2022 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Monday, December 26, 2022

All that you need to know about the new UAE visa reforms

Travelling to the UAE has become much simpler with the newest reforms made by the UAE government. Now you can take a luxurious trip to Dubai and the other Emirates in a more relaxed way, since the 60 days visa is finally here! The year 2022 saw a lot of changes being made to the visa reforms for the UAE as well as its residents. It is all about lesser working hours, extended stays for the investors and entrepreneurs coming to the UAE, and a lot more! Below, you can find out more about the 4 major reforms announced by the UAE government in 2022 that you should know about.

New Visa Schemes

A newly expanded golden visa program, a new 5-year green visa, multiple tourist visas, and an on-demand employment permit are among the many immigration changes introduced by the United Arab Emirates government in 2022. These can be considered the primary entry and exit visa changes in the history of the UAE.

Under these new reforms, investors and entrepreneurs worldwide can apply for a business visa without needing a sponsor or host. Furthermore, the new 5-year tourist visa does not require a sponsor anymore. It lets the visa holder stay in the UAE for 90 days, their stay can be extended for another 90 days. Temporary work visas have been introduced for foreign workers - those coming to work in the UAE on probation or project-based work.

Study/Training Visa:
This visa type is for individuals or students who want to attend any educational course, training, or internship program. The student or training visa can be sponsored by academic and research institutions in the public and private sectors.

Family Visa:
Formerly, parents could only sponsor their children under the age of 18 years. However, with the new reforms coming into effect, male children can now be sponsored for up to 25 years. Children having any kind of disabilities are also eligible to receive special rights. Furthermore, unmarried daughters can be supported by their parents indefinitely.

Work Visa
: This is introduced for individuals searching for better job opportunities within the UAE. This visa does not require a sponsor or a host. It will be granted to individuals with a Bachelor's degree or its equivalent, recent graduates from the world's top 500 universities, and those who are recognized as first, second or third skill levels according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

Green Visa
: The green visa is issued to skilled workers, freelance workers, self-employed people, etc. This five-year visa lets its holders bring their families to the UAE without requiring a sponsor or an employer. Other requirements include a Bachelor's degree or equivalent and a minimum salary of AED 15,000.

Golden Visa
: The UAE has announced a 10-year golden visa for many professionals and investors. This includes people investing "Dh2 million plus" in the real estate market, scientists, skilled workers, extraordinary students, talent-filled artists, and entrepreneurs.

Workers Reforms

No more stressing about lock-in periods with your employer contract! The United Arab Emirates government has abolished the 3-year cap on fixed-term employment contracts. Now it will allow the employer and employee to decide on the length of time they want to work together.

From October, the validity of the free local visa issued in the United Arab Emirates was reduced from 3 to 2 years. The grace period for leaving the country of UAE to have a residence visa cancelled has increased from 30 days to 60 to 180 days in most cases, depending on the type of visa.

From February 2022, workers can choose part-time work in addition to their primary job under the new labour law without requiring permission from their employer. They only need a part-time work permit and ensure they only work 144 hours every three weeks to avoid burnout and keep themselves healthy and safe.

Another great news is that now workers can change jobs more quickly because the new law prohibits employers from withholding workers' permits and forcing them to leave the country when the employment relationship ends. Instead, workers will be allowed to stay in the country and change their job. Employers will also be liable to make all the payments for recruitment costs without deducting any charges directly or indirectly from the employee's end.

4-Day Workweek

A good news for those who have always wished for their weekends to be longer! From January 1, 2022, the United Arab Emirates has shortened the work week and changed the weekend for the public sector. The work week has been changed from Monday to Thursday, with Friday being a half day. Official working hours are 7:30 am to 3:30 pm, Monday to Thursday and noon on Fridays. However, Sharjah has shifted to just a 4-day work week from January 1, with Friday, Saturday and Sunday making up the new weekend.

Emiratisation Law

The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) has made it compulsory for firms that have 50 or more employees that 2% of the company's qualified employees must be Emiratis. This will increase by 2% annually, reaching 10% by 2026. If this target is not met, a penalty of AED 6,000 per month will be collected from January 2023 for every Emirati who has not been hired. This would cost a firm AED 72,000 per year. The fine will be increased by AED 1,000 per year. Additionally, the fee levied as a fine will be more for bigger firms with more than 100 or more employees.

These were the 4 new reforms the UAE government made in 2022. We would like to see more such reforms into general laws of the government that will take the economy of the UAE to the next level and make this country every investor's go-to choice of land for their investments!

About The Author

Robeena Brown is a travel blogger & destination expert living in UAE and works for local tourism companies like Arabiers. If you have been looking forward to touring Dubai, getting a visa, extending your stay, and exploring the city, you can follow her on social media.

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How to plan a budget friendly trip to Manali

Stunning panorama of Manali city, Himachal Pradesh

One of the most well-liked tourist spots in India is Manali. Everyone enjoys visiting Manali at least once in their lives. Whether on a lone quest for inner peace and adventure, a backpacking trip with your besties, or a honeymoon getaway with your significant other, Manali and its mountains will never cease to captivate you. The budget-friendly trip to Manali will ensure you get a taste of the area's well-known tourist attractions, and its friendliness will compel you to return. It is the most popular vacation spot for first-timers and regular tourists who frequently travel here use the Manali taxi service. Here is a budget-friendly travel itinerary for Manali.

Budget friendly travel option

By Bus: This is the least expensive and fastest way to get to Manali. The greatest time to take a bus is after 9 PM because you won't miss the light of day. An average state bus will only cost you Rs. 800, but you will have to make some compromises in terms of comfort. A Volvo luxury bus will cost you between Rs. 1200 and Rs. 1500 per person.

By Air: The closest airport to Manali, Kullu Manali Airport (Bhuntar), is reachable by direct flights at reasonable rates, and you can generally find discounts on flights. Since there aren't any commuting services like Ola and Uber in this area, you can rent a car in Manali when you get there to get to your accommodation.

By Rail: There is no direct rail that goes to Manali. Manali's closest railway station, Jogindernagar, connects the mountain town to several significant cities. You can also go to Manali by train from Chandigarh and Ambala. From the railheads, you can opt for either buses/taxi services in Manali.

Tips and tricks for an unforgettable budget trip to Manali!

Hostels staycation

Beautiful Beas River Valley, Manali, Himachal Pradesh

When travelling on a budget to Manali, it is best to stay in hostels because hotel rates will be higher. You will get the opportunity to engage with other guests while staying at the hostel and be amazed by the cultural diversity and ethical standards. Any hostel stay would start at Rs. 250.


