It’s not just a quiet beach destination. From the ‘smallest’ to the ‘biggest’ ‘oldest’ to the ‘rarest’, Seychelles adds a lot of superlatives to your travel journal

Think of turquoise water. Put a million corals as underwater


baubles. Sprinkle silver dust as sand on the shore. Imagine quintet. The shadow of a jellyfish tree, one of the rarest trees in the world. A heavy seed as an appetizer. Warning. Do not try cracking this one. The seed of the Coco de Mer, a coconut giant, is the world’s heaviest nut, Bring along Bond. James Bond. For it was here that Ian Fleming wrote for your Eyes Only after a swig of gin and tonic. If Bond is too beefy, get along a dainty, but insolent, Queen. Marie Antoinette shacked here before her death. There’s a moustachioed pirate-and his treasure chest – lending in – trigue. The booty of notorious pirate Oliver Levasseur worth $160,000,000 is still buried in Bel Ombre. So, while you do a quick 160,000,000 mathematics, let me sneak in a quick fact. All this and much more is true about Seychelles, a county comprising 115 coralline islands that are considered one of the oldest on earth. So, shed that clichéd notion of Seychelles merely as a beach destination. There are so many world’s largest, biggest, rarest things in the island that are considered one of the oldest on earth. So, shed that clichéd notion of Seychelles merely as a beach destination. There are so many world’s largest, biggest, rarest things in the island that you’ll probably lose breach counting superlatives.

Lost your breath? Want something for your parched throat? Perhaps coconut water from Coco de Mer, an endemic coconut that takes 6-7 years to mature and its seed weighs about 18 kg (the world’s largest). You sure cannot

Victoria is the world’s smallest capital. You can see it in 25 min

hold in the palm of your hand- the largest recorded Coco de Mer weighed 42 kg! One giant coconut this; its only natural habitat being the Vallee De Mai palm forest in Praslin island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Want to stick a straw and quaff the Coco de Mer water? Lossen purse stings, Please. One Coco de Mer costs roughly 50,000 Indian Rupees, One would rather chew gold than drink off this nut!

This coconut is not the only case of island gigantism. There is the big, fat, brown Aldabra tortoise, Their home: Aldabra island, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And the biggest, fattest amongst them all is Esmeralda (it weighs 304 kg). This big boy faces stiff competition from a 9ft-6-inch human giant that lies buried in Bet Air Cemetery, Seychelles’ first public burial ground. In the deserted cemetery is an elongated graveyard – lagend has it that the nearly 10-feet human giant died at age 14.

It might seem like an oxymoron but all these large, big things live and grow in a small country. Really small country. At the last count, Seychelles has 90,000 inhabitants of which 90 percent live in Mahe, the largest island. Of the 115 islands that string to make the archipelago, only four are inhabited – Mahe, Praslin, La Digue and silhouette.

However, nothing beats the tininess of Victoria, the capital. Walkvictoria-clocktower_400_300 into the world’s smallest capital and before you know where to start sightseeing, it ends. Rather abruptly. You could walk it in 10 minutes and been-there-seen-it-all in another 15, An old church stands like a relic of the colonial age. A Hindu temple shimmers in vibrant colours by the arcade. A cinema resembles a refurbished pigeon-hole. The monotony broken by Victoria market where the air is redolent with the whiff of fresh soursop, cassava, mangoes, vegetables, cinnamon, vanilla and a green leaf that carries the aroma of four spices in one. The crown jewel is the Big Ben. The Little Big Ben, actually. A tiny silver replica of London’s Vauxhall Clock Tower that was erected in the central round-about to mark Seychelles’ new status as the Crown Colony. You might smirk at how little this Big Ben is, but do spare a look for the nearby traffic light. It is only traffic light in Seychelles.

‘Paradise’ is the permanent suffix of this island. I am not sure which gods live in this paradise. Smallest. Largest. Biggest. Rarest. Oldest. These superlatives certainly live in Seychelles.



One of the wealthiest trading ports in Europe in the past , Dubrovnik in Croatia, has come alive again courtesy the cult series Game of Thrones being shot here.

My first, rather hazy,memory of Dubrovnik was from a travel show which showed young boys jumping into sapphire blue waters from what appeared to be the walls of an old castle; but it wasn’t till last year when the name came floating back into memory , courtesy the epic fantasy drama.

The walled city of Dubrovnik once the capital of the wealthy seafaring Republic of Ragusa (1358-1808), ‘plays’ King’s Landing, the capital of Westeros and the seven kingdoms, as imagined by George RR Martin in his series of high fantasy novels, A song of ice and fire in the TV adaptation. For Go T fans, Dubrovnik quickly become an important scenes were shot here, in cluding the mountain and prince oberyn. And along with that came hordes of curious Thronies’.

Dubrovnik as a destination doesn’t need the additional pull that GoT brings with it. with its pristine beaches, the blust water you’ve ever laid your eyes on, stunning sunsets, medieval architecture, fresh-off-the-boat seafood and a UNESCO world Heritage tag to boot Dubrovnik is one of the most visited cities in Croatia.

One of the best preserved walled cities in the world, Dubrovnik has a charm in the that’s as old worldly as they come. With a rich shipping past that rivalled that of Venice-the Adriatic sea Separates Italy and Croatia- Dubrovnik was a city known for its wealth and thalassocracy.

Game of Thrones has given the walled city, known for its red-tiled croatia_2557996krooftops, a new buzz and its economy a fillip. Several GoT-themed walking toures have come up, and can cost up to 240 kuna-the local currency –in the season. Such is the interest in the series’ locations that the tourist board has recently put a Game of Thrones map on its website. The show adds $10 million to Dubrovnik’s tourism revenue and is attracting new visitors. Like me. But what’s most interesting is that it’s an affordable destination. A much weaker currency –one kuna is currently equivalent to Rs. 9.50 as against the euro which is a whopping Rs.72- means you can have European holiday at a discount. Over my eight days in Croatia, I chose to cover Zagreb-that’s where most international carriers are likely to drop you- Spilt , Hvar and finally ended my travels in Dubrovnik. The best way to travel there is on a bus, and you can easily get one from the Split harbour. A stunning drive -that takes you through a nine- Killometre stretch in Bosnisa complete with a border security check- primes you for what awaits you in the walled city.

