Darjeeling is a town in India's West Bengal state, in the Himalayan foothills. Once a summer resort for the British Raj elite, it remains the terminus of the narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or “Toy Train,” completed in 1881. It's famed for the distinctive black tea grown on plantations that dot its surrounding slopes. Its backdrop is Mt. Kanchenjunga, among the world’s highest peaks.
Gangtok is the capital of the mountainous northern Indian state of Sikkim. Established as a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the 1840s, the city became capital of an independent monarchy after British rule ended, but joined India in 1975. Today, it remains a Tibetan Buddhist center and a base for hikers organizing permits and transport for treks through Sikkim’s Himalayan mountain ranges.
Havelock Island is part of Ritchie’s Archipelago, in India’s Andaman Islands. It’s known for its dive sites and beaches, like Elephant Beach, with its coral reefs. Crescent-shaped Radhanagar Beach is a popular spot for watching the sunset. On the island’s east side, rocky sections mark long, tree-lined Vijaynagar Beach. The island's forested interior is home to birdlife such as white-headed mynas and woodpeckers.
Port Blair is the capital of the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. It is located on the east coast of the South Andaman Island. Port Blair is the gateway to the pristine islands.
Port Blair is also an Island town offering water based activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, sea-cruises, and glimpses of the history and culture of the region. The Aberdeen Bazaar forms the centre of the town. Most of the restaurants and hotels are around this area.
The twin hill stations of Lonavla-Khandala are Mumbai’s most easy and beloved retreats. While conventional wisdom in India says stay away from hill roads during rains, Mumbaikars take the train to Lonavla through monsoon clouds that seem haplessly pinned into their place by the towering ghats.
These hill towns are also outdoor enthusiast’s hotspots. With Buddhist caves, majestic forts and rugged hills within easy reach, they are base points for hikes, treks and rock climbs.
Bustling and commercial, leafy and sow, cosmopolitan and vintage, Pune effortlessly adds up to more than the sum of its parts. It is a city where history often asserts itself, but with a careless lightness.
Youngsters flock to malls, IT offices come up, a lively tradition of theatre, dance and music continues, the Mulamutha flows on, migratory birds flock to it in the winter, old tress still find space, and the old folk who decided to retire to this once peaceful small town still don’t quite regret the decision.
Mumbai is the only Indian city for which the word ‘megalopolis’ is used. This is the richest and most populous city of India, one of the top 10 centres of global finance, hosts the tallest residence in the country, and has the largest slums in Asia, and the most prolific film industry in the world.
From the time the seven Portuguese-owned islands of Bombay were given in the dowry of Princess Catherine of Braganza to English King Charles II, from the time the East India Company realised how good it would be to have a harbour and the city became bigger, literally, metaphorically.
Kabini is the southern end of Nagarhole and located around the Kabini River. It is an arena where you have not three or four or six elephants doing the star turn, but 200. Or maybe 250, in just one evening…. You can experience Kabini in the capable hands of a couple of luxury resorts and a quaint forest lodge.
Also known as Kodagu, this district in the Western Ghats of south-western Karnataka can be pictured thus: 1,593 square miles of undulating topography carpeted in green, often covered by thin white mist. Bamboo, sandalwood, rosewood forests. Streams and rivulets, children of the river Cauvery, wending their way through the land. Waterfalls, deep ravines, paddy fields, grassy downs. Coffee bushes with red berries. Pepper, cardamom, oranges, nutmeg, turmeric, lemon grass…. A land fecund beyond belief. Denizens including elephants, the Malabar squirrel and tigers. The highlanders, a martial race of men and women who compel a second glance with their chiselled profiles, stately bearing and striking dress.
In the last decade, Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) has metamorphosed from a languid city of parks, bookshops and pensioners to a glittering IT capital and mecca of the upwardly mobile. The city has expanded, malls and supermarkets have mushroomed all over. Snazzy Volvos ferry IT workers to chrome-and-steel buildings and traffic gets chaotic. The ambitious Namma Metro project looms on half built pillars while gated complexes vie to attract the posh set. Pubs, nightclubs and bowling alleys make the streets more vibrant even as they try to wrestle out old-style coffee shops, second-hand bookstores and neighbourhood chaiwallas.
