Unheard travel tales of India to fuel your wanderlust.

Bustling cities, dusty remote villages, exquisite temples, lush tea plantations and fragrant markets , rich culture, traditions, religions and ethnicities, India is a unique mixture of eastern values and western freedom.

You might have travelled a lot of India, but do you know that there are some intriguing facts that make travelling in this country even more interesting.

 

  1. Varanasi – One of the Oldest Inhabited Places of the World.

varanasi

Situated on the banks of river Ganges, the holy city of Benares (aka Varanasi) is at least 3000 years old. According to Hindu Mythology, Lord Shiva founded Benaras or Kashi 5000 years ago and is a major religious hub of India and one of its holiest cities.

Did you know : Varanasi has a hostel where people come to die- Terminally ill people check-in  themselves in to ‘Mukti Bhavan‘ , to breath their last, which they believe frees them from the cycle of life and death (“Moksha“). All they have is two weeks to die or they’re asked to move on to make way for others.

 

  1. Shani Shingnapur – A Village without Doors.

shani-shingnapur

Attracting over 40,000 devotees each day due to a 300-yr old legend, Shani Shingnapur is a village in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The village is known for its popular temple of Lord Shani (Planet Saturn).

Did you Know: Its residents sleep soundly as they believe Lord Shani to be the guardian of the village and none of the structures, be it dwelling houses, huts, shops, etc. situated within one kilometre radius of this Lord Shani temple have neither doors nor locks. The villagers believe that thieves will immediately be punished with blindness, and anyone dishonest will face seven-and-a-half years of bad luck.

 

  1. Kumbh Mela Gathering.

maha-kumbh-mela

Crazy and chaotic are the words that best define the Kumbh Mela (or Grand Pitcher  Festival) .It is a spiritual event held once in 12 years in India Amidst the intermittent chanting of mantras, the heart rendering dance of the Aghoris and the holy ghats lit up with fiery diyas, the Kumbh Mela, will not just lend you with a day’s feeling but a mind boggling experience of a lifetime.

As per the Hindu mythology Kumbh derived from the Sanskrit word ‘pitcher’ had the ‘Amrita’ or the immortal nectar that had appeared during the churning of the seas (Samudramanthan). It is believed that the Gods and the demons had churned the milky ocean to obtain the nectar.

This year it attracted approximately 150 million people, breaking the record for the world’s biggest gathering. It has been inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Did you know: The festival is over 2000 years old! The first written evidence of the Kumbh mela can be found in the accounts of the Chinese traveller Xuanzang, who visited India during the reign of King Harshavardhana.

 

  1. The most visited place in the World.

golden

Awarded by the World Book of Records, the Golden Temple in Amritsar is the most visited place in the world with more than a hundred thousand devotees flocking at the shrine every single day. The largest langar (community meal) typically feeds roughly 40,000 people a day for free. On religious holidays and weekends, the langar can feed upwards of 100,000 people a day. All the diners have to sit on the floor, irrespective of caste, status, wealth or creed, symbolizing the central Sikh doctrine of the equality of all people.

Did you know: The dome of the temple is gilded with 750 kilograms (1653 pounds) of gold. The ceiling inside the main sanctum is made with gold and precious stones. The main hall of the Golden Temple houses the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of the Sikh religion. It is placed on a raised platform under a canopy studded with precious jewels.

 

  1. The Highest Motorable Road in the World.

Ladakhmotorable-road
The world’s highest motorable road Umling La or Umling La Pass greets you at Ladakh. The road passes through Umling La Top at an elevation of 19,300 ft. Bike enthusiasts, take note because little fact about India could bring about a new adrenaline filled adventure for you.

Did you know: 235 Kms from Leh, all civilians will need a permit from the Army and administration to travel through the pass.

 

  1. Lonar Lake in Maharashtra – Formed by a Meteor.

lonar

A 4-hour drive from Aurangabad and doubling as Maharashtra’s best-kept secret, this lake was formed by a plummeting meteor about 50,000 years ago. Travel enthusiasts must not miss this astronomical marvel and the temples around it.

