Posted by: getaway2india | January 17, 2013

Shimla – The Switzerland of India

Himachal Pradesh is a state in north-western part of India, and offers much for those looking to experience the Himalayas. While it does not claim the highest peaks in the range, there is plenty to do aside from mountaineering. Its name literally means “Adobe of snow”.

Shimla in the Snow

Shimla in the Snow

Shimla is the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. It is a very popular holiday-retreat during the summer months and is well-known for its Victorian architecture, which is reflected in certain areas of the Mall and The Ridge. It is also a famous holiday spot for honeymoon.

There are quite a few theories regarding the origin of the word Shimla. Locals insist that the name originates from Shyamali Devi, a re-incarnation of the fearsome Goddess Kali.

Location of Himachal Pradesh in India

Location (in red) of Himachal Pradesh in India

Shimla is about 8000ft up on ridge between two hills. The British designated the town as the summer capital of India. The higher levels of the town reflect this British connection, comprising mostly buildings in the Victorian style, while the lower slopes are occupied with Indian bazaars and restaurants. Traffic is banned from the historic central area, (known as the Mall) which means that the atmosphere is calm and the air pristine

Map of Himachal Pradesh

Map of Himachal Pradesh

 Sitting majestically above the searing plains, this spur has a pretty much flat top and it was on this that the Brits decided to build their town and they put up about 180 buildings to house the 7000 or so administrators. Every spring this great phalanx of personnel would take to the hills and the whole of India would then be run from Shimla, only to descend again at the end of the summer.  Today it takes only a few hours to travel up from Kalka, before the railway it took 17 days so it was a major effort.

Shimla in the Snow

Shimla in the Snow

Main attraction of Shimla is its cool climate and snow (during the winter) so to visit during the winter is good option to take advantage not only of off-season prices but also skiing, to experience snowfall, etc. Do note that chilly weather could pose problems to small children and they would be reluctant to walk long distances. Shimla at its wintery best is good for grownups and excellent for couples on honeymoon.

Shimla Map

Most of the residents are from the Pahadi community (the natives of Himachal Pradesh), but there is also a sizable minority from Punjab and Sindh, who moved to Shimla during the partition. As a result, the languages spoken in Shimla include Hindi, Punjabi, Pahadi and also English.

Cart Road runs south of the Mall and is connected to it via the lifts. The Ridge, north of the Mall, is a good place to view the the seven majestic hills of Shimla. Further along the same road is Lakkar Bazaar, which is a good place to buy some handicrafts and other souvenirs.

Snow Fall in Shimla

Snow Fall in Shimla

Climate

Located at an altitude of approximately 2,200m above sea level, Shimla’s cool climate is the precise reason why it is such a popular summer retreat. Temperature varies between – 7 degrees C in the winter to 30 degrees C in the summer. Quite a few visitors choose to visit Shimla during spring or autumn, when the place is less crowded and the views are too spectacular for words. Then there is also the Shimla Winter when it snows. Shimla snowfall is wondrous event. It is an experience in itself. It will transport you to a fairytale place where anything can happen.

In fact Shimla has to be visited 4 times –  once in Spring, once in Summer, once in Autumn and then in the Winter and have four completely different experiences.

Shimla Season Summary 

Season Months Temperature & Conditions
Spring March-April 10°C to 20°C  Clear skies. Occasional rain and thunderstorms.
Summer May- June 16°C to 28°C  Generally clear skies. Air might become         smoky due to forest fires.
Monsoon July-September 13°C to 20°C  Cool and humid. Continuous rain.
Autumn October-November 10°C to 23°C  Skies are clear, chilly evenings.
Winter December-February -7°C to 10°C    Generally dull weather. Frequent snowfall.

Getting In:

By Train (the most economical, most picturesque and the most grandest mode)

Delhi to Kalka = 4Hrs (Shatabdi Express) to 7 Hrs

and from Kalka to Shimla via the mountain train = 4Hrs to 6 Hrs

Total (7+4 = 11) about 11 Hours minimum.

Heritage Bridge No 541

This Mountain railway track has recently been granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The view is stunning, with the line passing through an amazing 103 tunnels.

The fastest way to get to Kalka by Train is to catch the Shatabdi Express, which departs early morning from the New Delhi Railway Station, arriving at Kalka four hours later. A detailed list of trains between Delhi, Kalka and Shimla is available at www.indianrail.gov.in . Chandigarh is closer to Shimla than Delhi.  So if you are flying in –  its better to get down at Chandigarh than Delhi. You can also choose to get off at Chandigarh (en-route to Kalka), and catch a taxi from there.

Special trains are also run during the holiday season. Visit the Indian railways website www.indianrail.gov.in for the latest update on timings and services.

From Kalka there 6 different types of Train services:

  1. Kalka Shimla Mail,  – (Economical & Old, avoid) – 6 Hrs
  2. Himalayan Queen,   – (Economical, New, Popular) – 6 Hrs
  3. Deluxe Rail Motor Car    – (Deluxe) – 4.25 Hrs
  4. Shivalik Deluxe Express  – (Deluxe) – 4.45 hrs
  5. Shivalik Palace Tourist Coach – (Premium)
  6. Shivalik Queen Tourist Coach – (Premium)

1> On reaching Kalka, walk towards the engine of the Kalka mail and then turn right. All toy trains stand there. 101 stands in wait for passengers at the rightmost track.
2> A ticket checker will be at the door of 101. Therefore, keep your tickets handy.
3> This train does look like a bus with a seating capacity of just 14 people. You will be very lucky if you get seat number 13 and 14 because these seats offer maximum leg room.
4> The train’s fibre glass roof is covered by curtains that are pulled back if it rains or snows outside.
5> This train is really fast.
6> However, the train is a bit noisy, possibly because of its speed.
7> There is no toilet on board. However, don’t worry. This train will stop after every half an hour or so at stations where you will get toilets.
8> There is no pantry on board. However, the train stops midway at Barog for 10 mins where you can buy breakfast from the station. Barog is a picturesque station. So, keep your camera handy.

Economical Trains 

Kalka Shimla Mail

Kalka Shimla Mail

This is the oldest train service available on this track. This train takes less than six hours to reach either side. There are wooden coaches attached in this train with small windows and also there are plain wooden seats with no cushions. This train stops at Shoghi also.

The Himalayan queen

The Himalayan queen 

This is an improved version with new coaches and this is the most popular train today. It has cushioned standard chair car seats with large windows for greater views and good ambience. It takes a little less time than the mail train.

Deluxe Trains 

Deluxe Rail Motor Car with Transparent Roof

Deluxe Rail Motor Car with Transparent Roof

The deluxe Rail Motor Car (fastest)

The Deluxe Rail Motor Car is a visual delight as it resembles a bus of the Second World War vintage. Carrying 14 passengers at a time, it reaches its destination in 4.25 hrs (fastest). The car is fitted with a transparent fiber-glass roof, for a clear view of the sky. Time-cum-temperature display unit, altimeter and route indication board gives valuable information while traveling.

Shivalik Deluxe Express

Shivalik Deluxe Express

The Shivalik Deluxe Express

The Shivalik Deluxe Express is a connecting service to Howrah-Kalka Mail for Shimla. It accommodates 120 passengers and reaches its destination in 4.45 hrs.

The coaches are equipped with wall-to-wall carpeting, wide glass windows and reversible cushioned chairs. Improved lighting and a music system creates a pleasant atmosphere. The fare for both Deluxe Rail Motor Car and Shivalik Deluxe Express is the same with a complimentary meal at the picturesque Railway Station of Barog.

Note that while the Shivalik Deluxe Express can be reserved 120 days in advance like most Indian trains, most of the other mountain trains can only be reserved 30 days before journey date. Passengers on the Shivalik Deluxe Express are served meals on the train–breakfast on the way to Simla, dinner on the way down.

Premium Services Train 

 The Shivalik Palace Tourist Coach (luxury coach)

The Shivalik Palace Tourist Coach provides a luxurious ambience for a dream holiday. It can accommodate a part of six persons and is equipped with folding cushioned bed, refrigerator, on-board-kitchen and dining table with cushioned chairs.  The fare includes complimentary accommodation of two luxurious retiring rooms at Shimla for the day and free meals en-route.

The Shivalik Queen Tourist Coach (luxury coach)

A comparatively late entrant on the Kalka-Shimla section is the Shivalik Queen, which is a luxury coach. It is divided into two portions consisting of two coupes each. The coach is equipped with ultramodern facilities and fittings like wall-to-wall carpets, altimeter, fancy lights, chrome plated luggage rack.

These coaches are attached to other trains as per requirements.

http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/railwayboard/uploads/directorate/tourism/special_kalka.html

For Train Timings between Kalka to Shimla look here:

http://www.indianrail.gov.in/between_Imp_Stations.html

(Note: the timings may change due to bad weather)

By Road (The Quickest Mode)

It takes only 2.50 hrs from Kalka to Shimla on road by taxi.

If hiring a private taxi, ensure that the driver has experience driving in hilly regions and is not deprived of sleep.

Chandigarh/Delhi-Shimla Cab Services, Ph 00 91 9041 311 411 (info@gozocabs.com), 24 hours. One way Pick/Drop facilities to Chandigarh/Delhi from Shimla. Online booking. Prices starting Rs 2200.

By plane

To check the Schedule of flights to Shimla (Jubbarhatti) and Chandigarh  you may want to go to the airlines official website to get the latest services, time table and fares. The major Indian airlines and their websites:

Indian Airways (now Air India): http://www.airindia.in/SBCMS/Webpages/Home.aspx

Jet Airways: http://www.jetairways.com/EN/IN/Home.aspx

Kingfisher: http://www.flykingfisher.com/

Air Deccan: http://www.deccanairlines.in/

Make My Trip Ticket booking website

http://www.makemytrip.com/flights/

Jubbarhatti  (IATA code:SLV) Shimla’s Airport although only 22 km away, a distance which — owing to the difficulties of the mountainous terrain, poor condition of road surfaces, and the increasing traffic congestion —often takes hours to traverse by car from Shimla.

The airport has severe limitations due to its elevation at 1,546 metres above sea level and by the shortness of its single runway (1,230 m) which ends in precipice  at both ends, and it can accommodate only turboprop Dornier aircraft; Jets (such as Airbus A310, 320s and Boeing 737s) can all land at the larger Chandigarh (IATA code:IXC) airport. Commercial service at the Jubbarhatti Airport is operated daily to and from Delhi, by Kingfisher.

The Chandigarh Airport, located at a distance of 120 km from Shimla along far better roads and at an elevation of only 308 metres above sea level, offers far better flight options. Major airlines operate flights to Delhi, Jammu, and Mumbai. Most of the flights to Mumbai require a stop-over in Delhi.

[Please do confirm the flights till the very last moment, bad weather often delays flights during the winter fog].

After landing at the airport, take a pre-paid taxi to minimize hassle. You may stop for a bite on the Kalka-Shimla highway.

To See

Built at the top of the town at 2230m,The Ridge is the center of Shimla’s cultural and social life – an excellent place to view the surrounding mountains. The Electronic Message Board at the RidgeThe Ridge, Jakhu Hill (North of The Mall).

Christ Church, The Ridge

Christ Church, The Ridge

Christ Church, The Ridge (Near Municipal Library). Open every day, services Su 8AM-11AM. Constructed in 1846, this is the second oldest church of the North India. The stain-glass windows, representing charity, faith, patience, hope, fortitude and humility, and 19th century organ are particularly impressive. The fresco that surrounds the chapel window was designed by Lockwood Kipling, Rudyard Kipling’s father. Entry free, donations welcome.

Christ Church, The Ridge during Winter

Christ Church, The Ridge during Winter

 

Mall Road is the main street in Shimla

Mall Road is the main street in Shimla

The Mall: The Mall is the main shopping centre of Shimla. The Mall road is located a level below the ridge. The offices of municipal corporation, fire service, and police headquarters are located here. Automobiles, except emergency vehicles are not allowed on this road. For this reason, the locals — and tourists — are often found strolling on this road in the evenings.

Mall road has a number of showrooms, department stores, shops, restaurants and cafes. A Himachal emporium that offers handicraft products of Himachal Pradesh like locally designed woollen cloths, branded cloths, pottery items, and jewellery is also located here.  There are at least three books shops including one that sells old books. There is a famous theatre of Shimla called Gaiety Theatre. The Mall is also the main meeting place for the people of Shimla.

Jakhu Temple, Shimla

Jakhu Temple, Shimla

Jakhu Temple, Jakhu Hill. Open every day. Offers spectacular views of the mountains from its location above the town. According to the epic Ramayana, the monkey god Hanuman rested here during his journey to the Himalayan mountains. The climb up is a physically demanding one-hour walk. However, you can drive up the hill – a 4WD is recommended. The temple and hill side is populated with very aggressive and cunning monkeys.

Jakhoo Hill, Located at an altitude of 2,445m, Jakhoo Hill, Shimla’s highest point, is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Shimla. From the peak of the hill, one can have a panoramic view of the Shimla town and its surroundings. The landscape all around is a feast to one’s eyes. At the top is an old Hanuman temple.

Be extremely careful with your camera, glasses, bag and (especially) food. Entry free, donations welcome (Sticks for warding off the monkeys can be rented at the entrance to the temple for Rs 5).

Chadwick Falls, 7 km away from Shimla, the inviting spot of Chadwick Falls is a premier travel destination. A trip to the Chadwick Falls during the monsoons will be an unforgettable experience. Located in an incredible landscape, the place is home to some old shrines that are sites of immense significance for pilgrims.

Dorje Drag Monastery, Sarasvati Garden Estate, Kusmuti. A monastery in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Thubten Evam Dorje Drag. Entry free, donations welcome.

Shimla Scandal Point

Shimla Scandal Point

Scandal point: Nobody knows why the Scandal Point is named so. There are many tales. The most romantic version has the Maharajah eloping with the British Commander in Chief’s daughter.

Lower Bazaar, The Mall (Below Central Section). Shops Open Mo-Sa. The Lower Bazaar is home to the city’s less expensive hotels, cheaper restaurants and stores, and a congested wholesale vegetable market. Although less opulent than its upper neighbor, the Lower Bazaar retains an old worldly charm and is an excellent place to try some Shimla specialty dishes, like Uradh Dal with rice or Shepard’s Pie.

Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

Viceregal Lodge, Shimla

Viceregal Lodge, The Mall (Atop Observatory Hill), +91 177 283-1375. Open every day (Only the entrance hall and gardens are open to the public). An imposing British-raj mansion built under the guidance of Lord Dufferin in 1888. Manicured British style gardens surround the mansion on three sides, while the fourth side is a place to relax and watch the sun dip below the Himalayan foothills. The teak-paneled interior is impressive, and well worth a viewing. Entry Rs 20 per adult. Both still and video cameras are allowed for a fee of Rs. 10. A guided tour is conducted in a very professional manner and explains the historical importance of the building – worth capturing if you have a video camera. There is a small book shop and a cafe in the premises.

Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary, A unique, well preserved mixed Himalayan forest with predominantly Himalayan Cedar trees. Permits are required for entry Rs 50 per person and Rs 200 per car. Monday closed. Though not mandatory its best to hire naturalists to take you into the sanctuary. Trained naturalists are available at Mountain Guides India ph. +91 9736438061. The forest is home to the barking deer, goral, flying squirrel, pine marten, porcupine and leopard. There are also a great number of birds; in fact there is the highest density of koklass pheasant in this forest. There is a man-made reservoir in the center of the forest that provides drinking water to Shimla town. The reservoir was completed in 1901 and to the water supply scheme from the sanctuary is Shimla’s only gravity feed water supply scheme. The sanctuary is under the charge of the Forest Department (Wildlife).

Hip Hip Hurray Amusement Park (9000 ft), Kufri (NH-22, 16 Kms. from Shimla), ☎ 01776450993. Nagsons Amusement Park,HIP HIP HURRAY, Kufri, is the only amusement park located at 8500 ft. above sea level offering adventure activities like Burma Bridge Crossing, Flying Fox, Commando Net, Rock Climbing etc and also activities like Boating, Bump’em Cars, Rides, Indoor Golf and a number of virtual reality, redemption & video games. Other attractions include Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Shopping, Telescopic View etc

Tara devi is famous for the temple, Tara Devi is one of the many forms of Goddess Kali. This temple is located on the top of the hill. Tara devi is located at the distance of around 11 kms from the bus stand of Shimla. This is a perfect location for the people who are looking for some rest and peace at a high altitude of around 6070 ft. The temple is very clean with very beautiful flowers maintained all around it.

Museums/Galleries

Shimla houses a few excellent museums. The State Museum is perhaps the most well-known.

State Museum, Chaura Maidan (Atop the Inverarm Hill, in the general vicinity of The Oberoi Cecil hotel), +91 177 280-5044. Open Tu-Su, 10AM-5PM. Housed in a reconstructed Raj-style building, the State Museum displays a collection of around 10,000 artifacts gathered from all over Himachal Pradesh. The Pahari miniatures and 6th-11th century Gupta sculptures are especially impressive. Entry Rs 10 (Cameras free, flash prohibited).

Photo Art Gallery, Potter’s Hill (Near HP Univ.), +91 94180-11172. The gallery displays more than 20,000 photographs of Himachal taken by the celebrated photographer Inder Pal. It’s a wonderful place to explore and learn more about the beauty, culture and flora and fauna of this Himalayan state. In addition, Potter’s Hill is scenic area, so as well as visiting the gallery, visitors can also enjoy hiking, climbing, observing wild life and enjoy the fresh Himalayan air. Entry Rs 5 (Cameras free, flash prohibited).

Sankat Mochan: A popular Hanuman temple is located here. We get an excellent view of Shimla from the temple. It can be reached by car or on foot.

Zoo at Kufri (tel:+91 177 265-2911) — home to native species such as the great Himalayan Snow Leopard, and varieties of Musk Deer. Open daily, Rs 15 per person. Special free passes are available during weekends.

Road links for other scenic spots in these hills also take off from the Kalka – Shimla Railway. First, there is Kasauli, a British day cantonment town, small, quiet but picturesque. Home to a Louis Pasteur Institute that manufactures the anti-rabies vaccine and a Central Research Institute that makes vaccines against typhoid and cholera and antidotes against snake bite, Kasauli can be approached by road from Dharampur Station.

Another famous hill station in the area is Chail. Piqued by British snobbery, the Maharajah of Patiala built his summer capital here as a rival to Shimla. Accessible from Kandhaghat or Shimla, Chail is at a height of 2150 meters. The Maharaja’s Palace, built in the 19th Century, together with the Cottages of his staff are today a beautiful holiday resort. Chail boasts of the highest cricket ground of the world, over looking the Sutlej Valley, with a spectacular view of snow capped Himalayan ranges.

To Do

Walks: Take a leisurely walk at the Mall — this 7km thoroughfare is famous for its Victorian Architecture, and retains much of its Raj-era charm. To get there, take the lifts from Cart Road, an ingenious system designed to save pedestrians from walking. Rs 7 per trip. The central area of The Mall is composed of half-timbered buildings and is the place to rub shoulders and clash knives and forks with Shimla’s elite. A statue of freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai is located at Scandal Point, the highest point on The Mall. Further along is the very pleasant Clarke’s Hotel, which is an excellent place to take a break and relax over a coffee.

Take in the View. View of Cart Road and surrounding hills from The Mall.

Naldehra Golf Course

Naldehra Golf Course

View the Naldehra Golf Course, on the northern outskirts of the town, at a distance of about 25 kilometres from Shimla. The 9-hole golf-course, set amidst sloping meadows at an elevation of 2,050 metres above sea level, was designed by Lord Curzon in the 19th century. The flora is impressive, ranging from alpine grass to pine and deodar. But the tourists are not permitted to enter the golf course and they can only have a distant view of the golf-course. There are two separate entries, one for walking and the other for horses, which lead to a vast ground surrounded by pine trees and golf-course. It is better go up by own instead of taking horses and enjoy the serenity.

Ice skating is possible in Shimla from November to March, though Kufri and Chail on the outskirts of town offer better options.

Trek in the local mountains. Walk along the meandering roads to the meadows at Annadale, 5 kms out of town. The Glen, further west, is a favorite picnic-spot with locals. Head north and visit Wildflower Hall, the former retreat of Lord Kitchner. Furthur on along the Hindustan-Tibet Road lies the quaint village of Mashobra. A gravel-road indicates the entry to the Seog Wildlife Sanctuary. The annual Sipi Fair is held in a little steep pathway off Mashobra.

Chandra Tal

Chandra Tal

Chandra Taal (meaning the Lake of the Moon), or Chandra Tal, is situated at an altitude of about 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) in the Himalayas. Mountains of scree overlook the lake on one side, and a magnificent cirque presents a view on the other. The name of the lake originates from its crescent shape. Situated in the Spiti part of the Lahul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, Chandra Taal is a popular destination for trekkers and campers.

The lake is accessible on foot from Batal as well as from Kunzum Pass from late May to early October. There is also a motorable road from Batal which is 16 km (9.9 mi) away from Chandra Taal, but before August, its condition can be bad. The road from Kunzum Pass is accessible only on foot, and it is about 8 km (5.0 mi) from Chandra Taal. Suraj Tal is also accessible Chandra Taal, 30 km (19 mi) away. Vast meadows on the banks of the lake are the camping sites. During springtime, these meadows are carpeted with hundreds of kinds of wildflowers.

The most surprising thing about this lake is that there is no visible source of this lake but there is a visible outlet of this lake which means that water to this lake comes from underground.

Kinnaur Kailash Parikrma Trek: Kinnaur is one of the most beautiful places but very less known district of Himachal Pradesh. This place is surrounded by Tibet, Garhwal Himalayan, spitti valley and Kullu. Sutlej River also flows from the Kinnaur valley. Tourists can experience a Buddhism life style, due to its proximity to Tibet.

To Buy

  • Wooden handicrafts
  • Woolens and Kullu shawls
  • Wooden Toys,
  • Walking Sticks and
  • Tibetian carpets made in nearby Kinnaur.
  • Jams and squashes made from local fruits produce.
  • Chinese shoes  – from the stretch between Combermere Bridge and the Telegraph Office

Himachal Emporium, 3 The Mall,

An excellent place to purchase locally-made handicrafts at set prices. Run by the Himachal Pradesh Government. +91 177 280-1234 (fax:+91 177 265-3164), Open Mo-Fr, 10AM-5PM.

Minerva Book House, Hotel Minerva, +91 177 225-2043. A good selection of novels.

To Eat

The Devicos, 5 The Mall (one storey beneath street level, directly below the Café Coffee Day outlet in the vicinity of the BSNL Building), One of the very few restaurants in town with food appealing both to Indian and to Western palates. One of the most expensive places to eat in town (apart from 5-star hotels), but worth it. Its twin Bar, located two storeys directly above (one storey above street level), is a hangout popular with the locals. Ph. +91 177 280-6335. 10:00AM~10:00PM.

Baljees, 26 The Mall, Among the town’s oldest eateries, Baljees offers delicious Western and Indian fare. Their desserts are best avoided. Ph. +91 177 265-2313. 9AM-11PM.

The Oberoi Cecil Restaurant, Chaura Maidan (in The Oberoi Cecil Hotel),

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with closing breaks in between). A good selection of European and Asian dishes, complemented by best European and non-European vintages. Chandeliers and wood-paneling add to the old-world elegance, a perfect setting for a quiet dinner. The best and the most expensive place to eat in town. Ph. +91 177 2804848.

  • Silver Oak, Circular Road, Ph:  +91 177 225-7588. 7-11PM. Serves Mughlai and Chinese. The food is not great, but passable. Nice decor and a comfortable atmosphere.
  • The Lutyens Room, Springfields, Chhota Shimla (opposite Tibetan School), Ph:  +91 177 222-1297, 222-1298. 11AM-10:30PM. Continental and Indian food. Rs
  • Ashiana & Goofa, The Band Stand, The Ridge.
  • The restaurant at Hotel Pinewood, Barog (tel:+91 1792 238-825 & 238-387) serves cheap Punjabi fare. There’s also a Cafe Coffee Day outlet at Solan, which sells pastries, coffee and sandwiches and a Mc Donalds on the way.
  • Loveena Restaurant, The Ridge. below rain shelter, restaurant with view. Indian, Chinese, Continental.
  • New Plaza Restaurant (Plaza), 60/61, Middle Bazar, Ph:  0177-2655438.
  • Qilaa, The Mall Rd; below Syndicate Bank, near Scandal Point (On the way from Scandal Point to DC Office), Ph:  +91 9736691209. 11AM-11PM. A favourite among frequent visitors and the locals.
  • Sher E Punjab, Ridge Sanjauli Road (take road to Lakkar Bazar, Just 100 M from Ridge point.). 10 AM to 10 PM. If you are looking for a local Indian food which people of India have at home, then you should try this place. A good place to eat tava chappati (Indian bread) at reasonable rates. Ask for mixed vegetable dish with butter chappati. INR 30-150.
  • Indian Coffee House, The Mall (On Mall Rd, just down from the post office on the left). Probably the cheapest food in Shimla, especially during peak season. They serve good south Indian food as well as surprisingly good western breakfast fare – try the Rs 40 French toast. Rs 20 – 80.

To Drink

Himachal is known as the fruit-bowl of India. It has a thriving food processing industry that churns out fruit-based drinks, squashes and concentrates. The most famous flavors are plum, litchi, strawberry, mango and guava. You can also try the real aqua mineral spring water available near the source (if you are trekking)!

Alcohol

For alcoholic drinks, try the locally brewed wines such as apricot, plum and apple & ginger cider. In predominantly Tibetan areas, a rice wine known as Chang is popular.

  • Lobby Lounge, Chaura Maidan. 24 hours. The Lobby Lounge is in the soaring 5-story atrium of the Oberoi. A good place to enjoy tea or a quiet drink in an elegant atmosphere. A roaring fire in the winters adds to the colonial charm.
  • Rendevous” located less than a minute walk from Christ Church on The Mall, across from “Alfa Restruant”. Somewhat hidden, this restruant/bar offers good bollywood tunes, a nice cozy interior and strong drinks. try to order the monkey glad, but it’s not garunteed they will have the ingredients.

 Coffee

  • Cafe Coffee Day, 5 The Mall (in The Devicos). 9AM-11PM. Similar to Barista, although not quite as good. Another branch at Mama’s Kitchen NH22, Dharampur, Solan District.
  • Indian Coffee House, The Mall. 9AM-11PM. Indian Coffee House (ICH), Mall Road. Indian coffee house (ICH) is a favourite with the locals, although not as trendy as barista or ccd, ICH retains the charm of bygone era. Cheap coffee and town gossipp make it a favourite with locals.
  • Fire Station Cafe, Indian Institute of Advanced Study. IIAS is the erstwhile Viceroy Lodge which is a Victorian era building. The IIAS has renovated its old fire station complex. The old structure which housed fire station, post office, squash court, and now swimming pool, besides a garage during British era was converted into a ‘Book shop-cum- souvenir shop’. Once you have completed the conducted tour of the IIAS, you can relax over a cup of coffee or tea and soak in the environment.

To Stay

  • In May and June when it is high season the room rates are mostly double the non season rates. Room rates that are marketed above Rs 1,000 have 5.15% extra tax added. So even if you bargain and bring the price down to Rs 900 you still have to pay the 5.15% tax.
  • Also note that the rooms must have 24hrs hot water else it could get uncomfortable due to cooler climate.
  • Use Christ Church on The Ridge, Shimla’s principal landmark familiar to all, easily identifiable during the day and prominently illuminated at night — as your first orientation point upon arrival.
  • Avoid touts at all cost. All accommodation arrangements as well as any additional side-trips, sightseeing, onward transportation, etc., can easily and safely be arranged without the help of the touts. Visit the office of the state-run Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (phone +91 177 265-2561 or 265-8302), located in the central place downtown called “The Scandal Point”, before Christ Church on The Ridge (across from the City Hall), The staff there are well-informed and reasonably professional. There are no alternatives to this office for reliable information on all aspects of Shimla.

Budget

Hotel Gulmarg, below The Mall

Hotel Dreamland

Hotel Woodland  – peaceful and with balcony and cheap but food and room service is not up to the mark
Hotel City View – great terrace, but beware of resident touts

Hill Bloom Hotel – some rooms with great panoramic views, basic but adequate and excellently located above Christ Church on The Ridge, some with spectacular views.

YMCA (2,225 metres above sea level), behind Ritz Cinema, The Ridge (1 mile walk from Shimla train and bus station), A centrally located, charming Victorian style building. Offers both en-suite rooms and rooms with common bathrooms. A limited choice complimentary breakfast is provided at no extra cost. En-suite rooms have clean attached bathrooms. To avoid disappointment during peak season, pre-book a room over phone. Ph +91 177 2650021. checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon.

Shimla Youth Hostel located in “must visit” Lakkar Bazar offers budget accommodation, and a discount to Youth hostel members. Ph:+919418025462

Hotel White, Lakkar Bazaar (500m NE of The Ridge), This hotel surprisingly offers clean and spacious rooms all done up in white at budget-friendly rates. Opt for their suite which also offers a balcony and great views of the valley.  Ph +91 177 265-5276 (hotelwhite@yahoo.co.in, fax: +91 177 265-5276).

Hotel Mayur (2,211 metres above sea level), The Ridge (just behind Christ Church, and overlooking its roof), Centrally located hotel on The Ridge. Rooms have clean attached bathrooms, colour television, wall-to-wall carpeting; somewhat run-down by now. The room service is fairly decent.
Ph +91 177 265-2393 (l_sood@hotmail.com, fax: +91 177 2652398). checkout: 12PM.

Dalziel (2,135 metres above sea level), The Mall (10 minutes walk westwards from Scandal Point),
Ph 9211709437.  Checkin: 27/5/12; checkout: 29/5/12. Situated in a wooden heritage building. Laundry service and meals available.Food & water served unhygenic.

Amar Palace, (Take the road directly up the hill to the left of/behind christ church and it’s about 300m up the road from there. Call if you get lost and they’ll come find you.), Ph 01772804055, 9418696458. 24 Hour hot water, and some rooms with a pretty good view back out along the ridge.).

Other economical areas of the city are through Victory tunnel and on Circular Rd and Kaithu to Kali Bari Rd. In high season, rooms can be found for Rs 1000 – Rs 1500 a night.

 

Mid-range

Hotel Combermere (2,150 metres above sea level at Circular Road level, 2,185 metres at the top-floor level), The Mall (10 minutes’ walk eastwards from Scandal Point; near The Lift, opposite the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex).  This is one of the only two hotels on The Mall equipped with its own private lift to the lower level of Circular Road (Cart Road). Good food, professionally prepared, especially Italian (recommended).

Ph +91 177 225-1246/47/48, 265-2242/43/46/48 (hcs@sancharnet.in, fax: +91 177 225-2251, 265-7906). Checkin: 12 noon; checkout: Late checkouts on request.

Woodville Palace (2,190 metres above sea level), Raj Bhavan Road (20 to 25 minutes’ walk eastwards from Scandal Point), Ph +91 177 262-3919 or 262-4038 (woodville@woodvillepalacehotel.com, fax: +91 177 262-3098). checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 4PM. This converted palace was built in 1938 by the Maharaja of Jubbal (a descendant of the original owner still lives on the premises, and is addressed by the staff as “maharaja”). It has its own private woodlands, which provide an excellent place for a leisurely evening stroll. Immaculately maintained public spaces, full of ‘atmosphere’; attentive service; food on the homely side rather than any haute cuisine, though.

Clarke’s Hotel (2,150 metres above sea level), The Mall (100 metres as the crow flies across a small valley from the Himachal Pradesh High Court complex; 15 minutes’ walk eastwards from Scandal Point), Ph:  +91 177 265-1010, 265-1011, 265-1012, 265-1013, 265-1014, 265-1015 (reservations.clarkes@clarkesshimla.com, fax: +91 177 281-1321). Checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon.

Hotel Landmark (2,100 metres above sea level at Circular Road level, 2,115 metres at the top-floor level), The Mall (15 minutes’ walk westwards from Scandal Point; near Gorton Castle, a historic property used nowadays for the offices of the Accountant-General of Himachal Pradesh and not open to the general public), Ph:  +91 177 281-4700, 281-4701, or 281-4703 (landmark.sml@gmail.com, fax: +91 177 281-4702). Checkin: 12 noon; early check-in available at extra charge; checkout: 12 noon; late check-out available at extra charge..

Hotel Ashiana Regency (2,110 metres above sea level), Chōṭā Shimla (or ‘Little Shimla’) (near ‘The Secretariat’ — the seat of Himachal Pradesh Government; 45 minutes’ walk westwards from Scandal Point), Ph:  +91 177 262-1572, 262-2472, 262-2658 (fax: +91 177 262-4872, 262-0037). Checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon.

Hotel Peterhoff (2,117 metres above sea level), Chaura Maidan (45 minutes’ walk westwards from Scandal Point), Ph:  +91 177 221-3335 (fax: +91 177 221-3801). Checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon. Nice, clean rooms with air-con, heaters, mini-bars and the usual mid-range amenities.

Honeymoon Inn (Shimla Hotel), The Mall. This 20 room boutique hotel offers some great views.

Luxury

The Oberoi Cecil, Chaura Maidan

Located at 2,098 metres above sea level it has the best location, cusine and in-house amenities in Shimla (takes a pleasant and easy 20-minute walk from town centre to get there). It has an elegant hotel in the grand heritage style, immaculately maintained, with log fires and a heated swimming-pool.

Ph:  +91 177 280-4848 (reservations@oberoi-cecil.com, fax: +91 177 281-1024). Checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM.

Woodville Palace Hotel (see “Mid-range”, above), accessible on foot from the centre of the town but located in a pleasant quiet woody cove requiring a 20 minutes’ walk along The Mall to town,

The 14 kilometres’ distant Wildflower Hall (see “Accommodation options outside of Shimla”, below)  is a spectacular resort of the expensive Oberoi chain with its own mountain in a forested area outside of town, near the village of Charabra (accessible from Shimla by car only, available, at cost, at the hotel).

The Radisson Hotel Shimla, (2,100 metres above sea level), Goodwood Estate, Shimla (on the lower slopes of Longwood Hill, the mountain directly across the northern valley of Shimla, opposite the mountain with The Ridge which is the centre of town).  Ph:  +91 177 2659012-21 (fax: +91 177 2806902). Checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM.,

Chapslee Hotel, Chapslee Estate (between Lakkar Bazaar and Auckland House high school, just above much-trafficked Circular Road), Ph:  +91 177 280-2542 (fax: +91 177 265-8663) Checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. Formerly the residence of the ruler of Kapurthala (and still in the hands of “the family”);

Accommodation outside of Shimla

Wildflower Hall (2,560 metres above sea level), near the village of Charabra (14 km west of Shimla on National Highway 22, NH22), Ph:  +91 177 264-8585 (reservations.twfl@obroihotels.com, fax: +91 177 264-8686). Checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. An Oberoi property. A stately brand-new stone building built among cedar and pine forests. Arguably the best hotel complex in the entire state of Himachal Pradesh.

Flaghouse Resort, Junga, Ph:  0177-6539022/23 (info@flaghouse.co.in). Checkin: 2.00 pm; checkout: 12.00 noon. The Flaghouse resort at Junga, Shimla District is a luxury resort nested in the magnificent Shimla Hills. Away from the hustle and bustle of the civilized world, the resort offers peace and tranquility in the cradle of nature.

East Bourne Resort, Near Bishop Cotton School, Khallini, Ph:  +91 177 2623669-71 (sales@consortiumhotels.org, fax: +91 177 262-3890). checkout: 12 noon. A pine forest resort, Multi cuisine restaurant, 02 open air garden restaurants, lounge, coffee shop, library over looking a rose garden, steam, sauna, jacuzzi, discotheque & ample parking space for 60 cars. Rs 6000.

Koti Resort (Shimla Hotel), Mashobra (Just off the Shimla-Naldehra Road), Ph:  +919218501601,. Please contact for latest deals.

Hotel Golf Links, Naldehra. This delightful hotel is in Naldehra, the site of the historical golf course. Overlooking the valley, it offers some very scenic vistas and a cosy place to lounge away your vacation.

Park Woods Hill Resort Shoghi, Village Paughat (near Shoghi), Ph:  +91 9953818074 (thecaravan@airtelmail.in). Forested hill resort with quaint bamboo nad pinewood cottages, valley and mountain views, adventure activities, barbeques, bonfires, open areas.

Homestays near Shimla

Sunrise Villa Homestay, Shoghi (12 kms before Shimla), Ph:  +91 177 2860075. Checkin: 12:00 noon; checkout: 12:00 noon. Sunrise Villa(Department of Tourism, HP Government approved home stay unit) is located at a very picturesque location at Shoghi a suburb of Shimla, in a peaceful, calm environment, naturally blessed with breathtaking views of the distant Chail and the snow-clad Himalayan ranges.

Vardaan Homestay, Shoghi (12 kms before Shimla), Ph:  +91 981 8568977. Checkin: 12:00 noon; checkout: 12:00 noon. Vardaan Home Stay(Department of Tourism, HP Government approved home stay unit) is located at a picturesque location at Shoghi away from crowded Shimla.

Other Nearby areas to visit:

Dalhousie, Kullu, Manali, Dharmasala, Kasauli, Lahul and Spiti, Rohtang Pass

Manali

Manali

Manali in Snow

Manali in Snow

Dalhousie

Dalhousie

Kufri

Kufri

Beware of the Snow Tiger

Beware of the Snow Tiger

Dharamshala

Dharamshala

The tiny Nano car braving the Rohtang Pass... amazing

The tiny Nano car braving the Rohtang Pass… amazing

Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass

 

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Posted by: getaway2india | August 6, 2012

Magic of the Matheran Hills

 

Welcome to Matheran

Matheran is the closest hill station to Mumbai in the Sahyadri hill range in Raigad district of Maharashtra State. It is situated at a height of 803 m above sea level. Although it is so close to a vociferous city like Mumbai the truth that Matheran is relatively unpolluted is a feat in itself.

Matheran Station

Motor vehicles are completely banned in Matheran. Besides the buses, cars and other four-wheelers and two-wheelers such as motorbikes, even bicycles are not allowed inside Matheran. Venice, The Prince’s Islands of Istanbul, Texel-Netherlands and Matheran are the only places in the world where motor cars are banned.

