INDIA TRAVEL - A MUST VISIT GREAT HIMALAYAN RETREAT - MUNSIYARI

Hello friends! Summer rush is on and everyone is heading for hills. It is not a simple task to choose a  destination for your travel. So many things weigh on the mind when you sit down to decide where do you want to go. Today I will take you to a place which is known as much for it's natural beauty as for the adventure it offers. The place is Munsiyari in Uttarakhand state in North India.

Often referred to as "Little Kashmir", Munsiyari is one place which provides an enchanting and unique view of the Himalayan Peaks. And it has so many options for adventure. 

Located at an altitude of 2200 m(7200 ft) in Pithoragarh district, Munsiyari is situated on the bank of river Gori Ganga, Munsiyari has a calm and unspoiled landscape. In Kumaon region, where it is located, Munsiyari means place with snow. A magnificent view of the snow capped higher ranges of the great Himalayas will simply take your breath away. You will get a clear and mesmerizing view of the group of five snow clad peaks called Panchachuli which inclides Nanada Devi, Rajarambha and Nandakot along with some of the peaks from Nepal Himalayas. The picturesque beauty and virgin surroundings of Munsiyari present a stunning scenery which makes you crave for more.


MUNSIYARI
Image source - allseasonz.com


Munsiyari is also heaven for trekkers. It serves as base for many trekking trails. The major treks that start from Munsiyari are Ralam, Milam and Namik glaciers. You will find a host of muntaineers and trekkers here during the trekking season. There are various short treks also like the Nanda Devi trek which is 3 km from here. It offers the best view of snow covered Panchachuli peaks. Other better known treks around here are Maheshwari Kund, Khalia Top and Thamri Kund treks. Khaliya top and Betuli Dhar are two well developed skiing and winter sports places around Munsiyari.

There are number of attractions in and around Munsiyari, full of natural beauty amazing sights, to hold your interest and to leave you spellbound.

BIRTHI FALLS - Located about 35 km(22 mi) from Munsiyari, these wonderful falls are situated in the midst of dense forests and come from a height of 400 m. The serene surroundings and a mesmerizing view of Himalayas make it a must visit place. You can reach Birthi Falls either by a short trek or by hiring a taxi. 


Birthi Falls, Munsiyari
BIRTHI FALLS
Image source - indiamike.com

PANCHACHULI PEAKS - A group of five snow clad Himalayan peaks, these are situated in the eastern Kumaon region. Their altitude varies from 6300 m(20500 ft) to 6900 m(22500 ft). You can catch magnificent view of sunrise from these peaks as well as the beautiful view of moonrise in the evening, from Munsiyari. Legend has it that just before leaving for their heavenly abode, Pandavas cooked their last meal here. Word Chuli is taken from Chulha which means 
hearth. 


Panchachuli peaks, Munsiyari
PANCHACHULI PEAKS
Image source - wikipedia

MADKOT VILLAGE - A picturesque village, it is about 22 km(14 mi) from Munsiyari. It is a quiet hamlet away from city madness. It is better known for it's hot water springs. It is said that water of hot water springs of Madkot village have great healing power and can cure many illnesses. Particularly those diseases which pain the joints, muscles and fibrous tissues and arthritis. Also, the water of these springs helps in curing skin eruptions. This apart, Madkot is full of scenic beauty and vegetation. Buses and shared taxis are available from Munsiyari to reach Madkot.




Madkot Village, Kumaun
MADKOT VILLAGE
Image source - euttaranchal

BETULIDHAR - It is a huge garden surrounded by beautiful scarlet colored rhododendron trees. It is located at a distance of around 10 km(6.2 mi) from Munsiyari and can be easily reached by buses or taxis. Situated at an altitude of 2784 m(app. 9200 ft), you will get a mesmerizing view of the Himalayan peaks from here. You will enjoy the sunrise and sunset particularly, what with sky turning crimson red during this time. Betulidhar turns into a skiing place during winters and you can enjoy it to your heart's content.


Betulidhar, Munsiyari
BETULIDHAR
Image source - allseasonz.com

BALANTI POTATO FARM - Just 2 km(1.25 mi) from Munsiyari is situated this amazing place. You can easily reach here by a short trek. Located at an altitude of 2700 m(9000 ft), this place is known for it's potatoes and  apples. It also has some really beautiful oak and rhododendron trees. The best part of the Balanti Potato Farm is the awesome view they present of the great Himalayan peaks and the greenery around.


Balanti Potato Farms, Uttaranchal
BALANTI POTATO FARM
Image source - triphills.com

KHALIYA TOP - Situated at an amazing altitude of 3500 m(11500 ft) and surrounded by snowy peaks, Khaliya Top offers a panoramic view of the Kumaun region. It is a meandering meadow which provides breathtaking views of peaks like Panchachuli, Nanda Kot and Rajrambha. It is one of the popular treks here and you can reach here by a 6 km(3.8 mi) trek from Balanti Potato Farm. If you go for trek in early summer, you can see the snow line. There is something for photographers and wildlife lovers too. There are many species of birds and animals, who have made Khaliya Top their home. The major species found here are Monal, Kakar, Ghurar and Baral. However, spring is the best season for trekking as rhododendron trees are in full bloom and they make whole area appear red. Checkout togedr.com for trekking deals.


