Saturday, December 25, 2010

North India Travel

Traveling is one way of experiencing India well only way perhaps. My recent travel along North Corridor for birding was a delightful experience. The trip starts at New Delhi and goes long like a maze. The birding circuit often covers Corbett Tiger Reserve, Sat Tal, Pangot, Chambal River Sanctuary, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and adjoining places of birding interest. Agra of course Taj & Fateh Pur Sikri & Red Fort + Lunch.   

India has an impressive list of birds and it is a sheer delight to see them. The bird heavens are still in preserved state. But we may loose some until unless we care for our wilderness both in towns and hill resorts. 

As tour escort at service for people from far and wide, I love to see our beloved country through scope of others. The colors and flavors of India touch one and all. The diversity amazes visitors the amazing pot pourri and a mixed basket of throbbing life. The food is delicious! "Why serve us continental food we prefer Indian gastronomic delights?" "Please lot of Masala!" "Tandoori Aha!"

No wonder India is Incredible by all means augmented by our warmth, hospitality and love.  But then India is also a chaos of traffic jams, road blocks, bumps, loud speakers, rude drivers, dirt, filth and loo on the roads.  The sewage, nullahs and roadside reek of thousand tons of caramelized shit! Yeek!  As much as India amazes the disgust on the negative is apparent. Though politely  set aside there are sometimes remarks.

My answers

"A large number of people. You know!"
"Poverty!"
"Illiteracy!"

What else! Just see the swanky New Delhi International Airport ....can't we change our country for much better this way. Can't some of us handle waste better...at number of places the Use Me container lies vacant with rubbish all around. Sometimes it is over filled with no service to dispatch it. One can go on. Yes most of us are doing our bit perhaps doing more and more is for better. 

Anyway I still recollect the colors of rural India some very clean villages and lush green fields. The visitors  appreciate and are intrigued with life so different from modern India. 

"Look there are so many people in bazaars, but every one is working!"
"Look so many people on trains, buses, rickshaws!"..Click, click, click.     
"An Indian Wedding?" "Oh Yes!" Click click click..
"A religious procession?" "Oh Yes!" Click click click
"Children going to school everywhere. Great!" 

The is stunning ...the long stretch of ghostly white Himalayas on way up to Pangot at Naini Tal District.     

Birding in India is thrilling and so is Indian Wildlife. Hence an extension to Kanha National Park in MP. Another experience the chaos and turbulence of crowd on Railway Stations. The confusing movement of trains across many platforms. Our very own Great Indian Railway a transportation wonder that moves India. From the impoverished settlements of Industrial towns the scape leads to beautiful surrounds of rural India and some stunning landscapes. The first AC coach offers lot of comfort not withstanding the toilet.    

The extension benefits the Indian package tour operator but onus lies on me to track the tiger. Nevertheless we see one in spite of bad weather. Another stunning masterpiece of nature the charismatic tiger! In absolute rapture!

"It is India wildlife tour next"! Shout my guests filled up to the brim with the magical appearance of the tiger.  

Incredible India! Yes lets make it better and better!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Indian Railway - Traveling tips

Indian Railway is one the of the most popular mode of transportation in India. It is unavoidable mode of transportation as well. Unavoidable Yes! Thanks to its fantastic reach. You may be an elite traveler used to plane travel and luxury cars but be prepared for train travel if you are going to move extensively in India.     

To few train travel is a frightening spectacle especially if you cannot afford to travel in AC class. The dirt, squabble and chaos of second class travel is by no means palatable especially if you are traveling for a long distance. Anyway here are few this to remember:

Book you ticket in advance. Reservations start forty five day before travel date.

Booking can be done online as well through booking counters on stations. 

Tour & Travel operators also book tickets through booking counter.

Book in AC Class if not on budget travel. Ist, 2nd & 3rd.

Keep tab of your reservation if in waiting. 

Book by Tatkal reservation system if seat availability is not there.

Tatkal reservation is available three day before travel date. 

Do not eat from unregistered eateries and porters. IRCTC catering is safe. 

Carry mineral water, colas and packed fruit juices.

Do not eat food offered by suspicious elements in fact avoid totally. Carry you own food.

Buy fruits with peel.

Keep tab on your luggage.  Best use chain lock.

Keep tab on personal valuables. Keep your ticket safe.

Do not alight at the station en route if necessary do it for short time. Ask a fellow traveler that you trust to keep a tab on your luggage albeit it is no guarantee.  Do not blindly trust anyone. 

Know your rail route before hand. 

Know your train particulars name number and timings. 

Reach station before hand and make sure of the platform it is arriving at.

There is an inquiry counter on every station for information. Do not trust anyone for information. The porters can be of assistance. Check for registration number plate on shoulder.   

Indian Railway travel is safe and enjoyable as it offer you sight of vast cross section of the country. Basic precautions have to be taken like in case of any mode of travel. Since number of passengers is so high it can be a bit chaotic. Travel by AC class if you need more privacy and comfort. 

IRCTC website offers online reservation facility. You can buy I-ticket and E-ticket online. If the ticket is in waiting list then you can check online. Railway reservation status is checked using the 10 digit PNR number on your ticket. You can find reservation status using pnr number online at IRCTC website. The site provides pnr status enquiry tool to find your reservation.

Other means to check pnr status is through mobile phone sms service. IRCTC has made it possible to check reservation status using SMS pnr enquiry number assigned. This is done through mobile messaging utility. You should keeb a tab of your reservation status. If your train berth or seat is confirmed than note down you coach and berth number to avoid last minute finding about.

Find the arrival platform early and then see the coach number mentioned on the plates hanging from the station roof. The platform number is also shown in this manner. Stand with your luggage in less crowded portion of the platform. As the train arrives confirm the train number as well as the coach number mentioned on the coach. Confirm your berth on chart next to the door if  posted. Or seek the TTC help who is normally available few minutes before the arrival of train near the coach.  

For more serious matters relating to any discomfort or service you can seek guidance from the top authority  - The Station Master.      

Happy Journey!


 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

River by the Fort

Allahabad Fort 

The Fort at Sangam once an object of glory and pride stands neglected, but not in complete ruins. The occupants find shelter in the ancient monument - now an object of architectural and historical significance at best. A temple busy with worshipers executing their duty to God, Indian army, pigeons and parrots, bats, insects and more. 

