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Old 20th August 2012, 16:43   #1
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Default Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

Country Roads take me, to the place I belong.......country roads.....

This Janamasthami was a long weekend and while pondering over options on where to go - decided to go back to the place where i spent my childhood and this song captures the essence of the trip beautifully.

It is a 850 km drive one way and i was relishing the prospect of taking the Scorp out for a spin again.

Started to plan with google maps and then with a query on t-bhp thanks for all the help - SS_traveller, GD1418, hvksir and other who responded to my queries and guided me.

General consensus - excellent roads all the way up till Mirzapur which is around 100 odd kms from my destination and possible to do this drive in 12 hrs.

Route - Gurgaon - Sohna - Palwal - Mathura - Agra - Kanpur - Allahabad - Gopiganj - Mirzapur - Chunar.

Destination - Chunar and Churk. Chunar is a very old and historical place around 33 kms from Benaras on NH7. Chunar fort is one of the oldest in India and it finds mention in Chandrakanta (the famous thriller by Devkinandan Khatri. It is said that this novel was so famous that people learned to read Hindi as urdu was the prevalant language at that time, early 1800s)

Chunar is also famous for its "chini mitti" ke bartan and a cement factory.

It was this - that was my destination. My dad used to work in UP State Cement Corp of which Chunar was a unit. It has since been sold to Jaypee group and they was now running it.

Churk is another unit of UP State Cement Corp. and this was the place where I spent majority of my childhood till 8th std. So was very keen to go and visit.

The plan -

Day 1 - Drive down starting at 4 am in the morning and reaching Chunar by evening.

Day 2 - Goto a nearby waterfall and from there to Churk. Visit Churk and come back to Chunar in the evening.

Day 3 - Visit Sarnath - Benaras and return back.

Day 4 - Start back towards home and stop at Agra for the night.

Day 5 - Visit Taj Mahal in the morning and return back home by afternoon. This gave me a chance to also experience the spanking new Yamuna Expy which is also incidently built by Jaypee group.


This trip had it all - awesome drives and vistas, trip down memory lane, waterfalls, Historical and religious places and the promise of being able to travel on the one of its kind expy

Some teaser pics - will post more pics tomorrow.

My black steed, white roads, amazing blue skies and one hell of a road trip!
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0891.jpg

Vision of Love
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1455.jpg

Siddhnath ki Dari - a waterfall and a local picnic spot near Mirzapur
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1002.jpg

Painting on the wall of Sarnath temple dedicated to Gautam Budhh. Why is it that we are captivated by all things dark?
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1210.jpg
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Old 20th August 2012, 18:37   #2
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Default Re: Driving down the memory lane - trip to Churk, Chunar - my childhood home!

The start

After the compulsary extended hours in office before a trip everytime, reached home around 9.30 pm. Wifey was waiting with all stuff to be packed laid out as i am the official packer when we go on trips.

Had quick dinner trying to force my mind off the office work and answering my son's excited questions simultaneously. Post dinner - brought down the suitcases and quickly packed. By this time it was already past 11pm and we were scheduled for an early start the next day - time for a shut eye!

The Scorp was already serviced and gassed and ready to go.

Early morning starts are a pain while getting out of the bed and getting ready - but once on the road, they are absolute pleasure with very little traffic on the roads.

We started around an hour later than planned - but were on the road by 5 am. I was taking the Sohna-Palwal route to get onto NH2 as this was shorter and when i had driven this route in May - the roads were pretty ok. But not this time - the roads were broken, maybe due to monsoons and once you get to Palwal, absolute nightmare. Luckily for us - no traffic meant no jams. I am sure that during normal hours - there would be a good Jam in Palwal.

The road conditions improved drastically once we got on NH2 and we were practically zipping along. Crossed Agra by 8 am after stopping for a early morning tea at McDonalds near Mathura refinery and Kanpur around 11.30 am. the roads are a dream all through and we encoutered very little traffic even though this was the start of a long weekend. The newly contructed Allahabad bypass is a dream and we stopped to click some pictures.

