Andaman & Nicobar Pocket Guide

How to plan your Andaman Trip?
Andaman Trip can sometimes get daunting because of so many things happening across Andaman Tours. Hundreds of people offer Andaman Tour Packages. How will you know what is best during your trip? Well, do cheapest tours to Andaman actually means its cheapest? Well, trust us this page has it all and this page will give you an overview as how to plan your Andaman Trip. To begin with, we recommend you to

Identify 3 Most Important Things for your Trip:
Before we land into the top 3 points. We recommend you to check the flight tickets. Flight tickets usually get expensive as the date of travel approaches near. Book your flight tickets as early as possible. Suggested time is 72-90 Days in advance. Well, sometimes you get a deal as the date is very close to the departure may be around 7 days before your departure. However, at that moment since the day of your travel is close by finding good hotels as per your liking will be difficult. In Andaman, the good hotels and resorts get sold out fast. If you are not finding cheap tickets during your travel date then put an alert in skyscanner.com. This website will give you regular updates about the price for your travel dates. The second option is to consult local travel companies in Andaman who does group flight bookings. These companies have better deals on the flight tickets as they purchase some tickets in advance for a group. Now let’s begin.

Things you need to identify
Destination and Attractions you prefer to visit. Described in detail below.
Things you wish to do in Andaman Islands. Updated as of 2018.
✓ Number of Days you plan to visit, do not plan just 3-4 days. It is too less time to visit this exotic destination. However, if you have a time constraint then consider a combination of 2 Nights Port Blair and 1 Night Havelock Island atleast.
✓ Expected Budget. Every one has a limit.

Preference
✓ Some prefer everything.
✓ Some prefer a relaxed trip not bothered about where they go and what they do. Just don’t want any overhead.
✓ Some are more inclined towards “Dude, what are the cheapest things to do? or how to reduce my trip cost”.
✓ Some for Honeymoon, Business meets, Group tour, MICE etc…

Now, considering all these factors this is what we at Experience Andamans try to achieve. Irrespective of what your budget is, what your preferences are, what your feedback for a particular destination is or what your inner self feel is correct. An unbiased review about a particular hotel, resort, activity or restaurant is what we recommend to travellers to help plan their trip in a better way.

Where do most people visit?
Most of the travellers who visit Andaman Islands, visit Port Blair (The Capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Havelock Island(Known for its beach resorts and amazing water activities) and Neil Island (Scenic Island with very little crowd and lots of open space). Now, those who come for longer duration visit Middle Andaman, this includes Baratang Island and Rangat, and North Andaman, known for its turtle nesting grounds and twin island Ross and Smith. In addition, some offbeat travelers visit Long Island and Little Andaman as well. The connectivity for both Little Andaman and Long Island are not very good as of 2018. Seen below is the map of the Andaman Islands that will give you an idea about the islands.

For How many days should I come to Andaman? What are the various tours?
You should come to Andaman Island for a minimum of 4 Days. Now, there are various kinds of packages that one can select or can customize a tour based upon the requirement. We are listing some of the packages that can be selected. For those coming from 4 days until 10 days here are some packages for you

Package tour for 4 Days If you are planning a 3 Night and 4 Days tour to Andaman then you can consider this trip. It is a combination of both Port Blair and Havelock Island. For a Weekend also this tour will come handy.

Andaman Package for 5 Days Now many come to Andaman for 4 Nights and 5 Days. This trip contains some of the best attractions in Andaman during this 4 day trip. This package contains both Port Blair and Havelock Island along with Ross Island and Coral Island.

Andaman Package for 6 Days We always recommend travelers to come to andaman for atleast 5 Night and 6 Days so that they can spend a decent amount of time in Andaman without much hurry. This is one package for 6 Days, it can be further customized to add Neil Island.

Package tour for 7 Days 6 Nights and 7 Days trip to Andaman is actually perfect. In this you can easily cover Port Blair, Havelock and Neil Island without much hassle and your trip will be very comfortable. This package explains one of this tour.

Andaman trip for 10 Days Now with 10 days you open doors to the North Andaman Islands which hosts one of the most unique attraction in Andaman the Ross and Smith Island. This package tour explains one of this trip that covers Port Blair, Havelock, Neil Island, Baratang and Diglipur along with visit to Ross and Smith Island. If you have sufficient number of days then a visit to Andaman for 10 Days is recommended by Experience Andamans.

Which Hotel or Resorts to select at the Andaman Islands?

Budget/Standard Category Hotels in Andaman Islands

Port Blair – Hotel Velocity, Andaman Residency, Hotel Marine View, Hotel London, Hotel Adarsh, Vedant Residency, Hotel Anbu etc.
Some even cheaper lodges are Phoenix, Hotel ASM, Hotel Paradise, Raj Niwas, Aashina Hotel and many more … These might not have any websites, however has a good following for people looking for budgeted trips.

Havelock Island – V Knot residency, Orient Legend Resort, Harmony Resort, Gold Star Beach resort, Hotel Saurav and few others. The cheapest rooms in any known resort are the NON AC Rooms, Eco Rooms or huts in Havelock Island. Eco Huts without attached bathrooms are cheap as well.

Neil Island – Pearl Park resort and Tango Resort NON AC Room are the best options currently available. Coconhuts beach resort, Blue stone Lodge, Hotel Kingfisher is dead cheap but the room quality is not very good.

Can we stay in NON AC Rooms or ECO Huts in the Andaman Islands, are these hotels safe?

Yes, its fine to stay in an Eco Huts (Available in Havelock and Neil Island.) or NON AC Rooms(Available in Port Blair). Specifically, if you are planning for a PADI certified course in Andaman,which are expensive then you do not want to spend a lot on your room cost. People who are avid travellers and who doesn’t care much about their accommodation or room quality can stay in such rooms. Just to make it clear, these rooms are clean, its just that these are very basic. Is it safe? Yes, indeed at the Andaman Islands people understand that their main source of revenue is tourism and the hotel and resorts make sure that the travellers are not affected by any kind of nuisance around their locality irrespective of what their gender or age is. Each person at the Andaman Islands unknowingly by his/her behaviour contribute to Andaman Tourism and help people around them. Also note that when you are staying in eco huts then please donot expect the luxury of a resort as we have seen many travelers complaining that the room is not very great for eco huts. In such cases, no one can do much as eco huts are created and managed in the most economical way possible.

