Category Archives: Tourist Places

10 Best Places To Visit In Mcleodganj 😍

10 Best Places To Visit In Mcleodganj

Famous amongst wanderers as ‘Little Lhasa’, Mcleodganj is one of the few places in India where one can witness the perfect blend of Indian and Tibetan cultures living in harmony with each other. This hill town boasts of alluring bounties such as picturesque trekking trails, soothing weather conditions, idyllic landscapes, and vibrant culture. It’s the perfect place to witness the beauty of Himachal by exploring these 23 best places to visit in Mcleodganj during your next trip to this Himalayan wonderland.1. Triund – Crown Jewel Of DharamshalaKnown as the crown jewel of Dharamshala, Triund is one of the most popular Mcleodganj tourist places. The trek from Mcleodganj to Triund takes you through scenic landscapes and rocky terrains. Night Camping at the hilltop under the starlit sky is a visual treat that travelers can enjoy during their Triund trek.Location: Himachal Pradesh 176219Timings: AnytimeBest time to visit: May and JuneFamous For: TrekkingEntry Fee: FreeHow to reach: You will first have to reach the Gullu Temple from where you can start your trek to Triund which is around 6 kms away.2. Bhagsu Falls – Paradisiacal SceneryBhagsu Falls, the most popular Mcleodganj waterfall, is known for its lush green surroundings, and paradisiacal scenery. Located in the quaint village of Bhagsu, it is one of the best places to visit in Mcleodganj where travelers can take a dip in the freezing water, click pictures, and savor lip-smacking food at nearby cafes.Location: Trail to Shri Gunna Devi Mandir, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219Timings: Open 24 hoursBest time to visit: March to JuneFamous For: SightseeingEntry Fee: FreeHow to reach: The falls are located at a distance of only 2 kilometers from the main market so one can easily walk to these waterfalls.3.Nechung Monastery – Awe Inspiring ViewDedicated to the Goddess Kali, Guna Devi Temple is one of the most popular places to visit near Mcleodganj. Surrounded by lush green Oak, and Deodar trees, this temple does not only have a mystical significance but also allows travelers to cherish the mesmerizing views of the Kangra valley.Location: Naddi Village, DharamsalaBest time to visit: October to DecemberFamous For: SightseeinHow to reach: The temple is located at a distance of 4 kilometers from Naddi. You can take a cab to reach half way and from there you will have to opt for a trek.4.Sunset Point – Cherish Enthralling ViewsAs the name suggests, Sunset Point provides enthralling views of the setting sun that slowly dips down behind the majestic Dhauladhar ranges. It is one of the best places to visit in Mcleodganj Himachal Pradesh for photographers, and nature enthusiasts, where they can relish an exhilarating view of the Naddi Village.Location: Naddi Village, DharamsalaTimings: SunsetBest time to visit: October to FebruaryFamous For: Mesmerizing viewsEntry Fee: FreeHow to reach: Take a cab from Mcleodganj and reach the sunset point. On the way, you will also get to see Dal Lake where you can take a pit stop.5.St. John’s Church – Known For Rock Solid ArchitectureDepicting authentic neo-Gothic architecture, St. John’s church is among the top Mcleodganj tourist attractions. Dedicated to John – the Baptist, this church is embedded in the forest area of Forsyth Ganj, and is known for its rock-solid architecture, wild surroundings, and pacifying vibes.Location: Naddi Village to Mcleodganj RoadTimings: 7 am to 7 pmBest time to visit: October to FebruaryFamous For: SightseeingEntry Fee: FreeHow to reach: The best way to reach this church is by taking a cab ride from Mcleodganj.5. InrPas – An Offbeat Placenown for its venturesome trekking trail, Indrahar pass is one of the best places to visit in Mcleodganj for travelers who wish to explore offbeat places. Situated at an altitude of 4,342 meters, the Indrahar pass offers breathtaking views of the Himalayan ranges and an extensive floral diversity of the surrounding hills.Location: Dhar Alangari, Himachal Pradesh 176219Best time to visit: May and JuneFamous For: TrekkingHow to reach: The most appropriate3 way to reach Indrahar pass from Mcleodganj is by road or railways.6. Vipassana Meditation Centre – Find Peace Of MindNestled by the Dhauladhar ranges, Vipassana Meditation Centre in Dharamkot is an oasis of peace, and tranquility. It is one of the best attractions in Mcleodganj where travelers can find peace of mind amidst the soothing Himalayan mountains, far from the hustle and bustle of the cities.Location: Kangra, McLeodganj, DharamsalaTimings: 9:30 to 11:30am, 12:30 to 4pm (Closed on Sunday)Best time to visit: October to FebruaryFamous For: Tranquil environsHow to reach: The center is located at a distance of 8 kms which can be covered with a cab ride.7.Maharana Pratap Sagar Lake – Bird WatchingAlso known as Pong Dam Lake, Maharana Pratap Sagar is an artificial lake arising from the reservoir built across the Beas river. It is one of the best places to visit in Mcleodganj where tourists can indulge in activities such as boating, fishing, and bird watching amidst a picturesque landscape of alluring mountains.Location: Kangra district, Himachal PradeshBest time to visit: October to FebruaryFamous For: SightseeingHow to reach: The lake is sitauated at a distance of 100 kms which can be covered via a cab ride.8. Dharamkot – A Quaint TownDharamkot is a less known but beautiful hippie village situated very close to Mcleodganj in Dharamshala. Also known as the Yoga Village, this quaint town makes up for one of the most excellent places of interest in Mcleodganj owing to its untouched and untampered beauty and no crowd of tourists.If you’re looking for nothing more than relaxation, peace and quiet, as well as stunning views of the mighty Dhauladhar ranges to greet you every morning, then this tiny hamlet is the perfect place for you to head to! It’s also home to the Dhamma Sikhara Vipassana Meditation Centre and Tushita Buddhist Meditation Centre where you can have a peaceful and refreshing yoga retreat amidst the goodness of nature and a blissful weather!Location: Himachal PradeshTimings: AnytimeBest time to visit: September to JuneFamous for: Beautiful sceneriesEntry Fee: NilHow to reach: You can just take a bus or auto rickshaw from anywhere in Mcleodganj to get Dharamkot, which is just 2 km away from Mcleodganj.9. Kareri Lake – Admire The Natural BeautyKareri Dal Lake in Dharamshala exuding serenity and tranquilityLocated in a high altitude area, Kareri Lake is one of the famous tourist places in Mcleodganj. This freshwater lake is frequently visited by tourists to capture the scenic beauties. The lake starts from Mcleodganj and leads up to the Karen village. Not only the lake is a great place to admire the natural beauty but also an excellent place for photography and trekking. Snow, being the main water source, the lake water is crystal clear.Location: Dharamshala, Kangra DistrictTimings: AnytimeBest time to visit: May to July and September to NovemberFamous For: Trekking and photographyHow to reach: To reach the lake you will have to opt for a trek.10.Kangra Fort – A Royal PalaceAnother popular Mcleodganj tourist places, Kangra Fort is a royal palace built by the royal Katoch dynasty. It is amongst the oldest architecture in India. A witness to numerous evolution, wars and invasions, it is a perfect place for historians and photographers who are looking to dig up India’s past. Enjoy the magnificent view of the Manjhi and Banganga rivers from the Kangra Fort.This majestic sample of architecture, without a doubt is one of the best places to see in Mcleodganj.Location: Old Kangra, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh 176001Timings: 9 am to 5:30 pmEntry fee: INR 100 per personBest time to visit: September to NovemberFamous For: Majestic architectureHow to reach: The fort is located at a distance of 28 kms which can be reached by a simple taxi ride.

