London: Historical Marvels That you Can’t Afford to Miss

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The historic city of London is strewn with attractions that add to its medieval charm. The city dates back to the Roman times and that’s why it is home to some of the most iconic historical marvels. From the Roman period to the Second World War and beyond, here’s a list of must-visit historical sites in London:

1. The Tower of London

This place dates back to the conquest by the Normans and is a royal residence. From the Royalty to notorious prisoners, this imposing structure documents centuries worth of history. This place was commissioned in the 11th century by William the Conqueror and was used as a prison from 1100 through 1952.

Under Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I, the Tower of London underwent several phases of expansion. Throughout the history of the city, this tower has been used for various purposes such as menagerie, armoury, Royal mint, treasury, and an office for holding public records.

2. Buckingham Palace

Queen Victoria was the first Royal resident of the Buckingham Palace and now, it is home to Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal family. The palace has 775 rooms and was originally built in the 18th century for the Duke of Buckingham. You can tour the palace and witness ceremonies such as Change of Guard.

3. St. Paul’s Cathedral

This is not only an important aspect of the city’s skyline but it’s also an integral part of the history of London. This cathedral was completed in the 18th century and is the fourth cathedral which is built on the same site. The first cathedral was built in 604 AD. The crypt of this cathedral is the final resting place of many British iconic personalities including Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson.

4. Jewel Tower

This is the only remaining building from the original Westminster Palace and is located near the Houses of Parliament. The Westminster Abbey and Big Ben are located just a few minutes away from Jewel Tower.
As the name suggests, this place was originally built for keeping the personal treasures of the King. An additional moat was dug around it as an extra layer of protection. Jewel Tower was also known as the King’s Privy Wardrobe.

5. Westminster Abbey

Starting from William the Conqueror, this place has witnessed all British royal coronation. Formally known as the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, this place is also the burial site for English and British monarchs.

Tourists are allowed to visit the coronation chair of the Royals along with the 600 tombs of the Royalty including Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. The royal weddings are also held here. Since 1100, the place has witnessed at least 16 royal weddings including the weddings of Henry I and Richard II.

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Kerala Tour: Don’t Miss Visiting these Wildlife Sanctuaries

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From rolling mountains, labyrinthine backwaters to sun-kissed beaches, Kerala is a land of vivid topography. However, this is not what Kerala is all about. The God’s own Country is also famous for its rich and vivid wildlife. Here’s a list of wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala that are a must-visit:

1. Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary

Located at a distance of 40 kilometres from Thodupuzha, this wildlife sanctuary is surrounded by the rivers Periyar and Cheruthoni. Extending over 77 square kilometres, the wildlife sanctuary is covered in thick foliage.

Tourists who want to enjoy the scenic beauty of the place can opt for boat rides in the rivers. The animals that are commonly sighted here include wild dogs, sambhars, tigers, and jungle cats. You can also go for trekking in this wildlife sanctuary but for that, you have to take prior permission from the forest department.

3. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Also known as Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary, this place is located amidst the hills of the Western Ghat. Extending over an area of 675 square kilometres, the Periyar lake forms the heart of the sanctuary. It is home to many local and threatened species of plants, animals, and birds.

There are over 1800 varieties of plants, over 171 species of grass, 265 species of birds, and about 35 species of animals. It houses some of the most exquisite wild animals such as lion-tailed Macaques, Malabar Giant Squirrel, and Flying Squirrel. Also, there are provisions for adventure activities such as boating in the lake, trekking, and elephant riding.

4. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

This wildlife sanctuary is under consideration to be selected as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Located near the Tamil Nadu border in Idukki district in Kerala, this sanctuary extends more than 90 square kilometres. This sanctuary is different than others as it receives rain for only 48 days and is, therefore, ideal for a certain type of vegetation.

Apart from the forest of thorny scrub, the highlights of the flora here include the famed sandalwood forest. Watchtowers are located throughout the sanctuary for the tourists to observe the wildlife. You can also enjoy trekking, nature walks and camping inside the sanctuary.

