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Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramzan, which sees Muslims fasting during the day and feasting during the night, especially on sweets. And since sweets are also used to celebrate the fulfillment of Ramzan, a representation of Allah’s mercy, this festival is also known as ‘Sweet Eid’. So, on the sweet occasion of Eid, here are 7 delectable dishes you absolutely must try in India.

Jama Masjid in New Delhi on Eid day

In New Delhi, Muslims throng to the famous Jama Masjid on the occasion of Eid

Celebrated by Muslims all over the world, the festival of Eid is also a favourite with people of other religions who visit their Muslim friends’ homes to partake in some of the yummy festive delicacies. In India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, Brunei and Indonesia, Muslim families use traditional recipes, which have been handed down from generation to generation, to create special dishes for the festival. For example, households in Turkey spend hours creating perfect Baklava and other pastries that melt in the mouth, while Indonesians and Malaysians serve a delicate dumpling, with a rice filling that is covered with colourful woven palm leaves called Ketupat. If you are in India during Eid-ul-Fitr (25-26 June, 2017), then you absolutely have to binge on these dishes.

#1 Sheer Khorma

In South Asia, Eid-ul-Fitr is synonymous with the delicious Sheer Khorma, which literally translates to a dish of ‘milk with dates’ in Persian. This sweet dish is traditionally served as breakfast to the family members on Eid, and is offered to all the guests who stop by through the day. Highly popular in Arab countries as well as India and Pakistan, Sheer Khorma originated in Herat, Afghanistan. However, the Indian city of Hyderabad has its own delectable version of the dish which will leave you drooling.

The perfect Eid-ul-Fitr dessert is Sheer Khorma

The perfect Eid-ul-Fitr dessert would have to be Sheer Khorma, a hugely popular dish in India

Generally cooked with delicate and thin sevaiyan/vermicelli, whole milk, and plenty of dates, some versions of Sheer Khorma also use cardamom, almonds, saffron, rose water, etc. If you have never eaten a bowl of Sheer Khorma, you have been missing out – this melt-in-your-mouth delicacy is a joyful celebration for your palate.

#2 Nawabi Biryani

Nawabi Biryani garnished with coriander and caramelised onions

The slow-cooked Nawabi Biryani is a popular Eid dish, garnished with coriander and caramelised onions

Also known as the Lucknowi Biryani, this delicacy is another one of India’s all-time Eid favourites. It is inspired by the Persian dum pukht cooking style, where instead of cooking the entire meat and rice separately, the gravy meat and rice are only partially cooked in separate vessels. After this, the meat and rice is carefully layered in a sealed vessel and slow cooked in the oven in the traditional Awadhi dum pukht cooking style so that the flavours can be absorbed and mix well. Compared to other biryanis in India, the Nawabi Biryani is not spicy, and has dry fruits like apricots, cashew nuts, almonds, and raisins, which are used freely to add the Nawabi/nobleman component.

#3 Haleem

A serving of Haleem with garnish on side

This Eid, be sure to enjoy a piping-hot serving of Haleem, with garnish on side

Other than the fact that it is incredibly delicious, Haleem is also the chosen dish for Muslims to break the Ramzan fast because it is high in both nutrition and calories. Invented in the 10th Century by the Arabs, Haleem was brought to India by Sultan Said Nawaz Jung, who regularly served it to his chosen noblemen at royal dinners in the Nizam state of Hyderabad. The dish has a melt-in-the-mouth consistency, and is made of wheat, lentils, and choice cuts of mutton, that is then topped with caramalised onion, sliced lemons, roasted cashew nuts, and tasteful soup. Traditionally, there are two different types of haleem – one made using lentils and one without – but you will find many other variations, such as chicken, vegetarian, and fish haleem, in India.

#4 Bhuna Gosht

Gorge on this thick red mutton curry

Gorge on some Bhuna Gosht, a flavourful thick red mutton curry, for an Eid feast to remember.

What makes the Eid-special dish Bhuna Gosht a delicacy is the ‘bhuna’ or roast part, where the word ‘gosht’ means meat that is made tender after cooking it for a long time. To make this flavourful dish, chunks of meat are roasted with spices, and this pan-frying or roasting is what gives it the traditional reddish-brown tinge. Generally made with lamb or goat meat, Bhuna Gosht serves up chunks of meat slow cooked in a thick red curry, with fenugreek leaves and caramelised onions, which are a textured, spicy, absolutely amazing dish. This curry is best mopped up with Indian flat-breads like naan, chapatti, and roti.

#5 Sufi Malpua

Sufi Malpua is served garnished with dry fruits

No Eid feast is complete without a few servings of the sweet Sufi Malpua, garnished with dry fruits

Eid-ul-Fitr is a festival centred on desserts, and the Sufi Malpua is a worthy entrant on this list of must have foods. While conventional Malpua is made with flour and khoya/thickened milk of fresh cheese consistency, the Sufi Malpua uses more rich ingredients. You will often find Sufi Malpuas made with saffron, rava/semolina, condensed milk, and slivers of dry fruits. Popular amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike, this sweet Eid preparation beckons you with a fragrance that will automatically make your mouth water.

#6 Almond/Badam Phirni

Badam Phirni is traditionally served in clay bowls

Traditionally served in clay bowls, Badam Phirni is a favourite when it comes to Indian festivals like Eid

No one with a sweet tooth could possibly fail to like the Almond/Badam Phirni! An indulgent dessert made with plenty of almonds and milk, this phirni or rice pudding has a rich creamy texture. This extremely healthy sweet dish is traditionally made for festivals across India, from Eid to Diwali, Karwa Chauth & more. Served in small clay bowls, to keep them cool, Badam Phirni is one dessert that Indians everywhere are in love with.

#7 Falooda

Enjoy a glass of Falooda to end the Eid meal

Enjoy a glass of Falooda to end the Eid meal

The Falooda is a dessert beverage that is a consistent favourite during Eid-ul-Fitr. It is colourful, quirky and delicious – reasons enough to make it the perfect end to any Eid meal. Made with soaked basil seeds, vermicelli, milk, and ice cream, Falooda could be favourably compared to a western Sundae with a twist! The healthy ingredients are layered in a glass and topped with dry fruits, fruit pieces, jelly cubes, or rose petals, making it a delight for the eyes and for your tastebuds.

In India, Eid-ul-Fitr is a festival of thanks and a celebration of God’s infinite blessings. It is best celebrated with a grand feast in the company of friends and family members, so make sure you add these items to your plate this year.

Interested in trying these delicacies? Plan a visit to India! 

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“It doesn’t matter where you are going, it’s who you have beside you.”
By Aishwarya Menon

The wedding season is here and helping you choose the right destination for your honeymoon is upon us. Read on, as we list out the A-Z of the most exotic and beautiful destinations for you to pick!

A – Alaska, The United States of America

For Adventure Lovers

Alaska is a must visit for its rocky cliffs, snow covered mastiffs, and glaciers

Alaska is a must visit for its rocky cliffs, snow covered mastiffs, and glaciers

Do you and your partner live adventure? Does the sound of “the road less travelled” intrigue you? Challenging, exotic, full of surprises at every twist and turn is how you would describe Alaska, and rightly so. Get bewitched by the exquisite wilderness and know why writers, travellers and explorers have still not given up raving about this beautiful strange land.

Travel To Alaska!

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B – Bora Bora Islands, French Polynesia

For The Beach Lovers

How about befriending a bunch of tropical fish underwater of French Polynesia?

