Category: Destination

Surprising Tour in India

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India is a vast South Asian country with diverse terrain – from Himalayan peaks to Indian Ocean coastline – and history reaching back 5 millennia. In the north, Mughal Empire landmarks include Delhi’s Red Fort complex and massive Jama Masjid mosque, plus Agra’s iconic Taj Mahal mausoleum. Pilgrims bathe in the Ganges in Varanasi, and Rishikesh is a yoga centre and base for Himalayan trekking.

India has long been known as the mystical land, packed with beautiful architecture, rich history and a great diversity of cultural heritage. Here are the 18 best places to visit in India that should definitely be on your bucket list, when looking to explore this exciting land…

1. Taj Mahal, Agra

Commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 in the memory of his late wife, the Taj Mahal was constructed over a span of 20 years by 20,000 artisans. Regarded as one of the finest examples of Mughal Architecture in India, the Taj Mahal is the most visited attraction in India.

Traveller Tip: Go early in the morning when the marble is not too hot and the monument is not too crowded to enjoy. Perfect time: around 5:30 in the morning.

Things to do nearby: Visit the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri which also showcase beautiful Mughal architecture.

2. Qutub Minar, New Delhi

Known as the tallest brick minaret in the world, the Qutub Minar is housed in the Qutub Complex. Standing at over 70 meters, it takes 379 steps to reach the top. The tower showcases detailed marble inlays, stunning latticed stone screens, and beautiful Kufic calligraphy in its Arabic inscriptions. Do take some time out to see the miraculous Iron Pillar which was created in the 4th century, and still has scientists puzzled over its resistance to corrosion.

Traveller Tip: Plan your visit during the three-day Qutub Festival held every year, to enjoy some great Sufi music and interesting dance performances. This year it will take place from November 15th to 19th. Entry is free.

Things to do nearby: Check out some great food at Olive Bar & Kitchen, Thai High, Qla and Café 79, all of which are within a kilometre of the Qutub Minar. Or sit on the terrace of Dramz The Whisky Bar and sip on a fine glass of Scotch, while enjoying the sight of a lit-up Qutub Minar.

3. Golden Temple, Amritsar

Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as Golden Temple, is known as the holiest shrine for Sikhs and is open to men and women from all religions and walks of life. The community kitchen offers free wholesome food to over 100,000 people every day, making sure no one in the city goes to sleep hungry. A spectacle in itself, the temple is covered with over 100 kilograms of gold, giving it its popular English name.

Traveller Tip: Spend a few hours praying at the temple, take a dip in the holy lake surrounding the temple and eat at the community kitchen.

Things to do nearby: Just a few minutes’ walk from Golden Temple is the Jallianwala Bagh, a much-famed landmark of the Indian Freedom Movement.

4. Khardung La Pass, Ladakh

A treacherous, yet beautiful mountain pass in the Ladakh region of Jammu Kashmir, Khardung La lies north of Leh at a height of 17,582 ft. A gateway to Shyok and Nubra valleys, this pass is famous for being one of the highest motorable roads in the world. Once there, you can opt for paragliding over Ladakh or try your luck with the Ladakh Marathon, a gruelling 4-part race in the mountains.

Traveller Tip: Biking to Khardungla? Plan a longer trip with an overnight stay in the picturesque Nubra Valley.

Things to do nearby: Visit the 3 most beautiful lakes of Ladakh- Pangong, Tso Moriri, and Tso Kar.

5. Sundarbans, West Bengal

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprising of three wildlife sanctuaries, the Sundarbans are the largest mangrove forests in the world. Spread over 10,000 square kilometres, the forest is intersected with a complex network of tidal waterways, small islands and mudflats. The area is home to a wide range of flora and fauna with over 260 bird species, the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Estuarine Crocodile and the Indian Python.

Traveller Tip: Navigate the water ways for a glimpse of the elusive Bengal tiger and go bird watching to spot over 260 different species of birds.

Things to do nearby: Check out nearby resorts for plays enacted by locals about the history of the Sundarbans.

6. Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple, Tirupati

Millions of devotees visit the Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple every year to get a glimpse of the eight-foot tall idol of Lord Venkateswara adorned with gold, diamonds and flowers. The Shri Venkateshwara temple is the wealthiest temple in India due to the sheer number of generous donations by the devotees. Truly a divine experience!

Traveller Tip: Book your Tirupati temple darshan at least a month in advance as about 60,000 pilgrims visit it every day.

Things to do nearby: Tirupati is a foodie’s delight. Some popular eateries are Andhra Spice, Hyderabad House and Maurya Restaurant.

7. Tsomgo lake, Sikkim

Gangtok’s most famous tourist place, Tsomgo Lake is a photographer’s dream. Also known as the Changu Lake, this glacial lake is a kilometre long and about fifty metres deep and changes colour. Surprised? The lake surface reflects different colours with the change of seasons and stays mostly frozen through winter. Its resplendent beauty makes up for the 40 km long journey from Gangtok.

Traveller tip: The lake is located in a restricted area and it is essential for all visiting Indians to obtain permits. In case of foreign nationals, special permits are required.

Things to do nearby: After exploring Tsomgo Lake, your next stop should be Nathula Pass.

8. Radhanagar Beach, Andamans

Radhanagar Beach is proclaimed to be the best beach in Asia and the seventh best beach in the world, as listed by Time Magazine. There is white sand spread out under your feet, a lush green forest on one end and clear aqua green water as far as you can see. Due to its popularity, one would expect it to be a crowded beach, but if you walk a hundred metres to the left or right, you will be able to enjoy a peaceful time.

Traveller tip: Though a perfectly safe beach for swimming in the day, exercise caution after sunset as the waves get intense.

Things to do nearby: There are also a number of other beaches nearby like the Elephant Beach, where you can engage in snorkelling and other water sports.

9. Tea Gardens, Munnar

Situated at the confluence of three mountain streams, Munnar is a picture-perfect town with winding lanes and sprawling tea plantations. The air is fragrant with a mild scent of spice and the views are breath-taking. When here, take a trekking trip to Eravikulam National Park and climb the summit of Anamudi Peak, visit the beautiful lakes of Mattupetty or head to Chinnakanal to witness the beauty of a 2000 meter high waterfall.

Traveller tip: The best things to buy in Munnar are tea, coffee, spices and home-made chocolates.

Things to do nearby: Even if you are not a tea lover, a visit to the Tea Museum at the Nallathanni Estate will be a fun experience.

10. Auroville, Puducherry

Known as the ‘City of Dawn’, Auroville was started in 1968 with the mission of being a universal town, where men and women for all countries could live in harmony, removed from all barriers of creed, politics and nationality; and that is exactly what it is. Auroville is a haven of peace along the beautiful Coromandel coast. Visit the mesmerising Matrimandir and the Auroville beach, sample a mix of local and international food in one of Auroville’s many different eateries and do visit the Auroville bakery for a global taste of baked goodies. Most importantly, mingle with the residents and let the positive energy of this global hamlet enter you.

