Month: April 2015

Top 5 Camping Destinations in India

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Scene one, act 1

camping trip Plan

The morning discussion in office is the long weekend coming up.
Enthu Cutlet No1 – Boss, Chalte hain !!! Let’s go camping yaar!

Cutlets BFF – Awesome !!! What a Idea bhai!!! Defi chalet hain, what fun will come yaar!
Agony Aunt No 1 – Nahi yaar ! I can’t come, I am broke yaar ! No money at all …actually I want this new phone, the Pineapple 8, it is for 17000 bucks only.
Agony Aunts Antagonist – Tere se nahi hoga yaar !!! You just stay put and take selfie after selfie ….. I really want to go camping in Rishikesh.
Agony Aunt No 1 – Giggle giggle He he he !! You are just jealous of me.
Agony Aunts Antagonist – Hmmm !!! (pouts)

long weekend camping

Scene one, act 2

Camping plan in Office

The discussion has moved to the planning stage
Team Lead – This is great idea, let’s go for sure, bahut daaru piyenge yaar!

Old Fogy (irritating know it all) – Lekin why Rishiskesh only ? There are many camping destinations in India, you can go Camping in Dharamsala. I simply love the mountains.
Enthu Cutlet No1 – Arre yaar ! You and your big talks !!! We have only three days.
Cutlets BFF – He he he !!! Now you will say let’s go Camp in ladakh !!!! But who has so much time and money ???

Floor Boss – Kya ho raha hai ???? Avail HO JAO !!!! TWO CALLS WAITING !!!
Meanwhile – Old Fogy is sulking and the others are booking their camping holiday.

1.Camping in Rishikesh

Rishikesh Camping

This is the camping destination of India with its white sand beaches and rafting adventure. Here are some options to choose from:
•    Red Chilli Beach Camp
•    Camp 3 Blind Mice
•    Rendezvous Rafters Camp
•    Camp Rapidfire

2.Camping in Ladakh

Camping in Ladakh

Camping on the roof of the world has its own charm and its own challenges. High altitude and cold weather do not sway travellers from the charming people and the outlandish beauty of Leh, Ladhak.

•    Best places to camp in this spectacular location are Cold Desert Camp, Wonderland Camp, Namra Camp and Mystique Meadows.
•    The Nubra Ethnic Camp offers a wonderful chance to enjoy the scenic views in Numbra Valley as well as visit the numerous monasteries located nearby.

3.Camping in Dharamsala

camping in Dharamshala

Another superb destination with a stone’s throw distance of Delhi is the popular and stunning Buddhist tourism centre of Dharamshala and Mcleodganj. Have a fun-filled camping session at affordable rates in Camp Chrysalid or Nomadic Escapes.

4.Camping in Madikeri

madikeri camping
Down south in Madikeri, the more interesting option to camping in the home stay scene. Live on coffee estate and enjoy the traditional hospitality of the wonderful Kudagu people.

Best places to stay include Wind Breeze Hotel, Coffee Estate Homestays and Anugraha Homestay. A bonfire with friends or fishing in the pond, Coffee Estate Homestays that allows the benefit of staying in the surroundings of coffee estate is the place to be.

5.Camping in Coorg

Coorg Camping destination

Coorg is the tourist trap of south India and there are plenty of stay options but the real charm is to getaway to some offbeat camping stays and thankfully there are plenty of those as well.
Best camps to try are:
•    Dubare Camps
•    The Tamara
•    Coorg Jungle Camp
•    Camp Toddy
All of these can be easily booked on Goibibo.com

Forget Act 3-Act Now and Go for that Camping Trip.

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Call of the Wild: Wildlife Getaways from Delhi

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Wildlife tour in delhi

The capital city, New Delhi enjoys a strategic location when it comes to tourism. Catering to n number of tourist locations, New Delhi has various options for a weekend getaway. The good thing about all of these spectacular destinations is that they do not simply furnish a particular set of preferences. Infact there is a choice for every kind of traveller, Cultural, religious, historical, adventure, scenic, wildlife – the vast area around New Delhi has it all.

Let’s take a look at the top 5 wildlife tours around Delhi.

