Outlook Traveller http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ Outlook Traveller en 2017-05-28 02:45:22 Siddhpur: Ghost Town http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Gujarat5_Siddhpur_FI-1.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/siddhpur-ghost-town/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/siddhpur-ghost-town/ 2017-05-27T23:45:23+05:30 article From palatial wooden townhouses to enigmatic medieval ruins, there's much to explore in Siddhpur Continue north on the highway from Mahasena city for another 50 km and you will reach Siddhpur. Here you come across rows and rows of palatial wooden 19th-century townhouses. Painted in muted pastel colours and built three-to-four storeys high, most of them were built by Gujarats prosperous mercantile Muslim community. Today, most of the houses remain locked for the better part of the year and present the strangely quiet look of a deserted European town.

Also located in Siddhpur are the enigmatic ruins of Rudra Mahalaya, the remains of a 12th-century temple with tantric overtones.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

There are quite a few good options to stay in Siddhpur. Hotel Anand (Tel: 02767-224786, 224440, Cell: 09638388337; Tariff: ?800-1,800) on the highway has AC rooms, Internet, a restaurant and an ice-cream parlour. Hotel Marigold (Tel: 292440; Tariff: ?750-990) near Bindu Sarovar, has AC and non-AC rooms and a multicuisine restaurant. Hotel Milestone (Tel: 220121, 292121, Cell 09825530413; Tariff: ?850-1,750), also on the highway, offers Internet services and multi-cuisine fare.

When to go October to March Location On the banks of Sarasvati, in northern Gujarat Air Nearest airport: Ahmedabad Rail Nearest rail: Siddhpur

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Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/maharashtra19_Tadoba_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/tadoba-andhari-tiger-reserve/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/tadoba-andhari-tiger-reserve/ 2017-05-27T23:38:39+05:30 article This relatively unknown tiger reserve is a great place for quiet safaris and wildlife sightings Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve Tadoba is a national park, while Andhari is a wildlife sanctuary lies almost in the centre of India and yet escapes notice. The 625-sq-km reserve is one of the unsung sanctuaries of India. Not touted as much as the parks of Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan, this tropical, deciduous, dry forest harbours some 43 tigers. Its biggest asset is the possibility of frequent sightings.

Tadoba is named after a temple by Tadoba Lake, practically at the centre of the park, dedicated to a local Gond eminence called Taru. According to legend, he died while fighting a tiger.

This reserve is interesting because there doesnt seem to be a core forest area that visitors are denied entry into; indeed, the whole reserve, not being very hilly, is accessible by roads.

Entry per vehicle ?750-1,000 (for 6 pax); Reserve timings 6.00-11.00am & 3.00-6.00pm; Closed Tuesday; Guide ?300

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

This lush forested area has a wide variety of tree species. Bamboo thickets appear to contain infinite mysteries, tiny streams gurgle everywhere, and copses intersperse with meadows.

There were 43 tigers at the sancutary according to the tiger census in 2007. Other mammals at the reserve include the panther, bear, flying squirrel, cheetal, sambar, nilgai, chousingha, barking deer and gaur, besides many species of birds, butterflies, and crocodiles. Tourists note: the waterholes dotted around the reserve are a beacon for animals, especially in high summer.

Safari

The roads inside the park, largely unpaved, are very manageable by any car with a good suspension. Gypsy cars (seating six persons) are available for ?2,000 for a safari.

Tadoba Lake

Tadoba Lake has nearly 20 marsh crocodiles, which may be seen floating by, or sunning on the banks. The temple dedicated to the local deity Taru is under a large tree by Tadoba Lake.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

The best option here is Tiger Trails Jungle Lodges (Nagpur Tel: 0712-6541327, Cell: 09822930703; Tariff: ?8,000-10,000, per person, with meals) a country-style guesthouse in the Chichghat Forest Valley. The luxurious Svasara Resort (Reservations Cell: 09370008008; Tariff:?10,000, per person, with meals and safari) is near the Kolara Gate. The MTDC Tourist Lodge (Cell: 08879222057; Tariff: ?1,800-2,250) in Moharli village is situated on the Irai Lake.

Other good options at Tadoba National Park include Tadoba Tiger Resort (Cell: 09325718691, 09372335355; Tariff: ?2,700-3,600, dorm bed ?900) and Resort Saras (Cell: 09422139353; Tariff: ?4,000-4,500), both at Moharli.

When to go November-March is pleasant but April-May is the best time for tiger spotting. Park closes during June-July for the monsoon Location In the Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra Air Nearest airport: Nagpur Rail Nearest rail: Chandrapur but Nagpur has better transport options

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

MTDC Mumbai

Tel: 022-22044040

W maharashtratourism.gov.in

Bhandardara

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Shendi

Bhandardara

Tel: 02424-257171, 257032

STD code 02424

Harihareshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Harihareshwar

Near Kalbhairav Temple

Tel: 02147-226036, Cell: 08879222040

STD code 02147

Ganapatipule

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Holiday Resort

Tel: 02357-235248, 235061-62

STD code 02357

Kunkeshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Tarkarli

Tel: 02365-252390

STD code 02364

Vengurla

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Project Office

C-Block, 1st Floor, NH17, Oras

Sindhudurg

Tel: 02362-228785, 228115

STD code 02366

THE INFORMATION

Kaas Plateau

Tourist Information Centre

Forest Office

Dy Conservator Of Forests

(Satara Division)

Old Treasury Office Compound,

Powai Naka, Satara

Tel: 02162-220058/59

W kas.ind.in

STD code 02162

Tadoba Tiger Reserve

Wildlife/ Forest Dept Office

Chief Conservator of Forests

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Rambag Colony, Mul Road

Chandrapur

Tel: 07172-251414, 255980

W mahaecotourism.gov.in

STD code 07172

Kamshet

MTDC, Karla

Tel: 02114-282230, 282064, 282102

STD code 02114

Toranmal

MTDC

T/1, Golf Club, Old Agra Road, Nashik

Tel: 0253-2570059, Fax: 2579352

W .mtdcindia.com

STD code 02566

Melghat Tiger Reserve

Chief Conservator of Forests and Field

Director

Melghat Tiger Reserve, Camp Amravati

Tel: 0721-2662792, 2551766

STD code 0721

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Arambol-Keri-Tiracol: Hang Loose http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Goa_Arambol-beach_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/arambol-keri-tiracol-hang-loose/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/arambol-keri-tiracol-hang-loose/ 2017-05-27T23:34:00+05:30 article Once famous as hippie hangouts, these north Goa beaches remain a big draw for revellers Goas hippie connections can be traced to Arambol, where the community started settling down in the mid-1970s. This was how the previously inaccessible Arambol a Portuguese corruption of the village name, Harmal became Pernem Talukas first tourist beach.

The beach today is a favourite with European ravers and backpackers. Arambol certainly isnt the unspoilt paradise that it once was but in its quieter parts, youll find the echoes of a secluded beach.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Arambol Beach has shacks and a few stalls selling sarongs and assorted stuff, and you can spend your time browsing through the items on sale. Climb up Waghcolomb Hill for the best possible views of the sea.

TIP Arambol is not safe for swimming and there are no lifeguards here, so its best not to venture in more than waist-deep. At Keri Beach, stay well away from the Tiracol river, as it has a particularly strong undertow

Paliem Beach and Lake

Arambols most wonderful feature is the tiny Paliem Beach at the foot of the Waghcolomb Hill. Here, theres a small freshwater lake barely 200 m from the sea, fed by springs, at the base of the surrounding hillsides. A dip here after bathing in the sea is recommended to wash off the salt. There are no hot springs feeding the lake, as some people would claim.

Watersports and Paragliding

Apart from dolphin-spotting trips, which are offered by nearly every outfit here, theres also a Surf Club W surfclubgoa.com) on the beach that offers windsurfing, boogie boards, kite-surfing and sand-speed sailing this is for true adventure freaks as the board can hit 30 kmph on water. Rates: ?500 upwards for a ride. Kite Club Goa (W kiteclub northgoa.com) is another outfit here that offers courses on kite-surfing, and also rent out the requisite gear.

During season, paragliding takes place from the top of Waghcolomb Hill over the lake. Charges can be anything from Rs. 1,500 upwards for a 20-minute flight.

Tiracol Fort

North of Arambol, the road ends at the Keri-Tiracol ferry point. On the opposite shore is Goas north ernmost outpost, Tiracol Fort. It was captured by the Portuguese from the Bhonsales of Sawantwadi in 1746, during the Novas Conquistas. Tiracol was and even now remains a cheeky Goan toe hold in Maharashtra. Till recently, the fort functioned as a hotel. The chapel of St Anthony, inside the fort, is open only when guided tours arrive. But the ramparts afford a spectacular view of the river and the sea. A new bridge has come up now but you can also take the ferry.

Keri-Tiracol ferry vehicles ?30 Ferry timings 6.00am-9.30pm, departs every 30 minutes

WHERE TO STAY

Most of Arambols seaside hotels are on the north side of the beach, along the path to Paliem and hence parking might get a bit difficult.

TIP Most places here are seasonal. Call ahead

Famafa (Tel: 0832-2242516/ 17, Cell: 07507859842; Tariff: ?1,600-3,000) is located in a concrete building, but the front rooms have sea views. The seaside Om Ganesh Naik Guest House (Cell: 09049561092, 08390152869; Tariff: ?700-2,000) is one of the nicer hotels in the area with great views and clean rooms. Ivons Guest House (Tel: 2242672, Cell: 09822127398; Tariff: ?500-1,500) is a budget option near the beach in Girkar Vaddo with a restaurant and bar. Gods Gift Guesthouse (Tel: 2242391, Cell: 09923427570; Tariff: ?675-2,200) also in Girkar Vaddo is a family-run guesthouse offering beach huts as well as a multicuisine restaurant. Ave Maria (Tel: 2242137, Cell: 08421235235; Tariff: ?700-1,400) is a decent option on the beach and has a restaurant and swimming pool.

WHERE TO EAT

Double Dutch is an excellent bakery run by the Dutch couple Axel and Lucie. Little Italy and Laughing Buddha, both on the beach, have decent food. Sushi Caf and Pizzeria has good food and lovely views. Rice Bowl serves authentic Chinese and Asian fare. Another nice option is Oasis, on the path to the lake. Relax Inn, also on the lake-side path, has the best Italian food in Arambol. Outrigger in Modlo Vaddo serves great seafood. Cheeky Monkey has Continental food, while the sea-facing Residences is favoured for its ambience.

When to go The best time is winter but its also the most expensive season. The monsoon is another option for those who like to holiday in the rains Location Arambol is in Goas northernmost taluka of Pernem, just south of Keri Beach Air Nearest airport: Dabolim Rail Nearest rail: Pernem

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Talacauvery: Source of a Sacred River http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/karnataka11_Talacauvery_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/talacauvery-source-sacred-river/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/talacauvery-source-sacred-river/ 2017-05-27T23:24:19+05:30 article The source of the Cauvery is a beautiful and sacred spot The Kodavas (the people of Kodagu) are a distinct race of ancestor worshippers. A tradition that binds them is their faith in Goddess Kavery, who flows as a river from the Brahmagiri Hills. This is Talacauvery, the most sacred place for the Kodavas. The river starts as a trickle and plunges down the slopes as a clear mountain stream to Bhagamandala. Here, she is joined by two smaller rivers, Kanike and Sujyoti, which flow underground. Cauvery is a major rain-fed river flowing southeastwards, through Karnataka into Tamil Nadu, and eventually the sea. The river has nourished the soil of Kodagu and thus guaranteed a comfortable livelihood to its people.

Barricaded by hills and jungle, Kodagu was inaccessible to tourists until about ten years ago. It is a 2.5- hour drive from Mysore into Kodagu and you can tell blindfolded that you have reached, by the cool, velvety feel of the air. Wildfowl perching by the roadside and deer are a common sight in the wooded areas; wild boar, elephants and bison live deeper in the jungles and can some times surprise tourists in the early hours of the morning, or late in the evening.

Talacauvery is a must-visit place of pilgrimage, not just for the Kodavas but also for the devout in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

A three-day trip would suffice. Do remember that light comfortable clothing, socks and walking shoes are essential. Carry a sweater or two. During winter, temperatures can dip below zero; a warm jacket or windcheater will be a blessing.

Talacauvery

The shrine to Goddess Kavery is set against the backdrop of the Brahmagiri Hills, which rise up to 4,396 ft. There are steps leading to the shrine and to the top of the hill; the latter offers a fabulous view of the low-lying valleys. Immediately below the temple is a large open tank for devotees to take a dip in, with walled changing areas and toilets. A dip in the river at Bhagamandala is a papa snana; it is said to wash away your sins. A dip in the spring at Talacauvery is the punya snana, the holy dip.

The shrine where the daily puja is offered has been cared for by a family of Shivalli Brahmin priests.

Bhagamandala

The Skanda Purana says that the linga here was brought by Rishi Bhagand, all the way from Kashi. The Kodava king Doddaveera-rajendra reconstructed the temple 200 years ago. The temple has carved ceilings, and pillars painted with textured vegetable dyes.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

There are few choices in terms of accommodation in Bhagamandala (8 km from Talacauvery). Of these, KSTDCs Mayura Kauvery (Tel: 08272-243143; Tariff: ?1,200-1,400), has comfortable double bedrooms with attached baths, and clean dormitories. The dining hall down-stairs is airy and pleasant, and serves good vegetarian food.

TIP Madikeri has many more places to stay

In Bhagamandala, Mayur Residency is clean and reasonably priced. You can also eat good home-cooked vegetarian food at Santosh Hotel, right next to the temple. Try the dosais (the now-rare, home-made type), idlis, coffee and tea. Highly recommended.

When to go October-March is the best time. Rest of the year is all right with the constant possibility of a downpour. June-August is best avoided. Location The source of the Cauvery is on the tip of the Western Ghats, amidst the thick jungle and bamboo forests of Kodagu District Air Nearest airport: Mangalore Rail Nearest rail: Mysore Junction

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

Government of Karnataka

No. 49, Second Floor, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road, Bengaluru

Tel: 080-22352828

W karnatakatourism.org,

KSTDC

Central Reservation Office

Badami House, NR Square, Bengaluru

Tel: 43344334/ 37

Cell: 08970650070

W karnatakaholidays.net

KSTDC

A One-Stop-Shop

No 8, Papanna Lane

St Mark's Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 43464351/ 53

Jungle Lodges & Resorts

GF, West Entrance, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 40554055

W junglelodges.com

Tourist Information Counter

Bengaluru International Airport

Devanahalli. Cell: 08970650072

Kempegowda Bus Station

(Majestic) Bengaluru Tel: 22356246

Cell: 08970650075

Department of Tourism

Govt of Karnataka, KSTDC Hotel Complex

Ramdurgi Road, Badami

Tel: 08357-220414

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Shivanasamudram: The Forest in your Backyard http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/karnataka19_Shivanasamudram.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/shivanasamudram-forest-backyard/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/shivanasamudram-forest-backyard/ 2017-05-27T23:13:27+05:30 article The waterfalls and a pristine forest make Shivanasamudram a great getaway Shivanasamudram is the domain of Mother Nature. Gentle sloping foothills seduce with their freshness, the woods are pristine and the experience is sublime. These hills are home to wild boar, peacocks, partridges, elephants and even the occasional marauding panther. Bands of elephants have been known to venture as near as the village outskirts in these regions.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Shivanasamudram, a possible day-trip from Bengaluru, is an ideal weekend break thanks to the country home of the Hatherell family, Georgia Sunshine Village. Anyone who is looking for peaceful holiday is welcome.

Gaganachukki and Barachukki Falls

The Cauvery splits into two streams here Barachukki and Gaganachukki. About 9 km by road from Georgia, turn left at Panditahalli and drive to Shri Vishveshwaraya Hydroelectric Plant, labelled as the Bluff. From Bluff, it is a 5-minute drive to the falls.

Beautiful cascades of water spread out over two vast hillsides will greet you. The water is being diverted to feed what was the first hydroelectric plant in Asia (built in 1902 by the maharaja of the erstwhile state of Mysore).

Gaganachukki also boasts a fall-side dargah on the opposite bank, a short drive across to the other hillside. A word of caution though in these regions, the falls represent a literal Xanadu for boisterous local revellers and their ilk. The falls are, therefore, best avoided on public holidays while being quite acceptable on weekends. Dont swim here as it is quite treacherous.

A couple of food stalls and a few vendors selling fresh coconut water and locally grown gooseberries generously spiced with red chilli powder complete the experience.

Barachukki is just beyond the dargah, a few kilometres away. The falls here form a sylvan, deep pool. You can swim here or even catch a coracle ride (?50-100). The falls are great all year round.

Trekking

The forests here are lush, which also means that traditional walking trails do not exist and that a trek is what it is meant to be rough and challenging. The Hatherells will organise a guide wholl chart out a route and also accompany you through the forest. Routes are customised to the energy levels of trekkers and can vary from a simple two-hour amble to a day-long trip, complete with food, water and supplies thrown in. However, animal sightings are rare on these treks.

Village Visits

You can still find farm implements made by hand and actually have a market for cow bells or simply get lost in time in the villages of Malavalli, Manchanahalli, Hebbani and Panditahalli and Shimsapura. Dont miss the traditional Friday market when you can encounter a plethora of sound and colour, and bag some unusual buys in an undeniably rustic location.

The Forest at Night

A forest by daytime is exciting, by night it becomes mysterious. A drive at night is a great way to indulge in some post-dinner thrills and spot some wildlife. Do take your car out; the Hatherells will provide a guide, on the house.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Georgia Sunshine Village (Tel: 08231-247646, 247783, Cell: 09845754661; Tariff: ?7,000-9,000, with meals) is a good place to stay in Shivanasamudram. The cottages and rooms here retain a homely atmosphere and personalised charm. Facilities offered here include a swimming pool, games room, lounge and library. Book in advance.

Riversedge Resort (Bengaluru Tel: 080-42127333; Tariff: ?1,500 per person, with meals) near New Hydel Power Station offers lot of outdoor activities.

When to go The best time to go is in the post-monsoon months, from June till January. February to April might be too hot for some. Barachukki Waterfall is good any time of the year Location Shivanasamudram, in eastern Mandya, skirts the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary Air Nearest airport: Bengaluru Rail Not suitable for Shivanasamudram

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

Government of Karnataka

No. 49, Second Floor, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road, Bengaluru

Tel: 080-22352828

W karnatakatourism.org,

KSTDC

Central Reservation Office

Badami House, NR Square, Bengaluru

Tel: 43344334/ 37

Cell: 08970650070

W karnatakaholidays.net

KSTDC

A One-Stop-Shop

No 8, Papanna Lane

St Mark's Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 43464351/ 53

Jungle Lodges & Resorts

GF, West Entrance, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 40554055

W junglelodges.com

Tourist Information Counter

Bengaluru International Airport

Devanahalli. Cell: 08970650072

Kempegowda Bus Station

(Majestic) Bengaluru Tel: 22356246

Cell: 08970650075

Department of Tourism

Govt of Karnataka, KSTDC Hotel Complex

Ramdurgi Road, Badami

Tel: 08357-220414

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Tamil Nadu: A Quick Guide to Mahabalipuram http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Mahabalipuran-Shore-Temple.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/tamil-nadu-quick-guide-mahabalipuram/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/tamil-nadu-quick-guide-mahabalipuram/ 2017-05-26T17:39:44+05:30 article Quite simply, one of the jewels of India's ancient heritage Mammallapuram, also called Mahabalipuram, is Chennais tourist leitmotif. A UNESCO World Heritage Monument, its history dates to the early 5th century CE when it was a thriving port. Mammallapuram contains Indias oldest examples of Dravidian buildings and sculpted rock-panels.

Keep aside a full day for this soporific sea-splayed temple town (65 km/90 minutes from Chennai), always full of tourists. The drive to Mammallapuram is most scenic. Prepaid taxis from Chennai cost approx Rs 1,000, and your bus ticket Rs 30-80. Its a place where you dont have to worry about turning the wrong corner. Caves, sculptures, temples and ruins sprout like vegetation here. Lit after dusk, Mammallapurams monuments assume a magnificent aura.

The Shore Temple is Mammallapurams signature symbol. Made of charcolite, its silhouette is beautiful against the changing colours of the sky. The temple is said to be one of the seven that existed here in 600 CE. A 2002 diving expedition by the National Institute of Oceanography, India, and the Scientific Exploration Society, UK, found proof of this legend. Researchers discovered masonry and stone stuctures submerged 20 ft deep in the waters here. The only remaining Shore Temple is dedicated to Shiva with his consort Parvati and sons, Vinayaka and Karthikeya. Here too you will find the unique Sthala Shayana Perumal the only temple in India where Vishnu reclines on the floor, serenaded by the sound of the waves. Pillars of the temple bear the evocative Pallava emblem of roaring lions.
Entry fee: Indians ?10, foreigners ?250. Ticket issued for Shore Temple and 5 Rathas (valid one day only). Entry to all other monuments free Timings:6 am to 6 pm, open all days
Cameras: Still free, video ?25
Tip: Arm yourself with a travel book-cum-map or hire a guide.

In the middle of the town is Arjunas Penance, the worlds largest bas-relief panel. Measuring 27m by 9m, this gargantuan rock has over a hundred carved figures of gods, men and beasts. It is slashed by a perpendicular fissure that has been creatively included in the depiction of Gangas descent to Earth. Its named after Arjuna, the Pandava who is believed to have meditated here. On the right stands the lifelike Family of Monkeys, and a stones throw from here is Krishnas Butterball, a boulder resting on the tip of a slope. Gravity defying.

Mahabalipuram

Southwards from Arjunas Penance is the Krishna Mandapam (with scenes of Lord Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan hewn in the rock) and Pancha Pandava Mandapam (carved with vaults and short pillars). Above the cave stands the small Ulaganatha (worlds hero) Temple for Shiva, on a granite mandapam built in the 8th century CE. One can view the entire town from atop this hill.

South-west of these structures are three cave temples. Striking amongst them is the Mahishasuramardini Cave Temple with sculpted celestial beings and battling demons. A flight of steps takes you to the old lighthouse of Mammallapuram, not in use anymore. Great views from here too.

Amidst boulders and thickets stands the Adivaraha Cave Temple with sculpted panels of Pallava kings and queens. To the north-west is the Tirumurthi Cave Temple, dedicated to the Hindu triumvirate of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Further south is a two-storeyed rock-cut temple called Ganesha Ratham.

Pancha Ratham is a cluster of six unfinished structures on the road to Kalpakkam, about a kilometre south of Mammallapuram. They represent the rathas (chariots) of the five Pandavas. The sixth chariot is that of Draupadi, their wife. Typical of 7th-century Pallava art, the chariots are in axial alignment. Work stopped after the death of Narasimha Varman in 668 CE. It takes about 15 mins to reach here from the Shore Temple.

On the East Coast Road stands the Tigers Cave, 5 km short of Mammallapuram. Believed to have been a royal retreat, it houses a cave of sculptures, framed by a large boulder. This 7th-century CE shrine, dedicated to Goddess Durga, is a popular picnic spot today. And relatively unspoilt.

The month-long Mammallapuram Dance Festival is held against the enchanting backdrop of the monuments every January (for information on dates and tickets, contact Dept of Tourism, Govt of Tamil Nadu office, Tel: 044-27442232). Enjoy Mammallapuram. Then pause by the ceaseless waves of its pristine shoreline.

Shopping
Continuing its tryst with stone, Mammallapuram sells sculptures in black stone, granite, soft and grey soapstone (?100 upwards) in the 150-odd shops lined along the road, open all days of the week. Strike a good bargain. Alternatively, head for the government-run Poompuhar (open 9 am-noon, 3-6.30 pm, Sundays closed).

Where to Stay and Eat
Radisson Temple Bay and Beach Resort (Tel: 044-27443636; Tariff: ?10,000-25,000) has nice cottages facing the beach. Golden Sun and Beach Resort (Tel: 27442245-46; Tariff: ?2,237-4,575), is among the good options. Tamil Nadu Tourisms Hotel Tamil Nadu (Tel: 27442361-63; Tariff: ?1,750-3,000) is also on the beach. Hotel Mammala Heritage (Tel: 27442060; Tariff: ?1,800-2,000) is an affordable option on East Raja Street. For a busy tourist destination, Mammallapuram offers nothing fancy. Sea Shore restaurant on Beach Road is hailed for its seafood. Village, Tina Blue View and Sun Rise offer beer and multicuisine fare. For vegetarian food, head to Mamalla Bhavans restaurant

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Kabini: Where Forests Meet http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/karnataka16_Kabini_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kabini-forests-meet/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kabini-forests-meet/ 2017-05-26T17:37:55+05:30 article The region is home to huge forests and makes for one of the best wildlife holidays in the country Quite the extraordinary thing about the Kabini area is the existence of a 60 sq km of static water inside the forest precincts, the result of a dam built across the river at Beechanahalli. The water bifurcates the national parks of Nagarhole and Bandipur, but unites a spectacular range of wildlife on its shores.

Animals from the giant tuskers to the mouse deer, from barking deer to cheetal, from herds of gaur to sambar, from the rare but definitely spottable tiger and panther, to the sloth bear can be spotted here.

Painted storks, egrets, herons and ibis are some of the birds that can be spotted here. Vultures soaring high as the crested serpent eagle sits majestically, scanning the area, sitting on one of the wood stumps that peek out of the waters surface, vestiges of trees that were submerged by the dam are common sights too.

But then again, Kabini is all about elephants and more elephants. Some 1,500 of them roam free in the jungles of Nagarhole, of which Kabini is a primary part. And according to Project Elephant reports, there are 5,500 to 6,000 of them in the contiguous stretches of forests comprising Nagarhole, Bandipur, Mudumalai and BR Hills sanctuaries.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

To go on a safari in a jeep through the game roads of Nagarhole, reaching the backwaters at the edge of a thick bamboo jungle, and driving through a gargantuan collection of pachyderms, is one of the greatest wildlife experiences in Asia. With the single largest congregation of Asiatic elephants on the planet, this cannot be anything but simply unforgettable.

Jeep Safari

The jungles around have a primeval touch to them. Tall trees, huge bamboo brakes, remote ponds, hillocks and above all the backwaters. Hop onto a jeep and drive around. Early mornings are the best time. You can see the jungle waking up, the leaves and shrubbery washed clean with the dew. Peacocks call out to the denizens of the wild, while the grey langurs have already started to breakfast high up on the branches. Large herds of cheetal hang around by the side of the game road, mostly in a state of languorous repose, seemingly informed of the tigers itinerary!

Evenings have a different kind of magic. The sun is busy playing a round of hide-and-seek from within the cluster of trees. Shades of grey and spots of brilliant light bring about a surreal feel. The elephants begin to assemble by the backwaters with the frequent shrill trumpeting of a frisky young elephant as it gambols around.

And then there is a water source in the Sunkadakatte area named Tiger Tank for the frequent sightings of the feline in its vicinity. The beautiful Bisalwadi Kere lake with its watchtower is another good point to spot big cats.

Rates and timings for safaris vary with the resorts, but the safari fee is usually incorporated into the accommodation package deal, which also includes vehicle entry, boat rides, park entry, guide and camera fee.

Boat Rides

Gliding along the water with the thick jungles all around, you will be able to observe, up close, various animals on the shores. While the birds take off in silence at the sight of your approaching boat, the animals continue to linger by the banks of the Kabini.

Atop an Elephant

Drive over to the Sunkadakatte Forest and youll have Kokila and her colleagues, Revathi, Sarojini, Sarala and Mary waiting for you. All of four tons each, these elephants patrol the place with a sense of authority. And they are willing to take you on their backs. Riding these elephants gives you a whole new perspective of the wild. Ducking and weaving through the branches that come at your face, or spotting a beautiful drongo or a red-headed woodpecker flying past as these gentle creatures sway rhythmically through the maze is a unique experience.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Jungle Lodges and Resorts Kabini River Lodge (Tel: 08228-264402-03; Tariff: ?6,280-9,500 per person per night) offers Colonial-style rooms, cottages and tented cottages with all creature comforts. Over a 100 years old, formerly the property of the Mysore Maharaja, it now belongs to the Karnataka Government and consists mainly of two teakwood-studded buildings known as the Maharaja Bungalow and the Viceroy Bungalow. The tariff covers all meals, jeep safaris, coracle boat rides, camera fee and taxes. Plus there is free stay for chauffeurs at their dormitory, with a minimal charge of Rs. 50 for three meals a day. Meals here are served around a camp fire at the lodges Gol Ghar, a bar open on the sides.

Kabini River Lodge

Water Woods (Tel: 264421-22/ 31, Cell: 09945921303; Tariff: ?12,000-17,000), located close to Kabini River Lodge, is a Colonial-themed resort. Price includes stay and all meals, per night on twin-share. Water Woods has six rooms and offers international fare.

The Serai Kabini (Tel: 264444/ 99, Cell: 09945602305; Tariff: ?15,400-24,000), belonging to the Serai hotel chain, is another luxurious option here, with eight rooms, 11 cottages and a spacious villa. Safaris cost ?1,400 (Indians) and ?2,400 (foreigners) per person by jeep or boat. The resort is spacious and is set close to the Kabini river. They also organise boat rides, nature walks and birdwatching.

