Category: Travel

God’s Own country indeed!

Any guesses which state in India I am referring to? It is the land of coconuts, backwaters, elephants and the land of opulent cultures and traditions. It is one of the renowned places for tourists from across the globe who love the marvelous beaches along the Malabar Coast to the labyrinth of backwater canals traversing rice fields to the magnificent hillside tea plantations in the Western Ghats. It is called ‘Gods Own Country’.

Kerala (Image courtesy-waytoindia.com)
Kerala (Image courtesy-waytoindia.com)

Whether it is the awesome seashores to the backwater pathways in Alleppey and Kumarakom or fabulous tea gardens in Munnar, Kerala offers some of the best destinations for a family vacation, holiday or honeymoon.

Kochi situated in Ernakulam district, which is in central Kerala is an important seaport in India. Kochi is the starting point of any tour package in Kerala. Some of the places of attractions here are the Jewish synagogue, Cherai Beach, Fort Kochi and Mattancherry Palace. Around 1568, a beautiful structure was built in Jew Town which is the Jewish synagogue. The synagogue has been decorated with splendid Chinese tiles and remarkable Belgian chandeliers.

Jewish synagogue
Jewish synagogue (Image courtesy-www.trawell.in)

Fort Cochin, a historic place has some beautiful imitations of the foreign heritage. Kochi has an interesting history behind it, becoming one of the best natural harbours in the world. Around 1341, a major flood created an estuary at Kochi until then it was a landlocked region. The Portuguese were the first European settlers in the 15th Century when it became a port for seafarers. Mattancherry place is an old Portuguese architecture with the influence of the Orient. It has unique historical and architectural perspective.

Munnar– You can hire a cab and reach Munnar which is a 3-hour journey from Cochin. Kerala’s most beautiful hill station has an alluring terrain. It has splendid views of mountain slopes covered with green tea farms, low-flying clouds, and misty valleys. Munnar has a cold and soothing climate with organic tea farms.

Munnar (Image courtesy-www.keralaholidays.com)
Munnar (Image courtesy-www.keralaholidays.com)

If you’re an adventure tourist then you can go hiking and see dazzling waterfalls. Places of attractions are Chinnar Wild Life Sanctuary, Tata Tea Museum, and Idukki Arch Dam.

Idukki Dam
Idukki Dam
  • Chinnar Wild Life Sanctuary– This sanctuary is among the 12 Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Protected areas of Kerala. On the southern side, it is covered by the Eravikulam National Park and on its north is Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. You can also check out the widespread sandalwood forest close to this sanctuary. The sanctuary has over 1000 species of flowering plants and over 225 bird species. Giant Grizzled Squirrel of India can also be found here, which is an endangered species. Mammals, like the elephant, tiger, leopard, sambar, spotted dear, etc. can be spotted here.

(commons.wikimedia.org).
Grizzled Giant Squirrel from Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary Kerala India(commons.wikimedia.org).

It is an ideal haunt for trekkers with deciduous forests and grasslands; river trekking, cultural site trekking, nature trail, Thoovanam falls trek, trekking and camping at Vasayappara organized by the Forest department, which is part of the eco-tourism activities of the sanctuary.

  • Tata Tea museum– A museum for tea opened by Tata tea is dedicated to the legacy of the origins and evolution of tea plantations. It houses curios, photographs and machines which depict the growth and origin of tea plantations in Munnar. Here, you get to sample different kind of teas from mild, average and strong.

Tea Museum at Munnar (Image courtesy- commons.wikimedia.org)
Tea Museum at Munnar
(Image courtesy- commons.wikimedia.org)

Food A variety of Fish curry/seafood is a specialty in Kerala.

Fish Curry-Kottayam style (mnlive.com)
Fish Curry-Kottayam style
(mnlive.com)

Other places are worth visiting:

Alappuzha You can hire a Houseboat here and enjoy and relax in the backwaters.