Khaliya Top, Kumaun
KHALIYA TOP
Image source - transpost.in

KALAMUNI TEMPLE - Perched on a hill top at an altitude of 2900 m(9500 ft) is the Kalamuni Temple. This temple is dedicated to Kali Mata. It is situated at about 16 km(10 mi) from Munsiyari town on the way to the town and the interesting part is that it is at an higher altitude than the town itself. You will find many idols of Hindu Gods inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple like Kali, Ganesha and even Shiva Lingam. This place of worship has a divine aura which rids one of all the bad energy and negativity. You can also spot naga sadhus meditating here. This place also serves as the base for many trekkers and you can find many trekkers preparing here to start their trek. You can also have a panoramic view of the majestic Panchachuli peaks from here. 


Kalamuni Temple, Munsiyari
KALAMUNI TEMPLE
Image source - justdial.com
THAMRI KUND - Located around 10 km(6.2 mi) from Munsiyari is a hidden gem called Thamri Kund. The sheer serenity and quietness of the place is enough to rejuvenate you. Kund means pond and this place has a pond which is worshiped by the locals to seek rainfall in case of deficient rains. Thamri Kund also offers an amazing view of Panchachuli peaks. You can reach here by a taxi or a 3 km trek. The trekking trail will take you through lush green forests and you will encounter much scenic beauty on the way.


Thamri Kund, Kumaun
THAMRI KUND
Image source - euttaranchal.com

MAHESHWARI KUND - It is again situated at 10 km from Munsiyari and has a beautiful lake. There is a legend associated with this place which says that there was a demi god or Yaksh who resided in this lake. He fell in love with the beautiful daughter of the village head and wanted to marry her. But the villagers would not let him marry her. They dried the lake to get rid of him. Upon this, Yaksh cursed the villagers with drought and as a result the area encountered drought for many years. It was only when villagers apologized to Yaksha that the curse was lifted and the lake returned to it's pristine beauty. It is now surrounded by rich Himalayan flora and presents a heart warming view. You can have a clear view of Panchachuli peaks from here also.


Maheshwari Kund, Uttaranchal
MAHESHWARI KUND
Image source - triphills.com

NANDA DEVI, TEMPLE - It is a sacred place for Hindus devoted to Goddess Nanda or Parvati. A white structure with a conical facade, Nanada Devi temple has great importance in the lives of the people. A hand painted image of Lord Ganesha adorns the outer wall of the temple. An idol of Goddess Nanda is placed inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, where she is worshiped. Nanda Devi Temple is situated just 1.4 km(0.9 mi) from Munsiyari. You can also trek your way to this place by a 3km trek.


Nanada Devi, Munsiyari
NANDA DEVI TEMPLE
Image source - wikimedia

DARKOT VILLAGE - Located at 6.8 km(4.2 mi) from Munsiyari, Darkot village is full of natural beauty and has amazing flora and fauna. If you are a nature or art lover or an avid photo clicker then you shouldn't miss this place. A simple walk in the village will enthuse you. You can interact with locals to know about their culture. Darkot village is known for it's Pashmina shawls. You can buy them from here. You can reach here by taxi or bus.


Darkot Village, Munsiyari
DARKOT VILLAGE
Image source - tripadvisor.com

REACHING MUNSIYARI - 

AIR - Nearest airport is Pantnagar, which is 313 km(197 mi) away. You can get taxis from there to reach Munsiyari. 

RAIL - Nearest railway station is Tanakpur, which is 274 km (170 mi) away. Again, you can get taxis from there to reach Munsiyari.

ROAD - To reach Munsiyari, you have to get a bus for Pithoragarh from Anand Vihar ISBT, Delhi. Pithoragarh is at a distance of 490 km(306 mi) from Delhi. From Pithoragarh you can get another bus or taxi to reach Munsiyari, which is then 115 km(72 mi) from there.

STAYING IN MUNSIYARI - You will not find fancy or luxury hotels here. Only budget hotels are available in and around Munsiyari but they offer decent accommodation and service. You can check for hotels with fabhotels.

Whether you are a nature lover, an adventure seeker, a photographer or simply seeking rejuvenation at a quaint place, head for Munsiyari this summer for a great Himalayan retreat.

HAPPY TRAVELING!!!!








INDIA TRAVEL - HOW TO SAVE MONEY IN TRAVEL - SOME TIPS

Hello friends! Everybody wants to save money in travel. No one likes to splurge unnecessarily. We all want to minimize the expenses and maximize the pleasure of traveling. But the big question is “how do we do it?”. While we all try to save money by means such as trying to get the cheapest tour package, trying to get best online deals or bargaining hard while shopping on a trip. The fact is that these things do not necessarily minimize your expenses and definitely do not give you the maximum returns in terms of pleasure. For example, cheapest tour package may not be the best.
Then what can we do to save money as well as enjoy our trip to the fullest? Well, to begin with, we need to get out of our comfort zones and be prepared to take some pain, because as the saying goes, there’s no gain without pain.
There is a term very commonly used in businesses. The entrepreneurs among us would understand this. Basically this deals with analyzing the cost we incur on something compared to the benefit it provides. In common term we can call it “value for money”. Let’s first analyze which would be more beneficial – booking a complete travel  package or booking all the items separately and individually like to and fro transport, hotel, local transport etc.