To make your 3 to 4-day vacation to Manali on a budget more enticing and refreshing, you must try the local cuisine. You will pay INR 400 daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Check out these Manali specialities to awaken your taste buds: khatta, sidu, babru, trout, patande, bhey, aktori, and tudkiya bhat.

Rent a vehicle for travelling

One of the best options is to rent a bike because it is less expensive. Depending on the sort of bike, you'll pay anywhere from Rs. 600 to Rs. 1500 a day. Alternatively, you can pay between Rs. 1500 and 2500 per day OR about Rs. 400 for a one-way trip from Old Manali to New Manali from an affordable Manali taxi service (approximately 2 to 3 km).

Budget friendly tourist attractions for Manali trip

Mall Road

Snow covered Manali

Manali's Mall Road is the busiest tourist destination for visitors to Himachal Pradesh and is frequently referred to as the city's centre. There is plenty to keep you busy for the day on Manali's Mall Road, which is well-known for its street shopping explorations and is bustling with a variety of activities.

Visit the Nyingmapa Buddhist Temple before continuing down the Mall road. It has the ideal fusion of architectural styles and vibrant tones to capture on camera. The main shrine's focal point is the Sakyamuni shrine. The Tibetan-style crafts on display are simply amazing, and they make the ideal gift that will fit the bill and not detract from your low-budget trip to Manali.

Winter Carnival

How about an affordable carnival? You're correct, of course! Winter Carnival is one of the best destinations for your inexpensive trip to Manali. Manali, one of the most exciting tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh, gets ready to ring in the new year with aplomb and celebrations each year around New Year's Eve.

Himachal Winter Carnival is the event's official name and is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive and exciting cultural experiences. The Manali Winter Carnival, the biggest tourism occasion in Himachal, promotes regional culture and winter activities to draw visitors during the slow winter season.

Old Manali

The tourist path crosses the Manalsu River bridge into Manali's "Old Manali" neighbourhood to see a different side of the town. The village's unusual charm will make you feel like you've entered another world. Visitors, especially lone travellers, who frequently praise the city as a place to unwind and relax. Old Manali is among the best places to visit on a limited-budget trip to Manali.

The Jogini Falls

Jogni Falls, another name for this magnificent cascade, is located 7.5 kilometres from Manali's bus terminal and 4 kilometres from Vashisht Temple. From the Vashisht temple, a 1.5-hour climb will take you to the waterfall. The entire stroll is gorgeous, offering breath taking vistas of Manali.

Solang Valley

Solang Valley is one of the incredible places to visit in Manali on a tight budget and is located between Beas Kund and Solang Village, 13 kilometres from Manali. The adventure activities in the Solang Valley, such as skiing, river rafting, and paragliding, are truly unique experiences.

Temple of Vashisht and Hot Springs

This 4,001-year-old temple, which lies 5 kilometres from Old Manali, is devoted to the ancient Indian sage Vashisht, who served as Ram and Lakshman's guru. This temple is well-known for its hot springs, which are revered and said to have healing effects on the skin. Both men and women have their own private, Turkish-style bathing cubicles.

Temple of Hidimba

Three kilometres from Old Manali, in the cedar-covered Dhun Giri Forest, you'll find a historic cave temple constructed in 1553. It is dedicated to Hidimbi Devi, a character in the Indian epic Mahabharata and the wife of Bhima. This temple is open every day from 8 AM to 6 PM, and there is no entrance fee.

Skiing at Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Make sure to find a package deal for river rafting, bungee jumping, paragliding, and so on, rather than a single one if you're feeling adventurous or wish to try some of the sports. When compared to paying for individual sports, package deals give you more for a lower price. Manali's lush green valleys and adventure sports will elevate your mind and soul and are worth every penny.

Note: The pictures 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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Tuesday, December 13, 2022

9 Tips for Safe Low Budget Travel

Handy Tips for Safe Low Budget Travel

Travel is a fantastic thing. It’s a great way to see more of the world, enjoy different cultures and experiences, and learn more about yourself and the world around you. But travel can be very expensive, and so it’s not something that we can all afford to do as much as we’d like to. The good news is that while you may not be able to go to the most popular or exotic destinations if you are on a tight budget, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy travel, without taking risks to your safety to save money. Here are some of the best tips for safe, low-budget travel.

Avoid Peak Season

Peak season is a more expensive time to travel, no matter where you are going. Flights, accommodation, and even activities once you arrive are more expensive at specific times of the year. Peak times usually include school holidays, high summer, and Christmas. Traveling outside of these periods can be significantly cheaper, and even moving your trip forward or back a week can make a massive difference in the price.

Avoid Tourist Hotspots

Tourist hotspots are typically places that are popular with specific groups, especially families, or places with lots of well-known tourist attractions. Staying away from these is an easy way to save a fortune on everything from accommodation to eating out and getting around. Staying away from tourist attractions can also mean that you get a more authentic experience and a chance to enjoy the local culture because everything hasn’t been changed to suit tourists' needs and wants.

Do Your Research

Avoiding tourist hotpots is a fantastic way to save money. But, sometimes, the tourist hotspots are the safest areas. They tend to have good healthcare services, and plenty of help if you need it. If you are going to head outside of the most popular destinations, you need to prioritize your own safety. Before booking, do some research into the area, the accommodation, and anything else that you may need to stay safe, and don’t stay somewhere cheap if you are worried about safety.

Travel Light

Nowadays, when we book flights with budget airlines, hold luggage is rarely included. You might think that you are getting a great deal until you add luggage options. The best way to avoid these extra costs is to travel light, if possible, fitting everything that you need into a cabin bag.

Shop for the Best Deals

One of the best ways to save money on travel and related expenses is to look around for deals, instead of just buying the first thing that you see. Compare flights and accommodation, use cashback apps and services, and look online for things like luggage and accommodation. Never buy anything without looking for a deal, offer or discount first.

This is also true when you arrive at your destination. There will be many providers offering the same excursions, activities, and souvenirs. Make sure you shop around and compare prices, and don’t be scared to haggle a little.

Book in Advance

When it comes to booking accommodation, flights, or package deals, we can often make the biggest savings by booking last minute. But it’s still worth booking in advance, especially around Christmas and other times when there might be large sales. However, booking the activities that you want to do when you arrive is almost always cheaper if you can book them before you leave home.

Fly Midweek and at Night

The most popular and sought-after flights are at the weekend, during the day. Most people would rather avoid flying very early in the morning, or during the night if they can, and flying midweek can make booking time off work more difficult.

