Travel in India

Traveling to Incredible India: Keep it on the move!

“Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure!”

Travelling will change you like little else can. You will begin to understand that the world is both very large & very small….so let yourself loose,  go out there, explore the world….& don’t forget to ‘keep it on the move!’

The traveler calls for a new destination check-list! You’ve got to have a plan…well, we follow some of it & make up some more. Your list could have a wide array of things to do. Some of them could be budget weekend get-away & a few bumper plans!

Remember the thrill we felt at the end of last time when we said, “been there, done that!” ? so it’s time now for us to start afresh again & conquer all we want. Here’s to the happy feet that want to go places!

#1: visit your ancestral home.

A visit to ancestral home Photo credit: Blue Fox / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

A visit to ancestral home
Photo credit: Blue Fox / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Well, I won’t be wrong in saying that most of us haven’t even been there once. This time round, let’s go back to where it all began. Believe me it’s a journey worth the joys! Simple joys of taking your grandparents back there. They might never say it, but they all have loved to be there. The smile on those faces will light up your day & your scrapbooks! Practicalities have to be kept in mind though: watch the weather, plan your trip accordingly. Also carry enough supplies of purified water, insect repellents & camera batteries. You are sure to have a great one!

#2: Let the adrenaline rush in!

skiing in Auli Photo credit: Anuj Kumar Garg / Foter / CC BY-SA

skiing in Auli
Photo credit: Anuj Kumar Garg / Foter / CC BY-SA

Bring on some adventure. There is so much you could choose from….go skiing in Auli, bungee jump in Rishikesh, take a camel safari in the Thar desert, experience the Rann of Kutch,  you could try river rafting, or paragliding & if you have nerve enough, take a trek to the Himalayas.  The world’s your oyster!

#3: Natural therapy!

Ahouse-boat in Kerela

A house-boat in Kerala

If you are beginning to get sick of the mundane schedule around you & want to ease out, it’s time for you to experience nature’s rejuvenation therapy! For this, scenic destinations should be your pick. Go stay in a house-boat in Kerala, or try a shikara ride in the dal lake. Also the beaches of diu could be a good way to relax as you soak in some sun. Another popular favourite are the hills…cut out from the world & simply live in a cottage over the hills. Another good choice could be to take a cruise to Lakshwadeep. You owe yourself this treat.

#4: shop till you drop!

Take a shopping vacation & go bizarre. You got to do this once…call it indulgence or retail therapy, you’ll love it! There are shopping destinations to suit every pocket size. You could choose from street shopping in the narrow by-lanes of old Delhi, or a flea market on a moon-lit beach of Goa…Indian has options galore for shoppers. This isn’t about what you need, it’s about all that you want. So very simply, go out & fill your shopping cart. 🙂

P.S. it’s not just a girl thing….you guys do it too!

#5: take a ride in the time machine: your check-list must have at least one historical destination. For those of you who haven’t done the ‘Wonders of the World’, it should be first priority! This could be your bumper trip of the year. Visiting them will make you feel transported to the past. For others who want to start locally, Rajasthan, Hampi, Hyderabad, Khajuraho, Ajanta-Ellora, Mysore, Bodh Gaya & Konark the hot-spot. The Taj Mahal (obviously) tops the charts.

My personal recommendation would be Khajuraho.

#6: culture at its best:

da44b930d9db381179795a4d52bcdaccMake it a point to attend at least one cultural event this year. Being in a cultural hub like India, you’ve got a lot many options. It could be the Rann Utsav, the boat-race in Kerala, the Surajkund Mela or the Pushkar camel Fair. The Taj mahotsav & Basant panchami at shantiniketan are other popular choices. Your itinary could have visiting dummy-villages, trying out local food; you can shop for handicrafts, get henna on your hands & also send out postcards.

This could be a treat for all you travel photographers.

#7: Pamper yourself: Its hard work to survive in a world like ours…I totally get it. We all need to feel special. Treat yourself to a weekend at a Spa resort. There are plenty & more to choose from. Ananda resort is one of the popular ones & most beach towns have ayurvedic massage centers. However, there are several different choices & you could choose as per your budget. For people going over-sea, Turkey should be the place for this.