Ayurveda Center- Kerala is renowned for Ayurveda treatment. The center is surrounded by many plants and trees. It has experienced professional doctors. You will enjoy the Ayurveda treatments.

Ayurveda center in Alappuzha
Ayurveda center in Alappuzha

WayanadIf you love nature then this has scenic forest area. A drive to Wayanad is through the Bandipur Forest, which is quite a sight. Wayanad flourishes with scenic beauties of nature and one can smell the flavor of pepper floating through certain areas.

Wayanad Bamboo Road
Wayanad Bamboo Road

Truly, Kerala is God’s Own Country!

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A Sneak Peek into ‘Theme Holidays’ in India

India, as one contemplates about her, is a colorful image of different people, religion, culture, and diversity, in one country. Her beauty is mesmerizing. A holiday in India comprises of various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism and many more.  Over 22 languages are spoken here. India with so many languages and religion also offers fabulous tourist destinations.

From snow-capped mountains, verdant hills, dazzling rivers to magnificent green valleys, India has lots to offer a tourist. Himalayas form the north, northeast and northwest boundaries of the country. It has a long coastline which stretches from north to south and east to west. No wonder, then she has been called the “jewel in the crown” of the British Empire. You might have come across various options for holiday in India but let us check out the ‘theme holidays’- summer holidays, spiritual and honeymoon destinations in India for a tourist.

Summer holidays– summers of India are dreaded in most parts of the world, but a hill station is most welcome. Summer months in India are from March to May.

  • Ladakh (Leh), the land of Lamas, entices many tourists with its calm tranquil environments with a bewitching white mountainous landscape. The place offers a spiritual experience to be cherished for a lifetime. Colossal mountains protecting the city from chilling winds covered with white sand houses made of mud brick where you can hear ritualistic chants. Here, you can also see lakes, yaks, and monasteries.
Panoramic view of Ladakh (commons.wikimedia.org)
Panoramic view of Ladakh
(commons.wikimedia.org)
  • Shimla is an ideal place for a summer holiday with a toy train ride, horse-riding, an evening walk on Mall road. Little cafes to luxurious hotels welcome all tourists here. There is an old world charm retained in grand old monuments and structures of the pre-Independence era of India.
  • Munnar offers a breath-taking view of tea plantations and lakes located in Kerala. This picturesque hill station offers rock climbing, trekking to Anaimudi hill for adventure lovers. A wildlife National park has exotic species that inhabit this place, making it a great haunt for nature lovers.
Munnar_hillstation_kerala.jpg(en.wikipedia.org)
  • Kodaikanal A hill station located on the borders of Tamil Nadu and Kerala is an enchantment for nature lovers. There are serene slopes, enigmatic pretty flowers, pine trees, and renowned grizzled giant squirrels worth admiring.
Grizzled_Giant_Squirrel_from_Chinnar_Wildlife_Sanctuary,_Kerala_,_India(commons.wikimedia.org).
Grizzled Giant Squirrel from Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, India (commons.wikimedia.org)

Spiritual journey– Varanasi or Benares is a holy city of the Hindus with its most important Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Lord Shiva is the deity and guardian of this temple. The city is often known as the city of temples where people from across the world and not only India visit over 2000 temples. Varanasi is also famous for its muslin, silk fabrics, ivory works and perfume industries.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple- Varanasi (image courtesy- templefolks.com)

Do not miss a chance to take a boat ride in holy river Ganges which captures the true essence of Varanasi. Paper boats lit with candle and flowers float on the waters, Holy dip in Ganges, meditation in solitude by many pilgrims who come to offer their prayers. No wonder it is known as the spiritual capital of India. Not far from Varanasi is Mahabodhi Temple, Buddha’s Bodhi Tree where he meditated and attained enlightenment. He conveyed his first sermon and thus gave birth to Buddhism.

