• Kasi Visvesvara temple with the Mallikarjuna Temple to the left, Pattadakal temple complex, Pattadakal, Karnataka
Hampi in Bellary district, Karnataka. A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hampi ranked second in New York Times’s must-see global destination Hampi in Bellary district, Karnataka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has been ranked second among the must-see global destinations, as per New York Times list of ‘52 Places To Go In 2019’. The ruins of the ancient temple complexes date back to 14th century, notable among which are the Virupaksha Temple and Vitthala Temple. Daroji Bear Sanctuary nearby is home to the Indian sloth bear. Implementation of e-Visa Scheme at Bhubaneswar Airport Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA), Bhubaneswar has implemented the e-visa on arrival service to foreign nationals, in wake of the Men’s World Cup Hockey Tournament held recently. This move is expected to significantly boost the inflow of foreigners in the state. Hot-air Ballooning in Araku, Andhra Pradesh Experience scintillating views as you set out on an exhilarating hot air balloon ride at Araku, the latest eco-tourism destination. Do some ‘glamping’ (glamorous and luxurious camping), explore nature trails, waterfalls, coffee plantations and strawberry farms. Just 100 km from Visakhapatnam, Araku (300 ft) located on the Eastern Ghats, witnessed a colourful Hot air balloon festival recently, in which 15 countries participated.

Sri Perungaraiyadi Meenda Ayyanar Horse Temple

Sri Perungaraiyadi Meenda Ayyanar Horse Temple A trip to Chettinad area is incomplete without a visit to the Ayyanar Horse Temple, at Kothamangalam Village in Pudukkottai district, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, which houses a 37- foot- high painted idol of a mighty horse, with front hooves rearing high up in the air. It is one of the biggest horse idols in the world. Situated on the outskirts of the village, on the banks of the Villuni River, this temple dates back to the 18th century, and is dedicated to Kulamangalam Kuthirai (Horse God). The temple is a symbol of assured protection, health and well being to village folk by the temple deity. During the month of Masi Magham (February-March), devotees throng in multitudes to pay obeisance to the horse god during the 2-day festival also called Masi Magham, which is a significant and popular festival celebrated with great fervour throughout Tamil Nadu. Offerings of gigantic garlands as thanksgiving in gratitude for wish fulfilment are made, making it a huge display of pomp and revelry. These garlands have to be booked well in advance, as garlands as huge as the idol take weeks to prepare. It is important to crosscheck visitor restrictions with temple authorities before planning your visit.

After the Rains Resort, Wayanad

After the Rains Resort, Wayanad Spread over 16 acres amidst tropical rainforests of the Western Ghats, ‘After the Rains’ offers you an experience to discover your connect with nature. On offer are stylish villas spelling luxurious comfort, with stunning views of the misty blue Nilgiris; a swimming pool and lounge; Ahua, an all-day diner serving local and global cuisine; a fishing point, and a pergola affording scintillating views. The surrounding plantations will make you heady with the scent of coffee, pepper, oranges, etc. Look out for birds like Black Eagle, Great Hornbill, Indian Pea Fowl, Asian Houbara, Malabar Grey Hornbill and Woodpecker, the Asian Elephant, Black Buck, Gaur, Indian Pangolin, Leopard, Langur, Tahr, Sloth Bear and the Malabar Giant Squirrel. Quiet by the River, Thodakayam Barely 29 km from Cochin, ‘Quiet by the River’ is an island resort situated on a tributary of the River Periyar. Seven luxurious stone and wood cottages are a blend of tradition and modernity and afford breathtaking views of the lush backwaters. Trek into the woods to check out the Paniyeliporu waterfalls waterfall, or take a dip in the infinity pool or go rafting or fishing. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary nearby offers a plethora of avian varieties for avid birdwatchers.

Hemis Festival, Ladakh

Hemis Festival, Ladakh The Hemis Festival is celebrated to commemorate the birth of the deeply revered Guru Padmasambhava, believed to be the representative reincarnate of Lord Buddha. The courtyard of Ladakh’s largest Buddhist monastery, the Hemis Gompa, comes alive to a spectacular extravaganza of devotion and fervor spread over 2 days. Celebrated on the 10th day of the Tibetan Lunar month, this festival is the most famous and monastic festival of all in Ladakh and witnesses a huge turnout of devotees from all over the world, especially every 12 years when the Tibetan Year of the Monkey is celebrated. Chamms (Lamas or monks), attired in vibrant and silk robes and colorful masks perform boisterous and masked dances and sacred plays derived from myths and legends associated with the Guru. These masked dances essentially symbolize the victory of good over evil, and each mask represents a specific good or evil aspect in Buddhist and Tibetan legends. Extensive vigorous movements and fanciful expressions, on the pulsating rhythm of cymbals, drums and long horns make it a truly spectacular sight for devotees. A significant dance highlight is the Padmasambhava dance representing the invasion of the Ruta demons.

SpiceJet flight

SpiceJet flights to London from Delhi and Amritsar SpiceJet is all set to commence its international operations with the launch of direct flights connecting London with Delhi and Amritsar from March 2019 onwards. It will employ A330 planes on the long routes of 6 hours’ duration or more. Singapore’s Scoot Airlines to begin operations in Coimbatore, Trivandrum and Visakhapatnam Scoot, the low cost arm of Singapore Airlines, will be introducing flights to Coimbatore, Trivandrum and Visakhapatnam during the course of 2019, in an effort to boost passengers in addition to its already operative routes to Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Lucknow, and Tiruchirappalli.

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