Top 4 Places To Visit In Bhopal

Smack bang in the middle of the Indian subcontinent is the giant sprawling state of Madhya Pradesh. And lying in the centre of the state is its unassuming capital of Bhopal. As a tourist destination Bhopal may be considered to have little to offer – when compared to Jaipur or Hyderabad, as it was never the seat of a great empire. And all the major things to see and do in MP like the cultural centres of Gwalior, Khajuraho and Orccha and the tiger sanctuaries of Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench are scattered all over the state, none within convenient driving distance of Bhopal.

Nevertheless, if work takes you to Bhopal or you have family and friends there, it is well worth taking an extra day out to visit the handful of intriguing sights it has to offer. These are almost all on the outskirts of Bhopal so it would be very useful to have a car handy.

Here is our list of 4 best places to visit in Bhopal, which is also known as the City of Lakes.

 

Sanchi Stupa

A wide angle view of Sanchi Stupa in Bhopal
Sanchi Stupa

Just over an hour’s drive from Bhopal is the famous Buddhist site of Sanchi built on a low hill. Sanchi was once a great centre for Buddhist learning and propagation during its period of prominence from the 3rdC B.C. to the 12thC A.D. Although the Buddha never actually visited this place, the great Emperor Asoka built a giant stupa in his honour.

Sitting at the top of the rise like a great stone helmet crowned by a triple umbrella, the stupa is embellished by four toranas (gateways) which are its most distinctive feature. Each torana is elaborately carved with scenes from the Jatakas which chronicles the previous births and lives of the Buddha before he attained Nirvana. These are among the finest expressions of pre-Buddhist art and stand as a lively, decorated counterpart to the massive solidity of the stupa they encircle. There are a number of other ruined stupas, monasteries and temples on the grounds but nothing that compares to the giant stupa.

View of the surrounding area from Sanchi Stupa
Sanchi Stupa

Timings of Sanchi Stupa: The Sanchi stupa is open seven days a week from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM.

Entry Fee of Sanchi Stupa: Entry cost is Rs 30 per adult and Rs 500 for foreigners. You can also visit the small museum with stone artefacts whose price is included within the price of the main ticket.

Also read: The Sanchi Stupas – A Miracle In Stone 

 

Bhojeswar / Bhojpur Temple

Entrance of Bhojpur Temple in Bhopal
Bhojpur Temple

Founded by the legendary Parmar king of Dhar, Raja Bhoj in the 11thC A.D. and named after him, Bhojpur, 28 Km from Bhopal is renowned for the remains of its magnificent Bhojeswar Temple and Cyclopean dams.

The temple sits like a massive army tank at the top of a small rise with a yawning opening revealing the largest Shiva lingam in India. It is 7.5 feet high and 17.8 feet around, and stands elevated on a three-storied limestone platform. The temple was never completed. The dome that was meant to be supported by four massive and intricately carved internal pillars, is conspicuous by its absence.

The gleaming polished lingam sits like an upended cannon shell and completes the overall impression of masculinity and strength. Also of interest in the area are the ruins of two large earthen dams. Stopped with enormous blocks of sandstone, which diverted and blocked the Betwa river it created an enormous lake for the use of the surrounding villages.

Inside the Bhojpur Temple in Bhopal
Bhojeshwar Temple

Entry Fee of Bhojpur Temple: There is no entry fee for the temple and it is best visited during daylight hours.

 

Bhimbetka Rock Shelters:

Tunnel leading to Bhimbetka Rock Shelters
Bhimbetka Rock Shelters

Driving further south from Bhojpur one comes to the fascinating Bhimbetka (the resting place of Bhim) Rock Shelters. This craggy outcrop of sandstone rocks was once submerged under a vast inland sea and the shelters have been formed through aeons of water erosion which have scoured their walls smooth as a pebble.

What is compelling about them is that they exhibit the earliest traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent. Going back to the Stone Age – painted on their walls are prehistoric cave paintings, some dating back to 30,000 years ago. The minute stick figures cover the entire gamut of human existence from hunting to dance, from farming to religion; individuals, families and communities are depicted. Painted with vegetable and mineral colours mixed with oil, several centuries of work by many artists are superimposed on the same rock canvas. Thus this primitive art bears a striking resemblance to similar paintings discovered in the Kakadu National Park in Australia, the Kalahari in South Africa and in the Lascaux Caves in France.

The ancient cave paintings at Bhimbetka Rock Shelters
Bhimbetka

Timings of Bhimbetka Caves: The Rock Shelters are open seven days a week from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Entry Fee of Bhimbetka Rock Shelters: Entry cost is Rs 10 per adult and Rs 100 for foreigners. If you wish you can drive through and pay a higher price but it is advisable to enjoy the pleasant 1.5 Km walk which will take you to all 15 caves.

Also read: Why the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are such a big deal 

 

Tribal Art Museum:

Inside the Tribal Art Museum in Bhopal
Tribal Art Museum

One item on your Bhopal agenda that you must not miss is a visit to the Tribal Museum. This is a relatively new addition to Bhopal’s cultural scene, having been opened only in 2013. It has been designed with a flair and imagination that one does not typically associate with public museums in India. Tribals account for 30% of the population of M.P. and the museum showcases the culture and traditions of the seven major tribes.

As you stroll through the seven galleries dedicated to the art, culture, mythology, rituals and everyday life of the tribals, you are always engaged because of the very realistic presentation of all their motifs and artefacts. For example, the Tribal Life gallery is designed as a courtyard where the homes of the Gonds, Baigas, Bharias, Sahariyas, Bhils, Kols and Korkus are located next to each other. You can enter each one and see how they were built from the original bamboo, grass, hay, mud and dung.

Spend some time in the gift shop which has some interesting handicrafts for sale.

The wall paintings in one of the art galleries in the Tribal Art Museum
Inside the Tribal Art Museum in Bhopal

Timings of Tribal Art Museum: The Tribal Museum is open on all days except Monday from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM (one hour less in winters). Check the museum schedule for the free live music performances which happen from time to time in the outer courtyard.

Entry Fee for Tribal Art Museum: Entry cost is Rs 10 per adult and Rs 250 for foreigners.

Also read: Heritage Sites In and Around Bhopal

 

So make sure these intriguing places to visit in Bhopal form part of your itinerary when you are in the city.

 

About the Author: I think of myself as an adventurer in both my professional and personal life, and travel has always been my pathway to adventure. I truly enjoy engaging with new people, places, and cultures as I believe that this is how one gets to know oneself better. To find out more about me and my travels, please visit www.ranjanpal.com or connect with me on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RanjanPalTravel/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ranjanpaltravel/

 

Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra – All You Should Know About It

The Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is the biggest festival of Odisha, and every year lakhs of devotees from around the world reach Puri to be a part of this holy yatra. It is an 11-day long festival in which the idols are carried in a Rath to a nearby temple and they return after a period of nine days. The Puri Rath Yatra is the oldest yatra in the world and a mention of it can even be found in the ancient Hindu texts – the Puranas. Today the festival is celebrated internationally across 108 cities around the world including places like New York, London, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Kuala Lumpur etc, plus the Indian cities of Kolkata and Mumbai.

The Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is certainly one of those festivals that should be on your must-do at least once in a lifetime bucket list. Here is a low-down on everything you need to know about this grandiose Puri festival.

Also read: Festivals in Puri – the Pomp and Show

 

Puri Rath Yatra Dates

The Rath Yatra commences on the second day of the bright fortnight of the Ashadha month, as per the Odia calendar. This year the Puri Rath Yatra begins on July 4, 2019, and ends on July 15, 2019. In the year 2020, the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra date is June 22, 2020.

