Destinations

GOA

Goa is a state in southwest India, bounded bygoa7 Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its western coast. It is India’s smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Goa is one of India’s richest states with a GDP per capita two and a half times that of the country. It was ranked the best placed state by the Eleventh Finance Commission for its infrastructure and ranked on top for the best quality of life in India by the National Commission on Population based on the 12 Indicators.
Panaji is the state’s capital, while Vasco da Gama is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the cultural influence of the Portuguese, who first landed in the early 16th century as merchants and conquered it soon thereafter. Goa is a former Portuguese province; the Portuguese overseas territory of Portuguese India existed for about 450 years until it was annexed by India in 1961.
Goa is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture. It has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, a biodiversity hotspot.

Tourism

Romantic GoaTourism is generally focused on the coastal areas of Goa, with decreased tourist activity inland. In 2010, there were more than two million tourists reported to have visited Goa, about 1.2 million of who were from abroad. As of 2013 Goa was the destination of choice for Indian and foreign tourists, particularly Britons and Russians, with limited means who wanted to party. The state was hopeful that changes could be made which would attract a more upscale demographic. Goa also stands 6th in Top 10 Nightlife cities in the world in a National Geographic Book. One of the biggest tourist attractions in Goa is water sports. Beaches like Baga and Calangute offer jet skiing, parasailing, banana boat rides, water scooter rides and more.
Over 450 years of Portuguese rule and the influence of the Portuguese culture present to visitors to Goa a different environment than what is to be found elsewhere in India. The state of Goa is famous for its excellent beaches, churches, and temples. The Bom Jesus Cathedral, Fort Aguada and a new wax museum on Indian history, culture and heritage in Old Goa are other tourism destinations.

Geography

Goa encompasses an area of 3,702 km2 (1,429 sq mi). It lies between the latitudes 14°53′54″ N and 15°40′00″ N and longitudes 73°40′33″ E and 74°20′13″ E. Goa is a part of the coastal country known as the Konkan, which is an escarpment rising up to the Western Ghats range of mountains, which separate it from the Deccan Plateau. The highest point is the Sonsogor, with an altitude of 1,167 meters (3,829 ft). Goa has a coastline of 101 km (63 mi).
Goa’s main rivers are Mandovi, Zuari, Terekhol, Chapora kushavati river and the Sal. The Mormugao harbour on the mouth of the River Zuari is one of the best natural harbours in South Asia. The Zuari and the Mandovi are the lifelines of Goa, with their tributaries draining 69% of its geographic area. These rivers are some of the busiest rivers in India. Goa has more than forty estuarine, eight marine and about ninety riverine islands. The total navigable length of Goa’s rivers is 253 km (157 mi). Goa has more than three hundred ancient water-tanks built during the rule of the Kadamba dynasty and over a hundred medicinal springs.
Most of Goa’s soil cover is made up of laterites rich in ferric-aluminium oxides and reddish in colour. Further inland and along the riverbanks, the soil is mostly alluvial and loamy. The soil is rich in minerals and humus, thus conducive to agriculture. Some of the oldest rocks in the Indian subcontinent are found in Goa between Molem and Anmod on Goa’s border with Karnataka. The rocks are classified as Trondjemeitic Gneiss estimated to be 3,600 million years old, dated by rubidium isotope dating. A specimen of the rock is exhibited in the Goa University.

Climate

Goa TranquilGoa features a tropical monsoon climate under the Koppen climate classification. Goa, being in the tropical zone and near the Arabian Sea, has a hot and humid climate for most of the year. The month of May is the hottest, seeing day temperatures of over 35 °C (95 °F) coupled with high humidity. The monsoon rains arrive by early June and provide respite from the heat. Most of Goa’s annual rainfall is received through the monsoons which last till late September.
Goa has a short winter season between mid-December and February. These months are marked by nights of around 21 °C (70 °F) and days of around 28 °C (82 °F) with moderate amounts of humidity. Further inland, due to altitudinal gradation, the nights are a few degrees cooler.
Museums and science centre
Goa also has a few museums, the two important ones being Goa State Museum and the Naval Aviation Museum. The aviation museum is one among three of its kind in the India, the other two being in Delhi and Bengaluru. Also, a place not well known to tourists is the Goa Science Centre, which is located in Miramar, Panjim. The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) is also located in Goa at Dona Paula.

Subdivisions

The state is divided into two districts: North Goa and South Goa. Each district is administered by a district collector, appointed by the Indian government.
Panaji is the headquarters of North Goa district and is also the capital of Goa.
North Goa is further divided into three subdivisions – Panaji, Bicholim, and Mapusa and five taluks – Tiswadi (Panaji), Bardez (Mapusa), Pernem, Bicholim, and Sattari (Valpoi),
Margao is the headquarters of South Goa district.
South Goa is further divided into four subdivisions – Margao, Mormugao (Vasco da Gama), Quepem and Ponda; and seven taluks – Mormugao, Salcete (Margao), Quepem, Canacona (Chaudi), Sanguem, Dharbandora and Ponda. (Ponda Taluka shifted from North Goa to South Goa in January 2015).
Goa’s major cities include Vasco da Gama, Margao, Panaji, Mapusa and Ponda.
Panaji is the only Municipal Corporation in Goa.
There are thirteen Municipal Councils: Margao, Mormugao (including Vasco da Gama), Pernem, Mapusa, Bicholim, Sanquelim, Valpoi, Ponda, Cuncolim, Quepem, Curchorem, Sanguem, and Canacona.

Flora and fauna

A coconut palm tree is a ubiquitous symbol of Goa. Equatorial forest cover in Goa stands at 1,424 km2 (549.81 sq mi), most of which is owned by the government. Government owned forest is estimated at 1,224.38 km2 (472.74 sq mi) whilst private is given as 200 km2 (77.22 sq mi). Most of the forests in the state are located in the interior eastern regions of the state. The Western Ghats, which form most of eastern Goa, have been internationally recognized as one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. In the February 1999 issue of National Geographic Magazine, Goa was compared with the Amazon and the Congo basins for its rich tropical biodiversity. Goa’s wildlife sanctuaries boast of more than 1512 documented species of plants, over 275 species of birds, over 48 kinds of animals and over 60 genera of reptiles.

Transportation

Air

Goa International Airport, new terminal building
Goa International Airport, is a civil enclave at INS Hansa, a Naval airfield located at Dabolim near Vasco da Gama. The airport caters to scheduled domestic and international air services. Goa has scheduled international connections to Doha, Dubai, Muscat, Sharjah and Kuwait in the Middle East by airlines like Air Arabia, Air India, GoAir, Indigo, Oman Air, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, JetKonnect and Qatar Airways. The proposed greenfield Mopa Airport will be built at Mopa in Pernem taluka.

Road

Most of Goa is well connected by roads. Goa’s public transport largely consists of privately operated buses linking the major towns to rural areas. Government-run buses, maintained by the Kadamba Transport Corporation, link major routes (like the Panjim–Margao route) and some remote parts of the state. The Corporation owns 15 bus stands, 4 depots and one Central workshop at Porvorim and a Head Office at Porvorim. In large towns such as Panjim and Margao, intra-city buses operate. However, public transport in Goa is less developed, and residents depend heavily on their own transportation, usually motorised two-wheelers and small family cars.

Motorcycle Taxi or “Pilots”

Goa has four National Highways passing through it. NH-66 (ex NH-17) runs along India’s west coast and links Goa to Mumbai in the north and Mangalore to the south. NH-4A running across the state connects the capital Panjim to Belgaum in east, linking Goa to cities in the Deccan. The NH-366 (ex NH-17A) connects NH-66 to Mormugao Port from Cortalim. The new NH-566 (ex NH-17B) is a four-lane highway connecting Mormugao Port to NH-66 at Verna via Dabolim Airport, primarily built to ease pressure on the NH-366 for traffic to Dabolim Airport and Vasco da Gama. NH-768 (ex NH-4A) links Panjim and Ponda to Belgaum and NH-4. Goa has a total of 224 km (139 mi) of national highways, 232 km (144 mi) of state highway and 815 km of district highway. National Highways in Goa are among the narrowest in the country and will remain so for the foreseeable future, as the state government has received an exemption that allows narrow national highways. In Kerala, highways are 45 meters wide. In other states National Highways are grade separated highways 60 meters wide with a minimum of four lanes, as well as 6 or 8 lane access-controlled expressways.
Hired forms of transport include taxis and, in urban areas, auto rickshaws. Another form of transportation in Goa is the motorcycle taxi, operated by drivers who are locally called “pilots”. These vehicles transport a single pillion rider, at fares that are usually negotiated. Other than buses, “pilots” tend to be the cheapest mode of transport. River crossings in Goa are serviced by flat-bottomed ferry boats, operated by the river navigation department.

Rail

Margao railway station
Goa has two rail lines one run by the South Western Railway and the other by the Konkan Railway. The line run by the South Western Railway was built during the colonial era linking the port town of Vasco da Gama, Goa with Belgaum, Hubli, Karnataka via Margao. The Konkan Railway line, which was built during the 1990s, runs parallel to the coast connecting major cities on the western coast.

Sea

The Mormugao harbour near the city of Vasco handles mineral ore, petroleum, coal, and international containers. Much of the shipments consist of minerals and ores from Goa’s hinterland. Panjim, which is on the banks of the Mandovi, has a minor port, which used to handle passenger steamers between Goa and Mumbai till the late 1980s. There was also a short-lived catamaran service linking Mumbai and Panaji operated by Damania Shipping in the 1990s.

DARJEELING

Darjeeling is a town and a municipality in Himalayan Budthe Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Lesser Himalaya at an elevation of 6,700 ft (2,042.2 m). It is noted for its tea industry, the spectacular views of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling is the headquarters of Darjeeling district which has a partially autonomous status within the state of West Bengal. It is also a popular tourist destination in India.

The development of the town dates back to the mid-19th century, when the colonial British administration set up a sanatorium and a military depot. Subsequently, extensive tea plantations were established in the region, and tea growers developed hybrids of black tea and created new fermentation techniques. The resultant distinctive Darjeeling tea is internationally recognised and ranks among the most popular of the black teas. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connects the town with the plains and has one of the few steam locomotives still in service in India.

Darjeeling has several British-style public schools, which attract pupils from India and neighbouring countries. The varied culture of the town reflects its diverse demographic milieu consisting of Gurkhas, Bhutia, Sherpas, Lepcha and other mainland Indian ethno-linguistic groups. Darjeeling, with its neighbouring town of Kalimpong, was a centre of the Gorkhaland movement (Separate State demand within India) in the 1980s. The town’s fragile ecology has been threatened by a rising demand for environmental resources, stemming from growing tourist traffic and poorly planned urbanisation.

Geography

NE DelightDarjeeling is the main town of the Sadar subdivision and also the headquarters of the district. It is located at an elevation of 6,700 ft (2,000 m) in the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region on the Darjeeling – Jalapahar range that originates in the south from Ghum. The range is Y-shaped with the base resting at Katapahar and Jalapahar and two arms diverging north of the Observatory Hill. The north-eastern arm dips suddenly and ends in the Lebong spur, while the north-western arm passes through North Point and ends in the valley near Tukver Tea Estate. The hills are nestled within higher peaks and the snow-clad Himalayan ranges tower over the town in the distance. Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak, 8,598 m (28,209 ft) high, is the most prominent mountain visible. In days clear of clouds, Nepal’s Mount Everest, 29,035 ft (8,850 m) high, can be seen. The hills of Darjeeling are part of the Lesser Himalaya. The soil is chiefly composed of sandstone and conglomerate formations, which are the solidified and up heaved detritus of the great range of Himalaya. However, the soil is often poorly consolidated (the permeable sediments of the region do not retain water between rains) and is not considered suitable for agriculture. The area has steep slopes and loose topsoil, leading to frequent landslides during the monsoons. According to the Bureau of Indian Standards, the town falls under seismic zone-IV, (on a scale of I to V, in order of increasing proneness to earthquakes) near the convergent boundary of the Indian and the Eurasian tectonic plates and is subject to frequent earthquakes.

Climate

Darjeeling has a temperate climate (subtropical highland climate) with wet summers caused by monsoon rains. The annual mean maximum temperature is 14.9 °C (58.8 °F) while the mean minimum temperature is 8.9 °C (48.0 °F), with monthly mean temperatures ranging from 6 to 18 °C (43 to 64 °F). The lowest temperature recorded was −5 °C (23 °F) on 11 February 1905. The average annual precipitation is 309.2 cm (121.7 in), with an average of 126 days of rain in a year. The highest rainfall occurs in July. The heavy and concentrated rainfall that is experienced in the region, aggravated by deforestation and haphazard planning, often causes devastating landslides, leading to loss of life and property.

Flora and fauna

Darjeeling is a part of the Eastern Himalayan zoo-geographic zone. Flora around Darjeeling comprises Sal, oak, semi-evergreen, temperate and alpine forests. Dense evergreen forests of Sal and oak lie around the town, where a wide variety of rare orchids are found. The Lloyd’s Botanical Garden preserves common and rare species of plants, while the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park specialises in conserving and breeding endangered Himalayan species. The town of Darjeeling and surrounding region face deforestation due to increasing demand for wood fuel and timber, as well as air pollution from increasing vehicular traffic.

Wildlife in the district is protected by the wildlife wing of the West Bengal Forest Department. The fauna found in Darjeeling includes several species of ducks, teals, plovers and gulls that pass Darjeeling while migrating to and from Tibet. Small mammals found in the region include civets, mongooses and badgers. The nearby Jaldapara National Park consists of semi-evergreen and Sal forests. Animals found here include the one-horned rhinoceros, elephant, tiger, leopard and hog deer, while the main bird species include the Bengal florican and herons.] A conservation centre for red pandas opened at Darjeeling Zoo in 2014, building on a prior captive breeding program.

Darjeeling “Toy Train”

 

Darjeeling can be reached by the 88 km (55 mi) long Darjeeling Himalayan Railway from New Jalpaiguri, or by National Highway 55, from Siliguri, 77 km (48 mi) away. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a 600 mm (2 ft) narrow-gauge railway that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999 for being “an outstanding example of the influence of an innovative transportation system on the social and economic development of a multi-cultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world”, becoming only the second railway in the world to have this honour. Bus A train, hauled by a steam locomotive, running beside a road between two rows of buildings with a few people walking on the road.services and hired vehicles connect Darjeeling with Siliguri and Darjeeling has road connections with Bagdogra, Gangtok and Kathmandu and the neighbouring towns of Kurseong and Kalimpong. However, road and railway communications often get disrupted in the monsoons because of landslides. The nearest airport is Bagdogra Airport, located 90 km (56 mi) from Darjeeling. Within the town, people usually traverse by walking. Residents also use two wheeler and hired taxis for travelling short distances. The Darjeeling Ropeway, functional since 1968, was closed in 2003 after an accident killed four tourists. It reopened in February 2012.

SRINAGAR

Srinagar is located on both the sides of the Kashmi Tour PackagesJhelum River, which is called Vyath in Kashmir. The river passes through the city and meanders through the valley, moving onward and deepening in the Dal Lake. The city is famous for its nine old bridges, connecting the two parts of the city.

There are a number of lakes and swamps in and around the city. These include the Dal, the Nigeen, the Anchar, Khushal Sar, Gil Sar and Hokersar. Hokersar is a wetland situated near Srinagar. Thousands of migratory birds come to Hokersar from Siberia and other regions in the winter season. Migratory birds from Siberia and Central Asia use wetlands in Kashmir as their transitory camps between September and October and again around spring. These wetlands play a vital role in sustaining a large population of wintering, staging and breeding birds.

Hokersar is 14 km (8.7 mi) north of Srinagar, and is a world class wetland spread over 13.75 km2 (5.31 sq mi) including lake and marshy area. It is the most accessible and well-known of Kashmir’s wetlands which include Hygam, Shalibug and Mirgund. A record number of migratory birds have visited Hokersar in recent years.

Birds found in Hokersar—Migratory ducks and geese which include brahminy duck, tufted duck, gadwall, garganey, greylag goose, mallard, common merganser, northern pintail, common pochard, ferruginous pochard, red-crested pochard, ruddy shelduck, northern shoveller, common teal, and Eurasian wigeon.

Climate

Kashmir EngrossSrinagar has a humid subtropical climate, much cooler than what is found in much of the rest of India, due to its moderately high elevation and northerly position. The valley is surrounded by the Himalayas on all sides. Winters are cool, with daytime a January average of 2.5 °C (36.5 °F), and temperatures below freezing at night. Moderate to heavy snowfall occurs in winter and the only road that connects Srinagar with the rest of India may get blocked for a few days due to avalanches. Summers are warm with a July daytime average of 24.1 °C (75.4 °F). The average annual rainfall is around 720 millimetres (28 in). Spring is the wettest season while autumn is the driest. The highest temperature reliably recorded is 38.3 °C (100.9 °F) and the lowest is −20.0 °C (−4.0 °F).

Tourism

Srinagar is one of several places that have been called the “Venice of the East” or the “Kashmiri Venice” Lakes around the city include Dal Lake – noted for its houseboats – and Nigeen Lake. Apart from Dal lake and Nigeen lake city is also famous for uvular lake and manasbal lake to the north of Srinagar. Uvular lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia.

Srinagar has some Mughal gardens, forming a part of those laid by the Mughal emperors across the Indian subcontinent. Those of Srinagar and its close vicinity include Chashma Shahi (the royal fountains); Pari Mahal (the palace of the fairies); Nishat Bagh (the garden of spring); Shalimar Bagh; the Naseem Bagh.

Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Botanical Garden is a botanical garden in the city, set up in 1969. The Indian government has included these gardens under “Mughal Gardens of Jammu and Kashmir” in the tentative list for sites to be included in world Heritage sites.

The Sher Garhi Palace houses administrative buildings from the state government.Another palace of the Maharajas, the Gulab Bhavan, has now become the Lalit Grand Palace hotel. The Shankaracharya Temple which lies on a hill top in the middle of the city, besides the Kheer Bhawani Temple are important Hindu temples in the city.

Transport

Road

The city is served by many highways, including National Highway 1A and National Highway 1D.

Air

Srinagar Airport (IATA code SXR) has regular domestic flights to Leh, Jammu, Chandigarh and Delhi and occasional international flights. The International flights terminal was inaugurated on 14 February 2009 with an Air India flight from Dubai. Hajj flights also operate from this airport to Saudi Arabia.

Rail

Srinagar railway station

Srinagar is a station on the 119 km (74 mi) long Kashmir railway that started in October 2009 and connects Baramulla to Srinagar, Anantnag and Qazigund. The railway track also connects to Banihal across the Pir Panjal mountains through a newly constructed 11 km long Banihal tunnel, and subsequently to the Indian railway network after a few years. It takes approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds for train to cross the tunnel. It is the longest rail tunnel in India. This railway system, proposed in 2001, is not expected to connect the Indian railway network until 2017 at the earliest, with a cost overrun of Rs 5,500 crore. The train also runs during heavy snow.

There are proposals to develop a metro system in the city. The feasibility report for the Srinagar Metro is planned to be carried out by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

Cable car

In December 2013, the 594m cable car allowing people to travel to the shrine of the Sufi saint Hamza Makhdoom on Hari Parbat was unveiled. The project is run by the Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation (JKCCC), and has been envisioned for 25 years. An investment of ₹30cr was made, and it is the second cable car in Kashmir after the Gulmarg Gondola.

