Thursday, December 17, 2009

DIU - The island, the beach, the waves, the sun and the fun.

Diu has inspired me to write this blog. Diu is not just another island of Gujarat. It is probably one of the most peaceful islands of Indian subcontinent. If you are a person born and raised in a metropolitan, if you are a serious traveler than you would fall in love with this paradise. I have tried my best to provide maximum travel information in this blog about Diu.

Please feel free to email any suggestions to me on mrugesh.thaker@gmail.com

LOCATION: Diu is an Island city, district and a part on union territory. Diu is located in the southern region of Saurashtra. Saurashtra region is the western part of Gujarat state in India. Diu is separated from the mainland Gujarat by a tidal creek. With 3 beautiful beaches around it, Diu is not a part of Gujarat. Diu is administrated by the central government. It has an area of 40 square kilometers.




View Larger Map


HISTORY: No history is available about since when the island is inhabited. In 1535 the emperor of Gujarat allowed Portuguese to construct a fort and maintain a garrison on the island. He allowed Portuguese to build a fort as a part of building a defensive alliance against the emperor of India, Humayun. Diu was under the Portuguese rule from 1545 until 1961.The Indian army got the island back from Portuguese in 1961

A MAJOR TOURIST SPOT : Because of sunny beaches and beautiful sunset, Diu attracts a lot of tourists. Nagoa beach, Chakrateerth beach and Ghoghla beach are 3 best beaches in Diu. There are 3 churches and a Shiv Temple. A seashell museum, bird watch tower, Diu fort, fortim-do-mar (Pani kotha), the caves of Nayda are main attractions of Diu. Tourism is the heart of Diu.

BEACHES:

Nagoa beach: is a horseshoe shaped beach with various water sports facilities. A perfect and safe beach to swim and rest in the sunny weather. Napping under palm trees in cool breeze makes the experience memorable.

Ghoghla beach: is the largest and gentlest beach of Diu. You can do swimming, sunbathing, parasailing, surfing etc.

Chakrateerth beach: although no watersports and other activities are available, you can love the sandy beach. It has a beautiful sunset point and a memorial of Indian battleship INS Khukri which was destroyed by Pakistan in the 1971 war (It was the only Indian ship destroyed by Pakistan in the battle)

RELIGIOUS PLACES: 


Gangeshwar Mahadev: Gangeshwar Mahadev is 3 kilometers from the Jethibai Bus Terminus of Diu. This beautiful and sacred place has 5 shiv-lingams. The Shiv-lingam gets an abhishek by the ocean when it is on high tide. The legend is that the Pandavas worshipped load Shiva here during their exile.

St.Paul's Church: St.Paul is a beautiful church dedicated to Virgin Mary. Built in 1610. It is perhaps one of the most elaborated Portuguese churches in India. The architecture style is lot like the churches of Goa. It is known for one of the best craftsmanship on the wood. St.Paul church would attract those seeking peace and god.

St.Francis Church: This church was built in 1593. It is still a place to worship. However, the cloister is used as a hospital.

St.Thomas Church: It was built in Gothic style in 1598. Been converted into a museum, it has stone carving from earlier rulers, wooding carving, idols and antique statues. It looks beautiful in the evening when multicolored fountains and special lighting decorates the building.

OTHER PLACES:


Fortim-do-mar (Pani kotha) : A stone structure (a fort) built between the sea. Approximately a nautical mile from the mainland Diu. It also has a lighthouse and a place dedicated to the lady of the sea. Tourist boats are available to reach the Pani kotha.

Sea Shell museum: A unique and amazing museum for lovers of ocean life. Sea shells and several interesting sea creatures are displayed under the magnifying glass. There are approximately 2500 seashells in the museum.

Diu Fort: Among all the places, the Diu fort has a prominent position in the places of tourist interest. It is a huge and impressive structure. It was constructed between 1535 and 1541 by the Portuguese, the fort has gorgeous view of the sea and Panikotha. You feel the history and battle fought by gallant soldiers.