  • Kailash Mansarovar– situated among the Himalayan mountain ranges, Kailash is among the highest peaks of the world and also a source of Brahmaputra, Sutlej, Ganges and Indus rivers. This is among the most significant spiritual spots in the world where people from across the globe revere it. Kailash with its holy lake Mansarovar captures the imagination of one and is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Lord Shiva’s abode is believed to be in Mount Kailash by Hindus.
Kinnaur, Kailash (en.wikipedia.org)
Kinnaur, Kailash
(en.wikipedia.org)
  • Southern India– Temples of southern India have splendid architecture and interesting mythological tales which offer great spiritual significance to pilgrims who visit from remote locations. They have towering ‘gopurams’, grand pillar structures and embellished entrances. State of Tamil Nadu has over 33,000 temples like Arunachaleshwar temple of Lord Shiva, Jambukeshwar temple at Thiruvanaikaval that has an underground water spring that fills the shrine where the ‘lings’ stands, Ramanathaswamy temple which is second holiest place after Varanasi. The legends of all these temples leave spell-bound.

If you are on a pilgrim tour, then Jodhpur, Mount Abu, and Udaipur should not be missed for its renowned temples.

Honeymoon destinationsFor newly married couples, there are many destinations in India.

  • Goa –you could relax on the beaches of Goa for beautiful views, sunshine and lot of fun and activity.
Goa (Wikipedia.org)
  • Darjeeling – enjoy picturesque hill stations of Darjeeling which makes it an ideal honeymoon destination with its tea plantations and chilly weather.
  • Ooty – situated in Nilgiri hills, it has a lot of attractions from Botanical gardens, Rose Garden, Ooty Lake and Dodabetta peak.
  • Backwaters of Kerala – often known as God’s Own Country is a favorite hot spot for a honeymoon in India. You can hire a houseboat and explore Kerala.

The above is just a sneak peek into ‘Theme Holidays’ in India. So, go ahead and plan a ‘theme holiday’ in India, today!

Exquisite desert tour of Rajasthan

The State of Rajasthan is known for its desert and camels. The renowned Thar Desert spans across Rajasthan and over the border with Pakistan.

A Desert tour is incomplete without Camel and Jeep safaris. The regions of interest in desert tours are Bikaner, Mandawa, and Jaisalmer which offer a visual treat of the sand dunes.

Camel Safari in Thar Desert

A mesmerising and thrilling experience awaits you in the region of Thar Desert where one encounters different culture, lifestyles, forts, castles, customs and experiences. The Thar Desert, sand is scattered with hillocks and gravel plains. Wildlife can be found in this region. Some endangered species like Great Indian Bustard, Chikara, Black Buck and Quail are inhabitants of this place. Migratory birds like geese, sand Grouse and ducks are also found here.

Mandawa-Bikaner

Mandawa was founded around mid of 18th century by Shekhawat Rajputs. Fort of Mandawa has painted arched gateway of Lord Krishna and his cows. Beautiful frescoes decked the castles of Mandawa. Here, you can find, painted Havelis like Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli. This region is known for its various havelis or mansions like Murmuria Haveli, Jhunjhunwala Haveli, Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli and Aakharam haveli.

In Bikaner, one can visit the Junagarh fort and museum that provide insight into the bygone era of Maharanas of Rajasthan. Bikaner is located in the centre of Thar Desert and has a climate of the hot desert where one can find golden sand dunes with scanty rainfall.

(Image courtesy- commons.wikimedia.org)

Jaisalmer

known as the Golden city of India, due to its yellow sandstone architectures adds a golden horizon to the city and its environment. Jaisalmer is well-known for its leather messenger bags. Camel safaris in the sand dunes attract tourists as it is a wonderful way of rejuvenating from the chaos of the cities, in the quiet, adjoining desert. The best time to visit would be in January/February when there is a desert festival. You can witness the performing arts like Kalbelia dances, folk songs and music.

Khimsar

This village can be accessed only by jeep, camel or horseback as it is far-flung, rural and beautiful. Luxurious huts have been designed in an eco-friendly manner. The safari by jeep will take into the black buck reserve or you can have camel ride on its sand dunes.