 

Puri Rath Yatra History

A Brahmin Purohit offering flowers to Lord Jagannath during Rath Yatra Festival
Jagannath Temple in Puri

Jagannath Puri or Lord Krishna is the presiding deity of the Temple. The story goes that every year Lord Krishna wishes to visit his birthplace Mathura. He is therefore taken to the Gundicha Temple – his aunt’s house, which is 3 km away, along with his brother – Balabhadra and sister – Subhadra. As he is going to his birthplace, his siblings accompany him and not his wife – Goddess Lakshmi, who is left behind in the temple. Jagannath (Krishna) along with Balabhadra (Balarama) and Subhadra go in their respective chariots to the Gudicha temple, and this marks the famous Puri Rath Yatra.

They return on the 9th day, via their Mausi Maa’s house, where they are fed Lord Krishna’s favourite Poda Pitha, a sweet pancake. Poda Pitha is given out as prasad on this day to all devotees. The three deities then return home and are re-installed in the temple on the 11th day, after being decorated and bejewelled with gold.

Also read: 7 Places Resonating Puri’s Culture And Heritage

Chariots of Puri Rath Yatra

The key focus of the Puri Rath Yatra are the massive chariots in which the three deities travel to the Gundicha Temple. These chariots are made from a special wood and only a certain group of carpenters who have inherited this trade, have the authority to make them. The auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya is when construction of the chariots begins.

Lord Jagannath has the largest chariot with 16 wheels and it is 45 feet high and 45 feet broad at the wheel level. It is gaily decorated in red and yellow, the yellow being indicative of the golden robes of Lord Krishna. The chariot of Lord Balabhadra is 44 feet high and has 14 wheels. It is decorated in red and green and has the Palm tree on its flag. While, the chariot of Subhadra is 43 feet high and has 12 wheels. It is decorated with red and black, as black signifies shakti. The chariots are respectively known by the names of Nandighosha, Taladhwaja, and Devadalana.

Each of these chariots have four wooden horses in front. The chariots are attached to long ropes about 50 metres in length, and are pulled by these. This event is also called the Festival of Chariots, because it is a procession of three chariots.

Also read: Your Guide to Puri Rath Yatra – Chariot Festival of India

 

The Rath Yatra Procession

The view of Rath Yatra procession on Puri Festival
Rath Yatra Procession

On the day of the Yatra, in an elaborate ceremony the three deities along with the Sudarshana Chakra, are taken to the chariots. These chariots are already decorated and the King himself sweeps them clean that day. He adorns them with flowers and also cleans the grounds around the chariots. The route is then sprinkled with sandalwood.

The chariots are drawn by priests and devotees who throng the place to get a chance to pull the chariots. Doing so, is considered to be very auspicious. The procession takes place amid the singing of devotional songs, along with the beating of drums, trumpets, tambourines, etc. Children also line the streets and add to the mass chorus. The yatra starts with the rath of Balabhadra, followed by Subhadra and at the end comes the rath of Lord Jagannath.

The return journey after 9 days is called Bahuda Yatra. The procession now begins in the reverse order with Lord Jagannath’s chariot starting out first. The return yatra goes via the Mausi Maa Temple, reaching Jagannath Temple in the evening, and halts outside the temple. The next day the deities are clothed in new clothes and decorated with gold jewels. They are finally reinstalled in the temple on the eleventh day. This marks the end of the Rath Yatra.

 

Other Stories & Facts of Puri Rath Yatra

  • About three weeks before the Yatra, the deities are bathed and then placed in the temple and the doors closed. During this time they are said to be unwell and given time to recover. No one is allowed in the temple during this period.
  • It is said that the Chariot of Lord Jagannath does not budge initially despite hundreds of devotees pulling the chariot. It is only after a few hours of chanting and cosmic efforts that the rath begins to move.
  • The story goes that Goddess Lakshmi – consort of Lord Jagannath who is left behind, is annoyed with him. She sets out to find him, and is taken to the Gundicha Temple 4 days later. On return of the Lord she closes the doors of the Temple and does not allow him to enter. She is finally placated with sweets and she opens the doors on the eleventh day.

Also read: 5 Amazing Things About Puri

 

Jagannath Puri Temple

Idol of Lord Jagannath in Puri Temple
Jagannath Puri Temple

The Jagannath Puri Temple is accessible only to Hindus through the year. However, on the day of the Rath Yatra, everyone has access to the temple. The Yatra also gives non-Hindus and foreigners a view of the deities. These otherwise remain non-viewable for the rest of the year for them.

The idols of the Jagannath Temple are replaced every 10 to 19 years depending on the auspicious date when there is a double month of Ashadha. These idols are carved of specific neem wood. The changeover from the old to the new idols is a big occasion marked with elaborate and secretive ceremonies. Called the Nabakalebar ritual, it was last performed in 2015, and the next one will be held in 2023.

 

How to reach Puri

The nearest airport to Puri is the Biju Patnaik Airport at Bhubaneshwar, which is connected to 13 cities across India including all the metros. Bhubaneshwar to Puri distance is just 60 km and can easily be covered by cab or bus.

Puri is well-connected by trains and bus from different parts of the country. The Puri Railway Station’s distance from Jagannath Temple is 28 km. It is the end point of East Coast Railway. Many Express and Superfast trains ply to Puri from metros and main cities. The Puri Bus Stand is near the Gundicha Temple and regular buses from Bhubaneshwar, Cuttack and Konark ply from here. Bus service to Kolkata, Vishakhapatnam and other cities is also available.

 

Places to Visit in Puri

Besides the Jagannath Temple and Gundicha Temple, Puri has many interesting places to visit. One of the most popular is the Puri Beach which is well-known for its sand sculptures. About 35 km from Puri are the famous Konark Sun Temples, and nearby to it is the Konark Beach. Other attractions in Puri that you should visit are Chilika Lake, Shree Loknath temple, Sakshigopal temple, Raghurajpur artist village and Pipili village.

If you have not yet been a part of the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, lay your plans and set out! This is the grandest celebration of Odisha tourism.

Also read: Experience Odisha – The Land Of Splendor And Beauty

 

Shopping In Puri: Utkalika Is Your One-Stop Shop

One of the things that is so special about India is that every state has its own unique handicrafts. In Orissa, this takes the form of Dhokra metal work, wood carving, silver filigree, palm leaf engravings and much more. So, whether you visit Puri during the famous Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, or otherwise. along with clicking photographs of the beach and Jagannath Temple, don’t forget to go shopping in Puri. And definitely be sure to take back a few souvenirs from Utkalika.

Also read: Your shopping Guide to Puri

 

About Utakalika

Utkalika is a one-stop shop for handicrafts in Puri. This is run by the Orissa State Co-operative Handicrafts Corporation Limited as an Apex Cooperative Society. It is the result of the State Government’s effort to support artisans and co-op societies working with handicrafts. By providing them an outlet to sell their products and marketing assistance, working with handicrafts becomes a more feasible form of livelihood. This helps preserve our handicrafts, too. Apart from the store in Puri, they also organise and attend exhibitions in other cities across India.

 

Utakalika for choicest handicrafts

Kid's toys in handicraft store in Puri
Shopping In Puri

Brass curios and jewellery made using the dhokra technique (lost wax casting) are probably the most well-known handicraft from Orissa. This is used to make vases, curios, ornamental doorknobs, pen stands, boxes and jewellery. One also finds Bell metal artefacts here. Utkalika is well-known for its silver filigree, another metal work. Known locally as Tarakasi, this is an intricate and delicate art form. At Utkalika you can buy small pieces of silver filigree jewellery as well as larger curios such as models of Lord Krishna’s chariot and the Konark wheel.

