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.

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.

Dawki – A Divine Discovery

India is a land of wonders indeed. They say, the country has so much to behold, discover and explore, one lifetime seems insufficient. All you need to ask yourself- where do I want to go next? And, you will find it all here. But the ones who travel in a predetermined way would never discover the miracles that are there in the nooks and crannies of this subcontinent.

Hidden away in the thickets of North East, are numerous such treasures, waiting to be unraveled by the hungry traveler. Have you ever heard of Dawki? If you haven’t, then, this might inspire you to book a car rental in Guwahati and explore this gem of Meghalaya.

A gem of North East

Dawki, Duki or Dauki is a picturesque town in the district of West Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya. Snuggled between the borders of India and Bangladesh, Dawki developed as a trading town for the two countries. But as explorers started discovering the real charm of the place, it soon became open to tourism and started welcoming travelers from far and wide to experience the wonders of nature. The lush greenery, the play of green and blue in the rivers, the crystal clear streams, and the serenity of the surroundings make this place a worthwhile retreat.

Image source: Wikipedia

Whether you want to do an introspective solo trip, a romantic getaway in nature or a fun-filled break with friends and family, Dawki makes for the perfect setting. But for each kind of trip, you must figure out the right time. Like for solo trips or family vacations, the months of January, February, June, and July are good. But, for couples, the best time is after the festivals- between September and November are better with the weather being more favorable.

Reaching there

Image source: Wikipedia

Because of its geographical location, reaching the town of Dawki could be a little challenging, especially if you are expecting a cakewalk travel. Dawki is about 200km from Guwahati, a major airport and railway head in the vicinity. You can either fly to Guwahati or take a train. From there, you can book Guwahati to Shillong cabs or take the taxi directly till Dawki. For a more exciting journey, take the helicopter ride from Shillong. However, for the roadrunners, a cab ride through the hills, gorges and dense forests can be more fulfilling.

Exploring Dawki

Once you are here, you would just want to sit and stare into the magnificence of nature- the endless horizon, where the blue rivers meet, flanked by foliage in all shades of green.

The highlight of Dawki is the Umngot River, which is like a floating mirror. The green water of this mountain fed water-body is so clear that you can actually see the riverbed. This river forms the natural boundary between Ri Pnar/ Jaintia Hills and the Hima Khyrim of Khasi Hills. The water-body also acts as the gateway to the major export/import point in Bangladesh.

The Umngot River is a popular venue for the Annual Boat Race that happens every March (till April). There’s a suspension bridge above the river, built by the British officials in 1932, which you can cross on foot for some added thrill.

You could consider camping on the river banks with guided tour groups. Or, you could easily go kayaking, snorkeling, and boating on the Umngot River. There are Zipline rides as well.

Local Food

The cuisine of North East is unique and out-of-the-box in its own way. Though there aren’t many restaurants and eateries in Dawki, you can still head to the local ‘dhabas’ and try the traditional recipes. Jadoh, Dohneiihong, Makham-Bitchi and Jhur Sideh, are some of the hard to pronounce but lip-smacking dishes of Meghalaya.

Surreal yet fascinating, charming yet mysterious, Dawki unfolds itself differently to each traveler. And the place has the magic of staying in your memories for years to come.

Explore the gorgeous Loktak Lake

As a traveler, you would often hear about the mountains, deserts, beaches and the megacities of India. But little does one know about the hidden jewels of our country, tucked away in its north-east corner. Nestled in the arms of Manipur, is one such gem of nature- the gorgeous Loktak Lake, located near Moirang. It is the largest freshwater lake in entire North East India and stretches across 980 sq. km. of the catchment area.

Image source: Wikipedia

The Loktak or the ‘end of stream’ (Lok- stream, tak- end), this lake is a natural wonder in itself, with floating islands or locally called ‘phumdis’ all across its surface. These islands have their own mass of vegetation, flora, fauna, and other organic matter, which makes for a mini eco-system within the lake. Wonder why it’s famous? Because the largest island of 40 sq. km. houses the Keibul Lamjao National Park which is the only floating national park in the world. Now, isn’t that something you would want to witness?

Getting There

If you are expecting a hop, skip and jump kind of travel to Loktak Lake, then you’d be disappointed. However, you can easily reach the Lake from Imphal. You can either catch a flight till Imphal, from major destinations across the country or take a train to Dimapur, which is about 215Km from Imphal. From there, you can alight a local bus to Moirang. The rest of the way, you can book taxi, trek, or even hitch-hike.