Narrow Gauge Train from Neral Station to Matheran

It has a narrow gauge railway line connecting it to Neral Station.

Matheran is quite peaceful despite the thousands of visitors that come here, mostly from Mumbai. There are a number of lookout points that provide spectacular views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Matheran is a plateau with a reasonably dense forest cover. Being a hill station it is pleasant almost throughout the year.

There is a magic about Matheran… people fall in love with it. If it gets to you… you return here year after year like a sacred pilgrimage. But it never got to me… I still laugh at the guys who go there year on year… but then I don’t hold any grudge …lol. One of the reason people frequent there might be it is over-conveniently located very near the city and an easy and economical getaway…. Its almost as easy as going to office. Many people who live in Karjat find that the Station Neral is on the way to work in VT and just half an hour away from their house.

In winter, the nights can get a bit chilly though.

Matheran in the Rains

The best time to go to Matheran is post-monsoon. It is truly spectacular at that time of the year with lush greenery, waterfalls and the lake full with water.

In November 2002, Prof H.Y. Mohan Ram, Chairman of a Government Expert Committee, declared Matheran the cleanest hill-station of India.

There are only 3 ways to travel once inside Matheran:

  • Walking. All the trails have signboards marking the way and the locals are quite helpful.
  • On horseback
  • Man-pulled Rickshaw

The Map of Matheran

Location

Matheran is 110 km, about two-and-a-half-hour drive, from Mumbai. The road is good and motorable round the year. But as vehicles are not allowed inside, you have to leave your vehicle at Dasturi Naka, 3 km from Matheran, which has a good parking lot.
Next you either walk up to Matheran or hire a pony. The journey is really enjoyable. The narrow, shaded pathways winding through dense forests rejuvenate tired lungs with fresh air.
Matheran is perched amidst the Sahyadri hills (Western Ghats) 803 meters above sea level. The 7.35-sq-km town has a population of around 4,000. Surprisingly, it also has a railway station.

Matheran in the rain

History

Matheran was discovered by Sir Hugh Poyntz Malet, the Collector of Thane district, in 1850. But it was Lord Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay, who made Matheran popular. He visited the place in 1855 and literally fell in love with it. He built a bungalow named Elphinstone Lodge and introduced roadways.


Getting In

There is a entry fee (of Rs 25 for adult visitors and Rs.10 for children) while entering into Matheran. The proceeds from this is used for the upkeep of the place considering its fragile ecosystem.

Get down at Neral Station

By train

You can catch a Karjat bound local train from CSTM(a.k.a. VT Mumbai, India) on the Central Railway to Neral Station. From VT the trains stops at the following Stations:

  1. VT
  2. Masjid
  3. Sandhurst Road,
  4. Byculla
  5. Chinchpokli,
  6. Currey Road,
  7. Parel,
  8. Dadar,
  9. Matunga,
  10. Sion
  11. Kurla,
  12. Vidyavihar,
  13. Ghatkopar,
  14. Vikhroli,
  15. Kanjurmarg,
  16. Bhandup,
  17. Nahur,
  18. Mulund
  19. Thane,
  20. Kalwa,
  21. Mumbra,
  22. Diwa,
  23. Dombivli,
  24. Thakurli,
  25. Kalyan
  26. Vitthalwadi,
  27. Ulhasnagar,
  28. Ambarnath,
  29. Badlapur,
  30. Vangani,
  31. Shelu,
  32. Neral,
  33. Bhivpuri Road,
  34. Karjat

 

Please note that there are “Fast” and “Slow” trains starting from CSTM. The “Slow” Train stops all all the 34 stations and the time taken to complete the distance will be more while the “Fast” train stop only at the Bold Stations above and the time taken would be only 40% lesser than that of the slow train. For a new visitor and if he wants to try the mumbai local train he should get in at Mumbai VT itself… better if he can buy a first class ticket…. and jump in and find a seat the moment the train stops. The seats will be free for a few moments before it gets occupied. Also note that there is a basic courtesy that the sitting passenger is expected to get up after half the journey or Dombivili and let the standing passenger sit for the remainder of the Journey.

Getting to Matheran from Mumbai is not very difficult even if you do not have train reservations.

Get to Mumbai CST station.

There are two sections.

  • One for mainline trains platforms 8 onwards. (Deccan Express and Koyna Express leave from here)
  • One for Local suburban trains platforms 1 to 7
  • Look for the ticket windows. They are cleverly hidden opposite platforms 1 and 2. Ticket window numbers are 7,8 and 9
  • Ask for a ticket to NERAL. On the Karjat line. (NOT “Nerul” on the harbour Line)
  • II Class tickets Rs. 36, I Class tickets Rs.210
  • Now go back to the platforms and wait for the indicators to announce your train
  • The local train you need will arrive either on platform 3, 4 , 5, 6 or 7.
  • What you should look for on the top of the indicator is “S” (“S” is the code for the karjat trains.) and train Destination as “Karjat”
  • And the platform number will appear next to the code.

Suburban Train timings from CST (MUMBAI TO NERAL)

am 4.15, 4.40, 5.19, 5.41, 6.50, 7.39, 8.39, 9.34, 10.44, 11.17, 11.56

pm 12.52, 1.40, 2.49, 3.17, 4.10, 5.32, 6.24, 7.00, 7.47, 8.13, 8.51, 9.54, 10.40, 11.28

Some Early morning trains from CST to Neral.

  • Make sure you get off at neral.
  • CST TO Neral is about a 1 hour 40 minute journey.
  • Stations on the final approach to Neral are Badlapur, Vangani, Shelu and 5 minutes later NERAL.
  • You can also get to these trains form the following stations: DADAR, KURLA, GHATKOPAR, THANE, KALYAN, DOMBIVILI, AMBERNATH, SHELU.
  • At Neral use the foot over bridge and get to the other platform.
  • Inquire about the toy train and whether tickets will be available.
  • If not… walk out of the station and turn right. This will lead you to the Neral Matheran taxi stand.
  • Taxi rates are Rs. 60 per person sharing (2011)
  • The taxi will not leave unless there are a minimum of 5 persons paying 50 rupees each. If you are in a hurry or there is no one else you can pay Rs. 60 x 5 = Rs 300 and take the full taxi.
  • If you want to ride in the Matheran toy train then make sure you have booked in advance.

 

The Toy Train

Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy conceived the imaginative idea of a 2-ft narrow-gauge railway from Neral to Matheran (20 km). He imported three specially made engines from Germany in 1905. The railway was opened in 1907. This train, became 100 years old on April 16, 2007.

The train chugs slowly along the age-old track, passing through dense forests, grassy hillsides, vertical cliffs, plains and rolling plateaus.
The torrential rains and landslides of July 26, 2005, badly damaged the tracks and the train service had to be suspended.

The Toy Train

From Neral Station the toy train runs to Matheran about 4 times in a day. This toy train is not operational when railway route is under maintenance or when there is a perceived hazard e.g. the monsoons. The only way to know whether its operational is only at the Neral Station. The train is normally full, so turn up in good time to ensure you get a ticket.

New Coach of the Matheran Toy Train

Now Matheran also has new coaches with transparent roof for 3D feel of the mountains and comfy seats . This allows one to get a three-dimensional view of the green surroundings as the train climbs about 2,500 feet from Neral to Matheran. With broad windows on both sides and an open to sky roof.

You can also book the ticket online through IRCTC:

http://irctc.co.in/

The toy train times (as of Feb ’08) are:

Matheran -> Neral:

  • depart 0700, arrive 0840
  • depart 0945, arrive 1125
  • depart 1340, arrive 1520
  • depart 1625, arrive 1810
  • depart 1445, arrive 1625

Neral -> Matheran:

  • depart 0730, arrive 0930
  • depart 0850, arrive 1110
  • depart 1015, arrive 1210
  • depart 1705, arrive 1900
  • depart 1215, arrive 1405

 

 

Matheran Toy Train Motorman Cabin

 

Road to Matheran

By Road

There are many share-a-cabs which take you to Matheran from Neral. The distance from Neral to Dasturi Point (last point to which vehicles are allowed in Matheran) is 11 km. The drivers that ply through the roads have good driving skills. So just enjoy the breath-taking views as you climb up towards the Dasturi point. (Charges are INR 50.00 per person as of July ’09. Also make sure you take the rearmost seats as it will provide a relatively more comfortable travel) Once you have left the taxi, you can take a horse ride or get the help of porters to carry luggage up to the town.

Mini-Bus Shuttle

There is a newly introduced mini bus shuttle from Karjat or Neral railway stations upto Dasturi. From Dasturi you must take a 40 minute horseback or man-pulled rickshaw ride to Matheran along a mud track.

Hand pulled Rickshaws

Alternately you can walk from Dasturi along the rail line & make your way up to Matheran – 20 minutes to half an hour. The rail track route is slightly shorter, more scenic and very much more comfortable than the rubbly, dusty main road route. Coolies or porters are available at Dasturi to carry your luggage. Remember to negotiate rates in advance.

 

Matheran Market

On Foot Starting from Neral

There are several walking trails which ascend the Matheran Plateau. These are used by local people commuting to the hill station as well as the occasional intrepid holiday-maker.

From the Eastern side, trekkers start at Neral (see above).

You can also approach from the Western side, which has the distinct advantage that you can be in the shade for most of the ascent if you start early in the morning.

One route recommended during monsoon starts from the village of Dudhoni and brings you to Sunset Point in Matheran. It is suitable for beginners, and the ascent only takes 2 hours or so. Dudhoni can be reached by auto rickshaw from Panvel (accessible by bus or central line train). The trail is obvious in most places; when in doubt, ask a local.

Matheran

The truth is that almost all the points offer pretty good sunrise, sunset, mountain and valley views, so walk or horse ride or take a rickshaw to whichever you prefer. Remember that the more popular points will be crowded, especially at sunset.

Matheran

Watch out for the aggressive Matheran macaque monkeys who will not hesitate to snatch your belongings especially anything remotely resembling food!

Some of the popular sights include: Lake Charlotte – a spectacular waterfall overflows from the lake during and shortly after the monsoons. At other times, it is peaceful surrounded by dense evergreen forests, bird song and pretty butterflies.

  • Panorama point – This point is a very beautiful one, for you can see a panoramic view of the hills on the left and a beautiful Ulhas River to the right. This point is quite far from Matheran station / market, but you can negotiate a good price for your travel if you do not feel like walking. This point is perfect for Sunrise and is also called “Sunrise Point.”
  • Heart Point – Here one can see a beautiful scene of the valley and this point looks like heart, so it is named so.
  • Monkey Point – Here you can see the monkeys in large numbers and their mischief life-sized.
  • Malang Point
  • Luisa Point – The view from here to the waterfall (run off from Charlotte Lake) during the monsoon is spectacular.
  • Honeymoon Hill
  • Echo Point

Charlotte Lake

  • Charlotte Lake
  • Lords Point

One Tree Hill, Matheran

  • One tree Hill
  • Olympia
  • Paymasters Park
  • Mount Barry
  • Artist Point
  • Khandala Point
  • Alexandar Point
  • Rambaug Point
  • Little Chowk Point
  • Chowk Point
  • Sunset(Porcupine) Point
  • Garbut point

Matheran

Things to Do

There are only 4 things to do –

  1. Trek/walk,
  2. Enjoy Horse rides
  3. Sight seeing, capturing the sights.
  4. and Valley Crossing

Due to the prohibition of cars, Matheran is a relatively peaceful place. So walking is an activity that will be richly rewarding, especially for nature lovers, and more so just after the monsoons when wildflowers are in full bloom with their attendant butterflies. When the mass blooming of Karvy or Strobilanthes Callosa takes place, it is a spectacular sight.

It is not uncommon to sight Golden Langurs, snakes and the Matheran Giant Squirrels. Apart from the ubiquitous bonnet macaque or aggressive Matheran Monkeys! Don’t give them food or show them you have food….they could flock to you!!!

Matheran

There are numerous points all over Matheran, many of which provide some fantastic views of the valley below. While the central area and marked vistas are crowded, it is quite easy to find yourself all alone if you step off the beaten track. There are numerous forested trails leading to most of the Points. Wear thick soled footwear and carry a walking stick for greater comfort as some of the trails are very rubbly, nothing more than dry river beds.

 

Horse riding is also quite popular way of getting around in Matheran. Finding a horse is not very difficult, as there are many of them around. It is a great way to travel for people who prefer not to walk, but rates must be negotiated in advance.

Valley Crossing:

Lastly you can try the Valley crossing which is from Honeymoon point to near Louisa Point. Its basically an U- shaped mountain and you have to go from one side to other side (approx 900 feet) hanging on rope and body harness only with a 1000 feet drop into to valley below. From higher level you slide slowly towards the lower level, so its one way and you can come back by walking or you can ask your Horse-Man to come to that point to pick you up. Mind you – Its definitely not for weak-hearted. But you get a bird’s eye view of the valley. And its definitely a once in life-time experience. Make sure your spectacles, shoe, car keys, mobile etc are properly secured as you wont like it to drop into the valley.

Youtube Video link:

Sightseeing

Mahatma Gandhi Road, the town’s main thoroughfare, is lined by shops of all shapes and sizes. You can buy the famous local sweet chikki, as also honey; riding boots, shoes, sandals, slippers, walking sticks and local handicrafts are available too.
Matheran has around 33 lookout points that offer spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset, and of the plains below and across the Western Ghats.
Alexander Point, Charlotte Lake, Chowk Point, Coronation Point, Echo Point, Hart Point, Khandala Point, Lord’s Point, Louisa Point, Monkey Point, Mount Barry, One Tree Hill, Panorama Point, Porcupine Point and Shivaji’s Ladder are some of the interesting names given to these spots.
You can hike to these points or hire a pony.

Eat

There are all kinds of restaurants in Matheran serving various cuisines. Most hotels offer packages including all meals.

Try the Gujarati Thali, or the Maharashtrian style Vada-Pav (Indian Potato Burger) which is available at the various points.

Try the sweet – “chikki” which is available in different flavors in the main market.

Meat is available in some restaurants, notably in the popular and modern Khan’s, which does very good Kebabs.

Diwadkars opposite the station does very tasty non veg and veg thalis, kababs, etc at a reasonable price, they also serve alcohol.

Shabbir’s Biryani House is very famous for it’s meat preparations, but it is not a very neat place and if you are looking for a proper restaurant with people waiting on you then Shabbir’s might not be the place. A plate of mutton biryani at Shabbir’s costs Rs.75 (As on 19th April 2009).

Drink

There are all kinds of restaurants in Matheran serving various drinks, try the unique Kokam Sherbat there. Liquor is available only in certain hotels and restaurants. Another place to find alcohol is “Pramod Bar”. Their rates are as follows:

  • Beer Rs.100
  • Old Monk Rum Rs.5 (30ml)
  • Bacardi White Rum Rs.5 (30ml)
  • Signature Whisky Rs.5 (30ml)
  • Smirnoff Vodka Rs.5 (30ml)
  • Fuel Vodka Rs.5 (30ml)
  • Shark Tooth Vodka Rs.5(30ml)
  • White Mischief Vodka Rs.5 (30ml)
  • Rivera Wine Rs.30(180 ml)
  • red rum Rs.5 (60ml)

Place to Stay:

During the peak season, when it is very busy, prices are often as high as four times the off-season (winter) price. As it is a popular weekend trip from Mumbai, mid week is less full so you should be able to negotiate better prices. While there are many hotels in the centre of town, there are more secluded hotels down the paths away from the central buildings. Given most hotels can offer food, it needn’t be an inconvenience being out of the town centre. Due to the space in Matheran, hotels often have extra facilities from ping-pong tables and swings to swimming pools.

There are several resorts to suit all budgets.

Other resorts include:

  • Brightlands Resorts,
  • Lord’s Central,
  • Regal,
  • Royal,
  • Rugby,
  • Usha Ascot
  • Verandah in the Forest.
  • A good place to stay is the R. B. Curumsey Damjee Arogya Bhuvan,

Ph +91 22 22070548 (admin@matheran.org). [2].

A health sanatorium in Matheran run by a public charitable trust. All the proceeds from this sanatorium are used in maintenance of the property and for other charitable purposes only. Situated near Monkey point it is equidistant from Dasturi (Car park) and the Market away from the crowd where there is just you and nature. Two old heritage bungalows have been taken over and remodeled and two more bungalows have been added. All bungalows face a lush green forest. Each bungalow is divided into 2 or 3 units. The place is vegetarian and alcohol is prohibited. The trust’s rules apply.

One of the most wonderful place to stay in Matheran. May not be the most luxurious around, but it’s a charming place whose owners bend over backwards to make you feel at home. It has a well placed pool, small library, bar, dining room and a giant chess board. Per head rates (Rs.600-800/day) include three fabulous meals.

  • * Very (Barr House), Barr House, Matheran-410102, District Raigarh, Maharashtra,

Ph +91 2148 230296 (sales@neemranahotels.com, fax: +91 2148 230811), [3].

This heritage bungalow has been converted into a first-rate guest house by the Neemrana group. A favourite with expats and the well-heeled Mumbai crowd, it is generally full on weekends. Well away from the crowded centre of Matheran town, and not far from where the road turns from wide dusty horse-path to quite footpaths. Walk just a hundred meters or so down one of these trails and you will be on your own exploring the views and relics of colonial bungalows.  edit

  • Byke One of the oldest resorts; definitely the oldest 3 star resort in Matheran. Its well away from the crowds and has been around for 20 years. Mainly consists of several colonial style cottages and has managed to preserve some of the old world charm & character. Has a mid sized swimming pool for adults and a baby pool for kids, rain dance area, restaurant, tennis & badminton courts, a small hall like discotheque with a stage, health club, games room, several swings that you can relax on. Its nice & green and the food is decent as well. Definitely worth checking out.
  • Another good budget option for the families is Woodlands Hotel. Situated in the forest as the name suggests but just 10 mins walk from the Station/Market. Homely atmosphere with good food and service. Animal lovers will be happy to know that pets are more than welcome here.
  • There are plenty of hotels to suit all budgets. Maharashtra Tourism’s site MTDC has a list of home stays as well. Most Matheran hotels and resorts advertise in the local Mid Day travel classifieds so it is easy to compare prices. The MTDC holiday resort is located near Dasturi Naka.

Most of the above mentioned websites do not mention the following small hotels which allow you lodging and boarding:

  • Hotel Preeti. This is a clean and neat place with considerable space for people to sit outside their rooms on swings and sofas. The rooms are clean and the beds look warm. The price is Rs.300 for one person a day without food. With food, which includes breakfast tea and two meals it is Rs.600 for one person. (Rates on a summer Saturday).
  • Krishna Villa. This place is not the best place to be if you are going with your family, but if you are with your friends and don’t care too much about the rooms being slightly small this place can give you a good deal at Rs.240 per head without the food. (Rates on a summer Saturday).
  • Meghdoot. This is slightly better than Krishna Villa but not as good as Hotel Preeti. The asked for a sum of Rs.700 for five people per day.
  • There are several locals who have turned their houses in the villages into tourist cottages. These are very cheap and clean but don’t expect too much service. You will find these near the “Pramod Bar“.
  • Hotel Panorama [4] – It’s at just two minutes walk from Matheran railway station & bazaar, situated in peaceful location surrounded by natural greenery. Our location is ideal for tourist who prefer to stay in clean cottage type rooms with 4 star amenities.

http://www.hotelpanorama.in/

Things to keep in mind

  • Carry a good pair of comfortable walking shoes. Matheran is quite dusty & there is red mud everywhere.  If the shoe is white colour it will turn red.
  • The roads can be rough with many small stones in them but they are not sharp craggy rocks so wear a good pair of shoes with thick soles and you should be fine. Obviously, if you don’t intend walking much then this doesn’t really matter too much.
  • The weather is truly excellent as you can walk around even in summer without feeling too uncomfortable.
  • Avoid carrying too much baggage with you. You can’t take it up by car & need someone to carry it for you. Some of these porters are women and you may not feel right about a woman carrying your heavy bag. Anyway, it’s quite easy to find a male porter (also called “coolie” in India). They may charge around Rs. 200 – 250 (US$ 5 – 6) for carrying your bags to your hotel depending on where your hotel is. Also they are reliable and you can safely hand over your bags to them and take any route you want. They will be at your hotel before you.
  • There is a government fixed rate for renting the horses which in (May 2008) is Rs. 160 or around US$ 4 per hour.
  • There are monkeys around, please do not feed them or play with them. It could be Dangerous as they could flock around you and they are quite aggressive.

For Horse Riding:-

  • For a package trip to 5 or 7 points Rs 150 to Rs 250. Please fix the rate in advance and specify whether it is per hour or per package.
  • Please wear a pair of trousers while riding. Shorts or a skirt will result in a painful case of totally bruised thighs.
  • Try not to go horseback riding for more than a couple of hours a day. More than this and you will probably regret it the next day.

Charges/Fares (2011):

  • Horse ride charges to Matheran Market Rs 200 TO Rs 250 per horse.(one person per horse)
  • The approx distance will be around 3 km, so if you interested in doing some trekking in the forest, better opt for going by foot.
  • Hand pulled rickshaw charges to Market approx. RS 250 to Rs 350 (one person +a little luggage per rickshaw)
  • Porter- Rs 100 to Rs 200 per porter (not per bag)
  • Above prices are approximate and it is common practice to bargain for a better rate.

 

 

 

Best time to visit

Matheran is pleasant throughout the year. But the best time is between October and May after the monsoons. You will see plenty of waterfalls, mist-covered valleys, vibrant greenery and floating clouds.
The rain clouds swoop down to kiss the Sahyadris. There are heavy rainfalls. The plants and trees sparkle in their finest greenery. Dense mist and patches of clouds play hide-and-seek. The entire vista acquires a fairytale mystique.
Cotton clothing is sufficient during summer. Carry light woollens in winter; and raincoats and rubber shoes during the monsoons.

Some of the trek organizers:

mumbaihikers.com

http://www.natureknights.net

Moombai Hyker :

https://plus.google.com/101587930458456918751/posts

Trailblazers Adventure Club:

http://www.blogger.com/profile/14943271532313093449

Posted by: getaway2india | May 13, 2012

Lakshadweep – India’s Only Coral Islands

Lakshadweep

The archipelago’s name comes from the Sanskrit word for the number 100,000 – “lakh”. Poetic licence wins out over numerical accuracy, as in reality there are just 36 islands in Lakshadweep. Maybe many centuries ago there might have been more islands which are now under the sea..

About 220 to 440 Kms away from the cost of Kerala lie one of the world’s most spectacular tropical Islands systems in a scattered group of 36 coral islands collectively known as Lakshadweep. They form part of the Union Territory of India and are one of the country’s newest tourist destinations. Of the 36 only 10 of the islands are inhabited by simple, peace-loving folk whose language is close to that spoken in Kerala. From that 10 Islands only 5 are open to Tourist and from the 5 only one (Bangaram ) is open to International Tourist. This is how exclusively protected the Islands are so as to ensure that the way of life of the islands is not disturbed by external influences. It is India’s only Coral Island Chain. Most of the islands have on their western side a lagoon enclosed by a coral reef. The lagoon runs through the entire length of the island and differs in width and depth.

Lakshadweep in India

The islanders have lifestyles and occupations that revolve around coconut cultivation, coir matting and fishing. The main focus of Lakshadweep Tourism is on water sports, as each of the island is surrounded by a coral reef providing large areas of crystal clear water for everything from snorkeling to wind surfing. The five islands which are open to tourists have simple accommodation in the shape of beach cottages. Permits to visit Lakshadweep can be obtained from the Lakshadweep tourist office in Cochin. What seem so tiny are actually the tops of an enormous undersea mountain range in the Arabian Sea. Regular flights operate from Cochin to one of the islands, as well as modestly priced ship cruises which stop at all the islands open to tourism. These cruises begin and end at Cochin.

MAP of the Islands

Lakshadweep is the perfect holiday for those who want to get away from the artifices of the world and enjoy a few days in simple yet stunningly beautiful surroundings. While equipment for water sports is available at the islands themselves, not much in the way of shopping and entertainment is possible as yet. Still some of the most experienced divers around the world have certified the virgin reefs of this island as the best diving location. Even if you are a novice, you can have diving sessions within safe depths. Cottages are made of indigenous materials with their palm thatched roofs.

Mind you Lakshadweep is not a budget tourist location due to the remoteness and also due to the scarcity of drinking water the price for 2 day at the lagoons would be as much as Rs 35,000. The cheapest sports tours start from Rs10,000 (all inclusive) for four days.

Best Season:

Between November – April

The Resorts of Lakshadweep are open all year round. Lakshadweep enjoys a pleasant tropical climate with summer temperatures ranging from 22° C to 33° C and winter temperatures from 20° C to 32° C. Southwest monsoons from June to September bring plenty of rainfall to the Islands. The rains (May to Sept) make the ship ride a little more difficult, make sure you carry a raincoat during this season. During monsoon you might actually get marooned if the rains suddenly starts and ships / flights close down!

General Information:

Area: 32 sq. km.

Capital: Kavaratti

Languages: Malayalam

Scenic Lakshadweep

Location:

The Islands lie spread out in the Arabian Sea about 220 to 440 Kms off the Kerala Coast between * and 12 Degree North Latitudes and 71 and 74 degrees East Longitudes. This Archipelago consists of 36 Islands, 12 Atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks. The Islands have a total area of32 Sq. Kms and the lagons are enclosed by the atolls.

Everybody requires a special permit to Visit Lakshadweep. Booking through Government tour operator S.P.O.R.T.S is the easiest way. Booking through online hotels is another way. Accomodition booked in advanced is a must for foreign tours to visit the islands.

Lakshadweep has the whitest Sand you will ever see.

Getting In:

Getting there isn’t easy. Your options are the overnight ferry from Kerala’s main city, Cochin – which requires a ship-to-shore transfer in a diesel-chugging converted fishing boat – or flying to the Lakshadweeps’ only airport on Agatti Island (also from Cochin) before completing your journey with a two-and-half-hour high-speed boat ride. Either way, it’s hardly convenient. This, presumably, is how the Maldives used to be.

Lakshadweep – One of the best places in the World for Scuba Dive

Plane:

Indian Airlines and Kingfisher Red has daily flight to Agatti. Kingfisher Red has a daily flight from Banglore.

Ship:

The Trip takes around 18 hours Most of the ship operate from Kochi like:

  • MV Tippu Sultan (the better one of the lot) has AC Cabin, AC Reclining Seats & Deck also Cafeteria snack bar etc.
  • MV Bharat Seema
  • MV Amindivi
  • MV Minicoy

The plublished sailing schedules are subject to sudden changes. The boats may arrive a day late or leave a day early!

Lakshadweep Beautiful Lakshadweep

Places of interest:

Kavaratti:

The administrative capital, Kavaratti is the most developed of the islands with the highest percentage of non-islanders as residents. The Island has 52 Mosque the most beautiful being the Ujra mosque. A well, within its precincts, is believed to contain water of curative powers. The Ujra mosque has an ornately carved ceiling, said to have been carved from a piece of driftwood. Kavaratti also has an aquarium with several colourful species of fish. There is a glass bottom boat for viewing marine life and an array of remarkable coral formations that provides a background to the lagoons and the islands within them.

Kalpeni:

Kalpeni has three uninhabited satellite islands, all surrounded by an immense lagoon of spectacular beauty. Sunlight on the water causes it to sparkle and flash like a million aquamarines. Koomel, the gently curving bay where the tourist facilities are located, directly overlooks Pitti and Thilakkam, two of the islands. Here you can swim, reef walk, snorkel or use water sports equipment like kayaks, and sail boats. Now the tourist facilities have been augmented and tourists can stay on the island in privately managed huts, depending on the package. This lagoon is especially rich in coral life.

Kadmat:

A particularly fine lagoon, of even depth and an endless shoreline, perfect for swimming, makes Kadmat a haven of solitude. The tourist huts are situated some distance away from habitation, with only the splash of the waves to break the silence. It is the only island with lagoons on both eastern and western sides.

A Water Sports Institute providing water sports facilities has been set up in Kadmat. Accommodation consists of AC and non AC tourist huts aesthetically situated in the coconut palm groves on the beaches. The island is becoming increasingly popular for honeymooners. As a testimony to its Water Sports potential, a Scuba Diving Centre has been set up there.

Motor Vehicle – Minicoy

Minicoy:

The traveller Marco Polo described Minicoy as the larger of the Islands and as the “Island of women” due to its dominance of females. Here familes take the woman’s name as the family surname and manage most family matters. Furthest from Kavaratti Island, 200 Kms. away to the south and also nearer to the Maldives, is the incredible size of the lagoon, Minicoy is one of the largest in Lakshadweep. It has a culture very different from any other island – dress, language, food, all differ. A walk through the winding lanes of the villages is an indication of the culture here. Minicoy is renowned for its dance tradition: the lava dance is performed on festive occasions. Privately managed cottages have been built on the isolated beaches and are available for tourists. There is also a Lighthouse built by the British about 100 years ago.

Minicoy is the only island in Lakshadweep having three large ship wrecks believed to be that of S.S Hoechst and other ships, within 8 mtrs depth on the island reef. It is believed that these ship wreck initiated construction of light house In 1885. These wrecks are virtual underwater museums and fish species found here are larger than average normal size found else where perhaps due to consumption of Ferrous of the wrecks.

Strangely Shaped Boats
Lakshadweep

Agatti:

Agatti has one of the most beautiful lagoons in Lakshadweep. This is where the airport is built. A virtual gateway of Lakshadweep, a 20 bed tourist complex has been set up here. The Island Will Shortly be opened for tourists. Helicopter Transfers are available for US$150 return).

Lakshadweep

Bangaram:

There is something indescribably romantic about the very notion of an uninhabited island and Bangaram justifies that feeling. Teardrop shaped, it is encircled by a continuous halo of creamy sand.

At twilight, as the setting sun, casts its reflection on the water, and with the ever present coconut palms as a black silhouette, Bangaram is at the height of its allure.  That is the hour when every visitor promises himself another visit someday.

The warm, clear, deep waters of Arabian Sea with its myriad marine flora and fauna are an irresistible invitation to the scuba diving fraternity of the world. The exquisite coral formations including the black coral formations, the large variety and number of coral fish-the angel, the clown, the butterfly, the surgeon, the groupers, not to mention the abundance of the awesome, but harmless sharks, mantarays, sting rays, moray eels (morena) and turtles, make diving here an addictive experience, enough to make impressive any diver’s logbook with the stamp of the Diving School at Bangaram.

Bangaram is surrounded b one of the largest and safest lagoon with its calm unimaginable blue-green waters. And the whitest beach sand you can imagine.

Onwards flights from Kochi are available to most of the Airports in India and International destination. Helicopter transfer is available from Agatti to Bangaram Island Resort during monsoon and to Kavaratti throughout the year. Flights from Cochin to Agatti take approximately one hour and thirty minutes.

Presently it looks like Bangaram Island Resort is closed due to some governmental action the resort owners are trying to get it reopened through the supreme court, check here for more details and update:

Lakshadweep – Administration Office

http://www.cghearth.com/bangaram-island

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WATERSPORTS

Scuba Dive

All the 5 Islands offer Kayaks, Canoes, Pedal Boats, Sail Boats, Wind Surfers, Snorkels Sets Glass-bottom boats etc for the Tourist to entertain himself.  Kadmat, Kavaratti Bangaram have facilities for Scuba Diving. Deep sea fishing buffs can pursue big game fishing. Barracuda, Sail Fish, Yellow Fin Tuna, Triveli and sharks are abundant in the seas around Lakshadweep.

Scuba Dive

Alcohol:

Consumption of Alcohol is banned in Lakshadweep except in Bangaram.

Sleep:

There are only 3 full service Resorts:

  1. Bangaram Island Resort (Closed as of now)
  2. Kadmat Island Resort
  3. Agatti Island Resort

Bangaram Island Resort (Closed as of now)

Presently it looks like Bangaram Island Resort is closed due to some governmental action the resort owners are trying to get it reopened through the supreme court, check here for more details and update:

http://www.cghearth.com/bangaram-island

Kadmat Island Resort

It was Lakshadweep’s first scuba dive facility. Now it is the choice of scuba divers. There are 22 Executive Huts, 26 Family Huts. The facility is Government run and Basic. Cost around Rs 4,000.

Agatti Island Resort

This 6km long Island is located 459 Km away from Cochin. Fishing is the main occupation here. This island has some of the best beaches in the World. Tourist can Swim, Snorkel, Scuba dive, Deep Sea Fishing, Sailing, Boat rides, Water Skiing and Kayaking.

Diveline Agatti  which operates the diving shop in Agatti Resort charges Rs 3,000 per dive.

Get out

The only way out is back to Kochi.

Lakshadweep Resorts

Tour Packages:

Agatti Govt Cottage

For 2 Persons (double occupancy basis)

  • 3 Nights          –           Non AC= Rs15,000    AC=21,000
  • Extra Bed        –           Non AC=Rs2,250       AC=2750
  • Plus Heritage Fee = Rs 200 per person
  • Plus Entry Permit = Rs 250 per person
  • Add Airport Transfer Rs1,000 per person.

5% Service Tax

It could add up to:

Room for 2 x say Rs15,000 x 2 = Rs30,000,

Entry Permit = Rs250 x 2 = Rs500

Plus Heritage Fee = Rs 200 x 2 = Rs 400

Add Airport Transfer Rs1,000 x 2 = Rs 2,000

So for 2 person it could be above  Rs 33,000 (Rs 30,000 +500+400+2000 = Rs 32,900)

Agatti is cheaper as it is around the Airport traveling to other islands will incur Speed boat transfer which will be another Rs3,500 per person.

Tour Packages

Note:

  • Liquor is strictly prohibited and so also is collecting corals.
  • Timings of Plane and Ships are bound to change from time to time.
  • Visibility underwater could be poor in off season (Rainy seson) and not great time for scuba diving or snorkeling.
Lakshadweep

SPORTS provide comfortable A/C & Non A/C accommodation in the islands and onboard the ships. The tourist cottages in the islands are clean and well maintained. For certain packages like Coral Reef, overnight accommodation is provided on board the ship. The tourists cottages in the islands are built on the beach front and provide a breath taking lagoon view. Food provided is hygienic and wholesome. During day visits to islands, food is served ashore. While catering to all the comforts of the tourists, intrusive ultra modern gadgets have been avoided by design to provide a really exclusive get away feeling.

Website:

http://lakshadweeptourism.com/

Update yourself with the Lakshadweepforum

http://www.lakshadweepforum.com/

Posted by: getaway2india | November 21, 2011

Vaikom – The Sleepy Town of Kerala

The sleepy town of Vaikom is situated on the western side of Kottayam district and shares its border with Vembanattu Kayal (Vembanad lake). Vaikom is the oldest township in Kottayam district and amongst the oldest in Keralam. Its importance in Indian history is ‘Vaikom Satyagraham’ against untouchability and as venue for achieving for the lower castes the right to walk on the roads surrounding the temple. Leader of the Indian Freedom Movement Mahatma Gandhi participated in this struggle.

It is easily accesable from:

  • Ernakulam,
  • Alappuzha and
  • Kottayam.

Vaikom Temple Entrance

Mahadeva temple is famous for Ashtami (vaikattamshtami), and the temple also known as Thekkan Kashi (Southern Varanasi) is the heart of the town, and is remarkable for the Vaikom Ashtami celebrations during November.

This temple, along with Ettumanoor Siva Temple, Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple is considered a powerful trisome. The belief is that if a devotee worships at these three temples before ‘Ucha pooja’, all the wishes are fulfilled.

Ashtami

The Vaikom Mahadeva temple is one of the few temples which is held in reverence by both Shaivaites and the Vaishnavaites. Vaikom’s Shiva is fondly called Vaikkathappan. The Shiva Linga here is believed to be from the ‘Treta yuga’ and considered as one of the oldest temples in Kerala where pooja has not been broken since inception.

Mixture of Hindu, Christian, and Muslim residents lead peaceful life in this beautiful place.

The Vaikom temple is famous for the Vaikom Ashtami, one of its main festivals, which is held in November–December. The exact date of the festival is determined by the Malayalam calendar. Vaikathashtami is celebrated on the day of Krishna Ashtami.

Temple’s Official Site:

http://vaikomtemple.org/

Coconut and rice are the major crops and these used to be backbone of Vaikom economy along with Fishing. More recently spices like Nutmeg, Black Pepper have also caught the attention of Vaikom farmers. Another recent addition is Latex.

Palaikari farm,Chembu near Vaikom, Kottayam.

125-acre Palaikari padasekharam was located at a distance of 22 km from Kochiand 12 km from Vaikom, held immense potential for the venture and emerged  as a front runner in the promotion of aqua tourism in the Kottayam district.

Designed as an aqua-tourism enterprise it combines a working fish farm with an eco-tourism experience in a way that the adventurous and unpretentious are sure to enjoy.

Welcome Drink – 1 Per Head

Palaikari farm in Kottayam district is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque places in Kerala, God’s own Country.

Rs200 = Entry, Speed Boat Ride to & fro, Welcome Drink, Ice Cream & Lunch

Boat

Peddle Boat

The Palaikkari farm is famous for its lush coconut groves in the bund area and the presence of bountiful variety of fish from nearby Vembanadu lake.

Beautiful View

The scenic backwater tourism destination,it offers visitors exotic sightseeing, boating and fishing experiences.

Hammock

One can have a close view of the countryside, fishing activity, coconut palms lining the waters and also relish the fresh fish delicacies, is truly a beautiful experience.

A Beer House in Vaikom (Patronised by Gents only) Vaikom Beer Hall – Good place to argue about local polical parties or the world in general

Homestay:

Great Food, Greater relaxation!

Great Food, Greater relaxation!

