In December end, I went for visit to India’s first marine national park along with my family. It was really first of this kind of experience.
Insights into Gujarat’s sea shore :
Gujarat has India’s longest sea shore of around 1600km. Gulf of Kutchh is an arm of an Arabian sea which seperates Saurashtra with little Run of Kutchh. It is 58km wide at western end increases towards eastern side till around 170 km. Depth ranges from average 20 mts to maximum 60mts. In 1982, Marine Sanctury and National Park are established on the southern shore of Gulf of Kutchh. The Sanctury extended over an area of 270 sq. km from Okha to Jodiya. Among that 110sq km area subsequently notified as Marine Park, 7000 ha off Okha in the west and 4000 ha off Jamnagar to the east.
There are total 42 islands around Jamnagar with reefs. Among them Pirotan and Narara are famous.
Brief on Narara island :
Narara island is located near Vadinar village. On the way to Narara island you can find old Salt pans, Mangroves. Mangroves is very important as it prevents soil erosion and also plays vital role in controlling sea tides.
Bio diversities which might interest you :
Contains numerous creatures like sea weeds, octopus, puffer fish, stingray, sea star, sea cucumber, star fish, corals, anemones different types of crab.
Visit time :
As it is too hot in summer and in monsoon you can’t take any risk , best time to visit is between October to February. This information is not enough for this visit. As we are going to roam in sea and tide timings are damn necessary to know.
You should visit between two high tides. You can ask at Narara office, they can inform you. Though there is an ancient trick to find approximate timing. It varies accordingly the coordinates.
Multiply Gujarati tithi with 0.75 and at that time there would be high tide. So after 12 hours, there would be the 2nd high tide. Suppose today on 12th Jan, it is 6th day of waxing moon(Shukla Paksha Sud Chhath). So 6 * 0.75 = 4.5 i.e. 4:30 AM in the morning. So at 4:30 AM and 4:30 PM, there will be high tides. Low tide will be at 10:30 AM and 10:30 PM. So three hours before 10:30 AM is appropriate timing.
You must ask officials present at the spot before planning for the trip.
Our experience :
It was totally worth. We reached at around 9:00 AM at the spot. Bought the tickets. Entry fee charges 50 per person and Camera charges are 100rs. Forest officials are present on the spot. There are around 35 guides. Unless you have immense knowledge in Marine bio diversity, you damn need a guide here.
Guides are mainly the fishermen. So they have vast knowledge of various marine bio diversities. They know where creatures can be, how to hold them so that they won’t bite, how to take care of them , how to conserve various species, etc. They really do hard work to find the creatures for the tourists. They lift every possible coral reef to find crab. It required around half an hour of their hard work and around 1km of roaming in sea to find puffer fish and also catch it. So please be patient with your guide. Though getting puffer fish is uncommon right now as tourists are disturbance to them.
We were lucky enough to spot and catch Puffer fish, wolf crab, crab without teeths, star fish, sea weed, etc. Thanks to the guide.
Here are the glimpse of the some :
Puffer Fish, front view
Puffer fish, side view
Puffer fish can survive without water for around half an hour. Don’t bring your finger near to her mouth. If you do, don’t blame me for loosing your finger.
Star fish also can survive without water for around half an hour.
The weapon of Crab
Here is the only crab which we can hold, wolf crab as it doesn’t have teeths. Crab with teeths need to be handled very carefully. That is why guides are here.
Finally, here is the weirdest and color sprinkler, Octopus. Guide will catch it and show you. After that again in clear water he will leave it, at that time you can see the color change and color sprinkling. Its skin is somewhat sticky .
Octopus with brown color.
Me trying hold off Octopus
Some other coral reefs and sea trees.
Most of the pictures taken from the DSLR. So all credits to Darshan Dhagia.
Note down :
As it is protected area, don’t pick shells, dead corals , stones etc. Officials may check if found suspicious.
As Pirotan island is temporarily closed , the rush is diverted to Narara island. So you may find it crowded.
All over it is around 5 km sea walk.
Have a visit and let me about your experience in comments below.
Language is a very important factor of any colony and culture. It is language which connects people and unites them. Language goes hand in hand with culture to develop person’s mentality, etiquette, manners and discipline. Even the culture is stored and passed to future generations through books and through that language. How can we even think of losing a language which is backbone of the culture ?
In India, you will find many languages and so the cultures. Most of the state has their own language. So people of different state knows their native language very well. What happens when people from different state meets each other ? For that most common language is Hindi and if you know that you won’t have any problem talking to any person in India. Now after introduction to English language through Britishers , we adopted that language and became proficient in those 3 languages(Native, Hindi and English).
This was a preface needed for the main post which I want to share to you. While reading a Gujarati magazine named “Safari – Magazine for witty readers“, I came across below article snippet. I translated the same in Hindi and English.
Snippet in Gujarati
I didn’t mention Sanskrit here which is origin of almost all native languages of India. Only 0.00001 % people registered Sanskrit as their native language according to 2001 census.
Use and preserve your native language. It is the best we can give to our future generation .Hope everyone agrees. If you find it worth sharing , please do share.
Devkund waterfall is one of the most famous place around Pune. This waterfall is not an ordinary one. It requires hard work to reach there, but the result is totally worth it . You can’t just go and get. It is around 6km trek with full adventures.
I, along with my 5 friends went to Devkund waterfall trek on 22nd September,2018. It is located in Patnus , Mangaon. Another famous waterfall is Tamhini Ghat, just 30 km away from this. may find two Devkund waterfall on Google Maps, but below one is correct.
How to reach :
Distance : 106 km from Pune
By road : Private vehicles is the best option.
