Into a World of Freedom...

Thursday, 13 August 2015


Four years down the lane and the memories are still as fresh as the breeze over the sea.
My trip to Mangalore, a port city of Karnataka, was nothing short of amazing. It was my first beach holiday. Yes, this place has some of the best beaches of India, only less known. Not just beaches, it has the most beautiful temples and churches I have ever been to.

It was here that I welcomed my 2011. The weather was pleasant mostly. I stayed at NITK and the food offered in its mess was the real South Indian flavor, the one I don’t get to taste even in the best of the restaurants in Delhi. It surprises me to know that not many people count Mangalore as a tourist place. If you ask me, I’d say, it’s the most beautiful and unfortunately an underrated tourist place in India.

If you are planning to visit it someday, I can tell you about some of the places I visited and loved in this city:

Tropical Beach Paradise

NITK beach: NITK has a private beach at the shores of Arabian Sea. It is hard to explain that first sight of the vast, abysmal and boundless sea. The sound of gushing water and strong howling winds was very soothing. The beach has an old lighthouse, which gives the beach a very dramatic and filmy touch to it. There was hardly any tourist on this beach when I visited it. So those who like a little wild, deserted and virgin beaches, this is for you!

NITK Beach

Surathkal Beach: I am not sure, but I think it is just the extension of NITK beach or may be the other way round; however the waves here were very calm as compared to the NITK beach. The beach is beautiful, clean and has an amazing scenic view.

Surathkal Beach

Temples of South

The temples of south are different from what I see here in north. Everything from the architecture to the way they worship and clothes they wear, is different. I saw many of them wearing black while performing the Puja with the Lamps.

Kudroli Gokarnath temple: It is the biggest and the most beautiful temple I have ever been to. I visited it in the late evening hours and it looked nothing short of stunning with all its lighting effects. To me, it looked like a city of God or kingdom of heaven. Its architecture is magnificent and unbelievingly beautiful. You really have got to see it to believe it.

Kudroli Temple.--Image Source -

Kadri Manjunath Temple: It is one of the oldest temples of south. Build on the highest hill of Kadri hills in Mangalore. I still remember that fresh and sweet scent of sandalwood in its premises.
I also visited the infamous Mangladevi temple. Build in honour of the Hindu deity after which this city has been named.

Outside Krishna Temple

Chapels & Churches

I was planning on to seeing St. Aloysius Chapel, Milagres Church and Rosario Church. But due to short time, could only visit Milagres Church. I remember having visited it just two days post-Christmas, so the decorations were still fresh and I could reckon the grandeur of celebrations. Build in all white, it looked amazing. I mentioned it in one of my posts before, that it was here that I first witnessed a Christian wedding. It looked surreal, like something straight out of a Hollywood movie. It was beautiful. And so was the church.

Milagres Church, Mangalore


This city is just 60 Kms from Mangalore. I travelled by the local bus. Though the bus was not that comfortable, but the view you get to see on the way is worth the journey. Udipi is famous for its Krishna Temple and Malpe Beach.

The Shacks near Malpe Beach

Krishna temple is a divine shrine dedicated to Lord Krishna. When I was there, it was packed by hundreds of devotees. There is a tradition in this temple to worship God through a window with small holes. The complex is quite large and the architecture is spectacular. It was surely worth a visit.

The Magnificent Architecture , Krishna Temple.

Food served on Banana Leaves, inside Krishna Temple

Maple beach is the most beautiful among all the beaches I have seen so far in India. No wonder why it is called White Sand Paradise. It is unbelievably clean. The waves were not that strong so I would call it a much safer beach for kids to play in as compared to Surathkal. Flying kite on the beach was fun. There are some shacks nearby that serve good fish curry.  I tasted Tadi for the first time. It is a fruit that is used to make palm wine. The colorful huts build along the shore gives it a Fishing Village look.

White Sand Paradise- Malpe Beach, Udipi

Sunset at Maple Beach.

