Last year was very special as there were many ups in my life and I started to write blogs about the places where I used to go for my official work. Here are the top ten destinations which have been famous on my blogs in 2007. The list goes like this:
First place goes to Amritsar the Golden domes and spicy papad city
Second place goes to Chowki dhani the Heritage village in Jaipur
Third place goes to Durshet, the forest walk near to Bangalore
Fourth Place goes to Mahabaleshwar for its strawberry fields
Fifth Place goes to Bheemeshwari the nature camp
Sixth Place goes to Lonavala and Khandala for its waterfalls
Seventh Place goes to Pataudi Palace the Mansur Pataudi home
Eight Place goes to Dharamshala for Dalai Lama
Nineth Place goes to Uchagaon the heritage haveli
And the Tenth Place has a tie with Khajuraho for its temple and Mount Abu for its hills
The consolation destination goes to Wild Orchid Resort in Andaman
Shillong is a pleasant 3 hour ride from Guwahati and as the city approaches ou will find the nature at its best. Shillong is in Meghalaya and is a weekend destination from Kolkata. It’s full of forests and wooden cottages however in last few years to save and preserve the forest there are not to many cottages made by wood. Shillong in the past was planned for the resident of English. The military authorities established their cantonment mostly in upper Shillong and in the remaining portion the civil houses were laid. This was the British Shillong and the enclave of the Raj in the Khasi Hills. Lands were allotted for offices, bazaars and various other purposes, but it was the residential area at that time that becomes the pride of the colonials. Europeans officers, serving officers, tea planters, businessman all built there cottages here and named after places in England like Strathmore, Bonny Brae housing the survey of India today, Crow borough where a hotel in now under construction. There was a time when Europeans and the Indians both started building their houses. Indian princely families also started their establishments here like Tripura, Nepal, Manipur built imposing houses. And the Myurbhanj House built by the princely family is under the property of North Eastern hill University. Now Shillong has Assam style buildings build of basic design of the English cottage.
There are many lakes and waterfalls in this part. Before reaching Shillong there is the Umiam Lake, The Lake is the source of the Umiam River which has been transformed into a reservoir to produce electricity. Then there is the Orchid Lake Resort near the lake which has many sports facilities such as speed boating, water skiing etc. Then there is the Ward Lake which is in the middle of the town is horse shoe shaped. It is the picnic spot for the locals here. There are many waterfalls spread all over Shillong. The Sweet Falls is located near Happy Valley while Spread Eagle Falls near the Polo ground. The Beadon and Bishop Falls are 2km from Bara Bazaar and the Elephant Falls on the outskirts of Upper Shillong.
There is the famous golf course since 1924 Shillong Golf club. It’s an 18 hole course lined with fragrant pine and flowering rhododendron trees.
Shillong peak is at the height of about 6433 ft offers a wonderful view of the city and countryside. On a clear day one can see the eastern Himalaya, including Gorichen which is 22000 ft is the highest peak in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Khasis follow an eight day week and weekly market has always been held on the first day of the week. Shillong is famous for its shopping for its Forest honey in Bara Bazaar and Police Bazaar here the weekly market known as lewduh is held.
Kurukshetra is a historic town where Lord Krishna is believed to have preached the bhagwad Gita to a hesitant Arjun on the battlefields of the Mahabharata the epic. Kurukshetra is 2 ½ drive from Delhi and a perfect pilgrim weekend getaway from Delhi. It’s said that to bath at the Brahma Sarovar here during an eclipse or an amavasya nights is spiritually cleansing of human soul. The Sarveshwar Mahadev Temple in the centre of this water body is visited by many devotees, they also the Laxmi Narayan Temple. Another lake held in great esteem by the devotees is the Sannehit Sarovar which is about an kilometer from Laxmi Sarovar is believed to have formed by water that flowed out of Brahma’s navel. Kurukshetra is visited by a number of the Sikh gurus, is also of great importance for the Sikhs. Guru Nanak passed through this town and the place where he stayed at is known as Gurudwara Sidhbati. There is also a Gurudwara dedicated to Guru Hargobind. On the banks of the Brahma Sarovar is one of the memories of Guru Gobind Singh. All this makes Kurukshetra a pilgrimage holiday destination in India.
