Tag Archives: Uttarakhand

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

2 December 2017

Exotic visual tour of Indian marvels | India in Pictures #002

India is a country where various dynasties have conquered and vanished through the centuries, but the beauty still remains in the form of architecture, food and people themselves!

Cultures, traditions, celebrations and manifolds of landscapes make every corner turn into a new discovery, be it a local or visitor!

Here is a series of visuals by Creative Heads from all over the country.

 

Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan // ©Ankit Kumar

 

Nandgaon, Uttar Pradesh // ©Mohit Tejpal

 

Dal Lake, Srinagar // ©Nissar Rafiquee

 

CST, Mumbai // ©Yash Sheth

 

Sam Dunes Jaisalmer // ©Tanvi Sharma

 

Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir // ©Manali Jain

 

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh  // ©Abhishek Kumar Singh

 

Bhabha Valley, Kinnaur // ©Ashish

 

Kochi // ©Ravinder Singh

 

Munnar, Kerala // ©Rejish

 

 

Featuring series of inspiring images by Creative Heads from all over the country as ‘India in Pictures’.

 

Rules to submit for ‘India in Pictures’ here .

 

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#147

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

20 November 2017

Traveller of the Week: Prakriti Varshney

Prakriti Varshney is a 22-year-old adventurer whose physical state resides in the Delhi plains but her soul lingers throughout the Himalayas. According to her father’s retellings, she has always been the one with the fiery adventure streak. Brought up against the typical feminine norms, her father acknowledged the latent strength in her in the early years itself. He moulded her into a self-sufficient human, and she owes a lot to him for this.

 

Prakriti Varshney

 

A graduate in Fashion and Apparel Designing, Prakriti realized during her very first work experience with a start-up that this is not her cup of tea! Living a life with a mundane, robotic routine is not what she desires. There was sufficient money but always a restless mind. Overworked, she was in a perpetual dilemma “What am I grinding myself for?” and she couldn’t find a suitable answer. That’s the day she quit a life with a routine to start a journey without a specific road-map.

 

Adventure and Exploration are the two terms that drive her to do things-let it be about trying a new cuisine or learn about a new form of art.  Her first solo trip was to Spiti Valley on a shoestring budget. The trip covered a span of 8 days on a budget of mere 4000 rupees. She carried along certain essentials like a tent and a sleeping bag, commuted in roadways, hitchhiked from one village to the other and interacted with new people around. It was a phenomenal experience for her.

Her next planned trip is to North East for a month starting next week, followed by two months, January and February in Leh and Ladakh. She prefers travelling solo because then you’re all about your own self and at your own ease.  She loves solo trips because she can have her own plan of action and there is no room for friction due to disagreements. It is certainly risky to travel alone, but the liberating experience is worth the risk.

 

Prakriti is a full-time traveller. On being asked about her first and foremost confrontation with her family regarding her profession, she did reveal that apart from her survival in harsh climatic conditions, her parents were worried about her safety when she planned her very first expedition, to which she agrees to some extent. Being a girl, one has to face some sort of unnerving experiences every day, and hers was a decision to travel thousands of kilometres away from home.  Her priority is not to tick off the places on her bucket list but to travel to learn, grow and absorb whatever is out there. She is open to change and doesn’t necessarily follow a schedule during her travels. She mentions, “If I like a place more than the others, I might decide to stay for a longer period to satisfy my soul than to keep following the itinerary.”

She lists down some of her favourite destinations from India: Spiti Valley – Closest to heart, this land has everything to offer, from larger than life landscapes to exquisite art to never dying culture to the sweetest and kindest people.  Even after 6 rounds in the same year, it always feels like something more to explore. Auroville – A place where in the middle of chaos, you will find calm. If you seek serenity and fun together, this place is a must. Ride a bicycle, do meditation sessions, chase butterflies in the botanical garden, try different cuisines, grab some eateries & head to the beach to witness the spellbinding sunset.

