Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Where to meditate in India to find maximum energy source?

1. Kasar Devi in Uttarakhand

kasar devi uttarakhand kumaon

I love Kasar Devi, not just because of its isolated ambiance but I had experienced a peculiar energy in the whole valley. I first visited this small hill-top village in 2007 when I had no idea about the place. Kasar Devi is less known destination though it is just 30 km away from Almora. Tourists go to Almora and then travel to popular places like Binsar, Patal Bhubeneshwar and other places, ignoring this small hippie junction of Kumaon.

Kasar Devi was first mentioned in Swami Vivekanada’s diary as a spiritual center. Later on Walter Evans-Wentz who translated the Tibetan Book of the Dead lived here for some time. People actually don’t know but this small hamlet was a focal point of many spiritual seekers from different segments of life. Danish mystic Sunyata Baba (Alfred Sorensen) lived here for 30 years, from 1930 to 1960. There are other famous people like Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, George Harrison, Timothy Leary, DH Lawrence spent some time at some part of their lives here.

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There is a small temple complex built in 2nd century CE, which has an extraordinary place for meditation. Swami Viveknanda meditated here in a cave, which is unfortunately not maintained at all. It is studied that the earth magnetic field is quite remarkable in this particular part of India. Many spiritual aspirants believe this is conducive for meditation and other sadhna (spiritual practices).

2. Bhuj, Gujarat

ancient shiva temple in bhuj gujarat
Ancient Shiva temple in Bhuj
There is a small, parched dry region in the western state of Gujarat, 12 km from Bhuj where a small Shiva temple is situated. This less known temple origin is not confirmed but the Archaeological Survey of India has studied its origin dated back somewhere between 11th or 12th century CE. Very few people know the exact address of this place but there is a signage constructed by ASI that gives the direction of the place.

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Some spiritual aspirants claim that the place has some extraordinary energy that is too powerful for meditation. You can sit still for the whole day and accumulate power within. There is no disturbance except some squirrel and birds.

3. Arunachala, Thiruvanamalai

arunachala ramana maharishi

Arunachala is famous of Ramana Maharishi’s cave and known as a great energized land for decades. This is the place where Maharishi Ramana had meditated for 22 years. The caves are believed to be highly energized space and many seekers spend days here for meditation.

You can also stay in Ramana Maharishi Ashram, which is managed by the trust. You have to book in advance for your stay. The morning and evening prayers at the ashram temple is truly an exhilarating experience. There is a say that if your intent is clear, you can start at early 4 am and slowly walk the hill clockwise. By the time you cross 3/4ths of the hills, you can directly perceive a huge amount of energy within yourself.
4. Tapovan, Uttrakhand

tapovan gaumukh uttrakhand
Tapovan near Gaumukh
Tapovan is perched at 4500 m with mighty Shivlinga Himalayan range just behind this snow clad meadow. The place is quite hard to access, from Gaumukh one has to trek 4 hours to cover two and half kilometer distance to reach Tapovan.

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Earlier there were three sadhus and one lady from Israel lived there. Now, when I went there, there was only one sadhu, a young and silence monk lived there. He lived in a well-structured room with all necessary facility. He never speaks but joyful and talks to people with the help of pen and paper. There are trekkers who visit the place and return back after an hour or so, but there are some spiritual aspirants who stay there for a week or even month in tents.

5. Netala, Uttarakhand

netala in uttrakhand, uttarkhashi

Netala is situated 9km from Uttarkashi in the state of Uttarkhand, Garhwal. The small village is located beside river Bhagirathi, which goes on to become Ganga in Devprayag. The place is serene, naturally blissfully and you can sit wherever you want to. Not many tourists come to this place so you can just walk to the middle of river bed and find a rock and meditate.