INS Khukri Memorial: It was inaugurated on 15th December, 1999 in memory of the heroic sailors and officer who chose not to stop fighting and leave ship until it completely sank. INS Khukri was a frigate of the Indian navy. In the war of 1971 three torpedoes shot by Pakistani navy sank it. It sank 40 nautical miles from Diu taking down 8 officers and 186 sailors. Except having a chance to save his life, captain Mahendra Nath Mulla (Mahavir Chakra winner) chose to go down with the warship. An example of spirit and courage of Indian navy officers. It was the one and the only ship destroyed by the Pakistani navy. Indian navy finished the whole Pakistani navy and the port of Karachi in just 48 hours.

SPEACIAITY - Those who are interested in food, Diu has a special variety for them which is found no where else in the country. It is called Hoka (Hyphoena indica) the only Indian tree which has African genus. Portuguese brought them from Africa. Surprisingly Diu has a great number of these trees. Probably because it is believed that the western part of Gujarat (the Saurashtra region) was the part of African mainland in Triassic age. The fruit of Hoka tree is tasty and edible. Hoka fruits are believed to be good for hearts.

Diu Marine department has now started a ferry service where we can see Dolphines. The ferry operates 2.30 to 3.30 pm Monday to Friday.  It costs Rs.200/- ($5.00) per person.

TRANSPORTATION: Rickshaws, private buses and cars are available in Diu. However, the best way to explore Diu is on Bicycle or a motorcycle. Your can hire a Bicycle at $1.50 (approximately Rs.75.00) a day and Motorcycle at $4.00 (approximately Rs.200.00) a day.

HOW TO GET THERE:
By air: Diu has an operational airport of Jet airways. There is a flight from Mumbai to Diu twice a week.

By train: The nearest major railway station is Veraval which is 90 kilometers from Diu. Veraval is connected to major cities like Ahmedabad and Mumbai. There are two daily trains to Veraval from Ahmedabad. More information on Indian Railways Website

By road: Private Luxury Coaches, Gujarat State transport buses are available from every major city of western India. Gujarat State Road Transport (Bus) Website

WHERE TO STAY: Diu has a wide range of hotels offering comfortable accommodation and food. From a 3 star hotel costing $60.00 per day to a discount hotel costing $6.00 per day. Below is the list of good hotels to stay:

3 star hotels and Resorts : (Rs.1400 to Rs.3000. Approximately $30.00 to $70.00) The Azzaro resortThe Radhika beach resort , The Sugati beach resort and Hotel Kohinoor

Delux hotels : (Rs,1000 to Rs.1700. Approximately $20.00 to $34.00) The Hoka resort, Hotel Ankur, Hotel Galaxy, Hotel Triveni and Hotel Alishan

Discount / Budget hotels : (Rs.500 to Rs.800. Approximately $12.00 to $20.00) -Hotel Aavkar and Hotel Sukoon.

Click on the link to get detailed tariff list of hotels of Diu --- Tariff list of Diu hotels

FAMOUS PLACE NEARBY : The Jyotirlingam of Somnath is 2 hours from Diu. It is one of most important Shiva temples in India. It attracts 100,000 tourists every year.

Diu is also known for its seafood and liquor. As the Gujarat state has prohibition on liquor, the liquor lovers visit Diu to enjoy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Best beaches of India


Note : I have provided the link to the websites of train service, bus services and airlines at the end of the post. Please scroll until the bottom of the page.

Neil island- Andaman and Nicobar


Neil island is situated in Andaman and Nicobar. The south western part of India. Neil is one of the several gorgeous islands of Andaman. An ideal holiday spot for those who loves nature. It is favorite among eco-friendly tourists. Beautiful beaches of Laxmanpur, Bharatpur and Sitapur are worth visiting. The bridge formation at the seas shore (the Howrah bridge) is a must see. The widest part of the island is 5 kms. You can walk on the whole island in about an hour.

The population is about 4000. Neil is referred as vegetable bowl of Andaman. There is not a huge market. Locals would love to cook you fish and vegetables while hiking. Sitapur beach is the main attraction. You can see live corals in shallow water and beautiful species of fishes.




Neil is connected with Port Blair (the capital of Andaman) 4 days a week. One way ticket costs Rs.200 (approx $4.00) Book your tickets atleast 3 days prior you visit. The boats leaves early in the morning at 6.30 am.