Find Driving Directions to Kurukshetra here
Camp 5 Elements has excellent arrangements of twin bedded luxury tents of size 12 by 12 feet. The toilets are separate and are set in western style. The bathing area consists of the following amenities:
- Running Water
- Wash Basin
Dining at Camp 5 Elements in Rishikesh, India is a delightful experience altogether. Food is laid out in separate dining tent that overlooks the Ganga. Indian, Mughlai, Chinese and Continental cuisines are served. The nights are enlivened by the Barbecue that offers Tandoori delicacies. Music and Bonfire add to the milieu an enigmatic charm.
In addition to the recreational facilities mentioned above, Camp 5 Elements has also designed special activities for professionals. These include:
- Special Corporate Programs by Leading Trainers
- Outbound Training
- Team Building
- Stress Management
The most significant aspect of Camp 5 Elements in Rishikesh which attracts tourists is the wide spectrum of recreational facilities offered by it. Activities that one can indulge into in Camp 5 Elements are:
Other Facilities :
Another significant factor that is given due importance in Camp 5 Elements is the security. Ample number of Armed Security Personnel is appointed to serve this purpose. Camp 5 Elements in Rishikesh also provides other essential services like:
- Laundry Services
- Doctor on Call
- STD/ISD Facility
Arrival at the Camp. Welcome drink on arrival followed by Lunch and camp orientation & briefing. Post lunch indulge in camp activities such as Rock Climbing, Rappelling, Beach Volleyball, Beach Cricket, Kayaking etc. In the evening laze over a Bonfire or try your hand at fun games followed by a sumptuous dinner specially prepared by our Chef. Tuck into your Deluxe Tents at The Camp 5 Elements
Wake up early to enjoy a refreshing Nature Walk with their guide. After a hearty breakfast change into their rafting gear and proceed for rafting on the river Ganges. You will endeavor to complete 2 stretches on the river today. The first session includes the stretch from Marine Drive to Shivpuri covering thrilling rapids like ‘Black Money’, ‘Three Blind Mice’, ‘Crossfire’, ‘Body Surfing’, and ‘The Shivpuri’ rapids. Lunch will be served at Shivpuri on the river beach.
Post Lunch you will proceed for the second session of rafting from Shivpuri to NIM Beach. In this stretch one has to negotiate some famous white water rapids like “Return to Centre”, “Roller Coaster”, “Tee Off”, “Golf Course”, “Club House” and others till NIM beach where the days’ rafting comes to an end. Late evening arrive at The Camp 5 Elements. Bonfire with their guitarist, Dinner and overnight at The Camp 5 Elements
You have another very exciting day on the beach. Amongst the many options, you can soak some sun, relax on the beach with a book from their library, try your hands at Kayaking, climb a rock, rapple down the river or just play a sport; baseball, badminton, volleyball, cricket, hiking.
After an early breakfast start your trip from Kaudiyala downstream. The first rapid you hit is called the Daniel’s’ Dip (Grade IV). The next big Rapid is The Wall (Grade IV+). Between these two there are some Grade II and II+ rapids with long float stretches with enough options to do body surfing as well. These rapids are the most exciting on the river. Rafting ends at Marine Drive with sumptuous Lunch. Post Lunch depart to your next destination
Find driving directions from Delhi to Rishikesh here ..
Gwalior the middle kingdom named after Sage Gwalipa is one of the best holiday destinations in Madhya Pradesh. This is the land where sharp swords matched rugged forts and ruthless ambition tested death giving birth to magnificent rock carvings, temples, palaces and forts making it a perfect weekend destination from Delhi.
The Gwalior fort is 300ft above the ground. The Kachhwahas and Tomars contributed most to its culture and architecture, whereas early Mohammedans, and later the Mughals, used the fort as a state prison. There were three main entrances to the fort of which the east and the west entrances are now accessible. The eastern entrance is guarded by the Urwahi Gate, and the western by six gates built in different periods by different kings all situated on the 2500 ft long ramp leading to the fort. Then there is the Urwahi rock which is falling on two sides of the valley which is home to 22 Jain rock sculptures while walking on the ramp of the fort on the left side. Inside the fort the most impressive structure is the Man Singh Palace. Inside is the dancing hall surrounded by a balcony and a courtyard besides many rooms and staircases leading to underground passages. The southern part of the fort has the inlay work of marching ducks, crocodiles holding lotus, and parrots and tigers. Behind Man Mandir lies the Vikram Palace named after Man Singh’s son. Besides these two palaces there are 5 more palaces three of which were built by Hindu rulers and two by Mughals. The Jahangir Palace has the tank where Rajput queens committed jauhar following the invasion of the fort in 1232. Of the remaining Hindu palaces Gujari Mahal built by Raja Man Singh for his Gujjar love Mrignayani is now a state archaeological museum. It has a collection of decorative pillars, princely sculptures. The fort also includes two temples the Saas Bahu complex and the Teli ka Mandir. The Saas Bahu temples follow the 10th century North Indian temple dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva. The Teli ka Mandir is an 80ft hotchpotch structure with a massive shikara.