Deluxe Category hotels in the Andaman Islands

Port Blair – Sea Shell, Hotel Shompen, Hotel Rhishab, Hotel NK Internation, Hotel J, Hotel Haywizz, De Marina (Sea Facing Hotel), Silver Spring, Aparupa, Sun Sea, Blue Sea, Megapode Nest . As of 2018, there are many new hotels that has come up in the islands that can be considered. etc.

Havelock Island – Symphony Palms, Sea Shell, Holiday Inn Beach Resort, Blue Bird Beach Resort, Wild Orchid, Dolphin Resort, Havelock Holiday Beach Resort and Havelock Island Beach Resort.

Luxury Category Hotels/ Resorts in Andaman Islands

Port Blair – Sea Princess beach resort, Sinclairs bay View, Peerless Sarovar, Fortune Resort Bay Island, Coral Cove and Rose Valley Resort.

Havelock Island – Silver Sand Beach Resort, Munjoh Ocean Resort and Barefoot, Coral Reef resort. Lately Taj has launched its property in 2018 at Havelock Island. For those who are looking into staying at the only 5 star resort in the islands then Taj is there for you at Havelock Island by the Indias best beach, Radhanagar.

Neil Island – At Neil these are the best options you can consider. Sea Shell at Neil Island, Pearl Park Beach Resort, TSG Aura, Silver Sand Resort at Neil, Holiday Inn Neil Island and Tango – Lagoon Room could be an option.

Must Visit Attraction at the Andaman Islands

Port Blair
✓ Jolly Bouy Island – Opened only for 6 months in a year. Closed on Mondays
✓ Baratang Island – Closed on Mondays
✓ Chidia Tapu – Always Open
✓ Ross Island – Closed on Wednesdays
✓ North Bay Island – Always Open
✓ Cellular Jail – Closed on Monday and Public Holidays. Though the Light and Sound Show is operational on all days usually.

Havelock Island
✓ Elephant Beach for Snorkeling – Can be reached by boat or by trekking for upto 40 Minutes from Havelock Jetty or can be reached via trekking.
✓ Radhanagar Beach – Always Open except after sunset.

Neil Island
✓ Laxmanpur Beach, Sitapur beach and Howra Bridge can be visited.

Diglipur
✓ Ross and Smith Island (Twin island adjoined by a Sand bar), Saddle Peak (Highest Point in Andaman) and Turtle nesting.

Must Do Activities at the Andaman Islands

✓  Scuba Diving at Havelock Island. – Courses for both Swimmers and Non Swimmers are available.
✓  Sea Walk at North Bay Island. – Both Swimmers and Non Swimmers can avail this trip. This is more like space walk.
✓  Snorkelling at Jolly Bouy and Elephant Beach – Anyone over the age of 7 Years can avail this activity.
✓  Trekking to Limestone Caves – Baratang Island – A little tiring for elderly people and people with physical disabilities.
✓  Fishing Trips to Cinque Island
✓  Kayaking in Havelock Island.
✓  Andaman Dolphin Glass Boat Ride.
✓  Coral Safari – Semi Submarine – Recommended for Travelers with Kids.
✓  TSG Bella Bay – Evening Luxury Cruise at Port Blair.
✓  Trip to Barren Island – The only active volcano in India.

Now, we think you have an overview of what your Andaman tour package should contain.

How cheap is the Andaman Tour Package?
On a general note, Andaman is fairly expensive than other cities in Mainland India, mainly because we don’t produce anything. Most of the things are imported from either Chennai or Kolkata via sea route. Now, Havelock and Neil Island are more expensive than Port Blair because you have to ship everything from the Capital city Port Blair to Havelock Island/ Neil Island. For that reason, the per night hotel room cost is almost double than what is available in Port Blair. Now, we head up to how can one get the best deal for Andaman?

If you come in a group of 20 people or above you will get the best deals. No matter where you stay and what you prefer because you will be travelling in your group and will distribute the total costing which will end up each person spending less amount than for travellers in less number. The discount can go upto 30%. However, please note that you will need local travel companies who can help you crack the best deal as these companies are very aware of the best cost that is available in the islands.

If you come in a group of 10 people the cost reduces. This can go upto 20% again but now you will just have to consider where you wish to stay as the cost can significantly vary depending upon the room cost per night.

For couples, your total cost depends upon the category of hotels, and the places you prefer to visit. Please don’t just go with the initial package cost you see. Ask the vendor, how have you charged me? Can you provide the breakup? Business who can provide the break ups are the real ones because they know the best prices in the market and are ready to share the breakup. Those who are not take different ways. We at Experience Andamans share breakup of the total tour cost so that you know what you are paying for. Thus bringing transparency in your trip to Andaman Islands.

The package price varies depending upon what you do and where you stay and yes the number of days as well. Some packages can go less than 5000 per person. Yes, off course this is the starting range where people travel for only 3 Nights or less to Andaman Islands. We at Experience Andamans, personally do not recommend such a less amount of days to Andaman Islands. But, be careful that you just don’t get anything which is not even worth the price you are paying for. On an average a package for 4 Nights and above can cost you Rupees 9000 to Rupees 50000 per person based on the things you will be doing in Andaman Islands.

Resorts / Hotels Suggested for Andaman and Nicobar Honeymoon Package?

PORT BLAIR – Hotel J, Hotel Shompen, Hotel Haywizz, Sinclairs, Megapode Nest, Sea Princess, Rose Valley and Peerless Sarovar.
HAVELOCK – Sea Shell, Symphony Palms, Silver Sand, Havelock Island beach Resort, Holiday Inn beach Resort, Munjoh, Coral Reef and Barefoot.
NEIL – Pearl Park Beach Resort, Summer Sand, Holiday Inn at Neil, TSG Aura and Sea Shell.

Now the only 5 star resort in Andaman has been launched in 2018, Taj. You can also consider Taj for your honeymoon in the islands. If you have any specific hotel or resort request during customization of your package then do drop a request.

Coffee Land of Karnataka – Chikmagalur

Known as ‘the coffee land of Karnataka’, Chikmagalur is decorated with lush green hills, sprawling gardens of coffee and captivating vistas. A beautiful hill retreat in the Mullayanagiri range, Chikmagalur means the town of younger daughter and makes a perfect weekend getaway from Bangalore. This quaint heaven situated in Western Ghats is an ideal choice for trekkers and those who want to seek solitude.

