Budha talab – a must-see for visitors of Raipur


Second place to visit according to my schedule was Budha Talab. After a fun-filled day at the Urja Park the previous day, the journey was becoming more interesting day by day. In the morning, all of us walked through the streets and did a little bit of shopping. We also bumped into some restaurants to much some spicy chaat.

I remember visiting Raipur about 15 years ago, along with my parents. Nothing was so great or impressive about a small town in Madhya Pradesh.  It was when I visited my maternal uncle, he was residing amidst the city and we had gone around the place and did a bit of shopping too. Traveling is now part of student life as well my hobby. I am happy to be back in Raipur after many years and today it is known to be one of the richest cities in India.

Budha Talab Raipur

Budha Talab Raipur I Image Resource : dialuz.com

I had a vague idea about the locations that I had visited as a kid. I remember a large lake popularly known as the Budha Talab. I knew that going there in the evening was more sensible. I rested in my hotel room for about two hours after the exciting shopping time and then began walking alongside the road and watching the buzzing city. It had changed tremendously. I kept sharing my previous experiences along with my friends. Today it is one of the leading business cities.

It was almost 5pm, which was ideal for a visit to Budha Talab. I wanted to photograph the location before the sun sets. I hired a rickshaw, which dropped all of us right in front of the exotic location. Centrally located, it is one the major landmarks of Raipur. A colossal statue of Swami Vivekananda was I the middle of the lake. It holds the credit of being the largest statue in India and has a place in the Limca book of records… It is a tribute to the great personality, who had spent two years of his life in Raipur and use to be a frequent visitor to the lake. I also enjoyed the display of color fountains after the sunset. A great place to be!

A worthwhile trip to Urja Park Raipur


It took 14 hours to reach Raipur by train. We had already made a hotel reservation in the city. It was Sunday morning when we arrived in Raipur. A vehicle pickup was arranged by the hotel and we reached the hotel at 6:45 am. It was a restless night in the train and I badly needed a peaceful sleep. I cuddled up into the cozy bed, which was an inviting feature of the room. I did not set any alarm and did not request for any wake up call. Entire day was marked for my activities so there was no particular schedule. After few hours of relaxation at the hotel, I am all prepared to explore the city.

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To my surprise when I woke, it was 11:30 am; quickly I woke up my friends, rushed in for a shower. Wow! I was so fresh and it would keep me charged through the rest of the day. We walked down to an in-house restaurant. We could smell the flavors of traditional food and it was surely tempting! All of us placed an order for a traditional Thali meal, as it was a perfect time to have. And there came delicious varieties of food, rotis, rice, two varieties of dal, vegetable and a sweet dish. What more could I ask for! A full course and satisfying meal!

As a student, I am curious to know more about historical places in India. I read many books, articles and magazines so that I have an idea about the places that I visit. Raipur, the capital city of Chhattisgarh has historical significance, which is major attraction for me. It was a four-day trip and we had travelled from Allahabad.

Then we decided to visit the Energy/ Urja Park, a park with a different theme. It provided information about various sources of energy and we could see a number of creative models to explain discrete processes. Regardless of age, anyone could enjoy being there. Innovative models were truly inspiring. Kudos! to the new the scientific ideas and the effort behind it. It is a perfect place where you can easily spend around three to four hours. At the end of the day, we shared a number of views about the variety theme park.

Destination of the week : Swami Vivekanand Technical University Bhilai


Swami Vivekanand Technical University Bhilai

Swami Vivekanand Technical University Bhilai I Image Resource : googleusercontent.com

Description : I recently visited Swami Vivekanand technical university bhilai to inquire about a post-graduation course. The foundation stone of this prestigious institute was laid by Dr. Manmohan Singh. I want be a part of this university as it offers varied courses on different field including engineering, IT, architecture, pharmacy and many more. It is known for its teaching staff which is very cooperative and highly efficient.

Train travel from Allahabad to Raipur by Sarnath Express – An awesome journey!


I enjoy traveling especially within the country to explore and understand more about the wonderful cities and its history. Usually, I plan tours along with my college pals and prefer short trips. I am a voracious reader who is fascinated by the places of historical importance. I never forget to capture glimpses of the places, the collection of which have piled up to a huge one. I feel nostalgic when I sit and look over the pictures that were clicked and it is amazing that every picture has a story to tell.

Sarnath Express

Sarnath Express I Image Resource : flickr.com

Exams are just done and I had a week to relax. As usual, a journey was preplanned. Two of my friends were accompanying me. The thought of the journey itself was thrilling. I was traveling to Raipur by Sarnath Express. I had my tickets reserved in advance and the day has come, bags were packed and the three musketeers were off for an interesting journey. The train was scheduled to arrive at the Allahabad Junction at 3:15 pm. We hired an auto rickshaw and began the journey around 2 pm. Though it is a half an hour journey to the railway station, we started a little too early to avoid any last minute confusions.