5. Parimbikulam wildlife Sanctuary

Located in the Palakkad district of Kerala, this wildlife sanctuary is also home to four native tribes. There are about 39 species of mammals, approximately 268 varieties of birds, different types of butterflies, reptiles, and amphibians. With watch towers located throughout the sanctuary, you can spot wildlife easily from these towers.

If you are a wildlife enthusiast, this sanctuary is an ideal place for you to watch animals such as storks, lion-tailed macaques, rollers, and king cobras. Trekking inside the sanctuary is also permitted; however, you have to seek prior permission from the forest department. November to April is the best time to visit this place.

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Forts in India that Take you Back to the Charm of Bygone Era

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India is a treasure trove of ancient historical monuments and forts. The architecture of each fort and monuments gives you a sneak peek at the rich culture and tradition of the country.

The structures might have withered a bit but their grandeur has remained intact. Here’s a list of forts in India that will take you back to the bygone era:

1. Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh was the capital of Mewar between 7th and 16th century. The Chittorgarh Fort is brimming with the stories heroism and sacrifice by great Rajput warriors. The fort is also a silent witness of the invasion by Alauddin Khilji in 1303 A.D who was smitten by Queen Padmini of Chittorgarh.

Instead of submitting to the whims and fancies of an invader, the Queen and the women of the court sacrificed their lives in a pyre. Strewn with blood, stories of battles and gore, a visit to this place will surely give you goosebumps.

2. Jaisalmer Fort

Overlooking the city of Jaisalmer, the Jaisalmer Fort is popularly known as Sonar Quila (Golden Fort). Camouflaged with the golden dunes of the Thar Desert, the massive yellow sandstone walls of the fort looks magnificent when the golden sun rays melt on it from dusk to dawn.

The design of the fort is inspired by Islamic and Rajput architectural styles. It is protected by a 30 feet tall wall that has two major cannon points and 99 bastions. Built in 1156 CE, this fort is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

3. Mehrangarh Fort

Built in 1459 AD by Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur, the literal meaning of its name is “Fort of the Sun.” This is among the largest forts in India and offers a 360-degree view of Jodhpur. Rising straight on a perpendicular cliff, Mehrangarh fort is famous for its magnificent architecture.

Though it was built by Rao Jodha, his descendants expanded the structure across 500 years. Most of the fort that stands today was built in the 17th century by Maharajas Ajit Singh. The fort contains several palaces such as Sheesh Mahal, Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, and Daulat Khana.

4. Kangra Fort

This fort is considered as the first fort built in India. Located in the hills of the Kangra valley, the fort is surrounded by mountains. It is said that this fort is also mentioned in the war records of Alexander the Great referring to the 4th century BC.

5. Golconda Fort

Located in Hyderabad, this fort was built by the Kakatiya Kings. The imposing grand structure of the fort is steeped in history. The architecture of this fort is a beautiful blend of Islamic and Hindu styles. Golconda fort is famous for its military architecture and is one of the finest historical monuments in India.

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Scattered throughout the country, these forts are a witness of the glorious past of the country. Planning to visit these places? If yes, then check our India tour packages and grab exciting deals.

Dubai: What Should you Buy from the Shopping Paradise?

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Dubai is the ultimate haven for shopaholic souls. A visit to Dubai is incomplete without shopping. However, choosing what to buy can be really confusing. Don’t worry. We have got you covered. Here’s a list of items and souvenirs that you can bring back home from the shopping haven:

1. Dried Fruits or Dubai Dates

No gift is as sweet as Dubai dates. These are an essential part of the Middle Eastern culture and are widely consumed during Ramadan and are gifted to loved ones. You will get the freshest dates at the Bateel shops or the souks at Deira. You can choose from a wide variety of dates such as Madjool, Khidri, Kholas, and Sokari. You can even try their hazelnut and almond bars.

2. Camel Milk Chocolate

This is an exclusive Dubai delicacy. Camel milk is well-known for its immense health benefits. You will easily find them in kiosks and supermarkets in Dubai. These come in a number of varieties and flavours such as dates, cocoa, and spiced. Some are moulded in camel shape. This is the tastiest things that you can take back home from Dubai.

