Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Darjeeling to Sandakphu Trekking

Darjeeling internationally acclaimed as one of the best hill resorts is also a veritable paradise for trekkers and adventure seekers. Trekking in Darjeeling is an experience which no lover of nature should miss. It takes one to places where nature is yet in her premival majesty. It brings one face to face with the sublime grandeur of the Himalayas.

The region abounds in rhododendrons, magnolias, primulas, orchids and ferns of numerous verities. About six hundred different species of birds inhabit the emerald green forests on the slopes of the mountains. The following is a brief description of some of the most popular and most rewarding treks in the region.

(a) Darjeeling-Maneybhanjyang-Tonglu-Sandakphu and return by the same route-118 km (4 days)

(b) Darjeeling-Maneybhanjyang-Tonglu-Sandakphu-Phalut and return-160 km. (6 days)

Route No 1(a)

This trek is perhaps one of the best and certainly the most popular of all the treks in Darjeeling for those having a limited time at their disposal. It offers the travellers an excellent view of the Kanchenjunga and the Everest group of mountain peaks in Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan.


Arrive at Bagdogra Airport, NJP Railway Station. Meet and transfer to Darjeeling Hotel.

It is advisable to start the trek early in the day and to cover ther distance from Darjeeling to Maneybhanjyang about 26 km. by jeep/buses. One can also go upto Sukhiapokhri, halfway from Darjeeling since transport to this point is easily available and from here to Maneybhanjyang either by jeep/buses or one can even trek from here to Maneybhanjyang(4 km). The drive from Darjeeling to Sukhiapokhri is about one hour and from there to Maneybhanjyang another half an hour.

Maneybhanjyang to Tonglu is a steep climb up to Meghma 7 km or 3.5 hrs. walk. There is a small tea house where tea and snacks are available at reasonable price(if necessary, accomodation is also available at Meghma Tea House). Meghma is a small hamlet with few houses & small Monastery & impressive Chorten(stupa). Meghma to Tonglu is anothere 2 kms.

Tonglu or the local name Tumling is 3070 mt. high and is one of peaks of Singalila range, falls on the West of Darjeeling town. On a clear day one can get a fine view of the Nepalese valleys and of the plains of North Bengal with the snow fed Teesta on the east, the Koshi on the West and a number of smaller rivers between them. There is a Trekkers Hut at Tonglu.

The next day's march from Tonglu to Gairibas 2621 mt. is downhill. The distance is 9 km and it is 2 hrs. walk. The route passes through the bamboo glades. Gairibas to Kalipokhri 3170 mt. is continuous climb through the rhododendron forest. Distance is 6 km and it takes 3 hrs. walk from Gairibas. Trekkers may stop here for a while for a tea break. There is a small pond at Kalipokhri which means 'Blackpond'. The colour of the water is black and muddy and it never freezes. From Kalipokhri the road descends to Bikhaybhanjyang-valley of poison-(Aconites grow in abundance at this place). Bikhaybhanjyang to Sandakphu is a steep climb of 4 kms. and takes more than an hour to cover this trek. Accomodation is also available at Bikhaybhanjyang and Gairibas. There is a trekkers hut at Gairibas.

Sandakphu 3636 mtr. is 58 km. from Darjeeling and commands one of the most spectacular views. In the foreground is a great basin set in the midst of the hills, the slopes covered with rhododendrons and silver fir trees. In the background is continuous barrier of snowy mountains, the most prominent of which is Kanchenjunga-28156 ft. 8598 mts. towering up in gigantic height and breadth with its attendant peaks Kabru 7338 mts. 24,026 ft, Jano (Kumbhakarna) 7710 mts. 25,294 ft. and Pandim 6691 mts. 22,010 ft. clustering closely round it. Kabru is foreshortened and does not present the same graceful outline above the spectacle with its lofty peak standing up like a great icy horn. Far off to the west at a distance of 160 km. among a group of other snowy mountain rising from graceful peaks of Everest group can be seen,behind the crest of Mt. Makalu, which looks like a great armed chair of snow; and further to the west towards Nepal, there is a wonderful square mass of mountain looking like a wal of snow Chamlang 7317m-24006 ft. The contrast between Everest and Kanchenjunga is very marked. Kanchenjunga is remarkable for its imposing bulk and massive proportions while Everest soaring above a series of valleys and its ridges, is more graceful and majestic. The space between the two is occupied by snowy ranges. Three Sisters which cluster together if you look towards east beyond Kanchenjunga you will see Narsing and then the Dongkya and Chola ranges of the Tibetan frontier with Chumalhari lifting up to its heads in the rear. The whole snowy ranges of Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal about 320 kms in length; is visible, but the panoroma is completely dominated by the Kanchenjunga and Everest group.