Boat

Whilst popular since the 7th century, water transport is now mainly confined to Dal Lake, where shikaras (wooden boats) are used for local transport and tourism. There are efforts to revive transportation on the River Jhelum.

GANGTOK

Gangtok is a municipality, the capital and theNE Delight largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. It also is the headquarters of the East Sikkim district. Gangtok is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft). The town’s population of 100,000 belongs to different ethnicities such as Nepali, Lepchas and Bhutia. Nestled within higher peaks of the Himalaya and enjoying a year-round mild temperate climate, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim’s tourism industry.

Himalayan Drizzle Gangtok rose to prominence as a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site after the construction of the Henchmen Monastery in 1840. In 1894, the ruling Sikkimese Chogyal, Thutob Namgyal, transferred the capital to Gangtok. In the early 20th century, Gangtok became a major stopover on the trade route between Lhasa in Tibet and cities such as Kolkata (then Calcutta) in British India. After India won its independence from Britain in 1947, Sikkim chose to remain an independent monarchy, with Gangtok as its capital. In 1975, after the integration with the union of India, Gangtok was made India’s 22nd state capital.

Geography

Gangtok is located at 27.3325°N 88.6140°E (coordinates of Gangtok head post office). It is situated in the lower Himalayas at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft). The town lies on one side of a hill, with “The Ridge”, a promenade housing the Raj Bhawan, the governor’s residence, at one end and the palace, situated at an altitude of about 1,800 m (5,900 ft), at the other. The city is flanked on east and west by two streams, namely Roro Chu and Ranikhola, respectively. These two rivers divide the natural drainage into two parts, the eastern and western parts. Both the streams meet the Ranipul and flow south as the main Ranikhola before it joins the Teesta at Singtam. Most of the roads are steep, with the buildings built on compacted ground alongside them.

Himalayan DrizzleMost of Sikkim, including Gangtok, is underlain by Precambrian rocks which contains foliated phyllites and schists; slopes are therefore prone to frequent landslides. Surface runoff of water by natural streams (jhora) and man-made drains has contributed to the risk of landslides. According to the Bureau of Indian Standards, the town falls under seismic zone-IV (on a scale of I to V, in order of increasing seismic activity), near the convergent boundary of the Indian and the Eurasian tectonic plates and is subject to frequent earthquakes. The hills are nestled within higher peaks and the snow-clad Himalayan ranges tower over the town from the distance. Mount Kanchenjunga (8,598 m or 28,208 ft)—the world’s third-highest peak—is visible to the west of the city. The existence of steep slopes, vulnerability to landslides, large forest cover and inadequate access to most areas have been a major impediment to the natural and balanced growth of the city.

There are densely forested regions around Gangtok, consisting of temperate, deciduous forests of poplar, birch, oak, and elm, as well as evergreen, coniferous trees of the wet alpine zone. Orchids are common, and rare varieties of orchids are featured in flower shows in the city. Bamboos are also abundant. In the lower reaches of the town, the vegetation gradually changes from alpine to temperate deciduous and subtropical. Flowers such as sunflower, marigold, poinsettia, and others bloom, especially in November and December.

Climate

Gangtok features a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate. Because of its elevation and sheltered environment, Gangtok enjoys a mild, temperate climate all year round. Like most Himalayan towns, Gangtok has five seasons: summer, monsoons, autumn, winter and spring. Temperatures range from an average maximum of 22 °C (72 °F) in summer to an average minimum of 4 °C (39 °F) in winter. Summers (lasting from late April to June) are mild, with maximum temperatures rarely crossing 25 °C (77 °F). The monsoon season from June to September is characterised by intense torrential rains often causing landslides that block Gangtok’s land access to the rest of the country. Rainfall starts to rise from pre-monsoon in May, and peaks during the monsoon, with July recording the highest monthly average of 649.6 mm (25.6 in). In winter temperature averages between 4 °C (39 °F) and 7 °C (45 °F). Snowfall is rare, and in recent times Gangtok has received snow only in 1990, 2004, 2005 and January 2011. Temperatures below freezing are also rare. During this season the weather can be unstable, and change abruptly from bright sunshine and clear skies to heavy rain within a couple of hours. During spring and autumn the weather is generally sunny and mild. Owing to its elevation, Gangtok is often enveloped in fog during the monsoon and winter months.

Transport, Road

gang3Taxis are the most widely available public transport within Gangtok. Most of the residents stay within a few kilometres of the town centre and many have their own vehicles such as two- wheeler and cars. The share of personal vehicles and taxis combined is 98% of Gangtok’s total vehicles, a high percentage when compared to other Indian cities. City buses comprise less than one percent of vehicles. Those travelling longer distances generally make use of share-jeeps, a kind of public taxis. Four wheel drives are used to easily navigate the steep slopes of the roads. The 1 km (0.6 mi) long cable car with three stops connects lower Gangtok suburbs with Sikkim Legislative assembly in central Gangtok and the upper suburbs.

Gangtok is connected to the rest of India by an all-weather metaled highway, National Highway 10, earlier known as National Highway 31A, which links Gangtok to Siliguri, located 114 km (71 mi) away in the neighbouring state of West Bengal. The highway also provides a link to the neighbouring hill station towns of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, which are the nearest urban areas. Regular jeep, van, and bus services link these towns to Gangtok. Gangtok is a linear city that has developed along the arterial roads, especially National Highway 31and most of the road length in Gangtok, is of two lane undivided carriageway with footpath on one side of the road and drain on the other. The steep gradient of the different road stretches coupled with a spiral road configuration constrain the smooth flow of vehicular as well as pedestrian traffic.

Rail

The nearest rail head connected to the rest of India is the station of New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri, situated 124 km (77 mi) away from Gangtok. Work has commenced for a broad gauge railway link from Sevoke in West Bengal to Rangpo in Sikkim that is planned for extension to Gangtok.

Air

The closest airport is Bagdogra Airport, (IATA airport code IXB) in Siliguri, 16 km (10 mi) from Siliguri Town. Gangtok is linked to Bagdogra airport by a daily helicopter service that operates only once a day and carries four passengers. Pakyong Airport, a greenfield airport, southeast of Gangtok.

SHIMLA

shimla_india_ridgeShimla, written in British Indian records as Simla, is the capital and largest city of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla is also a district which is bounded by Mandi and Kullu in the north, Kinnaur in the east, the state of Uttarakhand in the south-east, and Solan and Sirmaur. In 1864, Shimla was declared as the summer capital of British India, succeeding Murree, northeast of Rawalpindi. After independence, the city became the capital of Punjab and was later named the capital of Himachal Pradesh. It is the principal commercial, cultural and educational centre of the hilly regions of the state. As of 2011, the city had 171,817 permanent residents, and was one of the least populous capital cities in India.

Small hamlets were recorded prior to 1815 when the English forces took control of the area. The climatic conditions attracted the British to establish the city in the dense forests of Himalayas. As the summer capital, Shimla hosted many important political meetings including the Simla Accord of 1914 and the Simla Conference of 1945. After independence, the state of Himachal Pradesh came into being in 1948 as a result of integration of 28 princely states. Even after independence, the city remained an important political centre, hosting the Simla Agreement of 1972. After the reorganisation, the Mahasu district and its major portion were merged with Shimla. Its name is derived from the goddess Shyamala Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali. As of 2011 Shimla comprises 19 hill states, namely Baghal, Baghat, Balsan, Bashahr, Bhajji, Bija, Darkoti, Dhami, Jubbal, Keonthal, Kumharsain, Kunihar, Kuthar, Mahlog, Mangal, Nalagarh (Hindur), Sangri and Tharoch.

Geography

night_view_of_shimlaShimla lies in the south-western ranges of the Himalayas at 31.61°N 77.10°E. It has an average altitude of 2,206 metres (7,238 ft) above mean sea level and extends along a ridge with seven spurs. The city stretches nearly 9.2 kilometres (5.7 mi) from east to west. Shimla was built on top of a total of seven different hills namely: Inverarm Hill, Observatory Hill, Prospect Hill, Summer Hill, Bantony Hill, Elysium Hill and Jakhoo Hill. The highest point in Shimla is the Jakhoo hill, which is at a height of 2,454 metres (8,051 ft).

The city is a Zone IV (High Damage Risk Zone) per the Earthquake hazard zoning of India. Weak construction techniques and an increasing population pose a serious threat to the already earthquake prone region. There are no bodies of water near the main city and the closest river, the Sutlej, is about 21 km (13 mi) away. Other rivers that flow through the Shimla district, although further from the city, are the Giri, and Pabbar (both tributaries of Yamuna).

The green belt in the Shimla planning area is spread over 414 hectares (1,020 acres). The main forests in and around the city are of pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron. Environmental degradation due to the increasing number of tourists every year without the infrastructure to support them has resulted in Shimla losing its popular appeal as an ecotourism spot. Another rising concern in the region are the frequent number of landslides that often take place after heavy rains.

Climate

Shimla features a subtropical highland climate (Cwb) under the Köppen climate classification. The climate in Shimla is predominantly cool during winters and moderately warm during summer. Temperatures typically range from −4 °C (25 °F) to 31 °C (88 °F) over the course of a year. The average temperature during summer is between 19 and 28 °C (66 and 82 °F), and between −1 and 10 °C (30 and 50 °F) in winter. Monthly precipitation varies between 15 millimetres (0.59 in) in November and 434 millimetres (17.1 in) in August. It is typically around 45 millimetres (1.8 in) per month during winter and spring, and around 175 millimetres (6.9 in) in June as the monsoon approaches. The average total annual precipitation is 1,575 millimetres (62 in), which is much less than most other hill stations but still much heavier than on the plains. Snowfall in the region, which historically has taken place in the month of December, has lately (over the last fifteen years) been happening in January or early February every year. The maximum snowfall received in recent times was 38.6 centimetres (15.2 in) on 18 January 2013. On two consecutive days (17 and 18 January 2013), the town received 63.6 centimetres (25.0 in) of snow.

Transport

Local transport in Shimla is by bus or private vehicles. Buses ply frequently on the circular road surrounding the city centre. Heavy local transport can be seen between Shimla and its major suburbs which include Sanjauli, Kasumpti, Summer Hill, Totu and New Shimla. Tourist taxis are also an option for out of town trips. Locals typically traverse the city on foot. Private vehicles are prohibited on the Mall, Ridge and nearby markets. Due to narrow roads and steep slopes, the auto rickshaws common in other Indian cities are largely absent.

Road

Shimla is well-connected by road. National Highway 22 (NH 22) connects Shimla to the nearest big city of Chandigarh. Shimla is connected by road to all the major towns. HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) runs 24 daily bus services between Delhi to Shimla (including 7 luxury Volvo services). Buses from Chandigarh to Shimla are available round the clock.

Air (no regular commercial flights)

Shimla Airport is at Jubbarhatti, 23 kilometres (14 mi) from the city. Currently, there are no regular commercial flights to the city. The nearest major airport is Chandigarh Airport in Chandigarh about 116 km away.

Rail

Shimla Railway Station

 The scenic Kalka Shimla Railway, a narrow gauge track, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the steepest rise in altitude in a distance of 96 km. Kalka, the plains rail terminus, has daily departures to major Indian cities. The city boasts a total of three railway stations with Shimla the main station and two others located at Summer Hill and Totu (Jutogh) respectively. It was built to connect Shimla, the summer capital of India during the British Raj, with the Indian rail system. The route is famous for its scenery and improbable construction. In 2007, the government of Himachal Pradesh declared the railway a heritage property. For about a week starting on 11 September 2007, an expert team from UNESCO visited the railway to review and inspect it for possible selection as a World Heritage Site. On 8 July 2008, the Kalka–Shimla Railway became part of the World Heritage Site Mountain Railways of India. alongside Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

GULMARG

The resort was renamed Gulmarg Kashmir Little(“meadow of flowers”) by Sultan Yusuf Shah of the Chak Dynasty who frequented the place with his queen Habba khatoon in the 16th century. Wild flowers of 21 different varieties were collected by the Mughal emperor Jahangir for his gardens in Gulmarg. In the 19th century, British civil servants started using Gulmarg as a retreat to escape summers in North Indian plains. Hunting and golfing were their favorite pastime and three golf courses were established in Gulmarg including one exclusively for women. One of the three golf courses established survives to the present day and at an altitude of 2,650 metres (8,690 ft) is the world’s highest golf course. In 1927, British established a ski club in Gulmarg and two annual ski events were hosted one each during Christmas and Easter. Central Asian explorer Aurel Stein also visited Gulmarg during this period.

Geography

Gulmarg is a town, a hill station, a popular skiing destination and a notified area committee in Baramula district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The town is situated in the Pirpanjal range in the western HimalayasGulmarg lies in a cup shaped valley in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, at an altitude of 2,650 m (8,694 ft), 56 km from Srinagar. The soil in Gulmarg comprises glacial deposits, lacustrine deposits and moraines of pleistocene era covering shales, limestones, sandstones, schists and other varieties of rocks. The natural meadows of Gulmarg, which are covered with snow in winter, allow the growth of wild flowers such as daisies, forget-me-nots and butter cups during spring and summer. The meadows are interspersed by enclosed parks and small lakes, and surrounded by forests of green pine and fir. Skiing and other winter sports in Gulmarg are carried out on the slopes of Apharwat peak at a height of 4,267 m (13,999 ft). Many points on Apharwat peak and Khilanmarg offer a panoramic view of Nanga Parbat and Harmukh mountains.

Demographics

At the 2011 Indian census, Gulmarg had a total population of 1,965 over 77 households. Male population in the town stood at 1,957 while there were only eight females and no children between the ages of 0 and 6 years. Gulmarg had an average literacy rate of 99.24%, compared to the state average of 67.16%, of which male literacy was 99.23% and female literacy was 100%. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes constituted 0.61% and 0.15% of the population respectively. Gulmarg has few permanent residents with most residents being tourists or those involved in the tourism industry. Gulmarg is also a destination for nomadic Gujjar and Bakarwal tribes which migrate to upper reaches of Himalayas during summers in search of pasture.

Tourism

Kashmir FreedomGulmarg is the “heartland of winter sports in India” and was rated as Asia’s seventh best ski destination. The town is accessible from Srinagar by road via Tangmarg. The road climbs uphill in the last 12 kilometres to Gulmarg passing through forests of pine and fir. Winter sports like skiing, tobogganing, snowboarding and heli-skiing take place on the slopes of Mount Apharwat reachable by a Gondola lift.

Gulmarg Gondola

Built by the French company Pomagalski, the Gulmarg Gondola is one of the highest in the world reaching 3,979 metres. The two-stage ropeway ferries about 600 people per hour to and from Gulmarg to a shoulder of nearby Mt. Apharwat Summit (4,200 m (13,780 ft)). The first stage transfers from Gulmarg at 2,600 m (8,530 ft) to Kongdoori at 3,080 m. The second stage which has 36 cabins and 18 towers, takes passengers to a height of 3,950 m (12,959 ft) on the Apharwat Peak (4,200 m (13,780 ft)). A chair lift system connects Kongdoori with Mary’s shoulder for taking skiers to higher altitude. The high inflow of tourists has had an effect on the fragile eco-system of Gulmarg and activists have demanded tightened regulation to save the environment of the area from over tourism.

Culture

Gulmarg has been the shooting location many Bollywood films like Bobby, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Highway, Phantom, Haider, etc. A scene in Bobby was shot in a hut in Gulmarg that later come to be known as ‘Bobby Hut’. An annual three-day Gulmarg Winter Festival is held in March. Budding artists in the fields of music, films and photography are given an opportunity to showcase their work during the festival.

Ooty

Wildlife SouthOoty is a town and municipality in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located 80 km north of Coimbatore and is the capital of the Nilgiris district. It is a popular hill station located in the Nilgiri Hills. Originally occupied by the Toda, the area came under the rule of the East India Company at the end of the 18th century. The economy is based on tourism and agriculture, along with the manufacture of medicines and photographic film. The town is connected by the Nilgiri ghat roads and Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Its natural beauty attracts tourists and it is a popular summer destination. As of 2011, the town had a population of 88,430.

Climate

Ooty features a subtropical highland climate (Cwb) under Köppen climate classification. Despite its location in the tropics, in stark contrast with most of South India, Ooty generally features pleasantly mild conditions throughout the year. However, night time in the months of January and February is typically cold. Generally, the town appears to be eternally stuck in the spring season. Temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the year; with average high temperatures ranging from about 17–20 °C (63–68 °F) and average low temperatures between approximately 5–12 °C (41–54 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded in Ooty was 25 °C (77 °F), which by South Asian standards is uncharacteristically low for an all-time record high temperature. The rainy season in Ooty is generally very cool and windy with high humidity. The wind chill may fall to as low as 5 °C (41 °F) during the day time. Wind is always high throughout the year. The lowest temperature was −2 °C (28 °F). The city sees on average about 125 cm (49 in) of precipitation annually, with a marked drier season from December through March.

Places of interest

Dolphin Peak OotyOoty is situated in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Many of the forested areas and water bodies are off-limits to most visitors to protect this fragile ecosystem. Some areas of the Biosphere Reserve have been earmarked for tourism development, and steps are being undertaken to open these areas to visitors whilst conserving the area. It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,350 feet) above sea level.

The Government rose garden (formerly Centenary Rose Park) is the largest rose garden in India. It is situated on the slopes of the Elk Hill in Vijayanagaram of Ooty town in Tamil Nadu, India at an altitude of 2200 meters. Ooty Botanical Gardens was laid out in 1847 and is maintained by the Government of Tamil Nadu. The Botanical Garden is lush, green, and well-maintained. A flower show along with an exhibition of rare plant species is held every May. The gardens have around a thousand species, both exotic and indigenous, of plants, shrubs, ferns, trees, herbal and bonsai plants. The garden has a 20-million-year-old fossilised tree.

Doddabetta is the highest peak (2,623 m) in the Nilgiris, about 10 km from Ooty. It lies at the junction of the Western and Eastern Ghats surrounded by dense Sholas. Pine forests situated between Ooty and Thalakunda is a small downhill region where pine trees are arranged in an orderly fashion. Wenlock Downs is a grassland area typical of the original bioscape of the Nilgiris with gently undulating hills. Mudumalai National Park and tiger reserve lies on the north western side of the Nilgiri Hills. The sanctuary is divided into 5 ranges – Masinagudi, Thepakadu, Mudumalai, Kargudi and Nellakota.

The Tribal Museum is part of the campus of Tribal Research Centre which is in Muthorai Palada (10 km from Ooty town). It is home to rare artefacts and photographs of tribal groups of Tamil Nadu as well as Andaman and Nicobar Islands and anthropological and archaeological primitive human culture and heritage. The Tribal Museum also displays houses belonging to Toda, Kota, Paniya, Kurumba and Kanikarans.

Transport

Road

Main article: Ooty bus stand

Ooty is well connected roads. It is 535 km (332 mi) from Chennai (via Salem, Erode, and Coimbatore), 80 km (50 mi) from Coimbatore and 155 km (96 mi) from Mysore. Ooty is situated on NH 67 and is connected by road via the five main accepted Nilgiri Ghat Roads. Bus services operated by TNSTC connect major towns in the state and nearby towns in the district such as Coonoor, Kotagiri, and Gudalur.