Most visitors enter the old Town through Pile Gates. The outer gate of Pile Gate , stone bride gate, a stone bridge with a wooden drawbridge built in 1537 is what grets most visitors –the main city tourist information centre, bus and texi stop is right opposite it. 1460 opens into Dubrovnik’s main promenade, or Stradun as it’s called.

It’s easy to see why the production crew thought Dubrovnik could become King’s Landing. Its fortified battlements, great gates, draw-brides, cobbled pathways. baroque buildings and medieval monuments look straight out of the pages of novels.
This historic Croatian city is no stranger to spilt blood. The city has been under attack numerous times, last in 1991, during the Croatian War of 824 building there, almost 70 per centwere struck by shells.
Dubrovnik’s walls sustained 111 direct hits and there were 314 more on its baroque buildings and marble streets.

Enamoured by the Old Town’s medieval charm, I chose to stay within the walled city, with one of the locals. Sadly, today less than 500 locals stay in the historic centre, as most have moved to more comfortable, modern apartments in Lapad.

While staying in the walled city means climbing lots of stairs that can leave even the fittest breathless, it is an experience worth investing in , especially if that means a bedroom with the view of Minceta Tower , the highest point on the two-kilometre city walls. A home cooked Croatian meal of chicken pasta and zucchini seared in olive oil and orange liqueur for dessert was compensation enough for the punishment that my calves suffered.

One of the best things to do in Dubrovnik is to take a walking tour of the wall. The two-hour walk will reward you with Instagram-worthy view-the blue sea on one side and the trademark red-tiled roof of the town on the other. Make sure to do this before the sun gets too strong.

After you, ve got your breath back, treat yourself to a gelato. The Croats love their gelato, just as much as their Italian neighbours.

Eating in Croatia doesn’t require you to wrack your brains as most streets sell burgers, pizzas and hot dogs. But if you’re willing to spend some time, and a little money at a restaurant, then you could treat yourself to some rarely –seen dishes in India like a grilled octopus salad. Or try one of the traditional Balkan pastries like burek (filled with minced meat or cheese) or Krumpirusa (with potato).

Dubrovnik has enough charms up its streets to keep the seeker in you satiated. You can catch a rectital at the St Saviour Church, which withstood the earthquake of 1667 and is today a fine example of the Old Town’s Renaissance architecture. Or quench Onofrio‘s Fountain, one of Dubrovnik ‘s most famous landmarks. Right next to it is the world’s third-oldest monastery. Franciscan Monastery has been in operation for over 700 years and anyone an ailment can still walk in to buy medicine. The Stradun, with its polished-and at times slippery – limestone pathway and the clock tower on one end, is the Vantage point to people watch, especially when the sun sets.

Another must–do on the list is a visit to the peacock-inhabited island of Lokrum. Known for its Botanical Garden and a deserted Benedictine monastery, founded in 1023, Lokrum offers magnificent views of the Adriatic Sea and is a quick boat ride away. Enjoy a quick dip in the Dead Sea a small salt water lake, take a walk among the olive groves and then enjoy a crispy cold beer and pizza at the island’s only restaurant. And a peacock may just decide to give you company.

While 48 hours may be enough to cover all the sights and attractions of Dubrovnik, the walled city hold secrets and treasures that deserve more time.

THE East Coast beckons

shelly_beach coast beckons

The tranquil beaches on the Bay of Bengal are no longer poor cousins of Goa. The thirst travel to lands – and seas – unknown has sent Indian flocking to pristine coasts, untouched yet by commerce

Awise man once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” With proven results of the anecdote from our past experiences, and an unambiguous urge to deal with the modern-day phenomena called quarter life crists, two friends along with your’s truly decided to quit our jobs/take sabbaticals to travel, a few months back. Not the usual type of travel though; but a two-month-long backpacking trip.

Inspired by a backpacker, who had nor too long ago travelled around the coast of Madagascar, we decided to explore the entire coastline of mainland India and experience life on the waterfronts for ourselves – starting from the Bay of Bengal in the east, then descending south along the Eastern Ghats, before meeting the Indian ocean and moving up the Western Ghats along the Arabian Sea. The fact that such a trip had hardly ever been accomplished in the country made it all the more exciting.

On the one hand, we did all of what the glamorous side of travel speaks of – discuss life with people who didn’t speak our native tongues, listen to music not found on the internet and gorge on rustic Indian food. On the other, we also accepted to live through what they don’t often tell you about travel – to be tired and sweaty and dirty without having a place to sleep at night, to get lost and struggle to find our way back, to appreciate the struggles and hardships as much we wanted to admire the beauty of the wilderness.

Given the spontaneous and eccentric nature of the trip, the outcomes too were nothing short of compelling. One of them was the pleasant surprise that the East Coast proved to be. It was a conscious effort to start from this side of the peninsula, since not much had been documented about it as compared to its western counterpart. And it definitely did not disappoint. While a cluster of small islands in the southern parts of West Bengal made for adventurous destinations, the shores of odisha flaunted the vivid colours of daily fisherman life and their sumptuous local meals. Andhra Pradesh’s coast felt like an exciting roller coaster with its undulating terrains and Tamil Nadu’s beaches and historic towns summed up the beauty its terra firma.

Here, we share with you the most interesting destinations from India’s eastern seashores, so that you don’t have to think too much while packing your bags for the coast when you finalise your plans.