Tariffs for hotels
CHECK THE COST DIFFERENCE
If you ask me, I personally don’t prefer complete travel packages for one major reason. They show us what they want to show not what we want to see. What happens then? The explorer in you would be left dissatisfied.  I have had experience with this during my Kashmir trip wherein I had booked a package deal. But I was shown a very little of the places like Pahalgam while I wanted to explore much more. So we need to check thoroughly before buying a tour package, whether it will show us what we want to see and that would be possible if we have done our complete homework about the place we want to visit.
Secondly, we need to break the entire package, being offered to us into individual items like return fare(if included), hotel, local transport. Then we can do our research and find out the cost we would incur if we booked these facilities individually.


Check price of hotels
CHECK THE COST OF INDIVIDUAL ITEMS
Like, when I was to travel to Narkanda, I spend good two days exploring online about the hotels there. And as happens, I would get different quotes from different sites, each claiming to give the best price. I was looking for a hotel at prime location within my budget. Just as I was about to click a deal on a site, it occurred to me to speak directly with a couple of hotel owners and see what they were offering. I did speak with them. And to my surprise, with a little bargaining, I got a very good room in a centrally located property for a much lower price than what online sites were offering, and that too without paying any advance and an early check in facility. So a little smartness always helps.



On the other hand, when I was trying to decide on the mode of transport I needed to take to reach Narkanda, I found that train would be much cheaper than bus but it would take six to seven hours more to reach Narkanda. I had to decide what did I want to save, time or money. I reckoned that even if I travelled by an AC bus, it would cost me INR 250 more on one side but it would save me good 14 hours on both sides put together. So it was only wise to travel by AC bus and save time. This is what I mean by cost benefit analysis.
Here again, I spent good amount of time to checkout various offers available online for booking bus tickets. And I got a good deal from one of the portals, that too for state transport bus, which saved me 50% of the extra money I was to spend on bus travel. Here, if I had booked directly from the state transport portal, it would have been costlier.


Make smart decision on mode of transport
CHOOSE MODE OF TRANSPORT WISELY
Now coming to local transport. We can checkout the various distances from our point of stay and find out the means of transports available to travel to those places. Whenever I travel alone, I prefer to walk as much as possible. And even in a group, we can walk to the nearby places. It is generally when we are with family that we need mode of transport to ferry us from one place to another. When traveling alone, we can hitch a ride also. I have found that fellow travelers are generally happy to accommodate. So we must be prepared to take a little pain of walking.



Know all the local distances
BE CLEAR ABOUT THE DISTANCES
And if we are in a group or with family and need a cab, it is better to bargain with cabbies directly than going through hotel staff. I asked my hotel staff to get me a cab for a particular place. The taxi owner asked me for INR600 as fare. I declined and went outside to find another cab. There I found that the standard return cab fare for traveling to that place was INR500 and with a little bargaining it could come down to INR400. It is an altogether different matter that eventually I ended up getting a free ride from some fellow travelers. Point is that we need to be aware of the distances and that gives us more bargaining power.
About shopping, do not purchase from the shops where your cabbie or bus staff takes you. We all know they have a commission there and the shopkeeper would surely add their commission to the price of the article. It’s always better to explore the market and find for yourself, the fair price of the item you want to purchase.


Enjoy your travel
ENJOY WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT FINANCE
And last but not the least, try to not leave tips for the hotel staff or the waiters at the eateries you go to. You are very rarely going to visit them again, so there is no point in being grandiose and feeding our egos.
I hope these tips will surely benefit some of us as we embark on one more new journey.

SO, HAPPY, SAFE AND ECONOMICAL TRAVEL TO ALL OF US!!


INDIA TRAVEL - A COMBINATION OF WILDERNESS AND PANORAMA - SHOJA

Hi Guys! We always look to find a place to relax and rejuvenate. Away from all the madness of daily routine, at a quiet and serene place. Or we look for a place where we can spend some uninterrupted private moments. And those of us who are more adventurous kind, seek a place where they can get all the thrill. However, most of the such places which are more famous become crowded and the very purpose of our being there gets defeated. Let's go to a small secluded place, full of natural beauty and calmness. Shoja in Banjar valley of Himachal Pradesh is one such place. The beauty and quietness of this place, untouched by crowd invasion, is the thing one looks for to rejuvenate oneself or enjoy some private time.

Shoja is a small village located at a height of 2368 m(7800 ft) off a road connecting Kullu with Shimla called Jalori pass. It is just 5 km(3 mi) from Jalori Pass. You will get a panoramic view of the snow covered Himalayas from here. The weather in Shoja is very pleasant during the summers but winters are very harsh. You will not find any big vehicles here so it is relatively very pollution free.


