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 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…

Lesser known hill stations around Ooty

Since the time travelers have been exposed to the beauty of hills, the hilly town of Ooty has always topped the list. The erstwhile colonial settlement evolved into the most sought-after mountainous hamlet in South India. But with time, other settlements evolved and were discovered by the adventurous tourists. Yet, very little is known about these scenic locales around Ooty.

For a comprehensive itinerary, you can reach Ooty first and then head to each of these surrounding hill stations, one spot at a time. It is easily accessible from the major cities of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The distance from Bangalore to Ooty is 278km and takes about six hours to cover. Or, if you are already in Tamil Nadu, you can travel from Coimbatore to Ooty by car, which is barely a three-hours’ drove.

Kotagiri Hills

At barely an hour’s drive from Ooty, you will head into Kotagiri Hills. Located at a distance of about 30 KM from Ooty, this the oldest and largest (in size) hill resort of the Nilgiris. An earlier summer retreat for the British officials, Kotagiri is a treat for the sore eyes. The forested hills and bluffs, flanked by steep cliffs, loom over the habitats below. The town offers offbeat accommodation options from eco-resorts to tree houses and nature camps. Longwood Shola offers great camping and picnic options with trail walks. The solitarily standing Rangaswamy Pillar makes for the great vantage point for the surrounding views. From exploring the tea plantations, forests, to the riveting Elk Falls, the hill town of Kotagiri will indeed be a place to remember.

Yercaud

About five hours from Ooty and four hours from Coimbatore, you would find the ‘Hidden Jewel of South India’. Yercaud, also translated as ‘Lake Forest’, is a picturesque hill station in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu. At 5,000 feet above the sea, the town is a highlight of the Eastern Ghats. For a unique experience of a hill station, explore Yercaud in its natural abundance. The dense forests of teak, sandalwood and silver oaks, are also home to a wide species of animals, birds, and insects that make this a natural sanctuary. Visit the Killiyur Falls or the Botanical Garden. Or spend a relaxing day at the Emerald Lake, surrounded by greenery and boutique resorts. Take a tour of the coffee and spice plantations, orange orchards and other tropical fruit farms, and refresh your senses with the fruity and spicy aromas. If you are traveling in May, then don’t miss the Yercaud Summer Festival, celebrated for seven days with a flower show, village fair, and boat races.

Coonoor

At roughly an hour’s drive from the town of Ooty, you can reach Coonoor. Also called the Darjeeling of Nilgiris, for its exquisite view of the hills, Coonoor is the second largest hill towns of Tamil Nadu. Yet, untouched by the bandwagon of commercial tourism. Though a part of Tamil Nadu, the town of Coonoor has a very distinct culture of its own. This historic town is quirky and quaint in its own way with traces of colonization, natural trails, mountainous weather, the lush tea plantations and hospitable locals. From its 100 years old tradition of food, art, and culture, blended with the contemporary lifestyle, Coonoor is indeed an alluring hill station that needs to be explored and discovered.

Ketty Valley

Just outside Ooty town, at a distance of about 4 KM, you will discover the Switzerland of Nilgiris, with terraced landscapes, and lush green grasslands. Ketty Valley is a paradise for nature lovers and photographers. Unlike many other hill stations, Ketty Valley is relatively quiet and away from the touristy activities, which makes this is a truly relaxing place. Take a ride on the Ketty Valley train through the dense deciduous forests and verdant valleys. If you’re heading from Bangalore to Ooty by car, we recommend stopping at Ketty first.

This summer, definitely head to Ooty, if you must, but don’t forget to visit these exotic locations, hidden from the populist views but absolutely worth exploring.

A spiritual getaway to Dwarka

The holy city Dwarka is believed to be the first capital of the Gujarat state. Perched on the western shore of the Okhamandal Peninsula, on the banks of the Gomti River, Dwarka has been a religious haven for the faithful.

