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Posted on: Thursday , Dec 31, 2009 At 14:28 PM

Happy New Year + Looking Back At 2009

2009 was an active year here at 'India Explored'. It has been a busy time covering every aspect of travel and travel news, exploring new destinations and knowing more about the well known places. This year, the viewership of 'India Explored' jumped past 6 figure mark and has been growing strong. This year has seen more than 150 posts on various aspects of travel.

I hope your have enjoyed the writings on this blog. It would be great to hear from you about the content on 'India Explored', about what you like and what you did not like, and what new things would you like to see covered on this blog. I will be ears to your suggestions, please leave a comment here and have your say. Thank you.

From 'India Explored' I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year and a lot of travelling to all the places you have always dreamed of going.

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Posted on: Thursday , Dec 31, 2009 At 14:01 PM

Destination Of The Month: Kanha National Park

Far away from every major tourist destination is the vast expanse of Kanha National Park spread over 2000 square kilometers. It is home to one of the largest population of tigers in India, boasting of more than 80 tigers living in the park. Also populating the wilderness of Kanha are many mammals like spotted deer, wild dog, leopards, gaur and wild boar.

Image by oktatabyebye user rnaidu

One of the specialties of Kanha are the near extinct Barasinga or swamp deer that are hard to spot anywhere else in the world. The number of Barasingas in the park had once plummeted to less than hundred, but timely conservation measures have helped their population to bounce back to more than five hundred.

Kanha's forest primarily constitutes tall sal trees that occupy most part of the national park. A vast grassland exists in the center of the park, which provides sufficient grass for the herbivore population.

Know more about Kanha National Park here and here.

The Season

Kanha National Park remains closed during the monsoons and re-opens in November. The best weather in the park is during February to March. However, tiger sightings are at its best during the hot summer months.

Tiger Sightings

With more than 80 tigers inhabiting the park, sighting them is not difficult, especially in hot summer days when they are often found next to a water body. The park is divided into three zones - Kanha, Makki and Sarhi. Sightings are usually best at Kanha Zone.

Picture by oktatabyebye user Ran

See more pictures from Kanha National Park.

Things to do and places to see

Go on a safari to see the tigers and other mammals, take a walk in the periphery of the park where sightings are equally likely and walk on a designated path within the park to see birds. There is a well kept interpretation center in the middle of the park, which is a must see. Know more about what to see in Kanha

Places to Stay

Accommodation of all budgets is plentiful in Kanha. Some of the featured accommodations in the park include Baghira Log Huts, Kanha Safari Lodge and MPT tourist hotel.

More information

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Posted on: Thursday , Dec 31, 2009 At 09:43 AM

The Story Of A Missing Tiger

While I was travelling in Madhya Pradesh in the last few weeks, the local forest department officials were worried and sleepless about a tiger that had gone missing from Panna Tiger Reserve.

Panna National Park had become completely devoid of tigers, with the last of the tigers spotted sometime in the middle of this year. The state forest department decided to relocate a few tigers from adjacent national parks to populate the empty reserve. Three tigers were relocated, of which two of them formed their new territories in the reserve. However, one of the tigers which could not accustom to the new location escaped from the park and slowly made its way back.

This tiger was reported missing from Panna a month ago. It was collared, but the undulating landscapes made the signals weaker and tracing the tiger was becoming difficult. However, the forest department and the Wildlife Institute of India managed to keep track of the tiger as it moved slowly towards west from Panna. A week ago, the news finally came of the tiger having returned to Pench and re-establishing itself in its old territory!

The story of this tiger came to a good end. However, it still leaves the local forest department and the scientists in a fix. This tiger was brought to Panna to mate with other two tigresses relocated to the park. It needs to be seen if the forest department will try again to shift a tiger to Panna.

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Posted on: Thursday , Dec 31, 2009 At 00:43 AM

Travelling In Madhya Pradesh

I spent my year-end holidays travelling across some well known and some less known places in Madhya Pradesh. The least known of these places was Orchha, while the most well known was Khajuraho. The Central Indian state did not disappoint me. Firstly, being far from all the major cities, it doesn't get large tourist crowds even in its well known destinations. Next, it has some remarkable sites that are a feast to the eyes.

I started my journey from Orchha, a small town at the northern border of the state. I then went to the historical town of Khajuraho and then to Kanha, the tiger reserve with one of the largest population of tigers. I also spent a day in Jabalpur in between, visiting Dhuandhar falls and the marble rocks through which Narmada flows.

Orchha impressed me with its quiet setting next to a beautiful river. Khajuraho has some exquisite carvings that are unlikely to be seen anywhere else in North India. The beauty of the narrow valley through which Narmada flows near Jabalpur is unparalleled. And in Kanha, I got to see the mighty king of the jungle. The trip could not have been better.