Shoja, Himachal Pradesh
SHOJA
Image source - kunzum.com
Shoja is an ideal place for those seeking natural beauty. Apart from that, there is lot to learn about wildlife and plants. Plus there are a few trekking options. Just a walk in the lush green meadows in pollution free environment will open your lungs and freshen you up. You can indulge in bird watching also.

For wildlife lovers, you can spot the Himachal Pradesh state bird, Monal, here. Besides you can also see White-throated tit, Indian Blue Robin, Nutcracker etc. You will also find musk deer, Himalayan brown bear, snow leopard etc. For plant lovers, the area has oak, conifer, bamboo and Alpine meadows here.

WATERFALL POINT - Just 1 km(0.62 mi) from Shoja is located the waterfall point. Walk through the green surroundings, listening to the gushing sounds of water. This short journey itself will leave you spellbound. The waterfall point is a stream of water falling from above from mountains. You can spend some quiet or romantic time here. You can actually drink the water from the fall. It tastes really sweet.


Waterfall Point, Shoja
WATERFALL POINT
Image source - tripadvisor

JALORI PASS - The real adventure begins here. Just 5 km (3.2 mi) from Shoja is Jalori Pass. The drive to this place is for strong hearted only. The road to this place becomes very steep and narrow with sudden potholes surprising you. At a height of 3300 m(10800 ft), this place gives stunning view of the snow clad Himalayan peaks and exquisite flowers and birds. This is a relatively untouched place, may be due to the difficulty encountered in reaching here. So the beauty of the place has remained intact and unharmed. And once you reach here, it is a paradise. This pass is closed during winters. 


Jalori Pass, Himachal Pradesh
JALORI PASS
Image source - tripadvisor

SEROLSAR LAKE - Located 5 km away from Jalori pass in Shoja is the beautiful Serolsar lake. The walk to this lake itself presents an enchanting experience. The beauty of the lake lies in the fact that it has clean water despite lot of leaves falling into it. With greenery all around and clean blue water, this becomes an ideal picnic spot. The place has famous temple of Goddess Budhi Naagin. The Goddess is believed to be the protector of this place and has hundred sons.


Serolsar Lake, Kullu
SEROLSAR LAKE
Image source - trawell.in

RAGHUPUR FORT - This fort is believed to have been built by rulers of Mandi for their own protection. Now only the outer walls are left of the fort. But trekking of about 3 km to this place is itself an amazing experience what with the way covered with oak and rhododendron trees on one side and great Himalayas on the other. The fun of reaching here itself is an adventure. For trekking and camping, you can checkout togedr.com.


Raghupur fort, Shoja, Himachal Pradesh
RAGHUPUR FORT
Image source - 10yearitch.com

TIRTHAN VALLEY - It is the protected eco zone. situated very near to Shoja. It is famous for The Great Himalayan Park. It has richness of attractions for any traveler. Besides offering a number of adventurous activities, it is also a paradise for nature lovers. With Tirthan river passing from here, this place is a big draw for those who love fishing. This very less explored valley is an ideal place for wildlife watching, trekking, fishing, enjoying the nature and simply relaxing. This is also a great spot for angling. Tirthan river carries a lot of trout fishes, so it is a big attraction for trout lovers. The crystal clear waters of the river, the pristine mountains surrounding it and the lush green pollution free surroundings together have a mesmerizing effect.


Tirthan valley, Himachal Pradesh
TIRTHAN RIVER
Image source - tripshelf.com

IMPORTANT - Do carry drinking water and packaged food with you, wherever you go around Shoja as there are a very few eateries or dhabas in the area.

REACHING SHOJA

Air - Nearest airport to Shoja is Bhuntar in Kullu, which is 2 hours' drive away. You can hire taxis from there to reach Shoja. Book your flight on makemytrip.

Rail - The nearest railway station is Shimla on narrow gauge, which is 60 km(37 mi) away. State run buses and provate taxis are easily available from here to reach Shoja.

Road - Shoja is 516 km (321 mi) from Delhi via Manali. You can catch an overnight bus or taxi from Delhi to Manali and from there you can get buses and taxis to Shoja.

STAYING IN SHOJA

There are hotels and homestays available in and around Shoja. You can get good budget hotels as well as home cooked food in homestays.

All in all, Shoja is an ideal place for all kind of travelers including solo, group, adventure seekers, nature lovers and even honeymooners.

HAPPY TRAVELING AND ENJOY YOUR VACATIONS!!




INDIA TRAVEL - AN UNKNOWN LITTLE WONDER OF SOUTH INDIA - THIRTHAHALLI

Hi Friends! Whether you live in south India or have traveled there, I wonder how many of you have heard the name Thirthahalli. Actually, there are so many hidden little gems in all states within India that wherever you go, you discover a new gem. We all know that south India has innumerable tourist attractions and all of us know about the major ones and some relatively smaller ones too. But there are a few small places which are more elegant, beautiful and provide more satisfaction. Thirthahalli is one such place. It's a complete package of nature, history, mythology, pilgrimage and adventure.

