eco tourism

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http://www.incredibleindia.org/newsite/cms_page.asp?pageid=994 Eco-tourism is more than a catch phrase for nature loving travel and recreation. Eco-tourism is consecrated for preserving and sustaining the diversity of the world's natural and cultural environments. It accommodates and entertains visitors in a way that is minimally intrusive or destructive to the environment and sustains & supports the native cultures in the locations it is operating in. Responsibility of both travellers and service providers is the genuine meaning for eco-tourism. Eco-tourism also endeavours to encourage and support the diversity of local economies for which the tourism-related income is important. With support from tourists, local services and producers can compete with larger, foreign companies and local families can support themselves. Besides all these, the revenue produced from tourism helps and encourages governments to fund conservation projects and training programs. Saving the environment around you and preserving the natural luxuries and forest life, that's what eco-tourism is all about. Whether it's about a nature camp or organizing trekking trips towards the unspoilt and inaccessible regions, one should always keep in mind not to create any mishap or disturbance in the life cycle of nature. Eco-tourism focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on our vulnerable planet. It is typically defined as travel to destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible Eco-tourism includes programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency,

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Page 1: Eco Tourism

http://www.incredibleindia.org/newsite/cms_page.asp?pageid=994

Eco-tourism is more than a catch phrase for nature loving travel and recreation. Eco-tourism is consecrated for preserving and sustaining the diversity of the world's natural and cultural environments. It accommodates and entertains visitors in a way that is minimally intrusive or destructive to the environment and sustains & supports the native cultures in the locations it is operating in. Responsibility of both travellers and service providers is the genuine meaning for eco-tourism.

Eco-tourism also endeavours to encourage and support the diversity of local economies for which the tourism-related income is important. With support from tourists, local services and producers can compete with larger, foreign companies and local families can support themselves. Besides all these, the revenue produced from tourism helps and encourages governments to fund conservation projects and training programs.

Saving the environment around you and preserving the natural luxuries and forest life, that's what eco-tourism is all about. Whether it's about a nature camp or organizing trekking trips towards the unspoilt and inaccessible regions, one should always keep in mind not to create any mishap or disturbance in the life cycle of nature.

Eco-tourism focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on our vulnerable planet. It is typically defined as travel to destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible Eco-tourism includes programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water reuse, and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities are an integral part of Eco-tourism.

Historical, biological and cultural conservation, preservation, sustainable development etc. are some of the fields closely related to Eco-Tourism. Many professionals have been involved in formulating and developing eco-tourism policies. They come from the fields of Geographic Information Systems, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Photography, Marine Biology and Oceanography, National and State Park Management, Environmental Sciences, Women in Development, Historians and Archaeologists, etc.

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Eco-tourism is considered the fastest growing market in the tourism industry, according to the World Tourism Organization with an annual growth rate of 5% worldwide and representing 6% of the world gross domestic product, 11.4% of all consumer spending - not a market to be taken lightly.

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What is Eco-tourism?

Fundamentally, eco-tourism means making as little environmental impact as possible and helping to sustain the indigenous populace, thereby encouraging the preservation of wildlife and habitats when visiting a place. This is responsible form of tourism and tourism development, which encourages going back to natural products in every aspect of life. It is also the key to sustainable ecological development.

The International Eco-tourism Society defines eco-tourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." This means that those who implement and participate in Eco-tourism activities should follow the following principles:

Minimize impact

Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect

Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts

Provide direct financial benefits for conservation

Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people

Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate

Support international human rights and labour agreements

Aware of the Environment - Today the "Green Laws" of conservation are making people aware of how man and the environment can live symbiotically for more time to come and eco-tourism is the only way to maximize the economic, environmental and social benefits of tourism. Everyone is a stakeholder in the process and we clearly need to avoid our past shortcomings and negative impact that they have had.

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In India too the movement is gathering momentum with more and more travel and travel related organisation's are addressing the needs of the eco-tourists and promoting eco-tourism in the country. Some basic do's and don'ts of eco-tourism are listed below:

Do's

Carry back all non-degradable litter such as empty bottles, tins, plastic bags etc. These must not

litter the environment or be buried. They must be disposed in municipal dustbins only.

Observe the sanctity of holy sites, temples and local cultures.

Cut noise pollution. Do not blare aloud radios, tape recorders or other electronic entertainment

equipment in nature resorts, sanctuaries and wildlife parks.

In case temporary toilets are set-up near campsites, after defecation, cover with mud or sand. Make

sure that the spot is at least 30 meters away from the water source.

Respect people's privacy while taking photographs. Ask for prior permission before taking a

photograph.

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Don'ts

Do not take away flora and fauna in the forms of cuttings, seeds or roots. It is illegal, especially in

the Himalayas. The environment is really delicate in this region and the bio-diversity of the region

has to be protected at all costs.

Do not use pollutants such as detergent, in streams or springs while washing and bathing.

Do not use wood as fuel to cook food at the campsite.

Do not leave cigarettes butts or make open fires in the forests.

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Do not consume aerated drinks, alcohol, drugs or any other intoxicant and throw bottles in the wild.

Do not tempt the locals, especially children by offering them foodstuff or sweets. Respect local

traditions.

Polythene and plastics are non biodegradable and unhealthy for the environment and must not be

used and littered.

As a traveller, you will have an impact on the environment and culture of the place you are visiting. Here are some rules of thumb to make this impact positive!

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Golden Rules When You Travel

Learn about your destination before you get there. Read guidebooks, travel articles, histories,

and/or novels by local authors and pay particular attention to customs such as greetings,

appropriate dress, eating behaviours, etc. Being sensitive to these customs will increase local

acceptance of you as a tourist and enrich your trip.

Follow established guidelines. Ask your eco-tour operator, guide and/or the local authorities what

their guidelines are for limiting tourism's impact on the environment and local culture. Staying on

trails, packing up your trash, and remaining set distances away from wildlife are a few ways to

minimize your impact in sensitive areas.

Seek out and support locally owned businesses. Support local businesses during your eco-travels to

ensure maximum community and conservation benefit from your spending.

Eco-Tourism in India is still at a very nascent stage, but there are for sure conscious efforts to save the fragile Himalayan Eco System and culture and heritage of the indigenous people, which is probably the largest concentration in the world.

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Holiday Camping vis a vis Hotel accommodation are gathering momentum amongst the metropolis traveller. A plethora of holiday camping options are available in the Himalayan belt, where soft adventure tourism is packaged with holiday camping to create an acceptable eco-tourism product. Resorts tucked deep inside jungles of Karnataka, House-boats of Kerala, Tree Houses at Vythiri combine to make India one of the most diverse eco-tourism destinations on the planet. Some of these are given below

Eco-Tourism Pioneers in Kerala - http://www.tourindiakerala.com

Jungle Lodges and Resorts - (Eco-Tourism Pioneers in South India) - http://www.junglelodges.com

The Camp RapidFire - Rishikesh, Uttaranchal

The Camp BodhiSatva - Rajgarh, Himachal Pradesh

The Himalayan Trout House - Tirthan, Himachal Pradesh - www.questrails.com

Info on Organic Farming & Eco-Tourism:

The Saat-tal Camp - Saat-tal, Nainital

The Camp Purple - Mukteshwar

The Camp Kyari (one of the finest models of Eco-tourism in the country) - Village Kyari, Ramnagar - www.wildrift.com

Camp Silver Sands - Rishikesh, Uttaranchal

Camp Lunagarh - Mori, Uttaranchal - www.treknraft.com

The Himalayan River Runner Camp - Rishikesh, Uttaranchal - www.hrr.com

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The OAI Camp - Rishikesh, Uttaranchal - www.oai.com

The Leopard Beach Camp - Rishikesh, Uttaranchal - www.snowleopardadventures.com

These are but a selective panorama on the Indian Eco-tourism products. Some other eco-tourism spots in India are well detailed on the website http://ecoclub.com/india.html

Adventure sports

Blessed with snow-clad peaks, crystal glaciers, rolling meadows and ski slopes, beautiful valleys, meandering and roaring rivers, gushing waterfalls, thick forests rich in wildlife, swampy deltas, long coastlines and magical moonscapes - India has something for everyone looking for adventure.

Adventure<

Water Sports

Water Sports

The Himalayas offer you some of the toughest and most exciting river runs in the world. River sports in the rapids are the most popular, throughout the summers and can really get your adrenaline pumping. The innumerable fresh water streams and lakes in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are ideal for angling and trout fishing. The coastal regions provide excellent opportunities for water sports like water skiing, wind surfing, yachting, snorkelling and scuba diving.

Further south you can enjoy water adventures along both the west and the east coasts of India. The islands of Andaman and Nicobar in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep in the Indian Ocean are virtually untouched and are some of the best spots for scuba diving and snorkelling. The beaches of Goa and Kerala also offer other sporting opportunities like water skiing, wind surfing and sailing.

The West coast offers sailing in Mumbai, Goa and the lakes around Pune.

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White Water Rafting, Kayaking, Snorkelling or Scuba Diving if there is a concept of water sport in Adventure you can find it in this country. Along the length and breadth of the country the water bodies be it the rivers, lakes or the seas, present themselves as treasure troves of adventure waiting to be explored.

The best months for water sports are October and March.

White water rafting & Kayaking

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling

Water Skiing

SPM NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF WATER SPORTS, GOA www.niws.nic.in

•Sports

Water Sports

Scuba Diving Snorkelling Canoeing, Kayaking & Surfing

Water Skiing Other Water Sports Beaches

When it comes to water sports, Indian Beaches are full of it. If it's diving you are looking for, check out the three main centres of Diving in India. Andaman & Nicobar group of Islands in the Bay Of Bengal, Lakshwadeep group of Islands in the Arabian Sea and Goa on the mainland.

Water sports activities offered by various beach resorts and sports clubs include Sailing, Para Sailing Windsurfing, and Water Skiing. Every beach destination of India is completely unique in its own way and they all have widely different dive conditions and marine life.

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Kovalam Beach is one of the best coastal beauties in India and because of its natural location; it affords facilities for a safe sea bath. The salubrious beach village of Covelong is a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life of Chennai and the sea and the surf here are gentle.

Snorkelling in the shallow water around Bangaram Island is one of the favourite water sport activities done at the island beach destination of Lakshadweep. From the 10 inhabited islands of Lakshadweep, only Bangaram and Kadmat islands are open for tourists and there are dive centres on both of these islands. Wind surfing and Kayaking are the best water sport activities at the Bangaram Island.

Scuba Diving:

The underwater world has always been a mystery for those who would like to touch the depths of the mysterious sea world. Diving is usually done at the destinations, which are unexplored and unspoiled, like a never-ending adventure. The tropical island destinations of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshwadeep in India are somewhat like this and are considered to be the most unique diving haunts of India.

If Lakshadweep has the clears blue lagoons of soft and hard corals, then the volcanic islands of Andaman and Nicobar are gifted with some of the most amazing and least explored coral reef sites in the world. The third destinations that will catch a divers interest are the beaches of Goa. With numerous beach resorts and water sports club the beaches of Goa offer a unique opportunity to get a first hand experience of the underwater world inhabiting secluded sea shores of Goa.

Another noteworthy beach resort is Devbagh near Karwar beach in Karnataka. A unit of Jungle Lodges and Resorts; this eco friendly tourism site offers holiday package activities that include excellent scuba diving opportunities as well as diving sessions for the learners.

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Snorkelling:

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Snorkelling in the shallow water can be quite a family activity for the kids and adults at a beach side, besides making a sand castle, while on a beach holiday. An easy way to visit and solve the mysteries of the underwater world, take a dip and you will be hooked!

If you are new to this sport, the various beach resorts in India provide informal classes to give briefing about what is snorkelling is all about and the safety measure that one should follow while indulging in this water sport. Learning about marine life also becomes an enjoyable experience. The shallow water demonstrations and guided snorkel tours are the most attractive offers provided by the beach resorts.

The snorkelling can be best done at the secluded beach island sites of Andaman & Nicobar and at Lakshwadeep Islands, where the beach beauty and the bio diversity of the ocean world is still intact. Still being a family sport, you can also check out the quiet and not so famous beach sites of Goa such as Colva or Diu beach near Gujarat.

Canoeing, Kayaking & Surfing:

Surfing is one of the best sports when it comes to making a splash in water and the craze of this water sport is catching up as a favourite beach water sport in India. If you like thrills, surfing is for you. What you need is a quick senses and a balancing act on the surfboard.

But one must always remember that with the thrills comes the danger. If you are new to sea and sea sports, then before drowning in the excitement of trying out a beach sport like canoeing, Kayaking or surfing do remember that a lot depends on the water level and the weather. The beaches of the Indian western coast have quiet unpredictable surprises for a water sport lover.

The major surfing and canoeing sites in India include, the beaches of Goa, Karnataka and Kerala, where numerous beach resorts are well equipped with excellent quality surfboards, Kayaks and canoes. These beaches also offer expert training offers for those who are new to these sports.

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Water Skiing:

Skiing is considered to be one of the major extreme sports in the sport, but water skiing is something that gives a water sport lover the opportunity to make a splash at the watery depths of the sea world. Similar to surfing in many ways, you do get to balance on the ski board in here too, but a strong a sensory power is also required over here too.

When you are on a beach, you will never run out things to do, and water skiing is one sport that one must indulge into if you are eligible to try one out. There aren't many private beaches at Goa, but the beaches attached to the luxurious beach resorts are the ones that offer a wealth of hi-tech water sports with proper equipment and the highest safety standards.

Other Water Sports Beaches:

Diu Beach

Beaches of Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Beaches Of Lakshadweep Islands

Anjuna Beach, Goa

Baga Beach, Goa

Dona Paula, Goa

Kovalam Beach

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Colva Beach

Covelong Beach, Chennai

•White water rafting & Kayaking

Rafting and Kayaking

White Water Rafting - Many a river in the country specially the North Indian Rivers present themselves as a collection of the best white water in the world within a small geographical location (taking in to account only North India). A number of Lakes in the Kumaon Region and The Ganga with its upper tributaries (Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and various other smaller tributaries) can be hailed as the Queen of the White Water Rafting Industry.

The Indian Association of Professional Rafting Outfitters (IAPRO - website www.iapro.org) is the nodal body that coordinates and controls the white water rafting operations in the country with the help and support of active white water rafting outfitters in the country. All rafting outfitters must have a mandatory permission from the state tourism departments for running operations on any river in the country.

White Water rafting in India can be broadly classified in to two categories namely, Day trips (a few hours of fun) or Multiple Day / Expedition runs. Day trips are offered on the following rivers

Ganga - Uttaranchal Teesta - Sikkim

Beas - Himachal Pradesh Kaveri - Karnataka

Braham Putra - Assam

The rivers for expeditions in the country are classified as follows

Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, Maha Kali, Sarda, Saryu, Yamuna - Uttaranchal

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Sutlej - Himachal Pradesh

Zanskar, Indus - J&K

Brahamputra - Assam

Teesta - Sikkim

Lohit - Arunanchal Pradesh

Please check out the IAPRO website to locate an outfitter to help you with planning and executing the program. Apart from these rivers many other rivers are also available for expeditions but a lot depends on the available resources with the outfitters. Chenab in J&K and Pindar in Uttaranchal are some of the other rivers that fit the expedition bill just waiting to hit it bigtime.

Kayaking

White Water Kayaking & White water kayaking courses - Most licensed outfitters can organise an introductory course on White Water Kayaking at their riverside camps on the Ganges. Rishikesh is your best bet if you want to learn with good instructors and good equipment as majority of the knowledge base in the white water scenarios is concentrated in Rishikesh and nearby reaches of 40 odd Kilometers upstream on the Ganges.

Still water Kayaking in lakes - Many a lakes in Kumaon Region are well suited for Lake Kayaking.

•Diving

Diving in India

1 Goa on the mainlandGoa

Dive Sites Miscellaneous Information Goa Diving

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Goa is a little bit of Rio de Janeiro meets Ibiza. But then Goa is a lot of things. This little seaside state, with an identity that's a seamless blend of Portuguese-Latin influence and Indian tradition, was crackling enough to have been one of the Millennium destinations of the world.

The waters are safe and temperate, the absence of riptide currents making them ideal for learners and novice divers. And when you aren't wiggling in and out of your wetsuit, you could be sunbathing or bungee jumping, visiting temples or haunting the flea market. Like we said, Goa is a lot of things.

