Monsoons in India are a magical time. The country turns a million new shades of green and the rains come as a pleasant respite from the scorching heat of the summer months. Come August and the monsoon reaches a spectacular crescendo and then begins receding from most parts of India. In several ways, August also marks the beginning of the festive season. August itself has at least three major religious festivals — Parsi New Year (that falls on August 17), Raksha Bandhan (August 18) and Janmashtami (August 24-25) — and that is just the beginning of a series of festivals that are to come in the months to follow. Indeed August is perhaps the best month to start exploring the country if you really want to take in its cultural diversity. So where do we begin our journey? Also Read - On Phone, PM Modi Discusses COVID-19 Situation With French President Macron
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As clichéd as it may sound, Goa is indeed one of the best places to visit in August. Guide books will probably tell you that the best time to visit the state is in December, when Goa throws one helluva party. While this is true for most part, it is in the monsoons that Goa returns to being the quaint, quiet and laidback place that it really is. And that is when that the magic really begins. The good folks at Goa Tourism have finally woken up to the potential of Goa in the monsoons and theyre doing their very best to promote the state. Also Read - Reel Life Ram Arun Govil Watches Ramayan Along With His Grandchildren, Picture Goes Viral
WHAT TO DO IN GOA
Most beach shacks are closed during this time of the year. But that doesnt mean there isnt anything to do in Goa during the monsoon.
Whitewater rafting: From June to September, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) offers river rafting opportunities along Mhadei (Rs 1800 inclusive of transport from Panaji to the Sattari, twice a day; 0832-2437132/ 0832-2437728/0832-2438515 /0832-2438866) as does Goa Rafting (+91-545305734 /+91-8805727230)
Go on a trek: Goas lush forests and spectacular waterfalls define Goas identity as much as its beach parties. Goa has several trekking trails and GTDC is cashing in on it. From June to September, GTDC is organising trekking expeditions in Goas hinterlands. Prices start from Rs 700 onwards. Among private operators Offtrail Adventures (+91-9960054428/+91-9850665650) also offers several trekking opportunities.
Participate in local festivals: Come monsoon and rural Goa springs to life with unique festivals. In August the tiny Divar Island, just off Panaji, will celebrate the Bonderam flag festival. Held on the fourth Saturday of August, Bonderam involves knocking down rival flags with berries, a tribute of sorts to a far bloodier practice of yore that used stones. The sleepy islands of Divar springs to life thanks to the carnival-like atmosphere even as parties continue late into the night.
Party away: Even though most beach shacks are shut during the monsoon, you can always head down to the ever-reliable Café Mambos (+91-9822765002) and Titos (+91-9822765002) at Baga Beach which throw a pretty darned good party all year round. If youre looking for something slightly hip, do consider Park Hotel (+91 8805028191) in Calangute whose bar has DJs belting out the latest hits.
ALSO READ 5 reasons you must visit Goa this monsoon!
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN GOA
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Goa (Ximer, Arpora Bardez, Arpora, Baga) is a great option if in North Goa. Taj Exotica (Calwaddo, Salcette, Benaulim) is a good option in South Goa.
Resorte Marinha Dourada (200 Tambudki Road, Arpora, Baga) in North Goa and Silver Sands Beach Resort (Colva Beach, Colva) in South Goa are good mid-range options
Roadhouse Hostel (#954, Grand Peddem, Off Flea Market Road, Near German Bakery, Monteiro Vaddo, Anjuna) is without a doubt the best and most popular option to stay in Goa if youre on a budget.
Goa has several more accommodation options for all kinds of budgets. Find them in our Goa Travel Guide
Confused about where to go and what to see in Goa? Do check out our Goa travel itinerary or watch this three-day Goa itinerary in 60 seconds
GETTING AROUND IN GOA
The best way to get around Goa is on a bike. While your hotel/hostel manager will be happy to arrange a ride for you, several travel agencies offer bikes on rents too. Here is everything you need to know about Goa bike rentals.