Cover pic for this trip - Scorp on Allahabad bypass.
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0891.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0897.jpg

Dhaan ke khet
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0901.jpg

Wide angle view of the hoizon - blue with powdery white
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0905.jpg


The only issue is that after Kanpur - there are no "good" eating joints on the road and my son absolutely refused to get into the dhhabbas that we encoutered. So anyone travelling on this route should come well stocked with eatables. We had the usual assortment of biscuits, chips, namkeen which saw us through.

Finally we turned off NH2 onto SH5 at a place called Gopiganj, and then onto NH7 after Mirzapur on the way towards Chunar.

Shastri Bridge over Ganga @Mirzapur. The whole thing vibrates if any heavy vehicle passes through. First view of Ganga.
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0914.jpg


Chunar is around 33 kms before Benaras on NH7 and we reached the coloney around 5.00 pm in the evening.

In chunar we were booked in the factory guest house. It is a different world all together and has the old world charm which you cant imagine living in the cities. With attendants fawning over you and you become sahib and mem sahib and the kids become bhaiyaji and babyji

In the 80s and 90s when we used to live there and the factory was still with government.


The houses were charming independent bungalows built by the British and came complete with fireplaces. They gave a peep into the old world and a similar feeling to what you get when living in old british cottages that you find in hill stations.

House where we used to live
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1057.jpg

Guest house lawns - complete with Helipad for the owners and chimneys in background
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1059.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1060.jpg

Showstopper!
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1062.jpg

Guesthouse - this is not the place where we stayed :(
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1064.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1066.jpg

Churk Railway station
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1089.jpg


It was a beautiful life. Totally laid back and relaxed. We had so much fun playing and hiking and going on picnics nearby.

Factory used to issue jeeps to its officers and my father used to drive a bluish grey willys - and that was also our transport when going anywhere.
This is where my love for Jeeps started.

Chimney and the amazing blue skies
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1069.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1070.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1071.jpg

It is a place with abundance of nature all around and mountains and valleys beautiful views.

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1076.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1077.jpg


My son with hardhat
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0935.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0932.jpg

to be contd...

Last edited by sach.sri : 20th August 2012 at 23:16.
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Old 21st August 2012, 15:46   #3
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Default re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 21st August 2012, 16:36   #4
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Default re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

A very nice start . Keep it coming ...
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Old 21st August 2012, 20:28   #5
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Default re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

Quote:
Originally Posted by vikrantj View Post
A very nice start . Keep it coming ...
Thanks Vikrant.

-------
Continuing with the TL.
-------


Till now things were going as per plan - and all of us were enjoying the trip. It was a special trip for me because of the associated memories from my childhood, and i was a little apprehensive as to whether the missus would give it a thumbs up or not.

I shouldn't have worried - she immediately liked the place, it was a load off my chest and I was now sure that the rest of the trip would surely be a blockbuster.

Our host - VS uncle - an old colleague of my father's had made sure that we were comfortably settled in and looked after. It was primarily due to his presence that things went smoothly and we enjoyed our stay there, i dont think it would have been half as nice had we stayed over in some hotel.

VS uncle also deputed his driver to drive us around for the duration of our stay so there was no stress of finding routes, parking - anything. and it also added to the style quotient. We sure did stay in style

We were all very excited for our waterfall visit the next day. We had to goto Siddhnath ki Dari - a local picnic stop and attraction. It was the first waterfall that my son would see and so he was pretty excited.


Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0937.jpg

Quaint little hut on the road side
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0941.jpg

Closeup - looks so neat in pictures.
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0942.jpg

Railroad to horizon
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0961.jpg

Minor stream on the route
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0966.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0967.jpg

Siddhnath ki Dari - view from road
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0972.jpg

The water reservoir - where the water collects after falling down from the waterfall
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0978.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0983.jpg


Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0989.jpg


Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0992.jpg

Different stages of the fall
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_0999.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1000.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1002.jpg

Main falls
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1006.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1017.jpg

This is the place that we could see from the road
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1031.jpg

My son and me - posing
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1038.jpg

Last edited by sach.sri : 21st August 2012 at 20:34.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 10:45   #6
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Default re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

We enjoyed our time in Siddhnath ki dari. The waterfall was a great treat to watch, but i must say one thing about our picnic spots - we dont really have any civic sense - it was littered with all kind of stuff strewn around from paper plates to plastics bottles to remains of fire that people would have used to cook as part of their picnic and was an eyesore! It was an eyesore!

Never the less - from Siddhnath ki dari - we went to Churk and enroute, saw some amazing vistas! There were mountains and valleys and mountain roads overlooking amazingly green and lush meadows - enchanting and magical. Have tried to capture some of the beauty through my lens - was missing an extreme wide angle lens - but my walk around lens did fit the bill to a good extend.


Valley view from Markundi bands near Churk
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1078.jpg

Mountain road - with greens all round
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1079.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1080.jpg

Amazing greens, blue skies powdery clouds and light play
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1081.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1084.jpg

Beautiful skies - had forgotten how beautiful and blue sky could be living in a big city
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1086.jpg

Another valley view - Ahrora near Chunar
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1097.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1099.jpg

Sun trying to peep out and 3 hillocs as sentinels
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1104.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1105.jpg

Monsoons are a amazing time for a drive and photography of outdoors. The light is not too harsh and there are clouds moving in and out give that extra little twist to the pics.

to be contd....
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Old 23rd August 2012, 11:14   #7
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Default re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

Continuing with the TL or shall i say photologue

Scorp sitting pretty
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1108.jpg

Some waterfall from the road
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1115.jpg

Lush green meadows and light play - Switzerland in UP
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1124.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1126.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1131.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1133.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1136.jpg

Scorp - Toothy Grin, after a hard day's work
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1140.jpg
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Old 23rd August 2012, 14:27   #8
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Default re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

Up next - Sarnath and Benaras.

Though not in the original agenda, having come so close to the holy city of Benaras, we were bound to think about visiting it.

I was reluctant as monsoons might not be a good time to visit Benaras. With all due respect and no intentions of hurting anyone's sentiments Benaras in monsoons is not a pretty sight and having lived close to Benaras and having visited it in all seasons i was not very inclined going there at this time. However, Annu really wanted to visit it and so finally we decided to goto Sarnath and Benaras for a quick trip.

Sarnath is a very important place in Budhhist religion as it was in Sarnath where Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon and also the place where his bones are placed in a Stupa


From Wikipedia

Quote:
Sarnath is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India. Singhpur, a village one km away from the site, was the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism, and a temple dedicated to him, is an important pilgrimage site.

Isipatana is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit, if they wanted to visit a place for that reason.
Sarnath is also the place where you can see Lion Capitol in the museum.

Sarnath is a good place to visit - it is clean and organised unlike Benaras. The main sites of Sarnath can be covered in a couple of hours. We took a guide for showing us the temples and explaining the history behind.

First up - Japanese temple built with donation from Japanese people but under the directions of a trust formed by a buddhist monk from Sri Lanka.

This particular monk (i forgot his name) looks to be a very prominent figure in Sarnath with his contribution in various temples of Sarnath.


Gautam Buddha on the right and left is a imaginary Buddha who is not yet born
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1191.jpg

Entrance of the main temple - my son the photographer
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1194.jpg

Gautam Buddha's statue in the main temple - this is of marble with gold plating on top. Beautiful work. So pleasing to the eye
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1195.jpg

Gautam Buddha's statue closeup
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1196.jpg

The srilankan monk
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1200.jpg

Various paintings on the wall of the temple depicting the life and times of Gautam Buddha
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1201.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1202.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1203.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1204.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1205.jpg

to be contd...
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Old 23rd August 2012, 14:33   #9
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Default re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

Great to see lush greenery all around with rains up North in places such as UP heartland and covering places both well known and other wise will be an eye opener for many who plan to travels in these parts of the country.

