BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C: Blog http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog en-us (C) BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Sun, 11 Mar 2012 17:33:00 GMT Sun, 11 Mar 2012 17:33:00 GMT Best Seat to watch cricket at Galle http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-b-e-s-t---s-e-a-t---t-o---w-a-t-c-h---c-r-i-c-k-e-t---a-t---g-a-l-l-e If you ever wish to watch a cricket match at the Galle International cricket stadium and are unable to get yourself a ticket, don’t break a sweat. You still might have the chance to get a great seat with a fantastic 360 degree view of the entire stadium. This seat is at the neighbouring Galle Fort that overlooks the stadium and the Indian Ocean.

Best way to watch a cricket match at GalleIMG_6804  
Not only is this a great place for watching the match, but also offers ample space to park your camera equipment and take some long distance shots, provided you have a high focal length lens. All you need is a large umbrella to protect yourself from the elements and some food and water to keep you satiated. And you are all set to enjoy your cricket match.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Galle Fort Travel and Photography Travel Photography Backpacking Galle International Test Cricket Stadium Galle Sri Lanka Travel and Tourism Travel Indian Ocean Tropical Island Tropical Hotspot http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-b-e-s-t---s-e-a-t---t-o---w-a-t-c-h---c-r-i-c-k-e-t---a-t---g-a-l-l-e Sun, 11 Mar 2012 09:35:00 GMT
Top three European beach holidays http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-t-o-p---t-h-r-e-e---e-u-r-o-p-e-a-n---b-e-a-c-h---h-o-l-i-d-a-y-s There’s no need to take a long haul flight to enjoy the combined benefits of sun, sea and surf – some of the world’s most stunning coastal spots are right here in Europe. These three top destinations have something for everyone, whether you’re looking to sightsee, party, or simply relax and enjoy the sunshine.

Aiya Napa, Cyprus: It has a reputation as one of the top clubbing destinations on the Med – and for good reason. In summer the resort is a favourite of the young and glam, who come to trawl the bars and clubs, ramp up the volume with outdoor beach parties and top up their tan in itsy-bitsy swimwear. Aiya Napa takes on a more relaxed vibe during the winter season, making it a good choice for a spot of out-of-season sunshine. Alternatively, if you’re planning a summer break then take a look at the nearby resort town of Protaras, which is a popular family destination. On The Beach has some great deals on beach holidays at Protaras.

Costa del Sol, Spain: The ‘Sunshine Coast’ encompasses a large section of the Spanish coastline, but with so many gorgeous beaches and popular towns in the area it’s impossible to pick out one single resort as topping all the others. Wherever you go in the region, you’ll find white-sand beaches, well-maintained golf courses and a host of nightlife destinations perfect for letting your hair down. Visit during a carnival such as the Fiesta de Los Reyes in January to see the area at its most authentic (and with temperature still in the high teens during the winter months you won’t miss out on the chance to tan either). For the culturally minded, the birthplace of Picasso makes a great day trip and the most popular areas have a scattering of fascinating museums and religious sites.

imageimage[2] Kos, Greece: This stunning island close to the coast of Turkey is a true Mediterranean paradise. It’s got it all: archaeological heritage, year-round balmy weather, waters bluer than the sky and a selection of resorts geared towards young people and families alike. For a taste of the local nightlife head to the village of Kardamena, popular with the young crowd; or base yourself in the main port, Kos, to experience the best of the region’s historical and tourist attractions. From wine-tasting to walking in the mountains, there’s plenty to keep you entertained when you’re not chilling out on the beach.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Costa del Sol Aiya Napa Europe Travel and Tourism Travel Kos Greece Spain Cyprus http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-t-o-p---t-h-r-e-e---e-u-r-o-p-e-a-n---b-e-a-c-h---h-o-l-i-d-a-y-s Sun, 11 Mar 2012 06:30:00 GMT
Second Highest Astronomical Observatory in the world!! http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-s-e-c-o-n-d---h-i-g-h-e-s-t---a-s-t-r-o-n-o-m-i-c-a-l---o-b-s-e-r-v-a-t-o-r-y One of the best places to see a starry starry night in India would be its deserts. And whether it is the Great Indian Thar Desert (sandy desert), the Little and the Great Rann of Kutch (Salt Desert) or the cold deserts of the Himalayas, the stars can be seen in millions and so unbelievably special. Out of these selected few, the best place in India to see the best starry sky is Hanle in the Changthang cold desert. Its cloudless skies and low atmospheric water vapour make it the best sites in the world for studying the stars.

Sunset at HanleIMG_7942  
And that’s why the Indian Astronomical Observatory, run by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore is situated here at an altitude of 15,000 feet from MSL making it the second highest astronomical observatory in the world. This trans-Himalayan region is one of the most hostile environments in the world with oxygen levels as low as 10% of coastal regions and temperatures that border on the extremes of obscene. This place is as remote as it gets with not more than 100 people living in its vicinity. But, it is here in this remote and hostile terrain that our Astronomical scientists work through the night to study the stars and the world around it.

Golden yellow at Changthang Cold DesertIMG_7934  
And it is here in the middle of the Changthang Cold Desert that me and my friends went to see the stars. Enroute to Hanle, we saw some of the best landscapes that one can see and the golden colours of the sun on the mighty mountains is a treat to any eye. And when we reached Hanle, we got treated to the coldest weather that we had seen in our entire lives. And the situation just worsened when the sun set. The wind picked up and soon turned into a gust. The diesel in all our vehicles started to freeze and hence the drivers kept the engine running for 30 minutes every hour through the night. And when the temperature went below minus 40 degree Celsius, we felt that hell had frozen over.

Sunset moment at the Changthang Cold DesertIMG_7918  
But, amidst all this, the saving grace is the brilliant guest house, run by the institute with its large rooms, heaters and oxygen cylinders. And the food was great too, though it was a pain to walk in the brain numbing cold from the guest house to the dining hall about 2 minutes away. And even more harrowing yet interesting experience was when we found out that our western toilets had also frozen. Hence, before using it we had to pour a bucket of hot water to unfreeze it. Quite an experience huh!

Photographing the sunset moments at Changthang Cold DesertIMG_7948

The skies were great and there were tons of stars and they sure were a very pretty sight, but the extreme weather forced us into our rooms much before our initial estimate. If I remember right, we lasted five long minutes outside staring at the starry sky and it took us 60 to 90 short minutes to recover some of our body warmth after returning to our rooms. Extremely tough terrain, but hats off to the Indian Institute of Astrophysics and their team for braving it out and doing their work in such super tough conditions. We were hardly comfortable during our half day n full night long stay here. But, I definitely wish to return here in the summers and see the starry spectacle a bit more thoroughly.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Travel and Photography Travel Photography Backpacking Jammu and Kashmir Indian Astronomical Observatory India Himalayas Ladakh Travel Travel and Tourism Western Himalayas Hanle Changthang Cold Desert Indian Institute of Astrophysics http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-s-e-c-o-n-d---h-i-g-h-e-s-t---a-s-t-r-o-n-o-m-i-c-a-l---o-b-s-e-r-v-a-t-o-r-y Fri, 09 Mar 2012 10:47:00 GMT
The Chinese Connection in Changthang Cold Desert http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-c-h-i-n-e-s-e---c-o-n-n-e-c-t-i-o-n---i-n---c-h-a-n-g-t-h-a-n-g---c-o-l-d The Changthang cold desert is one of the most remote and hostile regions in the world and it is possibly one of the prettiest too. The Himalayan landscapes in this region is simply outstanding with the snow clad mountains casting a strong contrast to the dry and barren countryside.

