Sunday, September 9, 2018

Palampur in Himachal Pradesh is a beautiful hill station with interesting things to see

Palampur in Himachal Pradesh may not be one of the most popular tourist destinations but this quaint hill station has quite a few interesting things to see.If you are in Dharamshala and have a day to spare, Palampur would be a great one day getaway. Palampur is well connected by Air, railways, and roads. The closest airport is in Dharamshala (which is well connected from Delhi), Amritsar airport is the next best
option. Palampur is well connected to all the major cities in Himachal Pradesh by train. Traveling by road is a good option as well…there are several state run buses that ply from all the major cities in Himachal Pradesh to Palampur. Hiring a car is also an option.

Some of the places that you may consider visiting in Palampur:

Andretta village, known as the artist's village, is around 13 km from Palampur town and is known for theatre, art, and pottery. This village came into being around the 1920s when Norah Richards who was a dramatist shifted from Lahore to Palampur. She started a drama school and played a major role in modern Punjabi theatre by staging a lot of plays with Punjabi themes. Her house is beautiful and was built using mud, bamboo, and slate and is still in good condition. Andretta was also home to artists like Sobha Singh and B.C Sanyal.  Sobha Singh's house has been partly converted into a museum and you can see some of his beautiful works displayed. Mansimran and his wife Mary Singh started the Andretta Pottery and Craft Society in 1983.

Tea Estates: Well know for various tea gardens, Palampur happens to be the tea capital of North India. Bundla tea etsate is about 200 years old and one of the most renowned tea estates of Palampur.

Baijnath temple: Is an ancient functional Shiva temple dating back to 1204 AD, it is around 17 km from Palampur. The architecture is beautiful and there are interesting sculptures on the walls of the temple. We could not get very get pictures because there was some festival going on and the temple was covered with bulbs.

Neugal Cafe: If you want to enjoy the view and take a coffee or snack break, Neugal cafe is just the place. It is in Palampur, you will require to pay a nominal entrance fee.

We managed to sight some birds but as such could not see many birds because we went to Palampur during monsoons. It is best to avoid Himachal Pradesh during July and August because of monsoons and landslides. But I must add that monsoons add a magic to the hills...the hills are so green and breathtakingly beautiful during monsoons.
Norah Richard's house in Andretta village

Artist Sobha Singh's house

Pottery studio Andretta

Tea estate in Palampur

Baijnath Temple Palampur
Work on the walls on the temple

Neugal cafe
View from Neugal cafe


Himalayan Bulbul

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Petra, the spectacular and extraordinary ancient city, is a must visit

Two km walk to Petra City
Petra - 'a rose-red city half as old as time'. (from John William Burgon's sonnet)

Petra (from Greek word Petros - Stone), known to its inhabitants as Raqmu, is listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the world (decided through 100 million votes in 2007).

Whether on any list or not, it stands out as a stupendous creation of a desert tribe called the Nabateans who lived there over two thousand years ago. It is located in the rocky deserts of southern Jordan. The Nabateans were trading nomads and established Petra as a trade hub.

A two km walk through the Siq, takes you to the city. The Siq is a natural sandstone gorge. You see a number of rock-cut structures as you move ahead like the Dijnn blocks that are the oldest structures in Petra. The Obelix Tomb and the Triclinium is also an interesting building. This memorable walk suddenly brings you to the Treasury or the Al-Khazana, seen first through a gap in the Siq. This is actually a masoleum but there was a belief that bandits kept their loot hidden in the urn at the top of this monument and hence the name treasury or khazana.

This grand place has so many more wonders to see - water harvesting system, the Royal Tombs, the Theatre, The Great Temple, the Monastery.... not a place to be missed.

These beautiful pictures are courtesy Soma.

Rocks of Petra from a distance

The Siq
Dijnn blocks

Obelisk-tomb and the Triclinium

Glimpse of the Treasury through the Siq
Al Khazana-the Treasury

Lower portion of the Treasury
Stone urn in the treasury building

Columns of Great Temple
Figure on rock

Open theatre
Paved-road, Petra

Royal tombs
Water trench for supply of water to city

Petra city, Jordon

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Beautiful historical structures from Gour in West Bengal India

Qadam Rasul Mosque, Gour, Malda
This post is in continuation to my earlier post on Gour a historical city in West Bengal houses some beautiful old monuments.

I am sharing some more beautiful historical structures from Gour.

Qadam Rasul Mosque : This beautiful structure dates back to 1531; the carvings on some of the bricks tells you how remarkable this structure must have looked in its prime. 
Entrance to the Qadam Rasul mosque

Carvings on the bricks
Ballal Bati in Gour is a recently excavated site. It was the palace of Ballal Sen during 1160-1179.

Remains of a wall which surrounded the palace
Water  body near Ballal Bati

Mango trees are in abundance in Malda
Monitor Lizard in Ballal Bati, going into hiding:)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gour a historical city in West Bengal houses some beautiful old monuments

Baradwari Mosque Gour
Gour, near Malda town, West Bengal is also referred to as Gauda and Lakhnauti. It's origin can be traced back to the Buddhist Pala Dynasty in Bengal that rose in the 7th century AD and ruled for four centuries.

Gour, however rose to prominence in the 11th century under the Hindu Sena Dynasty. Not much archaeological evidence exits of these times and today what we see in Gour dates back to post 1198 when Gour fell to Bakhtiyar Khilji and that was followed by the foundation of Muslim rule in north-west Bengal. The Muslim Sultan shifted his capital from Gour to Pandua in 1350.

How to reach Malda:
Malda is very well connected from Kolkata. Overnight trains and AC buses are easily available. Shatabdi express is another option from Kolkata to Malda.

Where to stay
There are quite a few hotels and tourist lodges in Malda town. You may check tripadvisor (

Both Gour (16 km south of Malda) and Pandua (15 km north of Malda) are places that you may want to visit if you like ancient architecture. We only did Gour during this trip. Even though quite a few monuments were not in their intact condition, I would say it was still worth the visit. A word of caution, Malda town is extremely congested. So if you are looking for a quiet stay in Malda...that may not be possible:) But the outskirts are beautiful and green…mango trees and water bodies are in abundance.

There are a couple more places in Gour, that we visited, I will post about those in my next post.

Baradwari Mosque  (AD 1526) , built by Sultan Nasrat Shah. It has 12 doors and therefore the name Baradwari.

Baradwari Mosque
Entrance to Baradwari Mosque

Firoz Minar (AD 1486-1489 ): Built by Saifuddin Firoz. The building is 25.60m high and the spiral staircase has 73 steps.

Banyan tree near Firoz Minar

Firoz Minar Gour

Salami Darwaza: (AD 1459-74) built by Barbak Shah. This was the main northern entrance to the fort of Gour.
Salami Darwaza carvings on the walls
Salami Darwaza, Gour

Salami Darwaza

Carvings on the wall, Salami Darwaza, Gour
More on Gour here: Beautiful historical structures from Gour in Malda India