McLeodGanj, Himachal, India

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t posted anything for a year, what a shame! But I had had an exciting time meanwhile. Out of many trips (hopefully I will write a blog for each one), being to McleodGanj was the most exciting and enlightening. I went there to learn an introductory course on Buddhism at Tushita.

I was attracted to Buddhism after reading an amazing book “Tibetan book of living and dying”, a book I should credit for changing my outlook of world and death – filled wealth of  wisdom. However I wanted to fill the gap of knowledge fundamentals; I enrolled to “Introduction to Buddhism”, 10 days residential course.

10 days of blissful meditation, inspiring teaching and soulful food has left me cleansed of the dirt of anxious life. The little bit of knowledge I gained and practice has brought subtle and greater change in me. All residents are not allowed to talk, kill(anything crawling/walking/flying) or engage in worldly affairs.  All we had to do was meditate, read, listen to teaching and do some karma jobs.

After this delightful time, I was fortunate to be a part of HH Dalai Lama’s teaching. I was able to see him all four days, except on the last day I shook hands with him, an experience I will always cherish. Trust me, his every action is filled  with compassion, when he look towards us who were sitting in front, I couldn’t contain my tears. He is overflowing with compassion.

I also did enjoy the local food and events, made alot of friends whom I am still in touch with. Just wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Exploring Goa

Guest post by Devarshi Patel.

If you are a beach bum, like me, I am sure you can never have enough of beaches in your life, right? Goa, the beach paradise of India is the most favored vacation spot among the beach lovers. Besides beaches, there are plenty of other beautiful places to visit most importantly churches, water fall and forts.

As the taxis are surprisingly expensive, the best option is to hire a two wheeler. It will cost 250-300 Rs. per day.

It was 1st may, the sky was blue, the air was crisp and the sun was shining gloriously, when I stepped out from the bus. The first day in Goa, We stayed at “SARAYA”. One of the rare place, that brings you very close to nature. Indeed, One sleeps here under a tree, Can have dinner sitting on a wood prank and Can have a pizza made in mudoven. The owners have used natural wood / organic substances to furnish the place, and the surrounding adds more to this harmonious atmosphere. Staying off the beach is, in fact, a far better way to get a taste of traditional Goan hospitality.

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On the same day we went to the Divar Island situated in Old Goa. Portuguese influence is every where here in the architecture and religion. Along the road behind the coconut trees, there are villas painted with bright primary colors. The Church of Our Lady of Compassion is located in Piedade, which is one of the Divar’s largest village, that has great panoramic views. The church designed by a Goan priest is known to be the first Christian structure erected here and is a charismatic building dating from the early 17th century.

After this, we went to a place, where I experienced the eternal feeling of spiritualty, The “Bom Jesus Basilica Church” (UNESCO World Heritage Site) . Construction of this massive structure was commenced in 1594 and was completed in 1605. The moment you step into the church, the feeling of tranquility flows in your body. Inside the church, on the right side, there is the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, that are kept in the casket. The casket is kept at a good height and the amazing thing is that one cannot get clear snapshots of the Saint’s body.

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Just across the road are St Catherine’s Chapel, Archeological Museum and St Francis of Assissi Church.

On the Second day, we planned for the north Goa. We started our day with the Miramar beach, here we did a boat ride in which sighting the Dolphin , the aguada fort, the central jail, House where “haseena man jayegi ” (Bollywood) movie was shot etc were included. It cost us 300 Rs. per head.

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Then we went to the Dona Paula. Dona Paula is on the mouth of River Zuari. So large, that one can easily mistake it for a sea! The place where many of the Bollywood movies are shot like Singham and Murder 3. A viewing point on the cliff offers an excellent view.

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We headed for the Fort Aguada, but on the way we went to the Sinquerim beach. The view here is wonderful and it has the water rides same as the famous beaches like Baga and Calanguate, But here the cost is comparatively less.

The Fort Aguada, it is the Portuguese fort now maintained by the archaeological survey of India. It served as a chamber for storing fresh water and also was a guard against the Dutch and the Maratha’s. A scene in the famous Bollywood movie ” Dil Chata Hain ” was shot here. The fort is locked up after 5.30, make sure you reach before it.

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The light house is situated near by the Fort Aguada. The view from the top of light house is really incredible, The cool breeze and the sound of waves !! I was completely hypnotized by the beauty that I witnessed. Don’t miss the experience.

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Then, the Baga beach (Most popular and crowded beach of North Goa). The main road that connects the Baga and Calanguate beach is lined up with cheap mini mall-style architecture.

Anjuna Beach, just near by the Baga beach. This beach is the most silent beach of north Goa. I felt completely mesmerized by the water here. I witnessed the best sun set and evening of my life, Astonishing beach very silent and peaceful. Don’t miss a walk here. This is the ultimate one, for the people, who love to hear to the sound of waves without any hinderance.

