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India's Best Wildlife: Kaziranga National Park

You are a wildlife enthusiast. Where should you go? Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary
You love adventurous tours. Where should you head towards? Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the best tourist destinations in India? Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary
Beautiful Surroundings? Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary

Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. The sanctuary is a natural habitat for varied flora, fauna and bird species. Because of its serene surroundings, it has been Included in UNESCO’ World Heritage Site List. But what factors one need to keep in mind to make his/her tour to Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary the tour of their lifetime? Read this travel guide and find out.

What is Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary famous for?
Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for housing a large number of endangered species of Indian one-horned rhinocerosas well as most number of tigers in terms of population density.

However, Ranthambore National Park with lesser tiger population density is more ideal place to be for spotting tigers in their natural habitat.

Single Horned Rhinocerous
Kaziranga National Park is home to 2/3rd of world's Single-horned Rhinos
Wow… Rhinoceros! What is the story behind the creation of this wildlife sanctuary?
Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary was established since 1905, by Mary Victoria Leiter Curzon, on realizing that the population of rhinoceros is decreasing in the area.

In 1916, it was called as Kaziranga Game Sanctuary which was changed to Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary by P.D. Stracey in 1950 to remove any sort of linking to hunting activities.

Poaching in Park was banned but visitors were allowed to visit. By 1954, massive penalties were imposed on poachers and by 1968 it received the status of one of India’s National Park. In 1985, it earned the title of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Poachers, floods, rebels, nothing could bring the spirits of the Wildlife Sanctuary to a halt over the years, in 2005, and The Sanctuary celebrated her 100th anniversary.

That sounds very intriguing. Where is this popular Wildlife Sanctuary located?
Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Nagaon and Golaghat districts of Indian state of Assam.

Umm… Assam. I see. How can I reach Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary?

By Bus: After reaching Assam, you can take a bus from Guwahati Bus stop (217 km), Jorhat Bus stand (96 km) or from Nawgaon, Dibrugarh and Tezpur bus stand (75 km). The fare for the bus varies Government service and private service.

By Air: You can avail taxis, buses or autorickshaws from Guwahati airport (235km).

By Rail: Nearest railway station is Furkating (80 km) from where you can avail any means of transport to reach the park.

You seem to know a lot. Any suggestion on what time is best to visit the sanctuary?
The Wildlife Sanctuary is open for tourists between 1st November and 31st April. Floods rampage the park during monsoon. Overcrowding of tourists during December and January hinders a private experience. Therefore, months of March and February are the best to visit Kaziranga National Park.

I do not want to spend lavishly. What is the Entry Fee to the Park? 
Video cameras: INR 500 (Indians); INR 1000 (Foreigners)

Elephant safari: INR 280 (Indians); INR 750 (Foreigners)

Jeep safari: INR 1000 (Central range); INR 2000 (Burhapahar)

Vehicle entry: INR 200

Camera: INR 50 (Indians); INR 500 (Foreigners)

Armed guard: INR 50

Entrance: INR 50 (Indians); INR 250 (Foreigners)

Wow. That price totally works. What are the operating hours?

Jeep safaris: 0730 to 1100 (Morning Hours); 1400 to 1630 (Afternoon Hours)

Elephant safaris: 0530 to 0730 (Morning Hours); 1500 to 1600 (Afternoon Hours)

What all species of Fauna and Flora I can see on these safaris?
Mammals: Hoolock Gibbon, Eastern Swamp Deer, Wild Asiatic Water Buffalo, elephants, sambar, gaur, Indian Muntjac, hog deer, wild boar, Indian Tigers, Jungle Cat, Leopards, Fishing Cat, Hispid Hare, leopard Cats, Indian Gray Mongoose, Large Indian Civet, Small Indian Mongooses, Small Indian Civets, Golden Jackal, Bengal Fox, Sloth Bear, Indian Pangolins, Chinese Pangolin, Hog Badger, Particolored flying squirrels, Chinese Ferret Badgers, Assamese Macaque, Golden Langur, Capped, Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros

Birds: Rufous-vented Prinia Baer's Pochard duck, Ferruginous Duck, Lesser Adjutant, Black-necked Stork, Greater Adjutant, Asian Openbill stork, White-bellied Heron, Blyth's Kingfisher, Dalmatian Pelican, Nordmann's Greenshank, Spot-billed Pelican, Black-bellied Tern, Greater Spotted, Eastern Imperial, White-tailed, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Pallas's Fish Eagle, the Lesser Kestrel, Indian Vulture, drug Diclofenac, Slender-billed Vulture, Swamp Francolin, Indian White-rumped Vulture, Bengal Florican, Pale-capped Pigeon, the Great Indian Hornbill, Old World babblers, Wreathed Hornbill, Baya Weaver, Hodgson's Bushchat, threatened Finn's Weavers, Old World warblers, Black-breasted Parrotbill, Bristled Grassbird, White-fronted Goose etc

