Old Manali – Swaying eucalyptus, lovely roads, sweet little eateries, small kitschy market places, and cafes that serve your favourite continental food at unbelievably low prices, the serenity of Old Manali is only disturbed by twittering birds and the sound of the gushing waters of the Kullu River.
Manu Temple – this religious edifice is visited by countless devotees every year. Legends have it that Manu saved the holy Vedas and the seven sages from the great flood and subsequently made Manali his home. A visit to this revered temple will definitely leave you mentally and spiritually rejuvenated.
Skiing – A thrill for adventure lovers while touring Manali, as they can indulge in some high adrenaline skiing sessions in the snow-clad mountains that surround the hill station. Want something even more thrilling? Go for heli-skiing or yak-skiing to make your experience unforgettable.
River-Rafting – The River Beas comes across as a perfect avenue for adventurers to indulge in some exhilarating rafting action amidst grade II and III rapids. Get your adrenaline pumping with water adventure activities such as canoeing, kayaking and of course, white water rafting.
Zorbing – Zorbing, a one-of-its-kind adventure sport wherein a person is slid into a huge transparent plastic zorb ball which is then rolled down a mountain slope. It is surely not to be missed while in Manali.
Surrounded by mountains, forests, and a river it isn’t hard to find something to do every day in Manali. Known for outdoor activity, The spirituality of India is visible in Manali with classes to learn and to be able to teach your own classes back home! I decided to make a whole post about all the adventure in Manali.
I stayed at Mountain Dew Guesthouse. Cool little place. The town was a ghost town so the price we got (300 rs per night) is not practical for season time. The owner wasn’t ever around but gave us loads of extra blankets since we were his only guests. Perk of this guesthouse is the views of the mountains from the windows.
Kerala’s beauty is no longer a secret, and with its popularity have come crowds of visitors – both from within India and from overseas. Those crowds have congregated in specific areas of Kerala and led to problems for Kerala’s wildlife, environment and local inhabitants: from pollution, to over-development, to lack of local empowerment and economic benefit from tourism.
Northern Kerala has been off the beaten track for many visitors to Kerala, who have focused more on the central and southern parts of the state. But that may be about to change. This year, Lonely Planet has named Northern Kerala as one of Asia’s hotspots, and as a paradise for those seeking a quieter taste of Kerala. Small homestays line the palm fringed shores, with uninterrupted views out across the Arabian sea.
Getting to and from Kannur
Kannur is well connected by railway north to Goa and Mumbai, and south to Kochi and the rest of Kerala. There’s reportedly a new airport for those coming from further afield. There are also buses connecting to the rest of Kerala and nearby Karnataka state. Our recommended mode of transport in India is by train.
Our second homestay in Wayanad was with the inspiring Kabani Tour which we found through Visit.org. Kabani Community tourism have set up two village community tourism projects in Kerala and are currently working on a third. Promoting “thoughtful travel”, their concept is one that revolves around travellers experiencing village life through homestays, meeting village elders, learning more about traditional life through guided walks and learning more about traditions. Revenue is then reinvested directly into the community from these activities.
We went to the Kabani village of Mothakara which is famous for its Women-to-Women travel initiatives. Set among villages of winding lanes, emerald paddy fields, and extended lolly-pop shape betel-nut trees, this village is a truly peaceful place. Local women from the village have been trained in guiding and showing (female) visitors to the village, the ways of local village life. These women previously had no employment opportunities, but rather were housewives.
Through the Women to Women travel project they have been given the opportunity to expand their horizons through interactions with visitors to the village, and also to earn additional income for the family. Initially the women did not have any English language skills, and relied on communicating through gestures, expressions, and through their hearts. Over time, English words have been exchanged and learned, and the project has continued to grow. These days these even a guesthouse run entirely by this inspiring team of women. Unfortunately during our visit, the women guide team were oversubscribed and so we didn’t get to experience their project in full; however we did get to meet the charming Radha.
Kochi: The thriving port town of Kochi, or Cochin, once the main centre of India’s spice trade, is a unique amalgamation of the old and the new. Take a walk down the rambling alleys of Kochi’s historic Jewish Colony, lined with brightly-painted houses, to see the Mattancherry Synagogue, one of the oldest existing synagogues in the Commonwealth. Or go see the Chinese Fishing Nets, in the Fort Cochin area. Unlike usual nets, these are fixed land installations and can only be found at Kochi, outside of China—a lasting testimony to the good relations between ancient Chinese emperors and the rulers of Kochi.