Thirthahalli is a little town in Shimoga district of Karnataka state, situated on the bank of river Tunga. This place has some beliefs attached to it. First is that sage Jamadagni ordered his son sage Parashuram to behead his mother Renuka. He obeyed the order of his father and beheaded his mother with his axe. Thereafter he tried to clean his axe of blodstains by washing it in many rivers but a small stain would always remain there. Ultimately it was after washing his axe in Tunga river near Thirthahalli, that he got rid of that small stain. Therefore, river Tunga became a holy river and   Thirthahalli became a pilgrimage site for Hindus. It is believed that a dip in the Tunga river, can cure all their sins. This place is now called Parashurama Tirtha or Rama Tirtha. Tirtha means pilgrimage and Halli means village in Kannada language.



Thirthahalli, Shimoga
THIRTHAHALLI


Another belief is that when Lord Ram and Sita were going through their vanvaas(stay in forests), Marich, a close relative of Lanka king Ravana came disguised as a golden deer to enchant Sita. Sita was enamoured by the golden deer and urged Ram to get it for her. Lord Ram followed the golden deer. And the place where this happened is supposed to be very near to Thirthahalli, called Mrugavadhe. In local Kannada language, Mruga means animal and vadhe means killing.

Thirthahalli is quintessentially a quiet town, untouched by the loud noise of big cities. But there are enough places and things, in and around this town to induce interest in any traveler. It would be any traveler's delight to explore the historical, natural, religious and mythological sites in and around Thirthahalli.

SRI RAMESHWARA TEMPLE - Hindus consider it as their main temple in this area. Situated on the bank of river Tunga, the whole Sri Rameshwara Temple is made of stones. It is said that sage Parshurama himself installed the lingam situated in the sanctum sanctorum of this temple. Also, there is a stone Mantapa, called Rama Mantapa, situated near the temple. There is a big five day festival organized in the temple every year called Yellu Amavasya Jatre. The day sage Parashuram cleaned the sesame like stain from his axe, by dipping it in river Tunga, is said to be the new moon day of Margashire month of Hindu calender. The festival is organized to celebrate this day. Yellu means sesame and Amavasya means New Moon Day and the day is termed Yellu Amavasya.
Of the five days on which the festival is celebrated, three are deemed to be of particular interest for all.




Sri Rameshwara Temple, Shimoga
SRI RAMESHWARA TEMPLE
Image source-findmessages.com


First is Yellu Amavasya, when idol of Lord Rameshwara, called Utsava Moorthi (or idol of festival) is taken to river Tunga to consecrate it.
Second day the chariot of temple, decorated with flowers, is pulled by the devotees on the streets of the town amidst dance and music.
And third day is when Utsava Moorthi is put on a raft called teppa and is taken down the river Tunga right upto river bank at a place called Kuruvalli and then back to temple. This is called Teppotsava or raft festival. Teppa meaning raft and utsava meaning festival. The bridge on river Tunga, the river banks and Rama Mantap, all are decorated with lights on this day and fire crackers are burnt.

TUNGA BRIDGE - This bridge on river Tunga connects Thirthahalli to Kuruvalli town and is a part of National Highway169. The main thing about the bridge is that it was designed by Sir Visvesavaraya and was inaugurated in the year 1943. It has an arc like top, supported by pillars in a row. You can stand on the bridge and admire the beauty of calmly flowing river Tunga and the surroundings. It is a spot for soaking in the serenity of the place.


Tunga Bridge, Thirthahalli
TUNGA BRIDGE
Image source - wikipedia

AMBUTHIRTHA - There is a story connected to this place. It is said that when Lord Ram and Sita were going through their vanvaasa, one day Sita got thirdty and requested Ram to fetch water for her. Ram tried but could not find any water source around the area. So Ram shot an arrow in the ground, from where Goddess Ganga appeared and quenched the thirst of Sita and a river sprang up from that place. It is now called Ambutirtha. Subsequently, waterfalls were formed by the river water and these waterfalls are called Jog Falls.


Ambuthirtha, Karnataka
AMBUTHRITHA
Image source-tungahomestays

JOG FALLS - Located 18 km (11.2 mi) from Thirthahalli, Jog falls are on Sharvathi river and is a beautiful place to visit. Water descends from a height of 253 m(835 ft) and consists of four cascades. These cascades are named Raja, Rani, Rover and Rocket and are outlets in the river itself and merge to form the huge waterfall. The sheer sound and sight of the water falling from such a height is a treat to watch. Locals have given names like Gersoppa Falls, Geruoppe Falls and Jagoda Gundi. You can take a splash into fresh water to rejuvenate yourself. Jog falls are good for hiking also. Nowadays, Jog falls serves as source of hydro electric power to the state.


Jog Falls, Thirthahalli
JOG FALLS
Image source - traveltwosome

KUPALLI - This is a small village in Thirthahalli located about 18 km(11.2 mi) from main town. It's significance lies in the fact that it is the birth place of noted Kannada poet and writer, who is also cremated here. The village derives it's name from first name of Kuvempu, which was Kupalli. The home, where Kuvempu spent his childhood has been converted into a museum and is managed by Rashtrakavi Kuvempu Pratishthana, a trust which undertakes many development works in the village to showcase Kuvempu's work to the world. The village has a rock monument named Kavishala, dedicated to the great poet. It is made of megalithic rocks, the building resembles the stonehedge of England. Nestled in the green forest of Malnad, Kavimane, the ancesotral home of Kuvempu tresents a breathtaking view. This three storeyed tiled building has now been converted into a museum.