Reptiles: Reticulated Python, Indian Cobra, Rock Python the King Cobra, Monocled Cobra, Common Krait, Russell's viper, Monitor lizard, the Water Monitor, Bengal monitor, the Brown Tortoise and Assam Roofed Turtle
Flora: Mimosa invisa Dillenia indica, Talauma hodgsonii, Garcinia tinctoria, Cinnamomum bejolghota, Ficus rumphii, Baguri, Haldibari, Bimali, Albizia procera, Lagerstroemia speciosa, Duabanga grandiflora, Crateva unilocularis, Grewia serrulata, Sterculia urens, Mallotus philippensis, Aphania rubra, Bridelia retusa, Leea indica, water hyacinth, Leea umbraculifera, Aphanamixis polystachya

What a range of Biodiversity! I am definitely going there. Any idea where I could stay?
There are a large numbers of hotels and wildlife resorts nearby at a very close distance to Kaziranga National Park. All these resorts are not very expensive and offer a very comfortable stay without lighting your pocket by a large margin.

The views outside these resorts are very exciting with amazing sceneries and picturesque landscapes all around. The rooms in these lodges and resorts are installed with all the amenities and services that are required by any modern day traveler.

The food served in all the resorts comprises mainly of vegetarian dishes, but is very scrumptious and you will keep licking your fingers after having the food. The food is a little expensive but it is so delicious, it more than makes up for the money spent for all foodies.

Some of the famous resorts are Unicorn Cottages, Wild Grass Lodge, Diphlu River Lodge, Nature-Hunt Eco Camp, Jupuri Ghar, Iora- the Retreat Resort.

My bags are packed and I am ready to go. Any more tips?
Loads of tips to be given:
  • For the best experience of Elephant Safari, chose to do it in Central Range.
  • If you are interested in boat rides in beautiful waters, head to North Eastern point of the park.
  • Do not book private elephant safari riders. They cut your tour time to take on more tourists. Go in groups.
  • Early morning safari in winters should be avoided as fog and mist restricts viewing.
  • Private vehicle can be taken to the park if accompanied with a forest guide.
Thank you for all the Information.
No problem. Enjoy your Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary tour. Looking for more wildlife vacation inspiration...check out Periyar National Park, one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in South India and one of the only that remains open during monsoon.

Also check out some of the best national parks in India.

For more details, packages and booking of hotel to plan your wildlife excursion in Kajiranga, visit the website of Wildlife India Tours here: http://www.wildlifeindiatours.com/kaziranga-national-park

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Munnar: Places to visit in Kerela

Munnar, formed at the merging point of three rivers, is an exciting tourist destination in Kerala where three most modern trends in tourism merge together. The Rocky Mountains and steep hills make it ideal for adventure sports. The stunning lakes and dams nearby initiates water tourism.

Ecotourism, which believes in preservation of the ecosystem and simultaneously establishing an atmosphere for tourism that gives importance to the local inhabitants and culture, is the specialty of Munnar.

Munnar is a Hill STation in Kerala
Munnar in Kerela is renowned for its salubrious weather and verdant tea estates

Many newly weds also head to this serene and secluded hill station in Kerala for their honeymoon.

Are you looking for honeymoon ideas? Check out the top 10 honeymoon destinations in India.

Location: Munnar, a small hill station, is situated in the state of Kerala, in Western Ghats, at an altitude of 1600 m above sea level.

How to Reach Munnar: 
Airport: Cochin International airport is the nearest airport to Munnar (110 km).

Railway Station: Aluva Railway Station is the nearest station (110 km).

Best time to visit: Since the temperature is pleasant throughout the year in Munnar, all months from August to May are ideal for visiting the town, Monsoon months must be avoided.

Accommodations in Munnar
The accommodations in Munnar are mainly cottages and resorts, which are completely surrounded by the bounty of nature. All the hotels in Munnar are built keeping in mind to not disturb the ecosystem of Kerala. The tourists experience the Kerala flavors in the atmosphere while they enjoy all the modern amenities in these hotels in Munnar.

Major Tourist Attractions in Munnar

Pothamedu
For an unforgettable experience, visit the beautiful, lush green tea estates in Pohamedu and fell in love with Kerala’s ecosystem. 

Devikulam
The major attraction here is ‘Sita Devi Lake’, known amongst locals for possessing curative powers. Also, a lot of nature lovers are attracted with varied species of flora and fauna. The beautiful roadway to Munnar is simply delightful as well. 

Pallivasal
The captivating beautiful surroundings around the first hydro-electric project of Kerala should not be missed as it makes for a memorable view. 

Chithirapuram 
No tourists will ever remain the same after witnessing the stunning beauty around this magical tourist destination with gorgeous hills on one side and Pallivasal on the other side.

Echo Point
Go with your partner to this enchanting tourist destination and shout out your love for each other on a lake embankment and listen to your own voice returned manifold by the surrounding hills. Simply Magical!

Vagavurai 
The beautiful red flowers blooming on gorgeous Vaga trees make Vagavurai an amazing nature spot for tourists. Orange and pepper plantations, mini hydel project, amazing waterfall and a flowing stream make this a picturesque tourist destination. 

Meesapulimala
Traversing in the 'Silent Valley', this elegant tea plantation region, takes you to a height of 2650 meters, to the highest peak in Kerala. After reaching to this height, the state of Kerala will appear more enigmatic and vibrant than ever.

Top Station 
For witnessing an unforgettable ecosystem in and around India, visit the highest peak of Kerala, called the top station, on top of which, the state of Tamil Nadu appears clearly on Eastern side while The Majestic Arabian Sea appears on the Western side. Everything around here will never fade away from your memory!

Want more of Kerala? Check out this travel guide to Kerala. Discover the magic of God's own Country with Best of Kerala, a tastefully crafted tour itinerary of Kerala.

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Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations in India in Winter

Last Updated on 07th Oct 2016 
 
Winter is the time when many couples in India tie the knots and look forward to beautiful beginnings. And thus starts their quest to find top winter honeymoon destinations in India. It was a painstaking effort to choose just the top honeymoon destinations in India in winter as there are so many.

Before choosing one of these top honeymoon picks, I’d also suggest that you check out some tips on winter packing and traveling safe in India.

There are so many places for beautiful beginnings in India but which destination to choose also depends on the likes and tastes of the couples who are venturing out for honeymoon in India.

In no particular order here are the top 10 honeymoon destinations in India:

1. Kerala, God's own Country

Alapuzza Houseboats in Kerala
Luxury Houseboat, Kerala Backwaters
No list is complete without mentioning Kerala as one of the top honeymoon destinations in India. There are beaches and backwaters, Ayurveda and spa and now the ethnic tree houses, there are a lot of activity to please the couples during their honeymoon.

The palm fringed backwaters at Alapuzza, the pervading calm and the sight of lush surroundings are enough to freeze the time. There are luxury houseboats complete with bedrooms, washroom, deck and kitchen which is one of the best options for honeymoon in Kerala. Imagine dining under the star with moon light shining golden in the water…how’s that for romance?

Kovalam with its 3 crescent shaped beaches is an internationally acclaimed beach destination in Kerala. For couples looking forward to their honeymoon, there is sun bathing, invigorating body massages and cruises to add to the romance.

You could splurge at Leela Kovalam, one of the most luxurious resorts in Kovalam. There are special packages by the hotel offering romantic activities like candle light dinner along the Kovalam Beach, breakfast in the bed, personalized cake and bottle of wine on arrival, romantic dinner overlooking Arabian Sea, airport transfers and complimentary romantic spa treatments.

Here's a comprehensive travel guide to Kerala Tourism. You may also want to check out the top 5 places to visit in Kerala.

2. Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir

Likir Gonpa, Ladakh
Ladakh is renowned for its barren beauty and awe inspiring monasterie
I know it’s unconventional, but this high altitude paradise is the latest fad among the adventurous couples. Ladakh is renowned all over the world for its awesome lakes, high altitude desert, mighty mountain passes and barren landscape.

Ladakh, also referred to as Little Tibet is one of the most surreal places to visit in India and also one of the safest. Sprinkled with monasteries, lakes and straddled in the Great Himalaya, Ladakh is a honeymooner’s paradise indeed.

Its magical landscape, friendly people, and relatively sparse population are perfect ingredients for a romantic escape. Besides serene retreats, there’s spirituality, adventure like mountain biking and even river rafting to keep the couples entertained and thrilled.

What could be more fascinating than sleeping in camps surrounded by cotton wool mountain peaks, riding two-humped camel in the 'desert in the sky' Hunder or getting cozy in the one of the luxury camp by the shore of the magical Pangong Lake near Spangmik or Tso Moriri in Changthang...the list is endless.

This one page handbook to Ladakh may also come handy if you are planning to travel to Ladakh for your beautiful beginning. Here's 5 most popular places to visit in Ladakh.

3. Udaipur, Rajasthan


Without a doubt, Udaipur will make it to any list talking about top romantic destinations in India. Fondly referred to as the "Venice of East", Udaipur in Rajasthan is home to India's most romantic hotel the Taj Lake Palace.

There are old mansions, havelis, mesmerizing gardens in Udaipur and more so there is calm and serenity of Lake Pichola flanked by undulating Aravali Hill which the couples would cherish during their honeymoon stay.

If you are willing to splurge for this onetime activity i.e. honeymoon, the natural choice for top honeymoon destination in India in winter is the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur.

This luxury white marble wonder set amidst the manmade Lake Pichola, has been often mentioned as one of the world's most romantic hotels.

This magnificent 250 year old edifice with its luxurious suites and immaculate service is an ideal destination for an unforgettable honeymoon experience in India. A candlelit dinner under the stars is definitely recommended for couples.

Also check out some travel tips for Udaipur.

4. Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand


This is an oasis with bounties of nature all around. The undulating Himalayan peaks, lush landscape and pristine environment of Mukteshwar infuse the visitors with energy and romance. There are several luxury resorts where couples could spend a mesmerizing honeymoon. Head to Mukteswar during winters if the snow thrills you!

5. Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh

Snowfall in Dalhousie
Snow enveloped Dalhousie is awe inspiring making it a favored honeymoon destination in India in Winter
This is yet another natural paradise. Ensconced in Dauladhar Range of Himalaya, Dalhousie charms the visitors with its old world charm, natural abundance and ambience infused with the vibrations of the 'British Raj.

