Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why Haven't You Gone Yet to Kerala Treetops in Monsoon?

Exotic Treetop in Kerala Monsoon
Exotic Treetop in Kerala Monsoon
It's a pity if you have not! Surely, you are depriving yourself of the rapturous pleasure of staying in the world's most exotic treetops mystified by bewitching monsoon rains!

Thousands plan to enjoy Kerala during winter or  summer holidays to see beautiful beaches, backwater cruises and houseboat stay, hill stations and national parks. But sadly, encounter crowds and crowds everywhere. Sometimes the very reason you wanted to get away from...
Added to this is a "tourist season" anguish of paying exorbitant prices for your holidays!

So,  we had a beautiful dream and imagined fulfilling it. My friend Tommy Singh was excited when I told him my dream and readily agreed to join me. I met him standing outside 2nd AC compartment of Trivandrum Rajdhani Train (No 12432)  at a small station Panvel 30 kilometers from Mumbai. Tommy had boarded the train from Hazrat Nizamuddin, New Delhi.

We were thrilled anticipating a most picturesque train journey by Konkan railways during monsoon and then spending our stay clutching to mother earth in a rain forest, climbing to our treetop abode, looking through bamboo framed window at the passing dark clouds, the whistling winds and pounding Kerala rains

Enjoying Monsoon in Wayanad

An idyllic destination for the vacationing and business traveler, Wayanad is a quaint hill District in north western Kerala, in a region of immense beauty and a dazzling variety of wildlife and fauna. The majestic landscape is strewn with lofty ridges, dense tropical forests, spectacular waterfalls and gurgling mountain streams. Wayanad is a place which is lashed by rains and blasted by winds. It experiences two monsoons – from June to September and October to November. Monsoon is a new concept that is, in our opinion,  the apt destination for those who seek such a thrill and ecstasy. Lakkidi and other areas of Wayanad experience one of the highest rainfalls in India. You can see the rains lashing over the rocks, the thick greenery of the plantations and you can enjoy the cool wind that accompanies each rain.

After great research, we decided to experience three exotic monsoon jungle treetops in an incredible setting in Wayanad district. The first one to visit was a rustic, remote, hidden in nature's lap and economical (around Rs. 2500) with mystic treetops.

Wynberg Resort

Way to Wynberg Resort
Way to Wynberg Resort
One of the treetops in Wynberg Resort
One of the treetops in Wynberg Resort
From the Kozhikode rail station headed on SH 29 named as Nedumbala-Meppadi road and then turned left on the Vayavetta road in Thrikkaipatta part. From there we phoned up the resort who guided us. A distance of about 90 kilometers took us about 2 hours. Though a bit difficult to locate, my goodness, what a beautiful and adventurous  journey  it was!
We were drenched in rain and nature!

We stayed for 3 days in the resorts and the experience was splendid!
The tree top room was too good with a nice valley view and it had all the modern amenities like fridge, TV, coffee maker... Food was the typical Kerala cuisine and tasty. We discussed and left our plan to Mr.Vanchy, the man behind the show and he planned the entire itinerary for us to see, arrangement of private guides and the must see places around. The resort was amazingly amidst the coffee plantations, over viewing the hill opposite surrounded by greenery all around. Excellent location and complete.  Of course, there were Eco cottages as well.

The days were cool and nights cooler inside. It was our secret, a home away from home and a school away from school. Where we read our book and where Tommy, my friend turned into a painter.  In the evening, we would ask for "Charayam" a country alcoholic drink and enjoy it with spicy raw banana chips

  • During our stay we visited:
  1. Edakkal Caves 
  2. Mudumalai national park
  3. Bandipur National Park
  4. Chembra Peak 
  5. Lakkidi View Point  
  6. Soochippara Falls (Sentinel Rock Waterfall)

Wynberg Resort
Kuzhivayal Estate, Thrikkaipatta Wayanad- 673121,
Kerala, India.
Tel. +91-4936- 320630, Mob - 91- 9744541203 / 9526612111/09562256023

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary

Treetop at Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary
Treetop at Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary
Well, on the 4th day, it was a time to leave for our next destination, another secluded treetop surrounded by thick jungle on the bank of a lake in the lesser known wildlife sanctuary of Parambikulam located in the Chittoor Taluk of Palakkad district.

