Gangasagar is a charming tourist destination, which attracts both pilgrims and adventure lovers. Located on an island in the Sunderbans, Gangasagar offers the charms of an un-spoilt beach on the estuary of the river Ganges. Gangasagar has acres of silver sand and clear blue sky, and the calm sea to spend the time in tranquillity. Gangasagar is about 135 km away from Kolkata.
The island of Gangasagar is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage centers in India. Every year on Makar Sankranti (mid-January), pilgrims from all over India, gather at Gangasagar for a holy dip at the confluence of the river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Gangasagar Mela is organized in this island, which is one of the biggest fairs in West Bengal. Gangasagar finds mention in many tales of Hindu mythology and in ancient Indian literature like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata.
To avoid the rush, my friend Rina, his son Soumya and I went to Gangasagar in December. We went there in a steamer after reaching the ferry point by car. We had some jhal-muri on the ferry.
On reaching Gangasagar, also known as Sagardwip, we went to the estuary where the holy Ganga River meets the sea – Bay of Bengal.
We dipped in the water and enjoyed at the beach.
Then we went to the temple of Kapil muni. After worshiping at the temple we moved to return to our home by ferry and then by our car. It was a lovely trip and we enjoyed it a lot.
Now, I am planning to visit here again with my husband.
Today, we had off-day from meetings. We will resume tomorrow again.
It is still raining in Beirut. Rafeef, Waddah and I decided to hit the road for Byblos.
I like going to Byblos; it is a journey down the history of civilization. Byblos is one of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It is believed to be founded in 5,000 BC.
When reached Byblos, it was raining out there. Walked into a cafe – e-cafe for some coffee and respite from the rain. Had hot double espresso to warm me up in the rains!The coffee was great! As we finished our coffee, the rains stopped. Thank God.
After that we walked out. Went to the souk and also to the fossil museum.
There are a lot of fossils available in Byblos and these are dated more than 100 million years old. Being enthused to possess fossils as these are also available for sale. I bought fossils for my personal collections and as a souvenir.
Then, we walked besides the sea. It was a lovely sight. With waves lashing on the stones around the beach and clouds over our head, it was a good sight to enjoy.
Then walked to restaurant Bab el Mina. Had some local catch fish lunch with red wine.
Then we returned back to the hotel.
Pondicherry has now been renamed as Puducherry in 2006. It was a French colony.
While our trip to Pondicherry, we reached Chennai and from the Airport took a cab to Pondicherry. We had our hotel reservations at the Promenade. It is on the Promenade beach.
From Wikipedia, I gathered that the name Puducherry means New Hamlet in Tamil, the local language. During the colonial period the name was changed to Pondicherry. Pondicherry was widely used for a long time to refer to the region. In 2006, the name for the state and the capital city officially reverted to Puducherry.
During ancient times, it is known as Poduke or Podukai. Ancient Greeks referred to this place as Poduke and Aryans referred as Vedapuri.
The approach to Puducherry from Chennai was a nice East Coast Road running besides the Bay of Bengal. We had our lunch at Mahabalipuram, another ancient township, on the coast of Bay of Bengal. There are several ancient caves with paintings etc.
We stopped at Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) for lunch. We had a nice South Indian thali lunch at the motel on the highway.
Puducherry still retains much evidence of it being a French settlement. It is surrounded by Tamil Nadu from three sides. It is one of the important tourist centres in South India. Besides its beach, the main attraction is the Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville.
There is an old lighthouse just across the beach. Although abandoned, but it is still a landmark of the town. The Gandhi statue is the prominent landmark of Pondicherry on the sea beach.
It is a cool township with a French flavor. We had a nice 3 day stay at Puducherry.
Tharangambadi (or Tranquebar) is a panchayat town in Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu near the mouth of a distributary of the Kaveri River. Its name means “land of the singing waves”. This picturesque coastal town lies 15 km south of the ancient Chola port of Pumpuhar, and 15 km north of the former French comptoir of Karikal. From 1620 to 1845 it was a Danish settlement ruled by Governors, till the British took over its administration. Thrangambadi became Tranquebar for the Danes!
We visited Tharangampadi from Pondicherry. It is about 135 km from Pondicherry. The fort was built by Naval Col. Ove Gedde with the permission of Raghunatha Nayakkan, the king of Tanjore to export pepper to Denmark.
This fort was the residence and headquarters of the governor and other officials for about 150 years. It is now a museum hosting a collection of artifacts from the colonial era as early as 1620.
This is one of the few sites where Danes tried their luck in India. Their other important settlement was at Serampore near Kolkata. Danish East India Company was formed in 1616 for doing trade with India. It was c1845, they sold their settlements to British East India Company.
There are a few inhabitants around. It is not a popular tourist destination and hence the tranquility is maintained. In this tranquil sea beach, there was a house of the Captain, which has now been remodeled into a heritage hotel by the Neemrana group and named it as the Bungalow on the beach. We had a lovely lunch at the Bungalow on the beach.