Exploring the Loktak Lake

Image source: Wikipedia

Whether you like to explore the wildlife or photograph the magnificence of nature, Loktak Lake has something for everyone. Even if you want to simply row around the islands and absorb the lush greenery, then there’s nothing more serene and peaceful than this vast expanse of water.

You cannot help but get overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the entire scenario. The labyrinth of waterways through islands, crystal clear water, and the verdant surrounding, are sure to take your breath away. And if you can manage to view the sunset, when the entire lake area is soaked in a crimson hue, you would indeed feel as if you are on another planet.

Loktak Lake Fishing

Being a freshwater patch and the largest so of the region, the Loktak Lake serves as a livelihood for the local fishing community. The lake yields about 1500 tons of local fishes every year, which has led to the development of fishing wharfs and villages over the islands. On any given day, join these fishermen and you could watch them keenly laying out their nets and patiently waiting for the catch. If that intrigues you, try your hands at fishing for a first-hand experience.

Wildlife on the Lake

Image source: Wikipedia

Parts of the Loktak lake area are under paddy cultivation, while some of it is inhabited and the rest is covered in dense forests, marshy lands, and organic wastelands. The National Park including the rest of the lake area is rich in biodiversity- with 230 species of aquatic plants, more than 100 species of exotic birds and 425 species of animals.

Get a chance to see some of the rare and endangered species, living in the reserve like Indian pythons, Sambar and barking deer, the Sangai or brown-antlered deer, among others. For bird lovers, you might be lucky to spot the migratory waterfowl, dabbling and diving ducks, or even the wide variety of hornbills. Other species of wild animals like the rhesus monkeys, hoolock gibbons, macaques and marbled cats, also have their homes in the lake’s wilderness.

As our national tourism campaign rightly says, North East India is indeed a paradise undiscovered. And the Loktak Lake is a classic example. On your next vacation, book a cab with Savaari Car Rentals and put this gorgeous beauty of nature on your travel list!

A Historical Exploration of Pachmarhi

Panchmarhi, is a hill station in Madhya Pradesh. Standing at an elevation of 1067m above the sea-level, amidst the Satpura mountain range, Panchmarhi is the only hill station of Central India. It is often fondly called the ‘Queen of Satpuras’, owing to its sheer natural beauty with waterfalls, rugged landscape and dense forest cover. The highest point on the mountains is Dhupgarh, at 1352meters. The entire hill town and its natural resources collectively form the Panchmarhi Biosphere Reserve. If you’re planning a trip to Pachmarhi some time soon, we recommend booking Bhopal to Pachmarhi cabs.

Image source: Wikipedia

History of Panchmari

If you are a history enthusiast, the existence and development of Panchmari would be of intrigue.

Etymology

Local story has it, that the Pandavas were residing in the forests of this region, in the thirteenth year of their exile. Eventually, they built the caves to make it a safe abode. Thus, the name got derived from Panch- five and Marchi- caves.

Indian mythology

Though mythological, the story of Panchmarchi still holds true, with all the five caves standing atop a hill and have attracted visitors for generations. The beauty of the caves lies in its structure and is now a protected place. All the five caves were cut out of a single sandstone and grouped around. The location of the caves makes for a great location to get a clear view of the mountains and valleys below.

From an archeological standpoint, these caves are said be of the Mesolithic era. An excavation in 1935 revealed painting on the walls of the caves. The motifs and symbols depicting the lives of hunters and gatherers speaks of ancient humans of that time, settled in this region.

Image source: Wikipedia

Another legend has it – that the plateau area of Panchmari was a huge lake guarded by a giant serpent who terrorized the pilgrims visiting the sacred shrines of the Mahadeo Hills in the area. This angered Lord Shiva who threw his trident on the serpent and stuck him in a canyon, which took the shape of a pot. However, as a side effect, the wrath of Shiva dried up the lake and it became a plateau, which today is Panchmari. As surprising as it may sound, modern day botanists claim that any flora only exists around water bodies in this area.

Panchmari and its natural reserve also holds significance in Buddhist mythology. It is said that in the 1st century AD, this hill town became a shelter for Buddhist monks.

The East India connection

Because of its forest cover and discreet location, the British officials chose Panchmarhi to build a sanitarium. In 1870, under the supervision and patronage of Sir Richard Temple, the first building of the area-the Bison Lodge was built. The building became a military center after few years. Today, the site is a military museum, which attracts tourists and visitors from all over.

