Month: May 2015
Created by nature and restored by mankind- this defines Himachal Pradesh, a world of its own, dotted by mountains, valleys, rivers, shrines and history. Words fall short and eyes remain sole witness to Himachal’s ethereal beauty, something that is immaculately preserved by mankind. Moulded in between lofty Himalayan ranges, Himachal Pradesh is an exclusive assortment of emerald green meadows, gushing water bodies and charming tiny hamlets. It is one unique Indian destination where vacation is a mix of experiencing local customs, relaxing under moonlit sky and binging on adventure acts. Let’s go through the 5 best places to visit in Himachal Pradesh that are packed with beauty and serenity, thrill and adventure.
1. Mcleodganj: Fondly termed as ‘Little Lhasa’, Mcleodganj is the seat of Dalai Lama that flaunts a unique Indo-Tibetan culture. Speckled with temples and monasteries, Mcleodganj ceaselessly spreads the air of secularism. Enclosed by pine and deodar forests and blessed by immaculate best of nature, it is popular amongst leisure and adventure holidaymakers. A culmination of famed and offbeat trekking routes, it gives a chance to explore the best of Dhauladar Range. Dhauladhar Round Trek, Indrahara Pass Trek, Triund Trek Moon Peak Trek and Nag Dal Trek have attracted adventurers since time immemorial. Tantalizing taste buds with best of Tibetan cuisine is absolutely distinctive. From basic homestays to luxury accommodations, hotels in Mcleodganj accommodate hippies, families and backpackers alike.
2. Dalhousie: As it is less explored, Dalhousie’s unspoiled views are best things to heal young and ageing eyes. It is a distinct British town where the English remnants swing in harmony with unmatched beauty of Pir-Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges. Around 24km away is tucked one of the celebrated Dalhousie attractions “The Mini Switzerland of India”, Khajjiar. Camping amid wilderness, paragliding over soaring Himalayan ranges and cherishing the unmatched beauty of pine covered meadow go every way to create spotless memories of an adventure holiday.
3. Kasol: Nestled in one corner of Parvati Valley, Kasol is a tiny postcard like hill station that gained popularity amongst trekkers and backpackers. Trekking routes like Sar Pass, Yanker Pass, Pin Parvati Pass and Khiri Ganga emerges from Kasol itself. The mighty flowing Parvati River along pine covered forests and interrupted by boulders adds to Kasol’s scenic spell.
4. Malana: An isolated village in the Kullu valley is indeed an epitome of Himachali culture, cuisine and customs. 4-5 days of Malana Trek from Manali lands one to a rich indigenous culture that is preserved by locals since generations. Surprisingly, the village at an elevation of 3,029 meters can only be accessed by foot. Every inch of the trekking route along Manali-Ganachalani-Chanderkhani Pass-Dadru-Malana-Jari-Kullu is promisingly captivating.
5. Manali: Perched at an altitude of 2,050 metres in Kullu, Manali flaunts a scenic intimacy with nature round the year. It is one stop destination that opens the gates of remote places of Himachal. It is a hub of countless adventure activities like trekking, river rafting, paragliding, hiking, mountain biking, skiing and mountaineering. Rafting the white waters of Beas, skiing on the snow clad Solang Valley and trekking to Chandra Tal and Beas Kund are overwhelming and unforgettable for those who indulge in these.
So, when are you planning to go to Himachal Pradesh?
The beauty of our nation goes beyond the architectural marvels comprising royal palaces and holy temples. The varied seasons that we experience here impact our holiday destinations. There’s always a list of places waiting for a travel as per the climatic conditions, all thanks to the several wonderful choices available to explore. It’s the vacation time yet again and almost everyone is gearing up for an exciting trip with their loved ones. The northern part of India is currently suffering from scorching heat and it’s about time to hit the cooler parts. But let’s not reach the likes of Kullu, Manali or Mussoorie. Let’s head towards the road not taken.
Here’s a list of some offbeat destinations for your summer holiday plan.
1) Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh
The season’s top grosser is undoubtedly the Switzerland of India, Khajjiar. Its raw beauty has the ability to sooth your soul. Khajjiar offers splendid views especially the one of the Mount Kailash. The lake located nearby also finds a number of visitors and is an ideal place for photography buffs.