By air : Nearest airport is Pune.
By rail : Nearest Railway station is Pimpri.
We went by road. Roads are not in much good condition. Surrounding atmosphere is terrific. Google maps will lead you to exact destination. It ends at Open Parking space.
Closing Time : 4:00 PM.
Trek Distance : 11 km
Trek Start Time : 8:45 AM
Completion Time : 2:30 PM
Endurance : Medium
Grade : Easy
We reached to Devkund at around 8:15 AM. We parked the car, got freshed and started trekking at around 8:45 AM. Now at the starting point only we met one group of members who work as volunteers. They informed us that guide is mandatory and it is for your safety and all. We had enough information that Path is well marked and there is no need of guide. Apart from that if anyhow you lost your way in jungle, you will come out easily through other route. There is no forest in or around Pune in which you can lost. They charge 50Rs per person for guide. Another 10Rs per person is levied for nature conservation/cleanliness. That we paid. We also signed one paper that if anything happens to us, this members/villagers won’t be responsible.
We terrified a bit because of them. But actually there is nothing to fear. We started our trek. Path is well marked and you can take help from shop keepers if needed.
Trek is around 11 km in total. So we started around 8:45 and reached at around 11:30 PM. Then we enjoyed waterfall and photography for around 1.5 hr. After that we descend down. It took around 1.5 hr to get down.
Trek is easy. If you are in group you will definitely enjoy the dense forest. On our way, rainfall doubled our joy.
What you will find on your way to trek ?
First of all, don’t worry; you won’t find any animal except dog which may walk with you till waterfall.
You need to pass 2-3 streams using stones just around 20 feet. At one place bridge is also built, but surely you can do it without bridge. It is always fun doing some hard work. I didn’t see any person walking through the bridge, not even the older one.
There is steep walk around 150 meters, otherwise whole trek is a combination of plain & steep terrain & river streams.
In between you will pass through beautiful lake where you will find complete shadows of surrounding mountains. Whole route is lush green so it will blow your heart.
It is full of adventure.
Food & water :
In the parking itself one small restaurant is there, which serves lunch dishes and all other veg-nonveg items. On the trail also you will find 1 small shop from which you can buy snacks.
Things to keep in mind :
1. This is the right time. Waterfall was closed due to heavy rainfall. It is just opened on 13th September. And I think waterfall won’t last longer than a month.
2. Carry enough water and food with you.
3. No need of guide. If confused, ask shop keeper or any villager on the route. Only 1-2 points are there which may misguide you.
4. Roads are not in good condition.
5. You can easily spend 6hrs for waterfall visit + bath in waterfall + return to parking + photography.
6. Please wear shoes. No need of raincoat.
This trek is one of the most memorable trek of my life.
Hunger is a worldwide problem , not just to India. But India is biggest contributor to it. I am writing this as I know everyone of you worried about this trouble and together we can solve it.
Remember the time, we thank to God for giving us food before eating ? Cool !! Why we did that ?
In our childhood , we used to do a small prayer for giving us a food. Because there are millions and millions of people who can’t afford it. Then we complete the prayer , eat all the food. In case we left something, our parent took from our dish to prevent it from going to wastage. At the end of every meal, our Mummy used to collect all left over food according to categories and put it into small bowls. Either we will give it to the maid or to beggar. We were totally agree with this pattern and there was nothing wrong in that. Ultimately food was going into someone’s stomach and not in garbage bin/gutter.
Even the food chain we learnt in school, there was no mention of garbage bin. Food was going to someone’s stomach. Then why it is the garbage bin instead of some hungry person’s stomach ?What can be the reason that every night from every 9 person 1 sleeps hungry ?
What can be the reason behind death of around 45% of world’s children under age of 5, died in 2011 ?
These digits are too big and obviously it seems to be out of our control. But do you know, you can be the one who can prevent someone getting into this vast trap of food hunger everyday by investing exactly 1.5 minutes ? Sounds cool and impossible also, right ?
Now before understanding this have a glimpse over this.
How food reaches to you ?
Farmer does farming. They grow food, it reaches to big godowns, then to big retailer shops and then small shops/markets/mall from where we buy groceries and other food items. Now if you waste food(Though bought and brought by you and your resources) , you are wasting all the hard work done by the farmer who grown that food, the manpower who brought that to you, and mainly the sole purpose of food(to Eat not to waste).
If this is going over your head, then simply consider below scenario :
Consider a situation that you(being 7-8 year old) forgets your lunch box. You are hungry. You don’t have money and you just ask your friend to share food but he is already done with food. Now in hunger, suddenly your nose feels a smell of your favorite food. You follow the smell and found that it is in garbage bin. How will you feel ? You will angry on the one who threw it saying “If you don’t want it, then give it to me;don’t throw it, I am too much hungry.” and you might cry.
Now link above incident with the food you waste everyday. The only difference is that you are not able to hear that cry. But certainly someone cries when you waste food.
Here it goes. Before taking food into plate, before ordering food in/from restaurant, before informing your cook for food , before ordering food in your mesh, just think about 30 seconds over this : Will we be able to complete this food without any wastage ?
Every time just think about it and get the answer and bingo, you saved someone from crying of hunger and no one slept hungry because of you, that day.
Argument : This is my money, whatever I want to do with the food I will do. Who are you to instruct me on it ? So one point from my side is just ask this to a child begging on the road or person slept hungry previous night. Ask them ” Do you mind if I throw this in garbage bin ? ” You will get your answer.
Issues with which we can deal with :
You like tasting new things. You are hungry. You visit a new place. Order a food without checking for quantity. Taste is bad. End up wasting it.
