Kanha National Park – An untold story

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The Jungles of Kanha

                                                Did we really spot the King of Kanha?

 

Not so long ago on 17.02.2017 was the day that can qualify as one of our YOLO kinda day of 2017. Wondering Why?

So, the story goes with us booking 2 slots of wildlife safari at Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India. You must be wondering what is so special of Kanha National Park in India as it is like any other National Park or Tiger Reserve in India and around the world. But no, this is a special and a memorable experience since the time we were planning our safari at Kanha National Park, our eyes and hearts were set on this one particular big cat and this story is about our close and unusual encounter with the most unique and photogenic tiger in the world who is also fondly known as the “King of Kanha”

                 To begin with, we hopped onto our early morning safari at 6 am with our hearts filled with all hopes and with constant manifestation of spotting the King of Kanha at any moment. Trying our luck for over 2 hours during the morning safari was not as fruitful as we had expected it to be. As we were on our vehicle safari we came to a point where we could hear 2 tigers roaring at each other and the vibrations of their roar echoed in the surroundings which made us realise that we are so close yet so far.

                 We returned back to our hotel with heavy hearts but we did not lose hopes at all because our driver was extremely encouraging and assured us that he will try his best whatsoever for us to have an encounter for us to have an encounter with King of this jungle.

                 In the afternoon slot 20 gypsys enter the Kanha National Park for the wildlife safari and all the gypsys take separate routes as per their driver’s knowledge although they are all the time connected to one another through walkie-talkies. We, like all other gypsys chose our own route and headed forward with a last chance as it was like a “Now or Never” kinda situation. As it was afternoon time and the temperatures were high, we reached a place close to a water body which is also the usual hangout spot of Munna.

                 After waiting patiently for over half an hour in absolute silence, we felt a slight movement. There are times when our mind makes us see things that we want to see desperately but they might not be real and we also that that we were probably hallucinating. So, we asked our driver and forest officer whether they are seeing what we are seeing?

                  They affirmed with overjoyed emotions that he indeed is the King of Kanha, Munna himself walking in Slo-Mo towards our gypsy.

at Kanha National Park

What is so special about Munna and why all this while we wanted to see him in particular?

As we mentioned earlier, what makes him most photographed tiger in the world are the stripes on his forehead that read the letters “CAT” and “PM”. To be honest that very moment we could not believe that the celebrity of Kanha was royally walking toward us in absolute silence that we could literally hear his breathing.

 All this while our driver did not communicate other gypsys about this unusual spotting of Munna as he knew how keenly we wanted to have an encounter with Munna and he wanted the surroundings to be unperturbed so that we could get the most of that very moment. We spent a good half an hour observing that charismatic aura of Munna which left us in awe of his beauty. This moment was undoubtedly the highlight of our visit.

 

King of Kanha

What happened next?

The wait for Munna at Kanha National Park

Gradually the other safari vehicles learnt about his presence that eventually led to over-crowding the area that disturbed his usual course of action resulting in him leaving the place into the hiding that’s when we realised why our driver did not inform the other vehicles else, we could not have made this memory for a lifetime.

Learnings,

  1. Whatever you wish for with all your heart will definitely be served to you hence manifest in the right direction and the universe will help you achieve the same.
  2. Trust your drivers and the forest officials as they know what best can be done.
  3. Don’t scare the wildlife during an encounter and be calm and patient and civilized for yourself and also others around you.

To know more about basic guidelines on how to plan a wildlife safari anywhere around the world click on this link.
Also, check our blogpost wherein we have mentioned India’s top 8 Wildlife Safari Destinations.

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10 Wildlife Safari Holiday essentials before your perfect trip !!!

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As summers are approaching, this makes an ideal time frame to plan a safari holiday with your family and loved ones. The Wildlife is out and about as they are also looking forward to welcoming humans in their domains so get ready to plan a Safari themed holiday this season. But hold on !!! Before you plan please read this handy guide and be well aware so that your planning doesn’t go wrong. 

1. Book In Advance

Safari holidays should be booked well in advance to avoid any last minute hustles and glitches which may land you up in spending more than required and unnecessarily increase your overall budget. It is convenient to book the safari’s well in advance through the recognised government website’s for each national park’s or reserves per se and you can also book through government recognised agents. These agencies and government websites make the booking process transparent and seamless and will ensure that your slots are confirmed. If you are a group of 6 or more then going for a private safari is feasible and economical and if your group members are lesser than 6 then you also have a choice of sharing your vehicle with other families are well. Opt as per your preferences.

2. Carry and Submit the required documents

It is a mandatory requirement to submit photo identity proofs of every individual whether a child or an adult who is going for the safari while you make the bookings. Make sure that the documents you have submitted while booking online or through agents are the same documents that you will be carrying during your admission in the park premises.

3. Start your day early

Usually the tourist safari’s have two time slots one being the early morning slot and the second being the afternoon. We recommend you to start your day early so that you can experience both the time slots in a single day. You can plan your day starting with an early morning safari, come back to the hotel and freshen up, have your lunch and then hop on to the afternoon safari. The probability of spotting the wildlife is usually more in the afternoons as per our personal experience but that doesn’t mean that the morning slots wouldn’t be enjoyable as both the slots have their own uniqueness.

