Friday, 23 June 2017

5 Topmost Backwater Stays in Kerala

Kerala, one of India’s most appealing tourist destinations, needs little introduction. Indeed, it has a tagline of its own which it does justice to- God’s Own Country. Existing in an age of every new thing being an attraction, Kerala is popular because it has a lot to offer on the new and unique front-backwaters, and homestays. Both different and new compared to run of the mill sightseeing. Backwaters are what one would hope to find in Venice, and are Kerala’s main show object, being indigenous to the state. And homestays are the emerging trend-cheap, healthy food, humane relations with those that serve you, and very often located in champion spots to top it all. Combined together, they make Kerala a site made in tourism heaven.

1. The Zuri Kumarakom Kerala Resort and Spa


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Starting off the list on a high note the way all good things should be started, comes in Zuri, the name you want to look up if you want the best deluxe experience on your Kerala backwater tour. Providing the best in luxury, with suitably high fares, Zuri boasts of a number of premium features like a cigar room, a gaming arcade, an amphitheatre (!) and lagoon view rooms among other attractions. It also provides quality food and some of the priciest rooms on the Vembanad lake itself. To know more about tourist places in Kerala, read:

2. Vembanad House Homestay, Kerala

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Now we come to the highlighted residential feature in the Kerala backwaters-the homestay. Vembanad House Homestay is one of the most notable among the many profitable homestay businesses that have cropped up in the near bouts. It offers authentic Keralite food, and a tantalising view comprised of paddy fields, village life and the magnificent Vembanad lake. It is a peninsula of its own, surrounded on 3 sides by the lake and is located precisely in Muhamma, Alappuzha, Kerala. There are so many things one can indulge in, while on a trip to Kerala:

3. The Coconut Lagoon Resort, Kerala

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Next up on the list is pure heritage and a trip down nostalgia lane. Steeped in old Keralite tradition is this resort, which serves first rate food, hospitality and views to boot. This resort has cuisine which merited mention in award winning books like “The God of Small Things” and captivated the attention of global celebrities like former Beatle Paul McCartney. To explore the best beaches in Kerala, check:

4. Venice Castle Kerala

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Whenever one types in “homestays in Kerala backwaters”, the first name that crops up on the screen is the name of this one. And that is enough testimony in favour of it, by any layman’s opinion. A multiple time winner of several hospitality awards, this homestay was inaugurated to cater to visitors to Kerala, the “Venice” of the east, and hence the name. It boasts of state of the art rooms with facilities like air conditioning, quality traditional Kerala food, calm bucolic surroundings, and is affordable into the bargain. Really, what else does a backwater voyager ask for?

5. Bella Art and Meditation House, Kerala

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We round off this list with a homestay that is so pleasantly unique and packed with cool features that it’s hard to find a match. First are the owners, an Indian-European duo who have diverse specialisations when it comes to their passions, including dance, yoga, travel and all that one can ask for to rejuvenate their selves. Also, the resort has studios to facilitate these. There’s free Wi-Fi and the resort is affordable, and in keeping with the healthy vibe, a lot of the resort is non-smoking, along with being entirely anti-alcohol consumption.

The Times, they are surely a-changing’. Along with every other thing, one facet that has changed widely is the idea of tourism. Gone are the days when a vacation meant your siblings and aunts trudging with you up rocky mountain terrain or fanning themselves sitting on a sweltering monument rooftop in summer. No, you’re more likely to find today’s tourists in a group of college mates, spending time on the terrace of a makeshift tourist motel rocking to beats of their favourite musician performing an impromptu gig. And what led to the coming about of this hippie culture is off-the-beaten-track tourism mainstays like backwater exploration in domestic stays. Kerala is fascinating, and the charm is enhanced by features like homestays in its backwaters, each providing some quirky features to surely attract the potential wanderer.

Author Bio:
Rohit is a traveller who loves nothing more than the new in life, and sure enough, always, manages to stumble upon something like that. Aqua tourism is one among his many interests. You can read more of his travel stories at

Friday, 5 May 2017

10 Best Places to Visit in Sikkim

The lovely state of Sikkim has Himalayas as its backdrop and is a much loved spot of nature admirers, adventure buffs, honeymooners, picnickers, the spiritual, architect enthusiasts and snow lovers. Blessed with an abundance of nature visiting here will really be rejuvenating for the body and mind. Make an itinerary to include the best of places in Sikkim to make the most of the tour to this beautiful place tucked away in the, snow covered peaks, hilly terrains and valleys. Here is a list of a few places albeit not an exhaustive one but may be of some help to make an itinerary of a tour to Sikkim.