You go to some restaurant/mess. There is a limited dish. Without asking for substitute you end up unwanted items in your dish and result; wastage.
This one is typical in any big event and experienced a lot. Long queues in Marriage / festivals for food. So generally most of people take everything once for all and end up wasting it.
Issues at bigger level :
Lack of Infrastructure for storing vegetables and fruits. End up with non consumable food.
Lack of strict norms in constitution regarding food wastage.
No proper initiative to distribute excess food.
Wastage of milk,oil in temple on God/Goddess.(In OMG movie, Paresh Rawal talks about this very well that it is better to give it to begger than literally wasting on God. Just take blessing of God and then distribute it in others. In that manner God will be more happy.People’s Service is to God’s service.)
Visit a foreign country !! Who don’t like it ? And so do we. Planned to visit one foreign country and we chose Bhutan.
Trip-mates: Me, Pramod, Darpan, Kunj(Darpan’s younger brother and youngest among all)
Reasons to choose Bhutan
You may find couple of reasons on internet to choose Bhutan, but we had mainly these reasons
No need of Visa. As India has contract with 59 such countries that Indians can visit them without Visa.
Less popular but equally Prosperous(Happiest country in the world)
Less distance and a budget trip.
Trip to Bhutan was finalized in December. Luckily found that October to January is the best time to visit. Now we needed to think about the dates. As all were doing job, we first sought leaves and then plan accordingly. We got leave from 16Dec to 24Dec. Let’s go.
No need of Visa, then what else?
Bhutan government accepts Indian tourists without Visa,that’s fine. But they require permit. It can be online and offline. Later come to know that online permit system is not operational yet so we need to get it offline only. It can be get from Phuentsholing and Thimphu. So first place of the trip is finalized as we need to seek permit to travel Bhutan and it can be get from either of these two places.
How to reach Bhutan:
Air: National carrier of Bhutan, Druk Air operates regular flights between Paro(Bhutan’s cultural capital and only international airport) and Calcutta, Delhi and Gaya. Bhutanese government is operating permit centers at Paro airport itself. So if you reach Paro by Air, you can get permit from there only.
Road : Hasimara, West Bengal is the nearest Indian railway station , just 17kms away from Phuentsholing. From there we can get permit. From Hasimara you can get Rikshaws,taxis and even bus to Phuentsholing.
We read that permit can be acquired online and offline both manner. Later we found that online permit system is not operational yet. So offline permit was the only option.
What is finalized , Flight or Train ?
Price from Calcutta to Paro was around 7k. Quite high, so plan dropped.
Hasimara is connected via train with Calcutta and train timing was also suitable. Now to reach Calcutta we decided to took flight from Mumbai same in return journey also.
Accordingly flights were booked. As trains were wait listed we decided to do train bookings in Tatkal.
Finlalized the places to visit in Bhutan and accordingly booked the hotels.
Best way to book hotel in Bhutan:
International call charge is quite high and you can’t book every hotel online also. From articles and other booking sites we found some hotel contact details. Every hotel owner is on whatsapp , so it is easy to chat and confirm booking. They are very kind people and they will help us to book hotel at other place.
Things to keep in Mind :
Bhutanese clock is ticking 30 minutes ahead that of India.
Bhutanese currency(Neuthang) and Indian currency have equal value. Indian currencies work there also. Rs 500 and 2000 note also works.
Bhutanese people understands Hindi and English both but not perfectly. So mix of those will work.
There is no train network in whole Bhutan. So less facility of transportation.
Indian telecom operator won’t work there. B-Mobile(Government owned) and Tashi Cell(Private) are the only operators in Bhutan with over 80% Bhutan covered due to hilly terrains. So you need to buy sim card from there. All about buying sim card in Bhutan(Buy Simcard in Bhutan).
Whenever you find Guide, please take it. It will take nominal charge but information given by them is worth taking.
Cab timing is from 8:00AM to 5:00PM. So better you chose your places wisely.
Itinerary till Bhutan:
16-12:- Flight from Mumbai to Calcutta
Flight : GoAir,511
Departure : 11:00 PM
Arrival : 1:45 AM
17-12 :- Stay and roaming in Calcutta, Train from Calcutta to Hasimara at night
We reached at 2:00 AM at Kolkata airport. From there we boarded cab and reached to Dharmshala we have booked. Though there are other options for stay like YHAI(Youth Hostels Association of India) and other hotels. Our plan was to roam as many places as we can and stay near railway station at the end. Of course other requirements was cheap stay as we needed room for sleeping purpose only, not a whole day stay.
Sri Bhawanipur Murti Pujak Jain Swetamber Sangh Dharmshala :-
Location: Near Minto park,here. Location is perfect. It is located nearly 2.5 km from Sealdah railway station. All major attractions like Victoria Memorial, National Museum,Esplande,Park street are within 5km radius.
Amenities: We booked one room which can easily accommodate 4 person. Price was 700Rs. Cheapest ever with attached bathroom. All basic amenities were fulfilled. Hot water for bathing was boon to us, which we could not find easily in our whole Bhutan trip. Manager was kind person. It was basically a Gujarati area, we were not knowing that.
Contact : 033-65411052
We wanted to try every possible transportation in Calcutta which includes Tram(Oldest running in India),Yellow cabs(Ambassador),Bus,Metro if possible. We found that Tram is hardly used by the people as it is time consuming and it’s route was not within our area. Then we tried for Yellow cabs, but they were charging as per their desire. So now bus and metro. As Pink Marathon was organised that day, metro routes were transferred and bus were quite congested with our heavy luggage. So we avoided all of it and travelled in Uber and by foot which was comfortable as well as cheaper.