Rail

Udhagamandalam railway station is connected with Mettupalayam by NMR metre gauge service. In 1882, a Swiss engineer named Arthur Riggenbach came to the Nilgiri Hills on an invitation from Government of India and he submitted an estimate for a line costing GB£132,000. The Nilgiri Railway Company was formed in 1885 and planning work commenced in 1886. The work on the line commenced in August 1891 and the Mettupalayam – Coonoor section of the track was opened for traffic on 15 June 1899. In January 1903, the Indian Government purchased the line, and took over the construction of the extension from Coonoor to Ooty.

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was operated by the Madras Railway until 31 December 1907 on the behalf of the Government. In January 1908, the railway line was handed over to South Indian Railway. The line from Coonoor to Ooty was completed in 1908. On October 15, Arthur Lawley, Governor of Madras opened the new railway to traffic. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) is one of the oldest mountain railways in India and was declared by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in July 2005. It is the only rack railway in India, and uses the Abt system.

Air

The nearest airport is Coimbatore, around 96 km (60 mi) away. Ooty has three helipads, one at Theettukal and two at Kodanad. The Theettukal helipad was approved by Airports Authority of India for defence and VIP services. Pawan Hans was supposed to start its service with Bell 407, but being present amidst farmland, dislocation of the farm animals there has put the operations on hold for commercial activities.

Delhi

Red Fort DelhiDelhi, officially the National Capital Territory of Delhi, is a city and a union territory of India. It is bordered by Haryana on three sides and by Uttar Pradesh to the east. It is the most expansive city in India—about 1,484 square kilometers (573 sq mi). It has a population of about 25 million, making it the second most populous city after Mumbai and most populous urban agglomeration in India and 3rd largest urban area in the world. Such is the nature of urban expansion in Delhi that its growth has expanded beyond the NCT to incorporate towns in neighbouring states and at its largest extent can count a population of about 25 million residents as of 2014.

Delhi has been continuously inhabited since the 6th century BC. Through most of its history, Delhi has served as a capital of various kingdoms and empires. It has been captured, ransacked and rebuilt several times, particularly during the medieval period, and modern Delhi is a cluster of a number of cities spread across the metropolitan region.

Delhi and its urban region have been given the special status of National Capital Region (NCR) under the Constitution of India’s 69th Amendment Act of 1991. The NCR includes the neighbouring cities of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad, Neharpar (Greater Faridabad), Greater Noida, Bahadurgarh, Sonepat, Panipat, Karnal, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Rewari, Baghpat, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Alwar, Bharatpur and other nearby towns. A union territory, the political administration of the NCT of Delhi today more closely resembles that of a state of India, with its own legislature, high court and an executive council of ministers headed by a Chief Minister. New Delhi is jointly administered by the federal government of India and the local government of Delhi, and is the capital of the NCT of Delhi. Delhi hosted the first and ninth Asian Games in 1951 and 1982 respectively and the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Climate

Delhi features an atypical version of the humid subtropical climate. The warm season lasts from 9 April to 8 July with an average daily high temperature above 36 °C (97 °F). The hottest day of the year is 22 May, with an average high of 38 °C (100 °F) and low of 25 °C (77 °F). The cold season lasts from 11 December to 11 February with an average daily high temperature below 18 °C (64 °F). The coldest day of the year is 4 January, with an average low of 2 °C (36 °F) and high of 15 °C (59 °F). In early March, the wind direction changes from north-westerly to south-westerly. From April to October the weather is hot. The monsoon arrives at the end of June, along with an increase in humidity. The brief, mild winter starts in late November, peaks in January and heavy fog often occurs.

Temperatures in Delhi usually range from 5 to 40 °C (41.0 to 104.0 °F), with the lowest and highest temperatures ever recorded being −2.2 and 48.4 °C (28.0 and 119.1 °F) respectively. The annual mean temperature is 25 °C (77 °F); monthly mean temperatures range from 13 to 32 °C (55 to 90 °F). The highest temperature recorded in July was 45 °C (113 °F) in 1931. The average annual rainfall is approximately 714 mm (28.1 in), most of which falls during the monsoon in July and August. The average date of the advent of monsoon winds in Delhi is 29 June.

Culture and Tourism

Delhi ViewDelhi’s culture has been influenced by its lengthy history and historic association as the capital of India. This is exemplified by many significant monuments in the city. Delhi is also identified as the location of Indraprastha, the ancient capital of the Pandavas. The Archaeological Survey of India recognises 1200 heritage buildings and 175 monuments as national heritage sites. In the Old City, the Mughals and the Turkic rulers constructed several architecturally significant buildings, such as the Jama Masjid – India’s largest mosque built in 1656 and the Red Fort. Three World Heritage Sites – the Red Fort, Qutab Minar and Humayun’s Tomb – are located in Delhi. Other monuments include the India Gate, the Jantar Mantar – an 18th-century astronomical observatory – and the Purana Qila – a 16th-century fortress. The Laxminarayan temple, Akshardham temple, the Bahá’í Lotus temple and the ISKCON temple are examples of modern architecture. Raj Ghat and associated memorials houses memorials of Mahatma Gandhi and other notable personalities. New Delhi houses several government buildings and official residences reminiscent of British colonial architecture, including the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Secretariat, Rajpath, the Parliament of India and Vijay Chowk. Safdarjung’s Tomb is an example of the Mughal gardens style. Some regal havelis (palatial residences) are in the Old City.

Lotus Temple, is a Bahai House of Worship completed in 1986. Notable for its flowerlike shape, it serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent and has become a prominent attraction in the city. The Lotus Temple has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Like all other Bahá’í Houses of Worship, is open to all regardless of religion, or any other distinction, as emphasised in Bahai texts. The Bahai laws emphasise that the spirit of the House of Worship be that it is a gathering place where people of all religions may worship God without denominational restrictions. The Bahai laws also stipulate that only the holy scriptures of the Bahai Faith and other religions can be read or chanted inside in any language; while readings and prayers can be set to music by choirs, no musical instruments can be played inside. Furthermore, no sermons can be delivered, and there can be no ritualistic ceremonies practiced.

Chandni Chowk, a 17th-century market, is one of the most popular shopping areas in Delhi for jewellery and Zari saris. Delhi’s arts and crafts include, Zardozi  – embroidery done with gold thread and Meenakari the art of enamellings.

Transport

Air

Indira Gandhi International Airport, situated to the southwest of Delhi, is the main gateway for the city’s domestic and international civilian air traffic. In 2012-13, the airport was used by more than 35 million passengers, making it one of the busiest airports in South Asia. Terminal 3 has been construct between 2007 and 2010, which handles an additional 37 million passengers annually.

Road

Buses are the most popular means of road transport catering to about 60% of Delhi’s total demand. Delhi has one of India’s largest bus transport systems. Buses are operated by the state-owned Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), which owns the largest fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled buses in the world. Personal vehicles especially cars also form a major chunk of vehicles plying on Delhi roads. Delhi has the highest number of registered cars compared to any other metropolitan city in India. Taxis, auto rickshaws, and cycle rickshaws also ply on Delhi roads in large numbers.

Important Roads in Delhi

Some roads and expressways serve as important pillars of Delhi’s road infrastructure:

Inner Ring Road is one of the most important “state highways” in Delhi. It is a 51 km long circular road which connects important areas in Delhi. Owing to more than 2 dozen grade-separators/flyovers, the road is almost signal-free.

Outer Ring Road is another major artery in Delhi that links far-flung areas of Delhi.

The Delhi Noida Direct Flyway (DND Flyway) is an eight-laned access controlled tolled expressway which connects Delhi to Noida (an important satellite city of Uttar Pradesh). The acronym DND stands for “Delhi – Noida Direct”.

The Delhi Gurgaon Expressway is a 28 km (17 mi) expressway connecting Delhi to Gurgaon, an important satellite city of Haryana.

The Delhi Faridabad Skyway is controlled tolled expressway which connects Delhi to Faridabad, an important satellite city of Haryana.

National Highways

Delhi is connected by Road to various parts of the country through several National Highways:

National Highway 1 (India) or (NH 1) is a National Highway in Northern India that links the National capital New Delhi to the town of Attari in Punjab near the Indo – Pakistan border.

National Highway 2 (India) (NH 2) commonly referred as Delhi – Kolkata Road is a busy Indian National Highway that runs through the states of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

National Highway 8 (India) (NH 8) is a National Highway in India that connects the Indian capital city of New Delhi with the Indian Financial capital city of Mumbai.

National Highway 10 (India) (NH 10) is a National Highway in northern India that originates at Delhi and ends at the town of Fazilka in Punjab near the Indo – Pakistan border.

National Highway 24 (India) (NH 24) is a National Highway in India that connects the National capital Delhi to Uttar Pradesh state capital Lucknow running 438 kilometers (272 miles) in length.

Railway

Delhi is a major junction in the Indian railway network and is the headquarters of the Northern Railway. The five main railway stations are New Delhi railway station, Old Delhi, Nizamuddin Railway Station, Anand Vihar Railway Terminal and Sarai Rohilla. The Delhi Metro, a mass rapid transit system built and operated by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), serves many parts of Delhi and the neighbouring cities Faridabad, Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad.

Metro

The Delhi Metro is a rapid transit system serving Delhi, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad in the National Capital Region of India. Delhi Metro is the world’s 10th largest metro system in terms of length. Delhi Metro was India’s second modern public transportation system, which has revolutionised travel by providing a fast, reliable, safe, and comfortable means of transport. The network consists of six lines with a total length of 189.63 kilometers (117.83 miles) with 142 stations, of which 35 are underground, five are at-grade, and the remainder is elevated. All stations have escalators, lifts, and tactile tiles to guide the visually impaired from station entrances to trains.

History

The area around Delhi was probably inhabited before the second millennium BC and there is evidence of continuous inhabitation since at least the 6th century BC. The city is believed to be the site of Indraprastha, the legendary capital of the Pandavas in the Indian epic Mahabharata. According to Mahabharata, this land was initially a huge mass of forests called ‘Khandavaprastha’ which was burnt down to build the city of Indraprastha. The earliest architectural relics date back to the Maurya period (c. 300 BC); in 1966, an inscription of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (273–235 BC) was discovered near Srinivaspuri. Remains of eight major cities have been discovered in Delhi. The first five cities were in the southern part of present-day Delhi. Gurjara-Pratihara King Anang Pal of the Tomara dynasty founded the city of Lal Kot in AD 736. Prithviraj Chauhan conquered Lal Kot in 1178 and renamed it Qila Rai Pithora.

The king Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated in 1192 by Muhammad Ghori, a Tajik invader from Afghanistan, who made a concerted effort to conquer northern India. By 1200, native Hindu resistance had begun to crumble, the dominance of foreign Turkic Muslim dynasties in north India was to last for the next five centuries. The slave general of Ghori, Qutb-ud-din Aibak was given the responsibility of governing the conquered territories of India and then Ghori returned to his capital, Ghor. He died in 1206 AD. He had no heirs and so his generals declared themselves independent in different parts of his empire. Qutb-ud-din assumed control of Ghori’s Indian possessions. He laid the foundation of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mamluk Dynasty. he began construction of the Qutb Minar and Quwwat-al-Islam (Might of Islam) mosque, the earliest extant mosque in India. Qutb-ud-din faced widespread Hindu rebellions because he broke several ancient temples] to acquire wealth and material to build mosques and other monuments. It was his successor, Iltutmish (1211–36), who consolidated the Turkic conquest of northern India.

For the next three hundred years, Delhi was ruled by a succession of Turkic and an Afghan, Lodhi dynasty. They built several forts and townships that are part of the seven cities of Delhi. Delhi was a major centre of Sufism during this period. The Mamluk Sultanate (Delhi) was overthrown in 1290 by Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji (1290–1320). Under the second Khilji ruler, Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Delhi sultanate extended its control south of the Narmada River in the Deccan. The Delhi sultanate reached its greatest extent during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughluq (1325–1351). In an attempt to bring the whole of the Deccan under control, he moved his capital to Daulatabad, Maharashtra in central India. However, by moving away from Delhi he lost control of the north and was forced to return to Delhi to restore order. The southern provinces then broke away. In the years following the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351–1388), the Delhi sultanate rapidly began to lose its hold over its northern provinces. Delhi was captured and sacked by Timur Lenk in 1398, who massacred 100,000 captives. Delhi’s decline continued under the Sayyid dynasty (1414–1451), until the sultanate was reduced to Delhi and its hinterland. Under the Afghan Lodhi dynasty (1451–1526), the Delhi sultanate recovered control of the Punjab and the Gangetic plain to once again achieve domination over Northern India. However, the recovery was short-lived and the sultanate was destroyed in 1526 by Babur, founder of the Mughal dynasty.

Babur, was a descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, from the Fergana Valley in modern-day Uzbekistan. In 1526, he invaded India, defeated the last Lodhi sultan in the First Battle of Panipat and founded the Mughal Empire that ruled from Delhi and Agra. The Mughal dynasty ruled Delhi for more than three centuries, with a sixteen-year hiatus during the reigns of Sher Shah Suri and Hemu from 1540 to 1556. In 1553, the Hindu king, Hemu acceded to the throne of Delhi by defeating forces of Mughal Emperor Humayun at Agra and Delhi. However, the Mughals re-established their rule after Akbar’s army defeated Hemu during the Second Battle of Panipat in 1556. Shah Jahan built the seventh city of Delhi that bears his name Shahjahanabad, which served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1638 and is today known as the Old City or Old Delhi.

After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mughal Empire’s influence declined rapidly as the Hindu Maratha Empire from Deccan Plateau rose to prominence. In 1737, Maratha forces sacked Delhi following their victory against the Mughals in the First Battle of Delhi. In 1739, the Mughal Empire lost the huge Battle of Karnal in less than three hours against the numerically outnumbered but militarily superior Persian army led by Nader Shah of Persia. After his invasion, he completely sacked and looted Delhi, carrying away immense wealth including the Peacock Throne, the Daria-i-Noor, and Koh-i-Noor. The Mughal, severely further weakened, could never overcome this crushing defeat and humiliation which also left the way open for more invaders to come, including eventually the British. Nader eventually agreed to leave the city and India after forcing the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah I to beg him for mercy and granting him the keys of the city and the royal treasury. A treaty signed in 1752 made Marathas the protectors of the Mughal throne in Delhi.

In 1757, the Afghan ruler, Ahmad Shah Durrani, sacked Delhi. He returned to Afghanistan leaving a Mughal puppet ruler in nominal control. The Marathas again occupied Delhi in 1758, and were in control until their defeat in 1761 at the third battle of Panipat when the city was captured again by Ahmad Shah. However, in 1771, the Marathas established a protectorate over Delhi when the Maratha ruler, Mahadji Shinde, recaptured Delhi and the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II was installed as a puppet ruler in 1772. In 1783, Sikhs under Baghel Singh captured Delhi and Red Fort but due to the treaty signed, Sikhs withdrew from Red Fort and agreed to restore Shah Alam as the emperor. In 1803, during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, the forces of British East India Company defeated the Maratha forces in the Battle of Delhi. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Delhi fell to the forces of East India Company after a bloody fight known as the Siege of Delhi. The city came under the direct control of the British Government in 1858. It was made a district province of the Punjab. In 1911, it was announced that the capital of British held territories in India was to be transferred from Calcutta to Delhi. The name “New Delhi” was given in 1927, and the new capital was inaugurated on 13 February 1931. New Delhi, also known as Lutyens’ Delhi, was officially declared as the capital of the Union of India after the country gained independence on 15 August 1947. During the partition of India, thousands of Hindu and Sikh refugees, mainly from West Punjab fled to Delhi, while many Muslim residents of the city migrated to Pakistan. Migration to Delhi from the rest of India continues (as of 2013), contributing more to the

Agra

Taj Mahal a viewAgra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is 378 kilometers (235 mi) west of the state capital, Lucknow, 206 kilometers (128 mi) south of the national capital New Delhi and 125 kilometres (78 mi) north of Gwalior. With a population of 1,686,993 (2013 est.), it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most populous in India. It is a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. Agra is included on the Golden Triangle tourist circuit, along with Delhi and Jaipur; and the Uttar Pradesh Heritage Arc, tourist circuit of UP state, along Lucknow the capital of the state and Varanasi. Agra falls within the Braj cultural region.

History

Though Agra’s history is largely recognised with Mughal Empire, the place was established much before it and has linkages since Mahabharat period so Mahirshi Angira in 1000 BC. It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate founded Agra in the year 1504. After the Sultan’s death the city passed on to his son Sultan Ibrahim Lodi. He ruled his Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Bābar in the First battle of Panipat fought in 1526.

The golden age of the city began with the Mughals. It was known then as Akbarabad and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Shāh Jahan later shifted his capital to Shāhjahānabād in the year 1649.

Since Akbarabad was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals, it witnessed a lot of building activity. Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of river Yamuna. The garden is called the Arām Bāgh or the Garden of Relaxation. His grandson Akbar raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort, besides making Agra a centre for learning, arts, commerce and religion. Akbar also built a new city on the outskirts of Akbarabad called Fatehpur Sikri. This city was built in the form of a Mughal military camp in stone.

His son Jahangir had a love of gardens and flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Lal Qil’a. Shāh Jahan, known for his keen interest in architecture, gave Akbarabad its most prized monument, the Taj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653.

Shāh Jahan later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but his son Aurangzeb moved the capital back to Akbarabad, usurping his father and imprisoning him in the Fort there. Akbarabad remained the capital of India during the rule of Aurangzeb until he shifted it to Aurangabad in the Deccan in 1653. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of Marathas and was called Agra, before falling into the hands of the British Raj in 1803.

In 1835 when the Presidency of Agra was established by the British, the city became the seat of government, and just two years later it was witness to the Agra famine of 1837–38. During the Indian rebellion of 1857 British rule across India was threatened, news of the rebellion had reached Agra on 11 May and on 30 May two companies of native infantry, the 44th and 67th regiments, rebelled and marched to Delhi. The next morning native Indian troops in Agra were forced to disarm, on 15 June Gwalior (which lies south of Agra) rebelled. By 3 July the British were forced to withdraw into the fort. Two days later a small British force at Sucheta were defeated and forced to withdraw, this led to a mob sacking the city. However, the rebels moved onto Delhi which allowed the British to restore order by 8 July. Delhi fell to the British in September; the following month rebels who had fled Delhi along with rebels from Central India marched on Agra but were defeated. After this, British rule was again secured over the city until the independence of India in 1947.

Agra is the birthplace of the religion known as Dīn-i Ilahi, which flourished during the reign of Akbar and also of the Radhaswami Faith, which has around two million followers worldwide. Agra has historic linkages with Shauripur of Jainism and Runukta of Hinduism, of 1000 BC.

Transport

Air

Agra Airport Kheria Air Force Station (IATA: AGR, ICAO: VIAG), is a military airbase and public airport serving the city of Agra, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The air force station is one of the largest airbases of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and has been synonymous with the Taj Mahal for over half a century.

