The best Irani cafes in Mumbai

Irani cafes are unique to the cities of Mumbai and Pune and have developed over the years from being quaint provision stores and bakeries to their present day image of the most-loved cafes. The most popular and thrifty option on the menu at these cafes is the bun-maska (pav with butter) and Irani chai. These cafes were set up by Persian migrants that crossed the border and entered India over 150 years ago.

While there were over a dozen Irani cafes in the city in the past, today only a handful remain that carry their legacy into the present day. Ensure to visit at least one of these cafes on your next Mumbai darshan to enjoy some Irani hospitality.

 

Kyani Bakery and Co.

One of the oldest Irani cafes in Marine Lines this place features tall wooden ceilings and the signature chairs that have protected the charm of the place. Kyani cafe is famous for its wine cake but it also offers other delicious options like the chicken roll and a variety of kheema dishes.

Stadium Cafe

Located outside The Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai’s first international cricket stadium, this cafe is only a short distance from the Churchgate station. People often come here to enjoy an Irani tea with a combination of muffins before they head out to watch the sunset at the Marine Drive.

Cafe Excelsior

Cafe Excelsior is scenically situated amidst historic buildings in the Fort Area. This 97-year-old cafe is the perfect place to witness the bygone charm of the city along with a delicious bite of the famous mutton burgers. The cafe also serves delectable Lebanese cuisine and desserts.

Merwan and Co.

Image source: The City Story

Located on the eastern side of the Grant Road Station, this cafe is popular among many office and retired mill workers who come here for an affordable snack. The ambiance of this cafe is a nod to the 70’s when Irani cafes were famous in Bollywood movies. This cafe is famous for its buttery bun maska, mawa cake, bhurji pav, and the Irani tea.

Jimmy Boy

This is a Parsi-Irani cafe that merges the best of two cultures and cuisines. Located in the Fort Area of Mumbai, this cafe is famous for its unconventional menu which includes dishes like Sali per edu, margi na farcha and mutton gravy cutlet.

Image source: Wikipedia

Cafe Military

Presumably, the only Irani cafe that serves beer in Mumbai, this place is made jovial by its ambiance as well as its amicable owners. The divine scrambled egg called akoori served here is a must have along with order class dishes like the kheema ghotala, mutton dhansak, and the caramel custard.

Cafe Gulshan

Popular with students and the locals of the neighbourhood, this cafe has managed to maintain its legacy in Central Mumbai, in Matunga. Although surrounded by newer cafes, this place has continued to stay on the map due to the authentic Irani cafe experience that it provides to the customers.

Irani cafes are a reflection of the culture of the migrants and further provide a picture of the diversified demography of the country. Hop on Pune to Mumbai cabs to enjoy the legacy of these Irani cafes and enjoy a piping hot Irani tea and some buttery pav to go along with it. 

A day tour by cab in Lucknow

Immerse yourself in luxury as you travel like a Nawab in Luxury Cab

If you wish to witness the rich Indian culture, art, music, and poetry in its true sense, or you are just a foodie who can’t resist trying spicy as well as delicious local delicacies, Lucknow is just the right place for you to visit. Known for its authentic Ittars (perfumes) and richly crafted handicrafts, you’ll  be able to find something of your choice in Lucknow. The state capital of Uttar Pradesh is an underrated tourist location, but once you get to visit this royal place, you’ll find that the city has a lot more to offer than the usual that travel guides will tell you. And the best way to experience the royal vibe of Lucknow is to travel in a luxury cab. A wise man once said that the right way to know about the place is neither listening to the experiences of the people, nor the stories that you hear, but to visit that place by yourself. So all you need to do is book one of the full day/ half day cabs in Lucknow and begin your own quest of discovering something new.

Lucknow was made famous by the Nawabs of Avadh, who fostered the dance and the music culture amongst the people. The best time to see the largest city of India is from January to March and then from October to December. The weather is just fine in Lucknow during these months. Lucknow has many small and big places to see, and the best way to visit each of them is to book a radio taxi in Lucknow.