1. Tsomgo Lake

Photo by Mahindra Homestays, CC BY 2.0

Passing through the winding road at a distance of 38 km from Gangtok the capital of Sikkim you reach Tsomgo Lake that is nestled amidst the rocky terrain in 2 hours. Here you can spot Brahmini the migratory ducks and Irish Yaks, ride ponies, view the beautiful flora primulas, poppies bloom or just picnic.

2. Nathu La Pass

Photo by NINXIVI, CC BY 2.0
A must visit place in Sikkim is Nathu La Pass. Go for a yak safari, have a look at the war memorial, have a view of the Indo Sino Border Gates, visit the Army Exhibition Centre, just gaze at the snow-covered peaks, go trekking to the Mt Chomolhari during your visit to this pass that leads to Tibet.

3. Ravangla

Photo by Soumya Kundu, CC BY 2.0
Ravangla is a place for the animal lovers, spiritualists, adventure buffs, nature enthusiasts and more. Mane Choekhorling Gompa, Tathagatha Tsal and Pang Lhabsol are the Buddhist attractions here. Get revitalised by going trekking or walking along the forest path to have a view of flora and fauna tucked away in the lap of nature.

4. Zuluk 

Photo by Tirthankar Gupta, CC BY 2.0
A tiny quaint village Zuluk offers beautiful views of Mt Kanchenjunga. Located along the silk route it has etched its name in history books. The religious would love to pay a visit to the nag temple here, while the nature lovers would prefer visiting the Thambi View Point specially to view the sunrise.

5. Yuksom

Photo by dhillan chandramowli, CC BY-SA 2.0
Those interested in trekking in Sikkim, Yuksom is a place for you. There are spots for every kind of traveller here to visit. Norbugang Park, Kathok Wodsalin Gompa and Dubdi Gompa for the devout, Tashi Tenka for the history buffs and architect admirers, Goechala Trek for the adventurist, Kanchenjunga National Park for the naturist.

6. Teesta River

Photo by NINXIVI, CC BY 2.0
Teesta River in Sikkim offers a different kind of views depending on the season. In winter, you can have a stunning silvery view of the frozen river while in summer it flows along shimmering in the sunlight and reflecting the coloured hues of the blossoming flowers. Bird spotting, kayaking, and rafting are the other activities here.

7. Namchi

Photo by Stefan Krasowski, CC BY 2.0
Namchi is a cultural centre in Sikkim and promotes both Buddhism and Hinduism. Statue of Lord Shiva, Sherdup Choeling Monastery, Rock Garden, tea plantations are the attractions of Namchi. Have a view of the flora and fauna, gawk at the beautiful Kanchenjunga peak or just go picnicking here you will enjoy your visit and come back refreshed.

8. Yumthang Valley

Photo by Shayon Ghosh, CC BY-ND 2.0
It is here at Yumthang Valley that the tree line vanishes. You have a variety of rhododendrons is different colours. The view of them in summer is overwhelming. You can also visit the sanctuary and know about its different varieties. Visit the Gurudongmar Lake Nearby, Lachung Gompa and Monastery. Pick some handicrafts to take back home from here.

9. Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden

Situated near the Rumket Monastery is the Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden. Many exotic and rare species of trees and plants are found here. These are of commercial as well as medicinal value. The spread of the different hued flowers offer a spectacular view of the blooming flowers as well as the snow covered peaks in the background.

10. Gangtok

Photo by Kalyan Neelamraju, CC BY-SA 2.0
The capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok will surprise you with what it has to offer for a tourist. Magnificent silver fir trees, boundless walking trails, Jhakri Falls Will enthral the nature admirers, Yak rides and paragliding will thrill the adventure buffs, Do Drul Chorten will interest the architect lovers, Deer Park will fascinate the animal enthusiasts, Café Live & Loud the Bar and Casino Sikkim will draw the nightlife connoisseurs. You must plan your next holiday to Sikkim as there are so many things to do and places to visit in Gangtok.