1.Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Wildlife Getaways from Delhi

This one definitely tops the list not just because of the highest number of tigers that it houses but also because of the enigmatic conservation of natural surroundings. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve is your best bet to spot a tiger with approximately 62 tigers to its credit. Few other places to look around are:

  • Ranthambore Fort
  • Jogi Mahal
  • Raj Bagh

How to reach?

Take a train to Sawai Madhopur Railway Station. From there on, board a bus or a cab to cover a distance of close to 10 km.

Accommodation: Choose from a number of resorts, guest houses and hotels in Ranthambore listed on Goibibo.

2.Corbett National Park

Corbett2

Situated in the peaceful land of the Kumaon, Corbett National is named after the environment conservationist, Jim Corbett. It is counted as the oldest wildlife park and is known for preserving a number of wildlife species including tigers, elephants and wild cats. Religious people can visit the following temples:

  • Garjiya Devi Temple
  • Sita Vani Temple

How to reach?

Ramnagar Railway Station happens to be the nearest railway station. Alternatively, you may take a bus available at regular intervals from Anand Vihar ISBT/Kashmere Gate, New Delhi.

Accommodation: When it comes to accommodation in Corbett, resorts are your best option. La Perle Resort and Namah Resort are your best bets.

3. Sariska Tiger Reserve, Alwar

Sariska Tiger Reserve

In the list of weekend getaways from Delhi, Sariska National Park located in Alwar comes next. The site was in news some years back for being the poachers’ target however, with continued efforts it has managed to revive its tiger population. After a jungle safari experience, look around places like Karni Mata Temple and Vinay Vilas Mahal.

How to reach?

Located approximately 212 km from New delhi, it takes some 4 hours to reach this wildlife sanctuary via NH8. A roadtrip with friends here is always a good option.

Accommodation: Get a chance to stay like the kings at the hotels in Sariska Tiger Reserve.

4.Bharatpur Bird Sancturay

Bharatpur Bird Sancturay

For a little different kind of a wildlife experience, try Keoladeo National Park or simply Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. With over 230 bird species, it is perfect destination for bird watchers, environmentalists, photographers and writers.

How to reach?

While planning for weekend tours from Delhi, this place works perfect due to this excellent connectivity. It is located at just 5 km from the Bharatpur railway station.

Accommodation: Among hotels near Bharatpur Wildlife Sanctuary, explorers can pick:

  • Hotel Raj Palace
  • Hotel Surodh Mahal
  • Hotel Sonar Haveli

5. Rajaji National Park

Rajaji2

The locations of Uttarakhand are the perfect options for Delhi Weekend Tours. It is named after C. Gopalachari, the famous freedom fighter and is spread over a land of 1150 sq km. It has the highest number of elephants in Uttarakhand and also houses tigers in good numbers apart from deer, leopard, hyena and beers.

How to reach?

Located at a distance of around 220 km from New Delhi, vacationers can take a bus or train to Rishikesh or Haridwar. From there on, taxi and local buses are easily available.

Accommodation: V Resorts is one of the best accommodations in Rajaji National Park.

Kerala hosts its first ever Sand Art Festival in Alleppey

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SAFA_2015

Kerala – God’s own country is here with yet another exciting event for the locals, domestic as well as its international travellers. Known for its promotion for creativity and beauty, the state has come up with the wonderful initiative of bringing on-board SAFA – Sand Art Festival Alleppey.  The Venice of the East attracts a large chunk of tourists throughout the year, this time being a hit among people interested in sightseeing and enjoying the backwaters. An equally preferred duration amongst school going kids makes it a driving force behind scheduling the event in the month of April. Let’s take a look at a few details of the sand art festival in Alappuzha.

Sand Art Festival Alleppey

When?

It’s a 9 day long event that started off on 18th April and will go on till 26th of April.

Where?

Alleppey or Alappuzha Beach

What exactly is Sand Art?

Sand Art or sand sculpture is the process of creating through minimalistic elements – sand and water. Creation or moulding of sand can be in any form ranging from human faces or mythological figures to landscapes and structures.

Festival in Alappuzha

This technique is quite popular in coastal areas globally. In India, this kind of an event is organized in the states of Odisha and Goa. Kerala Tourism Department has now come up with the promotion of this unique concept in Alleppey due to the obvious reason of its apt location.

