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Best time to visit Manali if you are a nature lover

Manali summers (March to June)

Manali, is a place that has so much to offer in terms of its location, food, gorgeous sightseeing, and incredible activities. Of course, Manali is a place that goes through a complete four season change all year round. All the dominant seasons of Manali have their own charm each year but summer is probably the best time to visit Manali. Due to the high elevation in this destination, you are exposed to cool and relaxing weather, even during a hot summer afternoon, while also not missing out on what the subtle chill has to offer.

Manali, during winter, is covered in thick rows of ice which is probably a beautiful sight to behold in itself. One might say, visiting Manali without experiencing the ice, is missing out on its full glory. Temperatures during this time can fall as low as sub-zero. On the other hand, visiting a hill station during monsoon might not be completely a good idea, although the smell of rain on soil is quite amazing in this hill station. During monsoon, hilly areas are more prone to landslides, therefore imposing restrictions on the local means of transportation, i.e. bus services are halted or temporarily shut down during monsoons.

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Seasonal Timing in Manali

Manali is surely one of the prettiest locations you can look forward to visiting in order to get closer to the natural aspects of a hill station. Each season in Manali has its own charms alongside a few expected setbacks, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to get around the same. Here is clear overview of the weather pattern in Manali so that you can plan your journey accordingly.

Manali summers (March to June)

March to June- Summer has arrived and it’s knocking on the door! While the temperature reaches a moderate scale between 10 degrees C and 25 degrees C, the nights can still feel a bit chilly, so be sure to pack your favourite woollens and a blanket to enjoy a campfire in. Summer brings its own set of enthralling and exciting activities like rafting on the stream, paragliding in the stern wind and trekking over the vast peaks along with other mountaineering adventures in the Solang Valley. All in all, you have the region’s gorgeous flora to keep you company during this time.

Activities 

There are a number of things to look forward to when exploring summer in Manali. The bright colours of the vast slopes is as refreshing to the eyes then as it is to the skin. These activities include:

  • Explore the natural beauty of Jogini Falls
  • Enjoy a pic nick at Rahala Falls.
  • Pay a visit to the mystic Hadimba Temple
  • Explore the enchanting Museum of Himachal Culture and Folklore
  • Take on some Yoga under the warm summer weather

Manali during the summer is probably the busiest time of the year. Tourists, travellers and honeymooners from all across India and abroad drop by at Manali during this season. This is the time when the weather is at its best and the comfort level is abundant. Your average high temperatures vary between 25-28 degrees C while low temperatures are restricted between 8-13 degrees C.

Sporty activities like paragliding, river rafting, rock climbing, trekking and so much more can be indulged in during this season. One of the major summer attractions for the visitors of Manali is the Rohtang Pass. You can also look forward to the renowned Hadimba temple festival while also being surrounded by gorgeous flora and fauna of the region in its full glory.  The lush greenery and the fresh atmosphere allows for this destination to be a relaxing and enchanting experience for travellers. During your visit, you should also make your way to the Beas Kund Trek, Vashishta Baths, Hampta Pass Trek and Van Vihar, with your adventure shoes on.

Manali Monsoon (July to mid-September)

Manali Monsoon (July to mid-September)

July to August- Up for a challenge in your years of traveling? Visit Manali during the monsoons. Although, the slopes are prone to landslides during this time, the price range of the hotels tend to drop 2 times below the usual! Of course, the entire region comes alive in this period as well.

Activities

Thehills are only ever beautiful as much as the rain allow it to be. The Manali rain can be beautiful to behold but dangerous to experience, so always keep in mind the proper precautions.

  • Pay a visit to Jogini Falls.
  • Visit Manu Temples and other enchanting monasteries
  • Trekking can be too endangering during this time

The time between July and August is when the monsoon clouds start calling. The region is exposed to extreme levels of torrential rainfall. The temperature of this region remains about 25 degrees C during this time. The heavy amount of rain can reach levels of around 200 mm which is why you would notice a decrease in tourist activity due to the high possibility of landslides. It is best to avoid visiting during this time of the year. The rain begins to gradually subside after September when the tourist population once again starts increasing. This would be the best time to enjoy those alluring hotel discounts.

Manali winters (October to February)

Manali winters (October to February)

September to February- As the monsoon come to a halt, the chill starts sweeping in from around the beginning of the month of October. During this time, the temperature begins to hover rapidly around -1 degree C. In order to enjoy this time without hassles, make sure you pack plenty of warm clothing, especially for the chilly nights ahead.

December to January- The slopes are now buried in thick ice blankets and the snow is as powdery as it is in Scotland. The vast stretch of the pure white snow is what makes Manali in winter a favourite among honeymooners. If you are an ice sports enthusiast or are simply up for an adventure, then why not try out skiing? There are special institutions that provide training to adventure junkies and tourists visiting Manali during this time.

Activities

The intensity of the sporting activity can sometimes depend on the thickness of the ice, or some other factors like the prevalence of an oncoming storm.

  • Take a stroll through the Rohtang Pass
  • If the weather is kind you can go on a trek to Beas Kund
  • Indulge in the hot water spring near Beas River.

September knocks but winter is already on the couch! The vast slopes of Manali will now begin to hide under immense sheets of ice all the way till the end of January. This the time to jump into the snow and start chilling, quite literally! The temperature is now open to fall below sub-zero, so be sure to pack all the good stuff from your collection of warm winter clothing. Experience the white paradise on earth with thick blankets of snow and a romantic icy background for honeymooners.

Adventure enthusiasts begin to flock to this location during this time. You can enjoy incredible sights like the Chandratal Baralacha Lake, Kullu, Manali Sanctuary, Great Himalayan National Park, Nehru Kund, and Jogini Waterfall. Also, Arjun Gufa and Rahala Falls are superior attractions to visit as well. For honeymooners to enjoy the cool ambience and the romantic aura, the period between November and February would be the ideal time.

When you are visiting Manali, almost nothing can go wrong. This is where the summer and the winter shake hands in unison and nature is in its full glory. If you are planning a trip to Manali, be it a solo trip, your honeymoon or just an adventure with friends, this destination will not disappoint you!

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Travel Tips

Top 3 Adventurous Things To Do in Honnemardu

Honnemardu

Be it the hues of the bewildering lakes, the vibrancy of rich wildlife, sprawling meadows, unending waterfalls, spell-binding views or ruins of ancient Hindu temples, Karnataka can charm anyone with its multitude of stunning places to visit. Few places in India can compete with its raw wilderness, absolute tranquillity, and the air of mystique. In the shadow of the heritage sites, Karnataka is home to some of spectacular lakes in India. The vast expanse of water is surely a treat to watch and its calm and tranquil surroundings have a very soothing effect on the mind. One such lake that is on the itinerary of every tourist is Honnemardu: Ideal Location For Picnic. Honnemardu, also known as “Sharavati Back Waters” is small hamlet by the Honnemaradu Lake cum Reservoir, and is like a live amusement park with ample water sports, just without any boundaries.

