November 2016

Agra Red Fort

Agra.

Agra Fort is the former imperial residence of the Mughal Dynasty located in Agra, India. Originally the fort was built by Lodi but the Mughal under the pretense of renewing the fort tried to get rid of who built it originally. Since then a lot of false history has been attached to this fort. This means once you are inside you see construction types historic elements & periods and different materials which really do not fit together in places. But it is still very beautiful and a must visit place in Agra.


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Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

This is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the South bank of the Yamuna River in the Indian city of Agra and really needs no introduction. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. I was there with the sunrise, which is best time to see the majestic complex. You should spend there at least three hours to see most a of it and to get a good overview what this place really is.


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Kalkutta

Kolkata

This is the place were the British Empire entered into India and the East India Trading Company came to live. At the beginning there was nothing apart from shallow waters and a small fishing village. The British took the place for trading purposes and established a hup. At one time it was the second largest city of the British Empire. And it was the Capital of the Indian Part of the Empire, before the capital was moved to New Delhi.

Stayed there for four nights and went from the Eden Garten Cricket stadium to the Victoria Memorial to Mother Teresas house. Love this place. It's better than its image.


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Makaibari Tea Eco Estate

The Makaibari Tea Estate

This is probably the most talked about and fabled tea garden in Darjeeling area. And there are reasons for that. This is one of the oldest tea gardens in Darjeeling and was the first to establish a factory in the year 1859. This was the first garden in the world that was certified by 'Fare Trade' and the first to appoint women in a supervisory position. And they offer private Homestay’s at villagers homes instated of fancy & expensive bungalows. Also it is now the only tea estate that is still owned by a private family.

Stayed for two nights a at local family home and had strolls around the village the tea plantations.


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Singtom Tea Estate

Singtom Tea Estate

It's currently the oldest tea estate in Darjeeling and offers a rare sense of nostalgia as it takes you back to British planters days of 1850s. Factually it was the Steinthal tea estate which was the first where Darjeeling tea plantation took place for the first time in 1852. Steinthal is a sister tea estate of Singtom.

If you stay at Singtom Resort, you can still see some of the surviving tea bushes from 1852 which were the first to be planted in the Darjeeling hills. I stayed for two nights at main historic bungalow, enjoyed the view and had of course a Factory Tour, Tea Tasting and a walk across the wide areas of the Tea Estate.


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Rabdense Ruins

Rabdentse

This was the second capital of the former kingdom of Sikkim from 1670 to 1814. The capital city was destroyed by the invading Gurkha army and only the ruins of the palace and the chortens are seen here now. This monument has been declared as of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India.

You get there by a 20min walk throughout the rainforest from the carpark. Then suddently the ruins appear and give away a brilliant view at the surrounding landscape. It reminds you slightly of the maya ruins.


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Buddha Park & Ralang Monastery

Buddha Park & Ralang Monastery

A newly built Buddha park. Key is a 130foot high statue The statue was consecrated on 25 March 2013 by the 14th Dalai Lama . Inside the life of Buddha is displayed via large paintings.

About 5km west lies the Ralang Monastery. During my visit there was a 4 week education even start the 24th of October. It was a lively place and somewhat surprising for Buddhist monastery. Of course the praying the, ceremonies, the Tibetans ... all the same... but then there were ones fully quipped with the lasted camera and TV / Video stuff, then they where joking all around, some high fives as well and all really mixed. Never experienced this before.


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Sikkim

Sikkim

Until 1975 it was a monarchy and not really part of India. And it still feels not part of India. You cannot enter without a permit and if you want to go to the north or east of Gangtok, the Capital, your need even more permits. You are not allowed to drive alone and you must be a group of two at least. Sikkim has a reach landscape from jungles, rainforest like places, rivers, waterfalls and the Himalayas in the north with the third highes peak. And like Ladakh it is a Buddhism place . There are monasterys everywhere, same as prayer flags.

Many of tibtitans escaped from China via this kingdom.


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Darjeelings Backroads

Darjeelings Backroads

Once your leave the main city you are greeted by an awesome scenery. Tea plantations are perfectly nestled alongside the hills and there are small roads everwhere you pass along. If you think the city has already the heritage flair, then have a drive through the tea plantations as its just another level. Simply amazing.


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Darjeeling

Darjeeling - the other major English Hilton to the East. At about 2000m it is located in a area of natural beauty. Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest mountain, sets the horizon and from Tiger Hill if your are lucky and the weather is really good your can even see the top of Mount Everest.

The City itself is rundown but if your walk a bit your still can see a glimpse of the heritage and the glorious past. There are some good places to see such as the Tibet Museum, the Mall, the Mountaineering Institute, the St Andrews Church and places like the Joey’s pub or if you send it enjoy a stay at the 125 year old Elgin Heritage Hotel and experience some britishness. And of course there is also tea. A lot of. and the tea plantations are just everywhere around.


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Road to Darjeeling

From Bhaktapur onwards my next major Destination was Darjeeling. But first I went alongside the BP and Manhendra Highway. Such scenic route and not much traffic. A Joyride.


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Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur has the best preserved palace courtyards and old city center in Nepal, and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It was the largest of the three Newar kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley, and was the capital of Nepal during the great 'Malla Kingdom' until the second half of the 15th century.

It’s the best destination in the Kathmandu valley. Not just for quality of the historic buildings but also for the market, the atmosphere, the beauty and there aren’t really cars in the city centre and only some bikes. So it is welcoming change to the noise Kathmandu.


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