The name Dwarka is literally translated as ‘the gateway to heaven’. And, its significance lies in it being one of the ‘Char Dham’ or religious sites for Hindu devotees. It is believed, that if you visit the Char Dham, within your lifetime, you will attain Moksha. According to mythology, the town of Dwarka is identified as the ancient kingdom of Lord Krishna, who migrated from Mathura after killing Kansa, his uncle.

Having a powerful mythological and historical connection, the town of Dwarka developed as a major pilgrimage destination for Hindus. Every year, thousands of devotees of Krishna, throng to this holy seat from all over the world.

Reaching Dwarka

The town of Dwarka is well connected to major cities of Gujarat and other parts of Western India by railways and roadways. You can fly to Jamnagar Airport, which is about 45 KM away. From there you can opt for buses, taxis and private cars to commute to Dwarka. Alternatively, you can also book an Ahmedabad car rental if you’re looking to explore other parts of Gujarat.

To see

Dwarkadhish Temple

This shrine is the cornerstone destination of Dwarka. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, this temple is said to be built about 2500 years ago. The Chalukya style architecture is flanked by a grand, five-storied main shrine. You would be marveled at the magnificence of the black stone idol of Krishna that resides within the shrine. There are other shrines, dedicated to acquaintances of Krishna, like that of Subhadra, Balaram, Vasudeva, Rukmini, and Revathy.

The best time to experience the divine energy of this temple is during Janmashtami. The birth festival is Krishna is heartily celebrated here.   

Nageshwara Jyotirlinga Temple

Be in absolute awe of this one of the 12 famous ‘self-existent’ temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the origin of the Nageshwara Jyotirlinga temple is still a mystery to this date. The temple enshrines a giant and artistic statue of Shiva, which draws visitors and pilgrims from far and wide. Additionally, the aesthetic appeal of the temple’s architecture will leave you mesmerized. The best time to visit this holy site is during Mahashivratri, an auspicious day to celebrate the greatness of Shiva.

Beyt Island

About 30 Km from the main town, you will land at Beyt Dwarka- a small island on the mouth of Gulf of Kutchh. This island was believed to be the main port for this region. The island is dotted with ancient temples, white sand beach, and coral reefs, which lend to its charm. Among temples, this holy site houses the Hanuman Dandi Temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman and his don, Makaradhwaja. There are other shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Devi.

Apart from pilgrimage, Beyt Island is famous for water sports and sea-adventures.

Dwarka Beach

Lining the sacred town, the rocky Dwarka beach touches the Arabian Sea. For tired travelers and fulfilled pilgrims, the beach makes for a quiet and serene place to relax. Also perfect to enjoy the play of colors of the evening sky, the sunset on the Dwarka beach is a mesmerizing sight.

Lighthouse

Perched on the Dwarka Peninsula, there is an old lighthouse at the Dwarka Point. Enjoy a panoramic view of the entire city from this 40 feet high tower.

Whether you are a believer or not, a visit to Dwarka can always be eye-opening. Even if you’re looking to explore the coast of Gujarat, you can book a taxi service in Rajkot and head here. While the faithful seek assurance and higher consciousness, others see the architectural grandeur and the scenic beauty of this locale. Either way, this is a fulfilling and inspiring destination for all.

A historical account of the city of Agra

A city with a heritage as rich as its rulers, a city that is synonymous with royalty is a story in itself. That, folks, is Agra for you. But one needs an eye to read between the cracks of walls and stones and dig for its stories.

Road to history

Agra is well connected and easily accessible from Delhi. You can travel from Delhi to Agra by car, which takes about 4 hours.

Agra anecdotes

The capital of Delhi and then the Mughal Empire, the city of Agra found its existence in 1504, when Sultan Sikander Lodhi established his reign on this town, on the banks of Yamuna. Eventually, in the Battle of Panipat, in 1526, Mughal emperor, Babur took over the state and ruled his kingdom from Agra. During his rule and under his patronage, Agra saw its golden years with grand architecture, and skillful artistry, which would become benchmarks for Indian art in the years to come. His first project was a public landscaped garden on the banks of Yamuna- or what we know as Aram Bagh.