Kuvempu home, Shimoga
KUVEMPU HOME
Image source - wikipedia

AGUMBE - This small town in Thirthahalli has been made famous because the entire shooting of TV serial Malgudi Days was done here. Malgudi Days was based on the novel of the same name by noted novelist R.K.Narayan. This town has a very scenic beauty. Agumbe boasts of world's first King Cobra sanctuary. The heavy rainfalls here have given it the name of "Cherrapunji" of South.


Agumbe, Shimoga
AGUMBE
Image source - travelophilla



CHIBBALAGUDDE - This place is 10 km(6.2 mi) from Thirthahalli. Main attractions here are the temples of Siddhi Vinayaka and Matsyabhama, located on the bank of river Tunga. Also, you can see a lot of beautiful fishes in the river at this point.

MRUGVADHE - The place where Lord Ram is supposed to have killed the golden deer. It is 24(15 mi) km from Thirthahalli. Located here is the temple of Sri Mallikarjun on the bank of river Brahmi.

MADAGA - About 15 km(9.5 mi) is a beautiful place called Madaga. Here you can see the remains of a submerged temple.

KUNDADRI HILLS - About 30 km(18.5 mi) from Thirthahalli and 20 km(12.5 mi) from Agumbe are stunning Kundadri hills. You can see a beautiful pond and an old Jain temple here.

GUMMANAMAKKI - It is believed that in the month of December, on the bank of river Tunga, all the Hindu Gods come together to celebrate a certain festival at this place.

KAVALEDURGA - This is a 9th century fort, located 18 km(11.2 mi) from Thirthahalli. The walls of the huge fort are built on the contours of a hillock. The temple of Lord Shikhareshwara is located on top of this hillock and is also known as Sri Kanthesvara Temple. The king of Belagutti strengthened this fort in the 14th century. Venkatappa Nayaka acquired this fort in the 16th century and build 7 battalions to protect this fort. Ultimately it bacame part of the Woodeyar dynasty of Mysore.


Kavaledurga, Thirthahalli
KAVALEDURGA
Image source - thebetterindia

ANANDAGIRI AND SIDDESHWARA GUDDA - These two hills are located on Agumbe road in Thirthahalli and present great view. Anandagiri is 300 ft high and Siddeshwara Gudda is 200 ft high. Both are ideal for spending some leisure time in serene natural surroundings.

HOW TO REACH THIRTHAHALLI

1. Air - The nearest airport is Mangalore which is 122 km(78 mi) away. You will get taxis from there to reach Thirthahalli. Makemytrip is the best place to book flights.

2. Rail - The nearest station is Shimoga which is 65 km(40.5 mi) away. You can hire taxi from here to reach Thirthahalli.

3. Road - Thirthahalli is well connected to all the major cities of Karnataka by well laid roads.

WHERE TO STAY
Thirthahalli has good staying options. There are budget hotels available. You can also choose homestays with some good hosts. Cleartrip provides you beat deals for hotels.

South India has many enchanting places. But if you are looking for some off beat, less explored and beautiful location to create vivid memories, head straight for Thirthahalli.





INDIA TRAVEL - PEORA - THE HIDDEN TREASURE OF UTTARAKHAND

Hello friends! Our quest to explore takes us to so many places. Whether it's for business, leisure or pleasure, we are always looking for something new in the form of people, places or things. Uniqueness of things always fascinates us. And for us travelers, what better can satisfy our inquisitive instincts than exploring a hitherto unexplored or less explored place. So let's go to a tiny raw place, tucked in the mighty Himalayas, untouched by human invasion. It is named Peora.

Peora is a small village in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, hidden from maddening city crowd. Nestled in the Shivalik ranges of Himalayas, this village falls in the Kumaon region. This small hamlet, situated at an elevation of 1997 m (6600 ft) is considered to be the best location for eco tourism. Peora (pronounced as Pora) is situated 10 km(6.3 mi) away from Mukteshwar and 23 km (14.2 mi) from Almora. Enveloped by thick natural forest of pine and oak trees, this place possesses it's own devine beauty. Whole of Kumaon region is covered with thick oak, pine, sal, kaphal and rhodendron trees giving it beautiful lush green cover. The rustic charm of Peora is to be seen and felt, to be believed. The most unique feature of this place is the clear panoramic view of about 350 km span of very high snow clad peaks. You can feast your eyes with the breathtaking view of so many snow clad Himalayan peaks, from this one place. You can spend hours and hours in Peora admiring the view around and you won't get bored.


Beautiful Peora village
BEAUTY OF PEORA
Source - Indiatimes

THINGS TO DO IN PEORA

1. Take a walk in the hills and , enjoy the fresh air(which you don't get in crowded places). Soak in the beauty and charm of the place.

