Sikkim Tourist Destinations to Visit on Holidays

This is a beautiful video film of the top tourist destinations in Sikkim. From mountain peaks, lakes, virgin forests, wildlife, culture and religious aspects of life in this tiny Himalayan state, it showcases all must see destinations while on holiday to sikkim. Tour packages for Sikkim can be found at http://www.yatra.com/india-tour-packages/holidays-in-sikkim

(courtesy: Prakash Lee)

India holidays based on Its Geographical Features

India provides a unique holidaying experience. This ancient country is a place of sages and software at the same time. Travelers can get to see vast variations in natural surroundings as well as in the cultural landscape of the country. If one were to plan India holidays, why not think of its geographical features and then understand what all can be done there. Lets get down to the basics and identify the broad geographical regions.

Hills of north and south

Himalayas provide the cool environs in north of the country whereas the Ghats and the Nilgiris provide the same in south. Hills of north and south are regions of popular hill stations and associated geographical features such as waterfalls. The rivers flowing through the region and other topographical features provide avenues for adventure sporting action such as paragliding, rafting, rock climbing, trekking, motorbiking, etc.

Desert region of west

Deserts are desolate places but these places have their own unique and peculiar features which can be turned into tourism attractions. Camel safaris and jeep safaris on sand dunes are popular activities that are performed here. Living in the tent houses or other makeshift camps on sand dunes is one of the main attractions of this region.

Beaches and coastline of Peninsula

India is a country dotted with vast coastline flanking its eastern and western borders in south. There are a number of beaches where people from all over the world confluence and make merry. These are also famous destinations for water sporting action such as parasailing, snorkelling, etc as well as for ayurvedic massages. Natural surroundings provide ample scope for adventure tours.

Virgin forest lands of north east

The north eastern part of the country is still the land where virgin forests are found a plenty. Combined with the mountainous terrain, this region is famed for wildlife tourism and natural surroundings.

Isolated island territories of Andaman and Lakshdweep

Andaman and Nicobar islands and Lakshadweep are two main island groups that provide seclusion to the tourists. Pristing waters of the sea and the sea life as such provide unique experience. Water sporting activities can be done in these territories.

The Ruined Peshwa Heritage at Shaniwar Wada

Pune is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra in the central part of India. It is also the seventh largest city in India with an area of about 710 sq km. The average elevation of the metropolis is 560 metres and more than nine million people live here. It can be said that the region was inhabited in 8th century AD, by carbon-dating, the copper plates which were excavated here. The 17th century was a time of stiff competition among the Marathas and Mughals, who desperately wanted to control it. For nearly a century from 1720 to 1817, Peshwas like Baji Rao controlled the region and built a number of temples. The Battle of Khadki, resulted in the Peshwa defeat and the British victory. A lot of development happened in the city after India gained independence in 1947 and since then, it has gained a reputation as a preferred holiday destination. A Pune tour can be planned to come here and visit its attractions like Shaniwar Wada, public parks, Aga Khan Palace and Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum.

Shaniwar Wada

 

Shaniwar Wada

Shaniwar Wada

Shaniwar Wada is a royal palace in the city, the construction of which was started by Baji Rao Peshwa in 1730. Teak from Junnar, stones from Chinchwad and limestone from Jejuri was brought to build it at a total cost of INR 16110, which was considered a lot in those times. It was opened after performing elaborate Hindu rituals on January 22, 1732. During the course of its existence, many additions and modifications were made to it by its residents. The Dilli Darwaza is the most important of the five gates into the complex. As the name suggests, it faces the city of Delhi and is large enough for elephants to enter. Metal spikes have been erected on it, facing outwards, to prevent an invasion by elephant-mounted soldiers. It is further strengthened with metal bars and heavy bolts, at the joints. The right door has a smaller door from where humans can enter.

