Category Archives: India

Things to do at Mandrem Beach, North Goa

Goa – “Go and come back again”. You must be thinking but why again? Simply, to explore the places, left out in the previous Goa trip. And yes, this time I was off to explore the left out beaches like Mandrem Beach in North Goa.

Mandrem Beach Goa

Mandrem is a coastal village in the North Goa, located 29km away from the capital city Panaji. And the Mandrem Beach is tucked between Ashwem and Arambol beaches of North Goa.

Mandrem Beach North Goa
Sunbeds on the beach at sunset

The beach is quiet and very picturesque. The rustic fishing boats drawn up along the beach, adds more to the atmosphere of peace and serenity. Further, the bamboo bridge that spans the creek looks extensively beautiful and brings you onto the white sands of the beach itself. Also, read chasing rains in Goa- offbeat monsoon destinations of India

How to Reach Mandrem, North Goa

Mandrem Beach can be reached by train, air, bus or private vehicles from New Delhi.

By Train

Direct trains run from New Delhi to Goa almost every day, except the Rajdhani Express. The Rajdhani Express runs only on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday from Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station, New Delhi and it takes around 25 hrs to reach Goa from Delhi as compared to other trains that take an average time of 37-39 hrs to reach Goa. Also, the Rajdhani train costs a bit high other than regular trains.

By Air

It is the easiest and most convenient way to reach Goa and from Delhi flight takes only 2-3 hours to reach.

By Bus

Sadly, there are no direct buses from Delhi to Goa but still once can reach Goa by taking a bus from a nearby city or by breaking the journey.

Mandrem Goa
Mandrem Goa

After Reaching Goa

Further from the airport, bus stand or railway station, you can reach Mandrem Beach by bus or cab. Cab will help you reach quickly but it too is an expensive affair. The other cheaper option is to reach by bus but for it, you might need to change multiple buses.

From Goa Railway Station to Mandrem in Bus

Take a bus till the main bus stand of your respective area of the Railway Station. For ex-: Madgaon Railway station to the respective area of the bus terminal. From outside Madgaon Railway Station, the bus will go to charge Rs. 15 per person and will drop you at the main bus stand from where you can catch a bus to Panaji. Further, the bus will take Rs. 45 per person and drop you at the Panaji bus stand.

From Panaji bus stand to Mapusa bus

There are no direct buses from Panaji to Mandrem. You have to take a bus till Mapusa. The bus will be going to charge Rs. 20 per person.

From Mapusa bus stand to Mandrem bus

Take a bus from Mapusa bus stand till Mandrem. The bus will charge around Rs.20.

Best season to visit Mandrem Goa

The peak season in Goa is in winters i.e. from Nov – March every year because a place like Goa spread its arms from hot and humid summers (April – July) to shower in monsoon (August – October) and gives a pleasant season in winters (Nov – March).

Bungalows at Mandrem North Goa
Bungalows at Mandrem Beach

*Note – If you coming from North India, you will never be going to find this season pleasant because of the temperature ranges between 25 – 30 degrees in the daytime. i.e. It’s pleasant according to the people of the region here.

How to Go around In Mandrem Goa

Mandrem can be explored on foot, scooty or by bus. But sometimes you have to wait for a long time for the bus to arrive.

Where to Rent a Scooty in Mandrem

In Goa, you can find Scooties on rent boards and shops at every corner of the street. Indeed, one doesn’t need to find a place to rent a scooter, because when you start walking on the streets of Goa, the people will themselves come and ask whether you need a scooty or bike on rent.

Before hiring, remember the rental pricing of scooty varies according to the season and type of vehicle. In peak season like Nov. – Feb., one can get a Scooty on rent for at least Rs. 350 – Rs. 400 per day whereas in other seasons, the same is for somewhere around Rs. 250- Rs. 300 per day.

Things to do in Mandrem Beach Goa

Mandrem Beach doesn’t have tour operators on the beach like other beaches of Goa, but still, there are plenty of things to do here.

1. Play Sports

Playing a sport such as a frisbee or a volleyball is the most common beach sport. You can also try footvolley and beach tennis to make things interesting on the beachside. Seeing people play, many would come and ask “Whether they can join too? How cool, isn’t it?

Since Mandrem Beach is not too much occupied by Restaurants and Cafes, i.e. a lot of open space is available as compared to other beaches in Goa. 

2. Practise Yoga

How about yoga on the beachside? Isn’t that interesting and remember it has many benefits too. So, carry your yoga mats and enjoy your time.

3. Surfing

Surfing on the beach is a pretty common thing but very few agree to do this water adventure. You can surf in Mandrem Beach or can walk along the beachside till you reach Arambol Beach.

Mandrem Beach North Goa

Surfing for 1 hr costs around Rs. 500 and likewise these charges depend upon season to season. Also, you can do a basic course of surfing for 2 hrs where you are taught the whole process. The charges for the course are around Rs. 2000/- per person (again, the charges depend upon season to season).

4. Listen to music

Put your ear plugins and let the beats do talking on the beachside. But also remember to consider other people’s preferences, so keep music slow and only to yourself.

5. Dine and wine in sea-side cafes

Mandrem Beach has pretty hut shaped sea-side cafes. Lunching, munching and dining with a sea view, sunset and stars is a delight here. These shacks are known for their seafood delicacies. And they too serve a number of authentic Goan dishes as well as Continental cuisine.

6. Sunset at Mandrem Beach

The majority of beaches in Goa get crowded in the evening during sunset but Mandrem Beach and few other beaches in North Goa, have comparatively less crowd and can give be the perfect option for mesmerizing sunset views.

Sunset at Mandrem
Sunset at Mandrem Beach

7. Shop

Just like South Goa beaches, you can shop the local bracelets, anklets, and other fashion accessories made from shells from the local people who are on a continuous roll.

