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Friday, December 10, 2021

Ellora Caves: The 6th Century Rock Cut Temple Wonder

Gorgeous Kailasa temple of Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

Let me start off by telling you that photos and videos hardly do justice to this place. Even up close, you have to do many 360 degree circumambulations and many top, side, interior and exterior views to grasp a small percentage of its artistic and scientific beauty. Such is the aura of this place that you will simply gape in wonder at its gorgeous monstrosity.  
Carpenter's cave at Cave 10, Ellora Caves

It’s excavation engineering and architecture was so advanced for that era and quite possibly even in today’s time that many experts are floating theories of extra-terrestrials coming to lend their advanced technology to us humans in the 6th century to help build these cave temples. Every bit of this 6th century rock cut temple wonder evokes reactions of awe, wonder and disbelief. It deservedly holds the title of UNESCO World Heritage site, but its architecture is so magnificent that I don’t know why it is not listed as one of the seven wonders of the world.

Intricate carvings on the lower deck walls of Kailasa temple, Ellora Caves     
It is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world. I am talking about one of India’s richest heritage destinations – Ellora Caves that is located near Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra. One can also see it in the back side of the twenty rupee Indian rupee currency note. It is best to base yourself at one of the Aurangabad hotels and explore this entire region that is so full of rich history, heritage and culture 
Dating from the 6th century CE, this UNESCO World heritage site houses monuments and artwork dedicated to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It’s rich architecture, stunning sculptures, gorgeous carvings and inhuman excavation capabilities make it one of India’s best cultural heritage sites. Along with the 2200 year old cave wonder called Ajanta Caves, the name ‘Ajanta Ellora’ is synonymous with rich cultural heritage of India. Both these cave temples, insanely beautiful in their own right, are part of each visitor’s travel itinerary. While Ajanta is more famous for its paintings and frescoes, Ellora is popular for its sculptures, carvings and monstrosity in engineering.
Admiring the view of Ellora Caves Kailasa temple - one of the top wonders of the world     
The main highlight at Ellora Caves happens to be Cave 16 or the Kailasa temple. This chariot shaped monument dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world. While Kailasa temple can keep you dumbfounded for hours, each of the 34 caves of Ellora have magic in them that will blow your mind. Be it their sheer size, gorgeous sculptures, engineering, architecture or storytelling, each of these 34 caves of Ellora offer something of interest to its visitor. 
The magnificent Kailasa temple at Ellora Caves, Maharashtra     
Ancient volcanic activity created multi-layered basalt formations, known as the Deccan traps. It is these rocky outcrops in the Western Ghats that became the starting point for the architects of Ellora. Ellora caves were built across various time periods by different dynasties. The Hindu caves came first (550 to 600 CE), then came the Buddhist caves (600 to 730 CE) and then finally some more Hindu and Jain caves (730 to 950 CE).
Inside the Jain temples of Ellora     
When you are at Ellora, getting ready to explore, you can explore the caves by chronological order, by sequential order and like I prefer by the time of the day as the sun shines on different caves at different times of the day.    
If you are starting right after an early breakfast, you should try and do the Hindu and Buddhist temples first as the sun shines on them in the early hours of the morning. Keep Kailasa temple or Cave 16 for 11 AM through 2 pm as that is when the overhead sun illuminates the entire temple area. And finally, keep the Jain temples for post lunch.
The top view of Kailasa temple, Ellora     
If you wish to explore the caves properly, it will take you a full day to explore and do be prepared to walk a lot and climb many flights of stairs. You can either break for lunch before visiting Kailasa temple or go right after. Don’t miss the opportunity to see Kailasa temple from the top of the hill. This view will help you appreciate the gargantuan task of the excavation as this entire temple was chiselled top down from a mountain.     
Lord Shiva and Parvati - Cave 15, Ellora Caves      
Most people spend a lot of time at Kailasa temple as it is the most magnificent with a free-standing multi-level temple structure that covers an area twice the size of the Parthenon in Athens. Carved out of a single piece of mountain from top to down, Kailasa temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva is considered a ‘wonder of the world’ among rock-cut monuments.

