Sunday, 6 July 2014

Goa Attains Title of Best Indian Destination for Relaxation, 2014

The smallest state of India, Goa, located on the western part of the country has been awarded with the title of ‘Best Indian Destination for Relaxation – 2014’ by the 3rd edition of Lonely Planet Magazine India Awards. The award ceremony was held on June 11, 2014 in Mumbai and a lot of dignitaries from the travel industry attended the event.

Expressing pride and happiness for receiving the award of Best Indian Destination for Relaxation, 2014, Shri Dilip Parulekar, Tourism Minister, Government of Goa, said that Goa is a state with multiple facets and people from all over the world come here mainly because of its relaxed vibe. Starting from bird watching to exploring Goan culture and beach hopping, Goa remains flanked by tourists throughout the year for multiple reasons. Goa tourism takes complete care of safety of tourists and cleanliness of the state so that people do not feel uncomfortable at any point of their trip. Mr. Parulekar also mentioned that in order to cater to the large volume of tourists and ensure they go back with pleasant memories of their trip; the government has initiated several projects to improve the accommodation, infrastructure and connectivity to Goa from all parts of India and abroad.

The breathtaking beauty of this small beach destination in India can simply not be ignored. Warm hospitality, multiple accommodation options, clean environment and pleasant weather made Goa an ideal destination to relax and breathe the air of rejuvenation.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Indian Culture Redefined in its Temple Towns of Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli and Madurai

The diversity of Indian culture is worth appreciating. Multiple religions, several spoken languages, plethora of festivals and a varied lifestyle make India a unique country in the world where every state has its own cultural niche. Hardly any country in the world can match up to India’s vibrant cultural hues that leave a significant impact on everyone who comes to India once in their lifetime.

South India is the hub of India’s myriad culture where every state boasts of its distinctive cultural identity. Ranging from traditional dance form to a variety of cuisine and architectural brilliance reflected on the walls of intricate temples, South India is the major part of the country that offers a deep inside into its colorful culture. The temples of South India are not only gigantic structures with intricate wall carvings built centuries ago, but also a reflection of devotion and spirituality practiced by Indians since several generations. Out of all South Indian states, Tamil Nadu is the top cultural state where each and every temple with its embedded features attracts thousands of leisure tourists and devotees from every corner of the world.

During the 11th century, Thanjavur, better known as Tanjore, was under the rule of the Cholas. Tanjore gradually emerged as the stronghold of Tamil culture as the Cholas built more than 70 temples in the region. Every temple is a unique gigantic structure with the Brihadeswara Temple being the most outstanding one. The temple is an apt symbolization of the strength and unrivaled power of the Chola dynasty. It is also one of the oldest temples in India dedicated to Lord Shiva. The dome of the temple rises to over 60metres and the passage surrounding the workroom is embedded with Chola frescos. The stunning Brihadeswara Temple has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and thousands of people who come to India for a cultural trip make sure to pay a visit here.

Fondly known as Trichy, Tiruchirappalli is the home to two famous temples- Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple and Malaikottai Fort Temple. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is the largest temple in India occupying an area as huge as 156 acres. Out of the 21 gopurams or towers, the main tower is 73 meters high and is a distinctive sight of the temple to stare at. Devotees, local people and leisure travelers flock at the temple area to get a sight of this majestic spiritual destination and appreciate its overall beauty. The Malaikottai Fort Temple is built on the apex of the Rock Fort Hill and you have to climb at least 400 stairs to reach the peak. The spectacular style architecture offers a panoramic view of the entire surrounding and the cool wind provides a natural energy to climb up the rocky stairs. On your way to the temple halt at Thayumanaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is a prominent landmark of the temple town of Trichy.

The name of Meenakshi temple is strongly attached to the name of the temple town Madurai. The temple was built at least 3,500 years ago and is the most impressive temples of South India. You can get to see a stream of couples waiting for their wedlock ceremony and thousands to native and international devotes standing in queues to worship the lord. Pillared walls, art museum, several small shrines are dotted around the temple area. You can simply spend one full day in peace and devotion at this holy land of Madurai.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Unearthing North Kerala’s Best Kept Secrets

North Kerala- a secret place in God’s Own Country is waiting to be discovered by wanderers. A land dominated by Muslims and warm and friendly people who add to the beauty of their unspoiled coastline. Absence of tourism and advertisement display boards on highways clearly highlights that North Kerala still restores its silent beauty with less tourist influx. It is a reflection of ancient enigmatic India which holds a legacy of various nations they traded with and still do. A cosmopolitan group of locals, ancient traditions and people walking in rain soaked forests present an image of a land beholding the utmost beauty of nature and mankind.

