Monthly Archives: November 2012

Holidaying Abroad: Cheap Deals for Families in Lanzarote

With Christmas around the corner and many families having to tighten their purse strings to afford niceties, it’s no wonder many are opting to give up their annual family holiday in the sun. Even though times are tight, there are plenty of options for fun in the sun at a reasonable price so why not treat your brood once in a while?

With excellent deals on Lanzarote holidays cropping up on the net all the time, this beautiful Canary Island is a perfect hotspot for holidaymakers of all ages.  Opting for all inclusive family holiday deals will keep your costs low, and include everything you could need for a vacation to remember. The initial outlay is usually more for all inclusive deals, but overall, you will make massive savings on the holiday basics such as food, drink, snacks and activities.

If you prefer to do things your own way, without the constraints of all inclusive and package deals, stay on the island in self catering accommodation, helping you to keep a watchful eye on your spends. Shop at the local supermarkets and grab some great deals on food that you can prepare yourselves, and in the process, save on daily restaurant outings.

Head to Costa Tequise for a reasonably priced excursion, including the only waterpark on the island – Aquapark. Keeping the kids busy all day and giving you the chance to top up your tan, Aquapark will keep the brood out of trouble and away from boredom.

If you’re travelling as a family with young ones, Puerto Del Carmen may not be the best choice due to the number of late night revellers potentially affecting your good nights’ sleep, but Playa Blanca is a little more toned down and ideal for couples and families looking for a calm, but fun, sojourn.

Check out some of the amazing family deals you can snap up and start saving your extra pounds for a fantastic budget break in Lanzarote.

What are the best places (other than famous ones) to visit in India?

Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:

Trekking in the Himalayas

I’m an avid travel bloger and blog about my escapades regularlyhttp://www.srinistuff.com. I always enjoy trekking in the Himalayas,  An experience in the Himalayas itself is something that classifies as one of the best activities to do in India… Of course there are local terrains, local treks, mostly Shayadaris since I live in Maharashtra… But Himalayas is something else… A complete transition into a world that takes you to the best state of mind let alone the whole physical and spiritual experience engulfing you out there.

So far I’ve been on the J&K side of Himalayas, Leh & Ladakh part… Uttarakhand/Uttaranchal (Valley of Flowers) and Been to certain territories of North Eastern Himalayas with the Sandakhpu trek and a bit of Nepal with the journey towards various villages across the India Nepal border. It’s very tough to choose between all of these three trips. So I’d give list down a couple of treks that I did which fall among the best activities I’ve done in India. with a few images to give you an idea of how amazing the himalayas are…

Trekking in the Valley of Flowers (Uttarakhand) (14000 feet above sea level)

Starting from Haridwar, Rishikesh, we began doing some local sight seeing and exploring various aspects of Uttarakhand slowly moving towards desolation and complete bliss amongst nature. Uttarakhand in itself is a beautiful place with spirtuality integrates well with nature and the amazing landscapes and terrains find themselves accompanied with various significant mythological / religious / spiritual references from the vast history of India… All the 5 confluences while on your way towards Joshimath are something to look forward too… The beautiful Ganga river flowing all the way on your side accompanying you along on the road side. But the best experience begins when you reach Ghagaria ghat… after a tiring trek of 13kms which is more like 30 kms cause of it’s steep level of climb… From there on an early morning trek to the Valley of flowers where you could see the Himalayas at a glance is what you should enjoy the best… Some pictures of how the trek looks like…

The best time to go here would be between June and September. Ideally flowers bloom during this period and as a matter of fact, every week you’ll get to see a whole range of flowerbeds across the valley. When we went, we had a possibility of viewing a new flower that had bloomed in the valley and we were also told that in a span of 5 years, first time there was a glacier that appeared enroute the Valley of flowers.

Now that is something that sounded really amazing as this would have been the first time I’d ever get to see glacier, though technically not snow, yet something worth experiencing.

Trekking across Villages in Nepal (Sandakphu Trek) 14200 feet above sea level..

