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  • Mohit Johal
  • March 16, 2018 08:39:27 PM

A Little About Us

This blog is about my journey back to my home, India after spending an year in Canada and also about the different places I visited and explored back home. It showcases my travel experiences to which you all will be able to relate. It also talks about the various emotions one has who is living away from home and what one experiences when one visit back their roots. I have now decided that I am going to travel each and every corner of “Incredible India” and thus my blog can help you to choose which places to visit according to your taste. I would love if you guys join me on my adventures.

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Sri Harimandir Sahib

My next trip was a religious one, I was visiting “Sri Harimandir Sahib (the abode of God)” also known as “Golden Temple”, one of the most sacred places in the world with my brother and three other friends. Golden Temple is situated in Amritsar, Punjab state of India and the city is well connected via … Continue reading Sri Harimandir...

My next trip was a religious one, I was visiting “Sri Harimandir Sahib (the abode of God)” also known as “Golden Temple”, one of the most sacred places in the world with my brother and three other friends. Golden Temple is situated in Amritsar, Punjab state of India and the city is well connected via bus, rail and air services which makes it very convenient to visit the Temple from both within and outside India. Amritsar is approximately 130 km from my hometown and we decided to leave early in the morning.

The History of Sri Harimandir Sahib is, As advised by Sri Guru Amar Dass Ji (3rd Sikh Guru), Sri Guru Ram Dass Ji (4th Sikh Guru) started the digging of Amrit Sarovar (Holy Tank) of Sri Harmandir Sahib in 1577 A.D., which was later on brick-lined by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji (5th Sikh Guru) on December 15, 1588 and He also started the construction of Sri Harimandir Sahib and the foundation stone of the Temple was laid by Sain Mian Mir Ji. Sri Guru Granth Sahib (scripture of the Sikhs), after its compilation, was first installed at Sri Harimandir Sahib on August 16, 1604 A.D. A devout Sikh, Baba Budha Ji was appointed its first Head Priest. The Temple, “Gurudwara Sahib” was built at a level lower than the surrounding which teaches the lesson of egalitarianism and humility. Though the Gurudwara Sahib belongs to the people of Sikh faith but the four entrances of this holy shrine from all four directions signifies that people from all walks of life are equally welcome. The Golden Temple complex also have Sri Akal Takhat Sahib which was built by Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji (6th Sikh Guru), Bhai Gurdas Ji and Baba Buddha Ji and is the highest political institution of the Sikhs.

Approximately 1,00,000 people visit Golden Temple daily which makes it one of the most visited places in the world and the another very important part of Golden Temple is the free kitchen which serves “Langar”, free food, to approximately 75,000 devotees every day and makes it one of the biggest free kitchens in the world. This tradition of serving free food was started by the first Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and is still followed with full devotion. Everyone sits together on the kitchen floor to eat Langar irrespective of race, caste, religion or status which signifies that for God everyone is same and also teaches us to have compassion and love for each other. After praying we also sat with others to enjoy the free food which always is amazing.

I have visited Golden Temple a number of times and every time I visit I feel immense peace inside. I always feel really blessed just to be there and pray. One can see people from around the globe, from different parts of India, from different religions and from different cultures visiting Golden Temple everyday which restores one’s faith in Humanity and love for each other and teaches us that we are all one and the same.

I can only say that Golden Temple is a must visit place for everyone, even if you live in different part of India or in different part of the world. Visiting Golden Temple is one of the best things you can do in your life and If you are visiting then make sure to visit both in the morning and at night as both the views are breathtaking. You can also stay in the Guest houses of the Golden Temple if you are planning to stay overnight.

After Praying and spending some more time I thanked God for all the Blessings and we left for our Home.

Jim Corbett National Park

For our next trip we decided to visit Jim Corbett National Park – A Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand district of India. I had never visited a wildlife reserve before and I was always against watching Animals in Zoo so watching animals in an actual jungle was really an exciting and adventurous experience to gain. I … Continue reading Jim Corbett...

For our next trip we decided to visit Jim Corbett National Park – A Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand district of India. I had never visited a wildlife reserve before and I was always against watching Animals in Zoo so watching animals in an actual jungle was really an exciting and adventurous experience to gain. I believe that as we humans always fight for our freedom so it is our duty to respect the freedom of other animals as well.

I was going with my three other friends and we decided to drive overnight and after covering approximately 430 Km we reached our resort, Corbett De Floresta, where we were going to stay during our trip. The Resort was situated beside a river and inside a dense forest which in itself was very thrilling. After resting for a while and after having a very delicious lunch at the resort we left for our first day safari which was a Jeep safari in the Bijrani Zone of the Reserve, very famous for Tiger sightseeing.