The three hundred years of Portuguese rule has left an indelible imprint on the collective psyche of Goans. It shows in their music, their architecture and their culture. It's also why Goans make the most wonderful vindaloo this side of the Indian Ocean.

Dive Sites

The marine life of Goa is similar to that found in Maldives. The presence of wrecks in Spanish and Portuguese galleons and World War II ships make the fish life prolific.

Grand Island

Much of the local diving is conducted around this island. Some of the sites near the island include Suzy's Wreck, Davy Jones Lockers, Sail Rock, Turbo Tunnel, Surge City, Uma Guma Reef, and Bounty Bay.

Angria Bank

A four-hour high-speed boat ride takes you to this world-class dive site 120 miles from Goa. A vast underwater landmass about half the size of the state of Goa, it offers an amazing wealth of coral and fish. A 'live-aboard' is available with the local dive center to make diving at this site an unforgettable experience.

Pigeon Island

This rocky outcrop has interesting marine life as well as good visibility.

Malvan Shoal

2 hours away from the capital city of Panaji exist some interesting shallow sites in the water between Vengurla and Malvan.

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To TopMiscellaneous Information

Decompression chamber : Available an hour by road from any of the dive sites.

Best Time to Visit : Between November and May (All dive sites are generally closed during the Indian monsoons which is between June and October).

Climate : Tropical - between 25-28° Celsius during summer.

For more info on Goa; give link to the Goa page Diving Centers

To TopGoa Diving

Address :No. 145-P, Chapel Bhat, Chicalim, Goa - 403711India.Tel: 91-832-555117

Dive Location :Joet's Guest House, Bogmala Beach, Goa.Tel: 91-832-555036Email: [email protected]: http://www.goadiving.com

2 Andaman and Nicobar group of islands in the Bay of BengalAndaman & Nicobar Islands

This is the closest you get to feeling like Robinson Crusoe. 362 volcanic islands scattered in the Bay of Bengal, with only 37 of these being inhabited. These lush green islands have colourful historical past, with strings of invasions by the French, Dutch, Japanese and British & raging wars between settlers and the native tribes. The Cellular Jail, where hundreds of Indian revolutionaries were imprisoned during the Indian freedom struggle, still stands tall. Descendents of these political prisoners and the local tribes of the area are the inhabitants of modern day Andaman and Nicobar.

The tropical rain forests that loom close to the seashore are home to unique species of birds, and to tribes that still haven't learned to use fire. Andaman is an experience quite

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unlike another. And if you find yourself using more mosquito repellent here than even before, you'll be using a lot more camera rolls as well.

Dive Sites:

Around Port Blair

The waters around Andaman have spectacular bio-diversity, and dive conditions that are ideal for an experienced diver.

Cinque Island

One of the best dive destinations in the island, it has clear emerald waters with a visibility of up to 80 feet. The deep dive offers a terrific variety of marine life including back coral and sightings of sharks, and is ideal for the experienced diver.

Rutland Island

The shallow waters here have a good representation of most small fish and coral, and is a good place for training open water divers.

Snake Island

Awesome rock faces and a spectacular dive landscape. Marine life includes Trigger fish, Grunts, Goatfish and Rays.

Havelock Island

This island is located approximately 4 hours from the Port Blair airport by inter-island ferry. The dive centre located on the island offers a wide range of largely unexplored dive sites rich in underwater marine life.

To TopMiscellaneous Information

The nearest decompression chamber is at the Naval base in Port Blair. Foreign visitors are only allowed to visit certain islands in middle, little and south Andamans.Best Time to Visit - Between November and May.Climate - Tropical - between 23 and 28 degrees Celsius.Languages Spoken - English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil.

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Getting There

By Air - These Islands are located about 1250 Kms from Kolkata (West Bengal) and about 1200 kms from Chennai (Tamil Nadu). The capital, Port Blair, is served by India Airlines and Jet Airways. Indian Airlines flies from Calcutta to Port Blair six days a week (except Sundays). Jet Airways has a daily flight from Chennai to Port Blair. Indian Airlines flies four days a week to Port Blair from Chennai. Both inbound and outbound tickets should be booked well in advance for these sectors.

By Sea - It is possible to sail to Port Blair from Calcutta and Chennai every week. The crossing takes about 3-4 days. All ships plying on this route are under the auspices of the Directorate of Shipping, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and are operated by the Shipping Corporation of India.

Permits - It is advisable to carry a few extra passport photographs and copies of your passport, as you would need to submit these to the authorities at Port Blair on arrival for your permit to visit the Island.

3 Lakshadweep group of islands in the Arabian SeaLakshadweep

Dive Sites Miscellaneous Information Getting There Permits Diving Centers

Be warned. There are some things that are really hard to find in Lakshadweep. Like fast cars, shrinks, or tranquillisers. They do have all that water though. Bright and clear as liquid glass, fringed by white stretches of sand where the only throngs you'll ever see are of the sandpipers on the shore. And you could sleep by the seaside with the night sky as your ceiling. Therapy has never felt better.

Geographically similar to that other divers' haunt, Lakshadweep is like Maldives without the crowds. 400 kilometers off the coast of Kerala, this group of 36 coral islands and atolls can be reached by a twenty-hour sea journey from Cochin. Of the ten inhabited islands, only two Bangaram and Kadmat, are open to foreigners and there are dive centers on both these islands. The lagoons are home to a spectacular world of marine life, so unexplored, you may well have a site named after you.

To TopDive Sites

Around Kadmat Island

Surrounded on the eastern and western side by the lagoon, Kadmat is the ideal haven of solitude. This little island has an astonishing variety of marine flora and fauna. Some of the

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dive sites explored till date are beyond any sort of written description, they are ethereal moments of pure wonder.

The Wall

A wall of soft coral starting at 12 meters and cascading down to the deep blue. Dive amongst turtles as resplendent as their surroundings.

Sting Ray City

A 21 meter dive along the sand dunes, abundant with Sting Rays.

Cross Currents

Located between the islands of Amini and Kadmat, drift dive along with schools of Snapper, Fusilier and Sharks at 15-21 meters.

Jack Point

A drift dive between 21-30 meters with different types of fish like Jack Fish and King Fish.

Garden of Eden

An abundance of table coral at 12-25 meters along with varieties of small fish and Groupers.

East Channel

Located between 9-20 meters an abundance of soft coral and tuna.

Around Bangaram Island

A teardrop shaped island surrounded by a continuous strip of creamy sand. The temperate blue-green waters of the Indian Ocean are an irresistible invitation to the scuba diving fraternity of the world. The exquisite black coral formations along with Angel Fish, Clown fish, Butterfly, Surgeons, Groupers, Mantas, Sting Rays and wondrous marine life are found in the Lakshadweep.

You can also visit the wreck of the Princess Royal at 32 meters, sunk in a battle over two hundred years ago, or if luck is on your side, have the pleasure of being escorted by a pod of 10-20 Dolphins.

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Visit the dive sites Manta Point, Shark Point and The Wall. Dive amidst a submerged reef with shoals of Giant Parrotfish.

Bangaram - a place on the edge of the world. A bit of paradise.

To TopMiscellaneous Information

For both the dive centres, the nearest decompression chamber is a 2 hour chopper ride to the Naval Base at Cochin.

Best Time to Visit - Between November and MayClimate - Tropical - between 25-28° CelsiusLanguages spoken - English, Malayalam, Mhal

Getting There

By Air - These islands are located about 400 kms from Kochi (Cochin, Kerala State). Indian Airlines operates daily flight (except Sundays) from Kochi (Cochin) to Agatti. On arrival at Agatti, private resort boats will transfer you to either Bangaram or Kadmat Island. It is advisable to book both your inbound and outbound tickets well in advance.

By Sea - There is a ship service that taken about 20 hours to reach Lakshadweep from Cochin. Tickets can be obtained on arrival or by your travel agent.

Permits

To TopPermits For BangaramAll foreigners need to send their names, nationality, date of birth, passport number, date of issue and expiry to the resort. The resort at Bangaram will obtain the permits through the Lakshadweep Administration. A minimum of 3 days is required for this.

Permits For Kadmat6 photographs along with the first and last three pages of your current passport have to be submitted to the office of the dive center. Permission for Kadmat comes from the Home Minstry via Lakshadweep Administration. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for this process.

Every destination is completely unique in its own way, and they all have widely different dive conditions and marine life.

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While Lakshadweep has the clear blue lagoons of coral atolls, Andaman and Nicobar are volcanic islands surrounded by deep, undisturbed waters that have an astounding bio-diversity. The third destination Goa has many exciting things to do, on land as well as in water.

Your adventure will begin long before your diving ever does. World class diving often lies in out of the world places. Getting there may not always be easy. Travel routes that run across valleys and plains, through breathtaking landscapes, and at the end of it all, the experience of diving in sites so pristine and untouched - of which you could probably be a pioneer in one of the last remaining diving frontiers - India.

•Water Skiing

Water Skiing

Water Skiing Sites In India

Water Skiing In Asan Barrage : The best water skiing site worth checking out in India is the Asan Barrage Water Sports Resort. This place has got plenty of options for trying out besides water skiing such as Sailing, Boating, Rowing, Water Skating, Kayaking and Canoeing. Water skiing courses are also available at the Asan Barrage for water sports enthusiasts and training is given by well qualified instructors.

Water Skiing In Dal & Nagin Lake : Situated just 32-km from Srinagar, the facility for water skiing is available at the lake sites of Dal Lake. This site has has privately owned 'bathing boats' which hire out motor launches, water-skis and trained instructors. Also worth checking out is the Nagin Lake site, which much more popular among water sports lovers for its cleaner waters. A government run Institute of Water Sports is also situated at this lake site with trained instructors.

Water Skiing In Manasbal Lake : Another good water skiing option is Manasbal Lake, with a mirror like sheen on its surface becomes an attractive water sports resort, approachable from Srinagar by road. In Kashmir from May to the end of August, that's covering the whole summer season; water of the lakes remains pleasant for water sports. If someone wants a night stay over there then the tourist's huts and bungalows are also available on all the above lake resorts.

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Water Skiing In Goa : Water skiing on the beach sites of India not only makes a perfect relaxation beach holiday activity, but an ideal adventure sport. Among the best beach haunts for water skiing the best ones are situates at Goa, where various beach resorts and hotels offer well-equipped and up to date facilities that are required for water skiing. Besides surfing this is one sport that is catching the interest of beach lovers a lot and with the high safety standards and low risk factor people are more drawn towards this water sport.

Water Skiing In Andaman & Nicobar Islands : Beside the beach sites of the Indian mainland, there are the beaches of the India's tropical islands too, especially Andaman & Nicobar where Water Sport Complex at Diglipur and Island Water Sports Club at Port Blair, offer Water Scooters, Speedboats, Jet Skies, Tube Ride, Wake Board Ride, Knee Board Ride, etc. and is functioned under the Directorate of tourism. So, if you lure for a thrilling experience on water then this sport is meant just for you.

Water Skiing destinations in India

Asan Barrage Water Sports Resort

Calangute Beach, Goa

Dona Paula Beach, Goa

Cavelossim Beach, Goa

Condolim Beach, Goa

Bogmalo Beach, Goa

Sinquerim Beach, Goa

Wild life Tourism

India is home to a rich diversity of wildlife supplemented by an equally rich variety of flora and fauna. The sight and sounds of a majestic elephant, a peacock’s dance, the stride of a camel, the roar of a tiger are unparalleled experiences in themselves. Watching birds and animals in their natural habitats is an experience in itself.

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The country offers immense opportunities for wildlife tourism. The immense heritage of wildlife in India comprises of more than 70 national parks and about 400 wildlife sanctuaries including the bird sanctuaries.

A paradise for the nature lovers, these forest areas are also crucial for the conversation of the endangered species like the Leopard, Lion, Asiatic Elephant, the Bengal tiger and Siberian Crane. Spread across the length and breadth of India, these reserves and forest areas, right from the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan to the Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary in Bihar, from the foothills of Himalayas, the Jim Corbett National Park to six national parks in Andaman; the Indian Wildlife circuit is an Incredible treat, unmatched by any other experience.

Elephant, Deer, Panther, Wild buffalo, Wild ass, the one horned Rhinoceros, Porcupine, Snow leopards etc are some of the animals you can sport in The Himalayan region.

India harbours eighty percent of the entire population of the one horned rhinoceros in the world. The Kaziranga Game Sanctuary is an ideal habitat for the rhino and a popular destination with the naturalists and environmentalists as well as the wildlife traveller.

The Great Indian Bustard and blackbuck of the Karera Sanctuary also attract a lot of tourists. The Madhav National Park originally called the Shivpuri National Park is another rich habitat for the wildlife in close proximity to the historical town of Gwalior and being close to a often visited cultural and heritage destination enjoys its fare share of tourism inflow. The Corbett National Park one of the most popular National Parks in the northern region for the wildlife enthusiast as well as the holiday makers is changing the way wildlife tourism. These National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are promoters of wildlife tourism in India.

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India has its fair share of Tiger Reserves. India’s National Animal, the tiger happens to be a symbol of strength and speed. India boasts of two-dozen Tiger Reserves. The fastest mammal on Earth, the tiger happens to be the joy and pride of India. The Royal Bengal tiger is amongst the most majestic species of the tiger. Sixty percent of the total population of the wild tigers in the world resides in India. Amongst the best-known tiger reserves in India is the Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh. It is often referred to as the crown in the wildlife heritage of India. Tourists at Bandhavgarh can spot Royal Bengal Tigers,

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cheetals, leopard, gaur, sambhar, and many more faunal species. The highly successful Project Tiger has shown once again that man can only undo in small ways the loss and destruction of natural habitat due to continuous growth and expansion of the population.

Indian wildlife has its share of native birds along with the migratory birds. Several hundred species of birds can be spotted across India. The Himalayan region is well known to be the natural habitat for the Pheasant, griffon vulture and ravens. The Keoladeo Ghana National Park popularly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in the Indian state of Rajasthan, in close proximity of Delhi, is home to indigenous water birds, waterside birds, migratory water birds, land migratory birds, and domestic land species. Tourists from far and wide are attracted to the Bird Sanctuary. At the Dudhwa wildlife reserve migratory birds like Egrets, herons, storks and cormorants share space with the ducks, gees and teals. The region of Andaman is home for the rare species of birds like the Narcondum hornbill, Nicobar Pigeon and the Megapode.