Rail

Agra is on the central train line between Delhi (Station Code: NDLS) and Bombay (Station Code: CSTM) and between Delhi and Madras (Station Code: MAS) and many trains like Bhopal Shatabdi, Taj Express, Bhopal Express, Malwa Express, Gondwana Express, Jabalpur – Jammutawi Express, Shreedham Express, Garib Rath, Tamil Nadu Express, Chennai Rajdhani, Allahabad Mathura Express etc. connect Agra with all major Indian cities like New Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune, Bhopal, Indore, Kochi, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Ujjain, Jaipur, Aligarh, Mathura, Alwar, Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram etc. every day. Some east-bound trains from Delhi also travel via Agra, so direct connections to points in Eastern India (including Calcutta are also available. There are close to 20 trains to New Delhi and Gwalior Junction every day, and at least three or four to Bhopal, Indore, Nagpur, Bombay and Madras. There are three main railway stations in Agra.

Road

Idgah Bus Stand, Taj Depot, Ford Depot and Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) are the major bus stands in Agra, connecting Agra to most of the bigger cities in North India. It is a major junction of highways with 3 national highways and 1 expressway originating from Agra. Another national highway passes through the city bringing the total highway outlet to 6.

From Delhi: NH2, a modern divided highway, connects the 200 km (124 mi) distance from Delhi to Agra. The drive is about 4 hours. The primary access to the highway is along Mathura Road in Delhi but, if coming from South Delhi or Delhi Airport, it is easier to take Aurobindo Marg (Mehrauli Road) and then work up to NH2 via Tughlakabad.

From Delhi / Noida: Yamuna Expressway, a modern access controlled highway connects the 200 km (124 mi) distance from Delhi to Agra. The drive is about 2 hours. This highway has junction to Aligarh and Mathura via state highways.

Yamuna Expressway (formerly Taj Expressway) is a 6-lane (extendable to 8 lanes), 165 km (103 mi) long, controlled-access expressway, that connects Greater Noida with Agra via Khair and Mathura in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

NH 93 is a National Highway that connects Agra to Moradabad via Aligarh

Places of interest and Tourism

Taj Mahal

Rajasthan MajestyThe Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan’s favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, and one of the three World Heritage Sites in Agra. Agra is commonly identified as the “City of Taj”. The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal king Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India’s most beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630–1652) of labour and 20,000 workers, masons and jewelers to build and is set amidst landscaped gardens. Built by the Persian architect, Ustad ‘Isa, the Tāj Mahal is on the south bank of the Yamuna River. It can be observed from Agra Fort from where Emperor Shāh Jahan gazed at it for the last eight years of his life, a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. It is an acknowledged masterpiece of symmetry. Verses of the Quran are inscribed on it and at the top of the gate are twenty-two small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to build. The Tāj Mahal was built on a marble platform that stands above a sandstone one. The most elegant dome of the Tāj Mahal has a diameter of 60 feet (18 m), and rises to a height of 80 feet (24 m); directly under this dome is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan’s tomb was erected next to hers by his son Aurangzeb. The interiors are decorated with fine inlay work, incorporating semi-precious stones.

Agra Fort

Agra Fort  called the Red Fort, was commissioned by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565, and is another of Agra’s World Heritage Sites. A stone tablet at the gate of the Fort states that it had been built before 1000 but was later renovated by Akbar. The red sandstone fort was converted into a palace during Shāh Jahan’s time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay. Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque or Moti Masjid, the Diwan-e-Am and Diwan-e-Khas (halls of public and private audience), Jahangir’s Palace, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal (mirrored palace), and the Musamman Burj.

The forbidding exteriors of this fort conceal an inner paradise. The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 kilometers (1.5 mi), and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A moat 9 metres (30 ft) wide and 10 metres (33 ft) deep surrounds the outer wall.

The fort is a typical example of Mughal architecture, effectively showing how the North Indian style of fort construction differed from that of the South. In the South, the majority of forts were built on the seabed like the one at Bekal in Kerala.

Fatehpur Sikri

Diwan-i-Khas – Hall of Private Audience

The Mughal Emperor Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri about 35 km (22 mi) from Agra, and moved his capital there. Later abandoned, the site displays a number of buildings of significant historical importance. A World Heritage Site, it is often visited by tourists. The name of the place came about after the Mughal Emperor Bābar defeated Rāṇā Sāngā in a battle at a place called Sikri (about 40 km (25 mi) from Agra). Then the Mughal Emperor Akbar wanted to make Fatehpur Sikri his headquarters, so he built a majestic fort; due to shortage of water, however, he had to ultimately move his headquarters to Agra Fort.

Buland Darwaza or ‘the lofty gateway’ was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1601 CE at Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar built the Buland Darwaza to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. The Buland Darwaza is approached by 52 steps. The Buland Darwaza is 53.63 metres (175.95 feet) high and 35 metres (115 feet) wide. it is made of red and buff sandstone, decorated by carving and black and white marble inlays. An inscription on the central face of the Buland Darwaza demonstrates Akbar’s religious broad mindedness; it is a message from Jesus advising his followers not to consider this world as their permanent home.

Etimad -Ud- Daulah

itimad-ud-daulah-agraThe Empress Nūr Jahan built Etimad- Ud- Daulah’s Tomb, sometimes called the “Baby Tāj”, for her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg, the Chief Minister of the Emperor Jahangir. Located on the left bank of the Yamuna river, the mausoleum is set in a large cruciform garden, crossed by water courses and walkways. The area of the mausoleum itself is about 23 m2 (250 sq ft), and is built on a base that is about 50 m2 (540 sq ft) and about one metre (3.3 feet) high. On each corner are hexagonal towers, about thirteen metres (43 feet) tall. Small in comparison to many other Mughal – era tombs, it is sometimes described as a jewel box. Its garden layout and use of white marble, pietra dura, inlay designs and latticework presage many elements of the Tāj Mahal.

The walls are white marble from Rajasthan encrusted with semi-precious stone decorations – cornelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx, and topaz in images of cypress trees and wine bottles, or more elaborate decorations like cut fruit or vases containing bouquets. Light penetrates to the interior through delicate jali screens of intricately carved white marble.

Many of Nūr Jahan’s relatives are interred in the mausoleum. The only asymmetrical element of the entire complex are the tombs of her father and mother, which have been set side-by-side, a formation replicated in the Taj Mahal.

Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandra

????????????????????????????????????Sikandra, the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, is on the Delhi-Agra Highway, only 13 kilometres (8.1 miles) from the Agra Fort. Akbar’s tomb reflects the completeness of his personality. The vast, beautifully carved, red- arched sandstone tomb with deers, rabbits and langurs is set amidst a lush garden. Akbar himself planned his own tomb and selected a suitable site for it. To construct a tomb in one’s lifetime was a Turkic custom which the Mughals followed religiously. Akbar’s son Jahangir completed construction of this pyramidal tomb in 1613. The 99 names of Allah have been inscribed on the tomb.

Mankameshwar Temple

The Mankameshwar Temple is one of four ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva located on the four corners of Agra City. It is located near the Jāma Masjid and is about 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) from the Taj Mahal and less than 1 km (0.6 mi) from Agra Fort. Being located in the old city, the temple is surrounded by markets, many of which date back to the Mughal Era.

Jama Masjid

The Jāma Masjid is a large mosque attributed to Shah Jahan’s daughter, Princess Jahanara Begum, built in 1648, notable for its unusual dome and absence of minarets. The inscription at its entrance shows that it cost Rs 5 Lakhs at that time for its completion.

Chini ka Rauza

Notable for its Persian influenced dome of blue glazed tiles, the Chini ka Rauza is dedicated to the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan, ‘Allama Afzal Khal Mulla Shukrullah of Shiraz.

Ram Bagh

The oldest Mughal garden in India, the Rām Bāgh was built by the Emperor Bābar in 1528 on the bank of the Yamuna. It lies about 2.34 km (1 mi) north of the Taj Mahal. The pavilions in this garden are designed so that the wind from the Yamuna, combined with the greenery, keeps them cool even during the peak of summer. The original name of the gardens was Aram Bagh, or ‘Garden of Relaxation’, and this was where the Mughal emperor Bābar used to spend his leisure time and where he eventually died. His body was kept here for some time before sending it to Kabul.

On Ram Bagh to Tundla road near Etmadpur, there is a famed Yoga Ashram of Mahaprabhu Ramlal ji Maharaja (First Guru Gaddi), Yogeshwar Mulakhraj Ji Maharaja (Second Guru Gaddi) & Yogeshwar Devi Dayal Ji Mahadev (Third Guru Gaddi) blessed Swami Chandra Mohan Ji Maharaj named Shri Siddha Gufa Sawai. Thousands of devotees and seekers visit this holy place.

Mariam’s Tomb

Mariam’s Tomb, is the tomb of Mariam, the wife of great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The tomb is within the compound of the Christian Missionary Society.

Mehtab Bagh

The Mehtab Bāgh, or ‘Moonlight Garden’, is on the opposite bank of the River Yamuna from the Tāj Mahal.

Keetham Lake

Also known as Sur Sarovar, Keetham Lake is situated about 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) from the Akbar tomb in Agra, within the Surdas Reserved Forest. The lake has an impressive variety of aquatic life and water birds.

Mughal Heritage Walk

The Mughal Heritage Walk is a part of community development programme being implemented with support of Agra Municipal Corporation, USAID and an NGO; Center for Urban and Regional Excellence. It seeks to build sustainable livelihoods for youth and women from low resource communities and improve their living environments through infrastructure services and integration within the city.

The Mughal Heritage Walk is a 1 kilometer (0.62-mile) loop which connects the agricultural fields with the Rajasthani culture, river bank connected with the ancient village of Kuchhpura, the Heritage Structure of Mehtab Bagh, the Mughal aqueduct system, the Humanyun Mosque and the Gyarah Sidi.

Fairs and festivals

Taj Mahotsav

This cultural festival was started in year 1992 and has grown since then. The year 2014 is the 23d year of this Mahotsav. This festival also figures in the calendar of events of the Department of Tourism, Government of India. A large number of Indian and foreign tourists coming to Agra join this festivity in the month of February. One of the objectives of this craft fair is to provide encouragement to the artisans. It also makes available works of art and craft at reasonable prices that are not inflated by high maintenance cost.

Kailash Fair

The Kailash Fair is held in the town of Kailash, about 12 km (7 mi) from Agra, in the month of August/September. It is a major fair celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva who is believed to have appeared here in the form of stone

Mumbai

mumbai_sealinkMumbai also known as Bombay, the official name until 1995 is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India and the ninth most populous agglomeration in the world, with an estimated city population of 18.4 million. Along with the neighbouring regions of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world and the second most populous metropolitan area in India, with a population of 20.7 million as of 2011. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. In 2009, Mumbai was named an alpha world city. It is also the wealthiest city in India, and has the highest GDP of any city in South, West, or Central Asia. Mumbai has the highest number of billionaires and millionaires among all cities in India.

Geography

Mumbai consists of two distinct regions: Mumbai City district and Mumbai Suburban district, which form two separate revenue districts of Maharashtra. The city district region is also commonly referred to as the Island City or South Mumbai. The total area of Mumbai is 603.4 km2 (233 sq mi). Of this, the island city spans 67.79 km2 (26 sq mi), while the suburban district spans 370 km2 (143 sq mi), together accounting for 437.71 km2 (169 sq mi) under the administration of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). The remaining areas belong to various Defence establishments, the Mumbai Port Trust, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Borivali National Park, which are out of the jurisdiction of the MCGM.[132] The Mumbai Metropolitan Region which includes portions of Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts in addition to Greater Mumbai, covers an area of 4,355 km2 (1681.5 sq mi).
Mumbai lies at the mouth of the Ulhas River on the western coast of India, in the coastal region known as the Konkan. It sits on Salsette Island (Sashti Island), which it partially shares with the Thane district. Mumbai is bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west. Many parts of the city lie just mumbai_haji_ali_dargahabove sea level, with elevations ranging from 10 m (33 ft) to 15 m (49 ft); the city has an average elevation of 14 m (46 ft). Northern Mumbai (Salsette) is hilly, and the highest point in the city is 450 m (1,476 ft) at Salsette in the Powai–Kanheri ranges. The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Borivali National Park) is located partly in the Mumbai suburban district, and partly in the Thane district, and it extends over an area of 103.09 km2 (39.80 sq mi).
Apart from the Bhatsa Dam, there are six major lakes that supply water to the city: Vihar, Lower Vaitarna, Upper Vaitarna, Tulsi, Tansa and Powai. Tulsi Lake and Vihar Lake are located in Borivili National Park, within the city’s limits. The supply from Powai lake, also within the city limits, is used only for agricultural and industrial purposes. Three small rivers, the Dahisar River, Poinsar (or Poisar) and Ohiwara (or Oshiwara) originate within the park, while the polluted Mithi River originates from Tulsi Lake and gathers water overflowing from Vihar and Powai Lakes. The coastline of the city is indented with numerous creeks and bays, stretching from the Thane creek on the eastern to Madh Marve on the western front. The eastern coast of Salsette Island is covered with large mangrove swamps, rich in biodiversity, while the western coast is mostly sandy and rocky.

Climate

Mumbai has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate (Aw) under the Köppen climate classification, with seven months of dryness and peak of rains in July. The cooler season from December to February is followed by the summer season from March to June. The period from June to about the end of September constitutes the south-west monsoon season, and October and November form the post-monsoon season.
Between June and September, the south west monsoon rains lash the city. Pre-monsoon showers are received in May. Occasionally, north-east monsoon showers occur in October and November. The maximum annual rainfall ever recorded was 3,452 mm (136 in) for 1954. The highest rainfall recorded in a single day was 944 mm (37 in) on 26 July 2005. The average total annual rainfall is 2,146.6 mm (85 in) for the Island City, and 2,457 mm (97 in) for the suburbs.
The average annual temperature is 27.2 °C (81 °F), and the average annual precipitation is 2,167 mm (85 in). In the Island City, the average maximum temperature is 31.2 °C (88 °F), while the average minimum temperature is 23.7 °C (75 °F). In the suburbs, the daily mean maximum temperature range from 29.1 °C (84 °F) to 33.3 °C (92 °F), while the daily mean minimum temperature ranges from 16.3 °C (61 °F) to 26.2 °C (79 °F). The record high is 42.2 °C (108 °F) set on 14 April 1952, and the record low is 7.4 °C (45 °F) set on 27 January 1962

Transport

Public transport systems in Mumbai include the Mumbai Suburban Railway, Monorail, Metro, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses, black-and-yellow meter taxis, auto rickshaws and ferries. Suburban railway and BEST bus services together accounted for about 88% of the passenger traffic in 2008. Auto rickshaws are allowed to operate only in the suburban areas of Mumbai, while taxis are allowed to operate throughout Mumbai, but generally operate in South Mumbai. Taxis and rickshaws in Mumbai are required by law to run on compressed natural gas (CNG), and are a convenient, economical, and easily available means of transport.

Rail

mumbai_monorail_train_at_platformThe Mumbai Suburban Railway, popularly referred to as Locals forms the backbone of the city’s transport system. It is operated by the Central Railway and Western Railway zones of the Indian Railways. Mumbai’s suburban rail systems carried a total of 6.3 million passengers every day in 2007, which is more than half of the Indian Railways daily carrying capacity. Trains are overcrowded during peak hours, with nine-car trains of rated capacity 1,700 passengers, actually carrying around 4,500 passengers at peak hours. The Mumbai rail network is spread at an expanse of 319 route kilometres. 191 rakes (train-sets) of 9 car and 12 car composition are utilised to run a total of 2,226 train services in the city.
The Mumbai Monorail and Mumbai Metro have been built and are being extended in phases to relieve overcrowding on the existing network. The Monorail opened in early February 2014. The first line of the Mumbai Metro opened in early June 2014.
Mumbai is the headquarters of two zones of the Indian Railways: the Central Railway (CR) headquartered at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), and the Western Railway (WR) headquartered at Churchgate. Mumbai is also well connected to most parts of India by the Indian Railways. Long-distance trains originate from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Dadar, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Mumbai Central, Bandra Terminus, Andheri and Borivali.

Bus

Mumbai’s bus services carried over 5.5 million passengers per day in 2008, which dropped to 2.8 million in 2015. Public buses run by BEST cover almost all parts of the metropolis, as well as parts of Navi Mumbai, Mira-Bhayandar and Thane. The BEST operates a total of 4,608 buses with CCTV cameras installed, ferrying 4.5 million passengers daily over 390 routes. Its fleet consists of single-decker, double-decker, vestibule, low-floor, disabled-friendly, air-conditioned and Euro III compliant diesel and compressed natural gas powered buses. BEST introduced air-conditioned buses in 1998. BEST buses are red in colour, based originally on the Routemaster buses of London. Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC, also known as ST) buses provide intercity transport connecting Mumbai with other towns and cities of Maharashtra and nearby states. The Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) and Thane Municipal Transport (TMT) also operate their buses in Mumbai, connecting various nodes of Navi Mumbai and Thane to parts of Mumbai.
Buses are generally favoured for commuting short to medium distances, while train fares are more economical for longer distance commutes.
The Mumbai Darshan is a tourist bus service which explores numerous tourist attractions in Mumbai. Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) lanes have been planned throughout Mumbai. Though 88% of the city’s commuters travel by public transport, Mumbai still continues to struggle with traffic congestion. Mumbai’s transport system has been categorised as one of the most congested in the world.

Water transport

Water transport in Mumbai consists of ferries, hovercrafts and catamarans. Services are provided by both government agencies as well as private partners. Hovercraft services plied briefly in the late 1990s between the Gateway of India and CBD Belapur in Navi Mumbai. They were subsequently scrapped due to lack of adequate infrastructure.

Road

Mumbai is served by National Highway 3, National Highway 4, National Highway 8, National Highway 17 and National Highway 222 of India’s National Highways system. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway was the first expressway built in India. The Eastern Freeway was opened in 2013. The Mumbai Nashik Expressway, Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway, are under construction. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link bridge, along with Mahim Causeway, links the island city to the western suburbs. The three major road arteries of the city are the Eastern Express Highway from Sion to Thane, the Sion Panvel Expressway from Sion to Panvel and the Western Express Highway from Bandra to Dahisar. Mumbai has approximately 1,900 km (1,181 mi) of roads. There are five tolled entry points to the city by road.

Air

mumbai_airport_domestic_The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (formerly Sahar International Airport) is the main aviation hub in the city and the second busiest airport in India in terms of passenger traffic. It handled 36.6 million passengers and 694,300 tonnes of cargo during FY 2014–2015. An upgrade plan was initiated in 2006, targeted at increasing the capacity of the airport to handle up to 40 million passengers annually and the new terminal T2 was opened in February 2014.
The proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport to be built in the Kopra-Panvel area has been sanctioned by the Indian Government and will help relieve the increasing traffic burden on the existing airport. The Juhu Aerodrome was India’s first airport, and now hosts the Bombay Flying Club and a heliport operated by state-owned Pawan Hans.

Sea

Mumbai is served by two major ports, Mumbai Port Trust and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, which lies just across the creek in Navi Mumbai. Mumbai Port has one of the best natural harbours in the world, and has extensive wet and dry dock accommodation facilities. Jawaharlal Nehru Port, commissioned on 26 May 1989, is the busiest and most modern major port in India. It handles 55–60% of the country’s total containerised cargo. Ferries from Ferry Wharf in Mazagaon allow access to islands near the city.
The city is also the headquarters of the Western Naval Command, and also an important base for the Indian Navy.

