Sundarbans National Park – Eye of The Tiger

Although it is the tiger that attracts most visitors to the Sunderbans National Park, it biological diversity is one of the main reasons why UNESCO ascribed it as a World Heritage Site in 1987.

The Sunderbans, which takes its name from the once abundant sundari trees, sprawls over a huge deltaic zone – an archipelago of mangrove-riddled islands and a network of tidal rivers and creeks. India shares the Sundarbans with Bangladesh, and together it is the largest mangrove forest in the world. Of the 4,264 sq. km of mangrove forest that lies in India (wholly in West Bengal), 2,585 sq. km has been earmarked as the tiger reserve under Project Tiger. Apart from this, the Sunderbans is a National Park (1984) and a Biosphere Reserve (1989).

Sunderban Mangrove Forest

Sunderban Mangrove Forest

Today, there are several entry points into the Sundarbans, lying within a radius of 45 km to 100 km, south and south-east of Kolkata. But whether you enter through Canning (the nearest suburban railway station) or any other town, ultimately you have to take the water way. Although there is limited accommodation on land (a state tourism lodge and a handful of privately run resort-style units), one can also opt for launch cruises run by the State Tourism Department and private operators.

The Sunderbans is very different from any other forest in India. Apart from the inhabited islands, tourists are allowed to disembark only at specific islands, albeit with permission and accompanied by armed forest guards, to visit the watch towers. From the watch tower, people get a closer look at the thick forest canopy. It is not difficult to catch a sight of spotted deer, wild boar or monkeys near the waterholes but it is well-nigh impossible to spot a tiger. The Sajnekhali Island has a watch tower and a Mangrove Interpretation Center where visitors can learn about the unique biodiversity of the region.

A typical trip to the Sunderbans involves an exciting cruise along tidal rivers like the Matla or the numerous creeks. Cormorants, curlews, fishing eagle or kingfishers keep you company from time to time. The log on the mudflat that you had ignored could just be a crocodile! Tides are a common feature here and the animals have also learned to adjust accordingly.

Sunderban Tiger

Sunderban Tiger

Although one has to be extremely lucky to see a tiger here (it has the ability to merge with the russet brown vegetation), people have been rewarded with sights of tigers along the mud banks (craftily negotiating the spiky roots), or swimming across the channels. The proximity of man and wild animals makes life difficult for both, as they fight for living space and food. It is important to note that tigers here are not habitual man-eaters. The closeness has familiarized tigers with human beings. With more honey and wood gatherers, and attacks from poachers, the tiger is already fighting a losing battle. “Visitors to Sunderbans should not pin their hopes only on seeing a tiger,” remarks Tilottama Das, a former State Tourist official and a veteran guide of the region, “instead they must enjoy the unique environment and the relaxing cruise. If they get to see the tiger, they must consider it as a bonus.” As they say in the Sunderbans, ‘the tiger is always watching you, even if you may not see it.’

A word of advice
The best time to visit Sunderbans is between November and March. Most package tour operators take care of the compulsory entry permits and forest guard arrangements.

The modest government tourist lodge (in Sajnekhali Island) and a few private accommodation options are heavily booked during the peak tourist season, so advance planning is advisable.

Don’t forget to carry essentials such as a torch and batteries, sunglasses, umbrella, insect/mosquito repellents and personal medicine.

Famous Wildlife Sanctuaries in Assam

Assam Natianal Parks - Call Of The Wild

The national parks of Assam promise wildlife enthusiasts that they will not return disappointed.

Kaziranga National Park

Along the south bank of the Brahmaputra River is the Kaziranga National Park. The setting is beautiful with the national highway approaching it flanked by tea plantations and the misty Mikir Hills serving as a backdrop.

one horned rhino in kaziranga national park

One horned Rhino

The famed one-horned rhino for which this World Heritage Site is famous, provides an abundance of sightings. In fact, during the early morning safari on an elephant, you will see many of them munching on grass serenely and giving you no more importance than a glance. However, when there is a baby around, the magnificent animal can turn aggressive. For all its weight, the ‘armoured’ animal, can run very fast.

The national park, spread over 430 sq km, is arguably one of the best preservation efforts in the country with more than 2,000 rhinos, despite the toll that poaching has taken. The park had a mere 366 rhinos in 1966. Even way back in 1908, Kaziranga was declared a reserve forest with a ban on poaching due to the efforts of Lady Curzon, wife of the then British Viceroy. In 1974, it was officially declared a national park.

Kaziaranga’s pride is the abundance of the one-horned rhino. But it is also a biodiversity hotspot. Dense grasslands, beels (wetlands) and tropical evergreen forest enrich an ecosystem ideal for diverse fauna like elephants, Indian bison, swamp deer, hog deer, sloth bears, tigers, leopard cats, jungle cats, hoolock gibbons, wild boars, pythons and monitor lizards. It is also a birdwatcher’s haven with a great variety of birds and is regarded as an ‘important area’ by Bird life International.

Indian bison

Indian bison

The park is easily accessible by air (Jorhat), rail and by road from Guwahati or Jorhat. Today, apart from the forest lodge there are also excellent private resorts and guest houses around the area. Jeeps are available for fire too but nothing is more exciting than the elephant rides guided by experienced Forest Department mahouts. The park is closed between mid-April and mid-October.

The Manas National Park

The Manas National Park is also in Assam. Lcated at the foothills of Bhutan and spread over 2840 sq km, it is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, a Project Tiger Reserve, an Elephant Reserve and also a Biosphere Reserve.

The main tourist spot of Mothanguri on the northern flank is situated along the Manas River flowing in from Bhutan. The park’s lyrical beauty is legendary with sparkling water of the Manas mirroring the blue sky, orange-laden shrubs on the banks and a silence that soothes the city-laden soul in the evening. If you are lucky, on a moonlit night you can even witness herds of deer coming for a drink. Wisely, the park authorities do not allow harsh electric lights or lud music in order to preserve the tranquility of the forest.

Manas is famous for the rare golden langur, the endangered hispid hare and the elusive red panda. Rhinos were abundant too once but political unrest took a toll in between. Recently, two male rhinos were successfully trans-located from Kaziranga. For bird lovers, it is a veritable paradise. Giant hornbills fly in flocks at dawn and sundown. Then there are pheasants, jungle fowls, partridge, and a variety of water birds inhabiting the area. A boat ride on the Manas is an exhilarating experience. The best time to visit here is from November to April.

golden langur in Manas Natinal Park

Golden Langur

Even the road leading to Manas at a distance  of 176 km from Guwahati will allow you to appreciate the rural beauty of Assam with its thatched huts and bamboo bridges, women in colourful hand-woven clothes catching fish with jakoi, and the hills at the Himalayan foothills beckoning you. This is after all the land of the Red River, Blue Hills as late poet-writer Hem Barua had described the beauteous valley of Assam.

Amazing Assam

One of the best ways to discover Assam is by taking a cruise, operating on various sections of the Brahmaputra River. Here, one can enjoy the wildlife and scenic landscape of the state.

Nameri National Park at the foothills of the eastern Himalayas is home to the tiger, black bear, elephant and leopard to name a few. Among birds, the endangered white-winged wood duck needs mention.

The Jia Bhoroli River flowing by is famous for the golden Mahseer fish. An annual angling competition is organized here every November. The Eco Camp situated nearby is a popular camping site.

Visiting Places in North East India

North East India – The Seven Sisters of India

North East India clad in dense forest covers, hills and mounts kissed by the low lying clouds has a mystic beauty of its own. The springs and fountains, fauna and flora, the tribal culture, the earthiness that you get to see and feel in the North East, is indeed unique and memorable. Read on to learn more about North East India

seven sisters of india

seven sisters of india

Northeast India consists of Seven Sister States, that is, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and the Himalayan state of Sikkim which is the eastern most region of India. The countries like Nepal and Bangladesh are connected with India through a narrow corridor of east India. It also comprises with various international borders like China in the north, Bhutan in the North West and Myanmar in the east. The total population of this area is 38,857,769. The total area of this north east India is 262,230 sq.km. In North East India, there are various local languages like Assamese, Bengali, Garo, Khasi, Kokborok, Bodo, Mizo, Manipuri, Sikkimese, Nepali etc. The basic religions in this area are Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Sanamahism.

This North East region is geographically consisted with Eastern Himalayas, North East Hills like Patkai Naga Hills and Lushai Hills and the river Brahmaputra and the Barak valley plains. Besides all these, the bio diversity of this area should be highlighted because there are 51 forest types are found which classified into six major types like tropical semi evergreen forests, tropical moist deciduous forests, tropical wet evergreen forests, subtropical forests, temperate forests and alpine forests which are highly attractive for any visitor or traveller. For an adventurist, the hills, the forests and the living creatures are undoubtedly the most attractive things because there are 1500 endangered floral species. The Indo Burma Hotspot in north East India is the world’s second largest just after the Mediterranean basin.

