Unique Places in India

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  • udtaparindaa's Profile Photo

    Try some Sugarcane and "Gud"

    by udtaparindaa Updated Jun 6, 2014

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    India being the 2nd largest producer of Sugarcane, this is one thing you should try. You would find street vendors selling sugar cane cut into pieces. It's quite cheap and tastes super sweet and delicious. You chew and suck out all the juices and throw out the roughage.

    Although more easily available in summer, it's still available almost round the year now. Sugarcane is called "Ganna" in Hindi and is mostly identifiable by the same name in major parts of the country.

    "Gud" or "Gur" as locally known in India is Jaggery, a solidified molasses and is traditionally produced by evaporating juice to make a thick sludge, and then cooling and molding it in buckets. Modern production partially freeze dries the juice to reduce caramelization and lighten its color. It is used as sweetener in cooking traditional entrees, sweets and desserts.
    It's available with varying flavors across the country but I personally love the one made in UP and around Delhi.

    Sugarcane Juice is undoubtedly the most common form in which one would find it in the streets of India. Try it with a pinch of salt and half a slice of lemon and you would go for another glass of it :)

    sliced raw sugarcane pieces Gud...a common dessert in North India
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  • udtaparindaa's Profile Photo

    Kos Minars - The ancient milestones!!

    by udtaparindaa Updated May 17, 2014

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    First constructed by Sher Shah Suri along the Grand Trunk Road, these were later even used by several Mughal emperors to mark the distances on their key routes. Not only they served as milestones but also roadside inns were made for travelers rest and comfort. They don't have much architectural significance but a huge historical significance.

    "Kos" is an old unit of distance used in India which maybe equal to either 1.8 kms or 3.2 kms (I have no clue how and why). "Minar" means Tower and is a persian word by origin that is used in India too (as a part of general Hindi that we speak).

    Many of the Kos Minars are in very bad state but in recent years many have been restored too including the one near the house I currently live in (see the pic above). A small public garden has been made around it and a board displaying it's historical significance has been put up too.

    Kos Minar near my house
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    Another view of the Taj Mahal, Agra.

    by worldkiwi Updated May 14, 2014

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    For another angle on the Taj Mahal, consider taking an autorickshaw to the north bank of the Yamuna River and paying 100 rupees to enter Mehtab Bagh, a garden park opposite the Taj Mahal. Keen to get some morning pictures of the Taj Mahal on my tour, I headed here early on a much sunnier morning than the previous evening had been. The views are quite nice and the park is very peaceful, compared to the hectic and trampling crowds of the Taj Mahal grounds. You might want to combine a stop at Mehtab Bagh with a visit to the "Baby Taj", also on this side of the river.

    Mehtab Bagh offers great views of Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal in the morning sun and a blue sky. Taj Mahal from the north (Mehtab Bagh). Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh, Agra.
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    Farms!

    by Florida999 Written Apr 15, 2014

    If you get a chance, I would recommend wandering around some farmland and see what they are like. People are generally very friendly and wave at you, yelling "namaste" , and the kids might come running and yell " 100 rupees please!" ( you can give them 10 for a photo, I was told that was an acceptable price). My husband didn't like them asking for money, but I didn't really have a problem with it. 10 IRP is much less than a $ and these farmers are not animals in a zoo you can just take pictures of. At least they should get something for ending up on someone's Iphone, laptop or here on VT!
    Some of the farming is still done like a hundred years ago in the west ( or more) , they are still cutting animal feed by hand , mostly the women! The guys drive the tractors , if they have one, or sell stuff at roadside stands, or just sit there and do nothing. All the women appeared to be working.

