Month: May 2014

Sneak Peek Into The Nubra Valley

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Not every day do you get a chance to get lost in the paradise on earth. Not every day do you get to open your eyes to some heavenly sights. Not every day do you get to taste the best of cookies and cakes. Not every day do you get to visit so many monasteries at one place. So when you finally get the opportunity, you make full use of it. Yes, we are talking about Nubra Valley. The beautiful, enchanting and sparkling valley has swayed off everyone’s hearts and it’s time to pack your bags, throw off all tensions out of the window and land up just HERE.

Nubra Valley is considered as the most charming and beautiful place in the whole of Ladakh area. It boasts of housing some of the finest monasteries of Ladakh. Enclosed within the Western Himalayan and Karakorum mountain ranges, Nubra lies isolated during most of the winter season. Nubra constitutes a sub-division of the Leh administrative district. Diksit village which lies at the confluence of the Nubra and Shayok rivers acts as Nubra’s administrative headquarters. This valley is popularly called as ‘Ldumra’ or ‘the valley of flowers’ as during spring season the whole valley is covered with colourful flowers.

The Nubra Valley

Geographical location:

Siachen Glacier (source of river Nubra), the second longest glacier in the world’s non-polar regions, lies to the north of the valley. The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 feet above the sea level. Blessed by the River Nubra, the valley is dotted with several villages having a distinct culture and rich bed of cultivable land resulting into the abundance of fruits, trees and flowers. The Khardong, Khalser and Diskit are the main villages of Nubra valley. Diskit is the main habitation and administrative center of the Valley. Sprawling over the flooding area on the southern banks of the Shyok river, Diskit is situated on the edge of a desert on the Shyok river side valley.

Siachen Glacier

Sight-seeing and accommodation:

The main attraction here is the 17th century Diskit Gompa (monastery), which can be reached by the main winding road or another road starting near the stream in the middle of the village. The stone steps will lead you inside the main prayer hall which enshrines a huge Maitreya statue and a giant drum.

Diskit Gompa

Next popular traveller destination is Sumur which is located on the far side of the valley. Sumur is the largest village here, a beautiful and green settlement with some interesting Buddhist relics. There is a huge monastery housing a school for monks called as ‘Samstemling Gompa’, located 1 km uphill from Sumur.

Another place to explore is Hunder that is famous for its sand dunes and double humped Bactrian camels. The high altitude desert, with rolling expanse of sand dunes and barren landscapes is the special feature of Hunder village. Joyrides on the Bactrian camel through the sand dunes is a must do for the tourists who visit Hunder. Camel Safari takes around two hours. This is the place where you can find forests of sea-buckthorn, a medicinal plant rich in bio-molecules, vitamins and nutritive properties and popularly known as ‘Leh Berry’.

Panamik Village is yet another worth visiting place that is situated about 28 kms north of Sumur. The waters of the hot sulphur springs of the village are believed to have certain medicinal qualities that cure a number of ailments.

You can also visit the Ensa Gompa monastery that is over 250 years old. The valley was open for visitors till Hunder until the year 2010. The area beyond Hunder was opened from 2010 and the new unexplored place gives way to a greener region of Ladakh because of its lower altitude. It offers a much different landscape and cultural experience. You can see apricot trees loaded around the entire village with views closer to Karakorum range.

Guest houses and lower budget hotels are available at Diskit village. It is recommended to book your hotel rooms in advance during peak season so as to avoid last moment panic and trouble.

How to Reach:

The road journey from Leh to Nubra Valley passes over Khardung La (the highest motorable road in the world) at 18,390 feet, around 39 km from Leh. As the valley doesn’t have its own airport, the visitors have to use the airways in order to reach here. The nearest airbase is Leh airport that is 135 km away from the valley and then one can hire private cars or take public transport from the airport. The nearest railway is Jammu Tawi station which is around 370 km away from the destination.


At first glance, the valley seems parched and dry, but this is the prime farming land by Ladakhi standard. Here the farmers grow apples, apricots and barley and harvest the orange berries. Dotted around the valley are ancient gompas and ruined palaces. Majority of the population is of Buddhists and mainly speak Nubra dialect or Nubra Skat. The people of Nubra Valley are friendly and hospitable. The Nubra Valley is indeed a precious treasures of Ladakh where people still live in complete isolation for most of the year from rest of the world in the heart of the great Himalayas.

Festivals and Events:

Festivals in Nubra Valley are celebrated with much grandeur. The major festival of the Valley is the Dosmoche Festival, also known as the “Festival of the Scapegoat” and is celebrated in the Diskit Monastery during the month of February. It is largely attended by people from villages of the Nubra Valley since the other regions in Leh are inaccessible during this period due to heavy snow fall. The mask dance is performed by the Lamas of the Monastery to dramatically show the superiority of good over evil forces.