Sagar Island or Gangasagar lies on the continental shSherwoodPoint-Daviself of the Bay of Bangal, about 100 km (54 nautical miles) south of Kolkata. A pilgrimage destination for locals, the place has a myriad of mythological stories and exotic varieties of fish meals to offer. The approach includes a ride on an fascinating scooter van from Harwood Point and a unique ferry ride from Kachuberia amid the intersection of the Ganges with the Bay of Bangal.

Best time visit: Gangasagar hosts a colourful festival at the Kapil Muni temple on Mahavir Jayanti, where you can witness vibrant colours at their best.


On the northern coast of Odisha falls a unique beach which rests against the tall magnificence of rising palm trees. The exclusivity of this beach lies in the fact that it is home to Red Ghost Crabs species, which is only found in the Christmas island of Australla elsewhere.


The southern tip of Odisha catches the fancy of bird watchers, with chilika lakethe second largest lagoon in the world and the largest wintering ground for migratory birds in the Indian sub-continent Chilika Lake. Though there are touristy boats and steamers which show you around the popular spots in the lake, a public ferry, which costs hardly 10 per head, manoeuvres through the waters where only locals traverse.

Best time to visit: Spot birds like the sanderling, terek sandpiper, Kentish plover, and black-tailed godwit best waterways.


One of the largest of its kind in India, the Borra Caves in theb-araku-valley northern coastal region of Tamil Nadu come into sight around the Araku Valley at a remarkable 800-1,300m above sea level. The excavation spreads across one square km and is also the origin of the river Gosthani which flows through the district.

Best time to visit: Enjoy the limestone formations dripping and rising as artsy stalagmites and stalactites amid the hilly terrains, beautiful landscapes and the semi-evergreen moist deciduous forests during the monsoon and winter.


A Train journey literally over the sea, followed by an enchanting bus trip along the southern coast of Tamil Nadu, beyond Rameswaram, leads to the ghost town of Dhanushkodi. Though the shutdown of the entire city, after the cyclone of 1964, has isolated it from travel itineraries, the ruins still stand ironically in all their tragic glory.

Best time to visit: A deserted railway platform, post office, church and boulders of a formet city greet you in the white sands during the winter months.





naba kalebara

Soak in the ‘once in a decade’ occurrence of saintly souls donning new avatars at Naba Kalebara, in Puri

It’s that time of the year when Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath, buzzes with activity. Pilgrims from across the world throng to the eastern part of the country to be a part of the world famous Rath Yatra. However, there is something different about this year’s Rath Yatra or Car Festival. Devotees of Lord Jagannath will have the unique opportunity to watch new deities, courtesy Naba Kalebara (the reincarnation) of the Lord, which usually takes place three days before the Rath Yatra, starting on July 18.


An ancient ritual that has been in practice since ages, Naba Kalebara means new body. According to tradition, the wooden statues of the deities – Lord Jagnnath and his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra – are replaced by new idols and their souls transferred. It’s not an annual ritual. It takes place once in 12-18 years, depending on the Hindu almanac.


The preparations for this grandiose ceremony start with the search of neem trees, out of which the idols of the deities are carved out. These are no ordinary neem trees. The darus (neem tree) of three deities have different specifications and features. While the log of the neem tree, to be used for Lord Jagannath, has to be dark in colour (since he has a dark complexion), the other two logs for Lord Balabhadra and Devi Shubadra (who have fair complexion) should be of a wheatish hue. There are other stipulations too. The tree to be used for the idol of Lord Jagannath should have four principal branches symbolizing the arms of Lord Vishnu; there should be no nest of birds in that tree; a water body such as a river or a pond should exist nearby and much more. identifying these trees is anardous task. it is believed that the trees are located only after divine intervention by a goddess Mangala, who appears in the head priest’s dream and revels the locational.


Once the trees are locted, the entire trunks along with the branches are placed in a wooden cart, dragged by the priests to the temple premises and kept in a secret place. The carvings of the deities which are spread over 21 days are done by the three oldest sculptors of the temple, is allowed to visit the spot where the sculptors are at work.

TRANSFERING SOULSRath_Yatra_unique ritual

Following the completion of these idols, the deities are carried inside the inner sanctum of the temple and placed in front of the old idols. This is again a very private affair. The worshippers who conduct this ritual are blindfolded, their palms covered with cloth, so that they even don’t know what they are carrying. This ritual, which is conducted after midnight, usually takes place three days before the Rath Yatra. The whole process of transformation culminates with the burial of the old deities. It is believed that if anybody tries to watch any part of this ceremony, he/she will surely die. It is only after the new deities are seated in the Ratna Singhasan that the gates of the temple are thrown open to the public for the grand darshan.




Home to the families of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, none of its approximately 50,000 residents have ever returned after the devastating explosion on April 26, 1986. Those who have visited this city as tourists, claim that the clock has stopped running in Pripyat. The cars are still parked as they were on that fateful day, the hospital boards still mention the names of the patients, the rides in the park and the discarded shoes at the playground add to the horror. If you plan to tour the city, you’ll have to get a special permit and get scanned for radiation on return.

ALCAPONE’S PRISONalcapone's prison

The American gangster was lodged here for a year in 1929. The inmates in this penitentiary, which started operating in 1829, were confined to solitary, dark and independent cells and not even allowed to interact with others; if the prisoners broke any law, they were severely punished. The 142-year-old history of this facility was marred with numerous cases of murder, suicide and diseases; and its ghost stories are all over the internet. You can take an online tour on the following link and plan a visit.


This crumbling structure is no castle, but a historic weapon depot of war surplus dealer Francis Bannerman VI. After the Scot acquired more than 90 per cent of the American-Spanish war surplus, he moved the ammunition from New York City to a secluded and safer place – Pollepel Island. The work on the Scottish structure started in 1901 but was stopped in 1981, with the sudden death of Bannerman. Everything ended in 1920 when 90 kilos of ammunition exploded and destroyed most of the structure. The castle has been completely abandoned since 1950. Now , historical tours, weddings and get-togethers are organized here.