One good Homestay in Vaikom is the Karithanam Homestay. The House owners have made a very good effort of blending in the antique with the modern. They have a genuine Ayurvedic practioner for the massages and treatment. Their website at www,karithanam.com is also very professionally done. Their prices start at Rs 4,500 (55 Euros). They even have good reviews on Tripadvisor.com:

Karithanam (Kari tha nam) Homestay

Karithanam (Kari tha nam) Homestay

http://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g1467529-d3952062-Reviews-Karithanam_Ayur_Farms-Vaikom_Kerala.html

Honeymoon Decor at KAF

Honeymoon Decor at KAF

Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/KarithanamAyurFarms

Dinner Time - Karithanam

Dinner Time at Karithanam

Enjoy the Backwaters of Vaikom

Enjoy the Backwaters of Vaikom

2 Kilometers of Street... lit-up by traditional Oil Lamps during Festival!

2 Kilometers of Street… lit-up by traditional Oil Lamps during Festival!

Posted by: getaway2india | July 26, 2011

Mahabaleshwar – Strawberry Country

 

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar is the largest hill station in the Sahyadri range of Maharashtra state. It is situated at an altitude of 1372 m above seal level in the Satara district, about 115 km southwest of Pune. After Matheran and Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar is the 3rd most popular weekend get away for Mumbaites.

Map

Due to its high altitude, the town has a cool climate and offers many pleasant walks. There are several lookout points which offer spectacular views of the surrounding hills and valleys. There is an old Shiva temple in the forest, which is the source of five rivers, including the Krishna river which is the second longest river of peninsular India.

Mahabaleshwar is visited by many thousands of tourists every year. It is well connected by bus with the important towns of the region. There are numerous hotels for every budget.

One can see Strawberries literally everywhere, all along the way, shops, restaurants, farms,and even smell.

Peak season is March-May;

Off Season: it rains very heavily from June to September. This is a season when one gets great discounts ;-).

It takes on a different charm in the Monsoon as you can see in the video below:

Mahabaleshwar in Rains

If you deccide to travel during the Monsoon I would recommend to buy yourself some nice waterproof boots.

Gumboots

The hill station virtually shuts up shop during the monsoon, when an unbelievable 6m of rain falls. Buildings are clad with kulum grass to stave off damage from the torrential downpours. After things calm down, the reward is abundantly green landscapes.

Mahabaleshwar has a moderate climate all through the year.

  • Summers (March to June) are pleasant and temperature varies between a minimum of 18°C to a maximum of 29°C. It is very pleasant and ideal for sight seeing.
  • Monsoons (June to September) offer average annual rainfall. The place looks beautiful in rains.
  • Winters (December to February) are cool and the temperature varies minimum 5°C to maximum 24°C. It is nice for wandering around the city and also for sight seeing.

One can visit Mahabaleshwar all through the year, but better to keep off heavy monsoon days.

Strawberry Farm

Among the local delicacies, strawberry shakes and corn patties are well known. Ingredients for these are all grown locally.

 

Mahableshwar

 

History

We find the first mention of Mahabaleshwar in 1215 when King Singhan of Deogiri visited Old Mahabaleshwar and built a small temple and water tank at the source of the Krishna River.
In the early 14th century, Mahabaleshwar was ruled by the Moguls, but in the later half of the century, a Brahmin dynasty took over.

In the 15th Century, the Muslim Kings of Bijapur and Ahmednagar captured Mahabaleshwar.
In the middle of the 16th century, the Maratha family of Chandarao More, became rulers of Jaoli and Mahabaleshwar during whose period the Old Mahabaleshwar temple was rebuilt.

In the 17th century, Chatrapati Shivaji captured Mahabaleshwar. After him, the Peshwas ruled till 1819.And after that, Mahabaleshwar became part of the Kingdom of Satara. Colonel Lodwick, who later became a General, did a lot for the development of Mahabaleshwar.

Getting In:

Mahabaleshwar Route

By Road

You can take a tourist bus (Volvo) from Mumbai, departing from Dadar East, Sion or Vashi. The ride will take you 6 hours and will cost around Rs 350(2009 rate).

An ordinary AC bus will cost Rs 200. The Volvo/Mercedes bus from Pune is currently operated by two private companies (Neeta Company and Konduskar Company), and they charge approx Rs 400 each way (year 2011).

The Govt. Express bus from swargate starting 5.45AM and every hour with a moderate price of 110/- per individual.

Mahabaleshwar is also accessible by road from Mumbai, about 247 km. It takes about 4 to 5 hours by car if taking a route via Panvel through Mahad and Poladpur.

  

                                        Roads to Mahableshwar

Neeta - the Best Bus Fleet Operators in India

 

Via Mumbai -Pune expressway 

The distance via this route is about 40 kms more but you reach much faster. You have to get off this highway at a place called Sirur and then travel via Wai and Panchgani to Mahabaleshwar. The road is easier to drive on.

By Train

You can also reach Satara by train from Mumbai/Bangalore. Mahabaleshwar is 47 km from Satara and takes little more than one hour from there.

Check-In Time

Try to arrive here in the morning because most of the hotels have a check-in time of 9AM. If you arrive later you may have to wait until another room becomes vacant.

Mahablashwar Road Tax - There is a similar one for Panchgani

 

Places to see in Mahabaleshwar

You can travel between various “Points” by using:

  • Taxis, auto rickshaws and buses leave from the center of town near Irani’s petrol pump opposite the Club.

Horse-Riding-Venna-Lake

  • Horses also are available in town and there are lovely shaded bridle paths for delightful rides.
  • The best way to get around is by bus which is provided by Govt. You can book ticket prior only. Cost is around 60/- to 70/- per individual. Govt. Bus has two tour one is Pratapgad darshan in morning 9.15AM and Mahabaleshwar darshan in noon 2.15PM. They are best.

The Bazaar is in the center of town and consists of a pedestrian-only street with shops selling everything from fancy locally-made walking sticks to snacks and the specialty of the region – roasted chickpea nuts.

At the far end of the bazaar stands a Mahabaleshwar institution, Imperial Stores, owned and run by generations of the Irani family. Here you can get anything from videos to provisions to ice cream to beer.

To See

Although there are close to 25 ‘Points’ in Mahabaleshwar, lots of these points would give you the same view (of mountains/valley) from a slightly different angle. Of those the following are a must:

Arthurs Seat Point

  • Arthur’s Seat

This point got its name from Arthur Mallet, who is believed to be the first man to reach this hill station, where he built a home for himself, way back in the early 1800s. The rock formations on its southern side are often compared to those found in the Grand Canyon of Colorado. It’s the only point from where you can clearly see the dramatic geographical differences between the Konkan and the Deccan.

  • Babington Point

Wilsons Point

  • Wilson Point

Kates Point

  • Kate’s Point
  • Bombay Point (Sunset Point)


  • Bombay Point (Sunset Point)

Elephant Head Point

  • Elephant’s head Point

Lingmala falls

  • Lingamala Falls (best viewed from behind Surya Resort) Pratapgad Fort

Mapro Farm

Falero Car

The Mapro Farm which manufactures and sells a wide range of strawberry and fruit products – squashes, lemonades, fruit juices, etc. is worth a visit.

Falero Restaurant Traiff Board - Price are mostly in 3 digits 😦 ...but still its crowded...

 

 

Shiva Temple

The old Shiva Temple in old Mahabaleshwar is the source of 5 rivers – Krishna River (the second longest river of peninsular India) and 4 other rivers (Koyana, Venna (Veni), Savitri, and Gayatri) all of which flow out from the cow (bull’s) mouth throughout the year.The four rivers travel some distance before merging with the Krishna.

Mahabaleshwar Temple

This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a Shiva Linga called Lord Mahabali.
Mahabaleshwar has been named after this deity of this temple.

Water Falls and Lakes

There are three major waterfalls:

  • Lingmala waterfall (6 kms),
  • Dhobi waterfall (3 kms) and
  • Chinaman’s waterfall (2.5 kms).

Venna Lake is 2.5 km long and has boating facilities.

Places to see around Mahabaleshwar

You can visit Panchgani (19 kms), Pratapgarh Fort (24 kms), Tapola  (25 kms), and Satara.

Panchgani (8 Kms) Panchgani derives its name from the five hills around it. The five hills surrounding Panchgani are topped by a volcanic plateau, which is the second highest in Asia after the Tibetan plateau. These plateaus, alternatively known as “table land”, are a part of the Deccan Plateau and they were raised by pressure between the earth plates. The area has high seismic activity, with an epicenter near Koynānagar where the Koynanagar Dam and a hydroelectric power plant have been built.

View from Sydney Point, Panchgani

Sydney Point: This point is situated on a hillock facing the Krishna Valley. One can see from here the glittering waters of the Dhom Dam, and Pāndavgad and Mandhārdeo. Sydney point is about 2 Km from Panchgani Bus stand.

View of the Panchgani Table land from Sydney Point

Table Land: This flat large expanse of laterite rock is the second longest mountain plateau in Asia. Some spacious caves including the “Devil’s Kitchen” are visible from here.

Parsi Point: This scenic point is situated on the way to Mahabaleshwar, and overlooks the Krishna valley and the blue shiny waters of the Dhom Dam.

Devil’s Kitchen: Situated at the south of the table land, the Devil’s Kitchen (Bhim Chula – Bhim was know to eat a lot) has a mythology associated with it: It is believed that the Pāndavas of the Mahābhārat epic had stayed here for a while. Pāndavgad Caves (near Wāi) are also said to be built by them then.

Mapro Garden: Situated on the curvaceous roads between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar, it is easily accessible by buses originating both from Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. A haven for tourists hungry for strawberry delicacies as well as factory fresh items like jams, syrups squashes and confectionery items by Mapro Foods Pvt Ltd.

Pandavgad Fort

Pandavgad caves (near Wai) are situated on a small south-east projection of Pandavgad fort. The fort commands an excellent view of the surrounding area. To the east one gets a bird s eye view of Wai. The small spur with the caves is found at about a distance of 300 yards. The angle it makes with the main spur should be made for and about 200 feet up are the caves. The first is a flat roofed chapel or chaitya about twenty-one feet by seven and about twelve to fourteen feet high. An arched entrance blocked up with mud and stones lead to a relic shrine or daghoba four and half feet in diameter and six feet high.

Pandavgad Cave

Close by is another cave seven feet square, also flat-roofed with an arched entrance and containing a mutilated stone instead of the daghoba which is three feet in diameter at the base and scarcely a foot at the top. East of Cave II is an eight-celled dwelling cave about thirty-five feet square and five feet high. The floor has been much silted up with earth brought in by rain water. The original height, as seen from the outside, was probably eight feet. The roof is flat and the rock overhangs four feet making a verandah with an entrance in its back wall about eight feet wide. The cells are two each on the east and west and four on the north, and there is a bed shelf all round.

Things to do:

There are many things to do in Mahableshwar. In your leisure time you can roam about the bazaar and do lots of shopping. You can also try your luck at the poker machines.

Venna Lake Boat Club

  • Boating – Lake Venna. Visit lake Venna for a ride on paddle/ or rowing boat. You may ride boat on your own or, alternatively, you can hire one. Beautiful and scenic lake.

Venna Lake Boating

  • Horse Riding. You can hire horses for some riding at Venna Lake. Can leave it during the Monsoon.
  • Trekking. There are many trekking trails around the hills of Mahabaleshwar. Ask your hotel for the nearest trekking trail.
  • Cycling – but be careful of speeding traffic especially on the outskirts. Bikes can be hired from Vasant Cycle Mart for Rs. 10 per hour or Rs. 50 per day.

To Eat:

Strawberry Fruit

  • Strawberries and Mulberries are the specialty of Mahabaleshwar. Buy the ‘sweet charlie’ variety of strawberries from the main Mahabaleshwar Market. Alternatively, you can also venture out into interior parts to handpick your berry from the strawberry farms.

Strawberry Milkshakes

  • Milkshakes of the above  – Strawberries, Mulberries etc.

Corn Patties

  • Corn – One should not forget to try the Corn grown locally available in both roasted and boiled form. Corn patties (Makka Patties) made from it are delicious. The food prepared with local vegetables have a unique taste and one should also try the small tomatoes which look like cherries!

Vada Pav

  • Vada Pav – Don’t forget to have the staple food of Maharashtra the Vada Pav which is deliciously prepared by the local vendor next to the Hanuman Temple in the main market.
  • Almost all the hotels have their own restaurants. Hotel Dream Land, Hotel Panorama & Hotel Shreyas have a nice restaurant and good food, and all three are close to the State Bus stand.
  • Hotel Temple-view – Vegetarian restaurant at old Mahabaleshwar for excellent parathas Rajasthani favorites. Hotel Woodland is another good option.

Mapro Garden

  • Mapro Garden, Mapro garden restaurant offers a decent menu. Most of the tourist vehicles stop here, on their way to Mahabaleshwar.

Shop - Mapro Garden, Situated on the curvaceous roads between Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar

Drinks:

Generally restaurants here do not serve liquor, but a few places close to the State Bus Stand, like Hotel Shreyas have it on menu. You can buy all the liquor you want from Imperial Stores.

Hotel Rajesh - One of the Better hotels 20mtrs behind the Main Bus Stop Naka

 

Some of the Places to Stay:

A family-run heritage hotel with excellent and well furnished rooms with en-suite bathrooms & TV. Enjoy the panoramic view of the lake on the balcony as you sip your tea. Veg & Non Veg dining .Contact Mr Naval Jal or Hormuzd 6th & 7th generation owners for a relaxing break/stay. UK Contact: rohinjal@hotmail.com Rs 900-500 (starting off-season rate negotiable.).

http://www.hotelrajesh.com/

Centrally located pure vegetarian hotel with 70 centrally air conditioned rooms and 20 non air-conditioned rooms. Parking, pool with waterfall, gym, children’s play park with mini train.

  • Hotel Templeview, (in Old Mahabaleshwar), Ph (02168) 60025 / 60050,

http://www.templeview.net/

Check-in: 24 hours.

A family-run hotel with excellent and well furnished rooms and a big balcony to relax. They also have a dorm. Run by Mister Pradeep Jhaveri. Rs250-500 (starting off-season; negotiable).  

  • MTDC resort, New Mahabaleshwar (2 KM from the main market).

Check-in: 9.00AM; checkout: 9.00AM.

Surrounded by the jungle, gives a true feeling of wilderness. Rooms are just about okay. Food is fine. Some parts of resort building are about 125 years old. The cottages have three large sized rooms and a large bathroom & dressing area with respect to the price paid. The food and service are good. Most of all the location of the resort is the best value addition. Best described as “Best Value for money”. A Room rate starts from 700 for economy class.

  • Ramsukh, Old Mahabaleshwar, 7 KM away. Nice 3 star place.
  • Sherwood Hotel Pride, Blue Valley Ride, Off Satara Road, – 412 806. Tel: 02168 – 270070 / 77 / 99.

Check-in: 12; checkout: 11. Excellent hotel – superb location and Parsi food right in the middle of the jungle – best views in the hill station. 3000. (4000,) 

Expensive ones:

  • Valley View: includes gym ,indoor swimming pool , garden with view of valley , and good 3 star service.
  • Surya Retreat: rooms pointing to valley, great view, open swimming pool.
  • New hotel called Saket.

These Expensive hotels can cut a few more bucks from your wallet. These costs in range of 3000 – 5000/night depending on season.

Posted by: getaway2india | July 25, 2011

Lonavala and Khandala – Mumbai’s Holidayspot

Lonavala

Lonavala is a hill station in Maharashtra. It is approx 128 Kms from Mumbai VT (CSTM). Lonavala and Khandala are two hill stations that are situated on the western slopes of the Sahyadri hills. Lonavala is located at an altitude of 625 meters while Khandala is located slightly lower.

It is famous throughout India for the hard candy sweet known as chikki.

Map of Lonavala

Lonavala & Khandala along with Matheran are Mumbaikars’ favourite holiday spot. Its not uncommon for many people from Mumbai to go back to these hill places again and again every weekend as if like doing a pilgrimage. Many people find their peace here after being exhausted in the ratrace in the City. It is so closely connected to the city that one can go early in the morning spend some time there and come back by evening. Perfect for day picnickers and obviously couples in love ;).

The place comes alive during the monsoon season as the countryside turns lush green with waterfalls and ponds. It gets crowded but still its fun. Weekdays the place is quite deserted.

Lonavala map-1

History
During the 12th century, the Yadav Kings ruled Lonavala. Moghuls invaded the region and ruled for a long time. Later, Marathas, and after them, the Peshwas ruled the place. The Marathas and Peshwas built inaccessible, strategically located forts to protect their territory. The British started to rule this region from 1818.

Lonavala was discovered as a hill station in 1811 by Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone, then Resident of Pune and later Governor of Bombay. Elphinstone virtually founded the state education system in India, that too, at a time when British opinion was against educating the “natives”. The Elphinstone College of Mumbai is named after him. He refused the high post of Governor-General of India twice, to finish his authoritative two-volume work History of India.

Location

Lonavala and Khandala are extremely popular week end getaways amongst Mumbaites particularly because of their nearness to Mumbai. Both hill stations are famous for their scenic beauty, green hills, deep valleys, several lakes, historic forts and ancient caves. During the rainy season, the entire area becomes lush green with myriads of glistening waterfalls. Clouds sweep down to kiss the dense mist which seems to envelop everything.

Lonavala and Khandala have a number of sanatoria and are famous health resorts.  Many wealthy Mumbaites own flats or bungalows there.

Best Time to Visit

These hill stations can be visited throughout the year, but the best time to visit them is during the monsoons. It is only during this time that you can enjoy Bhushi Dam and other tourist destinations in their entire splendor.
During the rainy season, the rain clouds hover around and the place gets covered in dense mist. You can see many waterfalls all around. Try to avoid weekends and holiday season, unless you like crowds.

 

Distance:

Lonavala to Mumbai 108 Kms
Lonavala to Pune 66 Kms
Lonavala to Khandala 8 Kms

 

 

Air
Nearest international airport Mumbai
Nearest domestic airport Pune, 66 km away.

Lonavala Station

By train  VT (CSTM) or Dadar from Mumbai to Pune and the South stop at Lonavala. The Suburban (local) trains run only up to Karjat.  All Trains traveling from Mumbai to Pune stop at Khandala to fit extra engine for safety to climb the uphill ghats (valley). Lovanala has a proper stop.

The ticket would cost you about Rs. 55 and the journey would take about 2hrs 15mins instead of usual 3hrs or so by bus. Of course the website for train tickets is www.irctc.co.in.

Train Timings Website:

http://indiarailinfo.com/train/1264/1620/74

 

By Road

The road is one of the most beautiful ways to reach Lonavla. By Car, one can use the Mumbai Pune Expressway to reach Lonavla. You would have to take an exit at Khandala to get in. The toll is approximately Rs.85 from Mumbai, but taking the Expressway not only reduces the journey time by 1/3rd, but also ensures a smoother ride. Two and three wheelers are not allowed on the expressway. For two wheelers/ three wheelers, and for those who wish to avoid the toll, the other option is to use the old Mumbai Pune road NH4. From Pune, one can again take the NH4 or NH4 and Mumbai Express Highway combination.

Lonavla is about 90km away from the city of Mumbai and 65 km away from Pune City. Lonavla is easily accessible by road and by train from both Mumbai and Pune which are one of the nearest locations.

Mumbai Pune Expressway

You can also drive out of Mumbai via New Bombay or Vashi and take the new expressway. This will take you just an hour from New Bombay. The roads are well maintained so it is a pleasure to drive. Speed limit is 80Kmph but cars & Volvo buses regularly travel at 140Kmph.

Toll is collected at Khalapur (Pali Phata) (for the Mumbai-Pune direction) and at Talegaon (for the Pune-Mumbai direction). The toll is Rs.140 for private cars.

 

Mumbai Pune Expressway

  • By Bus: One can board a Volvo Bus from Mumbai to Pune or vice-versa which ply on the Beautiful Mumbai-Pune Expressway. They charge anywhere between Rs.170 to Rs.250 depending on the season. One can get down at Lonavala Exit on the Highway.
  • By Cab: There are also share cabs which one can take from Dadar or Vashi in Mumbai and Pune Station or Chinchwad in Pune. They also follow the same route and charge between Rs.100 to Rs.150 depending on the season and the car. Although a cab is the fastest way to reach Lonavala from either points, but one should avoid traveling in them at night or during the monsoons. If you are traveling during the monsoons, DO NOT SLEEP. The beauty of the route is one of a kind.

Sights:

Bushi Dam – Overflowing In Monsoon

  • Bushi dam

The Bushi dam is worth visiting particularly during the monsoons. During the monsoons, the dam gets filled with water and it overflows on the ‘steps’. People can sit on these steps and get wet. There are also a few other waterfalls around.

Bushi Dam – In Dry months

Put on your bathing clothes and chappals before heading. Enjoy an evening lolling about in cool crystal clear water with your friends sipping hot tea and eating corn.

Caution: The waterfalls get slippery during monsoons and a lot of accidents take place during this time. Carrying basic first-aid is advisable.

You can explore the hills by trekking up them. Tiger Hill is another spot one can check out.

There are regular buses running from the Lonavala bus stand to Bushi dam. It takes approximately 15 minutes to reach this place via bus.

Rajmachi

  • Rajmachi Point
    Rajmachi Point is located about 6.5 km from Lonavla. This point commands a view of Shivaji’s famous fort, Rajmachi (Royal terrace) and the surrounding valley. Regular State Transport buses ply between Rajmachi Point and Lonavla from the State Transport Bus Stand. The famous Vaghjai Dari is also located here.
  • Rajmachi Fort

It was a fort used by the Maratha warrior Shivaji. It is a place worth visiting but can be reached only on foot as it is surrounded by deep valleys on three sides and by a thick forest on the fourth side.

Other forts are – the Manoranjan Fort, Shrivardhan Fort, Visapur Fort, Lohagad Fort and the Tunga Fort.

Ryewood Park Lonavala

  • Ryewood Park & Shivaji Udyan
    This is an extensive garden situated in Lonavla. The Ray Wood Park is located inside the town near the Lonavala market. This is a sprawling botanical garden which has now turned into a large picnic garden with large lawns, tall trees and cool shades. The garden covers a lot of ground and it is full of tall trees. There is an old Shiva temple in the park. The garden has plenty of place for children to play. Tungarli Lake Tungarli Lake supplies water to Lonavla town. There are no buses to the site, but taxis and auto rickshaws are available from Lonavla Station (3 km).
  • Valvan Dam
    Valvan Dam has a garden at its foot, and is a popular evening spot 2 km from the town.
  • The dam supplies water to the Khopoli power station at the foothills of the Sahyadris for generating electricity. The Kundali River feeds into the dam’s reservoir.

 

  • Lonavla Lake
    This is the most famous lake. Also called Bushi Lake, it is located about a kilometre from Lonavala. This lake is owned by Central Railway and is on the way to INS Shivaji.
    Constructed in 1876, it is a very beautiful picnic spot. The Indryani River is supposed to originate from this lake. There is also a dam here. Unfortunately, the lake practically dries up in summer. It is surrounded by natural scenery, about 1.6 km from the town.

 

Dukes Nose

  • Duke’s Nose
    Duke’s Nose stands 12 km from Lonavla, clearly visible from the highway while driving towards Mumbai. This landmark in Khandala is popular with hikers. The cliff owes its name to the Duke of Wellington , whose ample nose it resembles.

 

  • Tiger’s Leap
    Tiger’s Leap is a cliff-top with a sheer drop of over 650 m, giving an extensive view. Buses are available up to I.N.S. Shivaji and the remaining distance of about 1.6 km has to be covered on foot.

 

  • Malavali is on the main road about 8 km from Lonavala (towards Pune).
    The Karla and Bhaja caves are both about 5 km from Malavali, but on opposite sides of the road.

 

Karla & Baja Caves

  • Karla Caves
    Karla, located near Lonavla, is a complex of cave shrines built by Buddhist monks around 3rd to 2nd century B.C.  Far more interesting, much less known and rarely visited are the ancient and historical caves in the region.
    Some of the oldest and most magnificent Buddhist caves in India lie scattered in this region.

Karla, 12 kms from Lonavala, has the largest chaitya griha (Buddhist chapel) in India. There are several viharas (monasteries or dwelling caves). These were built around 160 BC.

In terms of purity of design, the Karla caves represent the zenith of the Satwahan school of Hinayana style of temple architecture. They are the biggest and best preserved Buddhist cave temples in India.

The entrance to the chaitya griha is in the shape of a “Peepal” leaf. As one enters the magnificent hall, he is spell bound by the beauty of the stone pillars which are carved with life-like figures of elephants and human forms which represent different forms of Gautam Buddha. The pillars are surprisingly smooth. The high majestic roof is semicircular.

There is adequate provision for storage of drinking water in the tanks around.
There is a small temple of Ekvira Devi at the entrance.

 

MTDC Holiday Resort Karla

Karla MTDC Holiday resort and Boating
There is a MTDC ( Maharashtra tourism development Corporation ) holiday resort at Karla spread over 30 acres of land. It is located on the Indravani river. Here you can hire paddle boats, motor boats and water scooters.

 

Bedsa Cave

  • Bedsa Caves
    16 kilometres south of Karla close to the Kamshet Railway Station is the village called Bedsa. A 3 kilometres walk up a stiff hill takes one to the Bedsa caves.

These caves have a huge chaitya, and numerous small resting chambers or cells for monks. The vihara has 9 cells and couple of side cells. In one of the larger cells is a non-Buddhist deity Yamai.

The caves have huge pillars, lions and human figures. The arched roof of the chaitya is supported by 2,000-year-old woodwork. Under a tree in the village below is the Tandula stone of Bedsai. Every year, a palki (palanquin) is taken from this village to Yamai’s shrine and then to Vaghoba (deity of the pass) up the hill.

 

  • Bhaja Caves
    Of the 18 caves in Bhaja, Cave No. 12, the finest of the cave complex, is an open chaitya constructed earlier than the Karla caves. This cave has sculptures of Surya and Indra with a Yaksha below Surya. The pillars here have centaurs.
    Cave No. 1 is the dwelling house of the master architect.
    Nine caves are viharas and the remaining 7 caves contain inscriptions about the donors.

The Bhaja caves are similar to the Karla Caves but on a much smaller scale. These caves are so constructed that the rays of the setting sun enter these caves.
On the southern side, there is a place where one can see carved figures of Gods and Goddesses.
Below the mountain is Mukkai, the site of the pre historic Mother Goddess. Even today, the villagers offer sacrifices once a year.

On one side of Bhaja is Lohagad Fort. On the other side, the Visapur Fort.

 

Lohagad Fort

  • Lohagad Fort
    A robust climb of about 11.2 km from Malavali Railway Station takes you to the ‘Iron Fort’, once a formidable battle-station of Shivaji. The fort commands a view of the surrounding hills and hamlets.

 

  • I.N.S. Shivaji
    A Naval Engineering Training Base.

 

  • Lion’s Point
    Scenic point midway between Bhushi Dam and Amby Valley. It is located atop a steel cliff facing the windward side. Hence you get an amazing gale when you stand at its edge. You get a clear view of the valley beneath in all the different shades of green. There are a few ‘reverse waterfalls’, as in the wind speed is so high forceful that it blows the falling water and it rains back up again on the cliff.

 

  • Tungarli Lake and Dam
    This lake is at the north of the bus stand near Tungarli village. It supplies water to Lonavala. This lake and Dam come to life during the Monsoon season, where youth climb the mountain top to the Dam. This dam was built during the British era and features a serene surrounding. An excellent place for back-pack Camping. You can see hotel Laguna from the top and also see some celebrity bungalows and also beautiful views of Rajmachi, Lohagad, Visapur forts and Lonavala City.

 

Liril Point

  • Liril Point (of Liril Bathing-Soap Advertisment)

Liril Point. Take a rickshaw from Lonavala station. All the rickshaw-wallas know Liril Point. They will drop you to the top of the mountain where the stream begins and from there you have to trek down to Liril Point which is where there are several beautiful waterfalls. Apparantly, the old Liril ads were shot here. You can either take the trek route following the stream (the more beautiful route), or the path on the hill (the safer option).

The Old Liril Advertisment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9-1XD9VvX4

What to buy: Chikki, Chikki and more Chikki, there are 30 different variety of Chikki:

To know more about Chikki: http://strayingaround.blogspot.com/2006/06/chikki-at-lonavala_21.html

Make sure you Trek the Sahyadri Mountain Ranges

Do

Trek the Sahyadris. (Note: Never trek alone or you could get robbed. Make sure you trek along with some group or organization like the below mentioned). The mountains on which these hills are located are excellent for trekking and rock climbing etc and there are always regulars who do the weekend trek. Some of them meet up through websites like:

http://www.mumbaihikers.org/

http://www.chakramhikers.com/membership/index.html

http://sahyadritreks.mumbaihikers.com/

Places to Stay

  • Avion Holiday Resort,
  • Valvan Village Resort,
  • Fariyas Resort,
  • The MTDC holiday resort at Karla also offers very good accommodation
    at reasonable rates.

Book your rooms in advance through a website otherwise you might find all the rooms to be full if you reach on Friday/Saturday.

Get out

  • By Railway: All trains from Mumbai and Pune stops at Lonavala Junction/Station. You can also board in to Public or private bus service. Also taxi service is available from Lonavala to Pune City. But train is the most convenient way to get out of Lonavala.

Chikki – Make sure you buy some before leaving. Some for you and some for your friends.

Buy

Lonavala is famous for Chiki sweet. There are about 30 different varieties Peanut, Coconut, Til etc. Stock up on this here. Maganlal and A1 Chiki are two famous shops. Also try Anjir which is a lot softer and Choclate Chiki/Anjir/Barfi/Fudge. The chocolate stuff was awesome!

Mangal & A1 Chikki Shops are the best!

Using GPS on Sahyadri Treks:

http://www.geocities.com/drchengalva/

http://www.binoygupta.com/travel_india/lonavala-khandala-caves-waterfalls-38/

http://trifter.com/asia-pacific/india/weekend-trip-from-mumbai-to-lonavala/

Posted by: getaway2india | July 22, 2011

The Magnificent Ruins of Hampi

Hampi

Hampi  in Karnataka state, India is the site of the once-magnificent capital of the Vijayanagar Empire.  The ruins of the empire is spread over the area of 26 sq km.  It is said that at one point of time, diamonds were sold on the streets of this empire. The area is stunning and the ruins could easily put you in awe.  The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is a place for people who love History, study Ruins, the past, Architecture and Construction.

Map

Map of Hampi

Always buy a local map for easier and faster getting around and understanding the place much better.

Hampi is a great place to spend a few days wandering around and discovering the rich, vibrant history while also having a bit of ‘your’ time. Within this arid landscape lies a little oasis with lush palm, banana and mango trees nestled near the river.

Hampi hosts ‘Hampi Utsav’ every year during first week of November. It is a visual delight as all the monuments/ruins are lighted in the night and it is a cultural extravaganza of dance and music. Jan 2010 marked Vijayanagar king Sri Krishnadevaraya ascending the throne 500 years ago.

Weather         

Peak Season      October to March

Off Season          April to September

GPS Position      15°20′06″N  76°27′43″E

Getting In  

By Air    The nearest airport is at Bellary.

By Road 

By Bus

 

Multi Axel Volvo Bus                AC Sleeper bus

Always choose Volvo buses over another type of bus. AC Sleeper (mostly interstate or long distance) is an excellent choice for night time travel as it saves the cost of overnight hotel room, and saves your time by traveling in the night.

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation operates daily buses to Hospet from Bangalore, Mysore and Gokarna. From Hospet you can go to Hampi on a local bus for Rs. 10.

There are private bus companies operating from most places in Goa and from Gokarna which run an overnight service to Hampi. Unfortunately, there is no direct return so you take a local bus (or taxi) to Hospet and take it from there.

By car 

Bangalore: 350 km. Drive till Chitradurga on NH-4, take a right turn on NH-13 towards Sholapur till Hospet, and then drive another 13 km to reach Hampi (direction towards Hampi is well marked). The road is in excellent condition till Chitradurga but then deteriorates rapidly. You are also likely to encounter traffic jams due to ore-laden trucks plying on NH-13.

Hubli: 150 km

Hospet: 13 km

Hyderabad: 360 km. Take NH-7 till Jadcharla X-Road, turn right towards Mahboobnagar and carry on till

Raichur. From Raichur, take Karnataka State Highway 20 towards Lingasugar, turn left at 10 km after Raichur onto Karnataka State Highway 23 to Sindhanoor. The road on the last 15-25 km stretch, after Gangavati, is not so bad. Lots of speed breakers in Karnataka. The 5-10 km stretch just before the Andhra Pradesh – Karnataka States Border on Andhra Pradesh side is full of potholes.

Mumbai: About 800 KM or less : Take NH 4 upto hubli & then go via Gadag-hospet. Alternately Take NH 4, exit to Sangli/Miraj, Go to Athni -Bijapur. (Donot take short cuts as roads are real bad.). You may choose to see Badami, Pattadakkal, Aihole as a 2 day add on excursion, else proceed to Hampi Next day. Roads are average exept speed breakers combined with potholes & heavy traffic of large trucks. (Strictly avoid night driving). Prefer high ground clearance cars on this roads.

By Rail  

Hospet Junction - Railway Station

The nearest railway station is Hospet Junction (IR station code : HPT), 13 km away. Overnight trains run several times a week from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa.

The trains are a much cheaper and more comfortable route than the tourist buses most people are led into. (2 AC – bed with linen – costs 750Rs from Bangalore to Hampi) .

From Hospet it’s convenient to take a rickshaw to Hampi (Rs.80-120). Rickshaw drivers can be persistent and will poke their heads in the train before you even get off, but they may very well be the best option.

India Govt Rail Website:                http://www.indianrail.gov.in

India Govt Rail Website for Train Nos:     http://www.indianrail.gov.in/inet_trn_num.html

History 

In 1309 A.D Malik-kafur become the first foreigner to attack south India and he sacked the capital of Hoysala Dynasty that ruled Karnataka. Few years later, Warangal in current Andra Pradesh met the same fate. Decades later as Muhammad bin Tughluk took charge, the entire Deccan was open for him with hardly any opposition. All the small to tiny kings of the south were shaking in their royal boots.

Krishnadeva Raya

It was at this time, a pair of brothers belonging to the tiny kingdom of Anegundi (Elephant Hole) decided to create a new empire across the Tungabhadra river and called it Vijayanagara. The brothers were Harihara and Bukka. This evoked an instant response and within a decade or so, every kingdom in the south submitted their allegiance to the fresh and upcoming Vijayanagara Empire in return of protection from the marauding northern horde. As regular tribute, every kingdom in the south sent treasure, food grains and fighting manpower to Vijayanagara. As a result of this Vijayanagara Empire become the richest empire in the world and remained so for nearly 230 years from 1336 to 1565.

The reign of Tulivas is described as the golden age of the empire which saw two eminent rulers Deva Raya and Krishnadeva Raya. The name and fame of the kingdom reached its zenith during their period. The kingdom was extended from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal and from the Deccan Plateau to the tip of the southern peninsula.

Map of Vijayanagar

The Vijayanagara Empire that was founded in 1336 A.D. was totally decimated in 1565 A.D., and the victors spent 6 months in the capital city looting what they can and destroying what they can’t. Every palace, temple and idol was damaged or destroyed. Never in the history of the world was the richest city of its time so thoroughly destroyed that it could never rise again.

Being part of the royal family was a hazardous occupation. Throughout the history of Vijayanagara, whenever a king came to power, the first thing he did was eliminate competition. That means either killing or blinding brothers, cousins and uncles who may be next in line for the throne. They mostly preferred blinding, the compassionate kings used to send their competition to far away provinces or just put them in prison.

In fact, Krishna Deva Raya was destined to be blinded. But the prime minister Timmarasu had realised that Krishna would make a great future king, so he presented goat’s eyes to the previous King to assure him that Krishna has been blinded. Soon that king died and Krishna came to power, becoming the greatest of Vijayanagara kings. Once Krishna came to power he sent all his opponents to prison or to distant province.

However, it is ironic that two decades later Krishna at death bed ordered Timmarasu and his sons blinded because he was told that they may be plotting against him. Then he makes his formerly imprisoned brother Achyuta raya King, who was basically incompetent and thus began the decline of Vijayanagara.

Reading Material:

A forgotten Empire: Vijaynagar by Robert Sewell http://www.nalanda.nitc.ac.in/resources/english/etext-project/history/vijayanagar/

Getting Around

 

  100 cc Bike                           Kinetic Honda Bike (Scooter)

Motorcycle/Scooter/Moped – It is very hot! Dry dry heat. And the walk between some sites can be at least 5 km. Plus, the surrounding area is quite breathtaking to ride around and you can explore some parts that the rickshaws won’t take you. Guides are willing to ride on the back with you as well. This is a more expensive option (not for the thrifty!) than the rickshaw but it gives you more freedom and you can cover more in one day without rushing it. Take a guide with you one day, then do it all again by yourself the next. A bike like a scooty or kinetic honda will cost you about Rs150 a day with additional fuel charges. You can also hire a 100CC motor bikes for Rs 200 a day. A liter of petrol will be sufficient for sight seeing around Hampi, but two liters would be handy if you have plans to go to Tungabadra Dam (some 15 Km from Hampi)

When renting a scooters/motor bikes petrol costs extra, and normally sold at 40-50% premium in the place you rent (A liter may cost Rs 100). Two litres will get you to the major sites around Royal Centre and back, but three litres is a safer option. The countryside is a beautiful place for a leasurely drive so it’s worth taking lots of fuel.

Bicycle – Eventhough everywhere you can rent bicycle it is not such a good choice to cycle in the heat the hills up and down, if you want to enjoy the landscape. It is simply too hot.

Auto Rickshaw

Rikshaw and official guide – Another more convient variant is to see all the sights without climbing the hills is by Rikshaw. Bargain with your Rikshaw driver for a fixed rate (400-500 for a full day seems to be okay) and then hire an offical Karnataka Travel guide (at the tourist office, they have fixed rates: 4h – 500Rs, 8h – 800Rs.) It costs a little bit, but the explanations help you to see more then just stones and temples.

4 in the front and 4 in the back - in an Auto Rickshaw

Car Rental – Bit more costly variant is renting a car. Various Car Rentals are available in Hospet. They normally charge Rs 750 to Rs 1000 for a day site seeing and pick up/drop to railway station etc. Few known Car Rental Agencies are Hamsa Tours & Travels(08394 228101 & 9845205589); Pushpa Tours and Travels (08394-241958,9448795120).

The ruins of Hampi are located within a 30 sq km area. While most of the famous places have motorable roads leading upto them, the real pleasure in exploring Hampi comes from on the bicycle or by walking around. Virtually every rock in Hampi has a story to say. This story is best heard if you give it time and walk around from rock to rock.

