Witnessing Royalty of Rajasthan at Fairmont, Jaipur!

Opulence, Royalty, Class, Expansiveness, Luxury are some of the words that came to my mind the moment my car stopped at the porch of Fairmont Hotel, Jaipur. And as I kept moving from the porch to the entrance and finally to my room, all these words turned into reality. Right at the welcome, when a man clad in traditional Rajasthani clothes sings “Padharo Mare Des”, you start feeling the royalty of Rajasthan seeping in, at least thats what I felt. To me whenever this song is sung with a deep tone, it gives me goosebumps.

As I moved towards the lobby, smiling faces awaited me to process a smooth check-in. While it just took about 5 minutes for the entire process, even in those 5 minutes, glimpses of luxury started to show. Cold Towels, Welcome Drink and Escorted entry to my room, I had already started to enjoy my short vacation.

Now coming to the best part, the room, it oozed out opulence and class and trust me when you open the doors to the expansive bathroom, your heart almost skips a beat. Calling it lavish, would be an understatement. The bathtub in the centre catches your attention instantly and all you want to do is, fill it up with a hot bubble bath and just soak yourself and let the luxury take its course on you. But as I reached late in the afternoon, the hunger didn’t let me indulge in the bath at that moment, and it had to wait for a later time in the night.

Now to satiate my hunger, I headed down to Zoya, the all day dining multi cuisine restaurant. A chicken caesar salad, a platter of non-veg kebabs and lamb biryani comprised of my hearty meal. The salad was good and gave me a refreshing start to the meal. From the kebab platter, I loved the Kasundi Mahi Tikka the most and also the Chicken Tikka and Chicken Malai Tikka were done well, but the best was the fish.

The Lamb Biryani is surely something you shouldn’t miss, it was one of the highlights. The rice were perfectly spiced and the fried onions garnish added another layer of flavour to it. The mutton pieces were really soft and tender. Served with raita, its a complete meal and believe me you won’t need anything else. 5 senses and toffee date pudding are the desserts you can’t afford to miss again. They will melt in your mouth.

After this appetising meal, I retired to my room for a small nap, whereas my son tried his hand at Table Tennis in the hotel itself. The hotel does offer quite a lot of activities for children of all age groups. Later I spent most time of my evening dipping myself in the expansive pool, almost for 2 hours and it made me feel refreshed and tired at the same time, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

A quick shower and was ready for yet another culinary exploration and this time headed to  Zarin, a speciality restaurant that serves Persian delicacies. Shishlik, boneless lamb chops on skewers was a melt in the mouth experience and is definitely a must try. Jujeh Kebab was the next dish on my platter, succulent pieces of barbecued chicken, this too was delicious. We also ordered for roasted lamb chops and they too were a delight, full of flavours, but only I wished that the meat was a little more tender.

For main course, we tried Dal Zarin, Nihari Khas and a Chicken based gravy dish, and all the main course dishes were fabulous and should surely be given a try. But the best was yet to come, it was the dessert platter, with Baklawa and Baglawa and I just could not have enough of both of these items. They were simply the best I have ever eaten.

After a very hearty meal yet again, I headed to the comfort of my room for a good night’s sleep. I really had a very peaceful sleep as the rooms are completely sound proof, I got up just in time for the breakfast. The breakfast was a lavish spread at Zoya and one can get a lot of options from English breakfast to American and Indian with regional delicacies as well.

I spent the day at leisure, indulging in games, hitting the gym and dipping in pool. The lunch was special on this day, as we got to savour the typical Rajasthani Thali and no amount of words can justify the flavours, the presentation and the taste. You really need to have it yourself to believe the goodness of it. I have to admit that I had once earlier also tasted the Rajasthani Thali but didn’t like it much back then, but here at Fairmont, it was easily one of the best things I had. The veg thali especially included things which I had never tasted before and I loved all of them. Papad Mangodi ki Subzi, Gatte ki Subzi, Sagri Ke Kofte and Dal Batti Churma, everything was outstandingly delicious. In the non-veg thali, Laal Maas was obviously the highlight. Finishing the meal with Kulfi Falooda was just the thing to do.