If you are into wreck diving, try it out at Dun-can Island in the Andamans, where a coal-carrying Japanese ship, Inket, has been lying on the sea bed since World War ll. Though the ship is now a coral reef and home to various forms of aquatic animals, you can still the cargo that it was then carrying, the massive propellers, boilers and engine room, which are still intact. Some say that the 2004 tsunami straightened out the 70 m wreck that was lying on its side.


It used to be the capital of Andaman Island from 1858 to 1941, till an earthquake disbursed its inhabitants. The island, now abandoned, still has clubs, fitness centres, amphitheatres, pools, mail offices, worship places, retail shops, a printing press, hospitals and barracks that were once synonymous with the opulence with which the British led their lives. Fearing a Japanese invasion in 1942, they left. The Japanese did land there and started living in the commissioner’s bungalow. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose stayed here when he visited port Blair in 1943


The now inactive diamond pit is the second largest man-made hole in the world after Bingham Canyon Mine, Utah, US. Closed since 2004, this pit is 525 m deep and has a diameter of 1.2 km. Its construction started in 1957 after Soviet geologists Yuri Khabardin, Ekaterina Elagina and Viktor Avdeenko, in 1957, claimed that there were good chances of discovering diamonds here. The downward airflow of this pit – pulled aircraft that flew over it. Also, the harsh Siberian cold would flatten tyres and freeze the machinery in the mine. The downward air flow into this mine had sucked in a few companies continued to mine here post the fall of the USSR, in the 1990s, curtains were called on the mine in 2004.


manali lleeh You’ve heard the phrase ‘the journey is more important than the destination’. Now hit the road to know what it really means. Whether it’s dramatic coastlines or high-altitude Landscapes, these picturesque stretches are best experienced on the road



With spectacular views of snow-clad Himalayas, glaciers, streams and high-altitude plains, this winding 490-km-long highway epitomizes adventure at every step. It’s covered in snow for most of the year, and only opens during the summer months, between June and October. Keep your camera ready for some hairpin bends as well! The two-day drive will take you through five mountain passes, including favourites like Rohtang La and Taglang La, the highest point in the journey.

YAMUNA EXPRSSWAYyamuna expreesway

If you’re looking for a high-speed blitz, there’s no better stretch than the 165-Km Yamuna Expressway. A ride on India’s longest six-lane highway will take you from Greater Noida in the National Capital Region to tourist mecca Agra, in just over two hours. There are open spaces, green fields, and sundry villages on either side, but the countryside is little more than a backdrop to the smooth tarmac in front. With a speed limit of 100km per hour, the only interruptions on the straight-as-an-arrow road are the five toll plazas.

EAST COAST ROADeast coast road

Lined with rice fields, swaying coconut palms, fishing villages and glimpses of the Bay of Bengal, this stats highway in Tamil Nadu runs along the Bay of Bengal, connecting Chennal with Cuddalore. Starting with the quaint Cholamandal Artists’ Village, the Kalakshetra music and dance school and Dakshinachitra crafts centre on the outskirts of Chennai, it has enough to delight both nature lovers and culture vultures. Travel back in time at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mamallapuram, soak in Puducherry’s unique French ambience, stroll on the pristine beaches of Tharangambadi, or go boating through Pichavaram’s mangrove forests and backwaters.

MUMBAI- GOA HIGHWAYmumbai goa highway

The journey to everyone’s favourite beach getaway is both smoth and picturesque, though at 600 km, it can get a bit tiring. NH17 runs from Mumbai to Thiruvanan-thapuram, winding its way through the Western Ghats and caressing the Konkan coastline. On the way, there are numerous attractions: On the way, there are trekking at the Karnala Bird Sanctuary, panoramas of Vashishti River meandering through the Western Ghats, and the pristine beaches of Ganpatipule, Diveagar and Tarkarli. The surrounding cloud-kissed hills are at their greenest during the monsoon. The steep turns only add to the thrill.


ATLANTIC ROAD, NORWAYthe-atlantic-highway

This 8-km long zigzag road on the Norwegian coastline passes through seven bridges, connecting the i s l a n d s between the towns of Kristiansund and Molde. The most famous of t h e s e S t o r s e I s u n d e t Bridge, is known for its thrilling turn that gives incoming visitors the illusion of the road ending in mid-at The ride comes with breathtaking views of the Westfjords, and the surprising glimpses of seals, whales and exotic birds along the way are an added attraction. Daredevils head here during autumn to experience the spectacular storms, but the seaside is equally in calmer weather, thanks to its numerous fishing spots.

INTEROCEANIC HIGHWAY PERU-BRAZILInteroceanic-Highway-peru brazil

Completed in 2011, this 2,600-k m – l o n g transcontinental highway links the south American countries of Peru and Brazil, and passes through several dramatically contrasting landscapes. It runs along the Peruvian coast, through remote stretches of the Andes and dense Amazonian rainforests. Stop at the lncan and Spanish colonial capital of Cusco for a slice of history- from here, you can take a diversion to the famous ruins of Machu Picchu.

THE AMALFI COAST, ITALYamalfi coast italy

The Amalfi coast in Southern Italy’s Sorrento Peninsula is home to one of the most legenday drives in the world. It is, in UNESCO’s words, ”An outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape.” Expect stunning sights all along its 50-km sweep, with cliffs, towns and historic terraced villages on one side and mesmerising vistas of the Mediterranean Sea on the other. Stop en route to a d m i r e Positano’s stack of pastel houses, Amalfi’s grand cathedral and town square and Ravello’s hilltop gardens. Don’t forget to taste the local citrus liqueur, limoncello, at the lemon groves in between.


athirapally kerala

How about living like a bird in a ‘nest’ made out of bamboo and wood? Get close to nature by living in these serene tree houses in India.

Imagine resting in a resort perched amidst tree branches, waking up to the chirping of birds and walking into the lush forests as you step out of your room. If the whole idea of planning a travel is to escape your routine and have a change of landscape, there’s really nothing quite like spending a weekend in a tree house. And you don’t even have to venture too far into the forested hinterland to find one.