- In order to reach, travellers can take a bus or hire a taxi from Dalhousie which is just 23 km from Khajjiar. Those taking the rail will have to drop by at Pathankot Railway Station and for the ones who prefer coming via air would be required to get down at the airport in Gaggal in Kangra.
- Hotels in Khajjiar are easily available. Try going for resorts and cottages located in the backdrop of nature.
- The summers are mildly cold and you might have to carry light woolens with you.
2) Horsley Hills, Andhra Pradesh
Surrounded by dense eucalyptus trees, Horsley Hills is a small yet pleasant summer hill resort in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. The humble Nallamalai mountain range secures this spectacular location. It is named after W.D.Horsley, the Governor of the state during the British Raj.
- Apart from the Horsley Hills, explorers can go for the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary and Mallamma Temple, both quite popular among the locals as well as tourists.
- The Malllamma Temple is a significant religious destination for the locals. Located on top of the Horsley Hills, this shrine is dedicated to Goddess Mallamma and can be visited till 7 p.m.
- Bangalore International Airport is the nearest airport whereas Madnapalle happens to be the nearest railway station from where local buses or taxi can be hired easily.
3) Chopta, Uttarakhand
A trekker’s paradise and a birdwatcher’s delight, Chopta is a small unexplored destination in Uttarakhand. Lose yourself amidst the alpine forests and a huge range of flora and fauna. And if that’s not enough, the view of the mountain ranges like Nanda Devi, Chaukhamba and Trishul will surely charm you like anything.
- The Chopta – Tungnath – Chandrashila trek is extremely popular among adventure lovers. Vacationers can also indulge in rock climbing and rappelling.
- Located in the district of Rudraprayag, Chopta can be easily reached via road from Gopeshwar that is approximately 26 km away.
- Summers are pleasant and you might have to carry light woolens with you. During winters, this land is covered with snow and looks no less than paradise.
4) Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh
Situated in the Satpura range, Pachmarhi is the only hill station in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Mainly occupied by the army, this location has been a cantonment since the times of the East India Company. This beautiful retreat has a number of glorious waterfalls to its credit alongwith a lot of cave paintings mostly Buddhist in origin.
- Sip a cup of tea and listen to the gurgling sound of the falls – That’s going to be your best time at Pachmarhi.
- A 2 hour drive from Jabalpur is all it takes to reach this exceptional land of beauty.
- Home to a variety of flora and fauna, Pachmarhi is said to have a big contribution towards wildlife conservation.
5) Kalimpong, West Bengal
Overlooking the Teesta River, Kalimpong is a hill station located close to the mesmerizing Darjeeling. It is a place that is ideal for both, couples as well as a group of friends. A lot of inhabitants come from Nepal and Bhutan origin.
- Apart from its majestic views, Kalipong is studded with Buddhist monasteries, beautiful churches and ancient temples.
- Nearest railways station is New Jalpaiguri from where local bus or a taxi can be hired.
- Galingka, Crockety and Teesta Bazaar are a few attractions that must be visited while in Kalimpong.
Religion plays an important role in travel. It is due to the secularism in India that has lead to the huge significance of religious tourism. Our country has been ruled by a number of dynasties and each brought a flavor of their own through their architectural marvels. These phenomenal structures also included a number of places of worship made for the rulers as well as the masses. Goibibo has come with a list of some enthralling religious places in India.
1) Vaishno Devi, Katra
Vaishno Devi is perhaps the most crowded Hindu religious destinations. Dedicated to Goddess Durga, it is said that pilgrims can only reach there if they get a call from Mata Rani or the Goddess. Located in Katra, the trek to reach the shrine is an exciting one. Devotees reach there with great faith and the maximum crowd is witnessed between May and July. On an average, close to 18,000 pilgrims visit the temple per day. That is the amount of faith people have in Vaishno Devi.
Travellers can take a bus or train to Katra, a small town in Jammu so as to seek the blessings of the Goddess. Book a hotel in advance so that there is no inconvenience in accommodation.
2) Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer
An important destination for not just the Muslims but people from all religion, Dargah Sharif (also referred to as Ajmer Sharif) is the shrine of Moinuddin Chishti, the popular Sufi saint who is said to have spread Sufism in India. Such is the charisma of the place that even celebs from all around come here to seek blessings. It is a common culture in Bollywood to pay a visit here before the release of a movie.
The dargah is situated approximately 1 km from the railway station and 2.5 km from the bus stand. Hotels near Ajmer Sharif are easily available in different categories.
3) Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Basilica of Bom Jesus holds the tomb and the remains of St. Francis Xavier whose contribution towards spreading Christianity has been legendary in the eastern part of the globe. Basilica of Bom Jesus is an important place from religious point of view for the Catholics. However, that definitely doesn’t stop people across the world to witness the architectural beauty of this church. Its unique design that takes one to the times of the Renaissance and its existence as India’s first basilica makes it a big attraction in not just Goa but the whole country.
4) Golden Temple, Amritsar
The Lord Himself has stood up to resolve the affairs of the Saints; he has come to complete their tasks
Harminder Sahib, more commonly known as The Golden Temple, is known for its impeccable architecture that attracts tourists from all across the globe. Designed by Guru Arjan – the fifth Sikh Guru, Golden Temple has a structure inspired out of Hindu and Islamic style. It is a part of a huge complex that also comprises the Sikh Museum and Monument of Victory of Sikhs on Delhi. The water body that surrounds the temple is said to have healing powers and devotees tend to take a dip in it.
Due to the huge number of tourist arrival, there’s no dearth of hotels in Amritsar near Golden Temple in all categories. Don’t forget to visit the Jallianwala Bagh that holds high historical significance.
5) Sai Temple, Shirdi
Irrespective of caste, creed and religion, Sai Temple situated at Shirdi gathers crowd throughout the year. Years back, Sai Baba gained a lot of recognition among locals for his teachings and the miracles that he brought in the life of people. Referred to as a fakir during those times, Sai was a resident of Shirdi and the place has been a major pilgrimage since then. His believers come from all religions and different parts of the world. Estimated count of devotees per day goes as much as 20,000 per day. Go there to attain balance and peace of mind.
Shirdi has numerous attractions including temples dedicated to the lord and also a Sai Museum known as Dixit Wada Museum. It is easy to find hotels in Shirdi at affordable prices.
6) Dilwara Temple, Mount Abu
Take a glimpse into the origin of Jainism and the principles followed by the religion at The Dilwara Temples in Mount Abu. A group of five magnificent temples, these were constructed way back in the 11th century. The temples boast of the Mewar architecture that speaks for itself. Constructed out of white marble, the Dilwara temples are an important landmark for the Jains. People with an inclination towards history, art, photography and architecture are surely going to love this place.
Chai – The staple beverage of India. Land anywhere and you’ll find a steaming cup of tea, the aroma of the tea leaves simmering through. The roadside vendors to the high tea boutiques, all of them are found loaded with people in line for a rejuvenating tea session. India happens to be a lead in production of tea alongwith China. Tea in India is not just a drink, it is a means of survival. It is life. It is everything. The splendid tea estates of India are quite a garner for tourism.
The North-east and the southern part are one of the biggest sources of tea in India. Let’s take a look at some of the best tea plantations in India.
British were the first ones to truly understand the scope of the tea industry in India. Amidst the majestic hills and playful breeze lie the wonderfully laid out tea gardens in Assam. There are number of places to visit in Assam such as the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary, Kamakhya temple in Guwahati and ofcourse the tea gardens.
Where to go?
Dibrugarh and Jorhat, both the cities of this state are known for their tea estates. You may try any of the following:
- Banyan Grove, Jorhat
- Thengal Manor, Jorhat
- Burra Sahib Bungalow, Jorhat
- Mancotta Tea Estate, Dibrugarh
The best time to visit any of these is during May and June. You may also visit Jorhat in Novemeber when the tea festival takes place.
Next to Assam comes the beautiful hill station of Darjeeling. A part of the state of West Bengal, Darjeeling is an apt place for nature lovers and honeymoon couples. The serene surroundings and pleasant climate are sure to take you to a different world.