Stone carving is an age-old handicraft practised in Orissa. The wall of the Jagannath Temple, Konark temple and many other temples have been ornamented with these carvings. Today, stone carvers have turned their attention to creating smaller pieces of art that can be taken home as souvenirs. Similarly, you can also find a wide range of decorative curios as well as utilitarian objects carved out of wood at the Utkalika store.

 

A treasure trove of sarees

Utkalika is also a great place for saree shopping in Puri. There are many different types of handloom sarees available here. While light cotton sarees are ideal for everyday wear, you can find a number of exquisite silk sarees here as well, for special occasions. The Sambalpuri sarees and Kotpad sarees are particularly noteworthy. You can also find hand-painted sarees in the Pattachitra style of art. Some of the other varieties available include the Double Ikat, Saktapada, Khanduas, Passapali, Bomkai, Tarabali and Sonepuri.

 

Indigenous artefacts of Puri

Another interesting souvenir you may find when shopping in Puri markets is buffalo-horn art. This art form involves carving and polishing buffalo horns to create delicate curios as well as utilitarian products. The light-weight and small size of these curios make them ideal souvenirs for foreigners. Another popular lightweight souvenir is a Pattachitra painting. Originally designed for communication, these painted etchings on palm leaves are now a coveted lifestyle product. Most of these paintings follow a mythological theme.

Last but not least, you can also find Sabai grass artefacts in Utkalika. While the furniture and carpets may be a little too big to carry home, you can find smaller mats, baskets and coasters that will fit into your suitcase. These are also great gifts to keep handy.

Also read: 7 Places Resonating Puri’s Culture And Heritage

 

Shoonya Festival: Your Perfect Weekend Getaway Destination In Himachal

Have you ever celebrated ‘nothingness’? No? Take that much needed weekend getaway to Jibhi in Himachal Pradesh. Celebrating the joyful discovery of inner contentment, Shoonya festival promises to take you on a soulful journey of self-healing and exploration. Here is all you need to know about Shoonya:

What is Shoonya?

It is a 3-day annual festival that takes place in Jibhi, Himachal Pradesh to celebrate ‘nothingness’. The festival encapsulates the essence of self-awareness through mindfulness. You get to participate in workshops, and activities. Enjoy evenings with music. Celebrate self healing.

What are Shoonya 2019 Dates?

People at Shoonya Festival 2019
Shoonya Festival

This year, the dates of Shoonya festival are June 21, 2019, to June 23, 2019. The festival will start from 1:00 pm onwards on June 21.

What To Expect at Shoonya?

Mandala painting workshop at Shoonya Festival
Shoonya group

The Shoonya Festival in the Himalayas is all about the celebration of ‘nothingness’. Get into this 3-day festival with a plethora of curated activities and experiences. The workshops around mindfulness activities including Mandala making, Drum Circle, Yoga, Sound Healing, Meditation, Cosmic Healing, Zumba classes, Upcycling waste, Sharing Circle, Community Kitchen, Letter Earthlings, Nature Walks, Fire Walk, Storytelling, Poetry recitals, EDM and many self-exploration activities. Feel alive with musical line-up aligning with the sounds of rivers flowing nearby.

 

Can I Attend the Festival?

Dance at Shoonya Festival
Shoonya in Jibhi

Anyone above 18 years of age who would like to go on a soulful journey of self-exploration can join. Anyone who is below the age of 18 needs to be accompanied by an adult. Shoonya awaits you if you are ready for some self-healing. Be a part of this festival to share your passion for knowing self with others.

Where Can I Book The Tickets of Shoonya 2019?

Only 100 tickets are available. Visit their online website – https://projectshoonya.com/ and get your ticket to 3 days of exploring the ‘nothingness.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Book your ticket and your self-exploration journey begins!

 

Top 4 Tourist Places In Karnataka For Your Itinerary

ev.From ancient ruins to modern day wonders, laid-back towns to commercial cities, Karnataka is a state defined by its diverse cultural and social fabric. Whether you are a backpacker or an indulgent tourist, you will find myriad experiences in this South Indian state to satiate the traveller in you.

If you are looking forward to the best experiences, book a Karnataka tour package. And make sure you cover the following cities.

 

Coorg: For Hill Station Lovers

Beautiful mountain ranges in Coorg, Madikeri.
Coorg

A quaint hill station in Karnataka, Coorg amazes you with its fascinating mountains, stunning waterfalls, and aromatic coffee plantations. As a result of it being a hill town, it has a serene and tranquil ambience. There are many thrilling treks in and around Coorg for travellers who seek an adrenalin rush. The Brahmagiri Peak, and Chettalli are a few instances of this. Also, many activities like coracle rides, visit to elephant camps, and exploration of wildlife sanctuaries can be enjoyed in Coorg. Many Bangalore tour packages include Coorg as a one-day excursion.

Major Attractions in Coorg:

Popular places to visit in Coorg include Abbey Falls, Iruppu Falls, Harangi Dam and Namdroling Monastery. Animal lovers must visit the Dubare Elephant Camp and Nagarhole National Park.

Shopping in Coorg:

You must buy coffee, handmade chocolates, homemade wines, and organically grown spices from Coorg. These are available across the town at a variety of shops.

 

Bangalore: For Those Who Enjoy City Life

Skyline of Bangalore city
Bangalore

Think of Bangalore and you will come up with a couple of definitive ideas that would revolve around IT industry, fantastic weather, gardens and parks, young crowd and superb cafes. The city is defined by its cosmopolitan vibe as well as its rich cultural history. It offers delightful food and is home to some chic pubs. If you have booked a Karnataka tour package, you are sure to have Bangalore listed on your itinerary.

Major Attractions in Bangalore:

The prominent places to visit in Bangalore include Lal Bagh, Cubbon Park, Bangalore Palace, Tipu Sultan’s Palace and Fort, Ulsoor Lake, and KR Market. Wonder La Amusement Park, Aerospace Museum, as also the Bannerghatta National Park.

Shopping in Bangalore:

For purchasing clothes, imitation jewellery, and footwear, Commercial Street is the go-to place. You can buy silk sarees from Chickpet, and find branded stuff on Brigade Road. For purchasing artwork, sculptures and pottery items, visit Jayanagar 4th Block market.

 

Hampi: For Those Interested In Architecture & History

Romantic landscape of Hampi at sunset.
Hampi

The barren beauty and stony landscape of Hampi makes it a quintessential spot for architecture and history buffs. This small Kannada village in Karnataka is located on the banks of Tungabhadra River. Now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has more than 500 architectural structures. These date back to the 14th-century and lie stretched over 10 miles. Hampi often leaves travellers awe-struck with its craftsmanship of the bygone era. You can feel the incredible energy of this ancient place.

Major Attractions in Hampi:

The major crowd pullers in Hampi are the Monkey Temple, Vijaya Vittala Temple, Archeological Museum, and Virupaksha Temple. There is also the Royal Enclosure, Queen’s Bath, and Riverside Ruins.

Shopping in Hampi:

In the main bazaar of Hampi, you can shop for stone artefacts, and bags, jewellery and belts made by Lambani women. Moreover, leather goods, music instruments, banana fibre crafts can be bought from the bazaar near Virupaksha Temple.

 

Gokarna: For Beach Bums & Pilgrims

Om beach in Gokarna
Gokarna

The serene shoreline and delectable seafood make Gokarna a must-visit beach destination in Karnataka for those seeking a relaxing beach holiday. It is a small, laid-back town not yet taken over by commercial gimmicks. It offers you a peaceful and laid-back vacation. You can chill out on the pristine beaches, ride a catamaran, as well as indulge in some water sports.

