Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:
Yes! Yes and Yes!
Before I begin the answer from a travel enthusiast perspective, just some insights to share about Asia and India in general, might give you some perspective pertaining to the question you have asked.
Travel Facts – Asia & India
Some interesting facts about the travel Industry in India & Asia in general.
Over the next few years, Asia — mostly China and India — and Latin America will drive world economic growth, contributing up to 75% of global GDP from 2010 to 2012.
The 2012 outlook for Asian outbound travel is positive. 6 to 8% increase in this year’s expected 14% growth.
In particular India appears to be set for strong growth with 43% planning more outbound travel next year. IPK’s travel confidence of India is at a high 113 points.
Incredible India – Travel Galore
I began exploring India truly about five years ago and I’d say despite traveling to a lot of parts, I hae hardly touched 1/4th of the country so far. An endeavor that makes me want to go on and on till I have set foot across each and every state at least. One of the reasons why I enjoy doing so is cause of it’s geographical and cultural diversity with of course significant historic and mythical relevance to various places. Adds to it’s mystery in its own way. To such an extent that every different place that you travel to within India is a completely different landscape and a cultural expose of sorts. There is a great sense of encompassing travel experience that yuo get when you explore various parts of India. From the beautiful mountains in the Himalayas to the amazing temples and the beaches down south. From the most diverse religious and cultural places across the four corners of the country to the much modern and very well built cities in various metropolis. From the multiple Indian languages spoken in different parts to the very familiar tour guides or audio guidebooks that you’ll get at various heritage sites to help understanding places in the country much better for yourself. India has it all. If you are the type who loves adventure and mountain climbing then you can explore various destinations across the Himalayas which span across the Indo-Nepal-Tibet and Pakistan border you’d love every bit of it. There are practically every kind of geographically diverse landscapes in Leh and Ladakh. If you are interested in culture and meeting new people of ethnic and traditional origin then a trip to Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and some remote villages in Harayana, Punjab and some parts of South India would do the trick. Archaeology fans might really enjoy The Ruins of Hampi, various parts of Gujarat and some across India-Pakistan border where Indus valley civilization ruins exist and of course Madhya Pradesh for it’s beautiful terrain and charismatic caves depicting ancient lore of Kama Sutra and love in Khajurao. Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore are the metropolis you might want to go to, best serve as connectivity to various different parts and mostly flights to any place in the world or other part of the country are available here. South India give s you a lot of insight on the Hindu cwith it’s various temples and also a great escapade towards nature in God’s own country Kerala will enchant you with it’s beauty. The North East has it’s own charm with various landscapic mountains, monasteries, Buddhist culture and an eye awakening spirituality towards nature and this planet. Then there are the beautiful islands of Lakshwadeep and Andaman and Nicobar which are a place in itself. Secluded from most parts of India they lie within the terrains of water a world within their own these places must not be missed. And last but not least, there’s no place like Goa! If you come to India, Goa is a must visit for….
Of course there are pitfalls when it comes to hygiene, beggars, lots of crowd, the problem of communication at times in certain parts. The potential risk of being duped by locals or overpriced at various destinations are certainly there… But if you are aware and well educated about your destination with some planning and research, yo can get along well with any of those situations. Plus that in itself is an experience for you so to speak. Overall, India tourism is trying to create infrastructure and overall awareness for its tourists and travelers. You’ll find a lot of information on this website and also if you carry the India Travel Guide book, which most tourists and travelers from the world carry with themselves you should be good to go. In most places local authorities, police are quite helpful, sometimes you may have issues with the bureaucratic ways of the cops and local authorities, but if all your paper work is good then mostly there are no worries.
So overall I’d say, India is certainly a good travel destination. One thing I’d recommend to watch before you start your journey to India is an interesting six part documentary series by BBC and Micheal Wood called ‘The Story of India.’
Lastly here are some of the places that I’ve visited and shortlisting them for you to show you what I really mean when I wrote this answer. For the detailed answer refer to this: What are the must-see travel destinations in India? (qr.ae) Would give you quite an answer to your question and my explanation to why India is a good travel destination
P.S If nothing else, there’s the Taj Mahal to come to India for!
What are the Places to travel to?
