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Kiran Rathi


Trek to Kudremukh, A tale of rains and leeches

Mesmerizing hills and verdant valleys

I have vacations, I can go anywhere, I can do anything. Yet, the travel bug in me decides to travel 1170kms to Bangalore, for a trek, to a place experiencing the highest rainfall in the Western Ghats. Rolling green hills laid out in a mosaic of sprawling grasslands, cloud kissed mountains, forest trails, bamboo shrubs, and a dozen waterfalls, all of these tricked me to leave the comfort of my home and embark on a monsoon trek to Kudremukh, the Himalayas of the South.


Coming under the Chikmagalur District of Karnataka, Kudremukh is the third highest peak after Mullayanagiri and Bababudangiri with a height of 1894m from the mean sea level. Literally meaning ‘horse-face‘ in Kannada, Kudremukh Peak boasts some of the most beautiful views of Western Ghats. The trek to Kudremukh Peak is one of the longest treks of Karnataka with a distance of around 10 km one-way.

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It all started on a Friday night, when the three of us, me, my sister who had come from Chennai and our friend in Bangalore, boarded a bus arranged by a trekking company, with a bunch of odd people. We got the absolute last seats of the bus. When we reached our destination in the morning, our tailbones were acquainted with all the potholes and speed breakers on the way.

At the base village, we boarded a jeep. Somehow surviving the bone-rattling ride, we reached at our homestay in Mullodi, where we freshened up and had our breakfast. We were handed a packet of tamarind rice, which was to be our lunch. By the time our trek guide briefed us, dark clouds had begun to cover the sky. It looked like a storm was heading our way.

Rolling green hills kissing the clouds


How to become a tourist guide in India

After having walked about half a kilometer, we reached the check post of Kudremukh National Park, which is the entry point to the mountain ranges. After walking an initial heavily stony muddy trail, I realized this trek was not going to be an easy feat as the rains had made the path quite slippery.

An important topic of discussion among us was our soon-to-be-companion, Leeches! Everyone shared their own theories and experiences of their encounters with these blood-sucking creatures. All of this discussion did little to lessen our anxiety about the slimy, icky looking slugs. Whilst walking our eyes were continuously glued to the ground, fearing that even a minute of distraction might make us a delicious lunch for the leeches lurking around.

The green carpets of grasslands soon gave way to stretches of evergreen Shola forests, so dense that even the sun rays could hardly penetrate. We crossed our first river here. But none of us dared to hang around to admire the sheer beauty of the variety of trees, whistling birds, rustling leaves and crackling twigs, so as to avoid the creepy creatures from catching up on us. But there was no escape from them! Now and then, we flicked the leeches off each other’s bodies, meanwhile hoping that one of them has not found its way into our socks or onto the back of our neck.

By now, what was drizzle in the morning had converted into a heavy downpour. To shield from the rains, everyone had put on their ponchos and rain gears. And as it so happened that my sister and I, instead of packing ponchos or rain jacket, had packed our school time raincoats with us! Yes, the one with transparent material, floral print, and a funny cap on top! Embarrassed, we tried to avoid putting them on as long as possible, but later when we could no further bear the rains, we, too, geared up in our raincoats and started walking towards our destination.

However, one good thing that happened was, somehow the number of leeches that managed to find a way to our bodies was way lesser than our fellow trek mates who were wearing ponchos and rain jackets! We blessed ourselves for those funny looking raincoats of ours!

Our expectations of clicking spectacular pictures of our trek to Kudremukh and uploading them on social media went down the drain, as the rains had no intention of stopping. Hardly anyone paused to take in the view of the majestic mountains, we had read and googled so much about, as all we had in front of us was a thick fog of grey. Besides, the incessant rains, the constant lookout for leeches, gusting winds, shivering hands, and our runny noses made it very difficult for us to concentrate on anything else other than our air-short lungs!

Thick blanket of fog covered the view ahead of us

In the middle somewhere, we stopped to have our lunch. We opened our rice packets and started eating with our cold, moist hands. We gobbled our food because the rain and wind gushing around us, coupled with the fear that a leech might crawl onto our torso, made us forget all our table manners!

Somewhere between asking for “Aur kitna durr hai?” and Huffing and puffing for air, the three of us managed to reach the top of the peak! We had long back given up the hopes to have mesmerizing views of green velvety mountains. So when at the top, a vacuum of white greeted us, we were not disappointed.

At the top, the winds blew even more strongly, threatening to carry us off the peak. We sat down there for a while and gave our crying feet, knees, and lungs a break. On our way down, the modest shelter of our raincoats did little to provide us any respite from the relentless rains and the strong winds.


The way down was even worse because the terrain had become extremely slippery and slushy. Even after being extra cautious, we slipped a few times. Everybody was helping and looking out for each other. The rains lashed harder and did not stop until we successfully completed the 22kms trek and were back at the homestay.

After reaching the room, we removed our drenched, mud-covered clothes and tended to the leech punctures. Some people had it easy, while for others, the blood kept oozing for a couple of hours. We decided it unanimously to cancel the next day’s plan of visiting the coffee plantations and directly head back home, the first thing in the morning. The next day in Bangalore, we tended to our sore bodies and attempted to feel human again.

This entire Kudremukh trek was an experience of a different kind! The feeling of having survived the blood-sucking leeches, lashes of rain and winds and having trekked 22kms were enough for us to proclaim ourselves superhuman!


For all the monsoon trekking enthusiasts, if the idea of all the miseries we went through appeals to you, then head to Kudremukh between June and August.

But for others, Kudremukh trek from October to February promises “visible” picturesque views of the rolling hills and verdant valleys, a little easier climb and of course, leech less paths!


