Hampi – An Essential Sanctum for the History Lover

An ancient town which is a monument in itself, somewhat like an open museum of archaeology and history; such a place speaks of the rich heritage of India. Abandoned with the ruins of broken empires and obscured by time, Hampi is a living testament to the grandiose of Deccan history that existed once upon a time. This small town in Karnataka dates back as far as six or seven centuries and is regarded as the largest open monument of Asia. Hampi saw its golden years of existence during the rule of the Vijayanagar Empire, with opulent palaces, temples, forts, public buildings, water systems, etc. Today, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hampi stands with traces of the bygone on the background of a rusty and rocky landscape, rendering a picture-perfect sight to the beholder. Pack your bags, book a taxi and head to explore this splendid time-capsule in Northern Karrnataka.

savaari-bangalore-hampi

Exploring Hampi

The ancient town has managed to keep urban trappings at bay and still remains a quiet place, except for a few marketplaces, catering to tourists. There are about 500 ancient monuments, temples, forts, and of course, the captivating remains of the prosperous Vijayanagara Empire.

Here are the best landmarks to discover Hampi in its true essence:

Virupaksha Temple

Dedicated to the patron deity of the Vijayanagar Empire, this temple is as old as the dynasty itself. The temple is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, an avatar of Shiva. The 7th-century temple reflects exquisite stone carvings architecture, characteristic of Dravidian architecture and tops your ‘must-see’ list for history buffs and art lovers. The temple boasts sky-high gopurams (towers) and ornately designed inner sanctums. The entire site becomes alive during the festivals when pilgrims throng from all over to pay homage to the revered gods.

savaari-hampi-cabs-1

Vithala Temple

This is perhaps the most impressive structure of Hampi. Dating back to the 16th century, this temple features rich architectural elements. The highlight of this temple premise is the huge stone chariot, also intricately carved and designed and has come to be an iconic symbol of Hampi. You can explore the expansive temple complex flanked by impressive arches and a large courtyard. The smaller temples within the premise have carvings of various Hindu gods and goddesses.

Elephant Stables

Like horse stables, ancient royal families also had an elephant stable to house their royal rides. But the historic Elephant Stable in Hampi remains as the most magnificent animal shed you would have ever seen. The ornate façade makes way for 11 domed chambers which served as the enclosure for the royal elephants of Vijayanagar Empire.

Queen’s Bath

savaari-hampi-taxi

Where there is royalty, there must be a special bathing arrangement for the queen and her acquaintances. And hence, the Queen’s Bath in Hampi. This bathhouse used to be a part of the royal enclosure of the Vijayanagar Empire. Though in ruins today, the remnants still reflect what would have a magnificent place with a huge pool surrounded by stone steps and encircled by connecting corridors with windows.

Daroji Bear Sanctuary

savaari-daroji-bear

As surprising as it may sound or seem, Hampi boasts a sanctuary dedicated to bears. What used to be a thorny shrubland, was turned into a lush green expanse of natural forest and house sloth bears. There are about 120 bears inhabiting the sanctuary. You can also find other wildlife species like jackals, leopards, and wild boars.

Hazara Rama Temple

Located in the center of the erstwhile royal territory, the Hazara Rama temple dates back to 15th century. As the name suggests, the temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. To add to its significance, the temple walls and pillars have sculpted narrations of the entire Ramayana. There are also intricately carved forms of other gods and goddesses. The entire site of the Hazara Rama temple renders an exquisite view of the sand-colored façade against the open sky. And that is why probably, this temple makes for the most photographic locale of Hampi.

Walk around, engage in rock climbing, explore the markets, and bask in the glory of the bygone days of this ancient town. Because even if time flies, it leaves behind its footprints for us to cherish. Savaari provides convenient car rental services from Bangalore to help you soak in this glorious chapter of history.

Savaari Offers – Book an Innova cab in Bangalore

savaari offers book an innova cab
Discounts on all Innova trips in Bangalore

Get 20% OFF when you book an Innova cab to head to popular destinations around Bangalore!

