Posted by: swapnaraju | May 9, 2013

Maldives  :  The Sunny Side of Life

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Maldives has deep blue seas, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches and palm trees. It is also a place full of character, where its people have long spent their days languishing in the very essence of idyll living. While it is the perfect place to sit on a beach and watch a sunset with a cocktail balanced on your hand, it is also a geographical marvel, knowing that there are thousands of fish swimming around the vivid corals just a few feet away from where you sit.

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The Maldives consists of hundreds of paradisiacal islands and coral atolls and are situated off the coasts of Southern Asia’s India and Sri Lanka. The majority of these islands are uninhabited, but those that are populated feature either sleepy local settlements surrounded by pristine beaches or first rate international seaside resort hotels.
6Snorkeling (underwater swimming without any more breathing equipment than a snorkel) is almost a national pastime in the Maldives . Almost all of the islands’ beaches feature sparkling white sand and seas of the purest sapphire blue, there are several resorts and beaches in the Maldives that deserve further inspection. o­ne of these is the Nika Island Resort, which is located about 74km away from the country’s capital at Male and which lies o­n an enchanting lagoon. Apart from snorkeling, visitors can also enjoy such diverse water activities as windsurfing, sunset fishing and canoeing.

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The Banyan Tree Island Resort o­n the North Male Atoll is another example of a stunning Maldives seaside site. This resort’s beaches are the ideal venues for scuba diving, catamaran sailing and night-fishing and visitors can also enjoy water-skiing and deep sea fishing. The surf surrounding the South Male Atoll’s Cocoa Island Resort is enriched by the exotic species that wander in from the nearby Kandooma Channel, and fishing here can be a thrilling experience.

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The Maldives offers spectacular beaches where everyone can have fun in the sun

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Posted by: swapnaraju | March 1, 2013

Kumbh Mela – Largest Religious Gathering on Earth

KUMBH MELA

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The Kumbh Mela, believed to be the largest religious gathering on earth is held every 12 years on the banks of the ‘Sangam’- the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. The Mela alternates between Nasik, Allahabad, Ujjain and Haridwar every three years. The one celebrated at the Holy Sangam in Allahabad is the largest and holiest of them.

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The Kumbh festival gets bigger with every edition. In 2001, over 40 million people attended the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad.

This year’s Kumbh mela is expected to bring together 100 million people from different part of India and from countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Indonesia and Japan.

videshi-51164a5f11180Kumbh also holds a special reverence in other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism and tens of thousands of monks visit the Kumbh to take a dip in the sacred waters.

Here are 10 things about the Kumbh Mela that you probably didn’t know

1. Kumbh, literally means ‘pitcher’. As per Hindu scriptures, the festival got its name after the four drops of elixir obtained in Samudra Manthan that fell on Earth during the struggle between devas and asuras for immortality. Kumbh is celebrated at the four places where the four drops are supposed to have fallen — Prayag, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain.

2. During the 55 days that the event is held, the entire Kumbh Mela area is designated as a district. The makeshift township is constructed and deconstructed within weeks.8465145394_af96d3ab5b_z

3. The Kumbh mela has its own police station, fire station, post office, railways reservation counter which is rebuilt every 12 years.

4. The order in which the Sadhus enter the water is fixed. First the Juna, and the Niranjani and Mahanirvani akharas proceed into the water.

5. The first written evidence of the Kumbh Mela can be found in the accounts of Chinese traveller Huan Tsang who visited India in 629–645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana.

6. The Kumbh Festival starts from Haridwar and is celebrated at Prayag, Nashik and Ujjain at an interval of 3 years. The celebrations return to Allahabad after 12 years.

7. Over fifteen pontoon bridges and 35,000 toilets have been set up for the nearly two-month long Mela this time.

8. After visiting the Kumbh Mela of 1895, Mark Twain wrote: “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the KumbhMela_AP_2013impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.

9. The Kumbh Mela is going to be the subject of a case study at Harvard University. Researchers will study the logistics and economics behind it, and the ‘pop-up mega-city’ that comes to life in Allahabad during the religious event.

1355482654_465038963_4-Kumbh-Mela-Allahabad-2013-Community10. The total area of the Mela premises is 50.83 square kilometres, almost double the size of the event in 2001 and more than 200 times the area of Vatican City, world’s smallest country.

Posted by: swapnaraju | February 20, 2013

KERALA – GOD’S OWN COUNTRY

KERALA, GOD’S OWN COUNTRY

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Kerala , a state situated on the tropical Malabar Coast of Southwestern India, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. With the Arabian Sea in the west, the Western Ghats towering 500-2700 ms in the east and networked by 44 rivers, Kerala enjoys unique geographical features that have made it one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia. An equable climate. A long shoreline with serene beaches. Tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters. Lush hill stations and exotic wildlife. Waterfalls. images (2)Sprawling plantations and paddy fields. Ayurvedic health holidays. Enchanting art forms. Magical festivals. Historic and cultural monuments. An exotic cuisine… All of which offer you a unique experience. And what’s more, each of these charming destinations is only a two hour drive from the other. A singular advantage no other destination offers.

Kerala, India’s most advanced society: With hundred percent literacy. World-class health care systems. India’s lowest infant mortality and highest life expectancy rates. The highest physical quality of life in India. Peaceful and pristine, Kerala is also India’s cleanest state

Beaches

Varkala
About 50km from Thiruvananthapuram, and less crowded than Kovalam, Varkala is the only place in southern Kerala where the cliffs
varkalarun adjacent to the sea. There is also a 2000-year-old Vishnu temple for those looking for some soul-searching.

