Part#2 – Unleashing Northeast India – Land of Lamas, Rains, Rhinos and Momos!! By Abhimanyu

Part#2 – Tip toeing – Tawang and reaching Dirang!

We slept over with the Soldier’s stories of peace and altitude and how they live in extreme climate conditions at various posts across length and width of this beautiful Country called India.

@Tawang, the night temperature dipped to sub-zero and 3 layers of cloths, 2 blankets and a heater could brave us through that night.

Hold on, if you have landed to this page directly, please click Part#1 to read the prequel. Do come back here.

Day#3 –

  • Bumla Pass and Madhuri lake
  • Travel time – 8 hours tour
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Hotel Mon-Paradise

Woke up fresh and got ready at 8 am after eating some ready to eat poha and upma prepared by Akshata (Chotu). Reached downstairs to find our Chauffer for the day Mr. Tashi.

No, don’t think that Simanta got bored of our poha-jalebi talks and decided to part ways. In Tawang you are required to book a local taxi to visit Bumla Pass and Madhuri lake. Cost is approx. 5000/- all-inclusive and tour duration is about 7~8 hours. I think this arrangement is made to provide earning opportunities to the locals. That’s Good specially for Simanta as he got a rest day to spend with his favourite mawa and probably talk to his family over phone.

Tashi drove a Tata Sumo and could speak Hindi fluently. He had a footballer’s physique, spikes hairstyle and donned Ray-Ban aviators. He played some good music from the 90’s era which we really enjoyed.

Before moving ahead with trip, an important information is that all tourists (including Indians) need an Inner Land Permit(ILP) to enter Arunachal Pradesh border. The fess is about 250/- per person and it can be applied online. Our tour agent got this arranged for us before the commencement of trip.

Tawang to Bumla pass is about 35 Kms and takes about 1.5 hours to reach. The path is so beautiful that you would never want it to end. We visited in February and it was the perfect time as the mountains was covered with magical white fresh snow.

Tashi had to tie a metal chain on the tyres of Sumo to escape skidding on the snow.

Reaching Bumla Pass we were thrilled to the core, only Dev had seen such heavy snow before this day during his visit to Swiss Alps. It was difficult to even walk as the snow was soft, fresh and about 3~4 ft deep or even more.

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All tourists were taken to a Army shed and served free hot tea and water for FREE. You are expected to wash your glasses and keep them clean for the next lot of tourist. Before we move further in the day, let me brief you about Bumlapass, histroy and its geographic importance.

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Bumla Pass, situated at an altitude of over 15,200 ft is snowbound for almost the entire year due to its steep elevation and presents a beautiful view of the Tibetan plateau. The road to the pass takes visitors through many sleepy hamlets and scenic lakes, making the drive memorable. Elegantly maintained by the Indian Army, Bumla Pass is a must for those who want to see how Indian soldiers protect the borders in the harshest of climes. The road to Bum La is also a historical route, the People’s Liberation Army of China invaded India during the 1962 Sino-Indian War. Here in Bum La Pass one of the fiercest battles took place in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. It is the pass from where Dalai Lama entered India escaping from Tibet.

After some tea and talks, one of the army officers took all tourists for a walk towards the border, and while all of us were breathing heavily the siren hooted and we were ordered to march back towards the army shed. It was scary as we thought there is some activity from China’s side but after another free tea and talks later, the officer told us that it was a routine round from the China side and there was nothing to worry about. Let’s go again, he said.

Officer explained us about the meetings that take place every quarter between the two army’s, talks of peace and co-existence, exchange of culture and some gifts from each side. Chinese are tough nuts, he said and guided us back to the Shed. Some pictures, snow fights, another round of tea and bowing down to our soldiers for their courage and bravery later we were all set to visit Madhuri Lake(Sangestar Tso) with our Tashi.

Indian actress namely Madhuri, danced besides Sangestar Tso in koyla movie and since then locals fondly call it as Madhuri lake. Now that’s real swag!

While waiting at Bumla pass, Tashi removed the metal chains thinking they aren’t needed any more. He was wrong, as our cab got stuck in snow as on the way to Madhuri lake.

All of us got down and tried to help but little did we know that our soldier would arrive all of a sudden in a truck and get us moving in minutes. Salute them, smiling and feeling useless at the same time we got inside the cab. Trisha(my wife) started to feel heavy head. Tashi told us it normal to experience this for people from the plains like us. Altitude and extreme sun rays to be blamed.  

Right on the turn towards lake, an army officer told us that the road is blocked due to heavy snow. We could not see the lake where Madhuri Dixit danced in 1997. I was 9 years back then and other three even younger. No worries guys, this kinda stuff keeps on happening on roadtrips and hill terrains told our very own Akshata Dixit. 😛

A few minutes later curvy roads, an army officer in uniform asked us for lift and we happily stopped to invite him inside. I think all soldiers have a lot of stories and they are great story tellers as well. He narrated a few to us and then Soldier and Tashi started to talk about current Prime Minister – Shri Narendra Modi. Tashi told us that, he likes Modi very much and trust that only Modi can uplift Arunachal Pradesh. There was no college in Tawang and everyone either dropped out after high-school or had to enrol in other states for studies, but now Tawang has a basic college, told Tashi.

The soldier got us some hot water to drink, which is the best way to beat the altitude sickness. Trisha felt a little better and after some time tashi dropped us to Hotel.

After lunch Dev and Akshata went on to see Tawang War Memorial with Simanta. Me and Trisha decided to rest for a while. Some chai, talks and lying around was what we needed.

After an early dinner in the ground floor restaurant and thanking Raju- the chef for the lovely food we dozed off again. Yes, like how the pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud.

Day#4 –

  • Tawang local and drive to Dirang
  • Travel time – 9+ Hours
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Gonpalok Homestay

Next morning, it was time for us to bid adieus to Tawang but not so quick. Simanta had some plans for sight seeing and we also have “never say never” attitude. 1st place was Tawang Monastery. Monasteries are usually serene this was more that just serene. It was surreal. We were welcomed by harmless monkeys and after spending some time in the Monastery, waved goodbyes from young kids wearing Buddhist robes and having books in hands.