Kanchenjunga-correctly spelt is Khangchendzonga is the third highest mountain in the world means "Five Treasures of the Great Snow" and is a guardian deity of the Sikkimese.
From the middle of April til 1st week of June this region blushes with rhododendron bloom and spread with carpet of lovely primula and other alpine flowers. Trekkers can stay at the Trekkers Hut in Sandakphu.

The return march to Maneybhanjyang may be accomplished either in a day or two breaking journey either at Gairibas or Tonglu, depending on the physical condition of the Trekkers and the time at his disposal. If the first alternative is chosen, the journey must commence latest by 7 a.m. It takes about 8 hours of continous march to Maneybhanjyang Upto Sandakphu is in route 1 (a)

Route No 1(b)

If the trekkers have sufficient time next day they can march further towards Phalut 3600 mts. It is one of the loftiest peak in the Singalila Range is situated 80 km. North West of Darjeeling town. The name Phalut is a corruption of the Lepcha word Fak-Lut or the peeled summit and appellation derived from the bare treeless slopes, which offer a great contrast to the forest clad ranges below. The peak is also called Phalilung by the local people.

The stretch from Sandakphu to Phalut is the most spectacular of the trek. The burned silver-fir forest makes most beautiful sight one will ever left come across. After walking for a little while the trekker will be followed by the Everest group on the left and Kanchenjunga range right ahead. A walk of about 4.5 hrs. from Sandakphu the trekker will come across a stone house with blown of roof on the top of a small ridge. The place is known as Sabarkum and is 14 km. from Sandakphu. An alternative place of stay is MOLLEY Trekkers Hut about 2 k.m. from Sabarkum, for those who do not want to walk to Phalut the same day. Keeping the ridge on the left follow the trail north ward. After about an hour the trail begins to climb through a series of zigzag till one reaches Trekkers' Hut. From here Phalut summit is about 20 minutes walk.

A magnificient view of snowy range is obtained from the summit which is also trijunction of Sikkim, West Bengal and Nepal. The general panorama is same as seen from Sandakphu except that KanchenJunga ranges looks much larger and closer. It is only 48 km. away as the crow flies. The trekkers will also notice on the foreground Singalila range jutting out of Kanchenjunga peak. There is a Trekkers Hut at Phalut. Trekkers can camp at Molley 1,811 mts. Phalut is 1.5 hours walk from this point.

Darjeeling-Maneybhanjyang-Gairibas-Sandakphu-Phalut-Rammam-Rimbick 130 km(6 days) upto Phalut as in route no 1(a). From Phalut to Rammam therw are two routes i) via Sabarkam ii) via Gorkhey-Samandin.

Route No 2(i)

To take in this route, retrace back to Sabarkum and turn left of ther roofless houses. This trail passes through the virgin forest which is steep down-hill to Rammam. This takes about 5 hrs. walk and 16 k.m. in distance. From Phalut, the right hand trail lead to Srikhola and climbs up to Daragaon and again descends to Rimbick. It takes about 8 hrs. walk and 25 k.m. in distance from Phalut.
Note : Do not venture this trail during winter i.e. November and March as it gets dark by 4 p.m. and will be difficult to find the way.