If you are in a position to fly during the week and don’t mind flying at night, this can be significantly cheaper. Just make sure you factor in travel to the airport, which can be more expensive during the night.

Cook Your Food

Eating out is a wonderful treat and one of the parts of travel that most of us enjoy the most. But heading to a local market and cooking your own food is cheaper, and a great way to learn more about local produce and learn a new recipe to take home.

Walk Everywhere

Another big expense can be traveling around when you arrive. Try to walk as much as you can, or if this isn’t possible, look at travel passes for local public transport.

Instead of seeing your budget as a setback, see it as an opportunity. When we travel on a budget, we often visit places we might not have thought of if money wasn’t a consideration. We meet more local people, we learn new skills, and often, we enjoy a more well-rounded experience. As long as you stay safe, traveling on a budget can be a glorious adventure.

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Sunday, December 04, 2022

How To Enjoy Your First Trip To Cozumel

The tropical beach holiday destination of Cozumel, Mexico

It's usually a good idea to take a break every now and again. There’s no better way to unwind than to go on vacation. There are several places or destinations from which to pick. However, if you’re considering a trip to the Caribbean, Cozumel should be your first choice. It’s one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean Sea, located along the Mexican peninsula coast.

There’s a myriad of things to do in Cozumel. But, if you want the finest Cozumel experience, you must plan ahead of time. Planning ahead of time will guarantee that you don't miss out on the best that the island has to offer. That said, here’s how you can make your first trip to Cozumel a success.

1) Create A Travel Plan

Making a plan is essential since it simplifies everything. It gives your life structure and makes it easier to make informed decisions. Your plan should detail all the activities you want to do and the sites you want to visit. It should also include information on lodging, travel expenditures, and additional funds for items such as food and souvenirs.

Having a strategy in place helps you to create an accurate budget. This allows you to save enough money before the day comes. Before going there, give yourself time to research and become acquainted with the location. And may be book your fast ferry to Cozumel to ensure that you get the best deal. You may even hire a tour guide familiar with Cozumel to assist you. Also, don’t forget to create a comprehensive travel checklist to prepare for the trip.

2) Visit At The Right Time

Because Cozumel lies in the Caribbean, the weather is often pleasant all year. Cozumel's tropical weather makes it an ideal holiday location. However, due to seasonal variations, there are certain periods of the year when it is best to visit. Consider planning a trip to Cozumel between December and June, outside hurricane season.

3) Try Scuba Diving

Scuba diving probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you’re visiting Cozumel, you should probably include this on your bucket list. Stunning reefs surround the island. Most of these reefs are protected by the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park. As a result, you can be confident that these reefs are properly conserved and in excellent shape.

Diving is a fun activity that you can do all year. The diving experience will introduce you to various sea species, such as green turtles, seahorses, reef sharks, and nurse sharks. If it's your first-time diving, fret not. There's a good chance that you’ll be satisfied with your first diving experience.

4) Arrange Accommodation

In Cozumel, there are several accommodation options. There are also several Airbnb options available. If you book ahead of time, you may get some good discounts. Booking in advance will also provide you with peace of mind. Nonetheless, finding a location near the city center and close to the waterfront is recommended. This is perfect since you'll be close to most tourist hotspots.

5) Go To The Beach

The tropical paradise of Cozumel, Mexico

Your visit to Cozumel will be incomplete unless you visit at least one of the beaches. The island has both public and private beaches. One standout location is Paradise Beach which is found on the west coast. This is a terrific spot to visit because it’s part of the Paradise beach club, which includes a variety of additional facilities. You may swim in the pool, visit the water park, or dine at their restaurant.

6) Walk The City Centre

When you arrive in Cozumel, take a stroll around the city center. It’s very easy to navigate because it’s quite small. Because of its proximity to the ferry dock, Benito Suarez Park is a popular tourist hotspot. Tourists come here to take photographs and enjoy the scenery. Also, don't forget to walk down 5Ta Avenida Norte. It's dotted with stores, cafés, and restaurants.

7) Visit Mayan Ruins

Consider visiting the Mayan ruins on the island if you love sightseeing. Despite their small size, they can demonstrate the island's historical significance. The ruins of the San Gervasio complex in Cozumel are nowhere near the size of sites like Chichen Itza. However, it does provide a fascinating perspective on Mayan culture, daily life, and religion.

8) Visit Food Spots

If you consider yourself a "foodie," Cozumel is the place to be. Food, in some ways, represents a people's culture. Sampling the food in Cozumel will be a cultural experience through their cuisines, recipes, spices, cooking methods, and so forth. You may ask your local guide about the best restaurants on the island.


If you're considering visiting Cozumel, start planning your vacation as soon as possible. This will help you to generate an accurate budget. It gives you time to book accommodations, buy tickets, and make other arrangements that may result in big savings. Also, undertake as much research as possible to minimize unanticipated surprises. That way, you'll have a good idea of what you want to do when you arrive.

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Thursday, December 01, 2022

Customising your survival kits for your needs

Camping in the wilderness

No matter your experience level, going out on long journeys means taking a survival kit with you. While you can buy a lot of these pre-packaged, the best idea is usually to customise your own. This way, you’ll be covered for exactly what you need and where you’re going, without having to worry about being weighed down by useless equipment. As for what goes in your kit, that can be a complicated question.

Don’t Underestimate Tech

As tempting as it might be to go for the classic rugged explorer type of trip, devoid of technology, this is never a good idea. While you don't want to overload completely with technology, there are certain elements that you can't afford to ignore if you want to make your travels as safe and stress-free as possible.

The most crucial of these which all distant travellers should invest in is a reliable, sturdy power bank, and a backup phone with GPS navigation. Depending on where you intend to travel and for how long, you can also consider elements like a satellite phone, copies of your documents on storage devices, and power adapters.

The Survival Necessities

More analogue parts of a survival kit will depend highly on local weather and wildlife, but there are again elements that everyone needs. According to professional rescuers, there are six major components that every good survival kit requires. Communications and navigation can be covered by tech, but not the others. First aid should be among your first concern, alongside food and water, and the ability to start a fire. Finally, you need to have an appropriate way to find or build a shelter.

Consider how this would work in the warmer parts of India. If travelling here, water would be a bigger concern, but you'd be able to carry fewer supplies to aid with shelter. In colder climates, there might be less risk from mosquitoes, so you wouldn't need as much repellant.

Every area will have unique benefits and dangers, so it's best to spend time asking experienced travellers what you can expect before you leave. There's no point spending money on things you don't need, and carrying too much gear can leave you unstable and more prone to injury.