Till this day the Fort at Sangam serves its purpose. A silent sentinel that stands witness to one of the most holy spectacle in the World.  The meeting of the country's holiest rivers takes place at Sangam - Ganga - Yamuna - Sarawati. The religious fair and biggest pilgrimage Kumbh Mela is held after every  4 years, Ardh Kumbh every 6 years,  Purna Kumbh every 12 years and Maha Kumbh Mela after 144 year in India is organized in Allahabad. The fort has a maligned existence that of imposition and conquest a futile exercise in superiority .

The fort is a testimony to barbaric conquest, a triumphant onslaught of a foreign ruler over the souls of a billion devotees.  In spite of periodic dominance of alien culture the essence remained preserved. The fort appears to be intact, nurtured perhaps by the confluence of the holiest.

Ganges

The rivers in India are progenitor of humanity as they sustain life throughout the land. Worshiped as mother, Ganges resides in the heart of billions of devotees. For every devout Hindu, Ganges is mother of worship and an object of atonement - from sins of the past. Ganga Devotion initiated perhaps by the conservation ethos of Vedas, the river has selflessly sustained life and myriad civilizations in its fold throughout its existence. The overload of the burden is evident but the service continues.  

Mythology though secondary has elaborated and justified the spiritual and religious significance of Mother Ganges. The rituals though devoid of rationality for some are  pathway to  religious and spiritual quest for millions. The ritualistic exercise and meditation besides communion with God have a deep meaning - a methodology that adds value and justifies conservation of our environment as whole. Kumbh Mela the spectacle of Gods, heightens veneration - a womb that nourishes billions of souls - Ganges.         

Allahabad - (Prayag)

Allahabad itself, a spectacle of filth on roads and chaotic humanity,  is blessed by the confluence of the holiest rivers. A town of temples and modern architecture, it spirals uncontrollably over its sacred past and invading modernity. No wonder India's holiest destination is most coveted by devout Hindus. A much sought after travel that ironically excels as place of last rites - a final assimilation with earthly elements.    

Thursday, September 9, 2010

MP tours - Destinations

Much publicized as a popular destination for holidays, sightseeing, birding and wildlife. The state of Madhya Pradesh offers much more. The state has gained popularity as tourism destination due to tiger safari parks like Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench tiger reserves.

Top MP Tourism Destinations 

Khajuraho Temples

Eleventh Century AD temples that depict Kamasutra on the outer falls of many temples. The  temples are a fine example of ancient Hindu Architecture and typifies the construction under the Culchuri dynasty of Central India. The exhibits on the outer walls exonerate humans as sexual beings and are more of a treatise  without any malaise.      

Khajuraho is well connected by flights from metros especially New Delhi. The nearest rail head  is at Satna. The destination can also be reached from Bandhavgarh & Jabalpur.  The tourism infrastructure is well developed with hotels ranging from five star to budget class available for accommodation. Nearby places of interest are Panna National Park and Ken Gharial Sanctuary. These places are within driving distance and can be easily approached from Khajuraho. The temple town is popular among inbound tourists and the highlight is the Khajuraho Dance Festival.    

Pachmarhi Hill Resort

One of the finest hill retreats in Madhya Pradesh, India, Pachmarhi is more popular amongst Indian tourists. The retreat is a wildlife sanctuary and a Cantt hence rabid development has not taken place outside the township. The retreat is a magnanimous delight of  forest clad and rugged mountains, deep valleys and  rivers. The sightseeing is at waterfalls, glens and mountain sides. Pachmarhi is picturesque beyond words and abounds in birds and wildlife. There are many ancient caves and temples devoted  to Lord Shiva. Nearest places of interest are the pristine Bori Sanctuary and Satpura National Park.  

Only MP tourism hotels provide adequate accommodation though many private hotels are in the town limit.  The hill resort is approached from Piparia rail head and is about 57 km uphill. Piparia is well connected with Jabalpur rail head with number of trains plying to and fro. From Jabalpur, Piparia is about two and half hours of train ride.   

Kanha National Park

A well known tiger reserve Kanha is a prime tiger habitat famous for tiger safaris. It is a heaven for wildlife watchers and birders. There are more than 22 Central Indian mammals that inhabit the park. The park abounds in birds, butterflies and reptiles. The keystone species are tiger, leopard, wild dog, swamp deer, sloth bear ad the bison.     

The tourism infrastructure is well developed with large number of wildlife resorts and hotels for accommodation. The park safaris are organized by the hoteliers under supervision of the forest department. The safaris are conducted under strict rules and regulation t benefit the conservation efforts.

Kanha can be approached from Jabalpur, Raipur and Pench Tiger Reserve near to Nagpur. Jabalpur offers the best approach to Kanha via Mandla. The driving distance is about 165 km. The city is well connect by Indian Railway network and by flight to New Delhi.    

Bandhavgarh National Park

Famous for its tigers on which many films have been made. Bandhavgarh tigers might be the most filmed tigers in the World. In my opinion Bandhavgarh is one of the most charismatic tiger reserve in MP, India. It is home to more than forty tigers in an area little more than four hundred sq.km. This National Park is unique since it has historical and religious importance.  

Bandhavgarh draws lots of tourists from all over the World to see the tiger in the wild. The density of the tigers is high and so is the visibility because of unique terrain. The park is full of low rising hillock interspersed with marshy grasslands which provide the tigers with ideal hunting grounds. Besides the tiger one can spot the leopard, sloth bear, sambar deer, wild dog, wild boar, barking deer, spotted deer and the ubiquitous langur.

The places of interest are within the park: Bandhavgarh Fort, Sesh Shaiyya or reclining Vishnu, many zoo morphic form of Lord Vishnu carved out of igneous stones and Laxman temple near the fort. One comes across many mad made caves and temples in ruins on wildlife safaris. The preserve is an excellent place for birders as large number of bird species are found here. 

Bandhavgarh is best approached from Jabalpur which is about four hours drive via Katni or Umaria.  Umaria railway station is connected overnight with New Delhi and few trains from Jabalpur. The rail head is about 32 km from the  park. Bandhavgarh is about six hours drive from Khajuraho and about seven hours drive from Kanha.   