Beach Bliss

Situated on the west coast of Southern Thailand, Krabi is an extremely beautiful beach, diving, island hopping, and rock climbing tourism destination. 
If you love white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and are into outdoor sports activities, this is the perfect holiday spot for you!

Blue-green seas


The beach town of Ao Nang is a good place to stay while exploring the province of Krabi. The place has plenty of accommodation options from backpackers hostels to luxury hotels that are all walking distance to Ao Nang beach. It also offers a plethora of options for dining, including seafood and international cuisine. 

Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach provide limited hotel options but remember that these beaches are only accessible by boat, which will limit your options for finding food at night but gives you first access to the beach in the morning.


You can get a flight from Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi to Bangkok in Thailand, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. From those airports, there are connecting direct flights to the Krabi International Airport (airport code: KBV) that is located 30 minutes from the beach town of Ao Nang whereas, from Phuket airport, Ao Nang is a 2-hour drive.

From the airport, take a pre-arranged transport or hop on the shared taxi known as “songthaew” to your Ao Nang hotel. Thai Airways runs a shuttle bus for only USD 3, though if they are fully booked or if you prefer more comfort, you can get a taxi into town for only USD 16.


Renting a motorbike is an ideal and inexpensive method of transportation. It allows you the freedom to explore the local attractions when and where you wish. Your hotel can help you with giving contacts regarding the same.

To visit local towns and neighboring tourist attractions, you can hop on “songthaew”. They are very cheap and pick up from almost anywhere in the Krabi area and along the beaches served by road.

If traveling by sea, rent a long tail boat that serves as water taxis. They generally run from 07:30 hrs to 17:30 hrs every day. For longer sea journeys you can use the local ferries that run to and from all major locations.

You can use the app GRAB to book cabs.

Traditional Thai long-tail boat


Krabi is a world of postcard-perfect islands, lively little beach towns, and jagged limestone cliffs covered in unspoiled rainforest. Ahead, seven Krabi experiences that are absolutely essential.


With more than 200 islands in this part of Thailand, travelers are spoilt for choices here. Most are little more than spindly rock towers shooting out of the Andaman Sea, but some are jungle-clad idylls with emerald lagoons and gorgeous beaches. 

The most popular way to see the islands is by signing up for the 7 Island tour, Phi Phi Island tour and the 4 Island tour, which are usually made available by the hotels and resort. You can also rent a private boat.


Night Market Scenes

On Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights, Krabi Town‘s night market comes alive with street-food stalls, souvenir sellers, and live performers. You can get everything from handmade jewelry to tie-dye garments, pad Thai to fried crickets, and coconut ice cream to cocktails. To jazz up the atmosphere, singers, saxophonists, guitarists, and dancers are performing on stages and in the streets. 


Kayak Tours

The best way to explore the Krabi coast’s mangrove swamps and sea caves is by kayaking and paddle-boarding. Krabi also offers numerous fantastic diving and snorkeling spots with stunning coral reefs and rich sea life for those keen to engage in water activities.

Spectacular roads and views for cycling

Far from limiting yourself to the water, why not go for Hiking and cycling? Head into the rainforests to discover waterfalls, thermal springs, and caves. Phanom Bencha National Park is a great hiking location.


Rock climbing for beginners to professionals

Thrill-seekers have a treat waiting here, as Railay in Krabi is one of the best rock climbing destinations in the world. Try to book a rock climbing excursion ahead of time.


About an hour’s drive from Krabi town is Thung Teao Forest Natural Park which is home for many natural spring-water pools — that are almost otherworldly shades of green and turquoise.

Blue Pool

The famous Blue pool or pond is fresh and hot with the water supplied from natural streams coming from the hill. The cool thing about this place is that when the water’s temperature changes, the watercolor goes from light green to turquoise! Here swimming isn’t allowed but photos are, and the other one is Emerald Pool, a dazzling crystal-clear oasis that’s pleasant for swimming. Go early in the day or on weekdays before the crowds take over!

Close from here are the hot water springs that form an unusual cascading waterfall that pours into a stream below!


All the beaches, water bodies and islands aside, Krabi boasts of many inland tourist attractions.

One of Thailand’s natural wonders and certainly worth a visit is this warren of caves, famously known as Tiger Caves, that sits within the jungle and house many monks that live and worship here. The caves can be explored and you will find many icons and relics to take a look at. And at a climb of 1,237 steps, which is no small task, is the ‘footprint of the Buddha’ and you are rewarded with 360 – degree views of the Andaman Sea and the beautiful islands that fall within it.

The other main temple in Krabi is Wat Kaew Korawaram. This is a new building and to some, resembles a white wedding cake!

A temple in the center of Krabi town


Ao Nang Beach, though not the prettiest beach in the area but if you are looking for some nightlife and a lively atmosphere this is a good place to start.

Euro-style bars and cáfes, night clubs and the standard Thai karaoke bars give the town a great atmosphere after the sun goes down.


  • Make your itinerary beforehand.
  • Get the local sim-card at the airport.
  • Check out the cuisine before you go. If you are a vegetarian, you might have difficulty finding food at Kuala Lumpur airport.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • While going to Emerald Pool, make sure to wear a bathing suit and bring towels as there are no changing rooms.
  • Try wearing clothes that will cover your body because the sun can get too harsh and the sunscreen is not enough!
  • While visiting the temples, avoid wearing tank tops, crop tops, shorts, etc. They are not allowed!  
  • Compare the prices of things before buying. You might want to make sure if you get better things at better prices in India.
  • The budget of the trip might go up to 40-50k if you stay in a decent 3-star hotel for 3-4 days.

If you are a lover of wild beaches and spectacular landscapes and want a place to relax or play in charmingly natural settings, away from any concerns, in a world not over-complicated by the trappings of modern society, Krabi is the place for you!