Couples on their honeymoon would really enjoy the promenade on the Mall Road which happens to be the center of town activities. An array of modern hotels has come up along with Victorian Mansions catering to the honeymooners and tourists alike.

Snowfall occurs after January in Dalhousie which is considered the best time for honeymoon here. The prescription for tourists in Dalhousie is to do nothing and for honeymooners that is exactly why they are in Dalhousie: do nothing but enjoy some of the best moments of life.

6. Kullu Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Kullu-manali is one of the topmost tourist places in Himachal Pradesh

A cluster of beautiful valleys, Kullu presents an enjoyable tourist spot where one can feel the rejuvenating warmth of Mother Nature. Its picturesque views dotted with snow clad mountain peaks, verdant grassy fields, soaring deodar jungles, gurgling rivers and the apple orchards are awe inspiring spectacles.

Orchard of apple and plum, vast expense of meadows and sweeping valley are the main appeal of this charming town. Manali, as with other popular tourist destination, the main town is a mess and crowded with tourists.

But there are always the quieter retreats in Vashist, Old Manali and deluxe properties in the outskirts of the town where couples could head to for more privacy and far for the madding crowd. And add to that a trip to Rohtang Pass for 180 degree view of the mighty Himalaya and frolic in snow, one of the popular activities among the visiting couples.

Besides there are adventure activities like rafting, paragliding as well as nature walks and various other activities available here. The salubrious weather condition throughout the year which gets chilly as the winter arrives makes Kullu and Manali one of the ideal places for honeymoon in India.

7. Goa

Tropical weather makes it one of the best honeymoon destinations in India in winter
Tropical weather makes it one of the best honeymoon destinations in India in winter
Sossegado and siesta is what Goa is best known for. And what could be a better recipe for an unforgettable honeymoon in India.

Renowned for its beaches and host of luxury resorts and hotels, Goa is one of the top honeymoon destinations in India. Indulge is various honeymoon spa sessions, water sports or just laze around the beaches with your spouse by your side.

Some of the popular activities in Goa include the exploration of the various beaches, evening cruises, visit to Old Goa and visits to an array of Churches and Cathedrals. Goa is also renowned for its vibrant nightlife and parties.

If you are looking for a bit privacy to enjoy your honeymoon in Goa, head for the far away beaches like Agonda. If you are looking for more privacy and serenity, go for some premium properties like luxury hotels and mansions who maintain their own private beaches ideal for honeymoon couples.

Varca (Radisson White Sands Resort and the Club Mahindra Varca Beach Resort), Mobor and Cavelossim (Leela Goa and Holiday Inn and Radisson Blue) are some of private beaches where honeymooners could spend romantic time together in some of the finest hotels in Goa.

Taj Fort Aguada is yet another fine resort for enjoying honeymoon in Goa with an array of exclusive feature and romantic packages and activities.

8. Srinagar

Shikara Ride Houseboat in Srinagar

Srinagar is city of gardens, and lakes. Surrounded by towering Himalaya, Srinagar has an unmatchable romantic allure and often referred to as Switzerland of India. Before the unrest began in 1980s, Srinagar was the top tourist destinations in India and even the Bollywood movies were shot in this very paradise on earth.

Things are again going back to normal and the flood of the tourists in recent years is compelling evidence. The romantic gondola rides in the Dal Lake flanked by distant mountain peaks, colonial houseboats moored all along the Dal Lake and an array of awe inspiring Mughal Gardens erected by various Emperors and their Prime Ministers are the prime attractions in Kashmir along with old Mosques and Shrines.

Owing to its natural splendor, salubrious weather and colonial charm, Srinagar has long been one of the top honeymoon destinations in India. Coupled with the duo of Gulmarg and Pahalgam, this triumvirate is arguably the best honeymoon destinations in India for all seasons.

Some of the must visit places in Srinagar includes the Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Garden, Chashme Shahi, Hazratbal Mosque, Old sylvan Mosque Jama Masjid and the Shankaracharaya.

Stay in one of the houseboat to travel back in time or splurge in one of the 5 star hotels overlooking Dal Lake. The most luxurious properties include The Lalit Grand Palace and the Taj Dal View.

Interested in going? Check out this special honeymoon package in Kashmir.

9. Gulmarg

Horse Riding in Kashmir
Horse Riding in Kashmir
Gulmarg translates to “Meadow of Flower” and if you happen to visit it in spring you’d know why it is called so. Gulmarg is an awe inspiring destination with lush environs, blooming gardens with wide variety of flower and fragrances. It's undoubtably one of the top 10 honeymoon destinations in India in winter.

Gulmarg is a heavenly place indeed and after the shooting of Yeh Jaawani Hai Diwaani, the demand for Gulmarg has also rose considerably as a romantic destination in India.

Gulmarg in Kashmir is renowned for skiing, gondola rides and lots of snow making during winter and romantic promenade in summer. It is an all weather honeymoon destination in India.

Some of the major activities in Gulmarg includes visit to Alpathar Lake and St. Mary’s Church, Gondola Ride, skiing and golf.

