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Friday, 20 April 2018

Friday, April 20, 2018

Visit to Padmanabhapuram Palace

Visit to Padmanabhapuram Palace
It was a pleasant experience for us visiting the Padmanabhapuram Palace which is located in Kanyakumari district, Tamilnadu. It was a family trip planned for a day during our vacation and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the historical monument and get to know the Travancore Kingdom. The Padmanabhapuram palace was built around 1601AD by then ruler Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal and then rebuilt by the King Marthanda Varma. Though this palace is situated within Tamilnadu state, it is owned and maintained by the Kerala Government. We spent about 5 hours going around the Padmanabhapuram Palace and listening to the briefing by the tourist’ guide within the palace. After seeing the rosewood carvings, sculptures we realized that the Padmanabhapuram palace is the true reflection of Kerala’s unique marvellous of architecture. There is no particular dress code required to visit this palace, but we need to leave our footwear outside.

Padmanabhapuram Palace Photos:

Location: Padmanabhapuram palace is located nearby a small town named ‘Thuckalay’, about 20 KM from Nagercoil in Kanyakumari district, Tamilnadu, India. This place ‘Padmanabhapuram’ is known as formal capital of Kingdom of Travancore.

How to reach: This palace is well connected by road from Nagercoil and Thiruvanathapuram via Thuckalay. The town Thuckalay is located on the Nagercoil and Thiruvanathapuram (Trivandrum) road.

  • Nearest Airport: Trivandrum International Airport, Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala (65 KM)
  • Nearest Railway station: Nagercoil (20 KM)
  • From Kanyakumari: 40 KM

Visiting Hours: 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM (No entry between 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM)

Holidays: Monday and all Indian National holidays

Entrance Fee:

Adult                                      - Rs. 35
Children (5 – 12 years)        - Rs. 10
Adult (Foreign National)      - Rs. 300
Children (Foreign National) - Rs. 100
Camera                                   - Rs. 50
Video Camera                        - Rs. 2500

Languages Spoken: Tamil, Malayalam and English are widely known languages

Weather: Average Temperature in a year ranging from 22 °C to 30 °C (December is the coldest and May is the hottest)

Accommodation: Various hotels and resorts available in all budgets around Nagercoil, Kanyakumari, Marthandam and Thiruvanathapuram.

Key features:

This palace is known for the traditional Kerala style architecture with rosewood carvings interiors. The beauty of this historic marvel attracts tourists from all part of the World to witness the complex wooden structures, design and style of bygone Kingdom era. This palace consists of large halls, big rooms filled with brass lamps, Chinese jars, weapons and antique wooden furniture. 

The entrance of this palace has a triangular arch which leads to other areas named Mantrasala, Natakasala, Thai Kottaram and Central Mansion.

Mantrasala – This is one of the beautiful chambers in the palace, with attractive carvings all over the room. The King takes important decisions from this chamber along with his ministers. This chamber has pleasant breeze with fresh air, the specially designed windows keeps the dust and heat away. The ceiling and beams in this chamber has fine carvings all over. 

Natakasala – This is the performance hall from where King and guest sit and watch the artist’s performance. This hall has shiny black floor, and wooden area on the top with peep holes on it. Those days the women are not allowed to come to performance hall, they sit and watch the performance through this holes attached to this wooden area.

Thai Kottaram – The oldest structure in the palace built with nalukettu style structure. The key attraction in this room is a pillar made up of single wood with fine engravings all around.

Central Mansion – This is the four storey structure well connected with each other by wooden steps. The ground floor is the royal treasury, first floor has King’s bedroom, second floor is study room and the top floor is the worship chamber. The cot in the King’s bedroom is made up of 64 types of medicinal and herbal woods.