Near Malpe Beach

This beach with its amazing view of natural splendor and serenity around me made Mangalore trip one of my best vacations so far.

Note: All the photos in this post have been clicked by my dad, Harjeet Choudhary (unless mentioned otherwise).

Saturday, 16 May 2015


The dream of travelling the world one day is not an easy dream. It’s full of doubts, fears and second thoughts. Being at home and surrounded by people too busy with earning loads of money, buying big cars and houses, sometimes demotivates me.Travelling the world, having a different, less materialist life seems a distant, unrealistic and scary dream sometimes.

It is at times like these, that I find peace in reading the blogs and stories of like-minded people, of travelers and adventurers.
Not just this, but Travel shows too have been a great source of inspiration to me since the days I was just a kid and knew nothing about the world of travelers and nomads in real life.

Here are some of my favorite travel shows and hosts that keep my faith in my travelling dreams alive.

Street food around the world (National Geographic Channel)
I believe, the best way to experience a city, it people and culture is to visit its local market. And this is exactly what this show is based on. Ishai Golan, the host, is by far the most natural, care free and funniest host. He goes out on the streets, tries the local food, beverages and flavors. At times, it involves some fun talk with famous chefs, food experts, locals, expats or the street food vendors. What impresses me the most is the way he so minutely, delicately and passionately talks about all the spices and flavors and makes it is hard for the viewers to resist the dish. His hat, backpack and the scarf that gives him the hipster look just adds onto his charm. The show has its second season going on. And so far, the Mumbai, Istanbul, Bangkok and Paris are some of my favorite episodes.

Asia from above (Discovery Channel)
This is a new show. It explores the famous cities of Asia. Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, with just 3-4 episodes down the lane, and it’s already in my favorites.  To me, it looks like a version of ‘The world from above’, only with fewer aerial shots and more interactions with the locals and their lives. I personally like it more this way.

David Rocco’s Dolce India (Fox Traveller/ Fox Life)
He is one of the finest host on one of my favorite food and travel shows - Dolce India. he is an amazing chef. He combines ingredients and flavors of India and Italy to create medley of dishes. Blessed with culinary skills, he makes every dish look amazingly easy to cook. Usually dressed in simple jeans, a kurta and beaded strings around his neck, he has got a very pleasant personality. Mumbai, Amritsar and Delhi are among my favorite episodes. He recently was in Delhi, ITC hotels, to shoot for Season 2. I am just so excited for the new season.

Waterfront cities (Discover Channel)
Though not a new one, but it has been the most informative shows ever. Right from the unique history to the new developments of the city, this show covers it all. The amazing photography, breathtaking aerial views, interesting talks with the historians, developers, walk through the museums, studying the directions and maps all along, Heidi Hollinger, takes the viewers to the beautiful journey through various port cities. Copenhagen, Bangkok, Vancouver, Venice, Qatar, Stockholm,Honolulu, Hong Kong, Singapore, I have loved watching almost all of the episodes.

Don’t tell my Mother (National Geographic Channel)
This is an old show, and used to be among the best. But sadly its no new season is telecasted on TV now. Just like any other travel show, Diego Bunuel, the host, explores the countries, its people and culture. But the USP of this show is that he tours only the countries that make headline. He visits war torn regions, like, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Congo, where the life is not so easy and shows the beauty of the place and its people that lies beneath these wars/ terrorism. What amazes me is that with the sounds of gun shots in the background, amidst the fear of being killed, this man still manages to keep a smile and shoot the show.

Other popular travel, food and adventure shows that I like - This is Brazil, Et Street, Getaway, Life mein ek baar, Man Vs Wild, Dirty Jobs, Whats with Indian men, From Spain with love and Postcard Australia. Though most of these don’t have new seasons coming up anytime soon, I still like watching them on repeat.

Is there any travel show that you like watching or any travel host in particular whose job you envy? ;)
Please share it with me in the comments below.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


Who says zoos are just for kids!? I love visiting zoos. I have been to Delhi Zoo many times before, but this visit was very special. Before I tell why, let me tell you a bit about this place first.

