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The Indian subcontinent has intrigued the outside world for centuries. The vastness and varied, terrain has been home to diverse cultures each with their unique characteristics
There are numerous destinations to discover all over the country but a few have been highlighted as follow.
LADAKH/NUBRA-
There have been many descriptions for Ladakh such as The Last Shangrila, Moon Land. Little Tibet and so on. Each one rings true. This is also the valley of the great Indus. Recognized as the best trade route between the Punjab an Central Asia. For centuries it was traversed by caravans carrying textiles and spices, raw silk and carpets, dyestuffs and narcotics. There are two land routes into Ladakh, one from Srinagar via Darcha to Leh. En route via the secord route one can also visit the picturesque Tsomoriri, Pangong Tso (14,500ft) and Tsokar (14,500ft)
Lakes. The Pangong Tso stretcher over 160 km out of which one third is in India and rest in Tibet.

Driving for Leh over the Khardungha Pass (18,280 ft), the highest motor able pass in the world, one enters the exotic Nubra valley. This stark and barren valley of the river Shyok is home to the rare double hump camels.
The innumerable and fascinating monasteries of Ladakh include Sankar, Spituk, Phyang, Shey, Thiksey, Hemis, Stakhna,Mahto Stok Likhir, Lamayura, Mulbek and many others. There are some exotic festivals linked to these monasteries.
The more you explore this region, the more you discover.
The incredible vastness of Ladakh with is treasure chest is truly fascinating for the intrepid traveler and becones his explorer instincts.
ZANSKAR: THE HIDDEN VALLEY
Called the hidden kingdom, the valley of the Suru river meets the mighty Indus at Kargil. On the other extremity of the valley, the Zanskar river meets the Indus near Nimu in the Ladakh valley.
The region is a trekkers paradise with routes connecting Kashmir, Ladakh, and Spiti valleys. The road route runs from Kargil via Rangdum Gompa to Padum which is the main town and hub of the Zanskar valley.
Zanskar is remote and open to road travel for 5 mouths in the year and hence remains un spoilt. Once again the stark mountains provides an ever changing landscape and you can go shutter crazy.
The major monasteries in the valley include Karsha, Sani, Phey, Zangla and Ringdom. The view of the Drung Drung glacier from the Penzila pass, the geteway to Zanskar, is over powering.
LAHUL AND SPITI VALLEYS:
The two valley of Lahul and Spiti are accessed by two routes One from Shimla up along the Satluj river to Chhota Dara and over the 2690 mtrs pass into the Lahul valley or the valley of the Candra river. On entering the valley the Chandra one route turns off at Gramphoo for the Rohtang Pass (3980 mtrs) to Manali and Kullu. The other route continues along the river to Tandi, the confluence of the Chandra and the Dhoga river to form the Chenab.
The region is home to a fascinating blend of Hinduism and Buddhism but the numerous Buddhist Monasteries are evident in their grandeur.

The Spiti valley includes the Gemur and Khardong Gompa.
The region has stark and dramatic landscape with quaint villages perched on the steep slopes and vegetation is rare. The dramatic combination of the natural features is over powering. The region is a favourite for the trekking enthusiasts as well as high altitude safaris.
TAWANG-PRIDE OF ARUNACHAL-
The famous Tamang monastery is Asia’s second largest and is over 400 years old. It exercises control over 17 monasteries in the region of the Gelngpa sect of Buddhism. Located at an altitude of 10,000ft it was constructed by the same workers who created the Patola in Tibet.

The route to this remote mountain Shangrila commences from Tezupr. The journey is fascinating as it climbs along the Kameng river to Bomdila. The river is an anglers paradise and the lush vegetation of the forests provides
sanctuary for exotic flora and wildlife. The route continues to Dirang and then across the Sela Pass (14000ft) the road enters the Tawang Valley.

There are numerous monasteries, high altitude lakes waterfalls hot springs and colour full mountain tribes who inhabit the area. Unlike the western Himalayas, the eastern Himalayas have lush vegetation and a landscape further dramatized by low clouds and mist. The region was earlier closed to foreign visitor but permits are issued readily. Tawang is truly a Shangrila in the Himalayas
CHERRAPUNJEE: THE WETTEST PLACE ON EARTH-
Can one imagine 12,000 mm of rain all between May and September (5 months). It can even wet your bones. However visiting this abode of the clouds one does not need to get drenched. The ideal time to visit is after end September.
Located in 56 km form Shillong in Meghalaya state, the hills of Cherrapunjee (3000ft to 46000ft) overlook the northern plains of Bangladesh. With ideal conditions for flora the region has abundant rare
plants and orchids. There are numerous waterfalls and lime stone caves waiting to be explored. The major waterfalls include Kynrem, Noh ka Lika, Noh Sugi Thiang, and Dain Thlen. The caves of Cherrapunjee at Mawasmai and Mawmluh are easily approachable. Due to the heavey rains, the small rivulets turn in to roring torrents and the locals have constructed interesting suspension bridges out of rope, cable and bamboo to cross them.

