|Binsur:Located at a distance of 34
kms. from Almora, Binsar, once the summer capital of the Chand Rajas (7th to 8th
centuries) is one of the most scenic spots in the Kumaon Himalayas and a well acclaimed
Binsar Hills known
as Jhandi Dhar, rise to a height of 2412 mts. and offer an excellent view of Almora town,
Kumaon hills and the greater Himalayas.
The surroundings abound in alpine
flora, ferns, hanging moss and species of wild flowers. The chief attraction of Binsar is
the majestic view of the Himalayas - a 300 km. stretch of famous peaks which includes
Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchuli.
The forests of Himalayan oak and rhododendron
are excellent for trekking and communing with nature.
VEMBANAD LAKE : (Vembanad Lake: one of Asias largest freshwater
lakes). Keralas Inland Sea.
The green state of Kerala, according to legend, was acclaimed from the sea by
Parusuram, one of the redeemer-avatars. The land could well encapsule a geological truth.
Clearly, however, not all the land became dry. One of Asias largest freshwater lakes
still spreads across Kerala. It is called the Vembanad and it acts as a giant reservoir, a
balancing tank against flodds, and a major ecological resource which has conditioned the
flora, fauna and lifestyles of the people who live on its banks.
The boats that ply, on the Vembanad vary from the large stitched-hull, cargo carriers
with domed mat-roofs, now being converted into house boats by local entrepreneurs, to
little skiffs carrying lone line-fishermen with large palm-leaf hats. And all the sizes in
between. Fishing methods also span a wide-spectrum range. On the shallow edges of the lake
you might see women immersed upto their necks in water, terracotta pots floating beside
them. Their toes are busy in the soft ooze of the bottom, searching for the shy but tasty
karameen fish. When they locate them, the women submerge, grab them by their scaly tails,
and pop them into their pots. Or else, a line of fishermen will swim abreast, stretching
strung coconut fronds between them. And behind follow more fishermen stretching a net.
Fish trying to avoid the fronds swim effortlessly into the net.Then again, at night
fishermen glide over the dark waters bearing aloft a flaming torch on their left hands and
a butterfly net in their right. Surfacing fish, attracted by the light, are easily scooped
The wooded banks of the lake attract large number of nesting water-birds and there is a
water-bird sanctuary at the edge of the grounds of an old estate, now converted into a
luxury hotel. Another lake-edge luxury hotel plans to create such a sanctuary. This hotel
is unique. Its suites consist of some of the old, wooden, mansions of Kerala, rescued from
lumber buyers and re-erected in a canal-threaded coconut grove. Visitors draw up to the
reception area of this hotel in a boat and spend lazy days in the laid-back lifestyle of
the people of Keralas Inland Sea.
Bibi-ka-Maqbara : (Aurangabad, Maharashtra).
The Emperor Shah
Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Their son,
Aurangzeb, ousted the Emperor from the throne.
He, possibly, wanted to outshine his father particularly in Shah Jahans greatest
achievement: the immortal Taj. Consequently, when Aurangzebs first wife, Dilras Banu
Begum, died he decided to build a mausoleum for her in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, to
replicate the Taj. His Bibi-Ka-Maqbara, built between 1657 and 1661 stands in a walled
area of 137,000 sq. metres. Though, to the casual glance, it looks very much like the Taj,
this monument has not been made of white marble but is covered in plaster fashioned to
The Manikaran Shrines : (Manikaran, Himachal Pradesh).
At the end of a thrilling mountain road, Manikaran appears on the right bank of the
turbulent Parvati river in Himachal Pradesh. Its houses have the typical slate roofs of
this area and many of the balconies overhang as they do in mountain homes all over the
world. In the village are two temples and a gurudwara.
And out of the earth bubbles water so hot that the villagers and the keepers of the
shrines boil rice, dal, and rice pudding-kheer in it. Water steams and flows in a cloudy
rill, leaving a reddish brown mineral deposit in its course. And where it touches the cold
waters of the Parvati, clouds of steam arise. In the Gurudwara there is a hot cave which
is as warm as if it had been centrally heated.