TIP Dont mistakenly take the Mysore-Murkal-Nagarhole Road when you set out for Kabini from Mysore

When to go All year round, but best between September and May. For wildlife sighting, the best time is from November to June Location At the south-eastern end of Nagarhole National Park, by the backwaters of the Kabini river, 71 km from Mysore Air Nearest airport: Bengaluru Rail Nearest rail: Mysore

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

Government of Karnataka

No. 49, Second Floor, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road, Bengaluru

Tel: 080-22352828

W karnatakatourism.org,

KSTDC

Central Reservation Office

Badami House, NR Square, Bengaluru

Tel: 43344334/ 37

Cell: 08970650070

W karnatakaholidays.net

KSTDC

A One-Stop-Shop

No 8, Papanna Lane

St Mark's Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 43464351/ 53

Jungle Lodges & Resorts

GF, West Entrance, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 40554055

W junglelodges.com

Tourist Information Counter

Bengaluru International Airport

Devanahalli. Cell: 08970650072

Kempegowda Bus Station

(Majestic) Bengaluru Tel: 22356246

Cell: 08970650075

Department of Tourism

Govt of Karnataka, KSTDC Hotel Complex

Ramdurgi Road, Badami

Tel: 08357-220414

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Toranmal: Queen of Khandesh http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/toranmal-queen-khandesh/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/toranmal-queen-khandesh/ 2017-05-26T17:31:32+05:30 article Up in the hills near Nashik, Toranmal is a tranquil getaway Toranmals pull lies in the fact that its a parallel track on the well-travelled tourist road; a soothing, unpolluted confluence of hills, waterfalls and valleys. There are two stories behind Toranmals name: toran in Marathi means a welcome arch and mal means garland. The image of arches strung together like a garland is what you see when you look down on Toranmal from the heights of the Satpura. Others say that Toranmal is named after the ancient tor tree, which blossomed so prolifically that locals began worshipping Torna Devi as a goddess of fertility. The fabled tor tree no longer exists; what does is a hilltop temple to the goddess.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The biggest surprise in Toranmal is scattered in bits and pieces all over this hill station. Ruins of broken sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses are strewn around Toranmal, and are believed to be centuries old. The Toranmal Hill Resort has mounted several broken sculptures on a raised platform.

Yashwant Lake

No matter where you are in Toranmal, you can be sure that Yashwant Lake isnt too far away. The lake is surrounded by hills. Overlooking the lake is a blue Protestant Church, more than a century old.

Khadki Point

This is a trekking area with a colourful past. In ancient times, a wall ran along the length of Toranmal. When the wall was dug up, century-old bricks that have survived the march of time and nature were found here. Khadki Point affords picturesque views of the valleys below.

Torna Devi Temple

Perched on a hilltop, the temple is only eight years old. But the black stone idol of Torna Devi placed outside the temple is steeped in antiquity. The locals say it is more than 600 years old. Also check out Gorakshanath Temple.

Sita Khai

Despite its name, this magnificent gorge has nothing to do with goddess Sita. It gets its name from seedha khai (straight ditch). A waterfall flows from here and the sight gets prettier during the monsoon. Sita Khai also has an echo point.

Machindranath Cave

This is a natural formation. According to legend Sage Machindranath used to meditate here. To reach the spot where he meditated, you have to stoop low.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

There are lodges and private hotels here, including Toranmal Hill Resort (Cell: 09422286375, 09404878941, 09422774075; Tariff: ?700-1,600), perhaps the only place in Toranmal with decent lodging and boarding. The restaurant menu here features the usual suspects: chicken Manchurian, butter chicken, etc.

When to go October to March Location At 3,750 ft, in Maharashtras Khandesh Region Air Nearest airport: Nashik Rail Nearest railhead: Nandurbar

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

MTDC Mumbai

Tel: 022-22044040

W maharashtratourism.gov.in

Bhandardara

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Shendi

Bhandardara

Tel: 02424-257171, 257032

STD code 02424

Harihareshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Harihareshwar

Near Kalbhairav Temple

Tel: 02147-226036, Cell: 08879222040

STD code 02147

Ganapatipule

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Holiday Resort

Tel: 02357-235248, 235061-62

STD code 02357

Kunkeshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Tarkarli

Tel: 02365-252390

STD code 02364

Vengurla

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Project Office

C-Block, 1st Floor, NH17, Oras

Sindhudurg

Tel: 02362-228785, 228115

STD code 02366

THE INFORMATION

Kaas Plateau

Tourist Information Centre

Forest Office

Dy Conservator Of Forests

(Satara Division)

Old Treasury Office Compound,

Powai Naka, Satara

Tel: 02162-220058/59

W kas.ind.in

STD code 02162

Tadoba Tiger Reserve

Wildlife/ Forest Dept Office

Chief Conservator of Forests

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Rambag Colony, Mul Road

Chandrapur

Tel: 07172-251414, 255980

W mahaecotourism.gov.in

STD code 07172

Kamshet

MTDC, Karla

Tel: 02114-282230, 282064, 282102

STD code 02114

Toranmal

MTDC

T/1, Golf Club, Old Agra Road, Nashik

Tel: 0253-2570059, Fax: 2579352

W .mtdcindia.com

STD code 02566

Melghat Tiger Reserve

Chief Conservator of Forests and Field

Director

Melghat Tiger Reserve, Camp Amravati

Tel: 0721-2662792, 2551766

STD code 0721

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Mollem National Park http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Goa1_Mollem_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/mollem-national-park/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/mollem-national-park/ 2017-05-26T17:21:54+05:30 article This gorgeous forest reveals an overlooked aspect of Goa's natural beauty The Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary and the Mollem National Park together cover an area of 240 sq km. Mahavir is the main sanctuary, while Mollem is the core area. The vegetation cover seen here varies from moist deciduous to evergreen forests. The reserve, especially the area near the Dudhsagar Falls, is stunning.

Three-fourths of the reserve area lies to the south of NH4A in the sanctuary. A well-connected network of village roads around the periphery makes a road journey to the reserve easy. Those proceeding from within Goa can take the Ponda-Dharbandora-Sancordem-Satpal-Bolconem route. This will allow you to include a visit to the Lord Mahadeva Temple at Tambdi Surla on the way to the sanctuary.

There are an estimated 35 km of dirt tracks inside the park. Approximately 100 sq m of this area has been earmarked as the tourist zone; most of this falls in the Mollem Park. The Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary has an area of 133 sq km. Take the short route to Bhagwan Mahavir if you are already in Goa (saving you about 18-20 km) and then drive on to Mollem Town, where you have better and cheaper stay options.

The Nature Education Centre, which doubles up as a Range Office, is close to the Mollem Checkpost, 2.5 km from the Mollem Town. The Mollem Checkpost is the main entry point and here you can get your tickets and vehicle permits for the sanctuary. However, people travelling from Tambdi Surla can enter from the Bolcornem Checkpost and those from Dudhsagar Falls, at the Collem ticket counter. Keep in mind though that the route to Dudhsagar Falls closes at 3.30 pm; its also closed for vehicular traffic during the monsoons (June-September). Within the sanctuary area are an observation tower (just a short distance from the Mollem Checkpost), the Dudhsagar Falls (in the southeast), Sunset Point (off the highway, closer to the Karnataka side) and Devils Canyon, which is close to Collem Village.

The packages that are offered by the Dudhsagar Spa Resort include excursions to the falls. Travellers on their own can take their taxi only up to the Dudhsagar Falls Counter, from where they need to hire a taxi of the Dudhsagar Waterfalls Operators Union, for the ride to the falls. Private vehicles are not allowed in. Remember that the falls are closed to vehicular traffic in the monsoons. The only way of viewing them then is from the train moving along the Londa-Collem track. Dudhsagar Resort arranges for a train trip at this time of the year for its guests.

Park Entry ?20 Vehicle Entry ?400 per person Timings 8.30am-3.30pm, Closed June-September

Hiking

There are two nature trails. One is a 2.5-km long trail from the Tambdi Surla Temple area to a small waterfall and the other is a 5-km long trek from near the Mollem Park gate to Kachond, where there is an ancient temple. There is a 14-km long trek along Sunset Point up to Anmod on the Goa border. Local guides can be hired at Collem Village, from the taxi union in Collem, which arranges tours to Dudhsagar Falls.

Night excursions in the sanctuary can be arranged on special request, in the company of a forest official. There are no extra charges for this. But you will need to have your own vehicle. Private vehicles are now allowed into Bhagwan Mahavir.

Park Entry ?20 Vehicle Entry Car/jeep ?75, bus/ tempo Rs. 150 Timings 9.00am-5.30pm Photography ?30 Videography ?150

TIP The same tariff and ticket is valid for both sanctuaries (for 24 hours). If you visit them on separate days, you need to buy separate entry tickets

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

You need to be lucky and early to catch a glimpse of creatures such as the bison, cheetal, sambar, Malayan giant squirrel and wild boar in these sanctuaries. Birds, however, are easier to spot.

Dudhsagar Falls Tour

Ensconced in the Western Ghats, Goas highest and largest waterfalls cascade down 306 m. The water plummeting into the huge pool at the bottom and the boulder formation around it are incredible. Take a dip in the pool or dive into it (instead of simply standing there crunching away on crispy snacks and throwing away the empty packets on the rocks, as many tourists seem to prefer doing).

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Resorts here offer seasonal package rates, which include stay, meals and tours around the sanctuary areas. Its best to eat at the place where you are staying.

The Dudhsagar Spa Resort (Tel: 0832-2612238/ 319; Tariff: ?3,000-5,500) is located just before the Mollem Checkpost on NH4A. It has restaurants, a bar, swimming pool and spa. They also arrange wildlife tours.

Backwoods Camp (Cell: 09822144939; Tariff: ?6,000 per person for 3D/ 2N including meals, guided birdwatching and taxes) has four rooms and six cottages. If you are a keen bird-watcher, this is the place to be in.

You could stay at the Forest Departments Eco-Tourism Complex at Aranyak, which offers six tents (?600-800) and a ten-bedded dormitory (?200 per person). Meals can be arranged on request. Bookings must be made at the office of the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Forest Department, Panjim (Tel: 0832-2229701).

Sahyadri Spice Farm (Cell: 09423813646, 09545884460), in Pikalewadi, Collem, 2 km past the Forest Checkpost, is a 400-acre property. Currently, their rooms are being renovated but the restaurant is open. They offer sightseeing tours, elephant rides and trekking.

When to go November-January is the best time for sightings Location At Mollem in Sanguem Taluka, close to the eastern border of Goa and Karnataka, on the forested slopes of the Western Ghats Air Nearest airport: Dabolim Rail Nearest rail: Collem

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

1st Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 0832-2494200

Wgoatoursim.gov.in

Central Reservations Office

GTDCL, 2nd Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 2437701, 2438002-03, 2438866

GTDCL

Facilitation Counter

Goa Airport, Dabolim

Tel: 2540829, 2540031

Wgoa-tourism.com

GTDCL

Opposite Municipal Garden

Madgaon. Tel: 2715528, 2715096

GTDCL

Mapusa Residency

Near bus stand

Calangute - Mapusa Raod

Mapusa

Tel: 2262794/ 694

GTDCL

Vasco Residency

Near Railway Station

Vasco

Tel: 251319, 2511002

Mollem NP

Deputy Conservator of Forests

Wildlife and Eco-Tourism, Panjim

Tel: 0832-2229701

Wforest.goa.gov.in

STD Code0832

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Banashankari and Mahakuta: Temple Villages http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/karnataka4_Banashankari_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/banashankari-mahakuta-temple-villages/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/banashankari-mahakuta-temple-villages/ 2017-05-26T17:03:52+05:30 article These two medieval heritage sites and pilgrimage centres make for a great break from Badami In parts of north Karnataka, smaller sites of historical importance abound, most prominent of these being the Banashankari temple in Cholachagudd and the pilgrim site of Mahakuta, which are highly recommended for those with an extra day or two in Badami.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Banashankari

This little village, 5 km southeast of Badami on the way to Pattadakkal, gets its name from the temple consecrated to Banashankari, an incarnation of Parvati. Towards the left of the temple is a beautifully crafted pillared cloister that is built around the sacred tank called Haris chandra Tirth.

Two impressive lamps stand sentry on either side of the entrance. The fierce goddess was the kuldevi (clan goddess) of young Chalukya and Pallava women. The black idol in the sanctum has eight arms and rides a golden lion. Banashankari is worshipped here because shes believed to have brought relief to the drought-afflicted region by turning her sweat into water. Come to see her during a jathra when a 25-ft-high rath takes the goddess for an outing every January.

Mahakuta

Mahakuta, on the way to Aihole, owes its pilgrimage status to Sage Agastya, who is believed to have spent some time here. The temple complex here houses ten Shiva temples, a Saraswati temple and according to local guides, a hundred thousand lingas!

The two main 7th-century temples, the Mahakutesvara and Mallikarjuna, are on either side of a tank known as Kashi Tirtha or Vishnu Pushkarni. This is a natural spring, and devotees believe that a dip will cleanse sins.

About 2 km from Mahakuta, the tranquil Naganatha Temple is set in the midst of the Badami forest. It has a Dravidian shikhara and this is where youll find one of the finest examples of ceiling sculptures on themes like the Adishesha, the Nataraja and the Trimurthi.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

There are no accommodation options or eateries in these places. It is best to make Badami your base to visit these sites.

When to go Between September and February. Summer in this region is hot Location Set in the southern Deccan Trap Air Nearest airport: Hubli Rail Nearest rail: Badami

THE INFORMATION

KSTDC

Department of Tourism

Commercial Complex

1st Floor

Lal Bagh

Mangalore

Tel: 0824-24518888

KSTDC

Hotel Mayura Valley View

Rajas Seat

Madikeri

Tel: 08272-228387

Karnataka Tourism

Near Raja's Seat

Madikeri

Tel: 08272-228580

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Kamshet: Adrenaline Rush http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/maharashtra21_Kamshet_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kamshet-adrenaline-rush/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kamshet-adrenaline-rush/ 2017-05-26T16:30:23+05:30 article Kamshet is the perfect base for paragliding, as well as for a visit to the Buddhist Bedsa Caves Surrounded by panoramic views of paddy and sunflower fields fringed by hills, Kamshet is a back-to-nature weekend par excellence. Its history has been shaped by the hills here. Once known for breeding fierce freedom-loving guerrilla warriors, it now plays host to bands of fearless paragliding pilots and adventure lovers.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Whether you are looking for adventure sports opportunities or wish to enjoy the breathtaking views in solitude, you will not be disappointed here.

Vadivali Lake

This artificially created lake is a delightful body of water and a habitat for a variety of birds. Vadivali stretches for miles, and is circumscribed by the surrounding hills. The Native Place Guest House is located here.

Adventure Activities

If you have always wondered what a birds eye view really is, give paragliding a shot. The intricacies of this delightful adventure sport can be mastered over two weekends. If youre not prepared to do it alone, a tandem ride (a joyride in which an experienced pilot does all the work) should do the trick.

Kondeshwar Temple

The isolated Kondeshwar Temple stands among wild flowers and a gurgling stream that runs behind it. The stream turns into a pleasant three-tiered waterfall in the monsoons. A few metres ahead is a clearing flanked by cliffs on both sides. This is a perfect place for a quiet picnic. However, if you have a rope and the right skills, a hike to Bhairi Caves on the cliff to your right can be a satisfying experience.

Bedsa Caves

This set of caves is very different from the famous Karla and Bhaja caves near Lonavla. To get to them, drive towards Kale Colony and Pawna Lake. About 8 km down this road youll see the caves on your right, halfway up the hillside. A motor able road leads to the base village of Bedsa. From there its an easy half-hour climb. The majestic pillars in front of the main chaitya look almost Roman and are visible from far away. These Hinayana Buddhist caves are believed to date back to the 1st century BCE. Take a close look at the sculptures of animals and dancing figures here.

WHERE TO STAY

The Native Place Guest House (Tel: 02114-286007, Mumbai Tel: 022-26493110, Cell: 09323708809; Tariff: ?5,000-12,000, tents ?1,800 per person, dorms ?1,800 per person, with meals) on the Vadivali lakefront, organises nature trails and walks to the waterfalls. For those who want solitude, their isolated Nirvana Cottage (Tariff: ?6,000-12,000) is a good bet. Specify your meal times and a basket will be left at your doorstep.

YMCA Camp Lakeside (Mumbai Reservations Tel: 022-21026391, Cell: 08451871803; Tariff: ?800 per person per day from Monday to Thursday, Rs. 900 per person per day from Friday to Sunday) is about 40 km from Kamshet, on Andhra Lake. There are ten cabins and ten tents. Activities offered include rock climbing, trekking, archery, nature treks, zip-line, swimming, kayaking, etc.

WHERE TO EAT

Apart from the food at the hotels and camps, highway restaurants in the dhaba tradition are Sunny and Babi da Dhaba for tandoori rotis, Mughlai food and Indian-Chinese fare. Rangoli Restaurant, also on the highway and just outside Kamshet town, is perfect for a filter coffee and a quick Udipi snack.

When to go Nature trips and spur-of-the-moment weekends can be indulged in throughout the year. October-June is for paragliding. Monsoon is waterfall-spotting time Location 17 km ahead of the twin hill stations of Khandala and Lonavla, 2,100 ft above sea level Rail Nearest railhead: Lonavla

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

MTDC Mumbai

Tel: 022-22044040

W maharashtratourism.gov.in

Bhandardara

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Shendi

Bhandardara

Tel: 02424-257171, 257032

STD code 02424

Harihareshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Harihareshwar

Near Kalbhairav Temple

Tel: 02147-226036, Cell: 08879222040

STD code 02147

Ganapatipule

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Holiday Resort

Tel: 02357-235248, 235061-62

STD code 02357

Kunkeshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Tarkarli

Tel: 02365-252390

STD code 02364

Vengurla

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Project Office

C-Block, 1st Floor, NH17, Oras

Sindhudurg

Tel: 02362-228785, 228115

STD code 02366

 

THE INFORMATION

Kaas Plateau

Tourist Information Centre

Forest Office

Dy Conservator Of Forests

(Satara Division)

Old Treasury Office Compound,

Powai Naka, Satara

Tel: 02162-220058/59

W kas.ind.in

STD code 02162

Tadoba Tiger Reserve

Wildlife/ Forest Dept Office

Chief Conservator of Forests

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Rambag Colony, Mul Road

Chandrapur

Tel: 07172-251414, 255980

W mahaecotourism.gov.in

STD code 07172

Kamshet

MTDC, Karla

Tel: 02114-282230, 282064, 282102

STD code 02114

Toranmal

MTDC

T/1, Golf Club, Old Agra Road, Nashik

Tel: 0253-2570059, Fax: 2579352

W .mtdcindia.com

STD code 02566

Melghat Tiger Reserve

Chief Conservator of Forests and Field

Director

Melghat Tiger Reserve, Camp Amravati

Tel: 0721-2662792, 2551766

STD code 0721

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Odisha: A Quick Guide to Konark http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Konark-Sun-Temple.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/odisha-quick-guide-konark/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/odisha-quick-guide-konark/ 2017-05-26T16:19:37+05:30 article The magnificent Sun Temple is poetry set in stone About 34 km from Puri, via the smooth East Coast Road named Marine Drive, falls Konark. This magnificent Sun Temple here is without doubt the paragon of Oriyan art and architecture. Although partly in ruins, its colossal size and intricate stone artwork, executed with masterly touch, not to mention the diversity of themes expressed, simply takes ones breath away. Little wonder, Rabindranath Tagore described it as poetry in stone.

Modelled on the image of the Sun God coursing through heaven on his seven-horse-drawn chariot, the temple was built in the 13th century by the Ganga dynasty ruler, Narasimha Dev I (1258-64). Legend has it that it took 1,200 masons and 12 years to complete, and some engineers conjecture that the main tower, now reduced to rubble, would have soared to an imposing height of 227 ft, higher than both the Lingaraja and Jagannatha temples.

The jagmohana (porch) structure exceeds 120 ft in height. Both tower and porch are built on high platforms, around which are set 24 exquisitely carved giant stone wheels of the chariot, only 16 of which have survived the ravages of time. And of the seven horses, only one stands in all of a piece.

I enter the temple precincts, along with my guide, the 70-year-old Mr Sahoo, who claims to be the most ancient member of his tribe in Konark. We are greeted by two fiercelooking lions, one on each side of the steps leading up to the Natyamandapa, and elephants who, in turn, are sitting atop writhing men. My venerable guide tells me that the lion signifies power, the elephant connotes wealth and man stands for justice.

The walls of the Natyamandapa are full of interesting images. Sex is just one of the many themes albeit the most conspicuous. There are thousands of images of deities, celestial and human musicians, dancers, lovers, and myriad scenes of courtly life, ranging from hunts and military battles to the pleasures of courtly leisure. There are three beautiful and detailed sculptures of the Sun God on the northern, western and southern facades of the temple tower. Carved in an almost metallic green chlorite stone, contrasting the soft weathered khondalite of the rest of the structure, they reflect the superb craftsmanship of those times. There is even an image of an Indian king receiving a giraffe as a gift.

It took me almost two hours to soak in the awesome display of stone masonry and artistry. My mind brimming over with sexual images, I decided to say goodbye to this monumental feat of human indulgence.

The Information

Entry Fee: Indians ?10, foreigners ?250
Timings: Sunrise to sunset
Cameras: Still free, video ?25
Guides ask for ?200 upwards for their assistance, so bargain hard
Where to Stay: You can spend a night at Panthanivas Konark (Tel: 06758-236831; Tariff: ?600- 1,000), near the Sun Temple, which has 14 rooms, a restaurant and can arrange local sightseeing; or at the Yatrinivas Konark (Tel: 236820; Tariff: ?650-3,600), three minutes away from the Sun Temple. It has 41 rooms, a restaurant and garden, arranges transport and sightseeing and also provides tourist information.

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Kaas Plateau: Where the Wildflowers Are http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/maharashtra17_kaas-plateau_.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kaas-plateau-wildflowers/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kaas-plateau-wildflowers/ 2017-05-25T18:58:41+05:30 article With over 850 species of wildflowers, the Kaas Plateau is Maharashtra's own Valley of Flowers This little-known gem, which has been increasingly attracting visitors since being declared a bio-diversity site by UNESCO in 2012, is Maharastras very own Valley of Flowers. The Kaas Plateau (Tel: 02162-220058; W kas.ind.in) is located in the Sahyadri Range, 22 km away from Satara. It abuts the northern part of Koyana Sanctuary, and a major portion of the plateau is reserve forest. After the monsoon, from August to October, the 1,000-hectare region undergoes a fascinating phenomenon and turns into a riot of colour, with wildflowers carpeting the land as far as you can see. More than 850 species of flowering plants are found on the plateau. To protect this fragile ecosystem, it is forbidden to walk amid the flowers. You can walk/hike around the plateau, though, to admire the flowers from different vantage points.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Since the declaration of the Kaas plateau as a UNESCO bio-diversity heritage site, tourists have started making a beeline for it. Naturally, this increase is number of visitors has put this secluded spot in danger of being polluted. For this reason there are a few guards standing around at most entry points onto the plateau while most other areas are barricaded.

Hiking and Exploring the Area

During September and October, this entire flat land seems like a lush green carpet on which beautiful pink, purple, yellow and white flowers have been embroidered. Walking around is one of the best ways to explore the delights of Kaas.

The plateau is home to around 850 known species of plants of which about 600 are of the flowering variety. In addition, many endemic species of plants have also flourished here. They can only survive in this region, owing to the volcanic rock soil of the region.

Kaas Plateaus unique ecosystem also allows around 33 endangered species of plants to thrive here. These species are only found in rocky lands and are on the brink of extinction due to the changes in climatic and geological conditions.

Things to Remember

On weekends, parking on the plateau is not permitted and you have to park a couple of kilometres away where parking space is provided. From there you have an option of taking a State Transport bus to go to the plateau or you can walk. Take care not to litter the area since it is a unique biodiversity site. Do not trample the flowerbeds and do not pluck the flowers. A few kilometres away is the village of Bamnoli on the bank of the Koyna lake, where you can take boat rides. There are a few shacks selling tea and the like.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Kaas Holiday Resort (Cell: 09822046163, 09921095875; Tariff: ?1,800-2,200) in Atali on Satara-Kaas Road, about 4 km from Kaas Plateau, offers breathtaking views of the Sahyadris and the Kaas valley. Their kitchen churns out delicious meals. Further ahead lies Nivant Hill Resort (Cell: 07719820820; Tariff: ?2,000-2,500), about 15 km from Kaas. The resort has an amazing location with valley-facing rooms.

There are a few homestays in the nearby villages set up by the Joint Forest Management Committee along with MTDC. They charge about ?600 per person including meals. Or else, stay at Satara, the base town for visiting Kaas.

A few small eateries offering Maharashtrian cuisine can be found in Kaas. There is nothing fancy.

When to go After the rains, till October end. Many people visit Kaas during the rains. The plants bloom only in late August to September Location In the Sahyadri Range, 22 km from Satara Air Nearest airport: Pune Rail Nearest rail: Satara

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

MTDC Mumbai

Tel: 022-22044040

W maharashtratourism.gov.in

Bhandardara

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Shendi

Bhandardara

Tel: 02424-257171, 257032

STD code 02424

Harihareshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Harihareshwar

Near Kalbhairav Temple

Tel: 02147-226036, Cell: 08879222040

STD code 02147

Ganapatipule

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Holiday Resort

Tel: 02357-235248, 235061-62

STD code 02357

Kunkeshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Tarkarli

Tel: 02365-252390

STD code 02364

Vengurla

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Project Office

C-Block, 1st Floor, NH17, Oras

Sindhudurg

Tel: 02362-228785, 228115

STD code 02366

THE INFORMATION

Kaas Plateau

Tourist Information Centre

Forest Office

Dy Conservator Of Forests

(Satara Division)

Old Treasury Office Compound,

Powai Naka, Satara

Tel: 02162-220058/59

W kas.ind.in

STD code 02162

Tadoba Tiger Reserve

Wildlife/ Forest Dept Office

Chief Conservator of Forests

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Rambag Colony, Mul Road

Chandrapur

Tel: 07172-251414, 255980

W mahaecotourism.gov.in

STD code 07172

Kamshet

MTDC, Karla

Tel: 02114-282230, 282064, 282102

STD code 02114

Toranmal

MTDC

T/1, Golf Club, Old Agra Road, Nashik

Tel: 0253-2570059, Fax: 2579352

W .mtdcindia.com

STD code 02566

Melghat Tiger Reserve

Chief Conservator of Forests and Field

Director

Melghat Tiger Reserve, Camp Amravati

Tel: 0721-2662792, 2551766

STD code 0721

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Karkala: The Giants in the Ghats http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/karnataka6_Karkala_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/karkala-giants-ghats/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/karkala-giants-ghats/ 2017-05-25T18:53:49+05:30 article Karakala and its surrounding area is full of priceless Jain heritage The drive up to Karkala is splendid in the rains, especially the stretch after Hassan when the road curves into the Siradhi Ghats and then twists, turns and sharp bends. These ghats receive 4,500 mm of rain every year, so the ever green forests blanketing the slopes make the drive itself memorable. At the crest of the ghats, the view of panoramic valleys, tumbling water falls and gurgling streams that grow into the Netravathi and Gurpur rivers, is stunning. You are sure to spot wild orchids blooming high in the canopy. If you are lucky you might even spot the black-hooded King cobra, slithering on the wet rocks see king a little light and warmth.

The Jains here, attired like their brethren up north, speak the local languages of Kannada, Tulu and Konkani with a distinctly different accent. Jainism is believed to have taken root in Karnataka in the 6th century BCE when Lord Mahavir travelled to these parts and won over King Jivandhara of Hemangada and his courtiers, who became his disciples. By the 10th century CE, Jainism had spread all along the Karavali coast and in the towns and villages along the Western Ghats, bestowing piety and some of the most famous monuments in India to Karnataka. Karkala is among the most important of these sacred places. From the centre of this picturesque little town rises the 300-ft-high Gommata Betta, crowned with a 41.5 ft monolith of Lord Bahubali, the first Jain tirthankara. Visible for miles around, the colossus sends a regal welcome to pilgrims.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Karkala, in parts, appears as aged as Mother Nature herself. Ancient shrines rub shoulders with newer temples and Mangalore-tiled cottages nestle amid concrete buildings. Come here to replenish your spiritual side.

Bahubali Monolith

A wide staircase carved into the rock ends before towering granite walls and an ornate gateway at the heart of Karkala. Overlooking the sprawling, stone-flagged courtyard stands the majestic statue of Bahubali, or Gommateshwara, consecrated on February 13, 1432 by the Bhairasa dynasty, feudatories of the Vijayanagar rulers. Climb up to the pedestal for a close examination of the gigantic statue, a birds eye view of Karkala and of the paddy-green countryside.

A Mahamastakabhisheka, or ceremonial anointment of the statues is performed every 12 years, and is a big event in the Jain calendar. Water is poured in a purification rite from 1,008 kalashas (pots). This is followed by abhisheka (ceremonial bathing), heralded with bugles and the beating of drums. Hundreds of containers of milk are emptied on to Bahubalis head, followed with rice powder that cascades down in clouds of white. The statue is then anointed with coconut water, sugarcane juice, liquid turmeric and red sandalwood paste.

In front of thousands of assembled Jain pilgrims, monks shower rose petals, before washing the statue. Then, oil lamps are lit all around creating a stunning sight.

Chaturmukha Basadi

On another hill opposite the monolith is this basadi (Jain temple). Completed in 1586, it has four identical carved gate ways built into high walls. It houses lifesized statues of three tirthankaras Sri Arhat, Malli and Suvrata, small images of the 24 tirthankaras and one of Padmavathi Yakshi. The intricately carved Manasthambha Pillar adorns the square in front of the basadi.

Other must-see temples here include the Ananthashayana Temple, and the Mahamaya Mukhya Prana Temple.

Hiriangadi

Hiriangadi, a kilometre from Karkala, is worth a visit for its Neminath Basadi complex, dwarfed by a 60-ft-tall Manasthamba. The complex also has many basadis as well as the Bhujabali Brahmacharya Ashram.

Attur

This town, 8 km before you hit Karkala, is famous for the St Lawrence Church, built in 1845. The shrine and the parish have a rich history, and receive pilgrims from all over the world, for people swear that their prayers have been answered here. The village also has a fine temple of Mahalingeshwara, with a copper-plated garbhagriha.

