Parwanoo Timber Trail – An enthralling experience

Parwanoo Timber Trail – An enthralling experience

Parwanoo is a small industrial town in the Solan District of Himachal Pradesh. Located 35 Kms away from Chandigarh and 20 Kms from Panchkula, it is one of the most sought-after places to visit on the Chandigarh-Simla highway. It is spread over a radius of 4 Kms across the Shivalik Range. The historic Kalka – Simla railway line also passes through this town and the station is called Taksal. Just a few miles to the north of the town on the Simla highway is the famous resort with a cable car – The Timber Trail. The summers are pleasant while it gets very cold in the winters, although it does not experience any snow fall. It is an ideal place for nature walks and for trekking. Nature lovers find it apt for a pleasant and relaxed walk around the pine and fir trees. This picturesque landscape offers many trekking trails around beautiful hills and forests.

Earlier it was just a small village, which was transformed into a busy industrial town over the years. Many factories operate from here, manufacturing plastics to fruit based products, watch parts and motor parts also. HPMC, home to the largest fruit processing unit is located here. The fruit orchards add more charm to the place. Fruit products like jams, jellies, juices and preserves are produced from these fruits and the contribution they make to the economy is substantial.

Accessibility -:

One can reach Parwanoo from Chandigarh as well as Kalka through buses and cabs. The nearest airport is Chandigarh. The best time to visit is from July to September.

Timber Trail

Many tourists are flocking to The Parwanoo timber trail now days. The valley lies between two adjoining hills of the Shivalik Range are connected by a Cable Car. It is a very popular tourist spot. The main attraction is a ride in the cable car. It has a capacity of 10-12 people and it ferries tourists from the Timber Trail Resort to the Timber Trail Heights. A spellbinding of view of the Kaushalya River can be seen below the cable car. In just a few minutes, one is able to cover a distance of 1.8 Kms. It is an enchanting view 5000 ft above the sea level. It is a ride you will never forget.

Places around Parwanoo-:

  1. Renuka – Renuka Lake is situated 132 Kms from Parwanoo. This dazzling lake with underground springs is believed to be the largest in Himachal Pradesh.
  2. Subathu – The Gorkha fort, which was built in the 19th century is the main highlight of Subathu. It is 16 Kms away from Parwanoo.
  3. Dagshai – Located 28 Kms from Parwanoo, It is not very popular, but Dagshai has a fresh beauty of its own. It is a favourite spot for nature-lovers. There are beautiful pine and deodar trees leading to an ancient church.
  4. Pinjore – Just 10 Kms from Parwanoo, it is also known as Yadavindra Gardens portrays a magnificent garden which reminds us of the Mughal Gardens.
  5. Kasauli – Located at a height of 5900 Ft, it is a calm and serene hill station developed by the Britishers. Manki Point in Kasauli is a must-visit.

Kasauli – A Paradise on Earth

Kasauli – A Paradise on Earth!

Located at a height of 5900 ft, Kasauli is 77km away from Shimla, in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. This small town was developed by the British in the year 1842. It is a beautiful and quiet colonial hill station. Its charming beauty keeps one captivated. It is a beauteous place to visit, especially when one wants some peace. It enjoys a moderate climate. Hikers can experience the scenic beauty on the outdoor trails of Kasauli. The best time to visit Kasauli is from April to September.

How to reach Kasauli:

  • Air Travel – Shimla Airport is only 35 kms from Kasauli and if you are coming from Chandigarh airport, it is 65 kms away.
  • Rail Transport – One can catch a train from Kalka, which is 40 kms from Kasauli.
  • Road Transport – There are frequent buses from Chandigarh to Kasauli and vice versa and from Kasauli to Delhi. One may also hire a private taxi. Many people like to enjoy the drive in their private vehicles. While coming from Delhi, one can take NH1 to Ambala via Karnal and then divert to NH 22 to reach Kasauli.

Important Tourist Attractions:

  1. Manki Point – This is the highest point in Kasauli and it is 4kms away from the Kasauli Bus Stand. One can get a splendid view of Chandigarh from this point. There is a small temple, dedicated to Lord Hanumanji, which is situated on the top of this hill. It is believed that Lord Hanuman’s foot touched this hill upon his return from the Himalayas after he had obtained the Sanjeevani Booti and therefore the top of this hill is foot-shaped. There is a steep flight of stairs that leads to the temple and it can be very tiring but it is worth going because the view from the top is mesmerizing. The enticing snow-covered peaks of Dhauladhar Range and the dazzling waters of the Sutlej river add more glamour to the hill.
  2. Dharampur – On NH 22, it is loacted 15 kms away from Kasauli. Dharampur is famous for the best hospitals to cure tuberculosis in the country. One can also reach Dharampur through the Kalka-Shimla rail.
  3. Gurudwara Shri Guru Nanak Ji – This historic gurudwara is situated in the famous Gharkhal Bazaar on the main road leading to Kasauli.
  4. Christ Church – The British Family which is believed to develop Kasauli, also constructed this enthralling church. This spectacular building has been built in the shape of the holy cross. More than 30 families in Kasauli, many tourists also visit this church.
  5. Sunset Point & Gilbert Trail – Located 1 km away from Kasauli bus stand, the sunset point is famous for its magnificent view. A trail going up the hill from sunset point leads you to the Gilbert Hill and offers a charming view.
  6. Kasauli Brewery – Founded in the 1820s, the Kasauli brewery, also called Mohan Meakins, is the oldest distillery of ‘scotch whisky’ in the Asian subcontinent.
  7. Places around Kasauli-:
  8. Jagjit Nagar – It is a calm and serene place, 8 kms away from Kasauli. It is easily accessible from Chandigarh. Many politicians, beaurocrats and boolywood stars own private bungalows here. One can get gaping views of river Sutlej and Nalagarh Baddi on the south, while the Subathu, Dhauladhar range, Shimla and The Great Himalayan Range on the northern side.
  9. Dagshai – Not very popular, located 19 Kms from Kasauli, but Dagshai has a fresh beauty of its own. It is a favourite spot for nature-lovers.
  10. Subathu – The Gorkha fort, which was built in the 19th century is the main highlight of Subathu.
  11. Sanawar –Located at an altitude of 1750m, it is just 6 Kms from Kasauli, Sanawar is famous for the Lawrence School, which was founded by Sir Henry M. Lawrence.

Qutub Minar a World Heritage Site

Qutub Minar, a World Heritage Site

Qutub Minar, the pride of Delhi, is the tallest minaret in the world. It is 234 feet high and has 378 steps. It has been dclared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. It is better known as the Qutub Complex and consists of many other architectural constructions. It attracts tourists from all over the world.

The Qutub – Creation of a masterpiece

Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first Afghan emperor of Delhi from the Mamluk Dynasty initiated the construction of Qutub Minar towards the end of the twelfth century in the year 1193, after getting inspired by Afghanistan’s Minaret of Jam. The minar was built to celebrate Muhammad Ghori’s victory over the Rajputs. Aibak built the first storey and next three storeys were added by his successor, Iltutmish (who was also his son-in-law) between 1210 and 1235.
Qutub Minar is one of the greatest masterpieces of the architecture of Mughal period. It reflects the Indo-Islamic architectural style, made out of red sandstone. The tower is cylindrical in shape and encircled by stone bracketed balconies, which are designed as honeycombs. The minaret is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the religious book of Muslims – The Holy Quran. A number of Nagari and Arabic inscriptions depicting the history of the minar can be found in the different parts of the tower. It is said that it took 20 years to build the minar and attracted a large number of devotees to offer prayers.

Damage suffered by the Minar

The minar has been bit by lightning and earthquakes from time to time. The top two floors were damaged by lightning during Firoz Shah’s rule and he restored it between the period 1351 and 1388. Inscriptions engraved on the surface indicate that Sikander Lodi repaired the minaret from 1489 to 1517. After the earthquake of 1794, Major R.Smith, who worked in the British Indian Army, also repaired and restored the minar.

Delhi’s first mosque

The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, which is situated to the north-east of the minar, is the earliest mosque built by the Delhi Sultans, was also built by Qutbu’d-Din Aibak in AD 1198. The mosque was later enlarged by Alauddin Khilji (a famous conqueror and sultan of the Khilji Dynasty) and Iltutmish. It consists of a rectangle -shaped courtyard which is enclosed by open galleris, erected with columns and carved with and architectural designs of many Hindu and Jain temples which were destroyed by Qutbu’d-Din Aibak, as stated by him in the inscriptions. Ala’i-Darwaza, which is the southern gateway of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque was constructed by Alau’d-Din Khalji in AD 1311.

Ala’i Minar

Ala’i Minar which stands to the north of Qutub-Minar, was started by Alau’d-Din Khalji, and he wanted to make it twice the size of the earlier minar. However, he could complete only one storey with a height of 25 m.
The tomb of Iltutmish was built in AD 1235. It is loacted to the west of the mosque. It is a plain square chamber made out of red sandstone and is carved with inscriptions.

Iron pillar at Qutub Minar, Delhi, IndiaFamous Iron Pillar

One can also see an iron pillar located near the minar which dates back to the Gupta Dynasty. It is an amazing piece of architecture made out of durable iron. The pillar bears an inscription in Sanskrit in the Brahmi script of the fourth century AD, which depicts that the pillar was set up as Vishnudhvaja alias Vishnu Stambh, which is raised on a hillock named Vishnupad Giri, in memory of a king named Chandra.

Current Status of the Qutub

Before 1981, the minaret was open to the public and one could climb to the top of the seven-storey narrow staircase. On 4th December 1981, during an accident, the tower’s staircase went into darkness and many people got killed in the stampede that followed the electricity failure. Most of the victims were school children. After this incident, public access has been forbidden. Due to wear and tear, the minar is not that erect as it used to be. It seems to be tilted to one side.

Birla Mandir – Delhi’s famous Vishnu Temple

Birla Mandir – Delhi’s famous Vishnu Temple.

