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1. Visa Requirement For Myanmar

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Visa requirement for Myanmar

From December 2016, Singapore passport holders can visit Myanmar for 30 days without a visa. This
exemption is not applied for foreigners who live or work in Singapore. The mutual signed by Singapore
and Myanmar government also allows Burmese tourists to visit Singapore without a visa.

A similar agreement amongst Asian countries including Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, Philippines, Thailand,
Cambodia and Myanmar indicates that the citizens of these countries can travel to Myanmar for 14 days
for purpose of tourism without a visa.

The restriction of the agreement shows that free visa is only for those who arrive by Yangon, Mandalay
or Naypyidaw international airport.

Accordingly, travellers from America, Europe, Africa and other countries in Asia need to obtain Myanmar
Visa.

From late 2014, Myanmar Government has created a new system which enables travellers to obtain
an electronic visa for Myanmar. This system supports citizens from more than 100 countries to obtain visa
easier for their travel to Myanmar. Please contact us if you want to apply for Myanmar visa

Myanmar e visa can be applied if you are entering from these airports / Ports / Checkpoints

  1. Yangoon
  2. Mandalay
  3. Nay Pyi Taw
  4. Tachileik Land Border checkpost
  5. Myawaddy Land border chekpost
  6. Kawthaung Land border chekpost

Visa Fee

The total Government fee is US $50/ person or application. There is no discount or a cheaper price if you
apply for a group. Navigers processing fee is $25 per visa forex and 5% government tax. Pls fill the visa
form or call us

The visa is single entry and you are not able to travel to Thailand then return without having a second
visa. We strongly advise you to study their website carefully before you apply since the visa fee is
nonrefundable.

Special notices


1. E-Visa is good for both tourist and business Myanmar Visa
2. This visa is not for all border gates or airports, please check the latest update Myanmar Visa News
3. Your passport must be valid for 6 months from the time you enter the country.
4. Tourist visa is valid for 28 days from the date of arrival, business visa is for 70 days
5. Payment should be done by credit, visa card, no cash or banking option.
6. Visa fee is non-refundable
7. Contact the government support team on phone if you need more information
8. You should apply for the visa at least 1 week before arrival and no sooner than 3 months prior to your
travel date.

Requirement


1. Your full name in the passport :
2. Your father`s full name:
3. Your date of birth and place of birth:
4. Passport number, issued date, expired date

5. Your address, telephone and email.
6. Your occupation:
7. Date of arrival and flight number:
8. Date of departure and flight number:
9. Your visiting plan: at least the name of the first hotel
10. Your photo in jpeg, pdf, word extension

E-visa is applicable for 100 countries including

1.    Albania         51. Kenya
2.    Algeria         52. Korea, DPR
3.    Argentina       53.  Korea, Republic
4.    Australia       54. Kuwait
5.    Austria         55.  Kyrgyzstan
6.    Bangladesh       56.  Laos
7.    Belarus         57. Latvia
8.    Belgium         58. Lithuania
9.    Bhutan           59. Luxembourg
10.    Bolivia         60. Malaysia
11.    Bosnia         61. Maldive
12.    Brazil         62. Malta
13.    Brunei         63. Mauritius
14.    Bulgaria       64. Mexico
15.    Cambodia       65. Monaco
16.    Cameroon       66. Mongolia
17.    Canada         67. Morocco
18.    Chile           68. Nepal
19.    China           69. Netherlands
20.    Colombia       70. New Zeland
21.    Costa Rica     71. Norway
22.    Côte d’Ivoire   72. Pakistan
23.    Croatia         73. Panama
24.    Cyprus         74. Peru
25.    CZECH           75. Philippines
26.    Denmark         76. Poland
27.    Ecuador         77. Portugal
28.    Egypt           78. Qatar
29.    Eritrea         79. Romania
30.    Estonia         80. Russia
31.    Fiji           81. Saudi Arabia
32.    Finland         82. Serbia
33.    France         83. Singapore
34.    Georgia         84. Slovakia
35.    Germany         85. Slovenia
36.    Ghana           86. South Africa
37.    Greece         87. Spain
38.    Guatemala       88.  Sri Lanka
39.    Guinea         89. Sweden
40.    Hungary         90. Switzerland
41.    Iceland         91. Thailand
42.    India           92. Turkey
43.    Indonesia       93. Uganda
44.    Ireland         94. Ukraine
45.    Israel         95. United Kingdom
46.    Italy           96.  United States of America
47.    Jamaica         97. Uruguay
48.    Japan           98. Uzbekistan
49.    Jordan         99. Venezuela
50.    Kazakhstan     100. Vietnam

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2. Myanmar Road Encounters

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According to Myanmar law, you are not allowed to rent the car without driver so it has to be the best invention ever – it’s a motorbike

The road should be kicked off from Mandalay, the biggest city in north Myanmar going down south to capital Yangon. It is more than just an ordinary sightseeing since you are not only to visit Myanmar Heritage sites but also see the different villages in the remote area. It usually takes 12 to 13 days depending how many days you are adding to explore Yangon and other major places like Inle lake
 

Mandalay - PyinOoLwin - Shwe Bo - Monywa - Bagan - Magwe - Pyu - Yangon - Naypyidaw - Inle Lake – Mandalay

  1. Mandalay to PyinOoLwin = 66 km
  2. PyinOoLwin to Shwe Bo = 167 km
  3. Shwebo to Monywa = 101 km
  4. Monywa to Bagan = 153 km
  5. Bagan to Magway = 152 km
  6. Magway to Phyu = 313 km
  7. Phyu to Yangon = 235 km
  8. Yangon to Naypyitaw = 367 km
  9. Naypyitaw to Inle Lake = 230 km
  10. Inle Lake to Mandalay = 261 km

