Festivals of India

Festivals, the time which marks breaking out of the monotony of everyday life, they signify the time of celebration, pomp and gaiety. For a country as diverse as India, you get to break free at least 12 times a year, kudos to the vivid cultural diversity of our country. And why shouldn’t we celebrate festivals, remember, All work & No Play, Makes Jack a dull Boy!!

So if you are travelling in India, these are the festivals you should not miss if you happen to be in that region.


1. Uttaryan
WhereAhmedabad, Gujarat
Why – Kite flying is the USP of the festival and it is an absolute treat to get up on the terrace and indulge in kite flying. A sight to behold, as the blue skies fill with colourful kites in various shapes and sizes, families & friends get-together and have fun over food & kite-fights.

Related image
source: uniindia.com

2. Kambala
Where – Udupi, Karnataka
Why – Experience an enchanting atmosphere as the farmers race their buffaloes in ploughed field with slushy waters.

source: .drkrishi.


1. Theyyam
Where – Kasargod/Wayanad/Kannur, Kerala
Why – Witness the dance performances of the Theyyam, considered as Dance Gods, decked up with Ornamental decorations, performing gracious moves with music & mime.

source: advaid

2. Mahashivratri
Where – Mandi, Himachal Pradesh
Why – A week long festival where in more than 200 Gods & Goddesses are carried in decorated palanquins from nearby villages in a procession which ends at the Bhoothnath Temple in Mandi.

source: ndtv

3. Goa Carnival
Where – Panjim, Goa
Why – Colorful parades with bands and dances and evenings marked with the tagline of eating, drinking and merry-making. The highlight of the festival is the concluding red-and-black dance performed by Clube Nacional in Panjim.

source: viva carnival


1. Lathmar Holi
Where – Barsana & Nandgaon, Uttar Pradesh
Why – A 2-day festival where women carry a Lath (traditional staff/stick) and playfully beat the men who try to put colours on them while singing some folk songs and remembering Radha and Krishna!

source: Dna India

2. Chapchar Kut
Where – Mizoram
Why – Have tete-a-tete with the culture of Mizoram, as the natives celebrate to thank the Gods for their blessings and a good harvest. Enjoy local dances where women dance in the sync of the bamboo beats.

source: bananivista


1. Aoling Festival
Where – Nagaland
Why – A celebration of harvest where one can enjoy during this festival are dance and music performances, feasts and ancient rituals.

source: india someday

2. Mopin Festival
Where – Arunanchal Pradesh
Why – The people celebrate Mopin as a harvest festival and a measure to keep the evil spirits away. It involves a folklore dance “popir dance” performed by some very skilful local tribes’ women. The locally made rice wine (apong) during the festival is a pleasure that comes once in a while.

source : global glallivting

3. Shad Suk Mynsiem
Where – Meghalaya
Why – This festival is celebrated to thank Mother Nature for providing a good harvest. You can enjoy tribal dance performances, musical instruments performances, and many others.

Source: Desicomment.com


1. Thrissur Pooram
Where – Thrissur, Kerala
Why – A resplendent festival celebrated with a grand display of caparisoned elephants, dazzling parasols, and percussion music. Involving swift and rhythmic changing of brightly coloured and sequined parasols, the ceremony is one among the highlights and is a keenly watched event.

Source: Kerala Culture

2. Madurai Meenakshi Kalyanam
Where – Madurai, Kerala
Why –  This festival marks the celestial wedding of Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar. Special rituals, car festivals, processions, and other cultural activities take place during this celebration. Many stalls are erected around the temple during this festival for souvenir shopping.

Source: The Hindu


1. Hemis Festival
Where – Hemis Monastery, Ladakh
Why – Throughout the festival the locals get dressed in their bright and colourful traditional attire. And the sacred masked dance is performed along with long horns, musical drums and cymbals. Hemis Festival is a must attend festival and it is joyously enjoyed by everyone

source: Times of India


1. Shikara Festival
Where – Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
Why – Witness various events including Shikara Race, Dragon Boat Race and Canoe Polo Match besides cultural programmes depicting traditional heritage and culture of Kashmir.

source: sify


1. Onam
Where – Alleppey, Kerala
Why – A festival that is Kerala’s identity, experience the celebration of harvest with grand feasts which promotes community dining. Snake boat races are the blue eyed events as hundreds of boat men paddle their boats in visually appealing sight.

Image result for onam festival
source: oyo

2. Ganesh Chaturthi
Where – Mumbai, Maharashtra
Why – When God arrives as a guest, it is a grand occasion. Get ready to get amazed as Lord Ganesh resides with you for 10 days amidst the rumble of conchs and beating of the percussion. Get blessings from the renowned Lalbaug Cha Raja and get mesmerised by the aura of the surroundings.

Image result for lalbaugcha raja
Source: DNA India


1. Abhaneri Festival
Where – Dausa, Rajasthan
Why – A unique festival that is celebrated to offer thanks to a 2500 year old Step Well, for conserving water in the arid regions of Rajasthan. The celebrations include folk dances like Kalbeliya, Kachi Ghodi & Bhavai along with puppet shows and vibrant cultural performances.

Image result for chand baori
Source: Holidayfy

2. Ziro Music Festival
Where – Ziro Valley, Arunanchal Pradesh
Why – Hosted by the local Apatani Tribes, this outdoor music festival is one of the most vibrant music festivals in India and showcases independent music talent from all over India and outside of India. 


1. Navratri
Where – Vadodara, Gujarat
Why – Get into the groves of Garba and be ready for 9 nights of revellery, as the music sets the tone in the evening which continues till the wee hours in morning. Be a part of Guinness World Record at United Way of Baroda, along with 50000 fellow players dancing to one beat of Garba. *Goosebumps*

Image result for united way garba
Source: United Way Worldwide

2. Durga Pooja
Where – Kolkata, West Bengal
Why – Prepare to be awestruck as the city of Joy adorns itself to welcome Goddess Durga and celebrate the victory of good over evil in their unique style. Go Pandal Hopping and feast on some great food in the celebration lasting long into the night.

Image result for durga pooja
Source: India.com

3. Dusshera
Where – Mysore, Karnataka
Why – Elaborately decorated Mysore Palace exhibits luminescence in every nook and corner as equally ornate elephants carry out the procession of Lord Chamundeshwari in a Golden Palanquin, a treat to the eyes.

Image result for mysore dusshera
Source: Mysore Dasara


1. Diwali
Where – PAN India
Why – Diwali needs no introduction, the festival of lights is celebrated across India with great joy and festivities, each region having its own folklore on the celebration of the festival.

Image result for diwali
Source: Times of India

2. Dev Deepawali
Where – Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Why – The gods are said to descend to Varanasi, the ghats along the Ganges glow in the flames of thousands of tiny oil lamps, thousands more of which are launched on the river each night. It’s an incredible and fitting spectacle for the so-called ‘City of Light’.

Image result for dev deepawali varanasi
Source: Amar Ujala


1. Hornbill Festival
Where – Kohima, Nagaland
Why – Claimed to be the “Festival of Festivals”, the week long festival unites one and all in Nagaland and people enjoy the colourful performances, crafts, sports, food fairs, games and ceremonies. Traditional arts which include paintings, wood carvings, and sculptures are also on display.

Image result for hornbill festival
Source: Abhishek Hajela

2. Christmas
Where – Goa
Why – Christmas in Goa is all about the smell of scented candles, the sound of Christmas carols, and exchange of a lot of gifts! Plan a night out with friends, listening to the ringing sound of church bells, and watch out for fireworks.

Source: Travel Triangle

Why Seychelles should be your next vacation destination?

Imagine you are planning to take a vacation to a place serene and beautiful so that you can relax but you also want to go to a place where you can do something adventurous. Carry on reading, you have landed on a gold mine here. Seychelles (pronounced Sea-Shells), a group of 100-odd islands lying in the Indian Ocean, is the perfect place which offers an amalgamation of adventure and peace.

Reaching Seychelles

If you search on world map, you will find Seychelles to be a tiny dot, just below the equator in the Indian Ocean. And this tiny little dot is 4 and half hours away from India. Yes, you read it correctly, it is that close to India. Air Seychelles operates direct flights from Mumbai to Mahe and it takes only 4.5 hours to reach the island nation.

Mahe, the capital city, is the largest island of Seychelles and has one of the smallest runways in the world. Also, the views from the top are worth stealing that window seat in the aircraft. I mean, seriously, how pretty can an airport get! It is the first point of contact of falling in love with pristine islands.

Mahe International Airport.jpg
Source: Wikipedia

And if you fall in love with Mahe Airport, you will just drool over what Praslin airport has to offer. The domestic airport is just as amazing as the international one, and is accessible by the tiny Twin Otter aircraft, which is an experience in itself.

Ever Seen a Better Runway??

Another reason to love Seychelles is the hassle free Visa process. Seychelles is a visa free country, which means, you don’t require to apply for visa to enter Seychelles. All you need to do is provide confirmed return ticket and proof of accommodation, and you will be granted permit for up to 30 days. Isn’t that just amazing?

Why visit Seychelles?

For a country that offers you a wide variety of breathtaking places, you will be spoilt for choices and “What to See & What not to See” will be a question. So to ease out things for you, here is the answer to the above question.

Bewitching Beaches

It is a no-brainer. An island nation which doesn’t boast its coastal beauty would not classify to be an island nation. Jokes aside, the beaches of Seychelles were a different world altogether. Both of us are beach bums and we love being at the beaches, and Seychelles didn’t disappoint us. Locally known as “Anse” (French for a small bay), one can find an Anse all over the periphery of the islands. We visited quite a few of them and just fell in love with them. Here’s a brief about the ones we really loved to be at.

Anse Source D’Argent

As per the internet, this is the World’s Most Photographed Beach. Well, we’ll let the pictures do the talking for you.

Located inside the L’Union Estate on La Digue Island, the dazzling white sands of the beach are lapped by turquoise blue waters and backed by granite boulders and coconut palms.

Each and every inch of this part of the island is Instagram worthy, and we leave it to your imagination to capture the mesmerising beauty of this beach.

Location: L’Union Estate, La Digue
Entry Fee: SCR 115/- per person, valid for entire day.

Anse Lazio

Located on the Northern tip of Praslin, it is the most famous beach in Seychelles and apparently among the world’s most beautiful beaches. Bordered with giant Takamaka and Coconut trees and huge granite boulders frame its emerald waters. The pink sands add to the beauty of the beach.

Anse Volbert

One of Seychelles’ longest beaches stretching 3 km long, Anse Volbert is the main tourist beach of Praslin. It is a hive of water sports and activities with restaurants, boutiques and hotels lined up on the shores.

The sea is usually calm and is ideal for relaxing swim or take up watersports like canoeing, scuba and snorkelling. You can also find lot of tour operators with lot of options to visit the satellite islands through a boat excursion. We highly recommend Sagittarius Taxi Boat Services if you are looking for a one-day excursion.

Anse Beau Vallon

The most popular beach is Mahe, it is known for an upbeat vibes and night markets on Wednesday nights. We enjoyed it even more since our stay at Mahe was on Beau Vallon and we had direct access to the beach through our hotel. It is very well known for snorkelling and spotting some rare sea creatures like the Hawkbill Turtle.

Anse Boileau

One of the lesser known beaches in Mahe, the beach boasts of lush green trees, huge granite boulders and stunning landscapes that makes you want to just park your car and absorb the tranquillity of the place.

Fantastic Forests

Yes, you have read it right. Seychelles is home to beautiful forests and nature reserves spread across all of its islands. These nature reserves form an important part of the ecology of the islands, as they provide home to the endemic species and maintain the monsoon cycles on the islands. Here are some of our favourite forests of Seychelles

Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve

One of the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Seychelles, Vallee de Mai is a nature reserve that constitutes of a unique ecosystem where native species, both animals and vegetation, co-exist.

Awed by Coco de Mer Palms

The 20 hectares reserve is the home to Coco de Mer Palm trees, an endemic variety of palm that grows only in Praslin Islands. The palms are known for its seed, the heaviest seed in the world, and are perhaps the most photographed seeds in the world owing to its resemblance to human buttocks. These seeds can be purchased as a souvenir, however the sale is restricted and it requires fair amount of paperwork to carry them over the shores. Also, these seeds can cost you from EUR 200-600, so we leave it at your wisdom.

Location: Vallee de Mai, Praslin
Visiting Hours: Everyday from 8:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Entry Fee: SCR 350/- , guided tours starting from EUR 10 per person
Estimated time to visit: 45 mins to 1.5 hours

Fond Ferninand

Just a few meters away from the Vallee de Mai reserve, stands a lesser known but equally impressive Fond Ferdinand Reserve. The reserve also boasts great flora and fauna, but more importantly offers lovely views of the surrounding areas from the top.

When making the visit to the reserve, it is mandatory to have a guided tour through the reserve. Tours start 3 times a day, at 9.30, 11.30 & 13.30, each lasting 1.5 to 2 hours. There are many trails in the reserve, easy to medium grade, which takes anywhere between 2 to 4 hours.

Curieuse Island

An island where you get to experience slow motion in real time. Yes, Curieuse Island is the home to the Giant Aldabra Tortoises. Since its relocation in 1978 from Aldabra, Curieuse Island has been the at the forefront of conservation of Giant Tortoises. You can interact with about 300 Giant Tortoises roaming on the island.

On the southern part of the island is a mangrove swamp that is traversed by a walkway for park visitors. The island is also known for coco de mer palms, giant takamaka trees and several bird species, such as the rare Seychelles black Parrot. The trail was the best part of the island, and then we got greeted by a lovely host at the end.

Location: Curieuse Island
How to reach: Rent a boat from Praslin
Entry Fee: SCR 100/- Per Person

Myriad Marine Life

There’s no doubt that marine life thriving in the turquoise-emerald waters of Seychelles is one of the best we have seen thus far. A wide variety of colorful fishes, turtles, rays and sharks are found in these calm waters.

Scuba Dive, snorkel or go on a fishing trip, you will be enthralled to see the life beneath the ocean, so lovely you just can’t take your eyes off the beauty present at your behest.

Flavorful Food

For all you food lovers out there, if you love trying out something new, Creole Cuisine is the one which will not disappoint you at all. We got the chance to enjoy typical Creole lunch at one of the oldest restaurants in Mahe, Marie Antoinette , and we are so happy we didn’t miss out on this blast of flavors.

Apart from the local flavors, you get a wide variety of continental flavors and a lot of Indian options, if you are the one who does not like to experiment with the taste buds. The Copper Pot & Maharajas, are two of the finest restaurants serving Indian food. Restaurant Bravo, on Eden Island in Mahe serves lovely continental delicacies with a twist of their own (Do try their Square Pizza).

And to top it all, we found two best alcohol brews in Seychelles. One is Seybrew, the local beer which is ultra smooth and refreshingly soothing. It is one of the best beers we had till date. The other is the Takamaka Rum, the rum whose tagline says, “Rum made from the Seychelles.” A rum that is extremely delicious, and is one that definitely make Old Monk fans to switch Brand Loyalties. Best part of it, you can witness the entire distillation process at the Takamaka Rum Distillery in Mahe, and indulge in tasting sessions there.

Playful & Personable People

The people of Seychelles, are by far the best set of locals we have encountered in all our travels and trips. Always greeting you with a ear to ear smile, they are playful, cheerful and always ready to help you out. They welcome you with open arms and are the warmest of the hosts, the kind you would love to spend time with.

So, Seychelles has beautiful beaches, mind-boggling nature reserves, a diversified marine life, excellent flavors in food and friendliest people. Just the perfect ingredients you require for the recipe of your ideal vacation. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, book your tickets and fly off to Seychelles, a paradise hidden somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

Pratapgadh Fort

‘Gadh’, literally meaning stronghold, have been an integral part of the erstwhile kings and princes in India. Strategically located across various parts of the country, these forts were the arsenal of rulers to deploy the forces when under attack. Maharashtra has over 300 such forts that played an important role during Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s reign. However, one fort holds a special place in the history of Maratha Empire owing to its architectural genius and the folklore attached to it. Here’s the account to genius and valour of Pratapgadh Fort.

Unlike other forts of Maharashtra that were majorly captured, Pratapgadh Fort was constructed by Shivaji Maharaj under the architectural guidance of Moropant Trimbak Pingle. The fort consists of 4 watchtowers in four directions, armoury, king’s quarters, army quarter, around 450 steps connecting all of these, and all this was constructed within a span of 2 years. Just imagine, around 500 years ago, without the use of heavy machinery and equipments, in a hostile environment, clandestinely stands a strong hold of Maratha bastion.

The intriguing part of the construction was that the main door of the gate is not visible from outside. As seen in the photos, an outside glance makes it look like an impregnable wall. But actually the main gate is hidden behind the rocks, with a series of curved staircase leading to the door. The curved staircase was an example of an ingenious construction which protected the fort gate from being taken down by the enemy forces.

On the way up to the top, one can witness the weapons and armory used at the time. A heavy arsenal, literally and figuratively, each of the weapons weigh about 20-30 kgs and it is said that an average person than would practice with them for 6-8 hours a day. Clearly shows the strength in the limbs of our ancestors.

The highest point of the fort stands on the edge of the 3000 feet high cliff. The place known as Punishment Point, was used execute the criminals by throwing them down the cliff. A spine chilling place even now as the cool breeze equivalent to that of an air conditioner with temperature dropped to the lowest. And the view is worth dying for!


Among all the tales, the fort is well known for one due to which its name is derived. ‘Pratap’ means victory, and the name of the fort is dedicated to the victory of Chhatrapati over the Mughal General Afzal Khan.

Chhatrapati Shivaji’s contemporary ruler was the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, who had placed a handsome bounty on Shivaji Maharaj’s head. Afzal Khan was the Mughal General in the Deccan region and he accepted the challenge to defeat Shivaji Maharaj. Setting out a message of peace proposition to Chhatrapati at Pratapgadh, Afzal Khan had planned to kill Shivaji during the meet. Afzal Khan, as it is said, was a monster among men, standing at 7 feet tall and was strong enough to flip a raging bull without breaking sweat.


Shivaji Maharaj, on receiving the invitation of the peace proposition, went ahead to meet Afzal Khan with 2 of his trusted generals. As they met, Afzal Khan tried to kill Shivaji Maharaj by squeezing his neck. However, Shivaji Maharaj, having anticipated such move, tore open Afzal Khan’s belly using the tiger claws he was wearing on his hands. Withering in pain, Afzal Khan retreated through the tent where he was decapitated by one of Shivaji’s bodyguards. The trumpet of victory of blown from the fort and hence the fort came to be known as Pratapgadh Fort.

Reaching there

Pratapgadh, just 15 kms from the famous hill station of Mahabaleshwar, stands tall reminiscing the valiant tales of the glorified Maratha history. Plan your next trip there and be amazed by living the part of the history.

About the fort

Pratapgadh Fort is privately maintained by the descendants of Shivaji Maharaj, and the entry to fort is free of cost.

You can hire a guide there, they charge Rs. 300 plus some tip, but they explain each and every small details related with the place. Our recommendation is to hire one if you are going there for the first time.

There are many snacks, refreshment and eating outlets within the fort, so you do not have to carry anything with you. You will get good authentic Maharashtrian food out there.

A Complete Guide to Waterfall Rappelling

The onset of monsoon makes the earth fresh and recharged. The trees shine with green covers, the bushes blossom new shoots, the fields become rejuvenated, flowers emerge out of buds and the water level in streams, falls and rivers brim to the fullest. And this marks the time to don the trekking gear and charge up the adrenaline.

The Western Ghats are a haven for the adventure lovers, especially in the monsoons. As the rain washes off the dust from the leaves and refuels the water bodies, a hike along the rejuvenated pastures is a treat for adventure enthusiasts.

And among all the adventure sports being organized across the Sahyadri Mountain Ranges, it’s Waterfall Rappelling that steals the show. Waterfall Rappelling, the name itself gives you thrills. The task is very simple. You rappel down the rock with the help of a rope, but as you descend you are accompanied by a thunderous waterfall, roaring with all its might.

We had the privilege of ticking this activity off our bucket list last year as we reached Bekre Waterfall in Bhivpuri, Karjat on a partial cloudy, partial rainy Sunday morning, awaiting an adventure of lifetime. The only way to access the falls is through a small hike from the base. After 30 minutes hike, crossing a few paddy fields and some streams, wading through water at times, and admiring the charm of the nature, I reached the falls, only to be left awestruck by it.

Bekre Waterfalls is a huge, mighty, roaring waterfall, with a drop of about 60-70 feet and is well known for the rappelling alongside the falls. Conducted under expert supervision, as you see the fellow participants rappel down the rock, you get excited by the very thought of having a heck of an adventure.

As we geared up for the task, the heart inside was beating up and down. A look down from the edge of the cliff and we felt excited and terrified at the same time. Since the activity coordinators were highly skilful personnel and used safety equipments, we conquered the inner fear and started the slither down the rock. The slippery surface of the rock and the pressure of the falls makes it difficult to maintain the grip, but it also adds to the excitement of the activity.

And as I (Krutarth) reached the middle of the the falls, surrounded by the gushing flow of the water, it felt like I cleansed the fear instilled inside my heart. The adventure ended after a few more steps, but the experience found a place in the memory for time immemorial, as I waded through the catchment reservoir, as if I was Baptised by adventure.

Where to find?

Many big and small waterfalls mushroom out during monsoons in Maharashtra. However not all the places favour adventure activities, so do basic homework before signing up with any adventure travel company. We did this at Bekre Waterfall near Karjat.

How to reach?

By Rail: Bhivpuri Road is the nearest station and all Karjat bound slow local trains halt here.

By Road: Approx. 80 km from Mumbai, the falls are just off the state highway no. 80 towards Karjat.

What to Carry?

1. Trekking/hiking shoes are compulsory, else you won’t be allowed to do the activity

2. Water, at least 2 litres per person

3. Light snacks, preferably dry fruits, chocolates and protein bars

4. Raincoats, as it can rain any time

5. Shoulder bag/Rucksack, to pack all the above things

Things to Remember

1. You are entering a natural habitat, respect it’s eco-system.

2. Enquire whether your travel coordinator has the required permissions of forest department to conduct the activities

3. Ensure your travel coordinator is certified to conduct these activities

4. The terrain is vulnerable in monsoon, watch your steps, follow the group leader’s instructions.

5. Listen and abide by the safety instructions given by the activity expert, they are qualified professionals, it is no harm in lending a ear to their words.

6. Lastly, leave the place with memories and ZERO TRASH.

Hope this helps, monsoons are here, make the most of it in the coming months. Enjoy!!

Taj Lake Palace: An Experience of a Lifetime

Ever wondered how it feels to live a Regal Life in a beautiful palace that floats in the middle of calm lake. For those who have visited Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, the answer to the above question is a YES, ABSOLUTELY in bold and capital.

Built by Maharana Jagat Singh II in 1746 as his pleasure palace, Jag Niwas. Today, Jag Niwas is restored to its pristine glory and this mighty and magnificent palace is now known as Taj Lake Palace of Udaipur.

About the Property

The heritage hotel stands in the middle of the stunning Lake Pichola, and offers breathtaking views of the City Palace, Aravalli Ranges, Machla Magra Hills and Jag Mandir. The Palace hosts 65 luxurious rooms and 18 grand suites, 3 exquisite dining places, an exotic bar, a peaceful library, a soulful spa and a zillion places where you can take mind blowing photographs.

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 2/16 by Krutarth Vashi

A Dining Area that opens into this beautiful Tulip Garden

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 3/16 by Krutarth Vashi

Gyan Sagar – The Library of the Palace

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 4/16 by Krutarth Vashi
Beautiful Pool Side

Every nook and corner of the property oozes grandeur and leaves you in a state of awe on every step you take. The beautiful library goes by the name of Gyan Sagar – an ocean of Knowledge. The architecture and the decor of the same leave a calming effect on your mind and by indulging in strategy games like Chess, it charges up your mind. So your mind always stays in a state between serenity and rage.

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 5/16 by Krutarth Vashi

One of the best chess sets we have ever seen

And just opposite the library, crossing the sprawling King’s Courtyard, there’s the Palace’s in-house bar, Amrit Sagar, which serves the finest of wines, spirits and cigars. Add to that the glorious mosaic art work on the walls that adds to the charm of the place.

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 6/16 by Krutarth Vashi
Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 7/16 by Krutarth Vashi

Dining Delight

Taj Lake Palace spoils you for choice by providing you an ultimate gourmet experience while you are enjoying your holiday. It hosts 3 grand restaurants that cater only to the in-house guests, each special in its own term.

1. Neel Kamal

Palace’s fine dine restaurant that serves the best and authentic Rajasthani cuisine and is also known to serve some of the most lip-smacking dishes from across India.

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 8/16 by Krutarth Vashi

Classy interiors, giving a Rajasthani touch and feel, are best enjoyed with a live Classical Indian musical performance by renowned artists. Believe us, it is totally magical to enjoy your morsel with melodious Jal-Tarang playing in the backdrop.

P.S. They serve the best Lal Maas.

2. Bhairo

What better way to go on a dinner date than an open roof terrace restaurant that offers gorgeous lake front view and lovely skyline of the city that is foreshadowed by the magnificent City Palace.

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 10/16 by Krutarth Vashi

Bhairo offers a 3 or 4 course European Cuisine Dinner that is as worthy as the view it offers.

3. Jharokha

The third restaurant, Jharokha, which means Balcony, is the only part of the palace that is not restored and is kept the way it was since the time it was constructed.

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 11/16 by Krutarth Vashi

The all day dining place offers you with the best of the views of the dazzling Lake Pichola as you indulge yourself in the best breakfast spread you’ve ever had.

Rooms & Tariffs

Taj Lake Palace has an elaborate list of rooms and suites to choose from.

The Luxury Room is elegant in its vibe and offers a stunning view of the Tulip Garden.

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 12/16 by Krutarth Vashi
Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 13/16 by Krutarth Vashi

The Royal Suites drive you back to the traditional times and offers some beautiful view of the lake and the Aravalli mountain ranges.

The tariff starts from Rs. 20000/- per night during off season and around Rs. 35000/- per night during peak season. However, every single dollar you spend for your stay at the Palace is totally worth it. No one matches the hospitality and the services as that provided by Taj Hotels.

Best Time to Visit

Udaipur has a moderate climate all throughout the year, but it is best enjoyed from October to December when the weather is cool and lakes are brimming post monsoon.
However, if you want to enjoy the royal treatment of the Taj with comparatively less damage to your pocket, a summer holiday is what you should be looking at.
Udaipur is relatively cooler during summer days, kudos to the artificial lakes around which the city is developed.
Taj Lake Palace is the best option to spend your summer holidays as the tariffs are lower and less number of tourists visit Udaipur during these times.

Activities at Taj Lake Palace

1. Yoga Mornings

The best way to start the day is by practicing Yoga on the ope terrace as the first rays of the sun brighten up the space and fill a positive aura in the atmosphere.

2. Heritage Walk

Enjoy a heritage walk with the historians on board and listen to tales of the glorious era gone by while enjoying the complimentary glass of wine and snacks.

3. Sunset Boat Ride

Witness beauty of the City Palace as the skies change their shades from blue to orange making it a surreal spectacle.

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 15/16 by Krutarth Vashi

4. Enjoy the Cultural Performance

Get your feet thumping and your bodies swaying on the beats of Mridang and Manjeera as the artists perform before you breathtaking steps in Ghoomar and Bhavai.

5. Dine on a 150 year old Boat

Indulge in scrumptious delicacies as you dine like the royals on a 150 year old boat used by Maharanas and enjoy the serenity of Lake Pichola.

Photo of Experience a Royal Summer at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur   #summerescape #notinhills 16/16 by Krutarth Vashi

Things to do in Udaipur

City Palace: Explore the architectural marvel made of marble and granite offering splendid views of Lake Pichola

Vintage and Classic Car Collection: Go through the vintage car collection of the Maharanas which includes the 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom

Bagore Ki Haveli: Housing the world’s largest turban and various other artefacts, the haveli has a staggering 135 rooms and is a treat to the senses.

Click here to know more about the Venice of the East.

Udaipur has many tourist attractions as mentioned above. But, Taj Lake Palace itself presents you with so many offerings that you don’t feel like steeping your foot outside this floating marvel.

Taj Lake Palace is one experience you should definitely have in your lifetime. Yes, you will need to save up for 3-4 months, but the treatment, the hospitality and the service you will be offered is worthy to the single last penny.

Bhandardara Fireflies Festival

Imagine yourself passing through a dense forest in the middle of a quiet, dark new moon night. Apart from the rev of the vehicle engine, only thing you can hear is the chirping and the buzzing of the insects in the night. And from the woods, around the trees, you observe a glitter, which leaves you spell bound and make you think about the magical world we live in.

Lampyridae is the scientific name for family of winged beetles, which are commonly known as fireflies, are the lovely creatures which use bioluminescence to attract their mates. When 1000s and 1000s of fireflies, or ‘jugnus’ as referred to in Hindi, hover around your head in search of their mates, emitting glittering light, it creates a mystical and beautiful phenomenon, one which remains in your mind for the rest of your lives.

The fireflies are found in large quantities in and around the forests surrounding the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. Year on year, it draws large number of tourists and adventure enthusiasts from all around the country to witness this limited edition spectacle. Rajmachi, Purushwadi, Prabalmachi, Malshej and Bhandardara are the famous locations where firefly sighting is the highest in the months prior to the onset of the monsoon.

As the night sky took charge and the mercury dipped, all the eyes were now fixed on the windows as the bus took the serpentine turns up the hill towards the firefly sighting point. A thrilling experience in itself, roaming out in the pitch dark night, using only the sense of your judgment for the next step you take, out on trees, you see 100s and 1000s of fireflies, glowing and glittering at specific intervals as if they are practicing a routine in excellent synchronization.

After 3 dozen clicks and mud slain shoes, as we looked around the woods where we had set up the camera, we were left mesmerized and spell bound by the harmless little glowing insects, merry-making all around us. All that glitters is not gold, but this glitter definitely brings a smile to your face, sanity to mind and peace to heart.

Velas Turtle Festival

How many times it happens with you that you reach your journey destination and the first thing you do is this….

That was the 1st time ever in our life that we milk a buffalo and this marked a very good beginning of an eventful trip.

Where were we and why were we there?

We were at Velas, a rustic village situated on the western coast of India in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. Velas is one of the beaches where the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles come ashore every year and lay their eggs.

Since the odds of survivals of these creatures are 1 in 1000, the villagers with support of an NGO, Sahayadri Nisarg Mitra, took up the onus of conserving this unique species.

The eggs that are laid by the mother turtle on the beach are collected by the villagers and brought to a hatchery where they are incubated under a controlled environment so as to protect them from falling prey to predators.

And hence we were present on that very location to witness these tiny little hatchlings take giant steps towards the sea, out in the unknown and on their own.

The Turtle Hatchling Experience: What to Expect

The turtle festival was started back in early 2000s, but has gained a lot of popularity in the past 3-4 years, kudos to Social Media. There are many tour operators based out of Mumbai and Pune that organize a weekend trip to Velas to experience the hatchings.

Since the footfalls on weekends tend to reach around 500-600, being punctual is the key for an unperturbed view of the turtles making their route to sea. The volunteers check the hatchery twice in a day, 6.30 AM in the morning and 5.30 PM in the evening. Hence, make sure you reach there on time.

An important thing to keep in mind here is there is a significant distance of this hatchery from the sea.

The hatchlings are carried in the jute baskets till the cordoned area before releasing them, hence it is advisable that you reach the designated area before it gets submerged in the crowd rush.

The cordoned area from where turtles are released

If you are a photographer, be prepared to get your clothes go muddy, as you’ll be sitting/sleeping on the beach to get the perfect shot of the turtles going in the sea.

When form comes to life

Trust us when we say, despite the chaos when you see the tiny little reptiles crawl their way towards the ocean, it is an out of the world feeling.

Welcome to the world, little friend

The joy of watching them inch past the spectators is beyond what the words can express.

Now my adventure begins!!

The Rural Experience

In our opinion, one must take a break in a rural setting for a day or two. The environment itself will relax you up and shed half of your worries, tensions and work load.

Your day begins with chirping of these cute birds and you can complete your day of cardio while chasing these chickens back to their sty.

As seen earlier, milking a cow/buffalo and then having a cup of tea from that very milk will charge you up for the day.

Take a walk in the beautiful betel nut farms around the village and refresh up on the cool water from the well.

As the lunch time approaches, you feast upon an exquisite and authentic Maharashtrian cuisine. Cooked on wood fire, the flavours give that “dhungar” taste as you indulge in the platter. Our personal favorite was the Jackfruit Sabzi.

One of the finest meals ever

Travel Responsibly

As a foot note, we would appeal to all to be a responsible traveler basis our first hand experience. The tourism department are doing their fare share in promoting and spreading awareness regarding the Olive Ridley Turtles.

But it is the moral responsibilty of each and every person present there to observe and abide by the rules and instructions given by the volunteers there.

We observed that many tourists were trespassing the cordon in an attempt to go near the hatchlings. Some were even entering the ocean despite repeated warnings of not doing so for 15-20 minutes after the hatchlings enter the sea.

Our learning from the incident is that though promotion of eco tourism is necessary, there should be concrete steps taken to ensure hassle free experience. This could be as simple as limiting the number of footfalls per weekend. And it also is the utmost responsibility of the tourists to respect the rules and sanctity of the place while travelling. Enjoy responsibly.

Kaas Pathar

A UNESCO heritage site, a pure natural bliss stands a mere 7 hours drive from Mumbai. In the hills of Satara, Kaas Plateau boasts a huge variety of flowers that bloom in the period just after the monsoon bid adieu in the region.

Morning is the best time to view the flowers as they are have bloomed fresh in the cooler atmosphere. The dew drops on the petals give a soothing feeling to the eyes and definitely wears off your tire from the journey. And it is also the best time as not many tourists would have reached to the place.

Now, we are not much into botany and bio life, so we do not know the names of the flowers. But their beauty is par excellence. Especially when you see an ocean of the flowers all around you. Below given are a few photos that testifies the above statement.

Flora, Flora Everywhere!
Pink Revolution
In love with the shades
Surrounded by Flora
A bed of Yellow flowers, followed by a bed of Pink ones, the green shades of trees & blues of the skies.
Icing on the Cake: A Pond full of Water Lilies

Kaas Pathar – Entry Fees & Related Details

The entry fees for the visiting the park is Rs. 300 per person and is open from 7.00 AM in the morning to 5.00 PM in the evening. We got our tickets from the entry gate itself, however it is advisable to book your tickets online on their official website as sometimes they limit the number of footfalls if the tourists increase in number.

There is a short hike of around 1-1.5 km from the parking area and the entry gate of the plateau. You can either walk or use their transport facility. They have a few Tempo Travelers to ferry the passengers to the main gate, and charge a minimal of 10-20 bucks for the same. However, you must reach early, because once the crowd starts gathering, it takes a lot of time waiting in the queue and heat will tire you up.

Snacks & Refreshment Options

There are no restaurants or tea counters within the park. However, the locals there sell some authentic local snack items like Pithala-Bhakri, Buttermilk, Lemon Juice and Cucumber salad. We tried the Pithala-Bhakri, it was heaven early in the morning and gulped it down with a glass of lemon juice.

Pithala-Bhakri with the spicy Peanut Chutney

Best Time to Visit

The flowers bloom during September-October only and you will have to rely on your luck to see the bloom we saw. But it is worth taking a shot, although it is advisable to confirm with locals or the officials at the plateau.

That being said, it is a wonderful place to witness the beauty of nature.

Udaipur: The Venice of East

Nested on the shores of the stunning Lake Pichola and surrounded by the rustic Aravali ranges, Udaipur presents you the setting unmatched anywhere in India. It is the place that offers the calmness of a boat ride along with hustle-bustle of the market. The magnanimity of the palaces with the simplicity of street food and quaint old-world feel hotels with all the modern amenities.

Photo of Udaipur: Lakes, Palaces and more By Krutarth Vashi

Udaipur’s skyline offers a pretty romantic setting, right from the time you set your foot in the city. Fantastical palaces and havelis perched upon the banks of the man made lakes makes the city stand out in comparison with other cities of Rajasthan. Here are the list of things one can indulge in on their visit to the City of Lakes.

Experience the Royal aura at Taj Lake Palace

Taj Lake Palace, as the name strikes, visuals of a grand building floating in the middle of the lake will appear before your eyes. A grand welcome with a shower of rose petals and platter of refreshments is just the tip of the iceberg of the grand treatment to be followed.

Photo of Udaipur: Lakes, Palaces and more By Krutarth Vashi

Built as a pleasure palace by Maharana Jagat Singh II in the year 1766, the palace oozes grandness from every nook and corner. Magnificent courtyards, intricate architecture and elaborate interiors leave you in awe as you walk past them sipping on the finest of wines from the hotel bar, “Amrit Sagar”.

Photo of Udaipur: Lakes, Palaces and more by Krutarth Vashi

The restaurants Bhairo and Jharokha offer the most stunning views of the lake Pichola and the city palace as you indulge in the finest Continental and Rajasthani cuisine in the respective restaurants.

Photo of Udaipur: Lakes, Palaces and more by Krutarth Vashi

Spend your evenings enjoying the beautiful cultural dance and music performances in the King’s Courtyard. The grace and the swirl of the performers will leave you spellbound. That’s Incredible India for you!

Enjoy the Sunset Boat Ride with Surreal Shades of skies

Known as the Venice of the East, Udaipur is home to 7 artificial lakes created across the city. The best way to enjoy the beauty of the lakes is by taking a boat ride. Boating in the lake is open from morning 9.00 AM till evening at 6.00 PM, from the city palace. The best time to take the ride is around 5.00 PM, just before the sun is about to set, as you get the best shades of the skies during that time.

Photo of Udaipur: Lakes, Palaces and more by Krutarth Vashi

The boat ride would make a pit stop at the gorgeous Jag Mandir, the recreational palace of the king, and is also known to be the inspiration of the wonder called Taj Mahal. Of late, the palace is gaining popularity as the most sought-after “Wedding Destination.” From celebrities to industrialists to Hollywood stars, many have tied their Nuptial Knot at this very place. Besides this, Jag Mandir offers a marvellous view of the City Palace and Taj Lake Palace, shining brightly under the setting sun.

Get awed by the Grandeur of City Palace

The City Palace of Udaipur is the largest palace of Rajasthan and 2nd largest Palace of India after Mysore Palace. The construction of this humongous palace was spread across 400 years and 21 generations of rulers.

However, most significant contributions to the palace can be credited to Maharana Jagatsingh II and Maharana Fatehsingh. The quarters within the palace are interlinked through a number of courtyards and corridors and are planned in a way to avoid surprise enemy attacks.

The palace offers a splendid view of the Lake Pichola on one side and Udaipur city on the other side through the beautiful and colourful windows. And the post-sunset view of the palace is worth dying for.

Witness the amazing sunset at Sajjangarh Palace

Sitting on top of the hill, Sajjangarh Palace offers the best sunset view in Udaipur. Known as the Monsoon Palace, it was chiefly built to overlook the monsoon clouds and hence derived its name. The fort offers a panoramic view of the city’s lakes, palaces and the countryside.

Photo of Udaipur: Lakes, Palaces and more by Krutarth Vashi

But the USP of the place is mesmerizing sunset from the top of the palace. Overlooking the gorgeous Aravali ranges, observe the skies as they change the colour with each passing moment as the sun moves down towards the horizon.

Soothe your soul with lip smacking food

Udaipur is a food lover’s paradise. Rich in taste and extremely flavorful, the food takes you to another level of gastronomical pleasure.
Start your day with the amazing Kachoris, a flattened ball made of flour stuffed with either onion or moong dal. A tasty and heavy breakfast that will give you the energy to get through the first half of the day.

Photo of Udaipur: Lakes, Palaces and more by Krutarth Vashi

After the Kachoris you savoured in the morning are digested by the juices in your stomach, satiate your belly with the signature Dal Baati Churma. Soft and round Baatis, made from wheat flour and baked in clay oven, are served with Dal made from mixed lentils. The Baatis then crushed and poured with Dal, topped with dollops of ghee are to be savoured using your hands. It is a must try dish, recommended place in Udaipur is Krishna Dal Baati Centre.

Photo of Udaipur: Lakes, Palaces and more by Krutarth Vashi

Enjoy the Mirchi Wadas and Bread Pakodas at Manak Lalji in the evening, while sipping hot masala tea from kullads(earthen cups). It is nothing less than Nirvana.

Photo of Udaipur: Lakes, Palaces and more by Krutarth Vashi

After hogging all through the day, as the lights sparkle all across Udaipur, dent your teeth in the delicious Lal Maas. A spicy red mutton curry full of spices and oozing with the aroma, while viewing the lovely city glow by the lakeside, ending a lovely foodie day.

Unleash the shopping monster at local market

Just like another tourist place, Udaipur boasts a local market where you can unleash your shopping monster.

Photo of Udaipur: Lakes, Palaces and more by Krutarth Vashi

Choose from a wide range of souvenirs, clothes, artefacts, footwear, home decor items and traditional crafts work at the Hathi Pole Market. The market is so colourful, that it will tempt you to purchase everything available on sale.

With so much to offer, Udaipur is an ideal place to spend your vacation. Plan your next trip to Udaipur and get amazed by the royalty, the beauty and the calm of this lovely little place.

Neelakurinji – Must visit in Munnar, Kerala

The creator with his paint brush sprays magic on the canvas called earth time and again. And everytime you get a chance to witness that magic, you are left awestruck and spell bound. This is one such magic, which happens once every 12 years.

Neelakurinji – 12 years a bloom

The Neelakurinji, literally meaning blue flower, are a rare species of flower that have a maturity cycle of 12-16 years. When blooming at its peak, it engulfs the entire stretch of the hill in the carpet of blue. The Nilgiri Hills have thus derived their name.

Where to find?

The Neelakurinji are found in the southern part of India in the Nilgiri hills and western ghats. They are more prominently found in the valleys of Munnar in Kerala, since they require an altitude of 1200-2400 meters above MSL.

As one breezes past the beautiful tea estates in Munnar, you arrive at Eravikulam National Park, 10 km from Munnar town, one of the prime locations for the Neelakurinji flowering and is promoted by Kerala Tourism.

If you plan to go on a long weekend, make sure you book the tickets in advance online, as the National Park has a limit of 3000 people only per day. The park is open for public from 8 am to 4 pm.

When to go?

The last bloom of the Neelakurinji was recorded in 2006 and currently they are in full bloom at Munnar. As per the forest department, the flowering will remain till mid-October. So if you are planning to visit the flowers, visit them in the next 12 -15 days or wait for next 12 years.

Neelakurinji – The Experience

A worthwhile experience is on its way as you hike along the roads of Eravikulam National Park with the beautiful blue flowers blooming at your either side. As the cool winds blow through the flowers, it makes the sight even more soothing and refreshing.

Perched upon the hills, embracing in its arms, when you witness a carpet of blue, you get the feeling of Nirvana as the beauty of the place and magic of the nature makes a mark in your mind, body, heart and soul. And if you are lucky, you might be able to witness the endangered Nilgiri Tahr munching on the leaves and foliage around.

Image may contain: outdoor and nature

A must on the to-do list of nature lover, the flowers will make you feel obsessed with them.So much so that you’ll sign off from Munnar saying, “See you in 2030, Neelakurinji!”