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Summer Holiday - Top Tourist Destinations
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With the holidays knocking at your door and friends firing emails, planning the next vacation is on everyone’s high priority lists. Here are two unique holiday destinations that many lists usually miss but they are worth every minute.
Okay, we admit that the last time someone mentioned Uzbekistan they had their noses buried deep inside some spy thriller! While Uzbekistan might never surface in any holiday plans this is, in fact, a place whose history makes it unlike any other destination. Three of the famous cities on the Great Silk Road- Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva are located here and just about everything here is seeped in history.
Samarkand, a city that is over 2500 years old, was refered to as ‘The Radiant Point of Globe’, and is famous for its unsurpassed beautiful fabrics, velvets, silk, carpets, metal work, leather, jewelry, and its famous Samarkand paper.
One of the very few cities in the world that is in complete open air, Khiva is often called the museum city. An important centre for trade and science, Khiva is full with architectural wonders like minarets, mosques and mausoleums.
Then there is Shakhrisabz, the birthplace of the great Tamerlane; Fergana Valley or the pearl of the East and Tashkent, the capital forever connected to India with the signing of the Tashkent Accord that bought an end to the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
Blessed with culture, cuisine (many suggest Uzbeki rice dish Palov to the precursor to our loved Biryani) and lots of exotic shopping… Uzbekistan is that memorable holiday you’ll never have again.
• Getting there: The Delhi-Tashkent return fare on Uzbekistan Airway is anywhere between INR 39,000-45,000.
• Staying: Malika Khiva Hotel (Khiva) is well rated and so is Grand Hotel in Samarkand as well as Dedeman Silk Road Hotel in Tashkent.
• Cost: Depending on the city Uzbekistan would cost a single person approximately INR 5000-7000 per night.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Forget the exotic foreign beaches and look beyond the done-to-death havens like Goa and you’ll discover Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Although they have been out there for the longest period, the beauty and the joy of these islands can be always be considered the flavour of the season. The pristine sands, the clear blue water, the idyllic sun and the all round greenery; these islands can almost be mistaken for Eden.
Blessed with a rainforest roof that consists of over 2000 varieties of plants out of which over 1300 can’t be found in mainland India, Andaman & Nicobar Islands have an excellent mélange of natural beauty and rich historical past. Known to have habitation since the last 60,000 years the islands were also home to the brave freedom fighters that were imprisoned in the Cellular Jail, Port Blair by the British. Besides a wonderful natural retreat the islands also offer a wide array of adventure sports making them a truly once in a lifetime escape.
• Getting there: All major airlines operate regular Kolkata/ Chennai--to Port Blair flights. The return journey fares start at INR 13,000 onwards. Alternately there are ships from Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam to Port Blair with fares starting at INR 1500.
• Staying: Choose between a range of options starting from INR 6,000 on twin sharing basis. Hotel Sinclairs Bay View and Sea Princess Beach Resort are two of the better options.
• Cost: A six-days all-inclusive holiday packages starts at INR 30,000.
If traveling is happiness so what happens when you travel to the happiest country in the region? The sleepy mountain kingdom of Bhutan has been voted as the happiest Asian country and the 6th in the world.
So, what makes this quaint nation so happy? One of the reasons citied is the limited number of development and tourism by the government but that doesn’t stop them from welcoming Indians. You don’t need a visa to visit and the local currency is at par with the Indian Rupee and English is a widely spoken.
Commonly regarded as the last Shangrila, the natural beauty of the kingdom Bhutan with its indigenous birds, the peaceful mountains and the deep Buddhist culture is the roof of the world.
This is a place where locals don’t overwhelm even the likes of Leonardo Di Caprios! Incredible natural beauty and an unbeatable combo of peace and happiness, escaping to the ‘Land of the Peaceful Dragon’ is just over Rs 7,000 ex-Delhi.
• Getting there: Druk Air, Bhutan’s official carrier operates from Delhi, Kolkata, Siliguri and Guwahati to Paro, Bhutan.
• Staying: Hotel Olathang in Paro is the largest hotel in Bhutan and overlooks the beautiful Paro Valley. Tiger’s Nest Resort is just 10 minutes from the heart of Paro and offers a direct view of the Taktsang Monastery; this place is a lovely blend of traditional Bhutanese design and modern amenities.
• Cost: Bhutan would cost you approximately INR 7000-8000 per night on twin sharing basis.
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