Planning a trip to this charming hill retreat of Karnataka? Here’re the top things to do in Chikmagalur.

1.Kudremukh Trek

Regarded as UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kudremukh National Park is one of the top attraction in Chikmagalur. The trek to Kudremukh is adorned with breathtaking vistas of horse-face hills and verdant valleys. It is considered as the equivalent heaven in South India and being the third highest peak in Karnataka the trek is a bit challenging as well. The charismatic landscape of Kudremukh is what you can’t miss when visiting Chikmagalur.

2.Hebbe Falls

Do you love adventures? Then this place is just perfect for you in Chikmagalur. The thrilling drive through lush green forest from Kemmanagundi to Hebbe Falls is awesome. The area around the waterfall is decorated with splendid coffee plantations. Get away from the hectic lives and rejuvenate in the lap of nature. Hebbe Falls in one of the stunning falls that you can’t miss when in Chikmagalur.

3.Rafting In Bhadra River

The gushing rapids of River Bhadra makes it an ideal place for white water rafting in Chikmagalur. The best and thrilling rapids are found between Magundi to Balehole segment. You can choose to camp by the riverside for an ultimate camping experience. The spectacular landscape of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is treat to the eyes. If you are an adventure enthusiast, then don’t miss out the rafting activity when in Chikmagalur.

4. Hoysala Temples

Constructed during 11th-13th century, Hoysala Temple circuit is one of the top attraction near Chikmagalur. There are total 92 temples in this circuit but only 3 of them were exquisitely carved. These 3 temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The best time to visit Hoysala Temples is during dawn or dusk as it offers a pleasant break from the urban life. Get mesmerized by the ancient architecture of Somanathapura, Belur and Halebidu Temples.

5. Kalhatti Falls

Kalhatti Falls also known as Kalahasti Falls is believed to be the place where Sage Agastya has prayed for years. The waterfall offers the majestic views of Chandra Drona hills. Right in front of Kalhatti Falls, there is a temple namely Veerbhadra Temple built during the Vijayanagar period. Blessed with the natural beauty, Kalhatti Falls is a must visit place in Chikmagalur for nature and peace lovers.

6. Mullayanagiri

Situated in the Baba Budangiri range of Western Ghats, Mullayanagiri is the highest peak between the Nilgiris and the Himalayas. Offering its visitors with enchanting vistas of nature is adorned with lush green meadows and perfect trekking trail. Popular among adventure lovers, Mullayanagiri is a good place of activities such as mountain biking and road biking. Don’t forget to take prior permission from the Chikmagalur forest department before beginning on this adventurous trek to Mullayanagiri. Get away from the hullaballoos of city life by visiting this place near Chikmagalur.

7. Explore The Coffee Culture

The first coffee plantation in India began from Chikmagalur. Thanks to Baba Budan, a muslim saint who brought few seeds of coffee from Yemen and cultivated here. Most of the accommodations are located amidst sprawling coffee gardens thus giving an amazing opportunity to learn more about your favourite beverage during office hours. Coffee plantation walks are also organised by the owners of these gardens to understand the variety of coffee, seasons and much more.

Explore the coffee land of Karnataka and make memories to cherish for lifetime!

If you are also looking for a perfect getaway, then check out www.hippytraveller.com for exciting & memorable trips. Contact us at mayank@hippytraveller.com or call us at +91-9999098154 for best deals on travel packages.

Contributed by Sahil Singh (Travel Blogger)

Perfect Destination for Christmas Celebration

‘Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle All The Way!’

Just listening to this Christmas carol sends everyone into a jolly and festive mode. The smell of the freshly baked muffins and cakes, the bells, the tree, warm greeting and the Christmas tree, everything sets us grooving to the Christmas tune. India doesn’t celebrate Christmas like the Wild West does, however we have our unique ways or celebrating the spirit of the festival! These are the best places to celebrate Christmas in India. From Shimla’s white Christmas to Kokata’s cheerful “Bada Din” to Goa’s Portuguese influenced festival, there are many ways to soak the Yuletide spirit in India. So, put on your travelling pants and your Santa Cap and experience India differently.

Goa

Goa tops the list of places where the Christmas celebration cannot be missed. It is majorly a Christian dominated area and is known for its historical churches and tradition. To top this, it is also one of the favorite spots for year-end parties like Sunburn and Supersonic. But for the locals, this is the time when Goan homes and bakeries make sweets such as Dodol (Coconut and Cashew Nut squares), Neureos (stuffed dry fruit and Coconut balls), Kol-kols and fruit cake. If this year you’re planning to visit Goa during Christmas, get ready to be mesmerized by the ever so creatively decorated houses. In addition, there are family feasts with lavish meals of turkey or chicken, suckling pig, sorpotel and desserts. This food is also offered at some hotels and restaurants such as Hotel Mandovi in Panjim. The festival season officially ends with a service and procession on January 6, or the Feast of the Magi, when three kings came to pay obeisance to the infant Jesus.

Kolkata

The city of joy becomes brighter and livelier during the Christmas season. Being the capital of the British government until 1911, it has a long and vibrant history of celebrating the festival. In Kolkata, reside a sizeable community of Anglo-Indians who celebrate Christmas or ‘Bada Din’ as they call it. The city of joy offers a lot during this festive season, from shimmering lights at the Park Street, mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral and fruitcakes along with other traditional and exotic treats at the oldest bakeries such as Nahoum’s and Flury’s.

Mumbai

Christmas is celebrated with much vigor and zest, here in Mumbai. It is one of the most popular destinations due to its historical value. There are a large number of Christians residing in the city. The midnight mass organized by a vast number of churches is a tradition that’s been followed since ages. Stroll along the lanes of Church Gate, Hill Road and Bandra to witness brightly lit up terrific Christmas trees on the sidewalks. Dash up to make your wish count!

Kerala

Kerala, God’s own Country, is a great alternate to Goa. Known widely for its clean and beautiful beaches and a large number of churches to visit during the festive season. Kerela is also famous for its backwaters, which come with its own charm. It is a great place to just relax and enjoy the ambience of the houseboats, which proves to be a great way to celebrate a relaxed Christmas.