An hour’s drive away from the Cochin International Airport, Rainforest Boutique Resort-lies within the verdant environs of the Sholayar forest near the popular Athirapally Falls in Kerala. The resort of-fers a range of lodgings- luxury rooms, premium rooms, celestial rooms, drongo and hornbill suites among others- but the highlight by far is the tree house. The tree house accommodates two adults easily and offers residents spectacular views of the thundering Athirapally waterfall and the surrounding forest. Guests can dine at the in-house restaurant, which serves some unusual local dishes, as well as standard continental fare.

2 TREE HOUDE HIDEAWAY,Bandhavgarh-tiger


The resort houses five tree houses that offer spectacular views of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve and the Bandhavgarh fort in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. Hand-built entirely by the resort’s local staff, all the tree houses are built of wood, and include spacious bedrooms and a living area. The resort overlooks a watering hole, which is frequented by birds and animals, Overall, it is an ideal experience of living in the wild.

3 VANYA TREE HOUSE,tamil nadu tree house


The three-hour windy road journey from the Cochin International Airport to Thekkady, along the Periyar River, offers spectacular views of the hills of Idukki. Guests heading to Vanya Tree House need to trudge the final 700 metres on foot, Located at an altitude of 3,000 feet, it lies in splendid isolation with magnificent views of the surrounding hills.

4 TREE HOUSE COTTAGES,manali trees


Surrounded by apple, walnut and plum orchards, Tree House Cottages in Manali are ideal for a quick getaway from Chandigarh, or even Delhi. Whether you choose the tree house or a Swiss tent, you can enjoy the cosy lodgings and types can choose to go paragliding, zorbing and mountain biking, all within a few kilometres of the resort.

5 THE TREE HOUSE RESORT, Tree-House-jaipur


An hour’s drive from Jaipur, the Tree House Resort offers deluxe nests, luxury nests and private suites, all equipped with modern amenities like air conditioners, wi-fi connectivity, and inexplicably even a television. Guests have a lot to do in their free time- they can opt for a jungle safari, bird-watching tour and a lot more. Those who don’t want to stray too far from the resort can play badminton, volleyball, tennis, billiards, try their hand at archery or just lounger in the pool. The multi-cuisine Tree House Restaurant serves food made out of organic produce grown locally while the Peacock Bar is where you’ll find guests tipping sundowners every evening! You’ll also find a Nature Shop that paintings and handicraft.


cool cat 1

A Week spent seeking the Himalayan phantom in the harsh wilderness of Ladakh, adventurer and explorer Ajeet Bajaj recounts the Times Passion Trails Winter Trek

Snow fell in thick flurries as we watched spellbound, nature’s grand


spectacle unfold right in front of us. Sitting on a high ridge in the Tarbung valley, Ladakh, the smooth brown rolling hills, reminiscent of moonscape, slowly turned stark white. We scanned the mountainside intensely through our binoculars and spotting scopes, looking for the Himalayan Blue Sheep (Bharal) and the main prey of snow leopard. It was like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack – surely the elusive snow leopard, ‘the phantom of the Himalaya’, had seen us. “This is  a natural high,” remarked Roopika Saran, one of our team members, “definitely a high point of my existence.”

As the ‘Experience Architect’ for The Times Passion Trails Winter Trek To Ladakh (Feb 14-22, 2015), in search of the snow leopard, I was overwhelmed with the tremendous response. Selecting 13 passionate adventurers out of 1,400 applicants, on an expedition to an extreme environment, with temperatures plummeting to as low as -25 degrees Celsius, turned out to be a humongous job.

Ladakh is a mountain desert and its stark barrenneShanti_Stupass is hauntingly beautiful. On landing in Leh, adventurers suffer not only from the effects of high altitude but also willingly suffer from SOS-‘scenic overdose syndrome’. After spending three nights acclimatizing to the altitude and cold in Leh, we headed up to the Rumbak Valley in the Hemis National Park.  No mention of Ladakh  can be made without saluting the brave sentinels of our borders- the Indian Armed Forces. It is one thing to spend a few days in Ladakh on an adventure trip and quite another to spend years in such harsh conditions, being eternally vigilant. While in Leh, we were fortunate to have spent a delightful afternoon with Ladakh Scouts. Meeting Siachen and Kargil war heroes was the icing on the cake.

The rewarding aspect of this trip other than trekking in the Ladakhtarbung valley wilderness, was undoubtedly an opportunity to see some rare species such as the red fox, golden eagle, Lammergeier (bearded vulture) and many other kinds of birds. We camped at a picturesque spot called Husing and since our treks depended upon the movement and signs and symptoms of this great elusive cat, we followed the principal of Nitwit travel, ‘no itinerary travel, wing it tours’. We learnt techniques to maximise the chances of spotting a snow leopard and made excursions to Tarbung and Khardung Valleys to study the natural habitat of the cat. As a team, we decided to ‘tread lightly’ and follow the tenets of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria and a strict ‘leave to trace’ policy.

One of the highlights was the homestay in Rumbak, giving us an opportunity to get a glimpse of the lives of people in harsh conditions at one of the most remote comers of our country. Given the warmth, hospitality and cheerful demeanour of our Ladakhi hosts, we all wished that we had budgeted for more time in this Shangrila-like village. While at Rumbak we did a delightful hike towards Ganda Lapass (4,370 metres) to look for the Tibetan Argali, the largest wild sheep in the world.

As Chander Lall, a senior intellectual property lawyer from Delhi remarked. “People spend a lifetime searching for the snow leopard. There can be no instant gratification out to be a journey of self-discovery in the cold, harsh, barren winter wilderness of Ladakh. We returned as close snow leopard’ and a strong commitment to preserve our high altitude natural heritage.