Dosmoche Festival

Losar Mela (New Year) is celebrated as per the Lunar Calendar, for two weeks during the month of December and January. Other major festivals take place in the regions of Diskit and Sumur in Nubra Valley, that include flower displays, archery competitions, peacock dances, sword dancing, warfare demonstrations and camel races. The festival of flowers is held every spring. As most of the people are Buddhists, this festival provides an occasion for the celebration of their religious faith. They perform various dances and present flowers as offerings to the Buddha.

Adventure Activities:

One can also enjoy various adventure activities in Nubra Valley. Trekking and camping are the main adventure activities here which are most popular among tourists. Trekking to gompas and villages will allow the visitors to enjoy the endless picturesque panorama from snow-capped mountains to the beautiful surroundings. The best option to start a trek is from Sabo to Khalsar and beyond. The best time to trek is from June to September. Camping can be done at a beautiful campsite area which is located near to the village of Sumur. And of course, the Camel safaris are available for an adventurous ride.

Now that we have given you reason enough, what are you waiting for? Go, get going. Experience the high in the Nubra Valley.

By Anita Bhandari

Top 40 Forts in India

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India has always been associated with grandeur, royalty and magnificence. No wonder, the nation is embellished with some of the most beautiful forts in the world. The lifestyle of the rulers of India has always been a lavish one. The raja or the ruler during olden times had a fort around which the whole of city developed quite unlike the democratic government we have presently.  These monuments have contributed in a great way to help study and unleash the history of India. They form a big part of our cultural heritage and have definitely helped India stand out on the basis of architecture, planning and efficient ruling. Bringing out to you the top 40 forts in India that should be in your must-see list.
chittorgarh fort
1. Chittorgarh Fort: We are talking about forts and the one to top the list had to be from Rajasthan. A state known for its rajas and the maharajas, their valour and aristocracy, Rajasthan has the maximum number of forts. Chittorgarh Fort is the largest one in the country and has been standing tall even before the 7th century. Don’t miss the evening light and sound show that explains the history of the fort perfectly.
Jaisalmer fort
2. Jaisalmer Fort: The next in line is the Jaisalmer Fort. Touted as one among the largest of forts in India, it has amazed one and all by its beauty and splendor. Rao Jaisal, a Bhati Rajput ruler had got the fort built in the 12th century at Jaisalmer and since then it has been standing tall and high.
3. Nahargarh Fort: Situated at Jaipur, this fort was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. It is said that this fort was named after Nahar Singh Bhomi whose spirit would haunt the fort time and again. A masterpiece to adorn in awe, Nahargarh should not be missed by the tourists.
4. Mehrangarh Fort: Listed among the top attractions of the city of Jodhpur, Mehrangarh was built during the times of the Rathores. It is beautifully designed, has seven entrances and boasts of having the only professional museum shop. Couples can enjoy a romantic dinner at its terrace restaurant that serves delicious Rajasthani food.
5. Amer Fort (Amber Fort): A major attraction of Jaipur, Amer Fort is an epitome of beauty and glory. In order to study the life and times of the Rajputs, this place is the best place to be, observe and imbibe.
Ranthambore fort
6. Ranthambore Fort: This fort finds itself placed near the town of Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan and plays a major part during the times of the Chauhan dynasty. It holds importance among the Jain community due the presence of a temple dedicated to the Jain Tirthankar, Lord Sumatinath.
Agra fort
7. Agra Fort: Located in the beautiful city of Agra, this fort was a part of the Mughal dynasty. Apart from the Taj Mahal, this attraction draws the maximum number of tourists all the years round for its sheer brilliance and royalty.
8. Red Fort: Red Fort, situated in New Delhi, is undoubtedly one of the most popular places under tourist destinations. Domestic as well as international travelers, all come this side to witness the residence of the noble Mughals.
Gwalior fort
9. Gwalior Fort: till date, the city of Gwalior is associated with the rajas and the maharajas. The princely city boats of the grand Gwalior Fort that has been ruled by several dynasties including Kuchwaha dynasty, Jats, Suris, Mughals and the Marathas.
Bandhavgarh fort
10. Bandhavgarh Fort: Located in the calm, silent and incredibly wonderful state of Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh Fort has an indescribable imperialism to itself. Vacationers need to reach the Umaria district in M.P where this fort is built on top of the Bandhavgarh Hill. It was built ages back during the times of the Mauryans.