4. Packing Essentials

       – Wear breathable fabrics preferably lightweight pants/ shorts, cotton t’s

      – Sunglasses

      – Comfortable shoes or sneakers

      – Sunscreen with a higher spa preferable spa 50 +

      – Insect repellants 

      – Binoculars

      – Electronics like you camera with different lenses, tripod, memory cards

      – Caps and Hats 

      – Dry snacks ( If allowed ) and Water to stay hydrated

5. No guarantee, less expectations

The mindset while you make your safari booking should not be with the rigid thought process that you will get to see the wildlife in their natural habitat. The wildlife encounters depends on a lot of factors and reasons which are not under human control. The spotting also depends upon the wildlife reserve or park that you have chosen for your visit, your timings of the visit, the season that you go and the route that you pursue inside the park. Hence it is always better to go with no expectations so that you will not get disappointed but you can enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. The positive part about not having any expectations is that in an event of a wildlife encounter it will be a very memorable experience.

6. Every National Park is Unique

Every national park or reserve have their own distinctive geographical terrains that may be vast grasslands , dense forests, dry or humid weather, hilly or mountain terrains, rocky roads, streams, the flora, fauna and the wildlife. So having visited one national park does not justify that the other national parks will be similar. Therefore you can have Safari holidays planned for more than one National park at a time. 

7. During Wildlife Encounters

The most exciting and awaited moment of a wildlife safari is when you spot the wildlife in their own habitat so there are a few points that we should follow strictly during a wildlife encounter :-

  • Do not get over excited and enthusiastic which may disturb the animals around
  • Maintain silence because with the slightest of noises the animals tend to escape from the spot
  • Be very calm and patient while you click the pictures
  • Don’t tease the wild animals as they might not like it and may counter attack you
  • Don’t feed the wild animals by throwing litter of left over food or any snacks that you carry
  • Do not hamper the experience for other families who have joined you in other vehicles. Let the forest officials manage the vehicles as per them.

8. Trust your Rangers

Having faith on your Safari gypsy driver and the guide accompanying you all is of utmost importance. Let them decide the route that have to be taken because they are well experienced and mature in this field. They are aware of the whereabouts of the wildlife and in our experience they will make sure that they put all the efforts for their guests to have maximum wildlife encounters. Be patient, good and respectful towards them even if you don’t have any encounters because it is not under their control.

9. Your stay matters

Where you stay is of a critical importance. There are a few wildlife resorts that have their own gypsys and issue permits to their in-house guests so if you are getting a good deal of a safari-stay combo then it is wise to grab it because it will save your time taken for booking hassles. How close is your stay from the core areas of the national park or the reserves is also an important factor in decision making. This will ease your traveling time before and after the safari.

10. General rules to follow

  • Be punctual and follow the timings because the more punctual you are the better it is for you    to get the most of the timings allowed
  • Do not step down from your vehicle throughout your safari for your own safety
  • Do not try to disturb the flora and maintain silence throughout 
  • It is better to keep your phones on flight mode or silent mode so that it doesn’t disturb the surroundings
  • Some National Parks or Reserves allow you to take packed food or snacks and if you are taking along something to eat please make sure to not litter around
  • Travel light and carry only what will be essential. Don’t carry heavy handbags or back packs because heavier luggage will be inconvenient to you and others in your jeep
  • Do not use flash and turn off your camera sounds while taking pictures. Be co-operative to others as well and let them take their chances at photographing the wildlife. 
  • Do not play loud music in the gypsy 
  • If you are travelling with small kids make sure they have a good nap time because if they are uncomfortable or being cranky then your whole safari experience and other peoples experiences will go for a big toss.

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India’s Top 8 Safari Destinations – Edition 2019

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Whenever we contemplate planning our vacations, we either opt for a beach romantic feel type of vacation or conquering the mountains. Planning a wildlife safari holiday in India is in itself a very pleasantly unconventional choice. Whether you squeeze in 1 or 2 safaris in your contemporary itinerary or plan an all exclusive wildlife safari holiday, the choice is your’s. But as per our experiences we suggest you to plan an absolutely dedicated wildlife holiday to make the most of your time with your loved ones.

 We list down India’s top 8 safari destinations based on our personal visits and the chronology is made on the basis of the chances of spotting the wildlife in it’s most natural form and on the charismatic aura of the safari as a whole.

All the safari timings mentioned in this blog post is sourced from the official websites.

We suggest you to check the timings as and when you book your safaris.

All our safari holiday planning was done by Cenin Travels based in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

You can contact them on www.ceninsafaris.com or send an email on anup@cenintravels.com

you can contact their manager Mr. Anup 09028004601

They are amazing safari planners in India. 

1. Kanha National Park , Madhya Pradesh

Kanha, Madhya Pradesh

Among the 8 national parks that we will be listing in this blogpost, Kanha has its own special place in our hearts. We visited the Kanha National Park in the Mid-February when the summers have just begun in India. The forest is so beautiful and welcoming that you will immediately connect to the wildlife and will instantly forget the outside world. Kanha National Park is a tiger reserve and home to the tiger celeb Munna, the most photographed tiger in the world. The oddity of Munna is that the stripes on his forehead spells the letter “CAT”. He is the oldest tiger of Kanha National Park and fondly known as the “King of Kanha”. 

The nearest station to Kanha National Park is Gondia which is at a distance of about 145 kms and Jabalpur which is at at distance of about 165 kms.

The nearest airport to Kanha National Park is Jabalpur which is at a distance of about 160 kms.