The rare exhibits in this palace are Kuthirakaran Vilakku (Horseman lamp), a Chinese chair presented to the King by the visitors, a room filled with Chinese jars gifted by Chinese merchants, brass lamps, stone and wood sculptures, large mirrors, gallery of paintings, polished stone cot and a clock tower named Manimalika which still keeps the time even after 300+ years

This is one of the must visit place to experience the culture of Indian Kingdom in previous era, good to add in your itinerary if you are planning for a trip to India.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Blossom Hydel Park, Munnar

Blossom Hydel Park in Munnar
Blossom Park, also known as Hydel Park is one of the beautiful attractions in Munnar, spread across 16 acres of green land. It has beautiful lawn, plants and flowers all around. There is a channel on the sideways of this Park, the water flow in this channel adds beauty to this garden. The Blossom Hydel park has a walk way around to have a pleasant evening walk for the visitors, it has a children play area for the kids to have a good time. This garden has greenly stunning view all around.

The Blossom Hydel Park in Munnar has one of the oldest PowerStation, but unfortunately it’s not working now. The Pallivasal Hydro Electric Project is located near this Hydel Park. During season time, flower show conducted in this Park. There is a fish aquarium located within this park, visitors can enjoy seeing different breed of fishes. 

Location: Blossom Hydel Park is located about 3 KM from the Munnar town on the way to Cochin, near the Muthirappuzha River.

Place to relax after visiting the park: There is a Coffee Day restaurant within this campus for refreshment. Tourist can buy homemade sweets, wooden toys, Kerala Saree, bags, Tea packets etc. in the shop nearby.

Best time to visit:September - March.

Timings - Opening & Closing: 9.00 AM - 7.00 PM

Entry Fee: Rs. 30/- per person, camera fee extra and separate car parking fee to the park.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Honey Bee Tree, Munnar

Honey Bee Tree in Munnar
Honey Bee Tree is one of the key attractions in Munnar. It is located on the way to Mattupetty approximately 4 KM from Munnar town. It is a big tree, having many beehives hanging from multiple branches. It is one of the must visit place during Munnar vacation. As it is located on the main road, tourist finds it easy to stop over for about 30 minutes to enjoy this place and take photos. 

This huge Honey Bee Tree has more than 70 Beehives hanging from top of the tree. There are many trees nearby, but there are no Beehives in them. Though there is no proven reason why this tree attracts thousands of bees, someone said that it is because of the aroma of the flowers in that tree. This reason could be wrong, not sure. This place is one of the good view points to spend time during Munnar vacation.

The Honey Bee Tree is one of the interesting places to visit during Munnar vacation to enjoy with family and friends

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Madras Crocodile Bank, Chennai

Crocodile Park
The Madras Crocodile Bank is a best suitable place for a weekend trip from Chennai. It is located 45 KM (25 miles) from Chennai, 15 KM north of Mahabalipuram a tourist attraction on the East Coast Road (ECR) in Tamilnadu, India. It will take about an hour travel by road to reach this place from Chennai, comfortable distance for a weekend trip with family and friends. It is located at the coastal land nestled with natural forest environment. This coastal line has large breeding place for water birds and sea turtles. The Madras Crocodile Bank plays a very important role in spreading awareness on the ecological benefits of crocodiles. This is one of the largest reptile zoos in the World and Asia’s first crocodile breeding center. The Madras Crocodile Bank was created with an objective to safe guard three crocodile species namely, saltwater crocodile, gharial and mugger crocodiles. The Gharial is also known as gavial, it is a fish eating crocodile and Mugger crocodile is also known as Marsh crocodile. Initially, the Crocodile Bank was built as a repository of crocodiles for safe grooming with protection and later released to wild environment. Over a period of time, releasing crocodiles into wild habitat was stopped due to lack of suitable environment. After years of crocodile protection, Crocodile Bank expanded with Lizards, Snakes and Turtles. This Crocodile bank is more than a zoo, best place for crocodile conservation, breeding, safe guarding and research. This is also known as Crocodile Park as it has large scale of crocodile collections.

