Narkanda and Offbeat Places Around

Narkanda owes its initial importance to the construction of the Hindustan Tibet Road. Originally styled ‘The Great Hindustan Tibet Road’, this road connected the Gangetic plains from the town of Kalka to the Tibetan border. It was Governor-General of India, Lord Dalhousie (1848-1856) who ordered work to begin on this in June 1850. Various reasons are cited for the initiation of the road. The system of ‘begari’ prevalent in the hills, where unpaid laborers were pressed into service – including for the transport of timber and files to Shimla – is said to have upset the Governor-General so deeply that he wanted to improve the track these men trudged. It is also believed that Lord Dalhousie wanted to create trade ties with Tibet – and this felt to be the real reason for building the road.



Narkanda was an important staging post on this road and was the highest point between Shimla and the valley of the river Satluj. From this point on, till it began rising again for the final leg, the road was largely downhill.  The second impetus of growth came in the first half of the twentieth century, when apple product began in Kotgarh-Thanedar belt a few kilometers from Narkanda.

The peak of Hatu (Hattu), above Narkanda, is amongst the highest in the mid-Himalaya. These heights mark the line before the hillside moves down to the valley of the Satluj River. The peak can be accessed by a narrow motorable road from Narkanda which is functional during the summer months. Alternatively, there is an 8 kilometer hike trail that passes through dense woods of cedar, spruce and oak; if you are a good walker, this is a far better option as it will unfold vistas that remain screened by windshields. The view from Hatu is absolutely breath taking. Below lies the river valley and the hillside that reaches down, is covered with thick forests, little villages, apple orchards and terraced fields. Across, is the magnificent spread of the greater Himalaya with a permanent cover of snow; the Kinner Kaillash (one of the legendary abodes of Lord Shiva), the Shrikhand and the Kullu ranges are all clearly visible from here. The temple of Hateshwari Mata of Hatu Peak is dedicated to a local embodiment of Devi Durga.

Hatu Peak

Hatu Peak

From Narkanda one can visit Thanedar and Kotgarh. Harmony Hall at Thanedar, is not exactly what one would expect to find in a little village in the Himalaya, howsoever prosperous. It stands on top of a hill, surrounded by apple orchards. It is an unusual piece of architecture that draws from the local style of interlocking horizontal wooden beams packed with dressed stone, and is combined with elements of the ‘western’ architectural experience – high chimney-stacks and large windows. It also speaks worlds for Satyanand Stokes, the man who built it – a man who came from an entirely different background and made this house in what was then a ‘back-of-the-beyond’ in the hills. Stokes left an indelible mark on the lives of the people with whome he lived. The contiguous settlements of Thanedar and Kotgarh form the core of Himachal’s apple – growing heartland. This pocket of charming mountain countryside is also reputed to have amongst the highest per capita incomes in South-east Asia. And all this prosperity is due to stokes, who introduced the American varieties of apple in the area and modern systems of marketing and packing. Apples apart, soon after the repressive Rowlatt Acts were passed in 1919, stokes became an active associate of Mahatma Gandi and was even jailed for his role in India’s struggle for freedom.

The collection of some half a dozen large and small villages that lie below Thanedar – and named after the main hamlet – give the name to the area below, ‘The Kotgarh Valley.’

The setting of Kotgarh predates stokes and this was a tract where many fled to escape from local oppressors. Then some two centuries ago, during the ‘Gurkha Wars’ that the British first came to this area. The little wooden church of St. Mary at Kotgarh predates the apples. A school was established here in 1843 and the church built in 1872; this was run by the Moravian missionaries and the Church Missionary Society. While this may be what more recent times have given the area, apart from the forests and magnificent views that hold the deep valley and the snow-ranges, nature has given Kotgarh a small lake, Tani Jubbar and by its side is a small temple built of wood and slate. This is the site of a local fair held at the end of May.

Kotgarh Valley

Kotgarh Valley

Substantially populated by Brahmins, the village of Nirmand lies across the valley of the river Satluj and is the largest village in Himachal. The word ‘Nirmand’ is regarded as a derivative of ‘Nir – mund’, or without a head and is closely connected with the legend of Parshrama, who is regarded as the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu – and is the one just before Ram. Parshurama was one of the ten sons of the sage Jamadgani and his wife Renuka. One day the sage was beset with doubts about his wife’s fidelity and commanded Parshurama to kill her. Nirmand has also been a major centre of the ‘bhunda’, human sacrifices as it once existed in the hills.

From the banks of the Satluj, the road to Nirmand rises in zigzag snips. The first section is through bare rock and scraggy bushes. These weaves of tarmac hold the training camp of one the few mountain batteries that still uses pack animals. One of the oldest records from the hills of Himachal comes in the shape of what is called the ‘Nirmand Copper Plate’. This plate records a land grant dated to the seventh century.

Narrow streets wind their way through the few acres that form the core of this village that may well have been inhabited for a millennium and a half. The path to the Kothi of Parshurama slices through the heart of the village. En route lies the sacred ‘Latta Baoli’ whee clear spring water gushes into a small tank. Then is the tiny – but remarkably elegant – temple of Shiva that is barely the height of a child but has perfectly classical proportions. The temple of Parshurama has a pent-roof and age-old lines of wood and intricate carvings make its façade. Here lies the mythical axes of Parshurama and several other items of dress and armour that are attributed to him – and are only take out their cave at the time of a bhunda – which is still held as ritual every few years.

Important Towns & City of Kashmir

Srinagar is the capital city of the valley. Important towns on national highway and other locations are:

Pampore: - Lat. 340.1’ Longitude 740.58’
Pampore, was founded in the first quarter of the 9th century by King Padmadutt. Due to its central location in the valley the city grew in importance and is frequently mentioned in Rajatarangini.

Presently the town en-route National Highway is situated on the right bank of river Jhelum, about 10 kms in the south-east direction from Srinagar. Pampore, a tehsil headquarter of Pulwama district, is a sub – urban area which is growing fast as an industrial centre. Government joinery mills, Bharat Petroleum Gas Terminal, Steel Authority of India and Silk Research Centre are the trading centers. Jamia Masjid and the shrine of Shah-i-Hamdan (RA) and Shoka Baba (RA) are most famous. The pampore karewa in its southern side is called the Sona Krund (Golden Basket) Wudar, and is devoted to saffron cultivation. Saffron a cash crop fetches a very good price in both local and international market. 10gms of high quality saffron coasts between Rs.2000-3000.

Vigne has observed that the long ridges of limestone strata in the neighborhood of Pampore are very remarkable.

Pampore is nowadays a trading centre with a good market. It is also famous for its brick kilns on the opposite side of river Jhelum. The limestone deposits in Khrew area of Pampore are famous as they provide the raw material to all the cement factories confined to this area.



Awantipora: Lat. 33.055’ Long = 750.3’
Awantipora town en-route Srinagar – Jammu National Highway, occupies the famous site of one ancient capitals of Kashmir. It lies on  the right bank of river Jhelum at the foot of Wusturnan hills and is midway between Anantnag, Pulwama and Srinagar district. Tral, a tehsil headquarter, lies at a distance of 10 kms from Awantipora, towards its east. It is about thirty kilometers from Srinagar city.

Awantipora, as the ancient capital was founded by the famous king Awanti Verma, who reigned from 854 A.D. to 888 A.D. The only traces that remain of its former greatness are the two temples. Both were dedicated to Mahadeva, under the title of Awanti-Swami, and Awantiswara. These two temples are situated on the bank of the river one at Awantipora and other near the village Javbior. They are now shapeless masses of ruins, but the gateways of both are standing. They are commonly referred as “Pandow Larey” i.e. the houses of Pandvas. Awantipora was a flourishing city upto 12th century A.D., when it was destroyed and burnt down by Damars (Feudal Hindu Tribe).

Nowadays, Awantipora a tehsil headquarter of Pulwama district is developing fastly as a trade centre. It is a growing knowledge centre, as Islamic University of Science and Technology has been established here.  It is the base for Army Airport; it is also famous for the shrine of Syed Mantaqi (RA), Jamia Masjid and the Gurudwara, all the three lie on the highway side.

Bijbhera or Vij – Beara: Lat. 330.47’, Long. 750.9’
Bijbhera or Vijbeara is said to have been founded by King Vijaya (69-61B.C.). Bijbhera, a tehsil headquarter of Islamabad (Anantnag) district is connected to Srinagar, Islamabad, Pahalgam and Shopian by road. This ancient town of considerable importance is developed on both the sides of River Jhelum which are connected by two concrete bridges.

Bijbhera is famous for its various gardens especially the “Padshai Bagh”, which was laid by Dara Shikoh. The garden regained its past glory during the reign of Mufti Mohammad Syed, when enough funds were spent for its maintenance.  Bijbhera is developing as a trading centre for fresh fruit especially the apples. There are various shrines and the shrine of Baba Nasir-ud-Din ‘Gazi)’ (RA) is the largest and most famous. It is situated on the left bank of Vyeth, near the Jamia-Masjid. The temple  on the left side or river Jhelum and the newly constructed Gurudwara by Sikh Community both on National Highway are the pilgrimage sites.

anantnag railway line

anantnag railway line

Islamabad (Anantnag) – Latitude 330.44’, longitude 750.12’
Islamabad (Anantnag) after Srinagar is the largest town in the valley of Kashmir. It is district headquarter. Its ancient name was Anyech. It is called Islamabad by Muslims while Hindus refer it as Anat Nag. Islamabad is situated about one and half kilometers from the right bank of river Jhelum, near the confluence of the aripat. It lies under the western side of an elevated karewa, upon the edge of which is a conical hill overlooking the town. From its foot flows the fountain of Anat Nag. Another spring Malkh Nag is impregnated with sulphur. The famous shrine of Rishi Malu (RA) is in the centre of the town. Anantnag is famous for its gardens and springs. It is a market town and a trading centre. It is a home of traders, businessmen and artisans especially handicrafts.