Beauty of uttarakhand 😍

उत्तराखण्ड (पूर्व नाम उत्तरांचल), उत्तर भारत में स्थित एक राज्य है जिसका निर्माण ९ नवम्बर २००० को कई वर्षों के आन्दोलन के पश्चात भारत गणराज्य के सत्ताइसवें राज्य के रूप में किया गया था। सन २००० से २००६ तक यह उत्तरांचल के नाम से जाना जाता था। जनवरी २००७ में स्थानीय लोगों की भावनाओं को ध्यान में रखते हुए राज्य का आधिकारिक नाम बदलकर उत्तराखण्ड कर दिया गया। राज्य की सीमाएँ उत्तर में तिब्बत और पूर्व में नेपाल से लगी हैं। पश्चिम में हिमाचल प्रदेश और दक्षिण में उत्तर प्रदेश इसकी सीमा से लगे राज्य हैं। सन २००० में अपने गठन से पूर्व यह उत्तर प्रदेश का एक भाग था। पारम्परिक हिन्दू ग्रन्थों और प्राचीन साहित्य में इस क्षेत्र का उल्लेख उत्तराखण्ड के रूप में किया गया है। हिन्दी और संस्कृत में उत्तराखण्ड का अर्थ उत्तरी क्षेत्र या भाग होता है। राज्य में हिन्दू धर्म की पवित्रतम और भारत की सबसे बड़ी नदियों गंगा और यमुना के उद्गम स्थल क्रमशः गंगोत्री और यमुनोत्री तथा इनके तटों पर बसे वैदिक संस्कृति के कई महत्त्वपूर्ण तीर्थस्थान हैं।देहरादून, उत्तराखण्ड की अन्तरिम राजधानी होने के साथ इस राज्य का सबसे बड़ा नगर है। गैरसैण नामक एक छोटे से कस्बे को इसकी भौगोलिक स्थिति को देखते हुए भविष्य की राजधानी के रूप में प्रस्तावित किया गया है किन्तु विवादों और संसाधनों के अभाव के चलते अभी भी देहरादून अस्थाई राजधानी बना हुआ है।राज्य का उच्च न्यायालय नैनीताल में है।राज्य सरकार ने हाल ही में हस्तशिल्प और हथकरघा उद्योगों को बढ़ावा देने के लिये कुछ पहल की हैं। साथ ही बढ़ते पर्यटन व्यापार तथा उच्च तकनीकी वाले उद्योगों को प्रोत्साहन देने के लिए आकर्षक कर योजनायें प्रस्तुत की हैं। राज्य में कुछ विवादास्पद किन्तु वृहत बाँध परियोजनाएँ भी हैं जिनकी पूरे देश में कई बार आलोचनाएँ भी की जाती रही हैं, जिनमें विशेष है भागीरथी-भीलांगना नदियों पर बनने वाली टिहरी बाँध परियोजना। इस परियोजना की कल्पना १९५३ मे की गई थी और यह अन्ततः २००७ में बनकर तैयार हुआ। उत्तराखण्ड, चिपको आन्दोलन के जन्मस्थान के नाम से भी जाना जाता है।फुरसती, साहसिक और धार्मिक पर्यटन उत्तराखण्ड की अर्थव्यस्था में महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाते हैं, जैसे जिम कॉर्बेट राष्ट्रीय उद्यान और बाघ संरक्षण-क्षेत्र और नैनीताल, अल्मोड़ा, कसौनी, भीमताल, रानीखेत और मसूरी जैसे निकट के पहाड़ी पर्यटन स्थल जो भारत के सर्वाधिक पधारे जाने वाले पर्यटन स्थलों में हैं। पर्वतारोहियों के लिए राज्य में कई चोटियाँ हैं, जिनमें से नंदा देवी, सबसे ऊँची चोटी है और १९८२ से अबाध्य है। अन्य राष्टीय आश्चर्य हैं फूलों की घाटी, जो नंदा देवी के साथ मिलकर यूनेस्को विश्व धरोहर स्थल है।उत्तराखण्ड में, जिसे “देवभूमि” भी कहा जाता है, हिन्दू धर्म के कुछ सबसे पवित्र तीर्थस्थान है और हज़ार वर्षों से भी अधिक समय से तीर्थयात्री मोक्ष और पाप शुद्धिकरण की खोज में यहाँ आ रहे हैं। गंगोत्री और यमुनोत्री, को क्रमशः गंगा और यमुना नदियों के उदग्म स्थल हैं, केदारनाथ (भगवान शिव को समर्पित) और बद्रीनाथ (भगवान विष्णु को समर्पित) के साथ मिलकर उत्तराखण्ड के छोटा चार धाम बनाते हैं, जो हिन्दू धर्म के पवित्रतम परिपथ में से एक है। हरिद्वार के निकट स्थित ऋषिकेश भारत में योग क एक प्रमुख स्थल है और जो हरिद्वार के साथ मिलकर एक पवित्र हिन्दू तीर्थ स्थल है।हरिद्वार में संध्या आरती के समय हर की पौड़ी का एक दृश्य।हरिद्वार में प्रति बारह वर्षों में कुम्भ मेले का आयोजन किया जाता है जिसमें देश-विदेश से आए करोड़ो श्रद्धालू भाग लेते हैं। राज्य में मंदिरों और तीर्थस्थानों की बहुतायत है, जो स्थानीय देवताओं या शिवजी या दुर्गाजी के अवतारों को समर्पित हैं और जिनका सन्दर्भ हिन्दू धर्मग्रन्थों और गाथाओं में मिलता है। इन मन्दिरों का वास्तुशिल्प स्थानीय प्रतीकात्मक है और शेष भारत से थोड़ा भिन्न है। जागेश्वर में स्थित प्राचीन मन्दिर (देवदार वृक्षों से घिरा हुआ १२४ मन्दिरों का प्राणंग) एतिहासिक रूप से अपनी वास्तुशिल्प विशिष्टता के कारण सर्वाधिक महत्वपूर्ण हैं। तथापि, उत्तराखण्ड केवल हिन्दुओं के लिए ही तीर्थाटन स्थल नहीं है। हिमालय की गोद में स्थित हेमकुण्ड साहिब, सिखों का तीर्थ स्थल है। मिंद्रोलिंग मठ और उसके बौद्ध स्तूप से यहाँ तिब्बती बौद्ध धर्म की भी उपस्थिति है।पर्यटन स्थलउत्तराखण्ड में बहुत से पर्यटन स्थल है जहाँ पर भारत ही नहीं बल्कि पूरी दुनिया से पर्यटक आते हैं, जैसे नैनीताल और मसूरी। राज्य के प्रमुख पर्यटन स्थल हैं:केदारनाथ नैनीताल गंगोत्री यमुनोत्री बद्रीनाथ अल्मोड़ा ऋषिकेश हेमकुण्ड साहिब नानकमत्ताफूलों की घाटी मसूरी देहरादून हरिद्वारऔलीचक राता रानीखेत बागेश्वर भीमताल कौसानीलैंसडाउनरहन-सहनउत्तराखण्ड एक पहाड़ी प्रदेश है। यहाँ ठण्ड बहुत होती है इसलिए यहाँ लोगों के मकान पक्के होते हैं। दीवारें पत्थरों की होती है। पुराने घरों के ऊपर से पत्थर बिछाए जाते हैं। वर्तमान में लोग सीमेण्ट का उपयोग करने लग गए है। अधिकतर घरों में रात को रोटी तथा दिन में भात (चावल) खाने का प्रचलन है। लगभग हर महीने कोई न कोई त्योहार मनाया जाता है। त्योहार के बहाने अधिकतर घरों में समय-समय पर पकवान बनते हैं। स्थानीय स्तर पर उगाई जाने वाली गहत, रैंस, भट्ट आदि दालों का प्रयोग होता है। प्राचीन समय में मण्डुवा व झुंगोरा स्थानीय मोटा अनाज होता था। अब इनका उत्पादन बहुत कम होता है। अब लोग बाजार से गेहूं व चावल खरीदते हैं। कृषि के साथ पशुपालन लगभग सभी घरों में होता है। घर में उत्पादित अनाज कुछ ही महीनों के लिए पर्याप्त होता है। कस्बों के समीप के लोग दूध का व्यवसाय भी करते हैं। पहाड़ के लोग बहुत परिश्रमी होते है। पहाड़ों को काट-काटकर सीढ़ीदार खेत बनाने का काम इनके परिश्रम को प्रदर्शित भी करता है। पहाड़ में अधिकतर श्रमिक भी पढ़े-लिखे है, चाहे कम ही पढ़े हों। इस कारण इस राज्य की साक्षरता दर भी राष्ट्रीय औसत से कहीं अधिक है।