What to See

Hampi is a visual delight, especially due to its stark contrast from most other places. Rocks are all you see whichever direction you look at. Vegetation is visible in the wet months; but again it never dominates the landscape.

There are many sites of interest in and around Hampi. All these places are towards Hampi Bus Stand area and you dont need to cross river.

Stepped tank  

Steppd Tank

One of the beautiful remains in the Durbar area is tile Stepped Tank built in chlorite schist, used by the royals and for religious purposes. The small but neat tank is about 22 square meters and about 7 meters deep. It has five distinct tiers, each fitted with steps set in a pleasing pattern. The mason marks on the individual blocks indicating the direction, the row and the location of the steps reveal that the layout of this stepped tank was well thought out in advance and all the different block stones were prepared in accordance with the plan elsewhere and assembled on the site later. This tank was discovered during the recent excavations.

Elephant Stables     

Huge Elephant Stables - 2 Elephants fit in one stable

This long structure is made of a series of chambers with domical roofs. Each chamber is big enough to accommodate two elephants. The elephants were tied to the chains hanging from the centre of the ceiling as can be made out from the iron hooks embedded in some of the ceilings. Apart from the royal elephants, temples also had elephants of their own to perform various pujas. One such elephant can still be seen in Hampi.

The Zenana enclose was heavily guards by eunuchs or female warriors placed in high towers.

Located outside the Zenana Enclosure, on the East, is an oblong structure of considerable size, called the Elephant stables which was the shelter for the royal elephants. This building is also fine example of Indo-Islamic style of architecture.

Zenana Enclosure completely demolished only the foundation remains

Zenana Enclosure or Royal ladies parlour or Harem area. The building is completely razed to the ground, only the stone foundation exists now. (Zenana Enclosure = the Harem).

Lotus Mahal or Air-conditioned hall

This area includes a Lotus Mahal or Air-conditioned hall. The ground is cold to a touch even under harsh sunny weather. The pillars of this hall are hallow, and A/C mechanism worked by continuously pouring water through these hallow pillars from above. The water mechanism has been stopped since it damages the building.

Stone Chariot - with moving wheels

Lotus Mahal

“By far, this is the most amazing monument in Hampi and is portrayed as the icon for Hampi. One will fall short of words if he/she tries to describe the beauty of this wonderful man-made piece of art.

It resembles the temple chariots or rathas in which the idols of the temple are taken out on a traditional procession. An image of Garuda (the eagle god, according to the Hindu mythology, is the vehicle of lord Vishnu) was originally enshrined within its sanctum.

The chariot is built on a rectangular platform of a feet or so high. All around this base platform is carved with mythical battle scenes. Though the chariot is not resting on it, the four giant wheels attached mimic the real life ones complete with the axis shafts & the brakes. A series of concentric floral motifs decorate the wheels. It appears from the marks on the platform, where the wheels rest, the wheels were free to move around the axis.

You can still see the remains of the painting on the carvings of the chariot. Probably because it was relatively protected from the natural wearing elements, the undercarriage of the chariot spots one of the best preserved specimens of this kind of paintings. It is believed the whole of the Vittala Temple’s sculptures were once beautifully painted in similar fashion using the minerals as medium.

In front of the chariot two elephants are positioned as if they are pulling the chariot. In fact these elephants where brought from elsewhere and positioned here at a later stage. Originally two horses were carved in that position. The tails and the rear legs of the horses can be still seen just behind these elephant sculptures. A broken stone ladder once gave access to the sanctum is kept between the elephants. You can still spot the marks on the floor and the doorsill where once the ladder stood.

Stone Chariot represents the sparkling creativity of the artistes of the fifteenth century. ”

Underground Shiva Temple - many meters below the ground

Underground temple  

“This temple is one of the earliest in the capital, built during the Sangam rule. The temple is dedicated to Lord Prasanna Virupaksha or Shiva. This ruined temple is fairly large with a few Mantapas and the pillared cloister. The Sanctum and other parts of the temple are perennially under water.

Water Inside Underground Shiva Temple

The maha-mantapa leads to the three-aisled ardha-mantapa, the large cubical pillars of which are also of an early type, with cubical base, octagonal shafts, a thin pionted kumbha and large idol. The Kalyanamantapa is ornate and was built during the l5th century.”

Statue of Ugra Narsimha/Lakshmi Narasimha

This image of Lakshmi-Narasimha, popularly called Ugranarasimha, meaning Narasimha of terrifying countenance, is the largest icon in Hampi. This 6.7 m giant monolithic statue of Narasimha which is one of the ten incarnation of lord Vishnu was cut in a single boulder, Originally, the icon bore a smaller image of Lakshmi sitting on his lap. The entire image is set within a Makara torana, or arch, with a lion-mask above the hoods of Adisesha. This gigantic image was mutilated and the figure of Lakshmi was entirely damaged and vandalized. Narasimha with an articulately chiseled and well delineated mane and large bulging eyes and broad chest still retains His awesome charm.

Mahanavami Dibba 

Mahanavami Dibba is 10 feet beautifully covered single rock for royalty view. The kings of Vijayanagar used to sit on a grand throne in the House of Victory and witness the nine-day Dasara festival. Sasivikalu Ganesha or the Mustard Ganesha is curved magnificently from a single rock of 9 ft tall, Ugara Narasimha is a 22 ft high single stone statue with an incarnation of half like a man and half like a lion seated in a canopy of seven headed snake is world class. Kadalae Kalu Ganesha or Peanut Ganesha is an 18 ft high single stone statue

Achyutaraya temple 

“This temple can be reached either from Kodanda Rama Temple through the Bazaar wrongly called “Soolai Bazaar” or from the Virupaksha Bazaar by climbing the steps next to the monolithic Nandi at the end of the bazaar. Achyutaraya Temple is a large complex built by an officer of the King Achyutaraya, Salakaraju Tirumaladeva. This temple is better known as Achyutaraya temple, in whose period it was built rather than the name of the deity “Tiruvengalanatha” or Lord Venkateshwara.

Unlike the other temple complexes, this temple complex has two enclosures, each marked by an entrance gopura. The main temple is situated within the second enclosure. Opposite to the temple is the shrine for Garuda, the celestial bird and the vehicle of Vishnu. To the south west of the temple is a shrine for Devi. Running around the inner courtyard is the pillared cloister. The Kalyana Mantapa is located in the northwestern corner of the outer enclosure. Like all major temple complexes, this temple complex was also provided with a Kalyana Mantapa where the annual marriage ceremony of the deity was conducted. The slender pillars of this Mantapa bear dexterously carved bas relief including a few erotic. The basement of the Kalyana Mantapa is richly decorated with the relief of elephants.”

Hemakuta Hill Temples 

“According to mythology, Lord Shiva did penance on the Hemakuta Hill before he married Parvati. This was also the place where Lord Shiva burnt Kama, the God of lust. This sacred hill lies to the proper right of the Virupaksha temple.

On the hill are a large group of temples built in pre- Vijayanagara and Vijayanagara periods. According to the inscription found on the second of these temples, the temple was built in 1309-1310 A.D. Two temples, facing north, have a compact three-celled plan with an antechamber, a pillared hall and an entrance porch. Their beauty is enhanced by the well balanced but simple Shikhara or spires above the sanctum. These shikaras are different from the other shikaras found in Hampi. They are stepped pyramidal in shape, resembling the Shikaras of Jain temples. Hence these temples are also mistakenly called as Jain temples.”

Hazara Ramaswami Temple 

Hazara Ramaswami Temple is believed to have been the private place of worship of the royal family. The walls and pillars of the temple are beautifully adorned illustrating the chief episodes of the Ramayana. The outer walls depict images of god, goddesses and the social life of the people of Vijayanagara kingdom, horses, elephants, dancing girls and infantry in procession.

Vithalla Temple Complex - seems the top took a cannon ball hit

Vijaya Vittala Temple

Vijaya Vittala Temple is the most splendid of temples at Hampi which was constructed by Krishnadeva Raya. It is considered to be the most decorated temples of the Vijayanagar kingdom. Vittala is an incarnation of Vishnu. This temple has 56 ornate monolithic pillars which have world class architecture because getting musical notes from the columns require great accuracy. Each pillar is surrounded by stone columns. On striking these columns gently, we can hear different musical notes.

The temple stands over a large rectangular enclosure. The main temple occupies the centre and compromises three distinct sections-Maha Mantapa, Ardhamantapa, Garbhagriha. The Stone Chariot, a heavy stone car with movable wheels is the other specialties of the temple. The temple has variety of styles that is characterized in the shrines within the temple courtyard.

Virupaksha Temple

Virupaksha Temple

This temple has been around for 1400 years, worshipped continuously making it one of the oldest temples in India. Even during the razing operation in 1565, the looters left this place alone. According to our guide, there was a huge symbol of a boar (Varaha) in the arch of the temple. The looters mistook it for a pig and refused to enter the place. It was constructed in the 15th century, has 12 storeys and is 50 meters tall. The temples of Hampi are famous for their large dimensions, florid ornamentation, both in painting and carving, majestic pillars, magnificent pavilions and a great wealth of religious and mythological depictions, including subjects from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Hampi Market - Yesterday's version of the Shopping Malls

Virupaksha Bazaar   

“Virupaksha Bazaar is the largest of the many bazaars of Vijayanagara. Each major Temple complex had its own bazaar around which a township developed. This is the only bazaar around which a township of a sort still exists. This bazaar is flanked by the main gopura of Virupaksha temple called Bishtappa’s gopura on the one end and the monolithic Nandi at the other end. The 9 storied, 53 meters high gopura adds elegance to the 732 meters long and 28 meters wide Virupaksha Bazaar.

“You have a broad and beautiful street, full of rows of fine houses and mantapas, in this street live many merchants and there you will find all sorts of rubies, and diamonds, and emeralds, and pearls and seed pearls and clothes, and every other sort of thing there is on earth and that you wish to buy” exclaimed Domingo Paes, a Portuguese traveler who visited Hampi during the reign of Emperor Krishnadevaraya.”

Monolithic Bull

Monolith Bull  

Queen’s bath, or the swimming pool. Those stone supports you see under the windows are hallow, acting like showers

Queen’s Bath,

Looking at the different level of the edges this could be the Kids' bath area

The Matunga Hill

The Matunga Hill, this hill is visible from everywhere in Hampi, almost acts like a lighthouse. This hill has been mentioned in Ramayan, this is where Hanuman was born and where Sugreev was in exile.

Hampi is considered the ultimate city of ruins, and most of the ruins are yet to be identified or even excavated. There are lots of underground buildings whose signs are visible, but no work has been taken up.

Tungbhadra dam is another 16 km from Hampi and it is towards Hospet. Hence, if you have plans to catch your train/bus back from Hospet, you could see Tungbhadra dam and return from Hospet. It takes around 45 min to 1 hr to see Tungbhadra dam. You need to park your vehicles at the entrance and take Govt bus to the top and return. It takes Rs 20/- for to and fro.

There are also several “Shivalings” along the river which the boatman will guide you to. The old capital called Anegundi, across the river from Hampi also has many sites. The Hanuman Temple on Anjenaya Hill (involves climbing up 572 steps, is believed to be the birth place of Hanuman) and the Old Palace are definitely worth a visit.

There is Doroji bear sanctuary around 16 kms from Hampi, opposite side of Kamalapura/Hospet. It opens between 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Not a must see but you can go there for a nice drive/ride if you have some time to kill.

To do justice to all the sites, one needs a minimum of 3 full days of sight seeing. To discover all the ruins, it may take much more than 3 days. May be months.

Advice:

Be a wiseTraveler – Tip only for good service. Tip moderately. Generous tipping can lead to indirect begging, and no traveler likes beggars. Dont be a creator of a clan of Beggars.

To Do  

A good amount of walking is a must, as the ruins are scattered over a huge area. Moped/bicycle hire is a good option to move around.

Cross the river by one of those coracle ferry. As of December 2008, the cost is Rs 10 per tourist without luggage (2009). The other side of the river (Anegondi) spots a number of pre Vijayanagara relics.

Coracle Ride

A circular shaped country boat to cross the river. A huge floating basket is a more appropriate description than calling it a boat. They are huge flat basketlike craft to ferry people & sheep (yes sheep!). About 6 feet in diameter, coracles are made of bamboo, cane, plastic sheets and a fine coating of bitumen to make it leak proof!”

If you go there in Jun-August, you will not find coracle ferry in action, so if you want to go Anegondi you have to travel ~40 KM extra, I dont think you will like Anegondi after Hampi, actually there is nothing to see except the Hanuman temple on Anjana hill, but be prepare for a ride of about 600 stairs.

Could do a little of rock climbing too.

What to Buy       The stone carvings are made by local artists and are a good buy here. The same thing in Bangalore will cost ten times the price. The hand stitched blankets are also a good buy.

Where to Eat  

There are lots of places in Hampi Bazaar where you get satisfying and inexpensive food, though be prepared for a long wait at most places as the chefs are typically family members who prepares food to order. However, they are good at their jobs and can offer a wide range of different cuisines.

Restaurants:

Mango Tree. One of the nicest, most relaxed restaurant settings you will ever come across. Set along side the banks of the river, you can lounge comfortably on the steps underneath the huge mango tree sipping some of the best lassis you will come across in India. They also offer thali at lunch time and have a broad range of food on the menu. Its the perfect place to hideaway from the afternoon heat and zone out to the beautiful view.

But they are known for their poor service and reserve the best seats for the Guides bringing in Foreign Tourist.

See Partho’s comment here:

http://afteruse.blogspot.com/2006/08/hampi-mango-tree-restaurant.html

Laughing Buddha Restaurant This is on other side of river (Virupapur Gadde) and close to Shanthi guest house. There are mattress, cushions and low benches in it. So, you can just lie down and sit at ease. Continental food is very nice here with good variety. It also offers Punjabi food.

The Goan Corner , an idyllic cafe on the other side of the river is an experience in itself. Really really famous among the foriegner crowds, it takes a 10-15 min walk across the green paddy fields to make your way to this place.It is run by a very friendly family where the lady don, Sharmila reigns supreme.Unlike the other closely arranged cafes, Goan Corner is rather desolated and adds to the magic that Hampi creates.

Venkateshwara   

Geetha  

Sagar Hotel’s Idli, Dosa & Gunta Pongal. Just besides Gopi Guest House and right infront of the Shambhu Guest House, which are located near the Virupaksha Temple, ‘Shankaramma’ under a thatched roof makes delicious idlies, dosas and the tasty ‘gunta pongal.’ Do not miss this place. The food is not only delicious but also very cheap.

Mayura Bhuvaneshwari, Kamalapura. Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari serves delicious buffet lunch. If you plan your day such that you reach kamalapura around mid-day, this can be a great place for lunch. Unlimited food is served in very clean and serene surroundings. Even thought a very popular and a very clean hotel, make sure you use packaged drinking water. 60.  edit

Durga Roof Top, Near Virupaksha Temple (From the bazaar when you approach Virupaksha Temple, take a right at the temple, next take a left ( as the road turns), take a right further and you will find yourself at Durga Roof Top.). Very good and authentic north indian food and their Hello to the queen dessert is simply amazing.

Drinks  

“Hampi is a religious center so drinking is not allowed. Therefore, beer or other alcoholic drinks are generally not available at local restaurants. However, Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari in in the neighboring town of Kamalapur has a bar that serves beer and wine.

Although few hotels like Shanti and Kishkinda, which are located across the river, do serve beer and hard liqour. ”

Where to Eat   

Where to Stay  

Most of guest houses are on other side of the river (area called Virupapur Gadde). To access them, you need to cross river by Motor boat. Motor boat charges for river crossings Hampi Bazar area to Virapapur Gadde (Rs. 10 for locals, Rs. 15 for tourists ). In case you are staying in Virupapur area, you should reach the river side by 6:00 p.m. , since motor boats stop plying after 6pm. In case you dont make it by 6pm you can pay autorickshaw Rs 500-600 to take you other side via Hospet-Hugili- Hanumanhalli, which is a 40km tour. During moderate/high rains, gates of Tungbhadra dam are opened which increases the water level and water flow in river.

There are several guest house in Hampi, though staying in Hospet or the nearby town of Kamalapur are also options. Staying at Hospet gives easy accessibility to Railway Station and better Hotels. Hampi is also not very far from Hospet.

Economy Guest House 

Most guest houses in Hampi are rather basic. Do not expect too much. Avoid places recommended in the Lonely Planet guide, because they immediately raise their rates and lower their quality.

Sunny Guest House is situated across the river(Virupapur Gadde, Hampi). It is a nice place to stay. They have a nice garden. This place is very calm and relaxing. The prices are affordable. Their phone number is (+91)8533-287109.

Shanthi Guest House is situated across the river Tungabhadra. After you cross the river, take a left and at the end of the lane, as you walk besides paddy fields, is the Shanthi Guest House. This is a nice place to relax, as it offers cottage-style accommodation. The prices are around Rs.650-800 per room (as of Dec 2008). Their phone number is (+91)8394-325352

Priyadarshani Guest House is situated in hospet on the way from the railway station to bus stand. People here are very friendly and co-operative when asked for any guidance or help. It has hotel attached to it called naivedhyam it serves average tasting food but hygienic enough. There are two different types of rooms avaliable here like standards costs Rs 450 and executive costs around Rs 750 exclusive of taxes ( as of Feb 2009). One major draw back is a bar and restaurant near the guest house and this does not belongs to guest house management. The bar waiters have some attitude problem to mention one of the problem so be cautious in dealing with them.

The Kamala Guest House is clean enough and has screens on the windows and mosquito nets in the rooms. All the rooms have solar powered lights and some have solar powered fans, which can come in handy because the regular power goes out regularly. It’s worth bargaining for the rate. A decent price is Rs.200-300 per room (Sept. 2007).

Sree Rama Guest House is close to the main temple offers decent accommodation with private bathroom. From the bazaar, turn right just in front of the main temple and then follow the main road. The hotel also gives electronic mosquito killers for free. The Internet downstairs is one of the best in Hampi. Room charge is Rs.200-250 per night (Jan. 2008)

Vicky’s charges around Rs. 500 per room (Jan. 2008) and has a mediocre rooftop restaurant. The rooms are not the cleanest and the bathroom definitely needs refurbishment. There are three computers downstairs and only the one on the left is in working condition. The other two are very slow.

Mid range     

Vijayshree Heritage Village Located half way to Hampi from Hospet amidst serene valley and nature in it’s tranquility, we have the perfect blend of tradition and culture with the technology and hospitality to make you feel comfortable and homely.  With 60,000 plants / saplings planted one can very shortly feel close to nature and the principle of our resort is being “Eco Friendly” that stops us from entertaining guests from the usage of Liquor, Smoking and Non-Vegetarian food and promote the concept of Health Consciousness amongst our guests. Visit web.vijayshreeheritagevillage.com for more details

Hotel Malligi in Hospet (near train station, but far from Hampi) has 170 rooms. Among these, 100 are air-conditioned luxury rooms, 6 are air-conditioned luxury suites and 14 are A/C supplement rooms. All the rooms have well-furnished bathrooms with running hot and cold water supply and also with shower facilities. The Tariff for these rooms ranges from 300 to 5000 (excluding luxury tax).

Kishkindha Heritage Resort offers all inclusive packages. The place is only 3km WALK from the ruins on the other side of the river. Non Veg and liquor is available. This resort is on the other side of the river Tungavadra where Hampi site seeings are situated. To reach Hampi it takes around 15 KM of travel on road. Anegondi, Anjeyanadri Hill, Pampa Sarovar are near to this resort.

Hotel Hari Priya Lodge, IceLand Road Hospet,13KM from Hampi. Tariff starts from 300 for Double Bed room.Rooms are really good and well maintained. People are really helpfull. Food you have to go outside, near by you will get lot of Darshni’s and fast food centers. Phone Number-(08394)-224622

VSL Wonder Valley Resorts in Sandur, (Approx 45 minutes drive from Hampi), offer 66 rooms spread over 80 acres along with an amusement park, go karting track, water sports, swimming pool, wave pool. The resort is located in a pictersque location surrounded by Hills and just beside the backwater of Narihalla Dam. The resort also offer tekking routes covering the hills. The rooms are well furnished and Airconditioned. Prices range between Rs.2000 to Rs.3000. visit web:www.vslresorts.comfor more details.

Nearby Places of Interest:

Tungabhadra Dam and its associated gardens are nice. It has got a nice dancing fountain too. Visiting the Tungabhadra dam can be a nice filler instead of just waiting for the bus/train (typically at 10/11pm at night). Auto-rickshaw can take directly from Hampi to Tungabhadra dam at a cost of 200 INR (as of September 2009).

Remember:

Out of deference to the sacred nature of the site, do not consume drugs and alcohol in the area.

When visiting the temple or ruins of former temples, cover up and do not show too much skin. Local might not stop you but bear a silent grudge. Be a good guest.

Make sure you bring with yourself a good pair of walking shoes before you reach Hampi. You will have to do a lot of walking to take in the sights.

Posted by: getaway2india | April 7, 2010

Bangalore – The Silicon Valley of India!

Bangalore – The Silicon Valley of India!

Officially known as Bengaluru, is one of the most happening cities in India and also a major center of the I.T. industry.

Bangalore City Map

History

The earliest records of a place named ‘Bengaluru’ were found in a 9th century temple in an area that is now known as ‘Old Bangalore’. Once the feudal lord Kempe Gowda was hunting in this area, a rabbit turned and attacked his dog. This made a great impression on the lord and he gave the place a title of gandu bhoomi (the place of heroes) and in 1537, with the assistance of the local king, he constructed three districts protected by a walled fort on the site.

During the next three centuries, Bangalore existed very much in the shadow of its neighboring city Mysore, and control of the town changed hands many times. The year 1831 marked a major turning point for the city. Claiming misrule by the king Krishna Raja Wodeyar III, the British took control of the Mysore Kingdom and, possibly influenced by the city’s mild climate, moved the administrative capital to Bangalore. New telecommunication systems were laid, rail connections built, fine government buildings constructed and the city’s famous parks and gardens established. After independence, Bangalore maintained its position as the Karnataka state capital, and continues to flourish.

For many years, Bangalore was known throughout India as the greenest, liberal and forward-thinking city. In recent years, these attributes have propelled Bangalore to the forefront of the high-tech industry boom in India, and it currently ranks as India’s most developed city and one of the world’s fastest growing urban areas.

The name Bangalore appears to come from an Anglicization of the native name “Bengaluru” – an adaptation of the earlier name in Kannada: Benda Kaale Uru (The Town of Boiled Beans). Apparently this rather humble name was bequeathed to the city by king Vira Ballala. Once while lost in the area, he was offered boiled beans by an old woman, and it was out of gratitude that he named the area after this simple offering.

Climate

  • Bangalore enjoys a relatively mild climate year round J with a maximum of 28°C (81°F) to lowest minimum of 5°C (41°F).
  • February to May (Warm)
  • June  to December (Monsoon)
  • January to February (Cold with showers in January)

Language:

Kannada is the official language of the state. Other Languages spoken are:

  • Urdu (9.72%),
  • Telugu (8.34%),
  • Marathi (.5%),
  • Tamil (3.82%),
  • Malayalam (1.69%),
  • Tulu (3.38%),
  • Konkani (1.78%),
  • and Hindi (1.87%).

English is also in common use and Hindi spoken by most educated people.

Slang

One common expression probably peculiar to Bangalore would be the “By two coffee” meaning a coffee shared between two people. Mostly overheard at the stand-and-eat darshinis. A very basic use of Kannada may be necessary to speak with auto rickshaw drivers.

Getting in

By Road

By bus

There are both government and private busses that run services to major nearby cities like Mumbai, Goa, Chennai, Mangalore, Coimbatore, Madurai etc. Buses can be a normal luxury bus, a Volvo A/C bus or a sleeper bus for night travel. On Line Booking:

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation http://ksrtc.in/

RedBus http://www.redbus.in/

Ticketkaran http://www.ticketkaran.in/

Raj National Express http://rajnationalexpress.in/

KPN Travels http://kpntravels.in/

Customer Needz http://www.customerneedz.com/

TicketGoose.com http://www.ticketgoose.com/

BMT’s Volvo Bus

All intercity buses arrive and depart from Bangalore bus stand, which is located opposite the city railway station. Officially named after the founder of Bangalore, ‘Kempe Gowda Bus Station’ is more commonly known as ‘the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus stand’ or ‘the Majestic Bus Station’. It handles buses that connect Bangalore to all major cities and states in south India. The main bus stand of ‘the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) ,’ which maintains bus services within the city, is located next to the Kempe Gowda Bus Station. BMTC has now introduced Air conditioned Volvo buses in order to maintain the status of the IT city.

Unlike other metros, the display boards in the bus show the destination in Kannada. But the bus numbers are mostly in English. If you don’t read Kannada, you will likely need to get some help to get on the right bus. However, the newer Volvo buses are all equipped with electronic displays that display the destination and route numbers in both Kannada and English. Non-Volvo buses are being gradually retrofitted with these electronic displays; this should make bus travel much simpler if you are unfamiliar with the local language.

Buses in Bangalore are cheap and usually frequent, but traveling on them can be very difficult if you don’t know the system well. Ordinary city buses display only the route number in English, with the destination and route information written in Kannada. This means you will have to know what route number you need before you get on, which you can find from the BMTC website http://www.bmtcinfo.com/ , Bus Routes http://jaanlo.com/howto/how-to-bus-route-bmtc-and-timing-information-bangalore/ or by asking locals. Unlike many Western countries, posted route maps of the bus system are rare, although maps are sold at the main bus terminals (Kempegowda Bus Stand and Shivajinagar).

  • Buses with black display boards – run within the city.
  • Red board buses  – covers long distance and go to adjoining suburbs.
  • The ordinary city buses –  are white and blue in color.
  • The newer city buses tend to be silver in color and have LED display boards.
  • Pushpak Bus Service has better seating; these buses are tan-colour rather than the usual blue and are slightly more expensive.
  • Red Volvo buses, called Vajra, that operate on certain routes within the city. They offer a comfortable air-conditioned ride at slightly higher prices than the regular buses (which are not air-conditioned). These are a great way to get around the city. Vajras have illuminated LED display boards on the front and sides which display the destination and route information in English as well as Kannada.

New bus services are introduced from time to time by the BMTC. The latest service introduced in early 2009 known as Big 10 consists of ten routes along major roads into the city, bringing passengers from the outer suburbs to central Bangalore. These buses are yellow in color, have LCD destination boards, and prominently feature the Big 10 logo on the sides. More information about these buses, including stops and route maps, can be found here http://btis.in/big10 .

City buses are crowded during rush hours but one can travel with little difficulty during the daytime. Many have seats reserved for women in the front. Bus service is less frequent after 9:30-10PM and becomes rare after 10:30PM.

It is always better to buy a daily pass if you plan to travel the whole day on the bus. The daily pass costs Rs 32 and it comes handy if you need to travel on several buses in a single day. Daily passes are issued by the on-duty bus conductor or at the bus stand. Using this pass you can travel in any bus (other than the Vajra) for the entire day, any number of times. It is a very economical option for travel in Bangalore.

There are three major bus stands from which Buses are available to all major localities of the city:

  • City Market is around 2 km (1.2 mi) to 3 km (1.8 mi) away from Majestic and could daunt newcomers, since it is much disorganized. It is a large dirt parking lot under an overhead highway, and there isn’t much order to where buses park.
  • Shivajinagar is in the north. This is also neatly organized and there is an inquiry window to find about buses. You can find a large map on display here too, which you can use to find the bus number you need to take if you know the area you are going to. Route maps are also sold on the platforms.
  • Kempegowda bus stand, also known as the Majestic Bus Stand, near Gandhi Nagar is directly opposite the Bangalore City railway station. It is quite neatly organized and is easily navigable. There is an inquiry office near platform number 1 on ‘Majestic’ where you can ask the bus number and platform for your desired destination. You can find a large map on display, which you can use to find the bus number you need to take if you know the area you are going to. You can of course always ask the conductor or other passengers. Route maps are also sold on the platforms.

By Taxies

The taxis in Bangalore are very convenient and comfortable. Most of the vehicles are Maruti Omni Vans or Tata Indica cars, which are much safer than Auto rickshaws, and the drivers are polite. If you are alone or going to an unknown destination, you are strongly advised to choose this option, even though the rates will be double that of an auto. Most taxi companies will charge a flat rate of Rs 150 for a pick-up and drop from anywhere to anywhere within city limits. Waiting or return trips will be charged extra, as will a lot of heavy luggage.

Unlike many other countries, taxis are not marked with ‘TAXI’ signs on the top. Instead, the cars will be marked with the logo of the fleet operator or Taxi Company on the sides of the car. Some companies have a yellow sign with a identification number (usually an alphabet followed by two digits) on the top. These are Call Taxies which can be booked over the phone.

Taxis generally have yellow license plates with black letters.

Although it can be hard for non-Indians to grasp at first, the system is quite effective. If in doubt, ask a member of your hotel staff to help you, and when your taxi comes be sure to tip them Rs. 35 or Rs. 40 for the assistance. Call just Dial 69999999 for any info

  • Easy Cabs, +918043434343
  • Karnataka Taxi,
  • Bengalooru Cabs,
  • Celcabs,
  • City Safari
  • Garden City Taxi,
  • Gopinath Radio Taxi Services,
  • KK City Taxi,
  • RK City Taxi,
  • Roman Taxis,
  • Spot Taxis,
  • Meru Cabs, +918044224422

Post-paid taxi facilities: BIAL has selected MERU and EASYCAB to provide basic taxi services. The taxi operators will have basic AC cars, all equipped with tracking devices to ensure safety and transparency. Both operators have professional call centers. Hence, Guests coming to the airport can call the cab call centers and a cab will pick them up and drop them at the airport. For Guests arriving at the airport, there is a dedicated taxi holding area where the Guest can get a cab. The post paid taxi facility will be available on meter charges @ Rs.15/- per km (subject to Govt regulation). These are by far the best and most convenient mode of transport from the airport. It may cost you approximately Rs. 600 to get to Bangalore’s CBD.

Share Taxis are operated by Airlift. As soon as you exit the airport terminal, look for the bus stand with the bright red Volvo buses. The share taxis are yellow and red Toyota Innovas parked just next to the buses. These are very convenient and cheaper than a regular taxi as a one way drop to Bangalore’s CBD will cost around Rs. 300. These are air conditioned and offer each passenger a personal television screen.

Pre-paid facilities: Hertz and Akbar Travels provide pre paid Limousine and car rental facilities.

By car

Driving in India can be very stressful. Use of the horn is mandatory in all situations, especially while overtaking. Lane discipline is practically nonexistent. One ride in a taxi will most likely convince you that driving yourself is not worth the risk, so if you do want to arrive by car you’ll probably want to hire both a car and a driver. Cost varies, but most car/driver combinations cost Rs 1400 to Rs 1700/day. Depending on where you are coming from, you may be able to negotiate a lower fare if the trip isn’t far, and it may be a higher fare if you are traveling far and your driver has to travel back on his own time. Be aware that Bangalore can get quite hot during the day, even in the winter. Although it costs more, consider requesting an air conditioned car if you aren’t used to the heat. An “Air Con” car will also help filter out the air pollution, which is considerable, especially on congested roadways. If you want something even more special, such as a fancy car or SUV, be prepared to pay extra.

Taking one that runs on CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) rather than Petrol would be advantageous as the cost of Petrol=Rs 50 while that of CNG is Rs 24.

Cars are also available on self drive basis. There are three ranges of self drive cars:

  • Compact category  – Suzuki & Swift
  • Intermediate range – Ford Fiesta,
  • Standard category – Toyota corolla,
  • Multi Utility Vehicles – Toyota Innova and
  • Sports Utility Vehicles – Ford Endeavour.

These cars will be given to the Guest with a full fuel tank and the car has to be returned with full fuel tank. A flexible pick up and drop off facility in town and at the airport will be offered. The Guest can pick up the car at the airport and then drop it off anywhere in the city or in Hyderabad or Chennai. Similarly, the car can be picked up at any of these cities and dropped off at the airport. Conditions Apply (the Guest has to be over 21 yrs of age and possess a valid Indian license).

Note: most of the cars will be Manual as Automatic Transmission Gear is not very popular in India.

By auto-rickshaw

Auto-rickshaw drivers are the nightmare of the city, even if you live here they can be the most difficult group of people to deal with. Auto-rickshaws are supposed to charge fares as per the meter reading, which most often equals to 7 INR x Distance (in kilometers) (Minimum charge of Rs.14 for the first 2 km or less), they generally tend to charge on an ad-hoc basis depending on the distance of the destination or the chances of getting another customer from the mentioned locality. However, a bad business sense and the inexplicable reasons elicited by them for refusing to ferry a customer have earned them enough brick-bats. Tourists should be tactful when approaching an auto-rickshaw during night, or during heavy rains. Chances are they will charge exorbitant rates. Help could be taken from the local traffic police to avail auto-rickshaws during such circumstances.

Auto-rickshaws are everywhere at any time of day. They are yellow three wheeled contraptions that use simple two-stroke engines and belch out pollutants. Nevertheless, they are a fast way to get around the city.

Autos are supposed to charge according to the meter, and you should simply refuse to board one where the meter is faulty or the driver refuses to use it. Saying “meter please” will usually do the trick. If you are desperate to get somewhere, you should at least negotiate the fare before boarding.

If you are a visitor and do not know the route to the destination it is a good idea to bargain and fix the fare before boarding to avoid long, convoluted routes taken by the auto.

Autos add a 50% surcharge after 10PM (called “one and half” and is the legal charge). Some drivers may demand 100% surcharge after 10PM or 11PM but you must refuse to board in such a case. Heavy luggage costs an additional fee of around Rs10 or 20.

Rickshaw drivers are required by law to display their identification on the dashboard or the back of their seats. Refuse to get into a rickshaw that does not.

In case an auto driver troubles you, please note their identification number and report to BBMP Control room who can withdraw their licenses. This is a very effective technique to deal with them. The BBMP control room number as on December 2009 is +91-80-22975803.

If a rickshaw driver offers to show/drive you to some great places to shop, firmly refuse. A common tactic is to drive you to local shops where you will be pressured to buy Indian crafts that you probably don’t want. Know your destination and insist upon it. Be firm.

The minimum charge as of February 2008, is Rs 14 for the first 2km and Rs 7 for every additional km. A trip from the old airport to Brigade road costs about Rs.55 including (a good) tip.

Another thing to keep in mind is to be firm but not loud in an argument while traveling in the auto. Some of the drivers may team up with their other hooligan-friends midway to cause trouble.

Finally, although Bangaloreans are known for their polite and mild manners, some auto drivers are an exception. Therefore be careful in dealing with them. Some will think nothing of trying to rip you off. If in doubt consult a local or your hotel travel desk. Don’t pay exorbitant prices, you are only ruining it for the locals.

  • Another option is to arrange with your hotel in Bangalore http://www.ezeego01.co.in/hotels-in-bangalore.html to have a driver pick you up at the airport. Some hotels, especially those in the higher price ranges, provide this service for free if you are staying with them. If it’s your first time traveling to Bangalore, this is by far the easiest way to get from the airport to your hotel. The driver will be found outside the airport with a card bearing your name, the only difficulty being that about 100 other drivers will also be waiting outside the airport, all vying for your attention. Luckily there is a short fenced walkway that separates the drivers from those leaving the airport, giving you some time and space to find your ride into Bangalore.
  • Cheaper Transport: You can still find a ride into Bangalore City in your own taxi at a much cheaper rate than the above options, if you are willing to take the risk involved. Taxi drivers not approved by the airport will attempt to negotiate with you a much lower fare than the approved EASY and MERU cabs, and may come down to as much as Rs. 200-300 for a ride to Bangalore’s CBD. These drivers can be found just beyond the terminal plaza at the covered walkway that leads to the parking lots.

Caution:

Once you leave the walkway, some drivers may become fairly aggressive, and might try to take your bag without your permission. The best thing to do is to keep track of, and in control of, your belongings. Even the most aggressive taxi driver or tout will leave you alone if you stand firm and make it clear that you do not want their help. Upon arriving at your destination a tip of 20-40 Indian Rupees is plenty.

By Rail

Bangalore has two major railway terminals. The Bangalore City (IR station code: SBC) railway station is situated in the heart of the city, around the Majestic Bus stand. Most trains, both local and long-distance, arrive and depart from here. The other terminal is Yeswantpur Junction (IR station code: YPR) located on NH-4 (Tumkur Road). A few (mostly long-distance) trains arrive and depart from here.

Bookings can be done at either the railway stations or at the Indian Railways booking counters located in major residential areas. Booking can also be done online http://www.irctc.co.in/ .

Note that if you are booking at Bangalore City and are traveling to Mysore, there is a separate counter for travelers to Mysore. This is to cater for the large amount of travelers between Bangalore and Mysore. If travelling to Mysore on a Sunday afternoon, arrive early as there is usually a long line for buying tickets!

As with all Indian railway travel, bring some patience for delays. Trains are usually on time, but can sometimes be several hours late. A digital departure board in the station will tell you what platform your train is on and what time it leaves.

Train travel is usually fairly cheap. For example, a ticket to Chennai, about 360 km (5-6 hrs) away, costs anywhere from Rs 125 for the lowest class to Rs 1105 for the highest class.

For train arrival/departure and PNR status inquiries at various railway stations at Bangalore, call 139.

http://www.indianrail.gov.in/inet_trn_num.html

Here is a list of useful trains to Bangalore:

Train Number Train Name
2630 Nizammudin-Yesvantpur Sampark Kranti Express
1017 Dadar (Mumbai)- Bangalore City Chalukya Express
1014 Coimbatore-Lokamanya Tilak Express
2007 Chennai-Mysore Shatabdi Express
2027 Chennai-Bangalore Shatabdi Express
2658 Chennai-Bangalore Mail
2678 Coimbatore-Bangalore Intercity Express
2735 Garib Rath Express
2785 Kacheguda-Bangalore Express
2430 Rajdhani Express
2650 Sampark Kranti Express
6525 Kanyakumari-Bangalore Express
7310 Vasco-Yesvantpur Express
7312 Vasco-Chennai Express
8464 Prasanti Express
6518 Mangalore-Yesvantpur Express

Note: Travelling from Mumbai to Bangalore by train takes a long time (23-24 hours). Buses are comparatively faster and take around (18-20 hrs), provided there is no traffic jam in Mumbai and Pune enroute. Effective travel time by both train and bus is long. Air travel is recommended for Business Travelers which is about 90 minutes. Low cost airlines charge the same fare as AC train or Volvo bus.