For dinner, we have a private set up done at the terrace overlooking the pool and a magnificent tomb. We settled for some Asian food that night and I think this is one area where the hotel needs to work a bit. In comparison to the Indian and Persian food, Asian food did not meet much of expectations. Main Course consisting of Sichuan Chicken and Chicken Garlic Noodles was really good whereas starters except Chicken Spring Rolls were disappointing.

After a luxurious bath at night I once again had a comfortable sleep at the Hotel. The third morning, after a continental brunch at Zoya, I had to bid goodbye to this luxury and head back home. I enjoyed a grilled chicken breast with mushroom sauce for my brunch and it truly was delicious.

Goodbyes are often the most difficult thing and who wants to leave such comfort, class and luxury, but like they say ‘all good things come to an end’ and so did my short 2 night-3 day trip to Fairmont Jaipur. But I am sure I will be going there back very soon as I fell in love with the place. If you haven’t stayed at this hotel, it should definitely be in your list. I am still swooning over the place.

Hotel Fact File

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAIRMONT JAIPUR

Toll Free (Room Reservations only):
1 877 289 1012
jai.reservations@fairmont.com

2, Riico Kukas
Jaipur
India
303101
Maps & Directions

TEL + 91 142 642 00 00
FAX + 91 142 642 00 11
International Numbers

Experiencing great North Indian food at The Yellow Chilli, Goa!

When you are away from your home town, apart from missing your loved ones back home, you miss the typical home food the most. During my recent trips to Goa, one evening I was really missing the typical Indian food, especially the Dal Makhani and some Butter Naans and then I remembered The Yellow Chilli by Sanjeev Kapoor which is housed in the very famous Mall de Goa and I immediately jumped with joy, grabbed hold of my friends and we all headed straight to the restaurant.

The quirkiness of the places catches your attention immediately, with some amazing caricatures adorning the walls. The seating is casual dining type and is apt for families and youngsters both.

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To begin with we settled for some Masala Papad, Dahi Ke Kebab, Tangra Chilly Paneer, Lehsuni Murg Tikka and Chanak Tawa Masala. The Chanak Tawa Masala was easily the best dish, nice and crispy fish with a flavourful masala and I simply loved it. The Lehsuni Murg Tikka was another delightful preparation, the chicken was mouth meltingly soft and the taste of garlic was just right.

Dahi Ke Kebabs were nicely done and I loved the small innovation of adding a bit of cheese in the centre, which tasted quite well. The Chilly Paneer was good, but could have been better, as the taste of salt and garlic overpowered everything else.

For drinks, we tried Jaljeera, Butterscotch Caramel and Tarbooza and all of them were good. I personally loved the Jaljeera, my friend ended up ordering the Butterscotch Caramel twice so I am very sure it would be awesome too.

For the mains we settled for Lalla Mussa Dal, a hot favourite at the Yellow Chilly and Ghee Roasted Chicken. Both the dishes were great, and we relished them with butter naans.

Bebinca with butter made for our dessert and it was delicious. You can’t miss on trying a bebinca especially when in Goa. Overall it was a great experience of having typical North Indian food in Goa and satiating my taste buds to the fullest. So when in Goa do try the Yellow Chilly and I am sure you will love it.

The Yellow Chilli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

LURM to create ripples of ecstasy through its revelry in Jaisalmer…!

LURM 2016 is a new rage among youth as the festival hits the commoners amidst beautiful Sam Dunes this December. Basis its extravagant facets a perfect blend of food, music, fashion, film, adventure, camping, beer and wine will be observed at the carnival. Spread across 34 acres of land, the place overtures more than 2000 camps to get hold of almost 13000 people. While close to 200 films from 15 different countries shall constitute the cinema part, nearly 100 food outlets would exhibit the best of the cuisines from all over the world. The target audience implicates only adults from the tier-1 or tier -2 cities while tourists from China, Japan, European countries are also going to be there.

