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We’ve all been there. Sat at work on a spectacularly boring day, gazing out the window and dreaming about moving somewhere less resolutely meh. But it’s one thing dreaming about moving to London, or Paris, or Tokyo, and quite another turning up there, looking at the square feet of space your meager savings will buy and realizing that you haven’t thought this through at all.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. While there are plenty of countries it will likely bankrupt you to move to, there are plenty more where even the most middle-of-the-road foreign income will see you living like a king. Here are 10 countries, gleaned from the annual Cost of Living Indexes published by Numbeo and Expatistan, where it’s cheapest to live in 2017:

10. Mexico

America’s southern neighbor is mainly famous in the north for sombreros, Tex-Mex, and drug violence. But as we revealed in a recent article, there’s so, so much more to the ancient home of the Aztecs than that. Aside from the long history and vibrant culture of Mexico City, there’s some 60-odd indigenous groups speaking a mix of languages, crumbling Aztec ruins, unique traditions from each Mexican state, and coastline galore. Oh, and did we mention it’s very, very cheap?

Numbeo estimates the cost of living in Mexico to be nearly 60% lower than living in the US. Outside the capital, you can rent a 3 bedroom apartment near the center of a city for an average of $480 a month. You can get a meal for two in a decent restaurant for twenty bucks. A transport ticket costs under 40 cents. Someone, get us to Tijuana.

Of course, this is all assuming you’re moving abroad with a US salary or pension. In terms of local purchasing power, Mexico sits somewhere in the middle of the list, meaning a local on the average wage can buy maybe half the stuff a local on the average wage in the US can.

9. Tunisia

It would probably be stretching the limits of acceptable writing to describe Tunisia as the jewel in North Africa’s crown, but we’re gonna do it anyway. The tiny desert nation is home to 10 million, all crammed into a handful of ancient cities that are staggeringly beautiful. This is the place where all the Tatooine scenes were filmed for the first Star Wars, which should give you some idea of how visually-arresting the country is. Then there’s the crazy affordability. The cost of renting a 1 bed apartment in a bustling city center? $160 per month.

On the other hand, Tunisia suffers a downside Mexico doesn’t: it borders Libya. Since the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, Libya has been a haven for ISIS, al-Qaeda, and about a bazillion other crazy rebel groups, all itching to kill Western tourists. In 2015, an armed gunman trained in Libya attacked a five star hotel in Sousse, killing 38, including 30 Brits; making it the deadliest day for UK citizens since the 7/7 London bombings a decade earlier. As a result, the UK Foreign Office now advises against all but essential travel to Tunisia. The US government likewise advises extreme caution when visiting.

8. Moldova

Hands up: who can point to Moldova on a map? Eastern Europe’s least-visited country is a tiny sliver of land sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, and locked in a perpetual war with its pro-Russian population. We don’t mean that metaphorically. Moldova’s eastern flank has been occupied since the early 1990s by an insurgent army who set up their own, autonomous republic known as Transnistria. Although the conflict is “frozen” (no one has been killed in ages), it is still a potential flash point in Europe’s poorest nation.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind Soviet architecture, cold winters, and the possibility of Putin annexing your living room, Moldova has a lot going for it. Aside from being crazy cheap – the cost of living is 62% lower than in the US – it’s one of the biggest wine producing nations on Earth, with over 200 km of tunnels filled with wine buried beneath one monastery. Plus, Chisinau is getting a reputation as one of Europe’s party capitals. Double plus, you get to say you’ve lived in Moldova. How many of your friends can say that? None.

7. Nepal

It’s the country where Everest lives. That’s all you really need to know about Nepal, a fascinating mountain nation that has been wowing travelers ever since they first set eyes on it. Sagarmatha, as the locals call it, is just the biggest of the world class peaks dotting this frozen, high-altitude land, each sheerer and scarier than the last. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also ancient Buddhist temples, mysterious mountain villages, and wild elephants you can ethically ride and oh our God yes, that’s actually a real thing. Shut up and take our money!

Speaking of the $$$, Nepal’s actually kind of an odd one. Numbeo ranks it as a hair more expensive than Mexico, but Expatistan ranks Kathmandu as cheaper than any city in Moldova. So we’re adding it here just to be on the safe side.

However, before you leap on that plane, we should warn you that things aren’t all peachy. In 2015, Kathmandu suffered a horrifying earthquake that killed 10,000 and nearly leveled the city. The damage costs were equivalent to 50% of Nepal’s GDP, and reconstruction is still barely underway. Although locals would doubtless appreciate you adding your tourist dollars to the local economy, it’s perhaps still a bit soon to think about moving permanently.

6. Syria

Yeah. Syria.

We’re not exaggerating when we say Syria was once one of the most beautiful places on Earth. If you don’t believe us, check out these pictures. It was a land of mountains and winding rivers and valleys and ancient castles and cities that have been standing since the dawn of time. As the Syrian Tourist Board is currently at pains to point out, a stretch of coast about 120 miles long that has miraculously avoided the fighting remains wonderful. And it’s about 63% cheaper than living in the US, too.

Of course, even the relatively safe coastline isn’t somewhere you should be heading anytime soon. Since 2011, Syria has been caught up in the deadliest civil war of the century, with an estimated 250,000 being killed and around 4 million being left homeless. ISIS, al-Qaeda and other groups are fighting Kurdish paramilitaries, Assad’s regime forces, and about 100 other rebel factions as Russian jets scream overhead, dropping bombs. It ain’t a safe place. But even a war as awful as this can’t last forever. Perhaps in another decade or so outsiders will be able to go back in and witness the beauty of the Middle East’s most tragic country.

5. Azerbaijan

You didn’t expect a wealthy petro-state to be on this list, did you? Situated on the shores of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is an oil rich collision of east and west, a place where gigantic glass towers dominate the money-soaked capital, and emerging dictator Ilham Aliyev has made a hobby out of jailing democracy activists. About the size of South Carolina (or Scotland), the ‘Land of Fire’ is both a hyper-expensive Dubai of the Caucasus Region, and a place where you can rent an apartment for less than $150 per month.

So, what’s with this great contrast? Well, you know how New York and California seem to suck in all the money and energy, and London is like Britain’s NYC plus Britain’s Silicon Valley? Baku is like London plus every single other city that isn’t in terminal decline. The rest of the country is basically a rural world of farming sheep and kicking back and eking out an existence on the average wage of $260 a month, an amount that makes $150 for an apartment suddenly look like daylight robbery. Still, at least you get to live in a country that has a place called ‘fire mountain’ that really is a mountain that’s literally on fire.