We wanted to see Birla Planetarium but it did not fit to our schedule.
In between we tried this called “Mamra ni Muli”. You will found it on every street of Calcutta.
Victoria memorial : – Structure wise it is marvellous. Inside there was museum for Japanese photography art. In other part, Britishers’ paintings and ammunitions used by them were displayed.
Lunch in Arsalan restaurant. It is famous for Biryani(Told by people,read in articles, reviewed by Trip Advisor,Zomato and Maps), but it was not upto mark. It is not that good for Vegetarian people.
Howrah Bridge : Most famous place of Calcutta and it deservs 1st rank..It is built across the Hooghly river. It looks ordinary but then came to know that it is the 6th longest cantilever bridge of the world. Architecture is marvellous as it is a bridge without Nuts and Bolts. For more details, Here.
We Did boating there. It was not an ordinary boating. Music band in the middle of water, beautiful sunset and lightings of Howrah Bridge, no need of anything else. Just enjoyed every moment. After that headed to railway station.
Sealdah railway station :- Structure of station is impressive. They planned very well. Main thing is despite having 9-10 platforms, there is not a single bridge. It is adjusted horizontally and vertically very well. So you just need to walk, not to climb to find any platform. Though it doesn’t have a charm of new station, but it comprises of all basic amenities. Liked it overall.
Train : Kanchankanya Express(13149)
Departure : 8:30 PM(Sealdah)
Arrival : 10:30 AM(Hasimara)
Itinerary for Bhutan:
18-12 Reach Phuentsholing, Get permit and Reach Thimphu
Our plan was to get permit as soon as possible and board a bus to Thimphu which is 6 hour drive from Phuentsholing. So till 3:00PM if we reach, we were safe. But Phuentsholing had something different for us.
Train was late by almost 2.5hr. So instead of reaching at 10:30AM, we reached by 1:00 PM. From there we needed to head towards Phuentsholing, where we can get our permit for Bhutan. As it was off season in Bhutan, we could not find cab/rikshaw/bus at cheap price from Hasimara station to Phuentsholing(Hardly 20 kms away). Permit timing was 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. So we were not late but bus from Phuentsholing to Thimphu was available only till 3:00PM. In addition to that, Bhutan clock is running 30 minutes ahead that of Indian time. So we have more 0.5hr less. That’s why we boarded cab asap(400Rs) and reached to permit office. No queue at all, as mentioned above..OFF SEASON.Quickly we were guided by an agent, we followed and after 45 minutes, we got permit for Thimphu(Administrative Capital of Bhutan) and Paro(Cultural capital of Bhutan).
One thing we observed is that traffic discipline is superb. Every person crosses through Zebra-crossing and at that time all vehicles slow down. Later we came to know, that if person hurted by vehicle and if that person was on Zebra crossing , then person and his/her family will be taken care by government , but if not on Zebra crossing then government won’t do anything. Thimphu is the only capital city in world, which doesn’t have any traffic signal. If traffic jam is there , traffic police handles it manually by robotic hand styles.
Requirement in Permit:
Basic information of each tourist with ID proof xerox(Passport is recommended),Passport size photo.(Till that we were knowing).
In additional they require daily itinerary and our stay. As we booked hotel in Thimphu, confirmation letter for the same we attached. How many days you are staying in Bhutan is also necessary.
This was stage 1.
In Stage 2, we went upstairs. It was like typical Indian bank, having different counters. Finger prints and photos were taken of all. That’s all. Signed and approved. We got the permit.
Meanwhile we asked from where we can get bus to Thimphu. As informed, we reached bus stand and found that only 3 seats are remaining and we were 4.They don’t accommodate more than the space in Bus. So none need to stand in Bus. Purpose is good, but for us it went bad. As like any typical tourist place, cab driver emerged from nowhere and we did the cab. Charge per person : 600. So beginning was economically loss.
On the way took dinner at Hotel Sonams. As driver was familiar, food was good. It is the place where we first time tasted Bhutanese National Dish(Ema Datshi – Cheese with Chillies and Rice). Taste was delicilous. But it was spicy like you are eating only chillies. Though relief for us as in cold, spicy food is good.
At night reached Thimphu. Took contact number of cab driver as in future we may require.
Roamed in chilly winter.
Name : Hotel Ghasel
Charge Triple room:1400/Day(Enough for 4 people)
Contact : Sonam Dorji(+975 1724 8826)
Email ID : firstname.lastname@example.org
Hotel locaion was very good(Opposite to central area). So view was awesome. Did photography, took tea/coffee near by shop. After photography we could not be able to feel our hand for 2-3 minutes, but warm Jacket saved us. End of The Day with dreams of fascinating future jouney of Bhutan.
19-12Extend permit for other place, Roam Thimphu and Stay at Thimphu
As it was our last day in Thimphu, we need Permit for other cities(Haa valley,Punakha,Phobjikha valley – Wangdue district).
Procedure: Extend the permit.
It is too easy. Two forms are there
1. Extend permit for places
2. Extend the date of staying
As our plan was fixed, so we required the permit form for including more places.
Main permit xerox
Other city list and any one hotel xerox from those cities as proof.
After that we did Breakfast in Ambient cafe. Ambiance was good, taste wise delicious and price was moderate. Totally worth.
After that we started visiting places:
1. Textile museum : – Displayed various weaving methods, designs etc are shown here. Samples of National dress of Bhutan are also there. Entry fee 100. Quite boring if you are not interested in textile things, particularly cultural designs.