Looking for a quick weekend getaway near Bangalore? Look no further! With destinations like Mysore, Coorg, Ooty, Wayanad and Chikmagalur to choose from, you’ll have no trouble squeezing in a small vacation over the weekend. Why look for a self-drive car when you can sit back and relax on your holiday? Book outstation cabs in Bangalore and get 20% off when you book an Innova cab for your weekend getaway.

Happy journey!

Savaari Offers – Head to Delhi Now!

Get 10% OFF when you book an Etios cab from Chandigarh to New Delhi!

If you’re planning on exploring the stunning monuments and sights in Delhi over the weekend, book a Savaari cab! Head to India Gate, Red Fort, Qutub Minar and many other popular tourist spots comfortably when you book a cab with us! We promise it won’t be too heavy on your pockets either. To read more about what more you can do in Delhi, click here.

Explore Chandigarh to Delhi Taxi prices so you can plan your trip right away!

Happy journey!

Sandakphu – A Trek Through The Lower Himalayas

If you are a regular trekker, whether professionally or as a hobby, you would have definitely scaled the Himalayan ranges at some point or the other. But the beauty of this mighty mountain range is not restricted to the Greater Himalayas of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand but extends to the north-eastern states across West Bengal and further. One such prominent point on the Eastern Himalayas is the Sandakphu peak. Standing at 11,930 Ft above the sea-level, this is the highest point on the Singalila Ridge in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Being on the border of northern part of West Bengal and Ilam district of Nepal, Sandakphu Mountain shares its location with both the countries.

Image source: Wikipedia

Sandakphu Trek

Sandakphu, also called Sandakfu or Sandakpur, is popular among trekkers, both national and international, who love to explore this part of the Himalayas.

The trek along this mountain is one of its kind, with uninterrupted views of the magnificent Kanchenjunga Range. Those who can successfully reach the summit can enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime view of four of the five highest peaks in the world- namely- Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, and Makalu.

Abound with seasonal wildflowers, alpine forests and Himalayan fauna, the trekking route through the Sandakphu is no less than a joyride on foot. To get to Darjeeling and figure out the rest of your trek, book a cab with Savaari Car Rentals.

The entire journey is usually divided into four stages

Stage I – Manebhanjan to Meghma

The trek starts from Manebhanjan, a small hamlet, 28 Km further north of Darjeeling. Manebhanjan is a cozy Himalayan village, on the border of Nepal and India and have trekkers from both countries.

This is the easiest and intriguing part of the trek that cuts through the Singalila National Park. This first leg of the journey takes you to 2600 meters higher. This is a 4-hour trek through the forests of Chitre, at the foothills of the mountains. Lined with towering oaks, pines and fir trees, and dotted with wild orchids, this route offers a mesmerizing experience.

Stage II – Meghma to Gairibans

This part of the trek takes you another 2,621 meter higher and has two route options: One trail goes via Tonglu at 3,070 m, while the other goes through Tumling at 2,900 m. The route via Tonglu is a shorter one and goes through a sparsely populated village. The Tonglu Lake en route is a picture-perfect scenery of pine forests reflecting on the shimmering glacial water. You can also make a pit stop at the cozy inns and cafes that the town offers for travelers. Tomling, on the other hand, is a little-extended trail but scenic nevertheless. Though closer to the Himalayas, both these trails are replete with lush greenery, especially in the peak travel season.

Image source: Wikipedia

Stage III – Gairibans to Sandakphu

The third part of the trek starts getting tougher as the altitude rises. After a 3636 m climb in this section, you can reach Sandakphu. Here, the last milestone on your route is Bikeybhanjan. The steep and rugged slopes might seem like the ‘dark before the dawn’, but the vibrant alpine flora and pristine views of the surrounding mountains keep the trekkers motivated to push for the last mile and reach their goal all victorious.  

Stage IV – Sandakphu to Phalut

The last leg of the journey and the most difficult yet the most exhilarating one is a one-day trek covering 21 Km. The route goes via Sabarkhum and takes you to Phalut after a climb of 3600 m.