Sunset at TangtseIMG_7805  
Since this area is very remote and hostile, it is very difficult to find a place to stay here. But, if push comes to shove, you end up finding a manageable place even in the remotest of villages. And that is how we found the Yakmik Changla Guest House at Tangtse when our original plan got altered due to permit issues and road blockages.

Evening sky at TangtseIMG_7809  
This guest house is part of a local home. The place came well equipped with a bukhari (kerosene room heater) in the common living room and a LPG room heater in our 4 bedded room. Thus, our chances of weathering the minus 30 degree Celsius weather was very high. In fact, we were really comfortable inside. The rooms were simple, but came with nice beds and thick blankets. And all this for 800 rupees per night, which was very reasonable given that they would be spending quite a bit in the form of fuel (LPG and Kerosene)

Sunset on the way to TangtseIMG_7816  
The food was excellent even though options were not much. Lunch and dinner are wholesome meals where Rotis, dal and sabzi being available for the vegetarians, while yak meat, the local delicacy was available to the non-vegetarian eaters. Breakfast and evening snacks are limited to Maggi and Bread Omelette. Again, very limited resources, but feels like heaven in that biting cold weather. And the icing on the cake was when we asked for Chang, the local brew (millet beer) and they provided us this too.

Sunrise in the Western Himalayas of Changthang Cold DesertIMG_7827  
But, everything about the guest house was not that rosy. And we figured that out when we used the restrooms. First, the restrooms had no light and second, they were open to the world at the bottom. But, the best part is that our offerings that go down 20 feet below us is fed by the pigs below. To all those who are not aware of this, this is called the Chinese loo. Phew! This Chinese connection was quite an interesting experience for us.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Travel and Photography Travel Photography Backpacking Jammu and Kashmir India Tangtse Himalayas Ladakh Yakmik Changla Guest House Travel Travel and Tourism Western Himalayas Changthang Cold Desert http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-c-h-i-n-e-s-e---c-o-n-n-e-c-t-i-o-n---i-n---c-h-a-n-g-t-h-a-n-g---c-o-l-d Fri, 09 Mar 2012 09:03:00 GMT
Finding great deals on London hotels: can it be done? http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-f-i-n-d-i-n-g---g-r-e-a-t---d-e-a-l-s---o-n---l-o-n-d-o-n---h-o-t-e-l-s We take a look at the enviable task of finding good deals on London hotels in Knightsbridge

Finding a roof over our heads is not easy. Especially not during a recession, which has hit Europe – so accustomed to a general ease of movement and accommodation – harder than predicted.

As well as deeply affecting social housing programs and house prices, we also need to consider the costs of holidays and hotel accommodations, as many businessmen and hoteliers look to find ways to provide excellent service whilst running a business.

For many of us – hoteliers or visitors – the key is to think outside the box. Work off-season, shift your calendar, change perspective. Accommodation in the heart of London’s most exclusive areas – such as hotels in Knightsbridge from the likes of Millennium Hotels – can be booked for very reasonable prices, if you’re smart.

imageimage[3] Alongside the last-minute sites and ‘hidden deals’ offers which allow you to book a cheap bed at a hotel with a hidden identity, it’s also worth going direct to hoteliers’ websites. Very often they’ll be the first to promote new offers and actually give you the deal upfront, rather than making you jump through a series of overwrought hoops.

Some good tips on general life in the city, finding your way around and alternative accommodation – such as a new crop of B&Bs, homestays and pub guestrooms – can also be sourced through major media outlets such as Guardian Travel or the Independent’s excellent travel section.

So, much like train tickets, the key to finding a good hotel deal is to combine the old price-comparison and ‘cheap deals’ sites with the company websites themselves. This will allow you to do some shopping around without getting slavishly caught up in the grind of click-refresh-click-refresh and losing a whole evening/weekend/workday (hey, we didn’t say where you were searching from).

The plain truth is, though, thanks to the internet’s ability to spread news far and wide, it’s definitely better to go online than over the phone for this one.

Photo Copyright: Harvey Nichols by wallyg on flickr

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) United Kingdom Great Britain Travel and Tourism Travel London http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-f-i-n-d-i-n-g---g-r-e-a-t---d-e-a-l-s---o-n---l-o-n-d-o-n---h-o-t-e-l-s Fri, 09 Mar 2012 07:05:00 GMT
Child-friendly London http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-c-h-i-l-d---f-r-i-e-n-d-l-y---l-o-n-d-o-n Top attractions and easy locations for families travelling in the UK capital

London is a choice attraction for most tourists. With its combination of history, excellent museums and galleries, ever-changing culture and festivals, as well as big exhibits and parks, a visit there can be a whirlwind of attractions and quick stops.

With kids, this kind of city travelling can be even more testing. Yet London is a good choice for families looking to distract the parents and the youngsters alike.

Making a choice about where you stay is crucial. We recommend placing yourself in close proximity to the major museums and galleries in South Kensington, by selecting a hotel or B&B near Hyde Park.

You can choose from a selection of Knightsbridge and Kensington hotels with Millennium Hotels group, European hoteliers who specialize in 4 star quality hotels for shorter breaks in some of the UK and Europe’s most visited cities. These hoteliers will often offer special deals for kids and discounts for longer stays – with anything over 3 days incurring a reduced rate.

imageimage[3] When it comes to entertaining the kids this year, don’t hesitate to delve into the day-long catalogue of interactive features and exhibits at the Natural History Museum (pictured). It’s long been a favourite with families because it combines a really exciting hands-on delivery with ageless facts and fascination. Who isn’t captured by 40-foot whales – and a free entry?

For an evening pursuit, this year it seems the biggest new hit on the West End is the RSC’s musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. With high praise from critics and kids alike, it is worth booking ahead.

In fact, we’d advise booking for it as you book your flights and hotel. There’s best availability mid-week so if you’re booking for a family of four, look for Tuesday to Thursday seats. What is more, this might fit quite nicely with a reduced 4-night stay at one of SW1 or SW7’s hotels, perhaps Sunday to Wednesday.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) United Kingdom Great Britain Travel and Tourism Travel London http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-c-h-i-l-d---f-r-i-e-n-d-l-y---l-o-n-d-o-n Fri, 09 Mar 2012 06:52:00 GMT
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve: A very different national park!! http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-t-a-d-o-b-a---a-n-d-h-a-r-i---t-i-g-e-r---r-e-s-e-r-v-e---v-e-r-y There is only one tiger reserve in the entire country that is seeing a healthy increase in the tiger numbers. And there is only one tiger reserve where one can see tiger cubs regularly. That tiger reserve is Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, located in central India.