 

Top tourist spots

Image source: Wikipedia

Some of the top tourist spots include Bara Imambara, Rumi Darwaza, Husainabad Clock Tower and Sravasti. Whether you are looking for a budget trip or you are planning a luxurious one, the place has so much to offer in both the cases. A lot of mid-range to budget accommodation options are available for people to stay and most of them are located in the vicinity of the Charbagh Railway Station.

A dream destination for foodies

Image source: Wikipedia

The individuality and distinctiveness of the cuisine are well known throughout India. You just can’t miss the chance of having the lip-smacking range of local dishes of Lucknow which include Kormas, Sheermal, Warqi paranthas. There is a whole range of kebabs which includes Shami Kebabs, Boti Kebabs, Patili-ke-Kababs, Ghutwa Kebabs and Seekh Kebabs from which you can pick your own favorite.

The specialty of the dishes lies in the ingredients as well as the way they are crafted and presented by the experienced chefs. The list doesn’t end here, Royal Café which is located in Hazratganj is known for its special Aloo Tokri Chaat. If you love Dahi Bhallas, you must head to Chapan Bhog at Sadar Bazar. The other eminent food joints are Bajpayee Ki Kachori, Ratt Lal, Raj & Raj.  For the love of baked food and authentic desserts, you must plan a visit to the JJ Bakers at Hazratganj and have a bite of the delightful coconut cookies there.

For Biryani lovers, here is a place with the name Dastarkhwaan situated in Gomti Nagar which serves authentic Biryani. Other options where you can head to for Biryani are Wahid at Aminabad Chowk and Idris. Those who enjoy desserts, Prakash Kulfi and Dayal prepare the most delicious Kulfi in Lucknow and both of the shops are present in Aminabad. Local cabs in Lucknow run during the whole day and you can hire a cab to reach these places which are located in the core of Lucknow. Online cab booking in Lucknow is very easy and you can get the best suitable cab for you at a reasonable price. For the lovers of non-vegetarian food, Wahid at Aminabad serves the best Mutton Chaap and Naushijaan at Hazratganj serves the juicy Masala Chicken. Your stomach will get full but your taste buds will never get over the tasty and tempting food. Also, if you are visiting Lucknow you have to try the Special Malai Pan and Chandrakala from Chappan Bhog and Ramasrey and Malai Gilori at Hazratganj and Ramashrey Chowk respectively.

 

Things you must do in Lucknow

There is a lot to do and see while you make your visit to Lucknow. Radio taxi in Lucknow can take you to all the renowned places as the drivers usually know about the top tourist attractions of the place. To prepare you a bit before you make your visit to the land of Nawabs, here are some things that you must do and places that you must visit while you are in Lucknow.

A visit to Oudhyana

On the top of the list lies the Oudhyana, where Chef Nagendra Singh awaits you, to tempt you with the Lucknow’s famous Awadh cuisine crafted in his own signature manner. Bara Imambara is acclaimed for its highly exceptional corridor structure on the first floor of the building.

Image source: Wikipedia

The exceptional Rumi Darwaza

You can catch the sight of the exceptionally curated copy of an entrance gate in Istanbul in Lucknow and it is eminent by the name Rumi Darwaza. Established just beyond the Bara Imambara, the colossal Rumi Darwaza is known to be built in the 1780s by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. It easily catches the sight of the people due to its highly unusual structure.

All about calligraphy and precious stones

Acknowledged by its intricate calligraphy adorning the walls of the tomb, Chota Imambara was built by Mohammad Ali Shah, who was later buried in the tomb, alongside his mother in 1832. The silver throne of Mohammad Ali Shah and his red crown are still put on a display in the tomb for the visitors to see. Tazia, which is a replica of the tomb of Mohammad Ali Shah’s son Husain, is also present in the tomb.