Moodabidri

About 16 km before you hit Karkala on the winding ghat roads nestles Moodabidri, another important Jain centre. Moodabidri earned its name from the lush bamboo thickets that thrived in its eastern portion (mooda means eastern portion, bidri means bamboo), though there are hardly any left today.

Legend has it that a Jain monk from Sravanabelagola unearthed a granite image of Tirthankara Parshvanath. The idol was installed in a temple built around it, known as Gurus Basadi. The town flourished after the installation and the grateful townsfolk built 18 splendid basadis. Ancient palm leaf manuscripts are preserved at Gurus Basadi.

Wealthy Jain merchants, under the direction of the Vijayanagar Governor, Devaraya Wodeyar, built Moodabidris thousand-pillared Tribhuvana Tilaka Choodamani Basadi between 1429 and 1430. The temple is housed within a walled enclosure in the heart of the town. The approach is through a narrow street that leads to an imposing gateway. In the centre of the open quadrangle is the basadi, with pillars each carved in different styles. From here, one walks through two large hallways covered with gabled and tiled wooden roofs, highly reminiscent of Sri Lankan temples. Beyond lies the sanctum sanctorum.

Moodabidri is believed to have been a Jain centre since the beginning of the Christian era, and developed as the Kashi of the Jains in south India. Most of the towns inhabitants were traders who did business with merchants from Africa and China from the small ports on the coast.

Racing Season

Karkala-Moodabidris famous Kambala water buffalo races are held throughout the area from November to February. Paired buffaloes from all over the district race through the paddies to the beat of drums. Dont miss a race if you get the opportunity. The action is also followed by much drinking and merriment.

WHERE TO STAY

Most of the options in Karkala are basic and are centrally located around the bus stand. Base your stay instead in Moodabidri, which has very good options. If you do need to stay in Karkala, Hotel Suhag (Tel: 08258-231991/ 92; Tariff: ?624-1,890) offers room service, laundry facilities and a restaurant.

Hotel Prakash (Tel: 234981; Tariff: ?700-2,020) in the same area is another option, with a restaurant and room service.

Moodabidri offers the best stay options. Pancharatna International (Tel: 08258-238152-56; Tariff: ?500-2,250) near the bus stand has 55 rooms. Navami Comforts (Tel: 236011-13; Tariff: ?500-1,600) in Navami Plaza Complex has 40 rooms and two dorms. The pick is Soans Resort (Tel: 236261; Tariff: ?2,500), located in a beautiful farm at Belvai, 4 km from Moodabidri.

WHERE TO EAT

Believe it or not, even though this is the home of the legendary Udupi Hotel, its hard to come by any eatery that serves a mouth-watering, crisp masala dosa or a plate of fluffy rice idlis.

Sagar Restaurant (Tel: 08258-230602), located in Karkalas Gopal Tower, serves south and north Indian and Chinese food. Amrita Restaurant on Market Road has south-Indian vegetarian fare. Try the surnalli dosa.

Nonvegetarian fare can be had at Madhura Restaurant (Tel: 235630), half a kilometre from Karkalas bus stand on the Mangalore Road. Try the Madhura Special thali and the ghee roast dosa.

In Moodabidri itself, Hotel Sharada in Lavantha Complex serves only vegetarian food. Hotel Kadal, near the bus stand offers both vegetarian and nonvegetarian. Golden Gate, at Alangar Junction, 2 km from Moodabidri towards Karkala has separate south-Indian vegetarian and nonvegetarian restaurants. The latter serves south and north Indian and Chinese cuisines and also has a bar. Try the tandoori machhi here.

Most of the hotels restaurants are open to non-guests as well.

When to go September to March Location The holy town of Karkala is tucked into the Siradhi Ghats above the coast, 44 km from Udupi Air Nearest airport: Bajpe, Mangalore Rai Nearest rail: Udupi

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

Government of Karnataka

No. 49, Second Floor, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road, Bengaluru

Tel: 080-22352828

W karnatakatourism.org,

KSTDC

Central Reservation Office

Badami House, NR Square, Bengaluru

Tel: 43344334/ 37

Cell: 08970650070

W karnatakaholidays.net

KSTDC

A One-Stop-Shop

No 8, Papanna Lane

St Mark's Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 43464351/ 53

Jungle Lodges & Resorts

GF, West Entrance, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 40554055

W junglelodges.com

Tourist Information Counter

Bengaluru International Airport

Devanahalli. Cell: 08970650072

Kempegowda Bus Station

(Majestic) Bengaluru Tel: 22356246

Cell: 08970650075

Department of Tourism

Govt of Karnataka, KSTDC Hotel Complex

Ramdurgi Road, Badami

Tel: 08357-220414

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Delhi: A Beer Fest to Beat the Heat http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/delhi-beer-fest-beat-heat/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/delhi-beer-fest-beat-heat/ 2017-05-25T18:46:27+05:30 article Summer thirst could be your perfect excuse to attend a beer fest If you live in Delhi and love beer, then head for the Pacific Mall in Delhis Tagore Garden for the two-day beer fest that begins on June 3. The Bites and Beer Fest is a great opportunity to try exotic new food and pair it with your favourite beer.
The festival will showcase over 30 food stalls churning out local, national and international dishes. Paired along with the wide variety of freshly brewed beers, it is surely going to be a hit for the food lovers in this scorching Delhi heat.
And, it doesnt end here. There will be fun and entertaining activities, including games and of music and dance. There will be live performances by famous bands such as Bismil, Rocknama, Adveta, Zikrr, Turban etc. Games include Man vs Food, Beer Pong, Beer Chugand others. The Bites and Beer Fest will be held on June 3 and 4, from 12pm to 11pm. There is an entrance fee of ?150. Tickets available at the venue.
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Maharashtra: Indulge at the Four Seasons http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/4-Seasons.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/maharashtra-indulge-four-seasons/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/maharashtra-indulge-four-seasons/ 2017-05-25T18:37:44+05:30 article Avail of a special weekday discount offered by Four Seasons Vineyards in Baramati Looking for some tranquil me-time or a special holiday break with the family? The Four Seasons chateau in Maharashtras Baramati has the perfect answer. Baramati, 70km from Pune, is better known as anindustrial hub. But escape to the periphery and you will come across acres of open lands and water-bodies. In winter, many of these water-bodies play host to a large number of migratory birds. Now, with the palatial Four Seasons chateau and winery, spread over 50 acres, you can easily lose yourself in a luxury holiday, far from the urban chaos.
The French chateau styled Four Seasons winery is located in the village of Roti in Baramati. Plan a trip to the vineyards and enjoy a stay within the lush greenery with the Sahyadris as the back drop. It offers 10 well-appointed rooms and four suites. Enjoy a dip in the open air pool or luxuriate in the Jacuzzi. Watch the sunset from a large party deck overlooking the vineyards. Enjoy a host of outdoor activities such as exploring the vineyard on mountain bikes, hikes and cycling through the vineyards, bird watching, etc. If you are lucky, you may spot deer and wild boars. They can also arrange for special barbecue evenings under a starlit sky.
Four Seasons is offering a special 20% discount for weekday accommodation, with kids under five-years staying for free. For more details, check outfourseasonsvineyards.com/wine-tour; tel: +91 98765 43210; email: wines@unitedspirits.in
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All of Sweden is on Airbnb http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/all-of-sweden-is-on-airbnb/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/all-of-sweden-is-on-airbnb/ 2017-05-25T18:20:42+05:30 article From Swedens southernmost point to its extreme north, you are free to roam through all public land Visit Sweden, Swedens official tourism board, has partnered with Airbnb to turn the entire country into an Airbnb listing. Coupled with the nations freedom to roam policy, travelling in Sweden promises to be an exciting venture for all.

Freedom to roam, guaranteed by the Swedish constitution, allows everyone the right to access, walk, cycle or camp on any public land. Only private gardens and lands under cultivation are an exception to the rule. The literal meaning of the Swedish term of the Right of Public Access, allemansrtten, is everymans right. It provides anyone living in or visiting Sweden with the freedom to roam just about anywhere in the countryside as long as there is no disturbance or destruction of property or the environment.

According to the tourism board, visitors are free to take a morning jog or bike ride across open fields or trek through challenging mountain terrain. But visitors must also remember that with great freedom comes responsibility. The general rule for spending time in nature is do not disturb, do not destroy.

The partnership with Airbnb, launched recently, is said to be a first of its kind collaboration between a tourism board and Airbnb.

Visit Sweden, a communications company, specialises in promoting Sweden as a destination and as a brand. It forms partnerships with Swedish regions and other players in the Swedish tourism industry as well as non-tourism organisations to raise awareness and interest about Sweden as a tourist destination. Visit Sweden is present in 10 countries worldwide. It is equally owned by the Swedish Government through the Ministry of Enterprise & Innovation and the Swedish Tourism Industry through Svensk Turism AB.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb provides access to millions of unique accommodations from apartments and villas to castles and treehouses in more than 65,000 cities and 191 countries. With Experiences, Airbnb offers unprecedented access to local communities and interests, while Places lets people discover the hidden gems of a city as recommended by the people that live there. For more details, check outairbnb.com/Sweden

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Chanderi: Threads Of Tradition http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/madhya-pradesh1_chanderi_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/chanderi-threads-tradition/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/chanderi-threads-tradition/ 2017-05-25T11:54:45+05:30 article Apart from its famous saris, Chanderi is a site of great historical built heritage A noisy and bustling town, Chanderi is most famous for its eponymous saris. The towns tradition of weaving dates back to the 18th century, and today, more than 3,000 families over half of the towns population make their living from the looms. But there is a lot more to Chanderi than its famous chanderi. In medieval times, Chanderi was fiercely fought over by conquerors for its imposing fort, strategically situated on the trade routes that connected north India to south, and to the ports on the west coast; and was graced by famous travellers such as Ibn Battuta and Al Biruni, who were much impressed by her wealth and splendour. Today, several remnants of its rich history remain, not the least of which are some stunning architectural gems.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Chanderi Fort

This hill-fort stands tall over the town, stretching for kilometers along the crest of a hill, its architecture bearing the imprint of the different dynasties who ruled it. A Sanskrit inscription on the fort states that it was built by Gurjara Pratihara King Kirtipala, in the 11th century and was named Kirtidurg after its builder. The fort was then successively captured by the Khiljis, the Tughlaqs, the Malwa Sultans, the Lodis, Rana Sangha of Udaipur, the Mughals, the Bundelas, the British and, finally, the Scindias of Gwalior.

The only structures that remain within the fort today are the ruins of a palace (Naukhanda or Hawa Mahal) of the Bundelas as well as a Khilji mosque with exquisitely carved mihrabs. There is also a monument that was erected to commemorate the jauhar (self-immolation) committed by Rajput women on the eve of Baburs conquest in 1528. The Khooni Darwaza (literally, bloody gate) is where it is said the Rajputs rushed out to meet their enemies. Local guides swear that when Baburs armies attacked the fort, the ensuing battle was so vicious that the grounds near the gate were ankle-deep in blood; hence the name.

Nearby lies the tomb of Baiju Bawra (1542-1613), a dhrupad singer and a court musician of Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior.

Jama Masjid

The magnificent 13th-century Jama Masjid, with its imposing domes as well as large arcades, can hold over 1,500 people, making it one of the largest mosques in the state. The spacious open court has arched cloisters towards the north and south, and the sanctuary located towards the west. The sanctuary towards the east has been destroyed. On both sides of the nave, the wings have a barrel-vaulted hall and a square hall at the extreme end. Stone ribs have been used in the barrel vault, and the nave and the square hall are roofed with massive, elongated tombs, giving the entire edifice an elegant look.

Badal Mahal Gateway

The 15th-century Badal Mahal Gateway is Chanderis signature landmark. A tall, slender, elaborate arch with exquisitely carved lattices, the gate leads nowhere there is no building either in front of it or behind it. It might have been constructed to commemorate a victory, but nothing about it is known for certain.

Raja Shishupals Tank

Also known as Parmeshwar Tank, the tank has the white Lakshman Temple at one end and the cenotaphs of three Rajput kings on the other. It is said that once Raja Shisupal, out hunting, got lost. He felt thirsty, but had no water. Spotting a woman in the wilderness, he called out to her for water. The woman was actually a goddess, and she created this water tank for the king to quench his thirst. When he asked her how to repay this debt, she asked him to build a temple with a curtain around the sanctum. She also told him not to have the curtain removed for nine days. The king built the temple, but did not have the patience to wait. He drew aside the curtain in a few days, only to see that a head had formed in the sanctum, but there was no body of the idol. This curious idol is now housed at the Jageshwari Temple.

Jageshwari Temple

Situated on a hillside, a climb of 90 steps will lead you up to the Jageshwari temple. The devis shrine here has two lions guarding it. The idol just has a face, said to be swayambhu or selfmanifested. It is apparently placed on a pedestal, which is heavily draped with cloth.

Kati Ghati

Chanderis most dramatic site the Kati Ghati is the place where an opening was cut overnight through a gigantic wall of solid rock, by Miman Khan in 1480 during the reign of Ghiyasuddin Shah of Mandu. This truly super-human effort allowed the invading army to enter the lush green Chanderi valley.

Ramnagar Mahal

The road from Kati Ghati leads to a 17th-century Bundela-era palace, Ramnagar Mahal. This was probably used as a hunting lodge, but today, it is an open-air museum. The palace overlooks a vast water body, the Mehjatiya Lake. Babur camped at this lakeside the night before he stormed and took Chanderi Fort in 1528.

Raja-Rani Mahal

The sprawling 15th-century Raja-Rani Mahal, features two distinct buildings that are connected by colonnaded passages. Now pain-stakingly restored by Intach, the palace houses the looms the NGO Chanderiyaan has set up for training the towns youngsters in weaving, and block printing as well as tailoring. Additionally, the Digital Empowerment Foundation also trains them in computerising design motifs, many of them copied from Chanderis historic monuments, which are then easily reproduced by the weavers on saris and dupattas.

Chanderi Museum

This small museum is run by the Archaeological Survey of India. It boasts superb sculptures collected from the ruined temples of Buddhi (old) Chanderi, dating from the 10th to 12th centuries. There are also photographs of Stone Age rock paintings from Madhya Pradesh. Do not miss the sculpture of Varaha (Lord Vishnus incarnation as a boar) in the museums well-kept grounds.

Timings 10.00am-6.00pm; Closed Fridays

Koshak Mahal

On the outskirts of Chanderi is the impressive 15th-century Koshak Mahal. It looks like a vast roofless cathedral with only three of its original seven storeys remaining. It is a square building, like a cross, obviously built this way to provide a wide, open passage in the middle of each side running across the whole length. Built entirely of white local sandstone, all the four mansions of Koshak Mahal are identical. Each one is three-storeyed and is three aisles deep on either side. Notice the first storeys unique ceiling. Divided into square bays altogether, each one is roofed by four fling arches all in stone meeting at the apex, thus forming a gorgeous cross-vault. The upper-most storey is most ornamental, with elaborate carving and jaali work.

AROUND CHANDERI

Nanaun (25 km)

A one-hour drive south of Chanderi lie the prehistoric rock shelters at Nanaun, located at the edge of a vast plateau covered with thorny vegetation. There, beside the Urvashi river, where giant crocodiles laze on the banks, are isolated cave shelters with Stone Age paintings of animals and stick-like figures. Look for the scene of a tiger attacking a herd of deer.

Kadwaya, about 55 km from Chanderi, has a cluster of temples from the 8th to 12th centuries, similar in style to Khajuraho. Excavations are still underway.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

The only accommodation option in Chanderi is the government-run MP Tourism hotel called Tana Bana (Tel: 07547-252222, Cell: 07725896140; Tariff: ?1,190-1,990).

Ashok Nagar, 46 km from Chanderi, has a few more options. Hotel Rajshree (Tel: 07543-221369; Tariff: ?1,250-3,000) has air-conditioned rooms and an on-site restaurant serving both vegetarian and nonvegetarian food. Hotel Girraj (Tel: 220908, 221908, Cell: 094257 23908; Tariff: ?600-1,200) has both AC and non-AC rooms, room service and Wi-Fi. There are no great stand-alone restaurants in Chanderi, so it is probably best to eat at your hotel.

When to go October-March, when the weather is pleasant Location Chanderi is at an elevation of 1,496 ft and surrounded by hills on the southwest of the Betwa river Air Nearest airport: Bhopal, Gwalior Rail Nearest rail: Lalitpur, Jhansi

THE INFORMATION

Tourist/ Wildlife Offices

Tourist Office

Room No. 3-4, Hotel Janpath

Janpath Road, New Delhi

Tel: 011-23366528, 32599000, 23341187

Telefax: 23347264

Chanderi

MPSTDC

Hotel Tana Bana, Chanderi

Tel: 07547-252222

Cell: 07725896140

MP Tourist Information Centre

Tansen Residency Complex

6A, Gandhi Road

Gwalior. Tel: 0751-2234557, 4056726

STD code 07547

Maheshwar

MPSTDC

42, Residency Area

Opp St Paul School, Indore

Tel: 0731-2499566

STD code 0731

Burhanpur

MPSTDC

Tapti Retreat

Burhanpur-Ichhapura Road

Burhanpur. Tel: 07325-242244

STD code 07325

Bhimbetka

Bhopal Tourist Office

Paryatan Bhavan, Bhadbhada Road

Bhopal. Tel: 0755-2778383

Bhopal Tourist Office

Railway Station, Bhopal. Tel: 2746827

STD code 0755

 

THE INFORMATION

Ratapani WLS

MPSTDC

Paryatan Bhavan

Bhadbhada Road

Bhopal

Tel: 0755-2778383

Superintendent

Obedullahganj Forest Division

Cell: 09424790712

STD code 0755

Pachmarhi

Pachmarhi Regional Office

Amaltas Complex

Near Tehsil

Pachmarhi

Tel: 07578-252100

Pachmarhi Tourist Office

Bus Stand, Pachmarhi

Tel: 252029

Pachmarhi Tourist Office

Railway Station

Pipariya

Tel: 07576-223499

STD code 07578

Amarkantak

MPSTDC

Holiday Home

Amarkantak

Tel: 07629-269416

Jabalpur Regional Office

Rani Durgavati

Paryatan Bhavan

North Civil Lines, Jabalpur

Tel: 0761-2677290

STD code 07629

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Saputara: Gujarat's Lone Hill Station http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Gujarat29_Saputara_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/saputara-gujarats-lone-hill-station/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/saputara-gujarats-lone-hill-station/ 2017-05-25T11:45:55+05:30 article This hill station, perched in the Sahyadris, is a perfect getaway from Surat Saputara, although unknown to most people outside the region, is famous in Gujarat as the lone hill station of the state. The Maharashtra border lies a mere 4 km away.

The town is located on a plateau of the Sahyadari range, 1,000 m above sea level. The altitude ensures pleasant weather throughout the year. While there are a couple of touristic sights and activities in Saputara, the main attraction of the place is to wander amid the enchanting mountains and valleys, exploring the fascinating scenery and revelling in the serenity as you walk along.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Saputara Tribal Museum

The museum has a rather un-illuminating collection relating to tribal life and culture. Some of the more interesting exhibits are the local musical instruments, weapons and Warli paintings.

Gandhavpur Artists Village

Started in 1983, the artists village in Saputara is a unique initiative of the alumni of the Fine Arts Department of MS University. The village is a green space with a few cottages, house studios, residences, a gallery and a store. The store has an interesting collection of hand-crafted jewellery, knick-knacks and bottles decorated with papier-mch.

The village also hosts artists from different places and backgrounds and gives them a space to exhibit their work. Art camps are organised for students as well.

To reach Gandharvapur, take the dirt path branching off from the bridge near Sugar n Spice. A dam is being constructed near by and once it is completed, water will surround the village, making it an island.

Honeybee Centre

The honeybee centre is a small enclosure where organic honey is harvested and sold. There are a few beehives here to demonstrate how honey is harvested.

For a demonstration, contact Raju Madhwala (08469544831) in advance. The honeybee centre might be closed during festivals or in the low season, so it is best to call before visiting. It is 100 m away from the Artists Village, behind Aakar Lords Inn.

Saputara Lake

The picturesque Saputara lake, nestled between hills, is a popular boating spot with pedal and row boats. At its bank, there is a temple to the snake god, the titular deity of the town. A statue of the snake god has been installed here.

Sunset Point

Sunset Point is the cliff on the western periphery of Saputara. About a kilometre away from the lake, it is accessible through a gently sloping road. Motor vehicles are not allowed beyond Chitrakoot Hotel, making the walk quite a peaceful experience.

There is a cable car (Timings: 9.00am-1.00pm, 2.00-7.00pm; Tickets: ?50) at the Sunset Point which takes you across the valley to the Vaity Ropeway Resort on Governors Hill. However, a joyride is not guaranteed when there are not enough tourists, it is entirely up to the operator whether or not he feels like obliging visitors.

At the other end of town, the Sunrise Point and close to it, the Echo Point offer spectacular views of the valley.

Saputara Adventure Park

The Saputara Adventure Park (Cell: 09099020777; Email: contact@ climbingworld.com) conducts many sports and activities like parasailing, rock climbing, rappelling, camping, zorbing, trekking, mountain biking and horse riding. It is located on top of Governor Hill.

Hatgadh Fort

Situated on the state border between Gujarat and Maharashtra, Hatgadh Fort is most conveniently accessed through Saputara. It is believed that Shivaji built this fort. Not much remains of the citadel now apart from its battlements, a few ruined structures, reservoirs and wells. However, the views from the ramparts are stunning.

At the entrance of the fort, there are engraved figures of deities and a few artificial caves. One of these is currently inhabited by an old sadhu (ascetic), whom you can see wandering around.

Frequent shared jeeps (Rs. 10) run from the roundabout near Sugar n Spice to Hatgadh, from where the fort is a short walk away. While earlier, reaching the fortress involved a steep uphill climb, a winding road has now been constructed that takes you to almost its entrance.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Gujarat Tourisms Toran Hill Resort (Tel: 02631-237226; Tariff: ?1,500-6,600) offers cottages with great views. Vaity Ropeway Resort (Tel: 237210-14; Tariff: ?3,990-4,990, with meals) is on the hilltop and offers ropeway rides. Savshanti Lake Resort (Tel: 237292 Tariff: Rs. 3,000-4,000) and Hotel Anando (Tel: 237202-03; Tariff: ?2,000-4,500, with meals) are close to the lake. Hotel Patang Lords Eco Inn (Tel: 237251, 237331; Tariff: ?5,500-7,700, with meals) and Hotel Chitrakoot Hill Resort (Tel: 237221/37; Tariff: ?3,600-4,000, with meals) are all good options.

When to go All year Location At 3,200 ft in the Dangs district Air Nearest airport: Surat Rail Nearest rail: Waghai, Billimora

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Silvassa: Colonial Hangover http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Gujarat27_Silvassa_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/silvassa-colonial-hangover/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/silvassa-colonial-hangover/ 2017-05-25T11:40:30+05:30 article Go to Silvassa for its sylvan surroundings, wildlife sanctuaries and Portuguese heritage Silvassa, the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, is a growing industrial hub. But it is considered a tourist attraction mainly for its still sylvan surroundings. A reminder of the Portuguese rule here is Our Lady of Piety Church on Naroli Road. In the Lion Safari Park, you can get a rare glimpse of lions that arent caged. Vanganga Lake and Island Garden, Pipariya Van and Hirwa Van Gardens are popular spots.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Stay options here include Ras Resorts Silvassa (Tel: 0260-2640001-02; Tariff: ?7,000-11,000), Daman Ganga Valley Resort (Tel: 2644442-44; Tariff: ?6,000-8,500) and Hotel Pioneer (Tel: 2641998-99; Tariff: ?2,400-3,500)

When to go November to February Location Western side of the foothills of the Western Ghats Air Nearest airport: Mumbai Rail Nearest rail: Vapi

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Himachal Pradesh: A Quick Guide to McLeodganj http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/featured-10.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mcleodganj/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mcleodganj/ 2017-05-24T18:22:13+05:30 article All you need to know about the vibrant and popular hill station In all these centuries, in all its reincarnations, Dharamsala or the Pilgrims Rest House has unfailingly lived up to its name, welcoming tired travellers in search of spiritual bliss; providing a brief, noisy, colourful, hectic respite before the snow-clad Dhauladhar Range beckoned them onwards. It was the pilgrims last temptation: a final backward glance at all the pleasures they would forgo for the hard climb ahead. But somewhere along the way, in less than 40 years, it has reinvented itself from halting station to destination: this is the end of the journey. Dense rows of brightly lit hotels with their fake Lhasa rooftops and bazaars now seem to dwarf the giant deodar pines and oaks that split it into upper and lower towns, perched like a spiritual Las Vegas on a spur of the Himalaya. And the town especially the upper half, better known as McLeodganj is still celebrating its total conquest of the pilgrims soul.

The upper reaches of the Kangra Valley are a curious mish-mash of cultures: Tibetan and Kashmiri curio shops, pizza shacks vying with alu chaat and tandoori dhabas, Tibetan hippies and American monks, prayer gongs and Hindi film songs, quaint English and Jalandhar mod. And dominating it all, as pristine as in its original home on the other side of the Himalaya, a brand new Lhasa Dalai Lama, summer palace, temple, monasteries, and all.

The British first discovered the little hill station 150 years ago, when they were searching for a suitable place in the district to which they could shift their civil administration and cantonment. McLeodganj, at that time, was a dozen or so scattered English homes, each perched precariously on the ridge above the cantonment for the best view of the spectacular snow-capped Dhauladhars. These sturdy wooden country houses preserved their very English privacy behind walls of giant deodar pines and rolling green lawns. All roads led at that time to Nowrojee & Sons.

Established in 1860, five years after the British administration shifted here, this 3-storeyed, glass-fronted kirana shop of the Raj Cantonment still stands where it was, balefully watching over the towns transformation. Business began to dwindle when the British shifted themselves and their offices to Lower Dharamsala, after the devastating earthquake of 1905. But the Nowrojees battled on, keeping the shop going onthe few pensioners and missionariesand the odd summer visitor, selling everything from newspapers and medicines to arms and ammunition, even running their own dak service until Indias Independence drove even these few customers away.

It was the customer-starved NauzerNowrojee an eccentric who ruled over the family shop for 63 years, the inspiration behind the unbending shopkeeper in Rohinton Mistrys A Fine Balance who, in 1960, persuaded the exiled Dalai Lama to settle down here. Fleeing from the Chinese, his people dying in the heat and dust of the Indian plains, the 14th Dalai Lama found the perfect refuge in this little pine-covered spur of the mountains, with snow peaks round the corner. From the day the Dalai Lama stepped into his temporary home, the abandoned summer mansion of one of Lahores gentry (Rai Bahadur Gopal Das) that is now the Indian Mountaineering Institute, McLeodganj has never looked back.

Things to See & Do
In a little over a decade, McLeodganj was transformed from a decaying Raj district town into the thriving Little Lhasa of India. The meagre years saw it growing with the Dalai Lamas snowballing fame from a one-shop-town into a cosmopolitan centre where serious Buddhist scholars and the Dalai Lamas international admirers rub shoulders with backpackers in search of New Age entertainment.

Nauzer Nowrojee lived to regret his invitation to the Dalai Lama, complaining in an interview given before he died of his beloved McLeodganj becoming a victim of its own success, railing against the filth and noise and pollution. But the victim is showing no signs of collapse as yet, rising maniacally upwards by the day, defying nature, space and all rules of traffic and architecture.

Tsuglhakhang
But that was never the intention of either the Dalai Lama or his government-in-exile. In fact, the real nerve centre of the town, the Dalai Lamas residence, with his private office and temple, is so unobtrusive that it blends effortlessly into the landscape. True to the Dalai Lamas principles of not disturbing the natural vegetation, the elegant two-storeyed temple, called Tsuglhakhang, with its large square overlooking his palace really a modest cottage where he lives with his beloved cats and flowers was built without chopping a single tree. The temple rests, in fact, on some unusual columns: trunks of deodars which are still growing, protected by adjustable iron rings. The principal image here is a gilded Buddha rising 9 ft from a lotus seat.

To its right, facing in the direction of Tibet, are 12-foot gilded images of the Padmasambhava and Avalokiteshvara (the Bodhisattva of Compassion). The temple is said to be a replica of the original Tsuglakhang, the main temple in Lhasa, lovingly carved by exiled Tibetan craftsmen. But at least one of the images, the 11-headed Avalokiteshvara, dates back to the 7th century CE, when the famous King Songtsen Gompa, first installed it in the temple at Lhasa. When the Chinese ransacked the temple, pious Tibetans recovered parts of the battered face from the streets and smuggled it into India (via Nepal) in 1967. These bits were then incorporated into the new image, consecrated in 1970.

Between the two statues is a wooden pulpit from where the Dalai Lama delivers his sermons to the thousands assembled in the square outside. For the religiously inclined, a trip to the Dalai Lamas own temple is the first and last stop of the day. But even for the non-religious traveller, the temple represents a blessed haven from the traffic and hawkers. Stand at any corner and prepare to be dazzled by the most breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Sunset is also the hour when the monks of the old Namgyal Monastery (Tel: 01892-221492) which conducts the many rituals and prayers that the Dalai Lama performs step into the square to practise on their long, narrow collapsible brass trumpets. No tourists or photography are permitted inside the monastery

Namgyaima Stupa
In contrast to the understated charm of the temple, the Namgyaima Stupa with its rows of prayer wheels is as loud and colourful as the marketplace in which it stands. The stupa is a memorial to the Tibetans who died fighting in their homeland. Built in a hybrid Indo-Tibetan style, it soars defiantly upwards.

Church of St John-in-the-Wilderness
Just outside Little Lhasa, as you descend towards Lower Dharamsala, is a stone building that stands aloof under giant deodar pines, disdainful of the changes all around it. The sturdy Church of St John-in-the-Wilderness, with its exquisite stained glass windows depicting John the Baptist with Jesus, was among the first buildings to be erected here by the British in 1852. It is now the only surviving monument of that time most were destroyed in the devastating earthquake of 1905.