You can find a few small hotels nearby, though not so good in amenities, still satisfactory for a spiritual seeker.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wandering and meeting sadhus during my Yamunotri pilgrimage

For a long time I was not traveled far distance to mountains but in 2015 Autumn I found a chance to go to my beloved place – Himalayas. I had no work as I was officially unemployed, which gave me the opportunity to travel. I went on thus for a long time, I may say without boasting, faithfully minded my way of living for at least a few days in the Himalayas. I had no laptops, no calls from clients or office; it was absolutely bliss to travel with freedom.

Himalayas have trapped me years ago. It is not just because I like mountains; earlier I thought I liked mountains more than anything else, but there are more things than just stiff mountains that keeps me hold tight for so many years. If you are perceptive enough, you can get certain hints about the true nature of Himalayas, or other way round is to visit those places recurrently to get such a habit, the mountains won’t let you go for rest of your life.  I have learned from my eight years’ experience, it would cost incredibly low to travel in mountains and you are enriched with such wisdom, not just looking at snowy peaks, but the ambiance, people, pilgrimage, overall life all around. To me, Himalayas present the most surprising elements, and one of the elements is various types of sadhus. I have met lots of these wandering monks, most of them were very old, majority was peaceful, and a few were flamboyant. It is a small place to write down all people here; still I try to recapitulate some impressive sadhus and my experiences with them.

 (Because of the nature of brevity in the blog writing, I just cite here 2015 experiences)

Ram Bharose Ji in Yamunotri

Living there in his small temple cum living room for last 50 years, it is said this ever smiling 80 something saint never crossed the bridge that joins the Yamunotri temple and the road. In winters Yamuntori is shut down completely because of heavy snowfall, but this devotee lives there and every day he does all the regular rituals. He wears minimal clothes and pretty much active doing all his daily chores including cooking, washing etc. 

I had heard his name at Janki Chetti and wanted to meet him. At first when I reached the temple, first thing that captured my attention was his honest and beautiful smile. He meticulously cooked food, served it to his worshiping God and Goddesses. He asked me to take the food and at least asked me four times whether it was all right. We had some talks and then returned back. I would love to stay there for some more time, perhaps couple of days, but somehow I returned back.

Naga sadhu en route Yamuntori

This huge sadhu lives in a cave with a DVD player, mobile phone, speakers, lots of containers and a thick photo album. A druggist with his own whim but calm and composed stature, he offered me smoke, which gladly accepted but unfortunately felt nothing after smoking three rounds. He showed me his photo albums, displaying lots of younger days photographs, naked, stoned, doing all sorts of austerity and acrobatics including twisting his penis with a rod etc. 

He asked me to donate something for his cave that I silently denied. He also said I could stay in the cave as long as I wished but I also refused. He asked me whether I was married or not, and after knowing my marital status, he suggested me to get married. When I rebuked and said I didn’t feel to do that, he asked me to become a ‘baba’. 

I sometimes wonder why it’s necessary to take an extreme step when there is an option to live a good life within the boundary of a regular living. At least I am living it without a pinch of dishonesty in my statement.

Ram Das Mauni Baba

Although he was said to be a mauni (silent) sadhu, he spoke to me a few words. Undoubtedly, he was the best sadhu I have seen so far. Too old to stand straight properly but I never saw him sitting idle in three days. Sometime he was cleaning his temple, sometimes he was feeding his cow, sometimes cutting fruits, but never sitting idle. His worn out loin cloth didn’t properly cover his private parts, but it hardly mattered to him.  Earlier he was completely silent sadhu for more than 20 years, but now, I learned he spoke a little. We had a brief conversation when he asked me what I do. 

Every time I was about to return back from temple, he offered me a piece of fruit. The most impressive feature of this sadhu was his eyes, blood shot, big with a bright glow. It was remarkable eyes, penetrating deep into my hearts and it seemed read all the content.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Rituals and Religion of Ladakh

ladakh teaching monasteries

Politics and national interest have been inextricably and inevitably linked with religion in Ladakh. The success of Buddhism here was not simply a matter of vanquishing its adversaries outside Ladakh – Brahminism in India and the Bon Chos in Tibet. It was the unifying role it played in enlarging autonomous tribal clans intro centralized feudal kingdoms. When fleeing monks and the laity met with strong resistance from local principalities, they were forced to assume a martial character, which ironically added a warlike dimension to a pacifist religion.