 

Essential South Myanmar
Follow the ancient trail of Mon Kingdom, exploring the authenticity of Yangon, Hpa An, Golden Rock and Mawlamyine. The experience focuses on the cultural interaction which varies beautifully from vibrant cities to monasteries, Shampoo island to famous Golden Rock.  It usually takes 7 to 8 days depending how many days you are adding to explore Yangoon and other places


Brief itinerary: Yangon - Bago - Kyaikhtiyo - Mawlamyine - Hpa An - Yangon

  1. Yangon - Bago = 119 km
  2. Bago – Kyaikhtiyo = 107 km
  3. Kyaikhtiyo – Mawlamyine = 153 km
  4. Mawlamyine - Hpa An = 57 km
  5. Hpa An to Yangon = 287 km

 

Myanmar larger circuit –

Option 1 - Min. 15 days circuit

  1. Mandalay to PyinOoLwin = 66 km
  2. PyinOoLwin to Shwe Bo = 167 km
  3. Shwebo to Monywa = 101 km
  4. Monywa to Bagan = 153 km
  5. Bagan to Magway = 152 km
  6. Magway via Naypyitawto Phyu = 313 km
  7. Phyu to Yangon = 235 km
  8. Yangon - Bago = 119 km
  9. Bago – Kyaikhtiyo = 107 km
  10. Kyaikhtiyo – Mawlamyine = 153 km
  11. Mawlamyine - Hpa An = 57 km
  12. Hpa An to Taungoo = 383 km
  13. Taungooto Naypyitaw = 115 km
  14. Naypyitaw to Inle Lake = 230 km
  15. Inle Lake to Mandalay = 261 km

 

Option 2 – Min. 14 days circuit

  1. Mandalay to PyinOoLwin = 66 km
  2. PyinOoLwin to Shwe Bo = 167 km
  3. Shwebo to Monywa = 101 km
  4. Monywa to Bagan = 153 km
  5. Bagan to Magway = 152 km
  6. Magway via Naypyitawto Phyu = 313 km
  7. Phyu to Yangon = 235 km
  8. Yangon - Bago = 119 km
  9. Bago – Kyaikhtiyo = 107 km
  10. Kyaikhtiyo – Mawlamyine = 153 km
  11. Mawlamyine - Hpa An = 57 km
  12. Hpa An to Naypyitaw = 473 km
  13. Naypyitaw to Inle Lake = 230 km
  14. Inle Lake to Mandalay = 261 km

Happy BiKing.!!

For Any help on Myanmar Holiday, you can reach us @ travel@Navigers.com / navigers@gmail.com

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3. How To Cross India Myanmar Border

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How to cross India Myanmar border


Since Myanmar opens its door to the world, more official borders are opening for travellers who wish
to do overland journeys from neighbouring countries to Myanmar. At the present, you can travel from
Myanmar to Thailand, China and India with certain border gates. Up to 2016, there are no international
border checkpoints to enter Myanmar from Laos or Bangladesh.

India Myanmar Border


In the remote north west of Myanmar, a crossing exists between Moreh (India, Manipur state) and
Tamu (Myanmar, Sagaing Division). If you want to enter or leave Myanmar here, you will need to book a
special travel package by filling out this form (you must apply at least one month in advance of your
travel date).


Although permits are required for border crossing, foreigners can now travel in these parts of Sagaing
Division (Myanmar) and Manipur State (India) freely.
The India-Myanmar border in the far north of Kachin State at Pangsau Pass is currently shut to
foreigners.


We offer a range of overland tours to Myanmar, but please note that we are not able to issue border
crossing permits as a stand-alone item - if you book through us you must take a guided tour for at least
part of your journey; this is mandated for tour companies by the Myanmar government and we must
always ensure the safety of our clients.

How to cross-border from Thailand to Myanmar


Thailand Myanmar Borders
If you are planning to cross the border by land, to check that there have been no closures before
commencing your journey. Also, make sure that you have the relevant visas arranged (or are eligible for
a visa exemption if crossing from Myanmar into Thailand).
These are the crossing between Thailand and Myanmar:

1. Mae Sot / Myawaddy
One of the most popular crossing points, Mae Sot is located in the Thai province of Tak. It is
well-connected by bus on the Thai side, and onward transportation when in Myanmar is also
relatively straight-forward. Mawlamyine and Yangon are easy to reach, allowing you to connect
to other parts of the country.

2. Ranong / Kawthoung

This is the most convenient crossing for people who are continuing to Myanmar from Southern
Thailand. Ideal for beach lovers, you can catch onward boats to some of Myanmar’s dazzling
beaches and islands. The boat crossing between the two countries takes around 20 minutes, and
there are regular boat services.

3. Mae Sai / Tachilek
Mae Sai is within Thailand’s province of Chiang Rai. Whilst foreign tourists can easily cross the
border into Myanmar, there are still limitations as to onward transportation.


4. Phu Nam Ron / Htee Khee
Ban Nam Phu, located in Thailand’s province of Kanchanaburi, is a remote town with a border
crossing into Myanmar. Crossing to Htee Khee, the nearest major town on the Myanmar side is
Dawei, which is about a five-hour drive from the border. Arranging onward transportation may be difficult, particularly during the rainy season.

 

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4. Misty Munnar A Refreshing Weekend Getaway

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This is not my first backpacking “planned” trip away from bustling crowded namma Bengaluru but this time the word “planned” was missing and hence the adventure was at its peak.