Crocodile Bank has more than 2500 reptiles from all around the World. It has wide collections of crocodiles and alligators. From the beginning, there were thousands of crocodiles released back to the wild, sent to zoos across the World. It is home to variety of crocodile species which are kept in bunches in separate open ponds, it is very rare to see them moving around. But, when a staff throws a piece of meat we can see the activeness of these crocodiles. It is awesome to see the way it catches the food from the feeder. The key attraction is the giant crocodile ‘Jaw’ which is a ‘must see’ in this Crocodile Bank. This famous celebrity is the largest crocodile in captivity, in India may be in the World. It first arrived into the Crocodile Bank in 1976, first few years it looks normal then outgrown in size. The authorities kept ‘Jaws’ in a separate pond due to its’ size and strength. Visitors can watch the feeding session for this Jaw at 4:30 PM on Sundays. The Crocodile feeding session should not be missed by the visitors; it is on Sundays at 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 4:30 PM and 5:00 PM. It will be good if you can visit during Crocodile Park feeding time to enjoy the trip. The Crocodile Bank’s experts provide weekend guided tour with presentations on crocodiles and other reptiles.
Watch Madras Bank

Though this Crocodile Bank originally started with conservation objective for crocodiles, it becomes weekend spot now. Visitors will get interactive experience in guided tours organized by Crocodile Bank officials, can gather interesting information about these species, it is a great place for research students. No one should miss the Snake Venom center located in the Crocodile Bank where they demonstrate the venom extraction which is used for making anti-venom medicine. It is a spine chilling experience to see the deadly poisonous snakes are handled at ease by professionals. This Crocodile Bank also conducts education programmes for school children, environment enthusiasts and do village trip, field camps on a regular basis. Also, it serves as a large natural laboratory for research students to study the behaviour, features, breeding of the reptiles within close range.

Visiting Time - 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM (Monday Holiday)

Crocodile Park Entry Fee - For Adult Rs. 50 and for Children below 10 years Rs. 30

Night Safari - Tuesday to Sunday (Booking required) - 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Night Safari Entry Fee - For Adult Rs. 200 and for Children below 10 years Rs. 100

Location -East Coast Road (ECR), 45 KM from Chennai on the way to Mahabalipuram, Tamilnadu, India.

How to engage with Madras Crocodile Bank, Chennai:

Apart from visiting this Crocodile Bank, if you love reptiles, you can engage with them in multiple ways. If you are interested in any of the below, you can connect with Crocodile Bank’s authorities for the application.

Volunteer Program: This is for enthusiasts who is 18 years and above. Volunteer gets an opportunity to work throughout the Zoo on various tasks. There are many ongoing interesting projects in which you can get engaged. Dormitory (shared) style accommodation, Indian food are provided for the volunteers. Crocodile Bank welcomes volunteers with minimum 2 – 4 weeks duration.

Docent Program: This is a long term engagement with Madras Crocodile Bank. In this program, they teach the participants on all basic skills required for the conservation of reptiles. If anyone aged above 18 years, staying around this Crocodile Bank within 50 KM and can spend at least one day in a month can join this program.

Film Making: Crocodile Bank offers best environment for wildlife documentary and films. It acts as a facilitator for various production companies. If you are interested to take documentary film on wildlife reptiles, connect with them to get a schedule.

Donate: The wildlife enthusiast can engage with Crocodile Bank by offering donation to support their conservation and operational goals.

Adopt a Reptile: If you find any favourite reptile in the Crocodile Bank, you can adopt them. The reptile continues to live in the zoo, but your support will help to maintain them and conservation.
Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mahabalipuram, Tamilnadu

Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram is one of the ancient historic places in Tamilnadu, India which attracts tourist from all over the World.

