Stok Kangri The Expedition — Day 12: Around Leh

With the trek completed, we had an extra day to spare which we decided to make use of in the best possible manner. Suhas and few others were interested in rafting while saloni, nutty and few others wanted to rest in the guest house after a long and hard trek.

Myself and Anshul decided to visit the local places in leh. The local sightseeing began with a visit to the Leh palace which was  just walking distance from the main market. We had to take a detour and go via a longer route due to a bollywood shooting. Passing via some narrow streets we reached the palace from the back side.

First look at Leh palace

The palace is in a ruined state now and ASI is working on renovating it. One can however get a birds eye view of leh town from top of the palace.

Birds eye view of leh

We first went to the gompa which is situated just below the palace. The gompa is pretty old and as other gompas around it contains paintings depicting the teachingsof buddha. There was also a small library which cotains the manuscripts which are used by the lamas. A couple of photos there and we headed to the palace

Paintings and sacred books

With nothing much to do in the palace we head back to the city and looked for options to reach thiskey monsatery. This is one of the major monstaries in leh and one not to be missed. We were looking for bus which would drop us at thiskey however the bus had already left. With not many options left we had to settle for a shared taxi which we took for a short distance. We were told we could get buses from the place where we would stop. A short wait and we soon hopped into a bus and headed to thiskey

Thiskey monastery is situated on top of a hill and the sun was hitting hard by the time we got there. To get to the monastery we had to again climb a whole lot of steps. Before we could begin the climb we took a few snaps from below and headed to a small gompa present at the base

Thiskey Monastery

Photography was prohibited inside and we looked around briefly. Soon it was time to climb and we proceeded one step at a time. The hot weather didnt help us either as we huffed and puffed our way up. A couple of short breathers along the way and we reached the top. There was already a huge crowd by the time we reached there.

There were statues of buddha’s guru and other dieties present. As usual there were paintings on the wall as it was in other monasteries. We played around with the exposure and other settings in the camera and took a few photos before moving to other parts of the monastery. The monastery is huge and contains various sections


As we toured the monastery we found other idols. Many of these idols resembled hindu gods n godesses. Clicking photos we contined the tour.

More idols

Towards the final part of the monastery visit we saw the huge idol of maitrey buddha. As per the description it took the craftsmen 3 yrs to finish the idol. The idol is simply amazing to look at. Taking photos from different angles we relaxed for a while. Our stomachs were already rumbling and we headed back to the main road in search of a resturant

Maitrey Buddha

Lunch was consumed at a resturant on the way down and we headed to the bus stop for our next destination Hemis Monastery

Hemis Monastery is one of the first monasteries in ladakh and is situated far away. With no buses to go we again had to settle for a cab. After negotiating with the driver we headed to the monastery. We took a deviation near shang and continued to the monastery. Suprisingly there were not many visitors. We were expecting to see something interesting in the monastery however we were disappointed as it was the same as other monastries. Some of the paintings were being restored back by the painters.


Headed back to the parking lot and came back to Leh thus completing a amazing trip. Evening was spent packing our stuff and after dinner it was time to hit the sack as we had a early morning flight to jammu

Snaps can be found here

Stok Kangri The expedition — Day 4: Pangong-Tso

Pangong lake is one of the largest lakes in ladakh. Covering a distance of over 300 kms the major portion of the lake lies in china. However there’s a vast amount of water present on the indian side as well.  The lake is 5 km (3.1 mi) wide at its broadest point. All together it covers 604 sq. km. During winter the lake freezes completely,

The lake is one of the popular destinations in ladakh and is a must do for any tourist in ladakh. The lake lies in a protected area and requires permit to visit it. Getting the permit is easy. One needs to submit their ID proof and Rs 220 at the office along with a form, wait for a while and the permit is granted.

As we had got the permit the day before itself, we started our journey to pangong. The lake is 130 kms from leh and takes about 5 hrs to reach. We had to reach the guest house as we had a briefing session and had to complete the formalities before starting the trek. An early morning start is essential if we need to return back the same day. One can also stay back for the night as pangong has few accomodations and return back the next day.

We passed through some amazing scenary and the roads took us to changla pass which is the second highest pass at 17586 feet.

