Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jammu & Kashmir Houseboats


The state of Jammu and Kashmir has became a great tourist destination because it has developed and taken care of its uniqueness in a perfect manner. Houseboats in J&K serve as the best meduim to fulfill your dream of staying as close to nature as possible. They have made people's fantasy of living on the water come true. Facing the majestic Himalayas and offering the pleasant sounds of rolling waters, these houseboats are the greatest attraction in Kashmir.

One can experience the stunning beauty of these houseboats and the natural surroundings on Dal Lake, Nagin Lake and Jhelum River. Houseboats as old as 50 years can also be seen in Kashmir. Earlier used by the people of fishing communities only, these boats today are not merely a tourist attraction rather a place where the use of unique Kashmiri handirafts can be seen (in furniture, carpets etc.). They are completely made of wood and provide guests with homely environment, quiet surroundings and enchanting views outside. Quite similar to a fully furnished house, they offer you proper living rooms, drawing and dining rooms, carved wooden furnitures, and beautifully decorated interiors.

Generally you will find two or more bedrooms with attached bathroom, common eating-place and a balcony. The interiors are decorated in typical Kashmiri style with vibrant colors and art. A few boats may have a separate cook boat attached to the main houseboat that serves a variety in Chinese, Continental and authentic Kashmiri dishes. You can find a wide variety of houseboats and you can easily find the one that suits your requirements.

Firdous: These houseboats are very grand and huge in their looks as well as construction. The royal Firdous has three double bedrooms with attached bathrooms, hot and cold water, living room. There are proper facilities for electricity and cooking. The balcony space is big enough to seat a group of friends. The interiors are decorated with Kashmiri handicrafts. The silent atmosphere, breathtaking natural beauty and the homely comfort is capable of providing freshness to any exhausted traveller.

Kushal: Khushal is comparatively smaller than Firdous. It has two double bedrooms and all other desired comforts similar to a three or four star hotel room. The design of the rooms and furniture is unique. It is perfect for family holidays.

Nishat: Nishat is the favorite houseboat for honeymooners. It comprises of one double bedroom and offers all the comforts of privacy, facing the lake.

Kushdil: Kushdil is again the favorite of newly wed couples or honeymooners, and it too has one double bedroom. It has all modern facilities for its guests.

Gulshan: It is a two double bedroom boat with a verandah in front. Meant for family vacations, this houseboat provides outstanding view of the snow clad peaks from the verandah.

Clermont Too: Another two double bedroom boat, the Clermont Too offers vacations with ultimate cozy atmosphere and privacy. It is perfect for those who love to spend their holidays on waters in solitude.

The credit for initiating the trend of living in a houseboat in Kashmir goes to the British residents who were prohibited to own land by the Maharaja of Kashmir. As a result, they built their residences on water. Today, it is more than just a house on the lake. Almost all the major rivers and lakes in Kashmir offer houseboat cruises to the tourists. These houseboats can also be used for shikara rides (simply wandering in the lake), or sunbathing on the top-deck.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ooty How to Get There

By Air
Air Timing at Coimbatore
By Air
The nearest airport is in Coimbatore, 100 km away. You can catch a direct flight to Coimbatore from Chennai, Kozhikode, Bangalore and Mumbai. Indian Airlines flies Delhi-Kochi via Mumbai and Coimbatore.
By Train
Train Timing at Coimbatore
Train Timing at Mettupalayam
By Train
Nearest broad gauge railway head is Mettupalayam (46 kms). Major broadgauge railway junction is Coimbatore. It is connected with all major cities. Mettupalayam to Ooty, is connected by a Mountain Railway which is 4 hours journey.
At a height of 2,600m stands Udhagamandalam (Ooty) the Queen of Hill Stations. The 'Nilgiri toy train' connects Ooty to Mettupalayam, at the foot of the Nilgiris.
The construction of this line was a big challenge as the terrain is rather tricky. It was in 1854 that the first plans were drawn to build a mountain railway from Mettupalayam to the Nilgiri Hills. But it was a good 45 years later in 1899 that the first train chuggd up this track. This itself is a charming blue and cream with wooden coaches and large windows. It is hauled uphill by steam engines, designed and built by the Swiss Locomotive Works. Twelve of such locomotive engines survive even today.

The train covers the 46 km to Udhagamandalam in four - and -a half hours. There are five stations between Mettupalayam and Coonoor - Kallar, Adderely, Hill Grove, Runnymede and Kateri - and, at one time, there were five between Coonoor and Ooty too. Though Wellington, Aruvakkadu, Ketti, and Lovedale are still functional, Fern Hill, the last one, was closed down a few years ago.

Extensive rice fields surround the 7km stretch between Mettupalayam and Kallar. Soon after is an impressive 21 km section through truly rocky terrain. The track passes over 26 viaducts, and twists and bends through 13 tunnels. After a steep climb, the train enters Coonoor, the little hill station known for its tea plantations. From here, the track is uphill till you reach Fern Hill at a height of 2,218m, the highest point on the railroad. Shortly before Ooty, the line dips downhill. If you enjoy taking pictures, keep your camera ready for a few shots of the viaduct between Kallar and Adderley.

This ride is sure to turn the most hardened rail critic into an avid fan. You'll delight in the edge - if -the - seat twists and turns as the train runs across tall girder bridges, and over green hills before gently meandering through rolling tea estates. The exhaust beat of the loco never falters, maintaining a deafening staccato which can be heard for miles around. Truly a journey to remember.
By Road
Road Distance from Ooty
By Road
Ooty is well connected by good roads. It is 535 km from Chennai (via Salem), 89 km from Coimbatore, 18 km from Coonoor (via Gudalur), 155 km from Mysore, 187 km from Calicut, 290 km from Bangalore, 281 km from Kochi (via Coimbatore and Palakkad), 236 km from Kodaikanal (via Coimbatore and Palani)
There is a regular bus service from Bangalore, Mysore, Coimbatore, Calicut, Kanyakumari, Thanjavur, Tirupathi and Cochin. Buses ply regularly to Mudhumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Kotagiri, Coonoor and Doddabeta.
Local Transports 
City Bus, Taxi and and Call Taxi Auto available.

Nilgiris - Mountain Railway
Nilgiris - Fresh Tea
On a heritage track
Tea a Gentle Stimulant