Kerala God’s own country a must visit

Kerala also known as God’s own country has its historic importance as when lord Vishnu threw his axe and created a place for his devotees to live peacefully. For me it is God’s own country because of its undefinable beauty and serenity. Kerala has nearly 600 kms of shore line with incredible beaches, backwaters, forests, wildlife, enchanting palm trees and greenery.

Apart from beauty there are others things like tea, coffee and spice plantations, rich culture, traditional massages, medicinal herbs and great food it simply lacks nothing.

Things to do in Kerala

Munnar a beautiful hill station amidst tea gardens

Best way to start is take a flight to Cochin and hire a cab which picks you from airport and head for Munnar. The way to Munnar is extremely beautiful, you can enjoy the view with music.

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Will advice you to take a stay in a resort which is located near tea gardens to feel the perfect tranquility of this place. A two day stay at Munnar is good to completely explore the place for details about what you can do in Munnar, you can check the post Munnar the silent beauty.

Alleppey backwaters in a houseboat

After seeing Munnar you can drive down to Alleppey, which is known for its backwaters and popular attraction the houseboat stays. One day house boat stay is enough as its just staying in the boat and enjoying the sea.

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Lunch would be on the boat and they provide only Kerela meals during the day time, if you are fussy about food make sure you mention your food preferences before hand.

They park the boat at the parking around 5 pm, you can walk around and enjoy the view and sunset.

Boat crew can make arrangements for a candle light dinner on the boat but the menu is quite fixed while booking please check the food options you want.

Few tips about the houseboat stay:

  • Book the boat from a  good company, checking all the facilities they provide to have a good service
  • Usually you can use air conditioner only in night, so choose a good season to visit
  • Do not leave the door of your room open as near the parking you might face issues of mosquitoes otherwise
  • Use water carefully as they have a limited supply for it
  • You will get the instructions when you reach at the place would advise to check in advance while booking
  • Keep some light snacks just in case food is not of your choice

Thekkady a place to enjoy wildlife and Kerala Massages

Drive down to Thekkady from Alleppey, you can enjoy Elephant Safari or book a night safari to have the enriching the wildlife experience. Thekkady is also a great center for traditional Kerela massages book your appointment in morning to enjoy the relaxation at your convenience.

Poovar and Kovalam beach Kerala

Poovar and Kovalam are the two best beaches of Kerala and the trip is incomplete without visiting those. You should atleast spend two days there to do explore the place nicely. Where to stay and what do to here you can find it in my post about Kerala’s most attractive beaches Poovar and Kovalam.

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We started with a hill station, followed by the houseboat stay at backwaters, followed by the forest experience and ended with chilling on the beach. Kerala was a perfect destination to have a taste of everything and we had a wonderful time.

 

 

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Kerala’s most attractive beaches Poovar and Kovalam

Poovar or Kovalam both are beautiful, where to stay? This is a very common question which arises, when you are planning a trip to Kerala. Well, the answer is very simple, if you are looking for a relaxing stay, away from the crowd close to nature Poovar is your choice and if you wish to enjoy the liveliness of the beach surrounded by tourists, shopping, markets, restaurants Kovalam is the right option. What did I do? I took the stay at Poovar and did a one day trip to Kovalam and enjoyed both.

Poovar Beach Kerala

This was the best experience in my entire Kerala trip, Poovar beach is also known as the island of coconuts as it is surrounded by these lush green trees adding to the tranquility of this place. You can have a short tour by clicking on the video link below to see the gorgeous place.

Choosing a good  place to stay at Poovar is the most important thing to have an enriching experience. We chose Isola de Cocco resort for our stay at Poovar and it came out to be a great decision.

Isola de Cocco resort

The resort is spread out in 30 acres of land and is incredibly gorgeous. Starting from the entrance to the backyard its surrounded by nature. Looks like they own a mini forest and a river bank of there own. The backwaters adds a star to scenic location of this resort. You can choose your preferred option to stay from a suite room to a tree house or a pool villa they have it all. Food and service are equally great. Let’s have a quick sneak peek in the resort.

The splendid entrance…

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Needless to say Isola de Cocco is great a choice but what you can do here apart from relaxing. There are few good activities you can do at this place.

Activities

Mangrove forest tour

Sightseeing the mangrove forest was really an amazing experience. Click on the video below to have a slight feel of how it was.