Did you know: Also known as Lonar crater ,the lake is notified as the National Geo Heritage Monument and is home to thousands of  migratory birds.

 

  1. Mysterious Anti-Gravity Hills In Ladakh, Magnetic Hill.

Magnetic-hill-4

Located on the Leh Kargil Highway a small stretch of road defies gravity.Landmarked by a yellow notice board that spells out instructions and asks you place your car on neutral gear right on the spot marked by white paint, this one will leave you in awe as your car will begin to move uphill on its own.

Did you know: The magnetic force is so strong here that airplanes increase their altitude while flying over this region.

 

  1. Auroville an experimental township belongs to nobody, but everybody.

auroville

Auroville, an international township in Tamil Nadu and in some parts of Pondicherry, contributes in the progress of humanity irrespective of caste, creed, color and religion. Everyone is equal here and people live united. Once you visit this place, you will never wish to come back.

Did you know: The township runs on a concept of sharing, giving and exchanging , a cashless economy, much like the barter system.

 

  1. Ancient Hindu temple that was carved from a single rock.

ellora

The  Kailasa temple in Aurangabad is over 1200 years old and was carved from a single rock in Ellora. An estimated 400,000 tons of rocks were used to construct this monolithic structure. With bare hands and few hand tools, it is hard to imagine someone carving such an astonishing sculpture.

Did you know: The temple is double the size of Parthenon in Athens.

 

  1. A floating post office in Dal Lake, Srinagar.

floating

With the world’s largest postal system, India has post offices in some pretty unusual places. Inaugurated in 2011, in the Dal Lake, Srinagar, set in a huge houseboat is India’s first and only floating post office, believed to be the only one of its kind in the world!

Did you know: This heritage post office is a tribute to the already beautiful Dal Lake and houses the philately museum showcasing the fascinating history and stamp collection  and a souvenir shop that sells stamps, postcards, greeting cards and books on Kashmir.

 

  1. Step wells that take you to another world.

Chand-Baori-India

Baori or ‘Step wells’ are the wonder of ancient architecture which can be found all around India. There were around 3000 step wells built in North India, many of them in the arid states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. These baoris’ narrate the beauty of their era with their marvellous sculptors and artwork. These elaborately carved step wells all over the desert were used to store water. Rani Ka Vav, Gujarat is enlisted in the UNESCO world’s heritage sites. Chand Baori, Jaipur is one of the oldest ,largest and the most astonishing Baoris of India in terms of its architecture While most are now abandoned and some have fallen into disrepair, many are well-kept and incredible to look at.

Did you know: Many of these step wells were meeting places, especially for women, for many centuries, and the oldest date back to around 500 CE.

 

  1. The Living Bridges.

india-root-bridge

The ‘War-Khasis’ a tribe in Meghalaya, make the bridges entirely out of living trees, by training roots and vines of rubber trees, to grow across canyons and streams. Some of them estimated to be 500 years old. The beautiful thing about these bridges is, unlike the traditional bridges, these get stronger, as they get older. Although they take several years to create, but when finished they’re much more durable than wooden bridges, which would quickly rot in Meghalaya’s incredibly wet climate.

Did you know: It takes about 15 years for a new bridge to become strong enough to bear the weight of people.

 

  1. Delhi’s Khari Baoli is Asia’s biggest spice market.

indian-food-tours-in

Asia’s biggest century old spice-den is located in Delhi, very close to the Red Fort. This market has local, as well as exotic spices. It’s a unique experience for anyone to see large quantities of spices and traders accumulate in a bazaar and through shops which are located in small alleys and bylanes hardly a meter wide. Trade worth millions are carried out in a highly organized and strict orderly system.With the spice filled aroma in the air, you can practically taste it once you enter the market.

Did you know: This spice market was started in the 17th century and today is run by the 8th or 9th generation of traders since their first set up.