Practice with your Gear

Camping on the banks of River Ganges

Our final suggestion for perfecting your survival kit is to become intimately familiar with how each part of it operates. Being able to carry a manual with you to turn to isn't enough, a wise traveller knows every system off the top of their head.

You need to be able to set up your tent in fading light and high wind. You need to be able to apply first aid with limited mobility, and while exhausted. You should fully understand how the mapping and emergency systems on your phones work, and how to use them to the best effect.

With the right gear and preparation, you won’t just be safer, you’ll also be more comfortable. Without so much fear of what could happen, you can focus more on the adventure and having an unforgettable experience. Just be sure you don’t let overconfidence get the better of you, as caution when out and alone is always a good approach.

Photo Courtesy:
The pictures have been borrowed under the Creative Commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

What Is Overlanding and Why You Should Try It

What is Overlanding and why you should try it

Overlanding is a way to explore the world flexibly, on your own agenda, and with limited restrictions. With the right equipment, overlanding is a guaranteed adventure to be shaped as you see fit. This alternative to the all-inclusive holiday entails exploring the open roads, starry skies, and complete autonomy in nature. Read on to find out more about overlanding and all the reasons why you should give it a go.

A More In-Depth Look at Overlanding

Generally speaking, an overlanding adventure is mainly journey focused. A transient destination rules the agenda, and the main purpose is to experience as much as possible, in as many places as is functional. There are two recognized types of overlanding:

Short Term

Overlanding in this frame is more for a weekend adventure. This is an interim experience and either serves as an overlanding fix to see you through until the next big adventure or as a way to build up to a longer journey.

Long Term

This is all about the long journey. Overlanding journeys from hardcore enthusiasts may last for months at a time and this is quite typical of the hobby. A higher level of preparation and hardy equipment is required for this category, as you need to be ready for anything out there in the wild.

The Equipment Requirements

There are various items that you need from the mode of transport to the smaller details. A big journey will naturally demand a bigger suitcase and in-depth planning, whereas for a weekend, it is easier to move more flexibly. Therefore, depending on the time frame of the adventure, the list will fluctuate.

Let’s explore the requirements in more detail.

The Transport Factors

Above all else, the mode of transport you are using has to be up to standard. As overlanding tends to be on rough terrain, there is basic maintenance beforehand that should be observed. For example, check and double check all the tires and maybe invest in off-roading style wheels for the vehicle. Always carry a spare (or maybe two) as uneven roads pose more risk for punctures and flats. A repair kit for any problems that may come along is also a good idea, as it will save you from having to abandon the process entirely.

A 4x4 type vehicle is one of the better options to successfully accommodate off-road style driving. Some short-term overlanding trips can be bicycle based, but these are usually for a night or two given the restrictions in carrying supplies. Regardless of your chosen transport mode, getting to know your vehicle before you set off is essential. Make sure you at least are familiar with how to fix basic mechanical issues that commonly occur and have a toolkit somewhere close by.

The Basic Supplies

Overlanding takes you away from stores, city lights, and home comforts. So, everything you take with you has to meet your needs for the entirety of the trip unless you deviate from the plan and head back to civilization. The following list is all helpful to make a trip successful.

· A first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic, pain medication, and gauze

· Food items for the duration that are unlikely to perish within the timeframe

· Water for cooking, washing, and drinking

· A cooking implement such as a gas stove

· Solar powered charging devices for emergencies and recreational purposes

· A means of communication with the outside world, in case of emergencies

· A strong torch (or two) plus spare batteries

· Blankets and pillows, and warm, protective layers

· Essential hygiene items

· A multi-tool (plus knife) and toolkit

· Something to protect from the elements like a roof top tent with a hard shell design

Why You Should Give it a Go

This is not an activity for the faint hearted. It is an adventure heavy, wilderness-focused exploration of nature and requires patience, savvy, hypervigilance, and logic. If you want fun, to see the world from a unique perspective, solitude, breath taking experiences, and are comfortable in small spaces under the stars, these are all great reasons to give it a go. Here are ten reasons to embark on an overlanding adventure.

1. To learn survival skills

2. To experience the world through a different viewpoint

3. To find new parts of nature

4. To sleep under the stars

5. To find true peace in solitude

6. To have time alone with your thoughts

7. To step away from the hustle and bustle

8. It is less expensive than paying for a hotel and flights

9. The adventure will be unique

10. You can experience the local culture from an alternate vantage point

Be prepared for adventure, new horizons, and newfound peace. Whether the GPS signal is strong or weak, the weather is kind or impeding, or you come face to face with predators, there will be a story to be told when you return home.

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Monday, August 08, 2022

Anaimalai Tiger Reserve’s Lion Tailed Macaque: A Wild Photo Series

The Alpha Male Lion Tailed Macaque at Puduthotham Tea Estate, Valparai

This endangered primate is an old world monkey endemic to the Western Ghats of India. They are found exclusively in the Western Ghats mountains of Southwestern India in the upper canopy of tropical evergreen and monsoon forests. Also known as wanderoos, they are known for their striking silver mane and lion-like tail tufts. They play an extremely important role in seed dispersal. By transporting fruit in their cheek pouches and consuming long distances from where they were gathered, they drop or defecate seeds far from the mother plant and contribute to the survival and propagation of many plant species in their environment. I am talking about the extremely social lion tailed macaque.

One of the best places to see them up close in the wild is Puthuthottam estate, a hidden gem located in the buffer zone of the Anaimalai Tiger Reserve near Valparai in Tamil Nadu. I bring to you this wild photo series of the lion tailed macaque from inside Puthuthottam Estate. It is here that the lion tailed macaques are more trusting of us humans and they often leave their arboreal behaviour and come to the ground.

Above photo: This alpha lion tailed macaque keeps a keen eye out for any threats. Like other macaque species, the lion tailed macaques are also very cunning and often steal food from the homes of locals.

Puduthotham's lion tailed macaques stare into my camera lens

Above photo: We humans have caught the attention of these two female lion tail macaques and they seem to be tracking our every move. These lion tailed macaques are the pride of the Western Ghats.

The endangered primate - Lion Tailed Macaque

Above photo: Their greyish silver mane and their black coat is their main identifying feature. However, they get their name from their lion like tufts at the bottom of their tails.

Lion tailed macaque munching on wild fruit at Puduthotham Estate, Valparai

Above photo: Lion tailed macaques are primarily fruit eating primates. They are fond of jackfruits and wild durian. When they don’t find fruits, they will also eat leaves, flowers and invertebrates. They play a crucial role in seed dispersal in their habitat.