त्यौहारशेष भारत के समान ही उत्तराखण्ड में पूरे वर्षभर उत्सव मनाए जाते हैं। भारत के प्रमुख उत्सवों जैसे दीपावली, होली, दशहरा इत्यादि के अतिरिक्त यहाँ के कुछ स्थानीय त्योहार हैं।देवीधुरा मेला (देवीधुरा, चम्पावत)पूर्णागिरी मेला (टनकपुर, चम्पावत)नन्दा देवी मेला (अल्मोड़ा)गौचर मेला (गौचर, चमोली)वैशाखी (उत्तरकाशी)माघ मेला (उत्तरकाशी)उत्तरायणी मेला (बागेश्वर)विशु मेला (जौनसार बावर)हरेला (कुमाऊँ)गंगा दशहरानन्दा देवी राजजात यात्रा जो हर बारहवें वर्ष होती हैखानपानइन्हें भी देखें: पहाड़ी खाना एवं भारतीय खानाउत्तराखण्डी खानपान का अर्थ राज्य के दोनों मण्डलों, कुमाऊँ और गढ़वाल, के खानपान से है। पारम्परिक उत्तराखण्डी खानपान बहुत पौष्टिक और बनाने में सरल होता है। प्रयुक्त होने वाली सामग्री सुगमता से किसी भी स्थानीय भारतीय किराना दुकान में मिल जाती है।यहाँ के कुछ विशिष्ट खानपान हैआलू टमाटर का झोलचैंसूझोईकापिलूमंण्डुए की रोटीपीनालू की सब्जीबथुए का पराँठाबाल मिठाईसिसौंण का सागगौहोत की दालवेशभूषापारम्परिक रूप से उत्तराखण्ड की महिलायें घाघरा तथा आँगड़ी, तथा पुरूष चूड़ीदार पजामा व कुर्ता पहनते थे। अब इनका स्थान पेटीकोट, ब्लाउज व साड़ी ने ले लिया है। जाड़ों (सर्दियों) में ऊनी कपड़ों का उपयोग होता है। विवाह आदि शुभ कार्यो के अवसर पर कई क्षेत्रों में अभी भी सनील का घाघरा पहनने की परम्परा है। गले में गलोबन्द, चर्‌यो, जै माला, नाक में नथ, कानों में कर्णफूल, कुण्डल पहनने की परम्परा है। सिर में शीषफूल, हाथों में सोने या चाँदी के पौंजी तथा पैरों में बिछुए, पायजेब, पौंटा पहने जाते हैं। घर परिवार के समारोहों में ही आभूषण पहनने की परम्परा है। विवाहित औरत की पहचान गले में चरेऊ पहनने से होती है। विवाह इत्यादि शुभ अवसरों पर पिछौड़ा पहनने का भी यहाँ चलन आम है।लोक कलाएँलोक कला की दृष्टि से उत्तराखण्ड बहुत समृद्ध है। घर की सजावट में ही लोक कला सबसे पहले देखने को मिलती है। दशहरा, दीपावली, नामकरण, जनेऊ आदि शुभ अवसरों पर महिलाएँ घर में ऐंपण (अल्पना) बनाती है। इसके लिए घर, ऑंगन या सीढ़ियों को गेरू से लीपा जाता है। चावल को भिगोकर उसे पीसा जाता है। उसके लेप से आकर्षक चित्र बनाए जाते हैं। विभिन्न अवसरों पर नामकरण चौकी, सूर्य चौकी, स्नान चौकी, जन्मदिन चौकी, यज्ञोपवीत चौकी, विवाह चौकी, धूमिलअर्ध्य चौकी, वर चौकी, आचार्य चौकी, अष्टदल कमल, स्वास्तिक पीठ, विष्णु पीठ, शिव पीठ, शिव शक्ति पीठ, सरस्वती पीठ आदि परम्परागत रूप से गाँव की महिलाएँ स्वयं बनाती है। इनका कहीं प्रशिक्षण नहीं दिया जाता है। हरेले आदि पर्वों पर मिट्टी के डिकारे बनाए जाते है। ये डिकारे भगवान के प्रतीक माने जाते है। इनकी पूजा की जाती है। कुछ लोग मिट्टी की अच्छी-अच्छी मूर्तियाँ (डिकारे) बना लेते हैं। यहाँ के घरों को बनाते समय भी लोक कला प्रदर्षित होती है। पुराने समय के घरों के दरवाजों व खिड़कियों को लकड़ी की सजावट के साथ बनाया जाता रहा है। दरवाजों के चौखट पर देवी-देवताओं, हाथी, शेर, मोर आदि के चित्र नक्काशी करके बनाए जाते है। पुराने समय के बने घरों की छत पर चिड़ियों के घोंसलें बनाने के लिए भी स्थान छोड़ा जाता था। नक्काशी व चित्रकारी पारम्परिक रूप से आज भी होती है। इसमें समय काफी लगता है। वैश्वीकरण के दौर में आधुनिकता ने पुरानी कला को अलविदा कहना प्रारम्भ कर दिया। अल्मोड़ा सहित कई स्थानों में आज भी काष्ठ कला देखने को मिलती है। उत्तराखण्ड के प्राचीन मन्दिरों, नौलों में पत्थरों को तराश कर (काटकर) विभिन्न देवी-देवताओं के चित्र बनाए गए है। प्राचीन गुफाओं तथा उड्यारों में भी शैल चित्र देखने को मिलते हैं।उत्तराखण्ड की लोक धुनें भी अन्य प्रदेशों से भिन्न है। यहाँ के बाद्य यन्त्रों में नगाड़ा, ढोल, दमुआ, रणसिंग, भेरी, हुड़का, बीन, डौंरा, कुरूली, अलगाजा प्रमुख है। ढोल-दमुआ तथा बीन बाजा विशिष्ट वाद्ययन्त्र हैं जिनका प्रयोग आमतौर पर हर आयोजन में किया जाता है। यहाँ के लोक गीतों में न्योली, जोड़, झोड़ा, छपेली, बैर व फाग प्रमुख होते हैं। इन गीतों की रचना आम जनता द्वारा की जाती है। इसलिए इनका कोई एक लेखक नहीं होता है। यहां प्रचलित लोक कथाएँ भी स्थानीय परिवेश पर आधारित है। लोक कथाओं में लोक विश्वासों का चित्रण, लोक जीवन के दुःख दर्द का समावेश होता है। भारतीय साहित्य में लोक साहित्य सर्वमान्य है। लोक साहित्य मौखिक साहित्य होता है। इस प्रकार का मौखिक साहित्य उत्तराखण्ड में लोक गाथा के रूप में काफी है। प्राचीन समय में मनोरंजन के साधन नहीं थे। लोकगायक रात भर ग्रामवासियों को लोक गाथाएं सुनाते थे। इसमें मालसाई, रमैल, जागर आदि प्रचलित है। अभी गाँवों में रात्रि में लगने वाले जागर में लोक गाथाएं सुनने को मिलती है। यहां के लोक साहित्य में लोकोक्तियाँ, मुहावरे तथा पहेलियाँ (आंण) आज भी प्रचलन में है। उत्तराखण्ड का छोलिया नृत्य काफी प्रसिद्ध है। इस नृत्य में नृतक लबी-लम्बी तलवारें व गेण्डे की खाल से बनी ढाल लिए युद्ध करते है। यह युद्ध नगाड़े की चोट व रणसिंह के साथ होता है। इससे लगता है यह राजाओं के ऐतिहासिक युद्ध का प्रतीक है। कुछ क्षेत्रों में छोलिया नृत्य ढोल के साथ शृंगारिक रूप से होता है। छोलिया नृत्य में पुरूष भागीदारी होती है। कुमाऊँ तथा गढ़वाल में झुमैला तथा झोड़ा नृत्य होता है। झौड़ा नृत्य में महिलाएँ व पुरूष बहुत बड़े समूह में गोल घेरे में हाथ पकड़कर गाते हुए नृत्य करते है। विभिन्न अंचलों में झोड़ें में लय व ताल में अन्तर देखने को मिलता है। नृत्यों में सर्प नृत्य, पाण्डव नृत्य, जौनसारी, चाँचरी भी प्रमुख है।उत्तराखंड एक् विविधता का दर्शन देता हैं|उत्तराखंड साहि मैं भारत की सही अनुभुती हैं|