Marari
Located 11km from Alleppey and about 60k from Kochi, Marari is reputed not only for its stunning ecology but also its unparalleled cleanliness. The water here is perfect for a light swim, some snorkelling and if you’re lucky—even some surfing.

Bekal
South of Kerala’s northernmost district of Kasargod is Bekal. A relatively new entrant on the luxury traveller’s map, it is most famous for its fort, which is the oldest in Kerala. Explore the fort, drive through the coconut groves, and boat across the backwaters, and you will be greeted by Bekal’s astonishingly untouched beach.bekal

Kovalam
Kovalam is to Kerala what Baga is to Goa. Located 16km from Thiruvananthapuram and made up of three coves—Hawa Beach, Lighthouse Beach and Samudra Beach—

Kappad
Probably the most historic beach in Kerala, Kappad is where Vasco da Gama moored his ships in 1498. Located 16km from Kozhikhode, the beach here is partly rocky and partly
smooth.

BACK WATER

backwaterBackwaters are free from the pounding action of waves. Backwaters are one of the most alluring and economically valuable features of Kerala. These include lakes and ocean inlets which stretch irregularly along the coast.. The biggest backwater is the Vembanad lake with an area of 260 sq.km.

Second comes the Ashtamudi which covers an area of 55 sq.km. Sastamkota lake is the largest natural fresh water lake of the state. It extends over an area of 4sq.km. Other important backwaters are Veli, Kadhinamkulam, Anjuthengu (Anjengo), Edava, Nadayara, Paravoor, Kayamkulam, Kodungallur (Cranganore) and Chetuva. The backwater2deltas of the rivers interlink the backwaters providing excellent inland waterways along the lower and costal areas of the state.

Hill stations

Kerala has a long chain of lush, mid-clad hill stations that are home to exotic wildlife. All the hill resorts in Kerela offer the most enchanting experience of nature in all its virgin beauty

Munnar Hills

munnarMunnar hills is situated in the confluence of three mountain streams – Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni & Kundala. Situated 1600 metre above sealevel, this hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture-book towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town.


Ramakalmedu:

Rolling green hills and the fresh mountain air make Ramakalmedu and enchanting retreat. The hilltop also offers a panoramic view of the picturesque villages of Bodi and Cumbum on the eastern slope of the Western Ghats. Situated at a distance of 40 km from Thekkady and 75 km from Munnar

Echo Point

This scenic place gets its name from the natural echo phenomenon here. Echo Point is on the way to Top Station in Munnarecho

Rajamala
Rajamala is the natural habitat of the Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragas hylocres), the Eravikulam – Rajamala region is now home to half the world population – estimated at around 1300 – of this endangered mountain goat. But the Tahr is only one of the reasons to make a visit to Rajamala.

Vagamon
One of the most beautiful places with a chain of three hills – the Thangal hill, the Murugan hill and the Kurisumala, important for Muslims, Hindus and Christians respectively.

Pullumedu
Velvet lawns and rare flora and fauna add to the beauty of Pullumedu. The famous Sree Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala and the Makara Jyothi illuminations at the shrine are visible from here. The winding journey to this hill along the Periyar River, offers a stunning view of hills draped in lush greenery.


Vandanmedu

This is one of the world’s largest auction centres for cardamom. A walk through the sprawling cardamom plantations of Vandanmedu is a heady experience.

Chellarkovil
This sleepy little village with its breathtaking view of the plains and cascading waterfalls is a feast for the eyes. The village slopes down to the famous coconut groves of Cumbum in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Festivals

India is a land of fairs and festivals and Kerala is no exception to this. Besides the major festivals that are celebrated across India, there are numerous local festivals that are highly observed in Kerala. Most of the festivals of Kerala are connected with local traditions and religions, and are crucial to the social and cultural structure. There are certain festivities like the boat races, which originated to commemorate religious events but subsequently turned out to be events of social importance.

Vishu
One of the most important festivals of Kerala, Vishu is celebrated in the month of April. According to the old traditional Malayalam calendar, it is the 1st day of the New Year.
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Navratri
The Navratri celebration, that runs over 9 days, is known by different names in different parts of India. It is Durga Puja of Bengal, Dussehra of Bombay, and Saraswati Puja and Ayudha Puja of the south. The last three days of navratri, known as Durga Ashtami, Mahanavami, and Vijaya Dasami are the most important.

Onam
Onam
the harvest festival of Kerala, is the most important and popular festival of Kerala. It is celebrated with lots of fervor and gaiety. All Malayalis, irrespective of their religion, celebrate Onam. It falls in the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug-Sept).

Kerala, the Land of Ayurveda 

Ayurveda, the science of life and longevity, is the oldest healthcare system in the world and it combines the profound thoughts of medicine and philosophy.
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Kerala possesses an unbroken tradition of Ayurveda that has surpassed the many invasions and intrusions both foreign and native. For hundreds of years the Ayurveda Vaidyas (practitioners of Ayurveda) were almost the only access for people seeking healing from every kind of disease in Kerala. Kerala is the only State in India which practices this system of medicine with absolute dedication.

Being the only resort of treatment for the people, the Vaidyars of Kerala were challenged to interpret the theories of Ayurveda and adapt them actively into effective healing systems in everyday life. Thus almost all the contemporary procedures and protocols of Ayurveda have evolved in and around Kerala.

images (5)One of the many fascinating experiences for visitors to Kerala is without doubt the Home Stays. These are literally home away from home, allowing you to get close with the host family and the community that lives in an area.

Tucked away in misty plantation hills, amidst cool coconut groves, circled by backwaters, by the side of sun drenched beaches or in villages with distinct characteristics; home stays in Kerala offer you one of the most favoured means by visitors to enjoy and experience the culture, lifestyle and flavours of the land and its people.