#8: Animal kingdom awaits you:

An elephant at havelock-island Pic Credit : Pinterest

An elephant at havelock-island
Pic Credit : Pinterest

Most travelers enjoy an encounter with nature’s beasts. This could be your reason to take a trip to a wildlife sanctuary or national park. India has a multitude of wildlife to offer. Visit the only natural Habitat of the Asiatic lions at Gir, or the tigers in Sunderbans, the rhino at Khaziranga or the elephants at Periyar. You could also try dolphin watching in the Chilka Lake or be on the lookout for migratory birds.

These trips require prior inquiries regarding the functioning dates of the sanctuaries & national parks. Reservations must be made in advance.

#9: highway is my way: yes, you’ve got to keep at least one slot free for a road trip. Be it for a weekend or a trans-continental one! It’s a totally different experience….check the maps, fuel-up your cars, pack your bags & hit the road. J

#10: journeys go on: you can be at two places in one time. Virtual travelling is what Im referring to. You could be back home & yet be on beach in the Bahamas, by the lake in Ladakh or in the narrow alleys of Varanasi. What takes you there? Travel books! Read about places, travelogues, photo essays or simply talk to other travelers.

Each of you also needs to do your own scrapbook with your travel accounts from various places. When you go through them on a later day, you relive it!

Just remember, “Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.”

An article by Shristi Singh.

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India, Travel in India

Backpack and Hit the Rough Routes

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Backpacking- To travel is to live
Pic credit: Pinterest

For some travelers it is the destination that matters, and for some it is the journey!

Backpackers are of the latter sorts! There are many reasons why people choose to take a backpacking trip. It is not just budget travelers who choose to do it, but rather people in search for an experience of the real. Backpacking in any country allows you to see past the superficial layers that exist in travel brochures. It leads you to encounter the soul of the county, beyond a typical bus.

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Backpacking- No place in Particular
Pic credit: Pinterest

The world is a crazy place to go backpacking and the sheer variety of countries and destination options means that you can travel for months and barely even scratch the surface of the world has to offer. Backpacking differs from typical tourist trips, starting with the amount it costs. For backpackers average accommodation is dirt cheap as you are on the lookout for the most basics.

Food is available to suit a variety of tastes and pocket sizes. With the variety of transport facilities, you can be sure to get to any parts across the world or locality, quite easily. If you are not a fan of moving around on two, get four. Hit the roads for a road trip, stop at all the small places and take Another highlight of backpacking, is the opportunity of meeting a multitude of people from varied walk of life, when you take the rough routes, you come to interact with the local people and get to know their native languages, food and also customs. People are happy to meet and talk to you, when you are one among them. This constant contact with people, despite language barriers, helps improve your social skills. You become street smart! A backpacker has to adapt and improvise as there is not always a fixed plan or routine! But on a backpack trip, it’s your own time and there is no late or rush, so you have the liberty to do whatever you like!

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Glow Sign- Let’s go anywhere
Pic Credit: Pinterest

Another fascination could be amazing culture and heritage. From art and craft to architecture, local delicacies to dialects; as a backpacker the world is your oyster. Get away from the humdrum of mundane life and venture into the unknown. It’s an experience in survival with bare minimum. You can wear the same clothes every day because nobody will ever know. Remember you are on the move! Click pictures and say, ‘been there, done that!’

All these different experiences (good and bad) just make you feel alive. To go beyond your own boundaries and discover the lesser known places and experiences which tell you so much about the destination and about yourself; that’s what backpacking is all about. The reward for those who take the back roads and are prepared to rough it; is an experience that is impossible to forget –an up close view of the land and its people and a real journey!

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Dream is to travel the world

Enjoy the rest of your journeys, for you have many left. So, keep few clothes & items for daily chores and let’s hit the Road.

Happy Traveling!

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Travel in India

Insight into Rann Utsav at Great Rann of Kutch

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Rann of Kutch
Photo credit: nandadevieast / Foter / CC BY

The stark beauty of the salt desert of Kutch is the backdrop for the colourful affair of the celebrations!