4. Georgia

If you want all the excitement of living in the Caucasus region, but for some inexplicable reason don’t dig the idea of residing within driving distance of a flaming fire mountain, you could always opt for Georgia. The Christian flipside to Azerbaijan’s Muslim culture, the two neighbors are historic allies, largely due to a mutual dislike of nearby Armenia. The big difference comes with their neighbors to the north. While Azerbaijan and Russia have a cold yet cordial relationship, Georgia got invaded by Putin in 2008.

Since then, the tiny South Ossetia region has been under de-facto Russian control, in a situation kinda like that of Moldova and Transnistria. Only Georgia has the additional headache of another area like that. The unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia declared independence years ago, with Moscow guaranteeing its territorial integrity; meaning Tbilisi actually has control of far less of its 69,000 square kilometer territory than most similarly-sized nations.

On the plus side, Georgia is perfect if you like untouched wilderness, craggy peaks, and little mountain villages lost to time. And if you like your beer to cost 70 cents, which is really the important thing.

3. Pakistan

If you want a (potentially short) life of non-stop excitement, you could do worse than moving to Pakistan. India’s long-term rival, Pakistan is home to Karachi, the world’s most violent megacity, an unrecognized republic controlled by insurgents known as Balochistan, deadly terror groups, armed kidnappers, and the occasional mega-earthquake. It’s also a nuclear state that frequently tries to start wars with another nuclear state (India).

In fact, Pakistan is so fundamentally wild that its government recently issued a decree that all foreigners must stay within a single city unless they hire a security detail and inform the government of their travel plans, in case they wind up with a severe case of death. With advice like that, hearing that an apartment can go for as little as $77 per month likely comes as cold comfort.

Still, if you go happen to go out there, at least you’ll be in one of the prettiest, most historic countries on Earth. Aside from the mountains, there are forts built by the Mughals, old colonial relics from the British days, and some of the grandest Islamic monuments ever built.

2. Ukraine

According to Numbeo, Ukraine is home to the cheapest McDonald’s combo meal in the whole of Europe. You can get a Big Mac, fries and a drink for under $2.50. We’re not gonna say this is a good reason for you to pack your bags and head to Ukraine, but it’s certainly a reason… another being that life in general in Ukraine is 65% cheaper than life in America.

Not that this is much use to the locals. The average salary across the whole nation is under $200 a month. As a result, Ukraine only just misses the bottom 10 countries for local purchasing power, ranking under Zimbabwe, Moldova and El Salvador, and only just higher than Nigeria and Nepal. An average Ukrainian salary will buy you 26% of what an average American salary will buy you. Then there’s the not-quite-frozen conflict in the country’s east, which has killed about 10,000 in nearly three years (once again, as with so many on this list, Russia is involved).

On the other hand, if you can stomach the screaming inequality, unbelievably cold winters and territorial crisis, then Ukraine is almost breathtakingly beautiful. There’s its snatch of haunting mountains in the West, its two great, ancient cities of Lviv and Kiev, and, finally, its ridiculously good-looking citizens. If you need us, we’ll be booking our flights to Kiev.

1. India

This is it, possibly the cheapest country on planet Earth. India has mid-range restaurants where two people can eat world-beating food for under $10. It has taxis that will wait for you for an hour and charge less than a dollar. It has apartments for slightly over $100 per month. In the southern city of Thiruvananthapuram, utilities can cost only twenty bucks a month. With an income of under $1,000 a month, you can live like a freakin’ king.

It’s also, y’know, famously one of the most picturesque nations on Earth. There’s the Taj Mahal, the ancient city of Varanasi, the Himalayas, Raj-era hill towns, creaking old railway lines, the lush, tropical south, and the venerated, epic, eternal Ganges. You’ve got Bollywood, curry, tigers, ancient history, epic gorges, friendly people and a floating temple that is literally made of gold. Plus, Octopussy was set here. Man, we must’ve seen that movie… twice.

Of course, it ain’t all fun and highly-choregraphed dance numbers. There’s shocking inequality, extreme poverty, deadly diseases, sporadic ethnic violence, and the eternal possibility of nuclear war with Pakistan. But is it worth it? You check these pictures and decide for yourself. (The correct answer is ‘yes’.)

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How many countries are there in the world? It seems like a simple question, but the answer is far more complicated than you might think. The UN, for example, lists 193 member states, but this completely excludes not only Taiwan and Kosovo, but also Vatican City. Other means of measurement are just as difficult. Were you to count only places that issue their own passports, you’d have to say Scotland and Wales are not countries, but the Knights of Malta (who own literally no territory) are. Does that make sense to you?

As a result, no one can say for certainty what really defines a country. Which means there are plenty of places out there that claim to be nation states, but are completely unrecognized by the world. Some of these secret countries, like Kosovo, you might have heard of. Others are so obscure that even their immediate neighbors might not know of them. Looking for somewhere completely unique for your next vacation? Try one of these hidden nations…

10. Somaliland

In 1991, Somalia collapsed into a brutal, ongoing, civil war. As the country’s institutions crumbled and all hell broke loose, the northwestern part of the nation hastily declared independence. Somaliland set up its own army, its own flag, its own government and its own currency. 26 years later, they’re still going strong. Yet, to date, not a single state on planet Earth has recognized the wannabe nation.

This is all sorts of surprising. While Somalia is an ungovernable basket case where half a million have died over the last quarter century, Somaliland is semi-democratic, stable, and, most-impressively of all, peaceful. The war doesn’t matter here. Terrorist atrocities are rare. Visiting Westerners can walk around on their own, even at night, and expect no more hassle than they would get in most other African Horn countries. Travel guide publisher Lonely Planet even has a section advising hopeful visitors.

That’s not to say everything is cool in Somaliland. Youth unemployment is estimated at a staggering 75%, and terrorists from Somalia proper keep trying to attack the territory. Still, finding this oasis of peace in Somalia is almost as amazing as finding a safe part of Iraq. Speaking of which…

9. Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraq has been a byword for unmitigated chaos for well over a decade now, as a bloody civil war gave way to ISIS rampaging across the desert. But there’s another part of Iraq that rarely makes headlines. Iraqi Kurdistan has functioned as an autonomous state within Iraq since 1970. Following the collapse of Baghdad’s control and the rise of ISIS, it has essentially become an independent country that keeps adding to its territory all the time.

