The decisions we take and the vacations that follow!

In today’s time, everybody loves to travel, everybody stalks other’s profile and wishes to visit the same place, everybody wants to utilise that very long weekend, everybody wants the enjoy the luxury, the beach, the mountain! But, do we plan enough before taking a vacation? To some a Big Yes and to some a No. Well, to each their own! For those looking to travel to faraway places, you need to put your heart and mind in it to decide as to which place to go considering the following factors. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  1. Which time of the year would you want to travel?

Well, answering this question can somewhat answer all the questions. You are the one who wants to travel in off season way cheap, or could be one who wants to visit that country during their best season/time or could be one who wants to travel on specific holidays such as Christmas or New Years. So, this would potentialy increase or decrease the budget for flights and accomodation. Decide the time of the year wisely to save big time just on everything.

2. Do you have enough finances?

Some of us save hard to tick off that place from our bucket list. Enough finances in hand help us to give an upper hand when we are in a foreign land. Also, to travel smart, you ought to book everything in advance, for that matter good savings need to be in place.

3. Where do you wish to stay?

A lot of us are very peculiar as to where to stay. Some prefer luxury 5 star hotels, some prefer guest houses and lodges, some would like to explore the Airbnbs. So, choosing the right stay can shoot your travel expense or vice versa.

4. How much money kept aside for expenses in the foreign land?

Many of us do not look into this aspect of travel. We wish to buy souvenirs for our friends and relatives, buy some specialty from your travel, explore the nightlife and stuff. All this needs extra cash which we do not really calculate at the time of planning. Evaluating expenses at the onset will not lead you to regrets later. So guys, travel as much as you can BUT travel smart!

 

 

Great Initiative for Pilgrimage Rejuvenation-PRASAD

PRASAD stands for Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme in India. The focus is on development and beautification of the identified pilgrimage destinations.

Under the plan scheme ‘PRASAD’, the Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations, for various tourism projects subject to availability of funds, liquidation of pending utilization certificates and adherence to the scheme guidelines.Under the PRASAD scheme thirteen sites have been identified for development, namely: Amritsar, Ajmer, Dwaraka, Mathura, Varanasi, Gaya, Puri, Amaravati, Kanchipuram, Vellankanni, Kedarnath, Kamakhya and Patna.

In pursuance to the Budget Announcements of 2014-15, the scheme was launched in January 2015. The projects sanctioned under the scheme are generally commissioned in 18 to 36 months.

Swadesh Darshan Scheme -13 Circuits to look forward to!

Swadesh Darshan Scheme was introduced by the Cabinet ministry and Ministry of tourism in India to develop theme based tourism in India. With the help of this scheme, the tourists and visitors would get an opportunity to visit the specific tourist circuit in a single tour. 

There are 13 tourist circuits that are proposed and started under the scheme. Under these 13 circuits, there are many cities and sites added for the visitors to get down there and enjoy their holiday. 

When we say a tourist circuit, it means that a bunch of connected places can be visited at one go! An example of this is the famous Golden triangle which covers majorly three places namely Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. So under a specific tourists’ circuit, there will be few renowned places that can be covered by a tourist in a single tour.

The 13 circuits are named as:
1) Buddhist Circuit
2) Coastal Circuit
3) Krishna Circuit
4) Ramayana Circuit
5) Desert Circuit
6) Spiritual Circuit
7) North East Circuit
8) Himalyan Circuit
9) Heritage Circuit

10) Tribal Circuit
11) Rural Circuit
12) Eco Circuit
13) Wildlife Circuit


4 places to stop before you reach Shimla by road!

To beat the scorching sun of North India, families and couples are heading to cooler gateways to beat the heat. If you are planning a road trip this summer to Shimla, you can break it down to these four places and head to your final destination. The journey starts with Delhi or any NCR region:

1) Murthal ke Paranthe:

Early morning drives are best to escape the heat and cover a good distance. It also means you got to fuel your body with nice breakfast. Murthal is an ideal breakfast place with lot of dhabas famous being Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba, Gulshan Dhaba etc. Just head onto any one of these and have Aloo ke Paranthe, Lassi and anything you feel like.2) Chandigarh:

The next on this route without halt would be Chandigarh. The highway is just fantastic and you would reach in straight 3 hours barring any traffic! You could stay in Chandigarh overnight and drive to Shimla the next day or can reach Kasauli, stay and drive to Shimla the next day. Either ways, you can take your road ahead. In Chandigarh, you could visit Rock garden, Rose garden, Sukhna lake and enjoy mouth watering chaats there!
3) Halt at Parwanoo for Lunch:

The famous Timber trail resort Parwanoo is a must visit place for visitors. It is generally packed during breakfast and lunches for visitors going forward to Kasauli and Shimla.
4) Shimla:

Shimla is approximately 80 Kms from Timber trail. Relax and head to scenic Shimla by evening.You could stay at Kasauli and drive to Shimla the next day or reach Shimla after halting at these spots.

Travelling the new way from Mumbai to Goa-Tejas Express!