In between all this, in spite of all this city, retains something of its earlier flavour. Bangalows overladen with bougainvillea, the smell of filter coffee rising in the early hours, streets full of children at play, old temples, a culture of cinema, theatre and music, skies strewn with clouds, and everywhere, the slow, careful opening of flowers – golden trumpets, jacaranda, gulmohar.
A wonderful tourism place well known for its beautiful vegetation and quietude, Masinagudi located in the Nilgiri District and is a very beautiful hill station and sanctuary. It is incredibly famous among tourists for its sanctuary, species, and natural beauty. It is one of the most Wildlife Sanctuaries places in South India as proportion to other wildlife sanctuaries in the state. Masinagudi travel guide is incomplete without a mention of the rich bio-diversity in the region. It is famous for its intensive forested lands, succulent green vegetation and unique wildlife. There are residing so many kinds of wild animals include Tigers, Wild Elephants, Grey Langurs, Flying Lizard, Sambar Deer, Wild Boar, Ungulates, Pythons, Reptiles, Spectacled Cobra, Red Giant Flying Squirrel etc.
Masinagudi has a high diversification of animal life in the sanctuary with 55 species of mammal, 50 species of fishes, 227 species of birds, and 21 species of amphibian’s and34 species of reptiles. There are 15 species of Cat in India and 4 species of Cat are live in Masinagudi that is Indian Leopard, Bengal Tiger, Leopard Cat and Jungle Cat.
They like to call it the French Riviera’ because it was colonised by the French. But Puducherry, erstwhile Pondicherry, has no Cote d’Azure-style resorts, no Parisian-style street side cafes, no fashion events, water sports or golden-sand beaches. Life here is slow, almost said. And therein lies its charm.
The French built a base here in 1674. The town was planned to a geometric grid by its erstwhile rulers, with a canal dividing it into the Tamil side, once known as Ville Noir (Black Town) where the masses made their home and the Ville Blanche (White Town) where the foreign expatriates and French diplomatic corps thrived. Now it’s the grandees of local government who sprawl across Ville Blanche.
When the French turned the town over to India in 1954, a number of people who stayed on chose French citizenship. French is still an official language of this Union Territory. Attracted by the ‘differentness’, and by the aura of the Aurobindo Ashram, a number of foreigners interested in spirituality and alternative ways of life also made their life here, especially in nearby Auroville.
The smallest among the four Indian metros, Chennai (earlier Madras) is Tamil Nadu’s capital and your portal to the state’s rich culture. On the one hand you’ll find here the layers of history that made ‘Madras’. They’re still resonant in the names of the places you may visit today: Mylapore and the great 7th century Pallava dynasty port; Triplicane and its ancient temple; Santhome (San Thome) and the 16th-century Portuguese settlement, built where St Thomas is said to have settled and died; Fort St George and the first British settlement in India; Adyar and the headquarters of Annie Besant’s Theosophical Society; Kalakshetra, the place where Rukmini Devi Arundale practically created contemporary Bharatnatyam.
On the other hand, you’ll also find quintessential Tamil culture. Carnatic music and dance gatherings which are an integral part of urban life in a way no other city can claim; coconut chutney and filter kapi; and larger-than-life cut-outs of politicos jostling for space besides kitschy film posters, for this is Tamil Nadu, and religion, film and politics often seem one.
Kanyakumari looms large in India’s imagination – and with good reason. It is the southernmost tip of mainland India and is the meeting point of the three seas surrounding India: the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. If you stand on land’s edge here and let your imagination run wild, you can actually ‘feel’ you are at the tip of the world, and envision these three great swirling bodies of water merging into each other right at your feet. Then your coming to Kanyakumari has not been in vain.