Priyam again turned out to be a savior in this random trip and finally we boiled down to head to Munnar on a long weekend. After deciding on the place, problem was to find a good stay at Munnar during long weekend and again Navigers team was there to help us and they booked Estate residency at Munnar for us. Accompanied by friends from last trip to hampi, Manzil and Ankit also joined the party. Just to mention, Manzil started her journey from hyderbad to Munnar via Bengaluru. (Kitni velli h ye)

Navigers.com helped us in providing the cab at best prices and that too during peak demand season.

So the fun begins……

Started the journey on 26th early morning around 2am with AUX equipped cab, manzil carrying UNO cards, priyam with his acoustic guitar, ankit with his poker chips and obviously me to bakar around.

Singing, sleeping, playing, eating and repeating the same again, We first landed at grapevine yard Munnar on 26th morning 9am.

I have never seen before such huge quantity of free grapes, hanging at no cost, infront of my eyes and how can I miss the opportunity to grab few.


As we were approaching close to Munnar, roads seem to be unfriendly and treacherous. Every mile, there is a construction with narrow roads and blockheads.

10 hrs of seemingly smooth journey turned to 14 hrs hours of long tiring drive, but the hotel stay made our day worth spending with scenic view from my room.

Being dead hungry, we decided to munch at some goodrestaurant and that’s how we landed at forestglade.

We played poker, played guitar with songs(some mind blowing voices :P) and had some refreshing non alcoholic wine to conclude our day.

Next day, early morning.. Ahh gosh.. I still remember… it took mammoth efforts to dislodge these guys from the bed, but somehow all got ready in 1 hr and we started off our journey to Mattupetty Dam and Tea Museum.

Full road blocks due to long weekend, we decided to walk half a mile to reach matupetty dam and finally tried our hands on pedal boat.

After lunch at 3pm, driving way back to see Tea Museum and really bewildered to see the fermentation, drying and packaging happening on such a large scale at TATA tea museum.After reaching hotel at 5pm, but something keeps us buzzing and that was to see the traditional Indian martial arts show- PUNARJANI. I would say that 1 hour show was the showstopper of the trip, with some jaw dropping martial arts presentation by local boys and at the end of the show we dint miss the chance to take few clicks with skilled martial arts guys.

Again concluded our day with sumptuous dinner and with guitar being played by our music maestro priyam.

Last day we headed to Eravikulam national park, Lakkam waterfalls and finally drove back to Namma Bengaluru.

Yes, we do took munnar chips, home made chocolates for our hungry Bengaluru friends :)

 

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5. Understand Your Meal Plans

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While traveling, I was always confused on the different types of meals in the hotels and the abbrevations that they used, like AP vs MAP vs CP vs EP.

Here's some quick tips to Understand your meal plans and brief Meal Plan Definitions:

AP or American Plan

American Plan or AP means that apart from room rent, quoted hotel tariff includes all 3 meals as well i.e. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. In Europe and some other countries the American Plan is also referred to as Full Pension or Full Board Plan. This plan is good for tourists visiting remote places where availability of food outside/nearby or hygiene could be an issue.

MAP or Modified American Plan

Modified American Plan or MAP means quoted rates include two meals a day, namely breakfast and either lunch or dinner. In Europe and some other countries the Modified American Plan is also referred to as Half Pension or Half Board Plan. Preferred by most of the tourists as you can leave hotel with a good breakfast, spend the day out, have lunch at some nice local restaurant and go for dinner in the hotel after a shower.

CP or Continental Plan

Under Continental or CP Meal Plan, room rent and complimentary free breakfast are included in the tariff. And in case you decide to have dinner and lunch at the hotel, you always have the option to pay extra. Continental Plan is supposed to include a continental breakfast. However, hotel nowadays use the term for any kind of breakfast. Most of the hotels have breakfast buffet (for all meal plans) with tea, coffee, milk, juices, eggs, pancakes, local dishes, breads and corn flakes.

EP or European Plan

European Plan or EP will mostly have the lowest tariff in a rate card simply because it includes only room rent and no meals. This gives you the option of trying local food and save some money as well. You always have the option of paying and having food in the hotel. Another advantage of EP is that since almost every hotel has more than 1 restaurant, you are free to try and choose the one you like.

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6. Wanderlust Wayanad A Welcome Break

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The stage was set- hectic office hours with lot of messing around with data, chaotic atmosphere, stagnant numbers with no signs of growth, ball being passed from one court to another with no resolution around, extremely scorching weather acting as on add-on and thus that called for a much needed welcome break.

2 friends (me and my friend priyam) -No planning, just a thought to explore the weekend outside Bangalore on a Friday night where there is peace in nature, poised weather, great natural ambience to stay and no laptop buzzing around. A google search of 5 minutes landed us to unanimously unravel Wayanad.

With an object oriented approach in mind to explore Wayanad and thanks to Navigers for fulfilling the procedural operational issues in terms of cab booking and a driver guide familiar to Wayanad sightseeing for 3 days. A quick google search for the best places to see in wayand resulted in finalizing few places for 2N/3D wanderlust- eddakal caves, chembra peak, pookode lake, sochipara falls, kuruvadweep and Banasura sagar dam.