I did happen to find some difficulties in traversing the state. Transport between towns is poor and painfully slow. The quality of accommodation could be much better. Some of the smaller towns in MP are incredibly dirty. These are probably some reasons why MP doesn't see as many tourists that match its potential. Nevertheless, the sights in MP are worth putting up with all these problems.

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Posted on: Sunday , Dec 06, 2009 At 23:45 PM

Snow In India

With the winter about to reach its peak in December, snow fall accelerates in most regions in the Himalayas. Though snowfall may begin as early as September in some places, most of the precipitation happens after December. Below are a few images of snow in the Himalayas, shot in different parts of the country. The images are from Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir respectively.

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Posted on: Sunday , Dec 06, 2009 At 23:20 PM

Cycling Tours In India

With a new season of Tour of Nilgiris about to be kicked off soon, there is a cycling fever gripping Bangalore. More and more people are taking up cycling. It is fast catching up as a popular sport. Weekend rides around the city is becoming popular and so is cycling in far away destinations . An emerging trend is to travel with the bicycle. A few new tour companies are now working to organize biking tours. Some non profit organizations are also working to popularize cycling. If you are looking for some place to begin your cycling adventures, here is a list you may be interested.

Muddy Boots. Muddy Boots organizes weekend cycling getaways in Wayanad and Coorg. See for more details.

Cycling and More. Similar to Muddy Boots, Cycling and More organizes weekend cycling tours out of Bangalore. Visit for details.

Ride A Cycle Foundation. RAC-F is a non-profit organization working to promote cycling. RAC-F organizes the hugely popular annaul cycling tour of the Nilgiris. They conduct workshops and organize events to promote cycling. See

Goa Cycles. Goa Cycles works to promote cycling in Goa. They regularly organize group rides in Goa. See

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Posted on: Sunday , Dec 06, 2009 At 19:55 PM

Nilgiri Mountains Railways Remains Closed

Torrential rains this November in the Nilgiri mountain ranges resulted in loss of many lives and properties. It also caused massive landslides in some locations and damaged the tracks of well-known Nilgiri Mountain Railways. The extent of damages is such that the repair work can take a few months to complete.

Fallen rocks and mud are being removed from the track in many locations.  Rebuilding the tracks is in progress where landslides have occurred. The railway authorities have not yet given an estimate of time for reopening the tracks. However, a trial run may begin between Ooty and Coonor soon.

This means that if you are planning to be in Ooty this holiday season, it is likely that you may not be able to enjoy train ride for the full distance. But if the track between Ooty and Coonoor is recommissioned, you can still get a glimpse of the journey.


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Posted on: Sunday , Dec 06, 2009 At 19:06 PM

Common Tickets For Asi Monuments

ASI has launched common tickets that can be used across all its monuments. You can buy these tickets in many places, such as airports, tourism department offices and a few hotels besides buying them on location. The ticket is valid for a year and can be used at any monument.

There are three varieties of such tickets. One can be used for all world heritage sites. The second one can be used at all other ticketed monuments, while a special ticket is available for Taj Mahal alone.

With this, if you are planning to travel a lot and are likely to visit places where ticket counters can be crowded, you can save the hassle of having to stand in a queue and buy a ticket at each monument. This could be especially useful for Taj Mahal, where you normally see large queues at the ticket counter.

For more details, see or

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Posted on: Sunday , Dec 06, 2009 At 18:40 PM

A Cruise From India

Until recently, cruise tours offered to Indians were mostly around Singapore and other places in South East Asia. It involved flying to Singapore or Malaysia and then hopping into a cruise. A few cruises from abroad did visit Mumbai and other ports once in a while, but none of these focused primarily on Indian Tourists.

Image of the cruise, courtsey Louis Cruise Website

This is bound to change soon. Cyprus based Louis Cruises is now launching a cruise that will be departing from Kochi, visiting Maldives and Colombo. The cruise to Colombo or Maldives will be a 4 days and 3 nights affair with prices starting from Rs.17,500. The company is also offering a one-night high see tour costing about Rs.6,000.

The cruise will also have a casino, making this a novelty for Indians who do not have access to casinos anywhere in the country except Goa. See more about the cruise and the tours at'map.html?FROM=INDIA

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Posted on: Tuesday , Dec 01, 2009 At 15:23 PM

More Variety In Tourism

I was mentioning last month about a new concept called divorce tourism and asked the readers about more less know initiatives in tourism. oktatabyebye member Ashwini MK mentioned about Babymooning. As you might be able to guess from the name, it is a vacation taken by a couple expecting a baby, enjoying a good journey together before they dedicate themselves to caring the baby.