Posted by: swapnaraju | February 19, 2013

UGANDA – Africa’s New Frontier

UGANDA

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The vast lakes , dense rain forests  and glacier-clad Rwenzori mountains and beautiful savanna grass land makes up the beautiful Uganda. It was not known to the world because of the nation and its people have been brutalized by dictators, battered by warlords,
images (2)and negatively portrayed by viral videos. The Safari goers just bypass this beautiful land, visiting neighboring nations Kenya and Tanzania. But ever since it has been picked up as best tourist destination by Lonely Planet and National geographic the things has changed.

download (1)The headwaters of the Nile originate here, then burst through a cleft in the rocks at Murchison Falls. Uganda’s parade of animals is amazingly diverse. Hippos graze along the shores of Lake Edward in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, while lions lounge in the trees of Ishasha, in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The star in Bwindi is the mountain gorilla, a species down to about 720 animals visible in their tiny habitat.

“The pride of Uganda’s tourism lies in the undisturbed green nature that welcomes you the moment you land in Uganda whether by air, water, land or any means of transportation,” stated the National Geographic.

“Getting out of the city will be a rewarding experience with a variety of bird species, wildlife, and the rare mountain gorillas that have been ‘a hot cake’ to Uganda.”

The best times are January-March and June-August where there is not much rain and it is normally dry.

What to see

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In the heart of Uganda’s central region, you will many preserved cultural sites and destinations suitable for adventures and researchers. These range from tombs, kingdom heritage sites and buildings, Kampala and Entebbe city centres, falls and massive water bodies such Lake Victoria.

uganda-rwenzorisThe Western part of Uganda is one beautiful wonderland gifted with golden grasslands, green tea plantations, hills with terrace gardens, thick tropical rainforests and a snow peaked Mountain, The Rwenzori. There are game parks, game reserves and forest reserves in this region, which you can visit in only a 2½ hrs drive from Kampala.

The North provides yet another awe inspiring destination with ample opportunity to view Ugandan tribes, culture and wildlife in a stunning location.06 - Samburu Warriors

Travelling eastwards you’ll come across the source of the river Nile where you can enjoy a boat ride or for the more adventurous among you, bungee jumping or white water rafting at Bujagali falls. The eastern region also offers you the opportunity to visit Tororo rocks, the Elgon Mountain, Nyero rock paintings in the Kumi district, Mt. Moroto and so much more.

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The country has over 3,200 tourism sites although efforts are underway to classify them for better tourism promotion according to the Ministry of Tourism.

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Posted by: swapnaraju | February 13, 2013

RAJA AMPAT – AMAZON OF THE OCEANS

RAJA AMPAT –  AMAZON OF THE OCEANS

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 Spectacular biodiversity beneath the ocean with wide variety of species, stunningly beautiful above water as it is below, Raja Ampat (which literally translates as “The Four Kings”) has a astonishing diversity of habitats to look at. A mini-archipelago of rain-forest-clad islands, cays, mangroves, and pearlescent beaches off the coast of West Papua, Indonesia, this marine frontier brims with life. Each of these habitats – from the stark wave-pounded slopes that drop away beneath the karst cliffs of Wayag and Uranie to the deep, nutrient-imagesrich bays of Mayalibit, Kabui and Aljui to the “blue watermangrove” channels of Kofiau and Gam to the plankton-rich upwelling areas of Misool and the Dampier Strait – are home to unique assemblages of species that, when taken together, add to produce the most impressive species lists ever compiled for a coral reef system of this size. Expect close encounters with recent discoveries such as Raja Ampat’s walking shark and pygmy seahorse, along with more familiar creatures—manta rays, leatherback turtles, and bumphead parrotfish.

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1,309 fish species, 537 coral species (a remarkable 96% of all scleractinia recorded from Indonesia are likely to occur in these islands and 75% of all species that exist in the world), and 699 mollusk species, the variety of marine life is staggering. Some areas boast enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks.

It is not difficult to reach to Raja Ampat.  It takes six hours flight from Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia to Sorong. Then, taking boat to reach the islands.Indonesia-Raja-Ampat-by-David-Doubilet-@-National-Geographic-1

Best to time to be there is Late September through early June.

Misool Eco Resort is an exclusive dive resort and conservation centre located in remote southern Raja Ampat, Indonesia. It is resort island is nestled deep in an archipelago of uninhabited islands, in the very epicentre of marine biodiversity.

The  resort island, Batbitim, is a true tropical hideaway, just south of the equator and fringed with powder-white beaches and pristine coral reefs. With a maximum capacity of just 32 guests and a staff-to-guest ratio of 3 to 1, we offer exclusive luxury diving holidays, surrounded by the world’s richest reefs.

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Posted by: swapnaraju | January 31, 2013

GOA – INDIA’S RICHEST STATE

Goa : India’s richest state

Goa, a tiny emerald land on the west coast of India, the 25th State in the Union of States of India, was liberated from Portuguese rule in 1961. It was part of Union territory of Goa, Daman & Diu till 30 May 1987 when it was carved out to form a separate State.

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A very striking feature of Goa is the harmonious relationship among various religious communities, who have lived together peacefully for generations. Though a late entrant to the planning process, Goa has emerged as one of the most developed States in India and even achieved the ranking of one of the best states in India with regards to investment environment and infrastructure.

The traveller is here to find something different: a balm on the busy mind, to enjoy days of freedom on Goa’s magnificent beaches, to parasail or swim with the tide of fellow visitors from all around the globe, to savour its unique cuisine and imbibe its spirits, to take a long and invigorating trek in its unexplored interiors, to marvel at its majestic temples and churches, in short, to be at one with the most friendly people in the country.