11. Rani Durgavati Fort: This fort is associated with the martyr queen, Rani Durgavati of Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. She is worshipped for what she did to the region there and is touted as the bravest woman of her times.
Fort william
12. Fort William: Kolkata has always been known as the Queen’s land. A city that is known for its aura and vivaciousness, Calcutta during the times of the British used to serve as the capital of India. This fort depicts the British rule and the East India Company’s reign in the best possible manner. Modern Indian history is simply incomplete without the mention of Fort William.
pithorgarh fort
13. Pithoragarh Fort: The fort finds itself located at Pithorgarh in Uttarakhand and is said to have been built by the Gorkhas. Though it isn’t in a condition it should have actually been but if there’s someone who wishes to study the region of the hills in a great manner then this is the place for you.
14. Raigad Fort: Raigad Fort was built by Shivaji, the Maratha king and lies near Mahad in the district of Raigad, Maharashtra. It lies on the Sahyadri range and has a height of over 800 metres. The Maratha Empire was built in and around this fort. Later, the British overtook it after a long era of battles, clashes and crusades.
Ahmednagar fort
15. Ahmednagar Fort: If you happen to read the times of the British Raj in India, you’ll probably get to know the significance of this fort in India. Initially used by the Marathas, this fort was taken over by the East India Company in the Second Anglo Maratha War and served as a prison during the Goras’ rule.
16. Golconda Fort: An important place for sightseeing in Hyderabad, Golconda Fort was constructed some 800 years back by Kakatiya kings of Warangal. It is known for its wonderful acoustic effect as per which a clap at the entrance can be heard even on the top-most point of the fort. It is said that this was used in order to warn the army about any enemy attack.
Daulatabad fort
17. Daulatabad Fort: In the sleepy city of Aurangabad lies the old fort hidden behind the dust. It may have lost its charm with time but it still has so many stories to tell, so many tales to boast about and so many legends to talk about. If you are a photographer, you’re going to love this place.
Fort agauda
18. Fort Agauda: Goa may be the paradise when we talk about beaches but it doesn’t wish to be left behind from history point of view. The Portuguese have a long association with this beautiful city and they left their imprints in the form of Agauda Fort.
19. Junagarh Fort: Forts and Rajasthan are totally synonymous and that is why we are here with the mention of another fort located in the princely state of Rajasthan. We are talking about Junagarh Fort of Bikaner built in the 16th century that has witnessed more than 20 rulers of Bikaner before the British rule.
20. Jhansi Fort: Think about Jhansi and the first thing to come into your mind is Rani Laxmi Bai. This fort may have been built by Bir Singh Ju Deo, an Orcha King but people arrive here because of Jhansi ki rani, the lady who shall always remain alive in the pages of history for her exceptional courage and valour.
21. Murud Janjira: This sea fort is located in Maharashtra in the district of Raigad. It is famed for being undefeated and unconquered even in the times of the Marathas, the Dutch, Portuguese or British. It was built in the times of the SIddis and remained to be theirs for a long long time. It should definitely be in the must-visits of Maharashtra.
22. Sindhudurg: Yet another sea fort located in Maharashtra, Sindhudurg was built by Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Its basic location is Malvan town in the district of Sindhudurg, Maharashtra. It is a protected monument and even though in the recent times, it has been abandoned by local residents due to lack of employment opportunities, it remains to be one of the most important heritage of the Maratha Empire.
Bidar fort
23. Bidar Fort: Situated in the Bidar district of north Karnataka, Bidar Fort was constructed during the times of Bahmanid Dynasty when the emperor decided to shift the capital of the state from Gulbarg to Bidar in the 15th century. This dynasty was popular was intriduing the beautiful Bidari work that is still talked about for its elegance.
24. Kulaba Alibaug Fort: Stretching to almost 275 metres of length from North to South, this fort lies near the twon of Alibaug in Maharashtra. It is said to be the last of forts built by Shivaji. In fact, it got completed during the time the brave warrior and king expired. The Ganpati temple constructed inside the fort draws a number of devotes all the year round.
zorawar fort
25. Zorawar Fort: Also referred to as General Zorawar Fort, this monument lies in the beautiful city of Leh. Earlier it was named as Riasi Fort and was ruled by the Dogras but later on, it was renamed in the honour of the General Zorawar Singh. He is famed for playing a major role in protecting the place from Chinese attacks.