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According to Sushil Wadhwa, Founder & CEO, TheStoreHunt.com, “LURM is going to be India’s first zero waste and biggest Desert Festival as it incorporates support from the elite institutions.” Wherein, fashion institutes are working for ‘Bamboo for sustainability’ concept, NID Alumni is making use of scrap, unused & recyclable goods to develop the entire ambience. Wadhwa reckons that the Flea Market set up being marketed by TheStoreHunt.con could have a Christmas Market kind of a feel like they have in Germany during the month of December. Besides, Pritesh Roy, Head of Piggy Bank Films is “proud to be mentoring the film festival which is sure to be different and worth.” 3337738880_7df2dfe1d2_z

The enticing food producer & corporate chef, Varun Bajaj gives LURM his own definition as, “Lovely concept, United planned, Retrieved location, Magnificent offerings” and adds “As name adds LURM is all about making your Christmas a gala time with a place of adventure added with fun and garnished with an essence of culture of India.” It is due to the presence of 25+ food exhibitors at the event who would showcase their talent live in front of their audience. Since a wide range of cocktails & drinks are going to be available to taste, Wine and Beer Festival Mentor – Archit Singhal affirms, “LURM Festival embodies the spirit of impossibilities”
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All sorts of music be it EDM, Sufi, Classical etc are going to make highlights owing to presence of all renown names such as Bemet, Twistedbass, CAS, UD & Jowin, Genus, Beyond 120, Nosh & SJ, Dilshad Khan, Tritha, Ustad Anwar Khan Manganiyar and group from Barmer, Sikar Gharana Ensemble, Imran and Friends, Aagamya, Across the Line, Ceaseless Juncture, Underground Authority, Dj Fintushami from Russia. In fact the National Award winning melody maestro Imran Khan says being associated with LURM “mainly because of varied music range which no other festival has ever done” He further looks up to his performance at the beautiful city, Jaisalmer.
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On being asked about the concept behind creating this festival, Tushar Sharma, Founder says “he has been passionately driven by music which has given him a glimpse into every culture of the Earth. Thus to bind people from any background – LURM happened.” Concurrently, Milind Bharti, co – founder believes that “LURM is the most revolutionary excuse which somehow managed to bring the best professionals to initiate innovation in India.”

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Undoubtedly, the festival has everything under one roof as it also bids for ‘Paramotoring’, an enthralling adventure aero sport with adequate safety measures. The mind-blowing fashion bazaar offers handcrafts, jewellery, footwear and other exclusive merchandise. Most of the popular names like the Mumbai festival, Book My Show, Red FM, 9XO, The logical Indian, , Elixir Coterie, Piggy Bank Films, Creative Karma and Thestorehunt.com are leading partners of the whole affair.
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Not to forget, LURM is according each possible aspect of ‘sensible partying’ and CSR activities. Where merrymaking and cleanliness do not go hand in hand very well, LURM Festival 2016 assures the prospect and takes up the heavy challenge of doing just the opposite. Irrespective of being a high power entertainment event, no use of plastic is encouraged; littering is not excusable and will attract penalty.  Festival team is taking extra measures to save paper to the optimum level – tear their business cards or event tickets; you will get a seed to plant a tree. No brochures will be given out for event details, everything will be digitized – on app and on screen details during event. It will even establish water purifier systems to provide water for no cost. Also each item available at the festival is completely saleable whilst the sale proceeds move to concern artisan.
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You now know where all roads leads to this December – to India’s first travel destination event with such high ecological concepts with equal value for entertainment. Be ready to party hard while taking care of Mother Nature.

A Kiwi’s Antar Yatra- An Intimate Pilgrimage You Need To Know About…!!

Travel has always been an integral part of every religion and not everyone is acquainted with the fact. Irrespective of the religion, pilgrimages have always been designed in such a way that the pilgrim encounters new experiences away from his/her vicinity. People are caught up so intricately in the web of life that they forget to see the world and explore a new perspective. A pilgrimage is one strict reminder.

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Kevin Duggan woke up to a similar reminder when he decided to visit India a second time. The same place where his sister Karyn Duggan had lost her life in 1998. Kevin had come a long way from New Zealand with his bike to traverse a considerable part of the Lesser Himalayas.

He had many unanswered questions and bringing a companion along would have defeated the whole purpose of the trip. Even after facing objections from his dear ones, the 53 year old set afoot on his journey alone!