The Reserve Forests for the Jungle lovers

In the North East India, there are a multiple number of reserve parks like Namdapha National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Pobitora Wild Life Sanctuary, Orang National Park, Sephijola Wild Life Sanctuary, Keibul Lamjao National Park etc.

Namdapha National Park is the largest national park of the North East India. It is situated in Arunachal Pradesh and it spreads over an area of 1985 square kilometers. In the ecosystem of this park, there are more than 150 species of timber. Besides this, there are some rare fauna species like Abies Delavavi, Blue Vanda, Pinus Merkusi and Mishimi Teeta. Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Snow Leopard are reserved here in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh. Besides these, Assamese macaque, stump tailed macaque, Hoolock gibbon are the important primates. Mammals like elephant, Indian Bison, deer and Asian black bear and the birds like white winged wood duck, great Indian hornbill, pheasant, Jungle fowl etc. are also in the center of attraction for the tourists.

Namdapha National Park

Namdapha National Park

Kaziranga National Park is situated in the bank of the river Brahmaputra, Assam. It considers as the home to the world’s largest population of Great Indian one horned rhinoceros. Besides the rhinoceros, it is the living place of leopard, swamp deer, barking deer, hog deer, wild boar, wild water buffalo, golden langur, capped langur, otter, grey headed fish eagle, pygmy hog, crested serpent eagle, swamp patridge, Bengal florican, pelican, black necked stork, egret heron, rock python, monitor lizards and many more.

Manas National Park is declared as a world heritage by UNESCO. Here the Assam Government is basically concentrated on the reservation of the elephants. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, in Morigaon, Assam is commonly famous for Great Indian one horned rhinoceros. Orang National Park is also known as Mini Kaziranga. Besides one horned rhinoceros, there are Asiatic elephant, Royal Bengal Tiger, civet, hare and porcupines etc. Sepahijola National Park is woodland with an artificial lake and is boasted with the unique bespectacled monkey. It is situated in Tripura. Keibul Lamjao National Park in Imphal, Manipur has Loktak Lake, the largest fresh water lake in India.

Lakes

North-East India comprises of a number lakes and water bodies which have become tourist attractions. The lakes of Assam are Deepor Bill, Chanubi Lake, Son Beel are quiet famous. The other lakes are Chapanala Lake, Bardoibaam Beel and Bordoibaam. Deepor Beel is in Kamrup district of Assam. It is a fresh water lake and is one of the largest beels in Assam. The lake surroundings have ample amount of flora and fauna. The water plants and animals also contribute to become a part of the habitat if the area. Around the Chandubi Lake are deep forest and tea gardens. Migratory birds flock the lake during winter. The best time to visit the lake is during November to May. Son Beel is situated in the Karimganj district of Assam. It is one of the largest wetland of Assam. During the winter season crops like rice are cultivated in the area and from March the field becomes covered with water to turn into a lake. The lake is famous for fishing.

Umiam Lake is the famous lake in Shillong in Meghalaya. Sports and adventure activities like boating, scooting, water cycling and kayaking are famous in this lake. Loktak Lake is the largest fresh water lake in India. There are several floating islands on this lake. In Mizoram, Palak Dil and Tam Dil are considered as the most beautiful lakes. Sikkim has lakes that are famous tourist spots. Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes of the world. It is situated in northern part of Sikkim. The Khecheopalri Lake is considered as a sacred lake. On the way to the monastery there is a monastery and the place is the cult of Buddhism. Lake Tsongmo and Lake Cholam are the other important lakes of Sikkim.

Umiam Lake

Umiam Lake

States to Visit for

Assam is the central state of North East India. The main urban and biggest city in North India is Guwahati located in Assam. The important tourist spots of Guwahati are Kamakhya Temple, Shankardev Kalakhetra, Assam state zoo, Umananda Temple etc. Besides these, in the outskirts of the city, Sonapur, Madan Kamdev, Chandubi Lakeis also famous. Majuli is the largest fresh water island on the river Brahmaputra. This place is actually famous for its Vaishnavite Satras. Jatinga is a place which is famous for mysterious suicide spot of the birds. Dibrugarh is regarded as the tea capital of the world. Tinsukia, Haflong, Hajo, Sivsagar, Jorhat, Sonitpur etc. are also very attractive place to visit.

Meghalaya is the most pleasant tourist spot of North East India. Shillong is the center of the state where a lot of interesting places are situated. Elephant Falls, Wards Lake, Lady Hydari Park, Motphran, Shillong Peak, Captain Williamson Sangma State Museum, Don Bosco Centre for indigenous Cultures, Entomological museum, Air Force Museum, Chrysalis gallery, Spread Eagle Falls, Sweet Falls are the main attraction. Shillong Golf Course is the largest Golf course in Asia is located here. Besides the shilling, Cherrapunji is the most famous place to visit. Cherrapunji is best known for the maximum raining city in the world. Mawsynram is also awesome for its landscape. Mawlynnong is the cleanest village of Asia where a multiple tree root bridges are located. Mawswamoin Cave is the one of the most attractive place to visit. Seven Sisters falls and the border of Bangladesh in Cherrapunji is another splendid beauty of North East India.

Cherrapunji

Cherrapunji

Aizawl is the capital of Mizoram. Mizoram state museum, Champhai, Rih dil, Murlen national Park, Thenzawl, Lunglei etc are the places to visit in Mizoram. The Hill Stations like Hmuifang Tlang and Reiek Tlang represent the scenic beauty of Mizoram while Vantawng Falls is another beauty of the state. Palak Dil and Tam Dil are the lakes which add an extra beauty to the city.

Manipur is very rich for its cultural activities like martial arts, dance, theatre and sculptor. The floating islands at Loktak Lake, Sangai etc. are the rare thing found in Manipur. Kaina is hill station of Manipur which is regarded as a sacred place for the people of Hindu religion. Keibul Lamjao National Park is the home of Manipur’s eco-tourism. The famous picnic spot Sadu Chiru which is also known as Leiram water fall is situated here.

Arunachal Pradesh is myth logically an important state. It is regarded that Lord Krishna’s wife Rukmini lived here and in the Purana Lake, Parshuram washed his sins. Besides these facts, Tawang is a town consists of multiple number of Buddhist Monastery. Tezpur, Bomdila, Namdapha, Itanagar etc. are the places to visit. In the state capital, the Jawaharlal Nehru Museum has become the important spot for tourists.

In Nagaland, Dimapur and Kohima are the most important cities. The World war cemetery, State Museum, Ruins of the Medieval Kachari Kingdom, Rangpahar Reserve Forset etc. are the main attraction of the cities. Besides these, Longleng is a paradise for adventurers. Mokokchung, Mon, Peren, Phek, Tuensang, Kiphire etc. are also the cities to visit.
In Tripura, the cities like Agartala, Deotamura, Kumarghat etc. consist of a various number of tourist spots. The rock cut images, pineapple cultivation fields, Unnakoti Tirtha, Damboor Lake, Jampui hill; Pilak etc. are the most famous place.

Sikkim is one of the best tourist spot not only in North East India but also in India. Nathu La pass which is the corridor between China and India is the most important and attractive tourist spot. Rumtek Monastery, Pemayangtse Monastery and the Phodong Monastery are the most sacred place for the Buddhist. Gurudongmar Lake and Khecheopalri Lake create the most beautiful scenic beauty of Sikkim. Yumthang valley is a mesmerizing beauty of the hills. Zemu Glacier is one of the most prolific attractions of the Sikkim. Hanuman Tok is another pious place for the people of Hindu religion. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is a place where the students earn the knowledge of Buddhism and Buddhist mythologies.

Sikkim, Beauty lies at doorstep

Sikkim is one of the fond tourist destinations due its splendid awe-inspiring mountainous views, the fresh rhododendrons bushes, firs and deodars, mighty waterfalls, monasteries and gumfas that will ever keep your camera busy. Read on to learn more about the Sikkim Tourist Places.

The panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains makes Sikkim a beauty that soothes the eye of the beholder. The flowery meadows and the peaceful environment of Sikkim attract tourists. Sikkim is crowned by Mt. Khanchendzonga which is the third highest mountain in the world. The winters are magnificent with snow and the summers are pleasant. The simple lifestyle and culture of the people gives a special effect to Sikkim. It comprises a total area of 7,096 km with its capital Gangtok.

Gangtok

Gangtok

The name “Sukkim” is given by Nepalese which means “the new place” while the Bhutias call it “Demazong” that signifies paddy fields. The original inhabitants of Sikkim are the Lepchas who consider the place as the “abode of the Gods” naming it Nye-mae-el-lang. Teesta river accompanies Sikkim which is a tributary of the Brahmaputra River. The south of Sikkim has West Bengal. Sikkim is the best way to discover Eastern Himalayas. With travelling as hobby and a small duration of travel Sikkim suits the schedule.one does not need a lot of planning. When there is no pre planned schedule and there is sudden urge to go for a holiday to relax from the busy humdrum life the choice of Sikkim will never go wrong.

