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Hills Himalayas India Itinerary
The Destination India Holiday Package could spread from a fortnight to a month, with a flexible schedule, which may be nothing short of a miracle. Let us help you cash-in on this holiday by telling you about the top combo-destinations within India that should not be missed!
Start your journey with Himachal Pradesh, and instead of Shimla, choose a different destination! With its plunging pine clad valleys and distant mountain views, Dalhousie, is another of those cool hill retreats left behind by the British. Action-seekers may also welcome a change in this sleepy hill station for its slow pace of life, though lovers of solitude would define it as heaven in the former sanatorium. Take a walk around its three Malls and wooded loops such as Potreyn Road, Bakrota and Moti Tibba hills. Go on a day trip to Kalatop forest and get mesmerized by the charms of its deodar trees. Pack your lunch and some games and picnic near the scenic waterfalls at Panchpullah, and if you want to be in the thick of things, try the stretch between Gandhi Chowk and Subhash Chowk. Tuck in tasty bites and browse through shops selling Tibetan handicrafts, and Chamba and Kullu shawls. This picturesque hill station is encompassed with beautiful churches, of St. John, St. Francis, Sacred Heart School and St. Patrick, all of them exquisite masterpieces of wooden architecture and stained glass panels. The Victorian country mansions remind you of the flavour of an earlier era embedded with colonial artistry. You could also get stunning views of the Pir Panjal Range, which falls in the Kalatop-Khajjar Wildlife Sanctuary, traversing the park’s steep terrain consisting of dense coniferous and oak forests with upper reaches rich in deodar. The wildlife here includes the bear, leopard and the shy ghoral. Dalhousie’s host of thickly wooded trails, magnificent views, and salubrious climes are exactly the need for rejuvenation and tranquility!
It’s that quaint corner of Himalayan seclusion, that’s tucked away in close proximity to the Great Himalayan National Park, the country’s youngest national park, which is remarkably pure, as the tourists are rewarded with the sights of musk deer, butterflies on meadows or the jujurana, with such unparalleled colours that the Himachal legend says that every bird in the universe donated a feather to create this aura! Echoing with birdsongs and gurgling streams, flooded with trouts and angling opportunities, the Tirthan Valley is blessed with a pristine forest cover lorded over by lofty mountains. You may opt for a trek along this Valley, lasting for about a week, which could take you through a range of altitudes and forests, from dense oak and chestnut to birch and rhododendron, and is the best for spotting wildlife. Alternatively, another trek route could take you to the source of the Nada Thach river which is good for birdwatching!
Spiti in Himachal Pradesh has stunning swathes of brown, barren stretches embracing the vast deep blue skies, interrupted by soaring mountains and an incredibly blue river. To reach this place, is a bit of a voyage in itself as the drive takes you through remote, uninhabited areas, with boulder-strewn roads, river beds, high velocity winds, severe cold and high altitudes, making it an irresistible venture for the offbeat! Glacier streams flow through the barren but surreally coloured hills into the Spiti River along which small villages survive with their great monasteries, on tiny oasis and patches of green,. This rugged landscape reminds you of Ladakh, but is visually splendid and spiritually inspiring, as this land of Buddhism is also dotted with chortens (Buddhist shrines) and has one of the world’s oldest monasteries.
Move on to a heavenly paradise! With amazing seafood, sunshine, clear stretches of gorgeous beaches and greenery; Goa is a haven for visitors who could wander through several splendid water resorts which encourage a swim or to go for fishing. For those who dare, there are water sports such as windsurfing, parasailing, dinghy sailing and water skiing. There are also thrilling water scooter rides and it is a great place for scuba diving because of the immense variety of fish life and corals present, besides other sea creatures. This region has a rich architectural heritage visible in its innumerable churches, temples, museums and the famed Dudhsagar Waterfalls are located in its nearby Ghat area, surrounded by lakes and springs, where the visitors and families can picnic at leisure! Though it has a few rivers, the Mandovi river is the most popular with its steamer cruise offers, including a treat of Konkan folk dance and music on board with crowds joining in, and they may even have drinks and dinner on the board! Whatever you choose to do on your vacation, whether it is extreme water sports or lazy days by the sea, this beach destination is sure to cast a spell on you and will entice you to return again and again, offering something new on every visit on the Destination India Holiday Package.