Waiting to see some more wonderful pics as the ones before!
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Old 23rd August 2012, 19:12   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by girishglg View Post
Great to see lush greenery all around with rains up North in places such as UP heartland and covering places both well known and other wise will be an eye opener for many who plan to travels in these parts of the country.

Waiting to see some more wonderful pics as the ones before!
Thanks Girish - it has been a real pleasure to drive back to the places where i used to be as a child and present them to all of you.


continuing with the TL

More painting showing life and times of Buddha from the temple

Buddha mediating with all sorts of distractions shown in this painting
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1206.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1208.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1209.jpg

Some dark character - but great painting. I liked it a lot!
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1210.jpg

The whole scene with the drak character
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1211.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1212.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1213.jpg

Depiction of the scene of Buddha giving his first sermon to 5 disciples. This is not the actual place of the first sermon - just a depiction of the scene.

However the tree behind Buddha is the Buddhistva tree - the same tree under which Buddha attainded wisdom in Gaya.

Emperor Ashoka's daughter took a "kalam" from that tree and took it to Srilanka and planted it there and from there the Srilankan monk (that we have talked about earlier) took a "kalam" and planted it here in Sarnath.

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1216.jpg

Some bell dont know the significance of this bell
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1218.jpg


The front facade of the main Buddha tempe in Sarnath.
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1222.jpg


The stupa where lord Buddha's bones are kept. This is not a hollow structure and one cannot go inside - it is fully solid and build by emperor Ashoka. Emperor Ashoka and his son and daughter have a huge role in spreading Buddhism across different countries of the world - they were the original missionaries in a sense.

The garden outside the stupa used to be Mrigyavan where lord Buddha gave his first sermon.

Lord Buddha attained the knowledge in Gaya - but he started preaching and gave his first sermon in Sarnath.

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1226.jpg

After this we went to the archeology museum where Lion capitol and other ancient stuff is kept - photography is not allowed inside the museum so no pictures - but was a real eye opener. The small terracota figurines were made with such great workmanship and skill - it was really impressive. They were highly polished and smooth and i guess could beat any such thing produced even today.

After coming out of the museum - our tour of Sarnath finished and we started towards Benaras, and then stopped..... in front of a "saadi ki dukaan". After all no lady will go back from Benaras without purchasing the famous Benaras ki saadis and here in Sarnath was a shop run by a cooperative society that offered a better bargain. So in we went and bought some stuff from there.

Now - Benaras! The ancient holy city. Legend has it that this is the oldest living city in the world which has continuously been inhabited and populated since time immemorials without any gaps!!

There a lot of ancient sights in Benaras and places to visit and temples to pay our respect, but we had to get back to Chunar, so only visited the Vishwanath temple in BHU campus.





B.H.U Vishwanath temple front face
In Benaras we visited only the Vishwanath temple in BHU. There are two Vishwanath temples in Benaras - the older and original temple is in Vishwanath ji ki gali and this is the newer temple constructed inside BHU campus - very neat and clean.

Photography is not allowed inside the temple so only photos from the outside.
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1230.jpg


B.H.U Vishwanath temple front face
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1232.jpg

Madan Mohan Malviya statue - is the umbrella to prevent pigeons sitting on this head?

It is said that the whole land on which BHU is situated - and it is a HUUUUUGE campus was granted to Madan Mohan Malviya by the Raja of Kashi and the condition was - the whole land that Madan Mohan Malviya will be able to cover on foot in one day will be granted to him for the university. And he covered that huge stretch of land.

