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Incredible India


India is incredible indeed!

A country astonishingly unique in its amalgamation of natural, historical, architectural  and geographical richness. 
While most of us know about the Majestic Himalayas, the magnificent Taj Mahal, the colourful history of Rajasthan or the beautiful beaches of Goa and Kerala, India is much more and there are some beautiful gems and quirky little things which are vying for our attention. In this section we will update information about some of those delightful attractions
 
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Tribal Diversity

 

The Tribal or indigenous populations of the Indian subcontinent have been of longstanding interest to anthropologists and human geneticists and constitute nearly eight percent of the total population.
Home to more than 400 living languages, India is a country of ethnic and cultural diversity. More than 500 distinct tribal communities are spread across India, Many of these have their own rich (and distinctive) history and culture of music, dance, dress and cuisine. These communities are sustained by a simple, basic, in-tune-with-nature way of life that has changed little over centuries 
 

Mountain Railways

 


If you are interested in the railways, then India offers excellent opportunity to indulge yourself  that includes apart from the most complex network of the Indian railways some other smaller delights – the Mountain railways of India. 
Mountain Railways of India ( or the Toy trains as they are popularly known) includes six narrow or meter gauge railway lines . Of these three lines  -  the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka Shimla Railway are still fully operational and have been included in the UNESCO world heritage site.
 
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway : The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is the best example of engineering of a hill passenger railway. It was inaugarated in 1881, its design applies bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty.
 
Nilgiri Mountain Railway : The construction of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 46-km long metre-gauge single-track   was completed in 1908. This railway, scales an elevation of 326 m to 2,203 .
 
The Kalka Shimla Railway, a 96-km long, single track  rail link built in the mid-19th century to provide a service to the highland town of Shimla is emblematic of the technical and material efforts to disenclave mountain populations through the railway. All three railways are still fully operational.
 
Other than the above three , The Kangra Valley Railway  are in the   Himalayas of Northern India. The Matheran Hill Railway is in Maharashtra 
 

Living Root Bridges


The living bridges are made from the roots of the Ficus Elastic a type of rubber tree. These trees produce a series of secondary roots from higher up the trunk – these work as a natural safety harness for the trees to hold on to boulders on the riverbanks and to overcome high soil erosion caused by the fast flowing rivers and streams.
The War-Khasis, a tribe in Meghalaya, long ago registered this phenomenon and took advantage of it as an easy way to cross many rivers of the area. They use hollowed out trunks of betel nut trees to guide the roots in the direction they needed a bridge. Once the roots reached the desired destination of the other side of the river they are allowed to attach themselves to the soil. The process gradually creates the living root-bridges. The bridges are amazingly sturdy and can be more than 30m long. Some of the ancient root bridges which are still being used daily around Cherrapunji are well over five hundred years old.

The Great lakes of Ladakh


The great lakes of Ladak ( Tso Pangong and Tso Moriri) will surely mesmerize with their immensity, spectacular form and beauty.

 

Tso Pangong : Very fee places on the earth can compare to the awe inspiring beauty of Tso Pangong - the highest salt water Lake in the World. A 135km long deep blue stretch of water trapped in the middle of a stark mountain landscape at an altitude of 4300m, shared by two countries India  and China (Approximately 60% of the length of the lake lies in Tibet). Throughout the day the turquoise and azure Pangong Lake keep changing changing Colors w as the day progresses.
 
Tso Moriri : Even though Tso Moriri is smaller (approximately 19 km long and 7 km wide) compare to Tso Pangong, in some ways it is probably even more beautiful than Tso Pangong.  The bank of the lake sports a lush green long patch of grass.  Horses from the nearby villages graze on the grass.
 

The lakes also  acts as an important breeding ground for a variety of birds including a number of migratory birds. During summer, the Bar-headed goose and Brahmini ducks are commonly seen here. The region around the lake supports a number of species of wildlife including the kiang and the Marmot.