Visit Sikkim in summer, spring or winter according to your interest and you are sure to carry back unforgettable memories of the places you visited.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

10 Not-To-Dos While Visiting India - Tips for Safe Travel

 Photo by Dennis Jarvis, CC BY-SA 2.0

A country of a thousand cultures and colors, of glorious traditions, religious harmony and of tens of thousands of gods, India is a land tourists flock to see and with good reason. It has sites to satiate your every mood. From adventures like rafting, skiing, parachuting and snorkeling to tranquil and peaceful seaside’s, there is everything one could hope for. But traveling here can be huge cultural shock as well. To help you prepare and relax during your trip to India, we have complied a list of ten things that you must never do while here. These tips will ensure your travel safety and to have fun at the same time.

1. Do Not Drink Tap Water
There is a reason why this is the first precaution. Drinking water from an unreliable place is a major cause of diseases. And you don’t want to be struck down by an ailment in the middle of a holiday, that too in an unfamiliar place. Always carry bottled water with you and only accept water when you are in a 5 star restaurant or a good store. Learn the names of some trusted bottled water brands while in the country.

2. Do Not Accept Food or Water from Passengers on The Train
While it might seem courteous to accept a biscuit or a cookie from fellow passengers, it is extremely dangerous to do so. Cases have been reported of food items being drugged and used to rob people. People might seem kind and helpful but it doesn’t hurt to be careful.

3. Do Not Dress in Skimpy Outfits
A very religious country with strict norms, people in India are of a conservative mindset and western outfits that do not cover you up are not just frowned upon here but attract eve teasers and can lead to other dangerous situations that are best avoided by wearing modest clothes. While major cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai are gradually accepting the modern apparel, in many parts of the country, you will be stared at if you wear anything other than salwar kameez that is the traditional Indian wear. If you do want to wear shorts or short skirts anyway, travel safely and be with trusted people at all times.

4. Do Not Eat Street Food
No matter how famous the street side stall is or how tasty the food may seem, avoid the street food at all costs. Everything from the water and vegetables or fruits used at these stalls is questionable and you can never know when you might be bogged down by a disease. Always eat at well-established places or buy snacks from good stores.

5. Do Not Forget to Carry Sanitizers
Hand sanitizers or disinfectant wipes are the most important part of any travel and you must never leave your room without it. If you’re traveling by public transport like train or bus, you will definitely thank yourself for carrying a sanitizer.

6. Do Not Venture Out at Night
There a select few places in the country where you can freely roam around at night, but most of the tourist zones are not so safe. Special care must be taken by women since India is known to have places which are extremely unsafe. It’s better to step out early for sightseeing and be back before late night.

7. Do Not Engage In PDA
One needs to be extremely careful in India when it comes to PDA. Kissing, hugging or even holding your partner’s hand in public is considered immoral and will attract onlookers and angry stares. Best to be safe and do it in private. Cities like Bangalore and Mumbai are changing their opinion gradually but it might take some time to fully accept it. Better to be safe than sorry.

8. Do Not Forget Your Phone or A Guidebook
It’s easy to get fleeced in India by taxi cab drivers and shopkeepers etc. who will not miss an opportunity to overcharge you. With apps like Uber or Ola and online information about products, one can get an insight on the original prices. Also, it’s easy to get lost in a strange place so better keep that phone and GPS handy.

9. Stay Alert in Crowded Places and Public Transport
A pickpocket’s beloved hang out zones are public transports and crowded markets. Always be aware of your surroundings and stay alert at all times. This will help avoid being robbed at a public place. If you feel suspicious of someone, keep your distance and move away if possible.

10. Avoid Traveling at Night Via Train or Road
Highly unsafe specially in some parts of the country, traveling at night must be avoided at all costs. While flights are a hundred times safer and easier, you might have to visit a place by train or via car. In these cases, it’s preferred that you do so during day time.

Ten handy tips for safe journey through India. Enjoy the fabulousness of this country.

Author’s Bio:
A well-known travel blogger and an architect, Rohit Agarwal spends his free time traveling to fantastic sites in India and the world and shares his adventures with the world through his blog