26. Gulbarga Fort: Situated in Gulbarga district of the state of Karnataka, this fort was built in the 14th century and continues to lure a number of tourist and vacationers all the year round. The architecture has mixed influences of Turkish and Islamic architecture.
Bekal fort
27. Bekal Fort: Touted as the largest fort of Kerala, Bekal is situated in Kasaragod near Mangalore. It is said to be about 300 years old and is a popular shooting spot for local as well as national film industry. The beautiful surroundings and the scintillating views are sure to leave you spell bound for ages together.
28. Karnala Fort: In the district of Raigad, Maharashtra lies a place of beauty of the ancient times. Yes, we are talking about Karnala Fort. This hill fort just doesn’t talk about history altogether. It is a place for the romantics at heart, for the poets, for the writers, for the nature lovers, for the photographers and for everyone who wishes to have a moment of peace and tranquility.
29. Junagarh Fort: Apart from the Junagadh Fort in Bikaner, there’s another one in Gujarat that needs to be praised as much as the one in Rajasthan. Originally referred to as ‘Sorath’, this fort was renamed to Junagadh that means the ‘Old Fort’. It finds its existence since the Mauryan Empire and is believed to have been built by the great Chandragupta Maurya. Since then, it has been ruled by numerous dynasties including Kalingas, Shakas, Greeks, Kshatrapa, Guptas, Mughals and Nawabs. It is easily accessible by different modes of transport however, those preferring to come over by air will have to stop at Ahmedabad and take a bus or train thereafter for Junagadh.
Pachewargarh fort
30. Pachewargarh Fort: This is a special kind of a place in Rajasthan. Its existence dates back to almost 300 years ago and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful forts of Rajasthan. Situated in Pachewar district of the state, this fort has now been converted to an exquisite hotel and is a family run heritage hotel.
31. Bhujia Fort: The name just made me crave for a packet of Bhujia. Anyway, let’s get back to the Bhujia Fort situated in the district of Bhuj in Gujarat. It is built on a hill that offers a great view of the town of Bhuj and is indeed a delight for any photographer.
fort st. george
32. Fort St. George: Located in the capital city of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, this fort is the first ones to be built by the English. Built as per the European style of architecture, Fort St. George is a must see place for tourists in Chennai. Though all of it is not open for public viewing, the fort has a charm that will surely sway you away.
33. Mahim Fort: It is situated at Mahim in Mumbai and is one of the most beautiful places in Mumbai to admire the whole of city. It is strategically located with Worli on its south and Bandra to its north. Vacationers can spend some lovely moments with their loved ones here.
34. Roha Fort: A number of forts can be found in Kutch, Gujarat and one prominent out of those many is the Roha Fort. It is said that this place is perfect for writers of romance. No wonder, Kalapi, the popular poet wrote beautiful romantic lines in the company peace, natural air and peacocks.
chandragiri fort
35. Chandragiri Fort: This historical monument dates back to 11th century and is situated in Chandragiri at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. It was initially ruled by the Yadava Naidus but later on the Vijayanagar rulers took control over it.
Udayagiri fort
36. Udayagiri Fort: It is located at Nagercoil in the Kaniyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and is one of the main attractions of the place. Constructed on an isolated hillock, this fort came into existence in the 17th century although the present structure got built in 19th century.
37. Palakkad Fort: Also known as Tipu’s fort, this fort is situated in Palakkad in the state of Kerala and was built by Haider Ali in 18th century. It is one of the most preserved and maintained forts of Kerala.
Akhnoor fort
38. Akhnoor Fort: Jammu and Kashmir is known for its beauty and a fort that adds to its exceptional grandeur is Akhnoor Fort. Built in 18th century, it is situated on the banks of river Chenab.
39. Buxa Fort: In the Buxa Tiger Reserve at Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal lies the Buxa Fort that has hazy history associated with it. Its origin remains unknown but it believd that it was used to safeguard the portion of Silk route by the king of Bhutan.
Palamau fort
40. Palamau Fort: Located in Daltonganj in Jharkhand, this fort was built during the times of the Chero dynasty and forms a significant part of the tourism industry of the state. Its architecture is inspired by Islamic concept clearly depicting its conquest by Daud Khan.
By Harshita Srivastava (with inputs from Rajesh Baruah)