Timing : Monday to Saturday(9:00 AM – 4:00 PM)
2. Folk heritage museum : – A bit interesting if you have guide. Old utensils , storage methods, cultural things are shown here. Other interesting thing was ARA(Traditional Bhutanese Liquor). It was being made by one woman(Yes, we see liquor making process live). It is made from Maze and Wheat. It was stronger than Whisky.
One more thing was Hot stone bath. This bath is quite famous in Bhutan. So if you are visiting Bhutan, don’t miss it. You can do it in some costly hotels or Haa homestay which provides this at price of 500Rs per person.
Till this it became noon, so we went for lunch in restaurant located near by museum. It was traditional Bhutanese restaurant so we had a chance to eat all Bhutanese at a time and we grasp that golden opportunity. Though I could say it as risk because we previously tasted the National Dish and it was super duper spicy. We went inside , chose the dish(300 and 500 per dish) and waited for our table to get filled.
No taste at all in any dish. Ema Datshi was third class. Butter tea was taste less. We ourself added some species and after that it was eatable/drinkable. Over all it was costly and never to be done kinda experience. Both Nonveg & veg it was totally unworthy.
3.Buddha statue : – Located around 12km by from museum. As mentioned no public transport in Bhutan, so we boarded cab for 250Rs in total. Statue location is beautiful. Lush greenery, sunrise point , architectural beauty, you name it and it has it all. We visited temple, did photography and enjoyed chilling air.
Temple closing time is 6:00PM.
It was past 6:00 PM and so we started searching for cab. Luck was not in favor of us and till the end of route, we were just seeking lift from vehicles. Around 1.5hr we walked & ran in between. Finally reached downwards. Quite funny experience. Maybe it was because of Off season But it taught us one thing, never go without booking cab in Bhutan at least.
Now as we already trekked , we were too hungry. In search of food , first we went to our hotel. In their restaurant only we ate MOMOs. It was 3/10. We went other 2-3 places, but no luck. Tried to find pizza somewhere,but again it was closed. Finally we went to one restaurant which was quite good. Filled our stomach fully , we went to eat ice cream. Ice cream’s cost is 15 Rs more than MRP as they are importing from India.
So the day became hectic. But we enjoyed.
Visit Dochula Pass, Chemi Lhakhang on the way(Till 1PM)
Visit Punakha Dzong(3-5PM, timing is fix)
Visit suspension bridge
Camping at night, camp fire and all….
We were quite excited for this place and really we enjoyed a lot. This was the best day in our whole trip. Check to see why.
After our first place with mix responses, we were quite excited for our next place, Punakha. Our plan was….
Dochula Pass : –
It is a mountain Pass comes on the way from Thimphu to Punakha.Here,108 memorial chortens or stupas known as “Druk Wangyal Chortens” have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother.These were built as a memorial in honour of the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed in the December 2003 battle against Assamese insurgents from India. It particularly marks the victory of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck who dislodged the rebels from their camps (there were 30 camps) in Bhutanese territory from where they raiding Indian territory of Assam.After the war the king went back to Thimphu on 28 December 2003 and at this stage the 108 chortens were being built. They were completed in mid June 2004 and formally consecrated and sanctified with religious rites held on 19–20 June. Apart from that,there is a monastery called the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple), built in honour of the fourth Druk Gyalpo (head of the state of Bhutan), Jigme Singye Wangchuck;the open grounds in its front yard is a venue for the annual Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival. It is adjacent to country’s first Royal Botanical Park. (Thanks a lot , Wikipedia !!)
Architecture is marvellous. Each chorten looks same from the first sight, but small idols are different in different chortens. From there, view is awesome. You can see snow covered mountains. We were lucky in that case. Even we found freezed snow there.
After this memorable beginning we had quite good brunch which we were missing from 2 days. We decided to cover Chimi Lhakhang next day(on our way to Paro). So we directly headed to River rafting spot. It was scheduled at 1:00 PM. There are mainly two rivers in which river rafting can be done:Mo-Chhu and Po-Chhu. Mo-Chhu is called female river and its grade is 1-2. So river rafting is easy here. But Po-Chhu is called male river and there, rafting grade is 3-5. So it is a difficult one. As it was winter, water was calm in both rivers. We had to do rafting in Mo-Chhu and we were all set for that.
Booking : – It was made with Druk Rafting Service, the only rafting comapny approved by Bhutan government for conducting rafting. We had full package worth 3500 Rs/- which includes Breakfast, Dinner, camping on river bank and river rafting. As it was off season, we were only 4. So looked like(Hum hi hain).
In the leadership of a guide with 4 year experience we headed to river rafting. We were provided with life Jacket, peddle, slippers and helmet. I thought this would be like typical rafting in which 2-3 people sail us through river and in between do stunts,but it was not. Here we need to sail by our self with guide being main controller. So it was mandatory to listen to the instructions.
How to gripen the peddle
How to forward and backward the boat using peddle
When to lock and unlock your feet and how to do that.
So after this series of instructions, we finally started most adventurous part of our Punakha trip. Our Mobile phones, DSLRs and all stuffs which were not water proof was taken care by our guide. So whenever necessary we can use that. We did photography in between, wet ourselves, enjoyed being alone in river amidst the mountains, white stones arranged in patter on both sides. That thrilling experience lasted for around 1 hour.
We shortened our rafting to 5km from 10km. As clock was ticking 3:15PM and Punakha Dzong timing was 3-5 PM. So we reached to river bank, did some photography and left for Punakha Dzong.
Here we took a guide and the very first question we asked was difference between Lhakhang, Dzong and monastery.
