October 14, 2013

Quote of the Post: "This holy shrine is a miraculous place for many devotees who come to visit from all across the world." - Quote about Ajmer-e-Sharif Dargah by Sachin Kumar Gupta

During our one day trip to Ajmer and Pushkar from Jaipur, we visited first Pushkar and it was then time to visit Ajmer. This place added value and unique experience to my travel tales in India. Ajmer is 132 kms. away from Jaipur and 198 kms. from Jodhpur. Ajmer is also the base for visiting Pushkar which is 14 km away. The best time to visit Ajmer is between October and March. Today, Ajmer is a popular pilgrimage centre for the Muslims as well as Hindus. Major attractions for visitors of Ajmer are Ajmer-e-Sharif Dargah, Adhai-Din-Ka-Jhonpra (two-and-a-half-day mosque), the Ana Sagar Lake, the Taragarh Fort, Daulat Khana, Daulat Bagh, and the Nasiyan Jain Temple.
Anasagar Lake Ajmer
The first to visit was "Ana Sagar Lake", while coming back from Pushkar. It is a large artificial lake named after Anaji Chauhan. The nearby area is developed with the help of local people. The Baradari and the adjoining parks are the picnic areas of city and favorite outing spots. We saw many people parking their vehicles nearby and bathing at different spots. Our driver stopped at the parking area for sometime, and gave us chance to take a look to this lake. To be frank, the lake is not up-to-the mark, and need to be maintained.


Then we approached to Ajmer-e-Sharif, famous for the Dargah Sharif-tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, which is equally cherished by all religions. It is the landmark of Ajmer and one of the holiest of Muslim shrines in India which is worshiped by all people in India. Very few people know that Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti was a Sufi saint from Persia, made this place his abode. Mughal King Humayun completed the construction of the shrine. Emperor Akbar made an annual pilgrimage to Ajmer. Our driver showed us the way to Dargah, a narrow, crowded street and 15 minutes walk through market.
Mughal Emperors Akbar and Shah Jahan have built mosques in the complex. The place is divided into multiple courtyards. The saint's tomb is in the center of the second courtyard and the actual tomb inside is surrounded by a silver railing and partly by a marble screen. The tomb is of marble and the dome is gold plated. 
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti - Ajmer Sharif Ajmer
Timings: 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Winters) and 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Summers)

The aroma of incense sticks (Agarbatti) has a mesmerizing effect on the devotees. The mystic atmosphere inside the holy shrine is suffused with serenity, sanctity and spirituality. As you enter the Dargah courtyard, you see two massive 'boilers', meaning cauldrons. There are many miracles (Karamaat) that strengths the belief of people in Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin in Ajmer. Modern science and logic have no place in the hidden calculation and determination of miracles. 
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti - Ajmer Sharif Ajmer
There is an unending stream of devotees to the shrine throughout the year but it becomes live when millions of devotees throng the shrine during the Urs fair. Sufis and believers converge from all over India and abroad, as it is believed that those visiting the shrine during Urs receive special blessings of the saint. It is said that big celebrities visit this place, from time to time, to make a wish. 

Some important points to remember before visiting Ajmer-e-Sharif Dargah:

*Park your vehicle near to the Dargah market area as people charge on hourly basis. You should leave your high end cameras in your vehicle only.
*The railway station is indeed at a 10 minutes walking distance (1 km) from Ajmer Sharif. You can skip taking an auto.
*It is customary to cover your head while inside the complex. Remember to carry a skullcap or a scarf. The skull-cap is on sale in the colorful market just outside the Dargah. 
*It is also customary to make floral offerings, mainly of roses, incense sticks (Agarbatti) and sweets that are locally available. We took our offering from near the main gate, where we left our shoes and slippers.
*Photography is not allowed inside the complex, but you can just take from outside the entrance. As we were in the group of 6 having SLR and other stuff, so entered in group of 3. 
*Everyone has to walk bare foot inside the main gate, It also helps to keep the place clean. 
*Put off your shoes, slippers and camera outside the Dargah from where you purchased the offerings.
*There is a water tank inside where you can clean your hands and feet before entering the main shrine.
*Listen the blissful Qawwali at Shrine in Ajmer e Sharif Dargah.
*As custom, tie the thread to the jali as per your wish. When you come back again and untie the knot if your wish comes true.
*Don't let people follow you, who ask for money at time to time. 
*Ajmer Dargah Bazaar which offers some amazing articles which can be taken back home as a souvenirs of the city.
*For many, The Dargah Bazaar Ajmer is one of the best ways to enjoy the Bazaar Ajmer which is always a great experience.
*If you are visiting Ajmer, ask your driver to drive to nearby must visit Jain Temple.
Soniji Ki Nasiyan - Jain Temple Ajmer

