Amazing Destinations for the Hippie in You

27 November  |  Listicles

The backpacker lifestyle is all about freedom and experimentation, as you celebrate the world’s different cultures and landscapes in your adventures and interactions. In the 21st century, the image of a backpacker has changed from the rebels of capitalism to the regular you-and-me, and we all have that hippie in us, waiting to get unleashed. Here are some top Indian destinations – ideal for a hippie experience.

  1. Varkala

Image Source: tripoto.com

The cliffs of Varkala are a defining feature of this seaside town in Kerala. It has abundant history and a trip to Anjengo Fort is recommended. Apart from a tranquil seaside experience, you can also venture into the backwaters and coastal lakes to witness some unique eco-systems. Take a peek at some rare marine life at the Varkala Aquarium.

  1. Allepey

Allepey or Alapuzzha provides the curious explorer with a miscellany of experiences. The region is famed for its backwaters and beaches, along with many cultural landmarks that chronicle its rich history. A trip in an Allepey boat house is a must, as you sit back and meander over the gentle waters of the picturesque Kumarakom Lake.

  1. Kodaikanal

There are many interesting places to visit in Kodaikanal, a high-altitude nestled in the blue peaks of the Nilgiris. Soak in some quaint colonial vibes in the main town and enjoy exploring the Coaker’s Walk and the panoramic views it offers. Kodaikanal town is dotted with many eateries and cafes. Berijam Lake is another beautiful spot, just outside the town.

  1. Hampi

 A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ruins of Hampi is part of a surreal landscape that includes some of the greatest temple architecture in South India with the backdrop of the Tungabhadra River. Some of the places to visit in Hampi include Virupaksha Temple complex, the Hemakuta hill monuments and Ganagitti Jain temples.

  1. Gokarna

Beaches, sun, culture and a global crowd – this and more waits for you in Gokarna, located just south of Goa on Karnataka’s coastline. From hikes in the rugged seaside hills and relaxing on Gokarna Beachto jaunts into the less explored areas in the area, Gokarna has a unique natural charm about it.

  1. McLeodGanj

If you are looking for some Zen in your life, then a visit to the monasteries of McLeodganj is warranted. The town is home to the leaders of the Tibetan diaspora in India, and a magnet for backpackers from across the world. Many come to experience the Himalayan nature trails of the region.

  1. Kasol

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A riverside village in the lap of the western Himalayas, Kasol is a tapestry of cosmopolitan crowds, pristine natural beauty, psychedelic experiences and adventure activities. From the scenic Kheerganga trek to a trip to the famous village of Malana, Kasol is the perfect base for your Himachal Hippie experience.

The backpacker routes of India are expanding and the amenities and experiences are only getting better. It is time to make your list and call your friends but while you plan your personal hippie trail, there are some resorts near Bangalore where you can catch a breather from the conference rooms and the cubicles. Step into nature at jungle resorts in Kabini, or visit vineyards and breathe mountain air at a Nandi Hills resort. Start planning.

Tips to Plan an Unforgettable Weekend Getaway

27 November  |  Adventure & Travel

Nothing rejuvenates like a mini-vacation. Bangalore is a great place to be if you want to catch up on some new destinations. Maybe your boss is not going to give you a month’s leave but there are more than enough weekend getaways from Bangalore, perfectly squeezed between a frantic Friday deadline and a late Monday login. For those who want to stay close to the city, resorts in Nandi Hills provide a convenient retreat while Kerala, Coorg and Tamil Nadu have an abundance of destinations. Whatever you decide – there are some simple tips you should keep in mind.

Pick a Place that Speaks to You

Have you been binging on those NatGeo specials on the forests of India? Or are you a history buff? A destination that reflects your personality or interests will provide a very enriching experience. Rather than try to cover a dozen attractions, find that one landmark which you can build an entire weekend around. Plenty of weekend getaways near Bangalore offer myriad experiences – whether you are browsing Masinagudi resorts or looking up the temples of Hampi – choose a theme that is close to your heart.