We arrived at the station and the firstly checked the display board, which indicated the arrival of the train and the platform it would arrive on. The train was to arrive on time on platform 4; the three of us picked up our bags and found our way through the large crowds waiting for their trains. We kept our ears sharp to hear the announcement of the trains while sipping in some had some fresh juice. Though the train has a halting time of 25 minutes at the station, people were rushing in to find their assigned seats.

We were holding a 2AC ticket and we boarded the train and found our respective places. Everyone was busy arranging their baggage so that the journey through is comfortable. I enjoy rail journeys and I feel it is the best way to explore beauty of the country. We arrived Raipur at 6.10 am after a 14-hour journey. Now all the excitement begins….

Baati Chokha, My All-time Favourite Food


Hey friends! It is nice to have you back! As you might have already known that I was born and brought up in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, there is a lot, I could probably go on saying about the place. We have been blessed by sacred Hindu temples, the holy Ganges river and unending series of Ghats where sages meditate and aim to seek Moksha.

There have been stories of Varanasi and it can just not be explained in mere two or three sentences. It is a vibrant city, where vibrancy and warmth runs through its lanes.

What also comes with all these is the food! Yes, we all love food and Uttar Pradesh, rather Varanasi cuisine is one of the most popular ones in the world! I could see that as many foreign tourists throng the lanes of Varanasi to try authentic local food that is being sold out in eateries and nearby shops.

However, what I really love about Varanasi food is Litti. My favourite dish, Litti is Baati Chokha or round roti, as it is lovingly called.

Baati Chokha

Baati Chokha I Image Resource : blogspot.com

Baati Chokha is extremely popular in eastern UP as well as in Bihar, where people are crazy over it. When they just cannot get enough of the homemade Baati Chokha, many locals in huge numbers wait in queues to relish upon this popular snack-cum delicacy.

Baati Chokha is typically a ball of dough filled with a number of spices and made to grill over charcoal. They are hardened on the outside but evenly mushy and spicy on the inside. As they are grilled over heavily burning charcoal, the round baatis are extremely healthy because they are not shallow or deep-fried.

The best place to eat yummy Baati Chokha is on the Funeral Lane in Varanasi. The street houses an old shop that has been selling Baati Chokha for so many years now. Just order your plate and you would be served with Baati or the round balls and Chokha, which is a preparation of mashed and spiced potatoes and eggplants. Red onions also accompany the order.

The dish is my absolute favourite, I make it a point to have it anytime, and every time I feel the need to. It is understated yet exotic in taste and you could enjoy all tastes equally. So, whenever you are in Varanasi, do make sure you try at least a couple of plates of Baati Chokha.

Destination of the week : Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary Varanasi


Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary Varanasi

Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary Varanasi I Image Resource : homeo.su

Description : Among so many wildlife sanctuaries in India, the Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary deserves a special mention. As an environmental engineer, I can only describe Kaimoor as a home to a variety of species of animals with an abundant wealth of wildlife. A passionate wildlife lover should make it a point to visit the Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary, Varanasi, for a lifetime experience.

Ramnagar Fort Varanasi : The Pride Of Varanasi!


Being a nature lover and wildlife enthusiast, I love to travel with friends to adventurous places and spend my trip in camping, mountain cycling and trekking. But this time I wanted to explore the architectural beauty of India. After a quick thought, I decided to visit the holy land Varanasi. My tour to Varanasi would have been incomplete had I missed the Ramnagar fort. Located in the opposite banks of Ganga, many miss this place due to the travel time and route. But I had a wonderful experience walking to the place by crossing the river by the temporary wooden bridge, built on floating drums, avoiding the longer route on main bridge by auto or rickshaw.

Ramnagar Fort Varanasi

Ramnagar Fort Varanasi I Image Resource : flickr.com

The fort built with yellow sandstone, by Kashi Naresh Maharaja Balwant Singh in the 17th century, stands majestically on the banks of the Ganga.  The ancestral home of the Maharajas of Kashi, still is the home of the present Maharaja of Kashi.  The Portion of the palace where the royal family resides is not for public view. But the rest of the fort itself is a treat to the tourists. The Durbar hall, constructed with marble stone, is a blend of Indo-Islamic architecture. No wonder the arched balconies, vast courtyards and gorgeous pavilions have pulled many filmmakers to shoot their films.

The Palace houses a museum known as the Saraswathi Bhavan, has many Royal collections. The vintage cars, Royal palkies, array of ornate palanquins gold plated howdhas speaks of the royal life style. But I was most fascinated by the collection of swords, armory and old guns.  Antique clocks, Jewelry, paintings, Photographs and ivory works are also on display. This place was indeed a treat to my lens and I clicked beautiful images of the entire fort and the surroundings.