Well! Well the famous trip of Mumbai to Goa has found a new way to travel! Its a TRAIN journey from Mumbai CST to Karmali, Goa. The icing on the cake is a journey by a semi-high speed full AC train fleet which reaches the destination in approximately 8 hours and 30 mins.

Some major highlights of this speedy train are:

  • Celebrity chef menu, tea and coffee vending machines, WiFi.
  • Bio-vacuum toilets, water level indicators, tap sensors and hand dryers.
  • CCTV cameras, fire & smoke detection and suppression system.
  • Energy-efficient LED lights and digital destination display boards.

Currently, the train is running on Monsoon schedule and that is why it will run only 3 days a week until October. After October it will again move back to normal schedule when it will run on 5 days.

So guys, what are we waiting for!! Get your tickets booked and chalo chalein GOAAAA!!!

  

Backwater Resort Stay at Alleppey

Staying at a good hotel or a resort can make or break your vacation. We realized this on our trip to Alleppey, Kerala. Though Kerala in itself a destination which has picturesque views, serene and sublime backwaters, dense flora and coconut trees all through your way. But what makes the trip all the more memorable is a stay at a backwater resort which makes you feel and visualize everything about the God’s own country,

We chose Punnamada Beach Resort which was an absolute bliss. The resort offered an insight into everything that Kerala is famous for:

  • Backwater boating: The serene backwaters of the lake spread far and wide at the edge of the resort giving it a real feel, You can sit there for hours and hours undisturbed watching the views and the boats and cruise that come by.
  • Kerala architecture: You can witness the traditional Kerala architecture with wooden furnishing and interesting door locks. The rooms are cozy and grand in their own style.
  • Activities at the hotel: A glimpse of everything Kerala has to offer to a wanderlust travel. The hotel had various activities planned to keep the guests engaged right from Coir making demonstration, hi tea followed by backwater boat ride to Bharatnatyam show. One cannot be bored during their stay at the resort.
  • Cycling, swimming and indoor games: Cycling in the resort made the morning all the more pleasant, Other activities you could indulge were swimming and indoor games for the family.
  • Sea Food: The resort had various options for the non vegetarians to satiate their taste buds.

In all it was a wonderful and fulfilling stay at the resort. There are many other backwater resorts in the area which are worth giving a try. Some of the popular ones being Lemon Tree Vembanad Lake Resort, Lake Palace Resorts, The Kayaloram Lake Resort etc.

Exploring India the wilder way!

If you love being close to nature then experience the Indian wildlife which is blessed with richness of all sorts of flora and fauna. They are worth visiting during spring when the weather is favorable, wildlife and vegetation both at their blooming stages and the sun is just right. 

There are  around 103 (as of July 2015) national wildlife parks and around 537 wildlife sanctuaries. Exploring the wildlife will certainly give you the real picture of nature’s aura and species that have survived the test of time. Let us review India the wilder way:


1) Western India Wildlife:

Discovering the wildlife of Western India is an enriching experience. From Asiatic Lions, Blackbuck to Desert Cats, one can explore different species that represents the Indian wildlife. Places for a must visit are: Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa, Gir National Park in Gujarat and others.

2) Southern Wildlife:

The long stretched Western Ghats is blessed with its rich biodiversity that attracts tourists in large numbers. Visit Bandipur National Park in Karnataka, Silent Valley National Park in Kerala, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats is must to explore and get enchanted by the beauty of wildlife.

3) Central India Wildlife:

There are over 15 national parks and 35 wildlife sanctuaries in the central part of India that has taken responsibility to preserve the endangered species. Explore places like Kanha National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Narsinghgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, also called the ‘Paradise of Peacock’ and make your trip memorable.

4) Eastern India Wildlife:

 
Eastern India is well known for its vegetation and dense forests. You can explore north east along with these popular national parks and sanctuaries such as Sunderbans National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park. Some endangered wildlife species of the world are found here like the One-horned Rhinoceros, Wild Buffalos, Hispid Hare and Pigmy Hog.

5) Northern India Wildlife:

There is a long list of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Northern India which attracts tourists and wildlife and nature enthusiasts from around the world. Some popular ones to visit being Keoladeo National Park, Chail Wildlife sanctuary, Corbett National Park and Dudhwa National Park.

 

4 things to do when in Varanasi

Varanasi better known by Benaras and Kashi is one of the holy places to visit in India. Known for its ghats and Gharana, this place is a sought after location for both pilgrims and foreigners to catch a glimpse of the sacred city.

What to do? Where to go in Varanasi?

River Ganga and its Ghats:

Holy Ganga is an indispensable part of the Varanasi city. All the ghats are built along the bank of river Ganga. It is here that the Ganga aarti, cremation and holy bath are taken by people.

The main Ghat of the city is Dasaswamedh Ghat. It is one of the most vibrant and colorful ghats in the city and is located close to Vishwanath Temple. Ganga artis are held on every Tuesdays in front of idol of Ganga Maata and Ganga river.

Other popular ghats include Manikarnika Ghat, Harischandra Ghat, Assi Ghat and Shivala Ghat. Take a stroll along these ghats. There is not only lots to see, but also lots to learn about each Ghat along the Ganges river.