How to Reach Sikkim

The nearest stations are New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. There are also buses that take the tourists to NJP station and from there one can get buses or rented cars to different parts of Sikkim. The nearest airport of Sikkim is the Bagdogra Airport in North Bengal which is 124 kms from Gangtok.

Sikkim Tourists Places

North Sikkim

Chungthan lies at the emerging point of the river Teesta.The joining point of the two passes Lachen and Lachung is Chungthan. The place is well known as it consideredbeing the place where the Holy Guru Ihedu has left his mark. There are different kinds of orchids, plants and wildlife making it a place rich in bio-diversity.

Singiek is the best place to have the view of the mountain peak of Khangchendzonga. The surrounding hills have natural trails that take around 3 days to travel to the higher lands.

Kabi Lungtsok is a region that is 17 kms from Gangtok. It has a historical significance. The place is marked as the place of treaty of brotherhood between Bhutia Chief Khey-Bum-Sar and Lepcha Chief Te-Kung-Tek. There is stone pillar surrounded by dense forests.

yumthang valley

Yumthung is the place for nature lovers. Its 140 kms elevated from Gangtok. The scenery is simply magnificent with flora and fauna.”Tsa-Chu” is a hot spring which is considered to have the power of healing and curing. The valley gets covered with rhododendron in the season of May. Nearby is the village Lachung is a quiet place to stay which has untold beauty of lifestyle. From Lachung one can travel to Yumesadong or the Zero Point. The temperature is very low and the altitude very high. The place is covered in snow and sometimes people faces problems of breathing due to the high altitude. The other places are Mangan, Gurudongmar Lake, Kabi and Singhik.

South Sikkim

Namtse, the headquarters of the south district of Sikkim is magnificent for the snow-capped mountain peaks and the beautiful valleys. The word Namtse means sky high and the place suits the name because of its elevated height of 5500 ft. the place is 78kms from Gangtok.

Tendong Hill is forest area with full of greenery. The place is peaceful and from the top of the Tendong Hill one can view the Himalayan ranges. One can trek through this area to proceed towards Namtse. The place is suitable for trekking all over the year but monsoon is a little problematic due to the overgrowing leaches.

Ravangla is situated at the base of Maenam Hill. It is a small peaceful town to stay. It is also a transit point for trekkers. There are nature trails along which one can reach the “Shar Chok Bhepu” which is a sacred cave.

The other notable places at South Sikkim are the Maenam Hill, Borong, Jorethang and Varsey which can be visited through trekking. Varsey has a rhododendron sanctuary. There are also several Buddhist monasteries.The Temi Tea garden is located in south Sikkim. Another Religious place worth visits is the Chardham that comprises all the important temples all over India.

West Sikkim

Pelling is the urban settlement in Pelling. The town is divided into upper Pelling and Lower Pelling. The Pemayangtse Monastery is near to Pelling.

The Khecheopalri Lake is a holy lake for the Buddhist with a monastery. The lake has wide variety of fishes. Any interested tourist can stay in the trekker hut available there which is known as the Pilgrim Hut. Dentam is a village situated in West Sikkim. The place is surrounded by floral beauty of rhododendrons. Trekking and Mountaineering are available here. Sombaria is an ideal place for birdwatching. Rangit River flows through this area. Rinchenpong in the western part of Sikkim is famous for its beautiful sunrise and sunset points over the mountains. The area has rich forests covering the area with flora and fauna. It also has a historic value.

barsey rhododendron sanctuary

barsey rhododendron sanctuary

Other places to visit in west Sikkim are Soreng, Varsey, Gyalshing, Legship, Tashiding, Uttarey, Yuksam and HeeBermoik.

East Sikkim

There is the directorate of Handicraft and Handloom where traditional arts and craft works are available. The workers make everything with their hand. The handloom and the handmade carpets, shawls and blankets are worth a buy. The visiting hours are Monday to Saqturday-9.30 to 12.30 and 1pm to 3pm. The flower festival is also famous in the area. During spring there is variety of orchids that colours the valley and flower shows are organised. These shows are organisednear the White Hall. The White Hall is a British Made building made in 1932. It is a two storeyed building made in the memory of Claude White, the First Political Officer of Sikkim. A badminton court is there inside the premises of The White Hall.

Above Gangtok there is a Ridge Garden where there is Mintogang, an official residence. It is beautifully decorated with a pagoda roof top and a Palace Gate., The decoration depicts the Tibetan Architecture.

There is stupa named Do-Drul Chorten built in 1945. This is one of the most important stupas of Sikkim. There are 108 prayer wheels. These prayer wheels are turned to worship Buddhisattva.

The Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology is the ideal place to find the rare manuscripts of the Lepcha and the Tibetan community. It is a renowned institute all over the world. It is open every day of the year from 10am to 4pm.

The Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre built in 1960 is traditional in its design. It contains several religious art objects. The Tashi view point is one of the best view points to enjoy the view of Mt Khangchendzonga and Mt. Siniolchu. If one loves bird watching Then Ganesh Tok is the right place to visit. There is a cafeteria to accompany the watchers with snacks and coffee. Another 11 kms from Gangtok one can visit the religious ground of Hanuman Tok which is temple for the Hindus.

Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 51.76 sq.km. Several ferns and wild orchids are found along with rhododendrons, oak, bamboo, kimbu and katus. There are also a large variety of wild animals and the best time to visit is from October to April.

Nathula Pass

Nathula Pass

One can also visit the famous Changu Lake, Rumtek monastery, and the Nathula Pass. From the Nathula Pass one can see the old Silk Route and a slice of the Great Wall of China.

Things to Remember

A guide is any essential for travel in the different places over Sikkim. As it is a hilly area it is advisable to be safe during monsoons. Lakes and streams should not be polluted. Photography should be done that does not disturb the local habitat. While circling the shrines it should be kept in mind to move it in clockwise directions. The antiques and endangered plants or things should not be taken without permission. The place is for scenic beauty. Anymalpractices will spoil the beauty of the place. Smoking, drinking and talking loudly is prohibited in religiousplaces. The rules are to be followed respecting the culture and heritage. Plants and Flowers are a part of the nature. It suits to be in nature rather than the hands of visitors. Devour its beauty not its presence.

Tour Cost
The cost of the tour varies as per the facilities availed by visitors. A family of four for a standard tour will have to spent Rs19700, whereas the deluxe is at Rs24700, super deluxe at Rs 28500, luxury at Rs 39800 and premium at Rs 52700. Hotels are also availableaccordingly. Child below 5 years is complementary. The tour plan of 10 nights and 11 days will cover most of the places of Sikkim but for a little more one can easily add few more days. Spring, summer and monsoon are the time for Religious tours, conference tourism, wellness tourism, village tourism, eco and wildlife tourism and adventure tourism while winter is the perfect time for the snow peaked mountains and to enjoy the festivals of the place Sikkim. For trekking purposes one has to take the permit from the Tourism and Civil Aviation Issues Protected Area Permit (PAP) at Gangtok. This is only necessary if the trekking group has one or more foreigners. All these procedure are taken care of if the tourists contact a registered travel agency.

Arabian Holidays in Kerala – Explore The Kerala Tourist Places

Kerala with its back waters, the coconut trees lining the water bodies, beaches, the typical house boats, the historic temple towns, beautiful hill stations, wildlife sanctuaries has lots to offer to a tourist. Visit the lush green mesmerizing Kerala and get your senses, your vision touched by an exotic feel that refreshes you thoroughly. The tourist places of Kerala will appeal to any vacationer. Read on to learn more.

Kerala is one of the most unique destinations off India and is known as The God’s Own Country. The climate of the place is suitable for holidays all through the year. It has a shoreline that stretches to long distance with its beautiful beaches. There are lush hill stations and the exotic lifestyle at Kerala that makes it more enchanting. The cuisine is different with charming destinations all over. Kerala is known for its hundred per cent literacy rate. It has the best health care facilities and considered as India’s Cleanest State. The state has 14 districts and tourism is the main attraction here.

kerala

The normal range of temperature is about 28-32C while the winter is slight cold. It is one of the most developed states with high quality life. The literacy rate of women is highest in Asia. The Arabian Sea is in the West and has a network of forty- four rivers. The nearest airports are the Thiruvanthapuram International Airport, Cochin International Airport and The Calicut International Airport.

The destinations are categorized as follows:- Backwater; Hills; Beaches; Monuments; Forts and Palaces; Museums; Picnic Spots; Pilgrims; wildlife; waterfalls; places of interest and others.

Backwater

Alappuzha is the canal cruise for spending time in the country boat. All the daily lifestyle is maintained in this canal. Different Kinds of houseboats are available here. The canal is linked with Vembanad Lake. During the ride in the boat one can enjoy the sight of paddy fields and birds catching fishes from the canal. There are also several islands where fishing takes place. There are villages in the banks where one can visit to taste the cuisine of the state. Alappuzha- Kochi cruise is an exotic journey in a royal houseboat in the backwater of Vembanad Lake. The cool breeze and the serene sunlight will relax you to the core.

