India

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in India.

udaipur

A Royal Town – Udaipur, Rajasthan

Ho, we’re not suggesting you enact the The Prince and the Pauper — Rajasthan has a reputation for being royal, but there’s plenty there you can do at a commoner’s prices. Start with the 400-year-old City Palace and make your way through royal history. Then, spend an enchanting hour on the water with a boat ride on Lake Pichola, the 14th-century waterbody surrounded by fantastic architecture.

city-palace

City Palace of Udaipur

The Saheliyon ki Bari gardens, built in the 18th century for a queen and her attendants, is a delightful landscape of lotus pools, fountains and flowers. If that makes you want some testosterone, head to the Vintage and Classic Car Collection Museum and sigh over art that moves — literally. If you’d like to soak in Udaipur, spend some time on the acclaimed Delwara Heritage Walk that covers temples, palaces, regional culture and history.

saheliyon-ki-bari

Saheliyon ki Bari Gardens

Or head to the Kami Mata Temple for gorgeous city and lake views. After spiritual blessings, it’s time for material ones – go shopping for bargains at Jagdish Temple Road, specifically jootis and leather stationery; remember to haggle like fisherwomen. You can also shop for handmade souvenirs at Sadhna and take home more than memories of Udaipur. Other must-sees are the Bagore ki Haveli museum with its excellent showcase of Mewar arts and and the lit-up Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace in the evening. The Eklinji Temple (avoid on Mondays) and the Ahar Cenotaphs offer space for quiet reflection. If you have a longer stay in Udaipur, consider day-trips to Ranakpur’s Jain Temples (90km), the massive Kumbalgarh Fort (100km) and Chittorgarh Fort, which is India’s largest (120km).

sajjangarh-monsoon-palace

Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace


LEAVE ON A JET PLANE OR TRAIN: Return flights from Mumbai start at 72USD and from New Delhi at 53USD. If you’re taking the train, take the 12963 Mewar Express  and return by the 12964 Mewar Express. From Mumbai, take the 22901 UDZ Super Fast and return by the 12996 UDZ BDTS Super Fast.
GET AROUND: Udaipur is fairly compact and you can walk or take autos- remember to haggle an fix auto rates beforehand. You can hire a two wheeler. For travelling outside Udaipur, you can use local or private bus services.
STAY: Neat, traditional and welcoming, Madri Haveli is a real find Ortry Devra Homestay  Multi-city chain Zostel Udaipur is a great option for young people. And the quirkily-named Moustache Hostel has amazing views of Lake Pichola.

madri-haveli

Madri Haveli

EAT AND DRINK: There are some definitive Rajasthani experiences you must have in Udaipur-a hearty, traditional thali at Natraj Dining Hall is one of them. Experience a sundowner with delicious cuisine at Ambrai, overlooking Lake PicholaOr head to 1559 AD, named for the year Udaipur was founded, for authentic cuisine.
WHEN TO GO: July to August is off-peak season, with the rains in attendance and deals like cheap hotels, lesser crowds and cool weather- so we’d recommend going then.

brahmaputra-river

Explore The Brahmaputra River – India

Our convoy of taxis stopped at the top of the muddy river- bank, a few steps from a creaking bamboo gangway’ that connected us with our home for the week, the 46-passenger Mahabaahu. Not sleek like Europe’s riverboats, this one was appealingly quirky with its stubby funnel and red cargo davits poking out from the stem, and a hull cluttered with a necklace of tires. I loved it already.

The 2011-built boat, owned and operated by India-based Adventure Resorts & Cruises, a subsidiary of tour operator Far Horizon Tours, was moored below us along the Brahmaputra River, one of India’s most important inland waterways. Named after the son of Lord Brahma, it is India’s only “male” river, and the Mahabaahu is one of only a few tourist riverboats sailing on it.

Our upstream journey began in Guwahati and ended 232 miles later in Jorhat, both in the state of Assam. Neither city is particularly attractive, but what’s in between them is magical.

Mahabaahu-cruise

Mahabaahu Cruise

From its glacial source in southwestern Tibet on the slopes of the Himalayan Mountains, the 1,800-mile-long river surges east, cutting through deep canyons and gorges before making a sharp U-tum and entering the northeastern corner of India. It continues into the Assam Valley en route to the confluence with the Ganges River and empties into Bangladesh’s flood-prone Bay of Bengal. In Assam the Brahmaputra widens greatly- some five miles at its broadest-and redistributes an enormous amount of sediment collected along the way, resulting in a river system braided with islands of sand.

