During our stay in Kathmandu, we were deliberating on going to Nagarkot or Pokhara, but travelling to either of these places meant that we would need to spend a night there to see the sunset and the sunrise. Given our short schedule, we ruled out the visit to these places, as it would be difficult to drive back in the evening after sunset. These are the tourist places in Kathmandu that we visited instead:
About 20 km away from Kathmandu city centre, is a temple called Doleshwar Mahadeva, which is believed to be the head of Kedarnath temple, one of the most prominent Hindu pilgrimages in Uttarakhand, India. Given its religious significance, Birbal suggested that we go there.
It was a pleasant uphill drive with views of terraced hills and the valley. On the way up, I requested Birbal to stop at places from where we could get good views. He willingly obliged.
On reaching the temple, we found that it is a small, quaint place in the lap of the hills. The Shiva sculpture at the Doleshwar shrine is supposed to be 4000 years old. There were very few people. The temple was completely devastated by the 2015 earthquake and reconstruction work was going on. We bought some offering and went to the shrine, where a local person recited a stuti (prayer). We spend a few quiet moments at the temple and then proceeded to the other places.
I frankly admit that the impression that I had formed of Kathmandu, until recently, was solely on the basis of the scenes of some of the Hindi movies (such as Hare Rama Hare Krishna, and more recently Baby) and Indiana Jones movies that I had seen. That was before we (husband and me) packed off for a short trip, leaving our cat in the safe custody of my daughter, who has come home on vacation. The destination obviously was Kathmandu – an offbeat place but well suited for a short summer getaway, especially for heritage lovers like me.
Arrival at Kathmandu
Taking a morning flight from Mumbai, we landed in Kathmandu by noon. It had rained in the morning, due to which the temperature had dropped and the weather had turned pleasant. A huge poster of Deepika Padukone with an Oppo phone greeted us at the Tribhuvan International airport, where I was expecting to see posters of people in their traditional Nepali costumes. Repair work was being carried on at the airport escalators, which made me a little sceptical while using those.
The hotel Annapurna was not very far away and we reached the hotel in half an hour. While entering, we could see the Narayan Hiti Palace Museum, which was at a five minutes walking distance from the hotel gate. We decided to go there after we had rested for some time.
However, on reaching the Narayan Hiti Palace Museum, we found that it was closed. So we kept walking towards the Thamel shopping area. I saw that most of the people on the road had covered their nose with a dust mask, which I later found is a common practice all over Kathmandu.
Real museums are places where time is transformed into space. ~ Orhan Pamuk
I have always enjoyed trips to museums. My penchant for a visit to museums goes back to my school days when our teachers would take us for trips to museums and gardens. In most of the cities that I have visited, I have gone to see the city museum to get a hang of the history and heritage of the place. I find the museums to be treasure houses of wealth where one gets to see and know how generations have lived and progressed through the ages, understand their way of life, and appreciate their art and culture. Furthermore, the entry to most of the museums is either free or highly subsidised.
The oldest museum in Mumbai
Last weekend, my husband asked me if I wanted to go to the oldest museum in Mumbai. Needless to say, I was more than happy at the suggestion. Off we went to see Mumbai’s city museum, which was first opened to the public in 1872 as Victoria and Albert Museum. The readers of this blog may recall that some time back I had written about my visit to the Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur.
So, we got to know the museum was renamed in 1975 in honour of Dr Bhau Daji Lad, the first Indian Sheriff of Mumbai, a philanthropist, historian, physician, surgeon,who had played a key role in establishing the museum.
“Jantar Mantar” meaning “instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens” is situated right opposite the City Palace in Jaipur. Coming out of the gates of City Palace, I stopped at the ticket window to purchase the entry tickets to the observatory.
As I entered I found that the observatory complex is a large one, and has a collection of several (19 in all) architectural astronomical instruments that had been constructed in the early 18th century, with stone, marble and bronze. These devices were used to measure time and space, and for observing the astronomical positions of planets and stars. One of the instruments was the world’s biggest stone sundial, which gives the local time with an accuracy of 2 seconds.
Of particular interest to me were twelve instruments, known as Zodiacic Circles, which were used for measuring the latitude and longitude of celestial bodies. There are twelve such instruments corresponding to each zodiac sign.
Mabel Kwong, who is an avid traveler, pointed out that while preparing for solo travel, she plans very thoroughly and checks out if the place has been in news recently for any wrong reasons. I couldn’t have agreed more.
Monica, a travel consultant understands the initial fear of some of her clients to travel solo, and feels happy when she helps them to overcome their fear. Jennifer Jeneu finds solo travel empowering. Em Aboard believes that you definitely take in your surroundings much more when you travel alone.
‘Travelling solo helps us to connect with self and the surrounding with equal vigor,’ says Nihar Pradhan.
True that! Being in a different place and in a different context helps us to see things in a new light, and being on our own makes us more perceptive to our surroundings. Based on our perceptions of the place, we form our impressions of the place.
In this post, I share my impressions of the city of Jaipur, while on the solo trip.
It was 1 PM in the afternoon. After lapping up all there was to seen in Pattadakal and Aihole, we proceeded towards Hampi, which is at distance of around 150 km from Aihole. The stretch of road between Aihole and Hampi being smooth, we had an easy drive.
On the way, as we passed through Kamalapur, we saw a lake in which the water had a pinkish tinge, appearing as if it had borrowed its shade from the nearby reddish hills.
Pattadakal, a small village in Bagalkot district of Karnataka, is a name that I had not heard of till recently, but after seeing the place enroute to Hampi from Badami caves, I was so enthralled by its beauty and richness of art that if I have to describe the place in one word it would be ‘mesmerizing’.
This small village, situated on the bank of Malaprabha river, is a UNESCO World heritage site with a cultural legacy dating back to the 6th century BC.
Starting out from Badami, in the morning at around 8 AM, we reached Pattadakal in less than an hour. On entering the heritage complex, I found a picturesque site of ancient stone temples in sprawling green lawns with palm trees lined on the sides, and with light red sandstone hills in the backdrop.
Diwali, is the festive time that brings in happiness and cheer. It is also the time, for long weekends. To make good use of this long Diwali weekend, we started out on a road trip from Mumbai towards Karnataka. My endless fascination for rocks, caves and historical monuments drove us to the heritage sites of Badami and Hampi.
Starting out in the morning at 7.45 AM, we drove to Pune via Mumbai Pune Expressway and then took the National Highway NH4. By the time we reached Belgaum, it was 5.30 PM in the evening. We had decided to stop over at a hotel in Belgaum for the night.
Next day morning we took the Bachi – Raipur state highway upto Lokapur, and then hit the road to Badami. This stretch of the road passes through the countryside. It is best covered during the daylight as it can get confusing for travelers who are not familiar with the route. Relying heavily on the Google Maps we drove by. A few marigold and sunflower fields on the way presented a pretty sight.