Mahisasura Mardini Statue at Ellora Caves, Aurangabad

But, there are other temples that are equally beautiful, but in a slightly different way. For example, there is

1) Cave 15 or the Dashavatara temple, that is known for its large sculptural panels that include the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, death of demon king Hiranayakashipu, Gangadhara, marriage of Shiva and Parvati, Markandeya, Garuda, dancing Shiva, Andhakasura and more.

Shiva Parvati marriage - Cave 15, Ellora Caves

2) Cave 21 or the Rameshwar temple, that is famous for its carvings depicting goddess Parvati’s pursuit of Shiva, Parvati and Shiva at leisure, Parvati’s wedding to Shiva, dancing Shiva, Sapta Matrika, Goddess Durga and Goddess Ganga and Yamuna amongst others.

Parvati and Shiva at leisure - Rameshwar temple, Cave 21, Ellora

3) Caves 5, 10, 11 and 12, that are architecturally important Buddhist caves. Cave 10, also known as the Carpenter’s cave, is a multi-storied building with a cathedral like stupa hall and a 15 foot statue of Buddha seated in a preaching pose. Various levels of this cave feature large sculptures of male and female deities, such as Tara, Avalokiteshwara, Maitreya, Majusri and more. Caves 11 and 12 are famous for the mandalas carved into the walls and Bodhisattva-related iconography, belonging to Vajrayana Buddhism.

The inner shrine at Kailasa temple, Ellora

4) Caves 30, 32 and 33, that are smaller than the Buddhist and Hindu caves, but are known for their detailed carvings and gorgeous sculptures. Cave 30 or Chotta Kailasa, Cave 32 or Indra Sabha and Cave 33 or Jagannatha Sabha are adorned with beautiful carvings and hold historical significance about active worship by the Jain community.
Stunning carvings on Kailasha temple, Ellora caves, Maharashtra     
Ellora caves is that kind of a place where photographs, videos, audio guides, tour guides and written literature hardly do justice to its true persona. It has to be seen up close and in person for one to be mesmerized by it and to gaze in disbelief at its aura, size, beauty and sheer feat of engineering.
Ellora caves is the pride of India and if I were to say, it is the pride of humanity too as it is the kind of monument that makes us dream big and one that makes us believe in the impossible. This 6th century rock cut temple wonder certainly features in my list of the ‘Seven wonders of the world’ and I wouldn’t even battle an eyelid before recommending this UNESCO World Heritage Site with multiple thumbs up. Along with the nearby Ajanta caves (which is another UNESCO World heritage site), they are home to some of India’s richest cave temple architecture.
Gorgeous carving on the walls of the Hindu caves at Ellora, Maharashtra     
Ellora Caves Ticket Fees:

The fee for Indians and SAARC nationals is INR 40 per person. The fee for foreign nationals is INR 600 per person. Do remember to carry your original ID Card (passport for foreign nationals) and cash.

Izi.Travel have great audio guides that you can download on to your smartphone and play at every cave. This audio guide is free of cost.

Government approved tour guides are available at Ellora Caves. Prices would depend on group size and duration.

Shiva as Natarajar - Cave 15, Ellora Caves    
Ellora Caves Timings:

Ellora caves is usually open from sunrise to sunset (6 AM to 6 PM). However, timings might differ during the winter months when the days are shorter.

Ellora caves is closed every Tuesday.    
Ellora Caves Kailasa Temple at a glance
Must Visit Caves at Ellora:     
1) Cave Number 16 or Kailasa Temple

2) Cave Number 10 or Carpenter’s Cave

3) Cave Number 15

4) Cave Number 21 – Rameshwar Temple

5) Cave Number 31, 32 and 33 – the Jain temples
Parvati's wedding to Shiva, Rameshwar temple, Cave 21, Ellora
How to reach here:     
The nearest airport, railway station and bus station would be Aurangabad. It is well connected with the rest of the country.

Aurangabad airport is about 7 kms from the city center and about 25 kms from Ellora caves. Aurangabad railway station and bus station are in the city center and are about 20 kms from Ellora Caves.

One can either take a bus from Aurangabad to Ellora Caves or hire a cab or auto rickshaw to commute between Aurangabad and Ellora Caves.
Dancing Shiva, Cave 21, Ellora
Things to keep in mind while visiting Ellora Caves:     
1) Ellora caves is spread across a fairly large area. So be prepared to walk a lot and also climb a few flight of stairs.

