Month: October 2014

Top 5 Places in India for Destination Weddings

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When two hearts decide to unite then there ought to be a grand celebration. A wedding is perhaps the most significant event in any person’s life. Just like a girl always dreams to be a princess and waits for her prince charming on the white horse, a guy also wishes to make the moment of winning the love of his life magical. This is the reason why the concept of destination weddings is such a rage among couples. Since the wedding season is in full swing, we bring to you the top five places in India for destination weddings.

Udaipur

Destination Weddings_Zenana Mahal
Zenana Mahal in City Palace

If you want a royal style wedding, then we highly recommend City Palace, Udaipur. The Mewar family that still resides in the palace has been into this destination wedding business for close to a decade and has hosted some of the most lavish weddings of the world. Whether we talk about Jagmandir Palace situated on an island in the middle of the lake or the Zenana Mahal or the Queen’s Palace, Udaipur is the place that will tell you why investment in the right place matters.

Goa

Destination Weddings_Goa
Goa’s beaches are the ultimate location for an exotic destination wedding

Beach weddings are clearly one of the best options to go for if the idea of going the unconventional way attracts you. Weddings at the beaches require a permit henceforth get in touch with a wedding planner beforehand so that bookings can be made in time. Apart from wedding planners, luxury hotels also provide such services. Pick from options offered by The Taj Exotica at Varca Beach or The Leela at the Morbor Beach or the Banyan Tree Courtyard at Candolim Beach. There are options in galore for you at Goa.

Hyderabad

Destination weddings_Hyderabad
Taj Falaknuma Palace

Yes, you heard it right. Goa and Rajasthan are the most common places people pick when it comes to destination weddings but there are places beyond the convention. Similar to the royals of Rajasthan, even Hyderabad is known for its Nizams. Talking about forts, Golconda and Charminar are the two attractions that come in mind and they lie in a sad state. But there’s good news. The Taj Falaknuma Palace more than makes up for those infamous forts. This is the sure shot place for that grand wedding celebration.

Bengaluru

Destination weddings_Bengaluru
The Palace Grounds, Silicon Valley

South just doesn’t fall short of venues when it comes to destination wedding. The Palace Grounds in the Silicon Valley of India is known for having hosted the best of weddings in the region. The architecture of the palace is said to be an imitation of the beautiful Windsor Castle of England though there’s no official mention of the same anywhere. The sprawling ground of the palace is a favourite not just among couples but also international artists who come by to give a performance here. Do you still need a reason to choose this place?

Kumarakom

Destination weddings_Kumarakom
Kumarakom Lake Resort

The backwaters of Kumarakom have always been an abode of the lovebirds. If one can have a lovely honeymoon at this wonderland then why not the wedding? What a beauty it’d be take the vows in the backdrop of palm trees and some fresh air along the lake side. Here, you can also arrange for an elephant ride for the groom. A lot of resorts in Kumarakom offer such luxury weddings. What are you waiting for? Go for this one.

Let us know which destination you would love to pick for your wedding.

(With inputs from Anita Bhandari)

Top Diwali Destinations –Diwali in Goa and Rajasthan

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Diyas, crackers, candles and lights… all these amalgamate into delightful Diwali experience. Yet again we not only celebrate this time of the year for auspicious reasons, but also for experiencing the fact that good always wins over evil.

You get to experience the true enthusiasm of Diwali celebration worldwide. So let’s get together and feel the vibe of this festive season as we take a trip to the best destinations which are Goa and Rajastjan. Goibibo brings to you the list of best hotels in these locations, for the grand occasion. So let’s begin…

1. Siolim House, Diwali in Goa :

The 350 year old former Portuguese mansion turned boutique hotel, brings back the colonial era with tropical climate. Located in the blissful village of Siolim, this hotel give you food delights and offers during the festive season.

Siolim house-Goa
The picturesque Siolim house, Goa

 

2. Samode Palace, Diwali in Rajasthan :

Experience the grandeur royalty as you visit the Samode Palace, located in an ecstatic location of the Aravalli Hills.

Samode Palace-Rajasthan
Samode Palace, Diwali in Rajasthan

3Coco Shambhala :

Looking for a luxury during this festive season, then Coco Shambhala located in Goa is apt for you. Get the thrill of fizzy air as you stroll through or relax near its pool clustered around palm trees.

Coco Shambhala
Terrace of Coco Shambhala

4. Fateh Garh :

Get a view of Udaipur from this magnificent hotel located on the hillside and feel the heritage renaissance.

Fateh Garh
Dusk at Fateh Garh

5. RAAS :

By the name we recall the meaning as aesthetics and yet literally looking at this oasis we can conclude the same. Raas is located in central Jodhpur and is an exquisite hotel with great food, surrounding and view.