There is a temple dedicated to Vedavyasa, the author of Mahabaratha who as per legend is believed to have lived here for some time. A big clock, the Dharam Ghadi, is a wonders which shows time, day, week and month but also gives astronomical facts about the sun, moon and stars. The month long Ramleela festival during Dusshera, which takes place in the narrow lanes behind the fort and the Rajmangal- procession of boats from Assighat to fort in Phalguni with dance and music is a visual treat. But what impressed the environmentalist and the photographer inside me was the view of the Ganges from the top of the fort.

Nepali Temple (Kathwala Temple) Varanasi : A Nepalese Temple Close To Nature’s Wonderful Waterfalls!


Varanasi is also known by the name of Kashi and Benares. Since centuries, Kashi is the city of Moksha for Hindus. Benares is known for its fine quality of silks, ‘paan’ and the Benaras Hindu University. It is believed that fasting for three nights in Varanasi can reward one with many thousands of a life time of asceticism. Among the many temples is the Nepali Temple alias Kathwala Temple, was built by the King of Nepal in Nepali style of architecture. It is located in the Lalita Ghat near Manikarnika Ghat. It is also referred to as ‘Mini Khajuraho’. The temple has exquisite woodwork that displays the craftsmanship of Nepali workers. These workers were brought here specially for the construction of this temple. This unique temple is visited by tourists from all over the world. It is said to be incomparable to any other temple in India.

Nepali Temple (Kathwala Temple) Varanasi

Nepali Temple (Kathwala Temple) Varanasi I Image Resource : tripadvisor.com

Looking up the internet provides some basic things-to-do for the nature lover, wildlife and adventure tourist. Looking up a detailed topography map, I found nearest locations where I can mountain climb or go mountain cycling, or trekking. I looked for a budget hotel for accommodation and found a youth hostel which provides food and camping facility for a budget traveller. I love to travel with friends and so I shared my holiday plan with them and three of them were happy to join me. The train journey was very short and we all of 24 years pursuing our environmental engineering were looking forward to a great time.

Nepali Temple (Kathwala Temple) Varanasi

Nepali Temple (Kathwala Temple) Varanasi I Image Resource : blogspot.com

Daily guided trips to Lakhania Dari are organised but we chose to explore it on our own. We had our breakfast at the youth hostel and set out geared up for some physical exercise. We took our bicycles and went up the mountain trekking and climbing while sweat dropped to the ground. We spent the day exploring the region with some roasted peanuts for pass time and fresh water from the waterfall to quench our thirst. The sound of the gushing waterfall is clean and clear. The beauty of it had me capture the cascading fall and add to my photography album. I would love to share them with family and friends back home.

Music Paradise Hall Varanasi : Music Casts A Mystical Spell In This Paradise!


Life is beautiful I thought to myself. Growing up in lovely Lucknow, making good friends who are talented and have a fondness for adventure tourism, I felt happy.  I am a dashing young 24 year old, who is a nature lover and takes delight in travelling with friends on rugged terrain and appreciate wildlife. As students we travel on a limited budget, choose train travel to go on short trips around North India. A male friend of mine was keen on enrolling himself in a music academy to learn to play the violin. In his quest, he found a place in Varanasi and planned to pursue a course in summer.

We enquired about budget hotels in and around Varanasi and we booked one close to the railway station.  We hopped on and off the train to Varanasi, only to be greeted by vendors selling thandai and snow cone wala’s were attracting visitors. Reaching our hotel by foot, we freshened up and went in search of Music Paradise Hall. As we walked into the hall, a serene and calm atmosphere was felt. We met the manager whose name is Bablu. He was very courteous and helped us find the best teacher for my friend who was desirous of learning the violin. The place has a collection of different musical instruments like flutes, sitars, violins, drums etc.  The place resounds with melodious music and makes you fall in love with music.  We are told that every evening in this hall, a music concert with dance and vocals is organised.

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Someone said, “Mountains are calling and I must go.” People like us who love the outdoors, treks, mountain climbing, cycling over the mountains must take the trip. Mirzapur is the neighbouring district of Varanasi and it has some beautiful scenic locales. Small tribal settlements are found in these hills. We planned to camp there and cook our own food on the hill. Trekking over the little mountain, we had to slide and twist our bodies through the boulders. Fresh water from the waterfalls is pure and sweet to taste. Nature’s bounty! I took loads of photographs of nature in its beauty and with friends for memory. Reaching our destination, we chose a cup of tea over cool drinks.  At night we cooked up a simple meal, put up our camping tent and were fast asleep.

Destination of the week : Yoga Education Training Society


Yoga Education Training Society

Yoga Education Training Society | Image Resource – varanasivolunteer.blogspot.in

Yoga Education Training Society : While being out in the open exhilarates me, the thought of unwinding at Varanasi’s most famous Yoga Education Training Society gives me great pleasure. A good place for experience seekers, the Yoga Education Training Society welcomes those who wish to learn various forms of yoga and deep meditation from skilled professionals. Great when out for 4-day Varanasi trip.