I came across a few more innovative concepts and new initatives in the recent past. Disaster Tourism or Holocaust Tourism is not a new thing, as it is well known in places like Germany and Cambodia. Now it may be coming to India too. The government of Madhya Pradesh intends to convert Union Carbide factory, where the disaster struck in 1984, into a tourist place. Read more about it at

In another news, experts are considering facilitating the tourists see the whale sharks off the coast of Gujarat. Read more about it at

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Posted on: Tuesday , Dec 01, 2009 At 14:45 PM

Irctc's Railway Tour Packages

We all know IRCTC as the ticketing service provider for Indian Railways. But there is more to this successful company, which also organizes railway package tours. IRCTC runs many inexpensive theme based tours that make travelling hassle free and comes without the pains of having to book tickets for many train routes. Their list is long and caters to many themes such as pilgrimages, hill stations, Goan beaches and many more.

Some of these tours, especially pilgrimages are so inexpensive that you may never find a cheaper package through any travel operator. Their Bharat Darshan package is priced at just Rs.500 per person day, which includes transport, meals and accommodation. It is an ideal way to travel at lowest possible budget.

For a complete list of IRCTC's railway tours, see  

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Posted on: Tuesday , Dec 01, 2009 At 14:36 PM

Hover Rafting In Tawi River

You would have heard about of River Rafting, but how about some hover rafting? Hover rafting inolves cruising over the water using a hovercraft, a kind of a vehicle that can move on both air and water. It actually skims over the surface supported by a cushion of high pressure air ejected from the bottom. Rajiv Kotwal, an entrepreneur trained in managing hover crafts has now started a new service of rafting with hovercrafts in Jammu's Tawi River. This is a first of its kind facility in the country. The J&K government intends to introduce hover rafting facilities in Ladakh and Kashmir regions in future.

How would an experience of hover rafting be? It is too new a sport to say more about it, but my guess is that it should be more comfortable and less adventurous than a rafting trip. But it would definitely be a novel experience.


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Posted on: Tuesday , Dec 01, 2009 At 13:12 PM

Tourism And Selfishness

This is not about being greedy, but just a wish to be myself. There are many times when we have gone to a popular place, only to see it very crowded. Obviously there are many people out there like us who want to enjoy good things in life. But sometimes it feels like there are too many people and too few good things! But we have to accept that a beautiful place does end up being crowded, especially if it has been marketed well!

Karnataka was one of the laggards in tourism in the south. Kerala has carved itself a name with tourists worldwide. TamilNadu has its well known locations and places of pilgrimage. Andhra may not boast of many touristy locations, but it tops the list of most visited states, thanks to pilgrimage centers like Tirupati.

Karnataka does have its share of beautiful places though. There are fine beaches just south of Goa. There are beautiful hills along the western ghats. Some incredible archeological monuments are spread all across the state. There is wilderness and wildlife too. Yet, the number of visitors who come here is far less than its neighbouring ones.

Lack of infrastructure and poor marketing were two major reasons. But the current tourism policy seems to be out to address it. In a new initiative (see ), the government of Karnataka has announced cash incentives and subsidies for setting up properties and building tourism infrastructure. If backed up properly with marketing assistance, Karnataka too can see its boom days in next few years.

Now coming to the topic of selfishness, Karnataka is my home state and this is where I have grown up all my life. Having traversed its length and breadth, one thing that makes me happy is the fact that many beautiful places are far less crowded compared to its neighbouring states. Honestly, I would have liked to see it left that way. But then, I have to admit that it doesn't make much economic sense. I may just have to learn to share the beauty with other travellers who deserve to enjoy Karnataka's splendours. Have you felt like this about your own region?

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Posted on: Tuesday , Dec 01, 2009 At 13:06 PM

Festivals And Events - December 2009

This is the beginning of the month and time to look at festival and events for the month. Here is the list.

  • Hornbill Festival, Nagaland. This is probably the most awaited festival from North East. The festival is held in the first week of December. According to Nagaland Tourism authority, Hornbill Festival is "the major event is a showcase of the entire Naga culture." Read more at and
  • Chennai Music Festival, Chennai. This is a two week music festival festuring many well known artists. The festival starts on 15th December and concludes on 1st January 2010. See complete schedule at
  • Winter Festival, Mt.Abu. Held from 29th to 31st December, the festival begins with a procession and ends with a display of fireworks with a showcasing of cultural events through the festival days. See
  • Camel Festival, Bikaner. The 2-day festival begins on 30th December on Bikaner's Junagarh Fort. The fest involves various events and sports involving camel. Visit
  • Christmas and New Year Eve, needless to say, fall on 25th and 31st. If you like to party, beaches of Goa are the place to be where you can party through the night nearly every night between these days.

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arunchs arunchs lives in Bangalore(Karnataka) and is interested in travel, photography, reading, movies, music,...

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