2. Visit the local NGO Aarohi. This NGO works in the fields ranging from education to environment conservation. You can also volunteer to work with this NGO for whatever amount of time you want to.

3. Mingle with locals of Peora and find out about their culture, local cuisine, their festivals etc.

4. Take pictures of wild flowers, birds and trees.

Peora Village, Uttarakhand
PEORA VILLAGE
Source - Tripoto
5. Take a cycle and move along the secluded trails in the midst of lush green surroundings and stop at different places to relax and unwind. You can book a cycling trip with togedr.com.

Lush green Peora village
GREENERY AT PEORA
Source - Milleniumpost
6. Go to apple orchards and enjoy the fresh fruits.

7. Visit the local herbal factory and see the manufacturing process. You can also buy some herbal products like face pack made from peach seeds or herbal spices.

8. You can also plan a day trip to Almora, which is again a beautiful place.

Peora is also  known as the fruit bowl of Uttarakhand. The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture and farming. Almost all varieties of fruits are grown here. From apples to pomegranates, plums to peaches and apricots, everything is grown here. You can walk around and pluck fresh apples from the trees and eat them.

Since the area is covered with tall trees, Peora comes as a paradise for wildlife lovers and bird watchers. 

Peora is a very small village so there is no market here.You must carry all the essentials with you when you visit Peora. There are no ATMs in the vicinity. You can see traditional tiled roofs on houses here.

Snow clad peaks from Peora in Uttarakhand
VIEW OF SNOW CLAD PEAKS FROM PEORA
Source - Trodly

Houses in Peora, Nainital
TRADITIONAL TILED ROOF HOUSES IN PEORA
Source - India Untravelled
HOW TO REACH PEORA

Air - The nearest airport to Peora is Dehradun, which is around 175 km (110 mi) away. From here you can hire taxi to reach Peora.

Rail - The nearest railway station is Kathgodam, which is around 68 km (42 mi) away. You can hire a taxi from Kathgodam to reach Peora in 2-2.5 hours. It will charge INR 1100-1300 for the one way trip

Road - Taxis are available from Delhi and Kathgodam to reach Peora. It is 360 km (230 mi) from Delhi. When you drive from Kathgodam to Peora, you will cross lakes of Bhimtal. The drive takes you along slopes and serpentine roads covered with green pine trees and dense forests. The drive itself is an eye popping experience.

WHERE TO STAY IN PEORA

The best place to stay in Peora is the Dak Bunglow. It is a very old building renovated recently by a family and is being operated as a homestay. In fact it was built in 1905. It still retains it's old world charm with mud walls, high ceilings and fire places. This Dak Bunglow overlooks the Nanda Devi and Trishul peaks and if the day is clear, you can have a great view of the beautiful peaks. You have to order the food which you want to eat. Since Peora is not a very popular destination yet, so the food is not ready made. It is made to order. But the home made food is really delicious.

Dak Bunglow in Peora Village, Uttarakhand
DAK BUNGLOW IN PEORA
Source - India Untravelled


There are a couple of other staying options also like a resort, which has come up nearby and boasts of all the modern amenities. But the true enjoyment lies in experiencing the village life.

So either you are looking for a peaceful and serene location to unwind and rejuvenate or mad about natural beauty or are a wildlife enthusiast, just pack your bags and head straight to Peora to get a unique experience.




INDIA TRAVEL - 7 MISTAKES WHICH I LEARNT TO AVOID WHEN TRAVELING

Hello Friends! Traveling is always a learning experience, provided you are willing. But there is also a thing called forced learning. The things you are forced to learn unwillingly or by encountering situations you had not anticipated. Learning these things keeps you better prepared for your next trip. You can learn from others' experiences also.

Like over a period of time while I traveled, I encountered a few situations which I had not planned for and had me in an unnecessary spot of bother. Though very small, these things tend to spoil your mood as well as the momentum you have built for your trip. So I am going to share a few things I found I should have foreseen but didn't. These are not exclusive to solo travel, they may hold good for group or family travel too. So it is useful for every traveler.

1. BE SURE ABOUT YOUR EXACT ARRIVAL TIME - It always helps to know your exact time of arrival at your destination. I made a mistake that I totally relied on the time of arrival written on my m-ticket and never bothered to cross check from anywhere else. And I found out later that the time of arrival written on the ticket was for the destination of bus and not for my destination. The result was I reached very early in the morning and the hotel I was supposed to stay in, hadn't opened yet. I had informed the hotel that my time of arrival was 8.30 in the morning, but if I reached at 6 am, it was not their fault. They still were gracious enough to allow me an early check in. But what if they stuck to rules or hotel was full and I had to spend good 3 hrs on the road after an overnight travel? So better double check the time of arrival at the destination lest your whole schedule goes haywire.