Where to go?
Darjeeling produces close to one-fourth of the total tea production in India. Following are the tea estates to pay a visit to:
- Happy Valley Tea Estate
- Glenburn Tea Estate
- Selim Hill Tea Estate
- Makai Bari Tea Estate
Try not to make a trip during the monsoons. The best time to visit these estates is between March and November. Apart from this, there are a number of places to visit in Darjeeling such as Ghoom Monastery, Mahakal Temple, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, etc.
Apart from the hills in the north, it’s the spectacular south that attracts the tea lover. Savour a cup of tea with your beloved in the Niligiris situated in the state of Tamil Nadu. Take a walk with your partner in the lush green tea cultivations and don’t forget to get talking to the tea planters, they have a host of stories to tell.
Where to go?
Few tea estates to try out in Coonoor include:
- United Nilgiri Tea Estates
- Highfield Tea Factory
The winter season is the best time to visit this wonderland of tea cultivation.
Yet another hill station that is known for its scintillating tea gardens is Munnar. The biggies of the tea industry, Tata Tea find their footprints here. A visit to the nation’s Tea Museum will get you close to the town’s association with this magical drink.
Where to go?
The place owns more than 50 tea estates, the key ones being the following:
- Harrisson Malayalam
- AVT Tea
- Brooke Bond
- Sevenmallay Tea Estate
Now what are you waiting for? This weekend, let’s go off to the tea gardens because where there’s tea, there’s hope!
They fall with high velocity from rocky terrains, produce roaring yet charming sounds, sprinkle their droplets all around and create a picturesque image to capture the attention of millions of globetrotters. They are none other than the lively vivacious and majestic waterfalls of India spread across the country’s vast landscape.
Their numbers are uncountable and cannot be listed in one go. Therefore, we have mentioned the five most beautiful waterfalls in India below
- Dudhsagar Falls
Goa is way beyond pristine beaches and salubrious climate. One of the most impressive natural wonders, Dudhsagar Waterfalls (Sea of Milk) is located in Goa. Water gushes from around 1020 ft in changing shades of blue and white to form a stream below. Bordered by thick green jungle and Western Ghats, it is recorded as one of the most beautiful and largest waterfalls in India. Dudhsagar lies around 60km away from Panaji.
How to reach: Either trek from Kuveshi village or take a 4×4 vehicle to Dudhsagar taxi stand and walk a kilometer to the falls
Where to stay: Dudhsagar Spa Resort is an excellent accommodation option located nearby. Apart from this, travellers can choose from a variety of hotels in Goa.
- Nohsngithiang Falls
With seven streams falling from same source, this falls is a pride of Meghalaya. Water plunges from the peak of limestone cliffs of Khasi Hills and create a unique aspect of nature. In monsoons, the segments stretch further along the cliff and water comes to full flow. Catch the glimpse of glaring colors of sun nixing with the white shade of waters during sunrise and sunset.
How to reach: Nearest airport and railway station is at Guwahati. Hire a cab and drive through NH 40 to reach the falls.
Where to stay: Guest houses, resorts, cottages and homestays are available for accommodation in Cherrapunji. Polo Orchid Resort happens to be one of them.
- Athirappilly Falls
This is none other than India’s very own Niagara. Its height may be small measuring merely 24 metres, but its extraordinary width is a must watch. Nestled in Arthirappilly panchayath in Thrissur, Kerela, the fall lures locals and travellers alike. While it is fed by Chalakudy River, the abundant surrounding greenery adds touch to its existing beauty. During monsoon, the sight of the falls result in an forgettable experience
How to reach: Hire a vehicle from Kochi or Chalakudy to reach the falls. Trek for around 5 minutes to reach its peak.
Where to stay: Bethania Resort and The River Retreat Hearitage Ayurved happen to be great options when it comes to booking hotels in Athirappilly.