Gokarna also attracts pilgrims from across the country. It is a major Hindu pilgrim hub with prominent Shiva and Ganesh temples.

Major Attractions in Gokarna:

Om Beach is the most popular place to visit in Gokarna. Other beaches are Paradise Beach, Half-Moon Beach, Kudle Beach and Gokarna Beach. Moreover, for religiously inclined tourists, Maha Ganpati temple and Mahabaleshwar temple are major attractions.

Shopping in Gokarna:

You can buy souvenirs like brass lamps, picture frames of Gods and Goddesses, prayer beads, incense sticks and other religious items from various street stalls. Other than this, decorative items or jewellery made from seashells can be bought. Kallusakkare, a locally produced sugar candy is a speciality of Gokarna, and a must try.

 

We hope that the above information comes handy when you decide to finalise your Karnataka tour package. Have a wonderful trip and make sure to cover the best places in Karnataka!

 

 

Top 10 Things To Do In Queensland For A Fantastic Holiday Experience

Queensland in the Northeast of Australia is the country’s second-largest state. It is flanked by 7000 km of coastline and is most famous for The Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest coral reef system. Peppered with tropical islands, pristine beaches, lush rainforests and vibrant cities, Queensland has become a tourist magnet. Travellers can enjoy an array of exciting activities in Queensland from whale watching, wine tours to snorkelling, surfing and much more.

Also read: Top 3 Attractions In Queensland – Australia For Families

If you are planning a holiday to Australia, make sure Queensland features high on your agenda! Here are top 10 things to do in Queensland that guarantee a fantastic holiday experience.

 

1. Visit the heart of the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays

A plane on the beach of Whitsundays
Whitsundays

Australia brims with pretty islands that dot its coastline, but most popular are the Whitsundays, a group of 74 islands that lie in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the islands are forested national parks that boast sandy white beaches and colourful reefs. There are fully developed tourist islands like Hamilton Island that cater to budgets from 4.5 star to 7 star. The newly reopened Daydream Island is also a great spot to base yourself in the Whitsundays. However, if you want to get a taste of the mainland as well, head to the Airlie Beach. And if you are looking for luxury in isolation, Hayman Island is for you.

Sail among the Whitsunday islands and discover a new island everyday. Enjoy its secluded beaches or explore the many dive and snorkeling spots. You can even take a scenic flight across the islands to take in the mesmerizing aerial views. Enjoy a picnic on Whitehaven Beach, one of the world’s cleanest beaches. And a must-do is a scenic flight over the heart reef.

Travel tip: You can hire your own private boat through the islands, or else take a boat with a full crew and watch the islands float by as you sip on champagne.

 

2. Take a Self-Drive Trip along the Queensland coast

Road Trip along the Rainbow Beach on Queensland coast
Rainbow Beach

Queensland with its diverse and spectacular natural beauty, smooth roads and great connectivity is the perfect place for a road trip. You can hire a car, a 4 X 4 or a camper-van and set off on a journey down its winding roads. Throw in a 4WD and make the holiday more adventurous. Choose from mesmerising coastal drives to Heritage listed rainforests, from red dirt tracks to exploring the adventurous Outback, the choices are many.

One of the popular self-drive road trips is from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast. A glorious stretch of 120 km of coastline from Bribie Island in the south to Rainbow Beach, near Fraser Island, in the north. The golden sands are set against a backdrop of rolling green hills, peppered with quaint villages and mystical volcanic mountains. You can go up to Noosa to indulge in some hedonistic pleasures.

Another scenic trip is from Cairns to Port Douglas. The drive takes just over an hour past sandy stretches, lovely views of the Great Barrier Reef and lush green rainforests. You can go right upto Daintree National Park in Cape Tribulation.

Travel tip: If you want to do a longer trip, you can take the drive from Brisbane right till Cairns.

 

3. Get a real taste of Australia in Brisbane – the capital of Queensland

A couple spending the evening at Eat Street Brisbane
Brisbane

The lively capital of Queensland is a bustling river city, cohabited by high rises and botanical gardens in the CBD. A contemporary hub of culture, art, fine dining and entertainment, Brisbane is also the gateway to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.

Howard Smith Wharves located along the Brisbane River is the city’s newest entertainment and lifestyle destination. The site’s unique position beneath the Story Bridge, gives scenic city and river views that add yet another cultural dimension to this vibrant city. Loved by its residents and visitors alike; it is a place to connect and celebrate the best of what Brisbane has to offer.

The most instagrammable food market in Australia would hands down be Eat Street Northshore. A waterfront setting of about 180 shipping containers of eats and entertainment in Hamilton, and a 20-minute cab ride from the CBS. A budget dining hub for the whole family it offers lovely sunset views over the river and city skyline. It has two entertainment stages, an outdoor cinema, and the widest variety of international cuisines imaginable. Brisbane is indeed the perfect place to sample the awesome food and wine of Queensland.

If you are a culture enthusiast head across to South Bank, its hub of theatres, world-class museums and local events. Don’t miss the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary when in Brisbane. Just a 20-minute drive brings you to the world’s largest koala sanctuary, that houses more than 130 of these cuddly creatures.

Also read: 7 things you must do in Brisbane

Travel tip: Other places to visit in Brisbane include the Story Bridge, Brisbane Botanical Gardens, Wheel of Brisbane, Queensland Museum and Science Centre, and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.

 

4. Experience Snorkeling and Diving

Couple SCUBA diving in Queensland
SCUBA Diving

Queensland with its clear warm waters and rich marine life is a diver’s paradise, that offers diving experiences the year-round. You can enjoy snorkelling and diving at the Great Barrier Reef or even shipwreck diving in Southern Queensland. Opt for open water dives, night diving, specialist dive and live aboard tours or even get PADI certified .

You can choose to take a Reef Cruise – a luxury sailing and snorkeling cruise. Else enjoy a unique snorkeling experience in the rainforests where platypus live. Anywhere you choose, a colourful kaleidoscope of shoals and sea creatures await you.

The Great Eight of the Australian undersea can be sighted in the Great Barrier Reef that includes manta rays, sharks, turtles, giant clams, whales (humpbacks and minkes), clown fish, potato cod and Maori wrasse.

Travel tip: For the best dive site, head to Lady Elliot Island (north of Fraser Island) for its unspoilt coral reef and astounding array of marine life. This site is considered among the top ones in Australia for diving and snorkelling.

 

5. Bask at Queensland’s top beaches

A couple basking under the sun on Whitehaven Beach
Whitehaven Beach

Queensland is known for its miles and miles of sandy white stretches that will give you many pinch-yourself moments. Soak in the panoramic sea views, indulge yourself at the luxury beach-side resorts or embark on exciting water adventures. Drive down the Great Beach Drive from Sunshine Coast to Rainbow Beach in a 4 X 4, go surfing on the Gold Coast, else sit back and watch the sunset amid the swaying palms of Palm Cove or Port Douglas.

Queensland boasts some of the best beaches in the world! Be it the famous Whitehaven Beach in Whitsundays or the renowned Nudey Beach on Fitzroy Island. The stunning Whitehaven Beach lapped by turquoise waters, stretches 7 km. Dig your feet into its soft powdery sands, and to take the best photographs head to the adjacent Hill Inlet Lookout. The Nudey Beach is just a 45-minute ferry ride from Cairns on Fitzroy Island and a trek through lush rainforests brings you to this lovely expanse.

Some of the other popular beaches where you can also try your hand at surfing are the Surfers Paradise Beach in Gold Coast or the Noosa Main Beach in Sunshine Coast.