Mahabalipuram was a seventh century port city of the South Indian dynasty ruled by the Pallavas kingdom.  It’s located around 60 KM south of Chennai in Tamilnadu, India. It is believed that it has been named after the Pallava King ‘Mamalla’. There are many cave temples, chariots, sculptures and structural Temples in Mahabalipuram. The pillars are derived from the Dravidian culture. The sculptures are excellent examples of Pallava art. It has various historic monuments mostly rock-cut sculptures across the town. Mahabalipuram has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Important structures to see in Mahabalipuram:
  • Cave Temple
  • Elephant creatures
  • Varaha cave Temple
  • Pancha Rathas
  • Shore Temple
Weather: Winter (Nov to Feb) is the good time to visit Mahabalipuram. Though it’s raining sometimes, winter is the best time to visit comparing to hot summer weather (March to May). The minimum temperature during winter is 16°C and maximum temperature in summer is 42°C making it very hot and difficult to go out in summer.

Language spoken: Tamil and English are widely known language in Mahabalipuram.

How To Reach Mahabalipuram: Chennai is the nearest metro city for Mahabalipuram. It is well connected by road along Bay of Bengal coastal.

Air: Chennai (60-km) is the nearest airport with both domestic and international terminals. Chennai is well connected with most of the cities in India by domestic flights and trains. There are International flights operating from various parts of the World to Chennai. From Airport, it will take one hour to reach Mahabalipuram by road.

Rail: The nearest railway stations are Chengalpattu (29-km) and Chennai (60-km).

Road: Buses are available from Pondicherry, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu and Chennai to Mahabalipuram. The travel in the Bay of Bengal coastal road from Chennai to Mahabalipuram is a pleasant experience. Tourists can hire a taxi from Chennai, Chengalpet.

Accommodation in Mahabalipuram: There are many hotels and resorts available in Mahabalipuram in all budgets to serve wide range of Tourists. Taj Fisherman's Cove, GRT Temple Bay, Mamalla Beach Resort, Quality Inn MGM Beach Resort, and Ideal Beach Resort are well known resorts in Mahabalipuram.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Weekend trip to Pondicherry

Weekend trip to Pondicherry
Pondicherry, now known as Puducherry is one of the amazing tourist places in India for peaceful vacation. It will take 3 hours to reach Pondicherry from Chennai by road. It will be a pleasant experience to travel by the East Coast Road from Chennai as there are many eye catching sightseeing spots on the way. Muttukadu boathouse, Dakshinachitra, Mahabalipuram – UNESCO World heritage site, and Crocodile Park are some of the well known tourist spots located on this route. It is highly recommended to visit Pondicherry if you are touring India.

Pondicherry is situated on the Bay of Bengal coastal, about 160 KM south of Chennai. It was ruled by French for 300 years. The history says, Pondicherry was the place of many battles between the British and the French and it was the capital of French in India. This attractive, former French colony, still allure everyone by its straight and clean streets, beautiful traditional houses, wonderful gardens and hospitality served in hotels. When walking through the streets in this city, we can realize the French influence still exist here.

In Pondicherry, there are many places to visit such as Sri Aurobindo Ashram which is famous for peace and meditation, Auroville – the universal town where people all around the World lives here with peace and unity. It’s wonderful to see how beautiful this place and how people working together without any differences. It has beautiful beach, can see people relaxing in the evening after day’s hard work. It has lot of restaurants along the beach to enjoy food and drinks. Pondicherry has many Churches, the “Church of The Sacred Heart of Jesus” built by French Missionaries in the 1700’s is the old Church in this city.

Weather: Summer in Pondicherry starts from March and it goes till July. The temperature goes up to 42 C during this period. From July to November, it is Monsoon season, good time to enjoy Pondicherry in rainy weather. Winter season starts from December and goes through February, the temperature might drops to 17 C in winter.

Languages spoken: Tamil is the widely spoken language, and tourist can manage with English as well. French, English, and Tamil are known languages in Pondicherry.

Reaching Pondicherry: Pondicherry is the capital city of Union Territory of Puducherry, located in southern part of India. It is well connected by rail and road from Chennai, Tamilnadu. Chennai has both domestic and International terminals, flights available from all over the World.

Accommodation: There are plenty of hotels and beach resorts available in Pondicherry for accommodation ranging from budget to luxury. It is always good to book the hotel in advance to ensure the availability.