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Next up was a Giant Buddha Statue, located at an elevated place. We found a small and pretty café behind the statue to spend some good time and have tea and Maggie.

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Last up was the Tawang local market, almost all shops sell similar stuff which are woollens, souvenirs, incense sticks, cups/ mugs and footwears. We also got some to get back home with us. I love my dragon printed cup and still have my tea in it while writing this for you.

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Our time in Tawang was up and Simanta was ready with his mawa filled mouth and engine thumping. Next destination was Dirang.

Dirang was not in the original plan but last night we decided to alter the plan to ditch Shillong and include Kaziranga National Park. The decision was taken as the travel time to Shillong was too much for a day and we had to celebrate Dev and Chotu’s Anniversary. So, reaching to the next place was very important.

While driving back down-hill, we all admired the innocence and embracing nature of people of the beautiful state called, Arunachal Pradesh.

We stopped at Jang for a sightseeing, you will have to stair down about 200 steps to reach a river valley. Source Wikipedia : Nuranang Falls (also known as Bong Bong Falls), some 100 metres high, is located in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, India. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in this part of the country, yet is unknown to many travelers. It lies some 2 kilometres away from the town of Jang on the road connecting Tawang and Bomdila, so it is also known as the Jang Falls. There is a small hydel plant located near the base that generates electricity for local use. The Nuranang river originates from the Northern slopes of the Sela Pass. Just below the waterfall it falls into the Tawang river.

We were hungry and Simanta stopped at Jaswant garh war memorial again. Remember in the 1st part I told you about the free tea and hot water. This is the same place that serves them. We got some idlis, dosas, muffins and tea. The taste, view and soldier’s passion deserve respect and admiration.

About 4 hours drive and crossing Sela pass again we finally reached Dirang. Do not miss to buy fresh fruits from the shops on the highway side. Dirang is known to produce variety of fruits.

We faced some difficulty in reaching the home stay but when we entered Gonpalok Homestay. We thought, “stay ho toh aisa.” No words can describe the taste of hot pakodas that were freshly cooked for us by the caretaker lady along with hot tea. Later in the evening we celebrated the much awaited anniversary at hotel Norphel Retreat. It was very well planned and organised by our freelancer travel agent. I leave you with some pictures to ponder on and be jealous of us that we did this the trip only a month before the country wide lock down was imposed to tackle Covid-19 spread.

 

Pet-full aur dil housefull, reaching back we slept like pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud. Sure of waking up to sunrise, cool breeze and blue sky – What else does a metro lad need!!

Hope you liked our journey till now! Write some encouraging words in the comments section and share the link with your friends, also ask them to share and comment…

Part#3 coming soon… where we move towards plains from the mountains and see the mighty Brahmaputra river, tea gardens and 1 horned rhino.

Much Love 🙂

Abhimanyu@Yatripandit

Part#1 Unleashing Northeast India – Land of Lamas, Rains, Rhinos and Momos!! By Abhimanyu

Part#1 – Reaching Tawang from Assam via Bomdila !

It was the occasion of our 2nd anniversary when four Sharmas’ planned to explore North-east, India.

We had a fantastic company of Dev and Akshata who got married a day earlier than me and Trisha in the same month of Feb and year of 2018.

Me and Dev shared room during my 1st job in Mumbai and we jelled up pretty well for obvious reasons like being Sharmas’ from MP/CG and loving beer. Since we got married almost on the same day, we could not attend each other’s weddings, and this was the chance to cut it by celebrating the anniversaries together.

Tickets were booked in August’19 and we then finalized our itenary during December’19.

We read a few posts and then finally decided to book ourselves with a Freelance travel consultant from Assam.

7th Feb 2020, finally the day had come when me and Trisha embarked the road in our new Honda Amaze from Pune to Mumbai. Akshata arrange for a safe car parking over a week’s time in Mumbai. It was an early morning flight from Mumbai to Assam, we had our masks on as there was a buzz of Covid19 around the world already. Landed in Assam to find our driver, Simanta and pre-booked Innova Crysta.

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Mumbai Airport

None of us had slept last night but there was no sense of deprivation. It was the time to make memories, none of us had been to this side of Incredible India.

I decided to narrate this trip in multiple stories in sequence as it was a beautiful long ROAD trip.

Day#1 – Trip start, 0 Kms

  • Guwahati Airport to Bomdila
  • Travel time – 9+ Hours
  • Road Condition – Good (Mostly)
  • Stay – Norgay Guest House Homestay

Journey starts from plains and takes you to the mountains. Located on the Foothills of Himalayas, Bomdila could be considered as an entry point of Arunachal Pradesh. Simanta played some asamese music while driving and halted at a random café so that we can have some Momos, maggie and tea. After 1st stop Hindi music took over Assamese and we were friends with Simanta. He was a character, loved his dose of Indian tobacco(jarda or mawa) while driving and always smiling. Never said no to our demands and was a true host in all senses.

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Lipsmacking Taste

We also got a chance to Enter Bhutan Border, smart Simanta got his diesel tank full as it is cheaper in Bhutan than in India.

As we were driving up-hill the air was getting colder and heavier. We drove alongside a river stream (Kameng river), Simanta told us that it comes all the way from China to meet the mighty Bhramaputra before merging in Bay of Bengal. We will meet Kameng river multiple times during our journey through Arunachal. Just before reaching our homestay in Bomdila we purchased some liquor as it will be helpful in keeping ourselves warm during the course of journey and its cheaper than Goa in Arunachal. 🙂

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Bhutan Border
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River Kameng

Homestay was clean and economical, we had to pay extra Rs. 300/- for a room heater. That’s Ok we were happy and rich (as it was just the first day).

For dinner we walked down the stairs and found a restaurant (name forgotten), but please find it right opposite Dragon restaurant. The momos and noodles which they served were the best that we had during the trip. Please let me know the name of this restaurant in comment section. I can eat those momos all my life and die happily.

Pet-full aur dil housefull, reaching back we slept like pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud. Woke up to sunrise, cool breeze and blue sky – What else does a metro lad need!!