Buried in the church cemetery is former viceroy Lord Elgin, who lost his life here while on a tour his horse lost its footing while negotiating one of the steep curves of the mountain road and landed in the gorge, killing him instantly. A marble monument rising up like a small cathedral was erected by his widow on the spot where he was buried, which after years of neglect was eventually declared a protected monument by the ASI. Service timings Sundays 10 am

Tibetan Theatre
Theatre, in the form of the traditional opera, is big in Tibetan culture. When the 80,000 Tibetans who fled with the Dalai Lama first landed here in 1959, opera was the last thing on their mind, however. But the Dalai Lama, certain that this unique performing art would disappear unless they took immediate steps to preserve it, insisted on setting up TIPA, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, within four months of their arrival. An old carpenter, the only man among the refugees able to make the pivotal musical instrument for the opera, the draynen (a cross between a violin and guitar), was put to work teaching others his skill. Those who could sing or dance or design the hundreds of costumes and shoes that go into a production volunteered.

Within a decade, TIPA became the centre of not only the Tibetans social life but of the town as well, attracting hundreds of avid fans to its annual 10-day Shoton Festival. The festival includes performances by TIPA. The high-pitched singing accompanied by drums, cymbals, splendid costumes and a wealth of oddly appealing characters including witches, kings, wise men and fools, dakinis and yogis make for an unforgettable experience. Show entry?50 Cameras Still ?100, video? 500 Contact The Secretary, TIPA, PO McLeodganj, Dharamsala, Tel: 01892-221478

Dal Lake
Legend has it that a king who went to bathe in the sacred Manimahesh Lake below the Kailash Mountain lost his gold ring. The ring then resurfaced in the Dal Lake, which was then considered the poor mans Manimahesh those who couldnt afford to go to Kailash got their salvation by bathing in this conveniently located water body. However, old-timers say that the old Dal was a different lake altogether, with blue-green water so deep that you could go boating on it. What remains now is no more than a pond, thanks to the attempts of the Indian Army to widen it. Nonetheless, the lake is sacred to locals and teeming with goldfish, and many come to feed them. Its a beautiful walk (about 2km) to the lake from the town, though you can also drive. Ask a local to direct you to the jungle trail to Dal Lake from McLeodganj.

Bhagsunag
The Bhagsunag shrine, as old as the DalLake, if not older, though local lore putsits age at 10,000 years, is a shortdistance from town. The shrine, whoseorigin revolves around a myth about agreat fight between the demon king(Bhagsu) and the snake god (Nag), hasbeen rebuilt more than once and, in itspresent incarnation, is covered in whitebathroom tiles. But there is somethingabout Bhagsunag, with its ceaselessefforts to grasp the new theovergrowth of shacks proclaimingIndocrafts or Cafe Sea Breeze;snorkelled boys jumping into the tanks,a young Tibetan joining them,humming, Sexy, sexy mujhe log bole, asa group of monks, their faces givingaway nothing, watch from under thepeepul tree. Watching, like themountains overhead, over this noisiestefflorescence of McLeodganj, knowingthat it is only a matter of time until thistoo is absorbed into its ancient past.

Shopping
In McLeodganjs main bazaar are vendors of Tibetan carpets, thangkas, ponchos, jackets, chubas, masks, votive objects, silver and stone jewellery and trinkets, lamps, statuettes, sleeping bags, fruit preserves tahini and muesli. You can also pick up Tibetan cheese and excellent tea, prayer wheels and flags. And, of course, dont neglect to pop into Nowrojees for unusual finds and everyday essentials.

Where to Stay
McLeodganj has something for every budget, from? 300 to 1,500-plus properties. Bhagsu and Dharmsala also have some good options.

In McLeodganj: Himachal Tourisms Hotel Bhagsu (Tel: 01892-221091-92; Tariff:? 1,200-2,800) is among the best hotels in McLeodganj. A stay here is worth it, if only for the views from the rooms, which are heavenly. Chinar Lodge (Tel:221767; Tariff:? 1,800-3,500) is close by but to be avoided despite its tempting lawns and marble lobby, unless you like to spend your holidays with noisy families.

Glenmoor Cottages (Tel: 221010; Tariff:? 5,050-6,340), set around an old cottage in a private wood, is a great option for those who like to wake up to birdsong and the rustle of leaves.

The Norbulingka Institutes Chonor House (Tel: 221006/ 77;Tariff:? 3,600-5,500) is centrally located between the Thekchen Choling Temple and McLeodganj. Its11 well-equipped rooms depict Tibetan-style murals by artists from the institute, and are furnished with teak and rosewood furniture and hand-knotted carpets. All income derived from Chonor House goes to support Norbulingkas various culture preservation projects.

Surya Resort (Tel: 221418-20; Tariff: ? 3,000-5,400) is glass-and-polish antiseptic with a restaurant and bar.

In the Bhagsu Valley: Spring Valley Resort (Tel: 01892-221248; Tariff:? 2,200-3,400) is a good choice in Bhagsu, offering 20 rooms and 6 cottages, a restaurant and a terrace garden. Hotel Akashdeep (Tel:221482; Tariff:? 1,500-2,500), is a good option.

In Lower Dharamsala: White Haven Estate (Mob: 09418427531; Tariff:? 7,500-8,500) is possibly Dharamsalas prettiest property, a colonial bungalow set in an old tea estate which used to be the home of explorers Robert Shaw and John Younghusband.

The Norbulingka Institutes Norling Guest House (Tel: 246402; Tariff: ?1,850-3,600) is among Dharamsalas best equipped. You can order food at the caf, use its Internet service and the library, and get a free tour of Norbulingka. Snow Hermitage Resorts (Tel: 227189; Tariff:?3,000-4,000) is in a secluded location on Khanniara Road. The USP is its swimming pool. Clouds End Villa (Tel: 222109; Tariff:?3,000-5,000), summer home of the Kangra royals, is also a good option on the Khara Danda Road. Grace Hotel (Tel:223265; Tariff:?6,000), a Welcom-Heritage property, is a 200-year-old country manor built in traditional hill architecture. The hotel was home to a former Prime Minister of Kashmir.

Where to Eat
McLeodganj was once a haven for those sick of the staple dal-chawal-chappati hill fare, if only because they could feast on momos and noodle soups here. Now its one of the biggest backpacking haunts, reflected in the Westernised cuisine on offer. It has become quite the international food plaza: German bakeries, Tibetan momo shops, Delhi chaat bhandars, idli-dosa, Continental steaks or fish and chips and, of course, banana pancakes and pizzas.

Everyone has their favourite German Bakery or pizza joint in McLeodganj, but the more adventurous prefer heading for Dharamkot and its fragrant wood-fire-oven pizzeria offerings. At McLeodganj explore Mcllo at the Main Chowk. Not cheap. For an excellent Continental breakfast pop into Moon Peak Espresso on Temple Road or Moonlight Caf along the Bhagsu stretch. Drop in at the all-veg Nicks Italian Kitchen for their pasta and bakes. For slow dining, with classy wine and good food, head for Black Magic Restaurant. JJI Caf on Sundays has live jamming. For wholesome thalis its the Hotel India House Restaurant. The small, clean Gakyi Caf offers well cookedTibetan favourites at reasonable prices. For good veggie fare (great pizzas), its the Namgyal Caf.

Around McLeodganj
Norbulingka (14 km)The most recent Tibetan institution near Dharamsala (it is really in Siddhbari), Norbulingka has all the old-world charm of Tibetan architecture. Modelled and named after the Dalai Lamas summer palace near Lhasa, Norbulingka (Jewel Park) lives up to its name. Spread over 7 acres, its a traditional Tibetan building which made full use of the many master craftsmen from Tibet who fled here with the Dalai Lama. The architects have blended the building into the natural landscape. Not a branch lopped, not a tree felled while constructing the complex of temple, library, college, design studio, workshops, guest house and caf. Opened in 1995, the Norbulingka Institute (Tel: 01892-246402-05) is a living record of Tibets rich culture, committed to preserving those of its arts that are being wiped out in the homeland.

Thangka painting department: Here the master Temba Chophel guides his apprentices in the intricate art form. Thangkas are essentially a visual aid to prayer and meditation, but the illustration of gods in correct proportions as set down in ancient Tibetan manuscripts requires years of learning. Norbulingka has a showroom where you can place your orders. Cost may vary from?5,000-20,000.

Other dying art forms have also been resurrected here. The sculptors, for instance, who take almost 20 years to learn the art of casting the traditional Tibetan images. Wood carving, which flourished in Tibet since the 7th century CE, is being revived.

Craft department timings 8 am-5pm; Sundays closed Showroom timings 9 am-6 pm (closed for lunch, 12 noon-1 pm)

Losel Doll Museum: The tableau of figurines crafted by monks is a must-see. The 160 dolls in this collection, crafted over 15 years, are the honoured denizens of Tibets only national museum, displaying in accurate detail the regional, ritual, religious, official and theatrical costumes of Tibet.

Entry? 5 Open 9 am-noon, 2-6 pm

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Set Sail for the Galapagos http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Celebrity-Xpedition_.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/set-sail-galapagos/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/set-sail-galapagos/ 2017-05-24T18:01:41+05:30 article Cruise ship Celebrity Xpedition of Royal Caribbean Cruises sets sail for the Galapagos islands Tirun Travel Marketing, the exlusive representative of the Royal Caribbean Cruises in India is offering travellers a unique opportunity to explore the enchanting Galapagos Islands on a 7 nights cruise aboard theCelebrity Xpedition.

The ship will set sail from Baltra, which is a habitat for several species of birds and sea lions. Passengers will be able to visit theDaphne Islands, Gardner Bay, Suarez Point and Bahia Post Office. They will also be shown around Green Sand and Flour Beach at Cormorant Point. Some of the other places the journey will cover include thebeautiful Moreno Point, Urvina Bay, Espinoza Point and Vicente Roca Point. On entering the rocky, low-lying hill of Dragon Hill travellers will encounter the Galapagos' land iguana. Passengers will also enjoy the panoramic views, the flora and fauna of the South Plaza and the life of Puerto Ayora. The cruise will end at Baltra.

The Information

Sailing Dates:June 25, 2017;July 09, 2017;July 23, 2017;August 06, 2017;September 03, 2017;September 17, 2017

Ship: Celebrity Xpedition

Departing From: Baltra (Galapagos)

Sailing to: Baltra (Galapagos) - Gardner Bay (Espaola) - Cormorant Point (Floreana) - Moreno Point (Isabella) - Espinoza Point, (Fernandina) - South Plaza (Santa Cruz) - Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) - Baltra (Galapagos)

Price starting from:US$ 4,649* per person

Note*Prices are per person, based on double occupancy. Taxes and fees are additional. Conditions apply. Subject to availability. Certain restrictions apply.

For further information: TIRUN Travel Marketing- India Representative of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd:

Phone: 1800-11-5464

E-mail:cruise@tirun.com

Website:tirun.com

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Shimla: A Quick Guide to Great Walks http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/featured-11.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/shimla-quick-guide-great-walks/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/shimla-quick-guide-great-walks/ 2017-05-24T17:55:29+05:30 article Savour these great walks in India's former summer capital Now that summer's here, a trip or three to the hills would be just what the doctor ordered. And for a great hill station experience, you couldn't do much better than heading to Shimla. After all, the British made the city the Raj's summer capital for a reason. Even though the Shimla of today is crowded and often a little dingy, remember that the city boasts of some fantastic hill walks. Here are some of them. Read on and plan your holiday right now!

The Mall Just walking up the Mall Shimlas main street you come across the strangest sights. Arguably the oddest of all is the Anglican Christ Church, where the vicar once preached a sermon against the enormity of the crinoline, the extravagance of its wearers and the room it took up in the sacred edifice to the exclusion of would-be worshippers; the following Sunday all the women appeared in their riding habits. The side door to the church is normally open and if this is locked, you may ask the rector for the key. He lives in the dressed stone house by the church, where the doorway has a charming little sundial over it.

A little way down the Mall is the Gaiety Theatre, the place for amateur theatricals during the Raj. The theatre is tiny, just nine rows deep, 12 seats across, with the box of honour for the viceroy and his staff still containing its full complement of faded, crested chintz armchairs. You could easily spend a whole day in here studying the production photographs: wonderfully whacky images of plays that must have been outdated well before they were performed in 1927. Under titles such as The Fatal Nymph and Dear Brutus, tall men with false moustaches are pictured kneeling down, proposing marriage to comely girls in flapper hats, while conspiratorial housemaids in starched linen hold up the vicar out in the front hall. The players on Gaietys stage have included Rudyard Kipling while the viceroy, Lord Lytton, wrote and staged the play Walpole.

At the end of the Mall promenade also lies Scandal Point, a memory of Shimlas once libertine lifestyle. For tame as it may appear today, Shimla was in some ways a sort of red light district for the Raj. In Kiplings Plain Tales From the Hills, the same plot repeats itself over and over again: after the boredom of a remote posting, the young Englishman goes up to Shimla where, bowled over by the sudden glut of fair young English women, he falls in love with a Mrs Hauksbee or a Mrs Reiver one of the towns carnivorous memsahibs. Once as chic as any street in the empire, the Mall is just a memory now. But even today it is one the longest stretches of open-air, purely pedestrian shopping in the world and forms the core of the notified Heritage Zone of Shimla. The horse rides and ice-cream vendors draw children.

Close by is Lakkar Bazaar, once famous for woodwork, with several souvenir shops.Theres an ice-skating rink on the slope below Scandal Point.

Jakhoo Hill, towering over the ridge, is Shimlas highest point, with a Hanuman Temple on top. Sunset views here are especially magnificent during the monsoons. En route to the temple is Rothney Castle, residence of AO Hume, believed to be the founder of the Indian National Congress. While the route from the ridge is the standard one, a track variation may be made from Sanjauli to pass through a thick wood of oak, rhododendron and cedar.

The old Viceregal Lodge on the Observatory Hill is perhaps the most resonant of old structures in Shimla. Its a grim Scotch baronial confection variously compared to a lunatic asylum and Londons Gothic St Pancras Station. For despite appearances, there was always a deadly serious side to Shimla. The viceroy was the spider at the heart of Shimlas web. From his chambers in the Viceregal Lodge, he pulled the strings of an empire that stretched from Rangoon in the east to Aden in the west. Shimla may have looked like some English seaside resort, but the town was in fact one of the great political capitals of the world: At its height it was nearly as powerful as Paris and Berlin. Among the events that played out here was the momentous decision taken to partition India. In the evenings, the viceroy would hold balls as grand as anything thrown by the Russian Tsar, his only rival in Asia: At the Viceroys evening parties, wrote Aldous Huxley, the diamonds were so large they looked like stage gems. It was impossible to believe that the pearls in the million-pound necklaces were the genuine excrement of oysters. Today the Viceregal Lodge houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. When the lodge was first built, Londons smartest outfitters, Maples of London, supplied the furnishings, and it was said that the Indian income-tax was introduced to pay for it all. Though little of that old glory remains, one can still walk around in some portions of the first floor, including the main halland a small museum, which are accessible on a nominal ticket. The institute is surrounded by attractive grounds while the hill has some good short walks.

If you go there by foot, there are interesting stops on this 2-hour walk from the Mall. St Michaels Cathedral was built for the towns Catholic community by Lord Ripon, whod turned Catholic at 46. A little ahead is Gorton Castle, secretariat of the Imperial Government of India. Further on, Himachal State Museum has a display of the states cultural and archaeological heritage. The gallery on miniature paintings is especially noteworthy. Inverarm, the building that holds the museum, once housed a member of the viceroys Council.

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New Delhi: Summer Delights at Fio Cookhouse http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Fio-Cookhouse-Lettuce-Cup-Salad.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/new-delhi-summer-delights-fio-cookhouse/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/new-delhi-summer-delights-fio-cookhouse/ 2017-05-24T17:38:25+05:30 article This summer, beat the heat with these fruity delights Summer's here and with it came the bounty of seasonal fruits. Fio Cookhouse has turned this bounty into a sumptious selection of summer goodies. Their new summer menu is fresh with both savoury and sweet flavours. With a lot of summer fruits like watermelon, pineapples, mango, lychee and coconuts, Fio is calling their menuFresh at Fio.
Go for some burrata cheese & water melon salad and jerk chicken supreme with pineapple plum glazea great kickstart. Dishes like thyme green mango chickpea risotto dumpling, roasted chicken with potato mint mash, and peri peri olive salsa make for a great main course. Also, treat yourself to their delicious selection of desserts like dark chocolate mango mousse and lychee-coconut sorbet.
Where: Fio Cookhouse, Epicuria, Nehru Place
Time: 12pm-12:30am
Price: ?3,500 for two.
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Pattadakkal And Aihole: Heritage Circuit http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/karnataka1_Pattadakkal_TI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/pattadakkal-aihole-heritage-circuit/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/pattadakkal-aihole-heritage-circuit/ 2017-05-24T15:08:36+05:30 article Aihole and Pattadakal boasts of some of the country's greatest examples of ancient temple architecture The small villages of Aihole and Pattadakkal are crucial day trips for purists who want a fuller picture behind the tourist attraction of Badami. Before Badami became the capital of the Western Chalukyas, Aihole and Pattadakal each briefly enjoyed that position, resulting in a flurry of temple building in each of these areas, with Aihole today considered one of the earliest and best examples of rock-cut architecture in the subcontinent.

Although small and lacking in all but the most basic tourist facilities, these 7th-century CE sites pack in an incredible wealth of heritage and history.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Pattadakkal

Pattadakkal, 29 km to the north-west of Badami, was the second capital and the coronation town of the early Chalukyas. The complex with 10 temples dates from 7th to 9th centuries CE. The Rashtrakuta Jain Temple outside the complex, currently under restoration, is built on the banks of the Malaprabha (Tungabhadra) river. The 8th-century Kaddi Siddesvara Temple and the Galaganatha shrine are the first temples youll come across. Adjacent stand the walled remnants of the coronation hall. The tiny Jambulinga Temple is supposed to have inspired the tapered shikharas of Orissas temples. Adding to its beauty is the makara torana, with a brilliantly executed Nataraja. The Dravidian style Sangameshwara Temple, on the right, was built by Vijayaditya (6-7th centuries CE).

The 8th-century Virupakasha and Mallikarjuna are two notable temples in Pattadakkal, apart from Papanatha, dedicated to Surya. The Virupaksha Temple was built by Lokamahadevi, the chief queen of Vikramaditya II. An impressive and nearly intact Nandi sits majestically on the front porch. The beautiful pillared hall has panels depicting scenes from Hindu myths and epics. Virupaksha incorporates all aspects of temple building with beautiful pillars, rows of ganas on the plinth, and jewelled pearl etchings for trims.

Trilokamahadevi, another queen of Vikramaditya II, built the Trilokeshwara Temple, now known as the Mallikarjuna Temple. The panels here also show stories from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Outside the complex is the Papanath Temple, the oldest of the lot, dating to 8th century CE. It has mythological scenes carved on its ceilings and walls. Its doorways are very ornate.

TIP Pattadakkal does not have any hotels or eateries. For food, do try the local jowari roti, sprouts cooked in spices and sweet yoghurt in earthen pots sold around the complex

Aihole

Originally named Aryapura, Aihole, also to the northwest of Badami (46 km), was a university town that patronised art, culture and education. It once boasted of 500 teachers and many arts. Hailed as the birthplace of structural temple architecture in Karnataka, its ruins and temples (built between the 6th and 12th centuries CE) dot the drive into the town. The route via Pattadakkal is shorter by 12 km.

The late 6th century CE Ravanaphadi Cave has a Nandi in front. Dedicated to Shiva, the cave has a pillared porch, apart from a sanctum. There are life-size sculptures of Ardhanariswara and Harihara at the entrance. Inside, look for the Saptamatrikas (fertility goddesses). Nearby is the Huchchimalli Temple, where restoration work is under way.

The Durga Complex houses a series of temples. The shrine to Durga is eye-catching for its unique structure and sheer magnificence. Laid out in an apsidal plan, it is one of the first three-celled temples (trikuta) in Karnataka, with a common pillared hall. Behind the Durga Temple stands the 7th-century Lad Khan Temple, which folk lore says, owes its name to a Muslim noble who lived in the temple during the British rule. Two other flat-roofed temples, Gaudhar Gudi and Chikki Gudi (both dedicated to Shiva), within the complex belong to the same age. A pillar to the right of the entrance flaunts the Chalukya royal emblem arranged in a semi-circle boar, flag, conch and the wheel of life. A large stone Nandi dominates the central hall.

Southeast of Lad Khan is the Bhagvati Temple, whose uniqueness lies in its circumambulatory path, missing from the earlier Chalukya temples. Do stop to admire its ornate doorways.

A Nandi sits across the east-facing Mallikarjuna, Galagnatha and Surya temples. Beside the Durga complex is the Jyotirlinga complex comprising 11 temples.

The Archaeological Museum of Aihole, behind the Durga Temple, houses several Chalukya sculptures.

The most interesting structure in Aihole is the 6th century CE Buddhist ruin of a chaityacut in the face of the Megutti Hill. One of the oldest temples, it still remains half-excavated.

The wealth of heritage at Aihole has put it on the list of potential UNESCO World Heritage sites.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

There are no accommodation options or eateries in these places. It is best to make Badami your base to visit these sites.

The best hotel in Badami is Hotel Badami Court (Tel: 08357-220207; Tariff: ?4,800-5,800) with a restaurant, Internet and swimming pool. Then there is Krishna Heritage (Tel: 221300, Cell: 09901912127; Tariff: ?4,000-5,000) and The Heritage Resort (Tel: 220250, Cell: 09449854711; Tariff: ?2,000-3,200). Good, cheaper options here include KSTDCs Hotel Mayura Chalukya (Tel: 220046, Cell: 08970650024; Tariff: ?1,000-2,500), Hotel Mookambika Palace (Tel: 220067; Tariff: ?950-1,950) and Hotel Anand Deluxe (Tel: 220074, Cell: 09448559892; Tariff: ?500-2,000).

There are limited eating options in Aihole. Most of the restaurants offer only south-Indian vegetarian cuisine. In Badami, Hotel Pulkeshi Restaurant at Badami Court is open 24 hours. Heritage Resort has a vegetarian restaurant and Krishna Heritage serves good multicuisine fare. You can savour both north-Indian and south- Indian food at Hotel Anand Deluxe. The dhaba food is pretty good here fried avalakki (soaked and dried rice with fried groundnuts) works well with hot tea.

When to go Between September and February. Summer in this region is hot Location Set in the southern Deccan Trap Air Nearest airport: Hubli Rail Nearest rail: Badami, Bagalkot

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

Government of Karnataka

No. 49, Second Floor, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road, Bengaluru

Tel: 080-22352828

W karnatakatourism.org,

KSTDC

Central Reservation Office

Badami House, NR Square, Bengaluru

Tel: 43344334/ 37

Cell: 08970650070

W karnatakaholidays.net

KSTDC

A One-Stop-Shop

No 8, Papanna Lane

St Mark's Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 43464351/ 53

Jungle Lodges & Resorts

GF, West Entrance, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 40554055

W junglelodges.com

Tourist Information Counter

Bengaluru International Airport

Devanahalli. Cell: 08970650072

Kempegowda Bus Station

(Majestic) Bengaluru Tel: 22356246

Cell: 08970650075

Department of Tourism

Govt of Karnataka, KSTDC Hotel Complex

Ramdurgi Road, Badami

Tel: 08357-220414

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Kemmannagundi: A Monarchs Retreat http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/karnataka5_Kammannagundi_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kemmannagundi-monarchs-retreat/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kemmannagundi-monarchs-retreat/ 2017-05-24T14:58:37+05:30 article Thick forests, great views and roaring waterfalls make this an ideal getaway from Bengaluru Kemmannagundi is actually a single, secluded hill thats been successfully posing as a hill station ever since Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar IV made it his summer haven in 1932. Its compact charms views, waterfalls, gardens, all in a days work make it one of the most fun-filled holiday destinations from Bengaluru. Every Saturday families head for this getaway that still carries the grand title of Krishna Rajendra Hill Station.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The 61-km ride from Chikmagalur to Kemmannagundi is replete with views of sprawling coffee estates shaded with silver oaks. The Horticulture Department Guest House is thick with flowers and a lawn that invites you to put your feet up and unwind in the garden over a cup of tea.

Still, the 4,705-ft-high Krishna Rajendra Hill manages to provide its visitors almost everything a full-fledged hill station does. Theres the rock garden within the guesthouse premises maintained by the Horticulture Department. The Kallahati Falls (10 km), also known as Kalahasti Falls, descend from a height of 122 m and are quite pretty. Its a lovely place for a picnic lunch. You could take a short trek to the Hebbe Falls (8 km), but dont attempt swimming here. And then theres Z Point, a good place from which to watch sunsets. The place is popular with trekkers.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

In Kemmannagundi proper, the hilltop Horticulture Department Guest House (Tel: 08261-237126; Tariff: ?600-1,680) is the only option. Most of the rooms here are ordinary. There is a restaurant as well. But Raj Bhawan (Tel: 237126; Tariff: ?1,680), right on top, has fantastic views and adequately furnished large rooms. Located a few kilometres away from the town, Ozone Valley (Cell: 09448971207, 07353706047; Tariff: ?1,800 per person) is a beautiful hill resort amidst coffee plantations.

The food served at the Horticulture Departments Guest House in Kemmannagundi is not all that great. Bring snacks because there are no shops nearby. Try dilpasand from any roadside stall, a heavy bread filled with sweetmeats and coco nut.

When to go Just after the rains, from mid- September to February Location This hill station gazes down on the coffee-covered Malnad slopes Air Nearest airport: Bajpe near Mangalore and Bengaluru Rail Nearest rail: Birur

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

Government of Karnataka

No. 49, Second Floor, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road, Bengaluru

Tel: 080-22352828

W karnatakatourism.org,

KSTDC

Central Reservation Office

Badami House, NR Square, Bengaluru

Tel: 43344334/ 37

Cell: 08970650070

W karnatakaholidays.net

KSTDC

A One-Stop-Shop

No 8, Papanna Lane

St Mark's Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 43464351/ 53

Jungle Lodges & Resorts

GF, West Entrance, Khanija Bhavan

Race Course Road

Bengaluru

Tel: 40554055

W junglelodges.com

Tourist Information Counter

Bengaluru International Airport

Devanahalli. Cell: 08970650072

Kempegowda Bus Station

(Majestic) Bengaluru Tel: 22356246

Cell: 08970650075

Department of Tourism

Govt of Karnataka, KSTDC Hotel Complex

Ramdurgi Road, Badami

Tel: 08357-220414

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Vengurla: The Good Life http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/maharashtra11_Vengurla_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/vengurla-good-life/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/vengurla-good-life/ 2017-05-24T14:54:10+05:30 article A string of lovely beaches stretch along the Arabian Sea in Vengurla The wind howls high above Vengurlas lighthouse, swooshing around its little balcony that circles its rotund, red-striped tower. The sea looks like burnished liquid gold, stretching as far as the eye can see. Rustic and thoroughly Konkan at heart, Vengurla is thankfully modest on tourist trappings, and also oblivious to its own simple charms.

Small boats slice the waters as they approach a wooden pier, where fishermen busily unload the days catch of silver-grey fish. The countryside is resplendent with little rivers snaking past palms. Bordering it all, like a strip of lace, is the Sagareshwar Beach, one of the many unspoilt beaches in Vengurla.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Vengurlas beaches are quite untouched and often, you will have the beach to yourself, which is perfect for the beach buff looking for a quiet holiday. Besides chilling out on the sand, there is much to be seen ancient temples, historical forts and quaint villages, all tucked away in the green countryside.

TIP At all the beaches, there are huge waves at high tide, and so, swimming isnt encouraged and its best not to wade too deep. There are no lifeguards. Dress as conservatively as possible

Sagareshwar Beach

Located about 3 km from the bus stand, the beach is hidden away behind rows of tall casuarinas swaying in the wind. Here you can walk on soft sand dunes that are white and thick with powdery shell deposits. At night, towards the north, you can see the lights of the jetty and the red beam of the lighthouse. On some mornings, dolphins can be seen near the southern end of the beach.

Access to the beach is either through the MTDC Tent Resort or via the path that leads to the Sagareshwar Temple dedicated to Shiva. The temple, which is on the beach, has a huge deepastambh (lighted column). The structure itself is small; the temple is open only when the priest visits.

The Lighthouse

About 3 km from the town and near the jetty is Vengurlas lighthouse, reached via a win d ing path that passes through shrubs and vegetation. It is perched on a small plateau atop a hill, and offers a spectac ular view, with the immense ocean below stretching far to the horizon; the jetty and its boats; the gorgeous palm-fringed coastline to the left; and a creek far away trailing out to the sea. To the right is a sheer drop down to the sea past jagged cliffs. To the northwest are the Vengurla Rocks, also called Burnt Islands, which were an important pointer for seafarers in ancient times.

Take a stroll around the lighthouse. The northern tip overlooks an alluring horseshoe-shaped beach. Winding pathways lead down to small coves, which are actually tiny strips of sand with the cliff-face rising on both sides. It is advisable for only experienced rock-climbers to venture down, and only after checking the timings of the tides.

Vengurla Jetty

From afar, the jetty and the area around looks like a shot from a classic Cary Grant movie: a sea veiled in shifting blue, little fishing boats in the foreground, a pier, red-roofed houses clinging to a hillock in the background, and a lighthouse over-looking it all.

Vengurlas jetty was once a bustling port, part of a trading settlement set up by the Dutch. The best time to visit the jetty is at around 5.00 pm when the boats return with the days catch. The place comes alive with the sounds of fisherfolk: fisherwomen slip silver fish into their baskets and men anchor their boats with ropes. A little ahead of the slope that leads down to the jetty, look for a inconspicuous set of steps going down to a patch of beach, hidden by umbrella-like trees.