Sunderban


The Sundarbon is mystical and mysterious, dangerous but beautiful. In the morning it is bright and understandable, but when the settings sun turns it into faintly glowing green pristine land where time stands still, you will be charmed and mesmerized. Sundarbon's is a dynamic ecosystem of 108 islands interspersed with tidal rivers and narrow creeks. Stretching across more than 10,000 square kilometers in the state of West Bengal and into Bangladesh, this delta is the world’s largest — and also its largest mangrove forest — an ecosystem so special that it’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. But even more than all that, we’d always heard tell of the mysterious realm of the endangered — and occasionally man-eating — Royal Bengal tiger and many amphibiae, reptiliae, fish and mammals as well as more than 180 bird species. Steeped in mystical tales of Bonobibi ( godess of the jungle) and Dakshinrai(god of the tigers), where folklore, struggle and danger has integrated in the life of the locals living in the villages engaged in dangerous professions like honey collection, catching shrimps in waters of creeks and rivers.

The Great Rann of Kutch


The Rann of Kutch has been described as "a desolate area of unrelieved, sun-baked saline clay desert, shimmering with the images of a perpetual mirage". 
The Great Rann of Kutch with an area covering 7,850 sqkm is located at the northern part of the Kutch region and spreads from the Rajasthan-Gujarat Border, along the Indo-Pakistan border region to Lakhpat in the west, near the Kori Creek.
The word -Rann- in Hindi language means salt marsh. During the monsoon large areas of Rann are submerged by up to 2 metres of saline water from the Gulf of Kachch and the salt-flats dry out during the dry season leaving massive amounts of salt, which make this a prime region for salt production.
In winter this vast expanse of mud and salt also provides shelter to thousands of pink Flamingos, Pelican and Avocet. The abundant avifauna includes rare Houbara bustard, lesser florican and Dalmatian pelicans. Shimmering with the images of a perpetual mirage, the dustiest and hottest region in India, The Great Rann of Kutch stretching for hundreds of square km in the State of Gujarat, also provides refuge for the endangered Asiatic wild ass and is home to several tribal groups. 
 
One of the best bird-watching hotspots, the Great Rann provides great and varied habitat types that include deserts and wetlands, vast grasslands and swamps, providing a huge variety and abundance of birdlife. This flat landscape desert in the dry season turns into a vast moonscape like area of dried earth and thorn scrub attracting doves, bulbuls, coucals and silverbills for a chorus of delicate birdsong playing over the arid plains. Groups of Grey Francolins are heard among the grasslands at dusk.
 

Step wells

 


Water in the traditional architecture of India could be found since the earliest times and had played an important role in the culture. Step wells of India (called Baodi or Baoli in Hindi, Baav in Gujrati) represent that tradition and the extraordinary fusion of aesthetic sense and architectural capability of the designers of these wells.  They are most common in the western part of India in the arid land of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The core reason behind constructing this well as water storage as Rajasthan and Gujarat are dry places and the locals used to face problem of water, especially during the summers.  The step wells also were community gathering place for the local residents as the lower levels used to be cooler compared to the heat outside.

 

Water in these wells has to be reached by stepping down the staircases of the wells. The biggest attraction of this step well is its geometric complexity in the steps. The walls of the wells were lined with blocks of stone, without mortar. The steps were made descending to the bottom to ensure the people of the locality can reach to the water from all the sides. In some cases the wells are multi storied and still retain the beautiful carvings on the walls of the well.

 

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Seasons Flavour

Commanding magnificent view of the surrounding Himalayan peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul, Ketu and Kamet , on the edge of the Nanada Devi national park, Auli is fast emerging as an important ski resort in India.

Nestled amidst the wooded slopes, surrounded by green meadows in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh, lies Baspa Valley also known as Sangla valley.

Binsar is a beautiful hill destination inside a forest reserve and bird sanctuary with magnificent 360 degree view of Kumaon Himalayan peaks.