Alumkadavu, Kollam is the place where houseboats are built. The boats are beautifully crafted by the people of the village. The boats are made of natural products like coconut fibre, bamboo poles and wood. The place is famous for manufacturing coir products.

Ashtamudi is another backwater that has eight channels and thus the name is derived. It has houseboat cruises. The lake is the second largest lake in Kerala and ittakes eight long hours to enjoy theentire journey on the lake.

Chandragiri Fort and River is situated in the middle of the Arabian Sea and the Paswani River. The fort was builtby Sivappa Naik of Bedanore. The place is good to see the sunset and the festival Pattu Utsavam is celebrated here.
Chitrahari is a beautiful island and can be availed only through boats. Kavvayi is a backwater famous for its flora and fauna. There are also some islands and it has the biggest wetland in north Kerala.

kerala backwaters

Kumarakom is a village in the Kuttanad region. There is a bird sanctuary located here where several migratory birds like Siberian Storks along with wild duck, cuckoo, waterfowls, teals, herons, darters and egrets are available. There is also the Taj Garden Retreat which is bungalow resort having facilities of fishing and boating.

There are also backwater lakes like Kumbalangi, Kuttnad- the rice bowl of Kerala, Mannanam and the Marine drive which is a famous hangout spot.

Beaches

Kolvi Palam Beach at Payyoli ha golden stretches of sand and the water are shallow. This area of the sea is suitable for swimming. Turtles are found in the beaches. There is anature conservation centre to protect the turtles named Theeram. One of the most peaceful beaches that usually no tourists avail is the Kizhunna Beach which is 11km from Kannur. Cherai Beach in Kochi is situated in the north of the Vypeen Island. Swimming takes place in this beach. Sometimesdolphins are seen and the beach has thick coconut trees surrounded. Chowara beach is famous for fishing. The ancient Analothbhava Matha Church is located here. Kasaragod in the Northern district of Kerala has the fort beach. It is the most exotic beach in Kerala. The other beaches for visit are Alappuzha Beach, Beypore in Kozhikode, Chavakkad Beach at Thrissur, Kanwatheertha Beach at Kosaragod, Kappil Beach and Backwaters and Kappil Beach at Kasaragod.

Forts and Palaces

Padmanabhapuram palace is the wooden place in Kanyakumari. It depicts the rich art and architecture of Travancore. There is teak and rose wood carved ceilings with floral designs, Royal chairs having Chinese carvings, mica windows and mahogany musical bows. These are 17th and 18th century works. The durbar Hall of the place is made by mixing river sand, charcoal, burnt coconut, jiggery lime and egg white to produce the shiny black colour. The place is simply magnificent and its beauty spreads all over the palace.The enormous teak beams and the paintings and the Belgium glass give the palace a royal look.

Nilambur Kovilakam, Mallapuram is a residence of the rulers. The palace is famous for its beautiful frescoes. The artwork is also noteworthy. Nearby is the Vettakkorukam temple on the grounds of Nilambur Royal Family.

The Bekal Fort is in Kasaragod and is the best preserved fort in Kerala. From the top of the fort one can have the view of the Arabian Sea. There are canons from different centuries in the fort. The fort has international importance and is the shooting spot of several movies.

Kerala Forts and Palaces

Anjengo fort in Varkala is in the Anjengo seacoast which signifies five coconut trees. It is an old British fort and is now under National Heritage Movements.

The several other forts and palaces for visit are the Bastion Bungalow in Fort Kochi, Chandragiri Fort and River, Kilimanoor Palace, Koyikkal Palace at Thiruvanthapuram, Krishnapuram Dutch Palace, Mattancherry Dutch Palace, Poonjar place at Kottayam and Pierce Leslie Bungalow at Fort Kochi.

Hills Stations

Ilaveezhapoonchira is the place for trekking with the beautiful clear water lakes.The uniqueness is that the valley does not have any tree.

Devikulam Hills in Munnar has velvety lawns on the mountain. There are varieties of flora and fauna. Nearby is the SitaDeviLake having mineral water. The lake is also used for fishing.

The Chembra Peak is located in the southern part of Wayanad. It is famous for trekking and it is the tallest peak. Over the peak is a heart shaped lake that never dries.

Grampi is located near Peerumedu which is also known as the eagle rock. There are plantations of cardamom, tea and coffee on the roads of Grampi.

The other hilly areas of visit are Echo Point in Munnar, Edakkal caves, Charalkunnu, Agasthyakoodam, Amrithamedu, Dhoni in Palakkad, Gavi, Iringal at Kozhikode, Jatayupara at Chadayamangalam, Kundala, Kuttikanyam, Madayipara in Kannur, Munnar, Mattupetty in Munnar, Nadukani, Nilimala View Point, Nilakurinji bloom, Pattumala in Iddupi, Neliyampathy hills in Palakkad and many more.

Kerala Hill Station

Monuments

Monuments like Bizhinjan rock cut cave at Thiruvananthapuram, the Dutch cemetery, Bekal fort and the secretariat at Thiruvananthapuram are the famous monuments in Kerala.

Museums

The Ambalavayal heritage museum at Wayanadstores the collection of second century A.D. The museum consists of clay sculptors, curios, stone weapons, bows and arrows.

Tea museum at Munnar is the place that preserves exquisite varieties of tea. Tata tea started the museum at Nallathanni estate. Visitors can learn about the various stages of tea processing in the museum.

The other museums of Kerala are Water museum and bio park, Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda museum, Thunchan memorial at Tirur, Thakazhi museum, Peak museum at Nilambur, Sreechithra enclave, Revi Karuna Karan memorial museum, Police museum at Kollam, Pazhassi Raja museum and art gallery, Arakkal kettu museum at Kannur, Archaeological museum at Thrissur, Hill Palace museum, Indi Portuguese museum, Keralam, Koyikkal palace, Krishnapuram palace, Kuthiramalika palace museum, Maritime museum at Kochi, Museum of Kerala history and Napier museum.

Wildlife

Kerala is the home of several wild animals and birds. Several sanctuaries like Aralam wild life sanctuary, Begur wild life sanctuary, Chinnini dam and sanctuary, Kinnar wild life sanctuary, Peravikulam National park, Idukki wild life sanctuary, Kadalumdi Birds Sanctuary, Kumarakam Birds Sanctuary, Muthanga wild life sanctuary and many others are such reserve parks plays a pivotal role in conserving the flora and fauna of Kerala.

Water Falls

Kerala is beautified by the various water falls like Adyanpara water falls, Iseeyappara and Balara water falls, Dhoni, Kanthanpara water falls, Palaruviwaterfalls and many more.

Pilgrim Centre

Kerala has different culture and religious belief. There are temples as well as churches. Temples like Achankovil Temple in Kollam, Alapra, Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple, Ananthapura Lake Temple in Kasaragod, Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, Arattupuzha Temple, Ariankavu in Kollam, Arthunkal Church, Bathery Jain temple, Chakkulathukavu Sree bhagavathy Temple, Champakulam Church, Chavara Bhavan, Chengannur Mahadeva Temple, Chendamangalam Synagogue, Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kodungalloor and many more.

Kerala Culture

Culture

Kerala is famous for its festivals, magnificent destination for traveller. The place is also famous for the rich Ayurveda tradition and herbal medicine. The food habit of Kerala and the treatment have become a significant part of Kerala’s life style. The rejuvenation therapy is famous in Kerala as it flashes out the toxic elements from the body. Keralahas grown immensely due to tourism and has achieved global importance. Tourism has helped Kerala in generating employment and to earn revenues to foreign exchange. This has helped in facilitating the overall development of Kerala.

As the national geographic travel states Kerala stands among the ten paradises of the world. Kerala has different types of tourist packages, Honey-Moon packages, Kerala Destinations and many more. Munnar is world famous for Honey-Moon. House boats are unforgettable and integral part of Kerala. The accommodation facilities are of various types to suit the taste of the guest. There are Jungle resource, farm house, house boat, and hotel. There is also the facility of enjoying the life style of village and Kerala culturein home stays. Kerala is highly attractive for itsritual art like Arjuna Nrityam, Kalamezhuthu, Kavadiyattam, Margomkali, Mudiyettu, Paana, Patayani, Poothanumthirayum, Theeyattu, Theyyam, Tholppavakkoothu etc. Onam is their main harvest festival. During Onam, Kerala’s biggest celebration, the people create pookkalam, a kind floral carpet which designs in front of their houses. Besides the religious customs, the people of Kerala have five classical dance forms like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Krishnanattam, koodiyattom and Thullal. With the temple culture of the region, there are other dance forms like Padayani, kaliyattam, Theyyam and many more. Kerala tourism has introduced various packages for the travellers all over the world. The Tur Package of Kerala comprises of 4 nights and 5 days. The standard package for a family comes around Rs 12000. Excellent package of Honey moon starts from Rs 18000 per couple. The Kerala tourism has got best National Tourism Award by Government of India in the yearof 2009-10. Undoubtedly, Kerala is the most extraordinary place for the travellers. The green beauty and the transparent water life are really appealing to everyone.

