The unique names, the tinge of culture and the age-old stories beckon everyone to delve deep into India’s treasures. We all have that list of must-see places in our country. This year why don’t we stretch the list to include those few others that are yet to gain the touristy spotlight? Here’s a pick of three such places where you can discover India!
Where: Gir Forest National Park (Gujarat)
Have you always wanted to spot that elusive wild animal on a trek? Do you look back constantly while on a one-path walk with the meek hope that you might spot a racoon, if not anything else? Well then, don’t miss out on a trip to Gir. At Gir apart from getting a glimpse of India before monuments, churches and centuries-old temples, you get transported to a time when humanity co-existed with wildlife and before civilization crept in with all its creature comforts.
The forest that covers about 1412 square km is the sole home of pure Asiatic lions that are considered to be protected species. A typical trip around the park will get you to see other wild cats like leopards, jungle cats and rusty spotted cats. The most sighted animal in the park in the Indian spotted deer which is usually found near a water source. Striped hyenas, wild boars, and crocodiles soaking in the mush are also common. For the avid bird watcher, Gir houses more than 300 species of winged visitors, including the Malabar Whistling Thrush, Paradise Flycatcher, King Vulture, and of course the pelicans, all of which are usually spotted round the year.
How to get there?
Gir National Park is 60 km from Junagadh, the most common base for making a visit, and 360 km from Ahmedabad. The main centre is at Sasan Gir, and has a forest guesthouse maintained by the park. One can travel by rail to Junagadh from Ahmedabad or Rajkot and then take a road trip on bus or taxi to Sasan Gir. You have to take a permit to enter the part at the Sinh Sadan Orientation Centre. Visitors are given a driving route for around 35-40 km with the company of an experienced tour guide or a forest official.
TOUCHING THE HORIZON
Some have surmised Dhanushkodi as the place where land ends. A few others have known it for its unique tryst with Hindu mythology. The town that was ravaged in the 1964 storm still provides a premise for tourists to enjoy a calming trip either to take in the cultural dimensions or to simply watch the seas melt into nothingness.
This small town situated at the southern tip of Rameshwaram has a strong mythological connection to Hinduism. Many tourists still visit Dhanushkodi to bathe at the confluence of Mahodadhi (Bay of Bengal) and Ratnakara (Indian Ocean) before beginning the pilgrimage to Rameshwaram. A series of rocks and islets found in a line are believed to the remnants of the ancient Rama’s bridge.
The Pamban Bridge, India’s first cantilever bridge, which was destroyed in the 1964 storm, was closed for metre gauge services after the calamity. However, to establish the much needed link between Dhanushkodi and Rameshwaram the bridge was reopened for rail traffic after conversion to broad gauge. The serene blue and green waters amidst which the bridge stands majestically now are a sight to behold.
It is advisable to visit the island in groups and return to Rameshwaram before sunset. Pilgrims make up a majority of the travellers visiting Dhanushkodi. Since the sea is shallow here one can walk along the Bay of Bengal and witness the colourful corals, fish, seaweeds and sea cucumber.
How to get there?
The most convenient mode of transportation is the railways. The famed Rameshwaram Express which makes for a picturesque ride on the Pamban and carves an illusion of cutting through the turquoise waters is awe-inspiring.
This oldest city in Punjab prides itself in being the place of many historical edifices. The city, believed to have sprung out of the ocean, takes its name from the Daitya (demon) king Jalandhara, the son of the ocean.
The Devi Talab Mandir is a popular religious tourist spot. The famed Tulsi Mandir is known for the pond which is on one side of the temple. The pond is said to be the bathing ghat of the demon Jalandhara.
Do not miss the Gurudwara Chhevin Pathshahi and the Gita Mandir while you are there. The city which was the home of veteran freedom fighter Bhaghat Singh is also the host of the Pushpa Jujral Science City. The St. Mary’s Cathedral Church with its resplendent architecture and the Shaheed-E-Azam Sardar Bhagat Museum at Khatkar Kalan are must-see places. The Nurmahal, tomb of Haji Jamal and Mughal Bridge are the keys to understanding the oriental era’s stamp on the city.
How to reach there?
Jalandhar city Railway Station is on the Delhi-Amritsar railway line. It is connected to direct trains to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Puri etc. There is also a large network of bus services of Punjab, Himachal, Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, U.P., Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan State Roadways, apart from private operators.