 

When it comes to counting colours, moods, moments & occasions, no other place in India, if not the world, is more versatile than Gujarat. Blessed with rare geographical diversity & rich flora & fauna, Gujarat also attracts tourists for its ethnic, colourful people.

There are a few things in life as colourful as the desert- hidden in these barren land is a riot of colours, reflecting in the people who live there. A highlight to this is the tribal community of the hauntingly beautiful Rann of Kutch, that remains committed to tradition, rituals, customs & of course, Festivals. Here is my attempt at familiarizing the intrepid traveller with one of Gujarat’s Biggest & most popular fair-festival: The Rann Utsav. This festive extravaganza is the highest tribute to the beauty & spirit of this glorious region that is known for enveloping the state in a frenzy that can put the best vocabulary to shame.

A unique geographical feature of Kutch is the Great Rann of Kutch, an expanse of about 30,000 sq km of salt desert & seasonal marshland that lies between the Gulf of Kutch & the Indus River. The area was once the shallows of the Arabian Sea before geological uplift closed off the connection of the sea, leaving behind a vast lake which turns into a desert.  

The Rann Utsav, an annual festival, offers an incredible opportunity to explore the Great Rann of Kutch & the Banni grassland to the north of Bhuj. In December-January, a huge tented village near Dhorodo village is set up by the Gujarat tourist authorities to accommodate tourists for the festival. As the evening shadows lengthen, camel carts are readied to take tourists into the salt flats & marshes of the Great Rann of Kutch. You can witness the brilliant sunset from the camel carts. After disembarking, trudge on the salt flats to enjoy a superb view of the white desert shimmering in the moonlight. The atmosphere is especially breathtaking on a full moon night. Food is served in the desert wilderness & musicians sing folk songs of the region, known for its Sindhi ‘bhajans’ & Sufi music.

Another unique experience of the Rann Utsav is the trip to Kala Dungar, literally Black Hills, of Kutch. The drive winds up the hill to the Dattatray Temple which has a singularly beautiful view of the vast expanses of the salt desert of the Great Rann of Kutch stretching towards the India-Pakistanborder. The surrounding scrub vegetation trills with the call of birds. When the priests of the temple call, ‘Lo-Aang’, packs of jackals come out from the scrubland to feast on the temple offerings laid out for them.

Dhorodo lies in the heart of the Banni grassland where pastoral villages produce some of india’s finest hand-embroidery with a variety of styles that differ from one community to another. You can tour the gamut of villages that dot the grasslands like Sumrasar Sheikh, Bhirendiaro, Hodka, Gorewali, Dhorodo, Ludia, etc. to watch women doing embroidery. You can stay at Shaam-e-Sarhad, an endogenous tourism resort in Hodka designed using local craft skills.

Northwest of Bhuj, the villages of Zura & Nirona are home to many lesser known craft skills. At both these places, it is possible to watch ‘luhar’ (blacksmiths) hand-casting melodic bells. These villages are also known for their lacquered woodcrafts. The folk art that is now limited to just one family is ‘rogan’, which involves an intricate process of creating colours by mixing pigments with castor oils. Southwest from Bhuj, Mundra is the centre for ‘namada’, the art of felting.  Dhamadka is a traditional centre for ‘ajrakh’ block-printing. For bold embroidery of the Ahir community, visit the villages of Dhaneti & Padhhar.

Together with craft villages & the unique salt desert landscape of the Great Rann of Kutch, the Rann & its adjacent Banni grasslands are delightful for bird watching. Flocks of flamingos & storks mingle about the pristine fresh-water lakes & salt marshes, along with a good number of larks, eagles, falcons & other raptors. 

A visit to Bhuj is an experience of its sorts. Though the 2001 earthquake devastated Bhuj & destroyed its grand palaces, it is still one of the best places to get an introduction to Kutch with fine monuments, museums & markets.

Tera at Kutch is a heritage village with a scattering of mosques, temples, stepwells, havellis & a medieval fort with Ramayan-themed frescoes inside. A notable feature of Tera’s havelis is the gateway- carved wooden doors framed by ornate stonework featuring Indian & western motifs.

The north western tip of Kutch, with its fortified villages, was once an important centre for sea trade & the villages here grew prosperous from the maritime activities.