Pench Tiger Reserve

Pench in the Seoni Hills as Kipling described it is a tiger heaven. It is where Mowgli the wolf child was born. One can still see the wolf pack from Khwasa to Turia gate with some luck. The park lies ten km inside from Khwasa on Jabalpur Nagpur Road. The keystone species are tiger, leopard, wild dog, bison besides many Central Indian mammals, reptiles and insects make Pench their home.

Pench is famous for tiger safaris and leopards are more frequently seen here. The preserve is good place for birding with many exciting finds to be discovered.

The best approach to Pench National Park is from Nagpur which is one and half hours drive and connected with air service from New Delhi and some other towns. Jabalpur is about 200 km from Pench and a good drive. Pench is also about six hours drive from Kanha.

Marble Rocks Jabalpur

Jabalpur is a go between the top tourism destinations in Madhya Pradesh. Embellished with verdant greenery the city still retains its Old World charm at many places. It is a large town with all modern amenities and accommodations. There is lot of sightseeing to be done at Jabalpur City but most popular is a visit to Marble Rocks a gorge in the Narmada River. It is a famous boat ride amidst dazzling melange of color on smooth rocky mountains of marble. Nearby places of interest are Dhuandhar Falls and Chausath Yogini Temples.      

Tourism in Madhya Pradesh is well organized. The best way to tour is on MP package tours organized by tour companies in the state. Hotels and Taxis can be booked online directly. Most of the hotels in Kanha National Park, Pench and Bandhavgarh have their websites for online booking facilities.   

MP Tourism Hotels are the best stay in Pachmarhi while Khajuraho has wide range of hotels. There many tour operators offering packages for the state of Madhya Pradesh in India.     

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Indian Railway Travel

The biggest railway network is not necessarily the best. But whatever you feel about India trains, it does take you to your destination cheap. Indian rails are the cheapest transportation that anyone can find in the country.

The railway coverage in India is vast and hence offers the best reach any mode of transportation can offer.
The inter connectivity is amazing with more than eleven thousand trains plying all over the country. The system transports more than twenty million passengers and about two million tons of goods.

It is all about where you want to go or how you wish to go? If you are planning a holiday on the super luxury tourism trains than you need to shelve a lot of money. The holiday packages on luxury trains cost a lot.

If you are rich enough to travel by First AC or Second AC your journey would be in absolute privacy and comfort. Well as much as possible! Third AC delivers as well but there is a bit of a rush always. But it is okay since the climate control rarely fails.    

Second Class sleeper travel is hardly comfortable with what seems like whole India trying squeeze into your compartment. The comfort level depends upon the climate outside since there is no air conditioning. The only comfort that sleeper class offers is a berth to sit and sleep upon.

A big relief has been the online ticketing facility in recent years. One need not wait for a long time in sweaty queue for hours and hours. The Irctc website online conducts all the task of booking office. You can book or cancel your ticket in a jiffy, find information about seat availability or distance between stations. All railway information is at your finger tip.

The worst nightmare is availing a reserved berth if your ticket status is on waiting list. Those lazy enough not to book a journey ticket in advance are the one’s who visit the Indian Railway site the most.  They are constantly seeking pnr status online in order to find the position of their ticket on IRCTC site.

One can also seek status using sms or mobile messaging service. The sms pnr status check is quick and easy. Just type you pnr number on the ticket and send to 139 or whatever the number is. In few seconds you will get the status of your ticket as message.  

The online reservation offers much more information in a short time than a land based railway office does. Hence switch on your computer every time you wish to make a rail journey.  

Friday, August 27, 2010

MP: Monuments & History

Madhya Pradesh the center of India is a state with large area under forest cover. It is hence referred as a tiger state with highest tiger population in India. But not withstanding forests it is an ancient hub of civilization with interesting and colorful history. Substantial revenue is generated from tourism industry.

The state faced conquests and wars from within and from brute overpowering forces of Mughals and  ruling British. The state was under tribal domination for centuries but migrant war lords and ruling class from other states changed history. The tribal domination is very well mirrored in rule of the Raj Gonds like Rani Durgawati in Mandla & Jabalpur. 

During the Mughal conquest lot of upheaval took place with constant struggle against their forces. There was lot of plunder and loot during that period. Ancient Hindu architecture - temples, forts palaces where ruthlessly plundered and destroyed partially or wholly. The domination continued in form of chieftains who ruled on behalf of the Mughal Sultanate.  From Mughals the Marathas took over followed by the Raj and eventually freedom. 

The migrating Baghels from Gujarat settled in parts of Madhya Pradesh and carved out their own kingdoms. There were many dynasties like Maurya, Satvahanas, Saka, Culchuri, Baghel, Chandels and many more. The ancient or contemporary dynasties struggled through internecine wars to take their piece of cake. By the time the country got independent the state was divided in number of kingdoms, small and big, of rulers of various denomination,clans, descendants, chieftain who became rulers and what not. Every human endeavor left its tell tale mark.     

The union of Indian ended years of rule of pleasure seeking bigots, idolaters and many just rulers. But with independence democracy came to rule and the past slipped into annals of history - scarred and weather beaten.   

The historical ruins lie more as plundered and neglected than in a state of preservation. Nevertheless re -instituted and preserved monuments, places of worship, forts and palaces stand erect in modern Madhya Pradesh. These are some of the most interesting sightseeing elements in the state that withstood a hundred thousand tempest to make MP the most important tourism destination. They are a living testimony to a past ravaged by feudal lords and kings and queens of yesteryear. They exhibit on the other side colorful culture,  ancient architecture and arts & crafts of a burgeoning civilization.  

In the historical eras the state became a pot pourii of cultures which is more evident in its urban hubs. The rural MP is more of tribal communities inter mixed with migrants.  

The most important monuments of the state are:  

Gwalior:
Fort & Palaces
Temples
Chhatris

Indore
Rajwada Palace - Holkars
Temples

Bhopal
Shaukat Mahal
Mosques & Temples

Ujjain
Mahakaleshwar Temple - Jyotir Linga
Kalideh Palace
Vedhashala Observatory

Jabalpur
Madan Mahal - Gonds
Temples
Gwarighat Temples
Shankar Shah Temple
Gurudwara Gwarighat Saheb
Chausath Yogini - Nr. Marbel Rocks
Rani Durgawati Museum - Ancient artifacts. 