The tiny town of Meghalaya made its way into our collective subconscious back in school when our Geography books informed us of its unique status — of being the wettest place on earth. While townsfolk of Cherrapunji ensure they hammer the message with boards all over, the status of Cherrapunji is somewhat debatable. By some accounts, its neighboring town of Mawsynram is known to receive more rainfall than Cherrapunji and is the wettest inhabited places in the world. In what may be one of Indias greatest paradoxes, Cherrapunji suffers from acute water shortage and locals are known to travel great distances to get fresh water. Even so, Cherrapunji receives a staggering 11,777 mm of rainfall annually and if you want to chase monsoon in India, it is a place you cannot afford to miss.
PLACES TO VISIT IN CHERRAPUNJI
Seven Sisters Falls: Also known as Nohsngithiang Falls, this seven-segmented waterfall plunges from the top of limestone cliffs of Khasi Hills. The sight gets even more magical when the setting sun casts its spell on the majestic falls.
Nohkalikai Falls: Falling from a height of 1,115 ft Nohkalikai Falls have one of the tallest plunges in India and are one of Meghalayas biggest tourist attractions. Nohkalikai Falls get their name from a gruesome legend involving the suicide of a local Khasi woman. Nohkalikai can be translated from Khasi to Jump of Ka Likai (ka is a prefix for the female gender in Khasi). The ghoulish legend notwithstanding, Nohkalikai Falls make for a spectacular sight and some breathtaking photographs.
Living Root Bridges: Meghalayas unique concept is that of the living root bridges. These bridges are one-of-a-kind manmade but natural wonders. Members of the Khasi tribe train the roots of ancient rubber trees to grow in specific directions. Over time, these roots from natural bridges across rivers and streams. The strongest of them can take the weight of a hundred people and can survive hundreds of years. These bridges serve as reliable alternatives to wooden bridges that cave under consistent and heavy rainfall. While there are more than a few living root bridges in the East Khasi Hills of the state, the one that stands out is a double-decker one (pictured above). Note that it takes a two-three hour trek to reach the bridge.
Popularized by the 2003 edition of Discover India magazine that named it Asias cleanest village, Mawlynnong has grown popular with each passing year. Indeed the quaint village is a great place to unwind after a long trek to and/or from the double-decker living root bridges. The narrow but clean roads and the squeaky clean houses, several of which have been converted into homestays, are a sight to see in a country that refuses to pay attention to hygiene. Over the years Mawlynnongs reputation has spread far and wide and tourists come here in droves. During peak season, the tiny village sees as many as 250 tourists arriving at its doorsteps. And as Mawlynnong becomes more and more mainstream it has often led us to wonder if Asias cleanest village is just tad overrated.
There are several other places to visit in Cherrapunji. Here is a complete list of places to visit in Cherrapunji.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CHERRAPUNJI
Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort (+91-9436115925) is a good place to stay if you like to be well connected.
If you dont mind being cut off from the world, Serene Homestay in Nongriat (+91-9436739655/+91-96152526655) is the only place to stay at the double-decker living root bridges and is perfect if you like your solitude.
Confused about where to go and what to do in Cherrapunji? Check our multiple Cherrapunji itineraries here or you can simply watch this two-day Cherrapunji itinerary in 60 seconds
HOW TO REACH CHERRAPUNJI FROM SHILLONG
Cherrapunji is about 50 km from Meghalayas state capital, Shillong. But due to its narrow roads and weather conditions it can take as much as 90 minutes to cover the distance. Here is how you can reach from Shillong to Cherrapunji. Even though Shillong does have an airport, Guwahati remains the most reliable place to land. Guwahati and Shillong are well connected by National Highways 27 and 6. It takes about three hours to reach Shillong from Guwahati.
While you can either rent a car or book a seat on a bus from Guwahati to Shillong, if you are a little more adventurous, you can even ride the distance on a bike. Here is everything you need to know about renting bikes in Guwahati (also because Shillong doesnt have options to rent bikes.)
3. Agumbe, Karnataka
The tiny village nestled on a plateau atop the Someshwara Ghat in the Shimoga district of Karnatata, Agumbe receives the highest rainfall (about 7,640 mm annually) in South India. It is only apt, then, that Agumbe is called the Cherrapunji of South India. Agumbe is surrounded by rich biodiversity and is home to numerous rare species of medicinal plants and is also, therefore, called Hasiru Honnu which means green is gold. The forests around Shankaranarayana, Kundapur, Sringeri, Thirthahalli and Hosanagar are collectively called the Agumbe Rainforest Complex. These forests form one of the largest contiguous forest stretches in India and are home to Indias only permanent Rainforest Research Station.