8. Get clicked on the wooden bridges

On Mandrem Beach there are around 3-4 wooden bridges, which leads to the seashore. The one I found pretty attractive was one which goes ahead from Dunes Village restaurant. These bridges are hardly crowded and only a few tourists use them to surpass. So, you can easily pose for like hours till you get your perfect shot.

Wooden Bridge at Mandrem Beach
Wooden Bridge at Mandrem Beach

9. Interact with Fellow Travelers

Travelers from around the world come in Goa and Mandrem Beach is no exception. Indeed, it is common among foreign tourists. So, you can interact with others and listen to their travel stories for inspiration and life ahead.

Conclusion

If you are someone who prefers peace over-crowd then Mandrem Beach in Goa would be a perfect place for you without any doubt. Whether you are an Indian tourist or foreign tourist you feel like going to Mandrem Beach again and again.

Mandrem Goa

Author Bio

Vansh Tiwari is a passionate Traveller and Adventurer. He is always on the move & shares his experience & knowledge with his readers on his Travel blog. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.  

All you need to know about Rohtang Pass Permit

Treacherous, continuously ascending, bottleneck roads with mountains on one side and valley with the slithering river on other, where mountains keep on increasing height and changing colors, where landscape changes from lush green to barren, where weather changes from sunny to cloudy to even snowy, where temples give way to Buddhist Stupas, where Pagal Nallahs (water streams) abrupt out of nowhere and make you go weak on the way itself, where there is no permanent habitation for almost 30 Kilometers is what describes the path to majestic or mysterious Rohtang Pass from Manali / Old Manali. Lakhs of People visit Manali every year and the majority of them have Rohtang Pass on their list. Years before anyone could go to Rohtang top but in 2016 rules changed and the Himachal Pradesh state government started issuing Rohtang Pass Permit to limit the vehicles and to prevent pollution.

All you need to know about Rohtang Pass Permit

In this post, we will be discussing all the details about how, when to travel to Rohtang Pass and from where to take the Rohtang Pass Permit.

About Rohtang Pass

Rohtang the Ladakhi word is formed from a combination of two words “Ruh” and “Tang” means a pile of dead bodies. Yes, you read it right – The pass was known as a pass of dead corpses as many people lost their lives while crossing and working on the pass due to unpredictable weather conditions, frequent snowstorms, and landslides.

Rohtang Top
Rohtang Top

Rohtang Pass is also known as Rohtam Pass and lies at a grueling altitude of 13000 feet and 51 Kilometers from Manali on the Manali Leh Highway (also check the story of Gata Loops on Manali –Leh Highway). It is considered as an ancient trade route between the people on either side of the Pir Panjal range. The pass has strategic importance for India as it connects the landlocked Lahaul & Spiti Valley to Manali and is also a gateway to Pangi Valley and Leh Ladakh

Rohtang Pass in October
Rohtang Pass in October

The Pass is accessible only for a limited time in summers usually from May – June to October and during the rest of the months, it is completely snow-covered. Indeed, every year road diggers struggle with GPS to clear snow and find road buried under piles of snow. During these limited months, the pass can be visited as a day trip or while heading towards Spiti Valley or Leh Ladakh from Manali side via your own private car, HTPDC bus or shared cabs.

Route to Rohtang La (51 Kilometers)

Manali- Vashisht- Palchan- Gulabha- Marhi- Rohtang La

Conditions of Roads

Single lane and continuously ascending narrow roads are not at all for the novice drivers. For few kilometers expect a slushy and muddy road. In between, you too can encounter a huge or multiple small landslides. Sometimes the landslide is that worst that they can result in an 8-10 hours’ traffic jam.

Treacherous Ascending Roads to Rohtang La
Treacherous Ascending Roads to Rohtang La

Expected Time to Reach

Usually it takes almost 3 hours, rest completely depends on the landslides and traffic volume. In season time there are long queues and the time can go up to 6-7 hours or even more!

What is Rohtang Pass Permit?

Years ago, everyone was free to travel to Rohtang Pass but this led to a lot of Pollution and littering in this environmental-sensitive zone. So, to counter and stop this abuse, NGT (National Green Tribunal) restricted the daily vehicular and tourist movement to Rohtang Pass and started issuing a Rohtang Pass Permit for a visit or cross over.

Along with this tribunal also restricted other activities like horse riding, snow biking, paragliding, plying of snow scooters and setup of eateries at Rohtang. Although there are some temporary eateries and moving hawkers at Rohtam Pass. At Marhi there are around 10- 15 temporary setup shops and eateries which serve food and sell woolens to the tourists.

Temporary Shops set up at Village Marhi on way to Rohtang
Temporary Shops set up at Village Marhi on way to Rohtang

In 2019, only 1300 vehicles per day (i.e. 860 Petrol & 440 Diesel vehicles) were permitted to ply from Manali to Rohtang Pass, in order to maintain the ecology and prevent more environmental damage.

Types of Rohtang Pass Permit

Basically there are two categories of Rohtang Permits – Permit for Tourism Purpose & Permit for Travel Purpose.

Permit for Tourism Purpose

The Permit for Tourism Purpose is issued on a daily basis to the vehicles going to Rohtang top from Manali and returning back on the same day. This permit is further divided into two types i.e. Rohtang Pass Permit and Special Rohtang Pass Permit.  

Rohtang Pass Permit

This pass is applicable for both commercial and Taxi registered vehicles and under this type 1200 passes are issued i.e. 800 for petrol and 400 for diesel vehicles.

Special Rohtang Pass Permit

This pass is applicable for private 4 wheelers only and under this type only 100 passes are issued, which breaks down to 60 for petrol and 40 for diesel.

Permit for Travel Purpose

This permit is issued to the travelers who will be crossing the Rohtang Pass to go further to Leh Ladakh or Spiti Valley and there is no fixed daily quota for this category.

Note: One doesn’t need a permit while coming from Keylong side.