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1235.jpg

Entry of BHU Vishwanath temple
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1245.jpg

Ramnagar Fort from the opposite bank of Ganga
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1255.jpg

This was taken on the way back to Chunar. The plan was to goto Chunar Killa and then return back to the guest house. Chunar Killa is supposedly one of the oldest (or even the oldest!) Killas in India.


A wet structure en-route Chunar Killa
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1270.jpg

Boundary wall of the Chunar Killa - we went till the entry but then turned back as it was raining and close to closing time when we reached there.
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1277.jpg

Some curious structures when approaching the Chunar Killa - looks like some sort of graveyard.
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1273.jpg


to be contd....
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Old 24th August 2012, 11:10   #11
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Default Re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

This was our last day in Chunar and we would be starting our drive back the next day.

The plan was to stop over in Agra for the night and visit Taj in the morning before starting back for home.

We drive back was as expected - butter smooth and no hiccups. We started around 9 am from Chunar and were checking in our hotel in Agra at around 5pm.

We were staying in Clark's Shiraz on Taj Road and the GPS did its job to perfection in guiding us to the Hotel. On the way - we saw some beautiful monument and also the Taj - it was beautiful and we took a stop to capture the beauty. There were clouds in the sky and expectations of rains - and the lighting conditions were changing by the minute - took some pics in different light conditions

Some monument in Agra - dont know which but love the clouds in this pic
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1381_1.jpg

Jharokha in Agra fort
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1391.jpg

Taj Mahal opposite to the Jharokha - from the road. In different lighting conditions

This is a pretty good spot and you get a full view of the Taj from here.
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1398.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1399.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1400.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1404.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1415.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1416_1.jpg

A closeup of the last shot
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1416_2.jpg


After taking these snaps we reached our hotel ably guided by the GPS - and checked in. Checked with the Hotel staff on what and how of visiting the Taj, i was hoping that they will help me purchase tickets by having someone stand in the queue on my behalf - but alas, they did not offer such kind of service.

Anyways, it was time for dinner and then sleep - had to get up early in the morning for seeing Taj. Dinner was average affair and all of us then fell asleep dreaming about the Taj.



to be contd...

Last edited by sach.sri : 24th August 2012 at 11:12.
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Old 24th August 2012, 13:34   #12
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Default Re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

Next day morning we wanted to reach Taj by 6 am but got delayed by about an hour and half and finally reached West parking lot of Taj by 7.30 am. It had started raining and we had only one umbrella - had to purchase a rickety umbrella @ 200 rs!

Anyways - rains and the early hour (still) meant that there was not much crowd on the ticket window and we had hired a guide to show us around and he got us the tickets, etc. The guide charged us Rs. 575/- and he said that it is the govt. rate? Though i am not very sure about that (can anyone confirm this?)

Anyways - having a guide certainly has benefits as he takes you around in an organised fashion and also briefs you on the history. The guide was good and it was a relaxed experience.

I will let the pictures speak for them now.

Royal Gate - side view with greens. This is the gate which you pass to get to Taj
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1434.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1436.jpg

Royal Gate front view - with the customary group pic. one of the advantages of having a guide - he can click your pics also
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1445.jpg

Taj from inside the Royal Gate
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1455.jpg

Presenting - The TajMahal. Monument of Love. The guide said that at that time it took them 4 crore to build the Taj. With the stones brought from all over the world. and the MArble from Makrana in Rajasthan

Now the pics that will follow will be of Taj, Taj and some more Taj... cant get enough of it

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1459.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1459_1.jpg

Group photo infront of the Taj - Taj is over exposed though
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1460.jpg

My son catching the Taj
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1464.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1476.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1477.jpg

to be contd...
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Old 24th August 2012, 16:03   #13
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Default Re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

[quote=sach.sri;2881179]Some monument in Agra - dont know which but love the clouds in this picAttachment 974498


This is Itmaduddaulah Tomb complex. The tomb proper you see are the two minarets (part of 4) that is reaching hard to mark its presence. It was built by Nurjahan for her father.

