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Important Places Associated with Indian Independence Movement

Independence Day falling on a Monday this year so it's long weekend time again! and this is the perfect time and opportunity for all those who wish to take a walk down memory lane and visit multiple patriotic places across the country.

So here we are giving a list of some of places in India that make you feel patriotic.

1] Red Fort:  

Red Fort, Delhi
Image credit:- flickr

 

The majestic Red Fort located in old Delhi and it is visited by thousands of visitors each day. It has been important part of Indian freedom strugle. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's who had become the first Prime gave first Independence speech on 15th August 1947 at Red Fort. There are many attractions like monuments and museum that represent a glimpse of major phases of India's struggle for freedom.

2] Wagah Border, Punjab 

Wagah border
Image credit: flickr

 

It is border post located on the Grand Trunk road and approximately 30 km away from Amritsar.
The place is must visit for to witness the popular ceremony of lowering of the flags of India and Pakistan.

3] Sabarmati Ashram, Gujarat

Sabarmati Ashram
Image credit: flickr

 

Situated on the bank of Sabarmati river and about 5 km from the center of Ahmedabad has historical importance. It was the place from where Mahatma Gandhi started his padayatra (foot march) in 1930 from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi for the Salt Satyagraha. The ashram also know as Satyagraha Ashram.

4] Cellular jail, Andaman Islands

 
Cellular jail
Image credit:flickr

The Cellular Jail has been a mute witness to the long and glorious struggle of our revolutionary freedom movement. Vir Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a famous freedom fighter of India, was imprisoned here for 11 years.
Port blair is well connected to the main land by regular passage of ships and scheduled flights from KolKata and chennai.

5] Jallianwala Bagh,Punjab

 
Jallianwala Bagh
Image credit:flickr

Jallianwala Bagh is a public garden in Amritsar and has an important place in the Indian history. It is the place where on 13th April, 1919, on the occasion of Baisakhi(Punjab's largetst festival) British soldiers opened fire against thousands of unarmed innocent men, women, and children without warning. 

6] Azad Park, Uttar Pradesh

Azad Park, Allahabad
Image credit: wikipedia

 

One of the biggest public park located in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh is associated with  Chandra Shekhar Azad, a revolutionary's fight in the freedom struggle of the country.
The park was earlier known as Alfred park but later it was renamed as Azad Park after freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azad, who sacrificed his life here.


7] India Gate

India gate
Image credit: flickr

 


India Gate is the monument which has very important historical significance. It was built in honor of  the 90,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died during the World War I and the Afghan Wars (1919).
'Amar Jawan Jyoti' is another must visit place near India Gate. a site for Indian Army soldiers who lost their lives in 1971 war with Pakistan.

8] Netaji Bhawan, Kolkata

Netaji Bhawan
Image credit: flickr


It is a ancestral home of Subash Chandra Bose, a patriot and freedom figher of India. It was built in 1909 by Subash Chandra Bose's father and Subash Chandra Bose spend his childhood till he escape to Berlin in 1941.

So what are you waiting for? make the most of your weekend and holidays in this August with this awesome car rental offers and head out to any of these places.

Lesser-known Facts about the Heritage city Aurangabad

Known:
The heritage city Aurangabad (Maharashtra) is best known for the Ajanta and Ellora caves. The city serves as a base destination for reaching the historical sites mentioned above and attracts tourists from all across the globe. This city was a Mughal Territory in the reign of Aurangazeb and is named after the emperor. The city houses the mausoleum of Aurangzeb’s wife which is known as the Taj of Deccan.
Aurangabad’s proximity to Ellora, Ajanta, Daulatabad and Shirdi has earned the city a prominent place in the tourism industry of India. The city has geared up to cater both national and international tourists by providing good accommodation and transportation facilities. The city is served by a well connected airport and a railway station. MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) provides special tourist packages for seeing Ajanta and Ellora Caves. You can also ask for private transport services or hire a car to reach here.
Lesser-known:

Image Courtesy:Prajna LS
 The city is, so far, known by its historical significance and industrial growth. But, not many know about the internal cultural activities that go unnoticed by the visitors. The city keeps hosting classical music and dance concerts frequently for the connoisseurs. Up until recently, there used to be Ellora Festival every year by inviting international level singers and dancers. The Ellora festival has been temporarily halted.
However, another cultural event hosted by MAHAGAMI (Mahatma Gandhi Mission Sangeet Academy) is making news. It is called the Sharangadev Samaroh. This unique music and dance festival has been initiated by the director of MAHAGAMI, Parwati Datta. Parwati Datta, being a versatile Kathak and Odissi dancer, has been motivating the art lovers of Aurangabad since the establishment of the institution and is coordinating noted artists of the nation to enlighten the younger generation on the path of Indian music and dance heritage. 
 
Image Courtesy:Prajna LS
Image Courtesy:Prajna LS

Sharangdev Samaroh is one such step taken by MAHAGAMI. This cultural event celebrates the rich heritage of classical music and dance that exists in various forms all across India. This event is especially dedicated to the 13th century musicologist Sharangadev, who is said to have lived in the court of Devagiri Yadava rulers. Devagiri is the present day Daulatabad which is at about 17 km from the city.