The stripes that make Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve such a favoriteIMG_7346  
This is one of the larger tiger reserves that is not well known among the masses and thus the reason for its excellent health. Only people in Maharashtra and the wildlife fraternity of India seem to know this place well. But, apparently, this place is real famous for its tigers. Such is their fame that National Geographic and Discovery Channel visit this place regularly.

Yellow-footed green pigeonIMG_7260  
The place as such is remote and can be accessed from two major cities: Nagpur and Adilabad. Tadoba is about 135 kms from Nagpur, which is the nearest airport and about 35 kms from Chandrapur, which is the nearest railway station.

Juvenile Changeable Hawk EagleIMG_7046  
Another speciality about this place is that it is one of the few tiger reserves that is open all year round. The monsoon sightings here are considered phenomenal. Hence, everyone going to this place is awed even before actually setting foot inside this tiger reserve.

Eurasian Collared DoveIMG_6884  
Such was the case with me and my friends. I have been to Tadoba before, but the previous visit was more than a decade old. Our plan was to stay here for 4 days and do a total of 5 jungle safaris. The ‘tiger’ and to some extent, the ‘leopard’ are the only buzz words here. No one seems to be bothered about the other animals here.

Common Mongoose crossing the jeep track in the wee hours of the roadIMG_6859  
But, may be because it is very difficult to spot these various other species here in this pristine terrain. In fact, me and my friends were pleasantly surprised when we found very less bird species in this tiger reserve. During each visit, we would find the jungle silent, which is very different from other wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, where bird calls would be the norm everywhere.

Plum headed parakeetsIMG_6979  
We did manage to see some birds, but not as many as what we would have seen else where. And like others, we also diverted our energies to tracking the king of the jungle. Each morning would begin by tracking pug marks and droppings. There would be long waits just to see if a tiger crosses the jeep track somewhere through the bushes.

Common HoopoeIMG_7102  
The excitement built to a frenzy when we heard a couple of groups saying that they saw a group of 6 tigers – an adult male (father), an adult female (mother) and 4 cubs. We had our share of luck too when we saw a sloth bear in the thicket and some gaur both up close and at a distance. And when we didn’t get to see the mammals or birds, we would immerse ourselves in the giant wood spiders and their massive webs that could be seen in large numbers all over the forest.

Giant Wooden Spider - 2IMG_7112  
As we kept our search for the largest carnivore of Tadoba, we found that Tadoba was sparkling clean. Not a piece of plastic or any garbage could be seen anywhere. In fact, we used to notice jeep drivers and guides picking up plastic from the jeep tracks and putting them in their vehicles. I guess in that sense, the Tadoba forest department is doing a great job.

Giant Wooden Spider - 3IMG_7133  
But, there is one area where they can improve and that is by not allowing private vehicles and diesel vehicles to enter the forest premises. First, private drivers don’t really understand the jungle rules unlike the forest drivers and go tantalizingly close to animals and diesel vehicles cause more pollution (air and noise).

Indian RollerIMG_7168  
As we kept our search going, we would regularly hear stories from other groups on how they saw the tiger. Now, tiger sightings in the wild is a matter of pure chance as we all know. But, these stories have different effects on different people. For those who are regular wildlife visitors, this just eggs them on and make them feel that the law of equilibrium is going tilt in their favour soon. While, the tourist feels dejected and sometimes even feels that he has been cheated.

Wild Boars cross the jeep track inside Tadoba Andhari Tiger ReserveIMG_7215  
In our small group of 3, our hopes were high and we ended up scouring different parts of the forest and different terrain, from dense forests to lake sides to bushes and grasslands. But, our tiger sighting kept evading us. Each day after our evening safari, we would come back to our camp and talk to locals and listen to their stories.

Common MongooseIMG_7227  
This is when we met Shalik Jogwe, one of Tadoba’s well known naturalists and key member of the wildlife conservation society. Shalik has been working in this forest for than a decade and listening to him was such an immersive experience as he shared stories, eco tourism plans, educational plans for the locals and many more.

Common Flameback WoodpeckerIMG_7249  
Finally, it was time for our fifth and last safari and we had still not given up hope. We played the waiting game and did the distance game, but lady luck was still eluding us. And then, when we were about 5 minutes from our exit gate, a Tata Sumo vehicle in front of me braked suddenly and that is when our luck changed.

Bhamera Male TigerIMG_7342  
It was here that I saw the Bhamera Male tiger walk in front of the Tata Sumo vehicle, cross it casually, give us a customary glance and disappear into the bushes. Thankfully, I was awake and hence saw this entire sequence of events, unlike my friends who were dozing and saw only the later half of the sequence. The entire sighting would not have been more than 15 seconds, but the adrenalin rush was tremendous. Such was the adrenalin rush that I forgot that I had my camera around my neck for a good 10 seconds before getting it into fire mode. Same was the case with my other friend.

Bhamera Tiger gets into the dense bushes after crossing the jeep trackIMG_7343  
A natural sighting in the wild is a different experience altogether and is so much better than sitting around a waterhole or chasing them based on information provided by other jeeps. The only negative about this sighting was the Tata Sumo vehicle, which was less than a foot away from banging into the tiger. But, this hardly disturbed the tiger and he walked as majestically as possible. After all, he is the true king of the Indian Jungles.

Locals of Tadoba Andhari Tiger ReserveIMG_7217  
After seeing the golden yellow coat with black stripes, the mood in the jeep changed completely from being lethargic to having super animated conversations. A beaming smile could be seen everywhere. Such is the aura of the Tadoba Tiger. I am just hoping that this place remains a healthy ecosystem as ever!!

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Travel and Photography Travel Photography Indian Wildlife Maharashtra Nagpur Birds Wildlife Sanctuaries Birding Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve Birdwatching India Wildlife Enthusiast Travel Travel and Tourism Wildlife Wildlife Photography Bird Photography http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-t-a-d-o-b-a---a-n-d-h-a-r-i---t-i-g-e-r---r-e-s-e-r-v-e---v-e-r-y Thu, 08 Mar 2012 11:49:00 GMT
Sri Lanka’s Heritage Train Journey http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-s-r-i---l-a-n-k-a-s---h-e-r-i-t-a-g-e---t-r-a-i-n---j-o-u-r-n-e-y A sensational train ride from the warm and coastal Colombo to the cool and misty central highlands where the level ground gives way to steep ground and where the train literally starts chugging and winding through tea estates and pristine tropical rainforests. This is what makes Sri Lanka’s heritage train journey.

Sri LankaIMG_5550  
This journey, which begins at Colombo’s fort railway station is best taken during the day, especially the trains from morning 6 AM through to 9 AM to allow one to enjoy Sri Lanka’s natural wonders from the comfort of the train seat. The sheer ‘GREEN’ effect captivates one and all. Furthermore, it is quite an experience to see a train that is plying at 60 kilometres per hour drop its speed to around 10 kilometres per hour and struggle its way through the steep tracks of Sri Lanka’s central highlands.