Anantnag is the knowledge hub of South Kashmir. Various professional and degree colleges and technical institutions are established here. The K.P. Road (Khanabal – Pahalgam Road) has developed as a new and modern market in the field of economy, education and health sector. The south campus of the University of Kashmir is located h ere. Two gardens i.e. Wazir Bagh and Sherbagh are developing as recreation grounds. During Auranzeb’s rules, Islam Khan (1664 – 65 A.D.) the Governor of Kashmir laid out a garden for the Mughal Emperor, who named the place after the governor as Islamabad.

Qazigund, an important town en-route Srinagar – Jammu National Highway is located at a distance of 30 Kms from Anantnag. It lies at the foot of Pir Panjal Mountains close to Banihal Pass. It is a stop over for passengers traveling from either Jammu or Srinagar. It is often referred as the Gateway of Kashmir. It has developed as a food market for passengers. The railways in Kashmir are operating from Qazigund to Baramulla on the flood plain area. A tourist cafeteria, tea stalls and Dabas providing eatables are always ready to serve the passengers.



Kulgam – Latitude 330.45’ and Longitude 740.14’
Kulgam, now a district headquarters carved out of Islamabad district, in 2006 A.D. is at a distance of 70 kms from Srinagar and 17 kms from Islamabad. It is picturesquely situated on the Southern side of table land overlooking the left bank of the Vishav, whose bed is spread out here and divided into several channels.

Kulgam is famous for its streams. Two famous shrines i.e. Syed Hussain Simnani and Shah Hamdan are located here which attract a good number of devotees to offer prayers. One Degree college and an ITI cenre are located here to cater the needs of students. It is an important business centre and is famous for apple production. A fruit mandi has been established here for the benefit of fruit growers of the locality. A modern fruit mandi caters to the needs of local merchandise especially the apple and walnuts.

Nature has gifted the Kulgam area with favorable agro-climatic conditions, suited for agriculture in its lower belts and fruit culture in the upper belt. On account of fertile soil and rich productivity, it is considered as the “Rice B owl” of Kashmir. Livestock and sheep rearing is a subsidiary occupation of the area.

Shopian – Latitude 330.44; and Longitude 740.53’
The beautiful tow of Shopian is on the south-western side of the valley in close proximity of Pir Panjal mountain range. It is situated on the right bank of famous Rambiara, a wide but a shallow stream. It lies at a distance of 51 kms from Srinagar and 20 kms from PUlwama. It is a picturesque town, with a very good economy. It is a famous production centre for famous Kashmiri apples, which fetch a very good price in both local and international markets. Shopian is known for its indigenous “Ambri” apple which is famous due to its flavor and taste.

The Shopian market is famous for its quality products and goods. The Jamia Masjid of Shopian is famous for its architectural design which resembles the Jamia Masjid of Srinagar. Due to re-opening of Mughal road, Shopian again excels as a trading centre and a connecting ling between Kashmir and Jammu division of the J&K State, as the route is all weather road.

Shopian Apple Orchards

Shopian Apple Orchards

According to Drew, Shopian is the distortion of “Shah Payan” i.e. Royal story. Shopian has been an ancient town of Kashmir, since it is situated on the famous Mughal road.

Pattan a famous town, enroute Srinagar – Muzaffarabad National Highway is about 27 miles from Srinagar city towards north-western side. It is located at the base of a table land. The ancient name of the town was Shankarapura. The ruins of two ancient temples are still standing here. Pattan is developing as a sub-urban area due to its location.

Sopore is the most rich and developed town of Kashmir valley in terms of its economy. Sopore, as a tehsil headquarter falls under the jurisdiction of Baramulla district which is about 25 kilometers from Sopore. Sopore is almost 55 kilomters from Srinagar towards north-western side. Sopore, as a progressive town, due to its apple production and trade and commerce surpasses the other areas of the valley except the capital city of Srinagar. The town is built upon both banks of river Jhelum a few kilometers below the spot where the river leaves the famous Wular Lake. Sopore was founded by Sura, a minister during the reign of Avanti Varma, and was called as Surapura. Sopore, has a very good connectivity of roads which lead to Srinagar, Baramulla, Bandipora, Kupwara, Gulmarg and Karnah etc. sopore, is developing fast as a modern trading and knowledge centre. Several professional institutions are established to provide technical education in both public and private sector. The market area is quite splendid and is doing a brisk business all round the year.

Baramulla is one of the three old districts (Anantnag, Srinagar & Baramulla) of the valley of Kashmir. It is situated at the mouth of the famous gorge by which river Jhelum leaves the valley of Kashmir. It is at a distance of 90 kms from Srinagar on the Srinagar – Muzaffarabad National Highway (Jhelum Valley Road).

baramulla railway

baramulla railway

Baramulla is often referred as Varmul. The town is inhabited by two religious communities i.e., Muslims and Sikhs respectively. The cantonment area lies to the west of the town. Before partition in 1947, Baramulla was the most important trading centre and an exit point for the Kashmiri trade and commerce.

Bandipora a newly created district is situated at an average height of 1701 metres from sea level. It was carved out of Baramulla district during 2006 A.D.

Bandipora since early times almost served as a port. It used to be one of the important places of the old Kingdom known as Khuaihom. During Mughal period, there were two main ports as the source of communication between Srinagar and the Central Asian states for commercial purposes. These ports were Aloosa (Ghat) and Nasoo (Bandipora). The route to Central Asia traversed through Aloosa and once Mughal emperors conferred the area of Khuaihom as “Jagir” to the family of Bandey’s in Srinagar since then the area has come to be known as Bandipora. Bandipora is also referred as the “Galaxy of Gilgit and Astor”. Bandipora is situated around the north shore of the Wular Lake, in front of the mountains. Wular Lake, the largest fresh water lake of Asia, is located here and is famous for fishing. The area is famous for Nadru, Singhara and Pachi (used for Kashmiri mat – wagu).

Ganderbal the famous town is flanked by district Baramulla in the west, Srinagar in the south, Bandipora in the north-west and Kargil in the east. It has a unique geographical location. The famous Nala Sind traverses through its centre, which is a store house for the finest form of sand, used for construction purposes. The Ganderbal power house, on the Srinagar Leh National Highway is one of the oldest power houses supplying electricity. The central university and the physical education college campus is the added attraction for Ganderbal.



Lying at a distance of 37 kms from Srinagar city is one of the famous towns of South Kashmir. Its original name was Panwargam, & district headquarters. It is famous as a production centre for milk and vegetables throughout the valley. The famous Mughal road leads through this town. The town is connected with Shopian, Anantnag, Srinagar and Budgam area. The army air port is very close to the town at Malangpora. The industrial site of Lassipora in the vicinity of Pulwama town in developing at a fast rate.

Lying in the lap of lofty mountains from three sides, the beautiful Tral valley is at a distance of 40 kms from Srinagar city and ten kms from Awantipora. The town is famous for its shrine of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, the famous saint who was instrumental in the propagation of Islam in the valley. The shrine is located in the heart of town. Tral is very famous as a production centre for Almonds and Honey. Beautiful tourist locations outside the town are Shikargah (3 kms from Tral) and Nagaberi (20 kms).

Budgam owes its name to its dense population, i.e. Bud = Big, Gam = Village. It is now a district headquarters, which was carved out of Srinagar district in 1980 A.D. The famous Chinese traveler, Hiuen Tsang, followed this route to reach Poonch. Old records refer to the area as “Pargana Deesu”. It is the home of one of the noble Shia family called Aga. The village Kanihama, of Budgam, the home of famous Kani Shawl was an important trade centre during Dogra rule.

It is one of the most famous towns of Kashmir valley, which lies at a distance of 29 kms from Srinagar city. It lies on the north-west side of the valley. The town is built on one of the many bare sandy ridges by which the Pir Panjal range subsides into the level of the valley; these ridges are usually more or less flattened at the top, but have steep and almost perpendicular sides, which are here and there furrowed with rain channels. The town is built somewhat in the form of letter. The place is very famous for its shrine of Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Rishi, popularly known as Alamdar-e-Kashmir. Sheikh is one of the tallest saints and the founder of the Rishi order in Kashmir.

Uri, a border town, is at a distance of 101 kms from Srinagar and 46 kms from Baramulla and is situated on the banks of river Jhelum. It was an important station on the Jhelum valley road before partition. With the opening of the said road, the place is gaining importance as a check and entry point for the merchandise coming in from Azad Kashmir and going out from Indian Kashmir. The river Jhelum flows along its northern side, resulting tumultuously through a deep and rocky gorge.