How about befriending a bunch of tropical fish underwater of French Polynesia?

Of beautiful palm trees and moonlit skies, Bora Bora is what honeymoon dreams are made of. Calming blue waters, an endless array of mountains, and a coral reef with an abundance of sea creatures to befriend, this extravagant yet quiet island could make your honeymoon picture perfect. Not convinced yet? Imagine a slow-paced walk on the sandy beaches, or a crazy lagoon tour; you’re good to go!

Go Bora Bora Island Hopping!

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C – Cape Town, Western Cape Town, South Africa

For Adventurers

Watch the sun go down in Noordhoek Beach in Cape Town. Quite romantic,isn't it?

Watch the sun go down in Noordhoek Beach in Cape Town. Quite romantic,isn’t it?

So you still haven’t decided where to head for your honeymoon but have a long list of must do’s in mind? Look no further, cos Cape Town, in South Africa has got you covered. From a multitude of beaches, stunning nightlife and an exotic wildlife to flaunt, this capital city is breathtaking from sea to sky. Explore Cape Town for the right blend of culture, cuisine and landscape and what’s better than exploring the town with your life partner by your side?

Explore Cape Town!

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D – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

For Glitzy Couples

Soak in the splendid skyline of Dubai with your significant other by your side!

Soak in the splendid skyline of Dubai with your significant other by your side!

Looking to add some jaw-dropping glitz and glamour to your newly married life, yet want to keep it traditional? Dubai is the destination! From desert safaris to a thrilling urban life, this city is where you can taste the essence of two worlds together. Also, do not forget to experiment with the delicious, local cuisine here with your partner. Because as they say, “one can never have enough of Dubai”.

Explore Dubai!

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E – Ecuador, South America

For Marine Wildlife Lovers

Go swimming with a marine turtle in the Galapagos!

Go swimming with a marine turtles in the Galapagos!

Want to roam the whole of South America but confused as where to begin? Pick Ecuador and make the most of your honeymoon. The land that is blessed with a stunning marine wildlife, Ecuador will impress you to bits. With the ever-famous Amazon rain-forest, exotic marketplaces, colonial towns and beautiful beaches, Ecuador is small, yet appealing.

Take A Trip To Ecuador!

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F – Fiji, Oceania

For Beach Lovers

Relax by the Laucala Island, Fiji

Relax by the Laucala Island, Fiji

If volcanic islands and coral islands are what you are looking for, you’ve come to the right place. Get the quietude and peace but don’t miss out on the adventure; Fiji has something for one and all. This island country is much beyond the usual must-see sightseeing and experiences. Explore fiji for the locals, the warm people and the history.

Dive Into The world Of Fiji Now!

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G – Greece, Europe

For Beach Lovers

The azure waters of Santorini is sure to woo you!

The azure waters of Santorini is sure to woo you!

Are you one of those couples who get restless after a few hours of beach time? We promise you Greece will change your mind. Because, why settle for a few beaches when you can explore a dozen? After all, nothing says ‘love’ quite like exploring the sun-bleached ancient ruins and beaches of Greece, right?

Honeymoon In Greece!

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H – Hungary, Europe

For Artsy Ones

 Visit the dreamy city of Budapest in Hungary and experience magic at every turn you take!

Visit the dreamy city of Budapest in Hungary and experience magic at every turn you take!

Art, culture and breathtaking architecture to blow your mind and make your honeymoon extremely special; Hungary is one exotic location to spend time at, with your better half. Add to it a relaxing thermal spa, rolling hills in the north, this country has a lot to offer to newlyweds. While at Hungary, don’t miss out on fun cities like Budapest, Szeged, Debrecen.

Book Your Holiday To Hungary Now!

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I – Iceland, Europe

For Fairytale Couples

When in Iceland, make it a point to visit The aurora borealis or the northern lights

When in Iceland, make it a point to visit The aurora borealis or the northern lights

A landscape full of legends, if Iceland has never been one of those dream destinations you always wanted to visit, you are doing travel goals completely wrong! That being said, explore this majestic, yet largely uninhabited country, where the Northern Light shines bright like a set of diamonds. It’s here where the landscape changes every few minutes. With grassy, green Middle Earth at one time, to splendid waterfalls and calming geysers on the other; the list of places you could visit and things you could do here are endless.

Live Your Fairytale Dream In Iceland!

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J – Japan, Asia

For Fun Couples

Visit the Chureito Pagoda, a temple against the backdrop of the mighty Mt. Fuji

Visit the Chureito Pagoda, a temple against the backdrop of the mighty Mt. Fuji

Kon’nichiwa! The Land Of The Rising Sun, Japan is totally recommended if you are looking for a relaxing and languid travel experience. Be ready to find tons of contrasts here, as you explore the bustling city life of Tokyo and the spiritually invoking Kyoto. Go shrine-hopping or marvel at the cherry blossoms. Japan, as we assure can be one of the best travel experiences you could pick for you and your partner.

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K – Kenya, Africa

For Wildlife Lovers

Walk with the adorable giraffes through the grasslands of the Masai Mara Reserve

Walk with the adorable giraffes through the grasslands of the Masai Mara Reserve

Kenya is the country that will initiate your love affair with Africa and wildlife. See the ‘Big Five’ and go trekking with the friendly Masai or scuba dive in the reefs. Explore this wild country if you are looking for some epic fun and frolic, because Kenya is much more than just safaris.

Explore Kenya Now!

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L – Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

For Foodies

Marvel at the imposing Rumi Gateway, an excellent example of Awadhi architecture

Marvel at the imposing Rumi Gateway, an excellent example of Awadhi architecture

With a dust of British colonialism and two grand mausoleums to boast of, Lucknow in India is an exceptionally royal city. Known for the food and the intricate Lucknowi embroidery, it’s an exotic paradise for foreigners and locals alike. Learn of offbeat cultures and gorge on delectable cuisines, Lucknow is a sure to make you come back for more!

Visit Lucknow!

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M – Myanmar, Asia

For History Buffs

The temples of the Archaeological Zone in Bagan is a sight to the sore eyes

The temples of the Archaeological Zone in Bagan is a sight to the sore eyes

Stoic, yet charming Myanmar is exotic through and through. Once a part of India, this country radiates royalty and culture. If you are one of those not-so-typical couples, Myanmar (then Burma) will leave you lingering with sweet memories. Visit the century old stupas, explore traditional practices, because there’s no other place as beautiful as the land of faith.

Explore Myanmar!

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N – Nepal, Asia

For Adventurers & Foodies

Soak in the Beautiful view from Gokyo Ri, Everest region, Nepal.

Soak in the beautiful view from Gokyo Ri, Everest region, Nepal.

Firstly, if you are from India, setting off to Nepal is a cakewalk. With no need of a passport, Nepal, the land of momos will instantly bring a happy glee to your face. Get onboard this Hmalayan journey to explore beautifully carved temples, yaks and yetis, and snow peaked mountains!

Book Your Nepal Holiday!

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O – Orkney Islands, Scotland

For The Romantics

Don't miss out on visiting Ring Of Brodgar, which is part of The Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

Don’t miss out on visiting Ring Of Brodgar, which is part of The Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

One of the most underrated honeymoon destinations, Orkney is the magical mystery land that gives wings to your Scottish dreams. The shimmering sea, the sandstone cliffs, and the green topped islands are the perfect reasons for why you should choose Orkney as the most romantic honeymoon destination!

Visit Scotland!