Uttrakhand – The state is a wholesome package for travellers. It is famously termed “Devbhoomi” (the abode of Gods), for Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath maintain that chaste aura. Whitewater rafting and Yoga in Rishikesh, legendary Ramjhula and Lakshmanjhula, serene blue lakes in Nainital, presence of wild animals in Jim Corbett National Park, around 500 species of flowers in Valley of Flowers, and land of some of the highest mountain peaks in the world – Nanda Devi, Kamet, Hardeol, Chaukhamba, Trishul- in short, a pit stop for most of the adventures you seek.

Kanyakumari – The southernmost point of India surrounded by sea on three sides, the place offers one of the most scenic sunset and sunrise views.

Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh – It is a spot known as the highest paragliding site one would never regret having a bird’s eye view.   Her travel essentials include her LifeStraw (not when travelling in the Himalayas), a diary and a pen to journal her excursions, sunscreen lotion, a waterproof bag, and of course her camera and earphones. Prakriti enjoys the most her moments of solace. She could sit in a corner of the road for hours and observe everything that is around her. She is also fond of meeting strangers in unknown places, with a myriad of stories and experiences.  She hasn’t travelled around a single state in an exhaustive manner as of now but has covered certain towns, cities and even villages in around 17 states so far. She has planned to cover two more in the next two months. She feels it is essential to roam about every niche of a state to be thorough with it, and not just pay a visit to certain famous tourist spots. Although she has been to Dubai and Oman in her teenage years, she has decided to take up international travelling only after she has explored sufficient amount of her own country.

 

Travelling has transformed Prakriti’s core as a whole. According to her, it is an essential method or resource for learning which teaches you what you cannot grab through books. Bonding with strangers, having faith in your instincts to trust, give in to the universe, and never give up even when you fall apart. A lesson she abides to is “We can go way beyond our limits.” She recounts an anecdote of her visit to Shrikhand Mahadev, one of the toughest pilgrimages in India. During the initial phase, she made her mind to give up due to incessant exertion and injury in her knee, but she was determined to complete her journey. The sight of the 72 feet tall Shivling after the commencement of a tedious journey was definitely something to vouch for!

 

Chandertaal Lake

Bir Billing, Himachal

Chandrashila Top, Uttrakhand

Kanyakumari

Langza, Spiti Valley

Last light, Kanyakumari

Mane, Spiti Valley

Mt. Dronagiri, Uttrakhand

Spiti Valley

Trekking in Himachal

 

Varshney shares an interesting tale from one of her travel adventures.  “While I was in Spiti Valley for two months, August-September, I decided to hike to Key Monastery which was about 14 km from Kaza. After walking for about 6 km, I witnessed a splendid view at the turn of a road. I remained frozen to that spot for almost two and a half hours. I was unaware of the curiosity I created among passers-by, until a couple passing by on a motorbike decided to halt. They too were on the way to Key Monastery. At first, they thought that I might be taking a break due to exhaustion, but they saw me sitting at the same spot while returning hence they stopped by and asked.  I burst out laughing and had no answer to their query! They even offered a ride back to Kaza but I was completely embarrassed by now.”

Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Prakriti Varshney

 

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

14 October 2017

Jageshwar Temple: An engineering marvel of 8th century

It’s never enough for the heart to just be able to travel, it seeks the will to do it. To be able to walk, run, fly, explore and discover!
And that is exactly what I felt as my cotraveller Kamlesh drove us amidst the dense forests of tall Deodars almost touching the clouds, amazing weather & majestic landscapes. Intrigued by the beauty around, I almost went into a trance, searching deep within myself. I was abruptly brought back as the car took a sharp curve and a huge architectural marvel appeared out of nowhere. The moment my eyes landed on the beautiful creation in front of my eyes, rain god Indra welcomed us with a loud, heart shaking clap of thunder. I was awestruck after looking at this majestic feat of design, but to my surprise, there was a sign board that said: ‘Temple ahead’. The thought that an even grander building lay ahead thrilled and elated me as I wondered about the magnificence of the main building.
We drove down the enticing curves of the valley for around 2 more km and emerged in a small village with tiny houses and shops. As we passed them all we found ourselves right in front of a marvellous wonder of medieval engineering.
The famous Hindu pilgrimage, Jageshwar is the 8th among the 12 Jyotirlingas which are stated to exist in the forest of Deodar and Daruka. It is believed that Lord Shiva resides there. The temple consists of 124 large and small stone temples dating from 8th to 13th century. Many of them are preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India. The oldest Shrine is Mrityunjaya Temple and while the biggest one is Dandeshwar temple.
The main temple has two Dwarpalas (door guardians) in the form of Nandi and Skandi. In the west facing temple of Lord Shiva, he is worshipped in the form of Nagesh or Jageshwar. While in the Santorum of the temple, the Shivalinga is divided into two parts – the larger one which depicts Shiva and the smaller one for his consort Parvati. An immortal flame (called akhand jyoti) burns in the temple that illuminates the whereabouts with its glow.
The huge mega structures of the temple amidst tall deodar trees are living proofs to our medieval engineering and the supremacy of nature in life.
Jageshwar is located at 1870 meters above sea level on the banks of Jataganga river and is around 35kms from Almora.