We also saw some birds during our tour, I wish I had those high resolution cameras at that point to capture the pictures even better.

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How long you want the tour depends on how much you wish to pay to the boat guy, ask and negotiate the time and money on the first day when you arrive at the resort so you can check out the place at your convenience.

Watching sunset at the beach

Nothing can be compared to watch a sunset on a beach where there is so much tranquility.

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Arabian sea is quite rough, the waves are massive and the sound is gigantic. Water is milky white and the sand is soft. I can’t dare to swim was happy watching.

Kathakali show arranged by Isola de Cocco

The resort guys organised a Kathakali show for us in the evening, reach early to occupy the front seats. The show was performed under a tree surrounded by a stone stage adding to the feel of it.

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Kathakali is a dance form all about expressions and performers dressed up in colourful costumes. It was a magnificent show and kudos to all the performers. Its a must watch if you love art and culture.

Kovalam Beach Kerela

Kovalam is situated around 17 kms from Poovar beach, its very lively and beautiful as well. It took us close to 45 mins by car to reach there, we tried different kinds of food and enjoyed the view.

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The beach is quite crowded as its not visible in pictures but it is, the location is touristy surrounded by live fish counters and shopping streets.

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There is a lighthouse as well near the beach which is open for tourists to visit, the place is scenic and has a tinge of Kerala’s culture.

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We spent less time at Kovalam compared to Poovar but its definitely worth a visit. If you are a foodie and wish to try the south Indian cuisine this place is a paradise for you. There are lot of open cafes where you can sit and enjoy the sunset.

I loved both the beaches and time spent here is worth cherishing. Kerela trip is incomplete without these two places.

Munnar the silent beauty!

Beauty all around with all shades of green, freshness in the air touching your soul. Peaceful yet musical is this hill station in Kerela called Munnar, which means three rivers. It is called so because of the confluence of three rivers Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala.

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Things to do in Munnar for two days

Blossom Park

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Blossom Park as the name suggests has beautiful flowers and is huge in area. This is a very well maintained park where people come and relax, enjoy the nature.

Rose Garden and floriculture center

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Rose Garden has beautiful flowers and variety of flora, it is an amazing place for people who like flowers.

Echo point

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Like all hill stations Munnar also has a echo point, you shout and the voice comes back. It is also a famous photo spot.

Mattupetti dam

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This dam is a famous tourist attraction due to its splendid location and Shola forest nearby where you can visit to explore the wildlife.

Try the south Indian Cuisine

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Kerela has variety of delicious foods to offer do try the Kerela food and other South Indian dishes on your visit.

Tea Gardens

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Carpeted by this green blanket of tea gardens Munnar looks so mesmerizing. Tea gardens are an integral part of Munnar you can find them across this place adding to the tranquility of this place.

Tea Museum

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This place is a must go if you are really a tea lover, the museum shows you how the tea is processed after it comes from the gardens. The process of making tea is quite interesting to know, before you start your tour of visiting the machines and the steps the guide will tell you interesting facts about drinking tea. This place was fun, they give you free tea to try as well.

Munnar is popular for its picturesque location, tea gardens and rich wildlife. Weather is cool and nice never crosses 30 degree Celsius generally. A perfect place to chill, away from the busy city life. It is a very renowned spot for honeymooners as they can spend quality time with each other.

 

A day in Matheran: The no honking hill station

Matheran is the smallest hill station in India located in Raigad district of Maharashtra. Lush green trees surround it from all sides making it so exotic that every few kilometers, there is valley view point marked for tourists. Matheran is an Eco-sensitive zone and there are no vehicles allowed here. People travel on their feet and horses here. There is absolute serenity and you feel so close to nature.

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Matheran is a place for people who enjoy scenic landscapes and wish to relax in peace. If you are looking for party destinations Matheran is simply not the place for you.

We reached Mumbai, then took a local train to Neral, closest station to Matheran, usually a toy train runs from Neral to Matheran. The toy train is a must try attraction as you can enjoy the spectacular views on the way.

Unfortunately when we reached there, toy train was not running, we took a taxi to reach this place. We reached around 6.30 am in morning, so there were no horses available to take us to the main area where our hotel was located. The main market was a 4 km walk, please pack light because you have to be ready to walk at this place.