Cuisine

Rice is the staple food of Kerala and the diet is different from the rest of India. As it is a seaside non veg foods like fishes and prawns are famous. Kerala does not have prejudices related to food. That is due to the education level prevailing in Kerala. The ample use of coconut is found in food. All form of coconut suchas the powder;paste, coconut milk, and oil are found in the cuisine. There are lavish spices like chillies, ginger, cloves, cardamom and pepper in the food makes the hood spicy hot.

Vegetarian foods are also famous in festival days, especially during Onam. Vegetables like onions, garlic, ginger and beet root are found in different food items. The cuisine is divided into four basic styles depending on the ingredients- Central Kerala, Southern Travancore, Central Travancore and Malabar.

One of the most famous foods of Kerala is the Sadhya which consists of several items such as the olan which is a dish of pumpkin, kottukari, istew, mezhukkupuratty, erissery, pachadi, kichiadi, thoran, kaalan, injipulee and avail. All the items make the grand Sadhya. Sambar and parippu along with Aachar is also served with food. Sweets like Adas, Kozhikode halwa; Kozhukkatta, Pazham-pori and Unniapam are famous in Kerala.

With all the cultures, scenic beauty, and grandeur of Kerala as it becomes one of the most attractive locations. It attracts tourists not only from India but also abroad all throughout the year.

Corbett National Park, The Safari Adventure

Enjoy the thrill of visiting Jim Corbett National Park, one of the most famed wildlife sanctuaries of India. Jim Corbett National Park is famous even worldwide because of the many endangered species of animals it preserves therein. A Jungle Safari of the Park would be a real memorable experience for any visitor. Read on to learn more about Jim Corbett National Park

Everyone loves travelling. Visiting places of adventure is just not travelling but a little more for wander thirsts. India with its rich heritage and diversity has never disappointed travellers and thus India remains the tourist hub almost all around the year. Wildlife lovers never forget to allot in their schedule Corbett National Park which is one of the oldest national parks and the first Tiger Reserve of India. Established in 1936 it is situated in Ramnagar that falls under two districts- Nainital and Pauri of Uttarakhand.

Corbett National Park

In the foothills of the Himalayas lies the wildlife area of Corbett National Park. Corbett National Park has been famous as the home of endangered Bengal Tiger. Earlier it was named Hailey National Park but after the influence of Jim Corbett in establishment of the park his name was given to the park. The wildlife and the scenic beauty capture thousands of tourists every year. It extends through a large area of 521 sq. km along with Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary which comprises the entire Corbett National Park of 1288 sq.km. Corbett is the destination of several animals with a wide variety of flora and fauna and birds. The park has taken complete responsibility of preserving the gifts of nature.

Through the Pages of History

Several areas of the park were under Tehri Garhwal. A Terai tribe named Boksas resided in the place and started their own cultivation. But after the control of the British Raj the tribes were driven away from ths land. The British officer Major Ramsay took effort to protect the forest area. During 1900 the land was suggested to establish a reserve park by several British officers like E.A. Smythies and E. R. Stevans. It came into being in 1936 under the governor Sir Malcolm Hailey from which its first name came. Later in 1954 bit was renamed as Ramganga National Park but finally the name was changed again in 1966 after the name of the author and wildlife conservationist Jim Corbett. In the year 1973 Jim Corbett National Park was selected as the venue of a project named PROJECT TIGER. It is one of the biggest projects launched by all the wildlife preservationist and naturalist from different parts of the world.

To Begin the Journey

The nearest railway station to Corbett National Park is Ramnagar station which is 12 kms away from the park. Trains like Ranikhet Express and Kumaon Express halts at Ramnagar but one can easily opt for a more memorable journey through roadways. State government buses are available from Delhi, Haldwani, and Moradabad to Ramnagar. The Park has been divided into five tourism zones namely- Bijrani whose gate is at Amadanda; Dhikala having gate at Dhangari; Jhirna whose gate is at Khara, Kalagarh; Domunda has gate at Durgadevi; Sonanadi has its gate at Vatanvasa.

Travel in the Park

The entry fees for a day visit in different zones are Rs100/- for Indian and Rs 450/- for Foreigners. The vehicle fee ranges from Rs 250/- to 1500 depending on the weight of the vehicle. The charge of commercial photography is Rs 500 for Indian and Rs 1500 for foreigners. For an elephant ride in the park for 2 hours the tariff is Rs 300 for each Indian and Rs 1500 for foreigner each. For the elephant safari one has to pay Rs 3000/- and for the Ramganga conducted tour the tariff is Rs 1000/- for Indian and Rs 2000/- for foreigner.

Flora and Fauna

The park is the home of several varieties of animals and plants.There are around 488 species of different plants. There are mountainsand differentforests all over the park. Herbs, tress, bamboos, climbers, grasses and ferns cover the flora. Tress like Sal, Khair, Sissoo, Pine and Oak are seen all around the park during travel. Different palm trees are also available in plenty such as the Date, Kanju, Jamun, and Amla. Other significant trees are Teak, Eucalyptus, Jacaranda, Bottle brush, Silver Oak, Bel, Kusum, Mahua and Bakil.Flowering plants like Kachnaar, Semal, Dhak, Madaar and Amaltas colours the park with their vibrant beauty.

Corbett Flora and Fauna

The tiger has the greatest influence on the Corbett and is famous worldwide through the writings of Jim Corbett. Tigers are found in a different area from the other animals as they prefer solitude. But the female Tiger is seen with her cub. Tigers maintain a home range that is quiet distant from another tiger. Male tigers keep a distance of around 60-100 sq. km and females keep a distance of 20 sq.km whilechoosing their homes. Both of the sexes protect their own territory. They mark their territory with claw marks, urine and gland secretions on tress. As the number of tigers have declined the attack on humans have declined. Only when a tiger is too old to catch any other prey or is injured they prefer man eating. Other than the famous Bengal tiger there are animals like Elephant, Chital, Nilgai, Sambar Deer, King Cobra, Gharial, Flying Fox, Common Musk Shrew, Hedgehog, Wild Boar, Muntjac and Indian Pangolin. There are also birds of around 600 species. During the winter the variety of birds increases due to migration from countries of East Africa, Europe and Central Asia. Himalayan birds also flock in the area to escape from the snow up in the high ranges of Himalayas. The splendid landscapes and the well protected areas in the foothills of the Himalayas attract tourists. It is an ideal place for any animal lover, bird watcher, angler or an adventure freak.

The habitat of such a huge variety of plants and animals could not grow without the river Ramganga. It supports the lifestyle in the park. The tributaries of Ramganga- Sonanadi, Mandal and Pailan are the significantwater producers. Ramganga is rain-fed river with water all over the year. Ramganga emerges in Marchula which is 100km before Corbett. During its rum Ramganga joins with Palain, Mandal and Sonanadi rivers. Due to the rivers there are a wide variety of aquatic animals like crocodiles and a variety of fishes.There are few seasonal streams inside the park. These are named sota locally. The animals of the park depend on thee for drinking water. The several sots are Garjia, Dhara, Jhirna, Kothirao, Laldhang and Paterpani. These sots are surrounded by thick shrubs and bamboo clumps which becomes the shelter of tigers.

Zones Covered – Places to Visit

Jhirna- This zone is ideal for bird viewing. The place is also the home of wild elephants, sloth bear and the Great Hornbill. Other animals like nilgai, cheetal, sambhar and the wild boar are found in this zone. The rest house available in the Jhirna zone is Jhirna in the southern boundary of the park in the Shiwalik landscape.

Bijrani - this zone of the forest has dominant Sal trees and other mixed forests of three major grasslands. The area is perfect for tiger viewing with curved jungle roads. The water availability is plenty and thus builds wide vegetation of tropical moist,deciduous mixed forests in the area. The rest houses in Bijrani zone are Malani and Bijrani.

Dhikala - this zone offers the greatest variety. The area is ideal for overnight stay. Animals like Ghoral- the great antelope, Maggars and Gharials. The exclusive is the Hog Deer. Accommodation facilities are available in this area. The rest houses available in this zone are Sarapduli, Sultan, Gairal, Khinnanauli and Kanda.

Durga Devi – this zone is well known for fishing and bird watching. This area is in the north east part of Corbett. Birds like Litlle Fortail, GreatHeaded Fishing Eagle, Maroon Orile and many more are found. Rivers Ramganga and Mandal in this area attracts leopards, elephants and tigers.

