What Is Love?

What is Love? Is it what makes us try a little harder everyday? Or what makes us give up everything to follow one person around? Is it what make us look out for one person or what makes us look for ourself? Let’s see what Anahita Fotedar has to say about Love in this guest post.


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We live in a paradigm of fantasies & fault in our stars. We live in a paradigm of text message break-ups & instant attractions. We live in a paradigm between the social right & what we feel is right & somewhere along this road, we tumble our way out, without giving ourselves a moment to recover.

We hardly give ourselves time to acknowledge our feelings & then we hardly give time to ourselves to heal because we are so caught up in the rat race to reach the end, to keep up with the peer pressure & most of all to not be called out as an outcast, a loser, a nobody.

There are so many books & NYTimes guidelines these days on, “how to figure out you`re in love?”, “guidelines to love?”, “guidelines to relationships!” and so on & so forth. I don`t get it, how can you base love on empirical results, how can you treat love like it`s  a scientific experiment?

And this is post, is just a rant, so before I begin on my opinion, please keep an open mind & even if I don`t make sense, just read it out, maybe you`ll agree on a very significant point or disagree on the insignificance of this statement.

We`ve read about love in books & often times we wish to relive the kind of expression & emotion the book conveys to us, in our so called “real life”. But what exactly is love, how do you define love? Does it necessarily have to be something that stems out of a relationship that has grown from friendship to best friends to lets finally play Romeo & Juliet or is it something we acknowledge while sitting across that handsome man reading Jeffery Archer and looking all dapper & oh.my.god I am already imagining how sex would be like or is it something we fall for when we get a snippet of a persons personality in the way they type down a tweet?

Seriously what is love?

I can`t possibly fathom the number of times, I have fallen in love with the way someone tweets, or with someone sitting across me in the metro indulging in an extremely intellectual conversation or the way I am itching to write this post, because I am in love again. By this it doesn`t mean that I carry my heart on my sleeve & I wanna sleep & open up about my past to the person sitting next to me giving me the heart eyes. Seriously no.

Love makes you feel happy. Love makes you wanna do things with a 100% intensity. Love makes you wanna dress a litter more sassier. It makes you do a little twirl occasionally. It makes you healthy, seriously it happened to me. 😛

And when it ends, sure there is pain, a feeling of dejection, but there is also growth. There is that slight maturity, there is that slight knowing what suits you & what doesn’t.

And if you`re not going to indulge in these small little experiences, how are you ever going to learn about yourself? How are you ever going to spread some joy? Take it from someone whose gone through every possible thing in this world, if you can but spread even 5 seconds of joy in someones life, even if its just commenting on how well they eat the goddamn apple (I don`t know why I come up with such bad anecdotes) but it will make there day, somewhere they will either laugh it off or appreciate you, the fact is love gives you the strength to be a little happy, to be a little reckless.

And there will come a time when you will know, you`re in love again & you will know it`s intensity & you will also know whether it will end in a heartbreak or a surprise.

The fact is that if you don`t give love a try, you`re missing out on the greatest roller coaster ride of your life.

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Are you in love tonight?

P.s.- I will die an optimist & perhaps that would wrap my soul in layers of pain. It`s okay, because at least I know what living & loving feels like.

– Anahita

(Originally posted on Anahita’s Blog. Check it out here. )


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My Visit To Vrindavan Showed Me how Small Towns Retain Their Identity In The Face Of Globalisation

The homogeneity of big cities is nerve wrecking for me.

The malls, all with different names, but same shops. The roads with different names, but same cars. The cities, with different names but populated by the formal banter of “excuse me” and the rudeness of honks.

Tired of the daily gruel, I headed to Vrindavan – a small Indian town located about a four-hour drive from New Delhi.
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Vrindavan is an important city for the Hindus who believe it to be the place where Lord Krishna grew up. After the Mahabharat, Lord Krishna was destined to die a death of ignominy and his kingdom was submerged in water. The town’s real beauty was lost and rediscovered only in the late 16th century. However, what was lost in terms of time has more than been made up for. The town is teeming with temples and people. People of all races, religions, even nationalities. And what brings them together, is Krishna.

IMG_1576Lord Krishna idols (in his Banke Bihari avatar) at Vrindavan

The ISKCON temple of Vrindavan is home to believers from several countries in the world. They flock to the town of Vrindavan to listen and tell stories about Krishna and his love for his companion, Radha.  I heard stories of Krishna following Radha around, of him making a pond for Radha and her best friend, of Radha stealing Krishna’s flute to teach him a lesson. They told me the stories with utmost devotion.