Your next destination is Bengaluru or Bangalore, situated above sea level on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, which has metamorphosed from a slow-paced city of parks, bookshops and service people to a glittering IT capital and mecca of the upwardly mobile! Pubs, eating outlets and bowling alleys make the streets more vibrant even as they try to merge with old-style coffee shops, bookstores and neighbourhood chaiwalas. Each season, trees blossom, bungalows are overladen with bougainvillea, the smell of filter coffee flows, old temples speak of versatile architecture, skies are strewn with clouds, the bazaars rustle with shoppers, the air blows with the bustle of a dance festival, a jazz show or a craft fair! You may quickly breeze through the city with some sight- seeing of the historical buildings, the Cubbon Park, the State Archaeological Museum, the Lal Bagh, the Bull Temple, the Dodda Ganesha Temple. The Wonder La Amusement Park is touted as India’s biggest water park, and the highway has on-ground rides, water slides, wave pools, restaurants and laser show and fireworks every evening. The Banerghatta Biological Park is where the rehabilitated lions and tigers are settled in semi-wild environs, as there is a zoo, a herbivore enclosure with blackbuck, bison, cheetal, sambar , a butterfly garden, a bear enclosure, and for this pleasure a Grand Safari may be arranged to cover all enclosures, or alternatively an elephant joy ride or a short or longer trek! A perfect escapade for the tourists with their families!
Head straight from Bengaluru to Chikmagalur in the same region, which besides its historic links with that aromatic beverage called coffee, is a scenic getaway offering a plethora of destinations as a soothing balm for the mind! For the spiritually inclined there are the Horanadu and Belavadi temples. Nature and adventure lovers have options aplenty, among them the Manyakyadhara Waterfalls, the Hebbe Falls, rafting on the Bhadra River and visiting the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. It is also home to Mullayangiri, hosting an ancient Mullapaswamy Temple, as well as Karnataka’s highest peak, where the stars look close enough to touch, also hinting at a popular trekking option from Bengaluru, on this Destination India Holiday Pacakge!
Unreal and bewitching, the forlorn ruins of Hampi in the same State, dot an unearthly landscape that will leave you spellbound the moment you cast your eyes on it, boasting of a strikingly, unexpectedly and even eerily beautiful environ! Heaps of giant boulders perch precariously over miles of undulating terrain, their rusty hues offset by jade-green palm groves, banana plantations and paddy fields. A World Heritage Site, this is a place where you can lose yourself among wistful ruins, or simply be mesmerised by the vagaries of nature!
Go further! It is not every day that you come across a place as sublime as the Backwaters of Kerala with a long stretch of interconnected rivers, lakes and glassy lagoons lined with lush tropical flora. However, if you do, it is likely there won’t be a better way than this to experience that almost serene and intimate rest, with a few days of cruising on a teak-and Palm-thatched houseboat. Strolling under the palm trees, you may weave in between the rice fields that cover the island and learn more about the lifestyles of the inhabitants. Mid-evening you again jump on to a small country boat and move along with them to enjoy the sunset on the winding backwaters. There may be time to kick back and enjoy the local toddy (alcoholic drink made from coconut) and all that you need to take is a small day pack or small overnight bag, if you opt for a homestay package, where accommodation is on a share basis, and food is traditional but superb Keralan home cooking. Lunch, dinner and breakfast are included, and in the daytime you explore the island with a guide to observe the different facets of regional life, getting a magnetic chance to meet and talk with the people who live here. Otherwise, float along the water, while nibbling on seafood so fresh, that it’s still almost wriggling, and forget about life on land for a while.
Another destination! Drive to Chettinad from Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, to experience the rich cultural heritage of the prosperous Chettiar merchants who hail from the area. Marvel at their palatial mansions, the interiors made of traditional athangudi tiles, natural dyes shaded indigo and green, sometimes crimson, arts patronage and beautiful temples such as the `Vairavar Temple’ known for its musical pillars, each of them producing a different note of the saptaswaram, with a crisp note of the sculpture, especially the elephants and horses. Allow the fragrant aroma of the famed ambrosial Chettinadu cuisine, garnished with hand-pounded spices, to whet your appetite and then head off to the antique shops for some leisurely shopping to pick up a timeless relic from a bygone era.
Get back to Chennai to get a bite of the the state’s rich culture, which is quintessential in character as there are favourite kanchivaram saris, the beloved veshti, the fragrance of mallipu in every street and corner, as much as carnatic music and dance gatherings which are an integral part of urban life in a way no other city can claim. You could start make a visit to the Kapaleeswarar Koil, a Shiva temple, which is an important landmark having beautiful bronze idols and Madras houses. Proceed to Fort St. George which houses the Fort Museum, enclosing a large number of colonial antiquities and paintings, followed by St. George’s Cathedral, a splendid example of classical architecture. Take some time for leisure and pleasure at the Marina Beach which has an Italian-style promenade and is one of the longest urban beaches in the world. You may also try to visit Tirumala’s Sri Venkateshwara Temple, the second richest and most visited temple in India, which invites tourists from all over India to seek the blessings of the deity with the faith that their wish would get fulfilled! And it is here that this trip of Destination India comes to an end, for the tourists to get back with a vast collection of memorable moments en-route!