It was a more than 6 hours journey by car and let me tell you, it was most fascinating! Neither we felt the distance of 286 km nor time. It was a drive through  Kozhikode and then Palakkad, finally reaching at the sanctuary.

We had booked our treetop through forest department through a friend of mine Jacob in Palakkad.

The sight was amazing! After trekking in the sanctuary on the day one, we discovered that with its panoramic landscape, meandering streams, extensive water spread of  the reservoir (where we had our treetop),  cascading waterfalls, rolling hills and valleys and wealth of biodiversity, it was one of the most captivating places in Kerala, I had ever seen!

By the evening we returned to our "Erumadams"(as treetops houses are called in these parts)
The dinner served, on a special request, was awesome! Kanji (rice gruel), some forest grown delicious vegetable curry, Chammanthi made out of chillies, tamarind, shallots and coconut.
In the night, I looked through wooden windows at the calm waters of Thoonakkadavu Reservoir. The clouds had cleared. The bamboo forests were lining its creek and a fading in the darkness the teak wood plantation was mesmerizing!

Next day, a safari was arranged in the sanctuary in awesome Tropical Ever Green Forest. We were fortunate to see elephants,  Gaur, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Barking deer, Common Langur, Nilgiri Langur and a Malabar giant squirrel. The forest guide took us to, apart from Parambikulam, the sanctuary's two other man-made reservoirs namely, Thunakadavu and Peruvarippallam.  Finally the guide took us to some special attractions like “Kannimara”, the ever-youthful teak tree, one of the oldest and largest trees in the world (about 360 years old.) and Thuvaiar waterfall- a river cascading and emptying into the reservoir.

On the third day, we left back to our world, leaving God's own rain heaven-Kerala in the monsoon!

To Book treetop at  Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary

The Wild Life Warden,
Parambikulam Wildlife Division
Anappad, Via Pollachi, Palakkad
Phone: 04253 277233 Mobile:9447979102
For more Details

Vythiri Resort

Vythiri Treetop, Wayanad
Vythiri Treetop, Wayanad
View from balcony-Vythiri Treetop, Wayanad
View from balcony-Vythiri Treetop, Wayanad


If you can spend money, around Rs. 10,000 for 2 then one of the best tree top place in the world, especially in monsoon is Vythiri Resort. It's a life time experience. For a honeymoon or to enjoy combative love games during monsoon or with family to have great fun, there is no other place than Vythiri Resort in Wayanad District. It has five tree houses, including one with child friendly facilities. Built at the height of 60 feet off the ground, gives breathtaking views of the forest around.
Just awesome!
photo of Kiran Travelfury
C12, New Natraj, Pestom Sagar, Road #6, Chembur
Mumbai , Maharastra , 400089 India
Travel, India Travel, Ace guide to India, Travel consultant

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What is Goa's Hidden Rapturous Monsoon Joy?

Panjim Goa during monsoon
Panjim Goa during monsoon
The cool balmy smell of the ocean air right after a spell of monsoon rains, the lovely moonlit night, and the haunting sound of the waves mesmerized all of us. We were at the Mendrum Beach in North Goa  with a group of two families. Even the children were very quiet for a few minutes, drawn by the magic of the moment, before they started dancing around the beach.
Over two million travelers from around the world visit Goa every year, but few when its most beautiful-during monsoon. Oh yes, the beaches are beautiful in monsoon, but as we found out, you are amazed to discover that much of the real Goa is beyond the beaches.

Enjoy the waterfalls

The Arvalem Waterfalls
Is  situated in Sinquelim is in its full glory during the monsoon, when 50-meter descent turns into a giant rush of water, cascading down from hills behind it.
You can visit the Sri Rudreshwar Temple with 5th century beautiful rock-cut caves

However, the matchless in the world is-

The Dudhsagar Waterfalls
One of the highest in the world, it moves rapturously with a milky foam that rise as waters crashing down from 603-meter height. The best way is to to take a jeep drive of about 40 minutes from Colem railway station (reachable by train from Vasco or Margoa) or from your resort directly and take a 15 minute hike through breathtaking scenery to the falls

Walking in rains in Old Goa

It was a great fun walking with umbrellas during intermittent rains with the occasional downpour. Old Goa has some magnificent churches and cathedrals. We started our walk from Basilica de Jesu, where the remains of St Francis Xavier lie and moved on to the Se Cathedral to the Church of St Francis of Assisi to the sweet little Chapel of St Catherine, and the Church of St Cajetan which was built to the design of St Peters in Rome. We rounded off our exploration with the interesting ruins around Old Goa, especially the Church of St Augustine. Wow! What a  thrilling Old Goa walking, exploration that was!