Post Babur, such creative initiative skipped a generation, until Akbar took the onus of reinstating the prestige of the Mughal Empire in Agra, with his artistic vision and patronage. During his rule, Akbar laid the foundation of what is Agra Fort today. He also extended the influence beyond the city and built Fatehpur Sikri, with palatial monuments and grand constructions.

The empire capital was bejeweled with exquisite architecture, featuring fine stone carvings, marble works, and delicate ornamentation. The highlight of Agra’s history was when Shah Jahan gifted the city its most apprized and cherished monument – the Taj Mahal. With this marvel in marble, Agra became the most prized city, not only for the empire but for the entire country.  

The five generations of the Mughal Badshahs, marked the golden era of Agra’s history with contribution and benefaction from each of its ruler, adding to the rich heritage of the capital. Over the years, people from all over the world have come to experience the grandeur and magnificence of Agra’s remarkable past. Thus, making it one of the most visited historical city in the world.

Monumental monuments

Today, the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Here’s a quick roundup of the most significant constructions of the Mughal Era, the traces of which still linger in the 21st century.

Taj Mahal

There are no words that can describe this monumental mausoleum of love. 22 years and 20000 workers contributed to this portrayal of pride and unparalleled artistry with Persian, Turkish and Indian influence. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal leaves its visitors spellbound every time.

Fatehpur Sikri

About 37Km from the city of Agra sits the historic, religious and legendary city of Fatehpur Sikri. It’s foundation dates back to 16th century when Akbar built this city in honor of the revered Saint Salim Chisthi. Legends are that Akbar sought the saint’s blessings in pursuit of heirs and in turn, was gifted with three sons. The city was built as a sign of gratitude of the benevolent emperor.

Agra Fort

Another edifice of grandeur, built under Emperor Akbar’s patronage, the Agra Fort stands tall since 1565 as a witness to 500 years of India’s modern history. Made with red sandstone and white marble, this big crimson structure overlooking the Yamuna River, is a sight you cannot miss, especially, in the golden hues of the twilight sky.

As far as history is concerned, Agra still holds its fort of pride, legacy, and heritage. Though its golden era is a matter of past, it has left traces in its air, which you can sense in every corner of this city. For a comfort, convenience, and safety, you can rent a chauffeur-driven car with Savaari Car Rentals and make your journey of 233 Km rather enjoyable.

The Best Goa Tour Itinerary For 2018

Goa, more than just a travel location, an experience to be witnessed

A supremely elegant location for experiencing a richly exotic time with your loved ones and friends, Goa, is popularly known as the land of sun, sand and sea. It holds within itself a treasure trove of awesomeness. From beaches to crystal clear blue skies over sparkling seas, this is one of the most majestic destinations for everyone. Be it a college-going student or a newlywed couple, Goa always amazes everyone.

We get to explore the magical possibilities mother nature holds within her lap here. A perfect location for witnessing some of the best varieties of food, particularly seafood, Goa offers a large number of opportunities to explore a range of spices and flavours of food. But, it is always recommended to dig a little deeper and try to know more about this amazing place. Otherwise you may get to lose the view of some of the lesser known but elegant places that should have been included in your bucket list. Hiring a cab in Goa while travelling through the richly profound ecosystem makes you realize the level of comfort the atmosphere of Goa offers.

The public modes of travel are also available, but don’t offer the luxury and liberty of visiting places that are off the chart of the most popular places to visit in Goa. This simply leads to the loss of opportunities that let us indulge into the rich ecosystem of this place. A perfect example of this case can be seen while visiting the Kakolem Beach. Also known as Tiger Beach, this is one of the most picturesque beaches of Goa and you would surely be needing your own vehicle or hire a local cab to reach this place. Another significant location in Goa is Arvalem Falls, which is located in the Northern part of Goa through which milky water ascends. The Rudreshwar Temple, located near the Arvalem Falls is another picturesque location worth looking forward to. One of the best things about travelling here is the availability of the car rental service in Goa. Local car rental options are very flexible and you can easily customize your itinerary according to your own wish.