2) Sunglasses, a hat or cap, sunscreen, good pair of walking shoes, a bottle of water and a nutritious snack should be on your person at all times.

3) Do opt for an audio guide or a government approved guide to understand the full history of this magnificent place. Else, Ellora caves will feel just like a bunch of rocks to you.

Kailasa Temple, Ellora - a side view

4) The best way to explore Ellora caves would be to start as soon as they open the site. Have a comfortable breakfast and visit all the sites where the sun is shining (the Hindu and the Buddhist caves). Keep Cave 16 or Kailasa temple for between 12 noon and 2 pm as that is when the sun shines on this gorgeous structure. You could either have lunch before exploring Kailasa temple or afterwards. I would recommend exploring post an early lunch as that will allow you to experience this majestic temple at peace. After exploring Kailasa temple, take the bus towards the Jain temples. The setting sun makes these caves look better in the second half of the day.

5) Carry your ID card (passports for foreign nationals) and local currency (in cash) with you at all times.

6) Carry a torch or flashlight with you to see the paintings and frescoes in the dark areas of the caves.
Parshvanatha guarded by Yaksha Dhanendra with his 7 hoods - Cave 31, Ellora
Best season to visit:     
Summers can get oppressively hot here and can be avoided unless you wish for some solitude. Monsoons are the most charming as that is when the terrain is lush green and the waterfalls are in full flow. However, you would need to carry an umbrella or rain wear to handle the heavy monsoon rains.

The best and the most popular season to visit Ellora caves would be the post monsoon months between October through February. The days are brighter, the temperatures are comfortable and there will be hardly any rain. However, this is also the main tourist season. So, if you opt for this season, do be prepared to jostle amongst lots of fellow visitors.    
Gomteshwara statue - Cave 31, Ellora

Where to stay:     
There are simple hotels and guest houses near Ellora caves if you wish to stay close to the location.

If you don’t mind driving the 20 km distance from Aurangabad, you will find everything from luxury hotels, AirBnB, guest houses, budget hotels, hostels and more in the city of Aurangabad. I suggest using aggregators like Cozycozy, which not only offer you the best diversity in terms of property and price, but they also offer you the greatest access to the airport and easy access to the other tourist attractions.
Jain statue at Cave 33, Ellora Caves
Where to eat:     
There are a whole bunch of restaurants around Ellora Caves that serve simple and traditional Maharashtrian meals. While these places are great to eat at when you are exploring Ellora Caves, the better options are all in Aurangabad. My personal favourites are:

1) Bhoj Thali restaurant at Central Bus stand in Samarth nagar– that serves the best vegetarian thali meal in the whole of Aurangabad. The Thali is a mix of Rajasthani and Gujarati cuisine.

2) Gayatri Chaat bhandaar at Gulmandi for some delicious Halwayi foods like Kachori, Samosa, Aloo wada and Moong bhajiya.

3) Lucky juice centre at Paithangate for milk shakes, juices and faloodas, and

4) Tara paan centre at Usmanpura for one of Aurangabad’s famous paans
Lord Varaha killing Hiraniyakashyap - Cave 15, Ellora Caves
Other nearby tourist attractions:     
1) Ajanta Caves: The 2200 year old rock cave wonder that is also a UNESCO world heritage site 

2) Daulatabad Fort: A 12th century fort city that prides itself on its virtually impregnable defence system and that stands tall even today   
3) Bibi-Ka-Maqbara: A 17th century monument that looks like a mini Taj mahal and that was built by Prince Azam Shah, son of Emperor Aurangzeb as a loving tribute to his mother   
4) Panch Chakki: A religious tourist spot and a medieval water mill

5) Aurangzeb’s Tomb: The simple resting place of the last strong Mughal Emperor

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Monday, December 06, 2021

Ring in the New Year by Visiting the Best Places in the US

All of us are looking forward to saying goodbye to 2021! The tumultuous year is finally coming to an end and there is excitement and the air is charged with energy. The world is ready to travel again and if you are on board some beautiful sights await.

One of the places famous for bringing in the New Year in style is the United States. Pick your spot and enjoy the lights, music, celebrations, and the company of your loved ones.