Pondicherry

‘India’s little France’ was once a French colony in India and hence the name. Again, known for the spectacular beaches and traditional churches. Programs in churches such as the ‘Church of our last immaculate conception’ and ‘Basilica of the sacred heart of Jesus Christ’ are what make it stand out from the rest of the places. The sumptuous local cuisine is another reason for you to book one of the Christmas holiday deals for Pondicherry!

Hope you have a blessed festive season and a wonderful New Year! Make sure to pack your bags and head off to these amazing destinations.

 

4 Off-Beat Places in Uttarakhand

If you hear the call of the mountains – head out to Uttarakhand that promises you nature in all its beauty and serenity. And if a mention of Uttarakhand only conjures up images of Nainital or Mussoorie, then you have a lot more to learn about the picturesque state of Uttarakhand! Yes, this small mountainous state has many beautiful and as yet unknown gems – waiting to be explored. So gear up this summer season and head out into the interiors of this state for a perfect getaway; as one thing is sure – these places promise you sheer solitude and untouched beauty, even in peak summer!

So here is our list of pretty places for an offbeat holiday in Uttarakhand.

1. Chaukori

Cradled in the interiors of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, this bowl-shaped hamlet is a dreamy little village that lies amid lush green fields that give way to soaring snow-peaked mountains. This quaint village gives you majestic sunrise and sunset views of the glistening Himalayas and you can get spectacular views of Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchachuli peaks from here.

How to reach Chaukori: Chaukhori is almost 200 km from the nearest railhead of Kathgodam. A taxi from Kathgodam would charge approx Rs 4000 and travel time is over 6 hours. Numerous buses ply from Delhi including Volvo and other private deluxe buses till Kathgodam / Nainital. You can take a taxi from Nainital too, which will take about 5.5 hours. Then there is the small Pant Nagar airport in Kumaon region but it has infrequent flights, and is an hour further away from Kathgodam.

Where to stay in Chaukori: Chaukori has a Government run Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) guest house which is beautifully located with a good view. There are also a number of private options from one-star to two-star hotels and the Misty Mountains Resort – its best hotel, a three-star. Prices vary from Rs 1100 to Rs 7500 per night during summer season. In the off-season, you can get these hotels at much lower rates.

2. Sattal

This pretty place is not even classified as a village, and as its name suggests it is, in fact, an interconnected group of seven freshwater lakes. Set amid dense leafy forests of oak and pine, the lakes make for a picturesque setting. This tranquil haven seems isolated in its solitude, though it lies just 10 km from the bustling town of Bhowali and 22 km from the tourist hotspot – Nainital. This place is great for bird lovers as the lakes attract many migratory birds. This is also the go-to place if you want to visit Uttarakhand during monsoons, as it is at its picturesque best then.

How to reach Sattal: Sattal is 35 km from the railhead of Kathgodam and cabs are easily available. It takes about 2 hours to reach here from Kathgodam. Sattal is 22kms from Nainital and a cab can easily be availed from there too.

Where to Stay in Sattal: Sattal offers luxury accommodation to those who seek it and has a 4-star as well as a 3-star property, besides a host of two-star hotels. It also offers various camping options for the adventure enthusiasts. The KMVN tourist lodge is located next to one of the lakes.

3. Gwaldam

If you want to go off the beaten track – head to Gwaldam. This quaint town is nestled among tall pine woods and orchards and seems to be enveloped with an air of perfect tranquility and solitude. Gwaldam is also the base camp for treks to Roopkund and the Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra. A trek to the Bandhangarhi temple here gives you mesmerizing views of the Himalayas including the magnificent Trishul peak. Also visit Kausani – about 40 km from here, for a close-up view of the Himalayas including the majestic Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Panchchuli peaks.

How to reach Gwaldam: The best way to get here is from the railhead of Kathgodam, about 172 km away. Smooth roads connect it and the drive is almost 6 hours long. Taking a local taxi is the best option.

Places to stay in Gwaldam: This remote place has only a handful of hotels and of course the Government GMVN guest house. There is just one 2-star property – Nature’s Retreat Resort and the others are one-star properties. The prices range around Rs 300 to Rs 1000 maximum.

4. Dhanaulti

This quiet little hill station is just 26 km from Mussoorie, yet remains far from the madding crowds. Flanked by dense Oak, Deodar, and Rhododendron trees with a panoramic view of the Himalayas, it seems to be enveloped in a mystical spell. The pretty Eco-park and the mesmerizing Surkhanda Devi temple on a hilltop – about 8 km away, are some of the chief attractions of the place. In winters the town receives heavy snowfall, another reason tourists throng the place even during winters.

How to reach Dhanaulti: This quaint town is fairly accessible as it lies just 62 km from the town of Dehradun. It, however, takes over 2 hours to reach, as there are some steep stretches and loose gravel roads along the way. Local buses and taxis also ply from Mussoorie. Dehradoon is fairly well-connected by rail and Haridwar nearby is an important railhead. The Jolly Grant Airport lies 25km from Dehradun and has flights from all metros and important North Indian cities.

Places to stay in Dhanaulti: Dhanaulti offers luxury stays at its 4-star property – Classic Hill Top Resort and has a host of good 3-star and 2-star properties as well as camp stay options. There are also two Government guest houses of GMVN which are reasonably priced with good amenities. Getting a hotel room in Dhanaulti even during peak season is generally not a problem.

Best time to visit Uttarakhand: The summer season from March to April is perfect weather for a visit to this state. Temperatures vary between 20 degrees to 35-degree centigrade and the cool mountain breeze makes for a pleasant stay. For a snow experience, December to January is the best. However if a clear view of the Himalayas is what you are looking for, October to November is the right time.
Get ready for a tranquil getaway in the lap of nature as you tick off these offbeat places in Uttarakhand from your bucket list.

 

Valley of Flowers : Flower’s Land !

History
Once upon a time, in the year 1862, a group of wanderer and nature lover British army officers lost their way to a place in the foothills of current days Uttranchal. The valley was blooming with a number of exotic and Indian flowering plants, with the aroma spread everywhere, the valley looked like a dreamland. The inaccessible valley from the outer world could not be explored earlier by anyone so the credit to discover the valley of flowers goes to the group of people.