The festival also features folk performances, competitions & handicraft demonstrations. Choose from excursions organised to various sites, from the archaeological site at Dholavira to the holy lake of Narayan Sarovar.

FACTFILE:

  • Dates: varying from last week of December to mid January.
  • Places to stay: Gujarat tourism sets up tented village at Dhorodo, Shaam-e-Sarhad or Rann Riders.
  • Must eat: Dhabeli, Gulab Pak & the Gujarati thali.
  • Must haves: powerful sunscreen & enough cash in hand.
  • Kutch is a shutterbug’s paradise, so a good camera is a must.
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India, Travel in India

“The Heart of India”- a trip to Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh has often been referred to as “the heart of India” and with a sense of the epithet. Not only does the state lie strategically in Central India- it is indeed an enigma, a region so vast, so diverse in culture & tradition and so rich in history that any visitor will be left spellbound by its magic. Charming colonial hill stations, wildlife parks, temple towns, historic cities, food streets, a calendar full of exciting festivals- Madhya Pradesh is indeed a state for all seasons. In whichever direction of the state you drive, you will be surprised by how gifted the region is.

The city that was praised to the skies for its forts & temple by Ibn Batuta (and much later, Warren Hastings), Gwalior, finds its charms in the chaos & commotion of the city. A city where Miya Tansen came from, Gwalior is a pilgrimage for art & history lovers. Ancestral capital of the Scindias, the city with its forts, palaces, temples, towers, canons & battlements are truly larger than life. The Gwalior fort is known to be the oldest surviving Hindu fort & dates back to 3rd century AD.

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Man Singh Palace
Photo credit: Carol Mitchell / Foter / CC BY-ND

Mysterious rocky silhouettes rise up into the velvet sky as ghats merge into the Satpura ranges. Soaring in glittering splendor, the marble rocks at Bhedaghat rise to a hundred feet on either side of the Narmada & provide the perfect reason to take a boat down the glistening water. Boating on a moonlit night is a MUST DO, when the whole stretch of water is transformed into a sheet of liquid silver is absolutely magical.

Dotted with hundreds of water bodies, Mandu becomes the countries romance capital in monsoons. The historic town of Mandu with its fantastic palaces still rings out loud with the story of love that has become the stuff of legends. Add to it the legend of Rani Rupmati & Baz Bahadur, and you have the recipe for a holiday full of drama.

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Jahaz Mahal, Mandu
Photo credit: Rahul Chhiber / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

A visit to the rock shelters of Bhimbetka is an experience of its kind. The rocks are situated approximately 45kms from Bhopal on the road to Hoshangabad. These rocks have paintings, some of which date back to the Mesolithic time, almost 10,000 years ago! It is also a UNESCO world heritage site. This could perhaps, give you a feel of time-travel.

If what you seek is an adventure in the wild, there are perhaps only a few places better than MP. Bandhavgarh, at the core of M.P.’s tiger belt, is a national park where you are likely to see more than just pugmarks. A must visit within the park is the Bandhavgarh fort. Elephant & open vehicle safaris are a good way to venture into the wild.

Sanchi is one of those places custom-built for black-and-white history text books. Known for one of the best conserved stupas, monasteries, temples & pillars in the world, dating from 3rd century BC to 12th century AD. There are a cluster of structures from the Ashokan period.

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Sanchi Stupa
Photo credit: Eileen Delhi / Foter / CC BY-NC

Orchaa, once the capital of the Bundela Rajputs, has a splendid collection of palaces, forts & temples sitting on the banks of the Betwa River and with a skyline consisting of chhatris that rise like apparitions from densely forested banks. There are 3 spectacular palaces on Orchha that stand fortified & the history of the town comes alive with the sound and light show in the evenings. The heritage town of Orchha is also where rafting safaris on the Betwa River are conducted.

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Orchha in Madhya Pradesh
Photo credit: Rita Willaert / Foter / CC BY-NC

Had it not been for the British soldier called Burt, we would have been deprived of this wonderful carnival in stone. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, Khajuraho group of temples built under the Chandelas, is a lot more than the erotic sculptures it is famous for. Today, only 22 out of 85 temples have survived the ravages of time, the walls of which depict a celebration of religion, love, joy & creativity; as a collective paean to the ultimate fusion of man with its creator. A sound-and-light show is also held daily when the temples come to life & it is bound to leave you gawking in admiration. Against the backdrop of the beautifully carved temples, ghunghroos resonate as leading dancers from India & the world over perform classical dances during the Khajuraho Festival of Dance.