 

With basic travel toolkit in hand- a water bottle, set of clothes, dental kit, DSLR and shades complete our itinerary for the travel. Started at 2am in the morning, seemed to be an entire different Bangalore as against what it is supposed to be in the day, reached the first kaleidoscopic spot of Wayanad at around 9am – Eddakal caves. Fascinated with the reviews on various blogs about this place, we decided to have a glimpse of this artistic naturally carved beauty. Eddakal caves contains the ancient script of homo sapiens and we decided to sneak peak into the calligraphy carved out on the rocks, got to know how during those days homo sapiens used to protect themselves from harsh weather and animal danger.

Before check-in at Hotel Haritagiri, Kalpetta(Wayanad) we already ambushed ourselves in Eddakal caves and then after 2 hours of rest on the swimming pool couches at the hotel, we made our next move to the hysterically famous peak chembra peak. Broken roads, narrow creeks, whirling winds, cab running at 20Kmph, howling sounds and sun setting slowly resulted in creeping of some fear in our minds. So we decided not to spent much time on top of the chembra peak, with quick snaps taken on the top, we decided to retrace our footsteps back to hotel.

 

Next morning, Our schumacher ferrari driver decided to take us to man made island- Kuruvadweep. Lying on the outskirts of wayanad, close to 70kms from kalpetta, we reached in just 45 minutes and had a quick check-in with the tickets. We enjoyed the bamboo rafting at the island and took some snaps on the dangerous slippery man made carved rocks at the island to relinquish ourselves from the scorching heat. Sochipara falls was a failure as there was no water due to absence of monsoon.

2nd Day evening, we explored pookode lake with boating for an hour on a lotus filled marshy lake and then quickly made our way to Lakiddi view point which lies on the border of wayand and Cochin. An absolute mesmerizing beauty with breathtaking moving clouds touching the feet of Lakkidi mountains


3rd Morning was actually a showstopper of the trip with mind boggling scenic experience of Banasura Sagar Dam- a must see beauty before anyone concludes the Wayanand trip. Lying on the tributary of Kabini river, this largest earthern dam in India and proudly the second largest in Asia, gives an absolute awe-inspiring jitters to the mankind. Marshy mangroves with wild fauna staring at us from other corner of the dam enthralls both of us to take a speedy boat and have a walk the talk with the beauty of Banasura sagar dam. Banasura encompasses everything- a 1 km trek to reach the top of the dam, a mammoth solar panel to shade the customers from scorching heat, a speedy boat ride to explore the jungle area of Banasura dam plus warning signs at few places sighting the view of water floating snakes to be beware of. 

I forgot to tell that yes we did try some adventurous sports activity at Banasura sagar dam like dirt motor biking, archery and shooting which concluded our Banasura trip

Finally, A much needed welcome break with memories to cherish forever concluded with a wayanad trip. A highly recommended place to take a quick break from Bangalore rusty weather and of course a place away from the office mess. Thanks to Navigers for being with us throughout ..Memories :)

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7. 6 Reasons Why You Should Travel

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I really like the punch line of Navigers - "World is outside home, come travel with us"
This line made me think why should one travel? And what is the reason, that some people (like me), are always eager to pack the bag and set out travelling...

After think alot, I conculded on the these 6 reasons on why one should travel


(1) Traveling helps you learn who you are
When we are at home - at our self built comfort zone. We carry on to live a systamtic life; where we know how to carry on with the daily stuff without much hazzle.
Travel puts you out on a open space, with nothing much to predict. All the challenges and opportunities travel lays at your feet help you discover who you are and what are your true potentials and desires.
Sometimes it’s only far from home that you realize you you’ve got skills you’ve never used.

 

(2) Life is not all about work and career goals

If you think of working every inch today and hoping to have more time when you retire - think again!!!
Life has never guaranteed us 'old age'.
Experience this gorgeous mighty planet in which you are born. Because traveling open ups to more opportunities - beyond your set goals.


(3) Chance to be a part of a story

There are numerous stories associated with every place - stories that are much more exciting than the breaking news that media covers.
Travelling lets you learn and discover about the history and current affaris of a place and gives to a chance to be part of that story.

 

(4) Be generous to your taste buds

There is so many types of food in the world. Traveling to different places and tasting the local food prepared by the local chefs opens up a spirit of being part of that region's culuture.
It is much more fun to experience how different people enjoy different food; than eating at a continental restauarant at your city.

 

(5) Cherish on what really matters

Every airline penalises the extra baggage - and thus traveling forces you to learn on how much to carry, and what is the one that is really needed and what is ‘extra’.
This is a good lesson in life too - to drop the extra baggages of life.

 


(6) Pamper yourself - Relax and rejuvenate

A restful vacation is just what you need to renew yourself.
You need to pamper yourself more often and take a break from the stressful life - A new place, good weather, and bright colours of mother nature is the best rewarding gift that you can give yourself.

 


Travel and live the moment. World is generous with wide range of things it can offer. Just put a step forward and explore a new place of this vast universe - Travel pays back :)

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8. Caved Out Near Mumbai Ajanta Ellora And Others

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I heard a lot about the Ajanta & Ellora caves from my childhood days; so when I planned for a trip to see these caves, I thought of covering the other prominent caves near Mumbai and explore all of them in a go.

The important caves near Mumbai are:
•  Ajanta 
•  Ellora 
•  Aurangabad caves
•  Karla and Bhaja Caves in Lonavala
•  Elephanta caves and Kanheri caves in Mumbai

 

I started my trip from Mumbai. I booked a self drive car from Navigers for my road journey.

 

On the first day, drove from Mumbai to Ajanta (440 kms). We had taken Mumabi - Nashik - Shirdi - Aurangabad - Ajanta bypass roads.
There were lot of onion, cotton and sugar cane fields by the road side. 