However, sleeper class (Non-AC) train travel from Mumbai to Bangalore is economical and you can have view of some ever green lush forests and river valleys across Western India.

By Air

Bangalore International Airport (IATA: BLR) at Devanahalli, 44 km north of downtown Bangalore, is among India’s busiest and most modern, with direct flights to many major European and Asian destinations.

Lufthansa http://www.lufthansa.com/

Singapore Airlines http://www.singaporeair.com/

Indian Airlines http://www.indianairlines.in/index.aspx

Tiger Airways http://www.tigerairways.com/

AirAsia http://www.airasia.com/

Malaysian Airlines http://www.malaysiaairlines.com/

British Airways http://www.britishairways.com/

Emirates http://www.emirates.com/

Air France http://www.airfrance.com/

Thai Airways http://www.thaiair.com/

Dragonair http://www.dragonair.com/

Jet Airways http://www.jetairways.com/

Kingfisher Airlines http://www.flykingfisher.com/

Kingfisher Red previously (Air Deccan) http://www.flykingfisher.com/

Paramount Airways http://www.paramountairways.com/

Go Air http://www.goair.in/

Jet lite http://www.jetlite.com/jlv1/default.aspx and

SpiceJet http://www.spicejet.com/

Helicopter services are operated by Air Deccan Air Limousine where passengers can get a helicopter service to take them to the airport. Many new apartment complexes in Bangalore are equipped with these helipads, such as Golden Grand Apartments and Brigade Gateway Hotel and Apartments. Contact the Deccan counter at the airport terminal. Rates begin from Rs 5000 for a lift to UB-City Towers at Bangalore’s CBD.

To See

  • Vidhana Soudha – The legislative House of the State of Karnataka, this granite building was built by Sri K. Hanumanthaiya, Chief Minister of the then Mysore state 1951 to 1956. The then Prime Minister Sri Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation on 13th July 1951. It was built at an expenditure of Rs 1.84 crores. Marvel of neo-Dravidian architecture and one of the most imposing building not only in Bangalore but in India. One of the interesting feature of this building in grand stairs in its front. The grand stairs has a flight of forty-five steps 62 m (204 ft) wide 21 m (70 ft) deep giving a direct access to the foyer of first floor leading to an Assembly Chamber. The architecture of the building is based on Dravidian style, comprising richly carved bases and capitals for pillars, deep friezes, kapotha cornices, chaithya arches, heavy pediments domical finials, etc; At the same time, the construction has been on modern designs, making use of the present-day materials like steel, reinforced cement concrete glass, plastic, etc.
  • Vikasa Soudha – This ultra modern construction, adjacent to majestic Vidhana Soudha built in the same classic style, is supposed to come fitted with the latest gizmos to help govern the state. It was inaugurated sometime in February 2005.
  • Seshadari Iyer Memorial is a distinctive building constructed of red sand stone in Cubbon Park. It houses a public library and the Bangalore High Court, while the grounds include a children’s recreation area with a toy train, fairground and theater.

Bangalore Palace Garden

  • Bangalore Palace was constructed by the Maharajahs of Mysore. For many years the building was neglected as a tourist attraction, but is now open to the public. This is a run down building with paint peeling on the interior and generally a tourist trap to be avoided. The fee is Rs. 100/200 Indian/Foreigner and 500 to take photos even of the exterior. This includes a guide to point out things like the mounted elephant head, though no mention is made of the numerous nude paintings.

Bangalore Palace

Tippu Sultan’s Summer Palace

 

 

  • Tipu Sultan’s Palace, which dates from about 1790, was the summer retreat for Tipu sultan. The two story structure is made mostly out of wood with finely embellished balconies, pillars and arches.
  • Omthara Kala Kuteera is located 40 km (25 mi) from Bangalore. Just one hour from the hustle and bustle of Bangalore, Omthara Kala Kuteera is an oasis of peace and tranquility. Built as homage to India’s ancient culture and its vibrant art, this masterpiece is a monument like none other. Located amidst 30 acres of lush gardens in rustic surroundings, Omthara Kala Kuteera offers an environment that soothes the soul and energizes the mind. A visit to Om Thara Kala Kuteera has been described variously by guests as “Heaven on Earth”, “Temple like none other”, “Place of Divinity”, “Uplifts my Soul”, and “Source of Peace and Happiness”. See http://www.OmtharaKalaKuteera.com for directions and more details on this remarkable place.
  • Sri Ramakrishna Ashram – There are many Ramakrishna Ashrams in Bangalore, but the special and central one is in Gandhi Bazaar – the place of temples in Bangalore. This mutt contains a vast meditating hall, a beautiful park, a Vedic school and many more facilities. Sri Sharada Devi had meditated on a location in the park in this boundary. This location is preserved as a monument. A stone on which Swami Vivekananda had sat when he visited Bangalore is also kept as a monument. This is a calm and peaceful place for the people who enjoy the meditation.

Cubbon Park

  • Cubbon Park. A 121 ha (300 acre) green lung in the center of the city. Sitting in the shade of one its many magnificent trees and watching towering bamboo sway in the breeze, it is hard to imagine that you are in the heart of a metropolis of over 8.8 million people and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing cities. Avoid the secluded areas. There is also a toy train offering children’s rides. http://www.numberkyahai.com/bangalore-parks-gardens.php#Cubbon

Lal Bag Glass House

  • The Lal Bagh. A meticulously cared for garden located on the southern part of the city. Throughout its 97 ha (240 acre), there are lotus ponds, fountains, glass houses and stone formations that date back over 3.0 billion years. Described as the most romantic garden in India, it was laid during the 18th century by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. There is a small entrance fee after 9AM. A flower show is held during the week preceding Indian Independence day (August 15) and Republic day (January 26) in the Glass House. This flower show features exquisite flowers and patterns designed by the experienced gardeners of Lalbagh. Beware the tour guides, especially if you come in with a taxi driver. ALWAYS negotiate the tour price for the party at the outset. Otherwise, you will be charged a hefty fee at the tour’s conclusion. Tour guides are not necessary.

Bannerghatta National Park

  • Bannerghatta National Park is on the southern fringe of the city. This 100 sq.km national park consists mostly of dense forest and scrub land, and is home to wild animals like bison, leopard, wild boar as well as being an important corridor for elephants migrating between the eastern and western ghats. Other attractions here are a crocodile farm, serpentarium and a newly added butterfly park. In addition, a portion of the park is used as a sanctuary for wild rescued animals.

Lumbini Gardens

  • Lumbini Gardens. A new attraction in Bangalore. It is located near hebbal flyover and is on the lake front of Nagvara lake. It has been recently developed with a grant of Rs 10 crore. Major attractions of the park include boat rides, wave pool and children’s garden.
  • Bugle Rock Park Named so because during the monarchy, a bugle call was sounded from the watch tower to alert soldiers about impending danger. Adjacent to the Bull Temple in Basavanagudi, this park has been recently renovated and is home to the watch tower that marked the southern limits of the city during the times of Kempegowda. The park is relatively small, well maintained and is a favorite location for couples from the nearby educational institutions.

Wonder La Amusement park

  • Wonder La Amusement park. A new attraction in Bangalore. It is India’s biggest amusement and water park which belongs to V-Guard firm. This park boasts of several rides(both ground & water). This is one of the best spots to visit in Bangalore. It is in the outskirts of the city off Mysore Road. This Park is very expensive so you should have enough money to enjoy. The entry fee is only Rs 450 per head. If two people are going to Wonderla bring at least Rs 1000. Overall, very clean bathrooms and the water, excellent rides, trained operators for the rides, well maintained equipment, decent food in restaurants, fun water rides, enjoy the rain dance and fire crackers/laser lights in evening. Enough rides to keep you busy all the day; however, there were no roller coasters. *The park does not allow outside food. You can find out more by visiting the website http://www.wonderla.com/
  • The Innovative Film City(IFC).The Innovative Film City(IFC)

http://www.khojbin.com/Innovative-Film-City_Bangalore_Karnataka_things-to-do-overview/1/800040

Located on the Bangalore – Mysore highway at Bidadi. Built on an area of around 50 acres it is supposed to be the biggest entertainment centre, theme park and much more. The film city has several small attractions such as world famous Ripley’s Believe it or not museum, Louis Tussad wax museum, Funplex, Aqua Kingdom (artificial beach), Dinosaur world, cartoon city. It is also having a go-carting zone, a mini golf course, a 4D amphitheater, fossil museum. The entry fee to the park is Rs.50. There is a separate fee for each of the attractions.

Omthara Kala Kuteera

  • Omthara Kala Kuteera is located 40 km (25 mi) from Bangalore. Just one hour from the hustle and bustle of Bangalore, Omthara Kala Kuteera is an oasis of peace and tranquility. Built as homage to India’s ancient culture and its vibrant art, this masterpiece is a monument like none other. Located amidst 30 acres of lush gardens in rustic surroundings, Omthara Kala Kuteera offers an environment that soothes the soul and energizes the mind. A visit to Om Thara Kala Kuteera has been described variously by guests as “Heaven on Earth”, “Temple like none other”, “Place of Divinity”, “Uplifts my Soul”, and “Source of Peace and Happiness”. See http://www.OmtharaKalaKuteera.com for directions and more details on this remarkable place.

Sangama Mekedatu. Mekedatu = Goat’s leap.

  • Mekedatu, meaning ‘Goat’s Leap’,is 98 km (61 mi) from Bangalore. Here, the river Kaveri flows through a spectacular rock chasm, wide enough for only a goat to leap across. This gives Mekedatu its name. It is a very popular picnic spot.

Art of Living Ashram

  • Art Of Living Ashram is at a distance of 21 km (13 mi) from the city centre on Kanakpura road (NH-209). It is the ashram of Sri Sri Ravishankar. On regular day Satsang is at 7 PM and on Sundays at 4PM. The ashram is full of greenery and the soothing ambiance provides a great place to relax.

Hesaraghatta Lake

  • Hesaraghatta Lake is 29 km (18 mi) from the city centre. It is a delightful artificial lake spread over 405 ha (1,000 acre) and provides facilities for sailing. A livestock breeding and poultry center have been established as a part od a Indo-Danish project.

Chunchi falls

  • Chunchi Falls are beautiful waterfalls located 85 km (53 mi) from Bangalore. The water from a nearby dam flows down this ravine, and the area is very rocky so one needs to be careful. There are also reports of crocodiles inhabiting the area, though this has not been substantiated. The water from Chunchi flows down to meet Kaveri River at Sangam, a distance of about 15 km. Chunchi falls is created by the river Arkavati and has rocks all along with path. Due to constant water flow, the rocks have shaped to different shapes. It provides a wonderful view for the nature lover and have lots from artistic view point.
  • Nandi Hills, 60 km (37 mi) from Bangalore, is a beautiful hill station. Apart from being a scenic area it also houses two 10th century Chola temples with Vijayanagara style mantapas. The temples are in excellent condition. One temple is after the entrance to the fortifications half way up the hill and the other at the top. The location is famous for Kannada film shootings.
  • Ramanagara, the district headquarters, is 49 km (30 mi) from Bangalore, on the Bangalore-Mysore highway. The place is a treat for rock climbers.One of the famous hills is the Sri Revanna Sideshwara (SRS) hills. The forests around this place are now proposed as a wildlife sanctuary to not only protect the wildlife of the scrub jungle but also to protect the massive prehistoric rocks and boulders that are present all around. The Bollywood film Sholay was shot among the rocks of Ramanagara.
  • Janapada Loka is 53 km (33 mi) from Bangalore, on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, and is spread over 6 ha (15 acre). The center was established for the preservation and promotion of local folk culture and traditions. An art gallery, open air theatre and museum are also located here.
  • Savandurga, 60 km (37 mi) from Bangalore, is famous hilltop pilgrim center has temples dedicated to Gangadeshwara, Hanna Devi and a cave spring called Pattala. When viewed from a distance, the outline of the hill looks like the figure of a bull (Nandi) on the east, Lord Ganesha from the west, A cobra from the north and a Shiva linga from the south.
  • Sangama is 103 km (64 mi) from Bangalore. Here the river Arakavati joins the Kaveri inside the Chilandavadi forest. The Kaveri has several whirlpools in the stretch between Mekedatu and Sangama and it is not advisable to swim in the river at either of these places.
  • Muthyala Maduvu , 44 km (27 mi) from Bangalore, is a picnic spot having an enchanting waterfall and a small temple.
  • Nrityagram http://www.nrityagram.org/ is in Hessaraghatta, 28 km (17 mi) from the city centre. It is India’s first modern Gurukul (residential dance school) and a intentional community in the form of a dance village, set up by Odissi danseuse Protima Gauri in 1990.  In Protima Gauri’s own words…”It is a community of dancers in a forsaken place amidst nature. A place where nothing exists, except dance. A place where you breathe, eat, sleep, dream, talk, imagine -dace. A place where all the five senses can be refined to perfection. A place where dancers drop negative qualities such as jealousy, small-mindedness, greed and malice to embrace their colleagues as sisters and support each other in their journey towards becoming dancers of merit.” Nrityagram has grown in its stature by leaps and bounds and is known today for some of the best ensemble work in . Perfection in dance along with a high level of good technical support, leading to a complete presentation, is its trademark. Vasanta Habba cultural event organised by Nrityagram is known as the classical Woodstock of India.
  • Chamrajsagar Reservoir, 35 km (22 mi) from Bangalore, is an excellent picnic spot near the river Arakavati.
  • Ghati Subramanya, 52 km (32 mi) from Bangalore, is a famous pilgrimage center and houses a Lord Subramanya Temple. Also located nearby are the rock formations of Makalidurga, which are excellent for trekking.
  • Halenijagal is located around 60 km (37 mi) from Bangalore on NH-4 amidst several other exotic hills and valleys.
  • Devanahalli, located 40 km (25 mi) from the city centre, is close to the airport. It is the birthplace of Tippu Sultan and has a massive fort and some beautiful temples.
  • Magadi, 46 km (29 mi) from Bangalore, is the birthplace of Kempe Gowda. The place has the remnants of a fort and four temples of un spoilt charm.
  • Kanva Reservoir, 69 km (43 mi) from Bangalore, is an excellent picnic spot and has facilities for fishing.
  • Shivaganga , 56 km (35 mi) from Bangalore, is a good trekking site.

City Tours:

  • The half-day http://kstdc.nic.in/ctours01.html or full-day city tours offered by KSTDC http://kstdc.net/ , the government tourist office, are cheap and cover the city’s major attractions with English speaking guides.
  • Bangalore Rounds (Full day tour), organised by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation http://www.bmtcinfo.com/ , is conducted in an air-conditioned bus and covers most important tourist spots in the city. It is advisable to book seats the previous day by dialing 080-12667. The tour costs Rs.250.

Typically, the city tours do NOT include entry fees into the attractions. Bangalore, as with the rest of India, has a habit of charging foreigners a lot more than locals. For example, Tipu Sultan’s Palace, which is on the half-day tour, charges Rs. 10 for Indians and Rs. 100 (or $2 USD) to non-Indians.

Temples

  • ISKCON Hare Krishna Temple, Hare Krishna Hill, Chord Road, ☎ +91-80-23471956, 23578346 (fax: +91-80-23578625), http://www.iskconbangalore.org/ . 03:45 – 20:00. Temple built on a hillock in Rajajinagar atop scenic surroundings, is a perfect blend of modern technology and spiritual harmony. The huge cultural complex was built to promote vedic culture and spiritual learning, and abounds with shops selling devotional items and souvenirs. The annual Krishna and Balarama Rath Yatra is attended by thousands.
  • Maruthi Mandir, a Hanuman Temple is located just opposite – 5 minutes drive from ISKCON temple, in the gate of Mahalakshmi Layout. This is a rock hill with huge idols of Hanuman and Mahalakshmi temples. The annual festival of Hanumad Jayanthi during December is very attractive.
  • The Bull Temple, located in Basavanagudi, is a typical Dravidian style temple, and is famous for its mammoth bull statue that was carved from a single boulder. Legend has it that the temple was built to appease a marauding bull that stole local crops, and that the offering was effective with the bull subsequently leaving the area. Since then, local farmers have held an annual festival to express their gratitude.
  • The Maha Bodhi Society Temple (see ‘learn’ section) is a relatively new structure, with the main shrine built as a replica of the historic stupa at Bodh Gaya. The temple grounds are very peaceful, and visitors are welcome to stroll around. In addition, the temple houses an excellent library of books on Buddhism, many of which are in English.
  • Gavi Gangadeshwara Cave Temple,located in Gavipuram, was built by Kempe Gowda. This temple with four remarkable monolithic pillars is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple also has a rare idol of Agni god of fire. The annual festival is on Makara Shankranti and thousands of devotees flock to see the sun’s rays fall on the Shivlinga.
  • Vasanthapura,in South Bangalore, is a small hillock with an ancient temple dedicated to Sri Vasantha Vallabharaya Swamy.
  • Shiva Temple (Shiv Mandir), Old Airport Road. This temple has a massive monolith of Lord Shiva, located in the middle of an artificial pool. There is a cave-like walkthrough behind the statue. It is extremely crowded on the festival of Maha Shivaratri. Free entrance, camera Rs. 25.
  • Banaswadi Hanuman Temple,constructed in the Dravidian style, attracts a large number of devotees especially on week-ends. It has smaller temples dedicated to Lord Rama, Shiva and Ganapathi within the walled compund.
  • VenkataramanaSwamy Temple is a fine example of Dravidian architecture. This ancient temple was built by Maharaja Chikka Devaraya Wodeyar and is situated next to the summer palace of Tipu Sultan.
  • Lord Shiva Temple behind Kemp Fort, Airport Road
  • Dodda Ganapathi – one of the oldest temples in Bangalore is situated adjacent to the Bull Temple.
  • Ragi Gudda is a famous Hanuman temple abode in the Jayanagar 9th block, South of Bangalore. The temple is situated on a mammoth rocky hill, and has very attractive chain of temples like Spathika Shiva, Ganesha and scenery within the premises. This is a very crowd attracting place during the period of Hanumad Jayanthi in December.
  • Sri RajaRajeshwari Temple located in RajaRajeshwari Nagar, just before Kengeri on Mysore Road is a famous temple dedicated to Godess Parvathi (RajaRajeshwari). Built in the ancient style with stones, the temple is very spacious. One can feel the peace and satisfaction when visited. Week ends are very crowdy.
  • DakshinaMukhy Nandeeshwara Temple, located in the heart of Bangalore is very ancient temple. This is on Sampige Road in the Malleshwaram area. The speciality of the temple is that, the natural (mineral) water flows from the mouth of Nandi (naturally) which is above a ShivaLingam, and pours all over the year as ABHISHEKAM by nature itself. This water, after Abhishekam is taken by devotees as medicinal water, believed to cure many diseases. People from all over the world take this water in small containers with a lot of trust and devotion.
  • Mukti Naga temple in Bangalore is world’s largest monolithic statue of Lord Naaga, about 16 feet tall and 36 tons of weight. The Mukti Naga temple which is run by Shri Subrahmanya Seva Trust, is situated in a serene ambience of Ramohalli, a village on the outskirts of Bangalore city. Further details can be had at address http://www.karnatakavision.com/mukti-naga-temple.php
  • Meenakshi Sundaram Temple, located on the Bannerghatta Road – after Indian Institute of Management, South of Bangalore, is a beatiful, spacious temple devoted to Sri Meenakshi Amma. Built in ancient style with stone structures, this place is very cool and mind refreshing place to see. You will feel that you are in a temple at Tamilnad, when in this temple.

To Do

  • Experience the Bangalore pub scene, mostly around MG Road, Brigade Road, and Church Street.
  • Go shoppingat Bangalore’s famous malls and traditional markets:
    • ‘The Forum’, ‘Garuda Mall’
    • ‘Bangalore Central’.
    • “KR Market” – city’s largest vegetable and fruit market.
    • Gandhi Bazaar, Gandhi Bazaar Road.
    • Enjoy the unique shopping experience on Sampige Road at Malleswaram in the traditional south Indian styled shops.
  • Try your hand at go-karting.
  • Attend a wonderful outdoor concert at Palace Grounds.
  • Visit the beautiful lakes in Bangalore. Ulsoor Lake and Sankey Tank offer an enriching, pleasant experience.
  • Ultimate Frisbee, Police Grounds, MG Road, http://www.learningtofly.in/ Come and experience the budding ultimate scene in India. The teams comprise of players of all skill levels. Join us for a game of ultimate on Tues/Thurs/Sat mornings starting 6:30AM. For more information, contact learningtofly.in@gmail.com
  • Bangalore WALKS, ☎ 98806 71192, http://www.bangalorewalks.com/index.htm 3hours. Bangalore WALKS is great way to discover unique areas of Bangalore. Whether a visitor, or a long time resident, one can discover unknown facets of the city. The walks include Traditional Bangalore walk, Victorian Bangalore walk & the Lalbagh walk. The walks range from Rs. 300 (approx $6 ) to Rs. 500 (approx $10 ) and include breakfast/brunch at famed Bangalore eateries. Email: bangalorewalks@gmail.com
  • Theater

Rangashankara. http://www.rangashankara.org/

36/2, 8th Cross, JP Nagar, 2nd Phase. Tel: 26592777 or 26494656.

Tickets Rs. 45 – 100. Show: 7:30PM. Very strict about Time. They will not let you in even one minute after the show has started  for information on what plays are running. Shows are in various languages, so it is a good idea to double-check whether the play is in English before buying / reserving (“blocking”) tickets.

  • Movies – Take in a movie at one of the innumerable theaters around the city:
    • PVR Gold Class Cinema, Forum Mall

http://www.pvrcinemas.com/pvr/ourtheaters/bangalore3.asp

http://www.goethe.de/ins/in/bag/enindex.htm

  • Spa
    • The 5th Element” Thai spa near Dell office on Inner Ring Road [080-41268111] it is the only spa where all the practitioners are authentic Thai. They specialise in Thai massages, relaxation massages, exotic scrubs and wraps.
  • SPA.ce http://www.spacethespa.com/ on Cunningham Road, run by an ex-pat Brit. It’s best to book in advance for these spas. Perfect getaways without checking into a resort or driving a long distance out of the city.
  • Aroma Home Spa www.aromahomespa.com 080-4205 3467) has opened in Whitefield area (at Marathahalli, close to the Bangalore tech parks and upcoming 5 star hotels). This spa boasts of ALL natural eco-friendly products in use and a first of its kind hydro therapy massage in addition to therapies suited to individual needs.
  • Akaasa‘ located in the posh location of Defense Colony www.akaasa.in is a perfect way to ‘treat your senses’.
  • Learn Buddhism
    • The Maha Bodhi Society, 14 Kalidasa Road, Gandhinagar, +91 80 2250684, E-mail: mahabodhi@vsnl.com [58]. This temple has a very active schedule. There are teachings on the Dharma in English on the first two and last Sundays of every month from 9:30-11:30AM, while on the 3rd Sunday there is a meditation retreat. Anyone is welcome to attend. The temple also has a good library and a beautiful garden – a great place to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis outside.
  • Thubten Lekshey Ling (Dharma Subhashita), Tel: +91 98 80296930, E-mail:info@dharmasubhashita.org, [59], is an Indo-Tibetan Buddhist meditation and study group founded under the spiritual guidance of HH Pema Norbu (Penor) Rinpoche. Weekend teachings in meditation and philosophy are offered by lamas from Namdroling Monastery, Bylakupee. Thubten Lekshey Ling follows the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism as our spiritual practice lineage. Thubten Lekshey Ling upholds the non-sectarian values of the ri-me’ movement.
  • Choe Khor Sum Ling (CKSL), Ashwini, No. 24, First Floor, Domlur Layout, Tel: +91 80 41486497, E-mail: admin@choekhorsumling.org, http://www.cksl.in/ . This Tibetan Buddhist meditation and study center is in Domlur near Shanti Sagar Hotel on Airport Road. CKSL is a center for the study and practice of Mahayana Buddhism following the lineage and example of Lord Buddha. The Center, whose name means ‘The Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma’ was founded in 2003 by Lama Zopa Rinpoche under the guidance of HH the XIVth Dalai Lama. The Center offers courses in various Buddhist meditation techniques and teachings on different aspects of Buddhism. Teachings are offered free to the public and are conducted in English or in Tibetan (with translation in English). In addition to regular teachings, every few weeks the Center invites senior Lamas to give talks on important aspects of the Buddhist path. Such talks are also accompanied by instructions and initiations by the Lama into different meditation practices.
  • Science and stuff

Bangalore is famous for its innumerable educational and research institutes. The Indian Institute of Science, http://www.iisc.ernet.in/ , set in sprawling grounds, is the largest and best in India. It does cutting-edge research on almost any topic imaginable. Also, there are other places like JNCASR (Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research), the various veterinary and agriculture universities, the University of Bangalore, and NCBS (National Centre for Biological Sciences). There is also the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, which conducts two sky-gazing shows daily, and conducts many exhibitions and workshops by / for children. More information can be found at http://www.taralaya.org/ .

Other places include the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, ISRO Satellite Centre, Raman Research Institute, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Central Power Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), CSIR Centre for Mathematical Modeling and Computer Simulation (CMMACS), Indian institute of Management – Bangalore (IIM -B), Indian Institute of Information Technology – Bangalore (IIIT-B), Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB) , Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Science.

In short, Bangalore is the place to go to in India for post-graduation (graduate studies) or higher.

  • Handicraft
    • Chandi – The Divine Gallery, Shop No. 12, First Floor, Public Utility Building, M.G. Road +91 80 4112-3590/41123610, specializing in Indian divine figures in all mediums. Claims to have the biggest collection of Ganeshas in Bangalore. High-quality and locally-priced wares, no pushy salesmanship.
  • The Cauvery Arts & Crafts Emporium, 45 M G Road, +91 80 2558-1118, is a large store, offering a wide selection of some of Karnataka’s best hand made products. The carvings made of Mysore sandalwood are an especially good buy.
  • Central Cottage Industries Emporium (CCIE), M G Road – A government run store promoting traditional Indian hand crafts. The CCIE has major outlets in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai.
  • Royal Arts & Crafts, 21 K.H. Road, +91 80 2248-4797 has a particularly wide selection of silk carpets and paper mache products.
  • Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation, 45 K.S.H.D.C Complex, M.G.Road, +91 80 2558-1118 – specializes in Karnataka handicraft.
  • Kala Madhyam Store located in Benson Town show cases over 15 exquisite folk and tribal art paintings, handicrafts from across India, clothing for women and specialises in wall murals (of folk and tribal art as well as terra cotta). Please visit: #77/8, Nandidurg Road, (Benson Cross Road Corner, Second Floor, Flat No 2, Benson Town, Bangalore – 560 046. Email: mail@kalamadhyam.org http://www.kalamadhyam.org
  • Trekking
  • Scuba diving

Pigeon Island (Netrani Island) lies about 10 km off the coast of Murudeshwar in Karnataka. It is a 4 hour drive from Goa, or can be reached by Konkan Railway, with Murudeshwar and Bhatkal being the nearest stations. There are currently no local dives centers here, and all diving at this location is organized by dive centers based in Goa.

The visibility here is generally in the 15-20m range and the dive sites are between 10 to 30m. Marine life is spectacular, with huge schools of Jacks, Barracuda, Triggerfish and Fusiliers.

To Eat

These are a few speciality dishes you can feast on in Karnataka:

  • Dosa – A thin dough baked until crisp and containing masala. To eat, pieces are broken off and dipped in one of the amazing sauces that accompany the dish.
  • Bisibele Baath – Made of rice and lentils and a lot of spices.
  • Raagi and Akki Rotis – Similar to tortillas but made of raagi (English: coracan, finger millet) or rice flour and black cumin, asafoetida, fresh coriander, green chillies and finely chopped onions.
  • Raagi Mudde – A staple food in some South Indian households. It is basically made by cooking raagi flour in water and rolling it into thick-consistency balls. Raagi mudde is swallowed and not chewed after dipping it into ghee and sambar.
  • Idli – Idli, also prounounced “idly”, is made by steaming batter — traditionally made from black lentils and rice — into patties using a two to three inch diameter mold.
  • Jolada Roti: A thin tortilla made of Jawar baked on both sides for 2-3 minutes, grown in northern part of karnataka. Preferable to have with brinjal curry.

Famous Drink

  • Filter Coffee is very famous and unique about Karnataka.
  • Badam Milk (crushed almond powder mixed with milk served hot and cold.)

NASA bar on Church Street.JPG

Food:

  • Shettara Beedi (Food Street) The entire street adjoining the famous VB Bakery at V V Puram is Bangalore’s miniature version of Kuala Lumpur’s Jalan Alor foodstalls. A haven for anyone who enjoys hawker fare, one can stall-hop and have a variety of snacks that’ll satisfy even the most ravenous hunger and spend less than Rs. 100/- (USD 2.50) in total. Some of the must-try dishes are dum-root and butter-bun congress at VB Bakery. The dosas, obbattu (sweet pancake), akkirotti (rice pancake), fried bondas, butter-gulkand, and masala-pepsi available at the various stalls are also delicious. Note that the street comes alive only in the evenings (after 6PM) and that only vegetarian fare is available here.
  • Janani, J.P.Nagar.It is a great place to have breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can have idli and sambar for Rs. 8 and a cup of tea for Rs. 6. You can have a north Indian Roti Curri for Rs. 12. If you want to have good Punjabi food, go upstairs and get a good meals under Rs. 150.
  • Anupams Coastal Express , Shivanand Circle. If you want to taste some real good sea food , you ought to go to this place. They make fantastic fish dishes. Neer Dosa with Chicken Pulimunchi ,Kori Roti and Chicken Ghee Roast are some things you really cant miss.
  • Hotel Empire, Church Street(next to museum inn), & 2 other locations on Center Street and Koramangala, http://www.hotelempireinternational.com/ . 10AM-3PM daily. Serves Indian, Chinese, and Middle eastern cuisine until late night. Try Butter Chicken, Chicken Kababs and Parathas. Chicken Thali in the evening is great taste and also good value for money budget.
  • Fanoos. Adjoining Johnson Market, off Brigade Road. One of the joints for getting Sheekh (beef) Rolls in Bangalore. They come in various sizes – sheekh roll, sheekh jumbo, sheekh mambo, sheekh rambo and sheekh sambo – the latter of which is almost 2 inches thick. There are other options like chicken, mutton and paneer rolls as well as kababs and shawarma. Rs. 30-100 per head. But the hygiene here is almost non-existent.
  • Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR), 11 Lal Bagh Road, +91 80 2222-0022, +91 80 2222-1706. One of the very old traditional breakfast places in Bangalore. There are a few people who have been having their breakfast at MTR everyday for the past 15 years. Closed between 2:45 and 3:30 PM. Expect a long wait on weekends. Traditional 12 course Karnataka lunches are also available here for around Rs.90 per head. Advance reservations recommended at weekends. Their Rava idlis, Dosas and Bisi Bele Bath are excellent. It has maintained its excellent quality over the years and is very famous. It is on the road perpendicular to Lal bagh main gate.
  • New Shanti Sagar. This is an reasonably reliable chain of (veg) south Indian restaurants. Branches scattered all over the city, notably in Koramangala 80ft road, Jayanagar, Domlur, etc. Rs 50-200.
  • The Adiga’s chain of restaurants to the south of Bangalore. Prominent among them are the joints located in: Jayanagar 4th Block, take the road facing BHS First Grade College, Basavanagudi. Here is the list: Adiga’s Park 585, 10th Main, 42nd cross, 5th Block Jayanagar; Adiga’s Foodline, 502,40th Cross, 8th block; Adiga’s Delicacy, 105 Dickenson’s road, Manipal Centre; Adiga’s Majestic, Next to Fkcci Bldg, KG Road; Adiga’s Nalapaka, across from HSBC Complex, Bannerghatta, Arikere.
  • Sree Krishna fast food a little further from the road connecting Lalbagh Westgate with Basavanagudi.
  • SLV chain of restaurants. Prominent among them are located in: Banashankari 2nd Stage, opposite BDA park and the one in J.P.Nagar 2nd Phase near Ragigudda Temple
  • Vidhyarthi Bhavan, just off Gandhi Bazar in Basavanagudi – A gastronomic haven – offering some of the best Masala Dosa in the world! This quaint little place is so famous that it has not even bothered to change it’s age old sign board (who needs it anyway, the aroma wafting through the air is a good enough indication that you are in the vicinity of the place)!!! Get there early for a breakfast, there’s always a bee-line for places to sit.
  • Brahmin’s Coffee Bar, just off ShankarMutt in Shankarapuram(Basavanagudi) -Famous for Idly, Vada and Its famous Chutney.You also get Khaarabath. Dont expect Sambar for Vada here.
  • Hotel Janatha, 8th Cross Road, Malleswaram – Makes some of the best Vada Sambhar and Masala Dosa in town.
  • Corner House, Residency Road (2558-3262), BTM Road, Koramangala (Off 80ft Road), Airport Road (Arlton Towers), Marthahalli (Whitefield Road)and Shivananda Circle is one of the best ice cream parlours offering a variety of treats. Their famed ‘Death by Chocolate’ (popularly known as DBC) is a must for all chocolate lovers and has attained a cult status. Can be tricky to find a spot during peak times and you may find yourself being ‘encouraged’ by the staff to leave quickly once you do.
  • Central Tiffin Room (a.k.a CTR), Margosa Road, Malleswaram – Another landmark hotel, dishing out some divine ‘Benne Masala Dosa’, which literally melts in the mouth.
  • Upahara Darshini, on DVG road, Basavanagudi. Another of Bangalore’s new found Darshinis dishing out top notch Masala Dosa and Vada Sambhar
  • Lake View Milk Bar, MG Road. Tel: +91 80 2558-7410 – excellent ice creams, club sandwiches and burgers.
  • McDonalds, Forum Mall, Koramangala – Don’t expect to find any beef items.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken(KFC) Indiranagar Serves good chicken and fast food.
  • Shiv Sagar, Narayan Pillai Street, Off Commercial Street. Tel: +91 80 509-8892 – Don’t get put off by the location! It’s a great place to eat.
  • Coconut Grove, Church Street – try the appams and Kerala parottas with a chicken source dish. Their lunch offer for Rs. 80 is also really good. A pretty good choice for reasonably priced quality seafood. Coco-Grove the outdoor ‘beer cafe’ extension is also worth a look.
  • KC Das: This is a chain of Bengali sweets stores.shop in Bangalore. The one on Church Street is perhaps the most visible and famous but there are outlets on Coles Road, BTM Layout etc.
  • Udupi Garden, 16th Main BTM Layout. Simple Udupi restaurant. Serves very good south Indian dishes at nominal prices. Also serves north Indian food.
  • Nandini, the Andhra fast food chain serves some excellent biriyani and chicken dishes
  • Shezan, on Lavelle Road and Cunningham Road, +91 80 22249319, +91 80 22249667, +91 80 22287895 +91 80 22262195. This restaurant provides Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines with a good menu choice where beef, fish, prawn, mutton and chicken meat are available. Excellent steaks.
  • Savera Tea Shop. 24-hour tea shops near Russell Market in Shivajinagar and on MG Road. Good place to go for a cup of tea in the dead of the night. Serves tea, Suleimani (honey+lemon) tea and a variety of biscuits. Rs. 3-15
  • Kanti Sweets. KG Road, Majestic, Malleswaram Circle, RT Nagar. Very good samosas, kachoris and North Indian sweets like rasmalai. Rapidly expanding chain, so there are plenty of branches all over the city now, which serve parathas and other food items as well. The main branch in Majestic is the best, and serves only samosas, kachoris and sweets. Rs. 10-50 per head.
  • Kohinoor, Brigade Road. Serves very reasonably priced Kerala muslim style food.
  • Java, (Phone: 080-4137-8888) in the G block of Diamond District apartment complex in Kodalli on the old Airport Road, is a hidden gem that serves buffet lunch and dinner for Rs 150 on weekdays, Rs 250 on weekends (as of 2008-06-30). The buffet consists of both North and South Indian dishes and caters to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Reasonably priced (Rs 90 to Rs 120 entree) a-la-carte selection is available outside of lunch and dinner hours.
  • Richies on MMRoad off Mosque Road serves the kind of biryani that is the Bangalore original. It is located midway on MM Road, and hard to miss because of the crowds that throng its takeaway counter. One visits Richies only for the food—tables and chairs made of synthetic wood, and dim light from gaudy chandeliers don’t exactly make for great ambiance. A motley bunch of diners cram the place for lunch and dinner (they have only recently built the second and third floors). The biryani here is delicious, and you must love meat to love Richies. The menu is limited; but the mutton and chicken biryani stand out from each other—they are not flavoured with the same masala, or heaven forbid, rice, their kababs are something nice and unique too.

Dhabas

  • There are few Dhabas catering to all tastes. Both South and North Indian fare is available at most places and is clean and cheap. A special mention is the green park dhaba on the outskirts on Bellary Road and Golconda Chimney on the airport road. Try the Chicken Kathi rolls and the Biryani.
  • Try out Bobby-da-Dhaba near Ulsoor Lake. Take a left turn from MG Road – Trinity Circle and ask for Gurudwara (the Sikh temple). Right next to the Gurudwara is Bobby-da-Dhaba. The food is quite good (albeit slightly oily). It basically serves paranthas (with lots of butter), chaach, kheer and a number of side dishes (most notable being their Shahi Paneer and Rajma). You may have to wait for a while in case it is full. So it’s better to go slightly early (say 12PM for lunch and 7:30PM for dinner to avoid rush).

What

  • Fresh coconuts are abundant in Bangalore, and the water sipped straight from the nut is a healthy, enjoyable and cheap way to quench the thirst.
  • As in many parts of India, the yogurt based drink lassi is readily available in Bangalore. It is served plain or flavored with sugar or fruit, mango being a popular one. Lassi is particularly refreshing on a hot day and is also very effective in cooling and calming the stomach after an overly-spicy meal.
  • Fresh lime soda, which is offered “sweet or salt”.
  • Kingfisher is the most popular and widely available beer in Bangalore. It is typically sold in 650 ml bottles, suitable for sharing between two or three people. Note: Indian beer may contain the additive glycerol, which can cause headaches.