The newly opened The Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa is the finest five star hotels in Gulmarg. Yet another luxury property is the Gand Mumtaz, offering elegant and luxurious accommodation.

10. Shimla

Honeymoon in Shimla

Shimla is often referred to as the Queen of Hill Station in India. Such is the beauty of this nature’s paradise that British made it their summer capital. Till this date, the echoes of the British Raj reverberate in the ambience and architecture of Shimla.

Weather of Shimla remains salubrious throughout the year and winter also see snow cover blanketing the landscape and hills adding to the romance of this sleepy little town.

Enveloped in oak, pine and rhododendron forests, Shimla is renowned for its colonial architecture, the historical Himalayan Mountain Railway connecting Kalka - Shimla and pristine charm making it one of the top 10 places for honeymoon in India in winter.

If money is not the constraint then there are several plush five star hotels and resorts offering perfect refuge to couples looking for romance surrounded by nature in serenity and ample privacy.

There’s the Wildflower Hall by Oberoi located in the outskirts of the city. The view of the surrounding cedar forests and snowcapped peaks add fine touches to couples looking for romance and seclusion.

For couples, activities like romantic promenade through the forest, cozy picnic packages and the outdoor Jacuzzi is perfect way have an unforgettable honeymoon experience.

Also check out Magical Himachal Tour, an ultimate tour itinerary to uncover romance of Himachal

Our Expert Recommendation:

Luxury Train: Maharajas' Express

Maharajas Express - Mayur Mahal
For the connoisseurs of luxury, one of the unique experiences to celebrate honeymoon in India is to board one of the luxury trains. Maharajas’ Express, voted World’s Leading Luxury Train, is the best bet for an elegant and romantic honeymoon experience. Journeys from 3 nights to 7 nights crisscrossing some of the finest tourist places in India lets you have fun and romance on the go.

State of the art amenities such as Wi-Fi internet, attached toilet (Suites and Presidential Suites feature washrooms with bathtubs as well), round the clock butler service, live television, 2 dining cars, a bar and a lounge makes Maharajas’ Express one of the greatest rail journeys in the world.

If you are dismayed that Taj Mahal or Agra is not included in this list, you may want to check out things to do in Agra beside Taj Mahal which are in addition to the ultimate icon of love; the Taj Mahal.


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Top 10 Hiking Trails in India

“Know the unknown” and “tame the un-tamable”, these are very common tendencies seen in humans, from the beginning of the civilization. However, the eagerness to reveal the secret has resulted in amazing discoveries by the human race. Hiking trails in India are the challenges that are taken up by adventure enthusiasts to conquer their inner fear and experience the thrill.

Trekking is not about spending days but a lifetime experience. This post is an endeavor to list the top 10 hiking trails in India. These hiking or trekking trails are special. They are about the communion with nature, of soaking in the awe inspiring views and surrounding, about being lost in the trails and finding yourself, where even the reality turns out to be abstract.

Withour further ado we bring to you top 10 hiking trails in India in no particular order.

Pindari Glacier Trek, Kumaon

Pindari Glacier Trek
Pindari Glacier is an easy and scenic trek in kumaon himalayas. Photo courtesy Ramesh Kumar Mumukshu
In Kumaon region, Pindari Glacier is the easily accessible glacier and is praiseworthy for its own beauty. Located between the Nanda Kot and sacred Nanda Devi mountains, Pindari is a gigantic glacier of almost 0.25 km in breadth and 3 km in length.

Pindar River also springs from this Glacier and further gushes down and joins the Alaknanda River. This trek is also popular as “Soft Adventure Trek” and the adventure enthusiasts are enthralled with the magnificence of the lofty Himalayas.
  • Altitude: 3990 m
  • Duration: 11 to 13 Days
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Season: May to October (Avoid during monsoon)

Hemkund & Valley of Flower Trek, Garhwal

Hemkund & Valley of Flower Trek is a paradise for adventure seekers and nature lovers. The varieties of flowers, covering the valley, spellbound the visitors. The Pushpawati River also makes the valley a picturesque destination.

There are over 520 species of flowers and thus, the valley was acknowledged as a National Park in 1982. Himalayan Black Bears, Brown Bears, Musk Deer, and beautiful birds and butterflies find natural shelter here. The trek also includes visits to the sacred lake of Hemkund, which is an important pilgrimage of Sikhs and Hindus.
  • Altitude: 3858 m
  • Duration: 9 to 13 Days
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Season: May - October

Roopkund Trek, Uttarakhand

Roopkund Trek
Photo courtesy TRAVELLERXPEDITION.COM
Located in the Chamoli district of Garhwal, Roopkund is one of the sought-after treks in India. The adventure enthusiasts could witness deep virgin forests, breathtaking campsites, gurgling rivulets, and surging meadows over the miles that gratify the soul of trekkers climbing 5029m from the sea level.