Experience royalty at the Royal Café

Royal Café is an excellent café where you can easily reach by hiring a local taxi and it’s well-known for its royal demeanor and the extremely popular Chaat stand in front of the café.

The famous Lucknow Mahotsav

If you are one of those who makes elaborate plans before leaving for vacation, you must schedule your travel during the days of Lucknow Mahotsav which is a 10-day long festival and it brings out the true Nawab spirit during late November. A lot of plays, Ghazal, and Kathak events are carried out by the experts in this festival.

 

Reaching Lucknow to Kanpur by cab and the comparison of fare

Lucknow is readily connected to all the major locations and you can easily board a cab to reach anywhere from Lucknow. Boarding a one-way taxi from Lucknow to Kanpur is really easy and you can book your cab either online or by visiting any taxi stand in Lucknow. The cab will reach your pick up point and easily pick you up and drop you to your desired drop location anywhere in Kanpur. It is the definitely the best option for the travelers who need to travel one way only from any point in Lucknow to Kanpur. The cab fare is quite feasible and perhaps it is the best way to see the place in its true sense.

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.

Short Road Trips from Mumbai

Despite February being the shortest month in the year, you can make every weekend count when it comes to your travel goals. This month, we’re recommending gorgeous getaways a few hours’ drive from your city. This means you can have a mini vacation and head back to the city within a day! Think time constraints are throwing in the spanner for your travel plans? Think again! If you’re in Mumbai, rent a car and explore the beaches of Alibag, head to the gorgeous Murud Janjira, go on a trek in Tungareshwar or go camping at the base of Karnala Fort.


Alibag

Located less than 100 kms south of Mumbai, Alibag makes a perfect weekend destination for explorers. The biggest attraction here is the long beach of the town. The coastal Kolaba fort dates back to the time of Maratha kings and its medieval ramparts are a fascinating place to explore. The islands of Khanderi and Underi are also interesting locales, with a history going back to Shivaji’s time. One of the activities you can engage in Alibag is a trek to the picturesque temple of Shiva situated in the hills near the town. The black sands of Nagaon are another unique attraction in this neck of the woods. Kashid and Korlai are two of the other popular beaches in the area. Alibag offers quintessential coastal scenery and stunning sunset views, and visitors can dig into some of the local seafood delicacies. Choose a reliable provider of Mumbai to Alibag cabs and have a rejuvenating trip.

 

Murud Janjira

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.

 

Tungareshwar

The Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Vasai is home to waterfalls, forests and a magnificent Shiva Temple. The sanctuary is lush green during the monsoons and is ideal for a refreshing trek to the Tungareshwar Hill. If you’re a novice at trekking, we recommend you cover some easier treks before attempting the 18km trek through this rough terrain. If you’re planning to visit the temple, you’ll have to pay an entry fee of about Rs 20 to the authorities. The Shiva temple in Tungareshwar is about 5kms from the highway. You could either walk or take a cab to the entrance of the temple. The temple is fairly crowded around the time Maha Shivratri is celebrated.

 

Karnala Fort

If you’re looking for a quick getaway from the bustle of Mumbai, head to Karnala Bird Sanctuary and Karnala Fort for a break in nature. With a couple of campsites in the sanctuary, you can spend time watching birds. If you’re not an outdoors person or if camping is not your thing, the sanctuary also has a few resorts and a forest guest house you can stay at with stunning views. With the elevation that the fort is at, you’ll also be able to see Prabalgad, Manikgad, Matheran, Chanderi Fort and Rajmachi.

Short Road Trips from Kolkata

Despite February being the shortest month in the year, you can make every weekend count when it comes to your travel goals. This month, we’re recommending gorgeous getaways a few hours’ drive from your city. This means you can have a mini vacation and head back to the city within a day! Think time constraints are throwing in the spanner for your travel plans? Think again! If you’re in Kolkata, rent a car and revel in the literary history of Santiniketan, take a trip down to the bay at Gangasagar, visit the Krishna temple in Mayapur and explore wildlife in the Sunderbans.