-from Sunday Times, dated on May, 03, 2015



Nature at its Benevolent Best


Mussoorie is known as the queen of hill stations. In 1820 Captain Young of the British army was influenced by the beauty of this place and made this place his residence. This marked the foundation of a hill station aptly called Mussoorie. The name, Mussoorie is derived from plants of ‘Mussoorie’ which were found in abundance here. When the plains of north India experience heat waves, Mussoorie provides a welcome break, overlooking picturesque Doon valley. From Dehradun one can hire a taxi or take a bus to Mussoorie.

7 kms. from Dehradun on the Dehradun. Delhi route is the famous temple of Chandrabani (Gautam Kund). According to the myth, this spot was inhabited by Mahirishi Gautam, his wife and daughter Anjani who is widely worshiped by the people. It is believed that the daughter of Ganga had manifested herself on this spot which is now popularly known as the Gautam Kund. Every year devotees, in large numbers, take a dip in this holy kund, 2 kms. away from the main road. Located amidst the Shivalik hills, the place is a major tourist spot.

45  kms. from Dehradun, Dakpathar is a beautiful tourist sport in the western Doon Valley, amidst the Shivalik range The place is connected by a regular bus service. Accommodation is available in a Tourist Rest House of GMVN with swimming pool facilities.

Rajaji National Parkrajaji national-2
Rajaji National Park is spread over an area of 820 sq. kms., the park with it’s magnificent ecosystem, is nestled in the lush valley of Shivalik ranges. It represents the flora of several zones of the forest, reverine, broad leaf mixed forest, chirpine forest, scrub land and grassy pasture lands. There are 23 species of mammals and 315 of avi-fauna here. Named after Late Shri C.Rajgoplalachari, popularly known as Rajaji. Best Tourist season is between November to mid June.

Tibetan Temple
Situated on Rajpur Road adjacent to the Sai Darbar is the Tibetan Temple a temple devoted to Lord Buddha with all it’s rich Tibetan traditions, culture and ambience.

Kalanga Monument
Located on the right  of the Dehradun. Sahastradhara route, the Kalanga monument recalls the story of the bravery of a 180 year old battle between the British and the Gorkhas. Perched on the hill, 1000 ft over the bank of river Rispana, the monument represents the history of the rulers of Garhwal.

Indian Military Academy
Indian Military Academy was established in 1932. It is Situated 8 kms. On Dehradun-Chakrata road and 3 kms. Beyond F.R.I., Dehradun. It is a premier training institute for the Indian Army Officers. The academy has places of tourist interest that includes the Museum, Library, war Memorial, Arms and ammunition, Shooting demonstration room, FRIMS Golf Course (18 holes) etc.

Wadia Institute of Himalyan Geology
The Wadia Institute of Himalyan Geology is an autonomous research Institute of the Department of science & Technology, Government of India. The Institue was shifted to Dehradun from Delhi in 1976. It is named after the late prof. D.N.Wadia (founder of uphill from the Clock Tower. The institute carries out research in Himalayan Geology and related fields.

Tapkeshwar Templetapkeshwar mandir
Tapkeshwar Shiv Temple is an ancient place of worship. The temple is situated on the banks of a rivulet in Garhi Cantt area. It is 5.5 kms. from the city bus stand and is well connected by road. It is named Tapkeshwar as water droplets, originating from a rock, fall on the Shivling placed in the shrine. People in large numbers participate in the fair organized on the occasion of Shivratri. The whole mela spot wear a glory look.

Robber’s Cave (Guchhupani)
An ideal place for picnic, Robber’s Cave is 8 kms. from the city in Garhi Cantt area. The last one kilometer is to be trekked to reach this beautiful cave formed by a natural rift in a mountain. Through this flows a very stream of water. The darkness of the cave combined with the sound of the fast flowing stream gushing past the feet gives it an unforgettable touch.

Situated near Raipur/Sahastradhara crossing Tapovan is famous for its beautiful surroundings and its auspicious nature relating to Hindu mythology. It is a common sight even today, to find hermits doing all sorts of penance to appease the Gods in Tapovan. Its location is approx 5 kms. from Dehradun. Lagend has it that Guru Dronacharya had done penance in the area.

The Educational Centre
Dehradhun is well known for its quality education standard and these high standards are due to the presence of century Old Catholic and Protestant convent schools. It is a home to over 300 high schools including the famous Doon School, which is considered to be the best public school in India. Some of the other peopular schools are:

Army School (located in Indian Military Academy

  • Brightlands School
  • Brooklyn School
  • Cambrian Hall
  • Colonel Brown Cambridge School
  • Convent of Jesus and Mary High School
  • Marshalls School
  • Raja Rammohan Roy Academy
  • (now known as Cambridge School)
  • Riverdale High School
  • St. Mary’s Convent School
  • Shri Guru Ram Rai Public School
  • St. Joseph’s Academy
  • welham boys’ School
  • Welham Girls’High School
  • The Army Public School
  • Neshville Day School
  • Asian School
  • Various Kendriya Vidhyalayas

Dehradun Basics
230 km. from Delhi, Dehradun is set amidst a valleyin the Shivaliks, The foothills of the Himalayas at an altitude of 2,200 feet above sea level. Dehradun has a population of 447,808. Males  constitute 53% of the population and females 47% Dehradun has an average literacy rate of 77%.The city has cold winters season, mild hot summer, rainy monsoon season and a balmy spring season. The winter ranges from November to February in which the months of  December and January are the coldest due to winter rains, coinciding with snow-fall in the nearby mountains ranges. While the spring from March to April are very pleasant,Summer lasts from April-May to July followed by good monsoon months till September. You can enjoy the magic of all seasons in Dehradun.