The lake of Roopkund is also popular as the ‘Mystery Lake’ due to remains of horses and human skeletons, belonging to the Paleolithic age, found here.
  • Altitude: 5029 m
  • Duration: 7 to 9 Days
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Season: End May - October

Markha Valley Trek, Ladakh

Markha Valley Trek is one of the best experiences as the enthusiasts have to trek along the Markha River, flowing through the ‘Little Tibet’. These highest inhabited plateaus of the world remain secluded by snow, for months.

During the trek, the trekkers have to cross the Markha River and Ganda La. Trail through canyons, picturesque Ladakhi villages and barley and mustard fields imprint a long lasting impression on the hearts of enthusiasts. After reaching the height, one could explore the incredible vista of the Himalaya, the Karakorum, and Tibet.
  • Altitude: 5150 m
  • Duration: 12 to 15 Days
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Season: June to October
Here's more on Markha Valley Trek and planning your trip to this magical hiking trail in Ladakh.

Pin Parvati Valley Trek, Himachal

The Pin Parvati Valley Trek includes a journey to the monsoon swept slopes and flourishing greenery of the Himalayan foothills from High altitude Deserts was revealed by an English explorer in the 19th century.

The valley is also dubbed as “Valley of Gods” due to its location being cuddled up between the Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges.

The cold desert Spiti valley region also surrounds the place. The explorers have to pass through wild flowers, lush pine forests, and dramatic barren scenery. Most of the year, this region is covered under the snow. 
  • Altitude: 5319 m
  • Duration: 13 to 17 Days
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to strenuous 
  • Season: June to October

Dodital Trek, Uttarakhand

Morning at Dodital
Morning in Dodital. Photo courtesy Bricolage
The beautiful lake of Dodital is located at the backdrop of picturesque Darwa Bugyal. The lake has its association with mythological history.  

Dodital is also regarded as Lord Ganesha’s birthplace and the place where Lord Shiva beheaded the deity. The circumference of the lake is about 3 km and also serves as the source of River Asi Ganga, which further merges with the Bhagirathi River near Gangotri. 
  • Altitude: 4150m
  • Duration: 6 to 8 Days
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Season: May to October

Kumara Parvatha Trek, Karnataka

Kumara Parvatha Trek in Karnataka
Kumara Parvatha Trek in Karnataka
Pushpagiri’ is the common name for The Kumara Parvata Peak, which is located at the backdrop of Kukke Subramanya, an ancient shrine.

This is the 3rd tallest peak in Karnataka and cuddled within the high clouds, is the magnificent scenario of the Western Ghats. Heavy winds and dense fogs always cover the region. Beware during the trek as leeches and snakes are found in abundance.
  • Altitude: 1712 m
  • Duration: 1 or 2 Days
  • Difficulty Level: High
  • Season: October to Febuary

Har ki Doon, Uttarakhand

Har Ki Doon trek - One of the most famous trek in Garhwal Himalayas
Har Ki Doon trek - One of the most famous trek in Garhwal Himalayas
The Hanging Valley of Gods, Har-Ki-Doon is a treat for trekkers. This trek takes you to the least explored regions of Garhwal (Uttarakhand). The valley is adorned with wild Himalayan Flowers. The natural and colorful appearance of the valley during monsoon overwhelms the hearts of the explorers.

The trek makes the adventure seekers explore Sankri, Osla, Taluka, Datmi, and Seema. From November to April, the region remains either wet or very cold. Due to rich wildlife, this trek also wins the hearts of nature lovers.
  • Altitude: 3500 m
  • Duration: 12 Days
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Season: May - October

Indrahaar Pass Trek, Himachal

Towards Laqa enroute Indrahaar Pass in Himachal. Photo courtesy Nikhil Chandra
The magnificent trekking point, Indrahaar Pass Trek, in Himachal is not an easy trekking. But the stunning views of the Indian plains in the South and snow capped Pir Pankal Range and Mani Mahesh Kailash peak in the North more than compensates for the tough climbing.

The continuous climb over mountains takes one on an ill defined trail of Hindu religious places, finally reaching the beautiful Ravi Valley.
  • Altitude: 4342 m
  • Duration: 5 to 10 Days
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate
  • Season: May - June (Summer); Sep - Oct (Autumn)\

Churdhar Peak, Himachal

Churdhar - the highest peak in southern Himachal Pradesh
Churdhar - the highest peak in southern Himachal Pradesh
Churdhar Trek offers breathtaking scenery and unparalleled views while traversing the high altitudes of the Himalayas. The highest peak of Himalayas, Churdhar Peak is a sanctuary of alpine regions, hidden among vast temperate forests.

Numerous multicolored and agile Monals in the forests and pleasing trekking points at Sarain, Nohra, and Pulbahal attracts each and everyone.
  • Altitude: 3,647 m
  • Duration: 4 to 10 Days
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Season: March - June (Summer); September - November (Autumn)
Useful Tips for Indian Hiking Adventure
  • Get thorough information about the trek. Make sure you know the best time to visit, activities involved, route, etc.
  • Do not forget to carry a hat, hike backpack, waist packs, jackets, water bottles, hike tour route maps, sunscreen, binoculars, gloves, a pair of shades, and salt.
  • Do not head onto the unknown trek routes as that may lead to frustration and trouble.
Beautiful flora & fauna and picturesque sites are addenda to a successful hiking voyage in India. Shirk from watching television, sleeping, or simply sitting idle at home. Numerous hiking destinations are expecting you.