Buildings

A path, turning at right angles first to the right and then to the left, leads to the main complex. This is another defensive feature that is characteristic of military fortifications. Khidki, Mastani, Ganesh and Jambhul are the names of the other four gateways into the castle. Most of the important buildings like the audience hall, dance hall and mirror hall were ravaged by the fire of 1828; hence, only written descriptions of them are available. According to these accounts, all the structures had carved arches and teak pillars supporting the ceiling. These columns are said to be exquisitely carved with images of vines and flowers. Scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata were depicted on walls and polished marble floors.

Gardens and Directions

The most significant feature of the fort that survives till date is its expansive lush gardens. It situated on two levels: one is on the ground and the other is slightly raised and is accessed via a small flight of stairs. The gardens are dotted with numerous water pools, fountains and are dominated by a statue of Lord Ganesha, in one of its corners. This tourist attraction is located 3 km from the railway station and 11 km from the international airport, which serves flights coming from major Indian cities, along with Dubai and Frankfurt.

Witnessing the Rich Wildlife of India in Coorg

Coorg or Kodagu is a district in southern Karnataka, towards its border with Kerala. It lies in the Western Ghats, covering an area of approximately 4102 square kilometres. The lowest elevation of the region is 900 metres and the highest is 1750 metres above sea level, at the summit of Mount Tadiandamol. Its history has not been established as the artefacts, unearthed in the region, have not been dated yet. The Cholas absorbed the region into their territory in the 11th century and in the 12th, faced rebellion from the local chieftains. For the next seven centuries, various dynasties fought against each other to claim sovereignty over the area. In 1834, the British became successful in deposing the incumbent king and establishing their reign.

Talakaveri

Talakaveri

Since the Indian independence, the district has gained prominence as a tourist destination, with Coorg holidays being an ideal way for people to come here.

Iruppu

Iruppu

Talakaveri, Iruppu and Mallalli falls, Nisargadhama island and Nagarahole National Park are some of its popular attractions.

Nagarahole National Park

 

The Nagarahole National Park is basically a tiger reserve, established in 1999. About 6000 square kilometres of the Nilgiri Range of the Western Ghats, is occupied by this reserve. Its name comes from the Hindi word naga, meaning snakes, which refers to streams. More than 50 small and large streams and rivers flow through the national park, making the area highly fertile. Besides these, a number of natural and artificial lakes and ponds, act as important water sources for its inhabitants. The vegetation of the region is deciduous and trees like teak, rosewood, sandalwood and oak grow here, making it of high commercial significance. Other types of vegetation here are saj, crepe myrtle, kino, kadam and cotton. Clover, horse nettle, helicteres, lantana and bonesets are some other tree types in the park. Herbivores of the area probably feast on gooseberries and figs, which grow in abundance over here.

Carnivores, that live here, consist of tigers, leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears and hyenas. Various species of deer, gaurs and elephants make up the major herbivores of the region. About 6500 elephants inhabit the reserve and can sometimes be seen, relishing bamboo, which grows here in plenty. Visitors may also be able to spot jackals, wild boars, civets, mongooses, pangolins, hares, squirrels and porcupines while they roam around. The bird life of the park is equally rich with over 270 kinds. It is a hotspot for winged scavengers, such as spotted and grey-headed fish eagles and white-backed and red-headed vultures. Apart from these, pigeons, parakeets, hornbills, ibis, treepies, barbets, babblers and many other types of birds can also be found here. Some of the reptiles that are spotted here are mugger crocodiles, rock pythons and toads. Several small rodents are preyed upon by venomous crawlers, including Russell vipers, vine, wolf and rat snakes, and common kraits.

Visiting Information

 

Wildlife enthusiasts can enter the protected are between 6 am and 9 am in the morning and between 4 pm and 6:30 pm in the evening. During monsoons, the entry is prohibited to give the animals privacy in their mating season. Winters should be chosen to come here as the temperatures do not drop too much and the weather remains pleasant. Summers are moderately hot so it is also a good time to see its rich wildlife diversity.