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    Kuldhara – A haunted village near Jaisalmer

    by vinod-bhojak Written Mar 13, 2014

    Kuldhara story is one of the weirdest and inspiring stories I’ve ever heard. About 15 Km. west of Jaisalmer a city in western Rajasthan lies the ruins of a village which was called Kuldhara.
    The first look of the village is very haunting and sad with ruins all over. On reaching this village, you will be welcomed by a sand stone gate built just before the village was abandoned. Once in the village Kuldhara, you will feel as if you have stepped into an entirely different world. Wide dusty roads and sand stone houses on either side of roads depict the architectural marvel of the Paliwal Brahmins. Few houses have been restored and these restored houses display courtyards, kitchen, along with other rooms. The Kuldhara village also has temples.Kuldhara was the name of the largest village in this community consisting of 84 villages. The village was established in 1291 by the Paliwal Brahmins and was a rather prosperous community due to their ability to grow bumper crops in the rather arid desert. Paliwal bhramins were a very prosperous clan and were known for their business acumen and agricultural knowledge. But one night in 1825 all the people in Kuldhara and nearby 83 villages vanished in dark. Why did the villagers decide to leave their settlement after having lived there for more that 7 centuries because the evil Chief minister Salim Singh of Jaisalmer saw the young daughter of the village chief. He wanted to marry her and forced the village chief for marrying his daughter. He gave them a deadline for the marriage after which he would forcefully enter the village and take their daughter. All the chiefs of 84 villages met one night and for pride and honor decided to leave the villages in the dark of the night.Nobody knows where they went but it is believed that they settled near Jodhpur another city in western Rajasthan. Though nobody knows exactly how they did it, everybody in all of the 84 villages completely disappeared that very night. Nobody saw them leave or figured out where they went – they simply vanished. It is believed that they cast a curse over the village as they departed that would bring death to anyone who tried to inhabit the land. It is likely that this is the reason why so much of the ancient village still remains (though mostly in rubble, but not stripped for materials). The crumbling brick structures span out towards all directions and a ghostly silence is all that lives on there. You are not allow to go after 6pm I mean after sun set local people think ghost appears at night in Kuldhara not only people say I read a article in leading daily news paper that Many scientists and researchers, all across the world, have studied the phenomenon and tried to unravel the mystery behind strange and scary places here is link http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/BZR-revealed-mystery-behind-the-haunted-village-of-kuldhara-4256276-NOR.html
    Today the ruins of these villages can still be seen in western Rajasthan and are now tourist sites. The government today maintains the ruins as a heritage site. A walk through the village is akin to wandering onto the sets of a ghost movie. Only, this one is for real. Any one who is planning a visit to Jaisalmer should keep aside a few hours to catch this haunted setting in the eerie desert backdrop. Recently, Saif Ali Khan’s “Agent Vinod” was shot in this ancient village.

    Kuldhara Viilage ruins of  Kuldhara Village A temple in Kuldhara Village Outside Village man who told me story of Kuldhara Enterance gate of Kuldhara Village
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    Havelis of Shekhawati Region (Rajasthan)

    by vinod-bhojak Written Feb 20, 2014

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    The Shekhawati region lies north of Jaipur(Rajasthan). This was the land where Marwari businessmen started constructing their mansions or havelis in the 18- 19th centuries.Influenced by Persian, Jaipur and Mughal schools of painting, the Shekhawati frescoes depict themes from mythology, hunting and everyday life The land of the Shekha is laced with innumerable beautiful havelis or grand mansions, that is guaranteed to capture one's imagination. It is a haven for a true connoisseur of art and architecture. A riot of colors encapsulates the spirit of this vibrant landscape. Shekhawati, meaning the garden of Shekha, derives its name from Rao Shekha, its former ruler. Situated in the Delhi-Bikaner-Jaipur triangle, Shekhawati is a semi desert region in north Rajasthan. Known as the "Open Art Gallery of Rajasthan", this region is mainly famous for its amazing havelis richly painted and decorated. Shekhawati's main cards are the towns of Ramgarh, Nawalgarh, Fatehpur, Mandawa and Jhunjhunu. Ramgarh,Mahansar,Dunlod,Mukundgarh are home to the maximum number of havelis. Nawalgarh has the Anandi Lal Poddar Haveli-one of the best maintained havelis and Fatehpur and Jhunjhunu have the oldest paintings.
    There are also forts, minor castles, mosques, step-wells (called ‘baoris’) and chattris in town and villages of Shekahwati. The Rajputs mostly depicted the themes of historical events, personage, folk-heroes and prominent war scenes, while the Marwaris concentrated more on religious themes. However, with the passage of time and advent of the British their motifs too began change.