Travel tip: If you are an experienced surfer then Snapper Rocks or the Burleigh Heads Beach is for you.

 

6. Go whale watching in the Gold Coast

Whale watching in the Gold Coast
Gold Coast

If you are fascinated by these quaint aquatic creatures – then Queensland is just the right place to go on a whale watching tour. The period between June to November is when you can sight different types of whales along the coastline. The Humpback whale that is the size of about 11 elephants, is the most surface active and an admirable sight to behold.

The warm coastal waters of Queensland are a migration site for Humpback whales from Antarctica. Almost 17000 of these whales migrate during June to November and are increasing each year. These whales can be sighted during this period along the Gold Coast. Whale-watching cruises are very popular here at this time. Many of them offer a complete luxury experience with a guaranteed whale watching experience.

Between July to October the Humpback whales can also be sighted along the Sunshine Coast. You can spend a day snorkelling with these lovely creatures here. The Minke Whales can be spotted around the Great Barrier Reef for a brief period between June to July.

Travel tip: Hervey Bay, near southern Queensland, is called the whale watching capital of the world, as it is a focal point of the whale migration.

 

7. Have fun at the Theme Parks

Thrilling ride at the Movie World
Movie World

Gold Coast is the theme park capital of Australia, making it a popular destination for families and young people. Queensland has world-class theme parks with crazy rides, fun slides and lively entertainment options for everyone. From Dreamworld in Coomera to Wet n’ Wild in the Gold Coast, from Warner Bros Movie World to Sea World & White Water World, you will be spoilt for choices.

Get an adrenalin rush on a roller coaster ride, or discover the world behind your favourite movies, or watch amazing shows that leave you fascinated. Get a chance to get up close with animals of the wild, from a swim with the dolphins, to petting a tiger cub, to cuddling cute koalas, or encountering polar bears.

Travel tip: If you are looking for the scariest rides, a must do is the Hypercoaster in Movie World that is Australia’s fastest, highest rollercoaster.

 

8. Tour a National Park

Waterfall in Lamington National Park
Lamington National Park

Queensland is blessed with over a 1000 parks and forests, and taking a getaway into the lap of nature is easy. Head out to its beautiful forest trails and Great Walks. Amble into amazing underground lava tubes, or explore its glittering waterfalls. You will encounter many of its indigenous wildlife too.

Two of its rainforests are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Daintree Rainforest is one, and it is also the world’s oldest rainforest, said to be 135 million years old! The other is the Gondwana Rainforest, the world’s most extensive subtropical forest. It has spectacular hiking trails replete with waterfalls.

Take the Gold Coast Hinterland Walk that stretches across 54 km. Pass by an ancient volcano, rainforest hills and the Lamington and Springbrook national parks. Else go for the Sunshine Coast Hinterland or the trekkers’ favourite – the spectacular Cooloola Wilderness Trail.

Travel tip: Pick up a car and drive from Gold Coast to Mt Tamborine and onto Springbrook National Park. If in Cairns drive from Cairns to Daintree and Cape Tribulation.

 

9. Soak in the Aboriginal Art & Culture

 Tjapukai show in Cairns
Cairns

Queensland is where Australia’s Indigenous culture abounds. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait culture of the country dates back over 40,000 years and is followed even today. The dance, art and traditional feasts of these people are still alive here. You can take up an Aboriginal tour to get a first-hand experience of the people and their culture. Else you can see a spattering of their works at different places.

Soak in a unique cultural experience at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park in Cairns, that narrates the stories of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people through music and dance. Enjoy the art, performances, food and dance of the Aboriginals.

Take on an interactive session at Dreamworld Corroboree that showcases Australia’s Indigenous people, and their close connection with the land and animals.

At the Mossman Gorge Dreamtime Center join a guided walk by the Aboriginals, and hear their ancient stories and legends. View their significant sites and trees, and gain many insights on their daily living. Moreover, enjoy the beauty of the stunning rainforest.

Travel tip: You can join interactive workshops and get a hands-on learning experience to paint, weave and dance like these tribesmen in Brisbane and Cairns.

Also read: 10 hidden facts about Australia that would make you want to visit it right away!

 

10. Must visit Cairns

View from Skyrail Cairns
Cairns

Cairns is famed as Australia’s nature capital, thanks to its easy access to the country’s two world heritage sites and major attractions – the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. That also makes it the adventure capital of the country, and it brims with nature and adventure experiences.

You can take a trip to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway that offers a scenic 7.5 km ride above the Barron Gorge National Park, a World Heritage Area. Else go on a Daintree River Cruise to spot crocs or head to the Smithfield Mountain Bike Park. Have some family fun at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon that is lined with cafes and bars, and has a swimming lagoon. Else head to the Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome. It offers zip lining and rope climbing, with interactive koala and crocodile shows. There are plenty of things to do in Cairns.

Travel tip: Northwest of Cairns, lies the Daintree National Park marked by verdant mountainous rainforests, beautiful gorges and delightful beaches. Inland you can visit the famous waterfalls like Josephine waterfalls & Babinda boulders and also spend some time at Paronella Park.

 

How to Reach Queensland

You can take a direct flight to Brisbane, Cairns or the Gold Coast to reach Queensland. These cities have international airports and are well-connected to most of the major cities around the world, as well as within Australia. There are 14 other regional airports for internal flights, if you are travelling from another part of Australia. Self-drive car rentals are another popular way of travelling from within the country. You also have the options of bus, train and ferries/cruise to reach Queensland.

So take your pick from our list of top things to do in Queensland and have a fantastic holiday in Australia!

You may also like: 10 Australian Experiences That Will Put Australia On Your List of Favorites

 

What Makes Digha Gate An Architectural Masterpiece

The town of Digha in West Bengal is well-known for its impressive Digha Gate. Although a small coastal town, the entry to Digha is anything but small. The massive gate is an architectural masterpiece and the pride of the entire state of West Bengal. Digha is also home to one of the most famous beaches in the state.

 

History of Digha

Digha, the town, was known as the Brighton of the East before being renamed Digha. In 1923, an English businessman by the name of John Frank Snaith lived in this beautiful town. Recognising the beauty of Digha, he urged the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, to pour resources into giving this small town a makeover. Today, it is a tourist attraction for many who visit the state of West Bengal.

 

Architecture of Digha Gate

The shape and architecture of the Digha Gate is stunning. A single glance is sufficient to realise the immense skill and talent that went into creating this unique edifice. The shape symbolises a boat. The gate is a tribute to the fishermen who risk their lives every single day in order to earn their livelihood. The Digha Gate is made of steel and concrete. The construction of the gate was completed in November 2014.

 

Digha Gate Area

The gate is not a standalone monument. There are water structures on both sides and fantastic landscaping round the entire area. The Digha Gate has become more than a landmark structure, it is a beautiful spot for a family outing as well. The gate also has some spectacular lighting. The alternating blue and white lighting, which is visible at night only, symbolises the water. There are two smaller gates situated on both ends of the Digha Gate.

Things to do in Digha

Digha Beach during the sunset
Digha Beach

Digha is a beach town. That, in itself, is the biggest USP of this quaint little town. So if you are planning to visit the Digha Gate, you should also set some time aside to visit the actual town. Apart from the lovely Digha Beach, there is a church in Digha, which is definitely worth a visit. Amrabati Park is another great place in Digha that you must visit.

Lord Shiva Temple, located in Chandaneshwar, is just 8 km from the town. This temple is quite famous and devotees from all over Bengal and Odisha come to pay their respects. If you are driving to Digha, you won’t have to worry about transportation. Otherwise, you can hire a local rickshaw to take you around various places in town.