 

Santiniketan

Santiniketan is the erstwhile home of Tagore which in later years was transformed into a thriving centre of education, art, and, internationalism. It was Rabindranath Tagore’s father, Debendranath Tagore who started Santiniketan as a spiritual centre in 1863 and everyone cutting across caste, creed, and religion were welcome to Santiniketan for meditation.

Steeped in the legacy of Rabindranath Tagore and his father Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, Santiniketan is a confluence of culture and art. Santiniketan is famous for its many events, including festivals celebrating the seasons like the Basanta Utsav and BarshaMangal. The PoushMela is one of the main events in Santiniketan, it is a three-day festival that features the traditional arts and crafts, and of course the famous Baul music performances. The deer park at Santiniketan is one of the most tranquil spots in the area, a perfect place to unwind over a weekend visit.


Mayapur

Located on the banks of the Ganges, Mayapur is a holy town in West Bengal, the birthplace of the Hindu saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It is believed that Mayapur attracts more than a million visitors each year, due to its importance as a sacred site. One of the main attractions of Mayapur is the Pushpa Samadhi Mandir. The temple is also famous for its museum, which showcases events from the life of Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON and the globally significant “Hare Krishna” movement. Other famous landmarks include the Chandrodaya Mandir with its three different altars. The distance between Kolkata and Mayapur is around 130 kms, involving a scenic drive through Bengal’s countryside. Book a Kolkata to Mayapur car rental and enjoy a memorable trip.

 

Sunderbans

West Bengal’s most famous landmark is undoubtedly the Sunderbans, which is located at the South Eastern tip of the 24 Parganas. It is a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers of Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna. Of the entire delta, 4,262 sq kilometres of the Sunderbans is situated in India, while another larger portion is a part of Bangladesh. 2,585 sq kilometres of the Indian side of the Sunderbans is dedicated to India’s largest tiger reserve, the Sunderbans National Park. The most famous and popular inhabitant of the Sunderbans is the Tiger and there are over 100 of these magnificent cats roaming the dense forests of this delta and even swimming through the network of channels and mangroves. It is an exciting adventure as you cruise through the world’s largest mangrove sanctuary and its waterways, all the while relishing the breath-taking sights. You can use one of the reliable outstation taxi services in Kolkata that will transport you to the Sunderbans quickly and safely.

 

Gangasagar

Gangasagar over the years has been hosting both pilgrims as well as people who are into adventure sports. This place is situated near the Sunderbans and one shall get enchanted with the beauty of this place as soon as he enters. The beach alongside the calm waves of the sea is a perfect weekend gateway for anyone wanting to take a break from the city life. Gangasagar’s island is also very reputed among the pilgrims following Hindu religion. It is not as widely known, and is still away from the crowd and still has managed to keep intact its raw charm.

Short Road Trips from Hyderabad

Despite February being the shortest month in the year, you can make every weekend count when it comes to your travel goals. This month, we’re recommending gorgeous getaways a few hours’ drive from your city. This means you can have a mini vacation and head back to the city within a day! Think time constraints are throwing in the spanner for your travel plans? Think again! If you’re in Hyderabad, rent a car and visit the Yadadri temple at Yadagirigutta, soak in the views in Anantagiri Hills, spend a day in Ramoji Film City or revisit history in Medak.

Yadagirigutta

Yadagirigutta is predominantly known for the ‘Yadadri’ temple, dedicated to Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is situated on a hillock in the Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district in Telangana. According to legend, a sage named Yadarishi did penance inside a cave on this hill. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Narasimha appeared before him in five forms. The sage requested Him to remain in the temple for all to worship. The five forms manifested themselves into five sculptures, which came to be known as ‘Pancha Narasimha Khetram’ and are worshipped in the temple even today. In addition to Yadagirigutta, one can also visit Pushkarini Sri Anjaneya Swamy Temple, Sri Ramalingeshwara Swamy Temple, and Sri Ramalayam, nearby. Yadagirigutta is located about 62km from Hyderabad and can be reached in 1.5 hours. This trip can be done within one day and you can book a cab from Hyderabad to Yadagirigutta.