Jabalpur has the nearest airport and railway which is about 3 hours away. Mandla is the nearest city. Khatia (3 km from Kisli) and Mukki are the two main entry points to the Kanha National Park. From Jabalpur, Kisli is 165 km via Chiraidongri, and Mukki is 203 km via Motinala and Garhi.

The King of Kanha, Munna

2. Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra

We visited Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Mid-February, around the same time when we visited Kanha National Park. Unlike Kanha National Park, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is relatively dry and barren. As it is located in the central region of Maharashtra state of India, it receives very little rainfall which lets you spot the fauna near and around the water bodies of the Tiger reserve. You can spot deers, sambhars, langurs, blue bulls, tigers with their cubs, etc. It is also a treat to the bird watchers. As this Tiger reserve is not densely forested, the probability of spotting the wildlife increases and the visibility is clear.

The nearest station to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is Chandrapur which is at a distance of about 45 kms.

The nearest airport to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is Nagpur which is at a distance of about 140 kms.

The nearest airport to Tadoba is the Nagpur airport which is at a distance of around 140 km. It is well connected to the important places nearby and can be reached by hiring a taxi.

Matkasur, the oldest surviving tiger of Tadoba
Tigress Tara with her cubs, Tadoba

3. Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Tiger cub, Bandhavgarh National Park

Bandhavgarh National Park has a prepossessing terrain which is a combination of meadows, tall grasslands and plateaus that combine together to form a captivating landscape. Bandhavgarh National Park is famous for Bengal Tigers and has the highest number of tigers in India which makes it as a tourist friendly tiger reserve. If you are lucky and patient you can spot leopards and sloth bears apart form the famous Bengal Tiger.

The nearest station to Bandhavgarh National Park is Umaria which is at a distance of about 35 kms and Khajurao is at a distance of about 250 kms. Only jeeps are available for transfers.

The nearest airport to Bandhavgarh National Park is Khajurao which is at a distance of about 225 kms.

Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh
Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh

4. Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh

Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra

This name is derived from the Pench river that divides the tiger reserve into two equal halves, one being in Madhya Pradesh and another being in Maharashtra. We visited the region that falls in the territory of Maharashtra. The famous writers Rudyard Kipling’s book , The Jungle Book is inspired by the forests of Pench. Hence Pench Tiger reserve makes for a prefect backdrop of all our childhood memories making the wildlife safari all the more memorable. The Pench Tiger reserve that falls in the Maharashtra region is not preferred as much as that of Madhya Pradesh region as the wildlife spotting is lesser in the Maharashtra region because it is still in the developing stage. So if you want to spot the wildlife of Pench then plan a trip to Pench Tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Although the beauty of both the regions are unique in their own way.

The nearest station to Pench National Park is Nagpur which is at a distance of about 166 kms.

The nearest airport to Pench National Park is Nagpur which is at a distance of about 120 kms.

Morning sunrise at Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra

5. Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka

Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka
Herds of Elephants spotted on boat safari at Nagarhole National Park

Unlike other National Parks of India that can be visited in open gypsys, Nagarhole National Park can best be seen by taking a boat safari. Nagarhole National Park majorly has open and vast grasslands like the Savannahs hence making it perfect to spot the wildlife in their natural habitats. Nagarhole National Park is all about spotting herds of Elephants either through boat safari or vehicle safari.

The nearest railway station to Nagarhole National Park is Krishnarajnagar which is at a distance of about 53 kms and Mysore is at a distance of about 64 kms.

The nearest airport to Nagarhole National Park is Mysore which is at a distance of about 98 kms and Bangalore airport is at a distance of about 270 kms.

For more information on Nagarhole National Park read our entire blogpost on Unmined Tiger Reserve, Kabini ! Click on the link.

6. Jawai Leopard Reserve, Rajasthan

The rocky terrains of Jawai
Beautiful Sunset at the Jawai Leopard Reserve

We got to know about this not so popular Leopard reserve by watching a documentary on National Geographic. This documentary made us plan a visit to spot leopards in their natural habitat and living in unusual mountain terrains. The hills of Jawai have been formed buy the volcanic eruptions that occurred millions of years ago and these rock shelters have become a perfect abode to the Leopards and hyenas in Rajasthan, India. The unique peculiarity of the Jawai Leopard reserve is that you can easily spot the leopards during the day time and if not adult leopards then don’t feel blue because you will surely be able to spot their cute little cubs running around the hills of Jawai. Leopards are usually shy animals and are not easily potted in dense forested regions or in the day time. But the barren hills of Jawai increases the Leopard spotting to a great extent.

The nearest railway station to Jawai Leopard Reserve is Falna which is at a distance of about 21 kms.

The nearest airport to Jawai Leopard Reserve is Udaipur which is at a distance of about 132 kms.

 

The safari timings for Jawai Leopard Reserve  are very flexible. You can confirm the timings with the hotel you are staying at.

7. Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan :

Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan

Though situated in the dry state of Rajasthan, Ranthambhore National Park is surprisingly thickly forested. We made a visit to the Ranthambore National Park in the early days of the month of February. As winters are still at peak during the month of February in Rajasthan we could not have the desired encounter with the wild lives during our safari at the Ranthambore National Park.

The nearest railway station to Ranthambhore National Park is Sawai Madhopur which is at a distance of about 10 kms.

The nearest airport to Ranthambhore National Park is Jaipur which is at a distance of about 145 kms.