The Marine Aquarium and Research Centre at Digha is a great place to learn more about the marine life of the area. The research centre is quite active in exploring more about this region’s biodiversity.

An offbeat holiday town with an architectural wonder – as the Digha Gate – is sure to have you laying down your weekend plans. Get going!

 

Your Travel Guide To Alabama And Its Top Cities

Alabama is often viewed as a laid-back state in southern USA. But this is no longer true, as Alabama has now transformed into a happening tourist destination with a perfect mix of interesting activities, innumerable attractions and luxury accommodations. Whether you are travelling for a solo holiday, a romantic getaway or a family vacation, Alabama will not disappoint you.

The state is not only rich in culture and history but also offers breathtaking beaches, waterparks, theatres, breweries and gardens. To explore Alabama at its best, you need to traverse through its beautiful cities. You can also book Alabama holiday packages for a hassle-free vacation. Here is a quick guide on Alabama, its top cities, travelling around and the best time to visit.

 

Top Cities to Visit in Alabama

 

New Orleans

Pubs and bars with neon lights in the French Quarter of New Orleans
New Orleans

Eat, Drink and Make Merry is the motto of New Orleans. The hometown of Jazz, the city is filled with beautiful rustic buildings, urban lore, round-the-clock nightlife, vibrant live-music scene, street festivals, and gore. It is also the melting point of French, African and American cultures, and that reflects in its spicy Creole cuisine.

The main attraction of New Orleans is the French Quarters. It is called the crown jewel of New Orleans and is one of NOLA’s most historic neighbourhoods. When in New Orleans, you can enjoy the Bohemian charm, the history of Jackson Square, Steamboat cruises, drinking at Bourbon Street, old-world architecture, and mouth-watering cuisine at the century-old restaurants.

 

Mobile

Cityscape view of downtown Mobile, Alabama
Mobile

Once called the Paris of the South, Mobile is known for its southern charm and hospitality. It is the cultural hotspot of the Gulf Coast filled with fun, sophistication and southern charm. This coastal town has a vibrant 300-year-old history and tradition that is narrated and celebrated on a regular basis. If you want to experience the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the US, this is your place to be.

There are many tourist attractions in Mobile that you can visit. For example, Historic Fort Conde, Bellingrath Gardens, Battleship Memorial Park, Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, to name a few.

 

Birmingham

Birmingham was founded in the late 1800s as the leading producer of iron and steel. It now it stands as a sophisticated and diverse city which is famous for southern hospitality. The city has an influence of both deep south culture and upper south influence, which is reflected in its museums and art galleries.

Some of the favourite places to visit in Birmingham include the Birmingham Civil Rights Center, Birmingham Zoo, Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and McWane Science Center.

 

Nashville

Neon signs on Lower Broadway Area in Nashville
Nashville

If you like listening to music, then Nashville is your place to be! The Music City of the US, Nashville is famous for its one-of-a-kind music scene. Nashville is said to be the city built on music, and this is reflected in its cultural, business and social fabric. Hit Nashville’s popular attractions with the constant sound of live music on every street.

While here, explore the classic architecture at the Parthenon in Centennial Park or enjoy nature’s music at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. Don’t forget to visit Nashville’s most visited attraction – the Johnny Cash Museum. The people of Nashville love their steaks, which is evident in the large number of steakhouses that dot the city. To explore the music scene, nature’s beauty, the great outdoors and the rich history of Alabama, do include Nashville in your Alabama holiday package!

 

Montgomery

A fountain in the downtown cityscape of Montgomery
Montgomery

Famous for being the primary seat of the great Civil Rights movement, Montgomery is an important destination for history buffs. This thriving little town is home to many historically significant places, for instance, the black granite Civil Rights Memorial, the residence of Martin Luther King Jr, and Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

If you are not too much into history, the city has no shortage of tourist attractions such as the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery Zoo & Mann Wildlife Learning Museum, and The Alabama Capitol Building.

 

Memphis

Hernando de Soto Bridge in Memphis
Memphis

A mix of old and the new, Memphis offers the charm of the Old South along with the pace of a modern metropolis. Memphis’ claim to fame is being home to Elvis Presley’s mansion – Graceland. This is where he lived in his later years. Memphis is also considered as the home of the Blues by many.

If you are visiting Memphis as a tourist destination, spend your time in its Downtown. Explore the nightlife of the famous Beale Street, get a beautiful view of the Mississippi River from Tom Lee Park, walk through the charming neighbourhood of South Main, and have fun at the Mud Island River Park. Moreover, don’t forget to visit Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum showcasing the birth of rock and soul music.

 

Huntsville

Inside Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville
Huntsville

Made popular by the Bollywood movie – Zero, Huntsville is also home to the famous US Space and Rocket Center, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command.

If you think Huntsville is only known for being the Rocket City of the US, you are wrong. The city is abundant in flora and fauna and boasts many mountainous and nature trails, as well as a Botanical Garden with a butterfly park. The full bloom azaleas around stone cabins are the main draw of Monte Sano State Park. You can also visit the 1930s Burritt Mansion, and restored 19th-century buildings.

Also read: Attractions Of Huntsville In Alabama That The Movie Zero Made Famous

Book your Huntsville City package now

 

Popular Tourist Attractions In Alabama

Tourist Attraction City Must Visit For
US Space and Rocket Center Huntsville For space and science enthusiast of all ages
Civil Rights Memorials Montgomery For history enthusiasts
The Museum of Alabama Montgomery For history enthusiasts and family
Mobile Bay Mobile, Gulf of Mexico For scenic beauty
Birmingham Museum of Art Birmingham For art lovers
Gulf State Park Gulf Shores For campers and day-trippers
The French Quarters New Orleans For party enthusiasts
Monte Sano State Park Hunstville For nature lovers, trekkers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Birmingham Civil Rights Historic District Birmingham For people interested in the Civil Rights Movement
Johnny Cash Museum Nashville For people interested in the life of music icon Johnny Cash
Beale Street Memphis For people who love exploring pubs and bars
Mobile Mobile For people who want to experience the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the US
Fort Morgan Beach Gulf Shores For beach lovers

 

How To Travel Within Alabama

Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama Road Sign along Interstate 10 in Robertsdale in Alabama
Alabama

Alabama is accessible through air, trains, buses as well as roads.

Air: If you are planning to visit Alabama through flight, Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham is the largest airport in Alabama. It connects to all major cities in the US such as New Orleans, New York, Huntsville, Mobile, Nashville, Memphis, Orlando, Las Vegas, etc.
Moreover, Huntsville, Montogomery and Mobile have their own regional airports.

Rail: Alabama is well-connected through the rail network called Amtrak’s Crescent line. It offers daily service through the state with 19 southbound and 20 northbound trains. These trains connect cities such as New Orleans, Washington, New York, Anniston, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.

Bus: The Greyhound Lines offers bus transportation to cities and towns throughout Alabama. As a result, it is a convenient mode for interstate travel.

Road: Alabama is connected through five interstate highways, and a road trip is the best way to witness the scenic beauty of the state.

 

Best Time To Visit Alabama

Early morning sunrise on the beach in Gulf Shores in Alabama
Gulf Shores

Alabama experiences mild winters. However, the peak season to visit Alabama is in summers during the months of June to August. One can visit the beaches along the Gulf Coast. September to November offers pleasant weather. At this time, one can explore the various cities of Alabama. During the spring season, the state experiences notorious tornadoes which makes it unsafe for travel.

The southern part of Alabama, such as the Gulf of Mexico tends to be warmer. Thus, it is can be visited during the winters too. But, the northern part towards the Appalachian Mountains are slightly cooler and is best visited during summer.