Wildlife East

1. Bura-Chapuri Wildlife Sanctuary (Sonitpur District - Assam)

2. Dibru - Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary (Assam)

3. Kaziranga National Park (East Of Guwahati - Assam)

4. Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary (Nagaon District - Assam)

5. Manas National Park (Guwahati - Assam)

6. Nameri National Park (Sonitpur District - Assam)

7. Orang National Park (Tezpur - Assam)

8. Pabha or Milroy Sanctuary (Lakhimpur District - Assam)

9. Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary (Morigaon District - Assam)

10. Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary (Sonitpur District - Assam)

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1. Ambapani Sanctuary (Bhawanipatna - Orissa)

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2. Belghar Sanctuary (Orissa)

3. Bhitarkanika Sanctuary (Kendrapa District - Orissa)

4. Chandka Elephant Reserve (Orissa)

5. Chilika Lake (South West of Puri - Orissa)

6. Gahirmatha Turtle Sanctuary (Orissa)

7. Karlapat (Bhawanipatna - Orissa)

8. Lakhari Valley Sanctuary (Ganjam - Orissa)

9. Nandan Kanan (Chandaka Forest - Orissa)

10. Padmatala Sanctuary (Phulabani - Orissa)

11. Satkosia Basipalli Sanctuary (Orissa)

12. Simplipal Tiger Reserve (Mayurbhanj District - Orissa)

13. Tikarapada (Anjul District - Orissa)

14. Ushakothi Sanctuary (Sambalpur - Orissa)

1. Namdhapa National Park (Arunachal Pradesh)

2. Keibul Lam Jeo National Park (Near Imphal - Manipur)

3. Sunderban National Park (Calcutta - West Bengal)

4. Orchid Sanctuary (Gangtok - Sikkim)

Wildlife West

1. Gir National Park & Sanctuary (Gujarat)

2. Marine Sanctury & Marine National Park (Jamnagar - Gujarat)

3. Nalsarovar Bird sanctuary (Gujarat)

4. Narayan Sarovar Chinkara Sanctury (Gujarat)

5. Porbandar Bird Sanctury (Porbandar - Gujarat)

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6. Ratanmahal & Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary (Champaner - Gujarat)

7. Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctury (Vadodra - Gujarat)

8. Thol Wildlife Sanctury (Mehsana District - Gujarat)

9. Vansda National Park (Valsad District - Gujarat)

10. Velvadar Blackbuck national Park (Bhavnagar - Gujarat)

11. Wild Ass Sanctuary (Little Rann of kachchh - Gujarat)

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1. Anerdam Wildlife Sanctury (Dhule District - Maharashtra)

2. Bhamragarh Wildlife Sanctury (Chandrapur District - Maharashtra)

3. Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctury (Western Ghats Of Maharashtra)

4. Bor Wildlife Sanctury (Hingni in Wardha - Maharashtra)

5. Chaprala Wildlife Sanctury (Chandrapur District - Maharashtra)

6. Chikhaladara Wildlife Sanctury (Vidarbha Region- Maharashtra)

7. Dajipur Bison Sanctury (Kolhapur District - Maharashtra)

8. Gugamal National Park (Amaravati District - Maharashtra)

9. Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary (Aurangabad District - Maharashtra)

10. Jijamata Udyan Zoo (Byculla District - Maharashtra)

11. Kalasubai Harischandragad Wildlife Sanctury (Ahmednagar District - Maharashtra)

12. Karnala Bird Sanctuary (Raigad District - Maharashtra)

13. Katepurna Sanctury (Akola District - Maharashtra)

14. Koyna Wildlife Sanctury (Satara District - Maharashtra)

15. Malvan Marine sanctury (Sindhudurg District - Maharashtra)

16. Nagzira Wildlife Sanctury (Bhandara Forest - Maharashtra)

17. Nandurmadhmeshwar Bird Sanctury (Nashik District - Maharashtra)

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18. Navegaon National Park (Navegoan, Gondia - Maharashtra)

19. Nayagaon Mayur Sanctury (Beed District - Maharashtra)

20. Pench National Park (Near Nagpur - Maharashtra)

21. Peshwe Udyan (Pune - Maharashtra)

22. Phansad Wildlife Sanctury (Raigad District - Maharashtra)

23. Radhanagri- Dajipur (Kolhapur District - Maharashtra)

24. Sagareshwar Sanctury (Khanapur Tehsil - Maharashtra)

25. Tadoba National Park (Near Chandrapur - Maharashtra)

26. Tansa Wildlife Sanctury (Thane District - Maharashtra)

27. The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Borivali, Mumbai - Maharashtra)

28. Tipeshwar Sanctury (Yavatmal District - Maharashtra)

29. Wan Sanctury (Amaravati District - Maharashtra)

30. Yawal Sanctury (Jalgaon District - Maharashtra)

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1. Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Panaji - Goa)

2. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Panjim - Goa)

3. Cotigoa Wildlife Sanctuary (Canacona District - Goa)

4. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (North Goa)

Wildlife North

1. Betla National Park - Bihar

2. Hazaribagh Sanctuary - Bihar

3. Palamau Tiger Reserve - Bihar

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1. Sultanpur National Park - Haryana

1. Bandli Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

2. Chail Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

3. Churdhar Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

4. Daranghati Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

5. Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

6. Kanwar Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

7. Maharana Pratap Sagar - Himachal Pradesh

8. Majathal Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

9. Manali Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

10. Pin Valley Park - Himachal Pradesh

11. Pong Lake Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

12. Renuka Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

13. Simbalbara Sanctuary - Himachal Pradesh

14. The Great Himalayan National Park - Himachal Pradesh

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1. Dachigam - J&K

2. Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve - J&K

3. Jasrota Wildlife Sanctuary - J&K

4. Kishtwar High Altitude National Park - J&K

5. Nandini Wildlife Sanctuary - J&K

6. Overa Wildlife Sanctuary Kashmir - J&K

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7. Ram Nagar Wildlife Sanctuary - J&K

8. Surinsar Mansar Wildlife Sanctuary - J&K

9. The Hemis Altitude National Park- J&K

1. Keoladeo Ghana or Bharatpur National Park - Rajasthan

2. Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary - Rajasthan

3. Ranthambore National Park - Rajasthan

4. Desert National Park - Rajasthan

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1. Chandra Prbha Sanctuary - Uttar Pradesh

2. Dudhwa National Park - Uttar Pradesh

3. Hastinapur Sanctuary - Uttar Pradesh

4. Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary - Uttar Pradesh

5. Katrnighat Wildlife Sanctuary - Uttar Pradesh

6. Mahavir Sanctuary - Uttar Pradesh

7. National Chambal Sanctuary - Uttar Pradesh

8. Nawab Ganj Bird Sanctuary - Uttar Pradesh

9. Ranipur Sanctuary - Uttar Pradesh

1. Askot Wildlife Sanctuary - Uttaranchal

2. Corbett National Park - Uttaranchal

3. Govind National Park - Uttaranchal

4. Kedarnath Sanctuary - Uttaranchal

5. Nanda Devi National Park - Uttaranchal

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6. Rajaji National Park- Uttaranchal

7. Valley of Flowers National Park - Uttaranchal

Wildlife South

1. Alisagar Deer Park (Nizamabad District - Andhra Pradesh)

2. Coringa Sanctuary (East Godavari District - Andhra Pradesh)

3. Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Warangal - Andhra Pradesh)

4. Gundlabrahmeshwaram Wildlife Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh)

5. Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (Vishakapatnam - Andhra Pradesh)

6. Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Chittor - Andhra Pradesh)

7. Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary (Jannaram - Andhra Pradesh)

8. Kinnerasani Wildlife Sanctuary (Khammam District - Andhra Pradesh)

9. Kolleru Bird Sanctuaries (West Godavari District - Andhra Pradesh)

10. Krishna Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh)

11. Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park (Vanasthalipuram - Andhra Pradesh)

12. Manjira Bird Sanctuaries (Medak District - Andhra Pradesh)

13. Nehru Zoological Park (Hyderabad - Andhra Pradesh)

14. Nelaputta Bird Sanctuaries (Nellore District - Andhra Pradesh)

15. Pakhal Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Warangal - Andhra Pradesh)

16. Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Rajahmundry - Andhra Pradesh)

17. Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary (Medak District - Andhra Pradesh)

18. Pranahita Wildlife Sanctuary (Adilabad District - Andhra Pradesh)

19. Pulicat Sanctuary (Nellore District - Andhra Pradesh)

20. Rollapadu Bird Sanctuaries (Near Nandikotkuru - Andhra Pradesh)

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21. Shamirpet Deer Park (Near Secunderabad - Andhra Pradesh)

22. Sivaram Wildlife Sanctuary (Adilabad District - Andhra Pradesh)

23. Sri Venkateshwara National Park (Andhra Pradesh)

24. Srilanka Malleswara Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Cuddapah - Andhra Pradesh)

25. Srisailam Sanctuary (Near Nagarjunasagar - Andhra Pradesh)

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1. Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary (Karnataka)

2. Bannerghata National Park (Karnataka)

3. Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary (Chikmaglur & Shimoga District - Karnataka)

4. Bheemeshwari Wildlife Sanctuary (Mandya District - Karnataka)

5. B.R.Hills Wildlife Sanctuary (Kemmannagundi - Karnataka)

6. Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary (Karwar - Karnataka)

7. Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary (Karapur - Karnataka)

8. Nagarahole National Park (Karnataka)

9. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary (Mysore District - Karnataka)

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1. Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Thalassery - Kerala)

2. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (Idukki - Kerala)

3. Eravikulam Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Munnar - Kerala)

4. Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Thodupuzha - Kerala)

5. Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary (Near Kozhikode - Kerala)

6. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary (Near Kottayam - Kerala)

7. Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary (Southeast of Western Ghats - Kerala)

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8. Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Palakkad - Kerala)

9. Peechi Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Thrissur - Kerala)

10. Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Thiruvananthapuram - Kerala)

11. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala)

12. Rajamala Wildlife Santuary (Near Munnar - Kerala)

13. Shendurni Wildlife Sanctaury (Near Kollam - Kerala)

14. Silent Valley National Park (Near Mannarkkad - Kerala)

15. Thattekad Bird Sanctuary (Near Kothamangalam - Kerala)

16. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Calicut - Kerala)

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1. Anamalai Sanctuary (Near Coimbatore - Tamil Nadu)

2. Calimere Sanctuary (Southeast of Thanjavur - Tamil Nadu)

3. Kalakadu Wildlife Sanctuary (Tirunelveli District - Tamil Nadu)

4. Kunthakulam Bird Sanctuary (Nanguneri Taluk - Tamil Nadu)

5. Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary (Near Udhagamandalam - Tamil Nadu)

6. Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary (Tirunelveli District - Tamil Nadu)

7. Vedantangal Sanctuary (Kanchipuram District - Tamil Nadu)

8. Viralimalai Sanctuary (Near Tiruchirapalli - Tamil Nadu

Wildlife Central

1. Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary Madhya Pradesh

2. Bandhavgarh National Park Madhya Pradesh

3. Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary Madhya Pradesh

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4. Bori Wildlife Sanctuary Madhya Pradesh

5. Kanha Madhya Pradesh

6. Madhav Shivpuri National Park Madhya Pradesh

7. Panna National Park Madhya Pradesh

8. Sanjay/Dubri Wildlife Sanctuary Madhya Pradesh

9. Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary Madhya Pradesh

Project Tiger

Launched in 1973-74, is one of our most successful conservation ventures in the recent times. The project aims at tiger conservation in specially constituted 'tiger reserves', which are representative of various bio-geographical regions falling within our country. It strives to maintain a viable tiger population in the natural environment.

An estimate of the tiger population in India, at the turn of the century, placed the figure at 40,000. Subsequently, the first ever all India tiger census was conducted in 1972 which revealed the existence of only 1827 tigers. Various pressures in the later part of the last century led to the progressive decline of wilderness, resulting in the disturbance of viable tiger habitats. At the IUCN General Assembly meeting in Delhi, in 1969, serious concern was voiced about the threat to several species of wildlife and the shrinkage of wilderness in the country. In 1970, a national ban on tiger hunting was imposed and in 1972 the Wildlife Protection Act came into force. A 'Task Force' was then set up to formulate a project for tiger conservation with an ecological approach.

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The project was launched in 1973, and various tiger reserves were created in the country on a 'core-buffer' strategy. The core areas were freed from all sorts of human activities and the buffer areas were subjected to 'conservation oriented land use'. Management plans were drawn up for each tiger reserve, based on the principles outlined below:

1. Elimination of all forms of human exploitation and biotic disturbance from the core area and rationalization of activities in the buffer zone.

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2. Restricting the habitat management only to repair the damages done to the eco-system by human and other interferences, so as to facilitate recovery of the eco-system to its natural state.

3. Monitoring the faunal and floral changes over time and carrying out research about wildlife.

Initially, 9 tiger reserves were established in different States during the period 1973-74, by pooling the resources available with the Central and State Governments. These nine reserves covered an area of about 13,017sq.km-viz Manas (Assam), Palamau (Bihar), Similipal (Orissa), Corbett (U.P.), Kanha (M.P.), Melghat (Maharashtra), Bandipur (Karnataka), Ranthambhore (Rajasthan) and Sunderbans (West Bengal).

The project started as a 'Central Sector Scheme' with the full assistance of Central Government till 1979-80: later, it become a 'centrally Sponsored Scheme' from 1980-81, with equal sharing of expenditure between the center and the states.

The W.W.F. has given an assistance of US $ 1 million in the form of equipments, expertise and literature. The various States are also bearing the loss on account of giving up the forestry operations in the reserves.

The main achievements of this project are excellent recovery of the habitat and consequent increase in the tiger population in the reserve areas, from a mere 268 in 9 reserves in 1972 to 1576 in 27 reserves in 2003. Tiger, being at the apex of the food chain, can be considered as the indicator of the stability of the eco-system. For a viable tiger population, a habitat should possess a good prey base, which in turn will depend on an undisturbed forest vegetation. Thus, 'Project Tiger', is basically the conservation of the entire eco-system and apart from tigers, all other wild animals also have increased in number in the project areas. In the subsequent 'Five Year Plans', the main thrust was to enlarge the core and buffer zones in certain reserves, intensification of protection and eco development in the buffer zones of existing tiger reserves, creation of additional tiger reserves and strengthening of the research activities.

The management strategy was to identify the limiting factors and to mitigate them by suitable management. The damages done to the habitat were to be rectified, so as to facilitate the recovery of eco-system to the maximum possible extent. Management practices, which tend to push the wildlife

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populations beyond the carrying capacity of the habitat were carefully avoided. A minimum core of 300 sq. km. with a sizeable buffer was recommended for each project area. The overall administration of the project is monitored by a 'Steering Committee'. The execution of the project is done by the respective State Governments. A 'Field Director' is appointed for each reserve, who is assisted by the field and technical personnel. The Chief Wildlife wardens in various States are responsible for the field execution. At the Centre, a full-fledged 'Director' of the project coordinates the work for the country.

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Present

Wireless communication system and outstation patrol camps have been developed within the tiger reserves, due to which poaching has declined considerably. Fire protection is effectively done by suitable preventive and control measure Voluntory Village relocation has been done in many reserves, especially from the core, area. In Kanha, Bandipur and Ranthambhore, all the villages have been shifted from the core, and after relocation, the villagers have been provided with alternate agricultural lands and other community benefits. This has resulted in the improvement of the carrying capacity of the habitat. Live stock grazing has been controlled to a great extent in the tiger reserves. Various compensatory developmental works have improved the water regime and the ground and field level vegetations, thereby increasing the animal density. Research data pertaining to vegetational changes are also available from many reserves. In general, the 'restorative management' and 'intense protection' under 'Project Tiger' have saved many of our eco-typical areas from destruction. The area around the buffer is now contemplated as a zone of multiple use, to bring compatibility between the reserves and the neighbouring communities.

Future

a) Use of Information and Communication technology in Wildlife Protection and Crime Risk Management in Tiger reserves.

Wildlife protection and crime risk management in the present scenario requires a widely distributed Information Network, using the state-of-art Information and Communication Technology. This becomes all the more important to ensure the desired level of protection in field formations to safeguard the impressive gains of a focused project like 'Project Tiger'. The important elements in Wildlife protection

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and control are: Mapping/plotting the relative spatial abundance of wild animals, identification of risk factors, proximity to risk factors, sensitivity categorization, crime mapping and immediate action for apprehending the offenders based on effective networking and communication. Space technology has shown the interconnectivity of natural and anthropogenic phenomena occurring anywhere on earth. Several Tiger Reserves are being linked with the Project Tiger Directorate in the GIS domain for Wildlife Crime Risk Management.

b) GIS based digitized database and MIS development/networking in Tiger Reserves:

With the advanced IT tools, a wide gamut of software solutions are available to improve wildlife related information capture process, its analysis and informed decision making. Geographic Information System is the most relevant of these technologies for natural resource management projects, including wildlife management. The mandate of project tiger is to conserve tigers in a holistic manner. The GIS based database at PTHQ is being linked with the microcomputers in the Tiger Reserves, so that a dynamic linkage for rapid information flow is established using Arc IMS facility.

c) Tiger Habitat & Population Evaluation System for the Indian Sub Continent

A 'Tiger Atlas of India' and a 'Tiger Habitat & Population Evaluation System for the country is being developed using the state- of - the - art technology.

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This involves:

1. Mapping , data acquisition and GIS modeling

2. Field data collection and validation

3. Data Maintenance , Dissemination and Use

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The following potential tiger habitats in the country are being covered:

> Shivalik-Terai Conservation Unit (Uttaranchal, UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Nepal)

> Nort east Conservation Unit

> Sunderbans Conservation Unit

> Central Indian Conservation Unit

> Eastern Ghat Conservation Unit

> Western Ghat Conservation Unit

Satellite data is being used and classified into vegetation and land use maps on a 1:50,000 scale, with digitized data relating to contour , villages, roads , drainage , administrative boundaries and soil . The spatial layers would be attached with attribute data , viz. human population , livestock population , meteorological data, agricultural information and field data pertaining to wildlife, habitat for evolving regional protocols to monitor tiger and its habitat.