Temple tour:

Varanasi has umpteen number of temples which vows the tourists and pilgrims. The most famous being Kashi Vishwanath, Lord Shiva Temple, Durga Temple or Monkey Temple, Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, Bharat Mata Mandir and New Kashi Vishwnath Temple.
Shopping and great food:
You can go around the city to explore the best of both local goods and imported souvenirs. Benaras is famous for its Benarasi silk sarees and also for its sweets and Kachauri. This is a great destination if you have a sweet tooth.Try out the famous Benarasi paan. This is not to be missed at any cost!
Sarnath:

Sarnath is located 13 kms from Varanasi city and one of the most revered Buddhist pilgrimage center in India. Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath and the city is part of buddhist pilgrimage tours.

From Wine to Shrine, top 4 places to visit in Nashik

Nashik is a city with diverse culture. From mythology to oenology, this place attracts all sorts of tourists from around the country. We take you roughly through what you need to cover in Nashik with your friends and family.

1) Wineries:
Nashik is very well known for its wineries and is considered the wine capital of India. There are lot many vineyards here where you learn the whole process of wine making plus a great stay if you want to enjoy the whole ambiance.

2) Temples:

Nashik has a mythological history and attracts a lot of pilgrims and saints every year. There are more than 100 temples and many of them are located near Godavari river.

There is Sita Gumpha, a claustrophobic cave where Sita is said to have hid from Ravan. Then, there is Trimbakeshwar temple which is one of the twelve jyotirlingas in India. Each Jyotirlinga is considered to be a different manifestation of Shiva. Other famous temples include Kalaram temple, Kapileshwara temple, Saptashrungi Temple, Muktidham temple to name a few.

3) Caves:

The Pandavleni Caves are located around 10 kilometers southwest of Nashik, just off the Mumbai-Nashik Highway. The caves represent the Hinayana buddhist beliefs. There are 24 caves in total, out of which three are major centres of attraction.

4) Falls:
 
The Dudhsagar falls offer a huge attraction by tourists during monsoons. You can explore the varied flora and fauna around the waterfall and enjoy the spectacular view. Other falls in and around Nashik are Someshwar Water Fall and Vihigaon Waterfall.

 

 

Top 5 Wine Destinations to head right away!

Wine tourism is fast taking pace in India with people developing a taste for fine wine. There are a lot many wineries in India who provide tours of their vineyards and cellars, picturesque vineyard views, tasting rooms, customized wine dinners and stay to quench your thirst for wine. Here’s a list of the top five wine destinations you ought to take for the love of wine!

1) Sula Vineyards

Takeaways: Try attending the immensely popular SulaFest that is held in early February each year. Sula Vineyards has also got its vineyard resort, called Beyond which is a must visit place to enjoy the ambiance and feel of the vineyards.

Location: On the outskirts of Nashik, off Gangapur-Savargaon Road, 20 minutes from Nashik. 180 km northeast of Mumbai.

Address: Gat 36/2, Govardhan Village, Off Gangapur-Savargaon Road, Nashik, Maharashtra

What to drink: Dindori Reserve Shiraz, Sula Sauvignon Blanc, Sula Blush Zinfandel, Sula Brut and Late Harvest Chenin Blanc.

2) Fratelli Akluj

Takeaways:It has various packages like day visits, weekend getaways, Rejuvenation and Rent-a-vineyard packages. It is recommended that you stay at least one night in the winery’s modern accommodations.

Location: Located in Akunj, 175 km south of Pune. Approximately 300 kilometers (6 hours) from Mumbai.

Address: Gat No. 131, Zanjewadi Taluka: Malshiras, Distt Solapur – 413 107 Maharashtra (India)

What to drink: Vero Sauvignon Blanc & Vero Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz Rose; Fratelli Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc-Shiraz; Chardonnay; Sangiovese Bianco, Sangiovese; Gran Cuvee Brut, Vitae Chardonnay, Vitae Tre

3) Grover Zampa Vineyards, Nandi Hills

Takeaways: You can see some of the most beautiful species of birds, including Asian Paradise Flycatchers, Bulbuls, Blue Capped Rock Thrush, Tawny Eagles, and Puff-Throated Babblers, among the others during your visit to winery. The guided tour includes lunch.

Location: Nandi Hills, around 50 kilometers north of Bangalore in Karnataka.

Address: 95, 1st Main, SBM Colony, Anand Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560024

What to drink: Chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and sparkling rose.

4) Chateau D’Ori

Takeaways: A luxury guesthouse with an artificial lake in the middle of a vast expanse of grape vines, makes it the perfect destination.

Location: Around 25 kilometers (30 minutes) north of Nashik on the Nashik-Dindori Road.

Address: Gat No 529, Dindori – Shivar,Dindori Taluka Nashik Maharashtra India

What to drink: Sauvignon blanc, rose, merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon.

5) York Winery and Tasting Room

Takeaways: Ideal for serene sunset tastings.

Location:On the outskirts of Nashik, off Gangapur-Savargaon Road, 20 minutes from Nashik.

Address: Gat No.15/2, Gangapur-Savargaon Road, Gangavarhe Village, Nashik, 422222

What to drink: Arros reserve blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, released in late 2014.