Beaches, hills, tropical vegetation, backwaters and crisscrossing rivers make up for the hidden treasure of North Kerala. Animal species, surrounding thick jungle, soothing aroma of tea and coffee along with hospitable locals and a regulated tourism industry are apt ingredients to make your holiday a great one. It is not only ideal for a laid back family vacation or a charming honeymoon, but also for backpackers who want to feel the thrill of adventure. Have a look at some of the finest tourist destinations of North Kerala where you can plan for a stay.

The hills of Wayanad in are blanketed by luxuriant forests and undulating spice and coffee plantations. A picturesque drive through Thamarassery Churam, a hill highway having frequent hairpin curves offers breathtaking views of verdant green hills of the region. Meenmutty Falls, Banasura Sagar Dam, Muthanga and Tholpetty wildlife sanctuary and Edakkal caves are attractive sightseeing destinations here. Well connecting roads to and from Kozhikode is a great advantage for tourism in Wayanad to prosper.

Kozhikode, previously known as Calicut, is a historical port town located aptly between lush green Western Ghats and azure Arabian Sea. Fetching abundant beauty from both sides, Kozhikode attracts thousands of foreign and Indian tourists throughout the year. Once upon a time Kozhikode was the sole entry point and trade hub for foreigners like Arabs, Europeans and English in India. From this central point of North Kerala, tourists can easily travel to more calm countryside. Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary and Beypore ship building yard are important sightseeing spots. Take a drop at Kalari School to watch out for traditional Kerala martial arts are taught.

The Bekal Beach and Fort is the most sought after destination in northern Kerala where natural splendor plays with tranquil surrounding to offer utter solace. The golden beach stretches along the azure sea surrounding the well kept Bekal fort. Capture splendid sights of nearby villages, huge coconut groves and rows of deserted fisherman boats along with enchanting sunset and preserve them as exclusive photographs of your trip. Even pleasant backwaters and water sports are major attractions in Bekal. Availability of luxury to budget accommodations make you explore the rawness of countryside in comfort and peace.

Opulent natural beauty and forest life make up the Silent Valley in Palakkad. Vast green forest luring with wildlife species like lion-tailed macaque, leopard, Nilgiri thar, tiger, Malabar giant squirrel and hordes of elephants make your stay here serene yet adventurous. Silent Valley’s tropical evergreen forests are one of the intense and ecologically diverse areas of the Earth which is a treasure trove for wildlife botanists. Rent a jeep, drive down for a day’s trip or stay in a tree house resort to experience the best of this green land.

Plan your trip to North Kerala to explore its resplendent natural splendor and unique culture which seems as if they are created and preserved by God himself.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Kerala Backwaters Dazzle with Snake Boat Races during Onam

Make a trip to God’s Own Country, Kerala, during the Onam festival to enjoy the charm of pulsating Kerala culture and soak in kilowatts of fun. All said and done, your vacation to India will be worth remembering for years to come. Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala is celebrated every year in the month of August-September to mark the homecoming of King Mahabali. During this season of harvest and prosperity, the picturesque tranquil backwaters of Kerala bounce to life with dazzling snake boat races organized all over the state.

These snake boats are unique to Kerala’s culture and custom. They are somewhat 100 feet long traditional canoes with rear end lifted up to a height of around 20 feet. The front portions of these boats are pointed resembling the figure of a snake. The snake boat is also branded as the biggest water vessel used for water sports in India. With around 100 rowers rowing each boat and Vanchi Pattu (Boatman’s song), snake boat races draws the most vivacious and colorful scenery of Kerala dotted with local people in traditional dresses, fringing palm and coconut grooves and dazzling backwaters ever.

A very interesting story revolves around Kerala’s snake boat race. The roots of this fascinating race dates 400-year old battle fought between the kings of Alleppey on boats they used to navigate the lakes and streams of the surrounding area. After one such battle, the defeated king asked his architects to make a superior boat, and hence the Snake Boat was designed. Though these boats were used for battles, years later the locals of the area started snake boat races as a cultural celebration and game to mark the most fertile season of the year. The Pamba River near Aranmulla temple is the prime location of the races. A huge crowd of people including locals and tourists gather at the river banks to watch the event. The participants are generally locals living along the shores and nearby villages. The race distance is around 40kms beginning from hills and stretching up to lower plains. The quintessentially decorated boats sparkle like colorful gems on the crystal clear backwaters. The backwaters of Kottayam, Payippad, Champakkulam, Alleppey sparkle with the utter enthusiasm of boat races in the monsoon hit Onam season.