Sangeeta Ratnakara, the book written by Sharangadev is an important text for the seekers of both Hindustani and Carnatic music tradition. This 13th century text documents almost all the prevalent dance and music traditions of that time and gives descriptions about technical details of dance movements, music, and rhythm. So, to commemorate the contribution made by the author, the Sharangadev Samaroh will be held in the land where the author created such a treatise.
The cultural event comprises of a three day workshop followed by evening concerts. Eminent artists belonging to various music and dance traditions such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Kathak, Odissi, Mohiniattam and Manipuri will present their pieces. Noted artists like Birju Maharaj, Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, Padma Bhushan Swapna Sundari, Sadanam Balakrishnan and many other scholars have graced the event so far.
Dear tourist…

If you are planning to visit Aurangabad, please make a note of this event. Normally, the event will be held in January or February for three days and nights. Visitors can make use of this opportunity if they are in the city during that time. Try something different when you are in Aurangabad next time. Experience the lesser- known treasures of Aurangabad.

On the unruffled shore of Ganapatipule …

Life in a city sucks sometimes. It appears as though we are struck inside a fixed frame, lost in the mundane activities, and feel like coming out of the congestion. Congestion created by work related stress, family oriented pressures….After all we are poor human beings who need a break to re-charge our energy. We need a peaceful place that keeps you away from all worries, makes you forget the world and helps you to rejuvenate yourself. If you are in need of such a retreat, then, you must visit Ganaptipule.
Image credit:Prajna LS
Ganapatipule is a small village in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, India. The region of Ratnagiri lies in the Konkan Maharashtra along the western coastline. Ganapatipule provides a serene sea shore of a recreational kind. The village is also known for an ancient Ganapati Temple that lies near the seashore. It is located at 30 km away from Ratnagiri city.
It was in the last summer that we had planned for a weekend trip to Ganapatipule. We had planned to reach the place via Kolhapur. Kolhapur (140 km) is the nearest transport hub to reach Ratnagiri and Ganapatipule. Ratnagiri is connected by Konkan rail to Mumbai. We had hired a taxi from Kolhapur to Ganapatipule.
You can’t call Ganapatipule a town. Due to increased number tourists this remote Konkan village is expanding. Most interesting part of the village is the MTDC beach resort facing the calm and quiet sea shore. It is a huge campus comprising rooms and cottages facing the shore. Book the room in advance during peak seasons. You may get private hotels also, but, MTDC rooms provide direct sea view.
Image Credit:Prajna LS

We had booked a sea view cottage. Our aim was to spend leisurely hours on the sea shore just like that idly. We had gone there to drench ourselves in the lap of nature. The beach was less crowded and it is one of the most untouched beaches of Maharashtra, one can say. We were blessed to have refreshing morning and evening walks on the shore. In fact, we were left to have our own time in the sea. I should say, I am enamoured by the profound serenity of the place, would love to go there again.
The MTDC resort has a restaurant that provides good meals. There are restaurants outside the MTDC compound if you want to try out. Remember to taste the ‘Sol-khadi’ a local drink. It tastes like flavoured buttermilk that is made up of Kokam fruits.
What to do:
The place is less modernised and it is solely for leisure trips. The beach is the main attraction, but it is not a commercialised beach. We enjoyed drenching ourselves in the unruffled seas reflecting the clear blue sky in the noon. We just sat there for hours together watching the playful waves. We gazed at the vast sea that turned crimson as the sun made his way for another evening. It was heavenly sight!
After the sunset, we visited the Ganapati temple which was situated on the other end of the same seashore. During high tide, the sea waves touch the entrance of the temple it seems. It’s a beautiful temple in a beautiful location providing a pious ambience to the place.
If you have time, you can take a round of nearby locations. There is an open air museum in Ganapatipule displaying the local Konkani lifestyle. There is a small shop inside the museum if you want to buy local products like Kokum, honey, pickles and snacks.
We visited Malgund, the hometown of Keshavsut - the much revered poet of Maharashtra. Malgund is just 10 minutes journey from Ganapatipule. Poet Keshavsut’s residence has been converted into a memorial now.
In brief:
Ganapatipule provides best recreation for those who love tranquillity. MTDC is the best available resort there. Autos are available for sightseeing. Main attraction is the beach. Best for a weekend getaway from Mumbai, Pune and Aurangabad. Good for all seasons except Monsoon. December is the peak season, so book rooms three months before if you are planning for December. Kolhapur is the nearest transportation hub. Ratnagiri is the nearest railhead.