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho (Photo courtesy : flickr/rossburton)

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho
(Photo courtesy : flickr/rossburton)

 

Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures (Photo courtesy: flickr/asianu)

Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures
(Photo courtesy: flickr/asianu)

Madhya Pradesh encourages the visitors to experience & indulge in not just culture and history, but also offers a great culinary and shopping experience. The street food capital of Madhya Pradesh, Indore is a shortcut to foodie heaven. Relish the flavours of MP, irrespective of whether you are a vegetarian or non-vegetarian, as in Indore, there is something for everybody. The most popular dishes are Bafla, Bhutte ki keesh & kababs. With a variety of sweets & savouries that the city offers, don’t be surprised if your jeans feel tight round your stomach after a guilt-free binge in Indore.  Ask a bhopali for Nawab-era food & you will be directed to nalli nehari, mutton samosa, sheermal & kababs. MP is also famous for Shahi Tukda, morena gajak, malwa shikanji and jalebi-rabdi….a sweet-tooth’s dreamland.

A must-buy while in MP are the locally made traditional handicrafts & the famous colourful Chanderi & Maheshwari sarees. A great place to go for shopping is Gwalior as the colourful bazaars of the city are perhaps the oldest in MP. For souvenirs you could pick items like lacquer ware, dolls, hand woven carpets, tribal jewellery & gun metal from MP. A popular pick would however be a miniature stone-carved replica of the sculptures of Khajuraho. Ujjain also has its own tradition of papier-mache work, and here you can find anything from decorative items to furniture.

The ‘jabua,’ right in the tribal heartland, is dominated by the Bhil tribe. Visit a weekly haat at any of these villages & meet local people. While at it, also look out out for tribal silversmiths & pick up rather attractive Bhil jewellery.

It is a state where the residents welcome visitors with open arms and are bound to make you feel at home. So, come & live the magic that is Madhya Pradesh. “Hindustan ka dil dekho”.

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Travel in India

Honeymoon Destinations in India

India is a land of diversity, it serves the purpose of all kind of excursions. India has hills to capture scenic beauty, beaches to rejuvenate with water, monuments to gain knowledge, adventure to live your life to the fullest, peace to seek contentment and list is never ending.
India gives u everything you wish for a vacation and especially when its with your loved ones. We all expect to have the best time when away for trips, but are we aware of the best destinations and their specialities ? And is it possible to inquire about a country’s all destination. We provide you with perfect aid to know about the best destinations.

“Honeymoon” is said to be the best time to know your partner by visiting new exotic places and spending time away from the standard busy schedule. Its the time to rejoice and feel the essence of togetherness,which is only possible if you have complimenting surroundings. Everyone dreams of a ten on ten place to gather memories for lifetime. Many people prefer visiting abroad, but have not explored their homeland to the fullest. India also provides with all kind of destinations and when it comes to honeymoon, it has a list of exotic places to provide proper ambiance for perfect time.

Lets discuss about the creme of creme destinations in India for a perfect pinch of love,memories and lifetime experience.

A. The Sandy Beauties of India

1. GOA

Goa is one of the the smallest state yet receives the highest number of tourists.Its exotic beaches attract people from all over the world.Not just its sandy beaches but Goa is also famous for its rich flora-fauna and sumptuous cuisines. Goa serves as a perfect destination for bachelors, trips with friends and exclusive for the newly married couples. The beaches at Goa creates romantic surroundings for the lovers. It provides the freedom to associate themselves with the magic of nature and the spark in their relationship, couples enjoy freedom, experience adventures like scuba diving,sea surfing and more to make your trip memorable. Goa is the multifaceted crown of India.

2. LAKSHADWEEP ISLANDS
The smallest Union Territory with the only coral reef in India. The Lakshadweep Islands are situated in isolation with serenity of The Arabian Sea. These Islands are least populated but have a rich variety of marine life. It beckons the newly wed couples to enjoy the spellbound beauty and to spend quality time together.

