Rural southern India is fascinating. Mountains , water falls, temples and many simple things like road side tender coconuts and village schools. The pictures are from Kallidaikurichi, a small town near Cape comerin. Some 10 hrs by train from Chennai (cost $4 for an overnight train trip).
Spending time in a local village, (specifically Badgaon Village and Havala Village) is one of the best ways to get a feel for the "REAL" India. Through this experience you are able to catch a glimpse of the true essence of India. These gypsy villagers are very friendly and are as curious about foreigners as we are about them. There is also a local youth education center located in both of these villages. These centers are the main source of education for many of the gypsy children, seeing as their families do not send them to any Government run school (public school). So if you are interested in cultural exchange, volunteering or just visiting take the opportunity. It is one experience you will never forget!
The best adventures in Himalayas- trekking and river rafting make for the best holidays too. We have taken two such holidays ( with kids). One was a trek to Kuari Pass and the other was a river rafting camp at Tons river valley with a trek and homestay in a remote Garhwal village. Aquaterra Adventures is by far the best company to do this with in India- they have the best track record on safety, seamless and faultless planning for everything they do. They have been listed as the best adventure travel outfit by National Geographic. Besides this, they have a very warm- family like- set up which has been a big draw for us.
Kuari Pass to the remote and high Himalayas has spectacular panoramic views of the Upper Himalayan peaks, and the most beautiful camp settings. Must do.
Looking at lonely planet map elephant beach looks so close to beach7. beach7 a magnificent beach including lagoon, jungle elephants and pure white sand. What I thought would be 30min work turned to be a three hour adventure. Kerry and I walked through jungle, waded through water not seeing a soul. Beautiful walk! I recommend this journey!
the snorkeling here is diamond!
If you'll be starting from Gangotri, it's around 18 kms uphill to Gaumukh. Depending on your experience that should take between 5-7 hours.
The terrain is along the mountain edges all the way till camp 14km. Then you ascend towards the middle of the mountain, so no danger of falling off!
Surface is pretty even. There are no reflective markers to help navigation if it's dark & a moonless night! Hence plan accordingly & leave early morning.
It will be HOT in the daytime, especially around mid-day, but past 1600 hours, the temperature plummets rapidly!! I was quite surprised!
Carry glucose powder for energy, and some water, plus an empty bottle for collecting clean water from some streams you will encounter.
Going from camp 14km to Gaumukh is steeper & rockier surface, so decent boots are recommended. And expect large blocks of jagged ice to challenge your approach to the cave mouth (Gaumukh).
I hope you embark on this trek towards the end of July, when the monsoon is over.
with the background of the 4700 years old civilization with arts and culture still on in the local semi nomadic life of various tribes of the unconventional deserts called "Rann" in the extreme west of India - which is the land of the Sakas", Huns", Kushanas"- laterly known as the Gujjar Rastra, the Indian state of Gujarat is waiting for the people from all over the world with all it's great traditions, arts, architectural wonders, colourful people and their eventful life, fairs & festivals through out the year.
Though quite unknown and untouched by the modern world, Gujarat, which is rightly said the land of unknown colours - if properly visited, offers a massive range of various tribal life, tradition, folk art and festivals.
Can one imagine even till today the tribal semi-nomadic and even the modern people are still carring on their lifestyle as it was more than 1000 years ago. Their traditional dresses (99% of the people still wear their old traditional costumes, jewelry, other things) are just un-comparable and so unique that one will be puzzled to see. There are many a tribes who still carry on with their unique tradition of wearing self embroided dresses (with un-countable natural colours and shapes). Specially the ladies of various tribal areas make 40 or more traditional dresses since their childhood and take them as dowry at the time of marriage. Men too stitch their dresses, umbrellas with magnificent embroidery at the time of festivals and fairs. More beautiful the dress is - more chance of getting better bride.
Geographycally Gujarat is an wonder. Nearly every kind of geographical dyversity makes this great land the most amazing destination in the country or better to say the whole of South Asian or Indian sub-continent. Starting from the Aravalli Range to the plains & from the salt desert (largest salt desert in the world call the "Rann") to the Bunny (little low land dry half the year and under water half of the year) it stuns the visitors with their eyes un-blinked. Every places is so full of it's own nature, climate, wild-life, people, colourful dresses, foods, arts and architecture - one can't resist to visit this place again and again.
Wildlife is too unique here. Asiatic Lion, Rann's Wild ass, Tiger, Leopards, Caracle, Hyena, Golden cat, Civet cat, Brown spotted cats, Nilgai, Chinkara, Cheetals, Sambhar, Pelican, crane of nearly all kinds, storks, 100s of other local and migratory birds with varios other flora and fauna is so much abundant here that one won't like to leave this place and every time one visits this land - feels time or vacation is not enough.