 

A Closer Look At The Underrated Gems Of Goa

There are a number of magnificent locations in Goa that are lesser known, but offer a splendid experience. Availability of local car rentals makes it easier to explore the grandeur of all these underrated but awesome terrains. Travelling here is quite economical and it can be easily understood from the fact that Goa taxi rates are nominal and don’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Goa is well known for some of the most beautiful beaches across the globe, but one more thing that easily catches the eyes of the visitors is the traditional cultural heritage of the place. Cabo De Pama is one such heritage. The essence of this old fort lies in the stillness and the complete solitude it offers to the visitors through its magnificent marvels. You can quietly sit here and just look at the horizons beyond the blue waters of the Cabo De Pama Beach.

This is an amazing location for lovers of art and architecture. The age-old Portuguese ruins and old cannons can still be seen here. Another fort widely known for its mesmerizing architecture is Fort Tiracol. One unique feature of this fort, apart from its unmatched beauty is the amazing way in which 7 rooms have been constructed inside it, each named after a day of the week. Located off a cliff, the fort gives a breathtaking view of the mighty Indian Ocean. The fort which is now converted into a hotel provides an experience of a lifetime with its classy elegance and luxurious facilities.

For the lovers of nature, particularly wildlife, Mollem National Park is the place to be. Here you can easily spot Leopards, Sloth Bears and Gaurs, amongst the other enormous variety of flora and fauna. Well known for its hiking and trekking trails, this place is a vividly popular destination among the adventure seekers. And if you used to be a kid who ran after the butterflies, Butterfly Conservatory of Goa is the perfect destination for your dreams to come true. Here you can get a glimpse of more than 130 species of butterflies along with numerous amazing flora and fauna. Carambolim Lake, one of the most exotic freshwater lakes located along the paddy fields in the interior Goa, is a home to lots of migratory ducks, jacanas, moorhens, harriers, pipits, wagtails and kingfishers.

 

Hire A Cab In Goa, And Travel With Comfort As You Don’t Have To Worry About Your Commute.

It has always been a widely discussed topic as well as a source of dilemma among the travellers as to whether they should visit North or South Goa first. The answer to this question is non-specific, but diving deeper and taking an insight of the weather conditions and the travelling destinations of both the places can go a long way in helping the people decide which option suits their comfort level. The car rental services in Goa are economical and the taxi fare is nominal. You can easily use them to reach your specified destination. Talking exclusively about the climate, both parts of Goa carry a tropical weather, but the Southern part of Goa is less humid than its Northern counterpart. Hence, in terms of weather, South Goa definitely has an advantage over North Goa.

Talking about the beaches, the northern beaches including the Baga Beach, Anjuna Beach, Calangute Beach and Vagator Beach are full of life and are well known for their jazzy parties, adventurous water sports and mouth-watering seafood. One can never get over the charm of these beaches after visiting even once. The beaches are usually crowded throughout the tourism season. On the contrary, if you wish to be surrounded by peace, the southern beaches namely Palolem Beach, Majorda Beach and Butterfly Beach are just the ideal spots for you for you.

Visiting South Goa allows you to experience incredible tranquility and view the world with a new perspective. Strolling through the sparkling sands lets you immerse yourself in your own true self and think about the life you are leading. Speaking specifically about the architecture, Goa offers equally mesmerizing architecture in both parts. In the north, Church of Saint Antony’s and Church of Saint Lawrence are vividly popular, while in Southern Goa, we can encounter the marvels of Our Lady of Hope Church, Rachel Seminary and Velim Church. The level of detailing in both parts is equally fabulous even when the southern architecture is a bit newer than its northern counterpart. Goa is famous for its culturally exotic lifestyle hubs, particularly the markets. While the North Goa market is famous for its flea markets, South Goa is known for an exclusive collection of valuable items.