Anantagiri Hills

Boasting of lush green forests, magnificent views and various trekking points, Anantagiri hills provide a beautiful getaway from Hyderabad. These hills are located at Vikarabad in Ranga Reddy district of Telangana. This area is most famous as the birthplace of Musi river, which flows through Hyderabad. In addition to its flora and fauna, the forests in Ananthagiri have also been explored for medicinal herbs. Anantha Padmabha Swamy Temple is another major attraction in this area. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is depicted in this temple as reclining on ‘Anantha’, the snake which floats on the cosmic waters of Vaikuntha, Lord Vishnu’s abode. For the trekking enthusiasts, there are two well known trails through the forests, one of which starts from the temple. Ananthagiri Hills are located about 80km from Hyderabad and the distance can be covered in a little over 2 hours by booking a cab in Hyderabad.

Ramoji Film City

The closest tourist destination to Hyderabad on this list, Ramoji Film City is located barely 25 km away from the capital city. It is the world’s largest integrated film studio complex, and is spread over 2500 acres of area. It is the preferred destination for many tourists to spend a full day, as it has a number of rides and recreational activities. Some of the major attractions of the Film City include Sun Fountain, Japanese Garden, Angel’s Fountain, Jail, Princess Street, Eureka and the Airport. This is the best option for a one day trip, since you can get there in under half an hour travelling via Hyderabad to Ramoji Film City cabsThe city of Nizams is surrounded by many such gems. Maintaining the work and fun balance in important, so a getaway to one of these interesting destinations is definitely a must for residents of Hyderabad and tourists alike!

Medak
The town of Medak in Telangana is rich with cultural history, monuments and food. The town of Medak has one of the largest dioceses in Asia, and the Medak Cathedral is a gorgeous Gothic Revival style church that is a must-visit for tourists. Built by Kakatiya rulers in the 12th century, Medak Fort is another popular spot that you should visit. For wildlife enthusiasts, Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary is a short distance from Medak and has a gorgeous lake from where you can watch herons, egrets and openbill storks.

Short Road Trips from Bangalore

Despite February being the shortest month in the year, you can make every weekend count when it comes to your travel goals. This month, we’re recommending gorgeous getaways a few hours’ drive from your city. This means you can have a mini vacation and head back to the city within a day! Think time constraints are throwing in the spanner for your travel plans? Think again! If you’re in Bangalore, rent a car and head to Bandipur National Park, Shivanasamudra waterfall, go rock climbing in Ramanagara or visit the temple in Lepakshi.

Bandipur National Park

Bandipur plays host to over 30 tigers, 3,000 asian elephants and has an area of over 874 square kilometers. Having cities like Bangalore (215km), Ooty (70km) and Mysore (80km) in its proximity, Bandipur National Park is one of the most well preserved and efficiently run natural reserves in the country. Situated between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, this reserve is separated by Nagarhole national park near the Kabini Reservoir. The most picturesque way to travel to this region and this world-famous national park is by either hiring cabs from Mysore to Bandipur or finding some car rentals that allow for a more leisure journey. The best time to visit the park is around the months of November to February, this ensures the monsoons have passed and the weather clears up during the winter months which allow for a better opportunity to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife.

Shivanasamudra

A scenic region located slightly off the Mysore Highway, Shivanasamudra is teeming with trekking trails and waterfalls. The main attraction here is the Shivanasamudra Falls, which is said to have a detoxing effect not only on your body, but also on your soul. The waterfalls have been included among the 100 best waterfalls in the world, and are surrounded by the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. Water cascades from a height of around 200 feet on to the islands of Shivanasamudra. It around 130km from the city, but the easy availability of cabs from Bangalore to Shivanasamudra have made things very convenient.