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P – Peru, South America

For Adventurers

Marvel at the mesmerising view of the Sacred Plaza, Peru

Marvel at the mesmerising view of the Sacred Plaza, Peru

If you two are adventure junkies, there is no better place than Peru. Trek for a view of a lifetime and experience traditions at every twist and turn. Sail boat through the Amazon, hike the Andean Trails and make sure to visit the famed Machu Picchu.

Explore Peru!

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Q – Quebec, Canada

For Shoppers

Visit the Quebec city when in Canada

Visit the Quebec city when in Canada

With equal doses of wilderness and modern city life, Quebec is a city like no other. Experience snow, sip on delicious wine or go on an extensive shopping spree. The things you could do here, are endless. Get a sneak-peek into the past by visiting the ancient quarters, and alluring old townships. Rest assured, Quebec will not fail you as a honeymoon destination.

Holiday in Quebec!

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R – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

For Beach Lovers

MArvel at the aerial view of Copacobana Beach and Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil.

MArvel at the aerial view of Copacobana Beach and Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil.

Known for its surfing hotspots, thrilling nightlife, and an extensively festive city, Rio De Janeiro is a must visit place for couples. Do the samba with your partner and soak in the sun on the captivating sandy beaches. Don’t skip this destination as Rio de Janeiro is a seductive place for beach and mountain lovers.

Experience Rio De Janeiro!

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S – Savannah, Georgia, The United States of America

For Artsy Ones

Explore Savannah's wildlife when here

Explore Savannah’s wildlife when here

Discover the charm and elegance in the beautiful alleys of Savannah. If you are fond of architecture and art, this is the place to be in. From colonial mansions to beautiful squares, Savannah is known to maintain its glory till date. Come here just for the architecture and you won’t be disappointed!

Holiday In The USA!

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T – Turkey, Middle East

For Fairytale Couples

Explore the ancient ruins at Ephesus Turkey

Explore the ancient ruins at Ephesus Turkey

Explore the wind-carved mountains, the fairytale rock chimneys of Cappadocia, and soak up some Sufi mysticism. Expect the unexpected, for Turkey is full of surprises. With delectable food and incredible art houses, your honeymoon here would be worth every minute spent.

Explore Turkey!

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U – Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

For The Romantics

Isn't this an amazing view of the City Palace?

Isn’t this an amazing view of the City Palace?

Visit the city of lakes to know what romance really means. The serenity and pleasing palace views will make your heart flutter. Stay in a haveli and watch as time comes to a happy standstill. Let the city charm you into weaving the most beautiful love story between you and your better half.

Visit Udaipur!

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V – Vietnam, Asia

For History Buffs

The most popular tourist destination in Vietnam, Halong Bay is a must visit

The most popular tourist destination in Vietnam, Halong Bay is a must visit

Stunning landscapes, fascinating rural adventures, dense national parks and charming colonial towns; Vietnam will lure you into falling in love with it. One of the hot picks for honeymoon destinations, experiment with this country and see beauty come to light!

Discover Vietnam!

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W – Wales, United Kingdom

For Fairytale Couples

Explore the castles, river valleys, and unending cliffs in Wales

Explore the castles, river valleys, and unending cliffs in Wales

Compact, but exceptionally royal, Wales is a dreamy paradise. Explore the castles, river valleys, and unending cliffs. Don’t let the size of the country make you doubt the vastness of beauty here. Ever wanted to have a fairytale romance? Wales is where is can come true!

Visit United Kingdom!

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X – Xinjiang Province, China

For The Not-So-Typical Couples

Xinjiang Province feels like a place straight out of a fairytale

Xinjiang Province feels like a place straight out of a fairytale

A lesser explored province of China, Xinjiang is culturally diverse and mesmerising in its own way. Pick this out of the box, not so typical destination just for its natural landscape, multicultural extravaganza!

Visit China!

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Y – Yangtze, Shanghai, China

For Cruisers

Opt for acCruise on the Yangtze River (Three Gorges) in China.

Opt for acCruise on the Yangtze River (Three Gorges) in China.

If you are a couple that seeks thrill and adventure while travelling, a cruise on the Yangtze river would be a perfect choice. Witness an impressive scenery and experience the local culture as you sail through the ancient Chinese civilization.

Go cruising in the Yangtze!

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Z – Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa

For Touristy Couples

Unwind on one of the many pretty beaches of Zanzibar

Unwind on one of the many pretty beaches of Zanzibar

Intrigued by Swahili history? Look no further. This quaint little place in Tanzania is an underrated yet pretty tourist destination. With full moon parties, crystal clear beaches, and pristine coral gardens, Zanzibar is a definite win-win as a honeymoon destination!

Visit Zanzibar!

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Now that’s an extensive list to choose from. Can’t make up your mind? Write to us at nissitoursindia@gmail.com and we’ll help you customise your honeymoon package!

Happy Honeymooning!

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Goa is a tiny land full of wonders, and there is something beyond the usual beaches and activities that you should experience – the annual Sao Joao festival, also known as the Feast of St John the Baptist.

A statue of St John the Baptist displayed in Malta

A statue of St John the Baptist displayed in Malta

If you were planning a Goa trip in June, you are just in time to be part of the exciting and fun celebrations as Sao Joao is celebrated by the locals on 24th June. Jumping into wells, singing, traditional rituals, and lots of Feni are just a few things that you can expect during this fascinating festival in Goa. Here’s a detailed look:

What is the Sao Joao Festival all about?

Mention a festival celebrated by Goan locals, and people will instantly think of lot of alcoholic drinks, dancing, singing, feasting, and overall carnival-style community merriment. And although this festival does stay true to the Goan stereotype, it has its unique flavour that you certainly should not miss experiencing if you get the chance. Celebrated by people belonging to the Catholic community, Sao Joao is dedicated to St John the Baptist, who was the cousin of Jesus Christ and a firebrand prophet.

 Sao Joao is also celebrated in other places like Portugal

Sao Joao is also celebrated in other places like Portugal

According to the Holy Bible, when Mother Mary was bearing Jesus, she visited St John the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth to break the news. On hearing the news, St John the Baptist, who was in his mother’s womb at the time, jumped with joy inside. Later, St John the Baptist also baptised Jesus Christ in the river Jordan. The saint’s bounding with joy inside his mother is celebrated in a big way during Sao Joao.

In what way do Goans celebrate Sao Joao?

Even though it is a traditional Catholic festival, Sao Joao is celebrated as a monsoon festival with its own spin by the ever-enthusiastic Goan people. The most striking celebration of the day is young men plunging into wells and ponds to retrieve gifts thrown in by the villagers. This practice is symbolic of St John the Baptist jumping inside Elizabeth’s womb, as the water body they jump into is considered her womb. As they take the plunge, the air rings with shouts of ‘Viva San Joao.’

People celebrating the festival don vibrant costumes and coronets called ‘Koupal’ that are made with fruits, fresh flowers, leaves, and vines. The festival is also marked by a procession, in which young people go door to door around the place and collect gifts, fruits, and liquor.

Made from locally-produced cashews, Feni is a traditional alcoholic drink in Goa

Made from locally-produced cashews, Feni is a traditional alcoholic drink in Goa

These are then offered at a local water body along with prayers. Newly-married couples and young women of child-bearing age are particularly in the spotlight during Sao Joao as it is also referred to as ‘the Festival of Fertility.’ New brides are given traditional ‘dalis’ that are plates packed with seasonal fruits to be taken as gifts to their in-laws’ homes. The young women make offerings to the Lord while wishing for a child and join the others in throwing the gifts, fruits, flowers, etc. into the water which the young men will then jump in to retrieve.