Before we got to those serene expanses of sand, we’d get a dose of India in overdrive. Our first excursion, en route to the Mahabaahu from the airport, was a visit to the 17th century Kamakhya Temple complex, with its traditional beehive domes, practice of animal sacrifice and association with the teachings of sacred sex. We removed our shoes as required at the entrance and tried not to think about what we might step in as we waded through the throngs behind Venky, our guide and naturalist for the week. Dedicated to the goddess of desire, Kamakhya Devi, and her various avatars, stone reliefs of female deities along the outside of the temples, were smeared in blood-red paint and kumkuma powder to symbolize fertility.

At this Hindu pilgrimage site, important especially for newlyweds wanting to start families, we watched devotees swipe bits of the red powder from the statues’ groins and apply a dash to their own foreheads for good luck. Stepping around nosy goats spared from the knife, we walked around the bustling compound, fascinated by the bare-chested sadhus (holy men) with their dreadlocks and wild eyes.

walterre-featured

Watching Marvelous Birds  in Dehradun – Uttarakhand

FANTASTIC BIRDS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Since it was first described in 1991, the wren-babbler was thought to be endemic to Nepal. So, you can imagine the surprise (and delight) of Indian ornithologists when, in 2003, this diminutive, stub­tailed, weak-voiced little thing was seen in the forests of Dehradun. Perhaps it was only fair that it be spotted in Walterre, Bikram Grewal’s four-bedroom villa resort, along the banks on the Tons River. Bikram had, after all, chosen his backyard with great care. Now the ‘establishment’ might consider him an upstart, but he sure knows his birds. Having authored many books on the subject, including the immensely popular Birds of India, he also knows a thing or two about their habitat and distribution.

white-crested-laughing-thrush

Laughingthrushes are just one of the stunning species that abound here

So, Walterre is located perfectly: the Himalayan foothills ensure the presence of the north and northeast species, and, at 2,200ft, the climate remains gentle enough through the year. The Nepal wren-babblers seem to concur, and have since taken up residence in the garden.

Spread over three acres, it’s not a very large area – a fact birders used to trudging for miles on end will surely appreciate- but the bird life is spectacular. You might be joined by crimson sunbirds for breakfast on the terrace, the extremely garrulous white-crested laughingthrushes will descend in droves every evening, and red-billed leiothrixes can be found gambolling in the undergrowth through the day. But that’s just the start of it. This resort has a birding checklist of 350 species, so you’ll find little reason to leave the property. But it’s not just the birding that’ll keep you back.

The well-maintained gardens are another. Spread over many levels, they’re bursting with flowers: geranium, petunia, heliconia and begonia, to name a few. These bedeck the area around the house, while kachnar trees (phanera variegata) tower above the entrance to the property.

walterre

The start of summer means you get to see many flowers in bloom

Step into the house, and you’ll find treasures of another kind. There’s period furniture, rare lithographs, and a parlour crowded with curios including, for some odd reason, about a hundred paperweights. The library boasts a wide and eclectic collection, and comes with a super-comfy single seater right next to the shelves. Being 14km away from Dehradun city, there’s plenty of quietude, so you can really catch up on your reading. The terrace offers great views of the Himalayas during the day, and the lights of Mussoorie shimmer in the distance at night. The bedrooms have comfy four-poster beds and some strange inclusions, like a full-sized easy chair inside one of the bathrooms.

walterre-bird

You’ll find a different bird in almost every corner in the garden

Should you decide to venture into the city, a heritage walk with Been There Doon That (BTDT) is an interesting way to spend a morning. Dehradun has a rich history, and the intrepid folks at BTDT are helping people discover the interesting back stories of structures you normally wouldn’t give a second glance; every Sun morning; free). You’ll hear about the freebooter and British army deserter, Fredrick ‘pahadi‘ Wilson, the sad tale of an Afghan king in exile, and the supposedly rare hexagonal clock tower. Back at the property, a stroll along the banks of the Tons River is worth your time. You’ll almost certainly spot yellow-billed blue magpies along the sides of the road.

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Try and have many meals as you can on the picturesque terrace

But it won’t be long before the thrushes, flycatchers, scimitars and other summer denizens start calling you back to the villa, and that’s one invitation you’re well advised to accept.