Uri Kashmir

Uri Kashmir

Uri is a tehsil headquarter of Baramulla district. The road from Uri leads to Poonch via Haji Pir Pass. Uri is strategically an important location, since it is very close o the LOC (line of control) between India and Pakistan. Pahari and Gojri are the common languages.

Uri is famous for its Uri Hydro Electric Project, which as a capacity of 480 MW. The project is situated on the river Jhelum along Jhelum valley road. It is spread over a distance of 20 kms. The project was constructed by NHPC with Swedish collaboration. It utilizes a drop of 257 metres in a river length of 16 kms to generate 480 MW of power with a discharge of 8000 cusecs. Head race tunnel which is 10 kms long is the biggest component of the project. It leaves the river at Boniyar and reaches Lagama, the site of underground power house with a capital cost of Rs.240 crores (221 crores for main project, 16 crores for transmission system upto pooling point in the Northern Grid). Uri project is one of the biggest power projects construed in the Kashmir valley so far.

Aishmuqam is a famous town is located at the foot of a hill enroute Islamabad – Pahalgam road. It is at a distance of 70 kms from Srinagar and 20 kms from Islamabad.

The town is famous for its cave and shrine of famous saint Zain-ul-Abidin Wali, on the left side of Lidder River. To reach the shrine one has to climb a flight of steps. From the top of the shrine, one can watch a magnificent view of famous Lidder valley.

Places to Visit in Gujarat

Gujarat offers all that a national or an international tourists looks for – a wide range of destinations beautifully enlisted in this post, strong logistic connectivity, excellent communication facilities, adequate health infrastructure, round the clock power supply even in the remotest area, safety and security and above all the hospitable nature of the local people.

Gujarat Tourism

Gujarat Tourism

The variety of landscape that Gujarat is bestowed with is a complete package in itself. This is a place where you have the white desert and also the longest coastline, the archeological destinations and the Asiatic lions, the Buddhist relics and the remains of ancient civilization. Gujarat also has many beaches, hillocks, forest lands and ecotourist spots hiteherto unexplored. Such destinations have their own charm for a special class of tourists who have a passion for less explored places.

The Gujarati delicacies have been an all time favourite for the visitors coming from various parts of the globe. A wide range of handicrafts and traditional wears and the tribal and folk art forms have always charmed the international spectators in various events abroad as well as the visitors to Gujarat. The Navratri and kite-flying festivals (Patangotsav) are global events wherein every citizen of the state participates with fervor and delight.

Gujarat also has India’s first Marine National Park in the Gulf of Kutch with fine coral reefs and a rich marine life, and its coastal waters are believed to be among the most important breeding areas for the Whale Shark and the Dugong in South Asia. Five bird sanctuaries ratify Gujarat’s position as one of the most prolific bird watching areas in all of Asia.

Wherever you go in Gujarat, the thrill, the zeal and the enchantment makes this land a place where one craves to come but denies to depart.

Tourism in Gujarat

Somnath - Enlighten your being
Explore one of the twelve Jyotrilinga shrines of Gov Shiva where you soul gets elevated with the chanting of prayers and the roaring of the waves. This ancient temple is believed to have been ingeniously built in 4 phases – first in gold by Lord Soma, in silver by Ravi, in wood by Lord Krishna and in stone by King Bhimdev.

somnath temple

somnath temple

Modhera - Bathe in sacred sunshine
Intricately carved and articulately designed this historic Sun temple is dedicated to the Hindu Sun-God Surya. What is remarkable is that at dawn during the equinoxes the sun’s rays illuminate the sanctum sanctorum.

Pavagadh - Visit the picturesque pilgrimage place
Pavagadh is one of the biggest tourist and pilgrimage place in the state of Gujarat. Located at a distance of 55 kms from the city of Vadodara, the entire area is manly forest land and very picturesque. There are also many sacred sites which attract millions every year. Maa Mahakalika Temple, Machi Haveli, Temple of Kali and Sadanshah Phir Dargah are sites worth visiting.

Laxmi Vilas Palace - Live the bygone era
Visit the extravagant Maharaja Palace which is four times the size of the Buckingham Palace and was built by Maharaj Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1890. Within this royal palace, one can view a remarkable collection of old armory and spectacular sculptures in bronze, marble and terracotta by Fellici.

Embrace the environs
Encounter nature in all its untamed beauty and glory. The lush green Gir forest abounds with a variety of beautiful flora and fauna which will keep you fascinated and delighted. Be it the mighty lions or the colourful birds, the Gir forest promises to be full of excitement and adventure.

gujarat kite festival

gujarat kite festival

Kite Festival - Unlimited Fun
While Uttarayan is celebrated throughout Gujarat, Ahmadabad is especially famous for the kite festival. Thousands of people flock to their rooftops and fill the sky with colourful kites to celebrates the end of winter.

Rann Uttsav - Desert Kaleidoscope
When the desert is no longer hot and the nights are freezing the region comes alive with the staging of Ram Utsav. It takes you back in centuries to a kaleidoscope of desert culture and heritage. Colorful Kutchi folk dances, stories and songs unfold a fascinating cocktail of tradition. Rann Utsav starts on the full moon night of December every year.

Saputara  - Escape to paradise
Explore Saputara, the ‘Abode of Serpents’. This wonderful hill station located on a plateau of the Dang forest is part of the Sahyadri Mountain Range. It is a quaint hill station at an altitude of about 1000m an ideal getaway for the sun-scorched souls of the plains. Places to visit around Saputara: Vansda National Park, Purna Sanctuary, Boating, Sunrise Point, Ropeway, Gira Falls, Girma Falls, Shabari Temple.

Saputara Monsoon  - Magical Raindrops
Green Saputara hills gets fresher with more green foliage and breathtaking views during the monsoon seasn. Flowers and plants look more beautiful with the raindrops and the whole valley comes alive like a bedecked bride. This is probably the most romantic season to visit the Saputara hills. There is something of everyone at Saputara. Romantic walks. Exhilarating ropeway trips, leisurely shopping, adventurous trekking and water sports.

Saputara Paragliding Festival - Sky high Thrills
Saputara is the location for Paragliding Event keenly awaited by flyers and tourists. Paragliding offers great thrills to the participants and spectators alike. Saputara’s picturesque slopes and scalable peaks offer an apt setting to the event. Amateurs participate alongside professionals in this popular event. During the weeklong event, in addition to paragliding, para lane, para sailing, water sorts and artificial climbing are also organized to give a wholesome entertainment experience to visitors.



Ambaji - Get blessed by Goddess of power and prosperity
Situated on the summit of Gabber Hill, near the Vedic, virgin Saraswati River on the hills of the Arasur forest is the legendary holy Ambaji temple. A holy lamp is constantly burning in this hill temple facing Visa Shree Yantra of Nij Mandir of Mata Shri Arasuri Ambica.

Palitana - Converse with the gods
Built as an abode for the Gods this miraculous temple city is located at the pinnacle of Shatrunjaya hills with 3,800 steps to reach. The importance of this blessed region is reflected in the fact that there are cluster of 1,300 Jain temples and more than 27,000 idols of Jain Gods on this mountain alone. It is considered the most sacred pilgrimage place by the Jain community where pilgrims ascend to the heavens, seeking their path to enlightenment. Exquisitely carved in marble is the main temple on top of the hill, which is dedicated to 1st Tirthankar Lord Adinath.

Chapaner - Journey back in time
Located at the foothills of Pavagadh, Champaner is the only world heritage site of Gujarat. The main attraction is the ancient fort of Champaner which is surrounded by lower hillocks, escarpments and plateau, all resulting from volcanic eruptions and flowing lava. The entire landscape for miles around is scattered with pastoral surroundings of fort walls, tombs, gardesn, arches, pillars and wells. What is more, Champaner has been inscripted by UNESCO as World Heritage in 2004. Major sites; Shehar ki Masjid, Jami Masjid, Kewada and Nagina Masjid.

Tarnetar Fair - Soulmate Quest
This three day fair commemorates Arjun’s arrival in Panchal to win the hand of the beautiful princes Draupadi. In this spirit the tribal youth of the area gather near the Trineteshwar Shiva Temple, otherwise known as Tarnetar, to identify a significant other. The main treat is the intricate, hand-embroidered parasols made and carried by the bachelors. The celebration includes non-stop dancing, music, craft and food.

Kutch - Experience the beauty of the desert
Witness the mesmerizing beauty of the silver sand desert on a moonlit night. Go for bird watching or get completely carried away with shopping for traditional Kutchi Embroideries, Jewelry, Bandhani (tie and die) Fabrics, Enameled Silverware and other Handicrafts. You will enjoy and experience all this and more at the Rann of Kutch.

Art Music and Dance of Orissa

Music & Dance

One of the most primitive aspects in art, music and dance are the art forms known to the mankind since time immemorial. Music and dance are deeply ingrained in any society universally. In Hindu mythology, the cosmic dance performance or the tandava nritya of Lord Shiva and the stories of Lord Krishna dancing with Radha and Gopis are popular myths. Like in any other part of India, Orissa has a glorious tradition of music and dance and has it own distinct school. Apart from the classical Odissi Dance, there are numerous folk dances usually performed during fairs, festivals and religious ceremonies.