Trek towards Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Saheb (Glacier may not be always there…)
Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand HImalayas
Paragliding in the Solang Valley
Spiritual Quest at the Dalai Lama Temple in Dharamsala/McLeodganj
Shey Palace in Ladakh
Shanti Stupa in Ladakh
Leh Palace in Leh, Ladakh
Nubra Valley in Ladakh
Disket Temple in Nubra Valley in Ladakh
Ride a Bullet to Khardung La in Ladakh *Highest Motorable road 18380 ft
Alchi Gompa – Oldest Monastery in Leh, Ladakh
Indus River Valley in Ladakh
Pangong Tso Lake across Ladakh and China Border
The serene Om beach in Gokarna
Rameshwaram Temple and it’s 1000 Pillars
Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort. Kochi
Boat to Allepy from Kottayam in Kerala
Buland Darwaaza of Fatehpur Sikri
Hawa Mahal in Jaipur
Jain temples of Jaisalmer
The Vintage car museum in Udaipur
Matri Mandir in Auroville
Pondicherry & Auoroville Beach
The Garden City – Bangalore
Visit the Ruins of Hampi – A must visit if you are a fan of archaeology and historic ancient culture.
Stone Chariot in the Vittala Temple
Hazara Rama Temple – Carvings from 10th-13th century of Rama
Lakshmi Narsimha statue
Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure… Ancient air conditioned palace
Monolithic Bull, carved out of one Stone
Mythical Lions called Yalli inside Krishna Temple
View the Marina Beach Sunrise in Chennai
Conquer the Mahuli fort during rains in Maharashtra – The Sahayadaris
Charminar in Hyderabad
The Buddha Statue in Lumbini Park in Hyderabad on the Husain Sagar lake
Be part of the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai
Lenayadri Hills in Maharashtra – One of the Ashtavinayaka Temples
Ajanta Ellora Caves in Aurangabad
Badrinath Temple in Uttarakhand
Mana Village and Vasudhara Waterfalls – The last indian Village on Indo Tibet Border
Haridwar for it’s cultural and spiritual expose.
Lakshman Jhoola and the Parmarth Temple in Rishikesh
These have been places that were on my itinerary from the time I’d been researching on Ancient Indian Technology, for my BarCampMumbai talk. Certainly fascinating, this & Hampi… Hampi was last on the agenda, but this place equally fascinating, for it’s wonderful and truly magnificient architecture that it shares with us from the ancient times of the 11th Century… Remarkable in it’s own stature, this has to be a place that is not so pompous and done to death by a lot of tourists, at the same time the places have a significant relevance in Karnataka tourism. Many tourism buses take tours and get people from all over the world to visit this fascinating place of art, history and significant culture. Why has it been so fascinating? Well, this relatively long but enchanting blog post that I’d like to write now, will probably tell you all about it.
Beautiful Belur, the quaint little town set elegantly on the banks of river Yagachi, amidst lush surroundings was earlier known as Velapuri. It was chosen as the capital of the Hoysalas, after the ascking and destruction of their capital at Dwarasamudra (Halebeedu) by delhi Sultans. The Hoysalas ruled the reigon between 44th and 13th Centuries. They were great patrons of art and architecture and built a number of magnificient shrines during their 300 years reign. The temples and monuments at Belur are amazing with their sculptures and architecture. Belur was revered for its magnificent shrines and came to be known as Modern Vaikuntha. Heaven on earth.
The Hoysala temples are characterised by Typical star shaped ground plan and are usually set on a platform. They are compact structures. Ornately careved shrines indicate the musica and dance were highly regarded by the Hoysalas and used to express religious fervor. The temples of Belur are carved out of soap stone.
Hoysala dynasty is believed to be named after the words ‘hoy Sala’ meaning ‘Strike Sala’, which were called out to Sala, the legendary head of this dynasty. When he was combating a tiger single handedly. Sala killed the tiger and this act of bravery was immortalised in the royal emblem of the dynasty. The Hoysalas ruled the Deccan and parts of Tamil Nadu between the 11th and 13th centuries. They had their origins in the hill tribes of the Western Ghats converted to Jainism in 10th century.
How To Reach:
By Rail: Hassan around 37 kms. And then take a local bus.
By Bus : It’s easy to take a bus to Hassan from Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore. From there take a local bus.
Chenna Keshava Temple:
The magnificent shrine dedicated to Lord Vijayanarayana, one of the twenty four incarnations of Vishnu was built to commemorate the Victory of Hoysalas over Cholas in the great battle of Talakkad. Some believe that it was constructed when Vishnyvardhana adopted Vaishnavism under the influence of the great guru Sri Ramanujacharya.
The construction of the temple commenced in 1116 A.D. at the instance of King Vishnuvardhana, his son and later on his grandson actually completed the construction of the temple. As per historical records, around 103 years to complete this beautifully sculpted temple complex. It is definitely the masterpiece in Hoysala Architecture.
This is another important shrine in the temple complex, it is towards the south west of Keshava temple and is adorned with an elegant Viman a, said to be resembling the vimana atop the Keshava temple, which was dismantled in 1879
Godess Andal Shrine
The sacred shrine in the temple complex is associated with poet saint Alwar. Its outer walls are also decoreated with rows of large image. Other smaller shrines in the complex are of Ramanujacharya, Krishna, Narsimha, Anjaneya, Ramchandra.