We were sporting jackets and woolens now. Simanta was ready to drive us to Tawang, the dreamland that I wanted to visit since the time I saw it in TV a decade ago.

Day#2

  • Bomdila To Tawang
  • 200 Kms (approx.)
  • Travel time – 8+ Hours
  • Road Condition – Hilly and average
  • Stay – Hotel Mon Paradise

Visited the mesmerising and peaceful Bomdila monastery, saw the little monks chanting and praying in sync. The whole atmosphere was so serene, that trying to narrate it here would be loud and might kill the serenity of the place. Check out our youtube video link below.

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Nam yo ho !! – Buddham Sharnam Gachhami 🙂

After, seeing the monastery we commenced our journey to the land of Lama. The car was cruising slowing with 2 constants, Simanta’s Mawa and Kameng river running alongside.

The drive from Bomdila to Tawang will always be extremely close to my heart because I was about to experience my 1st snow sighting.

Sela pass – You beauty!! I had heard that there is silent a kid within every adult, I was unaware of mine till I saw the 1st snow of my life. I could not stop myself and ran down the stairs, which led to a frozen lake called Sela lake.

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Stairway to Heaven

The whole area was covered with snow we were playing, while clicking some pictures on our phones and many many more in our hearts. While we were down near a frozen lake, those stairs which we walked down seemed like a stairway to heaven. God was generous and suddenly it started to snow, we had such awesome experience before we had to run back to the car as it was a hailstorm. My 1st snow was a helluva experience. Remember the liquor that we bought last night; finally we could do justice to it using fresh snow from the sky..

I even ate some snow. 🙂

Hailstorm turned violent & we had to leave or rather escape from Sela to reach our next pit stop aka Jaswant Garh war memorial. It’s about 22 Kms from Sela and 21 Kms before Tawang.

You must see this video to live Sela Pass a lil more

A bit insight about the memorial – Jaswant Garh is a famous tourist attraction in Arunachal Pradesh and it is widely visited all year round. It is dedicated to the warrior, Jaswant Singh Rawat who was killed during the Indo-China War in 1962. He was an Indian rifleman of 4 Garhwal Rifles, Uttarakhand and for his bravery; Jaswant Rawat was honoured by a memorial at the post where he fought the Chinese army. This magnificent memorial is well kept at an altitude of about 10,000 feet. A small canteen is run by army personnel offering free tea / coffee and hot water to all visitors to keep them warm in cold weather. It is unbelievable in today’s world of worshiping money as God, where almost everyone is running behind money and becoming rich leaving behind empathy towards fellow humans. We relished dosa and idli in Arunachal at such height, it still have the taste in my head while I write about it. My wife, Trisha loved the patty and muffins.

Last but not the least; there is a small shop from where you can buy jackets, socks, gloves, caps, etc to withstand the negative temperatures of Tawang.

The memorial is surrounded by beautiful valley perfect to gaze on while sipping your unlimited free tea.

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Panorama from Jaswant Garh

Hopped back in the innova with happier Simanta, he already had starting chewing mawa.

We reached Tawang in another 1½ hours, the sun sets early and it was almost dark by 5pm when we reached. While, Dev was co-ordinating with the pre-booked homestay owner we had some difficulties in locating the stay. Finally, have found the homestay just to realise that staying there was not a good idea. It was located far away from town in a dark and abandoned area. Girls felt some safety concerns, and we had to honour this being responsible companions. Simanta’s “never say never” attitude and always smiling face helped us find a hotel in the market area. Name of the hotel is Mon Paradise. It was freezing cold, we quickly changed and reached the lobby area with our packed food and theplas. The hotel guys were happy to heat those for us and serve it with dal, egg bhurji and rice which we ordered from them. Sharing our food with a soldier from Indian Army with a lot of border stories was the best thing that we could have thought of in this trip.

Pet-full aur dil housefull, reaching back we slept like pigs would do after spending some playfull times in the mud. Woke up to sunrise, cool breeze and blue sky – What else does a metro lad need!!

Hope you liked our journey till now! Write some encouraging words in the comments section and share the link with your friends, also ask them to share and comment…

Read the part#2 of the story to see Tawang and Dirang from our eyes.

Much Love 🙂

Abhimanyu@Yatripandit

My Own Honeymoon Package || Bali & Gili Travangan

ITINERARY

Day 1. Bali – Arrival

Arrival in the Denpasar Airport, meets with our representative, and will directly proceed to Hotel. Rest of the day free at leisure by own arrangement.

Day 2. WATER SPORT + 60 MINUTES MASSAGE (B)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning at 09:00am pick up to Tanjung Benoa is a very suitable place for Water sport activities or water sports. Water sports can be enjoyed here include a Jet Sky, Fly fish, and Banana boat.

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 Afternoon enjoy 60 Minutes massage for relax your body and mind.

 

Day 3. TRANSFER TO GILI TRAWANGAN (B)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning at 07.00am will pick up for transfer to Padangbai/ Serangan Harbor for transfer to Gili Trawangan.

Arrive at Gili, take Cidomo transfer ( arrange on clients own) and transfer to hotel at Gili Trawangan.

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Day 4. FREE AT LEISURE (B)

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning Free at leisure by own arrangement

 

Day 5. TRANSFER GILI TRAWANGAN TO BALI (B)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning around at 08.00am take Cidomo transfer to Gili Harbor ( arrange by clients on own)

Arrive at Gili Harbor check in at boat counter and transfer by boat to Bali. Arrive at Serangan/Padangbai harbor will transfer to hotel at Bali.

Rest of the days free leisure at own arrangement.

 

Day 6. HD ULUWATU KECAK TOUR (B)

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning free leisure at own arrangement.

Afternoon at 15.00pm will pick up for trip to the most southern tip of the island: Uluwatu temple hanging on a cliff over a 100 meters sheer drop to the ocean. Within this area, we also have a chance to see the map view of Bali. As the evening approaches, enjoy the Kecak and Fire Dance to enrich your afternoon.

kecak dance

Day 7. BOUNTY SUNSET DINNER CRUISE (B)

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning free leisure at own arrangement.

