Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Most Scenic train Journeys in India

Indian Railways which is the largest railway network in the world carrying 30 million passengers and joining 65,000 km, is not only known for its unique numbers but also for the diversity it offers to the tourists. Getting on a train is perhaps the easiest and most economical way to discover hidden cultures, unexplored regions and experience the country’s myriad offerings. There are numerous train journeys in India, which are already famous for uniqueness. Listed below are some of the lesser known yet exotic train journeys that you should not miss on your holidays in India. 

Qazigund-Srinagar-Baramulla Route, Kashmir
Kashmir Traverse – The Kashmir railway has been a very challenging engineering project in India, due to the high altitudes and unfavourable terrains. The verdant beauty coupled with landscape sceneries make it one of the most exotic train holidays in India. The Jammu-Udhampur train route passed through 20 major tunnels and 158 bridges which offers eye pleasing scenic beauty to the tourists. The train route Qazigund-Srinagar-Baramulla is part of the greater Kashmir railways and promises the tourists with best of sceneries. During the winters the region is covered with snow thus increasing the beauty of these train journey multi-folds. 

Kangra Valley Route, Himachal
Kangra Valley Stretch – Starting from Pathankot in Punjab till Jogindernagar in Himachal Pradesh, the Kangra valley railways is part of sub- Himalayan region and is the only unreserved operational train in this route. A laid back 165 km ride from Pathankot to Jogindernagar takes 10 hours and tourists are greeted with the best of natural splendors with the white peaks of Dhauladhar in the backdrop. It is among the list of tentative UNESCO world heritage site and one of the two railways that run in Himachal Pradesh. 

Konkan Train Route, Maharashtra/Karnataka
Konkan Delight – The Konkan rain journey which takes the route Ratnagiri-Madgaon-Honnavar-Mangalore is a perfect route for any railway enthusiast planning a trip from Mumbai. Passing though charming greenery, numerous water bodies, striking curves and the Shayadri Mountains, this is truly a journey to remember. Running along the Konkan coast from Mumbai to Mangalore, it travels a total distance of 741 km. The hostile loose terrains with frequent landslide tendency make the Konkan train route one of the most difficult and ambitious engineering projects in the country. 
Train Crossing Dudh Sagar Falls
Goan Voyage – While Goa holidays is famous all over the world for its beaches and water delight, very few know about the enchanting way that tourists can reach Goa. The blockbuster film ‘Chennai Express’, put this scenic train route on the spot. On this route tourists will travel through thick jungles, green villages and numerous waterfalls. Hop on the train from Vasco and travel on this route to see vast stretches of unexplored beaches and cross the might and exquisite waterfall, Dudh Sagar.
Dooars Odyssey – The experience of travelling on routes less explored is truly amazing. One of such route is the Siliguri-New mal-Hasimara-Alipurdua route which takes the tourists across the dense jungles, towering hills and numerous streams and waterfalls. The fascinating diversity of the route will take your breath away. Some of the places which tourists can sight on this route are – Mahananda wildlife sanctuary, Chapramari forest, Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary and Buxa tiger reserve. The Assam rail routes covering Guwahati-Lumdin-Silchar is another scenic trail journey in North East India. 

Araku Valley Train Route, AP
Araku Express – If history and culture is your thing, then this is a not to be missed train journey in South India tours. A rare broad gauge hill railway in India, this train is the best way to travel to Araku Valley from Vishakhapatnam where the train slowly chugs tourists through numerous caves and waterfalls. 

Chambal Saunter – The ravines of Chambal have much more to offer than the horrifying stories of dacoits, murder and robbery. Take the train from Agra to Gwalior that passes through this deserted terrain. A trip across Chambal is a delightful experience that will excite, enthral and entice you. 

Koraput to Rayagada Route, Orissa
Orissa Tribal Tours – With downhill depths and horseshoe curves, the Orissa tribal route which is also known as KR line takes tourists from Koraput to Rayagada. The journey begins from Koraput which is at 800 mts above sea level and ends at Rayagada which is at just 200 mts and take the tourists through thick forests and undulating landscape. 
Chilika Lake Tour – The Chilika Lake tour is a must indulge for those planning a holiday in Orissa. Tourists can take the morning train from Bhubaneshwar to Brahmapur to experience the grandiose of this lake. With the lake on one side and Eastern Ghats on the right, this journey will take your breath away. 

