Best Winter Holiday Destinations in India

Winter season is soon to arrive. Even before the winds turn really chilly and all your quilts, blankets, woolens are out of the wardrobe, you must have started planning for a winter holiday trip. Thus winter is not just about sipping from a cup of hot fuming coffee and peeping out from your blanket. Nature gets dressed differently during winter and thus you have lots to explore when you are on a winter holiday trip. So just check out the top 10 winter destinations in India below.

Winters are a time when the holiday spirit rises up in the best of us. The Celsius drops, there is a nip in the air, the heart yearns for romance and the eye seeks greener pastures; this is a perfect time to get your back pack ready. India being a beautiful country has a lot to offer to the discerning tourist in terms of winter travel. Here is a list of places both famous and unusual where you can head off to this winter.

Shillong in Meghalaya
Shillong bears a very strong resemblance to Scotland because of its pristine beauty and beautifully colored highlands. The name is derived from Leishyllong or the supreme divine power which emanates from the peaks of Shillong. There are several sets of waterfalls in Shimla; all of them astoundingly beautiful. There is the Crinoline Falls, Elephant Falls, Beadon Falls, Elephant Gaits and the 2 Gunners Falls. Each of these Falls have curious stories attached to them like it is locally known that the Elephant Falls was the favorite bathing place of Elephants.
Shillong has a very exciting night life and has lots of pubs, bistros and bars lining its tiny pebbled streets. This is a perfect romantic place to come with your better half. Tall Pine forests and fields of edelweiss makes Shillong a photographers delight. For the best effect, stay in a wooden cottage which has the capacity for hosting for a log fire. Shillongs beauty is best savored in chilly winter mornings amidst its abundant natural beauty.

Goa
In winters you will feel that you have stepped into an international festival circuit once you step into Goa. Caucasians, Negros, Latin Americans and South Asians flock the beaches in Goa as it is well known winter holiday destination abroad. Goa was a Portuguese colony in the past and has been under the influence of rich Latin and Portuguese cultures. There are several beautiful churches in Goa that have been marked out as world heritage sites by UNESCO.

Fort Aguada, Fort Tiracol and Basilica are the places to visit if you are interested in history. The Goa Science Center, Museum of Archeology and the Gallery of Portraits are some must see places in Goa.

For nature lovers there is Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Netravali Sanctuary and Cotigao Sanctuary. Salim Ali Bird Park has brightly colored parrots, kingfishers and mynas and is an ornithologist’s delight.

Rajasthan
Rajasthan is the name that most travelers would come up with when asked to name one of the best tourist destinations in WINTERS IN India. This is a land where everything is larger than life starting from the exotic palaces to the camels the heavily decked up local people wearing colorful attire and chunky jewelry. This is also the state where most celebrities (both national and international) head off to for holding destination weddings in the exotic villas in Udaipur and Jaiselmer.

Jaipur should be your first choice in Rajasthan and the city will overwhelm you with its abundance of pink in everything. The man made landscape is so colorful that you will never feel like putting the camera away. There are 7 major palaces and 4 different forts in Jaipur that you can explore with most of them offering amazing sites where you can sit and watch the sun go down.

After you have finished with Jaipur…head off to Udaipur which is the city of palaces. Udaipur holds camel races every winter which is a major tourist draw.

Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Ranthambore are some major places of tourist interest in Rajasthan too.

Gulmarg in Kashmir
Gulmarg has recently been voted by India Times as one of the most coveted winter destinations of India. The snow clad hills of Gulmarg are best experienced in winters when tourists flock here for seeing the world’s biggest Gondola ski lift. The acres long Golf course is also a major tourist draw here as there is the system of providing short term memberships. Horse riding and trekking are other winder sports activities in Gulmarg.
Gulmarg has umpteen flower valleys filled with Rhodendrons, carnations, daisies and wild roses. In winter there are flower shows organized every week which will enchant you with their beauty. Make sure you take your camera along.

Nainital and Pangot in Uttarakhand
Nainital is one of the most famous hill stations in Uttarakhand which offers a lot to the crowd avoiding nature loving tourist. Nainital has a lot of apricot and almond farms from where the produce is supplied to several other places in India. There are 7 different hikes in Nainital which can be availed by tourists who can go on long and exhilarating walks. Nainital is also a food lover’s Paradise as it hosts a lot of restaurants and cafes that serve delectable Uttaranchal cuisine.

If you drive 15 km away from Nainital you will reach Pangot that is a bird watcher’s paradise. 2000 separate birds’ species have been located and named in Pangot and the nearby areas. There are the luxuriant Cheena Peak forests that dot Pangot and beautiful tourist points like Kilbury and Snow View Point. If you want to go for picnics in winter then the lovely lake trio of Naini Tal, Nakuchia Tal and Saat Tal are the best places.

Kovalam
Kerala’s Kovalam beach has fine whitish sand unlike the yellowish coarse sand that is present in other Indian Beaches. 3 separate beaches are present in Kovalam which are arranged together in a crescent shaped structure. All the 3 beaches have facilities for Para gliding, sun bathing, hot oil massage and other beach activities.

Kovalam is a Panchkarma (ancient ayurvedic therapy) hub and it has many massage therapy centers. Treatments and beautification therapies are provided here using the 7 oils Ayurvedic process. Many foreigners also visit Kovalam in the winters for enjoying its oil massage treatments.

Havelock Island in Andaman
Some die hard Andaman fans claim that the Radhanagar beach in Havelock Island was one of the best beaches in the world. The distinctive pattern of the coastline in Radhanagar beach ensures that there is perfect stillness between the two subsequent wave crashes of the sea here. Many famous poets of India including the award winning author Amitava Ghosh had chosen Radhanagar Beach as the perfect place for going on a book writing holiday. This beach is surrounded from all sides by Mangroves which are populated by elephants. In fact elephants are found on hire here for the amusement of tourists. Don’t miss out on the lovely coral souvenirs which are sold on the Radhanagar beach.