Spectacular scenary and Changla Pass

Ice covered mountains greeted us as we neared changla pass. At such a high altitude breathing is difficult as air is thin and oxygen is not enough. With wind blowing it was difficult to stay out in the open for too long. A couple of snaps of changla and we headed off towards pangong

Ice clad mountains

There was more amazing scenery in store as we moved towards pangong. Cameras kept rolling as did the vehicle. The drive continued for few more hours and we saw a very small lake which we mistook to be pangong

Mountains and lakes

We reached the lake soon and were amazed by the size of the lake. It stretches as far as the eye can see. There are plenty of hotels at the bank for the hungry.

First look at pangong

Me and anshul went for a walk along the bank which stretches for quite a long way. There’s also a road which leads to the far end where a scene in the movie 3 idiots was shot. The lake has become famous once the movie came out and we even found a hotel named after movie.  Experimenting with light and shadows we tried various compositions while trying to cover the vast landscape.

Few shots of the lake

An hour of walking we reached the far side of the lake, the road also ends here and we could see the lake at its widest. More photos were clicked and when we were about to leave we found suhas, pradeep and bharani also coming the same way. Spending some time lazing the shore and few group shots we headed back to the car

Wide angle view

A short shower caught us unawares when coming back. Luckily we were close to the place where the car was parked, we rushed to the resturant and ordered our lunch. Due to the high crowd there, there was a delay in serving. Finally we bid adeiu to pangong at 1.30 and headed back to leh.

There was a briefing scheduled at 6 by bramha, me and anshul decided to go to the market to do some last min purchases, however that had to be postponed as we were asked to assemble in the courtyard for the breifing. After completing the formalities, we were given a short briefing about the trek and the main men who would be heading the trek, Tsering and Rajmohan Rawat were introduced to us.

After a Q&A round we headed to our rooms all excited to start the trek the next day.

Stok Kangri The Expedition –Day 3: Drive to Leh(Continued)

It was a slightly delayed start to the day and we first headed to the lamayaru monastery which is located top the hill and was only a couple of minutes from the guest house.

The lamayaru monastery is one of the older monasteries in ladakh. This monastery is one of the attractions on the way to leh, however it is in ruins. The monastery is atop a hill. Except for couple of  paintings there’s nothing else left in the monastery.

Lamayaru Monastery and paintings

Photography is prohibited inside the monastery. A few snaps of the exterior and we headed out. The smooth tarmac made driving fun and me and anshul were busy taking photos from the car.

Smooth Tarmac

While passing lamayaru we touch likhir and alchi which house some important monasteries. We decided to cover them along with basgo palace which also contains a gompa. The palace however is in ruins.

The scenary changed dramatically as we proceeded higher up. More barren mountains came into view and we could see dramatic scenary all around us. We were infact joking we had landed on a different planet owing to the change in scenary around us.

Dramatic Scenary

Alchi monastery was next to be visited and we reached there shortly. There was a big market selling items on the way to the monastery. The monstary is much inside and is made up of several small temples. Outside each of them there are boards indicating no photography is prohibited inside the sanctum sanctorum.

Here too as in other monasteries we found paintings on the walls which i found to be almost same. This must be due to my lack of knowledge about buddhism.

Alchi Monastery

One common item present in all monasteries are prayer wheels lined up which are spun. Inside the wheels there lies a paper which contains sacred mantras. The prayer bells vary in size and this is present outside.

Prayer Bells

Entry to the monastery costs Rs 20 per head which was paid. There are different figures of buddha and his teachers present inside. Since photography was prohibited we just saw the statues and took a couple of snaps from the outside and headed back to the cab.

The next stop was likhir monstary which is a different from lamayaru. There is a big buddha statue outside the monastery.

Likhir Monastery Front and Back view

We could take photos within the monastery as opposed to lamayaru and we made use of it by clicking a few and trying some different angles of clicking the buddha statue. Spending some time in the monastery we moved out before to the next destination as the sun was hitting down hard and we had to cover a lot of distance before we reached leh

Buddha Statue at Lihkir Monastary

The never ending wide roads with the horizon made a picture perfect snap which I found it hard to resist. A few group snaps and couple of snaps of the road and we were cruising along to basgo palace

Road to paradise

Basgo Palace was next to be visited and we reached there shortly. The complex contains a gompa which is still standing, however the palace itself is in ruins. This is one of the oldest monasteries in ladakh and was built in 1680.