Forts and monasteries grew a pace as expansionist kingdoms consolidated their temporal and spiritual powers by extending their frontiers, so establishing Buddhism in Ladakh, Song-sen-gam-po, a legendary figure, was one such tribal chief and in stories about him it is often difficult to sift fact from fiction. Yet it is true that he made deliberate use of religion by contracting marriages with Buddhist princesses from Nepal and China to secure his position, and so founded the first Buddhist kingdom in Tibet. In strategy, he was an inspiration for later Ladakhi kings.

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Ladakhi Buddhism teaching and its stories

sindhu festival in ladakh
Sindhu festival in Ladakh
Ladakhi Buddhism is usually identified with Tibet, although the original inspiration came from Kashmir, probably during the Kushan period. It was later that the Tibetan branch established itself under what is termed the Second Advancement. This was Buddhism in its more developed and institutionalized form, inspired by the teachings of the Indian Monks, Padmasambhaba and Atisa. They had sought asylum in Tibet when Buddhism lost its royal patronage in India, and wanted to reflect the teachings of Sakyamuni as sincerely as possible.

Central to the Buddha’s teaching was the belief that every soul has the capacity to reach a state of enlightenment without the assistance of priest or rituals. Nirvana could be achieved by following the reformist or middle path.

The complexity of Buddhism lies in this concept, where the Bodhisattva returns to the world in several incarnations, striving for the liberation of mankind. A thousand Buddhas, of whom Sakyamuni is the fourth, will have to seek birth for the liberation of human souls. With the development  of the Vajrayna school – the vehicle of the Thunderbolt – Tantric elements from Hinduism also merged into Buddhism. In particular, the feminine principle of power was introduced. As Buddhism spread, it did not suppress the well-developed cosmology of the earlier religion, Bon Chos, but absorbed its gods, demons and its rituals.  Perhaps these are the inspiration for the Dharmapalas, the fierce-looking guardians of the law, who feature in the gompa dance-drama.

Mahayana rituals and traditions

Thiksey Monastery
The theological shift from Hinayana’s ascetic mould to the more practical Mahayana ideal of Bodhisattva removed for Nirvana-seekers the necessity of giving up their worldly concerns. The Mahayana ideal explains the attitude of the lay Buddhist who olds back his own salvation to help others reach the right path.

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Buddhist Gompas & Healing Practices

As a consequence, Mahayana Buddhism helped intensity the contact between monk and the community. In this process, the representational aspect of the Buddha was deified, and a pantheon with personified forms was the logical consequence. Under the influence of the Bhakti movement, Buddhist practice underwent major changes. The oral tradition came to be systematized into written tests, and the laity to be socially organized into congregations.

Ideas and Icons

The deification of the Buddha developed a complex and fascinating iconography. The basic idea is that of the five Dhyani Buddhas and their related Bodhisattavas, which are elaborated in the mandalas. The Tantric additions of the female deities are not fully evolved in the older temples or gompas.

The gompa is the living vehicle of Ladakhi Buddhism and iconography, the entrance of the du-khang or the main temple is guarded by the lords of the Four Quarters. They can be identified by their colors and attributes: North: Kuvera – yellow banner and mongoose; South: Vimdhaka – green or blue, elephant head and sword; East: Dhritarashtra – white, playing the lute; West: Virupaksha – red, carrying a chorten.

The sidewall of a gallery also has the Wheel of Life represented by three concentric circles. The innermost signifies anger, desire and ignorance, represented by the cock, the serpent, and the pig, respectively. The middle circle represents the six states of existence – the worlds of the gods and demigods, death, hell, animals and men. The outer circle represents the chain of causation through 12 symbols.