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Honnemardu: Ideal Location For Picnic

The snug village, having been engulfed in 1964 by the Liganamakki Dam, has been literally resurrected today. Nestled beautifully in the lush\=-greenery of the Western Ghats on one side and huge water on the other side, it is a nature lover’s paradise and a haven for water sport enthusiasts and adventure fanatics. Honnemardu is an ideal destination for a family picnic and is close to a host of ancient temples in Karnataka and lush forests, which make for a multi-faceted trip. Encompassing an area of 350 square kilometres, the popular Honnemardu Lake is one of the most beautiful man-made lakes in Karnataka, and here you can see water as far as the eyes can behold and beyond.

Located on the Bangalore-Honnavar State Highway in the Shimoga District in north-west Karnataka, which is about 400 kilometres from Bangalore, it is flanked by numerous hills and hillocks in the region that got submerged in the waters today form the islands that stand majestically in the stupendous lake. The road that takes you to the place provides some amazing views of the hills that overlook the Linganamakki Reservoir. Honnemaradu can be visited at any time of the year, and winter because of the pleasant weather is highly preferred for travelling and visiting this paradise.

Still untouched by civilization, the waters here are pristine and the locals here guard this gorgeous verdant setting ferociously. From taking a boat-ride in the turquoise waters in Honnemaradu to enjoying various water sports activities like coracling, canoeing, kayaking, and wind rafting, there is no dearth to entertainment options while in this amazing destination. Camping is permitted in the island nestled in the middle of the lake. Swimming, photography or playing water volleyball followed by one of the most beautiful & thrilling trek in karnataka to watch sunset-views completed by camp-fires and parties are the perfect ingredients for making Honnemardu an ideal location for a picnic worth relishing. Make a prior booking at the resorts before planning a holiday and do find out what activities are available since it largely depends on water levels.

Top 3 Adventurous Things To Do in Honnemardu

  1. Bird watching
  2. Trekking and camping
  3. Coracling and Canoeing

1. Bird watching

Honnemardu

Honnemardu is an exciting place for bird watching, and you can easily sit by the banks and watch and listen to the chirping of countless species of native birds and butterflies that fly by. Spot the European bee-eater, fairy bluebird, ruby-cheeked bulbul fluttering around and orange-headed ground thrush, among others. Beautiful colourful butterflies such as red Helens, blue Mormons, blue bottles and stripped tigers offer a visual treat.

2. Trekking and camping

Honnemardu

The forest in Honnemardu is an ideal place for trekking and camping activities. The wilderness provides the perfect setting to explore the natural beauty of the place, and adventure enthusiasts can try their hands at tent pitching, gathering firewood for the night’s campfire and shelter building. Sitting near a bonfire and enjoying a simple meal or lying under the starlit sky and hearing the soft sound of the waves can enhance the charm of camping by several degrees. This activity tests the spirit of the adventure seekers and is quite popular here. The activities at Honnemaradu camp are managed by a dedicated team of nature enthusiasts called ‘Adventurers’ who also provide decent food and accommodation. The group provides a unique opportunity to explore, learn and enjoy rowing and sailing various types of boats, giving an amazing boating experience to manipulate in the shallow waters of the lake. Besides, it is also a great opportunity to capture the essence of the place and soak in the magnificent early morning light, a very calm sunrise and a beautiful sunset into the cameras.

3. Coracling and Canoeing

Honnemardu

Coracling and canoeing are exciting water-based activities that can be experienced at Honnemardu. A coracle is a round traditional boat that can manoeuvre in the deep waters, and accommodate small groups of 4 to 6 people. The unique fact about these boats is that they spin wildly in a circular motion while in water. Visitors can have a lot of fun while rowing across the water in a coracle to reach the islands on the river. A canoe, on the other hand, is an open decked boat that can accommodate just 2 people, and riding a canoe requires the skills of balance and coordination. It is often a preferred craft among aqua enthusiasts visiting Honnemardu, and visitors can enjoy the fun of riding a canoe during their visit to the place. The safety measures are adequate, so you can ride in these without worrying. Life jackets are provided to one and all, and it is mandatory to wear them if you want to get into the waters. One could spend the entire day just floating in the inviting water and relaxing.

Travel Tips

Being a small village, all kinds of amenities are highly limited. Be sure to carry some medicines, warm clothes, ready to eat packed food items, swim-suits, sleeping bag, sunscreen and old cotton T-shirt and trousers. After which you will be set for an adventure like no other.

A trip to Honnemaradu will awaken the child in you, and though every tourist destination has a unique set of things to offer, Honnemaradu takes it a notch higher. Also, the site is set in the middle of a valley and a weekend getaway to this place is nothing less than an adventure camp. The wonderful weather, clear brisk air, the awe-inspiring views, and the adventurous activities attract hordes of tourists. The solitude and the quiet of the surrounding area is a soothing salve to one’s soul!

 

Travel Tips

Travel Tips to Undertake the Dzongri Trek in Stunning Sikkim

Dzongri Trek

When it comes to trekking, India is not devoid of trekking trails. The diversity in Indian landscapes gives the adventurers a variety of treks ranging from the Himalayan trails in the north to the dense forest trails of the Western Ghats in the South. For those choosing a trek in the Himalayan region, Dzongri Trek is a popular place to visit in Sikkim. Sikkim, known for its alpine weather and rich biodiversity, has a distinctive appeal owing to its snow-capped mountains, steep valleys, flower-clad slopes, one of the top monasteries in India, Kangchenjunga mountain range, forest reserves, and its organic and green initiatives.

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The Dzongri Trek

Dzongri Trek

The Dzongri Trek in Sikkim starts from Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve in Yuksom, a small town in West Sikkim known for its ancient monasteries, gorgeous landscape, beautiful rivers and waterfalls, scenic lakes and more. Known as the Gateway to Mount Kanchenjunga, it is host to the stunning Kangchenjunga waterfalls and a lot of enticing trekking trails that make it worth treading. Most treks stop at Tsokha, another small village with hamlets and tropical woodlands rich in rhododendron plants, oak and chestnut trees, alpine plants, and maple trees. Stopping here for a day would help those who want time to get acclimatized during this adventure in Sikkim. A 5 miles trek from here will take you to the mystic and vibrant landscape of Dzongri, situated at an altitude of about 4200 metres. Trekkers usually spend a day here and follow the trail back to Tsokha and Yuksom thereby finishing their trekking adventure.

The trek usually lasts for 5 to 6 days. Those who do not take time to get acclimatized can finish the trek in 4 days as well but it is not advisable. The best time to visit this trek is from March to April and from September to mid-October when the weather is known to be friendly for trekkers. Those who do not mind the cost can opt for a cook, tents, and a porter that would make a fully supported trek.

There are a few tips to consider before going on a Dzongri trek in Sikkim

  1. Carrying Enough Money
  2. Food and Clothing
  3. Medical Cares
  4. Carrying a Good Camera
  5. The Trekking Essentials
  6. Adhering to the Ecological Norms

1. Carrying Enough Money

Dzongri Trek

Most travellers refuse to carry a lot of money owing to the fear of losing it. While this still remains a concern, it is important to carry enough money with you while trekking in Sikkim since the small villages you stop at are extremely remote areas, and you may not always find cash in the ATMs there. So, if you are planning to hire local guides or porters or trekking gear with no ATMs around and no provision for swiping your cards having cash can be your saviour.