Besides nature, the local tribals are very hospitable and with strong cultural traditions. The Khasi and Garo people are found of music and celebration. The Khasi’s are extremely well orientated to western music. The major festivals include the Shed Suk Mynsiem (dance of the joy full hearts) during Oct ant Nov and Nugkrem during early Nov The region has many more fascinating points of interest.
SUNDERBANS-THE MAGNIFICENT DELTA:
The famous river Brahmaputra has its origins in Tibet and finally enters the bay of Bengal in a massive river delta covering 4262 sq km. This maze of water ways and forested islands is the largest riverine estuary in the world. The lush mangrove forests provide a perfect habitat for the Royal Bengal Tiger and a large numbers of other wild life species. The huge estuarine crocodiles can also be seen sunning on the sand banks.

The region is accessed from Calcutta by road and water transport. The wast wilderness can be explored by comfortable luxury launches combined with local country boats for the narrower water ways. The region is also famous for abundant prawns,crabs and fish. The unique honey collectors of the Sunderbans are well known as they wear masks behind their heads to ward off the Royal Bengal Tigers. Sunderbans is a World Heritage Biosphere Reserve A treat for the nature lover.
JAISALMER THE DESERT SHANGRILA
The visions of remote civilisations tucked away from the real world around us. Such dreams turn to reality when one travels and arrive at this fascinating city. The first to appear on the horizon out of the haze is the majestic fort perched on the Trikuta Hill. The rest of the city emerges gradually out of the sand like a ghost town as you get closer.

This amber-hued city was constructed in 1156 in the heart of the desert, dazzles gloriously in the early morning. The sunset has a peculiar glow
here. As the night descends, the sky goes up in flames, which fade leaving a few embers, till it becomes black. A breathtaking sight indeed.

Jaisalmer is famous for cobbled streets, strewn with temples and havelis. Every house here is exquisitely carved, having filigreed work all over. There houses date back to 12th -15th century. And hence Jaisalmer is called the Museum City. The older part of the city has exquisite marvels of stone, carvings unparalleled anywhere in Rajasthan. The Jaali, screens and Jharokhas are exquisite and the notable buildings include the Jaisalmer fort , Salim Singh Ke haveli Nathmalji ki Haveli, and the Jain temples. Each of these buildings deserve individual and special mention. There is so much to explore around the city and include the Gadsisar Lake, Gyan Bhandar, the Wood Fossil Park, Desert National Park, Lodurva and the famous Sam Sand Dunes
RANN OF KUTCH-
The little Rann of Kutch which covers an area of roughly 5,000 squarer kilometers is primarily known as the Indian wild ass sanctuary. The sanctuary is the last natural habitat of the Indian Wild Ass (Equus Hemionus Khur) with the Khur- one of the three surviving species of wild ass in the world the other two being found in central Asia and in the list of endangered species Only 1,800 to 2,000 such animals survive today.
Besides wild ass, the sanctuary is home to a host of other animals and nearly 350 different species of birds-including the common crane, pelican and the lesser flamingo. Apart from the wild life one can also get a rare insight into the lifestyles of the numerous ethnic groups and local tribes which live in and around the Rann. The important ones being the Kolis, Rabans, Bajanias, Kutchis, Gujjars and the Bharvads. The Rabaris basically a nomadic tribe who crisscross northwest India in search of grazing pastures, have adapted themselves to the Hindu culture. Though originally a caste of camel breeders, they now keep only a few beasts for transportation.35 per cent of India’s total salt is produced in the Rann of Kutch which was once submerged under the sea. The land still has very high salt content and becomes a large expanse of wet marshland during the monsoons.

LAKSHADWEEP Right from the awesome silence of pristine, untouched waters to the quintessential oceanic flora and fauna, the archipelago offers several exciting features.
Lakshadweep is tucked away 200-400 km off the Malabar coast of India and offers a prestigious heritage of ecology and culture. The unique feature being the coral reef, making it a pristine leisure spot covering 4200 sq km of lagoon, rich in marine wealth is spread over 36 islands in an area of 32 sq km. The underwater view at Lakshadweep is kaleidoscopic and breathtaking. The lagoon offers excellent potential for swimming, wind surfing, diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. The world “Lakshadweep” means 1,00,000 islands, in Malayalam and Sanskrit. Each island is fringed by snow white coral sands, these are marked by huge shallow, calm lagoon on the inner side which separates it from incoming swells of the outer sea by the fort wall like reef made of massive coral boulders and live corals.

The Lakshadweep archipelago has 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 6 submerged banks. Underwater life is abundant and marvelous. Gracefully swimming from place to place are butterfly fishes resembling butterflies in the under water garden. Surgeon fishes of myriad hues, damselfishes, porcupine fishes, puffer fishes, moray eels and octopus coexist. Slow moving sea cucumbers, shelled moll uses, hermit crasbs, lobsters and shrimps co habit amongst the reefs.

Agatti, Minicioy, Bangaram, Kadmat, Kavaratti and Kalpeni are the tourist islands on the archipelago. Agatti, located 459 km from Cochin, is 6 km long and 1000 m wide.
These islands are a continuation of the Maldives and are not developed.They have remained pristine and unexploited by tourists. There are flights from Trivandrum to Bangaraam.

 
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