The view from the observation carIMG_5549  
The ride begins at Colombo and goes on till Badulla, one of Sri Lanka’s tea towns, but most tourists, prefer to get down at Nanu Oya, which is the closest railway station to Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka’s tea capital. To know the train timings, one can look up Sri Lanka’s railway site. Currently, online booking is not possible, but one can book tickets from the station 14 days in advance. Typically, 2nd class and 3rd class tickets are available on the day of the journey, but the most sought after seats are the first class observation car ones, which is slightly more comfortable, but provides a 3 side view of the journey. If I remember right, the first class observation car seats cost about 700 LKR, while the 2nd class seats cost about half of that.

The train passes through lush green plantations and forests all alongIMG_5535  
The first class compartments are non-air conditioned, something which you will prefer coz it will allow you to feel the change in the temperature as the train starts climbing into the mountains. The seats are fairly comfortable and the 3 side view is very interesting. Though, personally, I would have preferred if the observation car view was that of the front of the train and not the rear. But, then I do understand that the engine has to be at the front.

First Class Observation Car on the heritage train allows great views of the passing by countrysideIMG_5521  
As the train leaves the Colombo fort station, the crowd thins out and the stifling humidity is more bearable due to the wind. The train crosses small villages and stops at some stations. In about 3 hours from the start, the temperatures begin to dip as the train slowly begins to ascend. The landscape changes to that of tea estates interspersed with tropical rainforests, mountain streams and waterfalls. Umpteen bridges and tunnels add to the eerie factor. A loud scream from all corners of the train greet one n all when the train passes through the pitch dark tunnels, some of them really long.

A view of the Heritage train at the colombo railway stationIMG_5522

As the train approaches Nanu Oya, the train has covered about 180 kms in about 8 hours. Mightily slow one might say, but if you were to account for the 6,000 feet rise in elevation and the rugged terrain, then I guess it sounds reasonable. The entire journey is thrilling with beautiful vistas greeting you at each turn. This is one journey that every tourist to Sri Lanka must do. A road journey from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya is much faster, say 3 hours less, but lacks the nature’s punch of this heritage train journey.

Local Kids enjoy the views during the train ride to Nanu OyaIMG_5525

For those who are wondering where Nuwara Eliya is located…Nuwara Eliya is located about 8-10 kms from the Nanu Oya station. One can either catch the bus from just outside the station or take a cab. A bus journey takes about 30 minutes and will take you right into the centre of Nuwara Eliya.

Enjoying the view as the train meanders its way through the central highlandsIMG_5538  
Tips: Do remember to carry a packed lunch, some high energy snack items and lots of water as the station and train food leave a lot to be desired. Even though it might be warm while you board the train at Colombo, be sure to pack a thin fleece or sweatshirt to help protect you against the nippy weather of the highlands.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Nuwara Eliya Travel and Photography Nanu Oya Travel Photography Backpacking Tropical Island Sri Lanka Train Journey Travel Travel and Tourism Tropical Hotspot Colombo Backpacker http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-s-r-i---l-a-n-k-a-s---h-e-r-i-t-a-g-e---t-r-a-i-n---j-o-u-r-n-e-y Wed, 07 Mar 2012 11:45:00 GMT
Serai Tiger: Tadoba’s Tented Wildlife Camp http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-s-e-r-a-i---t-i-g-e-r---t-a-d-o-b-a-s---t-e-n-t-e-d---w-i-l-d-l-i-f-e There are not many wildlife resorts at one of India’s lesser known tiger dens, the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. In fact, there are only three of them running base on the fringes of this tiger reserve. One of them is run by Maharashtra tourism, while the other two are managed by private players. The last time I was there, I decided to stay at one of these private wildlife resorts and thus ended up at Serai Tiger, a luxury tented camp situated 5 kilometres from the Mohurli gate.

I stayed here for 3 days and had a great time at this tented wildlife camp. The place is ideal if you seek some luxury while not wanting to spend too much for it. A little bit of luxury is required here given the fact that Tadoba faces some of the most extreme weather throughout the year. Summers can be terribly hot at temperatures above 45 degrees, while winters can be bitterly cold. And early morning and late evening wildlife safaris will make you even more vulnerable to this extreme weather.

In such extreme weather, the Serai Tiger, offers 11 great luxury tented accommodation, each with an attached bathroom, an air-conditioner and an air cooler. The tents located slightly above ground level are even fitted with nets to prevent mosquitoes and other insects from entering inside. These tents, which come with 2 beds are large enough to accommodate an extra bed, if required. Backup generators ensure that power supply is available round the clock. These tents, if I remember right, cost about 3,500 rupees per tent and this includes 3 meals for both the occupants in the room.

In addition, there are 2 dormitories that can accommodate 16 people each. This is ideal for large groups, who are on a tighter budget. Food is served in a central dining hall that has a television in it, though I am not much in favour of television while I am on a wildlife trip. But, I am sure a lot of travellers would love to catch up on the latest news n stuff. The food here is homely and the cook can dish out some fancy fare, vegetarian and non-vegetarian both. Breakfast is generally packed to be had during the morning safari. The lunch is between the morning and evening safaris. A cup of hot tea and a plate of biscuits greet you when you are back from your evening safari and then dinner from 8 to 10 pm. In between, one can admire the various photos in the dining halls, read the assorted collection of wildlife books in their library, enjoy the serenity while walking in the garden or climb up the watch towers in an attempt to spot any stray wildlife.

Another thing in favour of the Serai Tiger is its location. It is situated very close to a hillock and its perimeter is frequented quite often by the leopard especially in the late evening hours and the night. And i you are interested in bird life, then the surrounding dam waters offer tremendous opportunity. The service is also quite impressive with each employee ensuring that your trip is great fun.

The resort also helps arrange wildlife safari tours, though might charge a bit more than the jeeps available at the gate. But, they also make up for the extra cost by providing great drivers and forest guides. They also offer pickup services from Nagpur airport and back through their tie-up with local travel operators. Bonfires are arranged upon request and on a full house, tribal dances are arranged, though I did not get a chance to see the tribal dance.

I would definitely recommend Serai Tiger if you wish to indulge in some luxury while on a wildlife trip to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. It may be a bit pricey, but it is totally worth it especially in the summers, when a little bit of luxury is needed and its location offers much more than other properties.

To book, you can lookup their website www.seraitiger.com, reach them out on their email id: seraityger@gmail.com or call them on their phone numbers: +91 – 9552224149, 9373663219, 9868920498, 9810062078, 9665053505, 9910069567.

Nearest airport: Nagpur at 135 kms from the camp, roughly a 3 hours drive.
Nearest railway station: Chandrapur at 30 kms from the camp, roughly 50 minutes away.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) TATR Travel and Photography Serai Tiger Indian Wildlife Maharashtra Nagpur Central India Wildlife Sanctuaries Hotel Review Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve India Wildlife Resort Travel Travel and Tourism Wildlife Wildlife Photography http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-s-e-r-a-i---t-i-g-e-r---t-a-d-o-b-a-s---t-e-n-t-e-d---w-i-l-d-l-i-f-e Wed, 07 Mar 2012 10:28:00 GMT
The best things to do when in London http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-b-e-s-t---t-h-i-n-g-s---t-o---d-o---w-h-e-n---i-n---l-o-n-d-o-n Huge, energetic, historic, beautiful and edgy – London remains one of the world’s most fascinating cities. You can visit again and again, and never have the same experience twice.