#airplanemode

It may be one of the best inventions ever but the smartphone is also one of the most intrusive gadgets in our lives. Do you really want your Gokarna sunsets interrupted by some Whatsapp forward from your conspiracy theory loving uncle? Your boss can get someone else to fix that excel financial report, not you while you are enjoying a trek in the Nilgiris. Click on that airplane mode feature and use your phone as a camera – after all, isn’t that one of the main reasons we buy these things.

Bring a Travel Buddy (or a Few!)

Travelling is usually more fun in a group so it is always advised to rope in a like-minded travel buddy or a bunch of friends. Set some rules for the trip – respect each other’s spaces and choices while also venturing on some activities together. This way, you get the best of both worlds – great bonding with friends and some introspective moments too.

Take a Road Trip by Car or Bike

As clichéd as it may sound, the journey is indeed where half the fun lies. A trip to Coorg isn’t just about that pandi curry in Madikeri; it is also about the gentle climb into the verdant mountains. Likewise, the open countryside as you head off to Pondicherry or the swaying palms of Kerala as the backwaters beckon are equally scenic and joy-filled as the journey’s end. Skip the chauffeured experience and rent a car or ride a bike. Weekend trips can be filled with discoveries, detours and impromptu adventures rather than just being an A to B transit. There are many places you can explore on a road trip from Bangalore, from the Kabini resorts for a wild experience to the ramparts of Tranquebar for a more offbeat one.

Keep Luggage Light

A lot of us love to be extra prepared for all the scenarios of a vacation, but if that translates into inflated luggage you will get bogged down. It is just one weekend – you probably need one extra set of clothes and a few essentials. The last thing you want to worry about while setting off for your day hike into the mountains of Agumbe is your heavy luggage. Also, you may shop – keep some space in the bag.

Long vacations are few and far between but it is the weekend trips that give us the breathers we deserve. Plan your trip well and you will have a hassle-free and memorable experience.

Must-see International Borders

20 November  |  Listicles

India dominates the sub-continent but our neighbouring countries also offer their own unique cultures and experiences, some shared across borders. We see these borders as dotted lines on maps, a result of political negotiations and cultural generalisations. Take a physical trip to the real borders of India and catch a glimpse at life in these fascinating transit points.

  1. Jaigaon–Phuentsholing

It is common for residents of Assam’s border villages to step across to Bhutan for a picnic or two, but the main India Bhutan border crossing lies in Phuntsholing – the border counterpart to the West Bengal town of Jaigaon. Despite being just a matter of metres, the well organised and quiet Bhutanese town a contrast to the typical Indian buzz of Jaigaon. Indians do not need complex paperwork to enter Bhutan, so you can enjoy a peek into one of the most isolated countries in the world.

  1. Rann of Kutch

The Rann of Kutch is a desolate eco-system that is part of the Thar Desert and falls on the border with Pakistan’s Sindh province. The Rann becomes a wet salty marshland during the monsoon months and is home to some rare species. It is a breeding area for flamingos and also provides habitat to the greatly endangered Indian Wild Ass. The international border falls on the northern part of the Rann of Kutch.

  1. Dawki

Image Source: tripoto.com

India shares a 4100-km long border with Bangladesh. One of the best border towns on this long border is Dawki in Meghalaya, famed for its crystal clear rivers and streams and for being a hub of freshwater scuba diving. The river Umngot acts as a natural boundary of sorts between the two countries, along with the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, which give way to the plains of Sylhet. The presence of the tribes living on both sides of the border is an example of how young international boundaries can divide old communities.

  1. Nathu-La

Nathu-La Pass on the northern border of Sikkim is one of the most popular and historic mountain passes and today acts as a stage of interaction between India and China. The trip to Nathu-La itself is a great experience as you climb up to more than 4000 metres above sea level, as you negotiate narrow roads on the sides of mountains. Tsongo Lake is another popular attraction on the way.