 

GETTING AROUND

Walterre can arrange for a transfer from the airport or the railway station. The property is 14km from Dehradun, and local transport isn’t available easily, so it’s best to hire a car to get around.

WHERE TO STAY

Walterre: As expected, all four rooms in the hotel are named after birds. The ones on the first floor are a better bet as they offer easier access to the large terrace. The Peacock Suite also has a small TV room. Asian Adventures handles reservations for this property.

WHERE TO EAT

Each meal is an elaborate affair here, with some of the ingredients sourced from the backyard. While there’s no menu to choose from, the staff is particularly accommodating of special requests. Alpana Grewal’s signature mutton curry comes recommended.

The terrace is a great setting for meals – the passion flower vines snaking across the sides are bird magnets, and spotting five different species of sunbirds over lunch can be an unforgettable experience.

 

honnemardu-karnataka

Having Some Outdoor Fun – Honnemardu, Karnataka

WATER BABY

You’re floating on the Sharavathi River and the winter sun is lulling you to close your eyes and enjoy bobbing on the gentle waves with the mountains rising up from all sides. What makes the moment even more perfect is when Nomito Kamdar of the Indian Institute of Adventure Applications (IIAA) tells you that the pied hornbill, which just flew past, is slowly returning to the Sharavathi Valley. This sweet spot where watersports meets conservation makes even a couple of days in Honnemardu time well spent.

The campus is your base, so you eat, sleep and do all the activities around here. But before you start packing your bags, you should know that the facilities here are very basic. You have to be the grown-up that you are and, except for cooking your meals, do everything on your own. That means cleaning up after yourself as well as roughing it out. Welcome to adulthood; you’ll love it here!

honnemardu-karnataka-1

Apart from canoeing, you can also kayak, windsurf, sail and go on coracle rides

IIAA was started 25 years ago with the goal of conserving the biodiversity of the Western Ghats and using the outdoors as a platform for learning.

Run by The Adventurers, ‘a wilderness school’ and managed by Dr SLN Swamy and Nomito Kamdar, the activities push you and demand more of you.

The unpolluted waters of the Sharavathi River host many activities.

Pick from coracling, kayaking, wind surfing and sailing and spend the better part of the day in the water. You’re likely to experience a range of emotions – some for the first time here. It could be anxiety: will the coracle topple and ruin your expensive camera? Uncertainty: can you kayak on your own; exhilaration: yes, you can! And an ‘Aha!’ moment when you realise that few things compare to the joy of being outdoors.

But, if the water doesn’t excite you at that moment, take a rain check and head for the hills. There are several guided treks you can take, the closest one being to the Bhimanahejje Hill, which offers beautiful views of the Sharavathi River’s backwaters (2.5 hours). En route, you learn about how banning plastic and taking back any trash you generate has meant that this tiny corner of the Western Ghats can truly be described as pristine.

As you’re here to enjoy everything that nature has to offer, you spend the night camping out on an island.

The staff packs your dinner and you’re off in a coracle. With the sun setting in the background, pitching the tents feels less like a task and more like a fun activity. When you set out to collect firewood, beginning with twigs and moving up to thick branches, you realise the exercise is a survival guide that would make Bear Grylls proud. He’d love it even more as there’s no glamping here and you’re truly one with the elements.

More surprises await in this region, like the 16th-century Aghoreshvara Temple, which is a lesson in the Nayaka style of architecture (6km from Sagar, lkkeri;free). If you have a few extra hours, learn the basics of the local chittara art. While it can be confused for Warli art, chittara places more of an emphasises on geometry.

aghoreshvara-temple

Aghoreshvara Temple

Chandrashekhar Gowrichandrashekhar runs Chitrasiri from his home and exhibits and sells paintings too (00-91-94496 98979; chitrasiri@gmaii.com). Who knew the little village of Honnemardu hid such a fount of art, adventure and architecture?

FACT SHEET

GETTING THERE

karnataka

Karnataka is one of the major producers of betel nuts, so, en route to Honnemardu, you’ll come across many village homes drying this nut on their roofs

Closest city: Bangalore (418km) is the closest metro, it’s an eight-hour drive through some of Karnataka’s smaller towns.
Closest airports: Mangalore’s Bajpe Airport is the closest (230km). Spicejet and Jet Airways fly here from Bangalore. Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport (435km) is a longer drive, but better connected to Indian metros and cities.
Closest railhead: Bangalore Cityjunction is the major train station (SBC; 415km). The nearest railway station is Talguppa (TLGP; 10km). Take the 16227 Talguppa Express (leaves SBC 11pm, arrives TLGP 7.15am;) and return by the 16228 Bangalore Express (leaves TLGP 8.15pm, arrives SBC 4.30am;).