Also read: 11 Top Things to do in Off Beat Bikaner

Best Places in the US to celebrate New Year 2022

1. Honolulu, Hawaii:

Aerial view of Diamond Head, Honolulu, Hawaii

Are you tired of going to a black-tie event and want to sit back and enjoy the fun things in life? This is your chance! Welcome the New Year in a tee and shorts and join the crowd at Waikiki Beach and Aloha Tower Marketplace. The waterfront boasts a carnival, a beer garden, food trucks, and lots of options of entertainment for kids to enjoy. This is one vacation that is family-friendly and the kids are sure to remember these vacations for years to come. Bringing in the New Year at the beach is more fun with feature themes, dress-up parties, and the best music in town. This is the most tropical New Year celebration you can be a part of.

Also read: Top 10 Things to do in Jodhpur, Rajasthan

2. Walt Disney World, Orlando:

Witnessing the fireworks around the Disney castle can be one of the most fascinating sights and dreams come true for many. You can experience the mesmerizing beauty of Disney with food and drink and enjoy the celebrations till late at night in the Animal Kingdom. Your night will only get better with the live band and the wonderful music.

3. Las Vegas, Nevada:

Night Aerial view of Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

Needless to say, Las Vegas is the party hub of the US. The famous fireworks show in Las Vegas attracts tourists from all over the world. Las Vegas has everything you need to welcome the New Year in style, the extravagant parties, the stunning view, the best show, and crowds who celebrate the New Year together despite being strangers.

4. New York City, New York:

Times Square, New York

Every corner of this city is buzzing with parties, celebrations, decorations, and the spirit of New Year’s. One of the most electrifying cities in the world, New York has the New Year jewel, which is Times Square. Almost a century-old tradition of watching the ball drop in Times Square brings together people from all over the country and the world.

Also read: 10 Top International Holiday Destinations for less than 1 Lakh Rupees

5. Miami, Florida:

Miami Beach, Miami, Florida

If you are a fan of beach parties, the biggest and the most amazing one is held in Miami. You can enjoy the divine beaches and witness fireworks and a countdown party along with a dinner cruise.

6. Lake Tahoe:

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Enjoy a quiet and low-key New Year celebration at Lake Tahoe with a party by the lake, music festival, fireworks show, and casino resorts.

Also read: Top 10 Off-Beat Honeymoon Destinations in India

Important Documents & Things to remember while Traveling to the US

1. Check New Travel Updates After COVID Crisis:

The US is all set to welcome travellers from around the world. The only rule is that every individual should be vaccinated and they should have an RT-PCR test with a negative report done within 72 hours of their travelling time. Under some exemptions, children under 18 don’t need to be vaccinated but must have taken the COVID test. Children below 2 years are exempted from testing requirements.

2. Apply for Tourist Visa in Prior:

The visa requirements for those travelling from India have not changed. Anyone travelling must have their US tourist visa from India pre-approved. Therefore it is vital to apply for a visa much in advance. Before you apply for your visa, you should have a list of places you are going to visit. The documents required for procuring a visa are as follows:

● Original Passport and it should have six months validity dates after arrival in the USA.

● All old passports.

● Digital and Hard Copy of the photograph as per the defined specifications.

● Interview Appointment letter.

● DS160 US Visa Application confirmation page stamped at the Visa Application Center.

● Payment receipt of the fee paid.

3. Bookings Flights & Accommodation in Advance:

It is advisable to book your flights in advance as last-minute bookings can cost more and you may not get the booking of the date you wish to travel on. Booking in advance for accommodation also helps tremendously as a lot of places are filled to capacity during this time of the year.

4. Buy Travel Insurance:

It is strongly advised to have international travel insurance that will keep you safe from financial losses. In case of medical emergencies, you may end up spending from your pocket and the cost of healthcare may leave a dent in your savings. Not only that, international travel insurance protects you when you face unfortunate incidents like loss of passports, loss of baggage, or rescheduled flights. An international travel insurance ensures you have a stress-free vacation and enjoy the moment with your loved ones.

Also read: 4 Advantages of Buying Travel Insurance Online

These best places for ringing in the New Year are the places where you can participate and be a part of a bigger celebration. Looking at the unpleasantries of the past year, each one of us long to celebrate New Year like never before. So hold on as we ring this New Year in style in fascinating places at the US.

Note: The photographs are courtesy of wikipedia.org and have been borrowed under the creative commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page on wikipedia.org.