Other sandy beauties of India include Andaman and Nicobar Islands ,Pondicherry, Alleppey, Daman and Diu etc.

 

B. Mountains Call

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Shimla in Winter

 

1. Hills at Northern India (SHIMLA-MANALI-NANITAL)

These are the most famous hill-stations of India offering beautiful mountains,snow,valleys and remarkable culture.Almost every Indian couple has visited these hill stations to spend their honeymoon time. Shimla being the capital of Himachal Pradesh is surrounded by dense forests offering variety of oaks, pines and deodar which adds to the scenic beauty of Himachal. The hills, lakes, mall road and the tranquility of these places attract couples to capture moments for lifetime.Indian hill stations give memories worth cherishing.

C. Royal Heritage Walk  (JAIPUR- JAISALMER- JODHPUR)

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Amber Palace, Jaipur
(Photo credit: Himalayan Trails / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA)

Want to feel like like a Princess while out for honeymoon with the Prince of your life, visit the Royal destination of India. Jaipur has number of palaces and forts to explain the lives of the Kings of the historian period.Even the hotels and resorts of Jaipur are constructed in the manner of palaces to give your holiday the touch of Royalty.
Spending your honeymoon at a place like Jodhpur can make you feel as is if you have traveled back in time with your beloved. The mesmerizing beauty of these destinations invoke the feeling of being together in the midst of ancient cities. The Great Indian Desert of Rajasthan is one of the must visit places to experience the real beauty of sand,night and stars, the nights are beautiful and breathtaking with extreme climatic conditions. It makes you feel complete even in solitude.

D. The Southern Beauty 

1. KERALA
Kerala is a perfect destination for holidays, honeymoons,art,culture,health, Ayurveda and lots more.The captivating beauty of the lush greens and and beautiful beaches and wooden boats makes it as an ideal place to spend honeymoon. Kerala’s timeless beauty of the palms fringed beaches and mountainous areas like Munnar make it an all in one destination.Peaceful pristine environment with emerald green waters is the best place to relax and romance.Kerala is known for its romance as it has beach side resorts, sprawling hill stations, coconut plantations which provides a proper ambiance.

2. COORG

Coorg or Kodagu is entitled as “The Scotland of India” for its astonishing beauty. It is situated in the heart of Southern Indian Peninsula, the area is known for its coffee plantation. Food and coffee lovers can seek great pleasure from a Honeymoon spent in Coorg. The aroma fresh from the estates makes each morning beautiful.
Nature walks,guided watching trips, local attractions one of the most famous being The Abbey waterfalls makes the honeymoon more charged up with positivity flowing in the purity of relations.The Scots and Coorgs had many similarities from lifestyle to interests, that’s why Coorg is called the Scotland of India. Its an exclusive place for honeymooners.

 E. Paradise on Earth- KASHMIR & SRINAGAR

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Sunset in Kashmir
(Photo credit: Tony George / Foter / CC BY)

The places in India like Kashmir also contribute to the tourist attractions spot such as Srinagar , Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Kathua , Dal Lake, Jama Masjid, Dass (coldest Inhabited place),Shalimar Garden garden to name a few . Kashmir is known as heaven/paradise on earth, the snowy atmosphere, romantic shikara rides at Dal Lake make it as one of the most popular honeymoon destinations. The stay at Royal Houseboats offers romantic surroundings.
Gulmarg is famous for winter sports like skiing and ice skating there.Poets define Kashmir as “Emerald set in pearls”it is the nature’s bounty which treats ones soul.Want to experience love and peace in midst of water,snow,hills and greenery, visit Kashmir and Srinagar.

F. Epitome of Love- Agra

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Epitome of Love

These are just a few destinations for an ideal honeymoon, India offers much more variety. Its beauty cannot be described in words. India has the perfect epitome of love “Taj Mahal” in Agra, it is one of the wonders of the world, defines the power of love and simplicity. A must visit place for the honeymooners.

So, There are many places for a newly wed couple to go and explore. India provides many places for each different taste of honeymooners.

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