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He cycled along Shimla- Narkanda- Rampur- Tapri- Reckong Peo- Spello- Pooh- Nako- Tabo- Kaumik- Kaza- Battal and all the way to Chattru in Spiti Valley. A 900 kms stretch on two wheels through mettle testing terrain. His idea was not to cover the distance from Point A to Point B but to ‘live’ the experiences that came along his way. Roadside workers inviting him over lunch, random stranger trekking a 50km patch over a mountain pass with him, pedestrians shouting out ‘Julley’ and many more overwhelming experiences is what emblazoned his quest. The ‘India’ Kevin had imagined ten years ago, was quite the opposite in reality now.

He felt spiritually connected to the place and feels that some part of his sister is still in that valley.

It was a mental challenge for Kevin to come back to India. He believed that harder the challenge is, greater efforts are required but if you meet that challenge; greater the rewards!

His rewards, as he genuinely puts it were, “meeting you (the 4Play.in Team) guys and having seven adopted Indian sons”.

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Everyone has a different way of traveling, some travel in groups, some aim in covering different spots on the globe but for Kevin, travel has a lot different meaning. Keeping himself in shape is what has helped him discover the world the way he wanted to.

Made of true grit and due to a passion for the outdoors, Kevin Duggan still going strong at the age of 53. Having completed one of the most prestigious endurance races on the planet, His quest for exploration has attained an undying character. Working regularly on his fitness level, he is quite a challenge to the status quo of modern athleticism.

Here is a video showcasing Kevin’s intimate pilgrimage journey.

The video is created by 4 Play. 4Play is India’s first adventure sports channel which curates stories from the outdoor extreme and adventure sports. They are the outcome of roughing it up in the outdoors, living on the cutting edge of what may be termed as extreme, and basking in the experiences that came along. For more interesting stories log on to http://4play.in and witness adventure sports like never before.

Pages from a traveler’s diary- Rishikesh

Nestled scenically in the laps of Sivalik Range in Himalayas; is a spiritual town of Rishikesh. Located in Dehradun district in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand, the holy city is a revered pilgrimage center among the Hindus. Burgeoned in natural splendor the city is a Gateway to Himalayas and an origination point for the “Char Dham” pilgrimage; one of the most sacred pilgrimage tours — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Flourished at the foothills of Himalayas this sanctified city gets its name “Rishikesh” after Lord “Vishnu” which means ‘lord of the senses’.

The city comprises of the main town of Rishikesh along with few distinct sections encompassing hamlets and settlements on both the banks of the river Ganges. Primarily the main town Rishikesh comprises of an expansive commune known as “Muni-ki-Reti” meaning “sands of the sages” and the home of Sivananda Ashram; The Divine Life Society founded by Swami Sivananda popularly known as Sivananda Nagar. The north of Rishikesh comprises of the temple section of Lakshman Jhula, and a little further north are the assorted Ashrams around Swarg Ashram on the east bank.

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The sacred river representing country’s piousness, the Ganges flows through Rishikesh. Shredding her teen image of playful rivulet flowing from the Shivalik Ranges of the Himalayas, here she grows into a blooming young river commencing her journey further into the plains of northern India. Her turquoise hued clear water gushing swiftly with expeditious currents paints a devastatingly exquisite scene. Thousands of devotees, pilgrims and tourist throng the city each year from India and overseas. The feeling of divinity captivates one’s senses even whilst staring the banks of Ganges adorned with delicate flowers, and a converting of solitary Saints, Monks, priest and spiritually awakened individuals passing by.

Rishikesh, ever so often tagged as “the world capital of Yoga”, houses numerous yoga centers those are much older than any other yoga organizations in the world. One of the oldest yoga establishments is Kailas Ashram Brahmavidyapeetham; an institution dedicated to preserve and promote the traditional Vedantic Studies has been a part of this institution for more than 120 years. Legendary personas such as Swami Vivekananda, Swami Ramanand Tirtha and Swami Shivananda were alumni of this institution prior commencing their noteworthy journeys. The tinsel town has been a silent observer of lives of several yogis and Sages having lived and practiced penance here. It is said and well – believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to self – realization and “Moksha” and so does a dip in the divine river that flows throughout.