Traveller Tip: The closest airport is in Chennai from where you can call an Auroville Taxi

Things to do nearby: Explore some unique boutique restaurants in Puducherry (a former French colony) to savour some of the best French cuisine served in India.

11. Rann of Kutch, Gujarat

A part of the Thar Desert in Gujarat, the Rann of Kutch is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. If you are planning a visit, the ideal time is the 3 month long Rann Utsav organised by the Government of Gujarat, starting on 1st of November 16 and ending on 20th February 2017. Not only do you get to sightsee, but also sample the local culture, cuisine and craftsmanship too.

Traveller tip: Make sure you witness a sunset when visiting the Rann of Kutch.

Things to do nearby: A place for some amazing shopping, Kutch is known for its exquisite variety of weaving, patchwork, block-printing, tie-and-dye and rogan-art.

12. Ellora Caves, Aurangabad

The Ellora Caves are the largest rock-cut monastery-temple caves in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site, the caves represent the artwork of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The Kailasha temple in Cave 16, which is shaped like a chariot, is the largest monolithic rock excavation in the world.

Traveller tip: There are over a 100 caves at the site, of which 34 are open to public viewing.

Things to do nearby: From here you can also visit the Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple which is just a kilometre away.

13. Pangong Tso, Ladakh

A beautiful vision of crystal clear blue, Pangong Tso is situated at a height of 4,250 meters. Spread over 120 km, the lake lies across the borders of India and China. During winters, when the lake freezes completely, an ice staking festival is organised on the frozen lake which gets participation from skaters from all over the world. There are also a number of local cultural performances during this time.

Traveller tip: The lake falls under disputed territory and visitors require a pass from the deputy commissioner of Leh.

Things to do nearby: You can visit the monastery nearby called Tangtse Gompa.

14. Konark Sun Temple, Odisha

Built in the 13th century, the Sun temple of Konark is designed as a chariot of the Sun God and is mounted on 24 wheels, drawn by 7 horses. There are three images of the Sun God at three different sides of the temple which catch the rays of the sun, morning, noon and evening. This temple was also called the ‘Black Pagoda’ by European sailors due to its dark colour.

Traveller tip: The Konark Dance festival, being held in February 2017, is a good time to visit the temple.

Things to do nearby: Take a stroll on Chandrabhaga beach which is just 3 km from Konark temple.

15. Valley of Flowers, Uttrakhand

High in the lofty Himalayas, the Valley of Flowers is a vibrant national park, known for its charming meadows of alpine flowers. The valley is snow clad for most of the year and is opened for visitors from June till September. Visitors need to trek 17 kms from Gobindghat to get to the valley. As the park is open from 8 am to 5 pm only, the return trek needs to be completed on the same day. There is no camping allowed.

Traveller tip: August is the best time to go, as the flowers are in full bloom.

Things to do nearby: If you are an avid trekker, go for a trek to Hemkund Sahib which is close by.

16. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, the Hawa Mahal, built with red and pink sandstone, is an iconic landmark of Jaipur. Known as the ‘Palace of Winds’, the Hawa Mahal is a pyramid shaped façade made of 953 windows and decorated with intricate designs, meant to provide the women of the royal family a view of everyday life; without appearing in public.

Traveller tip: Take pictures of the monument in the evenings when the beautiful multicolour glass windows reflect the light.

Things to do nearby: Visit the Jantar Mantar and the City Palace, which are within walking distance.

17. Dasaswamedh Ghat, Varanasi

Dasaswamedh Ghat is the heart of the action in Varanasi. This is the place where the Ganga aarti takes place every evening. One of the oldest and holiest ghats in Varanasi, there is a constant melee of pilgrims, visitors, priests and vendors here and you can watch this energetic carnival for hours without getting bored.

Traveller tip: This is a great place to capture the many colourful facets of India.

Things to do nearby: Take a trip to Darbhanga Ghat which has an imposing palace built by the royal family of Bihar in the early 1900s.

18. Living Root Bridges, Cherrapunjee

Take a walk along the villages of Cherrapunjee, and you’ll spot more than a hundred root bridges. Each of these bridges have been fashioned by locals and can hold up to 50 adults. Root bridges take about 10-15 years to grow, and become stronger with the passage of time. There are some which maybe well over 500 years old! The most notable amongst these is the ‘Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge’, probably the only one of its kind in the world.

Traveller tip: Make sure you carry boots and raincoats as this is the wettest region in India.

Things to do nearby: Do visit the Nohkalikai Falls, one of the most striking waterfalls in the region and the Mawsmai Cave.

Budget Friendly Hotels in Sri Lanka

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The mesmerizingly beautiful island country of Sri Lanka is known for its love of spicy food and friendly people. This exotic land packed with lush flora, elephants, intriguing ancient monuments and majestic beaches and peaks alike, is one of the top tourist destinations of Asia. There is no dearth of good accommodation in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka. However, you are better off if you book well in advance, much before you land in this country, especially if you are travelling during peak season. The top 5 budget hotels mentioned below will only make your stay at this resplendent country more memorable.

1. Ocean Edge Suites & Hotel

Modern and comfortable with all the amenities you are looking for, this hotel is conveniently located near the railway station and the National Art Gallery. At INR 6000 per night, it offers a view of the Indian Ocean for guests, which is a treat for the work-weary eyes. With free Wi-Fi, you don’t have to worry about connectivity. You can also access the fitness centre, the indoor swimming pool, and the spa and wellness centre. Don’t miss the fun experience of dining at the in-house restaurant this hotel plays host to. The front desk (which is open 24-hours), offers facilities such as money exchange and car hire.

Location: 24, 10th Lane, Marine Drive, Colombo 00300, Sri Lanka

2. Best Western Elyon Colombo

A wonderful option for business travellers looking for budget accommodation, Best Western Elyon offers a classy stay at just INR 5000 per night. Not only does the hotel offer free Wi-Fi in rooms, it also allows the use of its Business Centre. The hotel is located conveniently 2.8 km away from Bambalapitiya Railway Station. The tour desk will make any travel arrangements you need and there is a 24-hour reception where things like room service, car rentals and laundry happen in a breeze.

Location: 102 A, Kirulapone Avenue, Baseline Road, Colombo 5, Sri Lanaka., Kirillapone Ave, Colombo, Sri Lanka

3. Ceylon City Hotel

If staying luxuriously on a budget in the heart of the city of Colombo is something you want, then Ceylon City hotel makes for an amazing choice. At INR 5000 per night, the hotel offers 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi and, in fact, has even won the prestigious award from World Luxury Hotel Awards 2016, getting selected as the Best Luxury Family Hotel. The in-house Flamingo Restaurant that dishes up lip-smacking Sri Lankan delicacies and global cuisine is another highlight here. Rooms offer a stunning view of the Indian Ocean and all you need to do to reach the gorgeous Colombo Beach is a walk for 10 minutes from the hotel.