Khimsar Fort built in 16th century is an exhilarant experience, as it is very rare in a desert to have such beautiful place with lush green gardens and variety of birds that add charm to this antique fort. It has been awarded the National Grand Heritage Award by Department of Tourism, Government of India.

Khimsar (Image courtesy- indovocations.net)
Khimsar (Image courtesy- indovocations.net)

Rohetgarh

It is splendid Rajput fort in the small village of Rohet. The Singh family resides here and runs the hotel which is situated south of Jodhpur. The rooms have pretty frescoes and hanging chairs.  The terrace offers a lake view with birds.

Jeep safaris can be taken to Bishnoi village from here or horse-riding to the nearby desert.  It is a perfect rural retreat.


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AMAZING MOUNT ABU

Mount Abu’, does this sound familiar to you? Do you know where is it situated? Well, it is a renowned hill station located in the Aravalli Range, district of Sirohi in Rajasthan state. It is on the border, with Gujarat, in western India. Positioned at a height of 1,219 meters above the sea level, it is like an oasis, in the desert area of Rajasthan. It is a world-renowned tourist destination for Delwara Jain temples and for its beautiful, natural, lush green, surroundings with waterfalls. A very pleasant climate, with its natural surroundings of coniferous trees and flowering shrubs. Many Indian and foreign tourists, throng this place every year, for its awesome natural surroundings, its flora and fauna and the Delwara Jain temple, made of marble.

Interiors of the Delwara Temple (Image courtesy-lh3.ggpht.com)

Delwara Jain Temple– It is one of the best Jain temples known for its rich architecture and magnificent stone carvings. There are meticulously carved ceilings and the pillars are simply incredible. It is told, that this was done in the era, when there was no proper infrastructure available at a height of 1200+meters. Gigantic blocks of marble stones were transported on elephant backs from Arasoori Hills at Ambaji to this far-flung hilly area of Mount Abu.

The temple is open to tourists from 12pm to 3pm with a fee. Photography is not allowed within the temple premises.

Nakki Lake (Image courtesy- indiamike.com)
Nakki Lake
(Image courtesy- indiamike.com)

Nakki Lake– There is an interesting legend, behind its creation in Mount Abu. The lake was dug up by Gods or ‘Devtas’, using their nails or ‘nakh’. That is, how the lake gets its name ‘Nakki’. According to the tribals, it is also a holy lake and they worship it. The lake is the only artificial lake in India, which is situated at a height of 1200 meters above sea level. The lake has boating, so one could spend time with one’s loved one, friends and family. It is an ideal place for spending the evening with loved ones. This scenic location with mountains, gardens and rock formations is an awesome location for photography. The evening sun is the perfect setting for a canvas.

Image courtesy- farm4.staticflickr.com
Wildlife Sanctuary, Mount Abu

Wild Life Sanctuary– It is around 7kms. long and 300 meters wide, where people throng this for sight-seeing. It is situated in Aravali Ranges which is one of the oldest mountain ranges of Rajasthan. It is created from igneous rocks that have made large cavities in many areas due to the wear and tear of the weather conditions of wind and water. The sanctuary is known for its rich fauna and flora. The forest consists of around 112 plant species. Many of them are rare and endangered. The sanctuary also boasts of a wide variety of fauna that is commendable. Here, the popular grey jungle fowl can be found with over 250 species of birds. It also, is a home, to leopard sloth bear, wild boar, sambar, chinkara and langur among several others. This sanctuary also plays a host to extremely endangered and rare species of animals.

5c84f-mount2babu2bwildlife2bsanctuary
Trevors-Tank

Trevor’s tank is a picturesque reservoir built by a British Engineer called Trevor. It is built by the man, to breed crocodiles. It is renowned picnic spot, for both tourists and locals. One should visit the place in the right season to spot the wild bear in its own habitat. It is a dream come true for ‘bird-watcher’ as there are a lot of bird species here.

All in all, Mount Abu, offers a lot to see and do. So, pack your bags and head to amazing Mount Abu.

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