Bird Watcher's Delight

8. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand

One of the richest and blessed National Parks of India is the Jim Corbett National Park situated in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. The best time to plan a safari holiday is during the summers as the wildlife is out and about having their abodes near the water bodies. We visited the Jim Corbett National Park in the month of May when summers are at the peak and harshest and the temperatures soaring as high as 40 degrees celsius. During our safari we spotted herds of Elephants, deers, etc. and it is definitely a treat to the bird watchers to spot over 500 different species of birds.

Though we planned our safari during the peak season of summer, we were deprived of spotting the Royal Bengal Tiger.

The nearest railway station to Jim Corbett National Park is Ramnagar which is at a distance of about 12 kms.

The nearest  international airport to Jim Corbett National Park is Delhi which is at a distance of about 295 kms.

So while planning a safari holiday be very open to all the experiences that you will encounter majorly with respect to the wildlife and their natural behaviour. Even if you do not spot any of the wildlife in your safari, do not get upset for it not being worthwhile decision to visit but on the contrary do enjoy the beautiful and serene surroundings of the forest and make the most of it.

To read our blog on 10 WILDLIFE SAFARI HOLIDAY ESSENTIALS BEFORE YOUR PERFECT TRIP !!! click on the link.

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The Tallest and the Grandest statue in the Whole Wide World now belongs to India | Statue of Unity

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Back in 2013 the budding idea to build the tallest statue in the world in the honour of the Iron man of India is now open to the world to witness in reality. 

Sardar Vallabhai Patel who is rightly given the title of the Iron man of India as he had played a pivotal role in unifying the princely states of India during the country’s struggle for Independence.

The Grandest and the Tallest

What makes this statue so unique in it’s making ?

At the time the idea was proposed to build this tallest statue, the Government of India began an initiative called the Loha Campaign (Iron campaign) which encouraged the farmers of India to donate their used tools (one from each village of India) in making this magnificent structure. This campaign was in sync with the ideologies of Sardar Patel to unite India as one Independent nation.

Why you should plan a visit to the Statue of Unity ?

The topmost priority when you visit the Statue of Unity should be visiting the observatory deck which is accessible to tourists through elevators built within the statue. The observatory deck is at an approximate height of a 45 storeyed building. One thing that must be followed is to visit the observatory deck within two hours of buying the ticket. Do check your slots written on your own tickets before you enter. The observatory deck offers a panoramic view of the Narmada river and surrounding villages.

The Statute of Unity
View from the Observatory Deck
The Panaroma view from the top

2.  Sardar Sarovar Dam : This is one of the largest dams in the world that is situated in the premises of Statue of Unity making it a very peaceful place to visit and observe this grand structure.

Sardar Sarovar Dam
Canal of the Sardar Sarovar Dam

3.  Valley of Flowers : It is one of the tourist and picnic spots around the Statue of Unity. You will enjoy a good family time during the evenings amidst the wide variety of flowers.

The Valley of Flowers

4.  Museum / Audio visual gallery : This museum and the gallery sows the life journey of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel since his childhood days. You can also witness some old archives of the photo collection in this museum. The movie of his life journey is worth watching. All the original clippings of his life events are available. You can also see the stages of how this statue was constructed right from the scratch and appreciate the combined efforts of engineers, workers, labourers and all others associated to it.

The Museum and the Audio-Visual Gallery

5.  Laser light and sound show : This show is conducted in the evening time after the sunset around 7pm which display’s how India was united as one nation.

6.  Helicopter ride : There is helicopter ride that you can enjoy which will take you to the topmost point of Statue of Unity giving you a whole new perspective of the surroundings of the statue. It is one of the most affordable helicopter rides to experience in India.

Glimpses of the Helicopter Ride

7.  There is a proposal of starting boat rides as well on the Narmada river.

Visiting hours and entry tickets. (ONLINE BOOKING AVAILABLE)

Visitors can buy tickets for the Statue of Unity from 8am to 6pm from Tuesday to Sunday. 

It is closed on Monday for maintenance. 

The ticket window closes at around 5.30 pm.

Ticket rates include visiting Observatory Deck, Valley of Flowers, Sardar Sarovar Dam, Laser Light and Sound Show, Museum and Bus ride that will transport you from one point to another around the premises of Statue of Unity.

Adult : ₹ 350

Child ( 3 to 15 years ) : ₹ 200

Express entry : ₹ 1,000 per person for both child & adult. The benefit of express entry is that you will get priority entry to board the bus and to visit the Observatory deck

Hop-on and Hop-off bus service in the premises of Statue of Unity

Timings for observatory deck

The slots during which you can enter the observatory deck are :

9am – 11am

11am – 1pm

1pm – 3pm

3pm – 5pm

Check before you book as it may be subject to change.

Helicopter ride and bus service charges :

Charge for 10 minute helicopter ride is ₹ 2,900 per person 

Bus service : Tourists can hop on / hop off the respective spots. You do not have to buy separate tickers to each spot that you wish to visit.

Where to stay ?

The Gujarat government has built tent city in the Narmada region which is 10 minute away from the Statue of unity which is open for the tourists all throughout the year.

Food Availability

There is specific area allotted to food court and food stalls in the Statue of Unity premises. You can have a variety of food options as per your choices. Make sure to try some local snacks.

How to reach Statue of Unity ?

Vadodara is the nearest city to Statue of Unity situated at a distance of 95 km.

Surat is the second nearest city to Statue of Unity situated at a distance of 154 km and followed by Ahmedabad which is at a distance of 200km and Mumbai at the distance of 420 km.