Location: 11 Upatissa Rd, Colombo, Sri Lanka

4. GSH Colombo

The Great Southern Hotel is better known as GSH and is a true budget hotel for people travelling to Colombo. At only INR 3000 per night, it offers pleasant accommodation, packed with all modern amenities. The rooms are good-sized, the staff is very helpful and the hotel is rather conveniently located, with supermarket, bus stand, money exchange point, shopping malls, etc. all at a comfortable distance. There’s an in-house restaurant too that must be tried. Other amenities of this property are free car parking, airport shuttle services and luggage storage.

Location: 382 Galle Rd, Colombo 00600, Sri Lanka

5. Hotel Janaki

If you are looking for serenity and elegance in the heart of the city, Hotel Janaki fits the bill well. Priced at only INR 3000 per night, the hotel offers modern, gracefully designed accommodation. While here, you can enjoy free Wi-Fi in the public areas, an inviting outdoor swimming pool and two restaurants serving sumptuous cuisine. While the Sapphire Restaurant has global cuisine on the menu, at the Lotus Restaurant you can get your fill of delicious Indian dishes. And their high levels of prompt service ensure you bid adieu to the hotel with a smile.

Location: Fife Rd, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka on a Budget

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Tourism is a significant contributor to the Sri Lankan economy, which translates into expensive tickets to most places of interest. While it is worthwhile to spend on entry fees to popular places, you might want to include some free sightseeing in your schedule to ease the budget without compromising on entertainment. While you are already aware of the popular tourist spots, let us add a happy mix of some free things to see and do on your Sri Lankan vacation.

Galle Fort

An epitome of strength and archaeological excellence, Galle Fort is one of the most prominent tourist places situated towards the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Built by the Portuguese in 1588, this manmade marvel has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Flanked by the ocean on three sides, the fort houses mini markets, coffee shops, restaurants and museums, including the National Maritime Museum. A complete world in itself, the streets of Galle are enveloped in a unique old world charm, which is further accentuated by the simple and rustic lifestyle of the fishermen families staying here. In the evenings, you can walk up to the lighthouse, or visit the Meera Mosque and the Dutch Reformed Church.

Adam’s Peak

If the idea of a trek strikes your mind while in Sri Lanka, Adam’s Peak (also known as Sri Pada) is the place to be. Ascending the peak takes around 2 to 3 hours as thousands of natural and manmade stairs lead you to the summit. The path is well lit, and lined up with refreshment shops. Mid-way, you will come across a Peace Pagoda built in 1978, and the view from the top is a soul-stirring experience.

Pettah Market

Buying souvenirs or packing in some local flavour comes naturally while exploring a new country. One walk through the Pettah Market in Colombo, and you are sorted. Jewellery, apparel, artefacts and handicrafts – you name it, and the tiny shops tucked into each other will likely have something to pique your interest. Bargaining is the mantra to get the best deal, but if you are not keen, simply sign off with a smile; the shopkeepers here are too busy for a chase!

Viharamahadevi Park

If you like green spaces and want a relaxing break, you can visit the Viharamahadevi Park, earlier known as the Victorian Park. The largest park in Colombo City, it has a number of water fountains, a small zoo and a play area for children. And yes, do not miss out on the popular Buddha statue. The Park has an illustrious history, and was built by some of the most well-known British architects during Sri Lanka’s pre-independence era.

Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque

While you are exploring Colombo, this imposing red structure cannot miss your sight. Built in 1909 under the aegis of the Pettah Muslim Community, the Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque is one of the oldest structures of the city. Also known as the Red Mosque, it was not built by seasoned architects, but by Habibu Labbe Saibu Labbe, an unlettered yet creative hand who drove its construction through sheer talent and passion. It is believed that the mosque once stood as a landmark for sailors approaching the city.

New Kathiresan Kovil

Kathiresan Kovil is a Hindu temple dedicated to Skanda – the War God. Located in Bambalapitiya, a small township, you will come across two Kathiresan Temples – the New Kathiresan Kovil and the Old Kathiresan Kovil. If you happen to visit Colombo in the month of July or August, you can participate in the Vela Festival, which kicks off from the New Kathiresan Kovil. The two temples house shrines of Lord Ganesha, Lord Indumpan and Lord Murugan, amongst others. The colourful frescos and statues of the temple attract locals and tourists from varied ethnic groups.

Sri Lanka for History Buffs

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Besides its natural vistas and azure seas, Sri Lanka is a treasure trove for history buffs—especially with its many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We let you onto the top museums, heritage sites and ruins to see, and history walks to participate in.

Besides its natural vistas and azure seas, Sri Lanka is a treasure trove for history buffs—especially with its many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We let you onto the top museums, heritage sites and ruins to see, and history walks to participate in.

Adam’s Peak in Central Highlands

This UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises of several sites including the Horton Plains, the Knuckles Range and Adam’s Peak. The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka are home to some endangered flora and fauna species, most notably the endemic Sri Lankan leopard. However, for history buffs, the protected area of most relevance is the Adam’s Peak. It is the highest point of the range at 2,243 metres above sea level, where, it is believed, there is a large footprint of Lord Buddha.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in Colombo is the perfect place to satiate your thirst for knowledge. As soon as you set foot inside the Italian-style mansion housing the museum, you’ll see antiques and artefacts from all over Ceylon. There are a more than 100,000 items on display here, and a vast collection of rare historical books chronicling the country’s history and cultural journey.

Galle Fort

An abode of temples, churches and lush sceneries, Galle is bestowed with unimaginable beauty and cultural wealth. The Seenigama Temple and the Galle Lighthouse are obvious tourist havens, but lovers of history must find their way to the ancient Galle Fort. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built in 1588 by the Portuguese and was a trader’s port. When the Dutch took over Sri Lanka in 1640, they added most of what we see today to the fort.

Dutch Period Museum

Spend a day exploring the prestigious Dutch Period Museum, which was the residence of the Dutch governor in the 17th century. Eventually, it became a Catholic seminary, only to be used by the military as a hospital later. Before it was converted into a museum in 1977, it was also a police station and then, a post office. Today, it houses Dutch furniture and other colonial artefacts.

Colombo City Walks With Mark Forbes

The most striking thing about Colombo is its beautiful mix of modern life and colonial heritage. Go for a heritage walk around the city with Mark Forbes, a resident of Dutch, German and British lineage. The 2.5 hours walk commences at the Dutch Hospital and takes you through the historical fort and Pettah Market.

Polonnaruwa Cycling Tour

Start early on a bicycle and spend the day exploring the ruins of Polonnaruwa. This is perhaps the best way to see the Quadrangle—Menik Vihara, Rankot Vihara, Alahana Pirivena, Jetavana monasteries, and other ancient sites. These ruins include clusters of important religious buildings, famous Buddha statues and shrines. The cycle tour will take around three to four hours to cover the entire town. Do take the time to savour the stunning scenery along the way.

Sigiriya

This ancient fortress, built on top of a rock, overlooks lush forests and is popular for its manicured gardens. The palace ruins have earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and the huge sculpted lion paws at the entrance are dramatic, to say the least. To unravel Sigriya’s mysteries and secrets, you’ll need to climb up a flight of vertigo-inducing stairs. The glowing frescos, Pidurangula rock, the flat-topped summit, and a graffiti-inscribed wall are all well-worth your time, history buff or not.