Several Indians who may not have even heard of Agumbe have most likely seen the beauty of this place for it was here that the TV adaptation of RK Narayans immortal Malgudi Days was set. Dodda Mane or the Big House that served as the home of Malgudis hero, Swamy still stands here. It has reinvented itself as a homestay and remains the biggest attraction in this tiny village. But Agumbe has a lot more to offer than just nostalgia.
PLACES TO VISIT IN AGUMBE
Gopala Krishna Temple: Dating back to the 14th century, the Gopala Krishna Temple of the Hoysala period is yet another tourist attraction aside from Dodda Mane. Designed by the legendary architect Muniyangala Krishna Prasad of the Hoysala period, the temple can be accessed by 108 steps. These steps that lead devotees from the basement to the Garbha Gruha symbolize the 108 names of Krishna.
Sunset Point: Located just a ten-minute walk from Agumbe, the sunset point offers breathtaking views of the setting sun. And since the point is located on the highest peak along the Udupi-Agumbe road, it offers unrestricted views of the horizon. On a clear day you can even catch a glimpse of the Arabian Sea, which is more than 60 km away from this point.
Jogigundi Falls: Situated some three km from Agumbe enroute to the Barkana Falls, Jogigundi Falls are unique in that they flow out of a cave. At the bottom of the falls is a natural (not to mention very inviting) swimming pool.
Barkana Falls: Falling from 850 feet, Barkana Falls are the 10th highest in India. Formed by River Seeta, these falls can be seen from the Barkana View Point.
Kunchikal Falls: Formed by the river Varahi, Kunchikal Falls border the Udupi and Shimoga districts. Cascading down rocky boulders from a height of 1,493 feet these are the highest falls in India. Since the construction of the Mani Dam and an underground power generation station, the flow of these falls has thinned but they are visible in all their majesty during the monsoon.
Agumbes location also makes it a paradise for trekkers. Even though its forests are leech-infested, Agumbes lush green hills and beautiful waterfalls have attracted trekkers from all over the country for several years now. Each of these waterfalls mentioned above stand as well as the sunset point stand at the end of scenic trekking trails.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN AGUMBE
Dodda Mane (Jenni Akka, Agumbe +91 9448603343) the turn-of-the-century home that served as the setting for Malgudi Days is now a homestay and one that promises to take you back in time but has limited number of rooms.
Mallya Residency (near Agumbe Bus Stand; +91 9448814187) is the other major hotel in Agumbe besides Dodda Mane.
They dont call Kerala Gods Own Country for nothing. From lush green tea plantations of Munnar to the serene backwaters of Alappuzha (or Alleppey) and the dramatic beach landscapes of Kovalam, Kerala seems to have it all! No matter when youre visiting the state, it is never going to be an easy to select one single destination to visit in Kerala. Alappuzha and Kumarakom host the annual snake boat races this time of the year and the weather along the beaches of Kovalam (and our favorite, Mararikulam) is also quite pleasant. And even though guide books will have you believe that the best time to visit Munnar is in November, they are only partly true. Monsoons in Munnar can restrict your outdoor activities but by August, the rains in the region have receded (remember, Kerala is one of the first states in the country to welcome the rain gods) and while Munnar does have its share of drizzles, overall the beautiful hill station gets even more stunning with the mist adding that extra bit of magic.
Munnar, located at 6,000 feet above sea level, derives its name from Moonu Aaru that translate into three rivers in Malayalam. Indeed, the beautiful hill station is located at the confluence of three rivers — Madhurapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly. What was developed as a plantation town by John Daniel Munro the British resident to Travancore, Munnar has since evolved as the ultimate destination not just for cozying newlyweds but also adventure enthusiasts and wildlife and nature lovers alike. It doesnt matter if you want to simply put your feet up and relax, go on a trek, jump off a cliff with a paraglider or explore the wild, Munnar has it all. And if you like you chai, you wont find a lot to complain about in Munnar!
