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Amritsar Sojourn Euphoria of Alms Giving



It was ages since I had visited Amritsar- the city of Golden Temple, around 15 years back when I started my professional career. After a long time, I decided to visit Amritsar again with my team mates.

The city hadn’t lost a bit of its character, liveliness which was wonderful to see. The warm, helpful nature of the local people and the loud conversations which ‘Punjabis’ (people from North India / Punjab) are known for, fascinates me even now. There is a certain sense of sweetness and camaraderie that you would love in these conversations.

Despite a packed schedule with back to back meetings, I was eager to explore the panoramic beauty of Amritsar. Over a sumptuous breakfast, I wrapped up my important meetings and put on my travel gear to head towards the Holy shrine of Golden temple. The crowning glory of the city and one of the most famous religious landmarks of the country, Golden temple gives you that instant divine feeling the moment you step in. The magnificent architecture and gold covered dome is a feast for the eyes. It sums up the culture & values in its peaceful aura. Popular belief says that the most iconic places help you understand history & mindset of the people like none other. And here I was like many admirers of the Golden temple, immersed in its tranquility.

As I entered the shrine known as ‘Har Mandir Sahib Complex’, the sense of ‘Sewa’ or ‘Serving’ was evident at every step. In traditional Hindu or Sikh culture, you enter a Holy shrine with head covered. Volunteers were offering bandanas, both outside & inside the shrine, which was a blessing in disguise since I missed carrying a stole being in cargos and a tee. It’s usually with me, so felt a bit awkward. At the main entrance there is a Victorian Clock tower or in local terms ‘Ghanta Ghar’ and a small area to wash your feet before entering the holy area. Part of the holy tradition!

Inside the shrine, the atmosphere was divine, vibes so positive bringing peace to my soul. I could feel every heart beat as my head bowed down for a quiet prayer.

Amrit Sarovar or Pool of Nectar at Golden Temple, Punjab

‘Amrit Sarovar’ or ‘Pool of Nectar’ is the highlight reflecting the temples’ mirage in water. Male devotee’s bathe in the holy water of the pool while others sprinkle on their heads as a mark of blessings. Devotees from different cultures, local & global, can be seen in abundance.

Golden temple looks spectacular at night. The lights sparkle up and mesmerize you with its beauty. I just couldn’t miss this experience!

Golden Temple, Punjab

The remarkable ‘Seva Bhav’ (serving mankind) that is displayed by small kids & adults is heartwarming. ‘Sevaks’ are seen offering water across the corners of the temple, cleaning and feeding devotees with utmost pride and willingness.

It was time to head back to the hotel as I was really hungry. Suddenly a ‘Sevak’ turns & tells me “Langar zaroor khake jaana beta” (don’t leave without eating the langar or food). I was fortunate not to miss it as its one of the best parts of visiting the temple. The spiritual experience wouldn’t have been complete without it!

Before leaving, I had a casual conversation with one of the Sevaks who shared some astonishing facts. Langars’ serving upto 100,000 people in day or during auspicious ones, Dining hall seating up to 5000 people at one time, 90% of the staff are volunteers, who do everything from cleaning to cooking to serving minimum 5 times a day. My respect for the sevaks went up even further.

I left the shrine with a sense of fulfillment!

Seva Bhav (serving mankind) at Golden Temple

As I stepped out of the temple, my taste buds got excited for a glass of fresh orange juice. While sipping, the juice seller told me about Jallianwala Bagh in detail and guided me on the route. Conversing with him made me realize I was there for a reason. ‘Seva’ or ‘Serving’ for Sikhs is following the path of their Gurus. They don’t believe in idol worship but follow principles defining spirituality as pious & pure.

Feeding the poor, treating all religions as one and equality are three main pillars of good practice. ‘Vand Chako’(Sharing), ‘Kirat Karo’(honest living) and ‘Naam Japna’(remembering almighty) were the directions of Guru Nanak.

Being a travel explorer, I firmly believe that people, culture and place improve your wisdom, making you a better human being. I was thankful for that jovial juice seller for enlightening my soul further as I moved on to my next destination.

Jallianwala Bagh

What a 360 degree change it was- from the rich, divine experience of the Golden Temple to the nerve-wracking Jallianwala Bagh, famous for the 1919 Massacre. Tragedy is evident in every nook and corner of the place. The place keeps reminding of the atrocity committed on the innocent lives that day. I was consumed by a sense of regret, silence and remembrance while moving around the historic place.