Importance is also attached to the Dharmapalas: Mahakala (time), Yamantaka (death), Shugdan and Vajra Bhairava. These are usually to be found in the la-khang or the go-khang, both inner sanctuaries where women were forbidden access. The female deities are represented as Green and White Taras on either side of the Amitabha figure. They appear on the ceiling of the Kaikani Chorten. The Dolma Dolkar and The Dolma – Tara images –are often found the du-khand. Sometimes a special temple is dedicated exclusively to the Taras, like the shrine of Tara Doljan at Spituk, where on days ordained by the Tibetan calendar, glass bangles are offered as part of the fertility rate.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Quest for Krishna consciousness: Ashram life in Vrindavan

vrindavan, anandomoyee ma ashram
Sri Anandomoyee Maa Ashram
I was carrying a book named ‘Death Must Die’, written by Atmananda who was a disciple of Sri Anandomoyee Ma. The book was an account of personal spiritual quest by Blanca, an Austrian lady who left his country in search of spiritual awareness. It was a first-hand account of Blanca, later on Atmananda who had close associations with India’s greatest modern saints, unfolding her personal life from the pages of her diaries.

Upon arriving in the Vrindavan, the first reaction was to run away. The place didn’t have the charm of Varanasi as I was expecting to be. Moreover, the heat and humidity drained me completely after a few kilometers of walking. I felt a tremendous urge to leave the city without visiting any temple. Almost 2 hours of sauntering around the lanes, temples and ashrams, I couldn’t find a single place to stay.

Then I thought to go to Ramkrishna Mission, but upon arrival I found it as a charitable hospitable. It was a disappointment and again I was walking down the road and suddenly I crossed the ashram of Sri Anandamoyee Ma. Well, it was a fortuitous event, to the best of my belief, which convinced me to get a stay in this sprawling ashram, established in the name of a saint whose book I was reading for last two days. Eventually, I found an appropriate place to stay, with Vidur, a guy from U.P., a regular visitor who cleared some of my doubts about Vrindavan later on.

Evening Bhajan and emotional outburst

In Vrindavan, everyone as it seemed in a comforting illusion, love towards Lord Krishna was imbibed in the whole atmosphere. My intellectual stream of thought made it difficult to understand the essence of their devotion; also I was too wrenched from the religious structure of our society.

My pride was shattered in the first evening when I had attended evening aarti (evening prayer and ceremony) and devotional songs in the ashram. The secretary Shyamal da, a 50 plus old bramachari (celibate monk), sung 14 songs, pouring his emotions into it. I had observed that the whole atmosphere was gradually grasping from the very core of my heart. At the middle of ceremony, my eyes were wet and shed stream of tears.

From the slokas, songs and overall atmosphere, a sense of self-analysis and reflection came automatically wherein the discursive mind was profoundly stilled and from the stillness spontaneously arising a more fundamentally authentic level of consciousness. I must say it was an emotional outburst, but as a “reasonable man”, I was fully aware of things, depending on my direct experience rather than blindly follow a faith.

vrindavan ashram anandamoyee ma temple

There is a profound spiritual unfulfilling feeling for the last 3-4 years that disturbs me immensely. I feel I am at a crossroad of my life where I have to have a strict decision to stick upon. When I saw young westerners and even old ones at ISCKON, I thought why and what drew these men and women to come to Vrindavan. There were old westerners who left their comfort after such a long habitual way of living and embraced Krishna Consciousness in the small, filthy and terribly crowded city like Vrindavan.

Ashram life – seclusion and discipline

In the ashram there were six young boys, all below age 20. I was amazed to see that those boys had dedicated their studies learning Bhagavatam and other Hindu scriptures. All of them were minutely performed all rituals, with complete dedication and love. 