The town awakens at the early hours to the bellowing of conches and the “Vedic” chants. Blossoming with fragrant lilacs, roses, gerberas and holy basil which is considered of prime significance in offerings among the Hindu Gods the spirituality then emanates in the air. Most of the congregations of worshippers take a dip in the river as a part of a ritual and then proceeding ahead to perform “Pujas” in the temple.  Later the Gods are bejeweled in the colorful garlands, vermilion, turmeric and are ornamented in silk attire. Array of colognes emanate off the incense sticks followed by rhythmic chanting of prayers or “Vedas” in the temples mesmerizing one’s curiosity.

The bridge that bridges the banks of River Ganges is popularly termed as “Laxman Jhula” and is a well-known landmark in the city. The existence of this bridge dates back to the mythological era of “Ramayana” and is believed that “Laxmana” the brother of Hindu deity Lord Rama, crossed river Ganga on jute rope where the present bridge stands today. The 450 feet long jute-rope Bridge was replaced by iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889 by a British Officer but unfortunately it was washed away in the 1924 floods and afterwards was then replaced by a stronger present bridge. To the west of the bridge stands a temple devoted to “Laxmana”; the brother of Lord “Rama”.  “Laxman Jhula” offers an astonishing view of ravishing beauty of River Ganges. Watching the mountains roofed in green belt with turquoise hued Ganges flowing by and chilly breeze swirling around, crafts the bridge as a great place to be at. The river here abounds of fishes and often pilgrims are seen feeding a stream of fishes from the bridge or at a place where the fishes gather while the pilgrims drop food for them. A boat ride down the river is recommended as it offers a panoramic view of the bridge. The background colored with lush green mountain ranges and an unblemished steely grey Lakshman Jhula in the foreground seems like a portrait in itself autographed by Mother Nature.

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Blending its modern appearance with inner enlightenment the 13 storey Kailash Niketan Temple is the next stop post crossing Laxman Jhula. The Temple houses several sculptures of Gods and Goddesses and is a pure example of contemporary manifestation enlightened with the rays of serenity and spirituality.  The experience of spiritually is not only limited to the plains of Rishikesh but is also felt at an altitudes. Commanding an extravagant view of the region, situated on the altitudes of 5500 feet, abiding in equanimity is the legendary temple of Nilkanth Mahdeo. Encircled by serenity of the forests the temple is situated on a hilltop above “Swarg Ashram”. Legend goes that in the mythological era when the ocean was being churned for ‘Amrit’ (Potion for immortality), first venom oozed out and this was the place where lord Shiva had drunk the venom to save the mankind. After consuming it, his neck had turned blue with the poison and hence he was called ‘Neelkanth’, the one with blue neck. Every year in the months of monsoon – mid July to August – fairs are held where thousands of devotees visit temple, taking a holy dip in the fresh water spring within temple complex pilgrims proceed to pay visit to the lord. Scorched eyes long to have a view of the Lord Shiva who has been marking his presence since ages and eras, in a serene pose yet so very powerful and commanding by nature, the deity welcomes and blesses one and all.

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To the east of the Ganges is a place bustling with activities all the times, better known as “Swarg Asharm”.  Ashrams, temples, restaurants, shops, eating joints are well developed in this area. Founded by Swami Vishuddhananda fondly known as “Kaali Kamli Wale”, the ashram is one of oldest in Rishikesh and is adorned by many statues. The spiritual air of the spiritual soul pacifies one and all. Crossing over the “Ram Jhula” towards the western bank of Ganges is Shivanand Ashram: The Divine Life Society: One of the oldest and most active ashrams in the area. A doctor by profession, Swami Shivanand renounced his life in Delhi and came to Rishikesh in the year of 1924 and set up Divine Life Society in 1936. He authored approximately 200 books on yoga, health and spiritual life prior his death in 1963. The ashram organizes regular yoga classes, meditation courses and performs and promotes studies in texts like Upanishads and Gita very often. Spiritual and activities related with Hinduism are the practiced every day. The ashram runs a biggest charitable hospital from which hundreds of localities avail the facilities of free of charge medical services.

Located in the heart of the ancient town of Rishikesh near Triveni Ghat on the banks of River Ganges, abiding in silence since centuries is an aesthetic “Bharat Mandir”. “Adiguru Shankara Charya” built the temple; a renowned saint who lived in the 12th century. The internal chamber of the temple houses an idol of Lord Vishnu, which is carved out of a single rock of “Saligram”; a rock that possess divine powers. An awning of “Shree Yantra” shelters from above the idol. The temple also houses several other old statues, coins, pots and other things of historical significance.