Some of the other lesser known train journeys in India are - Shindavane and Ambale on Pune-Satar route, Gir safari on Junagarh-Delvada route, Aravalli on Himmatnagar – Udaipur or Mavli – Marwar route, Dhone and Cumbum on the Guntakal – Guntur route, Punalur to Sengottai on Kollam-Punalur-Sengottai route, the backwater tours on Ernakulam-Kollam-Trivandrum route and the sea bridge ride on Mandapam- Pamban- Rameswaram.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Enchanting Unknown Monsoon Destinations in India

Breaking the mythical shackles that monsoon is not a good time holiday; we bring to your some of the most exotic and lesser known monsoon destinations in India that will take your breath away.

Cherrapunji, Shillong
Bundi – Whoever told you that Rajasthan is only a winter destination has not been to this beautiful region during the monsoon. Bundi is a small historical town around 200 km from Jaipur and during the monsoon the charm of the forts, palaces and step wells increases a lot. You can also extend you holiday by taking up Bharatpur tours to enjoy bird watching.

Panhala – Located in Kolhapur district and far from the glisten of the city lays this quaint hill station which is popular for its historical forts and invigorating ambiance. Just 20 km from Kolhapur, it can be conveniently visited by taking Maharashtra tour packages. Numerous caves, temples and more than 300 varieties of flowering plants can be enjoyed here. 

Lansdowne, Uttaranchal
Lansdowne – Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Lansdowne is a charming unexplored destination in Uttaranchal. A popular place to holiday in monsoon, it is also a perfect place for a romantic honeymoon in Uttaranchal. The town is surrounded by thick pine and oak forest and the views of the Himalayas along with fresh and unpolluted ambiance during the monsoon, makes it one of the most ethereal places to holiday in India. 

Kakkabe – If you thought that Kerala is the only place for a monsoon holiday feast, then do not miss a trip to Kakkabe. Located just 250 km from Bangalore, numerous packages from Bangalore to Kakkabe are available. A part of Coorg district, the monsoons brings out the best of natural beauty of this hill station. A trekker’s paradise, there are numerous heritage as well religious attractions available to keep the tourists engaged.

Kakkabe, Karnataka
Netarhat – Around 95 km from the Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi is Netrahat, which is a popular hill station famous for its crystalline rock formations. Covered with thick forest, the hill station is home to varieties of avian species. A few waterfalls along with spectacular sunrise and sunset views are the major attractions here. 

Ranikhet – When dark cloud hover the skies, the greenery at Ranikhet blooms to it best. Monsoon is one of the most romantic times to visit Ranikhet and numerous honeymoon tours to Ranikhet are available. The proximity of Ranikhet from Nainital and Delhi makes it a cool choice for a quick holiday. 

Dhanaulti – Very close to Dehradun, yet very far from the hustle and bustle of the city lays the picturesque hill station of Dhanaulti which a popular place to holiday in Uttaranchal. When the monsoon sets in and the air becomes cooler and crisper, Dhanaulti becomes the haven for those seeking natural bliss.  Set within lush alpine forests of Pine, Deodar, Rhododendron and Oak trees, this is a perfect relaxing destination. Chakrata is another monsoon destination close to Dehradun.

Dhanaulti, Uttaranchal
Kumily – A part of Thekkady and situated on the border of Kerala and Thekkady, Kumily is magical during monsoons. If you are sucker for misty hills surrounded by thick jungles with animals in their natural habitat, then this is the place to be. Boating and trekking during monsoons in Kumily will be a wonderful experience on your Kerala holiday tours in Kumily. 
Orchha, MP
Orrcha – When the splitter-spatter of rain urges you to hit the road and get one with nature, take a trip to Orchha. This temple town in Madhya Pradesh transforms itself into an uber cool destination during the monsoon making it ideal for adventure aficionados. The dry and dull scenery at the Orchha wildlife sanctuary suddenly becomes alive and chirping of birds reverberates through the air. Fishing, river rafting, canoeing, boating, trekking, camping and jungle trekking and hiking opportunities are available during monsoon.

Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra
Malshej Ghat – This rainy season think beyond Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar and head to Malshej ghat. A fascinating tourist destination with rejuvenating climate, lush greenery, cascading waterfall and endless opportunities for adventure and activities, Malshej Ghat is truly divine during the monsoon. You can reach Malshej Ghat by taking packages from Mumbai or Pune.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Top Secret Destinations in India

Looking for a holiday beyond the contemporary and want to explore the destinations which have managed to remain camouflaged from the travel spotlight? Take a look at some of the top secret destination and enjoy a ‘never before’ holiday experience in India.

Simlipal National Park
Simlipal – The national park of Simlipal in Orissa is one of the lesser known attractions but offer plentiful things to astound the tourists. An elephant reserve and previous hunting ground for the royal family, today Simlipal offers great opportunities of trekking and jungle safari. The park serves home to 99 royal Bengal tigers and 432 wild elephants along with numerous varieties of fauna and flora. The best time to visit is from 1 October to 15 June. You can reach Simlipal by taking a trip to Bhubaneshwar which is 300 km away. 