So, pack your bags and visit Alabama by booking a customised Alabama package now!

 

Cricket World Cup 2019 – Your Travel Guide

The Cricket World Cup happens every four years, and it’s back with a bang in 2019! We get you a scintillating travel guide around the beautiful cities of England & Wales that are hosting the ICC World Cup 2019. So if you’re planning a trip to cheer the Indian Cricket Team, here’s a heads up on some of the key World Cup venues 2019 where you can watch the matches. For the travel enthusiast in you, there is also information about other sizzling attractions that you can see in these cities!

 

A Quick History of Cricket

Cricket emerged out of the many sticks and stones games at the beginning of the 16th century. Originating in Southeast England, this beautiful game became England’s national game in the 18th century and then took over the world stage in the 19th and the and 20th century.

While the game evolved to become what it is today, it’s grown to become one of the second most popular sports worldwide. To facilitate cricket at a global level, the International Cricket Council (ICC), the governing body of cricket, came into being in 1909. It has a membership of more than 100 countries and has its headquarters in Dubai, UAE.

Key Cricket World Cup Venues 2019

Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester

Old Trafford Stadium in  Manchester
Manchester

Established in 1857, the Old Trafford Stadium has a capacity of 24,600 people. It is the busiest venue this year, all set to hold six games of the ICC World Cup 2019. It is also bound to be the most-watched venue in the international cricket series as India plays Pakistan here.
Match 22 – India v/s Pakistan will be held here on June 16, 2019 at 15:00 (IST)
Match 34 – West Indies v/s India will be held here on June 27, 2019 at 15:00 (IST)

Attractions of Manchester:

National Football Museum

England’s official football museum, the National Football Museum is the mecca for football lovers. The museum preserves an eminent collection of football items. Tourists can find more than 140000 treasures related to the game. There’s also a kid’s discovery zone and unique skill-testing simulators here. A great place for a football fan!

The Lowry

Lowry is a cultural hub that sits on the Salford Quays, and was once the Industrial hub of Manchester. Contemporary exhibitions are held here, and it has an entire gallery that is dedicated to the ‘Matchstick Men’ paintings of the famous artist – LS Lowry. There is also an in-house theatre for concerts, musicals and dramas.

 

 

Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

Wales royal marching band at the Millennium Stadium, in Cardiff.
Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

Also known as the Cardiff Wales Stadium, it has a capacity of 15,200 and was established in the year 1854. The stadium hosted two editions of ICC World Cup 1999 and the ICC Champions Trophy. Cardiff Wales Stadium witnessed some great moments in its history of hosting international cricket matches!

Attractions of Cardiff:

Cardiff Bay:

Cardiff Bay has been carved by the Cardiff Barrage in the southern part of Cardiff. It is a popular spot in the city that features pubs and a host of eateries along the waterfront. The chic urban spot also features historic buildings, guided tours and its marine front adds a hint of elan to the outdoor experience of its denizens. A great place to unwind when the match innings ain’t buzzing!

Roath Park

Home to lovely open spaces, Roath Park, is a great place to spend your afternoon on a non-match day. It is a conservation area for wildflowers and water birds. Set in the form of a Victorian park, it features rowing boats and botanical gardens. There is also a cafe that serves a slice of ‘bara birth’ – a quintessential fruit cake. It’s an excellent spot for a picnic.

Mermaid Quay

Mermaid Quay is a waterfront district that is the perfect place to catch a warm drink with folks. In the day time, tourists can witness musicals and movies at the Millennium Centre while art enthusiasts can visit the Norwegian Church. Tourists can also stand for photo ops at Roald Dahl Palace and soak in the ‘time-travelling’ at the fantastic Doctor Who Experience.

 

Trent Bridge, Nottingham

Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham UK
Nottingham Stadium

Opened in 1841, the Trent Bridge hosted the first one-day international match in 1974 and since has been used as the Cricket World Cup venue for many editions. The stadium has a capacity of 17,000 and has been the home of Nottinghamshire. The test series between India and England were held at Trent Bridge in the year 2014!
Match 18 – India v/s New Zealand will be held here on June 13, 2019 at 15:00 (IST)

Attractions of Nottingham:

Nottingham Castle

The mighty Nottingham Castle gives way to serenading views of the town! It is famous for its bronze Robin Hood statue and his men, that was sculpted by James Woodford. While the original was destroyed by the parliamentary forces in 1961, there is now an Italian-style palace that’s home to two museums that feature uniforms, medals along with medieval carvings, ethnographic gallery and much more!

City of Caves

Nottingham is also home to some of the most amazing natural wonders. The sandstone caves form the City of Caves. Around 450 caves lie beneath the city of Nottingham that have been used for defence and storage. Tourists can be a part of the public tours or shop at the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. The caves are particularly famous for their Mortimer’s Hole that is 322-foot-long.


Highfields Park

Highfields Park is a part of the Nottingham University and is a verdant park spread over 52 acres. It is home to many exotic plants and is a perfect getaway for a non-match day. Tourists can try boating, take serene strolls or enjoy a picnic in the green environs. There’s also a Lakeside Arts Centre that stages many events.

 

 

Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham

Edgbaston Stadium ground from the top seating row
Edgbaston Stadium

This stadium was built in 1886 and can hold around 24500 people. Popularly known as the County Ground, Edgbaston has been the turf of Warwickshire County Cricket Club. It has also been the venue for many cricket world cup editions in the past. It stands witness to some amazing moments in the history of cricket like Brian Lara’s 501* knock and the 1999’s Cricket World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa!

  • Match 38 – England v/s India will be held here on June 30, 2019 at 15:00 (IST)
  • Match 40 – Bangladesh v/s India will be held here on July 2, 2019 at 15:00 (IST)

 

Attractions of Birmingham:

Cadbury World

It’s a tad bit incredible to be able to see how the chocolates that we have grown up munching are made! The Cadbury World offers self-guided exhibition tours to visitors who wish to see the science and technology behind their delicious Cadbury chocolate! One can be a part of the chocolatier experience here and indulge in a number of activities.

National Sea Life Centre

An interesting activity for a non-match day, The National Sea Life Centre is a fantastic aquarium that features more than 60 freshwater displays of marine life. Here, be a part of the Penguin Ice Adventure, meet the rescued seals in the Mammal Rescue Facility, explore the 360-degree ocean tunnel and experience its 4D cinema.

Black Country Living Museum

An open-air museum, the Black Country Living Museum is a place for those who like to stir their creative juices! This museum of rebuilt historic buildings, spans over 26 acres and offers a host of activities for tourists. Indulge in family workshop of leather keyrings, felt making workshops, ragbag making, glass engraving and gin tasting. Visitors can also try their hand at pottery making, basket weaving, Edwardian gardening and other activities. There are also poetry writing workshops for avid writers. Don’t forget to check out the museums that have been featured in some famous TV shows.

 

 

County Ground, Bristol

Cityscape of Bristol along with the stadium
Bristol

Established in the year 1889, County Ground held a capacity of 11,000 people and was bought by WG Grace. Since then, it has been home to the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club. Recently, it hosted eight matches of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017.

Attractions of Bristol:

Bristol Harbour:

When not attending the crazy cricket match, head to the Bristol Harbour which is home to state of the art museums and hence an excellent spot for art lovers. Among the many museums, the Arnolfini Gallery stands out for its fascinating world of the old tea warehouse and has three floors dedicated to contemporary art. Beyond Arnolfini, M Shed and Spike Island are other museums.