Ashram life was not hard, particularly because I was a traveler or guest there, but I maintained a life of devotee out there. I woke up in the morning then after bath, I went to the temple for morning bhajan and mediation, and then breakfast at ashram. It was very light breakfast, probably some potatoes or chapatti (Indian bread) and a glass of milk. Then I stayed there or roamed around Vrindavan, but personally I didn’t like much the whole surroundings, particularly because of ferocious monkeys and heat. I preferred to stay inside the ashram, read and written down my notes.

isckon temple vrindavan architecture
ISCKON Temple in Vrindavan
Many people ask or wish to ask perhaps, what’s the principle difference living in a secluded place or ashram, if you are doing almost the same routine. Well, there is one principle difference I find while staying in mountains or in ashram or monasteries is the level of concentration, to an extent of heightened awareness. It happens during smoking pot, but solitude living naturally impose that awareness within me, of course without any physical discomfort like marijuana.  

I would wish to stay in that place for more but I have certain works to come back to Delhi. Shymal da (the secretary) asked me to come again and stay there for a few months. He told me that I was in a juncture where I had to decide quick about my life. I understood what he meant and I said prostrate before him and bid adieu. 

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pages from my Yamunotri travel and ruminations

It has taken years to understand the real meaning of traveling, still I believe I am not fully realized the impact of my wanderings. We humans are very utilitarian, especially our class of people who always want to get something out of everything.  I am not sure about my planning and that creates utmost difficulties, both mentally and physically while traveling.

August 14, 2015

Rishikesh (Om Guest House)

rishikesh lakshman jhula
Lakxman Jhula in Rishikesh
Without understanding where to go, I hopped on to a bus to Rishikesh. This is a very typical method of mine, whenever I feel doubt where to head on, I ride on to Rishikesh. The place is always being my stopover juncture, though it’s been a long time I hadn’t visited this bustling Himalayan foothills.

I thought of getting into a different guest house this time, but most of them were expensive despite of the fact that it was not exactly a tourist season. So, I had decided to head for my familiar Om Guest House whose owner instantly recognized me, even after 2 years. 

“ Room with river view Rs. 400, and without the view Rs. 300.” He said.

“ Just give me Rs. 300, I will go and see the river.” I retorted with a smile.

The room and washroom were clean; though bed sheet was not new. Personally I don’t mind in anything as long as there is a clean washroom.

ganga beach near rishikesh
Ganga Beach near Rishikesh
I cleaned myself, paid the rent for two days and went out for a heavy breakfast in German Bakery. Rishikesh was so familiar, it seemed a home to me. I knew exactly where was what, so I wasn’t a tourist at all, still I didn’t explore much in this town except a few familiar places where I could sit tight for hours without any disturbance.

I liked the way shops were lined up to till an end to Swarga Ashram road. The road suddenly became desolate and then I started finding a place to take a rest nearby the river. I sat near on the lonely ghat where a sadhu was attentively writing something on his notebook. I deliberately looked at him, expecting him to see him, but he seemed totally absorbed in his writing. There were one young boy and two girls playing in the water. It was very calm but humid morning and I was trying to absorb in the surrounding. There were plenty of thoughts gushing into my mind and my deliberate attempt to stop my internal babbling seemed futile, so I looked again to the sadhu who was still absorbed in his writing. After sometimes, two more sadhus came to this place with their food and asked that writer sadhu to join them. There was a sense of calmness in the face of that sadhu and it was perfectly fitted with the meandering river and silence.

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Spiritual Journey to Rishikesh

August 15, 2015

I woke up early with loud jingoistic uproar in the street. Then the thought surfaced in my mind that it was Independence Day. I went for a bath in Ganges, the chilling water of the river instantly refreshed the whole body, preparing myself for Devprayag’s journey.

Devprayag and Ramkrishna Sharda Math

I first met this rather young sadhu of Ramkrishna Order in 2012 when we both were traveling in the same compartment of the train. Second time when I went to Rishikesh in 2013, I had gone to meet him in Devprayag. He then welcomed me full-heartedly; at the time he was working to build the monastery, staying in two small rooms with one disciple. He invited me and asked me to stay overnight. I listened to him attentively and talked a lot about my life and general way of living. He asked me to stay and do ashram’s work, but I left the next day.  In 2013, Uttarakhand tsunami crushed the whole state, particularly mountainous regions. I once thought to call him but my innate nature of indifference and certain personal circumstances didn’t allow me to call him.