Kaas Plateau – Most of you have seen or even heard of the enchanting Valley of flowers in Uttaranchal, but have you heard of Maharashtra’s ‘Valley of Flower’? Take up Maharashtra tour packages to visit Kaas Plateau around 22 km from Satara. Also known as ‘Kaas Pathar’, it has been declared as Biodiversity World Heritage Site by The UNESCO and is surrounded by dense forest. The place has more than 850 different species of flowers and during the month of August and September colourful flowers blanket the whole region, giving a visual treat to the onlookers.

Kaas Plateau
Dholavira – If are a history buff then you cannot afford to miss a visit to Dholavira. An archaeological site in Kutch district in Gujarat and contains ruins of the historical Indus valley civilization and is one of the five largest Harappan sites. The town is 278 km the capital of Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and you can enjoy a trip to Dholavira on your holidays in Ahmedabad

Udaygiri & Khandagiri Caves – Another hidden gem in Orissa, the Udaygiri and Khandagiri caves near Bhubaneshwar are part natural and part artificial caves of archaeological, historical and religious importance. Located on the hills of the same name, the Udaygiri hill has 18 caves while Khandagiri cave has 15 caves that tourists can explore. These caves are best visited from the months of October to March and are just 7.5 km from Bhubaneshwar. 

Horsley Hills – A small hill station in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Horsley hill is just 160 km from Bangalore, which makes it a popular choice for those planning a weekend trip from Bangalore. Since it is a small place there is not much to do but enjoy the panorama. A wildlife sanctuary and a temple are a few things tourists can explore here. The road to the hills is very narrow with beautiful surroundings and a trip to Horsley hills is perfect for those planning a quick getaway to relieve their minds and senses.

Horsley Hills
Majuli – An outlandish island in the delta of Brahmaputra River in Assam, Majuli is a heavenly delight for those looking for exoticism of nature. Considered as one of the largest fresh water islands in South East Asia and among the biggest river islands in the world, Majuli is accessible only by taking boat rides. The scenic beauty is spectacular and awe-inspiring and it is a must visit place for those planning a holiday in North East India.

Tarkali beach – Another delight of Maharashtra, Tarkali beach is an isolated beach in the Sindhudurg district. The beach is approximately 100 km from Goa and can be easily visited on your Goa vacations. Beside the numerous forts, temples and heritage attractions, here adventure options like snorkelling, scuba diving, boating and water rafting can also be enjoyed. 

Tarkali Beach

Lepchajagat – A small forest village, Lepchajagat is just 13 km from Darjeeling but still has not been explored much. Surrounded by hilly forests of rhododendron, pine and oak the village can be explored on your trip to Darjeeling. Numerous forest bungalows run by the West Bengal government are available for those planning an overnight stay. 

Magnetic Hill – The ‘gravity hill’ which is also known as magnetic hill is a unique attraction that you can enjoy on your trip to Leh. The hill is located on the Leh-Kargil-Srinagar national highway, about 50 km from Leh, at a height of 11,000 feet above sea level. The optical effect which is caused by the layout of hills creates an illusion where in a person sees the object to be moving uphill, thus rendering it the name - 'Magnetic hill'.  

Malana – An ancient village in Himachal Pradesh, Malana is a solitary village in the Parvati valley. It is one of the oldest democracies in the world and the local follow strict customs and cultures. The natives believe that Malana was founded by remnants of Alexander the Great's Army. You can visit this village by taking holidays in Manali, which is just 77 km from Malana.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's next on your Summer travel list?

The summer is at its peak and it’s the perfect time for a holiday! So what plans have you made for your travel this season? Want to spend a lazy holidays with a chilling beer on the beaches or meander your way atop the summer hill stations. What is your pick? Mentioned below are the perfect beach destinations and hill stations which will help you decide which place you should head to this summer! 

Beaches – If you are looking for a beach vacation, then think beyond a trip to Goa. The long coastline of India offers plentiful options of beaches where tourists can enjoy a relaxing vacation. Some of the most popular beach destinations in Karnataka are – Gokarna, Mangalore, Murdeshwara, Karwar, Surathkal and Udupi. All these beaches are popular for their white sand beaches and offer peaceful ambiance to the tourists. 