This is a huge improvement on the situation under Saddam. In the 1980s, Iraqi aircraft dropped sarin on Iraqi Kurdistan, killing up to 5,000 civilians. Things got so bad after Saddam’s fall that the Kurds nearly declared unilateral independence, possibly starting a war. Then ISIS exploded onto the scene. As the Iraqi army crumbled, the Kurds took up weapons. Today, they’re the most effective army fighting ISIS in the whole of the Middle East.

Despite this historical horror, Iraqi Kurdistan (away from the frontlines) is stable. How stable? So stable that the unrecognized state has its own tourism industry which actively welcomes Westerners. Throw in a national anthem, passports, an army, borders, and an elected government, and you start wondering why we don’t just call it a country already.

8. Transnistria

Have you ever wanted to experience life in Eastern Europe at the height of the Cold War? Book yourself a flight to Transnistria right now. A tiny sliver of land along the eastern edge of Moldova (a nation few enough people have heard of already), Transnistria declared independence from Chisinau in 1990. Since then, it has existed in a time-trapped bubble of USSR nostalgia, with its own currency, passports, democratic government and security forces, but recognized by absolutely no-one.

To most visitors, it can feel as if the ‘country’ hasn’t changed at all since the day it declared independence. Hammer and sickle flags still flutter over statues of Lenin, Soviet architecture is still the national style, and the state police are still modelled on the KGB. Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the few countries to give Transnistria even limited recognition is Russia, which stations 1,000 troops there, just in case Moldova sends in the tanks to reclaim the land.

Unlike some on our list, visiting Transnistria is a breeze. Just catch a flight to Moldova and take a bus over the border. There aren’t even immigration checkpoints, which is more than you can say for flying to Texas.

7. Western Sahara (SADR)

One of the most recognized hidden countries, the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR, AKA Western Sahara) has support most nations on this list could only dream of. It is a member of the African Union. India, Mexico, South Africa and Vietnam have all backed its claims for independence. The EU gives huge export tax breaks to Western Saharan goods. So how come we’re calling it a ‘hidden country’?

We can answer that with a single word: Morocco.

When Morocco was granted independence in 1957, it laid claim to the Western Sahara region. At the time, the area was under Spanish colonial control, but when Spain pulled out, they didn’t grant the territory to the indigenous Saharawi people. Instead, they let Morocco and Mauritania duke it out for ownership. Morocco won and has claimed Western Sahara as part of its territory ever since.

Despite this, Western Saharan independence is a movement that’s popular across the globe. Although only 500,000 people live there, their cause has more adherents than perhaps any other except Tibet.

6. Abkhazia 

You’re gonna be hearing a lot about war in this article. This section on Abkhazia is no exception. A medieval kingdom that was united with Georgia in 1008 AD, Abkhazia elected to return to its 11th century boundaries after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As you can imagine, this didn’t sit well with the government of Georgia, who sent tanks in to keep their new nation together. What followed was a campaign of ethnic cleansing that killed thousands and left Abkhazia beyond Tibilsi’s control.

Independence wasn’t formally declared until 1999, but Abkhazia has essentially been separate since 1993. It has its own military, government, national bank, passports, boundaries, and the recognition of four UN member states. However, that independence has come at a price: total reliance on Russia. Since ’99, Abkhazia has been pulled ever-closer into Moscow’s orbit, essentially becoming a Russian exclave. Citizens can acquire Russian passports, crossing the border is a piece of cake, and jobs are reliant on Russian industry.

Interestingly, Abkhazia isn’t the only hidden country within Georgia’s tiny 70,000 square kilometers (slightly smaller than Scotland). The Rhode Island-sized enclave of South Ossetia in the north also claims independence.

5. Seborga

Italy is already home to two internationally-recognized micronations: the 61 square kilometer city state of San Marino, and Vatican City, a nation so small it could fit inside the Pentagon five times over. According to some legal experts, there might be another. Seborga is a tiny hilltop town that covers an area the size of Central Park in NYC. It has only 400 residents, yet maintains consuls in several nations. Oh, and it may just be one of the oldest nation states in Europe.

Seborga was founded in 954 AD as a principality in the colossal Holy Roman Empire. When the Empire collapsed in 1806, nearly all of the 300 or so states that comprised it were dismantled or absorbed into bigger neighbors. Same deal with Seborga, which became part of Sardinia, and later a unified Italy. Or did it? When the Italian Unification treaty was signed in the 19th century, Seborga’s name was accidentally left off the document. Legally, it may therefore still be an independent state (albeit accidentally).

No one has ever actually brought this claim to court, so the matter is unsettled. Nonetheless, Seborga’s residents continue to claim independence from Italy.

4. Puntland

Remember Somaliland way, way back at #10? The unrecognized nation wasn’t the only one to break away from Somalia when everything went south. The small, ocean-facing region of Puntland declared independence, too (‘small’ here is relative. At 212,500 square kilometers, Puntland is nearly the size of the UK). Only, while Somaliland hummed towards something like stability, Puntland took a completely different direction. One involving land wars, terrorism, and an economy mostly based on piracy.

While Puntland resisted the total descent into chaos Somalia experienced, its venture into nationhood wasn’t exactly a success. A disinterested central government allowed warlords to flourish on the coast, on the basis that they were better off attacking foreign ships than Puntland officials. ISIS have since taken root in the autonomous state, meaning it’s about as safe to visit as sticking your private parts into a whirring fan.

Interestingly, Puntland has only declared independence so long as the Somali civil war continues. If peace is finally declared, the autonomous region wants to join back together with the larger Somali state.

3. Freetown Christiania

Freetown Christiania is unique on our list. Not only is it a self-proclaimed nation, it is the only one half-recognized by the state it seceded from. A sprawling anarchist commune set up in some abandoned army barracks in Copenhagen, Christiania declared independence in 1971. For a while, Denmark gamely tried to evict the squatters. Then, at some point in the late ’70s, the government essentially said ‘ah, nuts to this,’ and declared the area a ‘social experiment’ beyond government control. The rest, as they say, is dope-addled history.

Christiania today is very different from the rest of Denmark. There are no cars allowed, no guns, and no private property. Buying and selling hash is completely legal (it’s illegal in Denmark), and the main street is today home to the biggest pot market on the planet. About the only concession to normal life is a ‘no hard drugs’ rule, brought in after a heroin epidemic nearly devastated the commune.

So why does the Danish government put up with all this? Part of it may be to do with tourist dollars. Despite wanting to cut ties with Denmark, Christiania is today Copenhagen’s 2nd biggest tourist attraction, bringing the city over a million visitors annually.