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Friday, November 12, 2021

Maybod: Iran’s Ancient Desert City on UNESCO’s Radar

A brown Maybod view

UNESCO calls it ‘A remarkable example of viability and transmission of human being’s collective thoughts from different generations to the present one’. I am talking about the historical desert city of Maybod in the Yazd province of Iran. This ancient city that goes back to the pre-Islamic era is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site tentative list. It is known for its traditional architecture that can be seen through its ancient roads, old castles and other remnants of the historical city.

Architecture housing underground water system at Maybod

Maybod was once the capital of Iran during the Mozaffarid period and is home to Narin castle, one of the oldest castles in Iran dating back to the Sassanid era. This mud-brick fort castle standing 130 feet high from its base incorporates mud bricks of the Medes, Archaemenid and Sassanid periods. Although built some 6000 years ago, it seems to have some kind of a plumbing system built into its massive walls. One can see more examples of such water works through other buildings housing underground water systems, which is a rarity in the middle of the desert in that day and time. The Narin castle is also a great place to catch a good view of the Maybod cityscape including its brown buildings. Other noteworthy historical buildings in Maybod are Chapar khaneh, Karavansaraye Abbasi and pigeon house.

Maybod is an offbeat gem on Iran’s rich archaeological trail that deserves a place in your Iran holiday itinerary. It’s desert landscape, beautiful rustic atmosphere and rich history make for a fascinating visit. I definitely recommend a visit to Maybod even if it is just a day trip from Yazd.

6000 year old Maybod Castle, Iran

How to reach there:

The nearest international airport is Shiraz, about 500 kms or 6 hours away, but the airport with the better connectivity would be Tehran international airport at 542 kms or 5 hours 45 minutes away.

The nearest large city would be Yazd, about 55 kms away and Isfahan is a 3 hour drive away.

Road travel is the best option to commute between the different cities in Iran as the road connectivity is excellent and the transportation is fast. Buses between Isfahan and Yazd and Tehran and Yazd are available at periodic intervals. Hitchhiking is common and if you have the money, you can always hire a cab or personal vehicle to explore on your own.

Train travel is a possible option, but it is very slow, unpredictable and can be avoided.

Pigeon house at Meybod, Iran

Where to stay:

If you prefer the authentic desert experience and wish to stay close to the action, there are home stays, traditional hotels and budget guest houses in Maybod.

If you prefer some creature comforts and wish for a city environment, head to Yazd.

For something more luxurious, you can try the luxurious properties at Isfahan.

Maybod city as seen from the Maybod Castle

Where to eat:

For simple home cooked meals, try your places of stay at Maybod and other basic restaurants.

For something more exotic and for a sweet tooth craving, head to Yazd.

The desert city of Maybod, Iran

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Yazd: Of wind towers, zoroastrianism and a sweet tooth

2) Na’in: Gateway to the Iranian Desert

3) Verzaneh: Iran’s largest sand desert and home to some of the largest sand dunes in the world

4) Isfahan: Iran’s iconic cultural hub and half the world

5) Shiraz: One of the oldest cities of ancient Persia

6) Persepolis: Jewel of Persia

7) Kashan: A desert city known for its rich Persian history, amazing creativity and fabulous architecture

8) Kharanaq: Iran’s ancient, crumbling, abandoned and photogenic mud brick village

9) Abyaneh: Where time stands still in Iran

10) Maranjab Salt Desert: A scenic pit stop on the the ancient silk road

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Thursday, November 04, 2021

A guide to some of Russia’s best museums

Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia

If you are traveling to Russia, one thing you will notice is the abundance of museums. Major cities like St. Petersburg and Moscow are full of museums, both big and small.

And to visit every museum in the city would take up your entire trip. However, we’ve got it covered for you! In this article, we have listed some of the museums you need to visit while in Russia. Note that you should have a proper Russian travel visa to tour across the country.

Here are some of the museums that you should pay a visit while in Russia:

The Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage is a renowned museum located in St. Petersburg, Russia. If you are into art and culture, this is a museum you shouldn't miss out on. You will be amazed by the exhibitions that take you back to imperial Russia. The place is magnificent and is often considered the largest museum for art.

The museum has a vast collection varying from prehistoric art to Russian art. It's worth every minute, and you probably get to brush up on your history knowledge. Also, the entry fee is free for students and children under eighteen years. Note that the museum is closed on Monday.