They had all found their rightful place, in Vrindavan.

IMG_1822Nidhi Van- The playground of Krishna and Radha

IMG_1832The Lalita Kund, believed to be dug by Krishna for Radha’s best friend Lalita



Surprisingly, in trying to give the people their place, the town has not lost what belongs to it. It is extremely difficult to escape homogenization at the hands of globalisation. Greater connectivity, better communication channels because of a uniform language have helped us grow as a race. But haven’t they also led to terrible losses in terms of the decreasing usage of local languages? But this has not happened in Vrindavan. Though people are happy to chat in all popular languages, which are Hindi, English and Braj, they retain a special love for the indigenous culture.

It is not surprising that their identity draws upon their faith.

Radha’s name is considered holy by all believers. Legend has it that by calling out Radha’s name, one invites the sacred blessings of Lord Krishna upon oneself. Thus, honking – an industrial language is replaced by Radha’s name in this town. It is kind of an unspoken rule to roll down one’s window and yell “Radhe Radhe” instead of honking on the road. This shouting about might sound crass to you, but it is music to my ears in comparison to the city honks. In my opinion, cities bow down to globalisation quickly. So do big towns. But small towns, somehow retain their identity. And never did I feel this more acutely, than on my visit to Vrindavan.


IMG_1799‘Shri Radha’ inscribed outside a house in Vrindavan


Radhe Radhe.

-Swetambara Chaudhary


Tripoto
The author is a staff writer at Scoopwhoop!
Send her virtual chocolates on her Twitter and Facebook.

© Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Swetambara Chaudhary. 

The Big List of Travel Books

This is an attempt by the SlowRover team to create the biggest ever ‘user suggested’ list of “Books you should read while Travelling”.

We are giving you a chance to feature on this post by suggesting additions to this list in form of comments or e-mail them to us at: theslowrover@gmail.com .

You can also tweet your suggestions here.

Let’s see how many books the internet community can suggest!

Here’s the List (in no particular order) :

1. ON THE ROAD BY JACK KEROUAC

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Considered to be one of the best travel books of all times, ‘On the Road’ is a perfect way to make your holidays even better. Based on the author’s travels across America, the book provides tantalising material to delight the traveller in you.

2. A WALK IN THE WOODS BY BILL BRYSON

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My personal favourite! Bill Bryson is probably the best author of his generation and this one is his masterpiece. Written in a comic style, Bryson describes his adventures on the great American Appalachian Trail. His writing style is absolutely lovable.

3. INTO THE WILD BY JOHN KRAKAUER

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I don’t say this for a lot of books but this book certainly changed my life. It dwells on an inspirational story of Christopher McCandless, a person who left all his worldly relations to live in Alaska. The writer questions our own existence through this real life story. Interestingly, this book was adapted into a movie by Sean Penn in 2007. That’s worth a watch too!

4. THE CITY OF DJINNS BY WILLIAM DALRYMPLE

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In Mr.Dalrymple we trust ! One of the most honest writers of all times, William Dalrymple has managed to capture the soul of New Delhi in this book. Unimaginable amounts of research added to his gift of storytelling has produced a book that will be remembered for generations to come. A must read!

5. THE GREAT RAILWAY BAZAAR BY PAUL THEROUX

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Considered to be his finest work, The Great Railway Bazaar is a travelogue recounting a four month long journey through Europe, Middle-East and Asia. Featuring the likes of the Trans Siberian Railway and Indian Grand Railways, this book is sure to provide readers with some palpable moments.

ARCHITECTURAL SERIES – MOHAMADPUR VILLAGE: TEEN BURJI MOSQUE

Guest Writer Anahita Fotedar writes about a forgotten architectural marvel of Delhi.

This is the first part of her Architectural Series.


So, this series deals with, monuments in urban villages of New Delhi. Initially, I will give focus to those monuments which are not very prominent but hold an equal grandeur and elegance as that of any ruins of Chandani Chowk.

The Teen Burji Mosque, Mohamadpur Basti, R.K. Puram, New Delhi, India.

Located near the busy junction of the posh residence of Safdarjung Enclave and the district center-Bhikaji Cama Palce of New Delhi, the Teen Burji Mosque is often ignored in the hustle-bustle of the activities around it.

IMG_2871[1]View of the mosque from the main road

Built during the Lodhi dynasty, (1451-1526), it is assumed that the monument is a mosque due to its architectural features like large tomb, covered with hemispherical domes etc. Although, it is unknown as to whose grave it is exactly, but due to the imposing height of the monument, the building is considered that of a high value.IMG_2869[1]The building measures around 56.4m x 18m.