Use of Mobile Phones and PEDs now allowed in airplane mode on SpiceJet flights

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Mobile Phones

SpiceJet Ltd is one of the fastest growing airline company in India has now begun allowing the use of mobile phones and Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) during the flights as long as the devices are kept in the ‘flight’ more or ‘airplane’ mode. Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) recently made some important changes in their regulation which has allowed SpiceJet to bring these facilities to their passengers.

SpiceJet is the first airline in the country to allow the use of PEDs and implement the DGCA’s recently changed rules in their flights. However, the phones and personal devices must be put into flight mode and then switched off prior to takeoff. But the cabin crew will inform the passengers once the flight is airborne when they can switch on the devices for use in ‘flight mode’.

“We are very pleased to be the first airline in India to implement this customer-friendly enhancement,” said Sanjiv Kapoor, COO, SpiceJet Ltd. “Our customers can now use their smart phones during the flight to watch movies, listen to music, read books, read and compose emails and other documents, and use their phone cameras (where permitted), like customers already do during a flight in many other parts of the world. We congratulate and thank the DGCA for making this very timely and customer-friendly enhancement to the regulations in line with global practices,” he added.

Currently the use of phones and PEDs on all flights of SpiceJet Ltd will be prohibited only during take-off and landing procedures even in ‘airplane mode’. But passengers will be allowed use of their devices only once the flight closes 10,000 feet in altitude. Flight mode does shut off the phone’s ability to transmit to a tower. Hence the phone will be unable to make any sort of communication or any type of transmission related activity when it is in flight mode.

But as a safety precaution the phones and devices will still need to be turned-off during take-off/landing as this requires additional aircraft related certifications which are difficult and time consuming to attain. SpiceJet will follow DGCA’s change in rules but it is also reviewing all possible implications of allowing usage of devices in flight. This is just to be on the safe side of the regulatory authority which is known to fine and penalize airlines for not adhering to its guidelines.


Kerala Tourism Achieves Record Growth, Revenues Top at 24,000 Cr

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Kerala Tourism

Kerala’s tourism industry has seen a surge with many travelers coming to this state often referred to as the “God’s own country.” The state tourism has seen an increase in revenue to Rs. 24,000 crore earned in FY 2013-2014 compared to Rs. 22,000 crore the year before. The number of travelers have increased significantly to this stated and have topped off at 1.5 crore visitors.

Suman Billa, Secretary, Tourism, Government of Kerala was quoted in the Hindu Business Line saying – “the definition of a ‘tourist’ is amorphous. As someone traveling from Trivandrum to Kochi to visit his relative for a day or returning from a day’s business trip to Delhi, is also a traveler”. Kerala gets more than 10 lakh visitors as per this definition year on year.

Kerala’s growing GDP has tourism revenues as one of its key attributes. The foreign exchange that this activity brought in is worth around Rs. 5,000 crore in addition to the remittances sent from abroad. There are many tourists who spend more than $ 100 on a hotel room per night. This has been one of the main focuses for the tourism industry as traditionally this is considered as high-end tourism.

The idea is to generate the maximum revenue from the limited time that a tourist has when he or she is traveling through Kerala and this makes tourism similar to any other business. There are many different types of informal arrangements apart from the 60,000 hotel rooms excluding home stays in the ‘classified sector’ in Kerala’s tourism industry.

Ayurveda is considered to be one of the major draw for tourism. It attracts several foreign nationals along with Indian residents for Ayurvedic treatments which last anywhere from two to four weeks. The average stay of a foreign visitor for an Ayurvedic treatment is as high as 18.6 nights and this has increased from a previous 17.1 nights per visitor few years ago.

“We say it doesn’t matter that we have only a million international tourists; the important thing is to focus on increasing the length of stay. So we’re constantly adding new activities such as adventure, festivals, backwater journeys, village life experience through Responsible Tourism, to encourage people to extend their holiday,” Suman Billa said.

In the recent times domestic tourists from metros, Tier-II and Tier-III cities are opting from high-end tourism apart from international tourists who stay at the USD 100 per night category. USA has been emerging as a growing market apart from UK which has traditional been one of the major markets for Kerala.

The Eurocentric market is changing and with time Kerala is getting tourists from across the world. This has got the tourism industry in the state of Kerala to considering road shows and many other activities in the US market as it believes it as a long-haul destination capable of attracting several numbers of tourists visiting this state every year. Indian tourism has seen a slight growth but certain states such as Kerala are seeing tremendous growth over the last few years.


Air India Launches New Seat Upgrade Scheme for Domestic Passengers

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Air India

Air India Limited, India’s oldest airline company has launched a new scheme aimed at filling up the vacant Business Class seats. This new scheme allows a passenger to upgrade their ticket from Economy Class to Executive Class by paying Rs. 5000 to Rs. 7000. This price will have to be paid over and above the cost price of the ticket originally bought by the passenger.

The new scheme has been dubbed as the ‘Get Up Front’ scheme aimed at helping meet a domestic passenger’s requirement for an Executive Class seat. The upgrade scheme is only available till the 31st of October, 2014 and it is open to passengers traveling in Economy Class on domestic routes. The scheme is active for cities such as Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata.

The ‘Get Up Front’ scheme will be available subjective to Executive Class seat availability and on first-come first-serve basis only to passengers holding Economy Class tickets. This includes those who hold the cheap advance purchase fares. To avail this scheme the passenger will have to be available at the airport before check-in.

One of the key sources of Air India’s revenue has been the Executive or Business Class seats. Air India has been running a similar scheme on its international routes till June 31, 2014. Now customers traveling on the domestic sector will have the opportunity to avail the new scheme. If you are traveling upto a distance of 750 kms you will have to shell out Rs. 5,000 to upgrade to Business Class. But, if you are traveling more than 750 kms then you will have to pay Rs. 7,000 to upgrade to an Executive Class seat.