PLACES TO VISIT IN AND AROUND MUNNAR
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary: Indias best-known ornithologist, Salim Ali is known to have called Thattekad Bird Sanctuary as the richest bird habitat in the Indian peninsula. Established in 1983, Keralas first bird sanctuary is spread across 25 sq km. While you are permitted to trek through the sanctuary, several parts of the forest are out of bounds for tourists. Even so the trails allotted for trekking are mesmerizingly beautiful and offer an opportunity to watch a large variety of exotic and rare birds.
Kannan Devan Tea Museum: This is Indias first Tea Museum and is open every day (except Mondays) between 10 am and 5 pm. The museum not only offers tea tasting sessions and tours of the estate, it also shows you just how tea is made. One of the rooms also takes you back in time with its collection of antique bungalow furniture, cash safe, magneto phone and typewriters among other objects that kept the tea estate running back in the day.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary: Located in the heart of the Nilgiris, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is home to more than 580 species of fauna and 965 species of flora. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 90.44 sq km and is among the 12 wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala. The sanctuary is a great place for bird-watching and also has a large sandalwood forest.
Mattupetty: Known as much for its dam and its picturesque lake as its scenic splendor, Mattupetty is about 13 km from and at about the same elevation as Munnar. Matupetty boasts of mist-laden hills, rolling grasslands and scenic trekking trails through its lush green hills and spice plantations.
For more places to visit in Munnar check our Munnar travel guide.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MUNNAR
KTDC Tea County (Ikka Nagar, Munnar; 04865-230460) is one of the best places to stay in Munnar.
About as expensive is the upscale Swiss County (Chitirapuram PO, Pallivasal, Munnar; +91 98466 93700
Gruenberg Tea Plantation Haus (Power house Road, Dobipalam, Chithirapuram, Munnar; +91 94462 25533) is an ideal location if you like the idea of waking up in the middle of a tea plantation.
Located some 120 km from Madurai, Kodaikanal can be translated from Tamil as The gift of the forest. Founded in 1845, Kodaikanal is often called the Princess of Hill Stations; its neighbor, Ooty is known as the Queen. In fact, Kodaikanal is far more intimate and laidback than Ooty and has a more cosmopolitan vibe thanks to the presence of the Kodaikanal International School that admits students and employs staff from around the world. Kodaikanal is particularly popular honeymooners, who flock this quaint hill station during the wedding season.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN KODAIKANAL
Kodai Lake: The star-shaped lake serves as the city center and distances to all landmarks in and around Kodaikanal are calculated from this very lake. Kodai Lake serves as a great place for morning and night walks (though some portions around the lake can be dark) as also the perfect place to go boating. If you arrive in Kodai during the winters, consider going boating in the evening as the fog settles on the lake.
Coakers Walk: Offering breathtaking views of scenic valleys and dramatic skies, Coakers Walk is also a great place to watch the sunrise. For a small fee, you can even view various landmarks using a telescope.
Bryant Park: A 10-minute walk from the entrance of the Boat Club, Bryant Park is huge and well maintained. If youre looking to spend some quiet time, Byrant Park is a great place to head to. In summers, the park comes alive with its flower shows.
Echo Point: Do consider taking a trek to Dolphins Nose; Echo Point is a little further up from Dolphins Nose. Dont expect the kind of echoes you see in the movies but its still quite an experience.
Kurinjiandavar Temple: Some four km from Kodai Lake is the Kurinjiandavar Temple. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Muruga but what makes the temple even more unique is the flowers of the Kurinji plant it houses and which bloom once in 12 years.
Guna Caves: The caves that received their name from the movie, Guna, which was shot here are steep and risky to access but ones that attract several tourists if only to get pictures of themselves at an iconic film location.
Confused about where to go and what to see in Kodaikanal? Do check out our Kodaikanal travel itinerary or watch this two-day Goa itinerary in 60 seconds
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KODAIKANAL
Kodai by the Valley (Attuvampatti, Pallangi Rd, Kodaikanal; 04542-244447) is spread over seven acres over a sloping hillside. Kodai by the Valley offers apartments as well as guest rooms that offer breathtaking views of the valley below.