For most tourists who come to Kanyakumari, it is a place of worship. They come in droves to genuflect before Kanyakumari (literally, the Maiden Goddess), and the gigantic statues for Swami Vivekananda who meditated here, and Thiruvalluvar, the pithy Tamil poet – all of them on the seafront.
Kanyakumari also offers spectacular sunrises and sunsets. It’s not everywhere that you can watch the sun rise from the sea in the morning and. Later in the evening, plunge back into it. Take off to Suchindram, a charming temple. Or pack a picnic and head for the Dutch fort at Vattakottai, with its natural beach.
Rameswaram is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre and an integral part of the Ramayana legend. It was from here that Lord Rama and his army are said to have crossed over to Sri Lanka on a fascinating 29 – km chain of shoals, called Adam’s Bridge or Rama’s Bridge. Rameswaram occupies an interesting geographical location – in the Gulf of Mannar that separates Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka.
The main temple in Rameswaram – the Ramananthaswamy Temple – is a grand edifice. The ocean here is alluringly gentle, stretching away into the horizon as if it were a particularly large lake. It is the salt in the air and the fishing boats that remind you that this is a lovely village by the sea.
Few tourists venture to this tip of India’s coastline though pilgrims abound here. Besides spirituality, the blue sea, the delightful scenery and the drive to Dhanushkodi are other reasons to head out this far.
Along the Mysore-Ooty Highway, in the foothills of the Nilgiri mountains, lies some of India’s best elephant country. Bandipur National Park is a component of a single ecological continuum called Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve that includes the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarhole National Park and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.
In 1931, Bandipur was established as a hunting reserve by the maharaja of Mysore. The reserve was expanded in 1973 to become the Bandipur National Park and Tiger Reserve. Tigers, elephants, gaur and cheetal roam these forests, though elephant poaching has been a problem here.
As you wind up the road towards Kodaikanal, one of the most popular hill stations in the country, your expectations will soar. This is easily one of the most scenic mountain drives in the country. The Palani Hills roll outwards towards green vistas dotted with lakes. The shola forests in these parts have a quiet and vivid beauty. The foliage is dense and varied, ranging from dappled yellows to intense greens. Wildflowers abound. As mist rolls on and off the hills, you’ll find yourself understanding clichés about journeys being more important than destinations.
Once you enter Kodaikanal town, however, your spirits may sink a bit. The starfish-shaped lake is beautiful but the town centre is overrun with block-like buildings and there is an alarming amount of construction going on. Hotels and restaurants vie for attention. The impressive Kodaikanal International School dominated the main square. And there are more signs advertising homemade chocolates than you can comprehend. Don’t run yet.
The pleasures of slowness are still to be found in Kodai, in nooks and corners, down secluded paths, in unexpected places. Veer off the usual sightseeing tracks, shirk the guides, go solo when you can, and take your time about it. Kodai is a place to let you most adventurous side loose – or your laziest.
South India’s most famous hill station was a realm of tribal people and shola forests till the British annexed the Nilgiris in 1799 and John Sullivan, Collector of Coimbatore, made the first stone house here in 1823. Over the years, Ooty – hardly ever called by its original name, Udhagamandalam – took its place as a Nilgiris tea plantation hot spot, served as the summer headquarters of the sahibs who ruled from Madras and got its own churches, bungalows and picinic spots. Much of which now makes it one of the most popular holiday destinations in India.
In season, Ooty can be a crush of tourists. But the secret to getting the best out of this ‘Queen of the Nilgiris’ is: spend time in the periphery of the town and visit in low season. You will get a heady cocktail of rolling hills, tea plantations, villages, unbridled greenery, and unexpected lakes. And in the low season – when every comfort is still on offer, and an umbrella and a change of socks can see you through much – look out for the sharp fragrance of ghostly pines lining misty roads; the sun lighting up a hill even as the one beside remains shrouded in dark velvet; ponies chomping grass by the kerb; acacias in full bloom; the bright gold of witches broom dotting every hill; the aroma of hot filter coffee and even hotter sambhar.
