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I am a travel enthusiast and very fond of traveling and exploring new destinations. This travel bug bit me in the very early years of my life when we used to plan a trip mostly to the hill stations during summer vacations. I have a lot of cherished memories of my childhood with my family and cousins. Here sharing my top 3 picks in India which I would love to visit any given day:
A.) The city of lakes, Nainital:
As I have mentioned above, I love traveling and have traveled extensively in India and abroad but my first choice and the most loved travel destination is and will always be Nainital. I was 6 years old when I first visited this breathtaking place, situated in the Uttrakhand state of India. Every single memory is still afresh in my mind and I have been there 6 times so far.
It is one of the most popular place to visit for North Indians during summers as its close to Delhi and other neighbouring cities and just an overnight journey from my city, Lucknow. It is a great escape destination so people flock there to beat the heat in summers. It’s one of the favorite choices for honeymooners too because of its accessibility and mesmerizing charm.
How to reach:
The nearest railway station is Kathgodam and you can take bus/taxi from there till Nainital which is an hour drive. The nearest airport is Pantnagar Airport. Taxis and buses are easily available from the railway station as well as the airport.
Best places to visit:
1. Naini Lake:
The main center of attraction and the most relaxing spot of Nainital is Naini lake which is the first sight you will get on reaching Nainital. It’s in heart of the city, surrounded by the splendid natural scenic beauty of lushy green hills. There are many other lakes also which are at Bhimtal, Khurpatal, Naukhuchiatal, Sattal & Shymaltal. You can take a stroll around the serene lake enjoying the “bhutta” and pop corns and also go for boating.
2. China Peak or Naina Peak:
If you are interested in trekking, this is a place for you as it is situated at the highest peak of Nainital. It gives a panoramic view of the city and valley. People visit it to view the sunrise and sunset.
3. Tiffin Top:
Another beautiful spot that gives you a stunning view of the city and The Himalayas. Its famous for hiking, horse riding and “not to miss” sunset and sunrise.
4. Snow View:
This is my most favorite spot as it can be reached by a cable car, which itself is an adventurous thing to do. This gives amazing views of The Himalayas, lake, city and the highest peaks.
5. Cave Garden:
This is a hidden gem of Nainital which I discovered lately in my last visit. There are 7 interconnected caves which can be reached through quite narrow paths. Kids love this place because of the adventure and musical fountain. Definitely a must see place.
6. Naina Devi Temple:
This is an ancient temple located near the Tibetan market and can be reached on walk. I relish the special peda prasad there. It gives a beautiful view of the Naini lake too.
7. Kainchi Dham:
This is a peaceful place around 20kms from Nainital and I visit every time because me and my family are devotees of Neeb Karoli Baba, who was an incarnation of Lord Hanuman. Divine place totally. People still experience the miracles here. You can reach there by taxi or bus.
Traveling without shopping is no fun. I never miss visiting Tibetan Market during my trip to Nainital. You get excellent stuff – clothes, pullovers and even toys at a negotiated price. Also Nainital is famous for its candles which you can buy from any roadside shop across the city.
Another attractions of the city are Nainital Zoo, Hanumangarhi temple, Mukteshwar Dham, differents Taals, Governor’s House, Gurudwara situated near the Tibetan market and many more.
Bal Mithai, a sweet that tastes like chocolate, perfect for people having a sweet tooth. Two types are available, with or without white tiny sugar balls. I prefer without balls as it makes way too sweet.
Another favorite location of mine is definitely Goa as my love for beaches is undying. I visited in Sept 2014 with my husband when the monsoon just hit turning the city even greener and more captivating. I find it the perfect time to visit as the weather was lovely with little drizzles sometimes and less crowded. Though we miss water sports because of off season but no regrets as rest fun compensated the adventure especially bike rides in rains. Sounds romantic right?
Goa is divided into two parts – North and South. North Goa is famous of its nightlife, clubs, happening beaches and hip hop life whereas South Goa is for nature lovers. It’s a peaceful part of the city and have equally thrilling beaches. It’s one of the top honeymoon destinations in India and an eternal favourite choice for foreigners too, visiting India.
How to reach:
The nearest railway stations are Madgaon and Vasco-da-gama and the nearest international airport is Dabolim. Taxis are easily available there and can transport￼ you to Goa in 40 minutes.￼
Best places to visit:
Goa is a versatile location where you can relax your bum enjoying the sunset on sandy beaches, drive through lush green areas, have fun at clubs, cruise and casinos, experience the adventure of watersports and much more. My top favorite sights to visit are:
1.) Baga-Calangute beach stretch:
Situated in North Goa, on the shores of Arabian Sea, Calangute is known as the “Queen of beaches”. It is the most happening spot where you can experience the popular water sports, parasailing, jet ski and the best nightlife. You get the best seafood which you can enjoy at the beach side restaurants in candle light with some rock music around. Colorful souvenir shops will draw your attention selling leather goods, exquisite handicrafts etc.
2.) Benaulim Beach:
Situated in South Goa away from the hustle bustle of the city, a long stretch of empty sand, this beach is a great place to relax and perfect location for tourists seeking peace and tranquility. This enchanting serene beach has loads of scenic beauty and is famous for fishing and is mostly less crowded which makes it an ideal spot for rejuvenation. Here you can also enjoy the watersports and rocking nightlife in bars /pubs around or enjoy a candle light romantic dinner in the starry night in the presence of moon and beach.