Basgo Palace

There are other monasteries along the way however dorji told us it would be late by the time we reach leh if we try to cover all the monastaries. In order to make up time we decided to skip the remaining places. However we stopped at nimmu to see the confluence of indus and zanskar rivers which is also called “The Confluence at Nimmu”.

The confluence

Magnetic hill is another popular attraction on the way. The hill has magnetic properties which pull the vehicles downwards when placed at the specified location. This is a mystery as no one knows how it happens. We too placed our vehicle at the designated place and saw it move downwards on its own without any input from the driver.

Magnetic Hill

With the major places covered we were all set to reach Leh. Passing the Pathar Sahib Gurudwara we continued onwards and reached leh by noon.

We had decided to visit pangong lake which is a 130 kms from leh the next day. This is one of the very popular lakes in ladakh and a must visit for anyone who’s in ladakh. Since the lake lies in protected area permits are required to go there. Dorji knew the place where we could get the permits, hence we immediately headed there.  A couple of photo copies of our license/pan card etc and waiting for an hour or so we managed to get the permits.  With the permits obtained, it was then time to hunt for the accomodation. Indiahikes had booked accomodation at shanti guest house which is very close to shanti stupa.

Checking into the guest house, we were alloted rooms and after freshening up, we headed towards shanti stupa which is one of main stupa’s in leh and the most visible landmark.

The stupa is present atop a hill. One can either drive all the way to the top or climb the stairs and reach the top. Me, anshul and suhas decided to climb the stairs as we would get used to the demands of trekking which would start in couple of days. We got a very good view of Stok Kangri while climbing and we were busy discussing about the trek.

View of Stok and Leh

A couple of breaks and we reached the top. The shanti stupa is one of the biggest landmarks in leh and the design resembles the peace pagoda in darjeeling. The stupa is pretty big and attracts a lot of visitors. The stupa is present atop a hill in chanspa overlooking the leh market. The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama himself.

Shanti Stupa

Spending some time atop the stupa while admiring the architecture and discussing about stok and the upcoming trek we headed back to the guest house. While in the guest house we met nutty, saloni and saish. A short discussion with them and it was off to our room as dorji had said he would pick us up at 6 the next day for the long drive to pangong.

Stok Kangri The expedition — Day 2: The drive to LEH

It was an early morning start as Dorji the driver had arrived at the hotel at 6 as per schedule. We settled the bill with the hotel management and loaded our backpacks and got ready for the long drive to leh. A customary group shot and we were off.

All set to LEH(From L to R – Anshul, Suhas, Pradeep, Bharani and Me)

Traversing through the empty streets of sringar which would come alive in couple of hours we proceeded towards sonmarg another popular tourist spot in srinagar. An hour’s drive with a few photos of the lush green mountains enroute took us to sonmarg where we stopped for breakfast. Dorji asked us to pack anything if required as we wont be getting anything on the way.

Sonmarg and lush green mountains

Spending about half hour or we continued onwards. The scenery improved as we moved and me and anshul who had SLR cameras were busy with various compositions as the journey continued.

The roads uphill were narrow and the border roads organization (BRO) in charge of maintaining the roads in the mountains were busy with some road widening work. Naturally when any work goes on there are going to be traffic jams. We were stuck in one such jam for a short while and this gave us an oppurtunity to click a few snaps of the distant mountains while waiting for the jam to clear.

Distant Mountains and Traffic Jams

It was smooth sailing once the jam cleared and we were goin at a good speed. A couple of hours of travel and we reached Drass which is supposed to be the second coldest inhabited place on earth for lunch.


After lunch we were given the option of having namkeen chai which was supposed to be a cure of acidity and headaches. As this was new to us we decided to give it a try and though it was tasting a bit odd we enjoyed the taste. Soon it was time to move and we were off.  Another couple of hrs and we reached kargil the place where the kargil war was fought in 1999. There is a war memorial dedicated to the brave soldiers who laid down their lives to protect the country.

Kargil War Memorial

The war memorial set in the backdrop of tiger hill and tololing which were captured by the pakistan army and was taken back later by the brave jawans. A soldier was explaining about the war and the significance of the hills present. There is also a huge flag which has the indian tri-color hoisted and the names of the brave soldiers who had died during the war

Flag and names of the martyrs




There is also a museum which has scale models of the key points of the mountains and photos of the battle.