Spread over 170 acre, its located near Purana Quila (old fort).Well, yes, I have this fort marked for my next visit. Delhi zoo is indeed huge. It gives you a feel of actually walking through the wild forest, only less scary. The entry ticket costed me mere Rs 40.

The zoo has maps inside to guide the visitors accordingly. Though it is best to tour on foot, the zoo also has battery operated trolley service for those who can’t walk for a long.

Initially, as always, all I could see were deer. Hog deer, sambhar deer, spotted deer, black bug, chinkara and what not. To be honest, it was getting a bit boring. But not after I saw what made me awestruck, a dancing peacock. Nope, it wasn’t raining. It was the first time I had seen one. Always heard of how beautiful they look, but never really had a chance to experience something like this.  And oh boy, was it beautiful? The dancing and shimmering feathers with shades of blues and greens was what made my day. Things like these make me feel so insignificant and marvel at the beauty of nature. It was beyond what words can describe.

If you can spot the peacock;)

Next, I got to see an African elephant, hippos, black bears, some monkeys, jackal, crocodile, giraffe. Oh, giraffe is a designer animal. I mean just look at him! Simply amazing! Does the word 'graffiti' has its genesis from 'giraffe'? Just asking!;)

The tall and the handsome

He was huge

As still as a stone

Seeing the dancing peacock was like a beginners’ luck. Because you got to have a lucky day to see what I saw next. Throughout my walk, I was looking for one animal in particular, the king of jungle!
And then what I saw could only be described through this pic -

Like a boss

Yes, there he was. Big and beautiful. With thick and dark mane. Siting like a boss in front of the den.
I gasped at his beauty, strength and power, for few minutes, and then bid adieu with a salute to the king!
As if this wasn't enough , I caught a glimpse of the jaguar, tiger and the white tiger, one of the only 250 left in the entire world. Just imagine that! Yes, the figure is heart breaking and disappointing.

Taking a power nap

Enjoying the pool in the heat

This white tiger made the headlines last year. Know why!?

Watching these big cats was indeed an awesome experience. 

Yes! we do need to stop it.

Whether a Zoo is an ethical way of keeping animals or not, is still a debatable topic for me. I won't be lying, though I had a great time, but seeing them caged hit me a little inside. On another thought, if the authorities promise or rather swear, to take good care of the animals, may be its the only way to show kids how beautiful these creatures are and to teach them the art of conservation and protection of endangered species.

What do you think!? Please comment below.   

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Immersed in Divine Bliss - Sacred Heart Cathedral Church & Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, CP

Mangalore, or the newly christened, Mangaluru. Situated 350 Kms from Bangalore, is one of the most under rated places I have ever been to. I went there with my parents to visit my brother who happened to be working there for a company. I wonder why it’s not among the famous tourist places of India, because it has quite a lot of potential to be one. As not many tourists visit it, the virgin beaches here have the most natural and untouched beauty about them, something that I think is hard to find even in Goa.
Then it has some of the biggest and amazing temples. The temples of south are different from what I see here in north. Everything from the architecture to the way they worship and clothes they wear, is different. They wear black.  The fragrance of sandalwood that used to fill the entire premises is still fresh in my memories. May be I will write about all this someday in a separate post.

Now coming to the thing that made me recall my stay in Mangalore – its Churches. It was here, that I first witnessed a Christian wedding. It looked surreal, like something straight out of a Hollywood movie. It was beautiful. And so was that church. I was wondering about the churches we have here in Delhi, when I planned my next visit to Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Church

Sacred Heart Cathedral:
It is one of the oldest and most important catholic churches, situated in Connaught Place. It is at walking distance from its nearest metro station-Patel Chowk.
Built in red and white the church looks picture perfect to me. Fir like trees on both the sides just adds on to its beauty. Outside the church is a small stall selling candles and some books. Inside, the stunning arches, pillars and vaulted roof are all painted in white.