Route No 2(ii)

From Phalut the trail descends the ridge through the virgin forests of chestnut, pines, hemlock etc. till the trail reaches the meeting of two streams called Gorkhey Khola which is a tributary of Rammam river. It ia a beautiful place. Trekkers can enjoy the bath in the river after the hectic trek begins to climb upto Samandian-a lovely plateau and it is a small forest village. From Samandin the road descends to a small stream and again climbs up for another 1.5 hrs. to Rammam Trekkers hut. This is about 5 hours walk or 15 km. in distance from Phalut.
From Rammam the road is almost level walk for about first 9 km. and again it descends to Srikhola. The road rises steep, for about 1 k.m. where it levels out again till it reaches Rimbick. There is a small bazar at Rimbick. Incase the Trekkers desire to return to Darjeeling by bus next day, it is advisable to stay at Rimbick bazar.

Darjeeling-Rimbick-Sandakphu and back 123 kms. Four days.
From Darjeeling to Rimbick regular buses are available around 12.30 p.m. It is about 5 hrs. drive and 54 km. from Darjeeling.

Route No 3(‘A’)

Darjeeling to Rimbick regular buses and jeeps are available around 7 and 12 noon-12.30 p.m. It is about 5 hrs. drive and 54 K.M. from Darjeeling.
Next day's march, is continuous climb through the forest of firs, chestnut, hemlock as well as rhododendron. During April, May the whole slops blazes with different color of rhododendron. You will observe different types of birds in this area. The trail is continuous steep climb of 6 hrs. till you hit the main road to Sandakphu i.e. one kilometer ahead of Kalipokhari and then to Bikhaybhanjang to Sandakphu. Return trip can be accomplished via Gairibas, Maneybhanjyang or same route back to Rimbick and to Darjeeling.

Route No 3(‘B’)

Darjeeling-Tonglu or Gairibas-Sandakphu-Srikhola via Gurdum to Rimbick.
Sandakphu-Gurdum is about 3.5 hrs. walk and Gurdum to Srikhola is about 1 hr. walk. At Gurdum, which is worth spending a day, there is a private accommodation and at Srikhola there is Trekkers Hut. Srikhola to Rimbick is 2 hrs. walk whereas Gurdum to Rimbick is about 4 hrs. walk.

Darjeeling-Tiger Hill and back 26 k.m. one day trek.
There are two walking routes from the town.

(i) Tenzing Norgay Road starts from Chowrasta and passes through Toong-Soong and Aloo-Bari villages. The road is almost level and there is no vehicular traffic on this road. It meets the Hill Cart Road at Jorebungalow. From Jorebungalow the road ascendend to Tiger-Hill is 5 km.

(ii) Gandhi Road starts from Planters Club Motor stand. This road goes almost parallel to Hill Cart Road and meets the Hill Cart Road near Ghoom Railway Station.
Both the routes offer the Travellers excellent view of forests and mountains.

Some useful hints regarding preparation for trek

The Trekkers Hut under the management of DGHC Tourism, are available at Sandakphu region. Advance booking can be made through DDT,DGHC Tourism, Silver Fir, Bhanu Sarani, Darjeeling.
During these treks travellers will encounter extremes of weather. The routes pass through depths of valleys as low as 762 mts. and tops of mountains as high as 3640 mts. He will, therefore, have to arrange his clothing accordingly. For treks at lower altitudes it is sufficient to have a light sweater, shirt and trousers. At higher altitude a heavy pullover toppes by a wind-cheater is advisable. Adown jacket is very useful in high altitude. In case the trek is undertaken in winter-woollen cap and gloves are a must. A muffler may be an added advantage. A good plan is to start the trek in comfortable outfit and carry the excess clothing in ruck sack, taking them out as and when necessary.

It has been found that the most common item of complaint are shoes. In long treks the necessity of a good, durable, comfortable pair of shoes can hardly be over emphasised. Such boots as 'Hunter' of Bata may be used. It is advisable to wear the shoes for some days prior to the trek. Remember to carry a few extra pairs of thick socks.