Clifton Suspension Bridge:

An iron structure, the bridge is suspended on the cliffs of the Avon Gorge that gives way to panoramic vistas of the city. To get some great views, you can chart your way towards the Clifton Observatory that sits at a hilltop in Clifton Village. The place has many small eateries and pubs, among which the Coronation Tap is a famous pub to get some local cider!

 

 

London – Lord’s and Kennington Oval

Aerial view of the skyline of London from the South
Kennington Oval

Lord’s is the venue for the finals of the ICC World Cup 2019 match. Established in 1814, it can hold 28,500 people. It has in the past, hosted the world cup of 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1999.
Well let’s hope we get to see India playing the finals here!

Another stadium in London where the match will be held is the Kennington Oval. The Oval sits very close to the River Thames and has been the turf of the first ever Test match that was played on the English soil. The game was between England and Australia in 1880, and since then, Oval has witnessed about 100 test matches.
Match 14 – India v/s Australia will be held here on June 9, 2019 at 15:00 (IST)

Attractions of London:

Hyde Park

Hyde Park is one of the most delightful places in London and a prominent Grade-1 listed park in the city. Covering an expanse of 142 hectares, the park is home to lush greenery and is a great spot for nature lovers. The Park has two lake-side restaurants that serve anything between coffee and a three-course meal. Tourists here can indulge in boating, skating, swimming, cycling, horse riding or play tennis. There’s also a marvellous children’s area to keep the little kids engaged

Buckingham Palace

Sitting in the Westminster quarter of London, the beautiful and ornate Buckingham Palace is the headquarters of the monarch of the country. The palace is often at the centre of many occasions and royalty. Tourists can visit the palace’s state and private rooms and witness the change of guards ceremony.

London Eye

It’s a sin to be in London and not check out the London Eye. The giant Ferris opened to the masses in 2000, since then, it has become a symbol of London. It is among the tallest Ferris wheels in the world. The London Eye is also the highest viewing point in the city and gives you a bird’s-eye view of the entire city. A must do activity in London!

Big Ben

The nickname of the Great Bell in London, Big Ben is located towards the northern end of the Westminster Palace and is one of the most iconic structures in the world. It stands as a symbol of parliamentary democracy and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

While we covered the main cricket venues in England and Wales, if you need information on matches happening in the other venues then visit the official website of ICC for updates!

Go ahead and book your flight to catch the enthralling matches, and cheer for the Indian Cricket team! Let’s hope they will be the cricket world cup winners this year!

 

Attractions Of Huntsville In Alabama That The Movie Zero Made Famous

Bollywood since decades has been fond of exploring international places and shooting at the most exotic destinations across the world. Whether it is a romantic song, an action sequence or a special venue, distinctive destinations have always been the pick of Hindi cinema. This is one reason films have played an integral part in promoting tourism and exploring lesser known destinations. One such place is Huntsville in Alabama (USA)!

Huntsville is located in north Alabama. It is best known for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. This is one of the key reasons which pushed the team of Zero to fly to Huntsville and shoot.

Huntsville is the third-largest city in U.S.A and has a substantial Indian American population. Many people in this town (as in the US) are crazy for superstar Shahrukh Khan and Bollywood films. Even though Huntsville does not fall in the category of the top must-visit places, the shooting of the film ‘Zero’ has now changed all that.

Here are the places to visit in Huntsville some of which became famous overnight, courtesy team ‘Zero’!

Book now: Huntsville City Break – Land Only package

U.S. Space & Rocket Center

Space shuttle at U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville
U.S. Space & Rocket Center

U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the largest space museum in the world. It has more than 1500 space artefacts on display. These include rockets, spacecraft, simulators, engines, and hands-on exhibits. It is one of the top paid tourist attractions of Alabama, and showcases the achievements, and artefacts of the U.S. space program. There is also a rocket garden where a wide range of rockets are exhibited. Youngsters can spend some memorable time here and also attend astronaut training camps.

It is at this centre, that the rocket that put man on the moon was developed. Today you can admire the world’s most powerful rocket – the Space Launch System (SLS) that is being developed here. You will get an insight about NASA’s current plans and Huntsville’s role in it, to travel to Mars.

Claim to Movie Fame: U.S. Space & Rocket Center has already featured in many English films as Space Warriors, SpaceCamp, and Beyond the Stars.
In the movie Zero, this is the place where Shahrukh Khan gets the training to go into space.

Von Braun Center in Huntsville

The sprawling Von Braun Centre spans 3.7 lakh square feet of space. It is a multi-purpose indoor arena, performing arts and exhibits complex. One can find playhouse, a concert hall, a music hall, restaurant and multiple halls for exhibits. There is an arena with a seating capacity of 10,000. At the Mark C Smith Concert Hall ballet to Broadway performances, concerts and symphonies take place through the year. Some of Von Braun Center’s most popular events are the Heads n’ Tails – Crawfish boil and craft beer (May), Family Fun Festival and Expo (June) and Von Brewski Beer Festival (February).

Its claim to fame: Anushka gives a speech in the second half of the film, which is shot in the hall of Von Braun Center.

Hindu Cultural Center of Alabama in Harvest

The Hindu Cultural Centre has a majestic temple in white, called the Sarvajana Mandir, built in traditional Hindu architectural style. The temple has two encircling corridors, and Hindu deities from every corner of India venerate in the temple. The centre offers all kinds of religious and cultural services. Scholarly discussions on Hindu mythology and philosophy along with religious chanting in the form of bhajans, prayers, satsung and pooja take place here. It is a centre of educational, cultural and religious activities, and lies about 30 minutes from downtown Huntsville.

Its claim to fame: The movie has a temple scene where Anushka’s wedding takes place; is shot here. A lot of locals also gathered dressed in Indian attire, to shoot the scene.

 

Huntsville Botanical Garden

Flower bed at Huntsville Botanical Garden
Huntsville Botanical Garden

The Huntsville Botanical Garden spread over 112 acres, is one of the top tourist attractions of Alabama, and is open through the year It has a beautiful aquatic garden, a wildflower garden, a Biblical garden, a huge open-air butterfly house, Daylily garden, a trail of Dogwood trees, fern glade, and numerous other types of flower and plant arenas. There is also a nature trail where one can walk around and explore the lowland forest, a Children’s Garden that has eight themed areas, and a lake. At the Guest Centre you can catch an art exhibit or grab a bite at the restaurant. Regular seasonal festivals, exhibits and events take place here.

Its claim to fame: During the wedding sequence where Anushka is talking to Madhvan, the scene is from the Huntsville Botanical Garden.

 

Grill 29 – Fine Dining in Huntsville

This is one of the most decorated restaurants in Huntsville. There are three interesting stories behind the number 29 of this place. The number 29 was given to the restaurant considering that it is the perfect age when you are still young, and yet are old enough to know better. Also, in the periodic table, the number 29 represents copper. As a result the whole place has been given a copper effect. Last but not least, the wines that the restaurant serves, comes from route 29.

The culinary expertise and pampering hospitality of the place makes its brunch, lunch and dinner experience unmatched. Its lip-smacking seafood includes scallops, shrimp, grits and the all-time famous steak.

Its claim to fame: In the movie, the scene where Shahrukh Khan and his co-stars eat lunch the shooting of the scene is done here. The restaurant crew also play an active part in the scene.

Also read: 7 Reasons for a West Coast Honeymoon

 

In sum

The film Zero has given a lot of recognition to Alabama and more so to Huntsville. It is time to explore the cultural, historical and natural beauty of these places. And if you are a Shahrukh fan, you definitely must visit Huntsville to understand what made the superstar choose this place for one of his very special movies Zero.

Go ahead and plan your Alabama holiday and explore all these amazing attractions of Huntsville.