Rohtang Pass Permit Cost

Vehicles applying under permit for tourism purpose (Rohtang & Special Rohtang Pass will have to pay

  • Permit Fee (Car, Jeep, Buses, MUV, HMV) – Rs.500/- per day
  • Congestion Charges – Rs. 50/ day for Cars, Jeeps and MUV’s & Rs. 100/day for Buses & HMV

And vehicles (bike and 4 wheelers) applying under permit for travel purpose will just have to pay congestion charges Rs. 50/day, whereas goods vehicles will have to pay congestion charges Rs. 100/day.

Documents for Applying for Rohtang Pass Permit

The documents include :

  • Valid Identity Proof (Aadhar Card, Driving License, etc.)
  • Vehicle Registration Rate (Vehicle should not be more than 10 years old)
  • Valid Pollution Under Check (PUC) certificate

How to apply for Rohtang Permit?

Just like Leh Ladakh Inner Line Permit, Rohtang Pass Permit also can be applied both online and offline. Online it can be applied only through the web portal. In 2018 authorities too had launched a dedicated Rohtang Permit mobile app (available both for android and IOS users) but till the day it is not functional for booking and helps only to check the Permit availability, validity and also helps to download the booked permit.

Rohtang Permit Mobile App (IOS & Android Users)
Rohtang Permit -Mobile App (IOS & Android Users)

While offline it can be booked through travel agents or in person at SDM office or Tourist Information Center in Manali.

Online Procedure for Rohtang Pass & Beyond Rohtang Pass Permit

  • Login to Rohtang Permit website
  • On the top, there are four options – Rohtang Pass, Special Rohtang Pass, Beyond Rohtang & Green Tax (Manali Tax)
  • Commercial & Taxi Registered Vehicle, click on Rohtang Pass whereas the Private 4 wheelers click on Special Rohtang Pass, for to and fro to Rohtang Top from Manali
  • Vehicles going ahead to Ladakh and Spiti Valley, click on beyond Rohtang option
  • Green Tax/ Manali Tax is the one which is charged at the entry of Manali and this doesn’t give the permission to visit Rohtang Pass. We suggest you not to pay this online as you still have to show the receipt at Manali entry and is not much time-consuming project.
  • After selecting the option, fill all the required tourist details (driver name, phone no, email id, purpose); vehicle details (like type & category of vehicle, fuel type, vehicle no, vehicle registration no, seating capacity), no. of travelers, ID Proof, Pollution under check (PUC) no and proceed to submit the form. After submission, you will receive an OTP. Fill the OTP and it will take you to payment gateway. Make the online payment and you will be directed to print permit window
  • Print the Permit issued, as it is compulsory. Forgoing ahead Rohtang we suggest you take multiple print outs. Also, take a screenshot and keep a copy of same in your phone
Rohtang Pass Permit MIS
Rohtang Pass Permit MIS

Offline Procedure for Rohtang Pass & Beyond Rohtang Pass Permit

The Offline Permit can be taken from the SDM office or Tourist Information Center which is open on all 7 days including Sunday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. The process of application is really simple but time-consuming. Fill up the form and submit the above-mentioned documents between 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. During the season the permit is not issued at the same time but you will be asked to collect it between 3:00 – 5:00 pm.

The other option is to get it booked by travel agent offices in the Manali market just opposite to SDM office. They too use the online portal to book but hand over the permit in 5 -10 minutes. They charge 550 +150Rs. for booking.

Our Experience with Rohtang Permit

During our recent visit to Rohtang Pass in October 2019, we tried booking the Permit online but failed at the payment gateway because of the slow internet. Ultimately rushed to the travel agent sitting in the Manali market, paid him Rs.700/- and got the permit in next 5 minutes.  But during our travel to Spiti in August 2018, we submitted the documents at the SDM office itself and got the permit in the next 15 minutes itself.

Rohtang Pass Permit
Rohtang Pass Permit

Some Important Points to Remember

  • Rohtang Permit is issued in two-time frames i.e. at 10:00 am (600 vehicles) and 4:00 pm (600 vehicles) and in a week i.e. from Tuesday to Monday – only 3 Rohtang Pass Permits can be obtained for each vehicle
  • Special Rohtang Permit (100 vehicles) window is open throughout the day and the permit is issued only once to one vehicle during the entire season
  • Beyond Rohtang Pass can be booked between 12:00 pm to 12:00 am and in a week i.e. from Tuesday to Monday – only 2 Rohtang Pass Permits can be obtained for each vehicle
  • Also, NO Vehicle is allowed on or can cross Rohtang on Tuesday from Manali side, as it is closed for maintenance whereas the vehicle coming from Leh and Spiti are allowed entry
  • Vehicles having wrong information on the permits as compared to valid proofs are not allowed to cross the barrier. So be really careful while submitting your details.
  • Importantly, your vehicle age shouldn’t be more than 10 years

Who all Needs Rohtang Pass Permit

Everyone traveling to Rohtang Pass or beyond Rohtang Pass from Manali by cabs, commercial or private vehicle needs a permit. But the people planning to travel by HRTC or HPTDC buses and cycle till Rohtang Top don’t need a Rohtang Permit.

HRTC / HPTDC Buses

HRTC/ HPTDC bus service starts at 5:30 am from the main Manali bus stand and the next bus goes after every 15-20 minutes. Also, 9 Electric buses with a passenger capacity 25, fare Rs.600/-   do to and fro every day (i.e. from Wednesday to Monday) to Rohtang top in season and takes almost 4 hours to reach. The bus service for the same can be booked here.

What if I apply for Beyond Rohtang Permit and comes back from Rohtang only?

Many have attempted booking Beyond Rohtang Permit and coming back from Rohtang Pass itself on the same day. And the consequences they have faced because of this is either they had to shell heavy fine of Rs. 5000/- from their pockets, as environmental compensation and some vehicles even have got blacklisted.