Nothing seems phenomenal as the “Ganga Aarti” of “Triveni Ghat”.  The ghat is a foremost place where pilgrims crowd to take a holy dip and a spectacular “Ganga Arati” is performed regularly in the dusk. Being a principle place for taking a holy dip in, the Ghat derives its name due to confluence of three rivers namely, Ganga, Yamuna & Sarawati.  The most enthralling and eye – catching event at the dusk being “Ganga Arati” scores of devotees throng the steps of ghat at the dusk for performing Arati. The priest and saints carry out the ritual, while the fiery orange fuelled with multiple hued golden flames transpire out of massive pure ghee lamp being rotated in the circular motions brightly lighting up the whole place. The Triveni Ghat then witnesses the illuminated statue of Lord Shiva amidst the river and Vedic chants fill the atmosphere in the praise of the river Ganges.  The bellowing conches and religious songs spiritually awaken the atmosphere with divinity blending in air mesmerizing one to the tunes of the songs sung in devotion. It is here at dusk, that scenario quenches one’s thirst for peace and the soul entwines into the feeling of oneness connecting itself with the universe. It is then when the whole cosmos conspires together to gift mankind the tranquility and inner joy beyond expression or one’s imagination. Later devotees float their respective leaf bowls filled with flowers and an oil lamp into the river. The reflection of lamps enamels the water with golden ripples. The radiance emitting out of the statue of Lord Shiva amidst the river soothes the tired souls and eyes follow the lamps till they disappear. The ceremony symbolizes a revival of hope, remembrance of the kind deeds of the river since ages and praying for the betterment of the mankind.

Rishikesh is one of the holiest communes in India and every corner of the city is considered as sanctified one. The city possesses the magic of a casting spell to transform and balance the inward journey with an outward adventure. Dwelling on the laps of lower Himalayas, surrounded by untouched countryside with panoramic views, numerous village treks, jungle walks in rhododendron forests, with the banks of Ganges that is dotted with numerous ancient temples transforms the holy town into a heaven making one say “Come home to Rishikesh”

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Breathing lowers, eyes get transfixed and soul flies off leaving the senses spellbound. Nothing seems breath taking as the 400 years old monastery looming across the horizon. Perched at a height above 12,155ft and having drenched in quintessential aura of Buddhism, this land of Monpa Tribe is nestled in the knolls of dawn-lit mountains. Nuzzled in the icy folds of higher Himalayan foothills of North Easthern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang is scarcely populated mountainous track lying roughly on the northwest extreme. Mesmerising lofty mountains, clear sparkling lakes, deep gorges, exquisite Gompas and quaint villages shade this tinsel town as the basket of adventure. The high altitude bare mountains, uninhabited hilly belt ranging from 6000 ft to 11,000.ft comprising of plateau and sparsely populated narrow valleys graduates Tawang as the Mecca of trekkers and hikers.