 Afternoon there’s no better way to spend a balmy tropical evening than on Bounty evening Dinner Cruise. As the sun goes down we set off on a relaxing cruise around the harbour.

Cruise Include

·         Return hotel transfer (Nusa Dua, Kuta, Sanur, Seminyak, Denpasar hotel area only)

·         Welcome drink

·         International Buffet Dinner

·         Traditional Balinesse Dance

·         Live Music

·         DJ on board

·         Comedy Cabaret Show

·         On Board Entertainment

·         Duration : 17:30 pm – 20:30 pm

·         Boarding commences : 17:30 pm

 Day 8. Bali – Out (B)

Breakfast at the hotel. Morning Free at leisure by own arrangement until departure time to be proceed to the Airport.

 

Package cost – INR 1,20,000/-* Approx. (Ex-Delhi/ Mumba) for a Couple.

If you like the package, please email us or call/whatsapp us on 9975712713, we would be happy to book it for you. 

Of-course we would be glad to tweak and modify this to suit your desired trip.

Story by : Abhimanyu@yatripandit

Image Source : Google images 

YP Original || Matheran: A no-honking hill station by Abhimanyu

What can be a better escape on a rainy weekend from Mumbai or Pune than Matheran?

Matheran is the only hill station, where vehicles are banned and you can clearly listen the sound of breeze rustling leaves and the sound of the horse shoes. It is the one hill station that is so close by that one can visit it at the drop of a hat. One can commute and explore the hills either on foot or on  horseback. This is a perfect place for Digital detoxification as one can call it, to enjoy in the lap of mother nature.

As far as travel to the hill station is concerned, Matheran can be reached by road from Mumbai or Pune via Road or Train with ease.

We stayed at very calm place and fits in budget. It  is a heritage building and is about 100 years old. The rooms were very spacious, the washrooms were okay but the food was really good. Even though they do not serve any non vegetarian food or alcohol, still I would say that the quality of food and variety was good.The rent on a weekend for a single night was Rs 3000/- for a double occupancy room, inclusive of all meals.

As for tourist activities, Matheran has about 22 points which are listed below. These were all developed by Britishers.

Important points are Alexander Pt., Rambag Pt, Little Chowk Pt, Big Chowk Pt, One Tree Hill Pt, Belvedere Pt, Olympia Race Course, Lords Pt, Charlotte Lake,Celia Pt (a water fall mouth), Echo Pt., Porcupine Pt (Sun Set Pt), Panorama Point (Sun Rise Pt), Khandala Pt, Madhavji Garden & Point, Matheran Railway Station, Louisa Point, Mayra Point, Pisarnath Temple.

It takes about 3 days to cover all the points and since we had a time constraint we decided to visit only the important places. We decided to visit all the scenic points but if you are an adrenaline junkie, you can try Valley crossing from echo point. High on the hills, when you witness the fog snd feel the cold wind against your face nothing can taste better in that weather than hot maggie and corn. Its advisable to reach back your resort before it gets dark as the hill terrain is not equipped with street lights. So to reach in time, we decided to hire horsebacks with funny names such as hawa hawai. After sound night’s sleep and a  delicious morning breakfast we left for Mumbai. Took a Toy train (15 mins journey) from Matheran to Aman Lodge, then shared taxi to Neral and then Local train to Thane and finally back home after experiencing a much needed Digital Detoxification.

It is a calm hill station, with no vehicles at all which makes it peaceful. One only has nature to enjoy and be as adventurous as one wants to be.
Story by – Abhimanyu

Barnawapara – A not so famous Wildlife Sanctuary

At yatripandit, we believe there should be no boundaries on travelling especially when it comes to jungle and wildlife. It is the only one, out of 543 wildlife sanctuaries in India where you can drive your own car inside the protected area. When we came about this unique fact about Barnawapara, we were already inside our Ford Ecosport heading towards the Jungle.IMG_20170203_155409672

My younger brother suggested us this trip and 3 of us along with him, left from the capital city of Chhattisgarh, Raipur at 2pm and within 2 hours we were at the entry gate of Barnawapara. The highways are maintained in tint condition and cruising on them gave us great adrenaline rush.

Where to stay: We chose to stay at CG Tourism’s, Hareli eco resort ditching the more famous ones like Muba Resort and celebration. We did not regret the stay and hospitality even one percent and saved some bucks as well. The resort is well maintained, wide spread, and located on a lake side. Its service is fabulous as well and can be booked from various online platforms.

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After getting our room keys and dumping our luggage, we boarded our car and headed straight to the protected area entry gate. A guide, who are usually local village boys can be hired from the entry gate at a nominal price of 300-500 INR. Getting a guide is a must otherwise you might get lost forever in the wilderness(just exaggerating a little more).  It was a good 1.5 hours ride on bumpy jungle roads. And we were lucky to spot a sloth bear lazing around by the road side, wild boar and a heard of deer.

Deers

Back to our machan like rooms in the Hareli resort, changed and got fresh to have a relaxed time sitting in balcony sharing some talks from our old jungle trips(read about Bandhavgarh and Bastar), laughs,  relishing some drinks with freshly cooked snacks and doodling over music. All we needed after that was a good dinner and some nice sleep. The dinner was cooked on demand and was more like a home cooked food. We truly enjoyed every bite of it.

What to do: Jungle safaris are all about waking up before dawn and in Hareli resort the chirping birds played our alarms clocks. Within minutes we were driving in our Ecosport again and reached the entry gate driving through the fog and mist in no time. Hired a new guide and there we were inside this beautiful jungle which is spread over an area of about 245 sq km in the Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh. Bird watching in Barnawapara is one of the most enjoyed activities. The major fauna of the Barnawapara Sanctuary include Tigers, Sloth Bear, Flying Squirrels, Jackals, Striped Hyena, Wild Dogs, Chital, Sambar, Nilgai, Gaur, Muntjac, Wild Boar, Cobra, Python, Antelopes, Leopards, Chinkara, Black Buck, Jungle Cat, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Monkey, Bison, to name a few. The sanctuary also has a large population of birds that include Parrots, Bulbul, White-rumped Vultures, Green Avadavat, Lesser Kestrels, Peafowl, Wood Peckers and the list can go on and on. We could spot many of these but tiger. 😦

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Africa look alike lake

Do not miss climbing to the highest watch tower and observe the forest silently breathing pure and light. That greenery; spread till the horizon is the best treat you can offer to your eyes, tired of laptop and cell phone screens.