Overview
The Valley of Flowers is a high altitude valley in the foothills of Himalaya and is recognized internationally for its uniqueness. Declared a national park in the year 1982, the valley is a identified as a World heritage Site. It gained importance as an area containing alphine flora and fauna in a single area. Varieties of perfumed flowers is the speciality of the valley. The area falls in the Zanskar range of the Himalyas with the highest point in the national park being Gauri Parbat, which is 6719 meters above the sea level. The colourful empire of the Valley of Flowers ranges upto 87.5 kilometers.

 

The Forest Research Institute in 1992 recorded 600 species of angiosperms and 30 pteridophytes in the valley and surroundings, discovering 58 new records for the valley of which 4 were new for Himalayan state. Of these plants, 5 out of 6 species globally threatened are not found in Nanda Devi National Park or elsewhere in Uttarakhand. Aconitum falconeri, A. balfouri, Himalayan maple (Acer caesium), the blue Himalayan poppy (Meconopsis aculeata) and Saussurea atkinsoni. Kala classified 31 species of rare and endangered categories within the national park in 1998. Further studies report that the dominant family in Valley of Flowers is Asteraceae with 62 species 45 medicinal plants are used by local villagers and several species, such as Saussurea obvallata (brahmakamal) are collected as religious offerings to goddesses Nanda Devi and Sunanda Devi. The site is designated a Centre of Plant Diversity.

The flora was surveyed and inventoried in 1987 by the Botanical Survey of India, in 1992 by the Forest Research Institute and in 1997 by the Wildlife Institute of India which found five species new to science. A research nursery and seed/rhizome/tuber bank for propagating rare plants and valuable medicinal herbs has been created at Musadhar near the entrance of the site. Rare and valuable medicinal plants are the subject of special programs.

How to Reach
To reach Valley of Flowers, physical fitness of the person is the prime requirement because it needs a trekking of about 17 kilometers to reach the location from the road. The valley is located at about 300 kilometers north of Rishikesh. Josimath is the last place, accessible by road and the rest journey needs to be covered. In between you can also cover the pilgrimage of Sikhs, hemkund Sahib. The tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Govind Singhji mediated at Hemkund Sahib for years. The word Hemkund literally suggests ‘Lake of snow’ and the immaculate water of this lake is as cold as snow. Hemkund Saheb is located at an elevation of 4,329mts above sea level amidst several snow capped peaks, which are collectively called Hemkund Parvat.

A star shaped gurudwara near the lake is visited by thousands of devotees every month. A temple dedicated to Lakshman, brother of Lord Rama is also located here. One must complete a trek of 6km from Ghangharia to reach Hemkund Sahib. The best time to visit this place is from July to November.

 

The other transit spot which comes in the way of trekking to the Valley of Flowers is Ghangaria. It is the last human vegetation center on the way. Ghangaria is a scenic hamlet perched at an altitude of 3,050mts above sea level at a distance of 13km from Govind Ghat and four kms before Valley of flowers. The trek becomes easy to moderate from this point if you are travelling towards Hemkund Sahib.

From Govindghat to Ghangaria the trek officially is 14 km but after the flood in 2013 the trek has been rerouted at many places and the total distance has been increased. Although not official but it should be approximately 16 km now. It will take almost 8-10 hours of trekking. Depending upon your stamina and speed you can trek between 3 km to 8 km one side in to the valley. The first entry is allowed at 7.00 am and you need to get out of the valley by 5 pm. The trek has become steeper since 2014 as 1 km of the trek has been rebuilt and now we need to go up and come down again. Once we reach 3.5 km inside the valley the trek is almost flat.
You can easily get ponies from Govindghat for Ghangaria. Other option is to take Helicopter or Palanquin/porter. Helicopter will fly only when weather conditions are normal.

The region is prone to heavy snowfall in winters, therefore the region remains opened from May to October. A Gurudwara, GMVN rest houses and a few more hotels provide accommodation facility at Ghangharia.

The place which is the starting point of trekking is known as Govindghat. It is hardly 20 kilometers before Badrinath and you can drive the vehicles smoothly till the place. “Unspoiled by human invasions, this imposing land lay iced up in the colder months, and burst into its majestic boom on the arrival of hotter months. During these months the valley sheds its somnolent nature with its multitudes of exotic flora. When the monsoon clouds began to drizzle, the valley shows its flowery face and the entire region would glisten like a colourful carpet”, so describes the Uttaranchal Government about the valley of flowers.

When To Visit
Valley of flowers has a cool but pleasant climate all through the year. Summers (June to October) have a cool weather with maximum temperature reaches to nearly 17 °C and is a good season for viewing the panoramic beauty. Winters (November to May) are snow covered and difficult to visit the outdoor attractions. Minimum temperature can go well down with average minimum about 7 °C.

 

Best Season to visit Valley of Flowers is between July to October. July to October is pleasant and ideal for the visit of the national park and is good for spotting endangered animals. August and September are eye catching months with blooming flowers. December to May is snow bound and road blocks prevent the tourist from visiting the outdoors.

So, if you are thinking of visiting the place, it is suggested that you postpone the visit till July next year. Meanwhile, get your fitness checked and if necessary, acclimatized yourself. It will help your trip in a pleasure.

Entry Fee
Like entry fee for most of other tourist places in India the entry fee is separate for Indian nationals and foreigners. Entry fee for Valley of Flowers is Rs. 150 for Indian Nationals and Rs. 600 for foreigners. This entry ticket is valid for 3 days for any extra day Indians need to pay Rs. 50 whereas foreigners need to pay Rs. 250. To take a professional video camera inside the valley Indians need to pay Rs. 500 and for foreigners it is Rs. 1500 for a day.

Kerala – God’s Own Land

Kerala is a cocktail of culture, great food and gift’s bestowed upon it by nature. From a pristine coastline, rich history, wild jungles, beautiful tea gardens to secrets like the backwaters, Kerala is a special destination when it comes to family travel. You can pack so much in a short while and nothing gets left out. Here is an ideal trip while planning a family getaway!

The Perfect Family Trip to Experience the Best of Kerala:
Kerala

Day 1. Culture and history at Kochi

Arrive at Kochi and experience Kerala’s unique history and culture. Visit the Mattancherry Palace also know as Dutch palace, the Paradesi Synagogue which was built in 1568. This place of worship is witness to arrival of the Dutch, Portuguese and then the British.Spend the evening with family on Marine Drive.