Bullet Marks at Jallianwala Bagh

Bullet marks and plaques on the walls narrate the horror of the day. Tomb stones placed at locations where people were gunned down. Moments of history that you had read in books were in front of your eyes. I had goosebumps all over thinking about the day.

Martyrs Well, Punjab

Martyrs Well from where 120 bodies were recovered.

Martyrs Memorial Site, Amritsar

The memorial site is one of the main stops to pay homage to the martyrs. A minute of silence was my way of showing respect to those lives as I moved back to Amritsar.

My trip wouldn’t have been complete without some local shopping from the nearby market area. Beautiful collection of phulkari dupattas and suits for women was my instant pick for self and family. Local spices, also known as “Warian” is another specialty if you want to taste some spicy home-cooked curry. Other popular products comprise of swords, daggers, karas (metallic bangles) which symbolize Sikh religion and culture.

Golden Temple in Amritsar

Before reaching the hotel, a night-view of the Golden temple was a must see followed by the most delicious food cooked & served by the Guru Sevadars with compassion. I left the temple with a plethora of blessings and fond memories.

An enriching couple of days in Amritsar got me closer to Alms-giving realizing that nothing is more fulfilling than service to mankind.

I signed off my visit with a deep thought:

“Alms giving are not just about few occasions in Life.” It’s about making it a part of our life that will take us closer to God.”

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Top 5 kick off reasons to have a beachy affair in Dapoli, Maharashtra




Saloni Rampal at Beach in Dapoli, Maharashtra

Life is so different at Beaches. The music of tides, footprints in sand, the colorful sunsets in sky and silver lining on the sea all brings tranquility of mind body and soul. I have been a beachy girl all throughout my life and can’t do away with them.

For me given a chance every day should be a beach day. A simple walk bare foot in the sand hearing to sound of tides is like music to my ears.

Sunsets and Sun Rises on the Beach, Dapoli

Over years just sitting and watching sunsets and sun rises on the beach has taught me so much, every sea shell you see has a story.

The piece of that land that you stay on makes you feel warm and cosy yet tides in life makes life meaningful. For me I keep going back to the sea for my heart yearns for a sea and a little cottage just to be.

Beach in Dapoli, Ratnagiri Maharashtra

My next weekend getaway was a yet another beachy affair at Dapoli a small town in Ratnagiri Maharashtra about 250 Kms from Mumbai.
Dapoli has far reaching stretch of beach right from Dabhol in the south and kelshi in the north.

Here’s a perfect sketch of the place and what all it has in store for you to make it a part of your Weekend getaways bucket list.


Romantic Weekend Breaks

1. Looking for some cosy romantic weekend breaks

Its important to keep romance fresh in a relationship. In today’s age and time what’s missing in a relationship is quality time together. Taking short romanticescapdes helps bond couples better.
Do some fun together on beaches, have meaningful conversations watching sunsets and express your love like crazy in warm and cosy resorts by the sea. A perfect concocation for rejuvenating romance in life.

Romantic Beaches In Dapoli

Dapoli offers just that a fine white sand cover and wild breeze. Most popular beaches In Dapoli are from the stretch starting from Murud Harnai to Ladghar.

For sake of romance my pick would be Kolthare Beach, one of the most secluded beaches in Dapoli. They have small resorts to offer accommodation.

Resorts to Offer Accommodation at Kolthare Beach, Dapoli

And for those who like people around the corner Murud Harnai to Ladghar stretch is popular with tourists. There are some of the best resorts and hotels around the same. If you are looking for some beach front resorts then Murud Harnai to Karde is what you should search for.

Family & Friends Wonderful Memories on Dapoli Beaches

2. Short family weekend getaways

Weekend escapades with family & friends create wonderful memories for life.

Be it a sandcastle building competition, chasing the waves or running after baby crabs that come to shores with the waves.

Ladghar Rocky Beach, Dapoli Maharashtra

Ladghar Rocky Beach

A bit of sunbathing and exploring rocks on the beach; a wet and wild walk along the coastal path or a playful sport like badminton –Throw ball on the beach.There is something for the whole family.

The sunsets points at Dapoli are something worth visiting.

Sunsets Points at Dapoli
3. Sea Adventures

Sea Adventures at Dapoli

Dapoli offers watersports and boat rides to arouse your thrilling instincts. You can feel the breeze chasing wild as you parasail in waters with your spouse/ buddies for that wild and wet experience.