Vengurlas Fruit Research Centre

If you would like to know how mangoes keep getting bigger and more delicious, head to the Konkan Farming University and Fruit Research Centre at Vengurla. You are more likely to find it if you ask for the Sanshodhan Kendra, though. At the university, experiments on mango, cashew and fruits indigenous to the region are conducted to study the effects of pests and fertilisers.

Mochemad and Vayangani

Vayangani and Mochemad, the first two gems in the string of stunning beaches that trail the coast, lie on either side of Vengurla town. Vayangani is a tiny beach, 7 km from Vengurla, and is accessed via shady paths that wind through Vayangani Gaon, meandering between supari and casuarina groves. The way to Mochemad, 9 km from Vengurla, is past a little blue-andwhite church reminiscent of Goas churches, looking over green fields. The beach is on the road to Shiroda and, to access it, you have to get off your vehicle and walk for about a kilometre. With a backdrop of towering hills, the beach is undoubtedly the most scenic on this stretch.

Shiroda and Aravali

Keep your camera ready as you drive past these villages. White egrets dot paapdi (a locally grown bean) fields. Small bridges perch over creeks that snake out into the sea. The wind ruffles paddy fields, brushing it with different hues of green.

Shiroda, 10 km south of Vengurla, is home to the Mauli Devi Temple whose presiding deity is the kul devi, or patron goddess, of the region. The salt pans in this village are memorable, particularly because Mahatma Gandhi visited the place during the Salt Satyagraha of 1930. Aravali, Shirodas twin village, is home to the Sri Vithoba Temple and the Sateri Devi Mandir. The pen temple, open from dawn to dusk, welcomes people of all faiths.

Sagarteerth and Velagar Beaches

These beaches are about 14 km south of Vengurla town, and are attached to the villages of Shiroda and Aravali. Though both have become popular with tourists from Kolhapur and Belgaum, the beaches are still pristine. They lie in a line, one continuing from where the other leaves off. The white sand glitters silver in the moonlight, thanks to the high content of shell deposits. The resorts located here offer dolphin cruises at Velagar Beach.

Redi Beach

About 21 km south of Vengurla, Redi is the southernmost beach in Maharashtra, bordering Tiracol and Goa. Redi is known to many as a small mining town. But its most famous for its Ganapati Temple, close to the beach, and the 6-foothigh statue of the elephant god. Stroll down the path behind the temple for a view of a stretch of beach that goes right down to Mochemad. The access road to the temple is a bit bumpy.

Also visit the Redi Jetty, about 5 minutes from the temple, from where you can see barges being loaded with ore from the region, to be taken to Goa to be refined.

WHERE TO STAY

In Vengurla town

Sagar Sarita Beach Resort (Tel: 02366-262698; Tariff: ?1,500-2,000) on Vengurla bunder offers five luxury tents with sea view, a restaurant and bar. So does Sagar Holiday Resort (Tel: 280363, Cell: 09405227521; Tariff: ?1,500-2,000), also on Vengurla bunder. Mermaid Beach Resort (Tel: 262203, Cell: 0943683855; Tariff: ?2,000-3,000) offers two sea-facing rooms, and some at the back. Gajli Hotel (Tel: 262615; Tariff: ?1,200-2,000) has four rooms, three of them sea-facing.

Perched on a rocky outcrop, a stones throw from Vengurla Jetty is the PWD guesthouse Sagar (Tel: 262411; Tariff: ?800), facing the sea, with two VIP rooms. Samir (Tel: 262112; Tariff: ?400 per person) near the Fruit Research Centre in the Camp Area, is a PWD property with two rooms. Reservations have to be made at the PWD head office (Tel: 02363-272214) at Moti Talao in Sawantwadi. You have to collect your pass from this office before heading to Vengurla.

Hardika Beach Resort (Tel: 228293, Cell: 07507596776; Tariff: ?800-1,200) located close to Nivati Beach has 15 rooms in three cottages. MyBoli Hotel (Tel: 263255; Tariff: ?750-2,000) is another good option on Kudal Vengurla Road.

Tucked away in a beautiful, quiet village called Math, about 6 km from Vengurla, lies the peaceful Dhuri Homestay (Cell: 09420740901, 09604165641; Tariff: ?1,200). It offers two clean and comfortable rooms set amid small groves. The food is traditional home-made Konkan food with both vegetarian and nonvegetarian options available.

On Sagareshwar Beach

Hotel Kokan Kinara (Tel: 263366; Tariff: ?1,200-1,500) is a deluxe hotel on Sagareshwar Beach with a garden restaurant, bar and a swimming pool. They also run Sneha Farm House (Cell: 098203-82343, 09637844061; Tariff: ?1,200- 1,500) in Kudal.

On Velagar Beach

The best option on the beach is the Dolphin Bay Beach Resort (Tel: 227529, Cell: 08806726299; Tariff: ?600-2,500), which has six huts with common baths. They have well-furnished, clean air-conditioned rooms as well.

WHERE TO EAT

Vengurla has a few small restaurants. Bamboo Inn on the road to Sagareshwar Beach, about 1.5 km from the ST bus stand, serves good seafood, Chinese and vegetarian dishes. It comes with a bar and restaurant, as does Gajaalee near the jetty, which, thanks to its location, serves a popular fish thali. You can find several hole-in-the-wall places like Gomantak in the market, which serve both vegetarian and fish dishes.

When to go November-February is the best Location On the far south of Maharashtras Konkan strip, near the border with Goa, just 28 km from Sawantwadi Air Nearest airport: Dabolim, Goa Rail Nearest rail: Sawantwadi

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

MTDC Mumbai

Tel: 022-22044040

W maharashtratourism.gov.in

Bhandardara

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Shendi

Bhandardara

Tel: 02424-257171, 257032

STD code 02424

Harihareshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Harihareshwar

Near Kalbhairav Temple

Tel: 02147-226036, Cell: 08879222040

STD code 02147

Ganapatipule

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Holiday Resort

Tel: 02357-235248, 235061-62

STD code 02357

Kunkeshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Tarkarli

Tel: 02365-252390

STD code 02364

Vengurla

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Project Office

C-Block, 1st Floor, NH17, Oras

Sindhudurg

Tel: 02362-228785, 228115

STD code 02366

THE INFORMATION

Kaas Plateau

Tourist Information Centre

Forest Office

Dy Conservator Of Forests

(Satara Division)

Old Treasury Office Compound,

Powai Naka, Satara

Tel: 02162-220058/59

W kas.ind.in

STD code 02162

Tadoba Tiger Reserve

Wildlife/ Forest Dept Office

Chief Conservator of Forests

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Rambag Colony, Mul Road

Chandrapur

Tel: 07172-251414, 255980

W mahaecotourism.gov.in

STD code 07172

Kamshet

MTDC, Karla

Tel: 02114-282230, 282064, 282102

STD code 02114

Toranmal

MTDC

T/1, Golf Club, Old Agra Road, Nashik

Tel: 0253-2570059, Fax: 2579352

W .mtdcindia.com

STD code 02566

Melghat Tiger Reserve

Chief Conservator of Forests and Field

Director

Melghat Tiger Reserve, Camp Amravati

Tel: 0721-2662792, 2551766

STD code 0721

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Kausani: Alpine Beauty http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/uttarakhand6_Kausani_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kausani-alpine-beauty/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kausani-alpine-beauty/ 2017-05-23T16:48:37+05:30 article Famous for its Himalayan views and connection with Mahatma Gandhi, Kausani offers serenity Kausani lies on the ridge separating the Kosi valley in the west from the Gomti river valley in the east. Both the mellow slopes of Kosi valley, which run along Almora-Kausani Road, and Garud valley on the Gomti river, on the road to Bageshwar, are carpeted with fields and meadows all along.

When Mahatma Gandhi came to Kausani in 1929 to relax for a couple of days during his pan-India tour, so captivated was he by the majestic view of the greater Himalaya from this quaint little town that he stayed on for 14 days, even christening it the Switzerland of India.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The town itself is nothing more than a few local shops, a tiny taxi stand and a few houses on crossroads. There is no local public transport, no Mall Road like Mussoorie or Nainital with their numerous restaurants or gift shops. But that also means that there are no bustling crowds of tourists.

Walks

Kausanis location at a height, with the Kosi valley below, offers gentle walks on winding, mist-covered roads, with the clouds parting occasionally to reveal views of the greater Himalayas.

From the crossroads, the road leading to KMVN Tourist Rest House and Estate Guest House offers the best view of the Himalayas above and a green undulating landscape below. If youre coming from Almora, take the second left to reach the Estate Guest House. A beautiful Colonial building dating from 1922, it is only open to VIPs and youll need to have good contacts to be able to actually stay here. However, you can take a walk around the expansive grounds.

Anasakti Ashram

This ashram, located a few minutes steep walk from the crossroads, is dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji wrote the prologue of his famous work, Anasakti Yoga during his two-week stay here.

The ashram has books on Gandhi and his philosophies, and a display of black-and-white photos detailing his youth, student life and his vast political career. It is also possible to stay at the ashram. There is no entry fee, but a donation is expected.

Pant Museum

Located in a narrow lane off the crossroads, this is more a memorial to Sumitranandan Pant, the famous Hindi poet and literary figure, than a museum. He was born in this house, and spent his formative years here. The memorial has photos from Pants life, including ones with his friend Harivansh Rai Bachchan, father of superstar Amitabh Bachchan, and quite a large library. However, the place is not well-maintained and is in dire need of upkeep.

Tea Garden

Five kilometres on the Bageshwar Road, youll come across the tiny tea garden of Girias Uttaranchal Tea Company. It is a small, unprepossessing place, but you can ask for a tour of the factory, and they will happily show you around.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

The best option here is Mountain Villa (Tel: 05962-258060, Delhi Reservations Tel: 011-22753151/8774; Tariff: ?3,500-5,000), part of Chevron Hotels & Resorts. Another excellent option, again by Chevron, is Eco Lodge (Delhi Reservations Tel: 252867; Tariff: ?6,500-9,500; ask for packages). The Heritage Resort (Cell: 08958667000, 09720193444; Tariff: ?3,500-5,500), on Baijnath Road, has rooms and independent cottages. KMVNs Trishul Tourist Rest House (Tel: 258006, Cell: 08650002545; Tariff: ?1,800-3,000) has cottages, suites and rooms. Hotel Hill Palace (Tel: 258002; Tariff: ?3,500-8,000) is a fancier option. The elegant Kosi Valley Retreat (Cell: 09594785345, 09820841006; Tariff: ?5,500, with two meals) is on the Almora Road, 18 km from Kausani. They organise adventure sports.

Kitchen Restaurant and Yogi Restaurant on the Mall, and Hill Queen and Saurabh near Anasakti offer vegetarian Punjabi, Gujarati and sometimes Kumaoni cuisine.

When to go April-June and September-November Location At an elevation of 5,500 in the Kumaon Himalayas, 145 km NW of Haldwani Air Nearest airport: Pantnagar Rail Nearest rail: Kathgodam

THE INFORMATION

Chamba

GMVN

Tourist Bungalow

Chamba

Tel: 01376-255245

STD code01376

Gwaldam

GMVN

Tourist Rest House

Gwaldam. Tel: 01363-274244

Cell: 09568006660

STD code01363

Munsiyari

KMVN

Tourist Rest House

Munsiyari

Tel: 05961-222339

Cell: 07534001701

STD code05961

Askot

KMVN

Tourist Rest House

Pithoragarh. Cell: 08650002538

STD code05964

Binsar WLS

Wildlife Warden

Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Range Office, Ayarpani

Cell: 09412928289

DFO

Civil Soyam Forest Division

Almora. Tel: 05962-230229

KMVN

Binsar. Cell: 08650002537

STD code05962

THE INFORMATION

Ramgarh

KMVN

Tourist Reception Centre

Ramgarh. Tel: 05942-281155

STD code05942

Nandhaur WLS

Divisonal Forest Office

Haldwani Forest Division

Tikonia Campus. Tel: 05946-220002

Nandhaur WLS SDO

Cell: 09411076337

STD code05946

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Mapusa: The Heart of Goa http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Goa12_Mapusa_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/mapusa-heart-goa/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/mapusa-heart-goa/ 2017-05-23T16:38:23+05:30 article Mapusa's Friday Market is the place to see the real Goa Mapusa (maap being Konkani for measure) is the capital of Goas Bardez Taluka and a trading centre. This was once an agrarian community, where villages worked on community land and shared the profits. Market day was a major event, with goods brought in from every district to one central area.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The city is said to have grown with the blessings of Lord Bodhgeshwar, whose temple stands off NH17. The influx of his devotees further encouraged trade in oil, diyas, fruit, flowers and the ubi quitous coconut. Mapusa has thus been a market town for many centuries.

Friday Market

Today, Mapusa is synonymous with its Friday Market, located outside the Mapusa Municipal Market. Friday sees most housewives from Bardez and Tiswadi descend on the stalls selling a staggering variety of local produce brought in by farmers and small entrepreneurs from all over Goa.

If you are looking for the essence of Goa, this market is a must-see. The place is a riot of colour and noise. Goan women dressed in their colourful best come in from surrounding villages to sell their wares, including spices of all kinds. Fresh fruit, mostly organically grown, is in abundance. Get yourself a string of churis or Goas mouthwatering sausages, spiced and marinated in feni. And theres Goas secret ingredient for all those sweet and sour curries round lumps of seedless tamarind, or amot as it is known locally.

The Friday Market winds up by dusk and Mapusa gets back to normal, until the following Friday.

Bodhgeshwar Temple

Whether you see it by night or day, the Bodhgeshwar Temple nestled under a banyan tree is a special sight. Lit up, it glows like a jewel with the night sky above. Bodhgeshwar was a very accessible god who used to sit below the banyan tree around which this small but beautiful temple has been built. Goans of all faiths would come to him with their troubles and he would offer solutions, a tradition that continues into the present. Grateful supplicants from all over Goa flock to this temple for the annual mela, held in the third week of January.

The Hanuman Theatre just across the road from the temple holds local plays tiatrs in Konkani, nataks in Marathi and performances by visiting troupes from outside Goa. The next ward Cunchelim has quaint houses dating back to Portuguese times.

Mapusa Church

This church is known both as St Jeromes Church and also as the Church of Our Lady of Milagres, with the Milagres Feast celebrated every third Sunday after Easter. This feast is important to both Hindus and Christians who participate enthusiastically.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Hotel Satyaheera (Tel: 08322262849; Tariff: ?1,700-4,500) has a popular rooftop restaurant. Green Park (Tel: 2250667; Tariff: ?1,500-2,900) and GTDCs Mapusa Residency (Tel: 2262794/ 694; Tariff: ?850-2,580) are the best hotels.

The municipal market has Simonia Bakery that serves the best pinagre, dodol, doce and bebinca. Visit St Francis Bakery and Caf Aurora for Goan food.

Try Hotel Vrindavan for southIndian food or Moon Light near the Municipal Garden, Ruchira Restaurant, Babaji, a juice and snack bar that also sells packed meals, Bawarchi or the more upmarket Satyaheera, both next to the Hanuman temple.

When to go Late October-February Location At the heart of Bardez Taluka, Mapusa is 13 km north of Panjim Air Nearest airport: Dabolim Rail Nearest rail: Thivim Station

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

1st Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 0832-2494200

Wgoatoursim.gov.in

Central Reservations Office

GTDCL, 2nd Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 2437701, 2438002-03, 2438866

GTDCL

Facilitation Counter

Goa Airport, Dabolim

Tel: 2540829, 2540031

Wgoa-tourism.com

GTDCL

Opposite Municipal Garden

Madgaon. Tel: 2715528, 2715096

GTDCL

Mapusa Residency

Near bus stand

Calangute - Mapusa Raod

Mapusa

Tel: 2262794/ 694

GTDCL

Vasco Residency

Near Railway Station

Vasco

Tel: 251319, 2511002

Mollem NP

Deputy Conservator of Forests

Wildlife and Eco-Tourism, Panjim

Tel: 0832-2229701

Wforest.goa.gov.in

STD Code0832

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Kunkeshwar: Light of the Silvery Moon http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/maharashtra8_Kunkeshwar_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kunkeshwar-light-silvery-moon/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kunkeshwar-light-silvery-moon/ 2017-05-23T16:25:58+05:30 article A pristine white sandy beach adds to the beauty of an old seaside temple The sloping dunes of Kunkeshwar, visible past palm trees and from the road that leads up to the shore are a precursor to the real, rugged beauty of the beach. This wide, open stretch is seldom visited, not even by the pilgrims at the Kunkeshwar Temple. The temples multi-coloured spire reaches for the blue sky and gives the beach its name Kunkeshwar, meaning Lord Shiva. Legend has it that an Arabian traders boat got caught in a storm off the Kunkeshwar Coast a few hundred years ago. He wouldve drowned if not for the light glowing in the erstwhile Shiva temple, which Yadava rulers had built in 1100. The light guided him to the safety of the shore and he built a new temple there as an expression of his gratitude.

There is indeed much to look forward to at Kunkeshwar. Theres the sunset, when the sun appears like a glittering diamond on the horizon. There are the hapus mangoes, popular across the world. There is the gleaming white sand and waves. But the best gift of all comes at night, when the sea shimmers because of phosphorescence.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The temple at Kunkeshwar is a must-visit for followers of Lord Shiva. Those who wish to give the temple a miss may head straight for the beach located at the base of the temple.

The Beach

Go past the shops in front of the temple, descend the steps to the back of the temple. There, in front of you is an empty beach. Besides little fishing boats, a stray dog or two and a few crabs, the beach is all yours. For a panoramic view of the sea, climb up the slope behind the temple, past giant banyans. Sit here and watch the sun go down.

In the winter months, as night draws, the sea comes alive because of phosphorescence. Every rippling wave is crested with a streak of peculiar light that grows in intensity, tingeing the waves with green and white before disappearing.

Its a rare phenomenon along the western coast; the phorescence is caused because of the presence of microscopic sea organisms, especially crustaceans, which, small as they are, collectively look like liquid silver when disturbed.

Kunkeshwar Temple

The temple is a monolith with tiers of bright colour on the outside. However, the serenity inside belies its newly paint ed exterior. Lotus flowers, coconut offerings, the temple bell that clangs now and then, and the scent of incense calm the senses. The original architecture of the temple is still visible in a few parts.

Note People of all faiths visit the temple. Dress conservatively

Tara Mumbri Beach

About 4 km north of Kunkeshwar, Tara Mumbri is a little village with a beach. Here too, at sunset, the surreal phosphorescence phenomenon occurs in the sea. On the beach, youll see fishermen getting ready to go out to the sea for the evening catch, while local women trawl for clams with plate-sized nets in ankle-deep water.

Devgad

Devgad is a town 27 km away, dotted with mango groves. The trees swoop down to touch the ground, their branches jewelled with pendulous green fruit. The houses here have Mangalore tiles and courtyards; there are hibiscus hedges and golden cashew fruits; and you are sure to run into a scarecrow in the mango groves. Most farmers are a tad bit skeptical of the idea of people walking around in their orchards but you can try and get permission.

True to its name, Devgad (literally, House of God) is dotted with temples, the biggest being the Gajbadevi Temple at Mithbao (Dagare Wadi), and Vimleshwar Temple. The latter is 14 km from Devgad, and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Stone elephants guard the entrance. Both shrines are open through the day. The Rameshwar Mandir falls on the road to Vijaydurg, at Achara, 23 km from Malvan. The main idol of Lord Shiva here, mounted on a Nandi bull, is believed to be made of solid silver, weighing 50 kg. The samadhi of Sambhaji Angre (son of Kanoji Angre and his first wife Mathurabai) is located nearby.

Despite its fame as a mango capital, Devgad is also a fishing town. To see where the catch comes from, take a stroll towards the jetty in the evening. Also stop to look at the ultramodern windmills on the way to Vijaydurg, standing like tall white storks against the sky.

The Devgad Fort was built by the Angres, who lost it to the marauding British in the early 1800s. What remains today are just ruins.

WHERE TO STAY

In and Around Kunkeshwar

Bhakti Niwas (Tel: 02364-2486750; Tariff: ?250-300), just next to the Kunkeshwar Temple, lets out 18 rooms, of which only three have attached baths. Though it has the perfect location, the rooms are spartan. It doesnt have a restaurant, though meals can be had at the eateries outside the premises.

In Devgad

Galaxy Resort (Tel: 02364-261789; Tariff: ?1,800-2,100 for four people) offers four rooms with room service. Keep in mind that the hotel does not accept credit cards.

Located opposite the Devgad state bus stand, Hotel Parijat (Tel: 262302; Tariff: ?400-1,000) has an attached restaurant, a TV in every room, and room service. If youre here in April, the hapus bazaar is just a minute away. The hotel is not recommended for single women travellers. Cash only.

The Green Villa Guesthouse (Tel: 262540; Tariff: ?650-1,200) at Jamsande provides breakfast, hot water and room service. It is located about 16 km from Kunkeshwar.

WHERE TO EAT

Sudha Shanti Uphar Graha Restaurant is at the entrance to the temple and is open from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm. They serve what is known as Konkani Brahman food, but you must order at least an hour in advance. More well-equipped is the Abhiruchi Restaurant, also situated at the foot of the temple. It serves Malvan vegetarian cuisine but again, you have to order well in advance. Besides the satisfying vegetarian thali, try the ukdeele modak (a fig-shaped sweet made from flour, steamed and stuffed with a sugar and coconut filling) and the aamras. Annapurna and Adhar, just outside the temple, offer nonvegetarian thalis.

Sanika Restaurant, behind Devgads state bus stand, serves typically Konkani vegetarian and nonvegetarian meals.

In Devgad, Diamond Hotel, opposite English School, is the best option, with excellent Konkani and Punjabi fare. They are open only for lunch and dinner. Prapanch, opposite the Government Hospital, is the only vegetarian restaurant here.

When to go November-February. For hapus, visit in April. Phosphorescence is seen in winter Location Kunkeshwar is on the South Konkan Coast, south of the mango capital Devgad and the sea fort of Vijaydurg Air Nearest airport: Dabolim, Goa Rail Nearest rail: Kankavli

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

MTDC Mumbai

Tel: 022-22044040

W maharashtratourism.gov.in

Bhandardara

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Shendi

Bhandardara

Tel: 02424-257171, 257032

STD code 02424

Harihareshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Harihareshwar

Near Kalbhairav Temple

Tel: 02147-226036, Cell: 08879222040

STD code 02147

Ganapatipule

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Holiday Resort

Tel: 02357-235248, 235061-62

STD code 02357

Kunkeshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Tarkarli

Tel: 02365-252390

STD code 02364

Vengurla

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Project Office

C-Block, 1st Floor, NH17, Oras

Sindhudurg

Tel: 02362-228785, 228115

STD code 02366

 

THE INFORMATION

Kaas Plateau

Tourist Information Centre

Forest Office

Dy Conservator Of Forests

(Satara Division)

Old Treasury Office Compound,

Powai Naka, Satara

Tel: 02162-220058/59

W kas.ind.in

STD code 02162

Tadoba Tiger Reserve

Wildlife/ Forest Dept Office

Chief Conservator of Forests

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Rambag Colony, Mul Road

Chandrapur

Tel: 07172-251414, 255980

W mahaecotourism.gov.in

STD code 07172

Kamshet

MTDC, Karla

Tel: 02114-282230, 282064, 282102

STD code 02114

Toranmal

MTDC

T/1, Golf Club, Old Agra Road, Nashik

Tel: 0253-2570059, Fax: 2579352

W .mtdcindia.com

STD code 02566

Melghat Tiger Reserve

Chief Conservator of Forests and Field

Director

Melghat Tiger Reserve, Camp Amravati

Tel: 0721-2662792, 2551766

STD code 0721

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Harihareshwar: The Pilgrims Progress http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/maharashtra2_Harihareshwar_TI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/harihareshwar-pilgrims-progress/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/harihareshwar-pilgrims-progress/ 2017-05-23T16:06:22+05:30 article This destination on the Konkan coast is renowned for its temple and beach While most people come to Harihareshwar for its temple, the beach here is quite popular as well. Waves lap at the shore of this Om-shaped stretch of sand so gently that it seems as if you are standing by a lake; and the seas magnificence is in full view only from atop the rocks dotting the shore. Near the other end of the beach is the residence of the local deity, the Kalbhairav Temple.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The Kalbhairav Temple is the nucleus of this temple town. Visit the temple in the morning, retreat for a short siesta, and then visit the beach during late afternoon.

The Beach

The long Harihareshwar Beach is deserted on weekdays. Its southern side is tranquil and placid. Although the clear waters look inviting and calm, there are strong undercurrents, which locals will testify to, citing mishaps in the past. Swimming is not advisable.

The northern stretch of Harihareshwar Beach sees few tourists on most weekdays. It has a couple of chaat stalls frequented by pilgrims and fishermen. Apart from munching the snacks on offer there and walking on the sand, theres little else to do here. The sense of isolation is complete on the southern side of the beach, where the black sands and rock formations are usually all yours.

Water World

Harihareshwar Boating Point lies just beyond the MTDC Resort as you descend to the beach. Operating from morning till twilight, and mostly during season time, private entrepreneurs offer scooter and boat rides.

Kalbhairav Temple

The Kalbhairav Temple, consisting of idols of the Hindu Trinity as well as the Goddess Parvati, is shrouded in mystery as far as its year of construction is concerned. However, most believe the first Baijirao Peshwa reconstructed it in 1723. The architecture is fairly simple and the one-storeyed structure is located within a large compound facing the sea.

WHERE TO STAY

The MTDC Resort (Tel: 02147-226036; Tariff: ?2,100-2,300) located along the beach has Konkani huts set in a bamboo grove. However, their rooms were under renovation at the time of going to print so call them in advance to check.

Harihareshwar Beach Resort (Tel: 226002, 226376; Tariff: ?2,500-3,500) is located near the Shiva Temple. They have rooms, cottages and a restaurant.

Shiv Sagar Caterers (Tel: 226038, Cell: 09273147421; Tariff: ?600-2,000) offers airy but modest rooms.

At the beginning of Temple Road is Ganga Nivas (Tel: 226243; Tariff: ?400-500), a homely stay option. Gokul (Tel: 226439; Tariff: ?1,400-4,000), opposite Kaatal Lake, has six basic rooms and four airconditioned rooms.

WHERE TO EAT

Considering youll have to walk all around Harihareshwar looking for food if you feel hungry after 9.30 pm, you would do well to place your order at a gharghuti (a home serving food) well in advance. The ones situated close to the temple, such as Prachitee, Mohan Kutumbe Restaurant and Kiran Wakankars of Mauli Beach Resort, serve only vegetarian food. Shiv Sagar Caterers, close to MTDC, serves Konkani cuisine, and specialises in prawn masala and crab curry. Try the surmai thali at Vishranti Bhojanalaya. The Guru Geeta restaurant offers vegetarian food. MTDCs Grasshopper Inn, although more pricey than the other joints, serves good food.

When to go Monsoon (June-August) is when Harihareshwar is most green and beautiful, but November-February is best for a beach holiday Location Situated in Raigad District, the temple town of Harihareshwar is set on a low cliff on the Konkan coast where the Savitri river flows into the Arabian Sea, surrounded by the four hills of Harihareshwar, Harshinachal, Bramhadri and Pushpadri Air Nearest airport: Mumbai Rail Nearest rail: Mangaon

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

MTDC Mumbai

Tel: 022-22044040

W maharashtratourism.gov.in

Bhandardara

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Shendi

Bhandardara

Tel: 02424-257171, 257032

STD code 02424

Harihareshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Harihareshwar

Near Kalbhairav Temple

Tel: 02147-226036, Cell: 08879222040

STD code 02147

Ganapatipule

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Holiday Resort

Tel: 02357-235248, 235061-62

STD code 02357

Kunkeshwar

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC

Tarkarli

Tel: 02365-252390

STD code 02364

Vengurla

Tourist Information Centre

MTDC Project Office

C-Block, 1st Floor, NH17, Oras

Sindhudurg

Tel: 02362-228785, 228115

STD code 02366

 

THE INFORMATION

Kaas Plateau

Tourist Information Centre

Forest Office

Dy Conservator Of Forests

(Satara Division)

Old Treasury Office Compound,

Powai Naka, Satara

Tel: 02162-220058/59

W kas.ind.in

STD code 02162

Tadoba Tiger Reserve

Wildlife/ Forest Dept Office

Chief Conservator of Forests

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Rambag Colony, Mul Road

Chandrapur

Tel: 07172-251414, 255980

W mahaecotourism.gov.in

STD code 07172

Kamshet

MTDC, Karla

Tel: 02114-282230, 282064, 282102

STD code 02114

Toranmal

MTDC

T/1, Golf Club, Old Agra Road, Nashik

Tel: 0253-2570059, Fax: 2579352

W .mtdcindia.com

STD code 02566

Melghat Tiger Reserve

Chief Conservator of Forests and Field

Director

Melghat Tiger Reserve, Camp Amravati

Tel: 0721-2662792, 2551766

STD code 0721

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Butterfly Island: Hidden Eden http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Goa8_Butterfly_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/butterfly-island-hidden-eden/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/butterfly-island-hidden-eden/ 2017-05-23T15:13:51+05:30 article This little cove near Palolem beach is a delight It is rare to find a secluded beach in Goa, but the beautiful Butterfly Island offers jaded tourists just that. One side of the island is home to Butterfly Beach a remarkably serene, tiny, pristine and off-the-beaten-path stretch of golden sand. Since the only way to reach this cove is by a short boat ride from the well-visited Palolem Beach, not many tourists bother with it.