What to see

churches

Basilica of BomJesus, Old Goa

BASILICA‘Bom Jesus’ means ‘Infant Jesus’ or ‘Good Jesus’. When you set foot inside the Basilica, you will see a stunning display of architectural pieces in wood, stone, gold and granite.

 

Chapel and Tomb of St. Francis Xavier

It is inside this chapel that one will come across the silver casket that houses the immortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.

 

Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Old Goa

If you fancy ancient workmanship, then you will be definitely in full praise of the 17th century pieces of religious art. There is a beautiful octagonal tabernacle in the middle of the which is richly decorated in an ornate style.

Mary Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim

Ever placed a candle in the dark? Noticed how the colors of the night and the candle become one and emit a beautiful kaleidoscope of white, yellow and orange? If your answer is yes, then this is one Church you need to visit at night.MARY

 

Chapel of St. Catherine, Old Goa

This chapel dedicated to St. Catherine stands as a living monument to the conquest of Goa by Alburquerque. You will see a statue of Our Lady as you enter the chapel.

St. Cajetan Church, Old Goa

If any of you have ever visited St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, you will be amazed to find its striking resemblance with the St. Cajetan Church. Equally awesome is the high vault on which are inscribed the words of Christ “My House Is A House Of The Words Of Christ”.

Other notable churches are :

Reis Magos Church, Bardez

Church Of Mae De Deus, Saligao, Bardez

Shrine Of The Holy Cross, Bambolim

Holy Spirit Church, Margao

Our Lady Of Grace Church, Margao

Our Lady Of Rosary Church, Navelim

Church Of Rachol, Margao

St. Jerome Church, Mapusa

Beaches

CRESCENT BEACHES

Shaped like the new moon, Goa’s beaches are known the world over. Fringed by swaying palm and coconut trees with cool and comfortable shacks offering a variety of refreshments, Goa’s 103 km coastline is blessed with the most enchanting beaches lapped by the Arabian Sea.. And almost all of them are swimmer friendly with the assured presence of lifeguards on all the popular beaches.

 

NORTH GOA

CALANGUTE 

Calangute-Beach-1Calangute is the most popular beach with thousands thronging it in both the peak and off-season. The waves rise high above as you wash away your city blues, though swimmer need to be a trifle cautious because of the sudden drop and the rising waves.

BAGA

A few kms down the beach is another—Baga. Compared to Calangute, Baga is quieter and also more isolated. Its scenic beauty, with the creek, the Retreat House perched on the hill and the fewer tourist buses all have contributed to its unique beauty. It is more popular with western tourists who love to use it as a base for water sports and fishing in the area.

VAGATOR 

This most photographed beach of Goa forms a bay that curves from the headland to the hillock crowned by the Chapora Fort. This beautiful arc of sand is located about 22 kms from Panaji and is part of the 30 km stretch of beach coastline along the west coast of Goa.

ANJUNA

Located about 18 kms from Panaji, the beach is known for its breeze-catching palms, soft sand, and the unusual rocky formation overlying a cove of whitish sand.and black rock that juts into the sea.

SINQUERIM

With its magnificent 17th century fort which has now been converted into a prison, Sinquerim is one of the finest beaches in Goa, offering international class facilities for water-skiing, parasailing, fishing, scuba-diving and wind-surfing.SINQUERIM

Other beaches are :

CANDOLIM, AGUADA, MORJIM ,  ARAMBOL or HARMAL, MIRAMAR

SOUTH GOA

PALOLEM

Palolem is a cosy beach of white sand facing a blue bay between two headlands. The little wooded islands on the northern headland look alluring — this is also a fishing beach — to ferry you across. They also offer to take you out to spot dolphins. Tourists have of late discovered Palolem and so there are quite a few shacks selling seafood snacks, souvenirs and clothes of the bright, informal kind. Panaji, the capital, is more than 70 kms away.

AGONDA

Agonda is long and lonely, fringed with palms and casuarinas and dominated by a large hill to the south.Agonda is a 3 km long beautiful cove of white sand, safely secluded in the palms. There are no tourists, no souvenir stalls, no restaurants—just peace and tranquility. Just the trees, the beach, the big beautiful ocean and you.

The other beaches of south goa are

VARCA, CAVELOSSIM, MOBOR, BETALBATIM, COLVA MAJORDA,   BOGMALO, BENAULIM, BETUL 

Wildlife sanctuary and National Park

 

Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park

bhagwannationalparkmainimageSituated along the North East border of Goa at Molem, about one-and-a-half hours’ journey from Panaji (60 kms), the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary covers 240 sq.kms of thick forest clad slopes on the Western Ghats and its valleys and is the biggest of the three sanctuaries of Goa. Rich in wildlife, it is a paraside for bird watchers. Besides flora and fauna, there are many important geological and historical features in this sanctuary. Dushsagar falls, about an hour’s journey from Colem by train, is a feast for the eyes. The ‘Devil Canyon’ is another beautiful geological spot. The famous Lord Mahadeva Temple situated at Tambdi Surla is about 13 kms from Molem.

Bondla Forest

52 kms. from Panaji and 36 kms. from Margao, it is the smaller of the three wildlife sanctuaries of Goa. More then a sanctuary, it is an ideal jungle resort, a major attraction for school going children and nature lovers. Its mini zoological Park, Deer Safari Park, , Botanical gardens, Nature Education Centre, wildlife and nature trails, and archaeological exhibit attract people through the year.