Ramanagara

If you’re looking for one-day trips near Bangalore with a bit of relaxation, adventure and sport, head to Ramanagara near Bangalore for a quick weekend getaway. If you’re looking for a longer visit, the town has some nice resorts you can stay at too!

With adventure sport like rock climbing, rappelling and chimney climbing. If you’re looking for a quiet time in the outdoors, there are a number of places you can go to camp overnight, kayak and trek in the wilderness. And since Ramanagara is a short distance from Bangalore, you can easily make it a pit stop before heading off to Mysore, Coorg and other destinations on the route.

If you’re planning on staying in Ramanagara for the night, you could book a room at Shilhaandara Resort. If you’re looking for a quick visit or organised group activities, you can book an activity with Adventure Nest and Skydream Adventure Services.

Lepakshi

Situated about 120 kilometres from Bangalore, Lepakshi is home to a temple built between the 12th and 15th century. The temple is known for its hanging pillar, gorgeous murals on the ceiling and intricate carvings on its walls and pillars. The nearby monolithic Nandi is considered the biggest Nandi carved from a single stone in India. Though the temple is not a live one anymore, it continues to draw crowds of tourists and history buffs alike.

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

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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.

A Nature Lovers Guide to Wildlife in Tadoba

The beast that stalks the Indian forests, the undisputed king, is the Bengal tiger. This most legendary of predators is slowly becoming the stuff of legend in many parts of the continent, and India is one of the last bastions of the largest cat in the world. Indias Project Tiger Reserves are famed and we have watched them documented in countless nature shows. In real life, though, sighting a tiger can often be a hit or miss game. From a wildlife enthusiasts perspective, there are certain reserves where one is more likely to encounter the animal and Tadoba is one of them.

Maharashtra’s pride, the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is the largest in the state. Nagpur and Chandrapur are the two major towns near the park. The rugged terrain and thick forests spread more than 1,700 square kilometers, making it a prime habitat for many species.

Image source: Wikipedia

Animals of Tadoba

There are currently more than 80 tigers in the core area of Tadoba National Park. This population thrives because of an abundance of prey present in the area, along with an organized conservation effort by park authorities. Some of the other animals you will come across in your Tadoba safaris are spotted deer –  a favorite food of the tigers, sambar deer, and the nilgai.

Leopards and the Indian wild dog, or dhole, are two other major predators of Tadoba. Striped hyenas and langurs are also found in Tadoba. Tadoba Lake is one of the major landscape highlights here and a domain of the Indian mugger or crocodile. Other reptiles found here include monitor lizards and terrapins.

Image source: Wikipedia

Birds of Tadoba

Bird lovers will rejoice in Tadoba; there are close to 200 species found here. The early morning safaris are a great time to enjoy some rare bird sightings as the weather is much cooler. Some of the species found here include the crested honey buzzard, the paradise flycatcher and many woodpecker species. The area around the lake is an ideal place to glimpse raptors and waterfowl. There are many species of eagles found here as well, such as the grey-headed fish eagle, a specialist fish hunter, and the crested serpent eagle, which as the name suggests hunts snakes. The black-headed ibis is another iconic Indian bird that you will find on the lakeside.

Image source: Wikipedia

Safari Experiences

You can explore the park in open-top Gypsy safaris and if you are a photography enthusiast, there are fewer places that rival Tadoba for wildlife shots. There are three separate zones for safaris in the national park and the timings change according to the time of the year. Safaris happen in the early mornings and late afternoons.

A Short Getaway Alternative
Rent a car in Nagpur and head off to the countryside: some of the attractions include Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary and the hill station of Idukki. There are many Nagpur to Tadoba cabs that will allow you to have the complete backwaters experience.