In Himachal, shopping would entail purchase of walking sticks, woollen shawls, kinnauri mufflers and scarves, chamba rumaals (embroidered handkerchiefs), Buddhist thangkas, kangra miniatures, Chinese shoes, rare books, maps and etchings, crafted walking sticks, handmade carpets, wall hangings, Tibetan dresses, bags, ponchos, jackets, masks, votive objects, lamps, jewellery and trinkets, Andretta blue pottery and statuettes There are stores selling bottled produce like fruit preserves, tahini, muesli, Tibetan cheese, kangra tea.
In Goa, there is a wide variety of attractive handicrafts to tempt the visitors to purchase souvenirs, from coconut shell carvings, silver jewellery, jute macramé, crochet, embroidery, mats made of banana, coconut, pineapple fibre to the famous Goan lace,crochet. Not to be left behind is the fine variety of wines, feni, plentiful fish food, aromatic spices and raw cashewnuts.
Shops and stores are abound in the southern regions with tea, coffee, organic food, pottery, handicrafts, oils, garments, incense, spices, homemade chocolates , handcrafted Pondicherry pottery, Japanese-inspired stoneware in exquisite glazes and colours, tea sets and incense holders, handmade paper products, candles, jams and pickles, honey and leather products. There are quaint little shops selling souvenirs and cosmetics such as aroma therapy oils, spices such as clove, cinnamon, cardamom and pepper. You would also find curtains and lamps made of shell, mementoes, rare antiques from old chettiar homes, knick knacks, instruments, pictures and photo frames, and steel and brass vessels, sometimes at fixed and otherwise at negotiable prices! Ofcourse, silk and mulberry silk, tanjore paintings, handicrafts in gold-plated finish and real gold temple jewellery are the prized possessions of this State and can cause a big hole in your pockets, but worth every penny paid!
In the Himachal areas, there are ethnic cafes and restaurants offering European style food, Continental food, Gujarati food, Indian and Chinese dishes, barbecue, apple orchard rice meals, dal, rotis, desserts like shepherd’s pie and caramel custard, bun-samosa, mutton curry and tandoori grub . The areas and walkways are lined up with stalls or stores of German bakeries,Tibetan momos, Delhi chaat bhandars, Southie idli-dosa, Continental steaks or fish and chips, banana pancakes, pizzas, Tibetan gyathuk, la-ping noodles and steamed tingmo bread, thin crust pizzas and cakes, Italian food like ravioli, lasagne, and coffee with apple pies, just to get that sweet taste on this vacation!
In Goa, Konkani vegetarian menu with exotic dishes like signature dali-thoy, varieties of ghashi, ambaat, sukke, saaru-upkari, kolombo, pathrado, patholi, paayasu, ubbatti, only few of which have been silently adapted in the vegetarian spread of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala food, served in this State. The other cuisine is mostly seafood -based with the rich staple food being fish. Besides a blend of Indian and International speciality and street outlets catering to varied tastes!
Culinary fare in the southern region consists of Indian, Continental, Italian and Chinese food, multi-cuisine, cheese eggs, continental dishes, salads, soups like potato- potato soup, pizzas, pastas, steaks and sizzlers, being sold in outlets spread throughout the area. There are café-style restaurants serving a dish called chaiyo-minced meat-mint-lettuce starter, biryani, simple vegetarian meals, chettinad fare like chettinad soup with drumsticks, accompanied by rice and kozhambu, a thickened tangy stew, sambhar, rasam, curd, kootu, a pachidi which is a raita made with vegetables, a masal of potato or yam, a thovattal of fired vegetables tempered with coconut, and may be a cutlet crumbed and fired on the outside and soft meat or potato on the inside, South Indian cuisine including garlic fish fry with a soft, thick, white dosa, tiger prawns and masala fish fry is also available, catering to foreign as well as Indian taste.
In Himachal, the summer months are pleasant and cool in the hills, but the winters are very cold and snowy, although there is enough rainfall throughout the year. Goa features a tropical monsoon climate, and being in the tropical zone and near the Arabian Sea,has a hot and humid climate for most of the year.The most comfortable season to visit South India would be between October to March, though all these destinations are recommended for a visit throughout the year, as even in the hottest of heat, or the stormiest of a storm, or a heavy downpour of thick rain, Recommended for a visit any time of the year, as there is a plethora of stunning indoor and outdoor panoramas to satiate your appetite in all the above areas, in this journey of wonderous discovery on the Destination India Holiday Package!