The Jeep picked us from our resort and as we were nearing the Reserve the jungle was getting denser. After getting the required permit we entered the Bijrani gate and started looking around to spot animals. There was complete silence inside and one can very clearly hear the different sounds made by animals. We saw Barking Deer, Langur, Bear and many other animals and were also able to spot tiger footprints and tried to track down the tiger but were not successful in our effort. But this experience of trying to track down a tiger was very exciting,  we were told by our guide not to make even a bit of noise as according to him tiger was somewhere inside the bushes surrounding us. Even imagining oneself inside a dense jungle and close to a Tiger gives an adrenaline rush and we were actually experiencing that in real time. After roaming inside for a long time inside the jungle it was time to go back as it was getting dark and it is not allowed for anyone to stay inside after dark.

At night we had a bonfire in the hotel and we all sat there and talked about the first time wildlife experience. Our next day plan was to go on a Canter safari to the Dhikala Zone of the Reserve, the zone with the highest density of animals.

We left early morning and entered the Dhikala zone at around 6 am. The terrain for this part was totally different and forest was much more dense than what we saw last day. It was hilly in the beginning and plain afterwards. The Dhikala zone is famous for its vast grasslands and when we first reached there we were totally amazed by the beauty of these grasslands. On one side was a crystal clear river and on the other two sides were mountains which provided a very beautiful scenery. We saw a herd of Elephants in these grasslands and our guide drove us to all the parts of these grasslands to have a closer look at the beauty of nature. We saw many other animals and closely experienced the wildlife and after spending some more time inside the reserve we pushed back to our resort. We spent some more time in the resort and though none of us wanted to go back we heavy-heartedly left for our home.

This was a very new, different and thrilling experience for me and I have decided to visit more and more wildlife reserves and would love to cover at least all those in India. I know that some people gets disappointed when they do not see a Tiger but for me it was a wildlife tour and watching a Tiger would only have been a bonus. Visiting a wildlife reserve gives one a very good opportunity to connect with the nature. The air inside felt very pure and also there was almost zero cellular connectivity which gives one a chance to left all the worries behind and to just live in the moment. When we were coming back and approaching big cities we realized how much we have degraded our environment in our quest for development. We have left behind the simplicity and have only made our lives complicated. I am not at all against technology or development but I always believe that technology should make our life simple and easy and not complicate and development should always be sustainable and never at the expense of degrading our environment. After my trip I realized that we all have responsibility  and must act to protect our environment and the flora and fauna associated with it if we want to save our planet Earth.

When I Visited Taj Mahal

I had never been to Taj Mahal before and had a guilt inside for not visiting what many call as epitome of Love. Taj Mahal is one of the Wonders of the world and a lot of tourists from around the world visits India just only to see this beautiful marvel, and just like these … Continue reading When I Visited...

I had never been to Taj Mahal before and had a guilt inside for not visiting what many call as epitome of Love. Taj Mahal is one of the Wonders of the world and a lot of tourists from around the world visits India just only to see this beautiful marvel, and just like these million others, I always had a wish to witness the beauty of the grand Taj Mahal. This was the perfect opportunity for me to visit and witness the beauty of Taj Mahal.

The trip was planned for the weekend with three of my friends on a Friday night. Taj Mahal is situated in Agra, Uttar Pradesh district of India which is approximately 540km from my hometown. One can reach Agra by bus, train and flight also as it is well connected with all the major cities, but we decided to drive overnight and thus left home at around 9 pm and reached Agra at 5 am in the morning with few stops in between.

The entry for Taj Mahal complex begins at sunrise at around 6 am and to avoid crowd we wanted to be among the first ones to enter. After waiting for about 15 minutes in the line we were inside the Taj Mahal complex and started walking towards the main entry gate, 100 feet high and built in red sandstone, which provides very antique look. When you enter through this gate and what you saw in front of you makes you forget the rest of the world, The Taj Mahal, and we also like others were just amazed by that beautiful sight. We stood still and tried to absorb in the beauty of this wonder of architecture. I have always heard from people that Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful things one can see in their life and when I first saw by myself I realized they were absolutely true. Taj Mahal is infinitely more beautiful in person than what we saw on television or internet. As we did not sleep much on our way, we were being dizzy until we witnessed the beauty of Taj Mahal and got super excited.