2. Nagorno-Karabakh Republic

In April 2016, fighting flared up again on the edges of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in Azerbaijan. Artillery fire, helicopter gunships and snipers killed around 50 people in four days, as a long-dormant war threatened to reignite. Although Moscow managed to secure a ceasefire, the sudden escalation showed a gloomy truth about this unrecognized micronation. If things stay as they are, the region will never, ever be at peace.

Nagorno-Karabakh was an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed. Nagorno-Karabakh had long ago voted to secede, so the region’s leaders took their chance. Azerbaijan disagreed and sent in the tanks. The shocking violence that followed saw 30,000 killed, a campaign of ethnic cleaning, and hundreds of thousands turned into refugees. By the time the dust settled, Baku was no longer in control of the region, and a new republic of barely over 4,000 square kilometers had been born.

Today, Nagorno-Karabakh is home to around 150,000, all crammed into a tiny area of inhospitable mountain not much bigger than Cornwall. Not a single other nation recognizes the republic, not even Armenia.

1. Sovereign Military Order of Malta

And so we come to the Knights of Malta. The Knights are unlike any other hidden nation, for a number of reasons. The first is that they’re actually not that unrecognized. About 100 countries have diplomatic relations with them, only a fraction less than recognize Kosovo (and about 80 more than currently recognize Taiwan). The second is that they don’t have any territory to call their own. After being kicked out of Malta by Napoleon in 1798, the Knights have simply rented an apartment block and a Villa in Rome.

Despite lacking a homeland, the Knights have never lost their official recognition as an independent country. They have their own passports, operate under their own laws, and claim over 13,500 citizens.

The only person they’re really answerable to is the Pope, who recently flexed his muscles for the first time in decades by demanding the resignation of the Knights’ leader over condom distribution charity work (it’s a long story). The reason for this deference is that the Knights are a Catholic order who, back when they genuinely held territory, swore eternal obedience to God’s representative on Earth. Today, the ‘country’ functions as little more than a vessel for Catholic charity work, albeit one with as much recognition as any number of genuine states.

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In recent years people have become much more afraid of flying in airplanes than they ever have before. The events of 9/11 shook many people’s faith in the safety of air travel, and in more recent years people have been increasingly concerned about turbulence, bad weather and even pilot error. The spate of planes that […]

The post 10 Interesting Facts About Commercial Airlines appeared first on Toptenz.net.

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Travelers’ tastes have much evolved during the last decades. If half a century ago, going on holiday meant lying on a beach or relaxing by the pool. there are nowadays different types of vacations. As the contemporary globetrotters tend to explore the world more thoroughly, local authorities responded promptly, suggesting them pre-established itineraries they can […]

The post The 10 Most Scenic Drives in Europe appeared first on WondersList.

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Your age should never stop you from enjoying new experiences and making amazing new memories. If you’ve already retired, but still haven’t been able to visit all your dream destinations, it isn’t too late! Retirement is the time to spoil yourself a bit, doing things that you have long wanted to but never got the time for. This is the ideal time to create a bucket list of fun things you want to do, and get started with them. India is full of great travel destinations that you deserve to experience at least once in your lifetime. And for ladies, these top destinations in India are safer than ever before. Here is a list of several destinations than can create unforgettably amazing memories, and deserve a place on any senior lady’s bucket list:

1. Gulmarg And Srinagar, Kashmir

Explore the intense natural landscape of Gulmarg to relive Bollywood's golden years

Explore the intense natural landscape of Gulmarg to relive Bollywood’s golden years

It is for good reason that the Kashmir Valley was called Paradise on Earth by the Mughals. Seniors would be especially aware of its intense natural beauty, since the valley landscape was a firm favourite for many classic Hindi movies from the golden years of Bollywood. So get ready for a ride on a shikara on the Dal Lake in Srinagar, or a skiing trip to the snow-capped slopes of Gulmarg. While many tourists are worried about the political turmoil in Kashmir, you can rest assured that Srinagar and its surrounding areas are extremely safe for tourists, including women and families.

Connectivity: Air travel is the best way to reach Kashmir Valley. Srinagar Airport is well connected with the rest of the country.
Places of Interest: Dal Lake, Mughal Gardens, Gulmarg ski resorts
Ideal Time to Visit: March-October for summer flowers and scenery, and December-March if you want to see the snow and enjoy some skiing

Interested in booking a package to Kashmir? Check Out!
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2. Munnar And Aleppey, Kerala

Experiment with different types of tea in Munnar, Kerala

Experiment with different types of tea in Munnar, Kerala

Kerala is one of the safest tourist destinations for women, and it has a wide variety of travel destinations, ranging from rich cultural hotspots to incredibly beautiful green scenic spots. A trip to Munnar, a pleasant hill station famous for its tea gardens, is a must when you visit God’s Own Country. And what better way to relax than on a leisurely cruise down tranquil backwaters on a traditional houseboat. A houseboat cruise in Alleppey is a truly special experience, with no equal anywhere in India.

Connectivity: Cochin International Airport is the closest for both Munnar and Alleppey; well-connected by road to the city; major express trains also connect Cochin to the rest of India, through two major railway stations at Ernakulam.
Places of Interest: Tea gardens, waterfalls and Eravikulam National Park in Munnar; houseboat tours, beaches and temples in Aleppey.
Ideal Time to Visit: The winters in Kerala (December to February) are the best time to avoid the tropical heat and enjoy a very pleasant and mild climate.

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3. Udaipur And Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Get stunned by the Lake City, Udaipur. Explore palaces, forts and more!

Get stunned by the Lake City, Udaipur. Explore palaces, forts and more!

A holiday in the desert should definitely be on the bucket list of anybody interested in travelling. And where better to take up such an adventure that in the glorious royal environs of Rajasthan! Jaisalmer offers large expanses of golden dunes in the Thar Desert, where you can enjoy camel safaris and explore the massive fort ruins. Udaipur on the other hand is a refreshing retreat, situated among a maze of interconnected lakes. Walk amongst the great palaces, while looking out at the serene lake waters – a truly sublime experience. The locals here are incredibly friendly and accommodating, making Rajasthan a very safe tourist destination for women.

Connectivity: Both Jaisalmer and Udaipur have domestic airports with regular connecting flights; all cities are well-connected to the rest of India by rail and state/national highways.
Places of Interest: City Palace and Lake Pichola in Udaipur; Desert Camel Safari, Jaisalmer Fort and Jain Temples in Jaisalmer
Ideal Time to Visit: The winters (October-March) are the best time to visit the desert, as the temperatures tend to be much milder. The monsoons (July-September) are also great as the rains transform the arid desert landscape.