Remember, the authorities have put up a barrier system on both sides of Rohtang Pass i.e at Gulaba, (which is 20 kilometers from Manali and 31 kilometers from Rohtang Pass) and Khoksar (which is 19 kilometers ahead from Rohtang Pass on to Keylong road). So, the vehicles having Beyond Rohtang Permit Pass gets verified at Khoskar Barrier too along with Gulaba. At the day end, data between these two barriers helps to find the misuse of the permits. 

So, make sure to have the correct permit and if in case you have the wrong permit, then go ahead and don’t come back on the same day.

What are the Timing & Validity of Permit for Rohtang Pass?

Vehicles going to Rohtang Top and beyond are not allowed to cross the Gulaba check post before 5:30 am. The issued Rohtang Pass & Special Rohtang Pass Permit is valid only for 6 hours. And all vehicle has to leave from Rohtang Pass maximum by 4:00 pm.

What is the best time to visit Rohtang Pass?

Rohtang pass opens up in May end or June first week and closes down in October end or November first week. So, may – June is considered as a peak season, July –  Mid September is monsoon time, and October is the season end time when you can see the fresh snow.

Stupa at Rohtang Pass in August
Stupa at Rohtang Pass in August

We have visited Rohtang Pass in July – august i.e. during monsoons as well in mid-October and trust us the landscapes, roads, panoramic vistas, the weather looked extremely different each time. During monsoons the pass was under the clouds, mist, and rain, landscapes were lush green and there were landslides in patches whereas in October we experienced fresh snow and very fewer tourists. So, according to us these both are the good times to explore Rohtang Pass.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4cUXk-nky7/

How is the weather at Rohtang Top?

From May – September the temperature can go as high as 25 degrees Celsius and low to 10 degrees Celsius whereas in October – November expects the high temperature between 18 -20 degrees Celsius and low to 4-5 degrees Celsius. In October – November, expect snowflakes too.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3cEdA2n3Si/

Some more FAQ’s

  • Do we need a permit for a rented vehicle, which already has All India Permit?

Yes, you still need to take a Rohtang Pass or Beyond Rohtang Pass Permit according to the destination.

  • Do we need a permit while coming from Leh, Keylong, Chandartal or Spiti to Manali?

No, Permit is required for traveling to Manali from Leh, Kaza, Keylong, Chandartal and Spiti Valley.

  • Do I need permit for Motorcycles and cycles?

Yes, you need a Rohtang Pass/ Beyond Rohtang Pass permit for Motorcycles but cyclists don’t need any permit.

  • How many days before I need to apply online for Permit?

The online permits (Rohtang Pass, Special Rohtang Pass & Beyond Rohtang Pass) can be applied for the next 6 days from the current day.

  • Can I cancel the booked Permit?

No, you cannot cancel the booked permit. Please be sure of your travel and then only book, as only 1300 Permits are issued per day.

  • Where to contact in case of some queries related to Permit issuance?

For any other Permit issues, you can write a mail at rohtangrefunds@gmail.com

  • How many permits can I apply from my own mobile/ IP address?

Only 2 permits can be applied in a week from a single IP address or mobile unit.

  • Any email id where I can send my queries?

You can send your queries at dc-kul-hp@nic.in

  • My name spelling/ vehicle reg. no/ vehicle no./ license no isn’t the same as the issued Permit. Will it matter?

Yes, it matters a lot. You will not be allowed to cross the Gualaba Checkpost. So make sure to check the spellings, reg. no twice before submitting the form.

  •  Can I book a permit through Rohtang Permit App?

No, you cannot book Rohtang Pass Permit through their app. You can just check the Permit availability and validity. Also, you can download the booked permit from here.

  • Should I visit Rohtang pass without woolens?

We don’t recommend you to visit Rohtang Pass without woolens in any seasons. Weather changes here drastically. If one moment it’s sunny, another moment it may cloud and start raining. Please do carry windcheaters, a jacket, a cap, and gloves. If you are not carrying or have forgotten them, you can rent or buy them from Marhi shops. We too made a purchase for woolens at Marhi.

  • Do I get anything to eat at Rohtang Pass?

Yes, there are temporary shacks and some moving hawkers at Rohtang Pass. They serve you bun – omelets, Maggi, soups, tea, coffee, corn, and chana chaat and everything is almost priced at Rs. 50/- per plate. They have bins placed near their tents, so remember to put your trash in the same or get it back.

Munching over Chana Chaat at Rohtang Pass
Munching over Chana Chaat at Rohtang Pass
  • Do I get anything to eat on the way to Rohtang Pass?

Yes, there are around 10-15 shacks in Marhi, serving you lunch, tea, coffee and various types of snacks.

  • Is there any chance of facing AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness) at Rohtang Pass?

Yes, you may feel headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, vomiting, or shortness of breath at Rohtang Pass due to high altitude and thin air. Please descend back if you feel the symptoms are getting worse. The advice is to keep having liquids and munchings at short intervals to stay fit.

  • How far I can go with the Rohtang Pass Permit?

You can go ahead for few kilometers to enjoy the views but cannot cross the Khoskar check post.

All you need to know about Rohtang Pass Permit

If you have any more questions, do leave them in the comment section. We will be happy to answer them.

Sambhar Salt Lake- India’s Largest Inland Salt Lake

Imagine the vast expanse of a shiny mirror where horizon stretches to infinity, where the white or silver land merges to blue, where you can drive, walk and jump, where you can see the reflections of the sky, clouds, sun rays, birds, and moon, where you can camp below zillions of stars. Doesn’t this sound like some mystical place out of some poet’s imagination? Seriously, this place exists and we saw one such landscape on our recent trip to Rajasthan, known as Sambhar Salt Lake surrounding the historical Sambhar Salt Town.

Sambhar Salt Lake

Till day, Sambhar Salt Lake had never been on our bucket list and the visit to it was purely a side visit while visiting the Salasar Balaji Temple. But after seeing it in real and spending a day there, we are absolutely in love with it and would definitely love to go back with a longer plan of camping there in full moon.