No matter what time the trek is undertaken a light raincoat must from an essential part of the outfit. This may be folded and put into the ruck sack when not in use. Weather may be unpredictable, particularly in higher altitudes.

Although caretakers of some of the Trekkers' Hut provide simple rice and dal at nominal rates, travellers must carry their own provisions. It is difficult to give extra advice on this subject as tastes vary, but broadly speaking the food should be such as can be easily carried and will keep in warmer climate. Tinned food, such as skinless sausages, packet or tin packed soup, cheese, peanut, butter, baked beans etc. will be helpful. Hard boiled eggs and bread may be taken as an advantage, rice and dal are excellent items. These may be cooked with ease at any place. it is essential to carry to packet of salt as this is a rare commodity at the higher altitude. For hot drinks tea or instant coffee, condensed milk and sugar may also be carried. It is suggested to carry a packet of Glucose powder which help to give energy while on trek. Rice, dal, eggs, chicken, onions and potatoes can be purchased enroute at most places through they are likely to be expensive. There are small tea shops enroute to Sandakphu, at places like Meghma, Gairibas, Kalpokhri, Gorkhey, Rammam,Srikhola and Rimbick.

It is safe to drink spring water in the high altitudes. However it is advisable to carry water purifying tablets. Some brand names such as PINATAB and ZEOLIN 200 are easily available at the Chemist Shops at Darjeeling. Do carry a water bottle.

Trekking equipments such as sleeping bag rucksack are available on hire from Adventure Sports Office, Lowis Jubilee Complex, Dr. S.K. Paul Road, Darjeeling.

Season for Travel
The best months to trek in this region are April, May and October-November. During April-May there may be occasional showers. But this disadvantage would be fully compensated by the beauty of flowers, especially rhododendrons. Sometimes due to prolonged monsoons, there may be occasional rains during the first half of the month of October. But November is generally dry and visibility is excellent. First half of December is also good, though rather cold; besides that there are occasional snow falls.

Approximate Temperature at Sandakphu

Max. 12 Degree Centrigate
Min. 6 Degree Centrigate

Max. 6 Degree Centrigate
Min. 1 Degree Centrigate

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dear Reader,

I need suggestions from you that, how to upgrade my blog more attractive and more useful for you. Please post comments to me and oblige.

Thanks & Regards,
Ranajoy Singha

At first you may Right Click on these links and open in a new window, then plan your Holidays.......

~: Bakkhali :~

Bakkhali is a small beach resort about 132 kms. from Calcutta. It is very popular with the citizens of Kolkata. One can walk to the Frasergunj beach from Bakkhali. You may have the fun of wave-riding on a motor launch or make a trip by motor launch, of course, to Jamhudwip.

Driving distance fromKolkata, 130 Km (approx)

Driving time fromKolkata, +5 Hours (approx)

If you are greedy and want a beach to yourself – head to Bakkhali. Chances are that your wish will be granted for Bakkhali is one of India’s most secluded beaches. Bakkhali boasts of a beautiful casuarinas tree lined white sand beachfront. When you are in Bakkhali, sit quietly on the beach with your beloved and enjoy the various moods of the sea. Catch a fantastic sunset in Bakkhali – it will be a special memory for ever.

For couples on their honeymoon, Bakkhali promises oodles of privacy and romance. Watch the fishing boats set out to sea – Bakkhali is a major source for fish, which are packaged and transported from the Benfish auction centre here. If you are a seafood lover, then Bakkhali is your paradise because a variety of sea-fish are available here. When the tide is low, the beach in Bakkhali is turned into a red carpet by millions of red crabs scurrying around. If you are traveling there in winter, you can see hordes of migratory birds in Bakkhali.