Located to the west of Connaught Place, Birla Mandir, also known as The Laxmi Narayan Mandir is a famous hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is also refered to as Laxminarayan. One can easily reach the temple through local city buses, autorickshaws and taxis. The R.K. Ashram metro station is only 2kms from the temple. It attracts lots of tourists from all over the world. On Janmasthmi and Diwali, many devotees come here. It is considered to be one of the most popular Vaishnavite temples of India.

The Making

It was built by B.D. Birla, an industrialist in the late 1930s. Maharaj Udaybhanu Singh laid the foundation stone of the temple. Swami Keshwa Nandji performed the Yagna.  It was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi and he wanted it to be open to people of all castes.

Architectural Styles Used

The temple has three storeys and the Nagara style of architecture has been used to build it. Carvings showing Hindu mythological scenes beautify the walls of the temple. The deities of this temple were carved by artisans who came from Benaras and worked under the expert guidance of Acharya Vishvanath Shastri. Fresco Paintings adorn the shrine. The temple has been constructed using Kota stone from Jaisalmer and Kota. It is built on a high platform facing the east. The icons kept in the temple are made of marble and have been ordered from Jaipur. The complex is spread over an area of thirty thousand square metres. It has a beautiful garden with fountains. The temple has been beautified using artificial landscaping.

The deity of Lord Narayan and Goddess Lakshmi are kept in the main temples. There are temples of Shiva, Budhha and Krishna on the sides. This magnificent temple houses many sculptures and deities  Located to the north of the temple is the Geeta Bhawan which houses the deity of Lord Krishna and is also used for giving religious discourses. The dome on the left houses the deity of Goddess Durga.

Amber Fort – The Jewel of Rajasthan

Amber or amer fort jaipurAmer Fort – The Jewel of Rajasthan

An excursion to Rajasthan would be worthless without visiting the beautiful Amber Fort. It derives its name from the mother goddess – Amba. Located 11 kms from Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan, the Amber Fort is a magnificent fort built by Raja Man Singh in 1592. It is also called Amer Fort. It is a very old fort, built of red sandstone and marble. This fort consists of various structures such as ‘Sheesh Mahal’ – The mirror palace, Diwan- e-aam – Hall for public audience, Diwan-e-khas – Hall for private audience and Sukh Mahal – The hall for pleasure. Influences of muslim as well as hindu architecture can be seen in this fort. The Rajput kings used to live in this fort with their families.

The Story of Amber

During the medieval period, Amer used to be called Dhundar and the Kachwahas ruled it from 1037 – 1727 AD. After this, the capital was moved from Dhundar to Jaipur. Raja Man Singh, who was a commander in Akbar’s Army built it and it was later expanded by Raja Jai Singh I. Many of the old structures have been demolished but this splendid creation remained intact against all odds.

Amer Fort Entrance Layout of the Fort

There are four parts of the Fort and each of them has a separate entrance to it. The ‘Suraj Pol’ is the main entry and it leads to the main courtyard – The Jaleb Chowk. This entrance is in the east, hence the name ‘ Suraj Pol’ wherein Suraj means Sun and Pol means Gate. The armies used to hold victory parades in this courtyard. The Royal women used to watch them through latticed screens. This gate was open only to the Royal blood. Being the main entry, it was always guarded.

The Sila Devi Temple

The Sila Devi Temple is located to the right of the Jaleb Chowk. This impressive temple has a carving of Lord Ganesha, made out of one single piece of coral stone.The small temple has a diety flanked by two lions. The Rajput Maharajas used to worship and perform their rites and rituals here. During the Navratras (Nine day festival), sacrifices were performed in this temple. However, in 1975 the practice of animal sacrifice(Bali – cutting of a buffalo), was abolished.

iskcon devotees in amberDiwan-e-aam & Diwan-e-khas

The Diwan-e-aam, the second courtyard, which is the hall for public audience is a huge hall which is open from three sides. In this hall, the king used to address the needs of the public. The Diwan-e-khas or hall for private audience is a hall decorated with fine mosaic work. This was reserved for the king’s special guests and dignitaries.

The Sukh Niwas

The Sukh Niwas is located opposite the Diwan-e-khas has a sandalwood door. A water pipe is running through a channel in this hall, which helps to keep it cool. The Sukh Niwas or the hall for pleasure derives its name from the fact that kings used to spend time with their queens and mistresses in this hall.

The Sheesh Mahal

The Sheesh Mahal or the Palace of Mirrors is the most popular and beautiful part of Amber Fort. It is a breath-taking view. This hall is entirely made-up of glass and has some beautiful pieces of art on the walls, which are also madeup of glass. In those times the queens were stopped from sleeping under the open sky, so the king asked the architects to design a hall in such a way that one could see stars all around.

The Kesar Kyari

The Kesar Kyaari or Mughal Gardens , which was built by Mirza Raja Jai Singh adds more scenic beauty to the fort. Kesar is the hindi word for saffron. The kings used to plant saffron in star-shaped sunken flower beds.

Amber Fort – A pleasure to the eyes

The Amber Fort is a ravishing structure with exquisite architectural designs and majestic gardens. One can also enjoy an elephant ride at this fort.

All the images on this page are property of Ananta Vrindavan.