on your group size. Prices are standard for these hired vehicles, it is recommended to hire from taxi stand only. Chandanwari and Betaab valley are on the same route whereas Aru valley is on a different route. Due to time constraints, and failure in our planning we had to drop Aru valley and we went ahead with Betaab and Chandanwari. Chandanwari came across as one of the exquisite locations of our trip as we encountered snow and very low temperatures, though we did not reach the main entrance of Chandanwari as the road was slippery with snow so we took a short walk till there and had some good time enjoying the valley and snow. On our return, we observed Betaab valley from a height and as there was snow fall in the Betaab valley it looked like an exotic garden our tuning with Betaab did not set on the same frequency so we dropped it as well ( it was around 6 PM and the sun was setting so did not make sense for us to visit Betaab late in the night). Though we were not able to visit Aru valley, we recommend that you visit this valley. In our research, we found Aru valley as a must-see place owing to its beautiful landscape and picture-perfect environment. Read more about Kashmir Gulmarg: Land from Frozen Sonamarg: Land of Golden Mountain Hidden gems of Kashmir The Srinagar Jewel Srinagar : Roti, Kapda aur aap Kashmir: Planning your trip Piousness of Kashmir
- Sonamarg: Land of Golden Mountain
Irresistible hidden beauty spreading warmth through sunshine Another jewel that must be covered when in Kashmir is the land of golden mountain aka Sonamarg. Its name is derived from the first sunlight that turns the mountain golden hence the whole valley is called Sonamarg. Sonamarg is around two to two and a half-hour drive from Srinagar depending on what time you leave. As again we request you to leave around 7:30 – 8:00 in the morning to enjoy locations with a thinner crowd (something we learned is a good thing during Covid-19) There is a saying that it's not the destination but the journey, which is better, however, in this case, Sonamarg proves this statement wrong. Sonamarg valley is now attracting more and more crowds as the last scenes of “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” were shot here (some of the scenes were shot in Pahalgam as well). Reaching Sonamarg Sonamarg, situated in the northeast of Srinagar also acts as a gateway to paradise lands of Ladakh. Sonamarg has multiple hotels located on the bank of the Sind river and very few public food eateries. When you reach Sonamarg it will not feel like a destination as it’s a moving road and you are sitting on one corner and thinking is this it? Have we reached? But then if you observe closely you see ponies, snow bikes, and then everything starts making sense. Struggles here are the same as in Gulmarg. (attach a photo here) Things to cover Few tourist points have been identified and marked for everyone’s convenience. Locals call them base 1 is “Suicide point and “Sonamarg base” then at the second level is “Thajivas glacier” then little ahead is water stream and we heard about the cave as well but our guide said that was closed ( not sure whether it was true or not). When you are in these locations you get ample time to spend with snow-laden land, mesmerizing mountains and fun activities like skiing, sled rides, here sled slopes are bigger than Gulmarg, so do have fun sled rides as seen in western movies, cartoons, it makes more sense here. (attach a photo here) You can reach these points either by trekking or ponies. Pony rise will cost you around 1000-1500 INR (heavy bargain required) Keep things in mind: One very important fact is, at the tourist locations on the top, there is no public convenience available, so it is better to have tummy and bladder check done at the parking spot. Unlike Gulmarg, all the hotels, restaurants get closed if there has been snowfall or prediction of heavy snowfall in the next few days, so booking your stay in Sonamarg can be risky. It is better to book your accommodation for Sonamarg (if you are planning to stay) only when you are in Kashmir. We found Country Inn by Radisson only hotel open in Sonamarg valley for the time we were there and it was also closing operations as heavy snowfall was predicted the day after. Sonamarg is also starting point for many Kashmir treks like Kashmir great lakes, Vishansar trek among others. Good luck to you all trekking lovers, hope you find an amazing adventure on your visits. That’s all folks for Sonamarg. Time to move to next destination. You can read about the rest of the locations from the following links: Gulmarg: Land from Frozen Pahalgam: Adventurous soul of Kashmir Hidden gems of Kashmir Srinagar : Roti, Kapda aur aap Kashmir: Planning your trip Piousness of Kashmir