Back to 100 Years to Ancestral Goan Village

Ancestral Goan Village Loutulim in south Goa
Ancestral Goan Village Loutulim in south Goa

Perhaps,  one of the most memorable experiences!
The next day we visited this miniature Goan village located on a verdant hillock at Loutulim in South Goa, about 10 kilometers from Margao. You can visit between 9AM to 6PM and get a glimpse of ancient Goa as it existed may be 100 years ago. Our kids loved it as it showed them roots and heritage of Goa
The chief attraction of this open air museum was the "Legend of the Big Foot". "The Legend of Big Foot" revolves around a footprint that was discovered on a rock and the footprint is believed to bring good luck for those who stood upon it. The Laterite sculpture of Saint Mirabai in Ancestral Goa has been cited in the Limca Book of Records as the Longest Laterite Sculpture in India Apart from a glimpse into the myriad facets of Goan life.(Laterites are soil types rich in iron and aluminium, formed in hot and wet tropical areas)
For lunch, we were treated to authentic Goan delicacies.
A country tavern within the precincts of the village served us mouth-watering cuisine such as Goa's famous traditional bread Undo, Sorpotel (hot Goan Pork delicacy) which we adults washed down with the country liquor Feni made from cashew nuts.

Would You Dance to The Tunes of Great Goan Monsoon Festivals?

Bonderam festival in Divar
Bonderam festival in Divar
It was a new thrilling experience in Goa, I would suggest every Goa visitor to enjoy in Monsoon.
We left early in the morning for the island of Divar. It is located approximately upriver 10 km from Panaji (Panjim). The Island is connected to Old Goa on the southeast side, Ribandar, on the south-west side and Narve on the north side, all by ferry. A launch also connects Divar to the city of Panaji from further north-west, in the village of Vanxim. The Konkan Railway passes through the village and the nearest stop to the village is the train station at Carambolim.
The drive to the village was scenic, with paddy fields and wooded hills lacing the roadway, very typical of the Goan countryside. We had gone to Divar to attend the famous festival of Bonderam, which is celebrated on the third or fourth Saturday of August. There was a ceremonial start with a march.
Later it was a great fanfare and attended by thousands of tourists and locals. We saw great fight scenes.  The villagers on the Divar Island often indulged in some kind of fight over the matter of ownership of their lands. The day culminated in the evening with incredible music and dances.

The Other Goan Festivals during rains

Sao Joao festival in Goa
Sao Joao festival in Goa

  • Chikhalkala: it involves games played in the slush  caused by heavy rains
  • Sao Joao: Celebrated with great fervor all over Goa on 24th of June in honor of St John the Baptist. The amazing experience of this festival is when well owners of Goa throw bottles of local alcoholic drink Feni into their wells and young men jump into wells to retrieve the bottles, which needless to say, are promptly emptied! Ha..ha..ha...
  • Konsachem Fest:  Celebrated near Margao
  • Touxeachem Fest: When newly married go to the church, offer cucumber and carry them back home to eat

Visit The virgin, Undiscovered Beaches of Goa In Rains

Goa beaches during monsoon
Goa beaches during monsoon
Top 6 beaches I love during Monsoon

The 105 km long coastline of the state has over 30 beautiful beaches.
Although few, are beaches that have not yet been discovered by the tourists and are stunningly beautiful, calm and peaceful. Just a handful of tourists and mostly locals visit these beaches. I have carefully selected the following beaches by visiting each and every one of them over a period of many years of my visit to Goa and especially during monsoon.
Most of these beaches lie in the south of Goa with a few good ones in the north. Some of the best beaches to make it to my list are
In North Goa
Vaiguinim Beach
In South Goa.
Kakolem Beach
Betul Beach
Cabo de Rama Beach
Cola Beach and Butterfly Beach
At these beaches there are no hawkers to harass tourists into buying stuff that they don't really want or will ever need. Nor are there any Indian half drunk tourists to gawk at western women sunbathing. The only disadvantage if any is that these beaches are a little far off from the usual famous beaches that tourists visit. Also, it's sometimes hard to find places to dine at at these unspoiled beaches of Goa. So when visiting, always remember to carry some food and water on your own

Where to Eat During Monsoon

Restaurants that aren't located on the beach usually stay open during the monsoon. Lloyd’s in Calangute (after the chapel, on the Candolim Main Road) is the place to be on a stormy monsoon evening. It serves delicious Goan home cooking and is open through the night. The atmosphere is friendly and entertaining, with many people passing by and dropping in. You can also try Britto's on Baga Beach for seafood.