If you want to explore the Eastern Himalayas in its true essence, then a trek to Sandakphu is a must. Surreal, awe-inspiring, and exciting, this journey yields all emotions at once. The silent nature, the blissful environment and a breathtaking view at every turn, undoubtedly make the tiring trek a rewarding one.

Savaari Pathfinder

For an expert explorer, around every corner, there’s something worth looking at and worth talking about. Seasoned travellers always stop, look around and soak in everything a place has to offer. They’re immediately intrigued by things you wouldn’t immediately notice when you go travelling.

In the hustle and bustle of Indian cities, art that adorns walls often goes unnoticed. Whether it’s a quick tag, a complex mural or legal street art, we recommend keeping your camera on the ready to take pictures in these Indian cities:

  1. Kolkata
  2. Bangalore
  3. Mumbai
  4. Delhi
  5. Hyderabad
  6. Kochi
  7. Pondicherry
  8. Hampi

Have you spotted some great murals and street art near you? Have more cities with great street art to add to our list? Click a picture and share it on social media with the hashtag #savaaripathfinder. Book our local cab and head out in your city on a street art spotting spree.

Varkala – A lesser known gem of Kerala

Tucked in the southern part of Kerala, away from the typical touristy locales of the state, Varkala sits on edge of Trivandrum. Apart from being known as Kerala’s ‘Temple Town’, Varkala is also recognized as ‘one of the top 10 seasonal beaches in the world’. The endless expanse of the Arabian Sea, the golden sands, and the laid-back vibes make this town a perfect place to relax.

Getting there

Being close to Trivandrum, the best way to reach Varkala is by air till Trivandrum airport. From there you can hire a car and reach the beach town, at a distance of about 51 Km. There are also buses and trains from Trivandrum to Varkala.

Things to do in Varkala

To see

  • Janardana Swami temple– Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this is one of the most famous places of worship in Varkala overlooking the Varkala Beach. The 2000-year old temple enshrines an ancient deity of Vishnu and is an important site for Vaishnavas. The temple also houses a historic bell that had once been brought in by the sea from a wrecked Dutch vessel.
  • Sivagiri Mutt– At about 2.5 Km from Varkala town, this mutt or ashram stands as a spiritual place. Commemorating Shree Narayana Guru, a holy saint, this place evolved as a place that promoted equality of humans, irrespective of their religion, caste, and creed.
  • Papanasham Beach– Varkala Beach, also known as the Papanasham Beach is known for its natural beauty as well as spiritual significance. This white sandy beach, lined with towering laterite cliff, imparts a breathtaking vista. For nature lovers, this beach is an ideal spot to watch the sunset against the clear blue sea. The beach, miraculously, also has a natural freshwater spring which is believed to be sacred and bathing here can wash away one’s sins. Hence the name (pap- sins, nasham- to get rid of).
  • Anjengo Fort – Away, but not far from Varkala town, the Anjengo Fort stands as a remnant of Kerala’s rich historical past. From the Portuguese to the Dutch and then the English East India Company, Anjengo remained a place of historical significance in Kerala. It houses an old English fort, dating back to 1700s, which is a now a National Heritage Monument.
  • Varkala Tunnel– Established in 1867, this is a 924 feet long tunnel that runs through the periphery of the town. Built by the Dewan of Travancore, for the East India Company, this 151 canal served as an internal waterway as well as an irrigation source.

To experience

  • The expansive beaches of Varkala offer an array of beach activities like swimming, parasailing, and windsurfing, or simply sunbathing on the golden sands. There are surfing equipment on rent and also the Surf and Soul school which provides surfing training for beginners.
  • Kerala is known for its profound understanding and practice of natural remedies and traditional Ayurveda. And Varkala has are a host of Ayurvedic centers and spas, offering therapeutic treatments.
  • Stay at one of the yoga retreats on the beach which offer yoga therapies and meditation sessions for a relaxing vacation.
  • Get rejuvenated at the natural spring which is rich in sea minerals and clay, and is known for its healing properties.
  • Try snorkeling at the Thiruvambadi Beach or Papanasham beach and explore the underwater.
  • Shop at the beachside shops or from the vendors selling jewelry, locally handcrafted trinkets, and colorful hippie goods.