Tourist Spots

Amusements, parks, studia and zoos

Essel World, Shivaji Park, Elephanta Caves, Adlabs Aquamagica, Adlabs Imagica, Andheri Sports Complex, B.P.T. Ground, Bandra Kurla Complex Ground, Bhavans Nature Adventure Centre Andheri, Brabourne Stadium, Colaba Woods, Cooperage Ground, Cross Maidan, Dadaji Kondadev Stadium, DY Patil Stadium, EsselWorld, Gilbert Hill, Gowalia Tank, Goregaon Sports Club, Hanging Gardens of Mumbai, Horniman Circle Gardens, Jijamata Udyaan, Jogger’s Park, Joseph Baptista Gardens, Kamala Nehru Park, Mahalaxmi Racecourse, Mahindra Hockey Stadium, Middle Income Group Club Ground, Oval Maidan, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Indoor Stadium, Shivaji Park, Wankhede Stadium

Beaches, dams and lakes

Juhu beach, Aksa Beach, Bandra Talao, Girgaum Chowpatty, Juhu Beach, Kalamb Beach, Marvé Beach, Modak Sagar, Powai Lake, Tulshi Dam, Tulsi Lake, Vihar Dam, Vihar Lake.

Caves

Elephanta Caves, Elephanta Caves, Jogeshwari Caves, Kanheri Caves, Mahakali Caves, Mandapeshwar Caves

Forts

Bassein Fort, Belapur Fort, Bombay Castle, Castella de Aguada, Dongri Fort, Fort George, Bombay, Ghodbunder Fort, Madh Fort, Mahim Fort, Mazagon Fort, Riwa Fort, Sewri Fort, Sion Hillock Fort, Worli Fort

Museums

Antarang – Sex Health Information Art Gallery, The Arts Trust – Institute of Contemporary Indian Art, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Cowasji Jehangir Hall, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, INS Vikrant (R11), Mani Bhavan, National Gallery of Modern Art, Nehru Science Centre

Places of worship

Mount Mary Church, Bandra, St. Andrew’s Church, Siddhivinayak Temple, Haji Ali Dargah, Knesset Eliyahoo

Leh Ladhak

leh_shanti_stupaLadakh is the highest plateau in the state of Jammu & Kashmir with much of it being over 3,000 m (9,800 ft). It extends from the Himalayan to the Kunlun Ranges and includes the upper Indus River valley.
Historically, the region included the Baltistan (Baltiyul) valleys (now mostly in Pakistani administered part of Kashmir), the entire upper Indus Valley, the remote Zanskar, Lahaul and Spiti to the south, much of Ngari including the Rudok region and Guge in the east, Aksai Chin in the northeast, and the Nubra Valley to the north over Khardong La in the Ladakh Range. Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti regions to the south, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north. The historic but imprecise divide between Ladakh and the Tibetan Plateau commences in the north in the intricate maze of ridges east of Rudok including Aling Kangri and Mavang Kangri, and continues southeastward toward northwestern Nepal. Before partition, Baltistan, now under Pakistani control, was a district in Ladakh. Skardo was the winter capital of Ladakh while Leh was the summer capital.
The mountain ranges in this region were formed over 45 million years by the folding of the Indian plate into the more stationary Eurasian Plate. The drift continues, causing frequent earthquakes in the Himalayan region. The peaks in the Ladakh Range are at a medium altitude close to the Zoji-la (5,000–5,500 m or 16,000–18,050 ft) and increase toward southeast, culminating in the twin summits of Nun-Kun (7000 m or 23,000 ft).
The Suru and Zanskar valleys form a great trough enclosed by the Himalayas and the Zanskar Range. Rangdum is the highest inhabited region in the Suru valley, after which the valley rises to 4,400 m (14,400 ft) at Pensi-la, the gateway to Zanskar. Kargil, the only town in the Suru valley, is the second most important town in Ladakh. It was an important staging post on the routes of the trade caravans before 1947, being more or less equidistant, at about 230 kilometres from Srinagar, Leh, Skardu and Padum. The Zangskar valley lies in the troughs of the Stod and the Lungnak rivers. The region experiences heavy snowfall; the Pensi-la is open only between June and mid-October. Dras and the Mushkoh Valley form the western extremity of Ladakh.
The Indus River is the backbone of Ladakh. Most major historical and current towns — Shey, Leh, Basgo and Tingmosgang (but not Kargil), are close to the Indus River.
The Siachen Glacier is in the eastern Karakoram Range in the Himalaya Mountains along the disputed India-Pakistan border. The Karakoram Range forms a great watershed that separates China from the Indian subcontinent and is sometimes called the “Third Pole.” The glacier lies between the Saltoro Ridge immediately to the west and the main Karakoram Range to the east. At 76 km long, it is the longest glacier in the Karakoram and second-longest in the world’s non-polar areas. It falls from an altitude of 5,753 m (18,875 ft) above sea level at its source at Indira Col on the China border down to 3,620 m (11,880 ft) at its snout. Saser Kangri is the highest peak in the Saser Muztagh, the easternmost subrange of the Karakoram Range in India, Saser Kangri I having an altitude of 7,672 m (25,171 ft).

Climate

The Ladakh Range has no major peaks; its average height is a little less than 6,000 m (20,000 ft), and few of its passes are less than 5,000 m (16,000 ft). The Pangong Range runs parallel to the Ladakh Range for about 100 km northwest from Chushul along the southern shore of the Pangong Lake. Its highest point is about 6,700 m (22,000 ft) and the northern slopes are heavily glaciated. The region comprising the valley of the Shayok and Nubra rivers is known as Nubra. The Karakoram Range in Ladakh is not as mighty as in Baltistan. The massifs to the north and east of the Nubra–Siachen line include the Apsarasas Group (highest point 7,245 m; 23,770 ft) the Rimo Muztagh (highest point 7,385 m; 24,229 ft) and the Teram Kangri Group (highest point 7,464 m; 24,488 ft) together with Mamostong Kangri (7,526 m; 24,692 ft) and Singhi Kangri (7,202 m; 23,629 ft). North of the Karakoram lies the Kunlun. Thus, between Leh and eastern Central Asia there is a triple barrier — the Ladakh Range, Karakoram Range, and Kunlun. Nevertheless, a major trade route was established between Leh and Yarkand.
Ladakh is a high altitude desert as the Himalayas create a rain shadow, generally denying entry to monsoon clouds. The main source of water is the winter snowfall on the mountains. Recent flooding in the region (e.g., the 2010 floods) has been attributed to abnormal rain patterns and retreating glaciers, both of which have been found to be linked to global climate change. The Leh Nutrition Project, headed by Chewang Norphel, also known as the “Glacier Man”, creates artificial glaciers as one solution for retreating glaciers.
The regions on the north flank of the Himalayas — Dras, the Suru valley and Zangskar — experience heavy snowfall and remain cut off from the rest of the region for several months in the year, as the whole region remains cut off by road from the rest of the country. Summers are short, though they are long enough to grow crops. The summer weather is dry and pleasant. Temperature ranges are from 3 to 35 °C in summer and minimums range from -20 to -35 °C in winter.
Zanskar is the main river of the region along with its tributaries. The Zanskar gets frozen during winter and the famous Chadar trek takes place on this magnificent frozen river.

Flora and fauna

The fauna of Ladakh has much in common with that of Central Asia in general and that of the Tibetan Plateau in particular.] Exceptions to this are the birds, many of which migrate from the warmer parts of India to spend the summer in Ladakh. For such an arid area, Ladakh has a great diversity of birds — a total of 225 species have been recorded. Many species of finches, robins, redstarts (like the black redstart), and the hoopoe are common in summer. The brown-headed gull is seen in summer on the river Indus and on some lakes of the Changthang. Resident water-birds include the brahminy duck also known as the ruddy sheldrake and the bar-headed goose. The black-necked crane, a rare species found scattered in the Tibetan plateau, is also found in parts of Ladakh. Other birds include the raven, Eurasian magpie, red-billed chough, Tibetan snowcock, and chukar. The lammergeier and the golden eagle are common raptors here specially in Changthang region.

Culture

Ladakhi culture is similar to Tibetan culture.

Cuisine

lehLadakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thukpa (noodle soup) and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as ngampe (roasted barley flour). Edible without cooking, tsampa makes useful trekking food. A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is skyu, a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables. As Ladakh moves toward a cash-based economy, foods from the plains of India are becoming more common. As in other parts of Central Asia, tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter, and salt. It is mixed in a large churn and known as gurgur cha, after the sound it makes when mixed. Sweet tea (cha ngarmo) is common now, made in the Indian style with milk and sugar. Most of the surplus barley that is produced is fermented into chang, an alcoholic beverage drunk especially on festive occasions.

Sports

The most popular sport in Ladakh now is ice hockey, which is played only on natural ice generally mid–December through mid–February. Cricket is also very popular. Archery is a traditional sport in Ladakh, and many villages still hold archery festivals, which are as much about traditional dancing, drinking and gambling as about the sport. The sport is conducted with strict etiquette, to the accompaniment of the music of surna and daman (shehnai and drum). Polo, the other traditional sport of Ladakh is indigenous to Baltistan and Gilgit, and was probably introduced into Ladakh in the mid–17th century by King Singge Namgyal, whose mother was a Balti princess. However Polo is still popular among the Baltis and the sport with some support from financial heavyweights is an annual affair in Drass region of District Kargil.

Traditional medicine

Tibetan medicine has been the traditional health system of Ladakh for over a thousand years. This school of traditional healing contains elements of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, combined with the philosophy and cosmology of Tibetan Buddhism. For centuries, the only medical system which was accessible to the people have been the amchi who are traditional doctors following the Tibetan medical tradition. Amchi medicine is still an important component of public health to this day, especially in remote areas.

Festivals of Ladakh

Ladakh celebrates lots of famous festivals and one of the biggest and most popular festival is Hemis festival. The festival is celebrated in June to commemorate the birth of Guru Padmasambhava. In the month of September the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department with the help of local authorities organize Ladakh Festival. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir also organizes the Sindhu Darshan festival at Leh in the month of May–June. This Festival is celebrated on the full moon day (Guru Poornima).

Music

Kashmiri music reflects the rich musical heritage and cultural legacy of Kashmir. Traditionally the music composed by ethnic Kashmiris has a wide range of musical influences in composition. Due to Kashmir’s close proximity to Central Asia, Eastern Asia and Southern Asia, a unique blend of music has evolved encompassing the music of the three regions. But, overall, Kashmiri Valley music is closer to Central Asian music, using traditional Central Asian instruments and musical scales, while music from Jammu is similar to that of North India and Ladakhi music is similar to the music of Tibet.

Chakri

Chakri is one of the most popular types of traditional music played in Jammu & Kashmir. Chakri is a responsorial song form with instrumental parts, and it is played with instruments like the harmonium, the rubab, the sarangi, the nout, the geger and the chimta. It is performed in folk and religious spheres, by the Muslim and Hindu kashmiris. Chakri was also used to tell stories like fairy tales or famous love stories such as Yousuf-Zulaikha, Laila-Majnun, etc. Chakri ends with the rouf, though rouf is a dance form but few ending notes of Chakri which are played differently and on fast notes is also called Rouf. It is a very important part of the Henna Night during weddings.

Rouf or Wanwun

Rouf is a traditional dance form usually performed by women on certain important occasions like marriage and other functions.

Ladishah

Ladishah is one of the most important parts of the Kashmiri music tradition. Ladishah is a sarcastic form of singing. The songs are sung resonating to the present social and political conditions and are utterly humorous. The singers move from village to village performing generally during the harvesting period. The songs are composed on the spot on issues relating to that village, be it cultural, social or political. The songs reflect the truth and that sometimes makes the song a bit hard to digest, but they are totally entertaining.

Sufiana Kalam

Sufiana Kalam is the classical music of Kashmir, which uses its own ragas (known as maqam), and is accompanied by a hundred-stringed instrument called the santoor, along with the Kashmiri saz, the setar, the wasool and the dokra.

Tourism

Ladakh, a word which means “land of high passes”, is a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir of Northern India sandwiched between the Karakoram mountain range to the north and the Himalayas to the south. The Indian portion of Ladakh is composed of the Leh and Kargil districts. The Leh district is the largest district of India, covering more than half the area of Jammu and Kashmir, of which it is the eastern part.

Tourist places

Among the popular places of tourist interest include Leh, Drass valley, Razi khar (Chiktan Khar), Suru valley, Kargil, Zangskar, Zangla, Rangdum, Padum, Phukthal, Sani Monastery, Stongdey, Shayok Valley, Sankoo, Salt Valley. Popular treks are Manali to Ladakh, the Nubra valley, Pangong tso, Tso moriri, the Indus valley, Markha valley, Ladakh monastery trek, South Zangskar, Trans-Zangskar Expedition, Spiti to Ladakh, Spiti to Pitok to Hemis, Rupshu, the Great Salt lakes, Chadar Ice trek, Padum-Phuktal, Padam to Darcha, Panikhar to Heniskot, Padum to Manali, Lamayuru-Martselang, Lamayuru – Alchi, Kala Pattar trek, Pahal.

Must Visit Places

leh_mosqueThe Razi Khar (Chiktan kahr/Chiktan Palace), which is situated 76 km from Kargil and 180 km from Leh is situated on the highway from Kargil to Leh, is the first Palace of the then ruler Thatha Khan. Its historic importance in the history of Ladakh and its ruler is very significant. It is said that the Leh Palace was built by the same architect after the completion of the Razi Khar, with his left hand because the king than cut his right hand so that he cannot built such a beautiful palacea after it. Although it a little bit wrecked now, but the scenery from the top of the palace is unbelievable, especially on a full moon.
The Leh Palace, which is situated behind the main market has eight stories and is similar to the Potala Palace of Lhasa and still belongs to the royal family of Ladakh. Just ahead of the palace is the famous Chamba Temple, which is a one roomed shrine that has a huge icon of Maitreya, the Buddha to come. Since this temple cannot be found easily, it is essential to enquire about it in the second row of shops.
Also in the bazaar, at the top of the street, one can see the Jama Masjid. This has been painted in green and white colour. Another place must to visit is the Sankar Gompa, which is situated within the city and is one of the oldest structures here. At one time, this monastery only welcomes maximum twenty monks and is a fairly active one. Also the monks here are extremely hospitable and always offer yak butter tea to those visiting the monastery.

Permits and borders

No special permit is required to visit most of Ladakh, including Leh and Kargil towns. Permits are required for foreign tourists to visit the “Inner Line” areas, i.e. Nubra Valley; Panggong Lake and the Durbuk Block that it lies in (i.e. north of the Changla Pass); Tso-Moriri and Tsokar Lakes and the area along the Indus River east of Upshi; and Dha-hanu and the area along the Indus River northwest of Khalatse. These permits are easily available in Leh town and do not need to be acquired while applying for an Indian visa. Foreigners must get their permits through travel agents.
Permits are not available for foreigners to go to the far reaches of each of the above-named areas close to the borders (or Line of Control, etc.) with Pakistan and China. For example, foreigners can go to the edge of Panggong Lake and Maan and Merak villages, but not along the edge of it to Phobrang or Chushul villages; they cannot proceed east up the Indus from the Mahe Bridge; and in Nubra, they can only go as far as Panamik to the north and Turtuk to the west.
There are no border crossings open between Ladakh and neighbouring regions of Baltistan (under Pakistan) or Tibet (under China).
As per recent govt guidelines Indian tourist are not needed to make permit before visiting “Inner Line” area. As per notification any valid ID proof issued by Govt of India like Passport, Driving license, Pan card, Aadhar card etc will serve the purpose. Foreign nationals however, are still required to get the permits.

Ecotourism in Ladakh

Due to the strain that tourism can cause on local resources, the concept of “Ecotourism” has been introduced in Ladakh by non-governmental organizations like the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust’s Himalayan Homestays Program and Women´s Alliance of Ladakh (WAL)
People are being asked to reduce waste and water consumption and to use more environmental options when possible. One of these being the “Homestays”, a system where tourist who are trekking in Ladakh, instead of bringing tents and supplies that often has to be carried by horses or donkeys, they stay with local families in the villages they pass. This is seen both as environmental since the pack animals can sometimes eat all the limited vegetation, and as socially responsible since it puts money directly into the local villages.

Trekking

Ladakh is one of the most favourite trekking destination, having some of the most picturesque and challenging treks. Ladakh is a paradise for adventure lovers given by its world’s mightiest mountain ranges, the Greater Himalaya and the Karakoram, and two others, the Ladakh range and the Zangskar range. The most important feature of trekking in Ladakh is it’s High Mountain passes which comes on the trekking routes gives opportunity to have wonderful view of colorful mountains and amazing landscape.
Popular treks
The treks from Spituk to the Markha valley and Lamayuru gompa to Chiling village alongside the Zanskar River are the most popular treks in the region. Another trek route is from Likir to Temisgam.

Best Time to Trek

Treks are open from the June end up to mid October. The passes for trekking are as high as 5,000 m in altitude. Many trekking agencies in Leh offer trek packages with a guide, packhorses, food and supplies.

Treks in Ladakh

Trekking in Ladakh India. The attraction here for the tourists are snow clad peaks, translucent lakes, barren terrain etc. The best season to go on trekking tours and expeditions in Leh Ladakh in this region is between June and September. Hiking in Ladakh India is one of the famous adventure sports awaiting the trekking enthusiast in Leh Ladakh Himalaya India. One who are fascinated by the unexplored. The mountain ranges of himalaya Ladakh offer breathtaking, enthralling trekking routes. In the vast amphitheatre of the Indian Himalayas and Karakorams, there are limitless possibilities for trekking tours, mountaineering and river rafting tours.
Easy Treks in Ladakh
Sham Trek (07 Days), Spituk Trekking (06 Days), Indus Valley Trek (13 Days), Sham & Indus Valley Trek (14 Days)
Moderate Treks in Ladakh
Manali Ladakh Trekking (23 Days), Markha Valley Trek (11 Days), Spiti To Ladakh (24 Days ), Sangla to Leh Trek (13 Days), The Nubra Valley Trek (10 Days ), Tsomoiri Lake Trek (23 Days), Trekking in Zanskar (darcha-Padum) (18 Days), Lamayuru Alchi Trek (09 Days), Lamayuru Martselang Trekking (19 Days), Lamayuru Chilling via Dung-Dung La (12 Days), Ladakh Monastery Trek (17 Days), Wild Ladakh Trekking (23 Days)
Alpine or Tough Treks in Ladakh
Hemis Rupsu Darcha Trekking (21 Days), Stok Kangri Trekking (18 Days), Remote Zanskar Trekking (18 Days), Darcha Lamayuru Trek (18 Days), Frozen River Trek (23 Days), Journey To Southern Zanskar (26 Days), Ladakh, Zanskar Trek (18 Days), Lamayuru Padum Trek (19 Days), Stok Kangri Climb-Markha Trekking (22 Days), Trans, Zanskar Expeditionl (27 Days), The Rupshu Trek (23 Days).

Things to Know

One way to travel within the region is by the state buses, which ply on fixed routes according to fixed time schedules. Most comfortable and convenient though expensive mode of travel, however, is taxi, which is available for hire on fixed point-to-point tariff basis. For visits to the newly opened areas of Nubra, Dah-Hanu, Tsomoriri, Tsokar and Pangong Lake, it is mandatory to engage the services of a registered and recognised travel agency that makes the requisite arrangements including internal transport.