 

 

The Jageshwar monsoon festival takes place from 15th July to 15th Aug which is the month of ‘Shravan’ according to the Hindu calendar. The annual Mahashivratri mela
takes place during spring and is an important event for Hindus and the people of Kumaon region.
History says that the Katyuri kings donated villages to temple priests for better renovations, while the Chand kings of Kumaon were also the patrons of the temple. Two Ashtdhaatu statues of Chand Kings Deepchand and Tripalchand are established in the standing posture behind the Shivlinga. It is also believed that Adi Guru Shankaracharya visited Jageshwar and renovated as well as re-established many temples before leaving for Kedarnath.

Jageshwar is open for visitors throughout the year. One can make this soulful journey via roads as well rail. There are plenty of staying options at Jageshwar. One can easily stay in Almora and enjoy a scenic drive to visit the temple. Kathgodam, the next big city, is about 125 km from Jageshwar.

One must make a visit to Jageshwar even if devoid of religious sentiments for the sheer beauty and sublimity of the place.

Photos & Words by Amit Kakkar

 

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Blog | Travel

15 May 2017

Traveller of the Week : Akshay Dubey

Akshay Dubey, a full-time traveller and business head of Eccentric Outdoors adventure travel e-magazine is also a certified mountaineer from NIM Uttarkashi and a Limca Book of World Record holder. Dubey covered Mana Pass, Uttarakhand on a motorbike – which is the highest motorable pass in the world at 18399 ft in 2012 and well, broke records. He loves to travel on his motorbike or cycle and loves to explore the uncharted territories of India.

 

Akshay Dubey

 

In a conversation with us, Akshay recalls that he was not always like this. A major change in perspectives and approach to life was experienced by him during his trip to Ladakh as a college student back in 2008. He met many people from other walks of life and while interacting with them he built relationships, gained knowledge, and shared experiences that led him to feel an indispensable transmission of positive energy. He recalls this particular instance on the trip wherein he got drenched in the rain while on his way to Pangong Tso. He had no prior travel experience and was shivering badly. A Dhaba owner gave him shelter without charging him and that changed him. His faith in humanity was restored, despite the socio-economic differences in our country. Akshay and the Dhaba owner are very good friends now and still in touch. Every time he visits Ladakh, he makes sure that he pays his kind friend a visit.

 

Dubey prefers to travel solo as it helps him to push his limits. He feels that travelling is a medium to test your character and consistently push yourself to your limits so that you know yourself better. Last year in September, Akshay cycled 3700 km from Guwahati- Tawang-Shillong-Nagaland-Gangtok-Bhutan via Tiger Nest Monastery and Nepal.  It was one of his toughest journeys so far.

 

As a traveller by profession, Akshay travels almost every time. Yes, he faces problems in terms of food and inhospitable weather conditions but he thinks that these are all part and parcels of travelling. These problems make one strong and help fight the mundaneness of daily life. These help us find answers to those unsaid questions which never strike our preoccupied mind otherwise. Dubey feels that travelling is the best way to vent out stress, revive positivity and attain the meaning of life. Perhaps this is why he always plans his trip and does a lot of homework on destination, route and homestays. Rest, he says, is dealt with as it comes.