WHERE TO STAY

Indian Institute of Adventure Applications

Indian Institute of Adventure Applications

Indian Institute of Adventure Applications: Once you’ve reached the IIAA campus, you’re in their able hand.

Sagar (28km) is the town closest to Honnemardu and has some decent hotels if you want to check out theAghoreshvara Temple and surrounds.
Green Embassy: This is a three-star hotel with free wi-fi, car parking and a good restaurant.
Tip-Top Residency: This three-star hotel is another decent option, with room service and an all-day bar.

WHERE TO EAT

The food served at the IIAA campus is extremely simple vegetarian fare. Expect upma and pongal for breakfast; sambhar, rice, a locally-grown vegetable and buttermilk for lunch; and chapattis, rice, sambhar or rasam, and a vegetable again for dinner. And, of course, tea or coffee along with breakfast and in the evening. Remember, you have to wash your own dishes.

The Indian Lifestyle Will Make You Feel Special

With more than half a million people of Indian origin living in London, it’s possible to taste the entire subcontinent without ever leaving the UK. On Shared City’s Tour & Thali, local guide Nidhi introduces the Gujarati community along Wembley’s Baling Road, visiting an intricately carved Hindu temple as well as sari and spice shops. Stops for street food and a thali meal are included. Get a double helping of Indian cuisine by spending the next day with home chef Monisha, who in nearby Hounslow teaches cookery classes ranging from South Indian vegetarian dishes to mastering the art of a good dosa.

Wembley Central Shopping Centre

Wembley Central Shopping Centre

  • ARRIVE – Wembley Central and Hounslow West are the nearest stations for the tour and cooking class. Both connect to London’s major stations and airports.
  • STAY – Brook Green Hotel is less than half an hour by tube from Hounslow West.

 

art-village-karjat

Be Creative in Karjat – Maharashtra

A FINE BALANCE

“It needs to be centred” Ganga Kakadia says repeatedly. Centring, in this moment, refers to keeping the clay in the middle of the potter’s wheel, without wobbling. It’s a touch-and-go technique: if you try to mould the clay too hard, it collapses, and, if you don’t put any pressure at all, nothing happens. “Don’t think about the end, because things could go wrong at any point, and you need to be okay with that,” says Ganga. It’s easy to apply everything she’s saying about pottery to life as well. And just like in life, when you get it right, an almost overwhelming sense of liberation takes over.

karjat

Art Village – Karjat

Painter, illustrator and writer Ganga, along with her husband Kunal and a motley group of theatre folk, filmmakers, sculptors, architects and other artistes, has set up the Art Village in Karjat on family-owned property.

It’s meant to be a space for artistes and art enthusiasts, but the Earth Stay programme allows non-artists to live here and reap the benefits of this place too.

You know you’ve reached the right place as you roll up on the gravelled driveway and see a cluster of well- designed thatched mud homes, which have a low carbon footprint.

It’s a lesson in sustainable architecture, ideal for the sense of slow living that permeates the property. The living area of this “village” comprises three cottages, with walls made from sun-dried bricks, and roofs thatched by a team of female artisans from Bhuj. But the room’s true beauty lies in the outdoor bathroom quadrangle. A vertical garden with overflowing spider plants is the first thing you’ll see.

art-village-cottages

The mud cottages were designed by Bhuj-based Kiran Vaghela, who specialises in sustainable architecture

The loos have their own art installations – colourful recycled Corona bottles hang from the ceiling in one, while cut-outs of graphic art advocating feminist ideas adorn another.

Don’t spend all your time in the room though, as the outdoors is just as lovely. There’s a bed full of giant, happy-making sunflowers, with a ceramic mushroom totem pole erupting from between them. Stroll to the on-site nursery that brims with 40-year-old bonsai trees, orchids and ferns of every shape and size. It’s a horticulturist’s dream one that has been tended to by Ganga’s mother over decades.

 art-installation

The property is littered with art installations, like these assemblage artworks by Kunal Naik in the recreation area

There’s also lots of scope for cosying up with a book in a corner of the recreation area. If you don’t have your own, choose one from the property’s beautifully- illustrated books, or delve into its stock of art supplies to create your own masterpiece. Or, if any of the artistes are around, ask for a lowdown on their art -you could find yourself with pottery abilities you’d never known of before.