To eat

Kerala’s cuisine is known for its eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary flavors.

  • Head to Jicky’s Rooms, Oottupura and Hotel Suprabhatham for simple and delectable vegetarian flair.
  • If you are looking for international flavors, then Café Del Mar is the perfect place for Italian and Mexican food.
  • The beachside eateries like Dolphin Bay and Funky Art Café are backpackers’ pit stops and make for great places to hang out on the beach.

Chorao Island – Goa’s Best Kept Secret

Image source: Wikipedia

Adventurous, exciting, memorable, relaxing, rejuvenating- Goa can be anything you want from your ideal vacation. However, besides what you see and what you know about Goa, India’s favorite beach destination has more to it than what meets the eye. And hidden in its greenery and beyond the waves are little secrets of ancient treasure. One such best-kept secret (not so much of a secret anymore) is the Chorao Island. Replete with antiquated churches, colonial homes, and cemeteries, the island is steeped in history and still emanates the old vibes.  

Reaching Chorao Island

Located 5 Km northwards from the capital city of Panjim, the Chorao Island is a historic Portuguese settlement along the Mandovi River. You have to take a ferry from Ribandar to reach the island. The ferries are well equipped to haul a car and other smaller vehicles. The island is also connected to the nearby towns of Mapusa at 10 Km and Vasco at 50 Km. So, if you are traveling from any town or village within Goa, you can hire a car to reach Chorao.

History of the island

The Chorao Island is the largest (in land area) among all the 17 islands of Goa. As much as the island is connected to history, it also has a mythological reference to its existence. It is said that this piece of land emerged from under the water when Yashoda, Krishna’s mother threw away a handful of diamonds into the sea. And hence, the island was named Chudamani (precious stone) in Sanskrit. Later when the Portuguese noblemen landed here, they named it to suit their nobility and lifestyle and called it the Ilha Dos Fidalgos or the Island of Noblemen. Further to suit their linguistic ability, they transformed the name to Chorao.

Exploring Chorao Island

The highlight of Chorao is its widespread bird sanctuary, which is the largest in Goa. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary spreads across 178 hectares of natural land. Surrounded by dense mangroves from the inlets of the sea, this natural reserve is home to numerous species of birds like kingfishers, coots, egrets, pintails and more. You can also spot some random wild animals and Goan crocodiles along the swamps. The best way to tour the sanctuary is on a canoe or a local dingy.  

Take a ride through the countryside. As you walk/drive through the palm-lined roads of the Charao village with its clusters of mud houses and thatched roofs, you could feel as if time has stopped here, centuries ago. The distinctive Portuguese architecture with white-washed churches and the colorful homes with intricate woodwork speak of the island’s rich heritage. And, all this amidst sun-kissed greenery, makes this island look like right out of a picture post-card.

The quaintness of the Chorao Island also extends to its temples and churches. Majority of the churches on this island date back to the 16th century, when Portuguese arrived here and established places of worship for their people. The most prominent one of all Catholic Churches is, St. Bartholomew’s Church. Built in 1569, this church reflects a classic Neo-Roman architectural style with multiple spires and subdued façade, but still emanates an aura of old grandeur.

Another noteworthy place of worship is the ‘Our Lady of Grace church’ with its spotless white façade with a blue bell tower. For those who want to unexplored the unknown, there is also a small village chapel, which is not named but is frequented by the local villagers.

There are also a few ancient Hindu temples on the other side of the island. One of the most famous ones being Saptakoteshwar Temple at Narve.

With a strong influence of the ancient Saraswat Brahmins to Portuguese noblemen, the Chorao Islands still hold onto its heritage and make this tiny settlement a must-visit place in Goa.