How to reach - You can reach Port Blair which is the Capital of Andaman from Kolkata or Chennai (3rd and 4th biggest Indian cities. Kolkata and Chennai have International airports and well connected with all major Indian cities)



Anjuna beach - Goa



Anjuna is a village in Goa. Place of one of the Brahman commodities. During the 60's and 70's it was the favorite destination of hippies.Besides the beach it is known to the travelers from all over the world for its flea market. This market has anything from Indian souvenirs to antiques. Once it was a hippie center of Goa is now one of the aging tourist destinations.




Anjuna is safe for watersports. White sands makes it awesome for sun bathing. It is favorite among sun starved European tourists.

How to reach - Anjuna is 18 kilometers (10 miles approx) from the Goa's capital city Panjim. Panjim is well connected to all the major cities of India by Railways, Airways and Buses.

Lakshadweep the paradise 



Lakshadweep is probably among top 5 most beautiful beaches of the world. Lakshadweep is a Sanskirt word which means "1000 islands". It is the smallest union territory of India. It is only 200 to 300 kms from the Kerela coast. Out of hundreds, only 10 of the Islands are inhabited. The total land area is 11 sq mi or 32 square kms. The main language of the island is Malayalam and a dialect of Malayalam




Lakshadweep has a large scenic appeal. The water is crystal clear and beach is sunny. The ideal and best place for scuba diving. Lakshadweep cannot support big industries because of being a small region. Tourism is the only industry. World first low temperature thermal desalination plant was opened in Lakshadweep.




How to reach by Air - Lakshadweep only has 1 operating Aerodrome in Agatti. The Indian Airlines provides air service. From 2007, the Kingfisher airlines has started flights to Agatti from Bangalore (Karnataka) and Kochi Kerela.

By ship - The other islands has well connected ship services from Kochi or Calicut (Kerela) There are 5 ships from Kochi to reach the Lakshadweep islands. Advanced booking prior 4 days is recommended. There are larger ships which are operated between islands. Information about ship fares Click here - Website of Ship fares and timings


Kovalam Beach Paradise of the South (Kerala)


Kerela is called God's own country by world tourism. Kerela is blessed with beauty of hills, rainforests, beaches and backwaters. The beaches of Kerela are among best in the world. Kovalam Beach is best of all beaches. It is totally opposite of Goa. Goa is for backpackers but Kerela is for those who want a peaceful vacation in nature's lap. The clam beauty attracts more upper-class tourists. The best time to visit is October to March.


Kovalam is on the west coast of Kerela. It is only 8 miles from Thiruvananthapuram (the capital city of Kerela state) The lush green surroundings around the beach, shade of tall coconut trees and coll breeze makes a memorable holiday. The international tourists prefer Kovalam to relax and get an Aayurvedic Herbal Massage. The delicious sea food attracts thousands and scuba diving with colorful corals is an experience of life time.

How to reach ? - Kovalam is only 30 minutes from Thiruvananthapuram which is the capital city of Kerela. Thiruvananthapuram is well connected to all the Major cities of India by Air, Road and Trains. Below is the Website links for airtravel.

 Radhanagar Beach  - Andaman


Radhanagar is probably one of the top 3 beaches of Andaman. It is full of natural beauty, white sand and a small tropical rainforest. It has an extra ordinary marine life which can be seen through naked eyes as the water is crystal clear.





How to reach - You can reach Andaman from Kolkata or Chennai (3rd and 4th biggest Indian cities. Metros with International airports) Radhanagar is well connected with Port Blair (the capital of Andaman) through regular ship service.

Benaulim Beach, Goa


This Portuguese named beach is not very well known. It is one of the reasons of it’s charm. It is a beach town a little south of Margao in Goa, India. It is in the center of Colva beach in South Goa. Being a fishing beach it gets fairly crowded in evening and weekends. The water is safe for swimming.


A legend says lord Parshurama shot an arrow from the Sahyadri Mountains and the town is now situated where the arrow landed. The place also sacred for Christians being the birthplace of Father Joseph Vaz.

How to reach - The town is well connected to the Goan capital of Panjim. Panjim is well connected to all major cities of India.