Banana Boat Ride at Dapoli

One can enjoy thrilling Banana boat ride. Nothing can be more exciting than riding against currents on an inflatable boat along with your friends for that joyous ride.

Jet Ski rides and other popular water rides like bumper rides are available in Dapoli.

Dolphin watching

Amongst the water sports another rip roaring activity is the Dolphin watching in mid waters. It can cost between 250-1500 Rs for an exclusive ride. Spotting a dolphin is a matter of chance and chances are better early in the March-May season.

4. Architecture is a visual art with stories to be told.

Walking through old monuments often make me feel, old places have soul. There is story there to be told. Unfolding history often makes you richer in your thoughts and beliefs.
Dapoli offers few worth interesting sites to be explored.

Dapoli is abode to some revered temples and forts of Konkan. Popularlised as the Parashuram Bhumi, Dapoli houses a temple of Parashuram at Ade.

Picturesque view of Kadyavarcha Ganpati Temple
Picturesque view of Kadyavarcha Ganpati Temple in Anjarle from a hill top.

Durga Devi temple in Harnai which is one of the most visited temple other than Kadyavarcha Ganpati Temple located in Anjarle.

Ganesh Temple in AnjarleGanesh Temple in Anjarle

Kadyavarcha Ganpati Or Ganesh temple is built on a hill top. The diety “Ujwya Sondecha Ganpati is a wondereous idol with its trunk turned towards its right side. The temple is located in Anjarle ahead of Harnai about 25 kms from dapoli at home turf position offering panoramic view of the surroundings.

Keshavraj Temple

Other temples worth visiting are Keshavraj and Vyaghreshwar temples located in Asud.

Few other historical spots like Panhalekaji Caves discovered in 1970 are filled with exquisite art and impeccable craftsmanship. There are 28-29 budhist caves with inscriptions in Brahmi & Devanagari. Panhalekaji is about 30 Kms from Dapoli

Panhalekaji Caves

Panhalekaji Caves

Kanakdurga Fort near the Harnai port is t in ruins, spread over half an acre there is Lighthouse there. Another fascinating fort is Suvarnadurg Fort on a rocky island about 8 acres. It’s interesting to find the main gate of the fort with carved figures of a tiger, eagle and elephants. There are 15 old guns in the fort. There are Fishing boats available from Harnai port.

5. Conversations with Nature…(Nature walks) and fruits of nature

Nature walks in Dapoli
In all my expeditions one things I never amiss is a good healthy nature walk; for I believe that nature has so much wisdom to offer and restore peace within. And its so well put together by someone that “In every nature walk, one receives more than one seeks”. That’s one thing one should never miss in their soujourns conversations with nature are much more rewarding then our usual conversations with gadgets that are dominating the sad scene today.

Dapoli offers plenty of lush green surrounding by the sea and around for you to just take a troll together with your loved ones or alone.

I spotted no. of Mango fruit orchards and just couldn’t resist plucking few to try the taste of nature. Naturally divine and satifying was my experience. Unadulterated or artificially modified these Alphonso mangoes were to die for. Just like a small child I found myself in my natural candy land relishing my love for mangoes.

“Fruit is but of course nature’s candy” . Dapoli , Ratnagiri is hub to world famous alphonoso mangoes for the season.

Alphonoso mangoes in Dapoli , Ratnagiri

Mangoes here are nurtured with utmost care and deep down knowledge by the people in the trade for generations now. The process is followed with deep down knowledge and nurturing nature with utmost care and love. No wonder why Ratnagiri Mangoes are world class.

Must carry a box of Pure Alphonoes Mangoes from Ratnagiri.

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5 Top Reasons Why Jammu should be in your Travel bucket List




Concoction of History, Food, Culture and Spiritual Abodes.

Jammu, popularly known as a city of temples, is not just a spiritual abode. It’s a destination that offers much more in terms of culture, heritage, food, shopping and history.

Talking about history, the name itself was derived from the ruler and founder of Jammu, Raja Jambulochan. Historically, the roots of Jammu go way back in 14th century B.C.

I have a natural fascination for Jammu & Kashmir’s culture and tradition. What’s most known about Jammu is the fact that it’s a city of temples, the summer capital of Kashmir and the biggest Hindu shrine of Goddess Vaishno Devi is in Jammu.

Most visitors & tourists to this city consider halting in Jammu and then progressing with their onward journey to Maa Vaishno Devi Shrine.

Now that’s like not acknowledging the city at all.