Hungry to travel, we planned a trip to Himachal. We had to decide between Chandigarh and Delhi to be our pit stop. But being architecture – geeks we chose Chandigarh, even though it meant loosing more time in travel. 
What Chandigarh was all about- Tons of Le Corbusier. Lots of Chole Kulche. Napping on park benches and gardens. Having an entire double decker bus to ourselves. High energy. Great weather.

Chandigarh Railway Station

Arrival Story

We reached Chandigarh railway station at dawn. And boy oh boy, that was a clean railway station! The cleaners were wiping the walls clean like we do at our homes in Diwali. As a result of 24 hours journey in sleeper coach, our bodies felt dirtier than the benches we sat on. After cleaning up in the waiting room, we went to the ISBT in sector 17. We kept our luggage in the cloak room as we had to board the bus to Himachal from there. These were our ways for a cheap trip turning out to be a pocket friendly and thrill- pill.

Trees dot the fabric of Chandigarh- along the roads, in open plazas, everywhere! And mulberry is one such tree that you spot all around. Coming out from the ISBT, we found big mulberry trees loaded with berries as with the onset of summer, they start bearing fruit. While satisfying our taste buds, a few lines from James Riley’s poem on the mulberry tree came to my mind:

“Today as I dream with both eyes wide-awake/ I can see the old tree and its limbs as they shake/ And the long purple berries that rained on the ground.”

Mulberry hunting on the roads of Chandigarh

Chandigarh Tourism runs a hop-on, hop-off double-decker tourist bus. It leaves from sector 17 and runs to prominent sites like the Rose garden, Museum and Art gallery, Bougainvillea Garden, Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake for just 50 bucks a person. As there were no other tourists that day, it was like we had our own private bus to scout the beautiful city and enjoy the panoramic views of sparkling parks, eating joints, and majestic hills, at our own pace!

HOHO bus


Our first stop was Sukhna lake, a majestic man-made lake with Shivalik ranges forming its backdrop. We took a small stroll and clicked a few pictures. After that, we headed towards the next famous destination of Chandigarh, Nek Chand’s wonderful, whimsical Rock Garden.

Large plaza adjoining the lake


The whole experience of visiting the Rock Garden was extraordinary, disorientating and deeply impressive. Throughout the garden, Nek Chand has used space in sharply contrasting ways, from almost oppressively narrow, steep-sided lanes and tiny Alice-in-Wonderland doorways to large, confident waterfalls and open terraces. Inspired by Le Corbusier’s use of concrete in the city, yet what Nek Chand produced is folk art and labyrinthine paths. It stands in extraordinary contrast to Corbusier’s modernist city and its grid pattern roadways. Though being about half a decade old, it still has the same charisma and awesomeness. You are spellbound by the site of hundreds and hundreds of figurines covered with colorful broken crockery, tiles, bangles and what not!

Made entirely of reclaimed, reused and recycled materials


If it is not Monday or outside the hours of 10:00 AM to 4:45 PM, you may visit the Government Museum and Art Gallery in Sector 10. The Government College of Art and the Museums of Architecture & Natural History surround it. It has become a haven for tourists, researchers, students on a school visit and families because you can spend an entire day here. And for us, its campus meant, a nice place to rest. As we were awake since 4 in the morning, we were tired and the benches shaded by the trees proved to be very cozy to take a half an hour nap.

No one else was there the afternoon we visited. We paid admission for ourselves and half-admission for our camera. The curators intended the exhibition to have placid and mesmerizing effects on the eyes of the onlookers. And I must say they were quite successful in doing so. And if one happens to be a lover for art and crafts and architecture, then this place is the ultimate paradise.

Built on Corbusier’s concept of “a Museum of Unlimited Growth”

Corbusier conceived the Capitol Complex as the head of Chandigarh’s sectored body, and the City Centre in Sector 17, two-thirds of the way up the grid of arteries, as the heart. The green space—surprise, surprise—was considered the lung. And as an conclusion to our day, we decided to visit the Capitol Complex.

Unlike other cities such as Mumbai, which are a mixture; Chandigarh is easy to navigate, sector-wise, as the sectors are all in line. In Mumbai, it takes more-and-more-proximate-but-never-definitive directions from five pedestrians to get anywhere.

An easy to navigate layout


The rickshaw deposited us shy of the gate. In front of the guard booth, an army officer kept vigil. He had arms and a rifle, which were enough to make us feel nervous. As we walked towards him, we did rapid character development and hammed up to look like non-hostile tourists (which we were). An even pace, cautious bob of the head, clearly displayed hands, chattering amongst us. While we didn’t expect bullets flying towards us, the thought of how severely dangerous an error would be under the circumstances of upcoming elections affected that kind of dread in us.
Fear not, we passed through unscathed. The officer took our identity cards in his possession and allowed us to go visit the campus of Capitol Complex. We were warned not to wander anywhere near the Assembly building and the High court or any other building other than the Open Hand.


No one else was there the time we visited. As soon as you enter the campus, you can see the 28 meters high Open Hand looming over you, heavy and dominating. It’s not until you reach the monument that you see, the hollow crowned by the Open Hand. The floor of this consideration, ‘considering to think, see, to talk about what’s real’, was 5 meters deep. It consists of two amphitheaters. Two because Corbusier’s philosophy was that ‘ there are always two sides to a question’. 

We descended to the sunken courtyard designed as ‘ pit of contemplation’ where the public affairs would be discussed. It appeared more to us as a place, hidden in view, where cult meetings would take place. We could imagine cult leaders addressing their followers from the podium. Corbusier designed the place so carefully that a person won’t need a microphone, but the acoustics of the place will handle it all.

