INDIA TRAVEL - A PARADISE OF UNMATCHED NATURAL BEAUTY - DOOARS

Hello guys! Can you imagine a region full of lush green surroundings and numerous streams and rivers flowing through it? And mountains in the backdrop. Looks straight out of a fairy tale? Well, it is a real thing. It is called Dooars and is located in north east India.

Dooars (meaning doors) is a region of floodplains which are situated north of Brahmaputra river basin and south of foothills of Himalayas. The region is 350 km(220 mi) long and 30 km(19 mi) wide and forms gateway from India to Bhutan. There are 18 such gateways in the region. The Dooars region extends from Teesta river in West Bengal to Dhanshiri river in Assam. Sankosh river, flowing through the region, bifurcates the region into Eastern Dooars and Western Dooars. While Eastern Dooars are also called Assam Dooars and Western Dooars are called Bengal Dooars, both covering a total area of 880 sq. km(340 sq. mi).


Dooars, West Bengal
DOOARS
Image source - weekendthrill.in
The beauty of Dooars lies in the lush green tea gardens with sparkling mountain springs cutting through them, beautiful rolling hill slopes, high Sal forests and enchanting outline of Himalayan ranges. Add to it the small but beautiful ethnic villages and vast meadows around and you have a truly dream location. Fresh cool breeze blowing across the vast tea gardens against the backdrop of blue mountains will make you feel one with the nature.

Dooars is very rich in wildlife and has a very wide variety of species of flora and fauna. It has a number of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. You will be automatically pulled by the beauty of the tea gardens here. And the taste of the tea here will surely invigorate your senses.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS IN DOOARS

1. BUXA TIGER RESERVE - Located in Rajabhatkhawa and Spread over an area of 745 sq. km, it has the second highest tiger population in West Bengal. It was started in 1983 and got the status of a National Park in 1992. It is located on the Assam-Bhutan border. Buxa tiger reserve also has maximum number of elephants along with wide variety of deers, leopards, and Indian Bison. Besides, it also boasts of many species of birds and reptiles. It also has a large collection of rare medicinal plants and orchids. Several rivers and their tributaries cross the reserve which makes for breathtaking landscape. Buxa tiger reserve also has a huge variety of flora and fauna. It also forms the base for many treks in the region.

Buxa Tiger Reserve, Dooars
BUXA TIGER RESERVE
Image source - dailyworld.in
How to reach - The best route to reach Rajabhatkhawa is through New Jalpaiguri, which is a major railway station and is 160 km (100 mi) away. However, you can reach Alipurduar station, which is just 10 km(6.2 mi) from the forest checkpost. You can get all types of vehicles, including the shared ones, to reach Rajabhatkhawa.

2. GORUMARA NATIONAL PARK - Spread over an area of 80 sq. km, this forest was declared a national park in the year 1994. The main attraction here is the Asiatic one horned rhino. It is situated on the floodplains of Jaldhaka and Murti rivers and has a large variety of flora and fona. Indian Bisons, deers, peacock, elephants and rhinos are commonly seen here. You can go for a Jungle Safari here after taking permission from the forest department. Safari is taken on special vehicles and you are required to take an authorized guide with you. To enter the core area of the forest, you need to take special permission. You can also spot leopards, Malayan giant squirrel, and rock python here. The main species of birds commonly seen here are cuckoos, pheasants, woodpeckers, minivets, hornbills, orioles, mynas etc. A few migratory birds like ibis, storks and teals can also be seen here during the winters.

Gorumara National Park, Dooars
GORUMARA NATIONAL PARK
Image source - windhorsetours.com
How to reach - It is two hours drive from nearest airport Bagdogra and major railway station New Jalpaiguri. However, the nearest railway station where some important trains have halts is Malbazar, which is 20 km(12.5 mi) away. You can drive through curvy roads and lush green tea gardens, admiring the beauty all around.

3. JALDHAKA - A small calm and quiet hill station, by the side of Jaldhaka River Valley, Jaldhaka is situated on the India Bhutan border. This place will provide you a relaxed getaway as well as adventure. Mountains, treks, rivers and ethnic bazaars, you will get everything here. It is an ideal place to stay away from urban jungle. A lazy place, it will transport you into an altogether different zone. There are no major restaurants or markets around here nor are there any major tourist spots. So if you are looking for peace of mind and to rejuvenate yourself, this is the place for you. The best part is that Jaldhaka has pleasant weather all through the year though winters may be harsh.

Jaldhaka, Dooars
JALDHAKA
Image source - holidayiq
How to reach - Jaldhaka is 90 km(56 mi) from Siliguri, the nearest major city. You can get taxis from here to reach Jaldhaka.

4. SAMSING - This is a paradise for nature lovers. Situated at an altitude of 3000 ft, Samsing is quite a picturesque place. As you ride uphill through the rolling hill slopes in the midst the tea gardens, the eye catching beauty all around will mesmerize you. Though the road is narrow but there is very less traffic as the road ends at Samsing. There are two forest bungalows here in the midst of forest, where you can stay. The hills in the background and a view of various streams flowing all around is a treat to watch. And the chirping of birds and the sound of water flowing noisily from river Murti around here, in the morning makes the start of the day very pleasant. Several trek routes originate from Suntalekhola near here.

Samsing, Jalpaiguri
SAMSING
Image source - jalpaigurionline

How to reach - Samsing is again at a distance of 82 km (51 mi) from Siliguri and can be reached by taxis from there.

5. BINDU - It is the last hamlet of West Bengal. The road leading to Bindu is itself an experience. Situated on the banks of river Jaldhaka, it is a valley nestled between hills of Bhutan and India. The beauty of the area is enough to freshen up your mind and feast your eyes. The whole area is covered with green vegetation with hills on one side. You may encounter wildlife also on your way to Bindu. You will see Elaichi(Cardamom) and Suntala(Orange) plantations on both sides of the road as the people here are mostly engaged in this only. You can also view a few villages of Bhutan from here.

Bindu, Dooars, India
BINDU
Image source - dooarstrip.com
How to reach - Bindu is situated 107 km(67 mi) from Siliguri and can be reached by taxis.

WHERE TO STAY - Each of the above places has decent hotels and homestays available around them. There are a few government rest houses also which are available to travelers.

Dooars is not a place but a whole region full of natural beauty and wildlife along with ample options for adventure. Apart from the above, there are plenty of more places to see, which will make your experience an unforgettable one. And you can visit it any time of the year, though monsoons are very strong here. From mid May to mid August, this region receives ample rainfall. But still, it is a once in a lifetime experience.

ENJOYYY YOUR TRAVEL!!


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 - VERY USEFUL TIPS TO SAVE MONEY IN TRAVEL

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.

Also Read: INDIA TRAVEL - SPITI VALLEY(THE HIDDEN PARADISE) - EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GOING


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.