In the evenings, the staff at the village sets up a campfire (free). Plan in advance to barbecue chicken (they’ll help), and download a stargazing app to make the most of the clear night skies away from the city.

The property is close to trekking trails, so, if you don’t want to be lethargic, ask for a guide.

Stomp on giant dried-up leaves, stay away from the thorny barks of young silk cotton trees that would fit right into a horror film, and spot orange leopard butterflies.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you’ll realise Art Village is a work in progress. “That’s one of the cons of being an artist,” says Ganga, “Work is never quite finished.” Still, with a steady stream of ideas and a go-with-the-flow approach, there’s a lot that Art Village gets right.

FACT SHEET

GETTING THERE

Closest metro: Mumbai (55km) is two-and-a-half I to three hours away by road, depending on traffic.
Closest airport: Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (64km) is well connected i to other cities. Spicejet, GoAir, IndiGo, Jet Airways, Air India and Vistara fly to Mumbai from most major Indian cities.
Closest railhead: Karjat Railway Station (8km; KJT). Take the 11007 Deccan Express (leaves CSTM 7am, arrives KJT 8.43am) and return by the 11008 Deccan Express (leaves KJT 5.30pm, arrives CSTM 7.35pm). Local trains also run between Mumbai and Karjat. Autorickshaws ply from the station to the property.

WHERE TO STAY

Art Village: This recently opened property offers an Earth Stay programme for guests. Stay options here comprise three well-designed cottages, with two rooms in every cottage. Each room can accommodate four guests. Rooms are basic and not air-conditioned. Art Village shares space with Tooth Mountain Farms and Nursery, a cosy farmstay, which has a lap pool and a manmade lake.

bedroom-art-village

Rooms are basic but comfortable

On weekdays, guests at the village are permitted to use the pool. There are plans for film screenings, a library, hammam and meditation space in the future.

WHERE TO EAT

Earth Café: This is the Art Village’s kitchen and dining area. The kitchen staff is made up of locals from the neighbouring village, so expect home­- made food. Lunch and dinner generally sees a vegetarian spread with dishes like baingan bharta or chhole, along with dal, rice, yoghurt, rods and salad. Come tea-time, a flask of hot chai and biscuits stands ready on the counter.

The kitchen is open to guests – remember to replenish what you use. The market at Chowk Village offers fresh produce, as well as chicken and fish that you can ask the kitchen to barbecue for a pre-dinner snack.

kaziranga-national-park

The Beautiful Wilderness of Kaziranga National Park, Assam

RIVERSIDE RENDEZVOUS

Lodge

noun

  • a small house at the gates of a park or in the grounds of a large house.
  • a small, makeshift or crude shelter

or habitation, as of boughs, poles, skins, earth, or rough boards; cabin or hut.

Don’t make the mistake of calling Diphlu River Lodge (DRL) a resort, especially not when Mr Roy, the General Manager, is around. You’ll be quickly reprimanded for it. It is a lodge. They’re quite particular about such things, and all the better for it. It’s not much to look at – the cabins are largely bamboo, with thatched roofs, and the gazebo overlooks quite a small pond. But don’t let that fool you. They’ve got a good thing going.

diphlu-river-lodge

The generous use of bamboo extends to the dining area as well

Spend some time here and you’ll see.

Now, Kaziranga is very popular with tourists. In fact, it would be safe to say that it’s put Northeast India on the world tourist map. So, it’s no surprise that hotels and resorts of all shapes, sizes and budgets have sprung up like mushrooms in the monsoon. And they’re pulling out all the stops to grab eyeballs. Imagine a place in the middle of all this din that decides not to put up even a basic signboard at the entrance. That’s DRL for you. Although locating it is quite easy using Google Maps, it’s pointless unless you have a reservation. You can’t just drop in for a cup of tea, and that’s something you’ll appreciate immensely when you’re a guest there, like being on an island of solitude in the middle of mayhem.

gazebo

The gazebo overlooking the lily pond is ideal for an evening cuppa

The secret is service: unobtrusive and efficient. Perhaps it’s a skill they perfected when the Duchess of Cambridge was a guest, or maybe Kate came because they’d gotten it down pat. Even regular things like the turn-down service are made a bit better because of the attention to detail. No tea bags and milk powder in the rooms, here. There’s real milk in the mini fridge, and three types of tea leaves to choose from. But perhaps the best bit is that they only have one type of tariff, and it includes everything (see Where to Stay). Although it might seem like a tad much at first glance, it includes meals, safaris, guide fees, and even camera charges, which works out to be quite reasonable.