About Sambhar Salt Lake

The Sambhar Lake is an elliptical-shaped, saline wetland with a length of approximately 35.5 km and a breadth varying between 3 km and 11 km. The depth of the lake varies between 60 cm in the dry season to 3 meters in monsoons. There are around 38 villages around Sambhar Jheel/ Lake. Lake has both economic and ecological importance. It is a paradise for railway enthusiasts and bird lovers as they can spot both native and migratory birds playing and dancing in the shallow water.

Sambhar Salt Lake view from Shakambhari Temple

Being India’s largest Inland Salt Lake, it produces 1,96,000 Tonnes of clean salt, which is equal to 9% of India’s total salt production. The salt factory and pans economically help the villagers by providing a huge employment opportunity.

Also, Sambhar Lake is a Ramsar site and is home to thousands of migratory birds from Northern Asia and Siberia. The specialized Algae and bacteria in Sambhar Lake provide striking varying colors to the Lake water and also support the ecology.

How to reach Sambhar Salt Lake?

The Sambhar Salt Lake lies 80 kilometers from Jaipur, 60 kilometers from Ajmer on Jaipur – Ajmer Highway, 154 Kilometers from Salasar, 190 Kilometers from Sariska, 194 Kilometers from Bhangarh Fort and 85 Kilometers from Khatoo in Rajasthan. It can be reached by air, train, bus, cab or car. The nearest airport and railway station are at Jaipur. From there, one can travel further by bus, cabs or direct train to Sambhar Railway station. Sambhar is well connected by roads too, so we took a road trip.

Road Trip To Sambhar Town
Road Trip To Sambhar Town

Route we (AllGudThings) took (388 Kilometers)

Delhi – Gurugram- Bhiwadi- Neemrana- Kotputli- Shahpura- Reengus- Khatoo- Sambhar

Total Time Taken– 7-8 hrs

Or

Ideal Route from Delhi (342 Kilometers)

Delhi – Gurugram- Neemrana- Jaipur- Sambhar

Total Time – 7 hours

Condition of Roads

If you have planned to opt for the route we took, then be ready to experience the completely different, unspoiled countryside of Rajasthan. Till Khatoo, roads are graveled with potholes somewhere in between. Beyond it you will be driving on state Highways & narrow village roads, crossing huge swamps, green flatlands. The amazing landscapes give you a mixed feel of crossing through different states of India.

Water Crossing Near Sambhar Salt Lake
Water Crossing Near Sambhar Salt Lake

On the way, you will cross rustic Rajasthan villages and view the sights found in the paintings of renowned artists. The Village women adorning colored sarees or Lehanga Choli with a big veil and water pots or piles of fodder on their head, turbaned men wearing dhoti- kurta and riding a bicycle along the countryside or taking herds of sheep & goats for grazing is nothing less than a sight to behold.

Rajasthani women carrying fodder on their head.
Rajasthani women carrying fodder on their heads
Herds of Sheep near Sambhar Lake
Herds of Sheep near Sambhar Lake.

Sambhar Town

As soon as you reach the Sambhar town, you will start seeing the town chaos and multiple boards of famous Sambhar Salt. But to reach the white Lake without getting lost in the narrow unpaved lanes of Sambhar add the location of Sambhar Salt Lake to Google Maps. It will take you to the midpoint. From here we could see the vast expanse of dried white land with some water in it, demarcated into rectangles at places, which looked like salt flats or pans. And just parallel to it ran the centuries-old narrow gauge rail track.  

Lanes of Sambhar Town
Lanes of Sambhar Town

The view didn’t satisfy our soul. We wanted to see the infinite view more closely and probably from some height. But before that our tummy was screaming and we wanted some delicious food. So, we headed over to NaCl. No! No! We didn’t start having Salt (NaCl- The chemical representation of Salt) to fill our stomach but headed to the restaurant named NaCl in Sambar Heritage Lake Resort.

NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort
NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort

Sambar Heritage Lake Resort & NaCl Restaurant

The Sambhar Heritage Lake Resort is an 18th Century, British Built, first Circuit House in India. The refurbished resort architecture has a hint of heritage with all luxury and modernity and it too has kept its traditional structure intact.

Swiss Tents by Sambhar Salt Lake
Swiss Tents by Sambhar Salt Lake

In total, the resort has 32 rooms, where the 4 heritage suites are located in the Circuit House, 8 suites are inside the Kothi which was initially the Britishers Clubhouse, 18 Swiss tents and 2 container rooms are set along the Sambhar Lakeside.

First Look of NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort
First Look of NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort

The resort has 3 restaurants- Mughal Tara, Veranda and Nacl offering the multispecialty cuisines. We went to the one close by swiss tents i.e. NaCl. Its colorful, rustic interiors were totally admirable and can surely win the heart of people who love vibrant colors.

Inside NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort
Inside NACL Restaurant at Sambhar Heritage Resort

We ordered ourselves a traditional Rajasthani lunch i.e. Mirchi Kadhi, Aloo, Jeera Rice, Roti & Papad. Food was yummy and absolutely worth the price. The server also explained to us that the meals are cooked using fresh organic herbs and salad leaves are grown in their own kitchen garden.

Mirchi Kadhi at NaCl Restaurant
Mirchi Kadhi at NaCl Restaurant

After lunch, we walked around the premises and observed that the resort is set at a perfect location. From your Swiss tents, you can see in front the Sambhar Salt Lake, Salt Pans, flying migratory birds and interestingly the narrow gauge rail track passing from the resort itself.

Narrow Gauge Train Track Passing Through Sambhar Heritage Resort
Narrow Gauge Train Track Passing Through Sambhar Heritage Resort

On enquiring from the staff we got to know that the small colorful train with small wooden chassis is fully functional and still this gauge itself is used to transport large bogies of salt from Sambhar. On prior information, Sambhar Heritage Resort arranges for a complete salt production tour by train. And the interesting part is that the train staff picks and drops you to resort itself.