Nesting in the foothills of the Himalaya, this tiger reserve was the first sanctuary to come under Project Tiger in 1973. The combination of hills and woods is intoxicating and covers terrain from chir and pine forests to sal and sheesham trees, the ubiquitous lantana bush and grassy pastures known as chaurs – ideal grazing land for wild elephants.
Most people come to Corbett NP for the tigers. There’s no guarantee that you’ll see one, but the best time of year for trying is April to mid-June. Mid-December to end-March is when the migratory birds appear. Though the year you find deer, elephants, crocodiles, wild boars, otters and more.
Like many of India’s classic hill stations, Nainital is criticised for tourists, traffic and commercialisation, and yet manages to take your breath away at the odd moment. It is still possible to track down the soul of the place, especially in off-season spring or autumn, in its rich bounty of flowers. Taking a walk along quaint pine trails in the neighbouring woods, walking on the lanes away from standard tourist spots, it’s possible to see why one P. Barron, stumbling upon the Valley of Naini Lake in 1893, was smitten enough by its beauty to stop trading in sugar and build the first European house here. He started a trend that lasted till the 1920s; only then did the number of Indians start to rival British presence in Nainital.
In 1931, mountaineer Frank S Smythe and his colleagues chanced upon a valley on their way from an expedition and were mesmerised. “It was impossible to take a step without crushing a flower… The Bhyundar Valley was the most beautiful valley that any of us had seen. We remembered it afterwards as the Valley of Flowers.”
Somethng called by as intriguing and romantic a name as the Valley of Flowers shouldn’t be found conveniently off the highway! So, even after a long trip from Delhi to Joshimath, you have to hike up from a point called Govindghat.
The world may know of this as a holy temple town, a hippie abode, the place where the Beatles took to spirituality under Mahesh Yogi or as an international hotspot for Yoga, but more than anything else, it is the Ganga that defines Rishikesh. The river, whose very name is a prayer, makes the town far more tranquil than its loudspeakers, its chaotic lanes, its sadhus, backpackers and spiritual tourists would otherwise have let it be. You are always uplifted by her changing constancy.
HOME TO ENDLESS COFFEE PLANTATIONS, Chikmagalur is where the aromatic beverage was first introduced to India by a Sufi mystic from Yemen, known as Baba Budan, who migrated here in the 17th century. And it has remained an important hub for planters who’ve been immersed in the businessof coffee production. For tourist, it’s a perfect springboard for visits and treks to nearby peaks and waterfalls. Kemmannagundi, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary and Kudremukh are the major attractions around here.
The Western Ghats gives rise to the Sharavati River that plunges from a height of 829 feet in four magnificent cascades namely Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket. Jog falls, being the tallest waterfalls in India is situated in the dense evergreen forests, 16kms from Talguppa nearest railway station, Shimoga district, Karnataka
The best time to visit the Jog is in winter when the sky is clear of the mist. The place is well connected by rail and road from Shimoga city and number of government & private buses ply between Shimoga and Jog Falls. Jog falls is also known as Gerusoppaa falls, is the highest untiered waterfalls in India as it drops directly and does not stream on to the rocks.
Gokarna is a destination as much for the ardent pilgrim as the beach-lover. This ancient temple town and centre of Sanskrit studies has attracted Shaivites for centuries. This is where Shiva is said to have emerged from the ear of a cow;
Car Street, which runs through the town, is flanked by hawkers of puja paraphernalia and souvenirs. The main draw is the anvient Mahabaleshwara Temple with its 6-foot-tall linga, of which only the tip can be seen.
The capital of India is used to being a capital since Muhammad Ghori founded the Delhi Sultanate in 1193. Successive cities arose and fell, but Mughal Shahjahanabad lives on as Old Delhi and the British capital as New Delhi. In the process, Delhi grained three World Heritage Sites; a rich culture of many ethnicities, foof habits and festivals; a population of some 16 million; India’s political elite; and buzzing economic energy. Cars multiply, the green belt gives in to construction, the Yamuna shrinks, but they who will join its colleges, work in its IT sector or sleep on its pavements keep coming.