Leh in Ladakh
If you are brave hearted and can bear the chill then do visit Ladakh’s capital town Leh in winters. This town is full of gaiety and fun all against a pure white backdrop. Leh is best experienced in the winters unlike the rest of Ladakh as it is fully equipped to provide tourists with the ultimate holiday experience. The Namgyal Monarchs have ruled Leh for ages till they were uprooted by democracy. The Stok Palace, Leh Palace, Tsemo Gompa and the umpteen monasteries make Leh an architect’s paradise.

If you love shopping especially exotic shopping then head off to Leh Bazaar where you can find chunky Tibetan Jewelry, Thangkas, fine shawls, lovely artifacts and handicrafts which are very different from the usual products found in India.

Corbett National Park
If you want to look at the stunning tiger in the eye in its own majestic setting then the Corbett National Park is your best bet. Winters see the maximum tourist traffic here as there are a lot of tiger and rare bird sightings in Corbett. Unlike other national parks in India, this one is highly organized and caters to tourists of all preferences and budgets. This is why you will get elephant ride tours, bird watching tours, jungle camp arrangements, watch tour night stays and much more here.

150 different varieties of exotic animals and 200 species of birds exist today in Corbett National Park making it a nature lover’s delight.

Amritsar
Amritsar is arguably India’s food paradise. If you are a foodie then Amritsar is heaven for you. The best paranthas and the sweetest jalebis in India are found in the tiny galis of Amritsar. Butter Chicken, Missi Roti, Palak Paneer and all other Punjabi delicacies are best sampled in Amritsar which holds food fests almost every week in winter.

Amritsari Macchi is a dish which has now gained entry into the best Indian cookbooks published in India. Don’t forget to sample Chole Bature and the Butter Kulcha when you are here

If you are interested in Indian History then Jallianwala Bagh and Wagah Border will interest you. The Golden Temple is a must see as its one of the best and the most beautiful religious monuments in India.

If you are interested in shopping then stock up on the beautiful yet super affordable textile found in Amritsar. Phulkari Dupattas are eternally in fashion and make great gift items too. Buy a few brightly colored ones from Amritsar to carry back home.

Best Season to Travel in Kashmir

Kashmir, the paradise of earth is the most visit-able tourist spots for people from all across the nation plus the globe. The mesmerizing mountainous terrain with snow capped peaks, undulating plains carpeted with soft grass covers, forests of pines and conifers, gurgling rivulets, the Dal lake, the house boats, the Shikaras, the apple orchards all give Kashmir a unique charm indeed. If you wish to gather info on the best time to visit Kashmir, just read on.

Jammu and Kashmir has been aptly called heaven on earth. Its majestic beauty has drawn hundreds of tourists from India as well as abroad every season. However due to its positioning in the Northern climes of India and its recent climate of political unrest has led many tourists to question themselves about the most suitable time to visit this beautiful state. The problem is that Kashmir has a different kind of beauty every season and choosing the best season to visit it is akin to choosing between roses and orchids; all seasons are beautiful and it entirely depends upon your preferences and convenience.

Winters

Winter in Kashmir

Winter in Kashmir

Months- December to February
Temperature-: -5 degrees to 8 degrees

The minimum temperature in Jammu reaches 4 degrees centigrade during the chilly winters. There is also a lot of snow fall around the upper climes of Kashmir. Srinagar which is the summer hotspot for tourists becomes extremely cold. The pristine white beauty of the landscape gives birth to a different kind of experience altogether.

Gulmarg and its surrounding areas are perfect for a visit in the winters. Snow sports like skiing, para gliding, snow skating and zorbing happens in the pristine valleys of Gulmarg. If you are interested in sports then Kashmir is best visited in winters. Early winters is a good time to visit if you want to experience the apple picking season in certain sections of Kashmir.

Winter flowers like rhodendrons are in full bloom and can be seen peeping out from under the snow. Wild duck shooting season popular since the British Raj is also on during the winters.

Spring

spring in kashmir

spring in kashmir

Months- February to April
Temperature-: 5 degrees to 10 degrees

Spring is heaven in Kashmir; every variety of fruit blossom like apples, almonds, cherries, apricots, plums, pears and peaches weigh down the trees. If you have never seen an apple blossom filled tree in Kashmir then you have not seen one of the prettiest vistas nature has to offer.
Flowers like roses, carnations, button daisies, rhodendrons, thyme and edelweiss fill up the meadows making the air fragrant and fresh.
Lohri which is celebrated in winters in the rest of the country is held in Spring in Kashmir. The beautiful people of Kashmir dress up in their best clothes and visit the various parts of the Valley. Bonfires are lit and the people of Kashmir indulge in singing, dancing and festivities. If you want to experience the true beauty of nature then Spring is the best time to visit. However make sure you book your tickets well in advance.

Summer

summer in kashmir

summer in kashmir

Months- April to June
Temperature-: 8 degrees to 18 degrees

Fruits have finally ripened in Kashmir during Summers and the blossoms of spring have matured. You will see tiny orchards all over the state brimming over with rich produce of strawberry, apricot, peach and cherry. Fruit picking (also open to interested tourists) is on. This is also the season when the flaming orange saffron is harvested and you will see entire miles of tiered saffron fields being harvested by Kashmiri women. Kashmir is at its most temperate in the summers and if you are not too fond of cold temperatures then its best to visit Kashmir in summers. Zorbing and Pony riding are the major attractions of summers in Kashmir along with trout fishing.

Make sure that your tickets are booked well in advance as maximum tourist traffic happens in summers. Tourists who are interested in Amaranth Yatra also visit during this time.