This hill-enveloped plateau was said to be precious to the British, because of its natural beauty and serenity. Hence, they never allowed urbanization or commercial development of the land and restricted construction of tall buildings. That is why, even today, Panchmarhi remains a quiet, and quaint little hill town in the heart of Madhya Pradesh.


How to reach

Panchmarhi is almost centrally located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Thus, it makes for convenient access for tourists from Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and neighboring cities. You can reach Panchmarhi by bus from any of these cities. It takes 5-6 hours if you book a Bhopal taxi and about 10-11 hours from Indore to reach this hill station. Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) run AC buses at regular intervals and are the most popular bus-line for this region. You can also opt for a train route to Panchmarchi. There is not railway station in the town and the nearest railhead is at Pipariya, about 47 Km from Panchmarhi.

As much as this hilly plateau is known for its historic connection, there are quite a few natural wonders to be found here. From a host of waterfalls to lakes, ravines and wildlife sanctuaries, Panchmari stays to be the most sought-after natural retreat of the heart of India.

The Magical Valley of Flowers

Imagine yourself in the middle of an endless expanse of lush green meadows, covered in vibrant flora, overlooking snow-capped mountains that touch the sky. No, it’s not a fairy tale scene and you are not dreaming. You could be there, right at this moment.

Welcome to India’s very own wonderland at the Valley of Flowers National Park in Uttarakhand. The valley region is known for its myriad species of flora amidst verdant meadows, stretching across 87.5 sq. km. This exotic floral pasture was discovered by the British officials in the 1930s and later declared as a ‘National Park’ in 1982. Today, the Valley of Flowers National Park complements the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and is a popular World Heritage Site. If you’re planning a trip to the valley, book Dehradun cabs for a comfortable journey.

Image source: Wikipedia

Getting There

The valley is a part of the Garhwal region and lies 20km north-west of the Nanda Devi National Park. Perched at 3,658 meters above the sea level, this exotic locale is situated in the district of Chamoli, about 300Kms north of Rishikesh, near Badrinath. You can rent a car in Dehradun to get to the Valley of Flowers.

Exploring the Valley

Image source: Wikipedia

Since the valley is remotely located, you can only drive till Govindghat and there onwards, trek through the wilderness, to reach the national park.

Trekking through the Valley of Flowers is the best way to enjoy its magnificence. Explore the Himalayan flora and immerse yourself in the abundance of nature’s beauty, as you tread the natural trails, feel the crisp mountain air and smell the perfumed wild-flowers.

There are trekking expeditions organized by local groups and tourist guides, which you can sign up for online or at the nearest towns of Joshimath, Dehradun or Haridwar. If you’re planning to visit the valley after your Char Dham yatra, you can easily book a Haridwar taxi and go on a trekking expedition here. The trek continues for about 17Kms, through the village of Ghangaria, and then enters the valley region through rose bushes and strawberry shrubs on either side. Trekking through the Valley of Flowers requires a permit from the Forest Department, at Ghangaria.

Best time to visit

Image source: Wikipedia

The best time to visit the Valley of Flowers is between the months of June and August when the lap of the Himalayas opens up in its full glory. In June, as the Himalayan glaciers start melting, you can explore the valley, but you would find most areas still frosty, which is yet another beauty. The peak season is from July to mid-August when the flowers are in full bloom. Thereafter, the hills and valleys assume a warm, golden hue of autumn and the greenery transforms into a golden glow, with the snow gradually engulfing the mountains. For the photography enthusiast, any time of these three months is equally delightful.

The parks are open to the public from 7am to 2pm, post which, it is recommended that you start heading back, lest you get lost in the hills or encounter the wild. There’s a nominal entry fee which allows you to roam across anywhere within the valley, with professional guide and assistance, of course.

Flora & Fauna

This colorful paradise is home to myriad kinds of alpine flowers and other endemic flora, that you would not have ever seen anywhere in India. Flowers like Epilobiums (locally called River Beauty), Golden and Cobra Lilies, Geraniums, Rhododendrons, Himalayan Bellflowers, Blue Poppy, East Himalayan Fritillary, Vajradanti and similar, cover the vales in a chromatic blanket.