Strategically located at the heart of India in the alluvial plains between the Ganga and Yamuna, Agra had been a religious and commercial centre for centuries, but it matured and perfected itself only when the Mughals made it their home.
Agra became the grand theatre where this fascinating dynasty played out an entire range of emotions on a titanic scale: love, hate and passion, tremendous energy, mercurial moods, lust for power…. Yet we only have to wander through their forts, gardens, tombs and monuments to also experience their love of nature, refinement, striving for perfection and devotion to the arts. It is this that has endured.
Sixteen years after Jaipur was founded in 1727, a Jesuit Father Jose Tieffenthalar visited and was charmed by what he saw. “The city, while it is new, is assuredly the most beautiful among the ancient cities of India… it has the splendour of the modern, with equal wide and long streets.”
Today, the Walled City of Jaipur lives up to its reputation as a pretty, planned city easily for the most part: its enchanting bazaars bear their heritage with pride and the uniform pink hue adds romance.
It’s easy to see why Udaipur is said to be one of India’s most romantic cities. The town’s old quarter, hugging Lake Pichola, is unfailingly picturesque. You will find many placed in India with grander monuments, but few that are as atmospheric. The town boasts of lakes, lake palaces, mansions and gardens.
Udaipur derives its name from its founder Udai Singh. The Sisodia FAjput clan had long ruled over the Mewar kingdom for Chittaur, but when Akbar attacked Chittaur in 1567, Udai Singh fled and founded a new capital. The City Palace was built soon after and later rulers kept adding to it.
When you return from Jodhpur, the Mehrangarh Fort will dominate memories of your holiday the way its presence dominates the Old City. The fort was built by Rao Jodha, originally of Kanauj, who moved his capital here in 1459 and established the Marwar kingdom.
Today, the city offers a good two-or three-day holiday. The fort and palaces are fabulous. And you’ll enjoy the brightly decorated autos, the motorcyclists who prefer riding caps to helmets in a nod to the city’s equestrian tradition, and the Old City with houses painted blue.
Jaisalmer is one of the most romantic places in India, exotic for foreign as well as Indian tourists. For centuries, this little site near the present India-Pakistan border was a trading post, via which trains of camels trekked across deserts to Afghanistan and West Asia, carrying silver, cloth and more. The area was ruled by the Bhatti Rajputs. Rawal Jaisal started building the fort here in 1196, and later Bhatti rulers kept adding to the edifice.
Immortalised through many images, from Satyajit Ray’s film Sonar Kella to the Jaisalmer cigarette advertisements to Indian tourism posters, the yellow-sandstone fort is the town’s signature sight. Jaisalmer Fort is unique inasmuch as people have been living in it throughout is history.
Ranthambhore is pure magic. The place is full of the romance of the wilds and the intrigue of history – 10th-century ruins smothered by roots, herons on lakes, a million myths about Raja Hamir and the glory days of the ‘impregnable’ fort.
The fort’s fall, along with that of Chittaur, is what is credited with breaking the spirit of the Rajputs and the establishing of the Mughal Empire. Locals still visit a Ganesh temple here, as did their ancestors before them. And like them, they must walk through tiger forest to do so.
Athirapally is the land of rivers and forests and great waterfalls! The destination houses the largest waterfall in Kerala, the Athirapally waterfall, a major tourist attraction. This patch in Sholayar ranges so beautifully intertwined with lush green forest cover and sizzling silver cascades and located central to Cochin and River Nila (Bharathapuzha), is a treat for the eyes during the monsoon. Swollen Chalakkudy River, Charpa, Vazhachal and Athirapally are ideal places where the monsoon is to be enjoyed.