Mumbai- 326 km, Pune-308 km , Kolhapur -140 km, Ratnagiri -30 km  

World Heritage sites in Maharashtra


World Heritage sites are managed by UNESCO. The International World Heritage Programme recognizes sites of cultural importance such as forests, mountains, islands, deserts, monument, building, complex or a city as Heritage Sites for the preservation of cultural heritage. These sites will be maintained under the supervision of UNESCO. The criteria for selecting a site as Heritage site is that it should represent outstanding universal significance in terms of cultural contributions. The sites will be listed by each country and then, the International committee decides after examination of the prominence of such sites.
India has many World Heritage sites. Let us focus upon Maharashtra state. Four sites have been listed under the World Heritage Sites program in Maharashtra.
Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus: This is a railway terminus located in Mumbai. This is a colonial structure named after the Queen Victoria. This railway terminus was renamed in 1996. The terminus was built was completed in 1880 during the British era. The monument is still active and is a major railway terminus in India.
It is popularly known as CST, which was under terrorist attack. The railway terminus is built in the Victorian Gothic style comprising beautiful carvings. It became a World Heritage Monument in 2004.
Ajanta: Situated about 100 km from the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra these rock cut caves are well known for paintings. These caves were discovered by British officers in the 19th century. These caves date back to 100 B.C. All are Buddhist Caves.

image credit:kamat.com
 Ajanta caves are one of the prestigious monuments of India. One would marvel at the skill of Indian artisans. Details of the life style belonging to that period are displayed through paintings.
Ajanta caves can be approached by road. Hire taxis or take the MTDC tourist buses to reach Ajanta from Aurangabad city. Ajanta caves are protected by Eco-Conservation program. So, public vehicles are not allowed inside the premises. Public or private vehicles would drop you at the T-point and from there the tourists will be taken in an Eco-friendly bus. It takes about 5 minute to reach the cave site from the T-point.
Ellora: Ellora rock cut caves are situated at about 27 km from Aurangabad city. There are 34 caves in total belonging to Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions. They were built in various periods spanning from 5th to 11th centuries. Kailas Nath Temple, which is known for its magnificence is a single rock cut temple.

image credit:siddharthtravels.com
Ellora can be reached by road. Aurangabad is the nearest destination for accommodation and transportation. You can visit the Daulatabad Fort on the way.
Elephanta Caves: These 7th century caves are located on an island in the Arabian Sea near Mumbai Coast. Elephanta caves are located at about 9 nautical miles from the Gateway of India. You can reach the site by ferries. Regular ferries are available near the Gateway of India.

Tripura: Land of Oranges

It was a princely state in the colonial times. The state at present, is just gearing up for the contemporary trends in tourism. Tripura, best known for rich natural landscape, is quiet region compared to its sister states in the North Eastern India.
Agartala, the capital city of Tripura is the most visited city. Accommodation with wide range of hotels and resorts and connectivity make Agartala a possible tourist junction in Tripura.
People of Tripura feel proud if you mention the name of Indian legendary music composer late S.D. Burman. S.D. Burman, possessing a royal inheritance in Tripura, was born and brought up in present day Bangladesh. But, he is considered an icon of Tripura till today. Another legendary personality, the poet Rabindranath Tagore also is respected highly in this state. He seems to have great affinity with the Manikya rulers of Tripura. So, you would win the hearts of Tripura people by mentioning these two famous personalities!
Total 19 tribes live in the state. The Kokborok speaking community is the main dominant tribe among all. At present the state houses mixed culture. Influence of Bengali culture on food and festivities is apparently visible.
Agriculture is the main activity here. Tripura borders Myanmar in the east and Bangladesh in the west.
How to reach: Agartala is well connected by road, rail and airways. Flights are available from Agartala to Delhi, Kolkata, Imphal, Silichar and Guwahati. You would get connecting flights to other cities. Agartala is connected to Assam, Dhaka and Comilla by train. The state is connected by only one National Highway and that is not in good condition.
What to buy: Buy Bamboo and Cane products and Tripuri traditional dress. Tripuri traditional dress consists of three parts out of which only two parts are worn nowadays. The pattern will be somewhat like wrap around and a top, but it is known as Rignai (wrap around) and Risa (top).
What to see: Most visited city in Trpura is Agartala. Other parts of the state could be reached by buses and taxis. Interiors of the state can offer government guest houses and low budget hotels.
  • Agartala

    The city boasts of having a rich historical connection with the Manikya rulers. The city was the capital of the Princely State that ruled over the region. Ujjayanta Palace, Museum, Sukanta Academy, and Purbasa Emporium are the main attractions in the city.

  • Unakoti

    It is at about 178 km from Agartala, is a place of attraction from archeological point of view. This place is known for stone carvings on a hill belonging to 7th/8th centuries. These rock carvings of Shiva and other gods are situated randomly on a hill. Imagine a hill comprising carvings on its huge rocks everywhere! Also visit Debtamura and Pilak sites.
  • Tripura Sundari Temple:

     it is considered one of the Shakti Peethas in India. The place is located about 55 km from Agartala.
  • Gomuti Bird sanctuary

    This is located at about 40 km from Agartala and is a good place for bird lovers.
  • Jampui Hill

    This is at about 250 km from the capital. This is a beautiful hill station comprising orange gardens. Visit during winter months to see orange trees bearing orange fruits. 
    Jampui Hill
    (image credit:yohyoh.com)

