Thursday 27 June 2013

Full Fare Airlines- Why Should I Fly Them?

Indian Airlines and Jet Airways are the two full fare airlines of India. Now as a conscious budget traveler I look for low fare rather than anything else in a domestic flight. And with so many comparison sites coming up finding low fares is a bit easier. Though because of the high numbers of websites it also sometimes feels like a very frustrating exercise.

How do you pick up your airlines?

I have experience of flying both with Indian Airlines and Jet Airways.  But the honest verdict for a 2 hour (two and a half hour most for a domestic flight) flight is that I neither care for the food nor entertainment for this short duration. These days Delhi Airport (from where I frequently fly) has decent eating options so I don’t care whether the airline serves a meal on board or not.  I have never been a frequent flyer so the reward programs also don’t interest me.

The one thing I look out for in an airline is on time performance. And in that case I prefer Indigo. I am not sure if their record is really better or if it is their advertising but Indigo has my attention when it comes to on time performance.

How did I end up flying Jet and Indian Airlines still? It has happened to me quite more than once that the cheapest fare that I found via comparison sites was on Indian Airlines. Then there used to be some routes, and there are still some, where only Indian Airlines cover the destinations. So Indian Airlines it was! I personally never had a bad experience with them but when I read the news of their pilots getting locked out with air hostesses in charge of the cockpit I really get scared. Still the allure of cheap fares have made me fly Indian Airlines in the past and maybe I will fly with them in the future too. With Jet is has been always on business, when someone else booked the ticket.

What do you think? How do you pick up your airlines?

Monday 24 June 2013

The Clock Tower of Hoshiarpur

Hoshiarpur is a sleepy little town in the north-east part of Punjab bordering Himachal. From the tourism point of view it has few Gurudwara's. I also noticed it has a colonial building used as a library and the Hoshiarpur Ghantaghar.

Hoshiarpur Ghantaghar

A ghantaghar means clock tower and one can see clock towers in several colonial towns of India and Pakistan made by the Britishers. Some of the clocks still function in some of these clock towers which I have seen! The shape of all clock towers vary from one place to another. In Hoshiarpur it has been made like a gate under which vehicles can pass whereas in some places these are like towers functioning as roundabouts.

Hoshirapur Clock Tower with Hooter

This Ghantahgar like others is also in the centre of a market but what spoils the view is the electric wires hanging haphazardly. On top of the clock tower is an ancient hooter siren (which I am sure does not work and has somehow also lost its relevance over time) which used to alert the workers about the start and finish time of their daily work in the factories/offices.

Friday 21 June 2013

Where Men Win Glory

When I was browsing the Amazon to look for some book to buy I found Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer. Now I have read several of his books on adventure and some on unusual topics like Mormon fundamentalism in Under the Banner of Heaven and the Three Cups of Deceit. Therefore, without going much into details I ordered the book.

When I received the book I found that it had nothing to do with mountaineering. It is about an American - Pat Tillman - who was a National Football League player when the bombings of the Twin Towers happened in 9/11 and out of idealism and patriotism leaves a very promising football career and a multi-million dollar contract to join the elite Rangers of the American Army in 2002. Just two years later though in Afghanistan he is killed in ‘friendly fire’ (when you are mistakenly killed by your own people) though the army hides the fact and makes him out to be a hero in front of the American public.

The story then takes you back to when he was born in 1972. Though till the 9/11 bombings he was not related in anyway to military but the author runs a simultaneous story of the situation developing in Afghanistan as Pat grows up at home. You come to know how the al-Qaeda, Mujaheddin and the Taliban became powerful and strong over the years and not only controlled Afghanistan but also the border areas of Pakistan as well with full support from the ISI.

The book also delved in detail about what happened to Jessica Lynch when she was moving with her convoy in Iraq and was captured and afterwards the forces rescued her. The story circulated was that she fought valiantly against the Iraqi forces which she refuted and said she never fired a single shot and was in fact knocked unconscious when her vehicle crashed. Krakauer also tells the story about the Battle of Nasiriyah in Iraq where again 18 marines were killed in friendly-fire when the American Air Force bombed its own men by mistake.

The books picks pace after Tillman reaches Afghanistan and the last part of the book is gripping. However, some of the escapades of Tillman in the earlier part of his life seemed irrelevant in the book and the book could have been more interesting with it being 100 pages shorter than the current 383 pages.

Monday 17 June 2013

Sky Ride - Grouse Mountain, British Columbia, Canada

In this small 84 seconds video you will soar above the clouds, reach above the tree lines and reach the snow capped Grouse mountains.

Sky Ride - Grouse Mountain, British Columbia, Canada

Grouse mountains are in British Columbia, Canada and the major advantage is that you can reach from sea level to the snow capped mountains for skiing and other sports in just a few minutes.

Also read - 

Thursday 13 June 2013

Garud Chatti Temple, Rishikesh

Garud Chatti temple is on the Neelkanth road near Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. Next to the temple is the path leading to the beautiful Garud Chatti Waterfalls in the Rajaji National Park.

Garud Chatti Temple, Brahampuri

Though the temple is very small but what I liked about the temple were the reflections created in the water body that encircles the temple from three sides. The water has been brought by making channel higher up from one of the Garud Chatti waterfalls itself.

Garud Chatti temple  & its reflection in water

While I was looking at the temple and clicking pictures there was hardly anyone there and the temple was a picture of serenity. But then all of a sudden I noticed a group of locals approaching by foot and there was a big crowd that gathered at the temple.