Nightlife During the Monsoon Season

Goa's renowned nightlife is minimal during the monsoon, however the infamous Mambo's and Tito's at Baga Beach both rock all year round. The bar at The Park Hotel in Calangute is hip bar with regular DJs. Live musicians can be heard at the more laid back Cavala, near Baga Beach. This place caters to an older crowd. There's live retro and rock on Friday nights and retro, jive, and salsa on Saturday nights from 8 p.m. Check out the listings on What's Up Goa to see what's on in Goa and when. You may also want to try your luck at one of Goa's top casinos.

Where To Stay in Monsoon?

We Loved Our Stay Here
Our objective was to stay away from typical tourist resorts in Goa, and be with nature and in a jungle setting. The distance from resort to our selected places of interest was no problem as we all had our cars. So, we picked up
The Wildernest Nature Resort
The Wildernest Nature Resort
The Wildernest Nature Resort
The resort is around 140+kms from GOA on an uphill. It was nestled in the Swapnagandha valley, amidst thick expanse of forest tracts at 800mtrs above sea level, overlooking the  Vazra falls and the entire panoramic view of Goa. The resort offers enticing monsoon season specials, and it’s an incredible place to stay right amongst nature. Cottages start from 5,500 rupees ($100) per night for a double, including all meals, tax, and activities such as nature walks,Eco tours and trekking. This was almost 50% less than peak season rates. You'll also find very enticing monsoon rates at most luxury hotels in Goa

photo of Kiran Travelfury
C12, New Natraj, Pestom Sagar, Road #6, Chembur
Mumbai , Maharastra , 400089 India
Travel, India Travel, Ace guide to India, Travel consultant

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Are India Travel Agents Worthless? Check Here

Incredible India
Incredible India

How to plan my India Tour? Too beautiful? Too diverse?
How to plan my trip?
India bristles with a mind stirring mix of incredible landscapes and cultural traditions. Your journey through this amazing and intoxicating country will blaze in your memory for a long time after you have left a place
A tour planning is essential for a discerning  tourist like you. You may be just a first time traveler or a seasoned wanderer,  an explorer or a nature lover to India. Though you can plan and select based on your travel objective, many either do not have time and patience or want to avoid hassles in planning and trusting out of thousands of travel agents.

Hand Picked

Here are our handpicked and reviewed online India travel operators who will take care of all your travel needs for India. However, please check reviews yourself once again. 

1. MakeMyTrip 

Corporate office – Gurgaon, Haryana | Establishment – 2000 |
Business – Online Travel Company has revolutionized the travel industry in India. Founded in the year 2000.  Makemytrip is an online travel company offering domestic and international travel services which comprises of flight, train and bus tickets, holiday packages, hotel reservations and other products and services.

2. Tomas Cook

Corporate office – London, UK | Establishment – 1881|
Business – Tourism
Thomas Cook (India) Ltd is one of the leading travel companies in India operating in more than 98 cities and the worldwide offices is located in Sri Lanka and Mauritius. Services offered by Thomas Cook includes MICE, Corporate Travel Management, Foreign Exchange, Insurance, Leisure Travel and E-Business. Thomas Cook has been awarded the Most Trusted Brand in travel services by The Brand Trust Report™ and has won many prestigious awards in the travel category.

3. Cox & Kings

Corporate office – Mumbai, Maharashtra | Establishment – 1758 |
Business – Travel Company
Found in year 1758 Cox & Kings is the leader of the travel industry in India. Company’s Indian headquarter is located in Mumbai. Cox & Kings has 12 offices in India and global offices are located in UK, Japan, USA, Russia, Dubai and Singapore. The services offered by the company are Outbound Tourism, Destination Management, Domestic Holidays, Trade Fairs, Business Travel etc.

4. Yatra

Corporate office – Gurgaon, Haryana | Establishment 2006
Business – Online Travel company is India’s premium tour operator offering all travel related services and products. It is one of the best travel companies in India providing all the information, availability, pricing details and bookings of domestic and international hotels, packages, train, flights and car rentals across 336 cities.