The property is on the banks of the Diphlu River, which runs along the southern border of Kaziranga, and its residents can often be spotted from the lodge. Large flocks of bar-headed geese can be seen feeding on the grassy banks of the river; rhinos, too, are known to make an appearance.

rhino-kaziranga-national-park

Rhino sightings are practically a given a Kaziranga National Park

But that’s no surprise considering the sheer density of wildlife in Kaziranga, which is what makes it such a big draw for wildlife enthusiasts. The alluvial flood plains of the Brahmaputra River feed a thriving ecosystem, and the greater one-horned rhinoceros is an almost-guaranteed sighting on elephant or jeep safaris. Apart from these, a boat ride on the Brahmaputra for a chance sighting of the Gangetic dolphin also comes recommended.

indian-roller

Indian Rollers are particularly brave, and pose happily for photos

Despite being situated along such a vibrant national park, it’s not just about the safaris at DRL. The folks here encourage you to try non-wildlife related activities, like tea garden visits and walks through rubber plantations, or just lazing back at the resort. As the evening sun bathes the mustard patch in a golden glow, and lilies tremble in the breeze, the gazebo becomes the best seat in the house at which to nurse your cup of tea till the stars come out.

FACT SHEET

GETTING THERE

Closest metro: Kolkata (1,148km)
Closest city: Guwahati (200km)
Closest airports: Salonibari Airport, Tezpu, is 68km away. Air India flies from Kolkata, with a stopover in Guwahati. But there are limited options to choose from. For more flexibility, fly into Guwahati. IndiGo, Jet Airways, Spicejet, Vistara, GoAir and Air India have daily, non-stop flights from Kolkata.

Diphlu River Lodge is a four-hour drive away.

WHERE TO STAY

Diphlu River Lodge: The lodge offers 12 cabins, all of which are built on stilts. Of these, eight are seperate and two cabins are semi-detached cottages.

Pick one of the four cabins that overlook the river, like Kate Middleton and Prince William did. The decor is unostentatious and rooms are large and well-appointed, with each opening into a small balcony. Beware of the jet sprays in the toilets, though. The force of the water is so high that a firm squeeze can cause a recoil almost like that of a small firearm.

WHERE TO EAT

All meals are served at The Machan restaurant in the common area.

The dining area opens out into two verandahs, one of which overlooks the Diphlu River. All meals are served buffet-style, with select items like omelettes and parathas  being prepared on demand. Usually every few days, one meal is a traditional Assamese spread.

madhya-pradesh

Time Traveling in Madhya Pradesh

MAHESHWAR

ahilya-bai-fort

Ahilya Bai Fort

A town on the banks of the River Narmada, Maheshwar has had spiritual significance since the time of the Mahabharata and Ramayana, as it is believed to be what was then called Mahishmati. Bursting with folklore, history and culture, its myths and tales are fascinating to listen to. The streets of Maheshwar are lined with colourful wooden houses with hanging balconies, a contrast to the old temple architecture.

This town, which sometimes feels like a miniature Varanasi, attracts sadhus, pilgrims and tourists to its ghats and temples, rich in tales dating back to the holiest era of Hinduism. The Ahilya Bai Fort, inside which the Holkar queen built a palace, is popular with visitors for the archaeological museum and the life-sized statue of Rani Ahilya Bai. It is also where you can find Maheshwari saris and fabric with their unique reversible borders.

UJJAIN

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Ram Ghat

The ancient city of Ujjain is steeped in history dating back over 5,000 years, and was once the capital of a big empire. It is home to one of the WJyotirlingas, and it is believed that the city has never faced destruction because Mahakal, the God of Destruction, resides here.

Ram Ghat is the most popular of Ujjain’s riverside ghats; it is where Lord Ram is believed to have performed his father’s last rites. The ghats are ethereal at dawn and dusk, with cymbals reverberating and candles floating on the waters of the River Shipra. Also visit ved Shala, a  complex observatory which has five structures used to track and observe celestial bodies and time. According to the Puranas, of the seven cities that can provide salvation, Avantika (as Ujjain is also referred to) is considered the most beneficial to visit.