Minicoy  - Lakshadweep


Minicoy is the second largest island of union territory of Lakshadweep. A prior permission is needed to enter Minicoy.It is cresent shaped and it is approximately 10 kilometers long. There is large lagoon deep enough for small ships.
A lighthouse built in 1885 is a good time to spent time. The cool breeze and the feeling of time being slow is awesome. The island has beautiful coral reef. Scuba diving facility is available.  The beaches has change rooms and  and facility to kayak and sail. 



How to reach by Air - Lakshadweep only has 1 operating Aerodrome in Agatti. The Indian Airlines provides air service. From 2007, the Kingfisher airlines has started flights to Agatti from Bangalore
(Karnataka) and Kochi Kerela.

By ship - The other islands has well connected ship services from Kochi or Calicut (Kerela) There are 5 ships from Kochi to reach the Lakshadweep islands. Advanced booking prior 4 days is recommended. There are larger ships which are operated between islands. Information about ship fares Click here - Website of Ship fares and timings

Where to stay -  There are 3 tourist cottages and a tourist house with a capacity of 20 beds..





The marine national park - Narara (Jamnagar)



Information - The marine national park is the only place in the world where you can see live corals without diving into the ocean.  Narara is situated in the gulf of Kuttch. It is a paradise for marine life lovers and birdwatchers. Starfish, jellyfish, octopus, corals, boxer fish, sea horse, sea turtles, lobsters and dolphins can be seen. 

The Marine Sanctuary has: (1) Beautiful coral Reefs (2) Variety of Hard & Soft Corals (3) Approximately 70 species of Sponges (4) 27 species of prawns (5) 94 species of Water Birds (6) 200 species of Mollusks (7) 30 species of Crabs (8) Endangered Sea Turtles (9) 3 Species of Sea Mammals


How to reach - To reach Narara, first we need to reach Ahmedabad which is the biggest city of Gujarat and 7th biggest city of India. It has an international airport and it is well connected to various parts of the country by air, railways and road. From Ahmedabad we need to reach Jamnagar which is 6th biggest city of Gujarat state. Frequent buses, cabs and railways are available to reach Jamnagar from Ahmedabad. However, to reach Narara from Jamnagar, there are no direct state transport buses or railways available. From Jamnagar a private taxi can be hired to reach Narara which is recommended. The state transport buses passes through Wadinar which is 10 kilometers from Narara.



Location - Narara is located in westernmost part of India. The marine national park of Jamnagar is situated in Jamnagar district of Gujarat state. It is approximately 300 kilometers from the nearest International airport of Ahmedabad and 30 kilometers from the nearest Domestic airport of Jamnagar.


View Larger Map

Important:

* To do the coral work and enjoy the marine life, we need to obtain permission from the forest department. It can be obtained from Jamnagar.
* Best time to visit is from October to March
* Do check the time of hightide. The coral walk can be done in low tide only.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bondi beach Australia - Top beaches of the world

 Bondi - Australia's best



Bondi is well known all over the world. It is Australia's best beach and probably the best of Oceania as well. It is in the Australian national heritage list. It is approximately 1 kms long. Located approximately 7 kms from the Sydney business centre, it is a favorite place for Sydney citizens. An underwater Shark net is shared during the summer months. Bondi Beach hosted the beach volleyball competition in the Summer Olympics of the year 2000. Numerous events such as the annual Miss Bondi and skateboarding competition is held every February.



How to reach - Bondi is a suburb of Sydney. It is very easy to get there as it is among the best known beaches of Australia. Sydney is Australia's biggest city and the capital of the State of New South Wales. Using public transport is recommended as parking can be a problem in Sydney. In some places the parking time is limited to 2 hours.

Bondi is well connected with Sydney transport service. Buses run to the beach at 10 minutes from Bondi junction. Railway station is about 2 kilometers from the beach.

For Sydney bus information click --> http://www.sydneybuses.info
For Ferry information click ---> http://www.sydneyferries.info
For Train information visit ---> http://www.cityrail.info

Oahu, Honolulu - Top beaches of the world



Oahu, Honolulu 




Is 3rd largest island of Hawaii (by land area) and most populous of all Hawaii islands. It has a total land area of 596.7 square miles. Although It doesn't have a rail or a road connection, it is hottest tourist spot in the USA. Home to about 900,000 people, the state capital is Honolulu which is the largest city and the state capital.