 

When to go: The protected area is closed for tourist during Monsoons(June to Sept) every year. The most suitable time of the year is winters i.e. November to March.

Not to worry if you donot have your own can to offroad, Gypsy’s and jungle safari’s can be hired at the entry gate or Hareli resort can arrange the same for you.

Bidding adieus to this self motorable jungle; we were back again to smaller concrete Jungle(Raipur) in 2 hours and next day to a bigger one(Pune). We captured many memories and pictures. We surely are returning back to this jungle very soon.

Stay tuned for our upcoming story on rules of the Jungle (Which are NOT location specific).

Story by: Abhimanyu

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Guhagar – with Sandy, White Sand and Serenity

We know you liked our last story, kuch khaas hai kaas on Kaas Plateau published in September 2017 and as promised here we are sharing the 2nd phase of that amazing Road trip with Sandy. If you missed reading the preceding story, click here and then read the current one.

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Here you go, After dumping the idea of quitting jobs and realizing that its getting dark, we hit the road again to reach our final destination- Guhagar. It was about 180 kms drive from Satara via karad and Chiplun. The roads were not in a good condition throughout the journey and there were some steep ghats, then we reached to the pre booked Nilambari Resort.

Where to STAY: It was a 3 bed non AC room with attached toilet and television. The resort owner is very friendly and we could bargain and get the fare down to Rs 1000/- from Rs.1500/-. After having typical Konkani poha and tea served at the Resort, we headed to the beach which is about a five minute walk from the resort.

What to EAT: While in Guhagar, one must try Konkani vegetarian food like ukdi chamodak, sol kadi, Bhaves, kokam sharbat and Thali-pith of Suruchi hotel is a must eat. Konkani sea food is globally recognized for its taste and while in this part of the sub-continent, one cannot afford to miss:  kalva, mhakala, vaghal, bonbil, kolim, kombadi vade, mori mutton, Ghol, Rawas etc.

We were awestruck after feeling the smooth white sand on this virgin Guhagar beach. The water was clear and so was the beach. It felt as 3 of us were the only tourists.  After having a dip in the Arabian sea, we headed towards the famous Gopalgarh fort which has great historic significance. It is believed to be built at the start of 16th Century by the Siddis. It was captured by Shivaji Maharah in 1660.

Being one of the most important lighthouses of India, Anjanvel Light house is a must visit. The lighthouse operator explained us the technicalities involved in signaling and controlling the ships. We halted at an unknown and unnamed venue on the hill and facing the mighty Arabian Sea for some time and did not realize when we ended up halting there for hours. The air was the freshest that we ever had inhaled and the breathtaking view was the best ever experience we could have captured in ours lens, eyes and hearts. The thought of quitting job was dwindling all over again. We enjoyed some late night drinks on the beach in the moonlight and under the sky full of twinkling stars.

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Vyadeshwar and Velaneshwar temple:  Both are temples of Lord Shiva and are the Kuladaivat of a lot of Kokanastha Brahmins.

Next morning we were all set to hit road and decided to take the road less traveled, where we had to cross Dabhol creek on a ferry along with our car, which was a superb experience to reach Ratnagiri. Visited an ancient Chandika Devi Temple to reach Pune via not so easy to drive Tamhini Ghat. The ghat is full of waterfalls and scenic beauty during the monsoon. We drove back to Mumbai with a lifetime experience, much improved bond of friendship and promises for the many more upcoming roadtrips.

Must carry stuff on a roadtrip: Aux cable, cigarette point charger, knife, water, jacket, extra pair of shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, old newspapers, mat, bedsheet, nail cutter, mug, DSLR, football, snacks,  beachwear (if the place you heading to has a beach)and hell lot of great music.

Do not miss to listen to the music what we love on roadtrip by clicking HERE

Story by: Abhimanyu

Pictures by: Utkarsh & Sandy

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Guest Post || How To Plan A Multi-generational Family Vacation by Kiley Morrow

A family vacation is tough enough to plan without age difference consideration. Meanwhile, many families use their vacations as an opportunity to spend time with their parents and children.

Going on a holiday with all the family members is fun and exciting. However, the lack of planning may lead to disaster. If you are responsible for the planning part, the below tips can help you come up with a vacation that will satisfy everyone.

family

Know That Ideal Vacations Don’t Exist

An ideal multi-generational vacation exists in the same magic universe as Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. If you are planning to go on a vacation with a big family, someone will always find something to be upset about.

Your goal is not to plan an ideal for everyone. It’s to find an option that will satisfy most of the family members.

Plan Ahead

Start planning the vacation as far in advance as possible. People have a way of changing their plans so make sure you set the dates early. The earlier you start planning, the better chance it will be that everyone will make it to the vacation.

Meanwhile, you can get some early booking deals. Early planning allows you to take things slow and avoid being in a constant rut.

Ask for Everyone’s Opinion

Before booking, ask everyone what they want from a vacation. The best way to go about it is to have them make a wish list. Let them know that all the wishes are impossible to consider but you’ll try to factor in at least a couple.

This way you’ll get an idea of what to look for when planning while satisfying at least some wishes of each family member.

Don’t Hesitate to Get Help

If you are the designated vacation planner, it doesn’t mean that everyone else should sit around and do nothing. Delegate some of your responsibilities to the others. While you are busy with hotel booking, someone else can look for car rental options, museum discounts or interesting places to visit. Once they have the options ready, you can proceed to incorporate them into your plan.

 

Choose Accommodation Wisely

Large multi-generational families usually go on a vacation together in order to spend some quality time with each other. That’s why you should consider accommodations that allow everyone to live close. Townhouses and villas are great choices. Such accommodations usually have large common areas such as kitchens and backyards. Meanwhile, everyone gets his or her own room.