MANDU

jahaz-mahal-mandu

Jahaz Mahal

Embellished with Afghan architecture amid grounds dotted with baobab trees that boast African descent, the majestic palaces and gateways of Mandu are quite out of the fables your grandparents told you.

Twelve darwazas wall the city – take a walk and delve into the history and era of kings. A 10th-century fortress retreat, Mandu has what is considered the biggest fort in India. A memorial to the love between Rani Roopmati and Sultan Baz Bahadur, Roopmati’s Pavilion,  perched on the edge of the plateau, overlooking the plain below is the most beautiful of them all. A ship made of stone and mortar, Jahaz Mahal looks as though it is about to set sail, paying witness to the golden age of Mandu as it floats over the lake. The Jami Masjid was inspired by the Great Mosque of Damascus and Hoshang Shah’s Tomb,  which went on to inspire the Taj Mahal, and is India’s first marble monument. Take a bicycle tour and explore the history of regal invasions, with tombs, forts, palaces and monuments that stand tribute to a bygone era.

INDORE

lal-baag-palace

Lal Baag Palace

With its lively bazaars and cosmopolitan culture, Indore is a commercial dynamo.

The indo-Gothic Gandhi Hall, earlier known as the King Edward Hall, is made of Seoni stones, and its domes are impressive, it hosts several exhibitions through the year and also has a temple, library and children’s park.

One of the most stunning buildings is the three­storeyed Lai Baag Palace,  on the outskirts of the town on the banks of the River Khan, which was built by Maharaja Shivaji Rao Holkar.

The central Museum showcases the history of the Holkar Dynasty, and houses a rare and admirable collection of Parmer scriptures, coins, armours and artifacts. A fine example of the grandeur of the Holkar Dynasty’s architecture, the Holkar Palace, or Rajwada, is two centuries old, and features imperial gardens, fountains and an artificial waterfall.

BURHANPUR

raja-ki-chhatri-brahmanpur

Raja ki Chhatri

The town of Burhanpur, on the north bank of the River Tapti, has many significant monuments like Biwi ki Masjid, Badshahi Qila, Khooni Bhandar,

Raja ki Chhatri and the Jami Masjid. Raja ki Chhatri was constructed under Emperor Aurangzeb in memory of Raja Jai Singh, the then- commander of the Mughal force in the Deccan.

Burhanpur has a major tribal population that includes the Gond, Pardhan and Korku peoples to name a few. It hosts several cultural festivals, of which the Gotmat Mela is an exquisite and renowned example.

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The Wonders of Telangana

The region region achieved statehood after a prolonged struggle and is loom for its unique culture, dialect, cuisines and other aspects. Constituting a major part of Deccan plateau, Telangana has a pleasing climate, with abundant natural and water resources. The state is the gateway to Krishna and Godavari Rivers in South India and is considered the seed capital of India.

Telangana, the 29th and youngest state of India, formally recognised on June 2, 2014 is a treasure trove of tourist destinations. One of the largest states in South India, Telangana is known for its hospitality and multicultural and pluralistic society. Hyderabad, the capital city of this state is the fifth largest city in India and home to some of India’s best educational institutions, public sector and defence companies and a thriving global services sector and film industry. The state hosts of tourist destinations to cater all kind of travellers.

HYDERABAD

hyderabad

Hyderabad is the capital city of the Indian state of Telangana. The city is a hub for film industry, world-class public and private hospitals, central and state level research institutions, information technology industry, biotech, pharmacy industry and many public sector entities.

CHARMINAR:

charminar

Charminar a monument and a mosque, considered synonymous with the history of Hyderabad. It is a landmark monument of Hyderabad and it is believed that Mohammed Quli Qutub Shahi, the fifth sultan of the Qutub Shahi dynasty had built this monument to commemorate the end of a deadly plague menace that had gripped the city then. It is located near the banks of the river Musi.

GOLCONDA FORT:

GOLCONDA-FORT

Golconda Fort is located in the western part of Hyderabad city which occupies an area of three square kilometers, and is approximately 4.8 kilometers in length. It was initially a mud fort under the reign of the Raja of Warangal that was then fortified between 14th and 17th centuries by the Bahmani Sultans followed by the Qutub Shahi dynasty.