While returning from Maldives, we planned for a short stay at Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka. Accordingly, I booked for us at Hotel Taj Samudra. This hotel is just on the sea beach facing Indian Ocean. The hotel is quite far from the airport and it took almost 90 minutes to reach the hotel.
The hotel is a nice one and we had sea facing rooms. In the evening, we went to the beach for a walk on Galle Face Green. The sea was quite rough at Colombo and we saw huge sea waves splashing on the sea shore.
The Galle Face promenade off the sea is at a height so we could not go to the sea. The green grassy promenade is a place for families to gather and spend their leisure, flying kites, eating gram, playing cricket and soccer, or even simply jogging along to keep fit and slim. Evenings on the promenade are always choked to capacity with people and vendors.
We walked about 2 kilometers by the sea enjoying the cool breeze and then returned to the hotel for a good dinner.
The next day, we went for a city tour.
We saw Buddhist temple and other buildings and park. Sri Lanka is famous for its gems. Jaya bought a gem set from a shop for her. We bought several masks as souvenir.
We will return to home tomorrow.
This time we planned to go to Maldives on holidays. Maldives is on Indian Ocean. It is a country of small islands called Atolls. This group of isles looks like a garland and hence it got its name in the ancient times as Maldives derived from Maladwip, meaning a garland of islands in Sanskrit language.
After landing at the Male airport, we were taken to the resort by a boat.
I booked a water bungalow at Sheraton Full Moon resort on Furanafushi atoll.
Indians get visa on arrival at the airport. There is no taxi for going to resorts/atolls. The boats take the people to their destinations instead of taxis. Amazing!
The water bungalow is built on the Indian Ocean slightly away from the main land connected by wooded bridges.
The water is crystal clear and we can see deep into the ocean.
The corals and fishes can be seen under water.
The cottage is wooden, with thatched roof and had a wooden balcony on the sea.
It seems that we are on a boat and sailing on the ocean. The water is hitting the base and making rhythmic sound of splashing water. Great experience!
We used to spend the morning and the evenings on the balcony enjoying every bit of the moments and enjoying the great Indian Ocean.
There are a few restaurants managed by Sheraton on the atoll with natural ambiance, where we enjoyed our meals beside the ocean waters.
The atoll is beautifully planned and managed by the Sheraton group.
It is also a pleasure walking around with lots of greenness around. There was a nice spa. Jaya and I went for massage there.
We also went to on boat ride on one afternoon deep inside the Indian Ocean to see the dolphins in the wilderness.
The boat ride and the excitement of seeing jumping and swimming dolphins in the sea were magnificent.
Now, it’s time to return! We did not know how fast the time flew past on a small atoll!
We returned with great memories of the Indian Ocean and beautiful Maldives, as we boarded the boat to reach Male airport.
While working on the implementation of core banking solution for Trade Bank of Iraq at Beirut, Lebanon, I got opportunities to visit one of the oldest surviving cities of the world – Byblos.
Byblos is more than 7000 years old. This name was given by the Greeks. It is the same Phoenician city of Gebal. It is situated on the Mediterranean coast on Mount Lebanon.
It is believed to have been founded around 5000 BC, and according to fragments attributed to the semi-legendary pre-Trojan war Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon, it was built by Cronus as the first city in Phoenicia. Today it is believed by many to be the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world.
The site first appears to have been settled during the Neolithic period, approximately 5000 BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, the first signs of a town can be observed, with the remains of well-built houses of uniform size. This was the period when the Phoenician civilization began to develop.
With its ancient port, Phoenician, Roman and Crusader ruins, sandy beaches and the picturesque mountains that surround it make it an ideal tourist destination.
The city is known for its fish restaurants, open-air bars, and outdoor cafes.
Byblos Fossil Museum has a collection of fossilized fish, sharks, eel, flying fish, and other marine life, some millions of years old. Byblos Castle was built by the crusaders in the 12th century. It is located in the archaeological site near the port.
This is a lovely, planned tourist destination. The climate is excellent. I liked this place and will definitely love to visit it again.
We have reached Beirut for some official presentations. This is my first visit to Beirut. We have checked in Movenpick Hotel. It is just on the Mediterranean Sea. Lovely location! The room is also sea facing and the window is a huge glass window. I removed the curtains to have full view of the blue sea.
Off the coast of Raouché, there is a natural landmark called the Pigeons’ Rock (also known as the Rock of Raouché). Located at Beirut’s western-most tip, the two huge rock formations, which stand like gigantic sentinels, are a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
There are many restaurants and food joints on the cliff side of the Corniche, just above the sea.
In the morning, went for a walk down the Corniche at Raouche. It’s a beautiful promenade. There is light chilly wind blowing; it is great to walk in the morning sun. The Corniche or the wide, seaside sidewalk of Avenue de Paris is popular on weekends and evenings where strollers and joggers crowd the pavements.
I can see the white snow-peaked mountain in the front and the blue Mediterranean Sea on the left. Beautiful city with beautiful people!