Travel

Mandawa in Shekhawati, Rajasthan – How to Reach and What to See | Travel Guide to Mandawa in Shekhawati, Rajasthan

Mandawa town in shekhawati region, Rajasthan, is among the cluster of ‘The Painted towns of Shekhawati’ and I have been meaning to visit it for a long time, having missed it out on my road trip to shekhawati region of Rajasthan two years back. This winter I visited Mandawa for a day on my last leg of 9 day winter family road trip through Rajasthan. Mandawa dazzled me with its exquisite paintings and diversity of the havelis. It definitely has one of the richer repertoires of the painted havelis and the paintings themselves.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="4032"] Mandawa town as seen from a rooftop of a haveli[/caption] (more…)

Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Best Souvenirs to buy in Jordan | Shopping Guide for Travellers in Jordan

One of the main components of my self-planned Jordan trip was also researching on ‘what are the best souvenirs to pick up in Jordan ?’ during the trip. I found that Jordan, being located in the interesting middle-east region as well having a rich mix of cultural Arab-Biblical heritage, had many things to offer in terms of handicrafts, souvenirs & other items for the dedicated ‘shopping’ traveller.

Here is the list the top souvenirs I picked up in Jordan and why they are unique.

Skin Products from the Dead Sea - The Dead Sea is renowned for its salt content and dead sea mud for its therapeutic properties. One of the must do things for travellers to Jordan is floating in Dead Sea (as the salt content prevents anything in it to drown). The Dead Sea mud is definitely special as my skin felt super soft & smooth for 2 days after I took the famed ‘Dead Sea’ bath after applying the mud. So I wasted no time in buying loads of Dead Sea skin products on my Jordan travel; there are many big & small skin care brands in Jordan selling Dead Sea sourced skin care products but the renowned ones are - Rivage, Dead Sea Treasures & Levant. 

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Pro-Tip for buying Dead Sea skin care products in Jordan: The airport duty free has a big counter selling Rivage brand skincare products at 15% reduced prices. So please skin test out the products you want at boutiques during the travel but better buy from the Airport Duty Free.


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Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Petra by Night | Guide to visiting Petra Archaeological site by night

Petra – The Lost city of stone of the Nabateans and an UNESCO World heritage site, had fascinated me since I read about this famed city, located in desert area between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, in National Geographic Magazine as a kid. Although Petra’s claim to popular fame was the Indiana Jones Movie (Raiders of the Lost Ark), I was blissfully unaware of Petra’s ‘popular’ fame and longed to visited this ancient city of the Nabateans for its intriguing history, it’s mind-boggling water harvesting system in the middle of the desert and its being one of the important caravan trading cities in the crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia for centuries.

I stayed at Petra for 2 and half days, experiencing the beauty & grand history of Petra UNESCO world heritage site in various ways -  via a walking trail through the mountains, through the siq, on a donkey ride to Monastery and ofcourse Petra by night. Read about my detailed Petra experience along with pro-tips here.

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Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Camping in Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan for one night | Jordan Travel Diaries

Wadi Rum Desert is a visually stunning valley desert lying in southern Jordan and made famous worldwide by the epic Hollywood movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ which was filmed here. Like many travellers to Jordan, we also visited Wadi Rum for the ‘authentic Bedouin camping’ safari for one night, which turned out to be mix of both good & unpleasant experiences. I am sharing here details of our overnight Bedouin Camp stay in Wadi Rum on our Jordan 8 day self - planned trip.

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Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Jordan Self-Planned Travel Guide for Indian Travellers | How to plan for Jordan trip from India – Trips & Hacks and Frequently Asked Questions for planning a trip to Jordan

Jordan  - the tiny Hashemite kingdom in the Arab region is most famous for Petra – one of the Seven Wonder of the World. This beautiful semi-arid country also has many interesting places such as Dead Sea, Wadi Rum desert and many beautiful castles & historical monuments from various historical ages such as Crusader era, Roman period and Ottoman empire. It was my childhood dream to visit Petra and me & my 2 close friends visited the stunning Jordan this year on a self-planned trip. Post our trip, we got many enquiries about our trip to Jordan and I am sharing our trip planning experience here benefit of all Indian travellers.