Corporate office – Mumbai, Maharashtra | Establishment – 1949 |
Business – Tourism | Website
India’s leading online travel company SOTC is Kuoni India’s travel brand. SOTC is among the top 10 travel companies in India having expertise in Escorted Tours, and Domestic Holidays, Free Individual Travel, Corporate tours, Trade Fair Tours and Customized Holidays.

6. Goibibo

Corporate office – Gurgaon, Haryana | Establishment – 2009 |
Business – Travel & hospitality a MIG Group company established in 2009 has overpowered its competitors to emerge as one among the best travel companies in India. The one-stop online travel company features various travel services and products which allows the user to explore the largest range of destinations and hotels with the world’s leading online travel company.

7. Cleartrip

Corporate office – Mumbai, Maharashtra | Establishment – 2006 |
Business – Online Travel Company | Website is an online travel company headquartered in Mumbai. Cleartrip provides online travel services which includes and international holiday packages, reservations, rail tickets, flight tickets and bus tickets. Cleartrip is rated one of the reliable online travel companies in India.

8. Travelguru

Corporate office – Mumbai, Maharashtra | Establishment – 2005 |
Business – Online travel agency
Since 2005 has been facilitating its customers to make wise decisions and smart travel plans by giving users access to various deals on airlines and hotels worldwide. Travelguru offers the facility to book and explore air tickets, hotel rooms, cruises and vacation packages more conveniently and securely.

9. Akbar Travels Of India Pvt Ltd.

Corporate office – Mumbai, Maharashtra | Establishment – 2007 |
Business –Akbar Travels has become one of the reputed travel agency in India in terms of the largest number of IATA approved Branches. It has a online portal which assists its users to book domestic and international flight and rail tickets and hotels at low costs.

10. India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (ITDC)

For ITDC Asoka group of Hotels
It is a public sector company founded in the year 1966. The company has 76 cores in equities.
Travel Packages: Travel across the country and book hotels at cheap rates. Book Ashoka Hotels.
Head Office: New Delhi, India

11. Balaji Tours and Travels

Travel Packages: Inbound tours and outbound tours both. Discover Himachal, Goa, Mount Abu, Northeast, Thailand, Maldives, Singapore etc
Head Office: New Delhi, India

12. Heena International Tours & Travel

The company was founded in year 1987 by Jitendra Shah.
Travel Packages: India Tours and World Tours. USA, Dubai, South Africa, Europe, Far East etc. In India Goa, Himachal, North East
Head Office: Mumbai and Chennai

13. The Great India Tour Company Pvt Ltd

The company was founded in 1976.
Travel Packages: Kerala Holidays, Hills and backwaters, Seven days Himachal, Weekend Getaways, Pilgrimage tour
Head Office: Chennai, India

14. ITS Travels and Tours

The company was founded 6 years ago.
Travel Packages: Srinagar Air Packages, Goa, Dubai Air Package, Himalayan Package, Manali, Kerala and Hill Station packages.
Head Office: New Delhi, India

15. Discovery Travels & Tours

Travel Packages: Tours for International and Domestic both. Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Middle East and South America.
Head Office: Ahmadabad, Gujarat.

16. Expedia

Expedia is an online travelling company now operating in India. It is an US based company and very popular in India also.
Travel Packages: Travel packages for Goa, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, Maldives etc
Head Office: New Delhi, India

17. Skyspeed Tours and Travels Company

Travel Packages: You could book tour for domestic packages only.
Head Office: Mumbai, Maharashtra
Website: Not Given

18. Emirates Tours and Travels

Travel Packages: Across six major destinations including India. Some packages are Luxury Holidays in North India, East India, West and South India
Head Office: Chennai, India

19. Dreamz Wheels Tours & Travels Pvt Ltd

10, Ground Floor, Bhandari Automobiles, DR Sarat Banerjee Road, Sarat Bose Road (Near Deshopriya Park), Kolkata - 700029
Call: +(91)-33-66343904

20. Sita World Travel I Ltd

8/1 A, Sir William Jones Sarani, Midleton Row, Kolkata - 700071
Call: +(91)-(33)-400626

Reviews of Indian Travel Agents

photo of Kiran Travelfury
C12, New Natraj, Pestom Sagar, Road #6, Chembur
Mumbai , Maharastra , 400089 India
Travel, India Travel, Ace guide to India, Travel consultant

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