Explore North East India-Nagaland


Nagaland
Nagaland, the land of 16 indigenous tribes and their unique traditions, is located between Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar. Kohima is the capital city. The city of Dimapur bordering Assam is the main city inside the state having good connection with other parts of the country by road, rail and Airways. It takes about one and half hour to reach Kohima from Dimapur by road.
Culture of Nagaland comprises of indigenous tribes following the traditions of their forefathers, but, most of them have been Christianized during the Colonial rule. One can expect modernized cities and people over there. However, the native culture is preserved through community festivals and local rituals. The Great Indian Hornbill festival is one such cultural gathering of all tribal people.
It is the home for Hornbills, Tragopan (State Bird of Nagaland), and Mithun (domesticated Gaur species. The geographical terrain contains hill ranges. The region experiences cool weather throughout the year. It is one of the most hospitable destinations in North East India.
Nagaland is served by one airport located at Dimapur. Connecting flights and direct flights are available to Guwahati and Kolkata. Dimapur is the well connected railway head in the state. Buses and rental taxis are available to travel around the state.
You can stay either in Dimapur or Kohima. However, do not miss to experience village stays. Bamboo huts built in the model of the tribal huts provide you a different experience. Do not worry about the amenities. The huts and guest houses at the villages provide western facilities.
Indian tourists are required to get Inner Lane Permit and foreign tourists no longer require the Restricted Area Permit (barring tourists from Bangladesh, China and Pakistan).
Destinations to visit:
  • Dimapur: This is an ancient city known for Ahom rule and the Kachari Dimasa rulers. It is said that the region in which the present day Dimpaur is located was the place of Hidimba (wife of Bhima) from the Mahabharata. At present the city is the gateway to Nagaland. Ruins of old Kachari tribe are preserved in the city.
  • Kohima: This city witnessed the famous battle between the Japanese and the British forces during the Second World War. Visit the war memorial and the Kisama Heritage Village here. Make a trip during the first week of December; you would get to participate in the famous Hornbill Festival.
  • Mokokchung: This district is the home of Ao tribe. Visit the Mopungchuket village.
    Mokokchung  (image credit:stylesatlife.com)

  • Mon: It is the home for the Konyak tribe. You can find the tribal people appearing in traditional tribal dress. This district borders Myanmar. The district hosts Aoleong Monyu Festival in April.
  • Wokha: This is the home for Lotha tribe. This is best known for landscape, and fresh farm products.

Meghalay: Land of clouds!


 Meghalay, as the name suggests, is the land of clouds. The state is the home for highest rainfall belt comprising Chirapunji. The state shares its borders with Assam and Bangladesh. Shillong is the capital city. It is a state that is adorned by green hills all over and is thus, districts of the state are divided on the basis of hill regions. So, you see Khasi Hills district, Jaintia Hills district etc.
The state is a rich source of coal, limestone, dolomite and quartz. Timber, bamboo, reed, cane, lemon-grass, thatch grass and medicinal herbs are grown all across. The state experiences highest rainfall in the country.
Khasi culture is one of the indigenous cultures of the region. The community follows matrilineal kinship tradition. Khasi is one of the spoken languages of Meghalaya.
Let us explore tourist destination in Meghalaya. Destinations are divided according to the hill districts in which they are situated. Exotic landscape, waterfalls and caves are the main attractions in the state. You would be interested to visit deep rock caves wading through waterways! Meghalaya houses such ones.
  • Khasi Hills Region:

    Khasi Hills region
    Image courtesy: www.indiatravelpal.com

Shillong is the most popular city located in the Khasi Region. The capital city is the gateway to enter Meghalaya. You can visit the city all through the year. It is a well connected to Assam. Shillong is a hill resort comprising waterfalls, green valleys, river brooks and gardens. The city entertains wide range of guests. It would be an ideal place to hold business conferences.
This region is the home for heavy rainfall areas including Cherrapunji. Smit, Mawaphlang, Sohra (Cherrapunjee), Laitkynsew, Mawsynram, Nongkhum Island, Ranikor river valley and Mawlynnong Villages to experience exotic landscape.
  • Jaintia Hills Region:

This is located towards the border of Bangladesh. Dawki, is the gateway to enter Bangladesh. It is a border city where lots of border crossing activities go on. It is a route for international trade between India and Bangladesh. The Umngot River is the natural boundary between the two countries.
Tyrshi Falls, Lalong Park, Krang Suri Falls, Umlawan Cave (this is considered to be the deepest and the longest cave in the sub-continent), Thadlaskein lake -these are some important sites to visit.
Thlumuwi Waterfalls
(image credit:
flickr.com)

Get in

There is a small airport in Shillong about 35 km from the city. It is called Umroi Airport. Flights to Kolkata are available. Best way is to reach via Guwahati, which is just 2-3 hours journey by road. Helicopter service is available from Guwahati to Tura and Tura to shilling.


What to buy: 

You would get bamboo artifacts. Buy Naga and Manipuri shawls that you get in Meghalaya. You would get Manipuri wrap-around skirts and lungis too. Khasi Scrub, a natural handmade scrub you would get on the streets. 