Monastery: Temple with Monks
Dzong: It includes monastery as well as administrative part.
Punakha Dzong is divided in 3 sections. First 2 are administrative part which includes office and all, and third one is monastery. Architecture is superb. Guide instructed about other stuffs like history of this place, why it has so much importance and all. We reached to second section where Banyan tree is located. It is said, that seeds of Banyan tree from Bodhigaya under which God Buddha got “Kevalgyan” were planted here and from that this tree is created. After that reached to third section where monastery was there. Mainly 3 idols are there. God Buddha(Middle), Guru Padmasambhava(Left), Current Bhutan king(Right). We learned how to bow down to God.
How to bow down to God in Buddhism :
Join hands(Position of Namaste)
Think of the bad deeds(Karmas) done by your mind i.e. by thinking(Place your folded hands on your forhead)
Then by your mouth i.e. spoken by you(Place folded hands at mouth)
Then by your heart(Place folded hands at your heart) and accept it and bow down. These you need to do 3 times. In last you need to say “I am surrendering myself to you”.
After the visit, our cab driver dropped us to our camping site at around 6:00 PM. Total 3 tents,two each with capacity of 2 for us and one for the Service provider people were set. All looked good. After 10-15 minutes tea and snacks(biscuits,popcorns) were served. Speakers were all set for us. Along with that logs were fired. Why not to sit around fire and have snacks ? We did that.
What else you want , enjoying tea with friends, chilling air, loud music and camp fire !! Like we got Jannat(Heaven) !! After snacks, dinner was scheduled at around 8:30PM. We sat around the fire, did photography, sang songs and did dance. So for 2:30hr we tried every possible entertainment/mood refreshing activity. Dinner was delicious. Best dinner ever till now in our Bhutan trip. After dinner, we sat sometime around fire again. At around 10:00 PM, we started night photography. Stars dimming with full light, good DSLR, and freezing air disturbed by noise of water , the best situation for photographers. At 12:00 AM we set for sleep in our tent in sleeping bed and blankets provided by them. Best ever day in our TRIP !! Food , photography, adventure, and places, we had all good things on this day.
Our next day plan was to visit Gangtey monastery early at 6:00 AM, then to watch rare Black neck birds, roaming Phobjikha and come to Paro. For that we need to depart at 4:00 AM. That was not suitable to cab driver and we didn’t have other option. And Phobjikha to Paro is 8-9 hr journey. We booked hotel in Paro already. So we dropped the plan.
Actually we were short off one day. Phobjikha valley is a must visit place full beautiful views.
Visit Chimi Lhakhang
Visit Royal Botanical Garden on our way to Paro.
Nightlife in Paro
Sunrise at river bank is one of the prime spot for photography. We woke up at 6:00 AM and did that. At around 8:00 AM we took our breakfast, again none can beat that breakfast. Our driver came and took breakfast. We visited White Stupa situated beside our camp site. After half an hour we left Punakha along with unforgettable memories.
On the way we visit Chimi Lhakhang. History is different from typical history.(Chimi Lhakhang)Steps around 100 leads to the temple. Spent around 1hr there.
After that, on the way we visited Royal Botanical Garden. It was not as its name, maybe because of after monsoon season. We passed time anyhow there. Now the only aim in mind was to go to Paro hotel.
Name : Hotel Phunsum
Hall area was quite spacious. Wifi was there.(Speed was good atleast)
One night Triple room/Double room : 1800/1500
Extra Mattress : 300
Contact : +975 1762 6988
On our way, we took lunch. It was good. You can see restaurants playing bollywood movies. On the way, we thought of visiting Bird View point(Paro international airport from height), but later we postpone it to next day. Instead we take closer look to the airport. In Bhutan, whichever type of building it is, it will look like monastery only. Most buildings will be of white color only. The airport building was also looked like Monsatery.(White color, same shape,yellow border and all).
We reached to Paro at around 5:00 PM. Here, we had choice of choosing room. So we chose balcony room. Today, though no activity but we were tired due to travelling. So we shuffled channels on TV and take rest. At 8:00 we started hunting for food. Here we came to know that it was too much colder than we expected. Then we checked weather for later days and it was showing 2C as minimum. Took a round around the cultural capital of Bhutan and then went to bed. Next day we need to go for trek(Second most adventurous part of our Bhutan Trip).
Trekking by 3:00 PM
Reach Haa valley, Enjoy scenery, do hot stone bath.
Destination : Taktsang Monastery(Tiger’s Nest) – 12km from Hotel
Escalating : 3hrs(In general)
Descalating : 2hrs(At max)
Instructions : Take 1-2 ltr of water, pepperments or chocolates if possible.
Canteen : Bhutanese food.
So driver came as early as possible. We left hotel at 8:30AM. We reached there by 9:15AM. We asked our driver to take rest as he came early. Here comes surprise. There was entry fee. We thought 500Rs would be enough for 4 of us. This monastery was going to cut our pockets. It was 500Nu per person. Later we bought(actually rented) two sticks. That was worth 100Nu in total. Finally trek started.
In between holy prayer wheel comes which is rotated by the stream water. So water comes from waterfall and it rotates the prayer wheel on the ground. You can see line of Prayer flags on the way. Everywhere you can find dustbin. So on the way, you won’t find garbage.
We were told that till Canteen it was steep flat terrain after that . So after 15-20 minutes, our eyes were in searching mode for Canteen. In between we took short cuts. We had full stock of PepperMents with different flavours so we didn’t face any dehydration type issue. In between we took photographs. Videography, scenery are the things which eased our way to reach till canteen.