Other popular beaches are Colva Beach, Anjuna Beach, Agonda Beach, Vagator beach, Candolim beach etc.
3.) Aguada Fort:
This is one of the most visited destination in Goa. It has one of the oldest lighthouses of Asia, constructed way back in 1864 by The Portuguese to guide ships into safe harbour. This well preserved lighthouse overlooking The Arabian sea, gives breathtaking views and is a perfect sight for camera lovers for capturing the best pictures. There is a jail (prison house) in the fort which remains closed for the public. Accused of the crimes like narcotics abuse, drugs sale and trafficking were lodged there.
4.) Chapora Fort or “Dil Chahta Hai” Fort:
This is another popular destination for tourists which overlooks the Chapora river, hence the name. The classic fun movie “Dil Chahta Hai” about male camaraderie was shot here in 2001 and this destination became even popular for the tourists to click similar pictures posing with their friends. People spend their evenings here chilling out and admiring the spectacular sunset. A must go place for sure.
5.) Basilica of Bom Jesus:
This is one of the oldest churches in India which gives you a feel of ancient architecture. It contains the body of St. Francis Xavier and holds paintings of scenes from his life. This Saint was said to have the miraculous power of healing.
6.) Spice Plantation:
I absolutely loved this place. It was a treat to eyes and body visiting Spice Plantation situated in a lush green area. Learned about various flora in a guided tour along with Goan cuisine in authentic earthen pots and Feni tasting. If you are a nature lover, I bet you won’t regret as it will give you an altogether different experience in Goa. You can also buy authentic herbs and medicines for many ailments from here.
7.) Dudhsagar Falls:
This magnificent waterfall forms the border between Karnataka and Goa states, surrounded by deciduous forests and rich biodiversity. The best time to visit this attraction is a monsoon when the falls are fed by rains forming a huge force of water. You can reach by road and the nearest railway station is Castle rock station. You can get in a train from here and disembark at the Dudhsagar stop.
There is no platform, so travelers have to climb down the steep ladder of the compartment in a short 1-2 minute unscheduled stop and from there, they have to walk about a kilometer on the tracks to arrive at the falls. Its not at all easy to reach this place but if you are an adventure lover, you can give it a try.
Earlier known as Oddavell, Dona Paula is another sought-after spot in Goa situated few kilometres away from Panaji at a breathtaking beautiful sea stretch. It is a secluded bay and quite a picturesque location which makes it a not-to-miss major attraction. The amazingly spectacular views and stunning beaches makes it a perfect place to sunbathe and relax. It holds the renowned National Institute of Oceanography, which is a also a popular sight to visit. Many movies have been shot here as the location is so serene and alluring especially during the monsoon. Cabo Fort and Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary are the two must-visit spots nearby.
Must do things in Goa are water sports, experience the nightlife at Mambos and Tito’s club, cruise and bike riding.
Other places of interests are Church of St. Cajetan, World Wax Museum, Museum of Christian Art, Goa Science Centre, Chitra Museum, Church Lady of the Rosary, Shanta Durga Temple, Mangeshi Temple (Temple of family deity of The living Legend Lata Mangeshkar and her family)
Feni, a cocktail made of cashews and liquor, cashews, Bebinca, a type of cake.
C. Backwaters of God’s Own Country, Kerala (Alleppey Houseboat):
I went to Kerala on my honeymoon way back in 2008 and its indeed the most beautiful and magnetic state of India. It was a 8-day trip and we covered Munnar, Thekkady, Kumarakom, Alleppey, Kovalam and Kanyakumari. Every destination has its own charm, be it the tea plantations and hills of Munnar or wildlife of Thekkady or windswept, stunning beach of Kovalam or the villages and backwaters of Alleppey and Kumarakom.
However, my most loved part during my trip was the houseboat stay and I always recommend people to travel to Kerala and experience the backwaters and houseboat trip once in your lifetime. We were isolated completely from the world as there was no network connection in our phones and no internet. We leisurely explored the beauty of the place, the wind, the rain, serene ambience, the most splendid wonder of Kerala to the most.
The most popular backwater destination of Kerala is Alleppey. It has scenic beauty in abundance, magnificent lagoons, lakes, villages and freshwater rivers. To explore the attractions, taking an overnight cruise or a day cruise would be a great idea. We took overnight cruise, boarded at 12 Noon from Alleppey to Kumarakom and were offered coconut water as the welcome drink.
Meals are included in the package, we opted for vegetarian meal and were served fruits, rice, curry, papad, sambhar, salad and many other delicacies. Meals are cooked fresh in the houseboat kitchen only. Snacks, tea/coffee/juices are served time to time. Honeymooners can request special arrangements like flower decoration, candle light dinner etc. which can be honored to make them feel special.
Special Note: Don’t forget to carry mosquito repellant as they will be your companion there throughout.
There are three types of houseboats available in Kerala:
- Standard Houseboat
- Deluxe or Premium Houseboat
- Luxury or Super deluxe Houseboat
How to reach:
The nearest airport to Kumarakom and Alleppey is Cochin International Airport. You can book a taxi from there to reach there.
So, these are my top 3 favorite holiday spots. Would love to know about yours too.
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