Palolem Beach

The little cove is sandwiched between a thickly wooded forest, and translucent waters. You wont find any crowds, beach shacks or vendors here, and for those looking for an alternative to the touristy, crowded beaches such as Calangute or Colva, this is perfect. Carry a picnic basket, water, sunscreen, and a book and you can easily while away the whole day here. It is one of the extremely rare places in this popular destination where you can spend the whole day without talking to another soul, watching the waters lap against the sand, and crabs scurrying out of the way, undisturbed by other living beings.

When to go Late October-February Location North of Palolem Beach Air Nearest airport: Dabolim Rail Nearest rail: Canacona

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

1st Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 0832-2494200

Wgoatoursim.gov.in

Central Reservations Office

GTDCL, 2nd Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 2437701, 2438002-03, 2438866

GTDCL

Facilitation Counter

Goa Airport, Dabolim

Tel: 2540829, 2540031

Wgoa-tourism.com

GTDCL

Opposite Municipal Garden

Madgaon. Tel: 2715528, 2715096

GTDCL

Mapusa Residency

Near bus stand

Calangute - Mapusa Raod

Mapusa

Tel: 2262794/ 694

GTDCL

Vasco Residency

Near Railway Station

Vasco

Tel: 251319, 2511002

Mollem NP

Deputy Conservator of Forests

Wildlife and Eco-Tourism, Panjim

Tel: 0832-2229701

Wforest.goa.gov.in

STD Code0832

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Everest: The Hillary Step Collapses http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Everest-3.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/everest-hillary-step-collapses/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/everest-hillary-step-collapses/ 2017-05-23T14:08:32+05:30 article The famous Hillary Step on the South Col route is gone, and why that's important We're smack in the middle of the 2017 Everest season, and it's already shaping up to be a big one. To date, over a 100 people have summited the world's highest mountain from both Nepal's South Col route and Tibet'sNorth Face route. This year's climbs already includes the first ascent by a visually impaired person, an aborted speed climb, many Indian ascents and, adding to the excitement, a would-be climber who was operating without a permit was arrested by Nepalese authorities. There have also been,sadly, six deaths, including that of an Indian climber, Ravi Kumar.

While the summit pushes are in full swing, the most intriguing piece of news to come out so far is the report that the famous Hillary Step, a formidable rocky outcrop just under the main summit on the South Col route has collapsed, possibly due to the devastating earthquake of 2015.

Two years earlier, soon after the earthquake struck Nepal, there had been reports that Everest had shifted by 3 cm due to the severity of the tremblor. While that might appear pretty small, imagine the world's tallest mountain shiftingby over an inch?

When climbing resumed in 2016, there were a few stray reports from mountaineers that the rocks from the Hillary Step might be missing. This was countered by Sherpas who insisted that it's just that the Step was covered in excessive snow. This year, the controversy has reared its head again, and people are sitting up and taking notice.

The Hillary Step

Why is a 12m high rocky outcrop so important? Simply put, it is the final obstacle that all climbers on the popular South Col route have to negotiate before a clear path to the summit opens up. Its a vertical rocky outcrop, and scaling it at over 28,000 feet is not child's play. Over the years, this stretch has caused massive bottlenecks, with climbers waiting in cue to go up while those who have already summited wait to come down. At a stage when most oxygen bottles are running low, the Step posed a formidable hurdle. It was named after Edmund Hillary, who free-climbed it during his and Tenzing Norgay's maiden successful climb of Everest in 1953. Here's what Hillary had to say about this mountaineering obstacle

 

For some years now, two permanent metal ladders had been lashed to the Step, one for those going up, and the other for those descending from the summit. Right now, due to excessive snow, a temporary snow ridge has formed in that area, which climbers are using to 'bypass' the step. However, if the snow were to subside, and the Step were found to be really gone, then this would result in an even larger bottleneck, imperilling the lives of everyone on the south side of Everest.

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Kalakho: A Touch of Green http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Rajasthan10_Kalakho_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kalakho-touch-green/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kalakho-touch-green/ 2017-05-22T15:32:35+05:30 article A perfect weekend destination, Kalakho offers green hills, birds and striking heritage buildings In the rains, Kalakho is a study in green. It stands across golden fields, boasting of lakes bursting at the seams with the monsoons bounty, a picture of serene beauty. It lies amid the Aravalli Hills, beckoning tantalisingly as you drive on a dirt road zigzagging past mustard fields, a hidden getaway in the true sense of the word. It escapes the attention that so easily comes Rajasthans way and makes no appearance in the tourist itinerary. Perhaps thats what makes it such a wonderful place for a holiday.

Kalakho lies just a few kilometres off the least-explored stretch of the Golden Triangle that connects the historic capitals of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Go there on a journey of discovery and you will not be disappointed.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Youll rarely find names like Abhaneri, Madhogarh, Bhangarh and Bhandarej in travel guides, or even on most maps, ibut these are all places that can be easily accessed from Kalakho, spread along NH11 between Bharatpur and Dausa. The Dera Lakeview Retreat, which is one stay option in Kalakho, lies deep in the interiors of the Aravallis, in Kalakho Ambari Village in Sikrai Tehsil (Dausa District), 12 km from Sikandra on NH11 and 90 km short of Jaipur.

There is a lot to discover around Kalakho and a number of activities are on offer, ranging from safaris to camel cart rides. The Dera Retreat offers a different experience from Umaid Lake Palace, which is set next to a lake, albeit closer to NH11. You could spend a night in each place to enjoy their unique charms.

Explore Kalakho

Kalakho is set amid fields against the backdrop of hills. This woodsy part of the Aravallis is the perfect playground for birdwatchers. Let your love for birds lead you right up the hills, to old forts and to the pinnacles offering panoramic views. Those with a yen for solitude should stride forth with a packed lunch.

Chand Baoli

Drive straight past the busy Sikandra crossroads and on to the village of Gular, then take a right to Abhaneri. The 8thcentury baoli (stepwell) here is enormous. Built by Raja Chand, a Nikumbha Rajput of the Chamana dynasty, it is close to 65 ft deep. To reach the water, you have to go down 3,500 narrow and steep steps, punctuated by 13 landings.

Today, the stepwell is under the aegis of the Archaeo logical Survey of India (ASI), which has managed to make this age old monument look like a thing of the future, with their heavy metal frames and cordons keeping people away from the carved stone idols here.

Harshata Mata Temple

Just across from the well is the Harshata Mata shrine, dedicated to the Goddess Parvati. Built in the 7thcentury Mahameru style, it bears a surprisingly strong resemblance to the intricate carvings and ornate arcades seen at the temples of Khajuraho.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

At Dera Village Retreat (Faridabad Tel: 0129-4098000; Tariff: ?12,000, with meals), you can stay in one of the 18 airconditioned deras, each with private facilities. There is hot as well as cold water in the huts, a restaurant which serves excellent food, a host of indoor games, local musicians to serenade guests, drives, rides and treks and many more activities to choose from.

In Dausa Tehsil, Umaid Lake Palace (Tel: 01427-203166, Cell: 09799936888; Tariff: ?5,000-9,500), located in another village also called Kalakho (20 km), is not a heritage place but lies near a lake and offers safaris and activities.

Food options are limited in Kalakho. It is a good idea to eat at your hotel.

When to go October to March is the best time to visit Kalakho, but it is in the monsoon that the lake becomes full. The green surroundings then are quite scenic and perfect for a romantic getaway Location This Meena tribal village is in east Rajasthan, just off the Agra-Jaipur Highway

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Vasco Da Gama: Port of Many Colours http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Goa9_Vaso-Da-Gama_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/vasco-da-gama-port-many-colours/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/vasco-da-gama-port-many-colours/ 2017-05-22T15:27:54+05:30 article Vasco is home to Dabolim Airport, Mormugao Port and Goa's biggest naval base Despite the blue waters, swaying palms and sea breeze, Vasco da Gama doesnt inspire one to laze around and drink in the views. This is a city on the move, with none of that laidback sussegad of Panjim or Mapusa. Because it is home to Dabolim Airport, Mormugao Port and Goas biggest naval base, it is home to people from across India, which makes it a true metropolis.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Vasco is a planned city with a geometric road network with two main avenues and perpendicular roads. The municipal garden, built by the Portuguese, is pretty, lush, well-maintained and in the heart of the city, like in most of Goas big cities.

Pilot Point

The Mormugao Port Trust Road goes uphill to an open space with benches and a concrete deck. This is Pilot Point, which affords a magnificent view of the core of this port city, the bustling Mormugao Harbour. If you visit Pilot Point during the monsoons, watch your step since the mossy floor can be slippery.

Naval Aviation Museum

This museum (Tel: 08322585525), on the road to Bogmalo adjoining INS Hansa, is the only one of its kind in India. The museum, set against the backdrop of the picturesque Bogmalo Beach, has displays of various kinds of aircraft and weapons systems that the Indian naval air arm, which is headquartered in Goa, has operated. The armament room houses different bombs used against surface targets and torpedoes that target submarines. The safety equipment room displays the pilot flying gear in entirety, complete with an ejection seat. There are models and rare photographs of the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

The Archive Hall houses a large model of the ship INS Viraat. It also showcases some rare photographs of Indian naval action during the war in Bangladesh in l971.

Among the most interesting displays here are a Super Constellation and a Sea Hawk with folding wings. The most interesting is the virtual reality centre, which offers flight simulator video games and a Sea Harrier cockpit model simulator. And finally is a place of weapons of death and destruction, the surprising Meditation Room.

Entry ?20 Timings 9.30am5.00pm, Closed Mondays Photography ?20 Videography ?50

WHERE TO STAY

The 3-star Hotel La Paz Gardens (Tel: 08322512121; Tariff: ?3,600-5,900) is the grande dame of hotels in Vasco da Gama, with large, elegant and clean rooms. The HQ (Tel: 2500015-18: Tariff: ?5000-10,000) offers 4-star comforts. The Karma Plaza Hotel (Tel: 2518928; Tariff: ?1,370-1,714) has everything a 24-hour coffee shop, a restaurant and a business centre. The Citadel (Tel: 2512222; Tariff: ?2,000-2,500) on Padre Jose Vaz Road has well appointed rooms.

The lower budget hotels include Hotel Annapurna (Tel: 2513375, 2513715; Tariff: ?750-1,650) on DD Deshpande Road, Westend Hotel (Tel: 2512689; Tariff: ?630-1,260) opposite Hotel Annapurna, and Hotel Nagina (Tel: 6551319; Tariff: ?600-1,200), a few metres down the same road.

Vasco has several restaurants that serve non-Goan cuisine. Annapurna Restaurant on DD Deshpande Road is popular for vegetarian food, as is Meghdoot in Colaco Building on Swatantra Path. Try pao bhaji at the latter. Biryani and fish curry rice are the best bets at Royal Durbar in Indira Niwas. Dont miss a meal at Anant Ashram near the Municipal Gardens. Anant Ashram also has the City Shack garden restaurant.

Amongst the hotels, The HQ has Z-Rooftop Lounge Bar and Grill; Ori for Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese cuisine; Grapewine for international cuisine and Pleasure Pie Cakes & Coffee for cakes and breads. Karma Plaza has Temptation, a 24-hour food and snack bar. La Paz has The Regency, which serves Continental, Indian and Goan food, Sweet-N-Sour has Chinese and Goodyland serves fast food.

When to go Late October-February Location Vasco da Gama is on the western tip of the Mormugao Peninsula in Mormugao Taluka in South Goa Air Nearest airport: Dabolim Rail Nearest rail: Vasco

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

1st Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 0832-2494200

W goatoursim.gov.in

Central Reservations Office

GTDCL, 2nd Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 2437701, 2438002-03, 2438866

GTDCL

Facilitation Counter

Goa Airport, Dabolim

Tel: 2540829, 2540031

W goa-tourism.com

GTDCL

Opposite Municipal Garden

Madgaon. Tel: 2715528, 2715096

GTDCL

Mapusa Residency

Near bus stand

Calangute - Mapusa Raod

Mapusa

Tel: 2262794/ 694

GTDCL

Vasco Residency

Near Railway Station

Vasco

Tel: 251319, 2511002

Mollem NP

Deputy Conservator of Forests

Wildlife and Eco-Tourism, Panjim

Tel: 0832-2229701

W forest.goa.gov.in

STD Code 0832

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Madgaon: Old Charm http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Goa11_Madgaon_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/madgaon-old-charm/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/madgaon-old-charm/ 2017-05-22T15:21:37+05:30 article Goa's second largest city is also its commercial and cultural capital Capital of Salcete Taluka, and Goas second largest city, Madgaon has always been commercially abuzz. The River Sal, today silted up into a tiny stream, once had boats plying cargo to and from Arabia and Africa, making Madgaon quite a prosperous settlement even before the advent of the Portuguese. It was an important centre for trade, learning and religious activities. Educational institutions and cultural centres completed the picture.

Today the place is obviously commercial. Yet its shaded streets lined with colonial mansions, its bazaars full of the rich produce of Goa with many buys not found anywhere else, Madgaon is a perfect base from which to venture forth into rural Salcete.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Church Square

To many, the Church Square or Largo de Igreja is the most arresting part of Madgaon, and is one of its two focal areas. This is the Latin Quarter with graceful Colonial mansions. On one side of the square sits the Church of the Holy Spirit, built by the Jesuits in 1564, in the heart of Madgaon on the site of a temple and a monastery. Adil Shahs army swept in and destroyed the church in 1571. Makeshift repairs were carried out in 1645 when it was named the Church of the Holy Spirit. It was completed only in 1675. The interior of the church is worth a careful look especially the altars. Its external setting too is a feast for the eyes as it sits in splendour in a vast rectangular mango tree-lined square, looking at old Colonial homes in its vicinity.

One of these is the famous ancestral home of Eurico da Silva. Formerly a seven-gabled house, da Silvas Sat Burnzam Ghor (House of Seven Gables) now only has three.

Loutolim

Loutulim is home to the late cartoonist Mario Mirandas mansion, besides several other traditional Goan mansions and Ancestral Goa (Tel: 2777034), an open-air museum that depicts life in Goas villages centuries ago.

Ancestral Goa also has a restaurant, which serves authentic Goan cuisine in a Goan home. Explore the 250-year-old mansion Casa Araujo Alvares. Dont miss the cunningly angled holes in an upstairs wall, meant for placing rifle barrels and shooting invaders.

Mansion Entry Adults ?100; Children ?50 Timings 9.00am-5.30pm, open all days

Ancestral Goa Entry Adults ?50; Children ?30 Timings 9.00am-6.00pm, open all days

Menezes-Braganza House

Chandor village is worth a stop for the grand Menezes-Braganza House, a 450-year-old mansion with beautiful old furniture on display, old tapestries, ballrooms, banquet halls and beautiful old floors. The Braganza Pereiras have a 300-year-old chapel which has some intricate carving. However, the most important object is at the altar a toenail of St Francis Xavier.

WHERE TO STAY

Nanutel (Tel: 0832-6722222; Tariff: ?4,000-5,200) on Padre Miranda Road is Madgaons only 3-star hotel, complete with swimming pool, Utsav Restaurant and Zodiac Bar.

Arco Iris (Cell: 09604964482; Tariff: ?5,000-7,500) is a heritage homestay located in a quiet village 7 km from Madgaon. Hotel La Flor (Tel: 2731402, 2705682; Tariff: ?1,050-1,950) on Erasmo Carvalho Street has clean, pretty rooms. Hotel Saaj (Tel: 2712202-03; Tariff: ?945-2,024), a budget option on the same road is fairly basic.

Goa Woodlands Hotel (Tel: 2715522; Tariff: ?2,300-3,250), on Miguel Loyola Furtado Road, has a pure vegetarian restaurant.

GTDCs Madgaon Residency (Tel: 2715528, 2715096; Tariff: ?1,150-2,650) is opposite Madgaon Municipal Gardens.

WHERE TO EAT

A typical meal at the famous Longuinhos should be two fried eggs, buttered toast, sickeningly sweet coffee and some excellent chorizo. Nearby, on Miguel Loyola Furtado Road are Kamats and Woodland, both good choices. Raissas Oriental Spice, on Rafael Pereira Road, offers Chinese dining in an aristocratic ambience. A crooner serenades diners in the high season.

For Goan food thats super authentic, reserve a table at Nostalgia at Uzro in Raia. Try their tart Goan prawn curry-rice and also sorpotel, complemented perfectly with toddy-leavened sannas.

Caf Tato in the Apna Bazaar Complex on Varde Valaulikar Road has south- and north-Indian thalis. Alcoves Restaurant near Cine Vishant has good butter chicken, pork vindaloo and sorpotel. Other favourites include Meenakshi Restaurant next to Blue Pearl, the old cinema hall, and Gaylin, the Chinese restaurant near Caf Tato.

When to go Late October-February Location Goas second largest city is at the centre of Salcete Taluka in southern Goa, 33 km from Panjim Air Nearest airport: Dabolim Rail Nearest rail: Madgaon

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

1st Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 0832-2494200

W goatoursim.gov.in

Central Reservations Office

GTDCL, 2nd Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 2437701, 2438002-03, 2438866

GTDCL

Facilitation Counter

Goa Airport, Dabolim

Tel: 2540829, 2540031

W goa-tourism.com

GTDCL

Opposite Municipal Garden

Madgaon. Tel: 2715528, 2715096

GTDCL

Mapusa Residency

Near bus stand

Calangute - Mapusa Raod

Mapusa

Tel: 2262794/ 694

GTDCL

Vasco Residency

Near Railway Station

Vasco

Tel: 251319, 2511002

Mollem NP

Deputy Conservator of Forests

Wildlife and Eco-Tourism, Panjim

Tel: 0832-2229701

W forest.goa.gov.in

STD Code 0832

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Karnataka: A Coffee Plantation Homestay http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/golden-wood-karnataka.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/karnataka-coffee-plantation-homestay/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/karnataka-coffee-plantation-homestay/ 2017-05-22T14:48:38+05:30 article Take a trip to a coffee plantation in Malnad with the charming Golden Wood Tucked within Karnataka's verdant Malnad hills of the Western Ghats, a region known for its coffee plantations among other things, take a break at Golden Wood's 150 year old resort. Camping under the stars beside a lake, waking up to bird calls, or even trekking or biking in a 500 acre coffee plantation are just some of the things that make this eco-resort special.

Situated in Sakleshpur in the historic Manjarabad region, lies Harley Estate, perched at 3,400 feet and dating back to the early 1860s. The region is home to over 200 types of birds and various other wild life. It is also part of the Elephant Corridor.

And lying within the estate, surrounded by 500 acres of coffee plantation, greenery and lakes, and a gurgling stream for company, is Golden Wood (goldenwood.in).

The resort offers various stay options with their own peculiarities. Photographers will enjoy a stay at the Hill Top Cottage that offers an unparalleled view of the surrounding countryside. The Farmers Cottage is for travellers who want to have a rustic experience. The over a century old earth house is surrounded by paddy fields and a stream. The Brick Cottage has a huge shower area which is skylit and has a tree growing through it. Whispering Trees hall with glass walls and the dining and sit out on the terrace gives a great view of the area and is also the perfect place for bird watching.

However, Golden Wood prides itself in being ecologically friendly. The electricity used within the resort is generated hydraulically at one of the gushing waterfalls on the estate, or by solar. While most of the ingredients for meals are grown organically here.

Room rates start from ?5,500 per couple for weekdays and from ?7,200 per couple for weekends and holidays. Hwever, black-out dates apply. Rates include taxes, meals, snacks, tea/coffee, use of library and a selection of walks and treks inside the property.

Sakleshpur, about 12km from the estate is the most convenient connecting town, and the nearest railway station. Bengaluru, the nearest airport, is about 250km by road, from Sakleshpur.

Contact: stay@goldenwood.in tel: +91 99022 97022

Read our story on a holiday well spent at Golden Wood here.

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Askot: The End of the Road http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/uttarakhand12_Askot_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/askot-end-road/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/askot-end-road/ 2017-05-21T21:30:55+05:30 article This beautiful destination where two mighty Himalayan rivers meet is a wildlife hub Some 54 km from Pithoragarh, the districts busy commercial centre in the Soar Valley, Askot is located on the Goriganga-Kali river divide and falls on the way to Dharchula, the starting point for the annual Kailash-Manasarovar pilgrimage. The ridge on which the tiny town of Askot sits, skirts surviving forests and tribal habitation, a part of which has been designated as the Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary. But indiscriminate mining and large hydroelectric projects on the River Kali have changed the character of the mountain habitat that was once home to the snow leopard, musk deer and many other creatures. Despite these problems, this region of Uttarakhand remains stunningly beautiful. The Himalayan ranges, the cascading waterfalls, the frothy River Kali all make for an unforgettable experience.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The best way to explore the region around the Askot-Dharchula belt is to set base at Askot or its nearby town, Didihat. Both towns offer comfortable and accessible forest rest houses.

Along the Road to kailash

Around 19 km from Askot in the narrow valley where the Goriganga and Kali rivers meet, lies Jauljibi, a place venerated for the merging of the two mighty mountain rivers. From here the road forks, left for Munsiyari, right for Dharchula and Narayan Swamy Ashram.

The 48-km journey from Askot to Dharchula is full of surprises. As one climbs from Jauljibi, the thickly forested road suddenly changes into a wide barren mountain corridor. You become aware of the mighty River Kali that roars into existence below. And that here its India and across the river, Nepal. The road from here snakes through mountains and waterfalls before descending to Balwakot. At this point, you are at eye level with the Kali river. At the end of the road is Dharchula, a large town, home to the Border Security Force and mining companies. It offers several budget stay options besides the KVMN rest house, which overlooks the suspension bridge between India and Nepal. You can visit the village across the river.

Dharchula to Narayan Swamy Ashram is only 44 km, but the metal road ends halfway into the journey at Tawaghat. Its a good idea to hire a jeep from Dharchula for the ashram. Turn left from Tawaghat to Sabla and continue on an upward climb to the Ashram. Set up by Mangalorean sadhu Swamy Narayan in the 1930s, it is situated in a beautiful field of flowers on a mountain terrace. The ashram pro vides educational and medical facilities to the Bhotia commu nity and stay and meals to pilgrims.

Pithoragarh

Kumaons third largest city is the launching pad for treks to the sacred Kailash Manasarovar Lake in Tibet, to Milam Glacier and the Darma Valley, and is an important base for the Indian Army as Pithoragarh is a border area. That apart, Pithoragarh has little in terms of enter tainment except for avid trekkers, who can explore around the moun tains here.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Both Askot and Didihat provide basic Forest Rest House accommodation. The Askot FRH (Pithoragarh Tel: 05964225234; Tariff: ?750), located on the periphery of the sanctuary, has two rooms. In Didihat, the FRH (Pitho ragarh Tel: 225234; Tariff: ?750) is 5 km outside the town, and also has two rooms. The Dharchula KMVN Tourist Rest House (Tel: 05967222557, Cell: 09411785384; Tariff: ?800-900, dorm bed ?150) has rooms and dorms, and provides basic amenities and meals.

Hotel Yash Yatarth (Tel: 05964225005, Cell: 09412096155; Tariff: ?2,6004,700) is Pitho ragarhs best hotel. It offers eight rooms, TV, laundry facilities and a restaurant. KMVNs Ulka Devi Tourist Rest House (Tel: 225434, Cell: 08650002538; Tariff: ?1,2001,800, dorm bed ?150) has a restaurant. There are enough makeshift dhabas in the entire region for meals.

When to go Summer. Winter has the best views but poor wildlife sightings Location On the Goriganga-Kali river divide in far north-east Uttarakhand Air Nearest airport: Pantnagar Rail Nearest rail: Kathgodam

THE INFORMATION

Chamba

GMVN

Tourist Bungalow

Chamba

Tel: 01376-255245

STD code01376

Gwaldam

GMVN

Tourist Rest House

Gwaldam. Tel: 01363-274244

Cell: 09568006660

STD code01363

Munsiyari

KMVN

Tourist Rest House

Munsiyari

Tel: 05961-222339

Cell: 07534001701

STD code05961

Askot

KMVN

Tourist Rest House

Pithoragarh. Cell: 08650002538

STD code05964

Binsar WLS

Wildlife Warden

Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Range Office, Ayarpani

Cell: 09412928289

DFO

Civil Soyam Forest Division

Almora. Tel: 05962-230229

KMVN

Binsar. Cell: 08650002537

STD code05962

THE INFORMATION

Ramgarh

KMVN

Tourist Reception Centre

Ramgarh. Tel: 05942-281155

STD code05942

Nandhaur WLS

Divisonal Forest Office

Haldwani Forest Division

Tikonia Campus. Tel: 05946-220002

Nandhaur WLS SDO

Cell: 09411076337

STD code05946

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Jhalawar: Of Gods and Kings http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Rajasthan24_Jhalawar_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/jhalawar-gods-kings/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/jhalawar-gods-kings/ 2017-05-21T20:37:00+05:30 article This erstwhile Princely State is a treasure trove of heritage palaces and temples Jhalawar usually stands to mean, the Jhalawar District which, along with Kota and Bundi, makes up the old cultural region of Hadoti. Theres the town of Jhalawar itself, the seat of the 160-year-old Jhalawar Kingdom and its gorgeous palaces. This area of south Rajasthan was part of the history and fortunes of the Malwa Plateau (ruled from Ujjain and Mandu) from the time of the Mauryas and eventually became part of the Kota Kingdom. The state of Jhalawar was created in 1838 out of parts of the Kota Kingdom because of a treaty bet ween the British and Zalim Singhs descendants. It was called Jhalawar thanks to their ancestors, who were the Jhalas, hailing from Kathiawar.

THING TO SEE AND DO

The infrastructure of Jhalawar District hasnt yet kept pace with the richness of its offerings. The town is small enough and to merely see the sights half a day is sufficient as well.

Garh Palace

The original residence of the royal family, the Garh Palace, as its name suggests, is a grandeur-defining citadel-palace. Built by Maharaj Madan Singh during 1840-45, it was later handed over to the government to house collectorate offices. You can walk through and see the Sheesh Mahal rooms partitioned into cubicles, splendid frescoes with electric fittings, and the inlay work on walls and ceilings covered by a layer of dust. A few lock ed rooms are repositories of every variety of artistic expression, from pietra dura to miniature styles to religious portrayal to portrait painting to English landscapes and floral studies to some rare glasswork.

TIP If you stay at the Prithvi Vilas Palace, you have a good chance of accessing closed rooms

Within the Garh Palace enclosure stands the Bhawani Natya Shala, an opera-house-style theatre made by Bhawani Singh, the king responsible for the creation of modern Jhalawar. Again, this is a faded structure, locked and forgotten. But this was once a vibrant centre for staging the works of Kalidas and Shakespeare; the proscenium is built with an underground extension, such that horses and chariots could appear on stage! At the Government Museum, just outside the Garh Palace, you can see abundant treasures of ancient Indian art, many dating back a millennium, some of them rescued from the jungles of Kakuni. It houses sacred sculptures, rare manuscripts, paintings, coins and interesting 5th and 7th-century inscriptions.

Palace Timings 9.00am-5.30pm, Closed Fri days Museum Entry ?3; Mondays free Timings 10.00am-5.00pm

Rain Basera

Another of the royal familys former residences, the Rain Basera makes for a lovely short foray from Jhalawar, made all the more lovely for its association with a king who would not rule. Maharaja Rajendra Singh had a dream of abdicating the kingdom for his son and retiring to write poetry. He saw this timber house in an exhibition in Lucknow in 1936 and had the whole edifice transported and installed at the vast Krishna Sagar Talab here. But it does break your heart to think of it he died soon after. It is today managed by the Irrigation Department.

Jhalrapatan

Zalim Singh, the founder of the Jhalawar kingdom, used to camp at Jhalawar but the place he lovingly nurtured from 1796 was Jhalrapatan, translated as the City of Temple Bells, locally called Patan. According to the chronicler James Tod, there are 108 temples here today. The riverside township overlaps the city of Chandravati, said to have been founded by Parmar Chandra Sen, Vikramadityas grandson. Today, Patan is a walled settlement you enter through a formal doorway and are immediately gifted with the combined stillness of three banyan trees, a huge pond and quaint chhatris under which villagers rest in the afternoon.

For some peace and quiet, you can always stroll or drive down to the site of the Chandramouli Mahadev Temple, cared for by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), situated in the beautifully maintained grounds next to the Chandrabhaga river. This complex holds the remains of many 7th-14th century shrines. While Jhalrapatan is dotted with old Jain and Hindu temples, the 11th-century Sun Temple is the pride of the town. Strictly speaking, its a temple of Padmanath, whose image was enshrined here in the 19th century. With its lofty 97-ft high shikhar and its association with the sun, the Jhalrapatan residents call it the Konark of Rajasthan. The shikhar is indeed impressive, teeming with small images of gods, goddesses, ganikas, apsaras, animals and, inevitably, some erotica.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

The few stay options in Jhalawar include a heritage property and a couple of bud get hotels. The Prithvi Vilas Palace (Tel: 07432-231347; Tariff: ?8,000, with meals), in Civil Lines, is locally recognised as Darbar ki Kothi. They arrange guided tours on request. RTDCs Hotel Gavdi Talab (Cell: 09414583445; Tariff: ?1,700) has a restaurant, beer parlour and parking. Another RTDC property, Hotel Chandrawati (Cell: 09414391006; Tariff: ?600-900), on Patan Road, has rooms with a TV and attached bathrooms, a restaurant and laundry service. Hotel Krishna Palace (Tel: 232324, Cell: 09414194473; W hotelkrishnapalace jhalawar.com; Tariff: ?999-3,000) has facilities such as a restaurant, travel help, Internet, power backup, laundry and room service.

Meals are another good reason to stay at the Prithvi Vilas Palace. The cooks are efficient and theres an interesting Gujarati flavour to the home-made food. The road between Jhalawar and Patan has roadside restaurants of which Rupali Dhani has a pleasant garden set ting. Try the red-hot sev ki subzi at the highway dhabas and the poha from local halwais in Patan.