Kargil war museum

There were huge no of bikers from karnataka who had stopped by at the memorial. Many of them were doin the leh-srinagar route this year after completing the delhi-chandrigarh-manali-leh route last year. A couple of exchanges with them and we moved on.

Before leaving for the trip, I had asked few of my friends who had been to ladakh and also searched on the net regarding the stay options enroute as it would take us couple of days to reach leh, Many of my friends had recommended lamayaru which is 100 kms from kargil as the place to stay.  There is not much to do in kargil and also it would take a lot of time to reach leh in case we stayed at kargil. Those who commute by buses stay in kargil as buses tend to break their journey here before continuing to leh the next day.

It was agreed we would be staying at lamayaru and since we had enough time we headed there after completing our visit at the kargil war memorial. The drive continued and we soon passed mulbek which houses a large stone cut statue of maitrey buddha. Since this is one of the major attractions on the way, we stopped briefly.

Maitrey at Mulbek

There were already a sizable no of visitors there by the time we arrived. We didnt spend much time there as dorji we needed to go to lamayaru soon. A couple of snaps of the country side and we headed to our final destination lamayaru

Scenary outside Mulbek

It was sundown by the time we reached lamayaru. After searching for a while we found a guest house where we dumped our luggage and went out for a walk. Soon it was time to hit the couch after dinner as we had another long day of driving the next day

Stok Kangri The expedition– Day 1: Touchdown at srinagar

Stok Kangri present in Hemis national park in ladakh is one the highest peaks in the stok range. Towering at 6,153m or 20, 182 feet stok kangri is one of the highest trekkable peaks in the region and this was chosen for this years trek.

When indiahikes announced the trek I immediately registered for it. Saloni, Suhas and Nutty with whom I had done roopkund last year also registered for the trek. We had planned to do this trek last year itself when we were discussing our options for the next trek in the himalayas after finishing roopkund.

With the bookings done, we got a mail from indiahikes regarding the travel plans and a chain mail started with various people pitching in with their travel plans. After a long mail thread, and few calls, me, suhas, anshul, bharani and pradeep who were are from bangalore decided to meet up in srinagar.

Tickets were booked by suhas for me, himself and anshul and I booked the accomodation at YHAI srinagar for the 5 of us and we met up at the airport on 8th morning. Pradeep and Bharani had already reached srinagar and had checked into the hotel. We reached srinagar by noon and reached the hotel in an hour or so. After checking in and freshening up we decided to head out for a tour of srinagar.

First to visit was the famous DAL lake which was just a couple of kms from the hotel. The lake is one of the major tourist attractions and the best way to see the lake is to take the shikara a small boat which is used by the locals to ferry people across the lake. There are houseboats lined across the lake which one can rent for a night or for longer stays depending on the duration. The rent for the houseboats starts from 3000 and goes upwards depending on the boat size and other factors such as rooms etc

Dal Lake and Shikara

We took a shikara for an hour and half after negotiating the price with the person. We could see various shaped houseboats and named after various places. The shikaras are the main source of transportation on the dal lake and during winter when the lake freezes people walk over it and even play cricket and even ride cycles on it.

Houseboats on the lake

As we went ahead the lake widened and we soon reached a small garden admist the lake where we took a short break and couple of snaps before getting back to the boat.

Wider view of Dal Lake

As our ride continued towards the inner parts of the lake we were shown the floating market which happens every morning. People who are living on the lake each day get their wares to sell and others can buy the same. People living on the house boats can also participate. As we rowed we could see different kinds of shops selling kashmir shawls, dry fruits etc.

Floating Markets

We could see quite a lot of grass present on the surface and upon asking we were told the grass is cultivated here and is harvested and sold in town. We even happened to see a huge grass cutting machine which went about doing its job. Upon asking how much it would cost to build the houseboat, we were told it costs anywhere between few lakhs to a crore and it takes more than a year to build a houseboat. Soon our ride was finished and we came back to dry land after paying the shikara owner.

As Srinagar is popular tourist spot local transport can get pretty pricey for tourists as the cab and autorickshaw drivers can charge exhorbitant prices and one needs to bargain with them to get the prices in our favour.

Srinagar has quite a few gardens and we visited the famous ones such as a mughal and nishant gardens. We stuck a deal with a autodriver to cover shankracharya temple, Shalimar and nishant gardens, hazartabal shrine, nagin lake and old city before dropping us back to the hotel.