Soniji Ki Nasiyan - Jain Temple Ajmer

Soniji Ki Nasiyan - Jain Temple Ajmer
Soniji Ki Nasiyan or Ajmer Jain Temple:
Entrance Fee: INR 10.
It is another must visit place in Ajmer, My search helped us to enjoy best of Ajmer in a day. Soniji Ki Nasiyan is an architecturally rich Digambara Jain temple. The main chamber, known as the Swarna Nagari "City of Gold", has several gold-plated wooden figures, depicting several figures in the Jain religion. We took too many photographs inside this place. After that we were on our way back to Jaipur.

October 9, 2013

Quote of the Post: "Witness the holy pilgrim place, its colour, lake, temples, ghats and magical fairs, hosted at time to time." - Quote about "Tirth Raj Pushkar, Ajmer" by Sachin Kumar Gupta

The holy town Pushkar is situated in Ajmer district in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Pushkar is one of the oldest existing cities of India. Pushkar has become a place of Hindu pilgrimage because of its holy Pushkar lakePushkar in Sanskrit means blue lotus flower. Hindus believe that the gods released a swan with a lotus in its beak and let it fall on earth where Brahma would perform a grand yagna. The place where the lotus fell was called Pushkar. It is derived from word 'Pushpa' means flower and 'Kar' means hand. It is often called "Tirth Raj" – the king of pilgrimage sites – and has in recent years become a popular destination for foreign tourists as well.


It is 14 km away from Ajmer and 140 km from Jaipur. It is one of the five sacred dhams (pilgrimage site) for devout Hindus. Most of the people visiting Jaipur, take one day trip to Ajmer and Pushkar, so did we. It was quite a smooth drive from Jaipur via KishangarhIt was a bit cloudy when we reached Pushkar. Once we reach there, our guide explained two stories about this place:

First, According to Hindu theology, it was formed by the tears of Lord Shiva which is believed to have shed after the death of his wife, Sati. The story goes that when Sati died, Lord Shiva cried so much and for so long, that his tears created two holy ponds – one at Pushkara in Ajmer in India and the other at Ketaksha, which literally means raining eyes, in Sanskrit. 

Second, The story goes that Brahma wanted to perform the yagna at the most auspicious time but his consort Savitri whose presence at the yagna was vital for its performance kept him waiting. Irritated by this Brahma married Gayatri, a milkmaid. Savitri on seeing someone else in her place was infuriated and cursed Brahma that he would be forgotten by people on earth and never worshiped. She relented on pleas from other gods that he could only be worshipped in Pushkar; hence there are very rare Brahma temples elsewhere in the world. 


Based on this story, you can see many framed photos of lord Brahma, being sold at this place. The most famous among all 1000+ temples, is the Brahma Temple, built during the 14th century CE. Very few temples to Lord Brahma exist anywhere in the world. 
As per wiki info: Other temples of Brahma include Bithoor in Uttar Pradesh, India; Khedbrahma in Gujarat, India; village Asotra near Balotra city of Barmer district in Rajasthan; Uttamar Kovil (one of the Divya Desams) near Srirangam, Tamil Nadu; Mother Temple of Besakih in Bali, Indonesia; and Prambanan in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. 


Lakes and Ghats: It is famous for its ghats at Pushkar Sarovar (Pushkar Lake). One must take a dip in this holy lake. Legend has it, that this lake was dedicated to Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe when a lotus dropped from his hand into the vale and a lake emerged in that place. Pushkar Lake which is considered sacred, has 52 ghats where pilgrims descend to the lake to bathe in the sacred waters. There we saw many pigeons flying from one temple to another temple, and relaxing in the shadow and some enjoying the 'food' offered to them. 
Important Note: 
  • Photography of bathing pilgrims in holy lake is strictly prohibited.
  • Footwear has to be removed 30 feet away from bathing Ghats of the holy lake, no footwear at the stairs.
  • Take care of your camera, valuables and goods.
*Places to see in Pushkar: Pushkar has many temples. Most of the temples are very old and some of them were rebuilt. 
Jagat Pitta Shri Brahma Temple: The most important temple in Pushkar is the Temple of Lord Brahma, one of the holy trinity of Hinduism. The temple enshrines a life-size idol of Lord Brahma.
Savitri Temple: This temple that is located at the top of the Ratnagiri hill, which is dedicated to Savitri, the wife of Lord Brahma. The temple houses a statue of Goddess Savitri. It takes 1 hr 30 mins to walk from Brahma Temple. It gives a panoramic view of the lake and surrounding sand dunes.
Varaha Temple or Shri Nrisingh Temple: This temple is to God Vishnu. It is one of the most visited temples in Pushkar city. It is said that Lord Vishnu gave a visit to this area to kill an atrocious demon Hirnayaksha.
Temple of Rangji (New and Old) or Shri Vaikunthnathji
Gurudwara Singh Sabha 
Mandir Shri Chaar Bhuja Ji: From the front, you can see peepal's leaves. 
Apteshwar Mahadev temple
The Sri Sawai Bhoj Temple
Man Mahal