Memorial Museum of cosmonautics

Monument to the Conquerors of Space, Moscow

Another museum that you should visit while in Russia is the Memorial Museum of cosmonautics. It is found in Moscow, the capital of Russia. If you are intrigued by space exploration, you need to visit this museum. In addition, you will learn about astronomy, space exploration and flight history.

Furthermore, it is also known for its rich collection and brilliant architecture. A visit to this museum helps you get insight into Soviet space exploration and how it has gained dominance. The museum is closed on Monday but is open the rest of the week.

The Tretyakov Gallery

Vasily Surikov - The Morning of the Streltsky Execution - Tretyakov Gallery

Another famous museum that you should visit is Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. It is one of the important art museums in Russia. If you are in the capital, this is a gallery worth visiting. You will see exhibitions that dated many centuries ago of Europe and Russia.

The gallery helps you to get a peek into the history of Russia and its evolution. A trip to this gallery will leave you amazed as it is home to famous paintings by prominent artists of Russia. It is like a national treasure for the fine arts. The ticket fee to visit this gallery is free for students and children.

The State Russian Museum

Karl Brullov - Last Day of Pompeii - The State Russian Museum, Moscow

The State Russian Museum is a prominent museum that showcases the works of Russian artists. It is found in St. Petersburg at Grand Duke Michael's residence. Furthermore, you get to delve into the history of Russian arts and its evolution.

It is a museum that showcases the art and artists of Russia. Also, over 38,000 artworks date back from the 10th century till to this day. If you are curious about Russian arts and their evolution, this is a place you should visit. Note that the museum is closed on Thursday and free entry for children.

Mosfilm Museum

If you love cinema and are intrigued about Russian film history, then you should visit Mosfilm Museum. It is found in Moscow, and the place is a visual treat. The museum has diverse collections, from costumes to cars used in popular films. There are also stage sets of well-known films such as Anna Karenina and war and peace.

Note that it's a guided tour, and it can be in groups or individuals. In addition, you need to make an appointment in advance. The tour will take about 1.5 hours, and it's open daily.

Note: The photographs in this article are courtesy of wikipedia.org and have been borrowed under the creative commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page on wikipedia.org.

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Friday, October 22, 2021

The Beauty of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A Travel Photo Series

A postcard view of sunset at Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island, India

The tropical island paradise called Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the South Eastern ocean waters of India can be seen in many vibrant shades. It’s rich emerald waters, pristine beaches, lush tropical forests, mangroves, tribal cultures and rich diversity in terms of people, food, forests, flora, fauna and landscapes make it an archipelago of unparalleled beauty. People visit these islands to snorkel or scuba dive or just to enjoy a relaxing beach holiday in a budget tropical island paradise. I have been privileged to have explored this island at length many times in the past and am delighted to share its beauty with you through these travel photos. I hope these photographs entice you to plan your upcoming holiday to this tropical archipelago wonder.

Above photo: Andaman and Nicobar islands is blessed with spectacular sunsets. This particular one was shot at Asia’s best beach – Radhanagar beach or Beach no. 7 at Havelock island in Andaman Islands.

The tropical Butler Bay Beach in Little Andaman

Above photo: It takes a while to reach this island from Port Blair, but the journey is totally worth it. This is the absolutely clean and pristine Butler Bay beach in Little Andaman, where you have the entire beach and its nature all to yourself.

Tourists relaxing at the secluded Elephant Beach

Above photo: A trek through tropical forests and mangroves brings you to this secluded white sandy beach. As it is not easily accessible, the general public usually avoids it, but if you have are game for a bit of adventure, you will really enjoy Havelock Island’s Elephant beach. It is perfect for a picnic beach outing with a book in hand and lots of peace and quiet around.

An ultimate view of Bay of Bengal from a large crevice in the Limestone Caves overlooking the ocean

Above photo: Andaman and Nicobar islands are full of limestone karsts and caves. This blue view of Bay of Bengal can be seen from a large crevice inside a limestone cave in Little Andaman.

Hermit crabs in seashells live happily at Beach No. 3, Havelock Island

Above photo: With extremely low levels of pollution and a fairly undisturbed surroundings, nature thrives here. A case in point are the hermit crabs that can be seen in thousands at Beach No. 3 in Havelock Island.