Monsoons

Months- June to September
Temperature-: 8 degrees to 18 degrees

Though the light rains against the lush hilly backdrop and the flower filled meadows does make it a lovely sight; Kashmir is best avoided in the monsoons. Some areas become slippery and treacherous and there is a chance of falling and hurting yourself. Landslides and water logging are also common during this time.

Kashmir in Monsoons is only for the young and adventurous.

Autumn

autumn in kashmir

autumn in kashmir

Months- October and November
Temperature-: 6 degrees to 10 degrees

Kashmir is a photographer’s paradise in Autumn. You will scarcely be able to stop clicking photos if you visit Kashmir in the Autumn. Chinnar leaves shed their golden leaves and the roads and pathways takes on amazing red, golden and fire orange colors. Agricultural fest is organized in Parampore in Kashmir which is very famous. This is also the season for handicraft fairs and festivals in Kashmir as well as the jam and the jelly making season. Don’t leave Kashmir till you have purchased some Kashmiri stitch shawls and delicious cherry and apricot jam.

Top 10 Tourist Places in Gujarat

Gujarat, has of late turned into a fond tourist hotspot. It’s dotted with many attractive places that enliven your mood and make history come alive. For wildlife lovers, for God seekers too Gujarat has plenty to offer. So when you plan for a holiday, consider visiting Gujarat at least once in your lifetime. Read on to learn the top 10 places in Gujarat.

Gujarat is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich States of India. Here is a list of top 10 places you should see when you come to Gujarat.

Ahmedabad

Iskcon Temle Ahmedabad

Iskcon Temle Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad besides being the fifth biggest Indian City is also one of the commercial areas of Gujarat. The city was founded by Raja Karnadev in the 11th Century and was named as Karnawati after him. Subsequently Sultan Ahmed Shah invaded the place in 1411 and gave the city his own name. This is why Ahmedabad has some of the fine examples of both Hindu as well as Muslim architecture.

There are several tourist attractions in Ahmedabad like Bhadra Fort, Teen Darwaza, and Hanging Minarets, intricate historical buildings, gorgeous mosques and pristine lakes. Sabarmati Ashram which was Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashram is the hub for people who want to follow Gandhi Ji’s message.

For shoppers Ahmedabad is a great destination as it has an amazing collection of textiles and jewelry being one of the major exporters of both in India.

Vadodra

Vadodara

Vadodara

Vadodra is the cultural hotspot of Gujarat and is one of the most popular destinations of the state. Mughals used to rule Vadodra in the past which is why the place is still full of intricate architecture in the Islamic style. Later the Mughals were defeated by Maratha Gaekwad who used to serve as army generals. Subsequently Vadodra was the capital of the Marathas. The city saw many developments under the leadership of Sayajirao ii and enjoyed great prosperity even in British Rule.

There are lots of things you can do when you are in Vadodra like visit the Kadia Dungar caves, stroll around in Lakshmi Vilas Palace and take a round of Nazarbaugh Villa as well as Makarpura Palace. Sayaji Baug is a huge garden complex filled with hot blooms and 100 different vaieties of ferns. It also has a small zoo and a pretty toy train. Vadodra is a place that will take you back in time.

Sasan Gir National Park in Junagad

Sasan Gir National Park

Sasan Gir National Park

Gir National Park is the best place in Asia for spotting the royal lion in its natural setting. More than 70 Asiatic Lions are present in this National Park so most tourists report a spotting. Other exotic fauna in the Gir National Park are marsh crocodiles, sambar, fork tailed antelope, leopard, golden finches, hyenas etc so this place is heaven for animal lovers.

If you are seriously interested in lion spotting then April to May is the best time to visit. Apart from this park if you visit Junagadh then don’t forget to visit Junagadh Fort.

Bhuj

Swaminarayan Temple Bhuj

Swaminarayan Temple Bhuj

Bhuj is a place which is a historical wonder and one of the most visited places in Gujarat. Right from Mahabharata to Alexander the Great to Indus Valley Civilisation to the East India Company Rule; many historical eras have strong connections to Bhuj. Cultures have existed in Bhuj for more than 4000 years and each has left its own indelible mark.

Aina Mahal and Prag Mahal in Bhuj are the best architectural wonders in Bhuj as they were inhabitated by the maharao’s of Bhuj. Magnificient Chattardis (umbrellas of the dead royals) stand in the middle of the Rann of Kutch surrounding Bhuj. Kutch Museum is full of historical wonders and miniature models of the way royal life existed in Bhuj before. Bejewelled crowns, fierce weapons and antique royal furniture is also displayed in the museum. There are 19 craft villages which surround Bhuj out of which Bhojodi and Ajrakhpur is the most famous. 16 different forms of embroidery, batik and mirror work are present in Bhuj and its surrounding areas which is why so many international tourists target Bhuj.

If you are religiously inclined then Ramkund Stepwell, Nag Mata Mandir and the various Bhuj stone temples will interest you.

Rann of Kutch

Rann of Kutch

Rann of Kutch

You must already have heard Amitabh Bacchan mouthing the lines “Kutch Nahin Dekha Tho Kuch Nahin Dekha” on Radio and T.V. Kutch is full of pristine white sand and exotic fauna set against a backdrop of cultural extravaganza which happens every year at frequent intervals.

The Rann of Kutch is situated in between the Arabian Sea and the never ending Thar Desert. This is India’s only hot white desert with the other (cold) white desert being in Ladakh. Salt and sand together give this desert a mystical look; a fact that is again highlighted on moonlit nights. Rann of Kutch is submerged inside water in the monsoons; a fact which makes it very puzzling to Geologists. Head off to Dhordo where cultural extravaganza is held in moonlit nights. If you are ever in Gujarat during a full moon night, reserve that night for the Rann of Kutch.