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

image_3366_v1The second largest of the three wildlife sanctuaries in Goa, with an area of 105 sq. kms. is located about 76 kms. from Panaji, in Cancona Taluka in South Goa.. It is covered with dense forest and varied wildlife. The ancient Jeevottam Partagal Math, noted for its Vedic studies, lies in the vicinity of the sanctuary.


Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Spread over 1.78 Sq. kms. and located at the western tip of the island of Chorao along the river Mandovi near Panaji, it is fully covered with mangrove species. Varieties of local as well as migratory birds frequently visit the area.

Forts & Caves in Goa

Goa has a rich historical legacy that many don’t know about. A living testimony to this historical legacy is the famous forts of Goa. Not only are they popular tourist attractions but they also provide vital historical information to historians and archaeologists.

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A  spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that called there, giving it the name “Aguada” (meaning ‘water’ in Portuguese). On the northern side, it provides a harbour for local shipping. The fort, at present, houses the central jail. A 19th century built lighthouse is situated inside the fortress.

Chapora Fort

Chapora fort was built by the Adil Shah of Bijapur on the southern headland of the Chapora River. It was also known as “Shahpur” and is now mostly ruined. It has a commanding view of the Vagator beach and is near to Anjuna beach.

Mormugao Fort in Goa

This fort near the internationally famous Marmagoa Harbour was built to protect the harbour situated near the Vasco da Gama town. Its work started in 1624.
It had 53 guns and a garrison with 4 officers, and was an important fortress on the western coast.

Arvalem Caves or Pandav Caves (Fort)

CAVESArvalem caves is in Bicholim Taluka Approximate 45 Km from the city Panjim. This caves are know as ” “Pandav Caves”.

Aravalem Caves Excavated in the laterite hill consisting of two major caves and a residential cambers.

Accomodation

Various types of accommodation are as below, you can choose any one of these for Happy Stay 

City Accommodation           

Panaji Residency                              +91-832-2223396/2227103

Margao Residency                           +91-832-2715528/2715096

Mapusa Residency                          +91-832-2262794/2262694

Vasco Residency                              +91-832-2513119/2521002

Beach Accommodation       

Calangute Residency                      +91-832-2276024/2276109VarcaPalmsBeachResortV2

Calangute Annexe                           +91-832-2276009

Miramar Residency                         +91-832-2463811/2464154

Colva Residency                              +91-832-2788047/2788048

Economy Accommodation             

Farmagudi Residency                     +91-832-2335122/2335037

Old Goa Residency                         +91-832-2285327/2285013

Mayem Lake View                    +91-832-2362144

Britona Riverside          +91-832-2416107/2496478

Posted by: swapnaraju | December 29, 2012

Tirupati – Richest Temple

Tirupati Balaji is perhaps the greatest ‘pilgrimage phenomenon in the world, Not solely because of the millions who visit it, but because of the immense bhav (inner sentiments) with which pilgrims venerate the deity. Devotees readily donate not just cash, but whatever jewellery they may be wearing, in addition to their hair. Tirupati is a major pilgrimage and cultural city in the Chittoor district.  It is located at the foothills of the Eastern Ghats, 550 kilometres (340 mi) south of Hyderabad, the capital of the state, 250 kilometres (160 mi) east of Bangalore.

Tirupati is famous for the richest temple Venkateswara Swamy temple dedicated to Lord Venkateswara, located about 20 kilometres (12 mi) north west of Tirupati in the Tirumala hills at an elevation of 853 metres (2,799 ft). One of the most important pilgrimage centers in the World, the temple draws millions of pilgrims and is the busiest pilgrimage centre in the world. Tirupati City itself has several temples and is famous for its red wooden toys, copper and brass idols. Also, the city is a major economical and educational hub in the southern region of the state. Tirupati is also the largest Metropolitan city in Rayalaseema and Southern Andhra Pradesh, and is the 5th largest city in terms of stand-alone city basis.

‘Tiru’ in Telugu means Shri (Lakshmi). ‘Pati’ means husband. Hence Tirupati is Shri’s consort, Vishnu. The Venkateshwar Mandir, in which Tirupati is consecrated, is located between seven hills, on a saucer–shaped plateau called Venkatachalam or Venkatadri.

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Shri Tirupati Balaji

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Visakhapatnam – Beautiful Beaches, Exotic Locations, Hill top views,  Port to watch, Venture into the sea, serene parks…and many more.

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Posted by: swapnaraju | December 18, 2012

JAIPUR – The Pink City

Jaipur  – The  Pink City

indexResplendent in the hues of its noble and magnificent past, the historic city of Jaipur stands out as one of the most spectacular and culturally vibrant destinations in the world.
A city of colors, the city charms its admirers and visitors with it confluence of terrains, colors, and cultures. The ancient city, immaculately planned by its learned king and his trusted architect, was amongst the first planned cities in the Indian subcontinent.
Doused in an appeasing pink, Jaipur has, over the years, come to don the title of India’s “ Pink City.” Rich in its historical heritage, every corner of Jaipur holds an interesting antidote and touch of old-world charm. The color of the city, too, has interesting stories and theories behind it.

Jaipur which means the city of victory was built exactly 273 years back and is 262 km by road from Delhi ( Capital of India ). A strong wall encircles the old city and even today has a suggestion of formidable strength, its function of protecting all within is obvious.

Jaipur has a hot semi – arid receiving over 650 millimetres (26 in) of rainfall annually but most rains occur in the monsoon months between June and September. Temperatures remain relatively high throughout the year, with the summer months of April to early July having average daily temperatures of around 30 °C (86 °F).

How to get their

By Plane

Jaipur Airport is situated in the satellite town of Sanganer and offers sporadic (chartered) service to London  and Dublin. Flights to Singapore and Bangkok are available via Delhi. Direct flights to Sharjah, Muscat and Dubai are also available.