Munnar: The rolling hills of Munnar house some of the largest tea plantations in South India. Take some time off from Kerala’s more famous beaches and visit the tea museum, 1.5 kilometres out of town, or simply relax with a freshly-brewed cup on a serene tea estate. A perfect honeymoon destination in Kerala, Munnar boasts of an astonishing terrain and breathtaking landscapes.
Alappuzha: Home to the famous backwaters of Kerala, Alappuzha or Alleppey, as it’s more commonly called, was originally a small fishing village that has now become one of India’s most popular tourist destinations. Precariously balanced on an intricate network of inland canals and backwaters, life at Alleppey is languid, best experienced on a houseboat, or by taking a quiet stroll on Alleppey Beach.
Ooty also known as Udhagamandalam is the Queen of hill stations. It is the capital of Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu and one of the most popular tourist resorts in India. Nilgiris means Blue Mountains. It is a land of picturesque picnic spots which used to be popular summer and weekend getaway for the Britishers during the colonial days. It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level. An added attraction for the tourists to Udhagamandalam is the mountain train journey on a ratchet and pinion track which commences from Kallar, near Mettupalayam and wends its way through many hair-raising curves and fearful tunnels and chugs along beside deep ravines full of verdant vegetation, gurgling streams and tea gardens.
(i) Grab a window seat on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway as the toy train makes its way through tunnels, curves, bridges and beautiful scenery to reach Ooty in five hours. Covering a stretch of 46 kilometres, views throughout the journey are spectacular.
(ii) Enjoy some leisure time paddle boating on the gorgeous waters of the Ooty Lake meandering through the valleys of the Nilgiris. From the middle of the lake, the views of the surrounding forests capture one’s imagination.
(iii) Time travel to the bygone colonial era at the Fernhill Palace. Built in 1844, this was the summer bungalow of the Maharaja of Mysore.
(iv) Doddabetta Peak is the highest point of South India at an altitude of 8,606 feet. The observatory atop the peak offers a 360-degree view of the panoramic vistas.
(v) St. Stephen’s Church continues to captivate tourists with its exquisite Gothic-style architecture built using wooden beams brought from Tipu Sultan’s Palace. The stained glass windows depicting Christ’s crucifixion and a painting of the Last Supper are the masterpieces here.
(vi) Take long walks amidst pine trees at Pykara Waterfall. Situated 20 kilometres from Ooty, the lake also offers speedboat rides for those seeking adventure.
(vii) A visit to the Dodabetta Tea Factory in Ooty is a must-do. The sprawling one-acre area surrounded by tea plantations displays the origin and evolution of tea in the Nilgiris. Remember to buy a stash of your favourite tea as a souvenir from here.
Standing at an altitude of 2623 m above the sea level, Doddabetta Peak is the highest point in the hill station from where one can savor panoramic views of Ooty and its surrounding places including highlands of Mysore and plains of Coimbatore. Just 10 km away from the main city, Doddabetta Peak is known to be one of South India’s highest peak that is quite popular amid tourists too.
Do not forget to click some memorable photographs here. On a clear day, the views are even more mesmerizing. There is also a Telescope house (with 2 telescopes) at the Peak, managed by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation so that the tourists can get a better view from the top. A trek up to the Peak is not a challenging one. The peak is enveloped by a reserved forest area that has several endangered species of flora and fauna.
Spread in an area of 22 hectares of rising slopes on a hill, the well-maintained Botanical Gardens are placed at an altitude of 2400 m above the sea level. Arranged by the Marquis of Tweedale in the year 1847, it is one of the main tourist attractions in Ooty. The garden is a treasure trove of lovely shrubs, flowering trees and rare colored lilies. Maintained by the Horticulture Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu, there are well- maintained verdant lawns, a monkey’s puzzle tree, a 20 million year old fossil tree, a huge variety of flowers, plants and bushes, an Italian – style garden bordering, a fern house with a vast variety of orchids and ferns, a pool and more.
Apart from tourists, the park is widely popular amid students studying plant science. The garden becomes the venue of Summer Festival, which is held here every year in May.
Lying in the heart of Ooty, Rose Garden or the Centenary Rose Park covers a lush land of 10 acres. Maintained by Tamil Nadu Horticulture Department, the garden is spread in the form of a terrace with bowers, tunnels and pergolas. In the year 2006, the garden has been the winner of ‘Garden of Excellence’, awarded by the World Federation of Rose Societies.The garden boasts of housing the country’s largest collection of roses with over 3600 Varieties like miniature rose, hybrid tea rose, ramblers, floribunda, roses in several colors including green and black. The different variety of roses here have been brought from different places. The park is open from 8:30 AM to 6 PM. Rose Garden is the largest rose garden of the country.