Unless you have many months to spare, the best way to see London is to go for variety, selecting just a few areas. Here are some ideas:

Notting Hill
Fridays and Saturdays show Notting Hill off at its best, if you can stand the crowds. Portobello Market is a heaving treasure chest full of antiques, street food, vintage clothing and flea market fare. Colourful cottages line the streets and chic boutiques sit happily alongside the market stalls. When your legs are tired you can sit in one of the hundreds of cafes, bars and pubs and watch the passers-by.

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Soho & Chinatown
Soho is an excellent place to observe London in all its diversity. Self conscious media types in skinny jeans rub shoulders with market vendors in streets packed with cafes, bars, restaurants, pop-up shops and fringed by the city’s red light district. Old Compton Street is a vibrant slice of London’s gay community, and the theatre land of Covent Garden is a stone’s throw away.

Step over Shaftsbury Avenue and you are hit by the exotic, pungent flavours of Chinatown. Streets hung with red lanterns are packed with windows full of glistening crispy ducks, ancient Chinese medicines and unusual foods to take home. Feast yourself on dim sum and take in the aromas and colour.

Brick Lane
Brick Lane and the surrounding Spital fields, Shoreditch and Whitechapel shows off London in all its artistic, cosmopolitan and eclectic glory. Steeped with history and yet constantly developing, the area is perhaps best known for its Bengal community and its top quality, cheap curry houses. Once haunted by Jack the Ripper, winding alley ways lead to open spaces and covered markets. The street food is excellent and urban art covers the crumbling walls.

Riverboat
If you fancy sitting back and taking in the view, the riverboat is a novel and relaxing way to get your bearings. Get on at Embankment and ride all the way to Greenwich to enjoy a winding river ride which takes in many of London’s famous landmarks as well as a fascinating combination of historic and cutting edge architecture: the Houses of Parliament, Tate Modern, Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf, to name a few.

Tip: When it comes to accommodation, the best way to absorb the atmosphere of these areas is to avoid the big hotels and ‘stay local’. There are various beautiful boutique hotels, and for a truly authentic local experience, onefinestay.com provides quirky vacation apartments (complete with local tips) with all the comforts of a hotel.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Britain UK United Kingdom Europe Travel and Tourism Travel Guest Post London http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-b-e-s-t---t-h-i-n-g-s---t-o---d-o---w-h-e-n---i-n---l-o-n-d-o-n Wed, 07 Mar 2012 08:52:00 GMT
10 Unique Foods to try in Thailand http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-1-0---u-n-i-q-u-e---f-o-o-d-s---t-o---t-r-y---i-n---t-h-a-i-l-a-n-d One of the best things about traveling, is the food.  Trying out the cuisine of another culture can be a thrilling adventure in and of itself.  Once you get checked into your Thailand accommodation, it is time for a snack.  Here are 10 dishes that will surprise and delight.

Laab Luead
This is a pork salad that is very popular in Isaan.  Most travelers tend to have some difficulty getting it down, however.  The difficulty has less to do with the sour and spicy flavors than with the pork itself.  Traditionally, the pork is served raw and topped with fresh pig's blood.

Goong Dten
This dish translates to “Dancing Shrimps.”  As you may have guessed, the shrimp are served with their heads and legs still attached.  What you may not have guessed, is that they are still alive when you eat them.  You can feel them dancing all the way to your stomach.

Cab Moo
Cab Moo is more accurately a garnish or side dish.  This piece of deep-fried pork skin is served with many Thai dishes and is definitely worth trying. There are two basic varieties.  One is mostly fat while the other is fat-free.  The fat variety is much more popular in the country because it has a lot more flavor.

Yum Kai Deng
Yum Kai Deng is usually served over steamed rice.  It is the salted red yolk from a duck egg.  It is considered a delicacy and is very high in both calories and cholesterol.  In some restaurants, there is an additional layer of spicy and sour salad on top of the egg.

Fried Bugs
These snack foods all have different names depending on where your Thailand accommodation choices have placed you.  But they all have one thing in common, the main ingredients are crickets, grasshoppers, water bugs and a few other crawly things tossed in the fryer and served as a finger food.

Ant Egg Soup
The soup is spicy and loaded with vegetables but what really makes it special are the ant eggs.  The ants are very protective of the eggs and separating them is quite difficult.  As a result, when it is time to add the eggs, the ants go into the soup too.

Tripe Soup
Using liver, intestines and heart to make a soup may not be unique to Thailand, but the sweet, sour and spicy flavors of the Thai variety give the soup a distinctive and enticing aroma.

Pat Pet Noo Na
This is a barbeque dish that may be served over rice in a rural restaurant or skewed on a stick from a street vendor.  The meat used is field rat.

Squid Jerkey
These dried, salted pieces of squid can be found on most streets in Thailand.  They are sometimes served as an accompaniment to salads, much like bread sticks.

Steamed Stingray
There are very few places where you can enjoy a plate of Stingray.  With lemongrass, ginger, lime and chillies, the Thai dish is definitely one of the tastiest.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) South East Asia Asia Food n Cuisine Thailand Travel and Tourism Travel food http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/3/-1-0---u-n-i-q-u-e---f-o-o-d-s---t-o---t-r-y---i-n---t-h-a-i-l-a-n-d Fri, 02 Mar 2012 06:31:00 GMT
The Attractions in Canary Islands http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-a-t-t-r-a-c-t-i-o-n-s---i-n---c-a-n-a-r-y---i-s-l-a-n-d-s Tenerife is the biggest island among the seven islands of the Canary Islands and it also has the highest number of residents. It is estimated that five million travellers come to Tenerife each year and it is the highest among other Canary Islands. Tenerife is an island that is sculptured by volcanic eruptions and some of the sceneries here are simply breath-taking. The island is also free from pollution and is one of the cleanest places in Spain.  This is what makes tourists come to this place again and again.

There are two airports on this island, Reina Sofia Airport at the south and Los Rodeos Airport at the north. Both these airports handle domestic flights only, therefore tourists who want to come to this place must come from other airports in Spain like Barcelona El Prat Airport or Madrid-Barajas Airport. As the island is quite big compared to the other Canary Islands, it is highly recommended that you hire a car at car hire Tenerife located at the airport, because this car hire company provides the best service compared to all the other companies available on this island.

Tenerifa was once a really poor region in Spain where the main activity was banana planting in small plantations. It was only after the airports were built in 1960s, that Tenerife became one of the top destinations in Spain in terms of tourists’ numbers. A lot of hotels and resorts were built and the government then built more and more facilities to cater for the crowd of tourists that come here. The south and north side of the island is quite different, and the southern part is more crowded with tourists especially those who come to this island in groups. The weather in the south is also more stable than the north. However, this does not mean that the north does not have the same attraction as the south.