2. Food and Clothing

I agree that trekking bags need to be lightweight for the ease of travelling. However, the stops you make before you reach Dzongri might not offer you the kind of food that you like. If you are not satisfied by the simple fare like a cup of tea and packet of biscuits or a plate of Maggi or a bowl of rice and dal, ensure you carry some high energy foodstuff such as dry fruits and nuts, biscuits, and chocolate, energy bars, and other packaged consumables. These take less space and can be easily carried in a backpack without having to worry about spilling over. Do not worry thinking of the space and weight that the food items take. As you keep climbing, you would consume the items, and your bag would get lighter as well. However, do not litter the trail always carry a trash bag where you can keep all the wrappers.

Also required is a good water bottle that can be refilled from wherever you get potable water. I kept sipping water frequently during the trip to ensure my body is kept hydrated all along. Do not use plastic water bottles as Sikkim has strict policies against using plastic items. Buy a sturdy bottle and keep refilling whenever possible. Water from natural streams are deemed potable and I found many on my way to Dzongri.

3. Medical Cares

Dzongri Trek

While trekking high altitudes, mountain sickness can be a common concern to many. What follows would be headaches, loss of appetite, upset stomach and losing interest in continuing the trek. So, make sure to carry with you medicine for high altitude sickness. Inform your GP that you are undertaking this adventure and take his/her advice on what all medicines to carry along on the tour. Some essentials would include oral rehydration salt sachets, adhesive bandages, and medicines for resolving fever, stomach ache, and allergies. As you keep trekking, you would sweat a lot, and the oral rehydration salts or electrolytes can be of help by restoring the minerals and fluids lost from your body.

4. Carrying a Good Camera

The trekking trails you cover in the Dzongri trek in Sikkim are home to some exotic birds, and animals such as Bharal or the blue mountain sheep, Black Bear, Marble Cat, Barking Deer, langurs, and the red pandas. Those shutterbugs extremely serious about getting superior photos should carry a good digital camera to get the best out of the scenes. Since the trek gives majestic views of a few of the famous mountains including Mount Kanchenjunga, Mt Koktan, and Mt Thenchinkhang you might want to get some fascinating clicks to grab enough attention in your Instagram account. Also visible are Mt. Pandim, Mt. Kabur north, and Mt. Kumbhakarna while passing through deep gorges and rhododendron slopes. The mountain moss and lichen that you come across in the varied terrains while trekking in Sikkim are also worth clicking.

5. The Trekking Essentials

Dzongri Trek

Undoubtedly, the items mentioned above are essentials during any travel trip. However, there are a few basics that I carried along with me and would become useful during the trip. Invest in a good pair of trekking shoes or hiking boots, and two or three trek pants or trousers. Do not forget to buy lightweight and waterproof ones. The weather in Sikkim can be unpredictable at times, so you never know when it rains. While packing my backpack, I made sure to include a mosquito repellent, a cap, foldable tent and sleeping bag, matches, tissue roll, raincoat, a blanket and thermals, a few ready-to-eat meals, a dry sack, sunscreen, a travel guide, a flashlight, and extra cells for the flashlight. I also carried a hand sanitizer and a Swiss knife that became a lifesaver during my trip.

6. Adhering to the Ecological Norms

In a bid to end pollution by plastic, Sikkim has stepped forward by putting an end to the use of plastic bags. Make sure you adhere to the ecological rules and regulations during your journey.

While planning on a trekking trip, I had no hesitation in choosing Dzongri Trek in Sikkim since it is a short trek providing stunning views of some of the highest peaks in the world. It is an ideal route for those who do not have a lot of time to trek and also for those who are looking for easy to moderate trekking route in Sikkim. Low on time and still somewhat a newbie as a trekker I finally zeroed in on Dzongri for my trekking in Sikkim adventure. Accompanied by the guide I took on this naturalist paradise in Sikkim, which would later become the most memorable trek of my life and gave me the most mesmerizing visuals I have ever seen in my life.

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Take Back a Part of Shillong with you! 4 Souvenirs from Lewduh

Lewduh

The beauty of the North-Eastern states in India cannot be described in a few words. Known for its idyllic and tranquil surroundings and old-fashioned cottages, Shillong, a famous hill station and also the capital of Meghalaya, takes a special place in the hearts of tourists. The city has retained its cultural heritage and scenic beauty, despite changing powers. One visit to the place made me go spellbound by its charm and alluring backdrop, and I realized why it was popular amongst the European colonial powers of the Indian subcontinent. It is said that the European settlers referred to Shillong as the ‘Scotland of the East’.

Lewduh Bara Bazaar – Largest Traditional Market in Northeast India is known to be one of the popular places to visit in Shillong . Lewduh Bazar is what the locals call it and Bara Bazar is how the tourists know it. This market is one of the largest and the oldest trade centres in the Northeast and is managed by one of the traditional Khasi states named Hima Mylliem. Khasis are the indigenous people of Meghalaya. As its name suggests, it is a marketplace for the common people and is a collection of many traditional markets. April month is considered to be the best time to visit shillong , as the bazaar undergoes religious rituals and sees the installation of monoliths or ‘mawbynnas’ at the most protected area of the market also known as Khlieh Iew. The ceremony is conducted to worship the deity, U Blei Shyllong and to invoke his blessings.

Interestingly, most of the shops here are run by local women, and those shopping in Shillong find this unique and encouraging. One would wonder what things are on sale here, for it is being run by the local villagers. The marketplace is a one-stop solution for everything on your shopping list. The narrow alleys lead you to hundreds of shops that sell an array of items including seasonal fruits and vegetables, native and exotic spices, clothes and dress materials, handicraft products, meat, fish, and more.

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Of all the things I got to explore in the market, a few really caught my attention and I had no hesitation in taking home those souvenirs. Here are the 4 keepsakes I grabbed for myself:

1. Handwoven Shawl and Scottish Checks

Handwoven shawl

In Shillong Lewduh Bara Bazaar – Largest Traditional Market in Northeast India, there are shops selling Scottish Checks and handwoven shawls and stoles. Seeing those colorful shawls, I could not stop myself from buying the one that was the thinnest of all, just to make sure it would be of use to me. The shawls usually feature different patterns. Initially, they might look like some geometrical shapes or random patterns. But a closer look would reveal that the patterns are depictions of the specific tribe that has woven them. These shawls are the identity of the tribes weaving them. Chit-chatting with the shop lady gave me some insight into the making of these shawls, and of course the tribes associated with them. I also grabbed a Scottish check dress material and got it tailored into a plaid tartan skirt at the Darzi Gali.

2. Khasi Knives

For those in love with tools, Khasi knives would make great keepsakes. They are quite inexpensive and feature a metal blade attached to a split-wood handle to provide better grip. These knives are handcrafted by local craftsmen and are widely used by the Khasis to cut betel nuts and also for household purposes. It is easy to find a store at Shillong Lewduh Bara Bazaar – Largest Traditional Market in Northeast India that sells knives and other handy tools. Another impressive thing that I found in the store is a Khasi spade that I thought would make a great tool to cut lawn grass, bushes, and hedges. The Khasi knives are quite lightweight and easy to handle, and can also be used to do some heavy-duty chopping inside the kitchen.