 

 

Having travelled to about 23 states in our country and Land of Thunder Dragon-Bhutan, Akshay expresses his utmost love for India as a travel destination. He mentions that it gives us the opportunity to explore the rich, diversified culture and teaches us multiple lessons on life, experiences on life beyond just four walls and how travelling can, indeed, change people’s lives. Akshay feels that everyone should travel because there is no greater learning in life than the lessons learnt while travelling. He feels that travel puts him in the right frame of mind to be generous, non-judgemental, appreciative of nature, and capable enough to handle adverse situations. According to him, travel heals us.

Akshay’s favourite five destinations are Ladakh/Spiti Valley, Munsiyari, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Lakshadweep. He says that the five things he never forgets to carry along on a trip are – a map, solar chargers, First aid kit, a flinter, and of course, his camera.
He applauds us for our good work. We hope we get to see him set many more records along with an example for the rest of us!

Words by Aishwarya Choudhary
Images by ©Akshay Dubey

 

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

25 February 2017

Munsiari: the unplumbed bliss by Sachin Chausali

The quote holds all the aesthetic essence of life. Nature has hidden doors for those who yearn to unleash. I started travelling at an early age, given as a present by my defense background which, soon became a hobby. I belong to Uttarakhand and hence love for mountains runs in the blood.  Also, I have a knack of capturing moments through my lenses and showcase it to the world out there. And when these interests united, they brought out the wanderer in me.

My thirst of travelling and capturing the serene beauty led me to the city Munsiari. Munsiari had been lying in my bucket list for a long time and as Christopher McCandless said, “If you want something in life, just reach out and grab it.” I grabbed the opportunity and ticked it off! But it turned out to be more than travelling. I met some of the humblest and welcoming people throughout my journey who helped me in my recce to this beautiful city.

Hidden amidst the clouds and alpine mufflers is the city of Munsiari, also known as “Himnagri” (Himalayan town ) by localites. Munsiari is the name of a small town, a Tehsil and Sub Division in Pithoragarh District, in the hill-state of Uttarakhand, India.

It lies at the base of the Great Himalayan mountain range, at an elevation of about 2,200 m (7,200 ft.) and is a base camp for various treks into the interior of the range.

 

 

HOW TO REACH:

You can reach the city by two ways from Delhi. You can either take a bus directly from Delhi for Pithoragarh or can travel by train/bus to the same via Haldwani. From Pithoragarh you can find any private transport or cabs for Munsiari.

 

View of Pithoragarh city from Chandak at Sunset

HOW I REACHED?

Albeit travelling on a very tight budget I made sure that the trip still would be as I had planned. I took a bus from Delhi to Pithoragarh at 5 pm, a journey of about 565 km and reached at 1 pm (18-hours journey). I stayed there for 2 days to get concrete information about my destination. On third day, I took a private cab for Munsiari. The 151 km journey was 5 hours long and tiring. But, the pure mountainous beauty accompanying you throughout the journey made those hours much picturesque. The best defined curvy roads that turn steeper along the way, giving an adrenaline rush to your body is simply unexplainable. In Munsiari, I stayed at the hotel ‘Bijlu Inn’ where I had booked a room before leaving from Delhi and relaxed before starting on my excursion next day.

 

मुनस्यारी लैन मा” – IN MUNSIARI LANES

On reaching Munsiyari after a 72 hour back-breaking journey with breath-taking views all along, Panchchuli peaks greet you invigoratingly. I had heard about the peaks from my family and how magnificent they were!!

Lost in my thoughts while staring at these peaks, I came to a halt only to realise that we had reached my hotel. I asked the hotel staff to enlighten me more about these peaks and they were happy enough to do so.

 

 

Panchachuli peaks are a group of five snow-capped Himalayan peaks touching the eastern kumaon region, Munsiyari. And the best part about them is these snow capped mountains are visible from all over the town but the breath-taking beauty can only be witnessed if on a high altitude. Panchchuli – ‘Panch’ means 5 & ‘chuli’ which means the cooking hearths. Mythology states that 5 brothers (The Pandavas) along with their wife Panchali cooked their last meal here before proceeding to the heavenly abode. But after interacting with the hotel staff I got to know that there are several other myths which say that the Pandavas and their wife came to this town via Badrinath. They believe that Lord Shiva (Hindu Mythological god) visited them in this town after which the brothers converted into the 5 high altitude mountains along with their wife who also got converted and stood still with her husbands. People say that the dvapara yug (stages or cycles of world described in Sanskrit scriptures) hasn’t completed yet, after the ongoing kaliyug, the last phase of dvapara yug will occur and the Pandavas will come back to their normal forms.