Sonanadi - this area is resided in the centre of the park and offers a wide range of flora and fauna. Around 550 species of birds along with, tiger, leopard, cheetal, sambhar and other reptiles are found in this zone. The rest houses in this zone are Lohachaur in the northern part, Rathuadhab in the forest road and Halduparao between Palain and Sonanadi rivers.

corbett falls

Accommodation

Advance booking is required for residing in the Dhikala forest House. As the accommodation area limited the service is available as per as first-come-get basis. The rooms are available for two persons each night. There are also accommodation facilities in tents, mud huts/ standard rooms, camp cottages and many other stay options.

Time of Visit

The park remains closed from mid-June to mid-November due to monsoon. During the summer that is from March to June the temperature reaches 40C and the heat is quiet scorching for animals as well as tourists. During monsoon that is from July to September there is heavy rainfall. The weather is pleasant and the tourist can avail a journey through the Jhirna Gate that remains open all throughout the year. During winters that starts from December till February the temperature is varying from 5C to 30C. Fog covers during the morning. The winter time of November to February is ideal for visit for the winter birds. The weather remains pleasant that attracts a large number of tourists at this time of the year.

Do’s and Don’ts
  • The necessary permits for entering the park should be taken following all the procedures.
  • A guide who will help to travel across the park to avoid unwanted hazards of losing tracks inside the reserved forests.
  • The mode of transportation should be such that it should not disturb the animals. A slow journey will give one enough time to devour the scenic beauty.
  • One should follow the exact tracks made for travel. Taking unknown routes might disturb the normal course of animals and can be dangerous as well.
  • A safe distance should be maintained from the animals.
  • To avoid making harsh sounds that might disturb the animals. Keep in mind not to turn off the music system in the vehicle one is travelling.
  • Bright colours and perfumes should be avoided. Animals get distracted by bright lights. Colours that mix well with colour of the forest should be worn.
  • Carrying a gun or pistol is prohibited. Photography is allowed.
  • No fire should be lit in the forest. It I good to avoid smoke in the area of wild animals.
  • Be cautious of the places that one can come down from the vehicle. All places are not safe for walking.
  • Do not pollute the forest area with any kind of litter or packets. Keep the area clean.
  • Non-veg and alcohol is prohibited inside the park.
  • Binoculars are must if one does not want to lose the precious sights of the park.
  • Talking should be avoided as much as possible to enjoy the sound of the nature.
  • Smoking is against the law and creates disturbance to the wild animals.
  • During photography it is asked to avoid the flash. The harsh light of the flash will blind the sensitive eyes of animals making them restless.
  • During winter one should carry warm clothes as the temperatures falls during the night. In the summer one should carry hats and dark glasses. Mosquito repellents are necessary. Drinking lots of water is necessary to avoid dehydration.
  • One should not be visiting Corbett only for tigers as they are shy animals and do not come out in sight very often. Other exclusive animals are also worth watch.
  • Obey the instructions of guide and do not go too close to animals.
  • It is advisable to not to feed the animals. Human foods are not suitable for animals and feeding the animals with those foods can cause serious gum injury and bleeding.
  • Do not excite animals. Do not chase them to change their position. Using camera lights direct into their eyes is threat prone to animals.
  • Circling around the animal in a group is dangerous.
  • Children should be taken care of and not allowed to come close to animals. The size of children can be misunderstood by the animals as their prey.
Things to carry
  • Permits of hotel and resort booking.
  • Id proof
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Jacket
  • Rope
  • Torch and spare batteries
  • Sun cream
  • Gloves
  • Extra pair socks
  • Pocket Knife
  • Quick eatables, snacks and water
  • Binoculars
  • Hat or cap
  • Full Sleeve Shirts

Shimla, Himachal Pradesh – The Queen of Hill Stations

The capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh in India, Shimla is also a highly popular destinations and its temples, fairs, festivals and numerous attractions draw a lot of tourists from all parts of India and even abroad. Sightseeing, shopping, trekking, ice skating and roller skating are some of the most important activities in the place. Read on to learn more in details about Shimla tourism and culture.

Shimla, also referred to as Shimla, is the capital of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is an extremely famous holiday destination for the summer months. It is famous for its Victorian architecture, which is reflected in some spots of The Ridge and the Mall. For honeymooners, it is a popular holiday spot. There are various theories associated to the origin of term Shimla. Local people insist that the place gets its name from Shyamali Devi – who is a fierce reincarnation of the mighty Goddess Kali.

shimla train

Shimla Train

Tourist Places in Shimla

Shimla boasts of quite a few tourist spots that are visited by thousands of tourists every year. Take a look at a few of them.

The Ridge of Shimla This is a huge platform with an open space that allows you to enjoy a panoramic view of the peaks of Shimla. The mountain ranges, capped with snow, are extremely beautiful and offer a terrific view to the crowd and thousands of tourists who come to the place every year.

Christ Church It is one of the ancient churches located in North India. The British built the church in 1857 in order to provide a place for worship to the huge Anglo-British community residing in the region. The church was constructed in the Neo-Gothic style and is one of the long-lasting remnants of British legacy in India. It is one of the most recognized landmarks of Shimla.

Himachal State Museum & Library It is situated 2.5 km to the west of the scandal point. The museum opens every day, apart from public holidays and Mondays. The place has got a vast collection of coins, paintings, photographs and ancient historical sculptures and various other things from all over Himachal Pradesh as well as beyond. There is also a great library in the museum where you can come across many old manuscripts and historical books. You can visit the museum from 10-5 every day in the mornings and afternoons.

The Mall The majority of the landmarks of Shimla are located in this place. There is the statue of the great freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai standing at this spot. The main shopping center of Shimla is located at this spot along with various restaurants. You can find it especially great in the evenings when the lights and views are perfect. There is also the Gaiety Theatre which is a recreation of an ancient British theatre and is the hub of cultural events.

Jakhu Temple This is an old temple that is dedicated in honor of Lord Hanuman, one of the most important deities in India. It is located 2.5 kms away from the Ridge, on Jakhoo Hill, and the temple offers scenic view of the adjacent town of Sanjauli and the Shivalik Mountains.

Jakhu Temple

Jakhu Temple

Shimla State Museum It is home to a vast collection of exquisite coins, sculptures, photos and paintings among man other things from all across Himachal Pradesh as well as from other states. The state museum holds a lot of interest in the Mall area of Shimla. It has been erected as a colonial edifice in Shimla with sprawling lawns spread in all directions. In 1974, this museum was inaugurated.

Local Culture of Shimla

The culture of Shimla is a reflection of the life and traditions of the hill residents of the place. Shimla is situated on the lofty Himalayan ranges and has been left untouched by globalization and commercialization. When compared to the other regions of India, it stands in contrast and has still managed to retain its ancient charm. The culture of the place is an example of the perfect balance between modern thoughts and traditional values. Shimla boasts of a unique rural and traditional cultural heritage.

Many of the native residents of Shimla depend on agriculture for their livelihood. You can also find cattle rearing to be one of the main ways to earn a decent income. The residents of Shimla, mainly the poor ones, live in tiny huts with slated roofs. Each unit of the many villages of Shimla comprises of its own shop as well as other necessities and facilities. In these villages, you can find festivals and fairs being organized every now and then.

  1. Lifestyle: The patter of living of most of the residents of Shimla is still agrarian. Livestock and agriculture are two of the main occupations of the residents of the place.
  2. Art and Craft: The handicrafts of the people of Shimla are one of the main displays of its culture. You can take a look at Kohana and Thapada, two embroidery styles and items of bamboo that are made by the Dom tribe. Other than this, you can also get unmatched stone, wood and metal crafting in Shimla.
  3. Fairs and Festivals: Festivals and fairs are two of the most important parts of the life and culture of the people of Shimla. You can visit any of these and soak in the enjoyment and charm of the city at the time of celebrations. Shivaratri, International Folk Festival, Ice Skating Carnival and Summer and Winter festivals are some of the primary attractions of Shimla.
  4. Food and Music: Bada/Poldu and Baadi/Ghaunda are two of the most famous recipes of the city. You will find the tribal music in Shimla to be extremely popular. You can find instruments like Manjara, Ektara, Chimta and Jhanjh to be used by musicians and singers here.
  5. Dance: Rasa Dance, Kayang Dance and the Dance of the Demon – also referred to as the Rakshasa Dance – are the main forms of dance in this region.
  6. Language: The official language of the place is Hindi. The people here mostly use a hilly language known as Pahari among other dialects.
  7. Traditional Clothes: The residents of this place mainly wear Juan Chadiyan, a long knee length gown, and other garments such as Salwar, Kameez and Kurta. These dresses are an integral part of the culture of Shimla.

Best Time to Visit Shimla

Shimla is situated on the lower ranges of the Himalayas and experiences extremes of climatic conditions. It is located at an altitude of 2213 meters above the sea level. Quite naturally, the city experiences different climatic conditions. Shimla experiences pleasant climate all through the year. However it goes through a very cold winter. You can find the temperatures dropping here to sub-zero all through the peak winter days. It is the best time to visit the city from March to May and from October to November. It is recommended that you do not visit the place during the monsoon months as the region suffers a number of landslides at this time. You can find the roads to be very slippery at this time and you should not go out at these times.