Shivpuri
Madhav Vilas Palace
George Castle - Madhav National Park confines
Chand Patha lake monuments 
Marble cenotaphs

Chanderi 
Kirti Durga Fort 
Koshak Mahal
Deogarh Fort
Jama Masjid
Badal Mahal

Mandu
Jahaz Mahal
Hindola Mahal
Hosang Shah Tomb
Ashrafi Mahal

Chitrakoot
Ram Ghat 
Kadam Giri
Sati Anushya 
Janki Dhara
Hanuman Koop

Sanchi 
Supas - Buddhist 
Nilkantheshwar Temple

Orchha
Raj Mandir 
Jehangir Mahal 
Chaturbhuj Temple
Sawan Bhado Mahal 
Chhatris 
Lakshmi Temple

Khajuraho Temples

Other places of historical interest are Bandhavgarh, Pachmari, Maihar, Rewa, Maheshwar, Omkareshwar Bhojpur and Panna. There are lot of ancient temples venerated by locals hidden from the tourist eye. While traveling through the state it is worth inquiring about local tourism places.     


There are many more monumental jewels in Madhya Pradesh in deep recess of the state. The state is mostly unexplored and scattered palaces, temples and forts go unheard. There is much more to the state than wildlife safaris and birding. The best means of travel is on  package tours in MP by tour companies in the state. Tourism in the state is picking up for historical and spiritual travel. The infrastructure is sound with safe roads, hotels and lodges for accommodation and rail and road transportation. Flights operate in major towns mostly connected to Delhi, Nagpur and Mumbai.    

There are many tour operators in Madhya Pradesh for affordable package travel. The best season is winters as summers are hot. Monsoon travel is not possible due to inundating rains. Tourism in the state peaks during X'mas and Diwali holidays.   

The language spoken is Hindi but English is quiet popular. There are many travel services and tourism information guides that disseminate information about travel and places of interest.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Indian Railways - The PNR Saga

Unlike many developed countries, Indian Railway is the primary source of  travel and transportation in India. This is the preferred mode of traveling by the less privileged, the lower, middle as well as the upper class in India. (Pun unintentional!)   

Due to perpetual rush, rail reservation is the primary focus of any Indian planning to travel long distance. The obsession with train ticket and securing one's berth is an exasperating phenomena.

Though not surprising!

Long distance rail journey could be terribly uncomfortable for those traveling without a reserved seat. You  feel like an out caste and an intruder - unwanted and guilty of trespass. Does not matter if you are among the  privileged  in your town.  But things do not end here. Even short distance passengers or those who have traversed more than half the distance, chase the ticket collector (TT) in a futile effort to get a secured berth. This is to boost their bruised ego or get a last minute nap.

I have been into all this and so have you. He!He!

Agla ishtation aye ga tab dekhien gein? Seat Khali hone do! Arre Sahab!

With thousands of tickets on wait lists, reservations become the first priority with all sorts of connection seeking and what not. Getting an RAC berth is like a windfall.

Kya Mila?
Kya Hua?
Hai koi Jugad?
Quota Mein?
Tatkal?
TT se Milo ?
Kuch le lo yaar?
Kya peeche peeche ghoom rahe ho! Kahan na berth khali hogi tab dekhien gien! 

Well this may seem funny but it does not whence you do not have proper reservation on Indian train. The ticket reservation counter may show house full on the very first day of the opening of ticket booking. The tickets have been booked by early birds or online reservations have taken their toll. 

PNR stands for Public Name Record. It is designated by a number printed on the top left of the rail ticket. If you have bought a train ticket your particulars are noted down . This makes you eligible to  travel from one notified station to another  in general bogey, 2nd class, 3AC, 2AC and first AC if you pocket allows. 

It is a standard practice for would be passengers to buy the Indian Railway ticket on waiting list. Next  go online for Pnr status check almost everyday whence the Irctc website is refreshed. Finding Pnr status is like seeking exam results online. Same anxiety, same thrill and if ticket succeeds on the chart Hurray!Pass ho gayein!

Ho Gaya!Yaar!


The status becomes talk of the town - family, cousins, distant relatives, friends, neighbors and whoever who does not mind his own business.  

India is becoming live on the  Internet. Thanks to a search tool that helps check your reservation status using Pnr. In spite of server back log the tool popularity is growing in the same manner as that of blog sites. Rush or no rush the amazing Indian Railway works as it does......all the time!

Yatri Krupaya Dhyan Dein! Appki yatra safal ho!..........Chai Wala!         
    

Saturday, July 24, 2010

MP Tourism - On Spiritual Quest

Though more popular for tiger safaris, Madhya Pradesh  is an emerging center for religious tourism in Central India. Diverse religious facets have left their impact on the state. Ancient Hindu Temples, Mosques, Jain Derasar, Churches, Buddhist Stupas, sacred rivers and ashrams are spread all over the state. The monuments date way back into history while some are of recent origin.

The centers of  pilgrimage are visited not only by the pious but the modern traveler as well.  Peripatetic travelers from foreign lands in search of spirituality and exploration visit Central India in large number.       

A spiritual journey in MP is influenced by one's inclination and purpose. Some of the prime destinations are:

Jabalpur: The cosmopolitan city lies in the center of India. Virgin River Narmada originates at Amarkantak Hills and traverse a long distance to reach city. The stepped embankments of Gwarighat and Lametaghat are the hubs of Hindu rites and rituals and abode of many temples and ashrams of the mystics and saints. A holy dip in the Narmada cleanses all sins away, it is one of the five holiest rivers in India. Must visit destinations are Dhuandhar Falls and Marble Rocks. 

Major places of worship at Jabalpur:

Tripuri Sundari                    
Bajnamath
Radhakrishana Temple  
Gopalpur Temple
Pisan Hari Ki Madhyia Jain Temple
Badshah Halwai Mandir
Gauri Shankar Mandir
Church of England
Gurdwara Gwarighat Saheb
Bare Ganeshji Mandir
Mala Devi Mandir
Roopnath Temple

Well connected by rail and road Jabalpur is linked by Air with New Delhi!