Interested in booking a package to Rajasthan? Check Out!
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4. Madurai/Kanyakumari/Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu

Meenakshi hindu temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, South India.

Meenakshi hindu temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, South India.

Tamil Nadu is a vibrant state with a history and culture that is thousands of years old. To truly understand the depth and breadth of Hinduism in India, a visit to the great temple cities of Tamil Nadu is essential. Madurai is the pre-eminent destination for this, as it’s a great spiritual city and popular pilgrimage destination. Kanyakumari and Rameswaram are also must visit destinations at the very tip of the Indian subcontinent, famed for their ancient temples and scenic beauty.

Connectivity: Madurai has its own airport which has regular connecting flights to Indian cities. Kanyakumari and Rameswaram are closer to Trivandrum Airport, and well connected by both road and rail to the rest of Tamil Nadu.
Places of Interest: Sri Meenakshi Temple (Madurai); Vivekananda Memorial Rock and beach (Kanyakumari); Ramanathaswamy Temple and Dhanushkodi Beach (Rameswaram).
Ideal Time to Visit: November to February is the ideal time to visit Tamil Nadu as the humidity and temperature levels are lower and the weather becomes quite cool and pleasant.

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5. Rishikesh and Haridwar, Uttarakhand

Shiva statue in the river Ganga in Rishikesh, India

Shiva statue in the river Ganga in Rishikesh, India

The higher altitude destinations in the Himalayas may be more suited for the younger crowd, but the Himalayan foothills in Uttarakhand are easily accessible and safe for senior ladies to visit. They offer the perfect mix of natural beauty and spirituality, with many renowned temples, ashrams and pilgrimage spots dotting the landscape. It is known as the Yoga Capital of the world. A visit to the shores of the wildly gushing Ganga in Rishikesh is an unforgettable experience. Haridwar is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage destinations, literally meaning the “Gateway to God”. Located on the banks of the sacred Ganga, it attracts millions of Hindu pilgrims every year.

Connectivity: Dehradun is the nearest airport to both Rishikesh and Haridwar; well-connected by road and rail to rest of North India, especially Delhi and UP.
Places of Interest: Triveni Ghat, Ram and Laxman Jhulas (Rishikesh); Ganga Arti, Har Ki Pauri and temples (in Haridwar)
Ideal Time to Visit: January-March and August October are ideal times to visit these places. June is the peak season for pilgrimage.

Interested in booking a package to Haridwar? Check Out!
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Remember to always keep your mobile phone charged and near you, and keep all emergency numbers at hand. Try to book accommodation and transportation well in advance so you can just let your hair down and have the time of your life!

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The more you explore, the more intrigued you become; such is the nation of India! With everything from time-worn forts and castles to scenic mountains, the country is adorned with splendid attractions. If that was not enough, India boasts of ancient stepwells, which by the way are unique to the country! You won’t find these stepwells anywhere else in the world. This makes it a favourite amongst many Bollywood and Hollywood directors, who visit these sites to capture unique shots for their films. Before we go any further, let’s first find out what exactly stepwells are.

Stepwells are man-made ponds where rainwater is stored to recharge the underground water level of many villages and towns nearby. Though most of these Indian stepwells are now out of order, some of them have still survived as they are living examples of Indian art and architecture. Here is a list of 7 stepwells, which are simply stunning and should be explored!

1.  Rani Ki Vav

This stepwell was built in the memory of Bhimdev I by his widowed Queen Udayamati. And hence, it is known as Rani ki Vav, which means 'Queen's Stepwell'.

This stepwell was built in the memory of Bhimdev I by his widowed Queen Udayamati. And hence, it is known as Rani ki Vav, which means ‘Queen’s Stepwell’.

Located in Patan, Gujarat, Rani Ki Vav is a 900 year old stepwell, dating back to the 11th century. It is the only stepwell, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was recognised as the ‘Cleanest Iconic Place’ in India by the Indian Sanitation Conference (INDOSAN), which was inaugurated by PM Modi. A walk down the stairs will make you feel like you are walking around an art gallery, as there are many sculptures based on Hindu and Jain mythology that have been engraved on the walls.

2. Modhera Sun Temple Kund

Interestingly, it has 108 shrines carved below each step!

Interestingly, it has 108 shrines carved below each step!

Modhera Sun Temple is an 11th century temple complex dedicated to the Vedic Sun God. It was built by King Bhima I of the Chalukyas of Gujarat. The whole temple’s complex is an open gallery that has several statues crafted on its walls, pillars, and ceiling. The temple is designed in such a way, that the first rays of the sun light up the image of Surya on the days of the equinox. During the summer solstice, the sun is directly over the temple at noon, so there is no shadow that is cast.

3. Adalaj Vav

There are nine planets carved out on the wall edge in order to protect the site from evil spirits.

There are nine planets carved out on the wall edge in order to protect the site from evil spirits.

Adalaj Vav is an excellent example of Hindu, Jain and Islamic architecture, but also has a tragic legen behind its construction. Adalaj is near Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar, which was once commanded by Veersinh. He wanted to construct a Vav (stepwell) for his people who were suffering from water shortage, but his work stopped as he died in a battle against the Sultan of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada. Mahmud Begada had his eyes on Veersinh’s widow Rudabai, who put a condition that she will only marry Begada if he finishes the work on the Vav that was started by her late husband. He agreed, and the construction of the Vav was completed. After which, Rudabai committed suicide by jumping in the Vav as she didn’t want to marry the sultan. And that is why Adalaj Vav is also known as Rudabai Vav.

If you are in Ahmedabad, or planning to visit the city, then you can visit all the above three stepwell sites, which are within a radius of 125 kilometres from Ahmedabad.

4. Chand Baori

Chand Baori is the deepest stepwell in the world!

Chand Baori is the deepest stepwell in the world!

Chand Baori is the most popular stepwell site, as it has been featured in two famous Hollywood movies – The Fall (2006) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). This stepwell is 1,200 years old, and was created by a Chauhan ruler (Chanda). It has 3,500 steps, and it’s almost impossible to enter and exit the stepwell from the same stairs! Chand Baori is just 100 kilometres from Jaipur, and for all travellers planning to visit Jaipur and Agra by road, this is a must-see attraction, which is just 2 kilometres from the Jaipur-Agra Highway.

5. Agrasen Ki Baoli

Agrasen ki baoli, believed to be haunted, is yet visited by a number of tourists each day.

Agrasen ki baoli, believed to be haunted, is yet visited by a number of tourists each day.