The hotel guy at Ajanta, explained that the "View Point" at Ajanta is mesmerizing; and he suggested to go to 'Ajanta View point' first and then trek down from the wild trail to the 30 rock cut Ajanta caves.

Following the local expertise suggestion, next day, we drove to the 'Ajanta view point' early in the morning. The sight was really out of the world. 
It seemed to be a exotic setting, perfectly formed to carve out the amazing caves.


It is believed that the Buddhist monks who carved out these caves, wanted to stay in solitary - and didnt want anyone to find their meditation site.
On the first sight, you will find this place to be like a crater; and you cannot see these caves from anywhere else; apart from the view point.

The Ajanta Caves is a complex of around 29 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date back to 2nd century.
These caves were discovered in 1819, by a British officer named John Smith, who was out in the forests for hunting. 
I was trying to imagine that what he must have felt when he saw these abandoned massive caves for the first time.

 

Each cave in Ajanta, has a unique story to tell. And you experience the stories of Buddha coming to life in these caves.


The main attraction of Ajanta caves, is the wall paintings. Though these expressive wall paintings are in very ruined state now; it makes you wonder, that what technology might the people have used to draw these fine paintings almost twenty centuries back.  

Ajanta caves is currently a UNESCO protected site. You will not be allowed to use cameras with flash-lights inside the caves; so that the cave paintings can be protected for some more years.
You will not be allowed to drive your vehicle close to the cave complex also; the vehicles needs to be parked 4 kms away from the caves; and from there you will have to board the government bus that will drop you close to the cave entrance.

Ajanta caves is one of the fine historic marvel and I am gald I could explore them; before it perishes completely. 

 


After exploring Ajanta, we drove towards Ellora caves, which is at the distance of 90 kms.

I spent my night at Hotel Kailash, which offers a magnificent view of Ellora cave complex.

The Ellora cave entrance was at a walking distance from my hotel; so I decided to explore these caves early in the morning; so that I could avoid the crowd.

 

I directly entered Cave 16, that is the 'Kailash Temple'. I had read that this was one of the most beautiful carved temple in the world. 
I was amazed to see this massive carved temple with huge sculptures all by myself. There were no tourists when I entered this temple and I was literally scared to enter the main dark sanctum of this huge temple where the Shiv ling was present. 
Kailash Temple is an marvellous structure, it is one of the largest monolithic structures in the world. This place seemed extraordinarily beautiful with the soft sun rays on the beautiful rock carvings; and no crowd to disturb.


Unlike Ajanta - Ellora cave complex had a mix of artworks from Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

Caves 1 to 12 - were mainly Buddhist monuments

It was suprising to see 2 storeyed caves here. 


Caves 13 to 29 - were the most beautiful ones. These consists of the Hindu monuments with elaborate sculptures, wall inscriptions, rock carvings. 


Caves 30 to 34 - were mainly Jain monuments

There is bus facility inside the cave complex, as the last Jain caves are situated at a distance of 1.5 kms from entrance.

 

Ellora was more commercialized than Ajanta caves, as the place also contains Grishneshwar temple (the 12th Jyotirlinga). There were lot of pilgrims who had come to visit this sacred temple; and the same pilgrims were also at the Ellora cave complex, adding to the crowd.
I also paid a visit to the huge Shiv ling present in the finely carved Grishneshwar temple.
This temple was under high security; I had to cross many security check points to enter the main temple sanctum. Even mobile phones were not allowed to be carried inside the temple premises.

 


My next destination was Lonavala, which was at a distance of 308 kms.

From Ellora, we drove through Aurangabad which is known as 'the city of gates'. You can find lot of many gateways in this city. I m not sure on what was the intend of the ancient kings to build so many gateways :)
Bibi ka Maqbara of Aurangabad is the prime attraction of the city and it resembles the Taj Mahal of Agra. 

The Aurangabad Caves were Buddhist cave complex, resembling that of Ajanta.

 


The drive to Lonavala was little confusing; there are very less sign boards across Maharastra.

Lonavala didnt turn out to be as per my expectation. Though I was there in February, the temperature was too high and the place was dry with no greenery and nothing to remind that it is a ' hill station '.

There are many forts near Lonavala and Khandala, but none of the forts are maintained well. It was saddening to see the massive forts built by ancient kings in ruined state. When the forts were built, I m sure that the kings had very limited resources compared to now; but now even with all the advanced technology, the government is not even willing to maintain these historical structure. None of the forts had good roads to reach to them. I really felt pity on the state of these neglected monuments.

Rajmachi Fort is said to be the most beautiful fort; which offers magnificent views.
Tilkona fort was a triangular fort on top of the hill. 
Lohagad Fort was massive. There were lot of monkeys till the top of the fort; so had to walk empty handed, so that nothing attracts their attention.

Bhaja / Bhaje caves are located near Lohagad Fort. It was a cave complex with 22 rock-cut caves dating back to the 2nd century. The unique carving here was that of a woman playing tabla.

Pawna lake and dam at Lonavala was worth a visit; but the Bhushi dam had nothing much to offer.

Lonavala was filled with chikki shops and resorts. The place was totally commercialized and was crowded.


At Khandala ghats, I stopped by to see many view points that offer beautiful views of the surrounding hills and valleys. 
Rajmachi point, shooting point and Duke’s Nose were the best of them. 

 

There were many tunnels on the highway between Lonavala and Mumbai.

 

My trip ended back at Mumbai/Bombay - the Bollywood city. 
The city was a mix of skyscrapers with well connected flyovers and overcrowded slum area - both class of people living closeby.