SAFA Team

A great initiative to encourage art, creativity and ofcoure tourism, SAFA 2015 is the brainchild of some professional artists, event managers and an ad film maker and is backed by the local authorities and the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation in association with Sand Art Festival (SAF).

Participants

The event will have participants including sand artists as well as the general public. Almost 500 artists (national and international) are going to be involved in the sand art installations. A space of 20 x 20 will be provided to each team. Also, they will be given 3-5 helpers for the same. The winners selected by a team of eminent sand artists will get a prize money of Rs. 1 Lakh.

festival in Alappuzha

What to expect at SAFA 2015?

The event would be led by Sudarshan Pattnaik – the much acclaimed Padmashree rewarded sand artist who is known for his tribute to the Tsunami victims in the form of sand sculpture. Apart from the display of the numerous sand art forms, expect the following at SAFA 2015:

  • Art Exhibition
  • Cultural Programmes
  • Helicopter rides

Alleppey Travel Guide

There are a number of places to visit in Alleppey such as The Sri Krishna temple, Alleppey Beach, Krishnapuram Palace, etc.

Sand and art fest

Where to Stay?

If this excites you, it’s time to head to this beautiful destination. There are a good number of hotels in Alleppey  that can be easily booked through Goibibo.

Thrissur Pooram Festival – India’s Greatest Elephant Festival Is Here

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Thrissur Pooram

India is known for its vibrant and lively celebrations. Each state of our nation has its own set of traditions, customs and festivals. The unity in diversity that India portrays is popular worldwide and there’s no doubt in the fact that it is one of the key reasons behind the big chunk of tourists that come around throughout the year. Kerala is particularly known for its numerous temple festivals, Thrissur Pooram being the grandest of them all. Considered as the most important event from the religious point of view, this pooram festival witnesses a great amount of enthusiasm among the locals.

Venue?

Vadakumnathan Temple Maidan, Thrissur, Kerala

When is it held?

The Thrissur Pooram fest takes place on the Pooram day of the Malayalam month of Medom that lies between April and May. This year, the locals will be celebrating it on the 17th of April.

History and Religious Significance

Thrissur Pooram

The pooram festival in Kerala dates back to the times of the 18th century when Raja Rama Varma (also known as Sakthan Thampuran) united ten temples located around the Vadakumnathan Temple to pay respect to the presiding deity – Lord Vadakumnathan. It is said that a certain sect of people were denied to be a part of the procession of Arattupuzha Pooram (a popular festival during those times) because they couldn’t reach on time. They went with their plea to Sakthan who came up with the concept of Thrissur Pooram Festival which is now celebrated with great fervour till date.

The participants of the fest are:

  • Thiruvambady Bhagavathi
  • Paramekkavu Bhagavathi
  • Nethilakkavu Bhagavathi
  • Karamukku Bhagavathi
  • Ayyanthole Bhagavathi
  • Laloor Bhagavathi
  • Choorakkattukavu Bhagavathi
  • Chembukkavu Bhagavathi
  • Panamukkumpally Sastha
  • Kanimangalam Sastha

What’s the Catch?

A grand parade of elephants and beautiful fireworks.

Thrissur Pooram

Activities

The parade comprises 15 beautifully draped elephants representing the two sides or temples (Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu). Alongwith the elephant stays a man who holds a parasol that happens to be taller than the giant mammal. Another man is present to wave the fan while the orchestra plays on. The men standing on the elephants back exchange the parasols during the processions while the drums keep on rolling and beautiful fireworks take place in the sky. The event starts as early as six in the morning and goes on for as long as 36 hours non-stop.

Thrissur – Travel Guide

Thrissur has a number of attractions to its credit. Few of them are:

  • Nava Mukunda Temple
  • Arattupuzha Temple
  • Athirapally Falls
  • Elephant Camp
  • Heritage Garden

Browse through Thrissur Travel Guide for more info.

Where to Stay?

There are numerous hotels in Thrissur which offer a comfortable stay to visitors in reasonable rates.

How to Reach?

Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport (58 km)

Nearest Railway Station: Thrissur Junction Railway Station

Go Explore– Legends and Lakes of Ladakh!

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Lakes of Ladakh

1. Go Breathless in Ladakh

Stark and dramatic, this landscape leaves you breathless. There is a beauty in the barrenness, a sense of high as you give in to the magic of Ladakh. This edition of Go Explore takes you into the heart of the mountains and the cold desert. Spiritualism lies atop cliffs as monasteries perched high up in the hilltops beckon you. There is a dash of colour as rivers and lakes appear out of nowhere. And you hear stories and legends everywhere.

ladakh
On the way to Leh

My senses are heightened the moment I visit Leh. And it is not just the dizzying heights that make me go breathless. It is an excitement that cannot be expressed, only experienced. And if you want to feel that sense of exhilaration this summer, then visit Ladakh with me.  I will tell you stories about the monasteries, the birds, the lakes and suggest some of the must see places on your trip.

2. Not Leh, but Shey

Ladakh
Statue of Buddha in copper and gilded gold

A row of prayer wheels, mani walls and chortens fill the landscape as I look down. The Indus River is a sheet of light blue, adding a dash of colour to the valley. I am standing on a little hillock where the monastery of Shey is located. A 1000 year old ballad talks of King Gesar or Kesar, the legendary Tibetan hero sent by the Gods to defeat demons. It is believed that Shey, which was the capital of ancient Ladakh kingdom was probably the mythical land of Ling, ruled by Kesar

Located about 14km from Leh, Shey, situated at a height of 11,000 feet is now a small village on the banks of the Indus. Not too many tourists head here today, but you can see the ancient forts, the palace in ruins, the monastery and the imposing idols of Sakyamuni, the form of Buddha, glittering in copper and gilded gold. Looking down at the valley and watching the flags fluttering in the breeze, I wonder how a capital town which had reigned for over 600 years could just be lost in the landscape.

3. Alchi – Not Just Another Sleepy Hamlet

ladakh
Alchi Monastery, Ladakh

Hidden amidst an apricot grove, with just a handful of homes is the oldest monastery in Ladakh that looks neither spectacular nor touristy. A couple of lamas sit outside the shrine meditating. Walking around I see a courtyard with small alleys that lead to several small shrines that display paintings like the Thousand Buddhas and the Wheel of Life on the walls. It is extremely dark and using a torch, I learn that the paintings are a fusion of the artistic and spiritual aspect of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The main temple, Sumstek is a three-storied shrine dedicated to the three incarnations of Buddha – Avalokiteshwara, Maitreya and Manjushree but we cannot see the heads of these deities as they stand in the first floor and there is no access to reach there .

Legends fill the air. The monastery apparently escaped the invasion of Ladakh by Ali Mir, a ruler from Baltistan in the 17th century. While King Jamyang was taken prisoner, a popular legend says that he was restored his throne after a secret marriage with one of Ali Mir’s daughter , Gyal Khatun. While historians refute the story, the legend says that locals even accepted the new queen as an incarnation of the White Tara.

4. Diskit – Haunted in the Valley of Flowers

The high point of any traveler’s visit to Ladakh is the journey uphill to the highest motorable road at Khardungala Pass. But the landscape changes dramatically as we plunge downhill to visit the Valley of Flowers, popularly known as Nubra Valley. The journey becomes the destination. The desert flowers sprout here and there and apricot orchards fill the minds’ eye while the Nubra or the Siachen River join Shyok. Suddenly the valley morphs into a desert with Bactrian camels chugging along sand dunes. I have never seen anything more surreal.

ladakh
Maitreya, a form of Buddha, at Diskit

And in this dreamy landscape is a 700 year old monastery at Diskit. Fierce guardian deities greet me, while a mighty Maitreya, a form of Buddha is housed here. But there is an interesting story here. Dancers with masks celebrate the Festival of the Scapegoat or Desmochhey , symbolizing victory of good over evil. The story goes that a demon was killed here but he still haunts the Gompa. Ask the locals and they tell you that his wrinkled hand and arm is still housed in the Gonkhang or The Temple of Guardians. I am not allowed inside though.