And it was while sitting there, clicking weird pictures that one of us squealed that the Hand is moving! Yes, we didn’t know it till then that the Monument is mounted on a ball bearing. It allows it to turn with the wind, not aimlessly, to express what life really is, constantly moving.
The true and simple meaning of the Open Hand is to Give and Receive.
Symbol of Faith in the world of Catastrophe.
You don’t need knowledge of symbolism in architecture nor longer than a day in Chandigarh to become familiar with the Open Hand and its authority in enhancing the brand name of the city. Also interpreted as a flying bird, for the citizens of Chandigarh, it is symbolic of freedom, freedom to be who they are and what they can do.

Open Hand, also identified as flying bird


Till the time we were sitting there, two surveillance conveyances had already come to check in on us. The barbed-wire-and-jeep-patrolled perimeter was enough to dismay us. So, after spending a significant amount of time in the pit of contemplation, we walked to the High Court, hopeful that no one will catch us. Since the officer had warned us not to wander anywhere near the other buildings, we gratified ourselves by clicking pictures with the architectural marvel, as a proof that affirmative, we had visited the much-celebrated building.

Sculptural architecture with rhythmical brise-soleil and a floating roof

Though Corbusier conceived the entire complex as the head of the new capital, looking behind us, we could not see any of the city. Lush trees and extensive landscape surrounded us, with no building in sight. The only structure visible was the sculptural hill that Le Corbusier had designed for the Assembly Building, at the Southernmost part of the complex that divides the city from the Capitol Complex.

Returning back to the security booth, the army personnel had changed. The camoed officer flicked through our identity cards. On sight of State Maharashtra, he apprised us of his roots there. Like true Indians, meeting in a foreign country, we exchanged greetings. “Aree tumhi pan, mi pan!” There is no greater happiness than meeting a person speaking your language in a state where the language and people, both are alien!
We witnessed something on our way to the main road which you would never expect in an urban area. In the darkness of the night, the landscaped areas along the sides of the road started glimmering of golden speckles of dozens of fireflies. We stood there unable to believe. And then, suddenly it started sparkling all around. What joy such brilliant tiny moments can bring!

We didn’t fear, we dare. This is what women do everywhere. It turned out to be a successful girls going. And that was an end to Chandigarh but a perfect beginning to a great travel story.

An Open Letter to Travelers

When you do too much tourism: Hills of concrete instead of orchards

Last year we were all hit with the news of how Shimla was facing water shortage so severe that it had to shut down schools and plead tourists to stay away from the city. Today it’s Shimla, tomorrow it could be any other destination.

So here’s a bit of advice for any of you who have actually loved the places you traveled to as much as you portrayed in your Instagram captions.

Dear fellow travelers,

Don’t you wish sometimes there were referees at tourist places? So that they would go over to your fellow travelers and blow a whistle. Bam! You are being sent home. Bye bye!

Travelers get away with so much that they really shouldn’t. You and I, we both have encountered such people who consider whatever place they visit to, as their own heirloom. And no one says anything, no one holds them accountable, because who would, right?

I love the travelling community. I really do. But it is hard to deny that we are literally loving places to death.When we visit someplace beautiful, some off-the-beaten track destination, we want to make sure everybody knows about it. All it takes is a few selfies, a post on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and some good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. By driving people to the next “undiscovered” place, think if you have just ruined it?

While not totally guiltless, I think, besides tourists, travel writers and the local government bodies are also to be blamed. But as tourists, we have certain responsibilities to the destination. We have a choice in the hotels we choose, the locations we go to and the organisations we support.

  • Support Eco-friendly and sustainable accommodations
  • Purchase your supplies from small convenience stores in your destination instead of the market chains at home.
  • Research about the environmental condition of the place before visiting it and avoid contributing to it in a negative sense.
  • Choose tour companies that support sustainable tourism
  • Support local food and stay by avoiding big hotel and food chains
  • Use sustainable travel alternative

Tourists are blamed for not making an attempt to give back or to protect the places they visit. People have a great time and then they walk away without doing anything. That is wildly irresponsible. I believe, the point is to act. If you don’t, then you are worthless to that place. You cannot just claim to love these places, tour around and then leave them behind, thinking someone else will take care of them.

The recent revelation of the vandalization at the World Heritage site of Hampi chilled me to my bones. This incident reflects the pedigree of socially-desensitized and uncultured citizenry and the failure of our education and value system. It is disheartening to see that a section of visitors repeatedly prove themselves unfit and unworthy to travel. Unless we as travelers become aware and develop a sense of attachment towards our heritage, we cannot stop such defacement of our structures.

Vandals damage stone pillars at Hampi

Is it really too much to ask from us to contain the scraps within our vehicles, to leave the places you visit untouched, to respect the culture of the place and to make responsible choices?

If you agree, please let us know your suggestions, comments or criticism. Open the discussion for better ideas on responsible travel. Promote awareness. Promote sustainable tourism.

Not everyone gets to travel. So, if you are able to travel, travel responsibly. Make that choice and stick by it. Your actions can have a big impact. Try to leave the world in a state that’s at least as good as the one you found it in!

Much love,

A fellow traveler

8 Indian Cities Every Architectural Enthusiast Must Visit!

Chowmahalla Palace

“We travel for romance, we travel for architecture, and we travel to be lost.”

― Ray Bradbury

To travel is to make a journey; but what would a journey be, if the traveler doesn’t grow through it? Wouldn’t that be equal to just moving from one place to the other, without really gathering a thing? It is more than just an experience; more like understanding the transition of spaces: how one space segues into the other.

Architecture and travel, they go together like apple and pie. Shoes and laces. Paper and pencil. Living in the diverse nation that we do, various architectural styles have come up, owing to the various cultures and rich history. Here is a list of Indian cities that pack a punch when it comes to design, style and architecture.