Every winter migratory Flamingoes arrive from halfway across the world to spend a fortnight in this magical white desert. The desert is then dotted with shocking pink and looks like a polka dotted landscape. Other migratory birds like Bustard, Blue Bee Eater and Vulture are present here which makes this desert an ornithologist’s delight.

If you visit the little Rann of Kutch you will be thrilled to see the Wild Ass Sanctuary where groups of rare wild Asses are found.

December 2014 will host the Rann Mahotsav when painters, acrobats, dancers, performers, artists and snake charmers visit the Rann for a week long fest. Camel Safari, cock fights, wrestling match and live music give the desert a joyful look.

Mandvi

Mandvi

Mandvi

So you thought Gujarat was all about deserts, lions and traditional culture right? Well Mandvi will prove you wrong with its collection of lovely sandy stretches along the Ahmadabad Mandvi stretch. Water sports like sailing, Para gliding and swimming are organized around the beaches in Mandvi. The pristine blue waters of the Arabian Sea Coast are gentle enough for relaxing laps and this is why you can easily head off to the Mandvi Beach for a fun family vacation. The firm control of the Gujarat Government means that there is no eve teasing, no stray drug abuse, no filthy language and a perfect friendly environment on the beach.

There are beautiful spots in Mandvi where you can go for sightseeing and cultural immersion too. There is the Vijay Vilas Palace which is filled with grand old paintings while the Rukmavati Bridge offers you a glimpse into architectural wonder of Gujarat. If you have some extra time on your hands then do visit the Kasi Viswanath Beach too.

Satpura

Satpura Mountain

Satpura Mountain

Gujarat’s only and most beautiful hill station is Satpura which is at a moderate altitude of 1000 m in the very core of Dang District. This hill station is in a very high plateau on the famous Sahayadri Range. You will be pleasantly surprised to see cool refreshing climate and miles of emerald greens in the lovely land of Satpura. This place has come into the limelight recently when the Gujarat Government has started promoting it strongly. There are many amenities in Satpura like Boating facilities, cultural theaters, heritage hotels, ancient museums and lovely parks which are built to cater to the ever growing tourist traffic.

Bhadreswar

Bhadreswar Jain Temple

Bhadreswar Jain Temple

Bhadreswar is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Gujarat and many references to its spiritual importance are quoted in Mahabharata where this place was referred to as Bhadrawati. There are several Jain temples here which date back to more than 100 years. Bhadreswar is also known amongst architects because of the finest examples of Kutch architecture. Several books have been written about history of the 52 Jain temples in Bhadreswar. Several carvings, paintings and statues of historical importance are present in Bhadreswar.

Chanakya Mahadev Temple in Bhadreswar was established by Pandavas about 5000 years ago and this attracts a lot of ethnologists. Duda Masjid is also a great example of Islamic architecture.

Diu Beach

Diu Beach

Diu Beach

The Diu Beach is Gujarat’s summer capital. It’s the place where local people of Gujarat head off to for summer fun and frolic. As you well know Diu is a union territory but comes within the governance of Gujarat Government. This is a pretty fishing town where you will find every conceivable type of Fish being sold and cooked (a rarity in predominantly vegetarian Gujarat).

The most famous beach of Diu is Nagoa Beach which is located in Gangeshwar Coast. Boating and Parasailing are regular features here and it attracts a lot of tourists. You can also pay a visit to Lord Shiva temple situated near Goghala Beach when you visit Diu.

Porbandar

Hari Temple in Porbandar

Hari Temple in Porbandar

If you are a Mahatma Gandhi Fan then PorBandar will surely be in your tour list. This is where Mahatma Gandhi was born and several ashrams and institutes that teach the Gandhi way of life are established here. Porbandar is also an important port with its own dockyard situated as it is on the very edges of the Arabian Sea Coastal Line.

Tourists visiting Porbander should visit the Kirti Mata Mandir, Bharat Temple, and the Sudama Temple. Interestingly Sudama (Lord Krishna’s friend) was also born here.

Chowpatty Beach is where you can head off to for building sandcastles and sampling vada pao and kachori.

If you are a nature lover then the bird sanctuary hosting 115 varieties of birds is sure to attract your interest.

Serene Secret Nako – Nako a Lake in Himachal Pradesh

Nako Located in Kinnaur District

A tiny tucked away in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, on the border with Tibet; Nako is a little known surprise. Home to the Nako Lake, the mystical holy lake that looks most resplendent early in the morning, Nako is delighting as you discover it layer by layer. Still steeped in the medieval aura, it is rich in traditions and it shows in the calmness that engulfs you as soon as you enter the place. Step into paradise and feel blissfully alive by being one with nature as it frames a man-made display.

Nako Lake

Nako Lake

Before Malling Nullah, between Kinnaur and Spiti, it piques everyone’s interest for it is a land where time has stood still. Flanked by the Himalayas on three sides, Nako is worth getting the Inner Line Permit required to enter this restricted area. The permit can be easily obtained from Reckong Peo or from Kaza and Shimla. It is your passport of uninterrupted peace, quiet and a rejuvenating holiday like no other.

Walk around the village and admire the crystal clear water of the snow and glacier fed lake. On clear days you can catch the reflection of the entire village and mountains around it floating on it surface. During winters, it freezes over, making it any photographer’s dream come true.

There are many monasteries in and around Nako, making it the perfect trekking point. The new monastery has exquisite wall paintings with a small collection of Buddhist books, statues and also a Tibetan Drum.

Nako has a very Tibetan character. Deodum is the local village deity and a Lagang temple with many idols is also present here. The Nako monastery was founded by Ringchen Zangpo. It has seven temples in all, with some of the older ones having exceptional frescoes and scriptures. A Tibetan form of Buddhism is still alive in these areas and the Monasteries are a standing testament of the community’s religious beliefs and history. The structures are now endangered due to rain and water originating from snow melts. The most important temples are the Lhakhang Gongma (Upper Temple) and the Lotsawa Lhakhang (Translator’s Temple) and restoration and conservation work here has already been started.