 

Panchachuli Ranges

 

Panchachuli – II

DAY 1.

“Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.” – Winston Churchill

I wanted to know Munsiari from the scratch, from its dirt to its mountains and the history behind every collection it held. So, on my first day there I started afresh by visiting the Tribal Heritage Museum, a 2 km journey from the city, where I met the founder of the museum, Mr. Sher Singh Pangtey. I interviewed Mr. Pangtey, a retired history professor, built the museum 16 years ago with his sole dedication and hard-work to preserve the culture.

Munsiari, as Pangtey elucidates, was a checkpoint to reach Tibet and Nepal. It was the main trade hub for all sorts of goods starting from rock salt, jaggery, cotton wool to aluminium to motorbikes. Tibet was the main benefiter and year after year the Indian- Tibet relationship grew stronger. East India Company had a major role in uplifting Munsiari as a trade market and saw ways to bring it to the limelight: 1. Education for kids 2. Road to Tibet for trade.

In 1962, when China invaded Tibet the borders were seized and the business of trade barred. So, the government of India provided the people of Munsiari with reservation quotas. This made them leave the city to live a modernized life. Upon realizing the emigrating population and culture loss, he took the initiative and efforts of collecting the artworks and what he thought was a diminishing reflection of their roots.

The museum has a collection of all sorts of jewelries, utensils, dresses and other souvenirs collected by Pangtey himself to preserve the culture. This 2 storied building constructed with ancient techniques has everything from flora and fauna to its history to dance, food and culture. Also, it contains more than 15 books about the town and its culture all written by Pangtey himself.  Nearly after 5 years of retirement and hard work the man was rewarded for his work throughout the nation.

This 2hour interview with Mr. Pangtey left me bewitched and Pangtey showed me around the museum himself. By the end of the day, I had so much respect for the man whose endeavor is highly laudable. After being fed with so much information I couldn’t contain my excitement for the next coming days and the places I was going to visit. My next stop would be Nanda Devi Temple but first I needed sleep.

 

DAY 2. NANDA DEVI TEMPLE

On my 2nd day there I decided to visit the very famous and most worshiped Goddess temple of Uttarakhand – Nanda Devi temple. Temple is about 2 km from the Munsiari town with scenic landscapes and mesmerising views on the hike to the temple. Luckily I found Mr. Dev Singh Papra, Ex Army person who now takes care of the temple.

On interacting with Mr Dev Singh Papra who is the pujari(Priest) there, I found out some really intriguing information about the place.

As the folklore says, in the 19th century a pujari (Hindu Priest), a devotee of goddess Bhagwati, on the eve of Radha Ashtami couldn’t visit the place, so the goddess asked him to make her a temple on the highest altitude possible.

It was in 1857 the pujari established Nanda devi temple in Munsiari with all the means he had. Back then; its structure and premises weren’t significantly built.

Later in 1944, an ITBP (Indian Tibet border police) soldier Bacchii Ram remodeled and reconstructed the temple. Eventually, the place became more popular.

Due to its scenic beauty and landscape the temple became more of a picnic spot and the negligence in maintenance demolished the pilgrimage.

It was in 2013 Mr. Papra took the responsibility, left his home and stayed in the temple and worshipped the goddess. Mr. Papra renovated the temple and its premises.

 

Residing in the lap of the mountains this temple had the prettiest view surrounded by lush green mountains behind, snow-capped ones beyond those and meadows and valleys all around, this structure basks in its full glory. The view was enough to have left me hung-over for a thousand days to come. I departed from the place and reached my hotel room at around  15:00 hrs and had lunch as the trek was exhausting.