Gita Govinda manuscript

Gita Govinda manuscript


The treatise of Bharata, a pioneer of music and dance in India refers to the musical tradition of Odra substantiated by archaeological finds from the times (1st century BC) of Chedi dynasty. The innumerable sculptures of musical instruments depicted on the walls of temples from 6th century AD to 13th century AD testify to the glorious tradition of music and its patronage by successive kingdom in Orissa. The classical Odissi Music owes much to the great Saint poet, Jayadeva, whose highly lyrical Geet Govind, composed in Sanskrit in the 12th century was ritually sung in many of these temples. By the 15th century instead of Sanskrit, Oriya language was being used for literary works and the poetry developed on the love theme of Radha and Krishna. The musical forms like chhanda, chautisa, champu, chaupadi, bhajan and janana had developed. The period between 16-19th century under the local patronage saw great composers of lyrical music based on raga (tune) and tala (beat). Treatises on music like-Sangitarnava, Chandrika, Gita Prakasha, Sangita Kalpalata, Sangita Sarani and Sangita Narayana were compiled.

In modern time some greatest exponents have significantly contributed to the development and modernization of Odissi music, prominent among them are Singhari Syamasundar Kar, Markandeya Mahapatra, Kasinath Pujapanda, Balakrushna Das, Gopal Chand Panda, Damodar Hota, Ramahari Das, Shyamamani Devi Sumati Devi, Sunanda Patnaik, Keshab, Sangeeta Gosain, Bijoy Jena and others.


Odissi Dance

Odissi is one of the six classical dance forms of India with a very distinct elegance and poise associated with its style. It finds mention in the Natya Shashtra of Bharata, as Odra-Magadhi style. Friezes in the caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri and the sculptures of female dancers found in large numbers in temples attest to the popularity of dances in courts and places of worship as far back as the 2nd century BC. It was an integral part of the religious rituals performed in the nata mandapas by the maharis or devadasis (temple dancers) in their elaborate costumes and jewellery.

odissi dance

odissi dance

The history of Odissi dance has a bearing with devadasis (wives of the God) of Lord Jagnnath. Devadasis were handed over by their parents at an early age and were symbolically married to presiding deity. Jayadev’s Geet Govind, dealing largely with the depths of Krishna’s love for Radha was part of the daily religious rituals, performed by devadasis with different bhavas and rasas. With the loss independence of the Orissa by the end of the 16th century, the mahari tradition declined. The Ray Ramananda, a dramatist and musician introduced the dance in another form, Gotipua Nacha, where males dressed as girlds danced outside the temple. Thus the tradition survived and it came out of the temple. Most of the earlier time gurus (masters) were Gotipua dancers. The 15th century manual, Abhinaya Chandrika, written by Maheswara Mahapatra contains information about the technique of Odissi dance and was also instrumental in reviving the old glory of Orissa’s own regional style along with temple sculptures. All the poses, steps and movements in Odissi dance have been codified and preserved by the Odissi Research Centre established by Government of Orissa at Bhubaneswar.

Beautifully attired in pleated silk brocades, bejeweled and decked in jasmine flowers and bells, the dancers perform to the recitation of devotional poetry set to music, most inspired form the theme of eternal love of Radha Krishna. The important parts of Odissi Dance are called padabhada, bumi, chari, biramani, bhangi and hasta (mudra) etc. the most typical pose is tribhanga (hip shot stance) where the body is bent thrice, the fundamental posture is chawki and the dance is divided into nritta (pure dance), nritya (expressional dance) and natya (drama). The different items of the Odissi dance style in the order in which they are performed are mangalacharana, batu nrutya, pallavi, abhinaya and mokshanat. In mangalacharana, the dancer dedicated herself to the Lord Ganesha or Lord Jagannath, begs forgiveness of the Mother Earth for stamping her feet upon her and of her audience for any shortcoming in the performance and offers salutations to the Guru. The batu nutya is pure dance, lying stress on poses symbolizing the playing of the veena, drum, flute or cymbals, without any recitation or song. The extremely graceful and lyrical is pallavi, the tune in some raga accompanied by sargam and bols. Through facial expressions, abhinaya, the performer depicts rasa and bhava to bring out the meaning and mood of the accompanying song either in Sanskrit or in Oriya. These romantic compositions are generally from the pieces of Geet Govind, the dasavatar item or the songs written by poets like Banamali, Upendera Bhanja, Baladeva Rath and Gopala etc. the concluding piece of performance, mokshanat has a fast tempo to the accompaniment of rhythmic patterns, which transports the dancer to moksha (merger with divine).

Performing Arts

Orissa has a rich tradition of folk plays – dance, drama and music in which the spiritual, philosophical and the humane dimensions have merged to reflect a life style.

A religious folk play, it is a popular form of devotional entertainment. The Ram Leela portrays the various incidents from the epic Ramayana. The dramatic rendering of dialogues by the performing artistes in dazzling costumes and heavy make-up backed by a group of chorus singers and orchestral music starts from the Ram Navami day and continues for 9 nights. The Ras Leela is a lyrical-musical enactment of the immortal love of Lord Krishna and his consort Radha. It revolves around different moods of love, such as anger, playfulness, expectation etc between the two.

Other popular form is Bharat Leela or Dwari Leela which draws its plot from the story of love and subsequent marriage of Arjuna – one of the five Pandavas with Subhadra. A typical play of Ganjam district, the Prahlad Natak, a play composed by Gopinath Parichha is presented a s a compendium of songs in praise of Lord Nrusingha and suppression of pride of demon king Hiranya Kashyap by a young devout Prahlad.

Jatra (Yatra)

It corresponds to folk theater where mythological, historical and social subjects are enacted. In fact, Jatra blossomed at the end of the 19th century as a development over Suanga. Performed in an open air theatre, Jatra succeeds to enliven the mass with a show of music, dance, acting, singing and the dramatic expression of emotions like love, anxiety, anger, and pathos. Recently social themes and popular legends have also been included, with rustic characters in dazzling costumes rendering dialogues in local dialects. The theatrical mannerism and the high sounding dialogues of perfomers and the accompanying thundering music usually a harmonium, clarinet, cymbals, table, dholki, bugle and mrudanga, all liven up the atmosphere.

A pioneer of this art, Baishnab Pani introduced duet dances and prose dialogues in this popular art of mass entertainment but the present day plays however seem to be deeply influenced by modern cinema.

Performing Daskathia

Performing Daskathia


A folk art performed by two men owes its name to the musical instrument by the same name. Daskathia is made of two wooden pieces, which when beaten with hands produce rhythmic sound. The singer like the Pala singer generally uses themes of religious intent from mythology, whereas his partner intermittently gives a rhythmic refrain of the words. The rhythmic narration is often interspersed with special sequences dramatized in dialogue form. Wit, humour and songs take the centre stage in this performance of a shorter duration than the Pala.

Tracking The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

A structure that defines Mumbai in a snapshot, the Victoria Terminus, rechristened the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is an incredible legacy chiseled in stone.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

The landmark Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus building stands tall and imposing in the heart of Mumbai, oblivious to the scores of people that traverse its hallways every day. The iconic railway station, steeped in history is quite-literally the nerve centre of the city, what with 30 lakh-odd commuters travelling through it on a daily basis. As the sea of people push, jostle and shove to make it into their designated local train within these old walls, it’s a scene juxtaposing the past and present perfectly.

Each dome, stained-glass window and turret of the CST has a tale to tell. The construction of this grand old structure began in 1878. Designed by renowned British architect F.W. Stevens, this Victorian Gothic structure, with its domes representing the Indian influence took a good ten years to build. The crowning glory of the CST is the central dome itself which also houses a heritage room. Many of the gargoyles and carvings were done by Lockwood Kipling, a professor from the Sir JJ School of Arts who incidentally was the father of the celebrated British-Indian author, Rudyard Kipling. Even as far back as the 19th century the construction of this mammoth structure cost a whopping 260,000 pounds.

What sets this building apart from many other heritage building is the fact that it’s still serving the same function – i.e. the headquarters of the Central Railway – since the time it was built. It’s little wonder then that the CST which is historically, architecturally and culturally so important made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004. Figuring on the prestigious UNESCO list has heightened the awareness to preserve such historical buildings and also commenced major restoration work.

Mumbai Chowpati

Mumbai Chowpati

The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee has done much work in this regard. “It’s our duty to safeguard these buildings that have been listed on UNESCO after a detailed survey. It’s the owner who is responsible for the maintenance of the buildings; in this case the Central Railway. However, if a certain building requires work, we send a notice to the concerned party,” say Mr. Afzulpurkar, Chairman of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee. All new structures around the site have to be in harmony with the existing heritage structure.

Undoubtedly, the CST is one of Mumbai’s landmark buildings but there are equally impressive buildings in the vicinity, a legacy left by the Raj, that have weathered the passage of time along with it. Right opposite the railway station is the Bombay Municipal Corporation Building, ornately embellished with gargoyles and carvings; another creation by F.W. Stevens. Adjacent to this structure is the building that houses Mumbai’s oldest daily, The Times of India. From heads of state of film stars, The Times of India building has played host to many luminaries over the decades.

hivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

hivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Within the radius of a few kilometers are many other masterpieces that make up the history of the city – The Gateway of India, The Taj Mahal Hotel, The Prince of Wales Museum (now known as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya) University Hall & Library, Rajabai Tower and the Asiatic Library to name a few.