Honolulu has everything you can think of. From 5 star restaurants to road side cafes. From finest boutiques to side walk t-shirt vendors. The city has lush green spaces and also the skyscrapers. 





Hanauma Bay, Waikīkī Beach, Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach, Waimanalo Beach, Ala Moana Beach,  Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay, Sandy Beach are some of the best beaches. 

Getting around in Honolulu is easy. City bus is available from 6.00 am until midnight. The bus ride is very cheap and cost only $1 per ride with transfers if you head in the same general direction.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bora Bora - Top beaches of the world


Bora Bora Island - French Polynesia
 
Bora Bora is an Island in the French Polynesia. French Polynesia is an overseas territory in the Pacific Ocean under the French rule. Bora Bora is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. The island only has about 8,800 people (August 2007) As the island is too small to hold any large industry, the island’s main industry is tourism. Several resorts have been built in the past few years surrounding the lagoon.


How to reach – You must begin the journey with reaching the capital city. The biggest island of the French Polynesia is Tahiti-Nui. Papeete is the capital city of French Polynesia. Papeete is situated on Tahiti- Nui. It has an International airport (Faa'a International Airport) Bora Bora Island is well connected with Papeete with Airlines and Ships. Below are the website links of International airlines which has regular flights to Papeete :


How to travel within the Islands by Air - You can use the Air Tahiti flights which is regional airline based in Tahiti. It connects all 46 islands of French Polynesia. The website of Air Tahiti is ---->> http://www.airtahiti.aero/home.php



 How to travel within the Islands by Sea - After you arrive in the capital city of Papeete, there are several seacrafts which makes regular trips to Bora Bora. Please click on this link to get details about boats and Yatchs -->> Weblink to boats and yatch services


 
Once you get to the Bora Bora, you can rent a car, scooter or bicycle to roam around the island. Please avoid hitchhiking as most islands are too small, the danger factor is low and most drivers will avoid you. Book a vehicle at the Bora Bora activity centre. Link to the activity centre is http://www.boraboraisland.com/activitycenter/rentals.html#boats



Where to stay – Below is the list of less expensive family hotels in the Bora Bora

Clifton beach South Africa - Top beaches of the world


It is gorgeous, it is pure fun and it is voted by the Discovery channel as the best beach by region. Clifton is the suburb of Cape Town, S.Africa. The Cifton beach has been awarded for environmental, safety and tourist standards. There are 4 beaches in the Clifton beach. Only the first beach attracts family and crowds (The second beach attracts gay men) It is at number 8 in the Top 10 Topless beaches in the World.

How to reach - The biggest (Johannesburg International Airport) of South Africa is well connected to all Major International Cities. The Cape Town International Airort is second busiest airport of South Africa.  It has direct flights from London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Singapore and Buenos Aires. As Cape town is one of the major cities of South Africa, taxi rental is easy. Any hotel reception will help.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Maldives - Top beaches of the world


Maldives is a beautiful island country. It is only a few hundred kilometers from the Indian Territory of Lakshdweep. The largest city is Male which is the capital of Maldives. Maldives is only 1.5 metres above the sea level. It makes it the lowest country on the planet. Although it is the smallest country of Asia, it attracts the maximum number of beach tourists than any other Asian country. It has 1,192 islands of which two hundred are inhabited. Every island has beautiful beaches. The beaches are safe to swim and surf.
 

Maldives probably has THE BEST beaches in Asia. Many of them are unexplored. Because of the lack of direct flights, the American tourists are unaware about this paradise. However, European tourists has been visiting Maldives since hundred years. Maldives has been called paradise for scuba divers. It has the highest level of visibility that one could expect- sometimes exceeds 50 metres.



How to reach – There is no need to apply for a visa. Maldives government grants 30 day on arrival visa to visitors. Please click here to visit the Official website of Maldives Air Company Ltd. To know about the flight schedule, please click -----> Information on direct flights

Where to stay -  The Reethi beach resort and Hotel Fresco are best staying option (Under $115.00 per day) Please click on the link to see the list of best 50 hotels --> List of 50 best hotels