Besides the picturesque greenery, the Valley of Flowers National Park is also home to unique wild animals. If the wild side of nature attracts you, then don’t miss out on a wildlife adventure. Though less in number, most of the species found here are rare and endangered and include the Himalayan black bear, red fox, Himalayan musk deer, blue sheep, snow leopard and more. Among the winged ones, you can spot the Himalayan monal pheasant, or the Scaly-bellied woodpecker, yellow-billed choughs, snow pigeons and lime butterflies.

As you absorb the colors and sounds of this exquisite Himalayan turf, rest assured that you would mentally transcend to another world, and feel that you are living in a fairytale.

Siliguri: The Gateway to North East India

Siliguri, a city on the banks of river Mahananda, is situated between Himalayan foothills and Dooar region of West Bengal. Known as the Gateway to the North East India, Siliguri also serves as a base for other major tourist destinations in the vicinity. However, Siliguri in itself is a perfect holiday destination with plenty to explore. For adventure enthusiasts, river rafting, trekking, and paragliding are among the major activities that will interest you in Siliguri. In between those adventure trips, you also have plenty of nature to traverse with abounding beauty as well as wildlife sanctuaries.

Image source: Wikipedia

The Jaldapara National Park, earlier known as Jaldapara Wildlife sanctuary is on the banks of Torsa River in North West Bengal. The park covers about 217 square kilometres at an altitude of 61 meters above mean sea level and comprises mainly of grasslands as well as riverine forests. The park is renowned for its impressive population of one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal Tigers, Elephants and various species of deers.  Visitors can take an hour-long elephant ride to get the best out of this park.

Kanchenjunga is visible from Siliguri

Kanchenjunga stadium is a multipurpose stadium within the city mainly used for cricket and football matches.  With a seating capacity of 45,000 seats, the stadium is equipped with floodlights to facilitate day and night fixtures. Going back to nature, Mahananda wildlife sanctuary spreads over 158 square kilometres at different elevations.  While the sanctuary has multiple gates, the main gate is at Sukna which is barely 30 minutes from Siliguri. You can witness a wide range of flora & fauna including 330 different types of plantation, 36 species of mammals, and 243 species of birds.

Mirik is an absorbing hill station that has risen to join the ranks of must-visit destinations for visitors exploring West Bengal.  Sumedu Lake, a natural lake in the centre of Mirik is the main attraction here. Visitors also have the opportunity of boating and fishing at Mirik. While boating along the 1-kilometer length of Sumedu Lake, you can even relish the magnificent view of lush green hills covering the lake on all sides.

For visitors keen on a more exceptional experience with untamed and wildlife at close quarters must visit North Bengal Wild Animals Park. Part of Mahanadi Wildlife Sanctuary, this park covers an area of about 300 hectares and serves as a means to enrich the diverse fauna and flora of North Bengal’s floodplains. The park has been developed as a natural habitat for Sal and other associated species. Visitors are prohibited from feeding any animals at the park.

Food in Siliguri is a fantastic amalgamation of different cultures and places. Visitors have the choice of delicious Chinese cuisine, delicacies of Bengal, rich Mughlai cuisine and South Indian Cuisine with vegan as well as non-vegetarian variants. If you have a sweet tooth, you can try some of the famous Bengali sweets too.

You can visit Siliguri anytime around the year as the climate is agreeable and sightseeing opportunities abundant. June to September receives heavy rainfall so that you can avoid these months for a more comfortable outing. Being an important trade centre, Siliguri is well-connected to other parts of the state and country. The Bagdogra international airport is at 17 km, whereas the New Jalpaiguri railway station is situated at 8 km from the Siliguri city centre. Siliguri is connected to the neighbouring cities and states via the National Highways 31, 31A, 31D and 55. Private and state-owned buses are available with reasonable frequency. If you’re worried about the commute, you can book Siliguri car rental and visit Darjeeling, Gangtok, Kurseong, Kalimpong etc. Happy Vacationing!

Explore Maharashtra’s Breathtaking Sea Forts

The western border of Maharashtra is blessed with a long coastal strip dotted with several bustling beaches and ports. The then rulers erected defence fortifications on the shoreline in order to defend the port towns. A unique feature of many of these forts is that they are set in very picturesque locations with unparalleled architecture. Let’s take a look at some of the most amazing sea forts in Maharashtra.