A Lion Tailed Macaque Portrait

Above photo: Male lion tailed macaques often stay alone in their group or they remain part of bachelor groups. This big one in picture is an alpha and heads a group of about 30 lion tailed macaques.

The look of a female lion tailed macaque at Puduthotham Estate, Valparai

Above photo: Female lion tailed macaques are smaller in size than the males. They usually stay in the company of other females within the group and produce one offspring every couple of years. The young are nurtured by their mothers until they reach puberty.

Lion Tailed Macaque digs into a wild jackfruit at Puduthotham Estate, Valparai

Above photo: Lion tailed macaques spend half the day foraging and the other half resting of traveling to find areas to forage. They usually have a set territory within which they forage. After foraging, they usually rest on the higher branches of trees.

Lion Tailed Macaque in its favourite habitat at Puduthotham Estate, Valparai

Above photo: Lion tailed macaques are social creatures that roam in troops of 25 to 30 with a single dominant male. In Puthuthottam estate, lion tailed macaques troops of even 100 members have been spotted quite regularly.

Lion tailed macaque enjoying its favourite meal - the wild jackfruit

Above photo: Lion tailed macaques are very intelligent and resourceful. For example, they use leaves to remove poisonous stingers from chrysalises before eating them. They also use forest litter to extract water from tree holes.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

14 Top Things to Experience in and around Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

Winding Himalayan roads surrounded by snow

India’s true Shangri-La, the 10,000 feet high hill station of Tawang in Western Arunachal Pradesh is home to ancient and rich Buddhist culture, unparalleled beauty, kind people and lots of hidden treasures. It’s spectacular landscape is made up of snow capped peaks, high altitude lakes, lush forests, smiling valleys, gurgling streams, picture perfect tribal villages and rich monasteries. It is here that one can see the heady mixture of breath taking vistas of Himalayan uplands, Monpa villages and the rich monasteries. If you are looking for a gorgeous Himalayan hill station with rich culture and beautiful vistas, then you should definitely visit Tawang in Western Arunachal Pradesh.

Below are the top 14 things to experience in and around Tawang. These experiences should definitely be a part of your dream Tawang holiday itinerary.

The pride of Tawang - Tawang Gompa

1) Tawang Gompa

This serene and majestic Buddhist monastery is the pride of Tawang. Located on a hilltop at an altitude of 10,000 feet and facing the Tawang town, Tawang Gompa is one of the older Buddhist monasteries in the world and the largest Buddhist monastery in India. A lot of Tawang’s culture and tradition stems from this very gompa. Founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyamtso, the Tawang Gompa is an epitome of Buddhist architecture and belongs to the Gelukpa sect. One of the main attractions of Tawang monastery is its huge gilded statue of Lord Buddha.

Tongpen La View Point, Arunachal Pradesh

2) Tongpen La View Point

Tongpen La view point is a gorgeous Himalayan vista located at an altitude of 15,150 feet above MSL. It is situated at Tongpen La, a high altitude mountain pass that connects the army base of Y junction with Bumla pass on the India-China army highway. This view includes the high altitude Tongpen lake and the snow covered Eastern Himalayas.

Penga Teng Tso Lake - a fantastic white setting

3) Penga Teng Tso Lake

Penga Teng Tso Lake or PT Tso lake is a serene looking high altitude lake located at around 12,000 feet in the Eastern Himalayas of Arunachal Pradesh. At about 23 kilometres from Tawang, PT Tso is located amidst sensational natural beauty with snow capped mountains surrounding it on all sides. This lake holds spiritual importance to the Buddhist community.

T Gompa near Sangetsar Lake

4) Tak Tsang Gompa

Tak Tsang Gompa or T Gompa is one of my favourite Buddhist monasteries in India. This remote and peaceful destination is so quiet that the only sound that you can hear is that of the wind blowing and your heart beating. Tak Tsang, which means ‘tiger’s den’ is a 12, 500 feet high Buddhist monastery located on the edge of a cliff in the Eastern Himalayas of Western Arunachal Pradesh. It is about 40 kilometres or 2 hours from Tawang. If self introspection or meditation is on your mind, this remote Buddhist monastery would be the ideal destination.

Sangetsar Lake from a distance

5) Sangetsar Lake

Sangetsar lake or Madhuri jheel is a high altitude lake in the Eastern Himalayas of Arunachal Pradesh that is considered holy by the Buddhists of India and Tibet. This remote lake, located at an altitude of 12000 feet, offers a heady mix of spirituality, awe inspiring mighty Himalayas surrounding it and eerie looking tree trunks jutting out of the lake. Sangetsar lake is located at about 30 kms north east of Tawang and it was where a few scenes of the movie Koyla (featuring Shahrukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit) was shot.

High Altitude and religious Sela Lake at 13,700 feet above MSL

6) Sela Pass and Sela Lake

Sela pass is a 13,700 feet high altitude Himalayan wonderland that connects the Buddhist district of Tawang with the rest of Arunachal Pradesh and India and it is known to be home to more than 101 lakes. Each of these lakes is considered very religious by the Buddhist community. One of these 101 lakes is the large Sela lake located on top of the Sela pass. Winding Himalayan roads of Western Arunachal Pradesh are an added thrill of this destination and one gets to experience such roads both while ascending and while descending Sela pass. Sela pass, which is covered in snow most months of the year is also a paradise for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Sela pass is more than just a pit stop that falls on the Bomdila – Tawang mountain highway. Its unparalleled rugged beauty, pristine mountain nature, exotic mountain birds, rich Buddhist connection and winding mountain roads make it a hot favorite in Arunachal Pradesh.

Jang Falls, Arunachal Pradesh, North East India

7) Jung Falls

Ranked as one the best waterfalls of Arunachal Pradesh, Jung Falls, lies in the valley between Sela and Tawang near the town of Jung. Fed by alpine lakes and snow streams, it tumbles in multiple steep steps into the river below from an appreciable height. The waterfall, which swells with water during the monsoons is a sight to behold. The waterfall, the hill stream below it, the surrounding greenery and the Himalayan mountains make it a top destination in the Tawang circuit.

Ugyenling Temple - Birth place of the 6th Dalai Lama

8) Ugyenling Monastery

The Ugyenling monastery, which is famous as the birth place of the 6th Dalai Lama, was built in the 15th century by Ugyen Zangpo, the youngest brother of Terton Pemalinga, the great treasure traveler. It is situated about 5 kilometres from Tawang and close to Tawang’s war memorial.