Nako Village

Nako Village

The streets and houses are lined with red, green, yellow and blue prayer flags. The houses have stone fences and are themselves made of rubble with flat roofs are painted white. Inside, the doors have beautiful Tibetan wall paintings. The people here are not used to many tourists and expect respect for their culture. Always walk clock-wise around temples and chortles, with your right side facing them. Even touching them with your left hand is not appreciated. The mandalas are painted in Kashmiri influenced Indo-Tibetan style.

Note The best time to visit is June-October and the lake is open for boating. In the winters the lake is just perfect for ice skating. Enjoy the local fare at the few Dhabas. Relish the Momos, noodles and even, Dal-Chawal. Nako is 110 km from Sangla and 60 Km from Tabo. House to the footprints of Saint Padmasambhavas, it has rightfully earned the title of ‘Gateway to Buddhist Pilgrimage’.

Most Popular Tourist Places in Nainital

Nainital is a fond tourist spot for tourists from different corners of the globe as well as the nation. The cool climate, the sparkling springs, the snow capped peaks, the flower gardens are so enticing that you will be drawn to this small forest clad hill station of Uttarakhand every moment. Read on to learn about the top tourist places in Nainital.

Uttarakhand is the Land of Gods, a place so imbued with spirituality that one may be forgiven for overlooking its scenic, natural beauties ranging from the Himalayas in the North to the gently undulating hillsides that lead to lush valleys and rolling plains. Of all the lovely places in Uttarakhand, Nainital is perhaps one of the most charming. Nainital is the Lake District and Nainital resort is located alongside the Naini Lake. The other places worthy of a visit in the district are Mukteshwar, Haldwani, Naukuchiatal, Bhimtal, Sattal, Ramnagar, Bhowali, Kaladhungi and Ramgarh. If these places are all attractive, Nainital is the Queen.

Nainital

Nainital

A favorite of the British, Nainital still retains much of the colonial charm. It is at a height of about 2084 metres and sits in a valley ringed by Deopatha, Naina and Ayarpatha mountain ranges. Nainital is steped in mythology too with stories linking the Nainital Lake to the ancient Tri-Rishi Sarovar connected with the sages Pulaha, Atri and Pulastya.

Naina Devi Temple –
It is said the sages did not find water in the lake and dug a hole from which water gushed forth. It is said the water comes directly from Mansarovar and as such this lake also has religious significance, forming part of one of the 64 Shakti Peeths. It is said the eyes of Sati fell on this spot as Lord Shiva was carrying her remains and the Naina Devi temple on the North side of the Lake is dedicated to her. The temple is not the only place to visit. Nainital and its surroundings have plenty to keep you occupied for a few days.

Naini Lake
If you are in Nainital, it is only natural you should stroll around the Naini Lake, so large that the Northern side is called Mallital and the Southern side is called the Tallital. This is a vast shopping area and you could spend an entire afternoon browsing the shops. The Mall is where you go when you want to pass time or shop. You can also find restaurants and hotels here. However, it is at night that the Lake takes on a fascinating beauty as people sit along its over 3 kilometer perimeter and admire reflections of houses and lights. Head over to the Flats towards the Northern side and you can buy stuff or sample delicacies on offer at the Chaat Bazaar.

nainital zoo

nainital zoo

Govind Ballabh Pant Zoo –
The Zoo is the next stop for tourists. Known as the Govind Ballabh Pant Zoo, it is at a height of 2100 metres and is populated with Leopards, Siberian Tiger, Palm civet cat, pheasants, deer, monkeys, parakeets, Himalayan bears, peacocks and ghoral among others. After the zoo, it is time for a ride on the aerial ropeway. As you dangle high above, you can only wonder at the majestic spread of the mountains and the valleys down below. A visit to the Governor’s House is obligatory to admire the British Gothic style of architecture. The mansion has 113 rooms and visitors must obtain prior permission to visit.

Snow Point View –
A short trip outside of Nainital takes you to Snow Point View from where you can admire Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Trishul mountain ranges. If Snow point is attractive, Naina Peak is simply astounding. Located at a height of 2615 metres and North of Mallital, it offers a fabulous view of the Himalayas in all their majestic glory. Tiffin Top may not be quite as marvelous but it is impressive, located on Ayarpatta Hill and giving you another view of the Himalayas. This is an ideal picnic spot.

cave garden nainital

cave garden nainital

Eco Cave Garden –
Spare a day to visit the eco Cave Garden, one of the most popular spots near Mallital and a favorite of children. Adults, on the other hand, will love Land’s End from where you can admire the still waters of the Khurpatal or Khurpa Lake. You have to drive to Barapathar and then walk for a kilometer. Pack in Binayak or go off to Hanuman Garhi, a temple to the south of Tallital or just return to your hotel for some rest.

Traipsing from one place to the other may be fun but can get boring after a while so you have other activities to keep you enthralled. You can go boating, para sailing, hiking, horse riding, yachting or just a nature walk outside Nainital. Take your camera along because you will find plenty of landscapes worth a click and more.

Around Nainital there are plenty of places to visit. You can go to Bhowali, Ghorakhal, Bhimtal, Sat-tal, Naukuchiyatal, Kainchi Dham, Ramgarh, Mukteshwar, Ranikhet, Kausani, Baijnath, Jageshwar and Binsar.

Ramgarh Nainital

Ramgarh Nainital

Bhowali – 
Bhowali is about 11 Km from Nainital and has lovely scenery as well as a sanatorium. Ghorakhal is known for the temple of Lord Golu and a sainik school. It is only 3 kilometres from Bhowali. Still not satisfied? Head for Sat Tal or Sattal or seven lakes a collection of lakes comprised of Ram, Garuda, axman, Sita, Nal Damyanati and Panna Lakes. You can never have enough of Lakes and these seven lakes whet your appetite for more.