Sindhudurg

Image source: Wikipedia

The fortified area of Sindhudurg comprises 48 acres close to the town of Malvan and is an island about half a kilometre from the shore. Visitors can take a short boat ride to access the fort. The erstwhile ruler of the region, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had built Sindhudurg to protect the region. The ramparts of the fort are 10 meters high and 4 mm thick extending to about 3 km in length. The fort has a single entry gate on the northeast corner located strategically making it difficult for enemies to identify the entrance. Sindhudurg is also the only place with a temple that is dedicated to Shivaji along with a few other temples. While people reside within the fort, the population has been dwindling over time.

Murud Janjira

Image source: Wikipedia

Murud Janjira fortress belongs to the 17th century and is located off Rajapuri near Murud. This fort is also known as Janjira fort and belonged to the then rulers from the Siddi clan with roots in Abyssinia. The height of the bastioned ramparts of the fort is 15 meters in the midst of the sea. History says that the fort had as many as 572 cannons always kept ready to fire at any approaching enemy. Some of these cannons can be seen even today. Though most of the structures inside are in ruins, visitors can still identify the meeting hall, school, and the mosque.

Vijaydurg

Image source: Wikipedia

Vijaydurg sits on top of a rocky promontory that juts out of the shore. This fort is about 75 km away from Malvan and is surrounded on three sides by the sea. On the southern side, there is a narrow neck that connects the mainland. Defence of this fort was bolstered by Shivaji after he took charge, adding 300 guns, 27 bastions, and three lines of defending walls. The bastions were provided with openings for the cannons and slit holes. The fortified area is 17 acres dotted with the remnants of old structures.

Kolaba fort

Image source: Wikipedia

Kolaba Fort sits on a low rocky island close to the Alibag Harbour. The fort is quadrangular in shape and formed the naval headquarters for Kanhoji Angre who was a Maratha General. The basalt walls of the fort were re-enforced with 17 bastions, and 3 of them remain intact to this date. There is a long causeway that leads to the main entrance. Though most of the fort now lies in ruins, the shrines have been renovated and restored.

Underi

Underi which is also referred to as Jaidurg represents a fortified island close to the mouth of the Mumbai harbour. It was set up as a companion for the Khanderi fort presently in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. The islands of Underi and Khanderi served as landmarks for vessels entering the Mumbai harbour. The Khanderi fort is larger than Underi and was built in 1680 CE by Kahim of the Siddis clan.

Visiting these sea forts in Maharashtra one of a kind experience as it takes you back to the glorious days of Maratha Empire. If you are coming from outside Maharashtra, you can land in Mumbai or Pune and book a Savaari cab to cover all of the above mentioned magnificent places.

Happy Vacationing!

Explore The Golden Sands of Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer or the Sun City of Rajasthan in India is home to massive sandcastles standing tall, rising from the centre of the Thar Desert as a reminder of a glorious bygone era. The mysteries of a desert and trade route of camel trains can be best experienced perhaps only in Jaisalmer. The 99 bastions encircling the Jaisalmer fort continue to be inhabited. Its twisting lanes present an array of shops with most of them selling bright embroideries, the likes of which you may never see elsewhere under the sun.

Image source: Wikipedia

When translated ‘Rajasthan’ means the seat of the ruler or king. However, one of the top reasons to visit Jaisalmer is to get the authentic feel of the desert life. You can still see people living in huts made of grass in the nearby villages. You will come across people of all religions such as Hindu, Jains, Muslims, and Christians living in complete harmony in the challenging this terrain.

The Jaisalmer fort is a lively urban centre that is home to about 3,000 people living within the walls. The honeycombed winding narrow lanes are lined with temples and houses along with an array of restaurants, guesthouses, and handicraft shops. Entry to the fort is from the east which is close to the Gopa Chowk. Along the zig-zag route, you will have to pass four massive gates to reach the upper section. The final gate takes you to the square at the centre of the fort which is known as Dussehra Chowk.

Patwon-ki-haweli. Image source: Wikipedia

Patwon-ki-Haveli is among the biggest havelis in Jaisalmer towering over a narrow lane. The intricate stonework and all that you see around in its five sections have their history dating back to the late 1800s. Bada Bagh is a huge garden with a resplendent history dating back to the 16th century. Though the place is isolated, it offers splendid photo opportunities at sunrise and sunset which is one of the astonishing experiences is the Desert Safari. Sam Sand Dunes is an ideal spot to start your Desert Safari. The camelback safari provides significant intrigue and enjoyment for most visitors.