Vision For the Future

The dynamics of forest management and wildlife conservation have been distorted due to need for income, lack of awareness, lack of landuse policy and population pressure. Since the traditional use systems of people are neither static nor benign, these should not be overlooked.

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A regional development approach in landscapes having Tiger Reserves is of utmost importance in our country. It should be viewed as a mosaic of different landuse patterns, viz, tiger conservation / preservation, forestry, sustainable use and development, besides socio-economic growth.

Tiger habitats exist in environments of thousands of indigenous communities which depend on them. Therefore we cannot view these protected areas in isolation from the surrounding socio-economic realities and developmental priorities of the Govt. This calls for a cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary approach.

Tigers now need a "preservationist" approach. Regional planning is important around Tiger Reserves to foster ecological connectivity between protected areas through restorative inputs with integrated landuse planning. The management plan of a Tiger Reserve, therefore, needs to be integrated in larger regional management plans.

•National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuaries

•Bird Watching

Birdwatching

Out of 8,600 Bird Species (about 30,000 if subspecies or geographical races are taken into account) the Indian subcontinent affords suitable living conditions for more than 2,400 Birds (Species and subspecies) of which, over 300 are winter visitors. The winter visitors are chiefly from Arctic region to the North. India thus offers unparalleled opportunities for watching a large number of bird species in their natural habitat. Keoladeo Ghana Sanctuary at Bharatpur is undoubtedly the Mecca for all bird enthusiasts. The place acquires a unique ambience in the winter months when thousands of migratory birds from the northern latitudes throng the place.

. Even a cursory glance at the Indian countryside will reveal roughly 150 very common species, ranging from the ubiquitous House Sparrow and Indian Mynah to such birds as the Red-vented Bulbul, Black Drongo and White-breasted Kingfisher. Common raptors include Black and Brahminy Kites, Honey Buzzard, Shikra and Egyptian Vulture. Water birds also offer quite a spectacle, especially in the winter, when the migratory waders arrive. Common resident species are White-breasted Waterhen, Indian Moorhen and Black-winged Stilt.

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. The best time for birding is no doubt the months between October and April as, in addition to the variety of resident species, migratory waterfowl, raptors, starlings & other passerines and a host of other species are also to be seen all around the Indian countryside.

. The Kumarakom and Thattekad Bird Sanctuaries in Kerala, The Great Himalayan National Park, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary in Haryana, Jim Corbett National Park in Uttaranchal Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary in the west are some of the best places to indulge in Birding in India.

•Angling

Angling

With a landscape dominated by numerous rivers, India is an ideal Angling destination. The fast-flowing rivers that descend through spectacular mountain valleys in almost continual rapids offer not only tremendous sport of Fishing but also wonderful scenery and solitude to the tourists.

Mahseer (^B)

The Garhwal and Kumaon hills considered ideal for fishing in India are probably one of the last refuges of truly wild Mahseer fish. The only other area in southern India, a perfect destination for Angling is River Cauvery.

The popular fishing venues for Mahseer Angling in India are :

River Cauvery in Karnataka Jia Bhoroli river, a tributary of Brahmaputra in Assam,

The junction of Nayar River and the Ganges at Byas Ghat in Garhwal (Uttaranchal)

The junction of the Sarju River with the River Kali at Pancheshwar, Kumaon

The Junction of the Sarju River and Eastern Ramganga, Kumaon

Nadaun and Hamipur, the Pong Dam reservoir, Neugal Khad and Baner Kund in Himachal Pradesh.

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The streams around Munnar in Kerala

The best time for Mahseer fishing in India is in autumn from September to November as the rivers become clear after the monsoon and in spring from March to May when the early monsoon rain raises the level of the rivers again. The Himalayan Rivers clear up by the end of September.

Trout (^B)

Known as the Champagne of the sport, Trout is a sophisticated anglers' delight. A small but hard to catch fish, the Trout lives only in glacial water. Most options for Trout Fishing are concentrated in the Northern Indian Region. Many a streams of Kullu valley namely the Tirthan, Jiwa, Larji, Katrain and Kasol and Rohru around Shimla abound in the commonly available Brown Trout, though the Rainbow Trout is also found at times. The Baspa River in Sangla valley is any Trout anglers delight. Many a streams in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) abound in Trout as well, the most famous being Lidder and Sindh Rivers. Many a lake in J&K hold considerable stocks of trout. The only lake in Garhwal (Uttraranchal) where one can find trout is the Dodital at a height of nearly 10000 feet, which is only accessible with a trek of two to three days from the road head.

Good equipment and technique plus an athletic frame are vital to any angler, which must be complemented by a fishing permit from the local authorities.

Apart from Mahseer and Trout one may try to fish for other varieties at the following sites.

Lake Powai in Maharashtra

Lakes in Kumaon (Saat-tal, Bhimtal, Naukuchiya Tal), Uttaranchal

The Madh Island Coastline near Mumbai in Maharashtra

Walvan Lake, Lonavala, Maharashtra

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Trekking

Trekking

You can trek for one day or one month; backpack all your gear and wonder off in the wilderness or stroll comfortably with just a shoulder bag, water bottle and camera whilst animals transport your camping gear, heavy baggage and logistic loads. You may set a challenging pace and go over difficult grades and high passes or just amble along, enjoying the wild flowers, magnificent scenery, uncomplicated lives of people staying close to nature, stopping when you please, chatting with your companions, forging new relationships and hoarding a fund of fascinating memories to cherish. India is the ultimate destination for a trekking holiday, offering everything from short and easy excursions to the long challenges of the snowy peaks, invoking visions of the spectacular Himalayas, the lush meadows, green woodland and fragrant orchards. The captivating landscape, with an incomparable diversity of flora and fauna: India is regarded as the 'trekkers' paradise' and, indeed, is a refreshing treat to the trekkers.

Make sure you do enough research and are adequately prepared for the trek. A good guide on unknown routes is much of a blessing. Many agencies will organise treks and complete logistics if you plan with them a little in advance and an organised trek leaves one time to enjoy the trek in totality.

The following table by no means and exhaustive one gives a brief insight in to the trekking possibilities in the Indian Himalaya and other places in India

State Names of Treks offered

Kashmir Sonamarg - Wangat, Srinagar- Daksum- Kishtwar, Pahalgam To Kolahoi Glacier

& Tar Sar, Panikhar To Heniskot Via The Kanji LaPahalgam To Sumbal Via

Sonamous Pass, Pahalgam - Sonamarg,Pahalgam To Suru Valley (Ladakh) Via

Boktol Pass, Sonamarg - Amarnath

Uttaranchal The Kuari Pass, Gaumukh and Tapovan, Har ki Doon and Ruinsara Tal, Rupin

Pass and Kinnaur, Roop Kund and Hom Kund, Dodital and Yamunotri, Kalhindi

Khal (Trans Himalayan), Valley of Flowers, Kaakbhishyundi Tal, Pindari, Kafni

and Sunderdunga Glaciers, Chandra Shilla Summit, Milam Glacier and Nanda

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Devi Sanctuary, Darma Valley (Trans Himalayan), Chotta Kailash, Bander

Poonch Peak, Khatling Glacier, Vasuki Tal, Panch Kedar

Himachal Pradesh Hampta Pass and Lahaul, Deo Tibba Base, Chandrakhani Pass and Malana, Pin

Parvati and Spiti, Bara Bhangal, Indrahaar Pass, Kareri lake, Mani Mahesh

Kailash, Kugti Pass and Lahaul, Chandratal and Baralacha La, Tarik La and

Kinnaur, Bachleo Pass, Kinner Kailash

Leh & Ladakh Markha Valley, Hidden Valleys of Laddakh, Singge La and Lamayuru, Remote

Zanskar, Phugtal Gompa and Shingo La, Phitse La and Baralacha La, Kang La

and Miyar Glacier, Umasi La, Kanji La and Shilakong Gorge, Padum to Leh via

Cha Cha La, Rubrang La & Markha Valley, Padum to Daracha via Shingo la,

Padum to Daracha via Phitse La & Baralacha La, Padum To Lamayuru Via

Singge La, Padum to Manali via Umasi La, Lamayuru to Chilling via Dung Dung

La, Padum-Thonde-Zangla-Karsha Gompa- Padum Roundtrip, Spitok to Hemis

via the Markha Valley, Padum - Phutchal Gompa, Chadar Ice Trek, Indus Valley

Trek, Spiti To Ladakh, The Rupshu Trek, The Great Salt Lakes Of Changtang,

The Nubra Valley Trek, Manali Ladakh Trek

Sikkim/ Darjeeling Dzongri and Guicha La, Singalila Ridge and Phalut

Karnataka Kudremukh, Yana caves

Maharashtra Trekking in Sahayadris, Trekking in Waki Woods, Trekking in in Karla Caves

Orissa Gandhamardan Hill Trek, Mahendragiri Hill Trek, Nilgiri Hill Trek

Kerala Agastyarkoodam, Chembra Peak, Pythal Mala

The Youth Hostels Association of India offers many trekking holidays. You can visit the site www.yhaindia.org for information.

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Rock Climbing

Natural Climbing

Rock climbing in India can be an enriching experience- quite apart from the exhilarating experience of climbing on virgin solid granite. In India, as in the other parts of the world, it started off as training for mountaineering. As a sport it took off only about 15 years ago. As the climbing standards reached greater heights in the rest of the world, India too was introduced to sticky rubber, chalk, modern protection and higher climbing standards and development of many superb climbing areas. Some of the areas are superb and can easily be compared to some world class climbing areas. The climbing areas usually being close to interesting historical sites and unique monuments can provide a pleasant distraction.

Rock climbing, is constantly increasing its tribe of enthusiasts. Rock climbing uses a minimum of aids and the challenge is to find the toughest route and scale in the least possible time. Hands and feet do most of the work, but safety equipment like ropes, body harness; friend (cramming devices that contract to the pulling of a trigger and are wedged in the crevices) and nuts (metal wedged of different sizes) are essential.

The availability of good climbing rocks not too far from the city gets greater access and participation from professionals as well as from the amateurs alike.

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Rock Climbing Sites

Within a radius of 60 Kilometres from Bangalore, there is possibly the biggest concentration of granite in the country. The rocks range from two kilometre long boulder fields to rock domes rising 300 metres. There are smaller towers 60 metres to 100 metres. Savandurga is the biggest dome near Bangalore, which has been developed. The main dome is 300 metres high and has eight routes on it. The most exciting classic climb is "Bangalore Bill" which sports a 90-metre crux pitch on thin protection.

Bangalore is in the centre of a number of rock climbing destinations like Ramanagaram (the setting for the Hindi blockbuster Sholay), Savandurga, Thuralli, Kabbal, Raogodhu and others.

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Badami, a five-hour drive from Bangalore, is also a good place for rock climbing.

Kambakkam, around 100 kms from Chennai, provides good climbing in many grades.

Hampi in Karnataka has some of the best granite rocks in India providing the climbers ample opportunities to test their skills. Also known as the "City of Rocks" 350 kilometres north of Bangalore is another very interesting place. There are an endless number of boulders strewn ranging from four metres to 60 metres as far as the eye can see. One can spend days exploring this labyrinth of rocks. There is an endless potential for new routes at all grades.

In a 300 kms radius adjoining Kolkata, there are some climbing destinations such as Purulia, Matha Bura, Jai C Chandi and Susunia hills. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute offers courses in mountaineering at Gobu and Tenzing Norgay Rocks.

There are several good rock climbing destinations near Mumbai like Kanheri, Mumbra Boulders, Manori Rocks Karnala and Matheran.

In Gujarat Pavagadh is a favourite rock-climbing destination.

In Haryana, Dhauj (50 KM south west of Delhi) is the Mecca of Rock Climbing in India with some of the best rock faces with various grades of Difficulties graded and marked by the Indian Mountaineering Federation. This is perhaps the only place on Rock Climbing with a book written about it (nearly 400 rock faces with sketches and diagrams) by a Delhi based climber Mohit Oberoi. Many agencies from Delhi conduct daylong rock climbing courses and also programmes of longer duration. It is a favourite destination with schools in Delhi and adjoining area for overnight camping and rock climbing programmes.

In Delhi the areas around Lado Serai and Anand Parbat offer some good options.

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In Uttaranchal the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering utilises the sites around Uttarkashi to impart training on the sport. Recently the Asia Climbing championships were held at Uttarkashi generating much interest in the local media about the sport. Areas around Nainital also offer many options for the serious rock-climbing enthusiast. Mukteshwar is particularly a favoured spot with the local climbers.

Gangotri Gorge 400 km. north of Delhi has immense possibilities of big wall climbing on walls ranging from 200 metres to 1,000 metres in a mountain environment.

www.rockclimbing.com

Mt. Abu (Rajasthan)

Pachmarhi in Central India.

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Sport Climbing

For people who like to climb but do not have the time to travel to the nearest sites sport climbing on Artificial Walls, emerged as a sport in England and spread rapidly across the globe and today has a cult following. As with natural climbing sport climbing is not weather dependent as it is mostly indoors, is not time dependent and is flexible on the grade of climbing to be selected by the climber by placing the holds at the desired places to choose one's own level of difficulty. Today there are more than 60 artificial walls in the country owned privately and by the government institutes and are rapidly contributing to growth of the sport in the country. The latest star attraction in the country happens to be the Ice Wall erected at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering for the Asian Rock Climbing Championships and is one of its kind in the country. Some other places with artificial walls are the Ramjas Sports and Mountaineering Institute in Delhi, HMI Darjeeling and the Indian Mountaineering Federation, Legend Inn and the Yamuna Sports Complex at New Delhi.

Mountaineering

The Himalayas, a dream for any mountaineer and the most cherished mountain system in the world that also is the home to the highest peak on the planet runs from the extreme north of the country and extends all the way up to the eastern most state, Arunachal Pradesh. The biggest adventure playground in the world -the Himalaya provides ample opportunities for the adventure enthusiast from all over the world to try their luck and immortalise their names by climbing some of the toughest and highest peaks.

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With more than 100 peaks above 6000 mtrs (some of them yet unclimbed) the Himalaya promises every climber their share of adventure, which lures them to the mountains.

Mountaineering is a serious activity undertaken with the primary goal of reaching a mountain's summit. Unlike trekking or hiking it requires a high degree of fitness and experience especially above the permanent snowline (i.e. above 5200 m). Even more than other adventure sporting enthusiasts, mountaineers recognise that they run a high level of risk of personal injury.

The Himalayan mountain range is home to some of the highest mountains of the world and many serious climbers seek to conquer peaks each year.

Starting from Delhi, Lucknow, Calcutta or Bombay, the mountain road heads in Garhwal and Kumaon can be usually reached within two to five days. In view of the height and distance of the Kumaon and Garhwal Himalayas, many available peaks can be attempted within a period of four to five weeks from Delhi.

Seasons : The mountaineering season tends to be concentrated during April-November. A number of climbs are also being attempted in winter.

Grade : Mountaineering routes are graded according to the degree of difficulty and accessibility. Prior medical examination is essential. The permanent snow line generally being in the region of 5,250 m, the degree of difficulty of mountaineering routes can broadly be defined as :

Moderate : Requiring knowledge of basic mountaineering techniques.

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Advanced : For this category of peaks it is necessary to be in high-grade physical condition and to possess advanced mountaineering skills. Within this category further demarcation is possible till the highest degrees of difficulty. The difference between the various grades of difficulty is thus based essentially on the required techniques concerning rock, snow, ice and rescue.

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Equipments : Can be hired from clubs or purchased from one of the agencies selling it. Places where equipment is available for hiring: Muni-ki-Reti, UttarKashi, Joshimath Gangotri, Purola, Chopta, Ukhimath Ghuttu.

Peak booking fees, Inner Line restrictions, import of equipment, camera permits, insurance, medical attention and evacuation procedure have been laid down in detail by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation based in Delhi. This is the national apex coordinating body for the sport in India.

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Mountaineering Expeditions

All expeditions have to be cleared by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. Expeditions are graded according to level of difficulty and must be accompanied by a liaison officer provided by the government, at the expedition's expense. Applications must be submitted at least six months in advance to the Indian government. The IMF also maintains a list of available peaks, peak booking fees, access restrictions, medical aid, rescue, weather forecasting and other information pertinent to climbing a peak. The IMF office is at the University of Delhi's south campus. It also has a reference library, documentation centre, museum and climbing wall.