India’s French Colony: PONDICHERRY

French Colonial Architecture

This quaint little town tucked away in the Eastern part of Southern India oozes French charm and a distinct ‘joie de vivre’ reminding visitors that it is a former French settlement. Famous for its Colonial French and Franco-Tamil architecture, the influence of the French culture can also be seen in street art around the town and in the decor of most houses. 

Don’t miss: It’s impossible to come to Pondicherry and not visit Auroville. It is a bold, utopian experiment in spiritual and sustainable living. Go there to observe the ongoing experiments in building materials and to experience an alternate lifestyle based on life-work balance and community living.

The Overlooked Architectural Gem: KASHMIR

Heritage architecture showcase inhabitants’ culture.

Known for its unparalleled natural beauty, Kashmir has equally alluring style and design of its houses. Both vernacular and colonial architecture in the valley celebrate the historical skill of Kashmiri craftsmen. Also demonstrate how traditional homes adapt to geography by utilizing local stone, wood and brick. The earthquake resistant vernacular construction systems of Kashmir is something every architect and builder should know of.

Don’t miss: Don’t forget to visit Leh-Ladakh. Dotted with ruins of
 old castles and forts across its vast mountainous terrains, the architecture here has a strong influence of religion, geography and climate.

The City Beautiful: CHANDIGARH

Example of mid-century modernism

One of India’s first planned cities and characterized by the seal of Le Corbusier, Chandigarh is one of the best experiments in urban planning and modern architecture in the twentieth century in India. . This city feels both futuristic and retro. It’s a time capsule of Mid-Century Modern and Brutalist architecture set in the foothills of the Himalayas. In 2016, the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making these incredible modern buildings a must-see!

Don’t miss: While here, don’t forget to go and visit Virasat-e-Khalsa in
Anandpur Sahib. Designed by Moshe Safdie, it is a mammoth museum chronicling Sikh history.

A City Older than History: VARANASI

Ancient architectural buildings and temples along the Ganges river ghat.

Believed to be a crossing place between this world and heaven, Varanasi is also a epicenter of cultures from India and beyond. Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism have coincided their paths with this city, which has also witnessed Mughal intrusion connecting it to Islam as well. As a result, the architecture here have diversity in construction, detailing and pattern. It is the perfect place to witness the colors and chaos of an Indian city!

Don’t miss: Take a rickshaw for an exhilarating 8 mile ride through Varanasi’s busy, hot streets to sacred Sarnath for some fresh air. Also see where Buddha preached his sermon in the Deer Park; the spot is marked by a stupa.

Blend of the Ancient and Modern: HYDERABAD

Charminar: Arc de Triomph of the East

The architecture of this city is a good source of astounding stories, adventure, and legend. Dotted with architectural masterpieces of different eras and styles, this city has embraced the modern steel-and-glass structures with equal ease. The historic relics in confluence with sumptuous skyscrapers create a bewitching panorama of ancient and modern times.

Don’t miss: Combine this trip with a stop at Warangal, a 3 hour ride away, a place of great religious, historical as well as cultural significance. It is a complete package for a family and group outing.

A Gharana of Architecture: AHMEDABAD

Scenic gardens at Sabarmati riverfront

The possible Design capital of India, Ahmedabad is a playground of the most amazing architects of India: Le Corbusier, Charles Correa, Louis Kahn and BV Doshi, all in one city. The modern architecture is juxtaposed against ancient temples, mosques, forts, step wells and lakes. Wandering through the streets lined with ancient Ahmedabad housing known as pol, the sights and sounds of this city will surely broaden your perspective and fill your soul.

Don’t miss: Around 75 km from here in Lothal, you can visit the remains of the commendable Indus valley civilization and experience what great town planners we were 4500 years ago!

A Historical Story Tale: HAMPI

The jewel of Vijayanagara empire: Hampi

The boulder-strewn hills of Hampi are a traveler’s paradise – with royal pavilions, ancient markets, aquatic structures, a museum and monkeys! This place is an splendid example of Dravidian architecture with adoption of elements from Indo Islamic Architecture. If you find joy in heritage, history, architecture, art and stories, it is the right place for you!

Don’t miss: While there, a trip to Bijapur and Badami is equally imperative!

City with a Past: BHOPAL

The largest mosque in India: Taj-ul-Masajid

Charles Correa played an important role in giving Bhopal its modern architectural vocabulary where he designed many iconic structures. From ancient tribal kingdoms to Hindu kings to Muslim dynasties, the city has been witness to changing times, destruction and resurgence, all of which have left their imprint behind in the form of built heritage.

Don’t miss: Bhopal is surrounded with many places that deserve your attention: Jhansi, Sanchi, Bhimbetka, Khajuraho Temples…

Architecture is the only thing which can never be eradicated from the list of travel. It is the art of culture, living and lifelong era.

Nagpur Travel Guide: Explore the Orange City of India


Second capital of Maharashtra, Orange city, Tiger capital, the Geographical center of India, Winter capital…Nagpur is bestowed with many titles. Though any locale will say, Nagpur has nothing to attract the traveler unless you like highway flyovers. Rather this demonstrates the kind of workaday beauty that we miss when we go off in search of the spectacular.

Though having a predominance of students and the emergence of IT sector, Nagpur’s culture is not one of Nightlife, Pubs and Discos. The people here love a quiet and simple life. Nagpur enjoys the privilege of a fast-growing metropolis-in-the- making along with the pleasures of an idyllic and unhurried state of mind. Thus it makes Nagpur an ideal place for a family weekend gateway.

Nagpur at night

Nagpur is the geographic centre of India. If you look at the dead centre of a map of India, you are pretty much looking at Nagpur. Being in the midst of the Deccan plateau, summers in Nagpur are miserably hot – beginning sometime in March, and lasting until the arrival of the rains in June. Winter is the best season to visit Nagpur, when the temperature is pleasant and perfect to visit.