- Shivanasundaram Falls
The small island town of Shivanasundaram in Karnataka is the home to beautiful twin waterfalls. Shivanasundaram Falls on Kaveri River with twin jumps is best viewed from the Shivanasamudra watch tower. Water gushes from approximately 98 metres high with strong current. Considered to be the 16th largest waterfall in the world, Shivanasundaram Falls offer a spectacular view of the foaming spray of water making it a paradise for visitors.
How to reach: Take a drive via Bangalore Mysore highway.
Where to stay: Apart from government guesthouse, there are plenty of luxury and budget hotels and resorts available at the vicinity of the falls.
- Bhagsu Falls
Hitting wet hilly terrains and cascading along forest covered pathways, Bhagsu Falls in McLeod Ganj splash to produce a heavenly facet of nature. Its close proximity to Bhagsunath Temple and the availability of nearby restaurants increased its popularity amongst tourists. Either drive or trek to catch a glimpse of this natural marvel.
How to reach: Hire a local taxi from McLeodganj or trek to reach the falls.
Where to stay: There’s no dearth of hotels near Bhagsu Falls, Hotel City Heart and Nishaad Resort being the best of them.
A trip to these top 5 waterfalls in India will bring forth the most glaring look of nature and paint a picture worth framing in your mind forever.
Why do we always talk about sea, mountains, forests and historical monuments while discussing about holidaying in India? We often forget there are many other unique natural and man made creations that are deeply attached with India’s history and natural beauty. One such component is caves- those gigantic towering and hanging structures that open up to narrow dark pathways and sometime give goosebumps when you stroll through them. Caves in India are deeply connected to the country’s history, culture, mystery and spirituality, where inscriptions, pillars and wall paintings tell the tales of the region.
- Ajanta and Ellora, Aurangabad
It’s the first name the strikes our mind while planning for a caving expedition in India. Carved into hillside rocks in northern Maharashtra, these caves are marvellous pieces of rock cut architecture that portray paintings and sculptures of religious Indian art. 29 caves of Ajanta and 34 caves of Ellora date back to 2nd century BC and 6th century AD and 6th and 11th centuries AD respectively.
- Elephanta Island, Mumbai
A boat trip from Gateway of India takes you to Elephanta Island that houses seven rock-cut caves of 6th and 7th centuries A.D. The main cave with impressive sculptured panels depicting Lord Shiva in different forms is the prime attraction here.
- Badami, Bagalkot
It is known for being the abode to several beautifully laid out cave temples. The four caves of Badami dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Jain religion respectively casts a spell amongst visitors with their magnificent outlook. Its scenic setting adds more fun to your trip. So give a try.
- Udayagiri and Khandagiri, Bhubaneshwar
On the outskirts of Bhubaneshwar, Udaygiri and Khandagiri stands as a collection of many ornately carved caves believed to be occupied by Jain philosophers in the past. Udayagiri (Hill of Sunrise) and Khandagiri (Broken Hills) occupy a distinct position in India’s history of rock-cut art, architecture and religion.
- The Many Caves of Meghalaya
The state is blessed with numerous caves spotted all over its landscape. Mawsmai Cave, Tangnub Monkey Cave, Siju Cave and many others soread over Khasi, Jaintia and Garo hills are awe- inspiring sites to watch and admire. Watch out for these caves during sunrise or sunset when they turn out to be extraordinarily beautiful.
- Undavalli and Mogalarajapuram Caves, Vijaywada
The well preserved Undavalli cave temples of 7th century are ideal place if you are looking for unmatched tranquility. Shrines of Brahma, Vishu and Maheshwar cast the power and vibrancy of Hinduism all around. Here again, Mogalarajapuram caves may be in ruins, but still deserves a visit for its interesting architecture.
- Trichy Rock Fort Temple and Pallava Caves
Constructed by Nayaks of Madurai ages ago, Rock Fort Temple of Trichy forms a major attraction with its carved sculptures. Built almost 237 feet above on a rocky outcrop, they provide awesome views of the surrounding. Be there during sunset to get the best snapshot.
- Dungeshwari Cave Temples, Bihar
It is believed that Lord Buddha has spent many years of his life here meditating before going to Bodhgaya. It today houses some artistically structured Buddhist temples that attract a lot of Busshist followers. Be here to experience spiritualism, peace and serenity.