GOA

Reimagining  Goa was an experience that was soulful. Goa was like food for the soul. So quiet in contrast to the hip and happening place shown on any travelogue or advertisement. I never assumed that it would be such an enjoyable turnout. The lush green scenery was a feast for the eyes. Although it was a problem that we couldn’t get a driver given to the situation prevailing in South Goa due to the Taxi Unions which were very strong and did not allow Uber or Ola to ply. But that paved the way for my father to drive the car!  It felt good to drive alongside greenery and beautiful pristine waters and streams. I was at first perplexed to see the weird houses with roofs slanting and jutted out, but then I started to realize and recognize the beauty behind it. The colorful and energetic colors of the houses complimented the cheerful nature of the people there. The first day was a little troublesome as we had lost our way of trying to reach the sterling. Finally, when we did make it to our destination, it was worth the trouble. Starting from the view to the helpful staff, all of this made me feel like Goa was meant to be like a  home away from home. The first tour to the beach made a lasting impression as it was very soothing as well as peaceful. The white sands of the beach had a warm glow to it. Overall it was a very relaxing trip to the Varca beach. We ended our day by having an appetizing meal as well as a sound sleep.

For our second day in Goa we decided that wandering around the beach would be the safest bet for us as there were not many places we were familiar with. The second beach in Panjim was just like we had imagined, with the warm wind blowing lightly but strong enough to blow your sunhats away, we had a delightful time exploring every nook and crane. After sometimes as our appetites came back even after the large breakfast we had which included chole puri, cornflakes, and tea, we went to a nearby shack to satiate our hunger. All of us were amazed at the sheer size of the prawn and crabs that were being served to us and we couldn’t control our amazement even gasping at the sight of them. After a hearty meal, we decided to visit the famous Don Bosco shrine in Panjim Goa. Many would recognize it as the most sought after place for Bollywood movie shooting to take place. After relaxing in the afternoon, we got to hear that there was a small party to be held in the sterling resort that day, so we gathered on the lawn and started mingling with the crowds. The whole theme was giving a proper Goan vibe and we could feel ourselves enjoying to the fullest. The food was also delicious enough and had a variety of dishes. After the day came to an end, we retired to our respective rooms and had a goodnight’s sleep.

Goa: The smallest state with magnificent surprises

Did you ever plan out for a vacation? If you’re in India, the first thought in your mind appears with yourself enjoying the beaches of Goa. But now, the lockdown restrictions are removed as of 2nd July 2020. If you can’t visit, don’t worry, being a Goan, I’ll take you on a virtual tour to the paradises in the state of Goa. Are you ready for the journey? Let’s go.

The foothills of Western Ghats in Goa

Imagine you are on the Hop On Hop Off Bus, a tourist double-decker bus initiative taken up by the Tourism Department of the state. I tell you the story about what is so unique here. Situated on the South-West of India with a beautiful coastline and people around 1.8 million are present in the area of 3702 sq.km. Being the smallest state of India, don’t go by numbers, it has surprises for you to fascinate with the flora, fauna and its natural biodiversity. Well, with two districts, Panaji is the capital where you will find the paintings of Mario Miranda on the walls of the Municipal Market.

A panoramic view of a beach in Goa

Okay, moving on further, don’t consider language as a barrier to communicate because English is also well-spoken with the national language Hindi. Still, the local languages most widely spoken are Konkani and Marathi. You may also find Portuguese influence in the monuments as well as in the cuisine. I’m sure you’ll be tasting out the mouth-watering food virtually too. The first thing in my mind is rice with fish curry made with love out of the Goan fishes freshly cooked, which are caught during the dawn.

Harvalem Waterfall, Sanquelim, Goa. Also, there are many natural springs present in the state.

Along with this, the famous Ross Omelet, which you will find at every street outlet and restaurant which is somewhat similar to Xacuti, but it’s a pork dish. Still, here it’s usually replaced with chicken or other vegetarian alternatives with local bread known as Pao. Other famous dishes here in Goa are Sorpotel, Vindaloo, along with some Feni, made from cashews or coconut, which may make you feel dizzy. After all, everyone usually comes here to enjoy the alcoholic drinks, but may put you in trouble if you drink them on the beaches. No problem if you’re a teetotaler; there are other alternatives.

The cruise boats with the construction of Atal Setu bridge in the background

We’re also flourished with one of the famous world heritage sites declared by UNESCO, Basilica of Bom Jesus. Also, there are other famous places like Fort Aguada, Se Catherdral, and even ancient temples like Sri Mahadeva Temple in Tambdi Surla and other religions like Jain do have their establishments. Nonetheless, to mention, the beaches of Calangute, Baga, Anjuna are some of them. Also, you can go trekking at Dudhsagar Falls. The nightlife, casinos, and cruises are to be enjoyed if you fall into that category. The lavished exotic hotels are ready to welcome you always; even the people of Goa are amicable.

A glimpse of Church of St. Cajetan, Goa Velha

Let me give you an example, Dr. Edwin Gomes, the head of the medicine department of the famous Goa Medical College (GMC). He has done an incredible job recently by showing his gratitude by hugging more than 190 patients in the hospital after they were treated and found negative for COVID-19. The tour has come to an end, and I hope you visit the state and enjoy the moments.

Interesting Facts about Ladakh

The place brings peace to soul

The Bailey Bridge in Ladakh is the highest Bridge

A Bailey bridge between the Suru River and Dras River in Ladakh, India is the highest bridge in the world at an altitude of 5,602 metres  above sea level. It was built in 1982 by the Indian

Only place in India where twin Humped camel only be found

The Bactrian camel (two-humped) is a large, even-toed ungulate native. The Bactrian camel has two humps on its back, in contrast to the single-humped dromedary camel, they are rare compared to single hump camels

Zero-Gravity Hill

Technically speaking the Magnetic Hill of Ladakh is an optical illusion. Although it looks like an uphill route, it is actually downhill. So, if you leave your vehicle in neutral and turn off the ignition, it would look like your car is being pulled uphill.

Their Own Calendar

While the rest of the world follows the Georgian calendar, the Ladakhis follow the Tibetan calendar. Under this calendar, each year has 12 months with 30 days in each. It looks pretty normal, right? Well, here is where it starts to get weird. Every third year will have 13 months. The months do not have any name and are just numbered. The days are named after the five visible planets, the sun, and the moon. That extra month in every third year is added at the time of any auspicious days and any inauspicious weeks or days are just cut off from the calendar.