Up-Close-and-Personal with Large Mammals in Kenya

Kenya is situated in Eastern Africa, to the west of the Indian Ocean. It borders Tanzania in the south, Uganda in the west, South Sudan in the north-west, Ethiopia in the east and Somalia in the north-east. Lying on the Equator makes it extremely hot with little change in the weather. Crocodile fossils, discovered in the region, hint that beasts inhabited the country as early as 200 million years ago. Homo habilis appeared in the region in about 2.5 million years ago and was the earliest humanoids. More than 44 million humans live in the 581309 square kilometres area of this largely agrarian nation. Industry is the second biggest contributor to its economy making it the most developed country in East Africa. Grain processing, beer production and sugarcane crushing are some significant food industries. Other industries are cement, oil refining, assembling of vehicles from parts, household goods and farm equipment. Apart from them, tourism is also helping the economy to grow and is contributing to it immensely. Most visitors take a Kenya tour to enjoy safaris in its national parks like Amboseli, Kora, Tsavo East and Nairobi.

 

Tsavo East National Park: Geography and Attractions

 

Tsavo National Park

Tsavo National Park

With an area of about 13747 square kilometres, the Tsavo National Park is the largest protected wildlife hotspot in the country. The main entrance gate in Mtitio Andei is located about 233 km from Nairobi. Most of the region is a vast stretch of grassland, known in Africa as Savannah, through which, rivers Athi and Tsavo merge and form the Galana River. The park is also of archaeological significance as many artefacts from the early, middle and late Stone Age have been discovered from the floodplain of the river Galana.

Munduanda Rock

Munduanda Rock

Its rich diversity of animals has made it quite a popular tourist destination. Visitors can consider trekking to the top of Munduanda Rock, which is an isolated hill. The pond below it quenches the thirst of animals and it becomes a good place to view the surroundings and the wildlife. Tourists, who are roaming around, can also undertake a journey to the Yatta Plateau. It is a 290 km long land form, formed by continuously flowing lava.

The Aruba Dam, built across the Voi River and the Lugard Falls can also be explored, while people are visiting this park.

Vegetation and Wildlife

Many large mammals roam in the unhindered and naturally grassy lands. About 675 individual African lions are the biggest attractions here and safaris are the best way to see them in their natural surroundings. Mammals, larger than the king of the forest, include buffaloes, elephants, rhinoceros, giraffes and hippopotamus. Another big cat, which is found here in considerable numbers, is the leopard. Cheetah, the fastest mammal in the world and sometimes considered as a big cat also roams these lands. Among the relatively smaller ones inhabiting the region are various species of primates, rats, mongooses, antelopes, hyenas, foxes, zebras, jackals and rats. More than 500 species of birds also live here or migrate during various seasons.

agama lizards

agama lizards

The monitor, gecko and agama lizards, chameleons and crocodiles make up the reptiles, inhabiting the area. Besides the animals and birds, there are things worth seeing in this protected territory. It can be accessed via road from Nairobi and flights landing on an airstrip in and around the territory.

Paying Reverence at Konark Sun Temple

The sun is among the foremost natural sources of importance to humankind. It is a gigantic ball of gases that burns perpetually. The activities of humans are governed by the continuous waxing and waning of it. Since humans appeared on Earth, they have revered the sun extensively. Over the time, this natural phenomenon was elevated to the status of a god. Almost all the ancient and modern civilisations have their own way to perceive its greatness. The ancient Romans and Greeks worshipped it as Apollo the son of Zeus. In the Pharaoh-ruled Egypt, it assumed the form of Ra – one of their main deities. Similarly, in India and Hinduism, it is revered as Surya Dev, who has been explicitly mentioned and described in the epics, Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads. Numerous temples and shrines dedicated to the above-mentioned god were constructed all over the world; the most famous of which is in Konark. India holidays can be made better by visiting this antique marvel of architecture.

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

The Sun Temple in Konark, in the Indian state of Odisha, is one of the most majestic shrines ever built. According to the Bhavishya and Samba Puranas, the earliest temple at the site was constructed somewhere in the 9th century or earlier. The Madala Panji mentions another temple at this place, dating to the 7th century. Narsimhadeva I, who was a ruler of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty from 1238 to 1264, constructed the present structure. It is built in the shape of a huge chariot, like the one that Surya has, according to texts. A total of 12 stone wheels are carved on the platform, on which the shrine stands. Built, utilising the Kalinga style of architecture, it faces the east, so that it is illuminated as soon as the sun rises in the morning. Khodalite rocks, found in the Eastern Ghats of the country, were used in its construction.