By train

Indian Railways connects Jaipur from all over the country and is one of the cheapest options. A number of daily trains connect  to different parts of India.

By bus

There is an excellent bus service between Jaipur to Delhi by Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) with buses approximately every half an hour both sides.

Places to watch

Hawa Mahal

The renowned ‘Palace Of The Winds’, or Hawa Mahal, is one of the prominent tourist attractions in Jaipur city. Located in the heart of hawa mahalJaipur, this beautiful five-storey palace was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh who belonged to Kachhwaha Rajput dynasty. The main architect of this palace built of red and pink sandstone.

Amber Fort

The Amer Fort is situated in Amer, which is 11 kilometers from Jaipur. Amer, originally, amber fortwas the capital of the state before Jaipur. It is an old fort, built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh. This fort is also very popularly known as the Amer Palace. The Amer Fort was built in red sandstone and marble and the Maotha Lake adds a certain charm to the entire Fort.

City Palace

Located in the heart of the Pink City Jaipur, the City Palace was where the Maharaja reigned from. This palace also includes the famous ‘Chandra Mahal’ and ‘Mubarak Mahal’, and other citypalacebuildings which form a part of the palace complex.

Jaigarh Fort

The Jaigarh Fort is a majestic stronghold built by Sawan Jai Singh II. This almost-intact fort is surrounded by huge battlements and is connected to the Amer Fort (also called ‘Amber’ Fort), with subterranean passages. Originally built to protect the Amer Fort and the palace within the complex, the Jaigarh Fort is architecturally similar to the Amer Fort, and offers a panoramic view of the city of Jaipur. The fort houses the world’s largest cannon on wheels, a majestic palace complex and the assembly hall of the warriors known as ‘Shubhat Niwas’ along with a museum and an armory.

Jaipur Jantar Mantar

There are plenty of observatories all over the world, but the Jantar Mantar is considered to be one of the largest observatories ever jantar mantarbuilt. Combining religion, science and art, the Jantar Mantar is the name given to a series of five, magnificent structures built in Jaipur, New Delhi, Ujjan, Varanasi and Mathura.

Other important Forts are

Jai Mahal, Rambagh Palace, Central Museum, Albert Hall Museum.

GARDENS IN  JAIPUR

The Kanak Vrindavan Valley

The Kanak Vrindavan Valley is an exotic place in Jaipur, and is located on the way to the Amer Fort. Nuzzled at the bottom of the Nahargarh hill, the garden complex is surrounded by popular tourist spots such as the Amer Palace, Jaigarh fort and blankets of lush greenery. History states that the garden was given its name by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, approximately 280 years ago, when the kanak vridyavan valleycomplex was built.

Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh

Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh is situated at a distance of 10 km from Jaipur city and lies on Jaipur-Agra highway. This royal garden was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 1728 for his second queen Sisodia. Sisodia Rani Garden is adorned with beautiful wall paintings of Radha-Krishna love story. The paintings on the wall and the narrative details truly represent sisodiaeternal love and befits the essence of this garden which itself is a symbol of love. This lush green royal garden is replete with flowerbeds, foliage, beautiful water fountains, pavilions, galleries, iridescent water channels and murals.

The Vidyadhar garden

The Vidyadhar garden is a pristine garden located in the heart of Jaipur. One of Jaipur’s best-preserved gardens, this picturesque garden is aesthetically designed and was built in the memory of Jaipur’s chief Architect, Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. Apart from the crystal waters, the tranquil lakes, flower beds and well-maintained gardens, the Vidyadhar Garden has a lot to offer. Nestled in the lap of a popular valley in Jaipur, the garden offers a panoramic view of the city and is the pride of Jaipur’s heavy heritage and culture.

Fairs and Festivals of Jaipur

The Elephant Festival is an annual festival which is held every year in the Pink City, Jaipur. This matchless event is organised on the full moon day of Phalgun Purnima which falls in the month of February/March. It is celebrated on the day before the festivals of colours i.e. Holi.

Gangaur Festival

ganguarGangaur is one of the most vivid festivals rejoiced with great enthusiasm and happiness all over the Indian state of Rajasthan. In the word Gangaur, ‘Gan’ is the synonym for Lord Shiva whereas ‘Gaur’ stands for Gauri or Goddess Parvati. But mainly, this festival is held in the honour of Goddess Parvati as she is regarded as the epitome of marital love, strength, courage, power and excellence. It is a 18 days celebtration in the months of  March and April.

Kite Festival

Kite festival of Jaipur is observed on the day of Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan. Celebrated on 14th of January to mark the transition of the sun from dhanu rashi (Sagittarius) to makara rashi (Capricorn), the day is considered auspicious. It is said that Uttarayan or northward journey of the sun begins on the day of Makar Sankranti. State government even organises “International Kite Festival” in Jaipur for a stretch of three days wherein kite kite festivallovers from all over the world come and participate.