Salt Pans View from NaCl Restaurant
Salt Pans View from NaCl Restaurant

Form here, we left to visit the famous Shakambhari Temple of Sambhar, dedicated to Goddess Shakambhari the consort of Lord Shiva and the Goddess of Chauhan Dynasty, also from where the Sambhar town has derived its name.

Shakambhari Temple & Shakambhari Jheel (Lake)

The Shakambhari Temple, almost 2500 years old is located 28 Kilometers away from the Sambhar town. In front of the Temple, lies the Shakambhari Jheel also known as the Sambhar Salt Lake.

Sambhar Town a centuries-old town has its mention in Indian epic Mahabharata. Acc. to legends, it was once a Kingdom of Demon King Vrishparva, the place where the wedding of Devayani (daughter of Shukracharya, priest of Vrishpava) and King Yayati took place. So, here lies a Devyani temple & a Devayani Kund. It is also said that Queen Jodha Bhai married King Akbar in Sambhar in the 16th century.

First Look of Shakambhari Temple
First Look of Shakambhari Temple

Apart from this the Shakambhari Temple & Lake has a mythological history. Sambhar Lake is believed to be the gift of Goddess Shakambhari to her followers. To appreciate the follower’s Devotion, Goddess converted the green forest where the lake stands today to silver metal. But the locals took it as a curse and subsequently the fear of greed and strife, made the follower’s request Goddess take back her boon. So, Devi being magnanimous converted the metal field to Salt Lake that would bring prosperity in the region and not lead to conflicts.

Around Sambhar Salt Lake

The narrow road takes you to the Temple and gets ready to see the unimaginable vistas of India. Firstly, from the parking, you will see the stairs and a long bridge going downwards to the Temple located in the center of Sambhar Lake. Also, you can see a lot of zigzag tire marks on the grounds of Lake, which could be the results of the stunts the drivers had tried to perform on the dried bed. We skipped going this side first as it was getting completely cloudy and looked the downpour could start anytime. So, we took the stairs going uphill (almost 150 stairs) to the Temple top.

Driedup & water filled patch of Sambhar Salt Lake
Dried up & water filled patch of Sambhar Salt Lake

As you start climbing you start seeing the Lake on two sides with Aravalis in the backdrop and by the time you reach the top, Sambhar Salt Lake gets visible from all sides. First Look and we were completely speechless. We were in awe – is this in India. It’s huge and looks like a pure hidden mirror. Why we had never thought of visiting it earlier?

First View of Sambhar Salt Lake from Top.
First View of Sambhar Salt Lake from Top

All we could see was a reflective mirror stretching to miles, where the horizon looked like meeting infinity. There were patches of green and pink in between. The moving things were thousands of migratory birds.

Reflections in Sambhar Salt Lake.
Reflections in Sambhar Salt Lake.

Clouds were hovering at speed. The sky was changing its color and so was the reflection in Lake, getting from white to grey. There was a perfect reflection of cows and flying birds too in Sambhar Lake. It looked in no time the storm will reach here and in the next 15 minutes, it started raining. The shelter above us got of no use as the wind and rain was at its maximum speed. We waited there itself for half an hour, thinking the weather will clear but it didn’t. The clear sign of God was that you have seen the trailer of Sambhar Lake, come for a movie later on.

Sambhar Lake
Sambhar Lake

So, completely wet and mesmerized by the huge reflective mirror, we got down to our car to explore more of the countryside and head to Salasar.

Accommodation in Sambhar

Sambhar being a business spot has lots of accommodation options from luxurious heritage resort to newly built budgeted hotels. For a luxurious experience, we will suggest Sambhar Heritage Resort and for adventurous experience opt for glamping in the Sambhar lake under stars.

Sambhar Heritage Resort
Sambhar Heritage Resort

Best time to visit Sambhar Lake

Sambhar has a tropical climate where the temperature in summers crosses 45°C, whereas winters are moderately chilled and the temperature can fall below 10°C. An ideal time to visit Sambhar Lake and witness salt production is from October to March. It is also, the perfect time to see Flamingos and other migratory birds. June to September is the monsoon season when you can enjoy water and beautiful reflections in the lake. 

Attractions Nearby Sambhar

During archeological excavations at Naliasar (4 Kilometers from Salt city), many terracotta figurines, coins, pottery, stoneware and evidence of well-planned settlements of the Kushan and Gupta periods have been found. Now, these have been placed in the Albert Hall Museum of Jaipur.

Apart from this, plan a visit to Sambhar wildlife sanctuary which is spread in an area of 22.5 kilometers. The sanctuary is a home to different avifauna like flamingoes, black-headed gull, and Northern Sheller. About 45 species of water birds as ducks, shorebirds, and geese can also be spotted at Sambhar Sanctuary.

Sambhar Salt Lake

More Interesting Facts About Sambhar Lake

  • The Sambhar Lake receives water from five rivers – Medtha, Samaod, Mantha, Rupangarh, Khari and Khandela. It is an ephemeral Lake and is at its full capacity during monsoons
  • Sambhar Lake has been producing salt from around 1500 years
  • The salt production is done by the evaporation of Salty Lake Water (also known as Brine), collected during the rainy season. The production is mostly managed by Sambhar Salts Ltd.(SSL), a joint venture of the Hindustan Salts Ltd. and the state government.
  • Tourism & Commercial activities on Sambhar Lake are managed by SSL and one can also opt for glamping in the dried lake premises after permission
  • As per our observation, Lake might look magnificent during sunset and in the full moonlight. Surely, it will be a sight to remember always
  • Sambhar Salt Lake is a popular film making the location. A plethora of movies like Jodha Akbar, Delhi 6, Veer, Ram Leela, Highway, PK, Super 30 have been shot here
  • The Sambhar Salt Lake Train is the only Train which runs on the Lake under the joint venture of Indian Railway and Rajasthan Government

10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Travel India

India the land of 1.3 Billion inhabitants is a cacophony of contrasts, sound, colors, smell, and taste. Mother India as we Indians say it, has a rich history, heritage, traditions, unbelievable landscapes, lush beauty and exotic architecture to overload your senses. It is the Birthplace of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, and other religions. Guests are treated as Gods and each Indian live by the saying “Atithi Devo Bhava”. Not only this, but the variety of lavish cuisines of every state of India is also unique and completely mouthwatering. So, in the post, we will be quoting reasons, that why everyone should travel India, at least once in their lifetime. Also, we will brief the Indian visa and its application process.