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The morning walk was very enjoyable, weather was amazing, finally we finished our walk and reached our hotel. The air was so fresh, I was already feeling rejuvenated.

You can enjoy the local delicacies in small restaurants located across the street, they serve amazing food even though they don’t have great ambience.

At 4 pm we hired a guide to show around the place, we used a horse to commute because the roads were muddy and rugged and morning walk was already tiring. I got a beautiful white horse to ride, it was fun and we saw some really picturesque photo points.

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All the points are located in a small stretch it’s just a different angle. No matter what name they call the point, all the spots were very scenic.

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The chill breeze was worth enjoying, had a great time. After the sightseeing we returned to the market again, there are many small shops you can visit. We tried the Kokam sharbat which was delicious. Market has lot of small carts which serve maggi and some snacks which are best to eat.

The resort was equally beautiful we had a nice dinner, the environment was so serene. Matheran is a perfect place to relax away from city noise and traffic.

It was a beautiful day among simple people, if you are looking for spending a day in lap of countryside Matheran is your destination.

Gangtok a perfect destination to find solace

Gangtok the capital city of Sikkim is known for its naturally beautiful treasures. Its like opening the box and enjoying every treasure you explore. Ever since I studied in my geography class that highest mountain peak in India is Kanchenjunga, I always wondered how magnificent it will look. It was one of the biggest reasons to plan a trip to Sikkim. Tranquility blended with exotic views makes Gangtok an immensely suitable destination for an amazing holiday.

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We hired a car from NJP (New Jalpaiguri) station which took us to Gangtok, the route was spectacular and Teesta river flowing through this state makes it even more appealing.

Compelling reasons to visit Gangtok

  • Beautiful waterfalls

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  • Awesome Mountains

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  • Pollution free environment

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  • Unmatched cleanliness

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  • Mesmerizing flowers

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  • Historic places

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  • Amazing people

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I think I have given enough reasons why it’s a place to find perfect solace, let’s see what we can do here.

Things to do in Gangtok

River rafting in Teesta

Teesta river has a sacred importance for people of Sikkim and it is also a famous spot for river rafting activity. The water is very cold and you can do rafting for a stretch of 11 km from Makha to Sirwani. Rapids are huge fun the rafting experience here is different, while rafting  you can also view fusion of two rivers. The location is picturesque and the rafters will offer a photographer, who will do the clicking for you while your enjoy rafting activity.

It will cost you close to 1000 INR per person for rafting, the cost differs from the place you book.

Flower exhibition

Gangtok has a flower exhibition at white hall, where there is a huge variety of different types of colourful flowers and flora.

Gangtok view from rope way cable ride

Rope way cable ride is a famous tourist attraction as you can see the entire city and a close look to the Kanchenjunga peak. Its a 1 km long cable starting from Deorali to Tashling lasting for about 7 minutes. The aerial view of city is amazing and looks like Kanchenjunga is calling you.

The ticket costs about 110 INR per person.

Historic Monasteries

Monasteries are pilgrims for Buddhists, Gangtok has splendid monasteries which are thousands of years old. The architecture is incredible, several lamas are been trained here. Monks and lamas are pretty shy people and they did not talk much but they were nice enough to allow us click some pictures. The atmosphere is serene giving these monasteries a divine touch. Most popular ones to visit are:

  • Rumtek Monastery
  • Tsuk La Khang Monastery
  • Lingdum Monastery
  • Pemayangtse Monastery

MG Marg

MG Marg which is named after Mahatma Gandhi is the busiest street in Gangtok, you have several options to shop and eat. You can get amazing shoes here, I got two pairs which everyone asked me about. It is clean and colourful because of the beautiful flowers planted near the benches. There are some really good souvenir shops, the entire market is worth a visit. Even if you are not fond of shopping you can visit this place to enjoy the Sikkimese delicacies.

A day tour to Nathula pass and Tsongmo lake

This tour is my personal favourite, Tsongmo lake or Changu lake is located at 12300 ft. It takes 1.5 to 2 hrs to reach this place from Gangtok. This was the first spot of the tour, I was spellbound by the surrounding and view of this beautiful lake. You’ll find a lot of people do Yak safari and even if you want to click a picture with them you’ll have to pay.