Massive Tropical Trees by the Radhanagar Beach

Above photo: A hot favorite with visitors, Beach No. 7 or Radhanagar beach is known for its white sands, gorgeous waters and spectacular sunsets. But, for me, the massive tropical trees lining the beach are its main highlight. I wish that these trees stay like this for many more generations to come.

Kalapathar Beach - A horizon view

Above photo: Havelock island is full of untapped beach walks where you are one with your surroundings. This one is the offbeat Kalapathar beach. All you have to do is rent a scooter, ride to this part of the island, park it by the beach, remove your footwear and walk barefoot on these smooth silver sands.

North Bay Beach, Andamans

Above photo: This is the view that greets you as you arrive from Port Blair by boat to North Bay beach. Popular with locals, North Bay is known for its gorgeous beach setting and old light house.

Jolly Buoy Island in the Marine National Park

Above photo: This is the view of Jolly Buoy Island inside the Marine national park, a great place to snorkel and to see a pristine island/beach ecosystem.

Virgin Beach Stretch on Jolly Buoy Island

Above photo: Jolly buoy island beaches are as virgin as they can get. With minimum visitors and boats allowed here, exotic flora and fauna thrive here. I sincerely wish I could stay here for months together.

Way into Mangrove Swamp and to goto Limestone Caves, Baratang Island

Above photo: Baratang Island in central Andamans is known for its mangrove swamps and limestone caves. This sultry boat ride takes you through the heart of the mangrove swamps and towards the massive limestone caves and their gorgeous stalactites and stalagmites.

The sun has nearly set in the Andamans

Above photo: You are never far from a gorgeous sunset in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This is one such sunset, I saw as I was departing on my evening fishing expedition.

Silver sands of Beach No. 3, Havelock Island

Above photo: Havelock Island’s Beach No. 3 is popular with visitors as it has calm, warm waters, beautiful white sandy beach and lush greenery. 3 perfect elements for a perfect beach holiday.

Nature has the final say - Ross Island

Above photo: Such sights are quite the norm at ROSS Island. Many old buildings here used during the British rule have been taken over by the roots of the Banyan tree.

A Bench's eye view - Beach No. 5, Havelock Island

Above photo: This was the view from my place of stay. The stay was a humble bamboo cottage with just a fan, while the view was worth a million stars. I enjoyed many afternoon naps, book reads and photography sessions here.

Fishermen set out for their evening fishing chores!!

Above photo: This part of the beach happened to my regular haunt as this was the place where I learnt my open water fishing. Me and my friend would accompany the local fishermen every evening for a month to catch fish. Even though I am a vegetarian, this was a memorable experience for me.

The Lighthouse, the place of my first scuba dive near Havelock Island

Above photo: This was the location of my first scuba dive. Called ‘The Light House’, this place is known for its rich coral reefs in shallow waters and a great environment to entice beginners into the world of scuba diving.

The Ultimately slow Ferry that takes passengers and vehicles aboard to Baratang Island

Above photo: Baratang Island in central Andamans can be reached through a combination of a road trip and a ferry ride. Buses, four wheelers, motorcycles and people use this ferry to reach Baratang Island. The ride is painstakingly slow, but the gorgeously green views compensate for the slow ride.

Cellular Jail, Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India

Above photo: The infamous Cellular Jail (Kaala Paani), a colonial prison where Indian independence activists were jailed and tortured and hanged.

The mangove beach of Havelock Island

Above photo: A sign of a good coastal system lies in its mangrove forests as it is these forests that protect the island from tsunamis, storms and erosions. This is one such mangrove forest at Havelock Island.

Mangroves and Tropical Rainforests of Baratang Island

Above photo: One of the most dense forests of Andaman Islands can be found at Baratang Island. The tropical evergreen forests, rainforests, grasslands, shrubland and mangrove forests make for a rich forest ecosystem.

There is where the Kaala Pani punishment was given

Above photo: The infamous location where the famous Kaala Paani punishment was meted out. A location with a great view, but a gory past.

Corbyn's Beach, Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India

Above photo: This is Corbyn Cove beach, a popular beach location at Port Blair and a favorite with the locals.

Evening Sky at Port Blair

Above photo: Another one of Andaman’s famous sunsets. Here the sky has turned multiple shades of orange at Port Blair, the capital of this Union territory.

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