Beautiful architecture surrounded by tress

As I was walking the isle along the long wooden benches on its sides, I saw a girl bent on her knees, elbows on the bench, head bowed and eyes closed; praying in silence. There was a strange sense of peace and satisfaction on her face that made me to stop for a moment and look at her. It’s magical how some places are a treat to eyes, some to soul but very few to both.

The Cross and the Christ; Inside the church

The interior is beautifully done. There is an artwork of the Christ among few others, a marble altar decorated with candles and flowers. Engulfed in peaceful silence, sweet fragrance and positive vibes, visit to this church left me with a calmer me.

The Altar and the Candles Decor inside

Rejuvenated by my visit here, I headed to my next stop, which is located just near the church.

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib:
Made of white marble and golden domes, this shrine was built in 17th century to mark the stay of 8th Guru of Sikhs, Guru Har Krishan. The fact that it is visited by thousands of devotees daily is evident from its newly constructed multi-level parking. This place is of great reverence not just for Sikhs but people of other religions too. The relaxing and soothing feel of the cool marble floor across my bare feet, especially in summers, is a pure bliss.

Made of White Marble and Gold Domes

It has a big holy pool inside the premises, called Sarovar, which is said to cure skin ailments and is home to some beautiful fish which are fun and colorful to watch.
The best thing that I find about Gurudwaras is that most of them have a kitchen that is open to everyone and serve meals, called Langar, throughout the day. They usually serve daal (mixed lentils), chapatti, vegetable and rice which are made at an unimaginably large scale so as to serve thousands of devotees, daily.  The food here is not just tasty but totally hygienic too.

The Sarovar (holy pool)

I spent my next hour just sitting by the sarovar, devouring on the kada prashad and listening to Gurbani Kirtan (Hymns). Even if you don’t totally understand its lyrics or meaning, its music takes you to another world.

Marble Walkways and Pillars

This visit to the church and the Gurudwara rekindled me mentally and left me spiritually at peace.

If you know about or have been to any such place that makes you travel to another world, forget all about your worries and clams you down, share it with me in the comments below.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Exploring the Lanes of Old Delhi - Chandni Chowk

“You got to experience Old Delhi once in your life to test your grit. Dirty, gritty, and bustling with colour and movement, experiencing Old Delhi is not for the faint hearted.”
-Andre Bolourchi from World Nomads

And I can’t agree less with him. It’s crowded, noisy, dirty and chaotic. Old Delhi has everything that usually puts me off and stops me from going to a place. But there is something about it that still attracts me. So when I thought of following my dream of travelling and taking the first step of breaking free from my fears, the first place that popped in my head was Chandni Chowk – Old Delhi.

Thanks to Delhi metro for such an easy connectivity to Chandni Chowk. I used the DMRC app in my phone to check on the routes and boarded the train around 11am.

Being born into a Sikh family, I have been to Chandni Chowk many times with my parents to visit Gurudwara Sis Ganj, which happens to be a very important historical shrine for us. But I have never visited this place alone.

Just as you step out from the station, you can see road side vendors selling off clothes, shouting and calling for attention, and people bargaining with them. There is just so much going on that I find this noisy and crowded lane from the station to the main road weirdly funny to watch.
Walking through those narrow lanes with some buildings that looked a century old, I realized that day that Old Delhi has its own charm, its own beauty.

A shot of the lanes from inside

I asked a rickshaw wala the way to my first destination –Digambar Jain Lal and Gauri Shankar Mandir.  On being told that it wasn’t too far, I started walking. Those bustling lanes were so full of life and colors that I couldn’t resist the thought of taking a shot from the top and started looking for some way to reach the terrace of a building. Most of the staircase doors were locked, except one. Much to my surprise, it was a library on the first floor, as silent as it could be. Away from the traffic noise, it seemed like a different world altogether.  But again to my dismay, the door to the terrace was locked. I was running out of time so promised myself of taking that shot some other time and hurried my way straight to the temple.