  1. Dhanushkodi

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Until 1964, Dhanushkodi was the cross point from the Indian side to Sri Lanka, a ferry service that was part of a larger rail network between the two countries. The Rameshwaram Cyclone of 1964 changed that and Dhanushkodi now lies abandoned, at the tip of the sub-continent. The Dhanushkodi beach and the ghost town are now rather offbeat attractions in the Rameshwaram route. One of the highlights of a Dhanushkodi visit is the road from Rameshwaram to the town, a straight stretch with the ocean on both sides.

  1. Kakarbhitta and Pashupatinagar

The IndiaNepal border stretches from Garhwal to Darjeeling districts. If you are travelling from India to Nepal by road, the most common border crossing is Kakarbhitta, a border town on the Nepalese side which is around 35 kms from New Jaipalguri. Kakarbhitta is a busy town and close to an airport, where you can catch flights to Kathmandu. The border crossing from Darjeeling to Pashupatinagar is another popular site, involving a scenic route through thick pine forests.

An escape to the border frontiers need to be planned in detail but you can also step out for a weekend to catch a break in resorts near Bangalore. There are jungle resorts in Kabini and for something close you can opt for a Nandi Hills resort for a rejuvenating weekend. And once you get a taste of the adventure you can start planning your border visits with your travel buddies.

Planning a Green Getaway

20 November  |  At Discovery Village

Are you looking for a different experience for your next weekend trip or corporate party? Adventure and luxury can go hand in hand with some responsibility too, so you can start by choosing a getaway that is environmentally friendly. Not to mention, the feel-good factor for playing your part when your trip winds up.

Why should resorts opt for Eco-Friendly Architecture?

The hotel industry has the reputation of being one of the most wasteful industries in the world, from exploitation of water resources to high carbon emissions. One of the main reasons for this is the infrastructural demands, where building designs chosen are incompatible with the surroundings. Informed travellers are now choosing getaways with green architecture. Green architecture, a sustainable form of building design used with eco friendly raw materials, is all about harmony with the surroundings. Companies like Discovery Village offer a range of resorts in Bangalore built around the concepts of green architecture, where you can step away from the grind and rejuvenate with friends and family.

What is Responsible Tourism?

Too often, booking a resort becomes an afterthought from the environmental perspective. Responsible tourism focuses on this facet of your trip, where you choose your destination with the intention to have a positive impact on the environment of the place.

How does it help the Environment?

When you opt for responsible tourism, you support the hotels and resorts which have chosen the green architecture and sustainable model of operations. Your environmental impact as a tourist is minimized through innovation and local experiences. Water harvesting and natural ventilation systems are just some of the many ways in which green hotels negotiate their environmental impact.

How should we do it?

Being a responsible tourist does not involve any compromises. You open yourself to innovative architecture and exclusive local activities. This philosophy makes your trip more fun than a jaunt into a regular standard resort, as you enjoy authentic and original experiences suited to the landscape of your itinerary. Spending some time in a green establishment is also a learning experience, where you learn about the simplest of hacks that you can even apply in your own homes.

Discovery Village resorts are based on an ecologically responsible building model. Whether you are choosing a Nandi Hills resort or are looking for the best jungle resorts in Kabini, with Discovery Village you can be assured of enjoyable experiences in a sustainable set-up. Enjoy the untamed and pristine nature of some of South India’s wildest destinations by staying in a resort that blends with the verdant topography, both in structure and impact.

Built with earth-friendly materials, Discovery Village’sresort buildings are designed for energy efficiency. Aesthetically, creative building designs based on the local ethos are applied, inspired by vernacular elements.Additionally, natural ‘coolant’ materials like bamboo and terracotta reduce the dependency on artificial climate control.