Nestled in Connaught Place, Delhi, Agrasen ki Baoli is believed to be the oldest stepwell site in India. It is assumed that Agrasen ki Baoli was built in the Mahabharata era, though the written facts suggest that it was redeveloped by the Agrawal kings or community in the early 14th century.
This stepwell has more than 108 steps, moving three stories down. The view of the skyscrapers of Connaught Place from here adds a fusion of history and the modern era, offering a unique experience to its visitors.

6. Hadi Rani Ka Kund

After the movie 'Paheli', starring Rani Mukherjee and Sharukh Khan, this historic site rose to fame.

After the movie ‘Paheli’, starring Rani Mukherjee and Sharukh Khan, this historic site rose to fame.

Driving 150 kilometres south from Jaipur, there is a stepwell named after Hadi Rani, wife of Ratan Chundawat of Todarraisingh. Ratan Chundawat was the commander of the Rajput Army, and if the stories are to be believed, he was hesitant to join the war against Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, as he had just got married and didn’t want to leave his wife. But, such an action could result in him being declared a traitor, so his newly wedded wife gave him a souvenir to boost his morale – she gifted her head to him! This incident filled Ratan Chundawat with rage, and he fought fearlessly and won the battle against the Mughal forces. Later, he killed himself as he couldn’t bear the pain of his wife’s sacrifice. And thus, Hadi Rani Ka Kund was built to remember this sacrifice.

7. Raniji Ki Baori

There are around 50 baoris or tanks in Bundi. And Queen Nathwati, has built 21 of those!

There are around 50 baoris or tanks in Bundi. And Queen Nathwati, has built 21 of those!

Last on the list of ancient Indian stepwells is Raniji Ki Baori or Queen Stepwell. Settled in the beautiful city of Bundi, Rajasthan, Raniji Ki Baori is a 300-year old, three-storey stepwell, famous for its well-arched gates and statues of elephants on all its pillars. Queen Nathavati of Bundi commissioned this stepwell, and this is where the stepwell got its name – Queen Stepwell. For travellers who are driving from Jaipur to Kota or Chittorgarh, Bundi is a perfect stop as you can visit this phenomenal architectural site and other fantastic tourist attractions like Garh Palace and Sukh Mahal.

Apart from these, there are many other stepwells, which are now protected by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India), and they are all worth visiting. Have you have visited any of the stepwell sites? If yes, then share your experience in the comments section below!

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About The Author

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Jatin Chhabra, a travel blogger from New Delhi exploring all directions in India to search mind-blowing attractions. From July’16 I have travelled more than 2000 km to capture pictures and stories of Ancient Indian Stepwells and further want to explore more of such sites.

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The Hindu calendar is the traditional lunar calendar followed by most Hindus in India. There are different variations to this calendar according to the many regions in the country. However they are all based on the lunar cycle as opposed to the Gregorian calendar (which is based on the solar cycle). One of the major reasons people in India refer to the Hindu almanac is to know the dates of different auspicious events and festivals.

Rudraksha, Hindu prayer beads, are often worn by sadhus and priests whom people consult to find auspicious dates on the calendar

Rudraksha, Hindu prayer beads, are often worn by sadhus and priests whom people consult to find auspicious dates on the calendar

Auspicious Time To Travel

Many Hindus consider certain times auspicious for travel, particularly if it is a business trip. Astrologers and experts calculate such times based on the tithi (date/day) and nakshatras (lunar constellations). Usually, days like Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are considered favourable for travel. Finding auspicious travel dates for a particular journey will depend on a person’s current location, horoscope, and other factors.

If you are looking for a favourable time to travel in India according to the Hindu calendar, it is a good idea to pick the time around festivals. This is because most Hindu festivals are observed on days that are considered auspicious. Moreover, you get to experience Indian culture in all its glory and be part of sublime celebrations.

Picking just a few Hindu festivals to consider planning a vacation around is tough job, but here are some major ones we recommend:

Holi

Foreigners across the globe are also familiar with the colourful festival of Holi, which is an indication of how popular this annual Indian festival is. As per the Hindu calendar, Holi is celebrated on the last full moon day of the month called Phalgun – according to the Gregorian calendar, this falls sometime in the month of March.

Holi is celebrated in different ways in different states, but playing with colours is a common sight

Holi is celebrated in different ways in different states, but playing with colours is a common sight

Holi not only marks the arrival of spring, but is also a time when people celebrate the triumph of good over evil by burning a bonfire called Holika. This is most often a community celebration. Celebrated all over the country, in different ways, Holi brings together people of different communities and even religions. Everyone gets together to douse each other in colours and share traditional sweets. This festival marks an excellent time to travel as per the Hindu calendar.

Lohri/Pongal/Makar Sankranti/Bihu

These festivals are held around 13-15 January, and are celebrated in different states by different names. But, they all have a common thread and it is that all of these are winter harvest events. This time is considered auspicious for new beginnings and travelling.

Makar Sankranti: Celebrated around the country and referred to by this name mostly in western India. Makar Sankranti marks the shift of the Sun to lengthening days. Kite-flying and distribution of til-gud (sesame-jaggery) sweets are common celebrations.

Lohri in Punjab: People celebrate by distributing sweets and engaging in community folk songs. Celebrations include dancing around a bonfire to pay tribute to the fire God.

Pongal in Tamil Nadu: Observed to thank nature for its bounty, Pongal is celebrated across South India with home decorations and traditional rice pudding preparations.

Sakkarai Pongal, made with sweetened rice, dal, and coconut, is considered an auspicious dish

Sakkarai Pongal, made with sweetened rice, dal, and coconut, is considered an auspicious dish

Bhogali Bihu in Assam: Paying respect to elders, praying to the fire God, and feasting is how people in Assam celebrate this annual festival.

Gudi Padwa/Ugadi/Cheti Chand

In 2017, the dates, 28-29th March will be celebrated as GudiPadwa, Ugadi, and Cheti Chand by different communities. This day marks an auspicious time to travel.

Gudi Padwa: Celebrated in Maharashtra to herald the arrival of spring, this festival involves home decoration with rangoli and gudi (a decked pole with a silver or brass vessel over it), buying new clothes, and exchanging sweets.

Most Maharashtrian households place an adorned stick like this one at the entrance

Most Maharashtrian households place an adorned stick like this one at the entrance

Ugadi: Ugadi is celebrated as New Year’s in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh with temple visits, special dishes, and clean, decorated houses.

Cheti Chand: Sindhis observe this occasion on the second day of the Hindu calendar’s Chaitra month, a day after Gudi Padwa and Ugadi. Elaborate feasts, visiting temples, and eating neem and jaggery are some ways in which Cheti Chand is celebrated.