Next spot was Nathula Pass which is located at 14000 ft and serves as a India-China border, you can see soldiers from both the armies. This was my first time to see a border where at one step is one country and on the next step is another. It was fascinating to see how man has created boundaries so strong to build nations. I applaud all soldiers serving their country at such harsh conditions.

Last spot was Baba Mandir, this place is known as a wish fulfilling  temple, people specially come to here to pray and stay for a long time with a list of wishes.

You require permit to visit all these places, so make sure you get them before your visit.

Tashi view point

This point is known for its exotic views , usually tourists arrive at this place in evening to enjoy the mesmerizing sunset. Along with sunset you can also see how the sky changes its colours enhancing the beauty of the glorious mountains. If you are an early riser you can also enjoy sunrise at the same spot.

My trip to Gangtok was great fun and an experience of lifetime. You can also visit Gurudongmar Lake near Lachen and Yumthang valley near Lachung to enrich your experience of visit to Sikkim.

 

 

 

Yumthang valley of flowers covered in snow

Yumthang valley is popularly known as valley of flowers and is one of the most picturesque location in North Sikkim. This place is a renowned tourist location because of its scenic beauty apart from the flowers which are like cherry on the top. Yumthang valley was on my bucket list of my North Sikkim tour and was totally worth it.

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Yumthang valley is located at a height of  11800 ft. and a 6 hour drive from Gangtok. We already took our way to see Gurudongmar lake and in return stayed at Lachung which is 2 hours from Lachen. We took a night halt in Lachung. Yamthung valley is 1.5 hour drive from Lachung.

We started early morning and I was thinking maybe, I could see some flowers as we didn’t go in the best season for flowers.Our driver told us it snowed last night.

I was really excited to see the snow covered valley and believe me I was delighted to reach there.

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I was worried though how we were going in the snow without proper outfits and boots. As we reached near the parking there were many small shops to rent these things at a very nominal price. It was such a relief. During my entire Sikkim trip I admired the honesty and hospitality of the locals.

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The valley was fully covered in snow and the place looked beautiful. Some of my favourite pictures…

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Playing in the snow was absolute fun, valley was gorgeous but what next, I was hungry. We returned to the parking and had breakfast at the same place where we rented the boots, gloves and jacket.

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Best part is you get to eat with locals not in the fancy restaurants. Everything is very affordable and special thanks to Maggie, it is like the staple food here.

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Seeing so much beauty and satisfaction around makes me think life can exist in the most beautiful forms even at extremes.

We skipped the Zero point tour as we already saw the snow in the valley, but if you go and see the flowers and wish to see snow as well then you can definitely go to zero point.

Best season to go if you wish to see flowers is February to June and to see the snow covered valley is September to December.

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Gurudongmar Lake a glimpse of paradise

Beauty upholds itself hiding in the serenity dwelling between the laps of mountains, kissed by the blowing wind, shinning like a mirror gazing at you is the Gurudongmar Lake. This lake is situated at an altitude of 17100 ft. in North Sikkim second highest in India and in top 17 highest lakes of the world.

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It is popularly known for its immaculate religious importance and a belief in lot of people, that the water has healing powers. Near the lake you will see a place called “Sarva Dharma Sthal” it means a place for worshipers of all religion. I loved the name, as I truly believe religion should always bring us closer to God and not divide us through boundaries.

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Before you start the journey there are important pre requisites for a hassle free journey:

  • Permit needed to visit this lake as it is close to Indo Tibetan border
  • Bring your identity proof
  • Carry glasses with Polaroid and UV protection lenses to withstand heavy sun rays
  • Take some light food and water as journey is quite long
  • Sunscreen with high SPF
  • Medicines for nausea or any other frequent illness you have

Now that you have everything ready, let’s get started.

Most important of all cover as much as you can yourself, its really cold out there.

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How to reach Gurudongmar Lake?

At this height humans can’t possibly survive for long, so the residence nearest to this place is Thangu village which is located at 14000 ft. but this is again a very small village to take a stay.

It takes close to 9 hours to reach this place from Gangtok, which would make the journey tiresome, the best staying option is Lachen a town located at 10000 feet, you can reach the lake in 4 hours from here.

We took a night halt in Lachen and started early around 4.30 in the morning for Gurudongmar Lake. You can sleep in the car for some time but don’t sleep for long otherwise you will miss the most spectacular views of this adventurous journey.