If you are traveling on the New Delhi-Mumbai sector by paying a ticket fare of about Rs 6,000 you can now upgrade to the Business Class seat by paying Rs. 7,000. This brings the total fare for your sector to Rs. 12,000. Air India has announced that it will reserve its first three rows of seating to offer these premium services to passengers who have chosen to upgrade. Given the above scenario, the normal price of a Business Class ticket on the Delhi-Mumbai sector is normally above Rs. 25,000 but customers now get it at a discounted rate. This will enable the customers to travel at cheaper rates with better service.


Top 30 Hill Stations In India

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It’s the month of May and the heat wave is at its extreme, making us stay less and less out and gorge more and more of cool stuff including kulfis, golas and jal jeera. The northern India has already been bitten by the bug of heat and it’s about time to escape it all by planning a trip to some cool places to unwind, relax and rejoice in the calm and pure air. No wonder, the best destinations to head to comprise hill stations located all across the country.

The prevalence of hill station came into being when the British started ruling here. Since the Goras had come from cooler part of the world, they couldn’t easily withstand higher temperatures. Thus began their search for cooler places and by the time they left, India had some of the most beautiful places developed big way. Some out of these even served as summer capitals during the British Raj. Today, a major chunk of tourists arrive to such wonderful places that offer picturesque views, calm winds, solace and peace to exhausted minds. Goibibo brings to you the list of top hill stations situated in different states, ranging from J&K to Kerala.

1.Gulmarg, Jammu & Kashmir

Gulmarg ,Jammu & Kashmir

Gulmarg, the meadow of flowers, is a delight for one and all. Blessed with beautiful landscapes and adventure sports avenues, this hill station tops our list.

2.Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir

Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir

A popular destination, Pahalgam draws people from far and wide for the Betaab Valley and Aru Valley nearby.

3. Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

This place is one of the most preferred locations among people looking out to take a break from their hectic lives. Being close to Delhi NCR, it finds itself excessively crowded on weekends. Visit Kullu for mesmerizing views and some really warm shawls.

4.Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Let’s face it; Manali is almost synonymous to the word ‘hill station’ in India. Touted as the most popular honeymoon destinations, this region is simply flawless. Don’t miss out on the Rohtang Pass when you are at Manali.

5.Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh

Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh

Named after Lord Dalhousie, a British Governor General, Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh is one of the best things that could have ever happened to India.

6.Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh


Ahh! This is a hill station that holds an altogether different aura. Enjoy the scenic beauty, learn and imbibe the Tibetan culture and gorge on some mouth watering momos or dim sums. This beautiful land has it all.

7. Kufri, Himachal Pradesh

Kufri-Himachal Pradesh

Kufri is an ideal location for anyone looking for a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. This weekend, give yourself the much needed break; visit Kufri.

8. Kiarighat, Himachal Pradesh

Kiarighat-Himachal Pradesh

Kiarighat may not be that popular but once you reach there, you’ll realize why we asked you to visit it atleast once. No particular attractions to look out for but there’s a peace that you’ll find nowhere else.

9. Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh

Shimla, also known as Queen of Hill Stations, is known for its beautiful apple orchards and pine trees. Summers as well as post wedding season, both witness a huge crowd of tourists and honeymooners at Shimla.

10. Solan, Himachal Pradesh

Solan-Himachal Pradesh

Call it the Mushroom City of India or City of red Gold, Solan has a charm that goes beyond its production affinity for mushroom and tomatoes.

11. Mount Abu, Rajasthan

Mount Abu-Rajasthan

An oasis in the desert, Mount Abu is an epitome of solace and relief to the state of Rajasthan.

12. Nainital, Uttarakhand


Nainital lies wrapped in the Kumaon ranges of Uttarakhand enchanting one and all with its beautiful lakes and temples.

13. Mussoorie, Uttarakhand


Adorned with beautiful falls and lake, Mussorie is one place that arouses goodness and tranquility at a single go. It has one of the best schools of India and is known for producing some really talented people from different fields of expertise.

14. Almora, Uttarakhand


It isn’t everyday that you get the best of nature. This weekend, run off to the beautiful land of Almora.

15.  Haridwar, Uttarakhand


Unveil the spiritual side of yours at Haridwar and when you’re done with it, do indulge in some river rafting.

16. Rishikesh, Uttarakhand


Considered as one of the most spiritual places among Hindus, Rishikesh charms one and all with its calm and cool winds and picturesque landscapes.

17. Ranikhet, Uttarakhand


Uttarakhand is a state that has abundance of hill stations and none of them can be compared on the basis of their beauty and feel. Ranikhet is just another one but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting it. Discover magic by simply exploring Ranikhet.

18. Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand


A charming hill station with a rich history and culture, Pithoragarh is perfect blend of natural beauty and strong civilization.