The magnanimous monastery offers an inebriating & picturesque view of the Tawang Chu river valley. The monastery appears like a humongous fortress as if guarding the votaries of Mahayana Buddhism in the wide valley below. Fondly known as Galden Namgyal Lhatse, which translates to “celestial paradise in a clear night” in Tibetan dialect, has a tale to tell.  And the tale is indeed captivating with the thundering waterfalls, bursting bubbles of hot water spring and the flirtatious temperate breeze playing the role of percussionists in the background. The legend goes that the site on which the Gompa stands is considered extremely pious and divine. It’s said that when Merag Lama wasn’t able to locate the place for the construction of the monastery, he intended to seek divine guidance. He was praying inside a cave and when he returned post finishing the prayers, he found that his horse was missing. On searching, he saw that horse was standing on a hilltop.  Considering this as a sign of divine blessing, the location was then finalized for construction of the monastery. The foundation stone of this celestial monastery was laid by Merag Lama; the monk of the time of 5th Dalai Lama. The whole structure was brought from Tibet, piece by piece; on horseback and it was assembled here. The monastery was founded in 1681 by Merag Lama Lodre Gyatso in compliance with the desires of 5th Dalai Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso.
Having witnessed the quest for survival of Tibetans and harsh weather conditions since centuries, the 3 storey fortified monastery spans across 150 square meters having 65 residential structures, lanes and by lanes inside. With the capacity of accommodating 750 monks, the three storied assembly hall of the monastery houses a colossal 28 ft high golden statue of Buddha, striking deity idols, Thangkas and murals. Abundant with spiritual treasures it has preserved holy Buddhist scriptures, pictographs and an exceptional collection of ancient Tibetian Thangkas along with the renowned Buddhist scriptures Kangyur & Tangyur those are inscribed in gold since centuries.  The main assembly hall or Duknang is a house to an array of Buddha statues in various poses. Bejeweled with sacred knowledge, Parkhang hall is actually a library with a wealth of Thangka-manuscripts and sacred books. Waking up to the sound of gongs and prayer bells is blissful enough for a spiritual beginning. Watching maroon-robed monks chanting, praying & meditating near the 28-feet high golden Buddha decked with horns and incense braziers pacifies the soul. Being synonymous to a peaceful and solitary retreat, the gompa buzzes of religious activity, while its craft center produces intricately woven carpets.

Bustling bazaar, fluttering prayer flags, stone and timber houses of Monpas add to the charm of Tawang. These original inhabitants of Tawang are the descendants of Mongoloid stock. Their primary source of income is based on agriculture and animal husbandry.  As hearty as theirs yaks are, so are the Monpas who tend to their yaks and brew their own alcohol. Armed with a philosophy of living their lives to the fullest, they enjoy life and when spirits are high they often break into song & dance.  The local markets are dotted with shops selling woolen shawls, carpets and the wrap skirts worn by Monpa women. The Craft Center of the Tawang Monastery produces fine woolen carpets in an array of colorful designs. Also there Serdukpen shawls Apatani jackets and scarves, Adi skirts, Mishmi shawls, blouses and jackets, wancho bags. Craft- Centers at Bomdila and Tawang offer very fine carpets in multiple shades and patterns. Carpets of ethnic Tibetan designs are way too popular and are made of pure wool. Couples of souvenir shops in the Old Market and the Tibetan settlement showcase an array of wood items carved by the locals. Hand carved special bowls, spoons; masks those are sported in religious dances and ethnic Monpa & Tibetan utensils used for cooking can are up for sale. The renowned Buddhist prayer wheels, flags and statues carved out of wood as well as brassware are even sold in the market.

Urgelling Monastery:  A few miles from Tawang to the south is the birthplace of His Holi Highness the sixth Dalai Lama; Ngawang Gyamtso, the sacred Urgelling monastery. The 6th Dalai Lama is the only Indian to have risen to such a high position in Gelupka Sect of Buddhism so far. Urgelling monastery traces backs its roots to the 15th century CE, i.e. around 1489. Established by Urgen Sangpo as a Buddhist spiritual center  the monastery had faced invasion and resurrection. Today it houses a single temple and shelters some of the monks who lead a simple life, practice meditation and other Buddhist practices.

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Taktsang Monastery:  Nestled amidst serenity and dense coniferous forest with snow capped peaks in the background is the Taktsang Monastery. Well known as “Tiger’s Den” this is an ideal setting for those who have chosen the path of Nirvana and the monastery have been by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century CE. The quest to begin the inner journey and solace ends here, The monastery offers a perfect place to seat, meditate and lets one’s unite with celestial universe.

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Tawang War Memorial:  Every land has its hero and India has a history of its numerous heroes. Namgyal Chorten is proof about Indian Army’s extraordinarily trained and unequaled men. They were the heroes who ferociously fought till their last droplet of blood shaded the ground red and their last round of bullets silenced the hordes of Chinese. Standing tall, commanding respect and overlooking the Tawang Chu valley is the 40 ft. Multi hued Tawang War Memorial. Commemorating the bravery of the Indian heroes of the Indo-Shino war of 1962, the memorial has names of 2,420 dead soldiers etched in gold on around 32 black granite plagues. The war memorial has two halls. One of them houses the priceless collection of personal articles of martyrs, while the other is used for sound and light shows, depicting their heroic deeds. Dalai Lama has blessed the entire memorial and in addition, the Holy Scriptures, an idol of Lord Buddha and Arya Avlokiteshwara were also sent by Dalai Lama to this memorial. These idols have been kept in the vaults of the stupa.