 

Reaching The Most Celebrated Travel Destination Of India

Goa is easily accessible from every corner of India as well as numerous International locations. Dabolim Airport is nearest to the state capital Panaji and is situated at a distance of 26 km from there. This Airport is well connected to the rest of India with daily flights from Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Goa Airport to Calangute taxi fare is genuine and is considered as the best option for arriving at Calangute from Goa Airport. The railway stations connecting Goa with the rest of India are situated in Madgaon and Vasco Da Gama.

The government undertakings that regulate bus services such as KSRTC, MSRTC and KTC are available on a regular basis and connect you with Madgaon and Panaji. A number of cabs are available from different locations and it is easily viable to hire a cab here in order to reach your destination. A number of private bus agencies such as Neeta Tour and Travels, Paulo Travels and Naik Tours and Travels offer the facility of daily bus services from all the major states. Taxi rates of Goa can be searched online and further information regarding them can be collected from local tourist offices. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the beauty of this place and experience every minute is to hire a cab and take a stop wherever you feel like. Every destination you arrive at offers a picturesque view through the magical vistas of sun, sand and seas.

Explore Offbeat Destinations in India: Vagamon

Vagamon or Wagamon is a sleepy little hill town in the south-east corner of Kerala. Yet another idyllic locale in God’s own country, Vagamon partly occupies the Kottayam district and partly the Idukki district of the state. Not more than 1100 meters above sea-level, you would find this cozy hamlet to be your perfect place of serenity, far from the maddening crowd of cities. Perched on the hills of the border of two major districts and blessed with natural wonders, Vagamon offers great opportunities for eco-tourism. Head to Vagamon this summer – book a Cochin taxi service to travel there with ease.

You would be thankful to find that this hill town is still untainted by the ill-effects of commercialization, making this place retain its originality.

Reaching Vagamon

Vagamon is situated about 100km from Cochin, which is also the nearest airport. So you can take a flight if traveling from any major city. From there you can hire a cab or rent a car till Vagamon and travel down the hill highway. It is a fulfilling experience with endless views of the hills and vales and the winding roads cutting through the mountains and dense forests. Alternatively, you can also take the train till Kuttikanam at 22km or Palai at 33km.

Exploring Vagamon

The rolling hills enveloped under blankets of greenery, the steep slopes, the velvet countryside makes for a much-needed relaxing holiday with your friends, family or special someone.

Wake up to the view of the morning mist veiling the valleys – a picture perfect setting that can bring you instant joy. The lush valleys, expansive meadows dotted with wildflowers, dense pine forests and waterfalls are indeed bliss for all your senses. Such a scenic landscape comes with abundant options to explore and experience this homestead in its own way.

You can choose from any of the adventure activities like trekking, paragliding, mountaineering and rock climbing. Did you know that Vagamon is a paragliding hub for flyers? Paragliders from different parts of India and abroad join the International Paragliding Festival which is held in the months of January and February every year.

Other recommendations in Vagamon

Vagamon and its three hills- Thangal, Murugan, and Kurisumala reflect complete religious harmony, with Hindu, Muslim, and Christians- all cohabiting in the same place.

The Kurisumala Ashram is a spiritual center but also holds ample natural beauty. If you are so inclined, you can visit this abode of peace. Otherwise, the area is surrounded by vast tea-estates and natural lakes.

Head to the Murugan Hill near the Thangal Para. A temple dedicated to Lord Murugan sits atop the hills and enshrines an old stone carving.

 

Walk through the Vagamon Meadows. These undulating hills and sloping landscapes engulf a lake, which renders a painting like a scene. For photographers, writers, and other creative souls, this location is indeed inspiring.