3. Khasi Bows and Arrows

Arrows and bows

The people of Meghalaya have been practicing archery for centuries. The locals even have some fascinating myths and stories about this game. The Khasi people still believe that archery is a gift to them from God. Khasi bows and arrows from the traditional markets would make good choices if you have a flair for archery or are looking for ethnic showpieces to display at your home.

4. Bamboo Dalis

 

My shopping in Shillong at the Shillong Lewduh Bara Bazaar – Largest Traditional Market in Northeast India, got more exciting with a visit to the first bamboo store that I found. The store featured a myriad of bamboo dalis handcrafted with such perfection, just to my excitement. Even though it was never on my shopping list but I decided to splurge on these intricate handicrafts as I knew how great they would look as décor. The blinds are so artistic and visually appealing that I grabbed 4 shades to accentuate the wicker furniture in the balcony of my house.

Food

My shopping at Shillong Lewduh Bara Bazaar – Largest Traditional Market in Northeast India, did not end there. I still miss the bamboo shoot pickle and the long Khasi scrubs I bought during my shopping in Shillong. Meghalaya being renowned for its red plums, pears, and peaches, Bara Bazar sees a lot of customers buying these local fruits. Do not hesitate to grab a few and savour them before you leave the picturesque city. Also aromatic and authentic were the handful of local specialties such as turmeric, chilli peppers, and special masalas that I bought from the traditional markets.

 

To satiate one’s hunger pangs during the exploration of Shillong Lewduh Bara Bazaar – Largest Traditional Market in Northeast India, local restaurants, and eat-outs come to rescue. They serve a multitude of local dishes including dohkhleh or pork salad, pork intestine sausages, and flavoured rice. If you are open to experimentation then you can try some of the nutritious worm-based dishes that the locals swear by.

Although vibrant, do not expect a leisurely shopping experience in Bara Bazaar as the tiny alleys are filled with busy people and open drains. If you are going as a group, stick together as there are high chances of losing your way in this labyrinth. One look at the place can tell you how messy it can get when it rains. But none of these challenges mattered to me once I entered the extremely crowded bazaar, since nowhere else could I find local items for much cheaper rates and tailors swiftly and perfectly stitching clothes for an unbelievably meagre amount. This is how my shopping in Shillong adventure ended with money well spent on bags full of local handicrafts and goodies.

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A Shikara Ride on the Dal Lake is a Must to Explore the Heart of Kashmir

Shikara Ride on the Dal Lake

A dreamland for everyone who has been lusting for some relaxing moments amidst the breathtaking panorama of nature, Kashmir undeniably ranks on top. And at its heart lies the city of Srinagar, which has many glorious places that add to Kashmir’s array of perfect getaways and leisure destinations. The royal city of Nawabs is home to the magnificent Dal Lake, Shalimar Bagh Mughal Garden, Tulip Gardens, and Pari Mahal, among others.

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Srinagar’s Jewel – The Charming Dal Lake

 Shikara Ride on the Dal Lake

Dal Lake is one of the most prominent lakes of India.Dotted with numerous beautiful sights, the city looks amazing in a canopy of landscaped flowering gardens, crystal clear lakes, magnificent structures, and bustling markets. Amidst the heavenly view of a serene sheet of water, stands Srinagar’s jewel, Dal Lake. This hillside lake is synonymous with the carved colourful wooden houseboats drifting casually through the placid waters and the misty peaks of the neighbouring Pir Panjal Mountains. The beauty of this pristine lake, spanning over 22 square kilometers, grows bountiful around every corner. Engulfed in this beautiful world, lies one of the most exhilarating things to do in Srinagar, taking a ride on the ‘Shikara’ or the small wooden carved boat, usually seen at Dal Lake and Nagin Lake.

Shikaras are long boats that crowd the Srinagar lakes and are extensively used to getting back and forth from the houseboats, for daily travel or for boating tours. They are well maintained and equipped with safety parameters like life jackets and lifebuoys, and it is worth taking a ride around the lake in these Gondola-type lightweight rowing boats.

Regaining the old world charm, the swift movement of a Shikara provides a unique way to experience the eternal beauty of Kashmir. One can but fail to witness the beauty of the flotillas of gaily painted Shikaras ferry around the lake, transporting goods to the market, kids to school, and travellers to delightful houseboats inspired by originals from the British era.

 Boating on the Dal Lake

 Shikara Ride on the Dal Lake

Boating in Kashmir can be one of the most soothing, restful aspects of a holiday in Jammu and Kashmir. The 2-hour boat ride, which can cost variably depending on your bargaining skills and the type of shikara, takes tourists on a soothing sightseeing tour of the interior parts of the calm waters of the Dal Lake and several other things to do and places to visit in Kashmir built in its vicinity.

A Shikara ride on Dal Lake Kashmir is a thrilling experience and a fun adventure for anyone who seeking a mix of nature and adventure in Srinagar. Get wooed by the panoramic vistas of the Zabarwan range and the vastness of the lake, symphonized with the curling waves formed by the shikarawala’s rowing.

The prolific beauty of the surrounding mountains combined with the scintillating waters of the lake is an experience beyond words. The beauty of this place is especially mesmerizing during the sunrise and sunset. The wooden boats with pointed ends on both sides with beautiful canopies overhead are a cultural symbol and seen only in Srinagar.

This is a ride that will build memories of a lifetime for you and your family and friends. Hence it is worth every penny to take this mesmerizing ride on the Dal Lake of Srinagar in a Shikara. Dal Lake also enjoys a good location, and is easily accessible from the rest of the city and well connected by local transport, taxis, and autos. And once you are here by the lakeside, you can also go explore other tourist places of Srinagar.

Shopping Facilities

A unique Shikara Ride on Dal Lake Kashmir is not complete without a shopping experience in that of the lively lake market. This market includes a number of shops located right in the middle of the lake. The shops sell all sorts of goods including Kashmir’s specialties such as wooden artifacts, handmade earrings, carpets, Kashmiri handicrafts, saffron, and even Kashmiri ponchos and shawls.

 Added Attractions

 Dal Lake

There are three islands in the lake separated by the causeways that in itself is a major attraction. Houseboats with swimming facilities are allowed during summer and can be very refreshing. There are other interesting places to visit near Dal Lake, in particular, the pleasant Mughal gardens, ancient temple of Shankaracharya, the Island of Char Chinar, Nagin Lake, Chashme Shahi, Hazratbal Shrine, and Mazar-e-Shura Cemetery.

Dal Lake also serves as the best place for film shootings and photography enthusiast. The beautiful floating gardens of Dal Lake bring in people from all over the world to spend a relaxing time exploring the gentle waves of the water, the lush greenery around and the rocky terrains. Besides, the unique experiences associated with a Shikara ride also includes bird watching. The white-breasted kingfisher, pariah kites, little grebe, and other large striking birds with robust bills can easily be spotted on the branches of willow trees while enjoying boating in Kashmir.

Shikaras boats are the perfect medium to enjoy a delightful ride across the lake, and is a must go to if you are visiting Kashmir. The other thing, that draws tourists to the waters of Dal Lake are the houseboats or the stationary boats that serve as accommodation for anyone who would like to spend some quiet days staying on the lake. With a view of the Dal Lake in the background, they provide the most exquisite views of the lake and its surrounding mountains. Made from superior quality wood with intricate carvings and floral motifs, they range from a simple one-quarter affair to large lavish suites. The interiors are beautifully embellished with Kashmiri carpets, crystal chandeliers, and plush furniture, and they also offer tempting home – cooked meals, top-notch facilities such as hot tubs and Wi-Fi, and endearing customized services.