Contact :

The Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF)

Benito Juarez Road, Anand Niketan

New Delhi - 110021

Website: www.indmount.com

Training

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Mountaineering training in India is provided at several Mountaineering Institutes run under the guidance of the Indian government. Anyone physically fit and willing to bear some physical hardship may join.

Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary's first ascent of Everest on May 29, 1953 was a historic landmark in establishing mountaineering as a sport promoted by the government in India. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) was created in 1954. In 1965 the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM), Uttarkashi was set up and the Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering (JIM) at Aru in Jammu and Kashmir in 1983. In 1990 the JIM was shifted from Aru to Batote but continues to face problems associated with violence in the Kashmir valley.

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Age limits :

Basic mountaineering - 17 to 35 years

Advanced Mountaineering - 18 to 40 years

Search and Rescue, and Method of Instruction - 18 to 40 years

Adventure Course - some 13 to 17 years others - 21 to 35 years

The Himalayan Club is an organisation that attempts to provide information about, and encourage and assist exploration of the Himalaya. The club publishes an annual journal and newsletter, maintains a comprehensive reference library at the Indian International Centre in New Delhi. Over the last few years, activity at the Himalayan Club has reduced though the occasional film slide show or talk is still held when an expedition has just been completed and its organisers are in the city.

Contact :

The Himalayan Club Library

India International Centre

40 Max Muller Marg

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Lodi Estate

New Delhi - 110 003

The Himalayan Club

c/o Eastern Bunkerers Ltd.

Scindia House, Basement,

Narottam Morarjee Marg,

Ballard Estate,

Mumbai 400 001

c/o Mr. K. Guha

63 E Maharivan Road

Calcutta - 700 029

Aero sports

Just like on the land, there are numerous adventure opportunities in the air too. Man has for times immemorial, yearned to glide and soar like a bird in the sky. Parasailing and Paragliding are indeed, experiences that combine the wonder of smooth sailing in the air and the thrill of soaring high above the ground. Once in the air, you experience the ethereal serenity of the sport. It is an experience that is, surprisingly, thrilling as well as becalming.

In India some of the major aero sports that adventure lovers would love to indulge in include, Ballooning, Para Gliding and Hang Gliding. Even amateurs can indulge in these sports, with a proper orientation. There are many government sports institutes and sports clubs in India that organize training courses for Para gliding and hand gliding. Tourism organizations in various states of India also organize sports events and competitions to promote these air sports.

Be it ballooning, hang gliding or para gliding, India offers excellent locations and facilities at Kangra, Dasauli, Dharamasala, Shimla, Pune, Mhow, Indore, Mysore, Udhagamandalam and Shillong. Float over the mountains ... soar higher on every current of air... hang-glide in the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu, the Chamudi hills of Karnataka and the

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hills of Shillong in Meghalaya. Except for the monsoon season, Para Gliding and Hang Gliding are safe throughout the year.

•Paragliding

Riding the warm thermal currents of the air on a Para glider is perhaps the closest man has ever come to sailing the skies as free as a bird. Almost at will, you dip and wheel high over the hills and valleys. Paragliding uses thermals as the driving force, and is the closest one can get, to being a bird. In perfect weather conditions you can stay aloft for over three hours and can soar to heights more than 3000 meters. In paragliding, the launch site for the gliders usually involve gentle hillsides but recently machine based takeoffs have made Para Gliding possible even in the flat lands of India. The flying season spans September to December and then March to June.

Paragliding is the simplest form to fly and all you require is a Para glider. A Para glider is a non-motorized, foot-launched inflatable wing, which is easy to transport, launch, and land. It is constructed of rip-stop nylon or high stress polyester fabric. The pilot is clipped into a harness and is in a comfortable sitting position. The harness and the Paraglider attached by sturdy kevlar lines. The Para gliders can fly in the air for hours and climb to altitudes, more than 10,000 feet high or opt for cross-country flying adventure covering vast distances. The basic techniques of para gliding include - launching, turning and landing. Once airborne, a great deal of manoeuvrability can be achieved with the Para glider. The glider can be steered by pulling suspension lines, which, cause gliding motion, thus enabling the pilot fly at any course at will.

Paragliding Equipments - The essential equipment consists of a glider, which when inflated offers resistance to the thermal currents and retards the rate of descent, a harness that attaches the Paraglider firmly and safely to the pilot. It is so designed that it can be released quickly to avoid injury, by dragging the pilot over the ground after landing.

A helmet and a reserve parachute are for the pilot's safety and a vario-meter to gauge the ascent or descent of the glider. For those who cannot afford the equipment cost or do not have the time to learn flying, there is an alternative. One can sit along with an experienced pilot in a Tandem Glider, a two-seater and while the pilot manoeuvres the glider, one can sit back and enjoy the thrill of non-powered flying. Similar to any other adventure sport, there is a risk factor involved in paragliding, but in recent years, improved equipment and techniques have created an amazing safety record for the sport.

There isn't much difference between Para sailing and Paragliding, except that Para sailing is done with a parachute tied to a moving vehicle. But in paragliding the launch site for the gliders usually involve

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gentle hillsides. Since Para gliders do not have to withstand the stresses of free-fall deployment, they are much lighter and aerodynamic, designed to go up rather than down.

Learning the Sport - Elementary Courses are for about 3 days, the Intermediate Course is for 10 days, a Basic course is for 5 days and the Advance Course is for 10 days.

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Contact

Himachal Tourism conducts training programmes and events at various times of the year. There is an Adventure Sports Hostel at Dharamsala and an Aero Sports Complex at Bir. For details of training facilities, contact sports associations, or the Divisional Tourism Development Officers of Himachal Tourism.

For courses in Para Gliding

Nirvana Adventures

www.nirvanaadventures.com

Email: [email protected]

Questrails

www.questrails.com

[email protected]

Major Paragliding Sites In India

Himachal - The bald peak of Billing, above the Buddhist monastery of Bir in Kangra, has been the venue for five national and three international hang-gliding rallies since 1984. The site is perfect for Para-

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gliding too. Paragliding sites are located at Pabbar valley , Arhaul-Anu near Rohru and Garhalla Talab in Chopal in Shimal district, Bundla Dhar near Bilaspur in the Kullu valley.

Uttaranchal - The unique topography makes Garhwal an excellent destination for both experienced and beginner Para gliders.

Rajasthan - The open countryside of Rajasthan also offers gliding opportunities that can prove remarkable, and with permission from civil aviation authorities, these may be organised in several cities of Rajasthan where there are runways and strips available. These include Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Bikaner and Kota.

Maharashtra - The flying in Maharashtra is almost entirely on the Western Ghat hill range, which run in an almost unbroken line from Gujarat in the north, to the Nilgiri Hills on the southern tip of India. Flying tends to be centred on the affluent region around Mumbai and Pune, but there is plenty of potential elsewhere in the state for pilots who are prepared to explore. Popular flying areas, include the hill stations and fort sights of Maharashtra: Matheran, Deolali, Mahabaleshwar, Singhgad and Panchgani.

Delhi - Sohna, about 40 kms south west of Delhi is coming up in a big way for flat land paragliding. Some Delhi based outfitters organise regular tandem flights and training courses starting November to February with specially designed take off machines known as Winch.

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Important Paragliding Places in India :

Billing, HP

Kullu, HP

Solang, HP

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Lahaul & Spiti, HP

Naukutchiyatal, Nainital

Dayara Bugyal, Garhwal

Dhanolti Ridge, Garhwal

Bedni Bugyal, Kumaon

Jaipur, Rajasthan

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Udaipur, Rajasthan

Bikaner, Rajasthan

Matheran, Maharashtra

•Parasailing

Parasailing

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Parasailing consists of a parachute-like parasail, attached to a 300-meter long towrope, which is pulled along, by a speeding form of transport. When the speed rises to beyond stalling speed, the parachute rises, taking the pilot up in the air. Parasailing has two variations: a terrestrial and an aquatic one, with a jeep (usually) being used on ground and a motorboat being used in the water. As compared to gliding, parasailing is easier to learn and is also safer.

The length of the towrope restricts the height gained by a parasail. The rule of thumb is that you achieve a height two-thirds the length of the rope. Other factors like wind speed, participants weight also have an important part to play. The time in the air depends on the amount of space available and the strength of the breeze. The stronger the breeze and the longer the run for the towing vehicle the longer and higher the flight will be. There are no weight restrictions in parasailing. The lighter you are, the higher you can go. Parachutes come in various weight classifications.

Goa, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai and certain parts of Orissa, Manipur and Delhi are used as destinations for parasailing. In Goa and Thiruvananthapuram, it's almost totally an aquatic sport, whereas in Manipur it's land-based. In Orissa, parasailing is done on both land and sea.

Para sailing, has been introduced by Assam Tourism Development Corporation to attract domestic and foreign tourists. The ideal place for Para-sailing in Assam is North Guwahati.

Delhi Tourism regularly organises Parasailing on request. Parasailing is organised by many operators on the Chennai - Mamallapuram road.

•Hang Gliding

Hang Gliding

The sport of hang gliding involves hanging suspended by a harness from a large flying instrument- a kind of kite shaped vehicle called a hang glider. With the help of certified instructors anyone can fly with only ten minutes of instruction on the ground. But, for high altitude gliding learning you must enrol in a hang gliding course where there are experienced pilots to guide you till you become professional in this sport.

A hang glider is piloted by shifting one's weight. Flight is dependent on the existence of rising columns of warm air called thermals. Take off involves running off moderate slopes till the glider inflates. Tandem flights use a wing large enough to hold two people, the pilot and a passenger. Though a relatively recent

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entrant in adventure sports, hang gliding has really caught on with clubs coming up in cities such as Pune, Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla, Mumbai and Bangalore.

While hang gliding one can look beyond the spines of receding mountain heights, past rivers that gorge their way through dense forests and on to the plains. On an exceptionally lucky day, one may even be able to trace the route of the river till it vanishes into a slight haze.

The safety of the pilot is assured by a parachute, which is made of high quality material to withstand different heights, wind force and gravity to which they are exposed. The alti-meter, vario-meter and wind-speed meters, and indicators are used for right movements and safe landing. Hang gliders are portable, which you can easily carry on your back or in a jeep to the gliding site and can be made ready quickly.

Among the basic equipments of hang gliding there are harnesses, helmets, and emergency parachutes. Hang glider is an aircraft to which undercarriage and take off power is through the pilot's legs. It consists of 3 aluminium tubes pivoted at the nose, a trapeze or cross bar for control and a tail. They are of various sizes and weights ranging from 7 to 25 kg.

While India has good thermal soaring effects during the summer months, and offers hill soaring almost round the year, the soaring in the winter months, although too static-is also good for hang gliding. Like many other sports hang gliding is also dependent on the weather.

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Contact

Himalayan Institute of Adventure Sports

Village Barua

P.O. Bahang, Manali

Himachal Pradesh-175103.

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Major Hang Gliding Sites In India

Hang Gliding In Himachal Pradesh - Billing, 14-km from Bir and is said to be among the finest sites for hang-gliding in the world. An annual hang-gliding tournament is also held over here. Dharamkot another great site situated in Dharamsala is situated at 11, 800 ft and requires a 2-km trek from the nearest road head.

Hang Gliding in the Nilgiris - Situated 20-kms away from Ooty, Kalahatty in the Nilgiris, has a launch area that is well connected by a jeepable road. This cross-country route in the Nilgiris passes over forested areas giving glimpses of wild animals in the sanctuary below. The Bombay Hang-gliders Club organizes rallies at Talegaon in the Western Ghats on the Bombay-Pune highway.

Other Hang Gliding Centres in India :

Pune, Maharashtra

Delhi

Mumbai, Maharashtra

Chandigarh

Shimla, HP

Devlali, Maharashtra

Bangalore, Karnataka

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Kalahatty, Ooty

•Skydiving

Skydiving's a fairly expensive sport to indulge in, but the Air Force Adventure Foundation organises training and flights where civilians can participate. A selected number of adventure sports specialists in large metros like Delhi and Mumbai can also help if you're interested in skydiving.

Skydiving as a sport is yet to catch on completely to become amongst India's top aero sports. A handful of organisations, however, do organise training camps where enthusiasts are taught the art of leaping out of a plane in midair, doing a `freefall' and then opening the parachute to land softly. An innovative variation of skydiving is `skysurfing', which involves performing manoeuvres like loops and twists - done almost exclusively by professionals as a spectator sport.

•Ballooning

Ballooning

About 50,000 cubic feet of hot air fills a giant nylon balloon to which a basket is attached. Hot air ballooning is becoming a great adventure option in India. To learn to pilot a hot-air balloon you need to be at least 16 years of age and physically fit. Depending on how quickly you master it, training takes three to six months.

Facilities for ballooning are available for amateurs and professionals across the country. A festival balloon mela is organized in Delhi every year and anyone can take a joy ride. The Ballooning Club in India organizes numerous international balloon festivals and demonstration flights annually.

The first ever hot-air balloon took to the sky in 1783. However, with the advent of air planes, flights 'by lighter-than-air' machines went out of fashion until it was revived in the last century as an adventure sport.

The best time to indulge in ballooning is after sunrise when the winds are at their calmest. Winter months provide the most reliable conditions, but during summer it is better to take off early in the

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morning. The duration of ballooning flight can change at the pilot's discretion, taking into account the winds, temperature and weight carried on the day.

A balloon can move as fast as the wind blows, but high wind landings always require skill and experience. The passenger capacity depends on the size of the balloon, but usually it varies from 2 in sport balloons and up to 12 people in passenger balloons. The balloon crew tracks the flight and are usually there when the balloon lands.

There are no seats in the basket - therefore, standing for the duration of the flight, about an hour is unavoidable. The walls of the baskets are usually four feet high. Adults should accompany children under 12 years.

Clothing should be exactly the way you wear during a hiking trip that includes sturdy shoes or boots plus sunglasses, gloves and a cap. Remember, it does not get any colder in the balloon than on the ground. Always bring an extra film for photography. A balloon can rise up to 800 feet and above, while joyrides for groups may be restricted to heights between 200 and 500 feet.

There are ballooning clubs in Guwahati, Dehradun, Bangalore, Delhi and Jaipur.

Balloon Ride Over The Taj Mahal: Hot-air ballooning in India is being given a new dimension by some travel agents/tour operators. They not only operate joy flights on the balloon but also conduct interesting tours like balloon-cum-horse or camel safaris. They also offer a view of the Taj Mahal from a balloon, with the Yamuna flowing by. The sight is not only an exciting but also a thrilling experience.

Ballooning In Rajasthan: The undulating sand dunes are ideal for ballooning buffs. People can even travel short distances between towns or historic resorts in these hot air balloons. The best attraction, of course, is to coast over fairs as Pushkar, or Beneshwar or Nagaur in a hot-air balloon.

Jeep Safaris

Jeep safaris are the perfect way of discovering some of India's less accessible places, for the Jeep is a sturdy and hardy vehicle that can travel with ease on rough and rocky terrains. Also, due to its varied and unique topography, India offers some unique destinations that are best reached in jeeps. You could go on a Jeep safari across the Thar Desert, or even on a cross Himalayan jeep safari, which would see you plying the famous Manali to Leh route.

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Travelling everyday a couple of hours through beautiful and rugged terrains enjoying the scenery and camping every day at a new place has a charm of its own. Make sure you utilise the services of an experienced organisation and resourceful manpower that has thorough knowledge of the area, for a lifetime of an experience. A good driver is a must and so is a good team taking care of day-to-day arrangements. Some of the areas require inner line permits for foreigners so advance planning is vital for jeep safari programs

Various established routes and areas for Jeep Safaris include

Leh & Ladakh

Spiti, Lahaul and Zanskar Valleys

Kumaon and Garhwal

Sikkim

Arunachal Pradesh

Gujarat

Rajasthan

Camel Safaris

Rajasthan, India's westernmost state is the very essence of exotic India. You can see Rajasthan on a jeep safari. Or, if you've a penchant for the high life, aboard the "Palace on Wheels", the luxury train. But to

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really get a hands-on feel of the desert state, nothing comes close to a camel safari. Climb up on one of these seemingly ungainly beasts, hang on for dear life, and let the good times roll, for the Ship of the Desert walks in a way which would certainly remind any sailor of a rolling, pitching deck in turbulent waters!