As it was early morning, it was less crowded and there was this immense peace all around. We were a few hundred meters from the main building and the view from this distance was nothing but amazing. We started taking pictures and also met one tourist group from Spain. These people were also really excited and were visiting India for the first time. We talked with them for a while, tried to capture the beauty of Taj Mahal from various angles and then started moving towards the main structure. There is beautiful fountain in the middle and very well-maintained gardens on all sides of the pathway leading to Taj Mahal.

The beauty of Taj Mahal increases with each approaching step and when you look at the fine architectural designs on the marble, it feels like you are spell bound. It is built of white marble, which lets one feel the beautiful floral decorations and black marble Arabic calligraphy. Electronic devices, mainly camera is not allowed inside the mausoleum where the Tombs of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal were built. There is a complete solitude inside, signifying how Shah Jahan must have felt after the demise of his beloved wife. The architecture, designs and painting are nothing less than a poetry making you time travel back to a love so selfless.

We spent quite a lot of time going through other structures around the main building and sat for a while just looking at The Taj Mahal. I feel that there is nothing like spending too much time at The Taj Mahal.

If you plan to visit the Taj Mahal one day, one suggestion from my side would be to try to visit either in the morning or in the evening. Preferably visiting it in the morning will let you enjoy and see the beauty of the Taj in the best way possible, in addition to saving your time being in lineups. The captures during the morning time are breathtaking and as the sun rises high, the white marble changes color, being bright white when the sun is down and golden yellow when the sun is up. There is this illusion of a magic being in process, which you never want to end, and it is so incredible.

We left Taj Mahal with amazing pictures both in our camera and in our minds,  which will stay with us for our lifetime.

A mini-trip to Gurudwara Sahib “Guru Ka Taal”, a famous historical Sikh Temple situated in Agra followed after that. We sat there for a while praying, ate Langar (known as Free food being served to travelers and everyone in the name of God) at the premises and after resting for a while, it was time to go back home.

Though it was a quick and short trip, but we really enjoyed it to the fullest. I can only suggest you to visit something as magical as Taj Mahal as early as possible, for you are missing out on something incredibly beautiful, just like I was.

Road Trip To Rajasthan – The Land Of Maharajas

The feeling of being at home and not doing anything is one of a kind, the best, yet as promised, I planned the first trip to Rajasthan with two of my friends. Before getting into the details of this adventurous road trip, I would like to shed a light over these ever-supportive, greatest friends I … Continue reading Road Trip To Rajasthan – The Land...

The feeling of being at home and not doing anything is one of a kind, the best, yet as promised, I planned the first trip to Rajasthan with two of my friends. Before getting into the details of this adventurous road trip, I would like to shed a light over these ever-supportive, greatest friends I have had for almost 8 years now. One of them has always supported me, irrespective of the situation and the other has always made sure that I laugh during the lowest phases of life too.

The journey began when I left with one of my friends from Ludhiana and we were to meet the third friend, who was flying from Chennai, in Delhi (New Delhi).  Just hanging out with them at Connaught Place and reminiscing the old times after almost a year gave me an unmeasurable joy, hard to describe in words. It was like being in the same college again and that possibly is one of the best feelings ever.

 The last time I visited Rajasthan was 10 years back with my school friends and I still have a lot of beautiful memories of that trip which I still cherish.

Our first stop in Rajasthan was Udaipur which is approximately 650 km from New Delhi and the weather was amazing with frequent showers of rain, the time we left. The roads in Rajasthan were wide, smooth to drive and the early morning made sure that we did not encounter mind-baffling traffic. The Aravalli hills accompanied us throughout the journey and provided a beautiful scenery all the way. Instead of a hotel, we had decided to experience a hostel, which could be both economical and an ice-breaker for you to meet new people, from all around the world.

The City Palace

We had a reservation at Ambrai and decided to relax for a while. We strolled through the bazaar and reached Ambrai for the dinner. You know what appeals more than a beautiful view, amazing and finger-licking good food. And this coming from a not so strong foodie, gives you signs to try this place whenever you visit Udaipur. The view was nothing less than heaven as Ambrai resides on the banks of Lake Pichola and you are surrounded by Illuminated City Palace on one side and The Lake Palace hotel on the other. The dinner was followed by a walk at Lake Pichola ghat and it is one of those places which gives you opportunity to be comfortable with your silence, so we just stood there sinking in the beauty of the place and taking some pictures. It is a must to visit Lake Pichola both during the morning and at night as it provides totally different and breathtaking views during these times.