- Shiv Khori Caves, Jammu
This kilometre long cave is known for the natural formation of Shiva lingam. Born out of stalagmite, the lingam attracts devotees from all parts of India to this spectacular cave shrine. Ransoo, in the Swalik Hills is known for being the home to Shiv Khori caves.
- Tabo, Spiti
Dotted with many vibrant caves, it is here where one can find spirituality and serenity. Local Buddhist lamas consider theses caves to be their favourite meditation spots. Again, their adjoining mountains will definitely take you to a state of trance.
If caving is what attracts you and you want to feel those goosebumps, tour along these caves of India and soak in their abundance natural and historical beauty.
From north to down south and crisscrossing western and eastern borders, India is a treasure trove of immaculate natural and man- made wonders. However there are many other things to explore in Indian soil and many ways to soothe tiring nerves and restless minds. India’s fertile soil, vivid flora, eco- friendly resorts and abundant herbs, spices and natural products act as healing balms and wellness measures for millions of globetrotters. With time natural healing and rejuvenating therapies in India have captured the attention of all globetrotters.
From the Himalayas and Ganges to impregnable forests and sea shores, Indian wellness retreats are outshining in natural healing therapies. Wellness tours in India in the below stated destinations bring the joy of experiencing Ayurvedic massage and yoga and meditation training:
Hours of learning yoga and meditation and seeking spirituality by the side of Ganges help you find joy, solace and inner peace. International tourists love to explore Rishikesh’s fusion of yoga and meditation that takes them miles away from the mess of city life. Ananda in the Himalayas, Rishikesh is the best rated wellness retreat in India. Its scenic setting on the foothills of Himalayas is ideal to revitalize with Ayurvedic massage and traditional form of yoga. Application of Ayurvedic massage oils boosts blood circulation and eradicates pain. Sattva Spa & Wellness Retreat and AnandLok are two other popular wellness retreats in Rishikesh.
Bbeyond breathtaking beaches, Kovalam is also a paradise of wellness tourism in India. Abundant medicinal plants, herbal oil and natural powders along with Ayurvedic massages and spa are best means to re-energize yourself. Somatheeram Ayurvedic Health Resort, Ideal Ayurvedic Resort, Shin Shiva Ayurvedic Resort and Niraamaya – Surya Samudra are some of those favoured wellness retreats that offer authentic Ayurveda and yoga therapies with local natural extracts. They help in detoxifying stress and eradicating insomnia and bringing in relaxation.
Yoga based treatments and meditation coupled with herbal spa and body massage can be best experienced in Bangalore’s Ayurvedagram and Shreyas Yoga Retreat. Set amidst acres of green gardens, these resorts are blessed with peaceful environment and the best of wellness regimes and beauty treatments. Various forms of yoga when coupled with Ayurvedic medicinal treatments and experienced in eco- friendly environment, bring with them the desired freshness and eradicate diseases like obesity, diabetes and depression.
It is where you can experience holistic wellness, Ayurvedic treatments, natural therapies and yoga and meditation classes. Amidst lush greenery in a secluded locale and nearby Goa’s pristine beaches, Yoga Magic Eco Retreat, Little Cove Yoga Holiday Retreat and The Mandala attract globetrotters to their world of natural medication and traditional care. Experienced yoga trainers, Ayurvedic medicines, natural beauty therapies and spa in these eco- friendly retreats make your Goa vacation healthy and rejuvenating.
This forested locality of Kerala take your senses on a soothing journey and pamper you with best natural treatments. Fragrance of fresh hill air, pleasant wet soil and freshly grown flowers, leaves and herbs is a tonic for the body and soul. Niraamaya- Cardamom Club is a popular name in Thekkady’s wellness resorts that offers a holistic treatment with Ayurveda therapies, massages, spa and counselling on lifestyle and dietary guidelines. Usage of herbal medicinal oil and experienced hand movements are apt to cure ailments and provide holistic rejuvenation.
On your next India tour, treat yourself with a complete wellness package offered by these widely spread out nature- friendly retreats. Their tranquil environment with the best naturally produced oil massages and yoga treatments give you a better life and enrich with a better way of living.