Explore the pine forests. This is where lofty pine trees stand in rows and make this dense forest eerily beautiful.

You can also visit the Mooppanpara canyon, a V-shaped canyon that serves as a viewing point for the surrounding. A short trek through the hills and forests will take you to the summit.  It is here that you can get a stunning panoramic view of the town below.

There’s also the Ulipponi Wildlife Sanctuary. Though known as a natural habitat for flora and fauna, this location of Vagamon works as a great picnic spot or a day trip to just absorb nature. You can also take a boat ride on the lake located in the sanctuary. There are a lot of exotic flowers and orchids that grow in the wild and add vibrancy to the place.

Laid back and sleepy, yet uplifting with nature’s bounty, the scenic town of Vagamon needs to be explored more. After all, nature gives us these wonders only to cherish, isn’t it? Book a taxi service in Trivandrum and head out to Vagamon for a perfect idyllic holiday.

A food Trail in Shimla

Beyond the scenic landscape, cool alpine weather and line of pine forests, there’s a side to Shimla which is explored but not talked about. Being the largest city in Himachal, Shimla has attracted people from all cultures and regions of India and abroad.

A melting pot of various Indian and international cuisines, Shimla brings you a wide array of delectable delicacies to the table, literally! From simple roadside shacks, legendary cafes to fine dining the ‘queen of hills’ has something for every food lover. But as they say, if you really want to know a place, you must eat with and like the locals. Book a Chandigarh to Shimla taxi and embark on this culinary trail to sample the best of Shimla’s local food.

Let’s start with the morning chowdown at Krishna Bakers. The oldest bakery of town, Krishna bakers lays down freshly baked bread and pastries of all kinds. As is the case with most old bakeries of hill stations, Krishna’s menu has never changed over the years. And so has their recipes. The highlight of this place is the fresh-off-the-oven, tender chicken bun.

Goofa & Ashiana: For a cozy dinner with the view of the hills, head to the Goofa & Ashiana. Quite a quirky name, this place offers two dining areas- the basement seating (Goofa) and the garden seating (Ashiana). Maintained by the tourism department, this restaurant is a family favorite and is quite on the fancy side.

Indian Coffee House: Wash down your carbs with a cup of hot Indian filter coffee. One of the oldest coffee houses in India, the Indian Coffee House is also a popular stop for strawberry jelly and fresh cream.

Embassy Ice Cream: All meals must end on a sweet note. And as they say, there’s always room for dessert. And for desserts, there’s nothing better than Embassy Ice Cream. The rainbow-colored façade of this shop quite matches with its colorful recipes. Treat yourself with a hearty serving of sundae loaded with fresh fruits, jellies, and candies. Or a simple scoop of house-made ice cream, topped with fancy goodies can make your day!

Alfa: For the fancy foodies, Alfa does not look inviting. But once you leave your hang-ups and focus only on their specialties, you would forget where you are and why you are there. Don’t forget to try their kheema samosas, sinfully greasy but heavenly, house burgers and melting sundaes.

Sita Ram and Sons: Ever had a Chhole Bhature with a twist? Sita Ram and Sons does just that to your favorite Punjabi dish. Tender and cottony soft bhature, which are more like thick puris, served with a handsome portion of slightly sweetened chhole- every reason for you to gorge on.

Bihari Lal Sharma Chathouse: Yes, the mention of cool and crunchy chat in a cold hill station might not sound very inviting. But Shimla sees quite a harsh summer for its location. And that’s the time, you would love to visit Bihari Lal Sharma. Their creatively made fruit chat and tangy panipuris are sure to beat the heat and leave a zing to your taste buds.

Aunty’s Kitchen: Though small in number, the town has quite a Chinese-Tibetan influence. The heritage Chinese restaurants are living examples of their coexistence. One such place is Aunty’s Kitchen. Running as a family-owned eatery since 1975, this place will leave you spoilt for choice of your favorite Chinese delicacy. Their 25 varieties of soups to choose from, we can bet you will have a long dinner here.