Top attractions in the City (Nagpur)

Nagpur has something for everyone. Here are the top things to do based on your personality;

The History Fanatics

For history loving people, Nagpur has a lot to offer. There’s a lot of architectural beauty to capture in your camera like High court Building, RBI building, Vidhan Bhavan etc.  It was the capital of the British Central Provinces and therefore is blessed with a number of very beautiful British-era administrative buildings.

High court building


Located just on the outskirts of Wardha, Gandhiji located his ashram at  Sevagram (Seva = service, gram = village). Partially because the poverty of the area enabled him to devote himself to service of the poor. Also, because from here, he could hop on a train and be anywhere in India within 24 hours. Popularly known as ‘Bapu Kuti’, it is a great place to get an insight into the life of the Father of our Nation.

Distance: 75 km from Nagpur

Peek into Gandhi’s life


Nagpur has played an important role in the political history of India. The militant Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a volunteer organization closely tied to the assassination of Gandhi and the rise of the modern Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was founded here in the 1920s. If you are curious to know more about the Indian political party RSS, then Hedgewar Smriti Temple, built in the memory of Dr. Hedgewar, is one of the hidden treasures.

Distance: 4.6 km from Railway Station

K B Hedgewar’s house


The architect of Indian constitution Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, converted to Buddhism here. Hundreds of Ambedkar’s followers joined him in his conversion, and today there is a great stupa marking the place of conversion. Deeksha Bhoomi, the biggest hollow Stupa in Asia, is a sacred monument of Buddhism. This structure is known for its graceful design and architecture and is a memorial dedicated to Baba Saheb.

Distance: 4.7 km from Railway station

Glimpse of Deeksha Bhoomi Stupa
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The Nature Lovers

Unlike all major metros which are now concrete jungles, Nagpur has admirable green covers and almost pollution free air. It is bounded by national parks and sanctuaries and is known as the tiger capital of India. It also plays host to a wide variety of birds – both resident and migratory. Nagpur is a paradise for nature lovers.

City of eleven lakes


It is one of the most attractive spots in Chandrapur district and is situated in the heart of the reserved forest around 3 to 4 hours from Nagpur. The forest department calls Tadoba the real land of tigers. Also, it is the only sanctuary in the country that is open throughout the year and is the place where tiger sighting chances are very high. The vast Tadoba lake at the middle of the sanctuary is a delight. Deer and sambhar throng the banks, unmindful of the huge presence of crocodiles.

Distance: 144 km from Nagpur

Explore Tiger tales at Tadoba
  • Explore Tiger tales at Tadoba


This area has three lakes – Jhilpi, Salaimendha and Bhivkund surrounded by scrubland. The quarry is breathtakingly scenic and is an interesting place for birding. The White-eyed Buzzard, Blue Rock Thrush, Crested Swift, Great Tit, Crested Bunting and many other avian have been spotted here. If you are lucky, you may find the mesmerizing Indian Eagle Owl in the scrubland. It is advisable not to venture too deep into the forest though: Degma is the forest corridor to the Bor Tiger reserve.

Distance: 30 km from Nagpur

  • Yellow footed green pigeon
  • The Indian eagle owl

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Gorewada Lake is famous for winter sightings of many beautiful and rare birds and water fowls. The reservoir is surrounded by a small forest, which is lined with many streams that connect to the lake. The area is home to several tiny flycatchers, and you may also find the state bird of Maharashtra in the vicinity. The subtle waters, the birds flying to distances, the sunrise reflecting on the serene waters, helps to connect with oneself. There is a 8 km jungle trail which forms home to the many adventure seekers, nature lovers and photographers to quench their thirst of the early morning tranquility.

Distance: 9 km from Nagpur

Gorewada lake


For the nature enthusiasts, bird-lovers and photographers, Khekaranala Reservoir could be a blessing in disguise. The lake is nestled amid teak wood hills forming an ideal spot for the fauna to flock for water. The Shiva temple, located in a natural cave, is also worth a visit. It is an ideal spot for family getaways, weekend escapes, nature trails, photography and overnight camping. The place is among the most beautiful nature sites in the Vidarbha region and among the most popular places to visit in Nagpur.

Distance: 61 km from Nagpur

Lake at Khekaranala

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The Culture and Spiritual Enthusiasts

Nagpur is bestowed with rich culture and golden heritage. Deem your Nagpur trip incomplete if you fail to experience its vibrant festivals and temples. Here is a look at the famous festivals and places of Nagpur that will make you fall in love with its culture and heritage.

Dragon palace Buddhist temple

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An exclusive celebration, Marbat holds a special place in Nagpur. The locals observe this festival during the end of the Hindu month Shravan to safeguard the city by warding off all evil influences. Huge processions are taken out on the streets that carry sculptures depicting evil forces. At the end of the festival, the effigies are burnt and assumed that all evil forces will die along with it. The people of Nagpur celebrate Marbat by praying to the Almighty to grant them optimism in every aspect of life, by indulging in some retail therapy and devouring on mouth-watering food.

Marbat procession


People from all over the world attend this festival to commemorate the great poet, Kalidasa and to know about the rich cultural heritage of India. It is held every year in the month of November for two days at Ramtek. It is the place which inspired the great poet to pen some of his works. One can find a predominant mention of the astounding beauty of this place in his literary works. This festival features some of the well known and greatest exponents of dance, drama and music from all over the country.

Ancient Nagardhan fort comes alive during Kalidasa festival

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This place is popular for its extravagant history and its association with many myths and legends. It is supposed to have been visited by the legendary figure Rama accompanied by his wife Sita. It is popularly believed that if someone vows at the 600 years old Ramtek Temple , his/her life is blessed by the Lord. The temple at the top of Rama hill, is fortified with structures, distinctly of Mughal architecture. Nagardhan is another fort located at 10 km from here, which is a place of beauty.