All these major cities are well connected with train network and can easily be accessed.

There are daily flights from Mumbai to Ahmedabad as well.

Some important points :

-> You can hire a guide who will explain you everything in detail.

-> There are no camera / Videography charges

-> There are wheelchairs available 

-> Decent and well maintained washroom facilities 

-> Safe drinking water and medical aid

-> A souvenir shop which sells various products that you can buy as per your choice

-> Parking facilities are available

 

Since it has been opened the footfall of the tourists have been a lot and the Government of Gujarat is able to manage so well with footfall numbers  going up to even 50,000 people visitors on a single day.So plan your visit to this grand statue and experience it for yourself and appreciate its beauty.

For more further information go on to the official website.

To read our blog on the annual  Rann Utsav held in Gujarat click on the link.

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The beauty of LADAKH captured through our lens !

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1. Shanti Stupa

Shanti Stupa

2. Leh Palace

Leh Palace

3. Leh Market

The Bustling Leh Market

4. Shey Palace

Shey Palace

5. Thiksey Monastery

Thiksey Monastrey

6. Patthar Sahib Gurudwara

Patthar Sahib Gurudwara

7. Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill

8. Sangam Point

Sangam Point

9. Hall of Fame Museum

Hall of Fame Museum

10. Khardangla Pass

Khardungla Pass

10. Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley

11. Diksit Monastery

Diksit Monastery

12. Pangong Lake

Pangong Lake

13. Ule , Leh

Offbeat Ule

14. Hemis Festival

Folk Dances at Hemis Festival

15. Tent stay at Pangong

Tent stay at Pangong Lake

16. Tent stay at Nubra Valley

Mila Retreat Camp in Nubra Valley

17. Lamas at Hemis festival

Lamas at Hemis Festival

18. Hemis Monastery

Hemis Monastery

19. Changla Pass

Changla Pass

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Accommodation in Ladakh, India

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Leh City

We had stayed in 3 different properties mentioned below for your reference and bookings

  1. Grand Himalaya : This property is situated at a distance if 3km from the Shanti Stupa and is very close to the Leh Market. Some of the room balconies open to the mystic view of the Leh Palace and the spec white snow clad mountains. The rooms are well equipped with heaters, Tv, kettles, toiletries, hot water, cozy beds and clean and dry washrooms. It is one of the best hotels in Ladakh. You will get 2 complimentary bottles for each room each day from this hotel. The food served is amazing with large spread of buffet. They also have a live counter for fresh sautéed vegetables with your choice of sauces.
  2. Sera Courtyard : This property is situated in the residential area of Leh town and hence does not provide scenic beauty of the mountains from your balcony. You will receive traditional Ladakhi welcome as you check in the Sera Courtyard. The food served is not upto the mark and can be improved. This property provides complimentary water bottles only on the day of your check in and if you need water henceforth during your stay will be chargeable. It was equipped with all basic necessities. This hotel does not have a quick room service and you will have to coax them for daily basic necessities.
  3. Grand Chubi : Most of the hotels in Ladakh will have a structure that resembles the monasteries of Ladakh. This applies for Grand Chubi As well. It is a great property to stay at when you visit Ladakh. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful and will try to make you feel at home. The food served is amazing and delicious. They also provide traditional Ladakhi food choices during tea time and also during the meals. The rooms are well equipped with all the basic amenities.  

Nubra Valley

We stayed at Ladakh Summer Camp and Mila Retreat Camp while in Nubra. in Nubra there are no hotels but only tents and camps for stay. Some of the facilities that you can expect from these camps are :-

  1. Tent stays- usually swiss tents
  2. Camp fires
  3. Western toilets with toiletries 
  4. 1-2 hours hot water service depending on your camp operator
  5. Warm quilts and blankets
  6. Hot water bags on request
  7. Basic home cooked food buffet
  8. Power Backup, torches, Lanterns provided

You will surely enjoy your stay in Nubra even though you are staying in tents as it will be a different and memorable experience for you.

Pangong Tso

Holiday Shore Camp – It is no doubt one of the best scenic places to start the morning at but if you are planning to stay over in any tents at Pangong you have to know the follow things –

  1. It will get extremely dark in the night as there are no electricity arrangements
  2. NO network / WiFi connectivity as the area is under the control of Army
  3. The temperatures in the night drop to minimum -11 degrees and the weather gets too windy to bear as it is close to the lake.
  4. You cannot expect extravagant cuisine spread as the area is too remote and far off from the main town.

So if you have breathing issues or you are claustrophobic and have low threshold to cold temperatures then we would recommend you to not stay over night at Pangong Tso  but rather make a days visit and come back to Leh town.

To read our blog on Sightseeing in Ladakh | What to see? | Where to go? Click the link
To read our blog on The cultural extravagance of Ladakh, India Click the link.
To read our blog on Tips and suggestions for your journey to Leh, Ladakh Click on the link.

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Offbeat Ladakh, In the middle of Nowhere !

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Offbeat Ladakh – In the Middle of Nowhere

If you want to experience the pristine and magical Land of Ladakh in its most raw and secluded form amidst the local charm and aura and away from the touristy chaos  then Ule will definitely resonate with your travel goals.

This place is so beautiful and untouched that you would just want to laze around and do nothing but admire and appreciate the divinity of this place.