This unique 42 feet high pillar carved out of a single rock and stands on its own weight. The paved compound of the temple complex has a pavilion near the bathing tank. Sculptures of Vishnuvardhan and Krishnaraja Wodeyar can be seen here. Other statues of note are Garudagambha and Garuda, the celestial vehicle of Lord Vishnu.
Halebid, the ancient acpital of Hoysala’s was founded in the early 11th century and was known as Dwarasamudra, after a huge artificial lake of the same name, dating back to the 19th century. The flourishing capital city had a small fortress with a magnificent palace. It was fortified with the lake of Enormous boulders and a moat that was connected with the lake. Halebid attained glorious height during the reign of Ballala – II. the grandson of Vishnuvardhan. The Hoysala Empire extended from river Kaveri in the west to Krishna in the east and was enriched by the fertile deltas of the rivers. It’s prosperity attracted the forces of Delhi Sultanate, who invaded and annexed the town in 1311. Malik Kafur, is said to have taken away camel-loads of jewellery, gold and silver from here. In 1326, it was again attacked by Mohammad bin Tughlak.
After repeated attacks and the killing of king Ballala II, in the battle against the Sultan of Madura in 1342, the Hoysala were forced to relinquish their beautiful capital. The town was then nostalgically referred to as ‘Halebeid’ or old capital. It was never reoccupied again and the Hoysalas shifted capital to Belur. The Hoysala built over 150 exquisite temples in southern Karnataka, but the temples here are considered to be the most outstanding. The most important temple is Hoysalesvara and Kedareshvara, which are considered to be masterpieces of traditional Indian art forms. The figure carving at these temples are larger than any other temples nearby.
So, I’m already on the road… After having a really nice bowl of curd rice at a restaurant on the outskirts of Pune on a moonlit night yesterday, I slept like a log, despite the loud snores of an uncle  a few seats away from me…:P
My first morning on #SriniOnTour… somewhere near Hubli, I realise I’m already in Karnataka.. Yes that’s where I was born… So as I wake up to the sunrise on a misty cold morning near the warehouse of VRL I can feel the brrr in my bones. There is no breeze and yet the cold is hitting my face, pleasantly at the moment though… That’s when the thought hits me.. The feeling starts to sink in…
Yes, Srini you are already on the road. On the road for your epic journey. A journey that a couple of months ago seemed just like any other vacation you had taken…
Now is the time when it hits me, no, this is definitely different from other journeys that you have taken. Why? For so many reasons that I cannot even count on my finger, one being this blogumentary as a whole. I have slowly started realizing that this dream of mine is out there…The opportunity is mine for taking. For one, this is the first blog post I’ve written in a bus
The bus guy, tells me I should reach Bangalore by 3.00 PM, I’m crossing my fingers, going by Bangalore traffic, although it shouldn’t be a problem especially since it’s Christmas and a Saturday!!
Hope you all enjoy your weekend and have a Merry Christmas! Do let me know how you like the pictures, all through my mobile though, haven’t inaugurated my DSLR yet Hope you like them still…
All my bags are packed
I’m ready to go…
Standing here outside your door…
Finally, the day is here… The day that I have been so meticulously planning for! I mean, come to think of it, I have never been so organized and well planned on any of the trips… Yet, #SriniOnTour has always been about those amazingly impromptu trips that have been taken… So ya, this time around, there has been a little planning into this one. And why wouldn’t I?? Afterall, it’s going to be something different… than the ones that I’ve already done before. Before I begin, I’d like to give my thanks to @debLPMAG from Lonely Planet, India, @travelwell_in and the entire team for helping me with the nice badge you see up there and of course featuring my blog on their website. http://travelwell.in Thanks guys… We are onto something
Live Blogging this trip is something I’m really geared up for. Taking great photos… Blogging, tweeting, twitpicing, facebooking and all that… A blogumentary, my first… Let’s see where this is headed… Quite a vacation I must say.. (P.S Those who didn’t know, this is my vacation Refer: Workaholic, Travel Junkie
So what does one pack for such an extensive trip?? After two hours of carefully making sure everything on my checklist has been stuffed into that goozy backpack of mine, I’m hoping that I have the strength and energy to carry it around for 15 days! I mean, that looks small, but it is certainly not a mean feat to carry it around on this hop-skip and jump kind of an adventure!!!