3. Persian Rugs

Iranian rugs and carpets are a prized possession for anyone. These rugs are quite expensive are famous for intricate design and detailing. You can easily buy Iranian carpets and rugs at the souks; however, if the price is not a factor for you, you can visit and explore the exclusive range of collection by the Persian Carpet House. If you do not like the carpets that are on display, you can have one that’s specially made for you.

4. Oudh and Bakhoor

Have you ever noticed a distinct aroma in the air while you are exploring Dubai? If yes, then most probably you have smelled the traditional Oudh or Bakhoor. Oudh is a fragrant oil and is mainly derived from the agarwood resin.

This scent is available as mixed oil of Oudh, pure oil, or with other floral scents such a jasmine and rose; or as the Oudh fragrance perfume. Bakhoor, on the other hand, is agarwood chips which are burned for producing the distinct aroma. Instead of incense and aromatherapy candle, you can use Oudh or Bakhoor to keep your home smelling good and reminding you of your Dubai sojourn.

5. Attar

Attar is basically essential oils derived from plants. These are alcohol-free and are used by both men and women in Dubai. Buying attar can be pretty confusing as you will find thousands of varieties of attar to choose from. The shopkeeper may help you choose one and if you want to experiment with different mixtures, you can ask the shopkeeper to prepare it for you.

6. Pashmina Shawls

Pashmina Shawls are made using Cashmere which is blended with silk for making this soft and smooth fabric. This can be a beautiful gift for the women in your family.

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Andaman Tour: 6 Must-Visit Places

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The sound of waves crashing on serene unhindered shores, unspoiled flora and fauna, and magical sunsets, Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a place dotted with eye-pleasing views. And if you are planning your visit to Andaman soon, then here’s a list of places you shouldn’t miss:

1. Mount Harriet and Madhuban

Are you a trekking buff? Then do not miss this amazing trek when in Andaman. The 16 kilometres trek will take you to the highest peak in Andaman, Mt. Harriet which is home to thousands of birds. It will take you through the forests of Madhuban where you can explore the rich flora and fauna of the place. If you want, you may also go for elephant safari here.

2. Havelock Island

Known for its pristine beaches and amazing sunset, Havelock Island is home to the Radhanagar beach, one of the most visited and most beautiful beaches in Andaman. The water at this beach is calm and sparkling blue and is best for snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, and boating.

You can also visit the Kalapathar Beach and the Elephant Beach. Havelock Island has plenty of resorts and restaurants where you can get a taste of local food.

3. Baratang Island

A trip to Andaman is incomplete without a visit to the Baratang Island. This lush and beautiful island is home to the Jarawa tribe and is famous for amazing limestone caves and mud volcanoes. Visit the Middle Strait Jetty. This place is famous for its saltwater crocodiles and is one of the prime attractions of the island.

4. Ross Island

Ross Island falls under the control of the Indian Navy and is famous for the ruins dating back to the British and Japanese rule. During that time, it was a penal colony preceding the cellular jail. You can still see the ruins of the state ballroom, the Government house, old Andamanese house, and the Chief Commissioner’s house. From here, you can also visit the Cellular jail.

5. Jolly Buoy Island

Known for its serene beaches, immaculate sand, underwater corals, and crystal blue sea water, Jolly Buoy is the best place to lay back and enjoy the scenic beauty of the coastline. This is a no-plastic zone and is the best bet if you plan to spend a lazy day soaking up the sun. Try scuba diving or snorkelling and check out the vibrant underwater coral formations when here.

6. Rangat

Located on Middle Andaman Island, Cuthbert Bay Beach is the most visited place in Rangat. This is the breeding ground for a variety of turtles such as hawksbill, green sea turtles, olive ridley turtles, and leatherback turtles.

Nothing is as magical as enjoying an unhindered view of new hatched tiny turtles scurrying to the sea. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, a visit to this place is a must.

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