We reached the canteen in around 1 hour. Flat terrain started. Later stairs came. From there view of the monastery is superb. It is a good photography point. After some clicks, we started climbing/descending stairs. It was in total 750 steps. In between water fall comes on one side. Finally we reached to Monastery.
Infrastructure : It is quite big and structure is fabulous. Though it is like some other monastery but at such height constructing it is quite difficult.A temple complex was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen taktsang or “Tiger Lair” caves in which he meditated.[Wikipedia] Guru Padmasambhava is the one credited for spreading Buddhism in Bhutan. How Guru Padmasambhav came here is also quite interesting.(Taktsang Monastery)
In entrance you need to submit sticks, wallet and phones and lock it in a locker. They asked us for guide, but we denied. Later, we came to know it was our mistake. We visited the all temples. Meditated for sometime in sunlight. It was cold now as trekking is done, so sweat was there and we were at 10,250ft. So definitely mixture of sweat and air were giving us the feeling of AirCondition from all side. There were paintings of Guru Padmasambhav.
We sat till 1:00PM. We then left the premise and now it was time to climb stairs. It took a big gulp of our descending time limit of 2hr. After that flat terrain and then steep descending. So we reached within 1:30 hr.
On the way we took rest at canteen. Price was moderate. Food was just Bhutanese and we decided not to taste Bhutanese item further in trip. So we avoided it and reached to ground. We bought key chains. Our driver was there. We left for Haa valley via Paro. On the way we searched for restaurants but no success as we do not wanted Bhutanese food. Driver took us to one small restaurant. Indeed it was like food heaven. We ate Puri Sabji. Taste was too good. Tea was also tasty. Price was quite minimal. We spent around 40 minutes there.
We put aside Bird View and directly headed to Haa Valley. It was included in our itinerary because of Scenic beauty. But as we reached in night, we could not see it. We were going to stay at Ugyen Homestay. It was going to be totally different experience for us. On the way we pass Chelela Pass(13,700ft). Our intention was to watch sunset from there. But we were just 5 minutes late. After sunset also, view was fabulous. Though we could not withstand the chilling air for more than 5 minutes and so no photography. Our fingers were shaking, so only few were clicked properly. We jumped into taxi. Then we reached to Haa valley listening to Bhutanese songs. Music is very good as we can enjoy that only. Lyrics were beyond our understanding.
We reached Haa valley. After some findings we reached the Ugyen Homestay. Before 1-2 days, we confirmed our stay and all, but no reply from them. On the way we asked for Hot Stone bath(we thought it could be arranged any time), but we got negative reply. It takes around 7-8 hours. So we had to call them before 1-2 day. So we missed that traditional Bhutanese bath which is holy and even healthy.
Hot Stone Bath : River stone are accumulated and then they are heated up. Water is passed throught that stones. AS river stones contain minerals, apart from improving our skin, it has some other health benefits also.
Homestay : TripAdvisor has 4.5 Star rating for it and it deserves it. Homestay owner has photos with Bhutan king. Came to know that Bhutan king lives in Haa valley.
Amenities : Rooms with heater and spongy mattresses were ready for us. (2 person per room)
Supper : Tea(Tastier one), lots of snacks.(around 6:30PM)
Dinner : Haa valley special item. Looks like Momos. Too much delicious.
As we were about to leave Haa at around 9:00AM in morning, we planned to do Hot Stone Bath. They provide it at 300 Rs per person. We were ready for that.
Unfortunately, pre process of bath requires around 8hrs of time and it would disturb our tight schedule. So we cancelled it.
23-12 View Scenery of Haa..
On the way Get back to Phuentsholing. Submit our Permit.
Back to Hasimara.
Hasimara to Calcutta train.
Calcutta to Mumbai flight.
Mumbai to Pune..your way.
Done delicious breakfast. With full stomcah we visited 1-2 temples. And left Haa.
We even shoot videos where people were practising Archery. Archery is national sports of Bhutan and you can see many experts on that. Distance between the archer and the shooting spot was around 150 meter(Yes, firstly we also did not believe). In that manner it requires lots of physics to give a perfect shot.
They were merely perfect on it. You can see that video here. After that halt we stayed for lunch at another delicious restaurant suggested by our driver and reached to Phuentsholing at 3:00PM. In between the roads we met clouds and that was really mesmerizing experience.
After that we reached to Hasimara by taxi and then train to Kolkata.You have options of bus from Siliguri to Kolkata.We missed our tatkal train ticket. So chose to go by bus from Siliguri. Though we could be able to reserve train from Hasimara to Siliguri.
After reaching Siliguri(8:30PM) we took bus from Siliguri to Kolkata at just 600Rs. Bus was quite good. But we never know that roads will be worst. So my suggestion is don’t go for bus if possible. Book train in advance . It will save you time and you also from the pain of seating around 6 hrs extra on the bullock cart kind of roads.
Extend one more day and you can cover phobjikha valley as well. It is worth visiting that place. If possible ask the hotel owner of Bhutan(Our hotel owner of Ghasel asked us to rethink on our plan and he as true.)
Don’t miss Hot Stone Bath. You can also do Archery there but hot stone bath is must do experience.
For any query , you can call me or drop an email or comment below.
There are many places in Ahmedabad; historical, spiritual, archeological, museum, etc. But in all those, I liked this place,Andhjanmandal(Blind People’s Association-BPA). It is a home to blind and now of people with other disabilities. You may say,it is like any other home to blind people. But no,you are being mistaken here.