Mizoram


Mizoram is one of the less travelled states in North Eastern region. It could be termed as a state of hills; cities are built up on the hill slops in almost all districts of the state. The state is best known for close-knit community sense. The Mizo people are less conscious about class distinctions, it is said.
Mizoram is located on the southern tip of North East India hosting indigenous ethnic communities. However, culture of Mizo people has undergone transformation due to Christian Missionaries in the early 18th and 19th centuries. Almost all communities are Christianized, it is doubtful yet, how distinct are they now, in real terms.
The state of Mizoram is surrounded by Myanmar and Bangladesh, two foreign countries. Assam, Manipur and Tripura are the Indian states bordering Mizoram. Aizawal is the state capital.
How to reach:
The Lengpui Airport situated at about 35 km from Aizawal, the state capital is connected to Guwahati and Kolkata. Silichar in Assam (180 km from Aizawal) is the nearest railhead. Buses and private vehicles are available from Silichar to Aizawal.
One needs to obtain Inner Lane Permit. Carry your photo ID and copies of your photographs. Entry formalities can be done at these cities: Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Delhi and Silichar.
Main occupation in Mizoram is agriculture. Up until recently Mizo people used to practice the age-old ‘Jhum’ (slash and burn) cultivation. Now the government has introduced new methods of farming. People are uniquely distinct and show strong community sense.
MIzo people are best known by their Bamboo pole dance which is called Cheraw Dance. They celebrate the festival of Thalfavang Kut Festival every year in the month of November. This is a harvest festival. Cultural games and dances will be showcased during then. 
image courtesy: indianetzone.com
 Mizoram offers cloud filled hills, emerald valleys, meandering streams, and unique tribal culture. Weather would be pleasant all through the year. September to May would be the best time to visit. Buy handicrafts, hand woven fabrics and bamboo crafts.
Tourist destinations in Mizoram:
  • Aizawal: This hill town is closer to many important tourist destinations in Mizoram like Reiek village on a mountain top, Durtang Hills, Hmuifang, Berawtang, Solomon’s Temple, and Khuangchera Puk Cave. Don’t miss to visit the World’s Largest Family in Baktawang Village. Aizawal has good many hotels and resorts with modern amenities. Make the city your base destination. Rejoice your shopping in the traffic free Bara Bazar.
  • What else would be more interesting than to explore exotic forests, steep hills, waterfalls in Mizoram?! Visit Phawngpui Blue Mountain which is located near Myanmar border. It is at about 230 km from Aizawal. You would be enthralled by rare kind of orchids and rhododendrons flowers. 
    image courtesy: industrialtour.com
     
  • Sibuta Lung Stone Architecture at Tachhip Village (20 km from Aizawal), Memorial of Chhingpui, Pangzawal Village, Lung Memorial Stone, Tualchang Stone slabs , Tomb of Vanhimailian, Vantawang Falls are some other tourist sites near Aizawal. Aizawal city is the main tourist point in Mizoram.

Manipur: the land of Gandharvas!


Manipur, being the home for a tradition of antiquity called Sanamahism and an oldest ethnic community called Metei, is known as the ‘Switzerland of East”. Imphal is the capital city.
Manipur is the land of unique Metei culture representing unique dance style and sports traditions. The region is known for elegant dance styles, music tradition, martial arts and sculpture. The Rasalila dance with delicate and graceful movements is known to be inherited by Gandharvas. Pung Cholom, a group dance performed by playing a percussion instrument called Pung, is a dance form performed by male dancers. 
image credit: manipuri.20m.com
 The state was founded in 1972. It is surrounded by three Indian states (Mizoram, Nagaland, Assam) and a foreign country (Myanmar).
Manipur’s geographical terrain contains river valleys, and hills. The natural environment in Manipur has been undisturbed so far. The presence of AFSPA has been a matter of concern and you might have heard of Irom Sharmila the brave lady of Manipur who has been protesting against it.
Manipur is connected well by Imphal Airport. The capital town is linked well to Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Silichar and Agartala by air and roadways. If you are traveling by train, Dimapur in Nagaland would be the nearest destination. But, Dimapur is located at about 220 km from Imphal.
Manipur hosts a 10 days cultural fest from 21st to 30th November every year. It is known as the Manipur Sangai Festival.
Accommodation: Imphal city is the best place to stay. You would get plenty of hotels. If you want to check resorts in the interiors of Manipur, you would get of course.
Cuisine: Staple food is rice along with leafy vegetables and fish. They use herbs and spices while preparing food. Serve in small banana leaf pouches. Ngari, Iromba, Chamfoot and Morok are some popular names of Manipuri dishes.
Shopping: Go for Handloom articles, silk sarees, scarves, bamboo articles, ivory articles, shawls and jewellery.
Important tourist destinations:
  • Bishnupur district: The popular tourist spot - Loktak Lake, a 14th century Vishnu temple, Keibul Lamjao National Park, INA memorial and the Loukoipat Lake. Loktak Lake is situated at about 48 km from Imphal. A tourist guest house attached with a cafeteria is there on an island called Sendra Island facing the lake.
  • Imphal is divided into two districts: Imphal East and Imphal West. Imphal, the state capital is located in Imphal West district. Manipur State Museum, Shaheed Minar, Zoological garden, palace, Ima Market and the very famous Khonghampat Orchidarium are the main attraction in the district. The Orchidarium houses more than 100 orchid varieties. It is located on the outskirts of Imphal city.
  • Senapati district: The district houses old villages belonging to age old Naga tribes. Yangkhullen and Makhel are the quite known among them. Mao, an oldest hill station is located in this district. Dzukou valley is the most popular tourist place in the Senapati district. With picturesque landscape and unique Lily flowers the valley attracts nature loving tourists. The valley is the home for the highest mountain peak in Manipur named, Manipur Mount. Sadhu Chiru Waterfall is also located in the same district.