Naukuchiatal – 
So it is Naukuchiatal, about 26 kilometres away at a height of 1220 metres. This is a largish lake and quite deep too, with clear waters, plenty of birdwatching to do if you are the passive type or boating if you are active type. If you like, you can visit Kainchi Dham known for its ashram of Neem Karoli Maharaj. Mukteshwar is another spot with a temple to Lord Shiva but what enchants you is the presence of orchards and the wonderful landscape spread right below you. You can omit Kainchi Dham and Mukteshwar but Ramgarh you must visit.

Aurobindo Ashram –
Only 25 kilometres from Nainital, this lovely place gives you a wonderful view of the Himalayas even as you gorge on local fruits found in abundance when they are in season. Trek in the forests or visit the Aurobindo Ashram for a few moments of solitude.

Kausani -
You cannot be in all places but Kausani is a place you must not miss because of its enchanting beauty. Rise and shine before the Sun does, head to Kausani and watch the Sun rise in all glory from between the peaks of Trishul and Nanda Devi. Kausani is sheer poetry.

Ranikhet -
From Kausani you move on to prose and Ranikhet is wonderfully attractive. It is a pity it plays second fiddle to Nainital because it has a rustic charm and personality of its own besides being a well developed resort. It is best to stay for a day or two here and visit Upat Kalika if you love to play golf or just saunter along forest trails. Relax in Chaubatiya Garden full of fruit trees and a research centre as well. Take a short trip to Bhalu Dam and go fishing in the waters or travel to Hairakhan Dham and visit the ashram of Hairakhan Baba.

Chaubatia Gardens, Ranikhet

Chaubatia Gardens, Ranikhet

Getting to Nainital is a breeze if you catch a flight from Delhi that lands at Pantnagar, about 72 kilometres from Nainital. Take a bus or a taxi to Nainital. You can also take a train from Delhi to Kathgodam, about 40 km from Nainital. If you would rather travel by road, there are luxury buses that take about 8 hours to reach Nainital from Delhi. Once here, you will not want to leave because Nainital has such magnetic charm.

Top 10 Tourist Destinations in Ladakh

The mystic land of Ladhak has lots to offer to a tourist. Explore its craggy topography kissing the sky, the green sprawling vales, the pellucid lakes of crystal-clear blue water and you’ll indeed feel you have arrived at a land detached from the chaos of the surrounding world. Read on to learn about Ladhak’s top 10 tourist destinations

Ladakh is a mystical and mysterious land and is meant for the discerning tourist who is jaded of the overcrowded usual tourist routes and wants to sample the exquisite untouched beauty of the land of Monasteries; Ladakh. To explore Ladakh well you need a minimum of 15 days as there are innumerable places of interest which are pretty inaccessible and require a lot of time to travel. However if you are short on time but still would like to see the principal attractions of Ladakh then the Top 10 Tourist Destinations in Ladakh are shortlisted for you.

Tourist Attractions in Leh-Ladakh

Leh Town

Leh Town

1 – Leh: The Capital town of Ladakh

You will anyway be visiting the town of Leh as the only airport in Ladakh lies here. This is an ancient mystical town full of opportunities for sightseeing and shopping. Visit the Namgyal Peak which was the victory peak for the Namgyal Monarchs who ruled over Leh for centuries. The Stok Palace and the Leh Palace are the places in which the Ladakh Monarchs used to stay. The Tsemo Gompa with its intricate paintings and huge Thangka is also an un-missable attraction of the town and so is the smaller Avalokiteshvara Monastery just below it.

The Leh Bazaar is ideal for a shopping expedition (you won’t find much of shopping opportunities in rest of Ladakh). The top buys here are silver artifacts, chunky Tibetan jewelry, Pashmina shawls, Prayer Wheels and Thangkas. Book a vehicle (preferably a Jeep) if you want to see the rest of the Ladakh well because Leh is where all tourists make conveyance arrangements too.

2 – Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh

The Pangong Tso Lake is unlike anything that you have seen in the rest of your life. For starters it’s an exhilarating but difficult journey as you have to cross the Chang La which is supposed to be the third highest motor able road in the world and you will have to climb to an altitude of 17,500 feet to reach there. The view is astounding and you will scarcely be able to put the camera away. Pangong is actually an army outpost besides which lies the huge Pangong Tso lake; the most beautiful Lake in Ladakh. If you are in Ladakh during winters then it’s possible to have a “walking on water experience as the Lake solidifies to ice. During summers you will be able to see robins, pelicans and red breasted cuckoos flying over the lake. There are an amazing range of flowers which grow right beside the lake making it an amazing experience.

Zanskar Valley

Zanskar Valley

3 – Zanskar Valley in Ladakh

Zanskar Valley is about 5 hours from Leh and its better to ride up there by car as there are lots of places of interest here. This is called the Virgin Valley because of the unspool innocence of the landscape. If you are interested in adventure sports then you will enjoy the white water rafting trip from Zanskar to Phey village.

The Bardan Gompa and the Karsha Monasteries are the two famous monasteries of Zanskar Valley. 100 different Buddha incarnations are depicted in the Karsha Monastery which is situated right besides the beautiful Doda River. Padum village with its crooked little houses with rose and apricot gardens and the lovely Khar palace is also a must see attraction here.

4 – Nubra Valley: Paradise in Ladakh

Caravans of merchants used to carry spices, silk and condiments along the famous Silk Route of which Nubra Valley was a major stop. For an authentic experience ditch your car for half an hour and hitch a ride atop the 2 humped Bactrian Camels that are found on hire there.