In many place, a highlight of the day are the colourfully-decorated Sangodds, floating platforms created by joining boats together with banana tree trunks and coconut palms. Live performers entertain people while on these Sangodds, and people are much too happy to join in the celebrations as they exchange gifts and eatables, participate in various folk dances, sing the local parade music called ‘Mandos’ along with religious hymns, and help themselves to free-flowing Feni.

No celebrations are complete in Goa without feasting on seafood No celebrations are complete in Goa without feasting on seafood

No celebrations are complete in Goa without feasting on seafood

Young and old alike celebrate Sao Joao as they make merry, and as the Feni intake increases, often the men are seen jumping time and again into nearby water bodies to enjoy the monsoon to the fullest. In most place, the day ends with a big feast where everyone comes together to make more merry and feast on plenty of meat and seafood.

Where in Goa is Sao Joao celebrated?

Goa has been celebrating this festival for about 175 years, and the Northern part is where the celebrations are at their most boisterous form as compared to South Goa. Live shows where young people showcase their talents, parades and processions, and even drunken revelry are the order of the day as locals get together to celebrate the occasion. In earlier times, people from different villages would travel in boats to the chapel of Sao Joao located in Siolim to be part of the celebrations. The tradition continues even today as people from all over flock to north Goa to witness and join in the San Joao festivities.

Goans get together to celebrate Sao Joao

Goans get together to celebrate Sao Joao

Fernandes Wado near the Siolim Church is where you should head to if you wish to attend the ‘after party’ of the day’s celebrations. The party continues late into the night with groovy music, spirited celebrations, lots of food, and of course, a whole lot of liquor. Often visitors who plan to be passive spectators cannot help but shake a leg to the live performances of Konkani, Hindi, and English songs. Even though the festival has come a long way, Sao Joao has managed to retain most of its traditional flavour in Goa, and this is what makes the event so uniquely Goan.

Goa Fact File:

Location: About 600 km from Mumbai.
How to Reach: The Dabolim airport has regular flights to many Indian cities. Major railway stations inn Goa are Vasco-da-Gama, Thivim, and Madgaon. The state is approachable by road from other cities with taxis and buses.
Official Language: Konkani
Currency: INR
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Climate: Tropical monsoon
Food & Drink: Seafood and pork dishes. Feni is a popular local drink.

Interested to book a holiday to Goa?

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The last few days South Africa has been battling with an extensive of loss of human life, homes, structures, power and communication lines caused by the blazing Knsysna fires. The fire was propelled by strong winds of what seems to be Cape Town’s worst storm in 30 years. The Relief Management Team with the help of military have evacuated 10,000 people and have been working in full force to contain the fires since then.

Knysna fire was propelled by the the strong winds of the storm in Cape Town

Knysna fire was propelled by the the strong winds of the storm in Cape Town

Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) has set up an operations centre at Pelican Lodge through its partner, Safari and Tourism Insurance Brokers (SATIB). The emergency number for the centre is +27 1000 70230 for medical emergencies, reporting missing people, lost passports, repatriations requests and trauma counselling services.

This is what the chief executive officer of South African Tourism, Mr Sisa Ntshona, had to say, “Our thoughts are with all the affected people at this time. The safety of all tourists is of paramount importance to us and we are working very closely with SATSA who have people on the ground in the affected areas assisting travelers. We thank the four Chairmen of JAMMS (Joint Association Members Meeting Sessions made up of Cape Town Tourism, SAACI, FEDHASA and SATSA) who have agreed to assist international tourists in need.”

Meanwhile, a disaster emergency fund has been set up by officials for residents in the wake of the fire and slowly things are getting back to normal. Majority of fires have now been contained and roads that were closed have been re-opened. Various tourists spots and activities are returning to normal in the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay areas. The John Benn cruise and other boat cruises are now operating as normal again.

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From a fascinating safari in Uttarakhand to a walk in the lush green valleys of Manali, here are the top 5 places in India that are perfect for a holiday with your father.

Use this Father’s Day to relieve childhood vacation memories with your dad

This Father’s Day, relive your childhood memories on a vacation with your dad

As Father’s Day draws near, one comes across numerous banners, advertisements, etc., each claiming to be the best gift for a dad. And while you cannot measure the value of a hand-written card or a small but well-thought gift, we’ve got something that you both will remember forever. A celebratory father-child trip that lets you reminisce about and bond over your fondest memories of childhood vacations. Here are the 5 best places in India to visit on a trip with the most important man in your life.

1. Manali

Paragliding over breath-taking mountains is a gift your father will not forget for a long time

Paragliding over breathtaking mountains is a gift your father will not forget for a long time

Everybody loves a good hill station holiday, however short it may be. So, if you can spare a few days, Manali with its cool mountain air and gorgeous views is perfect for some stress-free time off. Visit Buddhist monasteries, explore the nearby areas, and taste the local cuisine to learn more about the people and their culture.

Manali is also an ideal destination for Father’s Day because June is a pleasant time to visit the region. The place is known as a paradise for adventure lovers, so if your father loves the outdoors, treat him to some paragliding, mountaineering, trekking, river rafting, and more. If you are up for it, you could even plan a biking trip from Manali to places like Leh-Ladakh.

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Manali Fact File

Location: In the state of Himachal Pradesh, about 544 km from Delhi
How to Reach: Bhuntar Airport, about 50 km away, is the closest to Manali and has regular flights from Delhi and Chandigarh; the closest railhead is Joginder Nagar, approximately 175 km away. Manali is also well connected by road, with buses and cards from Chandigarh, Delhi, Shimla, etc.
Official Language: Hindi
Currency: INR
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Climate: Moderate summers and cold winters. Snowfall occurs between December and March.
Food & Drink: Dham, a platter consisting of rice, curry, pulses, raita, and sweetened rice, is a must-try is Manali. Milk-based beverages like tea and lassi are also popular. Locally made alcoholic drinks include Chakti and Lugri wines, made from red rice and barley.

2. Pondicherry

Pondicherry has the makings of a refreshing holiday for some father-child bonding

Pondicherry has all the makings of a refreshing father-child getaway

Tranquil yet vibrant enough to be interesting, Pondicherry is a delight for anyone who wants to get away from the city, without having to travel to remote areas. Its proximity to Chennai makes it perfect for a weekend break, and the city has enough attractions and activities to keep you busy for a couple of days. Take a nice road trip, and stop at Mahabalipuram on the way from Chennai to Pondicherry to marvel at Krishna’s Butter Ball and the impressive historic monuments.

Once in the city, you must visit Auroville. You can also treat your father to a nice meal at one of the many eateries in the French Quarter. On the morning of Father’s Day, join a cycle tour to explore the city with interesting information provided by the friendly guide. Before you head back home, make sure you spend some time by the sea on the beautiful promenade. Better yet, plan a trip to one of the beaches and talk about all those beach vacations when you were a kid.

Pondicherry Fact File

Location: In the southern part of India, about 170 km from Chennai.
How to Reach: The domestic airport in Pondicherry has regular small aircraft flying in from Bengaluru and Hyderabad; Chennai airport is another option. Villupuram is the closest railhead and connected to major Indian cities. Taxis and buses are available to travel by road from Chennai and Bengaluru.
Official Language: Tamil, English, French
Currency: INR
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Climate: Tropical wet and dry
Food & Drink: The cuisine has both Tamil and French influences; coconut curry, croissants, baguettes and kadugu yerra (prawns curry) are some must-try dishes. Palpayasam (sweet milk) is a popular sweet dish.