Highest Desert In The World

Katpana desert is the highest desert in the world, located 2,226m above the mean sea level. This desert runs between Khaplu Valley and Nubra Valley (Ladakh)

It has the highest natural ice hockey ring:

 The Karzoo Ice Hockey Rink in Ladakh is the world’s highest natural ice hockey rink. This rink comes to life during winters when the subzero temperatures are superior throughout the day. Winter sports are popular on a wide scale on this naturally built rink. Whereas the history of this sport in Ladakh dates back to the early 70s.

The most visited “high grassland lake”

Pangong Tso means “high grassland lake” in the Tibetan language. Commonly referred to as Pangong Lake, it is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at the height of about 4,350 meters. During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being a salt lake.

JAIPUR

Location

Jaipur is the capital and the largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan. As of 2011, the city had a population of 3.1 million, making it the tenth most populous city in the country. Jaipur is also known as the Pink City, due to the dominant color scheme of its buildings. It was constructed within a period of four years and Jaipur is the only city that has been planned as per rules & regulations of the Vastu Shastra and the Shilpa Shastra. It is located 268 km (167 miles) from the national capital New Delhi.

Jaipur is a popular tourist destination in India and forms a part of the west Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Agra (240 km, 149 mi). It also serves as a gateway to other tourist destinations in Rajasthan such as Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Kota and Mount Abu. Jaipur is located 616 km from Shimla.

History

Jaipur was founded in 1727 by the Rajput ruler Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amer, after whom the city is named. It was one of the earliest planned cities of modern India, designed by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. During the British Colonial period, the city served as the capital of Jaipur State. After independence in 1947, Jaipur was made capital of the newly-formed state of Rajasthan.

On 6 July 2019, UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed Jaipur the ‘Pink City of India’ among its World Heritage Sites. The city is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Amber Fort and Jantar Mantar.

How to go?

By air: Sanganer airport is the nearest airport to the city of Jaipur. It is located at a distance of 10 kilometers from the city centre. The airport has flight connectivity with major Indian cities like Mumbai and Delhi. International tourists can take connecting flights to Jaipur from Mumbai or Delhi airport.

By rail: The railway junction at Jaipur connects it with various cities. For a royal experience one can take the Palace on Wheels. This train leaves from Delhi and connects various cities in Rajasthan.

By road: Jaipur has good network of roads connecting it with major Indian cities. NH 8, NH 11 and NH 12 are the main national highways connecting the city of Jaipur with other cities. National capital New Delhi is just 235 KM from this beautiful city while the city of the Taj Mahal, Agra, is only 220 KM from here. Other important cities include Ajmer at 130 KM, Mathura at 196 KM and Gwalior at 250 KM. There are good services of Buses and Cabs available like buses from Jaipur to Delhi bus.

Tourist Places

Amer Fort: Amber Fort, situated 11 kilometers from Jaipur, is a fort built with great artistic taste. Cradled on the top of a hill forming a beautiful reflection in Maotha Lake, it is popularly known as Amer Fort.

City Palace: Located in Jaipur, The City Palace is the main palace from where the Maharaja reigned from. The palace includes the Chandra Mahan and Mubarak Mahal along with various other buildings within the complex. It is located towards the north-eastern side of Jaipur.

Hawa Mahal: The Hawa Mahal stands at the intersection of the main road in Jaipur, Badi Chaupad. It is regarded as the signature building of Jaipur and was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh.

Jantar Mantar: Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is the largest stone astronomical observatory in the World. It is located just next to the city palace of Jaipur in Rajasthan. Built during the period between 1727 and 1733, the Jantar Mantar is still in a running condition and it stands as a witness regarding the wisdom of former age.

Nahargarh Fort: Nahargarh Fort, situated on the outer skirts of Jaipur is an epitome of great architecture and planning. Drenched with rich past, the fort allows you a picturesque view of the entire city. Built in 1734, this grand architecture is a perfect way to begin the excursion of this pink city.

Chokhi Dhani: Chokhi Dhani is a luxury heritage resort synonymous with Rajasthani village culture. It is located a little on the outskirts of the city on the Tonk Road. The concept of the village is to give you a tangible feel of rural Rajasthan. It is a true depiction of traditional Rajasthan with ancient artifacts, handicrafts, paintings, folklore and sculptures. The village offers myriad entertainment options- folk dances, singing, camel rides, puppet shows, fortune-tellers, acrobatics, predicting parrots, magic shows, horse riding, boating etc.

Bapu Bazar: Besides the plethora of palaces and forts and havelis and wildlife, Jaipur is also the ultimate shopping paradise. Among the numerous flourishing flea markets of Jaipur is the Bapu Bazaar. Situated in the heart of the Pink city between Sanganer Gate and New Gate, the market is known for its alluring Rajasthani quintessential products including textiles, handicrafts, brass works and precious stones. The bazaar attracts tourists from all over India and worldwide owing to its authenticity, diversity and giveaway price products.

Jal Mahal: Amidst the chaos of the city of Jaipur, lies the splendid Jal Mahal, or Water Palace. Floating in the centre of the Sagar Lake, this low rise symmetrical Palace was once a shooting lodge for the Maharajas. This unique palace fascinates a large number of visitors from all over the world.

Panna Meena Ka Kund: Established in the 16th century, the place is also known by many other names locally, some of which are just derivations of the original name in the local language. A baori or a stepwell is a concept solely originating from the Indian subcontinent and were the most popular source of water during the old times. These are mostly man-made pools of water that can be reached by descending a series of stairwells. Panna Meena ka Kund in Jaipur is one of the many famous stepwells that still stand in the western part of India, where they were mostly constructed. The original purpose of this Baori was to supply the locals with water for drinking and other daily needs, especially during the dry summers, as well as crop irrigation.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and set out to discover yourself back in time! Set out to go into history!

ROOPKUND: SKELETON LAKE

ROOPKUND locally known as skeleton Lake or Mysterious Lake , It’s lies in the Lap of Trishul  Massif , located in the Himalayas. It’s a high altitude glacial lake in the Uttarak hand  Roopkund is one of the important places for trekking in Chamoli District, Himalayas, near the base of two Himalayan peaks: Trisul (7,120 m) and Nanda Ghunti (6,310 m)  The Lake is flanked by a rock face named Junargali to the North and a peak named Chandania Kot to the East. Roopkund lake is covered with ice for most of the year Roopkund is known as a mystery lake and is surrounded by rock-strewn glaciers and snow-clad mountains. The lake is about two metres deep and invites hundreds of trekkers and pilgrims every year

IN 1942 A BRITISH FOREST guard in Roopkund, India made an alarming discovery. Some 16,000 feet above sea level, at the bottom of a small valley, was a frozen lake absolutely full of skeletons. That summer, the ice melting revealed even more skeletal remains, floating in the water and lying haphazardly around the lake’s edges.

SKELETON AT ROOPKUND

Something horrible had happened here. The immediate assumption (it being war time) was that these were the remains of Japanese soldiers who had died of exposure while sneaking through India. The British government, terrified of a Japanese land invasion, sent a team of investigators to determine if this was true. However upon examination they realized these bones were not from Japanese soldiers—they weren’t fresh enough. As it turns out, all the bodies date to around 850 AD. DNA evidence indicates that there were two distinct groups of people, one a family or tribe of closely related individuals, and a second smaller, shorter group of locals, likely hired as porters and guides. Rings, spears, leather shoes, and bamboo staves were found, leading experts to believe that the group was comprised of pilgrims heading through the valley with the help of the locals.The researchers concluded that the death was due to a fatal blow on the back of their heads and not due to any wound by weapons, avalanche or landslide. The marks on their skulls and shoulders indicated at being hit by something round, like a cricket ball. The absence of injuries to other body parts indicated that hard round objects, possibly cricket ball sized hail stones or ice balls, fell from above.