Temples

  • Govind Devji Temple – For Vaishnavites, particularly followers of Lord Krishna, this is the most important temple in the world after Vrindavan. Lord Krishna presiding in the temple were brought to Jaipur from Vrindavan during Mughal rein. According to popular legend, Lord Krishna’s idol in the temple looks exactly like Krishna’s form while his incarnation of Earth. It is located at Jainiwas Gardens, Jalebi Chowk, in the same campus as City Palace.
  • Moti Doongari temple is located in the center of Jaipur city. This Temple is the main center of religion for Jaipur people. Moti Dungri is basically a small hill, which means Pearl Hill. There is a Temple and a Palace on this hill. Moti Dungri temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and it is said that at the time of building this city, this temple was constructed first to protect the city.
  • lakshmiLakshmi Narayan Temple (aka The Marble Temple) (Birla Temple), (below the well known Moti Dungri fort). is a relatively new temple made of white marble with beautiful carvings. It covers a vast area in Jaipur city and is built in a contemporary manner. Birla Temple is completely constructed with finest high quality white marbles.
  • Jain Mandir (Shivdas Pura) 15-16 km from Jaipur, is a Jain temple in Shivdaspura and is well known as “Bara Padampura”. This temple comes under district Jaipur. Temple is a unique place of miracles and is famous in north India for its very beautiful statue of God Padamprabhu .
  • Galtaji is an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site situated 10 km from Jaipur on Jaipur-Agra highway near Sisodia Rani Garden. The main temple here is temple of Galtaji in constructed in pink stone.
  • Galwh Bagh (aka The Monkey Temple) and Suriya Mandir (aka The Sun Temple) are located on the Eastern edge of the city. Both locals and tourists come here to feed the surprisingly tame monkeys, use the temples, and enjoy the views.

Accommodation

  • Udai Villa (Approved by Dept.of Tourism, Govt. of Rajasthan), 88-B, Kanwar Nagar, (opp Sant Kanwar Ram Lawn) Near Govind Dev ji Temple, Jaipur, Rajasthan (INDIA), +91 9887073413, +91 9024207958  Udai Villa is a unique, family run luxury Home Stay located in the hearts of the beautiful and vibrant city of Jaipur.
  • Hotel Pratap, C-29, govind marg, rajapark (Near pink square mall), +91 141 2601836,  A budget hotel with beautiful and big rooms and near to all major tourist attraction. Free wifi facility.
  • Atithi Guest House, 1 Park House Scheme (opposite All India Radio), +91 141 2378679, +91 141 2379496. A nice, modern and very clean hotel a few minutes from the Pink City.
  • Bhim Vilas, Family run guesthouse located in the heart of the city. The service is friendly and it is also excellent value for money.
  • Chit Chat Guest house , D-160 Kabir Marg, Bani Park. +91 141 2201899, +91 2202843 Airport/rail station/bus station pick up available, nice restaurant.
  • Explorer’s Nest, 91 99 28517801, +91 141 2376173, The house has ethnic decor and is situated at a quiet place 5min walk from the center. The whole atmosphere is that of personal care and warmth

Hotels

  1. Bottom of Form
  2. Oberoi Rajvilas hotels
  3. Taj Rambagh Palace
  4. Jas Vilas
  5. Royal Heritage Haveli
  6. Devi Niketan
  7. Hotel Pearl Palace
  8. Nahargarh Haveli
  9. Hotel Meghniwas
  10. Hotel Anuraag Villa
  11. Barwara Kothi
  12. Sunder Palace Guest House
  13. ITC Rajputana, Jaipur
  14. 14.  Savista Retreat
  15. 15.  Hotel Royal Orchid, Jaipur
  16. 16.  Samode Haveli  etc..

 

 

Posted by: swapnaraju | December 14, 2012

VARANASI – Oldest Living Cities

VARANASI – THE OLDEST LIVING CITIES

VARANASI

Once known as Benares or Banaras and Kashi, is a historical city in northern India. The city is sacred to Hindus and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. In many ways Varanasi epitomizes the very best and worst aspects of India, and it can be a little overwhelming. However, the scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganges at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights in the world. Some people believe that Varanasi is a must see destination on any trip to northern India. Others do not find it particularly interesting to see Hindus bathing themselves in the Ganges, and are turned off by the feces that floods the Ganges and covers the alleys of Varanasi.

To be in Varanasi is an experience in itself an experience in self–discover an eternal oneness of the body and soul. To every visitor; Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges, the high-banks, the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue soul stirring hymns and mantras alongwith the fragrance of incense filling the air and the refreshing dip in the holy waters gently splashing at the Ghats. Varanasi – the land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss.

Varanasi is well connected by train and bus, with multiple of each heading in every direction daily. The trains and buses are dirty and overcrowded by Western standards.

By train

Trains are the easiest way to reach Varanasi, with multiple daily services to cities including  Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Mumbai and Kolkata.

aranasi is well connected by train and bus, with multiple of each heading in every direction daily. The trains and buses are dirty and overcrowded by Western standards.

By bus

There are daily buses to the Nepal  border and other points around northern India. Local buses leave from the main bus station near the train station, almost every hour in the morning and one in the evening, to Gorakhpur (5-6 hrs, Rs 120), from where buses leave to the Nepali border at Sonauli (~3 hrs, Rs 56).

There are buses run by state government from Lucknow (8hrs), Kanpur (9hrs – Rs. 195) and Allahabad(3hrs – Rs. 88)

By plane

Varanasi Airport is about 25km from the city center. Indian Airlines ,  Jet Airways/JetLite ,  Kingfisher ,  and SpiceJet.

PLACES OF INTEREST

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

KASI VISWANADH TEMPLEStanding on the western bank of India’s holiest river Ganges, Varanasi is the oldest surviving city of the world and the cultural capital of India. It is in the heart of this city that there stands in its fullest majesty the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in which is enshrined the Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishweshwara or Vishwanatha. Here gravitate the teeming millions of India to seek benediction and spiritual peace by the darshan of this Jyotirlinga which confers liberation from the bondages of maya and the inexorable entanglements of the world. A simple glimpse of the Jyotirlinga is a soul-cleansing experience that transforms life and puts it on the path of knowledge and bhakti.