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3. Uttarakhand

For a ‘wild’ time, plan a visit to the Jim Corbett National Park where you can join a safari ride

Plan a visit to Jim Corbett National Park and have a wild time on a safari ride

With its bouquet of hill stations, national parks, activities, and ravishing natural beauty, Uttarakhand will please even the most discerning traveller. If you want to take a spiritual retreat, head to Rishikesh. Looking for a wild time, take a safari in Jim Corbett National Park and grab the chance to view majestic Bengal tigers and other wildlife in their natural habitat. This is also an excellent idea if your dad loves getting behind the lens.

If you have nothing but a lazy getaway on your mind, there is nothing better than heading to the charming hill stations of Nainital or Mussoorie. Soothing views, crisp mountain air, and plenty of places for a scrumptious meal are guaranteed here. Don’t miss out on evening strolls, with stops to tuck into steamy instant noodles and tea at road-side food stalls along the way.

Uttarakhand Fact File

Location: In northern India, bordering Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Tibet, and Nepal.
How to Reach: The closest airports are Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport and the Pantnagar Airport near Nainital. Uttarakhand is also well connected by rail to other cities in India, while the major state highways link different cities like Rishikesh and Haridwar to important Indian cities.
Official Language: Hindi, Sanskrit
Currency: INR
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Climate: Pleasant to hot summers, depending on the destination, while winters are typically chilly.
Food & Drink: Mostly cooked over wood or charcoal, Uttarakhand’s popular dishes include chapatis, kafuli, dubuk, and Garhwal ka fannah. Jhangor ki kheer is the dessert to try here.

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4. Sikkim

Yak rides on the Tsongmo Lake is a popular activity in Sikkim

Yak rides on Sikkim’s Tsongmo Lake is a unique experience both you and your father will love

For a truly special time with your old man, look beyond the usual tourist hot-spots and head towards India’s north-eastern regions. Sikkim is an excellent destination, when you don’t have time to visit all eight states. While it may be one of the smaller states of the country, this Himalayan state is home to wonderful sights and exotic experiences that make for great Father’s Day adventures. Trek the super-clean, lush green pathways, soak in gorgeous Himalayan views, and stop for some thukpa and sinful pastries at one of the many quaint little bakeries along the way. Do not miss a trip to the famed Tsongmo Lake, where you can go on a yak ride.

Sikkim is also known for the availability of cheap alcohol, which is a boon if you love sharing a drink with your dad after a long day. Watch your father smile as he regales you with crazy stories from your early years to know why travelling with your dad is always a great idea.

Sikkim Fact File

Location: Part of the north-east Indian states, located near the Siliguri Corridor.
How to Reach: Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal is the closest, with railheads at Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. Buses, taxis, etc., are available regularly from Darjeeling and Siliguri.
Official Language: Nepali
Currency: INR
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Climate: Mostly temperate
Food & Drink: Momos, thukpa (a noodle-based soup), and phagshapa (a pork preparation) are popular Sikkimese dishes. Tongba is a common alcoholic beverage you should try here.

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5. Goa

Nothing can be more de-stressing and fun than spending time on Goa’s beaches

Nothing beats spending some stress-free time on Goa’s beaches with your dad

This year, consider breaking the friends-chilling-in-Goa routine and instead plan a fun trip with your dad for his special day. If he loves the sun and sea, and wants a chance to unwind, with his feet in the sand and a beer in his hand, Goa is your best bet. Make sure you pack his favourite book and music to help him de-stress and treat him to the pampering he so deserves.

When not lazing around at one of the beach shacks or playing in the water, try some water sports at Calangute or Baga Beach. Visit the spice plantations, hire a bike to visit famous attractions like the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Dona Paula, and Fort Aguada, and tuck away into some fresh seafood. Savour a fresh meal and a cool drink with the gorgeous view of the sun setting over the water.

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Goa Fact File

Location: About 600 km from Mumbai.
How to Reach: The Dabolim airport has regular flights to many Indian cities. Major railway stations in Goa are Vasco-da-Gama, Thivim, and Madgaon. The state is well connected by road with taxis and buses from other cities.
Official Language: Konkani
Currency: INR
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Climate: Tropical monsoon
Food & Drink: Seafood and pork dishes. Feni is a popular local drink to try here.

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Let’s return to nature. Let’s fulfill our childhood fantasy. Let’s live in a tree house.
By Khushboo Sikawat

Better than the concrete jungle? You bet!

Better than the concrete jungle? You bet!

Green around, blue above and freshness everywhere; a stay in a tree house is a perfect hideaway, don’t you think? It is like coming back home; to nature.

Here are the top 5 tree houses in India that you must explore.

1. The Machan

Now who wouldn't want to wake up to a view like this!; themachan.com

Now who wouldn’t want to wake up to a view like this!; themachan.com

A perfect escape from the chaos of the city; The Machan offers a choice of unique tree houses. Nestled at 3,300 feet, amidst a private tropical forest near Lonavala, it provides spectacular vistas of valleys and lush green trees.

Interesting fact: The Machan generates all its energy from renewable resources (solar and wind).

Location: Lonavala, Maharashtra

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2. Vythiri Resort

Time slows down when your home is in the forests!; vythiri.com

Time slows down when your home is in the forests!; vythiri.com

This resort, a magnificent melange of nature and grandeur is located in Wayanad. Snuggled beneath a canopy of lush tropical forest, Vythiri happens to be a beautiful jungle getaway. It has five tree houses (including a child-friendly one), spanning from 35-feet to 80-feet off the ground.

Interesting fact: Vythiri Resort was built by the local tribal community, utilising locally sourced materials.

Location: Lakkidi P.O, Wayanad, Kerala

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3. Tranquil Resort

Here, all you hear is the chirping of the birds and your own silence; tranquilresorts.com

Here, all you hear is the chirping of the birds and your own silence; tranquilresorts.com

Tranquil Resort, situated in Wayanad, makes for a blissful, cosy stay. It has two tree houses with seven spacious rooms. The resort is surrounded by abundant greenery; look around and feel rejuvenated instantly.

Interesting fact: Tranquil Resort is set on a 400-acre coffee and spice estate.

Location: Wayanad, Kerala

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4. Tree House Hideaway

When you discover thrill and serenity at one place!; Tree House Hideaway - Bandhavgarh Facebook page

When you discover thrill and serenity at one place!; Tree House Hideaway – Bandhavgarh Facebook page

Blend the happiness of staying in a tree house with the thrill of spotting tigers in the jungle on a jeep safari through Bandhavgarh. Perched in 21-acres of woodland adjacent to Bandhavgarh National Park, Tree House Hideaway offers a unique jungle-living experience.

Interesting fact: It has five tree houses built on five different trees – Mahua, Tendu, Peepal, Banyan and Palash.

Location: Village Vijarhia, Bandhavgarh, Umaria, Tala, Madhya Pradesh

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5. The Tree House Resort

A getaway so scenic, you'd want to stay there forever!; treehouseresort.in

A getaway so scenic, you’d want to stay here forever!; treehouseresort.in

Set atop Keekar trees in the foothills of Syari Valley, The Tree House Resort offers a splendid view of the Aravalli Mountains. Its 5-room tree houses are counted among the largest in the world.

Interesting fact: Each tree house is named after a local bird found in the area.