Being an Indian I can strongly say that this land of Gujarat is one of the most unique in the country as far as the geography, history, culture, art and architecture is concerned.
In my words, no language can desbribe this great place. One need to visit this place with a good camera and lots of 16 GB photo memory cards.
India is one of the top destinations in the world for adventure sports. Because of its diversity, almost all adventure sport is possible- and in levels of degree that cater for all ages and different levels of fitness.
There is trekking, cycling, gentle hiking, horse-riding, fishing, kayaking, white -water rafting, and skiing in winter.
Camel safaris can be organised in the desert regions, and in certain parts of north-east India elephant treks are available.
So go- do something different. Its a memory that you will always treasure.
Most importantly, get a good guide. I recommed Sanjeev Mehta- (Mohans Adventure Tours) he is one of the very best, and will advise you on any form that you may choose, He will devise and plan a personal trek/adventure for small or larger groups.
Arunachal Pradesh is the easternmost and one of the most sparsely populated states of India. Its a land of forests, mountains and rivers, with the Himalayas along its northern border and Burma to the east.
There are several tribes inhabiting the area. Most of them derived from original Mongoloid stock but their geographical isolation from each other has brought amongst them certain distinct characteristics.
If you are considering volunteering with Non Profit Organizations in India it would be better if you get in touch with the NGO or NGOs that you want to work with and settle the following before you even land here.
Figure out if the NGO can make use of your services - Send them your CV; read about the work that they do; ask them to let you know specifically what they would need from you.
Figure out if the NGO wants to make use of you - Sometimes, despite your willingness to help, there being a perfect match between your skills set and NGO's work, the organization in question may not want your services. This is especially the case with short-time workers. In my past experience, i'd rather go about doing my job than be burdened with a volunteer who has come for a brief period, and by the time they learn the ropes they have to leave. It can be draining for the NGO.
Figure out the nature of the NGO - Some NGOs tend to be relaxed and slower and lesser 'professional' than some others. If it is a more relaxed NGO, then they may be slow to respond, may not give you structured role description, and so on. Be sure if you are willing to cope with the slow and sometimes ad hoc manner in which we tend to operate.
Try and get a defined list of responsibilities and tasks for the time you are here - This may or may not be possible, but get them to express how they would make use of your skill set.
In short, don't leave before you have made sure what you want to do. Otherwise you can be assured that you will be frustrated.
Even if you do manage to get it all done and land here, be prepared to be frustrated a bit. :-)
Again, don't get taken in by organizations that make you pay for volunteering with them. Usually organizations that really need help will be grateful for the help they are receiving.
If you are interested in working with children with intellectual disabilities, email me. I can put you on to a couple of organizations i have come in touch with.
hope this will help you
Auli - Chitrakantha (3310 mts/10857 ft) 15 kms/6-7 hrs
Chitrakantha - Kuaripass (3640 mts/11940 ft) Dakhwani (3300 mts/10824 ft) 14 kms/5 hrs
Dakhwani - Pana (2450 mts/8036 ft) 14 kms/5-6 hrs
Pana - Ramni (2550 mts/8364 ft) 17 kms/5-6 hrs
Ramni - Ghat (1330 mts/4363 ft) 15 kms trek/4 hrs - Srinagar
if you are in a group...take a local guide...available there...
its the best way to enjoy the trek without tour agency...as you can take the full advantage of the journey..else you are bount by the itinery
I suggest heading for HP (Himachal Pradesh). Then you have the choice of Nainital, Kullu-Manali, Simla.
Depending on political climate, you could then also consider Kashmir & Ladakh, or in UP head for Uttar Kashi & then aim for Gaumukh (origin of the river Ganga!) The latter is quite an experience, as it's 12000 feet, and 18 kms from base camp (Gangotri)!! Winding climb, with sheer drops on one side!! No lighting except moonlight at night, so timing the ascent is fun. There is another camp (at 12 kms) enroute. I did this climb as an unprepared & inexperienced 'hiker', and it was really cool ;-) You sure start running out of oxygen a bit at that altitude! I learnt never to squat for a breath, as when you stand up you get dizzy! Weird!! So later we just leant against the rock whenever we wanted a little rest!
From Mumbai, best to take a flight to cut down on the travel time. Many budget operators exist, eg Jet, Kingfisher, etc. Great deals to be had if planned & booked ahead, eg 1500 INR o/w!
You could also take a train, but I think that's best left for after you've settled in & got with the vibe and pace of the country. Perhaps train back for the return leg - adds a twist for sure. Opt for the tourist quota ticket for peace of mind.
Enjoy your adventure :-) And please post pics on your return!
We used to ask our hostel/hotel porters/rickshaw drivers/cleaners to take us to meet their family. Sounds strange, but we'd get talking, they'd show us pictures and tell us about their children/family who were often in VERY remote villages, hence why they were in more built up areas to earn money to send home.
They were (in our experience) totally overjoyed, for several reasons. Firstly, because we would arrange to go on their day off, so we would travel together, so of course we would be paying their travel costs too, something they would not often be able to do, secondly because it was such a novelty for the people in their villages to see white/western people, in our experience most had only seen westerners in films, some had not ever seen a TV and thought we were aliens! ...and thirdly because often tourists/travellers in India may take the lead of some well-off Indians and not even acknowledge them, or if they do, don't see them as the amazing people that can give us the true gems of India (VT members apart!)
It was a GREAT way of seeing TRUE TRUE india.
Once we went to a village (can't even remember where to be honest) and the village had one b&w TV, the whole village came out and moved over for us to watch the TV, the kids were touching us like we were aliens, the adults just staring, but not in the normal way that we were used to, they were totally baffled by us! The most welcoming, amazing people, and we stayed there with a family...
The only uncomfortable thing that I found was that we were treated as "special people", which was lovely, but their almost god-like adoration of us was a little unnerving, we wanted to "blend in" and be with them as equals but we were just too weird!! Of course we were not so naive as to expect otherwise, I guess, but just be prepared to be looked after very well. And in the remote villages I found that you do not have to be so cautious of being ripped off. When someone offers to take you somewhere or do something for you, it is genuine - often (in my experience) they did not even want money so we would take them for a chai and give them a lovely gift (we carried some UK stuff with us - get the glo stick things from places like Millets!!!)
Gosh, I've written loads, didn't mean to, got carried away!
In essence, go for it. I never felt unsafe, although of course follow your instincts - if you get to a totally remote place and you feel unsure, approach someone with a vehicle, give them some money and ask if they will take you to the nearest town (sounds harsh, but....)
India is blessed with different rituals and festivals. Deepavali \ deewali is one such festival celebrated all over India. The kind of activities \ mode of celebration varies in different parts of India for the same.
(will be coming back more on this soon.. usha)
Most visitors to India see the Taj Mahal. There is, however, another fascinating site nearby ( 25min drive from Agra)
This is the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri.
Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory) is an abandoned city, built from red sandstone. A city of yesteryear, today lost in the mists of time. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar during the 16th century. Akbar had no heir. He visited holy men to enlist their prayers for a son. He visited Sheikh Salim Chishti, who was living at the village of Sikri, and the Sufi saint prophesied that he would be blessed with a son. When the son was born, Akbar named the boy Salim, after the Saint. This son later became the Emperor Jahangir.
The grateful Emperor constructed this as his capital city and named it Fatehpur Sikri. Later, due to lack of water and unrest in North-West, Akbar had to abandon his capital. The beautiful marble tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti still attract thousands who seek blessings of the revered saint. Women wishing to have children tie small bits of string onto a screen inside the tomb, after they have asked for a blessing form the Saint . When their prayers are answered, they return and remove the string.
. It has been rumoured for centuries that underground tunnels led all the way to Delhi , and Agra.
Fatehpur Sikri is a world heritage UNESO site, and is situated 39km form Agra. There is a small village nearby.
The wide, open square on this site displays perfect examples of Mughal Architecture, and the various buildings around it are all very well preserved.
The most outstanding are the Mosque, and the marble tomb of the Sufi Saint Salim Chishti. Intricate sandstone lattice windows filter the sunlight.
One has to be aware that on arrival, many touts and guides are ready to pounce on unsuspecting tourists. Having a guide is somewhat useful, and some guides have extensive knowledge of the old city. Many of them, unfortunately, have a hidden agenda
This site is definitely a must-see if you are in the Agra vicinity.
Chandrigarh : There aren't many tourists who choose to visit this city, unless they are a student of modern architects like Le Corbusier. That, or they get a kick out of looking at a scruffy concrete city.
The 1950's creation of the French architect is perhaps one of the few places on earth that his vision of a futuristic city was realised. It's geometic planning is certainly at odds with the hap-hazard approach to town planning that characterises nearly every other city in the country. This is the Milton Keynes of India, built as a state capital in the main to replace Lahore that became part of Pakistan at Independence.
From a tourist point of view, the city has a number of interesting parks to visit. They break up the unending squares of concrete and thus 'green' the city. The most interesting (and the most popular tourist draw) is the 'Rock Garden'. This quite surreal place features mini-canyons of shell and stone, scupltures everywhere and more water features than the hanging gardens of Babylon.
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