KASHMIR

Location

Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term “Kashmir” denoted only the Kashmir Valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal Range. Modern usage of the term encompasses a larger area that includes the Indian-administered territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and Chinese-administered territories of Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.

History

In the first half of the first millennium, the Kashmir region became an important centre of Hinduism and later of Buddhism; later still, in the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose. In 1339, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, inaugurating the Salatin-i-Kashmir or Shah Mir dynasty. Kashmir was part of the Mughal Empire from 1586 to 1751, and thereafter, until 1820, of the Afghan Durrani Empire. That year, the Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir. In 1846, after the Sikh defeat in the First Anglo-Sikh War, and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became the new ruler of Kashmir. The rule of his descendants, under the paramountcy (or tutelage) of the British Crown, lasted until the partition of India in 1947, when the former princely state of the British Indian Empire became the subject of the Kashmir conflict. The modern region is administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and China.

How to go

By air: To fly into Kashmir, take the Srinagar Airport (15 km away), which is well connected to prime Indian cities. Air India, GoAir, IndiGo and Jet Airways operate regular flights for Delhi, Goa, Jammu, Leh Mumbai and Bangalore. After reaching the airport, visitors can hire taxis to reach various cities and towns of Kashmir.

By train: Jammu Tawi Railway Station, situated at a distance of about 330 km, is the nearest railhead serving the beautiful valley of Kashmir. New Delhi-Jammu Tawi Rajdhani Express, Jammu Mail and Jammu Tawi Express are some of the prominent trains operating from Delhi. From outside the railway station, one can hire private taxis or take state or private buses to reach various places in Kashmir.

By road: The state of Kashmir is well connected by a network of state and private buses with several nearby cities and towns. National Highway 1-A connects Srinagar with Jammu. Also, the popular Jawahar Tunnel connecting Jammu with the valley of Kashmir also falls on the way. A number of J&K State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC), luxury and private deluxe buses ply frequently to and from state. These buses are extremely comfy and cost-effective.

Tourist Places

Srinagar: Srinagar is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and famous places to visit in Kashmir as well as in India. From boating to trekking, bird watching to water skiing, Srinagar place has it all. Locally this place is known as the mirror to the mountains, Srinagar is a first stopover for every traveler and there is a long list of places to visit in Srinagar, Kashmir. The largest city of Kashmir, this place is enclosed by the green mountains and the main highlight being the Dal Lake which is the gem of the city. This place gives a close outlook to the Kashmiri cuisine and the state’s culture.

Gulmarg: Famously known as the ‘Meadow of Flowers’, Gulmarg is a treat to the eyes with its spread of vibrant flowers against snow capped mountains as backgrounds. Gulmarg is considered to be one of the best places to visit in Kashmir for all right reasons. This region of Kashmir is also known as the adventurer’s paradise because of its vast options of skiing in the snow while enjoying the views around. The best time to visit Kashmir for snowfall is in winter season i.e. December-January.

Sonamarg: Sonamarg, as the name suggests, is famous as the ‘Meadow of Gold’. An endless stream of stunning flowers and undulated trekking routes are its attractions. Sonamarg has to be in every visitors’ list of places to visit in Kashmir for its mesmerizing aura and breathtaking views. The best season to visit Kashmir would be in summer i.e. May-June when the valley is blooming with variegated flowers.

Leh: Leh is one of the best and safe places to visit in Kashmir in summers. The lofty mountains, the alpine lakes, and the quaint settings enable Leh one of the best places to visit. This place is every biker’s dreamland. Clad in the beauty and love of nature, Leh offers breathtaking views, leaving no visitor disappointed. You must explore all the top places to visit in Leh when traveling to Kashmir.

Kupwara: Kupwara is a small district located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and situated at a distance of 90 kilometres from the state capital, Srinagar. Blessed with nature’s finest views, the thriving meadows, alpine mountains, and the gushing clear water make Kupwara a must-visit destination in Kashmir. This city epitomizes the beauty of Kashmir.

Why should you visit Kashmir?

Breathtaking landscapes: There would be not a single person on this planet who doesn’t love nature. We all admire nature, but no one sees it in chaotic cities. Kashmir has everything including mountains, dense forests, green meadows, grasslands, and water streams that together create wonderful scenery. From Aru Valley to Saffron fields, Zabarwan Mountain range to the Chashme Shahi, Badam Vari to Apple Garden, Almond trees to Chinar Tress, all these naturally beautiful locations make Kashmir a Heaven on Earth. Gulmarg, Pahalgam & Sonmarg are some such marvelous locations that everyone loves to visit repeatedly.

Wonderful climate: Plan your trip to Kashmir in the scorching heat of summers when the temperature rises up to 40 degrees. Kashmir is cool even in the harshest of summer and you can visit this valley between March and May to see the blooming flowers, green meadows, and Chinar trees. Overall you can experience the new phase of spring in the Valley of Kashmir. If you plan your trip in Winter Season then you will enjoy beautiful snowfall that would be an incredible experience. The snow-capped mountains fill the region with exquisite surroundings and the snow-capped trees look awesome while offering a serene feeling to everyone. Also, you can enjoy the most stunning views of sunrise and sunset at Dal Lake in Srinagar.

Pristine Lakes: Your Kashmir trip is not complete without taking a ride of Dal Lake and these lakes are the perfect reason to plan a Kashmir trip. It is one of the favorite destinations for the tourists where shutterbugs also love to capture the exquisite scenes. The houseboats and Shikaras are the most famous attraction of Dal Lake. Here, you can see the floating markets and gardens with the sweet smell of flowers and various other attractions. Apart from this, Wular Lake is also popular as the largest freshwater lake in Asia, Mansbal Lake is home to many aquatic birds and surrounded by lush greenery and mountains. Nagin Lake offers the utmost tranquil space to enjoy the serenity. The list doesn’t end here; the waterholes like Gadsar, Gangabal, Tso Moririm, Pangong and Mansar are the greatest attractions for the visitors. The different waterholes provide a perfect landscape in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.

Trekking points: Enclosed by the Great Himalaya and Pir Panjal mountain range, Kashmir Valley is the best place for camping, trekking, and mountaineering. While traveling to this gorgeous land, you will witness the most enchanting views of mountains, lakes, and meadows. Walking through the foothills, Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is popular among tourists where you will cover the lakes of Gangabal, Kishansar and Vishansar that are close to the Harnukh Peak. Aru-Valley, Kolahoi Glacier Trek and Yousmarg Trek are yet another challenge for trekkers. Kashmir is one of the best places for trekkers where fun is boundless.

Art and heritage: You can explore the past events and lifestyle of ancient Kashmiri people in the museums that hold the glory of the rich culture and heritage of the state. These museums include items like paintings, copper utensils, shawls, handicrafts, pottery, stones, arms, and metal substances that stand as proof of the rich sculptural execution of Kashmir. Some of the museums of Kashmir were palaces in old times, which got converted. You can see here some art galleries having old clothes and even a library with old books. Some famous museums of Jammu & Kashmir are Amar Mahal, Dogra Art, Sri Pratap Singh, Kanchenjunga, and Stok Palace Museum where you can check out amazing paintings, old utensils, books, musical instruments, and textiles.

PRAGUE

Location

Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 13th largest city in the European Union and the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated on the Vltava River, Prague is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 2.7 million. The city has a temperate oceanic climate, with relatively warm summers and chilly winters.

History

Prague is a political, cultural and economic centre of central Europe complete with a rich history. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras, Prague was the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, most notably of Charles IV. It was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city played major roles in the Bohemian and Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years’ War and in 20th-century history as the capital of Czechoslovakia between the World Wars and the post-war Communist era.