 

  1. Spa for elephants.

elephant

Every year a group of pampered elephants at the Punnathoor Cotta Elephant Yard Rejuvenation Centre receive elaborate spa treatments. The elephant yard is attached to the Guruvayurappan Hindu temple in Kerala, India. The elephants play a key role in Kerala’s legendary temple processions and with July considered a month of rejuvenation for humans and animals alike these ellies are certainly not complaining.

Did you know: The Punnathoor Cotta Elephant Yard was a former palace, which was converted into a sanctuary and renamed to Anakottaor Elephant fort.

 

  1. The Ghosts of Bhangarh Fort

bhangarh

Located at the borders of the Sariska Tiger Reserve in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, the Bhangarh Fort is not for the faint-hearted. Widely known as one of the spookiest places, this fort resides in a deserted area and has many legends behind the paranormal activities experienced here. Although it is open to the public for visit, however, many tourists have admitted that a creepy heavy feeling prevails in its atmosphere. According to local tales the fort is cursed into desolation by a tantric priest who wanted to marry the princess and couldn’t. Apparently if any villager tries to build a roof it mysteriously collapses.

Did you know: the Archaeological Survey of India has installed a board which mentions that it is prohibited to roam around the Bhangarh Fort between 6 pm- 6 am.

Love it or hate it! But when you explore this beautiful and exotic country India, she will change the way you see things.

 

Safe travels

Madhavi

 

 

 

 

PC: Lonely Planet; Travel triangle: BBC : Getty Images :NDTV: Conde Nest

 

 

My Travel Bucket List

Each day that we are alive, a page of our life is turned over, never to reveal itself again.

While most of us concentrate on our career progressions, how many of us actually take time to let loose and work on those little things that keep us truly happy, such as travelling to new destinations, exploring and learning about new cultures.

Haven’t you ever sat down and excitedly wondered ‘my next holiday will be in …….! Well what are you waiting for? Quickly grab your pencil and paper and write down your very own bucket list of the places that you absolutely want to see. And then go and make that happen. For Real

So far I have been fortunate enough to experience and tick off my list

The Taj Mahal, India  

The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt,

The Grand Canyon,USA,

The Stonehenge,UK,

The Auckland Bridge, NZ,

The Milford sound ,NZ 

The Christ Redeemer, Brazil.

But there are still a few places mentioned below which I definitely want to see and experience before I die.

  1. The Northern Lights

astronomy-aurora-borealis-nature-1663376

Right there on the top of my list is what every traveller’s bucket list should include. The Northern Lights, one of nature’s spectacular phenomenon. Believe me from what I have heard from friends and family who have visited them, it’s beyond magical. The Northern lights have the power to take your breath away. The dancing lights in the north and south hemispheres are nature’s way of providing us with a free light show. I just can’t wait to witness Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights in the North)

2. Cruises- Alaskan, Mediterranean. Caribbean – All of them? Maybe…Why not?

Carib cruise

Sailing into the sunset is one of the best ways to experience life. Cruises are definitely more fun, have more entertainment, amazing food and offer more than one destination to explore. Caribbean cruises to Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Martinique and St Kitts, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Mexico, Aruba, Trinidad & Tobago offer such a wide verity of destinations to explore.

alaska cruise

Cotton-white views, untouched ice scapes, breathtaking scenery, wildlife and some spectacular glaciers, I mean who wouldn’t want to see the spectacular fjords, glaciers and mountains along Alaska’s coastline.

medi cruise

From gorgeous Italy to sunny Spain, Turkey and the Greek islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Crete to destinations such as Venice, Rome and Sicily in Italy, Monte Carlo, St. Tropez and Barcelona. Mediterranean cruises offer activities for the whole family on board the cruise liner and ashore.

3. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

gbr

If you have a travel bucket list, I can bet my last rupee that The Great Barrier Reef will make an appearance! And why shouldn’t it? This largest living organism in the world is an intricate maze of colourful corals, unique marine life, turquoise oceans, and white coral sands. Spanning over 1400 miles, the largest collection of coral reefs in the world, can be seen from space, and it’s among one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Can you think of anything more defining than swimming alongside a school of large fish? The Great Barrier Reef is the place to go diving, offering a one-of-a-kind display of underwater life.