Getaways, whether long escapades or just a weekend or day out are the best way to refresh and rejuvenate. You can enjoy these serene moments and indulge in new exciting activities, while also reducing your negative impact as a traveller, by making the right choices. Celebrate the beauty of the planet with responsible tourism, and help preserve it too.

Tips for your First Trek to the Himalaya

13 November  |  Listicles

Most of us romanticize treks, until of course; we finally step on to the trail. Trekking in the Himalayas rewards you with postcard-perfect vistas, snow-capped peaks, white rushing waters and clear streams – but it also involves you stepping off the grid, for a few hours maybe, a few days or weeks too. Therefore it is important that you do not take this activity lightly, for nature can be a capricious guardian and a small mistake or oversight can make things go a little awry. Here are a few trekking tips.

  1. Design an Itinerary

You cannot trek the Himalayas without a proper itinerary. There are myriad trekking routes, some that crisscross each other and some that are part of a larger trail. Find a route that will fit into your timeline and underline the stops where you will camp/stay and take meal breaks.

  1. Set your budget

With Himalaya trekking, you have to be prepared to pay more for certain items and services, especially in places that are far from urban centres. You may also need to rent camping gear or hire porters – and this will cost a certain fixed price, which is usually non-negotiable. There are lots of internet forums which will give you granular details on expenditures. Research well, determine your budget and design a trip around it – keeping extra aside for emergencies.

  1. Time your trek

It is important that you ease yourself into the trek and maintain periodical targets on your progress. If you start off too intensely, you will get exhausted sooner. If you have a slow phase, you will have to speed up and that too will lead to exhaustion. When choosing an itinerary, give yourself some buffer time, so you can be flexible with your pace and also enjoy some scenic breaks. It is, after all, the Himalayas.

  1. Safety First – Check your Gear

High-altitude treks require specific gear because of the low temperatures. Wear your trekking shoes a few times before you set off for your trek and if you are carrying your own tents and bedding, give them a few trials. Check for loose parts and holes and get them fix.

  1. Respect Your Environment

When you trek the Himalayas, you are entering a fragile eco-system. Make sure you are not disposing of your waste and garbage recklessly. Part of the trekking experience is to immerse oneself into the environment. Be aware of cultural sensitivities too.

  1. Bring your Essential Medication

You will be exposed to stressful conditions during a trek so there is bound to be a sniffle or two. Carry medicines for fever, allergies and acidity. Also keep in mind the different symptoms of altitude sickness and keep medicines handy as a last resort. Motion sickness medicines and antibiotics are also part of the list. Keep some extra nutrition handy. Water purification tablets or portable filters like Lifestraw are a great addition to the list.

  1. The Essentials

Cold weather and windproof clothing, appropriate camping and sleeping gear, sunscreen and shades, insect repellent, Hand sanitizer, toilet paper, a multi-purpose knife, a sturdy backpack, a navigation tool and a good flashlight or headlamp are just some of the essentials for a trek.

Not just for the Himalayas, but you can keep these trekking tips in mind even for your weekend escapades closer to home. There are many adventurous resorts in Bangalorewhich allow you some outdoors time. Book a Nandi Hills resort and enjoy some cool air or find adventure in the jungle resorts in Kabini. While you step out for even the shortest of hikes, be prudent about where you step, what you wear and make sure your backpack has all the essentials.

Hit That Target – Fun with Archery

13 November  |  At Discovery Village

If you are looking for a fun activity that is also challenging and requires a bit of skill then you can try out the sport of archery. Drive over to some of the most adventurous resorts in Bangalore, pick up a bow and some arrows, and channel that inner William Tell.

History of Archery in India

Archery now is a sport, but its origins are as old as civilisation itself. Let us step back in time, to an age where humans started developing innovations that would help them avoid scenarios of close combat. Eventually propelling projectiles at high speed became an important part of war and hunting, and the bow and arrow became the favoured choice of weapon.