 You can take Pondicherry tour packages to visit the beaches in Pondicherry along with enjoying a wonderful cultural holiday. The beaches of Tamil Nadu – Kanyakumari, Madurai, Rameswaram and Mahabalipuram are perfect beach destination for tourists inclined towards religion. In Kerala Kovalam, Varkala, Chowara, Chavakkad, Nattika, Cherai, Kizhunna and Poovar are the most popular beach destinations. If you are in East India, then take a holiday in Orissa to visit Gopalpur, Chandrabhaga and Pradip. 

Almora, Uttaranchal
Hill Stations – If you are planning a vacation in the hill stations of India, then the options are endless. Starting from the Himalayan hill stations to the green hill tops in South India, from the cascading mountains in the west to the winding hill destinations in North East, the list is inexhaustible. Go for a long Himachal Pradesh holidays or take quick holidays to Matheran. Ooty, Kodaikanal, Chikmagalur, Yercaud, Coorg, Munnar and Wayanad are among the major hill station tourists can plan a visit this summer.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ugadi – Welcoming the New Year

The festival of Ugadi marks the commencement of the New Year for the people of Deccan region of India. However, many regions in the country celebrate this day as their new year as well, albeit with different names. While in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, people call it as Ugadi or Yugadi, the people of Maharashtra celebrate it as Gudi Padwa. The Marwari people of Rajasthan celebrate call it as Thapna while the Sindhi celebrate this day as their New Year day, Cheti Chand. Sajibu nongma panba in Manipur and Baisakhi in Punjab are observed on the same day. 

The Etymology & Observance
The word, Ugadi has been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuga’ and ‘adi’ which means ‘the beginning of a new age’. The festival usually falls during the month of March-April every year and is celebrated with great fanfare in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. 

The Celebration
Celebrations of the Ugadi festival begin weeks before the main event. Houses are cleaned and shopping for new clothes and items related to the festival are done in advance. On the day of Ugadi, people get up at dawn to take bath and the whole house is decorated with mango leaves. As per the legend, Karthik encouraged people to tie green mango leaves to the doorway as it signifies a good crop and general well-being.

The main event of the day is the ‘Ugadi Pachhadi’, which is a symbolic meal consisting of a dish with six different components. The ingredients of this preparation are of different tastes but when mixed in definite proportions, they find perfect harmony resulting in a delicious dish. 

Jaggery is sweet and represents happiness in life. Salt signifies taste while the bitter Neem flowers represent unhappy moments in life. The sourness of Tamarind is the representative of sad moments of life while the hot Chilli powder suggests angry moments. The tangy Raw Mango pieces added in the dish are suggestive of the element of surprise in our lives. These different tastes represent six faces of life that should be handled by and balanced in such a way as to make one’s life on earth, a beautiful and complete experience.

In Andhra Pradesh, a special dish called Bhakshyalu or Puran Poli is prepared. The people of Karnataka make Holige which is gram and jaggery filling stuffed in flat bread and eaten with ghee or milk. People also gather to read the religious Panchagam of the year in congregation. It is a customary practice to attend the temple in the evening of this day where a Siddhanthi (Pandit) recites Panchanga Sravanam.

Other Customs
This is beginning of the mango season and since raw mangoes are available in abundance and people make lot of pickles to last a year. Kavi Sammelanam, which is a literary feast, too is held across many cities in Andhra Pradesh.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Top Tips on Keeping Your Children Calm on a Holiday Trip

The Universal Approach of Bribe – In the world of parenting, bribing is a controversial but popular child control method. The best time to practice appropriate bribery is on a road or air-plane trip. The trick is to offer the bribe before any bad behaviour starts. This will keep the kids motivated to follow your instructions during the trip. 

Planning and Direction – Plan the nap time of your child during the journey to make sure they sleep for most part of the trip. In case of older children, establish rules as to how quiet and calm they must keep. Also carry their toys to keep them engaged. Also when choosing your holiday destination, make sure you pick a place which has lot of open space and kid-friendly activities. 

Appreciation and Punishment – Make sure you compliment your kid time and again to make him or her fell how good they are doing. A simple “wow, thank you for being so quiet” or “I am so happy with your behaviour’, will drive them to behave in order to be praised. In case, they are not listening to you then use small consequences like 2 minute time out or anything you feel is appropriate. The idea is to be firm and not mean.

Keeping the Kids Engaged – Kids are store house of energy and it very difficult to keep them seated in a place for long. Carry your kid’s favourite toys or any hand held device which will keep them busy. Make a list of low-noise games you can play on the plane or in the car. You can also offer new toys to your kids as new and unseen toys will keep them silently fascinated. 

Involve Yourself – Rather than giving them deadly stares or the silence treatment, involve yourself in your child’s activity. You can read or sing along with them to keep them engaged. Also rotate your child care duties with your spouse before you run out of your batteries.