Traveling in India
KNOWING YOUR ARRIVAL TIME IS IMPORTANT


2. GET COMPLETE INFORMATION ABOUT LOCAL TRANSPORT - In big cities, local transport is not an issue. You get many options to travel from one location to other. However, if you are traveling to a remote location, whether solo or in a group, it is always better to find out in advance, what local transport would be available to ferry you from one point to another. In my case, I found out that the only available local transport available was taxi. And these taxis were charging obscene amounts to cover even a single location. It would have offset my budget by quite a margin, so I decided against hiring a taxi and instead hitched a ride. This saved me a good amount of money. But if I had researched thoroughly, I could have avoided that short period of mental stress and unnecessary running around to find a cheaper transport. The problem becomes acute if you are traveling with family. In that case it is always advisable to opt for a package.

3. CARRY DIFFERENT NETWORK PHONES - Again, in cities, mobile networks don't pose much problem but once you are in a remote location, the networks start playing truant and that may create many unexpected problems. Like in my case, I was carrying my phone and a data card, both from the same network. And I lost full one day without being able to do any work either on my phone or laptop. This set my schedule of work back by sometime. So much so, I was able to book my return ticket, only the next day when network became better. The hotel staff told me that the particular network did not work well in their area. So if I had carried two different network phones or sims, I may have saved quite some time haggling with network issues. So as far as possible, carry different network phones to counter any eventuality.

4. GET COMPLETE INFORMATION OF WEATHER - Weather is a very important factor whenever you plan to travel to any destination. So it is always good to have accurate information about the weather in that place. When I planned my trip, I found out that it would be cold during mornings and evenings so I had kept a sleeveless sweater in my backpack. However, I failed to check the forecast for the days I was supposed to be in that place. So I encountered cold windy conditions even during the day time and was left shivering. The saving grace was the walk I did, which brought some warmth into the body. Moreover, I had not braced for rains and was left stranded at a place for sometime because I was not carrying the umbrella. Similarly, I was stranded during one of my earlier trips and had to spend an extra night due to extreme weather conditions. This is particularly true for hilly and coastal areas. You must be prepared for the unpredictability of the weather. Otherwise you may either find yourself confined to your hotel room or stranded midway. So keep yourself updated with the weather predictions for the area you are going to travel to.


Weather in India
WEATHER CAN SPOIL BEST LAID OUT PLANS

5. ALWAYS CARRY DRINKING WATER - This is bare minimum essential, which you need to always have with you. Particularly when you are traveling to remote locations, you may not get drinking water everywhere. Like I did not want to carry anything with me when I went out to explore the place. I wanted to keep myself free from any extra weight apart from my own. But unfortunately, all the places I visited that day, were so situated that I did not get any drinking water and from 12 in the noon till 8 in the evening I was without drinking water. And add to this a lot of walking I needed to do, it was really bad. My folly. In fact there were no eateries also in these places. So no harm in carrying a little extra load.

6. WHICH IS BETTER? FIXED ITINERARY OR FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE - Both have their own merits and demerits. A fixed itinerary gives you a sense of security and discipline. You know exactly when you will be where and keep yourself ready accordingly. And you are free from worries of having to plan for the day or taking care of logistics. But then it robs you of the freedom to do your own exploration and thus a thrill of adventure. You are bound by the time table and can't deviate from the given schedule. On the other hand, if you keep a flexible schedule, you can do a lot of things which otherwise you may not be able to do. Like you can mingle with locals and find out about their culture, food etc. Or you can go on your own on long walks to find out new places, which would otherwise not be covered in a fixed itinerary. In my case, I kept a mix of both. I had a rough itinerary in mind, having planned about the places I wanted to visit on the first day and then on subsequent days. However, I had kept myself open to visiting any new places, which I might come to know of from the locals. And that helped. I was able to see a couple of extremely beautiful places, which I would have not even passed by if I had a fixed itinerary. And I did not find any major obstacle in terms of any logistical problem or any sense of uncertainty. So I found it better to have a mix of both , a fixed itinerary and a flexible schedule, quite cool. For family travelers it may be a bit problematic but it should work well for solo or group travelers.

You can add more activities in your schedule by going to togedr.com



Explore India
FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE GIVES YOU FREEDOM TO EXPLORE

7. KEEP SUFFICIENT CASH FOR EMERGENCY - Last but not the least. Always keep some minimum amount of cash with you for any eventuality. Although, nowadays most people prefer to pay by cards or other means of plastic money, and it is the norm now, but there may be situations where plastic money may not work. Again true for remote locations. You may not face any major problem in big or medium cities but in small cities or remote locations, you may face a situation, where only cash will work. I was sure that I would pay my hotel bill by card so did not bother much about the amount of cash I had. However on the day of my departure I was told that the swipe machine was not functioning and I needed to pay in cash. So next logical step for me was to go to an ATM. I found out that there were only three ATMs in the vicinity. One was closed because it was a Sunday and other two were not working. So I found myself in a difficult situation. Fortunately for me, when I checked the cash in my wallet, it was just enough to pay the hotel bill and get me by to my next port of halt. That because I had already booked my return ticket online. Still it gave me a lot of anxious moments till the time I found an ATM at my next stopover and withdrew some cash. So it is always better to have some decent amount of cash in your wallet, to get you by through difficult or unanticipated situations.

I hope my experience will benefit at least some of you.

SO HAPPY AND SAFE TRAVELING TO ALL OF YOU!!