To add further to your experience you can chill around by reading your favourite book, playing with the resort puppies, engaging yourself and your family with some games, talking to the locals to get an insight about their daily lifestyle and sharing your stories with them.

 Accommodation : 

  1. We had stayed at Ule Ethnic resorts which is at about a distance of 70 kms from Leh town and is located on the same road that leads to Kargil. This resort is Eco friendly and blends in the natural habitat of the location.
  2. The electricity is supplied 24 hours usually and each cottage is quipped with its own mini micro hydra power plants and totally support organic tourism.
  3. The have their own apple and apricot orchards and they also form a part of their welcome drink which is a great hospitality gesture. You can even buy some of those fresh and chemical free apples and apricots on your way back.
  4. The food options at Ule Ethnic resorts is very limited because the raw materials that is equipped to prepare meals are grown at the campsite itself. They do not provide buffet set up for meals but you can definitely rely on their food options and not worry about the same during your stay.
  5. You can pamper yourself with some spa sessions at the resort or just be by yourself lazing around on the banks of Indus river experiencing natures natural spa therapy.
  6. Do not expect any mobile networks, WiFi, TV, etc facility but you can make phone calls from the resort reception which is not advisable to do because its extremely expensive on the pocket. This cut off from the world and spending time with your loved ones will be definitely one of a kind experience of digital detox.
 
To read our blog on Sightseeing in Ladakh | What to see? | Where to go? Click the link
To read our blog on The cultural extravagance of Ladakh, India Click the link.
To read our blog on Tips and suggestions for your journey to Leh, Ladakh Click on the link.

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Tips and suggestions for your journey to Leh-Ladakh !

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Ladakh has been by far our most favourite destination in India for its invaluable and indespensible experiences it has offered us to be cherished all our lives. Leh Ladakh has a diversified geography that encompasses in itself vast expanse of virgin cold deserts, mighty snow clad mountainous ranges of the Himalayas that is complimented by immaculate glacial rivers of Zanskar, Indus, Jhelum, etc.

Leh Ladakh is situated at a minimum hight of about 10,000 ft above sea level, there is a notion that if you are not physically fit to adjust to high altitude then you cannot visit this beautiful part of Jammu and Kashmir. This blog post is primarily dedicated to let you experience the most of your Leh Ladakh trip by following these Tips and Suggestions which we personally followed as guidelines for a successful and comfortable let Ladakh tour.

1. Time to visit

If you want to experience cold and windy side of Ladakh then make a visit in the month of May. If you wish to experience leisurely summery vibes of Ladakh then June and July make for a perfect time to plan your visit.

    

      May -> 3 to 4 degree celsius during day time and -4 to -6 during night time

      June and July -> 10 to 12 degrees during day time and 5 to 6 degrees during night time

2. Acclimatization

Complete one day rest is compulsory on your arrival at let. It is advisable to give your body a complete rest for minimum of 24 hours from the time of your arrival in Leh because the body needs to get acclimatised and get accustomed to the high altitude terrain.  Avoid any rigorous physical activity so that you will have a seamless stay in Ladakh.

3. Medical precautions

f you are an asthmatic patient, or someone with breathing issues or low bp then you must specifically consult your respective doctor for their advice before planning a trip to Ladakh. Some general medicines that we carried on our trip are : (Please note that these are only for referential purposes, we recommend you to consult your physician)

  • Crocin
  • Combiflam
  • Diamox
  • Gelucil
  • Cough Syrup
  • Pan D
  • Soframycin

4. Stay hydrated to maintain oxygen levels

The most effective and easiest tip that we can suggest for your trip to Leh Ladakh is to stay hydrated all the time. As the oxygen level at that level is low so drinking water at regular intervals will help in maintaining levels of oxygen.

5. Well Experienced Driver

A road trip in Ladakh can be a success only if you have a well   informed and an expert driver to guide you throughout your journey and make it a memorable one.

6. Unhygenic Washrooms

As Ladakh is a very difficult terrain and road conditions are not upto the mark so having a good public washroom facility is a rare possibility and as the road journeys are quite long and time consuming therefore it is advisable to be prepared to use the to so great washrooms & if you are prone to any urinary infections then please carry required medications to avoid the same.

 

Pro Tip: Just because the washrooms aren’t good please don’t compromise on water intake otherwise you will start having headaches due to drop in oxygen levels.

7. Mobile Connectivity

As you land in Leh, you will have weak or absolutely no mobile connectivity during your stay so if you wish to be connected you can buy the local sim card available in the market area. The wifi in hotels is also not appreciable. Only AIRTEL and BSNL have good connectivity  but only in and around the The Leh City. Since you have no good network you cannot rely on the GPS for routes and tracking.

8. Clothing Items

As Ladakh is a cold destination, even during summers the temperatures are low as compared to other parts of India so we advise you to carry adequate woollens and jackets. Thermals are add ons to woollens and jackets as it will give you extra protection. Carry gloves and beanies because when you visit Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso you will require these essentials items. Wear sports shoes or boots with warm winter socks which will make it comfortable for you to walk around the rustic terrains. 

  

Avoid wearing heels and Flip Flops at all costs as its not a convenient option.

Other essential Items :

  • Sunscreen Spf 50 +
  • Wet wipes
  • Lip Balms
  • Moisturisers 
  • Sun glasses

9. Food Supplies Stock

As Ladakh has pretty long road journey like from Leh to Nubra and Nubra to Pangong which almost takes 7-8 hours, we suggest you to keep some handy and dry snacks because while travelling you wont find any good restaurants or cafes that can serve you proper food. They will only be available at some junctions. If you are travelling with kids it is better to prioritise their food options they can be fed as per their schedule and choice.