I had found this photo of my childhood in one of my old family album; and I wanted to click a similar photo in front of Gateway of India during this trip.
But guess what, I could not go close to 'Gateway of India'.


Gateway of India, is now surrounded by barricades after the infamous 26/11 terror attack and over that there were almost a lakh of tourists around that area. 
I had never seen so many people gathered together at a given point of time in my entire life. It was frightening to face the over population of our country.

 

I dropped my idea to go to Elephanta Caves, after this; as we need to board the ferry from Gateway of India to reach Elephanta.


My stay at Mumbai ended up to be more about eating, than sight seeing :)
The famous streets of Mumbai had everything to offer from ice gola, vada paav, paav bhaji, paan, sandwich, kulfi, fruit punch etc etc, and everything was delicious.

 

I spent time watching sunset at Chowpatty beach, walking through Marine Drive to Nariman Point, shopping at colaba market.


And as per the famous saying 'there is light at the end of the tunnel'; in the same way, I ended up my trip with the thought of a new road venture in few more month :)

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9. Darjeeling Sikkim And Bhutan Bike Trip

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I started my Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan bike trip with my 4 friends from Bangalore.

 

We landed at Darjeeling's Bagdogra airport at night. At the airport we took a cab and went to Darjeeling city. 
Darjeeling was covered with mist and fog; and the climate was soothing with tea plantations all across the roads.

We first checked in to the hotel, got fresh. And then moved to collect our bikes to kick start our Eastern India and Bhutan exploration trip.

 

Next day morning, we went to Sikkim (Gangtok) which was approximately 100 kms from Darjeeling.
The ride was full of fresh air, forested mountain valleys and long stretches of snow-clad mountain peaks.

 

We took the cable car ride in Gangtok and witnessed the stunning views of the picturesque Gangtok town. The ride covers a distance of one km in just seven minutes and allows one to enjoy a bird eye view. We boarded our ropeway ride from Tashiling station. 

Later we explored many beautiful waterfalls which were close to our hotel.


We gave a miss to Rumtek Monastery which is located 24 kms south-east of Gangtok.  
There are lot of markets in Sikkim which over local cuisine and sell many Tibetan goods.

 


Next day morning we went towards Ghantaghar to meet an agent who could arrange the entry permit Nathula.
The agent charged us INR 200 per vehicle. But you can directly get the permit in INR 100 if you have some extra time to spare. You will need to submit an photocopy of ID proof and a photo to obtain this permit. 
Nathula permit is granted only to Indians. Tourists are not allowed on Nathula on Mondays and Tuesdays. Nathula remains closed in winters due to heavy snow.
Nathula is located around 56 kms from Gangtok at an altitude of 14450 ft. It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world.


We had to leave our bikes down and walk for some distance to get close to the border. Photography was not allowed near this region.


We had gone close to the international border from where we could see the Chinese soldiers on the other side.
While coming back from the border; we visited Baba Harbhajan Singh Shrine, Tsomgo Lake and Siva temple.

 

The stories around "Baba" Harbhajan Singh was very touching. Harbhajan Singh was a young Indian army soldier who died near the Nathula Pass in 1968. Legend has it that he had appeared in a dream of fellow soldiers who were patrolling the border, and had expressed the desire that a monument be built his memory. Since then the Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir was built in this place and the mandir has acquired the status of a pilgrimage centre. As per local legend, spirit of Baba Harbhajan Singh is still guarding Indian armies at these high altitude region.

We later visited the Tsomgo Lake aka Changu Lake, which is one of the highest lakes in India. The lake lies at an altitude of 12,400ft and is frozen in winters. 
It was a beautiful lake, and the lake water had the reflection of nearby peaks.
There was option for Yak riding near this lake.

 

 

We had to walk for some distance to visit the Shiva temple. The view of large Shiva statue in middle of trees and waterfalls was breathtaking. 

We had stopped by many cascading waterfalls on our way.

 


Next day, we started our ride towards Bhutan via Siliguri. The ride was through foggy road and the visibility was very low.
En-route we visited Jaldapara National Park. This park is famous for one horned rhinoceros.
We stayed overnight at Jaigaon which was very close to Bhutan border. (The distance from Gangtok to Jaigaon is approximately 225 kms.)

 

Next morning took permit to enter Bhutan. We had to provide original id proof to get the permit.

Phuentsholing city is the first city that you get when entering Bhutan.


We visited some monasteries on the way. And stopped over for shopping.
If you have extra time then you can visit the famous Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery in Paro. It is a unique monastery is located in a cliffside. 
You can also visit the 2nd longest suspension bridge of Bhutan at Punakha
We returned back to Jaigaon at night.

 

Next day, we started our ride back to Darjeeling which was approximately 200 kms away. On the way back we visited Tiger Hills, Rock garden, botanical garden and Japanese temple.
The ride was full of waterfalls and surrounded by snow-clad mountain peaks.


You get amazing views of Kanchenjunga snow peaks and the valleys from Tiger Hill.

You can also board Toy train from Ghoom Station but it is very expensive.

 

 

Next day we returned back our bikes and took cab to reach Bagdogra. On the way back, we went to tea factory where a worker showed us the whole process of tea manufacturing.


We reached Bagdogra at 4:00 PM and later flew back to Bangalore.

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10. Rajasthan My Way

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I always wanted to visit Rajasthan and experience the life of people staying near the great Thar desert. 
And my wish finally came true in November 2016.