Cafes:

  • Cake Walk – #297,100 Feet Road, Indra Nagar. Tasty and Yummy desserts Cake Walk location http://bangalore.burrp.com/establishment/view/198246643
  • Cafe Coffee Day – Can be found all over Bangalore.
  • Barista – Can be found all over Bangalore. Barista locator
  • Coffee World – Can be found all over Bangalore. Coffee World locations
  • Coffee Workers Co-op – M.G. Road – a venerable Bangalore institution, with waiters in traditional uniforms and customers slowly savoring the age-old tradition of coffee drinking – though there are just two choices of coffee: black or white. Have some delightful “masala dosa” here. UPDATE – unfortunately closed due to landlord dispute in April 2009. Reopened in May 2009 at the Church Street”s Brigade Gardens just behind its previous location.
  • BrewHaha – Koramangala http://www.brewhaha.in/ – a coffee shop which also offers snacks and desserts. But the best part is that they have over 50 board games for players of all skills/ages/group sizes. One of the best places for time-pass in Koramangala.
  • Java City on Church street offers a pleasant old Bangalore atmosphere, this place offers a wide variety of tea, coffee from all over the world including pizza, pasta, pastries, cookies, you name it they have it plus you get to see a unique sense of humor in their menu and on the walls. On saturday and Sunday evenings, there is live music, rock and guitar. This place is simple, expatriate friendly and not at all pricy. There is another Java City near Lavelle Road.

Drink

Formerly having a reputation as the Pub City of India, Bangalore’s buoyant pub and nightlife has been curtailed by police and regulatory action, and all bars and nightclubs must close no later than 11.30PM.

Pubs and bars

Budget

Most bars and pubs in the city are somewhat upscale, but many inexpensive restaurants serve beer and good quality food.

If you just need to go out you could go to one of the bars, but if you would like to have a great social experience and are in the city for a considerable period of time consider becoming a member of one of the social expat clubs in the city. The IVES Club http://www.ives.in/ offers a meeting for it’s members every Saturday at one or the other popular nightclubs in Bangalore, its members are interns, expats, volunteers and exchange students residing in the city.

Mid-range
  • Pecos, Rest House Road (off Brigade Road). This 60’s retro pub (a mural of Jerry Garcia greets you at the door) is often crowded on all three floors, including the pleasant roof-top seating area. Free popcorn with every pitcher of beer. Cards are available for frequent customers which make every tenth pitcher of beer free, but you may have to ask several times in order to acquire one and to get it updated.
  • Beer Joint Pub (aka BJP), Indira Nagar
  • Nasa, Church Street.
  • Tavern at The Inn, Museum Road.
  • Styx (next to Cauvery Handicrafts on M.G. Road) – They put the “Heavy” in heavy metal!!
  • Purple Haze, Residency Road. Popular for the classic rock that’s played there. Now there is a new Purple Haze off Hosur Road, Koramangala (close to Jyothi Niwas College).
  • Sparks,Brigade Road extension, next to Brigade Towers.
  • Ego’s, Castle Street, off Brigade Road.
  • J’Cubez, Banshankari 2nd Stage, opp. BDA complex – For all those rock lovers
  • The Bunker, off Residency Road.
  • Jimi’s near Residency road and Koramangala 80″ road offers a nice dark cozy bar along with Rock music and video. The place is best visited during weekends and isn’t hard on your pocket.
  • Legends of Rock, 80ft Road, 6th Block,Koramangala.+91 80 41303232. The only pub in Bangalore that lives up to its name. Watch the Legends perform on large format TV’s. Its more than a pub its an experience.
  • Olio, Koramangala, Bangalore has a great ambiance with beer, wines and continental food. +91 80 4092 7888
  • Opus, Palace Cross Road, near Sankey Road, +91 80 23442580, [86]. A chilled-out, ex-pat friendly lounge with a large outdoor space. Has karaoke on most Sundays and Wednesdays (Kroaknights) as well as regular live music and DJ dance nights. You may need to book ahead on theme nights. there has been a huge price increase on liquor off late!!
  • Sultanate Of Swing: 4th floor, Garuda Mall, Free entry, mainly plays Rock, Retro, Heavy Metal and has a Video DJ.
  • Bull n Bush:4th floor, Garuda Mall, Rs.500/- cover Charge, Plays Hip Hop, House and Occasionally Trance.
  • Le Rock Pub Cafe, Rest House Road (off Brigade Road)+91 8041231001. The latest watering hole in Bangalore. Rock music across the board screened on large Plasma panels; every song can not only be heard but seen as well. Coffee, Kingfisher beer, cocktails, food and Bangalore’s first oxy bar. Open from 10AM to 11:30PM.
  • Windsor Pub Just Off Mount Carmel’s in Kodava Samaja Building, Vasanth Nagar. A small place which serves only beer. Serves good food and nice for a family outing. But only limited tables!!
  • Carpe Diem Church Street (Off Brigade Raod) It’s a “Power Metal” Haven!!
  • B11 Jayanagar 4th Block (above Hotel Pavithra), next to Cool Joint
  • New Night Watchman corner Church and Museum Rds, a little bit dingy but helpful bar staff – satellite TV has the Australia Network so you can watch Rugby Union and AFL games.
Splurge

Most hotels have spiffy bars with every imaginable concoction of drinks available.

  • Kosmo, Formerly Cosmo Village on Magrath Road, has 3 separate areas including a terrace. 81, Ali Askar Road Cross, Off Cunningham Rd. This nightclub is a remodeled colonial villa on a quiet lane, with excellent DJs and expensive drinks, and attracts a wealthy clientele.
  • 13th Floor, Barton Center, M.G Road. Make a reservation.
  • The Beach, 100ft Road, Indiranagar. Make a reservation. Starts with Retro Music, plays some good hip-hop and house towards the end. Makes you feel like you are in Goa.
  • Aura, Cunningham Road
  • Athena, The Leela Hotel, Airport Road – Really popular on most days of the week. The upper VIP lounge is the best part of the club, but the rest of the club is beautifully appointed and attracts a hip crowd.
  • Blue Bar, Race Course Road – On weekends you need to buy drink-tickets for 1500 rs to enter. Excellent drinks if you make sure Joel makes them. Officially they have a couple’s only policy. Spontaneous dancing likely next to the bar.
  • F-Bar (Fashion Bar – a theme bar by FTV) inside Le Meridien
  • Fuga The best place for House Music lovers, Richmond Town. Expensive and fashionable.
  • Firangi Paani, Forum Mall, Koramangala.
  • Geoffrey’s, Airport Road (Royal Orchid). Really nice place.
  • Hint, 5th Floor Bangalore Central, M.G Road. Tuesdays is ladies night (couples permitted).
  • iBar, Park Hotel, M.G Road
  • Spinn, just next to Brigade road circle. Closes early at 11:30PM. You have to pay a cover charge of Rs 500 to enter. Saturdays is a party goers energy paradise with full-on house and some hip hop towards the end.
  • Taika, Church Street (off Brigade Road) – Usually open past midnight and has a huge dance floor. 3 bars and a lounge area. Entrance varies each night.
  • Tuscan Verve (off Brigade Road).
  • Vaayu, Cool bar on the 5th floor of Eve Mall on Brigade road. It has comfortable lounge seating, and is open air, giving some nice views over the city.

Place to Stay:

Due to demand vastly outstripping supply, good hotels in Bangalore are insanely expensive — with average rates pushing US$200/night. Fortunately prices at the lower end of the spectrum are rather more reasonable.

  • Silicon Suites, 174, Nagvarapalya, Rahat Bagh, Behind Big Bazaar, off Old Madras road, near Indiranagar Tel: +91 80 4019 8888 [87]
  • VSL Grand Serviced Apartments, Offers Luxurious Single and Two Bedroom Apartments, close to Palace Grounds and easily accessible to the road leading to the New International Airport, “12, Bore Bank Road, Benson Town, Tel: +91 80 4128 9401 to 08 [88]
  • Ajantha, 22 MG Road. Good simple hotel with veggie restaurant. Tel:+91 80 2558-4321.
  • Royal Regency Lodge, S. C. Road (Next to Movieland theater),Clean rooms and convenient to the city’s local transports like the City bus station and the City Railway Station. Tel:+91 80 41130202 [89]
  • Shree Vaishnav Gujarati Samaj (good, very cheap staying for gujaratis) – just behind “Majestic Area” Nr Sapna cinema, Kempe Gowda circle – a secure and decent place to stay if you are there for a day or two. Costs only Rs 50. A nice canteen just inside the place with Gujarati food available. In the vicinity there is another good place available for fast food / lunch named “SLV”. Good value for money.
  • UG Deluxe (Majestic) Thulsi Thotta, need to get down by the small road opposite to Upparpet Police station and next to Navruchi restaurant, then take right and then immediate left on a small lane and at the end of it take right and you will see the lodge on your right. You may want to take an auto instead of walking down if you are going after a rainy day as your shoes will catch up dirt. Non-A/C rooms cost around Rs. 550 (approx. $13), A/C rooms may cost a Rs. 200 ($5) more than that.
  • YMCA, Nrupathunga Road (near Cubbon Park), no-frills hotel. Tel:+91 80 2221-1848
  • Others around Majestic, If you are free for an hour, you can just go around the Majastic theatre and the Kempe Gowda Bus Station and look for a budget hotel yourself, as there are many on small streets and roads around this place. Or, you can even trust (to some extent) a broker who voluntarily offers help, but be sure you take a good look at the rooms before you pay any money to the lodge and the broker. But there is a wrong notion in the minds of people in and around Majestic that Whenever you go in pairs, they tend to look at you with a wrong and suspicious look. If coming with family, especially newly married, avoid the Majestic area.
  • D-Habitat Hotel Apartments, in Koramangala Bangalore offers Deluxe Rooms, Suites, Studio, 2 and 3 Bedroom Apartments with the unique comforts of Home; The ambiance of a Corporate Guest House and the exclusive facilities of a fine serviced apartment ideal for short-term and extended stay. Tel:+91 080 41501950 [90]
  • Maple Suites (Serviced Apartments), #142 & 143, Dollar Layout. 4th Main, BTM II Stage. Bangalore (Off Bannerghatta Road oppo to Mantri Elite.), ☎ +91 80 42822428, [91]. checkin: 12noon; checkout: 12noon. Located in the heart of Bangalore’s Southern IT Hub off Bannerghatta Road – Maple Suites has been exclusively designed or Long & Short Term stay needs of the urban traveler. Maple Suites has unparalleled facilities, comfort and attention to detail in the serviced apartment space. w:www.maplesuites.in Studio Apartment Tariff Starts at Rs1999.  edit\
  • Basil Hotel, #8, Sampige road, Malleshwaram (Next to Sampige Theatre / close to central railway station and bus stand), ☎ +91 80 40402323, [92]. checkin: 24 hours; checkout: 24 hours. High quality hotel with good service Starting from Rs.2900.
  • Hotel Bangalore Gate, # 9 & 12, Gajanana Towers, K G Road, Bangalore-09 (Hotel is just 500 mts away from Majestic & Bangalore City Railway station), ☎ 080-41100777, [93]. checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon. Discover a home away from home at Hotel Bangalore Gate – “A Value for money Business/Boutique Hotel” completing a decade in the hospitality industry, during which customer care & satisfaction has consistently been our hallmark! The Contemporary, Classy & Subtle feel and décor of the hotel coupled with its convenient and central location makes Hotel Bangalore Gate the perfect choice for comfort loving leisure traveler and also the corporate traveler for whom time is synonymous with money! INR1600- 3600.
  • Citizen Lodge. Recommended by both Lonely Planet and the Rough Guide, this bare bones motel-style establishment is well located (about 1km from MG Road) but leaves much to be desired in terms of cleanliness and overall quality. A double non-AC room costs around Rs. 800.  edit

Mid-range

  • Hotel Woodlands: No 5,Rajaram Mohan Roy Road,Near Richman Circle, Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road, tel: +91 80 22225111. Great mid-range hotel (very clean, great views of the city, delicious free South Indian breakfast buffet) for Rs. 3400 per night for an A/C double (two single beds pushed together). Nice location for exploring the city: walkable (long walk) to M.G. Road (shopping), Garuda Mall (shopping), and Commercial Street (and more shopping).
  • Fantasy Golf Resort, Opp ITC (Next to Bangalore International Airport),Ideal for hotel stay next to Bangalore Airport or for Transit Passengers.Just 10 mins away. Tel: +91 99 72092701 [94]
  • Hotel Vrindavan – Located just off M.G. Road.very near to M. G. Road/Brigade Road junction (Also called cauvery handicraft junction). Nice hotel for lodging & great south Indian food.
  • Church Street Inn – Located near- the Hard Rock Cafe, MG Road, Brigade Road and Residency Road. Church Street Inn, 46,1-1 Church Street (Opposite Night Watchman Pub, Tel: +91 80 30577190 [95] Complimentary wi-fi access and an in house library from Dr.Seuss, Dahl to Dostoyevsky! Friendly and intelligent staff.
  • Hotel St. Marks – St. Marks Road (Near Residency Road).
  • Best Western The Capitol – Raj Bhavan Road. Tel: +91 80 22281234, 22281800.
  • 9 Marks Inn – 9, St Marks Road. Tel: +91 80 22112889,[96]
  • The Bouvice – 141C,S.T.Bed Layout, 1st Main Kormangala , Sector 4. Tel: +91 80 41524429, 9342856034. [97]– A beautiful apartment hotel in Kormangala. email: info@bouvice.com.
  • Samrat Luxury Hospitality – ISKON Temple Foot hills, 149/A, R Block, West of Chord Road, Rajajinagar. Ph: +91 80 22792893, Email:contact@samrathospitality.com For More details visit [98]
  • Chalet Hospitality – for luxury serviced / furnished apartments Bangalore, Ph: +91-9901976955, Email:info@chalethospitality.com For More details visit [99]
  • Stopovers Serviced Apartments (Stopovers), Diamond District, Old Airport Road, Bangalore (Close to old airport road), ☎ 9845139800, [100]. Check in: 24hrs; checkout: 24hrs. Custom designed contemporary apartments Rs 4,500.
  • Mitaroy Cricket Hotel, Richmond Town (located near MG Road), ☎ 080 23617708 (ask@mitaroy.com), [101]. Asia’s only Cricket Hotel, this unique boutique hotel has a phenomenal collection of cricket memorabilia including Sachin Tendulkar’s autographed portrait with Sir Don Bradman and Sir Gary Sobers Bat. Rs 3500.
  • Hotel Tap Silver Square, Brigade Rd, Rs 899-1,499.

Splurge

  • Grand Ashok Hotel, Kumara Krupa High Grounds. Tel:+91 80 22-2404-2211 (9 lines). Email: grandashok@nivalink.com [102]
  • Taj Residency Hotel], 41/3 MG Road. Tel:+91 80 5660-4444. Email: residency.bangalore@tajhotels.com [103]. Besides the Leela, this is considered the Best Business Hotel in India.
  • Chancery Pavilion, Residency Road. Nice business hotel, good service and food. About $200 US
  • Park Hotel, 14/7 MG Road. Tel:+91 80 2559-4666. Email: resv.blr@theparkhotels.com [104]
  • ITC Windsor Sheraton Hotel, Sankey Road, [105]
  • Oberoi Hotel, 37-39 MG Road. Tel:+91 80 2558-5858. [106]
  • Taj West End Hotel, Race Course Road. Tel:+91 80 5660-5660. Email: westend.bangalore@tajhotels.com [107]
  • Leela Palace Kempinski, Tel:+91 80 2521-1234. Email: bangaloresales@theleela.com . [108]. The Leela has been voted ‘The Best Business Hotel in the World’ by Conde Naste Traveller, for this year.
  • Le Meridien, Tel:+91 80 22262233. Email: leme.bangalore@lemeridien.com [109]
  • Hotel Royal Orchid, Tel:+91 80 2520 5566. Adjoining KGA Golf Course, Airport Road. [110] Sometimes referred to as the “Royal Orchid Park Plaza”. Not to be confused with Royal Orchid Central.
  • The Paul139/28, Domlur Layout, Off Intermediate Ring Road, Tel: +91 80 40477777
  • The Oterra Hotel, 43 Electronics City, Hosur Road, Tel: +91 80 30030303. [111]

Caution:

Bangalore is a relatively safe city during day time. But it is equally unsafe once it gets dark. It is not advisable to walk along deserted alleyways or lanes after dark. Rising incomes has brought an influx of people including white collar immigrants and hard-labour immigrants from outside the city, leading to extreme disparities in earnings between locals, the casual labour immigrants and expatriates (people from other parts of the state and also from other countries) which arguably has resulted in a substantial increase in crime rates. Most of the victims are from IT industry who are waylaid on their way back home, and robbed of their belongings.

Avoid using an auto rickshaw if the driver is not alone.

Area code for Bangalore is 080. When calling from overseas, dial +91 80 XXXX XXXX. If you don’t have an Indian phone number, it is strongly recommended that you get a pre-paid calling card if you plan on using your phone frequently. Because of new government regulations, you need a photocopy of your passport (visa and the ID pages), a color photo, and proof of local address (in Bangalore) when buying a pre-paid card. If you do not have the appropriate paperwork, it is recommended that you ask a local friend to buy a pre-paid card on your behalf. Pre-paid cards are sold in a few of the shops that sell mobile equipment.

Internet

There are plenty of Internet Centers which charge around Rs.10 per hour. If you have laptop with Wi-Fi connection, free internet services are also available at some places like “The Forum” mall.

Posted by: getaway2india | March 1, 2010

Aurangabad – City of Gates

Aurangabad – City of Gates
Aurangabad, a dream destination of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, founded in 1610, is known today, as one of the four important cities in Maharashtra.. It sees a lot of international tourist traffic due to world heritage sites, Ajanta & Ellora caves. Travellers to Aurangabad will find history dating back to the 2nd century BCE, when the Satavahanas rulers established their capital in Pratishtanapura, today known as Paithan. It was around this time that the viharas (monasteries) were carved out of caves in what is now Ajanta, and the stunning cave paintings were made, to be lost and rediscovered in the early 19th century. The carvings in the Ellora caves track the changing fortunes of three major religions Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism between the 5th and the 10th century CE.

Aurangabad is famous for its Historic gates and so is called the City of Gates. The entire city of Aurangabad was a fort and huge entrance gates were erected. Except for Bharkal gate all the other gates are associated with the period of Aurangzeb. The gates with prime importance were the ones facing the four directions, Delhi Gate facing the North, Paithan gate facing South, Makai Gate (Mecca Gate) facing East and the Khas Gate facing the West. In all there were 54 gates in Aurangabad. Out of 54 gates only 13 have survived over the period of time. The important and architecturally most appealing gates include Delhi Gate, Kala Darwaza, Makia Gate, Paithan gate and Rangeen Darwaza.

These are the thirteen gates which still stand with pride and have become the characteristic part of the city. These are as follows-

Barapulla Gate

Badkal Gate

Delhi Gate - Beyond lies the Road to Delhi

Kala Gate...Black Gate....looks white to me

Khas Gate – Now not so Khas!!!

Khizer Gate

Makai Gate

Manju Gate

Mehmood Gate

Naubat Gate...meaning 9 Way/point/instrument/something Gate

Paithan Gate...leads to Paithan City

Rangeen Darwaza...Colourful Gate...Is it colourful?

Roshan Gate...Famous Gate...look at all the posters!

The Yadava kings established their capital in Devagiri (also spelt Deogiri) and built a fort that stands to this day. The fort was reputed to be impregnable, but Ala-ud-din Khilji of Delhi captured it by laying siege on it and renamed it to Daulatabad. Malik Kafur, his general consolidated his hold on the region. As the Delhi Sultanate was captured by Mohammad bin Tughluq, the fort passed to him. Tughluq is famous for his famously botched plan to move his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad along with the entire population of the city, only to have to return because he had not planned for water supply at his new capital. This fiasco ensured fame for his name, as Indians took to describing the oft-shifting plans of their rulers as “Tughluq policies”.

The region kept changing hands till the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan consolidated his hold and appointed his son Aurangzeb as the governor. Aurangzeb established his base here. When he became Viceroy of the Deccan plateau he made it his capital and named it Aurangabad. This was the golden time in the history of Aurangabad when the city flourished the most in terms of culture, architecture, art etc. In the year 1679, Aurangzeb’s son built a replica of the Taj-Mahal, the ‘Bibi-ka-Maqbara’, in tribute to his mother Begam Rabia Durani. It is considered to be a masterpiece of Mughal architecture in the Deccan plateau.

He returned to the city again in 1681, this time as an emperor, determined to crush the south once and for all. He spent the last two decades of his life battling the Marathas in an ultimately fruitless campaign. He died in 1707 in Khuldabad near Aurangabad city and was buried there — the battles ultimately resulted in the demise of his empire too.

The district is now the headquarters of the backward region of Marathwada, but it is also a manufacturing hub as many Indian companies have their plants here. It also contains the headquarters of Videocon, a fairly large Indian MNC producing electronics.

Climate

The climate of Aurangabad is Temperate Climate with low relative humidity and diverse but not extreme weather conditions.

Summer – March to May – Maximum and minimum temperatures of 37 and 21 Degrees Celsius respectively. Nights are usually pleasant and cooler during the entire summer. Average Relative Humidity is as low as 9%.

Winter – November to February is the most comfortable time to visit Aurangabad. Maximum of 22°C & minimum of 10°C.

Monsoon – June to October receives moderate rainfall of 91 cm on an average. The average relative humidity during this period of time is 40%.

Languages

Major population in Aurangabad speaks Marathi- the regional language of Maharashtra. Hindi, Urdu and English are also spoken widely.

Generally people who come in close contacts with people do understand and speak fairly good English.

Getting in

Aurangabad enjoys central location with respect to Maharashtra and Goa. All major cities in Maharashtra lie within a radius of 500 Km. Thus it is well connected by Air, Rail and Road to other parts of country.

Aurangabad has a good network of National and State highways connecting all parts of the country. Aurangabad railhead is directly connected to many parts of the country including major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad. Direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi are available on a daily basis. One Flight except on Mondays from Udaipur is also available during tourist seasons.

By Air

Aurangabad has its own International airport – Chikalthana Airport is equipped with all modern facilities (Airport code: IXU).

Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Class, Kingfisher Red and JetLite have a number of regular flights from Mumbai, Delhi & Hyderabad to Aurangabad.

The nearest international airports are Mumbai and Pune.

Flights From Mumbai to Aurangabad

  • Air India (IC-887 – Dep 15:55 hrs) -Full Service Carrier
  • Jet Airways (9W-113 – Dep 07:15 hrs) -Full Service Carrier
  • Jet Airways (9W-3109 – Dep 18:25 hrs) -Full Service Carrier
  • Kingfisher Red (formerly Deccan) (IT4139 – Dep 19:05 hrs) -Budget Carrier

Flights From Delhi to Aurangabad

  • JetLite (S2-6171 – Dep 09:05 hrs) -Budget Carrier
  • Air India (IC-887 – via Mumbai – Dep 13:00 hrs) -Full Service Carrier

Flights From Hyderabad to Aurangabad

  • Kingfisher Class (formerly Kingfisher) (IT-2921 – Dep 15:00 hrs) – Except Tuesday -Full Service Carrier

Flights From Udaipur to Aurangabad (Available during the Tourist season only)

  • Kingfisher Class (formerly Kingfisher) (IT-2331 – Dep 07:55 hrs) – Except Monday -Full Service Carrier

Website of Airlines:

By Rail

Aurangabad is a Railway Station of South-Central railway on Manmad – Secunderabad section (Railway Station code – AWB). The city has direct rail links to important Indian cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, etc. Aurangabad Railway Station is an average Indian railway station, with an information booth, waiting rooms, rest rooms, book stalls, canteen and a computerized ticket booking office. Wheel chairs are available on request from the Station Master’s office located on Platform No. 1. No trolleys are available. Porters can be hired to help with luggage. Please utilize the services only of Licensed Porters wearing red uniforms having numbered badges and pay them a fixed rate. The official approved rates in Maharashtra currently are as follows-

  • INR-25 for up to 10 Kgs/3 pieces of luggage (whichever is less) (Year 2009)
  • INR-20 per additional 5 Kgs/piece of luggage (whichever is less) (Year 2009)
  • A lightweight briefcase not exceeding 300 cubic cm is not included, but carries a INR-5 surcharge. No receipt is given by the porters. You can tip the porters up to INR-5 if you desire.

Trains are quite comfortable extremely cheap, affordable and fairly fast mode of transport. They are ideal for long and short hauls in India.

The difference between a lowest-fare air-ticket and the highest class train fare is remarkable. E.g. The highest fare (Air-conditioned First Class) for Mumbai – Aurangabad travel (around 375 Km) is only about INR-1050/- while the lowest air-fare of a low cost Airline, Deccan is around INR.3500/-!

Indian Railways offer various options including Air-conditioned compartments like Air-conditioned First Class (Railway code ‘H’), Air-conditioned 2-Tier Sleeper (Railway code ‘A’), Air-conditioned 3-Tier Sleeper (Railway code ‘B’), and for day trains Air-conditioned Chair-Cars (Railway code ‘C’). IRCTC provides complementary Blankets, pillows and hand towels on all Air-conditioned sleeper class compartments (H, A & B). Apart from this reserved Non Air-conditioned sleeper class (Railway code ‘S’) and Second Class Seating (Railway code ‘D’) are available on all sleeper trains and seating trains respectively.

Trains from Mumbai (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus / Dadar Railway Station)

  • Tapovan express (7617) – Dep-06:10 hrs Arr-13:15 hrs

Train Route: Mumbai, Dadar, Thane, Kalyan, Igatpuri, Dewlali Cantt., Nasik, Lasalgaon, Manmad, Aurangabad, Jalna, Parbhani, Nanded.

  • Aurangabad Jan-Shatabdi (2071) – Dep-13:55 hrs Arr-20:30 hrs

Train Route: Mumbai, Dadar, Thane, Kalyan, Nasik, Manmad, Aurangabad.

  • Nandigram Express (1401) – Dep-16:35 hrs Arr-23:43 hrs

Train Route: Mumbai, Dadar, Thane, Kalyan, Igatpuri, Dewlali Cantt., Nasik, Lasalgaon, Manmad, Aurangabad, Jalna, Parbhani, Nanded, Adilabad, Wani, Sevagram, Nagpur.

  • Devagiri Express (7057) – Dep-21:05 hrs Arr-04:00 hrs

Train Route: Mumbai, Dadar, Thane, Kalyan, Igatpuri, Dewlali Cantt., Nasik, Lasalgaon, Manmad, Aurangabad, Jalna, Parbhani, Nanded, Dharmabad, Basar, Nizamabad, Secunderabad.

TRAINS FROM DELHI, Amritsar, Agra, Bhopal

  • Sachkand Superfast Express (2716) – Dep-13:10 hrs Arr-11:30 hrs

Train Route: Amritsar, Jallandher, Ludhiana, Ambala Cantt., Panipat, New-Delhi, Mathura, Agra, Gwaliar, Jhansi, Bhopal, Itarsi, Khandwa, Bhusawal, Manmad, Aurangabad, Jalna, Parbhani, Nanded.

TRAINS FROM HYDERABAD (Secunderabad / Kacheguda Railway Station)

  • Ajanta Express (7064) – Dep-18:10 hrs Arr-04:00 hrs

Train Route: Secunderabad, Nizamabad, Dharmabad, Nanded, Parbhani, Jalna, Aurangabad, Manmad.

  • Devagiri Express (7058) – Dep-13:320 hrs Arr-23:20 hrs

Train Route: Secunderabad, Nizamabad, Dharmabad, Nanded, Parbhani, Jalna, Aurangabad, Manmad, Lasalgaon, Nasik, Dewlali Cantt., Igatpuri, Kalyan, Thane, Dadar, Mumbai.

Availability of trains can be checked on the Indian Rail Official web-site:

http://www.indianrail.gov.in/inet_srcdest_names.html

Rail links via Manmad Junction: Manmad is the nearest Railway Junction on Central Railway wherein trains to all parts of India are available. Manmad – Aurangabad journey can be made by a good connection of trains or by road in a span of 2 to 2 1/2 hours. If you have a connecting train, make sure that there is at least a gap of 2 hours in the departures. In case you miss the connecting train, due to late running of a previous train, you can avail of a full refund at any of the two stations (ie connecting station or destination station).

Road

Aurangabad is linked by national highways and state highways to all parts of the country. Aurangabad has excellent road connectivity to all important cities in Maharashtra namely Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Nasik etc. The highway connections make the journey to the world famous destinations of Ajanta and Ellora very comfortable.

Distances from major Cities in Maharashtra and the places of Tourist interest:

  • Mumbai – Aurangabad: 400 Km.
  • Pune – Aurangabad: 237 Km.
  • Nasik – Aurangabad: 190 Km.
  • Shirdi – Aurangabad: 144 Km.
  • Ajanta – Aurangabad: 107 Km.
  • Ellora – Aurangabad: 29 Km.
  • Daulatabad – Aurangabad: 14 Km.

By Bus

From Mumbai:

Aurangabad can be reached by road from Mumbai via Pune or Nasik. Via road Pune is a faster option despite a bit longer distance due to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) and private buses ply regularly and is an overnight journey. MSRTC operates their premium world class Air-conditioned Volvo B7R Bus service on this route named ‘Shivneri‘.

A few recommended private buses from Mumbai would be

  • Royal Cars(AC),
  • Konduskar(AC),
  • Ghatge Patil-Snozzer (AC Sleeper),
  • Humsafar (Non AC budget carrier).

Book your tickets only from authorized travel agents in Mumbai. Single ticket rates (in Year 2009):

  • Air-conditioned Bus is from INR-450/- to INR-650/-,
  • Air-conditioned Sleeper-Bus is from INR-700/- to INR-850/-, and
  • Budget Non Air-conditioned buses is INR-250/- to INR-350/-. Do not pay any agent more than this.

From Pune if you do not wish to drive then the safest and most reliable option is an MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) Shivneri Air-conditioned Bus Service. All Volvo B7R-9400 buses and are extremely safe, comfortable and fast. MSRTC Shivneri buses depart every hour from Shivaji Nagar Bus Stand starting from early morning 6.00 AM till late night up to 1.00 AM.

For budget travelers, an award winning Non Air-conditioned semi luxury bus service Asiad, also operated by MSRTC is available. Asiad buses depart every half an hour from Shivaji Nagar Bus Stand, Pune starting from early morning 5.00 AM till late night up to 1.00 AM. These are non Air-conditioned but comfortable buses.

Caution:

Avoid taking Air-conditioned and Non Air-conditioned private Buses from Pune. They never leave and reach on time!

From Nasik there is a similar semi luxury Asiad bus service of MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) with semi luxury Asiad buses available every hour departing from Nasik Central Bus Stand (CBS).

From Nagpur also Aurangabad has also good road connectivity. If you are traveling by bus, it will take you a bit more than 12 hours. MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) operates semi luxury – Asiad and ordinary buses to Aurangabad from Nagpur. Private AC Volvo and Non AC luxury buses are also available on local basis.

Good carriers include:

  • Prasanna (AC),
  • Saini (AC) and
  • Saini (Non AC budget carrier).

Apart from these cities Aurangabad has direct bus links from cities like Hyderabad, Sholapur, Kolhapur, Goa, Ahmedabad, Indore and many more.

Visit MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) web site for time-table of all buses to and from Aurangabad (NOTE: The web site requires the location of bus station eg. for Pune you have to write ‘Shivaji Nagar’ for Ellora you may enter ‘Verul’)

http://msrtconline.in/

Getting around:

The city of Aurangabad has all forms of transport right from intra-city buses, metered auto-rickshaws to chauffeur-driven taxis. In general, public transport in and around the city is fairly good. There are:

  • Intra-city Bus service is Municipal Corporation owned but privately operated.
  • AMT (Aurangabad Municipal Transport) buses ply throughout the city and outskirts reaching thousands of citizens to their offices, schools, colleges efficiently and in a cost effective manner.
  • MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) buses connect Aurangabad to nearby tourist places, distant suburbs and villages around.

TIP:As a tourist one is recommended to either take Metered Auto-rickshaws (3-wheeler taxis) or Chauffeur driven Taxis. These taxis are not very expensive and are ideal for one day tours to Ajanta, Ellora, Daulatabad, etc. A hatchback type air-conditioned taxi will cost you around INR 7.00/- (in year 2009) per kilometer for a least count of 80 KM or 8 hours whichever is less. Rates of more premium taxis are also computed in same manner with a higher cost per KM.

Caution: Important for the Tourists visiting Aurangabad for the first time:

Although Aurangabad has Metered Auto rickshaws(Three wheeler taxis) which run based on the fare as shown in Meter (details given below), it is seen that like any other tourist place Auto rickshaw drivers ask for exorbitant rates from the tourists especially at Railway station, Central bus stand or stops of Private buses. Make sure to ask before boarding the three wheeler cab that he will be charging you based on the meter reading, he activates the meter when you board, he also has a certified tariff card. The actual fare is around 8 times the meter reading in INR. But you can pay him around 10 times the reading. A tip up to 10% of the fare may be given ONLY IF you are happy with his services. Mid night fare is applicable from 00.00 hrs. to 05.00 hrs. which is 1.5 times the usual fare i.e. around 12 times the meter reading. Around half hour consideration can be given to auto rickshaw drivers (23.30 hrs to 05.30 hrs) as given by a majority of residents of Aurangabad.

Tourists who wish to travel to Ajanta, Ellora, Daulatabad, Paithan or any nearby tourist place are STRONGLY RECOMMENDED to travel only in MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) buses from Aurangabad CBS (Central Bus Stand), if they have not hired a Chauffeur driven Taxi from an authorised agent. Do remember that it is worthwhile to wait some time for an MSRTC bus than travelling in maxi-cabs (medium sized black-yellow taxis) parked outside the Aurangabad CBS (Central Bus Stand). These taxis are extremely unsafe.

AMT and MSRTC Buses

AMT (Aurangabad Municipal Transport) intra-city buses ply throughout the city including the outskirts and connect different parts of the city and adjoining suburbs together. The AMT bus service is affordable, efficient and safe. AMT buses carry thousands of passengers to and fro their workplaces, schools & colleges daily and thus are quite crowded during morning and evening rush hours.

MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) buses connect Aurangabad to nearby tourist places, distant suburbs and villages around. MSRTC Red Buses are available at regular intervals to the important tourist destinations near Aurangabad like Ajanta, Ellora, Daulatabad, etc. The frequency is good, are extremely safe and fairly comfortable though not very luxurious.

MSRTC also operates semi-luxury Asiad buses also to these destinations but the frequency is not very good. All these buses depart from and arrive at the Aurangabad Central Bus Stand (CBS). There is no need for Advance Booking and the tickets are issued on the bus itself. http://msrtconline.in/timetable.aspx

Aurangabad depot of MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) was crowned as Number One in Maharashtra in terms of the passenger flow and revenue generation for the year 2007-08. Aurangabad Bus depot is also the depot operating maximum number of ‘Janata Bus routes’ (public buses which halt at every stop particularly connecting the small villages and localities around the nearest big city) to and from the smaller towns nearby.

Conducted Bus Tours by MSTRC, Wonder Car Rentals and ITDC

MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) and ITDC (India Tourism Development Corporation) operate daily conducted tours by semi-Luxury buses to the tourist destinations like Ellora, Ajanta and Daulatabad wherein they also take a note of the tourist destinations in the city. These journeys can be booked at Aurangabad Central Bus Stand (CBS).

  • Tour 1: Aurangabad CBS to Ajanta Caves, Bibi-Ka-Muqbara, Pan-Chakki and back to Aurangabad CBS
  • Tour 2: Aurangabad CBS to Ellora Caves, Daulatabad Fort, Bibi-Ka-Muqbara, Pan-Chakki and back to Aurangabad CBS

These conducted bus tours are ideal only if you are short of time and are alright having a glance at all these places. The major disadvantage of these tours is a very tight time-schedule. The site seeing has to be wound up very fast without you being able to take your own time. You can even get in touch with them for private cabs. www.wondertravels.net

Metered Auto-Rickshaws (Taxis)

Metered Auto-Rickshaws are undoubtedly the most suitable and convenient way of traveling through the city. This is due to their easy availability at any time and the affordability. These are hired three-wheeler taxis which are ideal to move around the city. The Meter reading is read along-with a ‘tariff-card’ available with the driver. The actual fare is usually around 8 times the meter reading. Always ensure that the driver starts the meter on beginning of the journey. Fare from Mid night 12:00 AM to 05:00 AM is One and Half times the regular fare. The minimum regular fare is as low as INR 10/- Only.

Chauffeur Driven Taxis / Tourist Taxis

These are ideal for the tourists visiting the city and the tourist destinations around. The tourist taxis can be booked from various travel agents in the city like:

  • Blue-Ocean Travels,
  • Wonder Travels,
  • Manmandir Travels,
  • Saibaba Travels,
  • Welworth Travels,
  • Classic Cars, etc.
  • All hotels also have a taxi-counter.

The fare is calculated per kilometre with a minimum of 80 KM. The fare depends on the class of vehicle and the type (AC or Non-AC). See to it that the taxi you hire has a tourist permit and is not a private vehicle. The tourist permit cars can be easily identified by a yellow number plate.

Drive (Car or Two Wheeler)

This is the most common way of transport for the local people. But for the tourists, self driven cars and two wheelers are not easily available on hire basis in India. Driving on the streets is fairly comfortable as there is not much traffic on the roads and the roads are wide (except that in old part of the city). Some roads are not very well-maintained and are prone to pot-holes.

To See:

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves

These depict the stories of Buddhism spanning from the period from 200 B.C. and 650 A.D. These caves were discovered in the 19th century by some British Officers who had been on a tiger hunt. These 29 caves were built by Buddhist monks using simple tools like hammer & chisel. These caves were the retreats of Buddhist monks who taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas, the ancient seats of learning. The elaborate and exquisite sculptures and paintings depict stories from Jataka tales. The caves also house images of nymphs and princesses. The Ajanta caves and the treasures they house are a landmark in the overall development of Buddhism as such.