HUSSAINSAGAR LAKE:

HUSSAINSAGAR-LAKE

The boulevards of Hussain Sagar with its boulevards on a pleasant evening makes tourist enjoy the cool breeze smoothly caressing their senses welcoming them to this place. The tank bund is dotted with elegant statues of eminent historic personalities, which is the dam/embankment to the Hussain Saga; serves as the link between the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

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Get Your Adrenaline Dose in Goa – India

Known for its beaches and susegado, Goa is also great if you want to get a bit of activity in. And the best part? There’s something for every level of fitness.

WHY GO?

For an adventurous break

WHAT IS THERE TO DO?

Adrenaline junkies can kayak through mangrove-fringed backwaters or dive off cliffs in Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary. If taking a leap isn’t your thing, explore North Goa on a cycling tour or try your hand (sorry, body) at stand-up paddle boarding.

Activities

CANYONING

goa-CANYONING

A moderate-risk activity, canyoning involves trekking, abseiling, and making your way through open waters on the 3km-long Upper Sauri Canyoning trail at Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary with Goa Jungle Adventure. Just let go of your abseil and dive in at the end!

STAND-UP PADDLE BOARDING

STAND-UP PADDLE BOARDING-goa

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is simpler than traditional surfing, especially on gentle waters. And Otter’s Creek in Ashwem is perfect for this. In addition to SUP,

Vaayu Ocean Adventures (open Nov— May) also organises kite-surfing and lagoon excursions.

CYCLING

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Take a cycling tour of North Goa with Goa Nature Trails. The 15km trail will take you over gravelly tracks and jungle paths, tough-to-navigate slopes, as well as smooth city roads. There’s a pit-stop at the Aguada Fort to let you take in great views, and the tour ends at a restaurant.

KITE-SURFING

kite-surfing

Combining elements of surfing, paragliding and wake-boarding, kite-surfing sure is no piece of cake. But once you’ve perfected the art with Yogi Kiting at Morjim Beach, this extreme sport is bound to enthrall you.

KAYAKING

goa-KAYAKING

Gentler than sea kayaking, a kayaking trip on the Sal River backwaters with Goa Kayaking covers a 5km distance. You may spot egrets, kingfishers and cormorants on the way.

BOAT TRIP

john's-boat-tours

Take a boat trip with John’s Boat Tours on the Cumbarjua Canal to try and meet a few of the large croc population that hides in the mangrove-laden banks. There are a few avian species to be spotted too.

MINI GUIDE

Essentials

GETTING THERE

Goa’s Dabolim International Airport is very well connected to Indian cities. Air India, GoAir, IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Vistara fly to Goa from Mumbai and New Delhi.

WHEN TO GO

Tourist season begins in October and runs till April. This is the best time to visit if you want to truly make the most of the adventure activities Goa has to offer; a lot of them aren’t available through the monsoon.

Eat

SANTOSH BEACH RESTAURANT

SANTOSH-BEACH-RESTAURANT

Located on Turtle Beach, this simple establishment reportedly comes recommended by none other than celebrity chef Jamie Oliver! What you must try here is the seafood – ask for the catch of the day.

NATTI’S NATURALS

Natti’s Naturals is a retail store that also boasts an organic café. The food is all prepared fresh. If you’re a health food fiend, you’ll love the Veggie Salad Rice Bowl, a brown rice preparation that comes with a pumpkin hummus or a burnt aubergine dip.

PRANA CAFE

This eatery, located at Vaayu Village, serves healthy organic fare. Right from salads and crepes to sandwiches and curries, the menu features wholesome choices. The Jamaican Mango and Rum Curry comes recommended, as does the Raw Chocolate Mousse, which uses raw cacao, making the dish a healthy dessert option.

Sleep

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Vaayu Waterman’s Village

Located in North Goa, Vaayu Waterman’s Village in Ashwem has air-conditioned cottages on offer, ideal for unwinding in after a day filled with activity.

If you’re looking for atmospheric accommodation in the capital, Panjim Inn in Fontainhas is a choice pick. A heritage mansion dating back to the 19th century, the property offers a total of 24 rooms. The staff is friendly and the service efficient.

La Mangrove is the perfect base from which to go canyoning in Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary. Just a few minutes away from Galgibag Beach (also known as Turtle Beach) towards the deep south of Goa, this eco-friendly property offers rooms in the form of classy teepees done up with minimalist wooden furniture. What’s better, it’s situated right by the river and offers absolute privacy.