Sadly, a number of historical buildings in Mumbai are in various states of disrepair. However, awareness is half the battle won and considerable efforts are being made to restore these works of art to their former glory. Over the decades, Mumbai has earned the moniker of the ‘city that never sleeps.’ But amidst all that buzz, lies a historical and architectural marvel that continues to fascinate all.

Things to Do

  • Enjoy the view of Mumbai’s beautiful coastline while walking down Marine Drive. The Chowpatty beach at the end of Marine Drive is famous for its street food like Pav Bhaji and Chaat.
  • Mumbai is the centre of the Hindi film industry, popularly known as Bollywood. One can visit Film City, the studio complex with prior permission. And if you’re lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of your favorite star!
  • An hour-long ferry ride from the Gateway of India will take you to Elephanta Cave. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these caves contain beautiful statues and carving of Hindu deities.

Tourist Attractions in West Bengal

Explore the land; its art, culture and history; and you will see for yourself why we don’t call it beautiful Bengal for nothing. Leaf on through the post to realize why the diversity puts West Bengal among.

Reaching The City of Joy
There are four entry points to India-Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, though most Western flights make a stop at either Delhi or Mumbai. One might land there, and avail of a connection domestic flight to Kolkata. With the new international terminal however, the city has revamped its international aviation infrastructure to receive flights from abroad too.

You can plan your travel yourself as well as depute you travel agent to do the same. Hotels in Kolkata are many, as you will find out in the following few pages.

Best Places to Visit


Kolkata City

Kolkata City

An electric mix of diverse tastes and preference, Kolkata is a truly cosmopolitan place. From the mansions of North Kolkata to high-rises of the South, and from the deep roots of western influence in the Central part of the City of Joy to the distinctly community based East, the nature of diversity is spread way too deep into the veins of the city. Today, it’s quite amazing to look back some three centuries ago, where wild animals used to strut about in the three villages of Sutanuti, Govindapur and Kalikata, part of the realm of one Sabarna Roy Chawdhury. What was one the temple of Chowringheenath, today is the busy heart of the City, Chowringhee. Myriad, isn’t it?

As we take you through Kolkata, we reveal a treasure trove for those who have an eye for great architecture. Along with this, a touch of the religio9us movement of yore. In the form of weekend detours in Air-Conditioned buses tracing the trail of Sri Ramkrishna and Swami Vivekananda; this includes trips to Belur Math, Dakshineshwar Kali Bari and Swamiji’s ancestral home, to name but a few. The orther trip introduces tourists to the architectural wonders of erstwhile Kolkata-Jorasanko Rajbari, Thakurbari, Gokul Mitra’s house, Kumartuli and its artisanville, Sovabajar Rajbari, Marble Palace and quite a few others. Embarking on these two trips, you are sure to experience the old-world charms of erstwhile Kolkata.


As you open your window, you find a view of a lifetime – her snow capped peak reddened with with the early morning rays of the Sun. behold the Kanchenjunga in her glory, a regal sight by itself. All of a sudden, you find your room engulfed in clouds and an abrupt shower sets the mood for you honeymoon. Welcome to Darjeeling, India’s best hill station, just 663km away from Kolkata at an altitude of 2134 meters above sea level. 5km away from Darjeeling, overlooking Ghoom lies the Batsia Loop, that will make you relive the golden, slow-moving but rambling life of yesteryears, as you travel through Darjeeling on the Toy Train.


Though Kalimpong, the city of monasteries, carries a rich heritage with her, she is equally zealous to preserve the present as well as her past glories. Heritage schools in Kalimpong are still national benchmarks in the field of education. The 12km stretch road from Ghoom station is a travelers’ delight. For instant the meeting point of the Teesta and the Rnagit. You’d miss mout on quite a lot if you din’t stop by this spot, popularly kown as “Lovers spot”. Other spots include the Morgan House, the Golf Course, the Deolo View Point, Dr. Graham’s Home, Pedong-Thongsa-Tharpa-Choling Monastery, wild orchids and animals.

Sandakphu Bengal

Sandakphu Bengal


High above the rest, lies Sandakphu, the highest point of West Bengal, at 11,929 ft above sea level. The Sandakphu trekking region lies in the Singalila Park in Darjeeling, off the Bengal-Sikkim border. An average temperature of -20 degrees Celsius, Mount Everest, the Kanchenjunga and the snow-capped Makalu and Lhotse. Sandakphu is home to all these and over 600 species of wild Orchids.


Spend a day or two at Kurseong en route Darjeeling. Dip into the serenity at 1458 meters above sea level. This city, originally called Kharsang, after the wild orchids, gained prominence as a tourist destination since the 1880’s. for instance, the Saint Paul’s Church and Dow Hills School. Other attractions include Giddapahar Durgamata Mandir, Jagadish Mandir, the Gumpha of Gautam Buddha at Down Hill, Juma Masjid at Hatbazar, Deer Park and waterfalls.


Just 21/2 hours away from Kalimpong, lies Lava at 7016 feet above sea level. Lava happens to be one of the few places in West Bengal that experience snowfall. The main attractions of Lava are the brids. It rests amid nature, for form the madding crowd of he city. Besides the monasteries and museums, Neora Valley National Park is another crowd puller here. Rare animals like Red Pandas, Clouded Leopards, Musk Deer, Black Bears, Golden Cats, and Himalayan Flying Squirrels roam about freely here.




12 km away from Lava, at 5500 feet above sea level, lies the calm and coldness of Lolegaon. Away from the bustle and din of the city, the clear and uncluttered view of the Kanchenjunga is a top draw.

Reaching the Hills:

You can reach Darjeeling through Siliguri. Board any of the numerous trains from either of Howrah or Sealdah to Siliguri or Jalpaiguri. Avail of the Toy Train service or take the roadway to Darjeeling. Should you want to board a flight, you can do so from the NSC Bose Airport to Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri and then follow the same route to Darjeeling.

Hire a car from Siliguri or Darjeeling for a 3 to 4 house drive to Kalimpong. Sandkphu can be accessed from Manebhanjan via Tonglu and Kalipokhari, the distance being 31 km.


Dooars, the vast expanse of greenery at the foothills of the Northern Himalayas, borrows its name from “Dwar” in Sanskrit, the mother of most Indian language. Indeed, the gateway to the Himalayas has multiple shades of green in it – be it the dense forest or the cloud capped tea estates, or even green plains. A few mountain rivers stream through the idyllic surroundings which are the habitat for bison, one-horned rhinos, leopards, elephants and many other animals. One can see all of these, at the same time having a clear view of the Himalayas standing tall in the background.

Reaching different shades of green

You can access Dooars through multiple districts on road. Long distance buses ply from Kolkata. Railways connect the Dooars to Siliguri and Kolkata via New Jakpaiguri and Alipurduar. The Bagdogra airport helps the Dooars to connect with the rest of the country, i.e. Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati.


Truly a World Heritage site, this delta is the house to ancient mangroves that have successfully sustained many a species of wild animals. Among various attractions are the monitor lizards, migratory birds, sharks, crocodiles and of course the Royal Bengal Tiger, for which tourists from all corner of the world throng this place.

sundarban national park

sundarban national park

One can reach the core area of the Sunderbans, i.e. Netidhopani over the river Bonbibibharani. On the way, one shall pass Sundarkhali, Bilkhali and Gajikhali and the river Netai. This area is surrounded by Sundari, Keora, Hental and Goran varieties of mangroves and is interspersed by Forest Department watch-towers. One can consider himself pretty fortunate if he were to watch a tiger from one of these towers.

Reaching out to the wild

Sunderbans can only be accessed from the waters. One can avail a launch from the nearest river-harbour, Canning. Alternatively, buses ply between Kolkata and Basanti, from where you can hire a boat to Sajnekhali or you can choose to arrive via Gosaba and Sonakhali, besides there are launches from Namkhana too. Should you choose to reach via Canning, you can board a train from Kolkata to Canning.


The land of red soil, with tales of literary brilliance in the air, that’s Santiniketan for you. It’s where the river Kopai meanders slowly and lore revolves around the Khowai. In Bengali, it means “The Abode of Peace”. Indeed, that was the only thing on Maharshi Debendranath Tagore’s mind as he set up an Ashram that was made immortal by the Bard of Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore, when he established Viswa Bharati University, a preferred destination for students from across the world.


Originally christened Mallabhum after the age old Malla rulers of Bengal, it is the birthplace of an art truly exclusive to this region – the Terracotta. The district capital Bishnupur is strewn with terracotta (burnt earth) structures describing tales from the Vedas and the Gathas. Of course temples throughout the whole district bear testimony to the aesthetics of the artisans, and are highly held by connoisseurs around the world. At present, 22 of Bankura’s 32 well established temples are being maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Reaching the land of Red Soil-

The nearest railway station is Bolpur. You can approach it from Rampurhat too. The best possible way to approach Santiniketan is on rail from Kolkata to Bolpur, and then travelling the remaining 2 km ride on road. Should you want to make a road trip, Santiniketan is connected to Kolkata via NH2.


The main railway station is Bankura Town. It’s also a 5 hour drive from Kolkata. You can avail of long distance buses from Kolkata.