Ujjain: About fifty km from Indore, the town lies on the banks of Shipra River. It is in this river the drops of precious nectar fell whence Gods and Daemons scramble for the vessel. The nectar was supposed to accord immortality on consumption. Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years to commemorate the battle for the nectar (amrit).

On the banks of Shipra lies the abode of the Lord Shiva Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga - one of the 12 in India. Hindu pilgrims visit the Shiva Temple on 13th night of the new moon during the month of Maagh. Bade Ganeshji Ka Mandir is a temple devoted to Lord Ganesha situated in Ujjain. 

Omkareshwar: Situated on the banks of River Narmada is a Hindu Temple devoted to Lord Shiva. The temple is situated on island called Mandata or Shivpuri in Narmada River. Being one of the 12 Jyotirlinga of Shiva it is an important pace of worship in Madhya Pradesh in India. There are two important temples dedicated to the Lord here.

Maheshwar: The name refers to Lord Shiva, the town is situated on Narmada Banks in Kharogne District of MP. The place is also called Maheshwari. It is famous spiritual destination as well center for Maheshwari Sari  made of cotton and silk. Maha Shivratri and many Hindu festivals are celebrated with aplomb at Maheswar along with gathering of many pilgrims. Mahamritujaya Yatra is organized every in the town  a day preceding Makar Shankranti for the welfare of the people.       

Chanderi: is a small town in Ashok Nagar District of MP. Many Jain and Hindu temples make it a significant religious town. Chanderi is more popularly for its weaving industry making hand woven sarees named Chanderi Saris after the town. Nearby places of religious significance belonging to Jain denomination are Gurilagiri Bhiyadant Bhamon, Khandargiri, Aamanachar, Bithala and Thuvanji.        

Chitrakoot
: is town of religious and historical importance. Tourists on spiritual and religious quest arrive here
during Ram Navmi, Amavasya, Som Vati Amavasya, Diwali, Sharad Poornima and Makarshankrati.

Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman stayed here for more than eleven years during their exile. Bharat Milap took place at Chitrakut whence Bharat came to meet Ram and requested him to return to Ayodhaya. Tulsidas, Rahim and many other Seers and Saints stayed here to meditate. The holy place is situated in Satna district and is 195 km from Khajuraho Temples. There are many ashrams and religious spots that one can visit with the help of a guide.

Sanchi: Famous destination for Buddhist Stupa containing relics of Lord Buddha lies in Raisen District of MP. Temples of Sanchi display Buddha's journey to salvation. Built during Emperor Ashoka's rule the stupas went through torturous periods of vandalism and loot. Three stupas and many temples remain at the site in Sanchi. Few km from Sanchi is Satdhara Stupa which contains relics in a glass container. Many Buddhist monks stay here and pursue religious studies.

The above places are most traveled destinations in quest for spiritual awakening. The pious on religious journeys in MP travel in groups in packages organized by tour operators. Such travel is  safer, affordable and comfortable.

All major towns like Gwalior, Bhopal, Indore have sacred Hindu shrines worth visiting. Smaller places like Pachmarhi, Hoshangabad, Orchha, Mandu, Shivpuri and many more have religious importance as well. They are more popular as holiday destinations.  


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tourism Madhya Pradesh - Wild Heritage

Madhya Pradesh or Central India is one of the finest tourism destination in India. Ensconced in the center of the country and land locked the large state has impressive forest cover. Known as tiger state of India, the state has much more to offer than tiger safaris. 

Green, beautiful and serene this is how the state appears to the tourists thanks to the forests that cover a large part of the state.  There has been a rapid development in road infrastructure and accommodation making tourism more viable. The state boasts of finest National Parks, wildlife sanctuaries, hill retreats, pilgrimage centers and monuments temples, forts and places. 

The state is rich in ancient history and tell tale monuments with an architecture that bedazzles the visitor. The country's most sacred river Narmada originates in MP and Ujjain, Maheshwar and Jabalpur are most visited  pilgrimage centers. Earlier the state had a forest driven economy and relied heavily on minor forest produce for income. MP is now well industrialized with main commercial hub being Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur.    

Tourist Safari Destinations

Pachmarhi Hill Retreat: The rugged hilly terrain is in stark contrasts to the plain below. Undisturbed, unscathed and inviolate it is the post pristine eco belt in India. Rabid urbanization and expanding humanity has not affected the retreat. Pachmarhi is among few hill stations that have not been  taken over by marauding colonizers. This is where Capt James Forsyth set foot and went on pen down his experiences in his book on Highlands of Central India.        

Dazzling waterfalls, esoteric springs, serene pools; densely forested hills and valleys, ancient caves, and temples are enchanting ingredients of this picturesque hill retreat. Pachmarhi is a sanctuary to rare wildlife and amazing birds.

Satpura Tiger Reserve: On climb up the Matkuli Ghat resides Satpura Tiger Reserve a large National Parks home to the Royal Bengal Tiger and Central Indian mammals. Less seen, less known Satpura National Park along with Pachmarhi and Bori sanctuary holds lot of surprises. The wildlife and birds have yet to be properly check listed in this inaccessible and unexplored paradise.       

Kanha Tiger Reserve: Well known and popular tiger heaven the National Park is home to rare swamp deer adopted for hard ground survival. Best place to see the tiger in the wild there resides large number of deer, carnivores and herbivores. The park is populated by impressive number of bird species and reptiles. 

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: Picturesque and enchanting this tiger haven surpasses all in terms of tiger sightings in the wilderness. The undulating terrain is dotted with a number of hillocks that accord Bandhavgarh with characteristic grace and charm. On park safari history unfolds ancient civilizations that found relief in the deep confines of Vindhya Hills. Tiger rules over the forests, hills and valleys, marshy grasslands and riverside habitats. The majestic Bandhavgarh Fort though in ruins glorifies the little paradise. Shesh Shaiyya is fairy tale abode of Lord Vishnu. The scattered remains, temples, caves, stables and zoomorphic idols of Lord Vishnu enthrall tourists on wild safaris. 

Pench Tiger Reserve: Kipling Country land of the tiger and Mowgli the wolf child. The enchanting characters  in this famous intrigue are right in their homes at Pench. Sher Khan, Baloo, Kaa, Bagheera, Colonel Haathi and the wolf pack now are targeted sightings for tourists on wildlife safaris in the preserve. Pench offers exciting sightings of Indian wolf, leopard, wild dog, bison and sloth bear besides the Bengal Tigers. Bird Life at Pench is worth a trip.