The Fern Creek (212/118, Fern Hill Road, Kodaikanal; +91-89398-48744) is set around a rural British-era lodge and offers great service and warm hospitality.
Villa Retreat (Coaker’s Walk Noyce Rd, Kodaikanal; +91 7373043557) offers clean, spacious rooms, breathtaking views and has attentive staff which helps it score high on guest reviews.
Kodai also has a number of places for budget travelers. Here are five best budget stays in Kodaikanal under Rs 1100!
Rajasthans only hill station is some 475 km from the states capital of Jaipur. Located in the Sirohi district on the highest peak of the Aravallis, Mount Abu is known as much to be a summer getaway in an arid state as it is for its Dilwara Jain Temples, which attract thousands of pilgrims every year. Mount Abus landscape stands out with its coniferous trees and shrubs that cover the hillside. But the quaint hill station receives its name from a legend. It is believed that the sage Vasistha meditated here and helped the river Saraswati to become pure again after she was cursed by the haughty sage (and Vasisthas rival) Vishwamitra. Mount Abu is the Anglicized name of Arbudaranya meaning forest of Arbhu or hill of wisdom. During the British Raj, the Maharaja of Sirohi leased out the hill station to the East India Company and right up until Indias Independence Mount Abu served as the headquarters for the Resident of Rajputana as well as a sanatorium for the British troops.
For centuries now, Mount Abu has served as the summer capital of the desert state. And while it hosts tourists almost every month, Mount Abu really comes alive during the three-day summer festival (usually held in the first fortnight of May) when musicians and dancers flock here to showcase their talents.
PLACES TO VISIT IN MOUNT ABU
Dilwara Temples Dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras, the Dilwara Temples are known as much for their architectural splendor as they are for their exquisite stone carvings. Constructed between the 11th and the 13th centuries, these temples are an important pilgrimage for the Jain community. The five shrines in this temple complex are dedicated to Adinath, Rishabhdev, Nemi Nathji, Mahavir Swami and Parshvanath.
Nakki Lake: Abus most popular tourist attraction is the Nakki Lake. Legend has it that the lake was dug out with nails (or nakh) lending the lake its present name. One legend goes on to suggest that the Nakki Lake was dug out by Gods to protect them from a demon. Today it serves as a popular picnic spot for locals and tourists of Mount Abu.
Peace Park: Part of the Brahma Kumaris group, a popular spiritual cult, Peace Park is nestled between the two peaks of Aravali — Guru Shikhar and Achalgarh. The park which has a citrus and an orchid corner as well as a rock garden is indeed as peaceful as its name suggests.
Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary: Located in one of the oldest mountain ranges in India Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1980. Rich in flora and fauna, the sanctuary is home to leopards, wolves, hyenas, jackals, foxes and several other animals.
Mount Abu has several more places to visit. Find them in our Mount Abu Travel Guide
MOUNT ABU ITINERARY
Confused about where to go and what to see in Mount Abu? Do watch our one-day Mount Abu itinerary in 60 seconds
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MOUNT ABU
Hotel Hillock (Abu Cart Road, Mount Abu; 02974 238 463) is one of the top upscale hotels in Mount Abu.
Hotel Karnavati (Gaumukh Road Corner, Abu Cart Road, Mount Abu; 02974 235265) is the other major hotel in town and is just as good.
With its green hills, varied flora and fauna and spectacular views of the Himalayas, Mussoorie is one of Uttarakhands most popular hill stations. Located some 34 km from Dehradun, the states more popular summer getaway, Mussoorie was founded back in 1820. The story goes that one Captain Young of the British Army was so drawn to Mussoorie that he just decided to make it his home. Interestingly, Mussoorie gets its name from the eponymous plant that grows in abundance here. Mussoorie also has a special place in history because it was the first place of refuge of the Dalai Lama when he fled Tibet. The Dalai Lama took shelter in the Shedup Choepelling Temple after he fled Chinas persecution. Mussoorie tends to get crowded during the summers with hundreds of tourists thronging the hill station. But in August Mussoorie returns to being the quiet town that it really is. The hotel tariff is slashed drastically and locals are warmer than their usual selves because they appreciate the off-season business.