Hence, my intent to cover this destination was very clear; unveil the lesser known facts about the city. Talkfest the place, so next time you’re there, keep a few days dedicated for this humble and beautiful city. And trust me, you will be fascinated with the hospitality that is tough to find in today’s high paced virtual world.

View of Jammu from an AirplaneBird view of Jammu CityJammu City Street Sign Board

Flying to Jammu is always a sheer delight; with breath-taking views of green pastures and snow clad peaks that one can spot on flights, that first land in Kashmir and finally descends in Jammu.

River Tawi in JammuThe city showers simplicity, serenity and solitude in abundance. It is believed that once when hunting on banks of River Tawi, Raja Jambulochan was awe struck to witness a Lion & a Goat drinking water together and later departing on their own ways.

He dropped the idea of hunting, came back to his companions and said that a place where animals lived in harmony and peace was blessed enough to build a palace. This led to origin of the place earlier known as Jambu–Nagar, later Jammu.

One can witness peace, music and ecstasy of nature that’s missing in a city’s hustle and bustle. It’s beautiful to just sit by the banks of River Tawi and meditate with nature, it refreshes your soul and brings tranquillity of mind.

The place is bestowed with natural walking trails up and down hill along with banks of River Tawi that are just so perfect for a healthy morning onset.


Natural Walking Trails, River Tawi

Rock Statues at Bahu Fort & Garden

Temple of Goddess Kali at Bahu Fort & Garden

Bahu Fort & Garden

Beautiful Greenery at Bahu Fort Garden

Family encounters in Bahu Garden & Fort, Jammu

1. Family encounters with Nature

Bahu Fort & Garden referred as Bagh-E Bahu is situated uphill rock face left to the bank of River Tawi. It’s an old fort in the city constructed by Raja Bahulochan about 300 years ago. There is a temple of Goddess Kali also known as Bave Wali Mata along with beautiful gardens, which is now ‘Fort Garden’ for public. One can spot beautiful greenery, overlooking the city. There is a Public Aquarium for kids, numbers of waterfalls and rock statues in the compound.


Sund Panjeeree (Indian Sweets)

Chocolate Barfi

Snack and Dryfruits Shopping, Jammu

Kashmir Art Emporium

Raghunath Bazaar Shopping, Jammu

2. Shopping & Eateries

Not many know that Jammu is a shopper’s paradise. One can find best of woollen wears and apparels, diverse food platters, dry fruits, Indian spices and many other items.

The famous “Raghunath Bazaar” is very popular among the tourists/pilgrims, named after the famous Raghunath temple right next to it.

The market is famous for Snack items, Red kidney beans, Indian spices, Dry fruits, Chocolate Barfi, Sund Panjeeree (Indian Sweets) etc. amongst the locals and even with tourists.

Amritsarian Di Hatti at Raghunath Bazaar and Pahalwan Di Hatti at Gole Market, Gandhi Nagar are popular places to relish these sweet delicacies.
People of Jammu have a sweet tooth and are fond of eating quick bite snacks which is why one can spot food in plenty to savour your taste buds. And trust me some of the finger food is a culinary delight without doubt.

The other popular shopping destination in Jammu is Gole Market which is across Tawi River in Gandhi Nagar locality.

This market is famous for modern shopping including electronics, garments, footwear and other modern accessories.

Raghunath Bazaar Eateries

Kaladi Kulcha (Maish Krej)

Maish Krej in Kashmir

Delicacies to Eat in Jammu

Red Kidney Beans & white steam Rice

Ram Laddoo Jammu has a whole lot of local delicacies that one can savour.

Delicacies which shouldn’t be missed are:

  • Ram Laddoo or Gul Gule made of healthy chickpeas served with Grated Raddish & Mint Chutney.
  • Red Kidney Beans & white steam Rice.
  • Aloo, Chole & Poori from Rawal Pindi Halwai in Jain Bazaar.
  • Kaladi Kulcha popularly known as Maish Krej (in Kashmir). It is an authentic dogra Cuisine and tastes like Mozzarella.

Old City Charm in Jammu

3. Old City Charm

Sometimes I feel, its best that some things don’t change with time, after all it defines our culture and heritage. And some of the old fashioned things like stillness of time, fresh air are hard to beat. Jammu is a perfect case in history offering old charm aura around the city. You can spot places that offer fresh air, sunshine and greenery to rejuvenate your senses; one can also find conventional practices of barbers, tailors, fruit vendors and others. Seeing them so involved in their craft, untouched by technology, excites me enough to try my hands at them to relive history.