Panna National Park

About forty five km from Khajuraho Temples the park boasts of amazing Central Indian wildlife and fresh water crocodiles at Ken River Sanctuary nearby. It was once a good place to see tigers but the tigers have been poached to extinction. Tiger relocation program has been inducted and few tigers relocated from other reserves. Nevertheless Panna is good place for wildlife watching and birding in MP.      

Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary: The lesser known preserve differs with Kanha and Bandhavgarh in terms of habitat. Less seen animals of Central India are prominent in picture here. Indian wolf, chinkara, blue bull and common animals like sambar, spotted deer, wild boars and Hanuman Langurs can be seen in the sanctuary. Noradehi is the most promising  WLS in India for birding. Rare bird like Grey creeper make this sanctuary its home. Noradehi  offer both forest and wetland bird sightings. Find more information on Birding tour at Nauradehi  WLS.              

MP has large number of protected areas which are less visited and less known. Some of them are Sanjay National Park, Rani Durgavati, Sardarpur, Sailana, Ralamandal, Orchha, Gangau, Bagdara, Rata Pani, Panpatha, Karera, Phen, Ghatigaon, Gandhisagar, Karera, Ken Ghariyal, Kheoni, Narsinghgarh, Chambal, Kuno Palpur and Son Ghariyal.

The state can best be visited on MP tourism packages that are organized by many tour operators. Most of the packages cover popular wildlife tourism destinations besides sightseeing. Tour packages are also available for pilgrimages and monuments of Central India.    

Best season for touring Madhya Pradesh is winters. But journeys can be made during summers by those who can bear the heat. The month of November, December and January can be extremely cold.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kerala: Cool and hospitable

In confines of true tropical greenery resides a state  -  Kerala one of the most popular holiday destination in India. The state possess proudly, lush greenery of dense tropical forests, azure blue of large stretch of backwater network and refreshing serene beaches on its impressive coast line. In addition holiday makers experience the warmth of Malayali hospitality, colorful culture, bizarre rites and  rituals. Come to taste the  gastronomic delights of Malayali chefs who specialize in mouth watering coastal cuisine. 

For an enthusiastic traveler ready to divulge in exotic adventurous journeys, Kerala is a unique place on Earth. Kerala enthralls the visitor, be it a cruise on backwaters, quiet walk on the beach or exciting heart throbbing safari in Periyar Tiger Reserve. 

The state has much more to offer. On tour visit the palaces, forts, temples and churches.  Marvel at South Indian architecture, influenced at places by foreigners who set foot as trader of spices.  Arabs, British, French, Portuguese all arrived lured by the tongue tingling exotic spices and left an indelible colorful marks.

Kerala excels in fine art be it Kathakali theatrical performance, vocal recitals, Carnatic instrumental or  classical film songs.  Remarkable the ritual arts of temples in praise of the holy deities and magnificent murals  are not to be missed. 

Partake in colorful fairs and festivities to experience in depth the cultural intrigue of the state. Interact with diverse array of humanity - simple, warm and enthusiastic hosts. Kerala is a never ending journey of delight. 

Best way to travel in Kerala is on tour operator affordable package tours. Travel bookings, accommodation and transport is all taken care of by the organizers. Customized tour package will offer you a choice of prime destinations. 

 The state is well connected by rail network and road transportation. Number of flights ply between metros and many other towns. English is quite popular all weather journey is exciting especially if you enjoy the monsoon rains.

More About Kerala

Monday, May 17, 2010

Boutique Resorts India

With tremendous growth in the country's economy there has come about a change in travel concept and how we celebrate. India is on upward swing with the fastest growing middle class and the jet set. The travel concepts are fast changing and evolving as per the current scenario.    

Luxury resorts are catching up with five star tourism. In India luxury resorts or boutique resorts as some call it are fully equipped properties. They are well equipped with paraphernalia of modern life. Boutique, spa, beauty saloon, ayurvedic massage, professional hair saloon all upscale amenities are essential elements of boutique resorts.     

The resorts provide spa  facilities for health, rejuvenation and a relaxing experience. They are integral part of business and family travel. Business travelers adapted to corporate lifestyle prefer an escape to distant accommodations that offer both business communication, organize conference and seminars etc. This is an ideal way of conducting business in salubrious climes for the industry big wigs. Top directors, Ceo and high er echelons of company management find the luxury resorts ideal. They prefer  deluxe resorts to urban hotels for corporate engagements and braking into big deal and contracts. 

The picturesque setting, five star pomp and glitter, luxurious amenities, entertainment, fine dining all sum up well for a family holiday. Though not many can spend a holiday in such expensive mode nevertheless the number is rising in India. The upscale resorts are well known for their extravagance and lavish consumption.  Unlike eco-resorts in wilderness the luxury resorts are extension of urban hotel industry.        

The finest luxury resorts in India are are  akin to five star hotels. The difference is basically location, with resorts being set up in distant serene and picturesque settings. Apart from luxurious accommodation and spa the resort fit the concept of themed weddings. Caterings and event planning are inherent functionality of many resorts in India. 

The ambiance and grand architecture, state of art interior and fairy tale scenario are ideal for theme weddings.  Such weddings are also known as destination weddings in India and all over. The rich and jet set prefer theme wedding ceremonies as their preferred way organizing a marriage.        

The resorts contribute to the country's economy by increasing the tourism potential. They are instrumental in attracting inbound tourists who wish to enjoy and explore Indian diversity without sacrificing luxury.   

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tourism in Gujarat

Unlike other tourist destinations like Kerala, Rajasthan Eastern and Northern India and Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat is not very popular. The major places of attraction are Gir National Park famous for Lion Safaris, Dwarka, Girnar near Junagadh, Somnath Temple and Rann of Kutch.

The people of Gujarat are travel lovers. They travel to many destinations in India during holidays for wildlife safaris and sightseeing.

The state has many other lesser known places of interest forts, palaces, beach resorts and many wildlife and bird sanctuaries. Saputara is Gujarat's only hill station and sits on the last leg of Western Ghats. There are many beach resorts in the state most popular amongst them are Chorwad, Mandvi, Beyt Dwarka, Nargol and Dandi beaches in Surat and many more.