A treasure trove of history, Murshidabad is intrinsic to memories of the erstwhile Dewan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. Lalbag, the then capital of Bengal, and the British established city at Behrampore portray two different views in history. Notable tourist spots include Hazarduari, Katra Mosque, tomb of Siraj-ud-Daula and large number of other palaces dating back to about 400 years, like the Madina Mosque, Jahan Kosha, Khosbag, Motijhil, Kiriteshwari temple, Kathgola Palace, Nizamat Imambara to name but a few. The Wasef Manzil, Jagat Seth’s house, Bacchawali Cannon, Nimakharam Deuri, KarnaSuvarna and the fields of Plassey continue to enthrall tourists from all corners of the world. A 30 minute drive across the river can take you to the ruins of Karnasubarna, the ancient capital of Bengal.

Other Places of Interest


Digha Beach

Digha Beach

A bemused Warren Hastings referred Digha as ‘Brighton of the East’. Every year millions of people throng Digha, for its beautiful coastline, along with a spectacular sunrise and sunset view. Of late, it’s the most popular sea retreat of West Bengal.


The 13 km long beach of Mandarmani is the home of serenity and solitude. Some reputed hoteliers have set up their resorts, yet leaving the magic of this place intact and have made it more of a weekend retreat for tourists from Kolkata and its adjoining area.


The erstwhile princely state of Coochbehar came under the Indian jurisdiction in 1949 but its royal legend goes on, with imposing palaces (Rajbari), temples (Madan Mohan and Baneshwar Shiva Temple) and celebrated personalities like Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur, who hails from the Coochbehar royal family. In short, the city of Cooch Behar is ideal for the travelers who have an eye for history and Bengal’s eventful past.


The erstwhile seat of power of Bengal is famous for its delicious mangoes, hand-woven coten and silk textiles along with the relics of the Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist regimes.


The birthplace of Chaitanya is the most pious place for Bengali Vaishnavas. It is also the headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON). The ISKON’S Chandrodaya Mandir is one of the most important pilgrim destinations for Vaishnavites all over the world.

Art and Crafts

Each of soil, sponge-wood (shoal), cotton, jute, silk, handmade paper, bell metal and cane is indigenous to Bengal. So are their usages in Bengali livelihood. Terracotta, pottery, shoal-work, patachitra painting, bell-metalwork, cane-work, hand-woven textiles (Sari), embroidery on light quilts, to name but a few and most worthy of mention is the fact that each of these handicrafts has been given the status of exquisite folk –art by generations of specialist artisans. Today the finesse of Krishnanagar clay dolls, distinct form of terracotta horse of Bankura, Dokra artifacts of tribal craftsmen and patachitra of Kalighat in Kolkata have garnered recognition from the world over.

Bengla Art and Crafts

Bengla Art and Crafts

In modern times, Abanindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose and many others established the Bengal School of Painting and other fine arts during the 19th and 20th centuries. As time passed by, the tradition of excellence in art was followed by the names like Atul Bose, Jamini Roy, Debiprasad Raychoudhuri, Hemen Majumdar, Zainul Abedin, Nirad Majumdar, Abani Sen and Gobardhan Ash. In recent times Kolkata emerged as a prominent trading center with the stalwarts Ganesh Pyne, Jogen Chawdhury and Subhaprasanna, all joining with their own bit in the fray.

Culture and Festivals

It is said to be a land of 13 festivals in 12 months. And the biggest among these carnivals is Durga Puja. Scriptures say that it marks the goddess Durga’s homecoming on earth. The four days of Puja are celebrated in a manner that has few parallels in the world! Spectacular Pandals, illuminated streets and millions of people treading miles for Pandal hopping – are all specific to this festival that ends with immersion of the earthen Durga idol. It is one of the largest carnivals of the earth attracting millions of people to Kolkata and Bengal.

Besides Durga Puja, Bengalis celebrate Dol (festivals of colors), Rash (mainly at Mayapur), Dipabali (festival of light), Nababarsha (Bengali new-year) and Christmas with high enthusiasm.

The colorful cultural gamut of Bengal, includes various folk dance forms, Chhau is a masked folk dance form from Purulia district that has achieved more international acclaim over others like Natua, Raibenshey and Tusu.

Jammu Kashmir Flooded: Helpline Numbers

Srinagar Flood Helpline No.

The flood control room numbers are:

New Delhi Jammu & Kashmir House (011)-24611210, (011) 24611108

Srinagar- (0194) 2452138

Jammu- (0191) 2560401

Home Ministry’s control room: 011- 23093054, 23092763, 23092923, 23092885, 23093566, 23093563

NDRF Control Room at Delhi: 011-26107953, 09711077372

People can also mail the NDRF control room at


Srinagar: Anantnag 01932-224371, 222870, 222836, 222271, 9419051940

Baramulla 01954-237830

Shoopian 01933-261891

Kulgam 01955-262295

Pulwama 01933-241280

Awantipora 01933-247369

Budgam 01951-255207, 255750

Srinagar 0194-2474040, 2455883, 2452092, 2452138, 2482624, 2481628

Bandipora 01957-225278

Sopore 01954-222312

Kupwara 01955-252451

Handwara 01955-262295

Ganderbal 0194-2416478

Kargil 01985-232275

Leh 01982-258880

The Kalimpong Experience

Kalimpong, Darjeeling

Kalimpong in Darjeeling district has a unique advantage of being centrally located. The fantastic view from all around, the breathtaking sight of Mt Kanchenjunga, the surrounding forest with rich flora and fauna and the people to this town provide for a spectacular visit for travelers.

All major towns of this hill area – Darjeeling, Gangtok, Pelling, and Kurseong are almost at equal distance from Kalimpong. Siliguri is approximately 2.5 to 3 hours away. Lava, Loleygaon, Pedong, Rishyap and Charkhol, really picturesque and worth a visit, are at a distance of 45 minutes to 2 hours.



Kalimpong is known for its educational institutions, many of which were established during the British colonial period. Kalimpong, then was a transit point for trade between Tibet and India.

The town is located on ridge overlooking the Teesta River. Horticulture is a very important business in Kalimpong. The town has flower market and is notable for a wide array of orchids. Nurseries, that export Himalayan grown flower bulbs, tubers and rhizomes. The town is also a religious centre for the Buddhists.

General Information

Area -  3.5 sq. miles (Kalimpong sub-division)
Altitude - 1250 metres (4100 ft) 1,704 meters (5,591 ft) – Delo
Population - 169,663 (approx)
Climate - Summer – 270C Max – Min 17.2oC, – Winter – 15oC Max – Min 7.2oC
Rainfall - 86.20 inches annually
Clothing - Tropical in summer and light wollen in winter
Languages spoken - Nepali, Bengali, Hindi & English


Kalimpong has five distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter and the monsoons. The annual temperature ranges from a high of 27oc (86oF) to a low of 70C (48oF). Summers is mild, and are followed by the monsoon rains which lash the town between June and September. Winter lasts from December to February.

Traditions & Culture

The majority here is that of ethnic Nepali, having migrated in search of jobs while it was under British rule, indigenous groups include the Newars, Lepchas, Bhutia, Sherpas, Limbus, Rais, Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Yolmos, Bhujels, Sunuwars, Sarkis, Damais and the Kamis. The other communities are that of Bengalis, Marwaris, Anglo-Indian, Chinese, Biharis and Tibetans Kalimpong is home to Trinley Thaye Dorje – one of the 17 Karmapa incarnations.

Kalimpong is the closest Indian town to Bhutan’s western border, and has a small number of Bhutanese nationals residing here. Hinduism is the popular religion, followed by Buddhism and Christianity. The Buddhist monastery Zang Dhok Palri Phodang holds a number of rare Tibetan Buddhist scriptures. There is a mosque in the bazaar area of Kalimpong.

Popular festivals include Diwali, Christmas, Dussera and the Buddhist festival of Losar. Nepali is the predominant language spoken in Kalimpong.

Culture of Kalimpong

Culture of Kalimpong

Flower Nurseries

The flower nurseries of Kalimpong specialize in the cultivation of exotic orchid species, and other ornamental flowers such as Gladioli, Gerberas, Amaryllis and Anthuriums. The most popular nurseries are Pine View, Universal, Shanti Kunj and L.B Pradhan & Sons Nursery.

Arts & Crafts

The town is famous for its handicrafts. The artisans produce Tibetan and Bhutanese artefacts and jewellery that are much admired overseas.

Regional Products

  • Tibetan shoe making
  • Silverware and statue making by sakya craftsman
  • Bamboo products by lepcha tribe
  • Bamboo stools (murha) by blind school trainees
  • Tibetan wooden carvings
  • Carpet marking
  • Woven bags
  • Scroll paintings
  • Thanka paintings

Food Culture

Food in Kalimpong is diverse ranging from Nepali, Tibetan to Chinese delicacies. A popular snack in Kalimpong is the Momo (steamed dumplings made up of pork, beef or vegetable cooked in a wrapping of flour) and served with watery soup. Churpee a kind of hard cheese made from yak’s or chauri’s (a hybrid of yak and cattle) milk, is sometimes chewed. A form of noodle called Thukpa, served in soup form is also popular in Kalimpong. There are a large number of restaurants which offer a wide variety of cuisines, ranging from Indian to continental to cater to the tourists. Tea is the most popular beverage in Kalimpong, procured from the famed Darjeeling tea gardens. Some of the locally produced products include cheese and lollypops which were introduced by Swiss missionaries.

