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Kalimpong, West Bengal

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Kalimpong, a pristine hill station in West Bengal, is located about 50 km east of the famous tourist destination Darjeeling. This hill town, overlooking the beautiful Teesta valley, is at an altitude of 1250 m above the sea level and is vibrant with bustling activities. Kalimpong is located at the foothills of majestic Shiwalik ranges in Lower Himalayas. It is believed that until the 19th century the area was ruled by Bhutanese kings and was a forward post of the Bhutanese Army.

Enshrined with ancient Buddhist monasteries, centuries old churches and exquisite revered temples, Kalimpong was earlier a part of Bhutan until it was wrested by British rulers and joined to Indian territory. The populaces in Kalimpong are mostly of Nepalis origin. These people are all migrated to this area in search of job opportunities. Enriched with lush green forests and dense plantations of tea, Kalimpong is really marvelous and awe inspiring.

Kalimpong is renowned for many high quality educational Institutions. Students throng to this town from the entire North Eastern region of India and also from neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Burma and Bhutan to have their higher studies. This town is bustling with flower markets, a major source of orchid flowers in the north east. One can enjoy the view of attractive flowers placed on the sideways of the street and the fragrances of the flowers make you to think about an eternal destination.

Kalimpong is a breathtaking picnic spot and one can view the panoramic picture of the down valley known as Teesta Ranjit Valley from the spot known as 7th Mile View Point. This town is a best place for shopping, one can get items like Tibetan Jewelries, artifacts, copper wares, handicraft items and many varieties of dress materials.

Main Attraction:

Jang Dong Palriffo Brang (Monastery): Dalai Lama consecrated Jang Dong Palriffo Brang Gompa, also known as Durpin Monastery, in 1976 after six years of establishing it. The importance of this monastery lies with the sacred Kunguyar kept here. It contains all 108 volumes carried by Dalai Lama in his exile.

This Gompa is a specimen of Buddhist architectural style with spectacular painting on the walls. This Gompa encloses a main prayer hall and an exceptional upstairs appear in a three dimensional view. Fascinating views of surrounding landscapes and the distant Himalayan ranges make here as an enchanting picnic spot. The fragrance of peace and tranquility flows through the ambience of this Gompa all though the days.

How to reach:

The nearest rail is New Jalpaiguri, which is nearly 67 km away from Kalimpong. Taxi cab will charge about Rs 1,500. This is well connected to most of the major cities in India.

The Kalimpong city is well connected to other cities in Sikkim and the neighboring states by bus services. Private tourist buses are available from Kalimpong to Bagdogra (79 km) and to Siliguri (70 km).

Best Time to Visit:

Summers (April to June)
Autumn (October to November)

Other Attractions:

Neora National Park
Hiking
Rafting

Chiplun, Maharashtra

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The beautiful city of Chiplun is situated in Ratnagiri district in the state of Maharashtra. Chiplun, the name means ‘The abode of Lord Parshuram. The city dwells on the banks of the river Vashishti. Located in the Konkan region, is a beautiful town sandwiched in a valley between the western ghats on one side and the Arabian sea on the other. It is located on the Mumbai-Goa highway in western India.

The city is a link between the western coast and the interiors of Maharashtra and is also a popular stopover for those who proceed towards Goa via Mumbai. It is an industrial town with mostly Pharmaceutical and Chemical industries.

Boating on the Vashishthi river and trekking in the hills around Chiplun are some of the activities which one can involve when on a tour to the place.

Main Attraction:

Vashishti river is one of the largest rivers in the Konkan coast. The river originates from the west part of the western ghats. Boating is a pleasant sport, enjoyed by the visitors and tourists of this place. Fishing is also a famous sport of the river, and crocodiles can be seen on the river occasionally.

Beginning at the western ghats, the river flows westwards into the Arabian Sea at Dabhol. Various tributaries which join the river at Khed and other places can also be seen. Many riverine islands can be seen near the river. The town Chiplun lies on the banks of the river.

How to reach:

Chiplun railway station in the Konkan railway region is connected to Mumbai and Goa. From the railway station to heart of the city is only less than 8 km and it costs only Rs 100 by Taxi. Many Maharashtra Government public buses are operating between Chiplun and many cities nearby. Tourist Volvo buses are regular between Mumbai and Chiplun, costing about Rs. 900.

Best Time to Visit:

Monsoon and Winters (June to  March)

Other Attractions:

Walavalkar Shivaji Museum
Nehru Smriti Udyaan
Marleshwar Temple
Parshuram Temple
Gowalkot Fort

Alleppey, Kerala

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Also known as Alappuzha, is often called as “Venice of east” because of its numerous waterways. These huge networks of lagoons, canals, and lakes are the lifeline of Alleppey. Founded in 1762 by Divan of Travanacore, Raja Keshawadasan, this pristine back water town with its numerous coconut palms lined waterways & tiny villages has a laid back & relaxed feel to it, as you experience all this while sailing on your house boat! Alleppey was amongst the busiest trade centers and it had an excellent port along Malabar Coast. Traders from across the world came searching for souvenirs and black gold. All this was after the British established it as a trade port in the late 18th century to counteract one that was established by the Dutch. Today, Alleppey is still the center for prawn farming and Coir carpet industries.

This town was established on a narrow land spit between Arabian Sea and Vembanad Lake. Paddy fields are plentiful in the area thanks to the manmade islands created by the mud walls. One of the most popular drinks churned out of these fields is the delicious rice wine made here.

Numerous tourists come to Alleppey to enjoy the impressive natural beauty that can be seen there. It is a popular honeymoon destination, a perfect location to spot bird and animal life, and a place to see soak in the many religious historic sites. The mirror like lagoons, palm fringed waterways, sandy beaches, houseboat holidays & the popular boat races are the reasons why tourists flock to this tranquil town on the backwaters.

Main Attraction:

Alleppey Beach is frequently referred to as Alappuzha Beach. There is an old character-filled pier located here that is over 137 years old. Alleppey Beach is one of the most popular beaches of the state of Kerala. One thing that draws people to this beach is the facilities at Vijaya Beach Park. With the Arabian Sea to the west as well as a large network of lakes, lagoons and several freshwater rivers nearby, the beach makes for a picture perfect postcard. The beautiful sand contrasts beautifully with the color of the water, to make for a truly picturesque location & relaxing atmosphere. Picnicking at the beach is one of the best ways to spend the day here.

How to reach:

Alleppey is well connected by train to Cochin and Trivandrum. Alleppey railway station is within the city limits. KSRTC buses are plenty which are connecting all the major cities in Kerala. Trivandrum to Alleppey costs less than Rs 100 and Cochin to Alleppey costs less than Rs 50. Private luxury coach buses are available to interstate destinations like Bangalore, Chennai and Managlore.

For tourists coming from North India (Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai), the best option is to fly to Kochi (tickets are very economical) and continue their onward journey by taxi or bus.

Best Time to Visit:

Monsoon and Winters (August to March)

Other Attractions:

Krishnapuram Palace;
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary