There's a nip in the air but also a sharp sun that could burn your skin in half a day. On some days, the sky would be overcast leaving you longing for summer. Yet, so many of us levitate towards the Himalayan mountains during winter, which sets in November and extends its wintry spell till February. We feast our eyes on snowfall, which settles like dewdrops on the leaves. The tall conifer trees are clothed in pristine white snow. The otherwise shimmering lakes are covered with a sheet of snow. The trees are lulled into a snowy slumber. Somewhere in the horizon, a flickering light hints at some activity in a quaint cottage. The occasional snow leopard may be spotted. Moving beyond a visually compelling scene, the Himalayan winter would mean a lazy morning, followed by a skiing session to whet one's appetite, some adventure tourism and mountaineering challenges. The silence of the winter becomes a stress buster. With very little activity to look forward to, tourists can use the opportunity to mingle with the locals and perhaps partake in a wedding conducted in the Himalayan valley. These highlights are packaged as winter attractions for an emerging market. Summer is considered the peak season and winter, the not-so-desirable off-season. Nevertheless, since it is less crowded, many tourists prefer off-season tours. Hotel bookings happen easily and offer a discount. So where should you head this winter? Here are a few options.
Shimla It's easy to understand why the British described Shimla as the Queen of Hills. It's not just the Tudor-Bethan and Neo-Gothic architecture or the Kalka-Shimla railway, but its winter sports capital Kufri, which is a crowd puller. Kufri, a ski paradise, is at a height of 8,600 ft. Located 16 km from Shimla, its skiing season peaks from January-February. As families engage in skiing sessions, children can enjoy a Pony or Yak ride. For that sense of excitement, individuals can try their hand at ice-skating, popularized as a winter sports festival, conducted by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation. It covers the skating carnival organized by the Ice-skating Club during mid December-January. Shimla can be singled out in Asia for having a natural ice-skating rink and offers a popular pastime to participants and onlookers.
Nainital Lord Barron, a Briton, is credited for discovering Nainital in 1841. Today, it is identified as the jewel of Kumaon in Uttaranchal, and unfolds as a placid lake protected by lofty peaks. In Indian mythology, it is deemed as one of the 64 Shakti Peeths. A winter holiday in Nainital leaves you spellbound. It becomes an unforgettable romantic interlude. It springs to life as Tourism Department of Uttar Pradesh organizes a Winter Festival around now. The Kumaon Festival which is part of it, offers a cultural bonanza. During winter, you can take a horse ride through this picture postcard town, most of whose activities revolve round the lake. The adventurous lot can set up winter camps, as the temperature remains between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius from December-March. Wildlife lovers can see winter aquatic fauna at the Corbett National Park, situated in Ramnagar in Nainital.
Manali Manali is surrounded by fruit orchards, deodar and pine forests and hot water springs. It is characterized by towering peaks, which give it a proximity to the snowline. This along with a breathtaking landscape, becomes a perfect backdrop for adventure sports like skiing, hiking, mountaineering, paragliding, rafting, trekking, kayaking and mountain biking. Manali's annual winter sports carnival, held in January, has acquired the status of a state level festival. Sports lovers across nationalities participate in Heli Skiing. A high altitude sport, it gives you the much-required adrenalin rush. After the helicopter lowers you on a snow-capped peak, you can criss-cross your way downward through excellent natural slopes. Nevertheless, you would have to negotiate the unknown routes and ridges that fall in the area abound by the Hanuman Tibba, Rohtang Pass, Deo Tibba and Chanderkhani Pass near Manali. Once you land and soak in the picturesque snowline, you can also try your hand at mountaineering organized by the Mountaineering Institute at Manali. It offers training facilities for basic and advance climbing for aspirants. This institute also conducts adventurous sports activities like high altitude trekking, minor mountaineering, rock-climbing, skiing, and high altitude rescue and relief courses.
Darjeeling Darjeeling, framed in several Bollywood films, was founded by the British in the late 1830s and it has evolved into a fashionable hill station. Come Diwali and tourists can get a glimpse of how Darjeeling ushers the festival of lights, called Tihar. Youngsters dress in traditional costumes, and go from door to door expressing themselves through song and dance before sunset. Besides Diwali, Darjeeling brings to mind well-manicured tea estates and that is precisely what you can experience in December through a Tea and Tourism Festival. Tourists can taste the first flush tea served in manicured tea gardens. Besides a guided tour of the tea factories, tourists will also sample local cuisine at the carnival. The festival also packs in adrenalin pumping sessions like para-gliding and zorbing balls. With a temperature that ranges from 2 to 10 degrees, Darjeeling is perfect for a 'White Christmas.'
Mussourie Located 34 km from Dehradun, Mussourie is situated at an altitude of 6000 ft in the Garhwal hills. Mussourie is a unique winter escapade, as the winter line forms here. Besides Switzerland, Mussoorie is the only other place in the world, which experiences the winter line. This natural formation is visible during November and December. Tourists can see a horizon illuminating the sky in brilliant tones of reds, orange, purples and mauves, when the sun begins to set. As winter advances, the shade deepens and the line becomes more pronounced, giving it a spectacular hue, unknown to other hill stations in India. This amazing sight is accompanied by chill and strong winds. Winter, which starts in late October and stretches till mid-February, transforms Mussourie into a fairyland. A specially recommended activity in Mussourie during winters is to go in seach of that perfect cup of hot chocolate to sip in front of a fireplace. With quaint restaurants all along the Mall Road, it ensures that you stay warm while explore the town as well.
A popular hill station situated between Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra, Lonavala is known for its natural beauty and salubrious climate. Along with its twin town Khandala, Lonavala offers respite for those wishing to make a quick escape from Mumbai and Pune. Situated at a height of 625 meters above sea level, Lonavala is 110 km from Mumbai and 60 km from Pune.
History Lonavala derives its name from the Sanskrit word Lonavli which means caves. The host of caves like Bhaja, Bedsa and Karla, is believed to have helped the city gets its name. Because of its strategic location, various dynasties have vied for control of Lonavala and surrounding regions. Lonavla was a part of the Yadava dynasty which ruled the region from its capital at Devgiri. It was controlled by the Mughals too. Several forts including Lohagad, Tung and Tikona were handed over by Shivaji to the Mughals under Treaty of Purandar. Several forts in the region were important battle stations during the reign of Shivaji and subsequent Maratha rule. Lonavla and Khandala hill stations were discovered by Lord Elphinstone, the then Governor of Bombay Presidency in 1871.
Culture All festivals including Diwali, Holi and Navratri are celebrated with traditional pomp and gaiety in Lonavala. The New Year too is celebrated with much fervor. Ganesh Chaturthi and Krishna Janmashtami are also celebrated.
Once used as settlement for penal punishment, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands today have become a big tourist attraction. Nature lovers throng the island for its clean environment, roads, greenery as well as unpolluted fresh air. The tropical rain forests and waters of Bay of Bengal are the home to a vast collection of plant, animal and marine life. Topographically, the islands are hilly in places fringed with coconut palm, covered with tropical jungle and interspersed with flat stretches of crescent shaped beaches. A marvelous mix of nature's most precious delights, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a once in a lifetime holiday experience.
History Since pre-historic times, these islands have been the home of aboriginal tribes. The British first settled here in 1789 only to abandon it in 1796. The second settlement was basically a penal settlement, taken up in 1858, after the First War of Indian Independence, followed by the settlement of convicts, some criminal tribes from Central and United Provinces, refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan andSri Lankaas well as ex-servicemen. A clear history of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands can be had only from a British Survey of these islands conducted in 1777. The islands remained the abode of the Negritos and the Mongoloids respectively, who occupied it for centuries. These islands remained secluded from the mainland till the end of 18th Century when people from the outside world first arrived. The history of these islands could be divided into three broad periods the period of seclusion and piratical disturbances a) the British regime - a period of foreign intrusion and settlement b) the Japanese regime c) and the Post-Independence period. The early history of Nicobar is not well known although these islands were familiar to traders in ancient times, the islands being situated close to the trade route to the Far East. Though little is known about Portuguese activities in these islands, it is evident that the Portuguese missionaries started preaching Christianity among the islanders. The Nicobarese language also reflects a few Portuguese words.
Culture Andaman and Nicobar Islands have an unique culture, where all religions, languages, ethnic groups live in total peace and harmony and hence it is rightly called Mini India. Port Blair has a cosmopolitan character where people of all walks of life live together. All major festivals are celebrated with equal zeal and fervour and attended by all religious groups. THINGS TO DO Andaman Water Sports Complex: This unique complex offers all possible aqua-sport facilities like Water-skiing, Sail boats, Windsurfing, Speed Boats etc., and safe water sports like Paddle Boats, Row Boats etc. There is a sea water swimming pool and a change room. There is also a Memorial for the Battle of Aberdeen fought between British and Andamanee aboriginals in 1859. Nearby is an Amusement Park and a children traffic park is adjacent to it. Snorkeling: One can enjoy the under-water marine life and view the rarest varieties of corals by snorkeling in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Carbyn's Cove Tourism Complex, Havelock and other islands on all days from dawn to dusk depending on the weather. Island Camping: Camps are just the right choice for the nature-lovers who wish to enjoy the sun, sea and the pristine beauty of nature by spending quiet holidays right on the beach. Tents are available on hire at all the Guest Houses at moderate rates. Scuba Diving: Diving in Andaman waters offer a fascinating world of under-water marine life, varieties of colorful fishes, rarest of the coral reefs in the world, mysterious remains of sunken ships etc. All these can be explored through SCUBA diving. Trekking: One can go trekking through the nature trail from Mt. Harriet to Madhuban and enjoy the rare forest life, flora and fauna. There are other trekking routes also; Trekking equipment and the tents are available on hire from Andaman Teal House.
Delhi has been the seat of power for several rulers and many empires for about a millennium. The city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt here. Interestingly, a number of Delhi's rulers played a dual role, first as destroyers and then as creators. A combination of ancient and modern beauty, Delhi is one of the largest cities of India. The city is a bucket of rich culture, ancient monuments, mass diversity and many more. It's a complete tourism hub for the visitors. It enlightens the heart with every passing monuments, forts, markets and colorful people all around. Delhi is a city that bridges two different worlds. Old Delhi, once the capital of Islamic India, is a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with crumbling havelis and formidable mosques. In contrast, the imperial city of New Delhi created by the British Raj is composed of spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing government buildings. The city's importance lies not just in its past glory as the seat of empires and magnificent monuments, but also in the rich and diverse cultures. In Delhi, you will discover that the city is sprinkled with dazzling gems: captivating ancient monuments, fascinating museums and art galleries, architectural wonders, a vivacious performing-arts scene, fabulous eating places and bustling markets. Delhi has been the political hub of India. Every political activity in the country traces its roots here.
History Delhi, the capital of India has a strong historical background. It was ruled by some of the most powerful emperors in Indian history. The history of the city is as old as the epic Mahabharata. The town was known as Indraprastha, where Pandavas used to live. In due course eight more cities came alive adjacent to Indraprastha: Lal Kot, Siri, Dinpanah, Quila Rai Pithora, Ferozabad, Jahanpanah, Tughlakabad and Shahjahanabad. Delhi has been a witness to the political turmoil for over five centuries. It was ruled by the Mughals in succession to Khiljis and Tughlaqs. In 1192 the legions of the Afghan warrior Muhammad of Ghori captured the Rajput town, and the Delhi Sultanate was established (1206). The invasion of Delhi by Timur in 1398 put an end to the sultanate; the Lodis, last of the Delhi sultans, gave way to Babur, who, after the battle of Panipat in 1526, founded the Mughal Empire. The early Mughal emperors favoured Agra as their capital, and Delhi became their permanent seat only after Shah Jahan built (1638) the walls of Old Delhi. From Hindu Kings to Muslim Sultans, the reins of the city kept shifting from one ruler to another. The soils of the city smell of blood, sacrifices and love for the nation. The old 'Havelis' and edifices from the past stand silent but their silence also speaks volumes for their owners and people who lived here centuries back. In the year 1803 AD, the city came under the British rule. In 1911, British shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi. It again became the center of all the governing activities. But, the city has the reputation of over throwing the occupants of its throne. It included the British and the current political parties that have had the honour of leading free India. After independence in 1947, New Delhi was officially declared as the Capital of India.
Culture Delhi is the traditional and present day capital of India. Delhi stands in a triangle formed by the river Yamuna in the east and spurs from the Aravali range in the west and south. Delhi is not only the largest commercial centre in Northern India, but also the largest centre of small industries. The IT sector, handloom, fashion, textile and electronic industry contribute a lot to Delhi's economy. Delhi is bounded by four states namely Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab that have a strong influence on the lifestyle of Delhi. Delhi is a cosmopolitan city where people are open to embracing new ideas and life style. People from all parts of the country live here. All major festival of India is celebrated and the Unity in Diversity is evident in social and cultural gatherings. Be it Holi, Diwali, Id, Guru Purab, Buddha Purnima or Christmas, you will find the same vigor and bliss among people from different communities. Delhi, as you would agree after reading the History does not have its own unique culture or identity. The art and culture seen are main influences from the diverse artists and craftsmen that have settled in this city through centuries and thus the city boasts of its rich art heritage and certain values seen in their lifestyle, art, craft, music and demography. Since it is the capital of India, it homes many art galleries and cultural programmes and events that marks the uniqueness of this city and enhances its attraction. Art and culture have a strong influence over Delhi since the period of Mughals reign when art like intricate carvings, architectural designs and paintings were priceless and worth seeing. The Mughals would invite Persian artists to weave their Palace carpets and craft Metal into beautiful shapes and structures. Delhi is a dynamic city that is flexible and adaptable. But that does not mean the city has lost its connection to its roots-its culture. The basic character of the city has remained same over the years. Delhi has this uncanny habit of blending itself with different cultures without losing its own color. Perhaps this is what has survived the culture of Delhi despite various outside influences in the past. New Delhi has been a part of a rich and varied culture. The old city of New Delhi boasts of rich legacies of the time when Mughals were great patrons of arts and crafts. To know more about the culture of New Delhi view the popular classical dance forms at the Kamani Auditorium or Siri Fort of New Delhi. Many dance and music festivals are organized at every corner of the city of New Delhi. Delhi has a mini India feel to it. People from different corners of the country have come and made Delhi their home. The culture of Delhi, thus, is liberal and tolerable. People from different parts of India live in peace and harmony in the capital and practice all their customs and rituals without any hindrance. This is reflected in various fairs and festivals that are celebrated in Delhi.
Cultural events in Delhi India's calendar of festivals draws upon the nation's Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian communities, with a sprinkling of non-religious festivals thrown in for good measure. Most will be celebrated to some extent, somewhere in Delhi. Republic Day, a week of celebration kicks off on 26 January, with a military parade along Raj path. A guard of honor stands to attention at Raj Ghat on Martyr's Day, 30 January, to commemorate the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
Pragati Maidan Various Trade Fairs are being organized throughout the year. States have found their permanent stalls here with their products and merchandises. Aiming at entertainment for the children, Appu Ghar Amusement Park, has been founded, open from 12-00 to 20-00. Open from 12-00 to 20-00.
Connaught Place One of Delhi's most popular shopping centers built as early as 1931 there is nothing that one cannot buy here and it also has several eating houses.
Janpath Janpath is one of the busiest roads in New Delhi. Many star hotels are located in Chanakyapuri.
Chandni Chowk It was the eyes and ears of the Mughal's commercial instincts and is today one of the country's best known wholesale markets for textiles, electronic goods and watches. The entire area was designed by Jahanara Begum, Shah Jahan's favourite daughter and was then inhabited by the well-to-do families of that time. There is however a word of caution and that are that there are several elements that are believed to be selling duplicate goods and the tourist needs to be careful about this.
Dilli Haat Food and Crafts Bazaar, opposite INA Market, is a one-stop shopping place for tourists, which not only offers various arts and handicrafts of India, but also a taste of the ethnic cuisine. Visitors can also witness the different performing arts of the country.
Rangdum situated 3657 m above the sea level, Rangdum valley is an elliptical expanded plateau surrounded by colorful hills on the one side and glacier encrusted rocky mountains on the other. Rangdum Valley is located at the remotest and most isolated region the Suru valley. Midway between Kargil and Padum (Zanskar), it is a popular night stay for the trekkers to Padum. Panoramic surroundings make it a convenient and foremost choice for camping in the forests of Himalayas and yet being near a road as a precautionary measure. As the sun sets, the ethereal beauty of the valley turns itself to the extreme with flame-colored hills wearing shimmering red snow tops as their crowns. An important trekking base, Rangdum offers 5-day trek Henaskut across the Kanji valley gorge, which is very popular along with shorter treks such as hike up the Penzila Ridge opposite the magnificent Drang-Drung glacier.
Rangdum Valley Attractions
The Rangdum Gompa of Ladakh is situated near the Zanskar region. A major attraction of the area, the monastery dates back to the 18th century, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery belonging to the Gelugpa sect,. The Ladakh Rangdum Gompa towers above a centrally rising hillock, entrenched around by the bifurcated course of a mountain stream. It houses approximately 40 monks and looks like an ancient fortification that stands as the guardian of a spiritual mountain valley. The villagers that stay around the Rangdum Monastery of Leh Ladakh are the descendents of the serf-tenants of the monastery. They do not own any land, since, the entire valley including the fields tilled by the villagers- the pastures, hills and even the streams, is the property of the monastery. One of the major attractions of the monastery is its small museum. It boasts of a rich collection of fascinating Tibetan as well as other relics. The Rangdum Monastery of Leh Ladakh owns the entire valley around it, comprising of the fields tilled by the villagers, the pastures, hills and even the streams. The villagers staying around the monastery are the descendents of the serf-tenants of the monastery and do not have any land of their own.
Parkachik glacier (90 km south of Kargil) in the Nun-Kun slopes is another major trek site near Rangdum. Lingshet Monastery, located south east of Rangdum, is among the oldest monasteries of Leh-Ladakh. Trekking Route To Hinaskot/Henaskot
Rangdum also serves as an important trekking base. The most popular trek from here leads to Henaskut (also spell as Hinaskot) near Lamayuru, across the spectacular gorge of the Kanji valley. This 5-day trek also forms the last leg of the two weeklong trans-Himalayan traverse between Kashmir and Ladakh . A more adventurous trek from here leads to Kishtwar via the glaciated Valley – a virtual circumlocution of the Nun-Kun massif. Among the shorter treks available, the best is a hike up the Penzila Ridge to camp for a night or two opposite the majestic Drang-Drung Glacier. This rather easy walk offers breathtaking views of the Great Himalayas towards the West.
The forts in Goa offer journeys into the past, when easterners and westerners fought to take over this beautiful piece of land. Be it the wonderful Portuguese architecture or the equally enchanting Indian one. With a history that speaks of several rulers, it is little wonder that one finds forts in Goa. Certain witnesses of the past, in form of forts, still remain. There are a few forts in Goa that have stood the test of time and have a lot to say of the years gone , the forts of Goa are a must see. Chapora Fort The Portuguese had won their rule in Goa but the threat from the Muslim and Maratha rulers went on. To protect themselves from this risk, the Portuguese built the Chapora fort in 1617. However, unlike the Aguada fort, this fort did not remain unconquered. The Portuguese troops surrendered to the Maratha ruler, Sambhaj in 1684. But the locals were not too pleased with this and had a number of conflicts with the Marathas and finally in 1717, the Marathas withdrew their force. The Portuguese then took over again and rebuilt the fort. The new structure of the fort was equipped with underground tunnels that ensured a safe getaway in case of an emergency. But this glory was not for long. As again in 1739 the Marathas captured the Chapora fort. However, two years later, in 1941, the Portuguese regained the fort when the northern taluka of Pednem was handed over to them. However, the Portuguese completely abandoned the fort In 1892. And what remains today are only ruins. Though, there isn't much to see, the history lingers on.
Cabo de Rama Having links with the greatest Hindu epic, Ramayana, Cabo de Rama, is a place of great interest. It is believed that Lord Rama, while on exile, stayed at this place along with his wife Sita. The fort was owned by the Hindu rulers until the Portuguese took over and acquired it. They built a chapel, which is still in use, but the fort now lies in ruins. The white chapel and the black fort provide a striking contrast and emanate a mystical presence. Having seen many gruesome battles, the fort was the central jail till 1955, after which it was abandoned.Cabo de Rama is situated in Canacona, the southernmost part of Goa, and buses or taxis can be hired from Margao to reach here. Tiracol Fort Goa The Tiracol Fort in Goa looks as if it has come out alive from a fairy tale. Now this fort has been converted into a heritage hotel. A beautiful little Goan church dominates the central court around which the fort of Tiracol rises: a living church full of light and quiet elegance. Cross the court and walk up the narrow stone stairs through short passages into split level rooms which follow the contours of the headland: old furniture, superb views over the river Tiracol and the beaches and out to the blue horizon of the sea. The Portuguese had sailed in from there, established themselves in the old conquests like this one, taken over an existing outpost, converted it to a fort to repulse the latest technique of attack.
Aguada Fort Goa Fort Aguada is strategically situated at the estuary of the river Mandovi, this fort was constructed in 1612 as a guard against invasions from the Dutch and the Marathas. The walls of this fort are 5 mts high and 1.3 mts wide. Little surprise then that this remains to be the only fort that was not conquered by any invaders during the 450 yearlong rule of the Portuguese empire. “Agua” in Portuguese means water, thus the fort derived its name “Aguada” to denote a place where water is accumulated. The area around the fort housed a large well and a number of springs that provided fresh drinking water to the voyagers that arrived by ship. An interesting feature in the majestic fort is a 13 mt high lighthouse. This lighthouse, built in 1864, initially used an oil lamp. It was later renovated and modernised in 1976. This lighthouse was home to a gigantic bell that was retrieved from amongst the ruins of the St. Augustus monastery at Old Goa. However, the bell has now been moved to the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception church at Panaji. Though the entire fort is no longer intact, some buildings that are still in good shape have been converted into a prison. Interestingly, it happens to be the largest prison in Goa. En route to the fort, one comes across the church of St. Lawrence, the saint of the sailors. The Portuguese used to build churches on the outskirts of the forts to prevent the enemy from firing at a close range.
Mormugao Fort in Goa This fort near the internationally famous Marmagoa Harbour was built to protect the harbour situated near the Vasco da Gama town. Its work started in 1624. It covered an area of six miles in circumference, contained towering bulwarks, three magazines, five prisons, a chapel and quarters for the guard. It had 53 guns and a garrison with 4 officers, and was an important fortress on the western coast. Unfortunately, except the chapel and a portion of the boundary wall, little is left of this fort.
The fort was converted into a jail after the withdrawal of the Portuguese. Entry to the jail premises is restricted. However, those who get permission to visit the jail get an excellent view of the Arabian Sea. Reis Magos Church, dedicated to St. Jerome, is just below the walls of the fort. What make the fort more attractive are its black bastions.
Cabo Fort Raj Bhavan An imposing structure stands opposite the Aguada fortress; this is the Cabo Palace Fortress, or the Cabo Raj Bhawan. Supposed to be built in 1540, this fort is amongst the most beautiful Portuguese architectures in Goa and was used for guarding the coast in the past. The fort also has a convent made for the Franciscans and a chapel dedicated to our Virgin Lady of The cape (Nossa Senhora do Cabo), built at the end of the site, providing a landmark for the seafarers in the olden days. Now, the fort is the official Residence of the Governor of Goa and visits are only possible through special appointment.