Baisakhi

April is another favourable time to travel as India once again gears up to celebrate different festivals like Baisakhi (Punjab), Poila Baishakh (Bengal), Rongali Bihu (Assam), and Vishu (Kerala). Held around the same time (mid-April), these festivals mark the arrival of a new year for people in the east, north-east, south, and a few northern states.

A Bihu dance underway with traditional musical instruments

A Bihu dance underway with traditional musical instruments

The preparation of traditional sweet dishes at home, donning new clothes, paying respect to elders, song-and-dances, and community functions are a few common ways in which Hindus celebrate this time of the year. The celebrations often last a few days, and this time is considered quite auspicious for travelling and new beginnings.

Diwali

Diwali is one of the most awaited Hindu festivals in India, and is celebrated by people of various communities and even religions. Popularly known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, Diwali is characterised by glittering lights – as people’s houses are lit up with clay lamps, candles, electric lights, etc. It is believed that the light will guide Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth) into homes and bring prosperity and good luck to the residents.

Decorations like this one are common in homes and even offices during Diwali

Decorations like this one are common in homes and even offices during Diwali

When it comes to festivals, there is no scarcity in Hinduism, as there are auspicious days almost every week. People even plan making big purchases like a house or car around the time of festivals, as these days are believed to be the most favourable. So, if you are looking for an auspicious time to travel, festivals give you an excellent baseline.

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Thanks to pop music videos and Bollywood, Bhangra is not just a Punjabi folk dance anymore, but rather a vibrant dance form that is well-known worldwide. When the dhol (drum) and peppy music starts anywhere, there are few who can resist swaying to the rhythm. However, there is a lot more to Bhangra than energetic shouts and arm movements in the air. With the festival of Baisakhi around the corner (April 14), there are likely to be many occasions where you can join in the joyful celebrations.

Bhangra, associated with fertility rites, were earlier performed in the fields during harvest time

Bhangra, associated with fertility rites, were earlier performed in the fields during harvest time

If you wish to be part of the song-and-dance rituals, here’s our guide on a few basic dance steps that will allow you to seamlessly join the crowd. But first, let’s learn a little about the festival:

Baisakhi Celebrations

Baisakhi is an important festival for Sikhs, and is celebrated with gusto by Punjabis all over the world. Other than being celebrated as a harvest festival, this day is also observed as the foundation day of the Khalsa Panth (established in 1699) and as the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, who was the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs.

People in Punjab and members of the Sikh community all over the world usually celebrate this day by visiting Gurudwaras, where the holy book Guru Granth Sahib is given a symbolic bath, and is then read out. Religious songs, distribution of Prasad, and Langar (community lunch) are events that follow.

The Golden Temple in Amritsar draws a huge crowd every Baisakhi

The Golden Temple in Amritsar draws a huge crowd every Baisakhi

The day of Baisakhi also witnesses the vibrant Baisakhi procession, in which the holy book is taken out on a journey. Bhangra and Giddha dances to the accompaniment of traditional musical instruments are a mainstay of the processions, where everyone joins in to dance and celebrate.

About Bhangra

Characterised by an upbeat tempo and energetic body movements, Bhangra is one of the most popular folk dances of India. It’s performed at numerous occasions and celebrations, not only by Punjabis, but also by people of different religious and cultural backgrounds. Contemporary singers and dancers have lent this dance a funky image with Western-style music creating an interesting fusion. However, the origins of Bhangra go way back to the time before the Partition of India and Pakistan, when Sikh and Muslim men in agricultural districts used to perform this dance to celebrate the spring harvest.

Giddha incorporates bolis (verses) and depicts scenes of rural women’s activities

Giddha incorporates bolis (verses) and depicts scenes of rural women’s activities

Earlier, only men used to dance the Bhangra while women did the Giddha, which is danced by forming circles. Quite similar to Bhangra, Giddha is also performed to the beats of the dhol with clapping and upbeat swinging movements.

5 Bhangra Moves You Need To Know

A major reason behind the popularity of Bhangra is that almost anybody can perform it, and this encourages people to participate in the celebrations.

The traditional dhol is an essential part of any Bhangra performance

The traditional dhol is an essential part of any Bhangra performance

If you wish to showoff some Bhangra moves this Baisakhi, here are a few easy steps you can practice:

Punjab

A group of dancers performing Bhangra on stage with vigour and enthusiasm

A group of dancers performing Bhangra on stage with vigour and enthusiasm

One of the most common moves performed by all Bhangra dancers, the Punjab is pretty easy to follow. All you need to do is throw both hands up in the air, cross one leg in front of the other, and then perform two hops to return to the original position. A shrug of the shoulders as you hop and move your hands will add more vibrancy to the move. This is done alternately for each leg.

Chappu

Props like sticks are often used in traditional Bhangra moves

Props like sticks are often used in traditional Bhangra moves

This move makes the dancer seem like he/she is rowing a boat. A prop, usually a long stick, is used to do the Chappu. You start by bending your knees, and then as you hop on alternate legs, you move the stick, similar to a rowing motion.

Mahia

To perform the Mahia, you need to clap your hands, take one hand back in a rotating movement, and bring it back for a front clap again. As you use your right hand for the motion, step forward with your right leg and go back to the standing position as you clap. This is the Single Mahia. To perform the Double Mahia, you can use both hands alternatively.

Phull

For this move, bring both hands to the front of your body below the stomach and perform a rotation of your wrists. Simultaneously, lift your left leg towards the right in a half-knee bent position while balancing on your right leg. Next, hop on the left leg as you take both hands up towards the ceiling while keeping the right leg in the half-knee bent stance.

Lahria

Another commonly performed Bhangra move is the Lahria. To perform this, you keep one hand on the waist and move the other back and forth. Start with raising your right hand up, bringing it forward as you perform a little hop by putting your right leg forward, and then take the hand back beneath the waist. Some variations of this step include Double Lahria and Chutki Lahria.

Bhangra is widely recognised today, as the steps from this dance form are even being incorporated into workout routines to add some fun and an upbeat vibe to exercise. A quick and cost-effective way of picking up a few Bhangra moves that you can perform during Baisakhi celebrations is to get an instructional DVD of basic dance steps. There are plenty of online tutorials and classes available too. Bhangra is all about speed, balance, and coordinated movements. But above all, it is about celebrating and having fun. So it is alright if you miss a beat or two. Soaking in the festive experience of Baisakhi and moving your body to the drum beat is more important!