[caption id="attachment_5806" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Mesmerized at Petra, Jordan - My childhood travel wishlist[/caption]  

A self-planned trip to Jordan is always a better idea economically as well in terms of experience both quantitively & qualitatively. I have broken down the Trip Planning into 5 major components – (1) Travel Itinerary in Jordan (Places to Visit in Jordan), (2) Visa from Jordan, (3) Booking Flights and Accommodation for Jordan, (4) Food & Drinks in Jordan (Eating Out in Jordan) and (5) Transportation within Jordan, including for all sightseeing.

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Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

A Summer Getaway to Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh, India | Things to do in Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh on a family vacation

Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh is a pristine Himalayan region in the kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, India. The Great Himalayan National Park (one of the largest biosphere reserves in India and UNESO World Heritage site) is located in the Tirthan valley and if you are looking for a quiet time away with family amidst lofty mountains and mesmerising natural beauty, then this is the place to head on a summer vacation.  The first time I visited Tirthan Valley and Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)on a solo trip was in 2006 and was completely charmed by the pretty valley as well the warm locals. However, despite my best efforts, I could only visit it next time last year (2017) on a long weekend getaway at Tirthan Anglers’ Retreat with friends. I so much wanted to come back with my family to Tirthan Valley, so this year, our summer family road trip destination was to Tirthan Valley. It took us 1.5 days to reach the Tirthan Valley from Delhi and equal time to get back, however, the 6 days we spent here absolute bliss and my family was totally taken in by the charms of the pretty valley. Sharing our experiences of a summer family vacation in Tirthan Valley :

[caption id="attachment_5721" align="alignnone" width="688"] By the Tirthan River in Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh[/caption] (more…)

Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Schengen Visa from Switzerland | Detailed Guide to applying for Schengen Visa from Switzerland for Indians/Indian Passport Holders

Every year in summer, scores of Indians make their ultimate travel dreams come true by visiting Switzerland (alongwith some cities of Europe). One of the main preparations for a Switzerland or Europe trip is applying for a Schengen Visa for Indian Passport holders, which is also a main pre-requisite to travel to Europe. When me and the husband were preparing for our self- planned trip to Switzerland last summer, one of the most time-consuming process was for applying for Schengen Visa from Switzerland. We had to research a lot on the internet, ask our friends and colleagues who had previously gone on how to obtain a Schengen Visa for Indian Passport holders. I have written this post on Detailed guide to applying Schengen Visa for Indian Passport Holders from Switzerland, based on our experiences, collating all the information as well as practical issues faced (and how we resolved them). Read on:

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Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Things to do in Lucerne (Luzern) Switzerland | Day visit travel guide to Lucern in SWitzerland

Lucerne (or Luzern) is one of major cities in central Switzerland, popular with tourists all year round due to its charming landscape and heritage. We visited Lucerne on a day trip from Basel (Switzerland) on our 8 day self-planned trip to Switzerland. The pretty city with its beautiful lake, interesting heritage and friendly people made for an enjoyable day spent. Sharing my list of things to do in Lucerne, Switzerland :

[caption id="attachment_5699" align="aligncenter" width="688"] Lake Lucerne, Switzerland on a beautiful sunny day[/caption] (more…)

Sushmita Sarkar
Travel

Golden Round Trip to Mount Pilatus from Lucerne | Travel guide to doing the Golden Round-trip Mount Pilatus in Switzerland

Mount Pilatus or Pilatus Massif is a group of mountain peaks in central Switzerland, overlooking the pretty & popular canton of Lucerne. One of the top attractions for visitors to Lucerne is the ‘Golden Round Trip’ to Mount Pilatus from Lucerne and back. As the name suggests, the ‘Golden round trip to Mount Pilatus’ is a round trip which takes travellers through some of the most charming swiss alpine landscapes via boat, cogwheel railway, aerial cableway and Panorama Gondolas to the main peak of Mount Pilatus (which is Pilatus Kulm) and back.  On our 8 day self-planned trip through Switzerland, we planned to visit Lucerne and do the golden round trip along with the main attractions of the city. The Golden round trip to Mount Pilatus was definitely the highlight of our Lucerne visit and am sharing our experience as well as pro-tips here:

[caption id="attachment_5666" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Travellers on the boat ride to Alpnachstad on the Golden Round Trip to Mount Pilatus[/caption] (more…)

Sushmita Sarkar

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