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Sun Temple Konark: A Travel Guide

Built in 13th Century, The Konark Sun Temple, popularly called as a Black Pagoda, is known for its magnificent architecture. The temple is built in the shape of an enormous chariot with elaborately carved stone pillars, wheels and walls.

Because of its astounding architectural significance, The Sun Temple in Konark in Odisha is included in UNESCO World Heritage Site. NDTV and The Times of India, both, also included the Temple in their popular list of Seven Wonders of India.

Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha
Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location: Konark, Odisha- 752111

Built by:
King Narasimhadeva I

Built in:
13th century

Highlights:
Architecture, interior and exterior drawings and paintings, Eastern gateway, Decorations, Nata Mandir, Religious processions

How to Reach:
The Sun Temple in Konark is located 63 km from Bhubaneswar Airport. From the airport, you can avail any means of transport to make your way to the Temple. It is situated at a distance of 31 km from Puri Railway Station. From the railway station, the tourists can avail taxis or cabs to reach the sun Temple. The roads are well connected to the Temple.

Best time to visit:
Due to the unbearable heat during the summers in Konark, the best time to visit Sun Temple in Konark is during comparatively cooler months of October to March.

Entry Fee:
Rupees 10 per person for Indians and 250 Rupees per person for foreign tourists (children up to 15 years free).

Timings:
All days of the week 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Introduction
The Sun Temple in Konark depicts Sun god traveling in his Majestic chariot and aims to bring together people from all section of the society just like the Sun God treating each and everyone as equals. The Audience Hall, Dining hall and Dancing Hall are simple glorious sight to watch. While a tourist enters the temple, he/she realizes that the face of the temple is in the East-West direction.

There are numerous trees surrounding the tree including mahogany, rosewood, eel etc. The temple had been ruined by various attacks done during earlier times. The uprooted stones and distorted images are still present inside the walls of the temple today.

Sun Temple, Konark
Sculpted Wheel at the Sun Temple, Konark
The numerous images prescribed on the Temple’s walls present various animals in a pose including giraffe, snakes, elephants etc. Multifarious mythological paintings have also been drawn on the walls of Sun Temple including those of Goddess Shakti , God Vishnu, Lord Shiva etc.

Lots of walls are also covered with erotic paintings putting on display women in extremely seductive poses and each of the paintings tells a story to the tourists.  The tourists can also view the remnants of Mahagayitri temple and Vaishnava Temple.

History
Built in 13th Century by King Narsimhadeva I of the Ganga dynasty, Konark temple is a stunning architectural feat. When the Muslim rule weakened in 13th Century after Mohammad Ghori’s death, Hindu kings fought numerous battles under King Narsimhadeva I. After his victory, to celebrate and remember this feat, the Sun Temple was built.

Konark Sun Temple in Konark, India
Entrance to the Konark Sun Temple in Konark, India
Some myths and legends are also linked with the construction of Sun Temple in Konark. It is believed that Samba, Lord Krishna’s son suffered from leprosy and to get it cured he did penance for continuous 12 years and worshipped the Sun God.

Impressed with his dedication, The Sun God or Surya blessed Samba with the Sun Temple to express his gratitude to him, after he completed his period of penance. He was also healed of his ailment by Surya.
There are also some legends regarding the temple that states that the Sun Temple, under her garb, possesses a magnificent aura of power in and around it.

The aura is supposed to be magnetic in nature, and the aura of power is considered to be due to the presence of two very strong magnets which were used for the tower’s construction. Some legends suggest that the king’s throne hovered in mid-air due to these magnets during king’s court sessions.

Konark Sun Temple,India
Carved Sculptures at the Konark Sun Temple
Other legends state that the magnetic effects pulled the vessels that passed through Konark Sea and caused huge damages. Also, the magnetic compass used to get disturbed by the powerful magnetic effects. The Portuguese sailors, to protect their vessels, carved out the iron columns and lodestones of the temple’s walls.

Because of this, the temple walls were destroyed as they lost their balance and fell down. Though, so far, there are no evidences to support these legends, they are very popular among the masses that visit the temple.
A major portion of the Konark temple was destroyed due to the continuous violent attacks by Kalaphad’s on Odisha. The general worked under the Sultan of Bengal named Sulaiman Khan Karrani.