Best Time to Visit

 Dal Lake

The best time to visit the Dal Lake is during the months from May to November when the weather is pleasing and you can appreciate the heavenly sight of a cluster of pink and white Lotus flowers adorned by the water droplets amidst the lake. Summer is also ideal for boating and a pleasurable evening sojourn, making it a perfect place for some leisure. During winters, the water of the lake becomes extremely cold and is perfect for ice skating on the frozen Dal Lake, which in itself is a wonderful activity to pursue under Kashmir’s winter sun.

Spending a day on the calm waters of the Dal Lake is one of the most relaxing things many visitors can do in Srinagar! It’s hard to say no to a day on a Shikara to explore the nooks and corners of the scenic Dal Lake against the backdrop of the snow-covered mountains. We hope you enjoy a Shikara Ride on Dal Lake Kashmir and have an amazing experience that creates fantastic memories.

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Adventure and Natural Beauty Await You in Karighatta

Located off the Bangalore-Mysore Highway just before the ancient town of Srirangapatna in the southern state of Karnataka, the small and beautiful hillock destination of Karighatta offers just the perfect enigmatic yet quaint mysticism along with a little thrilling adventure. Riding or trekking on the serpentine road leading to this mystic hill is an experience to behold. It offers incredible scenic views of the surrounding landscape. This view comprises of verdant patches of grasslands and lush green meadows, tamarind, gooseberry and mango trees that are found in the dense forests lining of the Mysore Chamundi Hill, beautiful sections of Srirangapatna, swaying paddy fields, coconut trees, canals and enchanting views of other hills like Kuntibetta. The place is blessed with rich flora and fauna and interesting rock formations as well.

The mention of Karighatta can be traced back to ancient texts like the Varaha Purana where the name of this hill town has been referred to as Neelachala or Blue mountains. Located at an altitude of 2,697 feet above sea level and overlooking the confluence of river Cauvery and its tributary river Lokapavani, Karighatta: Black Hill is replete with tranquil lakes and hilly topography and is perfect for bird watching enthusiasts, trekkers, and nature lovers or casual holiday seekers. The ruffling sounds of the Lokapavani makes a sweet noise as it flows past the colourful flowers and greenery, which increases the spiritual aura and divine essence of this place.

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Major Attraction – Karighatta Temple

Karighatta

Karighatta Temple or the Srinivasa Temple are one of the famous temples of karnataka , and the views from here are absolutely stunning. The main deity of this temple is a form of Lord Vishnu called Karigirivasa. Locally the deity is also referred to as Lord Srinivasa or Bairagi Venkataramana. The second name has been derived due to the fact that when the deity is decorated with flowers, he is said to look like a mendicant or Bairagi. Locals believe that devotees, who perform pooja or rituals here, can bring about a positive change in their lives and be relieved of their troubles.

You can either reach the religious site by climbing 450 steps or by taking your vehicle to go up the winding road that leads up to this temple. Its entrance is marked by huge wooden doors that lead to the main shrine. The quadrangular temple complex is huge and well maintained and houses the main idol. The beautiful idol of Lord Vaikunta Srinivasa stands 6-feet tall is made of black stone. Flanked by the idols of Yoga Srinivasa and Bhoga Srinivasa, the main idol in the shrine is said to be installed by Sage Brigu. There is a separate massive statue of Garuda, the mount of Lord Vishnu, also known as Garudasthambha facing the main idol and a separate sanctorum of Goddess Padmavathi, consort of Lord Srinivasa. The temple also encloses a Kalyana Mandapa or marriage hall, which is widely used by locals for performing marriages and other religious functions. The Dravida style of architecture is reflected in the unique style of Gopurams and Kalashas inside the temple.

The Karigirivasa Temple takes on a completely vibrant form during the annual Rathotsava and traditional car festival that is held annually in the months of Kumbha Masa Palguna (February and March). The festival is said to have been initiated by sage Vaikhanasa from as early as the Treta Yuga and is attended by a large number of pilgrims from across the region.

The land near the temple complex is dotted with plentiful long stemmed grass (E cynosuroides), also known as ‘Darbe’. As per legend, Lord Vishnu during Varaha avatar landed on this hill and shook his body and some of his hair fell here, which later grew into these sharp Darbe. This long stemmed grass is used for most of the Hindu rituals and offered as prasadam instead of flowers to devotees who come here. During the summer months, these grasses dry up and turn dark brown due to the excessive heat. This renders the entire hill a smoky black appearance which gives the hill its name Karighatta: The Black Hill.

Other attractions

Karighatta

The hillock and the narrow valleys through which the Cauvery and River Lokapavani flow have been featured in several Kannada and Tamil films and TV serials owing to the captivating views. The rivers and its small tributaries flow at a fast speed along the narrow valleys and are surrounded by trees and numerous small shrines all along the bank. The eastern part of the hill offers a trail with huge boulders and trees that leads right to the summit and provides the perfect spot for the adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts, and shutterbugs.

Among the wildlife spotted here are leopards and deer and various species of birds and butterflies that can be seen in various parts of the hill, which makes it a treat for wildlife and bird watching enthusiasts.

The place is also popular for capturing the breathtaking golden sunset. When the sun goes down in the evening, the famous Sunset Point atop the hill, which turns the entire horizon bright red with patches of clouds and reflects the silvery surface of the rivers, is a must visit. The majestic sight will remain entrenched in your minds forever.

It is not just religion that attracts visitors to this beautiful abode but the scenic beauty and immersive experience close to nature that draws tourists from neighbouring cities like Mysore (25 kilometres) and Bangalore (126 kilome   tres) over for the perfect weekend getaway.

Travel Tips

Karighatta

Make sure to cover your head and carry enough drinking water if you are planning to walk up the hill. Also, if you want to enjoy the panoramic view of the hill and see the colourful birds from close quarters, don’t forget to carry a binocular along. As this place offers many insta-worthy moments carrying a camera is a must to capture the incredible beauty of this place.

A visit to Karighatta: The Black Hill is not just for those who are religiously inclined but for anyone who is on the lookout for offbeat natural wonders in India. Words cannot truly describe the feeling one gets when you finally arrive atop this hill and get a glimpse of the enchanting views and the tranquil ambience. Whether you are a solo traveller, nature lover, religious devotee or on a family trip Karighatta on the banks of river Lokapavani is a gorgeous place to visit and explore.

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Trying White Water Rafting on the Kameng River in Arunachal Pradesh

Kameng River

The dense forests and steep hills of Arunachal Pradesh merging into the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayan range offer ample opportunity to travellers for adventurous activities. Whether you undertake a trek to the remote mountain valleys or engage in some exhilarating white water rafting, Arunachal Pradesh does not disappoint the thrill seekers and the nature lovers. One such offbeat adventure in Arunachal Pradesh that you need to try is river rafting on the Kameng River. This unexplored white water rafting destination is sure to kindle the dormant adventurous spirits in you.

