Going to India for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas? Why don't you take the opportunity to turn this into a mini holiday?
PBD, which is taking place in Bangalore this year, clubbing it with a quick trip to Kerala or to Rajasthan is definitely possible. Moreover if you are visiting Rajasthan, during the Jaipur Literature Festival, it could be an added bonus.
Kerala, known as the 'God's own country' has a bit for everyone. From Ayurveda to Kalaripattu to Kathakali dance to the House-boats to the Toddy drink, Kerala is a pure green paradise on Earth.
The best time to travel is December-May.
Kerala's history is closely linked with its commerce, which until recent times revolved around its spice trade. Travellers and traders from across the world including the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, French and the British, at some point or the other have entered Kerala to trade, leaving their imprint on this land in some form or the other - architecture, cuisine, literature.
Flanked on the western coast by the Arabian Sea, Kerala has a long coastline of 580 kms; all of which is virtually dotted with sandy beaches.
Kovalam beach near Thiruvananthapuram was among the first beaches in Kerala to attract tourists. Rediscovered by back-packers and tan-seekers in the 1960s and followed by hordes of hippies in the 1970s, Kovalam is today the most visited beach in the state.
The Muzhappilangad Beach at Kannur is the only drive-in beach in India. Marari beach was rated as one of the worlds top five hammock beach by National Geographic survey.
The backwaters in Kerala are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known as the Malabar Coast). Houseboat or Kettuvallam rides in the backwaters are a major tourist attraction. Boat races held during festival seasons are also a major tourist attraction in the backwater regions.
Eastern Kerala consists of land encroached upon by the Western Ghats; the region thus includes high mountains, gorges, and deep-cut valleys. The wildest lands are covered with dense forests, while other regions lie under tea and coffee plantations (established mainly in the 19th and 20th centuries) or other forms of cultivation.
The Western Ghats rise on average to 1500 m elevation above sea level. Some of the popular hill stations in the region are Munnar, Vagamon, Paithalmala, Wayanad, Nelliyampathi, Elapeedika, Peermade, Thekkady and Ponmudi.
There are quite a few wild life conservatories, include Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, Leopards etc.
The State of Maharanas, it is spectacular in January. Pleasantly warm, the holiday crowds have vanished and you can dance through its palaces as if on your own private Bollywood set. Don't miss the jewels in its crown - pastel-hued Jaipur, turquoise-speckled Jodhpur and romantically golden Udaipur - but leave room in your itinerary for a few forgotten treasures: serene Jal Mahal or the lost city of Bhangarh. January also provides the perfect weather for an Arabian Nights-style safari in Jaisalmer, where you can traverse the desert on the back of a camel and sleep under the stars.
Rajasthan is divided into 9 regions; Ajmer State, Hadoti, Dhundhar, Gorwar, Shekhawati, Mewar, Marwar, Vagad and Mewat which are equally rich in its heritage and artistic contribution. These regions have a parallel history which goes along with that of the state.
Major features include the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization at Kalibanga; the Dilwara Temples, a Jain pilgrimage site at Rajasthan's only hill station, Mount Abu, in the ancient Aravalli mountain range; and, in eastern Rajasthan, the Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, a World Heritage Site[ known for its bird life. Rajasthan is also home to two national tiger reserves, the Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur and Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar.
Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmir, Mount Abu, Ajmer, Bikaner are some of the key places to visit.
The Jaipur Literature Festival will take place on 19-23 January- a must for the book lovers.
The past decade has seen the Festival grow into the world’s largest free event of its kind. Having hosted 1300 speakers and welcoming nearly 1.2 million book lovers, its success of has been astonishing and heartwarming.
Equity and democracy run through the Festival’s veins, placing some of the world’s greatest minds, humanitarians, historians, politicians, business leaders, sports people and entertainers from all walks of life together on stage. This free and egalitarian access to these renowned thinkers and writers is a powerful statement in a country where access to such individuals remains the privilege of a few
Founded in 2006, it is the world's largest free literary Festival, and described as "the grandest literary Festival of them all".