10. Final Address from Travebellas

Ladakh is a destination which needs to be explored with peace and leisure so we advise you to not rush into any activity that might exert you and affect your physical health. Listen to your body and try to maintain a decent pace of your activity which will not affect your overall health during your stay in Leh.

All in all it is all in our heads how we take a destination and how we explore it. If you are yourself confident with a strong urge to explore this beautiful place then all other things will be taken care of automatically.

 

To read the blog post on Sightseeing in Ladakh please click on the hyperlink !

To read the blogpost on The cultural extravagance of Ladakh please click on the hyperlink!

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The cultural extravagance of Ladakh, India !!!

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The Mask Dance at Hemis Festival
The Opening Ceremony of Hemis Festival
Hemis Monastery during Hemis Festival
The aura of Hemis Festival

We can bet you have never heard about this colourful festival of Ladakh, India – 2019

The land of Ladakh is embellished with the blast of colours and celebrations during the annual festival of the Hemis in commemoration of the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. This two day jollification festival is organised in the open courtyards of the Hemis Monastery.

This festival is celebrated on the 10th day of the Lunar month, Tse-Chu as per the Tibetan calendar. The dates of the festival for the year 2019 is in the month of July 11th and 12th.

The Open Courtyards of Hemis Monastery

Highlights of this culturally rich festival :-

Full house at Hemis Festival
  • Lamas dance to the traditional folk music and instruments like drums, horns, etc.
  • Mask dances known as the Cham dance that is performed surrounding the centre pole of the monastery
  • A dance that depicts the birth of Guru Padmasambhava. Devil dances that show the rise of good over evil.
  • You will get to see the Ladakh ornaments and outfits that are adorned by the Lamas
  • In the concluding dance the evil mask is destroyed and thrown in different directions which means the soul is liberated and purified after death.
Hemis Monastery
Hemis Monastery

Why to visit Ladakh during Hemis Festival ?

  • Connect to the local folks and their cultural vibe at grassroots level.
  • It is our personal experience while being the part of this festival will help you meet people from diverse nationalities and culture and you will be intrigued to see how they immerse themselves in our Indian culture more than what we do as Indians.
  • Making such offbeat choices will make you a traveller more than a common tourist and we are sure that it will enhance your experience, individuality and perspective as a traveller.  
Lamas Performing the traditional folk dances

This  is our second blogpost in the Ladakh series. To read Sightseeing In Ladakh | What to see? | Where to go? , click on the link.

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Sightseeing In Ladakh | What to see? | Where to go?

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May be the definition of beauty is the well paved cemented road network with modern technologies. As people are going back to their roots and realising the true importance of natural beauty, then what better place to visit a part of India that is untouched and unfurnished and presents itself to you in its most raw state.


We bring to you a series of blog posts that are dedicated to one of the most stunning corners of India located in state of Jammu and Kashmir, the land of high passes and mountains Ladakh !!!


In this blogpost we list out our top most favourite places that you can visit while planning your trip to Ladakh.

Shanti Stupa [Open all days 5am-9pm, No entry tickets]

Shanti Stupa
View from Shanti Stupa

It is a significant tourist spot of Ladakh that is a 2 levelled structure which literally by its name symbolises peace and harmony and was collectively built by the Ladakhi and Japanese Buddhists. To get a splendid view of the Leh City and to avoid the rush hours and also to get connected at a personal level, we suggest you to go during the early hours of the day. 

Shanti Stupa

Leh Palace- [All days open 8am-5pm]

Leh Palace

The notion of a palace that we have in our minds will not match to what you will se when you visit Leh Palace. Originally it was the residence of the royals of Ladakh but now it has become prominent touristy spot. A part go Leh palace is dedicated to showcase the art & culture of Ladakh through Jewellery and ornaments, traditional attires, crowns, Chinese paintings, etc. As you reach the top most floor of the Palace you will get an unbounded view of the barren landscape of Ladakh.

Leh Market - [Open all days]

The Bustling Leh Market
Fresh Veggies on the Go

If you want to connect at a grassroots level of any place that you visit then theres nothing better but to visit the local market which is the most desirable choice. So what can you expect while you visit the Leh Market :

  • Local jewellery & Ornaments 
  • Dreamcatchers
  • Souveniers
  • Prayer wheels
  • Winter Jackets & traditional Hats
  • Local cuisines at local cafes like Momos, Thukpa, Butter and Salt tea, Baked items, Apricots, Apricot syrups, etc.
Freshly baked biscuits in the bylanes of Leh Market
Amidst the Leh Market

Shey Palace- [Open all days ; 7.30am-8pm]

Shey Palace
The Monastery of Shey Palace
View from Shey Palace
Shey Monastery

Shey palace is now a Monastery which is open for the tourists. Earlier it was the summer residence of the Royals. A giant gold plated statue of a seated Shakyamunyi Buddha is worshipped at this monastery and this is the second largest Buddha statue in Ladakh.

As you go on the top most floor of the Shey Palace, you will get a stunning view of the      vegetation of the Ladakh region as contrast to rustic & barren landscape of the Leh Palace. This shows the diversity of Ladakh. Shey literally means reflection. It is said that in the older times there was a lake situated in front of Shey Palace which reflected the magnificent Palace structure being a beauty of its own kind.