This time I went to Devaprayag to meet him with a hope of gaining certain insights. First he didn’t recognize me but later on when he did, he asked me to have my lunch. I had finished my food in complete silence while looking at him attentively. I instinctively felt he was not at all affectionate as he was in the earlier times and the feeling was fortified when after lunch he bid adieu by saying “come again”.

August 16

Every time I think of one place and land up in a different one. I thought I would go to Kedarnath, but I went to Yamunotri. It’s rainy season so there were very few pilgrims in Janki Chatti, the last stop from where trek to Yamunotri starts. For the first instant, I fell in love with the place. There were very few people, some hotels, small village named Kharsali and thundering Yamuna river passed through.  

In the evening,  I went for a leisure stroll in nearby Kharsali village. I was amazed by the cleanliness and exquisite village houses. People were simple, but extremely poor, small children wore torn pants and shirts but all of them were smiling. Most of them didn’t have any occupation, solely depend on pilgrims. There were small houses when men and women were living their lives in hope and certain air of despondency. 

Life is cruel for poor, especially those poor people who want to create a family, raise their children, educate them, proper food, clothes and basic stuff. Nevertheless, those innocent village eyes didn’t reflect despair, unfulfillment and impatience.

A Yugoslavian monk and living in present

There was an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shani (Lord Saturn) where I met this lanky, tall and mysterious Yugoslavian man. He was immensely tall, sported a beard and long hair. He was thin as matchstick, wearing a full sweater and old sleepers. The thing that attracted me was his broad smile and Hindi fluency.

He spoke with me very little and too my surprise, spoke in fluent Hindi. When the priest of the temple sported tilak on our foreheads, he uttered some Vedic slokas fluently. Later on he told me that it was a special slokas from Vedas on Tilak Ceremony. 

I met this man once again in the nearby village. I was told he had become a monk in Ukimath, but when I met him, he seemed to me a lost soul. When I told him there was a very good Shiv Temple nearby, he suddenly became defensive, enumerating his exploration of thousands of temples. For a few seconds I saw a disappointment in his eyes and his face reflected despair. When I asked him what his plan was for the next day, he said he didn’t know.

“ में वर्तमान में जीता हूँ, भब्यष्य काल में नही है ”

( I live in present time, not in future.)

August 17, 2015

Trek to Yamunotri

I started early in the morning with empty stomach. I never anticipated that it was so exhausting to climb just 5km but the path to Yamunotri was too steep. I had started at 7am and thought to reach at 9 am but it took me 3 and half hour to reach Yamunotri.

However, the journey towards the temple had overwhelmed me with the natural beauty. I stopped numerous times at various places to see, to observe nature’s magical passes through roaring waterfalls, verdant forests, unknown chirping of birds and mysterious atmosphere all around the valley. 

The trek route is probably the best with smooth cement paved track all through the bridge at the entrance of the temple. However, it is also the steepest I have ever experienced till now compared to my earlier treks. 

The distance from Janki Chatti to Yamunotri is mercifully 5km but it takes lots of energy to reach the temple complex. After reaching generally pilgrims do a bath in hot water that comes through the mountains. It refreshes the body and prepares people to do rituals in a calm way.

August 18 and 19

I stayed in Janki Chatti for next two days and spent some time in the village. It was a fortuitous event I met the most extraordinary sadhu in my life. This monk called Ram Das Mauni Baba (silent monk) was 80 plus, staying there for last 40 years. He was not even concerned about people around his temple, most of the time engaged in his daily work. He only ate fruits and dry fruits and never cooked anything for last 40 years.