I started my Rajasthan exploration from "The Pink City" - Jaipur. 
Jaipur being the capital city; was very crowded. Most of the buildings lined across Jaipur's streets were pink in colour and all its famous monuments were decorated in the same color theme.
I started my trip by visiting the famous Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and Jaipur City Palace; as all 3 of them are located close to each other.

It was astonishing to see how precisely the instruments of Jantar Mantar were constructed and how much effort was put in to device the right calculations of astronomical bodies.
It was a proud moment to witness the work of our ancestors and explore in detail - one of the largest observatories ever built.

I could see the beautiful walls of Hawa Mahal from Jantar Mantar itself; and was very excited to visit this picturesque place. 

Coulorful glasses, small windows, multi layer carved structure of Hawa Mahal was a beautiful site to visit.

 

 

I later went to Amer Fort and Nahargarh Fort which is located approximately 10 kms away from the center of Jaipur. 
You can see the Jal Mahal on your way to these forts.


Amer Fort is majestic and is laid out on four levels. It is located high on a hill and overlooks Maota Lake. I choose to walk up to the fort exploring each of the courtyards of this fort. There are many jeeps across the fort; if you want to skip walking and directly reach to the top of the fort.
Amer Fort was very crowded and was not maintained well.

 

After Jaipur, I went to Jodhpur - en-route visiting the famous Ajmer and Pushkar.

 

Ajmer is surrounded by the Aravalli Mountains and you will see mountains in all directions.
The famous Ajmer Dargah Sharif was very crowded and it was hard to find proper parking place.
Nasiyan Ji Mandir was on the way to Pushkar. You can find gold-plated figures of peacocks and elephants from Jain mythology in this beautiful temple.

Ajmer was at distance of 140 kms from Jaipur. And Pushkar was just 17 kms from Ajmer.

 

 

The famous Camel fair, had just finished when I reached the sacred town of Pushkar. The after effects of the camel fair were still seen. There were many highly decorated camel at the road side and the Pushkar market was very colourful with many tourists still lingering around.

I visited the beautiful Pushkar Lake which had many pigeons flying around; making it a perfect place to see the setting sun. There were many devotees taking dip in the sacred water of this lake.
Pushkar derives its name from the flower ("pushpa") falling from Brahma's hand ("kar"). It has the only Brahma temple of India. And this temple was heavily guarded.

 

 

I spent a lot of time wandering at the colourful market of Pushkar. I had lassi with Ajmeri Gulkand and the tea served by the local vendor had a unique flavour.

 

Had to cross Merta City to reach Jodhpur.

Many people stop at Merta City to visit Meera Smarak - which is dedicated to Meera Bai - the princess who gained popularity because of her poems and devotional songs; and her ultimate devotion for Lord Krishna. We skipped stopping at this place and continued our ride.

 

The ride was typical Rajasthani - with sun shining bright and dust swilling all over. The visibility was very low and had to stop the bike many times to get a better visibility.

Jodhpur was at a distance of 224 kms from Pushkar.

 

Jodhpur turned out to be my favorite city on the entire trip. The majestic Mehrangarh Fort is the best fort I have ever seen in my life.
The fort is maintained very well and you can still feel the royalness here. The fort museum houses many artilleries of the great kings that lived in this fort. You can see many canons placed on the fort terrace. 


The fort wall is considered the second greatest wall on the world. From whichever angle you see; you will see the great wall of the fort placed perfectly to protect this great monument.


This fort has witnessed great battle; and you can see many canon marks on the wall. But still this majestic fort has remained intact to tell its great history.

From the fort, you can see the beautiful house/buildings of this city painted in the iconic shade of blue.

 

I also visited the Jaswant Thada - the white marble memorial built beside the scenic lake and rocky terrain.
Enjoyed the Rajathani folk music played by local people on the way.

Umaid Bhawan Palace and Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur is also worth a visit.

 

I later visited the desert town Barmer which was at a distance of 200 kms from Jodhpur.

This remote town away from most of the tourist reach is a perfect place to experience the local Rajasthani desert life.
You will find women clad in colourful clothes and men in white dhothi, kurtha with colourful turbans. Group of ladies carrying pots of water is a common site here.
I visited the quite sand dunes at Barmer; which has no tourist activities; but a perfect place to sit on heap of sand and see the setting sun.

Next day, early in the morning, I visited the remote Kiradu temple. It is a group of ruined temples in complete wilderness. Though there was a sign board that there is a entry fee to see this monument; but I could not find even a single human being anywhere close to these ruins.


The carvings on the walls of Kiradu temples is nowhere close to what you can expect in Rajasthan. Visiting these ruined temples gave me a proof that great rulers had ruled this remote place; and Barmer should definitely have been a buzzing town in the ancient times.

 

Later I started my ride towards the famous Jaisalmer which was at a distance of 156 kms from Barmer.

The ride from Barmer to Jaisalmer was truly spectacular. I could hardly find human beings on these sandy paths; but on the entire ride I could find many wild camels, black bucks, crazy goats and sheeps, donkeys and cows all of them most ON the road.

Though the road was very smooth; one could hardly catch speed because of the wild animals moving across.
It was a very different feeling on riding through the remote deserted land.

 

When you are about to reach Jaisalmer; even before you see the sign board; you can spot the gaint fort of Jaisalmer from very far distance. This fort looks as if it has risen from the desert sands.
Jaisalmer Fort ranks amongst the largest forts in the world. The golden and yellow mixed sandstone offer magical look to the Fort - thus naming Jaisalmer as the "Golden City".
It was a unique experience to visit this fort; as people live inside this fort. I dont mean that royal family members living - the normal local people live inside the house of their ancestors in this fort. 
There are lot of shops, cafes, hotels, houses right inside the fort. 
There is also a separate museum block of the fort - which is the only portion that is maintained well. The entrance fees is applicable only if want to visit this particular block; else rest of the fort is open for everyone all 24 hours.

