Monday, 15 October 2018

Ooty Tourist Places | Top 5 Tourist Places in Ooty

Although Ooty has so many places to visit and let you dip into the beauty of nature, there are definitely a way to sort those down for a busy traveler. We're talking about people who would not get more than a couple of days, probably the weekends, to steam off. This blog post is for you.

  So basically we'll keep it short and sweet. We are going to give you top 5 tourist destinations in Ooty that you just cannot miss. Here we go.

  To start with, you must not miss any of the tea factory tours in the Ooty and Coonoor regions. There is no particular one. Any would do. But the tea factory tours consist of tea plantation view, tour of how tea is made and also a shop from where you can get fantastic Nilgiri Tea. 

Tea factory inside
  The next place in your list should be Emerald lake and Avalanche Lake which is pretty close to Ooty. This place is awesome and breath taking. You can get some of your life long poster shots from these locations. 

Emerald Lake

Avalanche lake

  Although a very common place, but Ooty lake should not be missed if you are having one or more little ones with you. Young crowd just love Ooty lake because of boating, different rides, chaat stalls and many more. One quick reminder. Don't try to buy seeds or bulbs of plants from the nearby shops. Most of the time, those are fake. 

Ooty lake

Ooty lake

  To enjoy Ooty nightlife and to bring back home some warm clothing at really attractive price, you must visit the Ooty Mall Road. Ooty mall road is more like a metropolitan cramped into a one square kilometer of area. Restaurants to cafes to cloth shops, its all here. 

Mall road at Ooty

Ooty Mall road
  The final awe aspiring experience in the list must be the Nilgiri Express. This is a UNESCO world heritage rail road and the ride from Ooty to Coonoor is just straight from movies. Book premium class tickets before hand to avoid the crowded general compartments.

Nilgiri Express - Coonoor Station
  You can always check our blogs here and here for more details.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Tourist Places in South India | Kerala Only

Southern part of India is filled with wonders and heritage. The Nilgiris to Pondicherry, the whole of south India is full of mystics and majestic wonders. In this series of best places to visit in South India, we will progressively cover the places that you must visit once you are here. We will do this state by state. So let's start with the God's Own Country, Kerala.

  Whenever the talk is on the air about tourist places in south India, Kerala perhaps appears first most of the time with the exception of Tamilnadu at times. This is not a co-incidence. The total footfall in Keral during the year 2018 was alone 150 lakh approximately. There is hardly any competitor in this field that comes close to Kerala. However, it's easy to get misguided and miss certain places and experiences in Keral that can become a life's asset. Here's we will list down 5 such places.

  To start with, you must visit Alleppey or Allappuzha, which is sometimes referred to as Venice of south India. It's a wonderful connection of backwater canals through the villages of Kerala. You can not only enjoy natural air condition but also witness daily life of native people here. Stopping by to get fresh coconut water is a must do here. You can checkout our detailed blog post on Alleppey for more details. 

In a Sikara
  The next must visit place is Periyar. Periyar is not on tourists top 5 list most of the time and that is a big miss. It's a jaw dropping beauty in the heart of Kerala. The lake, the forest and the mist. It's just amazing. Do book a hotel close to the entrance of the Periyar lake because it's a rush for tickets at the wee hours of the day. You can get more details here on our blog post on Periyar.

During morning ride
  Kochi city, i.e., old Kochi should also be in your must visit list. Chinese fishing nets in Fort Kochi to Jewish Synagogue, Kochi has so much to offer. Ernakulam, the new city also has a few cruse trips. Don't miss the sunset trip. More details in our detailed blog here

Chinese Fishing Net


  Kovalam beach which is close to capital city Trivandrum, must be visited because this crescent shaped beach can give you some amazing photographs. The sea fish stalls next to the beach are fresh as sea water. Trivandrum city has many city attractions ranging from the temple with Gold more than Fort Knox to the Casual Zoo. You can find more details here

Kovalam Beach

Kovalam Beach

  Kera visit is not complete without the visit to the mystic mountains of Munnar. Although winter or summer might be the best time to visit this mountain range, monsoon holds a pleasant surprise for the hungry traveler. Do remember to visit the conversation for Mountain Goat. More details is there in our detailed blog.

Best Time To Visit Bhutan | Bhutan Tourism

Although we visited Bhutan during the month of June, that is not exactly the best time to visit Bhutan. During our visit we realized the primary reasons as to why June might not be the correct time to visit Bhutan. 