From the highlands of Meghalaya to the famed story of the Mahabharat’s Ekalavya, archery pops up across the histories and cultures of the sub-continent. The bow and arrow was an important part of many arsenals from the Vedic periods until the various Islamic invasions brought with them new medieval warfare tactics and weapons. Even with the advent of firearms, the bow and arrow remained the symbol of local resistance in many pockets of what is now modern India. The sport of archery lives on, a modern avatar of this ancient skill and luckily, you don’t have to declare war to enjoy a few sessions with a bow and arrow. Find the nearest Discovery Village resorts in Bangalore and grab some friends or colleagues for this oldest game of all.

How do we play Archery?

We have seen the Olympians do it, and many communities across the country have this simple bow and arrow game as a traditional sport. The sport is more technical than it probably looks at first glance. Once you have picked your bow and arrow, you need to develop a good stance, so you act like a pillar – an extension of the bow before your release the arrow. Make sure your grip on the bow handle is relaxed andyour middle three fingersrest on the string, the indexabove the arrow. The aim is to hit the target, so use your dominant eye pull back your hand with your back muscles until the string touches your lips and nose. When you release the arrow, just relax the grip and let the fingers slide back. Maintain your posture.

The scoring system for target archery is very simple. You and your challenger shoot 3 to 6 arrows at the target, the closer the radius to the bullseye, the higher the score and the highest when you hit the centre. The person with the higher total wins and you can play multiple rounds too.

Where can we enjoy archery in Karnataka?

You don’t have to think too hard to find a venue for archery in Bangalore. Thereare manyresorts near Bangalorethat let to enjoy this sport, along with a host of other activities. Archery games are a great activity recommendation for office trips as it promotes bonhomie and a competitive spirit amongst peers and colleagues. Archery is a game that needs mental focus and stability along with confidence, traits that are even more important in the modern world. Not to mention, it is an enjoyable experience and sets the stage for some memorable and light moments. Find a new passion in this ageless discipline; give it your best shot.

5 Best places to travel in November

08 November  |  Listicles

November is here and the weather is perfect for a trip with friends and family. All over India, there are many destinations which come alive in this magical month, marking the end of another year and the onset of winter. From the spiritual to the cultural, here are some of the best places to visit in November in India.

  1. Pushkar, Rajasthan

Get a dose of vibrant desert life at the famous camel fair of Pushkar, one of the holiest cities in North India. This fair is one of the oldest livestock fair in the country and highlights include the exhibition of different breeds of horses, camels and cattle. The fair is also a showcase of local arts and crafts where you can pick up vibrantly designed jewelry, textiles and other decorative pieces for the home. Make sure you do not miss the camel races and riding skills shows. Top places to visit in Pushkar include the Brahma Ghat and the Meera Temple.

  1. Old Goa

St. Francis Xavier was one of the most influential and revered Christian missionary and his remains now rest in a silver casket in Goa’s famous Church of Bom Jesus. Every year thousands gather, as the feast of the saint is celebrated in total pomp and splendour. This cultural event offers visitors a chance to experience the original laidback Goan Christian culture, which has been overshadowed by the state’s modern image of a party destination. And of course, while you are in India’s vacation capital, you can check out the best beaches in Goa to complete your seaside escapade.

  1. Kabini, Karnataka

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As winter begins, you can celebrate the new season by stepping away from the crowds and enjoying some adventures in some of India’s most pristine forests. Browse through some Kabini resorts to enjoy memorable momentsin this part ofthe Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. The riverine landscape is a magnet for a diverse spectrum of bird and animal species, so get your binoculars and DLSRs ready. Kabini is also leopard territory, so watch out for this elusive cat in your safaris.

  1. Coorg, Karnataka

The verdant hills of Coorg could be your November destination. One of the biggest occasions on the social calendar here is Puthari, the harvest festival of the Kodava. The opening ritual of this auspicious day involves the cutting of a fresh paddy sheaf. Witness up close the rich traditions of this storied community, including the traditional attires and special local cuisines during the festival days. The opening puja at the Igguthappa Temple marks the beginning of Puthari. Highlights of this festival include various folk songs and dance.