For visitors: should try homemade pickle available in the market at Motor stand Kalimpong.

Adventure & Interest

Treking in Kalimpong

Most of the treks are low altitude Trek time range from 2 to 4 days. The average altitude ranges from 1200 meters to 1500 meters and average distance covered in a day about 12 kms. There treks cover local villages around Kalimpong, these villages are mostly Tamang and Lepcha villages. Local traditions and food are part of the trek itinerary.


One of the most popular waters sports in Kalimpong is rafting, on the strong water current of river Teesta. The rafting usually starts from Melli and goes down to 29th mile.

bird watching at Neora valley

bird watching at Neora valley

Para Gliding

Paragliding is a fairly new sport introduced in this region. The flight path starts from the Science City on Delo hill. His is the perfect way to get a panoramic view of the mountain range and Kalimpong.

Visiting Places

Durping Gumpa

Zang Dhok Palri Phodang
This is the largest and most beautiful monastery in Kalimpong. Consecrated by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama in 1976 who also presented ‘The Kangyur’, in 108 volumes to it. Being situated at a height of 1372 meters on the peak of the Durping Hill, the monastery commands a majestic view of the surrounding areas as well as of the town of Kalimpong. On a clear day, a panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga and the adjacent peaks can be had from this ground. The Zang Dhok Palri Phodang belongs to the Yellow Hat Sect of Buddhism (Gelupa Sect) to which the present Dali Lama belongs.

Getting there: 20 mins drive by taxi towards Durpin from the town
Local tips: light a lamp in the monastery

Dr. Graham’s Homes
One of the earliest Scottish missionaries to come to Kalimpong was Dr. J.A. Graham. He spent his early years in Kalimpong preaching Christianity, but after duration of time, he diverted his attention towards establishing an orphanage cum schools for the needy Anglo-Indian children. He hence established in 1900 the ‘St. Andrews Colonial Homes’. The first cottage to house these children were built on the slopes of the Tripai Hill. But gradually the entire surrounding area was converted into a township which had its own cottages, farm, chapel, workshop, hospital, bakery play ground, poultry, staff quarters and hostels.

Getting there: by local taxi 20 minutes drive from town
Local Tips: enjoy the view from honeymoon hill

St. Teresa Church
Built by local craftsmen to resemble to Gumba, it has wooden carvings on the walls of Biblical scenes and in continuance to the theme, the characters are depicted in the attire of the Buddhist clergy.

Getting there: 10 mins walk from main town center towards Relli road.

Mangla Dham
This recently constructed temple is dedicated to lord Krishna, situated below Sewa Sadan Hospital 10th Mile.

Getting There: 15 min walk from town centre.

Dharmodaya Vihara
Dharmodaya Vihara is a Nepalese Buddhist temple situated just outside the town. In the year 1944 when the Rana rulers expelled all Theravada Bhikkhus (monks) from Nepal, they traveled to Sarnath along with a large number of devotees. An association was subsequently formed there by the name of Dharmodaya Sabha with patronage of locals. The “Elza Villa” was purchased and converted to be the center of preaching and furthering the teachings of Theravada Buddhism. A library containing rare books on Buddhism and other subjects was established in 1949 for the benefit of local people as well as Bhikkhus and Scholars. Dharmodaya Vihar has become a very important center for scholars of Buddhism from all over the world.

Charkhol Kalimpong

Charkhol Kalimpong

Distance from Chuikhim is 25 km via Nimbong. One can also reach from Kalimpong via Relikhola and Pala, only to a travel distance of 34km. Homestay at Charkhol can be considered as the pioneer. Here there are ten homestay with a healthy competition among himself or herself for upgrading hospital. Added to it is unmatched beauty of the place, where Mt Kanchenjunga is view when sky remains clear.

Rishi Khola
14 km away from Pedong lies a beautiful river. The farm house on the banks of Rishi Khola is also a border for West Bengal and Sikkim. Tourists can spend the day fishing, doing village treks and riverside picnic. One can also spend the night in a riverside resort.

Chandipur, Balasore, Orissa


Balasore was a bustling port established by British in 1642 and was an important maritime trading port also with Dutch and French, but lost its importance because the port had silted up in the 18th century. Ruins of some Dutch tombs and remnants of some old canals which led to the sea (13 km away) can still be seen.

Today Balasore is a growing town, well connected to both Kolkata (298) and Bhubaneswar (214) by road on NH5 and by rail on the Kolkata-Chennai main line. It is a convenient base for visit the serene and calm beach resort of Chandipur, just 16 east of Balasore.

Chandipur Beach, Orissa

Chandipur Beach, Orissa


The seaside resort of Chandipur is one of Orissa’s finest beaches. The musical sway of the casuarinas trees and creepier white sand dunes add to its seductive beauty. Chandipur is one of the few breaches of the world where the sea recedes up to 5 km daily at low tide. Chasing the waves in a jeep, when the sea retreats is unforgettable. The serene and peaceful landscape of Chandipur captivates the visitors.

Around Balasore


9 km from Balasore is the Khirachora Gopinath Temple at Remuna. This 19th century Vaishnava shrine is dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Legend has it that Lord Rama (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) in Tretaya Yuga during exile for 14 years in the mountains of Chitrakoot had inscribed an image on a piece of stone to show Sita his incarnation as Krishna (Sri Gopinath) in Dwapar Yuga. The king of Puri wished to bring this holy image, named Jay Gopal to Puri. One night the Jay Gopal appeared in a dream of the King and expressed his desire to however stay at a serene spot having herds of cow, which ultimately was identified as Remuna. Thus the image was enshrined here in a temple by the King Narasinghdeva of Puri. The temple as one of the important pilgrimage spots of Vaishnava sect got sanctified by the visits of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his spiritual guru Sri Madhabendra Puri Goswami and also by Sri Rasikananda Deba Goswami, a devoted soul. Legend also has it that the Lord Gopinath once had to steal a pot containing Khira (Rice Pudding) for his staunch devotee Madhabendra Puri Goswami and thus he assumed the name Khirachora.

With the Sidhasharm of Madhabendra Puri Goswami, the Samadhi (the resting place) of Rasikanand Deba Goswami, the temple of Ramachandi (the village deity); Gragesvar Shiva and the river Saptashara, all located here accord Remuna a high religious significance.


A tranquil place with its captivating beauty in the lap of nature, Panchalingeswar is 30 km from Balasore. Its name is derived from the five lingams enshrined on a hill top. A place of pilgrimage for its five phallic emblems of Lord Shiva, it also offers a heavenly pleasure in the enchanting beauty of the Devgiri mountain range. A perennial spring here is the main attraction.



The area is believed to be resided by Lord Rama for five days during the period of their exile, and the Sita supposedly enshrined these lingams to worship Lord Shiva. It is also identified with the Kingdom of Virat where the Pandavas lived in disguise during their exile and some associated it with the place where the King Jarasangha of Magadh built a fort in Ahuti Forest. Visitors come to enjoy the natural beauty of this hilly region. It is also famous for its two annual fairs, the nine days Magha Saptami Fair and Maha Shivratri or Jagar Fair in February/March.

Some other places to visit around Panchalingeswar include the famous 14th century Bhudarachandi Temple at Sajanagarh, the Jagannath Temple and the Kuldiha Elephant Sanctuary in Nilgiri.


90 km from Balasore or 5 km from Chandaneswar, Talasari is the unexplored beautiful sea beach having its own ecstasy of natural landscapes.


The district headquarter of Mayurbhanj, Baripada is the main commercial town of the northeastern Orissa. The terrain is thickly forested with hills, streams and the neatly thatched villages inhabited by large tribal population, especially Santal Tribe. There are a few time worn civic building erected by the local Maharajas (Kings) during the days of British. The area for centuries has been ruled by Bhanja Kings and their old palace is now a college on the main road. There are historic sites at Khiching and Haripur where these rulers have left their marks and some prehistoric sites at Kuchai and Kuliana in the district. The colourful tribal festivals and their handicrafts like cast metal toyas and sect images and the tassar silk of this district attract the visitors. Bripada is also the gateway to Similipal National Park, about 50 km drive away. Bhubaneswar-Baripada is about 295 km.

The town’s main attraction is the annual Rath Yatra in June/July associated with its Jagannath Temple, a small scale version of one that is at Puri. Its unique feature is that the Chariot of Subhadra-Lord’s sister is pulled only by women. Another colourful and vibrant annual show is the Chaitra Parba in April and it is a treat to watch tribal attired in fabulous dresses performing the vigorous Chhow dance. This dance was performed by the warriors in the past before they ventured into the battle grounds. Baripada has a small museum, exhibiting some fine sculptures, pottery, coins and other paraphernalia belonging to former Maharajas.

Around Baripada

Similipal National Park

50 km west of Baripada, the Similipal National Park is one of India’s first Project Tiger reserve. It boasts around 100 tigers and some impressive wildlife spread over its total area of 2750 sq. km. the entrances to the park are at Jashipur and at Pithabata, near Lulung.