This experience was simply stunning only because of the most amazing  landscapes that we experienced on our way to the top, but also the amazing Nepalese culture that we got to encounter during our trip. One of the most interesting thing that amazes you on this trip is that constantly you are crossing borders between India and Nepal, but barring a few check posts, there’s hardly anything to distinguish whether you are in Nepal or India… Unless you have a trekking guide along with you. Which we had and a good one too. The whole aspect of the beautiful terrains  and landscapes, no connectivity and total realm of realism sinking in to each pore of your skin is something that gives you a joy that you realize is something that we people take for granted. We went in November, hence the cold weather was something to enjoy as well… Some of these glimpses will give you a better idea.

Overall this trek was a mix of both nature trail, wild mountains, and most importantly a different culture altogether. However, there are many infamous terrains in the Himalayas that I’m planning to visit, and get more experiences as these. My list of places in Himalayas would be:

1 Everest Base Camp
2. Gomukh Gangotri trek
3. Kangra Valley trek
4. Parvati Valley
6. Trekking extensively in Ladakh, Spiti
7. Dalhousie trek
8. Saur Kund and Saur Pass trek.
9. Kailash Manasarovar
10. Har Ki  Dhun.

As an avid traveler, travel blogger and trekker, I encourage a lot of people to try out experiences in Himalayas, for I can’t tell you how it is, you have to experience it yourself to know better. 🙂 Hope this answer helps people travel to India and experience Himalayas themselves…

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What is the historical significance of Hampi and which places do I visit there?

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

I’m in love with this city and this is going to be my pilgrimage destination forever! I have a love for it’s ancient archaeological structures and it’s association with the mythological references of Ramayana. That apart, there is this beautiful aura about the place that mesmerizes you to the core. That is why I make it a point that I visit this place every year. Also, my great grandfather from my mother’s side was a great Late Shri. N.S Rajpurohit, was a famous historian who has a lot to do with the excavations of certain parts which marked significance to Hampi / the Kingdom of Vijayanagara.

Pampa River

Hampi is called Hampi cause of the river Pampa now the Tungabhadra. Pampa was an ancient name for Hampi. According to legends, Pampa the daughter of Bramha did penance to please Lord Shiva. Impressed with her devotion Shiva married her and took the name Pampapati. On the banks of the river (Tungabhadra) there are numerous shrines of Shiva being worshipped.

History of Hampi

History of Hampi dates back to the chalcolithic and the Neolithic era… Could be proven from the ceramic and handmade pottery found from those ages. Also from the 2nd and the 3rd century there are rock edicts of the asokan empire found here…

Rulers of Hampi

Pre-Vijayanagara era it was ruled by many rulers primarily Chalukyas of Badami, Hoysalas, Yadavas and others. But the main founders of this empire are primarily two kings Harihara and Bukka raya. Also known as Hakka and Bukka who were disciples of Swami Vidyaranya…

Around the 14th century when Mughals made inroads to South India, they captured most part of Hampi and the Kampili chiefs Hakka and Bukka were prisoners… But soon they overthrew the Mughal empire after they were assigned to govern under Mughal Sultanates and retook Hampi… They then gave the name Vijayanagara (Land of Victory) also dedicated to Swami Vidyaranya so it’s also referred to as Vidyanagara.

Over the years Vijayanagara (hampi.in) (popularly called as Hampi) developed a unique style of architecture, came to be known as Vijayanagara (hampi.in) Architecture

That was mostly during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya under whose rule this empire saw its peak! He was abig fan of architecture and also was open to various styles of architecture Indian and Islamic… He also was a good ruler and had diplomatic relationship with the Spanish across the east coast and hence Hampi was quite open to trade with Europeans and usually gems and stones were traded for cotton and spices which were abundantly available here.

However after his death and during the reign of Ramraya Hampi faced a gruesome destruction. His son in law Ramraya was captured and killed during the battle of Rakkasatangdi after which the empire was left undefended when the Mughals ransacked this place, destroyed many buildings and later it was left abandoned for a long while for it to become a jungle and ruins remained. It was later on because of the curiosity of many western archaeologists and authors to great books namely Robert Sewell and A.H Longhurst that this place gained significant interest across the world. UNESCO’s World Heritage Site was conferred to Hampi in 1986.