Raas-Jodhpur
An evening at Raas-Jodhpur

6. Casa Vagator :

Varandas, swimming pool, steps and walkways are all awaiting for you at the Casa Vagator in Goa. Thrill yourself with the south east asian influence and boutique sensibilities very much noticeable here.

Casa Vagator- Goa
Spending some leisure time at Casa Vagator- Goa

7. Hotel Diggi Palace :

One of the most literary cool festival destinations of Rajasthan evolved over the years from backwater waypoint is Hotel Diggi Palace.

Hotel Diggi Palace
The detailed interiors and exterior of Hotel Diggi Palace

8Alsisar Haveli :

One of the most valued heritage hotels of Jaipur and a huge travellers hub for most of the European designers is the Alsisar Haveli.

Alsisar Haveli
Inside the Alsisar Haveli

9. Panjim Inn :

Get a jist of the portuguese architecture at the soon to be UNESCO recognized Latin quarter known as the Panjim Inn. This magnificent mansion is a great place to stay for all transit visitors who like to enjoy the culture, shopping and dining in Goa.

marvel Panjim Inn, Goa
A view of the architecture marvel Panjim Inn, Goa

10.Casa Baga :

Located at a close proximity to the beach and one of the only real boutique hotel in Baga, Goa is the Casa Baga. Ease yourself at the pool, spa and lounge located with Indonesian decorations within this hotel.

Casa Baga, Goa
Indonesian decorations within Casa Baga, Goa

11. Casa Anjuna :

One of the oldest Portuguese mansions with stylish interiors, tropical garden and located 200 metres from the beach is the Casa Anjuna in Goa.

Casa Anjuna-Goa
Afternoon pool view at Casa Anjuna-Goa

12. The Sofala or Mangrove Villa :

The busiest boutique hotel which secures the gap between family guesthouses and five star hotels of Goa. The Mangrove Villa is located at a close proximity from the Nerul river and nevertheless gives you a luxury Portuguese experience.

Mangrove Villa
The Sofala or Mangrove Villa

13. Shanti Morada :

Bridging the gap between rustic charm and high end hotels of Goa is the Shanti Morada, a 20 room property built  from the facade of an old Portuguese villa  .

Shanti Morada
The shimmering water at the Shanti Morada

14. Samode Haveli :

Hidden within the walls of the pink city of Jaipur is the Samode Haveli covered with old school Rajasthani characters and designs.

Samode Haveli
Delightful time at Samode Haveli

15. Madri Haveli :

Situated in the heart of Udaipur is an amicable and exquisitely restored 300 year old haveli known as the Madri Haveli.

Madri Haveli
Bedrooms at the Madri Haveli

Travel Diaries: Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

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“One must care about the world one will not see” –Bertrand Russel

Friend With Tiger

It was one of those Independence Day celebrations at office when all of us started planning for a holiday trip. Suggestions came from everywhere from hill station to beaches but we didn’t want a conventional travel plan. Henceforth, someone came up with the idea of jungle safari. October was just round the corner and Ranthambore was to open soon. Without giving a second thought we decided to romance the wildlife of India. The tickets were booked and all of us were ready to meet the tigers.
When we think about tigers, what is the first thought that enters our mind? Ferocious, powerful, strong headed. That is the image of tigers set in our mind and isn’t it so true. Ever since childhood, haven’t we been taught to behave like the tough and courageous like the tiger? As the date started coming nearby, all of us put on our reading glasses and began to research on Ranthambore and a lot of tigers and wildlife.

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
What we came to know left us speechless. India has more than 80% of the total population of tiger in the world. But sadly, due to disharmony in nature, infrastructure development and illegal activities like poaching, the count of tigers is diminishing day by day. Last year, we lost 63 tigers. And even though the authorities have been putting in every effort to save this endangered species, a lot more is required from our side to help this epitome of power and bravery bounce back to its proper numbers. So by the time it was time to pack our bags to the kingdom of the mighty rule, we had a vision in our minds. To Celebrate the Existence of Tigers. To Celebrate Wildlife.

The past weekend saw us updating all kinds of large and small information about tigers and our trip to Ranthambore on our Twitter handle. From stepping on to the Kota Jan Shatabdi on the sunny Saturday afternoon till getting out of the Dehradun Express on Monday morning, you saw the live action right from the land of the tigers. Here’s a quick ride to our enlightening journey to the Ranthambore National Park and the fort through the lenses.
Rathambore India                                      We spotted this pugmark during our early morning jeep safari

Ranthambore Jungle

    The beautiful forest of Ranthambore, feels even more heavenly when you are right there in an open jeep.