Day 2. Tea estates and excellent weather at Munnar

A 125 km drive through Kerala’s hinterland and up the Western Ghats is Munnar which is a pleasant and beautiful place. The tea estates are beautiful. Nice place to stay in town with good view of mountains. Love the home made chocolates and fresh tea. Try some soft trekking with your family, they will love the outdoors.

Day 3. Extraordinary wildlife at Thekkady

A 100 km drive through the picturesque Idukki district, you reach the catchement area of the Mullaperiyar Dam, the beautiful setting of the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is famous for its dense evergreen forests and grass lands. It is home to herds of elephants, sambar, tigers, gaur and lion-tailed Macaques.

Day 4. The houseboat experience in Alleppey

Returning to the coast, a 135 km drive, you reach Alleppey and it’s inviting backwaters. Spending a night in a houseboat is an experience that can’t be replaced by anything else. The backwaters of Alleppey are known locally as the ‘Venice’ of India. The houseboats take you around as well as put you up for the night.

Day 5. A last day in Kochi before heading home

Spend a last day in Kochi, 55km from Alleppey, before you return home to life as you know it. Cochin is one of the most popular place in kerala. Their beaches. Their cleanliness. Lullu market is also speciality of Cochin. Marina beach is very nice beach.

Gulmarg – Heaven on Earth

Gulmarg literally means “Meadow of flowers”. Gulmarg is located 60 KMs away from Srinagar which is an hour and half journey by car. Gulmarg has attracted millions of tourists throughout its existence with the scenic beauty of the Himalayan Mountains in the back drop. One of the main attractions in Gulmarg is the Gulmarg Gondola, the Highest Cable Car in the world. The 1st phase of the Gondola takes tourists to the height of 8530 ft to Kongdori Station and the second stage of the Gondola goes up to the height of 12293 ft. Tourists can enjoy horse Riding and can go riding to the magnificent “Strawberry Valley” , Leopards Valley and ride up to “Kongdori” to see the frozen lake of “Al- Pathar”. Gulmarg in winter is a magnificent experience, fully covered in a white blanket of Snow which turns it into a skiers paradise. The natural slopes here are untouched and prove to be a challenge to ace skiers! Besides the scenic side to Gulmarg, winter time in Gulmarg is a season of festivities with celebrations of “White Christmas” and New Year parties.

Gulmarg has been a resort for the kings like Yousuf Shah Chak and Jahangir who used to visit frequently. The old name of Gulmarg was “Gaurimarg”, the name of Lord Shiva’s wife. Yousuf Shah Chak changed its name to Gulmarg, meaning the place of roses. During the early part of the 20th century the famous Central Asian explorer Sir Marc Aurel Stein (1862–1943), made his home here in a tent between his expeditions. It was a favourite summer holiday destination for the British stationed in India.

Well, if you still think Gulmarg is a paradise for the thrill lovers, you will definitely be wrong as this gorgeous hill station is also the home to one of the highest golf courses in the world.

Best Time to Visit

Gulmarg experiences three different seasons in a year: Summer, Winter and Monsoon. Summer usually begins in March and continues till May. The hill station experiences a minimum of 13 degrees and a maximum of 29 degrees during this span of time. With the entire valley in its most gracious form, it attracts a large number of tourists during this period.

Monsoon usually starts by the end of July and continues till late August. The region do not experiences heavy rainfall and can also be visited during this season. On the other hand, winters in Gulmarg begins by November and continues till early March. The advent of the winters bring in an essence of wanderlust and also makes Gulmarg a paradise for all sorts of winter sports.

Places to Visit in Gulmarg

01 Apharwat Peak:

Mostly known with the skiers, the Aphawat Peak is one of the most attractive points in Gulmarg. Located within a close proximity to the scenic Alpathar Lake, this peak is around 13km from the hill station and can be easily reached. While during the winters, the peak remains cossetted with an enchanting blanket of snow, summers bring in a different grandeur. During this part of the year, the peak showcases the many different shades of the nature and wears one of its best looks!

02 Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve:

Located at a distance of 48km from Jammu and Kashmir’s capital city Srinagar, Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve is the one destination, the nature lovers cannot miss at any cost! Home to some of the exotic and endangered species of flora and fauna, this reserve is more known to be the abode of the Musk Deer and a wide range of avifauna. Among the other exotic species, the reserve has a significant population of Leopard, Black Deer, Red Fox and several others. For the bird watchers, they can delight on species like Blue Rock Pigeon, Griffon Vulture, Snow Cock, Jungle Crow and others.

03 Gulmarg Golf Course:

More than a golf course, it is a dream destination for the golfers. Whether a golfer or not, a visit to this remarkable site is a must in the Gulmarg itinerary. Measuring around 7,505 yards and perched at a height 2,650m, the golf course is tucked away amidst lush and evergreen thickets; this also makes it one of the most gorgeous courses in the world.

04 Ningle Nallah:

A dazzling piece of beauty amidst the snow clad hills and mountains of Gulmarg, Ningle Nallah is located around 10km from the hill station. With the melting snow from the Apharwat Peak as its source, this enchanting stream finally meets the Jhelum River. Lush and deciduous pine forests, colourful patches of grasslands around the stream and the fascinating hills jotting the stream makes it a must visit place in Gulmarg.

05 Other Places to Visit in Gulmarg Includes:

Kanchenjunga Museum, Nagin Valley, Khilanmarg, Avantiswami Temple, St. Mary’s Church, Alpather Lake, Lienmarg, Ferozepur Nallah, Imambara Goom

Things to do in Gulmarg
Cable Car Ride or the Gulmarg Gondola
Trekking
Skiing at Khilanmarg
Golfing
Sightseeing
Local Shopping
Attend Snow Festival

Other Nearby Tourist Attractions
Srinagar (50km)
Khilanmarg (6km)
Tangmarg (13km)
Palhalan (42km)
Magam (18km)
Sonmarg (126km)

Jaisalmer – Desert Camping

If camping in the middle of the desert has been on your wish list, Rajasthan just happens to be the place for you. The beautiful expanse of the golden desert, air sprinkled with sand and majestic yet humble camels around, set the scene for an exciting desert safari in Jaisalmer, the quintessential city. While it’s known for its rather hot and humid climate through most parts of the year, winters are relatively cool and pleasant enough to spend over the desert and not get sunburned. December – January are the ideals months you should visit Jaisalmer, when the nights are much cooler and days have a winter chill in the air. Along with the exciting desert safari in Jaisalmer, here are some other things you should not miss while you are in Jaisalmer.