Arcade, Independence Square

Dating back to 1885, Arcade is a quaint shopping complex that was once the Jawatta Lunatic Asylum. Whether you are in the mood for some shopping or not, history beckons you here. Its high ceilings, glass atria and wooden staircases have been thoughtfully resorted to retaining its heritage value.

Heritage Sites in India

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Sometimes, it is easy to overlook just how unique India is. In terms of cultural diversity, history, spirituality and our rich socio-cultural ethos – there simply is no other like it.

That is precisely why our land has been blessed with sites and spectacles so distinguished in their nature, that they had to be lauded. Today, we pick our choice of 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India that you have to visit.

1. Kaziranga National Park, Assam

Famed for its great one-horned rhinoceros and its abundance of biodiversity spots, Kaziranga National Park is perhaps the best chance for wild game in the country. The Assam Government has made herculean efforts to preserve the range of flora and fauna here, helped, of course by the designation of this park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Best Time to Visit: Between November and April.

How to Get Here: Take a flight to Guwahati, about 217 kms from the park. From here, taxis should get you to the Park.

Where to Stay: The Green Village Resort (Rs. 2500 per night), Green Reed Resort (Rs. 1299 per night), Dhansiri Eco Camp (Rs. 1500 per night)

2. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

Nestled along the gentle slopes of the Himalayas in Assam, the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary plays host to a wide array of wildlife including the Indian elephant, the Indian rhinoceros, tiger, and the pygmy hog. Designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1985, the Sanctuary is notable for its biosphere reserve, including tropical forests and grasslands.

Best Time to Visit: Between October and April

How to Get Here: Reach the Guwahati Airport by flight. From the airport, take a taxi to cover the 176 kms to Manas Wildlife Sanctuary.

Where to Stay: Hotels here can be found at a typical price range of Rs. 1600 per night.

3. Mahabodhi Temple Complex, Bihar

The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is one of the most revered sites of Buddhism across the world. Known for the Bodhi Tree which is where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, the complex comprises seven different Buddhist spiritual sites, including the Bodhi Tree and the 50-metre-tall Mahabodhi Temple.

Best Time to Visit: Between November and February

How to Get Here: Mahabodhi Temple Complex lies about 96 kms from Bihar’s capital, Patna. Take a taxi from the Patna airport to reach here.

Where to Stay: Bodhgaya Regency Hotel (Rs. 4000 per night), Hotel Bodh Vilas (Rs. 1550 per night), Hotel Lumbini International (Rs. 1245 per night)

Book Your Stay at Hotel Bodh Vilas

4. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

Built in 1565-1572 by Begum Bega, the first wife of Humayan, this tomb is one of the few monuments to have undergone several restoration works. Featuring as a preferred hangout for college students and tourists alike, Humayun’s Tomb is perhaps the most photographed site in New Delhi. It also features several smaller monuments and tombs within its premises.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: Humayun’s Tomb is located near Central Delhi, an easy taxi ride away from both the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the New Delhi Airport.

Where to Stay: Hotel the Royal Plaza (Rs. 4930 per night), The Classic Diplomat (Rs. 3150 per night), Red Fox Hotel (Rs. 3699 per night)

5. Qutub Minar, Delhi

Qutubuddin Aibak and Iltutmish’s legacy of the Delhi Sultanate to posterity, the Qutub Minar is synonymous with the New Delhi landscape and skyline, just like the Eiffel is to Paris. It is also known for the Iron Pillar which has, despite the ravages of time and weather, resisted rust.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: Qutub Minar is located in South Delhi, an easy taxi ride away from both the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the New Delhi Airport.

Where to Stay: The Suryaa (Rs. 6375 per night), The Hans (Rs. 4499 per night), Hotel Regent Grand (Rs. 3250 per night)

6. Red Fort, Delhi

Famous for its Persian, Timuri and Indian architectural influences, the Red Fort (distinctive for its red sandstone) was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to commemorate the move of the royal court from Agra to Delhi, and his founding of the city of Shahjahanabad. Known as the centrepiece of historic Old Delhi, Red Fort is also located close to the sprawling Jama Masjid complex.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: The Red Fort is located near Central Delhi, an easy taxi ride away from both the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the New Delhi Airport.

Where to Stay: Lemon Tree Premier (Rs. 5149 per night), The Suryaa (Rs. 6375 per night), The Hans (Rs. 4499 per night), Hotel Regent Grand (Rs. 3250 per night)

7. Churches and Convents, Goa

With the onset of Portuguese rule in Goa during the 15th and 16th centuries, the period also witnessed the construction of several churches and convents in an attempt to evangelize the local populace into Christianity. The churches of Goa display Baroque, Manueline and Mannerist art forms and are truly a sight to see.

Best Time to Visit: October to January, June to September

How to Get Here: Take a cab from the Goa Airport to take a sightseeing tour of the churches and convents.

Where to Stay: Hotel Colva Kinara (Rs. 2500 per night), Neelam’s The Grand (Rs. 3499 per night), Golden Tulip Goa (Rs. 3760 per night)

8. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujarat

Located in the Panchmahal district, the Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is centred upon the medieval city of Muhammadabad which was built by Sultan Mahmud Begada in the 16th century. While the Park contains 11 different types of heritage monuments, the truly fascinating element here is that a majority of Champaner-Pavagadh remains unexcavated. This is also the only completely unaltered pre-Mughal city in India.

Best Time to Visit: October to February

How to Get Here: The nearest airport is Vadodara at a distance of 42 kms. Vadodara Railway Station at 48 kms is another option.

Where to Stay: Accommodations are available here for a typical price range of Rs. 2100 per night.

9. Hampi

Featuring in any tourist’s travel plan whilst in Karnataka or, for that matter, South India – Hampi’s richly preserved ruins of one of the greatest Hindu medieval empires is worth it. From the finely carved Dravidian architecture to temples such as Achyutaraya, Vitthala, Narasimha and – perhaps the greatest of them all – Virupaksha, the Hampi Group of Monuments is truly a sight to behold.

Best Time to Visit: April to September, October to March

How to Get Here: Bellary and Belgaum airports are the closest to Hampi, at about 350 kms away. The nearest railhead is Hospet, about 13 kms away.

Where to Stay: Hotel Malligi (Rs. 2200 per night), Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari (Rs. 1500 per night), Hotel Hampi International (Rs. 2600 per night)

10. Pattadakal

Another Karnataka contender, Pattadakal’s claim to UNESCO fame is its incredible Chalukyan style architecture blended with Dravidian and Nagara influences. Pattadakal was the coronation site for the powerful Chalukyan rulers and includes 8 temples of Shaivite and Jain origins. Some of the temples to visit here are Virupaksha, Sangameshwara and Chandrashekhara temples.

Best Time to Visit: July to September

How to Get Here: The nearest airport is Belgaum at a distance of 180 kms. Badami is the nearest railway station, located approximately 22 kms from Pattadakal.

Where to Stay: Accommodations can be found here at a usual price range of Rs. 2400 per night.

11. Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

The monolithic pillars, Buddhist monasteries and Mauryan architecture at Sanchi makes it a worthy qualifier for the UNESCO World Heritage Site laurel. Commissioned by Ashoka the Great in 3rd century BC, the monuments at Sanchi are the oldest Buddhist structures in India. The most celebrated monument here is surely the Sanchi Stupa – a hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of the Great Buddha.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal is the nearest air link. Take a train till Vidhisha to cover the rest of the short distance to Sanchi via taxi.

Where to Stay: Sanchi Green (Rs. 2288 per night), Hotel Sambodhi (Rs. 2199 per night)

12. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh

The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka depict the earliest traces of human life in the Indian subcontinent. With Stone Age inscriptions and cave paintings dating back to the Mesolithic Period (over 100,000 years ago) the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are a collection of five rocks nestled along the foothills of the Vindhya Mountains. An important archaeological and tourist site, the Rock Shelters should feature on travel plans in Madhya Pradesh, along with the Sanchi Stupa.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal is the nearest air link to the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka.

Where to Stay: Good accommodations can be found at a price range of Rs. 3000 per night.

13. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Perhaps one of the most famous Hindu monuments in the country, the Khajuraho Monuments depict Nagara erotic symbolism with stone carvings in sensuous poses. Standing testament to the rich cultural heritage of India, these monuments were built between 950 and 1050 AD and consist of 85 temples built in Chandella architectural style.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

How to Get Here: The best way to reach Khajuraho is via air, to the Khajuraho Airport. Jhansi Railway Station is the nearest railway link.

Where to Stay: Ramada (Rs. 1999 per night), Taj Hotel Chandela (Rs. 3000 per night), Hotel Isabel Palace (Rs. 2250 per night)

14. Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta and Ellora Caves were among the first Indian monuments to be designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Dating back to 2nd century BC, the Caves comprise some of the most exquisite masterpieces of 31 rock-cut sculptures, paintings and Buddhist shrines. Built over two periods under the Satavahana and Vakataka dynasties, the Ajanta Caves mark the beginning of the Indian Classical Art and continue to have a huge influence on Indian art ethos.

Best Time to Visit: November to March

How to Get Here: Aurangabad Airport is the nearest air link for the Ajanta caves. Aurangabad Railway Station is the nearest railhead.

Where to Stay: Accommodations here come at a typical price range of Rs. 2400 per night.

15. Ellora Caves

Situated about 29 kilometres from Aurangabad, the Ellora Caves are a collection of 34 caves dating back from 600 to 1000 AD. The Hindu, Jain and Buddhist sculptures and architecture in these caves is a perfect anecdote for the religious and cultural tolerance that has proliferated across the Indian subcontinent since time immemorial.

Best Time to Visit: November to March

How to Get Here: Aurangabad Airport is the nearest air link for the Ajanta caves. Aurangabad Railway Station is the nearest railhead.

Where to Stay: Accommodations here come at a typical price range of Rs. 2400 per night.

India truly is a gem of history, culture and socio-ethnic vibrance and these fabulous, unique sites prove just that. So, which UNESCO World Heritage Sites will be featuring in your travel plans?

Best Luxury Hotels in Europe

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From breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps, rich heritage of Paris, historic charm of Berlin and the majestic architecture of Rome, Europe is a dream destination for anyone who loves to travel. Picking the right places to stay in can be that cherry on the cake that turns your European escapade into a truly unforgettable experience. Here is our pick of top five hotels to check in during your vacation in Europe.

From breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps, rich heritage of Paris, historic charm of Berlin and the majestic architecture of Rome, Europe is a dream destination for anyone who loves to travel. Picking the right places to stay in can be that cherry on the cake that turns your European escapade into a truly unforgettable experience. Here is our pick of top five hotels to check in during your vacation in Europe.

Hotel Balzac, Paris

Hotel Balzac, Paris

If you appreciate rich history, Hotel Balzac is just the kind of place you’d want to spend your Paris holiday at. This five-star boutique hotel was once home to the famous French writer, Honore de Balzac. The property, steeped in French history and mirroring the quintessential Parisian elegance, is situated off the Champs-Elysées and is a short walk from the Arc de Triomphe. Its proximity to both Avenue Montaigne and Avenue George V gives it a certain vantage point in Paris’ Golden Triangle, known for its haute couture boutiques and fine-dining restaurants. The hotel has 69 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites, with the suites and five-star rooms offering a clear view of the Eiffel Tower backed by the stunning Parisian skyline. It also houses a 3 Michelin Star restaurant, where you can treat yourself to some of the finest French cuisine.

Titanic Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

Reflecting the essence of Berlin’s spirit, the Titanic Gendarmenmarkt has been designed with a mix of heritage and contemporary influences. The hotel is located on Französische Straße in the gorgeous Gendarmenmarkt area, and is housed in an 18th century building once used as a warehouse by Staatsoper. The hotel is equipped with 208 elegant rooms and suites, but the sports and spa facility is the clear hero on this property. Spread over two floors, this luxurious spa retreat boasts of a Turkish hamam, steam bath, dry sauna equipped with ice fountain, 3 full-blown spa suites for massages and beauty treatments, and relaxation rooms designed to exude a tranquil vibe. You can also unwind with some foot-tapping live music performances at the Schinkel Bar here, and finish off the evening with delectable offerings at the hotel’s Beef Grill Club restaurant. The rooms have a charming décor and have been done up to accord all modern-day luxuries. A bath in the walk-in rainforest shower after a long day of exploring Berlin’s neighbourhoods is just what you need to rejuvenate your senses.

La Scelta Di Goethe, Rome


La Scelta Di Goethe, Rome

The La Scelta Di Goethe is a beautiful relais nestled in the charming Tuscan Hills. The location of this luxury hotel, which offers a unique view of ancient history, is a delight unto itself. Plush comforts, luxurious décor and unadulterated pampering—a stay La Scelta Di Goethe is an experience right out of a fairytale. You can book the entire house or just one of the two luxury suites. Guests are treated to a hearty continental breakfast, which can be enjoyed on the terrace by the fireplace, or even in bed. You’d also be assigned a butler and a personal assistant to cater to your every need. In addition to all this, La Scelta Di Goethe also organizes wine tasting tours, shopping trips with a personal shopper, golf outings, helicopter tours, visits to museums and art exhibitions, all with a dedicated limousine to drive you around. It is like living a dream that can only be turned into reality in Rome.

The View Lugano Hotel, Lugano

Aptly named The View, this luxury hotel offers panoramic visuals of the picturesque Lake of Lugano, with all 16 junior suites and two luxury suites facing the magnificent lake. If you want a date with nature wrapped in a blanket of luxury, The View is just the place to be. Each suite boasts of a unique design theme and furnishings, lending it an air of exclusivity. The place also houses a fine-dining restaurant serving the best Italian delicacies prepared from locally sourced produce, coupled with the finest wines from across the world. You can pamper yourself with a relaxing spa treatment or unwind with a dip in the indoor pool. The hotel also organizes fun activities and courses for its guests from time to time.