 

Nanda Devi Temple

DAY 3. THAMRI KUND

So far so good! The past two days I stayed there I felt at home. With hardly any network available and detached from all the social media nuisance, I felt calm and loved it. After a good breakfast at the hotel I picked up my essentials and left, for I knew the day was going to be long and consuming. Like previous two days, I had my trip planned and agenda set already. I had decided to cover Thamri Kund and Bhirti fall for the day.

I left the hotel at 8 AM, shared a cab from the city and departed. The lake is located around 18 km away from where I was staying which is followed by another 6 km hike from Belati Band (a hanuman temple). I reached the lake at 11:30 AM.

Thamri Kund or Thamri Tal, is situated atop Himalayan city Munsiyari and daubed with alpine trees. Enveloped in layers of clouds, this lake is situated at about 7500ft above the sea level, it is almost magical for a lake to exist at such height. With plethora of cotton candy like clouds covering the lake you can see the Panchchuli peaks through them, like you’re watching them from a window.

There are several beliefs that say the Lake is the home of a Hindu Goddess and shouldn’t be littered, if done so the clouds overspread the whole city and rain heavily. It is also believed that a pair of swans keep the lake untainted and that people who have never been sinful in the past and performed good deeds are lucky enough to see them.

I took some pictures of the place and left for my hotel oblivious of the problem that laid ahead. On my way back I couldn’t find any vehicle or transport going back in the city so I decided on taking a different and small route towards the city by foot. I was back at the hotel by 2 pm when it started raining buckets and I had to work against my schedule and postpone my further plan for the next day.

 

 

Thamri Lake

Beautiful Scenic Views on trekking to thamri kund

DAY 4. BHIRTI FALL

The petrichor emanating from the earth and a chilly breeze accompanying it, I knew my day would be no less than exhilarating. This time I booked a cab to avoid the problem I faced the day before and also because this one was 22 km long journey. I started from the hotel at 10 AM and reached the destination by 11.15 AM.

This waterfall is a middle ground landmark for Pithoragarh and Munsiari. Located at an appalling height of 400 ft, it can be sighted and heard from a long distance.

The Kalamuni top which is the highest place in Munsiari and this waterfall is situated there. The waterfall eventually meets Gore-Ganga river.

I stayed here for some time, took some pictures and made time lapse and videos. On strolling near the waterfall I found a small tea stall where I had some tea and snacks before making my way back to the hotel.

 

©Sachin Chausali

DAY 5. MAHESHWAR KUND

On my last day in Munsiari, I decided to treat myself with another scenic view. So, I decided to visit another lake, Maheshwar Kund. Just like Thamri Kund, this small lake has beautiful landscapes. It lies on the route of Thamri Kund but 5 kms from the hotel and another 2 km hike from there.

Known as Maheshar Kund by locals, this place like every other; I visited in Munsiari has a crystal clear view of the Panchachuli peaks; a breath-taking picturesque.

I was back in my room by 1 pm and had a lot of time to spare so I decided to not spend it staying indoors but make the most of it. I drifted off to the Munsiari bazaar in the evening. There I had insightful conversations with few residents who told me that Munsiari is the base for Kailash Mansarovar. Also, it is the main route of Milan, Nilam and Ralam glaciers and all excursionists and trekkers follow the route. Moreover, Nanda devi and Nanda Devi Kot routes also include Munsiari. Also, that during winters this place receives 8 ft. snowfall every year and that is why people move to the valleys during winters and come back to their houses in summers.

After strolling through the streets for good 40 minutes I decide to head back to the hotel and rest for a while in peace, consuming the reality of a 6 day stay at a destination I always wanted to be at and finally ticking it off of my bucket list.

 

 

BEST TIME TO VISIT:

September – November is the perfect time to visit this heavenly abode. For all the adventure junkies out there lurking for adventure sports like paragliding, skiing and a relaxed vacation, Munsiari is just the place you want to be on your vacations.

 

 

NIRVANA ABODE

“pahaad aur pahaad -phir ghataatop”

Translation- “mountains behind mountains yet more mountains- then haze beyond”

This one haiku always tempts me to find more such places, discover them, know their stories and paint it out for the unknown world out there. It has been a terrific experience spending ample time at such a beautiful place and knowing the stories of people and places. And hence I rightfully call this as Nirvana abode. Let’s explore and evolve ourselves in these places!

 
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