Inside the Ani Gompa along with the young Ani (nun)

9) Thukje Chueling Ani Gompa
Western Arunachal Pradesh is famous for its monasteries that are run by nuns. These Ani Gompas or nunneries are managed by sparkle-eyed nuns with clean-shaven heads. No male monks can be seen near these ani gompas. One such monastery is the Thukje Chueling Ani Gompa, that is located on top of a hill that faces the Tawang valley. This place is about 10 kilometres from the city of Tawang. Though this Ani Gompa is small in size, it makes up with its vibrant colours and unique surroundings.

War memorial stupa against the blue Himalayan sky

10) Tawang War Memorial

The Tawang war memorial, a pride of Tawang, is a 40 foot high memorial dedicated to the martyrs of the 1962 Sino-Indian war. This memorial, locally referred to as the ‘Namgya; Chorten’ has names of 2420 dead soldiers etched in gold on 32 black granite plaques. This war memorial, blessed by the Dalai Lama is nestled among picturesque snow-capped peaks overlooking the imposing Tawang-Chu valley. This scenic location ensures that the tourists get a chance to soak in pristine nature, while admiring the deeds of the Indian soldiers.

Western Arunachal Attire

11) Handicraft Emporium

If shopping is your thing, then you should definitely head to the Handicraft Emporium run by the Arunachal Pradesh government (open from 9 AM through 4 PM and situated close to the District Commissioner’s office). This is where you will find authentic goods from the wool weaving industry of Tawang. Shawls, carpets, chadars (wrap skirts worn by Monpa women), handcrafted bags and local tribal dresses are some of the more popular items to shop in Tawang. The other places to shop for in Tawang would be the Old market and the Tibetan settlement areas. Religious Buddhist goods (prayer wheels, flags, Buddha statues, wall hangings, good luck charms and other gift items), delicate chinese crockery, locally carved wooden utensils, traditional jewellery and yak cheese are some of the other things to shop for in Tawang.

Nagula Lake, Arunachal Pradesh

12) Nagula Lake

Nagula lake is a high altitude lake located at an altitude of 4,300 metres above MSL. This scenic lake is a delight for nature lovers and one can spot a number of Brahminy ducks around the lake. These ducks are considered lucky according to Buddhism. Located on the Tawang – Bumla road, the Nagula lake mesmerizes everyone with the beautiful reflection of the snow capped mountain peaks on its pristine waters.

At Y Junction

13) Y Junction

Y junction is a key military outpost on the Tawang-Bumla mountain highway towards the India-China border. It is here that the road forks into two. One heads towards T Gompa and Sangetsar lake while the other heads towards Bumla pass. This is a fabulous location to interact with the soldiers, have a cup of tea at the army canteen and enjoy the bleak and cold landscape.

Enroute to Bumla Pass

14) Bumla Pass

Bumla pass is one of the remotest mountain passes in the world. Located at an elevation of 15,200 feet, Bumla pass is a border pass between China’s Cona county in Tibet and India’s Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh. It is 37 kms from Tawang and is the old trading route between India and Tibet. It is here at Bumla pass that the fierce 1962 India-China war took place.

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Thursday, July 21, 2022

Pristine Vazhachal Rainforest Highway: A special road trip hot spot

The dense Vazhachal forest between Athirampally Waterfalls and Valparai

It is one of India’s most pristine rainforests. It is a fresh lease of oxygen in Kerala. It is one of the top tropical motorcycle routes in India. I am talking about Vazhachal forest that connects Valparai, the unsung hill station of India with Athirapally Falls, the Niagara falls of Kerala.

This forest highway, a plastic free zone, offers a beautiful mix of cloud rainforests, tropical rainforests, waterfalls, many reservoirs, mountain streams, tea estates, coffee estates, curvy ghat roads and oodles of greenery. It is also an important wildlife corridor as it connects the Anaimalai tiger reserve and Parambikulam tiger reserve with the Sholayar reserve forest, Vazhachal forest and Chimmony wildlife sanctuary. This highway is an integral part of the elephant migration corridor and that is why vehicles are not allowed to ply here between 8 pm and 6 am to prevent any elephant – human conflict. While you might spot wild elephants and wild gaurs on this route from time to time, you will almost always spot lion tailed macaques, bonnet macaques, malabar giant squirrels, nilgiri langurs and tropical birds of paradise if you drive slowly and keep a keen eye out for any movement amidst the dense forest cover.

For most people, the Vazhachal rainforest highway is just a means to connect to Athirapally falls, Vazhachal falls, Poringalkuthu reservoir, Sholayar dam, the vast tea estates and hill station of Valparai and/or the other tourist attractions in and around Valparai. But, for me, this rainforest highway is a destination in itself.

The Vazhachal forest highway between Valparai and Athirampally Waterfalls

For a few years during and prior to covid, this forest highway was open only to four wheelers. However, now, it is open for all vehicles. Four wheelers can ply between 6 am and 8 pm while two wheelers can ply between 6 am and 6 pm. Be prepared for forest checks at either ends of the Vazhachal forest highway. Plastics of any kind is banned inside the forest and loud silencers are also banned.

Monsoons are the best time to visit this rainforest highway, though you need to ensure that your vehicle tyres and brakes are in top condition and that you are fresh and confident enough to negate poor visibility, heavy downpours and slippery roads. Landslides are quite common on this highway during the monsoons and this might cause a few delays.

I highly recommend this route to all motorcycling and road trip enthusiasts. However, do ensure to carry all your trash back with you. This rainforest is a nature and wildlife hot spot and it is our responsibility to ensure that it thrives in the years to come. Do visit on your next trip to Valparai or Athirapally falls and let me know what you think of this absolutely gorgeous and dense jungle.

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Monday, July 18, 2022

6 Things to Know Before You Visit Palm Beach, Florida

Palm Beach, Florida

Palm Beach, Florida, is one of the world’s best travel destinations. The island of Palm Beach is known as being a glitzy paradise for the rich and famous. Palm Beach has historical landmarks, stunning mansions, and scenic water views. The town is on a barrier island in Palm Beach County, separated from nearby cities like West Palm Beach.

There are dozens of billionaires that are residents of Palm Beach, and throughout history, it’s been home to U.S. Presidents and politicians, moguls, and celebrities.

If you’re thinking about planning a visit, following are six things to know before you go.

1. Driving in Palm Beach

If you’re flying into the Palm Beach area, you may want to rent a car to get around town. Public transportation is limited. If you are going to drive in Palm Beach, there’s a lot of scenery to take in. Just be mindful of the many other drivers on the roadways. Most are likely to be tourists, so they’re not familiar with the area as well, increasing the risk of accidents occurring.