You can also check out Shimla during the winter season. At this time, the hill station is witness to a lot of snowfall and tourists come to the place in December to take part in the revelries of Christmas and New Year. Although it can be quite difficult to move around when it snow, you can find it very enjoyable to play with snow with your friends and loved ones and enjoy a great vacation.

Shimla in Winter

Shimla in Winter

The tourist seasons of Shimla are basically divided into two periods, first is the period from April to August and December to January is another period. As Shimla generally has a very favorable climate, thousands of tourists come to the place from various parts of India as well as abroad.

The summer season in Shimla is extremely pleasant. It is a major season for tourists and many people love to come to the grand hill resorts of the place to get relief from the extreme heat of the plain areas. At the time of summer, people may require wearing light woolen clothes in order to remain in the best of health.

In Shimla, the temperature changes from 28 degree C maximum to 15 degree C minimum. It is the weather of Shimla that makes it a perfect tourist destination at the time of summer.

Activities in Shimla

Picnic in the woods and walking tours are some of the main activities to enjoy outdoors in Shimla. If you are a shopaholic, you can spend a lot of time at the Mall. There are various churches, ancient temples, old colonial structures and markets that can occupy your time.

You can visit the Kamna Devi temple, which is located atop the Prospect Hill. You may also visit the popular Viceregal Lodge on the Observatory Hill which is historically very important. You can reach the place by walking through oak and rhododendron forests at a leisurely pace.

If you wish to experience a lovely sunrise, you can climb atop the Jakhoo Hill which is home to the old Christ Church and the Hanuman Temple. You can make a trek through the mountains that surround Shimla and take pleasures in the scenic views and the fresh mountain air. You may also take part in fun activities like roller skating and ice-skating in the region that draw huge crowds every year.

Things to do in Jammu & Kashmir

Kashmir provides numerous sightseeing opportunities to visiting tourists with its local handicrafts, sceneries that are unparalleled in their world for beauty, historical and religious places of interest and many other interesting things. Learn about the top 10 things you can do here to make the most of your trip to Kashmir.

Kashmir, situated in the north-western part of India, is a state that is loved and visited by tourists from all over the country and even from abroad. The place boasts of awesome scenic attractions, excellent places of interest including religious and historical spots, mouthwatering dishes, amazing handicrafts and numerous fun activities to take part in. If you are planning to visit the place anytime soon, you can check the top 10 things to do in Kashmir enumerated here.

photography in kashmir

photography in kashmir

1. Go capturing photographs!
If you are a budding photographer, Kashmir will undoubtedly provide a range of opportunities to you. You can click photos of various sceneries and places of interests in Kashmir for your own personal collection. For a decent price, you may also sell some of these to the newspapers, magazines or websites back home. You may even use them to spice up a travel blog that you might have. Make sure, however, that you keep a local guide who can inform you about which places to capture in your lenses. Local people may not like some religious places to be clicked on. Offending sensibilities may land you in trouble.

2. Explore the wildlife!
The wildlife of Kashmir present a sight to behold! You can find many birds visiting the Dal and the Pari Lakes. Eastern Ladakh, Gharana and Surinsar are frequented by many birds. Apart from 500 varieties of birds, you can also find marmots, wild boars, jackals, Sharpu, Bharal, Tahr, Serow, Nilgai Antelope, Tibetan Antelope and the Yak among many other varieties of wild animals.

3. Take a bike ride
You can rent a bike and set off on a road trip to see these things and make a stop now and then to enjoy the beauty of nature from close quarters. A bike ride can be a great idea if you love to go off the beaten track.

bike ride

bike ride

4. Visit the monasteries
The local monasteries are something that you should not miss. The Alchi, Thiksey, Hemis and Cave monasteries are some of the most renowned ones in Jammu and Kashmir. While visiting them, take care to dress appropriately and take permission of the monks before clicking photos. Do not smoke, drink or talk loudly inside the monasteries. Women should take permission before entering the prayer rooms.

5. Indulge in window-shopping
The floating market in Dal Market presents tourists with the unique opportunity to window shop for items like handicrafts, apparels, carpets, shawls and many other things. If you are a shopaholic, you will love to buy from the floating market while taking a ride in a shikara (boat).

6. Engage in a snowball fight!
If you are visiting Kashmir in the winter season, you can definitely expect snow as most places in the area have sub-zero temperatures in the chilly months of December and January. You can take part in a snow fight with your loved ones and even throw snow balls to strangers who are willing.

7. Climb the snow-capped peaks
The winter season also provides you with the opportunity to climb the snow-capped peaks in the vicinity. Make sure that you take a local guide along and wear enough woolens and proper hunting boots to have a firm grip while climbing. However, try this only if you are fit and healthy enough. If you are going to the place to recover your health, it is best not to try such things.

Mountaineering

Mountaineering

8. Get photographed in Kashmiri attire
Many tourists love to rent Kashmiri attire from Sonegaon, Pahelgaon and Gulmarg and get them photographed. These dresses are usually full length, traditional attires of Kashmir and you will love to be transformed into a Kashmiri local for a few minutes and treasure the photo for an entire lifetime.

9. Go swimming!
If you are visiting Kashmir in the summer months, you can go swimming in the Nagin Lake. It is a part of the famous Dal Lake and is connected to it by a narrow causeway. Swimming in this lake is ideal as the water is not much deep here and the crowd is thin. It is located 2.5 kms away from the middle of the city.

10. Make a video blog
You can easily capture videos of yourself at various places of interest and describe their significance to make a great video blog. With some ads on the blog, you will even be able to recover the travelling expenses.

Travel Tips for Travelling in Uttarakhand

Want to make a trip to Uttarakhand? Nestled in the majestic Himalayan foothills, Uttarakhand attracts travelers from far and wide because of spiritual glory as also of its scenic beauty and panoramic mountainous views. To get the best travel tips to Uttarakhand, you need to go through this article

The base of the Himalayas is known as Uttarkhand and this region is adjacent to Nepal and Tibet at two sides. Uttarkhand is famous for its untouched pristine loveliness. There are two main divisions of Uttarkhand; Gharwal (northern part) and Kumaon (Southern part) of Uttarkhand. There is an eclectic mix of ancient religious places, lush jungles, wild life parks, trekking trails and an abundance of fresh natural beauty. However these are a few things that you should know about before you finalize your travel ternary for Uttarkhand.

winter in Uttarakhand

winter in Uttarakhand

Climate in Uttarkhand
Uttarkhand is a place that sees a lot of tourist traffic both in the summer and winter months. However just as a visit to the lower regions of Uttarkhand is advisable in the winter, the higher areas are best visited in the summer. Uttarkhand has extreme climate with a lot of temperature variation between day and night. A few areas like Rishikesh and Haridwar are very dry so lots of fluids should be consumed in order to combat the effects of dehydration. It’s advisable to wear loose free flowing cotton clothes if you are going for a day out in the summers.

The winter season in Uttarkhand is quite cold and the season lasts from October to March. Snowfall is quite common especially in the upper regions of Uttarkhand. Tourists are advised to pack in their woolens if they make a plan to explore Uttarkhand in the winters.

The rainy season is not a very pleasant phase in Uttarkhand as the hilly parts are particularly prone to landslides. It’s best to avoid the monsoons when making your plans for visiting Uttarkhand.

Top Places to Visit in Uttarkhand

Jim Corbett National Park: A trip to Jim Corbett national park should be on your agenda if you plan on visiting Nainital…one of the best tourist destinations of Nainital. The famous hunter, writer and ecological conservationist Jim Corbett has this park named after him. You can explore the sanctuary perched on the top of an elephant or sitting in an open air jeep to see the exotic flora and fauna of the place. If you are lucky you may sight wild elephants or tigers.

Haridwar: This is counted amongst one of the most religious places in Uttarkhand. This place is right there at the foothills of the mountains and t is the favorite destination for all Hindu pilgrims. A dip in the holy Ganges which originates from the Himalayas is said to wash away all sins. The evening aarti of Haridwar is of special interest as it is one of the most spiritually uplifting experiences of Hinduism. Thousands of gleaming lighted diyas are floated on Ganges with the musical symphony of religious chants in the background.

Valley of Flowers: More than 300 different varieties of flowers bloom in the Gharwal region of Uttarkhand. Perhaps this is why a national park named valley of flowers is situated there. This is one of the best trekking destinations of India as the carpet of flamboyant colors against the snowy backdrop of Himalaya makes for a mesmerizing experience.