Location: 35th Kilometer stone, NH-8, Jaipur, Rajasthan

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Made up your mind to stay in a tree house already? Tell us which one is your choice of nest in the comments section below.

Write to us at nissitoursindia@gmail.com and we’ll customise a tree house package for you!

 

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Located in the northern parts of India, is a beautiful land full of mountains, spreading its arms of snow-peaks. It is here, where the blooming meadows are decorated with colourful flowers and where valleys are a playground to mischievous rivers racing along the river beds.

This is Himachal Pradesh, and it is nothing less than heaven on earth. Here’s a sneak-peek to  Akbar Faruki’s trip to Himachal Pradesh which he would like to share through this photo blog:

Whistling winds along with innumerable clouds hugging the ice-capped mountains of Manali is surely a breathtaking view.

Whistling winds along with innumerable clouds hugging the ice-capped mountains of Manali is surely a breathtaking view.

You don't want to sleep over the different shades of the morning sunrise, painting the landscapes of Shimla.

You don’t want to sleep over the different shades of the morning sunrise, painting the landscapes of Shimla.

The colourful houses and curvy roads beautifully come together to form a a bouquet.

The colourful houses and curvy roads beautifully come together to form a a bouquet.

An uphill trek or a horse-ride through the rocky terrains of Kufri is an adventure in itself.

An uphill trek or a horse-ride through the rocky terrains of Kufri is an adventure in itself.

Walk through the tourist market of Kufri located on a hilltop to scour some irresistible souvenirs.

Walk through the tourist market of Kufri located on a hilltop to scour some irresistible souvenirs.

The famous Mall Road atop the cityscapes of Shimla is a place you would want to spend the day shopping and admiring the beautiful British architecture.

The famous Mall Road atop the cityscapes of Shimla is a place you would want to spend the day shopping and admiring the beautiful British architecture.

Take a morning walk among the boulders alongside the white waters of Beas river.

Take a morning walk among the boulders alongside the white waters of Beas river.

Find tranquility at the Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa Monastery situated amidst the beautiful valleys of Manali.

Find tranquility at the Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa Monastery situated amidst the beautiful valleys of Manali.

Mini prayer wheels, Chinese knots, and Chinese bells… bring back home these souvenirs to the heartwarming visit memory of the Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa Monastery.

Mini prayer wheels, Chinese knots, and Chinese bells… bring back home these souvenirs to the heartwarming visit memory of the Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa Monastery.

 Watching the colourful wool string being woven into a beautiful piece of art at the shawl factories of Kullu is worth your time.

Watching the colourful wool string being woven into a beautiful piece of art at the shawl factories of Kullu is worth your time.

Now that you've visited the wool factory in Kullu, it's time to splurge a bit in Manali! Shop your heart out!

Now that you’ve visited the wool factory in Kullu, it’s time to splurge a bit in Manali! Shop your heart out!

 

 The wooden-structured ancient cave temple of Hidimba Devi situated in the northern mart of Manali is a must visit.

The wooden-structured ancient cave temple of Hidimba Devi situated in the northern mart of Manali is a must visit.

While you are outside the Hidimba Devi Temple, you might spot local saints immersed in their chants.

While you are outside the Hidimba Devi Temple, you might spot local saints immersed in their chants.

As you gain altitude from Manali moving to Rohtang Paas, make sure to stop on the way at the theme cafe 'Taste of India'.

As you gain altitude from Manali moving to Rohtang Paas, make sure to stop on the way at the theme cafe ‘Taste of India’.

With a lot of memories in tow, I bid adieu to the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh

With a lot of memories in tow, he bid adieu to the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh

In love with Himachal Pradesh, yet? Book a package now!

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Nobody needs a special day to celebrate love. An escape to a beautiful location with a special someone, or even by yourself is highly recommended, absolutely anytime of the year! Need some inspiration? Here are 10 awesome Asian destinations you can head to for a fantastic experience. All on a budget!

Nothing beats a holiday to a beautiful location with a special someone

Nothing beats a holiday to a beautiful location with a special someone

#1 Budget Destination: Bali

It’s no surprise that Bali has been voted the world’s best island year after year by The International Travel Magazine. From emerald paddy fields to volcanic mountains and crystal waters, every nook of this island breathes romance. While you’re here, plan a romantic dinner cruise or take an exciting trip to an active volcano!

Budget Holiday Indulgence: Splurge two hours on the ‘Lovers Spa’ treatment at the Sejati Spa at Bagus Jati Wellbeing Resort. In addition to a face and head massage, it includes a foot salt bath, Balinese body massage and a herb pouch treatment.

 

Indulge in a massage session at the Sejati Spa at Bagus Jati Wellbeing Resort; bagusjati.com

Indulge in a massage session at the Sejati Spa at Bagus Jati Wellbeing Resort; bagusjati.com

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#2 Budget Destination: Singapore

Singapore does not seem like your perfect romantic getaway? We suggest you look beyond the seeming sterility to the colourful tropical parks, quaint alleyways of Chinatown, the elegant dining enclave of Dempsey Hill, and you’ll have the ideal setting for two. If you’re not keen on the thriving club and dining scene, visit the Night Safari Park for a different kind of wildlife thrill!

Budget Holiday Indulgence: The ‘So Well In Love’ treat at So SPA located in The Sentosa Resort. Celebrate romance with a 45 minutes detoxifying body scrub, followed by a couple’s massage in a luxury private couple suite and bath.

Want to holiday in Singapore?

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The SoSpa at The Sentosa Resort can be described in one word- WOW; sofitel-singapore-sentosa. com

The SoSpa at The Sentosa Resort can be described in one word- WOW; sofitel-singapore-sentosa. com

#3 Budget Destination: Maldives

It’s a hit with celebrities from across the globe and has hosted several celebrities, from Christiano Ronaldo to Katy Perry. But the sparkling waters and white sand beaches of Maldives can be yours on a budget! Whether it is exploring the rainbow reefs on a scuba diving adventure, whale watching, or chilling at an underwater night club, make memories that will last you both a lifetime.

Budget Holiday Indulgence: A trip to the Island Spa at Four Seasons Resort, where you can enjoy a massage at one of the secluded couple pavilions or treatment nests.

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Get a night spa by the beach at the The Island Spa at Four Seasons Resort; fourseasons.com

Get a night spa by the beach at the The Island Spa at Four Seasons Resort; fourseasons.com

#4 Budget Destination: Malaysia

Whether you like the buzzing pace of Kuala Lumpur or rolling green tea estates of the Cameron Highlands; whether you want to watch the sunset at Coral Bay or hang with the orangutans at the Gunung Mulu national park, Malaysia has it all. From palaces to snowy fantasy lands, this Asian melting pot will enthrall you.

Budget Holiday Indulgence: A traditional Royal Malay Treatment at the Spa Village at Pangkor Laut Resort in Kuala Lumpur. The package includes massages and an herbal bath in a private garden, after which you can spend some alone time sipping special herbal tea.

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Take us here please? The Spa Village at Pangkor Laut Resort; pangkorlautresort.com

Take us here please? The Spa Village at Pangkor Laut Resort; pangkorlautresort.com

#5 Budget Destination: China

How about a getaway to one of the most mysterious destinations on the planet? From snowy peaks and ancient shrines in Xi’an to modern scenes of Shanghai, you will be amazed at the contrast China offers. Tour the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China, or give in to the temptation to shop till you drop at Beijing.