How to Reach

By Road

Leh is connected by good motorable roads to all major places in India. Leh is: 1047 km from Delhi, 434 km from Srinagar, 230 km from Kargil, 494 km from Manali, 380 km from Keylong, 118 km from Deskit (Nubra Valley), 690 km from Jammu.
The overland approach to Ladakh from Kashmir Valley via Kargil is approximately 434 km, which remains open for traffic from early June to November. The dramatic part of this road journey is the ascent up the 11,500 feet 3,505 m high Zoji-La, the pass in the Great Himalayan Wall that serves as the gateway to Ladakh. There is also a motorable route between Manali and Leh which is 473 km long. Manali-Leh Road has been serving as the second overland approach to Ladakh. Open for traffic from around mid-June to early October, this high road traverses the upland desert plateau of Rupsho, where altitude ranges from 3,660m to 4,570m. A number of high passes fall en route among which the highest one known as Taklang-La is the world’s second highest motorable pass at an altitude of 17,469 feet/5,235 m. Both the Himachal Pradesh Tourism (HRTC) and J&K State Tourism (SRTC) operate daily deluxe and ordinary bus services between Manali-Leh and Srinagar-Leh. The bus journey between Leh and Manali takes about 19 hours or two days with an overnight halt in camps at Serchu or Pang. And the Srinagar-Leh trip takes 17 hours.

By Air

Ladakh is well connected by air with New Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar.

Buddhist Tourism in Ladakh

Buoyed by heavy tourist arrival in Ladakh, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has embarked on an ambitious plan to put this Himalayan district on the Buddhist circuit to woo pilgrims. With tourism being a major sector contributing towards the development of the state’s economy, the state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is planning to restore the existing monasteries in the region, hire landscaping experts, set up tourism centers as well as provide basic road infrastructure in the region. Keeping in view the increasing flow of tourists into Ladakh every year, the government plans to have facilities like the tourist centers not only in the main city but also in places which hold tourist interests like the monasteries in Ladakh, areas around the banks of Indus river and many more. Last year around 1,48,588 tourists visited the region of which 29,856 were foreigners. Keeping these figures in mind the government is also keen not to spoil the natural beauty of the region which includes the famous fresh water Pangong lake and highest motorable road to Khardungla. There are about 35 Buddhist monasteries spread across the region which thrives on donations made by tourists and the local people of the region but now the government plans to develop these monasteries. The Jammu and Kashmir government is hoping that the financial aid to develop Ladakh into a bigger tourist attraction over the coming years and hopes to allocate the necessary funds in this financial year. The state government also plans to hire experts for landscaping of the barren regions and such a move was possible only after the Centre released funds.

Organizations

There are many non-governmental organizations actively working to improve the life in Ladakh like Ladakh Ecological Development and Environmental Group (LEDeG), LEHO, the Leh Nutrition project, Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), Women’s Alliance, Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust working towards conservation of wildlife, community outreach and environmental education programs.
The People’s Action Group for Inclusion and Rights (PAGIR) is an organized effort by people with disabilities—and their families and friends—to create a society that is more inclusive and free of prejudice. This is done by removing social barriers and tapping into individual capabilities of people with disabilities. The organization is run under the leadership of Mohd. Iqbal, a recipient of the Ability Award and the Real Hero award, with a physical disability since birth.

Pahalgam

pahalgam_betaab_valleyPahalgam is a town and a notified area committee in Anantnag district of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. It is a popular tourist destination and hill station. It is located 45 kilometres (28 mi) from Anantnag on the banks of Lidder River at an altitude of 7,200 feet (2,200 m). Pahalgam is the headquarters of one of the five tehsils of Anantnag district. Pahalgam is associated with the annual Amarnath Yatra. Chandanwari, located 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Pahalgam is the starting point of the yatra that takes place every year in the months of July-August.

Geography

Pahalgam is located at 34.01°N 75.19°E. Pahalgam holds a central position in the Lidder Valley. It has an average elevation of 2,740 metres (8,990 ft).

Climate

Pahalgam has Sub-Tropical Highland climate with long and cold winter with short and mild summer.

Flora and fauna

pahalgam_betaab_valley_1The area holds a rich cover of vegetation, the dominant forest consisting of conifers which account for over 90%. The principal species are Cedrus deodara, Pinus griffithii, Abies pindrow, Aesculus indica etc. The major shrubs are Indigofera heterantha, Viburnum spp., Sorbaria tomentosa etc. the ground cover is very rich and dicotyledonus herbs dominate: Rumex patientia, Primula spp., anemone spp., etc. There are many species of rare, endangered and protected species. The main species are hangul, musk deer, serow, brown bear, Leopard, rhesus macaque, grey langur, Himalayan mouse hare, etc. Wild bears still roam much of the area, and local villagers are on constant alert for their presence. Due to the constant threat of illegal border crossings, the Indian army is always patrolling the area and is on constant high alert. As the local population cannot carry firearms, this has saved the bears from being hunted to extinction. With the abundance of fresh trout in the rivers and local farm animals, they have plenty to eat. Monkeys also populate the area. The area houses a good population of pheasants and upland birds apart from other species, both resident and migratory. The common birds are griffon vulture, monal, snow cock, koklas, blue rock pigeon, Kashmir roller, European hoopoe, jungle crow etc.

How to Reach

Pahalgam is accessible from road, unless you can find a way to travel in a copter. There is, of course, no railraod either. If you are driving from Jammu, you can decide to go to Pahalgam some 45 kms before Srinagar (at Khanabal). Or you can fly into Srinagar, or drive first to Srinagar and then drive to Pahalgam – which is 96 kms away. It can take 2-3 hours.

Places of Interest

Kolhoi Glacier

Kolohoi Glacier, situated up the Lidder Valley, just below Kolhoi Peak is currently a hanging glacier. It is accessible from Pahalgam via Aru and is known to have extended for at least 35 kilometres (22 mi). According to the mountaineers from Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering, in 2008, the glacier receded by half since 1985 and it is not safe to study because it is hollow and has 200-foot-deep (61 m) crevices.

Betaab Valley

Betaab Valley is a valley located 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Pahalgam. The valley got its name from a Bollywood movie Betab that was shot here. Betab Valley is a very popular touristic destination. Betaab Valley is also a favorite campsite of travelers as it also serves as a base camp for trekking and further exploration of the mountains. The valley is a walk-able distance from Pahalgam. The crystal clear & chilly water of the stream bubbling down from the snowy hills is a delight; locals here drink this water too. Baisaran and Tulian Lake are few nearby attractions that can be visited.

Manali

Himachal AroundManali is a Valley nestled in the mountains of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh near the northern end of the Kullu Valley, at an altitude of 2,050 m (6,726 ft) in the Beas River Valley. It is located in the Kullu district, about 270 km (168 mi) north of the state capital, Shimla. The small town, with a population of 8,096,[1] is the beginning of an ancient trade route to Ladakh and from there over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkand and Khotan in the Tarim Basin. It is a popular tourist destination and serves as the gateway to Lahaul & Spiti district as well as Leh.

Geography

Manali is located at 32.2396 N, 77.1887 E, about 40 km (25 mi) north of Kullu town. The town ranges in elevation from 1,800 m (5,900 ft) to 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in the uppermost Old Manali section.

Demographics

Manali has grown from a trading outpost/ village to a small town; as of the 2011 census of India, its population was 8,096. In 2001, Manali had an official population of 6,265. Males constituted 64% of the population and females 36%. Manali had an average literacy rate of 74%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; male literacy was 80%, and female literacy was 63.9%. 9.5% of the population was under six years of age. During the summer months there is a marked surge in the transients as many of them are employed in the hospitality businesses.

Climate

Himanchal with LehThe climate in Manali is predominantly cold during winter and moderately cool during summer. The temperatures range from 4 °C (39 °F) to 26 °C (79 °F) over the year. The average temperature during summer is between 10 °C (50 °F) and 26 °C (79 °F), and between −15 °C (5 °F) and 12 °C (54 °F) in the winter.
Monthly precipitation varies between 31 mm (1.2 in) in November to 217 mm (8.5 in) in July. In average, some 45 mm (1.8 in) of precipitation is received during winter and spring months, increasing to some 115 mm (4.5 in) in summer as the monsoon approaches. The average total annual precipitation is 1,363 mm (53.7 in). Manali experiences snowfall predominantly between December and beginning of March. The month of January is when it is usually the highest.

Transport

Air

The nearest airport Bhuntar Airport (IATA code KUU) is at Bhuntar town, situated on NH21 about 50 km (31 mi) south of Manali and 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Kullu town. The airport is also known as Kullu-Manali airport and has more than a kilometre long runway. Air India has regular flights to the airport from New Delhi. Recently another operator ‘Himalayan Bulls’ has started flights on Kullu-Chandigarh-Kullu sector thrice a day http://himalayanbulls.com/ International connecting flights naturally are from Delhi’s IGI Airport.

Road

Manali can be reached from Delhi by national highway NH 1 up to Ambala and from there NH 22 to Chandigarh and from there by national highway NH21 that passes through Bilaspur, Sundernagar, Mandi and Kullu towns. The road distance from Chandigarh to Manali is 310 km (190 mi), and the total distance from Delhi to Manali is 570 km (350 mi). Luxury buses (including Volvos) usually ply overnight on this route and are available from all major bus terminals. Besides 12 Non-AC services, HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) runs five daily Volvo and AC buses on Delhi-Manali route and two separate Volvos by HPTDC (Himachal Tourism Development Corporation).

Rail

There is no close railhead available close to Manali. The nearest broad gauge railheads are at Una 250 km (155 mi) away, Kiratpur Sahib 268 km (167 mi), Kalka (275 km (171 mi)), Chandigarh (310 km (193 mi)), and Pathankot (325 km (202 mi)) . The nearest narrow gauge railhead is at Joginder Nagar (175 kilometres (109 mi)). The Kalka–Shimla_Railway is nostalgic narrow gauge route culminating at the state capital of Shimla wherefrom one has to travel by road to Manali.
See Bilaspur-Mandi-Leh Railway for the proposed railway line through this area. As of 2016 no activity is happening on this front.

Environmental Concerns

Manali has witnessed a flurry of activity related to hydroelectric power and tourism. Unplanned and rampant construction has led to severe depletion of forests and pollution of river bodies, along with garbage being disposed on the side of the mountains. There has been a loss of habitat to various species of fauna, not limited to the Himalayan Monal, incidentally the state bird of Himachal Pradesh. This prompted the National Green Tribunal to intervene and limit vehicular movement on the popular Manali – Rohtang Pass highway, as well as Solang Valley. This has somewhat arrested the damage, however a lot still needs to be done.

Places to Visit

Hadimba temple Manali has many attractions but the chief centre of interest, historically and archeologically, is undoubtedly the DHOONGRI TEMPLE dedicated to goddess Hidimba, the Bhim of Mahabharat fame. It has four-tiered Pagoda shaped roof and the doorway is carved with legendary figures and symbols. This temple located amidst wooden forest of deodar is about 2.5 Kms. from the tourist office. It is a pleasant experience to stroll in the temple complex which was built in 1533 A.D. A large festival is held here in May.

Jagat sukh 6 Kms. from Manali located on the left bank on Beas on the road to Naggar. The place is famous for very old temples of Lord Shiva and Sandhya Gayatri in Shikhara style, these are worth a visit. Arjun Gufa 4Kms. from Manali towards Naggar, the cave is situated near Prini village 1Km. above the road where Arjun had meditated. This is good 1/2 a day excursion with charming view of the brilliant mountains.

Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass (3979 m) is 51Kms. from Manali on highway to Keylong/Leh. It offers a panorama and spectacular mountain view. The pass is open from June to October each year although trekkers can cross it earlier. It is a gateway to Lahaul Spiti, Pangi and Leh valley just as Zojila pass is a gatway to Ladakh. There are a beautiful sight of glaciers, peaks and Chandra river flows down in the Lahaul valley. Slightly to the left are the twin peaks of the Geypan. During summer(mid June to October) regular buses ply between Manali-Keylong/Darcha, Udaipur, Spiti and Leh. Rohtang Pass is best visitable between May/June to October/November. For latest information about opening of Rohtang Pass.

Rahala water falls 16 Kms. on way to Rohtang pass. If one goes to Marhi on foot from Kothi from the old road, the sight of the falls is fascinating. It is a good picnic spot as well.

Solang valley 13 Kms. is a splendid valley between Solang village and Beas Kund. Solang valley offers the view of glaciers and snow capped mountains and peaks. It has fine ski slopes. The Mountaineering Institute has installed a ski lift for training purpose. Located here is a hut and guest house of the Mountaineering and Allied sports Institute, Manali. Now a few hotels have also come up. The winter skiing festival is organised here. Training in skiing is imparted at this place.
Nehru kund 5 Kms. on National Highway to Leh,a natural spring of cold clear water named after Pt. Jwahar Lal Nehru, who used to drink water from this spring during his stay in Manali. This spring is believed to originate from the Bhrigu lake situated high-up in the mountains.

Vashist hot water springs and templesVashist, a small village located on the left bank of river Beas towards Rohtang pass is worth a visit. It is renowned for its hot springs and temples. Nearby is the pyramidal stone temple dedicated to Vashist Muni. There is another Temple of Lord Ram here. Natural hot sulphur springs with two separate bathing tanks for gents and ladies are always full of tourists. Turkish style showers fitted baths have also been built nearby. Hot water from the nearby spring is provided for bathing.

Mountaineering Institute, Manali Located 3 Km on the left bank of river Beas towards Kullu, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports Manali, organises basic & advance training courses, in trekking, mountaineering, skiing and water sports. Skiing and trekking equipments can be hired from here by booking in advance. Tourists can visit an interesting showroom here.

Tibetan monasteries There are 3 newly constructed colorful monasteries, where visitors can buy carpets and other Tibetan handicrafts. Two are located in the town and one at Aleo on the left bank of Beas river.

Club house 2 Kms. from the town, club house has indoor games facilities which has been located on the left bank of Manalsu Nallah. There are some picnic spots near it.

Manu temple 3 Kms. from the main bazar in old Manali lies the temple of MANU RISHI. It is believed that this is the only temple of Manu in India, who was the creator of human race on the earth.

Kothi Kothi is also called Koshtampi. It is little below Kalpa, and is overshadowed by the Kinner Kailash peak. The village with its attractive temple, gracious willows green fields, fruit trees makes an altogether lovely landscape. Goddess Shuwang Chandika temple is in the village

Great Himalayan National Park The National Park with an area of 754 sq. Km. is located in Kullu District and has the representative area of temperate and alpine forests of Himachal. It has some the virgin coniferous forests of the State. Vast areas of alpine pastures and glaciers cap this park. This area has many important wildlife species of Western Himalayas, like Musk deer, Brown bear, Goral, Thar, Leopard, Snow leopard, Bharal, Serow, Monal, Kalij, Koklas, Cheer, Tragopan, Snow cock etc. Trekking of Rakti-Sar, origin of Sainj river and camping in alpine pastures is unforgettable. Similar is the trekking route to Tirath the origin of Tirthan river. Visitors can contact Director, Great Himalayan National Park at Shamshi or Range Officer wildlife at Sainj or Range Officer Wild Life at Sai Ropa (Banjar) for assistance and guidance. Camping equipment and guides are provided by the Forests Department.
For more details, visit Great Himalayan National Park website

Manali sanctury This sanctuary starts about 2 Km from Manali town. ItLeopard forms the catchment of Manalsu khad. A bridle path from Manali log huts/ Dhungri temple passes through dense Deodar, Kail, Horse chestnut, Walnut and Maple forests. Night stay in tents at Lambadug or Gallant thatch is an unforgettable experience. Alpine lush green pastures and glaciers beyond Galant thatch are a romantic attraction for the enthusiastic but enduring visitors. One may see Musk deer, Monal and Brown bear digging or ploughing the land and also pug marks with scent of Leopard or Snow leopard. Those who venture up to snows can see herds of Ibex in the glacier zone in summers.

Mussoorie

 

massoorie1Mussoorie is a hill station and a municipal board in the Dehradun District of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is located about 35 km from the state capital of Dehradun and 290 km north from the national capital of New Delhi. This hill station is situated in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayan range. The adjoining town of Landour, which includes a military cantonment, is considered part of ‘greater Mussoorie’, as are the townships of Barlowganj and Jharipani. The pin code for Mussoorie is 248179. Being at an average altitude of 1,880 metres (6,170 ft), Mussoorie, with its green hills and varied flora and fauna, is a fascinating hill resort. Commanding snow ranges to the north-east, and glittering views of the Doon Valley and Shiwalik ranges in the south, the town was once said to present a ‘fairyland’ atmosphere to tourists.The second highest point is the original Lal Tibba in Landour, with a height of over 2,275 metres (7,464 ft).

History

Mussoorie was founded by Lt. Frederick Young ( Born 30 November 1786 at Green Castle, Moville, Ireland, Died 24 May 1874 in Ireland) of East India Company. Lt. Young came to these hills for the sole purpose of bagging some game.

Uttarakhand CoronetHe was so enamoured by the beauty that he decided to build a hunting lodge (shooting box) on the Camel’s Back Road along with FJ Shore, Jt. Magistrate of Doon in 1823. He also raised the first Gurkha Regiment and planted the first potatoes in the valley. His tenure in Mussoorie ended in 1844 and he further served in Dimapore and Darjeeling and retired as a General and went back to Ireland.Sadly there are no memorials to commemorate Gen. Young in Mussoorie. However, there is a Young Road in Dehradoon on which ONGC’s Tel Bhawan stands.

In 1832 Mussoorie was the intended terminus of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India that began at the southern tip of India. Although unsuccessful, the Surveyor General of India at the time, George Everest wanted to have the new office of the Survey of India based in Mussoorie. A compromise was to have it in Dehradun, where it still is.

In 1850 the first beer brewery in India was built in Mussoorie. By 1894 there were 22 breweries in India producing 6 million gallons a year.

By 1901 Mussoorie’s population had grown to 6,461, rising to 15,000 in the summer season. Earlier, Mussoorie was approachable by road from Saharanpur, 58 miles (93 km) away. Accessibility became easier in 1900 with the railway coming to Dehradun, thus shortening the road trip to 21 miles (34 km).

The name Mussoorie is often attributed to a derivation of ‘mansoor’, a shrub which is indigenous to the area. The town is often referred to as ‘Mansoori’ by most Indians.

beautiful_mussoorieThe main promenade in Mussoorie is called, as in other hill stations, the Mall. In Mussoorie, the Mall stretches from Picture Palace at its eastern end to the Public Library (shortened to ‘Library’) at its western end. During the British Raj, signs on the Mall expressly stated: “Indians and Dogs Not Allowed”. Racist signs of this type were commonplace in hill stations, which were founded ‘by and for’ the British. Motilal Nehru, the father of Jawaharlal Nehru, deliberately broke this rule every day whenever he was in Mussoorie and would pay the fine. The Nehru family, including Nehru’s daughter Indira (later Indira Gandhi) were frequent visitors to Mussoorie in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, and stayed at the Savoy Hotel. They also spent much time in nearby Dehradun, where Nehru’s sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit ultimately settled full-time.

During the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion, the Central Tibetan Administration of the 14th Dalai Lama was at first established in Mussoorie before being moved to its present location in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. The first Tibetan school was established in Mussoorie in 1960. Tibetans settled mainly in Happy Valley in Mussoorie. Today, some 5,000 Tibetans live in Mussoorie.