Thiksey Monastery- [Open all days; 7am-7pm]

Thiksey Monastery
Auspicious symbols of Buddhism

As the name suggested Ladakh is a land of multiple monasteries so you will find miscellany of monasteries even while you are road tripping. Thiksey is one of the most beautiful monastery that we visited in Ladakh. It is a huge 12 storey structure and one of the main attraction of this monastery is the Maitreyi temple which was installed to commemorate visit of the 14th Dalai Lama. It is a Tibetan style monastery & it is also known as mini Patola.

Patthar Sahib Gurudwara

Patthar Sahib Gurudwara

Located just half hour away from the main city of Leh is the Gurudwara Patthar Sahib constructed in the memory of Guru Nanak. What makes this place the most special is that it is managed & taken care of by our own Indian Army. It is one of the most pious place located in the middle of nowhere but has such an important history associated with it. If you wish to give ur services in this Gurudwara you can by helping them in their daily routine work like doing dishes, keeping surroundings cleans, chopping vegetables or whatever you can do from your end. It is such a fascination and intriguing experience to find a well established Gurudwara in a buddhist dominate region. #IncredibleIndia 

Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill

This spot in Leh is a Unique attraction as it defies the laws of gravity which is      intriguing to a common man and hence a popular attraction. Ask your car driver to stop the car engine and then experience what happens next you can also enjoy ATV bike riding experience at this spot.

Sangam Point

Top view of Sangam Point

A seemingly breathtaking view of the confluence of the two mighty rivers of Leh. One being Zanskar and the other being Indus. It is a very unusually charismatic view as both the rivers have their respective identities and you can actually witness the confluence in real time.

You can go for a river rafting experience in Sangam point which can become a highlight of your Ladakh trip. You can visit Sangam Point on your way back from Magnetic Hill and Patthar Sahib Gurudwara.

River Rafting at Sangam Point

Hall of Fame Museum - [Open all days 9am-1pm; 2pm-7pm]

Hall of Fame
Letters from Family to our brave Indian Soldiers

As the Name suggests, hall of fame is a Museum extensively dedicated to the Indian Army and their glorious stories which you can experience through this museum and feel proud about the soldiers who selflessly serve our country with their extreme dedication and honesty.

      What can you explore in the museum;

  • Brave stories of Martyred Soldiers
  • Kargil war information
  • Separate dedicated galleries for Siachin soldiers and arms & ammunitions
  • Helicopters, fighter planes, Tanks
  • Soldier Army uniform
  • Letters received by soldiers from their family members

       There is a small billboard if you like to send message to our beloved soldiers you can surely do so. You can even interact with the soldiers and learn new things about them. It will definitely be an interesting experience.

Khardangla Pass

World's Highest Motorable Road
Khardungla Pass

If you’re starting to feel that driving on a normal well paved road is too basic and mainstream then you are ready to try the highest motorable road of the world. Yes we are talking about the Mighty Khardangla Pass which is a gateway to Shyok and Nubra Valley. it is an unusual experience in itself to drive through this path and it will make you feel that you have really accomplished something. LOL ! As you are amidst the snow caped mountains you can treat yourself with hot cups of tea, coffee or maggie.  

 

Try not to stay beyond 10-15 minutes as being on a high altitude the oxygen levels are low and it might give you a bad headache.

Nubra Valley

Cold Desert of Nubrfa
The Gateway to Nubra Valley

It is the highest altitude cold desert region of Ladakh which is almost about a distance of 150 kms from the town of Leh. It is one of the most barren yet astonishingly beautiful terrain of Ladakh. There are a very few such locations in the world with such large expanse of cold desert. This is a must visit place and will give you a memorable experience of a lifetime. When in Nubra you will have a different experience of staying in Tents as there no hotels at all as most of the time of the year the region is covered in snow. 

 

You can ride on the small sized camels on the sand dunes of this cold desert. We    recommend you to stay till the sunset as it will be one of the most stunning sunsets of your lifetime.

The scenic view of Nubra Valley
Unfiltered beauty of Nubra

Diskit Monastery

Maitreya Buddha
View from Diskit Monastery
Diskit Monastery

After you have experienced the cold desert you can head towards the Diskit Monastery also known as Diskit Gonpa. This is one of the largest and oldest Buddhist monasteries of the Nubra region. There is a huge 32 meters statue of the Maitreya Buddha near Diskit Monastery which faces towards the Shyok river flowing towards Pakistan.

This statue was primarily built to protect the Diskit village, to promote world peace and further avoid any wars with Pakistan.

Pangong Lake

The pristine blue waters of Pangong Tso
Some Bird Watching at Pangong Tso

One of the most popular bollywood movie has already given a boost of tourism to this unexplored region. Every Indian knows about this beautiful high grassland lake also known as Pangong Tso.

 

It is one of the largest salt water lake in the world of which 60% lies in China so you can imagine how close you are to China. There is no connectivity of any kind and you will be literally cut out from the hustle of outside world.

 

Do not expect any wifi connection and just try to immerse yourself in the scenic beauty. It is almost a 7 hour drive through the rough mountainous roads from Leh but when you see this mesmerising lake you will realise that the tiresome road journey was all worth it. The  spectacular lakeside is only open for tourism from the month of May to Spetember.

The path between Life and Death

This is our first blogpost in the Ladakh series. To read the second series click on The cultural extravagance of Ladakh, India !

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