When to go October to March is the most pleasant time to visit; Jhalawar can get hot in the summers and the roads can get very troublesome in and after the monsoons Location In southeast Rajasthan, at the edge of the Malwa Plateau Air Nearest airport: Jaipur Rail Nearest rail: Kota

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Palitana: Temple Town http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Gujarat22_Palitana_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/palitana-temple-town/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/palitana-temple-town/ 2017-05-21T20:28:23+05:30 article A beautiful collection of hilltop temples makes it an important Jain pilgrimage destination For the devout Jain, Saurashtra is usually synonymous with the countrys main Jain pilgrimage site of Palitana, more specifically the collection of Jain temples on the top of the holy Shatrunjaya hill. This small, noisy town, located 50 km to the southwest of Bhavnagar, has carved a niche for itself as a place for pilgrims and tourists to fill up on basic Gujarati fare or rest their legs, whether before or after making their way high up the hill.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

There isnt much to do in this one-street town, except to pay a visit to the few Jain temples, but the fact that so many use it as a base for the group of temples, located ten minutes away from the centre of town, means there is a growing number of stay and food options here, however rustic. In addition there is a cluster of dharamshalas, which have been built over the last couple of centuries for pilgrims making their way to Palitana.

Though the site dates back to around the 5th century, it has in fact undergone major renovations, and much of the construction that is currently visible can be dated to the 19th century. Over time, Shatrunjaya, and Palitana by association, became known as a temple-city, with every spot on the hill now considered holy and sacrosanct (the occasional sighting of trash heaps are a depressing rebuttal).

Over 3,500 steps, said to have been constructed around the 13th century, equating to a 4-km walk lead you to more than 900 structures that crown the hill (the numbers differ depending on whom you ask, but scattered between the 100 or so major temples are countless small shrines). The structures that populate the temple-hill are distributed over the two summits of the hill, and in the valley in between. The main temples are organized into enclosures, with a main temple and subsidiary shrines in each.

It can take a good couple of hours to climb up the hill via its wide steps; like all other hilltop pilgrimage centres, here too you will find dholis on hire, held by four bearers, to take those up who cannot do the hike themselves. Its advisable to take breaks as you climb, instead of doing a sprint, both for your body, but also to take in and photograph the gorgeous views as you ascend. Additionally, it is likely to take you at least a couple of hours to walk around and explore the temples so, crowded as it may be, an early morning start is your best bet to cover most ground.

Near the entry gate, on your left, is a temple called the Babu Mandir, dedicated to Adinatha, the first Jain tirthankara. On the path you will find many small shrines as well as shelters for rest, which are equipped with free drinking water from fountains or reservoirs. The construction of these shelters over the centuries has been attributed to wealthy lay Jains. The many shrines are meant to immerse the pilgrim in a religious atmosphere from the very onset. As you start climbing, to your right will be the three-tiered circular Samavasaran Mandir, which was inaugurated in 1986 and took 14 years to complete. This temple is considered to be a three-dimensional representation of the samavasarana, or the general preaching of a tirthankara.

As you climb higher and higher, the views are simply astounding, as the length of the Shetrunji river comes into view. This river flows across the mostly dry plains around the region and was recently dammed.

The oldest object on the hill is considered to be an idol of Pundarika, who was not a tirthankara himself, but is worshipped on account of the fact that he had attained moksha. It was already a major tirtha by the fifth century, finding mention as it does in the crucial Svetambara canonical texts.

There are two main centres of pilgrimage on the hill, and at both you are likely to be crowded. The southern summit is the site of the principal temple, the Adishvar Temple dedicated to Adinatha; smaller temples and shrines surround it. The other chief pilgrimage destination is called the Nine Enclosures, with many temples within these, which are scattered on the northern peak as well as the valley between the two summits.

The Adishvar Temple features a white marble image of the tirthankara sitting in a lotus position, with the representation of the bull, his emblem, carved below. In the vestibule of the temple you can find an image of Adinathas (or Risabha, as he is also known) mother Marudevi, who is represented holding her grandsons Bharata and Bahubali while seated on an elephant.

The highest point of Shatrunjaya is the southern summit, which is where you can find the aforementioned Adishvar temple. There are simply too many enclosures and temples on the hill for even the most devout pilgrim to be able to explore in a single trip, but the Southern summit is a great choice to see the highlights.

The northern summit has what is known as the Nine Enclosures; in order to get here, you must go back down to the fork in the road that led to the southern summit and take the other branch. On your way to the northern summit, you will pass by a shrine of a Muslim saint, known as Angar Shah Pir; legend goes that this shrine is dedicated to a saint who tried to protect the Jain temples from the marauding Mughals that caused considerable damage around the 16th century.

Seven of the nine aforementioned enclosures are on the northern summit, while two are in the valley. These date from between the 17th and the 19th centuries and are variously dedicated to tirthankaras and their disciples. There are also some crucial inscriptions found here, for example one in the Sheth Hemabhai Tunk, which details the genealogies of Jain families that played a role in the construction of the temples. There are in fact said to be more than 500 inscriptions across the shrines on Shatrunjaya Hill, the earliest dating to the 13th century.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

The best place to stay here is the heritage homestay Vijay Vilas Palace (Cell: 09427182809; Tariff: ?3,800) in Village Adpur, 6 km from Palitana. Built in the earlier 20th century, the palace has clean and spacious rooms. Sumeru Hotel (Tel: 02848-252327; Tariff: ?1,115-1,632) is a Gujarat Tourism property near the railway station. Hotel Shravak (Tel: 02848-252428; Tariff: ?500-950) opposite the bus stand has basic accommodation. Amid a flurry of controversy and complaints of communalism, Palitana was declared the worlds first vegetarian city in 2014, with the slaughter and consumption of meat completely banned in the area.

When to Go October to June; pilgrimage is not allowed during the monsoon Location In the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, Palitana is part of the district of Bhavnagar Air Nearest airport: Bhavnagar Rail Nearest rail: Palitana, Bhavnagar

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A Quick Guide to Bhandardara http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/featured-9.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/bhandardara/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/bhandardara/ 2017-05-20T14:37:49+05:30 article This picturesque town in the Sahyadris makes for a perfect weekend getaway The long drive towards Bhandardara, past the breathtaking hills and steep valleys of the Sahyadris, is absolutely enchanting. The journey to the sleepy town of Bhandardara is a perfect precursor to the destination itself. Once you get off the highway and turn right on the road that leads to this little-known town via Ghoti (there are ample signposts along the way, but keep a map handy), all traces of civilization slowly vanish. What lies ahead of you is a scenic road that seems endless. Lined with thick, ancient trees on either side, the road meanders past the wondrous Maharashtrian countryside, while the Western Ghats are your constant companion. And just when you are beginning to wonder if you missed a turn somewhere, the ascent uphill begins. Continue onward and youll reach Bhandardara, a forgotten, rustic town, that is the perfect getaway from monotonous city life. There are no five-star comforts and fine dining here. What you get instead is a healthy dose of clean, crisp air, greenery and awe-inspiring natural beauty.

Things to See & Do

Bhandardara is suitable for all kinds of tourists. If you are an adventure lover there are ample walks to take, sights to explore and peaks to scale. However, for the laid-back visitor, there is the option of cozying up in a chair with a book, or taking a leisurely walk by the lake. You can also bring your line and tackle along and find a suitable spot for angling.

There are jeeps available at the village square in Shendi to take you on a tour of some points of interest around Bhandardara, but this often ends up being just a long drive that is not worth the money. Instead, set your own itinerary and take the hired jeep only to places of your choice, or just hop on and off the many jeeps that ferry locals from one village to another. This way, you get a taste of how the residents commute. In addition, there are local guides that usually hang around the MTDC resort, who are willing to show you around for a nominal fee. Their knowledge of the area is extensive.

Bhandardara Lake

Also called Lake Arthur Hill, this vast body of water was created when the Wilson Dam was built across the Pravara River by the British between 191026. The dam is one of the countrys oldest and stands at a height of 492 ft. It was constructed to provide irrigation to the region. During the monsoon, when the water levels increase, the overflow gates are opened, creating two huge 6080 ft cascades of water that gush down to the rocks below. Several water channels unite to form one enormous waterfall here, which is commonly called the Umbrella Falls, because it creates an illusion of a huge canopy of water. A picnic area at the foot of the dam is the best place to admire the falls.

Randha Falls
Drive 10 km down river to arrive at the roaring Randha Falls. The Pravara River plunges 170 ft down into a gorge, creating a breathtaking sight. The waterfall is the third largest in India. A look-out point just above the falls provides a great view. A footpath (steep in places) leads down to the pools below. Be careful as the currents in the pools tend to be strong.

Angling
The lake here offers great opportunities for anglers. With just the right combination of patience and luck, you may secure yourself a good catch. Boats are not allowed on the lake, so casting a line or spoon fishing is the way to go. The pools at the bottom of the two falls are also great fishing spots.

Walking and Birdwatching
The best way to explore Bhandardaras awe-inspiring beauty is to take walks along the shores of the lake. After the first monsoon showers, with the valley shrouded in a green veil and the lake overflowing with water, the views are simply spectacular. Nature lovers may even spot waders during these perambulations.

Where to Stay & Eat
MTDC Holiday Resort (Tel: 02424-257032; Tariff: ?1,8004,850) and Anandvan Resort (Tel: 257320, Cell: 09920311221; Tariff: ?5,00060,000, with meals) are by the lake. Cotton Forest Resort (Cell: 08452080777; Tariff ?3,50020,000, with meals), in Shendi, has all the amenities one needs.

There are very few options for eating out in Bhandardara. The local staple of varan bhat (dal-rice) is easily available, but can be spicy. Some tandoori and non-vegetarian food is available. Freshwater fish and, if you are lucky, shrimp is sometimes on the menu. Regular Maharashtrian fare of usal pav, misal pav and vada pav are easily available here. The area is also famous for a sweet peda. MTDCs Yashanjali Restaurant has a good Chinese, Gujarati and Punjabi menu. Some of the newer hotels also have restaurants where you can get fresh food.

Around Bhandardara

Ratanwadi (22km)
This village is home to the Amruteshwar Temple an ancient stone structure. The temple dates back to the 11th century, and houses a Shivalinga that is believed to be swayambhu (naturally formed). Nearby, a few steps lead down to the Vishnu Teerth tank.

The bigger attraction of Ratanwadi for many, though, is the trek up to the immense 400-year-old Ratangad Fort which sits astride the hill overlooking Ratanwadi and Bhandardara Lake. As you go higher, the famous Khutta Pinnacle on the twin-peaked hill of Ratangad will come into view. When you reach the fort, youll be glad you took the trouble. The view of the plains of the Konkan from here is unmatched, and you can get some aesthetic shots of Mt Kalsubai and the lake in the foreground.

Explore the three doorways to Ratangad the Ganesh, Tryambak and Hanuman darwazas, the small temple of Ratandevi and the Ranicha Huda, or Queens Palace, near the Hanuman Darwaza.

The path also leads to some caves on the hillside. Venture inside only if you are travelling in a group and have flashlights.

The trek up to the Ratangad Fort is moderately tough and should not be attempted alone by first time climbers.

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Amarkantak: Narmadas Odyssey http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/madhya-pradesh29_Amarkantak.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/amarkantak-narmadas-odyssey/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/amarkantak-narmadas-odyssey/ 2017-05-20T14:15:58+05:30 article This pilgrim town in the Vindhyas is where the mighty Narmada begins her journey Amarkantak is really a hamlet; most of it lies along a main road, which comprises a market with a few dhabas, ashrams and the Narmada Temple complex. If you are in a hurry, a day is enough to cover all main sights by car or jeep.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Amarkantak is also referred to as teerth raj or the king of pilgrimages. This holy town is a much sought-after pilgrimage centre for Hindus as evinced by the many temples located here. In addition to these religious sites, this serene place, with its lofty hills, waterfalls and forest cover, has much to offer nature enthusiasts.

Narmada Udgam Complex

This is a walled complex of shrines; the sacred kund is its focus, from which the Narmada is believed to have emanated. The kund is usually full of devotees bathing or performing rites. The white shrines here sparkle in the sunlight and are situated around two tanks. The water from the holy tanks pours out from a spout in the form of a gao mukh (literally, cows mouth).

The 18th-century Narmada Temple, commissioned by the Bhonsle kings of Nagpur, houses a black stone image of the river with large silver eyes. Opposite her chamber is the shrine of the Amarkanteshwar shivalinga. Located nearby, a group of 10th-century ruins, known as Karna Mathtemples stand with towering shikharas, built by the Kalachuri dynasty of Jabalpur. It is surrounded by shrines that contain icons dedicated to Surya, Vishnu, Gorakhnath and shivalingas. Every year, on the occasion of Narmada Jayanti, the black-basalt statue of the river goddess is draped in brocade and worshipped by hordes of zealous worshippers.

Timings 7.00am-noon & 4.00-9.00pm

Mata Narmada Temple

The Mata Narmada Temple faces the Narmada Udgam and is considered a shaktipeeth. It sees scores of devotees and of particular note here is a curious ritual that is performed by women. The ritual is apparently a test of purity where women have to crawl out from under the statue of a dwarf elephant. If they somehow manage this miraculous feat, their soul is believed to be pure.

Mai ki Bagiya

A one kilometre walk away from the temple lies this shaded grove with shrines and another kund. The water of this kund is believed to have originated from the feet of the Narmada. It is said that the goddess used to pluck flowers from this lush garden, which is now surrounded by shrines, a stream, medicinal plants and fruit-bearing trees.

Machhendranath and Pataleshwar

These ancient sandstone temples were built by the Kalachuri king Karnadeva in the 11th century. You may want to pay a visit to these temples to marvel at their exquisite carvings. They are situated to the south of the Narmada kund.

Karna Math Mandir

Not many people visit this temple, rich with icons and architecture. Locals ascribe it to a king called Raja Karan Dahariya or King Karna of Dahala, who was supposedly the ruler of Amarkantak.

The Karna Math complex has three temples that have been constructed on a raised platform. The gate itself is crowned by four massive faces of the river goddess. Statues of 64 yoginis that represent the different aspects of the goddess adorn its walls. The temple tower rises in the form of the mythical Mount Meru. It is worth a visit for the intricate detailing alone, even if you arent particularly religious.

Son Muda

According to historical sources going back to the Greek historian Megasthenes (350-290 BCE), River Son reportedly got its name from the gold dust that was discovered in its water. The area believed to be the source of the river now has a kund, a fairly new shaktipeeth temple, a Shiva statue, as well as an old ashram.

The beauty of the surroundings unravels after you descend the 100-odd steps cut into the hill-side, and come to the very edge of the Amarkantak Plateau. From here you can see the Son falling down the Maikul mountain, villages located at a distance in the vast plains below and the many gentle folds of the Satpura Hills.

Kapildhara and Dudhdhara Falls

About 7 km away from Amarkantak, towards the western edges of the plateau, lie the beautiful Kapildhara and Dudhdhara falls. Kapildhara is associated with the legendary sage Kapil or Kapila, who reputedly spent 12 years meditating here.

Within these woods, the Narmada matures into a strong cascade of water splashing 70 ft down sheer rock. Depressions in the rocks, before the cascade, are believed to be the footprints of the sage Kapila.

You can drive up to the Kapildhara Viewpoint, but to look at it in its full glory and splash in the Narmada, walk half a kilometre down to the smaller but lovelier Dudhdhara Falls. Local jeeps are available for hire.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

The MPSTDC Holiday Home (Tel: 07629-269416; Tariff: ?2,290-2,790) is clean and comfortable. They serve decent meals, and welcome non-guests. At the time of print, half of its rooms were under renovation. The newer hotel Shree Mata Sadan (Tel: 269520, Cell: 09993914486, 09752317432; Tariff: ?1,990-2,390, ?400 dorm bed) is on Sonunmuda Road. Theres also a Jain Dharamshala (Tel: 269450, 269550; Tariff: ?400-1,500), which is open to all and has attached bathrooms.

The hotels listed above have restaurants that are open to all. The dhabas in the market serve thalis.

When to go October-March Location On the Maikal Hills, at the meeting point of the Vindhya and Satpura Ranges Air Nearest airport: Jabalpur Rail Nearest rail: Pendra Road

THE INFORMATION

Tourist/ Wildlife Offices

Tourist Office

Room No. 3-4, Hotel Janpath

Janpath Road, New Delhi

Tel: 011-23366528, 32599000, 23341187

Telefax: 23347264

Chanderi

MPSTDC

Hotel Tana Bana, Chanderi

Tel: 07547-252222

Cell: 07725896140

MP Tourist Information Centre

Tansen Residency Complex

6A, Gandhi Road

Gwalior. Tel: 0751-2234557, 4056726

STD code07547

Maheshwar

MPSTDC

42, Residency Area

Opp St Paul School, Indore

Tel: 0731-2499566

STD code0731

Burhanpur

MPSTDC

Tapti Retreat

Burhanpur-Ichhapura Road

Burhanpur. Tel: 07325-242244

STD code07325

Bhimbetka

Bhopal Tourist Office

Paryatan Bhavan, Bhadbhada Road

Bhopal. Tel: 0755-2778383

Bhopal Tourist Office

Railway Station, Bhopal. Tel: 2746827

STD code0755

 

THE INFORMATION

Ratapani WLS

MPSTDC

Paryatan Bhavan

Bhadbhada Road

Bhopal

Tel: 0755-2778383

Superintendent

Obedullahganj Forest Division

Cell: 09424790712

STD code0755

Pachmarhi

Pachmarhi Regional Office

Amaltas Complex

Near Tehsil

Pachmarhi

Tel: 07578-252100

Pachmarhi Tourist Office

Bus Stand, Pachmarhi

Tel: 252029

Pachmarhi Tourist Office

Railway Station

Pipariya

Tel: 07576-223499

STD code07578

Amarkantak

MPSTDC

Holiday Home

Amarkantak

Tel: 07629-269416

Jabalpur Regional Office

Rani Durgavati

Paryatan Bhavan

North Civil Lines, Jabalpur

Tel: 0761-2677290

STD code07629

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Dholpur: Layered Narratives http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Rajasthan22_Dholpur_FI_L.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/dholpur-layered-narratives/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/dholpur-layered-narratives/ 2017-05-20T14:08:25+05:30 article The gateway to Madhya Pradesh has temples, palaces and the storied ravines of Chambal Dolphins somersaulting in the Chambal, slack-jawed crocodiles turning longingly from the shoreline towards an approach ing bat, Pinocchio-snouted-glass-eyed baby gharials and leather-backed river turtle cooling off at the nursery pool at an eco farm, the badlands of the once-dreaded Chambal ravines and a 400-year-old temple set along a lotus-filled pond thats just the half of the erstwhile princely state of Dholpur.

THING TO SEE AND DO

Dholpurs geographic setting is part of its unique charm and importance. Strategically positioned by the waters of the Chambal, Dholpur was once a much-coveted milestone for raiders from the north intent on conquering the riches of Malwa and Gwalior.

Raj Niwas Palace Tour

Set in 13 lush acres, the Raj Niwas Palace Hotel at Dholpur is a lovely place for holidays with the family, but its also the perfect getaway for couples honeymooning or otherwise, heritage and history buffs or even artists and writers longing for a bit of private space, quiet and solitude. The scion of the erstwhile royal houses of both Dholpur and Gwalior, Dushyant Singh has striven hard to return the dilapidated palace to its former glory.

There are the fabled tiles of the Dholpur palace to be enjoyed in all their majestic splendour. Every room serves up a captivating confection of extensive European tile work (Dutch in particular), beautifully matched with its opulent dcor, which really sets Dholpurs sumptuous Raj Niwas Palace apart from the cavalcade of palaces in Rajasthan. Dholpur also has some of the finest pearls in the world, though they are, of course, locked away safely.

The Euro-Indo-inspired ensemble of its outward trappings is reflected in a glorious mlange of accoutrements within. The glittering great hall, a formal drawing room, is a gorgeous assemblage of period furniture, sparkling mirrors, silken curtains, lavish carpets, stunning Belgian glass chandeliers and gilded picture frames that have captured its past beautifully.

Concealed behind a modest door out of the Great Hall awaits a truly unexpected and magical experience. Instead of what should have been a staid and stifled stairway up to the period-style sleeping chambers above, you are met by an astonishing sight. From floor to ceiling, on either side of the beautifully polished high vaulting stairway are vividly painted panels, of an array of playful avifaunal creatures set amid sprays of foliage. The stairway languidly opens up to the luxurious high-ceilinged Maharaja Suite.

The lavish guestrooms, a palette of pleasing shades, are home to Japanese ceramic urns, four-posters, exquisite mirrors, ancient bathtubs and art nouveau light fixtures. But again what takes your breath away is the flam boyant use of tiles, a rich mlange of cobalt and ochre from floor to ceiling.

Macchkund Temple

Located about 4-6 km from the palace, this ancient shrine is set along a lotus-filled pond. Along the banks of the pond is a string of minor shrines and temples, over 400 years old.

Van Vihar WLS

The once bustling shooting lodge of the Dholpur royals, now a notified wildlife sanctuary is located 25 km from the palace. Clamber up to the terrace to take in the views of the lotus-filled lake.

Talab Shahi

About 13 km from the palace is the Khanpur Mahal hunting lodge built by Emperor Akbar in 1617. Situated next to a lake, it is a must for birding enthusiasts in winter.

Chambal Ravines and River Run

About 4 km from the palace, the Chambal offers thrilling boat rides. Enjoy dolphin sightings and crocodile spotting here. About 22 km away, gharials and crocodiles from the Chambal are being conserved at the eco farm at Devri. The resort also arranges camel tours of the Chambal ravines, now safe for visitors.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Raj Niwas Palace Hotel (Cell: 07665002151; Tariff: ?7,500-15,000, with meals) has a choice of eight heritage suites in the main palace. Of these, three are luxury and five are deluxe suites. Additionally, there are 20 pool villas wrapped around the lush lawns with peacocks strutting around. The resort also has a spa.

The food at the sprawling period dining room in the main palace is fresh, homely and nutritious. If you want breakfast on the lawns or a private candlelight dinner by the poolside the staff will be happy to put it together for you.

When to go Winter (November to February) is best Location In eastern Rajasthan, about 4 km from the Chambal river, an hours drive from the Taj Mahal, Dholpur is near the border of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh Air Nearest airport: Agra Rail Nearest rail: Dholpur

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Bhimbetka: Time Capsule http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Entrance_of_bhimbetka_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/bhimbetka-time-capsule/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/bhimbetka-time-capsule/ 2017-05-20T13:05:25+05:30 article The site of ancient cave paintings contains art that's 30,000 years old Concealed in the rocky terrain of the Vindhyas, amid dense forests and jagged cliffs, lie the rock shelters of Bhimbetka, an archaeological site believed to date from the Paleolithic era. Over 600 rock shelters have been discovered in this complex, which preserves evidence from habitations that existed aeons ago, in the form of cave art. The vivid paintings on the walls of the rock shelters depict the lives of ancient Indian cave dwellers and can be classified under seven different epochs of time, ranging from the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Age, to the early historic and medieval periods. Protected and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, Bhimbetka is a World Heritage Site.

Of the five main groups of shelters, the one on Bhimbetka hill is easily accessible and even visible from the national highway. One of the first paintings you will see here is of a childs handprint in red the first evidence of human presence at these shelters. In fact, there is even a trench here in which human skeletal remains were reportedly discovered.

There are representations of various scenes from the lives and imaginations of the cave dwellers who painted these evocative images. Commonplace events such as dancing, celebrations, animal fights and battles inspire many a depiction. There are also a few symbols that are repeated often in the paintings. The first of these is one of human stick figures engaging in different activities. The most captivating specimen is exhibit six, a painting of a celebratory scene stick figures dancing around a central figure, who is playing a musical instrument. Animal imagery is another common trope. Hunting and fighting scenes are recurrent symbols. One example of this is the drawing of an elephant and a bull, wounded by the arrow of a hunter. These figures have been superimposed on an earlier drawing of a horse rider facing a soldier. This goes to show how the same canvas was used by different people at different times. Paintings of cavaliers, soldiers and horse and elephant riders are all evidences of fighting scenes. Painting number seven shows two riders engaged in a fight.

Entry Indians ?25; Foreigners ?250 Timings 6.30am-5.30pm

TIP A walk around these shelters will take an hour. Carrying an insect repellent is a good idea because the area is still primarily forested

There is only one option to stay at Bhimbetka the Highway Treat (Tel: 07480-281558; Tariff: ?2,590). Run by MP Tourism, this hotel has three rooms and a restaurant.

When to go October-March Location Surrounded by the northern fringe of the Vindhya Range, 46 km south of Bhopal Air Nearest airport: Bhopal Rail Nearest rail: Bhopal

THE INFORMATION

Tourist/ Wildlife Offices

Tourist Office

Room No. 3-4, Hotel Janpath

Janpath Road, New Delhi

Tel: 011-23366528, 32599000, 23341187

Telefax: 23347264

Chanderi

MPSTDC

Hotel Tana Bana, Chanderi

Tel: 07547-252222

Cell: 07725896140

MP Tourist Information Centre

Tansen Residency Complex

6A, Gandhi Road

Gwalior. Tel: 0751-2234557, 4056726

STD code07547

Maheshwar

MPSTDC

42, Residency Area

Opp St Paul School, Indore

Tel: 0731-2499566

STD code0731

Burhanpur

MPSTDC

Tapti Retreat

Burhanpur-Ichhapura Road

Burhanpur. Tel: 07325-242244

STD code07325

Bhimbetka

Bhopal Tourist Office

Paryatan Bhavan, Bhadbhada Road

Bhopal. Tel: 0755-2778383

Bhopal Tourist Office

Railway Station, Bhopal. Tel: 2746827

STD code0755

 

THE INFORMATION

Ratapani WLS

MPSTDC

Paryatan Bhavan

Bhadbhada Road

Bhopal

Tel: 0755-2778383

Superintendent

Obedullahganj Forest Division

Cell: 09424790712

STD code0755

Pachmarhi

Pachmarhi Regional Office

Amaltas Complex

Near Tehsil

Pachmarhi

Tel: 07578-252100

Pachmarhi Tourist Office

Bus Stand, Pachmarhi

Tel: 252029

Pachmarhi Tourist Office

Railway Station

Pipariya

Tel: 07576-223499

STD code07578

Amarkantak

MPSTDC

Holiday Home

Amarkantak

Tel: 07629-269416

Jabalpur Regional Office

Rani Durgavati

Paryatan Bhavan

North Civil Lines, Jabalpur

Tel: 0761-2677290

STD code07629

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Spain: Take a Ride on the Al Andalus Train http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Al-Andalus-Train.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/spain-take-ride-al-andalus-train/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/spain-take-ride-al-andalus-train/ 2017-05-19T16:54:48+05:30 article Explore Spains Andalusia and Extremadura regions on this luxury tourist train The Al Andalus train, Spains version of the Palace on Wheels, promises to take passengers to the Golden Age of the Belle poque. While you indulge in luxury in beautifully decorated lounge carriages and comfortable cabins, the train will travel through different landscapes every day.
The train's four saloon cars are treasures of railway history dating between 1928 and 1930. Breakfast buffet, lunches and dinners will be served in these spacious and charming carriages. Besides, you can relax over the morning newspapers and enjoy live entertainment every evening.
There are two types of on-board accommodation. Deluxe suites and Gran Class bedrooms. They belong to the same series used for the British Royal Trains in the early 20th century. Today their original 'Belle poque' dcor also includes a full range of modern amenities.
The Spanish are very serious about their gastronomic indulgences and the Al Andalus leaves no stones unturned. Expect to enjoy world famous products such as olive oil, sherry, Jabugo Iberian ham, fish and Galician seafood with refreshing dishes such as gazpacho other typically Andalusian or Castilian recipes. The gastronomy of each area, accompanied by the wines from the best guarantee of origin, gives its personal touch to the different itineraries.
Al-Andalus offers two different itineraries to choose from. The Andalusian Route and the Extremadura Route.
The seven days and six nights Andalusian route will take you through vibrant and diverse Southern lands. On this trip, you will approach the essence of Andalusia in a very original and fascinating way aboard a vintage train that will make this journey an unforgettable experience, promise the operators.
Passengers can also explore the attractive destinations en route on specially arranged guided tours. The train leaves Seville (famous for the Giralda tower, the cathedral and the Alczar palace) towards Cadiz and Jerez (don't miss the sherry and the traditional equestrian displays). The third, fourth and fifth days include stops in Ronda (with spectacular views) and Granada (with the magnificent La Alhambra and the chance to enjoy some flamenco). The sixth day brings you to Linares, beda and Baeza (World Heritage cities) and on the seventh day you'll arrive in Cordoba (with its Mosque and wonderful historic quarter).
The six days and five nights Extremadura route follows the historic Via de la Plata itinerary. Discover the secrets of the Iberian pig, be transported back in time to ancient Rome or the Middle Ages, relax surrounded by nature, bird watching (spotting countless birds of prey), or visit a centennial winery belonging to the Royal Spanish Crown.
It starts in Seville and heads to the historic city of Zafra. On the second day, you'll visit Mrida, with its Roman amphitheatre. Then the train takes you to Caceres, where you can see its historic quarter that has been preserved almost intact. The next stop is Monfrage National Park, which is perfect for birdwatching. On the fifth day, the train heads towards Toledo (where the Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures coexisted for centuries) and ends the journey in Aranjuez, where you can stroll around the gardens and the palace, and then on to Madrid. You can also take the route in the opposite direction, beginning in Madrid and ending the journey in colorful Seville.
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Ahmedabad: Two New Ginger Hotels http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/ginger-ahmedabad.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/ahmedabad-two-new-ginger-hotels/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/ahmedabad-two-new-ginger-hotels/ 2017-05-19T16:16:15+05:30 article Ginger Hotels increases its footprint in Ahmedabad with the launch of two more properties Ginger Hotels, part of the Tata Group, recently opened two hotels, Ginger Ahmedabad S.G. Road and Ginger Ahmedabad Satellite in Ahmedabad, the commercial capital and a highly popular tourist centre of Gujarat, taking their number of hotels in the city to three.
Located on Ahmedabads Sharkej Gandhinagar Highway (S.G. Road), the new hotels are 17 km from the Gandinagar Airport and 12 km from the railway station. The hotels are in close proximity to Mahatma Mandir and University Convention Centre as well as to some of the most frequented business parks and shopping arcades of the city.
With a combined inventory of 70 rooms in the Superior category, Ginger Ahmedabad S.G. Road and Ginger Ahmedabad Satellite offer free Wi-Fi, security and meeting facilities. In-room facilities include ergonomically designed beds, work desk, tea/coffee maker, electronic safe and refrigerator, etc.
Multi-cuisine restaurants offer a wide variety of breakfast options, lunch and dinner to choose from.
The usual check-in time is 2pm and checkout out 12pm. Early arrival and late departure is subject to availability of rooms and at an additional cost. of Indias key budget chain of hotels, Ginger Hotels now operates six properties in Gujarat. It operates 40 hotels in 31 locations across the country.
www.gingerhotels.com.
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Pachmarhi: Blessed by Nature http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/madhya-pradesh24_Pachmarhi_.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/pachmarhi-blessed-nature/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/pachmarhi-blessed-nature/ 2017-05-19T15:16:51+05:30 article The secluded hill station of Pachmarhi is brimming over with great views, forests and waterfalls One of Indias more unusual getaways, the town of Pachmarhi is not easy to reach, which is what helps preserve its status as a quiet little hill station. It is the highest point in Madhya Pradesh, nestled in a saucer-shaped plateau that comprises jagged peaks and red-sandstone escarpments. The hills encircle a landscape of lush sal and bamboo forests, which is indented by deep gorges and canyons, and overrun by pristine cascading streams.