Prague is home to a number of well-known cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe. Main attractions include Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock, the Jewish Quarter, Petrin hill and Vysehrad. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

The city has more than ten major museums, along with numerous theatres, galleries, cinemas and other historical exhibits. An extensive modern public transportation system connects the city. It is home to a wide range of public and private schools, including Charles University in Prague, the oldest university in Central Europe.

How to go

By air: It is quite easy to travel to Prague by flight, thanks to the international airport in the city. The Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague is one of the busiest airports among the ones in the newer European Union countries. A hub for Czech Airlines, the airport is well-connected to many cities around the globe, especially other European countries, like Athens, Dublin, Moscow, Paris, Rome, London, Brussels, etc. Some of the main carriers flying these routes are Lufthansa, Czech Airlines, Emirates, Easy Jet, China Eastern Airlines etc. Travellers from the East will find it difficult to find direct flights to this exotic city. But a lot of connecting flights are easily available from many eastern countries.

By bus: Prague is easily accessible by bus from many other neighbouring European cities. Buses from international cities stop at Prague Central Florenc Bus Station. There are buses connecting various cities with Prague like London, Paris, Brussels, Vienna, Zurich, Budapest etc. The main service providers on these routes are Flixbus, Eurolines, RegioJet, Blueline-bus, National Express (London) etc. Prague is also well-connected with many national cities like Brno, Ostrava, Plzen, Liberec etc. Public transportation is the most frequently used means to reach this beautiful city.

By train: There are a number of trains connecting Prague with other cities in the European Union. Cities like London, Zurich, Vienna, Budapest, Paris, Munich, Frankfurt etc. have regular train services to Prague. With assured comfortable commute and less travel time, a lot of European tourists tend to opt for a rail journey to reach Prague. Most of these trains are run by the German railway company Deutsche Bahn.

Tourist places

Prague Castle: Located in Prague’s Hradcany neighborhood, Prague Castle once the home of Bohemia’s kings, is today the official residence of the Czech Republic’s President and one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions. Originally built as a walled fortress around AD 870, the castle has changed dramatically over the years and contains examples of most of the leading architectural styles of the last millennium. Within the castle walls are a number of Prague’s most popular tourist sites, including St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, the Powder Tower, the Old Royal Palace, and the Golden Lane.

The largest castle complex in the world, this vast fortress requires considerable time to tour, but it’s time well spent (particularly rewarding are the excellent views over the Vltava River with the old town and its many beautiful spires in the background). Highlights include the Old Royal Palace’s main hall, the Vladislav Hall, so large it could be used for jousting tournaments, and staircases wide enough to allow mounted knights to use them. Be sure to also spend time in the Royal Garden, dating back to 1534 and home to a number of superb old buildings, including the Ball Game Pavilion, the Royal Summer House with its Singing Fountain, and the Lion’s Court.

The best way to fully explore the castle is on a Prague Castle Walking Tour. One of the top things to do at night in Prague is to find a good spot from which to enjoy the castle illuminations that light this magnificent structure in a range of hues. In fact, basing yourself in a hotel in the vicinity of Prague Castle is a good idea, so you can experience the city highlights by day and night.

Charles Bridge: One of the most recognizable old bridges in Europe, magnificent Charles Bridge boasts 32 unique points of interest along its 621-meter span. Built in 1357, the bridge has long been the subject of a great deal of superstition, including the builders having laid the initial bridge stone on the 9th of July at exactly 5:31am, a precise set of numbers (135797531) believed to give the structure additional strength. For added good measure, it was constructed in perfect alignment with the tomb of St. Vitus and the setting sun on the equinox.

The bridge is particularly famous for its many fine old statues. Among the most important are those of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV and John of Nepomuk, the country’s most revered saint, unveiled in 1683 (a more recent superstition involves rubbing the plaque at the base of the statue for the granting of a wish). Other highlights include spectacular views over the River Vltava and the structure’s superb Gothic gates. Viewing Charles Bridge at night is also highly recommended.

Wenceslas Square: A highlight of Prague’s New Town district—an area that grew out of the city’s need to expand as it prospered—is the wonderful Wenceslas Square, home to the National Museum and numerous other architectural treasures. Named after the patron saint of Bohemia, whose statue can be seen here, Wenceslas Square was created in the 14th century during the reign of Charles IV as a horse market and has since become one of the city’s most important public spaces, still used for demonstrations and celebrations alike.

A visit today is a fun experience and undoubtedly one of the top free things to do in Prague, and will introduce visitors to some of the city’s best dining and restaurant experiences, as well as great shopping. If you are visiting Prague in December, it’s also the site of the city’s largest Christmas Market.

National Museum: Fresh from a seven-year-long renovation, the National Museum in Prague is spread across a number of locations and houses numerous important collections representing a variety of fields, with literally millions of items covering mineralogy, zoology, anthropology, and archaeology, as well as the arts and music. The entomology collection alone numbers more than five million specimens. The oldest museum in the Czech Republic, it was established in the early 1800s before moving to its current location in 1891.

A particularly enjoyable highlight is the archaeology exhibit with its extensive collection of 1st-and 2nd-century Roman artifacts, along with numerous Bronze and Early Iron age finds. Another museum to include on your must-visit list is the excellent National Technical Museum, which documents the many technological advances the country has contributed to, including displays of machinery and equipment built here over the years, from automobiles to aircraft.

National Gallery: Spread across some of the city’s most important architectural landmarks, the National Gallery in Prague is home to some of Europe’s most important art collections. The bulk of the collection is housed in the Veletrzni Palace a relatively modern structure built in 1925 that holds the 19th- to 21st-century works. While there’s a strong emphasis on Czech artists, foreign artists such as Monet and Picasso are included, as are other art forms such as photography, fashion, applied arts, and sculpture.

Other notable works are held in the Kinsky Palace, home to Asian art, art from the ancient world, and the gallery’s Baroque collections, and at the Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia, where you’ll find European art from the Middle Ages.

Finally, the splendid 17th-century Sternberg Palace houses some of the gallery’s most famous pieces, focusing on European art from the Classical era to the end of the Baroque period and including important ancient Greek and Roman pieces; 14th- to 16th-century Italian masterpieces; and 16th- to 18th-century works by artists such as El Greco, Goya, Rubens, van Dyck, Rembrandt, and van Goyen.

NEPAL

Location

Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a country in South Asia. It is located mainly in the Himalayas, but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. It is the 49th largest country by population and 93rd largest country by area. It is landlocked, and borders China in the north and India in the south, east and west, while Bangladesh is located within only 27 km of its southeastern tip and Bhutan is separated from it by the Indian state of Sikkim. Nepal has a diverse geography, including fertile plains, subalpine forested hills, and eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city. Nepal is a multiethnic country with Nepali as the official language.

History

The name “Nepal” is first recorded in texts from the Vedic period of the Indian subcontinent, the era in ancient India when Hinduism was founded and the predominant religion of the country. In the middle of the first millennium BCE, Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born in Lumbini in southern Nepal. Parts of northern Nepal were intertwined with the culture of Tibet. The centrally located Kathmandu Valley is intertwined with the culture of Indo-Aryans, and was the seat of the prosperous Newar confederacy known as Nepal Mandala. The Himalayan branch of the ancient Silk Road was dominated by the valley’s traders. The cosmopolitan region developed distinct traditional art and architecture. By the 18th century, the Gorkha Kingdom achieved the unification of Nepal. The Shah dynasty established the Kingdom of Nepal and later formed an alliance with the British Empire, under its Rana dynasty of premiers. The country was never colonized but served as a buffer state between Imperial China and British India. Parliamentary democracy was introduced in 1951, but was twice suspended by Nepalese monarchs, in 1960 and 2005. The Nepalese Civil War in the 1990s and early 2000s resulted in the establishment of a secular republic in 2008, ending the world’s last Hindu monarchy.