1. Jaisalmer Desert Camping

Sam Dunes resorts are in the heart of the Thar Desert, where your actual desert safari in Jaisalmer begins! Camp out in the open with a late evening of food and drinks around the campfire. Don’t miss to spend some time star-gazing across the moon-lit sky either.

2. Jaisalmer Camel Rides across the Sand Dunes

The vehicles of the desert, Camel rides are a fun way to explore the desert through a Desert Safari in Jaisalmer desert. The rocky ride on the camel and the slight possibility of slipping and falling off in the sand, make it all the more fun. While Jaisalmer Camel rides are for short distances, you could then take a jeep desert safari to explore the sand dunes and the local life and people of the Jaisalmer desert.

3. Fort City – Sandstone Fort and Suncity

Rajasthan has a rich culture of folk arts, music being one of the prime. The Merasi Music School is a community of oppressed musicians struggling to keep their ancestral form of art alive. It aims at passing the rich musical heritage on to its children. Spending an evening here, you will experience the folk culture of Rajasthan, the mesmerizing vocals and music will enthral you beyond words. The Desert Festival is held every year in Jaisalmer, sometime in January/February which puts on a showcase of local performing arts.

5. Gadisagar Lake

The Gadisagar Lake in Jaisalmer is one of the scenic attractions of the city, surrounded by temples and shrines of Amar Sagar. Contrary to popular belief, it is not an oasis by a rainwater conservation lake that is responsible for the entire water supply of the arid city.

6. Haunted Kuldhara Village

Heading towards the ancient village Kuldhara near Jaisalmer, watch out for the caution signs and the eerie feeling you might get. This village is believed to be haunted and its history and ruins have some fascinating stories to spill.

7. Along the Border – the famous Longewala Post

Before you leave the city of Jaisalmer, drive to the border to see the Longewala Post and the famous Tanot Mata Temple for yourself which is far from what was seen in the movie ‘Border’. Though playing the songs from the movie while you drive towards the border, will of course make sense.

Find your Jaisalmer getaway with Hippy Traveller. Contact us at +91 999-909-8154 to plan your trip now !

Top 10 Bike Trips in India

Top 10 bike trips in India every motorcycle lover must take
If you love your motorbike, then these are 10 motorcycle trips in India you cannot afford to miss.

Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul. This is a popular saying among motorbiking enthusiasts. For bikers, nothing comes close to exploring a destinations on their two-wheeled buddy. India is blessed with some of the finest road routes that are just perfect for bikers. Some of these routes are known for their picturesque surroundings and breathtaking landscapes while some are popular simply for their level of difficulty and adventure. Either way, if you are a biker or a biking enthusiasts, you will be delighted to be on these routes. Here are top 10 bike trips in India every biker absolutely must take.

Delhi-Chandigarh-Manali-Leh

Known as one of the most adventurous biking routes in the world, the Chandigarh-Malai-Leh route is as picturesque and breathtraking as it is difficult and thrilling. Right till the village of Pang, the route is extremely tough making you work hard for every single kilometre. Add to it the Altitude Motion Sickness and what you have is an extremely challenging bike trip. However, the stunning blue skies and the magnificent roads after Pang make it totally worth it. The whole journey will truly give you memories of a lifetime. Once you reach Leh, you can embark on other lovley bike trips like Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso which have their own charm.

Siliguri-Darjeeling-Gangtok

The states of Sikkim and West Bengal in India are relatively unexplored. This is a shame as they are home to some of the most scenic mountains and valleys. The lush green hills and spectacular weather here make the region a delight for nature lovers. For bikers, the Siliguri-Darjeeling-Gangtok route is extremely picturesque and the perfect way to explore this beautiful part of India. From tea plantations to views of snow-clad mountain peaks, you will find it all on this route.

Mumbai-Goa

The coastal Mumbai-ratnagiri-Goa route is the best road trip to Goa. Mumbai is truly blessed to be at such a short distance from India’s biggest party spot. The Ratnagiri route is extremely scenic and takes you through some winding ghats as well as lush green farmlands dotted with palm groves. You will be reminded of the amazing road trip taken by Aamir, Saif and Akshaye in Dil Chahta Hai!

Manali-Spiti Valley

For those who think Ladakh is too cliched, Spiti is a great option to explore. It is every bit as beautiful as Ladakh and is home to some of the most scenic and thrilling roads. From lakes to valleys and clear skies to gushing rivers, Spiti has everything that will make you fele close to nature. The monasteries ere are mesmerizing and make you want to stay forever.

Shillong-Cherrapunji-Dawki-Mawlynnong

And then there is the hidden gem of India – the northeast. Rolling green hills, cloudy skies, gushing waterfalls and breathtaking rivers await you in northeast India. You can start your trip at Shillong and head to the wet land of Cherrapunji which is a backpacker’s delight. After checking out the famous living root bridges you can head to the lovely green Umgot river at Dawki followed by Asia’s cleanest village – Mawlynnong. The route is as beautiful as each one of these charming little spots.

Rajasthan – The Great Indian Thar desert

The great Indian Thar desert is more enchanting than you can imagine. The vast stretches of brown dotted with beautiful sand dunes instantly transports you out of your busy urban routine and makes you feel like you are in a land where time stands still. As you ride through Barmer, Jaisalmer and head to the sand dunes of Khuri, you can feel going away from your mundane life and entering a magical land of rejuvenation, relaxation and self-discovery. You can take a camel safari and camp under the stars in the middle of the desert too.

Bangalore-Gokarna

One of the most well-maintained roads in the country, the route to Gokarna is very special for bikers. Not only is it an easy cruise, the weather and the surroundings also make it a memorable experience. Gokarna is an ideal spot for relaxation and the nearby Kudle beach is great for those looking for beauty amidst nature. Its lovely golden sand and long stretch will give you the vacation of your dreams.