Calicut, konwn as Kozhikode is still the most important city in northern Malabar, but it doesn’t have the bustle and energy that brought adventurers like lbn Batuta visited Kozhikode at least six times between 1342 and 1347. He was impressed by the wealth of its Muslim merchants: “(Any) one of them can purchase the whole freightage of vessels that put in here.” Calicut was then at the peak of its fame as a mighty seaport. Arabs and Chinese met here, exchanging spices, coir and timber. In 1498, Vasco da Gama landed here at Kappad Beach, heralding the advent of Portuguese colonisation in India
Much like the many meanings of its name, the town offers many facets. The name derives from the words koyil (palace) and kotta (fort). The city was once surrounded by the fort built by its ruler, the Zamorin, who encouraged trade with the Arabs by giving special concessions. Though the locals called it Kozhikode, for the Arabs it was Kalikat; for Chinese, Kalifo; and for Europeans, Calicut. The British then immortalised the name by calling the locally produced cloth ‘calico’.
“There is something in the air of the place, especially in October and November, that is conducive to romance,” quote Ruskin Bond. And this may be a holiday-saver for those who bemoan the crowds and construction in Mussoorie. She still sits smug on the title ‘Queen of the Hills’, but mainly in off-season autumn and spring. Her autumnal confection of mist, hill views and ghostly pine branches is delicious and the crisp air in February-March as you listen out for morning birds in Landour is divine.
Mussoorie is a pleasant getaway for mountain walkers. Away from the Mall areas, a wealth of birdlife, flora and fauna is preserved. Mussoorie’s Institutional character, its cantonment and famous boarding schools have helped slow down encroachment on the forests.
Bekal is a lovely realm of seaside forts, palm groves, beaches, red earth and green rice fields. Bekal Fort was built by local Nayak kings in the mid-17 th century. Tipu Sulthan made it a base and then lost it to the British. The huge circular fort, battered by foaming sea waves, is made of laterite stone and is the best preserved of the area’s forts. The fort hosts the Magazine, an Observation tower and picturesque peepholes. There is an ancient Anjaneya Temple, a mosque, a sea bastion and several underground passages. To one side lies a shallow beach.
Hyderabad is known for its unique culture – the aromatic biriyani, the lilting tongue called Dakkani or Hyderabadi, the rich legacy of the Nizams and the stunning Charminar. The region is also famous for its diamond mines that produced some of the world’s most coveted rocks – the Kohinoor, the Regent Diamond. Hyderabadis are proud of their city, of the colourful stories behind its splendid palaces, of the Nizams with their many wives and as many eccentricities. They love the larger-than-life Tollywood stars, who exhort them to buy cola from gigantic hoardings, and who routinely step out of sprawling mansions in the upmarket Jubilee Hills or Banjara Hills toad histrionics to the political scene.
The lush Wayanad patch of the Western Ghats is largely a realm of hilly rainforests, plantations, indigenous tribes, and wildlife such as the Giant Malabar Squirrel or the endangered Nilgiri languor. Wayanad is Kerala’s least populous district. This adds to its charm; you’ll be captivated by the serenity and the slow pace of life.
The district has three main towns: Kalpetta, Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery. Kalpetta is the district headquarters and usually, the first stop. Adjoining spots Lakkidi and Vythiri are well known for their forest and plantation resorts. For wildlife, one has to seek out Mananthavady or Sulthan Bathery to access the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.
Wayanad destinations offer an experience of wilderness with the comforts of a modern holiday. You can trek mountains, bathe under waterfalls, listen out for wild calls, chat with plantation owners who trade coffee, spices, vanilla, and listen to legends by the campfire.
Just half an hour’s drive from town, Kovalam is arguably Kerala’s most famous tourist attraction. Three crescent-shaped beaches separated by rocky headlands are Kovalam’s main hotspots. But there are less frequented beaches that are as picturesque all along the coast. No less enticing are the Ayurveda centres-cum-resorts that have mushroomed around the beaches.