Must see places: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville, French War Memorial, Pondicherry Museum.

Pondicherry is a must visit place for those looking for peaceful vacation

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Vacation in Munnar, Kerala

Munnar Vacation
Vacation in Munnar is a pleasant experience, it is one of the amazing hill stations where we can enjoy the chill climate midst of clouds throughout the year. Munnar is located at the Idukki district of Kerala State in South India. Munnar attracts honeymoon couples and tourists all through the year. Munnar is a perfect place for a vacation during long weekend. Its’ greenery nature, cool refreshing air, marvellous sceneries mesmerize everyone to enjoy their vacation. The word "Munnar" means three rivers flowing together in a place; it’s in the mid of three mountains namely, Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. It was one of the summer resorts for the British Government in South India. Munnar is located 1600 meter above sea level in the range of Western Ghats Mountains. Munnar has been fully covered with sprawling tea plantations, waterfalls, cloudy trekking locations. Munnar is one of the major centers for Tea Plantations in India. Neelakurinji flower is one of the attractions in Munnar which blossoms once in twelve years. Anamudi in Munnar region is the highest peak in South India which is about 2695 meter high from sea level.

Best Time to Visit Munnar: Tourist can visit Munnar throughout the year except June – July as there will be heavy rain during this period. Best season to visit Munnar is August through March. The weather is extremely cold during winter, December and January. This is the best time to visit for those who love trekking. Nevertheless, Tourists recognised Munnar as an all season destination for vacation.

Weather: Munnar has pleasant weather all through the year, temperature ranging from 0°C to 10°C in winter and 15°C - 28°C in summer.

Shopping: There are plenty of shops in Munnar to buy natural spices, oils, tea and homemade chocolates.

Places to see in Munnar:

  • Tata Tea Museum – Located 2 Km from Munnar Centre on the Nallathany Road – Tourist can see the Tea machineries, tea processing and tea tasting in this museum.
  • Blossom International Park at Munnar – Beautiful garden
  • Marayoor Sandalwood forest
  • Anamudi – One of the highest peaks of South India, great place for adventurous trekking.
  • Rajamalai (Eravikulam National Park) – Good place for Trekking
  • Chinnar Wild Sanctuary – Place to see Elephants from the watch tower
  • Mattupetty – Boating in Mattupetty dam, beautiful place
Places located on the Mattupetty direction:

Photo Point: This is one of the amazing places nearby Munnar surrounded by Tea plantations, best suitable for photo shoot. It is located just 2 KM from Munnar town.

Echo Point: There is a small Lake surrounded by hills in this place. If you make any loud sound from a spot on this lake it will be echoed multiple times from the hills around this lake. Tourists enthused to call their loved ones from this place. It is located about 15 KM from Munnar town.

Kundala Lake: Tourist can hire pedal or row boat to go around this lake, it is surrounded by scenic nature. It will be good to spend 30 – 60 minutes on the boating, will give you memorable experience. This place located around 20 KM from Munnar town.

Top Station: This is on the Kerala and Tamilnadu border, where we can feel the clouds around us, a chilling experience. It has amazing view on the Western Ghats. It is located about 35 KM from Munnar town, car, jeep can be hired to visit this place.

Mattupetty Dam: It is located about 10 KM from Munnar town, best place to visit with children. This is one of the popular outing spot in Munnar where we can go for boating, horse riding. It has good scenic view around.

Flower Garden: There are varieties of plants maintained here in Flower Garden. It is one of the beautiful places for photography in Munnar. We can feel the mesmerising aroma when walk around this garden, must see place during Munnar vacation. It is located just 2 KM from Munnar town.

Elephant Safari: Children loves this place, there are about 6 – 8 Elephants available for a ride with an entry fee per person. During season, there will be more crown, good to pre-book for the Elephant safari.

Jungle Honey Bee Nest: In this place, there are multiple honey hives on a single tree. Nobody knows the reason why bees choosing this tree, but looks amazing to see these bee nests.