Our first point of interest was the shankaracharya temple situated atop the hill. We had to pass a check post where we were asked if we had any cigarrates, or plastics etc in our bags. One needs to go empty handed to the temple as we need to keep our cameras, bags etc in the vechile before leaving to the temple. After a mandatory frisking at the entrance we climbed up the steps and reached the shirne. We could see people going up and coming down while chanting prayers. We reached the top pretty soon and went to the temple.

Spending some time at the temple we headed back to the auto and proceeded towards mughal gardens while stopping a brief while to take a few shots of Srinagar from the top

View of Srinagar

The next place in our list was the Shalimar garden which is one of the popular gardens in srinagar. This along with nishat and Chashm-e-shahi make up the mughal gardens which is a must visit for any one visiting srinagar.

Purchasing tickets we entered the shalimar garden. The garden has variety of flowers and with the backdrop of hills it looks very pretty,

Shalimar Garden

The long fountains with continous flowing water give the garden a smoothing feeling. However the weather wasnt ideal for us to enjoy the garden as the sun was beating down on us and we soon exited the complex after taking a few photos.

We then proceeded towards nishat bagh which is located a short distance from the shalimar gardens. The nishat bagh is constructed differently when compared to shalimar garden.

There is a huge fountain complex and small waterfalls dotting the garden. The garden is again set in the mountain backdrop. As usual the sun was still high up and the temperature was soaring thus preventing us from enjoying the garden, A couple of shots and we headed out

Nishat Bagh

Hazartbal mosque which is one of the popular mosques in srinagar was the next destination to be visited. It was already evening by the time we visited the mosque.

Hazratbal Shrine

A short tour of the outer portion of the mosque and we went out of the complex and to the auto.

Nagin lake was the second lake to be visited. This lake is smaller compared to dal lake. We found many houseboats here too and as it was evening it was less crowded compared to dal lake. As the light was fading we couldnt do much and we headed to the last destination, the old city where we did some shopping before heading back to the hotel

Sunset @ nagin lake

We met bharani and pradeep at the hotel and discussed the places to see on the way to leh and possible accmodation options in lamayuru and headed back to our room, as we had a long drive to leh the next day and we had to leave early by 6 the next day


NE-GQ Tour: Agra: Day 2 — Wah Taj

A trip to the Golden Quadrilateral is not complete without paying a visit to the Taj, the monument of love built by Shah Jahan for his wife mumtaz.

A chilly morning welcomed us as we prepared to visit the taj mahal. The guide had come to along with the driver and we set of. Tickets were purchased and since the place is considered sacred, shoes are not allowed inside. Rs 20 etc will get us white covers which can be worn on top of the shoes when we enter inside the taj mahal. The south entrance was a km from where we had parked the car and it was nice walking in the chilly morning. The sun was just rising and the entire place was covered in mist giving the place a mystical feel.

Early Morning Sunrise

The taj is present just beyond the main entrance. The guide explained about the gate, the inscriptions on the walls are from the holy kuran. There are 16 mini domes each representing one year of completion. It had taken the workers 16 years to build the monument.

Entrance to the Taj

The sun which was visible briefly was again covered by clouds. The entire place looked like it was covered in a white sheet. Only the dome of the taj was visible. There were already a few people present there and everyone were admiring the place of nature

Taj covered in mist

We waited for a while for the mist to clear, which didnt happen. The guide in the meantime was explaining about the marble being used to build.  He also mentioned that the taj is symmetrical from all sides. The marble used to build the taj has come from various places.

With the mist still not clearing, we took a walk around the taj. The other two buildings, the mosque and the guesthouse built on the opposite sites of the taj were also covered in mist.

Misty buildings

The guide then took us inside the taj where shah jahan and mumtaz are buried. The actual graves are present deep within the mausoleum where the public is not allowed entry. A pair of fake graves are present on top which the public can see. The inside of the tomb is covered in the same marble and has the holy quran engraved on them. Since photography is not allowed inside, no photos could be taken. A tour inside and we went to the other sections. A couple of snaps of the engravings and we were out of the complex, hoping for the mist would be cleared so we could see the taj in all its glory

Engravings inside the taj

The mist was beginning to clear and we could see the taj and other buildings fully. We waited for some more time for the mist to fully clear. Finally we could see the Taj in all its glory. As the place was getting crowded, we went to the back to take a few snaps

Mist free monuments

Back view of the Taj

It was time to head back to the front and we could see the crowd had gotten bigger. With more and more people posing getting a clear picture was tricky, also we had to go back as we had another 4-5 hr drive to jaipur after visiting fathepur sikhri.