Book Your Stay at The View Lugano Hotel, Lugano

You may also like to read Most Unique Hotels in Europe

Bagues Hotel, Barcelona


Bagues Hotel, Barcelona

The Bagues in Barcelona is an elegant and sophisticated 5-star boutique museum hotel on Las Ramblas in the famous Gothic Quarter neighbourhood. This ancient El Regulador palace was remodelled in 2010 with blends of art nouveau and modernism to create an exquisite luxury destination for tourists from across the globe. The building’s original façade has been preserved to offer a sneak peek into the classic architecture of a bygone era. The property houses 31 luxuriously done-up rooms and suites, a terrace offering a bird’s eye view of the city streets, swimming pool, sauna and gym, along with an in-house restaurant and bar.

There is a museum on the property that showcases unique pieces from the Bagués-Masriera family’s centuries-old jewellery workshop. Special offerings like free access to the Egyptian Museum of Barcelona are definitely an added incentive during your stay here.

Build your Europe itinerary around these amazing hotels and you are set for a memorable holiday.

7 Must-Not-Miss Experiences in Europe

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One can never have enough of Europe’s spectacular landscapes, architectural wonders, rich cultural heritage, exotic adventures and gastronomical delights. To help you plan that perfect European holiday, here is a list of top 7 experiences in Europe that you just can’t miss.

One can never have enough of Europe’s spectacular landscapes, architectural wonders, rich cultural heritage, exotic adventures and gastronomical delights. To help you plan that perfect European holiday, here is a list of top 7 experiences in Europe that you just can’t miss.

1. Watch the sunset from atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris


Eiffel Tower, Paris

No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower. For the most spectacular experience, go atop the Eiffel Tower before sunset. Sip on a glass of bubbly while watching the sun go down against the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Sainte-Chapelle and the stunning Parisian skyline. Truly a photographer’s delight!

Where: The Champagne Bar

Cost: Lift ticket to the top costs 1700 Euros per adult

2. Take a Gondola ride in Venice


Gondola Ride, Venice

The beautiful canals and bridges, charming squares, renaissance architecture and artistic cultural heritage are sure to make you fall in love with Venice. Take a gondola ride through its many historic waterways, with baroque buildings and palaces in the backdrop. Sounds like a dreamy setting, doesn’t it? If you’re lucky, your gondolier might sing for you too!

Where: Tronchetto, the Piazzale Roma or the Rialto Bridge area

Cost: 80 Euros approx. for 40 minutes for 6 people; 40 Euros for additional 20 minutes. Post 7 p.m.: 100 Euros approx. for 40 minutes for 6 people; 50 Euros for additional 20 minutes

3. Attend an Opera in Germany

Home to some of the most noted musicians and composers of all times such as Mozart, Beethoven, Weber and Richard Strauss, Germany hosts one of the largest number of opera performances every year. From short two-act productions to long epic performances and masterpieces by singers from across the globe, you’re sure to find something of your liking.

Where: Baden-Baden Festival Theatre, Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Deutsche Opera in Berlin, Gasteig in Munich, Frankfurt Opera, and Hamburg State Opera

Cost: Ranging from 50 to 180 Euros approx.

4. Take a chocolate tour in Switzerland


Chocolates, Switzerland

Welcome to Switzerland—home to the world’s finest chocolates and the best international chocolate brands. The chocolate shops, boutiques and chocolatiers here offer an extraordinary variety of local Swiss chocolates for sampling, along with a glimpse of their chocolate making process with original recipes handed down over the generations. For the most passionate of chocolate aficionados, the Tour de Chocolat organises workshops, lessons, and dining experiences with prominent chocolatiers.

Where: The Maison Cailler in Broc

Cost: 12 CHF per adult, 9 CHF per child

5. Party the night away in Ibiza

 

Think party, think Ibiza! This island off the coast of is packed with beach bars, pulsating electronic music, happening nightlife and an ever-vibrant holiday vib. The best time to visit this ‘party capital of the world’ are the summer months for summer discos and popular European nightclubs where top DJs from around the world come over to play.

Where: Amnesia, Eden, Ocean Beach, Benimussa Park, Ibiza Rocks Hotel, DC-10, Pacha, Heart and Lío

Cost: Ranging from 30 to 60 Euros approx. per person

6. Go wine tasting in Tuscany


Wine Tasting in Tuscany

Tuscany in Italy is touted as one of the world’s best wine destinations. From small, family-owned wineries to large and long-standing historical wine producers, Tuscany is home to an overwhelming variety of wineries, producing the best of local wines, world-renowned labels and great vintages as well. Get set for a tour of their ancient cellars and beautiful vineyards amidst spectacular landscapes, followed by an introduction of the wine making process and a private wine-tasting session.

Where: Chianti Classico

Cost: Ranging from 50 to 200 Euros approx.

7. Cable car to the top of Mount Titlis in Switzerland


Mount Titlis in Switzerland

Switzerland’s most popular attraction, Mount Titlis, is the highest peak in Central Switzerland. Take the revolving cable car from Engelberg to Mount Titlis for spectacular 360 degree views of Switzerland’s scenic lakes, valleys, snow covered mountains and glaciers. Once at the top, explore its glacier cave, glacier park, photo studio and the many snow activities. The Titlis Cliff Walk, the highest suspension bridge in Europe, is a must not miss for adventure lovers!

Where: Engelberg

Cost: 92 CHF return ticket per adult

The 10 Most Iconic Landmarks in Europe

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Natural beauty aside, Europe is dotted with man-made marvels, some of which are so iconic that no trip to the continent would be complete without a visit to these! Here are the 10 most iconic landmarks in Europe that you simply must see at least once in your life.

Natural beauty aside, Europe is dotted with man-made marvels, some of which are so iconic that no trip to the continent would be complete without a visit to these! Here are the 10 most iconic landmarks in Europe that you simply must see at least once in your life.

1. Eiffel Tower in Paris

Eiffel Tower welcomes almost 7 million people a year, making it the most visited paid-for monument in the world. Completed on March 31, 1889, the tower was the world’s tallest man-made structure for 41 years, until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. Many believe that the Eiffel Tower makes Paris the most romantic city in the world, or maybe it’s the 20,000 light bulbs that make the tower sparkle like a star every night.

2. Colosseum in Rome

Half circus, half sports arena, Rome’s most iconic landmark is unmissable, especially now that they have opened the underfloor passageways to visitors where the gladiators and wild beasts once roamed. Standing inside the amphitheatre, you can’t help wonder about the brave men who indulged in gory bull fights here.

3. The Louvre in Paris

Millions of tourists flock every year just to feast their eyes on the contemporary glass Louvre Pyramid which is in fact, just the entrance. A former fortress and royal palace, the Louvre is one of the world’s greatest museums. Primarily associated with Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa, Paris’ Louvre museum is a trove of 35,000 paintings and sculptures from the seventh century B.C. to the mid-19th century. It will take 3 whole days to visit each room in the museum, so we suggest making a list of exhibits you’re most interested in.