The next morning we left our place to try the local delicacies of Udaipur for our breakfast which were amazing. Our first destination of the day was The City Palace, which was built by Maharana Udai Singh and his successors in 1559. It is a wonderful blend of Medieval, European and Chinese Architecture and is wholly built in granite and marble giving a true feast to the eyes. This was accompanied by a cruise trip in Lake Pichola which takes you around all the corners of the lake giving you amazing views of the various ghats and of incredible Lake Palace. At the final check-point, the cruise ship drops you at The Jag Mandir Palace, located on the southern island of Lake Pichola. We spent few hours exploring, clicking pictures and making a new friend. So, she was a solo traveler from Jaipur and was visiting Udaipur for the first time.

I had always heard that it is a bit unsafe to travel alone in India and here I encounter someone who has been travelling alone ever since, which was really inspiring and an eye-opener at the same time.

To live a life the way you want to, could be one of the greatest favors one should do to oneself. There is no problem with anyone traveling alone and I feel like it’s our duty to make things right so that nobody ever feels like that.

After that she accompanied us and we went to Karni Mata Temple with the help of a ropeway. The Temple is situated on the hill which gives an amazing views of both old and new Udaipur. On one side is the old Udaipur with lakes and Big Palaces and on the other side is the new city with tall buildings and all the modern infrastructure. You get the picture of medieval and modern day India complementing each other. I was amazed to see the pace at which modernization took over India and that is really important for any country but it is equally important to preserve your heritage as well and this view was a perfect example of the same.

After then we headed for Bagore Ki Haveli to saw Rajasthani cultural show which was really energetic and amazing. The next stop was Fateh Sagar Lake and our enormous ride was a tuk tuk (a 3-wheeler vehicle). It was already dark when we reached there, so we decided to take a walk for a while on the bank of the river which gave a feel of Marine drive in Mumbai. The lake is surrounded by mountains on three sides and you can see the illuminated Monsoon Palace from there. We sat there for a while and talked about our different experiences we encountered in life after we left the college. No matter how small or big things changed, the one which was always intact was our friendship.

We shared all of these experiences with our new friend as well, had dinner together, bid her goodbye till we meet again and pushed back to our Zostel.

The next morning we spent few more hours in Udaipur visiting local places and then left for our next destination, Jodhpur the blue city, which was approximately 260 km from Udaipur.

In Jodhpur we stayed at STOPS which is built on a similar concept as of Zostel. Without wasting any time we went to see the majestic Mehrangarh Fort which is situated 410 feet above the city on a perpendicular cliff. The building materials were chiseled from the rock on which the fort stands which merges the structure with its base. This giant fort made of red sand stone was described aptly by Rudyard Kipling as “A Palace that might have been built by Titans and colored by the morning Sun”. When you enter the fort you get to experience how the Kings and Queens of those days would have lived, what their life would have been like. The thick walls around the Fort shows how they would have defended themselves from other rulers. We were really fascinated by the glorious Mehrangarh Fort. After not being able to hold the beauty of the fort, we went to explore the blue city, strolling through the markets, where most of the houses and shops are still painted blue. We then went to see the famous Umaid Bhawan Palace which is the world’s sixth largest private residence. On one side of the palace is the vast emptiness of Thar Desert and on the other side is the city blue-tiful. The palace is divided into three parts: Royal Residence, Taj Hotel and Museum, which is known to be an architectural marvel and gives you a true royal experience.

We decided to go back to our residence after the long day, played chess and Fooseball for a long time and just like Joey Tribbianai, it’s hard to defeat me in the game. Our residence had travelers from around the globe and sharing the space with them was a pleasant and different experience. One of the roommates was a Belgian girl, who happened to be a professional travel blogger and was currently traveling throughout Asia. At that time, I never thought one day I will too be blogging, but here I am trying to share my travel experiences. Even a few days back if someone would have asked me to write, I would have thought that it’s not my cup of tea but that is what life is , “unpredictable” and that is the sheer beauty of it. Not knowing what is going to happen the next moment maintains the thrill in life. Life’s uncertainty should motivate us to live than just to exist. Sometimes we do such things that we never thought of and never do things which we think all the time.

The next day we were supposed to leave for Jaisalmer but had to cancel and push back as one of my friends had a business emergency, so we decided to go back the next day.

We approximately covered 711 km in a day and were extremely tired by the end of it. No complaints though as we were going back with unforgettable memories to be cherished throughout our lives. All I can say at the end is that I just can’t wait to visit Rajasthan again and you shouldn’t too.

The Journey Begins

“We have reached Indra Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi and we welcome you in India” said the Jet airways flight attendant. I had been waiting for this announcement for the last 20 hours when I left Montreal, Canada for India. To be honest, I had been waiting for this for the past year when I … Continue reading The Journey...