Budget Holiday Indulgence: The ‘Sense of Romance’ package at the Banyan Tree Spa Ringha, which includes a signature spa treatment for two followed by tea in the spa relaxation lounge. Your private space will include sparkling wine and rose petals.

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Spa cum relaxation lounge at the Banyan Tree Spa Ringha; banyantree.com

Spa cum relaxation lounge at the Banyan Tree Spa Ringha; banyantree.com

#6 Budget Destination: Himachal Pradesh

Imagine curling up by a roaring fire with the mighty Himalayas in the background! Any true Bollywood buff knows that true romance spells pine trees and rolling around in the powdery white snow. Whether it is the tranquility of the Tibetan settlement at Bir, the stunning hiking trails at Fagu or the exquisite stillness of Kareri Lake, the landscapes of Himachal Pradesh will take your breath away.

Budget Holiday Indulgence: One of the signature massage therapies at Wildflower Hall Spa in Shimla. Book a couple’s suite and enjoy their special couple’s massage that promotes togetherness and bonding.

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Luxury with a view at the Wildflower Hall Spa; oberoihotels.com

Luxury with a view at the Wildflower Hall Spa; oberoihotels.com

#7 Budget Destination: Kerala

If you dream of white sandy beaches, mist-covered green hills, or cruising down a highway that is a network of lagoons, then make Kerala your destination this Valentine’s Day. From ancient churches and synagogues to magnificent palaces; from exotic spice plantations to mysterious wildlife sanctuaries, this tiny slice of heaven has it all.

Budget Holiday Indulgence: A Takradhara massage at the Aveda Kumarakom spa. This 60-minute treatment involving special oils and buttermilk is guaranteed to make your skin glow and has a cooling effect on your mind and body.

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Aveda Kumarakom spa, Kerala

A glimpse of the serenity that awaits you at the Aveda Kumarakom Spa, Kerala. Credit; avedakumarakom.com

#8 Budget Destination: Thailand

The ancient kingdom of Siam has long been a huge hit with tourists who flock here for the bustling nightlife, the delectable street food, and budget shopping. But there is so much more to the diverse country of Thailand. From the crystal waters of Coral Island and Pattaya, where you can enjoy a range of sporting activities, to viewing rare and endangered species in Safari World, this will be an unforgettable getaway!

Budget Holiday Indulgence: The Sense of Romance package, which includes a signature spa treatment for two, followed by tea in the spa relaxation lounge. Your private space will include sparkling wine and rose petals.

Want to holiday in Thailand?

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A glimpse of the Anantara Spa treatment suite

A glimpse of the Anantara Spa treatment suite

#9 Budget Destination: Macau

Often considered the Las Vegas of the East, the island of Macau serves up a fascinating mix of Chinese and Portuguese cultures. Whether it is the cuisine or the architecture, this blending of cultures is visible everywhere. Stop by the Venetian and take a romantic ride on a gondola, or get a stunning view of the island from the Macau Tower, where you can also try bungee jumping! The more brave can even try climbing the tower via the ladders, the majority of which are along the outside of the tower.

Budget Holiday Indulgence: Treat yourself to the Exotic Asian Cleansing and Firming Ritual at Bodhi Spa at Conrad. The pampering begins with a body scrub, Moroccan red clay body mask, and a hair mask infused with chamomile, lavender, and bergamot before you unwind in a private steam room

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Pamper yourself at the Bodhi Spa; conradhotels3.hilton.com

Pamper yourself at the Bodhi Spa; conradhotels3.hilton.com

So, whether you are newly in love; have never grown out of it or maybe just need a break by yourself, there is no time better than now! Leave your worries at the doorstep and embark on a beautiful adventure.

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With a total of 680 different species of birds, of which many are considered rare or endangered, Bhutan has a thriving avian life. Come, here’s a look at some of the most beautiful birds you can spot in this mountain kingdom.

Bhutan is a paradise for bird lovers and ornithologists

Bhutan is a paradise for bird lovers and ornithologists

White-Bellied Heron

White-bellied Heron

The world’s largest population of white-bellied herons are found in Bhutan

Did you know? Bhutan now has the largest population of the critically endangered white-bellied heron in the world at almost 47%.

Baer’s Pochard

Baer's Pochard

You can spot the glossy Baer’s Pochard in Bhutan

Named after the Estonian naturalist Karl Ernst von Baer, this glossy diving duck is found mainly in eastern Asia. In 2008, the Baer’s pochard was put on the critically endangered bird species list.

Great Hornbill

Great Hornbill

The black, yellow and white Great Hornbill makes for a majestic sight in Bhutan

Along with the rufous-necked, wreathed, and oriental pied hornbill, the rare great hornbill can also be seen at Morong and Tingtibi in Bhutan.

Satyr Tragopan

Satyr Tragopan

You may see the crimson horned pheasant, satyr tragopan, in the Himalayas

Also known as the crimson horned pheasant, the satyr tragopan is native to the Himalayan region and can be found at Sengor, Namling, Gasa, Koina, Laya, and along the Packhorse Trail near Dochu La in Bhutan.

Fire-Tailed Myzornis 

Fire-tailed Myzornis

If you’re lucky, you will get to spot the beautiful fire-tailed myzornis on a Bhutan holiday

Nestling amidst bamboo thickets, junipers, and Rhododendron shrubs, the rare fire-tailed myzornis, with its emerald-green feathers and a bright red tail, is a common sight in tropical Bhutan.

Rufous-Breasted Bush Robin

Rufous-breasted Bush Robin

The vibrant colours of the rufous-breasted bush robin is a sight for sore eyes!

Found in the forests between Namling and Yongkhala, Deothang and Samdrup Jongkhar, and Gasa-Koina-Laya, the rufous-breasted bush robin is easily recognised by its dark royal blue and ochre yellow feathers.

Himalayan Griffon

Himalayan Griffon

Himalayan Griffon

Also known as the Himalayan Vulture, the Himalayan Griffon is a huge carrion-feeding bird found in the Jigme Dorji National Park during May and June. It is perhaps the largest and heaviest birds found in the Himalayas.

Slender-Billed Scimitar Babbler

Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler

Slender-billed scimitar babbler

This dull brown babbler stands out due to its slender, stunningly curved bill. The slender-billed scimitar babbler can be seen in the forests between Namling and Yongkhala, Damji and Gasa, and along the Packhorse Trail near Dochu La in Bhutan.

Pallid Harrier

Pallid Harrier

The pallid harrier is a medium-size bird of prey that is found in open country

A migratory bird of prey, the pallid harrier is on the near-threatened list of global bird species. The mid-size raptor seen in Bhutan breeds on open plains, heathland and bogs, drifting low to the ground to hunt small mammals, lizards and birds.

Ibisbill

Ibisbill

Ibisbill is apparently a monogamous breeder

Found in the Jigme Dorji National Park and the Bumthang Valley, the Ibisbill is a grey wading bird with a white belly, red legs and downward curved bill. Not very shy of humans, these birds prefer to swim across rivers instead of flying.

Black-necked Crane

Black-necked cranes form long-lasting pairs and are territorial during the breeding season

The last-ever species of crane to be discovered by ornithologists, the black-necked crane is also known as the Alpine Crane. They form small groups and forage on the ground, with one bird keeping guard.

Eurasian Peregrine Falcon

Eurasian Peregrine Falcon

The Eurasian peregrine falcon is highly trainable, with many being bred in captivity

Historically known as the duck hawk, the Eurasian peregrine falcon is an intimidating raptor that preys on smaller birds and bats. This versatile bird is a strong hunter, who mates for life and normally nests on cliffs or even tall buildings.