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

Nainital: This is a hilly town in the Southern part of Uttarkhand i.e. The Kumaon area. This was the favorite summer retreat of British colonial officers in Pre Independence times. Nainital still remains of the top hill stations in India in terms of tourist value. The Naini lake in Nainital is famous for its beauty while the Mall road is a great destination for shopaholics. Boating, horse riding, paragliding and skiing are the top sports activities in Nainital.

Rishikesh: (the yoga center of India) and Char Dham (source of 4 holy rivers are two other major tourist attractions in Uttarkhand.

Travel in Uttarkhand
Railways are the most important means of conveyance in Uttarkhand. Most states are well connected to Uttarkhand via the railway network. The routes have been developed in a way so that passengers can appreciate the unique raw beauty of Uttarkhand while travelling. The last terminal of the broad gauze line of the North eastern line of Rail is the Kathgodam station. Trains run from Nainital to Delhi, Howrah, Mathura and dehradun. Lalkua station and Haldwani station are two other stations of Uttarkhand.

Many people also prefer traveling by car to Uttarkhand so that they can enjoy the beautiful scenic beauty of the place.

  1. The major trains which run in Uttarkhand are as follows
  2. Ranikhet Express – Kathgodam station to New Delhi station
  3. Bagh express- Kathgodam station to Howrah station
  4. Uttaranchal Sampark Kranti Express- Kathgodam station to Delhi station
  5. Nainital Express- Lalkua station to Lucknow station
  6. Kumaon Express- Lalkua station to Mathura station

Religious Places of Uttarakhand

The abode of gods is dotted with one place after another each with mythical and religious connotations. Uttarakhand is the sacred destination that Hindus must visit at least once in their life time, if not for all the places, at least for the four holiest of holy places: Chardham.

The abode of Gods, Uttaranchal, abounds in places associated with legends, myths, spiritualism and spirituality. Located in the North, Uttarakhand nestles in the lap of the mighty Himalayas towering in majestic splendour at one side, playful rivers gamboling down to undulating slopes of the countryside on their journey to the seas. You have forests and valleys, deep perilous gorges and everywhere you go, you come across temples and holy places. Traversing the land itself gives you a sense of spiritual fulfillment. Chardham tour comprises of visit to Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath, a pilgrimage that is a rite of passage for all devout Hindus. Some may prefer pilgrimage to the Panch Kedars, or abodes of Shiva, Kedarnath, Tungnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Rudranath and Kalpeshwar. Others may be more interested in the Panch Badris made up of Badrinath, Adi Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Vridh Badri and Yogdhyan Badri. While you undertake any of these pilgrimages you will want to take a trip to Kailash Mansarovar, Haridwar, Hemkund Sahib and Devprayag.

Haridwar – Gateway to Gods
The journey undoubtedly starts at the gateway to Gods, Haridwar, the holiest of the holy places where a dip in the Ganges at Har Ki Pauri washes away all Sins and prepares you for your onward pilgrimage to even more sacred abodes of the Gods. Haridwar is referred to as Gangadwar and Mokshadwar, made sacred as Garuda let fall a drop of nectar he was carrying to the Gods.

badrinath

badrinath

Chardham
Hindus may not be able to visit the original Chardham spread in the four corners of India but they surely undertake a trip to Chardham in Uttarakhand comprised of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. A pilgrimage washes away sins and frees you from the unending cycle of birth and death. The first place to visit is Yamunotri, the source of the River Yamunotri where a temple is dedicated to Maa Yamuna. It involves a 6 km trek from Hanuman Chatti or 4 km from Janki Chatti. From here pilgrims move on to Gangotri at a height of 3048 meters for a darshan of Maa Ganga at the famous temple here. It is said Ganga, in all her playfulness descended to Earth unaware of the havoc she would cause and Shiv, knowing this, received her in her matted locks. The River Bhagirath has its source here. You go on to Kedarnath at a height of about 3584 meters, one of the Jyotirlingas of Shiva. A small temple dedicated to the Lord sits next to the Mandakini River. The last stop is Badrinath to worship Lord Vishnu at his shrine next to the Alaknanda River. These places are accessible only during the summer months of May to September end.

Panch Kedar
Shiv Bhakts or devotees of Shiv can focus exclusively on visiting Shiv temples in Uttarakhand, the most famous of which is Kedarnath, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India. Tungnath is next. The temple here is the highest of Shiv temples and is located in Rudraprayag at a height of 3680 meters near Chandrashila mountain. The temple is believed to be over 1000 years old and has connection going back to the times of the Mahabharata. Rudranath in the Garhwal region, is another Shiv temple at a height of 3600 meters, the outstanding feature of which is that here devotees worship him in the form of Nilkantha Mahadev. Madhyamaheshwar comes next on the pilgrimage. At a height of 3497 meters, the temple’s notable feature is focus on the belly of Nandi as a manifestation of Shiva. This temple too has links to Pandavas of Mahabharata fame. Last in line is Kalpeshwar at a height of 2200 meters in the Urgam Valley, again linked to Mahabharata. Here devotees worship the jata or locks of Lord Shiva, a reason why he is known as Jatadhari here. Apart from these five dhams, devotees also make it a point to visit Jageshwar, the site of a number of ancient Shiv temples.

yogdhyan badri

yogdhyan badri

Sapta Badri
Devotees of Lord Vishnu make a beeline for the famous Badri temples in Uttarakhand of which there are seven with people usually visiting five. The famous five are Badrinath topping the list, Adi Badri, Vridh Badri, Dhyan Badri, Ardh Badri, Bhavishya Badri and Yogdhyan Badri. Devotees start at the most famous temple of Lord Vishnu at Badrinath in Chamoli, said to have been established by Adi Shankar, depicting Vishnu in the form of Nar-Narayan. Adi Badri is where it is believed Lord Vishnu resided in Satyug, Treta yug and Dwapar yug after which he shifted residence to Badrinath. Adi, here means ancient and it is believed Ved Vyasa wrote the Maha Purana at this place. Vridh Badri is in Animath village where it is said that Lord Vishnu made his appearance as an old man and the temple also depicts him as an aged deity. Dhyan Badri is on the banks of the Alaknanda River near Helang Chatti, with a black stone temple showing the Lord lost deep in thought or dhyana. Ardha Badri is rather remote, on the Joshimath Tapovan road, with a small idol due to which it is known as Ardh or half Badri. Bhavishya Badri is interesting in that legend states that two mountains near Badrinath will become one in the future and that the Lord Badri will be worshipped only at this place. Yogdhyan temple is where King Pandu meditated on Lord Vishnu hence this name.

Panch Prayag
Hinduism is not just about worshipping idols as the physical manifestation of God in his various forms; it is also about elements of Nature. It is believed that where there is a confluence of rivers, the place becomes sacred and Hindus have always worshipped such confluence. In Uttarakhand you will find five such sacred confluences, starting with Vishnuprayag. Vishnuprayag is the confluence of Alaknanda with Dhauliganga. Alaknanda itself joins with Saraswati River before joining the Dhauliganga and it is believed that Narada worshipped Vishnu at this place where you find a temple dedicated to Vishnu. Nandaprayag is where Nandakini meets the Alaknanda in the Garhwar region. King Nanda offered oblations to God and was blessed with a son to his wife Yashoda, in the form of Lord Krishna whose idol graces the temple. Karna Prayag is the confluence of Pindar and Alaknanda below Nanda Devi hills, a place where Karna of Mahabharata prayed to the Sun God and was granted his wishes. Hence the name and pilgrims can still see a stone seat where it is belied Karna carried out penance. The temple here has deities of Uma Devi, Parvati and Ganesh in addition to that of Karna. Rudraprayag is next, the place where Mandakini meets Alaknanda and is named after Rudra, meaning destroyer, another name for Lord Shiva, It is said Shiv performed the Tandava dance here, played the Rudra veena, enticed Lord Vishnu and transformed him to water. The temple has idols of Shiv in the form of Rudra and Chamunda maa here. Devprayag is the last, the place where Bhagirathi joins the Alaknanda, equivalent to the Triveni at Allahabad as regards holiness of the place.

Rishikesh
Rishikesh may not be as important as Haridwar or have the aura of piety as the various Dhams have but it is a uniquely spiritual town, home to Rushis and Munis since ages. Even today the city has the largest number of yogashrams in the country and is a place of pilgrimage in its own right.

Baijnath Temple Bageshwar

Baijnath Temple Bageshwar

Baijnath
Baijnath in Bageshwar has a temple dedicated to Lord Vaidyanath, another manifestation of Lord Shiv.

When you talk of Uttarakhand pilgrimage, you can never leave out Hemkund Sahib, one of the holiest pilgrimage places for Sikhs. Located in Chamoli, it has a gurudwara dedicated to Guru Gobind Ji, the tenth Guru.

These are by no means the only holy places in Uttarakhand. Visit the various lakes and you will come across ancient temples with rich past going back into time. Uttarakhand is timeless. The wheels of progress march on but since millennia pilgrims have trodden difficult paths, worn down stones and endured hardships in a never ending worship of the Lord in all his glorious manifestations.