We are all too familiar with the must-do trip to Taj Mahal (epitome of love) in Agra or the wildlife safari in Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. However, even the seasoned travelers among us miss out on some truly breathtaking locations within India. For instance, Goa has become a byword for the booze, beaches and partying but few know that it also offers a dolphin cruise which is exciting for the old and the young alike (attention those celebrating new year’s in Goa).
At Tripoto, we came up with the idea of finding one unique experience from each state in India that would delight and surprise you in equal measures. This blog post contains one must have experience in each state curated from over 50,000 travel stories shared by the Tripoto community.
In the first part of the series, we cover the Northern and Western states starting with the Paradise on Earth: Jammu and Kashmir.
1: Gurez in Jammu and Kashmir
Gurez valley, at a distance of 140-km from Srinagar, is a hidden gem in J&K. Here is what Munish has to say about it:
“A spontaneous, unplanned solo trip to Srinagar took me further to Gurez which was nowhere on my mind when I set sail. And to my fascination, it is one of the beautiful amalgamation of mountains, valley and a river. Gurez is a valley deep located in the high Himalayas, about 86 km from Bandipore/Bandipura and 133 km from Srinagar in northern part of J&K. “
Whether you want to trek or just lie low, Shoja is a place to be in the dense mountains of Himachal Pradesh. Apporv Ahlawat tells us about his discovery:
“Shoja is a place that one usually finds out about through word of mouth. A small village that offers the best that nature can give you (with tables and chairs made of tree trunks) is often ignored by the Kasol-loving crowd. A drive in the densely covered valley, snow covered trees and a beautiful guesthouse with small stream, Shoja is a perfect weekend retreat. Trek up to Jalori Pass, that is 5 km from Shoja, and all you see is a sheet of white covering the entire area.”
3: Pul Kanjiri in Punjab
Between Amritsar and the Wagah border lies Pul Kanjiri with a wealth of history. Read this informative account on the city from Sara.
“From the Attari Station, before visiting the Wagah border, I visited Pul Kanjiri, a historical site that hasn’t been given it’s due share of publicity that it deserves. This fascinating and charming site is based on one of the numerous legends from Mahraja Ranjit Singh’s time.
The legend states that a young Muslim dancer (Punjabi word Kanjiri for concubine) Moran, hailing from Lahore, once was on her way to dance at the Maharaja’s Baradari, her sandal fell into the water channel on the way. The piqued dancer refused to dance until a pul (bridge) was built, hence the place became popular as Paul Kanjri. In fact, what is interesting about this site is that the Pakistan border is less than 2 acres away, with absolutely no hoards of people swarming the area, unlike the Wagah Border.”
4: Khuri Dunes in Rajasthan
A stopover in the middle of the seamless Thar desert is a perfect place to stay still. Sanjay Bhattacharya captures the serenity of the place with this post:
“After leaving Lodurva we started driving further west with no specific destination in mind. After driving around for 40 km we eventually saw two mud houses hidden in the desert. The owner of the mud houses arranged for us to spend the night at the houses.
Once night fell we were enveloped in eerie silence and absolute darkness. We just lay down and gazed at the desert sky. The stars shone nice and bright and felt close enough to touch. We spent the night just lying there lost in our reverie until sleep came to us.”
5: Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh
Temples, erotic art and and beautiful carvings are aplenty at the Khajuraho temple. Take a look at Ram Kumar’s detailed account of the site:
“Khajuraho is a wonderland of 85 magnanimous temples built by Chandela Rajputs. Life in every form and mood has been captured in stone. The much talked about erotic art comprises only 10% of all the sculptures. The primary focus of the temple art is day to day events, women admiring their body, applying sindoor, droplets of water on sur sundaries, people merry making, men marching to war, love marks left behind post an intense love making session.
Be sure to pay close attention to the carvings as they all have a story to tell. One such story is of a naughty elephant among a group of elephants who is not able to keep his eyes off a couple indulged in an act of love.”
6: Shree Chehar Mataji Temple in Martoli, Gujarat
The legend and beauty of the Shree Chehar Mataji Temple in Martoli is aptly described by Yogesh:
“Shree Chehar Mataji Temple in Martoli is built of gold from inside and is 900 years old. It is said that once there was a “bhandara” (feast) in the temple in which people were fed with ‘laddus’ (a round Indian sweet). However, the laddus prepared on that day were not enough for the very large crowd.
The priest instructed to cover all the laddus with a piece of cloth of the goddess, and take out laddus from below it and distribute it to people. Even after everyone was well fed, there were laddus left. Five of those laddus were wrapped up and hung above the sculpture of the goddess. This temple also gives food to whoever walks in, three times a day and seven days a week.”
7: Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves in Maharashtra
Myron talks about the magnificence of Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves in this travelogue:
“We all have read about Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves from our school textbooks or at least heard about them from our peers. There are so many tourist locations in Maharashtra itself, but none of them are as much spoken about as these two World Unesco Heritage Sites. Both these beautiful locations are so immense that you will need a day for each.
There are countless caves, structures, sculptures, stone carvings and paintings(only at Ajanta Caves) which are centuries old. As you go about these sites overwhelmed, spare a thought for all those sculptors and artisans who made these intricate designs with their bare hands and basic tools back then.”