4. Eastern Europe

eastern-europe

What can I say about eastern Europe? Amazing cultures, budget friendly prices, unique cuisines, traditions and landscapes mixed with modern influences. And some of the “le crème de la crème” places such as Croatia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania . These are just some of the places that are a delight for wine tasting, historical sites, castles, cathedrals, museums, breathtaking natural beauty, and well-preserved architectural gems dating back to medieval times. Of course there are so many more hidden gems that will guarantee a holiday of a lifetime.

 

Do you have a bucket list of your own? Do share in the comments

 Madhavi ❤

 

 

 

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It’s holiday time

It’s that time of the year again. Summers are here and can the planning for a special family holiday be far behind? In fact some of the children have already decided where the family will go this year. They are after all the ones deciding the destinations ,aren’t they? While we all love taking the weekend or middle of the work /school days breaks, Summer vacays are a big deal. Like they say there are holidays and then there are the summer vacations.

While some destinations like Santorini and Phuket are done to death by over-crowding, people are always on the lookout for newer and unique places to vacay, places that bring out the storyteller in you.

So whether it’s the lofty peaks of the mountains, or the calm beaches, from adventure holiday spots to the sober quiet walking trails, that fascinate you, travelers will find that perfect holiday spot to quieten their wanderlust.

Listed below are some of the trending go-to places in 2019 in no particular preference.

Egypt – Egypt is emerging as the new art pilgrimage destination. The Egyptian Museum will have everything – bejeweled sandals, embroidered tunics etc. the Nile cruise with sailings of its boutique wooden boats, kitted out with art deco fixtures and leather deck chairs to sink into while gazing at Nubian sandstone cliffs and the teeming ancient tombs and temples of Luxor.

luxor.jpg

The Peloponnese, Greece– Forward thinking visitors are heading to the mainland and discovering the wide-open spaces of Greece. This laidback region has been a destination for wellness and fitness.

Peloponnese

The Scottish Highlands -Think big skies, mind-blowing landscapes, superb food and hospitable people ,the most beautiful and romantic castles in the world – and you’ve got the Scottish Highlands.

scottish

The Turkish Riviera-An area of southwest Turkey, the most stunning part of Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts with its perfect sun, clean beaches, ultra luxury resorts, charming nature, ancient history, good entertainment and nightlife.

turkey

Valle De Guadalupe-Mexico’s wine country. This boulder-strewn bronze sweep of Baja California has been luring wine-lovers and weekending West Coasters for some time. Known as Mexico’s Napa Valley, Guadalupe is a weekend getaway just 2 hours from San Diego and is known for its architect-designed wine tasting rooms.

guadelope

New Orleans -renowned for its distinct Jazz music, Creole cuisine, unique dialect, and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. The historic heart of the city is the French Quarter, known for its French and Spanish Creole architecture and vibrant nightlife along Bourbon Street.

new orleans

Tahiti-the largest of islands that make up the French Polynesia. Tahiti is a barefoot beach-shack island with smart new places to stay.

tahiti

Namibia -Sharp new lodges in the outback of the outback. With its otherworldly landscapes and elemental emptiness of the desert, of the dunes, of the savage Skeleton Coast, Namibia is famous for dune-climbing, beach-combing for whale bones and spotting seal colonies and Wilderness Safaris’

namibia

Patagonia– Quite literally at the end of the world. Patagonia has epic landscapes and with its increasing appeal being one of the least populated regions anywhere. With its unique wildlife, hiking trails and being a bird watchers delight, adventurers are drawn to the vast emptiness of its desert and the drama of its Lake District.

patagonia

Singapore –Sound and light shows and flash designer shopping malls. Singapore is more than just a stopover city, for its tropical British colonial grandeur and futuristic architecture, for street food in the night markets and night safaris, sundowners in Marina Bay Sands’ rooftop pool, and for its Slings at Raffles.

singapore

Israel– Shiny new trains, airports, and hotels are all catapulting the ancient land into the modern age as the rest of the country catches up with vibrant Tel Aviv.