This hill station in Kerala will become your new favourite destination

If you thought Kerala’s beauty starts with its golden coasts and ends in the backwaters and plantations, then maybe, there’s one more place you should discover. In a quiet corner of the southeastern part of the state, sandwiched between the mountain ranges of Western Ghats, is a quaint little hill town called Ponmudi. With the rolling hills of dense greenery, waterfalls, streams, and tea-gardens, this Kerala destination is perfect for those who love to spend a few days in the lap of the mountains but stay away from the extreme cold.

Image source: Wikipedia

Ponmudi is situated about 55.2 KM north-east of Trivandrum city. You can fly to Trivandrum and then book a cab to reach Ponmudi. The settlement got its name from a peak of its namesake on the Western Ghats. Also, translated as ‘The Golden Peak’, in the regional language, this mountain remains the highlight for travelers.

Things to do in Ponmudi

Image source: Wikipedia

Mountain climbing

Scale the heights of Agasthayarkoodam- the highest peak of the region at 1868 ft. above the sea. You would, however, need permission from the local Forest Department. You can also trek to the Ponmudi peak from its base at the Golden Valley.

Explore the Golden Valley

The foothills of the Golden Peak is replete with dense tropical forests, plantation, with gurgling streams and rivulets, cutting through the land at every turn. The valley offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The Kallari River is a major water body that runs through the wilderness of Ponmudi and makes for a great adventure. Trek through the nature trails or waddle through the pebbled bed and cool waters of the rivulets. You can also spend a day fishing on the Kallari. The colorful wooden and stone cottages clustered over the grasslands make for exquisite photography subjects.

Spot some wildlife

The Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most notable and popular sightseeing places where most tourist go. This is a part of the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve. Spread across 53 sq. km. this nature reserve is home to numerous wild animals and birds like Asian elephants, sambar deer, Indian leopards, lion-tailed macaques and more. For avian lovers, you will find birds and butterflies aplenty in this sanctuary. Information is that about 59% of Kerala’s bird population is found in Ponmudi. The forest grasslands are breeding grounds for Malabar grey hornbills, Wayanad laughing thrush, broad-tailed grass birds, Nilgiri Pipit, among other species.

Image source: Wikipedia

Visit the Meenmutty Falls

The highest and most popular waterfall, the Meenmutty Falls sits amidst the forested mountains, at about 3 km from the Kallar Main Road. The highlight of these falls lies in its access more than the site of the falls. Trek through the lush greenery and natural ponds to reach the Meenmutty Falls. The rocky embankment at the base with a pool of clear water makes for a perfect respite after a long walk. The best time to visit this place is during or after the monsoon when water levels are high and unravel the real beauty of the waterfalls.

Experience a regatta

Regatta or long boat races are one of the key elements of Kerala’s culture. An age-old tradition, the Aaranmula Boat Race in Ponmudi, is a sight you cannot miss. Every year, in the months of August and September, the boat race takes place on the Pampa River. This water sport forms a part of the Aaranmula Temple festival. Watch the skilled oarsmen as they cut through the water with finesse and beat the competing teams. This is the time when thousands of rural folks visit from the neighboring villages to take part in the celebrations.

Blessed with a temperate climate all year round, and pure natural surroundings, and a vibrant culture, Ponmudi will surely redefine your concept of a typical holiday in Kerala.

Haflong – Experiencing Assam’s best

If there is one place in the evergreen state of Assam, you should add to your ‘must-visit’ list, it’s the hill town Haflong. Otherwise replete with tea gardens, rolling hills and clear lakes, Assam conjures up a picturesque scenario for an ideal holiday. But the state’s only hill station is in the scenic town of Haflong. Rich in natural beauty, culture, and heritage, this hilly hamlet of Assam is thronged by Indian and international travelers, all year round.

Reaching Haflong

The cozy town of Haflong is located in the southern part of the state near Silchar. To reach Haflong, you would have to fly down to Guwahati, the nearest major airport. From there you can easily book a car and drive down NH 27 for about 7 hours, to reach Haflong.