Explore North East India

North-Eastern India is the less explored region in India compared to other parts of the nation. Lack of accessibility was the major concern for the tourists. But, now, the region is slowly opening up to nature enthusiasts. Though there are instances of separatist protests and agitations in a few parts of the region, tourists activities go on. However, it is better to update yourself before landing up there.
North East India, as the name suggests, is located to the North-Eastern part of India bordering China (Southern Tibet), Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The region consists of seven states: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura. Rich biodiversity, indigenous local cultures and picturesque landscape have made this region versatile and unique. Let us explore the tourism possibilities of each state within this region. There are two World Heritage Sites in the region and they are located in Assam: Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary and Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam.
Arunachal Pradesh
Known as ‘The land of Dawn lit Mountains’, the state of Arunachal Pradesh is located on the eastern most part of North Eastern India bordering China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nagaland and Assam. Bound by the Himalayan Mountains in the north, the state is the home for exclusively rare variety of orchids. Hence it is also called the Orchid State of India.
Image credit: sparktravels.com
Culture of Arunachal Pradesh comprises indigenous tribes and Buddhist traditions mainly. Most of the tribal language belongs to Tibeto0Burman family, which is known as Tani language. Itanagar is the capital city.
Buddhist Gompas occupy the larger section of state heritage sites and thus makes the state a destination for ‘Spiritual Tourism’. The Tawang Monastery is one of the important Buddhist sites in the entire India.
Travellers need Inner Lane Permits to travel within the state. There are different travel circuits marked by the Tourism Authorities and the tourists will have to mention to which circuit they will be travelling.
Travel locations within the state are spread out among five river valleys (the Kameng, the Subansiri, the Siang, the Lohit and the Tirap), lakes, Himalayan peaks and Himalayan forests. The climate depends upon the locations; freezing Greater Himalayas, cool Middle Himalayas or moderate lower Himalayas.
Four main travel circuits are:
  • Tezpur-Tipi-Bombdilla-Tawang
  • Tinsukia-Tezu-parasuramkund
  • Margherita-Miao-Namdapha
  • Itanagar-Ziro-Daporijo-Along-Pasighat
Main tourist destinations within the state are:
  • Tawang Monastery: This 17th century Buddhist monastery is the largest in India located about 180 km from Bomdilla. It is situated at 10,000 ft altitude.
  • Ziro: This is the headquarters of Lower Subansiri district. This town is known for community festivals hosted by the Apatani tribe.
  • Namdapha Tiger Project
  • Sela Lake near Bomdilla
  • Malinathan temple, Rukmini Nagar, Parasuram Kund are associated with epics of India.
  • Itanagar: the state capital houses archaeological sites. Ita Fort, Ganga lake, Jawaharlal Museum are main attractions.

The state is not served by a proper airport. Airports in the Assam state are the nearest points for air travellers. By road, the state is connected to Tezpur of Assam. Soon it will be connected by a railway line Harmuti to Naharlagun. Stay in guest houses, lodges, private hotels and home stays. 

Wayanad


Wayanad region in Kerala is known for aboriginal tribal culture, paddy fields and rich forests. The region is not connected by rail network yet. It is situated in the southern tip of the Deccan Plateau bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states. The region has been a district in the state of Tamil Nadu. The entire region comprising three Taluks has been chosen as one of the promising tourist spots under the Responsible Tourism project in Kerala.
Kalpetta is the district headquarters. You can approach this region via Karnataka or Tamil Nadu. From Karnataka side, one can enter through Mysore and Coorg. Kozhikode in Kerala is the nearest major destination that is connected well by rail/road and airways. Kalpetta is at a distance of about 75 km from Kozhikode. Sultan Bathery is another main town in Wayanad having good connection.
Speciality of this region is that it is tucked away in the wild forests of Western Ghats. The remoteness and less movement of population have created a distinct atmosphere in the entire region. You feel like exploring more. Winding Ghat sections, thick jungles, wild life, heritage spots and the local indigenous/un-disturbed tribal culture are really rewarding. Preservation and conservation of the local culture and environment has been the priority of Wayanad Tourism Organization.