Ranthambore fort    A beautiful scene from the Ranthambore fort

The Traitor                       The Traitor (Yes, we have his story coming in the next post)

The PoolThe Pool – Just one word, seductive 😀

end to our journeyThe picture that marked the end to our journey

These may be just a few pictures and we know you are waiting for the whole story. A short little break and we’d be back with a detailed post or two.

For now, through this post we wish to convey you that there’s a reason why we are #celebrating wildlife and why you should do that too.

Our wildlife is a significant part of our existence and like us, they too have full right to enjoy their habitat in its purest form. So why kill them for our selfish needs? Why kill tigers for trade? Why destroy their homes for our infrastructure development?

“Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”  –Chief Seattle, 1854

We found this quote back at Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and how true it is. We are on a mission. We are not letting any tiger die an untimely death for trade or any other reason. Help us save the tiger. It’s about time. Take a trip to any of the wildlife sanctuaries this season and you’ll realize why we are trying to make friends with the tigers.

celebrating wildlife

We are #celebrating wildlife. Are you?
Follow us on Twitter and help spread the word. Let’s create a revolution.

Best Places for Sunday Brunch Around the World

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For most of us, Sunday is when the alarm does not ring and we can sleep in complete peace till 11am at least. Ahhh! Thank God for creating Sundays. After getting up late do you actually drag yourself to the kitchen to cook that same boring maggi and aalo parantha? At least I don’t. How about a Sunday brunch? I feel this is the best way to satiate our cravings for exotic tempting dishes. There are numerous restaurants across the globe that serve amazing brunch on Sundays. Let’s glance through some of those top rated ones:

Best brunch

Best brunch in India

This is where global travellers come to taste its wide collection of home grown aromatic grains and spices like Cinnamon, Mustard, Carom seed, Cardamom, Cumin seed etc etc. Brunch in India is not only local dishes like butter chicken, kadhai paner and daal bati churma, but also Sushi, Thai, Chinese, Lebanese and Italian delights. Selection of Martinis, Sparkling wines, beers and International vodkas make your dining experience an unforgettable one.

Restaurants to hop in: La Terrasse Oberoi Grand (Kolkata), 55 East at the Grand Hyatt (Mumbai), Lodi Garden Restaurant (Delhi), JW Kitchen at JW Marriott (Bangalore) and Otto Infinito (Mumbai).

morning-brunch-on-the-table
Tempting starters on a Sunday brunch

Best Brunch in the Netherlands

Amsterdam is known for serving the best brunches. Gartine Restaurant and Greetje here serve great brunch. While Gartine is known for serving authentic Dutch food as well as dessert, Greetje managed to bag Tripadvisors Travellers Choice 2014 winner for ‘Go for food’ items like grilled sandwich of traditional Frysian sugar bread with home-style duck liver pât. Get the warmth of Dutch soil with all these. Feel the likeliness of your native land with homemade apple syrup or grilled veal loin of ‘Waterland Wealth’ with mash potatoes and endive with melted duck liver.

Restaurants to hop in: Greetje and Gartine

Best Brunch in the Netherlands
Gartine in Netherlands

Best Brunch in Spain

Food and non- food lovers… head to Spain if you want to try world cuisine in a royal way on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The Picnic Restaurant and Con Garcia are amongst the most preferred restaurants for brunch here. The Picnic Restaurant brings forth a range of spicy and non- spicy American delicacies while Con Garcia serves Spanish, Contemporary, International, Fusion cuisines. Picnic Restaurant is also loved for its live- kitchen trait. As Con Garcia changes its menu every two months, brunch here in every quarter is a completely different experience. There are salads and scrambled egg for diet conscious ones, while sweet lovers have tempting cakes and cookies handy.

Restaurants to hop in: The Picnic Restaurant and Con Garcia

Best Brunch in Afghanistan
Peppered steak with garlic

Best Brunch in Israel

Sounds different? But Israel is one of those countries which serves varied seafood dishes in the world. Brunch in Israel is a delight for epicures. FleaMarket restaurant in Rabbi Yohanan Street, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel serves Mediterranean Seafood in the Bar and Bistro. Its classy ambience with open kitchen is a treat to eyes and nose. Italkiya in Flea Market in Jaffa should be included in your list if you want to dine over Italian cuisine like pasta, gnocchi, pizza, meat and fish. Keep saturating your tummy until and unless you taste desserts brought from local Israel kitchen.

Restaurants to hop in: FleaMarket Restaurant in Tel Aviv and Italkiya in Jaffa

Best Brunch in Israel
An Italian delicacy.. Diet conscious ones can try

Best Brunch in Afghanistan

Why is it strange or scary to brunch in Afghanistan when your favourite Afgani chicken, Kheer and Kaju Katli is served in a traditional way? Serena in Kabul is where you should head for enticing brunch topped with desserts like Kheer, Gulab Jamun, Kaju Katli, pastries and ice cream. Serena’s Moghul garden styled courtyard gives a king-like dining experience. Yet another exciting place is Le Jardin located on Street 9, Kabul. It serves French cuisines and is among the top eating outlets in Afghanistan. Clustered around a beautiful garden, it makes people enjoy the essence of nature along with their brunch.