Palm Beach is only 16 miles long, and to the west, it’s bordered by the Intracoastal waterway. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean.

2. Bike the Lake Trail

Lake Bike Trail, Palm Beach, Florida

One of the popular things to do in Palm Beach is biking the Lake Trail, which is 5.5 miles, running parallel to the Intracoastal Waterway.

There are views of Palm Beach estates to the east and then the skyline of West Palm to the west.

There’s a massive kapok tree along the way and coral towers on both sides of the passage where North Lake Trail comes together with Country Club Road.

3. Shopping Worth Avenue

Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, Florida

Worth Avenue is one of the must-sees of Palm Beach.

Worth Avenue is known around the world as a beautiful area for shopping and dining. The Mediterranean architecture is a draw on its own, even if your budget only allows for window shopping.

Worth Avenue was one of the first places on Palm Beach Island that was developed. It was established in 1913, and it was originally a residential street until the 1940s. Along with shopping and dining, you can take a historic walking tour, enjoy the art galleries, or stop in and have a cocktail at the many eateries and lounges.

4. When To Visit

The summer months can be swelteringly hot in Palm Beach, which is why the high season tends to start at the end of fall when the crowds are still small. It goes through the winter, but if you wait until the holiday season to go, there will be crowds, and you’ll pay a premium.

Hurricane season for Florida is in the fall, so this is something to be mindful of as you plan your trip as well.

5. Where to Stay

One of the most well-known and luxurious hotels in Palm Beach is the Breakers. The historic hotel is designed in the Renaissance Revival style. Henry Flagler originally opened the hotel in 1896 as a way to accommodate travelers on the Florida East Coast Railway.

In 1973, the hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Breakers is currently an AAA five-diamond rated resort and has been since 1996.

The Colony is another historic hotel that also happens to be incredibly colorful. The Colony Palm Beach has just 89 rooms, and you’re within steps of Worth Avenue and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Chesterfield is a more moderately priced option that’s still elegant. This hotel is also historic, and it’s surrounded by palm-lined streets, near Worth Avenue.

6. Other Things to Do

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, Palm Beach, Florida

Some of the many other can’t miss options in Palm Beach include:

a) Have breakfast at Green’s pharmacy. The lunch county is where President John F. Kennedy would have breakfast when he was in town, and the menu and overall atmosphere remain pretty much the same.

b) The polo season runs from January through the end of April, so consider going to the International Polo Club Palm Beach. There’s a champagne brunch every da Sunday during the season.

c) If you want to grab a sandwich to take to the beach, head to the family-owned Amici Market.

d) You can take a boat or water taxi to Peanut Island, where there’s an 80-acre county park. This is where you’ll find the Palm Beach Maritime Museum. It was at one point a Coast Guard station and the presidential bunker for President Kennedy.

Finally, if you love animals, go to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, which is a non-profit that helps rescue endangered sea turtles.

Photo Courtesy: Each photograph in this article has been borrowed from wikipedia.org under the creative commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page on wikipedia.org.

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Monday, July 04, 2022

Puthuthottam Estate: The Hidden Gem of Anaimalai Tiger Reserve

Lion Tailed Macaque in its favourite habitat at Puduthotham Estate, Valparai

It is a 3000 acre estate comprising of tea gardens, coffee plants and native trees that is located just a few kilometres before Valparai, the unsung hill station of India. It is surrounded by the forests of the Anaimalai tiger reserve on all sides and it itself falls in the buffer zone of the Anaimalai Tiger Reserve. It is a great destination to spot diverse wildlife and birdlife and this specifically holds true for the lion tailed macaque, a primate species endemic to this part of the Western Ghats. I am talking about Puthuthottam Estate, the hidden gem of Anaimalai Tiger Reserve.

A Wild Indian Gaur stares just 50 feet from me at Puduthotham Estate, Valparai

Puthuthottam wakes up to its usual jungle music every morning. The Malabar whistling thrush whistles in all its glory. The black rumped flameback woodpecker’s drilling sound reverberates in the woods. And some times, you can even hear the gruff guttural calls of the Great hornbill and may be hear its iconic wing beat and see it as its flies overhead. As you excitedly wake up to these gorgeous sounds and step out of your wildlife bungalow, you can catch sight of the greater racket tailed drongo dancing from tree to tree with its long tail and head crest shining in the golden morning light. Bulbuls, quails and babblers can be seen amongst the coffee plant thicket. And you can spot grey hornbills, barbets, myna, oriental magpie robin and flycatchers if you look a bit higher into the trees.

Black Rumped Flameback woodpecker at Puduthotham Estate, Valparai

As you get ready and go on your morning walk, you can spot even more birds like the beautiful scarlet minivet or the regal crested serpent eagle. As you continue walking amidst the mesmerizing sounds of the jungle, your tea garden trail opens into a panoramic view with mountains in the yonder and dense jungle below. If you opt for the narrow jungle trails, you can come across the wild Indian gaurs grazing in front of you or the Lion tailed macaque, Bonnet macaque or Nilgiri langur dancing from tree to tree, socializing or digging into their favourite food. I did not get to see any wild elephants on any of my wildlife walks, but my forest guide told me that wild elephant sightings are very common between the months of October to December as Puthuthottam falls on their annual migratory route.

As you finish your breakfast, the lion tailed macaques (the special citizens of Puthuthottam) make their appearance. They have just made their way from the forest to Puthuthottam. They will forage for food, socialize and rest in and around Puthuthottam before returning to the forest somewhere between 3 and 4 pm. Puthuthottam is one of the few places in the Western Ghats where the lion tailed macaques have left their pure arboreal existence and can be seen quite frequently on the ground. This is because of the trust that they have built with the people of Puthuthottam. This human-macaque happy co-existence ensures that you see the lion tailed macaque at very close quarters at Puthuthottam. This also means that it is one of the best places to photograph the lion tailed macaque in the wild.

The Alpha Lion Tailed Macaque keeping a keen eye out for threats

When I was staying at Puthuthottam Annexe, I saw lion tailed macaques right in front of my bungalow. I saw them at Woodhouse Mansion, during one of my wildlife walks in the forest and next to the Puthuthottam tea factory as these primates were making their way back to the lion tailed macaque bridge to cross into the forest for the night. Me and my friends tracked a group of 30 plus macaques on multiple occasions and on multiple days. It was a great experience to see their behaviour at such close quarters.

