Monday, December 29, 2014

Janakpur - Birth Place Of Goddess Sita.

We kick started our very first International bike ride from India to Nepal. Excitement levels were sky rocketing as we entered Nepal via Kakarbitta which is 30 km from Siliguri. The roads leading to Nepal are simply stunning with tea plantations on either side showcasing a green canvas on Mother Nature's lap. Also, we had our first glimpse of snow clad mountain peaks en-route to Janakpur.

Having heard so much about Nepal's hospitality and beauty, we had our first hand experience almost immediately as we got the best of the roads to ride on. The country is strikingly beautiful with the mighty Himalayas on your right and green pastures on either side of the road. The bright colored beautiful looking compact homes are one of the few striking things that you cant even imagine in your dreams.

Janakpur is one of the most holiest places in Nepal. Legend has it that this was the birth place of Goddess Sita and also this is where Lord Ram and Sita were wedded. To mark the significance of these two events, stands tall two magnificent temples - 'Janaki Mandir' & 'Ram Sita vivah mandir.' The Janki mandir is stunningly built in Islamic style with large domes and Ram Sita mandir, adjacent  to Janki mandir, is built like a Pagoda.

Surprisingly, these temples are not very old and were built in 1910. The other significance of Janakpur is the Ram mandir built in 1882. The best way to see this place would be to go for an early morning/evening walk. It is great to see this mandir still in it’s former state and also spend time soul searching.

The most impressive event in Janakpur is the "Ganga Aarti." Elaborate rituals are performed daily in the evening around 6 pm. This ritual is performed by three pujaris, dressed in their best attire, they never miss a beat and are always in sync. The bhajjans are very catchy, so do not be surprised if you start tapping your feet and start humming along with the other devotees and slowly move to trance state.

The beauty of this place is that you can pretty much see the entire town gather on the banks of river Ganga for the daily Aarti. In an age, where time is money and people are just looking at more opportunities to expand their business, this town shuts down their business religiously before the Aarti. It feels like they have shut down their worries too and come together as one big family to sing along giving them a sense of peace and contentment.

We checked into Hotel Welcome. This is one of the best properties to stay in Janakpur. They have huge and spacious rooms and bath, comfortable bed and 24 power backup. They serve good food - the biryani & masala chai is highly recommended. Also, their service is exceptionally good. The owners are very kind and helpful and are always available to take care of their guests. Another best part about the hotel is their prime location. All must visit places are within 500 mt and can be covered by foot. However, the only con is the hotel is getting a face lift and there is no lift facility as of now.

Very close to Ram mandir is the Roof Top restaurant, which is a must try. One of the best places to dine in Janakpur. The service is very good and prompt.

Next Stop Koshi Tappu

Monday, December 8, 2014

Himalayan Motorcycle Odyssey!

"It's a part of our life that we spent in the mountains."

Our love for travel, road, mountains and the bike took us to the Himalayas for a road trip that we would cherish and take to our graves. The three of us, Guy, Girl and Motorcycle headed out in search of salvation to Nepal, Bhutan and the hidden treasure, Sikkim.

Our trip started with Nepal, then we rode to Sikkim and from there we headed to Bhutan. During the entire trip of 50 days, we covered 4269 km. We made hotels our homes, fell in love with Momos, Nepali thali, Datshi, Paa, people, culture, roads, landscapes and many more.

Our Route Map
It is very difficult to put in words all the fun and excitement that we had over these two months. However hard we think, we are running short of words to describe how awesome we felt and how lucky we are to do things that our hearts have always craved for. Over the last several days, we spent a part of our lives with the incredible people of North East India, Bhutan and Nepal.

This adventurous road trip on our motorcycle took us to three places that are an extension of the graceful Himalayas, but are unique in their own way and left us enchanted by their magic. Nepal offered us a chance to see some of the most exotic migratory birds in Koshi Tappu, the birth place of Goddess Sita - Janakpur. We rode on an elephant back into the Royal Chitwan national park in search of the imperil one horned Rhino. Katmandu treated us with abundant heritage and history, we had spectacular views of Himalayas from Pokhara and visited the birth place of Buddha - Lumbini.

Our very own Sikkim offered us a change to see one of the highest lakes in the world - Gurudongmar lake, 16th century Rumtek monastery, second capital of Sikkim - Rabdentse Ruins, glimpse of super rare and highly endangered wildlife, rode on the second highest bridge in Asia, saw the gears used by the great Tenzing Norgay.

Bhutan - The awesome Kingdom that puts Happiness ahead of Money. A country that does not believe in traffic lights, yet maintains impeccable driving sense. Home of the breathtaking Tiger nest monastery.

All of this would not have been possible without the help of an integral part of our family - our Royal Enfield motorcycle. He turned out to be the best companion to do this trip with. Throughout the testing climatic conditions and terrible roads, he did run like a champ and never gave us any trouble or threw fits around. True to his tag line -"Made like a gun, goes like a Bullet," this machine is indeed a true legacy. We just fell in love with our bike all over again.

This trip will always stay very close to our hearts.