4. The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City

The Sistine Chapel is most famous for Michelangelo’s frescoes, but long before Michelangelo, Sisto commissioned painters such as Botticelli to fresco the two long walls on either side of the chapel. One side told the story of Moses, and the other, the story of Christ. Today, the Sistine Chapel is home to the greatest frescoes in the world.

5. Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, with its equal helpings of beauty and folly, is one of the most popular buildings in the world. It’s interesting to note that the tower was built with plundered loot, on a marshy subsoil with glaring engineering mistakes. The tower has infamously tilted up to 10 degrees in various directions over the years. With the ongoing restoration efforts, the tilt has now been reduced to 3.99 degrees. It’s quite a miracle though, that even after its reputation of being structurally unsound, it is open to the public and you can climb right to the top of the tower to enjoy a view of the city!

6. Acropolis & Parthenon in Greece

Acropolis is probably the most famous and the most visited monument in the world, and a UNESCO world heritage site. The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization of ancient Greece, Among its monuments, Parthenon is the most magnificent. The Temple of Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena, protector of the Ancient city of Athens, and is quite a sight to behold. Its unique architecture has inspired many universities, public buildings, palaces, parliaments and libraries in the western world.

7. Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba in Spain

This is where religions meet halfway, literally! The Mezquita (Spanish for “mosque”) of Cordoba symbolises the many religious changes Spain has undergone over the centuries. The church was divided into Muslim and Christian halves when Muslims conquered Spain in 711. Like a phoenix, it stands tall today with columns of jasper, onyx, marble and granite taken from the Roman temple which stood in its place, and other destroyed Roman buildings in Spain.

8. Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

The Brandenburg Gate, one of the most iconic sights in modern-day vibrant Berlin is much more than just Berlin’s only surviving city gate. This landmark symbolises Berlin’s Cold War division into East and West, as well as a reunified Germany since the fall of the Wall. It’s open all year round, but if you really want to see it in all its glory, celebrate New Year’s Eve here with the locals, or watch the FIFA World Cup or UEFA EURO Championships being screened for all!

9. Charles Bridge in Prague

Prague’s most stunning landmark, Charles Bridge is a gothic stone bridge spanning 16 arches and lined with 30 baroque statues of religious figures. It is also a popular spot for Czech artists, musicians and souvenir vendors. Take a walk on the cobblestone bridge and get transported to another era, but don’t forget to marvel the architecture and the grand views of the Vtlava River from the bridge towers. Visit the bridge after dark to enjoy a breathtaking view of the fully-lit Prague Castle against the evening sky, or at dawn to beat the crowd and enjoy a glorious sunrise.

10. Chateau de Chillon in Switzerland

The Chateau de Chillon (Chillon Castle) standing by the shores of Lake Geneva, has inspired artists and writers for centuries. Lord Byron, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Victor Hugo are among the luminaries who took her as a muse. Take your time to admire the Great Halls, the gothic underground rooms, the chapel with 14th-century paintings, and magnificent views of Lake Geneva.

Fabulous Holidays Packages to Enjoy India

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After the soaring heat of May and June, July slips in with a promise of tranquility, rain showers and natural abundance. This year, do not limit the experience of enjoying the rains to your balconies; get your backpack on and gear up to enjoy some of the coolest monsoons destinations in India without upsetting your budget. Here’s a list of some breath-taking places you can explore under 10K.

After the soaring heat of May and June, July slips in with a promise of tranquility, rain showers and natural abundance. This year, do not limit the experience of enjoying the rains to your balconies; get your backpack on and gear up to enjoy some of the coolest monsoons destinations in India without upsetting your budget. Here’s a list of some breath-taking places you can explore under 10K this July.

1. Goa


Goa

Come monsoon, and Goa adorns a serene and fresh look. It is a myth that most of Goa closes down during monsoons. While the rush of international tourists settles during this season, Indian tourists flock the place in good numbers, lured by the great travel deals one can bag.

Best from: Mumbai

Make it happen:

Hotel: INR 1,200 – 1500 per day (approx.) Homestays, B&Bs and hotels – you name it and Goa has something to suit every pocket. A few good options for budget hotels in Goa are The Queeny Hotel, The Citadel Hotel and Ruffles Beach Resort.

Food: INR 600 per day per head (approx.) Goan cuisine offers a perfect blend of Indian and Portuguese cooking styles. Some popular restaurants where you can enjoy a great meal at a reasonable price include Cafe Lazydays (Continental, Sea Food), Gene Garden (North Indian) and Cafe Del Mar (Goan cuisine).

Transport: A number of deluxe buses ply between Mumbai and Goa at INR 450 (one-way trip). Upon reaching Goa, you can rent a bike at just INR 200 per day. For local travel, you can also choose public transport like buses, autos and shared cabs.

Total cost for 3 days: INR 4,500 (Stay) + INR 1800 (Food) + INR 1600 (Transport) = INR 7900 per person.

2. Wayanad

Thick greenery, picturesque surroundings and abundant rainfall make Wayanad a perfect monsoon getaway. Moreover, the place is quiet and free of touristy crowds. Little wonder that Wayanad has emerged as a popular tourist destination in South India in the recent past.

Best from: Bengaluru/Kerala

Make it happen:

Hotel: INR 1300 per day (approx.) There are a number of family budget hotels in Wayanad. Some popular choices are Sanctuary Grand Hotel, Hotel Brahmagiri Mananthavady and Wayanadia Resort Hotel.

Food: INR 600-700 per day (approx.). While South Indian food is the staple cuisine, you can also savour multi-cuisine food at the Jubilee Restaurant or the Chembra Heritage. Or simply visit Udupi for some authentic South Indian food.

Transport: Your bus or train journey from Bengaluru or Kochi to Wayanad will just cost you INR 500 (one way). Once in the city, you have a number of options like buses, taxis, autos or local trains to choose from. Even if your budget is as low as INR 250 – 300 per day, you can manage local travel comfortably.

Total cost for 3 days: INR 3900 (Stay) + INR 2100 (Food) + INR 1900 (Transport) = INR 7,900 per person.

Book Your Stay at Wayanadia Resort Hotel

3. Nainital


Nainital

Best from: Delhi/Lucknow

If you have a soulful vacation in mind, Nainital is just the place to be. Enjoy a walk in the woods or simply quench your inner self as rain showers hit the ground and grey clouds take a bow.

Make it happen:

Hotel: INR 1600 per day (approx.) Monsoon spells great deals on hotels since it is conventionally off-season in Nainital. You can choose from a number of budget accommodations like Himalayan View Pangot, Leena Holiday Resorts or Apical Resort.

Food: INR 600 per day (approx.) Restaurants in Nainital bring to you a wide spread to choose from. Savour Thai and Italian cuisine at the Machan Restaurant. Binge on Asian delicacies at the Sakley Restaurant, or enjoy Mughlai/Punjabi food at Sher-e-Punjab.

Transport: Whether you are travelling to Nainital from Uttar Pradesh or Delhi, your to and fro journey will cost you approximately INR 900. You can travel in and around Nainital through readily available local transport, which should not cost you more than INR 500 per day.