Ellora Caves

The Ellora (Verul) Caves

These Caves have been Carved during 350 A.D. to 700 A.D. these structures represent the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. These caves 34 in number are located 29 km. from Aurangabad. They are fascinating and the finest example of cave temple architecture housing elaborate facades and exquisite interiors. The 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the centre dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain.

The nobility, grace and serenity inherent in Buddha is reflected in the sculptures of these caves. Caves 6 and 10 house images from the Buddhist and Hindu faith, under the same roof, the latter dedicated to Vishwakarma, the patron saint of Indian craftsmen.

The Vishwakarma cave is both a Chaitya and a Vihara, with a seated Buddha placed in the stupa. Its two – storied structure sports a colourful pageant of dwarfs, dancing and making music.

Kailasa Temple...the largest monolithic structure in the world


Kailasa Temple

Ellora caves are stunning architectural feats indeed, but the Kailasa Temple in Cave 16 is the jewel in the crown. It is an exquisite & largest monolithic structure in the world, carved top-down from a single rock (while other temple structures are built base upwards). the sculptures or architects of this majestic and fantastic sculptures started carving from the very top and the sides. The gigantic yet delicate and intricate piece of ancient work is the most amazing structure here.

It contains the largest cantilevered rock ceiling in the world. It is so carved as to represent Mt. Kailasa, the home of the god Shiva in the Himalayas.

The scale at which the work was undertaken is enormous. It covers twice the area of the Parthenon in Athens and is 1.5 times high, and it entailed removing 200,000 tons of rock. It is believed to have taken 7,000 labourers 150 years to complete the project.

Roof of the Kailasa Temple

The rear wall of its excavated courtyard 276 feet (84 m) 154 feet (47 m) is 100 ft (33 m) high. The temple proper is 164 feet (50 m) deep, 109 feet (33 m) wide, and 98 feet (30 m) high.

It consists of a gateway, antechamber, assembly hall, sanctuary and tower. Virtually every surface is lavishly embellished with symbols and figures from the “Puranas” (Historical Sanskrit poems). The temple is connected to the gallery wall by a bridge.

The Dumar Lena cave, dedicated to Lord Shiva, resembles the famous cave temple of Elephanta.

The Jain caves are about a mile away from the Kailasa temple, amongst which Cave 32, houses a beautiful shrine adorned with fine carvings of a lotus flower on the roof, and a yakshi on a lion under a mango – tree.

Caves 32 and 34 contain grand statues of Parasnath. The other Jain caves sport the images of Tirthankaras, and one of them, also, has a seated figure of Mahavira. These caves are a treasure of India which hold the wealth and display the rich Indian heritage.

Festival: Every year in the third week of March, M T D C organizes the Ellora Festival of Classical Dance and Music at the caves.

Cave Timings:

The caves are open from 9AM to 5:30PM Tues-Sun (closed on national holidays) Cave Timings: 9.00AM to 17.30PM Indian Standard Time (IST) Ajanta Caves remain closed on Monday and Ellora Caves remain closed on Tuesday. BOTH CAVES REMAIN OPEN ON ALL NATIONAL HOLIDAYS.

"No marble sheets should shield me from the sky as I lie there one with the earth."

Aurangzeb’s Tomb at Alamgir Dargah, Khuldabad

In the serene atmosphere of the court yard of Alamgir Dargah lie the remains of Aurangzeb the man who once ruled India sitting on jewel encrusted thrones, who, in his time, commanded the largest army on the face of the Earth.

One would be stunned by the utter simplicity of the tomb: the tomb of The Great Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. This man who was endowed with all riches of his ancestors wrote in his will, “No marble sheets should shield me from the sky as I lie there one with the earth.” And just as he desired only the portion where he lay is not covered with marble. The sides covered with plain white sheets. The rest is open to the sky, with few Tulsi plants growing over it.

Previously the grave was just a plain mound of earth until Lord Curzon the then viceroy of India in 1911, ordered a marble enclosure for the grave. The grave is thus enclosed in a delicately carved, lattice-work grill made of marble.

Aurangzeb didn’t want the expenses for his mausoleum to be taken from state treasury, instead he earned it all by stitching caps, copying verses from Quran and selling them. He was forever committed to simple living. He died in Ahmednagar but was buried in Khuldabad in the Dargah of his Guru, saint Sayyid Zain-ud-Din, who died in 1370 as per his wish.

Aurangzeb's Son's Grave

The tombs of Aurangzeb’s second son, Azam Shah, his wife’s and their daughter’s tomb were in another enclosure.

Alamgir Dargah - Khuldabad

Also along the Dargah’s premises are the various rooms, open water tanks, dormitories and tombs of other historical figures. One can feel a profound silent mood in the interiors in spite of the human traffic.

Grishneshwar Temple

Ghrishneshwar temple is half a kilometre from the Ellora Caves, and 30 km from Aurangabad. It is an 18th century temple that presents outstanding architecture and carving. This place forms one of the five Jyotirlinga sites in Maharashtra where Lord Shiva is worshipped. The Holkar temple nearby is a must-see.

Daulatabad Fort

Daulatabad, earlier known as Devagiri, is situated at a distance of 13km from Aurangabad. Also termed as the city of fortune, it houses a stupendous 12th century fortress well placed atop a charming hill. This is an interesting Fort, it stands on a conical hill, about 200 meters high. Much of the lower slopes of the hill has been cut away by Yadava dynasty rulers to leave 50 meter vertical sides to improve defenses. The fort is a place of extraordinary strength. The only means of access to the summit is by a narrow bridge, with passage for not more than two people abreast, and a long gallery, excavated in the rock, which has for the most part a very gradual upward slope.

Daulatabad Fort- View from the Top

About midway along this gallery, the access gallery has steep stairs, the top of which is covered by a grating destined in time of war to form the hearth of a huge fire kept burning by the garrison above. At the summit, and at intervals on the slope, are specimens of massive old cannon facing out over the surrounding countryside. Also at the mid way, there is a cave entrance meant to confuse the Enemies. Don’t miss the climb to the very top through the bat cave.

The fort area is sorrounded by three concentric walls (fortifications) known as kots. The outer one, Amberkot covers the Daulatabad old town (a few shopts on both sides of the road). The National Highway 211, connecting Aurangabad to Ellora passes through the area covered by Amberkot.The second one, Mahakot, is currently the boundary of the fort for all practical purposes. Around Mahakot, sorrounding the fort is a water body (it is dry now). The main entrance is in Mahakot and has eight gates. The third one is Kalakot.

After Kalakot, one has to cross a deep waterbody (moat), built around the pyramid shaped mountain. It is not over yet. This is followed by a dark zig-zag passage, carved through the rock known as Andhari. It is pitch dark inside. This is followed by a flight of 400 odd steps up to reach the main fort. The long ascending tunnel rises rapidly and tortuously by flights of steep steps. Opening of it at intervals are chambers for guards commanding the approach. At the head of the tunnel is an iron shutter which runs horizontally on small wheels, covering or uncovering the opening like a trap-door. A most ingenious and effective defense of this tunnel was the provision of a barrier of smoke. At a point about half-way through, where the tunnel passed near the vertical face of the rock a hold was cut through to secure draught for the fire in an iron brazier which installed in a small chamber opening into the tunnel when the fire was kindled the current of air from the hole would waft the smoke up the tunnel and render its passage impossible.

Also lying nearby is the Elephant tank. It used to be part of the extensive water supple system of the fort. Two large terracotta pipes channel water from the hills to the well- known fruit and vegetable gardens of Daulatabad.  The citadel possesses a plentiful supply of water from its own perennial springs.

The fort could be conquered only by treachery.

The moat is 16 metre wide and 20 meter deep. Two dams are constrcted in the moat to control water level. Water level can be increased above the bridge, so that the bridge is submerged during enemy attack. Leather bridges were also used, so that it could be rolled up immediately if needed.

Daulatabad Fort - Long (Range) Cannon


The Fort which according to Indian ancient texts falls under the classification of Misra durg or mixed fort as it combines the qualities of Giridurg (mountain fort), Dev durg (God’s fort) and Bhumi durg (land fort). The fortification walls were built at different periods by Yadavas, Khilji, Tughlaq, Bahamani, Nizam Shahi and Malik Amber bears a marked resemblance to medieval European forts in the disposition of projecting towers, covered passages and bastions. The walls consist of labyrinth like arrangements of the underground secret passage with safety arrangements, in the style of buildings which give the bastions, despite their grim appearances, a touch of beauty by insertions of carved stones and dainty architectural details at various places.

Watch Tower - Definate Influence from Rajsthan!

The fort has been considered as the most powerful, puissant fort that offered robust resistance to the enemies. An invincible fort, one of the best preserved in comparison to other forts in the vicinity of the same period. Its sound and sturdy quality exists due to the powerful wall about three miles in perimeter and defended by a moat and gacis that runs round the hill at its foot and between this outer curtain and the citadel, also known as Dharagir and Duwagir. These details have been extracted from Professor Dulari Qureshi’s book Fort of Daulatabad. ” The moat around the citadel is crossed by a stone bridge, the level of water in the moat being controlled by dams which could render the bridge inaccessible during siege.

The Moat

The fort also has many underground tunnels. Most of them have been closed/sealed. It is believed that one such tunnel stretches from inside the fort to Rajur town where famous Ganapati temple is built. The tunnel’s length is approximately 70 kms. It is said that Daulatabad Fort’s ‘deep-mala’ (lights tower) can be seen from Rajur temple.

Watch a video on Daulatabad Fort:

Bibi ka Maqbara A replica of the Taj Mahal, the Bibi-ka-Maqbara is the only example of Mughal architecture of its kind in the Deccan plateau. It was built in 1679 by Aurangzeb’s son, in tribute to his mother, Begum Rabia Durani. It lies in the city of Aurangabad itself.

Panchakki

Panchakki

It is an impressive pre-Mughal watermill harnessed to operate large grain-grinding stones. It was built in 1624 to commemorate the memory of the
Sufi saint Baba Shah Musafir, whose tomb lies nearby. The mill which was considered a marvel of engineering at that time.

Dating back to the 17th century, this ingenious water mill was designed to use the energy generated by flowing water from a nearby spring to turn
the large grinding stones of the flourmill

The water-mill is kept fed with sufficient water by an underground conduit, which commences from a well just above the junction of the Harsul
river with a tributary stream eight kilometers away. This water-pipe after crossing the tributary stream near its confluence with Harsul
proceeds to the Panchakki reservoir. The arrangement is such that the water is made to fall in the Panchakki cistern from quite a height in
order to generate the necessary power to drive the mill. The cistern in front of the mosque whose bottom forms the roof of a spacious hall.
The cool chambers of the hall is used during the summers by pilgrims, and is about 164′ X 31′ ornamented with fountains, . The excess of water
is let in the Kham river.

Library

An 18th century library, housing manuscripts and a number of precious books has been reopened after 70 years here (Aurangabad). The
library treasured about 100,000 books and writing pieces till Indian independence (1947). However, it was closed down in 1970s due to
administrative reasons due to which many of the library books were shifted to Hyderabad. The library presently houses 2,500 books on various
subjects related to history, law, medicine, Sufism, religion and philosophy in Arabic, penned by philosophers, saints and scholars in Urdu and
Persian language.

Aurangabad Caves, a fine piece of architecture, is presented in the most unembellished manner. The caves lie just outside the city and are believed to have been excavated between the 2nd and the 6th century. They house the most stunningly intricate carvings. There are nine caves in all, most of them being the viharas. The 4th and the 7th cave are worth a dekko. The 4th cave stands well supported on 12 columns carved with scenes depicting the stories from the Jataka tales, whereas the 7th cave is embedded with carvings of women, adorned with jewels. The main attraction is the sculpture of a ‘Bodhisatva’ praying for deliverance.

Soneri Mahal, an old historic monument now converted into museum houses a variety of ancient Indian pottery, dresses, remains of local palaces and antiques of daily use. A number of sculptures and reliefs from the local excavations are also on display. It is located within Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University Campus and is on the way to Aurangabad caves.

History Museum – Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University also located on the University campus has on display a good number of ancient Indian paintings, coins, fabrics, arms, artifacts, etc. The museum collection is huge and has some fine sculptures from the excavation at Bhokardan, a nearby historic site.

Chatrapati Shivaji Museum – As the name suggests, this museum is dedicated to the great warrior of Maharashtra – Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. A number of exhibits associated with Lord Shivaji are on display. The museum is on the way to Ajanta caves from the city.

Lonar Crater

Lonar – This is site of a meteor which crashed on earth some 50,000 years ago and formed a large crater (few hundred meters in diameter) in the ground.

The Lake is the only crater in the great basaltic formation of India. Initial appreciation of the lake was, as of volcanic origin, but now it is recognized as an impact crater created by the hypervelocity impact of either a comet or a meteorite.

The presence of shatter cones, impact deformation of basalt layers comprising its rim, shocked breccia inside the crater, and non-volcanic ejecta blanket surrounding the crater are further proof of the impact origin of Lonar crater.

The chemical characteristics of the lake shows two distinct regions that don’t mix – an outer neutral (pH7) and an inner alkaline (pH11) each with its own flora and fauna. The lake is a haven to a wide range of plant and animal life. Resident and migratory birds such as black-winged stilts, brahminy ducks, grebes, shell-ducks (European migrants), shovellers, teals, herons, red-wattled lapwings, rollers or blue jays, baya weavers, parakeet hoopoes, larks, tailorbirds, magpies and robins and swallows are found on the lake. Among reptiles, the monitor lizard is reported to be prominent. The lake is also home to thousands of pea fowls, chinkara and gazelles.

Paithan is an ancient taluka town, which lies 56 km to the south of Aurangabad. This place is well known for the exquisite saris that it specialises in. It was a trade centre earlier and also the capital of the Satavahanas. MSSIDC (Maharashtra Small Scale Industrial Development Corporation) has a weaving centre where the traditional art is still practiced. It has formed a very important excavation site recently. Of the few attractions found nearby, the Jayakwadi dam is a treat to the eyes of the avid bird watchers. Next is the Dnyaneshwar Udyan, which is supposedly Maharashtra’s largest garden planned and landscaped on the lines of the Vrindavan gardens at Mysore.

Gautala Wildlife Sanctuary is a dense forest reserve, with rare flora and fauna, almost 70 Km. Northwest of Aurangabad. Home to leopards, bears, wolves, hyenas, jackals, flying squirrels and 85 different species of colourful birds.

Pitalkhora lies peacefully nestled in the Satmala ranges of the Sahyadris, at a distance of 78km from Aurangabad. There are 13 cave sanctuaries embedded in this region. These monasteries date back from 2nd century BC to 5th century AD. Rich carvings with elaborate details can be seen in these monuments. WARNING: The side road to reach Pitalkhora from the main Aurangabad road is in an extremely bad shape. Don’t go unless you have a SUV/Tata Sumo type of vehicle. The caves are reachable via a footbridge that is in a very bad shape. There is not much to see in the caves except for half-finished carvings.

Siddharth Garden is a beautiful landscaped garden, with good variety of trees and shrubs. There is a small aquarium inside the garden, however the biggest attraction is the Siddharth Garden Zoo, with a large variety of animals, viz. Lions, Tigers (White & Bengal), Leopards, Crocodiles, Snakes (Snake-house), Civet cats, Hyena, Fox, Porcupine, Emu, Deers and sprawling lawns to sit and have a great picnic.

Things to Buy:

  • The local, traditional and ethnic:
  • Himroo & Mishroo shawls,
  • Bedcovers
  • Paithani sarees

From:

  • Paithani Weaving Centre, New Aurangabad (opposite MGM CIDCO).
  • Aurangabad Himroo Industry, Zaffer Gate Mondha Road, ☎ 09890000220

(himroo@hotmail.com).

  • Traditional Indian Khaadi clothing
  • Pure honey,
  • Handicrafts and
  • Hand made artifacts and
  • Curios made in rural India

From:

  • Khaadi Gramodyog Bhandaar at Sarafa, near City Chowk.

The Khaadi cloth is hand woven from pure cotton and the outlet is the official outlet of Government Of India. The Palace of a local King, ‘Deulgaon Raja’ has now been converted into the Khaadi Gramodyog Bhandaar. The whole ambiance and the range of products truly evoke the concepts of Khaadi (Cloth made on a Charkha) & Gramodyog (Village based small scale industries) evolved during India’s Independence Struggle. The movement was started by Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Traditional Bidri Pottery and many more curios at small shops near Ajanta caves parking bay. (and Don’t you forget to bargain!!)

Visit the only organic food market in Aurangabad. Every Friday evening, locals flock to Shree Mangal Karyalaya near Kranti Chowk to buy fresh organic produce and to taste an assortment of organic honey, tea and other processed foods as part of the weekly shopping experience.

With a wide selection of fruits and vegetables, the Organic Bazaar is cheap, delicious, unique and definitely is worth a visit.

Also, visit the Organic Link – an organic food shop- open all seven days a week at Kailash Market opposite to Padampura fire station, Station Road – Aurangabad.

You can visit local bazaars Gul Mandi and Aurangpura’ for some essentials.

A number of Global retail brands have their company authorised showrooms in the city like:

  • Raymond – Adalat Road, Tilak Path, Aurangpura
  • Levi’s – Nirala Bazaar
  • Lee – Nirala Bazaar
  • Provogue – Nirala Bazaar
  • Wrangler – Nirala Bazaar
  • Adidas – Nirala Bazaar
  • Reebok – Nirala Bazaar, Mondha Naka
  • Excalibur – Nirala Bazaar
  • Spykar – Nirala Bazaar, Osmanpura
  • Pepe Jeans – Nirala Bazaar
  • Indigo Nation – Nirala Bazaar
  • Numero-Uno Jeans – Nirala Bazaar
  • Bombay Dyeing – Nirala Bazaar, Cannought Gardens
  • Homes & Apparels (H&A) – Nirala Bazaar
  • Kouttons – Aurangpura, Cannought Gardens
  • Samsonite Bags – Nirala Bazaar
  • United Colors of Benetton – Nirala Bazaar

Apart from these there are a number of Multi Brand Retail Outlets like:

  • Globus – CIDCO, Jalgaon Road
  • Cut – Nirala Bazaar
  • Big Bazar – Aakashwani
  • Chermas – CIDCO

A number of mid size to large retail outlets or supermarkets selling grocery, fresh vegetables and daily needs, stationary, basic accessories, etc. are dotted throughout the city. Few important of them being:

  • Big Bazar – Aakashwani, Jalna Road.
  • Spencer’s Retail – CIDCO, Samarth Nagar, Osmanpura, Ulkanagari.
  • Sapna Super Market – Ulkanagari, Aurangpura, Shahgunj.
  • Cannought Super Market – Cannought Gardens, Tilak Nagar.
  • More – Shahnoorwadi, CIDCO, Pundliknagar.
  • Along with these, there are a number of small time retail shops and grocery shops all around the city.

To Eat

Aurangabad has fairly good restaurants and eating joints spread across the town. Apart from the star category hotels there are many restaurants in the city.

Budget / Mid-range

  • Indian Vegetarian(a-la-carte)
  • Indian Vegetarian(Thaali Meals) ‘Thaali’ in Marathi & Hindi means a complete meal. Thaali meals consis of Assorted Indian breads, Rice varieties, 2 or 3 vegetables, Munchins, Dals, Kadhi, Tradtional cold drinks, Indian Desserts, etc.
  • Indian Non-Vegetarian
  • Smile – Nirala Bazaar
  • Laadli – Jalna Road
  • Madhu’s – Adalat Road
  • Mrignayani – Sootgirni
  • Thaat-Baat,Off Adalat Road serves a similar kind of Thaali in traditional Indian Silver pottery. The Thaali is a good deal.
  • Naivedya on Jalna Road, is also a good and reputed Thaali restaurant near the Aurangabad Airport and is an ideal place for people visiting or staying around Airport Road.
  • Bhoj, Near Varad Ganesh Mandir is one of the oldest Thaali restaurants in the city. The contents keep on changing daily. The Thaali is neither spicy nor very oily. Recommended and worth a visit even for foreigners visiting the city.
  • Indrali at Aurangpura is a good budget Thaali restaurant.
  • Swad at Osmanpura is another good Thaali restaurant.
  • City Spice – Cannought Gardens (Restaurant & Fluid Lounge)
  • Gharonda – Nirala Bazaar (Bar & Restaurant)
  • Hotel Janaki – Surana Nagar, Jalna Road (Non veg multi-cuisine)
  • Angeethi – Seven Hills, Jalna Road (Bar & Restaurant)
  • Riviera – Seven Hills, Jalna Road (Bar & Restaurant)
  • Atithi-Rooftop – Seven Hills, Jalna Road (Bar & Restaurant)
  • Kohinoor Plaza – Nirala Bazaar (Bar & Restaurant)
  • Amarpreet – Jalna Road (Bar & Restaurant)

Non Vegeterian Dhabas (Garden Restaurants & Bars) on outskirts of the city These are Open air/ semi open restaurants on outskirts of the city. They serve good food and liquor. Being a bit far from town they make ideal getaway for families.

  • Fauji Dhaba – Nasik Road
  • Ambiance Dhaba – Nasik Road
  • Tinu’s Dhaba – Nasik Road
  • Master Cook – Beed Highway NH-211
  • Madhuban – Beed Highway NH-211
  • Garden Court – Beed Highway NH-211
  • Pizza, Coffee, Breakfast, Snacks, Savories, Pastries, etc.
  • Hookka lounges
  • Domino’s Pizza – City Pride, Opp Gurudwara Gate, Mondha Naka, Jalna Road – is the outlet of the world’s no.1 pizza chain.
  • Smokin Joe’s – Nirala Bazaar is a pizza chain serving good veg and non-veg pizzas.
  • Korn Klub – Nirala Bazaar serves a large variety of tasty corn products.
  • Cafe Coffee Day – Nirala Bazaar and Jalna Road are the outlets of India’s largest coffee chain serving variety of coffees and soft drinks along with savories and pastries.
  • Kream & Krunch – Opposite Aurangpura AMT Bus Stop and at Aakashwani – Jalna Road,Opp to Big bazaar serves excellent non veg & veg sandwiches, savories, pastries, soft drinks, etc. One of the best place for non-veg savories in the city.
  • Baker’s Lounge at Osmanpura and CIDCO (opposite Lemontree Hotel)serves mouth watering pastries, cakes (best in town) and excellent veg savories in an elegant contemporary decor.
  • Fast Food Center(Veg) – Nirala Bazaar serves good burgers, sandwiches, savories.
  • Smile, Nirala Bazaar and Laadli, Jalna Road serve good south Indian vegetarian snacks.
  • Cafe Cofee Break at Nirala Bazaar and Cannought Gardens, CIDCO serve good coffees, cold drinks and veg savories at an affordable price.
  • Cafe Coffee Day – at Nirala Bazaar and at CIDCO opposite to Sakaal Newspaper office. You will enjoy various diffrent varieties of coffees.
  • Chimney – Off Jalna Road, Near 7 Hills flyover.
  • City Spice – Cannought Gardens, CIDCO.

Splurge (Multi-cuisine / Specialty)

  • Residency(Restaurant at Taj) at Ruza Buag, Harsool Road serves excellent Indian, Chinese & Continental food in traditional Mughal decor and cozy ambiance.
  • Society (Restaurant at the Ambassador Ajanta) on Jalna Road evokes the memory of Diwan – E -Aam that was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar at Fatehpur Sikri. This recently renovated multi – cuisine restaurant serves Indian, Chinese and Continental food.
  • Restaurant at Rama International on Jalna Road serves good multi-cuisine varieties.
  • Relish (Restaurant at the Windsor Castle) Jalgaon Road, CIDCO – Feast on Chinese, continental and Indian culinary delights at Relish Restaurant.

Road side eateries

Caution:

Don’t drink water from outside other than Mineral Water. Foreigners wanting to try the food from road-side eateries must make sure that it is hot, prepared in front of them and must resist from having the
non-vegetarian road-side eatables, sauces (chutneys), juices, ice-candies, etc; however tempting may they look! Drinking regular water on streets is strict no-no.

There are a number of good road side eateries in the city. Apart from being cheep, they serve hot and tasty food provided you are used to deep fried and medium spicy Indian junk food. Drinking water should be avoided at such places.

  • Gayatri Chaat Bhandaar at Kranti Chowk and Gulmandi are the oldest road side eateries in town. They serve excellent deep fried snacks like Kachoris, Samosas and Bhajjiyas hot and fresh prepared in front of you on a ‘Chulha’ (clay oven). The places open at 6:30 PM.
  • Bikaner Bhujiyawalla at Kranti Chowk has snacks counter serving hot & fresh Kachoris, Samosas, Bhajjiyas and Dhoklas.
  • Omkar Pav Bhaji at Kranti Chowk serves good Paav Bhaji. Pav Bhaji originated at Bombay as a quick nourishing meal consisting of Indian bread and mashed & Stir fried mixed vegetables with a dash of butter.
  • A number of road side eateries serve good Indian grilled chicken varieties like Chicken Tikka, Tandoori, Kebabs, etc. at Cannought Gardens, CIDCO. The places usually open at around 8:00 PM and are open till midnight.
  • Vada Paav a traditional Marathi snack, a Maharashtrian version of burger is available at a number of places in town. The Vada Paav at almost all locations is fairly good. But do insist on a hot Vada Paav.
  • Pan (Tradition of Aurangabad, a must have!!)

Pan at Tara Pan Centre, Osmanpura is a must have. If you feel how can a ‘Pan’ be so special then you have to feel a variety of mouth melting Pans with exquisite presentation at this joint. You will not have a Pan like this anywhere in India.

To Drink:

Although Aurangabad is not a very Alcohol friendly place, there are a number of good bars in the city. Usually All good hotels have in-house bar facilities. Some good places to enjoy a drink in Aurangabad are:

Mid-range

  • Bubbles – Near Cannought Gardens, CIDCO
  • City Spice – Restaurant & Fluid Lounge – Cannought Gardens, CIDCO
  • Angeethi – Seven Hills, Jalna Road
  • Gharonda – Nirala Bazaar
  • Kohinoor Plaza – Nirala Bazaar
  • Atithi-Rooftop – Seven Hills, Jalna Road

Splurge

  • Garden Bar (Taj Residency) – Rauza Baug, Harsool Road is a semi-open bar in a sprawling campus of the Taj Residency inspired by Mughal Architecture.
  • The Garbah Bar(The Ambassador Ajanta)The Ambience of Gujarat finds a faithful echo in an inviting appeal in this lovely bar.
  • Slounge (Lemon Tree)- Airport Road, Aurangabad is a contemporary lounge & bar with young and cozy decor along with play-station facilities.

Place to Stay:

Since Aurangabad is a tourist place, the city has a number of good hotels from all the budget categories suiting the needs of all tourists visiting the city. The budget hotels are located near the Aurangabad Railway Station and City Center, The mid range hotels have been distributed over the city and the 5 star & 4 star hotels are located near the Chikalthana Airport.

Budget < 1500 INR

Near Aurangabad Airport

http://www.lemontreehotels.com/lemon-tree-hotel-aurangabad-58/home-page-aurangabad.aspx

  • Hotel Manasi – Jalna Road, CIDCO, New Aurangabad
  • Hotel Sahyadri – Near new High Court, Jalna Road, Aurangabad
  • Hotel Heritage Palace – Opposite ‘Sakal Papers’, Jalna Road, CIDCO, New Aurangabad
  • Near Aurangabad Railway Station
  • Hotel Classic – Near Goldie Cinema, Station Road, Aurangabad
  • MTDC Holiday Resort (Government Owned & Opetated) – Station Road, Aurangabad
  • Hotel Great Punjab – Station Road, Aurangabad

Near Aurangabad Central Bus Stand (CBS), Private Bus Stand & the City Center

There is a Air-conditioned Dormitory for Rs.150 per head. Locker is free.

  • Hotel Kohinoor Plaza – Nirala Bazaar, Samarth Nagar, Aurangabad
  • Hotel Raviraj – Adalat Road, Aurangabad
  • Hotel Girnar – Near LIC, Adalat Road, Aurangabad
  • Hotel Amardeep – Adalat Road, Aurangabad

Outskirts of Aurangabad

  • Aurangabad Sports Club (A.S. Club) – Nagar Road, Aurangabad

Mid Range 1500 INR to 3000 INR

Near Aurangabad Airport

  • Near Aurangabad Railway Station
  • Outskirts of Aurangabad

Splurge > 3000 INR

Near Aurangabad Airport

http://www.tajhotels.com/Business/Taj%20Residency,AURANGABAD/default.htm

  • The Ambassador Ajanta – Jalna Road, CIDCO, New Aurangabad

http://www.ambassadorindia.com/aurangabad.asp

  • Hotel Rama International – Opp. New High Court, Jalna Road, Aurangabad

http://www.welcomhotelrama.com/default.aspx

  • Aurangabad Gymkhana Club – Jalna Road, CIDCO, New Aurangabad
  • Hotel Windsor Castle – Near CIDCO Bus Stataion, Jalgaon Road, New Aurangabad

http://www.hotelwindsorcastle.com/

Phone

Aurangabad international dialling code – +91-240-xxxxxxx (Dialling from anywhere in the world except India), 0240-xxxxxxx (Dialling from anywhere in India).

Internet

A large number of internet cafes are available across the city. The surfing charges per hour vary from INR-20 to INR-35. A few of the good Internet cafes are:

  • Internet Browsing Hub, Railway Station, Aurangabad
  • Cyber Mall – Samarth Nagar, Aurangabad
  • Sify I-Way, Nirala Bazaar, Aurangabad
  • Sify I-Way, Osmanpura, Aurangabad
  • Shradha Net Cafe, N-2,Thakare nagar, CIDCO, Aurangabad
  • Priya Net Cafe- N-12,Hudco Aurangabad
  • Log In- Nirala Bazar, Khatod Complex, Aurangabad

Generally Aurangabad is a fairly safe place.

Walking on the streets up to 9:00 PM is usually safe for women but avoid going into small lanes and by-lanes after it is dark and make sure that you are not wearing any jewelry while walking on the streets. The people in city are by and large decent with the international and domestic tourists. Ladies should be careful while traveling alone late at night after 10:00 PM.

The local buses (AMT & MSRTC) are very safe for women even at late night. If a lady is traveling alone on an overnight bus from Aurangabad usually the seat next to her is given only to a lady traveler as a courtesy but make sure to request for a ‘ladies-seat‘ while making your bookings.

Caution: Women are not recommended to take lifts from private vehicles at any time of the day. Do not display wads of INR-500 and INR-1000 currency notes in public you might attract pick-pockets who usually frequent crowded locations like Railway Stations, Bus Stations, Bazaars etc.

Violent crime in Aurangabad is very low though not negligible. Please have the following numbers with you all the time. They can be dialed from any mobile or fixed line phone.

  • Police – 100
  • Fire – 101
  • Ambulance – 102, (+91-240)-2473301, (+91-240)-2473302
Posted by: getaway2india | February 17, 2010

Kochi – Queen of the Arabian Sea

Kochi – Queen of the Arabian Sea

Kochi (earlier known as Cochin) is a cosmopolitan city in Kerala with a bustling commercial port. Kochi is known as the financial capital of Kerala and it is the biggest urban agglomeration in Kerala.

The city of Kochi is separated into numerous distinct areas particularly close to each other. These include the mainland areas of Ernakulam City (where the train stations to the rest of India leave and arrive), Willingdon Island, Fort Kochi (the primary tourist enclave), Mattancherry, Kumbalangi and outlying islands. These distinct neighborhoods arose as the result of a mixed past.

Kochi Fort Street

Kochi merchants began trading in spices such as black pepper and cardamom with the Arabs, the Dutch, Phoenicians, Portuguese, and Chinese more than 600 years ago.

Marine Drive, Cochin

Kochi has a lot of remnants from the past still clinging on. Although on the first look Kochi seems a small town it has a lot to offer ….its religious diversity could mesmerize you….it has a major centre for some of the biggest religions of the world….from Christianity, to Jews, to Muslims to Hindus, etc. It also has a small Ango-Indian population, along with a small Jewish population; you could also find Marathis and Jains who have settled here from generations together. The town has a higher proportion of Christians.

The soothing Backwaters of Kerala!

The famous landmark of Kochi is a row of Chinese fishing nets at the mouth of the harbor leading to the Arabian Sea in Fort Kochi, the oldest part of the city. These Chinese nets were apparently first erected by traders from Kublai Khan’s China about seven hundred years ago, and have been here ever since. Now the shape of the old fishing nets is used as a symbol for the town. In Ernakulam, the latest in skyscrapers and modern shopping can be found, while the old quarter — the Fort Kochi area and Mattancherry area — maintains a colonial air, has a very quiet and laidback atmosphere and has friendly people . Also around Kochi a lot of very good Home-stays have mushroomed. This makes Kochi one of the best places to travel.

Ernakulam

Kochi is comparatively much cleaner and quieter than many other Indian tourist places. Kochi is one of the largest towns in Kerala, (Kerala means Coconut Land). There are coconut trees everywhere and the people here use every part – the wood is hard and is used to make furniture, the coir of the nuts makes mats etc, the coconut meat is eaten, the milk is widely used in Keralan cuisine (this was a bit of luck for the Jewish community, who aren’t supposed to eat ordinary milk with meat…lol) and the leaves are used as the plates.

The Backwaters of Kerala boasts of hundreds of islands, some even uninhabited. A famous island is that of Bolghatty (local name Mulavukad) where the Dutch built a palace. This palace was later used as house of the British Resident administrator. Right now the Dutch Palace is a tourist hotel, and you are welcome to live there as guest.


Caution:

The whole state of Kerala banned smoking in the street in 2003 since, you can still smoke in bars and restaurants though, which is the complete opposite of the smoking bans in Europe, it’s very odd. If the police catch you, you get an on the spot fine, You can break this ridiculous law …at your own risk J .

Climate

Rainy season is from June to September. Temperature 22-34° C depending on season. Use mosquito repellent cream while traveling during night, and consider a mosquito net for sleeping.

Best SeasonDecember-January- February later on its gets a little hot and humid.

Getting in

By Air

Cochin International Airport is in Nedumbassery 29 km from the city. There are flights to and from Colombo, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Sharjah, Salalah, Jeddah, Muscat, Riyadh, Doha, Dammam, Al Ain, Manama, Kuwait, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Calicut, Coimbatore, Lakshadweep, Mangalore, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Take a pre-paid taxi to your destination. The state transport corporation (KSRTC)is operating coaches to the city as well.

Trivandrum International Airport is around 220 km from Kochi, and from there you can travel to Kochi by road/rail. It is 5-6 hour journey.

By Rail

You can reach Kochi from other cities Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Coimbatore, Kozhikode (Calicut), Chennai, Bangalore, Bombay, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata by train.

There are two major Rail station in Kochi (Ernakulam Town and Ernakulam Junction, locally known as “North” and “South” railway stations). The Indian Railways serves Kochi with a number of train services connecting it to other parts of the state and the country.

Konkan Railway View

If you are travelling from Mumbai or Goa then one of the best ways to get to Kochi is to take the Konkan Railway train from Mumbai that passes through the Konkan coast. The train ride is renowned for the breathtaking scenery and the natural beauty of the terrain that the train passes through. Also if you are getting out of Kochi to Goa or Mumbai Konkan Railway is the best route. Mumbai to Kochi is about 25 hrs a distance of about 1,400 kms, while Goa to Kochi is about half of that.

Konkan Railway Bridge

By Bus

Kochi is accessible from all parts of the state of Kerala, through the extensive state run Kerala Road Transport Corporation (K.S.R.T.C.) bus service. These buses are generally cheap and reliable, but the drivers are notoriously reckless, although they have excellent control over their vehicles. There buses are classified as Ordinary Passenger, Limited Stop, Fast Passenger, Super Fast Passenger, Lightning Express and Garuda. The last is an air-conditioned service operating on the Thiruvananthapuram-Coimbatore and Thiruvananthapuram-Calicut routes, both passing through Kochi. Garuda buses are modern buses and compare with buses in Europe, with well-maintained interiors and comfortable seats.

Volvo Buses

There are also numerous private buses or ‘route buses’ that connect pretty much every single district in Kerala to Kochi. Both the K.S.R.T.C and the private buses offer very basic comforts and are rarely air conditioned.

There also exists daily services to and from other major cities in South India including Mumbai, Bangalore(12 hrs), Mangalore (12 hrs), Coimbatore (4.5 hrs) and Chennai (14 hrs). These are run by both private operators and by the respective State Transport Authorities. The private buses offer better comfort, are cleaner and more modern, and are more expensive. A ticket on a private operator-run bus, especially an A/C Volvo bus, is costlier than a 3-AC train ticket.

Kochi has an excellent and cheap local bus service system, operated by private bus operators. The numbering system is rarely used although it appears to exist. The buses are red in color, and though they may vary in appearance, they still can be distinguished as city bus services.

KSRTC AC Bus

Destination boards display signs prominently in Malayalam and in small letters the English version. Using the local bus service is not that difficult as most bus conductors would be able to provide assistance with basic knowledge of English or Hindi or even Tamil. Remember however that peak hours on weekdays can lead to overcrowded buses. That is not the best time to use these buses, like in any busy city.

As with most parts of Kerala, the main language of Kochi is Malayalam … may be the only language in the world which, when spelled in English, spelled the same backwards as forwards. A palindrome! However, most educated people will be able to speak Hindi and English. Knowledge of English would be sufficient to get around as most people you will meet will be able to communicate in English.

Caution

Travelers must remember that a certain number of seats are allocated for ladies in the forward portion of each bus. Unless these seats are empty, gentlemen are not expected to occupy them, and they must be vacated when a lady wishes to sit there. The standard precautions of being wary of pickpockets and other anti-social elements must be maintained.

City Bus

Orange Bus Route

Yellow Bus Route

Ferry Service

Kochi map

Several important points serviced by Kochi’s city bus service include:

  • Fort Kochi, Thoppumpady, Edakochi, Mattancherry, Island (Willingdon Island), Thevara, Kaloor, Palarivattom, Kakkanad, Kalamassery, Edapalli,North Paravur, Alwaye, Tripunithura, and Vytilla Jn.