A three hour bus journey from Kolkata to Namkhana, a ferry across the river Hatania Doania, and another bus journey for one and half hour to Bakkhali between Kolkata and Namkhana there are CSTC buses a well as private bus. Departure: Esplanade (CSTC) 0700 hrs. Fare Rs. 60 (approx) Arrival: Namkhana 1100 hrs.
There is also a train service from Sealdah station up to Namkhana. Cross the river by boat and then take a bus to Bakkhali.


In Bakkhali, enjoy long refreshing walks in the surrounding forests. Honeymoon couples will enjoy the solitude in Bakkhali. Spend some time observing the rhythms of daily life in the villages near Bakkhali – that is if you can tear yourself away from the beach. Walk to nearby Fraserganj, established by Andrew Fraser, the Deputy Governor of Bengal nearly a century ago. He built a bungalow by the sea for himself here and had plans to establish it as a health and beach resort. Today, though no signs of his bungalow remain, having long been swallowed up by the sea, Fraserganj and Bakkhali have been recognized as prime destinations on the east coast of India. For the moment, Fraserganj and Bakkhali are still relatively undeveloped which means no troublesome hawkers on the beach, no thronging crowds. In Bakkhali, just enjoy Nature at her best. If you are on your honeymoon, you will have plenty of wonderful memories of your time in Bakkhali.

Accommodation Options
There are a few private hotels and tourist lodges here catering mostly to budget travelers.

Things to Pack
Beachwear, camera, comfortable walking shoes and mosquito repellant.

Getting There
Going to Bakkhali is an adventure in itself – drive or take a bus from Kolkata to Namkhana, and then take the ferry across the river Hatania Doania, and drive or bus it to Bakkhali.

History of Legendary Fraser
Sir Andrew Fraser, Lieutenant Governor of Bengal in the early twentieth century, is credited with “discovery” of the place. He tried his best to popularize it and in recognition of his efforts a part of the town is named Frasergunj. There is a dilapidated house near the beach, which according to the locals was the one in which Fraser used to stay.Local legend has it that he had landed at the place accidentally because of a shipwreck and was helped to survive by a local woman named Narayani. Fraser fell in love with her and visited her regularly. His detractors sent word about his goings on to his wife staying back in England. She came rushing to India and with the assistance of British troops had Narayani shot down. Frasergunj was earlier known as Narayanitala.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Rajabhatkhawa has a watchtower deep inside the forest that gives the best opportunity to view elephant, bison and even tiger. The Nature Interpretation Center at Rajabhatkhawa is another attraction. Surrounded by dense forests of Buxa tiger reserve Rajabhatkhawa is an ideal place for the wild life lovers. The Nature Interpretation Center at Rajabhatkhawa is another attraction. There is a small bazaar and a beautiful small rail station. Accommodation is available in forest rest house and also in a private rest house named Gracilips.

Accessibility: Rajabhatkhawa is one of the oldest settlements in North Bengal. It is 24kms from Alipurduar, 12 km from jayanti and 180 km from Siliguri, well connected by both motorable road and railways.

Places to visit:
You can drive to Mongpong (35 kms.), a quiet place on the bank of river Tista. The forest rest house at Mongpong offers a panoramic view of Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary. Enjoy your break at Mongpong watching colourful birds. A refreshing drive through tea gardens and forests takes you to Lataguri (55kms. from Mongpong). Lataguri is a small Dooars town close to Gorumara National Park. Visit to Gorumara & Jaldapara via Chapramari forests. Morning drive inside the forest. Elephant ride inside Jaldapara grassland for viewing the famous one horned Rhino. Return to hotel for lunch.

Hotel accommodation in Rajabhatkhawa: Naturebeyond provides accommodations in forest rest houses of WBFDC at Rajabhatkhawa, Nimati, Barobisha, Raidak, Raimatang/Buxaduar, Jayanti and Bhutanghat. In Rajabhatkhawa a family run well maintained privet lodge named Garcilips provides hospitable stay and delicious food.
Gracilips is a small hotel in Rajabhatkhawa.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Latpanchar (An untapped tourist spot)

Latpanchar perhaps tops the list of hidden and unseen destinations in North Bengal Hills. Latpanchar is one of those destinations which still lie untapped. A hidden and unseen destination in the north Bengal hills situated in the lower Darjeeling hills in Kurseong sub-division, Latpanchar is the highest point in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary at 4200ft.