10 Reasons Why Travel India

Why Travel India?

History & Architecture

India, also known as Bharat is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It has a history dating back to the Neothilic period. The land has been ruled by several rulers, dynasties and has gone through several wars and conquers. Each of these rulers during its era built unique massive forts, palaces, mosques, temples, etc. So there is a lot of history behind each of these structures along with unique architecture and an interesting story. Apart from this India is also known as the land of epics and legends. The two epics Ramayana and Mahabharata belong to this nation.

Haunted Bhangarh fort
Bhangarh fort in Rajasthan

Today, 38 ancient sites (cultural and natural) of the nation are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, making it a treasure trove for history buffs and design enthusiasts.

Culture and Traditions

The country is known throughout the world for its diverse cultures. And the same manifest well in its religions, traditions, languages, festivals, fairs, values, dresses, art and craft. India is dominantly a Hindu state but has a lot of Muslim population too, making it to one of the largest Muslim nations in the world.

Pushkar in Rajasthan- Travel India

The country has multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious society i.e. the total 29 states of country have its own communities, culture, traditions, festivals, dressing style and food. People speak different languages and have diverse lingual tones. The traditional culture and lifestyle in Indian villages symbolizes the true essence of India. But overall, it is an amalgamation of various cultures influenced from thousands of year’s old history. The phrase Unity in Diversity sums up the true India.

Himalayas

The word “Himalayas” means a house of snow or snow abode in Sanskrit. The Indian Himalayas spread over the northern frontiers and the north of it is known as roof the world. The Himalayas span Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Bay of Bengal in India.

View of Chau Chau Kang Nilda from Fossil Village Langza
View of Chau Chau Kang Nilda from Fossil Village Langza Spiti Valley

The Himalayas have some of the highest peaks like Kanchenjunga, which is the third-highest peak in the world. Many of these peaks are considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists. The Himalayas too are rich in extensive flora, fauna, and medicinal herbs. The mighty rivers like Ganges, Indus, Satluj, Brahmaputra have their origin from the Himalayas. The River Ganga is sacred of all rivers and runs for 2500 Kilometers from Northern Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. It is a source of fishing, agriculture and many other activities. Hindus also believed that the River transports the prayers of believers to heaven and a dip in the river purifies your soul.

Devprayag - Confluence of River Bhagirathi and River Alaknanda
Devprayag – Confluence of River Bhagirathi and River Alaknanda

Another thing, not to miss in the Himalayas is Himalayan Toy Train of Shimla, Darjeeling, Ooty. These colonial trains are a part of UNESCO Heritage sites and they provide a mesmerizing experience. The scenic beauty around the lush green landscapes and blue sky from the speeding train looks just out of the world.

Darjeeling Toy Train Steam Engine- Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Darjeeling Toy Train Steam Engine

Adventure

If you are an adventure lover and like an instant adrenaline rush, then travel India. In India, adventure follows everywhere – be it while hiking or driving in the Himalayas in Leh Ladakh and Spiti Valley, riding around the beaches of Goa; while doing a safari in Sariska Tiger Reserve, Ranthambore National Park or checking the haunted Bhangarh fort of Rajasthan, while checking the wildlife in the Himalayas or jungle, while passing the highest motorable passes in Ladakh or ridging the double-humped camels in Nubra valley or moving endlessly in the chaotic streets of Old Delhi, while hitchhiking or boarding the public transport. In every nook and corner, you will find an endless adventure and it is extremely fun.

View of Khajjiar Meadows form Hotel Devdar - Dalhousie Chamba Khajjiar
View of Khajjiar Meadows form Hotel Devdar

High Altitude Lakes

Indian Himalayas are home to plenty of high altitude lakes, out of which many are still undiscovered. These high altitude turquoise blue water Lakes nestled between the snow covered mountain peaks looks completely ethereal and surreal in summers whereas remain completely frozen in winters.

Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim - Darjeeling Sikkim Tour
Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim

The Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim, located at 5430 meters i.e. 17,800 feet is the highest lake in India. Its changing colors with the daylight can leave anyone spellbound. The other high altitude lakes which one should check are – Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Tso Kar, and Suraj Tal in Jammu and Kashmir. Foreign Nationals need a special PAP (Protected Area Permit) and Indians need an Inner line permit to visit many of these.

Religious and Spiritual Tour to Temples & Monasteries

Religion and spirituality are intertwined in the daily lives of Indians. India is a birthplace of various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and others. Visiting temples (Badrinath, Kedarnath Temple, etc), Buddhist monasteries like Hemis Monastery, and looking into their relics and stories gives one a better picture of Indian culture. Witnessing the people worshipping and praying in their own ways is not less than a treat to eyes. Spirituality here is not just about praying but it’s about finding one’s inner peace and spiritual self.

Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh- Travel India
Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh – Travel India

The Buddhist Gompas in the North India, exemplify the rich traditions and simplistic life Monks lead, the Ashrams spread throughout the country gives you an idea of slow peaceful life with the consumption of organic food whereas the ancient Temples of South gives you the insight of wealth of the country. Apart these, there are some amusing and unique temples too, set up on the beliefs, likelihood or on the fan following For e.g. – motorcycle temple in Rajasthan, Amitabh Bachhan Temple in Kolkata, Dog Temple in Karnataka, Visa Temple in Jalandhar Punjab, Narender Modi Temple in Gujarat and Bharat Mata Temple in Varanasi.  