PLACES TO VISIT IN MUSSOORIE
Happy Valley: Some two km from the main bus terminal is Happy Valley, a colony that is home to some 5,000 Tibetan refugees. Mussoorie was the first seat of Tibetan government-in-exile before it moved to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. But the Dalai Lama left behind a large community of Tibetans who have, today, become an integral part of Mussoorie.
Shedup Choepelling Temple: Located along the long and winding Happy Valley road this was the temple where the Dalai Lama first took shelter. There are little or no signboards directing you to the temple but locals will almost always be thrilled to show you the way. Dont miss it!
Mussoorie Lake: Located just 6 km from the city center en route to Dehradun, Mussoorie Lake has been developed for tourists. So, if you fancy a boat ride, this is the place to be at.
Mussoorie has several more places to visit. Find them in our Mussoorie Travel Guide
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MUSSOORIE
JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa (Village Siya, Kempty Fall Road, Tehri Garhwal, Mussoorie; 0135 263 5700) is a five-star property in Mussoorie that lives every bit up to the expectations.
Fortune Resort Grace (Library Bazaar, Gandhi Chowk, Mussoorie; 0135 2636000) is a good mid-range property.
And Hotel Himalayan Club (Picture Palace Side, Mussoorie; 0135 2632805) is one of the best budget properties in Mussoorie.
8. Alappuzha (or Alleppey), Kerala
Alappuzha (better known by its anglicized name, Alleppey) shot into the limelight sometime in the early noughties when Kerala Tourism began promoting it as prominent backwater destination. But long before the backwaters became the mainstay of Keralas tourism, Alappuzha port was one very busy trade centers. Alappuzha had trade connections with not just the Persian Gulf regions but also Europe. It was only in the early 20th century that Alappuzha was introduced to the western world. During a visit to Alappuzha, the then British Viceroy Lord Curzon was so taken in by the scenic beauty of the place that he declared it the Venice of the East.
But the history of Alappuzha goes back a few more centuries before Curzons arrival on its shores. Founded by Travancores Dewan Raja Kesava Das sometime in the second half of the 18th century, Alappuzha was known to have trade relations with Greece and Rome. It isnt surprising then that it finds mention in the works of the legendary travelers Pliny and Ptolemy. Alappuzha owes much of its prosperity to the foresight of Raja Kesava Das who invested in construction of roads and canals and improved transportation making it an important port in Ancient India.
Christianity arrived in Alappuzha around 52 AD when Thomas, the Apostle spread the word of Christ in this region. To this day, Christianity has a strong foothold in Alappuzha and indeed Kerala.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIRING A HOUSEBOAT IN THE BACKWATERS
No experience in Kerala can ever be complete without a night in the houseboat. By some estimates Alappuzha or Alleppey is home to at least 500 houseboats. The houseboats that are now a permanent fixture in the Vembanadu Lake owe their existence to their counterparts in Kashmir. While it is difficult to point to a date or a year when they started appearing along the lake, an unknown entrepreneur is credited with converted the rice barges into spectacular houseboats to offer something unique to the tourists.
HOW LONG CAN YOU HIRE A HOUSEBOAT for?
The short answer to that is: As long as you want to! But it can get spectacularly boring on a houseboat beyond one or two nights. Typically most tourists hire a houseboat for a single night and choose to stay in one of the resorts for the remaining time.
From Alappuzha these houseboats will take you through various parts of the backwaters — from Kumarakom and Kottayam to Alinkadavu. They travel at an exceptionally slow pace and cover a distance of over 40-odd km in the course of a single day. This helps you see the varied scenery around the Vembandu Lake. All luxury hotels own houseboats (so you could buy a package in a way that you spend one night on the boat) but you can also rent boats from private operators.
Confused about where to go and what to see in Alappuzha? Do watch our one-day Alappuzha itinerary in 60 seconds
WHO ARE THE PROMINENT HOUSEBOAT OPERATORS?
Lakes and Lagoons (0477 226 6842) is an ISO certified houseboat tour company and runs its operations from Alappuzha
Spice Coast Cruises (0484 3011711), part of CGH Earth, one of the biggest local resort chains in the state, are one of the best and most reliable operators.