Restaurants to hop in: Serena and Le Jardin in Kabul.

Best-Brunch-in-India
Regal style dining on a lazy Sunday afternoon

Before we kick-start with a work-loaded week again, let’s drag ourselves to one of these restaurants. Savour their widespread Sunday brunch offering and tell us what you liked best.

(With inputs from Debatree Saha)

Long Weekends-Offbeat Getaways

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The Suave Indian traveller has taken to the international concept of the weekend getaway like a fish takes to whisky …err … I mean water.

Rothang Pass near Manali-1

This has lead to a boom in the tourism business for many destinations near the larger cities around India where the Indian professional class heads to unwind from the stress of the rat race.

This boom is welcome and it helps the local hospitality industry which would otherwise see business during the seasonal flow, whereas now there is any inflow of business all around the year and it spikes during long weekends of which we have two this month.
To make matters more complex these long weekends come slam bang in the middle of the festive holiday season, this means that the important tourist destinations are packed with the planned holidaymakers with the families in tow and now the weekend escapists decide to join the fray. It is now a fight to the finish.
One single image of the road to Rohtang Pass near Manali will give a clear idea of the chaos that is common place at times like this.

Here is a look at the scene in Shimla during a similar long weekend

Rothang Pass near Manali-2

And it is not just the hill stations that are packed, half the world is headed to GOA !!!!

You get the point right!!! Which bring us to the point of this piece.
Why go to the standard destinations? If you want to be with the “happening” crowd you should stick to the tried and tested places but if you are someone who wants to really unwind from the stressful corporate lifestyle you lead and be seen as a trendsetter who will boldly go where no simple “tourist” has gone before then you need to look into the list appended below.

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1) Binsar near Delhi

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Just 33 kms from Almora and a little under 400 kms from Delhi, this is a hidden jewel of the Himalayas and houses the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary which is spread around the Jhandi Dhar hills. This refuge was set up in 1988 for the protection of the broad leaf oak forests, and it has over 200 bird species.

The view displayed up here is from a place called Zero Point and one can see many Himalayan peaks from here. Kedarnath, Shivling, Trisul and Nanda Devi being some of them.

2)  Lohagad Fort near Mumbai

Rothang Pass near Manali-5

Lohagad means the fort built with Iron and it is one of the many forts in the Western Ghats. Only 52 kms from Pune and close to the famous weekend getaways of Lonavala and Khandala that see vast traffic from Mumbai this magnificent fort is at an elevation of 1,033 m (3,389 ft) above sea level. Historic and imposing it is developing some interesting stay options and home stays around this pretty fort.

3) Savandurga near Bangalore

Rothang Pass near Manali-6

Savandurga is a visually delightful hilly area just 60 km from Bangalore just off the Magadi road. The hill has some kind of record as it is believed to be among the largest single stone or monolith hills in all off Asia. The area boasts of an altitude of 1226 m above mean sea level and contains forms like peninsular gneiss, granites, basic dykes and laterites. The river Arkavathi is close at hand to provide interesting frames for avid photographers along with the Thippagondanahalli reservoir and the Manchanabele dam.
These hills are visited by pilgrims due to the presence of the Savandi Veerabhadreshwara Swamy and Narasimha Swamy temples here. This place is big with Rock climbers, cave explorers and adventurers. Manchanabele Dam nearby is famous for watersports.

4) Dandeli near Goa

Rothang Pass near Manali-7

Fewer than 100 Kms from Goa is the stunning wilderness of Dandeli and the nearby Anshi National park. The 1st place to introduce commercial white water rafting in South India on the river Kali, Dandeli is also blessed with magnificent forest and a wild elephant population.
A local legend observes that the area is named after Dandelappa, a servant of the Mirashi landlords, who lost his life because of his loyalty, he is now considered a deity. Another legend states that the king named Dandakanayaka passed through the forests and named them after himself (so typical of these kings and politicians). The present city is believed to stand on the place where Dandakaranya stood when he named the area.

5) Gokarna  near Goa

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Fewer than 150 Kms from the busy beaches of Goa lay the golden sands of Gokarn. Gokarna started off as a small temple town and is own the offbeat heartbeat of the state of Karnataka. The local people came to visit the temple of Mahabhaleshwara. This temple is believed to house the original image of Lord Shiva’s lingam. The relaxed environs attract a lot of tourists and the beaches near Gokarn now house stores, restaurants and resorts.

Time to hit the offbeat beat, you packed yet ?