Far from the maddening crowds is Caukori, an isolated small village in the Kumaon mountains offering panoramic view of snow capped Himalayan peaks painted with magical sunrise and sunsets .

Madikeri - a picturesque hill station of misty mornings and dotted with coffee and exotic spice plantations, lies in the Western Ghats of south-western Karnataka. It is the headquarter of the famous Kodagu or Coorg district of Karntaka state. Flavoured with the aroma of fresh coffee, cardamom, black pepper and Coorg honey, Madikeri offers an enchanting experience.

Dalhousie is one of the most picturesque hill stations, located in the Chamba Valley between the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges of the Himalayas. Named after a British Governor General, it retains a mix of natural beauty and colonial charm.

Darjeeling, the “Queen of the hills” embodies the romantic nostalgia of “The Raj” or the era of British rule in India. Darjeeling, famous for its lush tea gardens, is blessed with a stunning view of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest peak.

Dharamsala has an aura about it. The town has lived up to its name, which means “The pilgrims’ rest house”; it is today the sacred seat of the Dalai Lama and his exiled government of Tibet. The backdrop of the Himalayas and the old world charm of the town adds to the magnetic attraction of the unique experience that is Dharamsala.

One of the most scenic hill stations of India. Gulmarg offers excellent powder run skiing opportunities of international standards.

The beautiful hill town of Kausani is a picturesque hill station famous for its scenic splendour and its spectacular 300 km wide panoramic view of the Himalayas.

Lachen 110 km from Gangtok, Lachen is a scenic Himalayan village of migrant Buddhist Bhutia yak herders called Lachenpas. The hospitable Lachenpas greet or bid visitors farewell with the traditional 'khada' scarf. Blankets made from sheep wool or chuktuk, carved woodwork, furniture, signs, symbols and blankets are the handicrafts of Lachen. Chuktuk is the local term used for sheep wool blankets. Since a sizeable population in the area rear sheep and yak, the wool from these animals is used for r

On the banks of the Beas river, surrounded by the majestic Pir Panjal, Parvati, and Bara Bhangal mountain ranges, lies Manali - one of the most popular hill resorts in India. Manali is also the gateway to the exotic Lahaul and Spiti valleys.

Mukteshwar is a quaint and peaceful hill town in Kumaon - Uttarakhand surrounded by thick coniferous forest; it offers 180 degree panoramic views of the mighty Himalayan peaks Neelkanth, Trishul, Nandaghunti, Nanda Devi, Panchchuli. Famous hunter Jim Corbett mentioned Mukteshwar in his 1944 AD classic book ‘The Man Eaters Of Kumaon’.

Stunning green hills of rolling tea plantations surround breathtaking Munnar. The town provides a completely relaxing and therapeutic experience for jaded city dwellers - misty mornings, sweet scented air, whispering breezes and a chance to walk in the clouds.

Mussoorie is a popular hill station in the Garhwal Himalayas. Due to its panoramic views and its proximity to Delhi, Mussoorie has been a favourite weekend destination for visitors from the nearby plains since the time of the Raj.

The beautiful small township of Pelling lies 115 km from the state capital Gangtok. Known for its grand views of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain, which rises to 9390m. Pelling is perched at an altitude of 2400m, and is a traveller’s delight due to its strategic location in the eastern Himalayas.

A long time ago Kumaoni queen Padmini was smitten with the scenic vista of this hill town leading to her king Sukhdev naming the area queen’s meadow or Ranikhet. Ranikhet still retains the unspoilt charm and sylvan surrounding that provides panoramic views to the Himalayan peaks.

A beautiful hill city tucked in the lap of Himalayas, Shimla retains much of its old world charm and nostalgic influence of the British Raj when it was the designated “summer capital” of India.

Srinagar, the exotic summer capital of Kashmir is an enigma shrouded in a veil of mystery, a fusion of beauty, culture and history that mesmerises, enthrals and still sows a seed of doubt in the mind of the departing traveller that a single visit is not enough to touch its heart.

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