The sight of rustic old city charm fascinates me each time and for more than obvious reasons!

In an era of fast-paced city life where everyone is struggling; it’s good to take a break and adopt pace of nature whose secret is patience and solitude. And Jammu is a perfect answer to that.

Raghunath Temple in Jammu

Gurudwara Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Peer Khao cave Temple

Peer Baba Ki Dargah, Jammu

4. Heavenly Abode

Jammu is popularly known as a valley of temples. But what’s lesser known is that Jammu breathes harmony in cultures and nourishes them each day.

The place is an abode to number of spiritual places with few major ones being:

a) Raghunath Temple

Situated in the heart of the city, 130 years old the temple was established by Maharaja Gulab singh, founder of J&K and completed later by his son Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1860 A.D. The temple has no. of saligrams and is dedicated to various deities connected with epic Ramayan. The temple has 7 shrines and a tower each. The main sanctuary is dedicated to Lord Vishnu the eight incarnation of Lord Rama.

b) Gurudwara Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji

One of the historic gurudwara of Jammu situated in Prem Nagar, Old Heritage City. The Sanctum sanctorum of the gurudwara houses a 3-feet long, white coloured marble statue of Guru Nanak Dev Ji which locals believe that Maharaja Pratap Singh had installed. During Singh Sabah Movement, the statues were removed from gurudwara’s, however this one got missed out and thus, remains. The gurudwara was built as a mark of respect to the visit of Guru Nanak sahib. It is said that Guru Sahib stayed here while returning to Punjab via Kashmir.

c) Peer Khao cave Temple

The temple has a Shiva lingam and it’s believed that Jamvant (the bear god) from epic Ramayana meditated here.

One can spot lots of monkeys outside the temple.

d) Peer Baba Ki Dargah

Dedicated to Islam Saint Peer Budhan Ali Shah, Peer baba is most popular with tourists and locals. The legends says the grave belongs to the saint who survived 500 years only on milk. It is said tendering flowers and chaddhar on Thursdays at this place helps in fulfilling ones wishes and desires.



So much is known and written about the shrine that my few lines wouldn’t make a difference. So I rather chose to share the divine bliss and celestial pleasure, I experienced that made my belief in the supreme energy more secure and hearty.

The Call of Mata Vaishno (Goddess Vaishno)

“Chalo Bulawa aaya hai; Mata ne bulaya hai…..Zor se bolo Jai Mata Di, Saare Bolo Jai Mata Di…”

Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine

Its’s often said that one cannot visit Goddess Ambe or famously known as Mata Vaishno Devi till the time the will of the Goddess is there.

I grew up with this saying but never understood or probably felt the impact till recently. I finally got to visit the shrine after 15 years since my last visit and 4 years of futile plans that eventually got ‘Mata’s’ blessings.

They say that people visit when they are either blessed, or they get married or probably their wishes come true. Mine was no less; my humble prayer had been answered and I had pledged that when it does I would pay my gratitude to Goddess. But circumstances didn’t permit me to make it to the shrine.

I waited in vain for almost 4 years till finally Goddess answered my prayer and I was blessed to visit her Darbar.

It was then I realised what the phrase meant and the power behind it.

Quick Facts for Pilgrams

How to Reach Katra

For those who haven’t been to the shrine or it’s been long due, here are few quick facts to plan.

  • Distance

Jammu to Katra is about 50 kms by road. One can reach Katra by car, train or local buses.

  • Katra to Ardh Kuari-7 K.M
  • Ardh Kuari to Shrine: 6 K.M.
  • Shrine to Bhairo Baba Temple – 1.5 K.M.

The total distance is about 14.5 Kms

Shrine Location

Katra is situated at 2500 ft above sea level and Shrine is based at an altitude of 5200 feet above sea level in the hilly terrains of Trikuta Mountains.


One needs to register with Yatra Registration counter (YRC) near Bus Stand Katra. A picture, name and the place you hail from is taken by the authorities. It is ideal to carry your Identity Cards and be fully prepared for any checks and adherence to rules.


Photography is not permitted inside the shrine-hence you would have to excuse me for not providing pics. Best is to carry your cameras and phones which can be safely kept in lockers provided before entering the shrine.

Online Services

The shrine board offers sufficient information for Yatris to plan their visit.

Darshaani Darwzaa

Where there is a will, there is a way….