5. Tsomoriri – Beauty in Melancholy

ladakh
Tsomoriri Lake, Ladakh

Lost amidst the mountains are lakes that are oblivious of their own beauty.  Locals revere it as a sacred gift of the living planet. It is indeed divine. While Pangong Tso is largely on the tourist’s radar, the spectacular Tsomoriri located at a height of 15,000 feet is usually missed out on the itinerary. Standing and gazing at the many shades of blue is purely therapeutic. The azure waters sparkled while the mountains formed a formidable backdrop, with the peaks glistening in a coat of ice and snow. Shivering in the cold as the temperature goes several notches below zero, I lose track of day and time. The sun sets and the moon rises and in the pristine beauty of the moment, I listen to a tragic tale.

A young girl from the neighbouring Korzok , Tsomo was herding her yaks ,when one of them ran into the lake . Tsomo rushed towards the lake, yelling “ Ri Ri Ri “calling out to the yak. But as she stepped on to the ice, the waters swallowed both of them

6. Cha Tungtung Karbo – Meet the State Bird of Kashmir

Ladakh
Wildlife in Ladakh

A green carpet suddenly greets me and I am a bit groggy after gulping yet another glass of green tea. And then something moves in the grass. I am excited and so is my driver. “ Cha Tungtung Karbo, “ he whispers as I look at him confused. He is referring to the elusive black necked crane, the State bird of Kashmir. My driver explains that “Cha means bird and tung tung karbo is long-legged and white and that there is poem on the crane which talks about the rebirth of the Dalai Lama.”

The back necked cranes are considered very rare and they visit Ladakh from Tibet for breeding between June and September. They usually come in pairs and mark their territories. Cranes do have a spiritual significance in Buddhism as they symbolise marital longevity .

Ladakh is indeed a birder’s paradise and I see the Bactrian magpie, several redstarts, finches and robins, gulls and ducks and the bar headed geese.  And the wildlife is equally fascinating. I may have missed the snow leopard but the Himalayan marmots have become a tourist attraction in themselves, while the most poignant moment of my trip was another herd of kiangs standing in a circle near the base of the mountain, apparently mourning the death of one of their kind.

Where to Stay?

I have stayed in several properties in Ladakh – from guest houses to homestays to tented accommodation to pitching my own tent. This summer do plan to holiday in Ladakh and here are some great suggestions for you.

  • Right in the heart of Leh, near the market is this guest house with a beautiful garden. Visit   Nezer View Guest House
  • Owned by a family, the hotel offers breath taking, panoramic views of the snow swathed Stock Kangri mountain range. Visit Spic N Span
  • Close to the airport and set in a picturesque surrounding is Mahey Resort with a beautiful garden is this charming property.Visit Mahey Retreat
  • One of the few 4 star deluxe properties in Leh catering to all your needs. Visit Singee Palace
  • A comfortable 4 star deluxe hotel, preferred by travelers located in the heart of Leh near the market. Visit Lasermo

Goa to host its first ever Coconut and Cashew Festival

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Fest in Goa
Photo courtesy: goa-tourism.com

Goa – Land of sun, sand and the beaches is known for its vibrant and lively events. The world famous Sunburn festival attracts a huge gathering every year and so does the seafood festival. Going forward, the Goan authorities have introduced three new festivals that sync with the aura of the state. While one of them has already taken place and has received a wonderful response, two more await their commencement. The three new additions to the Goa event list are:

  • Shigmotsav
  • Goa Food and Cultural Festival
  • Goa Coconut and Cashew Festival

Cashew Festival

A one of its kind, this festival is definitely going to help promote Goa Tourism. “Goa loves to celebrate the essence of life and Goa Tourism helps to bring out the best of Goa’s culture, heritage, traditions, feasts, festivals, and cuisines through events showcasing all these facets to the world.

Goa-Coconut_Festival

While Shigmo and Goa Food & Cultural Festival are being conducted annually and have been receiving incredible responses from tourists far and wide, the all new Coconut and Cashew Festival is another addition to the annual list of events, ” said Ameya Abhyankar IAS, Director of Tourism, Government of Goa in an interaction with the press.