  1. Hampi, Karnataka

The Vijaya Utsav is a beautiful spectacle set amidst the glorious structures of Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 360 kms away from Bangalore. The annual festival is a cultural extravaganza as the lit-up architectural ruins provide the stage for myriad performances, a celebration of the region’s rich legacy. You can also immerse yourself in the local arts and craft during this festival – there will be stalls selling puppets and other local handicrafts. Decorated elephants and people in attire from the golden age of the Vijayanagar Empire are some highlights, along with a concert of folk music, an elephant parade and a light and sound show.

Besides these major destinations, you can also choose some nearby resorts in Bangalore for a good November getaway. Head over to Mysore for some cultural treats or enjoy rejuvenating cool weather in a Nandi Hills resort. A short vacation is the best way to recharge and refresh – start planning your adventure.

A Forest Escapade –Masinagudi

08 November  |  Adventure & Travel

Bangalore citizens can consider themselves very lucky. Apart from being a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with arguably the best brews in the country, Bangalore is just a short drive away from the greenery of the Western Ghats. There are many resorts near Bangalore that are ideal for weekend getaways with friends, family and colleagues.The thrill seekers of the city love to flock to the jungle resorts in Kabini and Masinagudi, armed with their cameras and an eagerness for adventure – looking to explore the landscape and maybe catch a glimpse of elusive species too.

The soothing verdant setting of Masinagudi will take you to the heart of South India’s famed forests. This range is part of the sprawling Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, a continuous stretch of untamed forest that from the lush coasts to the mountains of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

  1. A Trekking Haven

Treks allow you to get down and dirty and become part of the forest. Your Masinagudi resort can be a base for countless excursions into the deep forests. During the drier months, the challenge of a good trekking route can be the most rewarding experience. Kalhatti is a gushing waterfall situated at 2000 metres above sea level and it is the end point of one of the popular trek routes from Masinagudi. There are also shorter nature trails if you want to save your energy for another day.

  1. Wildlife Safari

When in the wild, always expect a wild encounter, albeit from the comfort and safety of your safari jeep. The Mudumalai Safari is one of the most popular activities for those who visit this region. In the thick foliage and beneath the dark canopy of this range, lurks the tiger, and if you are in luck you can sight this majestic beast in the wild – an incomparable experience for wildlife enthusiasts. Other species that call these jungles home include leopards, Asiatic elephants, and myriad birds and reptiles.

  1. Bird Watching

There are many places to visit in Masinagudi if you want to enjoy some bird sightings. The best times for bird watching are the mornings and you will be inundated with the variety of sounds and chirps, as you try to identify the different winged wonders of the forest. Some of the bird species that are found in Masinagudi are the black and orange flycatcher, the Malabar Trogon, the grey hornbill, various cuckoo and woodpecker species, and many more.

  1. Fishing and Angling

The catch is just a bonus when it comes to fishing. Whether you look for introspection or want to blend into the environment, no other activity offers while maintaining its simplicity. At Masinagudi you can try your hand at the fishing rod, as your listen to the rippling fresh streams and hear the forest come to live once the human voices quieten down.

  1. Campfire

A jungle trip is incomplete without a campfire. For aeons, the campfire has been a stage for human interaction, and that remains true today. After a day of activities wind down with your friends and loved ones, with your favourite beverages and snacks and watch the glowing embers contrast against the pitch black night of the forest. If you are on a corporate getaway, nothing breaks the ice like the bonhomie around a campfire.

A Masinagudi trip will always be loaded with memories, as you get to visit one of the most diverse eco-systems in the world. Keep your eyes and ears open, lest you miss out on a unique sight. If you are looking for Masinagudi resorts which offer a plethora of experiences from tranquil environs to adrenaline pumping activities, then you can opt for Discovery Village.

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