The Nehru Trophy Boat Race, which was awarded a trophy by India’s first Prime Minister Nehru, takes place at the Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha. The trophy, which is a replica of the snake boat in silver, is indeed a very prestigious award received by Kerala.

If you have not yet decided when to visit Kerala, then book your tickets with GeTS Holidays during the Onam festival. In one single trip to India, you will get the chance to feel the prosperity of a state, prestigious withholding of an age old tradition and enjoy the scenic beauty of God’s Own Country.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

 Your next Destination- Varkala beach and Alleppey backwaters

I never imagined Kerala to be so beautiful. Every time I kept on thinking that why people call it God’s Own Country and never repented when my plan of travel from Kanyakumari to Kerala got cancelled. After 5 long years during my summer break, I got the golden opportunity to travel to this Golden Chariot destination.

Due to time constraint, out of several exquisite sites of Kerala, I chose Allepey and Varkala. As I arrived at Kochi Airport and took a long drive through coconut fringed roads, Kerala became more and more tempting to me. I experienced mild rainfall on my way but rather than being an interruption, it was a blessing to the trip. Kerala is simply blessed with pleasant rainfall, placid water, adequate wildlife, misty mountains and wonderful soothing climate. My first destination was Varkala Beach.

Varkala is a lot more than just palm fringed sun kissed beaches. A lot of leisure activities like sunbathing, leisure walk, sunset watching, boating and swimming adorn the destination. Once I checked in at the hotel and entered my pre-booked room, I simply could not take my eyes away from sight of majestic sea. White waves constantly bumping up and down creating a natural wonder. I simply left my bag and ran to the sea side. The beach is secluded and a tinge of undulating backwaters makes it an ideal vacation spot. I was surprised to know that this is the only place in Kerala where cliffs lie adjacent to the Arabian Sea. Also lines of cafes and restaurants added to its beauty. Varkala turns out to be extraordinarily beautiful in the evening. As the sun went down, the cliff’s cafes and lounges were all lit up to create a golden atmosphere on the cliff top. The reflection on the blue water looked like a golden necklace. The gushing water and sandy beach gave a pleasant colorful feeling as I watched the sun going down. Though I did not indulge in scuba diving and wind surfing, but enjoyed swimming and boat cruise to nearby places to explore exquisite flora and fauna set beside the paddy fields. On the last day at Varkala I visited the Janardanaswamy Temple, a 3500 years old Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

The drive from Varkala to Alleppey was another exciting one. Breathing the cool breeze on my way took me to cloud 9. The pleasant weather made me forget that it was June. On my arrival to Alleppey, I directly checked in at the houseboat. Oh My God! A floating luxury hotel on the backwaters of Kerala decorated with all modern amenities. I could see only one thing all around- green and green spreading the note of tranquility and harmony. I was greeted with a glass of coconut water and took a sit on the deck. After sometime the boat started moving and I was gradually approaching a distant land far from human chaos. As I travelled through calm waterways exotic aquatic life and stretch green lands came my way. Soon I was called for lunch and for the first time I experienced a floating lunch in life. Sitting by the deck and tasting the delicacy of tempting sea food was simply thrilling. Crossing lakes, canals and lagoons, evening approached soon. The sunset was another view to cherish. When it became dark the boat was parked on a corner of a village and I went for a leisure village walk. Local fishermen, village people and freshness of air were all that I came across. I returned to the boat and went for a grand dinner ever. It was worth the money I paid. Ranging from veg to non-veg, so much to eat. I really did not feel like sleeping, but had nothing much to do. A pleasant sleep made a good end to my Kerala trip

Next morning I bid adieu to the houseboat people and headed for Kochi Airport. After all these, I can say only one thing- Kerala is truly God’s Own Country.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Another Beauty Personified in Goa as Monsoon Sets in

Goa has always remained a blessed destination for travelers because of its serene beaches, golden sand and azure sea. And monsoon in Goa has a different charm altogether and is best enjoyed during this season. The pitter patter raindrops on the sandy beaches will make you immerse in the sublime beauty of nature. A dip in the sea and dancing on the rain at the same time will drench you with nature’s two most beautiful gifts. Less crowd, less traffic jams and low noise make Goa pretty silent and secluded in the off-season. But it is this silence and seclusion that drives your mood to experience the cool beauty of Goa. The monsoon season surely sees a dip in parties and water sport activities, but the fun of experiencing the beaches of Goa still continues. With the dawn of monsoon, Goa gears up for several traditional festivals that draw the attention of tourists worldwide.