Fairs and Festivals in Pushkar:
  • Pushkar Camel Fair (November)
  • Nagaur Fair
  • Tejaji fair
  • Blue Lotus Festival (February)
Enjoy the wonderful camel ride tour: Camel ride is very famous here, People come here during festive season to roam around the country side.
A visit to Ajmer and Pushkar town from Jaipur by an Indica or Ambassador taxi would cost about Rs 2,500. Expect rates to go up considerably in the high season. In the market area, you can see enjoy many colorful shops and purchase souvenirs. Ajmer is the nearest tourist attraction that lies outside the city boundaries of Pushkar.

October 2, 2013

Quote about the Post: "A world class immersive theme park where imagination and rides have no limits, and stories come alive" - Quote about ADLABS Imagica Theme Park near Khopoli off Mumbai-Pune Expressway by Sachin Kumar Gupta

It was Saturday morning when we started from Pune as per plan. Thanks to the team - Dnyaneshwar, Prem Kumar, Paresh, Vikram, and Vinod for organizing and making this successful. This world class theme park was inaugurated in April 2013. By next year there is plan for a hotel and water theme park to be up and running. Now a days, people are bored of walking to malls and routine markets, they need something different; this place certainly is a nice option. The theme park features, well planned 21 original attractions, including a ride based on the Bollywood film Mr. India, India's biggest roller coaster, and a 300-room hotel and water park.
Adlabs Imagica - Imagica Capital

Adlabs Imagica - India's biggest roller coaster
Adlabs Imagica is an alternative world, which celebrates unique way of storytelling. Adlabs Imagica is India’s first and only theme park of an international scale and standard in the sub continent, and is spread across 80 acres of land. Welcome to the world of Universal Studios and Disneyland of India. The centerpiece 'Imagica Capital' is replica of famous Disneyland within the park. If you have been to Universal Studios or Disneyland, you are bound to compare or correlate the attractions here. The theme park has a unique Indian flavor to it. Its rides are mostly inspired by Indian folk tales and its culture.


Adlabs Imagica Address: 30/31, Khopoli - Pali Road, Off Mumbai-Pune Expressway, Sangdewadi, Khopoli, Dist - Raigad, Maharashtra 410206
It attracts Mumbaikars, Puneites and people all around Maharashtra. Its popularity is increasing by leaps and bound across India and across the world. The theme park (D) is easily reachable from Mumbai (A), Thane, Navi Mumbai, Alibaugh (C), Khandala (E), Lonavala (F), Pune (G), and nearby places. [Check below map]


ADLABS IMAGICA THEME PARK KHOPOLI MAP
Zones and Attractions::: All different 6 zones (##) have unique concepts with attractions across the world map. I have mentioned below zones in the preferred order of visiting as per our group experience.

##Americana:: (Recommended for adrenaline ride lovers) 
*Nitro (Coming soon): [1] (India's biggest roller coaster) (When we were there testing was in progress)
*Scream Machine: [2] (Crazy Ride - a spinning pendulam) 
*Gold Rush Express: [3]
*D2 Dare Drop: [6]
Adlabs Imagica - D2 Dare Drop

Adlabs Imagica - Gold Rush Express

Adlabs Imagica - Scream Machine

Adlabs Imagica - Scream Machine
##Arabia:: 
*The Magic Carousel:
*Alibaba Aur Chalis Chorr (Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves): (A laser gun based shooting game)

##India::
*Curse of Salimgarh: (Haunted House)
*Wrath of the Gods: [8] (A theme based on ancient deities Jal, Vayu and Agni)
*Mr. India- The Ride: [1] (best attraction at Adlabs Imagica)
*I For India: [7] (Helicopter sightseeing for all major corners of India) (Prefer front row)