When to go - Winters are the best time for a camel safari. Rajasthan's summers are almost unbearably hot and dry, so going on a camel safari during this time is virtually impossible. November to March, when days are cool (and nights cold!) is when most camel safaris are organised.

What to bring - Woollens are a necessary part of packing. Desert nights can get very cold, so it's essential to take along warm sweaters and jackets. Although mattresses are usually provided by whoever's organising the camel safari, you'll need to carry bedding - a warm sleeping bag is recommended. During the daytime, the sun can be blistering, so make sure you get your hat, a pair of sunglasses and sunscreen lotion. Carry a first aid kit along with you, as well as any other essentials you might need - out there in the desert, trying to find a shop can be a problem. It's a good idea to carry along extra blankets to cover the wooden saddle, which you'll probably be sitting on. Blankets are excellent padding, and can protect you from a sore bottom after a hard day's riding.

Getting there - Most camel safaris start from Jaisalmer, which is connected by air, train and road to the rest of India. Rajasthan's capital, Jaipur, is also a convenient base for exploring the state, whether on camel or otherwise. Jaipur has a well-connected airport, as well as regular train and bus links to a number of cities across India. All camel-safari towns in Rajasthan, such as Bikaner and Mandawa, are connected by road to Jaipur. Buses run between all the major towns of the state, and private cars or taxis can be hired to do the trip.

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Important Tips

Drink plenty of water, at least 2 to 4 litres a day, to prevent dehydration and keep yourself well covered, to prevent sunburn.

Wear a sunhat and sun glasses and slap on the suntan lotion if you don't want your skin to start peeling. Use a good sunscreen with high SPF.

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Rajasthan, although it's fast getting as commercialised as any other part of India, still is pretty unspoilt - especially as far as the desert is concerned. Keep it that way; please don't leave a trail of junk behind you or harm the ecology and culture of this beautiful region.

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Fundamental facts

A large number of travel agents and tour operators in Rajasthan organise camel safaris. Most of these are in the vicinity of Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Ossian and Khimsar, and stretch from anywhere between 2 to 7 days, with longer ones of up to a month. Shorter, daylong camel safaris, which just about give you a glimpse of the desert, are also organised. The majority of camel safaris start from the desert fort town of Jaisalmer.

In most cases, one camel is provided per person, and a camel cart accompanies the entourage, laden with food, utensils and other supplies; it's also an option for anyone who gets sick of sitting on a lurching camel. Tents, food, mineral water, mattresses and an escort are invariably provided, and most operators will also make sure you get a full dose of local entertainment in the evenings. For longer camel safaris, which cover a few days, camps are usually set up at night in the vicinity of villages.

Among the more popular circuits for camel safaris are:

Jaisalmer

Bikaner

Mandawa

Jaisalmer

1. Jaisalmer-Badabagh- Baisakhai- Ramkunda- Roopsi- Ludharva- Chatrayil- Salkha- Beri of Kanoi- Masooradi- Jeseiri- Dedha- Deegasar- Kuldhara- Moolsagar- Amarsagar- Jaisalmer This route is really one of the longest camel safaris in the state; a number of shorter versions of it are available, if you don't have the time or the inclination to go the whole hog.

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2. Jaisalmer- Moolsagar- Kuldhara- Masooradi- Padiyari- Moondardi- Jaisalmer An abridged version of the first camel safari, this one starts from Jaisalmer, and passes through Moolsagar, Kuldhara and Masooradi, before proceeding to Padiyari and then to the hamlet of Moondardi. From Moondardi, the safari heads back to Jaisalmer. A short trip, but enjoyable enough, especially for someone who doesn't have the time to spare for a longer expedition.

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Bikaner

1.Bikaner- Naukh- Kanasar- Baru- Chayan- Sataya- Tadana- Mohangarh- Dungri-Jaisalmer:

This route starts at Bikaner, where you can see the magnificent old Junagarh fort and the lovely Lalgarh Palace, before you get on to your camel and set off. The camel safari works its way southwards, passing through the hamlets of Naukh, Kansar, Baru, Chayan, Sataya and Tadana to Mohangarh. Mohangarh, although a small town, is dominated by an imposing sandstone fortress, which deserves a visit. From the town, the trail continues to Dungri and then onto Jaisalmer, where it ends.

2. Bikaner- Charkhada- Teliyan ki Dhani- Kanasar- Baru Bhala- Bungri- Telansar- Chaku- Bharaiya- Jambo- Jaisalmer

Another of the Bikaner-Jaisalmer camel safaris, but one that follows a different route. This one starts at Bikaner, and instead of heading directly south to Jaisalmer, makes a detour eastward into the neighbouring district of Jodhpur. Passing through the villages of Charkhada, Teliyan ki Dhani, Kanasar, Baru Bhala, Telansar, Chaku and Bharaiya along the way, the camel safari reaches the hamlet of Jambo, in Jodhpur district. From Jambo, it turns westward and goes to Jaisalmer, where it ends.

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Mandawa

Mandawa-Dhakas-Khotia-Mandawa:

This camel safari is one of the shortest offered and though it's not full of exotica, it allows you a brief but enlightening glimpse of life in one of India's harshest but loveliest terrains.

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These are just a few of the more popular routes; other camel safaris are organised throughout Rajasthan. Some, like the ones above, originate in Jaisalmer, Bikaner or Mandawa, while others traverse the area around Jodhpur and Shekhavati, the latter rich with fresco-decorated havelis. Camel safaris like the ones in the vicinity of Jaisalmer and Shekhavati offer plenty of scope for touring medieval forts, visiting ancient temples and photographing some of Rajasthan's most imposing monuments. The ones around Bikaner are, on the contrary, more suited for a glimpse of typical village life. You probably won't see too many famous forts or palaces on these circuits, but it's a grand opportunity to get a taste of rural Rajasthan.

All major hotels and travel agents in the areas book Camel Safaris. You can get in touch with your travel agent or your hotel for an enjoyable trip.

Elephant Safari Jim Corbett National Park

A truly international product, unmatched in value to any other jungle experience, the Elephant Safari in Corbett National Park is one of the most premium jungle experiences that the country has to offer. A combination of Five star jungle hospitality using one of the most premium properties in the Corbett National Park and some of the jungle rest houses deep in the jungles of Corbett National Park over a period of six days you get to experience the wilderness from very close quarters.

A brief itinerary is provided below

Day 01: Delhi/Corbett: O/N The Corbett National Park.

Arrival and check in at Hotel. After a welcome drink and a short briefing on your stay at different lodges. Lunch is served. Proceed for game view drive to Bijrani.

DAY 02: Corbett; O/N Dhikala forest rest house.

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Post Breakfast game view drive in Corbett national park for tiger tracking. Drive on to Dhikala Rest House, the natural setting is awesome and the location is picturesque. Lunch/rest/relax and enjoy the panoramic view of the grassland area and its abundant wildlife. The elephant ride from Dhikala provides the opportunity for close viewing of wildlife. O/n stay at Dhikala Forest Rest House.

Day 03: O/N Rathuadab Forest Guest House.

Have a steaming cup of tea before breakfast and you start off early, as it is more rewarding. You may spot chital returning to thick forest after having spent the night feeding in the open; you may even catch a glimpse of a tiger returning after night's hunt. Your elephant will follow game paths through the jungle before entering the Mandal valley. Stop for lunch and short rest. The afternoon safari takes you up a wooded hillside, which has high mountains and thick forests. You follow the Mandal River to Rathuadhab where your camp has been set up for the night.

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DAY 04: O/N Halduparao.

This is the most exciting day as you visit Sonanadi (river of gold) sanctuary. A heaven for wildlife, this sanctuary has recently been included in the Corbett tiger reserve because of abundance of game. On the morning safari, your elephant follows the old bridle path used by British officers who traveled on horses, through the Palain River valley to Mondiapani. There is old forest rest house here where you can stretch your legs and have a quick lunch. After lunch your safari continues through the most beautiful part of your trip. Because of the bamboo forests here, one can expect the wild elephants in this path. This sanctuary has the largest concentration of elephants. Herds of elephants gather here to satisfy their enormous appetite by feeding on the tender green bamboo. The Palain River is perennial and provides essential water for elephants. Your camp here is on the bank of the river. There is a "Machan" (watch tower) from where you can safely view the game coming to drink and bathe in the river. Overnight stay at the Forest Rest House (FRH).

DAY 05: O/N the

(You can sleep till late today!) after a leisurely breakfast, bid good-bye to your elephant and the mahout. Your jeep will take you back through another part of the Corbett tiger reserve to the Hotel, Corbett

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Hideaway. On the way, stop for lunch at one of the forest bungalows. You arrive before sundown in time to have dinner and watch a Kumaoni cultural show. Overnight at Hotel.

DAY 06: Leave for Delhi after breakfast.

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Details of the program

Accommodation inside rathuadab / halduparao FRH have basic accommodation on twin/ triple sharing basis with non-flushing, Indian style toilets.

Our support team of 6 persons including certified naturalist, driver, attendants & Chef apart from mahout would be there to assist you for your Program.

We provide the linen & other toiletries.

We also serve continental food on the Program too.

Horse Safari Jim Corbett National Park

Horse Safaris are organized in the Marwar region (the chief town of which is Udaipur (give link)) of Rajasthan. Its semi-desert environs provide a perfect backdrop to the rich colours of the people of different tribes and communities. The pride of the region is the Marwar horse, which has been bred over centuries of royal patronage. Rohetgarh offers splendid riding experience of the wildlife, scenic and tourist interest. The tour takes you through the traversed trail offering old forts belonging to erstwhile

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rulers of the region. It also includes night camps and a peek into the traditions of the region. Contact your hotel or travel agent to arrange for one.

Skiing

A comparatively new sport in India, skiing has gained immense popularity all over the world. The vast open spaces above the snowline have flung open to the skiing enthusiasts, a plethora of ski locales in Jammu and Kashmir, the hills of Kumaon, Himachal Pradesh and the eastern states. The awesome height and spread of the snow clad mountains, with the added advantage of powdered snow are tempting enough to magnetize the adventurous spirits of the avid skier, providing all the thrill and excitement attached to the game. Realizing the immense prospect for tourism, India has developed some of the most modern and also the cheapest ski resorts in the whole world.

Auli is the Mecca of skiing in India. It is the site where enthusiasts throng in large numbers as this is one of the places with the best infrastructure next only to Gulmarg. Auli is the venue of the Indianwinter games in the country. The Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam conducts courses here and one must book months in advance to avoid disappointment.

Of the popular skiing destinations the following are worth exploring

Himachal Pradesh - Manali, Kufri, Narkanda, Shoja, Triund

Uttaranchal - Auli, Dayara Bugyal, Mundali, Munsiyari

Jammu and Kashmir - Gulmarg

•Heli Skiing

Th For High Mountain thrills perhaps nothing can surpass the magic of Heli-skiing. Under a deep blue sky, the skiers are carried by helicopter to a snow-draped peak. And after that there is nothing except steadily distancing whirr of rotor blades, the sky and the snow. It is a thrilling experience as the skier rapidly zooms down the slopes.

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Heli-skiing is an expensive sport because participants are taken to high mountaintops or the ridges by helicopter and dropped there. The skiers then ski down through the unknown route on the slopes. Skiers also choose their own slopes or terrain thus they need not waste time and energy in climbing up the slopes.

The sport is available in the area abound by the Hanuman Tibba, Rohtang Pass, Deo Tibba and Chanderkhani Pass near Manali. A major feature is the compactness of the heli-skiing area. A sortie of ten minutes can carry the skiers to the top of a 14,000-feet high slope. Gulmarg was the first Asian destination to start Heli-skiing. A helicopter takes the skier's up to the Apherwat peak from where one can choose one's own descent route. Also available in Gulmarg during winter are toboggans, sledges and snow cycles.

Biking

Cycling is one of the best ways to see India. It isn't difficult and provides the cyclist with glimpses of India denied to the traveller whizzing past on four wheelers. Riding a bike is always a pleasure for a person who loves adventure and sports. Mountain biking isn't like participating in Tour De France. It's like climbing on a mountain with the help of a bike. Whether you are riding on a smooth surface or a hard one, mountain biking provides you a superb drive, so conquering the countless climbs and drop- offs is a matter of pure skill, strength & nerve. If you are looking for the excitement of challenging climbs and some of the best downhill in the world, set amongst ever-changing scenery, are present in our very own Himalayan ranges and this trip is hard to beat. In general, mountain biking trips focus on those who are born to be wild. A great way of sight seeing in India and its environs is on bicycle, as it gives an independence and intimacy with the people, culture and landscape that is unparalleled. Cycling allows one limitless possibilities of routes and in India is delightful through the year with routes are tailor-made on less frequented drives.

The rich and wildly diverse terrain of India need not be seen through the smudged and speeding windscreen of a jeep or bus. Downhill cycling can be great rush of adrenaline.

Best Season

October through December has the highest glee factor with a 5-star cycle rating. Visibility and conditions are at there best and you'll see the whole country buzzing on and around the trails to prove it!

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In mid-November and into December you will have cooler mornings and nights. The days are sunny & warm, with little chance of rain throughout this season.

The Shivalik or lower Himalayan ranges provide ample opportunities for biking. Do consult your travel agent before setting on a biking tour and make sure all logistics are planned to your satisfaction.

Bungee Jumping

Supposedly a sport which originated somewhere in the Pacific Islands, where daring islanders leaped off a cliff face with vines tied to their ankles, bungee jumping is a hot favourite in many parts of the world. It's still not caught on in India, largely because high quality infrastructure is hard to come by. It isn't non-existent, though, and a few adventure-tour specialists in Mumbai and Delhi offer opportunities for bungee jumping.

Few of the bungee operators offer 130 foot jumps from a crane. Crane systems can be also brought to the site of your choice for organising a Bungee Carnival. Age: You need to be between 14 and 50 years and in good health particularly without any major back problem or high blood pressure. Jump facilities do exist for mentally or physically challenged individuals.

Moto Sports

•Bike Safaris

•Car Rallies

•Federation Of Motor Sports Clubs Of India

•Raid De Himalaya

Speleology (Caving)

Caving is not yet a popular sport in India. But that doesn't mean there aren't good sites to explore. Many places in Central and Northern and North Eastern India allow safe caving experiences.

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The scientific activity of studying, exploring and mapping caves is called Speleology. The recreational pursuit is called caving in Australia but is called potholing and spelunking in other parts of the world. It is a very popular pastime, which allows cavers to safely experience the underground world.

Caves are very sensitive and fragile environments. Thus cavers need to take the utmost care when entering caves to view and experience the amazing structures such as stalagmites and stalactites, columns, shawls, straws and flowstones.

Meghalaya, in the North East of India has immense opportunities for the enthusiasts. There are around 780 caves near Cherrapunji and Shillong and in the Garo and Jaintia Hills.

Cool Retreats Hill Stations

Hill Stations in India

Andhra Pradesh

Anantagiri Hills

The only hill station in Rajasthan, Mount Abu huddles among the rocks on a 1,220-m granite table mountain at the far southwestern end of the Aravalli hills. It is built around a lake and is surrounded by forested hills. According to a legend, the place derives its name from Arbuda, a serpent who descended to the spot to rescue Shivas bull, Nandi. Besides having all the features of a pleasant hill resort, Mount Abu is also well known for the famous Dilwara temples and many more archaeological remains. There are interesting treks and picnic spots, romantic royal retreats of the various erstwhile families of bygone Rajputana and some relics of the Raj period. The scenic landscapes include gigantic blocks of rocks in weird shapes, an array of coniferous trees, flowering shrubs, lovely lakes and the cool climate much in contrast to the arid environs of the state.

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Araku Valley

Araku Valley is Located 115 km away from Vizag district of Andhra Pradesh, Araku Valley is close to the Orissa State border. This place lures people with pleasant weather, hills and valleys. The natural beauty of this valley comes alive with its rich landscape. The area of the valley is roughly 36-km and the altitude is between 600 and 900 mtrs above the sea level.

Horsley Hills

Located 144 km away from Tirupathi, Horsley hills are one of the famous hill resorts of Andhra Pradesh. It is named after WD Horsley, who was the collector of Cuddapah district. Horsley chose this spot for his summer residence. It is situated at an altitude of 1,265 m, which makes this place delightfully cool, with a max summer temperature of 32 C, and minimum of 20 C the shady slopes found in this are wooded with luxurious vegetation.