“We have reached Indra Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi and we welcome you in India” said the Jet airways flight attendant. I had been waiting for this announcement for the last 20 hours when I left Montreal, Canada for India. To be honest, I had been waiting for this for the past year when I first left my Country to pursue MBA abroad.

This trip was a sudden decision. I was sitting in the living room of my apartment and all my roommates were in the University library. I had no classes for that semester and was thus searching for part time jobs and beautiful park just outside my apartment caught my attention and I could see the view of children playing, taking rides and some were just randomly running. Few people were sitting on the bench talking to each other and the pleasant weather made the day more beautiful taking my subconscious mind to my hometown, Phillaur. Observing them reminded me of my childhood, my parents, my friends and my home all of which are in Punjab, India. I don’t know why but I felt extremely nostalgic that day which was a bit strange for me as I am not very good at expressing emotions. I picked up my phone and called my Aunt in India, who is the closest person to me after I lost my family a few years back. After talking to her for a while I started feeling good but that strange feeling of missing your home so much did not go away. After I hung up the phone I started searching for tickets from Montreal to India with no intention of buying, well that’s what I thought in the beginning. After searching for a while I found the cheapest ticket but that was just after 5 days.
In that moment I just wanted to go home but was not at all sure as I had planned nothing. Just few minutes back I was looking for a job and here I am picturing myself in my home. To make my decision I called my Best Friend and even before dialing the number I knew what she was going to say and within next 10 minutes I booked my ticket to India.

Some of you might think that I was not happy in Canada, which is not the case at all. I really enjoyed and still enjoy my stay in Canada. People are extremely nice and I can’t even imagine a place which is so welcoming to immigrants. And my current residing city, Montreal is amazing on so many levels. I am fond of historical places and Montreal gives one a big window to explore such places. If you take a walk in old Montreal it feels like you are in Europe with all European style architecture. If anyone of you is looking for a place to study abroad Montreal is the perfect option. Also, with so many Universities Montreal has a large number of students which provides it a very vibrant atmosphere. People here know how to enjoy their life to the fullest along with partying (a lot).

So, I was happy with my city, studies, people but I missed my home every single day. Home is not just your house and your people but it’s a whole lot of feelings that make you feel complete, make you feel free. It’s a place where you belong. I am sure everyone who study or work away from their home can relate to this. I can bet whoever is born and brought up in a small town can enjoy living in big cities but can never forget the simplicity, calmness and the love that one gets at such places. I always missed the early mornings when sun rises high behind tall trees near Satluj river and the green colour of the fields which turn golden during the harvest season.

And when I booked my ticket I was the happiest person at that moment. I was excited to meet my family and friends whom I have not seen for about a year. But there was this fear as well, I started worrying whether everything has changed in India. I had heard from several people who live abroad that once you start living in Canada you can’t bear the summers in India and driving on those roads can be painful once you return. But I can tell you guys this was the best summer I ever had in my life and I never drove that smoothly before. Along with this, I would like to address the issue of comparing two countries and establishing stereotypes. I have come across a few people, who after migrating to foreign countries lose respect for their homeland. It surely is important to respect the place which is providing you higher education, competitive lifestyle and a broad exposure but I wish if the balance of respecting the place where you come from and where you intend to go was possible at the same time. For me, my love and respect for India increased with each passing day that I spent away from India and at the same time I developed a lot of love and respect for Canada as well.

Coming back to my travelling experience, I started my journey from Montreal in the evening and reached India at night and let me tell you that I have never been so impatient in my whole life. After claiming my luggage, when I stepped outside airport, there was a broad smile on my face which after all my efforts I couldn’t hide and stood there stupidly smiling alone for a while. I looked around and realized how much I have missed this hustle and bustle. For some it might be a chaos but for me it’s nothing less than a festival or a celebration and in that exact moment I felt complete once again. There was this immense joy within, the joy which you cannot buy with all the wealth in the world. Among all the people I also saw a lot of tourists from different parts of the world. They looked excited and the weather did not bother them much and at the same moment I also promised myself that I am going to travel to at least five different places in India during my five months stay before going back. With all this in mind I took an overnight bus to my hometown and reached there by morning and it felt nothing less than being in heaven.

This wasn’t the end of my journey but was just the beginning of my adventures in India. As promised, I traveled to different places which I will talk about in my coming blogs. I would love if you guys join me on my adventures in India and I promise those of you who have not been to these places would want to go and those who have already been there would surely be able to relate and remember those times.

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