Inside the city there is the Mausoleum of Sheikh Muhammad Ghaus built during Akbar’s rule is what I liked. It is built on a square plan with hexagonal towers and flanked on four sides with dedicated stone lattices. He is said to be the saint who is said to have confessed that God had accorded him superiority over Prophet Muhammad. The grave of Tansen is a rectangular platform with a pillared gallery is standing near by. Then there is the famous tamarind tree that is said to have sweetened his voice is dead however in its place grows a younger tree that is regularly plucked by visitors wishing to repeat the miracle. Then there is the Jama Masjid next to Gujari Mahal.
And then there is the Scindia legacy with the Jai Vilas Palace built at a cost of Rs 19 lakhs during the reign of Jiyagi Rao. The palace is three storey high and is decorated with Tuscan, Italian columns. It also has a museum displaying the famous silver dining train used to ferry champagne bottles around the table.
Find Driving Directions from Delhi to Gwalior here
Thanedar is in Himachal Pradesh, weekend getaway from Delhi also known as the apple Dom. Distance from Delhi to Thanedar is 421km. It is full of apple trees in the entire region. Arya Samaj Mandir is an uphill climb built by Stokes in typical pahari style; this stone temple stands in the middle of apple orchids. It was here that Stokes planted the first apple seed. Samuel stokes is a byword in this region. He planted trees in Kotgarh next door continue the reap a rich harvest even 100 years later. Harmony House, the stokes family house is located here on Barobag Hill. The rhododendron flower better known as rhodo in this part of the country, can be plucked of f a branch, washed an eaten raw. There are many Himcu shops in town who sell rhodo squash.
Samuel Stokes was an American missionary who headed to these hills in 1904 and transformed the village. It wasn’t the only missionary who found his way here. The presence of the Anglican Church in Kotgarh is today marked by a quaint wooden St Mary’s Church. The structure build in some 1800 is still a dazzling stained glass window and an array of cedar sculpted pews. And adjoining it is the Gorton Mission School started in 1843 according to the locals here.
The Tani Jubber Lake is 4km from Thanedar. You can take a car till the road ends and then climb 10 minutes. And as one push through the branches and bramble, the road clears and the ground beneath your feet becomes flat. The placid lake lies between the snows peaked mountains in the back ground. There is a local temple on one side of the lake which is not open to outsiders. In June, a fair is held at the lake at which local artisans and craftsmen display their waves.
Thanedar is also known as the fruit bowl of India. Thanedar, a good nearby getaway from Shimla is just 79 kms drive from Shimla.
Find driving directions from Delhi to Thanedar here..
The only resort hotel in Pahalgam, Hotel Pine N Peak provides with impressive views of the “Valley of Shepherds”- Pahalgam. Ideally located on the splendid Rajwas Plateau, adjacent to the Pahalgam Golf Course and away from the chaos of the market, the resort provides you the right ambience for a memorable holiday in Pahalgam
The hotel has 75 centrally-heated rooms, each equipped with an attached bath and shower, colour TV with-in-house movies, telephone, channel music and radio, room Service & Laundry Service, recreation Center including Billiards, card Room and other indoor games. It has the best Restaurants, Bar and Lounge and an outdoor Barbeque. The Health Club, complete with a gymnasium, sauna and heated mini pool will soon be fully operational. Trekking, mountain climbing, golf and angling can also be arranged.
Lolaab Restaurant: The restaurant is named after one of Kashmir’s most picturesque valleys. The valley abounds in wild life and flora. The theme of this beautiful valley has been incorporated into the restaurant which overlooks the heated pool and offers a panoramic view of the pine-studded landscape. The Kashmiri ambience is evident in the ‘gubbas’ on the ceiling which create a warm and a cozy atmosphere. The restaurant serves Pan-Indian including local Kashmiri cuisine, supplemented by Continental creations.