 

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Ladakh is a popular tourist destination for adventure seekers, and mountaineering enthusiasts in India. This rugged and beautiful landscape is a part of a long-running political battle, and is sometimes known for its armed conflict between India and its neighbouring countries. It is a land of mountain passes, or “las”. Ladakh means “many pass” in the local language (La = pass, Dakh = many).

Have you explored the beauty of Ladakh, yet?

Have you explored the beauty of Ladakh, yet?

Do you still think you know a lot about this beautiful land high up in the mountains? We take you to the lesser known facts that you need to know about Ladakh:

1. A Cold Desert With Wild Bactrian Camels

Find the famous 'double-humped' camels, also known as 'Ships of the Desert' in Ladakh

Find the famous ‘double-humped’ camels, also known as ‘Ships of the Desert’ in Ladakh

In an oasis in the cold desert of Ladakh, you will find the two humped Bactrian camels used since time immemorial of Central Asia. With over 2 million of these kinds of camels found globally, a majority of them are used as pets. Only one or two wild feral populations of camels are found. You can find these double-humped ‘Ships of the Desert’ in the Nubra Valley, located at Ladakh.

2. A Land For Mountain Biking

Bike down the highest motor-able road in Ladakh, a biker's paradise

Bike down the highest motor-able road in Ladakh, a biker’s paradise

A Biker’s Paradise, Ladakh is one location that most bikers ache to go to. But did you know that it is also a destination for hardcore cycling mountain bike enthusiasts? Imagine pedalling away across slopes and climbs at over 3,000 metres above sea level, with low oxygen in the air. It is certainly not for the faint at heart!

3. Ice Hockey, On Ponds and Lakes!

Hockey may be considered the national sport of India by many (this is actually wrong, India does not have an official national sport), but the locals here have their own radical riff to the game. Compared to the Canadian version of hockey, which is played on ice with skates’ and not just on land, but also over the water, the extreme cold here changes the surface of lakes into thick ice sheet! Why go to Canada, when you can enjoy a game of ice hockey here.

4. The Largest National Park And A Haven for Birds

The elusive wild cat- Snow Leopard at Hemis National Park

The elusive wild cat- Snow Leopard at Hemis National Park

The Hemis National Park is spread over 4,000 square kilometres, and is home to the very elusive and rare Snow Leopards. Nearly 200 of these extremely graceful animals live on this harsh land. A veritable bird watcher’s paradise, with nearly 200 species of birds, this national park is a must-visit on your trip.

5. A Lunar Landscape

Lamayuru Monastery, also known as Yuru Gompa is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery situated on the Srinagar-Leh highway

Lamayuru Monastery, also known as Yuru Gompa is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery situated on the Srinagar-Leh highway

Want to travel to Moonland? A nature’s paradise, the village of Lamayuoro in Ladakh is known as Moonland, and is around 127 kilometres away from Leh. The soil around this place resembles the colour of soil on the Moon! You could actually climb a nearby hill and have a full panoramic view of this alien looking landscape. Apart from catching this splendid view, it is said to be a sacred monastery of the ancient Buddha, known as the Lamayuru monastery.

6. Not Just The Land Of Glaciers, But Also The “Glacier Man!”

Ladakh is home to the “Ice Man” or “Glacier Man”, the world’s foremost expert on creating artificial glaciers. Chewang Norphel is a native and a retired civil engineer by profession. Norphel had a “eureka moment” when he noticed that a small stream near his home had frozen solid under the cover of poplar trees. That’s when he associated himself with watershed development. He figured out the process to create artificial glaciers and has built over 15 artificial glaciers here. His largest creation being 1,000 feet long! It will support an entire village of 700 people, which costs only INR 90,000 in today’s world!

7. The Only Home Of Indus in India

Get a chance to visit the beautiful Indus river in Ladakh

Get a chance to visit the beautiful Indus river in Ladakh

Get a chance to visit the beautiful Indus river in Ladakh

India owes its modern name to the Indus River, from the ancient Hindu name for it, the “Sindhu” river. A sacred river for the Hindu civilisation, religion and culture, Ladakh is now the only territory in modern India through which the main Indus River flows. The rest of this river flows through the state of Pakistan, as a result of the partition of 1947.

8. An Astronomer’s Paradise

Don't miss out on the amazing experience of 'stargazing' in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh

Don’t miss out on the amazing experience of ‘stargazing’ in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh

The skies here are absolutely clear and devoid of all kinds of pollution. Situated at above 3,000 metres, this region provides a clear view of the sky, becoming an important hotbed for astronomical observations. At 4,500 ft, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics is home to the second highest optical telescope in the world.

9. Not Just the Home Of the Himalayas

One of the longest mountain ranges in Asia, Kunlun ranges is China's pride!

One of the longest mountain ranges in Asia, Kunlun ranges is China’s pride!

This entire region is situated on one of the highest plateaus in the world. It is marked as a junction between two great mountain ranges, the Himalayas and the Kunlun mountain range. The Kunlun is to the Chinese what Himalayas are to the Indians. This 3,000 kilometre long range runs through the heart of China and is a source of most Chinese mythology.

10. A Land Of Many “Highs”

Pangong Lake is a sight to behold in the Himalayan ranges

Pangong Lake is a sight to behold in the Himalayan ranges

Ladakh is situated over 3,000 metres above sea level. It includes, the highest bridge – Bailey Bridge over Suru and Dras rivers, the highest salt water lake – Pangong Tso, the highest farmed fields – near the Tso-Moriri lake at Korzok, and the highest battleground on earth – at Siachen Glacier.

Ladakh Fact File

Location: A high altitude plateau region in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, India; extending between the Kunlun Mountain range and the Great Himalayas
Connectivity and Access: The Leh Airport has daily flights to Delhi, and weekly flights to other airports in the state of J&K, in Srinagar and Jammu. There are several military airports in Ladakh; only two motorable roads connecting Ladakh to the rest of India – from Srinagar in Kashmir valley, and the newer Manila-Leh Highway from Himachal Pradesh; roads usually close during the winter months (October/November – April/May) due to heavy snow fall and adverse weather conditions; there are no railway connections to this part of the country. Local buses and taxis are the best way to travel in the region. Many people also use Jeeps and motorbikes.
Official Language: Ladakhi, Tibetan, Urdu, Balti; Hindi and English also spoken
Currency: Rupee (INR)
Time Zone: India Standard Time (IST), GMT +5:30
Climate: High altitude cold desert climate, with dry winds and hot and humid summers
Food & Drinks: Non-vegetarian and vegetarian cuisine; local favourites include thukpa, yakhni, momos, roghan josh, and drinks like qahwa

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