    A haveli in Mandawa(Town of Shekhawati) Inside view of Mandawa haveli(Town of Shekhawati) Wooden door of Haveli Painted celling of Haveli A haveli in Fathepur(Town of Shekhawati)
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  • vinod-bhojak's Profile Photo

    Monkey dance in India

    by vinod-bhojak Written Dec 25, 2013

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    Trained monkeys dancing,acting and performing romance in Indian streets .Monkey Dance is often seen in Indian streets but now this is also rare in India but sometimes you can see in streets.Monkeys also have played very good role in many Hindi Movies.
    In streets of India you will find monkeys being used to entertain people in street performances. What you probably didn’t know is that this is prohibited under the Wildlife Protection Act in India now because the monkeys are beaten severely and deprived of food as part of the training. Their teeth are knocked out and these poor animals cannot protect themselves.

    Monkeys dancing and acting in Indian street Monkeys dancing and acting in Indian street
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  • ganku's Profile Photo

    Rural India - Deep south

    by ganku Updated Jun 21, 2013

    Rural southern India is fascinating. Mountains , water falls, temples and many simple things like road side tender coconuts and village schools. The pictures are from Kallidaikurichi, a small town near Cape comerin. Some 10 hrs by train from Chennai (cost $4 for an overnight train trip).
    ........

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    Local Gypsy Villages & Rural Youth in Udaipur

    by SailorMoonTraveler Written Oct 8, 2012

    Spending time in a local village, (specifically Badgaon Village and Havala Village) is one of the best ways to get a feel for the "REAL" India. Through this experience you are able to catch a glimpse of the true essence of India. These gypsy villagers are very friendly and are as curious about foreigners as we are about them. There is also a local youth education center located in both of these villages. These centers are the main source of education for many of the gypsy children, seeing as their families do not send them to any Government run school (public school). So if you are interested in cultural exchange, volunteering or just visiting take the opportunity. It is one experience you will never forget!

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  • Himalayan Adventure

    by namitas Written Jul 3, 2012

    The best adventures in Himalayas- trekking and river rafting make for the best holidays too. We have taken two such holidays ( with kids). One was a trek to Kuari Pass and the other was a river rafting camp at Tons river valley with a trek and homestay in a remote Garhwal village. Aquaterra Adventures is by far the best company to do this with in India- they have the best track record on safety, seamless and faultless planning for everything they do. They have been listed as the best adventure travel outfit by National Geographic. Besides this, they have a very warm- family like- set up which has been a big draw for us.
    Kuari Pass to the remote and high Himalayas has spectacular panoramic views of the Upper Himalayan peaks, and the most beautiful camp settings. Must do.

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    Andaman, Havelock island:Beach7 to Elephant beach

    by podrek Updated Jun 30, 2011

    Looking at lonely planet map elephant beach looks so close to beach7. beach7 a magnificent beach including lagoon, jungle elephants and pure white sand. What I thought would be 30min work turned to be a three hour adventure. Kerry and I walked through jungle, waded through water not seeing a soul. Beautiful walk! I recommend this journey!

    the snorkeling here is diamond!

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    Heading for Gaumukh

    by Durfun Updated Apr 20, 2011

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    If you'll be starting from Gangotri, it's around 18 kms uphill to Gaumukh. Depending on your experience that should take between 5-7 hours.

    The terrain is along the mountain edges all the way till camp 14km. Then you ascend towards the middle of the mountain, so no danger of falling off!

    Surface is pretty even. There are no reflective markers to help navigation if it's dark & a moonless night! Hence plan accordingly & leave early morning.

    It will be HOT in the daytime, especially around mid-day, but past 1600 hours, the temperature plummets rapidly!! I was quite surprised!

    Carry glucose powder for energy, and some water, plus an empty bottle for collecting clean water from some streams you will encounter.