True, the lush green rainforests of Arunachal Pradesh surround some of the most exuberant rivers in the world with challenging white-water current. Nevertheless, it is not just the challenge of negotiating the exuberant waters of these rivers that the rafters fall for. The mesmerizing views of the rainforest on the slopes of the mountains, the stunning gorges, and the chirping of exotic birds complement the thrill of manoeuvring the grade III and grade IV rapids.

Enjoy the thrill of riding through the exhilarating rapids on the Kameng River while passing through lush green rainforests and tiger reserves. So if you are seeking an adventurous experience in the state of Arunachal Pradesh then rafting on the Kameng River is a must!

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Origins of the Kameng River

Kameng River

Kameng River originates from the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh and was previously known as Bhareli River. It emanates from a glacial lake below the snow-capped Gori Chen Mountain along the Indo-Tibetan border and flows through Bhalukpong in West Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh with the haughty exuberance of a young river. It then goes to Sonitpur District of Assam. It is also a major tributary of Brahmaputra River and joins this mighty river at Tezpur in Assam. However, what makes this an ideal river for some exhilarating and enchanting river rafting is not just its exuberant flow, but also the verdant nature that populates its shores, near or at a distance.

Kameng River is situated at the border of East and West Kameng Districts as well as the boundary between two sanctuaries – Sessa and Eaglenest – to the West and one tiger reserve – the Pakke Tiger Reserve – to the East. To the east of the river is situated the Dafla Hills and to the west is situated the Aka Hills. All these make Kameng a fascinating, medium volume river with mesmerizing sights on the shores and challenges to negotiate during rafting. There are some surprisingly real deep gorges, consistent rapids, pristine rainforests, and fun camps along the flow of the river.

Kameng River Rafting Arunachal – A Lesser Known Adventure

Kameng River

The river has only recently been opened for white water rafting and since then this offbeat adventure in Arunachal has mesmerized rafters with its challenges and natural sceneries that one can observe while travelling through the lush rainforests.

Rafting in the Kameng River usually takes place in the Seppa to Bhalukpong route. Seppa is the headquarters of the East Kameng district. Lying by the Kameng River, this town also has a helipad and is connected to Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, and Tezpur in Assam.

Camps are usually set up at Marjangle for briefing about the route and challenges one has to encounter during a Kameng River Rafting Arunachal – A lesser known adventure. Marjangle itself is a beautiful beach where you can take a walk and behold the sight of rre birds while getting ready for the expedition with all the equipment including the raft. You will start feeling the thrill the night before you set on for the expedition.

Seppa is chosen as the starting point since here the river is comparatively calm. You would cross just a few rapids, which are pretty easy ones for an experienced rafter, and drift through the thick canopy of foliage. As you drift downwards, the river starts unfolding its true character. You would encounter some really thrilling grade IV rapids, which you need to cross quite deftly. Indeed, these are vigorous rapids to encounter in any white water rafting, especially during the initial legs of rafting.

 During a Kameng River Rafting Arunachal – A lesser known Adventure, you don’t just encounter rapids, but also pass through some stunning gorges offering spectacular views. Once you have negotiated the grade IV rapids, grade III ones will appear that are more fun providing a bouncy ride since by that time new rivers and streams start pouring water into the river. After leaving the first gorge, you can rather sail through the Seppa town. You can pitch a camp here on the beach. With new mountain streams of various sizes and origins emptying into the Kameng River, this spot calls for some rest and enjoying the enchanting natural surroundings. It is an ideal place to laze around, walk, and to explore the remote gorge. You can also get to see some rare birds and do some fishing in the river.

From here on the volume of water increases as the Kameng River is joined by the Bichom River. The grade IV rapids become more treacherous and they will really test your mettle. In fact, you may need to do some scouting before negotiating the rapids in the gushing river in this offbeat adventure in Arunachal.

Kameng River

The view of the dam site and the white water during the course of negotiating the rapids and gorges nourishes the adventurous element of rafting on the Kameng River. On the last day, you will encounter a stunning gorge and a number of grade III and grade IV rapids. You will reach Bhalukpong on the last day of the rafting where the river enters the plains of Assam and becomes slow.

 Rafting is one of the most thrilling ways to explore the expansive beauty of Arunachal Pradesh. The Kameng River is one of the rafting zones across the state that provides travellers with the opportunity to partake in white water rafting. Comparatively, unexplored this white water rafting adventure is uncrowded allowing you to enjoy the pristine waters, rainforests, and gorges freely. Many local adventure companies offer exciting rafting packages that you can book online. Best time of rafting on the Kameng is from the middle of September to the end of June. So plan and book your trip accordingly and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime!

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Discover the Extravagant Water Palace of Agartala – Neermahal Palace

Neermahal Palace

The icon of Agartala, the white-marble palace seemingly floating on the Rudrasagar Lake is extraordinary, with open-air courtyards, lotus ponds, and majestic architecture. ‘The Lake Palace of Tripura’ or the Neermahal Palace reflects the history of its past glory and casts its spell on the mind of all those who visit it. It is famed for being the largest palace of its kind in India and the only one in East India. This architectural beauty derives its name from its location and is a picturesque fairytale royal mansion located on an island right in the middle of the Rudrasagar Lake.

The awe-inspiring view of Rudrasagar and the surrounding lands add to the stark beauty of the Neermahal Palace and make it the most serene sight in Agartala. The light white coloured stone walls of the palace are at stark contrast to the deep blue of the waters of the lake, while from the innards of the palace lush foliage sprouts. A stunning amalgamation of manmade and natural beauty a visit to Neermahal Palace in Tripura is a definite must for anyone who is a fan of history, architecture or nature.

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When and Who Built this Wonder?

Neermahal Palace

This massive palace was the result of nearly nine years of hard work and dedication by the British company Martin and Burns and was completed under the aegis of the then Manikya ruler, Maharaja Bir Bikram. The grandiose palace was built in 1930 A.D. as Maharaja Bir’s summer residence. Maharaja Bir was a very progressive ruler who aspired to blend the tribal community with modernity by building great infrastructures and Neermahal Palace is said to be one of his most wonderful creations.

 Architecture

Neermahal Palace

This architectural marvel with its high ornate structures has a lot to showcase to its visitors. The surrounding lawns, the greenery, and flower beds add another level of magnificence to the beauty of this place. Neermahal Palace is noted for its resemblance to the enchanting Jag Niwas or Taj Lake Palace in Pichola Lake of Udaipur in Rajasthan.

The architecture and the dome-shaped minars lend the palace a fort-like look, and even today visitors are spellbound by its magnificent presence. The majestic palace is a perfect mélange of Hindu and Muslim architecture. Surrounded by water the palace looks more enchanting during the night time when its reflection can be seen on the lake. Built with sandstone and marble, the royal residence and its splendid balconies, pillars, rooms, ornate walls, bridge, and pavilions make it an architectural splendour to behold.

The spectacular edifice encompasses beautifully laid gardens and flood lighting that add colour to its grandeur beauty. Embracing the royal residence building are the rich green yards and brilliant bloom beds that amplify the overall look of this historical building.

 The Palace Design

The palace is divided into two parts, the Andar Mahal, which lies in the Western part and an open-air theatre, which lies in the Eastern part of the palace. Andar Mahal served as the royal family’s private residence while cultural activities and performances like drama, dance and music took place in the open area. The 400-meter long palace houses 24 rooms and 2 staircases that are built in a way that they land directly onto the Rudrasagar Lake. The rooms are hung with breezy silks and filled with carved furniture and overlook the lily-filled lake.