The north offers a more vibrant local culture to its visitors and the weather here is not as hot as the south. Between the two different parts of the island lies the Teide Mountains that is also declared as Teide National Park. This mountain was once a volcano but sadly, tourists are not able to visit the crater of the mountains anymore as there are concerns about safety and security of the tourists.

If you are searching for a great place for a holiday, you can consider Tenerife as the best place you can find in Spain.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Canary Islands Island Africa Travel and Tourism Travel Spain Tenerife http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-a-t-t-r-a-c-t-i-o-n-s---i-n---c-a-n-a-r-y---i-s-l-a-n-d-s Tue, 28 Feb 2012 10:55:00 GMT
Barcelona: Spain’s rich cultural hub! http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-b-a-r-c-e-l-o-n-a---s-p-a-i-n-s---r-i-c-h---c-u-l-t-u-r-a-l---h-u-b Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital is one of the most colourful and vibrating cities in Spain. Its unique location near the Mediterranean Sea and Gaudi’s impressive architecture are a magnet for people all over the world and contribute to the cosmopolitan charm of the city. The hotels in Barcelona add to this charm through its central locations, excellent service and luxury facilities.

A lot of tourists head to Barcelona to spend their beach holiday, but miss out on its famous tourist attractions and rich culture. The idea of this post is to throw some light on some of the rich culture of this Spanish city that is situated in the north-east part of the Iberian peninsula. First, there are the classic Joan Miro and Picasso Museums. Then the architecture of Barcelona’s most famous artist Gaudi who helped to develop a unique form of Art Nouveau. And, who can miss out on the long La Rambla Promenade.

Here is a list of places that one should visit to get closer to the city’s true culture.

Ciutat Vella (The Old Town)
The Ciutat Vella is the historical centre of Barcelona. In former times, Barcelona was only a small Roman village called Barcino, surrounded by a massive defensive wall. During the 14th and 15th century it grew rapidly and today the small winding streets, gothic buildings and medieval places still remember of Barcelona’s golden era. The best way to discover the Ciutat Vella in Barcelona is by foot – drift along the small streets and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

Museu Picasso
The Museu Picasso is Barcelona's most visited museum. It's housed in three strikingly beautiful stone mansions on the Carrer de Montcada, which was, in medieval times, an approach to the port. The museum shows numerous works that trace the artist's early years, and is especially strong on his Blue Period with canvases like The Defenceless, ceramics and his early works from the 1890s. The haunting Portrait of Senyora Canals (1905), from his Pink Period is also on display.

El Raval
Raval is the original medieval name for the district left of Las Ramblas of Barcelona. Shabby apartment houses and dodgy bars can be found right next to modern museums and trendy shops in the small winding streets in this district of Barcelona– Raval is a traditional workers area that is constantly changing. Once known as poor and dangerous area, it is now growing in popularity for its central location and its shops. El Raval is the home of many immigrants and the multicultural atmosphere contributes to the charm of this district of Barcelona. Some streets in El Ravel make up the red-light district of Barcelona. 

Barri Gotic
The Barri Gotic contains a concentration of medieval Gothic buildings only a few blocks northeast of La Rambla, and is the nucleus of old Barcelona. It's a maze of interconnecting dark streets linking with squares, and there are plenty of cafes and bars, as well as the cheapest accommodation in town. Most of the buildings date from the 14th and 15th century, when Barcelona was at the height of its commercial prosperity and before it had been absorbed into Castile.

Las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is probably the most famous boulevard in Barcelona. The street is two kilometres long and right at the heart of the city. It divides the Ciutat Vella starting from the buzzing Plaça Catalunya right to the harbour of Barcelona. The wide pedestrian area in the middle of Las Ramblas is the ideal place to meet people, watch the busy traders or street performers. The numerous birds and flower stalls underline the colourful atmosphere of Las Ramblas.

La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is truly awe-inspiring - even if you don't have much time, don't miss it. The life's work of Barcelona's favourite son, Antoni Gaudí, the magnificent spires of the unfinished cathedral imprint themselves boldly against the sky with swelling outlines inspired by the holy mountain Montserrat. They are encrusted with a tangle of sculptures that seem to breathe life into the stone.

Montjuic
The hill Montjüic (Jewish mountain) is one of the most significant landmarks of Barcelona. The huge park lies 213 metres above the harbour and is today one of the major tourist attractions in Barcelona. Montjüic hosted the World Exhibition in 1929 and the Olympic Games in 1992, remains of these big events in Barcelona can still be visited. The impressive view of Barcelona and the sporting and cultural devices on Montjüic are worth more than one visit.

La Pedrera
Another Gaudí masterpiece, La Pedrera was built between 1905 and 1910 as a combined apartment and office block. Formerly called the Casa Milà, it's better known now as La Pedrera (the quarry) because of its uneven grey stone facade that ripples around a street corner - it creates a wave effect that's further emphasized by elaborate wrought-iron balconies. Visitors can tour the building and go up to the roof, where giant multicoloured chimney pots jut up like medieval knights. On summer weekend nights, the roof is eerily lit and open for spectacular views of Barcelona. One floor below the roof is a modest museum dedicated to Gaudí's work.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Travel and Photography Barcelona Mediterranean Travel Culture Spain http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-b-a-r-c-e-l-o-n-a---s-p-a-i-n-s---r-i-c-h---c-u-l-t-u-r-a-l---h-u-b Sat, 25 Feb 2012 03:03:00 GMT
Blog and Photography Portfolio…Now on Mobile! http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-b-l-o-g---a-n-d---p-h-o-t-o-g-r-a-p-h-y---p-o-r-t-f-o-l-i-o-n-o-w---o-n The mobile is becoming the new web!! And most of us travellers are smartphone users. So why am I missing on catching the ‘mobile’ bus was the question that was plaguing my mind for a long while. Both my travel blog and photography portfolio could be seen on the mobile, but it was the web version that was rendering on the mobile. This web version on the mobile brought with it a unique set of problems. My travel blog used to take a lot of time to load on the mobile and the widgets on the site would add to the misery. And my photography portfolio, where the slideshow runs on Flash failed to render properly on the mobile and again was very slow.

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To overcome these problems, I put my limited technical knowledge and ‘Googling’ to full use and tried various 3rd party tools, mobile templates and native mobile apps. But, none of them solved my purpose as they were either too slow or directed my online properties through their site or ended up showing unwanted Ads.

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After a lot of online research and permutations and combinations, I finally ended up using the default mobile template provided by blogger for my travel blog and built a custom template for my photography portfolio. The mobile template for the travel blog is lean and hence loads quickly. It works on all mobile platforms as certified by Google. And it provides a simple user interface for the user to see my photographs, read my content and comment through the commenting system. The navigation is also pretty simple, though doesn’t have the flexibility of the web, but what the hell, how much can I browse on the mobile.

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The mobile app for the photography portfolio offers a whole lot more functionality. My slideshows are there are so are my picture thumbnails. My site navigation has been retained and offers great flexibility in navigation. And all these have been perfectly morphed for the mobile. But, it does have its limitations. This mobile view is currently limited to the iPhone and the Android devices. And the videos do not play exactly the way I want it to. Right now, I have to click the back button to get the video to load. Still some more work is needed here, but I am very happy with the progress so far.