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However, some families prefer not to have a common area. They’d rather go to a restaurant and spend quality time there. Ask everyone for their accommodation preferences when they are making their wish lists.

Optimize Your Packing

When several adults from one family are traveling together, they can optimize their packing list. There is no need to bring 3 scissors, 2 tweezers, 2 flat irons, and 4 boxes of Advil. If you are planning to live in the same villa, this over packing is not necessary.

Talk to the family members and designate someone responsible for each shared item.

Consider the Expenses

Since you’ll be living together as one big family, you need to discuss the finances. In most cases, someone pays for the trip (hotel and tickets) but the expenses incurred during the vacation are distributed among the family members. Talk about the financial part in advance in order to avoid misconceptions during the vacation.

Financial matters have a way of ruining even the best of times. A great way to avoid financial complications is to book an all-inclusive vacation, just make sure you pick a family-friendly all-inclusive, not an adults-only resort. When everything is covered in advance, most of the money questions become irrelevant.

Plan For Some Time Apart

Even if you consider all the wishes, it’s hard to plan an ideal vacation for everyone. So occasionally, you need to spend some time apart. Grandparents might feel like taking a nice walk in the park while the kids can take advantage of a water park nearby. Spending a little time apart can make your family vacation even more exciting.

Do a Final Check

Before the trip, make sure both grandparents and children have all the proper documents with them. Check for the requirements in advance. If you are traveling to another country, consider checking up on the rule and law differences that don’t appear intuitive.

Some countries require additional documents for children traveling with just one parent. So if you are divorced, you may need permission from your ex-spouse to travel with the children abroad.

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Get Ready to Be Flexible

When going on a vacation with a large family, unexpected things are bound to happen. Besides coming up with Plan B and Plan C in advance, you have to be in the right mindset.

When it comes to large multi-generational groups, ideal planning doesn’t exist. Get ready to make changes along the way.

Have Fun

Multi-generational vacations are not a burden. They exist to allow the family members to spend quality time together. The only way to do it is to relax and have fun. After all, such vacations don’t happen more often than once a year.

Even if you get tired by the end of the trip, you know you have just created unforgettable memories.

Kiley MorrowAbout the Author:

Kiley Morrow is a travel/lifestyle expert. She’s spent the past 3 years traveling the globe and sharing all the experiences she had through tips and guides.

 

 

PS: Special thanks to Emma Johnson (Digital Marketing Coordinator-Sandals Resorts) for facilitating this brilliant story. 🙂

Disclaimer:  *Contents in this story is Authors personal views and presentation.

If you also want to get featured as a guest author on yatripandit.com, share your story with us on info@yatripandit.com

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Cheers !!

 

Kuch Khaas hai Kaas – Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers

Did you ever wish to visit heaven prior to death? Yes it is possible and is situated in a very close proximity to Mumbai. I am talking about “Kaas plateau” aka “The valley of flowers.” The Plateau has been recognized as “bio diversity heritage site” by UNESCO.

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A car, 3 friends, a DSLR, some beer and kickass music what else do we need for a road trip! All of us being fresh graduates did not own a car but we hired a self-drivediesel car from Girikand cars and headed straight to Mumbai-Pune expressway and reached Satara town in about 6 hours(it’s not that far but we took a couple of breaks to enjoy the journey). Being a national highway, the roads were smooth and there was no scarcity of eateries. We halted at one of the dhabas to fill our tummies and kept moving. It was an uphill journey from Satara to 1 of the 7 wonders of Maharashtra – The Kaas Plateau. This 22 KMs ghat is not a very tough one to drive on and its full of scenic beauty. As we went closer we could seethe blossoms and suddenly it started drizzling making the journey more pleasing. Car parking space is after you cross the valley of flowers and you have to walk back to the valley. Once we reached on the plateau, all we witnessed was an endless carpet of colorful blooms on both sides of the road. It seemed as if the rainbow has been laid on the ground.

The whole stretch was so refreshing and rejuvenating that for once, we thought of quitting our jobs and stay in the valley forever. It is a surely a paradise for shutterbugs and can be an inspiration for poets and painters. Kaas also endorses a breathtaking aerial view of Shivsagar lake. The Kaas plateau is known to be home to around 850 varieties of plants of which around 600 are flowering plants and about 40 of which are only found in Kaas. The volcanic soil i.e. rich in natural minerals is the reason for such wide floral diversity. This plateau is surely an ocean of learning for botanists and researchers. Being a weekend it was crowded.We were luck to visit the heaven in the days when there was no entry fee but now a days, a very minimal fee of Rs 100/- is charged per person. We are sure you won’t mind this once you soak yourself in the carpet of flowers.

Humble Suggestion: Do not pluck or disturb the blossoms and walk only on the pathways marked with stones. Also, buy some stuff(snacks, etc) item from the local vendors as tourism is probably the only source of income.

When to Go: Best time to visit is end august to November as the flowers bloom during these months. Do check this website https://www.kas.ind.in/ before visiting Kaas to see the current pictures of Kaas.

Where to stay: There are a few stay options on the way to Kaas plateau but we went further downhill to a laid back village called Bamnoli and stayed at a local home stay on the lake side. Check our story on this pretty lazy village.

Must carry stuff on a roadtrip: Aux cable, cigarette point charger, knife, water, jacket, extra pair of shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, old newspapers, mat, bedsheet, nail cutter, mug, DSLR, football, snacks,  beachwear (if the place you heading to has a beach)and hell lot of great music.

After experiencing Kaas and staying at Bamnoli, we headed to an un-touched white sand beach on the Konkan coast. Stay tuned for next story to know more about this virgin beach.

Story by: Abhimanyu

Pictures by: Utkarsh

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Guest Post || Walking the way of St. James through Portugal and Spain – by Kay Bolden

El Camino de Santiago — The Way of Saint James — is the pilgrimage on foot to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where Saint James the Elder are entombed. The Camino has existed as a spiritual pilgrimage for well over 1,000 years. In medieval times, completing the arduous journey could “pay off” a debt of sin, making amends for any wrong the pilgrim had done.