A few more snaps of the monument and we left the place bidding goodbye to the monument of love.


A hot cuppa and we went back to the car and to the hotel to pick up our stuff. The next destination we headed was the deserted city of Fathehpur  Sikhri.

Lying some 40 kms from Agra is the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, the short lived capital of Akbar. Legend has it that Akbar visited Sikri to consult the Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti, who predicted the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne. When the prophecy came true, Akbar built his new capital here.

The city contains many the summer and winter palaces built for Jodha Bhai.

Summer and Winter Palaces

Apart from the palaces for the queen , the fortified city also contains the panch mahal a 5 storied building for the king and queen to enjoy. There are also a pillar which has all the religions engraved in the Diwan i Khas also called the Hall of Private Audience where the king used to have secret meetings with his advisors

Panch Mahal and Diwan i Khas

One Pillar for all Religions

We completed the tour and headed to Buland Darwaza which is the highest  gate in Asia. This is also the entrance to Sikhri which has the mortal remains of Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti.

Buland Darwaza and Dargha Salim Chisthi

There is a general belief that if you pray in the dargha all your wishes will be fulfilled. One needs to tie a chord inside a dargha and put a holy cloth on the coffin.  Since the guide who had come with us had told us so much about this me and my wife decided to go ahead with it.

The size of the cloth varies from a small to large which will cover the entire coffin. When we asked for the smallest sized cloth the maulah charged us Rs 2000. The price varies depending on the size of the cloth one selects.  Hearing the price I was shocked at the price and refused to pay, as the place is a considered sacred and I hadnt expected people to hoodwink tourists by selling these sort of things for such high prices. The guide again tried to convince us to buy the cloth saying all our wishes would come true for which I again refused. We just went inside the dargha to pay our respects to the saints and headed out.

With the tour of the deserted city complete, we headed back to the car and started the drive to jaipur. A short break for lunch and we continued our drive. Reached jaipur by evening and checked into the hotel.

NE-GQ Tour: Agra: Day 1 — Agra Fort

It would be an early start as we had a long drive to agra.  After breakfast we hit the road. Passing through the early morning traffic we were cruising along. As usual I asked the driver if there was any places on the way, the driver told me Mathura the birth place of Lord Krishna could be covered if possible.  The temple at mathura would close by 1 pm and if we were to go to the temple, we need to be there atleast an hour before. He also told us it would be a deviation from the normal route and we need to be in agra by 2 if we have to see the agra fort which is quite big and would take time to see. Also the fort would close at 5.30.

With so many variables to consider we decided to continue on the same route and depending on traffic, we would head to mathura if time permits. Heavy traffic on the highway meant slow progress and we had to skip mathura. Needless to say my wife was unhappy.

A short stop for verifying permits at UP border and we were cruising along. Reached the hotel around 2.30. The driver told us he would come to pick us up at 4 to go for the agra fort. Relaxed for an hour and got ready to go to the fort.

Apart from the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort is another tourist attraction in Agra.

Agra Fort

The fort is built along the yamuna river and stretches almost 2.5 km. It consists of a wall built in red sandstone and several buildings inside. Visitors are welcomed by a huge entrance. Walking through the large passageway one can see a entrance to the Jahangiri palace on the right.

Jahangiri Palace Entrance

The interior of the fort has huge palace and other buildings present within it. As with the passageway the courtyard of the palace is also huge. The palace contains multiple levels which can be accessed via small but steep steps. One needs to be careful while climbing the steps as there is no electricity.

Huge Corridors

Apart from the huge courtyard, there are other buildings like Khas Mahal which is made of white marble,  Moti Masjid. There is also a big garden in front of Khas Mahal which can be used by the tourists.

Khas Mahal with other buildings

One can see the back view of the  Taj Mahal from the top of Jahangiri Palace.The inside of the palace contains a large garden which is well maintained.