For many and it includes me, the experience of this place is even more serene than the Taj Mahal. Its humane proportions compared to the grandiose one of the Taj draws you towards it.

Most of the tourists give it a miss but you can't understand the Taj Mahal without visiting Itmauddullauh's Tomb. See it when you visit Agra next. You'll love the monument and its serene atmosphere. Besides there are so few people visiting the complex that the visit to the Taj next will feel like a stampede.

BTW can you tell me whether it's safe to visit Chunar Fort? When I had wanted to go there while I was in Varanasi in November I was told to stay away from Chunar as Maoist/Naxals occasionally are known to use the place as their hideouts.

Thank you for your excellent TL and stunning photos.

Last edited by anandjha : 24th August 2012 at 16:04.
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Old 24th August 2012, 18:27   #14
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Default Re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

Quote:
Originally Posted by anandjha View Post

This is Itmaduddaulah Tomb complex. The tomb proper you see are the two minarets (part of 4) that is reaching hard to mark its presence. It was built by Nurjahan for her father.

For many and it includes me, the experience of this place is even more serene than the Taj Mahal. Its humane proportions compared to the grandiose one of the Taj draws you towards it.

Most of the tourists give it a miss but you can't understand the Taj Mahal without visiting Itmauddullauh's Tomb. See it when you visit Agra next. You'll love the monument and its serene atmosphere. Besides there are so few people visiting the complex that the visit to the Taj next will feel like a stampede.

BTW can you tell me whether it's safe to visit Chunar Fort? When I had wanted to go there while I was in Varanasi in November I was told to stay away from Chunar as Maoist/Naxals occasionally are known to use the place as their hideouts.

Thank you for your excellent TL and stunning photos.
Thanks Anand. Indeed this looked to be a beautiful monument - we just did not know which one. This time the Agra visit was just a stopover and quick trip to Taj. We did not see anything else in Agra - even though my son wanted to see Itmauddulah's tomb. Now i can tell him that this is the tomb .

BTW - sorry for the OT - but Noorjahan was an Irani and her father migrated to India because they had fallen on hard times. Akbar appointed him as treasurar in Kabul where Jahangir met Noorjahan while he was in exile in Kabul - following his unsuccessful rebellion against Akbar - and he wanted to marry her, but she was bethroted to someone else who Jahangir got killed when he became emperor so that he could marry her.


Will surely visit it the next time when we goto Agra.

Regarding Chunar fort - it is safe. Infact, there is a PAC cantonment in the fort and they use it for their training purposes. So - you can have the Maoist/Naxals in there.

Also - in general, if you take precaution to not to venture out after dark - you are ok. And anyways, the area after Sukrit towards Chunar is fine and not that much impacted by the Naxals.

Last edited by sach.sri : 24th August 2012 at 18:43.
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Old 27th August 2012, 12:39   #15
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Default Re: Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!

Continuing with the TL

Different moods of Taj
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1478.jpg

Like this pic - with clear reflection in the fountain
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1480.jpg

Slightly different WB - a warmer look
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1480_1.jpg

Single Minaret - they are designed so that in case of earth quake or something like that, they fall away from Taj and not onto Taj
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1486.jpg

Main body - without the Minarets. It is a imposing structure. Almost Surreal
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1490.jpg

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1491.jpg

Guest house for royal guests. On both flanks you have these same structures, one is the guest house and the other one is a mosque. Prayers are offered in the mosque even today on Fridays.

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1492.jpg

Jharokha with beautiful stone masonary. The stones used for this had been brought over from all over the world

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1493.jpg

Wider view of the Jharokha - all the black "script" are holy verses from Koran. Colors have come out beautifully!

Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1494.jpg

On the way to the platform on which Taj Stands.
Monsoon drive photologue - Varanasi, Agra, Chunar & Churk!-img_1495.jpg
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