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We stopped at Thangu for breakfast, please use the washroom otherwise you won’t get any till you reach and come back. You get Maggi and coffee in breakfast and have to pay for using washrooms. I was amazed to see people put locks to their washrooms as they are located outside of their house.

Locals are really welcoming and nice people, haven’t seen such hospitality anywhere. I was astounded by seeing so much of contentment with so less. In a one room house the entire family stays happily.

The day we visited there was slight snow on the roads that morning resulting in a jam. Our car got stuck, drivers were helping each other, our driver also tried a lot of times but the tyre was stuck in snow. That moment, I was wondering will I be able to make it, I didn’t want to go back empty handed.

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Kudos to our driver he managed to get the car out and we made it but lot of others were still stuck, we reached our final passing, which was the highest military base camp. Salute to all soldiers who are protecting the country and staying at such extreme locations.

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As we passed the gate, I was flabbergasted by the view, saw landmines for the first time in my life and finally reached to this dazzling Gurudongmar Lake which was partially frozen at that time and sparkling like a mirror.

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It is not recommended to stay here for more than an hour as oxygen is scarce and you might feel dizzy after sometime.

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Wind blows so high and loud shows you the power of the nature, you feel so tiny standing in front of these huge snow covered mountains. I was spellbound by the charismatic lake and enjoyed the silence, the view is still in my eyes and one of the best experience ever.

I returned with this awesome memory which I will cherish for life. The adventure was not over yet, the roads are really tough to drive and for miles you will not see humans. Always check with your driver that he has a spare tyre you might need one in the journey as we did.

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Just look at the poor tyre but thanks to God our driver was our lifeline, he fixed it quickly and we came back enjoying the beautiful way.

Several waterfalls and greenery adds to the beauty of the journey.

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Best season to go

As you read there could be odds like snow or storm it better to go in a favourable season well, November to June is the best time to go.

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Paragliding in Kamshet wonderful experience

Kamshet paragliding trip

My paragliding experience at Kamshet was an adventure assorted with fun, hope you savour the same by reading this experience.

Kamshet is located at 45 kms from Pune, the roads become rusty as you reach towards your destination. This location is huge and excellent for paragliding. Open space beyond your eyes can see. You must have your own vehicle for commuting, as this place is in outskirts and you won’t find any other option than a private vehicle.

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Do I know how to do paragliding alone? I wish, I could have done it alone but as I wasn’t trained, I had to go for Tandem Paragliding. Well it’s nothing technical, you can have the awesome experience without even knowing it. You will have a trained tandem pilot who would take you on the joy ride.

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What are you supposed to do then? Nothing enjoy the breeze with open arms at hundreds of meters of altitude. Is it scary, of course it is, otherwise what’s the fun in it? My pilot also did some flips in the air it was thrilling and an incredible moment.

Where to book?

Don’t make the mistake of going directly without booking as you might be disappointed. There will be several paragliding companies you can find which will offer you the experience, we booked it through “Nirvana adventures” which was indeed the best thing to do.

We chose to have our journey with “Nirvana Adventures” to book this breath-taking experience as they have the best trained gliders and facilities at their base camp.

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The camp is beautiful, surrounded by lush green trees. This place has absolute serenity which makes you feel like sleeping in lap of nature.

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We also had fun with friends exploring this place along with wonderful memories. The only thing which I regret was, we had to leave the place in one day due to work commitments.

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“Nirvana adventures” also offers other facilities like accommodation, food and airport pick up. So if you are bag packer nirvana does the work for you.

You can also learn to fly alone they offer different packages from a two day to week long courses. Isn’t it amazing? Next time I will make sure I fetch out one week’s time to visit this place and fly alone this time for much more thrilling experience.

Official site: www.flynirvana.com

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What are things you should definitely carry when you go for a one day trip?

You get nothing here at the spot where paragliding happens so do carry the essentials:

  • Bottle of water
  • Shoes
  • Sun glasses
  • Sun tan lotion
  • Snacks
  • Camera

Important tip

Paragliding is a complete weather and wind dependent sport, there could be last minute changes. I advice you to reach early. Usually a normal tandem trip costs around 2500 for 15 mins, it varies with the company you book with.

If you are visiting Pune, do take out some time to visit Kamshet to have this awesome experience.