tel aviv

And of course there are some of the faithful holiday spots in India that are on most people’s summer to-do list. One can always spend a good 4-5 days exploring and relaxing at these below listed hill stations.

auli

  • Manali– Manali is a popular backpacking and one of the most popular summer holiday destinations in India. Nestled idyllically amidst the Pir Panjal & Dhauladhar Range of the Himalayas, Manali has some cool adventure activities and holy places.
  • Nainital– The quaint hill-station is still a very popular hill station in India. Though the list of places to visit in Nainital is pretty long, the Naini Lake and the Naina Devi Temple attract the maximum number of tourists.
  • Mussorie– The varied flora and the lush green hilly lands attract a lot of tourists to the little fairyland. From shopping on Mall Road to cable car rides to Gun Hill, and from Kempty Falls to the Jwalaji Temple; the summer destination has a lot to offer to its visitors.
  • Kanatal– If you are looking for an offbeat summer destination then Kanatal is a quaint village located at a distance of 38 km from Mussoorie. It is surrounded by lofty mountains and is lush green. People who love camping will love this place .
  • Auli– Auli is a great town to be in during the summers. The majestic snow covered peaks and the lush green meadows are the highlights of this town. One can have a good time while indulging in many adventure activities. Enjoy the local sightseeing, delicious local cuisine, and wander around in this quaint town.
  • Shimla– The capital city of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is a favourite summer tourist destination. The cool temperatures make it an ideal spot to go to, as it is easily accessible and have a lot of tourist attractions.

maha

  • Panchmarhi– The only hill station in Madhya Pradesh, Pachmarhi is among the lesser-known summer holiday destinations in India. The decently high hills, forest gorges, stunning waterfalls, prehistoric caves, and rock paintings at Pachmarhi attract a lot of tourists every year.
  • Munnar– A perfect destination to spend your summer holidays in India, Munnar is famous for its salubrious climate, lush hills, and the vast expanse of tea plantations. With a myriad of things to do in Munnar, the hill station from God’s Own Country – Kerala –makes your vacations an ultimate peaceful and rejuvenating affair.

munnar

  • Kodaikannal– Kodaikanal is to Bangaloreans what Nainital is to Delhiites or what Darjeeling is to Kolkatans. Meadows, grasslands, waterfalls, valleys, forests, and lakes of the quaint hill station of Tamil Nadu make it one of the most popular summer holiday destination in India from the peninsula.
  • Ooty– Udhagamandalam, or Ooty, Located in the Nilgiri Blue Mountain hills, is often called the Queen of Hills. The famous toy train takes you through the nearby lush hills. The little hill station also offers a lot of places to visit and adventure activities to its visitors.

goa

  • Goa– Goa is India’s most accessible destination and is eternally popular with tourists from both within India and across the world. It boasts laid-back vibes, some beautiful beaches, and a thriving party scene. Goa remains utterly charming, and fully deserving of its prominent place as the jewel in the crown of Indian tourism.
  • Mahabaleshwar– Perched atop a height of 1,372 m above the sea level, Mahabaleshwar is another ultimate getaway. The breath-taking views of the valleys and mountains, the colonial buildings, verdant forests, sparkling rivers, sonorous waterfalls, and Pratapgarh hillfort have been major crowd pullers. The scenic hill station is, without doubt, an ideal retreat away from the hustle-bustle and the punishing weather of Mumbai.

kodai

  • Darjeeling and Kalimpong are the best entries from the east of India. But what gives Kalimpong an edge over Darjeeling is that it is untouched and less frequently visited by people. Sitting on a ridge overlooking the Teesta River, the hill station is a perfect summer destination owing to its pleasant climate, magnificent views, and proximity to other tourist attractions. River rafting and visiting buddhist monestrey is a major draw in Kalimpong.

These are just some of the places you can enjoy this summer. The world is too large to just fit into a page.

So enjoy your dream summer vacation and make some memories to remember forever!

PS: Don’t forget to carry that camera.  🙂

Have fun

Madhavi

 

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