While Dwarka, Girnar and Somnath in Veraval are places of pilgrimage, Gir and Rann of Kutch are ecotourism destinations the latter for birding. Union territories Daman, Diu are quite popular for tourism.  In the state spiritual tours to pilgrimage centers are very popular. There are many temples and derasar in the state belonging to Jains and Hindus that are very popular religious destinations.  

Gujarat has unique wildlife: Asiatic Lion at Gir, Black Buck, Caracal, Indian Gazelle, Wild Ass, Leopard, Desert Foxes, Nilgai, Indian Wolf and many small mammals.   

At Narayan Sarovar all three endangered bustards are found along  Black Partridge. One can sight Hubara Bustard, Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican. Little Rann of Kutch is breeding grounds for greater and lesser Flamingos. One can see Flamingos, Pelican and  other  wetland birds at Nal Sarovar and Thol. Velavadar is home to Black Bucks while Indian wild ass lives in Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary.


Nal Sarovar, Thol and Little Rann of Kutch are finest birding destinations.  This region is being promoted for bird watching in Gujarat state in Western India. Many species of birds some of which are endemic are found in the state. 
There are many historical monuments scattered all across the state, besides parks and gardens. For recreation in Gujarat  there are many luxury spa resorts in natural heavens. These are situated near major towns like Ahmedabad. The resorts and spas are popular for holiday accommodation, business travel and conferences, weddings and spa facilities. Some of the resorts are super luxurious with five star amenities. 

The major towns are Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot. The state has finest roads and  well laid tourism infrastructure - hotels, resorts, airports, rail heads and road transport. The government is taking keen interest in developing tourism in the state.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Nainital Bird Heaven

From Kathgudam onwards the height appears striking. One can see steep rising hills with  tortuous winding road network. The climb up is steep and can be risky as the barriers on the side are missing at places. The driver of our bus drove with confidence and practiced fluency.  I held myself taught, not used to such heights and the plunging deep valleys. 

The place disappoints, we were going to Sat Tal which is some 14 km from Nainital. On my first visit I realized that Nainital was no more a tourist heaven it is more of a builders' paradise. Most of the hills have human dwellings - even flat systems. The sight is disappointing since few green patches remain. 

All the way through this part of Uttaranchal, I could see devastating effect of urbanization - unplanned and rampant. This was not what Jim Corbett had described in his books on man eating tigers and leopards. The urbanization certainly means end of the road for natural environment here. The lack of right policy regarding development in tourism zones  is apparent in this country.    

Sat Tal in Naini Tal district is a birders paradise still. The worst are the garbage  dumps - conspicuous by their absence. Whole surroundings are littered by plastic bags  - the quantity is astonishing. 

Kainchi Dham were we go for birding exhibits a rabid example of this, the rivulet is choked with plastic bags, litter and no one bothers. The tree line of the banks is receding and settlements are replacing them. The same devastation is apparent at Sat Tal township which is bustling with hotels, restaurants, colonization and private villas and what not. Thankfully Pachmarhi in MP has been saved from this scourge being a cantonment and a wildlife sanctuary that begins immediately.  

Naini Tal township is literary a Bhendi bazaar of milieu of tourists creating chaos. During my birding tours we have avoided this township which reeks of stuffed houses, choked bazaars and settlements littered with garbage on roofs and everywhere. Once a nature's paradise no more now.    

Pangot at greater height is untouched by ravages of uncontrolled tourism. But the forest denudation at places is of concern. I have seen hillsides occupied by settlements that are completely devoid of vegetation. Pangot offers mesmerizing view of Himalayan Ranges and is home to unique species of animals and birds. 

Corbett Tiger Reserve retains much of its glory in the core areas and the surroundings. But expanding civilization and urbanity sounds a death knell for this beautiful tiger heaven. The reserve is home to large number of bird species and fall in popular birding circuit in India.           

Many tour operators conduct bird watching tours  in Northern India. On a bird watching trip one can checklist a very large number of avian species.  But forest denudation is slowly destroying the habitats of birds in our country.
 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Destination Kerala: Backwaters

Lying parallel to the Malabar Coast in Kerala is an interconnection of salty lagoons, canals, rivulets and lakes. This is what constitutes Kerala’s back water the famous tourist destination.  The canals are man made as well as natural.

The back waters are inundated by thirty eight rivers and run half the length of the state.   The formation of backwaters is due to low lying islands that act as barrier across the mouth of rivers flowing down from the Western Ghats.  

Most of the towns and the cities of Kerala are located amidst the backwaters. These towns act as starting or ending point for backwater cruise. Some cruise lengths exceed over 200 km. 

The ecosystem is unique due to merger of fresh water and saline water of Arabian Sea. At places there are patches of cool fresh water where saline water is prevented from flowing in.  Backwaters are hence habitat for unique and some endemic aquatic species, large number of water birds are dependent upon this system. The rows of coconut palms, verdant leafy bushes on the banks of backwater provide greenish hue to the landscape.

The overall composition of backwaters accords serenity and calm.  The romance of an enchanted boat ride along side picturesque landscape is the highlight feature of backwaters.   The Kettuvallams as house boats are known in the state are a major tourist attraction. The Kettuvallams are grain ferrying barges which have been converted into house boat accommodations.  The house boats offer luxurious amenities and modern facilities. They are well equipped with furnished sleeping rooms and modern toilets. The dining area and sit out is usually on the deck.

Except during heavy rains the season for house boat cruise is practically year around.   The house boat tours can be booked through tour operators in India. There are various tourism packages available to enjoy a holiday on boat at these stretches of serenity.

The state offers much more than backwater cruise on the waterways. Kerala it is home to fantastic wild animals and birds. There are large numbers of National Parks and tiger reserves in the state for wildlife watching. Sightseeing on tours is exciting. Ancient monuments, Hindu Temples embellished with bewildering designs and array of colors, forts and palaces enthrall the visitors. The architecture of the state has a unique style with admixture of foreign impression at places.      

The diversity of life, exotic culture, Malayali cuisine and warm hospitality makes Kerala the most visited state in India. It is God’s Own Country so pack your bags and fly.        