19. Dehradun, Uttarakhand


The capital city of the serene state of Uttarakhand, Dehradun urges you to forget everything and rejoice. Make sure you visit the Rajpur Road, one of the most happening and coolest places of the city.

20. Darjeeling, West Bengal

Darjeeling-West Bengal

This place doesn’t need an introduction. From tea plantations to being a favourite for shooting locations, Darjeeling has always been able to charm people.

21. Kalimpong, West Bengal

Kalimpong-West Bengal

Situated close to Darjeeling, Kalimpong is a beautiful place to spend some uality time with your beloved.

22. Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu

Kodaikanal-Tamil Nadu

Kodaikanal is one of the most beautiful places of South India. With its heavenly views and serene climate, it works as a perfect honeymoon destination.

23. Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Ooty-Tamil Nadu

This hill station, for a long time, enjoyed the status of being the favourite among film makers. The lovely cottages, the sparkling cool lakes, the refreshing mornings, the beautiful gardens, Ooty has it all.

24. Munnar, Kerela


Embellished with a colonial touch, Munnar has its own ways to cast a spell on vacationers. Lush green forests and some really wonderful flora and fauna make your day at Munnar.

25. Coorg, Karnataka


The scintillating beauty, the pure winds and the calm valleys of Coorg are sure to give you a high vodka can never offer.

26. Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh

Pachmarhi-Madhya Pradesh

Pachmari is a popular tourist retreat that finds vacationers all the year round. Some great attractions to watch out for comprise Rajat Prapat, Bee Fall, Pachmarhi Hill and Dhupgarh.

27. Lonavala, Maharashtra


Lonavala is situated close to Mumbai and is quite crowded on weekends when almost everyone takes a break from their hectic life to enjoy a serene and calm environment.

28. Khandala, Maharashtra


Khandala and Lonavala are located close to each other and draw a lot of vacationers. Couples as well as adventure seekers, both can have equal fun at this beautiful place. Rock climbing is an activity to look out for.

29.Shillong, Meghalaya


Popularly called as the ‘Scotland of the East’, Shillong boasts off one of the largest golf courses in the continent area.

30. Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

Tawang-Arunachal Pradesh

Apart from having the biggest of monasteries to its credit, this place is blessed with waterfalls and pristine lakes that are pretty more than enough to fall for this place.

By Harshita Srivastava

Run to the Hills – Summer Plans DONE

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Feeling hot, hot, hot.

Yes the summer is official and it is here.

Everybody is feeling the heat and we are not talking about some Sunny Leone song.

Or some T20 related fever.

 IPL Hot Dance Cheer Girls

We are talking about forty degrees plus temperatures, UFF! Turn up the air conditioning and cool off for a bit. It is so hot you can fry an egg on the asphalt, actually don’t try that as

A) It’s been tested and proved that you can’t do that.

B) It would the waste of a perfectly good egg because who would eat an egg that has come off the road.

Goa Beach

Soon the beaches will be deserted and all the cool people will be heading to the hills.

chilling in Goa

The people who spent their time chilling in Goa and along the golden sands of the Malabar and Coromandal coast are all headed to the cool climes of Manali, Darjeeling and Lonavala. At such a time what the people really want is wide range of choices and thankfully India is full of wonderful choices. There are more than a hundred cool hill stations spread across the length and breadth on the country and while some are famous and well known like Darjeeling and Mussorie, others are rapidly gaining ground and will soon become as popular.


by Rajesh Baruah

Singapore: The Food Republic

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Singapore, the island country and city state located in Southeast Asia, is defined by its sky touching structures and cosmopolitan culture. An exquisite land that will sway you off your feet by its mouth watering food, rich heritage, bustling nightlife and thriving landscapes. This land is sure to take you one step closer to the nature with its sprawling rainforests and lush greenery. Whether it’s the Palau Hantu located in the south of the country or Kusu Island with its beautiful lagoons, this country is sure to leave you enchanted. From the ethnic spots like Katong, Chinatown and Thian Hock Kheng Temple to exploring the art and handicrafts at Marina Roads and Orchard Road, Singapore has it all. Culture, heritage, arts, entertainment, hip nightlife, natural landscapes and wildlife, you name it and they have it. There’s so much to absorb from this multi-cultural land and you are definitely missing out on a great destination if you haven’t included Singapore in your travelogue.

Multi-cultural cuisine Singapore

All said and done, there’s more to Singapore than ultramodern architecture and happening pubs. Yes, I’m talking food. You see, we foodies can never stop talking about gastronomic delights. Cuisine and food habits form an integral part of exploration when travelling. It’s the food that differentiates a place from others. It’s the flavours and the essence that talk about the origin of a place, its diversity and its journey from past to present. Considering the fact that Singapore enjoys the tag of a multi-cultural land, expect a combo of Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Thai, Arabian and Eurasian food.