Have a look at my visit and my unforgettable experience…
I found the poster welcoming to visit the place and being curious I just called there. To my surprise in response what I came to know is that there is a show named “Vision in Dark” program for all visitors and then other things to know. It is some 1-1:30 hour show. So it is worth a visit. And we decided to visit. As it is special show for visitors the coordinator(Sharda Madam) asked us to come in group and then call her. So I along with my other 2 friends(Pramod Mali,Abhijit Sojitra) decided to visit.
Time : 10:00 AM(Close on Sunday)
Reach :- BRTS bus(Andhjanmandal BRTS bus stop)
Nearest railway station(Kalupur)
Vision in Dark
When we reach to the place, I informed the coordinator and they asked me to come to the show.
First of all Sharda madam informed us about the Blind People’s Association’s working. The blind people are trained in NIIH(Dehradun) and then they work here. So they can be self independent and live like a common man. Came to know that Vodafone recruited around 70 people from here as BPO service like call center. Writing this news as though they are having same mind power,working abilities they are ignored and Vodafone really did appreciative work.
Now I would like to give you a brief about the Show. Show is to feel you how blind feels,how their daily life is,how they walk,how they watch movies,how they shop,how they travel and all. I mean,we have just a feeling that it is too much difficult without vision. So it is an amazing experience. A must visit place because you can’t feel this while reading this. If you have 3-4 hour time it is an unforgettable experience.
Education is provided upto graduate level.The workshop for carpentry,tailor and in other type also people are trained. Being wondered working them like common man without much difficulties I really amazed. So many more things to experience and visit.
My Contribution,will you ?
Now we just know that blind people reads using Braille script. But this is Tech era so the equipment must be modern. So they are. I came to know that most students there are using Audio Books. I wanted to record one. So I gave test(Just speaking test like how you pronounce,how your tone is and all) and passed. It is just one page test. You can volunteer yourself. There are primary to college level books which needed to be recorded, so you have vivid options.
And within 3-4 days I recorded the book(Gujarati book) and gave them the book. Feels like I really did something for them.
By hearing “Blood” only , many of us just get feared and the pictures of blood shed starts floating around in our mind. What I want to convey you is the procedure, precaution, benefits of blood donations.
1. To save someone’s life. If you have innumerable quantity of anything why don’t you provide it to others to save their life ?
Your one blood donation(Normal-350 ml) saves life of 3 person.
Always visit standard blood bank. You can check the review/rating from Google Maps or other any online website. Now before you start donating blood,you need to take a glimpse over below points to make sure you don’t get into trouble.
Before Donation(Eligibility) :-
1. You must be 18 years old.
2. Check your weight. It is must to check your weight.(Minimum 110 pounds i.e. Must not below 50 kg otherwise not eligible)
3. Check your Blood Pressure(BP). This is very important factor. Because without Normal BP(120/80 is the normal range.) you can’t donate the blood. It is a risk on donor’s life. And if found abnormal BP,don’t panic. Solve the BP issue by taking necessary precautions and go for blood donation when found Normal.
4. They will check your blood for Hemoglobin(HB) and blood group for assurance. But don’t forget to check about the Needle they are using. Just make sure the Needle is new. And if it is plastic needle, then no worries at all. Go on !!!!!
Hemoglobin is a must. My personal suggestion is to check that every time before donation and without it don’t donate. I repeat don’t Donate.
If there is no availability of machine then wait for machine,as machines are available. So within seconds your HB is in your hand. If HB is below than normal(Range for Men-13.5 to 17.5 and for Women – 12.0 to 15.5) then it is too much dangerous for your health as well as the recipient’s health. So better not to give blood at that time.
5. Be sure you have eaten something before donation. Avoid Alcohol before 48 hours. You can not donate if you have cough, flu and other decease and consumed anti-biotics.
6. You must not diagnosed with major decease like Malaria,Dengue,Jaundice and other in last 6 months.
Doctor will give you form asking you for your personal and medical information. Once you pass the form,then go ahead. Bed is in front of you.!!
During Donation :-
Nothing special. Just be calm.
Ask for the Milli(Spungy) ball or anything that increases pressure to your artery as it eases blood circulation and give enough pressure to blood to come out and pour into the bag.
What I used to do is whenever blood donation starts,to record time,I starts stopwatch. You can also do that and observe your timings.
After Donation :-
Sure to have a coffee/tea and biscuit, i. E. Glucose and liquid is needed. And take more liquid that day.
Ask the doctor to send you mail or inform you about your full blood report next day after checking for diseases and other measurements they check before pouring in your blood to someone else’s body. So that you can maintain your health.
And ya,make sure you are not whirling. If so,follow doctor’s instructions standing over there.
When next blood donation ??
Within 56 days your blood will be recovered according to findings. But for precautions or to be more sure , 3 month interval is standard interval between two donations.
1. Inner satisfaction for helping someone. This is the prime.
2. If you are a regular donor, you have to check these things(Weight,HB,BP) and that also every 3 months. Further more your blood will be checked for Hepatitis B, Malaria, HIV and other major deceases. You are getting all these done without paying a single penny and doing social work also. And if any disease is found by chance , it will be mostly in first stage. As in previous it is already surpassed the checking phase.
3. You can encourage someone if you yourself a donor.
One step ahead
There are many people who don’t donate voluntarily,but if anyone requires then they are always ready. There are so many websites listing blood donors. You can enlist yourself over there. I am also registered myself with friends2support and it is reliable as I have donated blood from this once.
Request to hospital :-
Just inform the person that today your blood saved someone’s life. You know,it helps. Because after 1-2 time donor will feel, who cares about my donation and it all went in hell and so on. And even inform the patients that this is some noble man’s deed that you are alive.