I will take a separate chapter of my visitation with monks in Yamunotri.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Top 6 things not to do in Thailand to enjoy most

thailand canal local homes

Every place has its own charm, uniqueness and some reasons to rejoice. It depends on the priority and psyche of a person how he or she can take thing wholeheartedly. I have met people who told lots of stories about Thailand, how filthy streets were, how stinky those foods were and other despicable thoughts. There are people who find even Afghanistan, a barren land, a heartening experience. It depends not only on what you are looking for, but also how well you can get experiential beauty of it.

One thing is I’m sure that most of the people agree with me, Thailand isn’t boring. It has a certain life energy that flows through its landscape. You can find everything here; from party to serenity; from seducing beaches to dense forests; from backpackers ghettos to innumerable monasteries. There are ten things in my opinion travelers should not indulge in to relish Thailand more than regular travel.

1. Don’t stay in Bangkok

bangkok street homes local

I know many travelers including seasoned ones who rapaciously promote Bangkok in their blogs, social media etc. but I feel staying in Bangkok is sheer wastage of time unless you have enough money and more than enough worthless time to spend. If you visit Thailand for its exotic experiences then there is very little in Bangkok.

In my opinion one day in Bangkok is enough to experience certain things like monasteries, markets,  and of course Khao San Road. Bangkok is expensive, lots of tourists, expensive hostels and full-on urban ambiance. I don’t understand why one spends in urban area while ignoring lots of good things just outskirt of Bangkok.

2. Please avoid Phuket and Pattaya

Why on earth I go to a beach, which is covered with McDonalds, Subway, KFC etc. If you prefer tourism is all about “fun” in KFC and other restaurants and see colorful people all around, Phuket and Pattaya could be a good destination. Phuket is mostly about uncontrollable whoring and abandoned binge drinking. If you are planning to go to Phuket for all good reasons like snorkeling, and scuba diving, I tell you it’s better to go to Koh Tao, the mecca of all those underwater sports.

3. Go to Chiang Mai but don’t stay

@ Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai
Take an overnight train ride to Chiang Mai (6:15 PM, second class A/C) to enjoy the journey. You can get easily train ticket(s) and train journey is pretty much comfortable. You can pack food from railway canteen or you can buy it in the train. However, reaching Chiang Mai stay outside of the main city. Main city is no different from Bangkok with less crowd and fanfare. You can book your hostel outside of your city and stay there comfortable, or if you stay in Chiang Mai for one day and go straight to Pai. There are certain advantages of staying in Chiang Mai main city but if you are not so fond of parties, cabaret, food joints, and other fun, the city doesn’t offer much. What you buy from the city can be bought in half in outskirt of the city.

4. You don’t have to go to restaurant to taste authentic cuisine

I think everyone will agree with one point that Thai cuisines are one of the best in the world. However, you don’t need to go to expensive restaurants to titillate your taste buds, you can find zillion of food joints everywhere in Thailand where you can find all types of foods. The best part of street food is they are fresh and totally hygienic most of the parts. You can find cheap food everywhere almost in $1 (less than Rs. 70) for a good meal. I like different kinds of juices, especially coconut juice with lots of coconut cream and ice.

5. Culture or fun

If you have less time in Thailand, what you want to do. It all depends on your priority and preference. I feel I can see all those beaches and islands in other places like Indonesia, Cambodia and other South Eastern countries but every country has its own cultural identity that is unique in its own way. Thailand has a rich cultural heritage beyond those sandy shorelines. Places like Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, different art galleries in Bangkok, monasteries in Chiang Mai and many other cultural aspects can’t be missed. 

6. Adventure is a nice shift in Thailand

Thailand has some splendid national parks and less explored jungles. Some highlights are Khao Sok in the south, Khai Yai to the north-east, Doi Inthanon in the South.

I know the story here is not agreeable to many people but it’s my personal opinion and it’s different from many people I have realized long time ago. One thing I can guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed in Thailand whether you are a fun loving or serenity loving person.

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