TIger's Nest Monastery, Or Taktsang Monastery
To start with, there might be occasional rain fall that might blunder your travel. Most of the cities that we traveled ranging from Paro, Thimput to Punakha, we encountered rain for sure. 

Near Stadium in Thumpu

Shop near Clock Tower of Thimpu
The other main issue is that there are multiple holidays during this period in Bhutan. Birth Anniversary of Guru Rinpoche is in the month of June. Not further away is the occasion for the First Sermon of Lord Buddha. Thus, you will find most government run tourist spots closed down during these days. And more importantly, you might not get permit to get to Punakha because the immigration offices are also closed during this dates. 

Rather, October to December is the ideal time to visit Bhutan from a climate perspective. Although there are multiple holidays during this time period as well, ranging from "The Descending Day of Lord Buddha" to "National Day", the climate is just stunning during this time period. We would always recommend that you call up the hotels and look up the Bhutan Tourism website to properly plan your trip. You can always ask us here in the comments section as well. Happy journey!

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Little Rann of Kutch (Part 3 ) ~ Flora and Fauna

Though Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) is acclaimed for its prime species - the Wild Ass, it is also an abode of a wide variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish invertebrates and plants. Spending time in the LRK can be a rewarding experience with spotting of Indian gazelle (chinkara), blackbuck, bluebell (nilgai), wild boar, wolf, desert fox, desert cat, hyena, Indian civet, pangolin, crested porcupine, desert gerbille, langur and many more in their natural habitat.

The vegetation in the Rann and its environs is largely xerophytic, dominated by the thorny exotic shrub species Prosopis juliflora, which has spread and taken over most beats and fringes. But indigenous trees such as Prosopis Cineraria still exist here. The soil is halomorphic and it is mainly holomorphic vegetation that occurs here.

The shallow and saline waters in LRK provide a fertile nursery for varied aquatic habitats (marine, estuarine and fresh water) for several species of fishes and prawns.

Getting there:
LRK can be accessed easily from entry point of Banjana village, Dasada, Zainabad and Dharangadhra are other important entry points.

By Air and Rail:
Ahmedabad is the nearest airport with Rajkot and Bhuj as well.

By Road:
LRK is connected by a network of pucca roads, highways and a variety of public transport including state transport buses, private taxis etc.

Best Time to Visit:
The wild ass sanctuary is open for tourists only from 15th October to 15th June.
A minimum stay of 3/4 days is recommemded.

The area has the highest annual evaporation rate in the country. It receives an average annual rainfall of less than 300mm. The average maximum temperature is about 40 degree Celsius and the minimum temperature is about 12 degree Celsius.

Facilities for Eco Tourists:
Gujarat Forest Department's Eco Tourism Centre at Banjara has a reception and orientation centre (under development)

Other Tourist Facilities:
Rann Riders - Dasara
Desert Coursers - Zainabad
TCGL Malvan
D.P. Arts - Jogad 

Little Rann of Kutch (Part 2 ) ~ Birdwatchers's Paradise

The Little Rann of Kutch hosts almost three hundred avian species. While most can be seen around the year, the migratory ones are spotted only during winters. LRK provides them varied habitats comprising of several islands as also inland and coastal wetlands, which form an ideal refuge for all species.

Some of the rare birds found here include Falcons, Harriers and Houbara Bustard. The Rann has a  wetland site of international importance with birds like Greater flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Common Crane, Great Crested Grebe, Caspian Tern inhabiting it.

Beyts like Pung, Dhut, Wasraj Solanki, Mardak, Nanda and Shedwa are an ornithologist 's delight. Besides water bodies like Banjara Creek, Nava Talao and others always offer great rewards to birdwatchers. Watch towers, tourist complexes and other facilities are in placebo help to help eco tourists in understanding this unique habitat.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Little Rann of Kutch (Part 1) ~ Wild Ass Sanctuary

The 4953 sq km of nearly barren expanse of the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) has been protected as the Wild Ass Sanctuary. This unique terrain, a saline desert, is home to nearly 4000 Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur ). It also boasts of an equally unique ecosystem. The term 'Rann' comes from Hindi - suggesting"salt marsh". This area was a shallow part of the Arabian Sea until its connection with the sea was severed due to continuing geographical uplift, creating a vast lake that was still navigable during the time of Alexander the Great.