##Jambo Africa::
*Rajasaurus River Adventure: [4] (Meet the hungry dinosaurs)
*Mambo Chai Chama- Crazy Tea Cups:
Adlabs Imagica - Alibaba Aur Chalis Chorr

Adlabs Imagica - The Magic Carousel
##Asiana::
*Cinema 360- Prince of the Dark Waters: [9] (A fairy tale for kids)
*Deep Space: [5]

##Viva Europa:: (Family Games - Most of the rides tickle to kids, and shorter version of above rides.)
*Splash Ahoy! [10]
*Bandits of Robin Hood:
*Loch Ness Expplorers:
*Save the Pirate:
*Tubbby Takes Off:
*Bump It Boats:
Adlabs Imagica - Curse of Salimgarh

Adlabs Imagica - Rajasaurus River Adventure
Review and Key Points about ADLABS Imagica: [Sep13]
I wouldn't explain about the ride which may diminish the joy and surprises you may experience, but will put some important points and my observation about this place.

* Top 10 (1-10 rankings) attractions mentioned above are must try rides and attractions.
* 2 days would be best to enjoy the park fullest, But major attractions (Top 10 mentioned above) can be covered in a single day, you have to plan correctly. Reach on time.
* Park Opening Timings: 11am to 9pm. All rides and attractions operate till 8pm only.
* Start your day with rides in Americana zone, then lunch, and rest theme based rides.
* There are height restrictions for all the rides, which are clearly mentioned. 
* Location is fantastic, surrounded by beautiful hills, and green valley during monsoon adds value to it.

* You will get most of the latest information at ADLABS imagica site.
* Check the ADLABS Imagica website for the latest prices, offers and discounts.
Weekday: Adults : INR 1200, Children INR 900 (All rides included).
Weekend: Adults: INR 1500, Children: INR 1200.
Imagica Express: (Only For Weekends, Special pass to avoid queues) Adults : INR 2200, Children : INR 1900
* If you are visiting the place during the weekend, prefer to take VIP Express tickets (VIP Pass) , that will give choice of seating and reduce your wait time.
* They also offer travel combo from major pickup points in Pune and Mumbai.
* 'Value for money', Target population is middle and upper middle class, who can afford. 

* I like the fact that they also offer strollers and wheelchairs for rental. Big thanks to the team for consideration. 
* Skip walking! Free shuttle service is available from one zone to another zone.
* At the entrance itself, there is an Information Centre & Guest Relations Counter. Don't forget to take a copy of 'ADLABS Imagica Guide'.
* There are Kiosks located conveniently in the Park which will provide a range of food and beverages.
* The theme park serve variety of food and cuisines from around the world - "Red Bonnet - American Diner", "The Imagica Capital", "ZEZE - Bar+Grill", "Roberto's - Food Coaster" and "Arrmada - Tapas Bar".
* You will be surprised to see a fascinating restaurant where food is served on a mini-roller-coaster.

* The place offers unique rides and places to visit for all ages and groups. 
* If you are looking for group bookings, minimum 50 people are required.
* If you are looking for birthday bookings, minimum 40 people are required.
* I recommend to bring cap, comfortable shoes for walking, sunscreen, sunglasses, and preferably a camera.
* If you don't hold a camera, there is staff carrying DSLR, who will click your pics and you can get them on CD while returning back near the entry/exit (Souvenir Shop).
* All in all it’s a fun place to roam with family and friends or take little kids in nice weather. [Best time to visit July - March]

* Enjoy the history and making of this park, At some of the theme based attractions.
* Shake hands and interact with Imagica characters up close and click photographs with them.
* I see kids like dancing with music around Pop Jets, the fountain zone with jets of water shooting out.
* Some outdoor rides wont work while it is raining, and it depends up-to that day.
* If it is high temperature during noon or monsoon rains, Utilize your time to indoor attractions.
* Currently I don't observe any wi-fi facility inside the park. But who cares, if you are coming to enjoy the day. 

This brings back to memory my trip to Universal Studios in Los Angles. These views captured during the day using my latest SLR. It is the ultimate destination for a great time with your family and friends. Thanks to the "Adlabs Entertainment Limited" team for bringing this unique theme park in India and they deserve all applauds. So, what are you waiting for! Get set and ready for lifetime riding experiences. Hope to visit again...

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