Neermahal Palace, Agartala is a masterpiece of brilliant architecture that showcases the striking white marble building with notable courtyards, terraces, gardens, and fountains. The rooms are exquisitely designed with crystal artworks and stained glass works, and some of them even have wonderful paintings and artifacts, which date back to the ancient era.

Boating To The Neermahal – Agartala 

The erstwhile Maharajas used to travel to and from the palace by hand-powered boats known as Rajghat. Boating facilities are easily available here where you can either opt for a ride on a motorboat or a normal boat to reach the Neermahal Palace. The views of the magnificent palace that one gets while wading through the calm waters of the lake is an experience to remember. For bird watchers, one will get to spot many colourful migratory water birds on the route. Thus, boating to the Neermahal – Agartala is an adventurous yet calming activity to partake in.

Neermahal Water Festival

Neermahal Palace

Every year in the month of August, the Government of Agartala organizes a three-day long ‘Neermahal Water Festival’ where visitors from nearby states flock the palace to witness and participate in several exciting events like boat race, swimming or fishing competition, and other small festivities. Delectable food, cultural programmes, scenic surroundings, and the beauty of the palace make this festival a big attraction for locals and tourists alike. Besides admiring the elegance of Neermahal, one can indulge in some motorboat riding or catch glimpses of the migratory birds in the lake.

How to Reach

Neermahal Palace is 53 kilometres from the capital city of Agartala. One can just hop on to a shared taxi leaving for Melaghar for as low as INR 30. From Melaghar taxi stand, Neermahal is just a 5-minute drive by an auto or cab. There are shared taxis that ply from Melaghar to Agartala at every short interval.

Best Time to Visit Neermahal Palace

The palace looks its best between the months of October to March. This is the time when you can escape the ceaseless rains. You can also visit Neermahal Palace during the month of April to experience the Neermahal Water Festival or in December for the Neermahal Festival.

Neermahal is one of the most enchanting tourist places in North East India and an inspiring structure that has clearly stood the test of times. The fusion of Hindu and Islamic style of architecture imparts it a unique look and makes it one of the mesmerizing water palaces in India. Boating to the Neermahal – Agartala is an experience that should be on every person’s bucket list when exploring the North East. It is worthwhile to visit the only floating palace in East India and appreciate its ornately designed stunning architecture that gets reflected on the waters of the Rudrasagar Lake. Make sure to visit this spectacular palace to discover yet another architectural marvel that is a reflection of the rich heritage of India.

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Lose Yourself in the Natural Beauty of Agumbe

Agumbe

The spectacular beauty of the Western Ghats is not limited to mountains and rivers. It is also known for its unique biodiversity, thick foliage, and quaint settlements.

Agumbe, a small village in the Shimoga district of Karnataka, is situated in this naturally bestowed region of Western Ghats. The unique and abundant natural beauty of this place has made it a perfect place for nature lovers and even adventure seekers. Travellers just love to get lost in the scenic paradise of Agumbe: Cherrapunji of South India. This hill station boasts of thick tropical Agumbe rainforest, magnificent mountain ranges, several waterfalls, charming rivers, and weather that is pleasant throughout the year.

Agumbe receives more than 7,000 mm of rainfall throughout the year, and this is the reason that this place has gotten the tag of being the Cherrapunji of South India. The place holds a permanent place in every Karnataka itinerary .worth its salt. In fact, there is so much to see and experience here that it is difficult to pick a spot to start with.

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 Agumbe Rainforest

Any discussion about Agumbe should start and end with its rainforests since there is so much of it here. Government efforts at conserving Agumbe rainforest have helped to sustain them in their near-pristine beauty. Whether you are trekking or just travelling, you would obviously be travelling through the enchanting rainforests of Agumbe. It is owing to these rainforests that this place is known as Hasiru Honnu by the locals, which means green gold. As they are home to a variety of very rare medicinal plants such as Myristica, Ficus, Diospyros, Listsaea, and Garcinia that can be found in this village.

 Agumbe Rainforest Research Station

The only permanent Rainforest Research Station of India is situated in Agumbe: Cherrapunji of South India. Being located inside the Agumbe Reserve Forest area at a distance of about 2 kilometres from Agumbe, the research station itself is a charming place to visit. This station is aimed at conserving the rainforest and the species within. The oldest weather station of India can also be found here that especially monitors any changes in the weather conditions of the rainforest.

 King Cobra Capital

Agumbe is popularly referred to as King Cobra capital because of the high density of king cobras that can be found in the region. It is important to note that although there are a large number of snakes that can be found in this region however very few cases of human-snake conflict. The world’s first radio-telemetry project for King Cobra was undertaken in the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station.

 Trekking and Hiking

Agumbe

Travelling to and through Agumbe is a pleasant experience, but don’t expect to drive everywhere. The roads are not there in most places. Moreover, you can really enjoy the beauty of this place if you set out for trekking

through the hills. Since the village is situated in lowland area you can find ample lowland rainforest here. The sight of distant mountains and alluring waterfalls flowing through the thick foliage is an astounding combination to behold and experience.

 Agumbe Sunset View Point

Agumbe

The enchanting Agumbe sunset view point, is a ten-minute walk from the village and is situated on the Udupi-Agumbe Road. This viewpoint is found on one of the highest peaks in the Western Ghats. From here you will be able to capture the mesmerizing ensemble of Western Ghats Mountains, waterfalls, and the thick foliage and soothe your nerves. Enjoy local snacks being sold by the roadside vendors while enjoying the view of the setting

 Jogi Gundi Falls

This is a charming waterfall about 800 metres deep is situated at a distance of about 4 kilometres from Agumbe: Cherapunji of South India. The first few kilometres can be covered by a vehicle but the last one kilometre can be only be covered via trekking through a narrow path. However, trekking through the forest to go near the waterfall is itself a lovely experience, which can be done while catching up on some birding. One can also take a swim in the swimming pool in front of the waterfall but be warned that the water is deep and the edges are rocky and sharp.

Onake Abbi Falls

This fall is situated at a distance of about 4 kilometres from Agumbe, and you need to trek for about 3 kilometres on unpaved roads to reach here. The water cascades down to about 500-feet from above, and you can get a breathtaking view of the waterfall from the summit.

 Barkana Falls

This is one of the highest waterfalls in India and is an integral part of any good Karnataka itinerary. The name Barkana is derived from ‘Barka’, which means ‘Mouse Deer’ that are found in this region and ‘Kana’, which means ‘Home’. To reach this waterfall, you need to trek for about 5 kilometres. The waterfall derives its water from the Seetha River and falls from a lofty height of about 850-feet. Looking at the misty waterfall is a charming experience for any nature lover. This fall is also an important source of hydroelectricity in Karnataka.

 Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary

The government has endeavoured to protect the fauna and flora of the region through the Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary. Named after the presiding deity Lord Someshwara, it is located approximately 20 kilometres from Agumbe and falls in both Shimoga and Udupi districts. Your Karnataka itinerary must include this sanctuary since it showcases the biodiversity of the Western Ghat Mountains. Some notable fauna that can be spotted in this sanctuary are tiger, leopard, jackal, wild boar, sambar, barking deer, spotted deer, king cobra, and giant flying squirrel.