The Journey starts from Darshaani Darwzaa; one can have a full view of Trikuta mountains. Though my earlier journeys have been on foot both sides, I decided to try if I could still manage it.

I personally believe, “When mind begins to age, physical endurance starts to fall;” for me I am mentally strong and was not willing to give up so I started to walk.

For those who plan to visit the shrine; the Journey till Ardhkuari is steep and dizzy. It’s good to see that there are medical check points for assistance, F&B counters to energise you through the journey.

If covering distance by foot is not something you can manage then there are facilities like Ponies, Porters called ‘Pithhus’ who offer service to either carry luggage or small child. There are buggies or Palkis which are carried by people on their shoulders. The charges are all authorised and even checked with pilgrims at end of their journey to avoid being fleeced.

I was accompanied by my dear buddy and my counterpart who is a photography virtuoso. I was quite impressed with his will as he had just recovered few days from a surgery and was asked to avoid elevation and stress for few weeks.

Walking quite a distance; I started to give up as the roads got narrower, steeper and the elevation started to get on to me. I was feeling surprised and helpless as the route wasn’t new to me but few health issues were restricting this. While my friend too was exhausted for obvious reasons but there wasn’t a single grin on his face.

I felt dizzy and my mind started to convince me that I wouldn’t be able to do this, the whole thought looked dim and I eventually felt tragic. From somewhere, this pony man came and offered to give me a ride. Though I was in no mood to take it, I finally did for the first time in my life. And I am glad I did; we reached Ardhkuari in an hour and the ride was quite breezy and refreshing. I got down and realised that Mata stood with me and strengthened me as the descend had finally begun.

Someone rightly said that the genuine will of a person has that power that it can move things in ones favor. It’s not that I could have not hired a pony myself but the fact that I didn’t even when the exhaustion was taking toll on me and things had started to look dim with that my mind completely going blank.

There are two diversions, one is the old track about 6.5 Kms long and the other is the new one about 6 Kms, all leading to the bhawan. The new track also offers automotive services from Ardhkuari to Bhawan.

But I decided to walk the distance, though it’s not steep as the earlier part but the elevation does make it a bit difficult. I am glad I was able to make it.

Himkoti and Sanjhiichaat in Jammu

From Ardhkuari, the next two main spots are Himkoti and Sanjhiichaat.

Like I said before, one can spot a number of beverage counters but no eateries on this route. So take a break and eat at Ardhkuari.

On this journey, I interestingly noticed these sevaks who offer to put their hand behind your back and push you to walk, offering support to your spine. This truly happens in India only.

Himkoti is another important point in the journey upto the Bhawan that offers beautiful and scenic views of the journey while Sanjhichaat is also popular for Helicopter services. The Helipad is based from here and a prior booking needs to be done as there is an extensive waiting period.

The journey till Bhawan was exhausting, so I decided to freshen up before depositing my equipment’s. There are bathrooms for a quick shower and food eateries too.

Food wasn’t on mind as I just wanted to seek blessings of the divine ‘Goddess’. I freshened up and lined up in the long queue leading to the shrine. The sheer look of the long que made me gloomy as I was due to return back the same day and it was already evening and in hour or so temple would close for almost 2 hours.

While in the queue, with no clue of what was in store for me, I saw a man walking straight up to me and offering me his keys for locker since he was already over with his Darshan. Without wasting any more time, I thanked him and rushed to grab few bags of Prasad in name of friends and family. It was while walking the trail up, I realised that when you can’t put prayers into words, God hears your heart.

Mata indeed had been with me throughout my journey; I had experienced her celestial bliss. And finally my moment had arrived I was right at the beginning of the marbled platform in front of the cave (man-made one).

All that tiredness, exhaustion seem to just vanish as soon as I was in front of the altar. My friend too felt the same.

Mata Vaishno Devi

Internet Source

Finally, we both were in front of goddess, in form of three Holy Pindies manifesting Maa in three forms of Maa Lakshmi; Maa Sara Swati and Maa Kali.

Just few seconds of this glimpse, energized my soul and we came out of the cave.

When I thought finally our journey was blessed, my friend told me that he wasn’t satisfied and wanted to meet Maa once more. The task looked not possible to me owing to security reasons and army arrangements. But Like I said where there is a strong and earnest will; Maa is always there. And yes to my surprise, we took a reverse turn in line, went and requested the security personnel and were taken aback to hear a ‘Yes’.

Their Yes, reinforced my belief that Maa is omnipresent throughout your journey, watches you and your intent.