The city view from Jaisalmer fort was breath taking. I spent hours just sitting at one place on fort top which gave the best city view with the perfect sunset at the background.
There are lot of shopping options inside the fort. I brought a pyramid said to be made out of sea fossils ageing over million years from the sea bottom which later dried up to become the great Thar Desert. I am not very sure of if it is really a fossil stone or not; but I want to believe that it is true.

 

Gadisar Lake, Patwon Ki Haveli, Nath Mal ki Haveli and Salim Singh ki Haveli all of these are at the close distance to the fort.

 

I had a great time visiting the Sam Sand Dunes. It is located 40 kms away from the city and the roads are in very good condition. This place is too commercialized and you will find a lot of options for jeep safaris, camel rides, stay in tent, paragliding and dinner with folk dance here. 
The totally enjoyed the jeep safari on the Thar desert. It was like being on a roller coaster ride amidst the vast desert. 

It was a memorable evening to sit on desert and watch the sun setting into the desert sands.

While on your way to Sam; take a de-route and visit the ghost village of Kuldhar
The famous Kuldhar village was abandoned almost overnight as the entire population of the village mysteriously left their homes overnight and there were no traces of their assistance anywhere. Thus this village has currently acquired a reputation as a haunted site. 
You can only site the ruined walls of this village now; but the aura surrounding the place is truly inviting to visit this place atleast once.

 

The BEST experience of the entire trip was yet to come.
The ride to the remote Tanot village and Longewala post will definitely be one the best rides that I would cherish in my entire life.


Tanot is the farthest end of Western India that a civilian can go. And I was privileged to ride through the roads where there was no civilization and to ride on the road that lead to the International Border of India and Pakistan.
Tanot is about 120 kms from Jaisalmer. En-route at 65 kms you will find Ramgarh village which is the last village where people live. After that for next 55 kms till Tanot, you will not find any settlements.
On the ride from Jaisalmer to Tanot, you will only be accompanied by the vastness of desert, dried up bushes, thorny shrubs, wild camels, peacocks, windmills, and small inhabitant hamlets.

Tanot Village is the last point on that road where an Indian citizen can go without any permit. The International Border Pillar, BP 609,is about 15 kms from Tanot and a permit is required from BSF to visit this post. This permit is usually not granted these days because of the recent activities happening across the border.

I visited the famous Tanot Mata Temple which gained its popularity during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. During this war, Pakistani troops had fired at least three thousands bomb shells, out of which at least 450 shells were fired on the temple. All of 450 shells neither hit their targets nor exploded. Though the temple stood in the middle of that war zone, it stood tall without any damage. The locals and the Indian army personnels consider Tanot Mata to be their saviour and regard this place in high respect.
Even today, you can find the unexploded bombs inside the temple premises.

 

 

Later, I continued my journey to the famous Longewala post. It was like a roller-coaster ride, riding on totally deserted road which continuously moves upwards and downwards; just like the sand dune pattern that surrounds it. This 55 kms ride from Tanot to Longewala was the best ride of my entire trip.
Forget about civilization, there were no animals also on this stretch. It was a just a magnificent ride on the remotest corner of India through the Great Thar desert; running parallelly to the Indo-Pak border.

 

It was a humbling experience to visit the Longewala post; where the fierce 1971 Indo-Pak battle was fought. It was this battle where the 120 brave Indian soldiers strategically defeated the 2000 Pakistani soldiers; who had entered the Indian soil till Longewala post with their 90 tanks. 
At least 37 Pakistani tanks and 138 vehicles/machinery were destroyed or abandoned in the battle; making Longewala the graveyard of Pakistani Tanks. 
Though many tanks are returned to Pakistan; you can even now see some of destroyed Pastikani tanks and trunks lying around in the sand in the exact place where they were left during the war.

I also watched the war documentary played at this post and it was really a proud moment to recollect on how the brave Indian soldier (though less equipped) stood against the largely outnumbered Paskitani troops; and didnt allow the enemy troop to enter into the Indian cities.
The famous "Border" movie was filmed on this war; and sipping tea at the 'Border Cafe' was a very unique experience; that you cannot experience always.

I was very overwhemled visiting this place and the ride through the desert to this remote place made my day perfect.

 

 

On the way back from Longewala to Jaisalmer; I also visited Bada Bagh. It is a place with many cenotaphs and the royal family members of Jaisalmer were cremated here. Many movie scenes have been shot at this picturesque place.

 

 

I later visited Bikaner, crossing Pokhran. Bikaner was at distance of 326 kms from Jaisalmer and the entire stretch of road was under construction and this was the only ride which I didnot enjoy on my entire trip. 

The Junagarh Fort of Bikaner was a huge fort with amazing architecture. There were many small gardens to sit at near the fort complex.
I also visited the Laxmi Mata temple and Jain temple of Bikaner.
Due to time crunch, I skipped visiting Karni Mata Temple which is home to approximately 20,000 black rats.

 


Later we rode back to Jaipur, the final destination to end our trip. The 335 kms ride from Bikaner to Jaipur was on the perfectly laid National highway. En-route you can stop over at Fatehpur and do some sightseeing.

 

I enjoyed the local Rajathani food throughout the trip. My favourite were Dhal Bhatti and Sev Tamatar.


Rajasthan was a perfect holiday destination with deserts, forts, temples, historical tales....

 

 

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