 Kundadri Hill

The Kundadri Hill is located in the Shimoga District and is at a distance of about 19 kilometres from Agumbe. This hill has got one of the most famous temple in karnataka for having a 17th-century temple dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras. Apart from the religious significance of the hill, it is a paradise for nature lovers. Situated at a height of 3200-feet above sea level provides excellent views of the backwaters of the Varahi Dam, Western Ghats, and also includes two natural pools formed with rocks that are filled by the Tunga River.

 Koodlu Teertha Falls

At a distance of about 26 kilometres from Agumbe: Cherrapunji of South India lies an isolated waterfall in Nadpalu, Karnataka. To reach this spot you need to trek for about 4 kilometres. However, the sweat and ardour of trekking will soon be a thing of the past once you experience the beauty of this waterfall. Here the water falls from a height of around 150-feet and has created a shallow pool where one can relax, take pictures or enjoy a good swim.

 

The months of January and February are considered the best months to visit this natural wonderland. To reach Agumbe you can either fly to Mangalore or take a train to Udupi from where you can take a taxi or bus to reach the destination. The misty waterfalls, the lush green mountains, the abyss of the valleys, the thick foliage, the abundant wilderness, the charming rivers, and the mellow weather all beckon travellers to this pristine beauty in the Western Ghats. Make sure to add Agumbe to your Karnataka itinerary to experience one of the most refreshing hill stations and trekking in Karnataka.

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A Trekking Guide to Mizoram’s Highest Peak – Phawngpui Trek

Phawngpui Trek

Do you often find yourself thinking about big travel plans, family outing, friend’s getaway trips, and countless adventure-filled experiences, like me? Well, the best of the journeys are possibly those that are least planned. This strikes me as the mini bus we are travelling in rides on the state highway passing by quaint hamlets, exotic flora, tropical landscapes, and small hills of Mizoram into Sangau village, which is about 226 kilometres from Aizawl, the closest settlement to Phawngpui. This is how we began our exhilarating adventure in Mizoram to take on the stunning Phawngpui Trek.

The Phawngpui Peak is the highest mountain peak in Mizoram, towering about 2,157 metres high near the Myanmar border overlooking the Chhimtuipui River. The peak is positioned within the Phawngpui National Park and oversees a breathtaking landscape full of deep crevices and amazing cliffs. Trekking to the summit of Phawngpui is an experience no adventure lover can let miss. Being here amidst the mighty mountains and the sky will make you feel reinvigorated, happy and peaceful at the very least.

Phawngpui Trek

Our journey in this part of India began once we took off from our hotel in Aizawl and headed to Saiha. From Saiha we travelled 3 hours to the northeast to the village of Sangau, from where we would start our hike over Phawngpui, and add the “The Blue Mountain” to our list of peak conquests. The path passes through a couple of villages before the steep forested accent to Farpac a flat meadow about an hour and a half from the summit bound by steep-sided cliffs, which provides a dizzying view of the valley below.

Sangau, the base camp of the trek, looks spectacularly beautiful and serene in the fading evening light. It is well connected by road from Aizawl, Lunglei, and Saiha. We stayed at the Tourist Lodge in Sangau which is the default accommodation for most Phawngpui visitors. The other decent option is the Forest Rest House. Though the accommodation is not luxurious, these are good enough to provide you a comfortable stay.

Phawngpui Trek

Next morning we visited Tiau Chhuah where two rivers Tiau and Tuipui converge to form the mighty Kaladan aka Kolodyne aka Chhumtuipui and is a nice spot for a picnic. The locals say that the wave created by two strong currents in monsoon at Tiau Chhuah is quite a sight, and we couldn’t agree more. The sky is clear and the mood upbeat as we begin the trek to Phawngpui, the Blue Mountain of Mizoram which is a highly revered peak among the tribes, considered as the abode of the Gods. While trekking to the top of Mizoram we passed varied landscapes such as the famous orchids and rhododendrons flowers, the spectacular deodar and pine trees and flowers of all colours. All this together presents a fairytale view of the blue-hazed hills, and valleys unfolding below. We stopped for a lunch break near the river, and our guide informed us that water is normally clear and clean, so none of us had any hesitation in quenching our thirst here.

Phawngpui Trek

After lunch, we headed to the other attraction of Phawngpui Peak which provides the most enchanting view of Mizoram from the hill top. On the western side, there is a semi-circular beautiful cliff with a sharp and deep fall called Thlazuang Khamm. This cliff is said to be haunted by spirits. On the peak, we came across a level ground that is believed to be about 200 hectares in area. The sight that welcomed us here is of hundreds of matted bamboo groves and other alluring vegetation. We were also lucky to come across a variety of butterflies, including some rare species native to this region. Walking slowly through the groves is an ethereal experience especially with the presence of the colourful butterflies and birds. There is so much to see, appreciate and soak in. From the top, we got a 360-degree view of breathtaking cliffs and beautiful flower gardens. Although the area is known to be home to a rich variety of wildlife such as Leopard Cat, Serow, Goral, Asiatic Black Bear, Stump-tailed Macaque, and Capped Langur we, unfortunately, were unable to spot any on the route. But we did come across birds such as Blyth’s Tragopan, Falcon, Sunbirds, Dark-rumped swift, Oriental pied hornbill, large-billed crow, Warblers and Woodpeckers, among other birds.

Though this region is pleasant throughout the year, travelling between the months of October to April is supposed to be the best. The period is a good time for trekkers and adventure seekers as the route is usually dry and well-marked out due to animal movements. It is this time that we decided to choose for our adventure to this part of the country as well. As projected the weather was nice and temperate, and we were able to get a clear, vibrant, and scenic view of the Blue Mountain enveloped in green valleys. The magnificent sights and sounds of the mountain are enhanced during this period providing you an ethereal experience to cherish.

Phawngpui Trek

In the evening, our trek was a tiring, arduous downhill trudge but the sights were equally rewarding. From the peak, we descended to the village of Vonbuk on the south-eastern base of Phawngpui peak, not far from the Burmese border. Vonbuk was a pleasant village at an hour’s walking time from the peak and we spent the evening wandering about taking pictures of the amused kids and having tea with the locals, before spending the night at the newly constructed forest tourist lodge at Vonbuk, to enjoy the sunset and early morning views from there. The next morning we left at 8:00 am and reached Sangau at 1:00 pm, after stopping at multiple places for capturing beautiful pictures, looking around and interacting with the humble Li people. Again a diverse array of stunning flowers, high, narrow waterfalls in the distance, a bewildering variety of mushrooms, brightly plumed sunbirds hovering over colourful flowers, peregrine falcon swooping down on fleeting cliffs followed us.

This has undoubtedly been one of the best weeks of my life. No internet, limited phone connectivity, no TV and of course, no office work. The absolute company of nature and new friends, hills, brooks, lakes and above all, meeting the locals. An adventure that brings you closer to yourself, its serenity enlightens your soul, challenges you physically and mentally, and takes you as high as the mountains to witness the real beauty of the life from the top. Trekking on the top of Mizoram is that perfect adventure. I can’t wait to get back to the hills again!