Pollachi-Valparai-Vazhachal-Athirapally

Remember the Athirapally Falls from the movie Baahubali? They fall on one of India’s most beautiful riding routes. Known as the best monsoon ride in India, the route from Pollachi in Tamil Nadu to Chalakudy in Kerala has amazing cloud forests and tropical rainforests. The huge amount of rainfall here leads to gushing waterfalls and several dams and reservoirs. If you are a wildlife lover, you will love this route as the Anaimalai tiger reserve or the Vazhachal forest reserve here give rise to the possibility of wildlife sightings.

Great Rann of Kutch

The Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat is one of India’s finest wonders. The ride from Mumbai to the Great Rann of Kutch can be quite rewarding and once you reach Bhuj, you are in for a treat. The vast expanse of the salty marshland is unparalleled when it comes to beauty and marvel.

Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry

Not many people are aware of the beauty of India’s southeastern coast. Starting from Chennai to Tamil Nadu to the charming Mahabalipuram beach, you get a taste of the weather and culture in south India. the food along this entire stretch is simply mouth-watering. And when you reach Pondicherry, you can rest assured as you will be at one of the most relaxing and refreshing destinations of India.

Have interesting travel photos you’d like to share with us? Send photos from your travels to mayank@hippytraveller.com don’t forget to mention where you’ve shot the picture and get a chance to be featured on our website! So what are you waiting for? Hurry!

Bhrigu Lake Trek

A long weekend always comes with some new opportunities. And I always try to make most out of it. An escape from the hubbub of urbanisation, same office schedule, and pollution; is a must if one wishes to see the beauty of nature in all its glory.

Located at an elevation of 14,100 ft above sea level, Bhrigu Lake is one of the offbeat treks in Himalayas. Situated in the scenic beauty of Manali, the trek offers an ultimate experience at such a high altitude. The Himalayan lake is named after the very famous sage in Hindu mythology i.e. Maharishi Bhrigu. He was the author of ‘Bhrigu Samhita’ and also one of the seven great sages also known as Saptarishis.

Old Manali Trail

We boarded the Volvo bus from Vidhan Sabha (Delhi) and after an overnight journey reached Manali in afternoon. Though the journey was very tiring but the scenic beauty of Manali gave us a relief. Beautiful and verdant valleys, breathtaking views of mountains all around and the Beas river flowing down. We checked in at D County Villa, a holiday homestay in Old Manali, situated in utmost tranquility. After getting freshen up, I met my co-travellers at the homestay. Everybody introduced themselves and it was really great to meet some new people.

Old Manali is a quaint little settlement in the Kullu District. There are various famous and less known places in and around Old Manali that one must visit. The holy shrine of Hidimba Devi and Manu Temple are first on the list. Both the temples are ancient and revered by the locals with utmost faith. This beautiful hill retreat of is named after Maharishi Manu itself. A small and easy trek to Jogni waterfall is a good option if you love adventure and going for a high altitude trek. It helps you to acclimatize for your next day’s expedition.

What about spending some leisure time along the banks of pristine Manaslu River? The evenings are the best time to enjoy in Old Manali. We headed towards the famous cafes and restaurants in this quaint hamlet. These cosy cafes serve various cuisines such as Indian, Italian, Chinese, Continental and more. We enjoyed some delicious food with live music in the background and this experience cannot be described in words. The cool breeze was so refreshing with the sound of Manaslu River flowing along. It was far better than sitting in a cafe or a bar at Gurgaon or Hauz Khas. Some of the best cafes in Old Manali are Cafe 1947, Lazy Dog, Drifter’s Cafe, Garman Bakery, and Shesh Besh to name a few.

Later on we returned to our homestay and packed our bags for next day’s trek to Bhrigu lake.

Trek To Bhrigu Lake

We woke up early and did our breakfast. Later we met our trek guide who gave us all the necessary instructions for trekking. As per the itinerary, we headed towards 14 mod near Gulaba in a cab. The route from Manali to Gulaba is adorned with numerous captivating vistas of snow-clad Himalayan peaks, lush green forests and deep valleys.

The sun was shining brightly and we were all geared up for the trek to Bhrigu Lake. Situated near Gulaba, the level of this high altitude trek is moderate but can be done by a beginner also. The trail passes through forests and over green meadows. While trekking we got mesmerized by the enchanting views of Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges. The Solang Valley can also be seen from here. The journey became even more beautiful with like-minded people.

With portable speakers in one hand, playing various soundtracks; we set out on this exciting trail to Bhrigu Lake. Initially, the trail is a steep ascent and then gradual ascent till campsite passing through two freshwater streams.

Camping At Rohla Kholi

In evening we reached our campsite at Rohla Kholi, situated at an altitude of 12,500 ft. Located at 7 kms from Gulaba, the Rohla Kholi camp site offers some of the great vistas of majestic Himalayas. We relished upon a plate of Maggi and hot tea. It was a treat to our stomach in such a cold weather. Nearby there was a stream of freshwater suitable for washing dishes and drinking. As the day came to an end, we went for the bonfire where we were joined by other travellers as well.

After having dinner, I went to the cooks at the campsite and thanked them for the scrumptious meal they cooked for everyone in such a challenging environment. We went back to our camps as we had to wake up early for the Bhrigu Lake trek.

Trek To Bhrigu Lake

We woke up at 5 am and it was so cold. We did our breakfast and quickly left for Bhrigu Lake by 6.30 am. This sacred lake is situated at a distance of 4 kms from Rohla Kholi campsite. There are few places with some steep ascend but it’s easy. We cheered up each other which made the climb possible. The last half of the trail was completely rugged and thus challenging. But thanks to our trek guide who helped us out in completing this amazing trek.

At last we reached Bhrigu Lake, situated an elevation of 14,100 ft above sea level. This oval shaped lake is considered very pious especially by the natives of Kullu. One can see few beautiful lotuses along the lake. The panoramic vistas of mighty Himalayas were treat to the eyes. We took blessings from the holy lake, captured some amazing moments and returned to our campsite at Rohla Kholi.

After relaxing for an hour, we did our lunch and left for Manali with unforgettable moments. Truly, this trek was a complete package of adventure and some great memories with the people I met on this trip. Experience the beauty of nature in utmost tranquility and feel rejuvenated. Thank you Hippy Traveller for giving me moments to cherish for lifetime.

If you are also looking for a perfect getaway, then check out www.hippytraveller.com for exciting & memorable trips.

Contributed by Sahil Singh (Travel Blogger)