Known for its old quinine plantations the place holds enormous wealth of natural forests. The beauty of Latpanchar lies mostly on its lush green virgin forests covering the undulating slopes of hills. These untouched forests are the natural home for many rare species of mountain goat (serow), wild boars, tigers, leopards, jungle cats, gaurs, and different kinds of deer, porcupines, civets, monitor lizards and snakes.

Another attraction of Latpanchar is the spacious forest bungalow in the middle of the wilds. The cozy wooden structure with large windows and balcony brings the outdoor wilderness right inside your bedroom. The more adventurous travelers can spend night in tents pitched around the bungalows. Wake up to the call of a wild fowl, or to the alarm cry of a deer.

Latpanchar is also popular for the bird lovers and jungle trekkers. Several short treks originate from here leading to some treacherous terrain through the deep forest covers. The most important trekking trail goes up to Gulma peak - an unexplored hilltop in the Sanctuary and other down to Sevok following a rather difficult stream through the virgin wilderness. From Latpanchar one can also trek to Namthing Lake, one of the very few places left in Himalayas that houses Salamander, a rear and endemic reptile of the region.


Latpanchar can be reached from Siliguri with a 2 hrs drive covering 48kms via Kalijhora on NH31 A.

Places to visit:

Snow capped peaks of Kanchenjunga range can be seen from here. One can also see the Tista River, Kalimpong hill area, Algara, Lava, Tode, Tangda and the plains of Terai. The best part of visit to Latpanchar is that you can enjoy the beauty of the hill without having to jostle among tourist crowd.

The lake of Namthing - Situated at an altitude of 4250 ft above sea level, the beautiful lake is the natural habitat for a number of rare species. Namthing Lake is only the second place in the region where you can see the Himalayan Salamander in the wild, the only other place being Jorpokhri.

Latkothi - about 4 km from Latpanchar. The mountain road through the Cinchona, Sal, Teak & Pine trees reaches here to disclose the wonder of nature. You can spend a day in this place or may further visit the Kuhi area with special permit from the forest department. Colorful butterflies and birds will welcome you to the region.

Sansari Dara - This is the viewpoint from where you can watch the sunrise over the Himalayas.

Hotel accommodation in Latpanchar:
Being a small place there is not much option of good hotels in Latpanchar. However the government maintained Forest Bungalow spread over a hill slop overlooking the vast forest canopy of Mahananda Sanctuary far below is the best place offering cozy and comfortable stay.

A small privet hotel 'Himalayan Resorts' offers few rooms with basic facilities.

Accommodation is also available in Himalayan Nature resort.
My suggestion is that, you may book your hotel and tickets through internet. Because it is easier and now this type of hotels advertisement is available into any travailing site. Just click them and book your room.

Train Running Information from Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri
Just click at below link:~

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Visit Coochbehar District

District Headquarter : Cooch Behar town
Nearest Rail station : New Cooch Behar
Nearest Bus terminus : Central Bus Terminus
(Rajbari Bus Terminus - near Bhavani cinema hall)