Some Interesting Facts about Sun Temple
  • The Sun Temple is currently under ruins.
  • Surya, a popular deity in India since the Vedic Civilization, is the one to whom the temple is dedicated.
  • The Temple is of the dimensions 261 m by 160 m (857 ft by 540 ft).
  • The Sun temple is aligned in East-West direction.
  • Twelve pairs of exceptionally designed and beautifully decorated stone wheels are fixed in the temple. 
  • The idea to design the horses was to portray Surya or the Sun God himself driving a chariot. The head of Surya is supposed to be inside the garbhagriha.
  • On East side, facing the sea is the prime entrance of the temple, which is located in front of Hall of Offerings.
  • Traditional dance recitals are performed in the halls due to the presence of dancers and musicians sculptures on the walls.
  • The Sanctuary Tower, on Western side once had a roof in the shape of pyramid and was named as Jaganmohan.
  • There is a sculpture of Nataraja performing an exotic dance on the platform at the base.
  • A magnificent statute of Surya in green colored chlorite stone is carved out in the temple. 
  • There are numerous extremely erotic paintings and sculptures carved on the walls of the vast temple.
Interested in knowing more about the top 10 Temples in India? Click here

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Fair & Festivals in India in December 2016

December, the winter month, when there is cool and calm in the rest of the world, India comes alive with a joyous mix of traditional and modern feasts and festivals. 

Rejoicers could enjoy both electronic and classical dance music. The celebrations also include local and professional performers, international DJs, and a lot more. 

The Christmas celebrations in India are also with full zeal and enjoyment. Here is a small rundown of the feasts and festivals that are celebrated in India during the month of December:

Konark Festival
When: December 1-5 each year.
Where: Open air auditorium, Natamandir, near the Konark Temple.
The Konark Festival is managed and organized by Orissa Tourism. The festival features a gamut of classical Odissi, Manipuri, Bharathnatyam, Chau, and Kathak dance performances. An exhibition of Orissan temple sculptures and sand art exhibition are also the major highlights of the festival. The crafts fair is also organized. The Konark Festival is celebrated since 1989.

Hornbill Festival
    The Hornbill Festival gets its name from a bird. This festival is celebrated in a small and remote northeastern state of India, Nagaland. The major highlights of the festival are traditional arts, folk songs, dances, and games. In the evening, music concerts are also organized.

    The visitors could also buy some of the unique local handicrafts showcased during the festival. The tourists are required to take a permit to enter the state. Additionally, it is also advised to walk in groups of four or more. Thus, this leads to a major drawback in the celebration of the festival.

    When: 1 - 10 December 2016
    Where: Kisama Heritage Village (near Kohima Town), Nagaland.

    Feast of Francis Xavier
    Feast of Francis Xavier is an annual celebration organized to honor Saint Francis Xavier, who was the greatest Christian missionary to visit India. His body is kept in a casket in the Bom Jesus Basilica in Old Goa.

    People, every year, visit the church to pray and honor his burial anniversary. This festival is a large affair as the celebrations are witnessed several days before and after the feast. The morning mass at the Bom Jesus Basilica attracts worshippers from all across the globe.

    When: 21 December to 2 Jan 2016
    Where: Bom Jesus Basilica, near Panaji, Goa.

    Toshali National Crafts Mela

       Toshali National Crafts Mela is the best place to be if you are planning to shop some unique souvenirs and artifacts for Christmas decoration.This is basically a platform for the artists, weavers, painters, craftsmen and sculptors from India and neighboring countries to showcase their creativity.

      The rural market ambiance wins the hearts of the visitors. Food stalls and cultural programs are also organized to entertain the guests.

      When: Dates to be announced. 
      Where: Janata Maidan, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa.

      Shilpgram Art and Craft Fair 

        For shopaholics, Shilpgram Art and Craft Fair, held in Udaipur (Rajasthan) is a must visit. This arts and crafts fair invites more than 400 craftsmen and artisans from all parts of India to set their up stalls and showcase their artifacts. For the entertainment of the guests, cultural programs and folk dances are also organized as a major highlight of the fair. Moreover, this is one of the simplest and colorful way to enjoy rural India culture.

        When: December 21-30 each year. 
        Where: Shilpgram, near Udaipur, Rajasthan.

        Christmas

        Christmas here is more of a commercial affair than a religious festivity as the population of Christians is less than 5% of the total population of India. However, the guests will enjoy the traditional Christmas cheer in some regions of India.
        When: December 25 each year.   
        Where: Various locations in India.

        Sunburn Festival Goa  

          The Sunburn Festival Goa is the biggest outdoor dance party, organized at the Indian beaches. The 5th Sunburn Festival this year is expected to be double in size. This festival is popular for showcasing some of the popular artists and DJs from all across the world. The electronic dance music scene is celebrated for three days, over seven stages, with numerous musical genres.

          When: 27 - 30 December 2016
          Where: Candolim Beach, Goa.

            Mamallapuram Indian Dance Festival 

            The Mamallapuram Indian Dance Festival is an open-air festival, organized at Mamallapuram, with rock sculptures in the background. The duration of the festival is about a month. A huge range of folk and classical dances, from all parts of India, is showcased here during the festival.

            When: December 21, 2015 to January 21, 2016
            Where: Arjuna's Penance, Mamallapuram, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
              Mt Abu Winter Festival 

              Mt Abu Winter Festival is popular amongst the visitors as they get the opportunity to explore the spirit of Rajasthani culture and tribal life. Ceremonial processions, fireworks and folk performances are held for the entertainment of the visitors. Moreover, competitions like skating races, horse races, boat races, and tug-of-war are also the major highlight of the festival.

              When: December 29-31 each year. 
              Where: Mt Abu, Rajasthan.


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