One may have the right to decipher that the imposing height of the building is directly proportional to the fact that Mohamadpur was an extended part of the Mehrauli/Munirka summer palace of the Lodhi & then the Mughal dynasty respectively. The building further consists of three different apartments, the center of which is covered with a traditional hemispherical dome, while the chambers on either side is covered by low fluted domes.

It is sad, that the authorities have closed the main doors of the monument as the monument was utilized as a public space by the residents of the urban village and the kind of activities the kind of activities they indulged in were considered harmful for the monument. On conversing with the residents, I was notified that while during the mid-afternoon and the rest of the evening men indulged in activities like gambling and conversations, during the night because of the high youth population, the monument became a place of “illicit activities”. Obviously, the terminologies left me extremely disturbed and at unrest.

What is also, interesting about this particular monument is, that even though according to the ASI regulations it is considered, a Grade I, national importance monument, the conditions in which it is left to struggle on its own, is horrendous.

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National importance? Where?

ASI or the Archaeological Survey of India, mentions that according to the importance of the heritage monument, along with the present urban conditions, a particular radius is provided around the monument in which any other built structure cannot be procreated. In case of this monument, it is a 100m stretch. However the actual scenario, is something entirely different.

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100m? More like 10cm

While the idea of waking up to a beautiful view of the monument, may sound romantic and splendid, one needs to understand that the monument itself is a living heritage, it is but a legacy of our past, our culture, and our vernacular architectural style.

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Creating my own Hauz Khas Village moment?

Before we dwell further on this topic, there has to be a brief understanding about why this phenomenon occurs in the urban villages. There are plenty of factors involved, in this situation to occur, thus to blame it on, one community or individual is out of scope. What we see today, as urban villages, were at one point of time, agricultural lands. During the Colonial era, a term called Lal Dora was coined, Lal Dora or the Red Line was an arbitrary line drawn by the Britishers to differentiate between the villages and the city centers. However,with industrialization and urbanization and the mass exodus of people invested earlier in agriculture, the face of these Lal Dora districts started morphing into low-rate, high density, plotter development lands. Mohamadpur Village, gained high density also because its next to Bhikaji Cama, a huge economic center of the city.


Rear of the monument.

Another reason, for the government authorities to shut down the main gates of the monument was the rapid growth of plotter development houses and the ignorance of the ASI laws. But one may also see this situation from another perspective, its a high density place, with no designated public spaces and parks, where would a resident possibly go?

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Some breathing space.

The only breathing space for this monument is this park in front of it. The park has become a popular congregation spot for both men, women & children of the Mohamadpur village. The open space is now a reflection of all the activities that used to take place inside the monument. Majority of the hours, you see men loitering around or indulging in gambling & conversations. Women, are not seen in the parks when men occupy it because of the very prominent caste system followed in these clusters. Which is extremely interesting because its almost like the monument is re-living its past, because even in the Lodhi dynasty most of the monuments, especially mosques were avidly visited by the men and women were left to their own devices in their pretty palaces.

While the park//open space gives you a pause point to relish and revel in the beauty and the grandeur of the monument, it also causes an obstruction because from the main road all I am able to see is line of trees. As an architecture student, what I find most disturbing is the fact, that the master plan 2021 for New Delhi, which aims at making Delhi a “world-class city” has no regards for such situations and for a moment I did think that it is perhaps because I was looking at an extremely macro scale, so I zoomed in and read up the zonal map of South Delhi, (Zone F, South Delhi-I) and even there I found nothing.

At the moment, the urban cluster of Mohamadpur is full of individuals who provide services to the city, it is a super-essential link in what formulates the back-bone of the city. It lies next to what is considered the second biggest business district of South Delhi but in reality is extremely dead, and to add upto that you have a monument begging for recognition and revival. Does this not make sense to anyone? One could totally draw the potential and services of the Mohamadpur link it to the business district of Bhikaji Cama Palace, and it could be a community powering the potential of a central district hub and the monument can finally get its recognition as a national heritage because of the incoming funds, audience etc.

On that note, I did like to bid an adieu on the first edition of the architectural series. However, please post your comments, queries, change in perspective, I did be glad to hear you guys out.

Thankyou.

– Anahita 

(Originally posted on Anahita’s own blog. Check it out!)


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The Pigeons of Jaipur

The City Palace is one of the most frequented tourist destination in Jaipur. Throngs of tourists, both Indian and foreigners, come to see this beautiful palace/museum everyday.