Chhatris at Bada Bagh. Image source: Wikipedia

Gadisar Lake with its origin in 1367 is about one kilometre from the main fort. This lake supplies drinking water to Jaisalmer and on the banks of this lake, you will find a series of Chattris and holy shrines. The entrance to the lake is particularly attractive for its artistic carvings on yellow sandstone. Nathmal Ki Haveli is must visit haveli for the beautiful interiors and exceptional outer carvings. This is a real amalgamation of Rajputana and Islamic architecture. It is reckoned as the most beautiful havelis in Jaisalmer.

For those who are looking for some uncanny adventure, you can head to the Kuldhara village. This is a ghost town that has been abandoned now. Centuries ago, the then occupants of the town abandoned it lock, stock, and barrel under threat from the then ruler. Folklore has it that Kuldhara continues to carry their curse and hence remains uninhabited even to this date.

Thar Khuri. Image source: Wikipedia

The best time to visit Jaisalmer is between the months of October and March. While the summers are arid and should be avoided, the temperature during winter can also drop below 5 degree Celsius during the night. The nearest airport is at a distance of 280 Km in Jodhpur as Jaisalmer does not have a commercial airport. You can land in Jodhpur and take a connecting train or hire a private taxi to reach Jaisalmer. The railway station in Jaisalmer is well-connected to other major cities such as Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Jodhpur. A well-maintained network of road connects Jaisalmer to other parts of Rajasthan and nearby states. You can take a private or state transport bus from Bikaner, Barmer, Mount Abu, and Ahmedabad.

Happy Vacationing!

Discover Udaipur

Udaipur, once the capital of Mewar Kingdom is a land known for its royal residences from the time of the Rajputs. The City of Lakes is known for its excellent blend of traditions and originality that meets the enthusiasm of tourists. Udaipur is listed as one of the most romantic cities in India and is amongst the top most visited destinations in the country. Udaipur’s picturesque beauty is witnessed in the large lakes, forts, amazing palaces, and pleasant gardens.

A large number of palaces have been converted into lavish hotels, and if you are in for a relaxing vacation, you should consider staying at these hotels. The Lake Palace is a famous hotel palace in the centre of Pichola Lake. Imagine being in a hotel with a view of lake and mountains outside your window, amazing!

There are numerous palaces and landmarks to be seen in the city of Udaipur. City Palace is the biggest architectural marvel in Udaipur that offers the impressive sight of the city and at the same time showcases the finest works of Rajput skills and traditions. Fateh Sagar is a beautiful artificial lake which houses three islands and is famous for its peaceful atmosphere. The largest island has been turned into a lovely garden called Nehru Park that has a lot to offer as far as water sports is concerned.

Jagdish Temple is must visit temple in Udaipur devoted to Lord Vishnu with several attractive figures and beautifully carved images. Jaisamand Lake is a paradise for nature lovers due to its close proximity to the Jaisamand Wildlife Sanctuary. It is home to different creatures and wandering birds which are often spotted in the vicinity. Visitors looking for a place to relax can visit Sahelio Ki Bari, a place well-known for its serene atmosphere. The garden has numerous wellsprings and shaded cool lanes to walk and relax.

In spite of Udaipur being famous for its palaces and landmarks, one thing that you cannot afford to miss is the shopping experience. Many items can be purchased from Udaipur that showcase its rich legacy, custom, and culture. Walking down the busy streets and mandis of Udaipur is an appealing experience. Shilpgram Crafts Village, Sadhna Emporium, Chetak Circle, and Bapu Bazaar are few of the many places that help tourists enhance their shopping experience.

The rich history from the bygone era has left a mark on this city. If you are curious about history, you would be amazed to see the Bhil tribe which still inhabits the city. People from Bhil tribe wear traditional Rajasthani attire and loads of silver ornaments. In terms of cuisines, Udaipur is primarily vegetarian mainly due to predominant Jainism in the region. The vegetarian cuisine in the city is still a food lover’s dream come true. The Thali at Natraj is highly recommended for its authentic local flavours.

It is advisable to visit Udaipur in winters as one can enjoy the exquisiteness of the place without the scorching heat prevalent during summers. Udaipur is very well-connected to other metro cities, and thus one can easily reach this place through air, roads, or rail. Buses and trains to and from Udaipur are available at frequent intervals. Dabok is a commercial domestic airport situated 20 km east of Udaipur. Cars are available for rent from the airport to go in the city or to commute within the city.

If you’re looking for an offbeat getaway near Udaipur, we highly recommend visiting Bundi, a gorgeous town about four hours away.

Happy Vacationing!