Looking around this sun-and-sand paradise, it’s difficult to imagine that Kovalam was once just a pretty fishing village with a prettier beach. That was till the hippies discovered this hidden jewel. The day-trippers from Thiruvananthapuram followed. The views are still splendid, and Kovalam also has all the trappings of a famous beach destination, complete with seaside eating joints serving Italian food and signboards in several languages.
Thenmala attracts foreign and domestic tourists with a host of attractions. Boating on the lake, a rope bridge, trekking, mountaineering, biking and a musical fountain. Thenmala is approachable both from Trivandrum and Punalur by road. The waterfall called Palaruvi is a prime attraction nearby. Also nearby is a deer rehabilitation center where visitors can see deer in a forest setting and have a peep into a traditional tree house used by forest dwellers to escape harm from wild animals.
Kollam is a city in the state of Kerala, on India's Malabar Coast. It’s known as a trade hub and for its beaches, like lively Kollam and secluded Thirumullavaram. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Police Museum has artifacts tracing the history of the police force. Nearby, Ashtamudi Lake is a gateway to the Kerala backwaters, a network of waterways rich with vegetation. The striped 1902 Tangasseri Lighthouse has ocean views.
Kumarakom is a village on Vembanad Lake in the backwaters of Kerala, southern India. It’s laced with canals, where houseboats ply the waters. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is home to many species including cuckoos and Siberian storks. Nearby, the Bay Island Driftwood Museum displays wooden sculptures. In the lake, Pathiramanal Island is a haven for rare migratory birds. Ancient Thazhathangady Mosque is east of Kumarakom
In Fort Kochi heritage zone – nothing is quite as it sounds. There is a seaside, but it is not your average beach where people lie and tan, it’s a harbour where ships sail past. Fishermen work here, but they do so with a type of cantilevered net that came from China 600 years ago, not to be seen anywhere else in India. There is a church, but, not only is it 400 years old, build by the Portuguese, destroyed by the Dutch…. No less than Vasco da Gama was once buried here for a time. And just to round things off nicely, there has been a unique Jewish community here since 72 CE.
Fort Kochi wears all of this cosmopolitan aplomb this role in centuries of maritime and cultural religious history, this being a tourist heritage zone, with superb ease. It is till Kerala’s most cosmopolitan and visited city, boasting a mixture of Malayali Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Jews… all engaged in some form of commerce. It’s also hard to resist the charms of Kochi’s unique geography – a mix island, small peninsulas, backwaters and a natural harbour. Mainland Ernakulam is the place of new shops and houses but the old parts like Fort Kochi or Mattancherry is where you can drink in the successive seaside influences of the Portuguese, Dutch and British in a unique ambience. The pretty islands (like Cherai) and the leisurely Vembanad backwaters nearby, not to mention the brilliant seafood, make all odes to Kochi (like this one!) a bit rapturous.
Munnar is not just Kerala’s most sought-after hill resort, it is also the centre of the state’s tea
growing district, aptly known as the High Range. In Tamil, moon aar literally means ‘three rivers’, a
reference to streams around whose confluence the town grew. The Nallthanni and Kundale streams
flow into the Muthirapuzha River here.
Tea is Munnar’s claim to fame. More than 12,000 hectares of lush, manicured tea fields form
an irresistible canvas against which honeymooners pose. Stately eucalyptus plantations, which fuel
the many tea factories in the vicinity, sway gently in the wind, their fragrance wafting over Munnar.
And shola tress hug the mist-shrouded hillsides, sheltering many endangered species of wildlife.
For the more adventurous, there’s the challenge of climbing the 8,841 ft Anaimudi, the
highest peak in India south of the Himalaya which towers majestically over the town.
Located in the heart of the slithering backwaters of Kerala, Alleppey or Alappuzha is often termed the “Venice of the East”. The town is among the oldest planned towns in India and is famous for its several backwater canals, beaches, paddy fields and lagoons. Alleppey is iconic for its houseboats cruises in the backwaters and attracts thousands of visitors each year. With the Laccadive Sea on its west Alleppey is blessed with an abundance of natural flora and fauna and the backwaters and the wetlands make it rich in marine life and resident and migratory avi fauna. Alleppey is also a cultural hub in Kerala since the early Sangam Era (3rd Century BC – 4th Century AD) and was a stronghold of the Chera Kingdom and had trade relations with the Greek and Romans. Alleppey was also one of the spots where St. Thomas the Apostle built the Churches.