Would love to hear your thoughts on what you think of the new mobile views!! Here is the URL again for your reference.

Travel Blog: http://www.beontheroad.com (All mobile platforms)

Photography Portfolio: http://photos.beontheroad.com (iPhone and Android)

Do remember to enter this in your mobile browser!!

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) BE ON THE ROAD Mobile Views Travel Blog BE ON THE ROAD - Travel and Photography Photography Portfolio http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-b-l-o-g---a-n-d---p-h-o-t-o-g-r-a-p-h-y---p-o-r-t-f-o-l-i-o-n-o-w---o-n Fri, 24 Feb 2012 11:43:00 GMT
Top Free Things to do in Australia for Backpackers http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-t-o-p---f-r-e-e---t-h-i-n-g-s---t-o---d-o---i-n---a-u-s-t-r-a-l-i-a---f-o-r Especially in today’s economy, many travel as inexpensively as possible. Visiting world renown destinations does not necessarily require great financial sacrifices. Backpacking is a popular form of sightseeing and touring among the younger set. Budget conscious travellers enjoying Australian holidays find dozens of locations around the country’s largest cities that do not require fees. Beaches and coastal walks do not cost travellers anything to visit and many museums welcome guests without charging admission fees. One city in particular offers tram services around the metropolis free of charge.

Australia’s largest cities lie along the coast, offering amazing views and the opportunity to view local wildlife. Melbourne developed on the southern coast and offers guests on Australian holidays the chance to see the city by taking the free City Tram. Passengers may board and exit anywhere in Melbourne and take limitless rides throughout the day. The NGV International is the oldest museum and art gallery in the country. Exhibits and artefacts include pieces from ancient Egypt and Roman times to contemporary art. The Yarra River meanders through the city and features a free outdoor art exhibit, in addition to amazing sights. The Queen Victoria Market, located on the corner of Elizabeth and Victoria streets, welcomes visitors five days a week. Journey through the many areas that house approximately 1,000 vendors selling everything from fresh produce and homemade foods to clothing and pets.

Situated along the south eastern coast, Sydney offers the chance to enjoy a coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee Walk. Indulge in a refreshing swim at Coogee Beach, relax in the sun, or visit one of the many cafes located along the boardwalk. Tour the world famous Opera House inside and out, or journey to Darling Harbour, where street performers often provide live entertainment. Located in the heart of the Sydney, the Royal Botanic Gardens encompasses over 30 hectares with displays of native and international plant life. The Rocks Discovery Museum, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Sydney Observatory all welcome guests and do not charge entrance fees. The Australian National Maritime Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art are also free of charge to visitors.

Further up the eastern Australia coast lie Brisbane, Gold Coast and Rockhampton. Brisbane Museum and the City Hall Art Gallery not only do not charge admittance, but both facilities also provide free tours on certain days of the week. The city’s 52 hectare botanic gardens offers visitors on Australian holidays the opportunity of strolling through numerous gardens containing subtropical plants. All of the National Parks in Gold Coast are free and provide the chance of seeing picturesque landscape while trekking through rainforests on the many trails. Springbrook National Park is noted for having a variety of waterfalls. Cool off from the heat by taking a dip in a cool mountain stream. Many Rockhampton visitors enjoy climbing Mt. Archer, which rises to 604m at its tallest north peak. Anglers might drop a line in the Fitzroy River, for the chance to catch native barramundi. Enjoy the antics of animals from all over the world at the Rockhampton Zoo.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Backpacking Travel and Tourism Travel Guest Post Backpacker Australia http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-t-o-p---f-r-e-e---t-h-i-n-g-s---t-o---d-o---i-n---a-u-s-t-r-a-l-i-a---f-o-r Fri, 24 Feb 2012 07:58:00 GMT
Top Free Things to do in Australia for Backpackers http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/top-free-things-to-do-in-australia-for Especially in today’s economy, many travel as inexpensively as possible. Visiting world renown destinations does not necessarily require great financial sacrifices. Backpacking is a popular form of sightseeing and touring among the younger set. Budget conscious travellers enjoying Australian holidays find dozens of locations around the country’s largest cities that do not require fees. Beaches and coastal walks do not cost travellers anything to visit and many museums welcome guests without charging admission fees. One city in particular offers tram services around the metropolis free of charge.

Australia’s largest cities lie along the coast, offering amazing views and the opportunity to view local wildlife. Melbourne developed on the southern coast and offers guests on Australian holidays the chance to see the city by taking the free City Tram. Passengers may board and exit anywhere in Melbourne and take limitless rides throughout the day. The NGV International is the oldest museum and art gallery in the country. Exhibits and artefacts include pieces from ancient Egypt and Roman times to contemporary art. The Yarra River meanders through the city and features a free outdoor art exhibit, in addition to amazing sights. The Queen Victoria Market, located on the corner of Elizabeth and Victoria streets, welcomes visitors five days a week. Journey through the many areas that house approximately 1,000 vendors selling everything from fresh produce and homemade foods to clothing and pets.

Situated along the south eastern coast, Sydney offers the chance to enjoy a coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee Walk. Indulge in a refreshing swim at Coogee Beach, relax in the sun, or visit one of the many cafes located along the boardwalk. Tour the world famous Opera House inside and out, or journey to Darling Harbour, where street performers often provide live entertainment. Located in the heart of the Sydney, the Royal Botanic Gardens encompasses over 30 hectares with displays of native and international plant life. The Rocks Discovery Museum, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Sydney Observatory all welcome guests and do not charge entrance fees. The Australian National Maritime Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art are also free of charge to visitors.

Further up the eastern Australia coast lie Brisbane, Gold Coast and Rockhampton. Brisbane Museum and the City Hall Art Gallery not only do not charge admittance, but both facilities also provide free tours on certain days of the week. The city’s 52 hectare botanic gardens offers visitors on Australian holidays the opportunity of strolling through numerous gardens containing subtropical plants. All of the National Parks in Gold Coast are free and provide the chance of seeing picturesque landscape while trekking through rainforests on the many trails. Springbrook National Park is noted for having a variety of waterfalls. Cool off from the heat by taking a dip in a cool mountain stream. Many Rockhampton visitors enjoy climbing Mt. Archer, which rises to 604m at its tallest north peak. Anglers might drop a line in the Fitzroy River, for the chance to catch native barramundi. Enjoy the antics of animals from all over the world at the Rockhampton Zoo.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Backpacking Travel and Tourism Travel Guest Post Backpacker Australia http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/top-free-things-to-do-in-australia-for Fri, 24 Feb 2012 07:58:00 GMT
A Ladakh Moment! http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-l-a-d-a-k-h---m-o-m-e-n-t Ladakh is a place where one can get stupefied by its beauty at every turn. Be it its people, its landscapes, its penchant for adventure, its rarefied atmosphere or its religious fervour. And I got to see this in plenty during my winter trip to this exotic Himalayan locale.