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Somnath Temple

Somnath - Veraval - Saurashtra - Gujarat 

The sea in the background adds to the charismatic grace and grandeur of the towering structure. No wonder since centuries the temple has been a cynosure of millions of eyes. The 9th century temple is Lord Shiva's domain and that what matters. The treasure troves Gold and Diamonds have now faded as myth. 

The Jyotirling at  Somanth is amongst the twelve most sacred lingas of Lord Shiva. Somanth has been plundered six times by intolerant  marauders and plunderers It was the strong resilience of the people and Hindu rulers that the structure was rebuilt again and again. 

Somanth literary means protector of the moon since Lord Shiva delivered the moon from a curse. The pious pray here on auspicious day on pilgrimage. The original temple destroyed by the iconoclastic  barbarians stands as adjacent ruins. The original Shivling has said to appear in a King's dream which was than unearthed and a temple stand over the underground idol.  

The architecture reflects the skills of Sompuras Gujarat's wonder masons. The temple was built in Chalukya Hindu Temple style after India's independence. The temple is of great significance for religious tours in India to the Hindus.

Not only the temple architecture, the ambiance is stunning as well which I discovered on my visit to the Lord Almighty's abode couple of years back. The deliverance if four fold and the spirituality awakens on the way to doors of Lord Shiva's abode here. 

Somanth temple is a must visit pilgrimage center at Veraval for all religious Hindus.   

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Jabalpur Sigtseeing

Jabalpur

Situated in center of India in Madhya Pradesh, Jabalpur is a scenic town ideal for sightseeing and picnics. The city sits in a cradle of forested mountains. The forested hill slopes, large reservoirs, water bodies and rivers make the place highly enchanting.

The places of interest are:

Dumna Nature Reserve at Khandari Lake : A wildlife safari, birding and and tourism spot. DNS is good place for picnic, birding and wildlife watching. One can see spotted deer, small game and leopard with luck. Excellent place for water birds. In winter number of migratory ducks arrive in large numbers. 

Pariyat Lake: This scenic lake with pristine forests and mountains on the bank. One can see the fresh water crocodile with luck. Good place bird watching and picnic. 

Bargi Dam Resort: Good for water sport, short cruise and boating. MP Tourism hotels & restaurants manage the place most frequented by the visitors to Jabalpur.   

Madan Mahal Fortress: Gond Fort built in 11th Century AD by Madan Shah. He was  Son of Queen Durgavati who ruled over Jabalpur and Mandla districts. 

Marble Rocks: A gorge in River Narmada for boating amidst marble rocks with amazing color patterns on them.  It is also known as Bheraghat. 

Dhuandhar Falls: Narmada descends down from here as a sparkling forceful gush of water into the Gorge knwn as Marble Rocks.

Chausath Yogini Temple Complex: In the center is Lord Shiva Temple surrounded by idols of 64 Yoginis of Goddess Durga.The complex was built by the Culchuri dynasty. Most of the idols were plundered by Mughal invaders.

Rani Durgavati Wildlife Sanctuary: Forty km from Jabalpur this small sanctuary is a good place to spend holiday’s wildlife watching and birding.

Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary: The forests are a habitat to tiger, leopard, marsh crocodiles, common otters and Indian Wolf. Chinkara deer and Nilgai are common sight and so are langur, wild boar and rhesus macaque. 

Rani Durgawati Muesum
: Displays ancient idols, carvings and other artifacts of Gond and Kulchuri dynasties..  

Gwarighat on Narmada: Gwarighat is a stepped embankment on the banks of River Narmada. It is the hub of Hindu rituals and rites. One pilgrimage one can visit Hindu temples, Saints & enlightened Yogis and Gurudwara Gwarighat Sahib. Guru Nanak Dev visited river Narmada at Gwarighat.

Jabalpur is a transit point for tiger reserves - Satpura, Kanha, Pench and Bandhavgarh National Park  in Vindhyas.  Pachmarhi hill station is few hours of journey from Jabalpur.   

Jabalpur has many luxury hotels for stay in the city. Best way of enjoying here is on a spiritual tour package on river Narmada. Similar way is to go sightseeing on package tours where the tour operator makes all the arrangements.  

The city  is well connected city by road and rail. Flight service operates between Jabalpur and New Delhi. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jabalpur Accommodation

Jabalpur is a large town situated in the center of India in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is a cosmopolitan town with a population of approximately two million people.  The city is a commercial hub of Mahakaushal Region.The town is also known as the cultural capital of Central India.

Due to burgeoning commercial activity and tourism there is a constant demand for hotel room accommodation in the city. Jabalpur has large number of hotels that cater to all segments. There are many guest houses as well.   Jabalpur boasts of three star hotels but none of five star category so far. The hotels are spread all over the town especially in Napier town between the Railway station and the Bus stand. There are no hotels near the Jabalpur Airport since it is almost twenty km from the main town.

Jabalpur is the center point for tourism and tiger safari at Kanha National Park near Mandla and Bandhavgarh and Pench National Park. Other interesting places that the town offers access to are Amarkantak hill resort, Pachmarhi hill station and Naurdehi Wildlife Sanctuary. 
The Luxury accommodation also offers unique package tour of Jabalpur City.  Jabalpur is a picturesque town with cool weather. It has the greenest surroundings placed as it is in the cauldron created by forested hill ranges all around. Jabalpur has many places of interest to visit especially Marble Rocks or Bheraghat and Dhuandhar Falls.      

The modern hotels in Jabalpur city are well maintained and luxurious. The luxury accommodation has been initiated in Jabalpur by THE PENTHOUSE. As a non traditional lodging concept The Penthouse offers luxury and privacy combined - far removed from traditional hotel stay. It is situated atop Ideal Hills on Narmada Road in serene and picturesque settings. It is well furnished and fully equipped preferred by those who wish to avoid the hustle bustle of town accommodations and stay in absolute privacy. The home stay is on the upper tariff range but worth it. The food is excellent with dining for large groups and roof  top dinners are possible.  

Jabalpur is well connected by road and rail with major towns and cities. Jabalpur is connected with New Delhi by (Air Indian & Kingfisher) and Kingfisher may begin flight to Mumbai as well.

Kerala tourism places

Kerala tourism places

Sikkim State in India

Sikkim State in India