Mythological Association of Hampi

There’s also a mythological association with Hampi. Locals and folklore has it that this area was the mythical Kishkinda Vanara kingdom from the Ramayana and this is where Rama and Lakshmana stayed before they headed off to Lanka in search of Sita. There are a couple of mountains and places which are believed to be the places where Sugreeva, Vali, Hanuman and Ram stayed back then…

Hazara Rama Temple

Which brings me to the Hazara Rama Temple. Hazara Rama… 1000 Rama? Cause of the 1000 inscriptions / sculptures of Rama on the walls of the temple? Well no… actually Hazara Rama comes from the word Hazarumu which in telegu means Entrance Hall This place has one of the most beautiful and intricate carvings lot of them describing what happened back in Ramayana and some of them depicting various Vishnu avatar. It was also a private temple of the royal family.

Stone Chariot in The Vittala Temple

The stone chariot is one of the most amazing structures in Hampi… If you get around clicking photographs of this monument, you wouldn’t just stop… its so beautiful. It’s made of big granite blocks and even though we may think it’s a monolithic structure it actually isn’t. The big granite blocks get covered cause of the intricate carvings on the chariot.

Musical Pillars of Hampi

Another very interesting thing in the vittala temple are the musical pillars in the photo shown above… Check out this video… to see what I mean

Well now if you go there this may not be possible as it has been restricted as there were incidents of damage to the structure in the past.

King’s Balance

Just outside the vittala temple, you’ll find the Kings Balance… I belive this custom still exists and it existed back then of course. The kings were kept in the balance which was put on this structure. Weighed against gold and jewellery which was then given away to the priests and the needy.

Lotus Mahal Complex

The lotus mahal and the elephant stables are one of the most intact pieces of architecture in Hampi… This temple was in a Zenana enclosure was believed to be a recreational area for the women folks of the royal family. There are hooks to tie up curtains and you’ll also find these terracotta pipes which are on the ceiling of this structure. They were filled with water from the well besides it and they acted as ventiatory ducts which provided cooling due to the breeze. Ancient air conditioning so to speak. The elephant stables are symmetrical set of stables with central one them being the biggest. These are unlike any other pieces of architecture as they are a mixture of Indo Islamic architecture.

Octagonal Bath

Octagonal public baths are something you’ll find. These are probably one of the oldest bathing structures which are still properly maintained… They weren’t just made out there. The stepped stones were assembled block by block after being made somewhere else. Very beautiful sight to your eyes.

Underground Shiva Temple

The underground shiva temple is in shambles… The most you can do is go and visit it from the outside. It’s completely dilapatated inside a cave filled with stench and loads of black water. There were a 1000 lingas inside, but since I’vent gone I wouldn’t know… After a point it becomes very eerie. The queens bath is a small structure, much like a swimming pool of the ancient times… or a humongous jacquzi if I may say…

Queens Bath

This is the first ruined structure you would see when you enter into the Royal center from the Kamalapura (hampi.in)-Hampi main road. For some mysterious reasons this was called as the queen’s bath. But in all probability this was a royal pleasure complex for the king and his wives. It’s a bit an assuming plane rectangular building from out side. But when you get inside, the story is different.The whole building is made with a veranda around facing a big open pond at the middle. Projecting into the pond are many balconies. An aqueduct terminates in the pond.The balconies are decorated with tiny windows and supported by lotus bud tipped brackets. The whole pool is open to the sky. This brick lined pool is now empty. But it’s believed once fragrant flowers and perfumed water filled this bathing pool. At one end of the veranda you can see a flight of steps giving access to the pool. The domical roof of veranda is a spectacle itself.