Places located on the Kochi (Cochin) direction:

Blossom Park (Hydel Park): This is located just about 1 KM from Munnar town. It is a greenery park with good walk way to go around, tourist can spend 45 – 60 minutes during their visit to Hydel park.

Pothamedu Viewpoint: It is an amazing place, located about 5 KM from Munnar town, it has beautiful view amid of passing clouds. Pothamedu Viewpoint is an excellent place for photographers as it has wonderful scenic view surrounded by Tea and Cardamom plantations. There are many resorts available in Pothamedu, staying here for a vacation gives you a pleasant experience.

Spice Garden: In this place, there are multiple spices plants like cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cardamom etc. It is a good place to visit to know more about these natural species and its health benefits.

Attukal Water Falls: This place is a scenic beauty where tourist can enjoy the falls going through the jungle. It is located about 10 KM from Munnar town.

Other Places to visit:

Kolukkumalai: It is located around 7100 feet above sea level, the Tea estate located here is the World’s highest Tea plantation. Tourist can visit this place by hiring a Jeep, it is located around 30 KM from Munnar town and it takes around 60 minutes to reach this place. It has excellent view with clouds passing by, a must visit place in Munnar. There is an old Tea factory functioning in Kolukkumalai where visitors can try different taste of tea and buy them from a sales outlet.

Anamudi Peak: It is home to large number of Asian Elephants, Nilgiri Tahrs, Gaurs, located about 8800 feet from sea level. Anamudi peak also known as Anai Mudi peak is the highest point in India outside Himalayas. It is a greed forest, good place for trekking. The entry point is the Eravikulam National Park, we need to get permission from authorities for trekking.

Eravikulam National Park: This park spread over 97 square kilemeters, has largest number of Nilgiri Thar, which is also known as mountain goat. This park has wonderful view among tea plantation by passing clouds. Eravikulam National Park is one of the must see places during Munnar vacation. This park closed from February to March every year primarily for the breeding program of Nilgiri Thar. It is located about 13 KM from Munnar town.

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary: This is located in Kerala adjourning Tamilnadu, a protected location in the Western Ghats. It has diverse ecological system with varieties of plants home for deer, gaur, elephant, crocodile, tiger, and many birds. This is located around 50 KM from Munnar town on the way to Udumalpet.

Tata Tea Museum: This Tea museum owned and maintained by Kanan Devan Hills Plantations (KDHP), located around 2 KM from Munnar town. This is good place to visit and spend 2 – 3 hours to know about Tea processing and history of Tata Tea factory. They show a short video to highlight the history of Munnar and the development of Tea plantation from early years.

Marayoor Sandalwood Forest: There are see naturally grown sandalwood trees in large numbers in this forest. Tourist can enjoy natural caves, remaining footage of Stone Age civilisation, Sandalwood factory owned by Forest Department of Kerala. This is located about 40 KM from Munnar town on the way to Udumalpet.

Language spoken: Malayalam, Tamil, and English widely known language

How to reach Munnar:
  • Air: The nearest airport is Cochin – 110 KM from Munnar – Around 4 Hours journey by road. The Madurai & Coimbatore Airports are at 165 KM, takes 4 hours by road.
  • Rail: The nearest railway station is Ernakulam – 125 KM from Munnar – 4 Hours journey by road. The Aluva Railway station located at 110 KM, takes around 3 hours by Road.
  • Road: 160 KM from Madurai; 280 KM from Thiruvananthapuram; 80 KM from Theni; 100 KM from Thekkaady; 165 KM from Kodaikanal and 160 KM from Coimbatore
Accommodation in Munnar: There are plenty of hotels and resorts available in Munnar in all budgets to meet the needs of wide range of tourists. The price starts as low as Rs 500 per day. It will be good to book the hotel in advance before coming to Munnar as the price will shoot up during peak season.

By having a vacation in Munnar, we can enjoy wonderful views, breathing clear and unpolluted air, relaxing environment in amazing location amid nature. It will be a memorable experience for years to come.