Taj Mahal

Few monuments are however in a dilapidated state. A couple of rounds inside the fort to ensure that we havent missed any part of the fort and the palaces, we exited the fort through the huge exit

Fort Exit

It took us couple of hours to cover the entire fort. It was sundown by the time we exited the fort. We headed to the hotel. An early visit to the Taj Mahal was scheduled the next day

NE-GQ Tour: Delhi — Day 2: Temples, Memorials and Tombs — Part 2

The driver had told us he would be coming late as there were less places to cover the second day. A relaxed start saw us head to humayun’s tomb first. Though this was not in the iternary , I had asked the driver to take us to the place. A couple of schools had taken the kids for a sightseeing tour, and as usual there was a huge rush.

Humayun’s tomb is one of the important tourist attraction for people visiting delhi. The monument was built in the memory of humayun. This is one of the first garden tomb made in India. This is one of the finest mughal architectures in the country.

The entry to the Humayun’s Tomb is through a long axial processional track. On the way, there are gateways, which offer a glimpse of the tomb. The tomb is octagonal in shape and placed over a platform with colonnades, under which there are numerous graves of lesser known people and can be ascribed to various nobles and workers of Humayun’s period. A great central chamber has four offsets, double storeyed in height and with arcade on their facades. Their openings closed with perforated screens. Three emphatic arches dominate each side, the central one being the highest. The central room contains the cenotaph of the emperor Humayun. and his queen Bega begum. The tomb is crowned by 42.5 m high colossal double dome.

Way to Humayun’s Tomb

Passing through the long corridor one can see the huge entrance to the tomb

Entrance to the tomb

Renovation work is going on to restore the tomb to its former glory.

Humayun’s Tomb

One can see a clear view of Jama Masjid and Qutab Minar. A bird’s eye view from the roof would show you many ruined tombs and ancient structures belonging to various nobles.With the sun beating down, we spent some time at the top taking photos before goin down

Humayun’s Tomb another view

The front entrance to the tomb was crowded with people, however the back side was relatively empty. A short walk around the tomb, a couple of photos and we went back.

Humayun’s Tomb in Monochrome

Back Portion of the tomb

The next destination we headed to was the Red Fort which is another world heritage site. Though I had visited it during our stopover in june. The heat and our heavy rucksacks meant we couldnt get to see the inside of the fort.

Red Fort

Tickets cost Rs 25 which includes a visiting the museum as well which is present inside the fort. Passing through the mandatory security checks we headed inside the fort. I was suprised to see a busy market place inside the fort. One can purchase various items for reasonable prices.

Market inside the fort

Passing through the market area we reached the main complex which contains Moti Majsid, Zafar Mahal etc

Map of Red Fort Complex

The moti majsid , mumtaz mahal amd khas mahal are all adjacent to each other. We went about visiting each monument and clicking a few snaps. Renovation work is going on for a few buildings.

With a large no of tourists present we couldnt spend much time at the complex. Snapping a few pics of the monuments we made our way to the museum which has some the weapons and armored clothing used by the mughals and photos of the World Wars.

Monuments within Red Fort

The museum houses an impressive collection of weapons, clothing and other items from the mughal era. It also has a photo of various medals and a miniature naval fleet used in world war. One can see how the weapons used by the mughals to fight.


It was time to head back after completing the red fort tour. The driver then took us to akshardham. After the terror strike, security has been beefed up at the place and as usual no camera and mobile phones are allowed. Lot of security personnel are present around the place. Passing through the mandatory checks we went inside the temple. The entire temple and the surroundings can take a couple of hours to visit.

The garden has statues of Rama, Sita , warriors like Maharana Pratap, visionaries such as Aryabhatta amongst others. The huge temple has idols of Rama and Sita, Hanuman are present. The interior of the temple is made out of pure marble. The other attractions of the complex are three exhibition halls spaced around two huge ponds, where one is a venue for light-and-sound show. The three halls are “Sahajanand Darshan”, “Neelkanth Darsdhan” and “Sanskruti Vihar”. “Sahajanand Darshan” is where life of Swaminarayan is displayed through robotic shows, while “Neelkanth Darsdhan” has a huge I-Max theatre screening movie based on the life of the Lord. Another amazing presentation is “Sanskruti Vihar” with 12-minute boat ride experience of India’s glorious heritage.

Couple of hours were spent exploring the temple after which we broke for lunch at the food court present within the temple premises before exiting.