The Krishna Temple

The Krishna temple is one temple that was commissioned by Krishnadeva Raya and the architecture is significantly his. Interesting and very beautifu carvings such as that of the Mythical lion called the Yallis and the beautiful Gopis can be found here…You can also see carvings of 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu and as soon as you enter the temple you’ll find a tortoise there… Like in temples of Halebeid and Belur.

Lakshmi Narsimha Statue

The Lakshmi Narsimha statue is probably one of the most damaged yet magnificient and huge creations. It’s the largest statue of Hampi. Narsimha is seen sitting on a coil of giant seven headed Snake. Shesa. It originally had Goddess Lakshmi sitting in his lap. However when the mughals raided Hampi they hugely damaged it thinking there would be gold and jewellery hidden inside the statue.

Badava Linga Temple

Right next to it is badava linga temple. A monolithic Shiva Linga believed to be carved by a poor woman (badava) in order to praise shiva

Sasvekalu Ganesha & Kadalekalu Ganesha

The Ganeshas of Hampi are well revered. Sasvekalu and Kadalekalu Ganesha. They are named because of the resemblance of their tummies to Mustard Seed and Bengal gram respectively. There’s a story behind the Sasivekalu ganesha. Once Ganpati was very hungry and he ate so much that his tummy burst.. He immediately found a snake nearby and tied it across his tummy and that is what is depicted in the sculpture. Both are monolithic statues.

Monolithic Bull

At he foothills of the great Matanga parvat / Matanga hill near the Hampi bazaar you’ll find this Monolithic bull, much similar to the one in a temple in Halebeidu. You trek for an hour or so you get on top of the Matanga hill from which you can get the most spectacular view of the city and it’s beautiful just before Sunset! A must visit.

Coracle Ride to Other side of the River

One of the best experiences is a ride in the coracle / boat to the Anjaneya hills The place revered to be the birth place of Hanumana. There’s also a cave where Sugreeva hid before he fought Vali to get him killed.

 Virupaksha Temple

Last but not least the most famous Virupaksha temple of Hampi which also is the only functioning temple in Hampi since the 14th Century which also makes it the only functioning temple in India. Among all temples this is the only one which the Mughals never attacked. Why? Cause of the insignia or the emblem of a pig on the door of the temple. During the Hampi Festival, this is quite the place to go, in fact during Diwali as well this place has a lot of festivities and is totally decorated. One thing to look out for is the Local Elephant inside the temple… He’s always there been there for many years now…

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Fabulous Florida

 Everyone has their own idea of a great holiday. For some, nothing beats the idea of jetting off to sun-drenched Spanish shores for a week of sea, sangria and sandcastles. Others prefer to take to the sea and enjoy a fortnight’s cruise, perhaps around the beautiful Mediterranean, or maybe to experience the magnificent Northern Lights on a fjords itinerary. For others, holding out for late deals is what it’s all about – whether that be cheap holidays to Tunisia, a budget break to the Algarve or a relaxing trip to a Greek island.

If you really want to push the boat out next year, why not consider Florida – the Sunshine State?

Considered the ultimate family holiday, and a rare treat for adults too, vacations in Florida are non-stop fun. Enjoy the company of Mickey Mouse and friends as you explore the magical world of Disneyland, and watch as your kids get acquainted with fairy princesses or discover the towers and turrets of fairytale castles. Why not take in a show or two at Sea World, and gaze open-mouthed as killer whales, dolphins and sea lions enthral the crowds with fantastic tricks and stunts. You can also test your breakfast by hopping on a hair-raising rollercoaster and screeching your way around loop-the-loops.

If you fancy a break away from the theme parks, there’s plenty more on the to-do list. Visit the Kennedy Space Station and learn all about the incredible feats of engineering that took man to the moon. Or head to the beach and enjoy the chance to kick back and relax while the kids build sandcastles, or play in the pristine shores. You could also take a trip along the stunning Florida Keys, or take a guided tour of the mysterious Everglades. This huge swampy expanse is home to all sorts of creatures great and small, from leggy wading birds to alligators – and is bound to keep everyone entertained… and on their toes.

Whatever you fancy, Florida is a simply fabulous destination that really must be experienced to be believed.