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The City Palace, Jaipur

All the tourists, whether they arrive in those mammoth Volvos or in the humble ‘desi’ alternative– the cycle rickshaws, have to enter the vicinity of the City Palace via a narrow gate.

I call it the ‘Pigeon Gate‘ and this is where our story starts.

Do you recall the “Coo-Coo” sound that a pigeon makes? Some people like it while some people abhor it.

Now amplify the same Coo-Coo sound a million times, add to that the sound made by the flapping of an unimaginable number of wings– that’s what standing at the Pigeon Gate feels like.

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Get Out Of The Way!!
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Now, don’t get me wrong. It is indeed an astonishingly overwhelming experience to be surrounded by pigeons who outnumber the population of certain European cities. But that’s not what this article is about.

This article is about a symbiotic relationship between humans and pigeons probably unique to this place.

Right in front of the Pigeon Gate is a massive courtyard bisected by a busy road (the same road that passes through the Pigeon Gate and eventually leads to the City Palace). The vicinity of the courtyard seems to be the favourite hangout spot of all the Pigeons of Jaipur. Boy, do they rule this place!

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The reason for this strange endearment towards this particular area, as I later found out, is food! The courtyard is perennially brimming with food grains, purposely thrown by both the tourists and the locals.

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Meanwhile, Mrs. Cow enjoying the Feast!
Flocks after flocks of pigeons accumulate all over and around the courtyard and hungrily gnaw at the abundant feast lying there. Once a flock has eaten to its heart’s content, it flies away from the spot to make way for the next flock of pigeons to do the same. Yes, all of them fly off at once! (And trust me, it is an unforgettable moment when a flock of thousands of pigeons just casually flies over your head!).
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Now here comes the interesting part. At one corner of the very same courtyard, a bunch of people were selling food-grains, which were kept in open baskets, to the tourists. Surprisingly, not even a single pigeon made an attempt to steal the food kept in the open baskets of the food-grain sellers. It was as if both the parties- the pigeons and the sellers, had made a silent agreement to keep this fruitful partnership going.

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Both of them respected each other’s territory. Both of them enjoyed the fruits!
How beautiful!

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Struck by the discovery of this constructive paradigm, I broke into a smile of cognizance.
Since it was the only thing left to do, I bought a packet of grains for 60 bucks and fed the street smart pigeons.

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I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time. Neither could they.

-Vibhav Bisht


The author is a hardworking lazy-ass! He loves to travel though!
Feel free to disturb his naps on Twitter and Facebook.

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© Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Vibhav Bisht. 

The Joy of Solo Travel!

The spirit of travel cannot be isolated from human beings. We’ve been hunter-gatherers ever since the dawn of our civilization. But alas, our eagerness to explore new territories, to witness unforeseen sights, and to learn about new cultures has fizzled out overtime.
Our society has (d)evolved into a crowd of weekend cavalcades who rarely explore beyond the set boundaries.

THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO DISMANTLE THIS ATTITUDE.

This is my attempt to remind you of an old (yet new) way to see the world—– Solo Travel.
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Solo Travel is the best way to travel. The last decade has seen a substantial increase in the number of travellers willing to explore the world sans companions. But still, there’s a long way to go.

Here is my list of reasons for “Why you should travel alone” :

1. IT’S THE BEST WAY TO KNOW THYSELF:

What kind of a person are you? How do you react to challenging situations? How well do you adapt to your ever altering surroundings?

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Probably the best way to discover the answer to these questions is to take a Solo backpacking trip across Andaman.

2. BE YOUR OWN GOD:

Arguably, the most cherished advantage of travelling alone is the spirit of freedom that comes with it. You are no longer depend on your companion’s schedule to visit someplace magical. Also, no one is there to influence your plans.
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Your Time, Your Rules, Your World!

3. LEARN ABOUT THE DIFFERENT CULTURES OF THE WORLD:

Another important merit of going solo. It provides an exclusive opportunity to observe and appreciate the differences between various cultures of the World.
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4. THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SPOIL YOUR PLANS IS YOU!

The entire journey’s success depends on your mood. You have the sole power to turn your travels into an experience of a lifetime. No one can take that away from you. Only you can wreck the caravan of experiences!

5. IT’S THE BEST WAY TO HEAR UNKNOWN STORIES ABOUT PLACES:

Every place has a story to tell. All you need to do is discover it!
During my travels, I’ve discovered a plethora of anecdotes, about places and people, that are worth knowing about.

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Discover the magical world of folklore by travelling solo!

6. YOU’D MEET AMAZING AND LIKE MINDED PEOPLE:

You’d get a chance to meet and interact with people who share your wanderlust. The problem with travelling in groups is that such interactions are nearly impossible.
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Solo-travelling is the Answer!