If you feel uncomfortable maneuvering the unnaturally high altitude and extreme temperature of Ladakh then Nubra Valley will provide you with a breath of fresh air. For starters the altitude is lower here and you will have a break from the rarified atmosphere in the rest of Ladakh. This is the most beautiful area in Ladakh and takes 5 hours by Jeep from Leh.
The Diskit Monastery is the biggest Monastery in this area with gleaming chortens, Mani walls, Thangkas and carved Tibetan inscriptions. Diskit Village has lots of shops (in case shopping fever has hit you) and plenty of good restaurants serving world cuisine.

Brokpa Villages

Brokpa Villages women with her kids

5 – Brokpa Villages of Ladakh

If anthropology and culture fascinates you then the Dha and Baigdandu Villages which are a part of the cluster of Brokpa Villages will fascinate you. Centuries ago when Alexander the Great along with his magnificent army had conquered the rest of the world before being demoralized and turning back at the frontiers of Ladakh; some soldiers of his army stayed back. The soldiers were enchanted with the loveliness of the land and being too tired to travel all the way back, they married local beauties and opened inns, pubs, bookshops and hotels here. There is complete prevalence of European culture here with dating, open relationships and independent existence being the norm. Sample the local pancakes and honey, look at the apricot and cherry orchards and see the villagers dressed up in the red feather and bead costumes dance; it’s an experience of a lifetime.

Incidentally, these villages are nearer to Srinagar Airport (5 hours) than the Leh Airport (8.5 hours).

6 – Sumur Nubra Sand Dune Park in Ladakh

Sumoor Nubra is India’s only cold desert park. It’s about -6 hours from Leh Airport and is reachable by Jeep or Volvo Bus both of which you can avail from Leh. Once you reach the Sand Dune leisure Park, make sure you attempt the Bactrian two humped camel ride across the park premises. This camel is peculiar only to this region and you will feel like a nomad experiencing the charms of the desert. Mountain climbing is done on the rocky mountain and there are opportunities of biking too. Overnight camp stay in full A.C tent with excellent food, wine, music and cultural programs is arranged by the Sumoor Nubra management.

Nubra Sand Dune Park

Nubra Sand Dune Park

7 – Uleytokpo: Monastery Village in Ladakh

Uleytekpo besides being one of the prettiest villages in Ladakh is home to 3 of Ladakh’s famous Monasteries; Alchi, Lamyaru and Rizdong. The luxury Uley Resort is situated over here which offers the last word in exotic comfort amidst picturesque surroundings.

Alchi Monastery has 4 main areas of interest; Ringchen Zangpo monument, Chortens, Dukhang (prayer hall) and Manjushri Temple. Don’t forget to visit the Mangyu, Sakymuni and Vairocana temple complex nearby. Lamyaru Monastery which is one off oldest monasteries in Ladakh shouldn’t be missed.

8 – Confluence of Zanskar and Indus Rivers

The confluence of the Zanskar and Indus River is one of the most beautiful places in Ladakh. The waters of the Indus and Zanskar are distinguishable by the different strains of blue coloring. Many adventure tours and travel organizers set up camps at this point. If you visit this place between July to September you can participate in the river rafting activities which are a thrilling experience in themselves. Fishing, Bird watching and photography are the other major activities here. Ladakh is home to more than 50 varieties of birds many of which are now endangered like Golden Eagle.

9 – Magnetic Hills in Ladakh

People from all across the world come to see the famous Magnetic Hill in Ladakh which defies gravity. Just leave the park in neutral gear and watch it climb uphill at a speed of 10 km per hour on its own. This place is the only area in the world where vehicles climb up a hill even when engine is turned off. This is because the Hill has special magnetic properties. The Magnetic Hill is 30 km away from the capital town of Leh and is one of the most curious places in Ladakh.

10 – Hemis National Park in Ladakh

Hemis National Park in Ladakh

Hemis National Park in Ladakh

The strangest thing about Ladakh is that there are no parks except the Hemis National Park which is incidentally the largest ecological reserve in India. Set in a sprawling 1290 square miles this Park leaves a beautiful impression on the mind.

Rare forms of wildlife like Snow Leopard, Tibetan Ibex, Argali and Ladakhi Urial are found here. The birds to watch out for are Lammergeier vulture, Robin Accentor, Fork Swift, Crimson billed Cock, Golden Eagle, Tibetan Snowfinch and Himalayan Griffon vulture. There are beautiful Tibetan handicraft selling shops inside Hems national Park. Another must see attraction here is the large and superbly beautiful Hemis Monastery with its ancient Thangkas and tall Buddha statues.

Top 10 Best Beaches in India

A beach side vacation has a charm of its own. The frothy waves dashing and breaking against the craggy shore or the sketchy silhouette of the sea against the backdrop of the sublime blue sky all might seem so very fascinating to you, that whenever you get a chance for vacation it is always a beach side that you choose. Our country India is dotted with many marvelous beaches for you to spend your vacation. Read on to learn more.

When you think of a holiday destination for a fun time with friends or a relaxed vacation with family then beaches are the best option. However tempting Bali or Philippines might sound to you, doesn’t be disappointed if you don’t have the budget to travel abroad for holidays. India has some awesome beaches with picture perfect scenery and a range of exciting beach activities. Sometimes it become difficult to choose the best out of so many tempting beaches…so here is some help for you!

Kovalam Beach Kerala

Kovalam Beach Kerala

1 – Kovalam Beach in Kerala

Reputed to be the most beautiful beach in India, Kovalam attracts lots of overseas tourists thus bringing in foreign currency to India. The beaches of Kovalam have whitish sand and the pristine blue waters make for a sublime sea bathing experience. There are 3 beaches all arranged in a crescent shaped structure in Kovalam. Kovalam beaches are great for sunbathing, enjoying hot oil massages and munching on sumptous sea food. Kerala is an internationally famous massage practicing state and the foreigners especially visit the Kovalam beach to enjoy traditional Ayurvedic oil massages. The lighthouse on the Kerala beach offers a magnificent view of the entire city of Kovalam and its infinite clusters of coconut groves.