White-Throated Bush Chat

White-throated Bushchat

The rapid loss of grasslands has led to a reduction in the number of white-throated bush chat

Also known as Hodgson’s bushchat, the endangered white-throated bush chat is a small and shy bird. With a population estimated at between 2,500 and 10,000, this species has been classified as vulnerable.

Ferruginous Duck

Ferruginous Duck

Hunting, habitat degradation has put the ferruginous duck on threatened species list

Boasting of a deep chestnut-coloured plume, the Ferruginous Duck is a medium-size diver duck on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. These birds often feed at night, eating aquatic plants with some molluscs, aquatic insects and small fish.

Pallas’s Fish Eagle

Pallas’s Fish Eagle

Overfishing, pollution and hunting contribute to the decline of the Pallas’s fish eagle species

Also known as the band-tailed fish eagle, the Pallas’s fish eagle is a rare species found in Bhutan. This large, brownish sea is a partially migratory bird feed on fish and smaller sea birds and is listed as vulnerable with a population of 2,500 to 10,000.

Which one is your favourite among these? Tell us in the comments below!

Interested to visit Bhutan?

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Tucked away in the magnificent Himalayas, Nepal is brimming with natural sights and other attractions alike, making it a must-visit place on the bucket list of travellers around the world. Read on as we list down what souvenirs you could pick on your trip to Nepal!

ights like these in Nepal will soothe the weariest of travellers

Sights like these in Nepal will soothe the weariest of travellers

Any visit to Nepal feels like it ended too soon, but there is one way to bring back a slice of the beautiful country with you – souvenirs. There are certain things unique to Nepal, and you have plenty of choices when it comes to picking something as a keepsake from your travels. Here is a handy guide on picking the right souvenirs from Nepal:

Metal handicrafts

Choose from the beautifully carved statues of Hindu and Buddhist idols made from copper, bronze and brass

Choose from the beautifully carved statues of Hindu and Buddhist idols made from copper, bronze and brass

Metal ware in Nepal is abundant, and represents the different faiths of the people of the country in an artistic manner. You can get beautifully carved statues of Hindu and Buddhist idols made from copper, bronze and brass using an ancient method. These statues, available in different sizes, can brighten up any corner in your home, they also serve as excellent gifts for loved ones.
You can even find pieces like hanging oil lamps, water and liquor jars, bowls, etc. available in case you are not keen on buying a statue as a souvenir.

Khukuri

 A khukuri is an excellent handcrafted souvenir symbolising Nepal’s bravery

A khukuri is an excellent handcrafted souvenir symbolising Nepal’s bravery

An instantly-recognisable item, the khukuri (a curved metal knife) is a symbol of triumph and bravery for Nepal, as it represents the Anglo-Nepal war during which Gurkha (Nepali) soldiers fought using this weapon. Buying one of these as a souvenir means carrying home a representation of Nepal’s glorious history.

The khukuris are usually made by local iron smiths and are a popular memento among visitors to Nepal; particularly for those who are collectors of traditional items. However, since it is a weapon, there may be restrictions on transporting such items. Enquire about size limitations beforehand if you plan on buying a khukuri as a souvenir from the country.

Thangka/Paubha

Thangka paintings are known for their intricate details and vibrant colours

Thangka paintings are known for their intricate details and vibrant colours

If you wish to decorate your home with something from Nepal, you cannot miss out on the colourful traditional painting, locally known as thangka (the Tibetan equivalent). These are painted on cotton/fabric scrolls and depict different deities, monuments, and other religious symbols of Buddhism. While buying, do ask about the story sketched on the thangka that you have chosen. The best of these paintings feature ground stone pigments or even gold and silver threads, which give the paintings their vibrant colours. To ensure originality, ask for the painting’s certification number that indicates the artist and place where it was made.

Pashmina

Quality Pashmina is expensive and much in demand the world over

Quality Pashmina is expensive and much in demand the world over

Known in the western world as cashmere wool, the word Pashmina was derived from the Persian word for wool. Cashmere products are highly sought-after, and are made from a fine wool that is taken from the Himalayan mountain goat’s undercoat. Since this animal is found in remote areas of the Tibetan Plateau, Pashmina woollen products are an exquisite item.

Most of these shawls today are woven in Kathmandu Valley handlooms, so a Pashmina shawl makes an excellent and prized souvenir from Nepal. But be aware of fakes since the markets are flooded with those too. Good quality pashmina is quite soft and is made from yarn of at least 97% purity.

Jewellery

Moon And Stars Bodhi Buddhist Prayer Beads in Nepal

Moon And Stars Bodhi Buddhist Prayer Beads in Nepal

Take a look around, and most Nepali women will be sporting colourful beads in addition to silver jewellery. So if you like collecting jewellery pieces, the markets of Nepal are sure to make you happy. The country is known for selling quality silver jewellery at reasonable prices. And if you’re looking for a design of your own – many small, family-owned stores will create the design you want!

There is also a market selling colourful glass beads imported from all over, and it is located close to Indra Chowk. Many visitors opt to buy local beads and create different necklaces.

Rice Paper products

The ‘Lokta’ paper being handcrafted the traditional way

The ‘Lokta’ paper being handcrafted the traditional way

Rice paper, the traditional paper form in Nepal, is handmade from rice husks and the daphne or lokta bark, found in remote areas. Originally used for manuscripts and paintings, it is now an interesting souvenir to buy from Nepal. You will find stores selling rice paper in areas like Patan and Thamel.
Lamp shades, calendars, journals, etc. are some paper products that have been designed for tourists to carry back home easily (the lamp shades are often available in foldable designs). The Babar Mahal Revisited mall also has a store selling these products.

Singing bowls

The Nepalese singing bowl can also be a beautiful decorative item for the house

The Nepalese singing bowl can also be a beautiful decorative item for the house

Since Nepal has many Buddhist followers, visitors can pick up Buddhism-related souvenirs here. One good choice is the singing bowls, often used during meditation and prayers. The metal bowls come with a short wooden stick that makes a vibration with a soothing sound when the stick is rubbed in a circular motion along the bowl’s rim.
There are both machine-made and handmade versions of these singing bowls available, although the handmade ones are comparatively simple and cost more.

What makes shopping in Nepal fun is that there are many options for bargain hunters as well as for those interested in high-end items. In addition, the vibrancy and enthusiasm you get while buying from small local stores is sure to leave you with fond memories of the place!

Nepal Fact File:

Location: Central Himalayas, in South Asia; bordered by China in the north, and India in the south, east and west
Connectivity: Air travel is best, owing to 41 domestic airports, and one international one, Thribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu; accessible from Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand by road and rail; major crossing points are Kakarbhitta, Birgunj, Bairahawa, Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi.
Official Language: Nepali
Currency: Nepali Rupee (NPR)
Time Zone: Nepal Standard Time, UTC + 5:45
Climate: Five different climate zones, depending on the altitude; Tropical and Sub-tropical (below 1,200 meters), Temperate (between 1200-2400), Cold Zone (2400-3600), Sub-Arctic (3600-4400), and Arctic Zone (above 4400m); temperature ranges between -15 to 40 degrees, depending on altitude and seasons.
Food & Drink: Dal-bhat-tarkari (lentils, boiled rice, and vegetables) is a staple for Nepalis. Momos, Gorkhali Lamb, and Thukpa are some must-try dishes. Sugarcane juice, tea, and alcoholic beverages like raksi and millet beer are popular.

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