Food

Indians have diverse culinary habits throughout and their food style is influenced by Mughlai, Persian and many others. Most importantly Indians take their food quite seriously.

Pao Bhaji at Orange Festival Dambuk
Pao Bhaji – Indian Street food

The diverse variety of lip-smacking delicacies range from the Thukpa in North to the Idly-Sambar in the South, including the Dal Baati Churma in the West and the various dishes of pork in the East. Chapatti with the thick curries also makes to the staple food in North India whereas rice with the seafood, prepared in coconut curry, is for South. Apart this there is no end to the street food here. So, overall India is a gastronomical paradise and the aroma of food can easily trigger up your taste buds.

Festivals & Fairs

India the largest democratic country with diversity in religion, culture, and topography is diverse with its festivals and fairs too. Each month there is some or other festival or fair and it is celebrated on a large scale. Some of these festivals have a religious affair whereas others are celebrated for fun and seasonal change. The main motto of each is to bring people of all religions together for bonding and humanity and unite the whole of India to a single bunch. For the month-wise details of Indian festivals of India check Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Holi Festival Travel India
Holi Festival – Travel India

The festival of Lights Diwali, where the whole sky gets illuminated by fireworks and the festival of Colors are the two most important festivals of India. Apart from festivals, the endless fairs or melas celebrated across the country, highlights the local culture of the land in most colorful and expressive ways, emphasizing the prevailing folklore and history of the region. The must-visit fairs while travelling to India include the Pushkar Camel fair, Khumb Mela, Rann Utsav, Goa Carnival, Khajuraho Dance Festival, Elephant festival of Jaipur, Dambuk Orange festival, etc.

4-4 Fury adventure at Dambuk Orange Festival - Travel India
4-4 Fury adventure at Dambuk Orange Festival – Travel India

Yoga & Ayurveda Treatment

Yoga and Meditation originated in India and today it is practiced throughout the world for stress relief, physical fitness, and relaxation. So, Yoga might belong to the world but its Home is India only. Therefore, to learn or practice yoga, travel India and it’s the best place to lean it. Yoga is not just about physical fitness and being flexible, it is a repository. It means to connect- Connect to yourself and maintain harmony with nature. It is a way to recognize self, increase self-consciousness and coordination, to open yourself to new things and ideas. The best places to learn Yoga are Rishikesh, Dharamshala, Haridwar, Mysore, etc.

View from Ayurvedic Spa Room of Chariot Beach Resort Mahabalipuram
View from Ayurvedic Spa Room of Chariot Beach Resort Mahabalipuram

Ayurveda, the 5000 years old natural medicine system, too has its origin in India and today its variants are used everywhere in the world as alternative medicine. The traditional system focuses on treating and eradicating the problem right from the root cause of it, by taking the account of diet, lifestyle, routine, exercise and circumstances of a patient. Ayurveda purifies the mind, body and soul. Indian forests being rich in herbs and flora, have multiple medical concoctions. So, India is an ideal place for availing Ayurveda Treatment. The best place to experience Ayurveda treatment, spas and massages in India is Kerala.

People

Last but not the least is always smiling, and hospitable people. Be it the extreme village of Spiti Valley or the desert, people are kind enough to invite you to your home for a cup of tea with local bread. Even if they have one room and you are in shortage of space, they will be more than happy to accommodate you. Still in the remote villages, you can see the innocent children playing in the puddles or climbing the trees, much away from the facts of internet and technology.

Children playing cricket on the way to chanshal pass
Children playing cricket on the way to Chanshal Pass

How to get Indian Visa

All tourists need to apply for Indian visa before traveling. The visa can be applied through Indian Post or via the most convenient option i.e. e- visa. The e- visas should be applied at least four days before the travel date and the traveler can enter the country within a period of 120 days from the issue date. For Example: If you are applying on 1st Sept then the applicant can select the arrival date from 5th Sept to 2nd Jan.

From 2019, the newly issued tourist and business e-visas for India are valid for 365 days. Within this period, the tourist can make an unlimited number of trips to India. However, this does not mean that you can stay in India for one consecutive year. UK, USA, Canada or Japan passport holders can stay for max. 180 days whereas other nationalities can only stay for a maximum of 90 consecutive days.

From the web browser open the site for applying for an India visa. Fill all the required details like contact information, place of residence, travel dates, passport information, and passport photo, and wait for 4 days to get the approval. In case of emergency, visas get approved within 24 hrs.

10 Reasons Why Travel India
10 Reasons Why Travel India

Important Points to Remember before traveling to India

  • Give yourself enough time to enjoy every location in India
  • Prepare a rough itinerary encompassing accommodation and transport, to avoid unavoidable Indian mishaps and adventurous detours
  • Hindi is India’s mother tongue still it isn’t spoken by everyone and everywhere in India. In fact, there are more than 20 languages spoken throughout the country and English tends to serve as a common lingo
  • Learn few Hindi phrases to break the ice with locals like “Namaskar” (hello), “Dhanyawaad” (thank you), “Aap Kaise hai” (how are you), “Kitna Dena hai” (how much to pay) and “Naam kya hai” (what’s your name)
  • Credit cards, Debit cards, and money wallets are accepted throughout the country. But still carry some cash while traveling in the remote areas and in the Himalayas
  • There are plenty of street food options in India but consume it from a good food joint only to avoid food poisoning
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Wear comfortable clothing and dress appropriately according to the location. In mountains, it is usually cold even in summers so always remember to carry windcheaters and a light jacket
  • Toilets are still a big-time challenge in many remote parts of India. So, carry Pee safe with you always to avoid infection
  • Public transport as well as cab service is good in the country but make sure to take complete information about the route before traveling
  • Inform the concerned person about your travel plans and locations in India for safety and security
  • Bargaining is possible in the street and flea markets of India, so remember to do it before making a purchase