Similipal National Park

Similipal National Park

About 20 km west of Jashipur, Khiching was the capital of the Bhanja Kings between the 10th and 11th centuries. It is famous for its Kichakeswari Temple built entirely of chlorite slabs from the ruins of an original temple that stood here. The diety Kichakeswari was the family Goddess of the royal family of Mayurbhanj. The towering structure has superb images of several deities and the architecture of this reconstructed temple is inspired by a style prevalent in the 8th century. Nearby a number of temples built in Kalin                                               ga style still survive and are in use. The ruins of two forts of Bhanja dynasty and some Buddha images of archaeological importance have also been unearthed in this hamlet. The small Archaeological Museum preserves some outstanding life size statues of Shiva and Parvati and exquisite sculptural panels from some early age fallen temples.


16 km southeast of Bripada, Haripur was founded in 1400 as the capital by Maharaja Harihar of the Bhanja dynasty. It has the evocative ruins of some places and temples. The magnificent Rasikaraya Temple, an outstanding example of a brick-built monument is particularly noteworthy. Equally impressive are the ruins of the inner apartment of the queen, the Ranihamsapur and of Durbar Hall with its beautiful carved stone columns and arches.


Situated on the banks of Subarnarekha, the lingam of Baba Bhusandeswar is being worshipped for years in a remote village of Kumbhirgadi. Caved out of black granite, the lingam is about 3.8 m in height and 3.5 m in diameter, Asia’s largest, now housed in a temple constructed in 1984.

Legend has it that to grant the wish of the demon King Ravana, Lord Shiva gave an atmalinga to him but warned that no one can remove the lingam from where it is placed once. When Ravana was carrying the lingam to Lanka from Kailash Mountain, he felt thirsty and asked a young shepherd to hold it, the boy put it down. On returning, in spite of all his strength, Ravana could not uproot the lingam and with every effort, its size kept on increasing. He returned to Lanka and since then it is enshrined here and being worshipped as Bhusandeswar.

Incredible India – Eco Tourism

Serve Green

Recycling waster, tapping solar and wind power to become energy – efficient, offering linen reuse programmes, and more – hotels are leaving no stone unturned to make sure that they do not take their environment for granted.

Eco-tourism came as a wave a few years ago and has today taken the entire travel industry by storm. Right from destinations to hotels, everyone is trying their best to integrate sustainable practices to be able to play their part in environment conservation. There is an awareness of the fact that with tourism on a rise, there is a greater consumption of natural resources, which in turn could be disastrous to the planet as a whole.

Eco-Tourism in India

Eco-Tourism in India

Green Certificate

Right from planning a hotel to finally opening its doors to guest, there is a whole list of things that are being taken in account to ensure that a property is eco-friendly in every regard. In fact, hotels in India are looking towards adhering to the guidelines set by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) – the internationally recognised third-party verification of green buildings awarded by the United Sates Green Building Council and the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).

In India ECOTEL@ is a prestigious environmental certification designed by HVS’ Sustainability Service specifically for the hospitality sector, which offers assistance in setting and achieving green targets for hospitality business and chains. The ECOTEL@ Certification is based on five areas namely environment commitment, waste management, energy management, water management as well as employee education and community involvement.

 It’s All about Experience

CGH Earth is the pioneer of eco-tourism in India. Today, the group has a number of properties across peninsular India and is managing at least a dozen properties, including the exotic Bangaram Island in Lakshadweep. The man behind it all – Jose Dominic, MD, CGH Earth – shares how he made the group what it is today. A charted accountant by qualification, Jose joined this family-owned hotel business, which had its first property, Casino Hotel in Wellington Island, Cochin.

“When we started working on Bangaram Island in Lakshadweep, we thought of keeping its natural beauty intact and started working on a model that focussed on providing an environment and service that was as local as possible. We used the local products right from the onset, like using coconut thatched roofs instead of those made with concrete. We recruited people from the island and even served neighbourhood cuisine instead of international food,” say Dominic.

However, he believes that real luxury is to enjoy a holiday in its true essence – acres of space, unspoilt nature and an experience of local culture. Dominic continues, “When the hotel opened in 1988, we quoted a price of US$180, same as that offered by The Oberoi, Mumbai. Initially, it was difficult to explain to the travel agents, but when guests came to us after experiencing the property, they asked us to stay as we are even if we decide to increase the price. This gave us confidence and hence shifted the entire paradigm. Today, the definition of luxury has changed. A holiday is not only a memorable experience but a transformative experience.”

“In 1991 we opened the Spice Village in Kerala, where we followed the same rules of keeping everything natural,” he said. The model found instant success and CGH Earth today has a tagline that reads ‘experience hotels’ and boasts around 14 properties in India. Dominic reveals why they changed the name Casino Group of Hotels (CGh) to CGH Earth. “We decided to use Earth for our three core values, which are 1) nature is sacred, 2) involving local community, 3) adopting local ethos. CGH, on the other hand, expands to Clean, Green and Healthy.”

One would be surprised that none of the properties at CGH Earth have a television, and Dominic is proud of the fact. “It is our most commented on and complained about feature,” he laughs. “However, it is essential to the model we work on, offering an experience that makes the simple things in life extraordinary,” he said.

Leading the way

Inspired by the green philosophy, ITC hotels have been the torchbearer for eco-tourism, truly abiding by their tagline that reads Responsible Luxury. In fact, ITC Hotels is the first hotel chain in the world with all its ten Luxury properties LEED@ Platinum certified. “What sets ITC apart is its global acknowledgment as an exemplar is sustainable practices. It is the only company in the world of its size, to achieve the three major global environmental distinction of being carbon positive, water positive and solid recycling waste positive,” says Niranjan Khatri, General Manager – Welecomenviron Initiatives, ITC Hotels.

While the decision to follow a green path is exemplary, to be marketing it as luxury is a different ballgame altogether. “The dynamic that combined luxury and sustainability demanded clear vision and resolve. It took serious deliberations and a determined undertaking to demonstrate that the union of luxury and sustainability tapped into the zeitgeist and in fact showed the way ahead, for the hospitality industry as a whole,” says Khatri.




A new concept of sustainable tourism has taken shape in the form of ecolodges, not just in India but in other counties as well. Hitesh Mehta, President, HM Design, is one of the world’s leading practitioners and researchers on ecotourism physical planning, landscape architectural and architectural aspects of ecolodges. He defines ecolodges as, “low-impact, nature-based accommodations of five to seventy-five rooms that protect the surrounding environment; benefit the local community; offer tourists an interpretative and interactive participatory experience; provide a spiritual communion with nature and culture and are designed, constructed and operated in an environmentally and socially sensitive manner.”

In India Taj Safaris has made a name for itself as far as successful Ecolodges are concerned. They provide guests with the ultimate interpretive wildlife experience, based on a proven sustainable ecotourism model.

How to go Green?

It takes a lot to put the green ideology into practice and hotels are trying their best to take good care of the environment. Manju Sharma, Director, Jaypee Hotels, agrees, “We at Jaypee hotels believe in creating an environment friendly architectural marvel across all our properties, along with the sustained green initiatives carried on a regular basis by our group. “She adds, “At Jaypee Hotels, employees planted saplings and took the responsibility to maintain the plants. The hotel will also be using green foliage, rather than using cut flowers to avoid wastage of water.” Apart from this, Jaypee has also taken a number of other initiatives like installation of energy efficient lighting system, waste refrigerant with R—134a. The group has also invested in rain water harvesting system and have also taken initiatives for noise management.

ITC manifests responsible luxury in all its properties through many ways. 55 per cent of the total electrical energy demand in ITC is met through renewable sources i.e. wind and solar energy. “The energy we produce through our wind farms is sufficient to light up a 1400 km stretch of highway, for a year,” claims Khatri.

Jose Dominic too propagates recycling waste. He says, “At EGH Earth all biodegradable waste is converted in fuel and fertiliser.” In fact, the Christmas decorations at CGH Earth were done using recycled paper and waste material.

The Chalets, a Welcome Heritage Resort, located 22kms away from Shimla, has also taken green initiative seriously. Amish Sud, Director, Chalets, Naldehra, says that the entire resort is constructed on mountains without harming or cutting their original structure. “The resort has three green houses and approximately 300 varieties of plants and trees are grown through the winter months and even have plants ready for the summers,” he said. Taking of solar energy, he revealed, “The solar panels help us maintain the water temperature of the swimming pool at no extra cost. “Sud further added, “Flooring of restaurant and some rooms has been done by the recycled scrap wood.”

The property also has an ATP (affluent treatment plant) and a bio gas plant. ATP recycles waste water from the kitchen, washrooms and laundry. “The ATOP regenerates 12000 to 14000 litres of water a day which we use for the gardens and lawn, “said Sud.

The naturalist team at Pashan Garh, under Taj Safaris, has created a water recycling system to recycle the grey water from the staff village and further use it for the vegetable garden. Inspired by Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Pashan Garh also has a garbage incinerator, which provider’s ash that is combined with the compost to produce organic fertilisers for the vegetable garden.

Another property by Taj Safaris, Banjaara Toal Kanha, in partnership with the Forest Department has undertaken a project aimed at providing training to local ‘honey hunters’ to educate them about eco