Many key routes that pass through the city (from Alwaye/Kakkanad etc to Fort Kochi/Thevara Jn etc) will have the following route/stops

  • Kaloor (interchange for Long Distance Private Bus Services for Kottayam, Palai, Changanacheri, Mundakayam, Erumeli, Pathanamthitha etc.& night services towards Calicut, Kannur, Wayanad) Lissie Jn (Some Private Long Distance Luxury Bus Operators)
  • Town Hall (Closest point to Ernakulam Town (North) Station)
  • Kacheripady Jn (KSRTC State Transport Bus Stand – 1 km away & MG Road Start)
  • High Court (KSINC Boat Jetty for Ferry to Vypeen, Mulavukad, Panambukadu, Ochanthurth, Murikkumpadam & Bolghatty, Long Distance Private Bus Services to Guruvayoor, Thrissur, Calicut, Irinjalakuda, Kodungallur, North Paravur )Private ordinary Bus Services to Vypeen, Cherai Beach, Munabam, North Paravur, Kodungallur via Goshree Bridges
  • Marine Drive (GCDA Complex)
  • Main Boat Jetty (Boat Jetty for Ferry to Vypeen, Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Willingdon Island, Vallarpadam, Varapuzha, Perubalam, Karthedom, Mulavukad) Also KSRTC’s ordinary limited stop buses to North Paravur, Kodungallur, Guruvayoor, Thrissur, Calicut starts from here.
  • Shenoys/YMCA (Some services only & services towards Kaloor) – (Closest point to KSRTC State Transport Stand – 0.5 km)
  • Jos Junction – Virtual Centre of Ernakulam (Alighting Point for Ernakulam Jn (South) – 0.5 km, Private Bus Operators to Thekkady/Kumily, Munnar, Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam, Idukki and Private Long Distance Luxury Bus Operators – To Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Mangalore Coimbatore etc.)
  • Ravipuram – Main Business & Commercial Area. Buses for Thevara, Edakochi, Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Thoppumpady & W. Island Pass through here.
  • Thevara Jn
  • Island (Old Airport)
  • Thoppumpady
  • Mattancherry
  • Fort Kochi

Buses from/to Tripunithura/Vytilla Jn will deviate after Jos Junction to pass through:

  • Kadavanthara
  • Vytilla Jn.
  • Tripunithura

Buses from/to Alwaye follow the following broad route Kaloor Jn., Edapalli, Kalamassery, Alwaye

Buses from/to North Paravur follow the following broad route Kaloor Jn., Edapalli, Varapuzha, North Paravur

Buses from/to Kakkanad follow the following broad route Kaloor Jn., Palarivattom Jn., Palarivattom Bye Pass, Chembukmukku, Padamugal, and Kakkanad

Some services may operate directly between Alwaye, Edapalli, Kakkanad and Vytilla Jn using the Bypass Road via Palarivattom Bye Pass.

By Private Car

Most taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers will be more than happy to offer you either a daily rate or an hourly rate, and take you around wherever you need to go. Alternately, your hotel or a travel company can arrange a private car.

If you find a good taxi or auto driver, this can be a great way to go for a foreigner. You’ll certainly pay a lot more than if you bought individual rides, but you’ll always have a driver waiting for you, and he can help with recommending local tourist sites, finding a good restaurant to eat at, and otherwise coping with day-to-day life. This can take a lot of the stress out of traveling.

Rates are generally something like Rs. 50 to 100 per hour for an auto-rickshaw, and Rs 150 to 250 per hour for a taxi. Rates for a private car booked via the hotel will probably be more. Like everything else in India, rates are very fluid.

By Taxi

The taxis in Kochi are very convenient and comfortable. Most of the vehicles are Tata Indica cars or Ambassador cars, which are much safer than Auto rickshaws, and the drivers are polite. If you are alone or going to an unknown destination, you are strongly advised to choose this option, even though the rates will be double that of an auto.

Unlike most Western countries, taxis are not usually marked with ‘TAXI’ signs on the top. In fact, you must Phone for a taxi, as it is nearly impossible to hail one unless you are at a major point like the airport. When you call, you should negotiate a fare (or agree on using the meter) and get the taxi’s ‘number’. The taxi will come pick you up, and call you when they are close. When you go out on the street, look at the license plate for the number they gave you — it will be the last four digits of the license plate. Taxis are generally white in color and have yellow license plates with black letters.

Although it can be hard for Westerners to realize at first, this process is very effective. If in doubt, ask a member of your hotel staff to help you, and when your taxi comes be sure to tip the helpful staff member Rs. 10 or 15 for the assistance.

By Auto Rickshaw

This is the cheapest way of transport between attractions. You can find an auto stand at almost every bus stop. This is the ideal way to cover short distances. Make sure you agree on a fare with the driver before the journey because almost none of the auto rickshaws have working meters. Although most are honest beware of the odd auto rickshaw driver who would charge extra if they know you are tourists. One easy solution is to approach pre-paid auto stands (they are available only in railway station) if you are coming through the Rail.

The auto rickshaw drivers here tend to personalize their autos by naming them after their favorite god or saint. So you can see St Francis Xavier and St Joseph and Ganesh and Shiva driving about. Another popular name for rickshaws here is Ferrari J

Fort Cochin Boat Jetty

By Ferry

There are also good ferry services between islands.

A useful service is the ‘Junkar’ between Fort Kochi and Vypeen. There are regular boat services, every 20-30 minutes, from Ernakulam to Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, Vypeen and Willingdon Island which are much cheaper than the buses. This ferry service is also faster also in many cases because a bus or taxi has to travel longer & through crowded routes. E.g. if you are somewhere near M.G. Road and travelling to Willingdon Island or Mattancherry, it will be cheaper & faster to catch the ferry from Ernakulam Main boat jetty.

By Boat

Kochi can be reached by sea in yachts or by occasional cruise ship from Goa or Bombay.

Get around

Cycle

Its also a good idea to use a bicycle or motorbike to move around in Fort Kochi….but beware of the reckless Bus Drivers. But if one is used to cycle in a City the one would know how to keep out of harms way.

To See

Hill Palace Museum – The erstwhile Kochi Raja’s palace, now converted to a museum along with a small zoo, is 12 Km south-east of Ernakulam at Tripunithura. Has paintings and epigraphy from the collections of the Travancore & Kochi royal families.

Hill Palace

Cochin Royal Crown – The biggest highlight of Hill Palace, is the display of Royal Crown, crafted in pure gold weighting 1.75 kg with 1,200 diamonds and 2,000 other precious stones. It was gifted by Portuguese to Veera Kerala Varma on his coronation day, which was regarded too extravagant for the Kochi Rajas, who were known for their simple lifestyle. This became a famous tradition that no Kochi Maharajas ever wore this crown, only to keep it on his lap as a testimony of their humbleness and simplicity. Nearly ten golden crowns were gifted to the Rajas by various colonial powers like Dutch, English, Chinese, Arabs etc which were never worn by the Maharajas.

Museum of Kerala History – at Edapalli, 10km. north of the city Pareekshith Thampuran Museum contains oil paintings, old coins, sculptures and Mughal paintings, and models of interesting temples and traditional Kerala buildings.

Chinese Fishing Nets

Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi


Fort Kochi

Mattancherry There is a beautiful Jain temple here. It is great to visit at about 12:15hrs when the pigeons are feed by Jain mandir people, which they have been doing for the past 17 years. A huge number of pigeons first take three circles of the temple and listen to mantra before eating.

Bolghatty Palace

Bolghatty – built in 1744 as Dutch Palace; one of the KTDC Hotels with green lawns and Golf Course.

Mattancherry Palace also called the Dutch Palace

Dutch Palace – constructed by the Portuguese in 1568 for Maharaja of Kochi Veera Kerala Varma. Later rebuilt by the Dutch. The rooms on the upper level of the palace can be reached through a flight of stairs located on the south of the entrance. The palace has a central courtyard that is typical of Kerala architectural style. This central courtyard is known as “Nalukettus”. A small temple is located inside the inner court that is dedicated to Goddess Pazhayannur Bhagavati, who is supposed to be the protector of the royal family of Kochi. There are temples dedicated to Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva on either sides of the palace. The interior of the palace is decorated beautifully with royal possessions like ceremonial robes, headgear, weapons, palanquins and royal furniture. There are stunning murals depicting scenes from the Puranas, Ramayana and Mahabharata adorning the walls of the palace.

The royal bedchamber known as “Palliyara” is located at the left of the entrance. It is famous for its low wooden ceiling and the walls that are covered with some 48 paintings depicting the Ramayana. These paintings date back to the 16th century and are preserved with much care till date. There are also paintings depicting “Krishna Lila” 🙂  and other instances from the life of Lord Krishna. One can also see paintings that depict the famous works of literary geniuses like Kalidasa.

Note the Nalu-Kettu Roof that provides natural Airconditioning

Willingdon Island – A large artificial island made out of sand dredged from the backwaters to deepen the Kochi Port.

Vypeen and Gundu Islands – The Island boasts a lighthouse at Ochanthurth, beaches and the early 16th century. At Vypeen there are a lot of fish, crabs, lobsters, shrimps breeding farms.

Pallipuram_fort_plan

Pallipuram Fort – built by the Portuguese in 1503, one of the oldest existing European monuments in India. It is situated in Vypeen Island at Pallipuram.

Pallipuram Fort

Pallipuram Fort

This hexagonal building, Pallipuram Fort,  is the oldest existant European monument in India. It was constructed by the Portuguese in 1503. It is popularly known as Ayakkotta or Alikkotta. In 1663 the Portuguese surrendered it to the Dutch. About 1789, through the strategic diplomacy of Raja Kesava Dasan, the able Devan of the Raja of Travancore, the Fort was purchased by the Travancore from the Dutch. From 1964 it is a protected monument of the Kerala state department of archaeology.

St Francis Church

St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi – constructed by the Portuguese in 1503. Vasco da Gama was buried here [1524] and later his remains were transferred to Lisbon, Portugal. His tombstone can be seen inside the church. Still has fans of previous eras….long planks which are swayed to and fro by a single person…to create breeze.

St. Francis Assisi Church

St. Francis Assisi church popularly known as Naduvileppalli, the most beautiful and old church in Ernakulam city, the blend of Portuguese and Kerala style of architecture. The unique feature churches’ roof is that the entire hyperbolic parabloid shell roof rests only on the centre pillars on the either sides. It has completed 179th year existence….Hundreds of people come here at odd times to sit in the quiteness of the church to commune with god.

Jewish Synagog

Jew Street and Synagogue – at Mattancherry, the synagogue was constructed in 1568 and rebuilt in 1662.

Santa Cruze Basilica

Santacruz Cathedral, Fort Kochi – The biggest Church in Fort Kochi

Marine Drive Cochin

Marine Drive Cochin

Art Complex – Madhavan Nayar Foundation – Gallery of Paintings and Sculptures at Edappally, 10 km. north of city. (There is the Kerala History Museum, history students take note!)

Vallarpadam Church

Vallarpadam Church

The Basilica of Our Lady of Vallarpadam adds another landmark to its growing reputation with the completion of 20 stations that will depict the 20 mysteries of the rosary. The 20 stations will features the mysteries that are celebrated by Catholics all over the world. These include the Joyous Glorious, Sorrowful Mysteries and the Mysteries of Light that were added to the original by Pope John Paul II. The Vallarpadam Church, which was already a national pilgrim centre, was raised to the status of a Basilica on the basis of a request submitted by Archbishop Daniel Acharuparampil of Varappuzha in December 2003.The Vallarpadam church was bestowed a special status by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. In 1951, it was declared a pilgrim centre.

Thrikkakara Temple

Thrikkakara Temple, Thrikkakara is a temple devoted to the Hindu deity Vamana. Thrikkakara temple is a major centre for celebration of the festival Onam that is celebrated in great pomp and colour throughout Kerala. Get here during Onam time and you can catch the famous 10-day festival at the temple, peppered with performances of Kerala’s traditional arts and ending with an Onam feast on the last day.

Tirumala Devaswom Temple - the 2ndlargest brass bell in Asia!

Thirumala Devaswom Temple, at Mattancherry. A temple built by the Gowda Sarawatha Brahmins, Lord Venkateswara the main deity, famous for second-largest brass bell in Asia. The North Gopuram is fully roofed with copper. Gosripuram Cochin Tirumala Devaswom is the biggest and most important socio-religious institution of Gowda Saraswat Brahmins of Kerala. The temple is situated at Cherlai in the heart of Mattancherry town in Cochin area which is one of the earliest settlements of GSBs in Kerala. The temple was established in the later half of 16th century.

Ernakulam Siva Temple – situated at the centre of the town, near the Durbar Hall Ground.

Durbar Hall Ground – venue of many fairs during festivals

Mangalavanam-” The green lung of Kochi city”

The ecologically sensitive Magalavanam is safely tucked away behind the Ernakulam High Court. This evergreen forest land in the heart of Kochi is a green oasis for many migratory birds as a nesting ground. Visitors to Mangalavanam are captivated by the sheer variety of migratory birds that have nested atop the huge trees.

Get a little closer and the birds fly away, leaving behind the eggs and newborns at the mercy of crows and kites. These birds are sensitive to the presence of human beings.

Mangalavanam is the only existing green lung in Kochi city, offering a nesting ground for a vast variety of migratory birds and supporting many varieties of mangroves. As a source of oxygen, the rare eco-system in the heart of Kochi city, Mangalavanam has been keeping pollution under check. Thus, it supports to become rich resource for eco-tourism.

Kalady

Kalady

Birth place of Sri Shankaracharya (Adi Shankara) [786-820], great Indian philosopher and founder of the Advaita philosophy. Shrines of Shankaracharya here are open to all pilgrims, irrespective of religion or caste. It is situated 48km north of the city. The temple also encloses the samadhi of Sankaracharya’s mother Aryamba. The location on the bank of the river where the young Sankara was held by a crocodile can be seen nearby. The Ramakrishna Advaita ashrama adjoining the Sri Krishna temple nearby has a beautiful shrine modelled on the Sri Ramakrihna temple at Belur Math. The 8-storey Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthambam is a monument that tells Sankaracharya’s story in paintings on the wall as one ascends the structure along a spiral staiway. The view from the top is breathtaking.

Kanjiramattom Mosque

Kanjiramattam Mosque – Muslim pilgrim center, venue of Kudikkuthu Festival, 30km east of the city

Chendamangalam – Historically the seat of Paliath Achan, the Prime Minister of Kochi Kingdom, old Oriental Jewish synagogue and colony. Now a centre for handloom weaving and coir manufacturing, view of annual fair “Mattachanda” (Barter Systems). It is 42km north-west of city near North Paravur.

Aluva – (called “Alwaye” till a few years ago), is a town on the way from the international airport to Kochi, has some places of interest – Sree Narayana Guru’s Advaita Ashram and the erstwhile Travancore King’s Palace,

Travancore King's Palace

Location: Adjacent to Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple at East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram.Visiting hours: (Open 0830 – 1300 hrs, 1500 – 1730 hrs. Closed on Mondays)The palace was built by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma – the King of Travancore, who was a great poet, musician, social reformer and statesman. This rare specimen of workmanship in the traditional Travancore style of architecture has exquisite wood carvings. The palace museum displays paintings and various priceless collections of the royal family and is located near the Padmanabha Swamy Temple.

Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 10 Children: Rs. 3 Foreigners: Rs. 20 Camera permit (outside): Rs. 15 Video: Rs. 500. Ph: 2473952

Aluva Manalpuram – is famous for the Shivarathri festival on the sandy banks of the Periyar river. A Siva temple is located along the banks too.

 

Malayattoor Church

Malayattoor Mount – A Christian pilgrimage centre, supposed to be a place visited by St. Thomas. (St. Thomas visited Kerala in AD 52. Would it be surprising to learn that Christianity reached India much before it reached Europe? The good old church erected at the top of the mount is believed to have attacked by the Wild elephants as shows the marks on the walls. Today this old church is called Anakutthiyapalli ( Church attacked by elephants).

Cherai Beach – near North Paravur is a new-generation tourist hot-spot with golden beaches (with big sand grains, like those of river sand used in construction, probably deposited by the Periyar river at some point in time), coconut palm corridors, backwaters, and historical monuments. You can reach Cherai Beach by bus, auto rickshaw, etc., from Ernakulam town though bus is a lot cheaper. Frequent buses are available from High Court that go through Goshree bridges and Vypeen Island.

Things to Do

  • Ayurveda Massage/Treatment….it’s a must….Fort Ayurveda, 2/6A Calvathy Road (next to Coast Guard). Experience rejuvenating Ayurvedic treatments at Fort Ayurveda, an undertaking of Fort House Hotel in association with Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Group. Authentic, clean and in a fine setting.  The massages are done Girl on Girl and Guy on Guy. If not insist on it. Do the massage, bath and sleep under the sun to get a good tan J!
  • Ride the Backwaters

The “backwaters” of Kerala are interconnected lakes and rivers and canals which run mostly parallel to the Arabian sea along the Keralan coastline. Go boating on the Kochi backwaters, (at Marine Drive). It is very soothing and relaxing. Get a feel of the backwaters at Kochi .Be sure to check the Safety Measures In the boat.

  • Stay on a House Boat in Alleppey
  • Watch the Chinese Fishing Nets in action:

It’s a lovely sight to see a team of 3 to 10 people coordinating to lift and lower the giant crane-like nets manually….each guy with rippling shoulder muscles ….it’s even more excellent to see when they get a huge catch.

  • Buy and Cook Fish:

Along the harbour there are the Chinese fishing nets, (which were brought here long back by the court of Kublai Khan),  in which one could buy some of the days catch and they would cook it for you, that’s what you call “freshest” fish. 1kg (about 20) tiger prawns costs Rs 200 (Yr 2009). Wait for when the Nets are operational. That’s the time you get them the freshest…J!!

  • Watch Kathakali  Dance –  6PM to 8PM Daily.

Kalathil Parambil House Kathakali Parambil Crossroad Second Left from Govt. Girls High School on Chitoor-Valanjambalam road Ernakulam South Kochi 682016, Ph: 0484-2376471/72 or 9846140691. Located in heart of Kochi city, this theatre now functions from the 160 year old Vakke Bungalow of Kathakali Parambil House situated in Kalathil Parambil Crossroad which is very near South Railway Station (Ernakulam Junction).

Holds regular evening performances starting from 06:00PM, guests can watch the elaborate Make up performance with explanation followed by a detailed demonstration and narration of Kathakali styles, history etc.

This is followed by an hour long presentation of Kathakali dance ending at 8:00PM with a brief open house for an intellectual discussion on Kathakali matters. Special shows with more dancers and non-traditional stories in other timings can be arranged in the theatre. Likewise special outdoor shows are also performed for various events, corporate get-togethers, and social functions as well as on shows on request for quite reasonable charges. Their contact email id is seeindiakathakali@yahoo.com.

  • Chill out at “Kamala Kadavu”…the Fort Kochi Beach…..or near the Fort Kochi Boat Jetty watching the Junkar transporting people and vehicles…while the sea waves lap the Jetty…..it’s a very tranquilizing experience.

Things to Buy:

Jew-town – Indeed there is a place called Jew Town.

Jews have lived here for well over 2,000 thousand years and they had a large thriving population here but, since the creation of the state of Israel, nearly all of the Keralan Jews have migrated there. Only fourteen Jews now live in Kochi. One of them is Mrs. Cohen who lives and has a shop on Jew Street, Jew Town. Well it looks like the Rabbi had had a fall and hurt his head and was very ill and that the chap who blew the shofar had said that he will be leaving soon. The community appears to be doomed.

It’s very sad because it certainly was a long lived community. Opinions about when Jews first came to Kerala vary. Some say it was after the death of King Solomon when his kingdom was divided. Some say even earlier, at the time of the Babylonian captivity. Some say later, maybe as late as the 600s AD. No one doubts that its over two thousand years ago.…the old people have got used to the place and love it……you too would love it and hate leaving…Kochi grows on you….

There are numerous antique and craft stores there. Bargains are available but be warned that many ‘antiques’ were probably made in the owners backyard! Shop with care and bargain hard.

Antique Shop in Jew Town Kochi

I would love some Jewish guy who had lived in Kochi and now back in Israel to comment on this blog, about his views about Kochi … his Cochin!!!

The Jew Town is about a mile or so from Fort Kochi. The Jews here came as refugees from further south of Kerala. Their kingdom there, known as Shingly, had been destroyed by Moslems and they asked the King of Kochi for refuge. He welcomed them and gave them an area to live in and build a synagogue next to his own palace. The synagogue in Jew-town and the King’s Palace (now called the Dutch Palace because the Dutch rebuilt it) are right next to each other. The area in which the synagogue and the palace stand is known as Mattancherry. There is a theory that this name derives from the Hebrew “mattanah” which means gift. As “cherry” can mean town (as in Pondicherry etc) this would make it Gift Town….slowly “Mattanahcherry” became Mattancherry! Obviously the Jews had good business sense…..the place became a wholesale trading and warehousing hub. The below image is typically Mattancherry-ish.

Typically Mattancherry-ish

The synagogue is small but beautiful, prettified by over 1,000 Chinese tiles each of which is said to be different. When HM the Queen came to visit about forty years ago,  she took her shoes off when she saw the beautiful Chinese tiles and said that they were too lovely to be walked upon by shoes. And it was after that, that tourists have been banned from wearing shoes. Worshippers may wear shoes!

There is also a tale that goes like this….during the same visit there was a dinner for the Queen and Sammy Uncle was due to give the speech of welcome (he’s obviously been community head for quite some time). He had forgotten his glasses and couldn’t find the place in his speech and he called to his wife for his glasses. His wife was called Queenie.

There is a theory that Jew Street, the street leading to the Shul was modeled on a typical Brahmin street which would have a temple at one end and the most important houses nearest to the temple (or in this case, synagogue).

Another interesting thing is the reading of the Torah …it was not done from the usual place – the Bimah in the middle of the Shul – but from a gallery at the back of the upper storey of the Shul in front of the women’s gallery. Apparently from the place where the Law is read you can see right out of a window into the Rajah’s old palace.

There is also something about the clock tower that people will not easily notice. The side facing Jew Street has the numerals in Roman numbers, the side facing the Rajah’s palace has the numbers in Malayalam (including an archaic form of the number Ten), the side facing the Shul has the numbers in Hebrew lettering and the remaining side is blank.

Isidore Art Palace, Jew-town, Kochi 662002 (Next to the Synagogue), (isidore@vsnl.com). Will reliably ship stuff outside India. Bargain hard!  But this guy is not very professional.

Galleria Synagogue Art Gallery, Jew-town, Kochi 6820002 (Walk down from the synagogue), Ph: 484 – 2222544. Showcases art work from many different local artists. Prices are reasonable, and they very often have exhibitions showing some amazing art work from the region.

There are many clothing and jewelry shops along MG road and Marine Drive. Prices are reasonable for western budgets. Shopping Malls are a new concept for Kochi and the new Bay Pride Mall on Marine drive and Oberon Mall at Edapalli offers air conditioned comfort with a small food court and a nice coffee shop. One of the latest additions to the city’s lifestyle shopping needs is “My Kingdom” on MG Road, a one of its kind store spread across 4 levels catering to different generations of the family.

  • Veegaland Amusement Park in Kakkanad, this is second largest theme park in South India. Spread over 50 acres of land with more than 50 Rides and various shows, it has well maintained gardens and five restaurants as well as small cafes. Open 9:30AM-7PM.
  • Silverstorm Water Park. A good family theme park with 29 water and dry rides, a very large park and a Chinese village. Near Athirampally Waterfalls area, this park is located 50 km from Kochi City, 18 km from the airport.
  • Scary Horror House, 3rd floor, Oberon Mall. Part of a national chain, this is a good place which will test your nerve. A 15 minute experience, through a dark scary house filled with ghosts, hidden spirits, sounds and skeletons.
  • Mirror Maze, 3rd floor, Oberon Mall. A maze of mirrors and it may take 10-20 minutes to finally find your way out.

These may be found on MG Road, Marine Drive, or the strip that connects them called Broadway, which is a street shopper’s paradise.

  • Kalyan Silks
  • Seematti(costly)
  • Jayalakshmi Silks
  • The Chennai Silks
  • Dew Drops
  • Lady Bug (closed for Renovation)
  • Graffitti – cheap summer clothing
  • There are stores of all major brands including Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Levis, Wrangler etc
  • Apple store At Kadavantra

Malls in Kochi :

(list the malls)

  • Bay Pride Mall, Marine Drive
  • Oberon Mall [9], Edapalli Bypass

Tour Operator:

Wilson Tours, Princess Street, Ph: 04842217405.

A long-running and reliable travel agent on Princess Street. Stanley Wilson arranges a very affordable trip to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary with a driver. He also can arrange backwaters tours on environmentally friendly house boats in quiet areas.

To Eat

Do not leave Kerala without trying the following:

Traditional rice based breakfast snacks like:

  • Idli –Sambar
  • Dosa (Rice Crepe) – Sada Dosa, Masala Dosa
  • Puttu and Kadala,
  • Appam and Stew.
  • Try the “thattu-kadas” Road Side Vendors….where you get hot, fresh-cooked, foods, where they don’t have refrigerators to preserve the balance food.
  • Prawns Fry (usually spicy)
  • Fish fry,
  • Fish curry (usually spicy)
  • Fish Molly (less spicy), and
  • Fish peera are the favorites, usually taken with rice or steamed tapioca (cassava).

Plenty of great, fresh seafood is available all over Fort Kochi. Visit Fort Kochi beach where you can buy fresh fish near the Chinese fishing nets and get it cooked in the nearby food stalls for a small fee. Fish mongers will sell you a kilo of tiger prawns for around $6USD and a kilo of squid for around $5USD. For a fillet of fish you may have to do a little bargaining. Try and find out what the locals are paying and work for that. The food stalls will charge you between 40 and 50 Rupee per person to cook your fish (grilled, curry, whatever…) and provide you with a serve of chips and salad! It is done reasonably hygienic so you shouldn’t worry to much about the salad.

Famous Restaurants:

  • Chic King, M.G Road, Palarivattom. It looks smells and tastes pretty much like KFC.
  • Fort House Restaurant and Hotel, 2/6A Calvathy Road (next to Coast Guard), Ph: 0484 2217103. Located at the water front and offers good Kerala food with great views
  • Mango Tree Restaurant
  • Hotel Aaryas, (Near Varkeys, Manorama Junction). Vegetarian restaurant run by Tamilians.
  • Hotel Thali, (Opp Little Flower Church, Near Kadavanthara). Very good Kerala style cuisine. Try their Dum Biryani.
  • Just Biryani, 40/9534 Opp State bank of Hyderabad, Pulleppady, near Padma Jn MG Road, Ernakulam, Ph: 4022334. 12-3PM only. The finest original Dum Biryani store, made using authentic cooking methods. 55.
  • Kadaloram, Abad Plaza. Good buffet at about Rs 150 per head.
  • K.R Bakes. Cheap hygienic food. Both the bakery and restaurant offer pretty good food. Can be found at several places, including Palarivattom junction.
  • Shala, 1/605 Peter Celli Street, Fort Kochi 682001, Ph: (0)484 2216036. A delicious Kerala-ian restaurant which serves a small menu which changes daily in lovely surroundings.

To Drink

Those who love their drink ….have no fear….this is your own backyard….cause Keralites are famous for their drinking habits. Although Kerala has heavy Tax on its Liquor it has not deterred the people to drink…J…in fact they are contributing heavily to the Indian Economy…..Kerala is the largest consumer of alcohol among the Indian states. So it shouldn’t be a problem finding Bars and Pubs in Cochin. There are a few bars near Thoppumpady &  Ernakulam.

But also the sale of alcohol is very limited due to strict laws, so some restaurants get around this by selling beer in teapots and mugs. The whole restaurant appears to be drinking chai, but really everyone is drinking Kingfisher beer out of mugs, very funny sight. When you want more beer you ask for another pot of chai!

If you are not into alcohol try some of these:

  • Karikku / ilaneer (Tender coconut juice). Don’t drink Mineral water/Pepsi or soft drink ….for your entire stay in Kerala …drink this….!!! This obviously cannot be unadulterated…and costs the same as mineral water or soft drink!!! It’s also good to drink this first thing in the morning if you have a bad hangover.
  • Sambhaaram (buttermilk with some kind of masala), great thirst-quencher ….especially on hot summer days or even normal days!!!
  • Milkshakes, get them cold, like a Sharjah Shake for example – a good cool down option
  • Fresh toddy from the coconut tree, especially around the Kumarakom area. Take caution as adulteration of the brew is very common. Best would be to get it from a local who has given over his coconut trees for extraction.  But here also the guy who extracts coconut juice or toddy tries to trick you ….as he usually fills his pot with water a day before…so what you get is already diluted drink. The guy who owns the farm doesn’t know this. The trick is to ask him to 1st bring down his vessel kept on the tree top….then give him an empty vessel for tomorrow…..and guard the tree like a dog ..till when its ready….(don’t let the guy climb the tree on some pretext). You might already get an idea how beautiful this drink is…..and how much it is desired… J.

Some of the well known Bars are

  • XL bar, Fort Cochin.
  • Velocity, Banerjee road
  • Oberoi Bar, MG Road.

There are many Coffee shops as well in and around the city

  • Cafe Coffee Day – Shenoy’s Cinema, Oberon Mall and Ravipuram junction- your standard coffee hangout
  • Barista – Bay Pride Mall, Marine Drive – the place to cool down with coffee after a walk at Marine Drive
  • Coffee Beanz – Marine Drive road – another place to get your cold coffee and snacks
  • Teapot – Fort Cochin serves the best chocolate cake (“death by chocolate”).
  • Kashi art Cafe – Fort Cochin
  • Cocoa Tree – MG Road

Discos

Pub Rules & Etiquettes

All discotheques, pubs have some strict rules and etiquettes.

  • A restricted admission policy – allows only guests above 21 with age proof, no pets and certain days reserved for ladies, couples and families
  • A strict dress code – only formals for both genders. Western styled fashion, that exposes body is allowed for ladies (no nudity), however not for gents. Gents have to be in full covered western formals or can be in denims with compulsory shoes. No kind of ethnic Indian clothing is allowed for men, but allowed for ladies like sarees etc.
  • Smoking is strictly not allowed inside any pubs or dance floors

Pubs/Discos

  • Tandav Discos, Le Meridien premises, Maradu. The most happening discotheque famous for its weekend all night parties and grand balls.
  • Glow&Corktales, Ph:-+91-484-409-0000, Atlantis Junction-MG Road. The most dance floor in the city, with a large lounge bar. It has night parties from Thursday to Sunday with various themes and age groups.
  • Opium the Club, Ph:- +91-9388256882, Palarivattom Jn. A new posh upscale dance floor and large discotheque, it has various events from Tuesday to Sunday, each in various themes.
  • Loungevity, Hotel Avenue Regent, MG Rd. House an inhouse DJ and the latest in electronic dance music. One of the coolest places for families.
  • Couchyn, The Grand Hotel, Woodlands Junction, MG Rd. A traditional English styled lounge bar with great music and a wide variety of cocktails.
  • ÁVA lounge, Dreams Hotel, SA Rd. A lounge cum disco bar, ideal for families. Good music, a large dance floor and wide range of cocktails.
  • Champs Sports Lounge, Gokulam Park, Kaloor. Has a good sports gallery, cricket-themed interiors, 2 gigantic screens for regular broadcast of cricket or football matches, signature cocktails and snacks.

Place to Stay:

Definitely stay at Fort Kochi as it is quieter and more scenic than the rest of the city. There are quite a lot of tourists so prices are relatively high, but that’s still very cheap by western standards. Some of the heritage hotels are located here. Home stays are very common too. Your stay at a Home-Stay could be a fantastic experience as you could get to live with a proper Indian family also the families are really hospitable and kind, defiantly better than a hotel or guest house. At the home stays you tend to run into similar fellow traveler like you and chat in a relaxed atmosphere. Home-stays are encouraged by the Indian Tourism board.  Some Home stays even have cooking lessons on Indian recipes! They also provide traditional breakfast. With them you get to experience the culture and customs first hand. They also provide better and latest guidance about the tourist points, route, day to day news, bargains etc. Homestays cost around Rs 800 to Rs 1,500 per Day (Yr 2010).

 

Green House Homestay Kunnumpuram Road -Njaliparambu, Fort Kochi

 

  • Green House Home Stay, Kunnumpuram Road, Njaliparambu, Fort Kochi, Ph: 0091-9895262296 (greenhousehomestay@yahoo.com). Very nice and friendly home stay in a good location close to Princess Street (where Kumar has a shop, so try to track him down there if you can’t reach him otherwise), which also offers a TV and a fridge in the common room/living room In high season doubles are around Rs500 (or more if you want A/C), Rs250 during the low season (May 2008).
  • Leelu Home, Fort Kochi, Cheerans Ebenezer, Behind Fort Kochi Post Office, Quirose Street, ”’Fort Kochi”’ 682 001. (Hardly a 2 minute walk from the famous Santa Cruz Basilica), Ph: 0091-484-2215377. A recently renovated Victorian building in the heart of Fort Kochi. http://leeluhomestay.com/

Cooking classes are conducted at the kitchen every day from 11a.m. – 1p.m. and from 6p.m. – 8p.m.

  • Casa Mia Homestay – with Anthony and Usha.

Heavenly Homestay - Walton Hall, Princess Street, Kochi

 

  • Heavenly Home Stay

http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g297633-d1423238-Heavenly_Home_Stay-Kochi_Kerala.html#19726545

Lots of Homestay in Kochi:

Beena Homestay - XI-359.B, K. B. Jacob Road

 

 

Kovil Homestay, Near Amman Kovil Temple - Amaravathy- Fort Kochi

 

Orion Homestay, Fort Kochi

Riverside Home-Stay, Kaniampuzha backwaters- Vyttila-Kochi

Saj Homestay, Kunnumpuram, Kochin

Costa Gama Homestay - Thamaraparambu Road, Opp L G Pai Library Fortcochin, Kochi

 

  • The Gateway Hotel, Marine Drive, City. Formerly Taj Residency near the harbour with good views over the sea from some rooms.
  • Madaparambil Tourist Home, Chittoor Road (near S.R.V. L.P.School, Ernakulum), Ph: 682 011 Ph: 0484-2367533.
  • Maple Regency Hotel, Cannon Shed Road, Ernakulam, Ph: +91-484-2371711 (mapleregency@airtelmail.in). Near the main boat jetty is well located, friendly place with a good restaurant Rooms are from USD 6.50 to 10.00.
  • The Royal Kerala Boats, 304 – Lalan Towers, Marine Drive Kochi Kerala 682022India, Ph: +91 9 847153764, [15]. Good One night stay on a House Boat. The boats are built on traditional transport boats and have now been modified into luxury house boats with all modern amenities.
  • Taj Malabar, Willingdon Island. On the tip of Willingdon Island is has to be one of the best located properties in Kochi. In its heritage wing, built in 1935, is full of Victorian interiors, while it’s tower wing is more modern.
  • Dream Catcher Home Stay, Vasavan Lane Road (Near Thamaraparambu Schoo), Ph: 0484 2217550 / 9746017881 (dreamcatcheronita@vsnl.net). Good home-cooked food, clean rooms. Will pick up from Bus/Railway station free of charge Rs. 600-1200.

Caution:

Kochi is infamous for mosquitoes. Stay safe from the mosquitoes by buying mosquito pesticides. And make sure any room you book has mosquito repellants or at least a mosquito net.

Internet

  • Cyber Cafes are available but its better avoiding them if possible due to password hacks.
  • Most big Coffee shops like Coffee Café Day have Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Wireless internet through Tata Indicom is available at the Avenue Regent (approximately 110 RS/2Hr) on MG road. Internet Cafes are available throughout the city.
  • There are also High Speed (Mb/sec speed) USB Data cards of TATA Indicom/ Reliance/BSNL/MTNL (Both CDMA & GSM) that can be plugged into Laptops. Buy the one with 1 MB+ speed anything less is just as good as a dial up. The one of Reliance is good but costs around Rs 3500. Tata Indicom’s  “1X” is a dial-up speed USB data card.
  • Internet through GPRS facility is offered by all operators….but there is some waiting period until the SIM card is registered (2-3 days or so). So this can be used as last option for Laptop/Desktop or for GPS navigation searches.

Nearby Attractions:

In Ernakulam District

  • Kallil Temple – an old Jain temple but now a Hindu temple is 13 Km from Perumbavoor.
  • Kodanadu – Elephant training centre…they have the Elephant Kraal… where wild elephants are taught discipline….and tamed. The zoo there also has mobile snatching monkeys…they snatch the mobiles when you go to take a close up photo…they are quite fast…so careful with your mobiles there J . The place is a must visit.
  • Kaprikad….little further from Kodanadu.
  • Kuttanpuzha
  • Bhoothathankettu – A Dam, 8 Kms north east of Kothamangalam.
  • Thattekkad – Bird sanctuary near Bhoothathankettu.
  • Paniyeli Poru – The sight of river Periyar through the forests and rocks is an amazing sight. 60 Km from Kochi and 15 km from Perumbavoor. It’s a stunning scenic spot. Must visit.
  • Iringol Kavu – a kavu – protected small vegetation area near a temple – of around 50 acres! 15 km from Perumbavoor

Idukki District is a hilly region with lots of hill resorts. Some attractions on the way to Idukki are:

  • Cherai is some 25 kms away from Kochi city, near North Paravur and its beautiful with a nice beach and local cuisine.
  • Alwaye is about 40 mins away from Ernakulam. See the Aluva Palace, Shivarathri Manalpuram.
  • Thommankutthu waterfalls in Idukki District via Muvattupuzha.
  • Athirappilly waterfalls near Chalakudi, Thrissur.
  • Munnar a hill resort in Idukki District is 130 km east.
  • Thekkady and other places in Idukki
  • Alappuzha is famous for House Boats, is 70 km away. Must visit.
  • Kumarakom in Kottayam.
  • Kodungallur, Guruvayoor and Thrissur.
  • Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud in Tamil Nadu. Most beautiful set of hill stations in India.
  • Lakshadweep is 5 day (seasonal) cruise from the Kochi port.

When it’s time to leave you sure are going to miss Kochi a lot!!! Kochi will definitely be your favorite place in Kerala. If it wasn’t your favorite place in Kerala then please mention it here in the comments column….J!

More info:

http://www.ernakulam.com/

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