Beekay: Yet another bakery cum café that smells of old world charm. Sample their salami burgers and you are sure to come back for more.

Tibetan Food Corner: Known for kurkeys, the traditional Tibetan dish, this eatery is your go-to place for authentic Tibetan fare. Believe it or not, this food joint is the only Tibetan restaurant serving kurkeys in the country!

If you’re planning on visiting Shimla this summer, be sure to book convenient Delhi to Shimla cabs so you can head to each of these amazing eateries that picturesque hill station has to offer.

Parwanoo – A paradise undiscovered

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.

Image source: Wikipedia

How to reach Parwanoo

Bordering the Panchkula district of Haryana, Parwanoo is located at 35km from Chandigarh and is easily accessible from Amritsar, Kalka, Pinjore, and Shimla. For a more exciting journey, you can take the Kalka-Shimla heritage railroad. This is one of the most scenic routes in this region, cutting through the mountains via tunnels, crossing cliffs and around the winding slopes. The nearest station, at Taksal, is about 4km away from the town center. If there’s a road trip on your mind, the best way to get to Parwanoo is to book a taxi service in Chandigarh.

Things to do in Parwanoo

Apart from its economic recognition, being on the Shivalik Range, Parwanoo holds the quintessential Himalayan beauty. The landscape remains snow-clad most of the year, which allows you a cooler escape from the sultry city summers.

Ever since travelers started exploring the mountains, lakes and the natural wonders of Parwanoo, this quiet hamlet opened up to discovery and exploration.

A quick trip to Parwanoo calls for these touristy activities:

Ride over the Timber Trail

Image source: Wikipedia

When in the mountains, a view from the top gives you a refreshing perspective. A cable car ride across the Timber Tail gives you a 360-degree view of the entire Shivalik range. But just to be cautious, this activity is not for the faint-hearted. For a nominal price, this 1.8km ride lasts for about 10 minutes and takes you to the top of the Timber Trail at the resort of its namesake.

Enjoy the magnificence of the Kaushalya Valley, from a height of 5,000 ft above the sea level. A trip to Parwanoo would be incomplete without this scenic cable car ride and photographing the birds’- eye view of the landscape.

Discover Dagshai

About 28 KM from Parwanoo, lies the old settlement of Dagshai. Established by the East India Company in 1847, this timeworn cantonment town, still displays traces of its colonial past. The highlight of this town is the Dagshai Church, an ancient church built under the British rule. The colonial architecture reflecting sheer brilliance adorns the church’s façade and interiors.

The old-world charm of its construction never fails to enthrall the tourists and admirers of ancient art. Though there are no accommodation options here, Dagshai makes for a good day trip and picnic destination.

Visit the fruit orchards

If you are anywhere in Himachal, you will not be spared from the intoxicating aromas of apples, plums, and peaches. And probably because the economy of Parwanoo was based on fruit-based industries, the orchards became a fun-filled destination for tourists. The orchard tours will be a treat to your eyes as well as to your taste-buds. The array of reds, orange, crimson and green are indeed like a page out of a picture book. Indulge yourself in samples of fruit jellies, jams, pickles and other goodies to mark a memorable end to your orchard exploration.

Explore the Gorkha Fort

For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Gorkha Fort would be of great interest. About 16 KM away from Parwanoo, the Gorkha Fort sits on a hill in the village of Subathu. It was established by the Gurkha army chief Amar Singh Thapa to fight the British troops, this fort is a testament of strength and power. There is a museum associated with the fort, preserving exhibits dating back to 1815.

Once a somnolent little settlement, this hamlet has grown to become a trending destination for Himachal Tourists and still needs to be explored. If you’re exploring hill stations around Delhi or Chandigarh, we highly recommend adding Parwanoo to your list. Book a Shimla taxi service to get to Parwanoo and explore some of the other quaint towns and hill stations on offer in Himachal Pradesh.