As with other wildlife destinations, the wildlife of Puthuthottam start getting active as the sun starts setting. This is the best time to spot wild Indian gaurs, sambar deer and barking deer. We were extremely lucky to spot a large herd of wild Indian gaurs (about 50 plus gaurs including an alpha male, young males, females and calves). Not only did we see them at a distance of about 50 to 100 feet from us, we were also able to move with them for close to a kilometre before we gave up due to the lack of natural light.

Crested Serpent Eagle at Anaimalai Tiger Reserve, Valparai, Tamil Nadu

We even spotted a slow loris in the tree while returning from our dinner at Woodhouse Mansion. It was our powerful flashlight that reflected its eyes from the dark and upon a closer look, we noticed its revolving head and slow movements.

It doesn’t matter whether you are sitting at your wildlife bungalow, going on a wildlife walk, having breakfast or returning to your bungalow post dinner, you are never too far away from wildlife at Puthuthottam.

Wildlife and Birding Sightings - Puduthotham Estate, Valparai - Page 1

Most visitors go to Puthuthottam to photograph the lion tailed macaque or to see the gaurs and elephants at close quarters. But, there is so much more to Puthuthottam than sighting these three animals. Staying amidst pristine plantations and forests, waking up to the call of the Malabar whistling thrush, feeling super excited at the helicopter rotor whirring sound of the Great Hornbill flapping its wings, experiencing the behaviour of the lion tailed macaque at close quarters, walking along some surreal views, feeling the raw thrill upon seeing a 2500 kilogram gaur at no more than 50 feet from you and when you are on foot and having the entire forest to yourself are some of the reasons why I love Puthuthottam estate, located in the buffer zone of Anaimalai tiger reserve. This hidden gem of Anaimalai holds many surprises. I have visited it three times and each time, I have absolutely loved my time there. And I can’t wait to return in November to see more hornbills and track wild elephants on foot.

Wildlife and Birding Sightings - Puduthotham Estate, Valparai - Page 2

Key things to remember while you are visiting Puthuthottam Estate:

1) Wear sturdy shoes as you will be required to walk long distances

2) Carry sunglasses and a cap/hat to protect you from the mountain sun

3) Carry rain wear or an umbrella with you in case you are visiting during the wet season

4) Leeches are quite common during the wet season. So be prepared for them accordingly

5) Most of the time, it is safe to be with children on these trails. However, do exercise caution for self and others, if there happens to be wild gaurs or elephants in the vicinity

6) Try to stay quiet to get best sightings in wild habitat. If you make a lot of sound, the animals might go to some other place or at worst case, they can chase you

7) Carry some trail mix, energy bars and water with you when going on these trails

8) Carry a flashlight with you if you like early morning or late evening walks

Best season to visit:

Puthuthottam estate is open all year round and each season will allow you to see the forest and its wildlife in a new light.

October to December is excellent for spotting wild elephants and for great hornbills.

Puduthotham's lion tailed macaques stare into my camera lens

How to reach there:

The nearest airport would be Coimbatore international airport. It is located about 111 kms from Puthuthottam estate and it should take you close to 3 and a half hours to reach here.

The nearest railway station would be Pollachi Junction. It is located about 63 kms or 2 hours away.

The nearest bus station would be Valparai. If your bus happens to be coming from Pollachi or Coimbatore, you can get down at Puthuthottam Estate located just before Valparai. If you are traveling from Kerala, you can get down at Valparai and take a cab or bus to reach Puthuthottam, about 5 kms away.

Where to stay:

Only the guests of Briar tea bungalows are allowed into Puthuthottam Estate as it happens to be a private property owned by the Woodbriar Group.

If you want the best wildlife experience, I would recommend that you stay at the 100 year old Puthuthottam Annexe bungalow that is located right in the middle of the Puthuthottam estate and is regularly visited by birds and wild citizens.

If Puthuthottam Annexe is not your kind of property, you can stay at any of the other properties belonging to Briar Tea Bungalows and plan morning walks here.

An early morning walk through the lush green Puduthotham Estate near Valparai

Where to eat:

If you are staying at Puthuthottam Annexe, your meals would be at the Woodhouse Mansion. The menu and meal times would be mutually agreed upon in advance based on the timings of your wildlife walks and your food preferences.

If you are staying at any of the other properties of Briar Tea Bungalows, you might have hot or cold beverages at Woodhouse Mansion, but your meals would be at your place of stay.

Attractions in Puthuthottam Estate:

1) Tea Estates: The main attraction of Puthuthottam is its sprawling tea gardens, its plantation walks and its many panoramic view points.

2) Coffee Estates: In addition to tea garden, Puthuthottam is also home to coffee estates, though it is on a much smaller scale when compared to the tea gardens.

3) Forest Stretches: In between its tea and coffee estates, Puthuthottam has many stretches of native forest that attract the wild visitors.

4) Birdwatching: Great hornbill, grey hornbill, black rumped flameback woodpecker, crested serpent eagle, malabar whistling thrush, scarlet minivet, jungle babbler, hill myna, bulbul, barbet and many other species of birds can be spotted here.

5) Wildlife: Lion tailed macaques, elephants, gaurs, Malabar giant squirrels, sambar deer, barking deer, Nilgiri langurs, Bonnet macaques and many other wildlife can be seen here.

6) 184 year old Woodhouse Mansion: One of the earliest bungalows in Valparai, time stands still at Woodhouse Mansion. Lion Tailed Macaques also drop in here every day.

7) 100 year old Puthuthottam Annexe: It used to be the tea manager’s bungalows in its hey days. Today, it is the only place to stay at Puthuthottam Estate for tourists. It is home to 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a balcony. And it is located right in the middle of tea gardens, coffee estates and tropical forests.

A Large herd of Wild Indian gaur just a few 100 feet away from Puduthotham Annexe property, Valparai

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Nallamudi Poonjolai: A fabulous view point tucked within the Valparai hills and inside the Anaimalai Tiger Reserve

2) Sholayar Dam: Asia’s 2nd deepest dam nestled in the pristine Anaimalai hills of Tamil Nadu

3) Athirapally Falls: The Niagara falls of Kerala

4) Vazhachal Falls: A tropical forest waterfall located near Athirapally falls

5) Vazhachal Forest: A fresh lease of oxygen in Kerala

6) Hike to Nadumalai River: A pristine picnic spot surrounded by tea estates and nature

7) Tea Estates of Valparai: For a rich tea estate and factory experience along with surreal views

8) Poringalkuthu Reservoir: A remote water body nestled in the tropical rainforests of Vazhachal, Kerala

9) Aliyar Dam: A large dam just before the climb to Valparai begins from Pollachi

10) Monkey Falls: A beautiful waterfall located on the ghat road from Pollachi to Valparai

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