Reflection of the Himalayan mountains on the Hemis Monastery windowIMG_8382  
It was such a moment one fine evening at the Hemis Monastery. I had finished exploring the monastery and nearabouts and was heading back to my car when I saw this excellent reflection of the mighty Himalayas on the monastery window. The brightly coloured windows of Ladakh, in itself are quite a sight and to top it I got to see the colours of the setting sun on the Western Himalayas as a reflection in it. And the bare trees just added to the moment. In essence, a special Ladakh moment!!

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Hemis High Altitude National Park Travel and Photography Travel Photography Backpacking Jammu and Kashmir Hemis Monastery Hemis India Himalayas Ladakh Travel Travel and Tourism Western Himalayas http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-l-a-d-a-k-h---m-o-m-e-n-t Tue, 14 Feb 2012 11:01:00 GMT
A Ladakh Moment! http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/ladakh-moment Ladakh is a place where one can get stupefied by its beauty at every turn. Be it its people, its landscapes, its penchant for adventure, its rarefied atmosphere or its religious fervour. And I got to see this in plenty during my winter trip to this exotic Himalayan locale.

Reflection of the Himalayan mountains on the Hemis Monastery windowIMG_8382  
It was such a moment one fine evening at the Hemis Monastery. I had finished exploring the monastery and nearabouts and was heading back to my car when I saw this excellent reflection of the mighty Himalayas on the monastery window. The brightly coloured windows of Ladakh, in itself are quite a sight and to top it I got to see the colours of the setting sun on the Western Himalayas as a reflection in it. And the bare trees just added to the moment. In essence, a special Ladakh moment!!

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Hemis High Altitude National Park Travel and Photography Travel Photography Backpacking Jammu and Kashmir Hemis Monastery Hemis India Himalayas Ladakh Travel Travel and Tourism Western Himalayas http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/ladakh-moment Tue, 14 Feb 2012 11:01:00 GMT
Hemis Monastery: Ladakh’s richest monastery http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-h-e-m-i-s---m-o-n-a-s-t-e-r-y---l-a-d-a-k-h-s---r-i-c-h-e-s-t Ladakh is the land of monasteries. Once upon a time, the entire region of Ladakh used to revolve around these monasteries. In fact, most of their festivals are celebrated with a lot of fervour in these monasteries. While the ones at Lamayuru and Alchi are the oldest, the one tucked near the Hemis high altitude national park is the richest in the region.

The houses of the monks next to the Hemis MoansteryIMG_8362  
The Hemis monastery, situated about 45 kms from Leh is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Drukpa Lineage. It is situated on the right side on the road that leads from Leh to Manali and is about 10 kms from Karo. The monastery and the rest of the Hemis town is unbelievably colder than the rest of the region owing to its higher altitude and the fact that it doesn’t get much sun in the winters.

Hemis Monastery - one of the richest monasteries of LadakhIMG_8369  
While I was there this winter, the cold factor was so harsh that pressing the camera shutter even with a couple of gloves itself was a challenge. As the sun hardly hits this town, most of the town never warms up and the cold bites right through you.

Colourful murals inside the Hemis MonasteryIMG_8379  
But, keeping the weather aside, the monastery and the place is quite exquisite. This is where the annual Hemis festival honouring Padmasambhava is held every June. The views of the Western Himalayas from the top of monastery is spectacular. The murals inside the monastery are very ornate too. Even though this monastery began in the 11th century and then re-established in 1672, this monastery still exists in pristine condition.

The sun sets over the houses of the monks at HemisIMG_8371  
In the summer and during the festival days, this place is completely happening, but if you can bear the chill factor, then even the winters can be enterprising with its calmness, its frozen streams, its spectacular views and serene atmosphere.

The barren Himalayas as seen from Hemis MonasteryIMG_8366  
I would definitely recommend a visit to this place if you happen to visit Ladakh. A day trip would be ideal to explore this place and if you have more time, you can continue from here and continue towards the Hemis High Altitude National Park and spot some wildlife, especially the snow leopard. And if you are interested in trekking, you can go on the exciting Markha valley trek that begins from the Hemis High Altitude National Park and ends in the Zanskar region.

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Hemis High Altitude National Park Travel and Photography Travel Photography Backpacking Jammu and Kashmir Buddhism Hemis Monastery Winter Hemis India Leh Ladakh Travel Travel and Tourism Buddhist Monastery http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/-h-e-m-i-s---m-o-n-a-s-t-e-r-y---l-a-d-a-k-h-s---r-i-c-h-e-s-t Tue, 14 Feb 2012 09:56:00 GMT
Hemis Monastery: Ladakh’s richest monastery http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/hemis-monastery-ladakhs-richest Ladakh is the land of monasteries. Once upon a time, the entire region of Ladakh used to revolve around these monasteries. In fact, most of their festivals are celebrated with a lot of fervour in these monasteries. While the ones at Lamayuru and Alchi are the oldest, the one tucked near the Hemis high altitude national park is the richest in the region.

The houses of the monks next to the Hemis MoansteryIMG_8362  
The Hemis monastery, situated about 45 kms from Leh is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Drukpa Lineage. It is situated on the right side on the road that leads from Leh to Manali and is about 10 kms from Karo. The monastery and the rest of the Hemis town is unbelievably colder than the rest of the region owing to its higher altitude and the fact that it doesn’t get much sun in the winters.

Hemis Monastery - one of the richest monasteries of LadakhIMG_8369  
While I was there this winter, the cold factor was so harsh that pressing the camera shutter even with a couple of gloves itself was a challenge. As the sun hardly hits this town, most of the town never warms up and the cold bites right through you.

Colourful murals inside the Hemis MonasteryIMG_8379  
But, keeping the weather aside, the monastery and the place is quite exquisite. This is where the annual Hemis festival honouring Padmasambhava is held every June. The views of the Western Himalayas from the top of monastery is spectacular. The murals inside the monastery are very ornate too. Even though this monastery began in the 11th century and then re-established in 1672, this monastery still exists in pristine condition.

The sun sets over the houses of the monks at HemisIMG_8371  
In the summer and during the festival days, this place is completely happening, but if you can bear the chill factor, then even the winters can be enterprising with its calmness, its frozen streams, its spectacular views and serene atmosphere.

The barren Himalayas as seen from Hemis MonasteryIMG_8366  
I would definitely recommend a visit to this place if you happen to visit Ladakh. A day trip would be ideal to explore this place and if you have more time, you can continue from here and continue towards the Hemis High Altitude National Park and spot some wildlife, especially the snow leopard. And if you are interested in trekking, you can go on the exciting Markha valley trek that begins from the Hemis High Altitude National Park and ends in the Zanskar region.

 

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sankaracs@beontheroad.com (BE ON THE ROAD Travel Photography | Sankara Subramanian C) Backpacking Buddhism Buddhist Monastery Hemis Hemis High Altitude National Park Hemis Monastery India Jammu and Kashmir Ladakh Leh Travel Travel Photography Travel and Photography Travel and Tourism Winter http://photos.beontheroad.com/blog/2012/2/hemis-monastery-ladakhs-richest Tue, 14 Feb 2012 09:56:00 GMT