No matter who you’re, No matter what you’ve done, No matter where you’re, Goddess wants us to come home to her someday, some time in our life because mother never turns her back on children.

On my way back I had tears in my eyes as I understood that mother never turns her back on her children and the only time she does that is for them to hop on.

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Cool Mommies Adventures in Goa




You know you’re a mom when your hobbies include neglecting yourself; never getting your hair right; rushing with wrong colour combinations; picking up your couch cushions from floor thrice a day; day dreaming of a peaceful sleep and repeating the same old excuse for not having time for a facial.
Yet, you are the boss of the house and an awesome super mommy.

Here’s a sneak peak on Why mommies should take solo trips with friends minus family:

Donning a Mommie’s hat to keep home and family together, we often forget that no matter how good we may be at our work, bringing up kids and home 24 x 7 is still a thankless job.

Its when my spirit and energy levels start to dip. I know it’s time to have a mommy vacation.

To have a life-partner who supports your endeavor to take a break and look after children is a boon- I’m blessed to have one. Normally, I plan my solo expeditions with my best friend bearing in mind budgets and my hubby’s work schedules.

It’s the best way to unwind and recharge your inner self. Trust me, it’s a not a luxury but a necessity that one must invest in.Finally it was decided, I was going to GOA on a solo trip with my best friend.

So here we were two gypsy mommies all set for our adventures in Goa.
Aboard the flight, I realized it was excruciating, liberating and remorseful at same time. While I really needed this break, but probably people like me can’t just disconnect from the role that they play 24 x 7.

On the other side,my friend seemed completely chilled and all set to breathe freedom. Well it’s not necessary that two people have same stories yet be the best buddies. I guess opposites attract.

So before we took off, I sent a message to my husband & daughter saying” Miss you both”.

Saloni Rampal Goa trip with FriendsIt was an ordeal to find balance mentally between responsibilities, knick-knack of households and my own needs  for those 45 minutes in the plane.

Finally we landed in Goa. And I switched on my mobile from flight mode with a big smile as my message had the sweetest response I could have received at that moment. The message read “Your kid is my daughter too; don’t worry we shall have fun too”! So sit back and enjoy your holiday”.

Sometimes, I wonder how my better half knows me so well, actually more than I know myself. His words brought me so much peace, comfort & simply relaxed my exhausted muscles and tensed brain.

I suddenly felt disconnected and all set in a new avatar to enjoy & chill.

“Good Times in Goa” had just started.

Good state of mind rejuvenates ones overall health and keeps you on track for the family. While it also gives a chance to the ‘Father’s to bond well with kids and you come back as New person or at least as “You”.

It’s important that the place you choose basis your budget is comfortable & cosy. We opted for a cosy woody resort in North Goa bang on the Calangute Beach, Baga Bardez.

Woody Resort in North Goa

What I admired about the resort were the interiors and small little balcony facing the pool. The balcony turned out to be our favorite as we spent quite a bit of time having coffee conversations. Sometimes conversations like these with your best friend are the only therapy you need.

To fuel our hungry taste buds, we decided to go for some ‘Goan’ food by the beach.

Shacks on the Calangute Beach

The shacks on the Calangute beach are simply mesmerizing and clean making the ambience calm and serene.

While having lunch, we decided our 3 day itinerary which was a combination of food on beaches, visit to few forts & churches that I am particularly fond of and a day full of shopping which is my friend’s all time favorite activity.

Setting our itinerary, we both discovered that going on a solo trip together also requires giving space and freedom to balance each other’s choices and tastes. Hence for us, it was a combination of tastes wisely bifurcated on the time we had in hand.

We hit for some beachy affair and post that it was time for some action- girl’s favorite sport- “shopping spree”.

Shopping in Goa

We hopped in to quite a few outlets, conversing & chit-chatting which reminded me of my college days and shopping sprees unlike mommies discussing kids shoe sizes and how fast they grow up.We had a great time!!

Night life in Goa is equally mesmerizing.

Night life in Goa

The beachy girls that we are, dinner was bound to be at one of the shacks with live music and dance. We relaxed on lazy bamboo chairs, sipping our mocktails and enjoying lavish sea food. And how could we miss the gypsy fun of hair beading, a must do.

Forts and Churches in Goa

Next morning after a filling breakfast, we headed to my favorite expedition, forts and churches in Goa. On way, while we spotted lots of churches. I discovered that Goa is abode to a lot of temples too.