Devotees approach the temple to the accompaniment of music

The devotees marched to the accompaniment of local music that was pleasing to the ears. The instruments included dhols and even bagpipes.

Devotees throng the Garud Chatti temple

The temple as the name suggests is made for the devotees of Garuda, an eagle like mythical bird that was the mode of transport of Lord Vishnu, a Hindu God.

The reflection of Garud Chatti temple and the hill

Once the devotees left, the temple was again a picture of serenity.

Also read:
Garud Chatti Waterfalls
Neergarh Falls: Rishikesh

Sunday 9 June 2013


Virasat-E-Khalsa is a museum located in Anandpur Sahib very close to the Keshgarh Sahib Gurudwara. The museum showcases the journey of Sikhism and the Khalsa panth. It was made to commemorate 500 years of Sikhism and 300th anniversary of Khalsa. Earlier it was called the Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex.


The construction started in 1999 and was finished in 2011. Main architect of the building is Moshe Safdie and the museum has been designed by the National Institute of Design, Ahmadabad. The architecture of the museum is impressive from the outside and is pleasing to the eyes. Three sides of the building is surrounded by an artificial water body reflecting the beautiful building. One can take refreshments also at the cafeteria which is in the western part of the complex. The western part also houses the library and an auditorium. It is connected with the main building by a bridge that merges well with the overall architecture of the place.

Cylindrical Shafts- Virasat-E-Khalsa

There has been some thought given for persons with disabilities as there is a lift to go up and also there are wheelchairs available inside if one needs free of charge. However, the wheelchairs need to be provided right at the car parking area itself.

The Western Complex and the Bridge of Virasat-E-Khalsa

Though I was impressed by the exterior and inside also the building was air-conditioned I was disappointed by the museum itself as instead of finding a real museum what I found inside was themes painted about the life of Punjab and Punjabis with lighting effect with the background of loud music. Though some tourists liked it I found it to be too kitsch. There is a audio commentary available in Punjabi, Hindi and English but when I asked for a headset with English commentary I could not get one. Only when we protested they produced two headsets with English commentary.

Flower Petals- Virasat-E-Khalsa

But whatever disappointment inside was forgotten by the overall experience of the place which is worth a visit at least once.

The museum is open from 8 AM to 8 PM on six days - it is closed on Mondays. Also it remains closed on the three national holidays plus Dusshera and Diwali. Photography inside the museum part of the building is not allowed.

Also read - Keshgarh Sahib

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Water Tank Themes in Punjab

If you go to Punjab, be it the urban or the rural areas, you are bound to notice the interesting themes and shapes used in either making the overhead water tanks or just for decoration purposes.

A Water Jug

Though I have noticed these water tanks in urban Punjab for the past several years but I was surprised when recently I was visiting some villages I found them in the rural households as well. The water jug shows the importance of water in the rural lifestyles of Punjab.

Two oxes

So also are the oxen ubiquitous in the agriculture dominant Punjab even if most people nowadays use tractors and thrashers for cultivation purposes.

A Whiskey Bottle

And how can one not find a whiskey bottle as a theme in Punjab! After all it is widely known that Punjabis have a huge capacity to drink large amounts of hard drinks. The Patiala Peg is a term coined for an unusually large peg of whiskey. There is also a joke (it is a joke only - no means to verify the statement!) that in India maximum number of English speakers before 8 PM are in the state of Kerala but after 8 PM maximum number of English speakers are in Punjab!

Football Water Tank

Punjab is also known for its sports culture and there are several factories which produce sports goods in Ludhiana and Jalandhar. The National Institute of Sports (NIS) is also there in Patiala. So football as a theme for an overhead water tank also is very commonly seen.

Interesting themes for water tanks & housetops

I saw these interesting themes being made in one of the villages. All these are made from cement. The themes included, among others, birds, woman carrying a pitcher of water, lions, umbrella, snakes, oxen and even Statue of Liberty!

Sunday 2 June 2013

Gates of Ranthambore Fort

The Ranthambore fort is situated amidst the tiger sanctuary and is well protected by seven gates – Navlakha Pol, Hathi Pol, Ganesh Pol, Andheri Pol, Suraj Pol, Delhi Pol and Sat Pol.

Navlakha Pol

The gates or Pols as they are called in Rajasthan are in sucession to one another. The first one is the Navlakha Pol.

Ganesh Pol

In case one of the gates was conquered by the enemy the inhabitants use to fall back and defense strategy was concentrated on the next gate.

Hathi Pol with the Head of the Traitor

Most of the gates have strong huge nails embedded in the gates so that in case the enemy was using the elephants to tear down the gates then the elephant would not be able to attack due to these huge nails. The Hathi Pol is specifically named in reference to this.

Andheri Pol

Next to the Hathi Pol there is a statue of the traitor and the story goes that the king got it installed there to remind the people of the consequences to be meted out to the traitors. There was a tradition that people use to throw stones on this statue while passing along the Hathi Pol.

Leading from Andheri Pol

The fort along with its gates are being maintained by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). This fort has been built in the 5th Century and despite utter neglect still stands tall surrounded by beautiful water bodies and jungle.

Unnamed Pol?

This last gate is next to the Dargah Kazi Peer Janab Sadrud-Din on one side and a pond on the other side.

Also read - 
Ranthambore Fort
Ranthambore Fort - Places of Worship
Ranthambore National Park