Khindsi lake located nearby, is a beautiful spot for kayaking, paragliding or hot air ballooning. There is an important archaeological site believed to be the 5th-century remains of Pravarapura, located at Mansar, 7 km from Ramtek.

Distance: 56 km from Nagpur

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Ram Dham is India’s first cultural and spiritual park. It perfectly replicates the story of Ramayana with a few modern twists. The main attraction at this site is the biggest OM of the World and folk dances and the magically charming puppet show. Other attractions include a Shivling made of ice and many replicas of Indian temples such as Ashtavinayak and Vaishnodevi. you can take home idols of God as souvenirs on your visit here.

Distance: 49 km from Nagpur

A perfect family place

For Everyone


It denotes the Center of India. It is not a big draw like Middle of the World monument in Ecuador, which is a major tourist attraction. But just a sandstone pillar with four stone horses, each horse denoting a cardinal direction. Located opposite the Assembly Hall, it is called the Zero Mile Stone and was built by the British, who used this point to measure all the distances.

Distance: 1.8 km from Railway station

The Zero Mile 

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Most importantly, the city is the hometown of India’s largest maker of sweets and namkeens. When here, don’t forget to savour their mouth-watering food. A must have is their utterly delicious softy which comes for a mere sum of 12 bucks!

Distance: Many branches in different parts of the city

Haldiram’s restaurant


A local favourite, Seminary Hill is a small hillock located about 6 km away from the city of Nagpur. One can get an awe-inspiring view of Nagpur from here. Apart from this, the Japanese garden at its foot is one of the main attractions of this place. Telankhedi Hanuman Temple, Futala and Satpura Botanical Garden are other attractions of this hillock. Seminary Hill is an independent tourist hub in itself! Often described as the lungs of Nagpur, Seminary Hill is a sea of green and offers amazing walkways for walkers and joggers.

Distance: 5.7 km from Railway station

Abandoned Railway track in seminary hills

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Featuring a landscaped garden and lush lawns, the Lata Mangeshkar Garden at Surya Nagar in east Nagpur contains a musical fountain which dances to the tunes of Indian classical music. It also houses a huge open-air theatre which can accommodate about 2500 people.

Distance: 7.5 km from the city

Glimpse of Lata Mangeskar Garden


Existing for past 200 years, the Futala Lake furbished with immense finery and magnificence is one of the must visit tourist attractions for all age groups. Surrounded by lush green forest on the 3 sides, the beautiful landscaped chowpatty on the opposite side gives its aesthetic an ethereal feel.   

Distance: 5.8 km from the city

Three floating fountains

How to Reach Nagpur

Nagpur airport, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport has regular flights from all other major cities of the country. Instead, Nagpur Airport is also connected to International cities such as Doha and Sharjah.

Nagpur is also well connected to other major cities of the country via regular trains. Railway Station(s): Nagpur Junction (NGP), Ajni (AJNI), Itwari (ITR), Kalamna (KAV), Khat (KHAT), Tharsa (TAR).

Also, Nagpur is well connected to major road networks. It has good and regular public and private road transport connections.

Where to stay in Nagpur

Nagpur has options of stays in all category. You may get classiest of stays with good locations and services to cheap stays at hotels in the city. You can get good options to stay in the central part of the city. Although, common areas of stay for tourists are in Ramdaspeth. You can also use services like OYO Rooms to get luxury rooms at a very low price.

Thus, Nagpur is a natural wonder ready to be explored. Cultural richness, unique sports, and genuine people make Nagpur a perfect place. Come, visit and know the city with all the titles given to it!

Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai: 10 wildly beautiful unexplored places nearby

Panaromic view of nashik, maharashtra

Have friends in Mumbai Pune and want to spend time together or want to have a perfect relaxing weekend with your family? But aren’t we all tired of taking the weekend trip to the same old Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar? So if you are young at heart and do not look behind easily on the paths less traveled, so here is a list of,

10 untrodden locations/places to visit near Mumbai-Pune.

Valley of Flowers: Kaas plateau

Serenic view of plateau during monsoon at valley of flowers
Serenic view of plateau during monsoon

A UNESCO world heritage site, Kaas has colorful wildflowers from purple to white to green to yellow, stretching over a 1000 hectare area. The serene landscape and picturesque greenery are overlooked by a 16th-century Ajinkyatara fort from a height of 3300m. Approximately 01 km away from the plateau is Kamudini Pond dipped in fog, covered with thousand of Kamudini Flower floating on it and lots of cactuses at the edges. One can also visit Bamnoli lake; 10 km away from Kaas Plateau.

Best season to visitDuring and after Monsoon
Distance from Pune137
Distance from Mumbai267
Things to doPhotography, outdoor camping, trekking and caving

Crocodile and Dolphin Safari at Dapoli

Rare close view of crocodile at crocodile and dolphin safari at dapoli
Rare close view of crocodile

Want to see dolphins and crocodiles closely but never got the chance? Want to enjoy a weekend leisurely? A weekend to Dapoli not only offers you tranquil waves crashing on to sand but also amazes you with adventurous water sports activities. “Crocodile Safari” in Maldoli backwaters of Vashishth River gives you an opportunity to spot crocodiles basking on the bank of backwaters. Whereas a boat ride from Karde beach to deep sea offers you early morning Safari, sighting Dolphin Pods. Unhavare about 20 km from Dapoli is known for hot sulfur springs believed to have medicinal value. Enjoy a dip in the hot spring if you are on a long holiday in Dapoli.