As the capital of the new State Uttarakhand   (earlier known as Uttaranchal) Dehradun is bustling, energetic and line city, with a fair share of young energy poured into it. The famous Clock-Tower (Ghanta-ghar) is the center of activities, and a popular landmark of the city from where one can venture in famous pattern. A tall structure with 6 clodks; many efforts in the last years to revive the clocks have unsuccessful. The numerous high schools of the city attract the brightest of the best students from all over the country. During the day it is common to see students (dressed in various high-school uniforms) to be moving around the city. It’s a major hub of cultural activities round the year. The city has witnessed tremendous growth blocks, shopping centres and cultural institutions after the formation of Uttarakhand State. It is always a favourite destination for the retired army personnel. For the younger people, the popular downtown destinations include Astley Hall, Rajpur Road, Capri Trade Centre, Connaught place

Dehradun, is the capital city of the Uttarakhand State (earlier known as Uttaranchal) of India, and the headquarters of Dehradun District. Located in the Doon valley, 230 kilometers north of Delhi, it is surrounded by the Himalaya in the north, Shivalik Hills in the south, the river Ganga in the east, and the river Yamuna in the west. The water divide of Ganga and Yamuna passes through the city. It is also located on the northem side of the fertile Gangetic plains of India. Before the creation of Uttarakhand on November 9, 2000, Dehradun was a part of Uttar Pradesh. In Hindi, Dehra is termed a camp. According to popular belief, the military camp located here, most possibly during Anglo-Gurkha war oritginated the name Dehra Dun. Some believe that the “Dehra” is referred to Ram Rai (Son of Guru Har Raj, the seventh Guru of the Sikhs.) He founded a Gurudwara here in the olden times. The earliest tangible evidence of the history of Dehradun dates back to 300 BC, as indicated by a rock inscription at Kalsi, discovered in 1860.

This inscription located at the northem outskirts of the city are kattributed to King Ashoka. In the inscription, there are 14 edicts carved on a rock and adjacent to these is the site where Raja Shilvarman of the Vrisheri dynasty made three horse sacrifices during his rule in the 3rd century BC. It is also believed that in Vedic times, the Garhwal Mandal, of which Dehradun is a part, was known as the Kedar Khand. Legend has it that Guru Dronacharaya, the royal teacher of the Kauravas and Pandavas in Mahabharat set up his known as Dehradun. Therefore It is also referred to as Dronpuri in history. According to the Ramayana. Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana under took apenance in Dehradun for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.  The next prominent rulers of the valley were the Katyuris of Garhwal. Next, this stronghold of the Katyuri dynasty, passed into the hands of the Sikhs and Mughals subsequently and later, the Gorkhas of Nepal ruled here for a long time. In April 1815 Gorkhas were ousted from Garhwal region and Garhwal was annexed by the British during British rule, Dehradun used to be the summer base for the Viceroy’s bodyguards. The British also established the Forest Research Institute in 1906, the R.I.M.C (Royal Indian Military College, now Rashtriya Indian Military College in 1922) as well as the Indian Military Academy (in 1932). In due course of time Dehradun became a prominent centre for education and developed as a military cantonment and settlement.


Sahastra Dhara, laterally means, the ‘thousand springs’ is at a distance of 11 kms from Dehra Dun. The place is a picturesque picnic spot. The Baldi River and the caves provide a breath-taking view. The water here has a fall of about 9 meters and leaves an incrustation of lime on all its touches. Particles thus accumulating over the centuries have  formed a projecting ledge, and a sort of cave, from the roof of which falls a perpetual shower, There is also a sulphur spring known for its medicinal value, in which visitors often take bath. It is believed that, the water can cure skin infections and possesses other medicinal properties.

Malsi Deer Park
10  kms. From Dehradun,enroute to Mussoorie is situated a beautifully developed tourist sport lying at the foothills of the Shivalik range. Malsi Deer Park is a mini-zoological park comprising children’s park enveloped by beautiful land, natural surroundings. This is also an ideal picnic spot for tourists.Lacchiwala

Lachhiwala is 22 kms. Off Dehradun while approaching from Haridwar-Rishikesh. An extension of the Rajaji National Park, It is a serene and blissful spot among tall Deodar forests with water springs running all year round.

Bhagirathi Resorts
18  kms. Away from the city along Chakrata Road, Bhagirathi resorts is situated in Selaqui village. From here one can experience a clear view of the majestic Himalyan ranges. The resort lures tourists with its swimming pool, water slides, fountains and other fun, floric & recreational activities.

Santala Devi Temple
The famous temple of Santala Devi is about 15 kms. away from Dehradun.  A 2 kms. Trek  takes you to this temple. The temple stands as a symbol of the faith and fervor among devotees people and it has a great cultural and religious singnificance. Santala Devi, alongwith her brother, on realizing that they would not be able to face the mighty Mughal  Army. Abandoned their weapons and started offering pray. A light flickered and within moments they both were transformed into stone images. It is within the fort that the shrine was built and Saturdays marks the transformation of the Goddess into stone.

Asan Barrage water sports Resortdhalipur lake
A famous water sports resort has been developed at the Asan Barrage by Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam in the year 1994. Asan Barrage was created in 1967 and it is popularly known as Dhalipur Lake. Situated 43 kms. From Dehradun on Chandigarh-Shimla highway, the resort offers facilities like water skiing, boating, rowing, kayaking, canoeing etc. During the winter season you can also see a fleet of migratory birds here.

The Zoological Survey of India
Fourded in 1916, the Zoological Survey of India, 5 kms. away on Kaulagarh road, a wing of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, is a premier National Institute exploring the faunal diversity of the country. It undertakes surveys in all the biogeographic zones to collect, identify, collate and inventories faunal diversity of our country. The museum of this institute has a variety of Himalayan faunal diversity.

Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP)
Indian Institute of Petroleum is situated at Mohkampur, Dehradun. Its major activities involves developing processes and products for petroleum refining and petrochemical industries, to provide technical services, to carry out R&D work, training of personnels in oil and petrochemical industries, assisting in formulation of standards for petroleum products for the country.

Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC)
Founded in 1956, ONGC is the premier exploration and production company in India and accounts for 90% of the exploration effort, established reserves and production of oil and gas in the country. ONGC is a powerful organization with financial, technical and infrastructural strength to match any large oil company in the world.

Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC)
The Rashtriya Indian Millitary College (RIMC) was established in 1922. The College is spread over an area of 138 acres in Dehradun Cantonment area. The College is administered by the Union Ministry of Defence Army Headquartered at New Delhi. The primary purpose envisaged for the college is to find out suitable candidates and train them for National Defence Academy.

Survey of India
It’s the National Survey and Mapping Organization of the country. The Oldest scientific department of the Government of India. It was set up in 1767. The Survey of India acts as adviser to the Government of India on all survey matters, viz Geodesy, Photogrammetry, and Mapping & Map Reproduction.

Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)
The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. The Council is the apex body in the national forestry research system to develop holistic forestry research through planning, promoting, conducting and coordinating research, education and extension on all aspects of forestry for ensuring  scientific management of forest, tree improvement, forestry productivity through scientific and biotechnological research, bioremediation of degraded land, efficient utilization of forest produce, forest based value addition, conservation of biodiversity, effective agro-forestry models for various agro-ecological zones, policy research, environmental impact assessment and integrated pest management and disease.


Limit deforestation, make no open fires and discourage others from doing so. Choose accommodation that uses kerosene or fuel efficient wood stoves. Use of fire wood should be minimized. Carry away all non-degradable litter and burn or bury paper before leaving any spot. Extinguish any burning cigarette butts and dispose off glass bottles properly, they should not be left lying in the open but should be covered or buried. Avoid using polythene, if you do, do not throw it away, but collect it separate. Take permission before taking photographs and respect privacy.  Observes the rules and regulations while visiting holy sites. Propagate and pursue conservation in cooperation with fellow tourist, guides and porters.


Avoid using pollutants such as detergents, in streams or springs. Abstain from graffiti and contribute in keeping environment clean. Allow the flora to flourish in its natural environment. Taking away plant, cuttings seeds and roots is illegal in many parts of the Himalayas. Nestled in the gorgeous mountain ranges of the Himalayas, Dehradun is one of the oldest and fast emerging modern city of India. Also known as the “abode of Guru Dron”, Dehradun has always been an important center of Garhwal rulers which was subsequently conquered by the British. The headquarters of many National Institutes of repute like ONGC, Survey of India, Dehradun also has a string of premier educational institutes like the Forest Research Institute (FRI), Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), and the Indian Military Academy (IMA) besides a host of prestigious public schools. For years, Dehradun has been one of  the best known educational centres in the whole Northern India. With Illustrious history, Royal, salubrious nature, hospitable people, cultural abundance it is the entry point to some beautiful hill stations, pilgrimage sites and to the upper Himalayas. The city is most favoured tourist destination of India.


  • PWD inspection House (Rajpur Road)
  • Circuit House (New Cantt. Road, Reservation-DM)
  • Railway  Rest Houses (Railway Station, Reservation-Station Supdt.)
  • FRI Inspection House (FRI, Reservation Incharge Rest House)
  • Survey of India (Hathi Barkala, Reservation-Asst. Surveyor)
  • ONGC Guest House (Tail Bhawan, Reservation-GM Admn)
  • YMCA (Rajpur Road, Reservation-President YMCA)
  • MES Guest House (Cantt, Reservation-Garrison Engineer)




A Himalayan Hideaway

Chaukori a dream, surrounded by the towering Himalayan peaks and dense forests. At a height of 2,010 mtrs, above the sea level and 173 km away from Nainital, Chaukori is not just another hill station, but it’s for the very few, who want to be there, in the majestic proximity of the Himalayas for an unbound view of tpanchkuli peakshe Nanda Devi and Panchchauli peaks. Chaykori is one of the few places in Kumaon, where you will find tea gardens. As the name suggests, it’s like a bowl, cupped within the Himalayan heartland. It is an idyllic holiday resort amidst unspoilt nature, a land bestowed with natural abundance, fruit orchards, and the jungles of pines, oaks and Rhododendrons. One of the most magnificent aspects of holidaying in Chaukori is the fabulous sunrise and sunset that you treated to. The night sky is studded with a million stars that simply take your breath away. The charming little town of Chaukori is unlike any other hill station you have seen. Chaukori is a somnolent, peaceful hamlet in pithoragarh district of the Kumaon Hills of Uttarakhand.

What to see

Chaukori is the vantage point to the Himalayas. Due to its small population (just 300), high altitude and the magnificent location, it’s one of the most ideal spot for the travellers who seek an ideal hideway, far from the maddening city life. One can look at the awe-inspiring distant peaks, walk in to the forests and orchards and relax.

Beyond Chaukori

Patal Bhuvaneshwar: It is situated 38 kms from Chaukori, at a height of 1,350 mtrs, on the road to Gangolihat. The temple here is within a cave. It’s believed to be the abode of 33 crore Gods.

Berinag: It is at the distance of 10 kms from Chaukori. Tea gardens here yield high quality tea. This place also offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas.

Gangolihat: 14 kms from Patal Bhubaneshwar. Gangolihat is rich in folk culture, music and religious traditions, and had been chosen by Shankaracharya for the installation of Mahakali Shaktipeeth.


Girja Hotel, Gangolihat

Shah Hotel, Gangolihat.

W.D.Inspection House

Forest Rest House

How to Reach

Air: The nearest airport is Naini Saini at Pithoragarh (91 kms). No regular flights are available at present.

Rail: The nearest Railhead is Kathgodam, 198 kms.

Road: Chaukori is connected through metalled hill roads with all the major towns in the area. It is 480 km from Delhi and 173 km from Nainital. The most convenient way to get here is to drive from Delhi, via Haldwani – Almora.

Where to stay

  • KMVN Tourist Rest House
  • Him Darshan Hotel
  • Hills View
  • Hotel Panch Chuli
  • Angan Resort
  • Jhaltola Estate
  • Uttarayan Rest House      

There are many private hotels at Berinag barely 10 kms from Chaukori.