2 – Kapu beach in Karnataka

Kapu beach is situated in Udipi district of Karnataka and it is known as the favorite beach for students. There is a famous lighthouse on the Kapi Bach which was built in 1900 and it is filled with inscriptions of hundreds of lovers who have tried to scribble their names into infinity. The normally placid Arabian Sea takes a vivacious avatar in the Kapu beach and you will be able to hear its hearty roars even before you actually enter the beach. The Kapu Beach is great for buying funky kinds of swimwear, artifacts made of coconut shells and sea shells. Go up to the lighthouse to click some great pictures of the surrounding town.

baga beache goa

baga beache goa

3 – Baga Beach in Goa

If you are under the age of 30 and have visited Goa then it’s highly unlikely that you have missed out on the Baga Beach. This is where those famous Bollywood sequences of Goa Parties and infamous rave parties happen. Thousands of tiny shacks line the shores of Baga beach with their wares selling everything from stuffed omlette to crazy beach wear. You will always find all types of imported and Indian liquor brands, cigarette brands and weed (not the plant!) on the beach. If you are going there during the day visit Zanzibar while St. Anthony is great for Karaoke every night. There are also some great pubs like Kamakis and Café Cape Town on the beach.

4 – New Digha Beach in West Bengal

The Bay of Bengal is way more lively than the Arabian Sea giving the beaches of Bengal a spunky twist. New Digha beach in Bengal is where people from Bengal head off too to enjoy their weekends with family and loved ones. The old Digha beach is clumsy and dirty but the Beaches of New Digha and Mandarmoni are beautiful and tranquil. You will find a lot of shopkeepers selling cashew nuts, inexpensive trinkets and sea shells on the beach. This beach is extremely crowded during weekends and public holidays. Don’t miss the curried crab and fried pomfret if you happen to visit New Digha Beach.

5 – Radhanagar Beach in Havelock Island at Andaman

Not only is the Radhanagar Beach one of the best beaches in India but some loyalists claim that it is one of the best beaches in the world. The specialty of the Radhanagar Beach on the Havelock Island is the alternative sounds of wave crashes and silence which can be heard. The waves are so perfectly timed here that between two sets of waves crashes on the shore there is perfect beautiful silence. There are thick mangroves like forests around the beach which are extremely picturesque. Elephants are found on hire for providing the tourists with elephant rides along the length and breadth of the beach. There are lovely coral souvenirs sold on the Radhanagar Beach.

Radhanagar Beach

Radhanagar Beach

6 – Mandrem Beach in North Goa

Most beaches in Goa are overtly crowded and are primarily meant for the younger generation of people who love parties. The Mandrem beach in North Goa is a welcome exception. This is one of the most peaceful and exclusive beach experiences you will have and it is almost like entering a private beach zone. You will see lots of foreigners here snorkeling ad watching the hordes of beautiful white storks that dot the beach. This is one of the best beaches for snorkeling and having a great scuba diving experience. Get a lovely underwater life guided tour on the Mandrem Beach in Goa.

7 – Murudeshwar Beach in Karnataka

Murudeshwar Beach in Karnataka has lovely white sands and beautiful blue waters. This is one beach which can give any foreign beach a run for their money. On one side there is the roaring sea and on the other side there is the stellar range of high hills which lie to the east of the beach. There is a huge statue of Shiva which is a whooping 123 feet in height and this is a must see tourist attraction. The Murudeshwar beach hosts a lot of amazing activities like Buffalo races and cock wars which are peculiar only to this beach in India.

8 – Kasaragod Beach in Kerela

Kasaragod Beach in Kerela has one of the historical monuments of India situated on its shores. The Bekal Fort is a mere 15 km away from the sea line of Kesargod beach which is why the beach is sometimes referred to as the Bekal Beach. The landmark of this beach was earlier the fierce war capital of the glorious legendary ruler Tipu Sultan. The Bekal Fort was also used as a colonial arms storage place of the British. Plantations of Palm trees along with installation of two gorgeous murals on the beach have given the beach a wonderful new look and enhanced its beauty to a great degree. To the Western side there is a circular platform that provides a mesmerizing view of the entire beach and the overlying town.

Puri Beach in Orissa

Puri Beach in Orissa

9 – Puri Beach in Orissa

Puri Beach will thrill you with its magnitude. This is not a soft romantic beach…it’s the epitome of strength and ferocity as the night sounds of Puri Beach can be heard miles around. The Puri Beach is thronged by the entire eastern part of India whenever summer vacations or Puja vacations happen as this is one of the most remarkable Holiday destinations in India. The best part of visiting this beach is that you can tour the nearby famous Jagannath temple and visit the Orissa textile centers for a round of saree and salwar kameez shopping. Silver filigree work jewelry in Orissa is also famous in case you are interested for jewelry shopping.

10 – Agonda Beach in Goa

Agonda Beach is one of the best beaches to visit if you are on a tight budget but still want to have a fabulous holiday. This wonderful beach of Goa is a lovely relaxed place with lots of decent tourist shacks available. The simplest of shacks are available for less than 500 INR. Coconut water, beer, feni and fried fish are available for very affordable rates and you can simply sit and look at the splendid sea-scape till eternity. This is one of the safest beaches in India as the waves are gentle with hardly any cases of drowning registered in the last 10 years.

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

Narkanda

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

awantipora

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
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

Kulgam

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
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.

Ganderbal

Ganderbal

Pulwama:
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.

Tral:
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:
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.

Chrar-i-Sharief:
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:
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.

Ashmuqam:
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.

Saputara

Saputara

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.