If you are someone who admires or loves to explore history, then one must visit Bom Jesus Church in Old Goa.
 Alas! What a magnificent Church it is; truly a world heritage site and a breathtaking example of Borque architecture.

It’s called Bom Jesus meaning Good Jesus or infant Jesus to whom it’s dedicated.
The main facade has letters HIS engraved which means JESUS in Greek.

Bom Jesus Church in Old Goa

It’s a huge church inside, with two main chapels, a main altar and sacristy besides a choir inside. Large rows of pews add to the church’s grandeur.

After spending some time back in history,we went into some more frenzy. I am not too much of a bollywood movie buff but some iconic movies do make me Filmy (Movie addict).

Fort Aguada made me nostalgic, best known for being the backdrop to 3 best friends in one of the most popular buddy flicks in Bollywood- “Dil Chahta Hai”. Sounds cheesy but no harm indulging in something dramatic once in a while.
It’s a beautiful 4 km drive from Sinquerim beach and can be approached via vehicles, the road is surrounded with trees, there is another 2 km foot path but is a slightly elevated terrain.

Fort Aguada

The Fort looks majestic and its grandeur justifies the rich history. Acknowledged as the most prized and crucial fort of Portuguese, the fort is spread over the entire peninsula on the south western tip of Bardez. It was built strategically to be used as one of key defence against Portuguese and Marathas.

Saloni Rampal at Fort Aguada

We trolled over the upper deck of the fort; the light house stands tall as if still guiding the ships. Interestingly, in the initial days, it used to emit light once in 7 minutes and then it was changed to emit light forming an eclipse every 30 seconds and finally the practice was abandoned in 1976.

We were trying to recreate that moment in the Fort, feeling young and kid dish but who wants to grow up anyways.  Like Peter Pan says “Never grow up”.

Finally, we headed back to our hotel and crashed in bed. Mommies were tired indeed!! An hour of soundless sleep was good enough to put the mommies back in action.

It was time again for our favorite activity “Shopping”.
We were told by the hotel staff that one who comes to Goa on weekends especially on Saturday, must venture at Arpora Saturday Night Bazaar. I must confess they were right.

I won’t talk much rather let my pictures do the talking. A bit expensive for few things but it is a must visit for sure.

Street Markets on Weekdays & Weekends in Goa

Goa is heaven for shopaholics; what’s interesting are the street markets on weekdays & weekends that offer a lavish array of handicrafts, clothes, food, artifacts, paintings and a lot more. These markets are not just confined to locals but to foreign nationals who stay on long hauls in this city.

No wonder, Goa offers Anglo-Indian lifestyle.
Few other markets that top the charts are Anjuna Wednesday Flea Market, Calangute Market, Baga Night Market (Saturdays), Margao Market, Tibetan Handicrafts Market.

Need I say more; see it to feel & experience it.

Markets in Goa

All good things come to an end; it was time to head back home, fresh and energetic. I had mixed feelings; I guess that’s how mommies DNA are made of. I did bid Au revoir to Goa with my gypsy mind already wandering over my next solo trip.

To all those mommies out there, what I have learnt from my solo adventures is that “Investing in yourself and taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your family”.

Top 10 thumb rules one should follow on women solo trips; doesn’t show or prove that you are old fashioned, coward or not adventurous but I believe in enjoying and being safe.

Well for both of us, adventure was definitely on our mind but we also did have our rules in place.

Rule # 1; Best to hire authorized city prepaid taxi service.
Rule # 2: Book family hotels in popular locations in city rather than remote & cut-off locations.
Rule # 3. Walk most places while exploring and use local, authorized transport then hitch-hiking.
Rule # 4. Buy your own food and drinks while making new friends.
Rule # 5. In Pubs & Clubs, avoid disclosing too much information about yourself. Having a good time doesn’t require you to be agony aunts & narrate sorrow tales to acquaintances over a few drinks.
Rule #6. Being a Mommy doesn’t bar you from wearing a sexy beach outfit but what’s the harm in wearing a modest one when alone.
Rule # 7. Adventure activities are fun and a must on holiday but one can avoid the ones that are risky.
Rule No. # 8. Best to carry a back pack and carry your valuables with you.
Rule No. # 9. Avoid night outs with strangers- moderate late nights are fine.
Rule No. # 10. Always keep local helpline nos. handy and feeded in your mobile. Carry fully charged mobile phones and power banks in your bag to be connected always. GPS and location tracking should be always on a switch on mode.

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