Now, Mussoorie suffers from overdevelopment of hotels and tourist lodges, given its relative proximity to Delhi, Ambala and Chandigarh, and has serious problems of garbage collection, water scarcity and parking shortages, especially during the summer tourist season. Landour, Jharipani and Barlowganj have fewer such problems.

Geography and climate

Mussoorie has an average elevation of about 2005.5 metres (6580 ft). The highest point is Lal Tibba, at a height of about 7500 ft (although the name Lal Tibba is now also used to describe a lovely lookout point, a short distance from the actual peak).

Demographics

As of 2011 India census, Mussoorie had a population of 30,118. Males constitute 55% of the population and females 45%. Mussoorie has an average literacy rate of 89%, higher than the national average of 75%: male literacy is 94%, and female literacy is 84%. In Mussoorie, 9% of the population is under 6 years of age. In Mussoorie Nagar Palika Parishad, Female Sex Ratio is of 812 against state average of 963. Moreover, Child Sex Ratio in Mussoorie is around 918 compared to Uttarakhand state average of 890.

Accessibility

Mussoorie is conveniently connected by road to Delhi and major cities. It is called the “Gateway” to Yamunotri and Gangotri Shrines of Northern India. The closest rail station is Dehradun. Taxis are easily available for Mussorie as are buses at regular intervals.

The best time to visit is from mid-March to mid-November though torrential rain can be an inhibiting factor in the monsoon months of July to September.

Tourism

Tourism is the most significant segment of Mussoorie’s economy. It has a nature walk known as “Camel’s Back Road”. This road takes its name from a rocky outcrop in the shape of a camel’s hump. Along the road, a cemetery is located about mid-way on the loop. There is also “Gun Hill” where a cannon was used to sound out midday for many years. Gun Hill is accessible by the cable car on the Mall road. The oldest Christian church in the Himalayas, St Mary’s, is situated above Mall Road, and is currently undergoing restoration. Kempty Falls is a nice picnic spot. Company Garden is popular tourist destination. During season, the Company Garden has a vast collection of flowers and plants. Happy Valley has a small Tibetan temple. This was the first Tibetan temple built in India. The temple was constructed in 1960 by the Tibetan refugees. Lal Tibba is another tourist spot of Mussoorie. Picturesque Dhanaulti hill station is about 32 kilometres from Mussoorie. Mussoorie also had India’s largest roller skating rink.

Nahata Estate Previously known as “Childer’s Lodge” is a huge property of more than 300 acres, owned by the Harakh Chand Nahata family. It is the highest peak of Mussoorie near Lal Tibba, it is situated at 5 km from the Tourist Office and one can go on horse back or on foot. The view of snow-clad mountains is exhilarating.

GunHill Second highest point of Mussoorie, at an altitude of 2024m located at 30.4953°N 78.0745°E

Kempty Falls The Kempty Falls are situated on the hilly tracks of Uttarakhand, India, 15 km from Mussoorie on the Chakrata Road. This place is located nearly 1364 meters above sea level at 78°-02’East longitude and 30° -29’North latitude.

Lake Mist About 5 km before Kempty Falls on the Mussoorie-Kempty road is a good picnic spot with accommodation and restaurant facilities; boating is also available. With the Kempty river flowing through it, Lake Mist has many small waterfalls made by the river.

Municipal Garden Is a picnic spot having a garden and an artificial mini lake with paddle boating facility. It is located at a distance of 4 km by rickshaw cycles, pony or by a car and 2 km via Waverly Convent School road on foot.

Mussoorie Lake A newly developed picnic spot build by City Board & Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority, is situated at 6 km on Mussoorie-Dehradun road having a facility of pedaled boats. It offers a view of Doon Valley and nearby villages.

Bhatta Falls 7 km from Mussoorie on Mussoorie-Dehradun Road near Bhatta Village. Accessible by car or bus up to Bhatta from where the fall is 3 km by foot. A fall with different ponds for bathing and water amusements, an ideal place for a picnic.

Jharipani Fall Located at 8.5 km from Mussoorie on Mussoorie-Jharipani road. One can go by local bus or car up to Jharipani from where the fall is about 1.5 km on foot.

Mossy Fall The fall is surrounded by a dense forest and is 7 km from Mussoorie. One can go there via Barlowganj or Balahisar.

Sir George Everest’s House Park Estate is where one can find the remains of the building and laboratory of Sir George Everest, the Surveyor-General of India from 1830 to 1843. It is after George Everest that the world’s highest peak Mt. Everest is named. It is 6 km from Gandhi Chowk / Library Bazaar and is accessible by vehicle, although the road is very rough beyond Haathi Paon. The place provides a view of Doon Valley on one side and a panoramic view of the Aglar River valley and the snow peaks of the Himalayan ranges on the other. It is a scenic walk from Library Bazaar, and a picnic spot.

Nag Devta Temple An ancient temple dedicated to Snake God Lord Shiva and is situated on Cart Mackenzie Road about 6 km from Mussoorie on the way to Dehradun. Vehicles can go right up to the temple. This place provides an enchanting view of Mussoorie and the Doon Valley.

Jwalaji Temple (Benog Hill) Situated at an altitude of 2240 m, this temple is 9 km west of Mussoorie. It is situated on the top of Benog Tibba (Hill) and contains an old idol of Goddess Durga. There is a view of the Aglar River valley. It cannot be accessed by vehicle although a motor road goes most of the way from Mussoorie.

Cloud End This hotel is surrounded by thick deodar forest. The bungalow, built in 1838 by a British major, was one of the first four buildings of Mussoorie and has now been converted into a hotel. The place provides peace and calm and is full of flora and fauna.

Van Chetna Kendra 11 km to the South of library point lies an old sanctuary established in 1993 and covering an area of 339 hectares. It is famous for the extinct bird species Mountain Quail (Pahari Bater), which was last spotted in 1876.

Mussoorie is a popular destination for honeymooning couples, mainly because of its relatively cool climes and calm and lovely environment.

Jaisalmer

jaisalmer_amar_sagarJaisalmer, nicknamed “The Golden city”, is a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan, located 575 kilometres (357 mi) west of the state capital Jaipur. Once known as Jaisalmer state it is a World Heritage Site. The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured. It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert (the Great Indian Desert) and has a population of about 78,000. It is the administrative headquarters of Jaisalmer District. It is the largest district of Rajasthan and one of the largest in the country, hugged on the west & south-west by the Pakistani border. The length of the international border attached to Jaisalmer District is 471 km (293 mi).

Origin of name

Jaisalmer is named after Maharawal Jaisal Singh, a Rajput king who founded the city in 1156 AD. “Jaisalmer” means “the Hill Fort of Jaisal”. Jaisalmer is sometimes called the “Golden City of India” because the yellow sand and the yellow sandstone used in every architecture of the city gives a yellowish-golden tinge to the city and its surrounding area.

Geography and climate

jaisalmer1Jaisalmer, being an arid desert region, is prone to extremes in terms of temperature. The temperature varies greatly from day to night in both summer and winter. The maximum summer temperature is around 49 °C (120 °F) while the minimum is 25 °C (77 °F). The maximum winter temperature is usually around 23.6 °C (74.5 °F) and the minimum is 5 °C (41 °F). The average rainfall is 209.5 millimetres (8.25 in). Highest ever recorded temperature was 50.0 °C (122.0 °F); the lowest ever recorded temperature being −5.9 °C (21.4 °F). Temperatures of up to 52.4 °C (126.3 °F) have been recorded near the international border close to Pakistan, but standard conditions of this temperature recording remain unverified.

Water is scarce, and generally brackish; the average depth of the wells is said to be about 250 feet (76 m). There are no perennial streams, and only one small river, the Kakni, which, after flowing a distance of 48 kilometres (30 mi), spreads over a large surface of flat ground, and forms Lake Orjhil (“The Bhuj-Jhil”). The climate is dry. Throughout Jaisalmer only raincrops, such as bajra, jawar, motif, til, etc., are grown; spring crops of wheat, barley, etc., are very rare.

Economy

Bada Bagh and windmill farms of Jaisalmer

Tourism is a major industry in Jaisalmer.

The Government of India initiated departmental exploration for oil in 1955–56 in the Jaisalmer area. Oil India Limited discovered natural gas in 1988 in the Jaisalmer basin.

Musicians and dancers are also a major cultural export from Jaisalmer to the rest of the world. Merasi (formerly Manganiyar, a derogatory term meaning “beggar”) musicians have played the world over, and Queen Harish, the dancing desert drag queen, is touring the world and has featured in international movies.

Jaisalmer is also known for its leather messenger bags, made from wild camels native to the area.

Event Destination

Jaisalmer is one of the most preferred event organizing destinations in Rajasthan. Roadies (India’s T.V. show), Balika Vadhu, Maharana Pratap, and several movies were shot in various locations and famous fort structured hotels of Jaisalmer.

Transport

Jaisalmer is connected to the rest of Rajasthan by buses provided by Rajasthan State Transport Corporation as well as other private bus operators. The airport is currently inactive. There are daily trains between Jaisalmer and Jaipur, through which it is connected to Delhi and other cities all over India. Additionally, there exists a luxury tourist train known as Palace On Wheels, which covers the major tourist destinations of Rajasthan, including Jaisalmer.

Visitor attractions

Jaisalmer Fort

Built in 1156 by the Bhati Rajput ruler Jaisal, Jaisalmer Fort, situated on Meru Hill and named as Trikoot Garh has been the scene of many battles. Its massive sandstone walls are a tawny lion colour during the day, turning to a magical honey-gold as the sun sets. The famous Indian film director Satyajit Ray wrote a detective novel and later turned it into a film − Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) which was based on this fort. This is a living fort and about a quarter of city’s population still live inside the fort. The main attractions inside the fort are: Raj Mahal (Royal palace), Jain temples and the Laxminath temple.

Jain heritage of Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer has been enriched by its Jain community, which has adorned the city with beautiful temples, notably the temples dedicated to the 16th Tirthankara, Shantinath, and 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanath.

There are seven Jain temples in total which are situated within the Jaisalmer fort built during 12th and 15th centuries. Among these temples, the biggest one is the The Paraswanath Temple and is most attractive; others being Chandraprabhu temple, Rishabdev temple, Shitalnath Temple, Kunthunath Temple, and Shantinath Temple. Known for their exquisite work of art and architecture that was predominant in the medieval era the temples are built out of yellow sandstone and have intricate engravings on them.

Jaisalmer boasts some of the oldest libraries of India which contain rarest of the manuscripts and artefacts of Jain tradition. There are many pilgrimage centres around Jaisalmer such as Lodhruva(Lodarva), Amarsagar, Brahmsar and Pokharan.

Museums

Desert Culture Centre & Museum, Jaisalmer Folklore Museum, Government Museum, Jaisalmer Fort Palace Museum, Jaisalmer War Museum, Akal Fossil Park Museums,Cactus Park Museum, Kuldhara

Gadsisar Lake – Excavated in 1367 by Rawal Gadsi Singh, it is a scenic rainwater lake surrounded by the small temples and shrines of Amar Sagar. Earlier, this lake was used to be the main water source of Jaisalmer. Due to an increased water demand for agriculture, the lake is increasingly threatened to dry out.

In neighbourhood

Bada Bagh, a complex with chhatris of Jai Singh II (d. 1743) and subsequent Maharajas of Jaisalmer, Lodhruva, Desert National Park, Bhaniyana, Lanela

Desert Festival

This is held over three days in January/February every year. This is the best time to visit Jaisalmer to witness performing arts like Kalbelia dances and folk songs and music.

How to reach

By Air:
Jaisalmer is located 300 km (190 mi) from Jodhpur airport.
A civil airport has been constructed in Jaisalmer and will soon be inaugurated.

By Rail:
Jaisalmer has daily connectivity with Bikaner, Lalgarh, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Pali, Jaipur, Alwar, Rewari, Gurgaon, Delhi, Ghaziabad, Muradabad, Kathgodam, Kashipur & Ramnagar. The weekly train connectivity with Abu road, Lucknow, Gaya, Varanasi, Mughalsarai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Vadodra, Surat & Mumbai. Occasionally special AC super fast trains or express trains available on Diwali, Deshhara, Winter leaves, Christmas, New year & Desert festival (during peak seasons) from Jaipur & Delhi. Jaisalmer is also one of the major stations in the journey by India’s most luxurious train “Palace on Wheels”

By Road:
Jaisalmer town lies on Highway No. 15. It has luxury Mercedes and Volvo bus connectivity with Delhi, as well as Ahmedabad. Many buses are of the RSRTC and also many private bus operators ply from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur, Jaipur, Barmer,Udaipur, Bikaner,Mt Abu, Ahmadabad, Mumbai, Pune and other cities of India.

Jaipur

Golden TriangleJaipur is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan in Northern India. It was founded on 18 November 1726 by Maharaja Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amer after whom the city is named. As of 2011, the city has a population of 3.1 million, making it the tenth most populous city in the country. Jaipur is also known as the Pink City of India. Located 260 km from the Indian capital New Delhi, Jaipur forms a part of the Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Agra (240 km). Jaipur is a popular tourist destination in India and serves as a gateway to other tourist destinations in Rajasthan such as Jodhpur (348 km), Jaisalmer (571 km) and Udaipur (421 km).

Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur

The city of Jaipur was founded in 1726 by Jai Singh II, the Raja of Amer who ruled from 1688 to 1758. He planned to shift his capital from Amer, 11 km from Jaipur to accommodate the growing population and increasing scarcity of water.[5] Jai Singh consulted several books on architecture and architects while planning the layout of Jaipur. Under the architectural guidance of Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur was planned based on the principles of Vastu shastra and Shilpa Shastra. The construction of the city began in 1726 and took four years to complete the major roads, offices and palaces. The city was divided into nine blocks, two of which contained the state buildings and palaces, with the remaining seven allotted to the public. Huge ramparts were built, pierced by seven fortified gates.

During the rule of Sawai Ram Singh, the city was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, in 1876. Many of the avenues remained painted in pink, giving Jaipur a distinctive appearance and the epithet Pink city. In the 19th century, the city grew rapidly and by 1900 it had a population of 160,000. The wide boulevards were paved and its chief industries were the working of metals and marble, fostered by a school of art founded in 1868. The city had three colleges, including a Sanskrit college (1865) and a girls’ school (1867) opened during the reign of the Maharaja Ram Singh II.

Climate

Jaipur has a hot semi-arid climate under the Köppen climate classification “BSh“, receiving over 650 millimetres (26 in) of rainfall annually but most rains occur in the monsoon months between June and September. Temperatures remain relatively high during summer from April to early July having average daily temperatures of around 30 °C (86 °F). During the monsoon there are frequent, heavy rains and thunderstorms, but flooding is not common. The winter months of November to February are mild and pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from 10–15 °C (50–59 °F) and with little or no humidity and cold waves lead to temperatures near freezing.

Demographics

Architecture

The city was planned according to Indian Vastu shastra by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya in 1727. There are three gates facing east, west, and north. The eastern gate is called Suraj pol (sun gate), the western gate is called Chand pol (moon gate) and the northern gate faces the ancestral capital of Amer.

The city is unusual among pre-modern Indian cities in the regularity of its streets, and the division of the city into six sectors by broad streets 34 m (111 ft) wide. The urban quarters are further divided by networks of gridded streets. Five quarters wrap around the east, south, and west sides of a central palace quarter, with a sixth quarter immediately to the east. The Palace quarter encloses the Hawa Mahal palace complex, formal gardens, and a small lake. Nahargarh Fort, which was the residence of the King Sawai Jai Singh II, crowns the hill in the northwest corner of the old city.

Economy

Rajasthan SplendorIn addition to its role as the provincial capital, educational, and administrative centre, the economy of Jaipur is fuelled by tourism, gemstone cutting, the manufacture of jewellery and luxury textiles, and information technology. Three major trade promotion organisations have their offices in Jaipur. These are: Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry, (FICCI) the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) which has its regional offices here. In 2008, Jaipur was ranked 31 among the 50 Emerging Global Outsourcing cities. Jaipur Stock Exchange is one of the regional stock exchanges in India and was founded in 1989. Jaipur is a major hub for arts and crafts. It has many traditional shops selling antiques, jewellery, handicrafts, gems, bangles, pottery, carpets, textiles, leather and metal products. Jaipur is one of India’s largest manufacturers of hand-knotted rugs. Jaipur leg, a rubber-based prosthetic leg for people with below-knee amputations, was designed and is produced in Jaipur.

Culture

Jaipur has many cultural sites like Jawahar Kala Kendra formed by Architect Charles Correa and Ravindra Manch. Government Central Museum hosts several arts and antiquities. There is a government museum at Hawa Mahal and an art gallery at Viratnagar. There are statues depicting Rajasthani culture around the city. Jaipur has many traditional shops selling antiques and handicrafts. The prior rulers of Jaipur patronised a number of arts and crafts. They invited skilled artisans, artists and craftsmen from India and abroad who settled in the city. Some of the crafts include bandhani, block printing, stone carving and sculpture, tarkashi, zari, gota-patti, kinari and zardozi, silver jewellery, gems, kundan, meenakari and jewellery, Lakh ki Chudiya, miniature paintings, blue pottery, ivory carving, shellac work and leather ware.

Jaipur has its own performing arts. The Jaipur Gharana for Kathak and Ghoomar are popular folk dance styles. Tamasha is an art form where Kathputli puppet dance is shown in play form. Jaipur has four majors fairs and festivals namely Elephant Festival, Gangaur, Kite Festival Jaipur and Teej. Jaipur is also famous for the Jaipur Literature Festival, the world’s largest free literature festival in which country-wide authors, writers and literature lovers participate.

Cuisine

Typical dishes include Dal Baati Churma, Missi Roti, Gatte ki Sabzi, Ker Sangri, and Bajre ki Roti. Sweet dishes include Ghevar, Feeni, Mawa Kachori, Gajak, Chauguni ke laddu, and Moong Thal.

Languages

The main language of Jaipur is Rajasthani. Dhundhari, Marwari, Hindi and English are also spoken in the city.

Places of interest

Jaipur is a major tourist destination in India forming a part of the Golden Triangle. In the 2008 Conde Nast Traveller Readers Choice Survey, Jaipur was ranked the 7th best place to visit in Asia. According to Traveller’s Choice Awards for Destination, Jaipur ranked 1st among the Indian destination for the year.

Jaipur Exhibition & Convention Centre (JECC) is Rajasthan’s biggest convention and exhibition centre. It is famous for organising events such as Vastara, Jaipur Jewellery Show, Stonemart 2015 and Resurgent Rajasthan Partnership Summit 2015.

Visitor attractions include the Hawa Mahal, Jal Mahal, City Palace, Amer Fort, Jantar Mantar, Nahargarh Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Galtaji, Govind Dev Ji Temple, Garh Ganesh Temple, Sri Kali Temple, Birla Mandir, Sanganeri Gate and the Jaipur Zoo. The Jantar Mantar observatory and Amer Fort are one of the World Heritage Sites. Hawa Mahal is a five-storey pyramidal shaped monument with 953 windows that rises 15 metres (50 ft) from its high base. Sisodiya Rani Bagh and Kanak Vrindavan are the major parks in Jaipur.

Birla Mandir, Jaipur, Amer Fort, Gardens at Amer Fort, Ganesh Pol of Amer Fort, Jantar Mantar

Sports

The main cricket stadium in the city, Sawai Mansingh Stadium, has a seating capacity of 23,185 and has hosted national and international cricket matches. Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium, Chaugan Stadium and Railway Cricket Ground are the other sporting arenas in the city. The city is represented in the IPL by Rajasthan Royals and Pro Kabaddi League by Jaipur Pink Panthers.