    Going from camp 14km to Gaumukh is steeper & rockier surface, so decent boots are recommended. And expect large blocks of jagged ice to challenge your approach to the cave mouth (Gaumukh).

    I hope you embark on this trek towards the end of July, when the monsoon is over.

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    find yourself lost in the colours

    by suming Updated Apr 4, 2011

    with the background of the 4700 years old civilization with arts and culture still on in the local semi nomadic life of various tribes of the unconventional deserts called "Rann" in the extreme west of India - which is the land of the Sakas", Huns", Kushanas"- laterly known as the Gujjar Rastra, the Indian state of Gujarat is waiting for the people from all over the world with all it's great traditions, arts, architectural wonders, colourful people and their eventful life, fairs & festivals through out the year.
    Though quite unknown and untouched by the modern world, Gujarat, which is rightly said the land of unknown colours - if properly visited, offers a massive range of various tribal life, tradition, folk art and festivals.
    Can one imagine even till today the tribal semi-nomadic and even the modern people are still carring on their lifestyle as it was more than 1000 years ago. Their traditional dresses (99% of the people still wear their old traditional costumes, jewelry, other things) are just un-comparable and so unique that one will be puzzled to see. There are many a tribes who still carry on with their unique tradition of wearing self embroided dresses (with un-countable natural colours and shapes). Specially the ladies of various tribal areas make 40 or more traditional dresses since their childhood and take them as dowry at the time of marriage. Men too stitch their dresses, umbrellas with magnificent embroidery at the time of festivals and fairs. More beautiful the dress is - more chance of getting better bride.
    Geographycally Gujarat is an wonder. Nearly every kind of geographical dyversity makes this great land the most amazing destination in the country or better to say the whole of South Asian or Indian sub-continent. Starting from the Aravalli Range to the plains & from the salt desert (largest salt desert in the world call the "Rann") to the Bunny (little low land dry half the year and under water half of the year) it stuns the visitors with their eyes un-blinked. Every places is so full of it's own nature, climate, wild-life, people, colourful dresses, foods, arts and architecture - one can't resist to visit this place again and again.
    Wildlife is too unique here. Asiatic Lion, Rann's Wild ass, Tiger, Leopards, Caracle, Hyena, Golden cat, Civet cat, Brown spotted cats, Nilgai, Chinkara, Cheetals, Sambhar, Pelican, crane of nearly all kinds, storks, 100s of other local and migratory birds with varios other flora and fauna is so much abundant here that one won't like to leave this place and every time one visits this land - feels time or vacation is not enough.
    Being an Indian I can strongly say that this land of Gujarat is one of the most unique in the country as far as the geography, history, culture, art and architecture is concerned.
    In my words, no language can desbribe this great place. One need to visit this place with a good camera and lots of 16 GB photo memory cards.

    among thousands of shades the life and the legacy goes on king of the Ranns when the flamingos and pelicans are far off
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    TREKS AND OTHER ADVENTURES IN INDIA

    by lynnehamman Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    India is one of the top destinations in the world for adventure sports. Because of its diversity, almost all adventure sport is possible- and in levels of degree that cater for all ages and different levels of fitness.
    There is trekking, cycling, gentle hiking, horse-riding, fishing, kayaking, white -water rafting, and skiing in winter.
    Camel safaris can be organised in the desert regions, and in certain parts of north-east India elephant treks are available.
    So go- do something different. Its a memory that you will always treasure.
    Most importantly, get a good guide. I recommed Sanjeev Mehta- (Mohans Adventure Tours) he is one of the very best, and will advise you on any form that you may choose, He will devise and plan a personal trek/adventure for small or larger groups.

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    Arunachal

    by husain Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Arunachal Pradesh is the easternmost and one of the most sparsely populated states of India. Its a land of forests, mountains and rivers, with the Himalayas along its northern border and Burma to the east.

    There are several tribes inhabiting the area. Most of them derived from original Mongoloid stock but their geographical isolation from each other has brought amongst them certain distinct characteristics.

    On a shoot in Arunachal Pradesh
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