No visit to delhi is complete without paying a visit to Rajghat. This would be the last place to visit as we would be driving to agra the next day. Paying our respects to gandhi we went back to the hotel concluding a wonderful time in delhi

NE-GQ Tour: Delhi — Day 1: Temples, Memorials and Tombs — Part 1

With the north east completed we headed to delhi for the next leg of our tour. The kingfisher flight I had booked was rescheduled for an early departure. Checked with the kingfisher office only to find that the flight had been rescheduled for afternoon. I had asked the office people to intimate me if the flight had got rescheduled again, ,which luckily didnt happen.

A 5 hr flight saw us land in delhi around 8 at night. An hours drive in traffic and we were at the hotel.  The golden quadrilateral leg of our tour would begin the next day.  Since we had an entire day, I had asked the driver to come a little late. We started with a short stop at saravana bhavan for breakfast before heading of to lakshminarayan temple.

Lakshminarayan or the birla temple as it is called is dedicated to goddess lakshmi. The construction of the temple was started in 1933 and completed in 1939. The temple was built by Baldeo Das Birla of Birla family and hence it is known as Birla temple. The maintainence of the temple is done by the birla family

Lakshminarayan temple

The main shrine is dedicated to lakshmi and narayan. There are also smaller shrines dedicated to hanuman, ganesha and shiva and buddha. Due to security concerns cameras and mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple. One need to deposit them in the safety lockers present in the entrance before going to the temple.

Spending sometime at the temple visiting the shrines we then headed to India Gate. A big crowd was already present by the time we went there. During my roopkund trek, we had a day to roam around delhi, however due to the heat we could just visit Red Fort and Qutub Minar. Now with the weather being favorable, and having more time we could cover all the important tourist places.

First Look at India Gate

India Gate is constructed as a memorial and was built in the memory of 90,00 soldiers who laid down their lives during world war I. It was constructed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and was built in 1931. The monument also contains the Amar Jawan Jyoti or the flame of the immortal warrior.

There were photographers present there offering to take photos from various angles for a fee. We went closer to the gate and took a few more snaps. As this is one of the important landmarks and monuments, tight security is present around it.

India Gate

We spent some time at the gate before going back to the car. A quick look at the parliament house and a stop for a few minutes in front of rashtrapathi bhavan for a couple of snaps we were of to the next location

Rasthrapathi Bhavan

The next place we visited was Indira Gandhi Memorial.

Indira Gandhi Memorial

The place is a museum housing countless photos and things of  Indira Gandhi. The museum provides a insight into the life of the late prime minister. One can see photos of her in various avatars. Honarary titles and medals awarded to her are also some of her achievements and failures. The museum built within Indira Gandhi’s house also has a section dedicated to Rajiv Gandhi.  The place also contains the spot where Ms Gandhi was assassinated by her bodygaurds.

The memorial is a worth a visit as one can get an glimpse into the life of Indira Gandhi.

Inside the Indira Gandhi Memorial

Indira Gandhi Memorial

Qutub minar the world heritage site was next in the iternary. As expected there was a huge crowd to see the monument built by Qutb-ud-din Aibak.This is one of the largest minarets in India.

Qutub Minar

The place was like an oven when I visited in june. The cooler weather made the visit this time more enjoyable. The place was given a major makeover and huge photos of other world heritage sites were put on display. A quick glance at the photos and we were off to see the minar.  There was a guide explaining the history to a group of foreigners and we spent a couple of minutes listening to it before moving on.  While my wife was looking around the complex I could experiment by taking photos from various angles.

Qutub Minar in various angles



The qutub minar complex also contains the tomb of illtumush.Spending some more time at the complex we went back.


It was already afternoon by the time we came out of qutub minar. The driver then took us to Delhi Haat an authorized govt handicraft ans cloth showroom. There are various handicrafts displayed there. Quills, sarees and other clothes are also present at the same place. Since the place is run by govt, prices are fixed and bargaining is not possible.

Couple of hours were spent shopping there and we broke for lunch.

Post lunch we visited lotus mahal which is a Bahai House of worship.The building is built in the shape of a lotus as the bahai believe the lotus symbolizes purity. The building is a meditation chamber.

Lotus Mahal

The walls of the building contains the teachings of bahai. There’s  also a pond surrounding the building


As the place is a meditation place one needs to maintain slience inside. Groups are formed by the people standing outside and they are let inside the building. We spent sometime meditating inside before going back. The place remainded me of the Pyramid Valley in Kanakapura which is built for the same purpose.

Lotus mahal was the last place for the day and we headed back to the hotel thus concluding a exciting day of outing

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