Transport

Road

Jaipur is located on National Highway No.8 connecting Delhi and Mumbai. National Highway 12 links Jaipur with Kota and National Highway 11 links Bikaner with Agra passing through Jaipur. RSRTC operates bus service to major cities in Rajasthan, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Gujarat. City buses are operated by Jaipur City Transport Services Limited (JCTSL) of RSRTC. The service operates more than 400 regular and low-floor buses. Major bus depots are located at Vaishali Nagar, Vidyadhar Nagar and Sanganer.

Jaipur BRTS was approved by the government in August 2006. Jaipur BRTS is managed by JCSTL, a special purpose vehicle formed by Jaipur Development Authority and Jaipur Nagar Nigam. In Phase I, two corridors have been proposed: a “North-South Corridor” from Sikar Road to Tonk Road and an “East-West Corridor” from Ajmer Road to Delhi Road. A section of the North-South Corridor from bypass near Harmada to Pani Pech became operational in 2010.

Rail

Jaipur is the headquarters of North Western Zone of Indian Railways. Jaipur Railway Station is well connected to all major cities of India like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad. Other stations include Gandhinagar, Durgapura, Jagatpura, Ninad Benad and Sanganer.

Jaipur Metro commenced commercial operation on 3 June 2015. Phase-1A is operational between Mansarovar and Chandpole consisting of 9 stations namely Mansarovar, New Aatish Market, Vivek Vihar, Shayam Nagar, Ram Nagar, Civil Line, Railway Station, Sindhi Camp and Chandpole. Phase-1B is under construction. The estimated cost of the project is ₹550 crore (US$82 million) and it is expected to be completed by 2018.

Air

Jaipur International Airport is in Sanganer, 10 km from the centre. The airport handled 255,704 international and 1,267,876 domestic passengers in 2009–2010. Jaipur Airport also provides air cargo services. During winter, flights towards Indira Gandhi International Airport are diverted to Jaipur Airport due to heavy fog in Delhi. The airport operates regular domestic services to major Indian cities including Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune and Udaipur. International destinations served include Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat, Singapore and Sharjah.

Ranikhet

 

Uttarakhand CrestRanikhet is a hill station and cantonment town in Almora district in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is the home for the Military Hospital, Kumaon Regiment (KRC) and Naga Regiment and is maintained by the Indian Army.

Ranikhet is at an altitude of 1,869 metres (6,132 ft) above sea level and coordinates: 29.65°N 79.42°ECoordinates: 29.65°N 79.42°E and within sight of the western peaks of the Himalayas.

History

Ranikhet, which means Queen’s meadow in Hindi, gets its name from a local legend, which states that it was here, that Raja Sudhardev won the heart of his queen, Rani Padmini, who subsequently chose the area for her residence, giving it the name, Ranikhet, though no palace exists in the area.

In 1869, the British established the headquarters of the Kumaon Regiment here and used the station as a retreat from the heat of the Indian summer. At one time during British Raj, it was also proposed as the summer headquarters of Government of India, in lieu of Shimla. In 1900, it had a summer population of 7,705, and its corresponding winter population was measured in 1901 as 3,153

Ranikhet had been under Nepalese rule, and the Kumaonese (people of Kumaon Region) won it under the leadership of their able General Kashi Nath Adhikari – after whom the small town of Kashipur was named (which at one point of time was the gateway to the hills and is now an educational and institutional hub) – with the help of Britishers at around 1816 and is a part of India now.

Geography

Ranikhet has an average elevation of 1,869 m (6,132 ft).The climate of the village is very cool. The cantonment is spread across two ridges, the first, called the Ranikhet ridge, is situated at an elevation of 5,983 ft (1,824 m) and the second, the Chaubattia ridge, is at an elevation of 6,942 ft (2,116 m).

Climate

himalayas_ranikhetRanikhet becomes very cold in the winters and remains moderate in summers, and is best enjoyed from March to October. Ranikhet gets snowfall in the winter season, mainly in the months of December, January and February. But in the rest of the months the weather of Ranikhet remains pleasant.

Flora and fauna

The pine, oak, and deodar forests host an array of wildlife including leopard, leopard cat, mountain goat, barking deer, sambar, pine marten, Indian hare, red-faced monkey, jackal, langur, red fox, and porcupine.

Places to visit

Golf Course

Ranikhet Golf Course is one of the highest golf courses of Asia, located 5 kilometres (3 mi) from main Ranikhet City. Ranikhet Golf Course is a 9-hole course making it one of the prime attractions of Ranikhet. The green meadow of the golf course at such high altitude is awe-inspiring. The golf club provides membership plans for outsiders as well .Golf course is located in KALIKA.

Ashiyana Park

Ashiyana Park is situated in the midst of Ranikhet town. The Park is specially designed & developed for children on jungle theme by Ranikhet Cantt.

Mankameshwar Temple

This temple is attached to the Nar Singh Maidan (Ground), constructed by the Kumaon regiment. Opposite the temple is a Gurudwara and a Shawl factory.

Rani Jheel

There is another jewel added to the beauty of town “Rani Jheel”. Located nearby Nar Singh Stadium, beneath the Veer Naari Awas it gives the visitors a chance to relax and enjoy the ride of Boats.

Binsar Mahadev

The artistic structure of the Binsar Mahadev Temple and its deity Lord Shiva both adds positive vibes to our mind and soul. A beautiful stream flowing close to the Binsar Mahadev Temple adds amazement to the natural beauteousness of this sacred place. Binsar Mahadev Temple is situated amidst beautiful pine and deodar trees. Apart from the temple an ashram, Binsar Mahadev also has lovely cedar forest surroundings.

Haidakhan Temple

Situated 4 km from Ranikhet, Haidakhan Temple (Hairakhan Temple or Chilianaula) is dedicated to Lord Shiva made by Shri Haidakhan Maharaj who is said to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva.

The splendid views of the gigantic Himalayan peaks are clearly visible from Haidakhan Temple.

Bhalu Dam or Baludham

It is an artificial small lake blessed with natural bounteousness, panoramic views of the Himalayan Mountains and placid surroundings. The small but beautiful garden nearby the dam is marvelous.

The dam site is open for all the tourists throughout the year. The views of the massive Himalayan peaks are enchanting and ravishing from Bhalu Dam. It is an ideal spot for camping and picnicking. St. Bridget Church It is an old church in Ranikhet town.

Majkhali

Located at a distance of 12 km from Ranikhet, on the way to Almora, Majkhali offers a close view of the snowy Himalayas with peaceful surroundings. It is a picnic spot on the Ranikhet-Almora road.

Katarmal (Sun Temple)

It is the second most important temple to Sun God, the first one being Sun Temple of Konark in Orissa. Katarmal is more than 800 years old. Situated 25 km from Ranikhet this historical temple is an example of intricate sculpturing.

Tarikhet

Tarikhet is located at a distance of 8 kilometres (5 mi) from Ranikhet is well known for its Gandhi Kuti, and the temple of Golu Devta is venerated in the Kumaon region. It is famous for the Gandhi Kuti and the temple of Golu Devta.

Syalikhet

It is a scenic spot with unparallel beauty situated at a distance of 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Ranikhet. Syalikhet is located in the amidst green forest and apple orchards. The famous temple of Syahi Devi is situated in Syalikhet.

KRC (Kumaon Regimental Centre) Museum

Maintained by the Kumaon and the Naga Regiment of the Indian Army, the museum has a wide collection ranging from stories of the heroics of the First World War till date. It has on display the various weapons captured, flags of enemies captured by the army and also the LTTE boat captured during Operation Pawan. It has stories of the First and the Second Param Vir Chakra who belonged to the Kumaon Regiment. You can also get to know the list of all the Army Generals who belonged to the Kumaon Regiment. The regiment, which has a long and successful history of heroics and tales of valor, is on full display at the museum. Contributions by the Regiment during the World Wars, during the Indo-China war and the Pakistan war, during Kargil and Op Pawan can be known at this Museum. The Museum is very well maintained by the Army and they also provide an Army guide who will help understand the history and the heroics of the Regiment. Photography is prohibited inside the Museum. Interesting to see are the weapons captured during the war, some of them weigh nearly 80 kg and require at least 2 people to carry and load it. You also get to see the medals and uniforms of the brave soldiers. A visit to this Museum is must when going to Ranikhet. One gets a strong feeling of patriotism when visiting this museum.

Jhula Devi temple

Jhula Devi temple is situated at a distance of 7 kilometres (4 mi) from the town of Ranikhet near Chaubatia. It is said that the dense jungle near the temple was once full of wild animals, leopards and tigers used to attack local villagers. The villagers prayed to Maa Durga for protection, and one day Goddess Durga came in a shephard’s dream and advised him to excavate her idol. This temple was constructed at the spot where the shepherd found Goddess Durga’s idol. Since then pilgrims come to make a wish to Goddess Jhula Devi. And when their wish is fulfilled they come again to thank Jhula Devi Maa by offering a bell to the temple. The popularity of the temple can be realized by number of bells hanging over the temple walls. The temple priests have to timely shift the old bells to a different place to make room for the new bells that are tied everyday. In addition to bells, dried coconut and prasad is offered to the Goddess. This place has a calm environment and a sense of spiritual peace to it.

Rama Mandir (Temple)

Located in the vicinity of Jhula Devi temple is the Rama Mandir, dedicated to lord Rama. A small flight of stairs goes to the hilltop where the temple is situated. Rama Mandir has a monastery where students are taught ancient vedas along with vedic and modern mathematics in direction of Sant Sri Mouni Maharaj. People who have a keen interest in vedas should not miss the chance to visit this temple.

Chaubatia Gardens

Located about 10 kilometres (6 mi) from Ranikhet, this place has plantation of apricots, peaches, chestnuts, and almonds and is famous for apple orchards. With a wide variety of Himalayan flora, it also offers the picturesque views of snowcapped Himalayas. Apart from fruits, one can buy fresh juices and artisan honey from the garden store on the way out.

Language

The local languages are Hindi and Kumaoni.

Transport

Ranikhet is situated at a distance of 350 kilometres (217 mi) from Delhi, well connected by road and railway. The nearest railway station is Kathgodam, approximately 68 kilometres (42 mi) from Ranikhet (GMAPS). Pantnagar Airport is the nearest airport. Nearest hill stations are Almora – 50 km, Nainital – 60 km. There are some more places nearby which can be visited like Chaubatia, Dwarahat, Kausani, Chaukhutia, Majhkhali, Naina Gaon, Jalali, Barakham, Doonagiri, Naithna, Masi and Pali.

Munnar

munnar_hillstation_keralaMunnar is a town and hill station located in the Idukki district of the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. Munnar is situated at around 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) above sea level, in the Western Ghats range of mountains. Munnar town is situated on the Kannan Devan Hills village in Devikulam taluk and is the largest panchayat in the Idukki district covering an area of nearly 557 square kilometres (215 sq mi).] The nearest major railway stations are at Ernakulam and Aluva (approximately 140 kilometres (87 mi) by road). The Nearest Functioning Railway station is at Udumalaipettai according to Google maps. The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, which is 105 kilometres (65 mi) away.

Munnar is a beautiful hill station, and was the summer resort of the British. Tourists come here to see the vast tea plantations of the area. The town itself is typically Indian with the usual shops, guest houses and is really beautiful and traditional. It is a good place to see the surrounding countryside. It is also a popular place for Indian honeymooners.

The town is divided into two parts, Old Munnar, where the tourist information office is, and Munnar, where the bus station and most guest houses are located.

The region in and around Munnar varies in height from 1,500 m (4,921 ft) to 2,695 m (8,842 ft) above mean sea level. It is pronounced “Moon-aar” short for “moonu aar” meaning 3 rivers. Three rivers – Madupetti, Nallathanni and Periavaru which flow through this town, but join some distance away from Munnar.

Munnar is famous for its tea plantations, many of them started by the British. The “Kannan Devan” brand of Tea from the Tata is cultivated and processed here.

The strobilanthus (“neelakurinji” in Malayalam, the local language), a blue flower which blooms only every 12 years, is found in this region. It bloomed last in December 2006. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, at 2,695 m.

Eravikulam national park is one of the main tourist attraction, where you can find the endangered species of Nilgiri Tahr (mountain goat called “varayadu” in Malayalam). A treck to Rajamala (“King of hills” in Malayalam), in the morning is sure to spot a few friendly mountain goats. You can also find Gaur, Langur, Lion-tailed macaque, and Elephants depending on the season and time of travel. The altitude is 1,600-1.800 m above sea level.

Flora and fauna

munnar_top_stationMost of the native flora and fauna of Munnar have disappeared due to severe habitat fragmentation resultant from the creation of the plantations. However, some species continue to survive and thrive in several protected areas nearby, including the new Kurinjimala Sanctuary to the east, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Manjampatti Valley and the Amaravati reserve forest of Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary to the north east, the Eravikulam National Park and Anamudi Shola National Park to the north, the Pampadum Shola National Park to the south and the proposed Palani Hills National Park to the east.

Endemic species

These protected areas are especially known for several threatened and endemic species including Nilgiri Thar, the grizzled giant squirrel, the Nilgiri wood-pigeon, elephant, the gaur, the Nilgiri langur, the sambar, and the neelakurinji (that blossoms only once in twelve years). [5][6]

Geography and climate

The region in and around Munnar varies in height from 1,450 meters (4,760 ft) to 2,695 meters (8,842 ft) above mean sea level. The temperature ranges between 5 °C (41 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F) in winter and 15 °C (59 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F) in summer. Temperatures as low as −4 °C (25 °F) have been recorded in the Sevenmallay region of Munnar. Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies it as subtropical highland (Cwb).

Weather

The season between October and March (post-monsoon) is considered the best to visit Munnar. It is suggested to take some warm clothes and rain coats along with you. Temperature ranges from 15 to 25 degrees during summer, and 5 to 10 degrees in winter. The atmosphere remains cool and pleasant throughout the year.

Language

Malayalam and Tamil are main languages spoken here. However, you can manage with English as people are highly educated here and they often communicate in English.

Transport

By air

Cochin International airport (IATA: COK), also known as Nedumbassery Airport. It is approximately 125 km away from the Munnar by road. Cochin International airport is nicely connected to metropolitan cities of India and some other cities abroad.

By train

The nearest railway station is Aluva, 110 km. Ernakulam is 130 km and Madurai is 135 km. Angamali Railway Station is another nearest rail-head to reach Munnar.

From all these railway stations, you can get direct regular buses to Munnar. First Bus starts at early morning 6AM and after that those are available at regular intervals. Apart from buses, you can easily get private taxis or cabs from all the railway stations.

By bus

Munnar bus station is on the main street, Main Bazaar.

  • Kochi – Takes around 6 hours. Buses leave Kochi between 6AM-6PM.
  • Aluva – Nearest bus station to the Cochin International Airport. About 4 hrs uphill to Munnar, and 3-3.5 hrs downhill.

    Distances from Munnar to various cities:

    • Cochin – 130 km
    • Madurai – 135 km
    • Aluva – 110 km
    • Alleppey – 180 km
    • Kumarakom – 140 km
    • Thekkady – 106 km
    • Pollachi – 120 km
    • Coimbatore – 160 km

    The road to Munnar is narrow with lots of bends and curves. Hire a taxi or a driver with local experience if you are not familiar with similar conditions

Tourist Interest

  • Atukkad Waterfalls (You can find a road leading to Atukkad Waterfalls on Kochi road, just about 5 km from Munnar). This road is very narrow and needs a lot of experience to drive on). A scenic waterfalls amidst hills and jungles. 
  •  Blossom Park (Also known as Hydel Park) (1 km from Munnar).  
  •  Chithirapuram (located at a distance of around 10 km from Munnar). Chithirapuram has old playgrounds and courts, bungalows and sleepy little cottages which all give this place an old world charm. This town is also famous for its tea plantations 
  • Pothamedu View Point. A small village inhabited 1 km away from headworks dam. Coffee and Cardamom plantation are sights to behold. 
  • Munnar Echo Point (15 km from Munnar on the way to top station). A small lake set amidst rolling hills. Every loud call made from a spot on the lake embankment is returned manifold by the echo from the surrounding hills. Young tourists throng to this place to listen to the echoes of their friendship calls. 
  • Photo Point (2 km from Munnar). It is a small place filled with woods and a small stream. Good location to take photos. 
  • Kalvarimount, Situated at a distance of 5 km from Idukki, it is one of the famous hill station for tourist and one can see the view of Reservoir from Idukki to Ayyappancovil.
  • Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, At a height of about 2,175 m (7,130 ft), this orthodox tea factory lays claim to being one of the highest in the world. The view of the Western Ghats is absolutely enchanting.
  •  Mathikettan national park (Poopara) (34 km from Munnar on Munnar Thekkadi route.).  
  • Salim Ali (Thattekkad) Bird Sanctuary (Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary). There are woodpeckers, Malabar gray hornbills, Ceylon frogmouths, parakeets, and rose-billed rollers. This sanctuary is located 20 km from Kothamangalam on the road between Ernakulam and Munnar. There are basic and mid-range hotels in Kothamangalam and an Inspection Bungalow in Boothathankettu. You can take a boat cruise from Boothathankettu to Thattekkadi.
  • Waterfalls, Check out several natural waterfalls on the way to Munnar. They provide an excellent place for photography.

Does for Tourist

  • Boating, there are several places to go out for boating in Munnar. One can choose among paddle boats and speed boats to Kashmiri-Shikara. Young couples who travel to Munnar should not miss out on the beautiful ‘Kashmiri-Shikara’ boat ride. It is one of the most romantic experiences.
  • Bicycle. Experience the natural beauty of Munnar by riding a bicycle through beautiful paths of Munnar and pass through a tea state called Madupatty, around 14 km from Munnar. 
  • The Christ Church, in Old Munnar. The exteriors have worn out with time though the charming interiors still have a very nice ambiance. It was consecrated way back in 1910 and still has 14 original rows of pews. The first Catholic Church in the High Ranges was Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church.
  • Elephant Arrival Spot (18 km from Munnar). Here you can board an elephant for a ride.
  • The High Range Club has a charming colonial style. The club house is built of wicker and teak and is the social hub for the tea “Planters” of the region. Members enjoy lounging in the bar over Planter’s Punch followed by a good meal, a game of billiards or reading a book in the library.
  • Munnar Carmelagiri Elephant Park (Munnar Elephant Safari), Mattupetty Rd (On the way to Mattupetty Dam. The elephant safari takes you through the misty forests, deep valleys and the rugged hill paths of the Munnar forests. One hour package, half day and one day tours. Features are, elephant bath, elephant shower, elephant feeding, timber dragging demonstrations and displays of elephant commands and communication. 
  • Munnar Supply Association (MSA), Set up in 1900, this is another nostalgic landmark worth visiting in Munnar. It is the oldest department store in the area and has been re-inventing itself to stay relevant and popular after almost 102 years. The store was run by “planters” who still manage its affairs. The MSA is a red brick, red tiled building with gables, buttresses and a porch and is now a heritage site.
  • Rock Climbing and Rappelling, Munnar has a steep rock face about 30 m (100 ft).
  • Walk in the Clouds, Trek to your heart’s content while the clouds slowly descend upon you.