On the Camino de Santiago
On the Camino de Santiago

The medieval peregrino (pilgrim) almost always walked the Way for serious religious reasons, finding lodging and food where he might, and depending upon the kindness of strangers. But today, modern peregrinos have more varied goals, such as physical challenge or self-discovery. We sleep in hostels with hot running water, instead of in stables or under the stars. A popular route is the Camino Francés, with a starting point in St. Jean-Pied-du-Port, although there are many other routes. 

Gifts for Pilgrims
Gifts for Pilgrims

          

I chose the Camino Portugués, a 150-mile trek up the rocky coast of Portugal and into Spain. I was not seeking spiritual enlightenment … only solitude and physical challenge. The route required 10-12 miles of walking daily, on paths as varied as rough cobblestones, muddy hillsides, tree-lined sidewalks and dangerous roads. Without a map, a pilgrim simply follows the yellow arrows and scallop shells painted onto trees and boulders and sidewalks, trusting that the route will lead them to Santiago de Compostela.

Coast of Portugal
Coast of Portugal

           

So at age 55, I set off alone from the coastal town of Porto. I hugged the untamed Portuguese coastline in almost complete silence, encountering few others on the journey. Wearing my backpack and my scallop shell – the symbol of a pilgrim – I wandered through fishing villages and small towns, where people seemed to still live in the 19th century. Old men bringing in their catches on wooden boats, grandmas cleaning oysters by hand, children squealing as they played on the docks, the mournful lighthouse foghorn, calling the fishermen in from the sea.

They would see my scallop shell, hanging from my backpack, and smile at me. The children would wave shyly, peering at my funny hat and my heavy hiking boots. The old ones would tell the young ones, “She is on her way to Santiago. God bless her. Bom Caminho (Good Journey).”

Follow the Yellow Arrows to Santiago
Follow the Yellow Arrows to Santiago

The people who live in the cities and towns dotting the Camino have a long relationship with the legend of St. James. They believe that a pilgrim on the Way is under his protection; to harm a pilgrim is a terrible sin. To help a pilgrim – to offer food or libation or lodging – will please St. James, and result in more blessings for their families.

In the beginning, I found this attention rather quaint, but pointless. After all, I was working on the mental and physical challenges of the trek; the religious or spiritual aspects didn’t seem connected to me at all.

As I passed through a tiny village on the third day, a man dressed in rags stuffed chunks of fresh baked bread into my hand. I tried to give him money, but he shook his head, aghast that he should be rewarded. “St. James will provide for me,” he said happily in Portuguese. “Bom Caminho.” A thin little girl threw her arms around my legs, slowing me down to give me apples and cheese. A priest standing in the doorway of a tiny stone church blessed me as I walked by.

It wasn’t until I crossed the International Bridge into Spain on the sixth day that the spiritual power of the Camino was revealed to me: I got lost. Somehow, I’d made a wrong turn, missed a yellow arrow, and was now wandering in the woods, the sun sinking fast, with my hostel nowhere in sight. My phone battery had long since died, and I was exhausted, having already walked 14 miles.

I sat down under a tree, growing afraid for the first time since I left Chicago. How far from the city was I? I didn’t know. Where had turned wrong? I couldn’t tell. I fingered my scallop shell and thought about all the pilgrims through the ages who had found themselves lost in the dark, but found the will to keep going. I snacked on grapes and bread, the gifts of strangers. And after resting a bit, I got to my feet. I would do as all pilgrims had done for thousands of years; I would trust St. James, and keep walking.

No sooner had I made that decision, four elderly gentlemen came out of the woods, laughing and talking and sharing a bottle of wine. They came to me at once, and although we couldn’t speak each other’s language, they understood that I was lost. They gathered me into the center of their little group and walked with a little way deeper into the woods, where they showed me a footbridge, an underpass and the route to the city of O Porrino. “Buen Camino,” they called out in Spanish, as they disappeared back into the forest.

It was many more days until I arrived at the grand Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. I found that my entire attitude had changed as I walked the Way. I was filled with gratitude for all the people who had so little themselves, but shared their food and love with me. Instead of keeping to myself, I waved to fisherman and other pilgrims, taking pictures of their beautiful boats and farms.

Sunrise Just Outside Santiago
Sunrise Just Outside Santiago

At the Cathedral, I visited the shrines and dodged the crowds. Tourists gushed about how sacred the golden artifacts were, but I knew the truth. The real transformation had already happened, as I walked on the Way.

Kay Bolden, Travel WriterAbout the Author:

Kay Bolden is a travel writer, blogger and newspaper columnist who encourages women to travel solo and discover their inner strengths. Follow her travels on her blog, KayBolden.com, or on Twitter @KayBolden.

She has successfully published 2 books(Check links below) and the 3rd one about  Camino de Santiago will be available on Amazon on August 11.

iii) More Wine, Please

At age 55, I set out alone on the Camino de Santiago. Unlike religious pilgrims, I was not seeking God, but three weeks of silence and solitude. The Camino, however, had other plans for me. Available on Amazon August 11, 2017.

ii) Veggie Casserole: Kids Cook the Darndest Things 

When kids grow their own veggies, they eat them, too! Veggie Casserole is filled with recipes, gardening tips and ideas for reconnecting our kids to whole, healthy food.

https://www.amazon.com/Veggie-Casserole-Kids-Darndest-Things/dp/150872038X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500466803&sr=8-1&keywords=veggie+casserole+bolden

i) She Lives in You! The Kathleen Bolden Story is a memoir of community organizer, civil rights activist and social justice warrior, the late Kathleen Bolden.

https://www.amazon.com/She-Lives-You-Kathleen-Bolden-ebook/dp/B00I8M9P7G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500466913&sr=8-1&keywords=she+lives+in+you+bolden

 

Disclaimer:  *Contents in this story is Authors personal views and presentation.

** All pictures by Kay Bolden

If you also want to get featured as a guest author on yatripandit.com, share your story with us on info@yatripandit.com

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Cheers !!