7. IT’S A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO GAIN NEW PERSPECTIVES:

The NEWS stories are often one sided. You must interact with the locals to know their side of the coin. You’ll gain unique perspectives about lives of the people only once they open up with you.

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8. YOU GET THE BEST IDEAS WHILE TRAVELLING ALONE:

Travelling alone has a very important perk- it connects you with your own self. It enables a multi-dimensional thought process, and thus, allows you to make better decisions. Consequently, it is quite possible to get a life changing idea while travelling alone!
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Go out there and CHANGE the World!

-Vibhav Bisht


The author is a hardworking lazy-ass! He loves to travel though!
Feel free to disturb his naps on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow SlowRover on Twitter!

© Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Vibhav Bisht. 

Lessons I Learnt From Schoolgirls While Travelling In Ladakh

A simple incident while driving through the streets of Kargil, India taught me quite an interesting lesson.

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I was busy taking in the scenic surroundings and clicking away with the camera. My hands were in sync with my eyes. As soon as I spotted something, my hands would race towards the camera.

Then the un-happening accident happened. Well, I had tried asking people for their permission before clicking them. And everyone obliged. From the army men near the Gumri cafe to the women in the houses on the Leh-Manali highway, all had just smiled at me and given me the permission to click them.

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A bunch of schoolgirls walking home caught my eye on that fateful morning. As our car passed them I lunged outside with my camera to grab that perfect shot. Their playful smiles would have looked really nice surrounded by that picture perfect frame of sandy rocky terrains. So, I decided to click them.
I looked at them seeking their permission and what lit up their faces looked like a reassuring “yes” to me. But they had serious plans to surprise me. As I clicked away, I heard a soft splash and the next moment before I could realize how badly drenched I was, I was pulling the camera inside and hurriedly wiping it dry.k1.1
And before I knew it, I had started laughing. And so had all my friends. We kept laughing for a long, really long time. The incident had taught me something important. In my desire to capture something beautiful, I had broken one of the most important rules of being a traveller. Something as simple as respecting the locals’ right to refuse being clicked.
Thankfully, the camera was fine.

-Swetambara Chaudhary


Tripoto

The author is a staff writer at Scoopwhoop!
Send her virtual chocolates on her Twitter and Facebook.

© Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Swetambara Chaudhary. 

Beaches of Andaman-A Photolog

The Andaman Islands is a group of Indian islands in the Bay of Bengal.

Boasting of having few of the best beaches in the World, Andaman is a delight for beach lovers!
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Seen at Kalapatthar Beach, Havelock, Andaman

Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman is the first stop for outsider wishing to see Andaman.
The Carbyn’s Cove Beach is the probably the most famous beach in Port Blair.
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Carbyn’s Cove Beach, Port Blair

The Havelock Island, reachable by a 2 hour ferry ride from Port Blair, is considered to be the most beautiful (and hence, the most visited) of the islands of Andaman.
Have a look!
IMG_3230Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island

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The famous Radhanagar Beach Sunset

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Another One!

By the way, did you know that the above mentioned Radhanagar beach was awarded Asia’s Best Beach by TIME Magazine!

But the Radhanagar Beach isn’t the only beach at Havelock Island.
Presenting- The Kala Patthar Beach
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An Early Morning Walk at the Kala Patthar Beach

If Radhanagar has great Sunsets, Kala Patthar provides you with unforgettable Sunrises!
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The Kala Patthar Beach Sunrise

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Time stands still at Kala Patthar Beach


While it is a beautiful experience to take long walks on this beach, one often gets reminded of the horrific Tsunami that struck this region in 2004.
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The fallen trees at Kala Patthar Beach

Think that’s all Havelock has to offer you? You’re in for a  present surprise!
Welcome to Elephant Beach, Havelock!The Elephant Beach- A paradise for water sports lovers

The first thing one notices about Elephant Beach is the plethora of shades of blue!
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Elephant Beach-The hues of blue!

Often considered to be the best place for water sports in Andaman, a jet ski ride here is a must!
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Jet Ski at Elephant Beach

If that’s not all, the evening ferry ride from Havelock Island to Port Blair is spectacular!
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The Sunset view from the Ferry.

Reserved the best for the last:
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The Dance of the Rainbow Sunset (Seen during the evening ferry ride from Havelock to Port Blair)

That’s all Folks!

-Vibhav Bisht


The author is a hardworking lazy-ass! He loves to travel though!
Feel free to disturb his naps on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow Slow Rover on Twitter!

© Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Vibhav Bisht.