Banaras Hindu University

The Banaras Hindu University was established in 1916 by special efforts of Nationalist Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. Today it has grown into one of the biggest universities of India. BARAT KALA BHAWAN, B.H.U Started in 1950 as a university museum, Bharat Kala Bhawan in famous for its unique collection of miniature paintings. It has a rich collection of Rajasthani paintings, Pichhawai’s, pahari painting, Nepalese & Tibetan Thankas, Company paintings as well as paintings of contemporary artists, illustrated Mrigavati, Kalpa Sutra, Chora-Panchasika, Laura-Chanda, Shah-nama and some pages of Humza-nama Are the proud possessions of this museum.

Kashi Vidyapeeth

Kashi Vidyapeeth was set up in 1920 by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta to provide Kasi vidya peethalternate education arrangement discarding that of the British. It soon became a centre of natoinal education with Hindi as the medium of instruction. Acharya Narendradev, Babu Sampurnanand, Babu Sriprakash & many more Luminaries of the time have been associated with this institute.

River Front (Ghats)

ghatsThe spectacular 4 km sweep of the Ghats is unique sight, best viewed at dawn, in that “soft first light” when the river and Ghats have a timeless appeal. Life is almost panoramic detail unfolds here from dawn to dusk as a steady stream of devotees-swelling to thousands on auspicious days –perform rituals by the Ganga. The Ghats are best approached by Dashashwamedha ghat, where boats are available on hire.

Some of the main ghats, from north to south:

  • Panchganga Ghat – the meeting of the five rivers
  • Manikarnika Ghat – the main cremation ghat; a must-see, but remain quiet and never take photographs (note: scams are plentiful here; see the “Staying Safe” section)
  • Dasaswamedh Ghat – the main ghat and site of the large evening aarti; only reachable by foot at some times of day, about a 5 minute walk south from Godaulia
  • Rana Ghat
  • Kedar Ghat – brightly painted in stripes and busy with bathers, very photogenic
  • Narad Ghat – the ghat on which bathing with spouse is not advised because the myth of contention
  • Harishchandra Ghat – the cremation place were Raja Harishchandra did the last rituals of his son.
  • Hanuman Ghat
  • Shivala Ghat
  • Tulsi Ghat – site of the large water purification plant
  • Assi Ghat – a popular place to stay with many hotels, restaurants and internet cafes

Durga Temple

durga templeGodess Durga is considered as the goddess of Strength and Power. This temple was built in the 18th century with red stone work. A fine example of Nagara art. This temple falls on the main route from Railway Station to BHU, just before Tulsi Manas temple and Sankatmochan temple.

Tulsi Manas Temple

tulasi manas templeConstructed by family of Varanasi, this modern temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. It is situated at the place Where Tulisdas, the great medieval seer, lived and wrote the epic “Shri Ramcharitmanas”, which narrates the life of Lord Rama, the hero of the Ramayana. Verses from Tulidas’s epic are inscribed on the walls. SANKATMOCHAN TEMPLE Lord Hanuman temple, who is known to be the ‘Sankatmochak’ is just 300 meters from Tulsi Manas Temple. It is an ancient temple considered as built by Goswami Tulsidas himself.

New Vishwanath Temple

Situated in the premises of Banaras Hindu University, a modern place of worship planned by Pandit Malviya and built by the Birlas. Open to all, irrespective of caste or creed.

AlamgirMosque

An amalgmation of Hindu-Muslim religious sentiments, this mosque is also known as ” Beni Madhav ka Darera”. Curiously, the entire lower portion of the mosque is retained as a Hindu temple.

Bharatmata Temple

This Temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936 and houses one bharat mataperfect relief maps of India carved out of marble.The Temple was gifted by the nationalists Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta (Barat Ratana ) and shri Durga Prasad Khatri, leading numismatists and antiquarians.

Central Institute of Highe Tibetan Studies

The only institute of its kind in the world, , imprating education in the Tibetan language, it was Est. by the Dalai Lama in 1971. Presently located at Sarnath.The institute has a rare collection of Buddhist texts, Tibetan manuscripts and other journals.

Jain temple

The Famous Jain Saint Shvetambar temple is there juust on the way from Railway Station to BHU, before Bhelupur street.

Sarnath 

It is believed that in Sarnath Buddha gave his first sermon to his saranathdisciples after getting enlightenment. There is also a Museum in Sarnath. The exact location is also known as Deer Park. Sarnath is 13 Km from Varanasi and is very peaceful. Several Asian countries have built Buddhist temples there following their own ancient architectural traditions.

Ram Nagar Fort – The fort of the King of Kashi which is situated at the other side of the river.

Gauri Matha Temple

The devi at this temple is supposed to be the sister of the lord Kashi Vishwanath. Its a tradition to visit her just before you leave Kashi. You buy sea shells at this place and offer them to the God saying that the virtues of donating the shells goes to her while you keep the virtues of having visited the holy shrines in Kashi and bathing in the ganges. The trip to Kashi is expected to yield results only after completing this custom.

ACCOMMODATION

1.         Hotel Taj Ganges

Nadesar, Ph.-091-542-2503001

2.         Hotel Radisson

The Mall ,Cantoment

3          Hotel Clarks

The Mall ,Cantoment

4          Hotel Sidhartha

Sigra Ph-2221961

5          Hotel HindustanInternational

Maldahiya Ph.- 091-542-2393012

6          Hotel India

Nadesar

7          Hotel De-Paris

The Mall ,Cantoment, Ph.-091-542-2505133

8          Hotel Vaibhav

Ph.-091-542-2507593

9          Hotel Meredian Grant

Patel Nagar

10        Hotel Pradeep

Lahurabir, Ph.-091-542-2204594

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