In fact, what really distinguishes Pachmarhi from other hill stations is its abundance of water bodies. Visitors to this town can have a picnic down at a chilled rock pool bathed in sunlight, or swim and then relax by near a waterfall or a confluence of streams. Where the streams enter the gorges, it is even possible to swim up long narrow pools.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The town consists of a small bazaar, an army station, and a sprawling civil area that retains a distinct Colonial ambi ence with church spires rising over the treetops. The neighbouring woods and hills can be easily accessed by jeep taxis, and sometimes even on foot, ideally with guides.

Natural Beauty

Pachmarhi has the usual roster of places from where you can enjoy gorgeous views: Dhupgarh (the highest point between the Himalaya and the Nilgiris, at 4,429 ft), known for its famous sunsets; Bee Falls; Fairy Pool, which entails a descent on foot and Duchess Falls, which is slightly difficult to get to but well worth the effort, despite the crowds (visit during the off-season period to avoid the rush). Fairy Pool, extremely popular with tourists, is a shining, silver waterfall that cascades down five levels to form five tiny bathing pools, collectively called Panchali Kund. It plunges another 30 ft to create the spectacular pool itself. Duchess Falls is another must-see destination, where you will be rewarded with some unique sights.

Away from the water, there are great views to be enjoyed if you climb up the linga-shaped peak of Chauragarh. For a scenic two-hr walk, take the bridle path around Astachal (the old Monte Rosa) that rejoins the road near the huge cave of Reechgarh. Wind up the walk with a visit to the Dorothy Deep rock shelter, which has prehistoric cave paintings.

Within the civil area are the Buddhist period rock-hewn Pandav Caves, the landscaped government gardens and Bison Lodge, a museum. Pandava Caves or Panch Mathi, is where Pachmarhi derives its name from. It is believed that the Pandavas of the Indian epic Mahabharata spent some time here during their exile.

Shrines

Over centuries, the regions topography, comprising ravines, cliffs and deep caves, has become the location of Shaivite shrines.

Pachmarhi is known for its annual Shivaratri Mela in February/ March when thousands of devotees throng the Mahadeo Temple, 10 km south of the town, carrying symbolic tridents to plant on the sacred Chauragarh summit. The Jatashankar Cave Temple is another popular spot.

Prehistoric Rock Paintings

In the cliffs and ravines of Pachmarhi, the soft sandstone of the Satpuras weathered into a profusion of rock shelters. These provided safety to hunters and gatherers, who left behind vibrant compositions depicting hunting scenes, warriors with bows and arrows, soldiers on horseback with swords and shields, demons, magicians, dancers, honey-gatherers and so on. While visiting these today, you can also wander around lush forests of sal and jamun trees, clamber down rocks and cliffs, stumble upon rippling brooks and take a refreshing dip in one of the several natural swimming pools.

About 50 sites have been surveyed, but only two of the sites are protected monuments with signposts leading to them (you still need a guide to find the path). The Dorothy Deep shelter in particular has a stunning location and is less than an hours walk from the road.

Churches

Catholic Church, built in 1892, has stained-glass windows from Belgium that create marvellous hues, but is now open only to the army. Christ Church, built in 1875, is considered one of Madhya Pradeshs most beautiful churches. It has stained-glass panels that were imported from Europe.

Trekking

For some interesting treks around the area, contact the trekking club set up by the youth of an adivasi tola (hamlet) with the assistance of an NGO. They can be reached through Vinay Sahu (Cell: 094253 67365) at his shop in front of Saket Hotel (Tel: 07578-252165, 252256) in the bazaar. Vinay has a rough map of the half- and full-day walks the Tola Trekking Club offers for which you will need a guide. You must walk to discover Pachmarhis unique offerings, and in hiring a guide for a modest fee you will be supporting a livelihood.

WHERE TO STAY

The WelcomHeritage property, The Golf View (Tel: 07578-252115, Cell: 09425017793; Tariff: ?7,000-10,500) is a tastefully converted bungalow.

MP Tourisms Rock End Manor (Tel: 252079; Tariff: ?5,990, with meals) is a restored former Colonial bungalow set upon a hillock. Satpura Retreat is another MP Tourism property (Tel: 252097; Tariff: ?2,690-3,490, with meals), which offers an experience akin to staying in a forest bungalow.

MP Tourism has several other properties, such as the Amaltas (Tel: 252098; Tariff: ?1,990-2,590). Panchvati (Tel: 252096; Tariff: ?2,590) is a fully restored bungalow, next to the MPTDC Information Centre offering huts with their own gardens, and individual rooms.

Also by MP Tourism is Champak Bungalow (Tel: 252034, 252587; Tariff: ?4,590-5,590, with meals), located near Padmini Lake, which offers tents and rooms. The homestay Evelyns Own (Tel: 252056, Cell: 09425310503; Tariff: ?2,000-4,000; only breakfast served) is a charming cottage. Hotel Pachmarhi (Cell: 09327788000; Tariff: ?900-2,640) is centrally located with fully furnished rooms and a vegetarian restaurant.

WHERE TO EAT

All the MP Tourism hotels have a restaurant serving a standard Indian and Chinese menu. Amaltas serves a delicious combination of dosa and coffee, apart from meals. The alfresco dinner under the stars at Rock End Manor is delightful.

MP Tourism also runs the China Bowl restaurant, in a bungalow near Panchvati. The Open Garden Restaurant offers a fairly large multi-cuisine repertoire at very reasonable prices. The Golf View Hotel has a vegetarian-only menu. Among the better known nonvegetarian restau rants in the bazaar is the Khalsa, and for a thali meal, Mrignayani located near Gandhi Chowk is a good option.

When to go October-March Location In south Madhya Pradeshs green Satpura Range, at an elevation of 3,550 ft Air Nearest airport: Bhopal Rail Nearest rail: Pipariya

THE INFORMATION

Tourist/ Wildlife Offices

Tourist Office

Room No. 3-4, Hotel Janpath

Janpath Road, New Delhi

Tel: 011-23366528, 32599000, 23341187

Telefax: 23347264

Chanderi

MPSTDC

Hotel Tana Bana, Chanderi

Tel: 07547-252222

Cell: 07725896140

MP Tourist Information Centre

Tansen Residency Complex

6A, Gandhi Road

Gwalior. Tel: 0751-2234557, 4056726

STD code07547

Maheshwar

MPSTDC

42, Residency Area

Opp St Paul School, Indore

Tel: 0731-2499566

STD code0731

Burhanpur

MPSTDC

Tapti Retreat

Burhanpur-Ichhapura Road

Burhanpur. Tel: 07325-242244

STD code07325

Bhimbetka

Bhopal Tourist Office

Paryatan Bhavan, Bhadbhada Road

Bhopal. Tel: 0755-2778383

Bhopal Tourist Office

Railway Station, Bhopal. Tel: 2746827

STD code0755

 

THE INFORMATION

Ratapani WLS

MPSTDC

Paryatan Bhavan

Bhadbhada Road

Bhopal

Tel: 0755-2778383

Superintendent

Obedullahganj Forest Division

Cell: 09424790712

STD code0755

Pachmarhi

Pachmarhi Regional Office

Amaltas Complex

Near Tehsil

Pachmarhi

Tel: 07578-252100

Pachmarhi Tourist Office

Bus Stand, Pachmarhi

Tel: 252029

Pachmarhi Tourist Office

Railway Station

Pipariya

Tel: 07576-223499

STD code07578

Amarkantak

MPSTDC

Holiday Home

Amarkantak

Tel: 07629-269416

Jabalpur Regional Office

Rani Durgavati

Paryatan Bhavan

North Civil Lines, Jabalpur

Tel: 0761-2677290

STD code07629

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Lothal: Ancient History http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Gujarat6_Lothal_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/lothal-ancient-history/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/lothal-ancient-history/ 2017-05-19T15:06:45+05:30 article Lothal is famous for the discovery of several ruins of Indus Valley Civilization Lothal is located between the Sabarmati river and its tributary Bhogavo, in the Saurasthra region. The sea is, today, over 19 km away from Lothal, but at one time, boats from the Gulf of Cambay could have sailed right up to the spot. Exploration of the Sabarmati Valley in the mid-1950s led to the discovery of Lothal and several other Harappan sites, thereby adding a new province to the extent of the Indus civilization, which extended from present-day northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. The civilization flourished in the basins of River Indus and the now dried up River Saraswati. Excavation was carried out at Lothal between 1955 and 1962, after which the site as well as the site museum were set up for tourists.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

It is indeed hard to grasp what a crucial role Lothal has played in the history of the subcontinent, having connected the region to glorious and admittedly more popular civilizations westward, for instance Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Archaeologists have dated this site to as far back as 2450 BCE, with the Harappan period ending around 1900 BCE, transitioning into what is known as a Red Ware Culture in 1300 BCE.

The modest-sized settlement, as you will see as you walk around the ASI-protected area, was roughly rectangular in plan, surrounded by a wall that was initially made of mud and later of mud as well as burnt bricks. There was a burial ground in the northwest section of the settlement, outside the enclosing walls. The main citadel included an elevated area where you can now see remains of residential buildings, streets, lanes, bathing pavements and drains. Walk around the complex to admire the surviving walls of houses, as well as the fascinating drains.

Lothal would have been an important part of the Harappan civilization not only for its rich cotton and rice-growing areas, but also for its bead-making industry. The beads and semi-precious stones found in Lothal attest to a great level of artisanal skill, and many of these beads have been found in Mesopotamia, evidence of robust trade. Over time, a neatly planned township was constructed, a quintessential feature of the Mature Harappan phase, along with a dock for ships. Though only a small portion is now visible, the original town was divided into several block of one or two metre-high platforms made of sun-dried bricks. These platforms served as common plinths for a group of 20 to 30 houses, and a mud-brick wall of 13 m thickness gave protection against floods.

Some of the houses in the main area were quite large, with four to six rooms, bathrooms, a large courtyard and verandah.

The unique characteristic of urban Harappan settlements is in the division of the city into a citadel or Upper Town and a Lower Town. It is assumed that social differentiation existed in Harappan society, and that the ruling class, whatever their nature and composition may have been, would have lived in the Upper Town, where the houses were built on 3-m high platforms and included paved bathing spaces, underground drains and a well for potable water

But the Lower Town was also equipped with crucial civic amenities, and in fact drainage and water facilities in the Harappan civilization are some of the stunning examples of early urbanisation in the Indian Subcontinent.

The streets were paved with mudbrick, with a layer of gravel on top. Houses belonging to artisans such as coppersmiths and beadmakers have been identified from the presence of kilns, raw materials and artefacts.

The most distinctive feature of Lothal is the dockyard, which is on the eastern edge of the site. The basin is enclosed by a wall of burnt bricks. The mechanisms of the dockyard are truly impressive for its time, with provisions for maintaining a regular level of water by means of a sluice gate and a spill channel. There is a mud-brick platform on the western embankment that may have been where goods would have been loaded and unloaded.

Lothal was a busy industrial centre that imported pure copper and produced artefacts such as bronze celts, chisels, spearheads and ornaments. Beads and shells of fine quality were produced primarily for trade and export purposes. Due to the area being flood prone, the town slowly shrank, ships stopped coming to the dock, and people eventually dispersed to nearby regions in what is called the Late Harappan period, which is characterised by an abandonment of the urban towns for smaller settlements.

At the foot of the mound at Lothals archaeological site remnants of the flood-damaged peripheral wall of mud-bricks can be seen near the corner of the warehouse. The warehouse possibly played the role of a storage house in the economy of the town. There may have originally been as many as 64 cubical blocks, but the many floods destroyed all but a few of the blocks even before the site was abandoned. Several clay labels that archaeologists found in this area confirm the view that the wood superstructure would have housed goods that were either being exported or imported. These sealings, some of which are on display in the site museum, are testament to the commercial nature of production of goods in Lothal, a crucial historical fact.

The archaeological museum in Lothal was set up in 1976, and it hosts a large display of some of the most striking artefacts found during the excavations. You can also look at archaeologists conjectural plans for the town, including the bead factory, and the original expanse of the dockyard. Displays include terracotta ornaments, beads, seal and sealing replicas, shell, ivory, copper and bronze objects, figurines representing animals and humans, gorgeous painted pottery, as well as fascinating objects recovered from burials in the cemetery site. One of the most fascinating finds in Lothal during excavation was a burial of two people together in a brick-lined grave; a replica of this can also be seen in the museum.

Museum Timings 10.00am-5.00pm, Closed Fridays

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

A good place to stay while visiting Lothal is the Utelia Palace (Ahmedabad Tel: 079-26445770, 26763331, Cell: 09825012611; Tariff: ?5,000-7,000), a heritage property in Utelia. It is about 4 km from Lothal heritage sites, enroute to Palitana, and offers 20 rooms and a restaurant. Meals cost extra (Breakfast ?450, lunch/ dinner ?750). The palace is closed during the summer months of May and June.

When to go October to March Location Close to the mouth of River Sabarmati, in eastern Gujarat Air Nearest airport: Ahmedabad Rail Nearest railhead: Ahmedabad

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Kanger Valley National Park http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Chaatisgarh16_Kanger_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kanger-valley-national-park/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kanger-valley-national-park/ 2017-05-19T15:00:28+05:30 article The park is famous for its biodiversity, magnificent waterfalls and limestone caves The Kanger Valley National Park, near Jagdalpur, presents an attractive slice of Chhattisgarh, replete with sudden cascades, interesting birds and stunning landscapes.

The Kanger Valley National Park (KVNP), as it is known, is in Bastar, the true-blue tribal district of the state. Naturally, the district comes across as unique from various perspectives because of its tribal roots, not unaffected by contemporary mores.

Chhattisgarh is not about booking a tourist cab for a day tour. It is all about getting your feet dirty, downing your car windows and feeling the breeze in your face. As of now, the state is still virgin territory, untouched and unexplored. Get in before the crowds get wind of it!

While coming from Raipur, you will be travelling via Kondagaon to Jagdalpur. En route, you also get to see the princely township of Kanker, an interesting stopover. The journey ends with the coming into view of the city lights of Jagdalpur, headquarters of Bastar District, and the base town for a visit to KVNP.

ORIENTATION

The Kanger Ghati is just 27 km from Jagdalpur, the district headquarters that most visiting the park prefer to use as a hub. Take note that this is a national park, not just a wildlife sanctuary. The difference lies in that no human activity is allowed inside national parks, while certain limited activities are permitted within sanctuaries. Moreover, national parks receive more financial support from the central government.

The half-hour journey from Jagdalpur to Kanger Ghati (valley) is a delightful drive on a snaky road with mustard fields on both sides. A shot of adrak ki chai at the T-junction and some quick shopping of colourful pagdis on the way would make for a great start.

Precautions, advice, warnings, instructions on safety measures and lots more at the entry gate can prove useful on the trip inside the park. The 200 sq km park comprises two waterfalls Tirathgarh and Kanger Dhara, three caves Kutumsar, Dandak and Kailash, one crocodile park Bhainsa Darha and also a daily tribal bazaar. The valley is a treasure trove of things to see and do. Even two days seem insufficient for those who fall in love with the Kanger Valley National Park.

Park Entry Indians ?30; Foreigners ?150 Vehicle Entry car/ jeep ?50, 2-wheeler ?5, mini bus ?100, bus ?150 Timings 7.30am-3.00pm; Photography ?25, Videography ?200 Guide ?50 for 8 people

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The Kanger Valley National Park is one of the most beautiful and picturesque national parks in India. It is located on the banks of the Kolab river, 27 km from Jagdalpur. Spread over an area of approximately 200 sq km comprising mainly hilly terrain, the valley gets its name from the other river that flows through it the Kanger river.

Known for its scenic beauty and unique and rich biodiversity, Kanger Valley attained the status of a National Park in 1982. Besides wildlife and plants, there are many tourist attractions inside the park such as the Kutumsar Caves, the Kailash Caves, the Dandak Caves and the Tirathgarh Waterfalls. The Kanger Dhara Waterfall and the Bhainsa Darha Crocodile Park are beautiful picnic spots.

The park can be said to be an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts, nature lovers, researchers and anyone keen to discover the very best of the fascinating wildlife in Chhattisgarh.

Kanger Valley National Park is situated in a transition zone, and as a result its flora comprises mixed tropical moist deciduous type of forests with the coexistence of sal, teak and bamboo trees. In fact, the valley can be said to be the only region in Peninsular India that is left with one of the last pockets of virgin and untouched forests.

Wildlife in the park includes tigers, leopards, wildcats, mouse deer, cheetal, sambar, barking deer, jackals, langurs, rhesus monkeys, macaques, sloth bears, flying squirrels, striped hyenas, wild pigs, otters, civet cats, pythons, cobras, crocodiles, monitor lizards and snakes, to name a few.

Its avifaunal wealth includes spotted owlets, racket-tailed drongos, steppe eagles, phakta, bhura teeter, tree pies and herons, among others. Keep your eyes peeled for the hill mynah, the star attraction at the park, now famous as the Bastar mynah, and also the state bird of Chhattisgarh.

Apart from wildlife spotting opportunities, there are also a few sites that can be visited from the park.

Tirathgarh Waterfalls

All across Jagdalpur, hoardings of the Tirathgarh Falls look appealing indeed, but the real Tirathgarh is even better than the promos. Just 4 km from the entrance to the park, to your right, a neat single road dotted with tall sal trees and dried leaves forms the setting of the approach to Tirathgarh. There are no guides upto the waterfalls. They join up with you only thereafter. As long as you remember the 4 km milestone, you are likely to reach Tirathgarh Falls without getting lost.

The first sight of the falls is awesome. A big thick stream flowing across a rock as big as a conference table. You can sit, stand, bathe and do everything here without fear of slipping. The rocks, curiously, dont catch moss! A descent of over 400 steps, all moss-free, takes you down right to the foot of the falls. The water steadily cascades from various levels, thus enabling hundreds of tourists to take a bath simultaneously. A bath here can be taken standing right under any of the streams falling down. The falls are a popular picnic spot with families, especially those with kids. There are little puddles between little rocks that double up as makeshift bath tubs for kids.

A little temple, another few hundred steps from the base of the falls, is devoted to Shiva and Parvati. It is this temple that is known as the tirath, the pilgrimage, and hence the name of the falls. Check this out for the brilliant view of the falls from a distance. Set aside one whole day for Tirathgarh alone because kids will find paddling and swimming here quite addictive. Dragging them out is likely to be quite a task!

You need to climb up all the way to the top to reach the grub hub. Bhajias, samosas, sandwiches and whatever other junk food you might crave after all the climbing up and down, the swimming and the waterfall bath, is all available right there.

Kanger Dhara

This one looks like a little brother of Tirathgarh when viewed in terms of its size, but is a big boy when it comes to the momentum of the water. The water flows in powerful torrents here and is the reason why many prefer to take a bath at the much gentler Tirathgarh, while giving Kanger Dhara a stepmotherly treatment, if not a complete miss; even the tourist jeeps don't stop by here. The falls cut across deep rocks and the wise thing to do is to just stand back and watch, and not get into the waters and thereby, into trouble. A little away is a patch of greenery with domes for birdwatching besides curious, extremely stylish looking, open-top toilets made in cane!

Dandak Caves

A series of 250 steps, a few hundred metres away from Kanger Dhara, takes you to the Dandak Caves. The caves boast of a stalactite Shivalinga with a perennial spring flowing right across, known as Patala Linga. Dandak is a challenging series of caves to explore. The name, Dandak, incidentally, means punishment.

TIP These caves are closed from 20 June to 31 October

Kutumsar Caves

If you love dark alleys, resounding dens, eerie rocks, creepy spider webs and some spooky adventures, Kutumsar is right up your alley. You enter through a cubbyhole, vertically, with your feet trying to find a foothold on the moist rocks while the guide switches his battery torch on. It takes a while to get used to the darkness, but as you do, you are likely to be pleasantly surprised by the amazing rock formations inside one resembling the trunk of an elephant; another, a stone resembling Ganesha; yet another, a hemispherical rock worshipped as Lord Shiva himself in the form of a linga a hundred stalactite and stalagmite formations tease you as the light from the guides torch falls upon them.

It is highly likely that you would find the 40 minutes from the cubbyhole entrance, down the 90 steps to somewhere midway within the 330-ft-long subterranean cave, scary or unnerving in the least. Till about a year ago, the guides were using mashaals or flaming torches to show tourists around. However, with a view towards the conservation of the caves, to keep the soot from getting to the limestone and taking the sheen out of it, the government has introduced battery torches.

TIP Last entry is at 3.00 pm and they close at 4.00 pm. Set aside at least two hours for a good look around. Closed 15 June to 31 October

Kailash Caves

The 42-km drive from Jagdalpur via Netanar barrier to the Kailash Caves is a truly signature Chhattisgarh jungle experience. Be prepared to expect the unexpected!

This cave boasts of over 280 steps and rock formations resembling a royal banquet hall. The banquet hall has a flat surface in between, as though some subterranean beauty comes in every evening to give a live performance. Like a gallery for visitors, both the sides of the dais have rocks for those imaginary guests who watch the dancers moves. There is a durbar hall and a mini seminar hall all right here.

Chitradhara Falls

Like a freebie in a shopping hamper, the Chitradhara Waterfall is the little extra you get while at Bastar. A detour of 4 km from the main road will take you to this waterfall, ideal for a small family with little children whod love to get drenched. The falls are about 8 km away from Jagdalpur, on the way to the Chitrakote Falls. After the milestone, travel another one kilometre on a lonely road. You will come to a V-junction, from where you take the right fork.

Tamraghumar is in a tiny little village close to the Chitrakote- Barsur Road. There are no ifs and buts in between. The falls start right up there, and in one roaring, swell swoop, falls down a 100 ft to form a torrent that runs across in wild excitement. The water then flows away down a deep rocky ravine into a hidden location. Standing right up there, dwarfed by the magnificence of the falls, it feels like you are indeed privileged to be witness to a phenomenon such as this the waterfall flowing exclusively for you. A sort of a private preview of a movie in a theatre!

The only communication allowed with this waterfall is right at its peak where it creates a flat surface, a dangerous one, nevertheless. The water reaches here from a rocky gorge, probably after flowing past the innumerable herbs in the vicinity which impart a menthol-like flavour to the water. Cool and refreshing.

Kondagaon and Chilkuti

On the way to Bhainsa Darha, the crocodile park, you drive past the towns of Kondagaon and Chilkuti, famous for bell metal products. The artisans live and work in the town itself. You can pick up bell metal Ganeshas, bells, jhoomars and other curios as take-home souvenirs.

Bhainsa Darha

The crocodile park is 12 km from Koleng but the road is a jungle road. Ideally, book a local jeep from Jagdalpur itself. Bhainsa Darha is a stream with the ideal mix of water and sun so that the crocs can bask in the heat or hibernate in the water at their will. The best time to visit the park is in the late afternoon, when the heat is intense and therefore likely to force the crocs to the surface. However, chances are that you might be at the left end of the stream and the crocs on the other side, avoiding you altogether. The stream has been named after the Bhainsa or the wild buffalo, the state animal of Chhattisgarh.

Singanpur Haat

Singanpur, south of Keskal on the Kondagaon-Keskal Road, is known for its daily haats, each day bringing with it something special to offer. For instance, if you can make it to the Tuesday haat at noon, you can get to witness a cock fight, amidst much rousing and cheering. The fight ends with a round of chai and namkeen for the onlookers, borne by the winner. The market is as good a mini supermarket as any other, albeit a makeshift one, and also very reasonable. On offer are pulses, grains, garments, accessories, blankets and other lifestyle products. For as little as ?20, you can walk away with a pair of gorgeous oxidised earrings.

WHERE TO STAY

Your best bet is to stay at Bastar or Jagdalpur, where plenty of accommodation options are available.

AROUND KANGER VALLEY

Chitrakote Falls

Chhattisgarh Tourism aptly calls these beautiful falls the Niagara of India. The panditji at the Hanuman Mandir swears Rama and Sita spent a good year of the 14 years of their exile marvelling at the beauty of these falls.

The waterfall plunges down 96 ft from the placid Indravati river, a tributary of the River Godavari, 32 km from Jagdalpur, to form a horseshoe waterfall. On a sunny afternoon, the Chitrakote Falls burst out into rainbow colours. The rainbows appearance is caused by the dispersion of sunlight as it goes through the water. The suns rays seep across the spray and create a refractive colour effect in the gushing waters. However, the locals believe the water colours are because of beehives. Honey spills on to the river, gels with the water and the result is the play of colours that we get to see.

This is the only waterfall in the region that can be accessed from both the top and the base. Ideally, do the base of the waterfall first because it gives you a great view while daylight is still around. The base of the waterfall is large flat piece of land land with fine white sand. The sand is just the kind of place you need to sit down and get your hands and feet dirty.

A set of 60 steps takes you down to the base of the falls. A small Shiva temple on the way is a mini stopover, ideal to catch a glimpse of the place all over again. If you are at the tip early in the evening, you can go for a boat ride. However, it is advisable to hire a boat only if you know how to swim. Get out of the boat and reach the summit before sunset.

The waterfalls summit is lit up during the night-time and therefore can be seen a little beyond sunset too. In the glitter of the floodlights, the stone image of Ganesha gleams, a brown stone so smooth that it shines in the dark. Dont miss the swarm of glow-worms and dragon flies that meet up at the floodlight and buzz with activity.

You could stay at Chhattisgarh Tourisms Dandami Luxury Resort (Raipur Tel: 0771-4066415, 4224999; Tariff: ?1,500-2,500), which is located very close to the falls and offers some excellent views.

When to go November to June, avoiding the monsoons. Winter is best for spotting migratory birds. Location Kanger Valley NP is 27 km from Jagdalpur in Bastar District near the Odisha border Air Nearest airport: Raipur Rail Nearest rail: Jagdalpur

THE INFORMATION

Tourist/ Wildlife Offices

Head Office

Chhattisgarh Tourism Board

Paryatan Bhawan, GE Road, Raipur

Tel: 0771-4224600/ 11/ 22

Tollfree: 18001026415

Wchhattisgarhtourism.net

Tourist Information Centre

Raipur Airport, Mana, Raipur

Tel: 6541303

Tourism Information Centre

Railway Station, Raipur

Cell: 09926781331

Chhattisgarh Tourism Board

Chanakya Bhavan, Chanakyapuri

New Delhi. Tel: 011-26116822

Principal CCF

Aranya Bhawan, Medical College Road

Raipur. Tel: 2552221

CCF Wildlife and Field Director

Raipur. Tel: 2429600

Chief Wildlife Warden

Raipur. Tel: 2552228

Udanti WLS

Tourist/ Wildlife Offices

Divisional Forest Officer, Udanti

Tel: 07706-241229

STD code07706

Bastar

Chhattisgarh Tourism Board

Shahid Park, Jagdalpur

Cell: 09926944221

Kanger Valley NP

Director, Kanger Valley NP

Tel: 07782-228640

STD code07782

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Himachal Pradesh: A Short Walk in the Tirthan Valley http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/22-2.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/himachal-pradesh-short-walk-tirthan-valley/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/himachal-pradesh-short-walk-tirthan-valley/ 2017-05-19T14:15:38+05:30 article Spring colours and plenty of wildlife light up a hike into the Great Himalayan National Park The Great Himalayan National Park is Indias latest entrant into UNESCOs prestigious list of world heritage sites. It was formally declared a national park in 1999 and inducted into the list in 2014. It falls under the Kullu district of Himachal and is spread over a total area of 754sq.km. The park boasts of an astounding array of flora and fauna, being home to more than 180 species of birds and 6 different types of vegetations. The Tirthan valley spans thesouthwestern portion of the park; the parts that lie outside the demarcated park boundaries are sparsely inhabited, and at least so far, havent fallen prey to any unscrupulous forms of tourism. To get to the national park, the roadhead is thevillage of Gushaini, which is about a couple of hours from Kullu. From hereit's an 8km trek till the gate of the park, and from there a further 2km to a Rolla, where the camps are laid out for the night. Thereon, one can choose to trek further into the park. Treks of varying lengths and difficultiesare available.

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