Arunachal Pradesh

Along

This hill resort is located 125 km away from Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh. It is one of the older towns of Arunachal Pradesh and headquarters of west Siang district. Set in a wide open valley where the Sipu river merges with Siyom against the backdrop of hills covered with snow during winters, it presents a panoramic view tot he delight of visitors. Along by night with hundreds of electric lights flickering and glowing over the broad valley looks like a wonderland from the top of the hills.

Best Time To Visit: April to Oct

Pasighat

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Pasighat and its surrounding areas abound in natural beauty and the place has rightly been called as a photographers delight. It is a land to have a rendezvous with Mother Nature in her purest form. The mighty Brahmaputra River, called the "Siang" here transcends down from Tibet and gives its name to the district. It flows through the entire length of the area until it descends down into the plains of Assam south of Pasighat town, where it meets Dihang and Lohit and becomes the Brahmaputra.

Best Time To Visit: Nov - April

Assam

It is located 84 km away from North of Silchar, Assam. In the lush hilly terrain lies this lovely lakeside resort, which is Assam's only hill station. It is the name of variety of orchids, one of them being the rare Blue Vanda. Haflong Lake is situated in the heart of the hill station is a picturesque area. The Jatinga village unravel the mystery of the flocks of little migratory birds crashing to death on still dark nights.

Best Time To Visit: Aug - Nov

Umrongso / Umrongshu

It is located at the borders of Assam and Meghalaya, 112-km away from Haflong. This hill station is blessed with the natural backdrop of North Cacher Hills region. For the sake of enjoying this alluring journey, one should travel from Haflong Hill to Umrangshu and from their via Jowai to Shillong hill. Near Umrangsu, there is a hot water spring (Garampani), which is believed to possess medicinal properties.

Jharkhand

Hazaribagh

The Hazaribagh plateau has Parasnath mountains on its eastern side. According to Jain tradition, no less than 23 out of 24 Tirthankaras (including Parsvanatha) are believed to have attained salvation in the Sammetasikhara of the Parasnath hills. The hill seems to have been an abode of Jains.

Netarhat

The popular hill station, Netarhat, which is 156 kms from Ranchi is known as the Queen of Chotanagpur. Situated at a height of 3,700 ft. above sea level, Netarhat is a beautiful resort, during

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summer. Dense forests, serpentine roads, cool bracing breeze, moonlit nights all add to the beauty of the magnificent place. This place is an out of this world experience.

Ranchi

Situated picturesquely in the heart of Chotanagpur, at an altitude of 2, 140 ft. above sea level, Ranchi is the nucleus of the region. Once the summer capital of Bihar, Ranchi is well known for its scenic attractions, waterfalls, barren rocks & hillocks.

Gujarat

Saputara

The picturesque hill station is perched on a plateau at an altitude of about 1000 mtrs in the Dang forest area of the Sahyadari Range. It has a cool bracing climate the highest temperature even in the summer months not exceeding 28 deg C. Saputara is situated 160 kms from Surat. Legend has it that Lord Rama spent 11 years of his exile in these very forests. 'Saputara' means the 'abode of serpents' and a snake image on the banks of the river Sarpagana is worshipped by the 'adivasis' (tribals) on festivals like Holi.

Gira Falls

1 km off the Saputara - Waghai Road, leads to a vast clearing where the picturesque Gira Falls emerging from the Kapri tributary can be viewed. An absolute must from June to November. Visitors can get refreshments from a small tea and snack stall. Picnic huts make it an ideal spot for relaxing and picnicking.

Haryana

Morni Hills

On the opposite hillside of the Pinjore valley, 45 kms from Chandigarh lie the Morni Hills, past the township of Panchkula. Past sleepy hamlets and cultivated terraces, one witnesses the calm altitudes of the Morni Hills, on chugging up a hill climb of above 3900 ft. with wilderness all around.

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Situated in the lower reaches of the Shivalik range, Morni is ideal for a holiday with its cool climate, beautiful natural vistas and myriad opportunities for trekking, rock-climbing and other adventure sports.

Best time to visit: September to March.

Himachal Pradesh

Chamba

It is the land of antiquity, art and scenic beauty, is a wonder in itself for every visitor. Situated at the height of 996 m. above sea level on the south bank of the Ravi River, the ancient Pahari capital was founded in 920 A.D. by Raja Sahil Verma, who named it after his favourite daughter Champavati. The valley is noted for the magnificence of it's scenery-touching the fringe of the Shivaliks and having three well-defined snowy ranges, the Dauladhar, constituting the outer Himalayas, the Pir Panjal or the mid Himalayas, and the Zanskar range or the inner Himalayas.

Kullu

Located in Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of 1220m. Kullu was once known as Kulanthpitha, which means the end of the habitable world. Beyond rose the forbidding heights of the Greater Himalayas, and by the banks of the shining river Beas, lay the fabled 'Silver Valley'. The mountain-scapes remain spectacular whether in brilliant sunshine or in the haze of the mist. The 'Silver Valley' has nature's treasures that lie carelessly scattered as flowers on the high meadows. The town of Kullu has long been a centre of faith. In the 17th century, Raja Jagat Singh installed here an idol of Lord Raghunathji, which he brought from Ayodhya. As a mark of his penance, he placed the idol on his throne and it became the presiding deity of the valley.

Best Time To Visit: Mid-May To Mid-October.

Lahaul

Lahaul and Spiti, situated at an altitude of 6,500 mtrs are two remote Himalayan valleys of Himachal Pradesh lying on the Indo-Tibet border. Strange, exciting, primitive, these valleys are incomparable in mountain scape, in the rugged beauty of their rocky escapements and the splendour of their snow covered peaks.

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Best Time To Visit: Lahaul- Mid June To Late October / Spiti- August To October.

Manali

Situated at an altitude of 2,050m. The Kullu valley has an ancient town in its lap called Manali. Surrounded by towering peaks at an arm length, Manali's major asset is its proximity to the snowline. It is a flourishing orchard industry, a popular honeymoon destination and trailhead for numerous treks as well as a great countryside ideal for adventure sport lovers.

Best Time To Visit: May To October.

Dalhousie

This hill station spreads over five low-level hills at the western edge of the Dhauladhar range, just east of the Ravi River. The picturesque town is interspersed with the colonial-era buildings, low roofed stalls and hotels. The pine-covered slopes around it are intersected with paths and treks, which are ideal for short undemanding walks.

Dharamsala

Set against the backdrop of the dramatic Dhauladhar mountains, Dharamsala is perched on the high slopes in the upper reaches of Kangra Valley. Dharamsala over looks the plains and is surrounded by dense pine trees and Deodar forests. A nearby snowline with numerous streams and cool healthy atmosphere makes the surroundings very attractive. Dharamsala is a busy bazaar town and has established itself as the travellers base camp, who come to explore the nearby mountains.

Best Time To Visit: Mid-May To Mid-October

Shimla

Shimla is situated at an altitude of 2,159m. Shimla has been blessed with all the natural bounties, one can think of. Dwelling on a panoramic location, the hilly town is surrounded by green

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pastures and snow-capped peaks. The spectacular cool hills accompanied by the structures made during the colonial era create an aura, which is very different from other hill stations.

Best Time To Visit: April To August & December To January.

Chail

Chail is situated at 43 km higher then Shimla it was created by Maharaja of Patiala who was banned from Shimla on account of a mild romantic flutter at scandal point on Shimla's Mall. He created his own 75 acres Himalayan resort, which has now become a prominent tourist spot. Chail is set amidst tall cedars & stately oaks. When trekking through forest you are sure to meet barking deer & the highly endangered kaleej pheasant. And when tired, sit down & be refreshed by dazzling views of the Choor Chandani Peak

Kufri & Fagu

Situated at 8,602 ft 17 km away from Shimla guarded by the vast expense of ancient cedar forests, bring back memories of day long picnics, horse riding & languorous walk during lazy hazy summer hols. Mahasu peak the highest point in Kufri ,makes a challenging hike.When the sky's a cloudless blue , watch the views of snowy clad peaks of Badrinath & Kedarnath The hills come alive with shouts of young voices throwing snow balls on each other during winter season .Kufri also provide finest ski slopes thus attracting ski expertise from all over the country

Mashobra

This tiny Raj-era retreat is at height of 7,047 ft, 10 km north of Shimla. Mashobra was the first choice of British officials and their families who wanted proximity to as well as privacy from Shimla. Decades after they left, their indulgence still marks Mashobra's stylish properties Two of the village's most prominent structures, The Wildflower Hall and The Retreat are delight to stay having world class facility.

Jammu & Kashmir

Gulmarg

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The valley of Gulmarg, a large meadow about 3-sq-kms in area, stands at 2,730 meters, 56-km south west of Srinagar. The name means 'Meadow Of Flowers' and in the spring it's just that, a rolling meadow dotted with countless colourful Bluebells, Daisies, Forget Me Nots and Buttercups. The valley itself is about 3-km long and up to a km wide. All around are snow-capped mountains, and on a clear day one can see all the way to Nanga Parbat is one direction and Srinagar is another. It's a popular day trip from Srinagar to Gulmarg, although many people extend their stay or use it as a base for trekking. The road from Srinagar rises gently towards the lower slopes of the range, passing through rice and maize fields.

Best Time To Visit:

In Summer - May to September

In Winter - Nov to February

Pahalgam

At an altitude of 2,130m and about 95-km from Srinagar, Pahalgam is probably the most popular hill resort in the Kashmir valley. Since it is rather lower than Gulmarg the night time temperatures do not drop so low and it has the further advantage of the beautiful Lidder River running right through the town. Pahalgam is situated at the junction of the Aru and Sheshnag Rivers and surrounded by soaring, fir-covered mountains with bare, snow-capped peaks rising behind them.

Best Time To Visit:

In Summer-May To September

In Winter-Nov To Feb.

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Patnitop

With all its beauty at a hill station, it is a charming plateau at 2, 024m. The meadow is surrounded by dense woods and lush greenery of Pines. Tracks lead to pockets where time stands still and calm prevails. Picturesquely situated at a high altitude, there are good bridle paths passing through

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wooded lanes and fascinating scenery link Patnitop with Kud and Batote. There are three, gushing, ice-cold freshwater springs in the area, which are said to have medicinal properties. The complete tourist circuit covers Jammu-Katra-Vaishno Deviji, Kud-Sanasar, Patnitop-Gourikund, Sudmahadev, Mantali, extending upto Latti-Dhuna.

Best Time To Visit:

Summer- May To June

Autumn-September To October

Winter - December To March

Srinagar

The capital of Jammu and Kashmir and the largest city in the state, Srinagar (1,730m) is famous for its canals, houseboats and Mughal gardens. The city itself is quite unlike most other large Indian cities for here you are much more in Central Asia than on the sub continent. It's a city full of intriguing alleyways and curious buildings. A place where it's very easy to spend a few hours simply wandering - particularly along the old city streets near the Jhelum river.

Best Time To Visit:

In Summer - June To Early Nov

In Winter - Dec To Feb

Karnataka

Baba Budan

To the north of Chikmaglur town is the Baba Budan Range or Chandra Drona Parvatha as it was known in the ancient times, which has one of the highest mountain peaks between the Himalayas and the Nilgiris.

Biligiriranga Betta (B.R.Hills)

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120 kms from Mysore and 247 kms from Bangalore, the Biligirirangana range of hills is picturesquely situated between the Cauvery and the Tungabhadra rivers. At a height of 5,091 ft above sea level, this hill stretches from north to south for about 16 kms. Surrounded by deciduous trees, the forests are teeming with wildlife. So if you're looking for a 'cool' time with a little bit of 'wild' excitement thrown in, welcome to B.R. Hills. Wake up to the chirping of birds and the humming of bees. Breathe in fresh, clean air. Take a stroll through the sylvan surroundings. And let the cool breeze blow your cares away. As the day slips quietly into night, watch the stars come out, one by one. The moon casts a silver light. And somewhere in the distance you hear a tiger roar. One can feel the proximity with the nature.

Best Season: Sep To May

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Kudremukh

The Horse-Face Hill Station 95 kms south-west of Chikmaglur town is the Kudremukh (Horse Face) range. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, the broad hills are chained to one another with deep valleys and steep precipices. As yet 'undiscovered' by tourists, Kudremukh is a secluded hill station, which retains much of its pristine, natural beauty.

Kemmanagundi

In the Tarikere Taluk of Chikmaglur District is a picturesque hamlet - Kemmanugundi, also called K.R.Hills, after the Wodeyar king Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, who made it his favourite summer camp. Nestling amidst lush green forests, the quiet, peaceful and serene Kemmanugundi is sure to revive and rejuvenate you physically, mentally and spiritually. The panoramic views, the ornamental gardens, the songs of the birds, the rays of the sun trying to peep through the trees, all are sure to leave the visitors spellbound. Time tiptoes gently here.

Nandi Hills

60 kms north of Bangalore is the summer resort called Nandi Hills. Also known as Nandidurga, it was one of the summer retreats of Tipu Sultan. Nandi Hills was popular with the British too who built

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bungalows and laid out gardens here. It is a hot favourite among Bangaloreans who find this an ideal get-away for weekends. The 1478-m high Nandi Hills is the originating point of many rivers. And the forests surrounding the hills abound with wild animals. Around the Nandi Hills are several smaller hills, which can be visited on foot.

Gopalaswamy Betta

Perched at a height of 1454 m the relatively unknown Betta is an idyllic and especially beautiful hill station tucked 75 km away from Mysore. Enveloped in mist most of the time, the hills are literally an abode in the clouds giving one an ethereal feeling of walking in them. As the mist rises from the hillock, the surroundings become visible offering breathtaking glimpses. There are many scenic valleys, gorges and hills like Neeladri, Hamsadri, Garudadri, Pallava and Mallikajunagiri. Abounding in rare flora, the region is virtually a storehouse of medicinal plants.

Kerala

Attappady

Located 38 kms from Mannarkkad, the place consists of mostly hilly highland terrain, fed by the tributaries of the River Cauvery. An extensive mountain valley above the crest of the Ghat ranges with numerous rivulets of the Bhavani River, Attapady is inhabited mainly by tribes and some settlers from Tamil Nadu. A beautiful synthesis of mountains, rivers and forests, Attapaddy is of great interest to anthropologists, as this is the habitat of many tribes like the 'irolas' and 'mudugars'.

Devikulam

Located 16 kms from Munnar, this gorgeous hill station symbolizes nature in her pristine glory. The crisp and cool mountain air heavily laden with the fragrance of wild flowers and rare herbs is any nature lover's paradise.

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Topstation

The idyllic hill station is located 32 kms from Munnar, on the Munnar-Kodaikanal Road. Perched at an altitude of 1700 m above sea level, it is the highest point on Munnar-Kodaikanal Road. The rare Neelakurinji (Strobilanthus), the flower that blooms once in 12 years, belongs to this region.

Munnar

This hill station, located at an altitude of 1600 m above sea level, was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture book towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands is the 'Neelakurinji'.

Peerumedu

It is a small hill station, snuggled at an altitude of 914 m above sea level, on way to Thekkady. The famous plantation town takes its name from Peer Mohammad, a Sufi saint and close associates of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore.

Nelliyampathy

Located at a distance of 52 kms from Palakkad, the cool hills of Nelliampathy, nestling atop the Western Ghats, offer a breathtaking view of the misty mountains and enchanting valleys interspersed with sprawling tea, coffee, cardamom and orange plantations.

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Pakshipatalam

It is located 7 kms north east of Thirunelli Temple in Brahma Giri Hills is a challenging tourist spot. A trekkers' paradise, this place is accessible only by trekking. Located at an altitude of 1740 m above sea level, this hill station offers great opportunities for bird watching. One has to trek 17 kms through the wild forests, to reach 'Pakshipathalam'

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Ponmudi

The salubrious hill station of Ponmudi is at a distance of 61 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Perched at an altitude of over 100 m above sea level on the Western Ghats, the shimmering green waters of the winding streams and verdant woods of Ponmudi do not spare anybody. Trekking is a passion with the visitors to Ponmudi, lying within easy driving distance from Thrivandrum.