Sitting at 680 meters above the sea-level, the weather of Haflong is quite pleasant throughout the year and makes it conducive to travel anytime. However, the region receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon months and makes it all the more verdant. For those who prefer to travel during the dry season, the best time to visit Haflong is between the months of October and February.

Experiencing Haflong

Haflong Hill Also called the White Ant Hillock, the Haflong Hills offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountains, wrapped in greenery. The hilly terrain makes for a scenic trail to trek through.

You can also opt for paragliding activities that are conducted for tourists around the hills, and enjoy the panoramic views of the mountains and the valleys.

Haflong Lake This is one of the largest natural water bodies of Assam. Located in the heart of the town, the Haflong Lake had gained a lot of popularity among tourists and travelers. The hanging bridge overpass adds an adventure element to the lake area. If you love water sports, then go for a boat ride or other activities on the lake. This water body is also a major breeding ground for fishes and is a recognized angling spot where you can try your hands at fishing.

Maibong At about a distance of 47 Km from Haflong town, you can reach Maibong. A historically significant spot, Maibong still carries ruins of its regal past and attracts history enthusiasts. Maibong was the erstwhile capital of Dimasa Kachari Kingdom, an ethnic community who ruled Assam till the early 1800s, before colonization by the British Empire. The ruins also house an ancient temple that is believed to date back to the 12th century. The Ramchandi Temple is another notable place to visit in Maibong.

Jatinga In the winter months, exotic migratory birds throng to this greener and warmer locale in Jatinga, on the spur of the Haflong Ridge. Jatinga became popular for a strange phenomenon called ‘bird suicide’. There is no scientific explanation for this occurrence, but numerous birds seem to above the mountains and fall dead on the ground, in the monsoon months.

Food of Haflong The cuisine of Assam is known for its subtle, yet distinctive flavors. A unique blend of local herbs and spices, the dishes make a memorable impression on your palate. Hence, if you are in Haflong, you cannot but sample the exotic dishes the state has to offer. Also, being closer to Meghalaya, Manipur, and Mizoram, the cuisine had the influence of its neighboring states. The Tribal Kitchen in Haflong East, and Khasi Hotel in Dibarai are two noteworthy places to explore local cuisine.  

Chavang Kut Every year, in the month of November, the town celebrates its harvest festival called Chavang Kut. Traditionally a celebration of the Chin-Kuki tribe, the festival is a revelry of the new yield and paying homage to nature for its gifts. Watching the locals don their ethnic garb and dancing to the folk tunes is uplifting.

With traces from its British colonial past, blended with the purest form of nature, Haflong is indeed a paradise for those who are looking for a peaceful holiday!

Weekend Getaways from Delhi

Parwanoo

For the city dwellers of Delhi, Chandigarh and neighbouring towns in Haryana and Punjab, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to a quick weekend getaway. Nature’s bounty along the Himalayan foothills of Himachal Pradesh make for abundant options of exploring. Parwanoo is one such surprise package of a place. Read more…

Rishikesh

This beautiful pilgrimage town is a place with many cafes, yoga centres, temples, adventure sports, and has something to offer to everyone. The tall mountains, rivers, and fresh air make Rishikesh a promising destination for many travellers. Read more…

Kheer Ganga

Kheer Ganga situated in the Parvati Valley at an altitude of 3,050 meters is a well-known trek with some stunning visuals along the route. It is believed that Karthikeya, Lord Shiva’s elder son meditated for around 1,000 years in Kheer Ganga. This hidden gem is the last village while trekking to Pin Valley via Pin-Parvati pass. This beautiful place remains covered with snow during winters, so the treks are ideally avoided during this period. Read more…

Deeg

Deeg is a small town situated far away from the hustle and bustle of metro cities. It is a little-known tourist destination located at a distance of 36 km from Bharatpur. Deeg is home to a number of beautiful gardens, palaces, fountains, vibrant bazaars, and invincible landscapes. Just at a few hours’ drive from Delhi, this attractive place is considered to be a part of Lord Krishna’s Parikrama path. Read more…