There was a tower, 229 feet tall, just behind the present building. It, along with the sanctum, collapsed for reasons and date unknown. Kalapahad, a Bengali sultan, who invaded Odisha in 1568, is generally blamed for the mishap, along with loose soil, earthquakes and lightning strikes. Among the buildings that survive are the 128 feet high audience hall, dance hall and dining hall. The staircase, which leads to the shrine, is flanked by stone sculptures of lions. On the walls are carvings depicting horses and couples in erotic poses. The ruins of two more temples have been discovered close to the main structure. One of them is dedicated to Mayadevi – a wife of Surya, and was built in the 11th century. Idols of Balarama, Varaha and Trivikarma are housed in the second of the two, which suggests that it was built by people from the Vaishnava sect. The idols of the chief presiding deity are missing in both the places of worship.

Other Information

 

It is on the coast, about 2 km east of the Bay of Bengal. Konark is about 60 km from the state capital of Bhubaneshwar. Cabs and buses, taken from the railway station, get people to this famous tourist destination in about an hour, depending upon traffic conditions. Visitors cannot enter inside the building as it was closed, sealed and filled with sand in 1903.

Sikkim – A Gateway between Two Countries

Sikkim is a beautiful Indian state in the north-eastern part of the country. It is a mountainous state, lying in the Eastern Himalayas, with elevations ranging between 280 and 8568 metres at the summit of Kangchenjunga. It is the second smallest and the least populated state in the country. Padmasambhava, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, is said to have come here in the 9th century. Another legend tells that Guru Tashi, a prince from Tibet, had and epiphany telling him to travel south. Monarchy was established in the region in 1642, with Phuntsog Namgyal being proclaimed as its first king by lamas. In the 18th century, the region saw invasions from Bhutan and Nepal. The kingdom allied with the British against the latter in 1814, resulting in the Gurkha War. It became a part of India after signing a referendum in 1975. Since then, it developed a reputation as a major tourist destination. Sikkim travel is an ideal way to see its alpine lakes, Buddhist monasteries and the pass named Nathu La.

 

Nathu La

 

Nathu La

Nathu La

Nathu La is a high-altitude mountain pass in the south-eastern part of the state. It connects India to the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. In the Tibetan language, its name translates as listening ears pass. Situated at an altitude of 14450 feet above sea level, it is one of the three open borders between India and China. The Indian government has allowed the trading border to develop it into a tourist destination. Only Indian citizens, after obtaining a permit from Gangtok, can visit the site. It was closed after the 1961 war and reopened in 2006. An agreement between the two nuclear military powers allows 29 types of items from the Indian and 15 types from the Chinese side to cross the no mans land. Since ancient times, it has been used as a significant trading route, with the Silk Route passing through here. Crossing the line towards Tibet leads people to the Chumbi Valley.

 

The area is important for Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims, who have to undertake inter-country journeys to go to their respective temples and sites. Rumtek Monastery is an important Buddhist destination, where monks and devotees from Tibet arrive. Similarly, the Hindus take annual pilgrimages to Manasarovar Lake and Mount Kailash on the other side. The opening of the pass for human travellers is expected to cut the distance and the time taken to move from one nation to another, significantly. While coming here, tourists encounter many beautiful alpine glacial lakes on the way that further increase the value of the destination. The vegetation changes dramatically as people climb upwards. At lower elevations between 2000 and 6000 feet, pine is the dominant tree type. Above this, up to a height of about 9000 feet, the vegetation comprises deodar, fir and spruce. Further upwards, trees disappear and only meadows of grass, rhododendrons and other herbs like aconite or wolfsbane are found.

 

Many streams and rivers originate from the surrounding mountains gush through the region. The wildlife includes snow leopards, wolves, gazelles, snow cocks, lammergeiers, crows and eagles. The site should ideally be visited between May and August as during the rest of the year, it remains snow-clad.