Saahil Coffee Shop: The lobby level coffee lounge is ideal to while away your time in comfort while you can nibble on exotic Kashmiri snacks and enjoy the famous Kashmiri beverage – KAHWA. Saahil has an informal atmosphere created by a traditional central fireplace and a high ceiling with exposed beams. Like Lolaab, Saahil too gives you a panoramic view of the mountains Only resort five star hotel in Pahalgam adjacent to the golf course with all modern amenities and facilities like Conference Room, billiards, snooker, health club and indoor games.
Gulistaan : The Garden Restaurant. In addition to the usual snacks, Gulistaan offers barbecue specialties. Tables are laid out in the open at discreet distances, so that you can enjoy the most delectable barbecue meals, in privacy, under the warm afternoon sun or beneath the canopy of star-studded night.
Kalakho is in Rajasthan and 298km from Delhi, a perfect weekend destination. Its green with the golden fields and the monsoon lake, is a perfect little retreat with luxurious comfort. This woodsy part of the Aravalli hills is the perfect place for the bird watchers. There are old forts, hills and of course the desert and where we took the desert safari which was breathtaking.
We drive straight past the busy Sikandra crossroads and on the village of Gular, then we took a right to Abhaneri. Here the 8th century baoli is enormous was built by Raja Chand, a Nikumbha Rajput of the Chamana Dynasty, it was close to 65 ft deep. We took 3500 narrow and steep steps to reach the water. Today the step well is under the Archaeological survey of India, who have expertly managed to make this age old monument look like a thing of the future with their heavy metal frames.
And just across the well was the Harshata Mata temple dedicated to Parvati. It was built in 7th century in Mahameru style and its carvings was similar to the carvings of Khajuraho temple.
Anjuna is a huge beach in Goa as it has South, Middle and the North Anjuna beach. It has many hotels, bars and restaurants. Its flea market began in 1970’s as a place where hippies sell their possessions when they were either broke or leaving for home. However they were banned for several years after the local church ran a campaign against it, it was started again by the Anjuna panchayat as the Anjuna weekly market and is now held on Wednesdays over the several acres of coconut plantations at the southern edge of the beach. The market starts around at noon and people begin to leave after sunset. The best way to avoid traffic for the market is to communicate through boat and in the morning you can also spot a dolphin. The market is full of clothes, accessories, cheese, food outlets etc.
With all those rock in the sea, water sports in Anjuna are limited to its southern end. Paraiso de Goa is a swinging trance bar that open’s till wee hours. It is set on a hillock next to the beach and has a fabulous view. One can enjoy the nightlife here especially the New Year and Christmas eves.
Munnar is the tea growing only hill station of Kerala. There are around 12,000 hectares of lush, manicured tea fields. Munnar attractions are to found on its outskirts, within the radius of 10 to 30km from the town. Eravikulam National Park is the hunting preserve of the British planters and is now the wildlife conservation at its best. It has the famous Nilgiri tahr which is the highly endangered species of wild goat and is all the mascot of Munnar. The park is situated 7,000 ft above the sea level.
Its Tea museum is run by Tata tea and it traces the evolution of the tea industry in Munnar in 1880’s. It has the historical photographs and pieces of period furniture. You can see one is able to view the various stages of tea tasting. It is an educative experience.
Athukad and other falls are located deep in the valley which is 8km from Munnar. Athukad falls becomes the untamed cascade when the monsoon peaks in July. Then there are two other cascades along this same route. The Cheeyapara falls plunge from a height of over 500 ft right next to the highway and it is also the popular site for the tourist to bath. And then a km away is the impressive Valara Falls cascading into thickly forested below the road.
Then there are two dams in Munnar. Madupatty dam has a vast reservoir extending several kilometers into the forest.. There is a cruise here and the elephants, gaur and sambar too. Sethuparvathipuram Dam is 70 ft high arch dam and is a sky blue reservoir dotted with colorful rowboats and pedal boats, with cattle grazing peacefully on its banks against a backdrop of lush eucalyptus plantations.
The Lockhart Gap offers a bird’s eye view of Bison Valley and the surrounding hills extending up to Thekkady. Also it is an ideal location for picnic.
Then for a breathtaking view of the Talayar Valley on one side and the Munnar Valley on the other, drive up to the Nyamakad Gap on the Munnar Coimbatore Road. Here one can come across colorfully dressed tea picker’s intent on their work.
Munnar is the only hill resort in the south to offer anglers the delight of trout fishing. The two prime fishing sites Gravel Banks and Devikulam Lake are located well off the beaten track in picturesque. For the golfers there are two nine whole courses set maintained by the High Range club and the Kundale Club, the two local planters clubs.