The history of Cooch Behar is synonymous with the grandeur of kings, palaces and temples – and its influence can be witnessed in the magnificent palaces and temples that dot the entire land of this lesser known district in North Bengal. It possesses a rich cultural, historical and traditional heritage that is ancient and magnificent.Cooch Behar was a princely state ruled by the feudal Koch Kings until 20th August, 1949; powers were ceded by the kingdom to the Government of India by the force of an agreement on the above date. Thereafter, Cooch Behar was merged with the state of West Bengal in 19th January, 1950, and was identified as a district. It should be remembered that Cooch Behar was a kingdom that was transformed to a state and finally came into being as a district of West Bengal, however, the boundaries of the state still remains intact.Cooch Behar is well known for its palaces and royal buildings; prominent among them is the Royal Palace of the Koch Kings called Rajbari. Other royal buildings and palaces are used as Government offices, hospitals and defense quarters. There are numerous fact, myths and stories associated with each of these buildings and palaces that old people love to share with anyone who is interested in its history. Today, Cooch Behar is a well planned modern city minus the chaos, noise and pollution found in other cities of India.Cooch Behar has also gained importance from an archeological perspective since the excavation of remains at Gosanimari Rajpat where ancient stone sculptures, stone engravings and a water system were found recently.Cooch Behar is an ideal place for visitors who want to experience the nostalgia of a bygone era when larger than life kings ruled the land; to hear the stories of their glorious past; and to witness the rich heritage and legacy they have left behind for the people.


Baradebi Bari :::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Madan Mohan Temple ::::::::::::::: Brahmo Mandir

Siddhanath Siva Temple ::::::::::::: Dangar Ayee Temple :::::::::::: Madhupur Dham Temple

Siddheswari Kali Bari ::::::::::::::::: Baneswar Siva Temple ::::::::::::::::::: Kamteswari Temple

Gorumara forest :::::::::::::::::::::::::: Jaldapara forest :::::::::::::::::::::: Madarihat

Train Running Information from Kolkata
Just click at below link :~

Travel India is Mysterious, Colorful, Exotic, and always Memorable.
A visit to the country is a changing spectacle of religions, customs, festivals sights and sounds. With a historical backdrop of 5,000 years, India is one big package of culture and legend that never fails to captivate the visitor.
But there are also endless natural spenders...
The mighty Himalayas that straddle the north, the vast Indo-Genetic Plains, lush tropical jungles teeming with wildlife, and a 5,000 km-long coastline embellished with golden beaches... The outdoorsman will enjoy the challenges of adventure, while the culture-seeker can soak up the history of the country.A holiday in India is always an eventful experience and one that requires perfect scheduling, planning, and budgeting. This is a vast country and logistics are an important factor for travelers.

Steeped in thousands of years of history, much of east India still remains untouched by time.
It is in the unimaginably fertile Ganga delta that the ancient kingdoms with lilting names like Anga, Banga, Kalinga flourished at least 3000 years ago. It is in Bihar and neighboring Uttar Pradesh region that the Buddha and Mahavira preached the gentle way of life which changed human history. It is in Orissa that the cataclysmic Kalinga war was fought, an experience that chastened Emperor Ashoka into becoming one of the greatest rulers of ancient times. It is in Bengal where the British metamorphosed from traders to supreme rulers of India - an historical event that altered India's national psyche for centuries. As powers and persona rose and fell, history shaped the people of the plains.It is in the east that early industrialization of India took place, due to the incredibly rich hinterland, access to river and ocean commercial transport and British investment in technology. Many of India's largest corporate houses are still based in Calcutta. Most of India's steel industry is located in Bihar and West Bengal region due to its proximity to coal/ iron ore belt here.In strange contrast are the States in the north east, only lightly touched by time and history. Here the Ahoms came to conquer from across the borders in ancient times, but settled down to integrate peacefully. It is here in the dense forests the rhinos thunder, orchids beckon and birds and butterflies paint the air in brilliant shades.The tribal life goes on as always, serenely unconcerned about modern upheavals.The Andaman and Nicobar Islands present yet another vista -emerald dollops in the sapphire ocean still primeval in their pristine beauty.