Explore:
 
Chembra Peak  
 (image courtesy:kiran kumar)

Chembra Peak, Neelima View Point, Meenmutty Falls, Chethalaym Falls, Brhamagiri Hills, Banasura Sagar Dam, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuaries in Muthunga and Tholpetty, Sulthan Bahthery Jain Temple, Edakkal Caves, Wayanad Heritage Museum, Muniyara, Pazhassi Raja’s Tomb, Valliyoor Temple, Papanashini, Tirunelli, Pookote Lake, Sentinal Rock Falls, Sunrise Valley and phantom rock…huh! Innumerable spots you see.
Many NGOs have joined hands in the preservation of local culture and have been providing market to locally grown products. Medicinal herbs, spices and handicrafts produced in this region are in great demand.
Accommodation:
Resorts and home stays overlooking Jungles and plantations are very popular among the tourists here. These home stays provide the experience of traditional homes of Kerala. Jungle resorts are typical of this region.

Thekkady

The Responsible Tourism project in Thekkady was inaugurated in 2008. The intention behind this project was to provide a reliable market for the local products, and to ensure eco-friendly tourism in the region.
Kerala state is a hotspot of Indian tourism. Destinations of diverse interests like beaches, ancient temples, backwater trail, houseboats, wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations and moreover the state offers peace full travel experience.
Thekkady, which is known for Periyar Tiger Reserve is located in the Idukki district of Kerala. Idukki district itself is a major attraction comprising wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, spice plantations, elephant rides and rich landscape.
Thekkady is the gateway to enter the Periyar Reservoir which is famous for the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Thekkady is a small village showcasing the rich heritage of Kerala Culture. Timber cottages, eco-friendly resorts, home stays are available here for the tourists.
      Periyar Reservoir 
(Image Courtesy: osakaair.com)

Nearest railhead is Kottayam and the nearest airport is available at Madurai. However, ideal way to enter the place is to go via Munnar hill station. Munnar is situated at about 85 km. If you go in a private vehicle, you can reach within 2 hours. On the way, you can have a glance at spectacular spice plantations.
Munnar is closer to Ernakulam Railway Station and Cochin International Airport is the nearest air base. So, you can cover Fort Kochi, Munnar and Tekkadi in one package. Spend a day at Thekkady to experience the village stay.
You may have to buy tickets for entering Periyar Reserve at Thekkady. A jungle safari in the Periyar Reservoir is the main part of the Jungle Safari over there. You will get to see wild animals near the river. Actually the Tiger Reserve is located within an island surrounded by the Periyar Lake. So, you would be taking a round of the Periyar Lake. Boat mishaps have been reported recently, confirm with the locals before booking a boat ride.

 Visit nearby spice and coffee plantations; Murikkady is the nearest of all. Thekkady is also connected to Kodaikenal Hill station of Tamil Nadu. 

Kovalam


Kovalam, being one of the popular destinations in Kerala, is located at about 16 km from the state capital Trivandrum. Kerala Tourism has taken eco-friendly initiatives in Kovalam by launching ‘Beyond Beach’ project. Beyond Beach is an offshoot of the Responsible Tourism in Kerala.
As we all know that Kovalam is best known for beach resorts. It is one of the oldest tourist attractions of India since the time of the British. ‘Beyond Beach’ programme offers a unique kind of experience to the traveller and it is mutually rewarding for both: the traveller and the local people. The intention is to develop community based awareness about the local culture and environment as to benefit both the host and the tourist. 

Vizhinjam
Image Courtesy:Arun Jr
No matter whether you are a frequent visitor or a new comer, make sure to ask about this special service that is provided by the local guides. The guides would take you to explore the lesser known interiors of Kovalam and its village surroundings. Have a village life experience in Kovalam.

How to reach:

Trivandrum is the nearest destination to reach Kovalam by road, rail and airways. Hire taxis from Trivandrum to Kovalam.

Where to stay:

Beach resorts overlooking the sea are available.

What to see:

Kovalam is famous for its beaches. Three beaches constitute the 17km long coast line along the Arabian Sea. The Lighthouse beach is the most popular one.
Surfing, Boat ride and motor boat ride services are available on the coast.
Visit Vizhinjam, Poovar, Akkulam, and Agasthyarkoodam Peak if you get time.