Having said that, here’s how my departure looks like. I’m going to take a bus to Bangalore… Leave Mumbai (Chembur) at 6:00 PM and hoping that I reach Bangalore by 2 PM latest by 3 PM. Hoping to catch up with the #FordFigoTour man… @dhempe if he’s free and most importantly if we get time…
I’ve calculated it as much… I think if all goes smoothly, I should reach well within time to get my train to Chennai. But If my bus doesn’t reach Bangalore before 4.25 PM on Christmas, then I’m doomed for sure…:P Well, I have to catch the Chennai Express/Mail that leaves Bangalore by that time… You never know, what might come my way… that’s the best part about these kind of adventure trips… Just go with the flow and hope all falls into place…
So what are the bets like?? Will I reach Bangalore on Time(16.25 PM on 25th Dec) to catch my Chennai train?? If not, what options do I have?
Bangalore… the garden city as most of them say… Yes this is the city which I will always cherish and love to be part of.. Afterall it’s my hometown… Lot’s of memories from childhood and certainly a lot of my friends, relatives and many more people I know live here. But besides all that, I love the city for it’s eternally beautiful weather. The perennial pleasant weather is something that enchants me always. So this time around, I came down in November… Diwali to celelbrate… but just as least expected… rain came down on me… certainly a sign I did not expected… GnR – November Rain was certainly not a possibility in India… But yea, it happened. Not bad I must say, loved the beautiful weather though. Helped me travel easy and comfortably too…
Since, it was going to be a short tour I had to make sure that I go to the important places and really get nice shots. One of my favorites was always the ‘Lalbagh’ what beauty in the botanical garden…Sigh… Miss that place now. Great shots that I got and majorly I’m a big fan of the amazing ‘Glass House’… Then a few shots from the Vidhan Sabha, the Bangalore palace and last but not least, a few from the Court House, our very own Lal Quila of Bengalooru..
It was certainly a trip to remember, I should say. Hope you have enjoyed reading the blog and the pics. I loved the two dogs fighting for food, I got in at the right moment Tell me which one is your favorite. What say folks?
They say this place is also known as the ‘Scotland of India’ Well it, certainly looks like! I’m all geared up. After a very good quarter at work, meeting almost all my targets, before I start off with the next quarter, I thought to myself, why not take this short trip and club it with the Intel App Lab that I would be attending in Bangalore! I hope to thoroughly enjoy this awesome hill station with some beauty that awaits me on this awesome short trip.
They say there are times when you got to let yourself go. Coorg is one such place where you will indeed experience those moments of letting yourself go and be one with yourself and nature. There are definitely many places which will rejuvenate your stressful self and help you back afresh with all the tasks. Am I ready to go there or what? One of my another on the spur of the moment trips, here is what I think I’d be doing. Hope to get to these places provided there isn’t too much of rain (heavy) considering the rain has caught up already with this part of the country.
Raja’s Seat in the town of Madikeri is where the kings would sit and watch the sunsets with their consorts. This is considered one of South India’s most scenic locations. The view from Raja’s Seat is breathtaking as you gaze upon the green valleys and towering hills. This is the perfect place to sit with a glass of wine and watch cars curving up the road to Mangalore that lies in the valley like a flowing ribbon. The government has set up a garden all around Raja’s Seat. This is the ideal place to go for a morning stroll.
The Omkareshwara Temple was established in 1820 by Lingarajendra II with Mumammadan style architecture, which featured a center dome and four corners with turrets. According to legend, the king put a pious Brahmin to death unjustly and built the temple to appease the Brahmin’s spirit. The Omkareshwara Temple is like a Muslim dargah and has a Linga near the door of the entrance. The history of the temple was inscribed by the king on a plate made of copper that is hanging at the frame of the door to the temple entrance.
Mercara Fort can be found on elevated ground atop Madikeri. The fort was originally made out of mud and rebuilt by Tipu Sultan with stone, only to be wrested back by the Coorg King in 1791.There are two mortar elephants, built life-size to catch the visitors’ eyes as they enter the fort. Inside the fort, the British took out the temple of Virabhadra in 1855 and replaced it with the gothic-style Anglican Church, which has since been converted to a museum.
The Madikeri Palace is inside of the Madikeri Fort and is home to the office of the Deputy Commissioner. The Palace was established by Lingarajendra Wodeyar II in 1814. The two-story structure was renovated by the British two times and a clock tower and portico for the commissioner’s car was added in 1933.
Coorg’s most popular waterfall is a 8 km drive from the main town.
Every year, at a predetermined time, water gushes out from a small pond at Talacauvery, the birthplace of river Cauvery. Talacauvery is located 44 km from Madikeri, on the slopes of Brahmagiri Hill. Besides being a pilgrimage center, Talacauvery is known for its natural beauty.
Images & Tips – Courtesy: http://www.coorg.com