Best season to visitSeptember to February
Distance from Pune184
Distance from Mumbai267
Things to doSightseeing, safari, dip in hot spring, water sports, Konkani cuisine

Cherapunji of Maharashtra: Amboli

Flabbergasting Falls at amboli
Flabbergasting Falls

Amboli lies in the Sahyadri hills of Western India, one of the world’s “Eco Hot-Spots”. It’s a paradise for Amphibian and Reptiles lover. You may have heard experts saying that “Forest gets Alive at night.” It’s time to come and feel it in Amboli, during exclusive “Night Trails”. And even if snakes and amphibians is not your calling, Amboli is enchantingly beautiful just after the monsoons, when the entire region is covered in a lush green carpet, with flowers blooming everywhere! Mist shrouded jungle paths and huge waterfalls are some of Amboli’s magical sights.

Best season to visitAugust to March
Distance from Pune348
Distance from Mumbai489
Things to doSightseeing, safari, photography, Konkani cuisine

Troplical Paradise: Maachli Farmstay

4. Life amidst nature at maachli farmstay
Life amidst nature

Situated in beautiful village Parule, on Konkan coast and in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, Maachli offers tropical paradise away from all the hustle bustle of the cities. The Cottages are conceptualized as Maachli which is a regional term for the huts made to protect the crop. The cottages are tucked away in a very dense plantation, thus offer abundant, rich, pollution free and healthy environment for the Nature lovers. A 15-minute drive from the property enables you to be amidst the near-white beaches along the seas. The host’s mother herself strives to provide Saraswat cuisine to the guests. It’s a treat for food lovers.

Best season to visitAll Year Long
Distance from Pune412
Distance from Mumbai555
Things to doHikes, pottery, sightseeing, boat ride

Dual City: Nashik

Panoramic view of Nashik
Panoramic view of Nashik

Famous for its numerous temples, the city is also much famed for its numerous vineyards and wine tasting tours. Sula Vineyard is popular all across the nation for being the finest place in the country to produce wines. Then, what can be better than packing your bags for a tour to these vineyards and getting a chance to taste the wines relaxing in the vineyards itself? Offering many thrilling activities as well for the travellers to indulge in, Nashik is a good option for a driveable vacation.

Best season to visitOctober to March
Distance from Pune211
Distance from Mumbai182
Things to doHikes, caving, wine tasting, adventure sports, pilgrimage, sightseeing, shopping

Turtle Festival: Velas

The turtle beaches
The turtle beaches

Velas is a small eco-village in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. It is well known for its beaches which reflect nature in its best preserved and pristine form. An NGO named Sahyadri Nisargmitra and the villagers committee has taken the initiative to conserve Olive Ridley Turtles by providing protection to their eggs till they hatch. It’s indeed a magical moment to see a baby turtle coming out of the egg and then finding its way to the sea by taking those little baby steps. Besides Velas beach, there are several other tourist attractions like the Bankot Fort and the Harihareshwar Temple.

Best season to visitFebruary to April
Distance from Pune194
Distance from Mumbai224
Things to doBird watching, ferry rides, sightseeing

Blessed with all: Bhandardara

Image of camps at Bhandardara

Bhandardara, in the Sahyadri ranges, is bestowed with all the nature’s blessings. From lush greenery to waterfalls to the mountains in the backdrop, it becomes a perfect weekend gateway for city dwellers. Apart from its scenic beauty, Bhandardara has its share of historical places too. If you are a history buff, make sure you visit Ratangad Fort. Amruteshwar Temple and Kalsubai Temple are the known temples in this hill town. The place also hosts fireflies’ festival in the pre-monsoon season.

Best season to visitAll Year Long
Distance from Pune172
Distance from Mumbai163
Things to doCamping, trekking, bike and cycle rides, ecotours, caving

Abode of peacocks: Morachi Chincholi

Dance your soul with peacocks at Morachi Chincholi
Dance your soul with peacocks.

A village with more peacocks than people, Morachi Chincholi is actually an unofficial peacock sanctuary. It’s a great weekend getaway for natural rejuvenation. The mango farms, the tractor ride, the bullock cart ride and the peacock dances give a glimpse of rural life. One can also visit Nighoj village around which is famous for the potholes of river Kukadi & hub of other birds.

Best season to visitJune to January
Distance from Pune55
Distance from Mumbai188
Things to doBird watching, star gazing, magic and puppet shows


Scenic beauty of durshet
Scenic beauty of durshet

Set against the stunning Sahyadri ranges, Durshet is situated between two Ganesh temples of Pali and Mahad and is just off the highway near the village of Khopoli. Nestled amidst a pictorial landscape, resorts in Durshet are ideal to rejuvenate your mind and put your soul at ease. It offers a plethora of activities such as butterfly trails, nature trails, waterfalls exploration to name a few. The proximity of this place with famous attractions like Sidi Ashtavnayak Temples at Pali and IMAGICA Park are some other added perks that make this escapade worth visiting.

Best season to visitSeptember To February
Distance from Pune98
Distance from Mumbai76
Things to doBird watching, star gazing, magic and puppet shows


En-route bhimashankar
En-route Bhimashankar

Bhimashankar is a popular temple town. It is among one of the twelve traditional ‘Jyotirlingam’ shrines in India. For people having a great interest in nature and trekking, Bhimashankar is an ideal destination to visit. The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary has rich fauna and numerous sacred groves, making it a beautiful place to visit especially during the offset of the monsoon season. Lush greenery and calm surrounding make it the best picnic spots near Mumbai and Pune.

Best season to visitOctober to March
Distance from Pune127
Distance from Mumbai213
Things to doTrekking, pilgrimage, wildlife safari
Professional Travel Blogger and founder of The Ghumakkads. Bhawna Mohinani is graduate in Mass Communication & Postgraduate in Travel and Tourism Management.

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