Kumarakonam


Kumarakonam shines like a jewel in the crown; it is the pride of backwater tourism in India. Stretched to the eastern side of the Vembanad Lake, Kumarakonam is also known to be an important destination in the emerging Responsible Tourism in India.
Location:
Kumarakonam is a part of Kottayam district in Kerala situated besides the famous Vembanad Lake. The location can be called a cluster of villages nearby the Vembanad Lake. From Kottayam (15km), it is just 15 minutes drive. Kottayam is the nearest railhead and Cochin International Airport is the nearest (95 km) airport. Ferries are available from Allepy and Kochi. 
Image courtesy: weareholidays.co.in
 The Vembanad Lake in Kerala is the backbone of Backwater Tourism in that state. It is the longest lake in Kerala stretching between Kochi and Allepy. The lake is surrounded by Kotayam, Ernakulam and Alappuzha districts. Cluster of islands formed in the lake have become tourist spots. Six major rivers of Kerala merge into this lake.
Fort Kochi lies on the north western side of the lake where as Kumarakonam is situated to the south eastern side. A salt water barrier has been built across the stream of the lake to avoid salt water flow into the lake. It is called the Thanneermukkom barrier and as a result one side of the hat barrier is a fresh water lake. Kumarakonam is a part of the fresh water lake side.
It is known for:
Kumarakonam has made news recently by bagging the prestigious UN award for Sustainable Tourism. It is a part of Kerala’s Responsible Tourism project.
The destination is known for backwater tourism, houseboats, and fishing. The place is the epitome of serene beauty by housing coconut groves on the either sides of the canals. Kumarakom Boat Race is a major event in the locality.
Tourists like the place because the place provides luxurious resorts and houseboats. Wide ranges of houseboats overlooking the lake are available here.
Visit Kumarakonam Bird sanctuary that is located near the Vembanad Lake. A Victorian Bungalow which is the present day Taj Garden Retreat, which was the home of Baker family is situated near the sanctuary. Back in time it was known as the Baker’s estate.
If you have read Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, the Aymanam village mentioned in the book resembles Kumarakonam.
Best option would be to stay in a hired houseboat. It is an experience of a unique kind. You would get plenty of other options too. Lake view resorts, Home stays, eco-resorts, Villas, and budget hotels are available. Don’t forget to relish the local delicacies like Appam, Kappa, Karimeen (Pearl Spot fish) and varieties of seafood.

Taj Mahal …a real beauty


Taj Mahal
Image courtesy: Seba Della y Sole Bossio

Almost each Indian family has a Taj mahal in their list to visit and why shouldn’t it be? It is the on the top list of every foreign tourists while their stay in India. The great Taj Mahal, breathtakingly amazing white marbled sculpture which is in one of the seven wonders of World is an impeccable example of symmetrical structure; especially enchanting since it was built five centuries back.
Mughal emperor Shah Jahan dedicated this taj mahal to his third wife Mumtaz Mahal who died while giving birth to his fourteenth offspring. It took 20 years to complete this sculpture and more than 22,000 people to build it. Taj mahal is considered as a “symbol of love”. It is a wonder when we watch this monument carefully that this could be built in 16th century meaning how developed and skilled architectural concepts existed at that time.
The calligraphy written on the great gate says “o soul though at rest return to the lord at peace with him & he at peace with you”.
It is said that Shah Jahan wanted to build the same building but in black marble on the other side of the river but that couldn’t be fulfilled since he had a war with his sons for the crown of the emperor ship.
Taj mahal is in the Agra district of the state Uttar Pradesh in north India. It is 124km away from the Delhi, the capital city of India. After reaching Delhi one can hire car or go by bus to Agra.
The name taj mahal means the crown palace. It is among the list of the seven most notable places all over the world.
Taj Mahal takes different colours at different times of the day. It is assumes that symbolizes the moods of his queen Mumtaz Mahal. It is pink in the morning time; it looks white in the day time and golden in the moon light.
It was rumoured that many precious stones were hidden in the walls of this monument while the time of construction and they could be seen in the moon light on full moon night but those were snatched and taken out by British during 1857.
It is considered to be a romantic place; may be because of the history it has left behind but when you visit this place with your loved one and feels the beauty of this place during the night you can’t stop falling in love once again with your loved one, yourself and with this beautiful place.


Responsible Tourism in India


Kerala Tourism has won the prestigious UN award for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism this year (2014). The award was conferred on 22nd of January, 2014. This is for the first time that an Indian organisation has been conferred with such an honour at the global level. The award is honoured by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
While reading this news clip, I came across a catchy phrase called ‘Responsible Tourism’. It is for the excellent management of this ‘Responsible Tourism’ in Kumarakom the top honour has been given. So, I was curious to know more about Responsible Tourism.
Responsible Tourism is an offshoot of Eco Tourism, which is also known as Sustainable Tourism. This project aims at creating awareness about eco-balance, conservation of local environment, respecting local culture and the project encourages more and more involvement by the local people by supporting the local economy. It is a team work involving both the host ad the guest. The project is making news globally and already a network involving major countries of the world has been formed.
What is the role of India in this project? India, being a multi-cultural nation, is an important member of Responsible Tourism. Kerala has been a major contributor in this regard and the project was initiated in Kerala in the year 2008. Kerala selected Kumarakom region as its field of work and today the destination is regarded as a model for Sustainable Tourism.
Kumarakom project in Kerala has promoted local crafts and culture in the global scenario. Efforts have been made to co-ordinate among the natives by inviting the villagers, travel agencies, academicians, farmer groups, NGOs, local businessmen and leaders to join the network of responsible Tourism. Travel and hospitality sector of this project functions in an environment-friendly way.
In a nutshell, the scope of Tourism has been expanded by making it responsible, socially and economically as to help the local people. Four destinations of Kerala state have been functioning on this project. They are Kumarakom, Kovalam, Thekkady and Waynad in Kerala.
Won’t you be interested to explore the destinations mentioned above?!

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