Also in the game are River and Country Cruises (0477 2253581) and Morning Mist Cruises (094475 66251) both of which are known to be among the better houseboat operators in Kerala.
Kanyakumari very much lives up to the hype that surrounds it. Standing at the southernmost tip of Indias mainland is an experience that few others can rival. Located 86 km south east of Thiruvananthapuram, Kanyakumari stands at the confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. This also makes Kanyakumari the only district in India where you can witness the sun rise from and set into the ocean.
Kanyakumari, the town and the district, gets its name from the Hindu goddess of the same name and one who has a temple dedicated to her here. There are several myths and legends associated with Kanyakumari. There is one which suggests that Kanya Devi was a reincarnation of Parvati. She was supposed to marry Shiva but he failed to show up for the wedding. Enraged, the goddess scattered all the food prepared for the wedding and it all turned into stones, which now dot the tip of the Indian peninsula.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial: Constructed in 1970 by the Ramakrishna Mission, the memorial stands on an island just off the Kanyakumari shore where Vivekananda meditated.
Thiruvalluvar Statue: The stone sculpture of the Tamil poet-philosopher Thiruvalluvar stands right next to the Vivekananda Rock memorial. The 133 feet-high statue is an iconic landmark that gives the Kanyakumari skyline its distinct identity.
Kanyakumari Temple: Constructed at the edge of the sea, this temple is dedicated to Kumari Amman after who the town is named. According to legends, the nose ring of her idol shines so brightly that ships were believed to stray from their course and crash on the rocks of Kanyakumari. And so, the priests began to keep the eastern door of the temple shut, a practice that continues to this day.
Confused about where to go and what to see in Kanyakumari? Watch this two-day Kanyakumari itinerary in 60 seconds
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KANYAKUMARI
Seashore Hotel (E Car Street, Kanyakumari; 04652 246707) is the fanciest hotel in Kanyakumari. It has a restaurant on the seventh floor that offers unrestricted views of the sunrise and the sunset.
Hotel Tri Sea (Near Seashore, Kovalam Rd, Kanyakumari; 1800 4250 7474) also offers some sea-view rooms but falls in the mid-range category.
Hotel Narmadha (Kovalam Road; 04652 246365) is among the cheapest accommodations in Kanyakumari.
10. Coorg, Karnataka
The hill station of Karnataka best known for its coffee and tea plantations, Coorg is often called the Scotland of India or the Kashmir of the South, depending on who you ask. In any case both the sobriquets are well earned thanks to Coorgs cool climate and spectacular beauty. Located some 3500 feet above sea level and nestled in the Western Ghats, Coorg is one of the best places to visit in August.
PLACES TO VISIT IN COORG
Madikeri: Known for its natural beauty, dense forests and gushing waterfalls, Madikeri is everything you can ask from a relaxing vacation. And if you like angling, Madikeri is the best place to be as trout and mahaseer are found in abundance here.
Rajas Seat: The place gets its name from the belief that it would once be frequented by kings who spent their evenings watching the sunset. The kings are now gone but the sunsets remain as dramatic as we imagine they were all those centuries ago.
Abbi Falls: Located about 90 km south of Madikeri, Abbi Falls are one of Coorgs most popular tourist destinations. Do visit these falls but be mindful of what you leave behind. Abbi Falls have been witnessing a high influx of tourist that has been taking a toll on its beauty.
Confused about where to go and what to see in Coorg? Watch this two-day Coorg itinerary in 60 seconds
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN COORG
Gowri Nivas (New extension, Madikeri; +91 82722 28597) is an ancestral property that has received a new lease of life as a homestay.
Bel Home (Bellarimotte Estate, Madapura Post, Madikeri; +91 8276204477) is the perfect place if youre looking to disconnect. The homestay has no television and it encourages you to step out and about.
Orange County (Karadigodu Post, Siddapur, Madikeri; +91 8274258481) is Coorgs most famous resort. Spread over a 162-hectare estate, Orange County is everything you can ask of from a vacation in Coorg.
And then there is Vivanta by Taj (1st Monnageri, Galibeedu Post, Madikeri; +91 8272665800), a spectacular Taj Hotels property that will pamper you crazy from the moment you check in.
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