Geographically north India has great diversity. The towering majesty of the Himalayas, the breathtaking mountainous beauty of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir, the agriculturally rich plains of Punjab, Haryana and the Ganga basin of Uttar Pradesh that has nurtured many ancient civilisations form an incredibly rich visual extravaganza.
The history of this land of the Vedas goes back at least 5000 years, the passage of the millennia peppered by the arrival of explorers, issionaries, envoys and traders. They all contributed to the cultural kaleidoscope that north India is today, a very colourful destination for the modern tourist.Uttar Pradesh is the confluence of the three mighty religions of the world - Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world and to this day one of the holiest of the Hindu pilgrimage centres, followed by Gaya. Part of this State was called the Middle Land in Buddhist literature, hallowed by the presence of the Buddha and Mahavira 2500 years ago. It was also in Uttar Pradesh that Muslim culture really blossomed in immortal literature, dance, music, art and architecture.Rajasthan is a State with an entirely different visage. Its medieval forts and palaces, the very distinctive nomadic desert lifestyle and stark scenery are unique in India.The mountainous States of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are dream destinations for tourists since they combine the awesome beauty of the Himalayas with a delightfully distinctive ethnic culture.This rich cultural tapestry is woven with brilliant strands of many hues-dance, music, food, costumes, languages, customs, festivals -a variety staggering in its appeal.

The four States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Madhya Pradesh in the west are so different in their landscape, culture and milieu that it may be difficult to believe they are adjacent.Maharashtra is the land of famed warriors. Ridged by the Western ghats and covered by dense forests, it has witnessed a valiant history - rise and fall of Maratha empire. Shivaji is still an immortal legend here, his memories alive in the innumerable forts scattered across the countryside. The rock cut caves at Ajanta and Ellora eloquently record the earliest mingling of all faiths - the Buddhist, Jain and Hindu sculptures and frescoes co-exist in complete harmony.Since ancient times Arab traders touched the Indian ports on the west coast of Gujarat and a multi-product export import trade flourished. The mythical port city of Dwarka supposed to befounded by Lord Krishna5000 years ago, had been recently excavated from below the sea. The ruins of Harappan civilization discovered in Lothal date back 3500 years. Gujarat is still steeped in history. The Muslim culture in Ahmedabad founded by Ahmed Shah and the memories of life and work of Mahatma Gandhi who spent a part of his life here, are a living presence still.Goa conjures another world. Ancient temples and majestic churches, a rich tradition of classical music, truly exuberant folk entertainment, delectable cuisine and a beautiful 100 km coastline with nearly year round sunshine combine in magical alchemy to make it an ideal getaway holiday resort.Madhya Pradesh, surrounded by seven States, known as the heart of India, geographically shares the mountain ranges and plateaus of the western States. Its verdant forests are rich in flora and fauna and shelter ancient tribes, in many ways a uniquely harmonious world where life continues to be unhurried and natural.

South India, surrounded by three oceans, is a region of overwhelming grandeur and pristine beauty. Separated from north India by the Vindhya mountain range, the south Indian peninsula is doubly insulated by the Arabian Sea and Eastern Ghats on the east and the Bay of Bengal and Western Ghats on the west.
As a result, this triangular volcanic land that was once part of the geologically primeval Gondwanaland, remained culturally undisturbed for millennia, evolving an aura of poised tranquillity.
The dominant features of south India are the tropical climate less harsh than the northern States, lush green tropical vegetation in the coastal areas and the architecture, culture, languages and lifestyle which had remained essentially Dravidian at the core in spite of repeated exposures to alien influences.Since the southern culture evolved millennia before the modern State borders did, there is a racial, cultural and linguistic homogeneity here that makes visitors perceive the four major southern States together simply as 'south India', albeit mistakenly.In spite of the seeming similarity, each State has different scenery, festivals, architecture and subtle cultural variations to offer, each State in its own right a fascinating tourist destination. Pondicherry and Lakshadweep are again utterly different from the four traditional States of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. The leitmotif of southern culture is its tapestry of magnificent temple architecture going back to the 6th century, the unaltered traditions of food, religion and lifestyle, handicrafts, heritage of sandalwood, silk, rosewood and brass, and of course the grandeur of classical dance and music.This is a land of temples, a land of the devout, the profusion of jasmine and 'kanakambaram' flowers and the soft beat of distant drums as yet another festival starts...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


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