Chikhalkala, is celebrated on the 11th day of Hindu lunar month of Aashadh (June-July). It is celebrated on a huge village ground in Marcel. The festival symbolizes the collection of several games played by Lord Krishna during his childhood. The rainfall fills up the ground with puddles of water, thereby, creating a slushy platform for the games. 24 hours of continuous bhajan is sung by devotees in the temple. They play in the mud field and believe that playing in mud during this time cures skin diseases, cough and cold. The festival ends with distribution of Prasad.

The Bonderam festival is celebrated on fourth Saturday of August. It includes colourful processions, floats, brass bands and mock battles. Another popular festival is Sao Joao, which is celebrated in Goa amongst the Catholic community. Celebrated on 24th June every year, the festival is dedicated to St. John, the Baptist. During the festival local youth drink feni and jump into ponds or creeks. Women, young girls and local youths wear wreathes of flowers and leaves on their heads. Folk dance and music is in the air and youth participant will zeal and enthusiasm. This festival is all about spirit, merriment and tradition.

To experience a cultural Goa amidst the pleasant monsoon winds, this is the best time to pay a visit. The charm of festivity is in the air and the wet carnival like atmosphere pulls the crowd to mesmerize in celebration and glory.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Honeymoon time in Hills of Kerala

The most ever romantic vacation of your life resumes as soon as you tie the nuptial knot. Holding hands, exchanging vows and pledging to remain each other’s pillar keeping ‘agni’ as witness is wedding all about. And every couple dreams to start on this new auspicious journey on a sweet melodious note. India is naturally blessed with several picturesque destinations where nature welcomes your new life with all beauties it is bestowed with. Fresh air, romantic hills and silent flowing water in water bodies stand as magnificent witnesses to your new found love story.

Come with me to one of the exotic destinations of India where honeymoon is celebrated with much romance and grandeur than anywhere else. Within the Western Ghat in the southern part of India, lay Kerala, where deep blue sea, sprawling tea gardens and rolling hill take you to a distant land where tranquility blends with love to create golden memories of lifetime. Hill stations in Kerala are something that should not be missed, especially when you are in honeymoon mood. The hills of Munnar, Wayanad and Thekkady make Kerala an evergreen paradise for all nature lovers.

Munnar is dotted with enchanting tea gardens, sprawling coffee and orange plantations that offers a picturesque sight to the scintillating beauty of nature. Foggy hills, mighty rivers, gushing waterfalls and vivid flora and fauna have blessed Munnar with some of the best expressions of nature. As Munnar is a major centre of Kerala’s Tea industry, you get to explore the famous tea estate here holding the hands of your partner. It is also spotted with several British architectures and wildlife sanctuaries like the Erivakulam National Park and a rare and exotic flower Neelakurinji. A romantic walk over unwinding tea gardens promises to create evergreen memories to cherish forever.

Wayanad is one of those attractive hill destinations in Kerala which is said to be luring the eyes of travelers, especially honeymooners. It is here where you can trek on the mountain ranges and laze in your resort room facing the green mountain ranges. The misty clad mountains, tea and spice plantations and enthralling natural beauty attracts all honeymoon couples who search for peace and privacy in the lap of Mother Nature. An adventurous trek to Chembra Peak offers an expansive view of the country side that leaves you awestruck. Holding the hands of your beloved climb up the beautiful green ranges to such a spot where you can only hear the whispering of nature. To explore the remains of the earliest form of civilization, visit Edakkal Caves and do not forget to shop bamboo products and preserve them as memories of your romantic vacation. The hilly village of Vythiri surrounded by exotic wildlife and cool climate provides a refreshing adventurous touch to your romantic mood.

The very sound of the word Thekkady takes you to the world of dense jungle, elephants and endless chain of hills and sprawling spice plantations. Almost 90 minutes leisurely drive from Thekkady is the Periyar wild life sanctuary that takes you close to an immense wildlife. An adventurous yet romantic boat cruise in the Periyar Lake makes you watch animals like elephants, deer, bison etc. Periyar forest posses one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries of India spread over the whole district synchronized with hilly towns and picturesque plantations. An adventure is always an icing on the cake during your honeymoon mood. Hold your partner’s hand tight and explore the wildness of Periyar like never before So what are you waiting for? Plan your honeymoon in God’s own country and enjoy the undulating beauty of nature in the midst of romance and privacy.