Abhimanyu@yatripandit

 

God’s Own Country – Kerala

I love traveling! It doesn’t matter whether the destination is at, above or below sea level. As you know, I work for a corporate house as well getting long leaves is a herculean task. I try to utilize all the long weekends and convert them into holidays. Trust me, it’s not that difficult when you plan in advance and have great set of friends to accompany you. I had 4 of them with me.

Last year, we eyed on 15th August (Independence Day Holiday in India) long weekend and planned a 5 day trip to Kerala – God’s own country.

Flight tickets – Check

Accommodation – Check

Intercity Transfers – Check

After a few morning hiccups and winning over a hefty traffic jam on the way to Pune airport, we   on-boarded a morning flight from Pune to Kochi. We landed at the beautiful Kochi Airport to find our pre-booked cab waiting for us at the airport.

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Kochi Airport

It was a neat, a bit old but well maintained Toyota Innova(my fav car for longer roadtrips). I am always hungry to taste local food while traveling; the cabbie took us to a local restaurant in Kochi to enjoy some delicious local Kerala food.

We commenced our voyage to Munnar aka Kashmir of the south. En route Munnar our eyes could not stop peeping outside the car window without blinking. Mesmerized by the beauty of Valara waterfalls we got out of the cabs to click some memories. Valara falls, where the water cascades from an altitude of about 1000 mts, which itself was a treat to eyes and the camera lens. Munnar is known for magnificent waterfalls, we could not visit all (remember lack of leaves for this poor corporate junkie) here is a brilliant article which gives a great insight. http://www.munnar.com/waterfalls-in-munnar.htm#waterfalls.

Where to Stay? – We stayed in Hotel Munnar black forest www.munnarblackforest.com. It’s a budget hotel located on Kochi Munnar road. Rooms are not that great neither the food is. We do not recommend this hotel and search for better options. Munnar is full of better stay options.

Places to visit in Munnar – This gorgeous hill station in Western Ghats is located at 1600mts above sea level. The height and the climate make it apt for tea plantations. We witnessed the whole of mountains covered with tea estates till horizon. The green leafy carpet and the aura of tea plantations surely make it an #instagram paradise. We even managed to gate crash an estate on the way to breathe tea and some perfect clicks.

  • Munnar Tea Museum – As they say,” tea doesn’t ask silly questions, it understands.” When you have such a huge yield of tea, it needs to be processed, packed and marketed as well. This tea museum imparts you enough knowledge on how a tea leaf is converted and marketed as the tea which we use in our households. Established in 2005 previously owned by Tata’s and now by Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company (P) Ltd. (KDHP), this museum has so many historic machinery and models still preserved in good shape. They show a short film which depicts the history of Munnar and its lovely tea plantations. After the film, it also offers a tour to the factory in which you can see and learn the technicalities involved in processing your favorite beverage to come out of morning blues every day. You can taste and buy some tea varieties e.g ginger, masala, green and white tea.

Baith jata hun wahan, Chai bann rahi ho Jahan.

  • Mattupetty Dam – This dam is built near the confluence of mountain streams of Muthirappuzha, Chanduvarai and Kundale Rivers. It is used to generate electricity using hydel power. The large amount of water favors wild animals and birds to flourish. There are a few small shops to buys some local stuff like cardamom, masala and some munchies.

Places to visit in Alappuzha – This laid back heaven in south India is also known as Alleppey and Venice of the East. Well known for the backwaters, canals, lagoons and houseboats.

  • Backwaters – Shikara(boat) ride across the backwaters is a must do and you may book the ride right from the boarding point at the river side. Ask locals or hotel reception for guidance. Avoid hiring the boat through any agent as you might strike a cheaper deal at the boarding point. There are public boat buses which run across this city of Venice … oops; Alleppey.

While on the boat tour cruising on the backwaters; close your eyes, spread yours arms wide and feel the wind pass through your body. The water is clean, calm and serene. One can write books on the breathtaking beauty of this lake city. It surely is a honeymooner’s paradise, a painter’s painting, a poet’s lyrics and a musician’s beats. The song which kept on playing in my head during this trip, as Godsmack brilliantly sung, “I need serenity and a place where I can hide.”

Link to the song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2A4Km5PTu5o

Alleppey also has a beach which is usually crowded and not very clean.

Stay in Alleppey – This being  an important tourist destination you can find many stay options from budget homestays to exotic 5 stars. Houseboat can also be a unique idea to stay which serve you great food, comfortable bedrooms and tidy western toilets while sailing across the backwaters. We stayed in a mid-ranged 3 star resort called Pagoda Resort which can be booked here www.pagodaresorts.com. The rooms are comfortable and food is to be relished forever (we were there at the time of kerala food festival). In Pagoda resort, you must gift yourself a kerala ayurvedic massage therapy, to help you forget the worldly affairs, work pressure, targets and let you meet your better and relaxed self. We opted for the relaxing Shirodhara and I vouch for it totally.

When to Go – In Munnar the weather is pleasant throughout the year but if you do not like rains avoid going in Monsoon (June, July and October) season as it rains cats, dogs and sometimes elephants too. Whereas in Alleppey summers are hot and winters is the best season to explore. Or you may plan Alappuzha at the time of Nehru Trophy Boat Race, held on the Punnamada Lake, on the second Saturday of August every year (we missed it by a week).

What to eat – I strongly recommend eating local food which includes idli, rice, appam, uttapam, dosa, sambhar, rasam, etc. Kerala is known for sea food. One must also try variety of chips/ wafers which are a local delicacy. We enjoyed an authentic south Indian meal and various other food items served on a banana leaf at the very famous Sarvana Bhavan in Munnar.

After cruising about 450 kMs(excluding the air travel) through a few cities and villages, beautiful landscapes, mystic mountains, pleasant waterfalls, a soothing beach, a healing ayurvedic massage, lip smacking kerala food and mesmerizing backwaters we ended up this amazing journey to the God’s Own Country with some memories to be cherished for lifetime.

We can help you plan one such trip. Please write to us on info@yatripandit.com

Abhimanyu@yatripandit

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media