Coconut and cashew, both are an identity to Goa and its culture. An essence of each of these is felt in the state’s cuisine and the idea of coming up with a Coconut and Cashew Festival in Goa is surely going to click with the audience. The event is to take place from April 29th – May 3rd 2015. A series of activities are likely to take place during the same. A few of them include the following:

  • Cookery shows
  • Cocktail demonstration using Feni (an alcoholic brewed drink made out of cashew juice and sometimes coconut sap exclusively in Goa)
  • Feni Distillation Process
  • Music Concerts
  • Stalls displaying local handicraft

Aimed at promoting the culture and traditions of Goa alongwith highlighting the significance of coconut and cashew in Goa’s day to day life, this event is going to give you yet another reason to run off to this blissful land.

Cashew Festival in Goa

Goa that attracts tourists 365 days throughout the year has a lot of attractions to its credit apart from the silvery beaches. Dudhsagar Waterfalls, Tropical Spice Plantation, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Shanta Durga Temple, Fort Agauda and Se Cathedral are the must-see spots in Goa. Due to the heavy number of tourists, one can easily find a variety of hotels in Goa serving all kinds of travellers.

Read our Goa Travel Guide to know more.

Top 5 Surfing Destinations in India

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Surfing

India’s vast 7000 km coastline and stretch of azure water which knows no end contributes to the country’s geographical layout. That is not the end though. Our country’s ecstatic beauty contributed by picturesque oceans has reached the heart of millions of domestic and international. The concept of holidaying has changed with time, thanks to advent of technology and new ideas generated in the tourism sector. People no more travel just for a romantic escapade or a leisure family outing. They travel in search of something different, something thrilling and exciting which they will remember forever. With an increasing number of backpackers and adventure junkies visiting India’s, its water bodies have become more demanding. Therefore, a latest introduction in tourism industry called ‘Surfing’ happened to meet the adventurous mood of such travellers.

These adventure lovers crave to ride high on waves, balance their weight on surf boat, let brisk air blow over their hair and they experience a new world of sun, sea and sand. If you are not sure where to head for surfing in India, then look no further. Goibibo brings to you a list of 5 exotic surfing destinations that will give you the most awesome feeling and best chance to explore the blue sea. Take a look.

1. Kovalam Beach, Kerala

Surfing

Known for its beach side cafes and international tourists, Kovalam is the most sought after beach destination for both adventure and leisure lovers. It is the perfect address for surfers to take their surf boats and head for an adventure on the waters. Though its rocky sea bead turns out surfing a bit risky, yet surfers are provided with all life saving equipments before heading for the expedition. Experienced surfers can ride the high waves and starters are guided by surf clubs in Kovalam area. The weather from October to February is the best time for the act.

2. Varkala Beach, Kerala

Surfing

While Kovalam is ideal for expert surfers, Varkala beach is ideal for beginners. Atmosphere, waves and sandy sea here are perfect here for surfing. Those who want to learn the water sport, can do that too in Varkala Beach. So before the scorching summer sets in, pack you bag and head for a thrill at Varkala. November to March is the best time for surfing.

3. Gokarna Beach, Karnataka

Surfing

Though known for its serene scenic and lone setting, the beach provides everything required for surfing. The beauty of surrounding mountains, lines of coconut trees, clear skies clean blue water and friendly waves can be experienced more vivaciously by surfing in Gokarna Beach. Also you need not be an expert. Take your surf boats between October and March and get set go!!

To know more about Gokarna Travel Guide

4. Paradip, Odisha

Surfing

Those who have not heard about the place, now it is time for them to know about it. Paradip is a paradise for experienced surfers who can travel approximately 1km on the gigantic waves beating the sun rays. It is always advisable to avoid heavy downpour between July to September and travel between November to April. So be ready for a lifetime experience in this coming season.

5. Goa

Surfing

Water sports in the state of beaches, Goa, need no introduction. Its splendid and charming beaches along with blue waters of Arabian Sea are highly recommended for surfing. It allures tourists and surfers from round the world to catch a glimpse of its scenic beauty and feel the thrill of adventure. Along with para sailing and water scooter, it’s time to try out the all new surfing expedition.

If you are a water person and the sight and sound of waves drive you crazy, then stop giving a second thought and ride high on the waves in India. Plan now!