Digambar Jain Lal Temple

Digambar Jain Lal is the oldest temple of the Jain religion in the capital while Gauri Shankar is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Made of red stone and white marble both the temples stand together exemplifying beautiful art and excellent architecture.

As I was removing my shoes for the darshan of Gauri Shankar temple, a man in all white, wearing wooden slippers approached and told that the temple was about to be closed so I better hurry up. I could hear the bells and chanting of some mantras along with the claps. But when I reached there it was all silent and I could just catch a glimpse of the idols before the curtains were drawn. I almost felt like god was telling me “sorry kid, not today, I want you to visit me again someday.”
Both the temples close around 12 pm and then reopen around 4 pm. I am surely gonna visit them again one day.

The magnificent - Lal Qila (Red Fort)

Just opposite the temples, stands the great Red Fort. The massive flamboyant fort made of red sandstone symbolizes the power, royalty and glory of the Mughals.  Built in 16th century by Shah Jahan, a Mughal emperor, it served as a palace for Shahjahanabad city(former name of old delhi). It is an epitome of Mughal architecture, creativity, art and design on the walls and beautifully carved pillars.

I bought the entry tickets which were for just 20-30 rupees. Gardens inside are perfectly maintained and built according to the infamous Mughal design of ‘charbagh’, though I wondered why there was no water flowing inside. 

Souvenir Shops in Red fort

The main hall area of red fort, called Diwan-i-aam has a marble canopy and a dais where the emperor used to sit and hear grievances of people. It is now preserved inside a glass frame. 
There is a museum inside with paintings, farmaans, calligraphy, utensils, seals, fabrics and other objects of the Mughal era on display. 
A walk around the musem and reading all the history made me feel like I belonged to that era, and had witnessed all those revolts, had seen the army marching and riding on elephants and horses. Oh what an epic site it would have been...

I really lost track of time at the museum. Before heading back to home, I made a quick stop at the Gurudwara.

Beautiful pillar carvings inside Red Fort

It is built at the place where the ninth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was mercilessly beheaded in 1675 by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb when he refused to embrace Islam and fought for the Hindus’ right to practice their own religion.

Built in all sandstone with gold plated domes at its top, what surprises me most about this place is that it is totally at variance with its crowded and noisy surroundings.The moment I step inside its premises, a wave of peace and tranquility washes over me. There is something magical about it. It makes me forget about all my worries and fears.

And not to miss, the kada parshad (halwa) here is one to be devoured. It is a sacred sweet pudding served in gurudwara, made of flour and desi ghee.  Sitting on the gurudwara floor, with hot prashad in hands, especially against the chilly backdrop of winters, with the divine kirtan (sikhi hymns) going on, feels heavenly to me

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I had an option to visit Paranthewali gali which has parantha shops since 1870s and serve more then 100 kinds of paranthas which are fried in pure ghee. But decided to give it a skip this time and quickly grabbed a burger and fries to munch on from McDonalds.

I then has the most amazing jalebis made of old ghee from the old and famous ‘Jalebiwala’. Though a little high on calories, it’s my all time favorite sweet.
Natraj Dahi Bhalle Wala also happens to be an old shop to eat at if you want to try out Indian Chaat.

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Jama masjid. I really wanted to give it a visit but didnt have much time left. It is one of the oldest and most famous Delhi mosque built by Shahjahan in 1650s. Near this place is the infamous hotel - Karim's Hotel which has been serving world famous Mughlai Chicken and Seekh Kabab among other non veg dishes since 1913. But people say if you cant compromise even a bit on cleanliness and hygiene, then this place is not for you.

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Nai Sadak. This connects Chandni Chowk road to Chawri Bazar. It has a very big wholesale and retail market of books. I, being a book lover, wanted to visit it and buy some novels, which I heard, are sold for as cheap as 70-80 rupees.

One visit was not enough for me to explore this place. It definitely calls for another soon. Very soon.

If you have been to Old Delhi ever or to any other place with such historical touch to it, I would love to read your stories in the comments below.