The Constitution of Nepal, adopted in 2015, affirms Nepal as a secular federal parliamentary republic divided into seven provinces. Nepal was admitted to the United Nations in 1955, and friendship treaties were signed with India in 1950 and the People’s Republic of China in 1960. Nepal hosts the permanent secretariat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), of which it is a founding member. Nepal is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Bay of Bengal Initiative. The military of Nepal is the fifth largest in South Asia; it is notable for its Gurkha history, particularly during the world wars, and has been a significant contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations.

How to go

  • Delhi to Kathmandu: If you want to fly (and get some incredible Himalayan views), Delhi to Kathmandu is the least expensive, least time-consuming route by air to Nepal (under two hours). Otherwise, the best option is to take a train to Gorakhpur and then a bus. Taking the bus all the way has become slightly more appealing since the Delhi Transport Corporation launched a direct service to Kathmandu. However, it’s still a long 25-hour haul!
  • Varanasi to Kathmandu: Many people travel overland from Varanasi to Kathmandu, either by bus, or train and bus combination. It takes less time than overland from Delhi (around 15 hours). It’s also possible to fly. However, it’s much costlier than from Delhi and there are very few direct flights.
  • Kolkata to Kathmandu: Nepal-based Buddha Air operates three direct flights a week from Kolkata to Kathmandu: on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The flights depart at 9.05 a.m. and the flight time is about 90 minutes. Expect to pay about 20,000 rupees one way. Air India also operates direct flights for a slightly cheaper cost, starting at 15,000 rupees. Alternatively, you can go by land via the Raxaul or Panitanki borders.
  • Via the Sunauli Border Crossing: Most people going overland from north India to Nepal pass through the Sunauli border to Bhairahawa in central Nepal, accessible from rather unappealing Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh (although, pleasingly, Gorakhpur has become a lot cleaner in recent years). This is the biggest and busiest India-Nepal border crossing. There are frequent connections to Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Lumbini from there.
  • Via the Raxaul Border Crossing: The Raxaul border crossing to Birganj in southern-central Nepal is accessible from Patna in Bihar. It’s most convenient for anyone traveling from Bodh Gaya or Kolkata. There are direct trains from Kolkata to Raxaul (16 hours). From Bodh Gaya, it’s quicker to take a bus or car and travel by road as opposed to train (13 hours). From the border, buses take six to seven hours to reach Kathmandu and eight hours to Pokhara. Shared jeeps to Kathmandu are a quicker option and only take four to five hours.
  • Via the Panitanki Border Crossing: The Panitanki border crossing, to Kakarbhitta in far eastern Nepal, is accessible from Siliguri in West Bengal. It’s most utilized by people traveling from Darjeeling, Kolkata, Sikkim and the rest of northeast India. Buses, taxis and shared jeeps run to the border from Siliguri, Kalimpong, and Gangtok in Sikkim. Siliguri to Panitanki (for those going from Darjeeling) takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Though the border crossing is open 24 hours, the Indian and Nepali immigration offices close are only open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. so foreigners should ensure that they arrive within this timeframe. There are regular buses to Kathmandu (14 to 16 hours) and Pokhara (15 hours) from Kakarbhitta. It’s worth stopping at Chitwan National Park on the way to break the journey. Get off the bus at Sauraha (nine hours from Kakarbhitta), which is the closest town and travel hub to the park.

Tourist Places

  • Kathmandu: Kathmandu, the capital and largest city in Nepal, is like no other city in the world. The decaying buildings in the heart of the city are a stark contrast to the lively atmosphere that permeates the streets. The smell of incense wafts from stores while street sellers push their goods, and people go about their daily lives, all against a backdrop of historic temples and carved statues. For several hundred years, Kathmandu was one of three rival royal cities, along with Bhaktapur and Patan. Situated in close proximity to each other, today these three almost run together. The highlight of Kathmandu has long been Durbar Square, the largest of the palace squares in the three royal cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Temples and monuments of varying shapes, sizes, styles, and faiths can be found here. Kathmandu’s Durbar Square was severely damaged in the 2015 earthquake, with many buildings destroyed beyond repair, but it still remains a special place to visit.
  • Bhaktapur: Bhaktapur, the third of the “Royal Cities,” lies on the old trade route to Tibet, just outside of Kathmandu. For Bhaktapur, the trade route was both an arterial link and major source of wealth. Its relative remoteness at the time allowed the city to develop independently and in ways which distinguish it from the other two cities. In contrast to Patan and Kathmandu, the population of Bhaktapur is primarily Hindu. The best place from which to begin a tour of the city is Durbar Square, where in addition to the royal palace, several temples are also situated. The whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Boudhanath Stupa: The Boudhanath Stupa, just outside Kathmandu, is one of the largest stupas of its kind in the world and dates to sometime around the 6th century, possibly even earlier. Like Bhaktapur, it lies on the old trade route to Tibet and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stupa itself is a symbol of enlightenment but at Boudhanath the symbolism is particularly clear. Each different shape represents one of the five elements, earth, water, fire, air, and sphere, which are also the attributes of the five Buddhas. Brought together in the form of the stupa, their unity reflects in abstract fashion the structure of the universe itself. The stupa sustained minor damage during the 2015 earthquake and is now fully repaired.
  • Pokhara: Set at the base of the foothills and surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world – Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, and Annapurna I – Pokhara is one of Nepal’s most scenic cities. For trekkers, Pokhara is the gateway to the Himalayas and the starting point for treks to Jomsom and the Annapurna region. It’s also a wonderful spot to relax for a bit, either before or after a hiking trip. By population, it is the second largest city in Nepal after Kathmandu but still does not feel like a big city. As you travel from Kathmandu, 200 kilometers to the east, you’ll notice the much cleaner air and pleasant climate almost immediately. Lake Phewa, with its cluster of lakeside hotels, restaurants, and shops, is ideal for those looking for a little relaxation.
  • Swayambhunath: Set on a hilltop to the west of Kathmandu, Swayambhunath is the second most important shrine in the Kathmandu Valley after Boudhanath. Due to the resident monkeys that inhabit parts of the temple, it is more affectionately known as the Monkey Temple. The Swayambhu Stupa, painted with the eyes of the omnipresent god, forms the centerpiece of the temple complex. It was originally a prehistoric cult site, but the temple complex dates to the 5th century. Swayambhu plays a major part in the lives of the Vajrayana Buddhists of Northern Nepal and Tibet, but especially of the Newari Buddhists of the Kathmandu Valley.

Why visit Nepal?

  • Nepal is a country of contrasts. Spectacular natural riches combine with a vibrant culture and sense of history. Home to ten of the world’s 14 highest mountains, the country offers a magnificent setting for hiking and mountaineering, as well as some of the world’s best white water rafting.
  • With its vast range of altitudes, Nepal is also home to an incredible variety of plant and animal species, including more than 300 species of orchid. With over 800 bird varieties, it accounts for almost 10% of the world’s avian species.
  • The diverse national parks of Chitwan and Bardia encompass lowland tropical jungles and grasslands and Nepal shelters a rich variety of wildlife. The Bengal tiger, rare snow leopard, one-horned rhino and the Himalayan black bear can be seen in the remote national parks.
  • The ancient culture and traditional architecture of Kathmandu means that the city boasts no less than seven World Heritage Sites, while Nepal is famous for its scenic monasteries as well as being home to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Lord Buddha.

A wide variety of accommodation can be found, however, what we recommend and use is the award-winning property mostly in the five-star category. It is strongly recommended that you reserve all your accommodation as far in advance as possible, especially if you want to travel during their festival period.

Nepal is a wonderful, family-friendly destination, offering a range of activities for children such as tailored wildlife safaris, rafting, nature hikes and cultural excursions. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and set out to Nepal!