 The Food History

The Food History

Singapore is blessed with a diverse culture. The British ruled this land for a long time and thus brought a lot of their habits in their culture. Infact the name ‘Singapore’ has been bestowed onto them by the English. Originally, Singapore was called ‘Singapura’ meaning the lion city. Since the accent of the English differed from the local, they went onto pronouncing Singapura as Singapore which eventually stuck with everyone and hence came Singapore into being. The ancient land before the times of British was ruled by five kings. It is said that Chinese came her long time back when it were just the Malays living here. These Chinese married Malay women and a new culture and tradition was born that was referred to as Peranakan. A few Portuguese and Arabs also entered the territory bringing in their own aromas, flavours and traditions. Certain Indians, basically from South, also came this side as servants or traders and hence fused into the culture of Singapore.
To conclude, we can quite easily say that this country has welcomed every custom and tradition with open arms and it has definitely used the best of all to achieve a cult status. As you start exploring, you’ll find cuisine being a perfect amalgamation of different cultures and flavours.

The Food Scene

While one might just say that Singaporean food comes from everywhere, we would still argue that it comes from here, just here. You know why? It is because the fish curry may have originated from South India and char kway teow from China, Ayam buah keluak from Pernaka and Tauhu goring from Malay but all of them have their own aroma and a taste to die for, a taste you won’t find anywhere else. Singapore is a country that is probably one of those few places where you get amazing food at even more amazing prices. Moreover, it is one of those countries that live for food, a nation that has its food in the topmost priority and a habitat that you’ll always find laughing and talking over a plate of anything and everything. You won’t be surprised if you find people saying that it has the best food in the world.

The Food Scene

Singaporean food is best tasted on streets although there’s no dearth of uptown restaurants in this country. But you see, the true essence of local food and culture is in the streets. Get down on the roads to experience the hues and shades of this beautiful country. Most of the food outlets will have pictures on menu cards and a small description of the dishes too so that a foreigner gets a better understanding of what lays in his plate. No wonder, this city state is called the street food Mecca. A typical routine that follows at such joints is placing the order at counter and then you choose the seat you wish to gorge your food on under the open skies and starry night. Traditional dishes that one can expect on street vendors and hawkers include fish head curry, dim sum, noodles, chicken rice and chilli crab. They are generally quite cheap and atrociously yummy.
Major dishes and recipes under the platter of Singaporean cuisine include usage of different spices of different origin. Sweets are something that the locals would rather not keep on the priority list but they do have some great desserts on menu available on the streets as well as uptown markets. Sweet lovers can try chendol ais (coconut milk blended with various ingredients including palm sugar and cendol), ice kacang (corn, red beans, jelly, etc over grated ice), kueh (coconut based serving), almond jelly, etc. Expect a lot of usage of coconut in Singaporean cuisine and trust me, it’s the only place that brings out the best out of coconut.

The Eat-Outs

The staple food undoubtedly comprises noodles, rice and seafood. Apart from all this of course, you have a lot to explore and imbibe. For street food, venture into the Arab Street, Little India and Chinatown. Moreover there are Hawker Centres which are a kind of open food courts. Some decades ago, the government banned hawking and thus came Hawker Centres in picture where all such outlets are hogged at one place. Even though it’s street food, it is prepared with cleanliness and quality ingredients.

The Eat-Outs

If you are a beverage lover then you’re going to definitely love this place although expect to find a different style of tea and coffee here. While a lot of locals will be found drinking milk tea all across the street, ‘kopi’ is another thing that’ll keep you glued. Kopi actually means coffee, it is Malay word of coffee and that’s how it is referred to at Singapore). Coffee houses are called Kopitiams and offer a different charm to this country. Traditional Singaporean breakfast is also served at Kopitiams that includes coconut-egg jam spread on bread.

Traditional Singaporean breakfast

Open air restaurants (Cze Chas) and Single-serving outlets form an integral part of the nation’s cuisine arena. Both of them are a little more spacious than hawker centres, offer good food under budget and specialize in certain type of dishes. Singapore has witnessed immense growth and popularity in a short duration of time. So yes, there are a number of indoor restaurants, food courts and fine dining options. Indoor restaurants have a nice ambience with classy services and cuisine of various kinds. The malls of this country are the talk of the town and the world too, it is known for its uneneding structures and buildings and it definitely doesn’t disappoint you with its posh malls. All such malls have food courts that have a unit of certain branded chain of food and hospitality. They are generally priced high and are run by corporations who may or may not serve good food although yes, they promise hygiene, comfort and nice packaging. Fine dining at Singapore is more of influenced by Western culture and the delicious food and services come at a big price tag there.

By Harshita Srivastava