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Next day we started for south Goa. The best way to reach there, is to take a Government bus or it will be very expensive by taxi or auto. On reaching there, we rented a two wheeler. Our hotel was near to the Colva beach, Something similar to the Baga beach.

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We en routed for the Palolem beach !!! I had included this place in my list after being enamored by its description and pics on google. The way to the beach is lined up both the sides, by trees and hills on either sides, astounding view. The numerous small islands visible from the beach, adorning it.

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We took a ride on a boat from here. The helmsman will take you to the butterfly island. This ride was the most thrilling ride of my life, fascinating experience. The moment you reach butterfly beach, it has the high hill on one side and on the other side an incessant sea !! Visit this place in evening to experience its best part.

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The Cabo de rama fort is near by. It was dark, when we left from the Palolem so, we missed this place. On the way to Palolem, we went to Mobor beach, a silent one.

For the next day, we planned for the “Dudhsagar Falls ”. It is quite far from south Goa. We started early in morning around 7.30 AM and reached there by 10.30 AM. Falls are not directly accessible. An easy way to reach Dudhsagar is to hire a jeep from Castle Rock or the nearby village, which will guide you through the forests to the falls, Personal vehicles are not allowed here.

It took an hour to reach falls in Jeep, through the forest. The moment I came out from Jeep, the sound of water fall was apparently audible. I could not wait to see the beautiful place, that I had seen only in Pics. Finally after a walk of 15 mins, the fascinating scene, most appealing one, was there in front of my eyes. The water of it was so pure and clear, the feeling of pleasure was unimaginable, when I touched it. Unfortunately, due to my lack of swimming skills, I could not go near the falls. This is the place, that you ought not to miss, if you visit Goa.

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The optimal time to visit Goa is in october. Goan’s best attitude of live-and-let-live, is what I admired the most. The places which I will surely recommend are : the Basilica church, Anjuna Beach, The light house, Saraya and the Dudhsagar falls.

Everest Base Camp 5364m

I have come back ten years younger or I have come back with fitness of a marathon runner. My hair has become silky, jaw line is well defined and my skin has got 14 days free spa treatment. Nothing came easy. I was fully put into test mentally, physically and emotionally. Once I sat down on a rock surrounded by vast void of thin air and colossal rocks while my eyes couldn’t contain the overflowing tears, and I don’t know why. I haven’t fully recovered while I am writing this after 3 weeks since I finished the trek. I still feel the need for incubated nourishment of Biriyani and beer injected into my veins directly.

15987328216_dd71f3bfa1_oThe trip started at Lukla to Phakding. And then to Namche and tengboche. Tengboche is unforgettable. We were lucky enough to go to the proter’s house to try ‘Raksi’, a very delicious clear water like drink served hot. Taste of Raksi was enlivend by a beautiful girl there. No lip gloss could make any lips as hers, No make up artist could recreate her rosy cheeks. I was more intoxicated with her smile than Raksi itself. The gentleman inside us walked out as we sipped and gulped the drink. Our eyes stuck on her like a chewing gum in shoe. Once my corporate mind thought I could marry her and become a Nepal citizen, as Nepal citizens don’t pay to climb Mt.Everest which was an addon. We decided to take the trek further to Dingboche while I let the pervert inside me sleep till I return back. We furthered our trek to Gorekshep.

16013168625_6e22b8d5f2_oWith fear to finish creeped in, we treked to Kalapattar and Everest Base Camp. The proud moment has come. We were at Everest base camp, 5364 meters above sea level. It wasn’t any close to easy, there are people who say it’s easy, but the world knows you are just having a poker face while saying that.

15393782204_86713312fe_oEnduring the monotony of eating, hiking and sleeping is also an adventure. In a group every one comes with a different idea, like mine was to see Mt.Everest someone else’s was to find peace. But mighty humble mountains teach us more than we realise.

I ate this in Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Ahmedabad is a place for foodies. There is a restaurant or snack shop every hundred feet, The food is rich and inexpensive. Fresh Ghee, butter and cheese are part of almost every receipe. Ahmedabad aka Amdavad is a abode for those with sweet tooth. Those exclusive snack shop always leaves me confused with options. And Paan shops with options like singoda paan, chocolate paan, dry fruit paan etc., has left me speechless (It was quite stuffy in my mouth).

Gujarathi Thali

There are many restaurants that offer meals like this, which is the only option and there is no À la carte at these places. Usually there are many items in a thali which cost betweem 200-300 INR, the wonderful news is everything is unlimited. I also had a thali with less items and unlimited quantity for just 50 INR.

atithi

pakwan

The colorful lot

manek chowk

pav manek chowk

Gujarathi Snacks manek chowk

khamand

Paan ashok a/c pan shop