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Tawang is not just a house to several other monasteries and nunneries but boasts of several adventure sports too. The rivers Tawang-Chu and Namjang-Chu are a hot spot for river-rafting activities leaving other options too for rock-climbing, paragliding, skating and other winter sport activities.

Food for feast: And yes, Tawang cooks up some scrumptious delicacies for the ardent foodies and those who are interested to gamble a bit with their taste buds. The infamous Tibetan delicacies like Thupka, or momos are available at every roadside corner. But the appetizing Paratha- Sabzi is a must try and can be eaten hot from the roadside eateries. A tiny shack named Annapurna serves flavorsome “Alu Chips”. Tasting a traditional Monpa cuisine needs a tongue of steel and an iron heart as they tend to use a generous amount of chilies and fermented cheese that gives a strong flavor which not recommend for the weakhearted. One can try “Zan”, the staple dish of the Monpas which is made of Millet flour with ingredient including vegetables or meat to which fermented cheese, soya bean or other herbs are added too. If this isn’t filling then “Gyapa Khazi” is the hunger cruncher. It’s a Monpa version of Pulao made of rice, fermented cheese and tossed with small dried fishes or shrimps, chilies ginger and other spices. One can also try “Khura”, the Monpa Pancake which is generally served with tea. Apart from Apong which is a local drink made of rice and millet, Butter Tea too is famous beverage. It is smooth and shooting too. Monpas being mostly non-vegetarians are fond of these delicacies. Apart from these there are many mount-watering Monpa recipes like Khatzi, Pua, Kyola, Kharang.Bak-Tza Margu. Those with the street food fixation can hunt for local eateries to explore the appetizing side of Tawang.

Fascinating Festivities: Losar &Torgya

As enchanting as this paradisaical destination is so are the vibrant festivities of this land. Considered as the most important of all Buddhist festivals, Festival of Losar commemorates the Tibetan New Year in accordance with the lunar calendar. It falls in the end of February or early March and is celebrated for 8 – 15 days. It’s marked with ancient rituals, stage fights between good and evil, chanting and passing through the crowds with fire torches. Amplifying the spirit of festivity, the dance of the Ibex deer and the dramatic battles between the King & his ministers are phenomena to be witnessed. For the ones who follow Buddhism, Losar is a sacred time of feasting and celebrations. Exquisitely shaded homes with flour paintings of the Sun & moon and the tungsten light shimmering of the small lamps illuminated in the houses are worth capturing in the camera lens. Glistening lamps, holy chants and hoisting prayer flags leverage the piousness of the sacred festival of Losar.

Another major festival celebrated only by the Lamas of the monastery is Torgya. Being one of the most colorful festivals of Arunachal Pradesh, the celebration continues for three days commencing from the 28th day of the eleventh month of the lunar calendar. Amidst the traditional Tibetan music, Chham; a sacred dance is performed by monks dressed in mythological attires and masks during the festival. The dance depicts numerous holy, earthly characters and it is performed for three days. Commencing the festival on its 1st day, monks offer a sacrificial cake known as Torma which is offered to the fire ignited in the courtyard of the monastery which is then accompanied by the reading of Holy Scriptures by the beating of drums. On the last day of Torgya a ritual of worship is performed known as Wang. Here an assembly is organized and every individual is then allowed to participate in the holy rituals under the guidance of the monk. A long procession at the end is taken out and the large Thangka is kept outside for public view. On the onset of this festival, a pyramidal structure of Torgya is made by the Lamas, who offer prayers, lighten every corner of the monastery with colourful lights and perform dance to signify the victory of good over the evil spirits.

Even in the advanced world of zillion technologies, there do exists the creed those remind every traveler of the days when Man loved to live in the laps of Mother Nature. And this unexplored celestial land is no exception to it. The voyagers will always find the spirituality of Tibet in the air. No matter how the world advances, the tribal culture, tradition, the Gompas, monks’ prayers and chanting will always emanate for the divine cause of peace and well being of the whole cosmos.

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