Most of the Rann gets flooded during monsoon. However it gets dried up by the end of November or mid-December throwing its length and breadth wide open to visitors. The area is dotted with 74 elevated plateaus or uplands, which turns into islands when flooded. They are known as 'beyts'. The LRK is the only place in the Indian subcontinent which hosts lesser and greater flamingoes in abundance.

The LRK is surrounded by five districts - Surendranagar, Patan, Rajkot, Mehsana and Kutch. Its topography gradually rises some 4m above High Water Line and was once upon a time a centre of shipping with peripheral villages being ports. Natural tectonic events and silt, brought by massive rivers including Sindhu, Banas, Saraswati and Rupen gave rise to the present day Rann.

To protect the endangered (Schedule 1) and endemic Wild Ass, popularly known as 'Ghudkur', the sanctuary was notified in 1973, under the Wildlife Protection Act. As per the 2004 census the population of Wild Ass in the Rann was 3863.

Wild Ass, a member of the horse family (Equidae) was once found in the areas belong Gujarat and as far as Rajasthan, Sindh, Balochistan and right upto Afghanistan and South Eastern Iran.

The Wild Ass grazes a flat grass called 'Suaeda nudiflora' known as 'moral' in local parlance which grows on the beyts and its local fringes, while coarse grasses spring up in the Rann after monsoon. With the advent of summer, the Wild Ass moves from one beyt to another in search of water and grass.

Known for its phenomenal speed and stamina, the swift animal is capable of galloping at a pace of over 30 km per hour for as long as two hours, at a top speed of 70 km per hour for short distances. This animal has the ability to survive in extreme climatic conditions including temperature variations ranging from 1 degree Celsius to 50 degree Celsius.

Wild Ass has a sandy coloured coat and its average length is 210 cm and can be upto 120 cm high at shoulders. It stays in a group in salty mudflats and has an extremely well developed sense of smell.

Wild Ass

Shooting is fun indeed!!

There is no road in make your own

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Folklores from Bhutan ~ Migoi the Yeti

As the last Shangri-La on earth Bhutan is absolutely mystic and so are some of Bhutan's folklore and practices. We came to know of a very interesting story of Migoi, a Tibetan term for the Yeti.

Although there is no proof to confirm that this mythical creature exists, people living in remote North Bhutan believe that the Migoi does exist! So Bhutan has a very unusual sanctuary dedicated to Migoi's and the sanctuary is known as 'Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary'. There are many folklores and urban legends around these mythical creatures among the local Bhutanese people.Locals say that there have been many sightings of Migoi in this region. Migoi is known for its phenomenal strength,superfast agility, magical powers such as the ability to become invisible and knowing how to walk backwards to fool any trackers. The luxuriant deciduous forests of Sakteng are believed to be the home of these creatures.

Photo courtesy- internet

Sighting of Migoi is also said to bring bad luck. Once two people went hunting and one of them could see the Migoi with his eyes while the other could not. The person who saw died soon after within a few days.

There is one more story regarding the sightings of Migoi that can bring bad luck. A group of hunters were surprised when all their traps failed to trap any meat one day.To understand what could have possibly gone wrong, they started looking around. Soon they found footprints of a Migoi.

One of the hunters in the group was very strong and courageous.He followed the tracks,encountered the animal and killed it. However no one in his village was ready to believe that he had actually killed a giant Migoi. However they soon found the remains of two Migoi covered in blood on the track that the hunter told them. However bad omen fell on the hunter since he had seen a Migoi. He proud hunter died soon after.

However Yeti or no Yeti, the 'Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary' is highly rich is bio diversity. The sanctuary becomes red with thick carpets of rhododendrons.Snow leopards, red pandas, Himalayan black bear, barking deer and Himalayan red fox can be found here. Variety of birds such as the hoary-bellied Himalayan squirrel, Assamese macaw, blood pheasant, grey backed shrike, grey-headed woodpecker, common hoopoe, rufous-vented tit and dark breasted rosefinch are also commonly found. Besides the conifers, plant life and flora of Sakteng wildlife sanctuary includes rare blue poppies, Bhutan’s national flowers. Wild Primulas and gentiana change the sanctuary into a color riot in spring. A very rare mushroom called cordyceps which have medicinal values are also found in this region.

There is also a Bhutanese stamp depicting a Migoi which is definitely a collector's item.

Photo courtesy- internet

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