Wayanad

The forests of Wayanad are a veritable treasure house of Flora & Fauna. Wildlife freely roams in the sanctuaries of Matthunga, Begur and Tholpetty. Home to stunning orchids, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, rubber, bamboo and coffee, Wayanad has a surprise in store for you at every nook & corner. Tucked in the verdant tropical womb are the twin lakes of Vythiri & Lakkidi. 3 Km from Lakkidi is the Pookote Lake, covered in parts with lotus, a picture out of a fairy tale book. At 6,890 ft is Chembra Peak just 24 Km from Vythiri.

Silent Valley

One of the least disturbed forests of 'God's own country' the Silent Valley. It is popular that it is named so because it is devoid of the most common sound found in the Rain forests; The incessant chirping of cicadas. The local name of the forest is 'Sairandhri', another name of Draupadi, the wife of

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the Pandavas. Some believe its name is derived from the lion-tailed Macaque, whose scientific name is Macca Silenus. Due to its topographic isolation no human being has ever made it their home. Places to see around Silent Valley, Attapady (35 Km) -- a tribal settlement for the Irulas and Mudugars, Malleshwaram Peak -- worshipped as a Shivaling by the Tribals.

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Malampuzha

Malampuzha Dam is in the foothills of the Western Ghats. It is known as the abode of Yakshi, because of the exquisite sculpture of Yakshi in the landscaped gardens of the irrigation dam at this popular picnic spot. The central attraction of this town is the unabashed yet enticing sculpture created in concrete by Kanai Kunhiraman, Kerala's best-known contemporary sculptor. Referred as the Vrindavan of Kerala, the place derives its name from the Malampuzha River a tributary of Bharatpuzha, the state's second largest river. The Rock Garden here, created by the fames re-cycling artist Nekchand, is particularly worth spending time. Also boating on the reservoir is another favourite sport.

Snake Park (Malampuzha)

Set up in 1984 by the state govt. the park houses several snakes like the Forsten's cat snake, the brown vine snake and of course the King Cobra, Indian rock python, kraits, the trinket snake and the rock pit viper, the wolf snake, and a variety of vipers like the saw scaled viper and Russel viper. There are various types of cobra like the common cobra, the monocled cobra, and the spectacled cobra. Also in the park are some varieties of water snakes, crocodiles and the American green iguana. Also in Malampuzha is the thread garden, a museum of a replica of nature, all made of thread.

Palakkad

Palakkad the rice bowl of Kerala is a gateway between Kerala & Tamil Nadu. The Palakkad Fort built by Hyder Ali of Mysore in 1776, is popularly called Tipu's fort. The once proud Granite fort of strong bastions & thick walls and a drawbridge, maybe crumbling with age, yet is worth a visit.

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Madhya Pradesh

Pachmarhi

At an altitude of 3,555 feet, surrounded by Satpura hills is located the summer capital of Madhya Pradesh- Pachmarhi. As a hill station this place has been untouched and unexplored. The natural beauty of Pachmarhi has remained unexploited and is lesser known to the foreign tourists. Geographically Pachmarhi is a group of waterfalls. Apart from the ancient temples and buildings, this place is known for its naturalbeauty. Though Pachmarhi has no comparison with the hill stations of the Himalayas still it carries a charm of its own which is unique to this place.

Maharashtra

Amboli

The British political agent, Colonel Westrop, developed Amboli as a hill station after the opening of the Ghat Road from the coastal town of Vengurla, now in southern Maharashtra, to Belgaum. It is located in Sindhudurg district at an altitude of 690m form the flat beaches. Amboli is the last mountain resort before the coastal plains begin in the southern ranges of the Sahyadri Hills. Submerged by dense forests and steep valleys, this tranquil mountaintop offers some of the best panoramic views of the Konkan coast.

In rainy season, the hill station is wrapped in mist. In other seasons there are fine views of the Konkan coastal belt. Amboli is one of the few hill stations from where one can really see the sea. It is quiet and peaceful. If one is looking to spend a few days in splendid isolation with the family, Amboli is an ideal resort.

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Mahabaleshwar

The Queen of all Hill Stations is situated at an altitude of 1,372m in the heart of Sahyadri Hills in Satara District. The name 'Mahabaleshwar' is derived from a temple of Lord Mahadev and three Sanskrit

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words, "Maha" (great), "Bal" (power) and "Ishwar" (God). Mahabaleshwar is famous for its scenic beauty and the splendid views of the valleys and the sea, which is quite visible in clear days pony rides on the lanes of Mahabaleshwar, are quite thrilling. Several charming hill resorts nestle in these mountains.

Bhandardara

Bhandardara is located 70-km away from Nasik. An exquisite holiday resort and an ideal getaway for fun-loving trekkers and picnickers, Bhandardara houses exhilarating waterfall - Radha Falls, a deep valley, a clean and large Arthur Lake, a historical Ratangadh Fort, an ancient temple - Amritheshwar Temple, a peaceful Agasti Rishi Ashram, Wilson Dam also known as Bhandardara Dam, and Viewpoints. It also hosts an ideal trekking destination - Mount Kalusubai.

Toranmal

It is located in middle range of Satpuda Hills in Akrani Taluka, Nandurbar district. A hill station situated at an altitude of 1461m. Due to higher elevation and the wooded surroundings, Toranmal plateau has a very cool and bracing climate like any hill station. The natural flora and fauna of the Satpuda forests are some of the pleasures one will find along with the calm and serene beautiful spot engulfed by 7 towering ranges of the Satpuda Mountain.

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Chikaldhara

Chikhaldara is located in Amaravati district of Vidarbha region. The only hill station in the Vidarbha region offers you an abundance of wildlife, viewpoints, lakes and waterfalls. It is named after "Keechaka". This is the place where Bheema killed villainous Keechaka and threw him into the valley. It thus came to be known as "Keechakadara"-"Chikhaldara" is its corruption.

Jawahar

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Jawhar is located in Thane District. It is a hill station with a difference that makes one to forget one's daily chores and all the turmoil's with exotic valleys, thick rich forests and a pleasant climate. It is famous for the vibrant Warli paintings. A hill station with raw jungle beauty is one of the few tribal kingdoms in Maharashtra

Lonavala & Khandala

They are two charming little hill stations on the western slopes of the Sahyadris, 5-km apart, that straddle the Mumbai - Pune highway at an altitude of 625m, quite popular as health resorts. Blessed by the nature in bounty, the hill resorts have plethora of places of Tourist Attraction in Lonavala & Khandala - Beautiful Hills, Deep Green Valleys, Huge Lakes, Historic Forts, Waterfalls, etc.

Panhala

It is situated at an altitude of 977.2m is a fascinating hill station with a rich historical heritage. Dotted with ancient fortifications and buildings that have witnessed the rise and fall of the Maratha Empire, Panhala is an enchanting place. Peaceful beyond imagination, free from pollution, and scenic enough to overwhelm your senses.

Panchgani

It is an idyllic mountain retreat in the Krishna valley. Tucked away in the Satara district of Maharashtra, Panchgani is a well-known hill station of Maharashtra on the highway to Mahabaleshwar from Pune. It derives its name from the five hills around it. At an altitude of 1,334m, it is just 38m below Mahabaleshwar. These 38m translate themselves into a breathtaking 18-km approach, offering heart-stopping views of the River Krishna on one side and the coastal plains on the other. It is the first hill town one reaches from Mahabaleshwar on the Pune road.

Meghalaya

Shillong

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Perched at an altitude of 1,496 m, this lesser known hill station is also called the "Scotland of the east". The charms of Shillong begin to work gradually but effectively. The road snakes up through lush green forests, seeping into the senses like heady wine. Even before the effect of Umiam Lake wears off, Shillong spreads out with its lush green undulating hills, cottages tucked in its folds with a sprinkling of old world cathedrals and churches and localities with quaint names like 'Laitumkrah', 'Sunnyhill', 'Lachumiere', 'Mawalai', 'Nongthymiah' and 'Pokseh'.

The legends might have vague roots but there is no disputing that nature has been more than partial where Shillong is concerned. Towering pines and gurgling mountain streams, awesome waterfalls that go by the name of Elephant, Crinoline, sweet falls, and the twin Bishop and Beadon. Then there are lakes and gorges and caverns that all combine to make Shillong a tourist's delight.

Rajasthan

Mount Abu

The only hill station in Rajasthan, Mount Abu huddles among the rocks on a 1,220-m granite table mountain at the far southwestern end of the Aravalli hills. It is built around a lake and is surrounded by forested hills. According to a legend, the place derives its name from Arbuda, a serpent who descended to the spot to rescue Shivas bull, Nandi. Besides having all the features of a pleasant hill resort, Mount Abu is also well known for the famous Dilwara temples and many more archaeological remains. There are interesting treks and picnic spots, romantic royal retreats of the various erstwhile families of bygone Rajputana and some relics of the Raj period. The scenic landscapes include gigantic blocks of rocks in weird shapes, an array of coniferous trees, flowering shrubs, lovely lakes and the cool climate much in contrast to the arid environs of the state.

Sikkim

Gangtok

Gangtok, the "Lofty Hill" or the "Hill made flat to build the Gangtok monastery in 1716". Gangtok is a city, which, till one sees it, one would believe exists only in picture-story books. In the mystery-laden mists prayer flags whip in the breeze; wheels spin in the hands of Lamas mumbling invocations to God, in the distance are the snows, on the streets amidst brightly painted pagoda roofed houses, lined with

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friendly smiling people are silver, silk and spice and jewellery to gladden an maiden's heart, from across the seven seas are gadget and goods to delight the collector of "imported goods', while directly overlooking the city is the hill Lukshyma, the 'Mother of Pearl' citadel of the magic mountain, Khang-Chen-Dzod-Nga. An air of enchantment hangs over the city, indeed the whole valley; the mysticism, the stupas, the monasteries reach out as soon as one has crossed the border. While across the hills and valleys comes the sounding of the long trumpets by robed lamas.

Tamil Nadu

Coonoor

Coonoor is situated on the eastern side of the southern extremity of the Doddabetta range, at an altitude of 1,858 metres above the sea level. It is the second largest hill station in the Nilgiris. Coonoor is located 19-km away from Ooty, a famous hill station of India. Coonoor is the first of the three hill stations in the Nilgiris- Ooty, Kotagiri and Coonoor - that one comes across when leaving behind the southern plains. Grassy meadows, tea bushes and profusion of Sunflowers, Marigolds and Rhododendrons, all growing wild cover it. Coonoor is essentially a small tea garden town where the weather remains pleasantly cool throughout the year. The town is physically divided into upper and lower Coonoor.

Kodaikanal

It is located amidst the folds of the verdant Pali hills is one of the most popular serene hill stations in India, which mesmerises any visitor. With her wooded slopes, mighty rocks, enhancing waterfalls and a beautiful lake, Kodaikanal is a charming hill station. Kodai is situated at an altitude of about 2,133-m high and covers an area of 21.45-sq-km. The pride of Kodaikanal is the 'Kurinji-flower', which blossoms once in 12 years. The hill-plantain fruits and plums are known for their freshness and taste.

Kotagiri

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Kotagiri is located 16-km away from Ooty and it is the oldest hill station of the Nilgiris. Kotagiri is situated at an altitude of 1950m, which was once a British hill resort, that dates back to 1819 and is quieter than Ooty. Elk Falls, Kodanad Viewpoint and Catherine Falls are a few places to visit.

Ketty

Ketty is famous for having the highest railway station in the country, situated at a height of 7,000 ft, in the Nilgiri Mountains of South India. The weather of Ketty valley is salubrious. Ketty is a wealth of natural beauty reposing in the Wenlock Downs, the Municipal Gardens and Doddabetta Peak, at 2,623 m the highest in the Nilgiris.

Udhagamandalam (Ooty)

The capital of Nilgiri district, is popularly known as the "Queen of hill stations' among the tourist circuits. It is situated at a distance of 105 km away from Coimbatore. The height of the hills in the Nilgiri range varies between 2280 and 2290 meters, the highest peak being Doddabetta at a height of 2623 meters.

Yercaud

Yercaud is a lesser-known hill station when compared to Ooty and Kodaikanal. Yercaud is situated at an altitude of 1,500 meters (4,920 feet), on the Shevaroy hills of the Eastern Ghats. The lofty hills are of extraordinary scenic beauty endowed with a salubrious climate. Yercaud is also called "Ooty of the Poor " and is known for Coffee Plantations and Orange Groves.

Courtallam

High up in the Western Ghats, on the Kerala border, Courtallam is halfway between the towns of Shencotti & Tenkasi in Tamilnadu. It is known as the "Spa of the South" for it's numerous Waterfalls. A major tourist attraction for bathers during the peak summer seasons from June to September. There are six major waterfalls, Main Falls, Shengadevi Falls, Honey Falls, Five Falls (made of five distinct streams) and the Old falls.

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Uttaranchal

Almora

Almora is one of the most beautiful places in Kumaon region in Uttaranchal. Almora is very virgin hill-station and is full of scenic beauty. It appears that Mother Nature has spread and blessed this place with her pure love. Nestled in the lap of nature this region has small houses built on the slopes and splendour of this place are added colourful attire of the natives. Just besides city flows the Koshi (Kaushaki) and Suyal (Salmali) rivers

Mussoorie

It is located at a height of 2,500 meters in the green Himalayan range. Due to its location and beauty Mussoorie is considered as the best hill station in the northern region. In 1820 Captain Young from the British army was influenced by the beauty of this place and made this place as his residence. The name, Mussoorie, is derived from plants of 'Mussoorie' which were found in abundance here. The modern bungalows, malls and well-laid gardens, which are located on the small hills around the area, are enough to attract any tourist.

Nainital

A small town in the hills of Kumaon, Nainital is a lovely hill station surrounded by mountains on three sides. Once this area had many lakes and it was called the City of 60 lakes or 'Chakta'. Most of the lakes in the region have disappeared and whatever remains is just a glimpse of what they might have been in the past. Today the life of Nainital revolves around the lake of Naini. But there are few other lakes around Nainital, which are equally beautiful and attractive as the Naini Lake.

Pithoragarh

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The easternmost hill district of Uttaranchal, Pithoragarh is often referred to as Miniature Kashmir. Nestling in a small valley, barely 5 km long and 2 km wide, the town also known as Sore Valley was an important landmark of the Chand Rajas of Kumaon. It is situated at an altitude of 1,650 m above sea level and has the facility of three spoken languages, namely Hindi, Kumaoni and English.

West Bengal

Darjeeling

It is the dreamland of the East; it has been a popular hill station since the British period. Darjeeling is surrounded by lofty mountains. Except for the monsoon months and if weather is clear then the Kanchenjunga peak can be seen. Down below in the valley flow the rivers swollen by rain water or melting snow. Darjeeling is a fascinating place rich in natural beauty and surrounded by the Buddhist monasteries. Its beauty surpasses any other hill station. The toy train coming from Siliguri is some thing, which is liked by the elders and the children equally. The real fun in coming to Darjeeling is on the toy train. It takes six to seven hours to cover a distance of 82 kms and the slow speed gives you enough time to watch and appreciate the beauty which nature has provided it. This train passes through the Forests, waterfalls, over deep valleys and through the mountains and tunnels

Kalimpong

A small but bustling town in the Himalaya foothills of West Bengal- Kalimpong is at an altitude of 1250 meters. This bazaar town was originally a part of Bhutan but later it was taken over by the British and finally it became a part of West Bengal. Kalimpong is famous for its monasteries, Churches and a private library for the study of Tibetan and Himalayan languages, culture etc. This place also has the Sericulture centre and the orchid nurseries and of course the place provides some beautiful sights of the Himalayan range. Though not all travellers visit this place, which demands some attention. The journey from Darjeeling along the Teesta River is very interesting.

Mirik

It is 52 kms from Siliguri and 55 kms from the nearest Airfield of Bagdogra. Mirik is being developed as a new hill station in the mountains. Mirik is surrounded by tea estates, orange orchards

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and cardamom plantations. Mirik has all the facilities to fulfil the needs of a tourist, it is surrounded by forests, flowers and is a very peaceful place which attracts the tourists automatically. This fast developing as a tourist paradise. This place is 5,800 feet above the sea level and has very thin population of 10,000 people. Mirik has not yet acquired the hustle and bustle of the regular hill station and is from pollution. Thus the little time spend here is enough to refresh you.