Total cost for 3 days: INR 4800 (Stay) + INR 1800 (Food) + INR 2400 (Transport) = INR 9000 per person.

Book Your Stay at Apical Resort

4. Mount Abu

Best from: Ahmedabad or Jaipur

Mount Abu is the only hill station in the desert region of Rajasthan. It has great mythological relevance, and is known for the famous Dilwara Temples. Mount Abu is a prominent tourist destination in the Aravallis, and is especially popular during monsoon and winter season.

Hotel: INR 1350 per day (approx.) Mount Abu is a popular weekend getaway, and therefore, has a number of decent 3-star hotels available within a reasonable budget. Some well-rated hotels in Mount Abu are Hotel Royal Heritage, Hotel Ambika and Babbars Den.

Food: INR 800 per day (approx.) From street food to authentic Rajasthani food, Mount Abu is a heaven for foodies. Treat your taste buds with hot mirchi wadas, dhoklas or crisp kachoris. Or you can opt for a Rajasthani spread complete with gutte, kadi and dal-baati-churma.

Transport: You can book your two way journey between Ahmedabad/Jaipur to Mount Abu in just about INR 1000. For local sightseeing, you can rent a car for INR 800 – 1000 for a day, or use readily-available auto-rickshaws. Bikes and scooties are also available for rent at just INR 250-300 per day.

Total cost for 3 days: INR 4050 (Stay) + INR 2500 (Transport) + INR 2400 (Food) = INR 9400 per person.

Book Your Stay at Hotel Royal Heritage

5. Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal

Best from: Chennai

Kodaikanal is one of the most pristine hill stations in Tamil Nadu. Known for its evergreen forests, Kodaikanal wears a mystic look during the monsoons. Apart from the regular tourist spots, you can trek along the lake to enjoy some peaceful moments.

Hotel: INR 1400 per day (approx.) Kodaikanal has several inns, cottages and 3-star hotels like B’s Hive, Hotel Green Park and Hotel Valley View Inn, which promise a pocket-friendly and comfortable stay.

Food: INR 700 per day (approx.) Enjoy authentic cuisine packed with flavours of the Middle East at Altaf’s Café or have a wholesome meal at Hotel Astoria, famous for its thalis. You can also savour Gujarati food the Patel Restaurant or enjoy delicacies from the sea at Hilltop Towers.

Transport: A number of trains shuttle between Chennai and Kodaikanal. You can book a two-way journey well within INR 800 (approx.). Full-day local tour packages to popular places can be booked for INR 350 (approx.).

Total cost for 3 days: INR 4200 (Stay) + INR 1850 (Transport) + INR 2100 (Food) = INR 8150 per person.

5 Awesome Destinations that are Just a Cheap Flight Away

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Whoever said that vacations are expensive, was wrong. Flights can be a major chunk of the expenditure, so let’s take care of that first. Here is a list of 5 awesome holiday destinations, all of which are just a cheap flight away!

Whoever said that vacations are expensive, was wrong. Flights can be a major chunk of the expenditure, so let’s take care of that first. Here is a list of 5 awesome holiday destinations, all of which are just a cheap flight away!

1. Goa

There’s no place in the world more addictive than Goa. There’s so much to explore even after you’re done with the popular beaches of Baga, Calangute and Anjuna, and night markets in North Goa. If you’re looking for places less travelled, hit the Arossim, Utorda and Majorda beaches in South Goa, and take a walk on the broken bridge—it’s thrilling and scary at the same time! Don’t forget to visit the churches in Panjim—Basilica of Bom Jesus is an architectural gem, and Sé de Santa Catarina is the largest church in Old Goa. Take a walk across old Goa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site to discover its many treasures just waiting to be unravelled. Meet some locals and start a conversation about the haunted houses in Goa, and you’ll be surprised as to how many actually exist. Don’t forget to sample the world famous Goan sausages and the seafood, especially Calamari.

Fares: Starting INR 3,429* from Delhi and INR 3,156* from Ahmedabad

2. Varanasi

Our very own ‘City of Gods’, Varanasi is not just for the religious and spiritual but also for the open- minded. One of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi is everything you imagine India to be. Whether you’re a believer or not, a visit to the Bhairav Mandir, Vishwanath and Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple will leave you enchanted. Go for the evening aarti at Dasaswamedh Ghat—it’s an experience like no other. For those searching for historical trivia, head to Ramnagar Fort, or take a day tour to Sarnath Temple to see the tallest Buddha statue and the Archeological Survey of India Museum. To explore the city and its many mysteries, book a 3-hour sunrise boat tour along the holy Ganges, or set off on a 3-hour walking tour of the city and along the ghats.

Fares: Starting INR 2,108* from Delhi

3. Jaipur

Jaipur is the jewel of Rajasthan. Easily accessible with a slew of budget hotels to choose from, Jaipur is a favourite destination among budget travellers. Revel in the beauty and the architecture of Hawa Mahal and while you’re there, find your way to Pandit ki Kulfi for a sweet ending. Another unmissable place to visit in Jaipur is the Amer Fort. Its size, magnitude and views are going to bowl you over. Don’t forget to visit the Jaigarh Fort museum right below it. For a taste of the royal heritage of Jaipur, head to City Palace, the opulent 18th-century palace of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, a part of which has been converted to a museum. For shopping enthusiasts, Jaipur is a haven of precious and semi-precious gemstone jewellery, as well as vegetable-dyed block printed clothes and bed linen. Don’t miss picking up a dyed scarf in ‘leheriya’ pattern. Foodies can enjoy Rajasthani dishes like Dal Baati Churma, Pyaz Kachori, Mirchi Pakoda, Makhaniya Lassi and more.

Fares: Starting INR 2,546* from Mumbai

4. Bagdogra

Bagdogra, a quaint little town located in the Siliguri district of West Bengal, is the gateway to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Gangtok and Pelling. This town is usually a transit point for Darjeeling or Sikkim, but it can be a very rewarding holiday destination in itself! Famous for its serene environment, tea plantations and state-organised festivals on the banks of River Teesta, the city offers scenic views of the eastern Himalayan range. River rafting, trekking, mountaineering and camping are some of the activities that you can indulge in, here. You can also visit the Salugara Monastery founded by the Tibetan Lama, Kalu Rinpoche. Thousands of people visit the city, only to witness the 110 feet tall stupa, beautiful relics and idols in the monastery.

Fares: Starting INR 2,651* from Delhi

5. Kochi

Capital of ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala, Kochi surely packs a punch. You can swim at the palm-fringed Cherai Beach at low tide, or just hang around to watch the sunset. History buffs, take a heritage walk around Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. A visit to the Kochi Fort will leave you thrilled. Munambam Beach in Vypeen Island is a hidden treasure for those who like to escape the crowds. If you’re a shopaholic and on a budget, you’ll love to spend an afternoon at the LuLu Mall, Asia’s biggest and incidentally the cheapest! Don’t forget to try Malabari cuisine and eat as much seafood as you can.

Fares: Starting INR 1,448* from Bengaluru