The former summer capital of the British India, and the present capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla has been blessed with all the natural bounties which one can think of. It has got a scenic location, it is surrounded by green hills with snow capped peaks. The spectacular cool hills accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era creates an aura which is very different from other hill. Bulging at its seams with unprecedented expansion, Shimla retains its colonial heritage, with grand old uildings, charming iron lamp posts and Anglo-Saxon names. The Mall, packed with shops and eateries, is the main attraction of the town, and Scandal Point, associated with the former Maharaja of Patiala’s escapades, offers a view of distant snow clad peaks.Shimla is ideally located, and though there is an air service to the town, it is best reached by road that takes in the charms of the Himalayan countryside at its best. There is a sense of nostalgia about Shimla, with its old bungalows and their gabled roofs and beautiful gardens.
Seaside destinations along India’s western coast offer some sublime views of the Arabian Sea but it is Varkala which has the distinction of returning the favour. If you were an ancient mariner sailing towards the coast at Varkala, sighting land would have meant being greeted by a ragged line of rich red cliffs, a stunning contrast to the green coconut palms that silhouette a deep blue sky. It is the prettiest of India’s seaside spots.
For the tourist, small town Varkala’s allure lies entirely along the seashore, the 2-km long cliff face stretching from the South Cliff to the Thiruvambady Beach. The North Cliff, the main tourist hub, is sandwiched in between. Varkala offers all the pleasures of the more famous Kovalam, sans the crowds and hawkers. It is also fringed by serene backwaters, natural springs and beaches.
But Varkala is also a pilgrimage spot, where a 2,000-year-old temple by the sea attracts devotees. Thousands come here every year in the belief that their sins will be washed away by the holy waters at Papanasham Beach.
Visit this 40-km stretch, watered by the Periyar River, which offers many sights in central Idukki District. You’ll find gentle green hills. Thodupuzha, the entry point is 65km east of Kochi. District capital Painavu, 40 km away, is the acess point for the dams on the Periyar River that are the highlights of this region.
The Malankara Reservoir, spread over 11 km is popular picnic spot. A steep climb up the 2,685-foot-high Kurusha Para hill offers a breath taking view of the reservoir and the plantations around. Thomankuttu is a series of cascading waterfalls. Rainbow Waterfalls, surrounded by lush forests, gush down from 4,921 ft, 25 km from Thodupuzha. Said to be among the highest peaks in Kerala, the Kudayathoor Mala rises 3,680 ft. The Chola Style architecture of the ancient Annamalai Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, remains pretty much as it was
Mysore (or Mysuru), a city in India's southwestern Karnataka state, was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947. In its center is opulent Mysore Palace, seat of the former ruling Wodeyar dynasty. The palace blends Hindu, Islamic, Gothic and Rajput styles. Mysore is also home to the centuries-old Devaraja Market, filled with spices, silk and sandalwood.
Goa is more than beaches and trance parties. A kaleidoscopic blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures, sweetened with sun, sea, sand, seafood and spirituality, there's nowhere in India quite like it.
Goa’s biggest draw is undoubtedly its virtually uninterrupted string of golden-sand beaches. This shimmering strand stretches along the Arabian Sea from the tip to the toe of the state, and each of the various beaches have developed their own personalities and reputations since the hippie days of the sixties. They cater to every tropical whim: choose from backpacker Arambol or bolder, brasher Baga; from the palm-fringed sands of Palolem to hippie market bliss at Anjuna or lovely, laid-back Mandrem; from expansive groomed sands in front of fancy five-star resorts or hidden crescent coves, where the only footprints will be the scuttling crabs' and your own.